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TheMidnighter

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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #30 on: Aug 11th, 2009, 3:35pm »

I have read the issues of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men. They involved different stories leading up to Messiah Complex.

Uncanny X-Men 487-491: The Extremists
This storyline starts with the Morlocks, a group of mutants too ugly or weird to pass for normal living in the sewers. After the effect of M-Day -- which left all but less than 200 mutants powerless -- the Morlocks have splintered into different groups. Qwerty, a Morlock who saw the consequences of every choice imaginable, used to live a passive life, doing nothing but breathing since the long-term effects of getting up or opening a door were too much to acknowledge. When she lost her powers after M-Day, she started writing all her visions since she finally had piece of mind. The scriptures are the basis of the storyline.

The Morlocks have split up into two groups, one benevolent, the other malicious. The former group of pacifists calls itself The New Dream. The latter groups is led by Masque. Masque has read Qwerty's scriptures and sees the path to mutant dominion of the world in it. Masque puts everything in motion by kidnapping the young Morlock Leech and by assaulting Caliban. Along the way, he also disfigures several humans' faces.

Due to the cryptic nature of the scriptures, the definitive meaning of the scriptures cannot be known. Its meaning is open to interpretation, all in the eye of the beholder. Not realising this, Masque is surprised when the X-Men he captured break free and defeat him.

The story was interesting during the first read because the reader is left in the dark. Upon a second reading, however, this interest dwindles. It was the suspense that made the story nice to read. In the end, however, the scriptures end up with Magneto. The books talk about a new hope [for mutantkind] and that Magneto is still a mutant (i.e., he never lost his powers after M-Day).

Slightly above average story. Masque has a sick mutant ability.
7/10
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #31 on: Aug 11th, 2009, 3:55pm »

X-Men 200-204: Blinded by the Light
In the 'other' title -- the one I happen to like most -- things get started with the extra-sized #200. It starts with Rogue's team (Rogue, Iceman, Cannonball, Omega Sentinel, Mystique and Lady Mastermind) arriving at Mystique's safe house. Rogue, after having absorbed the 8 billion minds from inside the Hecatomb, does not seem to function well -- she seems fragmented and distracted.

Then, things take a turn for the worse. First, a mutant known as Quiet Bill is murdered. Then, when cleaning up Providence, Cable is attacked by Gambit and Sunfire, who both work for Mr Sinister. Omega Sentinel is infected by a virus, later revealed to be Malice, another Marauder. Whereas the original Malice possessed bodies psionically, this new one does so digitally. Finally, Lady Mastermind and Mystique side with the assembled Marauders against the X-Men from their own free will.
Thus, a lot of people are now against them and Rogue is down for the count as well. All in all, the X-Men have a lot to do.

(Nice note: Mystique poisoned Iceman so that he could not use his powers well. She had in a neural inhibitor in her "lipstick and-- elsewhere." Nice touch.)

Mystique shoots down Rogue and orders the Marauders to kill the other X-Men. Rogue is down, Omega Sentinel is possessed by Malice, Lady Mastermind has turned on her own accord, Iceman is stuck in human form. In the end, only Cannonball and Iceman escape the ambush.

Apparently, the Marauders target mutants with precognitive powers (e.g., Blindfold) or that have knowledge about the future otherwise (e.g., Cable since he grew up in the future). At the X-Mansion, Blindfold, one of the mutant students, is the next target. Foreseeing this, as precognitive people tend to do, Blindfold grabs both hands of Elixir -- the golden hand that heals and the black hand that kills. She falls on the ground, in a state of suspended animation.

This convinces Exodus and the Acolytes -- yes, the Acolytes are in this too -- that Blindfold is dead, which is why they leave her alone. The Acolytes then move onto finding Destiny's Diaries, which lay out the future of mutantkind. Destiny's Diaries are kept in the X-Mansion but, to the Acolytes' and even the X-Men's surprise, they are blank.

Kitty Pryde hid Destiny's Diaries somewhere. After that, Emma Frost locked the memory of it away and made everyone see the blank decoys as real. This way, even a mind probe would not give away the location of the books.

Meanwhile, Mystique has taken Rogue back to Mr Sinister's headquarters. Mr Sinister's plan is to blind the X-Men to knowledge of the future. Mr Sinister is tracking Iceman and Cannonball on their way to the real Diaries. the Marauders ambush them and, whilst the two X-Men hold their own for a while, they are defeated in the end when Mr Sinister shows up. The Diaries are destroyed by Gambit who claims Scalphunter threw off his aim.

And then the arc ends. Rogue is with Mr Sinister and Mystique. Iceman and Cannonball return to the X-Mansion, Blindfold gets out of her suspended animation all by herself. The X-Men seem worse for the wear and, worst of all, they have no idea what is going to happen. What does Mr Sinister know they do not?

The final issue (#204) sets up the fight that will start in the Messiah Complex crossover. Cyclops wants to take the fight to Mr Sinister and the Marauders, in part for the death of his son, Cable. Additionally, it focusses on Rogue and Gambit. There is a very nice scene where Gambit talks and apologises to a comatose Rogue. The next two pages are one big spread that show Rogue's fondest memories of herself with Gambit, amidst the other eight billion minds in her mind. Really a beautiful moment.

Then, Blindfold screams and blood starts to run from her nose. It seems she has foreseen something so intense, it physically injured her. What can the future hold that has such an effect on a clairvoyant? Mr Sinister knows: it is one minute before the dawn of a new age.

Man, this rocked. Mike Carey, Chris Bachalo and Humberto Ramos really keep on knocking balls out of the park.
9.5/10
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #32 on: Aug 12th, 2009, 07:27am »

Endangered Species
This story consists of material from the one-shot and the 17 eight-page backup features from Uncanny X-Men #488-#491, X-Men #200-#204, X-Factor #21-#24 and New X-Men #40-#42.

After M-Day, the number of mutants plummeted to less than two hundred, with no new mutants manifesting... The story starts at the funeral of a mutant child. He was unknown to the readers -- just a normal kid (except that he was a mutant) that went to school and got hit by a truck.

During the funeral, Beast and Jamie Madrox discuss the future of the mutant race. Beast states he will not give up trying to find a way to create the mutant gene -- they will not be a dying breed.

Since M-Day, Beast has tried, without succes, to find ways to create the mutant gene, with the help of the greatest scientific minds (e.g., Reed Richards). None of it helped. Beast does not quit, however. In a desperate attempt to rescue his species, he bargains for help from the 'evil' scientists (e.g., Dr Doom, The High Evolutionary, Pandemic).

No one answers the call but The High Evolutionary declines in a cryptic way. Beast decides to follow-up on The High Evolutionary's comments and travels to Wundagore. When Beast arrives, The High Evolutionary mentions Beast cannot hope to find an answer to this problem through science. It was magic that changed the world, so magic must be used to undo those changes.

