Friday, September 30, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 142: Paranoid Paradigm PREVIEW!

What happens when the X-men disappear for six weeks? That’s a distressing question to ask. Take away X-men Supreme’s main heroes and what happens to the world? How bad can it get? It’s a disturbing question to ask, but one that has to be answered. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series took an extended trip to the cosmos with the Outer Limits arc. The X-men battled the Shi’ar, reunited with Lilandra Neramani and the Starjammers, stopped D’ken, and saved the universe. That’s all well and good, but they were gone for six weeks. A lot can happen in six weeks, especially in a world without X-men.

It’s not like the X-men left Earth in an overly-stable condition to begin with. The world is still recovering from the wave of attacks orchestrated by Toad and the Mutant Liberation Front. This has put increasing strain on the X-men’s relationship with President Kelly and General Grimshaw. While the X-men were able to stop Toad, the threat created by the Mutant Liberation Front didn’t end and the damage they caused left some scars. It certainly didn’t help that Charles Xavier had to step down from his role with the X-men to combat an addiction to pain killers, leaving the trust between the X-men and their allies tenuous state at best.

Then, there’s Genosha. How many times has a crisis come out of Genosha? It’s not enough Cameron Hodge once used this island to make Sentinels. It’s not enough it became the host for the Cambrian either. It’s not even enough that this is where the X-men had their first encounter with the Shi’ar back in X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. Throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, Genosha has been ground zero for multiple crises. This time is no exception, but for a very different set of reasons.

Genosha is a powder keg right now and for once, it has nothing to do with Magneto. Wanda Maximoff has already endured her share of struggles in running this country in her father’s absence. She actually worked with the X-men and General Grimshaw to create a treaty that would foster peace by selling Genosha’s alien Warlock technology. For a time, it worked and the X-men did their part to help make it work. Then, the Mutant Liberation Front came along and attacked. Wanda Maximoff’s half-sister, Polaris, died because of that attack. She’s already in a vulnerable state. On top of that, one of the Warlock factories on the island got blown in the Outer Limits arc, leaving Genosha vulnerable.

So what happened after the X-men’s fateful and unplanned departure that left Genosha so shocked? What happened over the course of the next six weeks and how bad did it really get? What happens when the X-men are caught up in a mission that makes them disappear for this long? These are all tough questions to ask and they tend to get overlooked in the X-men comics. I won’t be overlooking them in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. That’s why I’ll be crafting the next issue entirely around this six-week gap.

That’s right. No waiting over a year to find out what happened off-panel. X-men Supreme does things differently. It doesn’t something so callous and crude, like skipping ahead a full eight months and killing a major character off-panel. The next issue will answer that. It’ll touch on what happened with Genosha, the Scarlet Witch, Mystique, General Grimshaw, and President Kelly. It’ll also set the stage for the next major challenge in X-men Supreme. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should offer a hint of just how bad things got in the X-men's absence.

“Mr. President, we need to formulate a measured response,” said the Secretary of State, “Genosha is operating under the assumption that the alien craft was an attack of sorts.”

“How could they possibly blame us for this?” asked one of the Joint Chiefs, “Do they think we’re in league with aliens or something?”

“It’s not as unreasonable as it sounds,” said Agent Brand, “We didn’t warn them of the incoming threat. It resulted in them losing one of their biggest Warlock facilities.”

“Which could effectively derail the recovery process we worked so hard to organize,” said the Secretary of Defense, “They’ve already ceased the export of all major Warlock components. They claim they need that technology for themselves now.”

“I’ll believe that when Congress votes against their next pay raise,” said another Joint Chief dryly.

“Forget the technology for a moment,” said President Kelly, “What did we find out about that alien ship? It wasn’t here on a sight-seeing trip. Was its sole purpose to fuck up the entire geopolitical landscape?”

“That’s doubtful, sir. These things never show up without a reason,” said Abigail Brand, who had more experience with this than anyone in the room, “From what we’ve gathered, this alien vessel was likely a rogue of sorts. We suspect it may have been damaged. That’s why it went to Genosha. SWORD concluded long ago that the Warlock technology that Magneto unlocked was alien in nature.”

“We don’t know that for sure, Agent Brand,” said the Secretary of Defense skeptically.

“It makes the most sense, which says quite a lot. This incident seems to confirm it,” said General Grimshaw, “I suspect the leadership of Genosha knows this as well, even though they’ve been coy about it.”

“If they’re aware of these aliens, why would they accuse us of plotting against them?” wondered the Secretary of State.

“Perhaps they’re afraid of losing their leverage,” surmised General Grimshaw, “They know that Warlock technology is a valuable asset. The world is becoming more dependant on it now that their technology has been plugged into the power grid. They may think we’re trying to make contact with the aliens so we can gain control this asset ourselves.”

“It would be so brilliant if it wasn’t utter hogwash,” sighed President Kelly, “Do we have any hope of convincing them that we’re not conspiring with aliens?”

“Well when you put it like that, it sounds simple,” said Agent Brand, “The problem is we’re not just dealing with Wanda Maximoff anymore. We’re dealing with Alex freakin’ Summers and he’s not nearly as reasonable.”

“For crying out loud, the kid’s a punk! How can we expect him to be reasonable?” exclaimed the Secretary of Defense.

“He’s also the younger brother of Cyclops from the X-men. He has a pedigree for this sort of thing,” General Grimshaw reminded, “He once rallied District X into a full blown riot. He knows how to lead and to provoke. We would be wise to take him seriously.”

“So then why don’t we call up the X-men and have them talk some sense into him? Don’t we still have Xavier on speed dial?” asked one of the Joint Chiefs.

“That’s where it gets a little dicey,” said Agent Brand, “I tried contacting the institute the moment that alien anomaly started heading towards Genosha. I got no answer. Then a little over a week ago, I get word from one of their former students that Xavier and his students are MIA.”

“That’s a hell of a coincidence. The X-men disappearing right after the shit hits the fan?” said the Secretary of Defense skeptically.

“I doubt it’s a coincidence. I also doubt they’re in any position to help. So I’m assuming they’ve abandoned our partnership,” said President Kelly.

The President felt both betrayed and frustrated. His patience for the X-men had been shaky long before this incident. Now it was practically shattered. He trusted Charles Xavier to be a responsible partner. Then he did irreparable harm to his credibility by getting himself hooked on pain killers.

That wasn’t just a stain on his reputation. It was a stain on the United States government. Every time they gave the X-men a chance, they found a way to slip up. This was not a situation where they could afford a wrong move.

“Mr. President, I’m compelled to remind you of all the times the X-men have come through for us,” said General Grimshaw.

“I haven’t forgotten, General,” said the President, “But I don’t have the luxury of waiting for their excuses here. The X-men are clearly caught up in something and are keeping us out of the loop. So it’s only fair that we do the same. In some ways it might be a good thing. We can show the world that we can confront mutant threats without the X-men.”

“I’m not sure if that’s optimism or cynicism, but I hope there’s a plan behind it,” said Agent Brand.

“The plan is still coming together. For now, our best bet is to show this Summers kid that he’s in over his head,” said President Kelly as he turned to his Joint Chiefs, “Get me in touch with our naval forces around Genosha. I also want a secure line to the captains of the Russian, Chinese, and British ships in the area as well. I want to tighten the hold around the island. Nothing gets in or out until this kid backs down.”

“You’re talking about a full-blown embargo,” said General Grimshaw, “Need I remind you that we tried that kind of embargo on Cuba five decades ago and we’re still waiting for it to pay off?”

“Enough with the reminders, General! I’m the President. This is my decision.”

