X-Men


Collects the miniseries issues 1-8.

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Writer: Neil Gaiman

Artists: Andy Kubert, Richard Isanove

Publishing year: 2003

I read this originally when it first came out in 2003 and mostly liked it.

So, Marvel characters were born in 1602. Sir Nicholas Fury is the spymaster to the elderly and sick Queen Elizabeth I. Stephen Strange is the Queen’s head physician and sorcerer. The men don’t like each other but have a grudging respect for each other.

Matthew Murdoch is a blind minstrel who secretly works for Fury. Teenaged Peter Parquagh is Fury’s closest assistant. Murdoch sings about four intrepid explorers who died while investigating the new world. Fury’s secret ally is Carlos Javier, who has a school for mutants.

All over the world, mutants are called witchbreed and the people hate and fear them. In England they’re tolerated, but in Scotland King James persecutes them, and in Spain the Grand Inquisitor burns them at the stake.

Storms are getting stronger, and Dr. Strange senses that they’re supernatural. He tries to find out more about them with his magic. In a trance, he sees that a ship is coming from the New World and that the girl on it is responsible for the storms–which will destroy the world. Virginia Dare and her loyal blond and white-skinned Native American guard are sailing from Roanoke to beg help from the Queen. Virginia’s hair is white and when she’s scared, she can involuntarily turn to a white animal. The guard is… very stoic and speaks only a few words when necessary. Very stereotypically cringe worthy.

Meanwhile, in Spain the Grand Inquisitor is preparing to burn at the stake a young man who dares to impersonate an angel, by having wings. The Inquisitor’s young aides, Wanda and Petros, have powers of their own, so the old Inquisitor seems to play a deeper game. However, Javier’s young charges save the young man from death.

Also, an old man is secretly bringing a Templar treasure to England. A treasure that could destroy the world or save it. The Queen commands Fury to protect it and Fury sends Murdoch.

And in Latveria Count Otto von Doom, called the Handsome, is weaving his own plots.

So, the comic has lots of characters. However, for me at least they worked well, mostly anyway. Strange and Fury get the most page time in the first issue, but other characters get more time in later issues.

For the most part, I enjoyed this reimagining of the oldest Marvel characters in an Elizabethan fantasy world. Daredevil especially had a bigger role and was more effective than I expected. Javier and Fury’s relationship was very interesting, too. Jean has to pretend to be a boy, which was a nice touch. I recommend this only for people who are already familiar with Marvel’s comics.

However, the women characters had tiny roles, so I was disappointed in how little Gaiman used them. Wanda’s only relevant action in the whole comic is in the first issue. Also, I don’t think the complicated explanation in the last two issues wasn’t really necessary. But my biggest disagreement was with a character that was revealed right at the end. I just don’t think they could have thought and done what they did.

Kubert’s art is quite distinctive. Isanove changed it to a painting style which worked very well for this story.

Collects Uncanny X-Men (2018) issues 11-16.

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artists: Salvador Larroca, John McCrea, Juanan Ramirez

At the end of Disassembled (vol. 1) of the UXM series in 2018, almost all of the X-Men vanished during a fight and they’re presumed to be dead.

Now, Scott Summers is back. Actually, how he came back to life was in UXM Annual which, strangely, isn’t part of this collection. He’s keeping a low profile but helping people, especially mutants, who need it. But when a group of mutants attack a Humanity for Humans rally, he decides to defend the bigots. Now, all of X-Men’s enemies know that Cyclops is back. He challenges them and calls all X-Men who are still left. Only Wolverine answers his call.

Oh, and Scott meets with a young mutant who can see the future, Blindfold. I haven’t seen her before. She warns Scott that anything he does is futile but urges Logan to help him.

Oh yes. Wolverine is back as well. His return was in the ”Return of Wolverine” miniseries.