Beast refuses to accept this. In his quest, Beast encounters Dark Beast, himself from the Age of Apocalypse timeline. Dark Beast argues they should team up -- they both want mutantkind to live on but Beast might not have the stomach to do the things that need to be done. Dark Beast has no ethics since Apocalypse allowed everything to be done to humans and mutant traitors in the name of science.

Thus, the two work together.
- They dig up graves from mutants that perished when Genosha was attacked by a sentinel. Nothing useful...
- Forge, the mutant inventor, has a device that monitors different timelines for mutant activity. The monitors shows flatlines...
- They visit the Guthrie family. Two human parents have birthed ten children, several of which became mutants. Other children have not yet reached puberty - therefore not activating their latent abilities - or might not have turned into mutants, anyway. Beast thinks these parents can provide the building blocks to recreate the mutant genome -- from their human DNA, mutants and humans were born. Perhaps they can help...

... Nothing worked, of course. Beast broke off the alliance with Dark Beast and visits Dr. Strange. Dr. Strange shows that Wanda Maximoff's spell (the one that reversed almost all mutant genes to human ones) did not just change the genes -- it changed the entire tapestry of this realm, as well as other realms and other dimensions. Should Dr. Strange attempt to nullify Wanda's spell, he could unravel the entire universe.

Journeying with Dr. Strange through different realms, Beast sees himself in different incarnations. All versions have one thing in common: they firmly believe in one thing, whether it be science, faith, sorcery, technology et cetera. It makes Beast realise his scope is too narrow -- every different Beast believes his chosen path will lead to the answer.

Thus, it looks like a cul-de-sac for mutants. There will be no new mutants.

This story led to nothing. But that was the point: there is no change to be made for the mutants. Scientist Beast cannot interfere with this course.
I liked it. I had mixed feelings about it at first but it showed an interesting tale starring Beast. We learned about him as well as the fate of mutantkind as it stands now.
8+/10
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #33 on: Aug 19th, 2009, 1:58pm »

Messiah Complex
X-Men: Messiah Complex
Uncanny X-Men 492-494
X-Men 205-207
New X-Men 44-46
X-Factor 25-27


Wow. Messiah Complex rocked. This was an incredibly fascinating story that kept you guessing who the true villain was (and it was a cool twist). It changed the X-Men and especially made Cyclops cooler. Morisson and Whedon already did this, but Messiah Complex really took it to a different level.

Summary
The story starts with a psychic outburst that affects Professor Xavier, Emma Frost and overloads Cerebra. We learn later that this was all caused by the birth of the first mutant in years. The baby simply existing fried Cerebra. Several groups are interested in the baby: the X-Men (protect the baby), the Marauders (control the baby) and William Stryker’s Purifiers (kill the baby). There is also a sort of bloodhound thing called Predator X that feeds off mutants.

The X-Men arrive after the Marauders and the Purifiers. The Purifiers tried to kill all children. The Marauders, who now also have Gambit and Mystique as members, clashed with the mutant-haters since they wanted to bring the baby to Mr Sinister. When the X-Men arrive, they find only two burned baby bodies whereas three babies were born that night -- someone took the baby. Most likely it is now in the hands of Mr Sinister, since the Purifiers would have just killed the baby, not take it.

The following day, upon returning, Xavier asks Cyclops why he was not informed of the investigation last night. Cyclops answers what he stated before: Xavier is done, Cyclops leads the X-Men now. Xavier made too many mistakes and lied too many times.

Cyclops asks X-Factor members Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man), Layla Miller (from House of M) and Rictor (depowered since M-Day) to help out in their search for the mutant child. Rictor infiltrates the Purifiers - as he is depowered and, therefore, human - and Madrox and Layla visit Forge, the mutant inventor. Forge tells them what we saw during Endangered Species: after M-Day, all alternative timelines involving mutants flatlined. In other words, they have no more mutants. However, since the birth of this mutant baby, two of these timelines have spiked. Two Madrox clones will investigate these timelines. In the last moment, Layla jumps time with a Madrox clone, 80 years into a possible future.

The New X-Men, students at the Xavier Mansion, feel left out by Cyclops. They have a history with the Purifiers who have killed a lot of their friends. A couple New X-Men infiltrate the Purifiers’ church to rescue the baby if its there and to hurt the Purifiers. Upon arrival, they learn the baby is not in the hands of the Purifiers. However, Lady Deathstrike has assembled a team of assassins within the Purifiers’ organisation (they are called the Reavers but do not look like any of the originals led by Donald Pierce). The fights is unequal and the New X-Men would have been slaughtered if young mutant Pixie had not teleported them away.

Meanwhile, a couple of X-Men ambush Mr Sinister and the Marauders. The X-Men learn that Mr Sinister and the Marauders do not have the baby either. Wolverine learned from Gambit (who sides with the Marauders) that one of the X-Men took the baby. He relays the message to Cyclops, Emma Frost, Iceman, Beast and Bishop. Just when the X-Men at the mansion hear who has the baby, the pilots of the governmental Sentinels that guard the mansion are taken over by some nanovirus and attack the X-Men who just heard the news.

The scene then switches to a lonely figure in a snowy landscape, with the baby clutched to his chest. Cable.

At the mansion, all telepaths are unconscious. After the New X-Men return - being rescued by Iceman - the Sentinels are defeated It turns out the pilots were infected by nano-sentinels like a virus. Cyclops makes a hard decision: he orders Wolverine to assemble X-Force, an X-Men assassination fraction. They are to target Cable and return the baby to the X-Men, whatever the cost.

80 years in the future, Madrox and Layla learn that mutants are outlawed and put into camps. Later, they are arrested and brought to one of those camps themselves. Apparently, there has been a “six-minute war” in this timeline. Madrox and Layla are marked as mutants (with a big ‘M’ tattooed over their right eye, into their DNA) and finally placed within the camp.

Cable is pursued by Lady Deathstrike and the new Reavers. Although Cable manages to protect the baby, he gets injured pretty badly. X-Force arrives just in time to keep Cable and the baby from death. Lady Deathstrike squares off with X-23 - and X-23 literally takes her apart - while Wolverine pursues Cable. In the end, Cable disappears by stealing the Blackbird jet. One of the casualties is Caliban.

Cerebra is repaired and back online. The Stepford Cuckoos locate Cable near Forge. Cable asks Forge for a time-machine but finds Forge gunned down. Immediately, someone guns down Cable and stands over the baby mutant to shoot it. Bishop.

Luckily, the Marauders engage Bishop in combat and knock him out. They take the baby. When the X-Men arrive to the scene, Bishop lies and tells them Cable shot Forge down. Cable has managed to escape and telepathically asks Xavier to help him -- together they can save the future.

