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Mar 2

The X-Axis – w/c 26 February 2024

Posted on Saturday, March 2, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

A busy week, then! It’s been a while!

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #128. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Nick Roche, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. You’d have thought that by day 6 of release someone would have gone in and removed the opening clapperboard graphic that reads “for internal use only – to be deleted”, but apparently either nobody’s noticed yet or nobody’s had the time. Huh. Anyway, this is part 8, and there’s only so much I can say about this story every week. It’s finally getting around to some sort of point – Selene has promised the other Externals some sort of ascension if they kidnap mutants for her, they don’t trust her – but despite Foxe and Orlando trying to draw out their individual personalities, the Externals just aren’t all that interesting.

DEAD X-MEN #2. (Annotations here.) Apparently Dead X-Men has already fulfilled its mission for Rise of the Powers of X, but we’re getting the X-Men pursuing Moira back through her past lives anyway. It’s hard to say whether this actually plays into anything bigger or whether the book is now just off doing its own thing – in theory, anything that messes about with Moira’s memories ought to have massive ripple effects, but who knows how any of this is meant to work. At any rate, going back through Moira’s past seems like a good idea for the closing months of the Krakoan era – it’s a story that the X-books never really got around to, it offers some possibility to flesh out the current version of the character beyond psycho robot, and it contributes to an overall sense of closure. All that said, I’m not sure the conceit of having different artists for every timeline adds anything. (If indeed it is a conceit rather than a scheduling problem, but it’s probably the former, since this is how the series was always solicited.) Nor is it making a terribly strong case for the lost potential in this team of X-Men, since pretty much everyone other than Prodigy in this series is replaceable. Hopefully the others get more to do later on. Still, it’s an enjoyable romp, and the art on the Ultron Sentinel world is lovely.

WOLVERINE #44. (Annotations here.) After an extremely shaky start, “Sabretooth War” is picking up a bit – although I still have precisely zero interest in another round of ultraviolence with these characters. This issue, though, is mostly Wolverine reacting to the initial attack on X-Force in typical style: blaming himself for dragging other people into his orbit, and expressing that almost entirely by wanting to fight Sabretooth. Which, of course, is precisely what Sabretooth is trying to encourage in him anyway, since this arc is going with the idea that Sabretooth kind of wants to go back to the days when he and Wolverine were partners. It’s still not particularly out of the ordinary, but after such a terrible first act, the storyline at least no longer has me dreading the remaining chapters.

RESURRECTION OF MAGNETO #2. (Annotations here.) But of course. The focus here shifts from Storm to Magneto – well, it is his story, after all. And the tone also shifts from symbolism to something rather more direct. Perhaps that’s just how Magneto approaches this sort of thing; he doesn’t really do poetry. A war memorial style list of the names of all the people he’s killed is nobody’s idea of subtle symbolism, but apparently this is how Magneto feels like spending the afterlife. He says he’s read almost every name, but he’s less than clear about what he was planning to do once he was finished – stay and torture himself, or declare himself purged and move on? The upshot is that Magneto is persuaded that he’s been focussing entirely on the damage he did rather than the good, all of which seems surprisingly on the nose after the first issue. Mind you, it’s the second issue turning point, not the end of the series. I’m not really sure what to make of this book just yet. The tone feels very erratic, but maybe that’ll come together.

