Friday, April 30, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 10: Revenge of Weapon X Preview

While X-men may be going strong with Second Coming, there's still always room for X-men fanfiction. The next issue of X-men Supreme is just a week away and here is a quick preview of what you can expect.

Rogue’s demeanor shifted. Logan hit on a touchy issue for her and wasn’t very subtle about it either. She was well aware that her powers would make intimacy difficult if not impossible if she was to get serious with Scott. There was only so far they could go without touching. She kept hoping that Hank or the Professor would come up with something to help her. But she hoped it came soon. Being cut off like this was very hard at times.

“That’s something Ah’m still working on with the Professor,” she sighed, “It’s a touchy issue that Ah don’t like to dwell on, but since you were so kind to remind meh Ah’m gonna need another cigarette.”

“You’re welcome,” he said with a wolfish grin as he finished his drink.

“And you’re a prick,” said Rogue snidely as she reached for another cigarette, “What the hell does Jean see in you anyways?”

“Hell if I know, but she sure doesn’t seem to mind. You should have seen the last dress she wore for me.”

“Maybe she just wears that stuff to shut you up.”

“If you want to test that theory by all means,” he said with a dirty grin, “I’m sure Scott won’t mind if you let him in on it.”

Rogue rolled her eyes and groaned as she lit another cigarette. Logan was not an easy person to have a conversation with even with cigarettes.

“Remind meh never to absorb you. The last thing Ah want is a taste of that charmin’ personality of yours.”

Logan sighed and shook his head as he gazed distantly out into the stormy skies.

“Trust me, Rogue, you don’t want to absorb me,” he told her, “There’s a lot of messed up shit floatin’ around in my head. Hell, I don’t even remember most of it. The last thing you want is…”

Then suddenly, Logan stopped in mid-sentence. His expression immediately changed. His face contorted into a mesh of focused rage. It was the same look he had that night he had been out with Jeannie. He thought he picked up a scent and it just happened to be the one scent that could trigger this sudden surge of anger. But this time he wouldn’t have to chase it. This time it was coming to him.

“What is it, Logan?” said Rogue, picking up on his demeanor, “The booze finally get to you or…”

“Get inside!” growled Logan.

“Why? What…”

But Logan didn’t wait for her to finish. He threw his glass aside, grabbed her by the arm, and literally pushed her back inside the manor.

“I said get inside! Warn the Professor! We’re about to have some unwelcome company!”

Before Rogue could ask any more questions, Logan growled menacingly and drew his claws. Then with predatory fervor, he ran into the empty darkness ahead of him. His senses were on full alert. The scent was getting stronger this time. It had all the signs of a full frontal assault. And he wasn’t going to wait for it to come to him. Sabretooth may have gotten the better of him last time, but he wasn’t going to let it happen again.

“CREED!” he roared out into the night, “I’m coming for you, furball! This time you’re mine!”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Second Coming: X-Force #26 - Bloody and Awesome

The wave of awesome just keeps coming with X-men Second Coming. This past week the fifth part in the crossover was released and Marvel has been teasing that this is where a major character dies. Some will recall that someone already died in the previous issue, Ariel, but that wasn't a character that would send shockwaves through the X-men universe. The emotional loss in this story doesn't just send shockwaves. It sends a comet of awesome into the furthest depths of the ocean and kicks up a tsunami so rich with awesome that people and animals would line up as the shores just to be overtaken by it.

Like all the previous parts, X-Force #26 moved seamlessly from the previous issue of X-men Legacy. Once again, it's worth pointing out how smooth these transitions are. This is a new standard in crossovers where the move from one issue to another feels so easy it might as well be named it's own book. For all we know that's what the Marvel writers intended all along. I would be willing to bet a steak dinner that this was proposed, but thrown out for cost cutting measures (keep in mind they're on Disney's dollar now). Whatever they intended, the finished product is truly uncanny.

The action picks up just after the X-men's communication link with Utopia was shut down by Bastion. This leaves Cable and the rest of the Alpha team to fight off Bastion's forces while Nightcrawler and Rogue try to get Hope to Utopia as fast as possible. The action is very well scripted for the Alpha Team. The readers are even treated to the always popular Fastball Special, only this time it involves Psylocke launching X-23 towards a flying fighter jet. It is essentially a case study proving that anything that is well-done by men can be made infinitely hotter when performed by two hot women.

While the Alpha Team fights on, Nightcrawler and Rogue come face to face with Bastion himself in Las Vegas. It seems appropriate that a guy as evil as Bastion would launch his attack in a place nicknamed "Sin City." The fight that ensues is epic. Rogue, flushed with the powers of pretty much every X-men she could find, took on Bastion and beat on him in ways that would make Mystique herself proud. But Bastion being Bastion does like many Las Vegas hookers and not go down easily. He is able to fight off Rogue despite all her power and go for Hope. Her response? She tries to hit him over the head with a metal pipe. That's basically as effective as one would expect it to be. In other words it was stupendously stupid.

That's when it happens. Just as Bastion goes for Hope, Nightcrawler makes his move. He teleports to her and in the process Bastion picks up on it. He ends up appearing between him and Hope with Bastion's arm sticking right through his body. It essentially confirms what Marvel has done a piss poor job keeping secret. Nightcrawler is the one to die.

It's a powerful moment. The man who criticized Cyclops the most for his tactics with X-Force ends up making the ultimate sacrifice. He in this one panel shows that his balls are bigger than even Cyclops could ever dream. It's the kind of badassery that makes Emma Frost's panties wet. But Nightcrawler wasn't done. Despite having a freakin' ARM lodged in his torso, he takes a page straight from Braveheart and summons the strength he needs to teleport Hope away from Bastion and onto the shores of Utopia. Hope is understandably moved and probably turned on as much as Emma would have been (she is 17 after all).

What happens next is a tribute to the art of Mark Choi. The X-men return to Utopia and gather around the rescued Hope, only to see that they've lost one of their own. It's one of those moments in comics where no words or dialogue is needed. Everything is conveyed in the expressions of the characters. It's the ultimate "nuff said" moment. It's a fitting way to end the fight to get Hope back to Utopia and with the X-men.

RIP Nightcrawler. You are truly an X-man worthy of badass legend.

But as awesome and heartfelt as Nightcrawler's sacrifice was, this does lead to some plot holes in the issue. For one, most X-fans know that Nightcrawler's teleportation range is two miles. He can't go further than that. Yet suddenly with an arm lodged in his chest he can go from Vegas to Utopia, which is hundreds of miles away in San Francisco bay? That may be very awesome, but it's also stretching the fabric of comic reality. There were also some holes in the time that's been elapsed. How did the team link up so quickly? The time flow is messed up a bit here and it's not as smooth as previous issues.

Those criticisms, however, are completely eclipsed by the sheer awesome of the issue as a whole. Craig Kyle and Chris Yost keep the Second Coming awesomeness going full throttle and their X-Force style blends perfectly with the events in this crossover. It basically took them five issues to get Hope from Westchester to Utopia. They probably could have spent the whole crossover doing this, but they made it just as long as it needed to be. Now comes the next step. They have Hope. Now what?

I've still been disappointed thus far that nobody has commented how Hope looks like another redhead they know and love and shares her dress sense. Now that the fighting as stopped, maybe they'll finally bring it up. They better because that would be a plot hole big enough to drive a fleet of Hummers through. There is also the aftermath of Nightcrawler's death they have to deal with. How will they cope? What will this do to the team? It leaves so much to look forward to that readers may have a heart attack from the awesome that now clogs their system.