Logan and Scott team-up. They look for other surviving mutants. They find Havok (without the facial scars) and a group of New Mutants. Magik is her normal self, not as acidic as when she was in Scott’s X-Men team. Wolfsbane, Karma, and Mirage have been infected by the techno-organic virus so they talk like Warmachine. They also find the Multiple Man and a couple of other mutants.

Scott plans to take care of all of the X-Men’s dangerous enemies so that humans wouldn’t have to deal with them. The others are a bit skeptical but join his crusade.

This is quite a dark comic. With most of their friends and family dead, the X-Men aren’t a happy bunch. They know that their mission is most likely an impossible one and that some, or all, of them will die.

I quite enjoyed the banter between Logan and Scott. That’s pretty much the only banter in the collection. I also really enjoyed the first issue where they ended up trusting and supporting each other. Alex and Scott aren’t very close despite being brothers, but they have their moments. When Scott starts taking prisoners, the others have mixed feelings about it, and about the prisoners.

While this is darker than I like, at least right now, I enjoyed most of it. The comic brings back many elements of the X-Men when I first fell in love with them, namely Claremont’s long run in the 1980s. In addition to the classic villains, like Marauders, or sort-of-allies like Val Cooper, also the mutant hatred is, again, very high and the X-Men are a small band of misfits rather than a horde of experienced teachers and an even larger group of students with various powers.

So, overall I liked it, but none of my favorite mutants are in this comic (Storm, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler…). I’ll definitely continue to see just how they will come back.

(And of course, they will be back, with Hickman’s run starting soon after this storyline.) And yes, I’ll also dive into the Age of X-Man to see what my favorite mutants are doing.

Collects Astonishing X-Men issues 7-12.

Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Gerardo Sandoval, Phil Noto, Paolo Siqueria, Matteo Buffagni, Aco, and Ron Garney

The story continues straight from issue 6. Rogue, Gambit, Old Man Logan, and Mystique are back from the Astral Plane. But with them came out another mutant, someone whom everyone thinks is dead but who has been trapped in the Astral Plane, dueling with the Shadow King. He’s a changed person. Mystique doesn’t believe he is who he says he is. The new mutant, who calls himself X, has taken over Fantomex while Fantomex’s spirit stays in the Astral Plane. Psylocke even visits the Astral Plane to make sure Fantomex chose it.

But together with X another mutant comes to London from the Astral Plane: Proteus who has reality altering powers. And Proteus wastes no time using his powers. The X-Men and X drive him away from London, but he goes to a small town in Scotland. He offers all the residents whatever they want. Of course, chaos ensues.

Characters rising from the dead aren’t unusual in comics, but I’m not sure if the return of this character was needed. But he seems to be a really changed man, doing things now that he wouldn’t have before. Also, Mystique especially is suspicious of him, which is refreshing and also really sensible. Soule’s run ends here, and the next writer takes up another cast of characters.

This was mostly an enjoyable read. Soule changes especially the balance between Warren and Archangel. Also, Fantomex’s mind remains in the Astral Plane. But in the end, X wipes the memories of him from all the other characters, except Betsy. I’m so used to comics where nothing changes that I was surprised, but I liked the changes. But who knows if the next writers will even notice them. Of course, that’s always the question with a universe as large as Marvel.

Collects Astonishing X-Men issues 1-6.

Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr.,  Ed McGuinness, Carlos Pacheco, Ramon Rosanas, Mike Del Mundo, Mark Morales, Rafael Fonteriz, Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong

I wanted more Rogue and Gambit stories. Unfortunately, this comic is set before they get married. In fact, when they meet again in the first issue, Rogue is quite cold toward Gambit. But this must be the series where they’re built toward the wedding. So I’m looking forward to that.

A psychic wave leaves many lesser powered telepaths dead. But when that wave reaches Psylocke, she reaches out to the X-Men who are closest: Bishop, Angel, Rogue, Old Man Logan, and Gambit. Gambit is working with Fantomex so he comes along, too. A powerful telepath is attacking Betsy and the X-Men come to her rescue. Working together Rogue and Bishop manage to save her. However, their work is just beginning.

