Welcome back, friends. With the brand new X-Men event launching this week, I would feel just terrible if I slacked another week, so we’ll play catchup. For this edition, we’ll be looking at…
- Age of X: Alpha in which we get a new present in which there were never X-Men…except for the X-Men gathered.
- Justice League: Generation Lost #17 & 18 in which a new threat shows up to replace the threat just beaten.
- New Mutants #21 in which Zeb Wells’ run on the title ends well.
- Uncanny X-Men #532 in which the X-Men still have the sniffles.
- X-Factor #213 & 214 in which a member quits the team, but not the book.
- X-Men #7 in which the X-Men become heroes.
- X-Men Legacy #244 in which we get a Blindfold adventure. How fun.
There will be a jump, and then there will be SPOILERS. I’ll even tell you which member of the Fantastic Four died. Let’s do this.
Age of X: Alpha
Welcome to a world in which the X-Men never existed, mutants are hunted for just being who they are, and a renegade group has fought for the rights of their people! If this sounds familiar, it may be because it’s a variation of the plot that led the Age of Apocalypse story over 15 years ago (wow – that makes me feel old). In that story, Professor X never lived to form the X-Men, and thus Apocalypse took over the world and the…uh…X-Men were around to stop him. No one’s calling themselves X-Men this go-around, but they are a ragtag group of mutants fighting their oppressors. Come on, now – they’re X-Men.
Writer Mike Carey had originally planned to launch this storyline straight into its crossover books of X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants with no back story to start – just straight into the action and let the details be sorted out later. He then decided that a lot of these characters needed some spotlight, so we get the stories of Basilisk (Cyclops), Cannonball, Kavita Rao (with Wolverine thrown in), and Toad with cameos galore (both Mastermind sisters, Husk, Arcade, Cecelia Reyes, Forge, Dust, Mystique). It’s a lot of depth to toss into the story before the plot really even gets going. But it’s also kind of pointless info in the big picture, and I’m saying that before the main story even begins.
My issue with Age of X is that it comes off as pointless as to the main plot of the titles its using two issues each of. Sure, Age of X might turn out quite excellent by the time it closes up in April, but it feels like it could better have been put into a mini-series. And beyond that, it runs into the same problem that all stories like it do. There were no X-Men, yet all the characters we see currently in the books just happen to end up together. Characters like Trance, Gambit and Mystique pick up the same codenames that they have in main continuity, and people like Dust just happen to make their way to the U.S. even though there were no X-Men to bring them there and the government hates mutants.
But this is just one issue. I’m sure to get on board with it as we go.
Justice League: Generation Lost
I feel like I’ve become a broken record on this title. The team defeats the most recent enemy (the Creature Commandos) who realize they’ve been duped, just in time to be attacked by the next enemy (Power Girl) whom they have to convince is being duped. Long story short, Power Girl comes to her senses and joins the JLI in their mission to rescue Blue Beetle. Next?
Now here’s a good issue. Writer Zeb Wells really showed off knowledge and affection for the New Mutants and his tenure as writer for 21 issues has been the best thing to happen to these kids in a very long time. His run comes to an end at issue #21 and Marvel still has yet to announce a replacement for issue #24, once the Age of X tie-in ends. But that’s something to watch for in the coming weeks.
This issue closes out everything that has been building since X-Infernus, which launched the event, and even back to the Limbo story of Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s New X-Men which brought Illyana Rasputin back to life. We get the big battle to end all battles with the demonic Elder Gods, the New Mutants mop up the villains responsible for the mess, and the team reconciles afterword without anyone dying. Well anyone on their side, at least. Wells leaves the book with some after-effects: Cannonball has to deal with using lethal force to stop the villains, Sunspot and Magma look to be having a thang, Magik and Pixie both get their souls back (we think), and Karma is left suspicious over Magik’s actions involving Legion, who stopped the huge problem.
I feel like I’ve gotten closure over the whole story thus far, but also feel like there’s enough left open to keep the book going. I eagerly await word on the incoming writer. Please don’t be Chris Claremont.
Not a whole lot to say about this one. It’s a middle chapter book. Emma Frost’s team fights Sebastian Shaw, Cyclops continues to deal with the mutant power-sapping flu and Angel’s team takes down the Collective, ending one of the lingering plots with barely a whimper. We get a badass moment from Wolverine (who practically bleeds them), and all will be set right soon. There’s a hint that Kitty Pryde is missing from her phase-containing suit, but she’ll be okay. Don’t you worry.
The star of the book for these two issues is Darwin, who elects to quit the team to get himself pulled back together after evolving into a god of death, but still stars in a solo issue to venture into a possible future to give us a bit of foreboding about what the offspring of Wolfsbane and her Asgardian Wolf Prince might mean for the future. Does that mean Darwin will return to the fold sooner than later? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. He certainly didn’t disappoint here.
I suppose I should also mention the addition to the supporting cast of Pip the Troll, who has apparently decided to serve as X-Factor Investigations’ secretary, though it’s obvious right off that he’s working for someone – possibly even Hela. Perfectly good issues from a perfectly good book.
After the really silly ending to the not-good Curse of the Mutants storyline, we get into the plot of X-Men as a title. To improve their PR, Cyclops has created what Emma refers to as a superhero job posting board for tasks over the heads of the police but under the radar of the Avengers. Stuff like this was supposed to be a core idea of Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men title, but it was quickly forgotten about as the title got involved in digging up and solving old stories. It was pretty much only used to get the X-Men back into costumes from the leather outfits of the Grant Morrison time.
Here the storyline seems to be getting a bit more play, and its used to get a team of X-Men off on super-hero missions rather than the society stories of Uncanny or the non-existent stories of Astonishing. And I like this idea. His small team this go includes Wolverine, Gambit, Emma Frost and Storm, and writer Victor Gischler seems to get the characters. He’s the first to mention Storm’s claustrophobia in quite some time, but it’s the type of plot element that should be talked about in a story taking place in the sewers of New York.
Art for this arc comes from Chris Bachalo, and he’s not exactly a favorite of mine. His style is very cluttered and hard to follow unless he’s rushed to get an issue out. It’s a violent shift from Paco Medina’s art, and while some of it looks good, some of it doesn’t at all work. I suppose that’s the case with all of Bachalo’s art in my opinion. Even with it though, this is a definite improvement for the title.
When dealing with various younger members of the X-Men cast, it’s inevitable that you’re going to run into some of the less interesting ones once in a while. This issue features Blindfold, whose basic gimmick is that she speaks in riddles. Blindfold seems to be in this issue just to push some other characters’ plot points, and thus through her we get a little bit more on Gambit, Professor X (and Legion), and Hellion, before she stumbles upon the villain and gives Rogue something to do. We get another badass Rogue fight and the threat’s gone, only for Blindfold to hint that a worse one’s coming. It’s all very ominous, but also very time filling, waiting for Age of X to kick off. The villain in this case comes from the Emplate story that took place back before Second Coming kicked off. Kudos to those who remembered.
Without a regular artist, Legacy swings from hit to miss, but this issue’s art from Harvey Tolibao is not one of the stronger efforts. He seems to put lines and circles in to fill space, making everyone’s face look like it has a metallic glimmer to it. He does the same to Rogue’s ample exposed cleavage, making her look like she oiled herself up before leaving her room for the day. He also has trouble with Hellion, who in four panels goes from looking like a 20-something man to a 18 year old girl, complete with breasts. It’s not a good look.
Nothing. I’m off the hook. See you in two.