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Sep 29

The X-Axis – w/c 25 September 2023

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

EDIT: Oh, hey, I completely forgot about Ms Marvel: The New Mutant #2. That’ll happen when there’s still no functioning subscription mechanism for digital comics. Ideally, Marvel would dump Amazon entirely and use Marvel Unlimited as their primary vehicle for selling new comics, since for all its problems, it’s still a vastly better product than anything Amazon has to offer. But anyway, I’ll add Ms Marvel to the bottom of this post, and in the meantime…

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #106. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Lynne Yoshii, Fer Sifuentes & Travis Lanham. You might remember that the epilogue to X-Men #24 has Magik dropping off Sunfire in Otherworld so that he can look for the missing Redroot – and then jumped forward to “X Months Later” with Sunfire and Redroot on the verge of death in a blizzard. Well, this is the start of that storyline, which feels a lot more consequential than the last few issues already. After all the point of rescuing Redroot isn’t just to free her, it’s to let people talk to Arakko. Which seems like iti might be important to X-Men Red.

So, in this first part, a characteristically overconfident Sunfire shows up at the Crooked Market and simply demands that Jim Jaspers hand Redroot over. As it turns out, Jaspers has got so bored waiting for anyone to remember this storyline that he’s already got rid of Redroot, so he does a typically questionable deal with Sunfire and then packs him off on a quest across Otherworld to rescue her. And that’s what we’re getting, from the sound of it – Sunfire tours Otherworld. Fair enough, as an opening scene. I’m not the biggest fan of Otherworld, but nobody else is using it right now, and it feels like there could be some potential in putting Sunfire there, because he doesn’t exactly seem like the type to be charmed by whimsical fantasy either.

JEAN GREY #2. (Annotations here.) Well, it looks like we really are doing four issues of What If…? with Jean Grey centred storylines, the loose idea being that this is her personality reconstituting itself after death, or finding its way back to life, or something. That’s all fine with me, though I have to wonder if it’s really what people were expecting from a Fall of X tie-in.

Issue #1 did the Silver Age, so this time it’s Phoenix, and the obvious question of what would have happened if Jean had let someone else take the big cosmic bird. That sort of cuts against a whole lot of continuity which tries to establish that the Phoenix was interested in her for other reasons, but if this is all in Jean’s mind then who cares. In some ways, I’m actually more interested in these stories if they’re not remotely real, and the angle is that we’re supposed to read something into the fact that Jean imagines it playing out this way. The logical hook here is that Wolverine volunteers to fly the ship, because with hindsight we know he’s got a healing factor that makes him a much more sensible choice anyway. That then leads to Phoenix Wolverine racing off to avenge himself on Weapon X, and a bunch of stuff about the Scott/Jean/Logan romantic triangle.

There’s some very nice art on this, and the Phoenix always makes for a striking visual. On the other hand, while it’s trying to get to a conclusion where Jean realises that only she can handle the Phoenix, I’m not sure it really works. For one thing, the story presents Phoenix as a straightforward energy being that’s attracted to passion, which unhelpfully demystifies it – and playing pass the parcel with it in the climax doesn’t help either. For another, the story kind of blithely overlooks the fact that the original storyline ends with Jean becoming Dark Phoenix and committing genocide, and… nothing here actually seems worse than that? If the alternative is a world where Scott and Logan destroy one another and take Weapon X with them then… um, is that not better? Maybe the idea is that the Phoenix would end up with Jean anyway, so the extra damage achieves nothing, but it doesn’t say that. Or maybe the idea is that Jean’s focus on Scott and Logan’s fate rather than, you know, that planet she killed, says something about her priorities… but that’s kind of subtle and seems an odd direction to take.

