Friday, December 29, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 162: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 1 PREVIEW!

I hope everyone had fun and supremely enjoyable holiday. I also hope you worked up an appetite for more X-men Supreme in 2018. Yes, I know there are just a few days left of 2017, but this fanfiction series is already poised to move forward. That’s saying something, given all the huge upheavals in X-men Supreme over the past year. The disillusion of the X-men in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide might very well be the most traumatic event the team have experienced in this fanfiction series and that’s including their encounter with Deadpool.

At the heart of the division is the Mutant Monitoring Initiative, the bold partnership that Charles Xavier formed with General Grimshaw and President Kelly after their clash with the Mutant Liberation Front. For once, they weren’t just dealing with someone like Magneto trying to subdue humanity through force, as he did in The Cambrian Explosion and Overlord. Even Sinister, who attempted to wipe out humans and mutants alike in Dark Legacy, wasn’t as daunting. X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation put the X-men in a unique position.

The Mutant Liberation Front turned the X-men’s battle into a struggle of ideas and after what happened in arcs like Proactive Regression and Natural Disorder, it became clear that Charles Xavier is losing that battle. His hopes for peace and understanding clash directly with new tactics meant to render humanity helpless, rather than subdued. Even though the X-men managed to stop the likes of Toad and Stryfe, the damage was done.

Now, as X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided has unfolded, Charles Xavier and his divided X-men attempt to regain the trust of the public and the authorities. So far, their efforts have had mixed results. Despite chaotic destruction in Volatility Sensibility, the X-men and the policies of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative helped them take down Sebastian Shaw in the Drug War arc. On paper, it was a major victory. Behind the scenes, though, it showed a new vulnerability that has been festering for quite some time.

A divided X-men, as we’ve seen in the X-men comics with events like Schism, is often a bad combination for everyone involved. Whether it’s Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Storm, or Doop leading the X-men, a lack of unity often opens the door for a devious enemy to strike. That time has come and this latest arc of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series will pit the X-men against a powerful enemy that X-men fans should recognize. That enemy has yet to make their debut in X-men Supreme, but it’s one I’ve been planning for quite some time.

This next arc will trigger a major shift in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’ll also hit the X-men and X-Force at their most vulnerable. Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Wolverine, and so many more. The wounds left by this arc will be deep and the impacts will send X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided on a collision course that will leave nobody unaffected. It starts with the next issue and as always, I’ve prepared a preview that should give a telling hint as to just how impactful this arc will be.

“You!” snarled Logan as his muscles barely twitched.

“Yes, it’s me. The latest object of your rage. As if you don’t have enough as it stands,” said Daken dryly.

“I’m telling my body to rip you to shreds for all your bullshit, but apparently you found a new way to fuck with me! I get enough of that shit as well!” grunted Logan.

“Yes, well we can’t have that volatile temper causing such a mess. I understand you’ve been known to leave quite a mark on anyone that dares to capture you.”

“Then save yourself the trouble and turn off whatever the hell you did to me,” said Logan, “If you do, I promise I’ll make it quick.”

“Now why would you want to do that? I was hoping we could spend some quality time together. You know, the kind that a father is supposed to spend with his son,” said Daken as he loomed over the paralyzed figure.

Logan growled upon hearing those words. For once, Daken didn’t talk in a snide or condescending tone. He was dead serious, which almost seemed uncomfortable to him. That helped lend credibility to what he was saying. He was his son. A revelation like this usually triggered all sorts of chaotic emotions within Logan.

As this revelation sank in, Logan felt his body move on its own. He didn’t know if Daken was controlling it or if someone else was pulling the strings. He rose from his bed and stood up before this ominous young man. Now looking at him eye-to-eye, Daken glared at him with emotions that had been decades in the making.

“You’ve had time to process my scent. You’ve looked me in the eye and you’ve seen the signs. I hope you’ll skip the denial part so we can get to the heart of this matter,” said Daken, his tone focused with a unique kind of anger.

“You think this is the most fucked up revelation from my past? Hell, this ain’t even top five,” scoffed Logan.

“So finding out you have a son with a lifetime of reasons to despise you isn’t a big deal?”

“Of course it’s a big deal! I don’t hesitate in the middle of a fight unless it’s a big deal!” barked Logan, “Your scent wasn’t enough. It’s your eyes that sealed the deal. I’ve seen them before, except they were on a beautiful woman that I used to love. Not some dirt-bag punk with bad hair.”

“Well, now they’re mine,” said Daken firmly, “My darling mother was kind enough to impart them on me. It’s a shame she never got to see them. You ended up slaughtering her before she ever got to hold me.”

Now Daken was the one fuming with anger. Logan matched that sentiment every step of the way as he recalled the woman who once had those beautiful eyes. The image of her embracing him as she tried to tell him some important news played over in his mind again. That image was followed by a gruesome memory of him holding her bloody body in his arms. From here, the truth was obvious.

“That’s what she was going to tell me. She was pregnant,” said Logan, “It was just before everything in the Yashida Clan went to Hell.”

“And you didn’t stick around to find out. It would’ve been pathetic if it hadn’t nearly killed me,” said Daken in a cold tone, “That dead body you held in your arms had company. I was still in her womb, underdeveloped yet still alive. You could have stayed longer, tied up all the loose ends, and made sure you left nothing behind. But you didn’t.”

