X-Men


Collects All-New X-Men issues 1-10.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, David Marquez

Jean Grey is dead, Scott Summers is an insane mutant terrorist, Hank McCoy is dying, poor Warren has died and been resurrected as… well, you’re guess is as good as mine. Things aren’t going so well today for the first five X-Men. The mutants at the Jean Grey school are trying to live Professor Xavier’s dream of peaceful co-existence with humans while new mutants come into existence startlingly all over the US. At the same time Cyclops and his small band of Emma Frost, Magneto, and Magik want mutants to be proud of their heritage and to life free… as mutants and not in hiding. People call Scott a terrorist for that. And because he killed Professor Xavier (at the end of X-Men vs. Avengers). Scott’s group is recruiting the new mutants.

So, Hank doesn’t tell anyone that he’s dying. Instead, he decides that the teenage X-Men need to come forward in time and talk sense to Scott. So, he does just that.

Now, the five original X-Men are in the present day and they’re aren’t happy. Jean especially is having a hard time because she doesn’t yet fully control her abilities and because her history is… traumatizing to say the least.

However, the original X-Men decide to stay, even though most of the modern-day X-Men urge them to return, with their memories wiped out. Mayhem ensues, especially when the two Cyclopses meet.
Bendis is a hit or miss guy for me and this one is, mostly, a hit. I enjoyed the idea and the drama that followed when the originals decided to stay. However, time travel is almost always problematic. And so it’s here. I can’t help to think that it’s absolutely ridiculous that the originals staying (or even getting a glimpse of the future) didn’t affect the present-day X-Men. The only explanation (by Marvel time-travel rules) is that these original X-Men are from another timeline and not, in fact, from the past. (Otherwise, the current day X-Men would remember this present which would alter their choices in… pretty much everything that’s happened since then. (Hey Marvel! How about rewriting everything X-Men have done until now and them knowing what will happen!!) Or when the original X-Men decided to stay, they would not have lived the intervening years and so the current day five X-Men would cease to exist and so everything they’ve done before they went to the future. (Hey Marvel! How about rewriting all of Marvel history except without the original X-Men!!) Ah, time travel! Gotta love it/hate it!)

I also didn’t really care for the newly revealed Hank’s feelings for Jean. Because Jean’s already romantically linked with both Scott and Warren. And now with Hank, too… (insert eyerolling here).

On the other hand, I loved how Bendis handled Kitty. She’s one my favorite characters and it’s been great to see her mature from the scrawny little teenagers to this self-assured professor leading the young X-Men.

Overall, this was a very good read as long as you don’t really think about the implications of some things.

Artwork is very good. I’ve always enjoyed Immonen’s smooth art and he’s in top form here. Originally, I read these comics in Marvel Unlimited and there it’s actually hard to see big double page images. But in the printed format they’re very nice. Marquez’s art is nice, too, and not too different from Immonen’s.

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Collects the Secret Wars tie-in miniseries issues 1-4 and Uncanny X-Men 270.

Writer: Marc Guggenheim, Chris Claremont
Artist: Carmine di Giandomenico, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Art Thibert

Years after the X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants defeated Cameron Hodge at Genosha, some former X-Men are still in Genosha. But they aren’t trying to rebuild anymore. Now, they’re trying to keep the desperate population alive. A mutant plague is threatening every mutant on the planet. It started at Genosha and so Baron Rachel Grey, host of the Phoenix Force, is keeping Genosha under complete quarantine.

Havok, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Karma, Mystique, Chief Magistrate Anderson, and a group of new characters try to appeal to Emperor Doom for help and when that fails, they try to appeal to Baron Grey. Havok and the others have come up with a plan: Rogue and Triage, a mutant with a healing ability, should be able to cure the plague. But Rachel thinks the risk of the plague escaping to the general mutant population is too high and she refuses to help, except by sending more food and medicines. So, Havok and his team decide to break the quarantine and kidnap Rogue and Triage. X-Men battle X-Men! Meanwhile, Genengineer (you know, the bad guy who invented the ways to enslave mutants and make both mutants and potential mutants into mutates. And you know, the X-Men are actually trusting this guy to run the science labs without even a hint of supervision???!!!) actually has quite another plan.

The plot depends on characters making terrible choices. Beast is at his worst, advising Rachel Phoenix to not help the others based on calculations. Even ghost-Cyclops warns Havok not to do this. I’m also not so sure that the small team should have been able to fight successfully against a large team of X-Men plus Phoenix and win. Of course, after the kidnapping, a group of X-Men pursue them to Genosha and another fight happens.

A shame, because I actually found the background stuff far more interesting than the actual plot. Like, Beast has done his time-travel thing again and rescued a few X-Men from death, by bringing them to the present before their death. But despite Rachel being the Baron and her parents (apparently) dead, Beast has brought back Wolverine, Thunderbird, and Banshee. Also, Rogue’s powers seem to work differently: the person whose powers she absorbs, stays conscious so both Rogue and her “victim” can use their powers. The new character, Wicked, has the power to call ghosts which seemed pretty interesting. The X-Men in Genosha also seem to be far less intelligent than usual, since they’re trusting Genengineer.