The room fell silent. The President’s frustration had boiled over. He had been compromising and negotiating at every turn. The results were never permanent. Every resolution was more fragile than the last. He no longer had the patience to watch another compromise blow up in his face.

General Grimshaw could appreciate his sentiment. However, he had been trained to never let his frustrations cloud his judgment. Looking around the room, he saw that the President and his advisors were overwhelmed. This alien anomaly had thrown everything into chaos. The absence of the X-men only made it worse. There was nothing he could say to make the President more reasonable so he had little choice but to carry out his orders.

“I’ll get right on it, sir,” said General Grimshaw.

“I’ll organize an emergency meeting with the UN Security Council as well,” said the Secretary of State, “Should I send Genosha an invite?”

“Don’t bother. As of this moment, all diplomatic relations with Genosha will cease,” said the President, “There will be no more imports or exports from the island. We will no longer allow mutants to immigrate to the country, nor will we allow any of their residents to visit abroad.”

“Sounds like we’re getting ready to declare war,” said the Secretary of Defense.

“I’m just trying to be proactive,” he said, “I want to resolve this as quickly as possible. Between mutant threats and alien visitors, we need one less thing to worry about. Heaven forbid if some other crisis comes up to make everything worse.”

We’re at a time with X-men comics where time skips and off-panel oversights are a bit too common. I don’t want X-men Supreme to fall into those same habits. Since I began this fanfiction series, I wanted to capture the finder details that often get overlooked in the X-men comics. That means filling in time gaps and being extra careful with major character shifts. Like the comics, there will be some major upheavals with certain characters down the line, but I intend to handle these upheavals with the utmost care.

In order to do that, I need to know that I’m not screwing up. That’s where reviews and feedback come in. Make no mistake. They really are important. I take feedback and reviews very seriously. I want X-men Supreme to be as awesome as it can be. I need feedback and reviews to ensure this. So please take the time to review X-men Supreme. Either contact me directly with your comments or post them in the issue. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Devastaingly Dramatic In The Best Possible Way: Saga #38

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

When it comes to epic space operas, an entire generation of sci-fi fans is at a disadvantage. They live in a world where it seems that the only games in town are either Star Wars or Star Trek. Between the box office returns of Star Trek: Beyond and the glut of toys from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there's this flawed impression that there's no room for more space operas. Brian K. Vaughan is out to prove that notion wrong and Saga keeps finding ways to reinforce that proof.

There are few non-superhero-basic stories that garner all the right praise for all the right reasons. Saga proves that great comics need not involve superhero civil wars, constant retcons and reboots, or sterility plagues. It can simply be an epic journey between two lovers from different worlds. The fact it occurs in an alien world with exotic creatures, including an entire race of humanoids with TVs for heads, is just a nice bonus.

Saga is unique in its structure in that it undergoes various twists and turns. There are times when it focuses on certain characters and side-plots more than others, but resists the temptation to create a spin-off series that would further complicate the narrative. That's a temptation that Marvel and DC Comics are all too eager to succumb to these days. Some plots, however, resonate more than others and help bring out the best in Saga.

The narrative of Saga #38 takes it a step further by setting up a new dimension of drama and capping it off with the kind of emotional gut punch that lingers for weeks. Saga gains much of its strength from heavy drama. Whether it's Marko and Alana being separated from their daughter or adorable furry creatures getting horribly maimed, Vaughan makes a concerted effort to leave a dramatic scar on the audience. The scar left by Saga #38 is sure to fester for quite some time.

The stage for this impact is set with a familiar situation. Marko and Alana are on the run again, trying to protect their daughter, Hazel, from a long list of unsavory and exotic characters. They end up stranded on Phang, a comet that also happens to be one of the many warzones in this exotic world. In a series where trees fly and TVs count as heads, this setting feels perfectly appropriate.

Like many other warzones in Saga, this one has its share of civilians turned refugees. It's easy to sympathize with these characters and not just because the real world has its share of refugee issues. These refugees also happen to be a race of small, furry woodland-like creatures with the sad eyes of a panda. Even the most ardent xenophobe can't deny the impact of such inherent cuteness.

The presence of cuddly, furry creatures who also happen to be war refugees add some new dynamics to the narrative. They don't just become part of Alana and Marko's struggle. They convey a powerful sentiment, helping those ravaged by war. Marko frames it as a lesson to his daughter about helping others, but it's a lesson that everyone of any age can appreciate.

In addition to conveying the real-world lessons that too few heed, Saga #38 uses this new situation to develop Hazel in an important way. For a good chunk of Saga's narrative, she's just the adorable half-breed child stuck between two worlds trying to tear her family apart. Like every adorable child, though, there will be times when that youthful purity gives way to being a little brat.

Hazel, who finally makes some new friends with the refugees, lets this moment come at the worst possible time. As many kids learn at some point in their lives, making new friends can sometimes drive old friends away. In this case, that old friend is Izabel, who has been her ghost/babysitter since she was a baby. This helps set up the dramatic impact that makes Saga #38 a true testament to its admittedly bloated genre.

What happens to Izabel is very much a, "Luke, I am your father," type moment, albeit from a different angle. There's no bitter fight or epic light-sabre battle. Instead, there's a tragedy in play, one that begins innocently enough and then goes horribly wrong. It gains even greater weight when Izabel makes it clear how loyal she is to Marko, Alana, and their family. She credits them with showing her a universe that she never got to see in life. That makes what happens to her truly devastating in terms of drama.

The impact isn't just felt by the audience. It's felt by Hazel too. It's very much a shared impact, one that preys on the connections that these characters have made with one another. It lacks the gratuitous violence and bold callousness that Game of Thrones uses to make an impact. What it lacks in blood though, Saga #38 more than makes up for in heart.

That heart is, by far, the greatest strength of Saga #38 and Saga as a whole. There are other elements at work within the narrative, but some of them are muted. Side-plots involving Gwendolyn and The Will don't progress by much, but at the very least, their presence reaffirms their relevance. It ensures that they are still part of a larger narrative that's hard to keep up with at times, but that's appropriate because the promise of more dramatic impacts makes the added scrutiny feel worth it.

If the true success of any space opera is its ability to inject heart into exotic sci-fi settings, then Saga is already wildly successful. It makes it so easy to develop an attachment and fondness for each character. Saga #38 further supplements these elements by making it feel personal. It may not be personal enough to inspire sequels, prequels, and its own rides at Disney World, but it's well on its way.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Extraordinary X-men #14: Nuff Said!

In the annuls of the X-men, Apocalypse is kind of like circumcision. His presence is kind of a ritual that nobody understands, he tends to leave a lasting impact on the parts of you that really count, and no matter how much you try to ignore him, he finds a way to remind you. Apocalypse Wars did a damn good job of that and not just because it created yet another dystopian future. Extraordinary X-men already has a time traveler and an AU version of Wolverine in it. They know they're fucked. Apocalypse just likes to remind them.

Some reminders are still more frustrating than others. That's what happened with Colossus in Apocalypse Wars. Apocalypse left a mark on him that's only somewhat less distressing than circumcision. Now, his teammate have to unfuck his situation, relative to being a team that lives in a fucking demon realm. In that sense, Extraordinary X-men #14 is doing what it can to make shit shine, but that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining as hell.

So what kind of entertainment value can we get from Iceman and Nightcrawler reaching out to their corrupted friend? Do they have a tender heart-to-heart? Do they all attend therapy together to work out their problems? Fuck no! Colossus kicks their asses. There's definitely entertainment value in that.

