Friday, October 28, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue #143: Proactive Regression Part 1

As the conflicts get harder, the X-men must get stronger. The recent X-men comics don’t seem to agree with that idea. For whatever reason, Marvel has decided that as the conflicts get harder for the X-men, they must get weaker. This has led to Charles Xavier, Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey getting killed off. It has led to the X-men getting exiled from their world, forcing them to the most remote and hostile parts of the Marvel universe. It hardly seems like progress for the X-men. I hope to make more progress in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

Make no mistake. The conflicts will get more dire for the X-men in this fanfiction series, but don’t expect their strategy to revolve around moving the Xavier Institute to a demon realm or resorting to time travel to fix their problems. X-men Supreme has the X-men in a different position. They’re actually stronger now than they’ve ever been. After the Outer Limits arc that took them into a cosmic clash with the Shi’ar, they returned to Earth united and intact. Charles Xavier even came back healthier, his various ailments having been healed by Shi’ar medical technology. He can now walk, run, and stand by his X-men.

The X-men may end up needing the world’s most powerful telepath because in the six weeks they were absent, a new round of conflicts emerged. In many respects, the catalyst for these conflicts came at the beginning of the Outer Limits arc when the X-men were transported into deep space by the Phoenix Force. This incident destroyed a Warlock factory on Genosha and left Wanda Maximoff injured. Naturally, the Brotherhood, especially Quicksilver and Havok, became more militant. This has created a standoff between Genosha, President Kelly, and General Grimshaw. The danger of such a standoff is difficult to understate.

In addition to renewed tensions on Genosha, the Mutant Liberation Front has made a comeback. After Toad’s defeat at the hands of the X-men in the Natural Disorder arc, a new leader has emerged in Stryfe. He looks to finish what Toad started, but he intends to do it his way. With help from other former members and a few new allies, he’s preparing an attack that will shatter the foundations of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series in a major way. What he tried during the Inauguration Day arc was just a preview. This will be much worse.

All these conflicts are set to converge in a major way. It’ll set the stage for another major shakeup in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Charles Xavier, now healthy and strong, will have to re-evaluate his dream and how to pursue it with his X-men. What happens with him and his team will set the stage for some fresh upheaval in X-men Supreme, but that upheaval won’t involve sterilization or time travel so I think it’s still an upgrade over the X-men comics. It starts here with a new arc and a new conflict.

X-men Supreme Issue 143: Proactive Regression Part 1

I know X-men fans in a fragile state, given the conditions of the current X-men comics. I hope the buzz surrounding the Logan trailer helped alleviate some of it. I want to alleviate it even more with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. This is a world of X-men that is not bound to the same grim circumstances that we see in the comics. Clones, time travelers, and sterility plagues are not an issue here. I want X-men Supreme to just explore X-men in their most awesome form. To ensure I maintain such a form, it’s very important that I get feedback for this and every other issue of this fanfiction series. So please take the time to review by contacting me directly or by posting them directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Problem With Inhumans vs. X-men (via ComicsVerse)

The following is an article I wrote for ComicsVerse. Just thought I'd share it here. Enjoy!

Did you hear? Marvel is pitching another hero-versus-hero event for this winter. Again.

We shouldn’t be too surprised. Ever since 2005, when the first CIVIL WAR sold like tacos at a Deadpool convention, this has been the go-to story for big Marvel events. It’s not enough to see Captain America punch the Red Skull in the jaw anymore. We need to see him knock Tony Stark’s teeth out. It may be overplayed, but it sells and we can’t blame Marvel for giving the people what they want.

There’s just one big problem with this upcoming event: It involves the X-Men and the Inhumans. On paper, this looks like a diet version of AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, but people still drink Diet Coke and tolerate the taste. If it can pit another couple of superhero teams together and get the message boards going, then why wouldn’t it be a good idea? It’s working with CIVIL WAR II. So, what’s the problem?

To illustrate this issue, here’s a little thought experiment. Go back and watch the first BACK TO THE FUTURE movie. Specifically, watch the scene in the diner where Marty McFly has to fight off Biff Tanner. Now, imagine for a second that Biff Tanner is given a shot of steroids, a fully-loaded AK-47, and an unlimited supply of crystal meth. That should give you a good idea of the problem with an X-Men vs. Inhumans conflict.

To their credit, Marvel is making a concerted effort to set up this clash. Since the nebulous eight-month gap that followed SECRET WARS and the excessive flexibility it allows, they’ve set up a status quo where mutants have been sterilized yet again after having just solved their last sterilization plot three years ago. This time, they have the Inhumans to thank for this. It turns out that the big green cloud that turns people into Inhumans also poisons mutants.

For some reason, Cyclops has a problem with this. Given how the solution to the last sterilization crisis landed him in jail, who can blame him? Naturally, he fights the Inhumans in an off-panel conflict and somehow screws up so badly that mutants are more hated than head lice, cockroaches, and the IRS combined.

The Inhumans, on the other hand, are celebrated and subject to zero Sentinel attacks, despite having their base near a heavily populated area. By all accounts, the X-Men have a long list of reasons to go to war with the Inhumans. At the top of the list: the fact that their sacred cloud is roaming the Earth, killing and sterilizing mutants everywhere, and they aren’t doing much about it. The only surprise is that it took this long for Marvel to make an event of it.

Despite these efforts, the problem remains. There’s a fundamental difference between mutants and Inhumans from a conceptual standpoint. Those differences make it impossible, if not downright asinine, for this to be a balanced conflict. It goes back to what mutants stand for. They are, and always have been, a metaphor for minority struggles. They came about in the early 1960s, just as the Civil Rights Movement was taking hold in America. They embody the traits of the marginalized, the denigrated, and the persecuted.

That’s still a powerful message today. There are outgroups and outcasts in every era. They didn’t ask to be born in their current condition. This is just the hand they were dealt. In the same way that we can’t change the color of our skin or the gender we’re attracted to, mutants and minorities like them can’t change what they are.