80 years in the future, Madrox and Layla meet a young Lucas Bishop, who tells them what happened. There used to be mutants who believed mutants and humans would coexist together peacefully. But about 80 years ago, ‘The Great Darkness’ [probably the depowering of mutants, M-Day] occurred. After this, almost all of the mutants who believed that dream vanished [depowered]. The ones left over kept pursuing the dream and then, a ‘mutant messiah’ [the new mutant baby] appeared. Everything is great for mutants until the messiah kills one million humans.

The young Lucas Bishop heard someone tried to assassinate the baby at that time. He wishes that person [ironically, as it seems, this person is his older self] had succeeded -- his parents would then have lived this day. With this knowledge, Layla kills the Madrox clone to send his knowledge back to the original, who is still in the present.

Meanwhile, the Marauders and the baby are en route to Muir Island, where Mr Sinister relocated to after the X-Men found them the first time. The Stepford Cuckoos learn of their destination and Cyclops ends Wolverine and X-Force after them, along with Bishop, since he has the fastest ship [well played, Bishop].

Just a tad too late, Madrox acquires the information from the future -- and the ‘M’ tattoo -- and the X-Men race after Bishop, now that they know he believes this child to ruin the future. They cannot contacted the other team, as Bishop is blocking their attempts.

We learn that Xavier has found Cable and tended to his wounds. Xavier demands an explanation from Cable why he did not inform the X-Men of his plan. Cable says they cannot spare the time -- this mutant baby will change everything, the baby saves humans, mutants, everyone. Cable just wants to keep it safe. They both are on their way to Muir Island as well.

At Muir Island, Mystique watches over Rogue. (The Marauders took Rogue in X-Men 203.) Mr Sinister informs Mystique that Rogue will not make it. The Strain 88 virus that kills everyone on touch, absorbing eight billion minds -- it has been too much for Rogue. Mystique says that she knows and always has known. Mystique then, out of nowhere, grabs Mr Sinister, who is as surprised as the reader, and presses him against Rogue. Her touch kills, so Mr Sinister is no more.

When the Marauders arrive, Gambit hands the baby over to Mystique, who impersonates Mr Sinister. Then, X-Force, Wolverine and Bishop arrive and, soon after, the rest of the X-Men. Cyclops shouts to find Bishop. Mystique places the baby’s forehead onto Rogue’s lips, saying it will cure Rogue.

Back at the mansion, the New X-Men find and fight Predator X. Pixie, desperate, teleports Predator X and everyone else present to the person who defeated a Predator X in the past: X-23. So now everyone is at Muir Island.

Gambit, enraged, snares the baby away from Rogue, out of Mystique’ hands. He claims she is crazy, that Rogue would never want to live if a baby’s life was the cost. Despite his own love for Rogue, he himself would not want it. Xavier, who just arrived, is relieved to hear that and takes the baby. He telepathically tells Cable, who is fighting elsewhere, to meet him upstairs. Gambit stays with Rogue. Xavier hands the baby over to Cable, who is then attacked by Bishop and Predator X. At an apparent impasse, Cable plays the two against each other. Bishop’s bullets do not deter the beast, who eats Bishop’s arm.

Then, Cyclops takes control of the situation. The arrival of the New X-Men changed everything. Wolverine and X-Force will take down Predator X and the New X-Men will take down the Marauders. The Marauders have trained for years to face the X-Men, so Cyclops gives them an adversary they do not know.

Meanwhile, Cyclops goes to see Cable, ironically his own son he sent into the future years ago to save his life. Cyclops demands the baby. Cable wants to take her into the future -- here, everybody wants something from her. Xavier argues to hand the baby over to Cyclops, at least to let him see what this has been about. This is not about an individual, this is the future of mutantkind. As leader, Cyclops must speak for all X-Men and decide how to proceed.

Rogue wakes up. She looks healthy but she is pissed that Mystique always hurts others to help her. It has to stop. She touches Mystique but, unexpectedly, Mystique does not die. The baby’ touched cured Rogue -- no more Strain 88, death touch, no more eight billion souls in her head. She was free, at least until the point she absorbed Mystique. She leaves Gambit to find a place to think her life over. “If you still care for me, Remy, don’t follow me.”
« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2009, 2:04pm by TheMidnighter » User IP Logged

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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #34 on: Aug 19th, 2009, 1:59pm »

The X-Men, X-Force and the New X-Men are winning, but an injured Bishop makes use of the battle to slip away. Wolverine kills Predator X from the inside out by allowing himself to be swallowed. The Marauders are defeated.

The baby is now in Cyclops’s arms. She has gone through a lot, this green-eyed, red-haired infant. She reaches for the pendant Scott has with a photo of him and Jean Grey, his first wife. This triggers memories: of Jean urging Cyclops to live while she was dying, of sending his own son into the future to save him from a disease and of his own time in the future raising Cable.

Xavier tells Cyclops to not think of controlling the future, only to allo it to be born. Cyclops says there are two possibilities now (as seen on Forge’s monitor of timelines). [Probably Bishop’s future where she ignites hatred and isolation of mutants and Cable’s future where she saves everyone.]

Cyclops gently kisses the baby on her forehead and tells Cable to take her. Cable must give her a life where she is not a piece to someone else’s puzzle -- she must be free, unlike Cable was.

Cable and the baby quickly disappears into the future. Just then, Bishop appears, apparently after having struggled to get to the child. Upon seeing the baby disappear out of his reach, he snaps. He shoots to where Cable stood only moments ago, striking Xavier in the head. Cyclops blasts Bishop while Beast realises Xavier has died. All turn to Cyclops: what do they do now Xavier has gone?

Pray that the baby will grow up to prosper. Hope Bishop‘s future will not come to pass. Hope this all means something. It was Xavier’s dream. It started with him and ends with him: there are no more X-Men.

We see Cable and the baby arrive in the future. “Now comes the hard part.”

Verdict
As I mentioned at the start, this X-story had it all. Intrigue, development, suspense and a true change to the mutant world. It was well-written and well-drawn.

‘General’ Cyclops has proven his vision, leadership and team work. He has stepped out of Xavier’s shadow. He is now the alpha male of the X-Men. I really love this aspect of Cyclops (Whedon already used it at the end of his Astonishing X-Men run).

Rogue is back and she has severed her ties with Mystique. Her relationship with Gambit hangs in the air -- I have hope for them.

10/10. I do not know if the following the stories will be as good as this but, on its own, this story was awesome. It changed everything for the X-Men and mutantkind. Fresh.
« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2009, 2:05pm by TheMidnighter » User IP Logged

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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #35 on: Aug 20th, 2009, 4:27pm »

Divided We Stand
X-Men Legacy 208-214

At the end of Messiah Complex, Bishop shot Xavier through the head. We learn that Exodus and the Acolytes took Xavier (Acolyte Bullet can freeze time). Omega Sentinel, now free of the digital Malice that took over her body, follows to warrant Xavier’s safety. Back at their hideout, Exodus restores most of the tissue damage that was done. Omega Sentinel and Magneto -- who was asked to help by Exodus, even though he has lost his powers -- excite Xavier’s brain. This allows the brain to activate more easily, to grow new connections more easily.

