Marvel comics

Collects Uncanny X-Men #294–296; X-Factor #84–86; X-Men Vol. 2 #14–16; X-Force #16–18

Writers: Scott Lobdell, Peter David, Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Jae Lee, Al Milgrom, Greg Capullo, Harry Candelario, Brandon Peterson, Terry Austin, Andy Kubert, Mark Pennington

For a huge cross-over event across all x comics at the time, this held together quite well. The main enemy is Stryfe but Mr. Sinister and Apocalypse appear as well. Of course there are bad points, too. The cast of heroes is very big but most of them don’t make a marked difference. There’s even a point when Boom-Boom’s jaw is broken but in the rest of the issues it’s Polaris whose jaw is broken. There’s longwinded monologues from the villains, mostly Stryfe but also from the rest. Archangel makes a deadly mistake by not offing Apocalypse when he had the chance. Lots of unnecessary exposition. The whole thing winds around the Summers clan which some reader hate and other like. And people who apparently die, don’t stay dead. But the X-Men were mostly in character and I had a blast rereading it.

The event kicks off when Professor Xavier is at Lila’s concert talking about peace between humans and mutants. Some of the people in the crowd are listening but some talk back. Then, Cable appears and shoots Xavier! At the same time, Jean and Scott are kidnapped from a diner by Caliban and some other Storm Riders.
Xavier is quickly taken to the Mansion where the Beast and Doctor MacTaggert start to work on him. The professor has been shot with a techno-organic virus which is taking over his body but is still alive. The X-Men and X-Factor band together. Some of them go after X-Force who are the former New Mutants whom Cable took under his wing. Nobody knows where Cable is but the X-Men think that the X-Force will know. Unfortunately, they don’t but the X-Men take the kids as prisoners anyway. The rest of the X-Men go after the Horsemen and Apocalypse.

The Summers clan is at the center of the whole event, especially Jean and Scott. The writers don’t explicitly say it but Cable is the son of Scott and Madelyne (Jean’s clone) and apparently Stryfe is the clone of Cable. So, Stryfe has now decided to avenge his crappy childhood on his parents (Scott and Jean), brother Cable, and Apocalypse, the man who raised him. Jean isn’t his mother but he treats her as one. Of course, Madelyne is dead at this point so it’s not possible to get satisfaction out of her. Still, Jean could have protested as some point at being made to pay for things her clone had done. Mr. Sinister is also involved.

Still, the story sticks together surprising well and the art isn’t too different from one comic to the next. The only exception is Jae Lee’s art which I ended up enjoyed quite a lot. It’s more stylized and darker than the other artists’ work. However, I think following the story requires knowing the backstory; without knowing it the story can seem just a mess.

Writers: Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, Whilce Portacio, John Byrne, Fabian Nicieza

Artists: Whilce Portacio, John Romita Jr., Scott Williams, Andy Kubert, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Thibert, Tom Raney, Hillary Barta, Rurik Tyler, Josef Rubinstein, Al Milgrom,

Collects Uncanny X-Men #281–293, X-Men Vol. 2 #12–13, material from X-Men (1991) 10–11

This is clear example of 1990s X-Men: a large team, lots of plotlines, some of them “soap opera”. Bishop’s origins are intriguing and I always love time travel stuff. But his mystery is far from solved in this collection and I have vague memories that they weren’t really resolved at all. Also, it has a lot of stories which don’t have much to do with Bishop. The writing makes everything a melodrama and continues storylines which I think were started in X-Factor. But for me at least most of these were entertaining stories. Unfortunately, I don’t care for Portacio’s art. It also seems that the writers’ can’t handle happy couples: Jean and Scott were separated into different teams and Scott starts to dream about Betsy (!), and everyone else’s love life is a mess or a melodrama. I was also disappointed to see Morlocks killed off.

The collection starts with a bang: Hellfire Club’s Emma Frost asks for help from the X-Men. Apparently someone has been murdering the Club’s leaders and Emma could be next. Xavier sends the gold team to see what’s going on. Storm, Iceman, Colossus, Archangel, and Jean Grey go to the club and get into fracas with the Hellions. But that dies down quickly. Then Emma mind-tortures a young woman in armor who attacked her. However, a green haired man calling himself Fitzroy appears in some sort of power armor which is also able to withstand psionic attacks. He seems to lead the attacks on the Hellfire club.

Meanwhile a new group of self-repairing Sentinels attacks the Reavers in their Australian base (yes!). Their leader Pierce manages to escape through one of Gateway’s portals to the Hellfire club where both X-Men and the Hellions have to fight the Sentinels. In the end, though, it seems that both Emma Frost and Jean Grey are dead. The Sentinels leave, with the Hellions and Emma’s body. But Pierce is killed! (double yay!)

