eXaminations – Week of 1/10/18

It’s really hard to be an X-Men fan right now.  At least it is for me, and I’ve been through some pretty awful periods of the X-Men.  Two weeks ago, I said on Generation X was doing me in.  Then last week, Iceman threw me a pretty hard stinker.  This week – well, let’s just get to it.  We’re looking at:

  • Cable #153 in which one of the poorer 90’s stories gets dug up and made worse.
  • Phoenix Resurrection The Return of Jean Grey #3 in which the X-Men continue to wait for the series to end so they can get Jean Grey back to start X-Men Red.
  • X-Men Blue #19 in which some back peddling is done with the teenage X-Men.
  • X-Men Gold Annual #1 in which the old Excalibur team reunites for the return of a story that didn’t involve a single one of them.

I also picked up the latest issue of Archie, but I’m going to cover that book in a separate post.  It’s actually really good.

So SPOILER WARNING and all that.



Catching up: Cable and X-Force

There are two general types of X-Force – the mercenary type led by Cable, or the murder type generally led by Wolverine.  The former has long been defunct since the closing days of the original pre-X-Statix run ended over a decade ago, and really by that point it had become more of a grown-up New Mutants title, having long since moved on from Cable.  If I’m not mistaken, his last appearance in the title was issue #100, and even that was well after the team booted him.  Since then, a Cable-led X-Force has been limited to the brief nostalgia mini or tie-in.

Cable himself was killed off during the Second Coming X-over, one of the several deaths and maimings featured throughout.  But in true X-fashion, he “got better”, returning for a not-very good mini series before hanging in the shadows during AvX.  But back he came to create a new squad, featuring Forge, Domino, Colossus, Dr. Nemesis, and Boom Boom.

How’s that for a motley crew?

Domino and Boom Boom are longtime Cable allies, while Forge was seemingly killed off during Warren Ellis’s run on Astonishing X-Men, only to be revealed to have survived the experience and have his crazy-ass brain healed with some guidance from Cable.  And I’m all for that – Forge is one of my longtime favorites and he hasn’t gotten any kind of decent story since his time in X-Factor.  Dr. Nemesis was one of the trio of X-Club scientists, and the only one to make it out of AvX with any kind of storyline prominence.  And he deserves it – he’s an awesome character.

Colossus’s presence is a big deal, as he was one of the Phoenix Five, though he was also the one least guilty of any real horror during the event, as he mainly just wandered along next to his sister as she did her demon stuff.  If you weren’t watching, he also was cured of his Juggernaut possession in the epilogue mini-series that followed up AvX, which some felt cheated by but I didn’t think there was much left to do with the whole thing.

But that’s the characters – what about the premise?


On a random issue of X-Force

One of the perks of having spent far too much money on accumulating an impressive (I think) collection of X-Family comics is that whenever I’m in the mood to read something random there’s probably an issue I either haven’t read at all or at least haven’t in so long that it once again seems new.  A few days ago I decided to pull a couple random issues of the original X-Force just before the Phalanx Covenant and give them a look.  One of them was issue 37.

Besides my initial comment on how ridiculously thin Cannonball’s flight jacket seems to be (even the padding is paper thin, according to that rip), I realized that this lone issue of X-Force was a good demonstration on some of the details of the mid-90’s X-Men books (or the major comic companies in general, really) that have since been forgotten and swept over.

So that’s what we’ll be talking about today.


Hope-ful assumptions

And now a moment for assumptions.

Have you met Hope Summers?  She’s been around for a couple years now but just recently has she made it back to the present.  She spent her childhood in a distopian future (several of them, actually) running from Bishop alongside her for-all-intents-and-purposes father Cable.  You remember now.

Now that she’s amongst the X-Men proper, she has taken the opportunity to learn about her real parents.  In last week’s issue of Uncanny X-Men, Hope journeyed to Alaska for the first time since she was kidnapped as a baby by Cable as the Purifiers and Marauders were closing in on her.  It’s implied that the X-Men looked in on the matter but didn’t take it too far.  A name and a history, mainly, learning that her mother was killed in the attack and her father was unknown.

