Fifty Greatest X-Men Characters #41: Shatterstar

shatterstar-x-force-x-factoNext up is another character that I’ve always enjoyed. He is as sharp as a tack, well the signature double-bladed swords that he carries. I’m talking about the X-Forcer turned X-Factorer Shatterstar.

His debut was fairly straight forward. Shatterstar is a test-tube grown mutant from the Mojoworld of the future who traveled back in time to help the X-Men to help them defeat the alien Mojo who rules the dimension he calls home. His introduction was just like so many of the characters that first appeared in the early 1990s; he shows up, joins a group and starts kicking ass. For the most part, everyone did a good job writing him. He was a displaced warrior who would be much more comfortable fighting people. Needless to say, he jived perfectly with being in X-Force under Cable’s tutelage but not so much when it was the other young mutants running the show.

Eventually they gave him more of a character, with him at one point having acquired the memories of a deceased teenager. But the biggest character growth was under Jeph Loeb’s direction, with an allusion to Shatterstar having a secret relationship with his teammate Rictor. A decade later, Shatterstar and Rictor became public with their relationship and creating Marvel’s premier gay couple. It’s been handled very well, and Rictor and Shatterstar have an extra complexity going on. This is his first romantic relationship of any kind and he doesn’t want the exclusivity that Rictor is seeking. And to make things more confusing, Shatterstar finds himself attracted to both sexes. I like the direction that they’ve taken, making him a coming of age character who is pushing thirty.

Oh and one more really cool thing about Shatterstar…HE’S THE SON OF DAZZLER AND LONGSHOT!!!! Way back in 1992’s X-Men Annual #1, there’s a one-off comment between Dazzler and Longshot talking about naming a child Shatterstar and kicking off two decades worth of speculation. As part of Peter David’s conclusion for X-Factor, this is revisited and is FINALLY confirmed.

$(KGrHqUOKkEE7HvjNWkzBPmuqeVlyQ~~60_35And one more thing…Toy Biz made some really cool Shatterstar figures back in the 1990s. I remember vividly picking up the figure on your right when I thought I was way too old to be stopping into a Kay Bee Toys and buying anything. I was a freshman in high school and would have been quite embarrassed if anyone saw me. But then again, I wasn’t invited to any of the cool kids’ parties any way.

So there I was proudly plopping down five bucks to get an awesome action figure which I still have to this day!

Advertisements

Fifty Greatest X-Men Characters #43: Gideon

gideon-x-force

Gideon was a really cool concept for an X-Men villain that always had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, he had a really short life span before he was killed by the mutant vampire Selene. that said, he’s still cool in my book.

He was born in the fifteenth century and served as a crew member for Christopher Columbus’ New World voyage. After being left for dead, Gideon discovered that he was nearly immortal. Not only is he a mutant with the power to mimic the skills and abilities of the people around him, but he also belongs to the subspecies of Externals which have the gift of immortality. Gideon isn’t the type of villain in the Doctor Doom style, that wants world domination, nor is he like the Joker and wants to be an agent of chaos. Instead, Gideon spent his time lurking in the background manipulating the people around him for his own gain and amassed a fortune.

Gideon made himself publicly known around the same time as the original X-Force debuted, as he was interested in mentoring Sunspot whom was believed to be another External. In order to get closer to the younger mutant, Gideon had his father brutally murdered. It turned out that Sunspot wasn’t an External, and it was really Cannonball instead. Eventually the truth was revealed and this put him at odds with X-Force for the rest of his life. Although he never became a full on villain, he did have an odd respect of Sunspot, Cannonball and the rest of X-Force. Towards the end of his life when he feared Selene was going to murder him he reached out to him for assistance. Unfortunately, they got the message too late.

Gideon was an interesting character and the possibilities of what the could do were endless. It’s a shame he hasn’t been brought back to the land of the living.

Fifty Greatest X-Men Characters #47: Boom Boom

boom-boom

I don’t care if you call her Time Bomb, Boom-Boom, Boomer or Meltdown. Tabitha Smith is awesome. Don’t believe me? Ask writer supreme Warren Ellis:

“I wanted a character who could blow things up,” he said of his choice of Boom-Boom. “I was also looking for a team structure where the women outnumbered the men. I liked her white-trash criminal background, which had uses in the plot set-up. But mostly I wanted a character who could blow things up. I mean, these are characters who no-one at Marvel had any use for, and I could have been stopped at any time, Jen. But a skinny-ass blonde mutant with a kleptomaniac streak had both plot and entertainment value to me. Especially when played against the others.”

I think that says everything you need to know about why I like Boomer.She is definitely a tough cookie. Over the years she’s grown into quite the formidable character. Oh yeah, and her power is infinitely cooler than Jubilee’s.

