Friday, January 30, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue #113: Weapon Plus Part 1 is LIVE and New Commission!

It’s been a rough stretch for Wolverine, both in the comics and in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’s hard to get much rougher than being killed off in an event, only to have someone like Sabretooth take his place in Uncanny Avengers. But while Wolverine’s story is on hold in the comics, his story is entering a bold new chapter in X-men Supreme. He’s been clawing himself up out of rock bottom since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. Now he’s ready to take a much bolder leap and that involves confronting a dangerous new threat in Fantomex.

I set up the Weapon Plus arc with the intent of bringing out the best in Wolverine. Now that he’s dead in the comics, I want to make sure that the X-men Supreme fanfiction series makes an effort to fill the void for Wolverine fans everywhere. And I can think of no better way than to pit him against a powerful enemy that will test his mind, body, and spirit. He’s already had more than his share of tests in X-men Supreme. He’s had to battle Sabretooth, Weapon X, and Mr. Sinister. But Fantomex and the forces of Weapon Plus present a new and unique challenge that can’t be found in any other world outside of X-men Supreme.

When Wolverine confronted Fantomex in X-men Supreme Issue 111: Divine Intervention, it was not a close battle to say the least. Fantomex didn’t just wound Wolverine. He sent him to the brink of death. Fantomex demonstrated a level of skill and efficiency that exposed many of Wolverine’s shortcomings, both as a warrior and as a failed living weapon. In X-men Supreme, I set up Fantomex to be the weapon that Wolverine failed to be in the eyes of Weapon X. So far, he has succeeded. But as we’ve seen with Weapon X in both X-men Supreme and in its sordid history in the comics, its success is very fragile.

That’s what will make the challenges that Wolverine faces in this new arc so daunting. It isn’t so much that Fantomex represents a successful version of the weapon that he almost became. It also represents how daunting that challenge will be if and when that weapon fails. This fanfiction series has shown that Weapon X can be competent enough to free Graydon Creed from prison, but they can also be incompetent enough to let the X-men get the better of them. Now Wolverine, the X-men, and the mysterious X-23 are about to get caught in the crosshairs of Weapon Plus. It’s going to be a major battle for all those involved and one that will have major ramifications for the future of this fanfiction series.

X-men Supreme Issue 113: Weapon Plus Part 1

In addition, I have another update from the X-men Supreme Pics section. This time, it comes in the form of a new commission on behalf of X-men Supreme's newest artistic ally, Mack. He has provided another wonderful piece for X-men Supreme Issue 68: The Phoenix Saga Part 6. As always, he did a wonderful job of bringing the piece to life and I thank him for his contributions to X-men Supreme.

X-men Supreme Official Panels

This latest arc represents another step towards the biggest upheaval to come in X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. It’s an event that will shake the foundations of this fanfiction series, but it’s one that has to be set up just right. And since I’m still not certain whether this will be my last volume for X-men Supreme, it’s very important to make sure I get it right. And I can’t know it’s right unless I get feedback from readers. Please take the time to submit your reviews and comments. Either post them directly in the issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat. X-men Supreme will only succeed if I know I’m making it sufficiently awesome. Thanks to all those who have supported this fanfiction series. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #30

For anyone who has ever played video games, at some point they’ve used cheat codes. Sure, the can make a game so damn easy that it might as well be on auto-pilot. But sometimes it can make the game fun. Who doesn’t enjoy turning on God-mode in Skyrim every once in a while and beating dragons with a dagger? But that kind of cheating is a bit harder to enjoy when it comes to resolving egregious flaws in a story like the one being told in Uncanny X-men.

It’s a story that has dragged for way too fucking long. It was supposed to tie into the events of Original Sin, an event that ended last summer before people started getting sick of Frozen. It introduced one of Charles Xavier’s dying wishes and a volatile new mutant named Matthew Malloy. It has had its share of good, intense moments. But it has also been full of shitty characterization and huge dick moves, largely from Iceman. Now it’s gotten so fucked up that cheat codes might be necessary to fix it and Tempus is basically an updated version of Game Genie. It’s gotten to a point where shit is so bad that Uncanny X-men #30 has to cheat to tie up loose ends. But for a story that’s dragged so much, maybe that’s the most merciful thing to do at this point.

Some level of cheating will definitely be needed for SHIELD. They just told Maria Hill that they fucking killed Cyclops, Magik, and Matthew Malloy. It sounds like the kind of callous shit usually reserved for the Ultimate universe, but anyone who saw the teasers for Secret Wars (or even the preview for Uncanny X-men #31 that was released five days before this fucking issue) can sleep easy knowing that he’ll be back and his death will be undone. And that’s going to be bad fucking news for SHIELD. It doesn’t matter how much Maria Hill wants to secretly bone Cyclops. After shit like this, he’s going to see to it that her panties stay dry for a long fucking time.

The real cheating takes place, courtesy of Tempus. She saw how fucked this situation was so she resorted to more time travel because I guess Marvel assumes we’ve all become desensitized to this shit. The sad part is they’re not entirely wrong. It certainly makes it hard to get excited about the implications for this story. At the very least, it gives us a chance to see a Charles Xavier that Patrick Stewart would be proud to play.

Xavier isn’t quite as charming as Patrick Stewart, but he’s not the same douche-bag he was leading up to his death. He picks up on how fucked things must be. He even picks up how it involves Cyclops, who at this point is the teacher’s pet. Yet he remains remarkably calm, not even spilling his tea. I guess pretty girls from the future drop in all the time. If he were Patrick Stewart, he might even have a chance at boning them. But I guess there are limits to even time travel.

There are also limits to how much Emma Frost can keep arguing with the Jean Grey Institute staff. This is an argument that began several issues ago and it has still accomplished less than Paris Hilton’s music career. They kept bitching and moaning about the merits of recruiting Matthew Malloy and how Cyclops is just looking for a weapon. If this were a college lecture, I would have long since run out of weed and fallen asleep.

It only finally ends when gets news from SHIELD that Cyclops is dead. He doesn’t exactly sound that upset about it. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s hiding a boner. But again, it’s a moment that falls painfully flat because it’s a death that we already know isn’t going to stick. Considering how it accomplishes so little on top of an argument that went fucking nowhere, this is one of those moments that even weed can’t make entertaining.

There’s a much more meaningful argument between Tempus and Charles Xavier. She keeps trying to make him read her mind fully. He’s not too eager to see how fucked the future is who spoil the next dozen or so Superbowls. But he does sense enough to know what Tempus wants. She thinks Matthew Malloy needs to die in the past the save the future. She already sees what happens by doing things Xavier’s way. She thinks this situation is fucked enough to warrant an exception. Usually, this is the point where Xavier would just shrug his shoulders and compromise like he’s been doing since the Clinton administration. But this isn’t that same Charles Xavier and this is probably what makes this moment actually feel meaningful.

Maybe Patrick Stewart spoiled us, but I’m among those who miss this version of Charles Xavier. He didn’t compromise his principles whenever convenient. He didn’t mind-fuck his students when he thought it was necessary. He was dedicated to doing the right thing. Why the fuck did we have to abandon this Xavier so we could only see him in shitty movies? I know this is the result of time travel, but that doesn’t make it less meaningful.

In addition to seeing a less douchy Charles Xavier, I also enjoy seeing SHIELD get their asses handed to them when they fuck up. And they definitely fucked up by trying to solve this problem with Cyclops and Matthew Malloy with missiles. Haven’t they learned anything from George W. Bush? Bombing problems doesn’t make them go away. That certainly applies to Matthew Malloy, who managed to survive the attack. He’s able to reform his body and royally fuck up every SHIELD agent, jet, and helicarrier within a 20-mile radius. He then tries to bring Magik and Cyclops back to life. He fails at this because I guess that would just be too convenient, even for a grossly overpowered mutant like him. Now he has even more reasons to be pissed off. But at this point, Matthew Malloy’s powers are so obscene that it’s hard to feel sorry for him in the slightest. I have more sympathy for Bill Belichick at this point.

