X-Men


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.

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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.

Collects X-Men: Legacy Vol. 1 #219–225. (2009)

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Scot Eaton, Phil Briones, Andrew Hennessy, Cam Smith

This collection starts with a one-shot where Charles Xavier is talking with his half-brother Cain Marko, also known as the Juggernaut. Cain tried Xavier’s way but got frustrated and left. Now, he’s taking his frustrations out on Xavier. The ending has a twist but I saw that one coming.

Most of the collection is a longer story. After the events of M-Day, Rogue has gone the Australian outback where the X-Men lived when the world thought that they were dead. She longs for solitude to get her head back together but instead, she gets an intruder who turns out to be Danger, the sentient Danger room. Also, a Shi’Ar starship crashes the party. Luckily, Xavier and Gambit had also come for Rogue.

In the final issue, Xavier goes after Exodus and his Acolytes. Alone. He confronts Exodus’ attitude and shows him how bleak the future of mutantkind can be without unity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Rogue story, even though Xavier almost took it over with his own quest for redemption from his past misdeeds. Here we get a walk-through Rogue’s history and final learn that her powers might be messed up and that they could be repaired. This story is clearly aimed at those of us who have read the X-Men for a long time, since the flashbacks (single panels, really) are from the 1990s X-Men (some of the best ones IMHO). Of course, Rogue is one of my favorite characters ever so I’m happy see her handled this well.

However, the collection ends in a cliffhanger and the Finnish library system doesn’t have the next one. It leads to the Osborn Avengers storyline.

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.

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.

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