Compare that to the Inhumans. They are, by their own admission, not a product of nature or evolution. They’re a product of alien science experiments. That alone doesn’t set them apart too much. However, like the disclaimer in every pharmaceutical ad, it’s the fine print that makes the details so frustrating. From a mutant perspective, and a minority perspective for that matter, these details are an affront to the struggles they endure.

It’s not enough for someone to be born with Inhuman DNA. In order for them to become what they are, they have to be exposed to a very specific catalyst. In this case, it’s the Terrigen Mists. This isn’t some unseen, unpredictable force. It’s big green cloud. It’s tangible, it’s predictable, and it sweeps through an area like fog. It does nothing other than activate latent Inhumans. It’s a convenient, if not crass, way to gain superpowers. It also makes the theme of the Inhumans the complete antithesis of mutants.

As I previously stated, mutants are a metaphor for minorities. They are born this way. Just being alive is what makes them mutants. With the Inhumans, it takes an outside force to make them what they are. As a real-world parallel, that’s like saying that it takes a specific form of trauma to make somebody gay or it takes a specific kind of mental illness to make someone transgender. These are the arguments that anti-gay protesters have been using for decades. The Pat Robertsons and Rick Santorums of the world say that nobody is born this way. They say these people have a disease that must be cured.

A mutant doesn’t have control over how and when their powers manifest. For most of them, it just means surviving until puberty. An Inhuman, on the other hand, does have some level of control. Even if they don’t know whether they carry Inhuman DNA, they can just avoid the Terrigen Mists and not take a chance. This ensures they never manifest any Inhuman powers. If a parent doesn’t want their child to become an Inhuman, they can just hide them or take them to a place where the Terrigen Mists can’t get them. The parents of mutant children don’t have that luxury. It’s completely antithetical to what it means to be a minority. It’s not something that can be avoided.

The Inhumans, as a concept, are an affront to the themes of the X-Men. Despite their differences, though, the two teams could still share certain struggles. Their powers and their ability to control them makes them different. There’s still some chance that they can relate on some levels. Unfortunately, that chance passed them by long ago.

Whereas mutants emerged all over the world within various parts of human society, the Inhumans remained completely isolated and cut off from the world for most of their history. Not only that, but they govern themselves in a manner that has one too many similarities with Game of Thrones and North Korea.

The Inhumans are not run like the Xavier Institute, where there’s a mentor who simply offers others a chance to learn and grow in a safe environment. They operate in a rigid caste system the likes of which would give Mahatma Ghandi a heart attack. There’s a royal family whose power is absolute. There’s an entire population of slaves in the Alpha Primitives. Those that aren’t slaves are still isolated from the rest of the world, immersed in a kingdom whose traditions include an inherent mistrust of outsiders and a xenophobia that Ann Coulter would find extreme.

These are the X-Men’s foes: a group of super-powered, racist, xenophobic slave owners who didn’t bother doing anything for anyone until they couldn’t stay hidden anymore. It wasn’t until the events of Infinity War that the Inhumans actually made an effort to contribute to the world. Say what you will about the X-Men and their inability to foster peace with humanity. At least they actively tried to integrate with the human race. They tried to make meaningful contributions to civilization. The Inhumans never did squat until they didn’t have the luxury of staying hidden anymore.

Despite this, the Marvel Universe accepts the Inhumans as heroes. They still carry themselves as heroes. They’re still celebrated as heroes. Wannabe villains still send killer robots to attack mutant schools, but a society of racist xenophobic slave-owners? They somehow get a pass.

The very foundations of these two teams are at odds with one another. Part of what makes superhero clashes like CIVIL WAR work is that both sides have valid points. It’s possible to argue the merits of either side. It’s a little bit harder to argue the merits of a side whose traditions include racism, xenophobia, and slavery. They have to fight the X-Men, who do have a long history of helping other superhero teams and saving the world, even when it’s not convenient.

It simply can’t be an equal fight. Marvel has been trying to raise the profile for the Inhumans, albeit for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways. They dedicated an entire season of AGENTS OF SHIELD to making the Inhumans popular. The problem is that they did this by trying to make them exactly like mutants. This simply cannot be done. Making the Inhumans into mutants is like making the New York Yankees into underdogs. It cannot be done logically, believably, or with a straight face.

Despite this, the Inhumans still have the advantage in one key area: movie rights. It’s a poorly-kept secret that Marvel gives preferential treatment to characters and properties whose movie rights they own. They may deny this, but how else do they explain the X-Men and Fantastic Four being absent from cartoons, toys, posters, video games, and various merchandise? What other reason could they have for going out of their way to marginalize mutants while giving extra leniency to a secret society of super-powered beings who segregate themselves from the world, maintain a rigid caste system, and only act heroic when it’s convenient?

It’s debatable just how much movie rights will be a factor in Inhumans vs. X-Men. From the perspective of Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire, the writers of this event, it may not be more than a passing thought. Unfortunately, the perception has already weaved its way into the reality that message boards and paranoid comic fans form in their heads. Anyone who has been following politics during this year’s election season understands all too well just how much paranoia and perception play into debate.

Whatever the outcome and whatever the legal undertones, the concept between Inhumans vs. X-Men is flawed. On one side, you have a minority that has been forcibly sterilized twice in the past decade. On the other, you have a team with a tradition of racism, xenophobia, and slavery. It’s not a battle between heroes as much as it is an exercise in contrivance. The only way this story is going to work on any level is for the fundamentals to be contrived in the mold of Bat Shark Repellant. For the same company that gave us CIVIL WAR and AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, Marvel has no excuses.

Friday, October 21, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 143: Proactive Regression Part 1 PREVIEW!

Some characters don’t get a chance to shine until others screw up or screw themselves over. The X-men are finding this out the hard way in the X-men comics right now. Marvel is screwing them over or having them screw themselves to make way for other characters, namely those whose movie rights they own. I don’t intend to be that petty in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. That said, there are some characters in X-men Supreme that have been biding their time, looking for an opportunity.

Well, that opportunity came during the X-men’s six-week absence in wake of the Outer Limits arc. They left a lot of confused enemies and allies in their wake. A Warlock factory was destroyed, Wanda Maximoff was injured, Alex Summers is now calling the shots on Genosha, and President Kelly is prepared to take extreme measures. The X-men’s allies, including Emma Frost and General Grimshaw, have done their best to keep things from getting out of hand. Now that the X-men are back, they’ll need to do more.

