Heavy week for this guy. Marvel, in its infinite wisdom, has again decided to put out most of its X-Men line in the same week, with three of the main titles coming out. It likely would have been four again, but that would involve Astonishing X-Men keeping some kind of regular schedule – an idea so ludicrous that it makes me chuckle audibly.
Ridicule aside, here’s what we’ll be looking at this week:
- Justice League: Generation Lost #22 in which we kind of have a final plot.
- New Mutants #23 which I actually won’t be covering, but I’ll get to that below.
- Uncanny X-Force #6 in which creators still try to make Deathlok work.
- Uncanny X-Men #534 in which the X-Men get cured of the sniffles.
- Wolverine and Jubilee #3 in which Wolverine does some killin’.
- X-Men #9 in which I question the purpose of this title.
We’ll get to it after the jump. As always, there will be SPOILERS.
Justice League: Generation Lost
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been going at this title for nearly a year now. With just two issues left to wrap the whole mess up, we get some exposition to sum up the plot and try to convince the readers that all the directionless running around for the past 20 issues have all had some purpose. As it turns out, Max Lord is still holding a bit of a vendetta against Wonder Woman for killing him back in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis (good lord, was it really six years ago?) and has been setting in motion an overly convoluted plan to kill her. Well, except for the time he took out to kill Magog so the book could justify its Brightest Day tie. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve heard that WW was his target, but it’s been a while and was quickly shuffled aside.
The problem with this whole deal is that the plot is ridiculously convoluted and doesn’t warrant half of the action taken throughout the book’s run. It also runs into the problem that Wonder Woman herself just got revamped so technically it’s not even the same character that killed Max Lord back then. Of course, being that he’s a psychotic villain, I suppose that hardly matters. But anyway, we get the explanation as to why Blue Beetle survived getting shot in the head (his armor, duh) and he takes a few pages to explain the maniacal scheme. Turns out that the JLI chasing him around was a plot for him to take command of Checkmate which itself was a means to launch a huge OMAC army to destroy Wonder Woman.
We also get Power Girl and Batman brought in to make more ties to the old JLI days (though the absence of Martian Manhunter is very disappointing) and we get the setup for the penultimate issue next month. But by this point I can’t see any possible ending to it beyond “And then the good guys win, the end.” Yes, I understand that’s how most stories end, but for a 24 issue series nothing seems to be coming out of this. Unless DC is announcing a new JLI ongoing, all of the characters will go back to where they normally go (or the background, in the case of Ice, Fire and Rocket Red) and Max Lord will probably get away to scheme another scheme. But the series has two issues left, so I’m hoping that I’m wrong. And I’d totally buy a monthly JLI book.
Okay, so my recent copy of X-Men Legacy is still MIA (pending a good cleaning of my apartment) so I decided against reading this issue for the time being. As soon as I remedy the situation, I’ll probably put out a special thing for Age of X. If I’m not too busy making fun of Chuck Austen, of course.
There are several characters floating around the multiple universes of comicdom that seem to always keep popping up, despite their lackluster appeal to or response from fans. One of Marvel’s big ones is Deathlok, who’s been around for longer than the All-New, All-Different X-Men, yet still doesn’t seem to be a very familiar character to many comic fans. Yet creators still wheel him out occasionally and pretend like it’s a big deal. For those unfamiliar with the character, let me sum the character up for you: zombie cyborg. Good times.
We’re in the middle of a three-parter here (not counting the .1 issue which was strangely placed between this and the previous issue) and X-Force gets around to pulling Fantomex out of the mess he’s gotten himself into, and the plot gets a little wacky. The big superheroes of the Marvel U have been popping up with Deathlok enhancements, so the team sits around Captain America-lok to get the story. In THE FUTURE!!!!, heroes were not exactly smiled upon, so as they were defeated they were given the Deathlok treatment to keep them in line. Sure that seems awful, but without all the super-powered fighting, the world became a utopia until it was all ruined by the coming of Apocalypse. And there’s something about a future world in a small form…but really, it kind of passed over me.
Anyway, my failure to look into the story more deeply aside, my initial thought on this plot is that it’s not really one for X-Force. The theme of the book is that with the mutant race being an endangered species, there are enemies around that simply cannot be allowed to live as they pose too great of a threat. But as I said waaaaaaaay back with the original X-Force title, the theme puts a limitation on itself in that you either have to kill off a villain every story or come up with a reason NOT to kill, which then begs the question what is the point of X-Force if not to kill? So instead you bring in a “potential threat from the future” which can then be safely killed. It feels like a cop-out that will likely increase the longer X-Force sticks around.
But then I thought a little bit more about it. A key part of the background plot is that Psylocke is having trouble dealing with the killing of the kid who would potentially become Apocalypse (she seeks understanding from a holographic simulation of her brother Captain Britain). The sudden revelation that there will still be an Apocalypse in the future puts the previous mission even further into doubt. If Apocalypse still comes about, then what was the point of killing the kid? It’s an interesting plot thread and it looks to be sticking around for a while. Or maybe I’m simply looking too much into it. Either way, it’s still a good read.
It would seem that Uncanny X-Men is losing its focus. Now Uncanny was not exactly a book renowned for being focused to begin with, but lately it’s been all over the place. In the 5-part Quarantine storyline, we’ve had four ongoing plots – a mutant-power sapping virus targetting the mutants on Utopia, the healthy X-Men in San Francisco attacking C-list villain the Collective, a new designer drug appearing designed to copy mutant abilities, and Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde and Fantomex flying away to dispose of Sebastian Shaw. Here, we get the close of that story…or at least three of the four parts of it, as the Collective was defeated a couple issues ago.
