Thursday, June 30, 2016

Obscuring a Mythos: Wonder Woman #1

The following is my review of Wonder Woman #1, which was posted on

The strength of any ancient myth is measured by how well it conveys its themes. There's a reason why certain myths transcend generations, cultures, and network cancellations. They reflect ideals and insights into the human condition. The stories may include colorful plots like gods knocking up mortal women, but the strength of that story is what separates timeless myths from boring reruns.

Wonder Woman's entire persona is built around the themes of ancient myths. From her divine creation to her divine abilities to her divine insights into the affairs of man, she personifies the strength of every myth, regardless of who some playful god impregnates. She epitomizes the ideals of womanhood and the warrior spirit. The strength of her story transcends eras from the hyper-masculine bravado of the '80s to the communist paranoia of the '50s.

Now, the events of DC Rebirth are poised to confuse and confound this story, adding uncertainty to the entire foundation of Wonder Woman's mythos. Is she the daughter of Zeus? Is she molded from clay? Is she the rightful God of War? Is she destined to emasculate Steve Trevor at every turn? These are all questions that linger in the backdrop of Wonder Woman #1, but little is done to answer any of them. There aren't even any telling hints, be they ominous teasers or divine impregnations.

Instead, Greg Rucka attempts to set up a new story and a new conflict with Wonder Woman. On paper, the concept has some merit. He even succeeds in fleshing out this concept to some degree, but that success is marginal at best. That's not to say it fails though. There is some intrigue at work within this narrative. It just leaves too many unanswered questions and too few reasons to get excited. The effect is undeniable. When Wonder Woman fighting mythical monsters fails to excite, then there's definitely something missing.

The story itself basically starts in the middle of a conflict. Wonder Woman is on a journey, which is a common narrative in many classical myths. That journey puts her in an exotic locale that is much more colorful than the streets of Gotham or the skies of Metropolis. While the snarling beasts aren't quite as memorable as homicidal clowns, it does reflect Wonder Woman's mythical heritage and gives her a target for her mythical strength. Without any added context, however, it may as well be a typical Tuesday for Wonder Woman.

That's not to say there aren't other forces behind the scenes, providing context to Wonder Woman's journey. Rucka actually introduces a key figure in Wonder Woman's mythos that has been absent in recent years, namely Etta Candy. However, this version of her is very different a lot less colorful. She's basically an Amanda Waller wannabe, running some secret government operation that adds unnecessary bureaucracy to everyday heroes. It's an intriguing introduction with intriguing potential, but much of that potential goes unrealized.

Wonder Woman #1 focuses less on realizing potential and more on creating a foundation. That foundation does build somewhat on the recent events of DC Rebirth, which led Wonder Woman to question the details of her origins story. Any origin that involves gods impregnating mortal women or bringing clay figurines to life is bound to be confusing, but the foundation here does little to resolve that confusion. In some ways, it outright ignores it, which is a noticeable crack in the foundation.

Rucka tries to fill those cracks in by developing a sub-plot with Steve Trevor and Etta Candy, tying their conflicts to Wonder Woman's journey. The connection between these details is lacking, but it there is at least some sense of cohesion. It's limited, but it effectively gives roles to Wonder Woman's supporting cast. As Batman can attest, a supporting cast is vital in any iconic mythos.

Unlike Batman though, Wonder Woman's supporting doesn't directly aid her journey. They just make sure nobody distracts her so she can focus on the task at hand. However, the nature of that task doesn't become clear until later in the story. Before then, Wonder Woman spends most of her time just warning the monsters that attack her and fighting them when they ignore her warnings. It's not exactly the kind of tactic that makes a myth epic.

Even so, Rucka does make an effort to highlight the most important aspects of Wonder Woman's character. She's not just a warrior and an icon who can survive being on a team with Batman and Green Lantern. She's a woman of compassion and mercy, offering it even to monsters who stand in her way. Even though they ignore it as if it were typical trash talk, it reinforces a key component of Wonder Woman's identity.

That identity is a lot more vital in wake of DC Rebirth. With Wonder Woman being so unsure of her origins, it makes sense to remind herself and others of who she is and what she stands for. It ends up being the only real certainty conveyed in Wonder Woman #1 because many other details are left undeveloped and unaddressed.

There's nothing egregious about the way Rucka handles Wonder Woman or her supporting cast. Nobody sleeps with a god, makes a deal with Mephisto, or trusts Lex Luthor. The story surrounding these characters is simply lacking in context and detail. Without that, the story falls flat and there's a reason stories like that don't make their way into AP English classes or comic racks.

The aftermath of DC Rebirth is affecting all corners of the DC Universe. With Wonder Woman, however, these effects seem detached and distant. Wonder Woman #1 tries to build a new foundation on top of one that is still incomplete. The elements of her mythos are there. There are even a few new elements that have the potential to develop. Despite this, the details aren't there. The connections are weak, if present at all. For a mythos as iconic as Wonder Woman, the standards are high and potential alone never slayed a titan.

Final Score: 4 out of 10

Uncanny X-men #9: Nuff Said!

There aren't a whole lot of ways that can make a conflict involving Apocalypse more shitty, but the X-men usually find a way in every major crossover event. As in real life, any crisis can be made worse by injecting ex-lovers into the mix. I'm convinced that a jaded ex-lover will suck Mephisto's cock just to make someone a little bit more miserable. They will make a deal involving their soul and a half-eaten bag of skittles to add to such misery.

This is the situation Psylocke finds herself in with Apocalypse Wars. She's been trying to save one former lover in Angel, who isn't all that jaded. To do that, she must deal with a far more jaded ex-lover in Fantomex. As a character who tries to be a sophisticated kind of douche-bag anti-hero, he is uniquely qualified to make the shit storm in Apocalypse Wars even worse. Uncanny X-men #9 has him poised to add more shit and make Psylocke want to rip his heart out through his asshole. I usually don't root for jaded ex-girlfriends, but I'll gladly make an exception for Psylocke.

I also make that exception because Psylocke has Magneto in her corner and generally, it's not wise to be on any side opposing Magneto. He still managed to get himself captured with Psylocke in an earlier issue. Psylocke spent a lot of time and effort trying to free him, having to go through her douche-bag ex in the process. In the end, she doesn't succeed, but Mystique does.

Yes, she has finally arrived. Jennifer Lawrence couldn't hog her completely. Her presence has been teased mercilessly since Uncanny X-men began. Finally, she shows up and at the best possible time. She doesn't just free Magneto. She does it while busting his balls and probably giving him a boner at the same time. Few women who didn't marry Larry King can make such a claim. Sure compares Magneto to Apocalypse, which does plenty to piss him off. However, he's pissed off in Akkaba City where Genocide is prepared to take a giant, genocidal dump on the mutant race. That means he has someone to take it out on.

Can we all just agree that Mystique know show to piss people off in just the right ways at just the right times?

As this shit storm in Akkaba City is unfolding, there's another conflict that is still woefully disconnected in the sewers of New York. That's not to say it's a meaningless conflict. It involves Monet and Sabretooth fighting mutant zombies, courtesy of Monet's evil, ass-ugly brother Emplate. So meaning or not, it's still pretty entertaining and personal. I'm just not sure what the fuck it has to do with Apocalypse Wars. Like light beer, that's not going to stop me from enjoying it, even if it takes a little more to get the same buzz.

The fight began in the previous issue. Now, it's progress naturally to a point where Sabretooth fucks up and gets considerably maimed by Emplate. I know he's still inverted. I know he's trying hard not to be a raging asshole. I'm just saying it's still entertaining as hell watching him get maimed. Some inversions just can't change that.

Monet doesn't let Sabretooth get maimed too much, only to the point where it's still entertaining as fuck. This is personal for her. She hasn't clashed with her brother since the Clinton Administration so this is a pretty big deal for her. Like a Backstreet Boys comeback tour, she can't afford to fuck this up. Emplate doesn't make that easy for her though. He confirms that he's the one who drew her to the Morlock tunnels. He also confirms he didn't draw her there just to maim Sabretooth, although I'm sure that was a nice bonus. Like any whiny brother, he wants her help. He just uses mutant zombies to get his point across. Not saying that's right, sane, or logical, but I can't say it doesn't work.

