Wednesday, August 31, 2011

REVIEW: Justice League #1


I’m writing this splitting my attention between the book itself and the poster that DC passed out free to fans with its bold “Holding the Line at $2.99” slogan, and glaring with dissatisfaction at the $3.99 cover price for this book that brought me out at 12:01 am to pick up. I’m sure I have more than a few friends who will hear that I didn’t like Justice League #1 and say “Well, that’s to be expected”, after all, I’m pretty much a Marvel Boy through and through. But let me be clear: I WANTED to like this book…in fact, I wanted to LOVE this book. I wanted to get excited by what DC served up in their flagship offering for their new continuity…but what they served up was a small sliver of a story wrapped in beautiful art.

The cover of the book SAYS “Justice League”…the cover of the book SHOWS the Justice League…however, the book I paid freakin $4 for doesn’t have a Justice League to be seen anywhere within its 24 pages.

Maybe I’ve been spoiling myself by spending so much time reading Silver Age comics lately, but those books knew how to tell stories that were both satisfying and engaging AND made you feel like you got your money’s worth. I guess some small part of me believed that DC was serious about getting new readers and would take a page or two from the storytelling methods of the classics and apply them with modern day sensibility…I was wrong. It's a fact that when you opened the pages of "Fantastic Four" #1 that there was no Fantastic Four, but when you closed the cover of the book, there was a Fantastic Four. The same can be said about the X-Men, the Avengers, the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans...the list goes on and on. Unlike what Marvel was working with back in the 1960s, DC had the advantage of almost everyone in the world already knowing who Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, et al are. They don't need an entire issue introducing two characters to the audience and to each other. If you want a slow burn origin, wait until the second story arc...or the second issue. DC had captured the attention of the entire comic buying populace with this issue and they wasted all that anticipation by putting out 24 pages of water-treading.

This book is essentially a glib, Buffy-esque conversation between Batman and Green Lantern (arguably DC’s two most popular heroes), thinly disguised as a battle in, under, and above the streets of Gotham City. It’s the first meeting of these two, taking place “Five Years Ago”. They don’t know each other, and they don’t like each other much either. Justice League is extremely light on dialogue and heavy on Jim Lee’s art which serves as a distraction to keep you from realizing that there’s actually nothing below the surface.

And while I realize that this is a whole new DC Universe, and that we need to forget what we know/think we know about the heroes that are familiar to us, I think even a brand new reader off the streets would look at some of this and think “That doesn’t make any damn sense!” I’m talking specifically about page 13…Gotham City is burning, but Green Lantern has “Got that Under Control” as green firetrucks constructed by the Green Lantern ring are dispatched all over putting the fires out…because…apparently the Green Lantern Ring can now make actual water too? If that’s NOT a new function of the ring then it’s one I can’t say I ever remember seeing, and if these rings can now actually create elements then…well…I don’t think we actually NEED 51 other heroes. Only slightly less ridiculous than the Green Water constructs that actually function like water is the Green Ring Construct force field on page 9 that comes complete with Green Ring S.W.A.T. team members holding up Green Ring Constructed shields. I think a Green Bubble would have probably sufficed…

As I said, Green Lantern and Batman are arguably the most popular heroes in the DC Comics stable, and with that in mind, it almost makes sense that the focus be on this pair…but in a book that’s called “Justice League”, I wanted to read about the Justice League. And I didn’t get to do that…and I won’t get a chance to next month, or the month after either since the only thing “Justice League” #1 actually showed me was that my money is better spent somewhere else.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

From The Top: X-Men #3



Quickly now, what's the difference between fat people now, and fat people in the Sixties?



If you answered: Fat people now ride around Walmarts in scooters whereas in the 1960's they worked as sideshow freaks at carnivals, you may be correct. Witness if you will the blubbery madness that would now be blocking you from picking up that single item you went to the store for as the spill off their Rollaround in...



X-Men #3 - January 1964.





