Friday, December 19, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue #110: Supreme Justice is LIVE!

Throughout the history of X-men, there are plenty of noteworthy villains. Magneto, Sinister, and the Inner Circle are among the most famous. These characters have a lot of history. Whenever the X-men try to protect this world that hates and fears them, they often give them their greatest challenges. They often do this with a team of their own and many times, those teammates get lost in the spectacle. Throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, Magneto has employed a diverse team of mutants in his Brotherhood of Mutants. Some have grown beyond their role. Quicksilver, Havok, and the Scarlet Witch are probably the most notable. But some of the other supporting characters of these major villains rarely rise above their role. Well with X-men Supreme, I intend to do something different and it's something that will probably never be seen in the X-men comics, cartoons, or movies.

Of all the characters who rarely rise above a supporting role in X-men, Toad is the lowest rung of that ladder. He has often been the butt of many jokes, teased and taunted relentlessly for being among the weakest members of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Whenever they battle the X-men, he is usually the first to succumb. There are characters like this throughout comics and X-men has had plenty of them, but few are on the same level as Toad. So I've decided to make Toad the centerpiece of a new upheaval in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

It sounds crazy on paper, making Toad a bigger villain. But that's exactly why I want to do it. And I'm not going to make it a gimmick either. I've already set it up. Back during the Test Subject arc, Toad was arrested and put in prison for breaking into a Worthington Industries lab. But during the events of The Cambrian Explosion arc, he was exposed to a piece of the Cambrian. That exposure had a reaction. And now that reaction is about to manifest in a terrifying new way that will create a daunting new threat for the X-men. And at a time when justice is at a premium in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, the timing couldn't be better. In this issue, a new threat will be born and Toad, as in the same Toad that so many have cast off, will be the leader.

X-men Supreme Issue 110: Supreme Justice

I understand this is a bold and somewhat strange move for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I also understand it comes with risk. But I'm willing to take those risks if it gives X-men Supreme a more unique and special appeal. We've seen Marvel take risks in their stories. However, I think those risks have been restricted to killing major characters, bringing dead characters back to life, and turning some characters into villains. I find that too simplistic. I want to do something else with X-men Supreme. That's why it's so important for others to review and provide feedback for this fanfiction series. That way I know if these risks are paying off. So please, as I say every week, take the time to review and post feedback for X-men Supreme. Either post it in the issues or contact me directly. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #8

We've become so accustomed to the whole good vs. evil struggle that we're practically numb to it. If this concept were heroin, it would take all the dope in Southeast Asia to get us the least bit high. That's why we've seen stories try more and more fucked up methods to make that struggle compelling. They could just come up with new ideas entirely. Isn't that the kind of shit they get paid for anyways? But that might make too much sense. They would rather find new ways to tell the same old story that's been told since the days when shitting in a ditch was considered sufficient plumbing. As inane as that is, Avengers and X-men: AXIS has found a way to make it interesting.

Setting aside for a moment the Hulk-level rage of fans regarding the Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch revelation, this story has explored new territory by inverting the roles of heroes and villains. It's still the same struggle we've seen since the Bronze Age. It's just turned on its head in a way that has a lot of appeal, but not a lot of refinement. And as the story has progressed, it continues to intrigue, albeit never as much as it could. But it's getting close to the end and Avengers and X-men: AXIS #8 is supposed to set up the final showdown between inverted heroes and inverted villains. It's already a foregone conclusion that most of the inversions will be reversed and we'll be right back where we started, but there are also supposed to be significant ramifications. I don't usually count anything other than Emma Frost coming out as a lesbian as significant, but I'll try to temper my expectations accordingly. Whenever bullshit magic spells that undo continuity, family ties and marriages are involved, there's really no other way to deal with it in a sober mind.

But before these inversions are reversed, there is still an opportunity for these inverted characters to do something with lasting impact. Now these are usually the opportunities Marvel throws away in the same way Donald Trump throws away one dollar bills, but some characters do take advantage of it. And remarkably, the character that makes the most of their inversion is the one who's crazier than a toilet of Gary Busey's shit.

At the end of the previous issue, Apocalypse and the X-men were set to ignite the Gene Bomb, thereby wiping out all of those annoying homo sapians who only ever seemed to sic giant robots on them. Spider-Man, being unable to fix his marriage and his reputation, had no chance of fixing the bomb. But Carnage, despite probably dropping out of high school, is able to stop it with a heroic sacrifice that involves surrounding it with his symbiote body. It's a powerful moment, yet at no point does Carnage seem out of character. It's by far the most powerful example of just how far this inversion has gone. Carnage, a character defined by his inability to take the right meds, made a heroic sacrifice. Something about that should put a smile on everyone's face in a way only matched by a good fart joke.