REALM OF X #2. (Annotations here.) You might think that a four-issue dream scene would be as peripheral to “Fall of X” as it was possible to get, but somehow this excursion to Vanaheim feels even more marginal. In itself, that’s not a problem – the further a tie-in is from the centre of “Fall of X”, the more I tend to like it, and this is simply a mini that happens to be occasioned by the mutants being in exile. At first glance this looks like generic fantasy, but in fact there’s a fair amount going on to make Vanaheim more distinctive than that. The basic angle of a society with a heavy emphasis on prophesies that they know are mostly accurate but still changeable is a nice one, and using Saturnyne as a villain gives it some anchor to the regular X-books. The art is perfectly solid, and Curse is well used. The main issue here is some very questionable interpretations of Typhoid and Magik, who feel wildly out of character to me. I can kind of buy the idea that Magik feels depressed and marginalised by not having access to her powers, and not being able to help more directly – at a push. But I just don’t get what this spoilt princess take on Typhoid has got to do with the basic concept of the character. It seems to miss the point of her entirely.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10. By Gerry Duggan, Juan Frigeri, Bryan Valenza & Joe Caramagna. Of Gerry Duggan’s three “Fall of X” titles, this is the strongest, if only because the rapport between Tony Stark and Emma Frost seems to work. It actually may work better in Tony’s own book, where he’s a more rounded character, since as a guest star he can often feel unsympathetic. This issue does in fact do the wedding of Tony Stark and Emma Frost – repeating the set-up scene from X-Men for the benefit of this book’s readers – though it’s a shotgun wedding in Vegas. And what’s more, the story goes out of its way to stress that Tony is marrying Emma’s “Hazel Kendal” persona, who doesn’t really exist, so that it can all be conveniently cancelled when the storyline is over. But it sets up the two of them having to hang around one another for the rest of the arc, which is the real point of this, and that’s fine.

The more immediate plot mechanics… um, yes. The idea seems to be that Tony and Emma are manipulating Feilong into showing up to crow at their shotgun wedding, so that Emma can take off her power inhibitor ring, raid Feilong’s mind for important data, and then wipe his memories of anything of the sort happening. Which would be fine, except… the rationale for them having this wedding is a need to explain away why Feilong saw Tony giving Emma the ring… when she’d already taken it off… in a room with no one else around… so…. um, why didn’t she just do it then, if it’s that simple? It works in the moment – we need a nice clear win for the good guys at this point in the story – but the more I think about it, the more I think, hold on…

STORM #5. By Ann Nocenti, Geraldo Borges, Andrew Dalhouse & Ariana Maher. The final issue of the mini. There’s a lot I like about this series. Even though it’s more Nocenti than Claremont, it does somehow capture the vibe of the X-Men circa Uncanny #175. It’s refreshingly dense – it certainly benefits from re-reading as a whole, because you’re supposed to remember things like Storm telling Rogue to pull her punches three issues ago. There’s a nice energy to the art, with an appealing sketchiness and some great lighting in this issue. Whether it sticks the landing, I’m not so sure. The basic theme here is about the competing sides of Storm’s personality, her then-recent sudden jump to her quasi-punk look, and whether all her different aspects can be coherently integrated. The villain is meant to provide a contrast with that, by literally being a Jekyll and Hyde figure of sorts – except the “nice” guy is a con man, and Blowback is physically powerful but just acts on the other personality’s impulses, in a more direct way. But the series spends quite a while setting up red herrings and winds up leaving Blowback’s back story until the last minute, and we end up with a final issue that feels like it’s more about him than it is about Storm. Still not a bad story, though.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – DOOMSDAY #3. By Marc Guggenheim, Manuel García, Cam Smith, Yen Nitro & Clayton Cowles. The first couple of issues of this series were doing somewhat interesting material about how society slipped slowly into the Sentinel takeover. That feels like an underexplored aspect of Days of Future Past, and one with some obvious wider relevance – even if the middle of “Fall of X” was a bad time to be doing the story. With this issue, though, we’re deep into the Sentinels and Hounds stuff, and it really is difficult to see what this sort of expansion is adding. It’s not badly done, but it doesn’t feel like something that was needed.

MS MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT #2. By Iman Vellani, Sabir Pirzada, Carlos Gómez, Adam Gorham, Erick Arciniega & Joe Caramagna. What we have here is a pretty strong Ms Marvel idea – her mash-up fanfic creations haunt her in her dreams – mixed in with the Orchis stuff. And while it’s not dialled up to quite the absurd levels that we get in other books, it’s still a bit of a dirge that can’t really explain why almost nobody is standing up for the mutants. In fact, it pretty much lampshades the fact that this doesn’t make any sense. That would almost make me think we were heading to a mind control idea down the line, if it wasn’t for the fact that all the build-up has been about propaganda and the like. There’s stuff to like here, but in no way is it a better book for tying in to “Fall of X”.

