June 2015

Collects: Uncanny X-Men 273-280, X-Men Annual 15, X-Factor 69-70, X-Men 1-3; material from X-Factor Annual 6, New Mutants Annual 7

Writer: Chris Claremont, Fabien Nicieza, Peter David, Jim Lee

Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Whilce Portacio, Paul Smith, and others

In this collection the rather large mutant team splits into Blue and Yellow teams and the classic X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Archangel) leave X-Factor and return to being X-Men. It also includes the Muir Island Saga confrontation between the X-Men and the Shadow King. It also has the first issues of the (then) new X-Men title and Claremont’s final issue.

Right after the X-tinction Agenda, the X-Men, Cable, and New Mutants gather into to the school to think about their teams’ future. Cable suggests going after their known enemies, which there are many, and essentially waging war on them. Storm, Scott, and Jean disagree, saying that the mutants aren’t soldiers. However, before they decide on what to do next, Lila Cheney teleports a core group away to the Shi’Ar Empire. The group was the classic blue and yellow uniforms and has Storm, Gambit, Jubilee, Psylocke, Forge, Banshee and Wolverine.

Meanwhile, Rogue’s adventures in Savage Land continue. Magneto has used some machines to fix Rogue but the result was the she lost all her powers, including her own to absorb other’s minds and powers. Rogue, Magneto, and Ka-Zar are fighting against Zaladane who has stolen Polaris’ magnetic powers and seems to be even more powerful than Magneto. She has a powerful group of villains by her side, including Worm who can enslave thousands of others. Just when our intrepid trio is almost defeated, a joint UN and SHIELD squad comes to their rescue. Unfortunately, the UN squad includes Russians who hate Magneto. But Zaladane is now so powerful that Magneto can’t defeat her alone. Rogue and Magneto seem to be attracted to each other.

In the next issues, the space team fights alongside Lilandra and the Starjammers, and they’re finally reunited with Professor Xavier. However, nothing is as it seems.

When the space team returns to Earth, they’re in the fight of their lives: the final showdown against the Shadow King! The Shadow King is an enormously powerful telepath and Xavier’s arch nemesis. He also controls the Muir Island and everyone there, including Moira MacTaggart. He has corrupted them into more vile versions of themselves. Both the X-Factor and a lot of X-Men are required in order to end this vile villain. For a while, at least. They also have to fight against former allies and we finally find out what happened to poor Polaris.

Then the X-Men return to their roots: the original X-Men return and Xavier starts again to lead the team. They’re also pitted against Magneto. He’s rebuilt his old asteroid base and the world governments don’t like it. A group of mutants steal a space shuttle and attempt to get into asteroid but a group of SHIELD agents are following them. Magneto isn’t too pleased to see them but when one of the agents shoots at one of the mutants, he kills the agent in retaliation. Of course, things escalate from there. He raises the nuclear submarine he sunk years ago. The UN is starting their “Magneto Protocol” and the X-Men confront him. Magneto is justifying his actions when the X-Men team attack him. He escapes with the nukes but before that he declares Asteroid M as a sovereign state and a haven for all mutants.

Magneto has also found out that someone has tampered with his genes and blames Moira. When she confesses, after Magneto threatens to kill Xavier, Magneto forces her to temper with the X-Men’s genes and make them agreeable to his plans. Cyclops, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Wolverine and Psylocke declare themselves followers of Magneto! Of course, the nations on Earth don’t want Asteroid M to threaten them and in the end colonel Fury asks secretly the remaining X-Men (Storm, Forge, Archangel, Jean, Colossus, Ice Man) to, essentially, take Magneto down before Asteroid M is hit by a huge plasma cannon. Of course, an epic battle ensues.

Magneto is shown here in very gray light (of course, if he was a cackling maniac, he wouldn’t be such a fascinating and enduring character): at the start of the collection he’s trying to save the planet from Zaladane’s destructive powers and muses about how he used to be very much like Zaladane when he was younger. In X-Men 1, he says that he doesn’t have a cause and he doesn’t want followers. It’s the actions of human bigots which force him to declare his asteroid a nation and then defend it. Unfortunately, he’s also used by one of his so-called Acolytes.

This was also another interesting read after Avengers vs X-Men. Scott is here still heart and soul an X-Man and he argues passionately against Cable’s more violent approach and he also clearly disagrees with Magneto’s views.

I liked this collection a lot; I love the Shi’Ar and the Starjammers. The fight against the Shadow King and Magneto are more personal than usual and they’re also clashes of ideologies as well as people.

The annuals have a storyline called “Kings of Pain” which wasn’t published here in Finland.

Tough Travelling hosted by Fantasy Review Barn.
Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is DISGUISES

Hiding in plain site? Put on a disguise. Often used to sneak into the evil lair. For best results brain a guard and steal his; no one is tracking these things.

Disguises are, indeed, a staple of adventure stories. Few are the characters who haven’t tried to sneak into somewhere wearing some sort of disguise.

The most memorable ones to me are:

Zeus takes up all sorts of disguises, sometimes as a bull or a swan or a human man to get to the various mortal women and men he desires.

As a trickster god Loki of course wears disguises whenever he wants to.

Robin Hood is famous for using several disguises to get into the Nottingham town or play tricks on the rich. Perhaps most famously he disguises himself as an old man to get into the Sheriff’s archery competition to win the golden arrow (or silver arrow in the later retellings).