Hope laid flowers at her mother’s grave and was approached by the woman’s mother – Hope’s biological grandmother – who of course didn’t recognize her.  Besides that the woman was not aware her daughter was even pregnant – Hope had not been missing as long as her present age would suggest.  Time travel can be screwy like that.  Even though Hope avoided revealing her true identity, the woman invited her in to talk about her daughter.  Hope went alone – without her X-Men backup – and spent some time, seeing the picture of her mother, a local firefighter, before deciding she had enough and taking off.

And that’s where I got thinking.


Losing Hope for the Messiah

We are a day away from the penultimate chapter of Second Coming in the X-books (as well as a day away from the launch of Curse of the Mutants) and a nagging question keeps floating around my head.  We’ve now had almost three complete crossover events focusing on Hope Summers, the so-called “messiah child”, and we still have no idea just what the hell is so important about her.  Thus far, she’s spent her entire life either being kidnapped by villains (Messiah CompleX), running from villains (Messiah War, all of Cable, Second Coming).  We’re supposed to believe that eventually it will be revealed what is so good about her, but man, couldn’t you drop us some sort of bone?  We only have two issues left of a 14 part story titled for her return and she’s done nothing!

Here’s what we do know about Hope:

  • First mutant born since M-Day.
  • Cable knew her as a messiah in his future, while Bishop knew her as a tyrant in his.
  • She has the signature red hair/green eyes of Jean Grey.
  • She healed Rogue’s out of control powers just by touching her.
  • She’s wearing the Phoenix logo in post Second Coming images (see above).

And that’s it.  Will something big happen in the Second Coming finale?  Oh, absolutely.  Did they wait a little too long on it, allowing for interest in the character to wane?  Also absolutely.  The X-Men have been caught in a series of crossovers to the point where little seems to really matter, as it’s all just filler while waiting for the next mega-event…if they even bother giving space between them.  So is Hope going to be the game-changer as hyped?  Probably not.

After all, we will need a mega-event to fix M-Day, right?

Top 100 X-Men: 11-15

Shown here nigh invulnerable, blasting.

#15: Cannonball
X-Men, New Mutants, X-Force
While getting an auspicious start as a goon for Donald Pierce, Cannonball quickly joined the New Mutants and became one of the two leaders of the team.  Unlike his teammates, Cannonball stuck with the group from beginning to end and became a founding member of X-Force.  Under Cable’s guidance, he became a natural fit for team leader, protecting his friends and making excellent battlefield decisions.  On top of all of that, he’s got a heart of gold. 

Cannonball has struggled throughout his career with numerous setbacks.  First it was that he couldn’t control his powers as well as the other New Mutants.  After that was doubts about his leadership due to losses on the team.  Then he had a semi-disastrous term as a proper X-Man, largely in part to bad writing a lack of confidence.  But each time, he went back and fixed his issues and came back better than ever, now once again serving as leader of the original New Mutants.  He also may or may not be immortal, so that’s pretty cool too. 

Rob Liefeld thinks he's awesome.

#14: Cable
X-Men, X-Force
When Cable debuted as the newfound leader of the New Mutants, it was doubtful that creators Louise Simonson or Rob Liefeld had any idea of what he was going to become.  He was originally merely a veteran soldier.  Over the years he became a ridiculously powerful psi who just happens to be the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor returned from the future.  And he uses guns!  Big, big guns! 

But from his shaky beginnings of distrust from nearly everyone who wore the ‘X’, Cable has become a valued member of the X-Men family.  He’s served as an X-Man, created a paradise island of his own, nearly sacrificed himself to preserve it, and finally has spent the last 16 years of his life in an apocalyptic future raising Hope, who may or may not be the only hope Mutantkind has in the present.  Certainly a far cry from the overly muscled, half robot, shoulder pad wearing soldier he originally showed up as, huh? 

You wish you could pull this look off.

#13: Magneto
X-Men, New Mutants (Headmaster)
Oh, come on!  It’s fricking Magneto!  Tell me he’s not awesome!  So sure, he’s spent a large part of nearly 50 years trying to kill the X-Men, but that’s why he doesn’t break the top 10.  Once a raving villain typical of the Silver Age, Magneto developed into the opposite side of Charles Xavier’s dream, also wanting peace for mutants but unconvinced that humans will ever accept them.  Over time, he decided his means would never succeed and he joined up with his former arch-enemy Xavier, becoming headmaster of the school.  But, since the New Mutants were a bunch of jerks, that didn’t last. 

