X-Men


This book brings together some of my favorite franchises: Star Trek TNG and the X-Men.

Publication year: 1998
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books
Page count: 265

Based on the premise, this sounded either terrible or wonderful. A bit surprisingly, it was just okay. Apparently, the heroes have met before but in a comic book I haven’t been able to find.

An admiral on Starbase 88 contacts captain Picard because all of a sudden seven X-Men have appeared on the Starbase. The mutants tell the admiral that Picard knows them. Apparently, they have met before because of the machinations of Kang, the time (and now universe) traveling conqueror. Enterprise-E is taking Commander Worf to a conference with the Klingons. But now the conference will have to wait until Picard picks up the X-Men.

At the same time, on planet Xhaldia, which isn’t a member of the Federation but on friendly terms, young people all over the planet have changed in strange ways and have strange, very powerful powers. The government is scared of these youths and confine them to a prison, for the safety of the other people. One of the changed people is a brother to a man who serves on the Enterprise. Not surprisingly, the youths feel that they’re treated unjustly and plan a break out.

The X-Men in this book are Storm, Shadowcat, Wolverine, Banshee, Arcangel, Colossus, and Nightcrawler. I was really looking forward to their interactions with the various TNG crew, such as Geordi and Kurt or Kitty and Data. Also, Federation pretty much is what the X-Men have been fighting for their whole lives so it would have been interesting to see their reactions.

Unfortunately, quite a large part of the book is devoted to unknown characters on Xhaldia. I understand that Friedman had to establish the conflict which the Enterprise-E crew and the X-Men are solving together but the book is quite short and so there wasn’t more than a couple of all too brief interactions between the crews. Most notably, Picard and Storm hit it off very well and so did Worf and Wolverine, while Warren rubbed pretty much everyone the wrong way. He loathes being confined to small corridors of the ship. Guinan and Wolverine also talk a little which was fun.

Of course, the whole plot of mutants appearing on a Star Trek planet at the same time as the X-Men visit, is very contrived. It was fun to read about the X-Men and the TNG crew fighting side by side, though.

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Collects X-Men Red issue 6-11.

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Mahmud Asrar

This comic was discontinued far too soon. It was building up steam and high concepts but then it just ended.

Cassandra Nova is targeting the original Jean and her team. They’re in Atlantis so Nova sends a teenaged Hulk to attack it. At the same time, Jean has sent Gambit, Nightcrawler, Trinary, the new Wolverine and her sister to retrieve a phone from the murdered UK ambassador’s things. Since phones record everything around it, it has the brief conversation between Jean and Nova which could prove that Jean didn’t murder the ambassador. Meanwhile, the people of Atlantis are building Searebro to enhance the abilities of both Jean and Trinary. It seems to be a kind of new Cerebro except that other people can use it, rather than just telepaths.

Most of the fighting in the collection is two-fold: Jean versus Nova on the psychic plane and Trinary versus tiny sentinel nanites. Nova is keeping Forge under her mental command and has forced him to invent nanites which Nova implants into humans. These so-called sentinites detect mutants and make the carrier attack them. We also get a brief Jean versus Rachel fight. (Poor Rachel; despite her powers, she’s constantly mentally controlled.)

The team is just starting to form and work together when the comic ended. While most of the plot lines are tied together, it felt a bit rushed. But overall I really enjoyed the two volumes and even the new characters.

I rather liked the hopeful ending. I also think this could be fitting end for Nova, but I doubt it will stick for long. Presumably, the team also rescued Forge, although we didn’t see it.

Collects issues 1-5 and annual 1.

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Mahmud Asrar, Pascal Alixe

The original Jean Grey is back! (In Phoenix Resurrection which I have mixed feelings about.) And she’s not happy about the state of the world and especially about the relations between mutants and humans. So, she’s determined to change things for the better. But to do that, she needs a team of both old friends and she also recruits some new ones. And she wants to rescue as many mutant children from bigots as she can. I really liked that premise. It seems that mutants are even more hated and feared than almost ever before, even mutant children are attacked and some humans want to confine mutants to their own ghettos. It all has a very strong parallel to our own world, unfortunately.

The collection starts with the Annual where Jean is reacquainted with her old friends but also with bigotry when the X-Men are hanging out at the school which has been relocated to Central Park. Some of the humans don’t want to see mutants. Jean teaches one of them a lesson, but it’s not enough to her. She also confronts Black Lightning, the man who killed Scott.

