Friday, January 30, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue #113: Weapon Plus Part 1 is LIVE and New Commission!

It’s been a rough stretch for Wolverine, both in the comics and in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’s hard to get much rougher than being killed off in an event, only to have someone like Sabretooth take his place in Uncanny Avengers. But while Wolverine’s story is on hold in the comics, his story is entering a bold new chapter in X-men Supreme. He’s been clawing himself up out of rock bottom since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. Now he’s ready to take a much bolder leap and that involves confronting a dangerous new threat in Fantomex.

I set up the Weapon Plus arc with the intent of bringing out the best in Wolverine. Now that he’s dead in the comics, I want to make sure that the X-men Supreme fanfiction series makes an effort to fill the void for Wolverine fans everywhere. And I can think of no better way than to pit him against a powerful enemy that will test his mind, body, and spirit. He’s already had more than his share of tests in X-men Supreme. He’s had to battle Sabretooth, Weapon X, and Mr. Sinister. But Fantomex and the forces of Weapon Plus present a new and unique challenge that can’t be found in any other world outside of X-men Supreme.

When Wolverine confronted Fantomex in X-men Supreme Issue 111: Divine Intervention, it was not a close battle to say the least. Fantomex didn’t just wound Wolverine. He sent him to the brink of death. Fantomex demonstrated a level of skill and efficiency that exposed many of Wolverine’s shortcomings, both as a warrior and as a failed living weapon. In X-men Supreme, I set up Fantomex to be the weapon that Wolverine failed to be in the eyes of Weapon X. So far, he has succeeded. But as we’ve seen with Weapon X in both X-men Supreme and in its sordid history in the comics, its success is very fragile.

That’s what will make the challenges that Wolverine faces in this new arc so daunting. It isn’t so much that Fantomex represents a successful version of the weapon that he almost became. It also represents how daunting that challenge will be if and when that weapon fails. This fanfiction series has shown that Weapon X can be competent enough to free Graydon Creed from prison, but they can also be incompetent enough to let the X-men get the better of them. Now Wolverine, the X-men, and the mysterious X-23 are about to get caught in the crosshairs of Weapon Plus. It’s going to be a major battle for all those involved and one that will have major ramifications for the future of this fanfiction series.

X-men Supreme Issue 113: Weapon Plus Part 1

In addition, I have another update from the X-men Supreme Pics section. This time, it comes in the form of a new commission on behalf of X-men Supreme's newest artistic ally, Mack. He has provided another wonderful piece for X-men Supreme Issue 68: The Phoenix Saga Part 6. As always, he did a wonderful job of bringing the piece to life and I thank him for his contributions to X-men Supreme.

X-men Supreme Official Panels

This latest arc represents another step towards the biggest upheaval to come in X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. It’s an event that will shake the foundations of this fanfiction series, but it’s one that has to be set up just right. And since I’m still not certain whether this will be my last volume for X-men Supreme, it’s very important to make sure I get it right. And I can’t know it’s right unless I get feedback from readers. Please take the time to submit your reviews and comments. Either post them directly in the issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat. X-men Supreme will only succeed if I know I’m making it sufficiently awesome. Thanks to all those who have supported this fanfiction series. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #30

For anyone who has ever played video games, at some point they’ve used cheat codes. Sure, the can make a game so damn easy that it might as well be on auto-pilot. But sometimes it can make the game fun. Who doesn’t enjoy turning on God-mode in Skyrim every once in a while and beating dragons with a dagger? But that kind of cheating is a bit harder to enjoy when it comes to resolving egregious flaws in a story like the one being told in Uncanny X-men.

It’s a story that has dragged for way too fucking long. It was supposed to tie into the events of Original Sin, an event that ended last summer before people started getting sick of Frozen. It introduced one of Charles Xavier’s dying wishes and a volatile new mutant named Matthew Malloy. It has had its share of good, intense moments. But it has also been full of shitty characterization and huge dick moves, largely from Iceman. Now it’s gotten so fucked up that cheat codes might be necessary to fix it and Tempus is basically an updated version of Game Genie. It’s gotten to a point where shit is so bad that Uncanny X-men #30 has to cheat to tie up loose ends. But for a story that’s dragged so much, maybe that’s the most merciful thing to do at this point.

