Let’s get right to it. This week, we’re looking at…
- Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3 in which a lot of talking is done.
- Justice League: Generation Lost #10 in which we learn what Max Lord is up to.
- Uncanny X-Force #1 in which the badass team gets relaunched with a not-so badass name.
- Uncanny X-Men #528 in which Hope does exactly the same thing as the last two issues.
- And X-Men Legacy #240 in which we get a kidnapping and a wedding.
There will be details past the jump and they will have SPOILERS in them. You have been warned.
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis
As I picked up the third issue, I commented that it had been a while since #2 came out and I didn’t really remember what had happened. Then my girlfriend quickly chimed in “Exploding mutant babies in Africa.” Ah, then it came back to me! As is the case with anything under the Astonishing X-Men banner, this story is ridiculously behind the rest of the X-World. Not only is Beast still with the team, but they’re still working with Mutantes Sans Frontieres, a quickly forgotten story bit from Chris Claremont’s ill-fated Excalibur relaunch that served no purpose whatsoever. But in here, it’s not the obvious X-Corp clone it was established to be, but rather a generic Peace Corps operation used to give the X-Men jurisdiction for coming, besides the whole ‘exploding mutant babies’ bit.
I was hoping that the delays in this book’s scheduling meant the story was going to be very good. Quality takes time, right? This issue was basically one big conversation, then running into the woods for a basic reason for the soldiers to be shown as the bad guys, and then the whole ghost box thing from two storylines ago to pop up. That’s about it. The conversation between Cyclops/Beast and the half-robot commander was a back and forth discussion on the morality of killing babies against protecting people from what happens when they, you know, explode. And even if they don’t explode, they’ll likely live their entire lives in pain. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be an outspoken discussion on the morality of abortion (why bring a child into a life that they’d suffer in?) but it certainly appears that way. But then, despite the heated conversation, the soldier lets the X-Men tag along to the random threat in the woods, pretty much just so the X-Men can see the soldiers be assholes.
This story wasn’t very good going into this part, and it hasn’t gotten any better. There’s very little for the X-Men to be doing (I don’t recall Armor even being in the issue) and those that do get some face time play everything exactly by the book. I can’t imagine what this is adding to the X-Men story besides getting me to shill out $4 to buy the damn book. The ghost box is back – it’s a portal to an alternate dimension, if you had forgotten – and we get our BIG FIGHT SCENE next issue against a bunch of robots. How exciting. Unlike the last two issues, the art didn’t bother me so badly this time around, except for that there were a strange multitude of full-page splash pages used in odd places. I like a good splash page as much as the next guy, but I don’t think one’s necessary in the middle of a talking heads conversation. But sure enough, there were three of them here.
My patience on this story is definitely wearing thin.
Justice League: Generation Lost #10
Apparently we’ve gotten to the point in Brightest Day-era DC in which it’s time to reveal just why each of the characters were resurrected at the end of Blackest Night (besides the obvious mix of wanting the characters back and shock moment to sell the book), so with this issue we learn what Maxwell Lord’s goal is. Turns out he’s trying to prevent the atomic explosion from the opening pages of Kingdom Come, the Elseworlds story from the ’90s that dealt with a future DC overpopulated with super beings of questionable morals. In that book, a team led by Magog attacked the Parasite, who split Captain Atom open, unleashing the equivalent of several nuclear bombs, ravishing middle America. So instead of going after the villain to stop it, Max Lord decides Captain Atom needs to die and is using Magog to do it. Um…sure?
I was quite disappointed with this revelation. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but preventing one event in Kingdom Come wasn’t it. Kingdom Come for a while was the obvious direction the DC Universe was heading (even giving Superman a red and black logo) until they realized that they can’t angle all stories to that point since they’ll eventually have to get there. But the command given to Lord (Stop the war) seems to imply the huge meta battle at the end of the mini, and if so, Max is going about this completely the wrong way. In a nutshell, Kingdom Come is a story about the DC Universe after Superman abandons it because of public support of anti-heroes (represented by Magog, obviously designed as a knock on Marvel’s Cable). The story was a statement on comic’s gritty shift of the ’90s, and one that not everyone liked. The gist is that had Supes not left, the DC Universe wouldn’t have gone to hell. And why did Supes leave? Because the Joker killed all of his friends (including Lois Lane) in the Daily Planet, and Magog murdered the Joker in retaliation, then was acquitted for it. Therefore, your solution would be to get rid of Magog, recently introduced into the DCU proper in the pages of Justice Society. No Magog, no Joker murder, no team with Captain Atom to destroy America. Problem solved.
But instead, Max Lord decides to go after Captain Atom and the JLI. In fact, the only member of the JLI who had any major role in Kingdom Come was Ted Kord, who is quite dead now. This could be thrown out as ‘Max is doing the best he can with the limited info he has’ but I still think it’s weak. Why does Max not just mind whammy the JLI like he did the rest of the DCU and then kill Captain Atom right there? And if nothing else, there are about 70 other dead characters who could have been used for this mission. The whole thing boils down to that they wanted a JLI bi-weekly book, and this is the best they could come up with to justify it. And again, I enjoyed the parts – Ice and Fire having a heart-to-heart, Batman (though I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson) and Power Girl almost coming to grips on the situation – but the overall premise has definitely sullied the experience for me.