There’s really nobody else who can unfuck this situation besides Charles Xavier. He’s the one who put Matthew Malloy in this position. He tried to help him, but only ended up turning him into a ticking time bomb. He’s certainly not happy that Tempus has revealed that he’s basically a miserable failure in his efforts. Not only did he fail Matthew Malloy, but he failed his best student too. He gleans just how bad it’s gotten from her thoughts, finding out that even Magneto thinks they’re fucked.

Yet he still refuses to kill Matthew. Again, this is the kind of Charles Xavier who doesn’t make that kind of douche-bag compromises. It would be so refreshing if it didn’t take a situation this fucked to revisit it. That’s the biggest problem with this story and with moments like this. They have no emotional weight. The story has either dragged too much or it’s one of those stories that’s basically going to be undone. It kept AXIS from being as good as it could’ve been and it’s making this story as shitty as it deserves to be.

Back at the Jean Grey Institute, the shock of Cyclops’ death has hit pretty much nobody. The only one who really reacts to it as Emma Frost and even she doesn’t break down in tears. She’s not even sleeping with the guy anymore, but she cares about him enough to know how fucked the X-men are without him. She even manages to lash out with a little telepathic hissy fit, if only to kill Beast and Iceman’s boners. Her powers may be broke, but she’s still capable of getting pretty pissed off.

She ends up taking that anger out on Matthew Malloy when he appears at the Jean Grey Institute. How he gets there and why he chooses to go there when SHIELD is the one that fucked him over is not explained. But as soon as Emma Frost lays into the guy who killed the last guy to fuck her good who wasn’t a king or a billionaire mogul, he kills her. Because I guess this story isn’t done trying too fucking hard. It has to kill more characters to keep our attention. A free bottle of gin would’ve done the same.

At this point, nobody should even raise an eyebrow. Even Emma Frost fans will probably yawn at this because it’s just that bland. Matthew Malloy is on a roll, killing anyone and everyone who gets near him. Emma Frost might as well have been another meat bag in the mix that goes into making a bad hot dog. I’m sure it’s going to make Kitty Pryde happy while all her former students cry for the teacher they used to fantasize about in the shower, but for everyone else it’s an annoyance at best.

This latest meaningless death is sensed by the Stepford Cuckoos. At that point even they agree on just how fucked they are. They start plotting on how they’re going to handle this and/or how they’re going to start shitting themselves. But that’s when Tempus arrives back in the present, this time with Charles Xavier. And since it’s a non-douchy Charles Xavier, they actually have reason to not curl up into a fetal position and cry themselves to death. He’s the one who helped make Matthew Malloy the fucked up overpowered character he is. Now he has to fix it. Sure, it required more bullshit time travel, but who the fuck really cares at this point?

I’m normally in favor of overkill, especially when it involves boobs, beer, and fireworks. But when it comes to death in comics, even a grain of salt is too much. This story that has dragged way past the point of feeling meaningful is now throwing too many “Holy fuck!” moments into the mix. But these are moments that really feel hollow because it’s already been established in teasers for Secret Wars that Cyclops, Emma Frost, and pretty much everyone who gets slaughtered in this issue will come back. And the way it’s done has lost every bit of emotional depth it could’ve had. Now that time travel is being used again, it’s become more of an annoyance than a story.

And it’s not just time travel that makes this story feel like it’s resorting to cheat codes. Mathew Malloy has gone way past the point of being a tragic figure. Now he’s just a grossly overpowered damsel who might as well have his own Disney movie. Between his whining and his tendency to kill anyone who so much as touches him, he’s lost everything that once made him interesting and he wasn’t even that interesting to begin with. The only saving grace this story has is that Charles Xavier is acting like Charles fucking Xavier again. It sucks that we needed time travel to see this kind of Xavier again, but it helps that someone with a balanced mind is finally entering the story. It’s still dragging on way too fucking long and has no impact, but it’s helps keep this book from getting shitty on an epic level. Uncanny X-men #30 gets a 4 out of 10. There are a lot of flaws in this story, but the worst by far is that Iceman got what he wanted and we just can’t have that. Nuff said!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #1

The word “rectcon” is to comics what the C-word is to women. Few things will offend, enrage, and annoy comic book fans than a bullshit retcon, especially if they perceive it as part of some petty agenda. That’s why there are still many fans still pissed off about “One More Day” and “The Clone Saga.” There’s just no better way to shit all over years and years worth of stories than just up and saying, “Fuck it, we’re magically changing this shit.” That’s not to say all retcons are bad. Madelyne Pryor is a retcon that needed to happen. But the latest relaunch of Uncanny Avengers, stemming directly from the events of Avengers and X-men: AXIS, involves dealing with a retcon that has pissed more fans off than the Sopranos finale.

There’s nothing anyone from Marvel can say at this point to change the perception. By making it so Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are no longer Magneto’s children, they’re playing right into all the crackpot conspiracy theories that some fans have about the way Marvel treats mutants. They know like everyone else with an internet connection that Marvel doesn’t have the movie rights to X-men. Hell, they can’t even say the word “mutant” in their movies because Fox’s lawyers will pounce on that shit like a pot head pouncing on an unopened bag of potato chips. And since Joss Whedon wanted to use Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2, Marvel is all too willing to suck his dick. And since Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have a long history with the Avengers, there’s some legal wiggle-room that I’m sure involved a lot of dick-sucking.

Now it’s bled into the comics. Marvel has changed the history of two iconic characters whose legacy has been closely tied to Magneto for decades. It’s because of that legacy that their stories carry emotional weight. Then in AXIS, that legacy was shot to shit by the revelation that Magneto wasn’t their father. Sure, that’s a good thing to hear on Maury. It’s not quite as good to hear in this instance. Now ignoring for a moment this bullshit attempt to cash in on Age of Ultron, I’m not saying this concept still can’t be awesome. Uncanny Avengers #1 is going to make the effort regardless of how pissed off some fans are about AXIS. I’m just saying that it’s going to take a lot of awesome to mask the stench of a retcon like this.

To do this, an exotic setting helps in the same way exotic dancers give something extra to a lap dance. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are just as annoyed by this retcon as everyone and are trying to understand it. That takes them to an exceedingly exotic location called Counter-Earth. It’s basically another Earth crafted by the High Evolutionar. It orbits on the opposite side of the sun and it’s full of the kinds of creatures that would make cos-players feel right at home.

And while it is full of exotic creatures that look like Thundercats rejects, it still has the same problem with assholes who cheat at poker. I guess that’s one evolutionary achievement that must always be preserved. Quicksilver somehow believes playing a game of poker with a bunch of thugs will help him find out who his real father is. This pisses off his opponents, who see right through his bluff and know he’s after the High Evolutionary. What follows is a bar fight and a street chase that tries to be like a James Bond movie, but lacks the charm. Maybe Quicksilver should’ve had a martini and a cool car.

The Scarlet Witch eventually joins in the fight, going after the other thugs who don’t take a poker game quite as seriously. She can fuck with reality. She easily win a bar fight. But beyond the action and the chases, there is some nice inner monolog about the impact of this revelation. They don’t just brush it off. This shit really fucking bothers them and it should. They just found out Magneto isn’t their father. The only problem with this scene is that it feels like they skipped a couple of steps to reach it. That doesn’t make Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch getting shot in the end any less intriguing. It just feels a bit rushed.

The Maximoff twins have picked a shitty time to go on their little spirit quest. The rest of the Unity Squad is still in the process of unfucking themselves after the events of AXIS. Thor isn’t on the team anymore. Havok is still inverted. Wasp is probably going to sue the Avengers for inflicting too much emotional distress and will probably win. That leaves a team that’s supposed to bridge the gap between Avengers and X-men with only two fucking mutants on the team. And rather than deal with all the mind-fucks they endured with AXIS and the shit leading up to it, they have to deal with Maximoff family drama.

It’s not like this issue shouldn’t be addressed, but it still feels rushed since it jumped right into bar fights and street chases. The Unity Squad, despite having just been shaken up, decides to go after the twins because I guess the whole tension between Avengers and X-men will solve itself. As a concept, it’s as fucked as it sounds. But it still has merit. Rogue even sympathizes a little with the Maximoff twins in their effort to find their real father and she was among those who wanted to choke Wanda to death. It helps give the situation some depth as they follow their trail to Wundagore.

