Tuesday, March 29, 2011

X-POSITION: Marjorie Liu & Daniel Way - My Questions Asked!

I know I've been doing a lot of ranting lately, comparing Hope Summers (aka Jean Ripoff) to no fewer than fifteen different kinds of diarrhea. I apologize to those who are sick of hearing my graphic depictions of the entrails I want Jean ripoff's brains to read once Bishop comes back from the future and gives her a Columbian neck-tie complete with her tongue ripped out through her throat. While I may not be done spitting on her eventual grave, there are still plenty of X-books that I enjoy reading. X-23 by Marjorie Liu is one of them. This past week she and Daniel Way were the subject of CBR's X-POSITION.

X-POSITION: Marjorie Liu & Daniel Way

Now I've had little to complain about with X-23. Marjorie Liu has taken the character a long way in only seven short issues. X-23 has been a science experiment, a messed up teenage girl, an X-man, a member of X-Force, and a whole host of other problems that make her just slightly less crazy than the girls I dated in high school. X-23 still has plenty awesome to offer as recent stories have set the stage for an eventual clash with Daken, Wolverine's metrosexual son who makes Lady Gaga look modest. I'm looking forward to seeing X-23 give Daken the kind of torment that doesn't give him a boner. As such I submitted some questions for the X-POSITION and they ended up getting asked.

MarvelMaster616 is also curious about Weapon X and some of Laura's conditioning. What can you tell him about the following:

1) Since the beginning of the "X-23" series, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on Laura being a teenage girl and not just a mutant or a product of Weapon X. Now that she's trying to find her own way, what exactly would you say she's looking for? Does she have any idea? Or is that something she's still trying to figure out?

Liu: I don't think she really knows what she's looking for. Who does? She's always lived in a very controlled environment. Very regulated and structured. And then, the first time she was on her own, it was a disaster. She killed people, became a prostitute -- I mean, come on. This kid has had a rough life.

Now she's a little older, maybe a little wiser and she wants to know who she is -- because she doesn't know. Is she just a killer? Is that all she's good for? Can she move past her conditioning and be something more? Or is it enough for her to be a soldier? What makes her happy? 

2) In the second issue of "X-23," there's a moment where Logan is talking to Laura about him being a father figure to her and her being a daughter. Is this relationship dynamic going to come back up once their paths cross again? The ‘Hellverine' arc sort of derailed it.

Liu: You bet it's coming back. I'll also be exploring Wolverine's double-standard when it comes to his care of Jubilee versus X-23. Actually, I'll sort of be hammering it over the head. I'm not very subtle, sometimes.  

3) Why do you think X-23 and Daken are so different despite being the offspring of Wolverine?

Liu: That's a hard one. Both were raised in radically different environments. Clearly, I think X-23 had a more difficult life than Daken and yet, she's not a sociopath. She is, however, emotionally shut down -- and can be a stone-cold killer. If she had been raised like Daken? Who knows?

Way: Here's the easy, non-academic answer: different creators. Few people know this, but my inspiration for Daken's characterization was actually the song "We're Only Gonna Die" by Bad Religion.

Overall, I've little material with which to make poop jokes this time around. Marjorie Liu seems to have a solid handle on X-23. She's not approaching this series the same way as her previous series. She's basically guiding X-23 down a very uncertain path and providing plenty of awesome along the way. The prospect of X-23 meeting up with Wolverine and a non-Twilight vampire in Jubilee adds even more potential for gut busting awesome. Yet I would still argue that about a quarter of the girls in my high school graduating class went through less insanity.

While the other X-books give me so many reasons to shove my head into a deep fryer, X-23 offers a great deal of comfort in that it's a solid and consistent book that tells the story about a great character who is still coming into her own. With plenty of events to look forward to in the near future, I'll definitely be tracking this comic in my blog and in my LSD trips! Nuff said.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wolverine and Jubilee #3 - Recovering But Not Fully

I don't take too much pride in being bitter. That's like taking pride in body odor. No matter how proud you are, it still stinks. I've tried to get past my bitterness towards Marvel over the past few weeks. I've tried to not let it effect my reviews. I don't claim to be unbias, but I try to be honest even when it fucks up the message. However, there are times when being embittered or bias doesn't mean dick.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Wolverine and Jubilee #2. I had high hopes for this comic in the same way America had high hopes that a black President would make everything better. Well the country is still fat, lazy, and governed by health care lobbyists. In the same way, my hopes for this comic crashed quicker than Dick Cheny's approval rating. After setting up a great story in the first issue, Wolverine and Jubilee #2 was about as entertaining as watching reruns of Ronald Reagan's funeral. The pacing was off, the characterization was off, and the overall organization of the story was more chaotic than a hotel floor rented out by Guns N' Roses (before Axel got fat). It was an abysmal book that took a steaming dump over the potential this series once had.

Despite that pile of shit still stinking up the series, I'm giving Wolverine and Jubilee #3 a chance. As bad as the last issue was, it didn't ruin the series like an Ultimatum or One More Day. It just fell flat on it's face into a pile of elephant shit and needs a quick shower along with a few shots of anti-biotics to get going again. The last issue ended with Jubilee meeting up with the mysterious vampire who dumped her in a crate full of dead bodies back in Oakland (or maybe it was where the Raiders practice, it really wasn't clear). She looks a bit like Segorney Weaver after a botched botox treatment, but she dresses like Emma Frost so that balances things out. After taking down an army of undead, you would think Jubilee would be emboldened. But no. This woman shows up and is dragging her around like a freshly neutered dog. When she confronts Wolverine, he's understandably pissed even though he was a total asshole to Jubilee in the last issue.

It doesn't turn into a bloody battle as one might expect in a comic with Wolverine. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how much violence gives you a boner. Instead, the woman taunts her and uses Jubilee to get to him. Jubilee actually asks Wolverine to kill her. It's actually a pretty powerful moment. It reflects on how Jubilee has been dependent on everybody around her to remain in control. First she was locked up in the brig on Utopia. Then she had to rely on Wolverine's blood to prevent herself from acting like a pervert in a panty factory. She has no control and that's no way to live. She claims this woman helped her and Wolverine claims she's better off with her head severed. Wolverine doesn't buy it and in response, the woman does something to Jubilee.

I wish I could be more descriptive, but there's no poop or dick joke to make of it. The woman takes this glowing ring and shoves it into Jubilee. It sounds like the premise of a lesbian porno flick, but that's what happens. Then Jubilee completely disappears and there's not much clue as to what happened. Jubilee is still alive according to the vampire, but she's basically stuck in some dark realm where Pat Robertson and Ted Haggard probably keep their gay porno stash.