In addition to the destruction and confusion left in their wake, another enemy of the X-men is plotting behind the scenes. When X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation began, the biggest threat to the X-men and human/mutant relations was the Mutant Liberation Front. Under Toad’s leadership, they attacked cities and infrastructure. Then, in the Natural Disorder arc, they attempted to deliver the killing blow. The X-men stopped them, but not in time to save the life of Polaris, which had a major impact on Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Havok.

Beyond the scars left by this attack, the events Natural Disorder arc did not see the complete destruction of the Mutant Liberation Front. While Toad was apprehended, some managed to escape. Chief among them is Stryfe. He already made his presence felt back in X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope when he tried to start a riot during the Inauguration Day arc. He nearly ruined President Kelly’s first day in office, but the X-men stopped him.

That got him arrested, but he was later freed by Toad in X-men Supreme Issue 110: Prison Break. While he did follow Toad in the Mutant Liberation Front, they frequently clashed. Stryfe did not entirely share Toad’s approach to liberating their kind. Now that Toad is not in the picture anymore, he’s ready to strike with a new plan and he’s intent on avoiding Toad’s mistakes.

That means the Mutant Liberation Front is back and they’re preparing to strike at a time when both sides are vulnerable. Stryfe already has a collection of former Morlocks and allies, all of which are on the run and trying to avoid Toad’s fate. He also doesn’t have the luxury of playing the long game, wearing down the X-men and their allies. He needs to strike now. The Mutant Liberation Front is poised for a new attack and this one promises to be their most devastating. That attack will be the centerpiece of a new arc called Proactive Regression and its effects will shake the X-men Supreme fanfiction series to its core. As always, I’ve prepared a preview of just how major those effects will be.

“Tell me what we know about this mutant we’re tracking,” said Ororo, who kept looking around for signs of trouble.

“There ain’t much to know. Her name’s Joanna Cargill. Calls herself Frenzy when she’s collecting a paycheck from White Cell,” said Wolverine as he kept sniffing the air around him, “Mystique and Elf pulled her name from some data they stole from Department H. Hank and his girl identified her as the Mutant Liberation Front’s newest member. They think she’s their main link to White Cell.”

“Do you think Stryfe agreed to that?” questioned Ororo.

“Not a snowball’s chance in a Louisiana heat wave,” scoffed Gambit, “Stryfe be the kind of homme that don’t share well. Ain’t no way he would pass up a chance at leading his own crew.”

“Not unless White Cell gave him a compelling reason,” said Warpath, “From what I’ve learned, these guys aren’t in the business of simply screwing people over. They’re not the IRS. Pretty much everything they do is for mutual benefit.”

“So what kind of benefit could a pack of strays like the Mutant Liberation Front offer?” asked Rogue.

“Don’t know yet. That’s something we’ll have to beat out of Miss Frenzy, among other things,” snarled Wolverine.

Wolverine walked faster, leading the others to a busy intersection between a high end boutique and an overpriced salon. On the other side of the streets there were a string of restaurants. All were pretty busy. The traffic across the intersection was pretty constant. A large volume of cars and trucks passed by and spewed diesel exhaust into the air. It obscured the scent, but not enough for Wolverine to use it. He stopped right at the crosswalk as the light on the adjacent side turned red.

“Don’t tell me you’ve lost her trail, Wolverine. I’ll smash you with one of these cars if you’ve lost it!” said Warpath impatiently.

“Like you could, bub,” quipped Wolverine, “And I ain’t lost the trail. She was definitely here. I just can’t figure which direction she was going.”

“Maybe someone gave her a chance to do a little shopping. That would make her the lucky one,” commented Rogue.

“No, Frenzy is all business. I’m sure of it,” said Warpath strongly, “My brother mentioned this woman a lot in his journal. He singled her out as being deeply involved in some special wing of White Cell. He would’ve tracked her down himself if he hadn’t…”

“Calm down, James,” coaxed Ororo, sensing he was getting worked up, “We know this is personal for you. We’re trying to help you. It doesn’t help any of us if you let your emotions get the better of you.”

“If he did that, he would’ve felt up Miss Munroe back at the airport,” said Rogue under her breath.

“That ain’t funny, cherè,” grumbled Gambit, who still didn’t like the idea of Warpath being attraced to Ororo.

“All of you, shut up!” barked Wolverine as he sniffed deeper, “I’m smelling something new. The trail gets…messed up at some point. First it went down one street. Then it turned at another. Then it started moving faster.”

“Faster? Is it possible she was attacked?” asked Ororo.

“Nah, if that were the case there would be a lot more screaming. This is deliberate. It’s almost as if she stopped and…”

Wolverine paused as he followed the direction of the scent across the street. It took a moment for him to process. When his nose finally caught up with his brain, his eyes widened. At this same moment, the light across the street turned green.

From behind several cars, a large pick-up truck carrying farm equipment sped across at high speeds. Startled pedestrians got out of the way as fast they could. About halfway across the intersection, it swerved so that it was in a direct collision course with the X-men.

“Ah hell!” grunted the feral mutant.

“LOOK OUT!” exclaimed Rogue.

These are volatile times in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Charles Xavier may be back in action and walking again, but the X-men are going to undergo some serious upheavals. Granted, those upheavals don’t involve sterilization or the callous killing of major characters. I’d like to avoid that with X-men Supreme. I’d also like to make this fanfiction series as awesome as it can possibly be. That means any amount of feedback I get is vital. Make no mistake. I do take any and all feedback I get seriously. If I’m doing something wrong in this fanfiction series, I want to know about it. I want to fix it. So please take the time to send me your feedback. Either post it directly in the issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Channeling Heroism Through Infamy: Infamous Iron Man #1

The following is my review of Infamous Iron Man #1, which was posted on

It's become an annoyingly popular trend in recent years, turning heroes into villains and villains into heroes. It's like Marvel and DC Comics are trying desperately to make their own version of Walter White. They want a character who can fluctuate between heroism and villainy without the aid of mind control, evil clones, or shape-shifting aliens.