The actual comic starts with a mix of old characters and new. Kurt, Namor, and eventually Storm and Gambit are the old characters. Jean talks with people, she even addresses the UN. Her plan is to make mutants a nation, so that when (other) nations discuss how to “deal with the mutant problem”, the mutants will have a say as well. However, when Jean’s framed for killing the UK ambassador to UN right in front of cameras at the steps of UN building, she and her team are on the run. They go to Wakanda and later to Atlantis.

This was, in a way, a return to X-Men’s roots: humans outright hating mutants, Jean and her team hunted for a misunderstanding, powerful enemies at every turn. It’s also more tied to modern day problems than space adventures. The master villain is Cassandra Nova. I was a bit disappointed that Rachel (Grey) was again going to be someone’s puppet. In this case, Nova’s.

The idea of mutant nation isn’t new, either. Jean mentions Genosha and Utopia which both ended badly. She’s also not an elected leader and some mutants are criminals, so I’m not sure which way Taylor is going to take the story (since the comic ended with vol 2, not very far).

Jean is one of my favorite characters, so I’m happy that she’s back. Kurt is another of my favorite X-Men, so it was great to see them working together. X-23 (or Wolverine) and her sister Honey Badger were also good additions and so is the Indian mutant Trinary. She has technology powers. The later additions of two of my other favorite X-Men Storm and Gambit were also great. I already have the second volume.

Collects X-MEN: GOLD 1-6, X-MEN PRIME 1.

Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artists: Ardian Syaf, Jay Leisten, Craig Yeung, R. B. Silva, Adriano di Benedetto

After the events of Inhumans vs. X-Men, the X-Men are back and in a big way. Their mansion was previous put into Limbo so that the students would be safe from humans and the Terrigen Mists. Now, the mansion is back, in Central Park. Kitty Pryde is the headmistress and she’s also the leader of the Gold team which has Old Man Logan, Prestige (Rachel Gray), Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Storm. Armor and Rockslide are the students whom Kitty lets join the team on occasion.

Lydia Nance is the director of the Heritage Initiative and she’s warning the States that mutants are a huge threat. She wants to protect the world from the threat that mutants are. She’s coaxing ordinary people into hating mutants just for existing. At the same time, Kitty’s team fights Terrax and the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. When the villains leave behind damaged property and lives, the X-Men are blamed.

The next story arch starts in issue 4 with Gambit. He has stolen a small glass globe for Olivia Trask, of course, just so that he knows what Trask is after. The globe contains nanites. Gambit tries to blow up Trask’s work and instead he manages to cut loose the nanites which bond with a next generation a sentinel. Which start to rampage through New York, killing not just mutants but everyone who has any kind of mutation, like color blindness. New York’s heroes unite against it while Rachel is searching deep inside her for strength to overpower it mentally.

In a subplot, someone is killing mutants with military grade ammo. Logan and Storm investigate.

I liked this volume which I’m pretty surprised to say. I’m an old X-Men fan. I’ve read Claremont’s long run with Storm evolving into the team leader. I remember Kitty as Sprite, then Ariel, and later Shadowcat and now without a codename. I’ve read Claremont’s and Alan Davis’ hilarious Excalibur with Kitty, Kurt, and Rachel (along with Meggan and Brian). I love these characters (except Old Man Logan). And yet, all I can say is that it was pretty nice. Nice throwback to the previous adventures. Nice to see a grown up Kitty heading the team and the school. We even got a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, with Pyro and Avalanche who are supposedly dead (so they’re probably clones or “just two guys without an original idea between them” as Kitty puts it).

Still, a good beginning to a new series with familiar characters. It ends with a severely wounded Colossus and some subplots unresolved. At the back of the collection there are six pages of history for the characters which was fun.

Collects All-New X-Men issues 18-21 and X-Men Gold issue 1.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, Louise Simonson, Roy Thomas, Fabien Nicieza, Len Wein
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, Brandon Peterson and Mahmud Asrar, Rob McCloud, Bob Wiacek, Walt Simonson, Pat Oliffe, Jorge Molina, Salvador Larroca, Christ Sotomayor

After the events in the Battle for the Atom cross-over, the teenaged original X-Men and their professor Kitty Pryde decide to join Cyclops’ lunatic team. This also give the chance for Kitty and Illyana to reconnect. They used to be best friends and roommates back in the Xavier school. On the bad side of things (for me), all the teenaged X-Men and panting after Jean.

