Friday, December 30, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 146: Unanswered and Unaccounted is LIVE!

I hope everyone had themselves an awesome Christmas. I hope I can add just a little extra holiday cheer with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Given the current situation in this fanfiction series, as well as the situation with the X-men in the comics, that’s going to be difficult. Both are in a tenuous state at the moment, although X-men Supreme’s current state is considerably different. Nobody has been sterilized. Nobody has been time displaced. Nobody has even been cloned. For X-men, that’s a pretty novel concept these days.

Even without those tried and true X-men tactics, this fanfiction series is entering a dangerous and tenuous time. Ever since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, the human/mutant conflict had clear and visible lines. It was in the very name of Volume 1. It began a mutant revolution, led by Magneto and upended by Charles Xavier and his X-men before it erupted into something more destructive. That revolution put Magneto, the Brotherhood of Mutants, and a sizable chunk of the mutant race on the island of Genosha.

That island became the unofficial capital for mutants. It became their homeland, a sanctuary to which mutants could turn. That sanctuary became more and more necessary as X-men Supreme unfolded. Communities like District X were constantly under siege. Robert Kelly, once an anti-mutant crusader, was elected President of the United States. General Nathan Grimshaw, a tenuous ally with the potential to become a dangerous enemy, established the Mutant Security Agency. These are all challenges that added new complications to Charles Xavier’s dream of peace and understanding.

Now, in wake of the events of Proactive Regression, Genosha is no more. However, the mutant population that once called it home is far from gone. Decisions by Havok and the Scarlet Witch led to a massive exodus of the island, leaving the X-men and the various governments of the world in a state of grave uncertainty. Charles Xavier doesn’t need telepathy to know that uncertainty breeds fear and fear tends to undermine peace. His X-men know that too. It means that there are some difficult decisions on the horizon for the X-men.

These decisions will reshape and upend the X-men Supreme fanfiction series in ways it has never endured. It’s one thing to fight Magneto and his Brotherhood in an extinction plot. It’s another to fight an entity like the Cambrian. It’s another to fight aliens like the Shi’ar tyrant, D’ken. However, the battle before them has no clear battle lines. It has no clear enemies anymore. The conflict the X-men face is now scattered, hidden, and uniquely dangerous. It puts Charles Xavier in a very difficult position.

That position is about to get an even greater complication as X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation enters its home stretch. I can finally announce that this current stage of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to end. Like the end of other volumes before it, the end of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation will bring with it immense upheavals. The X-men will be shaken. Charles Xavier’s dream will gain more complications. The very role of the X-men will change in ways that not everyone will be on board with. What does this mean for the X-men and X-men Supreme? This powerful issue of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation will offer a hints of things to come.

X-men Supreme Issue 146: Unanswered and Unaccounted

With the coming end of this phase of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, as well as another relaunch for the X-men comics in 2017, it’s an exciting time to be an X-men fan. Granted, it has been somewhat bleak lately. More extinction and sterilization plots will do that. At the moment though, there’s plenty of reason for hope. I want X-men Supreme to be part of that hope. As such, it’s still very important that I continue to get feedback for this fanfiction series. I want it to help supplement the new era of X-men comics set to launch in a few months. So please take the time to send me your feedback directly by contacting me or by posting your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Ambitious Humanization: The Mighty Captain Marvel #0

The following is my review of The Mighty Captain Marvel #0, which was posted on

Whenever there's a major war, it's only when the dust settles that we learn just how devastating the struggle really was. When wars end, there's usually a period of jubilation and celebration. The victors throw parades in the streets. The losers, while defeated and devastated, can at least let out a sigh of relief, knowing the bloodshed is over. That feeling, much like a victory parade, is often temporary. Nobody gives much thought to those who must clean up after that parade, figuratively and literally.

Captain Marvel is, by all accounts, on a winning streak. Ever since Kelly Sue DeConnick elevated her to the status of Marvel's Wonder Woman, Carol Danvers keeps jumping from victory to victory. Whether she's holding down multiple solo titles or inspiring new generations of heroes in Kamala Khan, it's pretty clear that she's doing okay for herself. Now with Brie Larson's star power and a movie set to debut in 2019, she's well on her way to carving her face on the Mount Rushmore of superheroes.

This ascension, however, is not without cost. No superhero ever became iconic or got to carve a giant statue of themselves without pushing a little harder and upsetting a few fans in the process. The narrative in Civil War II definitely checks all the boxes in terms of putting a price on Captain Marvel's ascension. It put her in a position to be either vindicated or vilified with very little gray area in between. As a result, she's no longer this universally praised symbol of girl power. She's a walking message board of controversy.

This presents a unique challenge for Margaret Stohl in The Mighty Captain Marvel #0. With the dust settling from Civil War II, what does this mean for Captain Marvel moving forward? How does she continue her ascent into that special place usually reserved for Captain America, Spider-Man, or any other hero that ever appeared on a lunch box? Stohl addresses this challenge by making a concerted effort to humanize Carol Danvers. For the most part, she succeeds.

The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 isn't built around the tried and true formula of having Captain Marvel punch, blast, and flex her way through a threat. For her story and her character to gain greater complexity, the plot needs more substance than style. The substance here paints a different, but intriguing picture of who Carol Danvers is and where she's at right now.

Civil War II effectively forced Captain Marvel to into a difficult role and in many respects, she still clings to parts of that role, even though it costs her some close friends. Stohl makes it a point to emphasize how much Captain Marvel wants to confront dangers before they blow up in someone's face. In the Marvel Universe, where everything from Thanos to talking ducks can randomly show up, this is not entirely misguided.

That element is key to making The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 work. It's also key in making Captain Marvel a balanced character. She never comes off as arrogant, angry, or petty. Stohl goes to considerable lengths to show how the outcome of Civil War II really haunts Carol, so much so that she's battling intense nightmares and crippling insomnia. Sure, she can deal with these issues by punching asteroids and arm-wrestling She-Hulk, but it still torments her. The very human side of her still shows.