Wolverine is five kinds of pissed now. He's aching to kill this woman in the same way Kim Jong Ill aches to bathe in the tears of American babies. She's able to save her head amongst other things by revealing that she was never after Jubilee. She was merely bait. She wanted to use her to get to Wolverine. So that means this Wolverine and Jubilee comic is becoming another Wolverine story. Gee, you would think a guy with two solo series would have enough ink for a plot involving a crazy vampire chick. It's nothing too elaborate. She wants him to retrieve a package that's surrounded in an area with enough radiation to kill an army of cockroaches. It's basically the kind of shit Wolverine does between benders and hangovers.

While this is unfolding, there's a new development with X-men that don't have claws coming out of their hands or get turned into vampires when their powers are taken away. Rockslide, Pixie, and Armor are all watching TV (Jeopardy from the looks of it). So it's an oversized monster and two under-aged girls. That's the premise of one too many Japanese anime pornos. There's no tentacle monster here unfortunately. What happens here stems from what happened between Rockslide and Jubilee in the first issue. Rockslide seemed to want to bone (or stone in his case) Jubilee, but she wasn't in the mood. Then Wolverine asked him to crush the necklace that was around Jubilee's neck when he found her in a crate of dead bodies. That necklace left a mark on his hand and now he's curious. Maybe he thinks it'll give him a way to hook up with Jubilee, but it's the first time in this series that there's some sense of coherence between this and the previous issues. It's more than a little overdue, but it helps make it seem as though this series never fell of a cliff like it did with the last issue.

Back with Wolverine, who can't help but hog 9/10ths of the spotlight in every X-men comic, he's descending into a radiation filled cavern in the ashes of Chernobyl. Now I'm not going to make a joke about Japan here, but am I the only one that finds it a little ominous that this comic is using a plot involving a nuclear disaster when one has been unfolding overseas for the past few weeks? The story for this series was laid out months ago as most comics are. Could it be that Marvel has real psychics working for them? If so they would be better off employing their talents in Vegas than telling stories about subjects that still make people more queasy than a vegetarian in a slaughter house.

In the cavern, Wolverine discovers that there's enough radiation to sterilize Courtney Love's vibrator. He also discovers that the crazy vampire chick who still hasn't been given a name yet had sent normal humans into this cavern. As expected, they dropped dead faster than Larry King's sex appeal. It leaves readers to wonder why the hell anyone, human or vampire, would think sending a bunch of humans into a place like Chernobyl would be anything but a waste of time. Either she slept through physics class or just got her kicks watching men go into a cave and never coming back. It sounds like another gay metaphor, but mixed with radiation I can't make a very funny joke about that.

Back with Rockslide, his little side-task brings him back to the port of Oakland. Except this time, there's a dry cleaners. It's as confusing as it sounds. It could be an illusion. It could be misdirection. Or Rockslide could be high. Or it could be a combination of all three. He's understandably confused and starts complaining to the woman at the counter, who has the charm of a Nigerian salesman. It's really not clear what's going on, but at least there's a sense of mystery as opposed to the utter randomness of the previous issue. Plus, it's the first time Rockslide has had any meaningful story according to the part of my brain that hasn't been destroyed with hallucinogens yet. So Rockslide fans (all six of you) should be happy.

Then we finally revisit Jubilee. Her name is on the title of the comic after all. She's been falling for half the book in some dark hole (again, no room for a gay joke) and finally she hits the ground. Now falling for that long usually means she would end up as a gooey splat, but keep in mind she's a vampire. She's more durable than your average teenager now, at least physically. She would probably still go on a rampage if she went back to high school and someone made a snide comment about her hair.

Once she lands, she's able to call Wolverine on her cell phone. Seriously, what service does she have? My cell phone goes dark when I pass over a large tree. And how did her cell phone survive the fall? I've seen iphones shatter after being dropped onto a feather pillow. It's a little contrived for anyone who has ever had a shitty cell phone, but if that weren't disturbing enough Jubilee finds out she's in a strange doll-house like setting. For a girl that outgrew doll houses a few bra sizes ago, it's either a nightmare or a cruel joke orchestrated by Ashton Kutcher.

Her finally reaching solid ground coincides with Wolverine reaching his so-called package. It happens to be guarded by an old man who chewed off his arm. He looks like a mix between Christopher Walken and the corpse of Dennis Karadine. His dialog makes about as much sense as the last two Matrix movies. I don't know if this was poor planning on the part of the writers, but this guy makes no sense. He seems to be someone else that's indebted to the crazy vampire chick who still doesn't have a name. If that weren't confusing enough, said crazy vampire chick is in debt as well. It's not clear whose collecting all this debt. It sounds like the IRS, but there's no way even this guy would be able to hide from them. Towards the end he doesn't offer too many answers. He just tries to eat Wolverine. No, that's not a joke. That's what he does. It would be disturbing if the scene wasn't so damn confusing.

Back with Rockslide, his visit to the dry cleaners takes a disturbing turn. When it becomes clear that Rockslide isn't going to let it go, the crazy woman at the front desk does what uptight Korean grocers can only dream of doing. She turns into a dragon and attacks Rockslide. It looks like a great setting for a fight, but sadly nothing comes of it. It's likely we'll have to wait for the next issue, but seeing as how Rockslide seems to have a bedrock level boner for Jubilee he's likely to fight his way through. That's the power of vampire pussy.

The fight with Wolverine and the would-be cannibal is a little more graphic, but not epic in the slightest. Without even going into a berserker rage, Wolverine decapitates the crazy old man as if he was opening a jar of peanut butter. It's not very exciting, but it's as badass as you would expect from someone like Wolverine. Now he can open the package that the crazy vampire chick sent him to retrieve in the first place, hopefully adding a bit more clarify after that last scene left my head spinning more than my last three hangovers.

The package reveals more Inception-like insanity. It's full of those same strange necklaces that Jubilee was wearing in the first issue. Again, it's a nice way to connect the series. However, the mojo behind them is still not clear. Somehow these floating jewels allow Wolverine to talk to Jubilee, this time without the super-cell phone mentioned earlier. Instead she sounds like a disembodied voice from a Poltergeist movie, which would still give better reception than AT&T.

As for Jubilee herself, she discovers that she's not in a typical prison. She's in a mysterious realm that looks like a cross between the Negative Zone and a six-year-old's brain. If you weren't confused by the cannibal or the nameless vampire chick earlier, you'll definitely be seeking psychiatric help after this one or you'll try re-reading the book after a few hits of pot and see if that helps. I already tried that and I can assure you it's still confusing as hell. At least it's still an interesting kind of confusing. It's not the bland, eye-rolling bullshit that made the ending of the last issue such a downer. Between these bizarre perceptions of reality and a more coherent plot that has Rockslide involved, this issue actually ends on a high note.