This powerful moment disrupts Apocalypse and the X-men's plan and they deal with it in the same way hockey players deal with disagreements. They fight. That's really as deep as it gets. They don't try to fix the Gene Bomb. They don't try to implement a backup plan. That might actually require some strategy and that shit's for World of Warcraft players only it seems. All they do is keep fighting the Astonishing Avengers/Inverted Villains and rough up Spider-Man. It's as effective as it sounds.

That ineffectiveness is further enhanced when the inverted Avengers show up. They already committed to killing the X-men in the previous issue. Now they're just getting around to it, completely ignoring the inverted villains that beat them to the punch. It sounds like one of those battles that should actually be pretty awesome because it means Thor is getting another chance to take on Apocalypse. And we saw in Uncanny Avengers just how awesome that shit could be. However, this rematch is about as pay-per-view worthy as a David Hasselhoff concert. All he does is say he's got a fancy axe that can crack Apocalypse's armor and that's about it. That's like Clint Eastwood giving a physics lecture on how a gun works before he shoots it. It's not information any of us need to know in a situation like this.

The fighting quickly becomes painfully generic. Most of it focuses on Thor dealing with his overwhelming rage boner. First he fights Apocalypse. Then he fights the X-men. Then he fights Absorbing Man. Then he fights Loki and the Enchantress. There's no rhyme or rhythm do it. If it were a rap battle, he'd have already lost. At the very least, it does have some sense of impact. As generic as the action is here, it's still pretty fucking visceral. There's a real sense of damage and impact. That in and of itself is pretty satisfying, but nothing that can't be found in a God of War game or a Mission Impossible movie.

Eventually, there is some method to the mindless fighting, but not on the part of Thor. In the end it's Loki and the Enchantress that end up utilizing the most effective strategy. Let me say that again for the sake of emphasis. Loki and the Enchantress are actually the most competent ones here. While that does help emphasize the impact of the inversion, it's still pretty fucking pathetic. And it's not like their strategy is worthy of a Bond villain. All they do is piss Thor enough to chase them into a portal that takes him to the moon. I guess it would've made too much sense to send him to the other side of the universe. I only said that Loki and the Enchantress were the most competent. I didn't mean to imply that competence went far.

This is the biggest shortcoming of all this fighting. It might be visceral, but it's lacking in depth. It's focusing on all the wrong things. This battle was supposed to be about stopping the X-men. Why the fuck does so much attention need to be paid to Thor? I get that he's one of the most powerful members of the team, but it's not like he steals the show in the Mel Gibson sense. There are so many other conflicts going on. Focusing on this just seems misguided. It doesn't help that they don't say much either other than, "I'm pissed! You pissed me off! You must die!" That might work during a Call of Duty co-op mission, but not during a battle like this.

There's still plenty of action unfolding beyond the fight. It's just the kind of action that's way too fucking late. So much of this began when someone broke the Red Skull out of SHIELD custody. But at this point, who the fuck remembers that? Eventually, the old and un-inverted Steve Rogers remembers. I guess old age hasn't fucked up his memory just yet. He also gets help from Jarvis, who has also been MIA since the Red Skull disappeared. It's taken way too fucking long for him to finally contribute to the story again. I guess he just had to wait until that gene bomb went off. Anything else would've made too much sense.

And even though his appearance is overdue, he only reminds Steve Rogers what has already been made painfully clear. The inversion has fucked everybody up. At this point, we don't another reminder. We need more details about how they're going to actually do something about it. Nobody needs to set the mood at this point. If this were a romance novel, it would be too much even for the Twilight books. Their role in this battle might be late, but at least they're not completely forgotten. Given the ADHD nature of these stories, it at least shows there's something of actual depth to explore here.

That depth still gets lost with more fighting. At this point, the Astonishing Avengers are even less relevant than before. More attention is paid to the battle between the inverted heroes because I guess Avengers vs. X-men didn't make us all sick enough of hero vs. hero battles. Some contributions are squeezed in, like Mystique shifting into Charles Xavier to try and convince Apocalypse to stand down. Seriously, did she really think that shit was going to work? Apocalypse is about as reasonable as Sean Hannity. She might have had a better effect by flashing her boobs at him. That would've made the fighting a lot more entertaining to say the least, but I guess that also would've made too much sense while being too sexy. And there's only so much of that my penis can take.