It's hard to top the entertainment value of mutant zombies and Sabretooth getting maimed. That said, Mystique and Magneto fighting side-by-side against the forces of Genocide is pretty damn close. It's a battle that I think Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence would approve of. They're not relying on Psylocke to work around her douche-bag ex. They're taking matters into their own hands, looking to kick Genocide's ass on their own terms. It's one thing to piss off Storm, Cyclops, or Wolverine. Pissing off Magneto and Mystique though? Even Apocalypse's minions are really pushing it.

The battle leads to a fucked up, disturbing, and oddly satisfying revelation. You know all these monstrosities and Skrillix wannabes that Genocide is making? Well, he didn't just buy them from Sinister, although I'm sure he considered that. He creates them from Angel's flesh. Sure, it requires a healthy bit of torture, but so does waiting for Comic Con tickets. It's a matter of perspective. For Angel, it's worth it because having the blood of Apocalypse in him really fucking sucks. It's another echo from the Dark Angel Saga and completely understandable in that context. Like actually paying to see the last Adam Sandler movie, it's one of those scars that just doesn't go away easily.

I still don't get the sense that Angel thought this through completely. Sure, he's a handsome, rich, charismatic preacher for some cultish church that reeks of bad televangelism and Scientology. However, he's also helping Genocide and making himself a real pussy in the process. So while his choice is understandable, it's still a dick move. In a story that has Mystique, Sabretooth, and Fantomex though, I guess it's a matter of perspective.

The same perspective applies to Emplate. He's done maiming Sabretooth, which may be disappointing to some. However, he offers a few more important revelations as to why he feels the need to communicate with mutant zombies. It turns out feeding on them is the only thing keeping him anchored to this world, which in turn prevents him from slipping back into a world that really fucking sucks. It has to suck if he considers it a downgrade from a New York City sewer. The problem is that mutants are kind of going extinct thanks to giant Inhuman fart clouds. He's going to run out of mutants soon so he kind has to get proactive.

This leads to another powerful brother/sister moment in a non-creepy, non-Game of Thrones sort of way. Emplate actually makes clear that he loves his sister. He doesn't love her enough to not attack with mutant zombies, but that's beside the point. He loves her enough to want her help and she's willing to help him, provided he stops killing mutants. However, she can only do that by making a really shitty deal for herself. It's a powerful moment and while it doesn't seem to do shit for Apocalypse Wars as a whole, it is a nice reminder of why she's awesome.

Touching, non-incest moments between siblings is nice and all. Flashy, explosive battles between Magneto, Mystique, and Holocaust are still way more fun. I'm all for sentiment in comics, but there's just no substitute to seeing Magneto and Mystique kick ass. It's not the most brutal battle. It's not Wolverine and Cyclops fighting over an old pair of Jean Grey's panties. It's still entertaining as hell and given how much Mystique pissed Magneto off earlier, it ends up being a fairly even fight. Since Apocalypse battles usually require the fucking Phoenix Force to tip the balance, this is a nice change of pace.

So all this epic shit is going on. Where is Psylocke? Did fighting with her ex really distract her that much? Well, I think we can all forgive someone for getting a little side-tracked when an asshole ex enters the picture, but she's supposed to be tougher than this. Modern feminism demands it. Instead, she encounters some of the fucked up monstrosities that Genocide created with Angel's flesh. She's so spent from fighting her ex at this point that she doesn't stand a chance when they attack and poison her. Of course Fantomex sees this and of course he's probably resisting the urge to dance to a Taylor Swift song. He's just that big a douche. It really is a low point for Psylocke. It's definitely one Olivia Munn will want to avoid for future X-men movies.

There is an indirect benefit/problem for situations when Psylocke is in that much trouble. It pisses off Arcangel, her drone/attack dog/boy toy. He doesn't talk much and has been basically a blunt instrument since Uncanny X-men began. Now, Psylocke is in trouble and her ex is eager to piss on her corpse. Brainwashed or not, Archangel can't have that. He finally arrives, ready to fuck up Genocide and Fantomex's balls, but not necessarily in that order. I still find it strange rooting for jaded ex-girlfriends, but when this is the shit it inspires, I'm happy to make an exception. it awesome?

It has Mystique finally joining the battle and fighting alongside Magneto. Does I really need to write an essay on why that shit is awesome? It took a while, but it finally converged in a cohesive way. Then shit started blowing up. That's basic level awesome at its best. The advanced levels aren't on as big a display as before, but for good reason. Uncanny X-men #9 focuses less on drama and more on moving the plot forward. It does this with a lot of destruction, suffering, and mutant zombies. It's not as concise in some areas, but it's still entertaining as hell. If you can't be entertained by mutant zombies, then adjust your medications because something is wrong with you.

Final Score 7 out of 10

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Extraordinary X-men #11: Nuff Said!

Let's face it. We're all conditioned to root for the cute teenage girl in any story that involves a monster, serial killer, creepy old man. Naturally, Apocalypse Wars panders to this sentiment, as every slasher movie has since the mid-70s. Extraordinary X-men already caters to every sentiment X-men fans have ever had about apocalyptic futures and for the most part, it works. It doesn't suck on the level of a Matrix sequel or Wolverine Origins. It doesn't break much new ground either, which has kept the story from being interesting. So far, it's biggest accomplishment is creating sexual tension between Old Man Logan and Storm while establishing how much Glob Herman wants to bone O5 Jean.

Those accomplishments are respectable in the same way that losing a dick measuring contest with Ron Jeremy is respectable. Except now Jeff Lemire is dumping some habanero sauce into the mix. He threw a Venom-powered Old Man Logan into the conflict alongside an Apocalypse-infused Colossus. With O5 Jean still so young and vulnerable, like every camp counselor ever at Crystal Lake, I'm sufficiently intrigued by what Extraordinary X-men #11 has to offer.

Like most overly innocent teenage girls, O5 Jean tries to reason with the monster first. She goes into Old Man Logan's mind, hoping to help him fight the Venom symbiote. The fact she does this fully clothed may give her an advantage in a slasher movie, but against a version of Wolverine, she might have been better off flashing him her tits. She tries to be genuine, heartfelt, and encouraging. She's Jean Grey. That's one of her strengths. This not being the first moment she's shared with Old Man Logan, her effort has real depth to it.

However, she still might have been better off flashing him her tits. This isn't just Wolverine. This is Old Man Logan. He's killed all his friends before without the aid of a symbiote. O5 Jean might as well give flowers to Jason Vorhees. It's only going to make shit messier.

Despite sincere effort, Old Man Logan is now old, grumpy, and fueled by a venom symbiote. Like giving a racist a Twitter feed, it doesn't bode well for anyone. O5 Jean is forced to fight him while the rest of the X-men fight the other horsemen of Apocalypse. It sets up a battle that is epic in principle, but not in execution. Hamberto Ramos' art makes it colorful and pretty, but other than O5 Jean's efforts to save Old Man Logan, it feels somewhat muted. It's still more exciting than typical chase in a slasher movie, but Oscar Issac's performance in X-men: Apocalypse has set a higher bar and this one doesn't quite reach it.

That's quite a feat for a battle that involves a horsemen version of Deadpool. Except, Apocalypse Wars takes a page right out of the Wolverine Origins playbook and reveals that his mouth got sewn shut so he couldn't unleash unholy pestilence and/or bad poop jokes. Short of adopting the draft strategy for the Cleveland Browns, there aren't many worse models to follow so anyone who actually paid to see Wolverine Origins may have traumatic flashbacks.

This is not to say the battle doesn't have its moments. In addition to O5 Jean's effort with Old Man Logan, the young mutants who shined in earlier issues get to shine again against Colossus. Glob Herman still doesn't do much to make O5 Jean want to bone him, but Ernst really kicks ass here and it's always somewhat satisfying when a D-lister kicks a little ass. Sure, Colossus is a horseman and he's able to fight back and remind them that they're still a long ways from teaming up with Wolverine, Captain America, or even Squirrel Girl. Still, they get to accomplish more than most teenagers not named Kamala Khan.