The final impression of this book is a bit of a mixed bag. It's definitely an upgrade from the previous issue, but let's face it. That's not saying much. That's like saying it's slightly less ugly than Gilbert Gottfried's face. It leaves the reader feeling less disappointed. There is a bit more of a coherent plot and the characterization is somewhat improved. It also ties together the events of the previous issues and adds a few novel twists. It's nothing too extreme, but it's not underwhelming either. It's just enough to make readers want to pick up the next issue and see what happens.

There were still plenty of flaws to list. Certain scenes were confusing as hell to follow. That crazy cannibal didn't make a lick of sense in anything he said. That crazy vampire chick is still a mystery and not a very interesting one either. The dialog still needs work and for a while it seemed this book was becoming just another Wolverine story. The twists at the end were all well and good, but a twist can't be much of a twist if it's confusing as hell. Is Jubilee in a dream world or did she stumble into a dimension where the laws of reality were written by an eight-year-old? It's not clear and it doesn't leave readers with as much wonder as it should. Confusion may work for the Matrix and Inception, but not in a comic book about a teenage girl that becomes a vampire. Even Stephanie Meyer has her limits.

If you're a Jubilee fan, this book is still worth picking up. It's nice to have Jubilee back in the fray again, but this series hasn't really done her much justice. It's not clear what role she's going to have with the X-men. From the looks of it, Vampire Jubilee is here to stay and that's not a bad thing. When scoring this book, I couldn't give it too much of an upgrade because there's still so much it needs to improve. That's why I give Wolverine and Jubilee #3 a 2.5 out of 5. It's better than the last issue, but not as much as it could have been. There's still room for the next issue to bring everything together. If it succeeds, then Jubilee fans everywhere can stop holding their breath and rejoice! Nuff said.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Uncanny X-men #534 - Matt Fraction's Swan Song

Well here it is. The end of an era. It's not an era you'll find in any history book, even the ones from Texas that claim Jesus Christ blessed America with a magic fart and FDR was Facebook friends with Hitler. For the past several years, Matt Fraction has been at the helm of Uncanny X-men. Under his run, Uncanny became THE central X-men book again. It's the first time Uncanny X-men had such a role in over a decade. Before it was Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, or some other big name writer who stole Uncanny's thunder. Well Matt Fraction took that thunder back like a Nigerian salesman and ran with it. He took Uncanny past the landmark #500 issue, moved the X-men to San Francisco, set up Utopia, and wrote them through Second Coming. That's a lot for a writer who had to pick up after an event like Messiah Complex.

However, Matt Fraction's run hasn't been without it's hiccups. He's done a lot to set the status quo for Uncanny, but that status quo can sometimes make your eyes roll so much that you can see the back of your skull. Fraction has been great with telling big stories such as Utopia. Where he's faltered is his characterization of certain X-men. He's made no secret that he loves Cyclops and Emma Frost. That's all well and good, but for the duration of his run his bias towards these characters has been so blatant that it's turned off even those who are fans of them. He treats these characters as if they were made of glass that was hand-molded by Michelangelo himself, never putting them in a position to do any wrong or face any hardships. It's made the Cyclops/Emma relationship pretty much unbearable. People used to whine about the Cyclops/Jean relationship for being bland. At least that relationship had depth. Matt Fraction's Cyclops/Emma has been a migraine inducing deconstruction of their characters that takes all the proclivities that Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon developed and gives it the Old Yeller treatment.

Then there's his portrayal of other characters like Pixie, Dazzler, and pretty much any mutant under the age of 18. He doesn't give any character an individual voice. If they all look a certain way, they pretty much sound the same way. You could put Pixie's dialog in place of Dazzler's and it would be exactly the same. You could do the same with Storm and Colossus. It's hard to really get a feel for these characters when they're about as underdeveloped as the nation of Botswana.

But I digress. Matt Fraction has done a lot of good things as well. He's told some great stories and taken the X-men to a new and exciting environment. So I am left with some sadness that he's leaving, but he's going onto bigger and better things like Fear Itself. I'm guessing that involves a pay raise and access to Marvel's secret vault that contains life-like blow-up dolls of She-Hulk, Emma Frost, and Miss Marvel. His final issue is Uncanny X-men #534, the last issue of the Quarantine arc. It starts off with the plot that I've been banging my head against the wall more than any other since Second Coming. I'm pretty sure I've brained my damage since then.

It starts off with Emma running from Sebastian Shaw. I'm left with a Baywatch type image here given Emma's surgical enhancements. Given that Emma wears heels everywhere, I'm pretty sure she's incapable of outrunning a guy she forcibly imprisoned. So it comes as no surprise when Shaw smacks her around a bit more, taking a page right out of Chris Brown's bitch-slapping handbook. Then he takes it a step further. He makes Emma Frost give the ultimate head. No, that's not a blow-job reference (not entirely). He actually rips off Emma Frost's head.

If Matt Fraction weren't writing this, it would be a powerful moment. But seeing as how he won't let Emma Frost get so much as a split nail, it's pretty predictable as to what happens next. The whole ripping Emma's head off...a complete illusion. Yeah, Emma managed to hack Shaw's mind...again. As if she couldn't have done this before when he was locked up in the brig? Why go through the trouble of getting Kitty Pryde and Fantomex involved in the first place? It makes about as much sense as a vacation in North Korea and is so predictable you could have skipped over this entire sub-plot and not missed a damn thing.

The Emma plot was going to turn out blander than water flavored ice cream. That shouldn't surprise anyone. The real lure of this book is the one involving the Sublime Corporation and the HX-N1 virus that has left the X-men weaker than a shaved kitten. In the last issue Cyclops's balls descended just a little bit more and he ordered that the X-men stand and fight, despite being sicker than a vegetarian at Ted Nugant's house. He's advised against it, but Cyclops being Cyclops doesn't listen. They get a shot of kick-ass drugs to give them just the strength they need. I don't know what sort of drugs could put the X-men back in fighting condition, but I want some! The guy at the corner of 8th and 14th never has anything that good.

At the same time the battle against Lobe's investors has been unfolding. The X-men who aren't puking their guts up are the ones taking the brunt end of a bunch of super-powered rich fucks who already think money makes their shit smell like roses. It should be a chaotic fight, but most of it is dominated by shots of Dazzler and Pixie acting like school girls at a Hello Kitty convention. For what should be a tough battle, they take it about as seriously as people take Glenn Beck. It only gets serious when the rest of the X-men crash the party...literally.

