Saturday, July 30, 2011

X-men Supreme Pics Update - New Commission From Brian Brinlee

The final arc of X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers has begun! This fanfiction series is ready to once again tell an amazing story that culminates in a major way. I'm very excited about seeing how it pans out and how readers respond. However, there will always be time for me to keep the other parts of X-men Supreme up-to-date. That includes new pics from the ever generous and ever talented Brian Brinlee. Once again, he has contributed to this fanfiction series in an amazing way. He has completed a commission for Issue 21: Chasing a Memory. It is the last issue of X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, which means ever issue in that volume now has art to go along with it! This pic involves Wolverine reliving a tragic memory. It's a powerful moment and a wonderful way to round out Volume 1. Thanks Brian!

X-men Supreme Official Panels

The commissions for X-men Supreme are always a joy to add. I deeply appreciate Mr. Brinlee's contributions, but please keep in mind that I'm always open for others! If you have art skills and want to showcase them here on X-men Supreme, please contact me and we'll work something out! In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates as this fanfiction series enters it's greatest arc to date! Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Generation Hope #9 - Hard-Hitting Awesome

I know I can be a harsh son-of-a-bitch when I review books sometimes. I admit I'm bias as fuck just like anyone else, but I try to be as honest as I can while making it entertaining with assorted dick jokes. I don't expect everyone to agree. I expect even fewer to take me seriously, but I try to offer insight in between the drunken ramblings of my reviews. That's where I hope to give value to the world of comic books. Now why do I say this? What the fuck does this have to do with Generation Hope #9? I could spend a whole blog post explaining it, but I'll skip that shit and get right to the meat of the issue.

I won't deny it. I've been pretty harsh towards Generation Hope. Ever since Nick Lowe killed the mystery about this book by essentially affirming that Hope Summers is a Jean Grey ripoff, it's been hard to really get into the book. Kieron Gillen's writing has been great and some of the Five Lights have been very compelling. The problem is that Hope has become more and more unlikable as a character. So while there is a quality story to enjoy, there's this 900-pound gorilla standing next to you slinging his shit right into your face. The gorilla is Hope Summers and the poop...well, it's a metaphor so I'd rather not get into details.

But I keep reviewing Generation Hope because it is an important part of what is going on with the X-books. The Mutant Messiah is the key to getting the mutant race up and running again. She's already assembled a new generation of mutants into this freakish cult that has made for some interesting and at times fucked up stories. Some have fallen flat. The last story with Teon was a bit of a mess that one could easily skip and not miss anything. With Generation Hope poised to play into Schism, it's a hard book to drop. So I'm left to keep following it and hoping that Kieron Gillen can do something that makes the shit that 900 pound gorilla is slinging just a bit less smelly. Now Generation Hope #9 doesn't tie into Schism. It's just a one-shot that takes place before it. But that doesn't mean it can't be good. Stranger shit has happened. Keep in mind we live in a country where angry white people make the most noise, yet we elected a black president.

Generation Hope #9 starts off with a somewhat simple premise. Jea-I mean Hope (I'll get it right sooner, I swear!) and Gabriel are hanging out in Cerebra with one of the Cuckoos, who is on monitoring duty in case a new light shows up. They offer to keep her company, but she reminds them she's part of a hive mind. She has all the company she needs. Jean G-I mean Hope makes some random comment about being ready. Gabriel tries to make out with her as he's tried to do since he first met her. So really, there's nothing new here. Gabriel is a horny teenager. I don't think we need to be reminded. Most teenagers his age would hump air if they could.

Speaking of horny teenagers, the real meat of the story begins with three seemingly normal-looking teenagers who are clearly breaking the law by getting pissed faced drunk and playing truth or dare. If Michele Bachman was president, she would have a massive migraine at how her imaginary god complaining how wicked they are. It's as racy as any truth or dare game I ever placed, except the dares we often did involved ingesting various insects and assorted substances we found in the back of my neighbors refrigerator (good times). The conversation soon shifts to mutants where one of the guys that's wearing a T-shirt saying "Bacon is a vegetable" (couldn't agree more) says he fantasizes about having sex with a mutant. Let's face it, that's nowhere near the kinkiest idea anyone has ever had. Clearly, this kids have never been to Japan.

Then the other guy in the room (who I assume is still sober) offers a different take. He doesn't see mutants like his bacon loving friend. He sees the pretty mutants that people want to bone like Cyclops and Emma Frost as the lucky ones. Other mutants who are deformed or have a body structure that makes them literally and figuratively unfuckable are the mutants with the real problems. He's not wrong about that either. The main X-men has a bunch of pretty people who are very fuckable to both genders. What's that say about the mutants who you can't jerk off to? It's somewhat of a mood killer that requires more booze.

