New Comic Day hangover

I’m a few days late on the hangover, but I’m now working two jobs (not counting this blog) so you’ll have to excuse me.  I mean well – honest!

Anyway, this week we’re looking at:

  • Uncanny X-Men #541 in which we get some Fear Itself action.
  • X-Factor #222 in which we have a guest-star that even fanboys may not pick up on.
  • X-Men #15 in which the story ends with a bit of a thud.

In case you’ve forgotten, there be SPOILERS ahead.  These reviews assume that you’ve either read the issues or don’t mind knowing what happens in them.

So let’s go.

Uncanny X-Men
It’s been a long time since the X-Men have battled Juggernaut as a primary villain.  In fact, this may well be the first time they’ve come up against him since he was a member of the team.  Even after all this time, though, the whole team knows the one page playbook for fights against Juggernaut.

  1. Remove helmet.
  2. Psychic whammy.

The strategy has been effective for nearly 50 years now.  So of course, this time the ploy doesn’t work.  It is a Fear Itself tie-in after all.

The transformation of the Juggernaut due to the hammer has restored him to the Unstoppable mode that had faded away through numerous defeats throughout the years.  After all, how unstoppable can a villain really be if he gets stopped all the time?  The new abilities granted Jugs here gives him the unknown force feeling that he had waaaaaaaay back in his first appearance back in the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby days of X-Men.  Back then, the X-Men were holed up in the X-Mansion as Juggernaut came tromping and stomping towards them.  And then when the battle actually took place, it was trial and error until they got around to yanking the helmet and hitting the psychic whammy.

So the helmet bit didn’t work – now the X-Men have to come up with a new strategy.  That’s cool.  Chances are that it will take them two more issues to get it done and then they’ll win the day.  I have yet to read any of the actual Fear Itself story and thus I don’t know what this has to do with the big picture (if anything – apparently Juggernaut is also appearing in his usual book, Thunderbolts).  If nothing else, it’s a good fight scene.  Four issues may be a bit much though if the story doesn’t actually lead anywhere, and if former Big Event tie-ins are any indication, it probably won’t.

The big thing going on here is that Wolfsbane is having a baby.  Well, she’s pretty pregnant at least – she’s not actually having it right now.  You get what I’m trying to say.  Wolfsbane was yanked from the pages of X-Factor to be chucked into X-Force for no particular reason and when Peter David managed to get her back, she had been knocked up by an Asgardian wolf prince.  I can’t think what exactly Chris Yost and Craig Kyle were thinking with that plot point – maybe they weren’t expecting to leave the title when they did.  Whatever the case may have been, Rahne returned to X-Factor knocked up and Peter David got to deal with it.

He could have taken the easy way out, like having a miscarriage or something, but instead he’s taken the idea and run with it.  Turns out Rahne’s baby – the offspring of a mutant and a god – is a big deal amongst several demon/spirit circles and they’re all trying to get at it.  So Wolfsbane (with Shatterstar in tow) have been running for their lives while the rest of the team kind of sits around and waits for the matter to come to them.  We also know that Pip the Troll (X-Factor’s secretary) also has an interest in the kid, which probably means he’s still working for Hela.

The story is kind of confusing – especially trying to figure out why the spirit of Feral is running around – but it definitely seems to be going somewhere.  As for the cameo I mentioned above, that would be Jack Russel, the Werewolf by Night.  If you don’t know the name, don’t feel bad.  Werewolf by Night was a comic that ran in the 1970’s and Marvel occasionally has him pop up once in a while.  The only thing really memorable about the original series is that it featured the first appearance of Moon Knight…so there is that.  I’m not at all familiar with the character to really comment on him here, but I guess it’s neat enough.

I just hope this story gets where it’s going soon.  It’s starting to drag.

Over in the second-most-pointless X-book around (Astonishing takes the cake), we’re finishing up First to Last, Chris Yost’s guest writing story that Marvel gave quite a bit of hype to.  Now that the story’s done, I can’t really figure out why the story got so much hype, save for trying to boost sales on X-Men: Giant Size #1 which kicked off the story.  It turned out to be nothing really special.

After building and building to something that Cyclops did to the Evolutionaries in the Silver Age that was revealed to everyone in the cliffhanger of the penultimate issue, the finale doesn’t at all live up to the hype.  The reveal is that Cyclops had Beast build a device that killed a couple of the creatures and then the survivors ran off while blocking out the memories of what had happened.  Except that Jean Grey managed to hide a reminder into Cyclops’s head which is why the whole thing donned on him when they returned on Utopia.  So the solution?  Have Madison Jeffries build another one and do the exact same thing.

I’ve been seeing a lot of praise for this story, but a lot of it didn’t sit well with me.  Perhaps it’s that I recently read the Silver Age X-Men and found a lot of the stuff there out of character.  The first flashback sequence shows the X-Men and the Brotherhood confronting a Sentinel for the very first time.  That would put this issue very early in the team history.  That being the case, a lot of the flashback sequences involving Cyclops came very out of character.  His closeness to Jean was very far off from being established and his confidence level was not nearly to the point where he would be screaming that he was the champion of humanity.  But maybe I’m looking into it too much.

I kept expecting the flashback sequences to lead into something substantial, but nothing came from them.  Earlier issues had set up something in which the characters who had been around for the initial confrontation – namely Iceman, Angel, Magneto and Toad – were each doing something about it, but that was abandoned as everyone joined in to fight for humanity.  Well, not Toad, but his deal alongside the Morlocks was thrown aside with no conclusion.  Did the Stepford Cuckoo who got maimed by Masque get healed?  The story didn’t bother to go back to them.

There was a l0t of issues I had with this storyline and it left me feeling let down.  But that seems to be the running theme with X-Men.

Next Week
Schism headlines a busier week this coming week.  Here’s what will be going down:

  • Astonishing X-Men #40 finally gets back to the Brood story.
  • New Mutants #28 gives the team some counseling for their issues.
  • Uncanny X-Force #12 rolls on through the Age of Apocalypse.
  • X-Men Legacy #252 continues the search for Legion’s personas.
  • X-Men: Schism #2 continues the Super Mega X-Event.

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