The X-men arrive and despite being sick they're packing some serious heat. It's at this point we're reminded that no matter how rick and snooty you are, it takes time to learn how to kick ass. These investors think that just because they have Wolverine's claws that they're as tough as Wolverine. Just because they can heal doesn't mean they're any less a pussy when they get knifed in their gut. The rest of the X-men demonstrate this as well. That and Cyclops packs a flamethrower. If given the choice, I would rather be wounded by an optic blast than burnt to a crisp by napalm. But that's just me. Maybe there are those with a fire fetish out there who feel different. If so, my therapist would love to meet you!

Lobe being the crafty douche-bag he is utilizes a fail-safe. It makes you wonder if he was just jerking off while he watched his investors make asses of themselves. That fail-safe involves an extra surprise in the HX-N1 virus he infected the X-men with. He basically takes it form slowly killing to wishing you were dead. It's his way of ending the fight so the investors are still healthy enough to fork over their hard-earned money. However, he overlooks one glaring problem and it starts seeping from his nose. For once, it's not the result of excessive cocaine snorting.

What happened is Lobe turns out to be a lot dumber than he let on. The HX-N1 virus infects mutants and not humans. So what do you think happens when his little drug gives normal people mutant powers? Suddenly, monkey pox doesn't just infect monkies anymore. Now that the X-men came and crashed the party, they brought the virus with them. As a result, it infected Lobe and his rich douche-bag buddies. So now they're all keeling over and coughing up meals that they ate three days ago.

It's a graphic scene, but one that really kills any intrigue readers might have had for Lobe. The man was so smart and cunning throughout this arc. Then it turns out he's so fucking stupid that he doesn't stop to think that his virus could infect those who have his X-men in a bottle? Even Magneto at his worst was never that dumb! For all the genius that went into making this shit, it's a pretty weak way to fuck up. The X-men didn't outsmart them. They didn't craft a virus of their own. Lobe was just stupid as fuck. It really does kill the whole intrigue that was such a great sticking point for this arc.

So as expected, Lobe orders that the virus be purged. Cyclops gives a lecture to the investors on how much it sucks to be an X-men. They buy it and go back to their mansions to sulk in a pile of money, strippers, and caviar. If that weren't degrading enough, Cyclops goes onto do the least heroic thing he's ever done. He threatens to sue Lobe. That's heroism for you, using lawyers instead of powers. Since Warren is rich that means Lobe will probably be sued for $500 billion dollars and forced to wear an Emma Frost costume at every gay pride parade for the rest of his life. It's a victory for the X-men, but it feels as dirty as taking money from a tobacco lobbyist.

While the X-men clean up shop with Lobe, Emma Frost cleans up her little deal with Shaw. Again, there's nothing all that surprising going on. She doesn't kill Shaw and her secrets continue to stay under wraps. She just wipes his mind so he doesn't know who he is. Then somehow it's revealed that they crashed in the most landlocked area of the planet, therefor Namor will never find out that she lied to him after he boned her. Wait...didn't they crash land because Fantomex dropped him out of their aircraft? Did they just HAPPEN to be in the right area? How many WTFs does that constitute and how many supercomputers are necessary to compute it.

Again, it's a story that demonstrates a clear bias by Matt Fraction. He won't do ANYTHING to hurt Emma Frost. This could have been a major turning point for her. What would happen to her relationship with Cyclops and Namor if they found out she was keeping secrets again? All this after she and Cyclops agreed that keeping secrets was a bad thing in wake of Utopia? Then there's the excuse she gave at the beginning of the arc when she told Cyclops that she was taking Kitty "shopping." Does he still believe that shit? She's basically getting off completely unscathed. Nothing changes. Her relationships and status is unaffected. It's almost as if this was just a way to keep her away from Utopia so Greg Land didn't have to draw her sick. Emma Frost has become one of the blandest characters in Uncanny under Fraction and she's in desperate need of more depth beyond her looks. Even a woman with breasts like hers can only do so much before her story loses impact.

There's not much else to do from here. Storm, Pixie, Dazzler, and Northstar finish off Lobe's plan by destroying his stockpile of the drug. Wait, do they really have to destroy it? Is it possible that they could find some use for a drug that gives people mutant powers? Wolverine's healing powers alone could rid the world of AIDS and cancer. Surely humanity will bow before the X-men and serve them the head of every anti-mutant zealot for that. Then there's the Angel drug that allows people to fly. It would basically do a way with traffic jams FOREVER. Seriously, why destroy this shit? Why not take Lobe's ill-gotten work and use it for better purposes? I guess they're just not feeling very heroic lately. It's a bullshit loose end that Matt Fraction usually doesn't leave.

All may not be lost. In the final panel one of Lobe's new X-men slipped away. Back when Cyclops was rounding up the investors, those Original Five knock-offs were among those captured. Well one of them got away. It was the female Angel. Again, how does a girl who looks about as competent as your average high school girl outsmart the X-men? Usually girls at this age can barely work a coffee machine at Starbucks. Yet she somehow slipped out and managed to take some of Lobe's miracle drug as well? Again, it's a loose end that Matt Fraction doesn't usually leave. This being his last issue, it's pretty disappointing.

So there you have it. Matt Fraction is finished with Uncanny X-men (for now). What can you say about his legacy in the X-books? He's definitely changed the landscape for the X-men. He took them out of New York and put them on the West Coast. It could have been a gimmick, but he made it work. At the same time his writing (or lack thereof in some areas) has scrambled the X-men a bit. Some would say certain characters have regressed. Others would say they're now in a position to do more. I would say it's a mix and this final issue leaves his run with a somewhat unbalanced legacy.

I won't mince words. This was NOT a good issue to be Matt Fraction's last. The Quarantine arc had great potential. Half of it was wasted by the Emma Frost story and even though the story surrounding the Sublime Corporation was pretty novel, it fizzled in the end like a North Korean firecracker. This arc had too few surprises and too many loose ends. Once again, Emma Frost gets away with everything and comes out completely untainted. Once again, Cyclops is made to look overly competent at the expense of the other characters around him. And once again, the dialog with characters like Pixie and Dazzler are rendered childish and bland. It's the kind of arc you can skip over and not miss a thing. Nothing really changed here. There was no twist or aftermath. It's like finishing a story with an incomplete sentence. The meaning is there, but limited. Usually Matt Fraction is very good about not leaving loose ends. It's disappointing that he would leave one with so many on his final issue.