Bring on the comments

  1. So your encapsulation of the Jean issue led my mind down a hole with the realization that Wolverine might not have been originally written by Claremont with a specific healing ability in mind, and that’s why he wasn’t the obvious pilot candidate? Was this common knowledge I just never clicked on to? I did some research in this whole and found the healing wasn’t textually acknowledged until the tail end of 1978?

  2. Michael says:

    We’re told that if Emma uses her powers on Feilong at the Club, the Sentinels would be there within a minute and a half. Which explains why she couldn’t just invade Feilong’s mind right then. But that doesn’t explain why the Sentinels didn’t come after Emma and Tony when they invaded Feilong’s mind in Vegas. Do the Sentinels in Vegas have a slower reaction time in Vegas? The plot COULD have worked if Duggan threw in a line of dialogue like “Angelica told us Orchis is having trouble with their Sentinels in Las Vegas due to some weird electromagnentic anomaly”. But as written, there’s no reason why the Sentinels will be on Emma immediately after she uses her powers in New York but will take their time if she uses them in Vegas.
    Of course, the whole “Emma can’t use her telepathy without the Sentinels immediately coming after her” makes no sense, since no other telepath in Falll of X, even in Duggan’s books, seems to have this problem.

  3. Michael says:

    I didn’t like the Storm series. Storm’s not the kind of woman to fall for a grifter despite her friends warning her. Also, what happened to Mystique? She just disappears from the plot altogether after Storm learns of her involvement and if Storm considers her actions a violation, she doesn’t mention it on panel.

  4. Ryan T says:

    Paul’s point about the POV of the Jean series being Jean rather than an omnipotent narrator makes a lot of things both make more sense and somewhat more interesting, from a storytelling perspective. It allows it to be a more telling consideration of Jean’s feelings toward Logan and Scott but also of Jean’s intuition of how the Phoenix Force works. I suppose you could say she should know it inside and out, because of the White Hot Room of it all? But even so, it seems very human to have sort of distinct lines of assumption about how different parts of your life could and did work out, without fully diagraming everything you know about every contingency.

  5. Luis Dantas says:

    Wolverine having a healing factor wasn’t clearly acknowledged for a good while after Uncanny #100, let alone that it would be quite that formidable.

    For instance, the original Days of Future Past storyline has a Sentinel instantly killing him in #142. That is not quite so believable today. There is a scene in the Arcade / Dr. Doom storyline of #145-147 that has Scott blasting the ground out of Nightcrawler, Doom and Wolverine and mentally noting the specific reasons why they won’t be too hurt – in Wolverine’s case, it is the Adamantiun skeleton as opposed to any healing factor.

    The first clear hint of that power comes IMO from late 1982’s original Brood storyline in the #160s. Some would argue for a scene involving a baby dinosaur bite in late 1978’s #116, but it is way too subdued to be a clear indication.

  6. Luis Dantas says:


    I assume that New York City and particularly the Hellfire Club are well watched by a number of nearby Sentinels, if only because that is a logical place to expect superpowered opposition to arise. In fact, we know that there are no less than three whole teams hostile to Orchis operating there.

    Las Vegas probably isn’t as well watched, and it makes sense that strategically valuable Sentinels would be scarce there.

  7. Michael says:

    @Luis- Wolverine’s healing factor was also mentioned in Uncanny X-Men 142, when Wolverine is attacked by Pyro:
    Storm:”Even Wolverine’s fast-healing ability can’t cope with the damage that flame hand will do.”
    Wolverine (after being saved by Storm): “My fast-healing ability’s already dealing with my burns.”

  8. Diana says:

    @Michael: Obligatory reminder that the Adversary somehow got fooled Storm as Naze, before Fall of the Mutants, despite being the most obviously evil person she’d ever met

  9. wwk5d says:

    “There is a scene in the Arcade / Dr. Doom storyline of #145-147 that has Scott blasting the ground out of Nightcrawler, Doom and Wolverine”

    No, there isn’t, as Scott wasn’t involved in that storyline. He was still on leave after Jean’s death and didn’t re-unite with the X-men until #150.

