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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


Top 100 X-Men: #1-5

This is it!  We’ve finally come to the end of the countdown!

#5: Wolverine
X-Men, X-Force
That’s right.  Number five.  Four others ahead of him.  There wasn’t much to Wolverine when he was recruited to the second team of X-Men in Giant Size X-Men #1.  He was a minor character from an issue of Incredible Hulk who had little personality beyond being grumpy.  But little by little, things began to change for the pint-size psychopath.  He began warming to his teammates, confused about how to express his friendship.  His claws, originally written to be a part of his gloves, became an extension of his skeleton, also metal, which opened up a past of government manipulation.  He settled down and actually became a beloved member of the X-Men, and even a paternal figure of sorts to Kitty Pryde, the newest and youngest recruit.

Despite his popularity, Wolverine has only been actual leader of the X-Men once, and only for a short span of issues while Storm was away on a personal quest.  But during that time he proved his worth by uniting a ragtag group of replacement X-Men into a proper team themselves.  He was well aware of his limitations, though, and happily gave the spot up as soon as the team was reunited with Storm.  The two became the elders of the team, wholeheartedly engrossed in Professor Xavier’s dream, even with Xavier’s extended absence in space.  And that is what ranks Wolverine so highly on the list.  He went from joining the X-Men as a free ticket out of service to the Canadian government and became one of the most devout soldiers in Xavier’s forces.

But beyond his personal beliefs, his unique skill sets and talents make him a valued asset to the X-Men.  Despite having a healing factor that goes beyond even suspension of disbelief sometimes, it’s Wolverine’s willingness to go over the line to get the job done that has proved, as of late, to be his biggest aide to the team.  Leading X-Force (reluctantly), he has taken down numerous threats to the endangered mutant populace, even though he was forced to put those close to him in danger (most notably X-23).  But Wolverine understands the needs of the X-Men and doesn’t often disobey the orders of Cyclops, who even from their rocky beginnings have become the best of friends.

In all of the years since Wolverine’s debut, he has most certainly earned his place time and time again as one of the greatest X-Men ever.


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.


Origins gone wrong

 The longer a character is used, especially when numerous creators are involved, the more likely it is that something will be added to their backstory that contradicts something else or comes across as pointless or convoluted.  Provided are five examples of such presented throughout the history of the X-Men.

Irish mutant Sean Cassidy was captured by the mutant group Factor Three and fitted with a headpiece that would explode if he disobeyed them.  Placed under the care of the Ogre, Banshee became a small time crook until he went up against and was defeated by the X-Men, who freed him of his captivity.  He became an ally until eventually joining the team.

It Eventually Became
Sean Cassidy worked as an Irish agent of Interpol for years.  While on a mission, his beloved wife Maeve was killed and he left Interpol to travel the world.  Eventually he settled in New York, joining the NYPD, but did not stay in the force for a lengthy time.  After this period, he was captured by Factor Three.

What happened?
Wanting Banshee to serve as a more veteran presence on the “all-new” X-Men, it was written in a quick line that he had been an ‘ex-cop’.  The NYPD part was added when he was seen wearing an NYPD shirt while on a picnic with Moira MacTaggert and the X-Men.  The Interpol part was likely added in to keep the cop part going while playing up Banshee’s international heritage.

Why it Doesn’t Work
The Interpol/NYPD parts of Banshee’s origins overlook one of the main points of the character’s first appearance.  While under the watch of Factor Three, Banshee willingly took the part of the petty crook, happily stealing fine tobacco and paintings for his own personal gain.  Even his handler the Ogre chastised him for doing such crimes as it brought unwanted attention to their activities.  Even when recruited to the X-Men, Banshee commented that it would be nice to “tread the straight and narrow” meaning to turn away from his former life of crime.  By the time he had been established within Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on X-Men, this was all but forgotten, save for a single image on a Cyclops-narrated history of the X-Men.