xmen

Comic Culture With Rafa #013

Clarity of Focus For A Mutant Future in X-Men #1 – Spoilers Ahead

A review by Rafael Encinas

After the magnum opus that was Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X, we are now in the Dawn of X, where we go further down the rabbit hole of Krakoa and the new Mutant Status Quo. As Chris and I expounded on in our previous wrap-up of HOX & POX, we are beyond excited to see how the X-Men move forward in a world that still hates and fears them, but now also recognizes them as a sovereign nation.  This Dawn of X begins with today’s newest story, Hickman’s X-Men #1, and right out the gate, we have the X-Men do what they do best; they are taking on those that are threatening the X-Men’s new-found liberty.

The issue opens with a flashback of when Cyclops, aka Scott Summers, first gets his ruby quartz glasses from Xavier. It is a touching scene that reminds us why Cyclops is such an important figure in the X-Men comics. We see how he is a man with destructive power and how he needs to stay in control, and now as the captain commander for the entirety of Krakoa’s defense systems, we see him and Storm raid one of the last Orchis strongholds on earth. The X-Men are not being passive in their new world; they are being proactive and bringing the fight to all those that would want to see them destroyed. This opening sequence has good banter and excellent moments for Cyclops as he utilizes his wit and charm during a fire fight in a heavily armed compound. Some of my favorite quips are: “I’m always careful… it’s part of my charm” and “Be careful, they’re sure to be savvy—all these apes have PhDs!” We also get some great moments with the newly minted heroic Magneto and powerful Polaris (which makes me happy because Hickman is actually giving Polaris a purpose again). All on in all, they work as a team, shut down Orchis, and save a bunch of captive mutant children.

Leinil Francis Yu’s art is distinctive and feels energetic as we see all the action in each panel; it is both fluid and animated. It is further highlighted by the bold inks from Gerry Alanguilan and colored perfectly with vibrant hues from Sunny Gho. This team of artists really give this entire sequence urgency but familiarity. It feels new and exciting, but its grounded in what we always see the X-Men do, and that is kick ass.  

However, after the explosive opening, the issue does switch focus to a much slower brand of narrative storytelling. While many say it can be boring or can hurt the overall appeal of this book, I argue that it further world-builds and adds the necessary brevity to further ground and expand on these interesting and iconic characters.

The book delves into a Summers family reunion where we find the heart of the issue. We see that Scott and his family, including Wolverine, are all living on the blue area of the moon at the Summer House, which is a Krakoan biome. We get fun banter between Wolverine and long-lost Summers brother, Vulcan over the philosophical difference in meat rarity. We get a teenage Cable asking permission to trade guns with his new friend; (Jean quips, “Set the table first, dear). We also get a time displaced Rachel Summers who kind of looks like she is just done with everyone, which is very reminiscent of an older sister. And we even see estranged Starjammer father, Corsair even connect with his family by trying to bond with Cyclops over Krakoan dish washing.  It is slow; it is whacky; it is fun; it is heartwarming. Hickman is at his best when he grounds his characters in the everyday mundane but there is real heart to it. We get a greater love and respect for the characters when they are allowed to relax and be happy. 

We see that Cyclops continues to fight the good fight and will never stop because of his focus and vision (which is masterfully symbolized when Xavier first gives him the glasses at the beginning of the issue). For those that have followed Cyclops’ ups and downs over the years, we know it has never been easy, and now in Hickman’s world we see a focused and determined Scott Summers who continues to help his people not by being worried about the threats of tomorrow but instead, as he says in this issue, by focusing on the things that make him want to live today, with his family being that main focal drive. This is magical storytelling because we see a fully realized character who is on full display in a new world and who is looking forward to the future like so many are looking forward to with this new era of X-Men.

Overall, this is a fantastic start for the X-Men after Hickman’s establishment of the new status quo. The art is stunning, the writing is top class, and we get a powerful story of vision, clarity, and hope under the guise of a Summers family barbecue. It is some exciting stuff.

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #19

A Review From Christopher Franey

Alright I’m back and it is time to get UNCANNY!  Here we are at issue 19 of the current run of Uncanny and part 3 of “We Have Always Been.”  With this issue there is a change in the narrator as the box is white instead of red, we have quite the bold opening, “It seems it is finally time to lay our cards on the table and see who has the better bluff.”  I’m pretty sure this would be Emma Frost, a.k.a. the White Queen, who is our narrator for this issue.  We have Matthew Rosenberg continuing his story with a group of artists on pencils such as Carlos Villa, Carlos Gomez, and Bob Quinn.  They did a great job of blending styles so you don’t really notice a change in art. 

Let us jump into it, we have Emma watching the X-Men (a different group) fighting the Sentinels, and it appears that the Vanisher is her servant in this new version of the Hellfire Club.  So her group gets attacked by the Warlock infected X-men which leads to her capture by General Robert Callahan, who happens to be the director of O.N.E.