Granted, seeing heroes fight other heroes is getting old as fuck. The concept already made a billion-dollar movie. Isn't that enough? Well, at least this fight has a valid context. It's spins directly out of the fight that began in Apocalypse Wars. So it's not like Marvel just pulled another bullshit reason for heroes to fight heroes out of their ass. Colossus is still corrupted by Apocalypse so of course he's going to make it hard on Iceman and Nightcrawler. It's still somewhat generic, but at least it's entertaining and relevant.

If you're sick as hell of watching heroes fight other heroes, this issue does offer something a bit more basic. While Iceman and Nightcrawler go after Colossus, Storm and Magik go after another missing teammate in Sapna. This leads them to the less friendly parts of Limbo and since Limbo is already a fucking demon realm, that should tell you something. Naturally, the end up finding some monsters and magic-wielding assholes who try to get in their way. They even try taking control of Storm in the process. It's every bit as retarded as it sounds. Even in Limbo, demon-loving assholes have a death wish.

It makes for some much more satisfying forms of action that don't involve heroes fighting other heroes. Storm kicks up a big fucking tornado. Keep in mind, this is still Limbo. A tornado in a demon realm is like a flood of piss in a shit storm. It makes things messy, but in a much more awesome, much less stinky sort of way. It gives her and Magik the chance to ditch these generic D-listers so they can go back to jerking off to demon porn or whatever they do in Limbo.

It's not very elaborate. It's not very epic either, but it really doesn't have to be. Colossus fighting Nightcrawler and Iceman isn't supposed to be a fight scene from the Matrix. Storm and Magik's fight isn't supposed to be on par with a dick-measuring contest against the Hulk either. They're basic skirmishes and they're nothing special. They're not really that connected either. They're basically warm beer in that it doesn't taste as good as it could, but it'll still get the job done.

Aside from the fighting, there's another side-plot in between involving Forge and Apocalypse. This one does actually have some connections in that Apocalypse is the key to undoing this horsemen shit with Colossus. So there it does contribute meaningfully to the plot. However, this form of Apoclaypse isn't nearly as menacing or imposing as his predecessors so it's not like anyone is shitting themselves in his presence.

This doesn't stop him from busting Forge's balls. Despite being a old far that even Oscar Isaac couldn't make sexy, he's still trying to recruit new horsemen to do his bidding. He even tempts Forge by saying that becoming a horsemen will make Storm want to fuck him again. Not going to lie. That's pretty damn tempting.

Then, Forge does what may be the most awesome thing he could've done, short of inventing a form of beer that never causes a hangover. He duct tapes Apocalypse's mouth shut. It's even more satisfying than it sounds. Forge silenced a mutant tyrant demigod with fucking duct tape. Seriously, is there anything duct tape can't fix?

Perhaps Nightcrawler and Iceman should've brought some duct tape with them because they basically get their asses handed to them by Colossus. That's not too surprising. Colossus is strong enough to bench press a jumbo jet and almost tough enough to survive the comments section on a message board. Add Horsemen strength to the mix and they've got no fucking chance.

Even so, it makes for a dull battle. Nightcrawler and Iceman really don't put up much of a fight. There's no scrappy underdog, Mighty Ducks bullshit here. It's just them getting their asses kicked until some backup arrives. However, that backup is led by Glob Herman so it's not like the fight got that much more balanced.

Dull fights are easy to balance out though. It definitely helps to throw in a nice, meaningful conversation between Old Man Logan and O5 Jean Grey in the mix. Now to all you special kind of perverts out there, put your dicks away. It's not THAT kind of conversation. It's meaningful in that it shows just how well O5 Jean Grey can influence people without probing their minds.

Old Man Logan's love life does come up, but they focus on Storm, which makes more sense. They both have white hair after all. I'm sure that's a special porno genre somewhere. However, even though O5 Jean encourages Old Man Logan to get his wrinkly old cock wet again, he doesn't seem fond of the idea of pursuing another woman he's just going to get killed. It's not an unreasonable concern, given how Jeff Lemire has been developing Old Man Logan. It's still telling that O5 Jean brings it up, which makes the exchange feel meaningful and not nearly as lopsided as a fight against Colossus.

As for Storm's own struggles, she has more pressing concerns than who she lets into her panties. She's still on a mission with Magik to find Sapna. They escape the D-list demon lovers. Now, they're in another part of Limbo, which is like being on the other side of an asshole. It's not much of an improvement.

This doesn't stop things from getting more tense. This whole demon shit storm is Magik's mission more than it is Storm's. She's the one who took Sapna under her wing. She's the one who wants to find her and stop her from loving demons a bit too much. It makes for a nice little exchange between her and Storm, which brings out the less demonic part of Magik. At a time when she's often a glorified Uber driver for the X-men, that's pretty damn important.

The tension quickly disappears when Sapna finally shows up. It's not like they find her or fight off a demon horde to rescue her. She just shows up out of the darkness like a kid running from an army of creepy clown. It's random and a little contrived, but it's in a fucking demon realm. It's unreasonable to expect it to make that much sense. Still not as terrifying as an army of creepy clowns though.

Sapna's sudden return makes for a nice little moment between her and Magik, complete with a hug. It has the potential to be one of those moments from a Hallmark card or a bad Julia Roberts movie. Then, you remember that this is taking place in a fucking demon realm. Of course it's going to be short lived. This is where fuzzy bunnies and lovable kittens come to get eaten.

Sapna, proving she's already made out with one too many demons, promptly blasts Magik and Storm. Then, she takes Magik's Soul Sword and uses it to summon a monster right out of bad tentacle porn. It's not actually as terrifying as it sounds. In fact, it's downright muted because this is taking place in a fucking demon realm. Like Colossus kicking the ass of undersized opponents, it's really not that surprising. Sapna is a teenage girl who learned to connect with demons. Short of giving her an unlimited supply of heroin and Nirvana records, she was bound to get this fucked up at some point. it awesome?

Well, it definitely has its moments. Forge putting duct tape over Apocalypse's mouth alone makes this issue worth buying. A nice heart-to-heart between O5 Jean and Old Man Logan on ways for him to hook up with Storm is a nice bonus. Other than that though, not a whole lot really happens here. Iceman and Nightcrawler make no progress with Colossus. Storm and Magik are just pissing into the wind with Sapna. The art is solid and the action is decent, but not all that productive.

I do give points for solid character moments. Those moments are lacking or half-assed in many other comics these days. I can't give too many points for a story that really doesn't move forward by much. There is an ongoing plot here in Extraordinary X-men #14. There are parts of that plot that are interesting, even to a non-sober mind. It just doesn't do enough to warrant genuine awesome. If nothing else, it offers further proof that duct tape can solve 90 percent of all problems.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

X-men 92 #7: Nuff Said!

Think of your favorite combinations. Chocolate and peanut butter. Bacon and eggs. Internet and porn. What makes them so potent? What makes them so awesome? We can't always quantify it, but we know damn sure that it's there. I feel the same way about X-men in space.

I get that their primary goal is to fight for peace and understanding against a bunch of human asshats who like throwing killer robots at them, but there's just something uniquely appealing about the X-men in space fighting aliens like the Brood. Since that's exactly what X-men 92 #7 offers, on top of teaming up with interstellar pop stars no less, I'm giddier than a school girl in a puppy farm. So if I sound like I'm high on crystal meth, that's only partially true at best.

A few folks are going to need some crystal meth because Lila Cheney's concert is dangerously close to becoming another Woodstock 99. Kids, if you don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, Google it and then shoot me because now I feel old. Thanks to that asshat, Fabian Cortez, she and the X-men got teleported across the fucking universe, leaving a fuckton of angry concert-goers back in Westchester. In the grand scheme of things, that's almost as dangerous as a Sentinel attack.

