jean grey

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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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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eXaminations

(Note: WordPress has suggested that I add links to my article.  Click at your own risk.)

So while I haven’t caught up with the Catching Up features, I feel like the launching of Battle of the Atom is a good place to restart my running commentary of all things X-related as to keep this blog relevant for the current comic fan.  Hey,  we appreciate you, fair reader, even when we tend to disagree (looking at you).

So here harkens the return of the eXaminations feature!  Huzzah and whatnot!  This week we’ll be looking at:

  • X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 in which all the time craziness starts coming to a head.
  • All-New X-Men #16 in which the story keeps going with a big honking reveal.
  • X-Factor #262 in which the series gets its happy ending with the promise of more to come.
  • X-Men Legacy #16 in which Legion finally takes a look at that whole ‘Cyclops killed my dad’ thing.

ALSO!

  • Infinity is going on in the Marvel U, so we’ll take a look at that.  It’s got some X-Characters in it.

The words past the jump have the understanding that you’ve read the books covered.  Thus, any SPOILERS presented are not going to make me lose any sleep.  Just saying,

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Catching up: All New X-Men

As I catch up to the current issues of the various X-books that I haven’t been doing my eXaminations on, I decided I’d do a post about my thoughts on how each book is going in the whole Marvel NOW! hooplah.

First up is All-New X-Men, since it’s all new and all.

Brian Michael Bendis has had his fill of Avengers and moved his seat over to the X-table, now writing both of what one might consider the “flagship” books (though to be fair, there are two other books that are just X-Men team books as well and one about the school itself).  The first one out of the gate to wave the NOW! flag was All-New, and if you can’t tell from the image above, the whole premise is getting back to the X-Men roots through wacky time travel antics.

But that’s putting it mildly.  The reality of the book’s premise is a bit more convoluted in that Beast, believing himself to be dying from his latest round of genetic mutation (farewell, cat Beast), decides to nab the original five X-Men from the past and bring them to the present to make Cyclops realize how just awful he’s been of late.

Does that seem dumb to you?  That seems kind of dumb to me.

Anyway, the kids do the confrontation, predictably it doesn’t do anything of consequence and then the kids decide that since their Professor X is going to wipe the memories from their heads upon their return home anyway, they might as well stay in the present and fix things so they can go with the knowledge that they’ll eventually have a world worth living in, which admittedly the Marvel U has never been for mutants.

Now that’s an okay setup on a basic level, I guess, but it really doesn’t seem to be working in execution.  For one, the pickup point for the kids happens in the middle of the original X-Men #8 in which Beast and Iceman return home up in arms about being mobbed simply for being mutants.  That’s all well and good in the sense that it gives the X-Men a place where Xavier won’t notice them gone (of course, being that it’s time travel that is a moot point), but it puts the kids way to early in the heroing career to be in the all-in idealists for Xavier’s dream that the story seems to be requiring.

You might think it’s perfectly acceptable for the kids to want to make a difference here being that they are already teenage super-heroes and thus not much for exactly grand self-preserving life choices, but the underlying problem is what happens if something happens to the kids in the present?  If teenage Beast dies in the present, what happens to all the crap Beast’s done in his fifty years of existence?  All of the responsible super-heroes are standing around going “this doesn’t seem like a good idea” and then just shrugging and walking away.  It’s a story where everyone is putting aside any kind of common sense to the matter just because the premise doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

But comics can do that, so what am I complaining about?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the kids don’t seem to really be acting much like their character bases, but that comes as much from the 60’s X-Men having been remarkably dull characters for a lot of their Silver Age antics.  Iceman and Beast handle easily enough – one needs to be goofy and the other needs to be pretentious – but the rebelling teenage Cyclops doesn’t really fly as well with me.  Silver Age Cyclops was much more straight laced then that, especially right at the beginning, where the storyline nabbed the kids from.  Angel doesn’t get any kind of real characterization at all, though he leaps over to Uncanny not long in, so I may be talking to soon.

My main problem with this book is that it just seems to be stalling for time.  We’re 14 issues in and not that much has actually really happened.  The kids are in the present and hanging out with Kitty Pryde, and that’s about it.  It’s like they’re just standing around until something comes around to need them.  And being that something dealing with their time traveling stuff is going to be in the Next Big Event, that may be exactly what this book’s going to do.

Fine if you’re really aching for a Jean Grey in your life, but underwhelming for me.

Next time: Astonishing X-Men

On the Phoenix Force

You’re probably aware that the first issue of Avengers vs. X-Men came out this week.  Technically the second issue since they had an issue #0, but you know what I mean.  And if you are aware of that, you’re also probably aware that the big deal is about the Phoenix Force and how it relates to one Hope Summers.

Subtle.

What bothered me about the first issue (which I will get to when I finish up my eXaminations) was when Captain America went to Wolverine asking about the Phoenix Force.  Wolverine gave a description about how it used Jean Grey as a host and she ended up having to kill herself to stop it.  Besides being pretty mistaken on the facts of the original Phoenix Saga (again, wait for eXclamations on that note), I thought about how the usage of the descriptions of the Phoenix Force around this point have been inconsistent with what we’ve learned about it in the three decades since Jean first rose from Jamaica Bay all fiery and whatnot.

But then I realized that I didn’t really have a handle on just what exactly the Phoenix Force was.  And I’m not a dumb comic nerd.  I can explain PsylockeI know the deal with BOTH Xorns.  Hell, I could even tell you about post-Crisis Hawkman.  Yet still I struggle with just what the deal is with Phoenix.

So for my sake, as well as yours, I’m going to go over what I know about the Phoenix.  Sure, I could look it all up, but this is where I am coming from in my thoughts on the matter, so you, fair reader, will understand my AvX thoughts.

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The jealousy-inducing love life of Scott Summers

Have you met Scott “Slim” Summers, longtime leader of the X-Men?  He may look like something of a goober, but when you look at some of the ladies he’s had over his nearly 50 years of published existence, you will be wishing you were him, uncontrollable eye lasers and all.

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