In the next issues, the team (teenaged X-Men, Kitty, and Illyana) battles the Purifies, religious fanatics who want to clean the Earth of mutants. They were founded by William Stryker. The team also encounters a girl the Purifiers are hunting. The girl is terrified, and Kitty pursues her. She turned out to be Laura Kinney, X-23.
Apparently, she was kidnapped, and terrible things were done to her. Now she wants revenge and the team follows her to the Purifiers’ base.

In the soap opera front, Scott and Laura have feelings for each other. Despite Jean saying that she doesn’t want anything to do with Scott, she’s jealous and spies on them. (Insert eyerolls here.) Oh, and Illyana gave the team their new uniforms. The Purifiers are a great way to show the team how different things are in the here and now than in the sixties. So, the team’s fish out of water experiences continue.

I didn’t enjoy this collection as much as the previous one but it’s still mostly on the fun side. I especially enjoyed the exchange between the bad guys when some of them were arguing that they can’t kill the time-traveled X-Men or the timeline will suffer… as they’ve seen in movies.

The final issue in the collection is a strange one. It’s X-Men Gold vol. 1 issue 1. Apparently, it came out in 2014 but in the X-Men internal chronology it’s set far further in the past, when Kitty Pryde was still very new to the superhero stuff and using the name Ariel, and Scott was still married to Jean’s clone Madelyne and Nathan had not yet been born. Also, Rogue has only just joined the team and the team is coming home to US from Japan where Wolverine was supposed to have been married… but didn’t. So, a huge blast from the past!

In the main story, the team battles a new kind of Sentinel and Kitty gets to show off her leadership skills for the first time. The issue has also four very short back-up stories. The first involves the original X-Men where… Jean apparently has no objection to dating any of the other original X-Men… In the second story, Banshee and Sunfire (whose only other appearance in the collection is in the next story) meet for the first time. In the third story, Wolverine meets the new X-Men for the first time and immediately thinks of how easy it would be to kill the others. The final story is the weirdest of them all. Xavier and Magneto are in some sort of dream world where they helped to build the world into a paradise… or have they?

While I enjoyed seeing the “classic” (for me) X-Men in battle once again, I doubt new readers would get much out of these stories. Also, they’re pretty forgettable so they seem to be pretty much filler.

Collects X-Men: Schism 1-5, Generation Hope 10-11, & X-Men: Regenesis.

Writers: Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen
Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Aland Davis, Adam Kubert, Cam Smith, Mark Farmer, Mark Roslan, Tim Seely, Billy Tan

Despite being such a fundamental event, Schism was skipped in the Finnish edition of the X-Men and now I understand that decision. It’s an ambitious comic with the theme of children in war. That’s a hugely important topic and is addressed through two main views: the mutant kids in Utopia (especially Idie) and the new Hellfire Club pre-teen kids. Their lives are pretty much the opposite of each other.

The four pre-teen kids have all grown up impossibly rich. Yet, they all turn out to be insane mass murderers, seemingly without other cause than boredom (and possibly getting out the shadows of their parents). None of them are abused in anyway. Yet, they casually murder their own parents and take over their business empires. And then take over the Hellfire Club by murdering the previous leaders. They’re also planning mutant genocide and intend to profit from it. That’s… chilling, twisted, and insane are too mellow words. Yet, they’re so clearly monsters that they’re pretty much caricatures. What’s the message here? Unearned wealth makes kids into murderers? I don’t know.

The mutant kids are far more relatable. Most of them are Hope Summers and her generation Hope kids. I’m actually not very familiar with them. They were shown briefly in Finland when the whole Generation Hope started but not much after that. But they’re all under 18 and Hope has recruited them to be soldiers. Some of them, and some of the adults, take exception to that. Idie is the central character. She’s 14 and has accepted that she’s a monster because she’s a mutant. Wolverine is horrified by that and is even more horrified when she ends up killing people. She does it in self-defense, of course, and rescues other people beside herself. But she still thinks of herself as a murderer.

I rather enjoyed the Generation Hope issues here which gave us insight to the kids’ point-of-view.

The other theme is heroes disagreeing but that’s an old hat by now. The main conflict is between Cyclops and Wolverine. They pretty much invert their original positions: Cyclops wants mutants to be proactive and protect themselves while Wolverine wants the mutants to live first and protect themselves when absolutely necessary. Cyclops the realist and Wolverine the idealist.