This is where Sabretooth makes his first contribution to the Unity Squad. No, that’s not a typo or a drunk text. Sabretooth is part of the Unity Squad now. He’s still inverted so it’s not quite as fucked up as it sounds. But for some reason, they think he’s fit to be part of this team. How anyone was convinced of that must’ve involved a heated debate and/or a really lucky hand at poker. Whatever went into this decision, we don’t get to see it. Again, it just rushes into the plot with the Maximoff twins. It’s not unexpected, but it still feels like it’s skipping way too many steps.

It does help that despite being inverted, they keep Sabretooth on a tight leash. They make it clear they don’t even trust an inverted version of him and he makes it clear it pisses him off. But he’s still able to track the Maximoff Twin’s scent into the High Evolutionary’s old hangout. This is where they find out that the twins took a trip to Counter-Earth. Now it’s just a matter of catching up with them and convincing them to settle for an appearance on Maury.

That’s not as hard as it seems, but not as easy as it should be. The portal is destroyed so Brother Voodoo has to teleport them to Counter Earth with help from Vision. It sounds like one of those feats that Reed Richards does in his sleep. It’s only fucked up when one of the High Evolutionary’s guards finally decides that trespassers are a bad thing and attack. He does this just in time to fuck up Brother Voodoo’s spells. And as anyone who has known the Scarlet Witch for more than a week knows, fucking up a spell can really ruin their day and even fuck up an entire species if they’re really unlucky.

This time, no genocides or inversions occur. The only real consequence seems to be that they arrived on Counter Earth at different locations. That’s not terribly fucked up. Hell, that’s basically like the mid-season finale of the Amazing Race. The problem is that it segments the story somewhat and there are only so many different directions I can follow while drunk.

Brother Voodoo apparently pissed off some of his ancestors by fucking up the spell. That means the Unity Squad’s return ticket is now MIA because their day just hasn’t been fucked up enough. Vision also arrives in the middle of a metropolis on Counter-Earth. He even takes the time to admire it as being much more high-tech and clean than anything he’s seen. I guess this is a subtle way of him saying he’s found one too many condom wrappers in a park. But then he’s drawn by another AI that looks just like him, but has boobs. I don’t know the complexity of Visions machinery. I don’t even claim to understand those who are sexually attracted to robots. I’ll just say that, as contrived as this is, I think Vision should go for it. Machine or not, good pussy is good pussy.

It’s not nearly as comfortable for Rogue, who winds up in the lab of some creepy old guy who looks like he should be hiding in a dumpster outside a Victoria’s Secret. He’s found a way to paralyze Rogue so he can do some experiments. He claims that mutation has the power to build new worlds for new creations. I think that might just be code for saying he wants her to try on the custom thong underwear he’s designed for her. He also throws in that he managed to erase Wonder Man from her mind. He says it in the same casual manner that I throw out empty beer bottles. Given how this plot was never resolved and completely lost during AXIS, it feels forced in addition to being creepy as hell.

Even so, Rogue still didn’t get the worst of it. Winding up in the lab of some creepy old guy is bad, but Captain America wound up in some fucked up garden that’s more giant spider web than garden. Fortunately for all those with arachnophobia, it isn’t full of giant spiders. It’s just full of tree creatures that drain the life from its victims. I still think it’s less horrifying than spiders. Captain America sees how these creatures feed on their prey and he’s not eager to be digested like a hot dog at the Superbowl. He doesn’t end up escaping, but he’s still Captain freakin’ America. He just wouldn’t be very American if he was defeated by a fucking tree.

I guess the only one who could say they were lucky with where they ended up was Sabretooth. He appeared in the middle of what looks like a nice park with a pristine fountain. He even describes how there are no foul scents anywhere. There’s not even a moldy ham sandwich rotting in a dumpster. The creatures don’t try to kill him, but they welcome him with the same way animal rights activists are welcomed at barbecue.

Since he’s inverted, his first instinct isn’t to kill every one of them and roast their bodies over an open flame. He just tries to get the fuck out of there and find someone who’s breath stinks of burnt steak. But before he can get too far, he runs into the High Evolutionary. So he ends up finding exactly who the Maximoff Twins were looking for and he wasn’t even looking. I guess this is how he learns to empathize with what Wolverine had to go through. This is the kind of randomly contrived shit that ruined so many weekends and drinking binges.

I admit it’s hard to make an objective judgment on this issue when the shit stains of the big retcon are present in every moment. That said, I can’t say that this book didn’t just gloss over it. Magneto not being Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s father is a big fucking deal and this issue treated it as such. The whole conflict emerges directly from Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch reacting to it. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that. Hell, it would’ve made the retcon even more egregious if they just shrugged it off like Peter Parker lost another job or pissed off another girlfriend. But in pursuing this story, it leaves a few shortcomings.

This issue really didn’t feel like it deserved to have a shiney new #1 on the cover. It felt like it could’ve easily been the next arc in the previous volume of Uncanny Avengers. The lineup changed, but it’s still following the same story. In addition, there’s a bit too much showing and not enough telling, even by kindergarten standards. There is some action, but there’s not a lot of explanation of depth to that action. There’s some “Oh fuck!” moments as well, but none that will cause anyone to spit out their coffee. In the end, this issue was solid yet unspectacular. It has promise, but nobody who was disappointed in the retcon is going to change their mind after reading this. Uncanny Avengers #1 gets a 6 out of 10. Maybe this is an issue that would’ve best been resolved by a stint on Maury Povich. Not saying that a trip to Counter Earth to fuck up the High Evolutionary isn’t a close second, but I just think that Eminem and Jerry Springer desensitized us to baby mama dramas at this point. Nuff said!

A Royal Struggle: Wonder Woman #38

The following is my review of Wonder Woman #38, which was posted on

There's a reason why the royal family is regular fodder for British tabloids. It's the same reason the Kim Kardashians and Donald Trumps of the world are fodder for American tabloids. There's this eerie fascination with high society, be it royal or rich. These people live in a world so different and so detached from reality that, like the wreckage of a derailed freight train, we just can't look away. It's not something most people are proud of, but it's an industry that still has a fertile market.

If Wonder Woman and Themyscira existed in real life, she would certainly have her share of tabloid headlines. These are the same publications that regularly report that aliens have placed chips in the brains of every President since Lincoln. But when real gods and goddesses are involved, it has a special level of intrigue. So much so that the affairs of Wonder Woman's world would probably require its own TV network. If Oprah has one, then Wonder Woman could certainly manage.

It's this world that has become so chaotic and so disorganized that it's several steps beyond a train wreck. And Wonder Woman, the feminine ideal who is supposed to be able to have it all in that classic feminist mentality, has been struggling to manage it. She's the God of War, the Queen of Themyscira, a member of the Justice League, and Superman's lover. That's a lot of responsibilities to juggle, even for a demigod. And in Wonder Woman #38, even the embodiment of feminine strength struggles with it.

The core of this part of Wonder Woman's story isn't built around one major struggle. It's a series of smaller struggles that are overwhelming her. It's death by a thousand paper-cuts rather than death by guillotine. Granted, a smaller struggle by her standard still involves being a god and dealing with infighting on an island of immortal warriors, but these struggles still come off as real and genuine. Her fears and insecurities manifest in a very real, albeit not entirely literal, way that makes her relatable in a way usually reserved for shows that rip-off Dawson's Creek.

It's jarring in some ways. Wonder Woman isn't supposed to be vulnerable. This is the same woman who can battle the entire Olympian pantheon on Monday and still have enough strength to fight off an invasion by Darkseid on Thursday. However, Wonder Woman really doesn't do much battling in this story. In fact, she does next to none. On paper, that sounds like it shouldn't make for a good Wonder Woman story. But in practice, it's still a story worth telling in the sense that it's probably the easiest story to overlook.

For Wonder Woman and the many characters like her, male and female, there plenty of stories about them fighting epic battles and winning with varying degrees of style. But there aren't quite as many stories about how they manage their lives in between battles. Wonder Woman battles the First Born, becomes both the God of War and Queen of the Amazons in the process, and somehow finds time to be a member of the Justice League in between. How does she cope with that? This story offers some insight into that question. In terms of an answer, at best it leaves room for improvement.

