Monday, May 31, 2010

X-men Supreme Update - John Wraith Bio

Happy belated Memorial Day everybody! A quick shout-out to all the brave men and women who make the heroes of Marvel and DC look like pussies by putting their lives on the line for freedom. We support you soldiers! Keep kicking ass!

In the meantime I've done a quick update to X-men Supreme. I added General John Wraith to the bios page.

Bio - General John Wraith

Now I understand that this version of Wraith is very different from the 616 comics. I've gotten a number of emails regarding this and let me clarify that the John Wraith I'm using for X-men Supreme is more in line with his Ultimate incarnation. Keep in mind I'm taking inspiration from more than just 616. Wraith's Ultimate version has more potential with what I want to do for this series in terms of Wolverine's story and that of Weapon X. I plan on fleshing it out a bit more down the line, but for those of you confused at where Wraith is coming from so far in X-men Supreme please use the bio page as a reference. I hope it helps.

Thanks and I noticed I have a total of 5 followers now. This is a quick shout-out to each one of them! Thanks for noticing me! I have plenty of updates planned including some new comic reviews complete with scans. Stay tuned for more updates and feel free to contact me at any time!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

X-men Second Coming: Blind Science - Unexpected Awesome

Every so often you see a story with a twist so unexpected it leaves you dazed, confused, and stoked at the end. It's these kinds of twists that made Lost and the Matrix such a hit despite being a huge mindfuck to the audience. Unless you've smuggled weed from Bob Marley's secret stash or soaked your brain in LSD, you won't pick up on it the first time around. In some ways X-men Second Coming: Blind Science tries to emulate that tradition although you won't need weed nearly as strong to wrap your mind around it. It is one of the one-shots that have spun out of the events of Second Coming and while the others have been fairly inconsequential in how they affect the story, this one manages to toy with reader perceptions and be pretty fucking awesome in the process.

It starts off just after the events of New Mutants 13 and before X-men Legacy 236. Fantomex, Dr. Rao, and Madison Jefferies are investigating an oil rig offshore which they suspect is part of Bastion's plan. Turns out they were right. They arrive just in time to see what looks to be a bomb about to go off. Naturally, they go into panic pants-shitting mode and Dr. Rao's life flashes before her eyes. Admittedly, it's not a very exciting life in the scope of the X-men comics, but she deserves some slack. She's pretty new to the X-books, having only been birthed by Joss Whedon during the famous Cure arc. She was kind of a douche-bag then, but she's a bit more likable now.

But just as they think they're about to die, they're saved. No, it isn't by some lame Deus Ex Machina shit where they pull a McGuiver and disarm the bomb. But it's close. They are engulfed in a strange light and transported to the future by a very human-looking Hank McCoy. Hank, being the smart guy he is calculated that this was where he needed to make a move on the time stream. Rather than go back himself and warn everybody or lift the science team sooner so they didn't ruin some perfectly good pants, he had to wait until the last minute. If you think it's cliched, it is. But there's more to it than meets the eye. Read further and that Transformers reference will make more sense.

As is often the case in the future, there little time to explain. I mean seriously, when is there ever time to explain? Hank claims he has information about the past that they need to know and in order to save the future, he needs their help. That's where the action kicks in and the science team gets a taste of some future ass-kicking. As it turns out, this latest dystopian future (as if the X-men didn't have enough) has some pretty terrifying creatures. They look every bit as nasty as they act. They're look like Blackheart fucked the four basic elements and gave birth to some monsters.

Despite their soiled pants, the science team fights back and flees with a human Hank McCoy. They end up in a lab that Hank has been holding up for a while now. There he explains they are now 30 years in the future and in the middle of a huge shit storm of trouble. Humans are pretty much dead and all mutants have been overtaken by a dark new power. The only reason Hank isn't affected is because he took Dr. Rao's cure before he could fall under the influence. Now he looks like a roadie for Metallica, but he's still the same guy and he's trying to save the world.

It's here where the book seems to give away some soul-crushing spoilers. Hank describes the battle against Bastion. The X-men confront him and wouldn't you know it? They kick his ass. Hope manifests some exotic energy powers that sadly look nothing like the Phoenix or Jean Grey. Because of this, she starts corrupting mutants and integrating them into some mindless collective. It's like the zombie apocalypse meets Days of Futures Past. It's petty terrifying and potentially disappointing because it gives away the end of the whole fucking story. So why am I not ranting about it even more? Screaming at the top of my lungs at how fucking cheap this is? Again, there's a good reason for that. Read on.

The plan is to use Dr. Rao's cure to stop the renegade Hope Summers. They need to shoot this thing into her to deactivate her powers and safe all of mutant-kind. It will probably end up killing her, but it's either her or an entire race. So despite some painful reservations, Dr. Rao cracks her knuckles and gets busy.

Her work looks like a mix of undue stress and PMS. But she finishes and the science team helps lead an assault on the complex containing Hope. When they reach her she's surrounded in energy that does have some Phoenix-like presence to it. It also has some pretty heavy psychic defenses, which would imply the power is psychic in nature. It seems to be a Jean Grey hint and there are some eerie similarities, even if it seems out of place. Again, there's a reason for that. I know I keep saying that, but bear with me just a bit longer.

In an emotional and powerful struggle, Rao and Hank fight their way towards Hope. In the presence of all that energy she looks so desperate to end it all. She's like a terminally ill patient who constantly endures stabbing pain to the eye socket who keeps begging for an appointment with Dr. Jack Kavorkian. It's a sad moment for Rao and she hesitates to deliver the cure. It's too hard for her so she gives the cure to Hank to administer.

It looks like this was where it would end. The spoilers for Second Coming would be complete. Hope's powers and role as a destroyer is revealed and the entire third act of Second Coming is rendered useless. Fans everywhere could begin their bitching and Marvel would be pelted with rotten fruit wherever they went with angry X-fans. Then something really fucked up and unexpected happens. Everything just fades away. That's not a death metaphor. Everything really just fades.

This is where the kicker comes in. It's worthy of the final scene of Usual Suspects. It turns out the science team was never even in the future. In fact, they never left the fucking oil rig! That explosion wasn't an explosion. It was a nifty piece of tech that projected a hologram similar to the Danger Room. It played out the entire scene like a movie and the science team had no idea. In many ways it's the ultimate form of being punked. If Bastion wasn't a machine, he would laugh his ass off until the end of time. Obviously, the so-called science team feels pretty stupid.

The goal was to get Rao to make the cure and give it to Graydon Creed, who put together the whole operation. It's worth noting that the plan was pretty fucking slick. They could have captured them, tortured them, and tried to force them to make the cure. But why go through all that trouble when you can just trick them into doing it? It's more efficient and good for a round of laughs at the end. It's quite possibly the perfect evil plan.