New York Comic Con 2012 Sketchbook: Cable by Reilly Brown

Cable by Reilly Brown

I’m on vacation this week so we’ll be posting some quick stuff, mostly sketches I picked up at New York Comic Con 2012 starting with this one of Cable by Reilly Brown.

Reilly is an awesome artist and I really loved his work on the Cable and Deadpool series. That said, getting a sketch of Cable from him made me super excited. You can catch up on his current projects on his Tumblr. You should also check out his own project Power Play which I highly recommend.

 

X-Force Movie Line-Up: Who Makes Up The Roster?

x-force

With the San Diego Comic Con next week, the net is buzzing about an announcement for a X-Force movie. Bleeding Cool has been speculating about it all week, and X-Force co-creator Rob Liefeld has been tweeting up a storm. That said who gets to be in the movie?

I would assume that it would be the original era, as opposed to the X-Force as Wolverine’s covert hit squad. That said, it would be safe to assume that Cable would be in this and would be front and center with the team. I would assume that the movie would branch off from X-Men: The Last Stand, with a group of mutant students from the Xavier Institute going on their own under his leadership.

You would need someone to be a more direct counterpoint to Cable, and I think that is where Cannonball comes in. But as far as the rest of who should (or shouldn’t) be in the movie is pretty up in the air.

Domino makes sense, as she kind of serves as a second to Cable. Warpath brings a unique choice, as they haven’t really had any Native American characters in a super hero movie before. Having Rictor and Sunspot, who are Mexican and Brazillian respectively, might help make the movie easier to market in Latin America. But would they make Rictor be openly gay in the movie as he is in the comics? The same question could be raised if they bring in his boyfriend Shatterstar into the film. That would be another first, too, with having a gay super hero in a mainstream movie.

Sadly, I don’t think anyone would notice or miss Feral and Boom Boom if they weren’t included in the film other than me. So what do you think?

 

Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution

uncanny-x-force-1-liefeld

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.

New Mutants #99

new-mutants-99-x-men-138-ho

Rob Liefeld’s cover of New Mutants #99 is a homage to X-Men #138.As that much earlier issue was about changes, this issue serves as the beginning of the transition period from the New Mutants to X-Force.

It’s been a rough few months for the New Mutants, and Cable’s leadership of the group is becoming more apparent and causes a lot of discord. As the cover shows, Sunspot leaves the group at the end of the issue. After being informed that his estranged father was murdered, Sunspot is returning to Brazil and Cable is mostly apathetic to this.

That sets up a yelling match between Cable and Cannonball about the direction of the team. Cable sees the New Mutants as soldiers he has to train and develop for an upcoming war, with little regard for the people themselves. Cannonball gets even more upset, when Cable has the same reaction to the news to Rictor’s leaving.

You really get the feeling that there is a huge changing of the guard, both in the make up of the team and in the group’s philosophy. Out of the remaining members you have Cable and Domino, both of whom share this bleaker outlook. Even Boom Boom is buying in on their more hard line approach. And then there is Cannonball, who is begrudgingly hanging on to this group he helped start in the first place.

With Rictor and Sunspot out, the team will need new members. This issue conveniently provides them. Warpath has returned; the Apache reservation he lived on was seemingly destroyed by the Hellfire Club and he wants revenge. Cable promises he will assist in that as long as he’s dedicated to fighting the war to save mutantkind.

On the brightside, this issue is the debut of the cat-powered Feral, who is looking for protection from the Morlocks, and the end features a yet-to-be-revealed Shatterstar popping up in the Danger Room.

 

New Mutants Annual #7

new-mutants-annual-7Who misses Marvel’s summer annuals? I’ll give you a hint: this guy does. New Mutants Annual #7 bridges the gap of the team’s transition from being the New Mutants to X-Force. And it sports this cool Mike Mignola cover.

The main feature sets up a crossover with the New Warriors, and there is another serialized story about the evil mutants turned government operatives in Freedom Force.

But the best part of this is the last short story by writer Judy Bogdanove and artist Jon Bogdanove (I’m assuming they are married).

It features the young mutants Artie, Leech and Wiz from the X-Terminators going on an adventure of their own and unintentionally causing a ruckus as they fly around town in a flying saucer. It ends with them finding a new friend in a grandmotherly old woman. The whole scene is really touching with Leech mistaking her for his deceased mother. That said, the story is a lot of fun and really is the highlight of the annual. It reminds me of something out of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories television series.

Since it is an annual, there is also the obligatory pin up pages (by Rob Liefeld and Art Thibert) and a pretty cool organizational chart of the team which you can view here.

New Mutants #87

New Mutants #87

New Mutants #87

New Mutants #87 introduces Cable to the Marvel Universe. It’s not every month a character who is going to have this big an impact on the series debuts every month.

