Wednesday, December 30, 2015

All-New Wolverine #3: Nuff Said!

I know I sometimes make light of the difficulties hormonal, irresponsible teenagers face. No, I'm not going to apologize for it. I just want to say I know I like belaboring that point and it's worth belaboring. Teenagers, both male and female, are gangbanged by a potent combination of inexperience, hormones, and melodrama that might as well be a real-life mutation on par with anything the X-men have dealt with. And like some real teenagers, X-23 has had to mature way faster than any teenager is prepared to do in taking on the mantle of Wolverine.

For the most part, she's done a damn good job, fighting evil clones and remnants of Weapon X. And she does this without crying over how few people follow her on Twitter. She still has a long ways to go, but she's made progress. All-New Wolverine #3 continues that progress and it's up to my drunken ass to determine whether being a teenager has caught up to her yet. You're welcome.

So X-23 gets to face her first major villain as Wolverine and that first villain is Taskmaster. He's no Thanos, but he's no Howard the Duck either. The man just shot three of X-23's sisters/clones and he might as well have done it while waving his dick in her face and telling her to make a wish. Naturally, X-23 is quite pissed and decides to address Taskmaster as Wolverine would.

Yes, that means kicking his ass. Taskmaster doesn't make that easy for her. This is a guy who goes toe-to-toe with the Avengers on a regular basis and isn't afraid to wave his dick in their faces either. He's fought Wolverine before, but never as a pissed off teenage girl. So while he does present a challenge, it still feels lopsided.

Eventually, X-23 proves that she's a different kind of Wolverine. She surprises Taskmaster in a way he can't anticipate, which results in him getting a foot claw through the hand and blow to the head that would warrant another shitty Will Smith movie. But what makes this moment powerful isn't that it's over so quickly. It's that X-23 had a chance to kill his ass, but didn't. She didn't because that's what Logan would do and she's trying to live up to his legacy and not just use being a pissed off teenage girl as an excuse. It shows once again that X-23 has maturity to go along with her badassery. It's as rare and as potent a combination as it sounds.

X-23's day gets just a little bit better from there. It turns out that her sisters/clones didn't die. They had this insanely advanced life-saving system called body armor. Yeah, apparently an insane healing factor isn't necessary. Technology from the disco era works just as well. Is it bland? Yes. But is it practical and simple? Fuck yes and how often can you say that about a superhero comic?

There's still some tension among X-23 and her sisters/clones. They want to kill everybody in the room and piss on the corpses. X-23 has to convince them that this is not necessary and kind of a dick move. This doesn't stop one of them from shooting Taskmaster in the kneecaps, but let's face it. The fact this guy leaves this situation with an intact scrotum is a late Christmas miracle.

Having dealt justice to Taskmaster's kneecaps, X-23 and her sister/clones leave. But they don't just catch a bus. Fuck no, that would make too much sense. Instead, they hop an armored car and drive off down the streets of New York. Don't lie. If you had that option, you'd take that too, if only to scare the shit out of pedestrians.

There's just one problem. Being in a big fucking armored car often attracts other big fucking armored cars filled with the kind of people who like to use big fucking armored cars. Enter a car chase down the streets of New York in a couple of armored cars. It's every bit as awesome as it sounds. Pretty sure this is going to be a template for the next Fast and Furious movie.

At first it's just bullets. That's how all typical car chases starts. Then, one of X-23's clone/sisters breaks out a rocket launcher and helps thin the herd a bit. That, my friends, is how a typical car chase becomes an awesome car chase. Throw a rocket launcher into the mix and let the awesome follow. It almost takes the sting out of finding out that the creepy assholes looking to reclaim X-23's clone/sisters stuck a chip in them. Probably makes them wish they brought more than one rocket launcher.

And what happens when an rocket launcher isn't enough? No seriously, when is a rocket launcher not enough? I've always struggled to answer that question. X-23 doesn't need to answer it. With one armored car still using them as target practice, she decides she doesn't need no fucking rocket launcher. She has claws, a badass attitude, and a reckless disregard for New York City traffic. She may or may not symbolize my future wife, but she puts these skills to good use by jumping out of her armored car, landing in the other, and taking it out with her bare hands.

Can we just stop for a moment and appreciate how proud Logan would be if he saw this? If he and Lemmy Kilmister (who's recent death was a loss to whiskey lovers and metal heads everywhere) could step away from the bar for more than five minutes, he could watch this with pride. X-23 is really starting to carry herself as Wolverine. She's pissed off, reckless, and an omega level badass. This is who should be carrying on Logan's legacy and if anyone still argues otherwise, then may Lemmy haunt your dreams with pools of whiskey and exceedingly loud heavy metal.

Once the armored vehicle is wrecked and X-23 casually dusts herself off, she confronts the asshole who is trying to recapture her clone/sisters. She skips the part where she points out that a man trying to capture three teenage girls with an armored car is creepy as fuck. She just tells him to stay the fuck away or she'll do more than shoot his kneecaps. She even dares him to come after her. And if he's dumb enough to try, then I've no sympathy for his kneecaps or whatever other body part she decides to maim. Again, this is Wolverine-like attitude to the letter. I know she's still under-aged, but fuck if X-23 doesn't deserve a glass of whiskey.

So the creepy asshole who thinks it's okay to clone teenage girls and have them killed is busy contemplating how much he values his kneecaps. That still leaves X-23's sister/clones in a tough situation. The world does a shitty enough job helping war refugees. Is it really equipped to help a bunch of teenage girls who happen to be clones? On top of that they're kinda dying. And by kinda, I mean they're dying by design. In the same way every Apple device is supposed to become shitty over time, these three girls are supposed to die once they've outlived their usefulness.

It's a real shitty situation for them. X-23 understands this, having been a clone/killer herself. Some want to dedicate their lives to revenge, but I think the shitty returns of the last two Taken movies prove that this is not always a productive way to spend their time. X-23 is in a position to help them, just as Wolverine often is. And on top of being a badass, she has to convince them that mindless slaughter isn't as necessary as they think.

They decide to listen to her and accept her help. In this case, X-23's ability to help her clone/sisters requires that she get help from one of Logan's old allies. He's not the kind of ally that he would share his whiskey with, but he has been known to do things other than make Benadict Cumberbatch relevant. I'm talking, of course, about Dr. Strange. She believes he's in the best position to help her clone/sisters. Considering his last major story involved him helping Dr. Doom, I'd say his karma really needs some balancing. it awesome?

It has blood, car chases, and machine guns with armor piercing bullets. Do I really need to write a fucking thesis? Fuck yes, this issue is awesome. Tom Taylor is capturing all the critical elements that make Wolverine great and having X-23 contribute to that greatness. She's not just stabbing and growling like me at a desert buffet. There are actual dramatic undertones mixed in with badassery. That always brought out the best in Logan. It's bringing out the best in X-23. While the dramatic impact is kind of muted in All-New Wolverine #3, that's only because there was a kick-ass car chase with machine guns. In a world where everything you want requires an extra fee or a sore asshole, I'd say that's a pretty fair trade-off.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, December 25, 2015

Deadpool | Red Band Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Merry Christmas, everybody! For just one second, put down the eggnog and stop thinking about how you're going to return your shitty gifts and celebrate with something truly festive. By that, I mean Deadpool. I mean come on! He's wearing red. That's a Christmasy color, isn't it?

Because we're mindless consumers, we buy into all the shit that Hollywood sells us when it comes to superheroes. However, this is Deadpool. He's NOT a typical superhero and this shit ain't rated PG-13. I could explain more, but I'd rather let the wonderfully charismatic, former Mr. Scarlett Johannsen explain it. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Fancifully Festive Grit: Klaus #2

The following is my review of Klaus #2, which was posted on

It used to be that most holiday-themed comics revolved around Superman teaming up with Santa Claus to fight an army of evil elves created by Lex Luthor. It seems at times that every comic is trying in vain to capture the same spirit of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Time and again, comics have failed, further reinforcing that nobody not named or related to Charles Shutlz can ever capture that spirit.