While the battle in the future rages, there is also another ongoing side-plot in the past. This one involves Magik and her new student, who has powers that allow her to domesticate demons. In terms of a teacher/student relationship, it couldn't be a more fitting dynamic outside a Batman comic or a bad porno. However, that dynamic comes to an unexpected and somewhat forced end.

For reasons that are somewhat vague, Magik's new student decides to leave. She claims she just started having nightmares of killing her teacher. She's young. I don't think she understands that every teenager feels that way about certain teachers at some point. Granted, her dreams involve real demons, but it still feels abrupt and shallow. There is some heartfelt words in her goodbye note to Magik, but they're hardly Pixar level heartfelt. Anyone who saw Inside Out last year is not going to be very moved.

Back in the future, there's still plenty of battle to go around and it's not the kind of battle that would ever make it into a Pixar movie. Sensing that fighting Old Man Logan/Venom without O5 Jean willing to flash her tits is a losing battle, Nightcrawler and Storm decide to skip a couple steps and fight the source of this shit storm.

It also gives Nightcrawler a chance to show that his balls have descended again, which is important since he's dealing with Storm and he gave her a lot of reasons to question the integrity of those balls earlier in the series. He wants to prove himself by helping her take down Apocalypse. Short of getting nude pictures from Emma Frost, I can't think of a better way for any X-man to prove himself.

Nightcrawler and Storm channel their inner Indiana Jones, minus the Crystal Skull, and navigate Apocalypse's lair. It's full of the same traps and shit that Indiana Jones faces every other Thursday, but it also has Moon Knight standing in their way. Pretty sure Indiana Jones would have problems with that. There are just some obstacles that can't be overcome by a whip and an awesome hat.

It does give Nightcrawler another chance to prove himself and he succeeds. He's able to fight off Moon Knight and I'm a bit more convinced that his balls have at least partially descended. It's hard to say whether Storm is convinced, but I think she's more confident. Probably still would've helped if he got some nude pics of Emma Frost, but one step at a time I guess.

Finally, they reach Apocalypse. I won't say it's anti-climactic, but I will say that without Oscar Isaac, it's hard to have the right impact. He's not that imposing. He looks like a Vegan with food poisoning. It's like he spent most of his future in a shitty retirement home in Mississippi. He claims to be the heart of Omega World and I guess that's pretty strenuous. While this does provide a legitimate reason why he's not as imposing as before, it also limits the scale of the battle that follows.

That's not to say Apocalypse is a pushover though. Even at his weakest, he can still kick more ass than most people not named Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. In some respects, it makes the battle between him and Storm much more even. That doesn't stop Apocalypse from reminding her that mutants had their shot and they fucked up. He already decided that they shouldn't survive. She's just pissing into the wind at this point and blaming Cyclops for it. Can't say he's entirely wrong in his sentiment either.

Now the final battle against Apocalypse and the ongoing battle with his horsemen is escalating. It's all coming together in a final clash to decide the future. It's the kind of shit that gives X-men an appeal that the racist, Xenophobic, slave-owning Inhumans will never have. This battle might not be on the same level as Secret Wars, Messiah Complex, or even Deadpool fighting off squealing Ryan Reynolds fans. It is somewhat generic, but it's still a battle that has all the classic elements of an X-men vs. Apocalypse clash. It doesn't have Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, or Oscar Isaac to give it some extra personality, but other than sewing Deadpool's mouth shut, it doesn't fuck up the formula too much.

It only becomes overly fucked when Nightcrawler shows up, having failed to save the ark of mutant embryos that instigated this shit storm in the first place. So how does he make up for it? He fucking impales Apocalypse with his sword. Okay, I'll say it now. Nightcrawler's balls are back and I'll gladly fondle them to make up for all the times I called him a whiny little bitch. Sure, stabbing a weakened Apocalypse is like winning a fight against a hung over Jackie Chan. It's still a badass feat none-the-less.

Unfortunately, it also means that the X-men are now fully fucked. They're stuck in the future, remember? Apocalypse is the heart of Omega World. If he does, what happens to Omega World? Same thing that happens when you rip the heart out of anything. Nightcrawler may have doomed the X-men, but at least he'll die with a full set of balls and I guess that's something. it awesome?

Well there's a lot of apocalyptic action and ominous foreboding, but that's fairly typical for the course for the penultimate issue of a major story. Shit is dire and grim. Again, it's the penultimate issue. It would be weird if the X-men didn't face a grim scenario where they are about to die, get exiled in the future, or be stuck in a locked cage with Deadpool for all eternity. There aren't a whole lot of revelations and there aren't a lot of tie-ins with the other X-men comics. It's not overly complicated or convoluted either, which is as rare as a decent Johnny Depp movie these days. So Extraordinary X-men #11 doesn't drop an atomic shit bomb or anything.

That said, it's not going to make anyone's panties wet. The character drama and personal moments that highlighted earlier issues aren't as intense. The clash with Apocalypse feels underwhelming. This is a guy who had to be taken down by the Phoenix in X-men: Apocalypse. Yet here, he's taken down by a sword that World of Warcraft fans probably have laying in their closet somewhere? Not saying that kills the story, but nobody can say their assholes clenched at any point during this battle. With one issue left though, Apocalypse Wars still has plenty going for it. The fact it resorts to sewing Deadpool's mouth shut gives me cause for concern though.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Monday, June 27, 2016

Broken Legacy Chapter 5: Rising Bloodlust is LIVE!

Let’s face it. There are some topics that DC will just never touch with Superman. He’s too much of an icon and an ideal to ever address tough issues that make people feel too uncomfortable. There’s no question that if he wanted, Superman could fly all over the world and confront atrocities like war crimes, refugees, and mass exploitation by governments and criminals alike. It exposes the very depths of human corruption and depravity. It’s just too hard and distressing to create a story about that.

I like to think I’ve made a concerted effort to tell that story in Broken Legacy. It isn’t just a Superman/Wonder Woman story. It’s a story about them dealing with a very sensitive, very harsh issue that will never be mentioned in the comics. These aren’t just unpleasant secrets surrounding who their ancestors are or who Zeus knocked up. These are direct affronts to every concept of justice that we as a people value. It’s not Lex Luthor trying to take over the world. It’s the scars left by atrocities that cannot and will not heal.

Tyr-El is the personification of this concept. He is on a different level compared to Lex Luthor. It’s not about ego or greed for him. He just has a goal and he’s willing to torture, maim, and desecrate anyone or anything that gets in his way. In fact, he will go out of his way to do just that if it makes his goal more stable and achievable. That’s what makes him a threat unlike anything Superman, Wonder Woman, or the human race have ever faced before. It’s also what makes him so dangerous.

This story has set up and confronted all these grim concepts. Now, it’s time to set up the final clash. As I’ve said before, I have had to tweak this story at times. The recent events of the comics, especially those surrounding Superman, have made it difficult to make this story on the same level of Strangers In Paradise. It’s just hard to put that kind of energy into a story when inspiration is lacking. However, I am still committed to completing this story in as satisfying a way I can. This chapter should set the stage for a defining resolution that I hope Superman/Wonder Woman fans will enjoy during these dark times.

I don’t yet know how many chapters this story will end up being. Again, don’t expect anything on the scale of Strangers In Paradise. I always intended this story to be more concise and focused. It may be my last Superman/Wonder Woman story for a while, but that’s just all the more reason to make it awesome as it can be.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bracing for Heartbreak and Embracing it: Ms. Marvel #8

The following is my review of Ms. Marvel #8, which was posted on

Everyone has an inflated opinion of those they idolize. Those inflated opinions allow people to overlook flaws like Tony Stark's drinking, Spider-Man's irresponsibility, or Deadpool's crude sense of humor. For better or for worse, idols often become tied to identity. When one of those idols messes up in ways that make for great tabloid headlines, some take it as an affront to their identity. In this sense, Kamala Khan is setting her identity up for a beating.

Civil War II effectively drew the lines in the conflict. Now, targets are finding their way towards certain characters and Kamala Khan is at the front of that line. Few characters who aren't Spider-Man clones are as closely tied as Kamala Khan and Captain Marvel. Kamala Khan's entire persona as Ms. Marvel is built around her idolizing Carol Danvers. She is the quintessential fangirl and it shows in lovably humorous ways every time their paths cross. Now, G. Willow Wilson is setting Kamala up for a level of heartbreak that exceeds that caused by any Skrull imposter or Hydra agent.