Not only did Cable debut in this issue but his primary nemesis Stryfe does as well. Stryfe is part of a group of terrorist mutants called the Mutant Liberation Front. They’re attempting to rescue the incarcerated New Mutants Rusty and Skids. And by rescue, I mean wind up brainwashing them into joining their ranks.

As this is going on, Cable shows up in an attempt to stop Stryfe from abducting the duo. The book ends with the MLF escaping and Cable being locked up by the government, as he was blamed for the attack.

What this issue did was set up the last year of the series, as well as it’s relaunch/metamorphosis into X-Force. In the issue, it wasn’t very clear why Cable needed to protect Rusty, Skids or the rest of the New Mutants, but it was established that there was some reason he would not accept them joining Stryfe’s forces. There’s a lot of mystery about what is going on and it does get explained in later issues.

New Mutants #87 is also pretty cool in my book, as it’s a collaboration between writer Louise Simonson and artist Rob Liefeld, both of whom I am a pretty big fan of

Friday Fights #24: Cable vs. Deathstroke the Terminator

cable-vs-deathstroke-the-te

We’re back after a break do an extreme case of being too busy. We have a battle of Cable vs. Satellite Deathstroke the Terminator! What would happen if these two bad-ass silver foxes did battle? These two might be a little more similar than you may think.

The first thing that comes to mind with Deathstroke and Cable is how similar the two of them are. First, their appearances come to mind. Both are white-haired. They both also happen to be missing an eye, but both manage to overcome that by being amazing supers. They’re master tacticians  And I’m sure that there is no weapon they haven’t been trained to operate, and probably have faced every kind of hand-to-hand combat imaginable.

On the weaponry end of things, I would have to give Cable being that he is from the future. He has access to blaster weaponry that Deathstroke can’t even imagine. That said, I would have to say that Deathstroke is a much more disciplined fighter, being that he is the best assassin/black ops type in the DC universe.

So what it comes down to is their powers. Cable does have some telepathic and telekinetic abilities, but for the most part he uses them to keep the techno-organic virus that plagues his body in check. Deathstroke has enhanced reflexes and physical strength. But it’s not his brawn that tips the scales in his favor.

Deathstroke is able to operate using 90% of his brain power, allowing him to think steps ahead of everyone around him. And at the end of the day, that’s all he needs to terminate Cable. WINNER: Deathstroke

Spider-Man: Masques

Let’s remember 1991! I just finished reading Spider-Man: Masques, which collects a bunch of issues from the adjective-less Spider-Man book from the Todd McFarlane era. And by judging the art and story in this collection, he’s already got his mind set in the direction he would take with Spawn.

That said, Masques features two stories set in darker, supernatural world. The first one has Spider-Man facing off against Hobgoblin, who is now a demon on a mission from God to rid the world of sinners. The plot gets a little wonky at this point, as Hobgoblin has abducted the son of a woman he murdered. Little Adam believes Hobgoblin is an angel of some sort. Taking a child is enough to get Spider-Man’s attention.

Ghost Rider takes interest in this for two reasons:

  1. Hobgoblin is killing innocent people, which always get his dander.
  2. It’s 1991. Ghost Rider’s popularity is at its peak and he has to make as many cameo appearances as inhumanly possible.

Our heroes wind up chasing Hobgoblin all over New York, with the biggest problem being that Ghost Rider is more concerned with killing Hobgoblin than ensuring the boy’s safety. The story ends kind of abruptly with Spider-Man stopping Ghost Rider, who intends on beating the villain to death. The story ends with Spidey giving a lecture on justice not necessarily meaning vengeance, Ghost Rider blowing him off and McFarlane getting to draw two issues worth of chains all over the place.

The second act is Spider-Man donning the old’ black Venom style suit, as he literally goes underground to investigate people disappearing all over Manhattan. It turns out the homeless people living in the subway have been feeding “sinners” to on-again, off-again hero/villain vampire Morbius to quench his bloodthirsty.

Unfortunately, Spidey has to inform him that he’s been fed people who aren’t criminals. Morbius is pretty upset about this revelation; he goes nuts attacking the homeless people and then runs of on his own, presumably to start his new solo series. Again, this is from the early 1990s, so it’s the second height of Marvel’s super natural hero popularity.

These stories really look like they could have been out of Spawn. The backgrounds, the panel layout, even the homeless people who resembled the Vindicator all show up. The ties between Spider-Man and Spawn aesthetically speaking are really strong.

The final story is a crossover with X-Force. You can’t get much more 1990s comic art then this, with both McFarlane and Rob Liefeld teaming up. This comic just might be the birth of “widescreen” comic books, as the art is laid out on the page lengthwise. This is pretty much what you would expect; its sheer visual mayhem.

What you might not expect is the story; longtime mutant terrorists Juggernaut and Black Tom team up some mercenaries in an attack leading to the destruction of the upper half of one of the World Trade Center’s towers. It’s very uncomfortable reading this story in a post 9/11 world, as the background imagery is eerily similar to the actual. I hadn’t read this since college, and completely forgot about this.