Thankfully, the X-men have backup and those running this concert are slightly more competent than the dumb-asses who ran Woodstock 99. They manage to get X-Factor, a team that includes Havok, Polaris, and a whole lot of other characters who haven't been relevant for a decade, to show up and keep the peace. It's probably not as effective as killer robots, but definitely more preferable.

As for Lila and the X-men, they are cosmically fucked and for once it's not because of the Phoenix Force. They're stuck on a planet far, far away. There are no Gungans or Ewoks so that's something. Unfortunately, Lila is so burned out that she can't teleport them back to Earth and for once, it's not because her band ran out of cocaine. It's a bad situation, but at least they know who to be pissed at.

They all seem to recognize that Fabian Cortez is an omega-level asshole. Even Death's Head, the guy who tried to kill Lila in the last issue, isn't inclined to make this shit storm worse because that would just help Cortez. So all in all, they're pretty fucked, but they're X-men. They're used to it. At least they're not sterilized or cloned or some shit like that.

That still doesn't mean they can't get more fucked over. They're X-men. They always find a way. It's kind of their thing and at least this time, the way doesn't involve a team of racist, xenophobic slave-owners. It involves their old blood-thirsty buddies, the Brood. On top of that, they're a new breed of Brood that seems to have more ways of maiming their enemies. I guess when you're a race of alien bugs, you can never have too many. It's still a classic threat that forces the X-men to be awesome. Again, nobody gets sterilized or time-displaced. I feel that's an accomplishment worth emphasizing these days.

Back on Earth, more backup arrives for X-Factor. When you're dealing with a crowd of pissed off, restless, half-sober concert-goers, you can never have too much. This time, it's Professor Xavier and Jubilee, who were lucky enough to be sitting in the cheap seats when Cortez and Death's Head attacked. They don't just offer another way of dealing with pissed off concert-goers. They also inform them about the kind of asshat they're dealing with here.

Those of you who didn't see the X-men cartoon, and shame the fuck on you if you haven't, may recall that Cortez did show up for a couple episodes. Xavier even offers a brief reminder of the shit he pulled. It's pretty damn important and establishes a solid connection between this series and that iconic cartoon. At a time when the only connections the X-men can make involve time travelers, that's a big fucking deal. For this series, it's just an extra layer of icing on a series that already has plenty.

So they know Cortez is behind this. They also know that he's an omega-level asshole who will choke a puppy if he gets too bored. So where the fuck is he now? Well, he was working with a secret team of Hellfire Club wannabes, including Gamemaster and Trevor Fitzroy, to fuck with the X-men. They've even had some minor success with Alpha Red. So he returns thinking he may get a fresh batch of puppies to strangle.

Well, he's in for a big fucking disappointment, albeit in the best possible way. It turns out, someone found out about his little club and they're familiar figures. If you read the Secret Wars tie-in to X-men 92, and shame the fuck on you again if you haven't, you'll know who they are. They were kind of assholes in that series. Here, they completely redeem themselves by mortally wounding Fitzroy. Hell, that alone makes them more heroic than 99 percent of the characters in Civil War II.

We get connections with the old X-men cartoon. We get connections with the Secret War tie-in. With all these connections, my erection can only get so hard. Well, I may have to take a trip to the ER in 4 hours because Chad Bowers and Chris Sims still aren't done with the connections. They decide my erection can get harder and throw in a new complication into the mix. That complication's name is Adam X.

Who the fuck is Adam X? If you read X-men comics at all in the 90s, you know this name and celebrate it the same way you do every Nirvana song. He and a few familiar mutant buddies, none of which are as extreme as him, decide that government stooges aren't enough to deal with this shit. They need some 90s-era overkill. I can't remember the last time I agreed more outside of a strip club.

As this overtly extreme shit storm is unfolding, the rest of the X-men are keeping things basic with their clash against the Brood. Some forms of awesome just don't need to be extreme. Even in the 90s, the X-men comics understood that. The X-men fighting to Brood is just a nice change of pace from fighting killer robots, time travelers, or racist xenophobic slave-owners. It's fun. It's flashy. It captures all the right elements that are awesome in any era. At a time when heroes can't stop fighting each other for bullshit reasons, this is more refreshing than a cold beer at a baseball game in July. In that sense, I guess my erection can get harder.

It's all so basic, helping to balance out the extreme shit we're getting back on Earth. It could've easily just devolved into another case of the X-men kicking alien ass and getting horny as fuck in the process. Well, Chad Bowers and Chris Sims find a way to throw a little twist into the mix. It's a twist that may strain my erection even more, but at this point I can't say I mind.

It turns out, these Brood they've been fighting aren't the same Brood they're used to. They're actually mutant Brood. That's right. In this world, mutants extend to aliens as well whereas mutants in the mainline comics are being sterilized or retconned. It's the kind of twist that makes Disney's lawyer's cry and it feels so good. These mutant Brood just had the misfortune of meeting Wolverine on a shitty day. That's what triggered the fight. Honestly, it's as simple a misunderstanding as you can get in any X-men comic.

Now, instead of wanting to maim each other, they decide to team up. It turns out, mutant Brood inspire just as much hate as mutant humans. That means mutants and Brood are prepared to work together. That means the Avengers and Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners have even fewer excuses.

So now the X-men have new friends in the form of mutant Brood. It sounds like a fucked up concept, but damn it if it doesn't work in an extreme sort of way, as the 90s often were. It's a concept that's going to have to work because guess who's hunting these mutant Brood in ways that would make a Sentinel jealous? It's another familiar face to the X-men and not in a good way. It's Gladiator of the Shi'ar. Rarely does he ever show up in a manner that doesn't warrant a firm punch in the jaw. The prospect of the X-men beating the shit out of Gladiator again is enough to make my dick an adamantium-laced weapon at this point. For that, I thank you Chad Bowers and Chris Sims. it awesome?

Space adventures, rock concerts, overly extreme characters from a decade that made extreme sports a thing? One of those alone is pretty fucking awesome by any objective measure. Put them all together, throw in a few twists, and you've got yourself an orgy of awesome with two strippers covered in bacon crease in the middle. It's as awesome as it sounds, even if it makes me damn hungry.

X-men 92 is only has three issues left before Marvel prematurely cancels it, as they tend to do with all things that are simply too awesome and/or don't promote the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. X-men 92 #7 makes every goddamn moment count and it does so without sterilizing anyone. The bar for awesome with the X-men these days may be pretty low, but Chad Bowers and Chris Sims are exceeding it anyways by miles on end. They don't need to fuck up the X-men, kill major characters, or piss on established relationships. They just focus on making shit awesome in every possible way. For that, I owe these guys a few beers. We all do.

Final Score: 10 out of 10

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Sexy Side-Project: The New Red Queen

Summer is over. Beaches are empty. Christmas decorations are already popping up in malls. I know. I’m dreading it too. It’s going to get cold again. That means lying naked on my porch, reading comics and soaking up sun, is going to be a lot harder now and not just because the neighbors keep complaining. I’ve always found that it’s easier to have fun when you have the option of taking clothes off. Winter hinders that considerably. For that reason, the time is perfect for another one of my sexy side-projects.

It’s been a while since I’ve done something overly sexy. With the end of Broken Legacy, I’ve had time to flesh out an idea that I hoped to get around to at some point. A while back, I swallowed my current disdain for Peter Parker and wrote a Spider-Man story called “Spider-Man and the Prostitute.” This story basically centered around a few very important tweaks to Spider-Man’s life, namely the life that Mary Jane Watson lived. In case you’ve forgotten, Mary Jane Watson looks like this.