It's entirely understandable. A character that can navigate these narrow, poorly defined lines between heroism and villainy tends to be much more compelling. We don't know if this character will help rescue a cat in a tree or just set the tree on fire. They're unpredictable and volatile, never needing more than a friendly nudge to cross those lines that Superman and Captain America don't dare cross, at least without the aid of massive retcons.

This is what makes the premise of Infamous Iron Man #1 so compelling. It attempts to turn Marvel's alpha dog villain, Victor Von Doom, and into a genuine, non-mind controlled hero. That's right up there with making Thanos a nun in terms of seemingly ridiculous concepts. However, Doom's development in the pages of Invincible Iron Man, coupled with the end of Secret Wars, puts him in a unique position to do just that. Now, Brian Michael Bendis is ready to realize that potential.

The details of the story in Infamous Iron Man #1 don't involve Doom just stepping into a new suit of armor, calling himself Iron Man, and shooting the nearest Hydra agent. Instead, Bendis crafts a narrative that makes abundantly clear that Victor Von Doom is uniquely qualified to embrace this role. He makes it feel like a natural progression of the character that emerged in Invincible Iron Man. This is a version of Dr. Doom that has a very different outlook after the events of Secret Wars. What he does and why he does it feels organic, appropriate, and uniquely engaging.

There's no inversion spell. There's no clone involved. There's not even some sudden moment of clarity. Victor Von Doom's decision to become Iron Man fits perfectly with his ongoing efforts to do more than just terrorize the world with metal masks, evil boasting, and Doombots. He's trying to find a new place in the greater Marvel landscape and becoming Iron Man, especially in wake of Civil War II, is as fitting a place he'll find without the aid of Doombots.

What makes this setup even more compelling is the context surrounding Dr. Doom, even before the events of Secret Wars. Bendis makes it a point to explore this context, going back to Doom's days in the Illuminati where he didn't shy away from such infamy. In doing so, Bendis raises some important questions for Dr. Doom, courtesy of the Red Hood. Sure, these questions get the Red Hood shot and transported to India, but they're still valid questions.

The primary question at hand is what exactly drives Victor Von Doom at this point in his development? For many years, he defined himself as the one man who could outsmart Reed Richards. He defined himself as the one who mastered science and sorcery. He also defined himself by his desire to save his mother's soul from Mephisto. These are all core components of the evil, menacing Dr. Doom who will gladly kick a puppy if it makes him more superior to Reed.

Now, Reed Richards and his family are gone. His mastery of science and sorcery is beyond dispute. He even managed to finally save his mother's soul. On top of this, he has his own country, more money than any super-villain can reasonably steal in one lifetime, and an army of Doombots to ensure he'll never have to clean his castle or cook his meals. What else is left for Victor Von Doom?

Infamous Iron Man #1 shows that Dr. Doom has plenty to offer. He demonstrates as such in a lopsided, but revealing battle against Diablo, who for some reason thought kidnapping Maria Hill was a good idea. He also connects with Tony Stark's former lover, Dr. Amara Perera. He articulates through words, actions, and Alex Maleev's detailed artwork that there's a need in the Marvel universe and he's uniquely equipped to fill it.

Moreover, Doom makes the prospect of him being Iron Man seem exciting in the sense that we've never seen an Iron Man like this before. Tony Stark may have exercised questionable decision-making skills, both in and out of his armor, but there are lines he doesn't cross. He makes clear that when there's a conflict to confront, he'll play the part of the hero. With Victor Von Doom, we don't have such certainty.

How will Dr. Doom deal with a Hydra invasion of New York? How will he deal with the likes of the Mandarin, AIM, or angry Stark Industry shareholders? It's clear how a hero would handle them. It's not at all clear how Victor Von Doom will handle them and that's what makes the idea so compelling.

In the end, this idea is the greatest selling point of Infamous Iron Man #1. It gives context and reason for Dr. Doom taking on the mantle of Iron Man. Beyond that idea though, the details are fairly standard. There is some action, some significant character drama, and some mysterious reveals. However, some of these details are too short or abrupt. These are details that can easily be fleshed out in future issues, but it limits the substance of the story.

Despite this, the style points alone make Infamous Iron Man #1 one of the most intriguing development not involving a superhero civil war in quite some time. There's still something uniquely off-putting about rooting for Victor Von Doom to become a hero. He still makes clear that he's Dr. Doom. He still comes off as the kind of man who will punch Reed Richards in the jaw and blame the Avengers for it.

However, he also comes off as a character entering an exciting new phase of his development. He's not hiding from his infamy. He's channeling it into a new endeavor. It may not be as satisfying to him as punching Reed Richards in the jaw, but it gives him a bold new purpose. Whether it makes him famous or infamous remains to be seen, but it promises to be an exciting story.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Death of X #2: Nuff Said!

There are some people who just don't give enough fucks to hide their bias. I consider myself to be one of them, but I'm a drunk with no power, no influence, and poor impulse control. I didn't have a lot of fucks to give in the first place. For the folks in charge of X-men, a 50-year-old multi-billion dollar franchise, their capacity for giving fucks is inherently greater. That means they have fewer excuses and when they stop hiding their own bias, it's just a dick move.

That's what Death of X is to many X-men fans, an overtly bias dick move. They've made it painfully clear whose dicks they want to suck in this story. The X-men, under Cyclops' leadership, are grim and solemn, looking to start a war the second they have a chance. The Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are all sunshine and rainbows. Hell, Crystal probably shits chocolate milkshakes in their world. They've set up a horrendously bias, overtly unbalanced conflict that's about to take a bit steaming shit all over the X-men and it's not going to smell like chocolate. Death of X #2 is basically another dose of laxatives and I'll be holding my nose for the duration of this review.

My nose may suffer, but my eyes are more than happy to take in Aaron Kuder's artwork as Storm meets up with Medusa, the current ruler of the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. She basically tells us the same shit we found out in the first issue. Their giant green fart cloud is killing mutants and Storm, like everyone else in the X-men, has a big fucking problem with that.