CABLE #2. By Fabian Nicieza, Scot Eaton, Lan Medina, Cam Smith, Java Tartaglia & Joe Sabino. If we’re going to do a side quest to keep the two Cables busy, it may as well offer a complete detour from Fall of X, and that’s pretty much what this is. Orchis? Artificial intelligence? Nope, we’re doing scientists trying to turn humanity into an energy-based commune, and Fabian Nicieza coming back to Amanda Mueller, one of his signature villains who never seems to get used by anyone else. And we’ve got throwaway references to characters so obscure that Steve Orlando would probably have to look them up. (The list of energy-based superhumans includes Suede, a character from a short lived anthology title published in Italy in the mid-90s.) There’s nothing particularly outstanding here and if I’m being honest, until I sat down to write this, I’d kind of forgotten that I’d read it. But it’s very readable and Nicieza seems to be enjoying himself.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #15. By Gerry Duggan, Creees Lee, Walden Wong, Bryan Valenza & Joe Caramagna. Over in the honorary X-book, Iron Man lures Orchis into his trap. The publishing schedule really hasn’t done this any favours, since other books have already passed this point in the storyline. I do like the Tony/Emma relationship, though, where he’s actually falling in love with her and she’s coming round to him but still clearly sees their relationship as a cover identity that will not be surviving the end of this crossover. And to be fair, Iron Man’s personal storyline is meant to be a diversion in the context of the overall anti-Orchis plan, which means it can also double as the pay-off of his fight against Feilong, his personal nemesis. The giant armour suits have a nice sense of scale and it all feels like it has more focus than Duggan’s X-Men stories – maybe just because it’s a solo book with fewer plates to spin.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    Cable 2 has the same problem as Dead X-Men 2- it turns out there WAS a good reason for the Nates to get involved but the writer had them get involved because of a contrived one. Last issue, we were told the Nates were going after the Neocracy because they’ll turn everyone into energy creatures in 20 years, which raises the question of why they feel the need to go after them NOW, while Scott’s being held prisoner. And this issue, we’re told that they’ve been holding Empyrean prisoner, which is a pretty good reason to go after them now. The annoying thing is that this miniseries would have worked perfectly if the Nates went to Irene Merrywether for information about Orchis and Irene told them Empyrean’s girlfriend had come to her looking for answers about his disappearance. In both this miniseries and Dead X-Men, the writers resorted to contrivances to have the characters go on side quests when there WERE people in immediate danger- it’s just the writers didn’t let the heroes know about them..
    Interesting that Tony made plans to kill Emma “if necessary” when she was a villain.
    The iron Man issue raises one major question. We found out that the “ships” the dwarves constructed were actually part of Tony’s Sentinel Buster armor. So how are the mutants getting from Mars to Earth? Lactua and Manifold combining their powers?

  2. Michael says:

    In other news. Storm has a guest appearance this week in the Power Pack: Into the Storm miniseries. It takes place in the period when Maraud was believed dead and Storm had a mohawk and her powers and Franklin had his dream selves powers but his parents didn’t know about them. That is, it’s impossible for this series to exist in continuity. The editors really need to be more careful about these continuity insert miniseries. The older writers no longer have good memories and apparently don’t have good Google Fu. But the editors should be checking these things.(See the recent Joe Fixit series where Nefaria appears when he should be dead, for example.)

  3. JDSM24 says:

    No-Prize Time !

    The discrepancies in continuity between the original stories Back In The Day and the new retro-inserts mini-series Right Now is because the Marvel-Earth-616 timeline already CHANGED because of canon timeline meddling:
    1) OG Age of Apocalypse / Marvel-Earth 295 Dark Beast Sugarman canonically changed the Marvel-Earrh-616 timeline ever since they arrived in its past over 20 years ago (sliding timescale)
    2) 616 Tempus prevented Beyond-Omega mutant Mathew Malloy from even being conceived , which caused such timeline changes like Charles Xavier never married Raven Darkholme (and thus their son Charles Xavier Jr was never conceived either , thus the AU future of Battle of the Atom went from being the canon future of ME-616 to just another AU)
    3) Mephisto himself changed ME-616 history when he caused Peter and MJ to have never married to begin with in the first place ( thus MJ never miscarried the baby that would have been MayDay)

  4. Luis Dantas says:

    Maybe it is just me, but I find it sad that so much of the comments of what will end up being five months and (at least) ten issues worth of comic books with a largely foregone conclusion have so little to talk about beyond attempts at explaining the plot.

    I have so strong a suspicion that come May we will be asking why Marvel even went through the trouble of publishing “Fall” and “Rise” that I am not attempting to follow either; in my headcannon they are just random panels and words to be ignored and with no plot worth remembering.

    @JDSM24: It was eventually revealed that Mephisto did not change the timeline directly, but instead tricked Doctor Strange into doing it.

  5. Thom H. says:

    @JDSM24: Don’t forget that Hickman’s Secret Wars destroyed and imperfectly recreated the 616 universe. That probably bumped a few events up or down the timeline.

    @Luis: It’s a valiant effort to give the Krakoa era a proper ending, but it does feel really hollow. The timeline is confusing and the specifics are vague. Beyond Magneto and maybe Storm, there’s no character work being done unless you count Beast’s descent into sociopathy.

    Like Mike Loughlin wrote in another thread, the story’s become abstract and disconnected from reality. At this point, the whole thing feels like a science fiction plot with some X-Men characters (and Iron Man?) welded onto it and stretched out over 4-5 miniseries.