Xavier wakes up. However, his memories are patched together, while some are lost. In-between we get glimpses of his memories, the rights he did, the wrongs, his conviction of his ‘good deeds’ that are ambiguous when viewed in present light. Exodus salvaged some, which he returns to Xavier.

Magneto asks Xavier which one of them was right: the forceful Magneto or the peaceful Xavier. Xavier thinks they cancelled each other out until the future surpassed them. They have become irrelevant.

Exodus asks Xavier to lead the Acolytes. Under his leadership, they can teach the mutant messiah (born during Messiah Complex) her future duties, as Exodus puts it. Xavier declines: no more. He decides to search for the people who knew him - friends and enemies - to use their memories of him to patch up his own inconsistent memory.

The next arc deals with Project Black Womb, where Xavier’s father (Brian Xavier), Juggernaut’s father (Kurt Marko), the late Destiny (Irene Adler) and Mr Sinister (under the name of Dr Milbury) took part in. These four were the scientists whilst Sebastian Shaw’s father (Jacob Shaw) funded it.

During those days, Mr Sinister created is Chronus Project. Named after the Titan from Greek mythology who ate his own children. Project Black Womb was Mr Sinister’s attempt to create mortality. His own, of course. He wrote his own DNA onto the children left in his care by the other scientists. Upon his death, his Chronus device would send out trigger pulses, alternating every night between the children, to activate that dormant piece of Mr Sinister.

With Mr Sinister’s recent death, the Chronus device activated. It tried to take over Cain Marko but the Gem of Cyttorak protects him. When the trigger pulses reach Xavier, he resists. In the end, though, he falters. Mr Sinister can take over. Briefly.

In the end, Gambit and Shaw destroy the Chronus device whilst Xavier expells Mr Sinister from his mind. Free now of Mr Sinister, Xavier needs to see Cyclops right away -- Cyclops might have received the same treatment. The epilogue reveals Mr Sinister had another fail-safe device besides his Black Womb Project: there is now a clone of him. Miss Sinister.

8/10. Both stories were solid but slightly too long..
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #36 on: Aug 21st, 2009, 08:16am »

Uncanny X-Men 495-499

With the team disbanded, the time is right to do stuff the X-Men did not have time for. Emma and Cyclops are on holiday in the Savage Land after informing Iron Man (director of SHIELD) the X-Men do not exist anymore. Therefore they will not join his Initiative of superhero registration. During their stay in the Savage Land, Cyclops decides to change what the X-Men were.

A distress call from Warren Worthington III, aka Angel, cuts the holiday short. He arrived in San Francisco to meet with others (Hepzibah, Warpath, Iceman) but succumbed to a mental illusion. The mental illusion was of a hippie paradise in SF, created by Martinique Wyngarde, aka Mastermind II (yeah, midL, Roman numerals), daughter of the original Mastermind. After M-Day, she was confused. She ran into a couple of has-been hippies and, without truly realising it, she fulfilled their desire of the old days. In the end, Emma Frost destroys the illusion, Angel saves a disillusioned mayor from getting hit by a bus and Martinique is drafted for the Sisterhood of Evil Mutants by a shadowy figure.

Meanwhile, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus visit Europe and Russia. Whilst in Russia they, of course, get into a bar fight. These thugs are no match for three former X-Men but it is great to see this fight, great to see the trio enjoy it. Through this fight, the governmental Red Room cell notices new mutants. They were a military cell that employed mutants. After M-Day, they lost many soldiers. They capture the trio to find out how they did not lose their powers.

Wolverine is tortured in front of Colossus. “I will not say anything. He can take it,” Colossus ensures the officer. “Hey man... thass n’t cool...” Wolverine remarks. When they threaten to shoot Nightcrawler -- chained up with restrains that electrify him when he uses his mutant power -- Colossus still does not yield. When the shot is fired, Nightcrawler teleports onto Wolverine, whose bonds overload by the electricity from Nightcrawler’s restrains. Wolverine frees the rest and they make their escape back to San Francisco, the city that rejects the Initiative where the X-Men will be based.

Verdict
Great! Two cool intertwined stories. Nothing of galactic proportions, just normal business. Especially Choi’s art amazed me... wow. 10 out of 10 for the visuals, truly.
9/10.

Divided We Stand 1-2
X-Men Free Comic Book Day


These stand-alone stories tell the tales of several (New) X-Men in-between Messiah Complex and their relocation in San Francisco. They do not offer much content. The interesting bits are: Bishop ambushed Forge and stole a powerful mechanical arm, while Beast destroys all data in the old mansion and leaves with No-Girl. Although most stories I have read somewhere before in one form or another, some writers manage to keep the stories interesting.

7/10 but f I did not have that much disposable income it would rank lower.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #37 on: Aug 21st, 2009, 08:18am »

Manifest Destiny
X-Men Legacy 215-216

As Xavier previously found out, Cyclops might have been experimented on by Mr Sinister years ago. Xavier lures Cyclops to the woods outside of their new San Francisco headquarters by placing a weak mental hint inside Cyke’s mind. When the former teacher and student reunite, it does not take long for their recent friction to come up. Xavier has really fallen from grace in the last months. Cyclops resents Xavier for the way he has used his mental powers in the past (which resulted in the demise of several students, as seen in Deadly Genesis) and now.

It is difficult to say who has the stronger arguments. Cyclops judges Xavier on his past mistakes but Xavier’s memory is incomplete due to Bishop’s bullet-wound. Is he the same man? On the other hand, he did bring Cyclops here and held him against his will. Xavier asks to scan his mind for his own sake but Cyclops wonders why Xavier holds Mr Sinister against other ethical values -- why allow Xavier in his mind but not Mr Sinister? What’s the difference?

“I suppose in a sense, Scott -- that’s what I’m here to find out.”

And that signifies Xavier’s quest. Xavier leaves but is stopped by Emma Frost. She recognised the mental suggestion Xavier placed in Cyclops’ mind. Now the tables have turned: Emma Frost will examine Xavier for traces of Mr Sinister’s mind.

During her scan, Emma teaches Xavier a lesson. They go through several memories Xavier has retained. Xavier is confronted with the misuse of his power, with being young and, perhaps, wanting to test what he could do. He asks if he did right. Emma says it does not matter: you choose what path you take and then live with the consequences. Xavier should not try to justify his behaviour, he should accept what happened next.

