eXaminations: 1/18/12

I will hand this to Marvel – despite their inability to set any kind of solid schedule for the release of their books (unlike DC, Marvel tends to ship books on the “whenever they’re done” schedule) they have thus far managed to give the X-Men titles some kind of divide where the Wolverine books come out together, as do the Cyclops books.

Well, almost…but 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.  We’ll be checking out:

  • Generation Hope #15 in which Sebastian Shaw isn’t exactly welcome on Utopia.
  • New Mutants #36 in which the team finishes the Blink mission.
  • Uncanny X-Force #20 in which Fantomex goes on trial.
  • Uncanny X-Men #5 in which the team notices what’s been going on in other books.

We’ll begin after the jump.  Do be weary of SPOILERS within.

Generation Hope
Once upon a time there was the mean (yet fabulously dressed) man named Sebastian Shaw that did a lot of awful things.  Dark Phoenix, Sentinel manufacturing, stop me if you’ve heard these before.  Then, a pretty lady decided to get rid of him but found she couldn’t bring herself to kill him so instead she wiped his mind and left him somewhere on the eastern hemisphere.  Know this story?  Hope and her team did not, so when they brought the memory-free Shaw to Utopia, the proverbial sh*t hit the fan.

Despite the cover solicitations, Shaw has little to do with this issue.  Instead we have a discussion between Cyclops and Emma Frost not only of what she did to Shaw, but also about what Hope did to bring him there.  And it’s a tricky problem since technically Hope and her group were doing exactly what Cyclops has been having them do since they came to Utopia.  They detected a new mutant signature and went to go get it.  For them to suddenly have the ire of the X-Men for doing so is a bit of an odd bag for them.

The other side of the issue is spent with a confrontation between the Lights and some of the D-list mutants who hang around in the background of panels.  D-list being Dragoness, Random, Erg, Litterbug, and that Morlock girl with the face-tongue thing.  They are none too happy about these new mutants showing up on Utopia and getting preferential treatment while they have been there the whole time, fighting the Necroshas, Nimrod attacks and Sentinel strikes without any reward from the higher-ups.  And the funny thing is they have a very valid point.  Now that half the island’s populace have returned to the X-Mansion, why can’t the ones left take their spots?

The main point of this book has become everyone fearing Hope’s potential, which doesn’t really mesh well with her role in Uncanny X-Men in which she’s just another member of the team.  I have a feeling this book’s not going to make it past the A vs. X event this summer, but until that comes it has become an unexpectedly solid title.  Except for this month’s art, which has a weird mix of horribly positioned battle poses (Psylocke leaps towards Shaw, completely contorting her body, then stands perfectly still) and strangely flowing female hair.  Not so good.

New Mutants
The final part of the Blink storyline finishes up with a “and then the good guys win, the end” finale.  I was guessing that Blink would be joining the cast of the book, but I was wrong.  Instead, it seems that she’s going to be heading over to Team Wolverine, which I assume is because they need a worldwide teleporter since Pixie stayed behind for Generation Hope.  There wasn’t much to this storyline other than getting Blink to the school – generic possessed villains and the problem chucked into space.  What?

There’s not much here to really cling onto.  This isn’t the Blink you’re probably familiar with – the Age of Apocalypse/Exiles one.  That one is…well, MIA I suppose, since Exiles got cancelled and she’s not been one of the AoA X-Men bodycount over in Uncanny X-Force.  The mainstream Blink (or 616 version, if you want to get really nerdy about it) doesn’t have much to her character.  Since her debut back in 1994, this is only her third story and in those three stories she’s been completely different characters.  In the Phalanx Covenant she was a ridiculously shy girl that spoke in a whisper and ended up dying to save the day since the story needed to end at the close of the 4th issue and there wasn’t any other way to do it.  She was brought back in Necrosha as a cold-blooded killer, which wasn’t that good of an idea, really (much like the entire story itself).  Here, she’s a generic hero doing good for the sake of doing good.  There’s no mention to her horrors in Necrosha, but really that’s for the best since they’re trying to actually use the character going forward.  This feels more like our Blink being like the AoA Blink because that’s how Blink is supposed to be.

I really hate to say it, but DnA are starting to lose me on this book.

Uncanny X-Force
There are few better things you can dig up to prove your hardcore nerd credentials than the Marvel UK multiverse, but here we are.  Captain Britain, Saturnyne, Braddocks aplenty – all we need is Alan Davis and this will feel like a jolly good homecoming.  With Psylocke’s telepathy being restored, her link with her twin brother makes its return and thus he learns about what Fantomex did to the reborn child En Sabah Nur and we have a trial on our hands.  While the face of this is a trial for Fantomex’s capping the kid in the book’s opening story, the real deal seems to be that these guardians of the Marvel multiverse are unnerved that Fantomex has no equivalent in any other reality.  And since that’s not normal for them, they figure the best way to deal with him is to just eradicate him before anything might or might not happen.  Simple enough?

Every story that Rick Remender has written in this title has shown a love and understanding of even the minutest of X-Men lore.  That’s what I absolutely love about Uncanny X-Force.  Unlike its predecessor, this book is not simply a mindless run through blood and gore, but rather a wonderful foray into new ground using that which has long been established.  First we had the Apocalypse lore of Louise Simonson’s X-Factor and now we’re dealing with Claremont and Davis’ (and Alan Moore if you were a long ago British reader) UK stuff.  For nerds like me, it’s a wonderful nostalgia trip.  For those not as into the past stories, it’s still an excellent read.

This issue also establishes the basis of the team’s new member, the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler.  His inclusion seems to be a taunting on the part of the creators towards the fans who so desperately want our Kurt Wagner back, as not only is this Nightcrawler not ours (as he himself repeatedly states) but he’s downright unlikable.  It serves to make us curse the name of Bastion even more for the death he caused.

Uncanny X-Men
Much like Wolverine and the X-Men did with the blank-slate Angel himself, Uncanny picks up the fallout from the Dark Angel Saga in Uncanny X-Force by exploring Tabula Rasa – the new world Archangel and his Horsemen created after nuking an entire Montana town.  In years past, the X-books have done their best to ignore the goings on in their line’s other titles (except for the really big crossover events), so it’s nice to see that a story as important as the Dark Angel Saga is getting some play on both sides of the X-Men spectrum.

On a similar note, it’s also beneficial to Psylocke that the titles are interacting with one another, since she is the lone character playing for both Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine (unbeknownst to the former).  The mission is disguised as Psylocke doing the job Cyclops assigned her – a spy seeking a preemptive watch for trouble – while taking care of the leftovers of what she herself was a part of with X-Force.  Psylocke is dancing a very thin line -Magneto is already aware of her being a part of X-Force – and her duplicity is taking her back to the shady character she was when she was originally brought to the X-Men over 20 years ago.  And I like that a lot.

Oh, and Psylocke commenting on her numerous X-Men appearances (she’s in Uncanny, X-Men and X-Force), comparing herself to Wolverine?  Golden.

Next Week

  • Alpha Flight #8 finishes up the limited, so we’ll be taking an in-depth look.
  • Astonishing X-Men #46 continues the multiverse story.
  • X-Men Legacy #261 kicks off the first non-Mike Carey story in years.

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