Then just as someone's about to make a dare to eat something that will require poison control, irony steps in and pretty much date rapes them. The guy who just showed sympathy for deformed mutants suddenly start's melting. And I don't mean in the Wizard of Oz type tradition either. The kids face literally turns to goop and no sooner had he shown sympathy for deformed mutants that he suddenly looks like he just looked at the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones. And what does his bacon-loving buddy do? Does he call an ambulance? Well keep in mind this guy may have been drinking so it's not that rational. In fact, it may be the cruelest thing anyone has ever done in X-men since Magneto ripped the adamantium out of Wolverine's body. He takes out his phone and starts filming it.

Now it's worth pointing out some real world parallels here. It wasn't long ago that some kid killed himself because his asshole roommate secretly video taped him, showing that he was a homosexual. That royally fucked up his life and was an utterly monumental dick move on the part of the roommates. I don't care how much this guy loves bacon, this is a dick move.

Hope (I got it right!) and the Five Lights detect this activity and spring into action. But while they're on their way to help this kid, his asshole friend decides he isn't a big enough douche-bag. So he starts broadcasting shots of his melting friend over the fucking internet. So not only is he freaking out, his life is being ruined. It's a lot for any kid to take in and as many of us who did dumb things that left permanent stains on their high school bathroom wall would know, teenagers don't always respond rationally. So while this poor kid is finding many reasons to unfriend this kid on Facebook, he grabs a fucking kitchen knife. No matter how drunk you may be, when someone starts swinging a knife you back the fuck up.

The Lights are on their way, really not sensing anything amiss at first. Then out of nowhere, they feel something and not in the same way you feel something when you see your first porno. It's more like you feel something when someone walks in on you with when you're holding said porno with a bottle of lotion and underwear that shall never be worn again. They know something is horribly wrong so Laurie in all her nude form jumps out of the X-jet and flies out ahead of them. When she arrives at this truth or dare nightmare, she makes a shocking discovery. That kid whose powers basically ruined his life is dead. It wasn't his powers that killed him either. He did that himself. That's right, a kid in a comic book commits suicide. It's not shown and it's not all that graphic either. But it gets a message across and it's a pretty damn powerful message.

Now this is quite a twist for a comic book. Whereas much of Generation Hope has involved needless Jean Grey hints and goofy teenage mutant antics, this is some serious shit. Teen suicide is something you just can't make a dick joke out of. It really happens and for reasons that aren't all that unbelievable in this comic. It's a very raw and very touchy issue. For Kieron Gillen and Marvel to address it is pretty bold and something that should be applauded.

The book then takes on a Nuff Said feel as no more dialog is said for the next few pages. The Five Lights arrive to see the body of the kid wheeled off. Hope is understandably pissed and that bacon loving douche-bag has made a bad name for every bacon loving douche-bag that ever lived. It's a sad moment because she knows they failed. They done fucked up and there's no way around it. If they got there sooner, Hope could have stabilized him and probably used her cultish personality to make him drop the knife. But that didn't happen. There's no supervillain here to beat up. There's just failure and a dead kid.

It seems over, but for some this shit can't stand. For some, these type of bacon-loving douche-bags need to be taken out. That's what Kenji tries to do after everyone leaves. He puts together some new art of his to sneak up on the kid and drill a fucking hole in his head so he'll think twice before being such an asshole again. It makes sense that this is Kenji. In the very first arc of Generation Hope, he had a much more liberal view of killing. But before he can start the lobotomy, Wolverine shows up to talk some sense into that twisted teenage brain of his.

From here, we learn a bit more about Kenji. Apparently, suicide hits close to home. His own father killed himself because he couldn't keep it in his pants and fess up to his mom that he's an asshole. They talk about how the world is fucked and on the seventh day God should have added fairness to the mix instead of resting. Now it's a bit odd getting advice from a guy whose killed more people than heavy metal music and OJ Simpson could ever hope to, but he makes a good point. Even if some people deserve death, that bacon-loving idiot does not. He's just what he is, an idiot. He then offers the it gets better line that has become such a rallying cry for people like that kid. It's a nice way to tie up a story that's based around this kind of tragedy.

In addition, Wolverine reminds Kenji that he's 19 and in Great Britain. That means they can reinforce another good message for the ages. A wise man once said that alcohol is the cause of and the solution to all of life's problems. When tragedy strikes and there's nothing you can do about it, sometimes the best thing you can do is just get shit faced. Excuse me. I just teared up a little.

I won't get too cute this time. This issue was pretty damn awesome. I know I've given Generation Hope some low marks lately. I think the book has earned those marks. For quite some time, the quality has really declined so for a single issue to come out of the blue and really kick ass like a Thai kick-boxer is a pleasant surprise. Kieron Gillen didn't just try to move the story of the Five Lights forward. He told a story that was more personal and more hard-hitting than most other comics on the racks. This was something very raw. A kid finds out he's got a condition he can't control and rather than deal with it, he kills himself. Not only that, his so-called friends made fun of him. That's pretty rough shit because that happens in real life. People have killed themselves over similar problems and for Kieron Gillen to craft a story like this is really amazing. Forget the whole Jean ripoff angle or the Five Lights. This is a story that hits readers on a personal level and hits them in all the right ways.