Medusa kindly points out that the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners know nothing of these effects. As far as they know, their big fart cloud has the same impact on mutants as potato chips, minus the salty aftertaste. She comes off as sincere and shocked, but only to the extent that a North Korean diplomat comes off as sincere and shocked when he finds out his country has a bad reputation. At the very least, she seems willing to work with Storm on dealing with this issue, which is more than North Korea has ever managed. That much, I'll concede.

They have some pretty in depth discussions, but not much comes of it. Again, we're basically told shit we already know. And just as before, the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are portrayed as all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn shit. Medusa carries herself as being just as shocked and appalled by this development. She even enlists Crystal to notify her that the next big fart cloud is heading for Madrid and they should get any mutants in its path into the next time zone. It's a wholly unreasonable request with an unreasonable time frame, but that's pretty much every Tuesday in the Marvel universe.

It seems like a concession, but there are X-men not named Cyclops who aren't convinced. Forge rightly points out to Storm that Medusa may be more inclined to help her own people than a bunch of mutants who have a nasty habit of getting attacked by killer robots. Remember, this is Forge. He builds awesome shit. He doesn't regularly beat Reed Richards in chess or anything, but if even he can sense that the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners may not be entirely sincere, that's saying something.

There's a concerted effort here to make Medusa come off as an innocent, untainted victim here. She never gives the impression that the mutant-killing effects of their giant fart cloud were known. She just worries what may happen if one single mutant suspects as such. Once again, she comes off smelling like Taylor Swift's perfume.

Not surprisingly, Cyclops doesn't get that same effort. Before learning all the facts and assessing the situation, which he has done compulsively and effectively for nearly 50 fucking years, he decides to basically fuck himself over and go for broke. That involves using the collective psychic talents of Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos to announce to the world that the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners lied, their fart cloud kills mutants, and he's going to wage a fucking war to stop it.

Now let me stop for a moment, unclench my nose, and whiff in the bullshit here. This is the same Cyclops who, not so long ago, decided to do the exact opposite in Uncanny X-men #600. This is a character who, in nearly every other situation, assesses the situation carefully and does not jump the gun. He leaves that shit to Wolverine and others like him. Now here he is, throwing lit matches at a grease fire, and doing everything possible to NOT think this through. I expect this kind of shit from Wolverine, Deadpool, and even Spider-Man. For Cyclops though, it doesn't just feel forced. It feels like someone just spit on a blank piece of paper and called it the Mona Lisa.

He doesn't just stop at warning mutants either. He basically takes the objectivity of a North Korean reporter and claims this fart cloud will kill humans as well. Naturally, it causes the shit to hit the fan in Madrid. It's the exact opposite of sound strategy. Sure, it may rally humans and mutants to his side, but he's a fucking X-man. He knows what happens when people rally around fear and paranoia. Killer robots usually aren't far behind. The fact that Cyclops, the same skilled tactician that beat Bastion and pwned the Avengers, can't see this is a fucking joke. It's so forced that it kills any sense of drama or impact.

Along with a whole lot of terrified mutants and humans, the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners get the message as well. It completely changes their mission. In the last issue, it was all sunshine and roses when they traveled to Japan to watch their fart cloud roll through a populated area. Hell, some treated it like a 4th of July barbecue. Now, an entire city is losing their shit because Cyclops delivered a psychic message that gave them plenty of reason to. It makes their task of getting mutants out of the way that much harder. Again, they're set up as the heroes and the victims. It feels about as sincere as the comments section of an anti-feminist message board because it had to be so fucking forced.

At the very least, it leads to some decent action that allows Aaron Kuder to show off his art skills. Crystal heads out into the giant fart cloud and meets up with Storm, who is uniquely equipped to deal with fart clouds. It's enough to make you wonder why the fuck the X-men ever had to move to Limbo in the first place. They got someone who can control the fucking clouds. I'm sure there's a reason, but I'm not sure it's a non-bullshit reason.

Bullshit reason or not, it does the trick. It diverts the fart cloud from Madrid and saves whatever humans or mutants would've been fucked over. This still doesn't change the fact that Cyclops scared the everloving shit out of everybody with his psychic message, but it at least mitigates one problem. That's the most the X-men can hope for these days. That's probably the most that Fox's lawyers will allow.

It's still not much of a victory in the X-men's eyes. While the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are just inconvenienced by this shit, they're burying one of their fallen friends. On Muir Island, some of Cyclops' team, as well as some visitors, show up to bury Multiple Man and his clones. It's another grim, solemn scene that highlights the bleak, dire state of the X-men. It's sad, but it's consistent with the overall theme of the story so I'll give it that.

There's even a nice moment with Colossus and Magik, which is also kind of forced because before Uncanny X-men #600, these two had a lot of reasons to hate each other. Now, they just brush that shit off without really confronting it. That may be a good way to deal with internet trolls, but issues with demon-loving siblings? That's pushing it. Still, it's a sincere moment that reinforces the X-men's sentiment towards the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. They think their big fart cloud is sacred. They'll never just destroy it. They'll gladly let mutant suffer. That's just how fucked the mutant race is these days.

Back in Madrid, people are still losing their shit. The X-men decide, reasonably so, that they need to bring in some backup to settle people the fuck down. So how does Crystal decide to help? She decides, unreasonably so, to use the powers of the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners' lasted recruit from the last issue. Those powers involve putting everybody, including the X-men, to sleep. In a busy city with people driving cars, holding babies, and walking down stairs, this ranks right up there with mixing laxatives with sleeping pills in terms of a shitty idea.

They don't even have the fucking decency to warn Storm and her team. They just see all this chaos, decide it's too much of an inconvenience to actually do something, and resort to putting everyone to sleep. It works, but it's as big a dick move as anything Cyclops did. At the very least, Cyclops warned them of imminent danger. The Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners just created new danger by putting everyone to sleep without first checking whether they were holding babies, hot cups of coffee, or lit matches. Even so, they'll still come off as the innocent victims. It's so forced at this point that most people reading this will probably be numb to it at this point and I don't like being numbed unless weed is involved.