Some level of cheating will definitely be needed for SHIELD. They just told Maria Hill that they fucking killed Cyclops, Magik, and Matthew Malloy. It sounds like the kind of callous shit usually reserved for the Ultimate universe, but anyone who saw the teasers for Secret Wars (or even the preview for Uncanny X-men #31 that was released five days before this fucking issue) can sleep easy knowing that he’ll be back and his death will be undone. And that’s going to be bad fucking news for SHIELD. It doesn’t matter how much Maria Hill wants to secretly bone Cyclops. After shit like this, he’s going to see to it that her panties stay dry for a long fucking time.

The real cheating takes place, courtesy of Tempus. She saw how fucked this situation was so she resorted to more time travel because I guess Marvel assumes we’ve all become desensitized to this shit. The sad part is they’re not entirely wrong. It certainly makes it hard to get excited about the implications for this story. At the very least, it gives us a chance to see a Charles Xavier that Patrick Stewart would be proud to play.

Xavier isn’t quite as charming as Patrick Stewart, but he’s not the same douche-bag he was leading up to his death. He picks up on how fucked things must be. He even picks up how it involves Cyclops, who at this point is the teacher’s pet. Yet he remains remarkably calm, not even spilling his tea. I guess pretty girls from the future drop in all the time. If he were Patrick Stewart, he might even have a chance at boning them. But I guess there are limits to even time travel.

There are also limits to how much Emma Frost can keep arguing with the Jean Grey Institute staff. This is an argument that began several issues ago and it has still accomplished less than Paris Hilton’s music career. They kept bitching and moaning about the merits of recruiting Matthew Malloy and how Cyclops is just looking for a weapon. If this were a college lecture, I would have long since run out of weed and fallen asleep.

It only finally ends when gets news from SHIELD that Cyclops is dead. He doesn’t exactly sound that upset about it. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s hiding a boner. But again, it’s a moment that falls painfully flat because it’s a death that we already know isn’t going to stick. Considering how it accomplishes so little on top of an argument that went fucking nowhere, this is one of those moments that even weed can’t make entertaining.

There’s a much more meaningful argument between Tempus and Charles Xavier. She keeps trying to make him read her mind fully. He’s not too eager to see how fucked the future is who spoil the next dozen or so Superbowls. But he does sense enough to know what Tempus wants. She thinks Matthew Malloy needs to die in the past the save the future. She already sees what happens by doing things Xavier’s way. She thinks this situation is fucked enough to warrant an exception. Usually, this is the point where Xavier would just shrug his shoulders and compromise like he’s been doing since the Clinton administration. But this isn’t that same Charles Xavier and this is probably what makes this moment actually feel meaningful.

Maybe Patrick Stewart spoiled us, but I’m among those who miss this version of Charles Xavier. He didn’t compromise his principles whenever convenient. He didn’t mind-fuck his students when he thought it was necessary. He was dedicated to doing the right thing. Why the fuck did we have to abandon this Xavier so we could only see him in shitty movies? I know this is the result of time travel, but that doesn’t make it less meaningful.

In addition to seeing a less douchy Charles Xavier, I also enjoy seeing SHIELD get their asses handed to them when they fuck up. And they definitely fucked up by trying to solve this problem with Cyclops and Matthew Malloy with missiles. Haven’t they learned anything from George W. Bush? Bombing problems doesn’t make them go away. That certainly applies to Matthew Malloy, who managed to survive the attack. He’s able to reform his body and royally fuck up every SHIELD agent, jet, and helicarrier within a 20-mile radius. He then tries to bring Magik and Cyclops back to life. He fails at this because I guess that would just be too convenient, even for a grossly overpowered mutant like him. Now he has even more reasons to be pissed off. But at this point, Matthew Malloy’s powers are so obscene that it’s hard to feel sorry for him in the slightest. I have more sympathy for Bill Belichick at this point.

There’s really nobody else who can unfuck this situation besides Charles Xavier. He’s the one who put Matthew Malloy in this position. He tried to help him, but only ended up turning him into a ticking time bomb. He’s certainly not happy that Tempus has revealed that he’s basically a miserable failure in his efforts. Not only did he fail Matthew Malloy, but he failed his best student too. He gleans just how bad it’s gotten from her thoughts, finding out that even Magneto thinks they’re fucked.

Yet he still refuses to kill Matthew. Again, this is the kind of Charles Xavier who doesn’t make that kind of douche-bag compromises. It would be so refreshing if it didn’t take a situation this fucked to revisit it. That’s the biggest problem with this story and with moments like this. They have no emotional weight. The story has either dragged too much or it’s one of those stories that’s basically going to be undone. It kept AXIS from being as good as it could’ve been and it’s making this story as shitty as it deserves to be.

