eXaminations – Catch up

I’ve been trying to get back into a regular schedule with these things, but then I got a new job and have been doing training and there’s a lot of stuff going on.  POINT IS – this is going to cover a bunch of crap.  Hope you enjoy it.

  • 100th Anniversary Special – X-Men in which we take 50 years to hit ‘reset’.
  • All-New Doop #4 in which Doop confronts his mother.
  • All-New X-Factor #11 in which Gambit spends most of the issue naked.
  • Cyclops #3 in which we get the truth about Corsair.
  • Storm #1 in which we launch a new solo series with a one-shot.
  • Uncanny X-Men #23-24 in which Charles Xavier’s will is released.
  • X-Men #16-17 in which the ladies bring out the kids to rescue the baby.

ALSO!

  • Original Sin #6 (of 8) in which we get a lot of almost told secrets.
  • Teen Titans #1 in which the kids stop a runaway bus!

Isn’t that fun?  The discussion begins after the jump – and as always, these are written assuming you’ve either read the books or don’t mind being spoiled to what happens.  SPOILER ALERT.

(NOTE: Uncanny Avengers wrapped up its big story with issue #22, but I’ll be covering that in a separate post.)

100th Anniversary Special – X-Men
Marvel, god love ’em, has some of the weirdest gimmick concepts.  They certainly love their anniversary issues, but unfortunately the 50th anniversary was just 3 years ago, which means it’ll be another two decades before a friendly round number anniversary.  Never say that Marvel bothers with actual numbers, so instead of taking the time to wait 47 years, they simply went ahead and celebrated the 100th anniversary this year.

Now you may think “that makes absolutely no sense!” and you’d be right.  But being a silly gimmick, Marvel is not celebrating it’s history, but rather putting out a bunch of one-shots imagining what their major titles would be like in 2061.  That means hypothetical future stories, and usually those range from bad to bland.

When J.R. first told me about this thing, he got a good chuckle out of the whole 100th anniversary thing and moved on.  I looked at it differently.  Marvel is a company that plays to the major events and usually makes major changes because of them.  The X-Men in particular play to this – they have a major event every other year or so and something drastically changes.  Think about Schism and AvX, for example.  These were within a few months of each other and look how much they changed.  Or even before that, Messiah CompleX into Utopia X, then eventually to Second Coming.  So within 47 years, you have a likely 20 different game-changers, which means an 100th anniversary issue could have the X-Men anywhere as long as you have the major players there – and by major players, I mean Wolverine.  So clean slate, do whatever.

Instead, we get basically a follow up to the current storylines – and by that, I mean what Brian Bendis is doing in Uncanny and All-New.  According to the synopsis on the opening page, Cyclops has just dropped his status as a fugitive and he and Wolverine have just made up.

Now let me tell you – if in 47 years we’re just coming out of the current status quo, I’m going to rethink following the X titles.

So where were we?  Now that Cyclops has gotten his hero title back, he takes the logical next step and gets elected President of the United States.  Don’t think about it – just go with it.  He even marries Emma Frost, but she gets blinked out of existence within the first couple pages.  So Cyclops, having learned the importance of his role as a leader of both mutants and humans, completely loses his shit and neglects all of his duties because Emma is missing and no one seems to remember her.  Then there’s some anti-mutant gate crashing (because invading the White House lawn is as simple as pushing down a gate), some bad publicity when Cyke gets shot and accidentally blasts a bunch of humans with his optic blasts, and then the universe kind of blinks out.

Follow me?  You see, the entire mess has all been an orchestrated effort by Jean Grey, still hanging out in the old Morrison-era White Hot Room of the Phoenix.  Turns out that Jean wanted Cyke to know how awful the world would become, and then promptly undoes time and puts the X-Men back into the mid-90’s era of everyone being happy, Professor X alive and Cyke and the also-alive Jean celebrating their anniversary.

My reaction exactly.

My reaction exactly.

Seriously – Marvel celebrates its 100th anniversary by putting the X-Men into their 60 year-old status quo.  That’s the whole point of the issue.  Personally, if they gave Rogue her Ms. Marvel powers back in the process, I’d be okay with it.

The concept is really a mess and poorly executed.  Many of the familiar X-Men faces are either not present or not used.  All of the Uncanny X-Men students are present, but they seem to be nearly exactly how they currently are, while Shogo – Jubilee’s baby from X-Men – has grown into adulthood.  Okay – comic aging and whatnot.  But there is no sign of the time-lost X-Men, so the status quo seems to hang on one side, while being ignored on the other.  There’s also the matter of the book saying it takes place in 2061, yet still using 2014 concepts like a posted video “going viral”.  Surely in 50 years we get something a little more advanced.

