X-Centric: March Madness ...with Mutants

by the General

Have you all heard of a little title called X-Men? Apparently, they are this group of people born with mutant powers who have sworn to protect a world that fears and hates them. I think they are going to be popular one day, so I thought I'd start a monthly column dedicated to reviewing titles starring them. If you are interested in finding out more about these little known characters, read on!

But, before I get into the actual reviews, I thought that, like Doug, I'd give you a little information about my comic collecting habits. I, like a lot of the other contributors on this blog, buy my comics through an online mail order comic site. The upside of this is that I save a good deal of money... the downside is that I don't get my comics until the start of the following month. So, you might notice that the comics I'll be talking about today are all from March. Because of this, I'm not going to be too concerned about **Spoiler Warnings** because, frankly, if you haven't read these comics by now, they probably aren't that important to you.

Also, as you might imagine (given the title of this article), I mainly collect X-titles. I'd probably estimate that 90% of the monthly titles I collect are Marvel titles. Of which at least 75% of those star a cast of merry mutants. Also, since I'm a cheapskate, I usually only collect team books. I mean, why would you want to spend $2.99 to read a book about just Wolverine, when you could spend that same $2.99 and read a book about Wolverine and a bunch of other random characters? Simple Character Quantity Economics.

Finally, instead of reviewing individual titles, I thought I'd try lumping a bunch of titles together so that instead I could focus on talking about larger themes and storylines within those titles. But, enough about me... on to the comics!

The Messiah War Begins!
Discussed: Life and Times of Lucas Bishop #2, Cable #12, X-Force#13, Messiah War Special #1 and Cable #13

I'm pretty sure that, based on the characters involved in this crossover event, that the titular "Messiah" is actually Rob Liefeld. I mean, how else can you explain that nearly every major character he created for Marvel is here? Cable, Domino, Stryfe and even Deadpool. It's like a reunion of the original X-Force cast. And, as if those characters don't keep the Badass Factor™ high enough, they've also thrown in Wolverine, X-23, Bishop, Archangel, Proudstar and the Vanisher... Ok, so maybe not all the characters are badasses.

And, what gets this many Hardcore™ characters together? Fighting over a little girl.

Actually, I've been honestly enjoying the build up to this storyline. But, while I'm enjoying it overall so far, I do have to admit that the execution has been a bit rocky. While most of the issues are holding up their part of the deal (and I'm even a little surprised to be enjoying Life and Times of Lucas Bishop), the Cable issues have been pretty clunky so far. But, I think that the art has mainly been to blame. Ariel Olivetti draws a mean flexing bicep, but his storytelling is often awkward to say the least.

"Y'think?" This is the sort of storytelling that bugs me in Cable. Stryfe and Bishop have teamed up to track down Cable and the Messiah child. And, how do they do that? A walk on the beach, as near as I can tell.

As far as X-Force goes, I think its easily the strongest part of this event. That said, I really hope that they didn't kill of Boom-Boom (see, no spoiler warnings, punks!) like it appears they did. It would be the first time that Kyle and Yost's tendency to kill-off second and third stringers would have really peeved me off... if for no other reason than it would nix my often fantasized about Nextwave Reunion.

Finally, does anyone else think that one of the things they are building to is X-Force splitting off, so that Cyclops no longer leads them?

X-Meeeennnnn iiinnnnn Spaaaaaaace!
Discussed: X-Men: Kingbreaker #4 and War of the Kings #1 & #2

If there's one thing that the Bad Genious' resident Soul-Hole and Ellis-Whore, Dan, hates; it's Space. And, when it comes to the idea of the X-Men in space, I tend to agree with him. I fall into that rare minority that was never really a fan of the Phoenix Saga because so much of it involved the X-Men in space... fighting aliens. Bleh.

That said, (and here's where I show off exactly how big of a hypocrite I can be) I actually have been enjoying the ongoing Vulcan vs. Havok in space storyline that's been running for several years now. Pretty much from the point that Brubaker kicked it off, I've been consistently entertained. And while it's rarely been Great (with a capital "G"), its at least usually Good.

Furthermore, after an exciting finale to Kingbreaker, I'm excited to see the storylines scope expand to become entwined with the Inhuman's own ongoing saga. Bring on the Shi'ar/Kree war! Now, it has to be said that some of the BGers are grousing about the slow start to War of the Kings, but honestly the slow first issue didn't bother me much. Instead, what has me scratching my head is Polaris and Crystal suddenly being all buddy-buddy.