Back at the Jean Grey Institute, the shock of Cyclops’ death has hit pretty much nobody. The only one who really reacts to it as Emma Frost and even she doesn’t break down in tears. She’s not even sleeping with the guy anymore, but she cares about him enough to know how fucked the X-men are without him. She even manages to lash out with a little telepathic hissy fit, if only to kill Beast and Iceman’s boners. Her powers may be broke, but she’s still capable of getting pretty pissed off.

She ends up taking that anger out on Matthew Malloy when he appears at the Jean Grey Institute. How he gets there and why he chooses to go there when SHIELD is the one that fucked him over is not explained. But as soon as Emma Frost lays into the guy who killed the last guy to fuck her good who wasn’t a king or a billionaire mogul, he kills her. Because I guess this story isn’t done trying too fucking hard. It has to kill more characters to keep our attention. A free bottle of gin would’ve done the same.

At this point, nobody should even raise an eyebrow. Even Emma Frost fans will probably yawn at this because it’s just that bland. Matthew Malloy is on a roll, killing anyone and everyone who gets near him. Emma Frost might as well have been another meat bag in the mix that goes into making a bad hot dog. I’m sure it’s going to make Kitty Pryde happy while all her former students cry for the teacher they used to fantasize about in the shower, but for everyone else it’s an annoyance at best.

This latest meaningless death is sensed by the Stepford Cuckoos. At that point even they agree on just how fucked they are. They start plotting on how they’re going to handle this and/or how they’re going to start shitting themselves. But that’s when Tempus arrives back in the present, this time with Charles Xavier. And since it’s a non-douchy Charles Xavier, they actually have reason to not curl up into a fetal position and cry themselves to death. He’s the one who helped make Matthew Malloy the fucked up overpowered character he is. Now he has to fix it. Sure, it required more bullshit time travel, but who the fuck really cares at this point?

I’m normally in favor of overkill, especially when it involves boobs, beer, and fireworks. But when it comes to death in comics, even a grain of salt is too much. This story that has dragged way past the point of feeling meaningful is now throwing too many “Holy fuck!” moments into the mix. But these are moments that really feel hollow because it’s already been established in teasers for Secret Wars that Cyclops, Emma Frost, and pretty much everyone who gets slaughtered in this issue will come back. And the way it’s done has lost every bit of emotional depth it could’ve had. Now that time travel is being used again, it’s become more of an annoyance than a story.

And it’s not just time travel that makes this story feel like it’s resorting to cheat codes. Mathew Malloy has gone way past the point of being a tragic figure. Now he’s just a grossly overpowered damsel who might as well have his own Disney movie. Between his whining and his tendency to kill anyone who so much as touches him, he’s lost everything that once made him interesting and he wasn’t even that interesting to begin with. The only saving grace this story has is that Charles Xavier is acting like Charles fucking Xavier again. It sucks that we needed time travel to see this kind of Xavier again, but it helps that someone with a balanced mind is finally entering the story. It’s still dragging on way too fucking long and has no impact, but it’s helps keep this book from getting shitty on an epic level. Uncanny X-men #30 gets a 4 out of 10. There are a lot of flaws in this story, but the worst by far is that Iceman got what he wanted and we just can’t have that. Nuff said!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #1

The word “rectcon” is to comics what the C-word is to women. Few things will offend, enrage, and annoy comic book fans than a bullshit retcon, especially if they perceive it as part of some petty agenda. That’s why there are still many fans still pissed off about “One More Day” and “The Clone Saga.” There’s just no better way to shit all over years and years worth of stories than just up and saying, “Fuck it, we’re magically changing this shit.” That’s not to say all retcons are bad. Madelyne Pryor is a retcon that needed to happen. But the latest relaunch of Uncanny Avengers, stemming directly from the events of Avengers and X-men: AXIS, involves dealing with a retcon that has pissed more fans off than the Sopranos finale.

There’s nothing anyone from Marvel can say at this point to change the perception. By making it so Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are no longer Magneto’s children, they’re playing right into all the crackpot conspiracy theories that some fans have about the way Marvel treats mutants. They know like everyone else with an internet connection that Marvel doesn’t have the movie rights to X-men. Hell, they can’t even say the word “mutant” in their movies because Fox’s lawyers will pounce on that shit like a pot head pouncing on an unopened bag of potato chips. And since Joss Whedon wanted to use Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2, Marvel is all too willing to suck his dick. And since Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have a long history with the Avengers, there’s some legal wiggle-room that I’m sure involved a lot of dick-sucking.