Uncanny X-men #534 wasn't terrible, but it wasn't very good. Matt Fraction deserves better for his final issue. I can only assume he's out of breath for hyping Fear Itself. He still did something novel with the Sublime corporation. If he wanted to send a message about the evils of Big Pharma, that message was received loud and clear. They're assholes. We get it and this issue shows just how big an asshole they can be when you put mutants into the mix. Guess I'm not buying stock in Pfizer. Even so, this issue was really sub-par. He could get away with it when the other X-books were somewhat secondary in scope. That's rapidly changing with books like Uncanny X-Force and X-men Legacy. So with everything that was and wasn't done with this issue and the Quarantine arc as a whole, I give Uncanny X-men #534 a 2.5 out of 5.

For all the flaws in his run, Matt Fraction still did something that places him in the upper decks of X-men writers. He made Uncanny X-men awesome again. In many ways, that's his greatest legacy and it's one to be proud of. Say what you will about his writing. Matt Fraction made the most of it and left Kieron Gillen with plenty to work with. So setting aside all my boob jokes and dry political references, I say this to Matt Fraction. Thank you for making Uncanny X-men a meaningful book again. Good luck on your future projects! Good luck on Fear Itself! And if you ever need to get piss faced drunk in Baltimore, look me up! Nuff said.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #6 - Deathlok Nation of Awesome

It has been a long time since there was an X-men book that I looked forward to every week and never had to worry about crashing like Sarah Palin on a physics test. In the days before Ultimate X-men was horribly butchered by a shitty crossover event that will go unnamed (Ultimatum), I took comfort in having one book on my pull list that I felt would always deliver quality awesome. Now a new book has taken that role and it has a hot Asian chick in it as a bonus. That book is Uncanny X-Force. This book has been so awesome that it's actually made me give a damn about Fantomex. That says it all right there.

It's a book that takes the concept of X-Force that Craig Kyle and Chris Yost put together and adds a new twist. The X-men's secret proactive kill-squad was officially disbanded after Second Coming. Unofficially, Wolverine kept it going with help from Angel's deep pockets. So far it's been a testament to Wolverine's poor leadership skills. Their first mission was against their greatest enemy, Apocalypse. However, after they fought their way through to the big bad mutant who has lips like a Angelina Jolie having an allergic reaction, they discovered that their first killing assignment was a kid. The majority of the team agreed that killing a kid, even one as creepy as a kid Apocalypse, was a line that even a kill squad couldn't cost. But X-Force isn't a functioning democracy. Fantomex overruled that vote, putting one right between the eyes of the kid. Now he's sent X-Force into all kinds of chaos. They're now the Bundie family with more homicide and no adorable dog.

The last issue dealt with the aftermath. Fantomex was given a time out so like the snooty French man he pretends to be, he took his pocket dimension known as the World and traveled to the Alps to see his mother. It was all tea, crumpets, and unshaven arm pits until a cyborg version of the Avengers attacked. They killed Fantomex's mother and tried to take the World. They succeeded in taking the World. Now in this issue they want to kill Fantomex to finish the job. He gave them the slip at the end of the last issue. That lasted about as long as Lex Luthor in a barber shop. Just as Fantomex was trying to escape, the cyborg Spider-Man (who looks better than his counterpart that made a deal with the devil) catches him and tries to give him the Ike Turner treatment.

Fantomex is able to beat him. And by beat him, I mean he shoots him in the head. That seems to be Fantomex's new favorite past-time aside from visiting Amsterdam brothels. You want to be as shocked as you were when he did that to Kidpocalypse, but if you're a hater of One More Day you'll be jerking off to that scene for the next week or two. When your balls are drained, you'll come back to find that Fantomex is actually working with Deathlok. They both want the World and they need to shoot more people in the head to get it back.

Fantomex shooting people in the head is all well and good, but this isn't a solo book. I'm pretty sure Rick Remender is obligated to have a scene with Psylocke to cover the hot Asian chick demand that so many comics require. It appears she's having tea with her brother, Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain. It's the American equivalent to a beer and cigarette. She tells him about Kidpocalypse and how messed up she feels about it. Captain Britain reacts as if she choked his pet dog to death while neutering it with a meat cleaver. Killing kids just isn't cool in Britain anymore it seems.

What makes this scene even more powerful is that it isn't actually happening as you see it. No, I'm not high again (not completely). That whole conversation Betsy just had was just a hologram. It's not the first time Rick Remender did this. The first issue had something similar. Yet it still catches the reader by surprise and adds a new twist on everything. Psylocke didn't want to face her brother literally so she settled for a simulation. That's like making a blow-up doll of your girlfriend after she catches you jerking off to German fetish porn because you can't face her. When she ends it she meets up with Angel, who says they have a situation with Fantomex. She cares about as much as the IRS with a hangover.

So that means Fantomex only has Deathlok on his side when fighting off these Cyborg Avengers. It's not as unfair a fight as it seems. The Cyborg Avengers get their orders to take Fantomex out. They end up walking right into the line of fire with Fantomex and Deathlok. In true X-Force style it turns into a bloody shootout and the cyborg Avengers end up losing the World. Now you may not care for Deathlok and granted, he looks like he tried to fuck C3PO and lost. But he's pretty badass in this fight.

Badass only goes so far as they end up going on the run again. More gruesome head-shots are dished out, this time by Deathlok who keeps fighting despite an arrow going through his chest from Cyborg Hawkeye. It looks as though they're in a good position for a while. Then it looks even better when it appears that the rest of X-Force arrives. Fantomex must assume that they get over him killing a kid after a good night sleep and a few shots of tequila. Well he ends up being wrong on both counts because those aren't reinforcements that arrive. They're Cyborg X-Force, who look much more badass than any of the Cyborg Avengers.

More gunshots follow so they go back to running. This time they run out of room and have to jump of a cliff Wily Cayote style, but they have something better than an umbrella. They have Cyborg Captain America's shield. Somehow that's enough to cushion their fall? If that's the case then jumping out of a plane would be a legitimate form of commuting to downtown Manhattan. Well these guys are both durable so it works for them. They end up crashing through ice and getting a bath that only the passengers of the Titanic could appreciate. But it's still better than a gunshot wound even if they didn't get to draw Kate Winslet naked.

When they emerge, the REAL X-Force shows up. Not some lousy Cyborg knock-offs. They still make it clear that they have as much affection for Fantomex as they do snake nesting in their toilet, but they take him on board their personal UFO anyways where he gives them an overview of what's going on. Deathlok goes with them and isn't welcome either, but then again he didn't kill Kidpocalypse so you get the feeling that X-Force tolerates him a bit more than Fantomex.