The X-men are once again at it in their Danger Room, honing their skills and showing off for their mentor, the great dick head known as Professor X. This time they're shooting bags of sawdust at Cyclops who's trying to deflect them with his eye-beam. Not only do we discover in this scene that Cyclops real name is 'Scott', but we also get the never to be mentioned again information that Beast is allergic to sawdust.



After Cyclops is done, it's Marvel Girl's turn. The subtext is painfully clear: Xavier hates women. Apparently he feels Jean talks too much and is one step away from having to take off her x-boots and spend her time making the boys x-sandwiches in the x-kitchen since by the end of Page 3 of the book he's told her to shut-up twice.



The second time may have been excusable though as he was getting some kind of mental tickle in the back of his dickhead brain telling him that there was a new mutant on the loose. He then tells his X-Men to go get ready to hit the streets and find this new mutant before he or she becomes a threat.



On their way out of the mansion, Jean (being the submissive female of the sixties that she is) feels that the Professor looks pensive and tells him not to worry about them (remember, this is the guy who stopped short of slapping her across the face and telling her to keep her whore mouth closed a page before) which provides the opening for this creepy pedo moment:





What happens next my friends is neither a shining example of super-heroics or humanity as the X-men venture aruond town before finding a big fat man working as a sideshow freak at a carnival and deciding that he is their new mutant. After coercion doesn't work, the X-Men basically try to bully the Blob back to their school to be examined by Xavier. Actually, bully may be a bit of an understatement. Cyclops uses his eye beam to shoot the Blob into a wood burning stove. I think that's actually assault.



Luckily, the Blob's mutant power of fatness prevents him from being hurt, and yes, I suppose that the Blob does eventually agree to go on his own free will (after seeing Jean), but it's really pretty clear the X-Men wouldn't have just shook his hand and left if he was adamant about NOT going.



Once they get him back to the mansion, Xavier pokes him and prods him until he's satisfied that Blob is in fact a mutant, and then offers him a place with the X-Men. Blob refuses and the X-Men then decide that saying "No" is unacceptable and stop him from leaving.





Now, bullying wasn't a crime in the 1960's, and I'm not sure if coercion was, but I'm pretty damned sure that both kidnapping and false imprisonment were both HIGHLY against the law back then. Luckilly, the X-Men are no match for the Blob and he's able to escape...through a manhole...





Yeah, apparently manholes were a LOT bigger back in 1960's...




Blob gets back to the carnival and Xavier flips his shit over the fact that Blob turned him down and knows where they live. Blob is angry that he was kidnapped and imo and kick the gprisoned (falsely) by the X-Men, so he gathers up his carney pals to go and kick their asses. As they're gathering up their forces, Angel flies overhead and they try to shoot him out of the sky (gee, I wonder why...). Angel runs home to tell his dickhead mentor who is at work on a device of some sort and as Angel goes to warn his teammates, the Blob's forces make their first move by having a giraffe stick his head in a window and eat Iceman's ice-cream sundae.





What ensues is hilarity as the X-men engage the Blob and his carnival flunkies on the front lawn of their school (that apparently has no nearby neighbors), and Professor X continues to fiddle away on his device. Just as it seems that the X-Men are defeated and the Blob will...well...do something awful to Xavier, the team rallies together for one last attack and when Xavier is sure that the Blob and his carny henchmen are at the lowest point of being able to mentally resist him, he uses the device he's been building for the past several pages to boost his mental powers and wipe the memories of all their enemies.


So...yeah...bullying, assault, coercion, kidnapping, false imprisonment...all within the span of 24 pages, with a mental gang rape as the cherry on top. Welcome to the world of the X-men making their own problems for themselves. Over the course of the next 50 years of issues, The Blob goes from being a simple fat man who makes his living at a carnival to becomming one of their most famous recurring foes. He ends up throwing in with a variety of super-villian groups committing crimes along the lines of attempting to assassinate a United States Senator (and presidential candidate), all because the X-Men acted like a bunch of dickwads the first time they encountered him.