The problem with it though is that Dr. Rao wasn't a total dipshit. She figured it out before the scenario faded. She just didn't let anybody know, even Fantomex and Jefferies. So instead of her team getting punked, she punks Creed in a way that offers yet another kick-ass twist that has the reader's eyes hanging out of their sockets. That cure she made wasn't a cure. It was an incendiary. So when she gave it to Creed, she essentially gave him a ticking bomb like he was Wily Cayote. And like Cayote, he held onto it just as it exploded. Makes me nostalgic for the old Looney Toons days.

The next shot is pretty satisfying. The bomb blows up, the science team takes a minute to thumb their nose at Creed and give him the finger, and then they ditch the oil rig. They land in the water just as the fireball engulfs the rig. Now it's Creed's turn to shit his pants and the science team holds a round of cheers. They didn't solve the crisis with Bastion and Hope, but they came out on top and outsmarted their enemies just as the science team should. Unfortunately, they don't even make it through he first versus of "We Are The Champions" before that red dome overtakes the bay area. And since they're outside it, all they can do is watch and groan again. Science it seems always finds a way to fuck with them.

So there you have it. What could have been some agonizing spoilers turned into an eye-popping twist. If the readers didn't rip up the comic halfway through, they would be in for quite a treat. Now this book doesn't really do much in terms of affecting the plot of Second Coming and that's probably a good thing. It does show Graydon Creed demonstrating his trademark assholery and it shows the science team outsmarting their foes and proving they're smarter than the average egghead. It isn't the greatest mindfuck in the history of comics, but it's right up there.

It has it's share of faults. The dialogue was pretty crappy at times and there were a number of pages which were just boring ass explanations. There are at least a dozen pages that could have been cut out and the story still would have been salient. Plus, it's hard to follow at times. You may have to read it more than once to get what's going on. It works for Lost, but not for comics. In that sense Blind Science is novel and engaging, but a bit limited in the execution.

The final verdict is a bit tricky to determine, but for what Blind Science was able to do and the twist it delivered it deserves a 4 out of 5. It may not be a pivotal chapter in the Second Coming saga, but it is a fun read and will leave readers' heads spinning in the most awesome of ways. Nuff said.

Friday, May 28, 2010

X-men Supreme: Revenge of Weapon X Part 3 PREVIEW and Movie News

X-men Supreme is rolling along and the next issue is set to release in one week. The end of the Revenge of Weapon X arc is at hand and some major twists are in the works! Like I said from the beginning, I want to treat this series less like fanfiction and more like a series that Marvel would actually hire me to write. That means keeping it interesting and fresh. I feel this chapter helps do that and sets the stage for some much bigger twists down the line.

But before I get to the preview, some other news came up recently on the X-men First Class front. It seems the movie has it's first confirmed cast member. All the major movie news outlets are reporting that Professor Charles Xavier has a new lead in James McAvoy.

James McAvoy Signs onto X-men First Class

He's Scottish so he has some of the Xavier's background down and he's been in some decent movies such as Wanted and Atonement. The presence of a confirmed cast member helps lend credence that they're serious about this movie, which is a big plus considering how the past few movies have been handled with the equivalent of a drunken retard with carpel tunnel syndrome. What still isn't clear is whether this movie is a full reboot or a prequel. They're still calling it "X-men First Class" and not "X-men Origins: First Class." Either they'll keeping it under wraps or they have no fucking clue themselves. Whatever the case, Xavier has a new face and reports are that Magneto's actor will soon follow. I'll be sure to report that as soon as the information emerges.

For now, enjoy the preview of Revenge of Weapon X Part 3. Check back on June 4th to see the thrilling conclusion!

“No!” he cursed, “Not now! Not when I’m so close!”

“Doctor, what’s going on?!” exclaimed one of his fellow scientists.

“I don’t know! But stay at your posts! Get the backup systems online!” he ordered.

“Are you kidding?!” exclaimed another scientist, “I’m reading total grid failure and nearly all the servers are being shorted out by some magnetic interference! There’s no way we can continue like this!”

But Dr. Cornelius wouldn’t have it. He grabbed the nearest scientists and held him by the throat.

“I will not accept such cowardice! We’ve come too far to stop now!”

“With all due respect sir, you didn’t hire us for our bravery,” retorted the scientist.

He then broke free and ran off along with many of his other co-workers. Dr. Cornelius was forced to hold onto a nearby console to stay upright from the shaking. He watched as nearly every technician and scientist ran for the emergency exits. With them, he saw his last hope at completing this project leave as well. As he cursed their cowardice he looked back over at the screen to his console and saw something even more infuriating. The electronic locks keeping Logan restrained were starting to fail.

“Errrrrrrrrrrrrahhhhhhhhhh!” roared Logan as he thrashed more violently.

“No…not again!” exclaimed Dr. Cornelius, “Wolverine! You will not escape this time! You hear me?! You are mine! You are Weapon X!”

“I don’t think he’s listening doc,” growled Sabretooth, who emerged from behind the console, “And I’d step back if I were you.”

Dr. Cornelius refused to leave his specimen, but he had no choice. Another violent tremor sent him tumbling to the hard ground. He bumped his head in the process, nearly knocking him out. While he was dazed, the restraints on Wolverine failed. Sparks burst out from the metal shackles as he thrashed more violently. The veins in his neck and muscles bulged as growls of pure rage fueled his push for freedom. Then with a distinct snikt of his claws, the shackles broke and Wolverine burst free from his confines.

“RRRRAHHHHHHHHHHHH!” he howled in a rage.

“He’s out again! Shoot him! Take him down!” yelled the remaining guards.

“Here we go again,” snarled Sabretooth.

But with the tremors still going strong, the guards didn’t stand much of a chance. Logan pounced on the first armed guard he saw and tore into him with his adamantium claws. Pained cries quickly followed along with splatters of blood and mutilated flesh. He was in full berserker rage. Even as bullets ripped through his body, he raged on with merciless fury. Some guards wisely fled while others tried to defend themselves. One tried to shoot him in the face, blowing a good chunk of his skin off. Logan barely flinched, the bullet bouncing right off his forehead. Growling even louder, he literally decapitated the man where he stood. When two more tried to shoot him again, he ducked so they shot each other instead and finished them off by impaling them with his claws.

It was a bloody display. With feral rage and inhuman agility, he ripped through every guard in sight. He stabbed, slashed, and pummeled his way to vengeance. This wasn’t just about getting free. This was about making them pay. With the blood still dripping from his burly flesh, he set his sights on Dr. Cornelius, who lay helpless on the floor. This was the man who stole his life and tried to turn him into his personal meat puppet. For that he would be the focus of all his fury.