John Carter: In several Barsoom books John disguises himself as a Red Martian simply by applying red paint to change his skin color. He’s in the Barsoom books by E. R. Burroughs.

Zorro: Maybe we all know by now that Don Diego de la Vega is actually the black clad and masked defender of the oppressed poor in California, but only one person knew that originally, Diego’s faithful servant Bernardo.

Superheroes: Various superheroes use secret identities and in more recent stories they even have identity crises. Is Clark Kent the real person or Superman? At least in darker stories Batman is the real person and Bruce Wayne is just the disguise he uses when necessary.

Spies: As a spy the Black Widow uses several identities which can range from short term to several years. Also, Modesty Blaise uses disguises sometime in Peter O’Donnell’s comics and books.

Supervillains: some villains also have secret identities.

Mystique from the X-Men comics and movies is pretty much the queen of disguises because she can shapeshift herself to look like anyone, including their voice and cloths.

The Skrulls are a whole species of shape shifters who can infiltirate pretty much anything, as was shown to us a few years ago in various Marvel comics.

In Buffy, Willow disguised herself as the Vampire Willow from another time line in the episode Dobbelgangland.


Writers: Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson
Artists: Bill Jaaska, Mike Collins, Joe Rubinstein, Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Rob Liefeld and lot of others

This collection features the introduction of Gambit, another cool loner type (in addition to Wolverine).

The X-Men issues in this collections start with a three-issue focus on Storm. She’s now a little girl in Cairo (Illinois, not Egypt). She steals from the rich using her erratic powers to help her. However, the Shadow King is on her trail and manages to lure her into a trap. She escapes it only with the help of Gambit. But when they manage to leave Shadow king and his hounds to the dust, Nanny and the Orphan Maker attack.

Then, we return to Madripoor where Wolverine, Psylocke, and Jubilee get some help from the Black Widow. Logan reminisces about how he first met Natasha during WWII. She was just a child whom the Hand, a guild of assassins, tried to use for their own ends. Logan and Captain America saved her.

And in issue 269 we finally get the return of Rogue who disappeared into the Siege Perilous in issue 247. She returns to the X-Men’s old hideout in Australia without Ms. Marvel’s powers. Unfortunately, the hideout has been retaken by the Reavers and Ms. Marvel has been separated from Rogue. Carol immediately attacks Rogue who just manages to escape into the Savage Land. Carol ends up in Muir Island and the Shadow King takes her over and sends her to attack Rogue again. In the end, only either Carol or Rogue can survive.

The rest of the issues in this collection were not published here in Finland. Most of them are available digitally at Marvel but they’re not part of the Marvel Unlimited subscription, except for the X-Men issues. Fortunately, the collection is in the Finnish library system.

Next, the four annuals bring us the Days of Future Present story. It starts with the Fantastic Four annual: the team (with their son Franklin, human Ben Grimm, and Sharon Ventura as Ms. Marvel who looks like the Thing) is returning to Four Freedom’s Plaza when the whole building disappears. Then, the Baxter Building reappears. When they investigate, they find an adult Franklin with frightening powers. Eventually, the New Mutants, X-Factor, and the X-Men get involved, as well. The X-Factor annual includes the historic (to me, at least) moment when Rachel meets Jean for the first time and admits to Jean and Scott that she’s their daughter from an alternate future. Unfortunately, this don’t go well for her.

I love the Days of Future Past story and some of the stories which it has spawned. This in an average offering where the story itself is buried under the clash of characters and teams. The four teams fight Ahab and his sentinels and hounds in addition to the adult Franklin. (And after reading A vs X, it was very interesting to see Reed say that Scott and the other mutants in his team are like family to the FF.)

The rest of the collection is taken over by the X-tinction Agenda which cross-overs to New Mutants and X-Factor. The story starts with Genosha essentially declaring war on the X-Men and sending out a strike team to Xavier’s school. They kidnap Storm in her child form and four of the New Mutants: Boom-Boom, Rictor, Wolfsbane and Warlock.

Then the X-tinction Agenda is in full swing. At first, Cable, Banshee, and Forge don’t know where the missing mutants have been taken but quickly X-Factor, Cable, Forge, Gambit, Banshee, Sunspot, and Cannonball head to Genosha to free the captive mutants. Also, Wolverine, Psylocke, and Jubilee appear there and are eventually reunited with the rest of the team. Meanwhile, the last X-Man who went through the Siege Perilous turns up: Havok is a dedicated Magistrate. Despite his powers he loathes all mutants. He thinks that he was born a Genoshan and volunteered to become a Magistrate.

The Genoshan president has joined forces with Cameron Hodge and Hodge was the one who decided to kidnap foreigners from foreign soil. The Genengineer and the leader of the Magistrates both want to get rid of the increasingly insane Hodge which is a wedge the X-Men exploit.

Boom-Boom and Rictor are without their powers most part of the story and most of the rest of the mutants also lose their powers temporarily forcing them to rely on their skills. This is always an interesting tactic. Warlock and Wolfsbane are greatly changed in this story and Storm returns back to her old adult self.

This is an enjoyable cross-over but the difference in art in jarring. The X-Men issues are done by Jim Lee and Scott Williams whose style is far sleeker than the other artists in the story line.

Gambit is the new character and even though he suggests once to Storm that they should just leave, he quickly becomes a reliable team member. Jubilee is actually far more reluctant to take orders than Gambit.

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