Grant Morrison might not be related to Charles Shutlz, but he doesn't attempt to succeed where so many others had failed. Instead, he finds a way to succeed in an entirely new way with Klaus #2. This is not a made-for-TV holiday movie that only airs twice a year on the Disney Channel. This isn't even a Christmas themed episode of Superfriends. Klaus is a wholly re-imagined Christmas story that combines the grit of Batman with the fantasy of Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It's one of those combinations that you don't expect to be so potent, but like the first person who decided to put chocolate chips on a cookies, it makes for a pleasant holiday treat.

There's nothing biblically, historically, or culturally accurate about the world of Klaus. It doesn't try to incorporate one particular tradition over the other. Instead, it takes a handful of familiar Christmas themes and incorporates them into a narrative that feels fresh, engaging, and festive. Fans of both Charlie Brown and Game of Thrones will find plenty to like about this world that Grant Morrison crafts. And Klaus #2 cements this appeal by taking the act of giving toys to needy children and making it badass.

The kingdom of Grimsvig is basically a Christmas dystopia that even Ebeneezer Scrooge would find depressing. It's run by Lord Magnus, a less intimidating version of Voldermort who governs with philosophy that would be right at home in North Korea. He's decided in his Scrooge-like wisdom that there should be no festivities or merriment. The entire town of Grimsvig exists only for him to plunder like a kid in a chocolate factory. If this means making every citizen miserable on the holidays, so be it.

This kind of misery during the holidays doesn't sit well with Klaus, who is less a jovial fat guy and more a rugged frontiersman that Tom Hardy might play in a Western. But for him to make a difference, he can't be jovial or fat. He has to be daring and cunning. He basically has to be Batman. But instead of beating up criminals and making Ben Affleck look good, he uses his skills to deliver toys to children. It might not endear him to Lord Magnus, but it certainly won't put him in conflict with Superman anytime soon.

The one child that Klaus goes out of his way to avoid also happens to be Lord Magnus' son, Jonas. This child is about as lovable as Joffrey Baratheon. He establishes himself as one of those spoiled brats who would probably complain that the Lamborghini his father bought him was the wrong color. He's the reason why children aren't allowed toys in Grimsvig. If he can't be happy with toys, then no one can be happy, period.

It's this utter disregard for the holiday spirit that acts as a catalyst for the fantasy elements of this story. There is magic involved. It's not Harry Potter level wizardry, but it perfectly consistent with classic holiday themes. The toys Klaus delivers to the children of Grimsvig all have magical properties. It acts as a metaphor of sorts for how getting toys on Christmas morning has such a magical effect on children. It's right up there with the effect of a teenager getting a new smartphone.

The only person this magic doesn't effect is Lord Magnus' mini-Joffrey of a son. As soon as Lord Magnus gets news that children are playing with toys on the holidays, he goes omega-level Scrooge and confiscates them. But when Jonas gets his hands on these toys, the magic is gone. They give him about as much holiday joy as a lump of coal wrapped in a pair of old socks.

This narrative fits in nicely with many holiday themes. The poor and disadvantaged are given magical gifts while the rich and spoiled get nothing. The magic that we associate with the holidays is palpable and real through the children that embrace it. This keeps the story from getting too grim and gritty, but that doesn't stop Grant Morrison from injecting a few Die Hard elements into the mix.

Klaus might not be John McClane, but Lord Magnus is very much Hans Gruber. Since he hasn't one-upped Scrooge enough, he decides to do more than just hoard all the toys for his son. He sends his troops to capture whoever dares to spread joy and cheer during the holidays. Klaus might not have a machine gun, but he has a sort of playful cunning that would be right at home in a Home Alone movie.

The strength of the story isn't just in seeing Klaus give the good children of Grimsvig some holiday cheer. It's also the challenge he faces in accomplishing this task. Lord Magnus makes it clear that he's way worse than the Grinch. No amount of Ghosts of Christmas Past are going to make him any less festive. His idea of holiday fun is sending soldiers and wolves to attack Klaus. And he's armed only with a bag of toys. Yet somehow, it feels like a fair fight.

Add a little holiday music in the background with a little eggnog on the side and Klaus #2 hits all the right notes. It has all the right themes. It effectively mixes classic fairy tales with modern grit to create a fitting holiday treat, courtesy of Grant Morrison. What he's done with Christmas mythology here should put him on Santa's nice list for years to come.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Extraordinary X-men #4: Nuff Said!

I don't mind recurring themes in the same way I don't mind an occasional punch in the jaw. As long as I had a chance to get fucked up and enjoy myself before it happened, I'll gladly endure it. But no matter how fucked up you get, too many punches will start to do some damage. Right now, I'd say the X-men are running low on teeth and quality liquor. They've been rendered endangered and sterilized...again. And despite a metric fuck-ton of plot-holes caused by the 8-month time skip, we're supposed to be able to ignore that figurative soreness in our jaws as Extraordinary X-men unfolds. I'm not going to say that Extraordinary X-men #4 is the last chance to salvage some teeth. I'll just put an extra bag of ice on it, do an extra line of blow, and hope I don't bite my tongue off as I review this comic.

I imagine Colossus wishes he had some blow right now or at least a premium bottle of vodka. He's having a nightmare and not the kind when spiders crawl out of your junk and start biting your eyeballs either. It's not the most elaborate dream sequence, nor should we expect it to be without the aid of some damn good shrooms. But it does highlight his ongoing efforts to reconnect with his sister. Magik is crying out for his help (again, in his dreams). And it feels genuine. At no point does it imply that it could become incest porn. In this day and age, that counts for a lot.

Colossus wakes up from his nightmare, but immediately wishes he hadn't because he's in Sinister's lab. For most people, that's like a nightmare involving spiders, zombies, final exams, and high school gym class all rolled into one. It's that fucking terrifying. Colossus is trapped and so is Nightcrawler, who still keeps trying and failing to be as cool as Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction while reciting bible verses. Now, they're in line to be Sinister's lab rats, which is only slightly less horrifying than being the Hulk's proctologist.

But why does Sinister need lab rats? Does he EVER need reasons? Well this time, yeah. He does. He's actually trying to cure the plague caused by the Terrigen Mist. It's probably the most decent thing he's done since cloning a hot redheaded woman. Sure, his experiments involve killing an innocent mutant by subjecting him to a concentrated dose of the mist. Is it a dick move? Yeah, most definitely. But is it really any worse than people who get stuck testing laxatives for pharmaceutical companies? I'd say it's close.

While Sinister is giving something that the animal rights crowd can jerk off to, the rest of the X-men are still busy fighting that demon army invading the institute. Again, Hamberto Ramos' art really shines here, nicely depicting some visceral and satisfying action. But again, it's hard to really feel any sympathy for the X-men. I get that the Terrigen Mists suck, but who the fuck thought it was a good idea to build a school in fucking Limbo? You're not just asking to get attacked by demons. You're smearing chocolate on your nuts and dancing to Justin Bieber music. What the fuck did you expect?

But I digress. This visceral battle is finally decided thanks to the efforts of O5 Jean Grey. Yes, a whiny teenage girl was able to overcome an army of demons. There's just something inherently fitting about that. In addition, O5 Jean once again shows she's got the firepower that makes her deserving of being on the front lines with X-men. Her powers have been evolving to ball-busting levels since All-New X-men began and it's moments like this that progress all the more impressive.

She's way more competent than most teenage girls ever try to be and she does it without bitching about her lack of likes on Facebook. That's way more impressive than anything Old Man Logan does, who just admits he enjoys stabbing demons no matter how old he is. Not judging. Just saying one is more impressive than the other. 

The battle ends and everybody takes a moment to stop shitting themselves. Then, they remember that if they want to keep living in a school in fucking Limbo, then they have to save Magik. Colossus, and Nightcrawler. She still has Limbo by the balls last they checked. They need her to occassionally squeeze them to keep the demons off their back.

So after listening to Old Man Logan's bitching for a while, they teleport back to Manhattan where Nightcrawler disappeared. Then, Old Man Logan finally stops bitching and starts tracking a scene. Iceman finds the time to make a wildly inappropriate comment about him and O5 Jean Grey, but let's face it. We were all thinking the same wildly inappropriate thing. But I'm a drunk. What's your excuse?