“Kid, if you’re gonna hold a grudge against me for not even knowing you existed, that’s a damn lousy reason,” barked Logan.

“As if causing the death of my mother isn’t valid enough,” Daken retorted, “But that’s not my only reason for resenting you. Our family issues go much deeper than that.”

Daken took a step closer to Logan so he could look him in the distinct eyes that so reminded him of Mariko. The bitter resentment soon gave way to a more serious demeanor.

This was both personal and logistical for him. Daken had plenty of reasons to seek out his father years ago, if for no other reason than to honor his dead mother. However, he was not like his father in one key aspect. For him, vengeance wasn’t enough to justify a moment like this. There had to be something greater at stake.

“Just look at yourself, father. Look back through those broken memories of yours. Let them tell you about the kind of man you are,” said Daken in a scathing tone.

“Bub, if you even understood half the memories I got floatin’ around in my head, you’d know what a dumb ass question that is,” quipped Logan.

“I know more than you think. I know where you’ve been, who you’ve killed, and how you’ve conducted yourself,” Daken went on, “You have all the trappings of a monster, but I don’t believe in monsters. I only believe in pitiful men who follow their anger, negating every other passion along the way, unless it’s convenient.”

“You trying to lecture me? Because if you really are my son, then you got the roles ass backwards.”

“If not your son, then who else?” Daken retorted, “Who else could point out what an inept man you are? You reflect the absolute worst of our family. You fight endless personal battles in both the past and present, never truly realizing the kind of damage you leave behind. And for what? Has it brought you peace?”

“Depends on your definition,” snarled Logan.

“Seeing as how you haven’t stopped fighting, I’ll take that as a no,” snorted Daken, “In many ways, you’re a metaphor for the world as we know it. Every day there’s more needless fighting. People like you simply refuse to move forward. You just wallow in your anger. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, both you and the world been certifiably demented for centuries.”

“Is there a point here, kid?”

“Perhaps not, but unlike everyone before me I’m prepared to do something about it.”

Daken backed away from Wolverine and walked over to the door. He then gave it a hard pound with his fist, signaling whoever was on the other side to enter. The door swung open to reveal Sabretooth and Laura. Logan grunted in anger at the sight of Sabretooth being anywhere close to Laura. However, he noticed something different. Like him, they didn’t seem to have control over their own bodies.

“Heya, old buddy,” said Sabretooth snidely, “I see they stuck you with that annoying drug too.”

“Sabretooth! Only you could make a shitty situation like this stink worse,” barked Logan.

“Consider yourself lucky. If your fruity little bastard here hadn’t stuck me with a needle, these walls would be painted with your blood by now.”

“You deserve to stuck with much worse,” said Logan, “I swear if you so much grazed my daughter, I’ll…”

“It’s okay, Wolverine. He didn’t,” said Laura, who was in a similar paralyzed state, “Although he certainly tried. He thought he could rough me up before you arrived. That’s when Daken injected him with the same drug he injected into me.”

“Seeing as how none of you can control your violent impulses, I figured it was necessary,” said Daken.

Logan’s expression tensed as much as it could in his paralyzed state. More pieces fell into place. Daken and whoever else was behind this elaborate operation wanted the meat of the Weapon X program. Laura was bait. Sabretooth was a puppet that didn’t notice the strings until it was too late. His presence was sure to complicate thingg.

“Here’s some fatherly advice, kid. Hiring Sabretooth ain’t ever necessary,” said Logan, “He’ll screw you over and smell like shit every step of the way.”

“Why you…” grunted Sabretooth, only to be cut off by Daken.

“That’s enough, you two. Somebody should have said that to you decades ago,” he said, “You may not be able to handle Sabretooth, but we can. So long as you promise him a chance at tormenting Wolverine, he’ll agree to anything. As it just so happens, we need him as well as X-23.”

“I told you not to call me that. My name is Laura!” barked Laura.

“You’re lucky you can identify with any name. I could have just let Sabretooth do what he wanted with you,” quipped Daken, “Like any animal, he simply had to be tamed.”

“Kid, as much as I hate Wolverine, I’ll gladly spare some for you,” snarled Sabretooth, “You and that asshole boss of yours are gonna pay!”

“What boss?” questioned Logan, “Tell me who’s pulling the strings in this joint. That way I know who to stab when this drug wears off.”

“That’s where the insanity I mentioned earlier comes into play,” said Daken as he turned back towards Logan, “Someone goes through the trouble of putting you all in the same room, having to resort to exotic drugs to ensure that you behave. Yet again, your first inclination is to stab each other. You’re not even the least bit curious on how and why of this endeavor.”

“There ain’t much to understand,” scoffed Logan, “The story never changes. Some asshole wants a few meat puppets to do their dirty work. Why should I expect anything less from this shit?”

“Because this is different, James Howlett…very different,” came an ominous new voice.

The whole room fell deathly silent. Logan, Sabretooth, and Laura felt their bodies moving again. Despite their ardent resistance, they turned around and stood side-by-side to greet a powerful new figure. Even for former living weapons, it was a presence that struck them in a profound way.

The figure was a man that stood an imposing seven feet tall. His whole body was heavily muscled, covering a broad form that rivaled even Sabretooth. He wore a large cloak that covered a body suit not unlike the one Daken wore. As he pulled back his cloak, he revealed a face that bore a striking similarity to Logan.