This human side is emphasized far more than her Kree side. This makes the story work because it creates a conflict for Captain Marvel that she can't solve through punching. This requires her to use coping skills that ordinary humans who can't punch asteroid actually use. She enlists the aid of a therapist. She reaches out to her closest friends, namely Spider-Woman. She tries burying herself in her work. These are all skills that both a superhero and an overworked high school teacher can use.

This goes a long way towards humanizing Captain Marvel. She's more vulnerable here than she's ever been in a situation that didn't involve Thanos or a raging Hulk. However, that vulnerability never becomes too overplayed. When humanizing a character, it's easy to fall into the same trap that many Disney princesses stumble into. They become vulnerable so they either start crying or break out into song. Carol Danvers never does that here. Instead, she tries to grit her teeth and push forward. It's the kind of tactic that would've made Frozen and Brave a much shorter movie.

The humanization and vulnerability bring out the best in Captain Marvel, but it also highlights some of her flaws. Anybody who didn't side with her in Civil War II probably isn't going to side with her after reading The Mighty Captain Marvel #0. She never apologizes for doing what she did. While the loss of her friends haunts her, she doesn't regret the decisions that led to those losses. It creates a strange mix of tension within the character that's difficult to resolve.

That tension plays out in a narrative that isn't always cohesive. One minute, Captain Marvel is dishing out orders with Alpha Flight to aid in alien refugees. The next, she's in a diner with Spider-Woman in need of a hug. The sequence of events is a little choppy, but it never becomes chaotic. Emilio Laiso's artwork also does a lot to highlight the dramatic moments that gives this issue its impact.

For those wanting to see Carol Danvers punch and blast things in a large-scale cosmic conflict, The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 will be a disappointment. That isn't the story Stohl tries to tell here. Those looking for a story that builds on the dramatic shifts Carol endures during Civil War II will find plenty to appreciate in this issue. Any punching or blasting she does is just a bonus.

In many respects, this comic acts as an epilogue for Civil War II. Carol Danvers is such an ambitious character, wanting to do more than just tie up villains and throw them in front of police stations after they've committed a heinous crime. That ambition shows in both her ability to punch things and her desire to ensure the danger doesn't punch back. It sets her apart from many heroes and Brie Larson would be wise to reference The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 in preparing for this role.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

X-men Supreme Issue 146: Unanswered and Unaccounted PREVIEW!

Despite the many challenges the X-men have faced throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, they’ve at least been able to count on one major advantage. They usually know who their enemies are, where they are, and when to keep an eye on them. Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants didn’t exactly hide their efforts early on in X-men Supreme. Whether they were crashing Dazzler’s concert or invading an entire country in the Uprising arc, there was little subtlety to their efforts.

Granted, these challenges still tested the X-men in ways they didn’t always pass. Enemies like Magneto, Sinister, and the Mutant Liberation Front gave them targets. Even when they didn’t know where to find them, the challenge still had a clear face. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series had a true, cohesive enemy for the X-men to battle. Now, after the events of Proactive Regression, that dynamic is changing in a major way. Now, the challenges before the X-men in this fanfiction series are about to undergo a profound upheaval.

Ever since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, the human/mutant conflict hasn’t just had clear enemies like Magneto and the Mutant Liberation Front. They’ve also had clear battle lines, which often began and ended at the shores of Genosha. It was part of Magneto’s larger vision for the mutant race and that vision was eventually tweaked by the Scarlet Witch and Professor Xavier. Now, after Havok’s fateful decision during Proactive Regression, those lines are gone. Those distinctions have disappeared. The human/mutant conflict no longer has clear battle lines or even a clear face. So what does this mean for the X-men and their allies?

That’s the burning question that everyone is asking down the home stretch of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. Already, there has been plenty of liberating with the Mutant Liberation Front. Now, Havok and the Brotherhood of Mutants have done their part to add the decimation. It’s now up to the X-men to pick up the pieces. The world of X-men Supreme is now entering a new world of uncertainty. What’s going to happen to the mutants on Genosha? What’s going to happen to the Warlock technology they still have at their disposal? Where are displaced, disillusioned mutants going to go now that there’s no mutant haven to turn to?

These are all difficult questions to answer. Unlike the X-men comics, the mutants in X-men Supreme have not been sterilized or had their numbers curtailed. Mutants in this fanfiction series are still a growing population, complete with all the fear and uncertainty that brings. Professor Xavier and the X-men know that so long as new mutants keep emerging, the conflict will continue, with or without the Brotherhood.

What does that mean for the X-men? What does that mean for President Kelly? What does that mean for General Grimshaw? There are so many challenges before them. With only a few issues left of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation, some will get answered. Others will pose new challenges. This fanfiction series is set to undergo its next great upheaval and it begins with the next issue, which will act as an epilogue to Proactive Regression and a prologue to something so much more hectic. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that hows just how hectic things will get for the X-men moving forward.

“Thank you all for meeting here this morning. I hope you enjoyed your week off. It’s important we’re all rested for the challenges that lay before us,” said Professor Xavier.

“That imply it may be the last break we get for a while?” asked Remy, “Between aliens and mutant terrorists, a week just don’t seem like enough.”

“I wouldn’t expect it to be. It’s been overwhelming, I know. I wish I could give you more time off. You’ve more than deserved it, X-men. However, we’re at a critical moment in human/mutant relations. The very core of our mission is changing. This time it’s going to be much harder to adapt.”

Professor Xavier took a deep breath, allowing his students to prepare themselves for what he was about to announce. They were all looking to him for answers. He was usually so good at providing them. This time, it was different in a profound way.

