New Comic Day hangover

We’re making up for last week since I waited until Saturday to pick them up and since both weeks only gave me five titles together I decided to merge them together to add more meat to the piece.  It makes sense to me.

Anyway, this week we’ll be looking at:

  • Astonishing X-Men #42 in which the second rotating story about the Brood wraps.
  • New Mutants #31 in which the Fear Itself tie-in continues.
  • X-Men #19 in which the FF crossover wraps.
  • X-Men Legacy #256 in which we get more deep space shenanigans.
  • X-Men: Schism #5 (of 5) in which we get the new status quo of the X-Men line.

We’ll begin after the jump and as always there will be some SPOILERS to deal with.

Astonishing X-Men #42
I know that I complain about this book’s schedule any time I review this book, so this time I’m going to lay off.  While every other book in the X-Men line seems to have some kind of purpose (X-Men notwithstanding for now) Astonishing has fallen out of this mode through it’s numerous delays and thus Marvel has seemed fit to retool it into a “loosely in-continuity” title in which all the familiar characters are there and it’s up to the fanboys (like me!) to go back and fit it into the big picture somewhere.  Realistically, they’re doing the exact same thing with X-Men right now, but at least that book seems to be getting some resemblance of stability post-Schism.  This book doesn’t even have a regular creative team – it’s basically the third coming of X-Men Unlimited hiding behind a once-popular name.

Last issue finished off Daniel Way’s Japan story with half of the book’s roster and this one wraps up Christos Gage’s Brood storyline that was running in every other issue.  In case you had forgotten, the X-Men present had run into a problem in which they faced the Brood on the brink of extinction, only with the issue that the interstellar food chain needs the Brood to deal with the population of other species.  I wasn’t really sold on the matter since in the history of the X-Men the Brood have been “extinct” like three times with no one ever raising the issue.  Hell, the X-Men blew up their homeworld with no one in the Shi’ar, who were quite familiar with them, complaining about the matter.

But anyway, most of the cast becomes the usual Brood hosts leaving Kitty Pryde (still stuck in her intangible status, putting this quite a bit behind Uncanny) and her pet dragon Lockheed to run around and save the day.  The reunion of Kitty and Lockheed seems to be the general purpose of this issue since nothing else really happens of consequence.  The Brood head off to set around waiting for their next appearance, Agent Brand and Beast remind us that Beast and Cyclops don’t like each other, and Lockheed leaves SWORD to return to Kitty’s side, which is good since she just broke up with Colossus over in Uncanny.  This would probably have been a bigger deal had the SWORD series made it past six issues – me, I for some reason had thought that Lockheed had already come to Utopia.  No idea why.

Perfectly acceptable story except for one thing that really bothers me.  Agent Brand, Beast, Storm, Colossus all get infected by Brood embryos and begin their transformations, yet are perfectly fine at the conclusion of the story, explaining that SWORD simply removed them.  I recall the original Brood-infestation story back during Chris Claremont/Dave Cockrum’s excellent Broodworld story in which there was no saving the infected – death was the only salvation.  Well, there was a mystical solution but that was hardly available here.  Even the advanced technology of the Shi’ar had to remove the infected Professor X’s brain and put it into a cloned body (history lesson – that’s how he started walking again in the 80’s).  Yet here they’re just “we got them out -happy day!”.  I suppose it’s a rather unimportant tidbit, but it kind of irks me.

New Mutants
Yet another Fear Itself tie-in that leaves me feeling lost because I’m not reading the main book itself.  This one is completely different from the Uncanny X-Men and Uncanny X-Force tie-ins, with the team dealing with the Asgardian field itself.  And honestly, until this story, I didn’t even realize Fear Itself was so rooted into Asgard.  After all, didn’t we just deal with all the Norse stuff back in Siege?

Anyway, last issue we had Dani Moonstar get gobbled up by a giant something-or-other while the rest of the team escaped Hell (with two ‘L’s) and make it to Hel (with one L) to back her up.  This issue, Dani cuts her way out of the creature and meets up with her teammates.  And that’s pretty much all there is to it.  We get a few charming exchanges between Magma and Sunspot over her agreement with Mephisto last issue and Dani gets her prerequisite badass moment (which seems to be a requirement of this book), but this issue really feels stretched out.  It will probably be perfect for the nice set of collected volumes with the other Fear Itself books, so I understand it.