Apparently, the print collection also has the first issue of the original X-Tinction Agenda which ends in a cliffhanger.

Part of the Secret Wars event. In this alternate X-Men universe, the X-Men lost the Inferno event.

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Garrón

The story begins four years after the X-Men lost Inferno. Demon-infected Manhattan has been separated from the rest of the US with walls, force fields, and magical wards, and the X-Men guard the walls. Illyana has been imprisoned in the Empire State Building. Colossus wants to rescue her and has made a deal with Scott Summers (who is, by the way, this domain’s baron!): one day a year Colossus and a team of X-Men try to free Illyana and the rest of the time Colossus is part of the regular X-Men team. But this time things go really wrong: Scott and Colossus are crippled and Illyana is revealed to be the Darkchild, ruler of Limbo and demon-Manhattan. And she chooses to stay with the Inferno demons.

The next year, when Colossus wants to lead a team to again attempt the rescue, Scott makes it clear this will be the last attempt. So, Colossus, his lover Domino, Nightcrawler, and Boom-Boom head out to rescue Illyana. Unfortunately, their team isn’t a match for the forces which have been building in Manhattan. Colossus and Domino end up in the hands of the Goblin queen Madelyne Pryor and her consort Alex Summers while Illyana herself captures Nightcrawler and someone else captures almost fatally injured Boom Boom. However, Madelyne has an interesting offer to Colossus: if he fights by her side, he can rescue his sister and Madelyne will rule Inferno.

Inferno is actually not one of my favorite storylines because it was quite disjointed, jumping to different X-comics. (And of course Madelyne was right to hate Scott for abandoning her and their infant son and to hate Jean for, essentially, condoning it. However, Madelyne had no right to hurt innocent bystanders!) But this is exactly the kind of spin off I really like: alternate version of characters who are still heroes but different, different romances, difficult choices to make, and Scott in a wheelchair calling “To me my X-Men”! Not to mention what Illyana did to poor Kurt… I wouldn’t want this story to become the status quo for X-Men but it’s interestingly different from the usual status quo. Yeah, I really liked it.

Limited series during the 2015 Marvel event Secret Wars. Not required reading for the main story line.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Gerardo Sandoval

Douglas Ramsay is a mutant who can understand any language, including secrets hidden by body language. This makes him very valuable to many people. He lives is a Battleworld ruled by Baron Apocalypse and his viceroy Mister Sinister. Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen and Beast have also a lot of influence and power. Beast and Doctor Nemesis make horrific experiments in their lab.

Humans have been driven into a ghetto which is overseen by Sheriff Carol Danvers. Most mutants live apparently well but a few have chosen to oppose Apocalypse’s rule: Magneto and his X-Men who were named after Magneto’s dead friend Charles Xavier. But in an effort to save Douglas from a Horseman Holocaust the X-Men Storm, Dazzler, Colossus, Iceman, and Exodus are killed. Douglas and badly wounded Nightcrawler are captured, and now the surviving X-Men have to save them. But Wolverine, Magneto, Emma Frost, Rogue, and Blink are determined to do it.

This is an action-packed return to the Age of Apocalypse cross-over event in the 1990s but not a continuation. Several things are different from the original story, most notably characters who weren’t part of the original. Still, it was great (and chilling) to see again the cruel and cold Prelate Summers Brothers and the Dark Beast. As a linguist, I really liked the way Douglas finally got to be not only useful but the best hope the world has. While he was alive in the New Mutants, he was always underappreciated.

This is a treat to us who enjoyed the original story but I’m not so sure if other people will get much out of it. Some of the motivations to the characters are strange, to say the least, and the art style doesn’t appeal to me any more.

It was interesting to read this and Years of Future Past back-to-back. In this comic, the mutants are supposed to be at the top of the heap; the humans are in ghettos. But none of them seem happy: the bad guys are cruel (or world-weary and disgusted with the world) and the X-Men are desperate and miserable. The mutants is YoFP live in concentration camps near cemeteries full of their former friends but at least they have dependable team mates and a lucky few have loving families. Of course, the chance of drama increases with unhappy characters and both of this alternate worlds are… extreme to say the least. In contrast the X-Men in the X-Men 92 comic seemed much better off.

Collects Years of Future Past 1-5. Part of the Secret Wars event.

Writer: Marquerite Bennett
Artists: Mike Norton

This is a rehash of the classic two-issue Claremont/Byrne alternate future story “Days of Future Past” where Senator Kelly’s murder by Mystique has led to a future where all mutants, and other superpowered being such as the Fantastic Four, are either dead, hunted mercilessly, or living in concentration camps and wearing devices which suppress their powers. Rachel Summers sends Kate Pryde’s consciousness to the present so that she and the present time X-Men can stop Mystique. One of my favorite stories and so deep especially considering the limited page count. (I reread it after finishing this one.)