After four issues of showing how serious the virus was and how dangerous the suddenly mutated investors of the new drug were, the resolution to the storyline was a pretty big letdown. Basically, all the sick X-Men hop over to the big fight and everyone else catches the virus. Apparently the Lobe, who engineered this virus to ravage the X-Men, didn’t really take into account that he, as a mutant, could also be affected as well as those he just empowered. So when he uses his little device to kill everyone, he figures out that he has it too. I guess the virus could have sapped his smarts, but still its a pretty big oversight on his part. Luckily, he has a magic button to purge the virus from his system, but apparently it has to cure everyone or no one. So out it comes and that’s that. And then the X-Men threaten to sue him over the designer drug.
The idea here is that Lobe was using the virus to blackmail the X-Men into signing over the rights to I’m guessing their likenesses to be used for the drug. But that would mean that the X-Men have some kind of legal right to their powers. If that was the case, then Angel could have sued Icarus for his wings, Quicksilver could sue Speed over his…well…speed, and so on and so forth. And since the X-Men are whole and healthy and Lobe gave others their powers without getting permission, they’ve got a lawsuit. I suppose if you really look at it, it could work (since he did design the drug off of their genetic material) but it’s still really, really silly. And how could they prove that in court?
But then we have the deal with Sebastian Shaw. Emma Frost brought him to the X-Men’s brig quite a while ago and then decided he had to be removed to keep Namor from killing him. Why that would be a bad thing was something that no one really bothered to answer, but long story short, the whole thing went bad and Shaw was running rampant. So after spending last issue saying that she can’t affect his mind due to his rage, this issue she affects his mind and the good guys win. Well, at least she and Kitty do – Fantomex is not in the issue in any shape or form. Emma decides to swipe Shaw’s identity from him and leave him as far away from Namor as possible. And everyone seems to be fine with letting the villain go off on his own confused way, because there’s absolutely no way that he could ever come back. That’s crazy.
But some of the little specifics of the issue don’t work either. Kieron Gilley has decided to continue using the identifier boxes for each time a character first does something, but unlike Matt Fraction’s use of them, they are lacking the punchline comments that they were created for. And without that, they’re kind of pointless and distracting. Equally pointless and distracting is the duo of Pixie and Dazzler who spend the entire issue repeating the word ‘Tidy’ over and over again. If I didn’t know the character, I would never have been able to guess that this Dazzler is the same one as the one from the team back in the ’80s. She’s lacking any kind of personality whatsoever here. But really no one in Uncanny X-Men has any kind of personality and that’s the problem with having so many characters constantly rotating in and out. They have powers and occasionally snarky comments. That’s it. This book is something of a mess.
Wolverine and Jubilee
I’m amazed at how much I’m enjoying this book. I’ve never been a big Jubilee fan, but I have to admit that the whole vampire bit (get it?) is the best thing that has been done with the character in years. It’s not because of the powers/limitations thrown on her because of it, but rather because it gives the character something to do in the first time in a long while. It also doesn’t hurt that the book bases itself on the longtime relationship between the title characters and actually gets the reader to care about what happens to Jubilee through Wolverine’s actions. There’s also the subplot involving Rockslide that gets a decent focus and will play into the final issue next month. I suppose my only real problem is that once this mini is complete, Jubilee probably won’t be getting much focus as a character, since there are no X-Men team books that really bother with that sort of thing. But I’ll get to that with the next book.
I’m betting that some fans will probably be decrying the sequence where Wolverine has to get through a highly radioactive tunnel to reach his target as insensitive after the problems facing Japan after its earthquake/tsunami disaster. To that I would disagree. For one, this book was already written, drawn, inked, lettered, etc. well before the disaster in Japan. Second, as scary as the nuclear problems are, it is not a reason to prevent any kind of radiation mention in comics. Avengers Academy has a character whose whole shtick is that she’s radioactive (I know because they tacked on the whole first issue onto the back of Uncanny this week). This story does not objectify nor lessen the impact of what’s currently going on in Japan. Fans just need to calm down. And Ryan Choi sucked.
Would someone please let me know why I’m shilling out an extra $4 a month for this title? Okay, admittedly it’s because I’m a completist and the stories are okay, but really what is the point of this title? Leaving out X-Men Legacy, which has been a Rogue book for a while now, there are three main X-Men team books. Of those three books, two of them have a rotating cast and one of them, when it comes out, only has a four-person cast. And two of those four are currently being featured in this book, which is using a four member cast.
So let me try to push the point I’m trying to make here. The last time the X-Men line had three individual team books (before Astonishing delayed itself out of relevance) the cast of the three books was Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Armor, Nightcrawler, Storm, Bishop, Marvel Girl, Psylocke, Cannonball, Rogue, Gambit, Havok, Polaris and Iceman. All of these characters had their own places, their own purposes and their own reasons for being around. Today, we have as many team books, but the only characters that get any kind of consistent focus are Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Wolverine. Everyone else drops in for a couple issues, does their signature catch phrases, then pop back out. Sure, New Mutants and Uncanny X-Force have a set roster and they both benefit for it. But if I count them, I’d have to bring in the likes of New X-Men and New Excalibur for my earlier example.
It feels like X-Men in particular is made up of a series of mini-series, lumped together under the guise of an ongoing. There’s no real point to the book beyond tossing in a handful of X-Men and tossing in a guest star. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish the various X-Men books would try to split up and form some kind of purpose. That’s it.
Oh, and as for the issue itself? There was Spider-Man, and then the X-Men got turned into lizards.
Nothing. It’s a fifth week and I have no books coming out. I suppose that will be a good time to play catch-up on Age of X, huh?