eXaminations: 2/22/12, Part 2

Welcome back.  For this part, we’ll be looking at:

  • Wolverine & the X-Men #5 & 6 in which Kitty gets all preggers…kind of.
  • Wolverine & the X-Men #2 (of 5) in which Quentin Quire’s plan shows flaws.
  • X-Factor #231 & 232 in which Madrox keeps on his death-inducing reality hops.
  • X-Men #24 & 25 in which Jubilee gets some vampire therapy.
  • X-Men Legacy #261 & 262 in which Team Wolverine has some Biblical-level issues.

Earlier SPOILER alert is still in effect.

Wolverine & the X-Men
You may recall that last issue, Kitty Pryde left class to go vomit in the teacher’s lounge and left the room in the late stages of pregnancy.  It takes her two days but she finally fesses up to Beast and Rachel, only for an ultrasound to show that she’s not infested with baby, but rather with Brood.  Which shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise to anyone there since she went from petite to popping in a matter of seconds.  It’s also rather fortunate that Beast has just used a series of shrinking suits to explore Toad’s body for a class, and thus the cast has a reason to take a shrunken journey into Kitty’s system.  You might think that this is a bit contrived, but this book is nonsensical enough to where these kind of convenient coincidences are perfectly acceptable.

The other deal of the book is that thanks to Angel’s recent mindwipe over in X-Force, he’s been judged incompetent to serve as CEO of Worthington Industries and even has his own accounts frozen pending investigation.  To the rest of the world it seems like he’s finally mentally snapped, and the X-Men can’t exactly reveal what he’s been doing.  They have a point – Warren is not fit to serve and this is the logical step.  Warren has always been the X-Men’s source of funding (except for Xavier’s government ties back in the day) and suddenly it hits that the school is damn expensive to run.  So Wolverine grabs Quentin Quire and the two go off to hustle an intergalactic casino.

The relationship between Wolverine and Quentin has become one of my favorite things in the post-Schism X-Men.  The balance of Quentin thinking he’s awesome and Wolverine actually being awesome goes well with each other, and now that Wolvie’s in a place where he actually needs Quire’s skills, the boy has to put up or shut up.  After all, if the school fails, Quentin is going into Captain America’s custody as was established in the first issue, so attitude aside it is in his best interests to keep the school afloat.  And in typical heist fashion, it doesn’t go well.

This book continues to be the best of the bunch.  If you’re not reading Wolverine & the X-Men, you can’t call yourself an X-Men fan.

Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega
Going further into the balance between Wolverine and Quentin Quire, this mini deals with the issues I  had mentioned last issue.  It seems a fairly basic point to have Quentin simply trap Wolverine (and Armor who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time) into a mental projection.  It’s a new spin to have the trapping telepath not think about having to maintain concentration to keep it going – after all, the boy has to sleep sometime, right?  Quentin himself realizes that it’s something he didn’t think through – after all, he’s just trying to take Wolverine down a couple pegs and prove his superiority.  Now that he’s done it, he realizes he doesn’t have an out – beyond the logical approach of Wolverine beating the crap out of him.

This story (at least at this point) is giving a bigger spotlight to Quentin Quire, and he’s a character that really needs one.  A line in the main title mentioned that to this point all he’s really done is cause a riot and then a political incident.  This book not only gives a look into his thoughts, but also everyone else’s opinions about him.  He tries to explain his plan to Bling! who is utterly unimpressed by it, and then thoroughly creeps out Mercury who doesn’t stick around to keep his plan from falling apart.

This issue was far better than the first, though I don’t see how this thing is going to go five issues, but this has put enough faith in me to give it the benefit of the doubt.

X-Factor
If you were waiting on the pickup to the arrival of Havok and Polaris last issue, you’re going to have to wait.  These two issues are dedicated completely to Madrox to finish up his time jaunts and get him back to the proper universe.  Though it’s the conclusion to “They Keep Killing Madrox”, the story doesn’t completely end, as we’re not given the explanation as to why the reality trips happened to begin with, but the story didn’t really give Madrox time to think about that one.  Instead, Madrox gets a trip home via the realities he came, dragging the antagonist he came with along with him, giving three new loose ends for the book to deal with.

Oh yeah, and Madrox finally hooks up with Layla at the end.  This has been building since Madrox first found her as an adult, and the book’s kept her around as a grown-up long enough to where this no longer seems creepy anymore.  Layla hasn’t been a kid since Messiah CompleX after all.  I was always worried that the eventual pairing of the two would lead to Layla’s demise (as seen in the very early issues of the book via a premonition) but that was explained (sort of) in the beginning of this story.  Of course, that does lead to a potential love triangle here as I for one don’t think Banshee has gotten over her feelings for Madrox either.

X-Men
Who wants more vampire Jubilee?  The cliffhanger from the War Machine story was that Jubilee wandered off with a shadowy figure and the rest of her X-Men squad decided to bring her home…well, after they travelled halfway around the world back to Utopia, but we’ll say it was okay because they have a hypersonic jet and two powerful teleporters.  Anyway, despite the advertising splash of Storm about to stake Jubes, there’s really nothing at risk here.  The vampire who found her was Raizo Kodo, who you might recall from the one-off issue where Professor X told Jubilee a seemingly random vampire story.  And don’t feel bad if you’d forgotten – I certainly did.