Wonder Woman confides in her insecurities, but she's not crippled by them. She's still Wonder Woman. She's not going to curl up into a fetal position and whine about it. She understands that being the God of War and being the Queen of the Amazons carries with it some heavy responsibilities. To her credit, she attempts to imbue her own values of compassion and understanding to these tasks. But in the same mold as "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," these ideal values clash with the same fodder that keep tabloids in business.

The gods of Olympus still plot against her. The Amazons she's supposed to rule don't care for all these new changes, as kind as they might be. Compassion and understanding just aren't enough in a world where people need to get upset about something and trolling message boards just aren't enough. Wonder Woman can do all the right things for all the right reasons, but it's still a struggle and that's what makes her story so compelling.

But as compelling as it is, the story itself moves along at a painfully slow place. In addition to not doing much fighting, the other ongoing plots surrounding the newly-introduced Donna Troy and the the Justice League don't make much progress. There is some, but it comes off more as a movie trailer at times. It helps that there is still plenty of character depth to compensate for this lack of progress. It's just not as balanced as it could be.

If this part of the story were a tabloid story, then it probably wouldn't get many people worked up. There aren't any scandalous affairs. There are no hookers or drugs involved. There aren't even any embarrassing photos of bad hangovers or botched botox. But there is a power struggle in both Themyscira and among the Olympians. Power struggles may not get the same headlines as scandalous affairs, but they do feed into the public's fascination. Even if the details are mostly teasers, there's still a story worth following in Wonder Woman #38.

Wonder Woman's humanity and vulnerabilities take center stage in this story, but there are still conflicts unfolding all around her. And if the ending is any hint, she'll have to share that stage with Donna Troy. The pressure is building for Wonder Woman. There's only so much that even the world's strongest woman can handle. At some point, she has to confront her limits. That doesn't make her less a feminine ideal. It just makes her someone who can keep fighting, despite tabloid-level scrutiny.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, January 23, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue #113: Weapon Plus Part 1 PREVIEW!

A new threat has emerged from an old foe in X-men Supreme. It's a threat that has attacked the X-men before and left some pretty deep scars. But this threat promises to leave a lot more than scars. It's a culmination of numerous plots that have been unfolding in this fanfiction series for a while now. There are always plenty of immediate threats for the X-men to confront, but there are also plenty of conflicts brewing behind the scenes. It's a common struggle the X-men have faced for years and X-men Supreme is no exception. And this particular struggle carries with it a few familiar names.

While Wolverine might be dead in the comics, his story is still unfolding in the world of X-men Supreme. Not long ago, he had hit rock bottom. He broke up with Storm. Dark revelations about his past emerged, courtesy of Lady Deathstrike. As his spirit lay wounded, he encountered a mysterious girl calling herself X-23 who he finds out is his clone. These struggles have put Wolverine in a difficult place, but he's been gradually fighting his way out of it. Then a new threat named Fantomex nearly ended that struggle. In his X-men Supreme debut, Fantomex made a major impression by nearly killing Wolverine and X-23, wounding and poisoning them to a point where even their healing factor couldn't save them. They fought to recover, but the battle is far from over. And this battle will create the next major arc for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

While Wolverine and the X-men have a long list of enemies, few enemies are as devious or subtle as Weapon X. They're not some monster they can attack. They're a weapons program intent on turning mutants into unthinking killing machines. The X-men got their first taste in the Revenge of Weapon X arc. While they were able to win that battle, Weapon X did not go away. It just went into hiding. Under the guidence of the demoted Colonel Wraith, they've been working with the likes of Reverend William Stryker and Graydon Creed to bring Weapon X out of the shadows. They're striking at a time when General Grimshaw's approach to mutants appears to be failing. And Fantomex might be the key to making Weapon X more dangerous than ever.

But who is Fantomex? What is his history in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series? More importantly, what is his future as he and Weapon X clash with the X-men? Those are all questions that will be addressed in this new arc, Weapon Plus. As always, I've prepared a preview that should demonstrate just how menacing Fantomex will be.

Lara was one of Jubilee’s close friends. She had been a runaway since she was 15, shortly after her mutant abilities manifested. She had the ability to form vivid illusions and she didn’t always use that ability very wisely. One such use involved blackmailing one of her teachers at school. This ended with her being expelled and kicked out of her house. She wandered aimlessly for a while until she found District X. She usually didn’t get caught up in Jubilee’s guard duties. But since she was breaking the rules again, she needed some form of backup. She also needed cover in the form of her illusions.
“Are you still up for this, Lara?” asked Jubilee as she stopped near a vacant curb, “I need you to make sure we’re as invisible as two teenage girls can be.”

“The best I can do is making it look like we’re a couple of flies. I wish I could make us completely invisible, but that’s not how my powers work,” said Lara, who had to lean over and catch her breath.

“I hope it’s enough. We don’t know what or who we’re dealing with here other than they’re fond of abducting innocent mutants.”

“You think it could be those Friends of Humanity goons again?”

“If it is, they’re in for another painful lesson,” said Jubilee strongly.

The young mutant made her way down the M-street. This was an area right along boarder between District X and the rest of New York City. It was not far from where their friend, Pixie, was abducted and beaten by the Friends of Humanity. It seemed like a good place to start, although Lara had reservations.

Jubilee was acting more reckless than usual. Lara couldn’t remember struggling this much to keep up with her. She had always been dedicated to protecting District X, especially after what happened with Alex Summers. However, this felt different. She gave the impression that there were other reasons for this behavior.

“Is it really just the Friends of Humanity you want to beat up on?” asked Lara, having to jog to stay close, “Or have you found some bizarre way to make this personal?”

“Our friends and neighbors are being abducted in broad daylight. It’s already personal,” said Jubilee as she carefully scanned the vacant areas of District X.

“I meant personal in another way. You’ve been pretty moody lately. Does this have something to do with Bobby Drake’s last visit?”

“Can we please not talk about Bobby Drake?” she groaned, “We’re kind of in the middle of a crises here.”

“All the more reason to bring it up. You’re usually not so aggressive when it comes to breaking the rules,” argued Lara, “He’s been bugging you lately. I get that. What I don’t get is why it’s getting to you.”

Jubilee ignored her remarks as she carefully scanned a string of buildings along the street. Most of these buildings were vacant or used for storage. She saw a few mutants inside huddling close together, waiting for the crisis to pass. Some even waved to her, but she didn’t wave back. Lara didn’t make her feel that friendly by bringing up Bobby Drake. They were still going out together in their usual capacity. But for some reason, that had become a problem.

“It used to be that he annoyed you whenever he wanted to get serious,” Lara went on, “I know your policy towards boyfriends. You’re not looking to get attached. For whatever reason, this has been a problem for Bobby.”

“This isn’t far from where the third mutant disappeared earlier today,” said Jubilee, still not acknowledging Lara’s words, “I’m not seeing any CSI style clues here.”

“Then something changed,” said Lara, “First, there was that incident when you last visited him, which left you with a nasty concussion.”

“More like two,” muttered Jubilee under her breath.

“So Bobby tries to make it up to you, but things stay rocky. He keeps giving off vibes that he’s not respecting your attachment policy. Then for some reason I can’t begin to understand, he got upset when you weren’t jealous about that Amara girl he told you about.”

“What? The one he saw naked?” she said, finally acknowledging Lara’s comments, “Big deal! He’s seen me naked too.”

“That’s where I get confused,” said Lara, “He comes clean, you’re okay with it, and he’s not even relieved. Did you send the wrong message or something? That maybe not being jealous hurt his feeling somehow?”

“He’s Bobby Drake. He’s known for juggling snowballs. Not for his critical thinking skills.”

“Be that as it may, it’s clearly frustrating you as much as it’s frustrating him. Why else would you two keep upsetting one another?”

Jubilee walked with less urgency. Lara’s words finally forced her to slow down. Even if this wasn’t time to discuss personal matters. But as she looked into more unlit buildings, she realized how distracted she was. Bobby Drake had done a number on her since they hooked up. Since he was an X-man, he set the bar pretty high. Meeting him on that same level was challenging in more ways than she expected.