“First off, I’d like to update you on a few recent activities. Last night, Hank left for District X so he could aid Tessa in maintaining the fragile peace. Now that Genosha has been abandoned, District X is officially largest mutant community in the world. As such it’s been heavily scrutinized by the MSA. They’ve been questioning the locals, looking for leads on the Brotherhood.”

“And Bishop is okay with this?” said Bobby skeptically.

“He’s not in a position to oppose it. Even the mutants of District X understand that mutant affairs are tense. We can’t afford to spark any further conflict,” said Xavier grimly, “This leads me back to Genosha. As you know, Logan and Ororo have been working with Mystique and Warpath in the Persian Gulf. They’ve been trying to track down Frenzy in hopes of making more connections with White Cell. Last I heard, the trail has gone cold. Logan says there’s little hope of something substantive.”

“I’m sure he used more four-letter-words in his report, Professor,” muttered Jean.

“That’s the heavily edited version,” he reported, “In addition, Nightcrawler has been working with Wanda to track down the rest of the Brotherhood. We assumed they would contact Wanda once they were settled. So far, not even Pietro has reached out to her.”

“He probably knows Wanda is still with us,” said Betsy, “For all we know, she’s just waiting to meet up with him after we let our guard down.”

“After we saved her life and her island? That would be cruel, even for her,” said Kitty.

“Which is why I don’t suspect that is the case,” said Xavier, “The Brotherhood and every last citizen of Genosha are keeping a low profile. Of the few citizens that have dispersed, they seem unaware of any larger plan. But with so many mutants unaccounted for, it’s safe to assume that the Brotherhood still has a move in mind. They haven't made it yet and I don’t suspect they’ll make it anytime soon. This leaves the rest of the world bereft of answers. I fear this will allow governments all of the world to take extreme measures.”

“For all we know that could be just what the Brotherhood is hoping for,” said Betsy.

“That may be the case, Betsy. As such we cannot simply wait for the authorities to overreact. The X-men need to stay involved. That also means being ready and willing to adapt in uncomfortable ways.”

The X-men held their collective breath. They were prepared for bad news on multiple levels. There seemed to be little silver lining to what was happening. Genosha as a nation was gone, but everything that made it dangerous was still present. Professor Xavier was intent on not falling behind again.

“I wish I could tell you a clear cut plan for our future. Our next mission has yet to take shape because the dust has yet to settle on Genosha. However, we can still put ourselves in a more advantageous position. With this in mind, I've made the following decisions. First off, all scheduled classes and tests are suspended indefinitely. There will be no more tests, projects, or state sanctioned exams.”

“So…that means the higher learning part of the institute no longer applies?” said Bobby.

“Don’t get too excited, Bobby. There will still be plenty of learning. Except now it will be exclusively focused on training,” Xavier explained, “Starting today, all students will undergo a new series of training exercises. They won’t be restricted to the Danger Room either. They will involve regular scouting of suspected hot-spots, getting updates from staff, and taking necessary action when needed.”

“Necessary action?” questioned Scott, “That’s a pretty vague term, Professor.”

“I know, Scott. Clarity is at a premium right now, but given the current state of affairs the X-men must remain active full time. That is why I am also implementing new regiment of shift work. At least two X-men must be ready for deployment at all times. You’ll be divided into three groups, each taking an eight hour shift. Even when not on duty, the team must still be ready to mobilize at any given moment.”

“So we’re basically going to be X-men 24/7? Always assuming there’s a crisis going on?” surmised Kitty, “I’m not sure that’s what we signed up for, Professor.”

“Well we didn’t sign up to fight aliens either, but we learned to adapt,” shrugged Rogue.

“That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have parents who assume the superhero gig is just a part-time thing,” said Kitty.

“Yes, I understand there are legitimate concerns and they will be addressed,” Xavier told them, “However, those issues will have to wait until we have a more concrete plan in front of us. For the moment, we must err on the side of vigilance.”

“More like paranoia,” commented Scott.

“Scott don’t,” groaned Jean, scolding him to dissuade any further remarks.

“I understand your sentiment, Scott. I would appreciate it if you and everyone else worked with me during this difficult time,” he said in a serious yet reasonable tone, “This tension will pass. We just cannot assume our old methods will continue to work. Just as when the X-men chose to unmask, we must follow the times. We’re entering this new era, regardless of whether or not we’re prepared.”

He made it sound so easy, yet so complicated. The X-men had always been vigilant, but the Professor always balanced their duties as heroes with their responsibilities as students. Now he was telling them that they couldn’t be students anymore. They had to be full-time participants in this conflict.

For some, that wouldn’t be too much of a change. For others, it was a daunting notion. Their only solace was Professor Xavier’s confident tone. He wouldn’t make these decisions if he didn’t feel they were absolutely necessary.

“Now then…are there any questions?” asked Professor Xavier, hiding the distress in his tone.

“Just one, Professor,” said Remy, “If we gonna be training all the dang time, shouldn’t we have an idea on what we’re training for? It sounds like we stumbling around in the dark here.”

“Everyone is in a similar position, Remy. We’ll know what we’re training for when the situation arises,” said Xavier.

“When do you think that will be, Professor?” asked Piotr.

“Sooner than we expect, that much I’m sure of,” he said, “Now, at the risk of going over too many trivial details, I’d like to begin the new training regiment immediately. Logan, Ororo, and Hank will return later today and join you.”

“What about you, Professor? What will you be doing?” asked Rogue.

“I’ll be in the War Room formulating our next step with General Grimshaw and President Kelly,” he said, “I promise I’ll inform you the moment a major decision is made. Until that time comes, I trust you will be ready. Whatever may come of this chaos, one fact still remains. The world needs the X-men.”

We’re at the point in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation where the main plots of one volume end and the plot or the next volume begin. I won’t tease or entertain ending X-men Supreme this time. There will be an X-men Supreme Volume 7. I decided that before I even started X-men Supreme Volume 6. I know that feedback on X-men Supreme has been limited at times, largely due to the size and scale of this fanfiction series. It’s been going on for nearly seven years now so it’s bound to get a little daunting.