In the end, they visit his memory of when Moira MacTaggert died. She told him he made her life better. Despite the mistakes, she does not regret. In a way, this is what Xavier needed to hear: the consequences of actions, even of mistakes, can still lead to a life lived well.

Xavier concludes that, as Jean Grey once said, that death and birth can be the same. He leaves the X-Men in search of his self and to make amends, whilst Cyclops is now in charge. Xavier feels the X-Men are in good hands and he is glad he got to see Cyclops before leaving. With that, the former teacher and pupil shake hands.

8.5/10. Solid character pieces. Great stuff. It almost feels like the redemption of Xavier.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #38 on: Aug 21st, 2009, 09:30am »

Original Sin
Original Sin one-shot
X-Men Legacy 217-218
Wolverine Origins 29-30


Apparently, Wolverine has a son from his previous marriage to Itsu (introduced recently). Itsu was murdered and the boy was taken from the womb. Wolverine thought his son was dead while the boy grew up believing Wolverine killed his mother. The boy is called Daken and has his father’s attributes. He is brought up under Romulus’ control. Romulus is a villainous person we know little about.

Daken suffers from temporal amnesia. Wolverine thinks this is the perfect time for him and Xavier to help Daken escape from under Romulus power. However, Sebastian Shaw and Miss Sinister have seduced Daken -- they want to use him to take over the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club.

In the final showdown, Xavier shows Daken that it was not Wolverine who murdered his mother but that it was Romulus. Daken who now, like Wolverine, turns his vengeance towards Romulus, knows the truth. It seems the animosity between the two s over.

7/10. Normal. It was well-written and well-drawn, but I do not care for the character Daken.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #39 on: Aug 21st, 2009, 12:47pm »

Xavier’s Journey
X-Men Legacy 219-225

We continue the story of Professor Charles Xavier. He built the dream of human and mutant co-existance, recently fell from grace, lost his memories and is now trying to redeem and discover himself.

Xavier visits his stepbrother, Cain Marko aka Juggernaut. After a brief stint of heroics, Juggernaut now lives again as a villain. He mentions that this is where he shines, when he feels his life is moving and nothing holds him back. When he truly feels like a Juggernaut.

After Juggernaut proves his point by crushing Xavier’s skull, he finds out the encounter was only in his mind, where Xavier entered while Juggernaut slept. Xavier speaks to him, saying he understands his stepbrother better now. Xavier warns Juggernaut to stay on his own path and not cross onto Xavier’s.

The next couple of issues focus on Xavier’s quest to help Rogue. He feels he has been least successful in helping her control her mutant powers. Rogue, however, left after Messiah Complex. She was cured from Strain 88 and the eight billion souls inside her mind by touching the messiah baby. Since then, she only touched Mystique, who now shares a place in Rogue’s mind. Rogue arrived in Australia.

Xavier recruits Gambit for the journey. Upon arrival in Australia, they find that the landscape has changed -- it has become a potpourri of past experiences. None of it is real. In the meantime, Rogue has encountered Danger, the embodiment of the sentient Danger Room. Danger is suddenly attacked by Shi’ar bounty hunters, hoping to collect her Shi’ar technology. The bounty hunters shut down some of Danger’s higher executive functions. Due to this, she closes herself of and creates, due to her proximity to Rogue when attacked, a program for Rogue. This is what caused all the holograms Xavier and Gambit encountered.

The program that Danger initiated, is one specifically designed for Rogue -- it helps Rogue come to a personal resolution. Throughout the scenarios, throughout the holograms of Rogue’s past, we see the same young boy. It turns out to be Cody, the boy she kissed when her powers first manifested, the first person whose mind and strength she absorbed.

The message is clear: Rogue’s powers have not been under her control because Rogue was never fully herself -- she always shared her mind with others or their residuals. It partitioned her mind. In essence, her powers have never developed since her kiss with Cody. In the simulation, it was explained cryptically: “to share yourself is to divide yourself; to divide yourself is to lose yourself.” It is this point - that her mind has never been completely hers since her powers manifested - that Danger’s program makes.

After defeating the Shi’ar bounty hunters, Rogue, Xavier and Danger discuss Rogue’s problem of control over her powers. They think they can fix it since they know what they are looking for. In the end, Xavier expels Mystique from Rogue’s mind, destroys the walls in her psyche and mends the separated parts. So now Rogue has the ability to control her power but she still needs to learn how to do it. After some while, she tries it with Gambit and the two share a kiss. A tear leaves her eye as she mentions she still needs to come to grip with herself but Gambit says he will be waiting for her.

Finally, Xavier visits the Acolytes. They restored his brain, now he will go back to destroy them. It sounds dramatic but he does mean it, in a fashion. He goes to the Acolytes, walks right in there -- it is great how he manages to literally walk right in there using only his mind -- and then talks with Exodus, leader of the Acolytes.

Charles argues that, in the wake of M-Day, with so little mutants left, the different mutant factions should not be at war with each other. The mutant messiah nearly got killed when she was born during the struggle between different mutant (and human) factions -- this cannot be allowed to occur ever again, not with the future of mutantkind to lose. So, if the humans come matching, how do they Acolytes expect to form bonds with former enemies? That is Xavier’s point and Exodus agrees.

Verdict
This is really strong stuff. Carey has really explored Xavier in the issues after Messiah Complex, and now Rogue as well. It is good to see Rogue finally in control -- in fact, it has taken too long. I have read the focus of this title will shift from Xavier to Rogue and Gambit. I hope so because in Carey’s hands, interesting stuff happens.

8.5/10. Especially for resolving Rogue’s control issues in a plausible way.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #40 on: Aug 25th, 2009, 7:27pm »

Manifest Destiny
Uncanny X-Men 500-512

The X-Men, now under the lead of Cyclops and dedicated to mutant survival, have relocated to San Francisco. The mayor welcomes them with open arms and assures the X-Men that they, as well as any other mutants, are welcome in the city. This open-mindedness also clashes with the X-Men as one artist uses San Francisco to display his new piece: three Sentinels on display as a celebration to ‘mutant kitsch.’ Of course, the X-Men do not see these death-machines as art.

During the display, Magneto attacks, which is crazy because he was depowered after M-Day. He activates the Sentinels and they attack the X-Men but not him. With the Sentinels defeated, the team discovers Magneto’s powers were artificially restored by a suit. This is why the Sentinels did not attack him: he never was a mutant again. Magneto, before disappearing, tells the X-Men that he is appalled the X-Men, with mutantkind almost extinct, snuggle up with humans.

Meanwhile, the High Evolutionary - seemingly teaming with Magneto - steals something from the Sleeping Celestial of San Francisco. Before Storm can get to the High Evolutionary, he vanishes.

