New Comic Day Hangover

It’s been exactly one month since anyone has posted in Comicdom Wrecks! and for that, to our normal readers, I must apologize for that.  It’s been a month full of unplanned changes for me (a whole year of them, really) and I’m finally starting to get back into the swing of things.

But as much as I’m sure you’d like to hear how my life’s going, you’re most likely here to find out about what I’ve been reading.  So this week we’ll be covering:

  • Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3 (of 3) in which the story that has nothing to do with Fear Itself wraps up.
  • Generation Hope #10-11 in which…oh wait, did I mention I’m reading Generation Hope now?
  • Uncanny X-Men #543 in which we are introduced to the Unstoppable Juggerlossus.
  • X-Factor #225 in which the team gets a new case.
  • X-Men #18 in which we continue the Bermuda Triangle mystery.
  • X-Men: Schism #4 (of 5) where Cyclops and Wolverine finally duke it out.

I probably should mention that once you pass the jump, there will be SPOILERS.  Let’s do this.

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force
Despite what the title may say, this story really had nothing to do with Fear Itself.  The first issue had a small mention of the events going on and then the X-Force crew set off on a completely unrelated side trip.  This is the type of thing that usually annoys the hell out of me, especially since Uncanny X-Force‘s usual writer Rick Remender wasn’t involved, but this mini has the benefit of actually being a very enjoyable story.  And isn’t that what’s important?  The story’s straightforward – a villain shows up under the Fear Itself radar and X-Force goes off to kill him – and writer Rob Williams does a fine job with it.  He has the voice of all the major characters and doesn’t try to do anything with Archangel, which is good with all that’s going on in the main book.  Oh, and Simone Bianchi’s art is flat out gorgeous.  A solid, if unimportant book.

Generation Hope
This was the one team X- book I had been hesitant to pick up as I had not been wild about the introductory story in Uncanny X-Men and to be honest, the character Hope kind of bores me.  However, one of its characters made an impact on me during Schism and the preview image featuring Sebastian Shaw got me interested enough to pick up the first trade and I liked it.  So with the Schism tie-in, I have begun picking this book up monthly as well.  For those of you counting, that makes eight monthly X-titles (Uncanny, Legacy, X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor, Wolverine & the when it debuts, New Mutants, Generation Hope) along with Astonishing whenever it feels like coming out.  Maybe I should change this column’s name to something involving X-titles.

Oh look – I’ve gone off on a tangent.

Generation Hope is surprisingly the only X-book that’s really bothering to tie into Schism (which is odd being that the likes of Messiah CompleX and Second Coming hijacked the entire line) but really its the one that needs to.  As I’ll discuss below, the main split between Cyclops and Wolverine is between the role the X-kids are being put into and here we have a chance to see what said kids are actually thinking about the whole deal.  While the main focus, of course, is on Oya (who served as the main catalyst of the split), we also get some tension between _ and Hope (good that I’m not the only one who doesn’t like her).  All that has been thrown on these kids is coming to a head here and we’re certainly seeing the lines being drawn.  I’m intrigued to see where they all go from here, since the five of them have really not had anything to do whatsoever without the others around them.

But the real plus about this story is the inclusion of the New X-Men kids.  It’s been so long since they’ve had a role in anything (well, except for Pixie, Armor and the Stepford Cuckoos) it’s easy to have forgotten that the X-Men already had a popular group of young mutants built up until Young X-Men pretty much drove the effort into the ground.  Legacy tried to pick it up a bit but it’s been busy since Age of X so the likes of Rockslide, Prodigy, Anole, Dust and Hellion have been hanging around the background with nothing to do.  It’s been a waste of well-developed characters.  Finally the two groups are coming together and realizing that they have quite a bit in common and are now standing together.

With Generation Hope looking to lose a cast member after Schism, here’s hoping that the New X-Men kids stick around in the title.  At least let them do SOMETHING.

Uncanny X-Men
A little bit down this part I’m going to bitch about continuity and timeline match-ups.  I’ll warn you when I get there, okay?

The X-Men tie-in to Fear Itself is the final story for the current “all mutants on Utopia” status quo for Uncanny as well as the last multi-part story for the 48 year run of Uncanny X-Men.  Next month’s issue will be the final one and then the book gets relaunched with a new #1.  And that’s fine – I was irked by it at first but I’m over it now.  Fear Itself has given Uncanny a chance to tell the first truly “Unstoppable Juggernaut” story since his first appearance back in the days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  But really, the story’s not about Juggernaut himself, but the changes done to Colossus in order to stop him.

As you likely know, Juggernaut got his powers from the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak way back in the Korean War (removed as to not make Professor X over 80 years old).  Cyclops launches a plan that sends Magik, Colossus and Kitty Pryde to face Cyttorak and let the entity know that its servant is now serving another.  Long story short, Colossus steps forward and takes the power of the Juggernaut and stops Cain Marko’s rampage, the end.  But there’s more to it than that.

