chris claremont

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.

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Podicus Wrecks #42.5 – Claremont and Byrne X-Men run part 2

It’s time for part 2 of our discussion on Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s Uncanny X-Men run. Find out what awaits our band of fearless heroes after their ordeal on Murderwold. Will they find happiness on Muir Island, or just a crazy mutant? Find out what in world is happening with Jean Grey. All that and possibly the Wendigo is ahead.

Podicus Wrecks #42 – Claremont and Byrne’s X-men part 1

It’s time to talk about good X-men stories. That’s why Jacob and Casey join us this week to discuss Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on Uncanny X-men. The discussion ran pretty long, so we are breaking it up into two parts. This is part 1 of the discussion. Part 2 will be up in a couple days.

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.

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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Amazing X-Men

As if there weren’t already too many blasted X-books running around, Marvel has fired up the adjective machine and out comes Amazing X-Men #1.  J.R. had commented to me earlier that Amazing didn’t seem like an X-appropriate title, as usually that adjective means a Spider book, but I pointed out that back when the Age of Apocalypse re-titled the X-line for four months, Uncanny and Adjective-less became Astonishing and Amazing, so in terms of nearly 20-year old crossover re-titles, Amazing is as good a title as any to replace the fallen Astonishing, right?

Anyway, Amazing is filling the gap left behind when Astonishing bid its farewell.  Once upon a time, Astonishing had been created to be the flagship title of the X-Books, in a time where each X-Men title had an identity and purpose for existing.  This is not that time.  Solicitations would tell you that this is the opposite side of the coin of Wolverine and the X-Men, since both books are being written by Jason Aaron.  So while the older book deals with the school, this new book gives the old fashioned super-hero stories.  But of course, that was also the point of X-Men, beyond the whole “toss all the girls together and pretend that’s not the gimmick” bit.

So what’s the point of Amazing X-Men?  You got four extra bucks to spend?

The debut story sets about getting Nightcrawler back into the land of the living.  You might recall that he was killed off back in Second Coming, since someone had to and he wasn’t really doing anything else at the time.  It was a crap death for an awesome character, and nerds like me have been waiting for the day that the fuzzy blue elf gets to play his resurrection card.  No good character stays dead, after all.  Jason Aaron has obviously had something Nightcrawler-related in mind for a while now since he’s had little Bamf demons running around his school since he launched Wolverine and the X-Men.

The other new bit to the book is the addition of Firestar, who hasn’t been an X-Men character since the mid-80’s when Chris Claremont introduced her as one of Emma Frost’s Hellions.  Remember that?  I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long to yank Firestar into the X-Men fold, as ever since House of M, every mutant-ish character has pretty much gone under the X.  Remember when Cloak and Dagger were members of the team?  Whatever happened to that?

I suppose Firestar is supposed to be the character that can level with the reader and get exposition tossed at when needed, but other than that I really don’t see a purpose of tossing her into the team.  The X-Men line is already way over-saturated, and anything she could bring to the table can easily be covered by any number of others.  She’s probably just a character that the creators liked and thus here she is.  I don’t really mind, but I haven’t given a damn about her since the earliest days of New Warriors.  Here, she just feels tossed in.

So, there we go.  Nice debut issue for another X-Men book tossed out because people will buy it.  Hopefully Jason Aaron will stay on the title and give it some identity and it doesn’t fall into the backwaters of importance as its predecessor did.

And finally the truth is revealed

One of the saddest bits of comic news EVER was the announcement that Peter David was ending X-Factor.  Throughout all the nonsense that the X-Men line has been put through over the last few years, X-Factor has remained an excellent read and a home for some of my favorite B-list X-Characters.  That was the entire point of it.

But even though X-Factor is sadly coming to an end, Peter David is taking the opportunity to close out the various characters’ stories that have been building for some time.  In the case of Wolfsbane, she finally got a place where she can have a happy life (as long as Craig Kyle and Chris Yost don’t get a hold of her).  With this week’s issue #259, it was time to finally lay out the story of Longshot and Shatterstar – a story hinted at for most of the time both characters have been in the comic.

by BlitheFool

And, being the awesomeness of Peter David, it wasn’t just a simple “what is the connection between Longshot and Shatterstar”, but also an opportunity to fix a loose plot thread over a decade old, which probably only was still bothering an old cranky X-Men fan like me.  But since I’m an X-Men fan like me, I’m going to tell you all about it.

SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP.

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