Friday, December 31, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 23: Family and Fiends Part 2 LIVE!

Well it's the last day of the year and the day before the first anniversary of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series! It's hard to believe so much has happened in the span of a year. This fanfiction series started off as a simple idea. Since then it has grown into more than I ever could have imagined. I couldn't be more thrilled with what I've accomplished with this fanfiction series yet there is so much I want to do with it. So it's only fitting that I update X-men Supreme with a new issue on the day before this series reaches the one year mark. For all you Nightcrawler fans out there, this issue should help ring in the new year!

Issue 23: Family and Fiends Part 2

The opening arc to X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers is coming together nicely. I don't expect it to be too long. There will be only one more issue for this arc and then the next phase of the series can begin! There's a lot to cover with this fanfiction series and as Volume 2 progresses, you'll see how the world of X-men Supreme has changed. As it grows I'll continue to update the bios and pics section. If you have any question on these updates or any feedback to help make X-men Supreme more awesome, please contact me and I'll be happy to listen! I really want to get more feedback with this series and I can't do that unless people comment or write me. The first year of X-men Supreme is behind us and I have many more years with which to develop it! Thanks to all those who have helped this fanfiction series thus far. Rest assured there is still plenty more to come! Excelsior!


Monday, December 27, 2010

X-men Legacy #243 - A Legacy of Awesome

Well for some drinking all the leftover eggnog at once is a bad idea. You may take a holiday from work, but hangovers never take a vacation so I had to wait until I could stand the glow of my computer screen before I wrote this review. While this week has been all about celebrating obese diabetics in red suits and the human sacrifice of some crazy jewish preacher 2000 years ago, there's always time for comics. This week has been full of great X-books. Uncanny X-men #531 came out and it wasn't exactly a Christmas gift of awesome. It wasn't a lump of coal either, but like Alexander Rodriguez's steroid test it's hit or miss. That has been the story for many X-books. Any one of the books can have one great issue that carpet bombs the comic world with awesome. Very few books are consistently awesome. X-men Legacy has been one of them.

Mike Carey is one of the longest tenured X-writers for a reason. The man knows what he's doing and he doesn't fuck it up by trying to blow too much shit up with every issue. He treats it like a process, not a Michael Bay movie. He focuses on a select set of characters, but still manages to make the book feel like it fits into the greater X-men universe. Most of the time he uses Rogue because he either has a soft spot for her or secretly wants to do her (or possibly both). Other times he brings other characters like Magneto into the mix. Since Second Coming, he's given Jean Gre-I mean Hope Summers some good moments. As the mutant messiah she's gotten her share of attention from pretty much every X-writer, but Carey hasn't done much to set himself apart. That changed with X-men Legacy #242.

The previous issue was one of those issues that took the road most comic riders avoid taking because it's not where all the flashing lights and shiney things are. This is because it focused mostly on the little things that the other X-books haven't bothered to touch on. After the attack by Bastion in Second coming, the city of San Francisco is in ruin and as gesture to show that they feel bad about bringing a psychotic mutant-killing robot to the city the X-men offered to help clean it up. They went into San Francisco and used their powers to help the rebuilding process. Along the way, some of the other little plots from Second Coming involving Hope and Hellion emerged. Hellion is still pissed about getting his hands blown off. Hope tries to help out on a simpler level by using a shovel rather than tapping the Phoenix Force. Somewhere along the way Karima Shapandar, who is basically a sentinel with boobs, goes haywire and tries to shoot Hope. It's not a massive explosion that shrivels your balls, but it's still something flashy enough to keep whiney comic fans from saying the issue was boring. The book ended with Karmia firing that fateful shot. X-men Legacy #243 picks up in the aftermath of that shot.

It starts off with Hellion, who in the last issue made a push for douche-bag of the year by bitching at Hope to use her messiah powers to give him his hands back. He's talking to Cyclops, giving him a run-down of everything that happened. His story (assuming he isn't trying to make up for being such a jerk earlier) shows him playing the messiah role for once because he ends up saving Jea-I mean Hope from the Omega Sentinel by using his telekinesis in a way that would make Stephen Hawkings stand up and run three New York City marathons to protest his outrage over the lack of respect for the laws of physics.

The Omega Sentinel is stunned and Julian tells the messiah to run away (not sure if that qualifies as an oxymoron but it should). Hope gets away safely and he vents all the inner douche he piled up in the previous issue on Karima, who seems to be going bipolar with one side acting as the Terminator (the first two and not the other shitty two) and the other begging like a catholic school girl caught with gay porn in her locker for her friends to get away. He tries to finish her off, but then Rogue and the rest of the X-men come in and stop him. This time they're the one playing the role of asshole. Apparently they didn't see Karima take a swipe at Hope earlier so they blame the guy who has been acting like an douche-bag since he lost his hands. It sounds so reasonable. Some readers may be conflicted as to who is the bigger asshole, Julian or the others.

Whoever is to blame, they're all in deep shit because Karima goes haywire again. This time she's not content with killing the messiah of the entire mutant race. This time she has to bring down another building, this after the X-men came to help rebuild. She's pretty much defeating the purpose and making it hell for the X-men's new PR department (see the last issue of Uncanny for proof that it's not a lame joke). That pretty much shows that Julian was right to be an asshole for once, regardless of how pissed he is at not having any hands.

Another mess is being made and this time it doesn't involve killer robots from the future. That may be an appeal or a drawback, depending on how you look at it. There's a brief flashback that shows Dr. Nemesis confirming Hellion's story to Cyclops, further showing he's not full of shit for once. It continues to help limit the douche-bag factor he built up in the last issue. His case is strengthened when he recounts how the Omega Sentinel pretty much bitch slapped all of the X-men's heavy hitters including Magneto, Colossus, and Psylocke.

Karima looks pretty calm and collected for someone who is kicking the ass of the X-men. Friends or not, that's nothing to scoff at. Few people can walk into a bar and say they beat up the X-men and lived to tell about it. It's the kind of story that could get you laid or at least a few free drinks. The Omega Sentinel has her way with quite a few top name X-men. She even manages to weaken Colossus with a quick lesson in chemistry. So the next time your chemistry teacher asks what happens when you heat metal up and then rapidly cool it, instead of taking the time to do your homework and study just refer them to this comic. It'll give them the answer and give you more time for more important things, like learning how to masterbate and cook hot pockets at the same time.

Now when someone as strong as Colossus gets schooled, that's usually a good time for your balls to plan a vacation to the deepest recesses of your stomach. It's odd how Karima is suddenly so ridiculously over-powered. At this point you start wondering why she wasn't able to play a bigger role in Second Coming. Someone who could take out the X-men like this would surely have made the fight against Bastion a bit easier. This is a flaw that does stand out. I get that Mike Carey is letting a lesser known character shine for a bit, but she's coming off as way too powerful. It seems excessive and is a bit demeaning to the stories she was present for, but didn't even impact. It's like having Joe Montana in his prime on the bench in a big football game and not knowing he was Joe Montana until after you were down four touchdowns. Mike Carey may be giving Karima the spotlight, but he's doing it with a flawed premise.

Regardless of how powerful she is, she ends up getting a quick lesson in her limitations by Hope. While the X-men are getting their asses handed to them, she gets one of the human girls she had been protecting to safety and hijacks a crane. Somewhere in that big war zone in the sky, Cable is wiping the tears from his face. She gets her away from Colossus and away from the others, but now she's the target again. She also must know that as the mutant messiah, she can't afford to be dead until she gets nailed to the appropriate cross.