However, Jean was able to put her mind into Emma’s body which Xavier is able to sense. The gold team X-Men (+Xavier and Forge) track the Sentinels to their Artic base and attack. In the base, green-haired Fitzroy is in the process of sucking up life energy from his captives and using his powers to open up a huge time portal. Super powered people pour out from the portal and on their heels are Bishop and his two assistants, Randall and Marshall, who are some sort of mutant police intend on either killing or capturing Fitzroy and his goons. When Fitzroy reveals that he can’t send people back to the future, Bishop and his goons start killing the mutants.

When Bishop sees the X-Men, he’s at first filled with hero worship but when the X-Men stop him from killing, he turns against them, claiming that they are impostors. Bishop and some of the other mutants manage to escape. Meanwhile, Xavier puts Jean’s mind back to her body.

Then, the X-Men go to the Sahali Island where a void has opened up. The Japanese scientists try to control it by bringing in Sunfire. The scientists have built him an armor which will channel his powers more effectively than ever and they think that he can just blast the portal out of existence. Unfortunately, the portal absorbs the energy and strikes back with it. Also, strange creatures crawl out of the portal and attack everyone near it. However, soon the X-Men notice that the creatures are just people in armor. But too late: the portal sucks in everyone near it including Storm, Jean, Iceman, Archangel, Colossus, and Sunfire.

The team ends up on different parts of the world on the other side of the portal and meet different people. It seems that the portal leads to another planet where one group of people have seized power and others fight against them. Peter and Jean end up with the rebels and the leader of the dominant group, Avatar, brainwashes Warren to kill on her behalf. However, the strangest thing of all is that Peter finds his big brother in this world and he’s a mutant. Mihkail Rasputin is a former cosmonaut thought to be dead. Peter idolized him and is heartbroken to find out that Mihkail doesn’t live up to his legend.

Meanwhile, back on Earth Bishop and his two flunkies continue to kill mutants who have come from another time and the local people, including the police, think that what they’re dealing with is mutant powered gang violence and blame it on the X-Men.

Finally in issue 287, we find out Bishop’s story. He comes from a future where XSE is a mutant police force and the X-Men are revered. LeBeu is the last known X-Man and he seems to be in some sort of prison/guest house and access to him is very limited. During his last mission on his own time period, Bishop stumbles on a tape where Jean says that she’s the last X-Man standing and that the X-Men were betrayed by their own.

The X-Men capture Bishop and after a private talk with Xavier, he joins them. Some of X-Men aren’t happy about it. Xavier gives Storm the task of trying to acclimatize Bishop to current times.

X-Men issue 12 and 13 dig into Xavier’s past: it seems that his father worked alongside Ryking who confined his own son to an intuition once he found out that the boy was a mutant. The boy is now man and has come for his revenge on Xavier. Gold team tries to defend their teacher.

The rest of the collection is devoted to gold team’s adventures and troubles in their personal lives. Bobby introduces his Asian girlfriend to his parents and his father disapproves of her. The meeting turns into a fight with ninja cyborgs. Forge asks Storm to marry him but before she can give him an answer, he accuses her of being so emotionally stunted that she can’t have a life outside the X-Men and leaves the group with Mystique.

The last issues pit the X-Men against Morlocks. Now Mask leads the Morlocks. They attacked Callisto (who has a very shapely body now and lives among the humans) and when the X-Men attempt to investigate, they attack the X-Men (Storm, Jean, Archangel, Bishop, Iceman, Colossus, and Xavier). Also Mikhail Rasputin allies himself with the Morlocks and against the X-Men (and all of humanity). At the same time, Callisto and Archangel have to confront their past with the Morlocks.

Collects X-Men Forever vol.2 issues 11-16. The third and final volume of X-Men Forever vol. 2.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Rodney Buschemi, Greg Adams, Robert Atkins, Rick Ketcham, Sandu Florea, Andy Smith, Cory Hamscher, Ramon Rosanas

We finally get to know what’s up with the two Storms. First, the X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Gambit, Rogue, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Havok, Polar, Sabertooth, and Shadowcat) fight Storm’s forces in Genosha. She’s trying to annex the island but the X-Men prevent that. Then the X-Men go to Wakanda and confront the adult Storm, who is now the Queen of Wakanda. However, Storm has invited the Avengers (Captain America, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Quicksilver, Hawkeye, and Spider-Woman) to assist her. Dr. Strange guest stars and another old X-Man dies.

In the final issue, the X-Men mourn their dead and look hopefully in the future because now they have allies and don’t have to fight the Consortium alone.

I was happy that the mystery around Li’ Ro and the adult Storm was explained but the other plotlines were left dangling.