“We’re letting this affect our work here, Lara, But I’ll admit it anyways. I’m messed up about Bobby,” she told her friend, “I’m starting to wonder if we’re hitting that proverbial wall. The guy wants more out of this relationship than I do. We aren’t seeing eye-to-eye anymore and it’s getting to me. Maybe after this is over, you can sit down with us and act as a mediator or something. Would you be willing to lend that kind of support?”

Jubilee expected Lara to refuse outright or run full speed in the opposite direction. She may have been a friend, but friendship had its limits. Yet surprisingly, she heard nothing. Rolling her eyes, Jubilee turned around.

“Okay, that’s probably asking too much, but I…”

The young mutant froze. As soon as she turned around, she realized why Lara hadn’t said anything. Somehow she had been so distracted that she didn’t realize an imposing figure in a white body suit sneak up on her, put her into a choke hold, and press his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t speak. It happened so quickly and silently that it could only have been pulled off by the same man who abducted those mutants.

“Whoa!” she gasped, “I don’t recall you being a resident of District X.”

“Pardon me for interrupting your conversation, Madam. But the mission of Weapon Plus takes precedent over your trivial life,” said a stern yet calm Fantomex.

“I’ll show you trivial!” spat Jubilee.

The young mutant fired off a blinding burst of energy blasts. It lit up a good portion of the street. However, it did no damage to Fantomex. With Lara King still firmly in his arms, he maneuvered out of the path of the attack so he was now behind the bewildered Jubilee. He moved so fast it almost seemed instantaneous. Even Lara was impressed.

“Your retaliation is as pathetic as your friend’s illusions,” said Fantomex, who easily maintained his grip on Lara despite her struggles, “With my enhanced senses, they were no more difficult to uncover than a typo on a child’s essay.”

“You sound pretty full of yourself. You’re definitely the kind of asshole who would abduct innocent mutants in the middle of the day,” spat Jubilee.

“There are no innocents. There are only targets. And you and your friend here happen to be one of them.”

There are so many characters throughout the history of X-men. As I've done with many of them, I intend to give Fantomex a unique story in this fanfiction series. His story will help build on the stories surrounding the many other characters I've been developing in X-men Supreme. I began this fanfiction series with the belief that the characters are the ones that drive the story and not the other way around. That's why I make such a big deal about requesting feedback from readers. I need to know if I'm doing these characters right. So please take the time to provide that feedback. Either post it in the issues or contact me directly. I'm always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Bolder New Hope: Star Wars #1

The following is my review of Star Wars #1, which was posted on

A long, long time ago, a little company called Marvel, then known as the company that didn't publish Batman or Superman comics, rode the first tidal wave of popularity that was Star Wars. For a time, Marvel had the honor of slapping their logo on the comics that set the bar for big movie blockbusters that inspired record ticket sales, huge lines of toys, and legions of cos-players at a time when people weren't used to seeing women in metal bikinis. It seemed so long ago, but Disney's appetite for content has brought Marvel and Star Wars into the same galaxy once more. The powers that be understand they can't just rely on Frozen and Pixar to make them their billions.

Since that time, big movie blockbusters that rake in a billion dollars has become so routine that the Joss Whedon's of the world can cash their checks ahead of time. While the ever-unstable landscape of pop culture has changed, the appeal of Star Wars has not. It took the classic themes of the monomyth that are as old as Gilgamesh's beard and gave it a cosmic twist. Now Marvel, the same company that turned a talking tree and a racoon with a machine gun into a billion-dollar bonanza, can continue exploring those themes.

The approach in Star Wars #1 doesn't radically differ from the concepts it began several decades ago. It just takes what the original movies did so well and runs with it. The path may be familiar to every generation of Star Wars fans, going back to the era of discos and drive-ins, but it's that same familiarity that makes the story feel so strong. It doesn't just appeal to those who fondly remember the days before anyone knew the name Jar Jar Binks. It continues that same classic story in a way that feels genuine, as if guided by the Force itself.

The setting and circumstances are simplified in many respects. There are no Trade Federations, senate hearings, or diplomatic convoys. It's not really necessary to know the logistics of the situation. The only relevant information anyone needs to know is that this story takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The Death Star has been destroyed, courtesy of Luke Skywalker. Now he and his friends are leading the charge to kick the Emperor when he's down. This kind of simplicity means there's less time spent on the who, what, and why and more time spent fighting meaningful battles.

That's not to say the story has adopted the same narrative as a Michael Bay movie. There is plenty of shooting. And there are plenty of Storm Troopers who get caught in the crossfire or are used as human shields. But the same dramatic elements that spawned generations of intrigue in A New Hope re-emerge in this story. We already know how they end, but the added depth only helps give greater weight to that ending.

There are moments between Han Solo and Princess Leia that highlight the earliest signs of a relationship that's not going to blossom until one of them gets frozen in carbonite. There are other moments where Luke Skywalker reveals that he is still grieving the loss of Obi Wan Kanobi. These emotions are still very raw for these characters. And they have to deal with them while carrying out a mission that goes wrong in ways that only light sabres and blasters can solve.

However, even with the added drama, it never becomes overly chaotic. Even after Storm Troopers start falling and C3PO starts whining, the flow of the story remains focused and concise. Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewy never lose sight of the mission at hand, even when new complications arise. It's not until the arrival of Darth Vader that these complications escalate to a level where C3PO's whining is warranted. All the prequels that went to such great lengths to make Anakin Skywalker a more sympathetic character are essentially thrown away, along with any Gungans. He's back to being the big, menacing bad guy who treats negotiations the same way hungry wolves treat wounded deer.

It's the concise yet rapid pace of the story that gives it its strength. It's also the distinct voices of each character that give it depth. Han Solo says words fans would expect Han Solo to say. Luke Skywalker says words that fans would expect Luke Skywalker to say. And C3PO whines and laments like he always has. It's a story that really hits the ground running, but it never sprints so fast that it leaves anyone behind. It basically hits on everything in ways that no Storm Trooper ever could.

The only complication to the story as a whole is that it's dependent on knowing these characters ahead of time. Anyone who managed to not see A New Hope will be as confused as an eighth-grader walking in on a quantum physics lecture at Harvard and having to take an exam. But seeing as how this movie has been around since the Carter administration, there's really no excuse for not having at least some knowledge of Star Wars. That said, this story is probably not the best jumping on point for someone just getting into Star Wars. It won't inspire newcomers to dress up as a Storm Trooper at a comic con, but it will give established fans to ensure their helmets are polished.

While it has been decades since Marvel has published a Star Wars comic, Star Wars #1 doesn't miss a beat. It's the most seamless continuation of A New Hope anyone Star Wars fan could ask for without Harrison Ford and Mark Hamil acting it out in front of them. The Force is undeniably strong with Marvel at the moment, given its success with movies and comic book market share. And epic narrative of Star Wars that has become so iconic can only benefit from this success.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: All-New X-men #35

There comes a point in our lives where we have to walk through a bad neighborhood or two to get where we want to go. And I’m not just talking about the neighborhoods that have more graffiti artists and crack dealers than high school graduates. I’m talking about the kind of neighborhoods that look normal, but have something really fucked up about them. Maybe some of the neighbors nudists when they really shouldn’t be. Maybe some of them have way too many pit bulls roaming the front yards than they should. Or maybe one of them just has this strange smell from the basement that nobody besides the DEA would want to fuck with. But we can’t always avoid these places. They often teach us about ourselves in some profound ways.

The Ultimate Universe is the Marvel equivalent of a crack house, a meth lab, an abandoned sewage plant, and an IRS branch office all rolled into one. It embodies everything that the characters of the Marvel universe hope to avoid. The O5 X-men have been learning this the hard way by getting trapped in this ever-deepening shithole while trying to help a young mutant. They’ve made contact with their counterparts, Mole Man, and Dr. Doom. The sad part is that every encounter showed them that this was not a universe they wanted to be. All-New X-men #35 begins the process of getting the fuck out of Ultimate and never looking back. And if they make it out while avoiding getting pissed on by a drunk bum at three in the morning, they should consider themselves lucky.