Karima sets her sights on Hope again. Then Hellion once again comes back to play the role of anti-douche. He uses his telekinesis in ways that may mildly impress Emma Frost (the equivalent of making Simone Cowell kiss your shoes to property convey your greatness). He unloads on Karmia in the same way Ike Turner unloads on Tina. He uses the fact that machines took his hands from him and takes it out on this girl who continues to whine desperately like a hostage in a Bruce Willis movie. She begs him to end her. Usually this is where the heroes out of their sense of duty and morality refuse and try to find another way. Hellion essentially thumbs his nose and spits on that notion. He takes out Karima in an act of badass telekinesis that should push the eyeballs out of any unsecured sockets in those weak of heart or mind.

It's a powerful moment. Hellion doesn't completely redeem himself for his douche-bag moves earlier. The case can be made that he hurt his case at redemption. He didn't even hesitate to take Karima out. He didn't even say he was sorry before he did it. He's the anti-Bruce Willis while not quite being Steven Segal (before he found religion). When the rest of the X-men see what they did, they're horrified. But Julian is unrepentant. He know what he did and is perfectly okay with it. It's like they all saw him take a shit in a pizza and watch a bunch of innocent people eat it. Even for a teenage boy, it's pretty cold while still not being quite as evil as a 13-year-old bully in middle school. Even Magneto has trouble matching that kind of evil.

When Julian finishes telling his story to Cyclops, he sees that Karima is not fully dead. Although she probably wishes she was dead in her condition. Cyclops goes onto scold Hellion for going this far and not showing the slightest remorse for it. He says he crossed a line, but then Hellion turns it around on Cyclops and reminds him that he crossed this line too. Bear in mind Cyclops was the one that formed X-Force. Word got out during Second Coming that he was sending out kill squads. So him condemning Julian would be like George W. Bush giving a lecture on government transparency. It's a powerful moment, one that brings in the old end-justify-the-means debate. 

The ironic thing is that Hellion isn't wrong. The truth is actually on his side. Cyclops holds others accountable to deeds like Hellion's, but he doesn't hold himself accountable. He makes an exception for himself when it comes to X-Force because he's the leader. That's a pretty weak position on his part and one that shows an arrogant hypocrisy that may be overplayed a bit, but can't be overlooked. Many anti-Cyclops fans will come to love Hellion for his speech. He makes some compelling points about how Cyclops has carried himself. It does ignore some context, but it's still valid on some levels. It offers some hints that maybe Cyclops is losing his grip on what it means to be the leader of all mutant kind. It's by far the most promising debate Cyclops has had with anybody in years.

Hellion brushes off the probation that Cyclops gives him. He gets an extra round of scorn from Rogue as well, who is a lot more physical when telling him how wrong he is. She makes a much more compelling point than Cyclops ever did. She makes it clear that he crossed a line and he can't go back. She also makes it clear that if he crosses it again, she'll drain his ass until his lack of hands is his lesser handicap. It shows that Hellion has no support for what he did. His friends and leaders scold him, thus leaving it up to the readers to decide whether to support or condemn him. He's pretty much isolated himself now and he shows no regrets. He started this arc off as a douche-bag and he's still a douche-bag. But at least he's a douche-bag with some balls.

So for once, an arc isn't drawn out over one too many issues. This story in X-men Legacy is over in just two short issues and that's it. It's quality, not quantity and it doesn't require a fan to look up the entire history of the series on wikipedia to get a sense of what the hell is going on. It involves many characters, but focuses on just a handful in all the right ways. It's Mike Carey's classic style and once again he shows how he makes it work while making it awesome in the process.

It was a powerful issue, one that put Hellion in the spotlight along with Karmia. Karmia's predicament was largely overshadowed by Hellion and his confrontation with Cyclops, but these are two characters who haven't had a chance to really shine. Mike Carey made them as awesome as Wolverine for a few brief issues. There are still some issues with the premise. The idea that Karmia was really that powerful and that she could take out a good chunk of the X-men's heavy hitters seems flawed. As nice as the confrontation with Cyclops was, it feels like Hellion could have said more. He could have brought up his decisions with Cable, X-Force, and how he handled Hope. It still gets the message across, but without some of the details that would make it extra awesome.

Mike Carey fans will find plenty to like about this issue. Overall X-men fans will find plenty to like as well, but not without a few flaws. For that reason I can't give X-men Legacy #243 the perfect score I gave the last issue. This issue is still pretty damn awesome, but not the kind of awesome that warrants a perfect score. It's close though. I give this issue a 4.5 out of 5. I'd recommend it to any X-men fan looking for a quality X-book. Mike Carey knows how to get it done. He'll hit way more than he misses and he'll do it without being tacky like other X-men writers. That's enough to place him in the higher echelons of X-men caliber awesome for now and for the foreseeable future. Excelsior!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Uncanny X-men #531 - Sick or Healthy Awesome?

It's the most depressing day in the world. The day after Christmas is upon us. It is the day where peace, love, and goodwill give way to being a regular asshole again. Kids wake up depressed. Adults wake up hung over from too much eggnog mixed with vodka. Diabetics curse the world when they accidentally slip a sugar cookie into their pocket when no one's looking. So if ever there was a day in need of comic books, it's the day after Christmas. Depending on how many people are stuck having to return the crap clueless relatives thought you wanted, most anyone is open to a reprieve to this most depressing of days. Some douse the leftover eggnog, some douse themselves with Nyquil until the wake up for the next Christmas morning, and some seek a distraction. If there's one thing comics have proven to be great at over the years, it's distracting people from how shitty the real world is.

In case you too doused with eggnog this past week, some pretty major titles were released by Marvel. One of them was Uncanny X-men #531. Now this may be a gift or a big lump of coal covered in cow shit depending on what kind of X-fan you are. Since the end of Second Coming, the quality of Uncanny has been as inconsistent as the size of Barry Bonds's testicles. Matt Fraction is one of those writers where fans either love him or want him tarred and feathered at the next comic con while fans dressed in Cyclops costumes piss on him. He's had his moments. He's also had issues that are akin to that annoying kid in elementary school who purposefully steps in piles of shit, thinking it's cool while the other kids hold their noses. He's also had issues that show signs of development. After some poor issues during the Five Lights arc, he did rebound a bit with the last issue. This issue he gets help in a way that may qualify for a viagra commercial. He's joined by Generation Hope writer, Kieron Gillen.

Now this is a bit of an anomaly because it's rare for a new writer to join in mid arc. The current arc, Quarentine, began in the last issue and only Matt Fraction's name was attached to it. For the first issue, Kieron Gillen's name is attached as well. He's someone who is still proving himself in Generation Hope. He's off to an admirable start. The first two issues have been decent, but not the kind that will have Geoff Johns or Mike Carey watching their backs. His entry into Uncanny comes as a bit of a surprise because this is the guy behind the SWORD series, which many recall got canned after four issues because too few people gave two shits from a donkey's ass about it. So what can he bring to the table with Uncanny? Does it even matter?

Gillen comes aboard after the last issue set up a fairly generic plot. The mutants on Utopia are getting sick. A mysterious flu has broken out and it's effecting only mutants. So yeah, it's a knock-off of the legacy virus. Anyone who has enough brain cells to use wikipedia can find out what that story entailed. But it's not a carbon copy. This virus is making the X-men sicker than Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. It's unique in that it's purposefully going after their powers, rendering them weakened and undermanned. So Cyclops has essentially quarantined the island (gee, wonder where they got the title from?) and left all X-men duties in the hand of a small bunch of mutants that include Storm, Dazzler, Pixie, Angel, and Northstar. It's basically the B-minus Team of the X-men. They're seriously lacking in the heavy hitters department, so much so that even Namor is infected. Yet even when he's sicker than Nick Nolety's mug shot, he's still the lovable arrogant douche.

The number of sick is growing, but as of now there hasn't been a case of any human getting ill. So the quarantine remains in effect and Cyclops has placed Dr. Rao as the one in charge of finding a cure. She's basically gotta be Dr. House with only a quarter of the awesome. The Five Lights make a brief appearance, which seems to be Kieron Gillen's way of making his presence known in this book. It's only one page and does absolutely jack shit with the plot, but it does demonstrate that everyone is being affected.