I just wish New Mutants wasn’t being tied up in yet ANOTHER major event.  Between Necrosha, Second Coming, Siege, Age of X and now Fear Itself in its 31 issues, this title feels like it hardly ever gets an opportunity to do its own thing before it’s whisked away into something “bigger”.

X-Men
And now the next issue of “X-Men: Team Up“.  We’re now 19 issues into this book and I still can’t justify why I’m bothering to shill out $4 a month on it other than the fact that I’m a completist and if I miss something important happens I’ll hate myself for missing it (the same reason I came back to Uncanny X-Force, though that book made a believer out of me).  This story dug up rather unimportant side-character Lee Forrester from the depths of mid-80’s continuity (apparently Stevie Hunter and Tom Corsi were busy) to give a reason for the Future Foundation and X-Men a reason to get together for a mission.  But really this story boils down to two themes – Magneto and Dr. Doom are both the signature villains now working with their respective teams, and Thing and Wolverine say funny things when they’re around each other.

There’s really nothing else of consequence in this story.  We don’t really get any reaction between Lee Forrester and her former love interests of Cyclops or Magneto, which means her presence didn’t matter at all besides to give the FF a reason to ask the X-Men for help.  Even her decision at the end of the issue to stay in the alternate dimension and thus removing the possibility of future appearances lacked any kind of emotional response from the reader since no one has bothered to use her in nearly 30 years.  Most readers probably didn’t even know who she was beyond the recap page’s description of “one-time girlfriend of Cyclops” which isn’t even an accurate description.  I suppose the more naive reader might have believed that Dr. Doom was really going to betray the heroes, but if that was going to happen, wouldn’t it happen in his own book?

I’m hoping that this book gets a purpose starting next issue, but being that the cover seems to be a splash of Storm and War Machine, I’m not holding my breath.

X-Men Legacy
Legacy continues its effort to get Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl back into the X-Men fold and for that I applaud them.  Last issue we saw Havok and Polaris acting crazy, giving us a good old X-Men vs. X-Men fight and this issue we find out that the culprit was mind control.  This is the type of thing I used to commonly complain about when Chris Claremont was doing it in X-Treme and Uncanny X-Men, but the difference here is that it’s not being done in every single issue.  And it serves a nice purpose to further the story, rather than being put in because it’s neat.

Care is taken on how long the three space-faring X-Men have been gone, especially with Havok and Polaris’s reactions to Magneto’s presence (leading to a great bit of dialogue between the two in which Magneto politely reprimands him with “Havok will watch our backs, or else practice breathing without oxygen”).  If I have any kind of complaint about the issue it’s how Steve Kurth’s drawing of the Shi’ar people, especially Rachel’s boyfriend Korvus.  In drawing his head with black, spikey hair rather than the feathers that Shi’ar have, he’s managed to turn Korvus in Zack Fair of Final Fantasy VII.  The big, honking buster sword doesn’t help the image.

Well, then I suppose there’s Rogue.  Since around 1991, Rogue has had a habit of making dumb decisions for little-to-no reason.  This time she’s insisting on keeping all of the memories she absorbed from the dead and dying of the Age of X timeline to honor her role as Legacy in that world.  The problem with that is that now she’s holding all of that in her head, she’s basically filled so far to capacity (that seemingly would allow her own persona to stay in control) that she has to do some shuffling to absorb anything else.  So here that means that she has to drop the universe-hopping power she absorbed from Legion so she can nab the memories of a dying Shi’ar soldier so she can save the space colony that they’re on from blowing up and killing it’s millions of inhabitants.  And why is she keeping all those other memories in her head, you ask?  There is no logical reason for it beyond a sense of duty for a bunch of people that never really existed to begin with.  Or else it just serves to expand the plot into another huge problem.  But nevermind that Rogue can absorb some of Frenzy’s powers immediately afterward without having to release her information about saving the space station.  Why could she keep that and not Legion’s power?  Hell if I know.  I like Rogue’s power control – I feel that it’s really made her a much better character – but this is kind of odd.