Even if they do, they probably won’t feel very lucky because at some point in their trip, the have to battle Dr. fucking Doom. And if there is one constant between Marvel universes, no matter how shitty they may be, it’s that Dr. Doom is an omega level douche-bag. The only difference in Ultimate Marvel is that he looks fucking ridiculous with goat legs. But then again, goat legs are hardly the most fucked up thing about a universe that deals heavily in incest and cannibalism.

It’s going to be jarring and confusing for those who took one too many bong hits. How the fuck did the O5 X-men get to the point where they meet up, agree with their Ultimate counterparts that Doom is an asshole, and launch an assault on Castle Doom? Well don’t throw the bong or the weed away. That will get addressed. This is just a flash forward/movie trailer of what can be expected. It’s not exactly as awesome as the Age of Ultron trailer, but it doesn’t have the aid of James Spader’s creep voice so I’m willing to cut it some slack.

It’s not a very epic battle. It’s not exactly a pillow fight between a couple of kittens either. It’s got some snappy dialog that shows how the Ultimate X-men have been more negated than Homer Simpson’s health. They don’t say much, they get injured, and they really don’t shine in any way. That pretty much sums up everything wrong with Ultimate in a nutshell.

It’s up to the one character who hasn’t been more marginalized than democrats in Texas to actually do something meaningful in this fight. Miles Morales, the one character left in Ultimate that anybody gives half an ounce of shit about, decides to go after Dr. Doom himself rather than waste time with his Doombots. It’s ballsy for a kid who probably can count all the pubic hairs he has on one hand, but it’s pretty fucking dumb as well. Then again, dumb and awesome can sometimes be one in the same.

That ends the teaser trailer. Let’s get back to how the X-men ended up in the worst possible destination in any Marvel universe that doesn’t involve the Hulk’s toilet. After sharing a much-needed hug with her ultimate counterpart, O5 Jean Grey fired up the dormant Cerebro to locate the mutant that sent them to this ultimate mutant hell. And she succeeds. She does manage to find the mutant the same way she found her before. It sounds easy, but it’s not like I was expecting her to solve a crossword puzzle or something.

In addition, she even located the rest of her team. That makes sense. She can’t exactly go home without them unless she’s a total asshole. And she hasn’t spent quite enough time around Emma Frost yet so she’s going to find them and Ultimate Jean is going to help. They even have a nice moment together. They don’t hug, but they do get along. Considering how fucked up her Ultimate counterpart is, this alone is quite an accomplishment and a pretty fitting one as well.

It’s not quite as pleasant for X-23 and O5 Angel. Like O5 Jean, they’ve been getting a crash course in some of the many reasons why Ultimate sucks worse than Paris Hilton at a blowjob tournament. They just found out that unlike 616, mutants are just a failed experiment in Ultimate. It’s a hell of a downgrade, going from the next stage in evolution to something on par with the SEC. X-23 doesn’t take it very well. She decides to take her frustrations out on a tree. While some hippies might find this disturbing, it’s entirely appropriate. It’s akin to the reaction that every former Ultimate fan has had regarding Ultimate’s obscene decline. X-23 is just venting for us and for that, I thank her.

She ends up not having to vent for very long. O5 Jean and Ultimate Jean drop by to pick her, O5 Angel, and Hillbilly Wolverine up in the X-jet. It’s not exactly a tearful reunion, but I guess X-23 sees it as a way to help her find something else to stab. It also gives some of the Ultimate cast a chance to react to seeing another version of Angel. Unlike O5 Jean, their version was one of the many that died in Ultimate’s relentless effort to purge itself of anything that might make it appealing to anybody who isn’t being written by Brian Michael Bendis. There is a reaction and there is some emotion. It’s just not a very memorable one.

This was one of those moments that was bound to happen at some point, coming face-to-face with the massive body count that Ultimate has racked up over the years. There are so many emotions and stories to explore here. While I understand that there’s a limit to the scope and scale of a story like this, it just feels like this particular part didn’t try very hard. The meeting between O5 Jean and Ultimate Jean had much more impact. This just felt awkward, like telling a kid their dog just got run over by the garbage truck.

It’s not quite as awkward when the team catches up with O5 Iceman, who is still on the run from a bunch of cops who have apparently run out of minorities to harass. I guess fighting a giant mole monster is a crime in Ultimate. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t come with a weed possession charge by default. And these cops are especially reckless because they decide to shoot their guns at Iceman even when he’s got a bunch of civilians behind him. Let me say that again for emphasis. These cops shot at someone with no fewer than five innocent civilians behind them. I know cops have had it rough lately, but this shit isn’t helping.

Luckily for police offers and the PR departments that support them, Ultimate Storm shows up to get O5 Iceman out of this jam. He doesn’t need a bullshit arrest on his record. Any teenage boy who gets a criminal record without even enjoying the chance to get high is a real tragedy. And it gets O5 Iceman back with his friends, ensuring that the team is almost completely united again.

That leaves just one member left and it happens to be the one who ended up in the worst possible part of the world outside of Syria. O5 Beast, probably due to the massive debt of karma he’s accumulated in recent times, ended up in Castle Doom where Dr. Doom drugged him to make him the most obedient house guest that’s not a character on Two and a Half Men. And after embarrassing him about his desire to bone Jean Grey, Dr. Doom makes O5 Beast work out a way for him to travel the multiverse and rub elbows with his other selves. Not sure what he hopes to accomplish other than seeing how much shittier his world is compared to theirs, but I’m sure he’ll be pretty embarrassed by being the only Dr. Doom with goat legs.

Despite O5 Beast’s shitty luck, the rest of the team arrives at Castle Doom to rescue him. They even take some time to find out that Iceman is as annoying in Ultimate as he is in 616. I guess there are just some quirks that never change in any Marvel universe. It’s comforting, but still lacks impact beyond just being funny. There’s a much greater impact when O5 Jean and Ultimate Jean team up to help O5 Beast break Dr. Doom’s mind control. That meant having the mind of two Jean Greys in his head for a brief moment. I’m not sure if that counts as a three-way, but I’ll be shocked if he didn’t come out of that with a raging boner.

Once O5 Beast is freed, he lays into Dr. Doom like Ray Lewis in his prime. The rest of the X-men from both worlds arrive to start kicking his ass and the asses of his Doombots. This is where the events of the teaser trailer from earlier catch up with the rest of the story. All the gaps are filled in for the most part. We find out how the team reunites and even how they react to some degree. It’s logical and pragmatic, two concepts that have been lacking in Ultimate to the point of famine.

It’s still the same battle though. Even though all the details effectively converge, there isn’t much added to it. The X-men fight the Doombots, Miles goes after Dr. Doom, the Ultimate X-men do nothing of value, and that’s about it. I still say it’s an accomplishment, moving the story forward and keeping it nice and cohesive. It usually doesn’t take much for a story to go more off-track than a blindfolded drunk, but this story still got to this point without feeling like it took a short cut. There’s something to be said about that, especially after it hasn’t been said in Ultimate for nearly a decade.

Although the Rick Santorum’s of the world may not like it, this issue is full of progress. The story moves forward and becomes more cohesive at a pace that’s not too fast or too slow. It is somewhat disorganized with the flashback/flash-forward elements, but it doesn’t completely derail the story at any point. Nothing is skipped. Nothing is glossed over. The O5 X-men got separated when they arrived in Ultimate. Now they’ve pulled themselves together and they’ve done it without pissing off their Ultimate counterparts. Sure, it was awkward as hell at times, but that only made it more enjoyable. Few things are more enjoyable than seeing Iceman make an ass of himself or see Beast get mind-fucked. Since this issue had both, I enjoyed it in so many levels.