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Callahan does a great job of using his position to beat down the White Queen, but Emma isn’t someone you mess with.  She manages to survive the bright light prison for a couple of days, but finally she does crack and reveals that Hank McCoy still has the serum that cures mutations, so Callahan does have plans to exploit this; which I’m pretty sure we saw this at the beginning of this volume of Uncanny. Callahan does a good job of taking care of Emma and showing that he values her and is also on guard against her powers.  While letting her know that she is in check, he informs her that all the X-Men are dead after their fight with X-Man (Nate Grey back in Uncanny 10).  Emma does have some freedoms and she uses that time for some shopping in which she takes Marrow out to help our her style since she’ll be part of the Hellfire Club.  Of course the good times don’t last for long as Callahan and O.N.E. strike and want Emma to come back in for some work.  She thinks shes got the upper hand, but she really doesn’t as Callahan is play acting, so when Emma calls on Vanisher to port them out, this winds up with him being fired upon by an experimental weapon which causes Vanisher to melt.  So Emma knows she has to stop as others are being hurt.  

She has been tasked by O.N.E. to find Blindfold which brings us to the events of issue 11; so it might merit a chance for rereading.  Around this point Emma finds out that Scott Summers is alive and this is a great moment for us fans with their reunion.  Before Scott died he went on quite the set of stories and it did pit him against a lot of the X-Men and his friends.  Things ended pretty badly with Emma during Bendis’ run of Uncanny X-men and it was pretty much set that their relationship was over.  Then we see the two together for Scott’s last story in Death of X, which set a chain of events that would lead to Emma’s character doing some questionable things.  I would say this issue did a great job of helping to redeem Emma.  

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The moment shared by the two was quite interesting as you can see from Emma’s words that she cares for Scott, but then she takes this moment away and only she knows what happened here.  She explains that not one of the Hellfire Club can know Scott is alive as that would mean O.N.E. would go after him in some fashion.  Next she makes her way to Wolverine and they exchange some barbed words, but in the end she orders him to look for Scott and take care of him…so this really adds to the behind the scenes on the previous issues.  Callahan isn’t too happy to find out that Scott is alive and Emma hasn’t reported that.  Emma manages to broker a way for Scott to not be hunted down but be useful to O.N.E.  So this takes us to the list and how questionable it was that Scott created it. 

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Now we’re back to last issue and we see “Captain America” with a captured Mister Sinister and she reveals all, and that it is Mystique and the Hellfire Club that are manipulating the X-Men.  While that should be all find and dandy for the bad guys, we are now seeing Wolverine and Kwannon and they are bringing the wrath…to be continued of course. 

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 This issue was great, lots of twists and reveals that will make you rethink what you have seen and read.  I was talking with Rafa (@mobilerafie) about the issues and it had use questioning everything.  I honestly don’t think we’ve seen Captain America meet with Scott yet, but then again Rafa said it could be that Cap was just at the rally, so maybe they did meet and it was just Mystique taking advantage and showing up as Cap in later issues…good point, but who knows?  I know some fans have been having a hard time with the current story arc but I am absolutely loving the issues that Matthew Rosenberg is writing.  This is now even more of a mystery with the revelations that were dropped in this issue.  I’m questioning Cyclops’ choices and wondering how much Emma may have manipulated him or maybe even saved him.  It was a very touching scene and some great words she said about Scott.  I’m very excited for the next issue and beyond, so keep reading and Excelsior!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #16

A Review From Christopher Franey

Ok we’re back after a crazy hectic week and I’m here to talk with you about Uncanny X-Men issue 16, part 6 of “This is Forever.”  So I missed issue 15 which had some wild dynamics, reunions, and also some damages…mainly like Cyclops being shot in the eye by Hope.  So I’m wondering how that will be resolved since Dark Beast did operate on Scott, plus he also helped the infected X-Men lose the Transmode Virus.  So is Dark Beast a member of the team?  Has he done something to Scott?  Guess we will find out at a later time.So the issue opens up with “This began when someone I cared about died.  And it began to end when someone else I cared about did, too.  All I can think is how each step we take toward our end never gets us any closer.  It always comes out of nowhere…”  So I wonder who this narrator is; my first thought was Cyclops since the text box is in red, but with this latest entry I am wondering if by chance it might be one of the New Mutants.  Who could the first death be and who was the second?  Are they deaths that are part of this arc?  Maybe it was the death of Blindfold (Ruth) and this issue’s death…(SPOILER) Wolfsbane (Rahne). 

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That was a hard revelation to see in this issue especially after Rahne asked if she could stop and just live a normal life.  That was a nice moment and something that makes sense, sometimes people are just tired of fighting, especially since she has been doing this since she was a kid; I’ll be honest I was hoping that she would have the happy ending but it wasn’t in the script for her.   