Ms. Marvel #8 begins the process of tying Ms. Marvel's story into the larger conflict unfolding in Civil War II. It's a process that is destined to pit this young, aspiring hero against the idol who inspired her. The emotions surrounding this conflict are as volatile as can be without a Hulk being involved, but G. Willow Wilson doesn't focus on this initially.

Instead, Ms. Marvel #8 starts from the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Wilson focuses on the hope and benefits of having someone who can accurately predict the future without the added complications of time machines, stage tricks, or excessive phone bills. Just like Civil War II #1, these benefits manifest in major ways for Ms. Marvel. However, just like Civil War II #1, the fine print in these benefits promise to send her to the other end of that emotional spectrum and that end comes with a lot of pain, as War Machine can attest.

Captain Marvel, her trusted idol, tasks Ms. Marvel with making use of Ulysses' foresight. This means she gets her first team of side-kicks, an important milestone for any superhero not mentored by Bruce Wayne. Thanks to these new resources, she is able to stop the leader of a Canadian syndicate of ninjas from going on a rampage in a tank. The basic details of that scenario sound so absurd when said out loud, but they are a testament to the kind of cartoonish conflicts that make Ms. Marvel's narrative so much fun.

The fun doesn't last though. As often happens with teenagers trying to change the world for the better, they trip over some unpleasant realities along the way. Ms. Marvel finds herself treating potential crimes as actual crimes, something every non-Hydra version of Captain America would have problems with. However, Ms. Marvel still believes in the greater good that this method offers. She still believes in her idol and cherishes the trust she places in her. It's like having the keys to all of Tony Stark's cars. It's not easy to give up.

It reflects one of G. Willow Wilson's most effective tactics in making Ms. Marvel such a lovable, endearing hero. She sets Kamala up for heartbreak and disappointment, but she does it in a way that has a powerful emotional impact. That impact is perfectly consistent with the ongoing themes surrounding Civil War II and the themes that make Ms. Marvel such an impactful character.

Wilson effectively uses the opposite approach that slasher movies use with stereotypical jocks. She creates this narrative where its hard not to root for Kamala Khan and her ideals. Her heart is in the right place. Her ideals are respectable. She sees the world through Disney-like ideals. It's clear that those ideals are destined to shatter under the weight of the real world, but even though the outcome is hardly surprising, the emotional undertones are clear.

Those undertones are largely driven by Ms. Marvel's adulation of Captain Marvel. This adulation goes back to before Kamala Khan got her powers. She builds her entire superhero identity around the ideals the standards that Captain Marvel sets. In the same way fans of Spider-Man don't want to believe that he would make a deal with Mephisto, Ms. Marvel doesn't want to believe that Captain Marvel is on the wrong side of a conflict. It makes the looming heartbreak even more powerful. Kamala might even need counseling from Mary Jane Watson when the dust settles.

The emotions and drama mix well with battles involving Canadian ninjas hijacking tanks. G. Willow Wilson also attempts to add a more contemporary context on the whole Civil War II conflict, exploring the history of Kamala's family and the historical conflicts within that history. However, this part of the narrative falls flat and acts as a distraction more than a supplement. Some details are relevant, but not enough to have a noticeable impact on Ms. Marvel's narrative.

There are other attempts that are slightly more successful. Ms. Marvel shows some discomfort in treating potential crimes as actual crimes, but it's not the kind of discomfort that a typical teenage superhero doesn't handle on a regular basis. Some parallels between Civil War II and the whole "tough on crime" era of the '80s and '90s come into play. Again, these efforts fall flat. It's only when the threat becomes personal to Ms. Marvel that the impact starts to manifest.

That impact and the undertones surrounding it remain the greatest strength of Ms. Marvel #8. It takes the larger conflict created in Civil War II and personalizes it. Like a bad movie teaser, it does somewhat spoil the outcome. Ms. Marvel is setting herself up for disappointment and heartbreak. All that idolizing and admiration for Captain Marvel is going to take a crippling gut punch. That punch is going to hurt, but it's worth enduring for certain characters. Kamala Khan is one of them.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, June 24, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue #137: Outer Limits Part 1 is LIVE!

The countdown is almost over. The X-men are about to launch themselves into another cosmic conflict in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. They’ve dealt with cosmic threats before in the Phoenix Saga and the Starcrossed arc. In each of those arcs, the cosmic threat came to them. This time, the X-men will be going to them instead. A great many plots are about to converge. Some of them have been building in X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. The Phoenix Force, Lilandra Neramani, the M’Kran Crystal, the Shi’ar, and D’ken are poised to make their mark on this fanfiction series in a major way.

It’s a significant shift from the more earthbound conflicts that the X-men have been dealing with, going all the way back to X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. Many recent plots have been built around dealing with threats to human/mutant relations, such as the Mutant Liberation Front and the Legacy Virus. There’s always a place for those conflicts in X-men, but those aren’t the only conflicts that define them. The X-men take part in different conflicts that involve monsters, aliens, and mystical forces. In many ways, it helps legitimize them as a superhero team. I seek to capture that same spirit within this fanfiction series.

The Shi’ar present a unique challenge. They are an alien race defined by their interaction with the X-men. In the comics and cartoons, much of their story is built around the Phoenix Saga. At times, too much of their story stems from it. I’ve already established some link between the Phoenix Force and the Shi’ar way back in the Phoenix Saga, which played out in X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. Now, the scope and scale of that link is about to manifest in a major way, but it’s not just about the Phoenix Force this time. For X-men Supreme, I intend to build a different kind of conflict.
The Shi’ar are often portrayed as a warlike race. They define themselves by their ability to wage war.

In the context of the X-men and the Marvel universe, it’s a big reason why they became such a powerful force in the galaxy. It makes sense, as war tends to spur innovation and breakthroughs. It comes at a price though and that price is the key to the story I’m set to tell in this new arc, which I call Outer Limits. What happens to a civilization when its thirst for war is taken to an extreme? Humans like to think they’re incredibly warlike, but they’ve got nothing on the Shi’ar. The story ahead in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series will prove that beyond any doubt.

It’s a culmination of many long-standing plots for X-men Supreme. It’s also the catalyst for a new set of conflicts that will shake things up within the X-men as this fanfiction series moves forward. Expect this to be a major arc on par with Overlord and the Cambrian Explosion. Expect its impact to be every bit as profound. When the X-men enter cosmic conflicts, there will always be shake-ups and this one is no exception.

X-men Supreme Issue 137: Outer Limits Part 1

There are so many different types of stories to explore with X-men. Their mythos is so rich and diverse. It’s a big part of their appeal and I’ve done my best to capture that appeal with X-men Supreme. It’s my goal to make this fanfiction series as awesome as possible in as many ways as possible. I like to think I’ve achieved that with certain elements of X-men. I want to keep succeeding in even greater ways. That’s why I urge everyone to leave feedback for me with every update. I mean it when I say it helps me make X-men Supreme more awesome. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and either way helps. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Divisions in a Dystopian Present: Civil War II: X-men #1

The following is my review of Civil War II: X-men #1, which was posted on

It's an unspoken rule that no superhero team can say they've arrived until they experience a dystopian future. By that standard, the X-men are seasoned pros. There are so many dystopian futures that the Watcher probably gets migraines keeping track of them. Another dystopian future for the X-men at this point has about the same impact as shooting Deadpool in the head. It's so routine that it's downright boring.

That's what makes the setup for Civil War II: X-men #1 so intriguing. This isn't a dystopian future for the X-men. This is a dystopian present. Granted, the present is rarely ideal for the X-men. Killer robots attack at least once a week and the Xavier Institute gets blown up every couple of months it seems. However, the current status quo for the X-men and the mutant race as a whole is as dire as any future that doesn't involve a Brett Ratner movie.

Between the off-screen death of Cyclops and the spread of M-pox, the X-men's present has a lot of room for improvement. That makes their role in Civil War II more meaningful than most. They have reasons for improving the present beyond preventing another Thanos attack. The ethics, context, and consequences of utilizing an Inhuman who can accurately predict the future remain central to the themes of Civil War II, but those themes take on new dimensions with Civil War II: X-men #1.

