emma frost

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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Chuck Austen’s X-Men: Bright New Mourning

Still in epilogue mode so we have another two-issue wrap-up.

newxmen156Took Place In
New X-Men #155-156

Team Line-Up
Cyclops (leader), Beast, Emma Frost

Others You Should Be Aware Of
The Stepford Cuckoos (Phoebe, Celeste, Mindee)

In a Nutshell
Cyclops and Beast go looking through the ruins of the X-Mansion for Cassandra Nova then give up because Beast is mad that Cyclops has hooked up with Emma Frost immediately after burying his wife.  They then rescue Emma and the Stepford Cuckoos from a burning building.

Grant Morrison’s New X-Men has ended, yet there’s still a couple issues before the ReLoad of Joss Whedon in which our beloved Chuck Austen helms X-Men (minus the New), so the New X-Men title gets an epilogue (another one) with the only two issues of New not written by Morrison. Much like Of Darkest Nights, this serves as a follow-up not to Austen’s own stories over in Uncanny, but rather Morrison’s own New X-Men story. Of Darkest Nights got away with it by using Polaris, Charles Xavier and Wolverine, all prominently featured in Austen’s run. Bright New Mourning instead uses Morrison’s characters, which ends up being a problem.

You see, despite being heralded as one of the greatest X-Men runs ever, Morrison’s New X-Men can get a tad confusing if you’re not really paying attention. I’m still not sure I quite understand whatever the hell Sublime was, and he’s showing up in recent comics. There’s a lot of stuff that Morrison tossed in that might have taken an extra read or two to really nail down, and it seems like Chuck Austen simply didn’t understand, or didn’t bother to figure it out. That’s okay – you’d assume there were editors to help out, right?

If you believe that one, then you haven’t been following our Chuck Austen adventure thus far.

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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.

1992’s Where Are They Now?

I started my X-Men fandom back in 1991 when my brother picked up Uncanny X-Men #275 (featuring my all-time favorite cover), and then had me buying them just three issues later.  1991 was a big year for the X-Men franchise, as the three big titles – Uncanny, New Mutants and X-Factor all went through major changes.  With the release of the cartoon shortly after, the X-Men became an even bigger sensation for young fans, even for a line that had for some time been THE book of the comic scene.

A lot of my time in late-91 and most of 1992 hanging out a small local comic shop about three blocks away from my house hanging out with the local solicitor, a guy I only knew as Steve.  Steve had opened a comic and card shop along with a small art gallery in a building next to Louisville’s Clifton Pizza, which is why to this day I associate the smell of a sit-down pizzeria with comics.  Steve was an amazing contributor to my fledgling comic fandom, one of the three people that _ my love of comics (along with my older brother and my friend’s Aunt Jane – who was my comic mentor).

I spent many a dollar in Steve’s shop, and he gave me numerous deals that helped me build my collection of both comics and cards.  For the entire summer of 1992, I spent dollar after dollar on packs of the first-ever X-Men trading card set.  This 100-card set (not counting the bonuses) was drawn completely by Jim Lee, and reflected all of the X-Teams, even Excalibur.  This card set let me learn about all the X-Men characters, in a time when Al Gore had yet to develop the Internet.  Back then, you had to read the issues yourself or find some kind of resource to get your knowledge.  And this one was mine.

At a dollar a pack, I spent most of the summer of ’92 piecing together this set.  Steve was nice enough to buy back my doubles as I slowly but surely worked on the entire set.  In fact, two weeks was spent looking for two cards to finish the set – Shatterstar and Danger Room Gambit – until one fateful day I bought one pack that had BOTH cards in it.  I was one happy camper.

In fact, my biggest regret of the numerous lost pieces of my youthful comic collection is that I managed to lose this set somewhere along the line.  It was probably pitched or given away by my mom, but I can’t really blame her as it likely took place during my down period of comic fandom in the early 00’s.  I could actually buy the whole set now for not that much, but I can’t say I have the money for it right now.  (If any reader would like to…just saying, ha!)

But I occasionally go back and look through the set, via a site of scans at comiccovers.com, and reminisce about the fun I had collecting them.

But today when I did so it dawned on me that there are some characters that were highlighted back in this boom period of X-Men that have been lost into character limbo over the years.  After all, it’s been over 2 decades since this set came out.  So let’s look at some of the featured characters from this period that have been largely forgotten over time.

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eXaminations: 1/18/12

I will hand this to Marvel – despite their inability to set any kind of solid schedule for the release of their books (unlike DC, Marvel tends to ship books on the “whenever they’re done” schedule) they have thus far managed to give the X-Men titles some kind of divide where the Wolverine books come out together, as do the Cyclops books.

Well, almost…but 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.  We’ll be checking out:

  • Generation Hope #15 in which Sebastian Shaw isn’t exactly welcome on Utopia.
  • New Mutants #36 in which the team finishes the Blink mission.
  • Uncanny X-Force #20 in which Fantomex goes on trial.
  • Uncanny X-Men #5 in which the team notices what’s been going on in other books.

We’ll begin after the jump.  Do be weary of SPOILERS within.

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Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

There’s a great benefit the follow-up to a bad movie has before it’s even been screened for the first time.  No matter how good or bad it may be, it likely cannot be worse than the previous one.  Fans went into Batman Begins knowing that whatever they saw would surpass Batman and Robin.  And those left disappointed by X-Men: The Last Stand likely went into First Class with the thought that it simply had to be somewhat better.

I make the lofty comparison between the Batman and X-Men franchises because just like the movie from the Distinguished Competition, Marvel’s merry mutants have pulled off a miraculous turnaround from the gratuitous action nonsense that Last Stand had been into an origin story filled with likable characters, interesting dynamics, and (if you can believe it) little-to-no Wolverine.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should probably stop right here and avoid the SPOILERS I will be getting to after the jump.  If that’s the case, I’ll leave you with this.  X-Men: First Class is, in my opinion, the best movie in the franchise, only argued by X2: X-Men United.  Instead of reading this blog, you should go see it.  Actually, click on the jump link and give us the page hit.  THEN go see it.  And then come back.

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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!