This is the basic “vampire redemption” story in which the vampire weens off feeding on human blood by instead feeding on animal blood (don’t tell PETA).  And you’d think had Raizo simply stuck around and told the X-Men present on the battlefield that he was doing this, they’d be cool with the matter.  After all, it’s not like Wolverine’s simply going to FedEx his blood over to Utopia, and if he is, this isn’t a problem that needs solving.  Or maybe it is – but since Raizo knew that she was drinking Wolverine’s blood to begin with, couldn’t he have just tossed in a “They can’t guarantee Wolverine’s blood will last forever, but Jubilee as a vampire will.”

The second issue brings us Storm’s squad’s hunt for Jubilee, and it’s some of the most brutal non-X-Force stuff that we’ve seen in the X-books. Remember when the X-Men (and especially Storm) didn’t kill?  That apparently doesn’t stretch to vampires, who get decapitated by Psylocke, neck-broken by Colossus, skewered by Warpath and gunned down by Domino by the dozens.  But then again, this team’s collective brain is certainly not set to the “on” position, because it takes weeks of searching over three continents before Madison Jeffries chimes in with the bright idea to trail vampire movement from where Jubilee disappeared.  You know – FOLLOWING THE TRAIL.

We also get the regular “fight over a misunderstanding before coming to an understanding and teaming up” which has become the M.O. of this book.  This time the fault is all the X-Men’s as Storm orders Warpath to attack before Raizo can get his explanation out, and Jubilee herself doesn’t bother to make her presence known until the teams have almost killed each other.  And then Colossus comes in to present the threat both teams will fight.

Art was a weird bit with these issues, as the first issue was drawn by Al Barrionuevo before handing off the duties to Jorge Molina.  Barrionuevo was the artist for the original Raizo story while Molina did the Freedom Foundation story.  Molina’s art is less enjoyable for me, but for some subtle reasons, like that Warpath has lost about five inches of hair during the hunt and both he and Colossus seem to shift from “muscular” to “effing massive” from panel to panel.  There are also quite a few cheesecake shots of Psylocke, ranging from the butt thrust while sheathing her gigantic katana (no pun intended) and the numerous vag shots while fighting.

The good vampire designs also seemed familiar of other characters.  Raizo looks like Rob Liefeld-era Garrison Kaine (don’t judge me for that reference, please), Nighteyes (ugh) looks like a pre-Age of X Joanna Cargill, Visigoth (ugh) looks like the Age of APocalypse Sabretooth, and Quickshot (ugh) kind of looks like a fresh-faced Comedian from Watchmen.  But who cares?  They are at least unique looking enough for me to say that the names are the worst part about them.  Why can’t they just use their real names?

This isn’t a very good story, but then again this isn’t a very good book.  Acceptable if you care what happens to Jubilee.

X-Men Legacy
Now that we’ve made it past the Point One issue, Christos Gage’s run on Legacy begins in earnest, and he starts it off by following up on a Mike Carey story point right off the bat.  Just before the book shifted to Rogue-centric, Carey wrapped the Professor X story by having him return to Exodus and slap him down for being divisive of the remaining mutants.  Exodus took the message to heart, but unfortunately came around right as Cyclops and Wolverine split the mutant nation up.  Since he missed the boat on the deal, Exodus wants to fix matters, and in true to character form, will force them if needed.

This setup shows me that Gage did his research when he took the reins of the book from Mike Carey.  Exodus is not an easy character to make interesting (as his first decade of existence would attest to) but both Carey and Gage have done well with him.  Exodus is interested in the future of mutantkind – it’s why he was initially drawn to Magneto, and then disillusioned by him.  Going to Wolverine first is the logical step, since it was his group that left Utopia.  And then learning that it was Cyclops endangering the youth was the next logical step.  There’s a lot to like here.

It’s also good that the book is keeping the focus on Rogue, which makes Wolverine’s perspective a little less reasonable, especially in the matter of contacting Cyclops to tell him that Exodus is coming for him.  And it is at the point where the Schism is still fresh so Wolverine doesn’t want Cyclops proven right on anything, but Rogue, who has ties to WTeam Cyclops (most notably her bed-buddy Magneto) is not so bitter and sends a message ahead, which brings in Hope and the other kids.

This is amusing since Wolverine split from Cyclops specifically because the kids were being put in danger and now that Exodus is heading for Utopia because of Wolverine’s group, the kids who remained are now directly in the line of fire.  That undermines Wolverine’s goal, and since his team just got demolished by Exodus, proves Cyclops right.  And thus we see that the Schism is not exactly right on either side.  It’s far more complicated than that.

I said that Mike Carey would leave some damn big shoes to fill, but Christos Gage has impressed me thus far.  This is still an excellent book.

Next Week
It’s a fifth week so we only have one book and it’s Astonishing X-Men.  I might hit it, but more likely I’ll go ahead and wait a week and use next week for a Retro eXaminations.  Someone should comment with a year and I’ll review that year’s February X-books.

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