Spider-Man: Masques is a nostalgia book, for anyone who grew up reading comics during the 1990s. It sums up everything in comics at that point on the Marvel end: superstar artists, X-Men characters, supernatural plot lines, everything.  It might not hold up that well, but it’s a great look back at that era.

X-Factor #84

Let’s take a look back at X-Factor #82–the second part of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this came out twenty years ago. God I’m getting old.

As the second part of a crossover running through four different ongoing series, the pacing on this is kind of odd but its forgivable. In part one, Professor X has just been shot by Cable and is in grave condition at a hospital. X-Factor’s government liaison Valerie Cooper is trying to get a handle on his status, as he’s apparently been infected with some sort of techno virus that is turning him into a machine. I hope that Professor X is covered by his HMO; this sounds expensive.

As this is going on, X-Factor is investigating what had happened at the crime scene. X-Force–without their leader Cable, cause he apparently just tried to assassinate Professor X–is also there. The two groups tussle for obvious reasons, with X-Factor

There is one scene that sticks out now as being odd in retrospect involving Wolfsbane and Rictor making out with Shatterstar watching. At the time it makes sense, since they are former teammates after all. But in modern-day, Rictor and Shatterstar are a couple, and I’m sure it must be awkward watching your significant other making out with a wolf chick.

Art in this issue was by Jae Lee. I guess this was still early in his career, as his artwork really reminded me of Sam Keith, with the dark moodiness, use of negative space and odd cartoonishly rendered characters. But that’s a good thing, as I enjoy both Lee and Keith’s work.

SDCC 2012 Exclusives: Marvel Comics Toys From Hasbro

It’s summertime and that means visions of San Diego Comic Con exclusives will be dancing in my head. Hasbro has a bunch of great stuff this year, mainly the Marvel Universe three pack of the Masters of Evil! Lead by Baron Zemo, the team is usually a group of whatever super villains that he can find available. This set features Zemo with Radioactive Man and Tiger Shark.

For me this is a must buy, since I’m a huge Namor fan. Really, when else will they make someone implicitly for the Sub-Mariner to fight? Not to mention, the translucent Radioactive Man is pretty sweet.

Marvel Legends fans can get a special three pack featuring Psylocke, Archangel and Wolverine in their grey combat gear from Uncanny X-Force comics. This is kind of passable for me, since I already have Marvel Legends of the characters featured.

The biggest thing–pun intended–Hasbro is offering is a four-foot long SHIELD Helicarrier! It’s a whole foot longer than the regular retail version. I think it also comes with an exclusive Maria Hill figure. As much as I would love to have this, I think I’m going to have to pass. If it’s going for $129.99, can only imagine what the shipping would be. But if one of my loving readers would like to gift this to me, I would be pretty grateful…

Youngblood/X-Force

Going through the comics last night I came across this little piece of awesomeness. I’m talking about Youngblood/X-Force, where we finally get to see Rob Liefeld’s two super teams from the 1990s collide in a battle for supremacy. Well not really, but this one-shot from 1996 is definitely a fun read.

This story is written by Eric Stephenson (who now currently serves as Image Comics’ publisher) and his script deserves much of the credit why this book was so awesome. Whenever you have a crossover with characters from two different publishers, the 800 pound gorilla is if you can make this meet-up plausible.

Stephenson found a perfect way to do it, using longtime X-Men and Excalibur villain Mojo (basically a grossly obese alien who controls the Mojoverse through television programming. Don’t believe me? Read his bio on Marvel.com) In a feud with the much more loved Mojo II, the two fight over who gets the exclusive rights to broadcast the adventures (or misadventures) of Youngblood.

Eventually Youngblood become captured by the feuding Mojo’s, with their leader Shaft escaping to the Marvel Earth. It’s up to him and X-Force to go back to the Mojoverse and save Youngblood. Whacky hijinks ensue.

Again, Stephenson’s script is just awesome. His dialogue and use of Mojo is superb. The spineless villain really is the star in this book. There were a few times I heartily laughed, as Mojo panned some of the not so highlights of 1990s comics history, when he took a slight jab at the Ultraverse (Malibu Comics’ line of super hero comics that Marvel purchased in 1996) for not being cool and that making too many spin offs of Youngblood would ruin the property  (Youngblood had a plethora of spin-off comics including Team Youngblood, Youngblood Strikefile, Youngblood and the Raiders of the Lost Arc [well maybe not that one, but you get the point]).

So why would Marvel and Liefeld allow this? Well, it’s always a good sign to show that you can poke fun at yourself. Self-deprecation is endearing, and that’s how it came off. Anyway, Youngblood/X-Force is certainly a fun read and you should totally track one down. It is proof that there was some really fun comics from the 1990s.