As powerful as the story was, there were still some sticking points. It was harsh, but like I said earlier it was a bit too tame. It could have gone further, but it didn't. Now I get that Marvel can't be too graphic here. This isn't the fucking MAX series where they can show tits, ass, and the Punisher ripping someone's guts out. But the story didn't even try to walk that fine line. That limited the impact, as strong as it still was. Gillen's writing was still strong, especially with Kenji at the end. However, this lost potential keeps this good story from becoming truly great.

Now as someone who still has night terrors about high school, I can fully appreciate these hard-hitting issues. I'm a big supporter of the it gets better movement. For Kieron Gillen and Marvel comics as a whole to do a story like this is something to applaud. Part of the original premise of the X-men was to relate to those who feel like outcasts. Generation Hope really tackled that issue and did so in a great way. It could have gone further, but it's still makes for a solid and memorable book. It may affect some more than others. It may come off as too light. Even so, it's a quality book from a series that desperately needed it. That's why I give Generation Hope #9 a 4 out of 5. It's a good segway into Schism. While issues like this may not affect the bigger picture of the X-books, it's definitely a story that's worth telling. No dick jokes here. I mean this in a way as serious as any raving drunk can say. Nuff said!

Friday, July 29, 2011

X-men Supreme Issue 38: Overlord Part 1 is LIVE

The end is near! At least it is for X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers! This fanfiction series has been building towards another climactic moment, one that links with many of the major events in both this volume and X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution. As with every major volume of stories, the end brings both closure and profound change. When the dust settles, the X-men and the world they live in will never be the same. This fanfiction series has grown in both scope and scale since it's inception. This new arc, Overlord, will amp up that scale in a way that words simply cannot describe! So for all those who have been eagerly waiting to see where X-men Supreme goes, I present to you the final arc of X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers!

Issue 38: Overlord Part 1

Make no mistake. This fanfiction series is going to undergo major changes! As with the real comics, X-men Supreme will go through progressions of development. One event leads into another. All events affect one another. In the middle of it all the X-men themselves go through changes both personal and in the greater scheme of this fanfiction series. The world that I've created is as much as a character as the X-men themselves and when you see the impact on the world as a whole by this arc, you'll understand!

Since this is set to be the final arc of X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers, it's even more important that I get feedback. This arc will set the stage for this fanfiction series in a major way. So many future events will stem from it so I'm eager to get feedback from my wonderful readers! Please contact me at any time or place your comments in each individual issue. In addition, be suer to stay tuned for more commissioned panels in the pics section! There's plenty more to come with X-men Supreme! Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


X-men Schism #2 - The Cracks of Awesome Begin

Move over Sunnis and Shittes! Get a room Israelis and Palestinians! Go make a porno liberals and conservatives! The real schism is taking place in the annuls of X-men! It's the event Marvel says is to the X-books what nitro is to glycerine. Wolverine and Cyclops, the Bert and Ernie of the X-men, are about to go from begrudging allies to two people who would like to see each other impaled by a rusted metal dildo. The first issue of Schism set up the conflict that was poised to tear them apart. Now it continues in X-men Schism #2.

In the last issue, you didn't see too many signs that Wolverine and Cyclops were going to start butchering one another. Aside from Cyclops waking him up and making Wolverine sit through a boring meeting at the UN, they hated each other no more than usual. Then an old buddy of Grant Morrison came knocking named Kid Omega. He made a massive public spectacle by using his powers to get all the world leaders to admit they were douche-bags on global TV. Now I'm all for a story that makes politicians look like assholes, but it had an unpleasant side-effect if you can believe that. It caused all the nations of the world to break out their old Sentinel weapons and throw them at the X-men. This is where X-men Schism #2 picks up. The attack has begun and the X-men have to defend themselves while trying to stay united.

It starts off in Iran. In the previous issue, the Iranian leader at the UN made quite a scene when he claimed the sentinels were about as real as Iran's nuclear weapon's program. Then Kid Omega poked that twisted little mind of his and revealed that he loved to beat children because it made him as happy as a school girl in a Barbie factory. Apparently, beating your kids isn't a big deal in Iran because his people are still supporting his sadistic ass. Having made an ass of himself, he does what any crazed tyrant would do. He prepares to unleash a giant robot. Granted, this is a country where clean water is akin to Christian gay porno so the prospect that they could get the sentinels working in the same way they get their nuclear weapons working is laughable. So it's not too surprising when the sentinel goes haywire and starts killing people.

As would be expected, this new global mutant crisis prompts the X-men to cancel class for the younger segment of the team. It's not quite as fun as a snow day, but most will take anything to get out of doing homework. Wolverine even tells them in a way that's not all that reassuring either that they need to stay in their rooms and wait until the giant mutant-killing robots are sent back to Radioshack. This actually leads to a pretty compelling scene between Wolverine and Idie, who really hasn't had a chance to do dick in Generation Hope. She outright says to Wolverine that they're monster. He doesn't agree, but it doesn't bother her. It seems to stick with Wolverine as he goes to meet up with Cyclops and Emma, who are trying to govern this latest crisis. But Wolverine is definitely affected by her statement. It shows in how he's extra mean to Cyclops, which can be hard to gauge at times. But trust me! The subtext is there!