Anyway, this book is pretty bad, and if it’s a sign of the other one-shots in the series, then this 100th anniversary should be ignored in favor of the actual 100th anniversary in 47 years.  If, at 78 years old, I’m still blogging about comics, I’ll compare the two for you.

All-New X-Factor #11
Seems like there’s trouble in paradise as it pertains to X-Factor with its corporate head Harrison Snow.  In case you had forgotten, Snow’s wife seduced Gambit and not knowing who she was, he took her to bed and was caught by Snow’s secretary.  She chose the middle of a mission to drop this bombshell to Snow, and probably not coincidentally, when the team was extracted via teleportation, Gambit was left behind to the tender mercies of Momento Mori.

And by tender mercies, I mean being stripped naked and repeatedly electrocuted.  That’s fun.

This whole story has been used to establish Georgia as a character, which I’m assuming is the “plucky kid” role that was so wonderfully filled by Layla Miller in the previous X-Factor run.  Georgia really hasn’t impressed me thus far, but there hasn’t been much to her as of yet.  She certainly will never be able to come near Layla, who was one of the most wonderful new X-characters of the past few decades.

Anywho, the point here is that despite leaving Gambit behind, the whole thing backfires when Gambit lets it slip who X-Factor is working for and Mori attacks Serval industries.  By the end of the battle, both of Georgia’s parents are dead and we have a young orphan who will likely be around for the run of the series.  But there’s also the brewing matter between Snow and Gambit, which will strain the trust of the corporate factor.  And that’s a good thing for us readers – drama and all that.

So far, this X-Factor hasn’t been as strong as the previous one, but that’s mainly because it doesn’t have as strong of a cast.  It’s still a really book and I’m finally coming around to Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art, which I initially found to be kind of simplistic.  Anyway, solid work.

Uncanny X-Men #23
We’ve just come from a big battle issue, so this is sort of a catch-your-breath story in which everyone takes in what has gone on before and little bits are set up for the upcoming issues.  That of course means the annoying off-panel reveals that don’t get revealed to make it seem like there’s a big surprise going on.  A lot of looking at screens and gasping, but not showing what is on the screen.  Sure, it sets up dramatic tension, but done repeatedly it just seems lazy.

The point of the story is that She-Hulk, one of the Marvel U’s two go-to attorneys, has been charged with reading the last will and testament of Professor Charles Xavier, who you may remember was killed by Cyclops during AvX.  She-Hulk shows up at the Jean Grey school to do so, but says that the will states that the intended parties must be present, which means we get another X-Men reunion.

But this isn’t a bad thing.  Xavier’s death is something that hasn’t really been dealt with as it should have.  He was a major character and his death should be making huge waves.  That’s what we have here.

And then there’s Dazzler.  You might recall that she had set herself up as a big SHIELD agent only to be replaced by Mystique and used as a source of MGH.  She’s having a mess of issues coming from her entire history, and wouldn’t you know it there just happens to be a pair of scissors nearby.  That means, of course, edgy haircut and mentally unbalanced character trope.  Remember when Boom Boom became Meltdown?  Same idea.

(#24 is further down, for reading sake)

X-Men #16
Adjective-less X-Men has become something of a mixed bag for me.  On the one hand, there’s a lot of stuff I like about it – mainly bringing in and using the New X-Men era students as more than background characters for the first time in years.  These are established characters that have been through hell (literally) yet get treated like mere wall decorations for the most part as new characters get developed every time a new student book begins.  If you’re going to have ump-teen million X-books, there’s no excuse for repetition of characters, Wolverine excluded.  So seeing characters like Hellion, Rockslide and Anole saying  “We have to graduate sometime” is a welcome addition.  Nit-pick on the art, though – Hellion’s mechanical hands should look at least somewhat mechanical.  Here they tend to look like the artist simply drew him normally then erased his wrists.

The mixed bag part is that overall, it’s just not that interesting of a story.  Basically, the whole point is villain wants baby, kidnaps caretaker, rescue mission.  I’ve had a problem with Shogo this entire time because I thought it was stupid that the plot was “Jubilee finds a baby and hilarity ensues”.  There’s no good reason that Jubilee should be keeping this baby beyond “we like Jubilee and the baby is cute”.  Jubilee is a teenage (I think – Marvel age and whatnot) vampire orphan who has lived in malls.  So she has the X-Men – the school gets attacked basically on a monthly basis, and the the way the Jean Grey School has been built, it’s basically a death trap.  Sure, it’s sweet that Jubilee is attached, but where do you go with it?