The sequence of events and the ramifications of these events closely mirror those of Civil War II. The conflict is built around a threat that is resolved with stunning efficiency by Marvel standards. This efficiency is due to the foresight provided by Ulysses, an Inhuman who can predict the future in ways that stock brokers can only dream of. It's not on the same level of a renegade Celestial, an vindictive Thanos, or drunk Juggernaut, but it's a conflict that sets the right stage.

Cullen Bunn even makes the conflict relevant to ongoing struggles in recent X-men comics. The Terrigen Mists are still circling the Earth, poisoning and sterilizing mutants in ways that can't be blamed on Wanda Maximoff's mental health this time. Bunn's team in Uncanny X-men and Jeff Lemire's team in Extraordinary X-men are both major players in this struggle, but they've never crossed paths or coordinated until Civil War II: X-men #1. It's overdue, but Bunn makes it worth the wait.

The coordination between teams is friendly at first, at least as much as any team-up where one side employs Magneto and Sabretooth. They work together to do what X-men have always done, protecting innocent mutants from a looming threat. They succeed in this. Bunn even takes time to show that characters in both teams still have close connections with one another. It's a small, but vital detail because it adds weight to the argument that forms.

Once the innocent mutants are safe and Magneto's team starts asking questions, the friendly team-up ends and another civil war within Civil War II begins. It happens the moment Magneto's team learns about Ulysses, thanks to some psychic insight from Psylocke and Monet. What he learns concerns him and for once, Magneto's concerns are actually valid. For a character whose concerns usually revolve around terrifying the entire human race, this is pretty striking.

Bunn utilizes the same dynamic that Brian Michael Bendis is using in Civil War II. There are two sides to a difficult issue. Both sides make a valid point. Only circumstances, luck, and tragedy can vindicate one side over the other, as the friends of War Machine can attest. In this case, the argument isn't just about using Ulysses' foresight to predict the future and avoid further sterilization efforts. It builds on the nature of the dystopian present the X-men now operate in.

It's very reflective of the classic conflict between Charles Xavier and Magneto. Storm favors cooperation with the Inhumans to improve the current situation for mutants. Magneto favors any other approach that won't aid the very group responsible for unleashing the Terrigen Mists. While the conflict lacks the natural charms of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, it remains very relevant and incurs a dramatic impact.

Unlike the Xavier/Magneto dynamic, both sides come off as reasonable. One side doesn't seem more inclined to hijack nuclear missiles or crash a metal asteroid in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It's the key ingredient to the chaotic concoction that makes the concept of Civil War II so dramatic. Both sides have a point to make. Both sides have a reason for fighting for their side of the argument. It's destined to pit heroes against heroes and friends against friends. In that respect, Civil War II: X-men #1 is right on schedule.

Bunn doesn't waste time creating disagreements between the two teams. He doesn't waste time having some characters question their allegiance either. It's a messy situation that feeds off the dystopian circumstances surrounding the X-men. It gives the divide between teams a level of dramatic weight that isn't possible in a setting where the mutants aren't being sterilized and current members of the X-men aren't time-displaced.

Civil War II: X-men #1 succeeds at achieving its primary goals. It effectively injects the primary conflict in Civil War II into the X-men's current predicament. Some of the secondary goals fall somewhat short. Aside from Magneto and Storm, few other characters get a chance to say or do much. In addition, the interactions between the two teams feels muted in some areas. While their arguments are meaningful, the instigating conflict never feels like too great a spectacle.

It's the early stages of Civil War II. Characters are still choosing their sides, weighting the benefits, and wondering how likely it is that Tony Stark can win two Civil Wars in a row. In Civil War II: X-men #1, the stakes are a bit higher for the X-men. Their entire race is already sterilized, exiled, and marginalized. They really can't afford to make things any worse, lest their dystopian present becomes overly apocalyptic.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ms. Marvel #8: Nuff Said!

Let's face it. At some point, our idols are going to have days where they'll be total assholes. I'm sure Mother Teresa herself had days where she woke up and wanted to punch the first person she saw. It's a big part of reality that sucks elephant balls. We're all painfully human and that includes our idols. Eventually, we all learn this and if we're exceedingly unlucky, we learn it the hard way.

Kamala Khan has a lot going for her. She's both a popular new hero and an Inhuman, which means she gets the kind of preferential treatment usually reserved for members of the Hilton family. However, even her inherent luck has to run out at some point and it looks like Civil War II is that point. The shit storm is already in full force. The stench finally reaches Ms. Marvel's doorstep in Ms. Marvel #8. How will she handle the kind of shitty luck usually reserved for mutants and the Fantastic Four? That's what I'm here to discern in as sober(ish) way I can manage.

Flashback to Captain America's time for a quick history lesson. For those who didn't sleep through history class or show up stoned, this probably won't reveal much. For those of us who had great weed connections in high school, it helps to provide context.

It involves the formation of Pakistan after India gained its Independence from snooty British types who got tired of riding elephants to compensate for the size of their dicks. Why is this important for Ms. Marvel? Well, she's Pakistani. Her entire family came from Pakistan and anyone who watches CNN sober for more than a few moments understands that Pakistan has its share of problems. A lot of them start with its founding and a lot of innocent people who just wanted some distance from snooty British types got caught in the crossfire. Kamala's family is one of them.

Without revisiting the complex politics of India and Pakistan, most of which require more Adderall and weed than I'm willing to take, there is a relevant purpose to this flashback. It depicts a time when people could no longer trust the friends and neighbors they've always known because they MIGHT screw them over. They MIGHT decide to be petty, vindictive assholes for no good reason. It's the basis behind almost every kind of racism, border clash, flame war on message boards. It's one of mankind's less attractive birthmarks to say the least.

There's a nice bit of genuine human drama, something G. Willow Wilson loves to inject in all her stories. It adds a genuine personal touch that will resonate with all non-racist types. It's also fittingly relevant, given how the events of Civil War II is built around what some asshole MIGHT do rather than what they actually do. It's a bad sign for Kamala. For those of us who like to see Kamala confront tough situations and punch them in the dick, it's as good a sign as any.

Flash forward several decades, sift through a few stock market crashes and Presidential scandals, and we catch up with Ms. Marvel. At the moment, she's as happy as a stoner in a potato chip factory. She just got called to Alpha Flights awesome space station base by her idol, Carol Danvers. It's the equivalent of Jennifer Lawrence asking me to have a beer with her. She's understandably giddy.

Then, she learns about brewing shit storm from Civil War II. This is before it gets so bad that Iron Man and Captain Marvel want to choke each other out in the least sexy way possible. This is when the idea of having someone who can accurately predict the future seems like such a good thing. To Carol, it is and she wants to make use of it. Moreover, she wants Ms. Marvel to be at the front of the line in turning Ulysses' predictions into results that save lives. Naturally, Ms. Marvel has almost no reservations. Her idol is asking her to save lives and be more awesome. That's like Ryan Reynolds asking me to smoke weed with him. You just don't say no to something like that.

Captain Marvel doesn't send Ms. Marvel into the shit storm without some rubber boots either. To make use of Ulysses' predictions, she assembles a team for her. Granted, that team isn't exactly an army of Wolverine clones, but it's better than nothing. Ms. Marvel loves it because it means she has graduated to having side-kicks. Unlike Aquaman, hers don't include talking dolphins. They're basically a bunch of idealistic, hipster types with only a fraction of the douche-baggery. They're willing to work with her to actually make a meaningful difference in places like Jersey City, which is more than 99 percent of most hipster types can say.

Their first assignment involves the leader of the Canadian Ninja Syndicate, Hijinx. No, that's not a joke from Family Guy. Apparently, he's a real character. Even at my most stoned, I could never come up with something like that so whoever is selling weed to Marvel, please keep selling because this leads to Canadian Ninjas stealing tanks. It's every bit as awesome and fucked up as it sounds.

