wolverine

Logan review

Logan claw movie posterSince Hugh Jackman started playing Wolverine, we’ve had 3 different Spider-men, 2 Batmen, Chris Evans went from being a cocky Human Torch to being  Captain America, and people are questioning if there are too many comic book movies being released on a yearly basis.  When X-Men debuted in 2000, we were a few years removed from the debacle that was Batman & Robin.  There were no cinematic universes.  It was a different environment 17 years ago.

I do not remember there being much fanfare surrounding the release of X-Men.  I remember going to see it on a whim, even though that whim did happen to be on opening day.  But there was no reason to think then that we would still be talking about those actors playing those characters.  And while some have been replaced by younger versions since they went backwards in the timeline, there has been one constant.  Hugh Jackman has been Wolverine throughout.  That all comes to an end with Logan.  Logan is expected to be the final time Hugh Jackman portrays Wolverine on film.  I say “expected” because you should really never say never.

I say all of this, because I believe Logan works better when viewed as the swan song for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, rather than as the next movie in a long line of X-Men movies.  It is easier to think of the movies in two distinct timelines.  You have the original timeline, which includes X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The Wolverine.  Then there is the First Class timeline, which includes X-Men:  First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse.  Days of Future Past links the original cast with the First Class cast, but I think it is simpler to put it in the new timeline, since it retcons events in previous movies anyways.  Now, the question is where does Logan fit in.  The answer to that is a giant shrug.  They do not attempt to fit it in anywhere, and that is fine.  (more…)

Logan trailer

I don’t exactly know why I’m looking forward to this movie as much as I am, but I’m really looking forward to it.  Maybe it’s the thought that we may get something that passes for an actual ending to the story of Wolverine.  Or at least Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.  With Days of Future Past, timelines have gotten a little jumbled, but I don’t really care what timeline we’re in, or even how we got here.  There are reports things may get rebooted anyways.  So, I really hope we get a nice end to Jackman’s Wolverine.  It really is amazing how many appearances he has made as Wolverine.  When they inevitably try to find someone younger to play Wolverine for the next however many movies, it is going to be difficult to replace Hugh Jackman.

Chuck Austen’s X-Men: Of Darkest Nights

A quick note before we begin.  The remaining chapters of Chuck Austen’s X-Men have been COMPLETED.  As in written (with images) and ready to post.  That means no more delays in further updates – there will be two updates next week and then the final chapter and a wrap-up the following week.  Thanks for sticking with it – it’ll be worth it!


443cover

Took Place In

Uncanny X-Men #442-443

Team Line-Up
Juggernaut, Polaris, Wolverine

Others You Should Be Aware Of
Emma Frost, Professor X, She-Hulk, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch

In a Nutshell
Professor X takes the body of the slain Magneto back to Genosha and has a philosophical debate with Polaris while Wolverine tears down buildings.

Before we begin, I have to give a little bit of defense to our favorite writer, Chuck Austen. 2004 was a big transitional time for the X-Men. At the time, there were three X-Men books – one was considered the “flagship”, which carried the MAIN X-Men story – while the other two were basically secondary books for characters to appear who weren’t being used in the main book. And Wolverine of course, because Wolverine. The flagship book would get all the Wizard attention (remember Wizard?) while the secondary books were kind of left to their own, hoping that no one would notice. For X-Treme X-Men, it gave Chris Claremont room to do whatever he wanted, because he’s Chris Claremont and damn it, he earned it. As for Uncanny, Chuck Austen did…well, we’ve learned what Chuck Austen did.

But come 2004, suddenly the flagship hit a transitional period. Grant Morrison finished up his epic in New X-Men and headed off for the Distinguished Competition, and fanboy messiah Joss Whedon was set to come in and start his epic in the newly launched Astonishing X-Men – back when jumping on points were actually jumping on points. In the meantime, the rest of the X-Books got shuffled a bit. Both Uncanny and New had decently high numbers (back when that mattered) so X-Treme X-Men was ended and Claremont was brought back over and given Uncanny, which from a sales point made a lot of sense – Chris Claremont back in the book that he built. Glory. Chuck Austen was in turn pushed over to Morrison’s old title, given back it’s original name of simply “X-Men”. So all was good in the world. Whedon manned the flagship, and the others kept going.

Well, except that there was a two month gap between Morrison’s last issue and the big relaunch. That meant nothing for X-Treme X-Men – all it had to do was wrap up and get ready to jump. But for Uncanny and New X-Men, that meant two months of treading water, not able to start new stories because RELAUNCH. So in Marvel’s epic wisdom, they decided to give both books to Chuck Austen and said “do something for an epilogue”. But it wasn’t an epilogue to his own stories – no funeral for the Cabots to be seen. Instead, he got hampered with writing an epilogue to Grant Morrison’s finale of Planet X. (We’re going to ignore Here Comes Tomorrow). That meant Magneto and Phoenix dead, Charles Xavier leaving the school, and the school in ruins.

That by itself wasn’t too bad, but any X-fan worth their mettle is probably aware of the shenanigans that took place just after Morrison left Marvel. The entire run of Morrison’s X-Men had been the infiltration of Magneto into the X-Men following the destruction of Genosha. Then the climax hits and everyone’s mind is blown and we’re left with the aftermath…and Marvel decides “Nope, it was not actually Magneto” and brings him back a couple months later, with Professor X seemingly having known the entire time. It was a horrendous mess, and it hampered any kind of story dealing with it, because if Professor X knew, why would he be going through these motions here?

So in Chuck’s defense, that’s not his fault. This will also come up when we get to the return of Xorn. But enough of that. We’re not here to defend – we’re here to ridicule. So let’s go!

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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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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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Catching up: Astonishing X-Men

Once upon a time, Astonishing X-Men was launched to be the new flagship title of the X-Men line, but numerous delays from its high-profile creators eventually led the rest of the line to move on without it.  By the end of both Joss Whedon, then Warren Ellis’s runs, the book seemed to be doomed to a status of X-Men Unlimited, hoping to sell on is past history of excellence.  I used to complain all the time about it.

That changed when Marjorie Liu took over the title and gave it something of a reason for existing, using a stable cast of X-Men characters that no one else was messing with including Northstar, Cecelia Reyes, Karma, and shockingly enough Gambit.  What does it say about the X-Men line when no one’s using Gambit?  Anyway, Liu gave a voice to the book and gave the book more of a family feel that the line has seemingly lacked while bouncing from major event to major event.  Instead of focusing on relationships that have built upon for decades (Wolverine/Cyclops, Kitty Pryde/Colossus), Liu’s title focused more on the bond between her cast which hadn’t been seen before.

Of course, she had me at Cecelia Reyes.  I love that short-lived era of the X-Men.

The major selling point of Liu’s Astonishing was the wedding of Northstar to his boyfriend, Kyle, but the book kept running past that and has since used Kyle as a supporting member of the cast – another thing that the X-Men books haven’t seen much of.

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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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