Way to go team...way to go...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From The Top - X-Men #2

What comes after #1? That feeling of satisfaction and readiness for another beer...or, you know...

X-Men #2 - November1963





Like I said when I covered the first issue, I'm doing these reviews fully knowing that they're stories composed in the 1960's for a 1960's audience, but looking at them with a modern 'sensibility'. There wasn't too much about #1 that seemed completely ridiculous given the passage of time, but that completely changes with this issue. In fact, I kind of wish I could have been a 12 year old boy in 1963 reading this when it was first released because let me tell ya, this one just does NOT stand the test of time.

Last issue introduced readers to the X-Men, their mentor Charles Xavier, and their enemy, Magneto. This issue introduces a new villain called The Vanisher. Like the X-Men, the Vanisher is a mutant, but his powers don't necessarily match up with his name. His powers are teleportation, the ability to travel from place to place in the blink of an eye (think: Nightcrawler). I suppose "The Teleporter" was a bit too on the nose, and the "Vanisher and Reappearer" was a bit too much of a mouthful (fun future trivia fact - sometime later The Vanisher's real name was revealed to be...get this...Teleford Porter. So eventually 'on the nose' went out the window). Also interesting is the fact that only once in the issue are the Vanisher's powers referred to as 'teleporting', but repeatedly throughout the book another mutant's powers are called 'teleportation'. Observe:



Yup, several times throughout the issue Marvel Girl's telekinesis is called 'teleportation'. You may also note that Angel calls Professor X "Dr. X" in that panel, but that's a one off so far...

Anyway, the issue begins an undisclosed time after issue #1 ends, with the X-Men out doing 'something' and getting summoned home by Xavier. Xavier introduces them to the threat of The Vanisher who has been making the newscasts after telling a couple of cops he's going to rob a bank, going to the bank, stealing the money, and then teleporting out. It's cute, but hardly something that really screams "OH MY GOD! This is the next Magneto!" After all, there's a bit of a difference between robbing a bank and attacking a millitary missile silo, right? Probably even in the sixties there was a difference, don't you think?


Still, the Vanisher's robbery was enough to make Xavier think that his X-Men need to get involved so he once again puts them through their paces in the Danger Room. Meanwhile, the Vanisher reappearas in "a locked, heavily-guarded conference room" in the Pentagon where a couple of officers are looking over the United States' Continental Defense Plans. He doesn't actually *steal* the plans, but rather he tells the officers that he's going to steal them...in a couple of days. Oh, and he adds that there's absolutely nothing they can do to stop him...


This gets the attention of FBI Agent Fred Duncan who apparently has a brain apparatus that allows him to contact Xavier at pre-arranged times. Duncan tells Xavier what transpired at the Pentagon to which Xavier replies "I suspected that might be his likely next move!" Wait...what? You suspected that he was going to teleport into the Pentagon and taunt the army that he was going to steal the United States' Continental Defense Plans in a few days? I call bullshit Professor. Also, when did the X-Men become FBI Agents? I don't remember that happening in the previous issue...it's actually a neat little sub-plot that goes absolutely nowhere until it's brought up again in abotu 40 issues or so when it promptly goes nowhere again.


Anyway, Xavier gathers up his team and they fly off to Washington DC to try and stop The Vanisher. What happens next is just...so out there that I'll let the panels from the comic speak for themselves:





If that looks to you like the ultra-secret plans are sitting on the top of a desk all by themselves with four men holding tommy-guns surrounding it, you're right. Despite having a few days worth of warning (from the Vanisher himself) that he was going to steal the plans, (and that there was NOTHING that could stop him...)the security at the Pentagon did absolutely NOTHING to stop him. Considering how this actually went down, I've concoted a small list of things the Pentagon *could* have done to stop him:



1.) Hide the plans
2.) Lock the plans in a safety deposit box or wall safe
3.) Shuffle the plans into other papers and ...fuck it.