He goes onto explain that the Cyborg heroes their fighting are from a divergent time-line. Yes, another X-book that involves time travel. Even if you're a huge Back to the Future fan and you named your dog Doc Brown, the sheer ubiquity of divergent time-lines should be more confounding than Michael Jackson's medicine cabinet. It's not too radically different. The only change is that cyborgs were made using Earth's mightiest heroes. Not a big change, but one that makes for more explosions and gunfights so it has that going for it.

To learn more about the time-line, they run a few USB cables into Cyborg Captain America. This acts like a defibrillator of sorts and jolts him back to the world of the conscious. He still looks like he just woke up from a night out with Jack Nicholson and Kieth Richards, but he adds more details to Fantomex and Deathlok's story. Apparently in their time-line, superhumans adopted Fantomex's recklessness and the guys in charge did the most logical thing any politician would do. They forcibly turned heroes into mindless cyborgs. It's probably the least crazy thing Congress has done in any reality.

Then Cyborg Cap drops another bomb on them. The sad truth is that turning superhumans into cyborgs actually worked. Humanity became a walking 50s sitcom minus the subtle racism and misogyny. They were sent to this time line because of one guy who undid it all, Apocalypse. Now this is a bit confusing because Apocalypse is already dead. So why would they need the World and why would killing Fantomex be necessary. Granted, the man's a douche-bag, but other than giving them something to boast about when they want to get laid what would it accomplish?

It's an interesting mystery that doesn't get solved because of a fresh round of explosions. This is an X-Force comic mind you. If something doesn't explode every other page then someone isn't doing their job. The same goes for shooting people in the head. That's just how X-Force rolls. The Cyborg Captain America is hacked like a Russian porn site and he ends up shooting himself in the head. Then their ship is attacked by more Deathlok baddies. But before Cyborg Steve gave himself the Kurt Cobain treatment, he revealed where the visionary behind the Cyborg Superhero initiative is hiding. He's deep within the World. So on the final page, Fantomex proclaims that this is where they'll go to put a stop to this. Even he seems to agree that the X-books have one too many alternate time-lines and this one needs to go.

It's not the most ground-breaking ending. It's not going to shock you. It's not going to surprise you. You're not going to fall flat on your ass as if you just took a hit from Bob Marley's secret stash. It's just a solid overall ending that gives you everything you need to follow the story. It doesn't have to be that stupifying. Contrary to popular belief, not every comic has to end with some crazy revelation that will change the whole time-line forever. Readers will be satisfied provided the end gives them enough reason to pick up the next issue. In this sense, Uncanny X-Force succeeds with flying colors.

There's nothing incoherent about this book. It ties together the events of the previous issue and helps give greater context to the overall story. If you were confused by the last issue, reading this issue will put everything into a nice little package that you can rap up and pack with shredded copies of One More Day and Ultimatum. It still plays on twisted perceptions like with Psylocke's conversation with Brian. It also carries on the theme of over-the-top gun fights and shots to the head. It's everything you want an Uncanny X-Force book to be. The art, the dialog, and the plot all fit. There's really nothing aside from Fantomex's douche-baggery to complain about.

I'm very comfortable giving Uncanny X-Force #6 a perfect 5 out of 5. This book continues to deliver. It's consistent, action packed, and all around awesome. Rick Remender has found a winning formula here. I'm not sure what all the ingredients are. I know it involves Asian chicks, gunshots to the head, holograms, cyborgs, and hidden pocket dimensions. It sounds like a bad Matrix knock-off, but the way Remender does it is simply too awesome for words. If you only get one X-book a month, Uncanny X-Force should be that X-book. It gives readers all the quality awesome they seek and blows shit up in the process. Nuff said!

X-men Supreme Update: New Commissioned Art for Issue 11: Revenge of Weapon X Part 2

I know I just updated the X-men Supreme fanfiction series yesterday. I also know that it's been a while since I updated the pics section, namely the panels area. Well that changes today! The wonderfully talented Brian Brinlee is back in action! He's created some wonderful commissions for X-men Supreme and his talent continues to astound me. This most recent pic comes from the pages of Issue 11: Revenge of Weapon X Part 2. He captured the powerful scene between General Wraith and Professor Xavier. In this scene the two men confront each other and their opposing ideas clash. It's one of the most important scenes in the arc and Brian captured it perfectly! You can view the full image in the panels section.

X-men Supreme Panel Commissions

Thanks again for making X-men Supreme all the more awesome, Brian! As I've mentioned before, I'm open for other commissions. If you have something you want to contribute to X-men Supreme, then by all means! Contact me and I'll be happy to post it and give full credit. I plan on doing a larger update of the pics section soon, but a fresh image from Brian Brinlee takes priority! Stay tuned for more updates to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series as they come in! Until then, take care and best wishes.


Friday, March 25, 2011

X-men Supreme Issue #29: Cajun Chaos Part 3 is LIVE!

The time has come! Another arc in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is ready to conclude! Cajun Chaos has been an eventful little saga, introducing Remy Lebeau to the world of X-men Supreme and all the trouble he brings to the X-men. I hope all the Gambit fans out there are satisfied with how he's been portrayed. This fanfiction series walks a fine line, trying to re-tell the stories of these characters in a way that's familiar yet novel. Gambit has always had a somewhat murky backstory. I hope with the Cajun Chaos arc that even those who don't care for Gambit can still enjoy his portrayal in X-men Supreme. It all comes together with the third and final entry of this arc. It's live and ready for your viewing pleasure!

Issue 29: Cajun Chaos Part 3

I always love the feeling I get when a new character is added to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. As usual I'll include a full bio for Remy Lebeau in the bios section once it's ready. I also hope to have some more pics to post soon. For any artists out there, please know that I'm always open to posting your art here on X-men Supreme. I want this site to have as many reasons for X-men fans to visit as possible. This fanfiction series is moving into a new phase. The introduction of Remy Lebeau is just a prelude. A slew of new characters are set to show up in the next few issues. Stay tuned for more details! Expect a few twists along with some profound developments!

As always, I strongly encourage everybody to review each issue. There haven't been too many reviews so far and I hope that changes. I don't mind if the reviews are anonymous, but if you post a name I will mention you on these updates. If you ever want to contact me and talk X-men or fanfiction, I will gladly respond. I want X-men Supreme to be accessible to everybody. The more feedback I get, the more awesome I can make this fanfiction series. Thanks to everybody for their support! I hope it continues. Until next time, take care and best wishes!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Uncanny X-men Annual #3 - Negative Zone With A Mix of Awesome

Well I made it through my review of Generation Jean ripoff. After finishing it I passed out and woke up in an alley with my underwear on my head and a note pinned to my scrotum with a phone number on it. I haven't called the number just yet, but I figured I would review one more comic before go about hiring a lawyer and a new proctologist.

