Oh how they’ve changed…

An epic post from Comic Book Resources, outlining all the various teams the X-Men (and spin-offs) have constituted since the 60s.

I’m not that old, but I remember from number 3 onwards. Such happy memories of hours spent reading x-books (even when they were so god-awful back in the 90s) and trying to figure out the horribly complex back-stories of all the characters.

I must have read Jim Lee’s issue 275 a hundred times. That and his X-Men #1 were truly things of beauty.

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Though I have to admit I’m enjoying Avengers and Star Wars far more these days…

A new “killable” Logan?

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Marvel’s new Wolverine series launches shortly and features a Logan who’s been stripped of his mutant healing factor. Despite what a lot of Wolvie fanboys are screaming, I think this is an excellent plot development and one that gives writers a chance to move the character in new and interesting directions.

Over the last few years, Wolverine has become both one of the most over-used and badly-used of Marvel’s many characters. Even writers have started to reference the fact he seems to be on almost every team in the Marvel Universe. And not always subtly.

Alongside this overexposure, his healing powers have seen him recover from every single assault, explosion, poison, stabbing, gunshot and descent into lethal fire-pits that anyone could dream up. Yes, I’m fully aware that the entire Marvel Universe is fictional, but consistency and a level of real-world physics can go a long way to ensuring stories are somewhat believable.

They’ve done everything except drop a nuclear bomb on Logan (and I may have missed this!), only for him to recover almost immediately and jump back into action.

Now, while he still has his claws and accentuated strength (and senses), he’s no longer basically immortal and can be killed as easily as any other X-Man. Who don’t, it’s fair to say, stay dead for long in any case.

Why is this interesting?

Aside from the fact he can’t jump into every melee with wild abandon anymore, Wolverine has probably one of the longest list of seriously dangerous enemies of any of his contemporaries. Once word is out on the street that it’s actually possible to remove him from this mortal plain, the baddies will come looking for him.

Cue a trip down memory lane, accompanied by every villain Wolverine has taken down. As long this doesn’t all focus on Sabretooth (boring!)

This development also means he has to think long and hard about his future. He’s been around since (at least) the late 1800’s and has seen a lot. Most of his life has been spent fighting – either in wards or as some form of killer/hero – and now it might be ending any day. What has he done? What will he leave behind?

Aside from a string of dead girlfriends…?

Analogous to someone receiving a terminal health prognosis, it’s time for Wolverine to reflect and maybe even have a bit of an existential crisis. I’d like to see him withdraw from some of the many teams who count him among their members and just focus on being one of the X-Men.

I’m hoping for a more contemplative Logan, slower to rush into battle and more serious about the time he las left. Until of course the inevitable re-boot and the return of his healing factor.

But for the next, say, six months? It will make for an interesting journey.

Heroic Japanese drinks?

10629904065_0b5869a3a9_bI passed by this drinks machine near Ueno Park in Tokyo and couldn’t resist taking a photo. I was secretly hoping it would be stocked with some form of Marvel Comics-related drinks… X-Men Cola? Mutant Juice?

Sadly, it was full of the same drinks all other machines seem to have in Tokyo – coffee, green tea and energy drinks. Still, a fun find all the same.

Not sure Marvel are fully aware of this use of their intellectual property…

I was just pleased to see it included a picture of Banshee 🙂

More X-Men excitement

This was not the trailer I was expecting, but I like it. I like it a lot. Much better than an unending series of Michael-Bay-esque explosions and giant robots (which we all know are going to feature at some point. Sentinels, duh!).

Interesting cameos from various characters…I spotted Bishop and Blink, while the Guardian reports the film will also feature Quicksilver and Sunspot. Too may mutants?

Overloading the movie with superheroes might please fans of the comic books, but the rest of us will be chewing on our own spleens when the umpteenth brightly-coloured dude turns up to spout one line of dialogue, then drop off the map.

Cameos will definitely please this comics fan, but I see where he’s coming from. Anyone appearing in this film really should have a purpose and not be part of a character check-list. That said, where’s Banshee?

God I’m looking forward to this.

The return of X-Factor!!

All-New-X-Factor-001-Jared-Fletcher-Kris-Anka-Cover-1Despite news of X-Factor’s cancellation a while back, I knew that it would have to make a return some day. I just didn’t think it would be so soon!

According to Newsarama, X-Factor – albeit in a very different form – will return as a corporately-sponsored team.

The book will still be written by the most excellent Peter David and, so far, all we know is the roster will include Polaris, Quicksilver and Gambit.

An interesting mix.

Polaris and Quicksilver featured in his original 90’s run on X-Factor, so I have to wonder if any of the others will show up too?

This picture (snagged from Newsarama) features the three characters named above, in addition to two others who remain nameless as yet. And a sixth secret member not even drawn on the cover.