Overall, this issue gets yet another 5 out of 5, a 10 out of 10, and an A-plus. Second Coming isn't just starting out strong. It's starting out flawlessly. If it were a diamond it would be on display in a museum and Ocean's Eleven would have stolen it by now. That's how great it is. Bring on the next part! Second Coming is still awesome and is shaping up to be the best X-men story in a long time. Nuff said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Losers is a Winner But Not By Much

Of the many comic book movies to get adapted for the big screen, the Losers was somewhat of an unknown. This comic, published by Vertigo, was not a heavily followed ongoing series and it certainly wasn't as critically acclaimed as other major titles like Watchmen and V for Vendetta. However, the Losers still had plenty of merit to make itself a movie and the end result is as enjoyable as anyone could hope for.

The main appeal to this movie is the heavy blend of over-the-top action and humor. There are raging gun battles and crazy explosions all throughout the movie in addition to some funny moments that balance out the destruction. In the middle of it all there is still a plot. Five soldiers are framed in an operation in Bolivia that left over 20 innocent children dead. The one who orchestrated this setup, Max, is a shady and obsessively evil arms dealer with ties to the CIA. So the five men go into hiding and have to rely on a mysterious and sexy woman, Aisha, to help them get back into the country and get their revenge on Max.

The plot is simple and so are the details. Nobody needs to be a reader of the comics to appreciate what's going on and nobody needs to be much of a comic fan to enjoy it. The explosions and battles are all well developed and there are even a few twists and turns towards the end that will keep viewers on their toes. There are some witty one-liners to remember and some nice shots of scantily clad women. All around it's full of mindless fun.

That also happens to be one of the movie's shortcomings. As fun as it is, the plot and the action are pretty mindless at times. There isn't a whole lot of depth to the characters or the plot. There aren't a lot of personal elements to really give the story a human touch and at times the story is pretty choppy. There are also some notable plot holes at the end that will leave some viewers scratching their heads and with no resolution it feels incomplete.

Overall, the Losers is still a fun movie. It's not the best comic adaptation by a long shot and it's not the best action movie by a longshot either. But it's still enjoyable and helps wet the appetite for Iron Man 2. It gets a 2.5 out of 5 and worthy praise for doing what it sets out to do.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dissecting the Relationship of Jean Grey and Wolverine

The content of this post is actually lifted form a post I made on a message board a while back. I thought it was poignant to post here as well because it covers a topic that is currently an ongoing issue in X-men Supreme and it is also a major issue of a current comics, X-men Forever Annual #1. The nature of this relationship has always been a source of contention in the comics so it's unavoidable for anyone who is trying to make a new X-men series. Here's my thoughts on this subject.

Among the most famous and probably most controversial pairings has to be Wolverine and Jean Grey. I've noticed there are a few notable Jean/Logan websites. It's a pretty popular pairing in the annuls of X-men. It became a central theme of the X-men movies. So naturally, I've used this pairing extensively in my X-men Supreme series so far. In doing so I've confronted something that has been bothering me for years now.

The romance between Jean Grey and Wolverine has been by far the most mishandled, misconstrued, and at times destructive pairing in the history of X-men. I know that's saying a lot, but given how long this plot has been used I think we can objectively say it ranks right up there. I've never come across a comic book couple that has such ardent detractors and die-hard supporters. As a fan in general, I think it's one of those "good on paper" type ideas that just was so poorly fleshed out that it's become an open scab throughout the story of the X-men. Part of the problem was how it started. Chris Claremont originally had Logan attracted to Jean Grey because he just soured on Cyclops and Jean Grey. He has gone on record as saying he completely despised the Scott/Jean romance after what happened with Madelyn Pryor and had he stayed on board, he would have broken them up and put Jean with Logan. He's already shown this in his X-men Forever series. It was one of the many reasons he split with the editors at the time. I think this sort of sets the tone because it wasn't so much done because these characters complimented each other. It was done more so as a foil to the Scott/Jean romance. That just really doesn't work. That would be akin to being a soccer fan just because you hate American football.

As a result, Logan and Jean's attraction was made to be really spotty. There were moments like Xtinction Agenda and Inferno where they kissed, but Jean pushed away. Then there were later moments like in Morrison where the kissing was mutual, but coupled with Jean lamenting over her love for Scott. The movies played this up even more by not just having Logan be the anti-Scott, but by having the part of Jean that was attracted to him be the darker part that became Phoenix. That really doesn't fall in line with her character and it speaks poorly of Logan's influence not just on her, but on everybody he's close to. In both cases it's always the same. There's an unrequited love between them. Logan loves Jean, but Jean doesn't love him in the same way and the man she does love is a man Logan can't stand. This sort of angle is good for a few plots, but it has been dragged out for so long over the years that it's not just old. It's destructive to their characters.

I look at X-men Forever as the best example. In this Chris Claremont clearly wanted them together now that no editors were in his way. But he couldn't undo the depth and complexity of the relationship Jean had with Scott, much of which he himself built up. The only way to make it happen was to force it and that just destroyed the elements of each character. It made Jean come off as a cheating skank and Logan come off as some overly emotional pretty boy when he's supposed to be the ultimate loner. This highlights the main stumbling block to their affairs. Logan and Jean are really made to compliment each other in the proper context. X-men Forever just thrust them together through sheer editorial force. Other mediums like the movies, Ultimate X-men, and the Earth X series put them together without any real depth. It was all just attraction that was pulled out of the air and used as a plot device. At no point was any effort made to really let it happen naturally as has been done with other successful pairings. The only instance I can cite that really made a serious effort to show their chemistry was Age of Apocalypse. That's where their romance was built around their respective characters and plot. It felt natural as it emerged and it was a good dramatic element to the underlying story. That's been the lone exception and I can't contemplate too many other areas where it has been done quite as well.

Now I know there are some who are completely disgusted by Jean and Logan as a pairing. That's perfectly fair. People can have their own tastes. Some hate it just because they love Scott and Jean so much better or they prefer Logan with someone else. My position is that any pairing can be made to work if it's done properly. And Jean/Logan has almost never been done properly. It's almost always been detrimental to each character. It either makes Jean out to be a skank or it takes away some of the defining characteristics that make Logan who he is. That's why I've often dreaded seeing references to it in most comics. That is also why I'm often against Jean hooking up with Logan when she comes back in 616 because given how it's been handled, it has little chance of ending well. I can understand in some ways how these two would be drawn together. They do have serious chemistry. That attraction is not just physical. There is some emotional depth to it and they do have potential. It's just the kind of potential that's not easily realized.

I've tried to keep this in mind as I've written my X-men Supreme series. At the moment, I have Jean and Logan dating. There's no unrequited love or unspoken passion. They actually are boyfriend and girlfriend and they actually are dating as a real couple. It's an angle to the characters I haven't seen explored too often even in fanfiction. I wanted to set my series apart in that respect so I've made a concerted effort to flesh out the Jean/Logan romance while avoiding some of the mistakes I feel have been made in other mediums. I'm sure some of the Jean fans here will disapprove. I respect that. But this is something I feel should be addressed because it's been so mangled in so many other ways.

Right now I'm just 9 issues in and Jean and Logan have been together since issue 5. I'm still left with some questions about this apiring. Can it be done well? Has it been done well? Have I done an okay job with it on my end? Am I completely wrong on my assessment? If so, please tell me. I want to know what you think. Jean and Logan are both some of my all time favorite comic characters. I've often had a conflicted view of the romance plots they've endured and I think it's something that deserves to be discussed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 9: Off NIght Part 2 is LIVE!