“YOU!!!” roared the Wolverine.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

X-Force #27 - Grim, Gritty, and Awesome

Since the end of Messiah War, reading X-Force has been like a ten minute orgasm while surrounded in the scent of melted chocolate fudge. Between the art, the action, and dark character portrayals it has been a book that never fails to deliver. So naturally, it earns a special place in the scope of Second Coming. It's one of those comics you never have to worry about being anything less than awesome. X-Force #26 continues that tradition, although not without some bumps along the road.

Now for anybody who has been disappointed by the lack of action in the past few issues, you can shut up now because the first ten pages ice nothing but knock-down, dragged out, eye-gougingly intense action. There is no dialogue. There isn't even any narration directing the reader with musings from 18th century freedom fighters making a stand against an imperial power to highlight the deep philosophical and historic significance of this story. It's just the X-men kicking the shit out of dozens of Nimrod Sentinels pouring in from the future. If this does not quench your thirst for action, then you're just being an asshole.

The art of Mike Choi is absolutely brilliant here. His style and that of X-Force has always been dark and graphic. This kind of thing would never work on a happy-go-lucky type story featuring Spider-Man, the Power Pack, and Donald Duck. It works best in an environment were a certain level of blood, guts, and various other body fluids are spilled and X-Force #27 has all that in abundance. The previous issue in X-men Legacy #236 really set things up nicely. For ten pages the likes of Cyclops, Namor, Rogue, Angel, Hellion, Surge, and a whole host other X-men fight off an invasion of Nimrod Sentinels. Anyone who is familiar with the history of the X-men knows that Nimrod sentinels are like the T-X Terminators of the Marvel Universe. One alone would be a bitch to handle. But throw dozens if not hundreds into the mix and you might as well save yourself the trouble, tie a noose around your neck, and throw yourself off the nearest five story structure. The X-men still hang strong, but the Nimrods do some serious damage. Arms are burned off, skin is burned, and bones are broken. It's a fight of gritty realism mixed with the awesome of mutant powers. You couldn't get much better than that without a topless woman and a pound of blow.

It's often understated when heroes get hurt in comics. Part of the X-men's appeal is that they're very human. You punch them and they'll bleed. You hurt them and they'll get hurt. The Nimrod sentinels definitely do that. But they don't land the killing blow. They seriously wound the X-men and dampen what little pride they have left. It's basically the same as a bully walking up to a kid in the schoolyard, roughing him up a little, and then saying they'll beat the living shit out of him after school so he has something to look forward to. The Nimrods do more than just rough up. They have the audacity to call this attack a scouting mission because they do pull back even though they have the X-men on the ropes. Now if this sounds a little confusing, bear with me because there is a method behind the madness and it's not worth bitching over.

More of Bastion's tactical brilliance is showcased here because he does something that would normally give villains the kind of headaches that would make them become postal workers. He understands that there is a future (the Days of Futures Past timeline to be precise) where neither humans nor mutants win the struggle. What he does in the present really won't amount to a pile of cow shit if the future remains the same. In order to change the future, he has to work in four dimensions and not just three. It would make Doc Brown from Back to the Future proud.

The plan is simple yet terrifying elegant. He's going to open a portal to allow 170,000 Nimrod sentinels to pour in from the future and deliver the final blow to the X-men. In terms of sheer force that's like swatting a fly with an H-bomb. In this case, however, there's no such thing as overkill. Bastion went through the trouble of trapping the X-men and killing their teleporters and he's going to make good use of this opportunity damn it!

Needless to say, the X-men are deadpanned. They got a whole city that's going to hell because of them and a fight that's taking place in both the future and the present. Even for a leader as strong as Cyclops, it's a lot to take in and seems like only a matter of time before a "we're fucked" mentality sets in. Some like Prodigy have already began returning to the fetal position. He starts whining that they're all going to die like that guy in the street corner preaching that the alien supergod Assholio is going to return and anally rape them all to death. Logan has to forcibly retrieve his balls from the recesses of his ass, but he gets him an everyone else to focus.

The decision is painfully clear for Cyclops. If Bastion is going to fight them in four dimensions then they'll have to do the same. This is where that one final time jump Cable has comes into play.

If readers would recall New Mutants #13 way back when they'll remember Cable mentioning he has one last time jump to the future. He threatened to use it to take Hope away from this madness, but Hope decided against it. Now they're going to have to use that jump anyways. They're going to send X-Force into the future to take down the Nimrod sentinels before they can pour through and deliver the Mike Tyson punch out of killing blows. It goes without saying that this is a suicide mission on par with diving naked into a volcano to retrieve an ant sized diamond. But that's never stopped Cable or X-Force before. Even though Hope is dead set against it, Cable does not shy away from the mission.

This leads to a touching moment that was hinted at in one of the variant covers. Cable, who has been raising and protecting Hope since she was just an infant, has to part ways with her. He won't allow her to come with him to the future. Her place is now in the present. Naturally, Hope gets emotional, but she doesn't try to stop him. They share a tender moment. Hope doesn't call her father or anything. She still calls him Nathan, which kind of shows she's a little pissed that he's leaving her behind. But that doesn't stop Cable from telling Hope he loves her. It's not so much the "I love you" a man gives when he tucks his daughter in at night. It's more like the "I love you and I may never see you again" that a guy tells someone when he's going on a suicide mission and doesn't expect to come back in one piece. That takes a big heart as well as planet sized balls. It's probably the most emotional Cable has ever been in decades.

In between these emotional moments and suicide missions, there's still a plan in the present to worry about. Cyclops doesn't just have mutant kind on his shoulders. He has the whole city of San Francisco and all the liberals, hippies, and homos that live in it. To keep the scope of this clusterfuck in perspective, Craig Kyle and Chris Yost take some time to show the sheer chaos that has erupted throughout the city. Most of the people have no idea what the fuck is going on and look ready to shit every pair of pants in their wardrobe. Then again this is the Marvel Universe. You would think people have gotten used to this. The only ones who benefit are the pants makers of the world. They fucking love it.

In addition, Kyle and Yost spend some time going over the wounded within the team. It's a good way to reinforce the point that the X-men are running out of able-bodied people to fight Bastion with. The injuries are mounting and so is any sense of hope that they'll get out of this in one piece. If any readers suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder they would have seizures over this shit. They not only have to keep the city from falling apart, but they have to be ready for Bastion's final move. If nothing else, they'll be plenty pissed when they finally get a crack at this asshole who can't help that he was programmed to be such a douche-bag.

The final scene is a powerful moment for Cyclops. He, Emma, and Hope watch X-Force and Cable disappear into the future. It's at this point Cyclops laments. He knows he's sent a team that includes his own son on a suicide mission. He tries to maintain his stern leader-like poise that every writer seems to gush over since the Morrison run. Only here he looks a lot more vulnerable. Even with Hope in the room, he's distraught that this is what it comes to. It sets things up nicely for Matt Fraction in the next issue of Uncanny X-men because he just loves writing how kick-ass Cyclops is. It almost makes me wonder if he got on his knees and begged Kyle and Yost Anna Nichole style to end the issue like this.

