Uncanny X-Men #139: Exposition Junction

The X-Men are still reeling from the loss of Jean Grey (who died as a result of the whole Dark Phoenix Saga) and Cyclops (who has gone on leave, since his girlfriend was Jean and all). That said, there is a lot of exposition in this issue from the Claremont/Byrne era..

The team is getting used to having Storm calling the shots, which isn’t too much of a problem for anyone. Angel is still trying to work his way back into the team, and, well, sucks at it.

Kitty Pryde has officially joined the X-Men as an active member, and there’s a series of panels of her trying to come up with a code name that is just so annoying. No wonder everyone thought she was so insufferable.

The most interesting part of the comics is the Wolverine and Nightcrawler subplot, with them going off to Canada to resolve some of Wolvie’s unfinished business with the government and wind up going Wendigo hunting. It also seems to be the first issue of Wolvie in his brown/yellow costume and the first instance of him being called Logan to boot.

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X-Men #4

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Happy Father’s Day!

Brian Wood’s X-Men #4 seems to be a fill-in issue, as it is mostly self-contained and features art by David Lopez. There’s two really interesting stories going on that mostly show the more emotional parts of these characters.

As the cover shows, the main one features Wolverine and Jubilee, as they visit the mall where the X-Men first wound up encountering her many years ago. Through their conversation, it really shows how she has matured through the years and now that she has her son Shogo in her life, she really is an adult. You also really get a look into her relationship with Wolverine, who really treats her like his daughter. He winds up buying her childhood home so she has a place to raise the child.

The rest of the X-Men are trying to rescue a crashing airplane, which should be simple if not routine for them. However, this new group is still trying to get their team dynamics under control if they’re going to save the day. Spoil alert: they did. And quite frankly I didn’t care that much, as the scenes with Wolverine and Jubilee were so good.

Fifty Greatest X-Men Characters #40: Sabretooth

sabretoothSabretooth has always been a favorite character of mine. I know it’s all the rage to say that the Joker is the most evil villain in comic books but it has to be the big burly guy named Victor Creed.

Thanks to having a mutation that has gifted him a healing factor (and other predatory animal abilities just like his longtime nemesis Wolverine), Sabretooth has been around forever. Unlike Wolverine, he has no qualms about using deadly force at any times.

This lack of humanity, deadly abilities and no moral compass whatsoever makes him extremely evil. Plus his physical augmentation from Weapon X and several other evil organizations has only made him more unstoppable.

I just love how he never has any redeemable qualities. The few times he has seemed like a halfway decent person were when he was held captive by the X-Men and befriended Boom Boom or was a member of X-Factor, but those were to further his own motives. I even loved his portrayal in Avengers: 1959 where Howard Chaykin took this further by showing how bloodthirsty he will be when there is money involved.

So yes, Sabretooth is a really evil spirited immoral killing machine. I think that’s what also makes the Age of Apocalypse version (the one that was heavily featured in Exiles) such a great contrasting character. That Sabretooth is a role model to the other mutants, even taking in Wild Child and Blink as his pseudo children. I just love the direction that they took him in and it’s great.

Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution

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Rob Liefeld wasn’t the artist for this series, but he did contribute artwork for a variant cover for Uncanny X-Force #1.

I really enjoyed the set concept of X-Force being a more forceful, covert branch of the X-Family. So the continued adventures of Wolverine and Archangel’s secret task force in Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña’s Uncanny X-Force was a bit of a must read for me.

The previous volume ended with the team being seemingly disbanded by Cyclops. Wolverine and Archangel didn’t. I mean, who takes Cyclops seriously? Especially at this point in the characters’s existence. The group is based out of Cavern-X, which is basically Archangel’s version of the Batcave. It’s even decorated with X-Memorabilia. The new roster of this team adds Fantomex, Psylocke (who makes sense since she’s been the on again, off again love interest of Archangel) and Deadpool.

The purpose of this team has been to track the movements of the Apocalypse-worshipping Clan Akkaba across the globe. It turns out the group has reincarnated Apocalypse, now in the form of a young child. Knowing that he will eventually grow up into a tyrant that will eventually destroy both mankind and mutantkind, X-Force has the gruesome task of killing him. It’s the only way to be certain that he won’t be a threat to the planet. So it’s off to the moon to find him and fight the latest version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The battle sequences are what you would expect, but there is a lot of foreshadowing seen through the interactions of the members of X-Force. Fantomex is pretty much sexually harassing Psylocke the whole time, much to her and her boyfriend Archangel’s disdain. Speaking of the guy with the big metal wings, he is having his own problems dealing with a darker split personality trying to overtake him. With all this drama going on, Wolverine is put in a position where he has to be the peacemaker and that is a role is foreign to him. Aside from the intentionally bad jokes that Remender wrote for his dialogue, Deadpool is the straight man in this book. Go figure. 

The book ends with X-Force having dispatched the Four Horsemen and finding Kid Apocalypse. There is only one problem…no one seems willing to kill him, other than Archangel. There’s a lot of pleading from Wolverine and Psylocke to not do it, and the team reaches a consensus to take him back with them. If he has the chance to be properly educated and integrated into society, he won’t be a threat.