So we see right off the bat that Cyclops is turning over Samurai, Dragoness, Forearm, and Strobe to Captain America so they can be properly placed into custody.  Scott admits he doesn’t like this and really doesn’t trust Cap, he even hides the fact that he still has Hope, Banshee, and Dark Beast.  What I found interesting in the conversation between the two was that Scott doesn’t see the USA as his country anymore, which is sad but understandable as he says, “I’m a Mutant, Steve.  Any country I ever had has been taken from me long ago.”  Hmmm…maybe a return for Utopia?  Before that scene ends we see Cap give a note to Scott, so I wonder how that will play out later. Havok has a moment where he expresses that he is tired of not being in Scott’s council and the lying to Captain America.  Alex doesn’t like the fact that Scott is getting more advice from Logan and not evening hearing out his own brother.  Scott simply tells him: 

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Which I find interesting as we do tend to blind ourselves and judgements for those we care about.  The next scene sets us up for some X-Men action.  As we see a “Magneto” led Brotherhood attack Connallon Air Force Base in Eastern Transia; the scary part of this Brotherhood is they have a Juggernaut.  We then shift back to Harry’s Hideaway and the decision is set who will lead the X-Men, Scott tells the group as of now he is no longer the De Facto Leader.  They come to a consensus that most of the team members are leaders, so actions will be put to a vote.  Illyana calls up the first vote and it looks like that is to add Hope and Banshee to the team, so this group goes into action against the Brotherhood. 

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Looking good!  What was interesting was the line all sins are forgiven, so this might help to launch this team forward instead of some of the past drama holding them back.  In this fight we see Cyclops flashback to Rhane which is crazy as they are in battle and his mind wandered.  They have a struggle with the Brotherhood but in the end they manage to get to “Magneto” and discover that he is actually Joseph, which puts Juggernaut in an awkward position.  Joseph explains why he is doing what he is doing and seems to try and recruit was is left of the X-Men to his side.  Yet in the end it doesn’t matter as Juggy says:

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Juggernaut seems to not want any problems with the X-Men and he tells them that he wants to help the Mutants out.  Joseph knows he is defeated and then continues with Villainous Monologue until we see a “swssh” across his neck and then his head fall off, so goodbye Joseph, hello Kwannon aka Nothing. 

I enjoyed the issue and I felt it did move the arc along a little faster than the previous issues.  It has set up a lot of questions and I hope we get to find the answer soon as we are six issues deep into this.  I enjoy the fact that it doesn’t really play off as Bad Guy vs Good Guy with the Brotherhood and X-men, but that both sides have expressed why they are doing their actions.  For once I can see the Brotherhood being right, I mean who wouldn’t fight this hard in the given situation.  When they were in the millions they had a hard enough time now that there is a handful of them they are really backed to the wall.  I can’t wait to see how this arc continues/concludes and next issue will definitely have lots to deal with from this fallout.  I give this issue 5 out of 5 Juggernauts and highly recommend this arc.  As always read on and Excelsior!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men 13

A Review From Christopher Franey

“We’re together again.  Now we need a reason why.”  I love how each issue so far has started with a black page and a narration box, it is just so edgy, dig it man.  So here we are with issue 13 of Uncanny X-Men which is part 3 of This is Forever.  I want to give a shout out to the art team for this arc as they have really created a gritty style that does make it feel like this is dangerous and end times worthy. 

So the book starts off and we can see that the remaining X-Men are hiding out at Harry’s Hideaway (longtime bar/hangout for the X-Men) and Havok is reminding them that they have nothing.  Cyclops comes up and drops his list of what they should do, and wow what a list: 

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What is interesting about this list, to me, is that Magneto and the New Mutants are on it…haven’t they been allies?  So those should be some interesting confrontations when they happen, hopefully.  I do like the depth of this list going back to the O5 Marvel Age villains Factor Three, holy cow True Believer.  I also like how the team reacts to this and thinks of it as a Suicide Pact or a Kill List…not giving much credit to their belief in Scott.

What I find funny is how it was Wolverine who suggests that it is a kill list and before Scott’s death, one of Scott’s “sins” was the final solution provided by his X-Force team, which also had Wolvie.  Aside from that the moment comes the big question, who will follow Scott?  All of them because that is what X-Men do!  Luckily Wolverine finds a bag with some old costumes and the team is now ready to look the part. 

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So the X-Men go to the top of the list for their hunt…Dark Beast.  Now I know some eagle eyed readers will wonder wasn’t he killed during Bendis’ Run?  Yes, how he has returned? Comics.  So now that that is out of the way here is one major showdown that just has that “Terminator” vibe to it that this is serious business, but the sad part is that Jaime, Multiple Man, is once again the character that these evil fractions are choosing to experiment on.  This was a hard moment in the book because Jaime knows that this dupe is in major pain and is about to die, so in order to get those memories he will have to suffer that pain and death as well.  I will tell you, this was the first time I actually valued Jaime’s sacrifice/death…I mean most of the time it gets played off that it was just a dupe, but Matthew Rosenberg made me care…jerk.