You know what the Pentagon could have done to stop the Vanisher from stealing those plans?


ANYTHING OTHER THAN LEAVE THEM ON TOP OF A DESK IN A BRIEFCASE.


Anyway, there's a small fight outside the Pentagon where Marvel Girl plays hot potato with the plans because the Vanisher decided it'd be more fun to teleport outside and taunt the X-Men instead of just going home...and basically the X-Men look like a bunch of amatuers when the Vanisher escapes.


Our team of heroes return home, being decried as failures in the press. There's a scene of people on the street corner reading the newspaper and talking about how the X-men are a bunch of phoneys and how they're so scared of the Vanisher that they're going to leave town because there's no idea what he'll do next...


That's when the TV news people (as if on cue) announce that the Vanisher has decided that he'll ransom the super-secret plans back to the United States for....drumroll please....


TEN MILLION DOLLARS...tax free.


Yup, he want's Ten Million Dollars...tax free. I'm assuming that prior to this the Vanisher was on a game show or something and won a new car or a crap load of money only to then be told that before he could claim his prize that he needed to pay the applicable taxes, and had to walk out of the studio empty handed. Either that or a year had actually passed between the beginning of this issue and the page where he made his demands and he discovered that by claiming the money he robbed from the bank that he was now in a new tax bracket and had to pay more in taxes...something I guess because the very specific demand was "Ten Million Dollars...tax free" or else the communists get the plans.


The X-men are doing some homework on their enemy when this demand comes across the TV and...you know, I bet tehy could have booby trapped the breifcase with a landmine or something, so when he picked it up the briefcase would have exploded...Professor X contacts the FBI guy telling him that the X-Men will be at the prearranged location to meet the Vanisher when he comes for his money. The FBI readily agree since the X-Men did such a stellar job of stopping the Vanisher the first time and as we saw earlier, they're not really willing to do much of anything at all to stop this guy themselves.


So the X-Men, this time joined by their leader, meet the Vanisher and his small army of underworld goons on the lawn of the White House in what is certain to be the most anti-climactic ending of all time. The Vanisher asks where his money is, and he's confronted by Xavier himself.





Xavier then uses his telepathy to make the Vanisher forget he has the power to teleport. In fact, he makes the Vanisher forget who he even is. Dude completely freaks out and begs the X-Men to help him. Xavier reassures his team that the Vanisher can no longer threaten them, and they then make handy work of his human henchmen. Presumably at some point one of the X-Men recover the plans that caused all of this drama (they don't bother showing that though...), and the issue ends with this happy thought:



Gee, thanks...dick. You could have done that back on page 15 and saved your X-Men a little face in the public eye, and maybe even given the public a little piece of mind.

Asshole...

...and that brings this look back at X-Men #2 to a close. I'd like to say that things get better with the next issue, but...well...there's a giraffe in it that threatens the team. And not even a mutant giraffe either...so if that intrigues you at all, be here in a couple of days when I turn my attention towards the story that's called "Beware The Blob!"


Sunday, August 21, 2011

From the Top: X-Men #1


For those of you who know me, you know I put myself on a mission to complete an entire run of Marvel's X-Men series from 1963. I'm less than a handful of issues away, so I figure: If I have them, I might as well read them, right? And if I'm reading them, I might as well talk about them, eh? Nothing like starting from the beginning and working your way through classic comic books from over nearly the last 50 years and talking about them with modern day sensibility and my twisted cynical view of just about anything, eh?

So we'll start at the very beginning, the book that started it all (well, the book that started things relating to Marvel Comics' X-Men at least):

The X-Men #1 (Cover Date: September 1963)



For comic book fans, that cover is one of the most iconic images from the Silver Age, and while it may not command the values associated with Fantastic Four #1; Amazing Fantasy #15; or DC's Showcase #4, X-Men #1 is perhaps one of the most important and influential comics from its time (although no one would probably realize that for about 15 years or so).