That’s not to say there wasn’t room for improvement. While nothing was glossed over, some details were rushed. The whole revelation about who was dead in Ultimate had some reaction, but not nearly as much as it could’ve. Sure, the massive body count in Ultimate would slow the story down in ways that would probably turn it into a Martin Scorsese movie, but the lack of impact here felt like a missed opportunity. And while the clash against Dr. Doom was decent, it wasn’t exactly epic. However, it still has the potential to be, goat-legs aside. That’s why I give All-New X-men #35 an 8 out of 10. Ultimate still sucks elephant balls and I’m sure the O5 X-men would rather spend a weekend in Michael Moore’s asshole than be stuck in this shithole, but it hasn’t stopped the story from being awesome. Since both worlds are set to merge after Secret Wars anyways, the O5 X-men and Ultimate X-men might as well get ahead of the game and squeeze in a little foreplay while they still can. Nuff said!

SECRET WARS Announcement: Don't Call It A Reboot

They called it the announcement to end all announcements. I guess this means Marvel will be delivering all it's messages via smoke signals or encrypted code. Surely, they wouldn't abuse the concept of hyperbole this much when they make big announcements every other week it seems. But then again, maybe I'm being too insincere in addition to being too high. There's a reason the Don Kings of the world were successful. They abused certain words in a way that appeals to the dipshit part of our brains that we can't turn off. In that sense, I can't get too mad here because if it works, it's not a dick move. It's just good marketing.

Whatever it's called, Marvel announced it today. Secret Wars is now on track to be Marvel's biggest event since the creation of Emma Frost's boobs. It promises to bring many different worlds together into one arena. It's like every Superbowl winning team and a few playoff caliber teams being plucked from time, placed in one stadium, and turned against one another in a battle to the death. And if 616 Marvel is the 1985 Chicago Bears, then Ultimate Marvel is the 2007 Detroit Lions. Yet for some reason, Marvel has announced that both these universes are about to be turned inside out, upside down, and whatever other position that only Russian gymnasts can achieve so they can be merged into one world.

Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe Set To Combine In Secret Wars

That's right. That's the announcement. Is it going to soak anybody's panties? No. Is it going to crush anybody's soul? Probably not, except for those who already sold it to get their own reality show. I know some might be expecting me to go on a rant how Marvel has raised the bar in terms of dick moves. I'm certainly drunk enough to go on such a rant. It's not like AXIS and Avengers vs. X-men didn't get me going. But this time, I really don't have anything to rant about. I really don't think this is a dick move. I think this is actually a good thing. Not only that, I think it's more overdue than the release of Half-Life 3.

Although THIS is a dick move in the highest degree.

I've said it more than once on this blog. Marvel's Ultimate universe has gone from being Marvel's crown jewel to being a malignant tumor at the base of its scrotum. It has become less relevant than Paulie Shore and David Hasselhoff combined. Between killing characters, fucking other characters up, and showing the kind of negligence that would make FEMA look competent, Ultimate is a steaming shit stain.

But there may still be a few gems in it that could be salvaged. That's why this merger is happening. In fact, it's a merge that should've happened back after Cataclysm. Instead, Ultimate opted to try another shitty re-launch that ended after 12 issues. It's the equivalent of a dead corpse evacuated its bowels because it really was that bad. But as recent crossovers in All-New X-men have shown, it is still possible to extract something of value from it. Nobody is turning shit into gold here. But when it comes to recycling garbage, Marvel is practically a hippie.

I'm not saying that it'll work, but I think it's better than rebooting and starting from scratch at this point. Marvel doesn't need to do that. They haven't reached the level of obscurity and stagnation that DC had when it decided to reboot. I'm willing to give them a few more years to prove they can avoid fucking it up. By combining Ultimate and 616, they can start fresh without having to throw out the shit so many of us cling to like a security blanket or the last bottle of whiskey. History doesn't have to be rewritten. It just has to be tweaked. Sure, Marvel is still using duct tape for some parts of that history. But as someone who made his first car last way longer than it should have thanks to duct tape, I'm perfectly fine with this. Nuff said!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #15

When it comes to the many villains of the X-men comics, Juggernaut is to X-men what Tequila is to alcohol. It can be good in brief shots, but it doesn't take much to get really fucking sick of him and never want to have anything to do with the guy again. He's not a very interesting character, even if he is powerful as fuck. He's got an attitude that would fit right in with the Oakland Raiders, albeit with much greater offensive output. I'm not saying that Juggernaut is a bad character. I'm just saying he hasn't been relevant since he banged She-Hulk.

But I think enough time has passed from that boner-killing incident to bring him back into the picture. Since Colossus hung up his dome-shaped helmet, Juggernaut hasn't been a factor in the X-men comics. But there's never a shortage of anyone seeking the power to be an unstoppable asshole. We just have to hope that Justin Bieber never gets his hands on that power. Amazing X-men #15 is set to bring Juggernaut back into the world of X-men. Now there's no Charles Xavier and no Cain Marko to hate him. That means the slate it clean to be another unstoppable asshole to take on the mantle.

It's a bit mantle full of fucked-up situations and grotesque bloodlust. And since some fans have probably suppressed memories of the inglorious way Colossus' stint at Juggernaut ended after Avengers vs. X-men, it helps to get a bit of a refresher course in his history. There's some nice flashbacks about Cyttorak, the mystical god-like being that grants his avatars with unstoppable power. It's nothing that can't be gleaned from Wikipedia, but it uses pretty pictures and badass depictions of the creature himself. So I say it's still worth showing, even if it can be easily skipped by most X-men fans. We know what fuels the Juggernaut. We know Cain Marko was once Juggernaut and Charles Xavier had to fight him. So why should we give a shit about a new Juggernaut?

Well one important detail to remember from this little flashback is that Cyttorak is one of those gods that loves being worshipped the same way Donald Trump loves hair gel. Like a good blowjob, he just can't get enough of it. Since Colossus gave up his helmet, there's nobody left to give Cyttorak his divine brand of fillatio. So being the determined, competent god-like begin, Cyttorak creates another gem and sends it somewhere it can be found. It would probably be most effective if it made it appear as an overpriced piece of jewelry in a sore that Paris Hilton shops at, but that might be too competent. So he has it appear in some Indiana Jones style ancient ruins for a bunch of cut-throat tomb robbers to find. Again, far be it from me to question the decisions of a deranged god, but I still think there are far more effective ways in finding someone seeking to be unstoppable assholes. Maybe next time Cyttorak should just try hosting a reality show. That would work just as well.

This activity doesn't go unnoticed either. Enter Cyttorak's last unstoppable prison bitch, Colossus. He's been basically gotten through his stint as Juggernaut unphased. Not only did everybody completely absolve him of any responsibility for what he did as Juggernaut or as one of the Phoenix Five, but he seems to have suffered no ill-effects. It even led to him boning Domino on a regular basis. Sure, he lost Kitty Pryde, but she's now boning another guy named Peter so I still think that counts as only a partial defeat. However, some of those ill-effects finally catches up with him at the worst possible time.

Shortly after a secret booty call from Domino, he has a vision of the new gem of Cyttorak. It's probably the worst possible mood killer that doesn't involve a surprise visit from grandparents or a Mormon intervention. Domino, who is not on good terms with the X-men at the moment, is as confused as she is naked. This doesn't stop Colossus from channeling his inner artist to do a quick painting of the new location of the gem of Cyttorak. And when a mystical gem takes priority over a naked Domino, it's a bad sign that a nasty shit storm is coming.

As it just so happens, magic is a hot topic around the Jean Grey Institute. With Piotr's sister rubbing elbows with Cyclops and being about as stable as spoiled rich teenage girl with a boob job and a crack addiction, the institute is in need of a new magic master. There aren't exactly applicants lining up around the block. Pixie is the only one with marginal skill. It's so marginal that they invite the fucking Scarlet Witch to visit and give her lessons. I guess a woman responsible for the near-extinction of a race and the inversion of the entire X-men is welcome, but a guy like Cyclops who tried to use the Phoenix Force to fix all the world's problems is not. That's 10 steps beyond a double standard, but I digress.

The Scarlet Witch isn't much of a teacher because Pixie's spell fails miserably and hilariously on Rockslide, who has quickly become the Toad of the X-men. But her involvement certainly bodes well for her ability to contribute in an issue like Juggernaut, where magic is the main source of all the property damage and broken bones. That said, if the X-men's options are only Pixie and the Scarlet Witch, they're already fucked in an unstoppable way.