Cyclops, with the help of Emma, sends out a telepathic message to all mutants left on the world: friends or foe, they will find a safe haven in San Francisco. The X-Men are very much active. Wolverine finds the mutant kitsch artist dead.

The young X-Men Pixie gets attacked by a gang of mutant-haters: the Hellfire Cult. Empath, from the original Hellions, drives the Hellfire Cult members but he himself is under the control of the Red Queen, apparently a mutant as well. Why do mutants stir up hate-crimes against their own kind? [And why does the Red Queen need to have an S&M outfit? Greg Land’s work bores me more and more. Did Brubaker and Fraction play to the artist’s strengths?]

After interrogating a captured cult member, the X-Men launch an attack on the Hellfire Cult. Empath, with enhanced powers, escapes but is finally stopped by Pixie and her soulknife. The Red Queen -- although it is left ambiguous in the comic, the eyes give it away -- seems to mentally seduce Cyclops, posing as the psyche of Emma. The Red Queen reveals herself as Madelyne Pryor, Cyclops’ dead ex-wife and clone of Jean Grey.

Pryor assembles her Sisterhood: Spiral and Lady Deathstrike, Lady Mastermind and her half-sister Mastermind II (Pryor recruited Martinique Wyngarde) and Chimera. They rob the grave of Kwannon, the body that X-Man Psylocke once inhabited. What Pryor’s plan is, remains unsure.

In the meantime -- as seen in the Manifest Destiny mini-series -- Colossus has a hard time dealing with Kitty Pryde’s disappearance in space. Cyclops places him off the team -- Colossus needs to get himself together anyway he can. As he wanders around town, he comes across a malign mutant that extorted Colossus’ father years ago. Infiltrating the mutant’s crew, Colossus rescues girls they have shipped in from Russia. Colossus and Emma return to take the man down. In the confrontation, Colossus also confronts his own pain. In the aftermath, Nightcrawler advices him never to turn away from pain but to accept it.

A story about Emma, at present and during her time with the Hellfire Club, tells about her and Namor the Submariner. Years ago, when Emma was still with the Hellfire Club, she met Namor. Shaw, who took control of the club as the Black King, needed a White King. He thought Namor fit the job -- being the first mutant [although I thought Apocalypse was that: En Sabah Nur meaning ‘the first one’] -- but Namor had no interest. Shaw sent out Emma to try and persuade him.

Emma intentionally jumps in the ocean with a rock tied to her so that Namor rescues her. Whilst in his kingdom, they are attacked by Sentinels. She tells Namor that the Sentinels will keep coming -- they hunt mutants like him. Shaw ordered the Sentinel attack, which appalled Emma and Namor. Emma returns to the Hellfire Club - after her memories of this are taken - and Namor leaves, holding a grudge against Shaw.

In the present, Emma proposes a companionship with Namor to protect each other during Norman Osborn’s ‘Dark Reign.’ She protects Namor psychically and hands him Shaw’s head on a platter. They will keep each other safer.

Namor sees Emma cut off Shaw’s head and she, literally, presents it o him on a platter. However, she made Namor see that -- in reality, Shaw is alive and now captive of Emma. It feels as if Emma is pulling strings that will get her (and hopefully the X-Men with her) safely out of Dark Reign.

Meanwhile, Beast has rounded up several scientists to form the X-Club. This team will try to reverse the spell that extinguished almost all X genes. During one of their trips, Beast discovers Angel has the ability to transform into his Archangel form -- he doesn’t like Angel can do it and that he kept it a secret. [I do not know what the precise explanation is but the transformation looks too weird for me.] Beast informs Cyclops he dislikes these secrets -- they will destroy the mutant race whilst Beast must try and save them.

Back to the Red Queen, in short, she appears to be a psychic ‘after image’ of some kind. She is a twisted version of the already twisted original and she needs a body. A a test run for the procedure, the Red Queen and her Sisterhood capture Psylocke and acquire the body Psylocke once inhabited: the body of the now deceased Kwannon.

The switch works -- because Kwannon’s and Psylocke’s bodies had been altered years ago to resemble each other -- so now the Red Queen can find her own body to inhabit. What other body would suit the clone of Jean Grey other than Jean Grey’s decaying body?

During one of their struggles with the X-Men, Lady Mastermind mentally incapacitates Emma Frost. She is freed by what appears to be Jean Grey’s spirit (she should still be in the order of the White Phoenix). Whilst the Red Queen claims her price during a battle with the X-Men, she finds out the body cannot contain her: they switched it with another skeleton.

Finally, Psylocke fights off the hold the Red Queen had over her. Her own psyche returns to her own original body (so not Kwannon’s) and the X-Men grew by one member.

Simon Trask creates the Humanity Now! Coalition, a political group. They put forward Proposition X that mandates controlled breeding of mutants.

Beast and the other scientists of the X-Club visit the past to acquire blood samples from the two people that bore the first mutant child: Dr Nemesis, one of the X-Club’s own members. [He predates Namor a few years. Apparently, Apocalypse still does not ring any bells with the editorial staff of the X-Men...]

In the past, they find Dr Nemesis’ parents and acquire blood samples. However, the samples cannot travel back to the present so the mother needs to find a place to hide it. Back in the present, the team discovers the samples are buried directly beneath the Sleeping Eternal. Coincidence?

Verdict
I felt a bit let down with this set of issues. Fraction has not convinced me of the quality of his stories. Furthermore, Greg Land can draw pretty women but that is where it stops. It does not interest me. The Dodsons on art was great as always.

After Messiah Complex, the X-Universe felt completely fresh: a true new status quo. It disappoints me to see how quickly things derailed and old plots were used. The resurrection of the Red Queen was horrible: too cliché and it took too long. Pixie coming to terms with her fears felt too forced. Colossus’ tattoo seems out of character.

I do hope I miss the genius and all plotlines come together magnificently but for now it felt too random and too cliché.
7/10 for these 13 issues.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #41 on: Aug 26th, 2009, 12:27pm »

Ghost Boxes
Astonishing X-Men 25-30
Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes 1-2


After Whedon and Cassaday left this series, they left a big vacuum. Warren Ellis, a popular writer who has proven himself time and time again, and Simone Bianchi, an artist whose star has quickly risen, followed their tough act. I had great hopes for their first arc but I have to say I disliked it with a passion -- it even destroyed a character unnecessarily. Just as I did with Whedon and Cassaday’s first arc which I came to like. I doubt that will happen with this one, though.

Summary
The X-Men get called onto a crime scene by the SFPD. Someone is set on fire, has died but the flames will not douse. Beast, after running some test on the victim’s biological make-up, finds out the victim was an artificial mutant. The perpetrator -- Suspect X -- is another mutant. When the X-Men -- Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, Storm, Armor -- find him, he attempts to start up a ‘ghost box.’ The X-Men defeat him, with difficulty. He commits suicide. Beast finds that this mutant is different from Earth’s mutants as well: this guy’s X-gene resides on chromosome 13, where the Earth’s mutants have it on chromosome 23. This guy is from a parallel universe.