So now the X-men and the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners have even more reasons to kill each other. For a moment, they're able to help one another. Then one side decides to put them all to sleep without warning them. Between this and Cyclops' bullshit, I think both sides have disqualified themselves from being labeled competent diplomats. So what's the solution? You bring in someone who's as diplomatic as a recovering crack head. That someone is Magneto.

It probably helps that Emma Frost is the one to contact him. Hell, she probably showed him her tits just to sweeten the deal. Magneto stopped putting up with Cyclops' shit towards the end of his non-revolution. Now, he has a chance to flex his nuts again with the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. That means he's probably the most objective, untainted, unforced personality in this conflict. How sad is that? it awesome?

Well, I may have been better off just amputating my nose completely. Like Fox News, I never expected it to be fair and balanced. At the very least, I hoped there would at least be some fucking effort. Guess I was hoping for too much. This is not Civil War or Civil War II. Marvel is not trying to make this a balanced conflict in the slightest. They basically force Cyclops into being irrational, impulsive, paranoid, and stupid. This is the same guy who instinctively analyzes, strategizes, and counters every battle plan as a habit. Now, we're supposed to accept he's this fucking stupid? After waging war against Bastion, the Avengers, and the Phoenix Force?

Well toss a pile of shit in a bucket, mix in some ice, and call it Bud Light because that's exactly what we get in Death of X #2. There's no effort to assess or analyze the situation. It just jumps into full-blown conflict between the X-men and Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners without anybody thinking it through. There's no organization. There's no context. There's no possible way for there to be any drama whatsoever. Again, you can also tell which side Marvel favors. It basically ensures this story is so forced and contrived that it's not the least bit compelling.

Now I'm not going to blame the writers here. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Aaron Kuder are basically given a shit sandwich here that they have to eat. Too much of this reeks of the same agenda that ended the Fantastic Four's long-running series. They HAVE to make Cyclops evil and after Uncanny X-men #600, they really don't have the tools to do that. They HAVE to force it. I don't blame them, but that doesn't make the story any less shitty. If you're at all hoping for some context and depth, kill those hopes with a machete. They're not here and if Fox's lawyers have anything to say about it, they'll be legally barred for the foreseeable future.

Final Score: 3 out of 10

Friday, October 14, 2016

The New Red Queen Chapter 2: Bold Benefits is LIVE!

Whenever I do one of my sexy side-projects, I do it knowing that it's a small-scale side-story that isn't intended to be too epic or elaborate. I do it because it's just a fun, sexy departure from my usual work with X-men Supreme. I don't intend for them to be on the same scale as other stories, nor do I expect them to be much of a hit.

That's why the response I got from "The New Red Queen" was such a shocker. Who know a story about a overtly sexier version of Mary Jane Watson with Emma Frost on the side would have such an appeal? Now that I write that down, I want to kick my own ass for not seeing it. Then again, that makes the surprise all the more pleasant.

For this, I sincerely thank all those who read and supported this story. I really appreciate it. Honestly, I had no idea that demand for a sexier version of Mary Jane Watson was that high. It's good to know that the concept has so much appeal. That made writing the next chapter and making it as sexy as possible all the more vital.

I'm sorry I couldn't get it out sooner. I understand there are many restless Mary Jane Watson fans out there who have had a nasty pain in their balls since Spider-Man made that fateful deal with Mephisto. I hope this story can ease that pain, among other things. If the response I get continues to be this strong, I'll definitely consider expanding this world and all the sexy possibilities. I'll also make it a point to ensure that I update this story within at least three weeks of posting a new chapter. I don't want the wait to be that long. That's just cruel and our collective balls can only take so much.

That being said, I hope that this new chapter is worth the wait. It continues what the first chapter started, setting Mary Jane Watson on a new path towards a new job that maximizes her sexiness. The world needs more Mary Jane Watson and I hope this story can contribute to that. Enjoy!

Again, thank you all very much for supporting this story. Really, I did not expect the response I got. If it continues, I'd love to expand the concept. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, I'm happy to hear them. Anything that involves expanding a story where Mary Jane Watson is sexier can only help make the world a better place. Nuff said!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Polish of the Dark Side: Darth Vader #25

The following is my review of Darth Vader #25, which was posted on

In the post-Breaking Bad era of popular culture, it's not enough for our villains to just be villainous anymore. The qualities of overtly evil characters like Lex Luthor, Thanos, and every James Bond villain that ever existed are no longer sufficient. These characters deserve layers, personalities, and development every bit as much as the heroes. It seems like an unwarranted consideration for villains, but it's one that helps craft more compelling narratives.

In this respect, Darth Vader is a character that was ahead of his time. When he shows up in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, he carries himself as a traditional bad-to-the-bone villain who will blow up a planet full of sick puppies in order to crush the rebels. Then, by the end of Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and the maligned prequels that followed, he becomes a more complex villain who does what he does for reasons beyond just enjoying the cries of dead Alderaneans.

Kieron Gillen takes this complexity and hits the ground running full speed when his Darth Vader series begins. He succeeds where three prequels with production budgets north of $100 million failed, building new layers to Darth Vader as a character and as a villain. Gillen never tries to make Vader an anti-hero. He doesn't try to make him sympathetic either. He just uses this series Darth Vader a more compelling character. As such, Darth Vader #25 acts as the cherry on top of a very delicious cake.

Make no mistake. Darth Vader does nothing remotely heroic in this issue. Darth Vader #25 still occurs within the context of the period before Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This means he's not remotely close to the character who sacrifices himself to save his son. He's still on that path, but he's going to dig himself into a deeper hole before he gets there.

For much of this series, Gillen has Darth Vader focus on a different goal, but one that's more relevant for this particular part of the Star Wars mythos. It begins with him acknowledging that he failed to prevent the destruction of the Death Star. He gives Emperor Palpatine a valid reason beyond mustache-curling evil to question the competence of his apprentice. It's Darth Vader's job to prove himself again and, true to his devious legacy, he goes the extra parsec.

It doesn't just involve Darth Vader confronting and defeating the Emperor's efforts to defeat Cylo, who the Emperor taps as a possible replacement. It also involves Vader himself going behind the back of his Emperor, carrying out missions that undermine his blind obedience to his master. This is what led him to cross paths with Dr. Aphra, Triple-0, and BT, three characters that frequently steal the show in this series. There's just something inherently charming about a murderous version of C-3P0.