Armed with the vision that ruined his afterglow with Domino, Colossus confronts Storm. It doesn't take much to convince her that this is a big fucking deal that needs to be dealt with in a big fucking way. However, she surprises Colossus when she tells him she's benching him for this fight. Because for the first time since Colossus just randomly showed up at the institute's front door, Storm reveals that she doesn't entirely trust him to handle a situation like this.

Now this sort of conversation is more overdue than Half-Life 3. When Colossus returned to the Jean Grey Institute, nobody batted a fucking eye. Finally, someone is reminding him that he was not only once the avatar for Cyttorak. He was once a fugitive who fought alongside Cyclops. Wolverine might have trusted him fully, but Storm can't afford to be that forgiving now that Wolverine is dead. She tells him he is being held to a different standard because so few on the team can say they were once Juggernaut who ended up becoming a wanted fugitive after waging war on the Avengers. It's way too fucking reasonable to be a dick move.

As late as it is, it still evokes some overdue emotions. This is the kind of conversation that they should've had back when Colossus first returned. He was part of the Phoenix Five. He was once Juggernaut. The X-men shouldn't just brush that sort of shit off. And Storm, while it does come off as cold, has a damn good reason for keeping him out of this. It's just a shame it took this fucking long to address. But I'm too high to whine about it anymore so I'll drop it.

Storm assembles a fairly robust team to take on this new Juggernaut or at least stop someone from becoming a new avatar. It's basically the same team that took on the Wendigo, including Iceman, Northstar, Rockslide, Nightcrawler, Storm, Firestar, and Rachel Grey. It's not exactly the most powerful team ever assembled, but they have a telepath that can get the job done. They don't seem all that worried either. There's almost a casual approach taking on the unstoppable Juggernaut. As far as they're concerned, it's as simple as knocking off the helmet and letting the pretty redhead do the rest. That might work for a True Blood rerun, but chances are something is going to fuck this plan up badly.

Colossus probably believes this more than anyone. He's certainly not happy about being benched, but he obeys Storm's decree initially. He decides to sit outside of Wolverine's office, which has since become a shrine of sorts where students leave flowers and beer cans. He's clearly thinking about giving the finger to Storm's order and throwing himself into the line of fire against the Juggernaut. He even gets some encouragement from a young student named Trance. She reminds him that Wolverine was probably benched from an important mission at least once a week by Cyclops. He honored that decree the same way baseball players honor the MLB's anti-steroid policy. It's a powerful and very negative message that's sure to piss off the moral crusaders. That's probably a good sign that it's the right thing to do.

Storm's team arrives at the exact location that Colossus envisioned. It's here where the story starts to slow down and drag somewhat. There's no big clash. There's no major fight that breaks out. They just hang around the exterior of the structure and then enter just in time to see a hideous Cyttorak-style monster that looks like an oversized booger. This should be horrifying, but the team reacts the same way most people react to news of another sex scandal involving a Congressman. It really has very little weight to it all.

This is kind of the main shortcoming of this story. It's dragging at this point and it's not doing anything that'll make anyone's balls sore in the morning. The X-men try to track down Cyttorak and a new Juggernaut, but they just end up facing some generic monster that could've easily been a rejected Godzilla enemy. It doesn't fall completely flat, but nobody's panties are going to be soaked by this battle just yet. That doesn't mean a dry pair shouldn't be kept handy.

Even if this monster is about as scary as a mutated My Little Pony villain, it's still a battle that Colossus wants to be part of. It's at this point he decides to channel the rebellious spirit of Wolverine and do something about it. And like Wolverine, he needs a cute teenage girl to help him. That sounds a lot creepier than it actually is, but it helps tie the story into Pixie's ongoing pursuit of being the X-men's new magic expert. She doesn't look quite as intimidating as Piotr's sister, nor does she look as good in black leather pants, but she's now Colossus' best bet to show that he can be trusted again. And it's hard not to root for a guy who's boning Domino.

There are some comics where after I read them, I can already predict how assholes on message boards will complain. Internet trolls are nothing if not predictable. This comic does a lot of things right, but I just know there will be a certain segment of fans that bitch and moan at how the story moved too slow. That's not entirely untrue. It did unfold slowly. It had to because it set up a number of situations and focused on a number of ongoing dramas rather than just get to the part where Juggernaut starts smashing shit. That's not a bad thing. Hell, that's probably the best way to approach a story like this, but that's going to be lost on some people. These are the same people that will whine about Han or Greedo shooting first until the end of time. Their complaining is irrelevant.

What is relevant here is how this issue too its time. It got choppy in some areas and rushed in others, but it did something very important. It set up certain characters to ensure that people gave a shit about what happened to them. That's what separates a story that's forgotten after one or two bong hits and a story that will soak the panties of those awaiting the next issue. This story has a lot of things going for it. But unlike the Juggernaut, it's not unstoppable. It hasn't built up a lot of momentum yet, but it has so much going for it that I'm going to brace myself anyways. Amazing X-men #15 gets a 7 out of 10. I don't know who will end up being the new Juggernaut or why he or she will want to crush the X-men. I just know if their ordeal ends with them hooking up with Domino, it'll count as a success. Nuff said!

Friday, January 16, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue #112: Death Grip is LIVE and Big Pics Update!

Winter has arrived and it's as cold outside as it is in the world of X-men Supreme at the moment. In 2014, Wolverine had to face his own mortality in one of Marvel's biggest X-men events in years. He lost that battle. In 2015, Wolverine must face that mortality again in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It's a battle he can't afford to lose this time. Weapon X has returned. A powerful new weapon has been unleashed in the form of Fantomex. This character has had a complicated history with Marvel since his creation a decade ago. His role will be much less complicated in X-men Supreme. He was able to mortally wound Wolverine and X-23. How can the rest of the X-men possibly hold up?

This marks the first major development in X-men Supreme in 2015. While Wolverine and X-23 will play a prominent role, it won't just be about them. One of the key features of this fanfiction series that I've sought to incorporate since its inception is a sense of cohesion. The events in X-men Supreme can stand on their own from arc to arc, but there are connections within these stories. What's going on with Fantomex and Wolverine isn't just about Weapon X. It has ties to a few other events in recent arcs, some of which unfolded behind the scenes of the Civilization No Longer Lost arc. These connections are vital to the course of the story. And they will also forge new connections to future stories.

Wolverine has often had to face a lot of his battles alone. Throughout the history of X-men, he has been the ultimate loner. But every now and then, he's reminded that he can't always win a battle by himself. This has happened to him already on numerous occassions throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. He dealt with it during the Lotus and the Warrior arc and the Good, the Bad, and the Sinister arc. But this story in particular will give Wolverine more than a lesson in teamwork. It'll change his approach to confronting his many problems that have plagued him throughout X-men Supreme. It's an approach that I hope Wolverine fans appreciate, especially at a time when he's dead in the comics. I hope Wolverine fans will consider this a late Christmas present and one I hope they'll charish in the annuls of X-men Supreme.

X-men Supreme Issue 112: Death Grip

Also, now that the holidays are over, I have more time to work on other portions of the site. I know it has been a while since I updated the pics section, but I'm always on the lookout for new pics to add, even during the holidays. I've finally compiled enough to warrant an update. So for those trying to keep warm in the dead of winter, some sexy pictures of the X-women should help keep you warm. Enjoy!

Globlin Queen Pics

Psylocke Pics

Storm Pics

Scarlet Witch Pics

Jean Grey Pics

Emma Frost Pics

There are so many characters throughout X-men. As such, there are many opportunities to take these characters in bold new directions through the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Wolverine's history as a character has made him a strong presence in X-men Supreme. And since we all know he's not going to stay dead in the comics, I hope that makes X-men Supreme something that can tide Wolverine fans over in the meantime. But there will be other characters who will go in new directions as X-men Supreme continues to unfold. I've already done it with characters like Toad. Expect more, especially as this fanfiction series enters a tumultuous time. And in order to keep these new developments as awesome as possible, it's important that I continue to get feedback from readers. Please take the time to post your comments directly in the issue or if you want, just contact me directly and I'll be happy to chat. I don't care which you use so long as you review. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!