  10. Michael says:

    @wwkd- That was Colossus, not Scott.

  11. Michael says:

    @Diana- I agree that Storm can be fooled but in that case he was playing on her pride, her anger toward Forge and her recklessness. All of which are Storm’s flaws. In this series Storm just seemed like a stereotypical girl falling for a guy who was not good for her and was undermining her confidence despite her friends warning her.
    Of course, the Storm trying to kill Forge at the behest of the Adversary occurred at roughly the same time that Scott shot his eye beams at Jean with enough force to blow a hole in a wall when Hodge used illusions to trick Scott into thinking she was Phoenix. This is despite the fact that when the X-Men first met Maddie, Mastermind used illusions to make the X-Men think Maddie was Phoenix so they’d kill her. And for some reason Hank Pym is the poster boy for domestic violence in the Marvel Universe! One seriously wonders if Forge and Jean sleep with one eye open since Storm and Cyclops will apparently try to kill them if a. villain pinky swears they’re bad.

  12. Chris V says:

    I give Storm a pass as she was, understandably, having a hard time trusting Forge. He had been working for the government and he built the X-gene neutralizer for them, which ended up removing Storm’s mutant powers. Storm was very likely looking for a reason to stab Forge, so she was more than willing to believe Naze when he told her that Forge would end the world.

    They then had a year alone as the only two people on the Adversary’s newly created Earth. I’m sure it was a year filled with working out their relationship problems after Storm stabbed him.

  13. Mark Coale says:

    “Obligatory reminder that the Adversary somehow got fooled Storm as Naze, before Fall of the Mutants, despite being the most obviously evil person she’d ever met”

    You can’t trust that Gephetto.

  14. wwk5d says:


    I was referring to a previous comment someone made about Scott blasting at people during the Arcade/Dr. Doom story during the second Claremont/Cockrum run.

    I really have no idea why you referring to my post by suggesting to me that Colossus was the one blasting the ground out of Nightcrawler, Doom and Wolverine, but whatever.

  15. Michael says:

    @wwk5d- my apologies, I should have tagged Luis’s post as well.

  16. Luis Dantas says:

    My mistake – although I don’t really think it made much of a difference for the sake of the argument.

  17. Mathias X says:

    Man, if Feilong’s parents were mutants, Emma should have them resurrected once they get the Five back. That’s gotta be something Feilong is worried about happening.

  18. The Other Michael says:

    I suppose you can argue that Wolverine being incinerated by the Sentinels in Days of Future Past was probably a combination of aging and his powers being suppressed/repressed/overstressed in the years leading up to that moment. In fact, you’d probably have to consider something like that to explain him visibly aging in such a relatively short time span compared to what we know about his normal longevity now.

    If his healing factor was diminished for a while, he’d age more and be vulnerable to Sentinel blasts. Perhaps.

  19. Skippy says:

    My vague recollection of the early Claremont run was that Wolverine was initially portrayed as a generically tough guy, with his powers implied but not outright stated to be super-strength. He was definitely established to have enhanced senses long before he was established as being able to heal quickly.

    I think the idea of a healing factor perhaps began as a post-hoc explanation of the iconic scene in the sewer beneath the Hellfire Club.

  20. Thom H. says:

    The All-New All-Different team was so redundant with three generically strong/tough guys. I guess Wolverine won out over Thunderbird because he had claws in addition to strength and enhanced senses. And Colossus was too cool-looking to kill. But man, Storm and Nightcrawler were really doing the heavy lifting in terms of interesting powers. Beefing up Wolverine’s powerset with healing at least differentiated him from Colossus a bit more.

    Speaking of, has anyone tried to expand Colossus’ powerset? Can he turn anything else into organic steel? Can he build objects out of organic steel? Can he reshape his body when it’s organic steel? I feel like there are lots of pretty ordinary upgrades you could give him, but I’ve never seen a writer try them. It’s like Peter came to the school in full control of his powers and never learned much of anything.

  21. Michael says:

    @the Other Michael, Luis Dantas- how powerful Wolverine’s healing power is depends on what mood the writer is in. In just the last issue of Wolverine, we had the Hulk beat a Wolverine clone to death. That was presumably less damage than was done by the Sentinel’s blast in Uncanny 142.