So X-Force #27 had action, drama, scope, and heart from cover to cover. So what's the problem? I know I haven't mentioned any shortcomings through the review, but there's a reason for that. The biggest problem this issue has (and I say biggest in relative terms) isn't something minor on certain pages. It's an issue that stems the whole book. As great as Mike Choi was with the art, there are just some areas where it doesn't work. When Hope is hugging Cable to say goodbye and when Cyclops is lamenting that he's killed his son, their faces look like statues. You might as well be looking at monuments on Easter Island because that's how much emotion they convey. It's not a good thing when the variant cover by David Finch has the most emotion of the book. I know that's not necessarily the style of X-Force, but this is within the context of Second Coming. Since so few panels are dedicated to these moments, the artistic representation is important. It doesn't help that the dialogue falls a little flat here. It makes what should be some very powerful moments into something the reader can easily gloss over.

It's not terribly egregious. The comic still has plenty of awesome to make up for this, but this definitely holds it back from being another perfect 10. It also falters on some of the themes set up by Mike Carey in the previous issue. For Kyle and Yost, I expect better than this. Granted those standards are pretty high, but they don't get a pass. They still have an issue to make up for this and there's no reason why they can't.

One other criticism (which isn't just restricted to this book) is how nobody has commented on Hope's appearance yet. She has red hair and green eyes and a dress sense very similar to Jean Grey yet nobody says anything? It's getting to be pretty late in the game. If someone doesn't pick up on this theme soon then someone at Marvel needs to be fired. They have been dropping hints that Hope is Jean or the Phoenix since the end of Messiah Complex. If they don't even attempt to address it in the next four issues then that's enough to take this whole crossover down. There's still time, but it needs to be addressed. I don't see Fraction doing it since that would fall under the category of time not making Cyclops and Emma awesome, which is his least favorite activity. There is plenty of room for others to fill the void and hopefully they do because this has been making fans like myself bang our heads against the table for years and the doctors say I may brain my damage if it doesn't stop.

Because of these small but important shortcomings, X-Force #27 gets a 4 out of 5. It has everything you want in the awesome that is Second Coming, but some little yet profound issues keep it from being perfect. This basically marks the end of Act 2. There is only one month left to follow! Bring it on, Uncanny! Hopefully we'll be getting some answers regarding Hope, the Phoenix, Jean Grey, and the mutant messiah very soon.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

X-POSITION: Mike Carey - Four for Four!

Last week I was ecstatic to see another question of mine posted on CBR for the 3rd time. This week the tradition continues. My question was once again posted for Mike Carey, writer of X-men Legacy. Of all the ongoing X-titles, Mike Carey is one of my favorite because he does characterization better and more consistently than any other writer. He's done more for Rogue and Charles Xavier than any writer in decades and it's very satisfying getting an answer from him. The question I asked wasn't easy, but I felt it was pertinent and it involved Mystique.

MarvelMaster616 is dying to know more about Mystique's mystique - what secrets can you divulge?

I've noticed that for all the history revealed about her, there is still a good deal of mystery surrounding Mystique's past. There is no story that reveals what she was like as a child or how she came to be the twisted shape-shifter we all know and love. Will we ever get a chance to see the story of Mystique's childhood?

That would be very cool, MM. I don't know of any current plans to delve into Mystique's past (was "The Draco" in 2003 the last time this was done?), but clearly there's a lot more to be revealed about her - not least what experiences in life have made her so mercilessly manipulative of others. You'd need the right platform, though; unless it was a self-contained miniseries, there'd have to be a reason in terms of current events for delving into and uncovering her past. That was the sort of story I loved telling when "Legacy" was Professor X's book.

CBR X-Postion: Mike Carey

It's been a question I haven't heard many people ask. Mystique is one of the most notable characters in the X-men's class of villains. Her history is pretty extensive and she's been behind some pretty destructive moments in the past. That being said there's very little insight into her past. There's no comic in the 616 continuity (or any continuity for that matter) that describes where she came from, who her parents were, and what she was like before she became a shape shifter. With the death of Nightcrawler in Second Coming, I was hoping this would be a good medium to tell that story. It doesn't look like that's going to happen. Mike Carey's response seems to imply there's no room for it at the moment and I can see where he's coming from.

I still hope that story gets told. I certainly plan to tell it in X-men Supreme when the time comes. In the meantime he'll be one of the writers I'll be following even after Second Coming. His work remains a standard by which other X-men writers are measured by. Now there's Jason Aaron in the mix for X-Position. Guess I better find something to ask him as well! Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

X-men Supreme Update - Sabretooth Bio

I know it's been a while since I updated the bios page on my X-men Supreme website. There's a good reason for it though. Some bios may contain spoilers at this point and I don't wish to spoil some of the upcoming events in the series. I kind of want people to read it and review it first. But since Revenge of Weapon X is in full swing, it seems like an appropriate time to tell the story of Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth.

Victor Creed - Sabretooth

His bio should offer some insight into his madness. That's going to be vital as the final chapter unfolds. It is still set for a June 4th release and a preview should be up by May 28th. So stay tuned! X-men Supreme is still going strong and the more support I get, the more awesome the series will be. Nuff said.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deadpool #23 - Viva Las Vegas!

Even though the Marvel Universe has been going through catastrophic shifts that are making many shit bricks on a weekly basis, the Deadpool series has been an island of stable awesome. It really doesn't matter what's going on around this series, Deadpool will still carry himself with the same level of entertaining awesome that makes every comic such a joy to read. Deadpool #23 continues that tradition and does it Las Vegas style!

With Dark Reign over there's a party going on and everybody is celebrating. There seems to be some extra 4th wall breaking from random characters commenting on how the grim and gritty nature of recent comics is finally lifting. It's almost as if the artists rendered critical fans and gave them a few lines to unload on the Marvel writing staff. Naturally, they have them taking potshots at characters like the Punisher and Deadpool. As Marvel's grimmest and grittiest, they rightfully epitomize this nature that can have fanboys arguing for days on end.

Skipping whether the arguments are valid or not, this is where Deadpool comes in. Even though the comment was made off-hand, the man was watching and as we all know Deadpool has a calm, reasonable way of dealing with such critics. He blows them the fuck up.

This sets the tone for the comic, throwing the usual wit before the explosions begin. For once the exchanges are a little dry. Usually, Deadpool is able to throw some pretty memorable one-liners before he blows it all to hell. This time it was a little flat. But the pace doesn't slow down. Deadpool quickly gets into the spirit of Las Vegas and begins carrying himself as a high roller. For all the antics he's been privy too in the past, it seems so fitting. He's the kind of eccentric guy any Las Vegas veteran would recognize. You know, the guy who hovers over the craps or roulette table and draws a crowd of beautiful women and potential cocaine dealers while he's on a winning streak. He's the kind of guy casual gamblers either love or hate and it's hard not to hate Deadpool (if he's not in the process of killing you). Of course, that's a lot easier for the casino who are getting bilked by his winning streak.