In as forced a transition as a Russian election, the X-men make it to Sinister's lab because I guess Manhattan real estate agents in the Marvel universe are allowed to drink on the job. He's still taunting Colossus with how he's going cut up their corpses and resist the urge to jerk off as best he can. Before anyone's pants can come off, the X-men show up and Old Man Logan does what he does best, stabbing Sinister right in the chest. It would've been more satisfying if he aimed for his balls, but I remind myself that this is Old Man Logan. His aim, among other things, probably ain't what it used to be.

Another visceral battle ensues, this time between the X-men and the Marauders. It's not quite as flashy or as fucked up as a battle against demons, but Hamberto Ramos still makes it work. It's chaotic, but in a good way like an orgy in a pool of chocolate is chaotic. We don't get to know much about these Marauders to be all that satisfied when the X-men kick their ass. But they're working for Sinister. That puts them just a few levels below that of a typical demon so they're way past the point of sympathy. This is more the point of pouring another glass of whiskey and just enjoying basic X-men ass-kicking, hoping you get drunk enough to ignore the plot holes.

The X-men eventually win and they finally rescue Magik and their home in Limbo by default. It makes for another nice moment between Colossus and his sister, one that's still absent of any incest. We saw how that shit played out in Ultimate so I'm glad to see Lemire avoiding it here. The X-men have a shitty enough image with being sterilized and diseased. They don't need the incest shit as well. Leave that kind of shit to the Inhumans.

This leaves only Sinister, who is still a raging dick-cheese for getting a boner over the possibility of dissecting Colossus. But again, he at least tries to justify his experiments, saying he wants to make mutants stronger to resist the plague. He's still being a dick about it, but we still shop at Wal-Mart despite them being dicks to their employees so who are we to judge?

Then, Sinister decides to add some extra lube to his dickish nature. He reveals that he's been doing these fucked up experiments for a while and to date, only one has managed to not die a horrible death. And low and behold, that test subject is Cyclops. Yes, my fingers didn't slip and I didn't snort paint thinner again. Sinister says Cyclops is alive and one of his test subjects.

Now, take this with a grain of salt and half a bong hit because this is Sinister, remember? This is the same guy who uses clones the same way Dr. Doom uses Doombots. Like botched DEA raids, it's best to assume excessive paranoia. But let's face it. If anyone was going to survive the Terrigen Mists and being more despised than Joel Shumacher, it was Cyclops. This guy survived being married to Jean Grey and being Emma Frost's fuck buddy. He can survive a fancy fucking cloud. it awesome?

Well, I'm glad I did that extra line of blow. It didn't affect the quality of the comic. I'm just glad I did it. This issue didn't answer any of the gaping plot holes, but it did finally stabilize the shit storm that has been unfolding in the past few issues. So it's definitely awesome to that extent. Again, Hamberto Ramos' art really shines. And Jeff Lemire finds ways to inject some personality into the characters. Beyond that, it's only an incremental improvement over the previous issue.

At the very least, it offers the tantalizing possibility that the truth will finally be revealed in the next issue. Anyone experienced with transvestite hookers know how dangerous tantalizing possibilities can be. That's still, of course, assuming that the Cyclops we see on the final page isn't a clone. If he is, I think Peter Parker will kick himself in the nuts out of frustration. But until this series fills those plot holes with something other than demon battles, then this series will continue to be hindered. And I'm not sure I have enough blow to keep up.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ultimate (Overdue) Collapse: Ultimate End #5

The following is my review of Ultimate End #5, which was posted on

When Lindsey Lohan gets pulled over for another DUI, few are surprised. When DMX gets slapped with another paternity suit, few are shocked. These are events that people have become numb to because it's seen as all too common. Whatever innocence or reputation there once was is now as distant a memory as Vanilla Ice's music career. Sometimes it's just a product of new competition and an inability to keep up. Other times, it's a product of tragedy that can act as a cautionary tale for future generations.

When Kurt Cobain said, "It's better to burn out than fade away," he might as well have hand-written a warning note to Ultimate Marvel. At a time when flip-phones dominated the cell phone market, Ultimate Marvel was the hottest brand in comics. It became the gold standard for an entire industry. The quality of any superhero comic had to be measured against books like the Ultimates, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate X-men.

These books set the bar. They established what a great superhero comic ought to be. Then, like MC Hammer's bank account, it suffered a devastating decline from which it did not recover. If Ultimate Marvel were a drug addict, it would've overdosed years ago.

Now, after three failed relaunches and a complete destruction of everything that made Ultimate Marvel relevant, this world that once set the gold standard for Marvel is set to end. Fittingly enough, it's two most recognizable names, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, act as the undertakers in its final issue. Ultimate End #5 is the last comic to carry the once-prominent Ultimate brand. But beyond being far more bitter than bittersweet, it fails once again to live up to that gold standard. In fact, it barely succeeds in living up to a copper standard.

Even as a tie-in for Secret Wars, Ultimate End as a whole only succeeds as a catalyst for putting Miles Morales in the mainline Marvel Universe, absent most of Ultimate Marvel's obscene amounts of baggage. And this success really only comes in Ultimate End #5. The previous four issues contributed next to nothing in this effort. All they did was put a bunch of 616 and Ultimate characters in the same domain, watch them bicker for reasons that are never fully explained, and pretend there's a plot.

It's the same tactic Michael Bay uses in movies that involve Megan Fox. The only difference is that Michael Bay movies make boatload of money and are actually entertaining at times. There's really not much entertainment value in Ultimate End. Other than Hawkeye getting deep-fried by Thor and Tony Stark literally arguing with himself, the story barely has the impact of a Simpsons rerun.

To this point, the 616 and Ultimate sides have just been bickering and arguing. It never feels sincere or dramatic. Every ounce of conflict in this story feels forced, as though there just had to be one last clash between 616 and Ultimate before Ultimate joined that big quarter bin in the sky. In addition to being forced, it's also rushed. If there is any chance at drama, it's glossed over in order to keep the conflict going. This story tries so hard to be a spectacle. It wants to be a fireworks show, but it's only armed with half a box of matches.

On top of the conflict being forced, the entire setup of Ultimate End was confusing and vague. There was no rhyme or reason as to how this particular group of 616 and Ultimate characters ended up in this segment of Battleworld. That made the conflict of the first four issues even more hollow. Ultimate End #5 finally offers an explanation of sorts, but it comes far too late to give the story any weight.

At the very least, the explanation offered in this story creates a solid connection with the overall narrative of Secret Wars. Miles Morales was one of the few survivors of the final incursion so he provided the catalyst for revealing the truth about this final Ultimate/616 conflict. That truth is still somewhat contrived. It basically amounts to a god-powered Dr. Doom taking a select group of 616 and Ultimate characters and throwing them into some random section of Battleworld the same way a kid throws a bunch of action figures in a microwave. It has only slightly more appeal than it sounds.

There is still a concerted effort on the part of Brian Michael Bendis to inject some dramatic weight into this moment. When both the Ultimate and 616 characters realize they're just melted bits of plastic in Dr. Doom's toy chest, it does end the meaningless conflict that has been unfolding for the past four issues. It just isn't in time for anyone to do much with it. If anything, it makes the first four issues of Ultimate End feel like one, prolonged missed opportunity.

Missed or not, the revelation triggers a montage of sorts that attempts to put the finality of the story into context. At the very least, it tries to focus on the happier times, absent the Ray Connors, the nerd Hulks, and the incest with the Maximoff twins. It does make for a solemn moment where we, the readers, are left to remember how rich and promising Ultimate once was. In doing so, however, it also reminds us just how drastically it declined as a whole. It's not just bittersweet. It's downright tragic.

Brian Michael Bendis can now say without reservation that he's the only Ultimate writer who resisted the urge to throw Ultimate Marvel into a blender. His work on Ultimate Spider-Man was the only sliver of the Ultimate universe that remained true to the overall themes of Ultimate Marvel. His efforts to remain true to those themes in Ultimate End are respectable. But like trying to make mullets a fashionable hair style again, his efforts can only go so far.