That even extends to Wolverine, a guy who has been effectively blown up Afghan style and survived. He's left even sicker because his healing factor is essential for him to cope with having adamantium bonded to his bones. He's essentially worse than Michael Jackson when he didn't get his daily dose of surgery-grade tranquilizers. He doesn't care to be bedridden because he's aware of an event that transpired in Chinatown (which was covered in the previous issue) and he can't do shit about it. He's pissed, but even the big bad Wolverine is rendered as weak as a kitten with it's eyes gouged out by this virus.

While pretty much everyone on Utopia is taking a sick day, the X-men still have work to do in the city. Storm, Angel, Pixie, Dazzler, and Northstar report in to let them know how they're doing. It's about as well as you would expect a horribly undermanned team to be, meaning they're in over their head. They stopped a robbery, but unlike your traditional super-hero photo op the bad guys get away. And they don't get away by making fools of the heroes or getting help from someone with more than just a ski-mask and a pistol. They just slip into the shadows as Angel described. It offers hints at the conflict in Chinatown that Logan mentioned, demonstrating that whenever a plague breaks out it has to come at the worse possible time.

In addition, it's revealed that Cyclops has become ill as well. He hasn't shown it to this point. He's put on the usual poise and strength that make him so strong (and annoying to some fans). It's not really showing in him the way it is the other characters. I'm not sure if this is because he's not at a certain stage yet or Fraction's love of Cyclops simply won't allow him to look like the impotent guy in the viagra commercials. It doesn't seem fair and it could make for a much more interesting story if Cyclops was out of commission. But it doesn't happen and predictably so. Even if Cyclops is sick, he's not doing as good a job as making it work for him as Wolverine and Namor.

While the X-men are raising the stock of Campell's Chicken Soup, John Sublime is celebrating their suffering the same way a Dominatrix celebrates when a bowl of hot candle wax is poured on a 45-year-old state senator from the bible belt's scrotum. He's using the X-men's weakness as an opportunity to promote his own X-men. He's not doing the whole Bastion plot of trying to eliminate the mutant race. He's doing the Wall Street equivalent of scratching an itch on the underside of his balls by testing a new procedure that gives normal humans X-men powers. It's so X-men-ish that he essentially creates his own original five with a Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl, and Iceman. The only difference here is that Angel is a hot blond chick because what's better for publicity than a hot blond chick? Paris Hilton being the lone exception? It's not about humans versus mutants. It's not about upstaging the X-men to make them weaker. It's about setting up a business model. If you're a member of Greenpeace, this is by far the most evil plot ever hatched by a comic book.

The book doesn't take too much of an anti-capitalist stance as Dr. Rao plays the role of the non-asshole aspects of the pharmaceutical industry. She not only has to play the role of Dr. House without Hugh Laurie's caliber of awesome, she has to use his methods and all their insanity. What she does to further her research would make House partially crack a smile before demeaning her horribly as an idiot. She injects herself  with the virus. In terms of science, that's the equivalent of boxing a meth-laden Maney Pacquiao naked with anvils strapped to your ankles. Dr. Rao hasn't shown too much grit just yet, but she sure makes a statement here. She shows she too has the testicular fortitude to be in the X-men.

While she's giving House a run for his money, crime continues to plague San Francisco like another marijuana legalization campaign. As was shown in the previous issue, Absorbing Man is showing he's watched the Godfather one too many times and is taking over the street. He confronts a local business to shake them down for protection money. It turns into a scene from a Republican campaign ad on crime with stereotypical thugs coming out to fight. All the gang showboating doesn't really do shit when you've got mutant powers to deal with.

The X-men are close to the scene to pick up on this, having traced the source of the crime to this area. Wait...when did they do that? Was the comic I got defective. Nope, it just happened off screen. Somehow they know Absorbing Man is their guy and they're there to stop them. There was no detective work. There was no hiring Scooby and the gang. They just show up and are in the right place to confront the guy. I understand Fraction and Gillen have a finite amount of ink for these books, but that's too big a plot hole to ignore. It's not an 800 pound gorilla. It's more like a 50 pound gorilla sitting obviously in the center of the room taking a shit on what was once a pretty decent carpet. Even a mention of a tip they got would have made the shit less smelly, but no dice.

So while the X-men make their dramatic entrance to take on Absorbing Man, Sublime's new X-men show up and attack. Well, actually they don't attack. They go to help the X-men. In doing so they sound like a bunch of cheerleaders from a Glee fan club that's about to get a guest spot as an extra that will show for a grand total of fourteen seconds. It is somewhat appropriate since these are regular people who are just testing Sublime's research, but they still come off as goofy teenagers standing in line at a Justin Bieber concert.

Whatever confrontation these two teams have will have to wait until the next issue because from here on out, it's all Emma Frost. She's had her own sub-plot going for a while now and it's a plot that's been a mixed bag on Fraction's run. As I've pointed out before, Matt Fraction's take on Emma Frost is like a migraine mixed with a hangover. It's so pestilent it's hard to follow at times, but in the last few issues he has made an attempt to give her some depth. He's had her confront Sebastian Shaw and having deceived Namor. She still comes off as a whiney shadow of her former self from the Morrison and Whedon days, but at least she's becoming less like the Jean 2.0 that Fraction has made her into.

In the last issue she, Shadowcat, and Fantomex successfully abducted Shaw and were trying to figure out what they were going to do with him. Emma wants to kill him. Kitty doesn't want her to walk that route. Fantomex is basically sitting in the corner looking pretty. Finally, they do wake Shaw up and he gets to have his say in this affair. He's been pretty quiet to this point and it's easy to forget that this guy is very much responsible for the Emma Frost we know, love, and masterbate to.

While Emma may be portrayed horribly out-of-character at times under Fraction's pen, Shaw is still the same sadistic bastard he's always been. Emma dares him to tell them about their history. He accepts, putting his tongue on the proverbial pole and dishes a story about Emma's past before she was the white queen. It isn't pretty in the sense that it would make a great scene in the next Saw movie. Before she became queen, she had competitors in two women named Rebecca and Anne. She was somewhat close to them in the same way a Yankees fan is to their sister, who happens to be a Red Sox fan. One day Shaw asks her to decide who lives and who dies. Emma, being an ambitious bitch, says she doesn't care who dies. So Shaw responds with the most logical recourse. He brutally beats the two women to death with his bear hands in a way that Ike Turner would find disgusting.

It's a powerful story, one that reminds readers that Emma does not have a history as a hero. At her core she is a cold-hearted bitch. It's a side that has been so watered down by Fraction it might as well be a One More Day retcon. It's nice to see it referenced here, but it doesn't seem to add as much depth to Emma as it probably should. It shows what she did in her past. That's about it. It doesn't show how that affects her now or how it's even bothering her. It's just something she did that she doesn't do anymore because she's with the X-men. It wasn't what she did. It's that she wanted to do it in the first place. As if somehow actually doing it makes a difference. I get that Fraction and Gillen are putting Emma in an awkward position, but it's not doing much to make her less watered down. She still comes off as the tragic influence of Shaw.

At this point it gets a little more random. Before Emma can even make her point, the story takes an abrupt turn. Fantomex essentially drops Shaw out of the ship and into a rocky pit. It's a shitty move to anyone who knows anything about Shaw's powers. Dropping him off a cliff just makes him stronger. Either Fantomex was just ignorant (and Emma saw fit to not mention Shaw's powers) or he essentially channeled his inner Deadpool for a moment and did something utterly random. It ends the book on a confusing and frustrating note. This was a plot that held the potential to make Emma Frost more like her Morrison or Whedon self. Now it looks like she'll end up a weepy, whiney pussy that will go crying to Cyclops and he'll kiss her boo-boo's away. It seems to be the only story Fraction (and now Gillen) knows how to write.