Betsy tells them that the Shadow King is alive and well in the Astral Plane. Some of the X-Men must go there and kill him or he will take over enough minds to escape to the world.

Bishop and Angel choose to stay and guard the others. Psylocke must stay and keep the others in the Astral Plane. So, Logan, Rogue, Gambit, Phantomex, and one mystery mutant go to the Astral Plane.

The Shadow King will try to take them over by creating a reality they will accept as real so I was looking forward to twisted versions, both good and bad, of our characters’ realities. This didn’t happen.

The first issue promised that the SK will use the characters’ fears and loves against them. Unfortunately, we got only a few scenes of that before another powerful mutant psychic started to influence our characters and they realized where they were. SK has taken over Gambit and Rogue before but that was only referenced a couple of times, not significantly.

So this turned out to be quite different than what I expected. Still, I quite enjoyed this adventure with both an old enemy, SK obviously, and new one which is the UK’s Ministry of Defense’s superhuman police force which seem very trigger happy. I also enjoyed the mystery mutant working with the others. Not so sure about the resurrected character but we’ll see what happens with them.

This was a good start and I’m going to continue with the series.

Every issue has a different artist. Their styles aren’t very different from each other, so this wasn’t too annoying except in the final issue. But it was noticeable in the other issues, as well.

Collects X-Men Gold issues 13-15 and X-Men Blue issues 13-15.

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Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Cullen Bunn
Artists: Jorge Molina, Mike Mayhew, Marc Laming, Diego Bernard

The X-Men teams unite against a invading monoliths which turn to be Mojo’s trick!

I think this is a storyline readers will either love or hate. It’s Mojo rehashing all the X-Men’s greatest hits to boost his ratings. It’s a love letter to X-Men history, spinning it for us old fans one more time. But it’s not new readers friendly, which I find very interesting. Despite Dark Phoniex on the cover, she only appears in a few background pictures.

I enjoyed it. Mojo was used in equally silly way as the Secret Empire in X-Men Blue vol. 2. Mojo takes over Manhattan and every TV set and smartphone in it… and in the end he and his tech just disappear.

On the bad side, Longshot makes an appearance… and he’s more concerned with his ratings than battling Mojo’s robots. That’s not the hero I remember from 1990s X-Men comics.

The story starts with the teams playing baseball. Kitty already mentions that someone will attack when they play… and mysterious monoliths drop down from the sky to Manhattan. The X-Men dive in and find themselves in different battle scenarios. Their surroundings and enemies, even the costumes they wear, change when the scenario changes. Team one is Kitty, Prestige (Rachel Summers), Bloodstorm, and Cyclops who are fighting against future Sentinels from the Days of the Future Past comic. Kitty’s X-Men costume changes to prisoner’s fatigues and Rachel’s costume to the Hound. Team two is Storm, Old Man Logan, Iceman, and Angel fighting Ice Giants in Asgard. Storm is the only one who gets to wear her cool Asgard costume. Team three is Marvel Girl leading Nightcrawler, Colossus, Beast, and Jimmy Hudson fighting demons in Inferno. Jean is in Goblin Queen’s costume and Hank changes to a demon. Of course, the scenes change for each team at least a couple of times.

The cast of characters is pretty large and most of them, such as Ororo and Kurt don’t get to do more than look cool. Rachel, at least, must face her trauma about the future where she came from and Jean fights her scenario’s Goblin Queen.

This was lots of cheesy fun for me.

Collects X-Men Blue issues 7-12.