The ultimate tragedy of Ultimate End #5 is that it set goals that it had no chance of achieving. Like Homer Simpson attempting brain surgery, it was destined to get messy. It tried to encompass everything that once made Ultimate Marvel so appealing. It could only ever remind readers that this appeal ended years ago. Marvel just finally got around to making it official.

Final Score: 3 out of 10

Friday, December 18, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue 128: Pain Tolerance is LIVE!

The holidays are upon us. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to complete another year of awesome. It started on New Years Day on January 1, 2010. It's about to complete its fifth year. It's amazing to think that this fanfiction series has come so far. It's amazing to contemplate just how much farther it can go, especially as the X-men face so many unique challenges in the comics. But as the rest of us celebrate this festive time, the world of X-men Supreme continues and it's anything but festive.

The X-men suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Mutant Liberation Front. In X-men Supreme Issue 127: Terror Sell, Toad of all mutants humbled the X-men while carrying out an attack in Switzerland that left the entire world more vulnerable. Any defeat leaves its share of scars. It's easy to forget that the X-men also lost their first battle against Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants in X-men Supreme Issue 3: Competition. It forced the X-men to grow and adapt to new challenges. However, the challenges this time are much more personal and many times more daunting.

At least when they suffered defeat at the hands of the Brotherhood of Mutants, Charles Xavier and the rest of the team was in relatively good health. The same can't be said anymore. It's an issue that emerged at the end of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. Having already beat cancer a second time in the Starcrossed arc, Charles Xavier is now dealing with a new ailment. His reckless disregard for himself and his health finally caught up with him and he finds himself addicted to potent pain medicine. It's an issue that affects real people. And in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, even the world's most powerful mind isn't immune to it.

It's an issue that I feel has been lacking in the X-men comics lately, the X-men dealing with real issues that real people face. Charles Xavier may be a powerful mind, but in both the comics and this fanfiction series, he's painfully human. And being human, he's capable of becoming addicted to pain pills. It's an addiction that, in the real world, kills more people than hard drugs. And it's an addiction that promises to affect him and his X-men at the worst possible time.

So what do the X-men do when their mentor is no longer capable of being their mentor? How do the X-men function during a time of crisis when the Mutant Liberation Front is running rampant and both President Kelly and General Grimshaw are losing faith in the X-men? That's what this next issue will explore. It's an issue where a defeated team of X-men must adapt while new threats continue to evolve. It's not a threat that involves sterilization or time travel either so rest assured, you won't get this anywhere else.

X-men Supreme Issue 128: Pain Tolerance

I know I've been mentioning the X-men comics a lot lately. As an avid comic book fan and X-men fan, I feel compelled to address this situation and relate it to the continued evolution of X-men Supreme. As it stands, there is no other medium for X-men fans to follow. There's no Ultimate X-men. There's no X-men cartoon. As it stands, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is the only game in town for X-men fans who are dissatisfied with the current state of the comics. That means my efforts to make it awesome are all the more important.

As such, it's vital that X-men fans of all stripes continue to provide feedback for this and any other issue of X-men Supreme. Feedback ensures I can keep making this fanfiction series better and better. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I'm always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

All-New X-men #2: Nuff Said!

I find the concept of “lovable losers” to be bullshit concept. I’m convinced it was invented by Cleveland Browns fans as a marketing gimmick to justify their existence after 1994. There’s no such thing as a lovable loser. There’s only someone who loses and loses badly. Sometimes it’s not their fault. In fact, most of the time it’s not their fault.

We still don’t know jack shit about how much fault Cyclops has to bear for becoming the most hated person at Marvel not named Chuck Austin. We just know that his time-displaced self is trying to give the finger to his loserly legacy. He’s lost his friends, his reputation, and the affection of the girl he loves. In terms of shitty places in the Marvel universe, he’s right up there with whoever gives the Hulk a prostate exam. All-New X-men #2 is supposed to continue his journey deeper into this most shitty of places. So don’t expect me to stay sober as I review it.

I’ll bet O5 Cyclops wishes he were drunk though. He’s trying to kick the asses of the Ghosts of Cyclops, if only to avoid smearing more shit on his shit-stained grave. Since he’s not his competent, adult self he fails. Then, his friends show up before his older self’s grave becomes nothing more than a tainted underwear hamper. They offer to help. He doesn’t appreciate it. He’s a teenage boy still. Help is not appreciated unless it comes with tits and chocolate.

O5 Cyclops ignores his friends and tries to tell them to piss off. That way he can focus on beating the shit out of the leader of the Ghosts of Cyclops. It’s not that much of a spectacle. It’s not going to be mistaken for Wolverine fighting Sabretooth anytime soon. But Mark Bagley’s art makes it feel at least somewhat visceral.

It also creates the distinct impression that O5 Cyclops is not in a healthy state of mind. That would be interesting if we still didn’t have any fucking clue as to what happened to his older self. We’re just left to make too many assumptions and for an un-sober mind, that’s dangerous. There’s a lot of shit that can make a teenage boy lash out irrationally and take his frustrations out on someone. For all we know, the Ghosts of Cyclops posted dick pics on his Facebook account and that would warrant the same reaction. That’s what happens when you let too much shit unfold off-panel.

Whatever the reason, assuming dick pics aren’t involved, this fight doesn’t last long. It doesn’t get to become all that epic either. The cops show up and end this shit before it anything gets marginally interesting. It’s not that they shoot anyone either. O5 Cyclops willingly surrenders, figuring that the shit stains on his older self’s grave don’t need any more smearing. He still manages to tell his friends to piss off.

And the cops in Austin are remarkably understanding of the damage they caused. O5 Beast actually tries to stand up for his (former) friend, which is probably the most decent thing he’s done in a decade. The cops still take him to jail, but the fact they don’t shoot him is still a positive in my book. This gives me hope that if I ever visit often, I can get drunk in public and not get shot.

While the rest of the O5 X-men are left wondering how much more they can do without getting shot, O5 Cyclops ends up in a jail cell next to the asshole he was fighting. It actually makes for an intense, dramatic conversation. And by dramatic, I mean O5 Cyclops pitching a teenage-level hissy fit over this guy’s obsession with his older self.

He tries to kindly point out as politely as any fucked up teenager can that he’s not some cool, James Dean style rebel. He’s an asshole following the example of another asshole. You could probably say that about most emo-goth kids or hipster douche-bags, but O5 Cyclops makes it clear that this is different while admitting outright that he’s a time-displaced version of his asshole older self. It’s probably the one time where teenage melodrama just isn’t sufficient to capture how fucked up this situation is.

So while O5 Cyclops is rotting in jail with some asshole he’s tried to beat up, what do O5 Beast and O5 Iceman do? They go out for pizza. I shit you not. That’s what they do. I guess their friend getting arrested is just that easy to shrug off. But to be fair, pizza is a lot like air for teenagers. It’s just one of those things that always has priority. And there is an effort at meaningful conversation between the two. It just doesn’t go anywhere because O5 Beast’s pet bamf escapes and starts making a mess. I admit, that’s way more entertaining than any meaningful conversation.

Leave it to O5 Angel and X-23 to actually do something productive. They managed to track down the rest of the Ghosts of Cyclops. They even find out that they intend to bust out their body from jail. At that point, X-23 does what anyone would expect Wolverine to do. She gives a bit middle finger to any kind of strategy and runs head-first into a fight. The only difference between her and Logan is that she looks a lot sexier. And I say that with the utmost respect for Hugh Jackman.

Again, we get a somewhat brief battle that tries to be epic. Mark Bagley’s art certainly helps and Dennis Hopeless does plenty to capture X-23’s attitude. But it’s another battle that gets cut off way too fucking soon. Some cars get thrown. Some shit gets destroyed. Then O5 Angel just flies them out of there because…honestly, I don’t know and I don’t have the patience to sober up and find out.