A ghost box is a device that opens up pathways between parallel dimensions. The use of one slowly destroys the fabric of time. The mutants from a different dimension are looking for another place to live. The artificial mutants were created by another mutant to defend against these ‘alien’ mutants. Their creator is Forge, former X-Man.

Apparently, Forge has gone paranoid of these guys and wants to take them down. He tries to start a ghost box to take the fight to the other dimension. The X-Men thwart him. The day is saved.

The Ghost Boxes mini-series tells several stories from different dimensions. All in all not even entertaining: per issue two stories of eight pages, the rest is filled up with ‘bonus material’ in the form of script. That’s what you spend $3.99 per issue on? Rip-off.

Verdict
I was really, really disappointed with this arc. The story is instantly forgettable, the layouts were interesting but the art felt meagre. The mini-series was a complete waste of money.
3/10.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #42 on: Sep 1st, 2009, 06:42am »

X-Men: Magneto Testament 1-5
Marvel Knights


This story details Magneto’s childhood years. This only serves as a coat hanger for a truly marvellous story about the Holocaust though. Claremont wrote Magneto to be a Holocaust survivor -- Magneto had been in the Sonderkommando during his time in Auschwitz. Writer Greg Pak and his editor Warren Simons worked three years on this story to combine everything ever written about Magneto - the contradicting bits as well - and tell a definitive origin story with historical accuracy. Dedicated people worked on this and it shows.

Summary
We start our story in 1935, a time with Nazi power on the rise in Germany. The Jewish Magneto, still called Max Eisenhardt, is judged inferior during school gymnastics by his fellow students. His courting of Gypsy girl Magda is responded to by his ‘full’ German classmates with “trash loves trash.” Even the headmaster deems him inferior.

Max only wins the javelin throw. A steel javelin. Happy as can be, he leaves school, races after Magda and, amidst crowded streets, hands her a package containing the necklace he made for her. Then, we see where Max is and why so many people are in the street: he is amidst a parade praising Nazi heroes. Max sees his uncle receive a public beating for shaming a German woman (he wears the message “Ich habe deutßcher Mädchen geßchändet!”).

Back at school, Max needs to throw the javelin again. Max, of course, cheated and should return the medal to its rightful owner: a full German boy. He receives a javelin. It’s heavier. His compassionate teacher says to throw it anyway. Do not stand up. But Max wants to impress Magda. He wins again. And is expelled for cheating. Outside, his teacher and himself are beaten.

1938. Magda and her mother have been moved to Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp of World War II where between one and three million people have been murdered. Meanwhile, the Eisenhardt family has to deal with oppression. Max’s father does not want Max to fight back as it gets you stomped into the ground. Max’s uncle asks if that is what he wishes to teach his son. His father just wants his son to live.

November 9, night. Kristallnacht (Crystal night). Nazis tear down houses and shops belonging to Jews. The smashed windows name the night. Max notices the beginnings from his window. The family flees from their home to Poland. But Poland stands on the brink of being invaded itself.

It is 1939 and the Eisenhardt’s flee Poland. They see others get shot but avoid danger and reach Warsaw. Warsaw’s Jewish inhabitants rise with 150,000 and within a year, the Nazi’s wall-off their ghetto and serve 699 calories a day. Max’ sharp eyes serve him in finding precious objects to buy additional food items with, which he smuggles to his family. They survive but trains are departing from Warsaw carrying Jews. The trains are said to go to work camps: hard work but they offer food and shelter. The Eisenhardt family do not believe the destination to be good -- they run.

Max’ uncle stays behind to fight and is never seen again. During their fight, their guide has betrayed them (“they had my mother”). The Eisenhardt family, together with other captives, the guide and her mother, are positioned in front of a large pit. The Nazi’s aim their guns and shoot at the defenceless people. Max’ father pushes Max slightly out of the way. Max is not killed but drops down in the pit, together with his murdered relatives. After regaining consciousness, he gets back on his feet, travels to a city. The bleeding boy is spotted and put on a train. 1942 and Max arrives in Auschwitz.

In line, Max’ former schoolteacher Fritz Kalb spots him. Kalb holds onto Max’ photo of Magda and tells him to say he’s eighteen and fit to work. Max passes the tip on to others in line. The Nazi’s process Max, and loads of other newcomers. They are shaven, showered, given a number and put in their barracks.

Life is horrible. Kalb arranges for Max to join him in his work of sorting belongs from prisoners. Unfortunately, Max gets nabbed to join the Sonderkommando. They do the dirty work, such as burning the corpses of fellow Jews, digging out gold teeth to bribe Nazi soldiers with. Kalb, whilst sorting out belongings from killed captives, promises Max to get him out of there. Two years later, Max burns Kalb’s body. Max has given up hope until he sees Magda through the fence in the women’s camp. He resolves to rescue her.

1944 and the Allied Forces are flying overhead. Max hears the gypsy camp will be exterminated. He arranges for Magda to be transported to another camp. After she has left, a Nazi soldier informs him that she’s doomed: they do all kinds of disturbing experiments there. She will hate him for bringing her there.

Things turn out differently: her train is sent back. Half of its passengers were killed but the rest will return to Auschwitz. She will be killed, anyway. Magda manages to survive by hiding in a pile of corpses already outside. Max spots her, as the cart with corpses reaches him, and he takes her into his barracks. Of course, the women and men are separated so if the Nazi’s spot her during their inspection, the entire barrack will be shot for harbouring someone. The Sonderkommando start their revolt -- they had been planning one -- by blowing up Crematorium IV on October 7, 1944. Retaliations are harsh and the killings continue nonetheless but Max and Magda escape.

Verdict
This book was beautiful. Truly well-crafted. There are no mutant powers anywhere. Pak and Simons deserve credit for this story. The characters have character -- the just wants his son to love, the uncle is a fighter -- and the story packs such a punch because it is so historically accurate.

And the art is amazing. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s style reminds me of European comics. He pencils different faces, expressions, people and draws them and environments realistically. The book utilises splash pages: a two page spread of glasses never impressed this much.

10/10. I cannot give this book any less credit.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #43 on: Sep 1st, 2009, 08:16am »

A couple of recent one shots
X-Men Origins: Beast
X-Men: Odd Men Out
Return of Magik


X-Men Origins: Beast
It details Henry ‘Hank’ McCoy’s days before Xavier enrolled him in his School for Gifted Youngster, many years ago. Hank still had his human, although pretty bulky, appearance. His genius shows during his science classes but Hank just wants to be normal and not stand out.