The Shaw/Emma plot has taken a huge hit, but at the same time the story surrounding Sublime and the quarantine has taken a step up. So overall, the comic does not completely tank like Enron stock. There is plenty to enjoy here. The story of the X-men and their emerging competition with Sublime is becoming less a legacy knock-off and more a real plot. Sublime's new X-men are still horribly generic. They need some refinement, but it's still early and they have plenty of chances. An undermanned X-men is sure to make that even more difficult so there's plenty of reason to pick up the next issue.

However, the plot with Emma Frost remains the biggest taint on this arc. Now it isn't just Fraction who takes the blame. Kieron Gillen had to have had some influence over this book as well if his name is listed as a co-writer. Yet the way this story unfolded still felt like something of the Matt Fraction tradition. It's some gritty, sexy story that shows how Emma was never all that evil. She was just a victim of Shaw's influence. That really doesn't gel with who she is and her history in the X-men comics. It's like finding out the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs just had an abusive father and it's not his fault to begin with. It feels like this arc can only have one ending for Emma. She's going to go running back into Cyclops's arms, no conflict will come of this, and all will be brushed aside. It's part of what has made these two characters so frustrating to read, even for longtime fans.

I can't call this book a failure. Many parts of it were good despite some plotholes. The Emma plot at the end really soiled it, but not enough to make this book completely worth panning. So I'll try to use whatever is left of my Christmas spirit and give Uncanny X-men #531 at 3 out of 5. You'll find plenty to enjoy, but if you had problems with previous issues this one won't win you over. It's not the weakest X-title on the shelves right now, but it is certainly not the strongest. If Kieron Gillen is to take on more of a role with the X-books he'll have to do a better job than this. Just because he's working with Fraction doesn't mean he has to keep making his mistakes. Nuff said!

Friday, December 24, 2010

X-men Supreme Issue 23: Family and Fiends Part 2 PREVIEW

Well here we are, a day before Christmas and a week away from the first anniversary of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It's hard to believe that it's almost been a year already. X-men Supreme has come a long way and it still has so much further to go. The beginning of X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers has gotten things off to a solid beginning. I didn't get too many comments (there's still time to change that people!), but I'm satisfied with how I've got the ball rolling. This fanfiction series continues to expand with new and familiar X-men characters like Nightcrawler and Black Tom. I hope to have some entries on them in the bios section, but first the Family and Fiends arc must continue! Listed below is an extended preview of what you can expect in the next installment of X-men Supreme.

“We’re here,” said Black Tom, “You know what to do. Get in. Get the plans. Get out.”

“I know how zhis vorks,” said Kurt bitterly, “But it vould be much viser to come back late at night vhen there aren’t so many people.”

“We can’t afford to wait that long,” he said, “As we speak the military is working with Worthington’s army of well-paid eggheads to scan the plans onto secure mainframes. As soon as they’re done, they’ll destroy the originals. And I can’t have that.”

“You’re taking a much bigger risk by sending me in this blind! I may not even be able to extract the plans from zheir data drives.”

“Genosha used antiquated computer systems it stole form the old Soviet Union. I think you’re more than qualified to handle those systems. Wasn’t that the second thing your father taught you after fighting?”

Kurt tensed with anger at the mention of his father. But Black Tom was not intimidated. He just kept staring him down while casually twirling his cane.

“Enough with the stalling. Get going, Nightcralwer,” said Black Tom, “You have 30 minutes max. Amanda will stay under the watchful eye of Siryn until you return.”

“How nice of you,” he said dryly, “She better be okay vhen I get back. Otherwise I’ll show you firsthand zhe third thing my father taught me.”

With those ominous words Kurt teleported away, leaving a puff of sulfurous smoke in his wake. It was an impressive display and Black Tom had seen many. It should make this little plan of his a lot easier and a lot more interesting. It was almost a shame someone of Kurt’s skill was going to have to go to waste.

Once Nightcrawler was gone, one of his henchmen casually opened the passenger door. He casually stepped out and made his way to the van behind him where Siryn was keeping an eye on Amanda, at least as far as Kurt knew. About halfway to the van the door opened up on the passenger side as well and Siryn stepped out. She bore the same mischievous grin as her father. This was the part of the plan where things got more interesting. Once Kurt gave them what they wanted, he was in for a surprise.

“Is she ready, Siryn?” asked Black Tom.

“Oh she’s ready alright,” grinned Siryn, “I pumped her with enough sedative to down a pack of wolves. She won’t be waking up anytime soon.”

“Good, and what of the little ‘surprise’ I told you to set up?” he asked her.

“It just needs to be armed and she’ll be ready to go. I’ve already wired it to the van’s remote control mechanism. She won’t even know what hit her and neither will Nightcrawler.”

“And with any luck, some media personnel will still be present. They’ll most certainly want a shot of this. It’ll also give us a wee bit of free advertising. I’m sure many prospective clients will be very interested once they see this.”

Siryn couldn’t help but grin. Her father really knew how to cover every angle. It was an elaborate plan, but the payoff potential was huge. Too bad Kurt and Amanda wouldn’t be around to appreciate it.

“Your business sense never ceases to amaze me, father,” she said.

“It’s what I do,” he boasted as he turned back towards the van, “Now then, help me prepare the van. All we have to do now is wait for Nightcrawler and enjoy the fireworks.”
There is so much more I want to do with X-men Supreme. Volume 2: War Powers is just the next step in the evolution of this fanfiction series. I want it to go much further in terms of quality compared to Volume 1: Mutant Revolution. As such, it's very important that I get plenty of feedback and comments. If you have anything to say about X-men Supreme or X-men in general, please feel free to contact me at any time. I'm more than happy to answer any questions or concerns about this fanfiction series! Until then, the next issue is just around the corner and right in time for New Years no less! I hope everybody has a joyous and happy holidays. From X-men Supreme to everyone around the world, peace and love! Excelsior!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Uncanny X-Force #3 - Moonlite Awesome

When a new comic comes along and blows your mind there are many ways in which readers react. It goes without saying that like a murder conviction against OJ Simpson, new comics are hit or miss. Some may start off good. Some may even be good for a few arcs before going down faster than Paris Hilton at a male strip club. When a book really sets itself apart as something special, it's almost like Christmas and Mardis Gras rolled into one. It makes you feel so warm and fuzzy like Christmas morning yet it also makes you want to run out into the streets naked, flashing your tits, and drinking until you're taking a dump in no fewer than three different public areas.

Uncanny X-Force is only three issues in and already it's establishing itself as one of those special comics. Now I haven't gone running out into the streets naked yet like I did with Brightest Day (the charges haven't been dropped yet), but after the first two issues I'm definitely getting oiled up! Rick Remender has really set up something great here. He did what the Miami Heat did and got together a group of all stars minus Lebron James's douche-bag factor. Wolverine, Arcangel, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex are all heavy hitters. And their first fight is against Apocalypse no less. It's like the Heat are going up against Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in his prime at the beginning of the season. It's taking no chances, sparing no expense, and throwing everything on the table like a pathological gambler trying to recoup his losses when he's behind on his payments from his loan shark. So far the results have been awesome without the mob having to break your legs.

The last issue took the action all the way to the moon. No, that's not a metaphor. I mean it. Apocalypse's base is actually on the dark side of the freakin' moon and that's where X-Force has to go to take him out. In terms of setting the mood, it's right up there with candles and Barry White music. When X-Force attacked, they were met with Apocalypse's new Horsemen. They were not familiar faces this time. They weren't mind-controlled X-men or villains. They were brand spanking new, ranging from an ancient Greek minotaur to an innocent looking Asian woman (one who could easily be the victim of tentacle rape in anime porn). These guys end up packing quite a punch and give X-Force a spanking that would give even the most hardened sadist a boner.