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Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Cory Smith, Joey Vazquez, Thony Silas, Giovanni Valetta, Douglas Franchin

This collection is divided to two stories. The first three issues are a Secret Empire crossover which left me quite puzzled because I haven’t read it. Apparently Cap is now Nazi (just no, Marvel) and he helped Hydra get control of US (again, just no) and California is controlled by a cabal of evil mutants: Emma Frost (I’m so pleased to see Emma where she belongs, as a hardcore villain), Sebastian Shaw, the Beast (??), and… Xorn?? I thought Xorn was Magneto or his clone or something?? Anyway, these morons have created a paradise on Earth for mutants… except that they have concentration camps for any dissenters. And the original, teenaged X-Men are the only ones fighting this??? Really, after Genosha??

While the actual setting is pretty interesting as an alternate history or timetravel plot or something, I can’t accept that many of our heroes are just going along with this regime. And Magneto making a deal of no interferance with Nazis who have concentration camps?? Just. No.

Our intrepid heroes are also in a very different place. A new side character has popped up and their HQ is now a bunker in a forest. The X-Men attack one of the concentration camps and break out the prisoners. They return to their bunker but (of course) the villains track them. Emma’s foot soldiers attack. They’re a mix of villans and heroes. I just can’t ever swallow that heroes like Wolfsbane and Firestar are voluntarily working for this regime. Some of them also have some pretty strange ”secondary mutations”.

Jean and Jimmy Hudson are left for dead and the rest of the team are captured. Of course, Jean and Jimmy must rescue the others. We also get to know Blackbird’s secret.

After the Secret Empire is over, everything returns to normal like it never happened. (Maybe it didn’t? Was it an alternate universe? I guess I should read it anyway) Jean and Scott share now a permanent rapport. They’re teenagers and can hear each others’ thoughts. Super awkward. They’re trying to cope with it. Meanwhile, Hank’s dabbling with magic comes with a cost (as it always does). The person who is teaching Hank magic,convinces him to help them with a summoning. Of course, Hank and the person summon X-Men from various other dimensions and they attack our current X-Men.

I rather enjoyed the Hex-Men. We even got to know them a little. Poor Colossus has lost his Illyana. Poor Kurt has been changed to a nightmarish demon. Poor Pixie was turned to a demon in a second Inferno. And Bloodstorm. Ororo Munroe as a vampire, from the Mutant X comic (which I throughly enjoyed so I’m thrilled to see her). The final issue was from Bloodstorm’s point-of-view which I enjoyed a lot.

Overall, this was pretty uneven collection. I enjoyed a few things but not everything. I think you should read the Secret Empire storyline before tackling this one. And the second story really requires the reader to enjoy alternate versions of the X-Men.

Collects X-Men Blue issues 1-6.

Writer: Cullen Bunn

Artists: Jorge Molina, Ray-Anthony Height, Julian Lopez, Cory Smith, Ramon Bachs

The original teenaged X-Men Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel and still adventuring in the current time. They’ve adapted to our modern times, at least for the most part. Hank is learning to use magic and Warren’s wings are now ”cosmic fire”. Jean has taken the role of the team leader. Scott adventured for a while in space with his dad, the Corsair, but is now back.

In the first issue, our heroes are rescuing people from a cruise ship because the Juggernaut and Black Tom are there. At the end of the issue, we’re revealed that the team’s new mentor is… Magneto.

In the second issue, the team tries to get grips with Magneto. The team, especially Scott, has lots of reservations about working with him. But Jean reads his mind and assures the others that he honestly wants to help humans and mutants live peacefully. At least for now. Then they head to Barcelona to battle Sentinels.

In the third issue, the X-Men hear that surprisingly, the Sentinels want to help mutants. Also, this group of Sentinels consider themselves… mutants. The X-Men agree to meet their leader who turns out to be a long time X-Men enemy who has their own reasons to reprogram Sentinels.

In the fourth issue, the teams heads to Colorado when Jean get very strange readings from the Cerebro. They confront Wendigo and Jimmy Hudson, Wolverine’s son from another timeline. And he’s not alone.

Next, our heroes and Jimmy fight alternate world Marauders, lead by Miss Sinister. She wants to take Jimmy back for some more experimenting but the X-Men disagree.

