Month: April 2008

X-Check

We’ve moved past Messiah CompleX and into Divided We Stand – so let’s take a look at the X-Books on my plate and see how they’re doing.

Uncanny X-Men
Obviously in a phase that you could call “rebuilding” but actually just killing time before July’s issue #500. But as far as bridging filler goes, the San Francisco story is very good fun. This apparently will set up the X-Men’s new base of operations, so that’s neat. The Wolverine/Colossus/Nightcrawler story builds on an oft-forgotten relationship between Storm’s team during the Paul Smith/John Romita Jr. era of the 80s, and it’s good to see the three working together. With Storm off being married and Kitty Pryde apparently out of the picture, these three are the last of this core group, and they make a good trio. This has been quality stuff.

X-Men: Legacy
I recall a book called Excalibur (vol. 2) that was focused on the relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto as they tried to rebuild Genosha – and if memory serves correctly, it wasn’t very good. Whether or not Mags stays in the book, the first issues of Legacy have been very good, with an interesting look into Xavier’s past, and finally fleshing out one of the most overlooked characters in the X-Men, which is even stranger being that he’s the CENTER of the whole thing. Those familiar with all these X-Events that are being flashed back to (such as myself) have to be loving this.

Astonishing X-Men
No, I’m just kidding. This book’s last Whedon/Cassaday issue hasn’t come out yet. That’s next month.

X-Factor
Here’s a book whose entire premise was torn asunder through House of M and Messiah CompleX. While some titles would flail about desperately seeking direction, that has become the point of X-Factor and its being done very well. You can’t help but love all the members of this team, and desperately miss (as they do) Layla Miller. Solicitations say the book’s getting Longshot and Darwin on its cast, and I have to say I’m excited.

X-Force
Do I really need to go on another rant about X-Force? It has a cast with claws and knives so they can stab people. Stab, stab, stabby, stabby, stab. Blood, death, good for them. There is apparently a move at bringing back some older baddies (Bastion, Magus) but I have ceased caring. The book’s apparently a hit, though. Bah – should have read The Order instead.

Young X-Men
After only one issue, I really want to see where they’re going with this one. It’s obvious to me that the last-page setup is not what it seems, so we’ll just have to see. I’ll give an update on this one next week after issue #2 comes out.

So where does that leave us? In pretty good shape, I’d say. Things are looking to get more focused when Uncanny hits 500 and Astonishing launches under Warren Ellis. It’s a good time to be an X-Men fan, if you ask me.

(I don’t read Cable, New Exiles, or either Wolverine book and the First Class titles don’t really fit here, so they’ve all been skipped.)

Runaways/Young Avengers

J.R. brought this interview to my attention, with writer Chris Yost talking about his plans for the upcoming Secret Invasion tie-in featuring the second crossover between Young Avengers and Runaways (the first happening in Civil War, which I have yet to read). When he sent me the link, he included the message “You could probably start a pool on who, and how many people die.”

J.R. is well aware of my distaste of the constant deaths that defined Yost and Craig Kyle’s run on New X-Men, as well as of how quickly I decided to drop X-Force. However, Young Avengers and Runaways are two franchises that Yost can’t really do too much with. As the interview said, it was originally supposed to be a Runaways story and it eventually got the Young Avengers added to it. That means it’s not going to be important. It’s there if you like the characters, but nothing else is really going to matter in it.

So after giving it thought, I don’t think anyone’s going to be kicking off in it, and though I love the New Avengers, I’m a bit hesitant on getting the issue. After all, I still have a bit of the bitter taste that X-Men: Emperor Vulcan left in my mouth.

Unnecessary origins

Don’t know how I missed this one when May solicits came out two months ago, but came across this little nugget today:

X-MEN ORIGIN: COLOSSUS #1

COVER BY: TREVOR HAIRSINE
WRITER: CHRISTOPHER YOST CRAIG KYLE
PENCILS: TREVOR HAIRSINE
INKS:KRIS JUSTICE
COLORED BY: VAL STAPLES
LETTERED BY: TODD KLEIN
THE STORY: The origin of fan-favorite X-Man Colossus is finally revealed, brought to you by Chris Yost (New X-Men, Messiah Complex) and Trevor Hairsine (X-Men: Deadly Genesis). Deep in the wastes of Siberia, young Piotr Rasputin discovers his mutant abilities — and becomes the newest target of the ruthless KGB! Guest-starring Professor Xavier. Rated T+ … $3.99

Okay, now correct me if I’m wrong here…but Colossus’ origin was already told – back in this little-known issue called GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1. Very simple – farm boy living on farm, sister going to be run over by tractor, uses powers to stop tractor, recruited into X-Men. It’s a decently simple origin for a decently simple character. That was one of Colossus’ strengths – he didn’t have some convoluted origin that lost sight of the original simpleness of a farmboy and how he saw the outside world in his first days as an X-Man. This origin series reeks of missing the original point. There is no reason for this whatsoever, save screwing with a perfectly fine origin in the pursuit of a buck.

