Friday, December 29, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 162: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 1 PREVIEW!

I hope everyone had fun and supremely enjoyable holiday. I also hope you worked up an appetite for more X-men Supreme in 2018. Yes, I know there are just a few days left of 2017, but this fanfiction series is already poised to move forward. That’s saying something, given all the huge upheavals in X-men Supreme over the past year. The disillusion of the X-men in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide might very well be the most traumatic event the team have experienced in this fanfiction series and that’s including their encounter with Deadpool.

At the heart of the division is the Mutant Monitoring Initiative, the bold partnership that Charles Xavier formed with General Grimshaw and President Kelly after their clash with the Mutant Liberation Front. For once, they weren’t just dealing with someone like Magneto trying to subdue humanity through force, as he did in The Cambrian Explosion and Overlord. Even Sinister, who attempted to wipe out humans and mutants alike in Dark Legacy, wasn’t as daunting. X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation put the X-men in a unique position.

The Mutant Liberation Front turned the X-men’s battle into a struggle of ideas and after what happened in arcs like Proactive Regression and Natural Disorder, it became clear that Charles Xavier is losing that battle. His hopes for peace and understanding clash directly with new tactics meant to render humanity helpless, rather than subdued. Even though the X-men managed to stop the likes of Toad and Stryfe, the damage was done.

Now, as X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided has unfolded, Charles Xavier and his divided X-men attempt to regain the trust of the public and the authorities. So far, their efforts have had mixed results. Despite chaotic destruction in Volatility Sensibility, the X-men and the policies of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative helped them take down Sebastian Shaw in the Drug War arc. On paper, it was a major victory. Behind the scenes, though, it showed a new vulnerability that has been festering for quite some time.

A divided X-men, as we’ve seen in the X-men comics with events like Schism, is often a bad combination for everyone involved. Whether it’s Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Storm, or Doop leading the X-men, a lack of unity often opens the door for a devious enemy to strike. That time has come and this latest arc of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series will pit the X-men against a powerful enemy that X-men fans should recognize. That enemy has yet to make their debut in X-men Supreme, but it’s one I’ve been planning for quite some time.

This next arc will trigger a major shift in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’ll also hit the X-men and X-Force at their most vulnerable. Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Wolverine, and so many more. The wounds left by this arc will be deep and the impacts will send X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided on a collision course that will leave nobody unaffected. It starts with the next issue and as always, I’ve prepared a preview that should give a telling hint as to just how impactful this arc will be.

“You!” snarled Logan as his muscles barely twitched.

“Yes, it’s me. The latest object of your rage. As if you don’t have enough as it stands,” said Daken dryly.

“I’m telling my body to rip you to shreds for all your bullshit, but apparently you found a new way to fuck with me! I get enough of that shit as well!” grunted Logan.

“Yes, well we can’t have that volatile temper causing such a mess. I understand you’ve been known to leave quite a mark on anyone that dares to capture you.”

“Then save yourself the trouble and turn off whatever the hell you did to me,” said Logan, “If you do, I promise I’ll make it quick.”

“Now why would you want to do that? I was hoping we could spend some quality time together. You know, the kind that a father is supposed to spend with his son,” said Daken as he loomed over the paralyzed figure.

Logan growled upon hearing those words. For once, Daken didn’t talk in a snide or condescending tone. He was dead serious, which almost seemed uncomfortable to him. That helped lend credibility to what he was saying. He was his son. A revelation like this usually triggered all sorts of chaotic emotions within Logan.

As this revelation sank in, Logan felt his body move on its own. He didn’t know if Daken was controlling it or if someone else was pulling the strings. He rose from his bed and stood up before this ominous young man. Now looking at him eye-to-eye, Daken glared at him with emotions that had been decades in the making.

“You’ve had time to process my scent. You’ve looked me in the eye and you’ve seen the signs. I hope you’ll skip the denial part so we can get to the heart of this matter,” said Daken, his tone focused with a unique kind of anger.

“You think this is the most fucked up revelation from my past? Hell, this ain’t even top five,” scoffed Logan.

“So finding out you have a son with a lifetime of reasons to despise you isn’t a big deal?”

“Of course it’s a big deal! I don’t hesitate in the middle of a fight unless it’s a big deal!” barked Logan, “Your scent wasn’t enough. It’s your eyes that sealed the deal. I’ve seen them before, except they were on a beautiful woman that I used to love. Not some dirt-bag punk with bad hair.”

“Well, now they’re mine,” said Daken firmly, “My darling mother was kind enough to impart them on me. It’s a shame she never got to see them. You ended up slaughtering her before she ever got to hold me.”

Now Daken was the one fuming with anger. Logan matched that sentiment every step of the way as he recalled the woman who once had those beautiful eyes. The image of her embracing him as she tried to tell him some important news played over in his mind again. That image was followed by a gruesome memory of him holding her bloody body in his arms. From here, the truth was obvious.

“That’s what she was going to tell me. She was pregnant,” said Logan, “It was just before everything in the Yashida Clan went to Hell.”

“And you didn’t stick around to find out. It would’ve been pathetic if it hadn’t nearly killed me,” said Daken in a cold tone, “That dead body you held in your arms had company. I was still in her womb, underdeveloped yet still alive. You could have stayed longer, tied up all the loose ends, and made sure you left nothing behind. But you didn’t.”

“Kid, if you’re gonna hold a grudge against me for not even knowing you existed, that’s a damn lousy reason,” barked Logan.

“As if causing the death of my mother isn’t valid enough,” Daken retorted, “But that’s not my only reason for resenting you. Our family issues go much deeper than that.”

Daken took a step closer to Logan so he could look him in the distinct eyes that so reminded him of Mariko. The bitter resentment soon gave way to a more serious demeanor.

This was both personal and logistical for him. Daken had plenty of reasons to seek out his father years ago, if for no other reason than to honor his dead mother. However, he was not like his father in one key aspect. For him, vengeance wasn’t enough to justify a moment like this. There had to be something greater at stake.

“Just look at yourself, father. Look back through those broken memories of yours. Let them tell you about the kind of man you are,” said Daken in a scathing tone.

“Bub, if you even understood half the memories I got floatin’ around in my head, you’d know what a dumb ass question that is,” quipped Logan.

“I know more than you think. I know where you’ve been, who you’ve killed, and how you’ve conducted yourself,” Daken went on, “You have all the trappings of a monster, but I don’t believe in monsters. I only believe in pitiful men who follow their anger, negating every other passion along the way, unless it’s convenient.”

“You trying to lecture me? Because if you really are my son, then you got the roles ass backwards.”

“If not your son, then who else?” Daken retorted, “Who else could point out what an inept man you are? You reflect the absolute worst of our family. You fight endless personal battles in both the past and present, never truly realizing the kind of damage you leave behind. And for what? Has it brought you peace?”

“Depends on your definition,” snarled Logan.

“Seeing as how you haven’t stopped fighting, I’ll take that as a no,” snorted Daken, “In many ways, you’re a metaphor for the world as we know it. Every day there’s more needless fighting. People like you simply refuse to move forward. You just wallow in your anger. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, both you and the world been certifiably demented for centuries.”

“Is there a point here, kid?”

“Perhaps not, but unlike everyone before me I’m prepared to do something about it.”

Daken backed away from Wolverine and walked over to the door. He then gave it a hard pound with his fist, signaling whoever was on the other side to enter. The door swung open to reveal Sabretooth and Laura. Logan grunted in anger at the sight of Sabretooth being anywhere close to Laura. However, he noticed something different. Like him, they didn’t seem to have control over their own bodies.

“Heya, old buddy,” said Sabretooth snidely, “I see they stuck you with that annoying drug too.”

“Sabretooth! Only you could make a shitty situation like this stink worse,” barked Logan.

“Consider yourself lucky. If your fruity little bastard here hadn’t stuck me with a needle, these walls would be painted with your blood by now.”

“You deserve to stuck with much worse,” said Logan, “I swear if you so much grazed my daughter, I’ll…”

“It’s okay, Wolverine. He didn’t,” said Laura, who was in a similar paralyzed state, “Although he certainly tried. He thought he could rough me up before you arrived. That’s when Daken injected him with the same drug he injected into me.”

“Seeing as how none of you can control your violent impulses, I figured it was necessary,” said Daken.