Now it’s bled into the comics. Marvel has changed the history of two iconic characters whose legacy has been closely tied to Magneto for decades. It’s because of that legacy that their stories carry emotional weight. Then in AXIS, that legacy was shot to shit by the revelation that Magneto wasn’t their father. Sure, that’s a good thing to hear on Maury. It’s not quite as good to hear in this instance. Now ignoring for a moment this bullshit attempt to cash in on Age of Ultron, I’m not saying this concept still can’t be awesome. Uncanny Avengers #1 is going to make the effort regardless of how pissed off some fans are about AXIS. I’m just saying that it’s going to take a lot of awesome to mask the stench of a retcon like this.

To do this, an exotic setting helps in the same way exotic dancers give something extra to a lap dance. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are just as annoyed by this retcon as everyone and are trying to understand it. That takes them to an exceedingly exotic location called Counter-Earth. It’s basically another Earth crafted by the High Evolutionar. It orbits on the opposite side of the sun and it’s full of the kinds of creatures that would make cos-players feel right at home.

And while it is full of exotic creatures that look like Thundercats rejects, it still has the same problem with assholes who cheat at poker. I guess that’s one evolutionary achievement that must always be preserved. Quicksilver somehow believes playing a game of poker with a bunch of thugs will help him find out who his real father is. This pisses off his opponents, who see right through his bluff and know he’s after the High Evolutionary. What follows is a bar fight and a street chase that tries to be like a James Bond movie, but lacks the charm. Maybe Quicksilver should’ve had a martini and a cool car.

The Scarlet Witch eventually joins in the fight, going after the other thugs who don’t take a poker game quite as seriously. She can fuck with reality. She easily win a bar fight. But beyond the action and the chases, there is some nice inner monolog about the impact of this revelation. They don’t just brush it off. This shit really fucking bothers them and it should. They just found out Magneto isn’t their father. The only problem with this scene is that it feels like they skipped a couple of steps to reach it. That doesn’t make Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch getting shot in the end any less intriguing. It just feels a bit rushed.

The Maximoff twins have picked a shitty time to go on their little spirit quest. The rest of the Unity Squad is still in the process of unfucking themselves after the events of AXIS. Thor isn’t on the team anymore. Havok is still inverted. Wasp is probably going to sue the Avengers for inflicting too much emotional distress and will probably win. That leaves a team that’s supposed to bridge the gap between Avengers and X-men with only two fucking mutants on the team. And rather than deal with all the mind-fucks they endured with AXIS and the shit leading up to it, they have to deal with Maximoff family drama.

It’s not like this issue shouldn’t be addressed, but it still feels rushed since it jumped right into bar fights and street chases. The Unity Squad, despite having just been shaken up, decides to go after the twins because I guess the whole tension between Avengers and X-men will solve itself. As a concept, it’s as fucked as it sounds. But it still has merit. Rogue even sympathizes a little with the Maximoff twins in their effort to find their real father and she was among those who wanted to choke Wanda to death. It helps give the situation some depth as they follow their trail to Wundagore.

This is where Sabretooth makes his first contribution to the Unity Squad. No, that’s not a typo or a drunk text. Sabretooth is part of the Unity Squad now. He’s still inverted so it’s not quite as fucked up as it sounds. But for some reason, they think he’s fit to be part of this team. How anyone was convinced of that must’ve involved a heated debate and/or a really lucky hand at poker. Whatever went into this decision, we don’t get to see it. Again, it just rushes into the plot with the Maximoff twins. It’s not unexpected, but it still feels like it’s skipping way too many steps.

It does help that despite being inverted, they keep Sabretooth on a tight leash. They make it clear they don’t even trust an inverted version of him and he makes it clear it pisses him off. But he’s still able to track the Maximoff Twin’s scent into the High Evolutionary’s old hangout. This is where they find out that the twins took a trip to Counter-Earth. Now it’s just a matter of catching up with them and convincing them to settle for an appearance on Maury.

That’s not as hard as it seems, but not as easy as it should be. The portal is destroyed so Brother Voodoo has to teleport them to Counter Earth with help from Vision. It sounds like one of those feats that Reed Richards does in his sleep. It’s only fucked up when one of the High Evolutionary’s guards finally decides that trespassers are a bad thing and attack. He does this just in time to fuck up Brother Voodoo’s spells. And as anyone who has known the Scarlet Witch for more than a week knows, fucking up a spell can really ruin their day and even fuck up an entire species if they’re really unlucky.