Then we leave the serious and the dramatic to take a stroll down WTF boulevard. Remember the end of the last issue? The one where a 12-year-old kid shot his father and manged to become Black King of the Hellfire Club? Well it turns out that shit wasn't a joke or some illusion that even the best prescription meds from a Mexican pharmacy couldn't match. It really happened. This Kilgore kid is actually Black King and now the Hellfire Club happens to consist of old men. Now I usually don't read too deeply into works of fiction, but when a boy is involved in an organization of old men then something very sick is going on or it's a NAMBLA conference. Whatever the case, this kid somehow has these old men wrapped around his finger. They give him four billion dollars and allow him to implement this master plan of his, which may or may not involve slaughtering any and all teachers that ever gave him homework.

A kid running the Hellfire Club is almost less believable than mutants fighting killer robots. It's actually a relief to see the X-men doing what they do best, spanning the globe and taking out all the old sentinels that every country has stock piled. It's a nice way of showing that this story involves all the X-men and not just the Cyclops/Wolverine bromance. By far one of the best moments comes when Rogue and Kitty Pryde visit Iran. Remember that child-beating leader of theirs? Well he's quite emasculated when two beautiful mutant women who have no problem showing their cleavage destroy his sentinel and save his sadistic life. If that weren't humiliating enough, Kitty makes it a point to say that she's Jewish as well.

Now I'm not usually one to make political statements that don't involve making fun of Glenn Beck, but this was by far the most satisfying scene in the issue. It made me stand up and shout "Take that, Iran! America, fuck yeah!" So thank you, Marvel! Thanks for tapping my inner patriot!

I'm sure Wolverine and Cyclops would be content to blow up every sentinel, call it a day, and have a beer together. But back on Utopia, Wolverine is in a worse mood than usual. He hates the idea of being left behind while others go out and butcher sentinels. Hell, that's his idea of a Saturday morning jog. But Cyclops insists that he and the X-men's heavy hitters stay on Utopia in case someone pulls a wild card (although I bet he's not anticipating a sinister plot by a crazy kid). Wolverine also insists they go after Kid Omega, who started this mess when he made his little political statement in the last issue. While he and Cyclops argue, Kid Omega saves them the trouble. He shows up right at their doorstep, looking more smug than Donald Trump when he's taking a stroll down Harlem.

Speaking of smug, remember that kid? Well at the risk of implying too much pederasty, he enlists other kids his age to help him out with this sinister plan of his. These other kids look like the kind of kids you would find in a Middle School whining about how their mommy and daddy won't let them wear thongs or watch Cinemax after 11 pm. But they carry themselves like Kilgore. They meet up with what look like a cross between aliens and a crazy pitbull you might see your hillbilly neighbor unleash on the mail man when he fails to deliver his monthly porno. For some reason, these kids approach it as if they're buying candy (or pot). The aliens actually sound like the rational ones because they think it's pretty fucked up they're dealing with kids. Then one of them throws a hissy fit and fucking butchers their ass. No, I'm not joking. A 12-year-old girl with a Hello Kitty pack and all turns into the fucking Punisher and slaughters these aliens just to take some creepy canister that looks like it came from Jack Kavorkian's basement. It's more WTF icing piled atop a layer that was already smothering the series.

Now I poke fun at this whole kid Hellfire deal, but there is a serious issue here. Using kids in the Hellfire Club is quite a twist, but it walks a fine line between twist and just plain fucked up. I mean I know 12-year-olds are pretty sadistic creatures. They're underdeveloped brains make them capable of so much irrational cruelty. But turning them into these Hellfire goons is pretty fucked up even by comic book standards. I'm assuming there are more details that haven't been revealed, but some hints or clues would help combat the WTF aspect. For a comic that's supposed to be part of a serious turning point, it really is fucked up.

Back in the more rational world of mutants, sentinels, and Emma Frost's boobs there are some more serious matters at hand. Quentin Quere's smug entrance is about as welcome as a cockroach. Wolverine wastes no time in roughing him up. He also suggests they bring in Captain America and the Avengers to help them. It makes perfect sense. This is a global threat and the Avengers fighting alongside the X-men would help give them some badly needed credibility. This is where Cyclops makes a decision that marks a huge turning point for him and the X-books as a whole.

He says no. Captain America even calls them and offers his assistance. Yet Cyclops actually goes so far as to hide Quentin and LIE to the guy that bangs lady liberty like no one else can. He's logic is pretty fucked up. He believes that mutants need to resolve this in order to maintain their credibility. Well after all this time of making tough decisions that seem to always pan out, he's making one so bone headed that he seems like a regular, incompetent politician. It's a huge shift because ever since the Utopia arc, Cyclops has been the man with the plan. Now he's Rear Admiral Dip-Shit, ignoring help and trying to go solo. He should have called up George W. Bush and asked him how that worked out. Maybe then he would realize just how dumb a decision he's making.