The fighting in Latveria is decidedly less sexy. This was the site of Marvel's latest bullshit retcon. Nobody's marriage got sold to the devil, but Marvel's lawyers did find a way to squeeze in a not-so-subtle "Fuck you!" to Fox when they completely rewrote the Maximoff twins' history. The Scarlet Witch seems to be the only one happy about it. And I guess happiness for her means going into a more murderous rampage. There are no more crazy revelations or retcons here. There's not even a hint at what the Maximoff twins' new history entails. It's just Wanda Maximoff being really pissed off and trying to kill her family while her brother pleads with her. It's as interesting as it sounds, but at least it won't crash the message boards.

It's easy to forget that this latest retcon shit storm began when the Scarlet Witch came to Latveria hoping to royally fuck Dr. Doom up for all the shit he did to her. I guess family issues take priority. I can respect that to some extent. But in doing so, she basically forgot about Dr. Doom and even in his inverted form, that's pretty fucking dumb. Somehow, while the Scarlet Witch was busy bitching and moaning at Magneto, Dr. Doom found the time to strike a deal to resurrect Dr. Voodoo so he could possess the Scarlet Witch. I'm not saying it's smart, getting someone to possess an overpowered and pissed off young woman who can fuck reality with a sentence fragment. I'm just saying that the bar for competence and strategy is very low at this point.

Again, it says a lot that the most competent characters here are villains like Carnage and Dr. Doom. That helps give the whole inversion concept its power. And while it had an emotional impact with Carnage, this one just feels a bit more contrived. Somehow in the middle of this battle, Dr. Doom is able to step away and cut a deal with one of Marvel's many mystical characters? That's a gross oversight that I would usually expect of George W. Bush, but not the Scarlet Witch. Maybe I'm giving her too much credit in her inverted state, but it still makes for an overly contrived strategy.

At this point, any kind of strategy would help the ongoing battle between the inverted heroes and the inverted villains. It's still painfully disorganized in that's only focusing on a few characters at a time and not giving a better understanding of the scope and scale of the battle, but it does move the story forward. At this point, the inverted Avengers are fighting both the X-men and the inverted villains. It's hard to really keep track of anyone. It's like paintball match that gets way out of hand once someone decides to use dog piss instead of paint, but far less entertaining.

Despite this lack of strategy and scope, the story still moves forward. At one point, Captain America (still Sam Wilson) finds out from Iron Man that they have a lead on the Red Skull. They're just now finding out that the X-men don't have him. So Iron Man decides to occupy himself with the Summers brothers while Captain America goes after the asshole who started this whole shit storm. I won't say it feels forced, but it's still way fucking overdue.

He eventually finds the Red Skull, but he's not so red anymore and he's made a new friend in the overly aged Steve Rogers. Now he's sporting a dull, gray look. He's now about as intimidating as a dust bunny, but that may only hint at the effect of the inversion on him. It may or may not be Charles Xavier. It may or may not be a guy who just had his Nazi-style douche-baggery inverted. At the very least, this chaotic battle is returning back to the source of the chaos. Sure, shit got way off track for a while. And sure, the entire human race almost got wiped out by a bomb that they needed Carnage to stop. But unless it involves Snooki's period, being really late is still better than being glossed over.

In my vast experience with bar fights and drunken brawls, I understand there's a fine line between fighting because someone made a "Yo' mama's so fat joke" that hit too close to home and fighting for the sake of fighting. The only thing the latter accomplishes is pissing off probation officers and jacking up health insurance premiums. As much as I hated how Avengers vs. X-men played out, I'll at least say the fighting was fairly meaningful to varying degrees. Some of those degrees were more contrived than the plot to the last Ninja Turtles movie, but that's besides the point. With this comic, the fighting isn't wholly contrived. But it's hard to understand the reasoning behind it.