This wasn’t a bad series but I thought the second volume was better than the first. It had some very interesting plots, like Kurt and Rogue switching powers but also some less successful stuff. Adding Mystique to the team was fun, too. It’s not the best X-Men story ever but it was mostly entertaining. However, I can’t really recommend the series to anyone but the most hardcore X-Men fans and those of us who aren’t too thrilled with the current continuity (surely I can’t be the only one?), and of course those who like alternate worlds a lot (like me). The whole series is available through Marvel Unlimited.

Collects X-Men Forever vol.2 issues 6-10

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Mike Grell, Greg Adams, Tom Grummett, Ron Lim, Cory Hamscher, Nelson, Hennessy

The Marauders are back! Mr. Sinister is supposedly dead but isn’t. And he’s a different person in this world. He sends the cloned Marauders to get Scott’s son Nathan from the Summers’ Cove in Canada. Fortunately, the Starjammers, Havok, and Polaris are there to protect him. Wounded Corsair manages to teleport to the mansion and brings the X-Men to the fight, too.

One-handed, blind Sabertooth fights against his clone. But Mr. Sinister has another dirty trick up his sleeve: he’s also cloned Wolverine. Kitty faces him and during the battle the clone wounds her grievously. But she seems to have more and more of old Logan in her: besides being more bloodthirsty than ever and having one adamantium claw, Kitty now has a healing factor, sharper sense of smell, and manifests long claws in her left hand.

After the fight, Kitty, li’ Ro, Jean, and Gambit stay with Corsair while the rest return to the mansion. Jean is worried about Kitty who behaves more and more like Logan. She has nightmares about the clone and thinks in Japanese. She realizes that the clone Wolverine isn’t dead and that he’s gone to Japan, so Kitty follows him there. Ro and Lockheed have hidden in the shuttle which Kitty uses and so they come accidentally along.

The final issue in the collection is set in Japan. Clan Yashida and the assassin guild the Hand are now allies, as Kitty sees when skulking around the Yashida mansion. Then Wolverine attacks and chases Kitty, li’ Ro, and Lockheed around Japan. In the end, he’s defeated for now but Mariko Yashida, Wolverine’s former love, captures li’ Ro to use her as leverage. Mariko is now part of Consortium because Logan’s betrayal wounded her so deeply that she now wants to destroy all mutants. The Consortium wants to ally themselves with Ororo who is now the Queen of Wakanda, after T’Challa’s death. However, Ororo isn’t keen on working with people who have betrayed her. So, Mariko offers her little ‘Ro.

The collection ends in a cliffhanger.

Mr. Sinister is my least favorite X-Men enemy so I wasn’t happy to see him back. But I like the Marauders, the cloned Wolverine and Mariko so I ended up really liking this collection. Another subplot has Ghost Panther who is a new character in Genosha. This all leads to the next, and final, collection, where Ororo’s mystery is finally solved.

Collects X-Men Forever vol.2 issues 1-5

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Rodney Buchemi, Greg Adams, Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher

The new volume starts with a bang! Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Spider-Woman, and Hawkeye) have been tasked with arresting the X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and li’ ‘Ro) and Sabertooth who is blind and has just one hand. Not surprisingly, the X-Men resist. During the fight, Xavier’s mansion explodes and supposedly kills the X-Men and Fury along with a small number of SHIELD agents inside the mansion.

The next issue starts six week later. The world apparently mourns the heroes and the US government sends sentinels to sift through the rubble in order to find out what happened. Avengers are seen as the villains this time and Sigrid Trask is appointed the new leader of SHIELD. Spider-Man also investigates in his own way.

In the third issue we find out that the X-Men are alive: they’re inside the mansion which has been cloaked with very advanced tech. However, Rogue has left the mansion and gone to the city to kick some muggers’ asses. Spidey finds her and they clobber some villains together. However, the night ends in surprise when Mystique wants to join.

In the next issue, Morlocks have kidnapped Sabertooth and Dr. MacTaggert. They know about Burnout and want Moira to whip up a cure for them. They torture Sabertooth in order to motive Moira. The X-Men send a team to the tunnels: Shadowcat, Cyclops, Gambit, and SHIELD agent Daisy Dugan. Li’ ‘Ro is following them, too, even though she was told to stay behind. Meanwhile, back in the mansion, everyone except Kurt is suspicious about Mystique and Fury wants to interrogate her fully. However, her twisty mind is too much for even Jean to figure out. The X-Men will have to find out the old-fashioned way if she can be trusted.

Unfortunately, I felt that the Avengers acted out of character: going against friends because they’ve been ordered to and Cap attacking first? That doesn’t really feel like the Avengers I know. Otherwise, this was quite an enjoyable collection and I felt that Claremont got his groove back.