A ninja in a tank is like killer cyborg with a built-in flamethrower. It combines two kinds of deadly shit and makes both more deadly. However, Ms. Marvel and her sidekicks have the edge. They learn from Ulysses that this guy is doing to do a lot of crazy shit, as is to be expected with any mentally unstable asshole in a tank. They also learn that this tank will explode in the middle of Jersey City if they don't stop it. On paper, it's a perfect use of Ulysses' powers. They're not trying to win the lottery or create some Back to the Future II scenario. They're trying to save lives.

It leads to a fun, colorful clash the likes of which make so many issues of Ms. Marvel memorable. Where else are you going to see a Pakistani American teenage girl beat the shit out of a Canadian ninja? Since Ms. Marvel's team has foresight on their side, Hijinx doesn't stand a chance. In fact, he's genuinely surprised that someone caught up with him before he could do much joyriding. He didn't even know it was set to explode. Thanks to Ms. Marvel, he does no greater damage than a drunk redneck in a pickup truck driving down a deserted road. Given the road conditions in certain parts of New Jersey, most people probably won't notice.

It's another clear epic win, thanks to Ulysses. We saw it in Civil War II. Now, Ms. Marvel gets a taste of it and just like before, it all seems so clean and efficient. It's still kind of fucked up, heroes saving the day without destroying half a city. Maybe it's just a big middle finger to everyone who bitched about Avengers and Man of Steel, but it sends the same powerful message. Having foresight makes kicking ass insanely efficient.

Sadly, Ms. Marvel gets a major buzzkill from her triumph, courtesy of her friend Tyesha. In terms of friends, she strikes me as the kind that flushes your weed down the toilet when the mailman knocks on the door. That said, she brings up a few uncomfortable nuggets with Ms. Marvel. Apparently, Hijinx is going to be tried for shit he might have done with that tank and not just the shit he actually did. Tyesha rightly points out the parallels between this and the whole tough-on-crime shit that certain places endured during a time when Bill Clinton was getting a few too many blowjobs.

It's a relevant issue and one Kamala can't ignore. There are real-world examples of people being charged with shit they might have done and most of that shit is just thinly veiled racism that even the most ardent Trump supporters can see through. Being a minority herself, which is something Captain Marvel can't say being a hot blonde, it bothers Kamala. However, she still sides with her idol and the side of saving lives. That makes sense. She's a teenager. She hasn't yet learned the extent to which authority types will go to screw minorities over.

Ms. Marvel continues to operate Captain Marvel's new team, using Ulysses' predictions to stop crimes before they happen. This includes roughing up some guy who was just thinking about robbing a grocery store. Yeah, he was just thinking about it. As someone who thinks about a lot of dirty shit when I haven't had my coffee, this bothers me. However, Ms. Marvel still isn't bothered enough to step back. Then, her team shows up and says there's a much bigger shit storm on the horizon and it involves her school. Bear in mind, this is the same school that was infested with Loki's golems at one point. They've already endured one too many shit storms and Ms. Marvel isn't about to let another one pass.

That's when she finally gets the kind of dramatic gut punch that every teenager gets at some point. For most, it's being rejected by a prom date or finding out the cost of going to college. For Kamala, it involves one of her friends and classmates being the catalyst for the coming shit storm. Specifically, it's Josh, a recovering douche-bag from the early issues of this series. That means to prevent a crime, Kamala Khan may have to screw over a friend who is actively trying to not be an asshole anymore.

In terms of tough positions, this one couldn't be tougher without grinding against John Cena's chest muscles. It puts Ms. Marvel in the kind of position that brings out the best in her, but it's also the same position that almost guarantees heartbreak. It's a tough lesson for teenagers to learn, heartbreak and tough decisions. At least Kamala Khan gets to confront this situation with her pants on. Some teenagers aren't so lucky. it awesome?

A big part of Ms. Marvel's awesome comes from her lovable, fangirl nature and this issue definitely captures that. More importantly though, it also captures the primary themes of Civil War II and puts them into practice. There's no debate, discussion, or bitching. The setup in Ms. Marvel #8 is that she still trusts her idol, Carol Danvers. She willingly puts her agenda into action and it has results. Then, it gets personal and just like that, she puts herself in a perfect position for a dramatic gut punch that Carol helps set up.

Once again, G. Willow Wilson is masterful in setting up drama and making Kamala Khan the most lovable character that isn't a talking animal or a singing princess. Her interactions with Carol Danvers bring out the best in her, but this time it puts her in a shitty position. It's like Buffalo Bills fans watching a replay of Super Bowl XXV. You know how it's gonna end. You know it's gonna hurt. Yet you still can't look away. Like a flaming pile of shit in the middle of the freeway, it's bound to be a spectacle for all the wrong reasons, but those kinds of spectacles are when Ms. Marvel is at her best.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, June 17, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 137: Outer Limits Part 1 PREVIEW!

It’s another vital part of the X-men mythos. It’s a huge element of their appeal. It’s something I’ve been building towards since X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. Well, it’s finally about to happen. The X-men are about to take a cosmic journey in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. The Shi’ar, Lilandra Neremani, the Starjammers, and the Phoenix Force are set to converge in one of the biggest, most sci-fi arc to date of this fanfiction series. It has taken a while, but I hope to make it worth the wait.

This is one of those plots that I’ve had brewing in the back of my head for quite a while now. I first introduced the cosmic elements of the X-men when I had Cyclops and Wolverine uncover a crashed Shi’ar ship on Genosha in X-men Supreme Issue 46: Paradise Mystery. That ship offered the first taste of a much larger conflict that has been unfolding in the background of this fanfiction series. It’s a conflict very different than the cosmic themes developed in the X-men comics. I had a very specific idea in mind for the Shi’ar when I began X-men Supreme. While that idea has been tweaked a number of times, the core theme is still the same. That theme will finally manifest in this critical new arc, which I’ve dubbed Outer Limits.

The seeds were already sewn in X-men Supreme Issue 136: Stranger Things. Jean Grey got her first clue as to a larger cosmic conflict, courtesy of the Phoenix Force and Stranger. The Starjammers also entered the picture again, namely Corsair. He and Lilandra are on the run from Lilandra’s devious half-brother, D’ken. Fans of the classic Phoenix Saga will remember D’ken and the extent of his madness. Expect X-men Supreme to take it to a whole other scale.

The timing of these cosmic elements entering X-men Supreme is no accident. There’s a reason I’m revisiting it now and hopefully, that reason will become clear as the arc progresses. It isn’t just the Phoenix elements that I’ve been developing with Jean Grey. This arc will also be critical for Charles Xavier’s ongoing arc. Lilandra’s return couldn’t have come at a worst moment for him. He’s not dying of cancer, but he is still recovering from his crippling addiction to pain pills. He couldn’t be in a worst state to take on a cosmic threat, but that’s exactly what he’ll have to do.

There will be a lot of important characters in this arc. Charles Xavier, Lilandra, the Starjammers, Jean Grey, and the Phoenix Force all have their roles. More importantly though, this arc will reveal a few unique dynamics within the larger context of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. There are certain elements that I want to mix up and tweak to help this fanfiction series stand out from the comics, movies, and cartoons. This arc is just another step in that process, but it’s an important step. What happens in this arc will tie into other major conflicts down the line in X-men Supreme, but it begins here. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should set the stage for the X-men's cosmic journey.

“I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever get a break of any kind ever again,” groaned Bobby, “It’s like rapid fire! We defeat the Mutant Liberation Front and then aliens decide to attack again!”

“They’re not attacking, Bobby. They need our help,” said Piotr, “We should be willing to give it to them. This is far bigger than the Mutant Liberation Front.”

“Remy’s all for charity, but ain’t we got enough bad cards in our deck?” made Gambit, “I ain’t forgotten the whole Star Wars deal these Shi’ar got going on. Is it really a good idea to get caught up in that shit?”

“Ah’d like to spend the week lounging by the pool mahself, but that ain’t our style. Aliens or no aliens, when there’s a problem we don’t run away from it,” said Rogue.

“I do not think we can,” added Piotr, “Comrade McCoy says that this message came directly from Lilandra Neramani. Is she not a friend to which we owe a great deal?”