What's interesting though is how that cover has changed over the years. Compare the original cover above to the recreated cover that pops up in collected editions and reprinted versions of the book:



See the difference? You may not at first, at least not what I'm talking about. The addition of the grass is nice, as it helps to give the X-men somewhere to actually *be* during their fight with Magneto, but what I'm actually referring to is Marvel Girl, and her place on the cover. On the original, Jean Grey is standing behind her male teammates in a pose that really doesn't convey anything specific. She's certainly not joining in the full on assault against Magneto's force bubble, but she's not really running in terror either. She's just hanging back, looking like she's extremely uncertain of herself, and maybe even a little afraid. Now compare that to the lower, remastered image. The artist has now added a force blast coming from Jean's head. Whether this was intentionally done to make her look more worthwhile, or if it was simply to add color to the new cover, I don't know. But considering that Jean "Marvel Girl" Grey ended up becoming the single most powerful member of the team about 100 issues after this was published, it only seems fitting that Jean is given a powerful pose on this debut cover (albeit retroactively).

The entire issue is amazing from a retro perspective, knowing what this comic will result in decades later, but perhaps the most entertaining image from this book is right on the first page...


Even with my crappy photography (any guesses which is the only picture in this entry that's a web grab, and NOT taken by my camera?) you should be able to make out Professor Xavier sitting in an empty room, and then the X-Men appearing in front of him. For some reason that is never explained in this issue or any other, Iceman decides to make himself a stripper pole and do a few twirls around it for Xavier. And people wonder why some fans suspect Iceman of being gay...

Speaking of things that seems a little bit gay, you can't help but find it a little odd that this bald wheelchair bound guy brings a quartet of teenage boys to live with him and be at his beck and call (while wearing spandex suits...), especially when the first thing they do after rushing to him is this:




"Sure Professor, we'll get you all nice and reclined and cover you with a blanket from the waist down right before we start doing all sorts of acrobatics and exercising in our nice spandex suits..." seriously, the Family Guy parody here almost writes itself.

Thankfully, Marvel Girl arrives at the school a few pages later and all of the X-Men (except Iceman...homo) stare at her out the window.

When Jean comes in and wonders what kind of school this is (because, as was so often the case in the 1960's, parents shipped their daughters off to a currently all-boy boarding school without telling them what the deal was at an alarming basis), and Xavier explains that his school is one for Mutants, humans born with unique abilities. As it turns out, Jean has a special power! She can move objects with her mind...her telekinesis is used to take a book off a shelf and turn the pages, and then replace it on the shelf (all described in a excruciating exposition, as if seeing a book float off a shelf, to jean, flip open in mid-air, and then return itself to the shelf wasn't self evident enough...should I explain it again?). And to save a little face, Xavier also works in the less than believable explanation that the X-Men are named for their "eXtra abilities"...apparently that his name is Xavier, and starts with an X, and he's an egomaniac that likes to be surrounded by teenagers in spandex with his initial on their belt buckles, plays absolutely NO role in the name of the team at all...(coughLIARcough).

The rest of the issue is pretty much straightforward. It seems like the whole thing takes place in a matter of minutes, but there's definitely some wiggle room for later writers to go in a play with working some 'in between the pages' story lines.

For example, Jean arrives at the school, tries on her uniform, and then a page later when Xavier is briefing them on Magneto, she thinks to herself "I've never seen the Professor look so grim before!" if it wasn't for the later reworking of these early stories, your reaction should very well be: "well of course you haven't you stupid bitch, you've only seen him once before!"

Speaking of Magneto...he attacks a missile base using his magnetic powers. Stan Lee, who wrote this book, certainly either didn't understand how magnetism works, or was under the impression that it can do anything and everything, since as we saw in this issue (and a few more between here and issue #20), Magneto can use his magnetism to work every trick in the book.