X-men Supreme continues! I have updated this fanfiction series with the conclusion to the Off Night arc. You can read the conclusion to this two-part saga at the following link:

Issue 9: Off Night Part 2

This marks the end of my first multi-chapter arc, but I assure you it won't be the last. There are much bigger stories to come. In the meantime I urge each and every reader to post their feedback. X-men Supreme still has a lot of story to tell and it's just getting warmed up! Thank you and take care.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Second Coming: X-men Legacy #235 - Drama and Death

Another week has gone by and another chapter of Second Coming has arrived. This time it's Mike Carey's turn to flex his awesome and he does so in a way that would make a steroid abusing body builder enraged with envy. The story continues the tradition set up with the first issue, moving seamlessly from the previous installment with New Mutants and continuing into X-men Legacy. It actually feels so seamless that you could probably just call X-men Legacy something basic like Second Coming #4 and it would work just as well. That may not seem like much, but for anybody who has ever been caught up in these kinds of crossover's that's huge. It used to be a running gag that crossovers like this were akin to a bunch of lab rats running in all different directions through the same maze to get the same piece of cheese. For a series to be this coordinated is tantamount to seeing a mermaid riding a unicorn across a rainbow to a leprechauns pot of gold.

X-men Legacy has traditionally focused on Rogue as the main character and this issue certainly brings her into the picture. Her entrance feels natural since Cyclops and the Alpha team can't seem to track Hope and Cable anymore so they need to rely on Rogue, who seems to have a connection with Hope after she healed her in Messiah Complex. They use Ariel to teleport her to the action and they get right back on the trail of Hope and Cable, who are already hiding in the middle of nowhere as they so often have done.

While this is going on, the real action continues with the New Mutants as they battle Cameron Hodge. Karma was hurt at the end of the last issue and at Hodge's mercy. She is saved by Cannonball, but Hodge continues to show his douchebaggery by ramping up the assault. It ends up falling on Warlock to take down Hodge in a scene that is very satisfying to anybody who can't stop droning on about how inferior races are doomed to perish. It's like watching Hitler and the KKK get repeatedly disemboweled while they're forced to wear dresses and sing show tunes. Warlock hasn't had a lot of moments to shine up until this point, but he sure does here.

This is a big positive for the X-men, but that quickly gets washed out when Bastion deals the X-men another ace and shorts out Cerebro. Now Emma and the Cuckoos are blinded and the Alpha team is stuck going after Hope and Cable blind and dumb. As if Bastion weren't devious enough, he sends a fighter jet to bomb the Alpha Team's envoy and singes Wolverine and X-23 to the bone. He also kills Ariel, the teleporter who was supposed to be their escape plan. She's the first casualty in Second Coming and one of the few lowlights of this issue. For all the emphasis Cyclops put on mutant death, this one is brushed off pretty damn quickly. Even though Ariel is a lesser known character, it's forgotten faster than Ryan Leaf's pro football career. I expect more of Mike Carey here, but he more than makes up for it.

The Alpha team does find Hope and Cable just as the Purifiers are closing in and open up some much needed ass-kicking. This is where they end up having to make a hard decision. Bastion is tracking Hope by tracking Cable, whose techno-organic virus is essentially a neon sign blaring "I'M RIGHT HERE" to the very people looking to take Hope out. So the only way to protect Hope is to separate her from Cable. This leads to a very powerful moment between the two. Cable has rarely if ever let Hope out of her sight since she was a baby. For him to agree to this, he has to be desperate on a whole new level or possibly bat-shit from all the time traveling he's had to do.

After a brief debate, Hope agrees to go with Rogue and Nightcrawler. For added measure, Rogue powers up by absorbing as many mutant abilities as possible. By the end she looks so badass and tough she's practically a one woman army.

Need I say more? Given how much Mike Carey loves Rogue, it's only fitting she step up in this issue. It ends leaving Craig Kyle and Chris Yost a great opportunity for Logan, Cable, and the rest of X-Force to throw down and kick ass while Rogue and Kurt get Hope to safety.

There isn't much else to be said about how awesome this issue is. It continues the trend started by the previous three issues of being so cool there's next to nothing bad to report. If there is any worthy criticism it has to do with Ariel's death, which I already went over. There's also the matter of nobody reacting much to seeing Hope for the first time. Given she's not a baby anymore and bears an uncanny resemblance to Jean Grey, one might expect SOMEONE to notice. Then again, that would probably count as nit picking among Jean fans considering this is all going on in the heat of a battle. Hope could look like the Virgin Mary herself and they wouldn't have time to react. Hopefully, that comes in later. Other than this, there really isn't much else to criticize. The dialogue is fantastic, the pace is perfect, and the dialogue is spot on.

The next issue promises a prominent death. Many are still banking that Nightcrawler will be the one to bite it. That remains to be seen. Whatever the case, Second Coming is going hard and strong! It's riding a tidal wave of awesome and it promises to keep going. It is definitely worthy of a 5 out of 5, a 10 out of 10, and an A-plus. Bring on the next part! Second Coming is still awesome and dares to be better with each passing issue.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brightest Day and Even Brighter Awesome

I made no secret of my love for Blackest Night. The DC crossover that spanned over six months completely reshaped the DC universe and opened the door for new readers to enter. For me, a guy who hasn't followed DC in quite some time, it was an opening I could not resist.

This past week the aftermath of Blackest Night began with Brightest Day #0. Penned by Geoff Johns, the same mastermind behind Blackest Night, the series doesn't miss a beat and picks up almost immediately where Blackest Night left off. From the very first page, the emphasis shifts from death to life. The one narrating the story is Boston Brand, once known as Deadman. A more appropriate character couldn't have been used if his name was Bright Geoffjohns.

What follows is a remarkable insight into the mind of someone who has only known death. Boston Brand actually stands over his own grave, musing over what his role was now that he was alive again. Being dead means he has no money, no job, and no livelihood. So what's a guy to do? That's where the White Lanterns come in. Just as Brand is done smashing his own tombstone, the power of the White Lanterns reaches him and he begins a journey across the DC universe.

It's very well laid out. Brand goes on to visit the likes of Mera and Aurthur Curry of Atlantis, Kyle Raner of the Green Lantern Corps, Carter and Shiera Hall, and J'onn J'ozz of Mars. Everybody is getting accustomed to being alive again. Some are embracing it more than others. There are some nice shots of Mera in bed after she and Aurthur celebrate his rebirth.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl share a nice romantic moment as they muse over their past lives together and the love that seems to span it all. And J'onn J'ozz gets the greatest gift of all...a crate full of Oreo cookies. Could there be a more appropriate gift?

Overall, the tone is much different than Blackest Night but in a good way. It isn't all just joy and life. There are some real developments involving Sinestro finding the White Lantern and someone locating the original bodies of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Like man issue #0's this merely sets the stage. Brightest Day #1 doesn't come out until next month and it promises to begin the next round of action that will span the DC universe. It's no bait and switch. It's a solid story designed to get the reader hooked and it succeeds in every way!