And then Fantomex kills him.

So much for that. 

I like the way Uncanny X-Force is heading. There is a lot of foreshadowing, not only with the repercussions of killing Apocalypse but with the strained relations among the members of the group themselves. Opeña’s art is a little different, but it reminds of Leinil Yu. I can’t wait to check out the next volume.

It Came From San Diego Comic Con 2013: Wolverine Saga Minimates

sdcc-wolverine-saga-minimatesMini Mates are always a lot of fun and at San Diego Comic Con this July there is an exclusive Wolverine set. The most awesome is Wolverine an orange kimono. That’s his version of business casual.

The Wolverine-as-Venom is pretty cool as well. I’m not sure if the Space Suite Wolverine really looks more like Wolverine wearing the skin of the Thing. And as we all remember, admantium does in fact cut up the Thing very nicely. The set is rounded out with his current costume and him in his Ultimate Universe attire.

 

New Hugh Jackman As Wolverine Picture

July 26, 2013 cannot come out soon enough. Twentieth Century Fox released this official image of the next installment of the Wolverine spin-offs from their X-Men series of films. Hugh Jackman is back as everyone’s favorite Canadian bad-ass in next summer’s The Wolverine.

This sequel borrows a lot of its story from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine mini series from 1982, so expect lots of samurais, ninja and organized crime set in Japan. And for good measure, Silver Samurai and Viper are going to be thrown in.

 

Kicking It Old School With The X-Men Arcade Game

I remember seeing the X-Men arcade game in the movie theater as a kid and never got to play it. Nineteen years later, I now own it.

Well, not the original cabinet version of the downloadable one for X-Box . So how does this arcade game from 1992 hold up in the modern era? It’s a standard side scroller and the graphics are pretty much what you would expect from a game of that era, but it’s still a lot of fun.

The plot is simple and loosely based on the 1989 cartoon pilot X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. Magneto has captured Kitty Pryde and Professor X, and it’s up to the X-Men to save them.  You get to pick from Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Dazzler to play with.

That’s right, Dazzler.

We all know that Dazzler is one of my favorite characters, but it is kind of alarming that she was included in the game. Dazzler was featured prominently in her post-disco duds in Uncanny X-Men in the late 1980s, but I’m surprised that she was in the game. By this point in the comics, she was largely forgotten. Craziness aside, I can accept this, since this is probably the only time that she will be featured prominently in a video game.

You lead the X-Men through several levels, beating up thousands of monsters, robots and Sentinels (a plot point that wasn’t resolved in this was how the mutant hunting robots fell under control of Magneto), and even the half man, half hank hybrid Bonebreaker from the Reavers! At the end of each level, you get to fight more distinguished X-villains like White Queen and Juggernaut, who inexplicably is firing a bazooka at you. Apparently he’s tired of being only taken as a super strong monster and wants to show off his marksmanship.

At the end of the game you rescue Kitty and Professor X and defeat Magneto, leaving him in Asteroid M to seemingly die as it explodes. I thought they were supposed to be the good guys!

The best part of this game is that you can play it with five of your friends, whether they are over at your place or you join an online session.  This game, like many arcade classics, is much more fun when playing with a group.

Download this game now. It’s a lot of fun, and the perfect way to start an evening of Big Bang Theory styled debauchery with your friends.

If There’s One Post About Comics Today That You Should Read I’m Talking About This One Right Here

Justice League inspects the comics (3) 

So there was a big comic book that came out today. Actually two.

I’m not talking about Flashpoint #5 or the new Justice League #1. I’m talking about this set of bagged goodies I found in my car. In the interest of disclosure, I was given this pack a while ago, but completely forgot about it.

Anyway, a company called Cards One specializes in putting together comic packs like these. Their business model is buying overstock and closeout of comics and cards, repackaging and selling them at discount stores like Five Below or your friendly neighborhood dollar store.

Today’s lunch break was time to break it open and see what literary treasures I would find.

Justice League inspects the comics (4)

So I dispatched the Justice League Desk Strike Force to investigate what was in this package.

The Question doesn't trust this mystery packageObviously the Question would be the natural skeptic of the group and would be the most hesitant to investigate a mystery package like this.

He would probably assume that it was part of some sort of trap or something like that.

After all, he’s this super hero team’s resident paranoid conspiracy theorist. I like keeping him at my desk to remind me of being skeptical, kind of like a reminder to get to the bottom of everything and find the truth. His creator Steve Ditko would be proud.Justice League inspects the comics
So what was in this value comic pack? Well first was Tales of the Teen Titans #64 which finishes up the Trigon Saga storyline and Raven sacrifices herself to stop her evil monster of a father. Wolverine #50 is wholey

Wolverine #50 was the other comic in the pack, with its special gimmick cover of a file folder of Wolvie’s secrets being slashed open. Holey promotional gimmick Batman! Story wise, the book is pure early 1990s fun. It was pencilled by some guy named Marc Silvestri. I wonder whatever happened to him…

The Question inspects the Crisis on Earths One and Two 

It also came with a trading card from DC’s first series of super hero cards from Impel back in 1992. It was about Crisis on Earths One and Two. The Question investigated, but he really didn’t believe it. Two earths? That’s crazy talk.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#2 Wolverine

I know what your going to say. Stop it. I don’t care what you think. Yes, he’s all over the place. Yes’ he’s super popular. But its for a reason; Wolverine is awesome. My first introduction to the character came back when I was around 1984, in some combination of the Secret Wars action figure, seeing him on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and in a comic book or two.