Even so, I’m still committed to making X-men Supreme as awesome as it can possibly be. I still don’t know how much longer I’ll keep writing it. If it gets to a point where I’m okay ending it, then that’s what I’ll do. Until I get to that point though, I want to keep making this fanfiction series great. To do that, I still need feedback. I still need support from my wonderful readers. I’m always happy to listen and discuss feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments in the issue. Either way is fine and I’d love to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Friday, December 16, 2016

The New Red Queen Chapter 5: Crowning Achievement is LIVE!

We’re almost there! I’ve been building it up. I’ve been exceedingly thorough with the foreplay. Now, it’s time for the final climax, the grand finale, and whatever other sexy metaphor your inner 13-year-old comes up with. The culmination of yet another sexy side project is finally here. After this, I imagine everyone is going to need a cold shower, a bag of ice, and an economics lecture by Ben Stein to cool down.

I’ve had a lot of fun telling this story, “The New Red Queen.” There’s just something about a sexy side-project involving Mary Jane Watson that’s inherently awesome. She’s a great character who also happens to be sexy as hell. I built a new persona in “Spider-Man and the Prostitute” and I expanded that persona here in “The New Red Queen.” I like to think I’ve laid the foundation for more sexiness down the line. For now, though, I’m content to cap it off in the most satisfying way possible.

The stage is already set. Peter Parker has both Mary Jane Watson and Emma Frost ready, eager, and horny as hell to celebrate this new phase for each of them. Mary Jane Watson is now poised to become the new Red Queen of the Hellfire Club. Now, she’ll have a chance to channel her sexiness through a powerful organization fueled by it. I couldn’t think of a better job for Mary Jane that didn’t involve push-up bras.

What will this mean for her? What will this mean for Spider-Man? What will it mean for Emma Frost in the Hellfire Club? That’s all about to come together, both literally and figuratively. Yes, that’s as immature as it sounds, but it’s also entirely appropriate for a story like this. It involves Mary Jane Watson maximizing her sex appeal with Emma Frost doing her part as well. How can it be anything else besides sexy as hell?

This is the last chapter in this particular story. For now, it’s the capstone on the story I began with “Spider-Man and the Prostitute.” However, the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve gotten for this story has given me more than a few ideas. I haven’t finalized those ideas, but I’m definitely interested in pursuing them. Do you want to see more from this series? Do you want to see more of an overtly sexy Mary Jane Watson as she runs the Hellfire Club? Maybe that’s a loaded question.

Whatever your sentiment, please let me know. Please take the time to review and send feedback. I’m always happy to hear from readers. This is a series that can definitely expand. Want to see Mary Jane Watson service other superheroes? Let me know! Share some ideas! The world can always use more of Mary Jane Watson’s sexiness. This story is just part of my contribution. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

First Shots and Fatal Flaws: Inhumans vs. X-men #1

The following is my review of Inhumans vs. X-men #1, which was posted on

What does it take for a clash between two superhero teams to be interesting these days? That's an increasingly relevant question because modern comics, as well as the movies they inspire, have gotten to a point where heroes fight each other more often than they fight actual villains. It seems an entire generation of comic book fans and creators have read Mark Millar's Civil War and desperately want to recreate that success, much to Mr. Millar's chagrin.

Those efforts, and the desperation behind them, don't often yield results. In fact, in the decade since Civil War, it seems as though that one stunning success was lightning in a bottle and trying to capture it again is like keep up with a race between Flash and Quicksilver. It's a losing battle, but one that still inspires more superhero clashes.

Avengers vs. X-men went to great lengths to match the scope of Civil War, leading to mixed results at best. Inhumans vs. X-men, the latest attempt to make heroes fighting heroes compelling once more, can't go to those lengths or match that scope. In some ways, this is a good thing because it means that Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire, the writers who have been developing the Inhumans and X-men respectively, can't follow the same formula.

The ingredients this time are very different. This is not about proactive justice or superhero legislation. Inhumans vs. X-men is set up with the simplest of circumstances. One team's very existence threatens to destroy another. Now, it's no longer possible for both teams to occupy the same world and not just because of clashes involving movie rights. This clash finally manifests in Inhumans vs. X-men #1 and while there's a lot of plotting, there isn't much drama or impact. Mark Millar can probably sleep easy for now.

The story doesn't hit the ground running. It doesn't drag either. Lemire and Soule are very careful, if not too careful, to set up the internal politics guiding the X-men. Unlike the Inhumans royal family, they must deal with the grim prospect of either going to war, leaving the planet, or being gassed to death. The most the Inhumans have to worry about is being mildly inconvenienced by the prospect that they'll be responsible for purging the whole planet of mutants. That may upset those who work at Sentinel factories, the stakes for them aren't quite as high.

This is the inherent flaw of the underlying conflict in Inhumans vs. X-men and this flaw has plagued every story leading up to this one to some extent. The conflict tries to frame the situation as balanced. For one side, the Terrigen Mist is life. For the other, the mist is death. In principle, it makes for a balanced conflict. In practice, however, it highlights a disparity that undermines any drama this conflict tries to inspire.

This is where the mentality of Inhumans vs. X-men clashes with the actual mechanics of the conflict. Beast makes it clear to his fellow X-men that the mutant will die if they stay remain on a planet where the Terrigen Mist roams unencumbered. It's not a matter of preserving their culture or their way of life. It's a matter of avoiding a horrible, painful death and the extinction of an entire species.

For the Inhumans, the particulars of the conflict can't be less similar. They're not facing extinction. They're not facing the death of their people. At most, they're facing a major inconvenience in that the future of their species will face uncertainty. However, uncertainty is a far cry from dying a horrible death at the hands of a poison cloud. Given that there are mutants like Magneto, who have direct experience with the horrors of a minority being gassed to death, it ensures this conflict remains utterly unbalanced.