You may have forgotten, but I promise your penis didn’t. For reasons that should be extremely obvious to those with a functioning penis, Mary Jane’s story tends to be more compelling than Peter Parker’s. She looks better in skin-tight outfits, she has more personality, and she doesn’t threaten to quit her job every other week. I took those traits and crafted a new backstory for her, namely one that led her into a life of prostitution. It’s not “Pretty Woman.” It’s not a bad reality show on VH1 either. It’s just a story that allows Mary Jane to be sexy as hell, as she deserves to be.

I got such a good response from that story that I’ve decided to do a sequel. I actually had an idea for a sequel before the first story was even finished. It came when I was developing Mary Jane’s alternate history in this story. I mentioned, at one point, that she worked as a stripper at the Hellfire Club. In case you or your penis have forgotten, that’s the same Hellfire Club where Emma Frost once worked and Emma Frost looks like this.

I’ll give everyone a minute to change their underwear. Done? Well, I’m going to dig a little deeper into that story because as sexy as Mary Jane Watson is, her sexiness can only be enhanced with Emma Frost. There aren’t many women who can come close to matching her. Emma Frost is among those few.

So with that, I’m proud to announce the official sequel to “Spider-Man and the Prostitute.” Just as before, this will be a multi-part series. It takes place shortly after the events of the first story, but there will be plenty of flashbacks along the way that should offer more insight. I’ll try to make sure that insight is sexy as hell. Since it’s going to get cold out soon, I think the timing couldn’t be better.

Just like the last story, this isn’t going to be one of those stories that involves Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin or any shit like that. This story is a sexy side project. That means it’ll emphasize the sexiness in all sorts of ways that aren’t suitable for children or anyone who still watches the shitty cartoons that Disney still airs. If you’re at all offended or uncomfortable with that, then this isn’t for you. You’ll just have to find other ways of staying warm this winter. For everyone else, I hope the extra sexiness warms you up!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Uncanny X-men #13: Nuff Said!

When villains become heroes and heroes become villains, it doesn't always mean the Scarlet Witch got drunk on chaos magic again and inverted everybody. It can also mean that a situation is now so utterly fucked that we can't help but cheer for villains to some extent. For the X-men, who rely heavily on sterilization, time travel, and alternate universes to hold themselves together, I'd say they're fifteen steps past fucked.

That's why I think people are ready to actually root for the Hellfire Club. For once, it won't just be the pro-orgy, pro-corruption, pro-Victorian fashion enthusiasts who will be cheering. The world is basically giving a big middle finger to the mutant race. The Hellfire Club is poised to do the same and get laid in the process. Who wouldn't respect that? They've been operating behind the scenes since Uncanny X-men began under Cullen Bunn. In Uncanny X-men #13, he's finally getting around to digging a little deeper. I'm expecting plenty of orgy and wine to be mixed in. Bet you're not going to get that shit on New Attilan.

Other than orgies and wine, the X-men do show that they can work with the Hellfire Club when corrupt companies and Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are involved. Together, they launch an attack on an oil rig run by the Someday Corporation, the overly shady motherfuckers from the first arc of this series that claimed to help mutants by letting them sleep through this latest shit storm. They suspect that a company that puts mutants in comas may have a less noble agenda. That's like saying Mel Gibson may have an anger management problem.

In the least surprising development since Adam Sandler failed to get nominated for an Oscar, the X-men and their orgy-loving allies are attacked on the rig by a team of weaponized mutants. This makes for some heavy action, complete with some nice little insight from Psylocke, who is basically the one getting most pissed off by this team-up. Seeing that she's on a team with Sabretooth, that's saying something.

It's a fun, gritty battle that's perfectly in line with the battles Magneto's team has fought throughout this series. With the Hellfire Club involved, it becomes even more appropriate. However, they all do keep their clothes on during the fight so maybe there's still room for improvement.

It's not just mindless slap-fighting either. There is a strategy involved here. That strategy involves Mystique doing some sneaky shit behind the scene and being sexy as hell while doing it. That's a damn good strategy by default. It involves singling out one weaponized mutant, sedating him, and letting Arcangel carry him off. I don't know the merit of that strategy, but Mystique is involved so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. Well, that and my penis won't let me do otherwise.

The battle intensifies. The X-men and their new orgy-loving buddies are surrounded. Shit is going south faster than a constipated horse with food poisoning. Then, one of the weaponized mutants gets a psychic message and they leave. It's ominous and vague as fuck, but that's what happens. They just up and leave.

Is it a somewhat disappointing way to end a gritty, visceral clash between X-men and weaponized mutants? Yes, to some degree it is. However, it doesn't come off as completely meaningless because Mystique still succeeds with her strategy. Either the Someday Corporation is just trolling them or they have a strategy of their own. If it leads to Mystique being sneaky and sexy as hell, then I'm all for it.

Once all the weaponized mutants are gone, they enter the belly of the rig and find the same disturbing shit they've found before with Someday. They have mutants in statis tubes, hoping they'll wake up in a future where mutants aren't sterilized, heroes aren't fighting one another, and every hooker looks like Emma Frost. That's probably hoping for way too fucking much, but I can't say I blame them for wanting to sit this shit out.

Again, there's no big surprises here. These people weaponize mutants. Anyone who thinks they're being entirely honest with their business probably buys diet pills from Dr. Oz. Psylocke finds out there's some mind-fucking going on with these mutants and not the fun kind that the Hellfire Club probably enjoys every other Tuesday. Nobody looks surprised, nor should they be. They just know for certain now that more people need to have their heads bashed in.

They return to the Hellfire Club, which also happens to have a research lab that may or may not also act as a porno set. There's more curious insight from Psylocke, whose attitudes towards the Hellfire Club are skeptical at best. I'm sure she doesn't trust any organization that thinks lingerie is a suitable uniform. Then again, she has been on teams with Emma Frost so maybe she's not one to talk.

She remains less focused on those who enjoy one too many orgies and more on the mind-fucking that the Someday Corporation is pulling. She dips into the mind of the mutant they captured from the rig. She finds out he's from Mongolia and his life as a mutant really sucks donkey balls, which is fairly typical in any world where Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners get preferential treatment. He jumps at the chance to find sanctuary with Someday for reasons that are entirely understandable. Even so, he had to know on some levels that they were going to screw him over. It's like getting a loan from Tony Soprano. Somebody is going to break some bones at some point.

It leads to a flashy psychic journey into the mind of an ordinary mutant who doesn't want to be an X-man or live in a world where it sucks this much for mutants. It's a rare insight into the mutant population that gets glossed over/screwed over in X-men comics too often. Having Psylocke enter a mind, wielding her classic costume, and uncovering a painful psychic presence is just a nice bonus that moves the story forward.

Mystique may not share Psylocke's psychic gifts, but she's every bit as good at doing her job and looking sexy as hell in the process. She still has her own strategy and it involves doing what she does best, infiltrating a shady organization and finding ways to screw them over in ways they won't enjoy. It's a beautiful thing. It helped make Jennifer Lawrence's career. I always get a little emotional seeing it.

She's not nearly as charming as Jennifer Lawrence this time around. She gets in, she fights a few guards, and snaps a few necks. That's pretty much Mystique on a Monday. Once she's in, she takes the form of one of the mutant weapons and does a little digging. She ends up finding a surgery center that probably isn't just doing cheap boob jobs. Historically, surgery and mutants are like napalm and meth labs. It's bad combination.

It's also usually a bad combination to have a powerful telepath in the mind of a disturbed mutant. It only helps when one of those telepaths is sexy as hell. The sexiness, however, doesn't protect Psylocke from a little psychic trap. While in the mind of the hapless mutant who just wanted to sleep through this shit storm, she finds out the mind-fucking began shortly after they put him into stasis. That's right. Someday didn't even let him dream about a future where Jean Grey is President, Charles Xavier is the Pope, and Wolverine is Secretary of Whiskey. They just go right to mind-fucking him. Even the folks at Halliburton would say that's cold.