Again, correct me if I’m wrong, but usually when characters are given ‘tweaks’ to their origins, it very rarely works out in the end. Psylocke’s transformation to ninja-mode was originally simply a transformation – until somebody decided it would be a good idea to bring back the original body as a separate being and confusion reigned. Nightcrawler was abandoned as a child because of his appearance and became a circus performer who was persecuted for his appearance – until somebody thought it would be a good idea to have him be the son of (maybe) the Devil and be brothers of several teleporters in one of the biggest plot holes in X-Men mythos. Outside of the X-Men? Need I mention Hawkman?

I can think of two instances (there are probably more) where inserting new bits into the origin story worked well – one was Cyclops (as it answered the question as to how he got the ruby quartz glasses in his orphanage) and Wolverine (who never really had a definite origin) but both of those worked out of necessity. Colossus doesn’t need an origin to be “finally revealed!” No one asked for it. It’s not necessary.

Ugh, I say.

Marvel puts out quality debut issue solely to spite blog writer

Back in December, I lambasted the concept of Wolverine: First Class.

Casey bought the first issue, and lo and behold, I liked it. I liked it a lot.

So while I still am not a big fan of the concept, I gladly admit that it’s a quality read (as of the first issue) and I plan on picking it up. I apologize for jumping to the conclusions that I did.

Dammit.

The Hundreds of Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #500 is due out this July and with the recent announcement over on Comic Book Resources of the issue’s Alex Ross cover, buzz is starting to build. I’ve been reading Uncanny for a long time, and each of the ‘hundred’ issues stick out for me. So in this, the 100th post on Comicdom Wrecks!, let’s take a look at the last four ‘hundreds’ and see where Marvel’s merry mutants have been.

Uncanny X-Men #100
Cover Date: August, 1976
Creative Team: Chris Claremont (writer), Dave Cockrum (artist)
Team Lineup: Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine
What Went Down: Anti-mutant horror Steven Lang has captured the X-Men on his space station and forced the new team to battle android replicas of the original X-Men, seemingly at Professor X’s behest. The good guys win, everyone is saved and they all board a shuttle to get back to Earth. Only problem is that a radiation field is in their way, so Marvel Girl volunteers to pilot the shuttle, aware that she probably won’t survive the trip. Fortunately there’s a cosmic force watching her…
Significance: The immediate aftermath of this issue created an X-Phenomenon. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Phoenix? This is what caused it. So there.
In Retrospect: Though Havok and Polaris attacked them a few issues before, this is really Chris Claremont’s first true X-Men vs. X-Men story. The act would be repeated over the next three decades approximately 780 times. This issue still retains the tension it had then, and it is still a quality read 32 years later.

Uncanny X-Men #200
Cover Date: December, 1985
Creative Team: Chris Claremont (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils)
Team Lineup: Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Phoenix (Rachel Summers), Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine
What Went Down: A reformed Magneto is put on trial by an international court as terrorists claiming to be the X-Men strike throughout the court’s location of Paris, demanding his release. The group, led by Fenris attack the court, actually seeking Magneto slain. Magneto defends the public’s safety, though Professor X falls, his already injured body now dying. Xavier is teleported away to be healed aboard the Starjammer, but not before making Magneto swear to take over his role as headmaster of the school.
Significance: This was a major turning point for the X-Men. Professor X would remain out of the book for 75 issues and the X-Men would face much darker times. Cyclops would leave next issue and the Mutant Massacre was not far off.
In Retrospect: This was a very good issue, though one would have to know the back story of Magneto, Professor X and Baron Von Strucker to understand Fenris‘ motives. Magneto’s redemption was a crucial part of the character moving past his raving lunatic Silver Age days, and this was the pay off. Though he eventually went back to villainy…sort of…this rounded out the character, and its effects are still seen today.

