X-Men


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.

Collects Amazing X-Men issues 13-19, Annual 1.

Writers: James Tynion IV, Chris Yost, Monty Nero
Artists: Jorge Jiménez, Carlo Barberi, Iban Coello, Walden Wong, Jorge Fornes, Kris Anka, Salvator Larroca

The first issue is a one-shot where one of the students at the Jean Grey school is missing. He’s gone on a date for the first time but chickened out. Then he runs into Lady Mastermind who uses his insecurities against him. Nightcrawler and Northstar investigate and perhaps get to know each other a little better.

Next up is an Axis crossover, where good guys are bad and bad guys are good. In this case, Nightcrawler has gone to Germany and he’s after the blood of the priest who taught fear and hate to his parish and therefore is partly responsible for the attitudes of the men who first tried to kill Kurt when he was a child. Mystique is going after Kurt, to stop him from murdering anyone. This was a nice flip.

Then the five-part Juggernaut story starts. The gem which gives the Juggernaut his (or her) power has returned to Earth. It calls for specific strong and violent people but also the former hosts can hear the call. One of them is Colossus who is now at the Jean Grey school. He sees a dream about the gem and tells about it to Storm. He expects to be part of the team which will go after the gem. Instead, he’s told that he can’t be trusted and he needs to stay put. Storm, Nightcrawler, Firestar, Marvel girl, Rockslide, and Iceman go after the gem… and find a large, angry demon guarding it. Some other people are coming for the gem, too, and they’re not nice. Several fights break out, of course. Colossus persuades Pixie to teleport him there, too, and the X-Men might need him against the demon, Man-Killer, Crossbones, and Jinn.

This story arch has surprisingly lot of humor, especially near the end. I still don’t care for the bickering much but I liked the way the X-Men didn’t just rush off into a fight. I particularly don’t like the way that they constantly put down Rockslide – feels like bullying to me and coming from people who are supposed to be very inclusive it’s very distasteful. However, it was great that Firestar got to shine, again. She might be new to the X-Men but she’s an Avenger and pretty experienced one, too. In this story, we get to know Colossus a bit better. The poor guy has gone through a lot of changes and he seems to be regretting some of them. Apparently, he’s sleeping with Domino, now. When did that happen?? Cain Marko also gets a little bit of character development and then it, apparently, goes away.

The annual is a one-shot exploring Ororo’s past. It turns out that she still has family: cousins and aunts. One of them has been kidnapped by a new supervillain who has murdered other people. Storm, Wolverine, Firestar, the Beast, and Nightcrawler fly to Africa to investigate. The story is about revenge and it’s pretty forgettable except that we get to see Storm in full fury which is always awesome.

Collects Amazing X-Men 1-6.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Ed McGuinness

Kurt is back! Nightcrawler has long been one of my favorite characters and I’ve missed him. But now, he’s back!

The story starts with Kurt in heaven. But he’s not enjoying his rest, but is longing to return. However, strange things start to happen: pirates raid souls from heaven. Naturally, Kurt has to defend the innocents – with a sword!

Meanwhile, Angelica Jones (Firestar) comes to the Jean Grey school for the first time. She’s going to be a teacher. But first she’s confronted by the various goings on at the school. She finds out that Beast is being pestered by Bamfs, small creatures that look like Nightcrawler plush toys. Apparently, they’ve been a problem for a while in the school but now they’ve crossed the line: they’ve stolen Beast’s coffeemaker. But they seem to be luring the X-Men to a portal which transports Storm, Beast, Firestar, Northstar, Iceman, and Wolverine to other realms. Wolverine and Northstar end into Heaven and Beast onto a pirate ship in an icy river while the rest of the team are transported to Hell itself. Of course, they have to fight their way out.

It turns out that Kurt’s father Azazel is behind the attacks: he’s trying to carve out his own kingdom in the afterlife – and apparently nobody can stop him and his army of evil Bamfs and other wicked souls except the X-Men.

In the final issue in the collection, the X-Men celebrate Kurt’s return but he’s melancholy because of his biological family. Then Mystique shows up and it’s a family reunion straight from Kurt’s nightmares.

This was quite a silly adventure, memorable only because of Kurt’s return. The Bamfs were always quite ridiculous concept and I just couldn’t take them seriously as combatants. The other wicked souls are more menacing. We also get a glimpse of another dead X-Man. But Firestar, Storm, and Nightcrawler are awesome. Beast, Wolverine, and Iceman get their own chances to shine, too. Northstar is the only one who doesn’t have much to do here.

There’s also a downside to this otherwise cheery romp: Kurt has made a deal in order to get back to Earth and a dead man has only one thing to trade. It remains to be seen how that affects him in the future. Azazel and Mystique will no doubt plague him and the X-Men before long.

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