Geoff Johns continues to astonish me with his writing talent and Brightest Day carries on the legacy of sheer awesome left by Blackest Night. That is why this issue gets a solid 5 out of 5. If ever a comic lover wanted to get back into the DC universe, this is it! If you have any appreciation for the awesome of comics, what the hell are you doing? Get off your ass and get Brightest Day! Nuff said.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Punisher MAX #6 - Hardcore Awesome

In a market crowded with super-powered heroes and super-powered evil-doers it often goes unnoticed when those with no powers who fight those with no powers but plenty of evil and make it over-the-top violent in the process. The Punisher is one of the few who exists in a realm where costumed heroics are a joke and the only battle is between two frail human beings who bleed and die like everyone else in the real world. While the Punisher has his own role in the current Marvel universe, that has quickly turned into another farce with the whole Fraken-Castle story. If you're wondering what that is, it's exactly what it sounds like. The mainline universe turned Frank Castle into a Frankenstein-like man who still conducts his war, but with Frankenstein style tactics. It's a fun gimmick, but a total misrepresentation of who the Punisher is.

Thankfully, Marvel has not resorted to those same tactics with the Punisher MAX series. Ever since this series began under the pen of Garth Ennis, it has quickly become one of the most defining stories for the Punisher. The MAX series is not like the 616 continuity in that there is more blood, more violence, more cruelty, no censoring of breasts or body parts, and no super powers. It's the perfect world for the Punisher to operate, but for years he operated it on his own. Now a recent series written by Jason Aaron has taken Punisher MAX to a new level, adding other Marvel names to the world of MAX and making it awesome as hell in the process.

It started with the Kingpin arc. This story brought the MAX version of the Kingpin into the Punisher's world. It told the rare story of how Wilson Fisk fought his way to the top of the criminal hierarchy and was damn cruel and sadistic in the process. He did things in MAX that he could NEVER get away with doing on panel in 616. There's no beating around the bush to offend squeamish Spider-Man fans. Fisk tortures, maims, and kills without compunction. With the success of that series, Aaron has taken the next step and brought Bullseye into the mix.

Punisher MAX #6 picks up right where the Kingpin arc left off. Frank Castle is still recovering from the beating he took. This issue makes a point to show that he's not a young man. He's getting up there in years and it's affecting him, something few readers get from other superheroes who seem to be perpetually in their twenties. It also makes a point to take Bullseye and strip away the super powered background and just make him a badass assassin with an even more badass attitude. At times it seems a bit too much like the regular 616 continuity, but at others it feels completely unique. Bullseye comes off just as Frank Castle does, someone who is human but highly talented in what he does. He makes it a point to show this off in the first few pages when he takes out a whole hoard of thugs with nothing but a small gun he had lodged in his rectum (seriously, that's something that can only happen in MAX).

This comic set the stage for a new challenge for Frank Castle. He's getting old and he's wearing down. At the same time he has to face someone who is no casual thug. He's someone who can take him down and unlike the regular 616 universe, there will be no magic or Frankenstein style retcon to save him. It's the kind of grim and gritty story that fulfills all the dark desires of comic fans who think there's too much child-appeal. This is one of those dark stories that doesn't skimp on the awesome and further demonstrates how the Punisher is the most badass character in the entire Marvel universe. It's not because of the powers he has. It's what he's able to accomplish with no special abilities than his monster sized set of stones and unlimited supply of badassery.

Friday, April 16, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 9: Date Night Part 2 Preview

It's been a busy week for X-fans everywhere with Second Coming rolling along. I've been on the edge of my seat the whole time, but I've still found time to keep working on X-men Supreme. It's a bit ironic that Second Coming is really amping up the action while X-men Supreme is focusing on the lighter side for once. Well that shouldn't last long! The new issue of X-men Supreme is nearly here and it promises to set the stage for the first big event! Here's a sneak peak of what you can expect:

Taking a deep breath, Iceman collected the moisture around him and created a dense cloud around his hands. Then with a hard grunt, he unleashed a fury of wind, snow, and cold right at Pietro. The speedster didn’t try and take it. He quickly ran off to his right to avoid the blast, but Bobby showed some resilience in his ability to direct his power and was able to blow him off course a bit. Soon he wasn’t moving so fast anymore. He had to slow down to shield his eyes from the blinding cold. But he kept moving, knowing he couldn’t afford to stay frozen.

“Errrrrr! Is that the b-b-best you can d-d-do?!” bellowed Pietro through the storm.

“You want colder? You got it!”

Bobby stepped up his assault, guiding his power in a wide arc so he could keep Pietro from running out of range. During his attack, Wanda came to her brother’s aid. She attempted to attack while his back was turned, throwing a hex at him to stunt his powers. But Bobby knew she was still behind him and formed a block of ice around his back that took the blunt end of the blow.

“Not this time Miss Scarlet Skank!” said Iceman, “I learned my lesson in Detroit! I’m not playing your odds this time!”

“This doesn’t involve you or the X-men! This is a personal affair!” barked Wanda, her hands still glowing, “You’re just in the way!”

“And here I was thinking you Brotherhood goons were tougher!” taunted the young X-man, “I’m not just an obstacle! I’m a pissed off boyfriend! Let’s see you re-work those odds!”

The young Iceman pushed himself harder than he usually did. This wasn’t just a mission. This was him protecting his new girlfriend. To make sure Wanda didn’t try that hexing trick of hers again he shot a round of icicles from his shoulders that forced Wanda to back off.

“Augh! The boy’s been training,” mused Wanda, “He must really like this girl.”

She was about to attack Bobby again when she saw Lorna running full speed away from the chaos. Apparently she took her new boyfriend’s advice and didn’t stick around for the fight. But she wouldn’t get far. Rather than let their petty rivalry with the X-men slow her down, Wanda stuck to the plan.

“Oh no you don’t! You’re not getting out of this that easily!” said the Scarlet Witch in a determined tone.

“Lorna! Don’t look back!” Bobby called out, “Keep running! I’ll protect you!”

“You think playing hero is going to impress her? You’re pathetic!” scoffed Quicksilver as he ran back around and got in closer to obstruct Iceman’s aim, “If you have any sense you’ll leave Lorna to her proper role!”

“Lucky for you, I’m a C-student!” grunted Iceman as he tried to redirect his blast, “But whatever her role is, it sure as hell isn’t with you two!”

“If you know anything about her you already know how wrong you are!”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

X-men Second Coming Chapter 3: New Mutants 12

Second Coming just keeps on rolling and today the next issue in the saga was released in the form of New Mutants. To avoid beating around the bush I'll just come out and say outright that this series hasn't missed a beat since the first issue. The usual sputter that plagues so many crossovers in the first few issues did NOT happen here like it did with Messiah Complex. It kept the ball rolling and didn't let up.

While in this issue the New Mutants took center stage with their attack on the Purifier base, the events of the last two issues were still seamlessly integrated. It is as if the pages of Uncanny X-men 523 never stopped. The battle to save Hope and Cable continued only now it coincided with the New Mutant's attack. Both fights brought to light the Sapien League's heavy hitters. William Stryker showed his tactical worth when he took on the X-men's Alpha Team. He showed that he was prepared when he fired weapons that disrupted Illyana and Nightcrawler, the teams top teleporters. Illyana appears to be heading back to Limbo while Nightcrawler is stuck in a daze, hinting further that he's going to be dead very soon. But Stryker wasn't the only one who shined.

In the Purifier base the New Mutants took on Cameron Hodge, the former ruler of Genosha who is now basically a head and a machine. He started off in a normal robot body and transferred himself into a scorpion-like attack bot that appeared similar to the Sentinel Prowlers from Wolverine and the X-men. This was what he used to attack the New Mutants and the fight scene that followed was well crafted and well developed. It ended on an ominous note with Karma getting her leg stabbed. It didn't appear fatal, but it certainly appears to be serious and leaves the door open for X-men Legacy to continue.