I won't say it's as pointless as that time I picked a fight with a statue of Stonewall Jackson. In my defense, the statue was giving me a dirty look. But there really was no strategy or intrigue with this battle. The Astonishing Avengers really didn't do jack shit. The inverted Avengers just jacked up more insurance rates by getting involved. There were some powerful moments with Carnage's sacrifice. But beyond that, this kind of fighting only moved the story along ever so slightly. Not much really came of it. There was nothing about it that was egregiously wrong and there were no ball-busting retcons either. It was just mindless violence. I'm not against that, provided it's in a Michael Bay movie or a football game. I just like it to have a bit more depth and trash talk in a comic. I give Avengers and X-men AXIS #8 a 5 out of 10. It's not terrible. It's not going to soak anyone's panties either. Maybe for the finale, the inverted Avengers and X-men should get some trash talking advice from Richard Sherman. Nuff said!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: All-New X-men #34

Anyone whoever says that it could always be worse is usually the kind of person who deserves a traumatic head injury from a piece of heavy mining equipment. These people can somehow take a shitty day and find a way to make it shittier by saying the least effective, most contrived excuse ever conjured by guilt-ridden hippie liberal types. Nobody in the history of mankind has ever been told, "it could be worse," and felt better about it. But in the case of the O5 X-men, I think it deserves an exception. This is one instance where there’s a real, tangible example right in front of them just how much shittier their lives could be.

There’s no question that the O5 X-men are not happy with their future. They have every right to be a little disappointed. One of them ended up dead. The other ended up crazy. The other became a complete douche-bag whose only contribution to anything involves making snow cones. But the shit the O5 X-men endure in their future is nothing compared to the steaming pile of whale diarrhea that is the Ultimate universe. They’ve been stuck in it for a few issues and already, they’re finding out just how much shittier it could be and they haven’t even learned about Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s little venture into incest. I doubt that would make them feel any better in the long run, but at least they can never deny that it really could be worse. And All-New X-men #34 only gives them even more reasons. They probably won’t be enough to make Beast or Iceman lesser douche-bags in the future, but at least they won’t have to live with the disturbing thought of Maximoff-style incest in their world.

In that context, the meeting between O5 Jean and the Ultimate version of the pseudo-X-men isn’t as awkward as it could’ve been. I say pseudo because the X-men in Ultimate have been fucked up in ways that even make Brett Ratner cringe. They’re an endangered, artificial species that shrugs off typical X-men activities that don’t involve Galactus incursions. So I guess that just makes the situation more awkward. It doesn’t help that Ultimate Iceman claims O5 Jean is hotter than her Ultimate version. To be fair, Ultimate Jean does not do a good job pulling off the Lara Croft look. But it still leads to an interesting exchange that becomes way more than awkward real fast.

That tends to always happen whenever O5 Jean Grey dares to read someone else’s mind. First, she read Beast’s mind, which had to have been plenty disturbing with all the fantasies of how he would disembowel Cyclops. Now, she’s reading her Ultimate version’s mind in telepathic montage that’s not quite as epic, but still conveys all the right emotions. It essentially gives O5 Jean Grey a crash course in how fucked the Ultimate Universe is and how it fucked her up. And she didn’t even needed to die this time. So when both she and her Ultimate counterpart faint, it’s perfectly understandable. I’m just surprised they didn’t violently throw up first.

It’s a disturbing moment for both of them, but one that makes me feel like I’m covered in baby kittens. This is the kind of encounter I often hope for, but never see in comics. O5 Jean and Ultimate Jean have a lot they can learn from each other. And I’m not just talking about all the reasons why boning Wolverine is a bad idea. Both of these characters were once so loving, charismatic, and powerful. Then they were badly screwed over in ways I’m too stoned to describe. This exchange might not make the extent of such screwing any less egregious, but it should give them some badly needed perspective.

As much as O5 Jean needs it, I would argue Ultimate Jean needs it more. Few character got screwed over worse in Ultimate than she did and not from anything that happened to her in a major story. Her character was just so utterly butchered and fucked that nobody would think that she was once this caring, outgoing young woman that always found a reason to smile. And instead of dealing with it, she became a raging psychopath who tried to murder all her friends. Then for some fucked up reason that was never explained, they shrugged it off and let her join them. It’s way more fucked up than a drunk like me can ever describe. So for her to finally get a meaningful dose of emotion is really refreshing. It may be way too fucking late, but it’s still a great moment.

It’s not quite as emotional for O5 Iceman, who has been fighting one of Mole Man’s monsters in the streets of Atlanta since he arrived. He still doesn’t know he’s in a world way more fucked than one where Kim Kardashian is still relevant, which is quite a feat. He just battles this monster in a standard, yet still satisfying battle. He doesn’t do anything too spectacular. His powers are somewhat hindered by the Atlanta heat. Anybody who ever went streaking in the middle of summer on a cocaine binge knows what I’m talking about.

O5 Iceman still finds a way to have a conversation with the creature. The creature doesn’t really talk back, but for once he does more than just whine and make shitty jokes. He even points out how he’s changed the least since getting stuck in a shitty future. He didn’t even get a school named after him. The best he did was become some Ice Wizard in the future and bone Kitty Pryde. It’s not much, but I don’t think he should be complaining too much.