Now if the movie "Casino" has taught society anything it's that Casino's hate it when people start winning big and if someone starts winning too much, Robert Dinero will call Joe Pesci to hunt you down and beat your winnings out of you with a baseball bat or whatever heavy object may be in the immediate area. The casino heads in this issue would make Michael Bay weep with joy because they don't just summon the usual thugs. They do what most greedy assholes do in comics. They get giant robots to do the work for them.

Now the next scene poses another difficult question. How do you get a guy like Deadpool away from the tables when he's winning big? The answer is simple. You exploit his greatest weakness: Bea Arther. A quick announcement about a Bea Arther look-alike contest goes out and Deadpool drops everything, grabs his winnings and runs out to partake. It's not the first time his love for Bea Arther has been a theme, but it is the first time someone has used it against him. And wouldn't you know it? The scheme worked like a charm. Deadpool arrives outside only to be confronted by a robot called "The House." Considering it's on the verge of copyright infringement for the much cooler "Dr. House" it's not the best name nor design for a robot. But it gets the job done. Deadpool gets beat to a pulp.

After the fight, the big revelation of the issue comes next. Who could be behind a robot of this power that uses the greed of Casino's for profit? No it isn't Whiplash or Justin Hammer. It's Deadpool's old friend Weasel. Now if you'll recall, Weasel hasn't always been on the good side of Deadpool's schemes. In his last appearance with this series he got dressed up in a bird costume and used as a side-kick to Deadpool's pirate scheme. And no, I'm not making that up and that's not a cute metaphor. That really happened. This is Deadpool we're talking about. That kind of shit is par for the course.

Now thankfully, Weasel doesn't turn out to be a complete douche-bag. After some witty exchanges, Deadpool slips out of his confinement and confronts Weasel. You would think a guy like him would shit his pants and tremble as was the case in the Pirate arc, but here he's pretty calm and collected. That doesn't seem to fall in line with the usual themes of a Deadpool comic and it's kind of disappointing to the reader. What isn't disappointing is the deal Deadpool proposes. Because even when he's had the shit beat out of him, Deadpool still finds a way to get his kicks and when giant robots are involved you know he's going to have some fun with it.

He strikes a deal with Weasel and they hatch a scheme. They employ the services of Grizzly to bust into a casino and cause a little havoc. It's no Oceans 11 and the action is not ball bustingly awesome, but it serves it's purpose. The casino summons their hero to deal with it and this time he brings along a sidekick named Wildcard, which without a doubt is a much cooler name for a robot.

More fighting ensues. Deadpool, who is operating the Wildcard robot, enjoys his newfound status and reeks all sorts of destruction. Can you honestly blame the guy? This is a casino that wrongfully besmirched the name of Bea Arther. Of course he's going to make them pay! While it seems he's on Weasel's side and that of the casino, there is a deeper purpose to the battle. Deadpool goes onto grab Grizzly and fly him up over the skies of Las Vegas for a little chit chat. There they can discuss their next plan for mayhem without the casinos listening in. It sets things up nicely for the next issue.

I've said it once and I'll keep saying it until it's no longer valid. Deadpool is one of the most consistently entertaining comics Marvel is churning out right now. He offers a much needed break from the gloom and doom of other Marvel characters who can't help but go from one fuck up to the inevitable redemption that comes later. Not that I'm against those stories, but every fan needs an outlet that will just make them laugh in the glow of sheer awesome. Deadpool delivers this outlet better than any other series.

As for this issue in general, the quality isn't up to par with recent issues. As great as the setting of Las Vegas is, there remains a noticeable lack of the usual wit that makes this comic so distinctively kick ass. That and naming a robot "The House" just seems completely unimaginative. It doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the issue, but it does leave some holes in what is definitely an entertaining story. It's nothing to go on a ten page rant over and it's nothing one solid issue can't fix.

Deadpool #23 gets a 3.5 out of 5 for continuing the high standards set by the Merc With a Mouth and coming up short in a few areas. It leaves plenty of room for more awesome in the next issue and since stories like Second Coming are becoming so dark, the Marvel Universe needs something like this. Deadpool may not wow readers with literary insight, but he'll still leave them laughing their asses off and feeling thoroughly entertained in the process. Nuff said!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

X-men Legacy #236 - Continued Legacy of Awesome

As strong as X-men Second Coming has been, it hasn't been perfectly consistent. My last two reviews of Uncanny X-men #524 and New Mutants #13 both had a healthy dose of cynicism as well as praise. But that's nothing to bang your head against the wall over. Even the best titles can't be consistent. However, there are a few that regardless of the circumstances still managed to shine with a consistent level of awesome. In the scope of Second Coming, Mike Carey's X-men Legacy is one of those rare titles and this issue shows it.

There's no subtle build-up this time. The very first few pages are like a slap across the face, a splash of liquid nitrogen, and sledge hammer to the balls. Mike Carey gets right into the action, picking up with the investigation into these mysterious oil rigs that Bastion has been tweaking lately. They don't have to investigate for very long. Before the big brains of the X-men can channel their inner Einstein, the damn thing literally blows up in their face.

The result is something that will generate one big "oh fuck" among everyone in the X-men in addition to pretty much everybody in the greater San Francisco area. These devices employ some classic comic book physics and by physics I mean the kind of impossible manifestations that you can only visualize with the aid of weapons grade LSD and hallucination mushrooms. A giant red shell of unbreakable energy forms over the entire city and traps the X-men inside. Keep in mind that they lost all their teleporters like Vanisher, Nightcrawler, Pixie, and Ariel. They even lost their X-jet. So they really are trapped. Bastion has them cornered and isn't going to let them get away. Cyclops described his strategy the best. He cut off their communications and their escape routes. Now he's free to deliver the killing blow.

Their initial response is expected. Is there any way out of this thing? Most readers will naturally scoff and say "why don't you just go underneath it?" as if it were the easiest thing int he world. Well if your average fanboy can figure that out, so can Bastion and the X-men. Cyclops wasted no time in contacting Namor to see if this barrier extends underground. Guess what? It does. It's not a dome. It's a sphere. That's Bastion 1, know-it-all fanboys 0. When he's looking to trap his enemies, Bastion takes no chances.

From this point on, Bastion has the mutants right where he wants them. So naturally he's going to get a little cocky. He basically tells his friends in the Sapien League they can put their feet up, take five, and chill back home with a tub of ice cream and some movies because the mutants are doomed. They have nowhere to hide and he's got everything he needs to take them out. He's essentially telling everyone he's got the biggest dick in the city before anybody can take off their pants and start measuring. It's more a classic kind of villainy and one that shows a great deal of confidence, if not overly so. It seems cliched, but any experienced comic leader wouldn't expect anything less.