To his credit, Wolverine doesn't go blathering to Cap that Cyclops is jerking his chain and not in the way classic San Francisco way. He keeps Quentin quiet like a good, loyal compatriot ought to. But he makes it clear that he doesn't like it. He would much rather have the help of a guy who has been fighting killer robots longer than anyone. But he doesn't. It marks the first real sticking point where Wolverine starts to hate following Cyclops's orders for reasons that don't involve him sleeping with Jean Grey. Kid Omega is still really smug about it, but Cyclops makes it clear he hates his guts and if he knows what's good for him he'll be grateful that they don't publicly crucify his sorry ass.

So they have Kid Omega in custody and the sentinels everybody is throwing at them are more outdated than Gordan Gekko's cell phone. So it sounds like this is an easy crisis to resolve. Well when is it ever THAT easy for the X-men? As it just so happens, there's a museum celebrating mutant history opening that. It's presumably next to the museum documenting the history of bondage and S&M. But seeing as how Quentin hit the X-men during a very public event, it stands to reason that they'll get another nasty surprise at their next public event. So like any semi-competent leader, Cyclops has the X-men show up in force. Yeah, that's a peaceful gesture. Again, it shows signs that Cyclops is slipping and slipping worse than Mel Gibson in a cynagog.

Even if it's a questionable public gesture, it's not without merit. Because while they're entering the museum amidst so much public scrutiny, the Kilgore kid and his kid Hellfire goons are preparing to strike. Remember, they still have that creepy alien spore they bought from those poor aliens that were just looking to pick on some snotty Earth children. So they've already got a mean streak going and they're prepared to keep it going. That means we'll finally get some convergence on this WTF story with the Kilgore kid and what's going on with the X-men. I hope by the end it makes enough sense to make me stop banging my head against a piece of heavy mining equipment. I've already brained my damage enough.

The end of this issue makes it official official! The cracks have shown and some WTF has seeped through. The highlight of this issue among many is the first clear sign that Cyclops is losing his grip on power. And it's not because of an outside threat this time. It's his own incompetence. His balls have grown too heavy for his scrotum to support. He thinks his country can deal with both the sentinels and Quentin. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance and Cyclops pretty much date raped it in this issue. It's a clear sign that Cyclops is starting to lose it. He's held onto his power and the unity of his kind for this long. Now he's poised to make a mistake that will give Wolverine one too many reasons to stab him. More than anything else, this makes the issue truly groundbreaking.

While Cyclops's inner George Bush was a the highlight, the new Hellfire Club was the lowlight. So a kid worms his way into the Hellfire Club, which is now run by old men? What is this, Ancient Greece? When did the Hellfire Club start making pederasty it's new policy? If that weren't fucked up enough, the new Black King recruits more kids who are somehow more sadistic than your typical 12-year-old. I'm not sure if Marvel is trying to send a message that kids are evil and we should stop reproducing or if there's something else that's making these kids competent enough not to piss themselves when they start making deals with alien killers. I'm willing to wait and see what comes of this truly WTF twist that Marvel is developing. It doesn't completely detract from the issue, but it is a goofy twist that makes the book somewhat hard to take seriously at times.

Until that explanation about the new kid-centric Hellfire Club comes, Schism will have a serious hole in the plot. However, this issue still succeeds in a key area. It begins the actual schism between Wolverine and Cyclops. Jason Aaron crafts that moment wonderfully, showing in a way that's perfectly in line with the characters how the animosity begins. Now it's poised to grow over the course of the next three issues. A lot can happen in that time. The potential is there and this issue succeeded in setting up so much of it. That's why I give X-men Schism #2 a 4 out of 5. It an issue that gives Cyclops and Wolverine more reasons to beat the shit out of each other and you know more are coming so it can only get bloodier! Since that seems to be the very core of this series, I deem the beginning of Schism a success! Nuff said!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #12 - Dramatic Awesome

Well bend me over, kiss my ass, and shave the hair off my balls! The wait is over! The next issue of Uncanny X-Force has arrived! Has it really been that long? In the time between issue 11 and issue 12, Casey Anthony became a free woman and Amy Whinehouse went to that big rehab clinic in a sky. Damn! It has been too long! For a time, this series was on rapid fire. Rick Remender churned out quality stories the same way Russia churns out quality vodka and tennis stars/cover girls. He really stepped up his game as he began the Dark Angel Saga, his dimension hopping uber-arc that linked 616 with Age of Apocalypse. The last issue ended with X-Force stranded in Age of Apocalypse and Wolverine finally confronting a version of Jean Grey that he doesn't have to immediately stab. To have to wait this long for a story like that is like having to wait 134 days for the NFL to get back in business. Wait...bad example!