Logan’s expression tensed as much as it could in his paralyzed state. More pieces fell into place. Daken and whoever else was behind this elaborate operation wanted the meat of the Weapon X program. Laura was bait. Sabretooth was a puppet that didn’t notice the strings until it was too late. His presence was sure to complicate thingg.

“Here’s some fatherly advice, kid. Hiring Sabretooth ain’t ever necessary,” said Logan, “He’ll screw you over and smell like shit every step of the way.”

“Why you…” grunted Sabretooth, only to be cut off by Daken.

“That’s enough, you two. Somebody should have said that to you decades ago,” he said, “You may not be able to handle Sabretooth, but we can. So long as you promise him a chance at tormenting Wolverine, he’ll agree to anything. As it just so happens, we need him as well as X-23.”

“I told you not to call me that. My name is Laura!” barked Laura.

“You’re lucky you can identify with any name. I could have just let Sabretooth do what he wanted with you,” quipped Daken, “Like any animal, he simply had to be tamed.”

“Kid, as much as I hate Wolverine, I’ll gladly spare some for you,” snarled Sabretooth, “You and that asshole boss of yours are gonna pay!”

“What boss?” questioned Logan, “Tell me who’s pulling the strings in this joint. That way I know who to stab when this drug wears off.”

“That’s where the insanity I mentioned earlier comes into play,” said Daken as he turned back towards Logan, “Someone goes through the trouble of putting you all in the same room, having to resort to exotic drugs to ensure that you behave. Yet again, your first inclination is to stab each other. You’re not even the least bit curious on how and why of this endeavor.”

“There ain’t much to understand,” scoffed Logan, “The story never changes. Some asshole wants a few meat puppets to do their dirty work. Why should I expect anything less from this shit?”

“Because this is different, James Howlett…very different,” came an ominous new voice.

The whole room fell deathly silent. Logan, Sabretooth, and Laura felt their bodies moving again. Despite their ardent resistance, they turned around and stood side-by-side to greet a powerful new figure. Even for former living weapons, it was a presence that struck them in a profound way.

The figure was a man that stood an imposing seven feet tall. His whole body was heavily muscled, covering a broad form that rivaled even Sabretooth. He wore a large cloak that covered a body suit not unlike the one Daken wore. As he pulled back his cloak, he revealed a face that bore a striking similarity to Logan.

He had the same wild hair and burly complexion except most of his hair was gray. Also like Logan, he had a very feral demeanor. His penetrating eyes implied they had seen many battles. As he looked down at the three paralyzed figures, they all growled defiantly. Daken grinned at their resistance as stood beside the imposing man.

“That voice…I’ve heard it before,” said Logan, feeling more old memories surface from the depths of his mind.

“Me too!” grunted Sabretooth, who experienced something similar.

“It’s good to know your memories aren’t completely damaged,” said the man, “You’ll definitely want to remember what you’re about to become a part of.”

“To hell with being part of this shit!” barked Laura, struggling harder against her paralysis, “Who the hell are you!”

“That is not an easy question to answer,” said the man as he approached the three former living weapons, “I’ve gone by many names. Some have called me Night Wolf. Others have called me the One Man Army. Most know me as Romulus, the founder and visionary of White Cell. However, a select few have even called me the Mentor.”

“Mentor,” mused Logan, “So it is you. You’re the guy that trained Team X.”

“That is only a small part of a much larger story,” he said, “It is a story I hope to finally end soon. I’m glad to see that Daken has succeeded in the first critical step.”

“I’m sure you had no doubts, honorable grandfather,” said Daken proudly.

“Grandfather?” exclaimed Logan as it quickly dawned on him, “That means…”

There’s a lot of upheaval going on in X-men Supreme and the X-men comics. Both Jean Grey and Wolverine are set to return from the dead in the pages of Marvel comics. There are a total of three X-men movies se tot debut in 2018 as well. Between that and the pending merge between Disney and Fox, things are looking up for the X-men. I hope to build on that with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

I can’t make X-men Supreme as prominent as a major movie or comics relaunch, but I like to think I can channel the same spirit that will make X-men great in 2018. To ensure I channel enough, it’s critical that I continue to get feedback from the wonderful readers of this fanfiction series. Either post your comments directly in each issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat X-men. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Monday, December 25, 2017

Half-Fantastic and Full Heart: Marvel Two-In-One #1

The following is my review of Marvel Two-In-One #1, which was posted on

Like most ordinary people, every superhero has bad days. Some of those bad days are worse than others. Some of those bad days make for iconic stories, as well. Events like The Phoenix Saga, Secret Wars, Civil War, and House of M often start with a particularly bad day that spirals out of control, sometimes leading to retcons, wars, and clone armies. Short of being trapped in a cage with Deadpool and an unlimited supply of tacos, a bad day for a superhero often becomes the cornerstone for a major upheaval in Marvel's over-arching mythos.

While every major superhero and their assorted teams have bad days, few have had more or worse days than the members of the Fantastic Four. No matter how much Peter Parker complains about not catching a break or how much the X-men complain about people hating mutants, they can't deny that the Fantastic Four have it much worse.

It's not just that they've been victimized by horrible movies, so much so that Pixar's The Incredibles is often cited as the best Fantastic Four movie. Despite being Marvel's first family and one of the most pivotal creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the influence and prestige of the Fantastic Four has never been lower.

The events of Secret Wars effectively shoved a wedge the size of an entire multiverse between the team. Reed, Sue, and their children are no longer playing an active role in the Marvel universe. Ben and Johnny, conversely, find themselves relegated to weak supporting roles in books like Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy. Their struggles are often a punchline within Marvel, but Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung look to get serious with what remains of the Fantastic Four in Marvel Two-In-One #1. While Marvel's first family may still be split, Ben and Johnny keep the spirit alive in a story that's as compelling as it is heart-felt.

This is one of those stories that reflects a particular sentiment at a particular time in the history of a franchise. It's not unreasonable to say that, in wake of the failure of Josh Trank's Fantastic Four movie and the subsequent cancellation of the Fantastic Four comics in 2015, these are the darkest of times for Marvel's first family. Reed, Sue, and their children are gone. The Baxter Building is gone. On top of all that, Dr. Doom isn't even acting like Dr. Doom anymore. It's as though everything that makes the Fantastic Four endearing has been lost.

Marvel Two-In-One #1 acts as the first beacon of light within the darkness that has shrouded Fantastic Four for years. The first family is still not whole, but Zdarsky and Cheung make it a point to show that the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four is still there. Not only that, they make the case that there's still a place for them in the Marvel universe and by nearly every measure, they make that case well.

The foundation of the story is basically the remnants of the first family being at rock bottom. Neither is in a particularly good place with Johnny being especially broken. Ben, true to his rocky nature, acts as the last remaining anchor of the team. He carries himself as the only one with the strength and fortitude to carry on the legacy that the Richards family left behind. He doesn't have much to begin with, but he gains a lot over the course of the story.

What he gains and how he gains it doesn't feel cheap or contrived. In fact, it makes for one of the most heart-felt moments the Fantastic Four have had since the events of Secret Wars. Zdarsky and Cheung don't discount the events that tore the first family apart, nor do they make light of just how much those events hurt Johnny and Ben.

Part of what makes the Fantastic Four so compelling is that they're not just heroes. They're family. When one of them is lost or gone, it hurts. That pain in Marvel Two-In-One #1 is undeniable. By the end, though, there's a sense that the time for healing has arrived. Even though the memories of bad movie adaptations still linger, the darkest hours of the Fantastic Four are behind them. Now, they're ready to move forward.

Moving forward, however, still means confronting the less-than-ideal situation in the present. That involves Johnny revealing a distressing secret about his powers and Ben having a productive, but messy conversation with Dr. Doom. It's dramatic and overdue, but the fact they're finally confronting the situation is probably the biggest sign of progress that Marvel Two-In-One #1 can have. Overdue or not, it's still refreshing.

More than anything else, Marvel Two-In-One #1 is a clear, yet poignant reminder of what the Fantastic Four stand for. They're not just a family with superpowers. They're not just heroes either. They look beyond the horizon and dare to go farther. They seek to explore, learn, and grow together. That's how they often end up encountering beings who ride cosmic surf boards, giant world-eating beings, and shape-shifting aliens. The heroics are often secondary, but still just as important.

There's a lot to be said about the current state of the Fantastic Four, how they got there, and why they've struggled to remain relevant at a time when every superhero seems to reinvent/reboot themselves every other week. There are still plenty of ongoing issues with that state that can't be easily resolved over the course of a single issue, let alone several. However, Zdarsky and Cheung take the biggest, and arguably most important, step in that process.