He eventually does defeat Mole Man’s monster. Again, it’s not all that epic, but it’s still plenty satisfying. Not many characters can say that in the Ultimate Universe these days who aren’t named Miles Morales. So what’s his reward for such a feat? He gets arrested by the cops. He’s a minority in a big city. In wake of recent tragedies, I’d say that’s painfully accurate. O5 Iceman is the lucky one. He puts his hands up and he doesn’t get shot. There’s no joke I can make about this situation. Police brutality is a big fucking deal these days and I’m the asshole who complains mostly about parking tickets. But as lucky as he is, O5 Iceman still a long ways away from knowing just how fucked he is.

X-23 and O5 Angel are a bit farther along. They managed to find the hidden Weapon X facility in Canada that they thought was their school. Turns out it’s just a typical Weapon X facility, complete with blood stains and shit-filled pants. Hillbilly Wolverine, also known as Jimmy Hudson, is with them. He’s the one that reveals another shitty detail of the Ultimate universe. Mutants aren’t a product of evolution. They’re a failed science experiment. Being a failed science experiment herself, X-23 knows how much that sucks. Being a rich pretty boy with wings, O5 Angel is just deadpanned.

It leads X-23 to remember that it was some random new mutant that O5 Beast thought was PMSing who brought them to this world. Now they have even more incentive to find her and get the fuck out of this universe. Hillbilly Wolverine is understandably confused. He inherited Wolverine’s claws and healing, but he didn’t get his intuition or brains. He just stands around like a kid watching a couple of dogs fuck. It’s awkward, but I can’t say it’s not accurate.

Just learning they’re in another universe is hard enough, but Dr. Doom has to make it even more uncomfortable for O5 Beast. Few characters can make Ultimate a shittier place. Dr. Doom is at the top of a very short list and he’s genuinely intrigued about the world O5 Beast comes from. He now knows some random new mutant brought them to the Ultimate Universe and Dr. Doom went so far as to feed O5 Beast truth serum to make sure he’s not fucking with him. If only the CIA was so merciful.

Dr. Doom is now learning a great deal about mutants, X-men, and a world where they’re not completely fucked. He also learns how O5 Beast is in love with Jean Grey and how she no longer gives two licks of a ferrets asshole about his emotions. Considering the bullshit he pulled in X-men: Battle of the Atom and its aftermath, I think she’s more than justified. She would rather put adult Cyclops in awkward positions. For anyone sick to their stomach at how this pairing even became possible, it’s very satisfying to see him so humiliated. I know I give Beast a hard time on this blog, but until he stops giving me reasons, I’m going to enjoy scenes like this. And Dr. Doom is sure to enjoy it as well.

The only problem is we don’t even get a clue as to what he has planned. The Ultimate version of Dr. Doom is a bit more of an enigma compared to his 616 counterpart and not just because had fucking goat legs for a while. He might be just as eager as the O5 to ditch this shitty world. It’s just no fun living in a world where Reed Richards is the bigger asshole.

I think it’s safe to say O5 Beast is now the most fucked of the whole team. O5 Iceman would be a close second, now that he’s been arrested for the horrible crime of stopping a rampaging monster in the middle of a busy city street. That’s not to say his arrest is nothing more than another exercise in police being assholes. They end up revealing to him, albeit unintentionally, that he’s not in the same world he remembers. They bring up that time when the X-men were on magazine covers back in an era when Ultimate didn’t suck elephant balls. It doesn’t just give O5 Iceman a clue. It gives him a chance to re-charge his ice powers in the nice air-conditioning of a squad car, which he uses to break out. He doesn’t even need to call an overpriced lawyer. He just ditches them. I’d say, leaves them unharmed, and fucks up their car. Seeing has how they arrested him for bullshit reasons, I’d say this makes them even.

So now everyone in the O5 X-men is up to speed in terms of being in a shitty alternate universe. Now they have to actually deal with that shit. It’s a step that’s often skipped in a story like this, but it’s not skipped with O5 Jean Grey. When she wakes up, she’s in the Cerebro chamber with her Ultimate counterpart. They then have another moment, but this time it doesn’t overwhelm them to the point of fainting.

