X-Men


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.

Collects Storm 6-11

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Al Barrionuevo, Tom Palmer, Neil Edwards, Ed Tadeo, Victor Ibanez

The stories continue from the previous collection.
In her adventure in Las Vegas, Storm’s ankle broke and so she takes a flight in an airplane back to New York. At the start of the flight, people recognize her and one of them doesn’t want to fly with her. However, the plane gets off with Storm in it. She just has the time to chat with a woman who is taking a donated organ to the recipient, when the plane is attacked. A senator is onboard and his guards assume that Storm is responsible and threaten her. However, Storm ends up protecting the plane from the attacker. Yet, when the plane finally lands, after a hard flight, Storm is arrested.

The next two issues delve into the consequences of the plane incident and of the previous collection. Some really powerful people are unhappy that Storm has dared to meddle in their affairs. This gives the previous stories some continuity.

Then Gambit! He’s now the boss of Thieves’ guild but he has a problem and wants Storm’s help. Apparently, some of his underlings have turned against him. Also, Gambit wants to rob a treasure which is guarded by none of other than Hermes himself. This is a light romp, but a really thin excuse to get a Gambit appearance.

In the final two issues, Storm returns to the school and a subplot kicks into high gear. Subplot involving… mold! Of course, when the X-Men are involved, it means deadly, cybernetic mold done by a former student. The student has a big chip on his shoulder and he believes that Storm’s (or rather Xavier’s) inclusive dream is only for the pretty people.

These issues apparently tie up some X-Men related stuff. A student named Marisol is a significant secondary character. Even though I’m not familiar with those stories, this collection mostly worked for me. It’s was a bit better than the previous volume, too. Still, these stories turn out to be average.

Well, it turned out that the title was cancelled after this. Too bad, it was just getting started.

One of my favorite X-Men has gotten her own comic! Collects Storm 1-5.

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Victor Ibanez, Matteo Buffagini, Scott Hepburn, David Baldeon, Jordi Tarragona, Roland Paris, Craig Yeung

I was very excited when I noticed (on Marvel Unlimited) that Storm has now her own comic. However, I thought that writing her as a lone character might be challenging. And I was right.

Storm is an integral part of the X-Men and doesn’t have her own rogue’s gallery or supporting characters. (Yes, she was the sidekick of Black Panther for a while but that doesn’t seem to have changed her at all – after the divorce she slipped right back into the X-Men as nothing had happened. Disclaimer: I haven’t read the Black Panther comics but that’s the impression I’ve gotten from others.) Interestingly enough, even though we have loads of X-Men, very few of them have had on-going spin-offs focusing on just one character, although some have had one-shots and limited series. Of course, a one-off or a limited series has a focus written in: such as the Wolverine/Kitty Pryde limited series decades ago. Storm actually had a limited series, before the wedding, which focused on her youth. However, over the years there have been significant storylines focusing on Storm, such as her second youth with Gambit, her fight with Callisto and Morlocks, and her romance with Forge. Callisto makes an appearance in this collection, too.

This collection feels somewhat disjointed at first. The first issue has Storm rushing to help people living under dictatorship in Santo Marco where the officials want her to leave. But the people want her to stay and she does. In the second issue, she deals with the consequences of that and looks for some missing orphan kids in New York. She also has lunch with Wolverine (whom she’s now apparently dating). In the third issue she confronts Forge which was inevitable, considering their past relationship. However, Forge has been portrayed as pretty nutty in recent years and Storm acknowledged that by not trusting him.

Then we get a two-parter centering on Yukio. She’s Storm’s and Logan’s friend and in part inspired Storm’s first Mohawk style and change into a harder person and a leader from the original gentle goddess. But first, we’re supposed to believe that Wolverine is really dead and Storm grieves him. But then she pulls herself together and rushes to Las Vegas to help Yukio. She’s in a wheelchair – and the boss of a large criminal organization. Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with our heroine.

It seems that these are part of a larger plot which gets into high gear in the next collection.

The writing is somewhat different from the average loner hero because Storm has a lot of responsibilities at the school and with her friends. But she also gets help when she needs it. Overall, I liked this beginning and I’m eager to see where it will go.

Collects: X-Men: Battle of the Atom 1-2, All-New X-Men 16-17, X-Men 5-6, Uncanny X-Men 12-13, & Wolverine & the X-Men 36-37

Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood, Jason Aaron
Artists: Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen, David López, Esad Ripid,Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrew Currie, Tom Palmer, Chris Bachalo

Ah, crossovers! The bane of my superhero reading! Or they used to be before Marvel Unlimited. Now, they’re easier to read, as long as each comic is part of MU.

Battle of the Atom is a time travel mini-series featuring X-Men past, present, and future. In the end, there’s a lot of X-Men fighting other X-Men and that seem to be largely the point.

The original five X-Men have been brought to the present and they’re at the center of the conflict: if they should go back or stay. So far, the five have stayed and even split: Jean, Scott, Hank, and Bobby stay at the Jean Grey school under the tutelage of Kitty Pryde while Warren has joined Scott’s, er, the present Scott’s small band of rebels. Then, a group of X-Men from the future appear at the school and claim that the five have to return to the past or something terrible will happen.
The future group has some familiar and startling people: Xorn (who killed the original Jean Grey), Kate Pryde apparently from the Days of the Future Past future, Bobby as a huge ice monster, old Hank, and Xavier’s grandson.

Yes, we have no less than three Beasts and three Icemans at the same time in this story. If time travel and multiple same characters don’t make your head hurt, this can be fun. I loved the glimpses to the possible future and enjoyed the interaction between the various Hanks and Bobbys. Jubilee also had some very good moments. My problem was that it has far, far too many characters who don’t have much to do. Storm, Rogue, and Psylocke are some of my favorites and they mostly stand in the background but apparently have to be here for some reason. In fact, when I first read the few X-Men issues I didn’t have MU and no access to the rest of the story. In issue 8, after this cross-over, there was some mention that Rogue had left the team because of this event and I assumed she had a big role. Nope. She apparently died in Uncanny Avengers. And was resurrected. (Whew! Ever since Kurt died and was left dead, I sometimes worry about my other favorites.)

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