Marvel Two-In-One #1 is one of those books that will give a certain segment of fans a genuine emotional uplift. It's as though someone finally comes to their front door, gives them a reassuring hug, and lets them know they haven't forgotten about the Fantastic Four and everything they stand for. It may have taken a while. It may not undo all the damage that the first family have suffered over the past several years. It's still a first step, but one that feels like a giant leap in the right direction.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Holidays From X-men Supreme!

There's no preview for sexy side-project today. Don't worry, though. X-men Supreme is still ongoing. I also have more sexy side-projects in the works. It's been an eventful 2017, to say the least. Between all the big upheavals in X-men Supreme and all the sexy side-projects with my "Red Queen" series, it's been a lot of fun. I hope everyone who has followed along has enjoyed the ride. I hope it continues in 2018.

Until then, I hope everyone has a supremely awesome holiday. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or nothing at all, I wish you the absolute best and I thank you for helping make my year awesome.

Friday, December 15, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption is LIVE!

Certain moments have enormous ripple effects on a narrative, especially one is big and ambitious as the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. The same can be said about the X-men comics. Events like Avengers vs. X-men, the Phoenix Saga, and Inferno all had major impacts that still echo within later events. Sometimes it’s a good thing, as with events like the Phoenix Saga. Events like Avengers vs. X-men, however, are a bit more controversial. In general, I try to leave that sort of ambiguity out of X-men Supreme, but I make it a point to craft the kind of moments that have that far-reaching effect.

Going all the way back to moments like the one that played out in X-men Supreme Issue 21: Chasing A Memory, where Wolverine first learned about his history with a woman he loved named Rose, the impacts played out in many ways down the line. When I originally outlined that plot in X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, I didn’t intend to reveal many issues later in X-men Supreme Issue 120: Sinister Revelations that Rose was actually Mystique. It’s just one of those plots that came to me as I plotted this series.

Moments like that, which came to define this fanfiction series in unexpected ways, make some of the most rewarding results in the end. X-men Supreme has had its share of elaborate plots, from Magneto’s first attack on Genosha during the Uprising arc to General Grimshaw’s mutant agenda that began in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. Within those plots, though, are the moments that create the ripples that give this fanfiction series that special impact.

Given the ongoing conflicts in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, finding time for those moments is difficult. Between the mishaps in the Volatility Sensibility arc and the Drug War arc, as well as the ongoing divide between the X-men and X-Force, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to squeeze one in. Personally, I take that as a challenge and like Deadpool at a taco eating contest, I jump at that chance.

So far, X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided has established that the Mutant Monitoring Initiative has benefits and drawbacks. Charles Xavier’s bold gamble to work directly with President Kelly and General Grimshaw has paid dividends, the biggest being the arrest and imprisonment of Sebastian Shaw after the Drug War arc. However, the aftermath of that triumph has revealed some unintended consequences, which tends to happen a lot when working for governments. Some of those consequences go beyond the initiative, though.

In this divided state, with the X-men and X-Force being at odds, a new threat that has been brewing since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths is ready to strike. I know I’ve been very vague about that threat. A major clue showed up in Drug War with Daken, the long lost son of Wolverine. However, he’s only part of the threat. The force pulling all the strings has a name and it’s about to come out soon. Those strings will finally start to reveal themselves in this issue, which acts as a prelude to the biggest upheaval that a divided X-men can possibly face.

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption

There’s a lot riding on events of this issue and the arc that spins out of it. X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided will start descending towards its inevitable conclusion and like the others that came before it, this fanfiction series will undergo a dramatic change. Just look at what happened at the end of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The X-men actually fractured, tearing friends, family, and lovers apart. Now, imagine an upheaval like that in the X-men’s divided state. I’ll let X-men fans ponder that over the holidays.

While you’re enjoying friends, family, and gifts, please find the time to review this issue and any other issue of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Assume that’s at the top of my Christmas list, along with the assorted stack of comics I regularly ask for. I hope I’ve done enough with X-men Supreme to avoid the naughty list in the minds of X-men fans. Please let me know how good a boy I’ve been by either posting your comments directly in the issue or contacting me directly. Either way is fine and you don’t have to be Santa to deliver this gift. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Missed/New Opportunities In Prestige: Supergirl #16

The following is my review of Supergirl #16, which was posted on

It's rare for any hero who isn't Superman to gain the kind of credibility that grants them the implicitly, unflinching trust of the public. In fact, even Superman struggles to maintain that credibility and he's Superman. If the ultimate paragon of heroes struggles with maintaining the trust of the public, then what hope does any hero have?

In that context, Supergirl has a greater advantage than most and not just because she's Superman's cousin and bears the same emblem when she's out being a hero. She comes from the same lineage and traditions as Superman. She has his unflinching support, more so than any woman not named Lois Lane. In a sense, she has fewer excuses than most heroes for not having a similar level of implicit trust among the public. That's exactly why the situation she finds herself in with Supergirl #16 is so intriguing.

Taking a page right out of Supergirl's hit TV show, Steve Orlando and Jody Houser give her a city to call home, one in which she can establish herself as the kind of hero who deserves to wield the same emblem as Superman. National City is no Metropolis, but it bears many of the same traits. It's a vibrant city full of people who are more eager than any resident in Gotham to embrace a hero. To her credit, Kara makes the most of that opportunity, especially after the events of DC Rebirth #1. However, the events surrounding Supergirl #16 count as both a setback and a reminder of why such credibility is so rare, even for blood relatives of Superman.

It's not just bad PR that Supergirl is dealing with. The Department of Extranormal Operations, which had previously been an important, is now working against her. Eliza and Jerimiah, her adopted parents, once kept that from happening, but are no longer with the organization and utterly powerless to change that. Even for someone as powerful as Supergirl, it creates a very different environment in which to be a hero.

People aren't cheering her on, thanking her for her heroism, or even stopping to take a selfie. They aren't reacting with fear or dread either, which is a big reason why Batman can get away with having such limited credibility. They see Supergirl saving the day, but they also see someone they don't trust. Unfortunately, events throughout the series give the average person plenty of reasons to question her more than her cousin. Much of that is a product of bad circumstances, inexperience, and being a teenager. Her ability to still raise to the occasion, like her cousin, is a big part of what gives Supergirl her appeal.

Supergirl #16 presents her with a unique opportunity to confront and navigate this trust disparity. It's an opportunity that Superman doesn't face as often anymore and one that offers Supergirl a chance to set herself apart. Initially, the narrative gives promise that, even in the face of public mistrust and one too many enemies in the DEO, she'll still rise to the challenge and be the hero that everyone expects her to be. However, this narrative collapses quickly.

The events that play out, from Supergirl's clash with Sharon Vance to her uncomfortable encounters with DEO agents, effectively throw away any notion that Kara will have to win the public's trust the hard way. It's not long before a generic conspiracy/smear campaign emerges, revealing that her struggles have less to do with her growing into a great hero and more to do with evil villains working against her. In terms of establishing a growth period for a hero, it's basically the equivalent of letting someone take a shortcut.

The subversive efforts of the villains involved effectively ensure that things will snap back to normal fairly easily once Supergirl learns the truth. It's akin to disabling a mind-control device or revealing that someone accepted bribes from Lex Luthor. It reduces what could've been an important step in the maturation of a hero to simply finding the right person to punch and letting that solve all the necessary issues.

While this revelation overly simplifies the narrative, it does help create new opportunities in the sense that it puts Supergirl within a different conflict. The plot surrounding her winning back the trust of the public may have collapsed, but in its place is a different kind of conflict that relies on her having to do more than just find who to punch.

Orlando and Houser use this as an opportunity to get Kara's friends and adopted parents involved, which helps strengthen the support structure that helps guide Supergirl through her narrative. It also reveals a larger threat with more menacing villains, which is always a challenge whenever a hero has power on the same level as Superman. Kara being a teenage girl as well adds more complications, albeit the kind that keep her likable.

While the overall plot in Supergirl #16 is disappointing in that it abandons a potentially rich concept, the story never gets completely derailed, nor does it undermine Supergirl's inherent heroism. It's tempting in the era of Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder movies to have heroes endlessly doubt their worth in the face of declining public support. Supergirl never gives into that temptation. She just grits her teeth, puts on that iconic cape, and does what she can within a messy situation. That's what makes her a great hero, even when she misses out on a major opportunity to prove it.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Friday, December 8, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption PREVIEW!