This time, no genocides or inversions occur. The only real consequence seems to be that they arrived on Counter Earth at different locations. That’s not terribly fucked up. Hell, that’s basically like the mid-season finale of the Amazing Race. The problem is that it segments the story somewhat and there are only so many different directions I can follow while drunk.

Brother Voodoo apparently pissed off some of his ancestors by fucking up the spell. That means the Unity Squad’s return ticket is now MIA because their day just hasn’t been fucked up enough. Vision also arrives in the middle of a metropolis on Counter-Earth. He even takes the time to admire it as being much more high-tech and clean than anything he’s seen. I guess this is a subtle way of him saying he’s found one too many condom wrappers in a park. But then he’s drawn by another AI that looks just like him, but has boobs. I don’t know the complexity of Visions machinery. I don’t even claim to understand those who are sexually attracted to robots. I’ll just say that, as contrived as this is, I think Vision should go for it. Machine or not, good pussy is good pussy.

It’s not nearly as comfortable for Rogue, who winds up in the lab of some creepy old guy who looks like he should be hiding in a dumpster outside a Victoria’s Secret. He’s found a way to paralyze Rogue so he can do some experiments. He claims that mutation has the power to build new worlds for new creations. I think that might just be code for saying he wants her to try on the custom thong underwear he’s designed for her. He also throws in that he managed to erase Wonder Man from her mind. He says it in the same casual manner that I throw out empty beer bottles. Given how this plot was never resolved and completely lost during AXIS, it feels forced in addition to being creepy as hell.

Even so, Rogue still didn’t get the worst of it. Winding up in the lab of some creepy old guy is bad, but Captain America wound up in some fucked up garden that’s more giant spider web than garden. Fortunately for all those with arachnophobia, it isn’t full of giant spiders. It’s just full of tree creatures that drain the life from its victims. I still think it’s less horrifying than spiders. Captain America sees how these creatures feed on their prey and he’s not eager to be digested like a hot dog at the Superbowl. He doesn’t end up escaping, but he’s still Captain freakin’ America. He just wouldn’t be very American if he was defeated by a fucking tree.

I guess the only one who could say they were lucky with where they ended up was Sabretooth. He appeared in the middle of what looks like a nice park with a pristine fountain. He even describes how there are no foul scents anywhere. There’s not even a moldy ham sandwich rotting in a dumpster. The creatures don’t try to kill him, but they welcome him with the same way animal rights activists are welcomed at barbecue.

Since he’s inverted, his first instinct isn’t to kill every one of them and roast their bodies over an open flame. He just tries to get the fuck out of there and find someone who’s breath stinks of burnt steak. But before he can get too far, he runs into the High Evolutionary. So he ends up finding exactly who the Maximoff Twins were looking for and he wasn’t even looking. I guess this is how he learns to empathize with what Wolverine had to go through. This is the kind of randomly contrived shit that ruined so many weekends and drinking binges.

I admit it’s hard to make an objective judgment on this issue when the shit stains of the big retcon are present in every moment. That said, I can’t say that this book didn’t just gloss over it. Magneto not being Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s father is a big fucking deal and this issue treated it as such. The whole conflict emerges directly from Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch reacting to it. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that. Hell, it would’ve made the retcon even more egregious if they just shrugged it off like Peter Parker lost another job or pissed off another girlfriend. But in pursuing this story, it leaves a few shortcomings.

This issue really didn’t feel like it deserved to have a shiney new #1 on the cover. It felt like it could’ve easily been the next arc in the previous volume of Uncanny Avengers. The lineup changed, but it’s still following the same story. In addition, there’s a bit too much showing and not enough telling, even by kindergarten standards. There is some action, but there’s not a lot of explanation of depth to that action. There’s some “Oh fuck!” moments as well, but none that will cause anyone to spit out their coffee. In the end, this issue was solid yet unspectacular. It has promise, but nobody who was disappointed in the retcon is going to change their mind after reading this. Uncanny Avengers #1 gets a 6 out of 10. Maybe this is an issue that would’ve best been resolved by a stint on Maury Povich. Not saying that a trip to Counter Earth to fuck up the High Evolutionary isn’t a close second, but I just think that Eminem and Jerry Springer desensitized us to baby mama dramas at this point. Nuff said!