It's painful. It's disturbing. It's also flashy as hell, as are most psychic battles. As Psylocke is trying to dig through this unlucky mutant's mind, Mystique is snapping more necks. She doesn't like being left behind of course she's going to overcompensate. It's part of what makes her so skilled and sexy. She tries fighting off the asshats in the surgery room while Psylocke tries to find the source of the mind-fucking. It gets a little chaotic and a little confusing, as do most things that involve mind battles and shape shifters. Again, it helps when the characters involved are sexy as hell so at least there's entertainment value.

In the end, it's Mystique who uncovers the source of the mind-fucking. She's competitive. She's not going to let a purple-haired ninja beat her to the punch. That's what makes her so damn good at her job. However, she may regret being so damn good because the source of the mind-fucking isn't someone whose neck is easily snapped. It's Exodus.

Remember this asshole? He's powerful. He's mean. He looks like he lost one too many fights with a tanning both. He's also a powerful psychic and someone who actively looks for excuses to piss off the X-men. His presence is intriguing in that it exposes some secrets about the Someday Corporation. It also hints that there may be another battle between X-men and Exodus. I guess it beats the hell out of them fighting other heroes for once. it awesome?

I guess that depends on how intrigued you are on any story that involves Exodus mind-fucking people. Personally, I find that shit pretty damn intriguing. Magneto is no boy scout, but Exodus is right up there with tobacco lobbyists and traffic cops in terms of being an asshole. Cullen Bunn has been weaving all sorts of vague mysteries surrounding the Someday Corporation since Uncanny X-men began. I took 13 issues, but we finally have some answers and I can now say it was worth the wait.

Like a slow-burning candle that fills a room with the scent of peppermint and chocolate, Uncanny X-men #13 took a while to get noticeably awesome. It drags at times and gets a little disorganized. However, it still finds a way to make your asshole clench for all the right reasons. It also gives you a damn good reason to pick up the next issue. For the good of the series and the good of Disney's accountants, that's a win in my book.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Infighting With Underdogs: Civil War II: X-men #4

The following is my review of Civil War II: X-men #4, which was posted on

A balanced conflict goes a long ways towards crafting a compelling narrative. While it is possible for an arm-wrestling context between the Hulk and Howard the Duck to be entertaining, it's not a struggle that's going to be all that interesting. Civil War II goes to great lengths to create a conflict in which the divisions between characters are genuine, understandable, and intriguing. It's as balanced as any conflict can be and it doesn't even need time travel, magic, or deals with Mephisto.

Creating a balanced conflict in Civil War II: X-men is already a challenge. Before Civil War II even begins, the X-men and the entire mutant race are stuck playing a rigged game while handicapped. They're on the brink of extinction yet again. They're despised, sterilized, and a good chunk of their top characters are either dead, time displaced, or holdovers from an apocalyptic universe. Even by underdog standards, the X-men are depleted in terms of what they can bring to a conflict.

This makes the tone of Civil War II: X-men so distinct compared to other tie-ins. The X-men already lost one war against the Inhumans. Now, they have Ulysses, whose precognition powers may as well be cheat codes. Cullen Bunn goes to great lengths drawing the lines between the X-men, crafting some level of balance between those who want to work with the Inhumans and those who feel they have one too many advantages at this point. Civil War II: X-men #4 maintains that balance for the most part, but doesn't take it far enough.

There's nothing elaborate or subtle about the narrative. This final clash between Magneto's team and Storm's team is effectively streamlined into a single, simple clash. It's light on drama, but solid on details. Andrea Broccardo's art makes this clash visually engaging and well-organized. Mutant battles tend to get chaotic, but since this one doesn't involve time travelers, it's a lot easier to follow.

While the infighting makes up the bulk of the story, it's Magneto who gives the narrative some personal dimensions. More than any other character in this tie-in, he establishes himself as a hardened realist. He now operates on a level that's several steps beyond the debate between his vision and Charles Xavier's dream. He sees the mutant issue as a struggle for survival now and the Inhumans are actively undermining that survival. Giving them an advantage at this point would be tantamount to running up the score.

This emphasis on survival and fighting those who undermine it isn't knew for Magneto. What Civil War II: X-men #4 does is frame it in a new context, one that makes the infighting among the X-men feel somewhat misguided. In this context, Magneto's approach is actually more understandable than Storm's in a backwards sort of way.

Storm wants to work with the Inhumans just like Charles Xavier wanted to work with the human race. However, the conflict with the Inhumans is a bit more specific. A cloud that they unleashed is killing an entire race and they refuse to do anything about it. Working with them has produced little to no tangible results. This makes Storm's efforts to coordinate with them seem misguided. Her heart is in the right place, as it often is, but it disrupts the fragile balance of the conflict that makes the Civil War II narrative work.

This balance is somewhat restored once Magneto gets a chance to interact with Ulysses. This ends up being far more meaningful than any interaction he could have with Storm. The discussion they share is significant in that it forces Magneto to re-evaluate his tactics. However, this meaningful interaction ends up leading to a bland and inconsequential conclusion.

There aren't any meaningful changes that emerge from this clash between Magneto's team and Storm's team. Once Magneto meets Ulysses, the battle just ends. There are no major scars. There are no serious injuries that can't be treated with off-panel magic and bed rest. There aren't even any major consequences to lies, betrayals, and deception. The characters just shrug it off, as though it happens every other week.

What makes this outcome somewhat palatable is the context behind it. Magneto, being a cold and callous pragmatist at heart, sees how this conflict will play out and quite literally. The only way to make sure that he's in a position to protect his people and take on the Inhumans again down the line is to just swallow his pride and leave. It's an inglorious way to end a conflict, but it's perfectly in line with who Magneto is and why he does what he does.

That's not to say there isn't some kind of meaningful impact in Civil War II: X-men #4. It does add more bricks to the foundation on which the X-men and Inhumans will clash down the line. It also supplements some of the ongoing tensions within the teams, such as Magneto and Psylocke. These bits and pieces of progress aren't enough to give the overall story enough weight. It still feels like an overblown round of infighting that doesn't amount to much.

In the ongoing debate between aiding the Inhumans and fighting them, the balance may very well be too fragile to function. Civil War II: X-men #4 only reinforces the inevitability of another clash between these two teams. It also further proves that such a clash may not be a balanced one. At the end of the day, one side still has its movie rights. The other is tied up with another studio. Even with X-men being the ultimate underdogs, it doesn't feel like a fight that'll benefit them in any way.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

All-New Wolverine #12: Nuff Said!

I don't get emotionally worked up easy, at least not while in a sober state of mind. Get a few beers and joints in me and I'll hug you like you're my long-lost sibling. So when a comic comes along that kicks me right in the feels, I'm pretty damn impressed. Tom Taylor managed to do that with All-New Wolverine and not just because it has a pet wolverine, an adorable clone girl named Gabby, and X-23 flying a jet pack naked. He just delivered an emotional gut-punch at the end of All-New Wolverine #11 with Old Man Logan stabbing gabby. Now, my gut is ripe as fuck in anticipation for All-New Wolverine #12. I'm bracing myself, but for all the right reasons.

A quick flash to Old Man Logan's dystopian shit storm of a future makes my asshole clench that much harder. He establishes very clearly that he hates Gabby. He hates her the same way I hate parking tickets and non-alcoholic beer. He hates her so much that he kicks over her grave, spits on it, and encourages the world to do the same. Even by Wolverine standards, that's cold.