Certain plots take a great deal of patience and build-up. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that the original Phoenix Saga that played out in the pages of Uncanny X-men unfolded over the course of three dozen issues. That kind of story is hard to tell today, whether it’s with X-men or any other comic book characters. That hasn’t stopped me from trying with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Since its inception with X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, I’ve taken my time to develop stories in what I hope is a sufficiently awesome manner.

I don’t claim to be as skilled as Chris Claremont, but I’ve made a concerted effort to develop the various plots of X-men Supreme in a way that has a solid payoff. Events like Overlord, the Outer Limits, and even the X-men Supreme version of the Phoenix Saga unfolded over the course of multiple volumes of this fanfiction series. Some stories had the seeds planted very early on in a very specific way.

The best example of this happened in the Overlord arc in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. In that event, there was a telling moment between Wolverine and Mystique that hinted at a deeper connection between the two. It wasn’t until much later in X-men Supreme Issue 120: Sinister Revelations when Sinister revealed that Mystique was actually Rose, one of Wolverine’s former lovers from before he joined Weapon X. That moment took a long time to build, even with the major hints I dropped in arcs like the Cambrian Explosion. I like to think that kind of build made the culmination that much more satisfying.

Now, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to reach another moment. Coincidentally, this one also involves the mysterious pasts of Wolverine and Mystique. When I revealed their connection at the end of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths, I did so with a much larger plan in mind. I had every intention of making their shared history part of a much larger story, one that incorporates a conflict involving a character that Wolverine fans should recognize. Developing that story has taken time, especially after the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide. All that build and energy is finally about to culminate.

The events of the Drug War arc acted as the first shots in a much larger conflict. That story may have been centered around Sebastian Shaw and the emergence of Mutant Growth Hormone, but it also revealed the presence of other powerful forces that threaten more than the X-men and the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. Wolverine definitely sensed that threat and it took the form of someone that X-men fans should recognize as a major complication. It’s hard enough working against the X-men with Cyclops as a member of X-Force. Once again, Wolverine’s mysterious past will come back to haunt the X-men in a big way.

The biggest arc to date in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided is starting to take shape. This is one of those stories that will leave scars. Like Dark Legacy or the Cambrian Explosion, this story will leave a powerful impact on the X-men, X-Force, and everyone in between. It all starts with a prelude of sorts, one that will add some very personal stakes to Wolverine, X-Force, and many others. I’ve prepared a preview of that prelude that I hope gets X-men fans of all kinds excited, some more than others.

“Thank you, Julian. You’ve been very helpful. Even if your maturity is constantly in question,” said Laura as she finished her snack.

“You’ve been talking to Sam and Roberto again, haven’t you?” teased Julian, “I thought I told you that half of what they say about me is total bullshit.”

“That still leaves half, but I don’t hold it against you,” she assured him, “You’ve done more for me than anyone at the Academy. I know I don’t make it easy for you. I’m surprised you haven’t quit on me a few times.”

“Well after that incident where you sliced through my bedroom door while I was watching a movie with one too many explosions, I did consider it,” he joked.

“And I can’t promise there won’t be more incidents like that,” she said in a more serious tone, “Logan told me that trying to be a normal teenage girl is important. I’m inclined to believe him. But it’s difficult when I still have these powerful instincts.”

“You’d be surprised how many other teenage girls struggle with instincts. Tabitha and Amara can’t seem to control themselves at times.”

“These instincts are different. I live every day with the assumption that I’m still being hunted. Wolverine told me himself that this mentality will never disappear completely. The problem is my instincts keep telling me that the threats are there and I need to attack them. Most of the time, nothing is there. Even if there was, it limits my ability to be normal. Sometimes I wonder that even after I do everything I can to rebuild my life…I’ll still be a monster.”

Laura led Julian away from the main boardwalk to a quieter part of the harbor. Having finished her snack, she needed a moment to collect herself. They found themselves standing between a closed food hut and couple of storage containers.

She was still not comfortable with crowds, especially when she got worked up. She had to pull away from Julian for a moment. He gave her some space as she hugged her shoulders. He stood awkwardly behind her, staying silent for a moment before trying to console her.

“Uh…is this one of those times where you need some space?” asked Julian.

“No. Please don’t leave,” she told him, “I just…”

“You don’t need to explain yourself,” he said, “I get it. Old scars have a way of re-opening themselves. There’s nothing I can say to make it go away. So I won’t try.”

Laura tensed as she felt Julian’s concerned eyes on her. It was one of those limits that made it difficult for her to relate to him or anyone for that matter. To his credit, Julian was patient with her. That didn’t make it any less frustrating.

An awkward silence lingered for a moment. Laura took deep breaths just as Logan and others at the Academy taught her, trying to collect herself before her instincts got the better of her. Just when it seemed as though the feeling had passed, a mysterious new scent filled the air. It was a scent that triggered an entirely new set of instincts.

‘That smell. It smells like…no, this is different!’

Clenching her firsts, the former living weapon snarled at more scents followed.

“You need to leave, Julian,” she said sternly.

“What did I do wrong now?” he groaned, “If talking about instincts is really that stressful, then I’ll…”

“It’s not that. We’re being watched,” said Laura intently, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll start running!”

“Well I’ve never been known for my judgement, so you mind giving me a better reason?”

Laura grunted in frustration. Julian clearly wasn’t going to just walk away from her and she didn’t have time to convince him that this wasn’t mere paranoia. As he looked at her in confusion, she noticed an ominous shadow come over him. Reacting on pure instinct, the former living weapon lunged towards Julian and tackled him to the ground.

“GET DOWN!” she exclaimed.

With only a fraction of a second to spare, Laura shoved Julian out of the way just as a dark figure passed over. He landed flat on his back, getting the wind knocked out of him in the process. While he was stunned, Laura instinctively shot up and drew her claws.

As she took in her assailant, she noticed an ominous similarity between them. Like her, he also had a set of claws protruding from his knuckles. He wore a black body suit not unlike the one her creators had her wear. He also had a dark helmet covering his entire head. However, the helmet didn’t hide a familiar scent.

“You…you smell like, Wolverine. But you’re not him!” she seethed.

“Weapon X-23,” said the figure in a voice that sounded like it came from a computer.

“My name is Laura! Laura Howlett!” she barked, “Get it right or I’ll carve it into your skull!”

“You must come with us. Your must fulfill your purpose.”

“Who the hell is us?” Laura snarled, “I killed every last asshole that took part in my creation!”

“No. You have not,” said the figure in a mechanical tone.

As soon as he said these words, Laura picked up more scents. In a series of flashes, four more mysterious figures appeared. They looked completely identical, bearing the same black suits and mask. As soon as they appeared, they each drew their own set of claws. Within moments, they surrounded her.

“Hnn…Laura?” groaned Julian, still trying to get his lungs working again.

“Do you need a better reason, Julian? Run!” roared Laura.

“I’m not leaving you!” he exclaimed.

“You can and you will. This is my fight. I can handle it!”

The dark figures surrounded her, their claws drawn as they prepared to attack the feral young mutant. They moved in perfect synchronicity. They surrounded their target from all sides, but former Weapon X-23 was ready to take them on. It promised to incur a great deal of violence and bloodshed. For that reason, the figures instigated special tactic that promised to mitigate this situation.

While X-23 was preparing to attack, another presence emerged from behind one of the storage crates. However, his was different from the other figures in that he wasn’t wearing a mask or a special tactical suit. Instead, he bore attire that ensured Laura and everyone related to Logan knew who they were dealing with.

Like a predatory animal stalking its prey, he snuck up to the still stunned Julian Keller. Just as he was about to get up, the imposing man pulled him into a powerful choke hold. Once the young mutant was in his grasp, he made his presence known to Laura.

“Ack!” choked Julian, once again unable to breathe.

“Care to rethink that, little miss runt?” snarled a bemused Victor Creed.

Laura tensed upon hearing that voice. She never heard it before, but it sounded familiar. When she turned around she recognized him as someone Logan had told her about. He was even more repugnant than she imagined. Worst of all, he had Julian in his grasp.

“Sabretooth!” she growled, “Logan was right. You stink worse than a thousand toxic waste dumps.”