Overall, the action was awesome and so was the overall plot. However, this book does suffer from a few significant flaws. The most critical flaw is how the writers seem to yet again send Cable and Hope on the run. Just like the first issue, they're back in a truck driving away from the chaos. It's been done before and it makes all the fighting that has transpired thus far seem a little meaningless. It makes sense tactically, but it just doesn't seem to change all that much. Cable and Hope are on the run again and the X-men are short a few teleporters. That's about it. The plot doesn't seem to progress that much from there and it leaves the overall story feeling a bit stalled.

Never-the-less, New Mutants 12 is an awesome addition to the Second Coming saga. It does what it needs to do in order to further the plot. It doesn't knock it out of the park in terms of awesome, but it isn't filler either. It's a solid read and deserves a solid 4 out of 5. Next up is X-men Legacy and Rogue will have a chance to shine. How she's going to affect Second Coming will be interesting considering the leadership roles she's been taking lately. Hopefully she'll find a way to avoid the same old plot of Hope and Cable running away because that's getting old. The stage has already been set for a big time confrontation between Bastion and the X-men. The sooner this fight can happen the better! I would say to the writers and editors the same thing Hodge said to his men. "Grow a pair!" Nuff said.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sexy Pics of Scarlet Witch

It's been a while since I added something other than my series to my website. Since I haven't introduced a whole lot of new characters yet, I've had to play the waiting game. But it turns out there was one section I could still add. I've given the X-women their share of homage so why not give the bad guys a chance to match their sexiness? So like Rogue, Storm, and Jean Grey I made a section celebrating the sexy that is Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch.

Scarlet Witch Pics

There are still plenty of beautiful X-women out there, but until I introduce them into X-men Supreme their sexy will have to remain idle. In the meantime enjoy the beauty that is the Scarlet Witch and stay tuned for a preview of the new issue on April 9th. Until then, take care!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cable 25 - A Walk on the Wild/Lighter Side

With Second Coming in full swing it couldn't be more serious in the X-books. The fate of the mutant race is on the line. Hope has returned from the future with Cable. There's no room for joking around, humor, or so much as a smile. So it comes as quite a surprise for a book like Cable 25 to come out, which is as heavy on laughs as it is on humor.

For anyone who hasn't been following the X-books up to Second Coming, it doesn't matter. This book takes place way back during Messiah Complex before the X-men even moved to San Francisco. It answered a burning question and gaping plot hole that had been lingering for years. How did Cable get to baby Hope before the X-men and the Purifiers? This one-shot answers that plain and simply. He had help from his old pal Deadpool and the results are both serious and hilarious.

Deadpool is one of those characters who can make even the most grave of situations something ot laugh about. He came into this comic helping Cable save Hope from being burned alive along with a whole host of other babies. Yet he finds room to make a Sarah Palin joke in the process. For anybody looking for a little something less depressing it's definitely welcome. Who doesn't love a good Palin joke in the midst of slaughtering a bunch of heartless baby killers?

This issue goes a step further. It shows how Deadpool helped Cable get away from the Purifiers before anyone could find out he was the one with the baby. They survived in the Alaskan wilderness and fought off a hungry Predator X in the process, which Deadpool made all the more entertaining and grotesque by allowing himself to be eaten (that's not an exaggeration by the way). It was full of action and the same witty humor readers have come to expect from Deadpool, but at the same time it had the right levels of drama that went along with Messiah Complex. It's very difficult to strike that kind of balance in a comic that plays a serious role in the plot of the trilogy. For there to be just the right humor and just the right amount of drama is nothing short of uncanny and it makes this book truly special in that regard.

It ends with Cable and Deadpool parting ways once again, leaving Deadpool to go off on his own series (which he even hints at with his 4th wall breaking awesomeness) and Cable to go into the future with Hope. It ties things together nicely, but at the same time the separation was a bit contrived. It felt as though Cable and Deadpool separated just so it would fit into what happened later with Messiah Complex. It wasn't blatant, but it wasn't very subtle either. If there was one knock on this book, it was this seemingly overt twist. It doesn't bring the whole thing down, but it does make it a little bit bland in the end.

Overall, it's still a solid comic. It earns itself a 4 out of 5 for doing all the right things, striking the right balance, and being damn entertaining in the process. Some have argued that Deadpool has been too overexposed in wake of Messiah Complex. This comic proves there can be no such thing with a character as awesome as him. If anything, it necessitates more Deadpool after Second Coming! He can only make the X-books more awesome.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ultimate X #2 - Painful Nostalgia

A couple months ago I gave my review for the debut issue of Ultimate X, the comic by Jeph Loeb that was supposed to reinvigorate the Ultimate line by telling bold new stories about what is happening to the mutants after Ultimatum. The premise is good, but in a nutshell the execution smells worse than mule shit, elephant shit, horse shit, dog shit, cat shit, and pretty much every other form of shit on this planet combined. Scientists would have to formulate a whole new strain of shit to match how much Ultimate X sucks. It's not only an affront to people who used to like the Ultimate universe. It's akin to sending a hitman to the readers still in the hospital after Ultimatum and so they can anally rape them to add to the humiliation for ever having followed this series.

So if I hated Ultimate X so much, why did I read issue 2? Plain and simple, it was the only comic outside the pitiful X-men Forever series that offered a chance at a decent Jean Grey story. The preview art from months ago hinted that this supposed new character, Karen Grant, was actually Jean Grey in disguise. Loeb tried to make it out to be some big mystery, as if her secret was the only thing keeping the holy grail from being found. Problem is, from the first few pages a brain damaged retard could have figured out that Karen was Jean. If that was the entire premise of the issue then this comic wouldn't qualify as being worthy of toilet paper. Luckily, there was more to it. Unluckily, it was every bit as pitiful as the first issue.

Now I'm a sucker for Jean Grey stories. She's one of my favorite characters and I've always had an affinity for Ultimate Jean Grey. She was a lot edgier and outgoing than her 616 counterpart. It was ironic how she was one of the few Ultimatum survivors when in 616, the writers seem to look for ways to kill her. I sincerely wanted to see a fresh story of her that wouldn't make me sick to my stomach the way X-men Forever did (which sadly is the only other ongoing series where Jean is still alive). It started off promising, but it went down faster than the stock market.

Here's the premise. Jean changed her name, changed her appearance, got a job at a mall, used her telepathy to change everyone's perceptions to make them think she had been there for three years when it had only been three months, and tried to live a normal life. Only she wasn't the same Jean Grey from the pages of Ultimate. She was a new Emo Jean Grey, one who dressed goth and was painfully reserved, a complete departure from what made her Ultimate counterpart appealing. To add to the clusterfuck, the narration was done by her boyfriend Dave, who is basically a mall cop. While Dave tries to come off as some open character with a touch of depth, he ends up coming off as some creepy stalker for Jean/Karen. He talks about early on how he kept asking her out 10 times before she said yes and how she seldom opened up. He comes off less a caring boyfriend and more a stalker. He's some character, one best left for dead. And wouldn't you know it? He got killed near the end by Sabretooth. Normally, I would hate to throw any further death into the Ultimate series after Ultimatum, but this guy needed it. He was too lame to keep alive.