At the very least, it provides some context to the emotional gut punch we got at the end of the previous issue. Old Man Logan hates Gabby and for reasons that are only partially clear, he's eager to take her out of the equation, so much so that he'll do it with a goddamn smile if he could. It adds the kind of dramatic weight to the story that has helped make this series so awesome. The fact Tom Taylor does it without a pet wolverine makes it all the more astonishing.

Back in the present, the feels from that emotional gut punch still sting like a bitch. Unless you're overdosing on anti-depressants or have a severe personality disorder, seeing X-23 hold Gabby's body will create a lump in anyone's throat for all the right reasons. All the while, Captain America worries more about the hapless SHIELD agents who Old Man Logan roughed up. That's right. He's more concerned with the well-being of SHIELD agents than that of a young mutant girl who just got stabbed. That, my friends, tells you everything you need to know about how Marvel sees mutants these days.

Naturally, X-23 is several different kinds of pissed off. It's not enough a couple of dip-shit burglars shot Jonathan the Wolverine a few issues back. Now, her adorable clone sister got stabbed by a grumpy alternate version of her father. There are bad days, shitty days, and then there's this. When we have days like this, we're perfectly entitled to stab anything within a 50 foot radius.

At least X-23 knows how to channel her anger appropriately, which sets her apart from 95 percent of every teenage girl I've ever known. If she's going to stab anyone, it's going to be Old Man Logan. There's a few more heartfelt moments with X-23 and Gabby, which should make that lump in your throat feel like a fucking coconut at this point, and then X-23 runs off after Old Man Logan. He stabs her clone sister. She makes his present way more dystopian than any shitty future he comes from. That's just how it works.

With help from Maria Hill, a phrase that rarely ends without someone getting shot or stabbed, X-23 tracks Old Man Logan into the nearby sewer system. He's a grumpy old fuck who has been shot with enough tranquilizers to give Ozzy Osborn a mild buzz so he doesn't get far. This means less searching and more X-23 beating the living shit out of him.

This is where David Lopez gives us one of the most satisfying scenes of this series to date, at least the one that doesn't involve Jonathan the Wolverine or X-23 flying around on a jet pack naked. It's X-23 vs. Old Man Logan. Any chance they had at a meaningful relationship is pretty much shot to shit and pissed on for good measure. It's angry. It's brutal. It's visceral. It's dramatic. In other words, it's everything that makes a Wolverine battle awesome, minus sexy redheads and Japanese hookers.

As this epic stab-fest is unfolding, things are more solemn on the surface. Captain America is prepared to fit Gabby with a toe tag and send her off to wherever SHIELD stacks the mounting pile of mutant bodies. Then, just when that lump in your throat is about to take a baseball bat to your tear ducts, Gabby wakes up. Just like that, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

That's right. She's the clone of X-23, someone who gets blown up and walks it off. On paper, that sounds so obvious and predictable. What Tom Taylor did though was give it a major dramatic impact, something that is hard to do with X-23. Keep in mind, this is someone who was tricked into killing her own mother. The bar for drama is pretty fucking high and he matched it. That's a hell of an accomplishment.

Back in the sewers, shit is still pretty brutal and stabby. Old Man Logan, still doped up on SHIELD tranquilizers, is in a total berserker rage. Given how badly that shit has screwed him over in his future, you'd think he'd be a bit more careful about it. Then again, maybe SHIELD tranquilizers are just that shitty.

They have to be because when they wear off, Old Man Logan gets a little less brutal. He must have forgotten that he's fighting a pissed off teenage girl now. That's never a good tactic, no matter how tough you are or how fast you heal. He tries to apologize. He tries to make excuses. X-23 isn't having that shit. He may as well try to justify giving the Jersey Shore more than one season. It can't be done.

Lucky for him, Gabby catches up and stops X-23 from turning Old Man Logan into glorified rat shit. This immediately calms X-23 down. There aren't many forces in the Marvel universe that can do that. A hug from an adorable clone sister is one of them. There's something wonderfully fitting about that.

However, Old Man Logan has to double down on being an ass this time, saying he didn't know she was going to heal. That means he really wanted to kill her. He does try to explain himself to some extent. He claims that Gabby ends up killing X-23 in his world. The problem is, that's his world. His world is already fucked. This world is only semi-fucked, but it's because of Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners and not because someone mind-fucked Wolverine.

X-23 makes it clear that he's now permanently etched on her shit list. She even twists the knife a little more, pointing out that pretty much everyone in Old Man Logan's future got fucked over just by knowing him. Is it harsh? Fuck yes. Is it appropriate for a guy who just stabbed a young girl? Definitely.

As harsh as it is, it does feel lacking in one important area. We really don't get many other details as to how and why X-23 and Gabby kill each other in Old Man Logan's timeline. It's a pretty important detail and one that feels incomplete. We know that this is the excuse Old Man Logan uses to attack Gabby, but is that really all there is to it? We basically just have to take his word for it and this is a guy who just stabbed a child. How trustworthy can his word be?

It makes for some less-than-dramatic threats at the end, but still leaves more than a few blanks. Gabby and Old Man Logan make clear that they will not be friends in this timeline. X-23 also makes clear that he's not the same Logan she knew and loved. It's a tense way to end their first encounter. Given all the stabbing though, it's still disturbingly fitting.

This leads to one last conversation between X-23 and Captain America. Again, it's less-than-dramatic. X-23 basically just lectures him on why heroes fighting heroes is a shitty idea. It's a lecture that feels several years too late. If only someone had pointed this out before Avengers vs. X-men. Maybe we wouldn't be in a world where Marvel feels like its heroes have to try to kill each other at least once a year. It's late and effectively moot at this point. If nothing else, it makes clear to Cap and SHIELD that X-23 is not going to stand for their shit. Honestly, who can blame her? it awesome?

Well, I didn't end up having to brace myself too much, but I'm glad I did anyhow. All-New Wolverine #12 makes good use of X-23's personal drama and Gabby's cuteness. The only one who doesn't seem to benefit here is Old Man Logan. The fact that Gabby survives is probably the most important reason why this comic is awesome. She, along with Jonathan the Wolverine, is a major reason why this series is so great. Beyond that though, there's not much worth bracing for.

We never find out the particulars of why Old Man Logan hates Gabby so much in his world. That lack of painfully dramatic details keeps All-New Wolverine #12 from having the same emotional gut punch as the last issue. However, it does establish clearly that X-23 does not see Old Man Logan as the same Logan who died. That's an important element to establish, if for no other reason than to make clear that she accepts no substitutes. Being a clone herself, that's a bit hypocritical, but entirely understandable.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Civil War II: X-men #4: Nuff Said!

If you're playing Call of Duty and you know there's an asshole on the opposing squad who's cheating, your first inclination is to either do something about it or call the kid's mother a whore. As human beings, we do value fairness to some degree. Unless we all get to cheat, we get pissed and want to see the cheaters punished, shamed, and humiliated. Unfortunately, Marvel is willing to give a past to a group of Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners.

They now have Ulysses, a precog who can win every fantasy sports league without breaking a sweat. He's already saving the world and getting other heroes killed. Now, some in the X-men are a bit uncomfortable with the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners gaining even more of an edge. They've already got their own country. Their fart cloud is sterilizing mutants and exiling them to a fucking demon realm. That shit just isn't fair in the slightest and Magneto is trying to do something about that.

The odds are against him though and some X-men are actually willing to team up with the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. How sad is that? Civil War II: X-men #4 doesn't promise much fairness, but it has Magneto doing what he does best. The fact it's easier to root for him over Storm really says something.