Now that's not to say that the Inhumans make no effort to aid the X-men. They do show that when they detect a mutant in the path of the Terrigen Mist, they will go out of their way to get that mutant to safety. The X-men even use this policy against them in instigating the conflict. However, their unwillingness to let anyone taint this cloud that is bringing so much death to a minority that has subject to one too many Sentinel attacks still makes the conflict feel unbalanced.

To their credit, Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule still make an effort to navigate the conflict in a way that demonstrates a certain level of substance. Leinil Yu's art skills also add a distinct style as well. They highlight the high emotions of certain characters, especially Emma Frost and Beast. It gives the sense that Inhumans Vs. X-men #1 is a seamless extension from the story that has been unfolding since Death of X.

Along with these emotions, there's a distinct attention to detail that other superhero clashes like Avengers vs. X-men lacked. There isn't just some elaborate rallying cry ripped from the Braveheart movie. The X-men don't just blindly attack the Inhumans. They actually employ some strategy, which is kind of important in any conflict that is likely to involve explosions. They single out powerful Inhumans like Black Bolt and Karnak. They find ways to neutralize them. There's no magic to it. There are no cosmic forces disrupting the story. It actually feels like a substantive conflict.

Inhumans vs. X-men #1 has all the basics of a superhero clash. It even has a few refinements here and there. However, it doesn't have enough to make the conflict feel balanced. The biggest flaw in the story has to do with the larger circumstances surrounding it. In following this story, it's still painfully obvious which franchise's movie rights aren't wholly owned by Marvel and Disney. This limits the impact. Nobody's heart will be racing here because it's too obvious which side has the most to gain.

Some flaws are inescapable. Whether or not these flaws will undermine the conflict remains to be seen. Lemire and Soule have an uphill battle ahead of them and they may only be able to go so far up that hill. At the end of the day, the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-men still comes off as uneven and petty. At the very least, it also means that Mark Millar's title as the last writer to craft a decent superhero clash is safe for now.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, December 9, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 145: Proactive Regression Part 3 is LIVE!

Throughout the history of X-men Supreme, and the X-men comics in general, there are a number of decisions that always seem to haunt the X-men. In the comics, Jean Grey’s sacrifice during the events of the Phoenix Saga, Cyclops’ decision to form X-Force, and Charles Xavier faking his death to undermine his students’ trust comes to mind. Hard decisions are a bit part of the X-men mythos in general. In X-men Supreme, there have been more than a few such decisions.

Some have been fairly recent in X-men Supreme and the effects haven’t yet set in. One decision that is already having tangible consequences in this fanfiction series came from the Phoenix Force during the Outer Limits arc. In the final battle with D’ken, the Phoenix made a powerful sacrifice that greatly reduced its power levels, so much so that Jean Grey can barely feel it anymore. It’s one of those decisions that had to be made under the harshest of circumstances. Jean has already been agonizing over it in the Proactive Regression arc. The events surrounding it have only given her more reasons.

The Phoenix Force’s fateful decision means the X-men were somewhat under-powered when they entered their latest conflict with the Brotherhood of Mutants on Genosha. While the X-men have dealt with being undermanned and underpowered before in X-men Supreme, going all the way back to the Uprising and the Cambrian Explosion arc, they’ve never needed extra firepower more than they do now. X-men Supreme is on the cusp of a huge upheaval, one that will strain the X-men in ways they’ve yet to endure in this fanfiction series. It won’t involve clones or time travel, but the impact will be huge. It’ll affect the X-men, their allies, and even their enemies.

At the center of this upheaval in X-men Supreme is the Brotherhood of Mutants. While the X-men are set to make some difficult decisions, it’ll be the decisions of the Brotherhood that will trigger this upheaval. The side-effects Outer Limits arc pushed them to the brink. Havok and the Scarlet Witch are no longer willing to be diplomatic. They’ve been subject to one too many agendas from President Kelly, the Shi’ar, and the Mutant Liberation Front. The Natural Disorder arc had one of their own members, Avalanche, betray them and it cost them the life of Polaris. That means the conflict in Proactive Regression is personal in ways the X-men can’t get around.

Now, with the threat of a nuclear and a revitalized Mutant Liberation Front, the Brotherhood and the X-men will have some hard decisions to make. Those decisions are going to set the course for X-men Supreme moving forward. Make no mistake. Plenty of those decisions will come back to bite the X-men, the Brotherhood, and everyone in between. That makes the final issue of the Proactive Regression arc something that is not to be missed. The future of X-men Supreme, and the upheavals to come, begin here.

X-men Supreme Issue 145: Proactive Regression Part 3

Hard decisions and big consequences are a hallmark of X-men. They’re a big part of what defines the X-men mythos as a whole. It’s part of what makes the X-men so compelling. It’s one of the many features I’ve tried to incorporate into X-men Supreme. Given all the difficult decisions the X-men have made in the comics recently, going all the way back to Avengers vs. X-men, I feel it’s only fitting they face similar choices in X-men Supreme.

I sincerely hope that these choices bring out the best in this fanfiction series. I mean it when I say I want X-men Supreme to be as awesome as it possibly can. That’s why I encourage everyone to provide feedback for this fanfiction series at every turn, especially during critical moments like this. The events of this issue will have major ramifications in the near and distant future so please take the time to review. I want to know how X-men fans feel about these difficult decisions. Either post them directly in the issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Uber-Brutal Alternative History: Uber Invasion #1

The following is my review of Uber Invasion #1, which was posted on

The concept of alternative history is a cottage industry of sorts that has a unique, albeit contentious appeal. It's often presented in the form of a compelling, potentially plausible "What If" scenario that paints our current history as series of miraculous events that are never more than a casual whim from deviation.