Now something this bad is going to gain a lot of attention. It's at this point that Mike Carey does something that hasn't been done yet in the crossover. He incorporates it into the greater Marvel universe by having the Avengers show up. From the looks of it, they've already gotten a head start on the Heroic Age. It almost seems as though Carey lifted them from Avengers #1 that came out this past week as well. They basically arrive on the scene and try to break through the barrier. Thor takes a whack at it with his hammer and it doesn't even make a dent. As the science geeks explained it, this barrier is part matter and part energy. It can't be broken in the same way a slab of mud can't be broken. So the Avengers are helpless to assist the mutants and the X-men are on their own.

Now some may say that this is kind of a waste. Remember, this is an X-men comic. What the hell are the Avengers doing soaking up precious ink that could otherwise be used for X-men? Well it's another one of those little things that the insufferable douche-bags of the world often overlook. For an event this big, it would be pretty stupid for it to go unnoticed by the rest of the Marvel Universe. This brief entry not only shows that the Avengers know about it, but they try to do something and are unsuccessful. Maybe Carey had another scene in mind, but this helps clear out that hole and makes Second Coming an event that is truly a Marvel event. In that sense it's more than worth the extra ink.

While the big guns are going at it, there is still room for those important character moments that make these titles so special. In the last issue of the crossover Hope Summers admitted that she lied when she said she was ready to come back to the present. This leads to a powerful scene with Cable where he discusses the importance of the mission. At the same time he never forgets her role as guardian. He says that if she wants they can make one last time jump into the future and leave this all behind. It would mean the death of the X-men, but if she wants this then he can make it happen. Hope is left with a very difficult decision because at this point it still hasn't been revealed what's so special about her and why she's supposed to save all mutants. Even so, she makes her decision. She decides to stay.

It's an important moment for her character. Hope Summers shows that she isn't some tool. She's a real character who has very human flaws. Like all messiahs, they have doubts along the way. She's seen so much destruction happen in her name and it's only natural to have that affect her. So here she is trembling for a bit, but then sucking it up and moving forward. Fate is trying to press her down and she's kicking it in the balls. It's a very admirable act. Kind of reminds me of another certain redhead, but that's another story.

It's a great mix between character development and action. However, Mike Carey doesn't make every drop of ink count. In a very rare shift this issue had very little Rogue in it and most Carey comics give at least some screen time to demonstrate her awesomeness. She does show up here, but only in a limited capacity. All she does is have a conversation with Toad and that's about it. For someone who has given Rogue some amazing moments in this crossover thus far, it seemed a little half-assed. It was like Carey had to arm wrestle the editors or something to put Rogue on at least a few pages and it feels a little out-of-place. If he's going to use Rogue, he might as well make it meaningful and it just wasn't that meaningful here.

Meaning aside, Mike Carey saves the best moments for last as Cyclops and a team of X-men fly into the city in an effort to contain this unfolding disaster. Along the way they see a glowing ball of light that appears to have been lifted right from the Terminator movies. Seeing as how the X-men don't keep up with the movies, they go to investigate it. And guess what pops out? If you've seen Terminator you won't be at all surprised. It's a fleet of Nimrod Sentinels. For those of you who don't know their X-men history, the Nimrod Sentinels are the Terminator equivalent of the T-1000 that has spawned a bastard child with the T-X from Terminator 3. It's mean, it's nasty, and it's indestructible. One alone would be a hassle. An army would require an entire new wardrobe of underwear because you would have shit every one of them.

This sets things up perfectly for Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, who take on the next chapter in X-Force. This is right up their alley, taking on a bunch of killer robots under Bastion's control. It's the kind of over-the-top battle that sprays napalm into your skull and dumps gasoline on it. For an issue that started off with a bang, it's the perfect way to cap it off.

Mike Carey has once again proven to be the most consistent X-men writer of the Second Coming crowd. His stories and handling of the characters remains the standard by which all others are measured. He is able to get deeper both into the light and dark aspects of the X-men, making for a balance that just isn't shown in other comics. It should make writers feel secure because he's staying on board after the crossover is over while Kyle and Yost are jumping ship. In addition to his writing the art by Greg Land is a perfect compliment. It isn't the best art in the series and it is a little inconsistent at times. But it definitely works and works pretty damn well.

The whole package is sound. The last two issues may have been bumps in the road, but they're officially a thing of the past. Mike Carey has brought Second Coming back to prominence. This issue gets a stellarly awesome 5 out of 5 and an A-plus. The stage has been set for X-Force and the awesome is just screaming to be let out. X-fans everywhere would be wise to listen.

Friday, May 21, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 11: Revenge of Weapon X Part 2 is LIVE

This was a big week for X-men Supreme. My website hit counter has officially reached 1000 hits! It may not seem like much in the grand scope of the internet, but to a humble X-men fan and fanfiction writer like myself it's huge. I can't thank my readers and fellow X-fans enough. It's been a pleasure writing X-men Supreme and I still have plenty more story to tell. Today that story continues with the next installment of the Revenge of Weapon X arc.

Issue 11: Revenge of Weapon X Part 2

For Wolverine fans and Weapon X fans in general, this story is for you! This is the biggest arc thus far, but I assure you it won't be the last. I look forward to getting feedback, especially from the ravenous Wolverine fans out there. Please feel free to post comments or send me reviews. Until next time, enjoy and take care!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brightest Day #2 - Slowing Down With Grace

I've been singing the praises of Brightest Day for a while now. It's been hard not to. Geoff Johns has really revitalized the DC Universe from the ashes of Blackest Night and the Brightest Day event that follows it has been every bit the ball bustingly awesome story that readers have come to expect. The first two issues of Brightest Day were riding the wave of awesome from Blackest Night. They never missed a beat, but as is often the case with most things in life it's hard to keep with that kind of momentum. Brightest Day #2 is still awesome, but it lacks the extra punch to knock the reader's socks off that the first two did.

It starts off with some good moments involving Firestorm, who seems to be having a real identity crisis. Since Blackest Night Firestorm has been having a bit of an identity crisis. The two sides that make up Firestar, Jason Rusch and the Professor, are not getting along and when this merger is the sole basis for an ass blastingly huge amount of power it's cause for concern. They try to get help from Ray Palmer, Captain Atom, but something goes horribly wrong and the ominous flash bodes well for the next step in this conflict.

Sadly, that's the last we hear of this story. That's how Brightest Day is structured. It sets the tone with each of these sub plots to wet your appetite for the next. It can be hard to follow at times, but Geoff Johns makes it worth it.