All-New Doop #4
I can see how people might not enjoy the ridiculousness of Peter Milligan’s Doop adventure.  X-Statix took a particular taste, and if you didn’t love it, you probably didn’t like it at all.  That’s what this mini is.  I know I harp about stuff that doesn’t matter, so when something like this comes along that absolutely has zero point in the big picture and I absolutely adore it, I come off like a hypocrite.  The difference is the silliness to it, and Milligan’s has it down in spades.  I absolutely adore the relationship between Doop and Kitty Pryde, and the thought of bringing back X-Statix for even a mini just tickles my little fanboy parts.

Cyclops #3
And here we are with the issue that solves my huge problem with the Trial of Jean Grey:  how the hell is Corsair alive?  Turns out that the Starjammers decided they’d rather have him alive than dead, so they zipped over to the restoration planet or whatever and back he came, except that he has to inject himself with a thing ever so often to keep him alive.  And wouldn’t you know it – their ship crashes and he’s only got so much of the stuff left.

This issue gave me the answer I’ve wanted for a while, and that makes me happy happy happy.  Beyond that, it’s the same old “why didn’t you come back for us” rhetoric between Cyclops and Corsair that we’ve gotten at least twice before, but I suppose it’s been over a decade since the last one, so why not retell the story for the new readers?  This has been a good book thus far, but I wonder where it goes from the camping trip with Corsair.  It would be crazy if he actually died next issue and the book becomes Cyclops on his own trying to get home.  But I seriously doubt that will happen – the Starjammers are bound to be looking for them – after all, since they are the ones that brought him back to life, they’ll know what he needs to stay alive.

Storm #1
Remember those issues of X-Men Unlimited that had the random solo story about a character that covered 22 pages and then ended, pretty much just sitting there for no real purpose?  That’s pretty much what this issue was.  There’s a reason that X-Men solo books never last very long.  The characters were built with their interactions with the other characters in the book.  Removing the other elements and giving just one character removes that interaction, and it never really gets going.  Unless you’re Wolverine, of course.  Storm is not a character who needs a solo title.  She’s the ultimate family character of the X-Men.  She’s the one that should be interacting with all of the other characters.

Then there’s the argument that if the story is good enough, then maybe you can power through that and get the book going.  That’s not what we got here.  This feels like it should be a spotlight story in the back of an anniversary issue or an annual.  The final panel tosses out “To be continued…” but there’s nothing to continue.  The story is calmly wrapped up with every problem established in the issue solved.  It’s a standalone issue, which is very odd for launching a new title.

Uncanny X-Men #24
Back to Uncanny.  Don’t let the cover fool you – despite having Dazzler’s new punk look splashed on the front, she has little to nothing to do in the actual issue.  Instead, we learn that Team Wolvie has the ability to find Team Cyke at any time whatsoever, they just didn’t want to, but now that Xavier’s will is to be read, they jaunt on up to the Weapon X school to get Cyclops.  This is basically a rehash of how much all of Team Wolvie hates Cyclops for what he’s done.  And then there’s this…

Say what?

Say what?

So Charles Xavier is married to Mystique.  That makes no f*cking sense.  That’s on the level of Rogue announcing that she had sex with the Sentry.  I understand why this is happening – there’s a movie to tie into, and in the Movie Universe, Mystique was Xavier’s childhood bestie and lost love.  And the popularity of the Marvel movies have done a lot of changes to the comics scene.  It’s why the Cerebra chamber is an orb with a hanging platform in it.

But this revelation just does not work.  Charles Xavier’s past has been explained several times.  Hell, Mike Carey had a series about pulling his memories together in which we got pretty much all of it.  Sure, in the past there have been some ladies tossed in – Amelia Voght by Scott Lobdell and Tessa/Sage by Chris Claremont – along with the long-established flings with Moira MacTaggert and Gabrielle Haller.  But never has there been any indication of any sort of relationship or even connection between Charles Xavier and Mystique.  EVER.  There was Rogue – and that was it.  I call rubbish on this one.

But even past that awful bit, there’s the whole matter of the setup plot.  The issue is leaning on the matter that Charles Xavier likely willed his school to Cyclops, being his first X-Man and pretty much a son to him.  And that would have worked…about 7 years ago before Xavier’s school was blown up during Messiah CompleX and abandoned.  But of course, Wolverine rebuilt the school after the Schism, so the point is brought up that he should own the school.  Instead, Wolverine says that a little while back, he signed ownership of the school over to Xavier “just in case”.  Okay – so then, we assume that Charles Xavier, seeing the split between Cyclops and Wolverine, decided to write a will that gave Cyclops Wolverine’s school, established because of irreconcilable differences between the two.