It’s actually a lot more meaningful than that. They get a chance to point out just how difference their lives are and yet they’re still the same person. It’s one of those fucked up concepts that still brings out all the right emotions, so much so that it inspires another hug. O5 Jean has needed more than her share since All-New X-men began. This one might be the best yet, awkwardness aside. And it’s Ultimate Jean who needs it most. She even admits that O5 Jean is better at being Jean Grey than she was. And she’s the younger one. It’s a pretty powerful moment and one that almost makes revisiting the rotting corpse that is Ultimate Marvel worth it. Almost being the key word there.

Once the hugs are out of the way, Ultimate Jean helps O5 Jean activate Cerebro so she can find the mutant who brought them to this epic fail of an alternate universe. She even throws in a little tidbit about Miles Morales being in love with her. I guess she’s used to that at this point with teenage boys. But when she starts scanning, it doesn’t take long for her to find something. Once again, it’s pretty jarring. But we don’t even get a hint at what it might be. Is it Dr. Doom? Is it the mutant? Is it another Kardashian photo shoot? We have no fucking clue. Now I’m the one who needs a hug.

As five-year-olds, we all have to learn very quickly how to deal with not getting what we hoped for. There are too many cases where I go into a movie expecting to see Jennifer Lawrence’s naked ass, but I only end up seeing Hugh Jackman’s. Not to say that I think Hugh Jackman has an ugly ass. Most straight women would strongly disagree. It’s just not what I was hoping to see. But this issue gave me a big part of what I hoped to see in this crossover between 616 and it’s shit-stained counterpart. The story moved forward, but not by too much. Plenty of emotions emerged, but only to a point. But it was still more than enough to be awesome. Anything that results in Jean Grey giving someone (even herself) a hug has to be awesome to some extent.

This issue had action, heart, and attitude in so many right places. It’s only major shortcoming was the lack of details and not just because the ending was too damn abrupt. We didn’t even get a hint at what O5 Jean Grey saw. We didn’t get a hint at what Dr. Doom was planning. But it’s not like these details were completely ignored or thrown away. The story just got cut off before it could get to them. And so long as my weed supply holds, I’m willing to be patient. I give All-New X-men #34 an 8 out of 10. If nothing else, this whole series is showing that Jean Grey has yet another mutation that involves wanting to hug people. I suppose there are way worse powers she could have. I guess she needs lots of hugs after hearing the thoughts of Hank McCoy and Wolverine. They may not be the overtly pornographic hugs I’m used to seeing, but they still put a smile on my face and a boner in my pants for all the right reasons. Nuff said!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grading on a Curve: Spider-Man and the X-men #1

The following is my review of Spider-Man and the X-men #1, which was posted on

Teachers are heroes in their own right. It really takes superhuman courage to walk into a class room and attempt to educate a bunch of kids who would rather have their wisdom teeth pulled than learn algebra. Give those kids mutant powers and suddenly teachers have to worry about more than spitballs, cheating, and texting during class. Concepts like responsibility and respect do not yet fully compute in an undeveloped mind. It just isn’t as cool to them as texting each other pictures of pets and body parts.

Few characters understand the importance of responsibility like Spider-Man. His strength and personality is built around responsibility almost as much as it’s build around his wise-cracking. After what happened to his uncle, he had to build it the hard way. In that respect he’s in a unique position to teach kids about responsibility. But it’s one thing to teach under-privileged kids in a failing public school this lesson. It’s quite another to teach that lesson to the students of the Jean Grey Institute, whose idea of responsibility is restricted to cleaning up the Danger Room and staying away from Wolverine’s liquor cabinet.

This is exactly what Spider-Man attempts in Spider-Man and the X-men #1. As one of Wolverine’s final requests prior to his death, he’s taken it upon himself to honor his fallen friend by contributing to the school he founded. It’s an entirely noble and responsible endeavor. It’s also one that even involves skills with which he has experience, having been a teacher at one point. It all sounds so good on paper. Then again, communism sounded good on paper as well. Spider-Man’s efforts to work with the X-men didn’t result in another Russian Revolution, but the results left room for improvement to say the least.

From the beginning, it’s painfully clear that Spider-Man does not get along with the rest of the X-men. He arrives at the Jean Grey Institute like someone who got invited to a frat party by mistake. He also does little to make it less awkward, showing the social skills of Mormon at a strip club. He is able to connect with some of the other X-men he’s teamed up with before, like Iceman and Firestar. But as a whole, Spider-Man and the X-men do not get along. They’re like Windows and Mac users. They both do similar things, minus commercials starring Justin Long. They struggle to interface, even though their goals are the same.