He had the same wild hair and burly complexion except most of his hair was gray. Also like Logan, he had a very feral demeanor. His penetrating eyes implied they had seen many battles. As he looked down at the three paralyzed figures, they all growled defiantly. Daken grinned at their resistance as stood beside the imposing man.

“That voice…I’ve heard it before,” said Logan, feeling more old memories surface from the depths of his mind.

“Me too!” grunted Sabretooth, who experienced something similar.

“It’s good to know your memories aren’t completely damaged,” said the man, “You’ll definitely want to remember what you’re about to become a part of.”

“To hell with being part of this shit!” barked Laura, struggling harder against her paralysis, “Who the hell are you!”

“That is not an easy question to answer,” said the man as he approached the three former living weapons, “I’ve gone by many names. Some have called me Night Wolf. Others have called me the One Man Army. Most know me as Romulus, the founder and visionary of White Cell. However, a select few have even called me the Mentor.”

“Mentor,” mused Logan, “So it is you. You’re the guy that trained Team X.”

“That is only a small part of a much larger story,” he said, “It is a story I hope to finally end soon. I’m glad to see that Daken has succeeded in the first critical step.”

“I’m sure you had no doubts, honorable grandfather,” said Daken proudly.

“Grandfather?” exclaimed Logan as it quickly dawned on him, “That means…”

There’s a lot of upheaval going on in X-men Supreme and the X-men comics. Both Jean Grey and Wolverine are set to return from the dead in the pages of Marvel comics. There are a total of three X-men movies se tot debut in 2018 as well. Between that and the pending merge between Disney and Fox, things are looking up for the X-men. I hope to build on that with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

I can’t make X-men Supreme as prominent as a major movie or comics relaunch, but I like to think I can channel the same spirit that will make X-men great in 2018. To ensure I channel enough, it’s critical that I continue to get feedback from the wonderful readers of this fanfiction series. Either post your comments directly in each issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat X-men. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Monday, December 25, 2017

Half-Fantastic and Full Heart: Marvel Two-In-One #1

The following is my review of Marvel Two-In-One #1, which was posted on

Like most ordinary people, every superhero has bad days. Some of those bad days are worse than others. Some of those bad days make for iconic stories, as well. Events like The Phoenix Saga, Secret Wars, Civil War, and House of M often start with a particularly bad day that spirals out of control, sometimes leading to retcons, wars, and clone armies. Short of being trapped in a cage with Deadpool and an unlimited supply of tacos, a bad day for a superhero often becomes the cornerstone for a major upheaval in Marvel's over-arching mythos.

While every major superhero and their assorted teams have bad days, few have had more or worse days than the members of the Fantastic Four. No matter how much Peter Parker complains about not catching a break or how much the X-men complain about people hating mutants, they can't deny that the Fantastic Four have it much worse.

It's not just that they've been victimized by horrible movies, so much so that Pixar's The Incredibles is often cited as the best Fantastic Four movie. Despite being Marvel's first family and one of the most pivotal creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the influence and prestige of the Fantastic Four has never been lower.

The events of Secret Wars effectively shoved a wedge the size of an entire multiverse between the team. Reed, Sue, and their children are no longer playing an active role in the Marvel universe. Ben and Johnny, conversely, find themselves relegated to weak supporting roles in books like Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy. Their struggles are often a punchline within Marvel, but Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung look to get serious with what remains of the Fantastic Four in Marvel Two-In-One #1. While Marvel's first family may still be split, Ben and Johnny keep the spirit alive in a story that's as compelling as it is heart-felt.

This is one of those stories that reflects a particular sentiment at a particular time in the history of a franchise. It's not unreasonable to say that, in wake of the failure of Josh Trank's Fantastic Four movie and the subsequent cancellation of the Fantastic Four comics in 2015, these are the darkest of times for Marvel's first family. Reed, Sue, and their children are gone. The Baxter Building is gone. On top of all that, Dr. Doom isn't even acting like Dr. Doom anymore. It's as though everything that makes the Fantastic Four endearing has been lost.

Marvel Two-In-One #1 acts as the first beacon of light within the darkness that has shrouded Fantastic Four for years. The first family is still not whole, but Zdarsky and Cheung make it a point to show that the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four is still there. Not only that, they make the case that there's still a place for them in the Marvel universe and by nearly every measure, they make that case well.

The foundation of the story is basically the remnants of the first family being at rock bottom. Neither is in a particularly good place with Johnny being especially broken. Ben, true to his rocky nature, acts as the last remaining anchor of the team. He carries himself as the only one with the strength and fortitude to carry on the legacy that the Richards family left behind. He doesn't have much to begin with, but he gains a lot over the course of the story.

What he gains and how he gains it doesn't feel cheap or contrived. In fact, it makes for one of the most heart-felt moments the Fantastic Four have had since the events of Secret Wars. Zdarsky and Cheung don't discount the events that tore the first family apart, nor do they make light of just how much those events hurt Johnny and Ben.

Part of what makes the Fantastic Four so compelling is that they're not just heroes. They're family. When one of them is lost or gone, it hurts. That pain in Marvel Two-In-One #1 is undeniable. By the end, though, there's a sense that the time for healing has arrived. Even though the memories of bad movie adaptations still linger, the darkest hours of the Fantastic Four are behind them. Now, they're ready to move forward.