One comic that I always look forward to are the annuals. These comics are like Christmas. They come out only once a year and they're usually special in the sense that they justify their outrageous $4.99 price tag. These comics are often like sex with Heather Locklier. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty damn good. You can tell the writers and artists put more effort into these things because they only have one shot at it. It's like that last roll in a game of craps. You try extra hard, praying to whatever inane gods you worship to help you go that extra distance. Sometimes like a lousy Christmas where you only get books, socks, and a vibrator that was meant for your sister it doesn't pan out. At least you know someone put some effort into this shit.

Well the X-books almost always have an annual and this year is no exception. Uncanny X-men Annual #3 by James Asmus (who I haven't seen on an X-book yet) takes on the challenge this year. Granted, it's not a big name by the likes of Chris Claremont, Grant Morrison, or Mark Millar. But given the rut these guys have been in, it's high time Marvel get a pinch hitter at the plate. This book takes place at some point after the first arc in Generation Jean ripoff and possibly after issue #5. It's not clear if it takes place after Quarantine, but it really doesn't matter at this point because it involves all the heavy hitters such as Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, and Jean ripoff. Wolverine is nowhere in sight, but the man already has several books under his name so he can afford to take a break. So I'm going to assume he spends this issue getting drunk or banging Domino or both.

Now if you read my review of Generation Jean ripoff #5 you know I'm about as fond of Hope Summers as I am rectal warts. She's a farce of a character more annoying than an army of Andy Dick clones. So imagine my disgust when I open this book to see Jean ripoff being a total brat on the first page. And I'm not talking about your typical teenage girl brat who will scream her lungs out because her mother won't let her wear a thong to a rave at a club called "Rufie Rave." She storms in calling Cyclops a total jerk because he won't let her team, the Five Lights, go on missions. You know, that same team that consists of a bunch of teenage mutants who to this point have only gotten into major fights on message boards? And somehow Cyclops is a jerk for not sending them out on dangerous missions? Seriously, this scene made me want Bishop to show up and unload six clips of a Glock 9 mm into Jean ripoff's lower spine.

While she's pitching a hissy fit and making readers want to crucify her like the messiah she is, Namor storms in and starts calling Cyclops a jerk as well. Unlike Jean ripoff, he has a good reason. Someone borrowed a high tech gizmo called a cyclotron from Atlantis. They borrowed it in the same way your roommate borrows your copy of Jenna Jameson's greatest cumshots DVD and never returns it. Except it's not Cyclops that's responsible this time so Cyclops haters have to hold their wad. It's Madison Jefferies who took the device and has since been experimenting with it. His reason has to do with the events of Second Coming when they created a bridge to Limbo, which they used to rescue Magik. As is often the case with the X-men, that mission got ugly and the bridge was destroyed. Now Madison is trying to rebuild it.

This doesn't stop Namor from arguing with Cyclops. It also doesn't stop Jean ripoff from being a total brat sadly. Yet while they're all busting Cyclops's balls, Madison Jefferies is the one banging on this high tech Atlantean hardware with a wrench. That may help fix shit in the former Soviet Union, but in the world of sci fi you might as well be smoking a cigarette in a nitro-glycerine factory. So it's not too much of a surprise when the whole thing explodes in a beautifully drawn scene that should give X-fans a semi-boner. It's only semi because Emma Frost's clothes aren't blown off.

When the sparkling dust settles, Emma Frost and Madison Jefferies are still in one piece. Actually, Madison is pretty fucked up in that he looks like he went fifteen rounds with Mike Tyson on crystal meth. Emma Frost, because she's diamond, doesn't get a scratch on her. This is understandable since Marvel knows they can't wound a character they know their fans jerk off to more than monkey in a Viagra factory. Yet somehow her clothes stay intact. Again, it's a missed opportunity to get Emma Frost naked. Shame on you, Marvel! For shame!

As for Cyclops, Namor, Jean ripoff, and Dr. Nemesis they all wake up in what looks like a dream-scape from Gary Busey's unmedicated mind. It's actually the Negative Zone, but Busey would still be right at home in it. Again, Jean ripoff uses this opportunity to be a shit-stain of a brat by basically cursing off Cyclops while he's trying to make sure she's okay. It seems with every panel, Jean ripoff gives readers all the more reason to hate her unless they also have a grudge against Cyclops. I'm all for having grudges against characters in case you haven't figured that out, but it helps to have good reasons and right now Jean ripoff's reasons have been about as well-thought out as Billy Ray Cyrus's parenting skills.

Now being in a dimension reality with no map really doesn't bode well and seeing as how everyone is trying to push Cyclops's buttons, they agree to split up. It's a tactic straight out of Scooby Doo. Jean ripoff tries to avoid being with Cyclops, but gets overruled. She's a teenage girl and you're just not going to leave her with a guy as creepy as Dr. Nemesis or as pig-headed as Namor. Jean ripoff doesn't like it, but that's what you get for being a brat! If only Cyclops could put a shock collar on her then this story would be extra satisfying.

Namor and Nemesis head off in their own direction and get along about as well as two men who are trying to fuck the same hot chick at a party. Oh wait, that's Namor and Cyclops. I'll think of something else for these two, but their exploration doesn't lead them anywhere exciting. Not that they realize it anyways. Just as they're wondering if life could ever survive, they're standing on the back of a creature that looks like it got rejected from the Empire Strikes Back. Anyone who believes George Lucas is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ should know where this is going.

As ominous as this may be, the excitement is once again spoiled by Jean ripoff's bratty bullshit. Cyclops keeps trying to be reasonable with her. He says and does nothing this entire comic that isn't completely justified. Usually there are two sides to every story, but sometimes one side is so ridiculously inane you want to reach into the book and slap them across the face like the entire Jewish population of New York wants to do to Glenn Beck. She continues to be a complete brat and Cyclops to his credit keeps his cool. Even if you hate Cyclops, you have to respect him for being able to deal with a brat that looks like his dead wife.

Back in the world outside of Gary Busey's mind, the X-men are trying to repair Madison's science experiment. They have Magneto, Prodigy, Cypher, and Warlock all join in to pick up the pieces and put it back together. They make about as much progress as they would if they argued with Bill O'Reily. Cypher colorfully explains that Cyclops and the others disappeared into the unknown and they have no way of tracking them. The only sliver of hope comes from Pixie of all people, who Emma asks if she's up for a trip to New York. For someone whose fuck buddy is in trouble, she doesn't seem that worried. Then again this is a woman with a heart colder than a polar bear's nutsack so you can't expect anything less.