Of course the X-Men save the day and Magneto is 'defeated' (he runs away, and the X-Men consider that 'good enough'). The army personnel who are rescued by the team vow to always consider the X-Men heroes...we'll see if they keep that promise once Mutant hysteria starts to run rampant across the globe.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Marvel's Reprint Snafu

Last night on Twitter, Marvel Comics editor (and all around great guy) Tom Brevoort questioned DC's choices of reprinted material in some of their recent books. I replied that Marvel had a much bigger eff-up in one of their recent books. Just recently, Mr. Brevoort asked why I thought the example I gave was so bad. In an attempt to circumvent Twitter's 160 character limit, here's my reply (hopefully he reads it):

In X-Men: Legacy (the book that can do NO wrong due to short-scribe Mike Carey) #250, Marvel chose to reprint New Mutants (vol.1) #26 to, presumably, introduce new readers to the character Legion. This story was part one of a three part story (or maybe four parts...). The original issue had a "To be continued" tag on the last panel. Not content to just reprint the issue, Marvel added a new tagline on the bottom of the page reading, specifically: "To be continued in New Mutants #27!"

By and large, this isn't that bad. A couple of year ago, Marvel put out a "Monster Sized" X-Men Christmas issue filled with reprinted material that was the first part of a multi-part story...the problem here is this: The reprinted issue was New Mutants #26 for volume 1 from the 80's. Marvel is currently publishing a new New Mutants series (volume 4 to be exact), and a handful of weeks after X-Men Legacy #250 was released with this story and the added "To Be Continued in New Mutants #27" tag, guess what was released? That's right, New Mutants (the current series) #27.

Any "new" reader who actually needed this issue reprinted and wanted to read the rest was not only NOT directed to a collected edition or anywhere they could read it, they were actually directed to a book that was going to be on sale currently 2 weeks later (or so...). And that new New Mutants #27 was the final part of a new multi-part story, didn't include Legion at all in the book, or have ANYTHING at all to do with the story reprinted in X-Men: Legacy.

Reprinting part of a multipart story isn't anything new for Marvel or DC, but actually ADDING directions to a book where there is current confusion between a 20+ year old book and one on sale in the present is a new and pretty spectacular screw-up in my opinion.
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What If...I got to write the X-Men?!?!


So, to recap: I’ve been reading X-Men for most of my life, blah blah blah…first issue bought was #183, blah blah blah…started collecting the entire run, blah blah blah…I’m very bad at recaps, especially when I don’t seem to have a massive audience or a library of material to draw from.

Anyway, not only am I 30 issues away from having a complete run of the 544 issue run of Uncanny X-Men (two issues of which haven’t even been released yet), I’m actually only 10 issues away (again, two of which haven’t even been released yet) from having every issue of Uncanny X-men that feature original material (in case I haven’t mentioned this anywhere: issues #67-93 contained reprinted material from previous issues). And not only do I OWN those 514 issues, I’ve actually read those 514 issues (along with countless issues of X-men vol. 2, X-Men vol.3, X-factor, Astonishing X-Men, New Mutants, etc. etc.). And along the way I’ve found myself thinking about what I would do if I was writing Marvel’s Merry Mutants.

The answer, of course, to *that* question is: tell the best stories I can given the direction that Marvel’s editorial staff wants to go in. However, as of late, I’ve found myself pondering the bigger question: What would I do if I had total creative freedom to plot the X-Men’s course in the books. So, if you’ve ever wondered what I would do if I were the creative voice behind the X-Men, this is the blog entry you’ve been waiting for!

First off, let’s look at the general problem surrounding the X-men. Their mission statement during the book’s heyday was: “Mutants! Sworn to Protect the World that Fears and Hates Them!” They were a super-hero team that was also a family, dealing with the day-to-day prejudice that the normal citizens of the Marvel Universe felt due to the fact that they were Homo-Superior, or mutants. However, along the way, the Mutant population of the Marvel Universe kept growing, as did the X-Men’s cast. A team that started out with 5 members soon became 7, then 14, and so on and so forth until you had about 100 or so mutants claiming membership in the X-Men by some form or another. And of course, given the familial aspect of the ‘team’, you rarely, if ever, had a member leave for any extended period of time.