Moving forward, however, still means confronting the less-than-ideal situation in the present. That involves Johnny revealing a distressing secret about his powers and Ben having a productive, but messy conversation with Dr. Doom. It's dramatic and overdue, but the fact they're finally confronting the situation is probably the biggest sign of progress that Marvel Two-In-One #1 can have. Overdue or not, it's still refreshing.

More than anything else, Marvel Two-In-One #1 is a clear, yet poignant reminder of what the Fantastic Four stand for. They're not just a family with superpowers. They're not just heroes either. They look beyond the horizon and dare to go farther. They seek to explore, learn, and grow together. That's how they often end up encountering beings who ride cosmic surf boards, giant world-eating beings, and shape-shifting aliens. The heroics are often secondary, but still just as important.

There's a lot to be said about the current state of the Fantastic Four, how they got there, and why they've struggled to remain relevant at a time when every superhero seems to reinvent/reboot themselves every other week. There are still plenty of ongoing issues with that state that can't be easily resolved over the course of a single issue, let alone several. However, Zdarsky and Cheung take the biggest, and arguably most important, step in that process.

Marvel Two-In-One #1 is one of those books that will give a certain segment of fans a genuine emotional uplift. It's as though someone finally comes to their front door, gives them a reassuring hug, and lets them know they haven't forgotten about the Fantastic Four and everything they stand for. It may have taken a while. It may not undo all the damage that the first family have suffered over the past several years. It's still a first step, but one that feels like a giant leap in the right direction.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Holidays From X-men Supreme!

There's no preview for sexy side-project today. Don't worry, though. X-men Supreme is still ongoing. I also have more sexy side-projects in the works. It's been an eventful 2017, to say the least. Between all the big upheavals in X-men Supreme and all the sexy side-projects with my "Red Queen" series, it's been a lot of fun. I hope everyone who has followed along has enjoyed the ride. I hope it continues in 2018.

Until then, I hope everyone has a supremely awesome holiday. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or nothing at all, I wish you the absolute best and I thank you for helping make my year awesome.

Friday, December 15, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption is LIVE!

Certain moments have enormous ripple effects on a narrative, especially one is big and ambitious as the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. The same can be said about the X-men comics. Events like Avengers vs. X-men, the Phoenix Saga, and Inferno all had major impacts that still echo within later events. Sometimes it’s a good thing, as with events like the Phoenix Saga. Events like Avengers vs. X-men, however, are a bit more controversial. In general, I try to leave that sort of ambiguity out of X-men Supreme, but I make it a point to craft the kind of moments that have that far-reaching effect.

Going all the way back to moments like the one that played out in X-men Supreme Issue 21: Chasing A Memory, where Wolverine first learned about his history with a woman he loved named Rose, the impacts played out in many ways down the line. When I originally outlined that plot in X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, I didn’t intend to reveal many issues later in X-men Supreme Issue 120: Sinister Revelations that Rose was actually Mystique. It’s just one of those plots that came to me as I plotted this series.

Moments like that, which came to define this fanfiction series in unexpected ways, make some of the most rewarding results in the end. X-men Supreme has had its share of elaborate plots, from Magneto’s first attack on Genosha during the Uprising arc to General Grimshaw’s mutant agenda that began in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. Within those plots, though, are the moments that create the ripples that give this fanfiction series that special impact.

Given the ongoing conflicts in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, finding time for those moments is difficult. Between the mishaps in the Volatility Sensibility arc and the Drug War arc, as well as the ongoing divide between the X-men and X-Force, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to squeeze one in. Personally, I take that as a challenge and like Deadpool at a taco eating contest, I jump at that chance.

So far, X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided has established that the Mutant Monitoring Initiative has benefits and drawbacks. Charles Xavier’s bold gamble to work directly with President Kelly and General Grimshaw has paid dividends, the biggest being the arrest and imprisonment of Sebastian Shaw after the Drug War arc. However, the aftermath of that triumph has revealed some unintended consequences, which tends to happen a lot when working for governments. Some of those consequences go beyond the initiative, though.

In this divided state, with the X-men and X-Force being at odds, a new threat that has been brewing since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths is ready to strike. I know I’ve been very vague about that threat. A major clue showed up in Drug War with Daken, the long lost son of Wolverine. However, he’s only part of the threat. The force pulling all the strings has a name and it’s about to come out soon. Those strings will finally start to reveal themselves in this issue, which acts as a prelude to the biggest upheaval that a divided X-men can possibly face.

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption

There’s a lot riding on events of this issue and the arc that spins out of it. X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided will start descending towards its inevitable conclusion and like the others that came before it, this fanfiction series will undergo a dramatic change. Just look at what happened at the end of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The X-men actually fractured, tearing friends, family, and lovers apart. Now, imagine an upheaval like that in the X-men’s divided state. I’ll let X-men fans ponder that over the holidays.

While you’re enjoying friends, family, and gifts, please find the time to review this issue and any other issue of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Assume that’s at the top of my Christmas list, along with the assorted stack of comics I regularly ask for. I hope I’ve done enough with X-men Supreme to avoid the naughty list in the minds of X-men fans. Please let me know how good a boy I’ve been by either posting your comments directly in the issue or contacting me directly. Either way is fine and you don’t have to be Santa to deliver this gift. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Missed/New Opportunities In Prestige: Supergirl #16

The following is my review of Supergirl #16, which was posted on

It's rare for any hero who isn't Superman to gain the kind of credibility that grants them the implicitly, unflinching trust of the public. In fact, even Superman struggles to maintain that credibility and he's Superman. If the ultimate paragon of heroes struggles with maintaining the trust of the public, then what hope does any hero have?

