Month: November 2013

X-Force gets some condensing done

One of the things I often say when looking at current X-Books is “why does this book exist?” in the terms of whether there is a storyline logic to a book being put out each month.  Some books, like X-Men, can justify their place my solid quality (and Shogo has really grown on me).  Others, like Uncanny X-Force, not so much.

The X-Force concept has two forms – modern and old-school.  The old-school format is the early 90’s brand of Cable-led militant mutants not playing by the rules.  The modern format is the black-ops, all-but-unknown squad out to do the missions no one else is willing to do (i.e. kill squad).  The latter got a lot of play with Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s X-Force book which then led to Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force which was some excellent stuff.  But when Remender moved on, someone decided that the style should continue, but the rehash of Uncanny X-Force, featuring Storm, Spiral and Puck, hasn’t really done much of anything save bringing back Bishop and using the Demon Bear.

Meanwhile, nostalgia buffs got their fill of old-school X-Forcing in Cable and X-Force which saw Cable have a new team of para-military mutants to do stuff, featuring old X-Forcers Domino and Boom Boom, along with the grab bag of names including Forge, Dr. Nemesis and Colossus.  And it’s been a fun little romp.

But the question has remained “Why do two X-Force books exist?”  Well, apparently even Marvel doesn’t have an answer, so the two are becoming one, as the crossover event “Vendetta” closes both titles and launches X-Force next year.

And that’s all well and good.  When people in the future look back at this period in history, they’re most certainly going to say, “Wow.  That was a lot of pointless titles.”

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What ever happened to Neal Shaara?

Ever since the X-Men headed out west to hang out in San Francisco, pretty much every single X-character has, at some point or another, popped up here or there to make at least a background appearance in one of the ump-teen X-Men books.  We’ve seen everyone from Diamond Lil to Random have a moment here or there, and anyone who has been a member of the X-Men proper have pretty much done SOMETHING in that time span.

All except one, that is.

Remember me?

Neal Shaara was introduced to the X-Men in the six month gap following Apocalypse: The Twelve and the apparent death of Cyclops therein.  Chris Claremont returned to the title he made famous, and with him came a new rookie X-Man with the age-old code name of Thunderbird.  Neal was the guy who asked the questions that the reader might ask to get the exposition out of the way, and made the rookie mistakes that allowed veterans like Bishop and Wolverine to toss out “kid” and “junior” here and there.

Neal stuck around for a while through Claremont’s run, even being one of the heavier factors in breaking up the years-old relationship of Psylocke and Archangel.  Upon Psylocke’s death, he stuck around the X-Treme X-Men team for a while, rebounding over to the newly introduced Heather Cameron (Lifeguard, if you like lame code-names) and the two actually had one of the more interesting building storylines of the title.  Heather was revealed to be of Shi’Ar descent, which sent her douche of a brother running away from her.  Thus, Neal decided to accompany Heather in looking for the little jerk, and also seek out answers to Heather’s true heritage.

And then?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  The two popped up for a cameo in the rather terrible Genosha-based Excalibur book, and both seemed to have kept their powers through M-Day, but for whatever reason, no creator has wanted to touch them since.  Claremont finished his stories in X-Treme and Uncanny X-Men without going back to them, and no one else has gone beyond a namedrop of Lifeguard here and there.

So what gives?  Is he that terrible a character that he can’t even be given a teaching role in the school?

It should be noted that a character created specifically for his back-story in an issue of X-Men Unlimited, Karima Shapandar, has not only been a much, much longer serving X-Man than him, but has just been reintroduced as a member of the all-ladies team on X-Men.

Battle of the Atom

Since AvX ended, the main point of the X-Men world has been the arrival of the teenage versions of the original team in the present in what has to be one of the worst decisions in the X-Men mythos.  Worse than “let’s let the world believe us to be dead”.  In an attempt to make Cyclops realize how far he’s strayed, Beast pulls out not the family albums or videos, but rather himself and his teammates from the past.  The effort does not impress Cyclops at all, but for whatever reason when the kids decide to stick around in the present, no one really flags this as a bad idea.

Battle of the Atom is the story that gets around to addressing how awful an idea this whole thing is…well, actually it starts to, then quickly shoots off into time travel shenanigans, gratuitous fighting, trickery and shenanigans, then a HUGE BIG DEAL at the end that pretty much comes out of left field to make sure at least SOMETHING happens to justify the ten issue crossover.

In the sake of big, stupid fun, it’s perfectly acceptable.  There’s running around, happy moments, sad moments, and OMG reveals galore.  But in the sake of a bigger narrative, a storyline direction and characters making rational decisions and coming with ends/means life-altering decisions?  Not so much.

I’ll get into the deal after the jump.  Here’s hoping you’ve read it, because there will be SPOILERS WITHIN.

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A moment of pure fanboy-ism

There come moments when I slip back and feel like the bright-eyed 10-year old who waited for Stan’s Comic Shop to open on a chilly Saturday morning so I could spend a chunk of my recently-obtained allowance on Jim Lee X-Men cards.  That innocence and glee and eagerness to absorb anything and everything having to do with comics – there’s just a certain feeling that I don’t get from anything else.

A couple decades later, I’ve become more of a snarky blogger, but there are still moments that shoot me back to those heights of excitement.  Opening my email to find a comment from Bob McLeod about my look at X-Men: Gold gave me that level of excitement.

He’s a guy who has done fantastic work that I absolutely love (early New Mutants, yes?) and whose name I’ve known for nearly my entire fandom, and suddenly I get a brief moment in which he acknowledges words I posted on the internet.

You may think it’s nothing, but I think it’s AWESOME.  Thanks, Bob!

Peter David relaunches X-Factor to replace X-Factor

So now that we have a month left to go before the All-New X-Factor starts, we get to look at the new team and hark about it for a while.

The only returning cast member from the previous cast is the mistress of magnetism herself, Polaris, whose story in X-Factor led to this new team.  Those confirmed to be joining her are Quicksilver, Danger and Gambit, whom under David’s pen will likely shine bright here.  The blond guy in the background hasn’t been identified, it looks to me like Cypher who hasn’t been doing anything since New Mutants ended a while back.

The big mystery is who the guy with the hood pulled up is, and for that I have no clue.  Let’s just hope it’s not Wolverine and we’ll be fine.

Are you excited about this book?  I sure am.

X-Men goes gold

One of the things I’ve noticed about the whole aging process is that noteworthy anniversaries and celebrations seem to come with far more frequency than they did in the past.  Take, for example, Marvel celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the X-Men with this week’s release of X-Men: Gold.  My first reaction was that it couldn’t possibly be 50 years, as it seems like we were just writing up special commentaries on the 40th anniversary on the now-defunct X-Men site Mutatis Mutandis, of which I was a staff writer for.

And then I realized that 2003 was 10 years ago.  WOW.

But enough about me getting old.  We’re talking about an anniversary celebration here!

Coincidentally, half of these characters play little to no role in this book.

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Comic Book Movie Review – Thor: The Dark World

Marvel Studios continues its trek to Avengers 2 with Thor:  The Dark World.  Here’s a reminder of what has happened heading into this movie.  Thor had to destroy the Bifrost in order to stop Loki.  Loki went hurtling through space, or something, only to end up with an alien army, and attacking Earth with the power of the Tesseract.  But, he’s defeated, and Thor returns him to Asgard.  Spoilers below the break.

thor_the_dark_world_ver2Thor:  The Dark World

Directed by Alan Taylor

Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, Robert Rodat & Mr. Met

Starring
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Christopher Eccleston as Malekith

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