  22. It would be nice if Marvel Unlimited was at least still importing Amazon purchases. There was one big import when they closed the Marvel reader, but anything bought after that sits in one app or the other, depending on where it was purchased. It’s a touch annoying.

  23. Thomas Williams says:

    I am liking the fact that all my Marvel reading happens in one App now, it took time to learn the best way to make use of my library in it. I have a big problem though. They are taking certain comics and reworking the art for the infinite scrolling format and it’s pure shit. The storytelling and art just get butchered. When Gala 23 and Ms.Marvel 1 debut on unlimited I think this is going to be the format they use.

  24. Paul says:

    Those are Infinite Comics adaptations for people reading on phones. They’re only alernative versions.

  25. ASV says:

    Has there ever been any exploration of what specifically is going on with Colossus’s powers other than maybe the 90s story where he couldn’t de-steel himself?

  26. Si says:

    If I ever write X-Men, there will b3 a scene where Colossus gets really mad, and all those seams all over his body open up like missile turrets and fire out hundreds of steel darts, or molten metal or something.

  27. Michael says:

    @ASV- In Uncanny 263, Masque uses his powers to distort Peter’s flesh and Peter throws off the changes by changing into armored form and then back to human. There’s some line about genetic memory but the implications of that scene were never addressed.

  28. Luis Dantas says:

    There is the first storyline of the new X-Men in Savage Land, which I commented above. In it (#116). Colossus is tied to some sort of stake and heated up fire while Garokk and Zaladane taunt him.

    He becomes red-hot but seems to be fully capable all the same. His thought balloons make it clear that he does not know how long he can survive that treatment, though.

    He is eventually freed and joins the ongoing fight enthusiastically. There is no indication of any lingering effects; presumably he simply remained in metallic form until he cooled down to a reasonably safe temperature.

  29. Thom H. says:

    So Colossus can become super-heated and still function (UXM #116), but is incapacitated when he becomes super-heated then quickly super-cooled (UXM #178). He doesn’t breathe when he’s in steel form (UXM #150). And he can resist external shape-changing by transforming into his steel aspect (UXM #263).

    Sometimes his entire body is shown to transform at the same time, sometimes it’s shown to gradually transform from one end to the other.

    I really like Peter, but I think there’s some room to explore his powerset. He has been around for 48 years. Maybe he’s the All-New, All-Different equivalent of Warren.

  30. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, he did get his dark transformation eventually, when he turned into the Juggernaut. Only lasted a few years. Probably because ‘even stronger and more durable’ is a boring powerup for a strong, durable superhero.

  31. Omar Karindu says:

    The Mutant Massacre also establishes that his armored form circulates energy, not blood, so there’s some potential there for additional powers or powerset applications.

  32. Stuart says:

    I don’t think the point of the Jean Grey issue was that she’s the only one who can handle the Phoenix – more that no one else could have handled it *better*. If actually *no one* can handle the Phoenix (or at least no one in that group), then it’s not particularly Jean’s fault that she couldn’t either. I actually think that’s a pretty elegant way to finally let her off the hook of all the guilt she probably still feels about the whole thing. It’s not actually that she’s so special and only she could handle it, it’s that she’s NOT special and that is ultimately far more freeing.

    And this series’ seeming direction is Jean questioning what of her choices “went wrong” and led up to her culpability in failing to protect against Orchis’ Hellfire Gala attack.
    But like… while she’s fallible and could certainly do things differently, she’s not actually responsible for Orchis being Orchis, or Phoenix being Phoenix. It’s a classic trauma response for survivors to believe “I could have done something to change it” and this series seems to be showing us Jean finally processing some of that cleanly. I don’t think it will lead to absolution for her own mistakes, I think it will lead to absolution for mistakes that were never actually hers.

  33. JDSM24 says:

    No-Prize: Orchis has no Sentinels in or around Las Vegas City because they know that is where Mephisto , the currently reigning “King of Hell” of Earth-616 (and as pero Jason Aaron’s recent Avengers run , the most powerful variant of Mephisto in the 8th Marvel Multiverse after he massacred or caused the deaths of the Top 615 Mephistoes who formed the multiversal Council of Red with him) is being imprisoned by Dr Strange

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