These subversive efforts, alongside his efforts at redeeming himself, give extra weight to Darth Vader's villainous legacy. It's a legacy that doesn't really need to be refined, especially in wake of the ill-fated, Gungan-filled prequels. However, this extra layer of complexity acts like the extra layer of frosting on a cake. It makes everything sweeter in the end.

The battle against Cylo comes to an end, one that involves a creative yet destructive use of the Jedi mind trick. Darth Vader's dealings with Dr. Aphra come to a head as well. All the secrets and plotting create such a unique dynamic between Darth Vader and Dr. Aphra, making for a confrontation with the Emperor that carries a significant amount of dramatic weight.

Anyone hoping for Darth Vader to show mercy for Dr. Aphra after all she's done for him will be disappointed. Within the context of this stage of the Star Wars mythos, nobody should be surprised either. Darth Vader at this stage of development is willing to encase Han Solo in carbonite and cut his son's hand off. He's more than willing to toss a loyal ally like Dr. Aphra out of an airlock. If anything, that's as merciful as he can possibly be at this point.

While not surprising, this moment carries weight because Gillen puts time and effort into crafting a unique relationship between Darth Vader and Dr. Aphra. Those efforts help give the moments in Darth Vader #25 the dramatic weight it needs to have an impact. It feels much more meaningful than Darth Vader just force choking an entire legion of Gungans, but is every bit as satisfying.

There's no question that Darth Vader is still bad to the cybernetic bone at this stage in the Star Wars mythos. His battle against Cylo and his confrontation with Dr. Aphra prove that beyond any doubt. However, Gillen does offer some hints that the Darth Vader who goes onto sacrifice himself to save his son is starting to emerge.

These hints are somewhat subtle, sometimes excessively so. They show mostly through the crisp artwork of Salvador Larroca. It's not as overt in Darth Vader #25 as it is in previous issues of this series, but the subtext is there. It doesn't add much to the dramatic weight of the story, which does skew the balance more to the Dark Side. However, given the context of the story, it's still appropriate.

Kieron Gillen didn't set out to remake or redefine Darth Vader with this series. More than anything else, he works to reinforce the devious, villainous part of the character that the prequels tried too hard to circumvent. There's still an internal struggle here that will manifest in the final minutes of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, but the tone of the narrative in Darth Vader #25 is clear. This narrative embraces the dark side and the results are impressive. Most impressive.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Revealing A (Bias) Narrative: Death of X #1

The following is my review of Death of X #1, which was posted on

Certain characters always seem to have a target on their backs. Sometimes, those targets are so big that it doesn't take the skill of Hawkeye to hit it. It's not hard to figure out which characters have those targets. If they have alternate versions of themselves running around and aren't part of a franchise whose movie rights are wholly owned by Marvel and their Disney overlords, they should be very afraid. Unfortunately for Cyclops, he checks all of those boxes.

Since the 8-month time skip that spun out of Secret Wars, there's an ongoing mystery within the X-men comics and it's been dragging to a point where the frustration overshadows the intrigue. Cyclops did something horrible. He did something so horrible that every one of his friends and former teammates despise and disavow him. All the good he ever accomplished, from saving the mutant race from extinction to dealing with Wolverine on a daily basis, may as well be a moot point.

It's the ultimate character assassination, destroying Cyclops' entire legacy off-panel. Brett Ratner's efforts in the third X-men movie just aren't enough anymore. Now, after overly vague hints and constant whining from characters who once called him their friend, we finally get a chance to see the horrific details of why Cyclops is the worst thing to happen to mutants since Chuck Austin. Death of X #1 sets up the narrative that will finally fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, it's not a very balanced narrative.

There are two primary plots unfolding in this story. One involves the X-men investigating a distress call on Muir Island from Multiple Man. The other involves the Inhumans overseeing the Terrigen Mist as it blows through a heavily populated city in Japan. Writers Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule create a very different, if not polar opposite, tone with each plot. One is a hopeful, upbeat, cheerful endeavor right out of Ms. Marvel's fan fiction. The other is a solemn, dire confrontation with despair right out of Magneto's worst nightmares.

These contrasting tones are somewhat appropriate in that they reflect the vastly different fortunes that these franchises have gone since Secret Wars. For the X-men, any mutant not associated with Deadpool is a target subject to the strictest interpretation of Murphy's Law. If there's a way for mutants to be marginalized, denigrated, or shipped off to a demon-infested haven, then it will happen. It's just a matter of crafting it in a manner that doesn't require the Scarlett Witch going crazy.

The situation is pretty much the exact opposite for the Inhumans. They're basically on a winning streak at a black jack table where the dealer and pit boss doesn't care that they're counting cards. They're population is growing. Their influence, from the royal family to young Muslim girls from Jersey City, is expanding. They're a prominent part of a major Marvel TV show in Agents of SHIELD and the subject of a major crossover event in Civil War II. They've managed to do all of this without ever being attacked by killer robots, sterilized by magic spells, or cloned to an excessive degree.

While such contrasting tones are appropriate for the context of the story in Death of X, there's a clear and unambiguous bias that shows in the characterizations of both teams. The X-men are bleak and dire. The Inhumans are cheery and upbeat, even in the face of a Hydra attack. Reading through this issue, contrasting the portrayal of the X-men against that of the Inhumans, it's painfully obvious whose movie rights Marvel and Disney fully own.

This is most obvious in the way Cyclops is portrayed. For most of the story, he seems to pick up where he left off at the end of Uncanny X-men #600. He still has the respect and admiration of his teammates. He carries himself as competent, thorough leader through a mission that requires him to walk over the bodies of dead and dying mutants. Then, the unambiguous bias hits and undermines that characterization.

Cyclops, and his fellow X-men by proxy, are set up to be the villains of this narrative. They're dark and depressing whereas the Inhumans are sunny and upbeat. There's no real sense of balance between the two teams. Cyclops reacts to this revelation that the Terrigen Mists are poisonous to mutants in the same way he reacts to a Sentinel attack. It does not at all fit with the careful, tactful persona that he displays for most of this issue.