Then the ‘Decimation’ came, where the total population of the Mutants in the world went from a few million down to roughly 200. Those 200 Mutants then formed their own Super-Powered version of Israel where they live together trying to build a homeland for their slowly going extinct species. This, right here, has lead to almost 5 years worth of shit stories that insist upon themselves for drama. Seriously, even the best X-Men stories for the most part are ridiculously plotted in order to make the reader actually think there’s a conflict when there’s not. Of the 7 of so X-men books right now, only two of them are really any good: X-Men Legacy, by Mike Carey; and Uncanny X-force, by Rick Remender. Those writers seem to understand the concept of focus and narrative. The others simply seem to plod along and rely more on long time reader habits rather than telling kick-ass stories (I’m sorry, but it’s true).

In November, Marvel will try to break this inbred little community up through a Schism, with Cyclops taking one team and Wolverine taking another, and then pitting them against each other in a pissing match over whose team is better. While this MAY work, and we MAY get consistently good X-Men stories across the board, you’re still dealing with stories that will basically insist upon themselves and rely mainly with inner-related tension.

So now we get to the meat of this post: What I’d do to fix this situation (were I in command of the X-Men’s plots):

Simply put: I’d get rid of the X-men.

Start with an issue focusing on Wolverine, returning to his post-Schism home from one of his Avengers related missions, only to find it deserted. There’d be a message from one of his lieutenants (preferably Rogue), letting him know that there was a huge emergency on Utopia (the Mutant Israel type place where Cyclops’ team is residing), and she took the team to help out.

Frustrated and also concerned, Wolverine takes off for Utopia, unable to reach his team or Scott’s. When he gets there, he finds it a ghost town. No one is there at all. He calls for Beast (another X-Man turned Avenger) who has no idea what’s happened. The two of them launch a top to bottom search of the island and find only the Seige Perilous as a clue as to what happened.

(The Seige Perilous is a mystical gateway that was originally entrusted to the X-men back in issue #227. It’s a doorway to another place and time where souls are judged. Those found worthy are elevated to a higher plane of existence. Those found unworthy are remade and sent back into new lives to try it again.)

Activating Cerebra, the X-Men’s mutant finding computer, they find a few contacts that they were expecting to find – Mutants unassociated with the X-men (such as Wolverine’s clone, X-23), and dozens of new ‘Locus Unknown’ contacts around the globe. Now Wolverine and Beast set out to discover these new unidentified Mutants. They would stumble upon Magento, now living with his daughter (Lorna Dane) in a peaceful life, not knowing who they were before. Others would also be ‘found’ (maybe even a wink-wink-nudge-nudge with Rogue working as a waitress in a dive restaurant in New Orleans), but they wouldn’t know who they were ‘supposed’ to be. Maybe even some of the human residents of Utopia (Kavita Rao and David Alleydyne) would have powers, whereas some of the former X-Mutants would be normal humans.

Your X-men would now be Wolverine, Beast, and X-23. You’ve still got Marvel’s main money maker from the franchise, an original member, and a fairly popular member from the newest generation. Also, as an added bonus, the origins/backstories to these characters are fairly straightforward and simple for new readers to understand.

The story would then go from there: Can Wolverine and his makeshift team make the reborn Mutants remember who they’re supposed to be? SHOULD they? People like Rachel Summers who comes from an alternate timeline where she had atrocities heaped upon her can now live like a normal young woman. Magneto was never a terrorist, doesn’t remember being a terrorist, and doesn’t remember the time he spent in a concentration camp. Surely some of these new/old X-Men would still be possessed with a heroic nature and join on their own accord, but which ones? And which former friends would decide to become villains in the new lives?

You also have renewed conflict from villains: The X-men are no more. What would a bad-ass like Mister Sinister do without the X-Men to stop him? And what happens when the general population learns that the mutants they feared when they were living together in one place, wholly identified, are now wearing new identities and amongst them?!? The deadliest of all mutants could be their co-worker, their next door neighbor, or even they themselves!!