The problem for me is that Logan has never before been against teens in battle. Kitty Pryde? He trains her as a ninja when she’s 14. Jubilee? Again, he trained her when the rest of the X-Men had gone through Siege Perilous and were lost to him (yeppers, I still remember way back things. ;)). He also trained Rogue although she was 18 when she joined X-Men (IIRC). And X-23. He had no problem being in the same team with any of them. Now, suddenly, he’s got a problem with the newer kids. Hmph. So, while the idea might be good, the execution not so much. In fact, I think Ororo would have been far better choice as the idealist leaving Utopia. Or perhaps Kitty, thinking the other kids needed a childhood she didn’t get (although I don’t remember her ever lamenting it). Maybe Kurt? Or to shake things up real good, how about Emma who claims to loooove teaching. Or perhaps someone newer who still had the idealism left. Because part of the problem is that the old and experienced X-Men have seen so much and lost friends and family, that while many of them would like to live in a world where mutant children would not need to be soldiers, they’re far too pragmatic to behave like they already have that luxury. Because that’s why they’re fighting. To get to that world.

Also, the story clearly shows that the mutants are in deadly danger right frelling now and if they kids don’t fight, they’re dead. So, what’s with sudden idealistic Logan who wants to get the kids killed now, huh? But of course the real main issue between them comes out when Scott says: “She never loved you, you know. You always frightened her.”

That’s right. Mr. Hypocritical who abandoned Jean for Emma. (No, Marvel, I’m never going to forget that.) And by the way, Mr. Hypocritical who abandoned his wife Madelyne and their new-born son for Jean. (Ditto.) And of course on the other side Mr. Hypocritical who has already taught children to fight.

In the end, I think this was done because the mutants were too cozy with each other. Too many characters and too difficult to get them in danger when they have ready back-up. So, it was an outside driven thing rather than rising from the characters, so it felt forced to me (and yeah, I really shouldn’t expect any character driven things from comics). It could have been a far more interesting conflict if Marvel had chosen central characters whose personalities had actually fit the roles chosen for them. In that case, Logan choosing to, for example, support Storm would have been far more believable choice. But you know, who wants to read about girl mutants making their own choices when we can have the savage but noble Wolverine battle the increasingly unlikable Cyclops over a dead girl?

Okay, rant over. 🙂 I think I’ll be revisiting some older X-Men comics, except for the All-New X-Men which I’ll continue with.

Collects Uncanny Avengers 1-5. (Vol. 2)

Writers: Rick Remender, Gerry Duggan
Artist: Daniel Acuna

I’ve read more than my share of really strange comics but in the superhero world this one is pretty weird. Although, not in the 60s Superman/Batman weird, but modern weird.
I’ve read the previous volume of Uncanny Avengers (through Marvel Unlimited) and quite liked them. This one feels like it starts in the middle of a story but it’s not the Axis story where the previous volume of UA ended. And this volume ends in Secret Wars so perhaps the ending was quite rushed.

Wand and Pietro (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) have learned previously (from where and whom? I’ve no idea. If it was from a bad guy, why would they believe a single word?) that they’re not actually the children of Magneto or even mutants. They travel to Counter-Earth and to the High Evolutionary to get answers (why? Again, I’ve no idea). Counter-Earth is another Earth built by High Evolutionary directedly behind the sun from the Earth. There he’s been able to experiment to his cold little heart’s content, creating generations of New Men (from animals) and apparently destroying them when they prove to be imperfect by having emotions. Wanda and Pietro are caught but end up in the hands of Low Evolutionary, High Evolutionary’s son, and the leader of the rebels.

Meanwhile, Rogue leads a small group of Avengers after the twins. Captain America (Sam), the Vision, and Doctor Voodoo along with Sabretooth find out where the twins have gone, and Doctor Voodoo does a spell to transport them to C-E. But the spell is disrupted and the group is separated from each other. Rogue is captured by a sadistic scientist and Sam is captured by strange plant people. Meanwhile, the Vision ends up in the company of a female android Eve and they, well, have sex and make children. Doctor Voodoo is in the company of the millions of souls High Evolutionary had killed and they want revenge.

Apparently, Wanda and Pietro’s background was retconned (again) which isn’t too strange anymore, but the Vision having (artificial and really fast growing) children and then abandoning them to their mother felt really weird. And it was claimed that he fell in love with this new Eve android and yet was able to blithely abandon her. As was Sam turning briefly to a tree creature and then back to a human.

On the bright side, I liked the art and Pietro got some much-needed character development. Also, Sabretooth as a good guy is a very interesting idea and here he worked well. I also love the idea of Counter-Earth; that’s always fun to see.

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