The next plot involves a pretty nasty development involving J'onn J'ozz. And wouldn't you know it? The video game Rock Band is involved! Actually, it's not really involved. It's more of a funny backdrop, but it still makes you wonder how much EA paid to get that placement in the book. Whatever it was, for a comic this cool it's more than worth it. It's just a shame we'll never know if the warranty was paid up because the image of the Martian Manhunter on the TV causes quite a stir and by stir I mean a murderous rampage. In some ways you feel Rock Band is a victim too and that only adds to the tragedy.

To counter this somewhat gruesome act, a nice little plot with the Martian Manhunder unfolds. He visits the grave of an old friend and learns of a woman from a vision he had on Mars. It requires him to do a little grave digging, but only J'onn can make it work and not have it be disturbing. Seeing his emotional response to the picture really reminds readers why he was the heart of the Justice League for so many years.

From there he visits the man's daughter, who by now is old and near the end of her life in a nursing home. He takes her on a little trip, posing as her father and flying her on a little journey into the past. It makes for a nice little montage into J'onn's history and helps reconnect with the character that has been missing for too long. This is by far one of the most emotional parts of the book. Since J'onn is such an emotional character, it makes sense to have him revisit the past to a point. He's been lost to many and since so much of his character is tied to the past and what happened to his home planet, this little side plot is a nice way to really dive back into what makes this character tick. It's enough to make anyone rethink their stance on little green men. They can have a big heart as well. Only J'onn J'ozz can pull of mimicking an old woman's father and not have it be creepy. Plus, it helps that the father looks like Colonel Sanders from KFC.

From here, things slow down and get a bit more disappointing. In the midst of these stories the plot involving Hawkman and Hawkgirl makes another appearance. I found myself enjoying their little saga in the last issue the most. They were going after a shady group that got their hands on their first incarnations from Ancient Egypt. They were both foaming at the mouth, ready to throw down and beat the living shit out of whoever dared to desecrate their bones.

Well sadly, that didn't happen. In fact, it seemed they didn't even catch up to the bastards. They just arrived in some room full of artifacts and got pissed at all the reminders of how their fate was being controlled. It makes for an intense moment and all, but it's about as exciting as it sounds. Considering how it was set up in the last issue, this was a major disappointment.

The same can be said for the next plot involving Boston Brand, Aquaman, and Mera. In the last issue Aquaman flashed some of his Blackest Night digs in a way that would probably make Mera a suspect for necrophilia. But before that mystery is even touched on, they just dive back into the ocean. There's no development of this plot. There's no hint at what will happen involving that brief flash from Blackest Night. They just disappear and leave Boston Brand as confused as the readers.

It seems like a hell of an oversight. Boston Brand even ends up doing what I think a lot of readers might want to do and goes after Aquaman to get some answers. Problem is he still doesn't seem to have a firm handle on the new ring of his. It didn't come with an instruction manual so basic things like flight really don't come easy. It's almost comical to look at. The man is like Al Bundy trying to assemble a bicycle from scratch. It hurts his pride almost as much as his body.

But like Al Bundy, Brand does get a handle of things towards the end. He had to fall a hell of a ways to get it, but better late than never right? Well that may not be the case because where he landed wasn't exactly friendly. It turned out to be the Anti-matter universe and someone big, scary, and gut bustingly powerful isn't happy about his presence. It sets the stage for the next issue and hopefully some much needed action.

So what was the problem with this issue? Geoff Johns is usually pretty good when it comes to working out the little things. Here there just seems to be too much prelude and not enough feature presentation. It's like watching a bunch of trailers and they cut out at all the parts you want to see. Some parts are very well done, like the one involving the Martian Manhunter. Others like Aquaman and the Hawks just fall flat. It almost feels like you're left with a comic half awesome and half mediocre. Even though mediocrity by Geoff Johns is still plenty awesome to hold it's own against most writers, it won't blow your mind with supreme awesome and will only keep you interested in seeing the next issue.

The score for this is difficult to work out, but taking both the good and the not so good into account Brightest Day #2 gets a 3.5 out of 5. It still kicks enough ass to make the next issue worth getting, but it isn't holding true to the lofty standards it has made for itself. There's still plenty of quality to go around and there's definitely room to make up for it in future issues. I'm still knee deep in the awesome shit that is Brightest Day so don't think this issue warrants dropping the title. It would take a hell of a lot more than that to overcome the sheer awesome that Brightest Day has to offer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

X-Position: Victor Gischler - Another Question Posted

I've been getting lucky these past three weeks and no I don't mean in that way. Three times I've posted a question to CBR's weekly X-Position column and three times my question has been asked and answered. First it was Louise Simonson. Then it was Matt Fraction. This week it's Victor Gischler. All in all it feels so good to be three for three!

Gischler is in the unique position of taking on the event after Second Coming concludes. He'll be taking on a mutants vs. vampire story, which in and of itself is radiating with the kind of awesome that can cure cancer. He also works on Deadpool Corps, which instantly gives him the kind of street cred most comic writers would kill for. I had a question regarding a recent addition to the Deadpool family, Lady Deadpool.

X-Position: Victor Gischler

MarvelMaster616 is starting to become a regular around here, and we like it! He hoping to see more of a different Deadpool – you know, the Merc with Mammaries...

I've grown fond of Lady Deadpool in "Deadpool Corps" and hope she continues to get the love she deserves. That being said, will we ever see her interact with other characters in the Marvel Universe? Her presence could cause all sorts of awkward moments with the Avengers, the X-Men, and especially Spider-Man!

That's the best idea I've ever heard anyone say ever about anything. There is a Lady Deadpool one-shot on the way and some Dogpool plans as well. I'm looking forward to reading these. Should be a hoot!

I like the subtext of his response! That means I may get my wish and see Lady Deadpool cohorting with the rest of the Marvel U sooner rather than later. If that's the case, I'll definitely be looking forward to it! Deadpool is just too awesome in either gender to keep away from the rest of Marvel.

Now next week, it's Mike Carey's turn. He's one of the better X-men writers on staff right now so I did send in a question for him as well. Hopefully, I can go four for four! I'll know in a week!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Second Coming New Mutants 13: A Step Back Towards Awesome

As you may recall, my last report on Second Coming portrayed a harsh bump in the road for what is supposed to be the biggest X-men crossover in decades. Uncanny X-men #524 was the first major pothole in what had been a smooth path towards legendary awesome. Matt Fraction did the crossover a disservice with his latest installment and Zeb Wells was forced to get the train back on the track with New Mutant's #13. It's kind of unfair, like having to clean up a hotel room that had been the stage of an after party by Led Zeppelin. Wells had to wade through his share of semen stained filth to clean up the series and his efforts were solid for the most part.

The issue starts off a bit more disjointed than the others. It takes the action to Domino and Vanisher of X-Force, who are just learning who had been killed in action. Naturally, Cyclops wants a teleporter back into the mix and Vanisher is the only one left. Unfortunately, Vanisher lost his balls somewhere and wanted no part of it. He preferred to go on a brothel run in Portugal, which may seem smart to some guys. Unfortunately, those same guys were waiting for him with guns and he got wacked Sopranos style.