Now I'll be the first to point out that crossovers are gimmicks by definition. They can be pretty damn cheap sometimes. They're like the reality TV of comics. However, just like over 95 percent or reality TV is trash, there's a small 5 percent where crossovers can be pretty damn awesome. What makes Uncanny X-Force crossing over with 616 so compelling is that Age of Apocalypse has a number of characters that are currently shacking up with Amy Whinehouse in 616. Nightcrawler, Jean Grey, and Sabretooth are all dead and buried and Marvel has little inclination to bring their asses back. So instead, we get a story where X-Force gets to confront these characters and we get to see them in a way that isn't the same as a full blown resurrection, but it's something none-the-less. It's like having your cake and eating it to. It's not quite the same. It's still a gimmick. But it can still be awesome! It takes a damn good writer to make a gimmick awesome and Rick Remender has shown with Uncanny X-Force that he's pretty damn good.

Now in the last issue, it was a fairly compelling moment when Wolverine and X-Force confronted Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler and Sabretooth. But the real pants-shitting reaction came when he met up with Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey, who unlike her 616 counterpart was never cock-blocked from shacking up with Wolverine. So when he saw her and she saw him, it was a big fucking deal. Rick Remender ended the last issue with them seeing one another for a reason. That's exactly where this issue begins.

Now I'll also go on record as saying that I think the Wolverine/Jean Grey relationship in 616 is more fucked than a three dollar whore outside a Viagra factory. But Age of the Apocalypse is one of the few (actually, it's the only) places where the relationship actually worked. So it's awkward for both of them. Wolverine is left with a bottle of whiskey making sense of it, musing how he had such a huge hard-on for Jean Grey. Then Age of Apocalypse Jean comes in and reminds him that the Wolverine she knew is gone and she misses that sweet, feral ass of his. It makes for a powerful moment and one that will send Jean Grey fans into seizures for the next month or so or whenever the hell the next issue comes out.

While Jean is lamenting on how she lost her version of Wolverine, the Wolverine that never got to tap that beautiful ass of hers is musing endlessly on how hot she is and how much he wants to bone her. He does show some reservation to make it seem like he's not a complete prick. He reminds Jean that he's not the same Logan that she fell in love with. He also reminds himself that he's boning someone else at the moment, which would be Melita. That doesn't stop AOA Jean from actually hinting that it might be better if he stayed in the world Apocalypse ravaged just to be with her. So she lost her Wolverine and she's okay with a substitute. Not sure what that says about her, but it's no more fucked up than any of the other relationships Marvel has ever utilized.

Now I'll state again that the Wolverine/Jean relationship was so horribly managed in 616 that I had mixed feelings about this scene. But given that this is AOA Jean, it does have a different context and one that is very well-done. I still have a problem with Remender depicting Jean as the love of Wolverine's life. Never mind his fascination with redhead pre-dated Jean (which would be Rose) and that he came close to marrying Mariko. I disagree strongly with him making it sound like Wolverine is overly hung up on Jean Grey when he still makes pilgrimages to Mariko's grave every year. But that doesn't make the kiss Jean tempts him into any less sweet.

But just like in 616, Wolverine gets cock-blocked before he can enjoy this moment. This time it isn't Cyclops who gets in his way. It's a fucking sentinel. And in the Age of Apocalypse universe, that's a pretty big deal because Apocalypse uses more style in their killer robots in 616. Also keep in mind they're in Atlantis, which means they're fucking underwater so it's a dangerous attack. But AOA Jean shows that she's more badass than even the Jean that Wolverine knew and makes quick work of it. Again, Jean fans should go into their second round of seizures at this point. If you start seeing blue flashes and a face of Teddy Roosevelt calling you a pussy, then it's time to call a doctor.

The sentinel attack means that Apocalypse knows where the X-men are. So that means Atlantis is no longer safe for them (as if anywhere was safe on Age of Apocalypse to begin with). That means Jean and Logan don't have time for a quick bone. They have to rally the troops and make their move. So they meet up with the rest of the Age of Apocalypse misfits, which included a neutered MODOK and a twisted version of X-men that looks like something Alan Moore would write on his lunch break. They discuss their mission, which links to this celestial seed that X-Force needs to save Angel. And since Dark Beast screwed them over (again) by stranding them in Age of Apocalypse, they have to find a way to get back.

So the mission they come up with is two-fold. One team would locate the ruins of a dead celestial to recover the components of the seed. The other would seek out the Age of Apocalypse version of Gateway, whose powers they say should get them back to their world. There's just one problem, one that goes beyond raiding the dead body of a Celestial. Gateway is in the Akkaba prison, which is their version of Guantanamo Bay mixed with Alcatraz. It's not a tourist attraction or a prop in a Michael Moore movie. It's dangerous on a level that even Deadpool can't joke about, but seeing as how Atlantis is now essentially an underwater coffin they really don't have a choice.

Before they head off onto this mission, we get another enema of soap-opera drama. But this is the good kind! The one you pay a prostitute working her way through med-school to do. This time it's Psylocke and Fantomex. Now Fantomex has made no secret of his intent to bone Psylocke. Hell, he seems intent on boning every beautiful woman like any snooty faux French man would. But he's being a hell of a dick to Psylocke because she's trying to save Angel. Everything she's doing on this mission is to save the man she loves and that's a pretty big issue for her. So leave it to Fantomex to be a massive dick-cheese by saying she's deluding herself into thinking that this is healthy for her. What makes it even worse is the man has a point.