“She’s gone out of her way for us on more than one occasion. If it wasn’t for her, President Kelly would have ridden the whole anti-mutant bandwagon into the White House. So I guess we owe her,” said Kitty, “She’s also Professor Xavier’s unofficial girlfriend so we’re kind of stuck in the middle.”

“That reminds me. Does she know about the Professor’s condition?” asked Bobby.

“Somehow Ah doubt that came up when she was screaming out her distress call,” said Rogue.

“Well she’s probably going to ask why he’s not here. Who wants to explain that he’s rehabbing from a crippling addiction to pain killers?”

“Not it!” said Kitty quickly.

“Come now, Katya. I expect that from Bobby, but not you,” said Piotr with a slight scold.

“Not it!” said Remy as well, earning a scold from Rogue as well.

It was a sensitive issue, but one that could not be avoided. Lilandra was going to notice Charles Xavier’s absence. She had no idea what he had been going through since she left. It was sure to be devastating. Nobody wanted the grim task of breaking the news to her. No matter how dire her situation, Professor Xavier’s personal problems were bound to effect them.

This was not lost on Hank or Jean as well. They had been keeping in touch with Lilandra and the Starjammer. When they received the signal, it was encrypted in a way that only the computers in the Xavier Institute could decipher. Having worked with Shi’ar technology before, Hank equipped a phone with advanced electronics so they could use it as a beacon. Lilandra told them that they would swing by and pick them up in the ship. She sounded like she was in a major hurry. While they waited, Jean helped him get in touch with the rest of the team.

“Okay, we’ll meet you both there in under a half-hour,” said Jean, who was on her phone talking to Logan, “Make sure you, Betsy, and Miss Munroe are out of the city. We don’t need people reporting any crazy UFO sightings…no, we don’t want that either. I also called Scott. He’s going to be waiting for us on Genosha…yes, he’ll have to be involved. We’re already working out a plan. I’ll fill you in on the details once we pick you up…I will. Tell Betsy she can resume her search for Warren later. We need everybody for this.”

“That’s an appropriate assessment if ever there was one,” said Hank, who was making a few tweaks on his phone.

“Try explaining that to them,” said Jean as she put away her phone, “Logan didn’t appreciate having to cancel his day with Laura. I think I heard thunder in the background so Ororo isn’t too happy either.”

“She’s still involved with James Proudstar, isn’t she?” said Hank, his tone shifting a bit.

“You sound worried,” she pointed out, “Even when alien conflicts are catching up with us again, your ex-girlfriend still gets your attention.”

“I apologize if my mindset is a bit fragile. I could say the same for you too, Jean.”

The young psychic did a worse job hiding her anxious state than Hank did in hiding his concerns for his ex-girlfriend. Everyone had noticed it. She had been pretty detached since before this even began. She couldn’t blame it on a lack of sleep anymore. Her dreams about Stranger and the connection she felt to this conflict all too apparent.

“If you can handle it, so can I,” said Jean, “Where are we with the Starjammer?”

“I appreciate you changing the subject to something more pertinent,” said Hank as he turned his attention back to his phone, “According to the beacon, the Starjammer is on it’s final approach. It’s heavily cloaked so it won’t draw attention from the authorities. However, that may be somewhat superfluous assumption.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Jean warily.

“Corsair and Lilandra are assuming that the best human technology can’t keep up with a Shi’ar cloaking device. I don’t think they got the news that humanity gained some additional ground when Genosha started selling it. So there’s a chance that someone was able to pick up on the Starjammer.”

“Well I don’t see any black helicopters. That counts as a good sign, right?”

“That’s still assuming too much,” said Hank, “Near as I can tell, it hasn’t caused any anomalies on the electromagnetic spectrum. That doesn’t mean they’ll go completely undetected.”

“Let’s hope everyone is still hung over from the Mutant Liberation Front,” said Jean, “If we’re lucky we’ll link up with Lilandra, help her out with whatever she needs, and be done with it before J. J. Abrams makes a movie about it.”

“Did you really just use the world lucky in a sentence, Jean?” said Kitty, “I can tell by your tone that even you don’t believe it’ll be that easy.”

“Is it so much to ask for?” she said, tensing at the idea of more complications.

“I would say so,” said Hank as he put away his phone, “Lilandra said the Shi’ar rebellion was in peril. Her half-brother, D’ken, has become desperate in a way that would make even Magneto nauseous. She needs our help getting the Starjammer fixed so she can get back to the rebels. She may also need our help dealing with whatever D’ken is preparing.”

“If that means going into space and playing Luke Skywalker, I think we’ll need a fair warning,” said Bobby, “We have a hard enough time dealing with psychotic tyrants here on Earth.”

“We may not have a choice,” said Hank ominously, “If what Lilandra told me is accurate, D’ken’s madness could affect Earth as well as countless other worlds. There’s no telling what sort of nefarious forces he’s conjured!”

“We have a better idea than we think,” said Jean, her eyes flaring with cosmic flames.

“What do you mean?” asked Piotr, who noticed this flare along with the others.

Whenever Jean flashed the Phoenix Force unexpectedly, it was usually a bad sign. She had already been acting strangely. If there was something as dangerous as a cosmic entity involved, it was almost too terrifying to contemplate. Hank was about to ask her again when a sharp gust of wind blew through the area.

“They’re here,” said Jean, her eyes still flashing.

The X-men looked up and saw a large area of the sky become wavy and distorted. Within moments, it revealed the imposing form of the Starjammer. The cloaking device that had shrouded its re-entry was lifted. It kicked up more wind as it hovered over the area, the vertical thrusters rustling the nearby trees. From the underbelly of the craft, an entrance ramp opened to reveal a figure standing within the ship. It was Lilandra and she looked even more beleaguered than she did before she left.

“It’s good to see you again, X-men,” she greeted, “I don’t mean to sound bossy, but you must get in! We need to pick up the rest of your teammates!”

“I’m okay with skipping the formalities,” said Kitty, “Unless Jean isn’t done freaking us out.”

“Ungh…not a good time, Kitty,” said Jean, clutching her head.

“You sure you’re okay, sugah?” said Rogue with a concerned glance.

“I’m fine!” she said, shaking it off, “She’s right. We should get going.”

“Much as I enjoy arguing with a stubborn psychic, I’m inclined to agree,” said Hank, who was already making his way up the ramp, “We had best stay on the move if this marvelous piece of alien engineering is to avoid detection.”

“If you say so, teach,” sighed Remy, “Never you mind how much bad voodoo be following us.”

“Does voodoo even apply to aliens?” said Bobby dryly.

“Call it what you want, Drake. At some point someone’s gonna have to stop and think about what’s going on. That way we ain’t so shocked when it bites us in the ass.”

It was all happening so fast. Lilandra wasn’t giving them much time to take in their new role in this alien plot. She rushed them onto the Starjammer, eager to make up for lost time. Remy, Bobby, Rogue, Kitty, and Piotr followed Hank onto the ship. Jean needed a brief moment to gather herself.

In addition to being rushed, this ordeal was not helping Jean’s strained mind. For a moment the Phoenix Force flared in a way she hadn’t experienced before. It was not unlike the feeling she experienced in her dreams with Stranger. Looking up at the ship, she felt the same chill down her spine. It was like Lilandra’s unexpected return was connected to Stranger’s warnings. The feeling lingered as she followed the others on board. Along the way, she confronted the older woman’s anxious gaze.

“Where’s Charles? Are we picking him up as well?” asked Lilandra intently.

These cosmic elements of X-men are just one of the many methods for making the X-men Supreme fanfiction series a more complete series as a whole. There are so many elements that go into making the X-men mythos great. While there’s no way for me to capture every one of them into a single fanfiction series, that’s not going to stop me from trying. So as I explore the cosmic side of X-men in X-men Supreme, it’s vital that I get feedback on my efforts. Is what I’m doing working? Am I failing miserably? Please tell me! Post your feedback directly in each issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat and learn new ways to make X-men Supreme as awesome as it deserves to be. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Uncanny X-men #8: Nuff Said!