Back in fantasy land, also known as the Negative Zone, Jean ripoff continues her bratty streak by belittling Cyclops for explaining the merits of survival. She points out that she was raised by Cable. Cyclops then points out that he raised Cable. He's not smug about it, but Jean ripoff finds a way to get pissy about it. I can't help but wonder if she's dealing with PMS this whole issue or if she's just that much of a bitch.

Despite the blatant disrespect she shows him, Cyclops is still quick to defend Jean ripoff when they encounter some of the ugly thugs that inhabit the Negative Zone. He tries to be friendly. He finds out that this is an alien concept in this realm. It's not unlike visiting the Alabama with your gay friends and an NWA cover band.

It gets ugly and to further make her case for being the most unlikable character in X-men, she attacks. She uses her fists the way Cable taught her who in turn learned it from Cyclops. So in that sense she's basically proving Cyclops right without knowing it. Yet I still find myself hoping that these creatures beat her because she deserves more than just a good spanking. She deserves to be locked in a room with rabid dogs while wearing Lady Gaga's meat suit. It's an awesome scene, but you just can't root for Jean ripoff given what a horrendous bitch she has been this entire issue.

They aren't the only ones fighting monsters. Remember that monster Namor and Dr. Nemesis were walking over without realizing it? Well they realized it and the creature attacked them. Well it attacked Namor anyways. Dr. Nemesis didn't do much of anything aside from sit back and watch Namor do all the dirty work. It was a nice fight and one that shows Namor can hold is own, making readers wonder why the hell Emma Frost hasn't surgically attached herself to his dick yet. He does eventually beat the creature, but not without Dr. Nemesis making a snide Aquaman reference. I'm wondering if that's Marvel speaking in code to DC. If so I'm pretty sure the message is Namor can kick Aquaman's ass any day of the week. That or it's a covert message for a party at Axel Alonso's house.

The fight with Cyclops and Jean ripoff is not nearly as satisfying. Miss I-Have-A-Right-To-Be-A-Brat-Because-I'm-The-Fucking-Messiah's insatiable desire to pick a fight has caused the Negative Zone's version of the NYPD to call for backup. She goes onto say that being in the X-men sucks, never mind the fact that she was the one that told Cable she wanted to go back in Second Coming. So that's yet another reason for readers to want to strangle her Homer Simpson style. I'm sure Cyclops feels that way because they end up getting surrounded and are basically in an unwinnable fight at this point.

Namor and Dr. Nemesis continue to do better. Finally Dr. Nemesis starts to contribute instead of letting Namor do all the fighting. He takes out an odd-looking weapon, which really makes you wonder if he was just saving that so he can make Namor's balls feel a few sizes smaller. That's not a very smart thing to do to the king of Atlantis, but he does it anyways. At the very least it does beat back the creature so it's not a total loss. It once again shows that Dr. Nemesis has the social skills of an neutered autistic attack dog.

Naturally, Namor doesn't take kindly to that shit. He goes through the trouble of fighting this creature and Nemesis has the gall to just sit back and wait until the amusement wears off before he helps him. For once Namor's arrogant attitude is completely justified. He doesn't just call him every discernible insult in the Atlantean language. He leaves Nemesis's sorry ass behind. I know the X-men books are supposed to be team books, but so far the team has gotten along about as well as Sunnis and Shiites. It's an unusual yet entertaining display of dysfunction.

It still isn't quite as dysfunctional as Cyclops and Jean ripoff. For once all the survival skills imparted by Cable didn't do her any good. They both end up captured by the Negative Zone's resident meter maids and are imprisoned. Even though Cyclops is bloodied and showing concern for the mutant messiah, she still finds a way to belittle him. Seriously, is it at all possible that she say something that doesn't make readers want to strangle her?

Well they're in a tight spot now and all the bratiness in the world isn't going to save them. They're now at the mercy of a creature that looks like Bigfoot fucked Robin Williams. He states that he doesn't plan to torture them or make them participate in some bloody gladiatorial games for their freedom. That would make too much sense. Instead, he's going to use them as bait. That's the last message they hear before the issue ends and is set to be continued in Steve Rogers: Super Soldier Annual #1.

Wait what? That's the end? We have to wait for another issue that isn't even a fucking X-book to see how this shit plays out? That isn't how annuals are supposed to work! Part of the charm of an annual is that it's a single story in an oversized book that's better than average and more packed with quality awesome. Now they're breaking up even the annuals so readers have to wait a fucking month to see what happens? That's okay for arcs in individual series, but not annuals. You don't pay $4.99 plus a tax to read a book that only leaves you waiting at the end. That's like paying a hooker to only partially suck your dick.

It's a disappointing ending even if the content that led to it was fairly entertaining. Even if it didn't end like an annual, you still got the sense that it was written like an annual. There was more care and concern put into the content. The art was different, looking like a cross between the Super Hero Squad and a Teen Titans cartoon. The action, the dialog, and the overall dysfunction between the characters was an enjoyable read. The underlying plot of the X-men getting trapped in the Negative Zone is a good one. It just should have been resolved within an issue rather than stretching it out over other issues that aren't even part of the same series. That sort of defeats the purpose of an annual.

There's also the Jean ripoff factor. I know you're all probably tired of hearing me rant about this, but every time I see this little bitch in a comic I want to pull my hair out and stick my head in a microwave. She's been a bratty little shit stain before. This comic took her to new heights. There wasn't one scene where Jean ripoff was likable in the slightest respect. She had no reason for being such a bitch other than she simply didn't get her way. There's a word for people who simply bitch for not getting their way. We call them narcissistic assholes. This girl is supposed to be the mutant messiah. If she's the hope for all mutant kind then Cyclops might as well organize a Jim Jones style mass suicide because they're fucked.

I'll need to get wasted again and hope my pants stay on this time to recover from Jean ripoff's bullshit. As for the comic itself, it's a decent enough read even if it's incomplete. That's why I give it a 3 out of 5. It's not going to measure up to most annuals by a long shot, but it is somewhat better than the mediocre bullshit that dominates the racks. I'll only consider giving the concept a higher score if Jean ripoff gets her ass kicked and Cyclops gets to smack her four times with a brass knuckle. If not, this is not the best annual X-fans could hope for. This issue needs to fall under the seems-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time category and stay there. Nuff said!