Uncanny X-Force #3 starts off by explaining the origins of these new horsemen. Each get a full page of history to show that Remender isn't doing a Hugh Grant and pulling stuff right out of his ass. War was once a begger in Ancient Rome who transformed himself into a mutant that became a brutal, half-animal gladiator that enjoyed all the orgies Rome could throw at him. Famine was once a boy for the Confederate army in the American Civil War who was deemed a traitor by a somewhat stupid mix-up by his peers, causing a latent mutant power that fed on human flesh to activate. Pestilence was once a woman in medieval Japan who was jealous how all the other women in her village, so she sent swarms of bugs to disfigure all the other women. Death was once the bastard son of an ancient Persian king who developed a mutant power to spread disease, which he used to destroy his father's kingdom. It offers a basic yet compelling background for these horsemen. Together they are Apocalypse's new A-Team and they show their worthy by schooling X-Force in the mean Catholic nun tradition.

This isn't just narration either. This is the history Psylocke senses. She and X-Force are essentially rendered helpless and the kid Apocalypse (who still haunts my nightmares for his Justin Biebeir style creepiness), is given a choice by his handlers on how they're to be killed. Oddly enough, the kid Apocalypse hasn't developed his asshole side yet and he hesitates. That doesn't matter thought. His handlers, like shitty parents, decide for him. It almost has the makings of a John Huges movie, may he rest in peace.

That hesitation buys some time for X-Force. It allows Wolverine to pull himself together and attack Death despite looking like a patient worthy of two episodes of House. He gets in a few solid shots, showing some of the classic grit we've all come to expect from the cunnucklehead. Wolverine can kick ass even when he looks like a victim of the Black Plague, but he's as handicapped as the rest of X-Force to say the least.

It also allows Psylocke to do some tweaking with Fantomex, allowing him to stop sensing how much pain he's in so he can fight. It beats the shit out of morphine, but the horsemen still put up quite a fight. He takes on Pestilence, who gets right in his way. It doesn't seem like a fair fight, a womanizing French man against a Japanese woman. However, Fantomex still has to resort to trickery. He makes Pestilence believe he's her asshole father and for messed up young woman, that's worse than kryptonite mixed with PMS.

All the disease and blood is starting to get gruesome. At this point, most would be in need of comic relief. Enter Deadpool, the very embodiment of comic relief in the world of X-comics. Normally that relief involves blowing shit up or shooting the hell out of some other shit. This time it's actually a bit more heroic. Deadpool comes to Arcangel's aid and pitches a quick emergency tent. Now how he got such a tent and how it can work in an atmosphere like the moon makes no sense in the real world, but it's Deadpool. He's earned the right to break the laws of physics.

He's going Arcangel again and good old Angel needs a kick start. So what does Deadpool do? Does he use a grenade or shock therapy? No, he uses pop rocks and soda. Anyone who knows anything about urban legends and shit knows you never mix pop rocks with soda. Only those as crazy as Deadpool need apply.

While this is going on, War is getting away with Psylocke. Because what's a struggle against an evil mutant tyrant without a hot Asian woman being taken hostage? Since Wolverine has a soft spot for Asian women (even if they end up dead), he fights just a little bit harder against the sickness Death is inflicting on him. Granted he looks like something the Hulk ate and shat out during a bad case of diarrhea, but contrary to what David Lee Roth says winning the battle is more satisfying than looking good doing it.

So they fight off the attack and lucky for them the horsemen don't stick around to finish the job. It's not a very sound tactic, but then again Apocalypse is still probably wetting the bed at his tender age so tactics shouldn't be quite as refined. They didn't come away empty-handed though. They did capture Psylocke and hot Asian women are like currency to comic book villains it seems. She wakes with War looking over her the same way a pedophile looks over old footage of the Olsen twins. Oddly enough, the hideous creature has somehow fallen for Betsy. A hot ninja woman with a British accent is just too irresistible. Say what you will about such methods, about 55 percent of the men reading this book would probably do the same.

It's all a psychic ruse of course (it has to be if Marvel is to keep the perverted Asian market). Psylocke uses the ruse on War to basically knife him in the face, which can be construed as a feminists response to all the tentacle rape every teenage boy has ever jerked off to. It puts Psylocke in a much better position than the rest of X-Force.

The only other ones in a position to come to her aid are Wolverine and Fantomex. They're still trying to work their way inside while Deadpool continues his pop-rocks treatment with Arcangel. Their little intrusion is cut off because rather than stick around and play defense, the horsemen are choosing to teleport away. It's a bit of a cop out, but it adds further complications to X-Force's mission and makes for good witty dialog between Wolverine and Fantomex. In a comic full of action and hot Asian chicks, it's nice Rick Remender takes at least some time to make some memorable one-liners.

So the bad guys are getting away. It's like the end of every episode of Inspector Gadget. The kid Apocalypse is in his room playing with his action figures (not a masterbation joke by the way), still showing that he has some innocence behind that exceedingly creepy exterior. Just because he looks like Apocalypse doesn't mean he's grown into the douche-bag tyrant that has caused so many migraines with the X-men. This makes for a very awkward moment because before the ship teleports away, Psylocke confronts him. This being the guy she was so intent on killing in the last issue, the kid is in a perfectly reasonable position to shit his pants. It's also an annoyingly fitting way to end the book.

The stage is set for the kid Apocalypse to get a permanent time-out from an angry Asian ninja chick in a completely non-pornographic way. Throw all that together with the death, war, pestilence, and famine of the horsemen battle and you've got all the elements that make Uncanny X-Force #3 so awesome. It doesn't drag at any point yet it still has a certain depth to it that makes it feel less like a Michael Bay movie and more like a Peter Jackson movie. There's wit, charm, and hot ninja chicks. If there's another way to make a comic awesome, I don't know of it.

Now in criticizing this book, I think it says a lot when I have to actually think about things that are wrong with it. I would need several hits of acid and a few spirit quests to really find something that Rick Remender did wrong here. The first three issues of Uncanny X-Force have been masterfully done. They've had personal elements with the Betsy/Warren plot. They've had plenty of action elements with the battle against Apocalypse. They've had plenty of depth too as was demonstrated in this issue when the four horsemen were given some background stories. If there's anything really wrong here it's that the art was a little dark at times, lacking some refinement in some areas. Some of that may be because it takes place on the freakin' moon, but there really isn't much else. This issue continues and refines what is set up in the first two issues, adding polish to a product that was already shiney enough for stoners to stare at to begin with.

This lack of flaws make the scoring fairly easy. I simply can't give it anything less than a 5 out of 5. This issue was another solid piece of comic book awesome from Rick Remender. Uncanny X-Force #3 helps to further solidify this series as one of the best new series to come about in the X-books in quite some time. I've few other ways to describe how awesome it is, so instead I'll just end this review with a hot shot of Psylocke. Nuff said!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brightest Day #16 - From the Ocean to Awesome

The past few issues of Brightest Day have been like a topless Playboy model trying to break into your house to give you oral sex. She's been so good to you in the past, but she earned herself a time-out for getting sloppy on the job. She's still skilled at her craft, but she has to earn the right to be awesome at delivering the goods again. Two issues ago, the Brightest Day series hit a low point. Now bear in mind a low point for Brightest Day is like a bad throw by Peyton Manning. It's bound to happen, but he always makes up for it. The previous issue got the book back on track. It wasn't flawless awesome like much of Brightest Day has been to this point. Going back to the Playboy model I referenced earlier, it's the equivalent of three quarters of a blow job. So there's still a ways to go to reach the desired peak.