When Doom remade the world during Secret Wars, this future was one of the fragments he remade. The Baron of the world is President Kelly who has put almost all mutants in concentration camps. Some, such as Wolverine and his son Cameron, are still at large. However, the biggest problem they face is that all mutants have been sterilized. Christina Pryde is the last mutant child born 15 years ago. Her parents, Kate Pryde and Colossus, along with other mutants such as Magento and Rachel Summers live in the camps and have raised her there. Even though the place must have been terrible, they showed her love and gave her as good an education as they could. Because they plan to bust out and then Christina will be mutants’ last hope. Well, busting out doesn’t go exactly to plan and Christina must make terrible choices.

At first reading, this is a fun ride in dystopic ruins. However, I found it a bit hard to swallow that Kate and the others were training Christina to become a hero while at the same time, they were apparently working with the government. Of course, having a child can change your life and in an environment like this, parents might have to make choices they otherwise wouldn’t do. But still isn’t that the height of hypocrisy? We also get a monolog from Colossus about how oppression starts with a joke right out of the blue which interrupts the flow of the story. Also, the end fight was strange. One character had decided that if mutants go away, humans will rise to a golden age without violence. Uh, I guess that person has never met humans, eh?

Christina was a good character and I’m kind of sorry I’m never going to see her again. Most of the characters are (at least superficially) very much like the X-Men in the original DoFP story: Wolverine an outsider, the rest in the camp. However, there’s were some differences and twists as well, which I liked a lot.

Overall, this was a good nostalgic read but with some flaws and an open ending which I personally don’t care for. The original story is a very tough act to follow.

Collects Nightcrawler issues 7-12.


Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Todd Nauck

First up, is the aftermath to Wolverine’s death. Logan and Kurt have been friends for a long time and Kurt mourns for him.

Then the Crimson Pirates return. Bloody Bess contacts Kurt telepathically, asking for help, and Kurt teleports to her. The Pirates have unleashed an old X-Man enemy who has taken over them, except Bess. She’s had a change of heart and now is attracted to Kurt. It’s Bess and Kurt against the Pirates! Then the X-Men (Beast, Storm, Colossus, Rachel Grey, Iceman, Psylocke) follow and it’s the telepathically enslaved X-Men against Kurt! I rather enjoyed this story, except for the rather abrupt ending and Bess’ strange and inexplicable change of heart.

In the aftermath, the Pirates kidnap Kurt’s new sidekicks, Rico and Ziggy. In the last two issues, Kurt and Bloody Bess follow the students to another dimension and take the fight to the Pirate’s boss, Tullamore Voge. Kurt also has to decide if he will just rescue the two youngsters or attempt a far more difficult operation and free all the children taken to the slavers’ block.

This is classic Claremont and aimed at people who enjoyed the X-Men during his long run on the series. The X-Men are (again) significant secondary characters and by the end of the series, Kurt has three new sidekicks. I really enjoyed these stories; high adventure, despicable villains and noble heroes.

Collects Nightcrawler issues 1-6.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Jamie McKelvie, Todd Nauck

Nightcrawler is back from the dead and he’s (mostly) happy about it. In these stories he returns to his roots, to Amanda Sefton, who was his adopted sister and later girlfriend, and their mother Margali of the Winding ways. Both Amanda and Margali are witches. Margali is a very quirky character; you can never really know what she’s up to and on whose side she’s on. However, Kurt is disposed to think the best of her because she’s, well, the woman who raised him. However, she’s rarely used by other writers.

Kurt and Amanda’s reunion is cut short by an armored intruder who tries to kidnap Amanda and wrecks her apartment. The trail takes them to Germany and to the same circus where they both grew up. After a brief misunderstanding, Kurt brings Margali and Amanda to the Jean Grey school where the true endgame begins.

We get some introspective scenes about Kurt’s childhood together with Amanda, his return to life, and his earlier years with the X-Men and Excalibur, but the first four issues are mostly fast-paced fun. Amanda also several times says that she doesn’t require rescuing, given her own magical powers, but sadly, the storyline makes her a liar and I didn’t care for the ending.

I enjoyed these stories but I don’t know how accessible they are to people who haven’t read Claremont’s long run on the X-Men. Nostalgia is very much part of these issues. I think that Amanda is a very much underused character and her mother even more so. However, after this story, Margali’s allegiances are pretty clear. The X-Men are, of course, significant secondary characters as are the students at the school. Kurt is trying to find his own place at the school as a teacher. The truly new features are Kurt’s bamfs, diminutive blue Kurts whom he can direct. They increase his maximum teleport range significantly. I’m not entirely sure I like them but they’re handy in a fight and provide comic relief, too. The fifth and sixth issues introduce two new sidekicks to Kurt: Rico who is a student who looks like a scorpion, and Ziggy Kart, a new recruit who is a teenaged genius.

In the final issue, the Crimson Pirates return, aiming to kidnap Ziggy for their slaver boss.

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