Or maybe you’d like to say that the will was written before Xavier’s school was destroyed, and then Wolverine’s is just that rebuilt, and still counts once Wolverine signed it over to him.  I’m pretty sure that’s not at all how that would work.  It’s just a really weak plot point, and since most of the issue is spent talking about it, it becomes a glaring problem, for me at least.

But then, of course, we get the revelation (almost) of A BIG SECRET, since this is an Original Sin tie-in, after all.  And whatever that might be will have to wait until next issue.  And ugh, by the way.

X-Men #17
Finishing up here, but there’s not a lot I have to say about this.  Villain beaten, baby kept, game over.  The issue is filled with nonsense in which Storm tries something or other and everyone else takes three pages to tell her to stop, and then Jubilee breaks out and beats the villain.  It seems like the entire point was to introduce the character of Kymera – Storm’s daughter from the future.  But really she’s not that interesting of a character.  And that’s the problem with this title.  It’s okay, but just not that interesting.  I’m actually shocked that we’re 17 issues in.  It feels like the story has given us about 4 memorable moments thus far.

Original Sin #6
We’re almost done with the Mega Event for this round, but I can’t say I’m that impressed.  If you haven’t been following, the entire point is that Nick Fury has been secretly killing potential threats throughout the universe (or multi-verse, I guess) during the entirety of his published existence, behind the scenes of course.  Now that his anti-aging goop is wearing off, he’s looking for a replacement to go kill the baddies in his place.

In theory, this was presented as a “something in the past is not what it seemed” and that is a very interesting story point if done correctly.  Think of what Deadly Genesis did to the well-known story of Giant-Size X-Men #1.  Completely flipped it on its head, and changed several characters in the process.  Original Sin doesn’t work like that, mainly because what we find out that Nick Fury did wasn’t involved in any major event.  Or minor event.  They just showed a bunch of monster corpses and assured the reader that they WOULD HAVE BEEN BIG if allowed to threaten Earth.

The big Death that is required for Mega Events was Uatu the Watcher, and apparently that death wasn’t Fury’s fault.  But we still don’t know whose it is, since we’re not to the splash reveal page of the penultimate issue yet.  You have the some B-list villains running around with HUGE KNOWLEDGE that isn’t really going anywhere, and the assumption that one of the assembled heroes – Black Panther, Emma Frost, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, Punisher, Winter Soldier, Gamora, Moon Knight or Rocket Raccoon – will be replacing Nick Fury’s old, yet newly revealed role, most likely in a solo series.  If I had to put money on it, I’d say Punisher or Winter Soldier.

Not really a fantastic story – but I guess it’s good enough.  I’m not sure what all the “Point” issues are.  I think they’re releasing both 3.4 and 5.1 next week, as well as an “Original Sins” mini.  And I thought crossovers used to be money-consuming.  How do they expect an average reader to be able to afford all this stuff?

Teen Titans
I’m not a big DC reader, but ever since I found Peter David’s Young Justice over a decade ago, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the younger members of the DCU.  When the book ended, it was replaced by the also fantastic Teen Titans run by Geoff Johns which got me familiarized with the classic Titans characters like Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven and Starfire and I became a fan.  Much like the Legion of Super-Heroes, when a new Titans book launches, I usually give it a read.  Unfortunately, the New 52 relaunch was an awful looking thing by Scott Lobdell, which I avoided.  But this time around, we’re getting a new #1 with Will Pfeifer at the helm.  Not familiar with his work, nor am I familiar with why Titans got relaunched, so it’s a good enough starting point.

This is basically an establishing issue to get all the players identified by the reader.   The team gets into a rescue mission to save kids on a bus taken over by terrorists and everyone gets to play their parts for the new readers.  Like me!  So we have the usual crew – Red Robin (Tim Drake), Wonder Girl, Raven and Beast Boy as well as a new character (to me at least) called Bunker who can make mystical bricks…or something.  And it appears that Bunker is the character that is supposed to get the attention, because once the establishing mission is done, he’s the one that gets to give the big soapbox speech about acceptance and tolerance that should resonate with the kiddies that comes out of left field.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m all for positive messages in a forum that might appeal to people that can be persuaded by it, but I’m also all for a decently flowing story.  Breaking your plot to give two pages out of nowhere to a speech against intolerance from the new character makes it look like that character has been put there specifically to get attention for doing just that.  It’s pandering and it just seems out of place here.  It doesn’t work.

Anyway, fine establishing issue.  I’ll look at number 2.

Next time!

  • NOTHING.  That’s right – Marvel has managed to schedule a week in which absolutely NO X-Books come out.  I suppose I should look for something else to spend my time with.  Maybe some Chuck Austen books?
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