Ever try to judge a pizza after smoking a shit ton of weed? Well, I wouldn't advise that in places outside of Denver, but I will say that being buzzed as fuck makes everything taste pretty damn awesome, be it pizza or some half-eaten cookie you find under the bed. I say this because I'm still fucking buzzing after X-men: Apocalypse. How could I not? It was an X-men movie that didn't suck or turn Wolverine into a total pussy. I still have a raging fucking boner from it and no, I'm not calling my doctor.

I say this because it may end up coloring my reviews for Apocalypse Wars. And no, I'm not going to fucking apologize for it. X-men: Apocalypse is the first X-men movie that didn't have Deadpool that didn't make me want to dry heave. So my thoughts on Uncanny X-men #8 are bound to be skewed as fuck. Again, I'm not apologizing for it. If it sounds like I'm ready to kiss Cullen Bunn's boot, then so be it.

You can say a lot about Magneto's team of renegade X-men. Sure, they're not winning any prizes by Amnesty International anytime soon, but they do have a kickass base in the Savage Land and they have their own killer Arcangel. That has to count for something, right? That killer Arcangel has shown his worth in this series so far. Granted, he's still a mindless drone with a mental capacity on par with a brain-damaged Kardashian, but he gets the job done and he's the one who helped kickstart Magneto's involvement in Apocalypse Wars. He's still waiting in the wings, waiting for a chance to contribute. After his limited role in X-men: Apocalypse, I think he's itching to do something more.

Psylocke is already doing Olivia Munn proud. The fine folks of Akkaba City think it's a good idea to throw Magneto and Psylocke into a prison cell. They're right up there with people who think it's a good idea to serve beer at a shooting range. Of course Psylocke breaks out. Of course she kicks the everloving shit out of the minions who try to stop her. She's a fucking horsemen in X-men: Apocalypse. Anything less than kicking omega-level ass puts us all on Olivia Munn's shit list.

Those hapless minions, however, aren't as mindless as typical Bond villain henchmen. They offer a telling clue as to what they're up against. This began with a freaky cult in the middle of Colorado, as if there aren't enough of those in a state where weed is legal. These guys are willingly brainwashed, keyword willingly. Like any cult, they think there's something holy about being irradiated by Genocide and turned into a walking tumor. Given how some cults manage to avoid paying taxes while screwing over adherents, sometimes literally, I can't say this cult is any more devious than others.

Psylocke goes looking for Magneto. She finds Genocide and an overly hippie-version of Angel, who seems overly comfortable working with someone like Genocide. Again, that's the power of cults. If it can convince people that magic underwear is real, then it can convince people of anything.

So what could be worse than seeing Angel rub elbows with Genocide? Well, there actually is something that's way fucking worse. His name is Fantomex. Yes, it's that Fantomex. He shot a kid in the head and got to bone Psylocke. Sure, he's an omega level douche, but one you have to respect on some levels. Psylocke, however, respects him as much as Willie Nelson respects the IRS. Things did not end well between them to say the very least. They're both inclined to kill each other and not in a sexy sort of way.

Psylocke and Fantomex have plenty of baggage that they can only work out with gratuitous violence. They aren't the only ones though. While exploring a new Morlock society, Monet and Sabretooth learn that Monet's deranged and demonic brother is back in action. Gratuitous violence is really the only healthy way she can deal with a sibling like him. It's only slightly less fucked up than some of the family feuds on Jerry Springer, but it doesn't make gratuitous violence less entertaining. Sorry, One Million Moms.

Basically, Monet's brother, Emplate, is using evil creatures to snatch up mutants so he can feed on them like non-Twilight vampire. It's simple, but it makes for plenty of brutal action. It's a big part of the appeal in Uncanny X-men and making it a family affair only adds to that appeal. Since Monet only recently became at least as relevant as Squirrel Girl in the comics again, it's an appeal that feels overdue.

By that same token, Psylocke kicking Fantomex's phony French ass is more overdue than Half-Life 3. There's some confusion as to why the fuck Fantomex is even in Akkaba City. There is some other ongoing plot involving him and Mystique that has been unfolding in other issues. However, none of that is relevant here. None of it even connects effectively. So in terms of details, this makes as much sense as an OJ Simpson alibi. In terms of entertainment value though, this is right up there with watching Tron on weed.

There's nothing overly elaborate here. Psylocke and Fantomex beat the shit out of each other. They're bitter ex-lovers. They're not on the same team. One of them may even be working for Akkaba City. It doesn't matter. They have more than enough reason to kill one another. For those who forgot or are too lazy to do a simple Google search, there's a nice little recap of their recent history, going back to Uncanny X-Force, a series I reviewed in full and one that you should totally fucking read. At the risk of giving myself too huge a boner, I'll just say that these two screwed each other over in the worst and best ways. The worst ways just left a bigger impression.

The fighting is brutal, drawn out, and overly elaborate. It's also entertaining as fuck. There's a lot of talk and a lot of confusion. They at least try to figure out how the fuck they ended up in Akkaba City. They only learn that at some point, Magneto helped Fantomex put himself back together again. He then wisely kept him and Psylocke as far away from one another as possible. It's smart, but pointless. Bitter ex-lovers will find each other the same way sharks find wounded seals.

Whatever Magneto's role and whatever the details may be, most of it is lost in the gratuitous violence, albeit in the best possible way. That said, there is a clear winner and angry feminists can exhale. It's Psylocke who wins. She's a psychic ninja. Fantomex is a living weapon/douche. She has the edge. She also still has to find Magneto and do something about this Akkaba cult before they employ too many lawyers. Whether she succeeds or not, I think she'll still see kicking Fantomex's ass as part of a victory.

It's hard to say if Monet feels the same way about her brother. After kicking the shit out of his creatures, she tracks him to his cozy little lair. Along the way, she explains how he needs to feed on mutants to stay anchored in this reality. At a time when mutants are going extinct yet again, that's kind of a big fucking problem. She even suspects that's why he called out to her. Maybe he just wants to hug his sister. Or maybe he just wants to devour her too. With deranged siblings, it can go either way.

They eventually find them. They see he's uglier than the reviews of the last Fantastic Four movie. After what he did to the Morlocks, they're more than inclined to kick his ass and Monet has to not enjoy it too much. Then, much to their surprise, he claims he doesn't want to fight them. He says he wants them to save him. I'm confused and a little high, but still intrigued. Again, this a deranged sibling they're dealing with here. If Game of Thrones has taught me anything, it's that deranged siblings are capable of all sorts of kinky shit.

It's a lot less kinky for Pyslocke, sadly enough. After kicking Fantomex's ass in a way that'll make her panties wet for days, she goes back to her mission to finding Magneto and Angel. Once again, her mission gets derailed when she encounters something so horrific that she can't help but call out to Arcangel. No, it's not another bitter ex-lover, as horrifying as that might be. It's a room full of deformed Angel clones. I assume Psylocke keeps in touch with Peter Parker. She knows that deformed clones are fucking terrifying so who can blame her when she overreacts?

This finally brings Arcangel back into the picture. While the details throughout this issue are scattered and disjointed, this one vital detail that kickstarted the whole story remains intact. Arcangel knows that Psylocke is in trouble. He probably knows that she just kicked her ex-boyfriend's ass and is probably horny as hell. Even with the forces of Apocalypse being involved, I can't think of anyone or anything that can keep him from getting to her. Mindless drone or not, you have to respect that on some levels. it awesome?

Well nearly half the issue depicts Psylocke kicking Fantomex's ass. That alone makes it worth the sticker price. As to why they're fighting or why Fantomex is in Akkaba City, that's kind of unclear, but you really don't need to know that to enjoy it. Sure, you need to know that for the story to have depth, but it's still entertaining as fuck and the best part of this issue. Hell, I could read a whole arc of Psylocke kicking Fantomex's ass and be one happy motherfucker.

Beyond that though, the story doesn't move forward very much in Uncanny X-men #8. It still moves forward though. That's way more than I can say about most Spider-Man comics these days. The two plots involving the Morlocks and Akkaba City are still disconnected, but they have their moments and Cullen Bunn finds ways to inject drama into both. So while I may be buzzed as fuck by X-men: Apocalypse, I can only be so generous in assessing these comics in a meaningful way. I know some of you people rely on my drunken ass to assess these comics for awesome and I take that job pretty damn seriously.

Final Score: 7 out of 10