This sets up a unique yet engaging tone for the story. It’s harsh and crass in revealing how little the X-men have in common with Spider-Man, but that’s exactly what helps give it its appeal. Just because the X-men and Spider-Man consider themselves heroes doesn’t automatically mean they get along. That’s not to say they clash like nitro and glycerin. They just deal with very different circumstances and go about their business in a very different way. They can still coordinate well enough to stop some lesser challenge like Unus the Untouchable. But teaching young mutants the value of responsibility? That’s right up there with Apocalypse and an army of Sentinels.

It makes for a messy, but entertaining narrative. Spider-Man tries to be one of those teachers that will later be played by Edward James Olmos, attempting to connect with a bunch of young mutants who are already alienated from a world that sees them as freaks. He struggles at first because he tries to do things his way, as though dealing with students who have 50 eyes and shark fins respond the same way. But he eventually does adapt, attempting to convey his message to these young mutants in a way they understand. Unfortunately for him, that way involves teaching while fighting killer robots in the danger room, but it helps add to the entertainment value.

And Spider-Man’s message is one that’s worth conveying. He points out that these young mutants spend so much time learning to fight and survive, but they don’t put that much time into actually using their powers responsibly. It’s not an unfair criticism to them and the X-men as a whole. In their defense, they have been facing extinction, extermination, and a string of bad movies. But it’s still a valid point. They wouldn’t have to fight so hard to survive if they showed they could do more than just fight. It sounds like one of those ideas that makes too much sense, like raising the minimum wage or giving free school lunches to poor children.

The strength of this message, along with the general dysfunction that surrounds these young mutants, helps create a nice blend of depth and fun. There are serious issues at hand in this story. There are also plenty of entertaining moments that involve deranged mutants, killer robot holograms, and mischievous bamfs. It creates an engaging story, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If it were an actress, it would be right up there with Jennifer Lawrence.

However, that potent blend becomes somewhat messy down the line. It’s not that the story starts getting overly serious. It just ends up trying to hide these issues, but does a very poor job of it. Instead of Spider-Man trying to teach these students, it devolves into another conflict involving dinosaur humanoids and kidnapping. It’s really not that far away from being a blatant rip-off of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And because of that, the underlying message Spider-Man is trying to convey gets lost.

There are a lot of strengths to build on with this narrative. Spider-Man and the X-men #1 establishes an awkward set of circumstances, but in a wonderfully entertaining way. It just goes off-track before it can develop into something truly cohesive. It still has the potential to become a more polished product that blends all these themes. It just needs to find a better way to do so without resorting to killer dinosaurs.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, December 12, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue #110: Supreme Justice PREVIEW!

What do the X-men do after they stop a threat like Sinister and Selene? How do the X-men even process confronting such an overwhelming danger that involves magic, lost cities, and ancient relics? These are questions the X-men often have to answer in the comics and cartoons as well whenever they take on mystical foes. There are no easy answers, but these are the kinds of challenges the X-men thrust themselves into as heroes. In X-men Supreme, that role has evolved as the events of this fanfiction series create new situations. The events of Civilization No Longer Lost are now behind them. The X-men must now move forward and that involves dealing with issues that don't pertain to magic.

No matter what or who the X-men face, the core of their mission always comes back to dealing with human/mutant conflicts. It's like an anchor of sorts, a mission that keeps the X-men tied to a certain set of core principles. I've tried to maintain those principles in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, but I haven't made it easy on the X-men. As part of their ongoing effort to improve human/mutant relations, the X-men have been working with General Nathan Grimshaw and President Robert Kelly on forging a new peace. The end of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear created a framework for this peace, albeit a fragile one. While it has had numerous benefits, it's still a work-in-progress.

Taking on Sinister and Selene might have been daunting, but the threats they pose are often tangible and easy to stab with adamantium claws. Taking on the injustices committed against mutants is a lot harder to battle. Professor Xavier has not shied away from that and neither have his X-men. Having survived their clash in Nova Roma, it's important to remember that no amount of magic can make these injustices disappear. Rampant injustice is what will trigger the next conflict. The X-men understand this and so do men like General Grimshaw. That's what the X-men will have to confront next and it may already be too late. I've prepared an extended preview that should reveal a terrifying new challenge to mutant justice.

‘You’ve waited a long time, Mort. You’ve always been everybody’s whipping boy. You were scrawny, ugly, and weak. Nothing more than a deformed street punk. That all changes now. A new power is calling you. Will you accept the charges?’