Why is Magneto so easy to root for? Well, Storm and her people are hiding out in a fucking demon realm while the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners' big green fart cloud roams the Earth, maiming their fellow mutants. Magneto is confronting the source of that big fucking fart cloud. Which one do you think is being more proactive?

With Rachel Grey's help, he fights his way through New Attilan like a motherfucking boss. Rachel tries to tell him that these people don't hate him like he thinks. However, she also fails to give a damn good reason why they're not doing jack shit about the big fucking fart cloud that's maiming their entire species. Yet they're still considered fucking heroes? If I were Magneto, I'd shit in every one of their sinks just to send a message. Sadly, he doesn't have time for that. He has to get to Ulysses, who naturally expects his arrival. He's a fucking precog. He probably knows how much the Cleveland Browns will lose by this Sunday.

While Magneto is busy taking the fight to the asshole Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners who are butchering the mutant race, Storm and her team are busy fighting their fellow X-men. Seriously, I'm very uncomfortable rooting against Storm to this degree, but she's making it goddamn hard.

At the very least, she shows she can put up a damn good fight and Andrea Broccardo's art makes it a damn pretty sight. The problem is, she's fighting Arcangel. This guy is a fucking horseman of Apocalypse. He's supposed to bring war and death. A fucking thunderstorm may as well be pillow fight for him, minus the sexy co-eds. So of course he gets in a nasty shot that knocks Storm out of the sky and for once, it doesn't bother me. Again, I'm very uncomfortable with that feeling.

Cut to Old Man Logan beating up Sabretooth and just like that, I'm comfortable again. Throw in fights between Mystique and Psylocke, as well as Gambit and Fantomex, and there's something for everybody to enjoy. Mystique and Psylocke's battle makes my penis happy. Gambit and Fantomex's battle should make the gay crowd happy. So everyone's penis should find a reason to enjoy this on some levels and that's never a bad thing.

It's still X-men fighting X-men though. At a time when they're getting sterilized while Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners just laugh while jerking off from afar, this feels unproductive to say the least. Then again, it is part of a Civil War event. So if heroes weren't fighting heroes, then that would be flagrant false advertising. We get enough of that from pharmaceutical ads so I'm glad X-men aren't adding to it.

As this battle is going on, making everyone's penises very happy, Magneto finally confronts Ulysses. Keep in mind, this kid isn't a fighter. He's a fucking college kid who just became ground zero for the latest superhero shit storm. So standing in the shadow of fucking Magneto, a guy who will snap your neck with a goddamn smile if he thinks it'll protect the mutant race, is pretty damn terrifying.

Knowing this, Ulysses opts not to fight. I can't tell if he shit his pants, but I imagine he's resisting the urge with every ounce of strength. Instead, he tries to talk Magneto down. He claims he's not a weapon that'll be used against mutants. Then again, he's new to the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners so he probably doesn't know how few fucks they give about screwing over entire races. He also drops an ominous hint about how this shit will play out. If he has any cards at all to play, it's that he can see how Magneto's bullshit will screw him over.

Meanwhile, the battle with the rest of the X-men intensifies. Sabretooth and Old Man Logan bloody each other up a bit more. Nightcrawler kicks his mother in the face. Fantomex and Gambit rough each other up. It's standard, but satisfying. This isn't Cyclops and Wolverine fighting over an old pair of Jean Grey's panties. This is a fairly typical X-men vs. X-men clash. It's not Lord of the Rings epic, but it's not Weekend at Bernies cheap either.

It finally steps up a notch when Storm's team brings in some bigger guns. That includes O5 Jean Grey, Magik, and a Sentinel-packing Cerebra. This finally gives Storm's team a chance to ditch Magneto's team so they can catch up with him before he gives the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners another reason to sterilize them. Again, I still feel very odd rooting for Magneto at this point.

It seems like they're really going to fuck each other over, trying to stop Magneto from fighting the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. The concept alone just feels wrong, considering how fucked the mutant race already is. It doesn't look like it's going to turn out well for either side. If anything, it'll give the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners more reasons to laugh their ass off and jerk off with the blood of innocent mutants.

Then, this concept gets royally fucked when Ulysses shows Magneto one of his painfully accurate visions. In that vision, he sees just how much more he'll fuck over the mutant race by continuing this fight. It involves a dead Jean Grey, a dead Monet, a dead Iceman, and a dead Nightcrawler. It's pretty fucking terrible, but it also has a dead Beast so let's call it a push.

Either way, it gives Magneto enough pause to reconsider. He knows how annoyingly accurate this kid's visions can be. He also knows that any future that involves a dead Jean Grey tends to get fucked up real fast. While he may be a ruthless motherfucker with little love for Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, he's a pragmatist at heart.

So he just leaves. That's right. That's how this clash ends. Magneto just shrugs his shoulders, curses under his breath, and fucking leaves. It's as anti-climactic as it sounds. At the same time, however, it makes the most sense. Like I said, he's a pragmatist. He doesn't just go on random mutant crusades because it gives him a boner. He likes his crusades to have a fucking point. He knows this one won't give him that. So he just leaves.

It makes for somewhat of an awkward moment between Rachel, who fought by Magneto's side, and Storm's Extraordinary team. Then again, she's in the presence of her time-displaced teenage mother. Awkward is kind of a moot point for her. She basically just asks as a buffer, keeping the two X-men teams from fucking each other up any further. They need to save their strength for when they get a chance to get back at the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. They'll need it.

Speaking of the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, of which I've already said way too much about, Magneto does manage to get one last message to Queen Medusa, also known as the only redhead in comics I don't jerk off to. They have a brief, but tense conversation where Magneto makes one thing clear. The next time he shows up on their doorstep, he's not going to come hoping to share freshly baked cookies. He's going to come to end their bullshit once and for all. Medusa doesn't seem opposed to this in the slightest. I guess Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners don't care how many people they piss off at this point. They got fucking movie rights on their side. They have the advantage.

It's still a bit of a whimper to say the least. Pretty much nothing changes as a result of this clash. Magneto goes back to his base. Storm goes back to her. Storm doesn't even give Nightcrawler any shit for joining Magneto. Yet she still gives Cyclops all the shit in the world? How the fuck does that make any sense? Maybe she should've slept with him at some point. That might have made her more understanding. It worked with Emma Frost.

With Magneto, he's done enough shit for one day to convince Rachel that this isn't the crowd she wants to run with. He also earned himself a slap in the face from Psylocke. However, a slap from Psylocke is likely to give most men a boner so I'm not sure Magneto can say he lost too much. At the very least, he gets both teams of X-men geared up for the moment when they'll have to fight the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. Hopefully by then, they'll run out of reasons to blame this shit on Cyclops. it awesome?

Well, let me sum it up like this. Was it action packed? Fuck yeah. Was it entertaining and enjoyable? Fuck yeah. Was it somewhat anti-climactic at the end? Sadly, that's also a fuck yeah. At the very least, though, it was a fitting kind of anti-climax and outside a slasher flick, that's not usually a good thing. In this case, it works because it makes use of Ulysses' powers in just the right way. It also makes use of Magneto's tendency to not piss into the wind when he knows he can't win. He may be a ruthless motherfucker, but he's not stupid.

That lack of stupidity means that this clash could only end with a whimper and never a bang. That's kind of a drag, but it's not like the whole thing cut to a car insurance commercial or something. Some of the outcomes are forced. The fact that Storm just shrugs off Nightcrawler joining Magneto is pretty fucking ridiculous. If only traffic cops were that forgiving. It may improve my driving record, but it doesn't help this book. In the end, too much shit gets cut off in Civil War II #4 before any real drama emerged. Sure, it gets cut off for a damn good reason, but like neutered dogs, it comes at a price.

Final Score: 6 out of 10