eXaminations: 1/11/12 releases

Since we relaunched Comicdom Wrecks!, I’ve written a column called the New Comic Day Hangover for reviewing new issues.  I’ve written over 30 of them (probably more).  But as time has gone on, I’ve dropped all the non X-Men books I was reading and thus I no longer find the title appropriate since it’s such a narrow field of reviews.  So thus, what was New Comic Day Hangover is now eXaminations.

This week we’re looking at:

  • Wolverine and the X-Men #4 in which life gets back to normal at the school.
  • X-Factor #23o in which the team tries to come to grips with its recent loss.
  • X-Men Legacy #260.1 in which we get our first post-Mike Carey glimpse.

As is the norm, we will be looking at the issues assuming you’ve already read them or don’t mind SPOILERS.

Wolverine and the X-Men
While the first three-issue story was used to set up the rather ridiculous norm of this title, this issue takes a moment to allow readers to catch their breath and get used to some of the things they may have missed.  If you haven’t been reading Uncanny X-Force (and man, you should be) you might have missed that Angel died and was reborn without his memories and Fantomex managed to clone the Apocalypse child whom he had killed.  Wolverine revealed the existence of X-Force to his senior staff and now they are responsible for making sure the kid (now called Genesis) is raised right.  Also, we deal with some of Angel’s friends reacting to his new status, most notably Iceman who is now not so trusting of Wolverine because of what happened to Warren.  In that case, this issue serves to take the leftover baggage from the X-Force epic and move it over here, since neither Genesis nor Angel really have a place there anymore.

Beyond that, there are a lot of little character moments that makes this book such a fun read.  During the staff meeting, Husk complains that the students aren’t listening to her, only to be completely cut off by Beast, who apparently was ignoring her.  Deathlok is brought in as a guest lecturer for a Future History class with predictable results.  And the rather nerdy Brood-child Broo (a rare example of an Astonishing X-Men plot-point actually meaning something) is swiftly becoming my favorite character ever.

There’s a lot to like about this book.  Oh, and Kitty’s very pregnant at the end.  How about that.

You have to give it to Peter David – he can make good on his promise to kill off a character without actually killing them off.  As far as X-Factor is concerned, Jamie Madrox is very much dead, but to the reader he’s still a main focus of the book as he is jumping from reality to reality for some purpose that has not become clear thus far.  It’s not the first time Jamie’s been pulled from his team, but this time they think he’s dead.

Jamie’s absence shows just how important he is to the team, as all the little problems going on suddenly come to a head.  Wolfsbane freaks out that Wolverine has shown up, since her life was pretty much trashed because of his black-ops team.  M is freaked out by the revelation that Strong Guy doesn’t have a soul.  The debate starts as a matter of what a soul really means, but ends up becoming a religious debate between the Catholic Banshee and the Muslim M.  Even Pip the Troll chimes in, reminding everyone of all the craziness of death in comics.  What does a soul really mean after all?

The argument leads all the team bickering with one another until Wolverine finally comes in and stops the yelling, saying that the team needs some leadership and presents Havok and Polaris, fresh off their return to Earth over in X-Men Legacy.  And with their introduction, Peter David finally gets his entire crew back for the first time since relaunching X-Factor.  I’m excited by this prospect, but I have to mention that expanding the already large cast to 12 does raise a flag…and I’m a Legion of Super-Heroes fan.  But I do love Peter David and trust that he’ll make the best of it.  He always does.

X-Men Legacy
Is Marvel really still trying with its Point One mess?  Okay, I suppose I really shouldn’t knock it since this is a rare example of the model being used appropriately.  The title has been the baby of Mike Carey for years, and this issue is not only the first written by incoming writer Christos Gage, but also the first with the book’s cast new place on Team Wolverine.

The issue is a by-the-book introduction.  A familiar threat (familiar to me, at least) pops up and the cast deals with it.  Legacy seems to be setting itself up as the fighting arm of Team Wolverine.  While Wolverine and the X-Men deals with the school proper, Legacy takes care of the fighting so that the kids don’t have to.  After all, the key point of Schism was keeping the kids out of harm’s way.  So while being teachers at the school, Rogue’s team also deals with keeping the students safe.

The fun part of the issue is that the battle is waged with the members of the institute trying to keep the students thinking that nothing is wrong.  That means Beast lectures the students on the enemies Rogue’s team is fighting, which in turn gives them a battle briefing to better combat their enemies.  The enemy in question is one hell of a throw back in the N’Garai demons, the third ever enemies fought by the all-new, all-different X-Men waaaaaay back in 1975.  With Krakoa having shown up in Wolverine and the X-Men, I’m eagerly awaiting someone from the X-Men finally getting around to attacking Count Nefaria and avenging Thunderbird’s death.  Now there’s a story that no writer has ever touched upon.

Along with the big battle, there are a couple of other plot points touched upon.  For the first time ever, Cannonball and Husk are in the same title, and apparently Husk isn’t doing too well with the return to Westchester as it reminds her of the death of her brother Jay.  Also, Frenzy is butting in on Gambit’s infatuation with Rogue (who apparently had chosen Magneto over him) and manages to get a liplock out of him.  There’s a lot to look forward to in this book.

But I do have a couple of nitpicks to deal with.  The thought of removing the graveyard from the grounds is harsh, being that it ended up there because many of the deceased students’ families didn’t want their childrens’ remains.  So they exhume the bodies and do what with them?  Husk’s attack on the N’Garai involves her shedding her skin into a fire form and then shooting fire at the demon…but her power doesn’t really work that way.  She can turn her skin into any kind of solid matter.  A fire form isn’t something she could do – it’s her skin that transforms, not her entire body.  Even if that was the case, she shouldn’t be able to manifest a fire blast.  Too nerdy?

And finally, in the sequence where Rogue borrows some of the students’ powers, Dust is shown in the classroom sitting behind Gentle and Idie.  Dust was originally announced as going to Wolverine’s side, then shown having stayed on Utopia with Cyclops, and is now back in the school.  Whoever edits this stuff needs to pick a side for her and make sure everyone knows what it is.  It’s a basic enough step.

So a pretty good week, I must say.  Team Wolverine is coming along quite nicely.

Next Week

  • Generation Hope #15 sees the X-Men’s reaction to Sebastian Shaw’s coming.
  • New Mutants #36 continues the return of Blink.
  • Uncanny X-Force #20 begins the Captain Britain story.
  • Uncanny X-Men #5…uh, I don’t know what’s going on in this issue, actually.

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