In addition, remember how the first Ultimate X issue basically plagiarized the entire Superman Origins story for Jimmy Hudson? This issue took it a step further. It plagerized a story that came out LESS THAN A YEAR AGO. To make matters worse it came from the same damn series. Here's what happened. Mystique shows up and confronts Jean, telling her she should join her and Sabretooth. A fight ensues and Mystique and Sabretooth are beaten back. Want to know what happened in Ultimatum X-men Requiem that came out in August 2009? The same damn thing! Mystique and Sabretooth show up and try to recruit her. Part of the reason for Ultimatum was to add originality to the Ultimate universe again. But they use the same plot points from less than a year ago! What's that say about this series? They seem to be putting the same effort into it as Homer Simpson does in trying to lose weight.

Even worse? The art didn't offer any redeeming value like the first issue. Art Adams is supposedly an artistic genius in this area and he drew Jean Grey/Karen Grant like she was 13 fucking years old. In the comics it is well established that Ultimate Jean is 20. If this comic were actually decent then that may be forgivable, but the Ultimate series has earned no such leeway. I'm usually willing to cut Art Adams some slack, but now he deserves every bit the same scorn as Jeph Loeb.

It ends predictably enough. Jean meets up with Jimmy and that's about it. There's nothing new or fresh to be taken from this issue. As someone who has always had a special appreciation for Jean Grey, it usually takes a lot to get me to hate a comic with her as the main focus. Chris Claremont succeed with X-men Forever and I never thought that bombastic butchering of her character could be topped. Jeph Loeb, it seems, has matched Claremont blow for blow. It's a fucking Greek tragedy of godlike proportions.

Ultimate X #2 is another solemn reminder of how hard the series I once loved so much has fallen. Every book reeks of the stench left by Ultimatum. Even the most solid series like Ultimate Spider-Man can't get beyond the painful aftermath that basically killed an entire line. It doesn't matter of Hemmingway himself came back from the dead and wrote these books. Without the characters that made Ultimate great, the whole line is nothing more than cannon fodder laced with superhuman shit.

Earlier this week I posed a question to Tom Brevoort, Marvel's Vice President Executive Editor. I asked:

What would you say to all the fans of Ultimate who were seriously turned off by seeing so many beloved Marvel characters be horribly killed in Ultimatum?

His response is here:

Sorry about that. But most of those characters are still alive and active in the main Marvel Universe, so you can always follow them there. But if you just don't care for it, and aren't getting the same pleasure out of following the Ultimate books, then it's all right to stop buying them.

You hear that? It's basically saying "Sorry, you'll have to settle for 616 where those characters are still alive." Excuse me, but wasn't the whole point of Ultimate to create a fresh alternative from 616? Now that they killed off all the characters they're sending readers back to 616 where they weren't pleased with to begin with? Maybe I'm slow, but that logic would give Spock from Star Trek an brain stroke. He and Marvel seem to be okay with permanently handicapping a series. They're okay with taking away appeal and just churning out rehashes of plots so unoriginal it could be scientifically categorized as symptoms of insanity. Either they don't give a damn about the Ultimate universe anymore or they've just plain given up.

Ultimate X #2 gets a pitiful 0 out of 5. There's no redeeming value, not even from the art. Ultimate Marvel is becoming more pitiful with each passing month. It makes about as much sense to buy this comic as it does to stick your head in a microwave while sodomizing yourself with a salad fork. The sooner this entire line gets canceled, the better.

Friday, April 9, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 8: Off Night Part 1 is LIVE

It's been a busy week with comics, but I've still found time to keep the train rolling on X-men Supreme. The next issue is officially up!

Issue 8: Date Night Part 1

This issue takes the X-men of this world and shows them in their lighter moments. They do have lives outside of kicking ass and being awesome. This chapter highlights their personal missions and their relationships. Right now the main couples are Beast/Storm, Wolverine/Jean, and Bobby/Lorna. But if you're a fan of other pairings, don't fret! There are more to come. Fanfiction has always opened the door to novel romances and X-men Supreme is no exception. I hope you enjoy the path this series takes, romantic or otherwise. Enjoy the issue!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Second Coming Part 2 - Uncanny X-men 523

Well the Second Coming event continued today. This time it came within the pages of Uncanny X-men 523. Picking up right where the Second Coming #1 special left off, this issue hit the ground running. There is action, revelations, character development, and pretty much everything else you could want in a comic billed as the greatest X-event of all times (those are the editors words, not mine). That’s the good news. Unfortunately, there were some stumbling points.

Normally, I like Matt Fraction. He’s got a good feel for the X-men even if he ridiculously bias and damn near blatant at times. You can always tell when a comics is written by him based on the unique style. Unfortunately, that style just does NOT mesh well with what was established by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost. Whereas the first issue was dark and serious, Fraction injected a little humor and light-heartedness. This is all well and good, but it flows about as well as mud through a straw.

The problem lies with his portrayal of Hope Summers, the Mutant Messiah that everybody is fighting over. In the previous issue she was shocked and saddened by the grim surroundings she found herself in. Reading the events of this issue, it’s hard to imagine she was the same girl. For one, she was obsessed with the hair care section of a convenience store she and Cable held up. Later on she entered a motel with Cable and as soon as she saw a nice, comfy bed her eyes lit up like a fat kid in a candy store and she started jumping on the bed. I understand that Hope has grew up in a living hell, but she’s supposed to be 17! Not 7! A few pages later she has Hope stuffing her face with candy, looking like a slob in the process. Not a very flattering image of the messiah. That would be like Jesus Christ getting drunk at the last supper. You get the sense that Fraction doesn’t care much for Hope and doesn’t mind making her look goofy. Not sure what the motivation behind that is, but he doesn’t seem to be taking it as seriously as Kyle and Yost.

Hope’s childishness aside, Fraction does make up for it with the other scenes. The secret of X-Force officially came out and Cyclops was on the wrong side of a moral outrage from Nightcrawler. He didn’t beat around the bush. He flat out admitted it and essentially told his team that he would face the consequences later. Based on his choice of words he didn’t sound too ashamed. That’s some pretty stern leadership and the others continued to follow, despite their outrage.

At the same time Cyclops was coming clean, he organized a mission for the New Mutants. He’s sending them on a collision course with the Sapien League’s big guns and taking the fight to them. It’s playing both offense and defense. It’s the kind of strategy that would make General Zod proud. One would expect nothing less from Fraction, who seems to go out of his way to make Cyclops look badass. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there is a point where the writer starts to push it.

Overall, it sets things up nicely for the next chapter. The New Mutants are taking the fight to Bastion while the rest of the X-men stand poised to meet Hope in all her 17-year-old glory. It’s worth contemplating how they will react to her appearance, given that she looks uncannily similar to another certain redhead they all know and love. It depends on how big a douchebag the writers want to be when it comes to teasing Jean Grey’s return. That confrontation may still have to wait because the next issue will follow the New Mutants as they get a chance to kick some ass and further showcase the awesomeness of Cyclops’s plan.

Second Coming still hasn’t missed a beat! It’s well on it’s way to being every bit as awesome as the writers and editors have claimed. It all depends on whether or not they’ll follow through. They’ve been known to fall flat on their ass before. It only takes one issue. Thankfully, this isn’t the issue. Second Coming is still awesome! Uncanny 523 gets a solid 4 out of 5. I want to give it a perfect score, but I can’t when Hope comes off so goofy.