It actually leads to an interesting moment where X-23 berates O5 Angel for trying to protect her. She’s not some fucking Disney princess that needs rescuing. She’s fucking Wolverine now. If he can’t accept that, then he can’t expect to see her naked in the future. Given how shallow and forced this relationship has been, it’s refreshing to show just how under-developed it is for once.

The rest of the team catches up with O5 Beast and O5 Iceman. They show up just in time to see bamf putting on a show for the college kids in town, chugging pizza and drinking beer like a motherfucking boss. Not gonna lie. This scene made me really wish I had a bamf for a pet. It was funny, bringing a small yet undeniable tear of joy to the face of any self-respecting drunk. Given how depressing the X-books have offered lately, this bit of humor was a nice touch.

It sure as shit doesn’t last. Back in the jail cell with O5 Cyclops and we get more over-the-top, self-deprecating melodrama. And at no point within this belaboring and bemoaning do we get any hint whatsoever as to what the fuck adult Cyclops did that was so bad. We don’t know if he strangled a bunch of Inhuman babies or rejected Medusa’s sexual advances. O5 Cyclops, in whining how much he hates his older self, gives us no context whatsoever. He tries to come off as sympathetic. But without any insight, this is just more bitching and moaning.

Again, this is a problem that isn’t just restricted to this series. This same shit has been happening in other X-books. With so much shit happening off-panel, we don’t know of O5 Cyclops is just being melodramatic or if it’s every bit as bad as it claims. For all we know, he doesn’t even know the whole fucking story. So if there is any drama in this moment, it’s completely lost because it’s completely without context.

Knowing that we’re not going to get any of those details, it’s almost a relief when the Ghosts of Cyclops show up. At the very least, they stop him from doing any more bitching and moaning about his older self. Maybe when we know just what the fuck Cyclops did that was so bad, this scene will have some weight. For now, it’s just a teenage boy whining about something other than slow internet speeds. it awesome?

Short answer...somewhat. Long’s trying to be and not making nearly as much progress as it wants to. Like the other X-books, All-New X-men #2 is still bogged down by gaping plot holes that are usually reserved for a Christopher Nolan movie. Each major clash is cut off before it can get interesting. And too energy is put into reinforcing how much Cyclops is hated right now. I usually don’t mind belaboring certain points, but when that entire point happened off-panel, it just can’t be unfucked no matter how much it’s belabored.

At the very least, this issue made me wish I had a pet bamf. Since I don’t have any pets that I can (legally) get drunk with, that counts for something. Beyond that, this book moved the story forward. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing in between. It’s basically the most boring sandwich you can possibly have. You only eat to satisfy the most basic of hunger. If you’re expecting anything else, you’re expecting way too much.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Saturday, December 12, 2015

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Official Trailer: Apocalyptic Odds

In the old X-men Animated Series, also known as the GREATEST CARTOON EVER, Apocalypse had one line that best summed up what an evil badass he was. He said this:

"There is no freedom from me. There is only freedom through me!"

THAT'S Apocalypse. That's who he is. Of all the complex villains in X-men history, he's probably the most basic. He's a mutant with god-like power, a god-like ego, and a god-like grudge against the weak. Surely, Fox is incapable of fucking up a movie with a character like this. I want to believe it. But time and again, Fox has proven that they're capable of fucking up any character. Just ask Dr. Doom.

That said, I do concede that Fox has done a better job minimizing their fuck-ups with X-men than it has Fantastic Four. I think Bryan Singer is a douche, but he's WAY better than Josh Trank. Pretty sure that shit is beyond dispute.

Singer indirectly admitted he let shit get really fucked up in the X-men movies when he left to make Superman a deadbeat dad when he rebooted the entire X-men canon in X-men: Days of Future Past. Pretty much everything from that movies is now as meaningful as David Hasselhoff's music career. It's probably for the best. Aside from Mystique running around naked, those movies were basically an elaborate circle jerk of stories centered around Wolverine whining about a woman he never got to fuck.

Fox now has a clean slate to work with. They shit all over the clean slate they had with Fantastic Four. Now, this might be their last chance to prove they can't fuck it up. And the trailer finally came out this past week, minus Ivan Ooze. So will it work? Will Singer avoid Trank's mistakes? I don't know. All I know is that Sophie Turner looks fucking gorgeous.

Even if this movie finds a way NOT to suck, the cards are already stacked against it. X-men Apocalypse isn't just battling other Marvel movies next summer. It also has to deal with Batman v. Superman and Independence Day as competition. And Marvel has proven time and again that even their sub-par movies beat the shit out of Fox's best. This is a movie destined to get swallowed up by the collective efforts of the Justice League, the Avengers, and Jeff Goldbloom. So put on some adamantium-coated underwear, X-men fans. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Redemptions and New Roles: Scarlet Witch #1

The following is my review of Scarlet Witch #1, which was posted on

Given enough time, every comic book character ends up needing some form of redemption. It's not all that different from politics. Give the talking heads on TV and radio enough slow news days and they'll find a scandal to exploit. Wanda Maximoff needs no help when it comes to scandals. And while most comic book fans can't agree on the color of the sky, they can probably agree that the Scarlet Witch is in need of some redemption.

But James Robinson is tasked with doing more than a redemption story for Wanda in Scarlet Witch #1. As part of Marvel's post-Secret Wars 8-month skip, Wanda is set to establish a new role for herself. She can't keep being the genocidal, mentally unstable, ex-mutant retcon whose powers act as a never-ending mulligan to Marvel's continuity issues.

At one point, Wanda Maximoff was a respectable member of the Avengers. It seems so long ago, requiring a trip back to an era when the Backstreet Boys were still relevant. Then, the events of Decimation made her entire character revolve around cleaning up the messes that she herself makes. Like the first Hangover movie, her story had its moments. But like the Hangover sequels, it got old fast and the rectons of her origin story didn't help.

Now, more than ever, the Scarlet Witch needs to move forward as a character. The story James Robinson tells in Scarlet Witch #1 makes a solid and long overdue case that Wanda Maximoff has more to offer the Marvel universe besides being a walking retcon device. In fact, this story gives her a new role that she's uniquely qualified to handle. And it's a role that feels pretty vital in a world where demons, goblins, and deals with Mephisto are uncomfortably common.

Whether she fell into it or just embraced it during the 8-month gap, the Scarlet Witch is now the top cop for witchcraft in the Marvel Universe. She's like the Roger Goodell of the mystic arts, minus the obscene salary and having to deal with the Jerry Jones of the world. It's a component of the Marvel Universe that has been poorly explored, despite having a Sorcerer Supreme and a Dr. Doom running around. Robinson makes it a point to establish witchcraft as something unique and his attention to detail would make any Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast proud.

This world of witchcraft is explored in the form of a CSI-style mystery, minus the drug cartels and car bombs. Wanda, with help from the ghost of Agatha Hawkins, explores a series of murders that may or may not have a basis in witchcraft. And it's not long before the importance of the Scarlet Witch's new role becomes apparent quickly. The NYPD has a hard time justifying parking tickets. What hope do they have of responsibly investigating murders caused by witchcraft?

The Scarlet Witch demonstrates both the need for her services and her competence in delivering. She effectively coordinates with the authorities, which is no small feat in a city that has a history of trying to arrest Spider-Man. She also gives the detective involved a crash course in the history of witchcraft. It's not enough to rip off the Wizard of Oz and most Disney movies made before 1980. She has to provide a context for the forces involved and it's a vital context for the story as a whole.

James Robinson puts a great deal of effort into highlighting the unique challenges that come with witchcraft. He makes it a point to ensure that the Scarlet Witch isn't just a female version of Dr. Strange. That story is best left to perverse fan art.

The story Robinson tells in Scarlet Witch #1 establishes a very different set of forces and a very different set of challenges that Wanda must confront. None of them involve Magneto, Dr. Doom, or sexy male androids either. It makes for a wholly new and deeply refreshing narrative for a character who needed it.

There's no team this time for the Scarlet Witch. There's no personality clashes, romantic tensions, or family drama either. While it might be jarring for those used to seeing Wanda butt heads with Hawkeye every other day, it still works because it puts her in a unique role that she and she alone is qualified to handle. Adding someone like Hawkeye to the mix would add comic relief at best and bad Lethal Weapon style jokes at worst.