Brightest Day #16 is left with the less ominous task of improving on an improvement. The last issue had to claw it's way out of a whole. This issue has light already visible from the beginning. It just has to avoid tripping over itself to get there. What has caused some of the recent issues of Brightest Day to fall face first into a pile of horse shit lately has been a deviation from what worked so well earlier. Normally when you're on the yellow brick road, you don't want to veer off. Writer Geoff Johns did that a few issues ago when Deadman met up with Batman. Instead of balancing multiple plots in a way only he can, Johns focused on just one plot for an issue. This is all well and good, but if the way that plot is handled sucks then the whole damn issue sucks. It's like investing all your money in Enron and having no fall-back plan when your bank comes over to ass rape you into bankruptcy. The last issue was similar, but not entirely. It spent most of the time on one plot involving J'onn J'ozz. Granted, this story was much better done, but it still didn't tie into the rest of the series very well. It offered at the end a hint at the next issue, which would revisit the Firestorm arc.

Now you would think a story involving two college kids with the power to create another big bang would be a big fucking story, but no. Somehow this got put on the back burner. It's not the only one either. The Aquaman story was pretty important for a while, involving Aurthur finding the son of Black Manta and letting him know his biological father is a real asshole. So far we've been denied the inevitable kick in the balls this kid, Jackson, is poised to receive. Brightest Day #16 is left being the steel-toed shoe that does the kicking and it tries to get back on that yellow brick road by throwing in the Firestorm arc.

It starts off with Aquaman and Jackson. For the past few issues, they must have twiddled their thumbs or saw Tron Legacy because in their last appearance they hopped on a truck with Jackson's adopted parents to get away. Aurthur then took him to an old hang-out where he can prepare his next move. While there Jackson sees some pictures of Aurthur, Mera, and their son. The scene becomes more awkward than a pedophile in Toys-R-Us when Aurthur reveals that Jackson's biological father killed the cute baby boy in the pictures.

Now here's where this issue takes a definitive turn from the previous two books. Rather than sick entirely with the Aquaman plot (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) it actually *gasp* transitions to the Firestorm plot. This after *second gasp* it was hinted at near the end of the previous issue. I know it sounds like I'm making a big deal of this, but it's worth ranting about through a bull-horn. Part of what made previous issues of Brightest Day so awesome was Geoff Johns flaunting his ability to balance these plots in a single issue. It's not an easy thing to do. It's like having a big dick. You don't stand atop a building announcing it, but you wear slightly loose pants so that people can see the distinct outline to demonstrate your virility. Geoff Johns has been known for subtlety before and regardless of whether or not he has a big dick, the man knows how to flaunt it.

The Firestorm arc, if some are sober enough to remember, was once one of the most volatile plots. Not only did the Firestorm matrix split into a new incarnation of the Black Lanterns, but Professor Stein said that in it's current volatile state the matrix could cause another big bang. And by big bang I'm not referring to porno slang or the nerdtastic show on CBS with the hot chick. I mean an actual big bang that destroys the whole freakin' universe. Seeing as how this is clearly a bad thing, Firestorm seeks out help from the Justice League and they're not in a position to say no when the universe is in the hands of a couple of college frat boys.

While Ronnie and Jason are trying desperately not to undo what God and Allah did over a drunken bar bet, the Black Lantern Firestorm is handling his power with the same responsibility as 2-year-old armed with crazy glue. He has the black lantern in hand, which is like a pedophile who has keys to the boys bathroom at a pre-school. Not content to be a complete arrogant douche-bag, he plays tricks on Professor Stein and Jason's father that he absorbed earlier. He makes Jason's dad believe he can stop the Black Firestorm by killing the host (himself) so he forms a gun for him. It's his way to prove that he loves his son enough to kill himself. It's like a mirror reflection of the Old Testament, except Yahwe in this instance is a juvenile jerk-off. Firestorm made him the gun, but put no bullets in it. He essentially just fucked with Jason's dad for shits and giggles while on his way to deliver the lantern.

We go back to Aquaman (yep, Johns is flexing that package of his again) and the new Aqualad. At least that's how Jackson is being groomed. Aquaman is like a more pushy version of Yoda, dragging Jackson along this path and taking him to a special cave where there's another bio-locked chest to open. Along the way he teaches Jackson a bit about living underwater. He shows him that he can see in the dark and breathe underwater. Aquaman is also nice enough to not warn him when he gets a holographic recording (think Superman origins) from his biological parents. Except he's no savior or a hero. He's pretty much a key and not the kind used in cheap college sex jokes either. He's supposed to release Mera's people from their prison in the Bermuda Triangle. It's pretty much his purpose and the only consolation he gets from it is a new Aqualad costume. To be fair though, the costume looks pretty damn awesome.

It's a lot to take in for a kid his age. Most guys at his stage of life bury their faces in pillows because that hot chick with the D-cup breasts in Algebra class wants to file a restraining order because you kept staring down her shirt. But this is a comic! Surely Jackson can summon the inner courage that Clark Kent did back in the day and accept his responsibility.

Actually, he can't. He responds in a way you would expect a teenage boy to respond who got pulled over for a DUI. His words are and I quote "I want to go home." It may be the least heroic thing ever said in a DC comic. Jackson might as well put on a skirt and start sucking his thumb. However, he does redeem himself somewhat by lashing out at Aquaman when he tries to persuade him otherwise. As whimpy as some teenagers can be, they can also be rebellious and fierce.

Aquaman lets Jackson throw his little hissy fit. Over the course of the next two pages, Jackson's balls start descending again after having retreated to the back of his throat. Say what you will about Aquaman being one the lamest superheroes in DC (next to the Penguin), but the man is king of Atlantis. For a kid to fight back and hold his own is still quit a feat. Aquaman resists channeling his inner Namor and helps Jackson settle down. He gives a speech that is basically cut from every episode of 7th Heaven, saying how he went through the same crap when he was young. Except he throws in a few light kicks in the ass so he'll be willing to hero up and help fight back against the Xebels. That may mean pissing his father, Black Manta, off. Then again, what teenage boy wouldn't want to piss off the father that left him? It helps Jackson seem a bit more kick-ass and a bit less ass-kicked.

So Jackson comes full circle and embraces his new role as the new Aqualad. It's a nice little journey that has some parallels with Superman, but not so many that it would excite that inner copyright lawyer in all of us. It makes Jackson more relateable and likable. He's a guy who just found out his biological father is an evil asshole and that he's the key to preserving the whole (underwater) world. It's like finding out you're related to a serial killer and then become a police officer (the non-corrupt non-donut eating kind). For that, Jackson earns the label of awesome.

He's not the only college-age guy having his testicles forcibly descended. Ronnie and Jason are still stuck in the Firestorm matrix, trying to prevent another (non porno) Big Bang. The help they're getting is from the Atom. The theory is they're going to use Metamorpho to stabilize the Firestorm matrix. There's no long-winded Star Trek inspired explanation here. It's just adapting to whatever havoc he's unleashing at the moment. No Nobel Prize in nuclear physics needed.

As with so many things in science, what sounds good on paper doesn't always work out in real life. Communism sounded good on paper to some. Then Stalin put it into practice and nobody was a fan. However, Atom doesn't even get a chance to implement his plan because Ronnie and Jason do exactly what Professor Stein told them not to do. He warned them that if they argued like college students at a football game, they could destabilize the matrix. Well keeping in mind that Ronnie inadvertently killed Jason's girlfriend, it was bound to happen sooner or later. And it did in a big way.

I say big because Firestorm erupts in the heat of a the college-equivilent of a yo momma's so fat joke. As a result, that eruption essentially snuffs out everything. And by everything I mean everything. It appears they destroy the universe. All the stories, plots, and struggles in the entire DC universe post Blackest Night are suddenly meaningless. The universe is dead. Now given that there are still a number of issues left in this series, it's reasonable to assume that this is not the end. But still, it's over the top in a universal way. You expect that kind of shit from Jeph Loeb. Not Geoff Johns. It's a somewhat fitting way to end the book in that you can't really end it any other way. It sets the stage for what could be an either very interesting or very dull resolution in the next issue.