Magneto honestly believes what he has done was the best course for mutantkind, though he did go a little batty now and again in the process.  He’s been both sinner and saint, often both at the same time, but has recently joined back up with the X-Men in the hopes of protecting what is left of mutantkind and hopefully being able to restore that which his daughter Scarlet Witch had taken away from them.  He’s also made the bucket helmet and a purple/red color scheme look cool since 1963. 

Take your time. I can wait.

#12: Emma Frost
X-Men, Generation X, New X-Men (Hellions Advisor)
Who could have anticipated what Emma Frost would end up being – co-headmaster of the Xavier Institute as well as banger of Cyclops.  Quite a long way she’s come since she was trying to kill the X-Men for the Hellfire Club.  Serving as primary protagonist for the New Mutants, we saw the Emma wasn’t so much evil as she was willing to do whatever was needed to get ahead.  As time went on, she became less ‘kill you and rule the world’ and more ‘step on you to achieve my goals’.  Her redemption came when she spent a few years in a coma before popping back up and becoming the co-leader of Generation X. 

She came to the X-Men after the destruction of Genosha complete with a new diamond form second mutation, which mirrored her ice cold demeanor.  She took to Cyclops immediately and even managed to come between him and Jean Grey – a feat only even attempted once before (by Psylocke).  Upon Jean’s death, Emma made her move and got Cyke in the sack and became actually quite proud of her role as a head of the school.  She’s made some questionable decisions, but she really has shined in her role with the team, and not simply because her skin reflects the sunlight. 

How does he move? Simple: "organic steel".

#11: Colossus
X-Men, Excalibur
You really have to feel bad for this guy.  Few people on this list have suffered like he has.  Both of his parents were killed for no particular reason due to bad writing a government plot, his sister succumbed to the Legacy Virus, he joined the Acolytes because of a head trauma, he returned to his beloved Shadowcat only to find her snogging with nasty brit Pete Wisdom, and eventually he just went and killed himself to cure the disease that took his sister.  That pretty much sucks. 

But despite all of those hardships, Colossus is still with the X-Men, still believes in their goals, and still remains one of the more important members of the organization.  Both he and his sister returned from the dead and he finally hooked up with Kitty (causing her to phase through her floor while…you know).  Once the most doubtful of his place on the team, Colossus has become the cornerstone of the X-Men, and not simply because he’s the only one who can hold them all up for an extended amount of time. 

Check here for the entire list thus far! 

Check back Wednesday for #6-10!  Almost there!

Why mutants shouldn’t breed

Let’s forget for a moment the whole ‘No more mutants’ thing, as well as the Trask mission to curb mutant breeding.  Let’s also forget the ‘changing the dynamic of the story’ and ‘damaging the characters’ bit that introducing pregnancy/birth often does.

With all that gone, I’m going to use nothing more than the lessons of history to prove that mutants…and even those allied to mutants…just shouldn’t be breeding.  It just shouldn’t happen.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s ask…

Professor X
Before Charles Xavier met and fell in love with Moira MacTaggert, he worked in a middle eastern hospital alongside he who would go on to be Magneto…under the rather awkward pseudonym of ‘Magnus’.  There he met a headcase patient named Gabrielle Haller whom he helped back to sanity.  In thanks for his efforts, she did what any other headcase would do…bang him.  The two had more lust than love, and Xavier departed unaware that he had left Gabrielle pregnant with the son who would eventually go on to become Legion, multiple-personalitied mutant psychopath who eventually created the Age of Apocalypse.  But that’s not to say it was better for…

Moira MacTaggert
Like any woman from comics in the late Silver Age would do, Moira left Charles Xavier after he was drafted into military service and settled down with a downright lout of a man in Joe MacTaggert.  Though it was not plainly stated, it was implied that he had impregnated her through force, and she kept her son Kevin from him.  Kevin developed a mutant ability that burned out his own body, creating Proteus, who went on to kill a whole bunch of people before the X-Men put him down.

See?  And those were the good guys.  We’ll look at some other offsprings after jump.