“Good to know Logan told you all about his old buddy. Did he also tell you what I do to the people he cares about?” quipped Sabretooth, holding his claws closer to Julian’s neck.

“If you so much as breathe on him…” she threatened.

“Blah blah. You’ll cut me to pieces. Yada yada. You’ll kill me a dozen times over,” laughed the feral mutant, “Jeez! You really are his clone. Hope that means you’re not as stupid as him. Otherwise your boyfriend here is gonna regret ever wanting to bone you.”

Laura snarled with murderous rage. This man knew Logan very well. That meant he knew her too, possibly in ways she couldn’t imagine. Between him, the five masked figures, and Julian’s predicament, her decision was clear. This was one instance where her instincts and her humanity were in agreement. Despite a determined look from Julian, she withdrew her claws.

“What do you want from me, Sabretooth?” she said flatly, “How many more reasons are you going to give Logan to kill you?”

“I’ve yet to decide,” grinned Sabretooth, still maintaining a firm grip on Julian, “Cooperate and we’ll both find out soon enough. We’ve got an overdue reunion to get to. And you’re gonna make sure my old buddy ain’t late!”

I get that it’s difficult to be patient these days with the X-men. However, it can and does pay off. Most recently, Marvel finally announced the return of Jean Grey after nearly 14 years of being dead. While I don’t intend to make readers of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series wait quite that long, I still want to reward the patience of those who have supported X-men Supreme throughout its development.

To ensure that reward is truly worthy, it’s still important that I continue to get feedback. Even if you’re just impatient and want more clues as to what lies ahead for X-men Supreme, I still want to hear from you. Please contact me directly with your comments or post them directly in the various issues. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Pressing Pitfalls of Powerful Minds: Astonishing X-men #6

The following is my review of Astonishing X-men #6, which was posted on

While death tends to be a revolving door with well-oiled gears in comics, there are many ways in which characters cheat it. Some are more compelling than others. By and large, clones and time travel are akin to overused cheat codes. They essentially circumvent the agency of a character and all those around them by forcing that character into a situation. It's akin to Photoshopping wherein the contrivances can be cropped, but not removed entirely.

That's why when a character cheats death in a way that doesn't involve time travel or clones, there's a greater sense of intrigue. It's more akin to watching an escape artist survive a death-defying stunt in broad daylight. If they can do it without the aid of cosmic power or a deal with Mephisto, that makes it all the more impressive. In that context, it says a lot about Charles Soule and his work on Astonishing X-men in that he's resisted the temptation.

The death of Charles Xavier at the hands of Cyclops in Avengers vs. X-men remains one of the most impactful moments for the X-men that doesn't involve movie rights. That death is what shaped the course of the X-men for the past several years, from the arrival of the original five X-men from the past to the mutant/Inhuman war. His return to the world of the living is not unexpected since he has come back from the dead before, but his presence is such a powerful force in the overall X-men mythos that it's bound to have an impact.

Soule and Michael Del Mundo are laying the foundation for that impact and Astonishing X-men #6 acts as the final layer of bedrock. The substance of that bedrock is build around another epic psychic battle between Charles Xavier and the Shadowking. While it's a battle that has played out many times before, it's still more compelling than one involve clones or time travelers. For this particular battle, though, the stakes feel even higher than usual.

Every psionic attack, psychic illusion, and telepathic trash talk counts in this battle. It doesn't just play out on the astral plane either. Some of it manifests in the non-psychic world as well, with Shadowking taking over the likes of Gambit and Old Man Logan. It creates battles on multiple fronts, which also creates multiple opportunities for Del Mundo to craft brutal, visceral struggles that take on a very psychedelic ambience. In terms of psychic battles, it's the perfect combination.

Even though a psychic battle between Charles Xavier and Shadowking is something that has played out many times before with the X-men, as a rivalry on par with that of Wolverine and Sabretooth, Soule finds a way to make this one feel more meaningful. It isn't billed as the final psychic showdown between two bitter rivals. It doesn't even try to be some sort of over-hyped, pay-per-view style event either. What makes it and the story around it work so well is how it brings out the more cunning aspects of Charles Xavier.

From the first issue of Astonishing X-men, Soule establishes the battle between Xavier and Shadowking as one driven by wit as much as psychic prowess. In a sense, Xavier dying at the hands of Cyclops finally levels the playing field between him and Shadowking. They're both disembodied spirits now. They're both stuck in a state of limbo, having limited influence on the physical world. Like having Iron Man fight without his armor, both powerful minds must now rely on other skills.

As a result, Xavier ends up relying on tactics that Shadowking has a history of exploiting. He  has to fight for the hearts and minds of his X-men in a very literal sense. He can't just flash his "world's most powerful mind" card and win the battle by default. He has to reduce himself to his enemy's level, which usually gives someone like Shadowking the edge. Up until Astonishing X-men #6, he seemed to have that edge every step of the way.

This is where the true extent of Charles Xavier's cunning reveals itself. It's also what makes Astonishing X-men #6 a major addition to Xavier's resume as Marvel's most powerful mind. Even when he's stuck playing by Shadowking's rules, having next to no advantages from the beginning of the battle, he finds a way to one-up him. He's able to blend his tactics with that of his enemy to win the day in a way that never feels cheap or contrived. Soule makes it clear that Xavier earns this triumph over his greatest psychic rival and Del Mundo helps make it a sight to behold.

It's the kind of triumph that Charles Xavier hasn't had in quite some time, going back to the Grant Morrison era in New X-men. For years, it seems, Xavier's greatest enemy is his declining credibility in the eyes of his fellow X-men. From keeping secrets to battling his own students, he's had few opportunities to be the mind and the mentor that only the likes of Patrick Stewart can hope to embody.

Xavier's inglorious death in Avengers vs. X-men further limits his ability to be the character that the X-men need him to be. Like the charm of Patrick Stewart, though, certain characters have traits that give them the ability to forge new opportunities out of rough situations. Between Shadowking and dying at the hands of his first student, the situation is pretty bad for Charles Xavier. That only makes watching him and his assortment of A-list X-men beat the odds feel that much more satisfying.

That satisfying victory, along with the profound implications revealed at the end, helps put Astonishing X-men #6 in a special category in terms of quality. From the first issue of the series, this latest psychic clash between Xavier and Shadowking carries the risk of being another generic battle with stakes no higher than that of an arm-wrestling match between the Hulk and Squirrel Girl. That's the challenge of any rivalry. Everyone knows that Captain America will beat the Red Skull, Batman will defeat the Joker, and Deadpool will make a dirty joke. It's giving those battles real stakes and nuanced circumstances that give them impact.

Soule and Del Mundo put in the necessary time, effort, and psychic mind games to make Round 616 of Charles Xavier versus Shadowking feel like the telepathic equivalent of a heavyweight prize fight. Each round feels brutal and bloody, but the style and substance behind it make it more than just a spectacle. It's a testament to mind and will of Charles Xavier. There's a reason why he's the visionary behind the X-men, as well as the perfect medium for Patrick Stewart's charm.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 1, 2017

Sexy Side-Project "The Red Queen Chronicles: The Holidays" is LIVE!

It's that time of year again. Decorations are going up, eggnog is on sale, and department stores are on their knees, begging people to come buy their crap. That's right. The holidays are here! If you don't care for the holidays, then I weep for your soul.

I, for one, love the holidays. I love everything about it from the shopping to the family moments to the peppermint lattes spiked with whiskey. I don't care that it has become so consumer-driven that Santa Claus may as well be a secret agent for Amazon. It's still a wonderful time of the year that evokes all sorts of wonderful experiences.

That brings me to my latest sexy side-project. Yes, I realize that was a poor transition on my part, but how else do you lead into project that combines sex appeal and the holidays? Moreover, how do you lead into it when that sex appeal also combines the sexiness of Jean Grey, Emma Frost, and Mary Jane Watson? Even Ebenezer Scrooge, himself, would be inspired by that.

Maybe it's just my overactive holiday spirit, but I felt compelled to make my next sexy side-project holiday themed. Since the world of The Red Queen is already so rich with sexiness, I used that to set it up. Given how much that world has grown this past year, I can think of few worlds better to celebrate the holidays in the sexiest way possible. Enjoy!

As always, I encourage everyone to provide feedback. I'm still not done with this world. I still keep getting new, sexy ideas that I can't resist pursuing. I'm still undecided on many, but I'm always open to discuss new ideas, especially the sexy kind.

