Month: February 2011

The Upstarts (or the potential effects of a bad storyline)

1991 was a big year for the X-Men.  Nearly the entire line was revamped to give a more serious, gritty feel.  To go along with the new direction, new villains were sought to replace the tried and true rogues that had been battling the mutants for some time.  Intended to be the new arch rivals of the X-Men, a new group of young villains came together, known as the Upstarts.

But the various X-Creators introducing these new characters couldn’t be bothered to take the time to properly develop their new antagonists as had been done with their predecessors.  They needed to be a huge threat immediately, and so in their very plots, they were given the means to become so, in theory.  And the rest of the X-World suffered in the process.

Selene, Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, was seeking powerful new mutants for her own Inner Circle, and recruited several potential allies by staging a contest.  Participants would earn points through the killing of other mutants.  Values would be determined by power and importance of the target, awarded by the judge of the contest, the rather obscure Gamesmaster.  It was never mentioned exactly what the prize for the winner would be, but all the participants seemed to think that it was very, very important.  Selene herself would quickly vanish from the scene, leaving a handful of uninteresting neophyte villains to set about thrashing the X-Men and their villains.

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New Comic Day hangover

Big week for me this week as Marvel has decided to throw out every single X-Men team book as well as the first two chapters of Age of X all in one day.  As well, I’m going back and covering the titles I didn’t get around to reading two weeks ago.  So pull up a chair and get comfortable, kids – this, the 23rd edition of the hangover, is going to be a long one.

This week we’ll be looking at:

  • Astonishing X-Men #36 in which the team heads to Japan.
  • Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #5 in which the big threat ends.
  • Justice League: Generation Lost #19 and #20 in which someone gets kinda killed.
  • Uncanny X-Men #533 in which the X-Men still have the sniffles.
  • Wolverine and Jubilee #2 in which Jubes didn’t kill anyone.
  • X-Factor #215 in which we deal with some relationship issues.
  • X-Men #8 in which Spider-Man appears, just like everywhere else.
  • And finally, X-Men Legacy #245 and New Mutants #22 in which we start the Age of X.

Talking, discussing, nitpicking and SPOILERS after the jump.

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And then there was that time he got bored with the X-Men…

Comic fans are a fickle and moody bunch.  It seems that not a New Comic Day goes by in which fans aren’t up in arms about something that has happened to Spider-Man or what new direction the Justice League may be going in.  As a lifelong X-Men fan, I have certainly done my share of nitpicking, complaining and bitching.  But I cut my comic teeth in the early ’90s, which was an era not exactly known for its quality of stories.  But growing up then, I heard many of the same complaints I hear now when it comes to Marvel’s merry mutants.

“It’s not as good as it used to be.”

“There will never be another run like Claremont’s.”

Over the years, I spent more time and money than I’d care to admit collecting, through back issues and collected reprints, much of the back library of the X-Men universe.  With all of the early titles, like Uncanny, New Mutants and X-Factor accounted for, I set off on reading the story all the way through.  Since that fateful decision, I’ve sloshed through some awful Silver Age gook, seen the rise and fall of storyline threads never to be touched upon again, and saw the coming of the writer who many regard as the father of the X-Men, Chris Claremont.

Currently, I’m at an odd period for the X-Men.  It’s around Uncanny #189.  I’ve come to a stopping point in which I would argue that, had it been printed today in the exact same schedule and environment that it had originally been in 1985, you’d have heard a lot of the same complaints that you might hear today.

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Thoughts on the Flashpoint Announcement

Last week, DC released some information about their upcoming event, titled Flashpoint.  Written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Andy Kubert, the main mini-series would run 5 issues.  However, the bigger news was that there would be 15 additional mini-series that would also come out.  That’s right, 15 additional series.  We have the titles of 14 of them, and confirmation that at least those 14 will be 3 issues long.  No writer or artist information was given.  Also released, was the information that these minis would tie into a “Whatever happened to…?” question or one other statement.  Below are the titles.  (more…)

J. R.’s Power Rankings 2/1/11

Here are my latest power rankings.  January proved to be a light month for me, with 6 of the 17 titles I buy not having an issue released.  Not appearing is a copy Secret Six that I bought because it tied into Action Comics.  Secret Six is a title that I may start buying in March, after their Doom Patrol tie-in comes out in February.  Also as a reminder, these rankings reflect my thoughts on the recent run of the title, not just the latest issue.

Ranking Title Last Month Notes
1 Fables 1 This month was a brief interlude to show what Bufkin and the group in the business office have been up to.  Good issue, but not really happy it ended without a resolution before the “Super Team” story begins in the book.
2 Batman 3 Dick Greyson continues his search for the Sensei, enlisting the help of The Reaper and Catgirl.  I-Ching continues the search for Peacock’s brother, Luki, on his own.
3 Red Robin 2 This issue was a bit of a letdown, with Red Robin going inside the “Unternet.”  Nothing really happened in the issue, which is why the title fell one place to #3.
4 Detective Comics 4 Scott Snyder’s first story arc ends with Dick Grayson using lessons learned as an aerialist to combat the effects of the poison that was in his system, and take down The Dealer.
5 Action Comics 7 An entire issue of Lex Luthor talking to the Joker, who happens to be in possession of a tiny black sphere.  Paul Cornell did a fine job scripting the dialogue, though Pete Woods did something to Joker’s face that kind of threw me off.  Although, he did remember the gunshot wound between his eyes.
6 The Mice Templar 5 No new issue this month.
7 Zatanna 6 Zatanna escapes the clutches of a puppet that her dad created from someone appearing to attack her.  She then listens to his tale, and looks for a way to make him a person again.  There was also a back up story by Adam Beechen featuring Zatanna getting her braces, and stopping someone in the mall using a speak-n-spell.  Title would have stayed at 6 if it had just been the Paul Dini story for the entire 20 pages.
8 Brightest Day 11 The Hawks are finally able to break the curse that has been placed upon them, but don’t want to follow the white lantern ring’s instructions.  Firestorm is thankful that they did not destroy the world, but find themselves in the anti-matter universe.
9 Batman, Inc. 8 No new issue.
10 Green Lantern 9 No new issue.
11 Batman:  Streets of Gotham 12 More background is developed in the history of the Elliots and the Waynes, and their connection to the Gotham City mob scene.  Two more issues until this title is ended.
12 Batman & Robin 11 Paul Cornell’s three-issue fill-in finally ends.  As good as Action Comics has been is how bad Batman & Robin was.  Dick and Damien deal with one of Bruce’s jilted exes, but are set free when she finds out that they are willing to die for Bruce.  Peter Tomasi’s run debuts in Feb.
13 Wonder Woman 13 Phil Hester continues scripting JMS’ story.  Diana continues to dive into the people responsible for the destruction of Paradise Island, forced to resort to new levels of violence, and the warrior lifestyle.  All while The Morrigan looks on, resurrecting some Amazons lost on Paradise Island.
14 Superman 15 Finally, someone tells Superman how stupid all of this walking around stuff is.  However, apparently someone is influencing Superman’s mind, which is why he sided with the factory that was polluting the environment, and didn’t want to pay for clean-up.  This issue moved up only because Invincible didn’t come out.
15 Invincible 14 No new issue.
16 Gotham City Sirens 16 No new issue.
17 Batman:  The Dark Knight 17 No new issue.