By far, the most popular scenarios of alternative history narratives take place in World War II. It is to alternative history what orphaned princesses are to Disney movies. Most of these narratives boil down to the idea that if Hitler had done this or that, then the Nazis would've won the war and the entire western world would begin its day with a mandatory salute to the Nazi flag. These narratives are extremely simplistic, often taken extreme liberties with known historical fact.

This is exactly why Kieron Gillen's narrative in Uber is so compelling, but in a very different way compared to traditional alternate history stories. Gillen does not try to twist or contort historical facts to fit a scenario. He doesn't try to make an argument that history needed a few tweaks to become radically different. Instead, he crafts vast, refined scenario built around the premise of Nazi's creating superpowered soldiers.

It's a scenario that we've seen before in multiple Captain America movies, but Gillen takes it in a very different direction. There's no Captain America. There's no Red Skull either. Instead, there's a complete re-imagining of World War II, but with the added theatrics of superpowers. Those powers completely reshape the narrative at the end of the war in 1945 in the first Uber series. Now, with Uber Invasion #1, Kieron Gillen raises the stakes and the payoff is both astonishing and ominous.

The situation, as described by Henry Stimson to President Harry Truman, is pretty grim. The Nazis have a new arsenal of superpowered soldiers capable of burning cities to the ground, annihilating entire armies, and spreading the kind of brutality that would make any dedicated Nazi smile. The American arsenal, as vast and resourceful it is, has nothing like this and that puts them at an extreme disadvantage. It's a situation that America is not used to being in, even today.

Gillen doesn't change the logistics of World War II, something Captain America movies and Call of Duty video games tend to do to an excessive degree. America is still an economic powerhouse that produces enough planes to blot out the sun over Axis-occupied countries. However, Gillen doesn't obscure the situation with the kind of ideals that dominate every 1940s-era newsreel. True to Uber's legacy, there's a powerful emphasis on the brutality and devastation of war.

This gives Uber Invasion #1's its greatest strength as a narrative. The brutality and devastation is not sanitized, censored, or twisted. The blood, the destruction, and the terror all unfolds in graphic detail, benefiting considerably from Daniel Gete's art. It creates a powerful impact, one that is very different from other narratives surrounding World War II. This is not the kind of impact that evokes patriotism or parades. It's the kind that exposes the horror and brutality of war.

That impact doesn't just focus on the American side of things either. The Uber narrative never takes a side. There's never a sense that this is a story from the perspective of the Allies or the Axis. Both get a chance to assess the events, respond to them, and form a strategy for the future. No side is overly glorified as the hero and no side is overly vilified as the villain. In a story about real-life Nazis, that in and of itself is an accomplishment.

This isn't an underdog story. There aren't any inspiring speeches by General Patton or evil gloating from Adolf Hitler. Uber Invasion #1 is a story about the brutality of war. That brutality is only amplified, intensified, and expanded with the aid of superpowered soldiers. In some respects, the use of superpowers is secondary, but it is still very much the catalyst for the added brutality.

This brutal, visceral brand of alternative history began immediately in Uber #1 when superpowered Nazi soldiers entered the picture. Uber Invasion #1 reflects the inevitable progression of that history, taking the brutality to the shores of America. Gillen dedicates the bulk of the first round of Uber to crafting a narrative around how superpowered Nazi soldiers change, decimate, and destroy the history we know in Europe. In the second round, he enters a period point in history that goes beyond anything old newsreels and documentaries ever explored.

One of the many defining circumstances of World War II is how America avoids much of the destruction unleashed upon Europe. The impact of this circumstance is hard to overstate and Uber Invasion #1 goes out of its way to highlight that. In this conflict, America never feels the brutality and destruction that Europe suffers. It never experiences the true horror of war on its own soil. Gillen and Gete bring that experience to America in this story and gives it just the right impact.

The true extent of that impact manifests in a very brutal, albeit very theatrical way in the end. For all the exposition that helps establish the situation in Uber Invasion #1, it still finds a way to inject the brutality in just the right places in just the right ways. There are any number of stories where America gets invaded by Nazis, aliens, and crap monsters. This invasion, however, feels different. Again, there's no Captain America or Chuck Norris to save the day. There's just the harsh brutality of war.

Uber Invasion #1 stands out in so many ways, both in terms of impact and narrative. At times, it tries too hard to be a jumping-on point for those who didn't read the first series. The amount of exposition does start to drag in some areas, but it never derails the story or takes away from the impact.

In the end, Uber Invasion #1 is a different kind of alternative history. It's a different kind of World War II story. It's different for all the right reasons and those reasons manifest in all the right ways. This is not a story that anyone, be they Nazi or American, would dare use as war propaganda. In many respects, though, that makes the impact all the more profound.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 2, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 145: Proactive Regression Part 3 PREVIEW!

I hope everyone had a fun, filling Thanksgiving holiday because you’re going to need your appetite for X-men Supreme. This fanfiction series is nearing the world-shaking conclusion of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The world of X-men has been significantly upended in the recent X-men comics with the death of Cyclops and the ongoing war with the Inhumans. Well, X-men Supreme is not going to resort to killing characters or warring with other heroes. Instead, this fanfiction series will upend the X-men in a very different way.

The X-men are still trying to undo the damage they did after they left the planet during the Outer Limits arc. They were gone for six weeks. In that time, Havok took on a greater leadership role in the Brotherhood of Mutants and the Mutant Liberation Front reared its ugly head again, thanks to Stryfe. This time, President Kelly and General Grimshaw are not willing to wait for the X-men to save the day. After all the damage the Mutant Liberation Front did under Toad, especially after the near-catastrophe they faced in the Natural Disorder arc, they’re prepared to resort to extremes.