It’s a reboot without being a reboot. It allows Marvel to start from scratch and tell fun and meaningful stories without having to retread and retreat all over the place. The X-Men stories that came before still happened and still have meaning, but going forward, writers wouldn’t have to work with being painted into a corner.

(and yes, in my mind, I know EXACTLY why the X-men and everyone else on Utopia went through the Seige Perilous, but the nature of the story to tell means that I probably wouldn’t ever have to tell that story. But if anyone is curious/cares, it involves a pissed off Lady Mastermind, and a Malice infected Danger).

…ahhhh, if only this dream could become a reality…

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Comic Review 8/17/11




To say I've dogged Kierion Gillen since he's taken over the writing chores on Uncanny X-Men might be an understatement. He's blocked me from Twitter as a result of my critiques (that might be a bit harsh when you limit them to 160 characters or less). But to be fair, the man is writing two of Marvel's X-Men books, and they've both sucked horribly thus far. Generation Hope is Marvel's latest attempt to publish a comic about the latest generation of Mutants, and Uncanny X-Men is, of course, Marvel's flagship book in the mutant/X-Men franchise. The former has just been bad, and I can't blame anyone but Gillen for this since he's been the writer since issue #1. Uncanny X-Men, well...that's a different story for another day (expect an epiteth for the book when the final issue comes out in November...)

The X-Books as a whole have been rather bad lately, the only bright shining spot in the bunch has been X-men Legacy, written by Mike Carey. Outside of that book, the titles pretty much insist upon themselves to create drama and carry the narrative along, and some days I feel like I'm buying them more out of habit than enjoyment. However, this week's New Comics Purchase was limited to three X-Men titles, all of which I greatly enjoyed (and when that enjoyment is bolstered by pleasant surprise, well...it's just even better).

First up is Uncanny X-Men #542. This is the third part of the book's tie in to the big massive company wide "Fear Itself" crossover (that I'm virtually ignoring), and pits our merry mutants against The Juggernaut who gets his powers from one angry evil God like creature, and has in the plot of the crossover (I guess) sworn himself to another angry evil God like creature. In a way, the story almost writes itself I guess, when you look at it that way, making it hard for Gillen to screw it up by having the characters act like complete mental invalids like he has up until this point. Still, even knowing how this would turn out, the execution is damn near flawless, leaving you absolutely okay with paying $4 for a story that you pretty much knew you knew months ago.

Then there's X-Men Schism #3, the mini series that will end the long running Uncanny X-Men and hopefully the aforementioned insistence upon itself that the X-Books are suffering from. After an astounding first issue and a somewhat troubling second issue, this third installment sets the narrative back on track and begins to clearly define what will be the overall conflict of the Schism. I have to hand it to writer Jason Aaron: after reading this book, the surprise ending was telegraphed all the way back in issue #1, but I never saw it coming until it actually happened. I just hope that the wretched little children weren't victims of the mass slaughter that ended the book...

And following on Schism #3's footsteps is Generation Hope #10, also written by Kierion Gillen. This is a book that has sucked worse than any book I've read in just about forever (so much so that I've only purchased a total of 3 out of the 10 issues). This book is just BAD. Last month they tried to do an X-Men installment of "It Gets Better" and as the guy who still gets goosebumps every time I see that Google/It Gets Better commercial, I found the book laughably awful. I ONLY decided to buy this AFTER reading Schism #3 to see how bad it would be and if it would make me retroactively not like Schism #3 as much as I did...and in fact, it did the opposite. Not only is this the first GOOD issue in this title, it also makes the book that spawned it, Schism #3, a BETTER book because of it.

All three of these books are winners in my mind. After coming out of an extremely decadent and indulgent spend-fest at Chicago Comic Con, I was hesitant to buy ANY new comics this week, but after picking up these three books, I'm very, very glad I did.