To make Cyclops the monster that he eventually becomes, he is effectively forced into this role. He doesn't descend into it. He doesn't stumble into it. This narrative needs a villain and instead of guiding him into that role, he is effectively shoved into it in a way that feels forced and disingenuous to the character.

The end result of Death of X is already established in the events of the post-Secret Wars X-men comics. The appeal of this narrative is the possibility of putting those events in a proper context so that it doesn't feel like Brett Ratner got to decide what happens with Cyclops. Some of that appeal is still present in Death of X #1. The skilled artwork of Aaron Kuder definitely adds to that appeal. However, the bias in the story is just too overt to make the narrative feel balance.

It's a poorly kept secret that Marvel gives preferential treatment to characters whose movie rights are not owned by another company. This doesn't have to make for a bias, unbalanced narrative. That's just the narrative we get with Death of X #1.

The details of what Cyclops did and how the outlook for the mutant race got so bleak remain unresolved, which still gives the overall narrative of Death of X promise. However, given the not-so-subtle undertones of this issue, it's painfully apparent that this conflict between the X-men and the Inhumans will not be a fair fight. Whoever has the advantage in movie rights is likely to come out ahead in more ways than one.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sights and Sentiments from New York Comic Con 2016

It's that magical time of year again! That's right, it's time for the New York Comic Con! It's that wonderful event that those of us too poor/cheap to go to San Diego celebrate once a year. It's like Christmas for comic book geeks and while I can't always say I've been a good boy, it always feels like I get more presents than I deserve at NYCC.

This was a great year for so many reasons. Granted, it comes amidst tough times for X-men fans and Fantastic Four fans. I've documented just how much it sucks to be X-men and F4 fans in my various drunken reviews, but that didn't stop plenty of fans from dressing up as X-men and F4 characters. Even the power of Fox and Disney's lawyers can only go so far.

I even dressed up, albeit not in an overly-elaborate costume. I'm pretty sure I'd have done just as well pretending to be Mystique in disguise. It didn't matter to me though. I still got to sit in on some panels, meet up with some cos-players, and get a few autographs from my favorite writers, including the legend himself, Chris motherfucking Claremont. That alone made the trip awesome.

What made it even more awesome though was one simple observation. While there were plenty of X-men costumes to go around, you know who I didn't see? Any non-Kamala Khan costumes of the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners (also known as the Inhumans, but that title is a very poor depiction of just who and what they are). That's right. There were more Squirrel Girl and Booster Gold cos-players than there were for the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. How sad/awesome is that?

By and large, there were fucktons of Deadpool and Harley Quinn costumes. Hell, those two are always popular, but their movies this year just inspired even more dedication. It was so much fun to see, especially for Deadpool. I think Ryan Reynolds would've shed tears of joy.

So by that measure, I'd say the NYCC is a win for the X-men and a loss for the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. Hell, someone actually booed the big green fart cloud that's killing mutants at one of the panels. This motherfucker is my new hero and should be a hero to X-men fans everywhere. Whoever you are, I owe you a fuckton of beer!

There was so much to do and I only had a single fucking day pass. I hope to get more than that next year, but that didn't keep me from having a damn good time this year. Below are some of the moments I captured during this wonderful experience.

The first thing I saw when I came in. I was giddier than a school-girl on crack.

Gal Gadot's costume for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. I could practically smell the awesome, among other things.

He is Groot. Nuff said!

Supergirl made out of Legos. Again, nuff said!

Deadpool and Hello Kitty. Further proof that Deadpool can be mixed with anything.

One of the MANY Harley Quinn cos-players. Bless their twisted hearts.

Sucks to be a Cyclops fan, but there are still those who carry on.

Been a tough year for Dr. Doom. Josh Trank gives him plenty of motivation to ensure that Infamous Iron Man is awesome.

There's always a place for the classics.

Stranger Things stole the show for all the right reasons. It's one of the few times where men and women wearing the same dress is entirely appropriate.

Powerful forms of Power Ranger artwork everywhere.

The man, the myth, the legend himself! Chris motherfucking Claremont after he signed my copy of Days of Future Past. Awesome guy. He seems to keep getting more awesome with age.

The dedication of cos-players never ceases to astonish me.

Don't know what this is. I just know it's awesome.

Punk rock Spider-Man. It's as awesome as it sounds.

Bruce Timm would be so proud. And probably a little horny.

X-23. Deadly, awesome, and carrying on Logan's legacy.

Ms. Marvel embodies everything the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are NOT.

So many Deadpools. So many forms. So much awesome.

That's someone's actual costume. No bullshit. Give this guy a fucking medal and a hooker!

Chef from South Park had more representation than the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. Nuff said!

Darth Vader fighting a dinosaur. Where else are you going to see something THIS awesome?

Still the greatest F4 movie ever made.

The ultimate Deadpool centerpiece. Pretty sure Ryan Reynolds has this in his living room.

So much pretty, sexy artwork.

Super Sayin for the ladies. Ladies libido now over 9000!

Video games, comics, movies. It doesn't matter. If there's a costume to be made, you'll find it here.

Ninjas and anime love a plenty!

Suicide Squad may have pissed off critics, but fans loved it enough to make costumes out of that. Take THAT Rotten Tomatoes!

Cyclops and Jean Grey are still popular among couples. Suck it Grant Morrison!

Supergirl was well-represented. Melissa Benoist would've been proud.

Had to have been hot in this costume. Just saying.

Crowds upon crowds of nerds. I felt right at home!

Good thing it didn't get too cold. This girl would've had problems.

You gotta admire the fans who make the extra effort.

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps definitely had a presence this year.

So there you have it! That's a brief glimpse into the festivities of New York Comic Con 2016 through the eyes of a drunk. It's as much fun as it looks and sounds. I highly recommend every self-respecting comic book fan attend at least once in their lifetime. I'm convinced that I'll meet my future wife/ex-wife at one of these conventions. It wasn't this one, but I'm certainly open to the possibility. She'll probably be dressed as Wonder Woman, Jean Grey, Mystique, or Power Girl.