Now I normally don't agree with snooty jack-offs like Fantomex, but he hits the nail on the head with Psylocke and not in a way that costs a hundred bucks in Tijuana. He points out that so much of Psylocke's relationship with Angel has been about helping him. That she loves being needed almost as much as she loves the man. There may be some truth to that because throughout Uncanny X-Force, most of their relationship has revolved around Psylocke helping Angel with his Arcangel persona. He's not wrong to point that out. It's a great way to add a new angle to a relationship that has just begun to face such scrutiny.

As expected, Psylocke punches Fantomex in the face for being an asshole. But then in a move that's completely unexpected, she fucking kisses him. Or actually, he kisses her. Yeah, he's a jerk, but he's a jerk that can get a woman's panties wet in all the right ways. He's a guy who doesn't need help and that is something that can appeal to Psylocke. It doesn't come completely out of nowhere since Fantomex has flirted with her before, but it still seems a bit contrived. It's one of the few instances where the cover of a comic isn't a massive tease. But Psylocke does push him away. She makes it clear that she's not giving up on Angel just because some smooth-talking French man told her so, although she is clearly tempted. It adds yet another layer of drama on top of Wolverine having a chance to bone an inter-dimensional version of Jean.

The teams separate before anyone else can try to get in a quick bone. Fantomex's team heads off to find the Celestial. Wolverine and Jean's team heads off to Akkaba. Along the way, Wolverine meets up with Kirika, who is his daughter in Age of Apocalypse. She's like a cross between X-23 and Psylocke, which in and of itself should give everyone with an Asian fetish a six-foot boner. It also gives Wolverine a chance to bond with someone who doesn't have red hair, showing that he's not just out to get freaky with a redhead.

When they arrive at the prison, it's as dark and dreary as you would expect any prison run by Apocalypse. It's a shitty place to find their ticket home, but no worse than a TSA pat down at LAX I suppose. Along the way, Wolverine makes a bold request. He suggests to Jean that since Age of Apocalypse is pretty much fucked that some of them (namely her) comes back to 616 with him. Now this is a hell of a turn. Earlier he was trying to push Jean away because she wasn't the Jean he knew. Now he's asking her to come back? I guess he (and Rick Remender) forgot about Melita. That's quite a shift and one that will leave some with mixed feelings. 616 already has a Jean Grey knock-off in Hope Summers. It doesn't need a psudeo-Jean from another dimension. Luckily, they don't get much of a chance to debate it because Apocalypse's prison guards show up and they're not just overpaid guys in uniforms. They're basically a collection of Marvel heroes and villains that were run through a Marilyn Manson concert. It's as awesome as it sounds.

The team knows this isn't a fight they can win. So rather than push their luck, they let their balls shrivel and make a run for it. Now you would expect in a comic like this that Remender just throw as much action into the scene as possible, but it makes sense when you consider they're not looking to beat the shit out of an Apocalypse-fueled band of super-powered assholes. They're trying to find their ticket home. Well they don't end up running too far because they end up finding it. They also find out what happened to the Wolverine in Age of Apocalypse. Earlier, Jean Grey told a story about how he was lost in a battle against Apocalypse. Well he apparently got better and got a promotion in the process. That's right! Just as Angel is becoming Apocalypse in 616, Wolverine became Apocalypse in AOA! He shows he's not a nice guy when he fucking kills Kirka, the daughter Wolverine never even got a chance to know. That's what X-Force is up against. That's the kind of shit you can only get in a book like this!

So once again, Marvel throws a corpse into the mix to add shock value for a book. Now at this stage in comics, most should be pretty numb to shit like this. But when it's done with such an amazingly awesome backdrop, that numbness is nullified and as overstimulated as Ted Haggard's dick at an Elton John concert. This final moment is like a cherry on top of a perfectly layered cake. This issue was heavy on drama, dumping a lot of ink on soap-opera shit like Jean/Wolverine and Psylocke/Fantomex. One made you go aww and the other made you want to shit out your kidneys. Then in between we get a sentinel attack, an assault by a fucked up collection of biker villains, and the appearance of Wolverocalypse (I know that sounds goofy as hell, but that's what I'm calling him). You couldn't ask for more if it came with a free bag of weed.

If there's any flaw with this book, it's that it took so damn long to get here! I get that awesome shit is worth waiting for, but when a book is so heavy on drama like this one then waiting sure doesn't help. Over time, you get overstimulated by other shit like Fear Itself and Schism. Also, certain fans with certain tastes may be turned off. There are those out there who despise the Jean/Logan relationship and for good reason. You may not agree with Rick Remender's note at the beginning about how Jean Grey was the love of Logan's life. That's bullshit on a stick. He nearly married Mariko and Jean married Cyclops. Remender needs to check up on his history. Then there's the whole issue with Melita. One minute Wolverine is pushing Jean away and then he's offering her to come back to 616 with him and why would he want to do that? Just so she could stand around and make Cyclops look like an idiot (when he doesn't need help with that in the first place)? It's too much of a 180 and pretty much ignores the Melita issue. But if you don't really give a shit about Wolverine's love life, there' not much else to complain about.