Now, I could be missing somehere, so correct me if I'm wrong: Polaris is Quicksilver's half-sister. But, this is a fairly sketchy relationship that was only established a couple years ago, and hasn't exactly been filled with cheerful family reunions. Crystal is married to Quicksilver... or at least they used to be married, but aren't any more... since Crystal is now getting married to Ronan the Accuser. But, now Polaris is hanging out with Crystal before her wedding, and they are all BFF?!

Oh, and speaking of Ronan. I actually felt sorry for him in the scene with the flowers. Saddest Accuser Ever.

Old New Mutants
Discussed: X-Infernus #4 and Young X-Men #12

You know what else Dan hates? Magic! So, I'm sure he was digging the finale of X-Infernus which was filled with all sorts of magic... not to mention Magik.

These two books are odd ducks, because on one hand they are both trying to resolve their respective storylines, but at the same time they were also just trying to get their ducks in a row for the return of the original New Mutants in their own title next month. In both regards, I think they were capable, but not exceptional.

Frankly, this transition leaves me feeling a little odd. Because, on one hand, I'm eager to see the original New Mutants all return to a monthly title. But, on the other hand, after following the new New Mutant New X-Men Young X-Men through a string of titles, I'm a little worried that those characters are just going to be put out to pasture and forgotten about. Luckily, a lot of the latest generation of X-Men have already shifted to other titles (X-23, Elxir, the Cuckoos, Armor, Pixie and even Dust), and this final issue of Young X-Men ends with "and the adventure continues" sort of finale, so my hopes are high that we'll continue to see them from time to time.

In which case, bring on the old New Mutants!

Discussed: X-Men Legacy #222 and Uncanny X-Men #507

The X-Universe seems to be missing its center these days. Not only is Astonishing X-Men not shipping regularly (and feeling inconsequential when it does ship); but the events taking place on the fringes of the X-Universe are routinely more interesting than what's going on in the two main titles.

Generally, even if it doesn't feel particularly relevant, X-Men Legacy can be trusted to deliver a solid story mining the depths of X-continuity. But, for the last couple months that doesn't seem to be the case since its gotten bogged down in a silly storyline featuring Danger (because we were all itching for her return) and a group of Shi'Ar junk salvagers. And, zzzzzzz....

Oh, wait, sorry, dozed off there. Anyhow, moving on.

Over in Fraction's Uncanny we are getting a certifiably mixed bag of nuts, and my opinions on the various storylines kicking around in it are equally mixed. The X-Club? Actually entertaining. Colossus' mourning Kitty's death? Tedious. The Sisterhood? I'm a little curious about that. Magneto's return? Too early, but still has my interest. One things for sure, I'll be happier when this title finds its illusive sea-legs again.

Occasionally, other people are right.
Discussed: X-Factor #41 and Captain Britain and the MI13 #11

X-Factor and Captain Britain are both titles that have small, loyal and (most noticably) vocal fan bases that are constantly raving about them. And, both are titles that I tend to run a little hot a cold to. That said, this month, their fans are right about both.

While Peter David's pleading that people "not ruin the surprises online" in the recap page sort of bugs me (because it smacks me of his usual grandstanding tactics), I have to admit that the title has been full of fun twists and turns. This is especially welcome since the last couple years of this title have been bogged down with clumsy crossovers and forced tie-ins to major events. It's nice to see this title slip back into form, and do what it does best.

Meanwhile, for whatever reason, this new Vampire storyline in Captain Britain is working for me. And, I continue to enjoy the way Cornell writes the characters. If I have one complaint, its that I still don't feel like Kirk's art matches the title's tone that well. It just strikes me as a little too bright... but maybe that's more an issue with the coloring. (Insert shrug here.)

This is the end, my friend
Discussed: Ultimate X-Men #100 and Ultimatum #3

Actually, if you are still reading this far into my ramblings, you are a masochist, and I should end things quickly to put you out of your misery. Much the same thing can be said about Ultimate X-Men. This title has been a trainwreck for some time now and I'm glad to see it end.

And, while my reaction to Ultimatum isn't as strong as Brandon's, its still going to give me the perfect jumping off point for this imprint. So, goodbye Ultimate Universe.

And, goodbye till next month, intrepid reader!

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