In the final issue, our heroes have returned to their secret base in Madripoor. Jean, Hank, and Jimmy head out for a night of fun during a big festival. After a few pages of relaxation, Jimmy notices something he recognizes. The shift to another dimension has wiped most of his memories so he’s determined to find out what the small vial is. Our three heroes bump in the middle of men peddling mutant growth hormones. But another group of heroes wants to stop the deals. And they’ll go through the X-Men to do it.

This collection brings the X-Men firmly back to the world of superheroing. Yes, there’s some angst about what they going to do with Magneto and Bobby can’t reach his girlfriend (boyfriend?) the whole time. Hank has started to learn magic and it seems to be corrupting him. But mostly there are fights. Entertaining enough, even though Bunn mostly rehashes old X-Men enemies.

I enjoy alternate worlds so the most interesting enemy for me were the Maraudes from another world.

Still, I don’t see how this team can be sent back to the past. All of them have grown and learned. Angel’s wings are different and Iceman knows more about his powers. Still, I think at some point they will just be mind-wiped and shoved back in time.

Collects Excalibur issues 1-6 (2019)

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Writer: Tini Howard
Artists: Marcus To
Publisher: Marvel
Publishing year: 2020

I’m a huge fan of Claremont and Davis’ run of Excalibur which started in 1987. This isn’t that comic. I haven’t read Howard before so I didn’t know what to expect. However, the low ratings on Goodreads had me preparing for the worst. But this was fine, for the most part. The team is pretty haphazard but so was the original Excalibur team (Marvel-wise, of course, not the original Knights of the Round Table.)

Appropriately enough, the comic starts in Avalon. In Marvel comics, Avalon is in a world called the Otherworld. King Arthur and Queen Guinevere have mysteriously vanished and Morgan le Fay is the Queen now. However, a mysterious force is attacking Avalon (I don’t think we every found out who) and at the same time, the Queen’s scrying pool is growing strange plants. Morgan blames the witchbreed, which she calls mutants. She reaches out to her coven of witches and commands the three people in it to kill all mutants. Their leader promptly kills her followers and sets out alone.

Meanwhile, Betsy Braddock is visiting her twin brother Brian in England. Betsy is back in her original body and doesn’t really want to go by Psylocke anymore. Brian is living his happily ever after with his wife Meggan and their kid. Betsy returns to Krakoa island where she finds out that Egg has resurrected her older brother, Jamie who is mad and has reality-altering powers. Betsy’s not happy.

Betsy returns to England but doesn’t tell the news to her twin. Instead, Brian is called to the Otherworld in an emergency and Betsy decides to go with him… to Morgan Le Fay. Morgan enchants Brian to attack his twin. Brian has just enough time to give his amulet to Betsy, making her Captain Britain.

On Krakoa, Apocalypse knows the portal which leads to Otherworld. He knows Betsy’s in trouble but needs Rogue’s help with the portal. Gambit is against it. Still, Rogue takes off her gloves and touches the portal… and promptly falls down, unconscious or sleeping, covered in vines. Betsy returns to Krakoa as Captain Britain.

Of course, the team needs to rescue Brian and Rogue. Betsy, Gambit, and Jubilee travel to the Braddock lighthouse but is has been destroyed. However, when Rogue is brought to the spot, a new lighthouse grows from the ground.

Apocalypse wants to help the team but both Gambit and Betsy are against it. However, in the end Betsy must bow to the inevitable and accept his help. Apocalypse also finds Rictor and adds him to the team. The team adventures mostly in Otherworld.

I mostly enjoyed this. While I’m familiar with Morgan as Avengers’ villain, I don’t think I’ve ever read a story set in Otherworld. Of course, all the characters have long and convoluted backstory, the Captain Britain Corps not the least among them. Rogue is unconscious for most of the story and Gambit is very concerned about her, which is understandable, of course. The story line even has a dragon! The ending really shook up the status quo in Otherworld. I’m not sure if it will affect any other Marvel books but I’m intrigued to find out. Also, Apocalypse isn’t a hero. I’m sure the team will have to turn against him at some point. We’ll see.