Uncanny X-Men #300
Cover Date: May, 1993
Creative Team: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Brandon Peterson (pencils, epilogue)
Team Lineup: Archangel, Bishop, Colossus, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Storm, Wolverine
What Went Down: Having been attacked by the Acolytes numerous times, the Gold Team (accompanied by Wolverine, Cyclops and Nightcrawler) finally strike back with the intention of rescuing the captive Moira MacTaggert. With the help of the identity-confused Neophyte, the X-Men take down Fabian Cortez and scatter the Acolytes.
Significance: This issue finished the story establishing the newer group of Acolytes and directly led to the return of Magneto in the Fatal Attractions story. Though most of them were personality-lacking drones, some faces (Unuscione, Voght) stood out over time. This issue also reveals that Illyana Rasputin will die of her illness (the Legacy Virus). She actually does two issues later.
In Retrospect: It’s got a shiny cover, but this issue is largely forgettable in favor of the much more important Fatal Attractions four issues later. It was nice seeing Nightcrawler back with the team at the time, and the epilogue hints that Magneto is alive, which was exciting. Overall, though, it’s good for the nostalgia, and neat that the same art team from #200 made it back for this one.

Uncanny X-Men #400
Cover Date: January, 2002
Creative Team: Joe Casey (writer), Cully Hammer, Ashley Wood, Eddie Campbell, Javier Pulido, Sean Phillips, Matt Smith (artists)
Team Lineup: Archangel, Chamber, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Stacy X, Wolverine
What Went Down: The X-Men strike at the Church of Humanity. Stacy X is captured and stalls by telling her origin, which is almost completely made-up (like her being one of the original X-Men). The X-Men save her, beat the bad guys and Nightcrawler realizes that there’s something he should know, but for some reason doesn’t.
Significance: None, really. The Church of Humanity story was eventually wrapped up by Chuck Austen in one of the worst stories ever (disintegrating communion wafers, anyone?) and then this, like most other Uncanny stories of the time, were quietly forgotten.
In Retrospect: I didn’t really like this story when I read it in 2003, and in going back, I don’t really like it now. It was a weak period for the book (no offense against Joe Casey, who I usually like) and six separate artists throughout really cut into the pacing. It’s good for completists, but not much else.

#500 goes on sale in July!

I just wrote a new column for Mutatis Mutandis! Check out the site when you get a chance!

Jacob returns to Mutatis Mutandis

Have you ever been to Mutatis Mutandis? It’s one of the greatest X-Men sites out there. It’s been mentioned by an editor in the letter pages of Uncanny X-Men and it’s database on character information helped get me back into the X-World back in 2003.

I was for a long time a reviewer (until the reviews became too time consuming for me), a columnist and a random jobs doer until I slowed down a bit to work on this thing (amongst other things). Well, I’ve returned to my neglected Column With No Name with an entry on mega event promises.

You should go check it out, and while you’re there, check out the rest of the site.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds announced


Geoff Johns 3 Legion story has been something that he’s been talking about vaguely for quite a while. Since the current Action Comics Legion story was first being talked about. I had always just assumed that it would be an Action Comics story, but that assumption was destroyed yesterday when Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds was announced.

I can hear the groans from here. Why is DC having one mini-series tie-in to another? Honestly, that is just the way things are. A company has an event, there are going to be extra books that tie-in to it. This is not something unique to DC. If it was, then you would not have had Civil War: Frontline, World War Hulk: X-Men, etc. Tie-ins are not necessarily a bad thing, so long as they remain only tie-ins. It is when a tie-in becomes an essential part of the story that there is trouble.

A tie-in should be supplemental to the main st experience, Marvel has done a decent job with this. DC, not so much. In the lead up to Infinite Crisis, DC had 4 mini-series going on. ory. From myOnce Infinite Crisis started, each of the minis had one special. These specials turned out to be necessary parts to fully understand Infinite Crisis, especially the Villains United special. DC appeared to have learned their lesson with the 52 tie-in, World War 3. While this event was a tie-in, and represented in 52, you did not need to read one in order to read the other. Unfortunately, DC showed they had not learned anything with the Countdown family of titles. But that is for another entry.

Too make a long story short, (too late) there is a way to write a successful tie-in, even if it is going to be a big event on its own. From interviews that I have read with Grant Morrison about Final Crisis, and Geoff Johns about Legion of 3 Worlds, it seems that they understand how to be successful. Grant has said that you do not need to read anything else, to understand Final Crisis. Geoff has said that while there is a launching point within Final Crisis, you do not need to read it to read his Legion story, and vice versa. So long as they stick to this plan, then things should go well.