Bring on the New Mutants! Let the awesome that is Second Coming continue!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Second Coming Teaser - Someone's Gonna DIE

While it can't be considered a revelation when it was already revealed, a new teaser emerged for Second Coming. This one highlights the already confirmed fact that some major character will die in the course of Second Coming. Now Marvel has given some specifics.

An X-man Dies in X-Force #26

For one, we have an issue. X-Force, a book where blood and murder is as common as the rising sun, will be where the death takes place. That's not much of a surprise. What is a bit surprising is that they offered a list of characters. They include Colossus, Magik, Iceman, Angel, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, and Cable. One of them is going to bite the dust and considering what has already been revealed, it's not as great a mystery as they make it out to be.

For one, Colossus and Magik are two characters who have already been killed. Would they dare doing it again? Not if they want to come off as unoriginal. Iceman? Doubtful, given he's been so marginalized it would have no impact. Angel? Same story to a lesser extent. He's had his role in X-Force as Archangel, but he's been pretty detached from the team for years. These would all have too little an impact for it to warrant such a tease. So who could it be?

Cable is an obvious candidate. He's been raising Hope in the future and battled hardship after hardship to protect her. Him making the ultimate sacrifice would be so fitting. It may be the thing that sends Hope on a collision course with her destiny. That being said, it makes way too much sense. Besides, Cable is already referenced in the future solicitation for Uncanny X-men 525. You would think the folk at Marvel would know details like that before throwing him onto a teaser.

Uncanny X-men #525

“SECOND COMING”, CHAPTER TEN Things have never been worse for the X-Men. They’re stuck in an impregnable dome of Bastion’s creation. As if that's not bad enough, inside this dome is a portal to the Days of Future Past timeline through which thousands of Nimrod Sentinels are pouring. Cyclops has sent Cable, Cypher and X-Force on a suicide mission into the future to destroy the portal, but do they stand a chance?

Emma Frost? Now this could potentially be a bombshell. Emma dying would have a HUGE impact on the X-men, especially Scott. It might actually be fitting if the Phoenix is coming into the picture along with Jean Grey. It would take the emotional impact of Second Coming to a whole new level. Riots would break out. Message Boards would be on fire. Fanboys everywhere will be tripping out as if they took a bad hit of LSD. Problem is, it ain't happening.

The Marvel writing staff and editors have a huge boner for Emma Frost. Matt Fraction has declared his love for the White Queen more than once and would probably jump off the Empire State Building if he found out his favorite X-woman was being killed. Quesada loves her too and has gone on record as saying she's just too cool. There's also the little problem of the Heralds mini-series coming out in June. This is a mini that has Emma Frost in a starring role. Now it may be out of continuity, but that hasn't been affirmed yet. All indications are that it happens after Second Coming and Seine, which basically means Emma will be alive and well.

That leaves only Nightcrawler. Yes, here is a character who simply couldn't be a better candidate. He was in the first issue, he played a major role in confronting Scott about X-Force, and he's dealing with other mutants like Pixie and Magik who have the same powers he has. It would seem the teleporters club is getting crowded and who can they kill off? Will it be two adorably cute girls in a comic geared towards young males? Or will it be the demonic morality zealot who does more than any other character to hold true to the core principles of the X-men? Tough call, but Nightcrawler doesn't have boobs so he's out.

The odds are so good that Nightcrawler will die that you could probably mortgage your house and bet on it. This is a guy with too much competition who hasn't had a big moment in quite a while. Could there be a bigger moment than the ultimate sacrifice? If he wants to prove Cyclops that there is a price to pay for using tactics like X-Force, this is it. His sacrifice will send a huge message, one that will reverberate throughout the team. It works so well it might as well be fashioned from diamonds and made into jewelry.

That being said, it may make too much sense. Everybody is expecting Nightcrawler to die. That may be the only reason Marvel doesn't do it. The odds are still stacked against him, but there's always a chance it could go the other way. Someone completely unexpected could lose their battle with the grim reaper. Even if they do that doesn't mean they'll STAY dead. Who in comics ever truly dies these days? It's pretty much a joke, not that anyone can blame them. Good characters are hard to keep down. Whoever bites the dust, they can take comfort in the knowledge that the gates of Hell are a revolving door in the Marvel Universe.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Necrosha - Dead, Alive, and In Between

On the same week Blackest Night reached it's conclusion, the other major death-themed story in the comics world ended as well. Necrosha, the big X-men crossover involving X-Force, finally reached it's conclusion. While the awesome factor was still strong, in many ways it was overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of awesome cast by Blackest Night.

Never-the-less, Necrosha did end on a solid note. Over the past few months the event had been unfolding nicely throughout the X-books (except Uncanny). It gave X-Force it's biggest moment since Messiah War and they really stepped up to the plate. Writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost did a nice job bringing a lesser used villain like Selene into the fold and writing her in a ways that would never leave a reader to suspect she was so underused. It would have been so much easier for them to use someone who had much bigger credentials as an X-villain. They could have used Mr. Sinister, the Hellfire Club, or Black Tom Cassidy. But they took a chance on using a lesser name like Selene and by the end she wasn't lesser anymore. That and she looks much better in a thong.

The final issue was the final showdown. X-Force which consisted of Wolverine, X-23, Domino, Vanisher, Warpath, and Angel made their way to Selene and attacked. It took some help from Warpath's deceased brother, John "Thunderbird" Proudstar, to get them close, but they were able to take her on and literally rip out her heart. It made for a moment of brutal awesome that is consistent with the quality that has always been X-Force.

Now some reviewers on sites like CBR have criticized X-Force for being too dark and too bland. This is being somewhat short-sighted because darkness is a major theme of X-Force. Kyle and Yost made that clear from the beginning. You don't have a team of mutant killers hunt down thong-wearing immortal with a goddess complex and have it be merely PG. This story merely continued the traditions established in X-Force since the beginning and there's nothing wrong with that.

That's not to say some criticisms weren't valid. It didn't feel as though the other books that crossed over with Necrosha, including X-men Legacy and New Mutants, had much of an impact on the final battle. Basically, some enemies like Proteus broke off from Selene's main force and just fought other teams of the X-men and that was it for the most part. It would have been more fitting of Magneto came over from X-men Legacy and took part in the battle on the very island he once ruled. It may be because he was a major player in Uncanny instead, but it feels like a missed opportunity. Also, the final blow against Selene felt as though it could have been made earlier. Unlike Blackest Night, the mutants of X-Force didn't really need to do anything special to take her down. They just needed to get close and stab her. It's very in line with X-Force's brutal nature, but it feels a bit underhanded that someone with that kind of power would be taken down with just a stab to the heart.

Criticisms aside, Necrosha still did a fine job of bringing the story to a close. It also opened the door for more stories. It was able to end on a positive note like Blackest Night. Not all the mutants Selene resurrected were accounted for in the end. That means some like Banshee, Pyro, Senyaka, and Blink could still be out there. There was also the touching moment between Warpath and his brother. All too often characters like Thunderbird get glossed over and this was a moment for him to shine. Even though X-Force as a series is such a dark book, it really ended on a positive note with Cyclops saying the dawn is coming. That dawn should emerge through Second Coming and Necrosha helps bleed in nicely to this much bigger event.