In that context, Supergirl has a greater advantage than most and not just because she's Superman's cousin and bears the same emblem when she's out being a hero. She comes from the same lineage and traditions as Superman. She has his unflinching support, more so than any woman not named Lois Lane. In a sense, she has fewer excuses than most heroes for not having a similar level of implicit trust among the public. That's exactly why the situation she finds herself in with Supergirl #16 is so intriguing.

Taking a page right out of Supergirl's hit TV show, Steve Orlando and Jody Houser give her a city to call home, one in which she can establish herself as the kind of hero who deserves to wield the same emblem as Superman. National City is no Metropolis, but it bears many of the same traits. It's a vibrant city full of people who are more eager than any resident in Gotham to embrace a hero. To her credit, Kara makes the most of that opportunity, especially after the events of DC Rebirth #1. However, the events surrounding Supergirl #16 count as both a setback and a reminder of why such credibility is so rare, even for blood relatives of Superman.

It's not just bad PR that Supergirl is dealing with. The Department of Extranormal Operations, which had previously been an important, is now working against her. Eliza and Jerimiah, her adopted parents, once kept that from happening, but are no longer with the organization and utterly powerless to change that. Even for someone as powerful as Supergirl, it creates a very different environment in which to be a hero.

People aren't cheering her on, thanking her for her heroism, or even stopping to take a selfie. They aren't reacting with fear or dread either, which is a big reason why Batman can get away with having such limited credibility. They see Supergirl saving the day, but they also see someone they don't trust. Unfortunately, events throughout the series give the average person plenty of reasons to question her more than her cousin. Much of that is a product of bad circumstances, inexperience, and being a teenager. Her ability to still raise to the occasion, like her cousin, is a big part of what gives Supergirl her appeal.

Supergirl #16 presents her with a unique opportunity to confront and navigate this trust disparity. It's an opportunity that Superman doesn't face as often anymore and one that offers Supergirl a chance to set herself apart. Initially, the narrative gives promise that, even in the face of public mistrust and one too many enemies in the DEO, she'll still rise to the challenge and be the hero that everyone expects her to be. However, this narrative collapses quickly.

The events that play out, from Supergirl's clash with Sharon Vance to her uncomfortable encounters with DEO agents, effectively throw away any notion that Kara will have to win the public's trust the hard way. It's not long before a generic conspiracy/smear campaign emerges, revealing that her struggles have less to do with her growing into a great hero and more to do with evil villains working against her. In terms of establishing a growth period for a hero, it's basically the equivalent of letting someone take a shortcut.

The subversive efforts of the villains involved effectively ensure that things will snap back to normal fairly easily once Supergirl learns the truth. It's akin to disabling a mind-control device or revealing that someone accepted bribes from Lex Luthor. It reduces what could've been an important step in the maturation of a hero to simply finding the right person to punch and letting that solve all the necessary issues.

While this revelation overly simplifies the narrative, it does help create new opportunities in the sense that it puts Supergirl within a different conflict. The plot surrounding her winning back the trust of the public may have collapsed, but in its place is a different kind of conflict that relies on her having to do more than just find who to punch.

Orlando and Houser use this as an opportunity to get Kara's friends and adopted parents involved, which helps strengthen the support structure that helps guide Supergirl through her narrative. It also reveals a larger threat with more menacing villains, which is always a challenge whenever a hero has power on the same level as Superman. Kara being a teenage girl as well adds more complications, albeit the kind that keep her likable.

While the overall plot in Supergirl #16 is disappointing in that it abandons a potentially rich concept, the story never gets completely derailed, nor does it undermine Supergirl's inherent heroism. It's tempting in the era of Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder movies to have heroes endlessly doubt their worth in the face of declining public support. Supergirl never gives into that temptation. She just grits her teeth, puts on that iconic cape, and does what she can within a messy situation. That's what makes her a great hero, even when she misses out on a major opportunity to prove it.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Friday, December 8, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption PREVIEW!

Certain plots take a great deal of patience and build-up. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that the original Phoenix Saga that played out in the pages of Uncanny X-men unfolded over the course of three dozen issues. That kind of story is hard to tell today, whether it’s with X-men or any other comic book characters. That hasn’t stopped me from trying with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Since its inception with X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, I’ve taken my time to develop stories in what I hope is a sufficiently awesome manner.

I don’t claim to be as skilled as Chris Claremont, but I’ve made a concerted effort to develop the various plots of X-men Supreme in a way that has a solid payoff. Events like Overlord, the Outer Limits, and even the X-men Supreme version of the Phoenix Saga unfolded over the course of multiple volumes of this fanfiction series. Some stories had the seeds planted very early on in a very specific way.

The best example of this happened in the Overlord arc in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. In that event, there was a telling moment between Wolverine and Mystique that hinted at a deeper connection between the two. It wasn’t until much later in X-men Supreme Issue 120: Sinister Revelations when Sinister revealed that Mystique was actually Rose, one of Wolverine’s former lovers from before he joined Weapon X. That moment took a long time to build, even with the major hints I dropped in arcs like the Cambrian Explosion. I like to think that kind of build made the culmination that much more satisfying.