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The X-Men with Jaime’s help are finally able to track down and confront Dark Beast (Evil-Hank?) and they just go after him.  Dark Beast does his best to hold them off, even showing off all the body modifications that he has done to himself, some Doc Ock looking arms and shields that he can make from his body.  Evil Hank has really lost it, but I like that this really puts him up there with Mr. Sinister (who is on the list as well) as one of those villains that can’t be stopped, real deadly stuff. 

The new team manages to take him down, and they do really good considering how fast they have come together and have no danger room to practice in.  Magik has a great moment on how to take Dark Beast down with her abilities and magic usage as well.  Once Dark Beast is down Jaime wants to kill him, but Scott stops him and says, “And we have to be better than him.”  This is awesome to hear coming from Scott, looks like the 90’s suit is bringing back the heroic Cyclops.  Plus we get to see some savage Wolverine which was nice.

I like the conversation between Alex and Scott as it really shows how acceptable it would be to be a “no prisoners” team but Scott reminds them that it is about hope, which then gets word played as we see the news talking bad about mutants and then showing footage of the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front) breaking in and attacking a facility that is holding the “Anti-Mutant Vaccine.”  The art is a little strained on the last panel, in my opinion, but we can see from the captions that Hope and Banshee are helping the MLF…say it isn’t so!?!?!

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For the first time in a long time this feels like the X-Men, backs to the wall, but still keeping that “Never Say Die” attitude.  I’m not complaining about the state the books have been in the last 15 years (since Astonishing) but this is great to see where they are heading.  I’ve enjoyed Cyclops’ Odyssey and I like that since he has returned from death, he is taking what is left of the X-Men and making it count…or as he would say, set it right.  Rosenberg and team deliver another fantastic issue and I give it high markings with 5 out of 5 dupes, so as always read on and Excelsior!  

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #12

A Review From Christopher Franey

Every ending has a beginning…those are the opening words for this brand new issue and I have to say I’m looking forward to the ending, in a good way.  Matthew Rosenberg has done it again with his part two of “This Is Forever.”  We get to see the new adventures of Cyclops and Wolverine as they are the only X-Men left after the events of Age of X-Man.  I like how each issue has opened with a black page with a word box, builds it up and helps give the narration more feel, kind of a bleak feeling in my opinion, which helps with this new era and story arc.  

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We get a moment of Scott and Logan talking after the fight from the previous issue as Logan is patching up Scott; little bit of humor, but then we get to see Scott blame himself for everything going south for Mutants and X-Men alike.  Now I know this has riled some Cyclops fans, but I’m going to wait and see how Scott comes out of this arc, I mean he did just return from the dead so maybe he still is processing everything.  Despite what Scott and Logan maybe going through from their returns, they know there are Mutants that need saving.  

Now in this new rescue mission we see that Logan is the one who has made the plan, steal a O*N*E* (Office of National Emergency) suit and guard then break in…doesn’t sound too bad right?  Well it quickly turns as the guard warns the others and the attack begins.

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After that bit of role reversal we see Scott and Logan break in and be confronted by newer Sentinels, but the sad twist is this time they are Mutant piloted/powered, so they have to be careful when fighting them.  

The two manage to set Strong Guy, Dani Moonstar, and Shan free from their Sentinel prisons.  They also find out the Mutants have been infected with the Transmode Virus and experimented on.  The O*N*E* facility is holding other Mutants and weaponizing them for who knows what (find out in later issues I’m sure).  Two of the worst things we see from this is the Madrox Bombs and Havok being used as a power source, but at least we got Magik and Wolfsbane back and not infected too.  

Sadly in the battle we see Strong Guy sacrifice himself to protect the others from a Madrox Bomb and Magik does not take kindly to this…but Scott and Logan both recognize that this is a hit, recover, and run mission at it’s best.  They managed to teleport out and escape, just narrowly missing out on meeting the big bad, General Callahan. 

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I loved the way this issue read off and honestly this felt like the stakes mattered.  We know the Mutants are at a low and worse off, they are far and few with many looking to take advantage of their plight.  Salvador Larroca delivers great art and pages that give us the excitement of having our Merry Mutants backed in a corner.  This issue reminded me of the Animated Series episodes when they broke in and tried to delete the files on Mutants, just the right vibe for X-Men.  I’m looking forward to more from this arc and I can say the X-men are finally Uncanny again.  I would recommend this issue and last then ask your local comic shop to hold the rest for you as well.  I rate this issue 5 out of 5 Sentinels for sure, so as always read on and Excelsior! 

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