A Royal Struggle: Wonder Woman #38

The following is my review of Wonder Woman #38, which was posted on

There's a reason why the royal family is regular fodder for British tabloids. It's the same reason the Kim Kardashians and Donald Trumps of the world are fodder for American tabloids. There's this eerie fascination with high society, be it royal or rich. These people live in a world so different and so detached from reality that, like the wreckage of a derailed freight train, we just can't look away. It's not something most people are proud of, but it's an industry that still has a fertile market.

If Wonder Woman and Themyscira existed in real life, she would certainly have her share of tabloid headlines. These are the same publications that regularly report that aliens have placed chips in the brains of every President since Lincoln. But when real gods and goddesses are involved, it has a special level of intrigue. So much so that the affairs of Wonder Woman's world would probably require its own TV network. If Oprah has one, then Wonder Woman could certainly manage.

It's this world that has become so chaotic and so disorganized that it's several steps beyond a train wreck. And Wonder Woman, the feminine ideal who is supposed to be able to have it all in that classic feminist mentality, has been struggling to manage it. She's the God of War, the Queen of Themyscira, a member of the Justice League, and Superman's lover. That's a lot of responsibilities to juggle, even for a demigod. And in Wonder Woman #38, even the embodiment of feminine strength struggles with it.

The core of this part of Wonder Woman's story isn't built around one major struggle. It's a series of smaller struggles that are overwhelming her. It's death by a thousand paper-cuts rather than death by guillotine. Granted, a smaller struggle by her standard still involves being a god and dealing with infighting on an island of immortal warriors, but these struggles still come off as real and genuine. Her fears and insecurities manifest in a very real, albeit not entirely literal, way that makes her relatable in a way usually reserved for shows that rip-off Dawson's Creek.

It's jarring in some ways. Wonder Woman isn't supposed to be vulnerable. This is the same woman who can battle the entire Olympian pantheon on Monday and still have enough strength to fight off an invasion by Darkseid on Thursday. However, Wonder Woman really doesn't do much battling in this story. In fact, she does next to none. On paper, that sounds like it shouldn't make for a good Wonder Woman story. But in practice, it's still a story worth telling in the sense that it's probably the easiest story to overlook.

For Wonder Woman and the many characters like her, male and female, there plenty of stories about them fighting epic battles and winning with varying degrees of style. But there aren't quite as many stories about how they manage their lives in between battles. Wonder Woman battles the First Born, becomes both the God of War and Queen of the Amazons in the process, and somehow finds time to be a member of the Justice League in between. How does she cope with that? This story offers some insight into that question. In terms of an answer, at best it leaves room for improvement.

Wonder Woman confides in her insecurities, but she's not crippled by them. She's still Wonder Woman. She's not going to curl up into a fetal position and whine about it. She understands that being the God of War and being the Queen of the Amazons carries with it some heavy responsibilities. To her credit, she attempts to imbue her own values of compassion and understanding to these tasks. But in the same mold as "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," these ideal values clash with the same fodder that keep tabloids in business.

The gods of Olympus still plot against her. The Amazons she's supposed to rule don't care for all these new changes, as kind as they might be. Compassion and understanding just aren't enough in a world where people need to get upset about something and trolling message boards just aren't enough. Wonder Woman can do all the right things for all the right reasons, but it's still a struggle and that's what makes her story so compelling.

But as compelling as it is, the story itself moves along at a painfully slow place. In addition to not doing much fighting, the other ongoing plots surrounding the newly-introduced Donna Troy and the the Justice League don't make much progress. There is some, but it comes off more as a movie trailer at times. It helps that there is still plenty of character depth to compensate for this lack of progress. It's just not as balanced as it could be.

If this part of the story were a tabloid story, then it probably wouldn't get many people worked up. There aren't any scandalous affairs. There are no hookers or drugs involved. There aren't even any embarrassing photos of bad hangovers or botched botox. But there is a power struggle in both Themyscira and among the Olympians. Power struggles may not get the same headlines as scandalous affairs, but they do feed into the public's fascination. Even if the details are mostly teasers, there's still a story worth following in Wonder Woman #38.

Wonder Woman's humanity and vulnerabilities take center stage in this story, but there are still conflicts unfolding all around her. And if the ending is any hint, she'll have to share that stage with Donna Troy. The pressure is building for Wonder Woman. There's only so much that even the world's strongest woman can handle. At some point, she has to confront her limits. That doesn't make her less a feminine ideal. It just makes her someone who can keep fighting, despite tabloid-level scrutiny.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, January 23, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue #113: Weapon Plus Part 1 PREVIEW!