So is it safe to say at this point that Brightest Day has recaptured the magic? Well no one can fault Geoff Johns for not going the distance. It takes more stones than Stone Henge to use a plot that involves destroying an entire universe. Scale isn't the issue here. It's quality. Brightest Day has always set itself apart with quality, mixing action and more personal issues. In Brightest Day #16 the personal aspect was covered by Jackson and Aqualad. This was done very well, painting Jackson as a real kid who didn't ask for the responsibility he's been given and now finds himself in a position he can't easily walk away from. The fact he responded in such a whimpy manner shows he's human and since every other guy in comics is too macho to fit in their own scrotum, it's somewhat refreshing.

But as nicely developed as the Aquaman story was, the Firestorm plot left something to be desired. It was nice to see the Black Lantern Firestorm again, but it's still not clear what the hell he's doing with the lantern or what he has planned. It also felt like the conflict between Ronnie and Jason was a bit rushed. They argue for just a few panels and then the universe blows up? It's not that it's a bad idea (as much as blowing up a universe can't be), but it is over-the-top and it does happen a bit quickly. Now this could all be a ruse of sorts and the Atom hit a failsafe at the last second. Something has to happen to remedy this and that's it's biggest flaw. No self-respecting DC comics fan in the right mind believes that this is the end. It's that knowledge that somehow it will be retconned that makes this twist horribly flawed.

However, flaws are a matter of degree. Compared to the flaws of recent issues, does Brightest Day #16 still measure up? It doesn't fall flat, it doesn't trip over itself or sniff it's own farts, and it doesn't destroy the series. It does succeed at moving the story along in an engaging way and it's nice to get a sense of flow again from the last issue to this issue. Seeing more than one plot made this comic feel bigger than it was and for that, it is still pretty damn awesome. So for the final score, Brightest Day #16 gets a 4 out of 5. It hasn't taken that final leap back to the peak of comic book awesome. It just needs a few more pushes. With the end of this series in sight, rational and level-headed comic fans everywhere have to assume that DC is setting it up for an end so awesome that it will tear a hole in the space time continuum. Anything less at this point would be lame. Nuff said!

Friday, December 17, 2010

X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers - Issue 22: Family and Fiends Part 1 is LIVE!

Today's the day! A new volume of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series has officially begun! I've been working on Volume 2: War Powers for a while now. What Volume 1 started, Volume 2 will continue. All events up to this point have left the world of X-men Supreme in a state of flux. How do the X-men deal with the changes on Genosha and within the team? I've tried to make it so each volume is a jumping on point for X-men Supreme. If you haven't read the first volume, there's a recap in Volume 2 that should help set the stage. It all begins with an intro arc called Family and Fiends. For many X-men fans, it should bring in some new yet familiar faces!

Issue 22: Family and Fiends Part 1

As always, I strongly encourage everyone to review and post feedback with this issue. I would love to see more comments on these issues as they are released. As with Volume 1, X-men Supreme Volume 2 will be on a biweekly update schedule. So every two weeks, the saga of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series will continue! As the series unfolds, I'll continue to update the bios and pics page. New characters will be introduced and old ones will continue to develop. You'll see! If at any point you have questions or comments about Volume 1 or the latest issue in Volume 2, please feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to answer any questions or respond to any comments! It's great to be writing this series again and I hope it adds to the overall awesome of X-men Supreme. Excelsior!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Official: Jon Favreau Drops Out of Iron Man 3

I know it's been a while since I posted movie news of any kind. It's not like there's nude oil wrestling going on in the comic movie department. It's all been standard. Marvel Studios is doing well, the stage is set for the Avengers movie, and the cast and supporting films are coming together. Then yesterday someone dropped a bomb that will make some fans shit their pants. Jon Favreau, the guy who brought Iron Man to life on the big screen in a way that was fifteen different kinds of awesome, has dropped out of directing Iron Man 3.

CBR: CONFIRMED - Jon Favreau Passes on Iron Man 3

This is big news because many comic fans have been down this road before. A director comes on board and brings an iconic comic series to life in an awesome way. The first two movies are epic, wetting the appetites of all those who seek comic book awesome. Then when the time comes around to commit to a third movie, the director pulls out faster than a high school football star from an under-aged cheerleader when her homicidal dad starts banging on the bedroom door. The result is a third movie that isn't just sub-par. It sucks elephant balls and gargles rhinoceros jizz.

Case and point, the movie that dare not speak it's name to X-men fans (X3). Bryan Singer was so generous. He gave us two fantastic movies that brought the X-men to life in a new way. Then he jumps ship on X3 so he can make a shitty Superman movie that turns the world's most iconic hero into a deadbeat dad. And we're left with Brett fucking Ratner, a guy about as qualified to do a comic book movie as he is fly the space shuttle. The result was a movie that pissed off comic fans so much that effigies of Ratner are still being burned. His name is now so tainted that if he comes within 50 feet of an X-men property comic fans are legally entitled to throw rocks at his balls. This guy destroyed the X-men series. The films that followed X3 have declined in quality faster than a Tuna sandwich kept near a radiator in the basement. So what's that say about Iron Man 3?

It's been a long standing rule since the Godfather trilogy. When the first two movies are good, chances are the third will be terrible. There are very few exceptions and usually the chances are better when the same director stays aboard. Spider-Man 3 wasn't a masterpiece, but it sucked way less compared to X3. Now Iron Man has a tough mountain to climb. History is working against it. Fate is not on the side of awesome. It will take some time to see how it comes together, but comic fans everywhere have reason to worry. Nuff said.

Monday, December 13, 2010

X-men Supreme Update - New Pic for Issue 8: Off Night Part 1

X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers is almost upon us! This fanfiction series is set to continue on schedule, but before it does I have a quick update for Volume 1. Another wonderful piece of art has come in from Brian Brinlee. As always, his work is special enough to warrant a full blown update. His skills have done a lot to make the X-men Supreme fanfiction series all the more awesome. This piece is from Issue 8: Off Night Part 1 and features the likes of Iceman, Lorna, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. Once again, Mr. Brinlee helps bring X-men Supreme to life! You can check out this panel and others at the following link:

X-men Supreme Pics - Panels

As always, I welcome any chance to beautify X-men Supreme with artwork. The pics section is not closed to the public. If you feel you can contribute to this fanfiction series or if you just want your art to show up somewhere, please let me know! Contact me and I'll be happy to post your work. As always, I thank Brian Brinlee for his wonderful contribution! Stay tuned for the beginning of X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers! This series continues to unfold in many ways and there is still plenty more to come! Excelsior!


X-23 #3 - Hellish Awesome

Before I begin, let me point out the obvious again. Yes, I know X-23 #3 came out a few weeks ago. Yes, I know I usually review these books the week they come out. Don't bust my balls. It's not like I want to delay these reviews. There just aren't enough hours in the day and popping caffine pills has turned my heart into the equivalent of Keith Richard's nutsack. Like X-men Legacy #242, I had to wait until I actually had time to review this. Plus, it was a shitty week. I originally intended to review the latest What If comic, but it ended up sucking so bad I couldn't give enough of a shit to review the damn thing. If a book is so bland it's hard to finish, I'm not gonna bother reviewing it. I'd rather stick to something that I know has the potential to be awesome.

The new X-23 series has certainly measured up in that regard. Since it began, Marjorie Liu has injected a steady stream of awesome into the pages that my pot dealer is officially jealous. The story of X-23 has always been compelling. She's not just a Wolverine knock-off. She's someone with a unique past, a unique persona, and unique disposition that puts her in a much better position to be awesome compared to more shitty incarnations (cough-Daken-cough). The first two issues of X-23 has her story intertwining with the ongoing Hellverine story in the Wolverine comics. This has been a bit of a mixed bag because that story hasn't exactly been worth dancing naked in the streets about. Tying X-23 into that story has somewhat limited the first few issues, but Marjorie Liu has made it work superbly.