Necrosha as a whole deserves plenty of praise. If Blackest Night hadn't unfolded right along with it this series would deserve a 5 out of 5 or at least a 4.5 out of 5. But since Blackest Night bested Necrosha in so many ways, it is overshadowed in a sense can only be given a 4 out of 5. It's still a quality book with quality art and quality storytelling. It is merely a victim of timing, sandwiched between Blackest night and Second Coming. Once these events are over and the aftermath begins, the truth context of Necrosha will come into focus and there will be plenty more reasons to praise it's awesome.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Blackest Night - A Bright Beacon of Awesome

For years it seems Marvel comics have overshadowed DC in terms of scale, quality, and overall awesome. It always reflects in the sales figures which routinely have Marvel comics beating DC on a monthly basis. Every so often DC will come along with something like Infinite Crisis that will narrow the gap, but only briefly. They haven't had a real breakthrough story that beat Marvel at it's own game. Then Blackest Night came out and all bets are off.

This past week, the eighth and final issue of Blackest Night came out and it finished a story that can only be described as an ultra advanced supped up nuclear powered state-of-the-art mind-blowing supernova of awesome. This massive crossover, which spans nearly every corner of the DC universe, follows Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and nearly every other corps as they go up against the Black Lanterns, a corps led by Nekron who uses Black Lantern energy to reanimate the dead. These dead become wielders of the black rings and include some notable DC names like the Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, and Aquaman. But these dead aren't mindless zombies. These are dead with a very different persona, one driven by an emotional disdain for the living. They don't walk around groaning incoherently to eat brains. They forge together like a real Lantern Corp and unite with Nekron to find the White Light, which the guardians say is the same light that brought the universe into existence.

It is a masterfully crafted tale that builds various personal dramas around a heated core of action that is nothing short of orgasmic for comic fans or anyone who enjoys a good story. Even if a reader couldn't give two farts from a skunks ass about the Green Lantern or Hal Jordan, they come to relate to him and his struggle as he and other lanterns like John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and Guy Gardner take on Nekron.

Writer Geoff Johns, who was recently voted best comic writer by fans and promoted to chief creative officer in DC, demonstrates why he is one of the best comic writers of the modern era. Johns has the distinction of making people give a damn about the Green Lantern again with his landmark Sinestro Corps run. Blackest Night takes it a step further, bringing the entire DC universe into focus. Few writers can take on the responsibility of telling a story around an entire comic universe. Geoff Johns is one writer for whom the universe is always in good hands. What makes his writing so enjoyable are the little things. Most writers for any company will gladly omit certain details and leave certain plot holes open for the sake of moving forward. These holes are usually small and most readers couldn't care less about them. Who can blame them? Comics are short. There's only so much space to work with. It's only when those little gaps are filled that their true value shows.

This is highlighted in the final issue where Nekron is defeated and the many dead who were brought back were left alive and well. It would have been so much easier to just show them all alive again, have a few witty comments, and leave it at that. But Johns didn't do that. He dedicated several pages to certain character reactions and even focused on specific characters to highlight the emotional significance. This is something the reader doesn't realize is so powerful unless it is there and masterfully done. It is a comic that ends on a brighter note...literally in some respects. It's a welcome shift from a decade of style over substance coupled with a need to shock readers and make characters grimmer and grittier. After a while, that shit gets old. Readers just want a good story that will make them smile at the end. Blackest Night does that and opens the door to a new chapter in the DC universe.

I personally didn't want to review this until I saw the whole series. From issue one, I was sucked in even though I was more focused on Marvel events like Necrosha. Now that it's over, the awesome of Blackest Night has overshadowed everything Marvel has done to this point. The bar has been raised and I might just start working more DC into my pull list. From a lifelong Marvel fan, that is tantamount to blasphemy and worthy of being burned at the stake. Call me a revolutionary, but Blackest Night's awesome is just too great to ignore.

Months ago I was split between death-centered stories Necrosha and Blackest Night. Months later Blackest Night has kicked Necrosha's ass and that's saying something because Necrosha was still pretty awesome. But overall, Blackest Night wins with a knock-out. It raises the bar for comics and that bar is simple. Shock value and darkness can only go so far. Sometimes it's nicer and more awesome to read a story that ends with brighter days ahead. That being said, Blackest Night gets a perfect score!

The next big event, X-men Second Coming, has a lot to live up to. If it is going to follow in Blackest Night's big shadow, it better pull out all the stops. Awesome comes in many forms. For a big event to be special, it has to follow the examples of Geoff Johns and Blackest Night. Make sure the little things count, make sure the big things count even more, and make sure it all comes together in a way that makes a fanboy smile. It's simple, but it isn't easy. For stories like Blackest Night, it is so worth it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 8 PREVIEW

It's Friday everybody and you know what that means. X-men Supreme is set to grow again. The new issue, Date Night, is well on its way. This issue will mark the first multi-chapter story of this fanfiction series. So far I've only had issues that are essentially one-shots. They are singular self-contained stories. As the roster of X-men grows and the complexity of their task expands, more multi-part chapters will emerge. If you don't like to be left hanging, don't be too worried. I try to make sure all my updates occur regularly on a biweekly basis. If there is a delay I'll make sure it's for a very good reason.

But no worries this week! No delays should be necessary. Until the update, here's an extended preview of what you can expect with the upcoming Date Night arc.

Hank kept sifting through his data, not noticing Ororo drifting closer and closer to where he was sitting. She was listening to some of these startling revelations of his, but they were quickly lost in the complex jargon Hank coded them in. Even though she went to Grad school, her vocabulary was no match for his. But that was the last thing on her mind at the moment.

“Here’s one other peculiarity,” he went on, “There seems to be traces of an unknown foreign catalyst in his samples. It is unlike any catalyst I have ever observed before. I’ve gone over every possible source and near as I can tell there is no documented case of it occurring in nature.”

“Mmhmm,” said Ororo, not sounding as interested.

“The implications are perplexing. It could be the result of a new kind of mutation, an advanced new level of mutation, or maybe even a mutation that has been altered. Given what we know about the barbaric methods of Weapon X, there are a great many possibilities.”

“I’ll bet,” she said in a deeper tone.

“I’m not sure which it is. It may very well be a combination of factors. I suspect…”

Then he was suddenly cut off by the feeling of two powerful arms around his neck. Ororo was now leaning over him, skillfully running her hands through his thick fur. She was soft, yet firm. It was almost as if she was daring him to turn away from his work and focus on her instead. It helped that it felt good. It was the kind of gentle, soothing gesture he came to love from her. It was more than enough to stop him even when he was on an intellectual roll.

“What’s wrong? Lose your train of thought?” she teased.

“Well uh…it’s a bit difficult when one encounters certain distractions in his musings,” he said with a wry grin.

“Oh so now I’m a distraction?”

“Of course not! I didn’t mean that as a…”

“I know,” said Ororo, cutting him off, “Take it easy, Hank. I’m just trying to get your attention, that’s all.”

“Well you’ve got it. I don’t see how I can get on with my work when a beautiful woman is keeping me in such a state.”

“And what state is that? Would it be this by chance?”

Ororo leaned turned his head towards hers and gave him a deep kiss. Hank eagerly returned the gesture, pulling her onto his lap and slipping his arms around her waist. As exciting as his research was, there were equally exciting experiences with his girlfriend. Sometimes he just needed a reminder and Ororo was getting better at breaking him out of his shell.

“You know, everybody else is going out tonight,” said Ororo, “That means we have a nearly empty mansion all to ourselves. Do you really want to stay cooped up in here the whole time?”

Hank thought about it for a moment. There were any number of opportunities to seclude himself in his lab for these experiments. There may not be nearly as many opportunities to enjoy a quiet mansion with his beautiful girlfriend.