We did get some nods to us old fans in the way of cameos, which I quite liked.

However, I wasn’t happy with the inclusion of Rictor. I’ve only seen him before in New Mutants/X-Men crossovers so he felt like a really strange addition. Also, I think he has vibration powers, not earth control. Also, Rogue already learned to control her powers in the Mr. and Mrs. X series, issue 9. Yet, at the beginning of this series she again has to use the power-dampening bracelet. I guess her out-of-control powers are just too great for writers to let go. She also got a power upgrade on that comic, allowing her to absorb powers from a distance. Oh well.

So, story wise this was entertaining but left a bit to be desired in character department. Of course, I’m hoping Howard will improve.

Collects miniseries House of X issues 1-6 and Powers of X issues 1-6.

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Pepe Larraz, R. B. Silva

So, this is apparently the newest reboot of the X-Men. I enjoyed Hickman’s Fantastic Four and mostly enjoyed his Avengers, too. I also enjoy alternate worlds and time-travel. And yet… this didn’t quite work for me.

Hickman gives us four timelines. One is year 0 (for X-Men) where Xavier comes up with his dream and meets with Moira MacTaggart who is very different character. Year 10 is closest to our “current” timeline except that Cyclops, Wolverine, and Xavier (and various other mutants) are alive and well. Year 100 is (yet another) depressing future where mutants are a hunted minority trying to survive. In year 1000, post-humanity is trying to make a deal with advanced aliens.

I can’t really talk much about year 0 without massive spoilers. In the “now” of the continuity, Xavier has allied himself with a sentient island Krakoa and is creating it as a paradise to all mutants. And he’s inviting every mutant on Earth, including all the villains. Magneto is his right hand man.

This is a sprawling epic. Magneto, Moira, and Xavier are in the middle of it all, the others are really on the sidelines. Hickman has crammed the two miniseries full of plot. We get short flashes of story which is then interrupted by page or two of text, explaining plot elements. This didn’t work for me.

At first, I didn’t really care for this. It felt confusing and too convoluted. But in the end, it did hold up. It also changed the status quo of the mutants. I guess it reminded me too much of Utopia which I didn’t really care for. My golden age of X-Men is the Claremont/Byrne/Romita JR era and this is very different to say the least. Yet, I’m eager to see where Marvel will continue with the X-Men.

The second and final volume of the adventures of Rogue and Gambit. Collects issues 7-12.

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Oscar Bazaldua, Javier Pina

I enjoyed this collection a lot, perhaps not quite as much as the first one, but still a lot. Mojo can be a very good villain, when used well, so I was happy to see him. Rogue and Gambit are kidnapped by Mojo into the Mojoworld. They’re essentially brainwashed and put to various shows for viewers’ entertainment. But something goes wrong: every time Rogue’s powers malfunction and she kills Remy. Mojo sends Spiral to fix her.

The last two issues center of Gambit when he returns to New Orleans and to his guild. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole thief guild stuff but it was an ok ending to the series.

This was light and fun. I love the chemistry between Remy and Rogue. I loved the various Mojo world weirdness, seeing Remy and Rogue in different genre movies/ TV-shows, if only briefly. The whole things starts with HoneyMoonlighting, a riff on the old TV-show (which I liked a lot) and continues with a surprise guest appearance of a character I haven’t seen in a long time (and I’d love to see more). The story also gives Rogue a chance to “fix” her powers. I’m pretty sure some people will be unhappy with the fix. I’m OK with it and I’m hoping that it will stay this time.

Spiral also gets an interesting development and I’m intrigued to see where we’ll see her next. Rogue and Remy will next appear in the new Excalibur comic with a new (to me) writer. Here’s hoping they’ll do a good job.

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