Mortimer Toyenbee stood still as a statue, staring at the thick confinement door in front of him. In his solitary cell there was little to look at. He had a small bed to his left with a toilet/sink right next to it in a cell that could barely qualify as a closet. There were no windows, only a pale fluorescent light above him. A few moments ago that light started flickering, but it wasn’t just shoddy wiring. He could feel something coming. The very forces of nature were reaching out to him and he was reaching back.

A smile never left his face as he stood patiently. Outside he could hear some panicked guards running back and forth. They had no idea what was about to happen to them. They were in for quite a shock.

It started in his toilet. The water unexpectedly rose and bubbled, turning greenish brown in the process. As it rose, a number of reptilian creatures poured out. They included snakes, frogs, toads, and lizards. They all flowed with the murky water, overflowing from the toilet and rapidly accumulating into the cell. Toad didn’t panic for a second. He remained perfectly still, letting the waters gradually submerge him. As they rose a brownish green scum formed around him, covering his body and forming a strange brownish shell.

“Come to me! I’m ready!” he proclaimed.

The water from the toilet poured in more rapidly. It poured in so fast the water rose to a depth of nearly four feet. By then the lizards, frogs, snakes, and toads completely surrounded the thick shell that took up almost the entire chamber. It was like a cocoon of sorts. Every creature and organism was drawn to it. And within this exotic environment, Mortimer Toyenbee underwent a remarkable transformation.


As the young mutant seethed within the cocoon the water level kept rising. It was now nearly seven feet in height. At this level the pressure started to strain the heavy cell door meant to keep Toad locked inside. For the guards outside, it was an ominous sight.

“What the hell is going on in there? Is Toad trying to drown himself?” exclaimed one of the guards.

“To hell with Toad!” said another guard, “We need to get the hell out of this wing before…”

Both guards were quickly distracted by a loud bang on Toad’s cell door. It was so loud and so forceful that the heavy barrier warped under the force. It looked like someone was using a battering ram, trying to force the door of its heavy hinges. As it warped, streams of swampy water poured out. The two guards watched, holding their guns tenuously in preparation for whatever was trying to get out of that cell.

“Refresh my memory. Toad was supposed to be the weakest member of Magneto’s crew, right?” said the guard nervously.

Before the other guard could answer, the door was literally blown off the hinges with extreme force. The minute it failed, a tsunami of water poured out and washed the two guards down the hall as if they were caught into treacherous river rapids.

“AUUUUGGGGHHHH!” they cried out as they struggled feebly against the current.

Once the water had finished pouring out of the cell, a new figure emerged. It was Toad, but not the same Toad those men were referring to.

“No…not anymore,” proclaimed Toad in a stronger voice, “I’ve evolved beyond weakness,”

He was truly a new man. Standing in the ruins of his cell, Toad had a new body that was a far cry from his previous form. He had grown over a foot taller, now towering at six-and-a-half feet tall. His once lanky build was now bulging with muscles that were on par with a professional athlete. In addition, his skin tone was now a darker shade of green and a lot more toned. He no longer bore the putrid, disgusting imperfections that made him so hideous to others. This toned skin extended to his face, which looked a bit more human now despite being shrouded by his long dark hair. But behind that human look, there was a man who evolved beyond his humanity into something so much greater.

The new Toad casually stepped out of his cell, holding in his hand a mangled power suppressing collar that was ripped off during his transformation. These humans thought they could contain him. He was going to prove them wrong in a way that was going to hurt.

“My makeover is complete,” he grinned, cracking his knuckles in anticipation, “Magneto failed to embrace this evolution. Guess it’s up to me to lead the charge now. And I know just where to begin.”

In addition, I have another exciting update from X-men Supreme's newest artist, Mack. He's been hard at work bringing the most iconic moments in X-men Supreme Issue 68: The Phoenix Saga Part 6 to life and he's once again made an awesome contribution. He's submitted the second panel of that moment, detailing the ghastly turning point where Jean Grey's inability to control the Phoenix Force hurt the man she loves. It's a great piece and one Mack did an excellent job on. Enjoy!

X-men Supreme Official Panels

We're about to enter the next phase of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Turths. I've spent a good chunk of this part of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series setting up a world of new challenges for the X-men to deal with. Those challenges are about to lead them into a clash that will completely reshape the world of X-men Supreme. The ramifications of what they've done and the choices they've made will drive this conflict. Characters will be changed. Prices will be paid. Hearts will be broken. As I develop this conflict, it's very important that readers take time to provide feedback for X-men Supreme. I need to know if I'm doing this right and making it awesome. Either contact me or post your comments directly in the issue. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!