The X-men are trying to do their part to stop this madness and preserve some semblance of peace, but they’re already facing major obstacles. Charles Xavier may have his legs back, thanks to the Shi’ar in the Outer Limits arc, but he’ll need more than his legs this time. He boldly, and foolishly, led a team of X-men to Genosha in hopes of talking sense into Havok and the Scarlet Witch. They were met with a cold, hostile welcome to say the least. The Brotherhood of Mutants have tried to work with Charles Xavier before. Their capacity to trust him and his X-men at this point is limited at best.

Moreover, they have good reasons not to trust the X-men. The X-men were the ones that encouraged Genosha to work with General Grimshaw and President Kelly. They helped foster a fragile peace in wake of Magneto’s hostile actions during the Cambrian Explosion and the Time Bomb arc. For a time, this peace worked. Under the Scarlet Witch’s leadership, Genosha used its alien Warlock technology as an economic bargaining chip to maintain peace. Then, a good chunk of that technology got destroyed thanks to the Starjammers in the Outer Limits arc.

Now, the peace is broken. There are no incentives for Genosha to get along with the rest of the world. President Kelly has no incentive to be reasonable with Genosha either. On top of it all, the Mutant Liberation Front is ready to shove both sides into a state of human/mutant war. They’ve hijacked a nuclear submarine, complete with nuclear weapons, and Stryfe is ready to use it. Somehow, Charles Xavier and his X-men need to find a way to stop this madness before it’s too late. The odds are against them, but the X-men do have a few tricks up their sleeve, as the conclusion to the Proactive Regression arc will reveal. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should offer some tantalizing clues to that world-shaking conclusion.

“That’s enough, Xavier. You had your chance. They’re not buying it,” he said flatly.

“They were never even given a chance!” retorted Xavier, “I trusted you to be reasonable, Alex. I don’t think you even tried. Losing Lorna has left you an empty shell.”

“Don’t you dare bring her into this! You don’t understand! You never did!”

“I understand better than you think. That’s how I know you’re making the wrong decision. Even without my telepathy, I can see that you’ve lost all hope and your people will suffer because it.”

The Professor’s words struck deep. Havok’s expression tensed as he hid the pain and anger dwelling within. He was a bit rough with Xavier as he shoved him down the stairs from the stage. He was even rougher when he reached the ring of fire that surrounded his X-men. He forced Xavier onto his knees and stood over him. The rest of the Brotherhood joined him as he stood in triumph over the X-men.

“It doesn’t matter what you think of us, X-men,” said Havok sternly, “We gave you a chance to state your case and you blew it.”

“Some chance,” scoffed Cyclops, “You were never going to listen. You probably rehearsed this scenario at least a hundred times.”

“Shut up, brother! You don’t get to pass judgment this time!” spat Havok.

“Face it, Professor Xavier. Your methods are obsolete. The world changed too much while you were gone,” said the Scarlet Witch, “Now the Brotherhood will be the one to make decisions for our kind. Not the X-men.”

“Lucky for you, we’re not without mercy,” said Havok, “Since you’ll be on our turf when the bombs start going off, we’ll give you shelter. You’ll stay with us under a Warlock bunker and witness the beginning of a new fight.”

“I’d rather be locked in a cell with Toad and no air freshener,” said Iceman.

“I don’t care what you’d rather do! This is bigger than the X-men or the Brotherhood. This is a turning point for every mutant on this planet. Since you can’t fight, you’re going to be witnesses. You and everyone else that thought they could fight our battles for us!”

There was burning intent in the tone of Alex Summers. He put the X-men in the same position he had been in all his life. He made it so they had no power to decide their fate. He and the Brotherhood were prepared to drag them into the bunkers if they had to. This time, they would see just how wrong they were.

Just as the Brotherhood seemed ready to serve Xavier his ultimate humiliation, a strange shadow passed over them from above. Before they could look up, a series of metal blades reigned down and struck in the area between Havok and the Professor.

“Hey Brotherhood! Ready for a little air mail?” said the angry voice of Angel.

“I’m assuming you sods did something to piss me off so we can skip the small talk!” said an equally angry Psylocke, who was riding with Angel in his arms.

The Brotherhood was caught completely off guard. Angel swooped down at them at high speeds, leading with his metal wings and using them to ram Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. This sent them tumbling through the dirt, rendering them stunned. Psylocke rolled off as well, landing right behind Pyro and using her psionic blades to sever the fuel lines in his flame thrower. This caused the flames encircling Professor Xavier and the X-men to fade.

“Crikey! Please tell me we prepared for this!” exclaimed Pyro as his flames sputtered out.

“The X-men pulling a few dirty tricks? Isn’t that given?” said Havok, his frustration boiling over.

“Trust me! You’ve never seen a trick like this!” grinned Angel.

Havok tried to fire off an energy burst to take down Angel before he flew around for another attack. His aim was dead on, but he did not expect Angel to counter it so effectively. Using his wings as a shield, he was able to fully deflect the incoming blast. He directed it right towards Quentin Quere, who was preparing for a telepathic attack.

“I swear your brain will-AUGH!” was all Quentin got out before he was hit.

“Ooh, that’ll give him a hell of headache!” grinned Shadowcat.

“Angel. you couldn’t have picked a better time to dust off the old uniform,” said a jubilant Iceman as he and the others emerged from the dying flames.

“I see you worked some metal into your new attire as well,” commented Colossus.

“What? You think you’re the only one who can use metal to kick ass?” he said with newfound confidence.

Angel flew in lower again, causing Havok to stumble back as he fired another round of energy blasts. This gave Psylocke the room she needed to move in use her psionic blades to skillfully slice off the power-inhibiting collars. She started with Professor Xavier, knowing that having the world’s most powerful psychic back at full strength would be a major advantage. Blob seemed to understand this as well and tried to attack.

“Oh no you don’t! You’re not weaseling out of this, X-men!” roared Blob as he charged the two psychics.

“Professor, do you mind?” said Psylocke dryly, “I can smell his breath from here.”

“Now that their psychic is down, this will be considerably easier,” said the Professor.