The one in the red hood could be anyone, really. The blonde guy with the red shades…echoes of Cyclops? Could it be? After all, he made up one of the original X-Factor team when it initially launched.

If not Cyke, who could it be?

Actually, a blonde mutant with a history of X-Factor membership? How about Scott Summers’ brother, Alex? AKA Havok, he was team leader during Peter David’s first X-Factor run.

If it is Havok, then he would definitely be playing the “straight guy” up against the ever-so-slightly unhinged Polaris (extreme father issues and a tendency towards megalomania), the egotistical and narcissistic Quicksilver and the thieving, rule-breaking Gambit.

He’d definitely have his hands full. But he’s also squad leader over on Uncanny Avengers. Or is that tenure about to end…?

There’s a whole pile of exciting x-related comics news, fresh from New York ComiCon, including new artists, writers and titles. Some very exciting news there, including:

  • An upcoming Trial of Jean Grey (the young, time-travelling one, who has yet to go Phoenix-crazy and destroy entire planets) featuring these young X-Men and my latest fave title, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • An Amazing X-Men title, featuring the (inevitable) return of Nightcrawler. launching next month.
  • A focus on the Inhumans in Uncanny X-men, where it will be interesting to see how the Marvel Universe makes a distinction between its existing mutant population and all these Johnny-come-lately Inhumans.

These developments look very, very exciting.

But yet again, I’m left wondering: where’s Banshee? He’s been “dead” for a really long time…

Dazzler’s back!

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Yes!
And she kicked ass.We saw this coming in issue 8, but in Uncanny X-Men 9, the one…the only…Alison Blaire (AKA Dazzler) made a triumphant return to Uncanny X-Men.

After hopping across Dimensions in the excellent, but short-lived, “X-Treme X-Men“, she’s back on Earth and working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Uniform and big gun aside, she’s liaising on all thing mutant for our favourite spy agency.

Her first mission?

Finding out where the hell Scott Summers and his band of misfits are hiding.

Dazzler gets some cracking one-liners in this issue and demonstrates why she’s been frequently under-rated. She’s not just a cat-suit and some flashing lights.

“So did you all go nuts together or did you all go nuts one by one?”

And it looks like her time spent with the Xavier-head-in-a-jar has given her an edge.

 

Unfortunately (spoilers ahoy!) she’s taken down by the x-books’ villain of the month, Mystique, who quickly assumes her identity.

Aargh!

I was hoping for more kick-ass Dazzler S.H.I.E.L.D.  action, but it looks like we’re up for something even better: several issues of Dazzler on the rampage as she works to reclaims her good name.

(I’m just assuming Mystique will be causing mayhem in Dazzler’s body….and I’m just basing that on every single story featuring Mystique. Ever.)

And hopefully, kicks seven shades of you-know-what out of Mystique in the process. And even wipe the smirk off Emma Frost’s face while she’s at it.

God, I love a bit of Dazzler.

Probably because of the fabulous costumes, glitter and roller-skates.

(Don’t you just hate stereotypes?)

This new series of Uncanny X-men just got incalculably better. Roll on next month’s issue.

And well done Mr. Bendis and Mr. Bachalo.

Review: The Wolverine

I went to see “The Wolverine” this afternoon, the sequel to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. If you want the really quick review, I’d say it was an improvement over “Origins”, is pretty slick but a little long and over-complicated.

It has several things going for it:

  • We get to see more of Wolverine’s past, this time in Japan during World War Two.
  • The film explores the impact of Wolverine’s (near) invincibility and the fact that he’s left a trail of destruction and death all through his very, very long life. Basically, he’s grown as a character since the X-Men films. He still gets plenty of cracking one-liners though, don’t worry.
  • Wolverine fights ninjas… lots of them. This is something we’re accustomed to seeing in the comics, but on the big screen, it’s extra special.
  • The action scenes are really quite impressive, especially the fight scene in and on top of the bullet train in Tokyo.
  • There are ninjas. Did I mention that already? Oh, and the Yazuka.
  • On a personal note, the film got me extra excited about my upcoming trip to Tokyo. You may not experience the same levels of excitement. And to be honest, I think I’m over-estimating my own chances of encountering ninjas while I’m there.

On the downside, there are a few niggles. But as they represent potential spoilers, stop reading here unless you want to get more of an insight into the film that you’d like.