A new threat has emerged from an old foe in X-men Supreme. It's a threat that has attacked the X-men before and left some pretty deep scars. But this threat promises to leave a lot more than scars. It's a culmination of numerous plots that have been unfolding in this fanfiction series for a while now. There are always plenty of immediate threats for the X-men to confront, but there are also plenty of conflicts brewing behind the scenes. It's a common struggle the X-men have faced for years and X-men Supreme is no exception. And this particular struggle carries with it a few familiar names.

While Wolverine might be dead in the comics, his story is still unfolding in the world of X-men Supreme. Not long ago, he had hit rock bottom. He broke up with Storm. Dark revelations about his past emerged, courtesy of Lady Deathstrike. As his spirit lay wounded, he encountered a mysterious girl calling herself X-23 who he finds out is his clone. These struggles have put Wolverine in a difficult place, but he's been gradually fighting his way out of it. Then a new threat named Fantomex nearly ended that struggle. In his X-men Supreme debut, Fantomex made a major impression by nearly killing Wolverine and X-23, wounding and poisoning them to a point where even their healing factor couldn't save them. They fought to recover, but the battle is far from over. And this battle will create the next major arc for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

While Wolverine and the X-men have a long list of enemies, few enemies are as devious or subtle as Weapon X. They're not some monster they can attack. They're a weapons program intent on turning mutants into unthinking killing machines. The X-men got their first taste in the Revenge of Weapon X arc. While they were able to win that battle, Weapon X did not go away. It just went into hiding. Under the guidence of the demoted Colonel Wraith, they've been working with the likes of Reverend William Stryker and Graydon Creed to bring Weapon X out of the shadows. They're striking at a time when General Grimshaw's approach to mutants appears to be failing. And Fantomex might be the key to making Weapon X more dangerous than ever.

But who is Fantomex? What is his history in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series? More importantly, what is his future as he and Weapon X clash with the X-men? Those are all questions that will be addressed in this new arc, Weapon Plus. As always, I've prepared a preview that should demonstrate just how menacing Fantomex will be.

Lara was one of Jubilee’s close friends. She had been a runaway since she was 15, shortly after her mutant abilities manifested. She had the ability to form vivid illusions and she didn’t always use that ability very wisely. One such use involved blackmailing one of her teachers at school. This ended with her being expelled and kicked out of her house. She wandered aimlessly for a while until she found District X. She usually didn’t get caught up in Jubilee’s guard duties. But since she was breaking the rules again, she needed some form of backup. She also needed cover in the form of her illusions.
“Are you still up for this, Lara?” asked Jubilee as she stopped near a vacant curb, “I need you to make sure we’re as invisible as two teenage girls can be.”

“The best I can do is making it look like we’re a couple of flies. I wish I could make us completely invisible, but that’s not how my powers work,” said Lara, who had to lean over and catch her breath.

“I hope it’s enough. We don’t know what or who we’re dealing with here other than they’re fond of abducting innocent mutants.”

“You think it could be those Friends of Humanity goons again?”

“If it is, they’re in for another painful lesson,” said Jubilee strongly.

The young mutant made her way down the M-street. This was an area right along boarder between District X and the rest of New York City. It was not far from where their friend, Pixie, was abducted and beaten by the Friends of Humanity. It seemed like a good place to start, although Lara had reservations.

Jubilee was acting more reckless than usual. Lara couldn’t remember struggling this much to keep up with her. She had always been dedicated to protecting District X, especially after what happened with Alex Summers. However, this felt different. She gave the impression that there were other reasons for this behavior.

“Is it really just the Friends of Humanity you want to beat up on?” asked Lara, having to jog to stay close, “Or have you found some bizarre way to make this personal?”

“Our friends and neighbors are being abducted in broad daylight. It’s already personal,” said Jubilee as she carefully scanned the vacant areas of District X.

“I meant personal in another way. You’ve been pretty moody lately. Does this have something to do with Bobby Drake’s last visit?”

“Can we please not talk about Bobby Drake?” she groaned, “We’re kind of in the middle of a crises here.”

“All the more reason to bring it up. You’re usually not so aggressive when it comes to breaking the rules,” argued Lara, “He’s been bugging you lately. I get that. What I don’t get is why it’s getting to you.”