What I originally liked about Wolverine was that he didn’t fit in with the rest of the super heroes. He’s so objective about everything. He’s not afraid to use violence, which makes his peers hesitant. But the more I read, the more complicated he is.

I loved the fact that he had no idea about the majority of his life. You wound up being really sympathetic to him, as when both the character and reader learn about his past, it’s usually pretty depressing. But in spite of that, he still keeps going.

Yes, he was modified to be the ultimate killing machine, but Wolverine is really a kind person. Look at the paternal relationship he has with the younger female X-Men, like Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and even his female clone X-23. In recent years, they’ve developed his relationship with Spider-Man, who he’s kind of an older brother figure to.

The great thing about Wolverine as a character is that he can be fit into any situation. He works well in a typical super hero tale, just as much as you can put him in a dark, gritty story. He looks appropriate anywhere, whether he’s fighting aliens, ninja, soldiers or robots.

Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character in the X-Men films is just superb and is one of the best depictions of a super hero in cinema. He has the best mix of sarcasm and bravado, which really bring the character to life.

So yes, Wolverine is ridiculously awesome. We’ll be talking a lot about him in the coming months.

 

Have a great (and safe) weekend!

DSC_0051Like many Americans and Canadians, I’m taking advantage of this holiday weekend and turning it into a four day weekend. I’m sure Captain America and Wolvie are partying it up at the Avengers Mansion as we speak. Here’s to some good times!

That said, everyone be safe and responsible. A look over at MADD’s website will remind you of how dangerous drunk driving is, not just for the imbibed driver but for everyone around them. It’s quite sobering.

If you have something to drink, there’s nothing wrong with asking for someone else to drive you home, call a cab, or ask to stay over.

If you didn’t drink, be a hero and drive someone else home. The life you save might be your own.

That said, everyone have a great day and see you all tomorrow!

30 Things I Like About Comics—#20 Happy Canada Day!

Sasquatch and Wolverine belt out "Oh Canada"

Sasquatch and Wolverine belt out "Oh Canada"

So how does Canada Day count as something I like about comics? Canada is a very important part of the comic book world for many different reasons!

The first and most obvious way is that the comic book world has seen its fair share of prominent comic book creators! This goes back as far as Joe Shuster–one of the co-creators of Superman! Did you now that John Byrne, Todd McFarlane, David Sim, Stuart Immonen and Hal Foster are just some of the great comic book artists that the Great White North has produced? Just imagine how much less fun comic books would be without them.

Although there are many Canadian super heroes (and super villains), Marvel has the most elaborate Canada in comics thanks to Byrne, who is graduate of Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada. Byrne’s first high-profile work was on Uncanny X-Men with Chris Claremont, where he created Alpha Flight, a super hero team mostly made of Canadians!

Sasquatch is one of the many proud Canadian super heroes.

Sasquatch is one of the many proud Canadian super heroes.

Alpha Flight was a project of the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Department H. Although the team’s lineup rotated, it usually featured Aurora and her twin brother Northstar (the first gay super hero), Arctic tundra goddess Snowbird, the gamma-radiation created man monster Sasquatch, and the diminutive Puck. Alpha Flight was the best of Canada’s three government organized super hero teams, ahead of Beta Flight and Gamma Flight. To continue the flightiness, there was even an Omega Flight, which was a group of villains who wanted to take out sometimes Alpha Flight leader Guardian.

Alpha Flight has been a staple of the Marvel Universe since introduced back in 1979. They’ve had countless on going and limited series through the years. But that’s not the only way Canada contributed to making super heroes.

The Canadian government also sponsored the ongoing top-secret Weapon X program, which recruits (and sometimes forces) mutants and humans and genetically modifies them into living weapons. Some of the most popular Canadian Weapon X products are Deadpool, Sabretooth and Wolverine, definitely the most popular Canadian super hero and arguably one of the top five!

Wolverine would be a monster on the blueline.

Wolverine would be a monster on the blueline.

Just as the real world Canada is allies with the United States, the same goes for the two nations in the Marvel Universe. Weapon X is the Canadian branch of the Weapons Plus Program, an agreement between the two nations to create super soldiers that goes back to World War II.

Grant Morrison added this new wrinkle to Weapon X during his run on New X-Men in the early 2000s. On the American side, their biggest success was the creation of the Super Soldier Syrum which powers Captain America.

So let’s celebrate Canada Day by honoring the country’s great comic creators and characters! Crank some Rush, drink a Molson if you want and have a great day!