If nothing else, I hope this story gets you in the holiday spirit, among other things. In case this is the last sexy side-project of the year, I want to thank everyone for helping me make this series such a success. I had no idea it would blossom like it has, but I'm so glad it did and I look forward to building more sexiness on top of it in 2018.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Doubling (And Tripling) Down On Time Travel: X-men Blue #16

The following is my review of X-men Blue #16, which was posted on

There's a certain point in a narrative where a certain subplot either needs to be abandoned or shoved back into the spotlight. It's like that point in a poker game where pushing all the chips to the center of the table is the only sound tactic left. It's a major risk and one that potentially undermines the entire foundation of a story, but the payoff is significant. For the time-displaced X-men in X-men Blue, the time is right for that kind of gamble.

There's no getting around it. Since arriving from the past in the pages of All-New X-men, the mission of the original five X-men seems to change every other week. One week, they're trying to stop Cyclops from ushering in a full-blown mutant genocide. The next, they're joining Cyclops to become mutant revolutionaries. The week after that, they're working with Magneto, the same guy who tried to kill them on their first mission. While it's not uncommon for teenagers to have erratic priorities, time travel seems to exacerbate the situation for the time-displaced X-men.

Beyond these varying missions and allegiances, though, there remains one common, unresolved thread. These time-displaced X-men are, for reasons not yet explained, cannot go back to the future. The events of X-men: Battle of the Atom establish that there is something keeping these time traveling teenagers stuck in the future. The nature of that mechanism is vague and rarely hinted it. For the most part, it's like Spider-Man's marriage in that it's overtly ignored for the most part.

In X-men Blue #16, Cullen Bunn and Thony Silas finally revisit this issue in a way that requires them to push those proverbial chips to the center of the table. It all happens quickly and under the backdrop of some typical teenage melodrama that always seems to find its way into the pages of X-men Blue. The mixture and transitions aren't always seamless, but few things involving teenage melodrama are.

That melodrama is only a small part of a much more serious conflict that has roots that extent back to X-men: Battle of the Atom and beyond. Anyone who has seen Back To The Future more than once understands the erratic and chaotic nature of time travel. Mess with the timeline too much and eventually, it'll get impatient. Whatever patience kept the original five X-men intact in the future seems to have run out, albeit quite suddenly.

There's little build-up or foundation to the sudden fracturing of time. It just starts happening, forcing the time-displaced X-men to react on the spot. Part of that reaction involves them engaging in more time travel. On the surface, that seems like fighting fire with napalm. In this rare instance, though, it makes sense and it addresses an important issue that has remained vague since X-men: Battle of the Atom.

Even those who haven't seen Back To The Future understand on some levels that time travel, especially one that involves changing the past, tends to incur an unpredictable impact on the present. For the most part, the impact of the original five X-men being in the future hasn't been that significant. The final few issues of Dennis Hopeless' run on All-New X-men even imply that their presence may not affect the timeline at all, which undermines the entire premise of a time travel story to begin with.

Like the events of X-men: Battle of the Atom, the temporal details remain vague. However, X-men Blue #16 ditches much of those subtleties and makes one thing very clear. The original five X-men's presence is indeed having an impact on the timeline. They aren't just a bunch of clones or alternate versions of themselves from a dystopian future, of which the Marvel universe already has plenty. They are from the same timeline and what they do does effect the present. That reaction may have been delayed, but it's happening.

It's an important facet that Bunn and Silas belabor, which helps establish the premise and the stakes of the Cross Time Capers arc that begins in X-men Blue #16. It's an overdue dose of clarity for an issue that many recent stories involving the time-displaced X-men go out of their way to ignore. It's both refreshing and profound in that sense that it gives the story genuine stakes, but still doesn't forget that those involved are teenagers. That means that no matter how serious the story may be, there's going to be some entertaining awkwardness along the way.

There is some of that in X-men Blue #16, but not nearly enough. Much of the melodrama involves ongoing emotional entanglements between Cyclops and Jean Grey. While those kinds of entanglements are a major part of X-men drama, regardless of timeline, they seem somewhat forced. It's as though these two always have to have the same kind of drama thrown in, as though that's the only drama they know. Being teenagers, that's less believable than anyone shooting lasers from their eyes.

Even if the melodrama is forced and the pace is quick, the sheer intensity of X-men Blue #16 make it a solid beginning to what promises to be a chaotic arc involving time travel. Given how X-men Blue is coming off an event that involved Mojo, that's saying something. Bunn's concise storytelling and Silas' colorful lay a solid foundation that has the potential to incur more significant implications than anything the time-displaced X-men have experienced to date. Like Marty McFly though, they will likely have to learn about those implications the hard way.

Final Score 6 out of 10

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Secrets, Convergence, and the Sacred: Doomsday Clock #1

The following is my review of Doomsday Clock #1, which was posted on

In the colorful history of comics, there are only a handful of sacred concepts that can never be sullied. They can be refined, reimagined, or expanded, but to twist them is akin to poking the Hulk in the eye. It's just a reckless invitation for outrage and anguish. Whether it's Superman's virtue, Batman's gadgets, or Deadpool's love of tacos, these ideas have a special place in comics lore that may as well be carved in adamantium.

In the annuls of the DC mythos, few stories are as sacred or revered as Alan Moore's Watchmen. Even today, it's impossible to overstate just how groundbreaking this story was for DC and comics, as a whole. That story, in all its dark and cynical glory, shows just how far comics can take a particular concept. Watchmen really went for broke, taking on everything from the merits of heroism to the corruption that comes with god-like power. These are all concepts that play out in countless myths and Watchmen found a way to break new ground on these concepts.

It's for that reason that incorporating Watchmen into the DC universe carries a huge risk. It's one thing to expand the world of Watchmen, which was done in the Before Watchmen series. It's quite another to work it into the ongoing upheavals of the DC universe. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank set these worlds on a collision course with the events of DC Rebirth #1.

Now, with Doomsday Clock #1, the collision is imminent and the sacred status of Watchmen is at stake. Given that Johns and Grank are DC's creative equivalent of the A-Team, this historic gamble is in the best possible position to pay off. Doing so, however, means recapturing the same complexities and quirks of Watchmen. That's exactly what Doomsday Clock #1 spends most of the time doing and while Alan Moore may still resent everything DC does with his creations, it finds a way to succeed.

The world of Watchmen is still as dark as ever, but Doomsday Clock #1 effectively doubles down on it, building upon a world where heroes and men with god-like power set humanity on a dark, dangerous course. In a sense, it picks up where the last panel of Watchmen left off in a very literal sense. Rorschach's journal, which thoroughly documented the events of the original Watchmen, helps expose Ozymandias' elaborate ruse. From there, a world built on cynicism and disillusion somehow becomes even darker.

In a sense, the world of Doomsday Clock is the ultimate extreme in terms of what happens when a lie becomes too big to brush aside as an alternate fact. This concept is wholly relevant in an era where the biggest threat isn't the Soviet Union launching a nuclear attack. It's people who buy into the lies, half-truths, and agendas. A willingness to buy into those lies is exactly what characters like Ozymandias exploit, what Rorschach despises, and what the Comedian laughs at.

It's one thing to brush aside stories of presidents colluding with foreign agents. It's quite another to brush aside a massive deception that unleashes armies of monsters and kills millions in a bid to unite the world. That's a lie that nobody in the world of Doomsday Clock can accept or spin. Even the news media at their worst cannot hope to twist the facts into serving an agenda.

Johns and Frank really channel their inner Alan Moore and David Gibbons, which may be much easier today than it was in the mid-80s. They don't just guide the narrative through a darker, more cynical path. They push it to an extent where extremes like nuclear war feel expected, if not logical. They build a world full of people who find out that their heroes and their most powerful icons lied to them in a way that killed millions. It's a dark world, to say the least, and one where outrage manifests in more than hashtags.

Doomsday Clock once again puts the world of Watchmen on the brink of destruction. However, it's the ties to the world of DC Rebirth that really raises the stakes. What happens in this world can't just be brushed aside like one of the many elseworlds that build their structures around apocalyptic scenarios. Due to the events of DC Rebirth #1, these worlds are entwined now. That makes the story that unfolds in Doomsday Clock #1 feel so impactful.