Until he gets drafted for the American Football team. They win State with him as quarterback (yell: “Oy! Oy! McCoy!”). The television broadcast puts Hank in the sights of some guy who wants to steal something from a nuclear plant. The guy gets Hank to do it by kidnapping his parents. In the end, Hank defeats the guy and saves his parents. Just before he tells them he thinks he is a mutant, his parent do not recognise him anymore. Xavier arrived on the scene and erased their knowledge of Hank so that they do not have to resent their own son.

4/10. Lame villain, weak story, actually.

X-Men: Odd Men Out

This one-shot contains two stories by Cockrum, the artist who, together with Len Wein, created the all-new all-different X-Men in 1973. One tail recounts the history of the X-Men, pretty extensively. The other tail is from the New Mutants

7/10. Good book but nothing spectacular.

Return of Magik

One-shot about Magik, otherwise as Colossus’ little sister Illyana Rasputin. This collection of stories offer by no means a detailed account of who Illyana has become, how the ‘little snowflake’ turned into a demon in the realm of Limbo, but it does offer an acceptable overview. The title is misleading, though, since she does not even return -- the first story actually has nothing to do with her return and only recounts a mourning Colossus. The story from New X-Men 37 is the strongest.

6/10. Nothing of added value but a nice read about Magik.
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xx Re: X-Men (monthly/TPB's/everything else)
« Reply #44 on: Sep 2nd, 2009, 09:38am »

This is the last batch. I have completed reading all X-titles that have a finished story line.
Next time, I will tackle Spider-Man or Batman.

X-Men and Spider-Man 1-4

This mini-series has four issues. Each issue displays a different era in the X-Men’s history. The story, spanning from the earliest days to recent times, unfolds over many years, with one villain as its mastermind.

Summary
It is the early days of the Marvel Universe. On a television broadcast, Kraven the Hunter calls Spider-Man a mutant and announces he will hunt Spidey down. Both the X-Men and Spider-Man himself are astonished by this news. The X-Men decide to pay Spidey a visit -- although they know he is no mutant, mutant haters might not care that much. They want to offer him a place to be amongst other super-powered youngsters.

When the X-Men arrive in New York, Jean mentally searches for Spider-Man. However, Peter Parker is not wearing his Spider-Man costume because he’s on a date with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Mary-Jane, Harry Osborn and Flash Thompson. The X-Men enter the bar (in their civilian clothes) and start their search.

Kraven bursts in together with The Blob. Both the X-Men and Spider-Man change into their outfits and defend the bystanders. The battle goes pretty well. After The Blob is immobilised by Iceman and Spidey, Kraven makes his escape. Spidey passes up on the offer to join the X-Men in their mansion and the heroes part ways.

Little do they know, everything was set-up. Kraven only called Spider-Man a mutant because he knew the X-Men would come running to New York. They were his real target. During the battle, he acquired DNA samples from all five X-Men and hands them over to Mr Sinister, whom the X-Men will meet years later. Thus, Mr Sinister had plans with them/their DNA long before he revealed himself. Furthermore, Mr Sinister offers Kraven a larger sum of money if he is willing to give some of his own DNA to Mr Sinister.

Cut to some years in the future. Spider-Man has just been buried alive by Kraven, who shot himself in the end. The X-Men have just faced the massacre of the Morlocks. Spider-Man, when going through Kraven’s files, finds the records from Kraven’s encounter with Mr Sinister all those years ago. When he confronts the X-Men -- Wolverine, Storm (depowered), Rogue and Dazzler -- with this information, they team-up.

The five of them investigate the Morlock tunnels. Wolverine smells their enemies but something else as well. The Marauders, Mr Sinister’s mutant kill squad, ambush them and a fight ensues. During the fight, the floor caves in and we find out what Wolverine smelled: dead, twisted clones of the original five X-Men. This was where Mr Sinister experimented with his cloning techniques.

A couple years later again. The X-Men now consist of Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Archangel and Iceman. Ben Reilly has taken over the role of Spider-Man after Peter Parker lost his powers. The X-Men fight Mr Sinister somewhere beneath New Jersey. After he flees, the X-Men find some documents involving Spider-Man. They visit him in New York and tell him that Mr Sinister has had some data exchange with Professor Miles Warren [who started the whole cloning mess with Peter Parker and Ben Reilly]. The document also says Mr Sinister wants some tissue from Cletus Kasaday/Carnage, the alien symbiote.

At the Ravencroft Institute, where Carnage is held, the X-Men and Spider-Man find Mr Sinister and Carnage. Unfortunately, they do so just after Mr Sinister has acquired some of the alien tissue. They battle, of course, and during the battle, Mr Sinister escapes with the tissue. At least Carnage is locked away safely. Back at his lab, Mr Sinister finally distils the tissue to the point where it retains its properties but it is no longer sentient. With this, the clone he is working on can surpass its original.

With the final issue, we arrive in the present time. Mr Sinister has unleashed his latest clone: Xraven, clone of Kraven the Hunter from the DNA Mr Sinister acquired in the first issue. This ‘mutant hunter’ is out there, getting mutant DNA back to Mr Sinister. Since M-Day, mutant DNA is scarce. Mr Sinister feels it best to replace all mutants with clones that he controls, in order for mutantkind to move according to his plans.

When one of the remaining Morlocks is killed, his now-depowered buddy informs the X-Men. He recognises the killer as Kraven the Hunter. The X-Men call in Spider-Man. While at the mansion, Xraven infiltrates and starts attacking the X-Men and Spider-Man, gathering the X-Men’s DNA once again. During the battle, Xraven surprises them with his powers: Mr Sinster has built the powers of the original five X-Men in him. They defeat Xraven by making him doubt Mr Sinister’s plans with him. After all, he is just a puppet to Mr Sinister. Xraven flees.

At Mr Sinister’s hideout, Xraven starts a fight with Mr Sinister, claiming he does not want to create warriors but slaves. In the mansion, the X-Men and Spider-Man reminisce about their previous encounters, recounting both the good and the bad ones.

Verdict
I really enjoyed this mini-series. Writer Christos Gage crafted a nice tale that evolved from the early days until the present time. It seems as if he really paid attention to continuity of both the X-Men and Spider-Man and made his story fit into the already established stories involving all characters.

I am most enthusiastic about artist Mario Alberti, though. Can this guy draw. At times he reminds me of Tim Sale, other instances Art Adams comes to mind, but all the while he does not look like a mere copy. His splash pages look incredible and his art never seems rushed as they always have gorgeous detail. And his inking and colour work -- it seems he did all of it by himself -- is great too. I really like the colours he uses -- they are not so flashy but pretty realistic, as if he mixed a hint of grey with everything.

8.5/10. Cool story, gorgeous art. It is what every comic should be.
« Last Edit: Sep 2nd, 2009, 09:38am by TheMidnighter » User IP Logged

"One among you will shortly perish."

My free music
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