As adept as the Scarlet Witch is in her new role, the story of her first day on the job in this role isn't going to get anyone's heart racing. This is a story that's heavy on exposition. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Exposition is needed to establish this new role for Wanda and to assure readers that it doesn't involve her having another mental breakdown. However, it does leave little room for action or even that much of a struggle.

Granted, there's only so much struggle that's possible for someone who spits in the face of physics and warps reality like a piece of tin foil. This makes the Scarlet Witch's clash with the mystical creature she uncovers feel somewhat muted. But it's her first day on the job. In the same way a rookie cop can't be expected to take down Pablo Escobar, she can't be expected to sucker punch Mephisto.

While Scarlet Witch #1 is heavy on the details, it succeeds in giving Wanda Maximoff's character exactly what she needs. It's jarring at times, but in a good way. An entire generation of Marvel fans has come to see the Scarlet Witch as a ticking time bomb whose actions usually require a retcon down the line or several. Now, she's here to show that generation that she's not just some walking Deus Ex Machina who looks good in a red dress.

Wanda Maximoff now has something to contribute to the Marvel Universe. She has a unique set of skills to take on a unique set of challenges. In a world that's populated with clones, robots, and aliens, she can forge her own path and not go crazy in the process. Anyone who has ever had to work retail during the holidays can respect that.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Thursday, December 10, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue 128: Pain Tolerance PREVIEW!

Since the Onslaught Saga of the late 90s, Marvel has done a lot to undermine and discredit the character of Professor Charles Xavier in the X-men comics. From having secret feelings for Jean Grey to keeping secrets about Cyclops’ long lost brother form him, he’s not just the paragon of peace and understanding that inspired the X-men. He’s a flawed individual and that’s fine. It’s perfectly reasonable to humanize a character like Charles Xavier. However, the X-men comics blurred the line between humanizing and denigrating. I hope to keep those lines clearer in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

Since this fanfiction series began, I’ve taken a very specific approach to Professor Charles Xavier. He has no secret attractions to his students. He hasn’t wiped the memories of others behind their backs. In X-men Supreme, he does have strong morals. However, he’s also painfully human in the sense that his personal weaknesses often overwhelm him. And I’m not talking about being in a wheelchair either. I made Charles Xavier a cancer survivor in X-men Supreme. There are real people in this world who have been ravaged by cancer and its effects can be felt, even for those who are in remission.

These effects have been plaguing Charles Xavier since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. While his cancer was effectively cured with the help of the Starjammers in the Starcrossed arc, the effects of all the medications he took to manage his pain have once again caught up to him. Just as he did before, he tried to hide his ailments so he could continue to lead the X-men. And just as before, it ended up hurting him and his X-men.

The events of X-men Supreme Issue 127: Terror Sell marked a dangerous turning point for Charles Xavier. This was the X-men’s first major clash with the Mutant Liberation Front, a dangerous group of mutant terrorists led by former Brotherhood of Mutants member, Toad. And the X-men lost and lost badly because Xavier’s inability to manage his condition caught up with him. It’s one thing to suffer alone, but when that suffering affects his X-men, then Charles Xavier understands that it’s time to make some difficult choices.

These choices will mark the next big shift in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The X-men can’t afford to lose to keep losing to the Mutant Liberation Front. Charles Xavier understands this. His X-men understand this. So what will they do? How will the X-men cope with their mentor’s latest ailments? It marks a dramatic shift in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series and one that’ll make the challenges ahead even more difficult. As always, I’ve prepared a brief preview here on this website and an extended preview on the X-men Supreme Official Blog.

‘The pain…it’s too much. I failed. My X-men…all those people…it’s all my fault. I need my pills. I can’t take this anymore!’

‘Sorry Professor, not this time. You don’t get to take the easy way out.’

Charles Xavier was shocked to hear another telepathic voice in his head. As the world’s most powerful telepath, his mind was always heavily shielded. It was so startling that it jarred him from his semi-conscious state. He was still in a great deal of agony. His head was throbbing just as it had before he passed out. Everything after that was a blur. When he opened his eyes, he realized he wasn’t in Cerebrum anymore. He also realized he had two very disgruntled figures standing by his bed.

Jean Grey had a lot of reasons to be in a foul mood. She had to fly all the way back from Australia while discovering that the Mutant Liberation Front had succeeded along the way. Then when she arrived at the mansion, she discovered Professor Xavier in a very defeated state. This time it wasn’t because he pushed himself too hard. There was a much less noble reason for such failure, which led her and Betsy to call Dr. Cecilia Reyes, who was standing next to her holding the bottle of pills they found Xavier grasping. When he saw her disappointed gaze, the Professor could barely look at her.

“Jean I…” he began.

“Don’t attempt to explain yourself, sir. Dr. Reyes told us everything,” said Jean, not hiding her disappointment in the slightest.

“I’m sorry, Charles. But the whole doctor/patient confidentiality agreement goes out the window when it’s overly abused,” said Cecilia with equal scorn, “I covered for you. I lied for you. I treated you for wounds you inflicted upon yourself. Now you’ve taken it too far!”

“The X-men…are they okay?” asked the Professor, still avoiding eye-contact.

“They’re okay…for the most part,” said Dr. Reyes, “They couldn’t stop the Mutant Liberation Front. Not after they lost their psychic shielding and failed to uncover Toad’s trap.”

“My God,” gasped Xavier, “That means they succeeded! They destroyed the data center! Now the infrastructure of every country in the world is at…”

“Forget the mission for a moment! Forget the damage that’s been done to human/mutant relations or all the ways President Kelly is pissed off at us!” said Jean in a harsh tone, “Let’s talk about what you did to yourself! And this time, no more lies!”

The powerful psychic used her telekinesis to rip the pill bottle out of Dr. Reyes’s hands and retrieve it. Jean was not going to be subtle. This man was like a father to her, much more so than her real father. Uncovering secrets like this was painful in way too many ways.

“When we found you in Cerebrum, you hadn’t passed out due to psychic strain! I know the symptoms of a man who tries to solve his problems by soaking his brain in illicit chemicals! And the pill bottle you were clutching was a dead give-away! I found the number for Dr. Reyes on your cell phone and she got over here as fast as the X-jet would take her! I didn’t want to believe it until I heard it from her, but I know the truth now! We all do!”

“Please understand, Jean!” urged Xavier, “I…”

But Jean didn’t give him a chance to explain himself. She telekinetically threw the empty bottle of pills onto his lap and scolded him in a way she had never scolded her mentor.

“A drug overdose! That’s what took you out of this fight?!” she shouted, “It wasn’t because of some powerful new psychic! It wasn’t because of cancer either! You were so hopped up on pain killers that you nearly drowned in your own drool! And you’re supposed to be the world’s most powerful mind?!”

“That’s enough, Jean,” said Dr. Reyes, having to hold her back.

“Did you really think it wasn’t going to be a problem? Did you really believe that you could be a drug addict and a visionary for the X-men at the same time?! Who do you think you are? A cult leader?!”

“Jean! That’s not helping!” shouted Cecilia, pushing her back.

She was on the brink of tears. This was difficult for her to digest, the charismatic founder of the Xavier Institute failing for reasons that were painfully human. Professor Xavier finally looked up at his student, ashamed of his failure. His students always held him in such high regard. He worked hard to gain their trust over the years. He had abused that trust again and this time it caught up with him in the worst possible way.

Jean continued fuming, having to step back to wipe the tears from her eyes. Dr. Reyes stayed with her a moment, offering whatever consolation she could. This was difficult for her to, but for a very different set of reasons.

“Do not lose control, Jean. I know as well as any cosmic entity that it will only make things worse.”
“I know. I’m not trying to sound like a total bitch,” sobbed Jean.

“You’re not a bitch, Jean. You’re upset. I am too,” said Dr. Reyes, “I fear that something like this would happen. I’m glad it happened now before it got any worse.”