Now, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to reach another moment. Coincidentally, this one also involves the mysterious pasts of Wolverine and Mystique. When I revealed their connection at the end of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths, I did so with a much larger plan in mind. I had every intention of making their shared history part of a much larger story, one that incorporates a conflict involving a character that Wolverine fans should recognize. Developing that story has taken time, especially after the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide. All that build and energy is finally about to culminate.

The events of the Drug War arc acted as the first shots in a much larger conflict. That story may have been centered around Sebastian Shaw and the emergence of Mutant Growth Hormone, but it also revealed the presence of other powerful forces that threaten more than the X-men and the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. Wolverine definitely sensed that threat and it took the form of someone that X-men fans should recognize as a major complication. It’s hard enough working against the X-men with Cyclops as a member of X-Force. Once again, Wolverine’s mysterious past will come back to haunt the X-men in a big way.

The biggest arc to date in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided is starting to take shape. This is one of those stories that will leave scars. Like Dark Legacy or the Cambrian Explosion, this story will leave a powerful impact on the X-men, X-Force, and everyone in between. It all starts with a prelude of sorts, one that will add some very personal stakes to Wolverine, X-Force, and many others. I’ve prepared a preview of that prelude that I hope gets X-men fans of all kinds excited, some more than others.

“Thank you, Julian. You’ve been very helpful. Even if your maturity is constantly in question,” said Laura as she finished her snack.

“You’ve been talking to Sam and Roberto again, haven’t you?” teased Julian, “I thought I told you that half of what they say about me is total bullshit.”

“That still leaves half, but I don’t hold it against you,” she assured him, “You’ve done more for me than anyone at the Academy. I know I don’t make it easy for you. I’m surprised you haven’t quit on me a few times.”

“Well after that incident where you sliced through my bedroom door while I was watching a movie with one too many explosions, I did consider it,” he joked.

“And I can’t promise there won’t be more incidents like that,” she said in a more serious tone, “Logan told me that trying to be a normal teenage girl is important. I’m inclined to believe him. But it’s difficult when I still have these powerful instincts.”

“You’d be surprised how many other teenage girls struggle with instincts. Tabitha and Amara can’t seem to control themselves at times.”

“These instincts are different. I live every day with the assumption that I’m still being hunted. Wolverine told me himself that this mentality will never disappear completely. The problem is my instincts keep telling me that the threats are there and I need to attack them. Most of the time, nothing is there. Even if there was, it limits my ability to be normal. Sometimes I wonder that even after I do everything I can to rebuild my life…I’ll still be a monster.”

Laura led Julian away from the main boardwalk to a quieter part of the harbor. Having finished her snack, she needed a moment to collect herself. They found themselves standing between a closed food hut and couple of storage containers.

She was still not comfortable with crowds, especially when she got worked up. She had to pull away from Julian for a moment. He gave her some space as she hugged her shoulders. He stood awkwardly behind her, staying silent for a moment before trying to console her.

“Uh…is this one of those times where you need some space?” asked Julian.

“No. Please don’t leave,” she told him, “I just…”

“You don’t need to explain yourself,” he said, “I get it. Old scars have a way of re-opening themselves. There’s nothing I can say to make it go away. So I won’t try.”

Laura tensed as she felt Julian’s concerned eyes on her. It was one of those limits that made it difficult for her to relate to him or anyone for that matter. To his credit, Julian was patient with her. That didn’t make it any less frustrating.

An awkward silence lingered for a moment. Laura took deep breaths just as Logan and others at the Academy taught her, trying to collect herself before her instincts got the better of her. Just when it seemed as though the feeling had passed, a mysterious new scent filled the air. It was a scent that triggered an entirely new set of instincts.

‘That smell. It smells like…no, this is different!’

Clenching her firsts, the former living weapon snarled at more scents followed.

“You need to leave, Julian,” she said sternly.

“What did I do wrong now?” he groaned, “If talking about instincts is really that stressful, then I’ll…”

“It’s not that. We’re being watched,” said Laura intently, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll start running!”

“Well I’ve never been known for my judgement, so you mind giving me a better reason?”

Laura grunted in frustration. Julian clearly wasn’t going to just walk away from her and she didn’t have time to convince him that this wasn’t mere paranoia. As he looked at her in confusion, she noticed an ominous shadow come over him. Reacting on pure instinct, the former living weapon lunged towards Julian and tackled him to the ground.

“GET DOWN!” she exclaimed.

With only a fraction of a second to spare, Laura shoved Julian out of the way just as a dark figure passed over. He landed flat on his back, getting the wind knocked out of him in the process. While he was stunned, Laura instinctively shot up and drew her claws.

As she took in her assailant, she noticed an ominous similarity between them. Like her, he also had a set of claws protruding from his knuckles. He wore a black body suit not unlike the one her creators had her wear. He also had a dark helmet covering his entire head. However, the helmet didn’t hide a familiar scent.

“You…you smell like, Wolverine. But you’re not him!” she seethed.

“Weapon X-23,” said the figure in a voice that sounded like it came from a computer.

“My name is Laura! Laura Howlett!” she barked, “Get it right or I’ll carve it into your skull!”