I know these past few weeks have been hard on X-men fans. Between the events of Death of X and Inhumans vs. X-men, I understand a lot of X-men fans are upset or anxious about the future of the X-men. Well, it’s during these anxious times that I sincerely hope that the X-men Supreme fanfiction series can provide a reprieve of sorts. I want X-men Supreme to be an outlet for X-men fans that want a world where the X-men aren’t killing too many characters off-panel or resorting to time travel to fill the void. I want X-men Supreme to be a simple outlet of quality X-men stories for X-men fans of all types to enjoy.

To ensure that quality, it’s very important that I continue to get feedback. So please take the time to tell me what you think of X-men Supreme and help me make it as awesome as it deserves to be. Either post your comments directly in the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Setting Up An Ominous (And Overdue) Conflict: Inhumans vs. X-men #0

The following is my review of Inhumans vs. X-men #0, which was posted on

Some epic struggles need no setup or backstory. If the story involves a knight and a dragon, then it's usually fairly clear who must be slayed and who is doing the slaying. There is certainly a need to establish the setting for such a struggle. Sometimes that setting is as big a part of the story as the proverbial dragon-slaying. When it comes to the X-men and the Inhumans, the setting for a conflict is basically a formality at this point.

This is a setup that doesn't need to be belabored. The events of Death of X, as well as the various events that unfolded in the pages of Extraordinary X-men and Uncanny X-men, make it abundantly clear that these two teams are going to try and kill each other at some point. It's just a matter of when, where, in what circumstances, and how unbalanced it's going to be.

Since the conclusion of Secret Wars, the tension between the X-men and Inhumans is anything but balanced. Once side has the benefit of movie rights and an ongoing TV show. The other side's movie rights are being held hostage by a rival company who managed to help Josh Trank ruin his directing career. Logistically speaking, there's no way this conflict can ever be balanced.

Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule have an impossible task with the Inhumans vs. X-men event. With Inhumans vs. X-men #0, they can at least put the pieces in place on the proverbial chessboard. The first shot isn't fired. The first ultimatum isn't issued. Nobody from the X-men or Inhumans even starts trash talking one another on social media. However, the story makes clear that these two teams are on a collision course and Emma Frost has her foot on the gas petal.

In essence, Inhumans vs. X-men #0 is both a setup issue for a larger conflict and an Emma Frost story. It acts as a continuation of the events that unfolded in Death of X. In wake of Cyclops' death, she is the one who carries on the fight that he began. However, this is not one of those conflicts where a few extra hours in the Danger Room and a few team-ups with Deadpool can will equip the X-men for the coming battle.

Emma Frost doesn't try to be Cyclops in this story. She's going to fight his battles, but she's going to do it her way. That means using her wit, her cunning, and her willingness to do immoral things for moral reasons. It's what makes her the White Queen. It's what makes her a dangerous enemy and a questionable ally. Most importantly, though, it helps add some level of balance to the coming conflict.

It's still not balanced by any objective measure, but Emma Frost navigates this narrative in a manner that makes clear this won't be a simple shouting match between Storm and Medusa. This won't be a battle that Black Bolt can end just by whispering either. She gathers allies, makes deals with shady characters, and even trains herself to be ready in case her cunning and deceit just isn't enough. In the grand scheme of things, Emma Frost is the only one in the X-men who is actually prepared for a battle with the Inhumans.

Her story in Inhumans vs. X-men #0 carries the bulk of the dramatic weight and provides most of the substance. The role of the other characters involved, however, aren't quite as engaging. If anything, they reinforce the ongoing imbalance between the X-men and the Inhumans. It gives the ominous impression that one side still has way too many advantages for this to be a fair fight.

Throughout the narrative, the Inhumans carry themselves with an aura of selfish arrogance. They seem less concerned about helping an entire population of innocent mutants and more concerned about the possibility that they might have to fight a larger war with the X-men. They give the impression that they're more worried about being inconvenienced than saving lives. Even without the inherent imbalance between the two sides, it's hard to root for the Inhumans, given how they conduct themselves.

That's not to say the X-men are any easier to root for. Other than Emma Frost, Beast plays a major role in setting up the conflict, albeit indirectly. He's the only other character besides Emma who contributes to the drama, but his story is far less effective. His efforts to work with the Inhumans to resolve this conflict without violence are entirely noble in terms of intentions. Those intentions, however, clash with the unforgiving imbalance between the two sides. He's not the only one realizes that either.

Medusa, the current ruler of the Inhumans, goes so far as to adopt some of Emma Frost's tactics. She also understands that a conflict between the Inhumans and X-men is inevitable and that concerns her far more than any suffering the Terrigen Mists are inflicting. Even if her intentions are ethically suspect, her understanding of the situation is every bit as pragmatic as Emma's. Whether or not she can be as cunning as the former White Queen remains to be seen, but it definitely adds some intrigue to the coming conflict.

Inhumans vs. X-men #0 does succeed, albeit in a limited capacity, in creating some compelling stakes for the coming conflict. Both sides are preparing. Neither side wants to be caught off-guard. However, the issues that manifested in Death of X remain.

There are still inconsistencies between the events surrounding this conflict and the events that have unfolded in other X-books since Secret Wars. The strange and unwarranted hatred of Cyclops that seemed to fuel the X-men's narrative remains unexplained, which makes the conflict and the setup surrounding it feel incomplete and lacking in context.

In addition, characters not named Emma Frost do little to stand out. As a result, the impact of Inhumans vs. X-men #0 doesn't offer anything novel or groundbreaking. It just reinforces the inevitability and imbalance of a clash between the X-men and the Inhumans. One is poised to thrive. One is poised to die. One has Marvel's unconditional support with movie rights. One remains stuck under the thumb of Rupert Murdoch. At this point, it a sentiment that need not be reinforced.

Final Score: 6 out of 10