That story doesn't rely heavily on DC's biggest heroes, nor does it try to incorporate the entire cast of Watchmen into the mix. It focuses on key characters like Ozymandias and Rorschach with support from secondary characters like Marionette and the Mime. They guide the bulk of the narrative, bringing Superman and the world of DC's heroes at the end. The ties between the two worlds are somewhat loose, but since they are already established thanks to DC Rebirth #1, there's still a strong sense of cohesion.

A big part of what makes Watchmen such a powerful story is how well it reflects the sentiments of a certain period in history. It's something that Before Watchmen didn't attempt, but Doomsday Clock #1 dares to follow that same approach. By nearly every measure, it works. The themes in the story are even more relevant in 2017 than they were in 1985. Adding the impact on the greater DC Universe only heightens the importance of those themes.

Every comic tries to be groundbreaking in its own right, but few have the context and the themes to achieve this. Watchmen succeeded by being ambitious at just the right time with just the right kind of story. That's a big part of why it has such a sacred status in the history of comics. Doomsday Clock can't achieve that same sacred status just yet, but it succeeds in capturing many of the elements that make Watchmen such a powerful story.

The prospect of the world of Watchmen impacting that of the larger DC universe remains intriguing. The events of Doomsday Clock #1 helps set that story up in a way that captures the same sentiments that make both worlds so compelling. Such an effort still has some lofty goals with some long odds, but so far, that gamble is paying off in a profound way.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, November 24, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 160: Unholy Man Part 2 is LIVE!

It’s Black Friday and I’m sure most people out there are still digesting their Thanksgiving dinner. I know I am. I also hope everyone is still hungry for another major turning point in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Those tend to happen a lot when Reverend William Stryker is involved. Since he showed up in the District X arc, he has been a recurring threat for the X-men. Fueled by hatred and religious zealotry, Styrker has put Charles Xavier and his team in a lot of tough positions. However, this latest predicament may be the hardest and have the most implications for the course of this fanfiction series.

For a time, Reverend Stryker was dealing with various setbacks. At one point, he was a key advisor to President Robert Kelly. He wielded a great deal of influence, which he hoped to channel into his anti-mutant agenda. Then, General Grimshaw entered the picture in X-men Supreme Issue 75: Renegade. His approach to Charles Xavier, the X-men, and mutants hasn’t been the same. However, his influence eventually superseded that of Reverend Stryker. General Grimshaw’s position was only further strengthened at the end of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide with the implementation of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative.

Reverend Stryker may have taken a major hit, in terms of influence, but his religious zeal never faltered. It was only a matter of time before he became an issue in this fanfiction series. There’s a reason why he constantly confounds the X-men in both the comics and movies. It’s not enough that he’s determined. He believes that he is divinely ordained to take on mutants. He isn’t afraid to put himself out there and attack. Unfortunately, this time the attack found him.

In the first issue of the Unholy Man arc, it’s revealed that Reverend Stryker and his Purfiers endured a sudden and devastating attack. An unknown threat composed of operatives who appeared to wield mutant powers struck in the middle of the sermon, killing dozens of Stryker’s militant followers. It wasn’t much of a fight. It was a true massacre. The X-men only arrived after the devastation and after Styrker took his outrage out on Father Ryan Hansen, another religious man who has been an ally to mutants.

The mysterious threat remains at large, but Stryker is prepared to take his anger out on the X-men. What happened to him and why marks a pivotal moment for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. To date, the X-men have faced a number of threats to the Mutant Monitoring Initiative and not just from X-Force, the team founded by Cyclops and Wolverine to oppose the initiative. They’ve dealt with dangerous mutants and the return of Sebastian Shaw. However, the they now face is unlike anything they’ve ever dealt with.

It’s a threat that I’ve been building since X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. It’s one I’ve been eager to bring into this fanfiction series for quite some time. This threat should be familiar to those who have followed the X-men comics. It involves some controversial characters that I’m sure will cause some reservations. I would urge those who feel that way to bear with me because I intend to make those characters awesome in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. First, though, the X-men need to get through the events of Unholy Man with their spirits intact.

X-men Supreme Issue 160: Unholy Man Part 2

I’m very excited for the future of this fanfiction series. X-men Supreme has incorporated a long list of iconic X-men and Marvel characters into the story. Some are easier to utilize than others because they’re so closely tied to the X-men. Others are a bit lesser known and controversial. I understand that not every character in the history of the X-men mythos is beloved. Some are downright despised. That makes bringing them into X-men Supreme and making them awesome all the more challenging.

I intend to rise to that challenge. I want to make every character that shows up in this fanfiction series as awesome as possible. To do that, I need feedback from the passionate X-men fans who help make them awesome. This latest issue helps set the stage and it’s only going to escalate from here on out. So please, as always, I urge you to take the time to review. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Friday, November 17, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 160: Unholy Man Part 2 PREVIEW

Desperate times call for desperate measures, but sometimes those measures can be foolish, extreme, and downright cruel. The X-men have found themselves in many situations like that over the course of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. From cosmic battles against the Phoenix Force to the global crisis with the Cambrian, the X-men are no strangers to desperation. They’ve often found a way to beat the odds against the likes of Magneto, Sinister, and the Mutant Liberation Front without resorting to extremes or cruelty. Reverend William Stryker does not share that kind of reservation.

The ongoing Unholy Man arc has put Reverend Stryker in a dangerous, albeit tragic position. He has been a major source of conflict for the X-men ever since his arrival in the District X arc back in X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. He embodies the worst kind of religious zealotry, painting his bigotry and hatred of mutants as some sort of holy crusade. That kind of religious extremism has all sorts of painful parallels in the real world. Those are the kinds of parallels that help X-men resonate, as a story. Like real life, unfortunately, that zealotry has led to serious atrocities.
For reasons not yet clear, Reverend Stryker attacked and seriously wounded Father Ryan Hansen.

Like Stryker, Father Hansen is a man of great faith and one of the few original characters in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, alongside the likes of Captain Freeman and General Grimshaw. However, he stands in stark contrast to Reverend Stryker. Since his arrival in X-men Supreme Issue 111: Divine Intervention, he has become a close ally of the X-men. Instead of hatred and bigotry, his faith inspires hope and love between humans and mutants. While it has resonated with some mutants, including X-men like Rogue, it has only provoked men like Reverend Stryker.

His attack on Father Hansen hasn’t just hit the X-men on a personal, spiritual level. It has also revealed another looming crisis in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’s one that I’ve actually been building towards since the events of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. The events of Unholy Man simply represent the first shot, of sorts. In the attack that decimated Reverend Stryker’s Purifier army, this unnamed threat has made its presence known to this fanfiction series. The identity and goal of that threat is one that should inspire a mix of reactions among X-men fans. It’s also going to test the X-men, right down to their souls.

Since the beginning of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, I’ve charted a course for the X-men and their rivals in X-Force. The ongoing dissention surrounding the Mutant Monitoring Initiative remains unresolved and promises to get more heated. Charles Xavier still believes he is doing the right thing. Cyclops and Wolverine still believe they’re doing the right thing as well with X-Force. They’re about to encounter a threat that will test their beliefs and the conclusion of the Unholy Man arc is just the beginning. As always, I’ve prepared an extended preview of the unholy action that awaits.

“My god…” gasped Professor Charles Xavier as he pieced together the gruesome details from Reverend Stryker’s thoughts.

“No, Charles Xavier…this wasn’t your god,” said Stryker coldly, “Only evil could produce such carnage. Only evil tainted by your kind’s cursed blood.”

It had been a long time since Xavier had been in the middle of such a bloodied battlefield. During his travels as a young adult, he had seen many horrific scenes. Even those paled in comparison to what he saw before him. If Stryker’s twisted thoughts were accurate, then the source of such carnage utilized some ominously familiar methods.

For Phoenix, Storm, and Captain Freeman it left them feeling sick. As they followed Professor Xavier to the central area, they passed by rows upon rows of bodies. On each body, they could make out the distinct claw marks that were so familiar to them. It raised many disturbing questions that were sure to have equally disturbing answers.

“There’s no way Wolverine or X-Force did this. They couldn’t!” said Storm as she looked over the bodies.

“Maybe they wouldn’t, but I can see Weapon X doing this sort of thing every other week,” said Phoenix angrily.

“I agree. This kind of brutality is practically their business card,” said Captain Freeman as he investigated some of the bodies.

“But I thought Weapon X was finished after the death of John Wraith,” said Storm.