“You must come with us. Your must fulfill your purpose.”

“Who the hell is us?” Laura snarled, “I killed every last asshole that took part in my creation!”

“No. You have not,” said the figure in a mechanical tone.

As soon as he said these words, Laura picked up more scents. In a series of flashes, four more mysterious figures appeared. They looked completely identical, bearing the same black suits and mask. As soon as they appeared, they each drew their own set of claws. Within moments, they surrounded her.

“Hnn…Laura?” groaned Julian, still trying to get his lungs working again.

“Do you need a better reason, Julian? Run!” roared Laura.

“I’m not leaving you!” he exclaimed.

“You can and you will. This is my fight. I can handle it!”

The dark figures surrounded her, their claws drawn as they prepared to attack the feral young mutant. They moved in perfect synchronicity. They surrounded their target from all sides, but former Weapon X-23 was ready to take them on. It promised to incur a great deal of violence and bloodshed. For that reason, the figures instigated special tactic that promised to mitigate this situation.

While X-23 was preparing to attack, another presence emerged from behind one of the storage crates. However, his was different from the other figures in that he wasn’t wearing a mask or a special tactical suit. Instead, he bore attire that ensured Laura and everyone related to Logan knew who they were dealing with.

Like a predatory animal stalking its prey, he snuck up to the still stunned Julian Keller. Just as he was about to get up, the imposing man pulled him into a powerful choke hold. Once the young mutant was in his grasp, he made his presence known to Laura.

“Ack!” choked Julian, once again unable to breathe.

“Care to rethink that, little miss runt?” snarled a bemused Victor Creed.

Laura tensed upon hearing that voice. She never heard it before, but it sounded familiar. When she turned around she recognized him as someone Logan had told her about. He was even more repugnant than she imagined. Worst of all, he had Julian in his grasp.

“Sabretooth!” she growled, “Logan was right. You stink worse than a thousand toxic waste dumps.”

“Good to know Logan told you all about his old buddy. Did he also tell you what I do to the people he cares about?” quipped Sabretooth, holding his claws closer to Julian’s neck.

“If you so much as breathe on him…” she threatened.

“Blah blah. You’ll cut me to pieces. Yada yada. You’ll kill me a dozen times over,” laughed the feral mutant, “Jeez! You really are his clone. Hope that means you’re not as stupid as him. Otherwise your boyfriend here is gonna regret ever wanting to bone you.”

Laura snarled with murderous rage. This man knew Logan very well. That meant he knew her too, possibly in ways she couldn’t imagine. Between him, the five masked figures, and Julian’s predicament, her decision was clear. This was one instance where her instincts and her humanity were in agreement. Despite a determined look from Julian, she withdrew her claws.

“What do you want from me, Sabretooth?” she said flatly, “How many more reasons are you going to give Logan to kill you?”

“I’ve yet to decide,” grinned Sabretooth, still maintaining a firm grip on Julian, “Cooperate and we’ll both find out soon enough. We’ve got an overdue reunion to get to. And you’re gonna make sure my old buddy ain’t late!”

I get that it’s difficult to be patient these days with the X-men. However, it can and does pay off. Most recently, Marvel finally announced the return of Jean Grey after nearly 14 years of being dead. While I don’t intend to make readers of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series wait quite that long, I still want to reward the patience of those who have supported X-men Supreme throughout its development.

To ensure that reward is truly worthy, it’s still important that I continue to get feedback. Even if you’re just impatient and want more clues as to what lies ahead for X-men Supreme, I still want to hear from you. Please contact me directly with your comments or post them directly in the various issues. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Pressing Pitfalls of Powerful Minds: Astonishing X-men #6

The following is my review of Astonishing X-men #6, which was posted on

While death tends to be a revolving door with well-oiled gears in comics, there are many ways in which characters cheat it. Some are more compelling than others. By and large, clones and time travel are akin to overused cheat codes. They essentially circumvent the agency of a character and all those around them by forcing that character into a situation. It's akin to Photoshopping wherein the contrivances can be cropped, but not removed entirely.

That's why when a character cheats death in a way that doesn't involve time travel or clones, there's a greater sense of intrigue. It's more akin to watching an escape artist survive a death-defying stunt in broad daylight. If they can do it without the aid of cosmic power or a deal with Mephisto, that makes it all the more impressive. In that context, it says a lot about Charles Soule and his work on Astonishing X-men in that he's resisted the temptation.

The death of Charles Xavier at the hands of Cyclops in Avengers vs. X-men remains one of the most impactful moments for the X-men that doesn't involve movie rights. That death is what shaped the course of the X-men for the past several years, from the arrival of the original five X-men from the past to the mutant/Inhuman war. His return to the world of the living is not unexpected since he has come back from the dead before, but his presence is such a powerful force in the overall X-men mythos that it's bound to have an impact.

Soule and Michael Del Mundo are laying the foundation for that impact and Astonishing X-men #6 acts as the final layer of bedrock. The substance of that bedrock is build around another epic psychic battle between Charles Xavier and the Shadowking. While it's a battle that has played out many times before, it's still more compelling than one involve clones or time travelers. For this particular battle, though, the stakes feel even higher than usual.