Leaving Jean to cool down, Cecilia turned her attention back to Charles Xavier. He was holding his head low, ready to accept whatever scorn she had to give. He more than deserved it.

“I won’t yell at you, Charles. Although I admit I’m very tempted,” said Dr. Reyes.

“Feel free to yell all you want, Cecilia. I put you in this position. I hurt you just as much as I hurt my X-men,” he said sadly.

“I would rather be more productive while you’re still coherent,” she said, “While you were out, I ran some tests with Jean in the infirmary. They confirmed what I suspected may happen.”

There are many X-men fans who believe there are significant flaws in the current X-men comics. Some of those flaws go beyond the denigration of Charles Xavier’s character. I sincerely hope that those dissatisfied with the comics will find refuge in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I do not want X-men Supreme to suffer the same flaws as the comics. In order to keep this fanfiction series awesome, it’s important that I get feedback. If at any point it sounds like X-men Supreme is becoming too much like the current comics, please tell me! I need to know so I can fix it. Either contact me directly with your feedback or post your comments directly in the issues. I’m always happy to chat X-men. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Secret Wars #8: Nuff Said!

There aren't a lot of situations where I'm okay with delays. Whether it's my flight to Las Vegas or a traffic jam on the freeway or my latte at a coffee shop, I just have a low threshold for getting pissed. That said, I will tolerate delays to some extent in comics if the end result is sufficiently awesome. There just comes a point where that extent becomes so frustrating that I lose my capacity to give enough fucks.

Secret Wars #8 was supposed to come out three months ago. Fuck, it was supposed to be the final issue. Instead, someone at Marvel must have gotten some really shitty weed because their schedule has been more fucked than a Bangkok crack whore. But it's still a story that has been building and escalating in all the right ways. And damn it, I'm going to swallow my frustration, along with what's left of my Thanksgiving leftovers, to review this book for you lovely people.

You don’t need to know too much about the setup. There’s a big fucking battle raging. It’s Secret WARS, remember? There’s Spider-Man, Hulk, Sinister, Thors…pretty much everyone who can make a big fucking war and make it awesome. The last issue established the epic scale. If at this point you don’t appreciate it, you should probably lay off the Xanax.

That’s not to say there isn’t a larger strategy here. While the big ass war is unfolding outside Castle Doom, the two Reed Richards are trying to sneak in with help from Starlord. That goes about a s well as you would think. The fact they only got hit by a Hulk means they got off easy.

Speaking of Hulks, remember that big fucking Hellicarrier that arrived at the battle at the end of the previous issue? The one that, for a brief moment, looked like it was going to make Doom break a divine sweat? Well, it doesn’t matter if you forgot or were too stoned to care because Doom has something better than a Hellicarrier with Hulks. He has a giant fucking Thing to take them down. And no, that’s not a dick joke. But it ought to be.

The explosions, the destruction, and the fighting really don’t need much detail here. It’s like a big pair of tits. No words are needed to convey the awesome. And the arrival of a reanimated Galactus? I’ll let that speak for itself too.

It’s an epic battle on an epic scale that should give everyone an epic erection and/or pussy boner. But there are still a few finer details that ensure this battle will do more than just inconvenience Doom. The Richards duo and Starlord might have been hit by a Hulk, but when has that ever stopped them from landing? Like a North Korean airliner, they still get to their destination and crash in Castle Doom. Now they can fuck with Dr. Doom in a more subtle way. They can’t punch him in the balls, but they can give him a nasty rectal itch.

But who really wants to see two versions of Reed Richards get a rage boner for Dr. Doom? This is a Secret WAR god damn it! Let’s see some more war! A giant Thing and Galactus might make things too lopsided though. That’s why Thanos decides to finally join the fun, complete with the Annihilation Horde. This finally gets Dr. Doom to do something other than watch his world turn against him. It’s finally annoyed him to the point where he’s willing to get off his divine ass and act. Like having to take a piss during a football game, it’s annoying, but necessary.

It gets slightly less annoying for Doom when his pet Galactus makes the battle just a bit more uneven. It’s a little rushed, but not for the same reason a zord battle in a Power Rangers episode is rushed. When Thing finds out that it’s Franklin Richards whose piloting his Galactus zord, he’s no longer quite so eager to wreck Doom’s shit. In fact, he’s so un-eager that he lets Franklin finish him off.

It’s a powerful moment and there have been more than one in this series. Despite the annoying delays, this one still has an impact. Thing would rather die than take down someone he loves. That could be a dick joke as well, but it wouldn’t be a very funny one.

You know what is funny though? Starlord fighting the Black Swan. Why is it funny? Well, it’s not because Starlord has a lousy record in battles against sexy female villain types. It’s because he knows he’s outmatched. Hell, even his dick knows it. But he still carries himself with the kind of swag that makes him worthy of being played by Chris Pratt. Sure, he lets her kick his ass for a bit, but he’s got a plan and it doesn’t involve more dick jokes.

The non-sober crowd might not have noticed, but Starlord has been chewing on a tooth pick since this issue began. Since he’s neither a hillbilly nor a NASCAR fan, he has to have a reason for it. Well, that reason happens to have a name and he likes to remind people of that name. No, it’s not Kid Rock. It’s fucking Groot. You can just hear Vin Disel’s voice and how it soaks every pair of panties in a five-mile radius. On top of that, he grows to a level where he can do the kind of remodeling on Castle Doom that we don’t see outside of a Mythbusters special. It’s a very satisfying moment and I’d be shocked if this didn’t make Black Swan horny on some levels.

So Starlord is taking care of things on his end. He might even get laid if he’s really lucky. Reed Richards (at least one of them) might be able to say the same because while Castle Doom is crumbling like the Cleveland Browns’ season, Valeria manages to lead Sue to him. Now keep in mind, she’s still brainwashed into thinking she’s Dr. Doom’s queen and Battleworld is the only world that matters. Now, she’s face-to-face with Reed again. Not only that, he’s rocking an epic beard. I’d be shocked if even this version of Sue can keep her panties on for more than 15 minutes.

Sadly, it’s not the emotional reunion it could’ve been. It’s more of a teaser. And given how every issue of this series has been more delayed than a Guns N’ Roses album, it’s pretty frustrating. But it’s not completely shrugged off or thrown away off-panel. It’s not like this is an X-men comic.

There are some things that just can’t and shouldn’t be done off-panel. A clash between Thanos and Dr. Doom is one of them. Like a nude oil wrestling match between Jennifer Lawrence and Megan Fox, it cannot and should not be glossed over. Thanos has already annoyed the fuck out of Doom by breaking down the walls that separate Battleworld. And since he’s more merciful than most gods, Doom actually offers him a chance at redemption. If he just places faith in him, he’ll make him a new baron. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?

Well, Doom is not a Scientologist and Thanos is not Tom Cruise. So naturally, Thanos tells Doom to go fuck himself. That’s some pretty serious blasphemy and Dr. Doom deals with it the same way Saudi Arabia deals with it. He fucking offs Thanos with just as much ease as he offed a Cyclops-powered Phoenix. It’s every bit as badass as it sounds.

So again, the balance is now tipped in Doom’s favor. He’s the one with the god-like power. There’s only so much edge anyone can have over him. He’s now in a position to deal with this war the same way Bill Belichick deals with annoying journalists. He’s taken out Thanos and a giant Thing. With his kind of god-like power, what more can anyone throw at him that would be more than a mild cough?

Well, there’s always zombies. Never forget about zombies. Battleworld had a whole domain of them and as it just so happens, a portal opens that lets a whole fuckton of them come charging through. And if the Walking Dead has shown us anything, it’s that zombies make any fucked up situation more frustrating. A god-powered Doom isn’t immune to that.

But a portal of zombies alone isn’t enough to make a god-powered Dr. Doom worry. It’ll still annoy him, but not to the point where it’s anything more than extensive target practice. But that’s not all that comes through the portal. In addition to zombies, Namor and Black Panther show up and they’ve got something better than a trillion zombies. They’ve got a fucking Infinity Gauntlet. The list of things that’ll make a god-powered Dr. Doom shit himself is exceedingly short, but this has to be at the top, right along with an army of giant Hulks on meth. it awesome?