Apparently the original plan was to have Magik take the role from Cytorrak as she was familiar with demonic powers being the mistress of Limbo and all.  Colossus, unwilling to let his sister suffer further, took the role for himself.  And since he was so selfless, Kitty dumps him and walks away.  It’s kind of a weak end to the relationship and hopefully something more will come of this.  The Juggernaut influence on Colossus will be something big for the character, as now he will be juggling the gentle nature of Peter Rasputin with the horrible power of the Juggernaut.  It’s the most interesting thing done with the character since Joss Whedon brought him back to life.

The other big development in this story was the relationship between Utopia and the city of San Francisco.  Juggernaut’s offer was that one group destroy the other or he will destroy them both.  The city began taking steps to destroy Utopia and the X-Men are well aware of it.  This has put the first real wedge between Cyclops and Mayor Sinclair and it will likely move further in Uncanny post-Schism.

Okay, and now my continuity complaint.  Scroll down to the next bold word if you don’t want to hear my nerd rant.  This story has a very important development for Colossus, and one that – judging by future solicitations – will be sticking.  But over in the Schism mini-series, Colossus is taken down by the Hellfire kids along with Emma Frost, Namor and Iceman.  He’s lacking the Juggernaut powers.  That would suggest that Schism takes place before this Fear Itself tie-in, but that doesn’t work because all the mutants are still on Utopia to fight Juggernaut.  See?  That pisses me off, as unimportant as it is.

Okay, let’s move on.

X-Factor
I love this book.  Have I ever mentioned that?  For further proof, this is the one book I’ve seen that’s successfully pulled off Marvel’s ill-thought out Point One premise in which special books are launched as jumping on points to establish the the book’s premise and start a story.  X-Factor’s nailed it, introducing the entire cast and kicking off the new story.  And even if you missed the issue, you can still pick up the story here and follow what’s been going on.

In the Point One issue, Madrox met a woman and her son in the house he lived in as a child and after they left the woman was killed and the boy is missing.  Cue the mystery.  That’s the basic premise of the book, and there’s not really a lot to say about it.  It’s X-Factor and it’s good.  Some of the simmering plot points are moved forward – Madrox confronts Layla about reviving Strong Guy from death, Wolfsbane and Banshee talk about their birthing horror stories and the title deals with Rictor having regained his powers in the Young Avengers: Childrens’ Crusade limited series that I’m not reading.

As always, an excellent issue.

X-Men
There are a few instances in which I have an opportunity to prove how big of an X-Men nerd I really am.  When these instances come up, I usually go into the more ridiculous aspects of the back history like the X-Men’s Bermuda Triangle base.  What, you didn’t know the X-Men temporarily abandoned the X-Mansion to set up shop in an ancient alien temple unearthed by Magneto in the Bermuda Triangle?  It kind of led to Illyana Rasputin becoming Magik…sort of.

I only bring this up because that story had a long-forgotten side character named Lee Forrester, a romantic interest of both Cyclops and Magneto, who is being used here.  And that’s really all there is to it.  This is a common X-Men team-up issue.  It’s got the Future Foundation and it’s got the X-Men.  They’re running around and doing stuff.  And that’s pretty much it.  It’s good for what it is, but there’s not really much to go on.  Hopefully this book gets some kind of purpose once Schism finishes

X-Men: Schism
And here we are.  The solicitations have all been released and we know who’s going on whose side.  So now all we have to do is finish up the mini series and start the news direction.  The main point of Schism is that in all the running, hiding and surviving, the X-Men have lost their direction.  Cyclops is ready to send the young mutants in to fight to defend their island nation of Utopia while Wolverine is arguing that all he’s been doing has been to prevent them from doing this and that the kids should just get off the stupid rock.  And then an awkward Jean Grey line is tossed in and the fight breaks out.

Schism hasn’t exactly been a good read.  It’s more of a means to an end.  The line needs to be split with the books in various places and this is the way it’s going to be done.  It’s the same way that DC used Flashpoint to relaunch its new DCU.  The book is standard fare and that’s fine.  It only shines if you have the context to go with it.  Everything that’s happened since Messiah CompleX – when the X-Men fled Westchester and headed to San Francisco, has not gone well for them as planned and now it’s falling apart.

Schism isn’t about the book.  It’s about the aftermath – and looking at it like that, this whole deal is pretty exciting.

Coming Up
We’ll try to get back on track here and stay consistent.  So next week we’ll be looking at:

  • Astonishing X-Men #42 finishes the lackluster Brood story.
  • New Mutants #31 continues the Fear Itself tie-in.
  • X-Men Legacy #256 keeps the space adventures going!

I’ll try to go back and get caught up on what I’ve missed in the last month…and there’s still more Chuck Austen to come!

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