X-Men: Schism
And here we are, closing up the big event that gives us the brand new direction of the X-Men line.  As it turns out, Cyclops and Wolverine split up and go their separate ways, splitting the X-Men up with them!  Whoa!  Did you see that one coming?  Despite Marvel’s not-so-vague hints that Cyclops wouldn’t be making it out alive, Schism came to the exact conclusion that Marvel had announced before it even began, before they realized that they should actually try to get people to buy the book rather than simply giving away the end result to hype the new direction.

So what did this series really give us beyond the foregone conclusion?  Three things: one, the return of Quentin Quire, Kid Omega.  Introduced during ‘Riot at Xavier’s’ in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Quire was always an odd case not in how he was portrayed during the story but rather just what happened to him at its conclusion.  It was implied at the close of the story that he had evolved into something more than human, and he was kind of written off as dead.  He also made an appearance in Morrison’s finale ‘Here Comes Tomorrow’ as a white Phoenix, but god knows I still can’t figure out what the hell that story tried to accomplish with its Phoenix nonsense.  Then he popped back up for the Phoenix: Endsong mini-series only to be knocked back into whatever state he had been in until now.  I suppose having him back into his ‘Riot’ state of being is better than having him in a catatonic state, so I guess I’ll go with it.  He’s an interesting character with his anti-authority douchebag mindset and he’ll be a good foil to Wolverine.

Second, we get a new band of Hellfire Club baddies in the form of a group of kids who really have no real purpose for being other than being novelty villains.  They showed up briefly to give a bit more plot to the story and then vanished until two panels at the very end.  There’s nothing really to the kids, though I suspect they’ll be serving as the antagonists to Generation Hope, especially with a mindwiped Sebastian Shaw looking to join the title’s cast.  I’ll hold off on my judgment until I see more of them, though thus far I’m not really impressed.  I feel like these kids could have easily been portrayed as teenagers and gotten the same effect.

Thirdly, we’ve introduced new Sentinel technology and gotten it spread unto the world.  Sentinels were one of those things that are always implied to be a really big deal but were never established enough to really hold a lasting threat.  The few times they’ve served as a real antagonist to the X-Men they’ve been used by a lone controller, usually acting on his own accords.  Occasionally we are shown the government having a surplus of them, but it seems like it ends badly every time they are utilized (remember Onslaught, anyone?), but it can be portrayed as a political statement that the government still seems willing to invest in technology that proves deficient time and time again.  This time we get the Real Big Threat looming on Utopia serving as little more than a backdrop for the huge fight between Wolverine and Cyclops.  Once that fight ends and all the X-Men and allies start fighting, they beat the thing in about five pages without a single word of dialogue.  It reminds me of the big vampire fight in Curse of the Mutants, but really the Sentinel fight wasn’t important like the vampire one should have been.  It was a reason for the argument between the two leaders which was the important thing.

So we have Cyclops staying on Utopia and Wolverine heading back to the ruins of the X-Mansion in Westchester (you’d think someone would have cleared up the rubble by now).  Who went with him?  Well, you have to shill out four more bucks next week on X-Men: Regenesis to find out that one.  Those that were shown were Iceman, Pixie, Rockslide, Anole, Armor, Dust, Blindfold, Glob Herman (making his first appearance since Riot at Xavier’s), Oya, and Kid Omega (bound and gagged).  It seems that the New X-Men kids are with Wolverine while the “Five Lights” (save Oya) are staying with Cyclops.  We’ll see, I guess.

And that’s it for this week!  Next week, provided I get my comics on time, we’ll be looking at:

  • Alpha Flight #5 continuing the Canadian threat to the team.
  • Generation Hope #12 showing us the Schism finale from the kid’s perspective.
  • Uncanny X-Force #16 continuing the Angelocalypse story.
  • X-Men Legacy #257 finishing up the space story.
  • X-Men Regenesis #1 telling information that probably could have been covered here.
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