To this, I say a partial fuck yes! Any comic that has a giant monster Groot fight Galactus while Dr. Doom wastes Thanos like a fresh line of blow is awesome by default on some levels. Even shitty delays can't keep a moment like that from being pretty damn satisfying. But after the previous issue set up the kind of epic final battle that Peter Jackson probably jerks off to, this battle didn't exactly follow through. It didn't strike out, but it didn't hit a home run either. There's still plenty to enjoy. Like half a joint, it won't get you high, but it will put a smile on your face. Plus, the final issue still offers the possibility of a full-joint when it comes out...whenever the fuck that might be.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, December 4, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue 127: Terror Sell is LIVE!

One of the major appeals of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, as I try to craft it, is that readers can experience stories that can’t be experienced in the current X-men comics. Right now, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey are dead in the comics. Mutants are going extinct and have been sterilized. Magneto is running his own team of X-men and there are time-displaced versions of the Original Five X-men running around. While this has attracted a wide audience, it’s currently the only game in town for X-men and that leaves X-men Supreme with a unique opportunity to broaden its appeal.

I understand that this appeal is a double-edged sword. I’ve seen Marvel try to craft that same appeal through their Ultimate comics, including Ultimate X-men. But, as we saw with the decline and eventual cancellation of Ultimate Marvel after Secret Wars, this approach has flaws. I’m determined to avoid those flaws in X-men Supreme. And the setup for X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation is part of that effort.

In the comics, you won’t find a story where Toad is the powerful, menacing leader of the Mutant Liberation Front. You won’t find a story where Mystique has been revealed as Wolverine’s former lover, Rose. You won’t find a story where Rogue and Gambit are developing a blossoming relationship. This says nothing about characters like Cyclops and Jean Grey, who are currently dead in the comics. But what I hope to offer in the coming issues of X-men Supreme is something much bolder than an alternative outlet for X-men fans.

As shown in X-men Supreme Issue 126: Heart Attack, the Mutant Liberation Front operates very differently. They are willing to cause widespread destruction and chaos, just as Magneto did with the Brotherhood of Mutants. However, they are not at all interested in killing humans or mutants. They have a different plan. The extent of that plan has yet to be revealed. But first, they must show they can hold their own against the X-men. And that’s exactly what they’ll do in the latest issue of X-men Supreme.

Just how dangerous is the Mutant Liberation Front? How powerful is Toad? And are the X-men equipped to deal with him? That’s what they’re about to find out. Ongoing personal issues with Gambit and Rogue, as well as Charles Xavier’s health, will still affect them. But will the X-men still be able to fight? Will they be able to defend a world still recovering from the events of Dark Legacy? It’s another story you won’t find anywhere else other than X-men Supreme.

X-men Supreme Issue 127: Terror Sell

There are many major differences between the X-men Supreme and the current X-men comics. I don’t just want X-men Supreme to appeal because it’s different. I want it to appeal because the stories it tells are awesome. And to do that, it’s still very important that readers take the time to provide feedback for this fanfiction series. I’m always happy to listen. Either post your comments directly in the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine. Until next time, take care and best wishes.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winning (and Losing) the West: Red Wolf #1

The following is my review of Red Wolf #1, which was posted on

There was a time when the Western narrative had its own VIP section in the realm of pop culture. Then, Clint Eastwood got old and superhero movies took their place in that VIP section. While Westerns still embody a unique element of the American mythos, it'll never generate the $1.5 billion box office that a solid Avengers movie makes.

Nobody is going to mistake William “Red Wolf” Talltrees for Clint Eastwood, but he is one of the few remaining embodiment of that Western mythos, albeit in an atypical fashion. He's not some grizzled old white man looking to thumb his nose at the law. He's basically the Native American version of Captain America. He embodies the power, spirit, and grit of his people. He has the same commitment to justice, but gets only a hundredth of the attention of Steve Rogers. In some respects, it's reflective of the limited attention real Native Americans get.

With Secret Wars, Marvel is giving Red Wolf a chance to join the growing pantheon of diversity in comics. It's becoming a rather crowded pantheon with Kamala Khan, Moon Girl, and Sam Wilson. But there's still room in this mythos for another hero who embodies another minority. Red Wolf #1 makes the case that William Talltrees can be that hero. He ends up being the hero the stereotypical western town of Timely needs. On top of that, he’s way more hero than they deserve.

There are a great many obstacles that the Tony Starks, the Steve Rogers, and the Peter Parkers of the world have to overcome. Those obstacles have made for plenty of memorable stories. However, these heroes all have one thing in common. Their race has never caused them any hardship. That’s not to make light of genuine patriotism and murdered loved ones, but it’s easy to overlook how much easier life is when you don’t have to worry about racism, slurs, and Fox News anchors.

Red Wolf #1 does not shy away from these racist obstacles. In fact, it’s downright blatant about it. Nobody in Timely calls Red Wolf by his name, his superhero name, or even his title as Sheriff. Instead, they use the kinds of words that went out of style back in the 1950s. These are words that would get most people crushed by Twitter trolls if they used those words today. But Red Wolf shows a level of restraint that makes him unfit for Twitter, but more than fit for being a hero.

Having inherited the role of Sheriff from a John Wayne version of Steve Rogers, Red Wolf is responsible for maintaining order in Timely. He does this despite the people of Timely making clear that they trust him about as much as they would trust Al Sharpton. Red Wolf’s authority is so poorly respected that he struggles to settle a dispute over a couple of cows. There’s little doubt that if Steve Rogers had intervened, the conflict would be resolved without inspiring any new Twitter hashtags.

Yet despite the racism he faces, Red Wolf does his duty. He upholds the law, even when neither he nor his title are respected. It offers a unique perspective that can’t be found, even with Miles Morales or Kamala Khan. At least they live in an era where overt racism gets most people sent to the principal’s office or to sensitivity training. In the old west, six shooters and slurs rule the day.

Red Wolf’s commitment to his duty establishes a theme for his story and his struggles. This story unfolds in the form of a fairly generic murder mystery that would probably fit right into at least two Clint Eastwood movies. But this mystery quickly takes a turn that seems more befitting of Tim Burton.

The main purpose of the story isn’t just establishing who Red Wolf is and the racism he has to deal with. The purpose of the story is to put Red Wolf in a position to become part of the larger Marvel universe. In the same way Miles Morales and Old Man Logan have become part of that universe, Red Wolf is set to join them. Since he’ll be entering a time where minorities can get arrested for sneezing on a cop the wrong way, his commitment is all the more admirable.

While the purpose of this story is accomplished in a way that feels satisfying and compelling, it does feel rushed at times. The mystery that unfolds doesn’t get all that elaborate. It barely has the depth of a Scooby Doo rerun, minus a creepy guy in a costume.

One moment, Red Wolf is dreading some dangerous killer who wields magic that a six-shooter can’t stop. The next, this killer just shows up and trolls him. There’s no duel. There’s no horse race. There’s no whiskey-fueled trash talk. There’s just one of those mysterious villain that Captain America takes out at least once a week.

The battle he has with Red Wolf isn’t going to inspire Steven Spielbergs, but it does provide some action that doesn’t just involve angry cows or racist lynch mobs. It also acts as the catalyst that brings Red Wolf out of Timely and into a Marvel universe that is eager to embrace more diversity. Compared to a world racist, redneck stereotypes, it’s definitely an upgrade.

Red Wolf #1 succeeds in most of what it seeks to accomplish. It establishes Red Wolf as character worthy of respect and intrigue. At a time when characters like Peter Parker and Cyclops keep finding new ways to spit on their superhero credibility, his arrival in the All-New, All-Different Marvel universe couldn’t be more appropriate.

It’s still only a moderately engaging story. But at a time when good westerns are relegated to commercial-laden broadcasts on basic cable, it’s still enjoyable. It has the potential to succeed in ways not seen since Back to the Future III. Red Wolf just has to make sure he doesn’t hook up with any of his descendants.

Final Score: 7 out of 10