    I do like the Rise mini, and I’m a big fan of Cypher and Rachel, but they don’t feel like themselves so much as exposition machines pushing buttons and explaining us to the finish line.

  6. Michael says:

    @Thom H- Cypher LITERALLY isn’t himself.

  7. Luis Dantas says:

    Come to think of it, there are so many known changes to the timeline that I doubt anyone has kept track.

    Out of the top of my head, there was a soft change in 2014-2015 due to “Infinity”/”Time Runs Out”/”Secret Wars” / Molecule Man + Reed Richards + Franklin Richards; the Timeline was changed twice due to events revolving around Kobik and the “Secret Empire” event of 2017; there was a very diffuse “Age of Ultron” event in 2013-2014 that was all about changing timelines; and Vance Astro caused a timeline split when he travelled back in time and met his own younger self.

    There are many other stances of largely forgotten arcs that change the timeline, such as for instance “Domination Factor” pair of miniseries from 1999 (the Matthey Malloy arc is similar).

    We even have several implied, unexplained and just plain unclear timeline divergences; for instance, it is not all that clear how the timeline of the 1990s Guardians of the Galaxy connects or diverges from main Earth-616 continuity. There is some indication that they changed their own timeline when they met 20th century Vance Astro, but that was hardly the only stance of their travelling to the past. Even so, they took part in the “System Bytes” and “Lifeform” crossovers of 1991 and 1992, implying that their future was still possible from Earth-616 main continuity.

  8. Drew says:

    “There’s nothing particularly outstanding here and if I’m being honest, until I sat down to write this, I’d kind of forgotten that I’d read it.”

    To be fair, that’s kind of Cable’s unofficial motto, no?

  9. Thom H. says:

    Ha! Totally fair — I forgot about that. It doesn’t change much, though. Now he’s just an exposition machine with a bad attitude.

  10. Chris V says:

    “At this point, the whole thing feels like a science fiction plot with some X-Men characters (and Iron Man?) welded onto it and stretched out over 4-5 miniseries.”

    Thom-That was basically the remit of Hickman’s revamp of the X-line. It was a science fiction story he was writing using the X-Men (which is something Morrison pointed out, that the X-Men are a science fiction concept not superheroes) which he was forced to shoehorn into a shared superhero universe. That was also the appeal of Hickman’s direction for me, as I had begun to completely lose interest in the X-Men franchise with one terrible decision after another since Morrison’s run ended.

  11. Mike Loughlin says:

    @Chris V: agree about Hickman’s direction revitalizing the X-books. I went from actively ignoring them to buying nearly all. I think the scale has overwhelmed most of the storytelling, as well as some actively bad decision making and writing, but I think taking the franchise in a political/sci-fi direction paid off.

    Morrison’s run is, for the most part, my ideal of what the post-Claremont X-Men should be, with its focus on societal change, conceptual evolution, and action stemming from character motivations beyond good vs. evil. It didn’t always land, but I didn’t feel lost.

  12. Thom H. says:

    Yeah, I agree that Hickman’s direction is more interesting than anything that’s been done in a long time. I just wish it was less “generic sci-fi w/X-Men” and more X-Men-driven sci-fi. Morrison definitely grounded their sci-fi vision in the characters and concepts of biological mutation.

    Foregrounding robots and Mars and cosmic beings outside of time and space is interesting. It just feels like it belongs in a different book.

  13. JDSM24 says:

    @LuisDantas: Dr. Strange , really ? I always wondered why Mephisto had to wait for Peter to make the deal with him , in order for him to change the past , when he could have done it all by himself at any time if he really wanted to do so; do tell me the details , please

    And I forgot about all those other time-paradox-creating events , theyre an epidemic in 616 (especially because of 616-Cable most of all) , so why isnt the multiversal Time Variance Authority much more active than they apparently are right now ?

  14. ASV says:

    I imagine the real world answer (and possibly the in-universe one, too) is that Mark Gruenwald isn’t around anymore.

  15. Omar Karindu says:

    The absence of the TVA still seems a bit odd given their recent, relatively high-profile uses in the Marvel TV and movie divisions (and an upcoming, if dubiously canonical project).

  16. Luis Dantas says:

    Sorry, @JDSM24. My mistake.

    Apparently I confused “One More Day” with “One Moment in Time”.

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