The X-Men as a group have died before and they’ve done that pretty recently, according to the time line so it’s a classic Claremont plot twist. The first time was in Dallas when Storm had just regained her powers and the second time the group went through the Siege Perilous while Ororo was thought to be dead. Interestingly enough out of this group only Rogue has “died” both times before and Ororo once, in Dallas. (Gambit wasn’t yet part of the group, Jean and Scott were in X-Factor, and Kurt and Kitty in Britain.)

I also really liked the return of Morloks. They’re another classic mutant group which is sometimes antagonists and sometimes reluctant allies, depending on who is leading them. Masque is their leader this time so they’re enemies.

Claremont has also several subplots in the air: Mr. Sinister is after Nathan, Daisy is falling for Sabertooth, Rogue’s and Kurt’s power shift, Storm’s situation and the SHIELD situation. Feels like old times again! :)

Collects X-Men Forever issues 21-24 and X-Men Forever Giant-Size

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Rodney Buchemi, Greg Adams, Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher, Daniel Hdr, Fernando Blanco

The X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Gambit, Rogue, and Shadowcat) and Nick Fury are attacking the Consortium’s space station. Nightcrawler, who has only Rogue’s absorbing power, is piloting. Fury has a mole inside who will give the mutants permission to land and they get close. Unfortunately, Consortium has made an alliance with Neo-Sentinels who notice that the space craft has mutants on board and so the X-Men are ambushed. They fight bravely but their victory costs the lives to two friends. The final issue has is a funeral but it also looks forward (to volume 2 ;)) to the stressful days ahead. SHIELD might still have Consortium agents infiltrated among them and the X-Men don’t have many friends. Still Nick Fury and the blind Sabertooth will stand by them.

Giant-Size brings back the Shi’Ar! Empress Lilandra is Xavier’s love but they’re often separated by their different duties. Now, Skrull warships have attacked Shi’Ar’s remote but well-guarded planets and Xavier’s error has made that possible. The Imperial Guard comes to earth to take Xavier so that he can answer for his “crime”. They land at Summers’ cottage and clash with X-Men and X-Factor. As an added complication, the Shi’Ar don’t know that Jean is alive and if they found out, they would try to execute her again, as Dark Phoenix. So Jean has to stay hidden. Another longtime character leaves, supposedly for good.

In the epilogue we see that the Consortium is still kicking. They’ve framed the X-Men as the people responsible for their space station’s destruction and for the death of the two heroes. The Avengers are going after X-Men.

This was an action-packed end to volume 1 and promising lead into volume 2.
I recommend these for fans of alternate universes and for hardcore X-Men fans.

Collects X-Men Forever issues 16-20

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Graham Nolan, Vincente Cifuentes, Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher, Scott Koblish

The first two issues follow Nightcrawler and Rogue in New Orleans. They were lured there by none other than Mystique herself. She admits that she’s Kurt’s mother and says that she’s worried about her kids. In the ensuing fight, Rogue is knocked unconscious and Kurt tries mouth-to-mouth. He succeeds but Rogue absorbs Kurt’s powers and appearance while Kurt looks like an ordinary, white skinned man. Mystique disappears and the two are left wondering what’s going on.

The next issue focuses on Scott who has taken a leave of absence and gone to Alaska to his family. Even though Scott’s romantic life is in ruins, his family is well otherwise: his father Corsair is staying with his parents and raising Scott’s son Nathan. That’s right: in this timeline Nathan never becomes infected with technovirus or becomes Cable. Also, Havok and Polaris stop by and it seems that they’re happily back together. The Consortium, the bad guys, try to kidnap Nathan. Of course they don’t succeed and Scott returns to the X-Men.

Through both these stories and the previous collection we’ve followed a sub plot about infiltrators in SHIELD and the next issues focus on that. Fury, SHIELD agent Daisy Dugan, Gambit, and Sabretooth have arrested agents who were apparently working for the Consortium. In these two issues, they take the Consortium head on, attack sneakily to their local headquarters, and free their prisoner. However, in the end we have more questions than answers.

There are two other subplots which don’t yet surface more: Xavier, Hank, and Moira are working furiously and Jean is wrestling with her sorry romantic life and falling for Hank. I really don’t care for that Jean plot because she apparently doesn’t have anything else to do.

I really liked the way that Rogue and Kurt’s powers switched. It turns out that this might be permanent. Kurt has to try to live in a normal body where his appearance doesn’t scare anyone and Rogue has to deal with a tail, three fingers and toes in each hand/foot, and people being scared of her. The collection ends in a cliffhanger which leads to the next collection’s showdown.

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