The last issue put X-23 against a demonically possessed Wolverine who was obsessed with her in the same way Michael Vick is obsessed with dogs. He teased her, taunted her, and tormented her. He eventually got her to trade her soul for the life of her on-again off-again boy toy, Julian Keller. She was willing to save his life in exchange for taking a trip to hell. If Julian doesn't wake up kicking her feet, he's an even bigger douche than he was in X-men Legacy #242. He may not get a chance though. When X-23 wakes up in this issue, she's wearing a prisoner uniform and not the kind used in those sexy porno prisons. She's basically on the wrong side of an episode of Oz, only instead of sodomizing rapists she has to fight wolves. Not sure which is worse.

She tears into the wolves in a way that would make Michael Vick proud. Then it takes a hellish turn with one of the wolves turning into a demonic manifestation of Cyclops. He's also bear ass naked, so that shows Marvel is making a push to appeal to the Tween crowds or the gay crowds. The way this demon Cyclops talks to X-23 is similar to the way pimps talk to their hookers. He says he owns her and she's nothing but a tool. What makes this somewhat less pedophilic is that he's not entirely wrong. X-23 knows she was pretty much made to kill. In many ways, she is a tool and when a naked Cyclops says that to your face that's hard to ignore. Just ask Jean Grey or Emma Frost.

Laura's trip down the first few circles of Hell continue. The demon Cyclops basically tells her she has no soul, which for teenage girls is not much of a stretch. But she runs anyways, trying to get away from the wolves and the creepy gaze of a naked man. She's not unlike Miley Cyrus in that respect. Then along the way she meets someone else. This time it's a little less menacing and doesn't involve naked man (sorry tweens). It's hard to tell what his is, but this walking spirit that looks like a bad hologram from the Star Wars movies reaches out to her and provides X-23 with some much needed guidance.

She seizes this light and it takes her back down a trip to memory lane, which for her is like walking through Jeffery Dahlmer's kitchen. It takes her back to her childhood when she was being turned from an anti-social little girl into an anti-social killing machine. Her creators were trying to train the empathy out of her. To do that, they do something that could only come from the nightmares of grade school children. They threaten to kill a puppy. They give her a choice. Either she has to sit by and watch them horribly torture a cute little puppy or she has to kill it quickly so it doesn't suffer. On a scale of 1 to 10, it ranks about an 8 on the fucked up cruelty scale. Still not as bad as your typical initiation ceremony for a college fraternity, but it's up there.

The incentive works. She becomes a heartless killer and does everything her creators ask of her. She butchers people in a way that would make Ted Bundy queasy. She knows this and it starts to wear on her. In this Marjorie Liu really digs deep into Laura's psyche. Even during the Craig Kyle and Chris Yost minis, there was little time given into how Laura copes with all the terrible things she's done.

How does a teenage girl cope with being a heartless killer? It may not be too far off from your typical overly dramatic teenage girl who ends up on a reality show, but it's one of those extremes that's hard to wrap your head around. Marjorie Liu shows that for all the horrors that went into her creation, X-23 still has a fragile spark of humanity. That alone places her above half the teenage girls I went to high school with.

The personal struggle then turns into an actual struggle when Laura comes face to face with Hellverine. The nude Cyclops is gone (again, sorry tweens). Now Hellverine is tempting her again, trying to make her yet another demon for his army. He speaks his typical demon talk, droning on about how she has no choice and making his the only one that makes any sense. It's basically what you would expect of a demon. He's more full of himself than Simon Cowell and thinks he's pulling all the puppet strings when in reality he's just comic relief.

Of course, Laura's smart enough to understand that the only language demons know is bullshit. Taking them seriously is like trusting a used car salesman that insists the squeaking noise made by the transmission is nothing more than the radio acting up. She calls his bluff, saying she has another choice. Then it gets a little sudden. Without many words or descriptions she makes this choice and everything fades in a white light. It's about as exciting as it sounds.

Now this is something I have a problem with. I get the whole spiritual nature of this struggle, but to have it resolved in a's like Dorthy clicking her heels in the Wizard of Oz. It's a less than exciting way to resolve an issue. This is Wolverine and X-23! Two character that spill more blood than a hemophiliac getting treatment from an acupuncturist with Parkinson's! For it to end in just a flash is pretty weak and doesn't leave quite the impact it should. For the struggles Laura went through on her little spirit quest, it's not a very compelling resolution.

When the light fades, she's back where she started. She wakes up in the infirmary with Storm and a fully healed Hellion. Everything seems to have been resolved. Nothing is out of place except for some nasty blood stains, but that's the kind of shit that comes out with a mix of bleach and windex. Nobody remembers anything and they're right back to where they started. It's about as exciting as it sounds.

It does pick up again though. Cyclops, Emma, Storm, and Gambit go back to discussing her fate. Emma and Cyclops still believe that Laura needs structure. She can't just run around like Wolverine does because he's been doing that for decades and he's still an asshole. Storm believes she should be free to explore. Surprisingly, Gambit offers the best insight. The mere fact they're debating her fate implies she's another thing that needs to be fixed and that alone makes for a fucked up premise. The only way she'll make any progress on anything is to get away from the people who are trying to decide for her. Normally, Gambit's only good for card puns and flirting with Rogue so it's nice for Marjorie Liu to make him somewhat intelligible for once.

Laura follows Gambit's advice without even hearing it. She pays one last visit to Hellion, but doesn't even say goodbye before she leaves. She also gets one last goodbye from Storm, who decides not to stop her despite wanting to support her. It's a touching moment, one where Laura really sets herself apart from being in the X-men to being on her own. So she ends up leaving, basically following Wolverine's old habits of running off and trying to resolve her own screwed up problems. Like father like half-cloned daughter.

However, she doesn't get far before her next threat shows up. She doesn't know it, but someone every bit as worse as Hellverine catch's her interest. What could be worse you ask? How about Sinister? And not just the pasty faced ugly-ass Sinister that's been a historic's the Sinister with boobs! Miss Sinister! Could you imagine anything more horrifying and arousing?

Three issues in and the first arc is done! Marjorie Liu wisely doesn't commit too much of this new series to the Hellverine arc, even if it still feels like more than it needed to be. She probes into the psyche and personality of X-23, giving her depth and adding to her already stellar awesome. Her trip through Hell brought out a powerful side to Laura, showing that unlike Wolverine she's still a teenage girl struggling to find her place. She's on a different path now. She's got her own priorities and missions. In many ways this first arc has helped set the stage for what X-23's struggles are going to be like in this series and Marjorie Liu has made them more appealing than free wing night at a topless bar in Vegas!

Now this issue wasn't without some shortcomings. The resolution to X-23's trip through Hell was a bit contrived. The first two issues were flawless because they spared no details. Marjorie Liu took care of the little things and the big things. That's what made it so compelling and complete. With this issue, however, the resolution feels rushed and unrefined. I'm glad this series is trying to set itself apart from the other Wolverine series, but another page adding layers to her struggle in escaping Hellverine would have been nice. It would have come off as less contrived. The book makes up for it in the end, but it does bring a rushed resolution to something that could have been so mind-blowing. It's like only smoking half a joint. You don't get the full high.

X-23 #3 is still an awesome book and one that deserves to be in the upper class of X-men ongoings. It's right up there with Uncanny X-Force and the new Wolverine series in terms of quality. The art is fantastic, the story is compelling, and the characters are well-rounded. There's every possible ingredient for awesome. Marjorie Liu has cooked up something special here. So for this issue I give it a solid 4.5 out of 5. One arc is in the books and there's no reason why ten more can't follow! Nuff said.