“It wouldn’t be the first time Weapon X defied its own demise,” said Professor Xavier as he remained focus on Reverend Stryker, “This wasn’t just a slaughter. It was a statement. Someone wanted to demonstrate their lethal capabilities.”

“And they did,” said Reverend Stryker, now standing shirtless before a pile of dead bodies, “They slaughtered my flock. To ensure their evil spreads, they spared the women and children. Their traumatized stories will fill all those who receive God’s truth with terror. It is a direct affront to God. As such, I cannot allow it to stand!”

“If you think that’s an excuse for shooting Father Hansen, then you’re worshipping the wrong God, reverend,” said Captain Freeman as he caught up with Professor Xavier.

“Don’t you dare claim to know God better than I do! I’ve endured the scars of sin. I’ve dedicated my life to repenting…not just for myself, but for all humanity. Father Hansen was just one of many false prophets that you X-men have allowed to propagate. He will burn, as well the rest of your corrupt brethren.”

“Enough with the preaching. We get it. You hate mutants,” said Phoenix, “What is shooting an innocent man and luring us here supposed to accomplish anyways?”

“I don’t think you understand what took place here,” said Storm, “There’s no need to make this tragedy any worse.”

“Shut up! I understand perfectly,” said Reverend Stryker sternly, “God tested Job with many hardships on his path to salvation. I’m nowhere near as holy as Job, but if God sees fit to test me then I shall pass with flying colors…even if it requires sacrifice!”

This man was both distraught and determined, almost to the point of madness. There was no making sense of what happened to his Purifiers. Reverend Stryker had drawn his own conclusion.

He wasn’t going to accept any aid from the X-men. It didn’t matter if attack was carried out by Weapon X or Satan himself. He was prepared to retaliate. As the emboldened holy man stood before the X-men, he took out a small device from his pocket and held it up.

“Ah hell, is that what I think it is?” groaned Phoenix.

“He’s rigged this place to blow!” exclaimed Captain Freeman, “Hurry up and…”

“Too late, X-men,” seethed Reverend Stryker, “May god have mercy on our souls!”

With this holy proclamation, Reverend Stryker pressed one of two large buttons on the device. A deafening explosion followed, shaking the mega church to its core. In an instant, chaos turned to darkness as the roof of the building came crashing down.

There are plenty of upheavals to come in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Expect plenty of action, drama, and strain. Hearts will be broken and mended. Spirits will be crushed and strengthened. The X-men are at their best when they face overwhelming odds and dramatic conflicts that test more than their strength. I intend to embody that struggle in this fanfiction series and make it as awesome as possible.

As such, it’s critical that I continue to get feedback. When I planned out X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, I did so knowing that I would be taking this fanfiction series in a controversial direction and at a time when the X-men comics are going in the opposite direction. I also did so believing that this direction would have a huge payoff at the end, one I intend to make awesome for every X-men fan. To reach that goal, I still need feedback. Either contact me directly or post comments directly in the issue. Either is fine and I’m happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Life, Living Weapons, and (Unlearned) Lessons: Weapon X #11

The following is my review of Weapon X #11, which was posted on

There are certain narratives that can only offer so much novelty and shock value. Audiences can only see Captain America punch the Red Skull so many times before it loses its underlying impact. There's nothing inherently wrong with these stories. They can still be uniquely satisfying in their own sort of way. However, there comes a point where the novelty is so absent that the concept lacks any sense of tension.

When it comes to the Marvel Universe, there aren't many rules, written or otherwise, that don't get bent or broken at some point. The dead come back to life with almost as much regularity as Spider-Man's immature wisecracks. Villains become heroes and villains become heroes with the ease of changing car insurance providers. The malleability of Marvel, and comics as a whole, is part of what makes it so entertaining in the first place.

However, there are still a few rules carved into adamantium that rarely get broken. One such rule involves living weapons. It may as well be as ironclad as Deadpool's immaturity. Anyone who creates a living weapon will be unable to control it. It's as inevitable as the Hulk's mood swings. That still doesn't stop the forces Weapon H, the latest attempt to subvert the living weapons rule within the pages of the Weapon X comic.

In a sense, this attempt is the most ambitious effort to date to make a story about living weapons seem novel. It involves both the Hulk and Wolverine, two characters that Greg Pak has extensive experience writing. It plays to his strengths and the over-the-top destruction plays into Marc Borstel's strengths as an artist. Weapon X #11, which marks the conclusion of the Weapon H arc, has every necessary tool to succeed. The results are somewhat generic, but the conclusion is still satisfying.

Weapon H has an uphill battle from the beginning, but does plenty to set himself apart, even if he is a simple mix of Wolverine and Hulk type brutality. Like nearly every living weapon ever created in an X-men comic, Weapon H has a wannabe puppet-master in Dr. Alba. Having already gotten assistance from the likes of William Stryker, Dr. Alba establishes herself as the kind of callous, corrupt manipulator who is crazy enough to think she can buck the trend of living weapons turning violently on their creators. To her credit, though, she manages to accomplish more than most.

Her hold on Weapon H comes off as more complex than simple brainwashing, at first. For much of the Weapon H arc, as a whole, Dr. Alba proved herself to be more thorough than the typical Hydra spy or used car salesman. She places herself at the center of Weapon H's world, making it seem as though she's less a puppet-master and more a friend. Throughout the story, she presents herself as the only friend Weapon H has left whereas William Stryker sees him as just another blunt instrument to satisfy his thirst for mutant blood.

It's cunning and it helps create a solid backstory around Weapon H, whose identity remains somewhat guarded. However, he is shown to have a civilian life. Like the Hulk and Wolverine, there is a man behind the monster. While that man makes his share of questionable decisions, especially being a special ops soldier who gets involved with a living weapons program, he does make clear that he values his humanity. He shows that he's not quite as eager to throw that away, which is something Logan can't always claim.

However, whatever complexity the man behind Weapon H may have, much of that gets undercut when Dr. Alba resorts to using the kind of outdated control methods that failed miserably with Wolverine and everyone like him since the late 70s. Not surprisingly, she still can't make anyone who values their humanity to willingly become a living weapon. She ends up resorting to hypnotic suggestions and a mind control serum. That may occasionally work in a bad CIA movie, but against the Hulk, that's akin to giving Deadpool unlimited amounts of tacos and napalm.

It still makes for some brutal, Hulk-level action that Borstel's art brings to life nicely. However, it never gets too brutal, primarily because Old Man Logan and his Weapon X crew don't let that happen. To some extent, that does limit the impact of the action. There's never a sense that the brutality has some sort of price beyond property damage. Unless insurance premiums are sentient, nobody suffers beyond the utter terror that comes with seeing a monster that blends the Hulk and Wolverine.

Even if the action is generic, the way the conflict gets resolved still feels satisfying and carries with it a fair amount of drama. While the method by which Weapon H regains control of his faculties are somewhat predictable, the way he deals with his situation is probably the healthiest way any living weapon can cope. He doesn't suffer the kind of violent, blood-rage breakdown that Wolverine seems to endure every other week. What he does is actually consistent with that of a soldier who understands what that role entails.

This is what gives Weapon X #11 more staying power, beyond simply resolving the Weapon H arc and bringing yet another living weapon into the Marvel universe. It creates a character in Weapon H, or Hulkverine as he's also called, who has something to offer that goes beyond the standard narratives that Wolverine and the Hulk have been telling since the Cater Administration.

Weapon H may be the latest in a long line of failed living weapons, but he establishes his own unique character and story. He's not like Wolverine and Sabretooth in that he's not a mutant. He's not like Bruce Banner either in that he's not a scientist with anger management problems. He's a soldier, but the complexity Pak establishes in previous issues help set him apart.

In doing so, the way in which Weapon H ends the conflict has a sense of dramatic weight. It also lays a foundation for more stories involving this character. Even if he is a basic blend of Hulk and Wolverine, that blend is still pretty potent. Like putting a fresh coat of paint over a new car, there's still plenty of appeal with Weapon H.

That, in essence, is Weapon X #11's greatest accomplishment. It doesn't just give Old Man Logan and his team of Weapon X outcasts another victory in the never-ending war against people who still think living weapons are a good idea. It creates a character in Weapon H that is worth rooting for and caring about. Even in a world where there are multiple Hulks and multiple Wolverines, it makes clear that there's still a place for someone like Weapon H. In the same way a world can never have too much chocolate or free donuts, it can never have too many compelling Hulk/Wolverine characters.

Final Score: 7 out of 10