Every psionic attack, psychic illusion, and telepathic trash talk counts in this battle. It doesn't just play out on the astral plane either. Some of it manifests in the non-psychic world as well, with Shadowking taking over the likes of Gambit and Old Man Logan. It creates battles on multiple fronts, which also creates multiple opportunities for Del Mundo to craft brutal, visceral struggles that take on a very psychedelic ambience. In terms of psychic battles, it's the perfect combination.

Even though a psychic battle between Charles Xavier and Shadowking is something that has played out many times before with the X-men, as a rivalry on par with that of Wolverine and Sabretooth, Soule finds a way to make this one feel more meaningful. It isn't billed as the final psychic showdown between two bitter rivals. It doesn't even try to be some sort of over-hyped, pay-per-view style event either. What makes it and the story around it work so well is how it brings out the more cunning aspects of Charles Xavier.

From the first issue of Astonishing X-men, Soule establishes the battle between Xavier and Shadowking as one driven by wit as much as psychic prowess. In a sense, Xavier dying at the hands of Cyclops finally levels the playing field between him and Shadowking. They're both disembodied spirits now. They're both stuck in a state of limbo, having limited influence on the physical world. Like having Iron Man fight without his armor, both powerful minds must now rely on other skills.

As a result, Xavier ends up relying on tactics that Shadowking has a history of exploiting. He  has to fight for the hearts and minds of his X-men in a very literal sense. He can't just flash his "world's most powerful mind" card and win the battle by default. He has to reduce himself to his enemy's level, which usually gives someone like Shadowking the edge. Up until Astonishing X-men #6, he seemed to have that edge every step of the way.

This is where the true extent of Charles Xavier's cunning reveals itself. It's also what makes Astonishing X-men #6 a major addition to Xavier's resume as Marvel's most powerful mind. Even when he's stuck playing by Shadowking's rules, having next to no advantages from the beginning of the battle, he finds a way to one-up him. He's able to blend his tactics with that of his enemy to win the day in a way that never feels cheap or contrived. Soule makes it clear that Xavier earns this triumph over his greatest psychic rival and Del Mundo helps make it a sight to behold.

It's the kind of triumph that Charles Xavier hasn't had in quite some time, going back to the Grant Morrison era in New X-men. For years, it seems, Xavier's greatest enemy is his declining credibility in the eyes of his fellow X-men. From keeping secrets to battling his own students, he's had few opportunities to be the mind and the mentor that only the likes of Patrick Stewart can hope to embody.

Xavier's inglorious death in Avengers vs. X-men further limits his ability to be the character that the X-men need him to be. Like the charm of Patrick Stewart, though, certain characters have traits that give them the ability to forge new opportunities out of rough situations. Between Shadowking and dying at the hands of his first student, the situation is pretty bad for Charles Xavier. That only makes watching him and his assortment of A-list X-men beat the odds feel that much more satisfying.

That satisfying victory, along with the profound implications revealed at the end, helps put Astonishing X-men #6 in a special category in terms of quality. From the first issue of the series, this latest psychic clash between Xavier and Shadowking carries the risk of being another generic battle with stakes no higher than that of an arm-wrestling match between the Hulk and Squirrel Girl. That's the challenge of any rivalry. Everyone knows that Captain America will beat the Red Skull, Batman will defeat the Joker, and Deadpool will make a dirty joke. It's giving those battles real stakes and nuanced circumstances that give them impact.

Soule and Del Mundo put in the necessary time, effort, and psychic mind games to make Round 616 of Charles Xavier versus Shadowking feel like the telepathic equivalent of a heavyweight prize fight. Each round feels brutal and bloody, but the style and substance behind it make it more than just a spectacle. It's a testament to mind and will of Charles Xavier. There's a reason why he's the visionary behind the X-men, as well as the perfect medium for Patrick Stewart's charm.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 1, 2017

Sexy Side-Project "The Red Queen Chronicles: The Holidays" is LIVE!

It's that time of year again. Decorations are going up, eggnog is on sale, and department stores are on their knees, begging people to come buy their crap. That's right. The holidays are here! If you don't care for the holidays, then I weep for your soul.

I, for one, love the holidays. I love everything about it from the shopping to the family moments to the peppermint lattes spiked with whiskey. I don't care that it has become so consumer-driven that Santa Claus may as well be a secret agent for Amazon. It's still a wonderful time of the year that evokes all sorts of wonderful experiences.

That brings me to my latest sexy side-project. Yes, I realize that was a poor transition on my part, but how else do you lead into project that combines sex appeal and the holidays? Moreover, how do you lead into it when that sex appeal also combines the sexiness of Jean Grey, Emma Frost, and Mary Jane Watson? Even Ebenezer Scrooge, himself, would be inspired by that.

Maybe it's just my overactive holiday spirit, but I felt compelled to make my next sexy side-project holiday themed. Since the world of The Red Queen is already so rich with sexiness, I used that to set it up. Given how much that world has grown this past year, I can think of few worlds better to celebrate the holidays in the sexiest way possible. Enjoy!

As always, I encourage everyone to provide feedback. I'm still not done with this world. I still keep getting new, sexy ideas that I can't resist pursuing. I'm still undecided on many, but I'm always open to discuss new ideas, especially the sexy kind.

If nothing else, I hope this story gets you in the holiday spirit, among other things. In case this is the last sexy side-project of the year, I want to thank everyone for helping me make this series such a success. I had no idea it would blossom like it has, but I'm so glad it did and I look forward to building more sexiness on top of it in 2018.