Mainly because of the ridiculous name, I almost decided to drop this title, but I decided I liked the cast enough to give it a try, and I’m glad I did. Writer Rick Remender definitely has a feel for these characters, though I feel like Psylocke is still coming off without a definitive voice, but that’s certainly not the fault of the writer. It’s more the problem that Psylocke is such a ridiculously screwed up character. Anyway, once outed to the X-Men, Cyclops decides that it actually was a bad idea to make an X-Men kill squad, so he disbands X-Force, but Wolverine decides it actually was a good idea, so he makes one of his own in secret. Their first target? A newly resurrected Apocalypse.
Now let me pause right there for a moment. Apocalypse has apparently been resurrected as a child, which strikes me as odd since in all the numerous times he’s been resurrected, this has never happened. And why would Cyclops be upset with killing Apocalypse? The X-Men have killed him at least three times in the past. That’s a key factor of the character. Anyway, the whole thing started when Angel sent Deadpool to get information about this process (and god knows where Deadpool finds the time to do this) and calls in the rest of the squad of Wolverine, Psylocke, Archangel and Fantomex. And that’s pretty much the whole thing for the debut.
I’m okay with the lineup, except for the addition of Deadpool. Beyond the fact that I simply cannot accept that Deadpool is as popular as Marvel swears he is (being in at least six monthly titles), the role of smartass mercenary is already filled by Fantomex. They both use guns, smart off to everyone – hell, they even look similar. And with Deadpool’s lack of inner-monologue boxes, he’s not even coming off with the full Deadpool effect. He certainly seems like he’s been shoehorned into the book specifically because he’s Deadpool. But other than that, I enjoyed the debut and will give this title a go at least through the first storyline to see if it stays strong.
By this point, you probably know the drill. New mutant appears, unable to control her powers. Hope arrives, convinces the mutant she’s actually a blessing of nature, then touches her to stabilize her new abilities. This happened in the last two issues, and it’s happened again here. I get that this is all setup for the new Generation Hope book launching this month, but man is it getting old. While this has been going on, Uncanny X-Men (and therefore the entire mutant race) has been stuck in neutral since the closing of Second Coming. Certainly not the direction I had hoped the line would be going in at this point. Perhaps I’m simply jaded, but with the two main X-Men team books being stuck in the affairs of other titles AGAIN after both Necrosha and Second Coming, the X-Men line has gone absolutely nowhere in well over a year by this point. It’s been the leading contributor to my severe case of burnout I’ve been suffering.
Whilce Portacio’s art was not very solid in this issue, but as I’m repeatedly told, I may not just be grasping what he was going for. His women’s physiques are particularly wanky, as in one panel Storm almost has her chin resting in her cleavage, while in another, Emma Frost’s breasts seem to be magnetically being pulled apart from one another. In some sequences, he seems to have simply not felt like drawing in backgrounds, but that may just have been a style going. The writing left me a bit off too. Hope seems to have lost all characterization that she had in the past, coming off more as what Wikipedia would call a “Canon Sue“. Dazzler and Northstar (see below) have no personalities at all.
We also get a bit of action where Northstar and Dazzler take down two B-list villains which comes off as complete throwaway fluff, as well as a scene where Iceman goes to hire a PR marketer for the X-Men. Neither of these two storyline bits interest me whatsoever. The Dark Reign is over. The Heroic Age has begun. Get this title out of the damn mutant community and let it be a team book again. I’m begging you.
Perhaps another sign of me being jaded, but I thought this issue’s story was overly contrived. I’m usually Mike Carey’s biggest cheerleader, but I was a bit frustrated here. You may recall that a girl named Luz escaped into our dimension in the wake of a number of natural disasters that just happened to occur right where Rogue and Magneto had come for the sake of C-list student Indra. Looking to reclaim her, the Children of the Vault show up to attack, and realizing that they’ve conveniently stumbled upon Rogue, who gave them so much trouble in the last story they were in, kidnap her, as well as Magneto who just happens to be exactly what they need for their big plan. And the big plan itself? Since they think our world is too damaged, the CotV have decided to create their own world inside an empty dimension, but lack a power source. They build a big machine and find a number of people who can serve as power sources, but they just happen to be one short. As luck would have it, Magneto, who just happened to be exactly where they attacked, is perfect in that role.
The next issue will be the students present – Anole, Indra and Loa – will be mounting a rescue mission with Luz that will probably be awesome (since it does have Anole in it), and we’ll get the revelation that Indra actually is okay with fighting as long as he agrees with the cause. And I’m fine with that. This just happened to have far too convenient of a plot for me, and my regular suspension of disbelief is a bit hampered right now due to my frustration with comics as a whole. But I think I’m starting to get better.
- Booster Gold #37 featuring more of the chipmunk Blue Beetle!
- Justice League: Generation Lost #11 with the Metal Men.
- X-Men #4 keeping the vampire thing going a bit too long