It was an inglorious way to go. Compared to the deaths of Nightcrawler and Ariel, Vanisher's demise was kind of cheap. This is a guy who fought alongside X-Force. For him to just die like this felt contrived, like the man had an expiration date and rather than enjoy the rest of what he had to offer the writers just cut their losses and threw him in the trash. It may work for milk, but not here. He may be a lesser character, but still. He's a character. It's a shame he has to go out like this.

The death of Vanisher isn't really dwelled on. In fact, that's the last he's heard of in this whole issue. The next scene takes us to Donald Pierce, who escaped from captivity and is ready to implement the next stage of Bastion's plan. In this the plot of Second Coming really shines because it shows some strategy behind the madness. This isn't some ultimate evil looking to attack the good guys with brunt force. This is a foe who doesn't have their head too far up their ass. They've clearly read Sun Tzu's "Art of War" and are employing a vital strategy that will become a big factor later on.

The New Mutants get some moments next. Each are still pretty devastated by what happened to Karma and many are having doubts. But not much is made of this at first because more focus is placed on Cyclops and Beast. They're still in the infirmary looking over the wounded and here it seems Wells is making up for some of the bullshit Matt Fraction unloaded in the previous issue.

One big criticism of Uncanny 524 was that Beast showed up and he came off as a flaming asshole, chastising Cyclops while he was holding the grave of his dead friend on his shoulders. Here, he's a bit more tame. He still is as comfortable around Cyclops as a gay, Jewish, black guy around a card carrying member of the KKK, but he's a lot more respectful this time around. The two men have a civilized conversation and Beast agrees to stay on board with the X-men until the end. It's a good thing too because an event this big without Beast is like demolition derby without the crashes.

There's nothing wrong with this scene, but it just feels like it wouldn't have been necessary had Fraction not turned Beast into a raging asshole in the last issue. This scene could have been used for something more useful, but Wells seemed obligated to address it so that Beast wouldn't come off as too great a douche bag. It seemed as though this scene should have expanded on the earlier scene with the New Mutants (because it is their comic after all). However, that scene got cut short and because there's so much going on in Second Coming they're basically left on the back burner like undercooked flanks steaks.

The next few scenes don't help them as they focus on the science team's expedition to an offshore oil rig. Given the news oil rigs have been getting lately, it's only fitting that they would be the sight of Bastion's next demonstration in douche-baggery. The team uncovers what looks like glorified wall clocks from a 70s disco bar, but they turn out to be these bombs that explode with manifestations of pink clouds. If that sounds fucked up, don't be afraid. Your brain is still working. There are just few words to describe it and that's par for the course with Bastion.

While this is going on, the New Mutants finally get some more screen time as Cable leads Hope to the cafeteria to get some much needed nourishment. It makes sense considering from her perspective, she just came from the future and has only had time to gorge on candy bars for nourishment. And that can't be healthy for a teenage mutant messiah.

This is where she comes face to face with Danielle Moonstar, who wasn't too happy about what happened to her friends earlier. She seems to echo the same sentiment Wolverine did at the end of Uncanny X-men 524. She has doubts that all these sacrifices they're making in the name of this teenage girl are really worth it. And who could blame her? One of her friends lost a leg. She has a right to be a little pissed so she takes it out on Hope. That would seem smart if this wasn't a girl who was raised by Cable.

An old fashioned food fight erupts. It's like a scene out of an old teen comedy. Danielle is the stupid jock bully and Hope is the undersized yet ballsy upstart looking to prove herself. She definitely shows some grit here in taking on Moonstar. While this is going on, Cyclops comes rushing in and tries to break it up. But Cable stops him. As far as he's concerned, it's better to just let them fight. Apparently, that's how all the world's problems get solved. It's worked for him plenty of times before and it's pretty awesome. So who are we to argue?

This leads to a heated conversation with Cyclops that forebodes on Cable's fate. He says at one point he has one last time jump to the future and he can use it to take him and Hope away from this madness. Now based on the solicitations of future issues, that's probably not going to happen. Hope will likely stay, but it seems more likely now that Cable is going to get stuck in the future again and Hope is going to be left behind. It's not the same as killing a character off, but considering how Vanisher died earlier that's a nice alternative if they go that route.

What's strange here is that the food fight is probably the most drawn out fight scene in this issue. That's kind of a shame because there was potential for more and it came in the very next scene.

Remember how Pierce was snooping around earlier? Well he made good use of his snooping and managed to blow up the X-men's jets and transports. This way they're stranded on Utopia and without any teleporters, they're basically boxed in. As far as tactics go, Bastion deserves a gold star here. This is pretty solid planning and there isn't much the X-men can do.

From here, it seems a fight is going to break out. Namor and X-23 show up to vent their frustrations on Pierce. But if you were hoping for a more drawn out struggle, you'll be disappointed. Pierce goes down faster than a Vietnamese hooker. Cyclops finishes him off before the fight can become truly awesome. It has the same problems with the fight against Vanisher. You get excited about what it could lead to, but it's over too soon. It's the comic book equivalent of premature ejaculation.

So the X-men are royally screwed and boxed in. Naturally, Danielle is going to feel vindicated while Hope is going to be beating herself up. This leads to one of the most powerful scenes in the issue. Hope confesses to Cable that she lied when she said she was ready to come back. She had no idea her presence would cause this kind of death and the guilt is eating her up inside like a flesh eating disease. Who can blame her for feeling a little guilty? For the sad predicament she finds herself in, it's a very human and very understandable reaction. The mere fact she isn't puking out of disgust shows just how strong a character she is.

The end of the issue is the strength of the issue. It helps tie together some of the dangling plot lines left over from Uncanny X-men 524 and makes for a nice moment before X-men Legacy picks it up. This issue has much more going for it than the previous issue and Zeb Wells succeeds in many of the areas where Fraction fell short. It doesn't completely rebound from the previous issue and some of that is beyond Wells's control. The contrived action scenes in conjunction with the deep character moments simply didn't mesh well. It leaves the reader wanting more in the same way you want more potato chips upon finding out the other half of the bag was eaten by a greedy roommate. It's still as solid as can be. The dialogue is great and the art is beautiful, fitting in nicely with the rest of saga thus far.

So what kind of score does New Mutants 13 get? For having to deal with the shortcomings of Matt Fraction's previous installment, Zeb Wells deserves a little bonus. As such, the issue earns a 4 out of 5. It has action, but of the limited variety. It has solid character moments and it moves the plot along in a clear and meaningful way. Overall, it is a worthy and solid installment in the Second Coming saga. It sets the stage for what promises to be an action packed Act 2, which begins with X-men Legacy. To that all I can say is bring it on! Second Coming is still awesome and hopefully it can stay that way through the final two acts!