  • There are a couple of completely pointless characters featured. it’s almost as if the studio was determined to use some comic characters so they could claim the rights to them? I always thought Viper was more of an Avengers villain (at least, a Captain America villain), not a regular in the X-Men comics. They could have had a quicker and more focused film if she was left out from the get go.
  • I know it’s a complete fantasy, and you have to suspend belief at the door, but I thought the way Logan’s powers are reduced (in essence, he becomes vulnerable to injury) was weak.
  • The leading lady is lacking in the charisma department. And that’s a bit of an understatement. She’s verging on transparent. Beige wallpaper. She gets shot at, kidnapped (at least twice) and sees death all around her throughout the film. But her facial expression remains that of something waiting on a bus.
  • Speaking of which, there are numerous dream sequences featuring Jean Grey – the X-Man who became Dark Phoenix and killed off too many characters for Logan’s liking. So he had to kill her. Anyhoo, I know this as my sad life has been dedicated to reading too many comics. My point is, the average punter may well have been left completely confused by Fake Jansen’s role in the film. There is no real explanation of who she is or why he keeps seeing her in his dreams.

Finally, the film ends of a bit of a weak note. Personally, I’d have loved to have seen a reference to another Wolverine story, but instead it just fades off.

Overall though, it was well made and entertaining. Hugh Jackman was, as ever, excellent as Canada’s favourite claw-wielding mutant. And really, this is the film that should have come first.

Next stop: “Days of Future Past“.

Time-travel rumour-mongering

Over on Newsarama, they’re rumour-mongering that Marvel is setting us up for a sequel-of-sorts to Civil War. Except this time, it’ll involve time travel.

I like what Newsarama is rumouring.

(Yes, this is a proper use of the word. Which I think we can all agree is a perfect cromulent word.)

Anyway, imagine heroes beating three levels of crap out of each other. Literally each other. Yes, we’ve had Avengers vs. X-Men and we’ve had Civil War. Both huge, magnificent smash-fests involving most of the Marvel universe.

But this? What would this rumoured series involve? And how could it be better than its (many) predecessors?

Instead of a civil war where Captain America fights Iron Man, picture a youthful Wolverine battling his own self from the future.

A tired, humourless and bitter Cyclops from the present, blasting the living crap out of his young, eager and frankly annoying self from the past.

But what? And how?

The Bendis co-written Avengers vs. X-Men led to the time-displaced original X-Men being pulled from the past to help combat what the X-Men believe to be a corrupted Cyclops in All-New X-Men. And this past week led to another fracture in that title …

Interesting. And…

The current Age of Ultron is steeped in time travel — Ultron is apparently attacking the present from the future, Wolverine and Invisible Woman are traveling to the past to try to present the future/present and Marvel has made it clear that implications of the Butterfly Effect are about to take hold in that series.

Yes. I’d buy that. My conditions, Marvel, are as follows: story by Bendis, art by Olivier Coipel. And no more than 12 issues. My attention span can’t handle any more.

Finally, and most importantly, please don’t use these time-travel shenanigans to bring any dead characters back to life.

Sigh.

We both know Prof. Xavier is due for a comeback and you’ll probably need to kill off the newly time-traveled Jean Grey to balance things out.

Whatever. Just make sure it all looks beautiful and involves several cliffhangers along the way and I won’t moan.

Much.

Fresh starts: Uncanny X-Men 1

UncannyX-men1Yet another Marvel comic re-launched this week – this time it was the turn of Uncanny X-Men. I’ve not been a massive fan of all this re-branding and re-badging of existing titles, but for a change, this one makes sense.

The X-Men have one of the most complex and convoluted histories of any comic characters. And while the clock has been reset, teams disbanded and reformed over time, it was getting about time to once again start over.

But it’s not really starting over.

Yes, the comic is “restarting” with a new issue 1. But the story is evolving from the last couple of years of story-telling. The schism across the mutant population, the return of the Phoenix and the death (at the hands of Cyclops) of Professor X.

As things stand, Cyclops, Magneto, Emma Frost and Magik are effectively on the run and recruiting new mutants to their cause. Cyclops is presenting himself to the world as some sort of freedom fighter for mutant rights, all the time hiding the fact that the Phoenix Force has left him unable to control his powers properly.

He and his team have adopted a more “muscular” approach to dealing with the rest of the world. When compared with Wolverine’s membership of the Avengers, Cyclops’ team look a lot like terrorists.

I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to this new series. While I love Chris Bachelo’s art (which doesn’t disappoint here), I don’t really like any of the main protagonists. In fact, I actively dislike Cyclops. The trajectory his character has taken over the last few years and just made him even more dislikable.

From stiff and boring, he became unyielding and uncompromising and then just plan difficult and even more humourless. While under the influence of the Phoenix Force he even killed his mentor, Charles Xavier.

Magik turned into a vindictive and vicious little bitch throughout the Phoenix episode, so that just leaves me with Emma Frost and Magneto. Neither of whom I find particularly interesting. But now, just wait a minute… there’s a sting in the tail of this episode which sets it up nicely for the medium term. Cyclops has a traitor in his ranks who is just itching to take him down.

I won’t reveal who – you can see for yourself on the last page of the comic. But this was enough to make me come back for more to see how it all pans out.

And that’s great story-telling.