Jubilee ignored her remarks as she carefully scanned a string of buildings along the street. Most of these buildings were vacant or used for storage. She saw a few mutants inside huddling close together, waiting for the crisis to pass. Some even waved to her, but she didn’t wave back. Lara didn’t make her feel that friendly by bringing up Bobby Drake. They were still going out together in their usual capacity. But for some reason, that had become a problem.

“It used to be that he annoyed you whenever he wanted to get serious,” Lara went on, “I know your policy towards boyfriends. You’re not looking to get attached. For whatever reason, this has been a problem for Bobby.”

“This isn’t far from where the third mutant disappeared earlier today,” said Jubilee, still not acknowledging Lara’s words, “I’m not seeing any CSI style clues here.”

“Then something changed,” said Lara, “First, there was that incident when you last visited him, which left you with a nasty concussion.”

“More like two,” muttered Jubilee under her breath.

“So Bobby tries to make it up to you, but things stay rocky. He keeps giving off vibes that he’s not respecting your attachment policy. Then for some reason I can’t begin to understand, he got upset when you weren’t jealous about that Amara girl he told you about.”

“What? The one he saw naked?” she said, finally acknowledging Lara’s comments, “Big deal! He’s seen me naked too.”

“That’s where I get confused,” said Lara, “He comes clean, you’re okay with it, and he’s not even relieved. Did you send the wrong message or something? That maybe not being jealous hurt his feeling somehow?”

“He’s Bobby Drake. He’s known for juggling snowballs. Not for his critical thinking skills.”

“Be that as it may, it’s clearly frustrating you as much as it’s frustrating him. Why else would you two keep upsetting one another?”

Jubilee walked with less urgency. Lara’s words finally forced her to slow down. Even if this wasn’t time to discuss personal matters. But as she looked into more unlit buildings, she realized how distracted she was. Bobby Drake had done a number on her since they hooked up. Since he was an X-man, he set the bar pretty high. Meeting him on that same level was challenging in more ways than she expected.

“We’re letting this affect our work here, Lara, But I’ll admit it anyways. I’m messed up about Bobby,” she told her friend, “I’m starting to wonder if we’re hitting that proverbial wall. The guy wants more out of this relationship than I do. We aren’t seeing eye-to-eye anymore and it’s getting to me. Maybe after this is over, you can sit down with us and act as a mediator or something. Would you be willing to lend that kind of support?”

Jubilee expected Lara to refuse outright or run full speed in the opposite direction. She may have been a friend, but friendship had its limits. Yet surprisingly, she heard nothing. Rolling her eyes, Jubilee turned around.

“Okay, that’s probably asking too much, but I…”

The young mutant froze. As soon as she turned around, she realized why Lara hadn’t said anything. Somehow she had been so distracted that she didn’t realize an imposing figure in a white body suit sneak up on her, put her into a choke hold, and press his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t speak. It happened so quickly and silently that it could only have been pulled off by the same man who abducted those mutants.

“Whoa!” she gasped, “I don’t recall you being a resident of District X.”

“Pardon me for interrupting your conversation, Madam. But the mission of Weapon Plus takes precedent over your trivial life,” said a stern yet calm Fantomex.

“I’ll show you trivial!” spat Jubilee.

The young mutant fired off a blinding burst of energy blasts. It lit up a good portion of the street. However, it did no damage to Fantomex. With Lara King still firmly in his arms, he maneuvered out of the path of the attack so he was now behind the bewildered Jubilee. He moved so fast it almost seemed instantaneous. Even Lara was impressed.

“Your retaliation is as pathetic as your friend’s illusions,” said Fantomex, who easily maintained his grip on Lara despite her struggles, “With my enhanced senses, they were no more difficult to uncover than a typo on a child’s essay.”

“You sound pretty full of yourself. You’re definitely the kind of asshole who would abduct innocent mutants in the middle of the day,” spat Jubilee.

“There are no innocents. There are only targets. And you and your friend here happen to be one of them.”

There are so many characters throughout the history of X-men. As I've done with many of them, I intend to give Fantomex a unique story in this fanfiction series. His story will help build on the stories surrounding the many other characters I've been developing in X-men Supreme. I began this fanfiction series with the belief that the characters are the ones that drive the story and not the other way around. That's why I make such a big deal about requesting feedback from readers. I need to know if I'm doing these characters right. So please take the time to provide that feedback. Either post it in the issues or contact me directly. I'm always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!