Uncanny X-Force has been one of the best X-books on the rack since it started and the Dark Angel Saga is already cementing itself as the arc that will solidify it in the annuls of X-books for years to come. There are still a lot of unresolved issues. The stage is definitely set for some crazy shit involving Wolverocalypse. The prospect of some Age of Apocalypse refugees finding their way to 616 is a big fucking deal as well, even if the whole timeline of this arc is still confusing as hell. Overall, at a time when there are a lot of exciting X-books unfolding, Uncanny X-Force #12 still finds a way to stand out. For that, it's awesome deserves extra praise! I give this issue a very spirited 5 out of 5. It tells a great story while putting dead characters to good use. It's an awesome combination that makes Uncanny X-Force worth it's weight in adamantium! Nuff said!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Captain America - Patriotic Awesome

It's been a damn good year for Marvel's movie division. As I blogged earlier this year, Thor was a godly orgy of awesome complete with Natalie Portman's ass to make it all the more sweet. This movie, like Iron Man before it, is assembling a massive load of C4 caliber awesome to help build up the impending nuclear blast of pants-shitting awesome that is the Avengers movie. But like any self-respecting Marvel fan knows, you can't have the Avengers without Captain America. That's where Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger movie comes in.

Now this movie wasn't without controversy and some of it was fairly warranted. The man who got the role of Steve Rogers, Chris Evans, is no stranger to Marvel movies. He also played Johnny Storm in the two maligned Fantastic Four movies, two movies that despite solid visuals had about as much depth as a two-year-old's fingerpainting. I've yet to see both movies fully sober and Chris Evan's flat performance was only the 5th thing wrong with that movie. But unlike some fans, I believe in second chances so I gave Chris Evans the benefit of the doubt with Captain America.

The movie starts out in the present with a scene all Cap fans should be familiar with. SHIELD, having too much free time and money on their hands, search an arctic wasteland for ruins of something deemed more precious than gold or the Grateful Dead's secret stash. They end up finding Captain America encased in ice and from here, we go from the present to the past. This is where most of the movie takes place, but it's not just one big flashback. If anything, the present is the prelude. The real meat of the story takes place in the 1940s where Steve Rogers is a sickly kid from Brooklyn and everyone else is busy shitting their pants over the prospect of Nazis taking over the world.

In these early parts of the movie, we don't get straight into the action. We actually get a glimpse into the kind of man that Steve Rogers really is. He's not some tragic figure who pisses and moans about everything. He's a guy who God slacked off on when crafting his body, but he doesn't let that stop him. He's willing to pick fights with guys who can kick his ass and he's willing to lie in order to get into the army to go fight the Nazis. He's basically the anti-George W. Bush.

One of the most powerful scenes in this area is when Professor Erskin, the man behind the super soldier formula, does a quick test to find his first specimen. He takes a grenade and throws it into a crowd of recruits. It's a bit of a dick move, but it makes a point. While all the other macho men tighten their assholes and adjust their panties, the sickly and weak Steve Rogers dives right on top of the grenade. I don't care who you are, but that shit takes balls and it proves more than anything that Steve Rogers is the man for the job.

So Steve gets his shot at the Super Soldier serum. And low and behold, it works. He becomes the strong, tough guy that used to beat the shit out of him. Except he doesn't let it go to his head. He uses his skills to chase after the goons from Hydra, who have secretly become the kind of force that Hitler could only have jerked off to in his sleep. They succeed in killing Professor Erskin, which pretty much puts Captain America on a collision course with these assholes that would dominate the rest of the movie.

At first, he doesn't get his shot. Rather than send him into the field to kick ass against the Nazis, the politician of the 40s show they're as shameless as the politicians of today. They send Cap on a PR campaign to beef up support for the war. They dress him up in what looks like the Captain America costume my old roommate wore to a Halloween party, which he later pissed in when he got drunk. But that's another story. Naturally, Steve Rogers doesn't care for this shit so when nobody is willing to throw him into the field, he throws himself into the field. With balls as tough as adamantium, he single-handedly frees over 400 prisoners from Hydra including his old buddy Bucky Barnes. This finally gets the point across. He's not a showman. He's a soldier and he's ready to kick some ass.

His chief opponent is the Red Skull, who throughout the movie is working to tap a power that if you stayed after the credits for the Thor movie you will recognize. Somehow, this guy got his hands on the fucking cosmic cube and is preparing to use it to sodomize the world on a level not seen since boy bands hit it big in the late 90s. There isn't much depth to the guy. He sees himself as a demigod, drunk with power. He doesn't get the same treatment that Steve Rogers gets in that we never find out what makes him tick. That's a bit of a shame because there's no denying that the son-of-a-bitch is motivated. He makes it a point to beat the shit out of Captain America any chance he gets. This is what leads to the big climax of the movie when Cap has to stop the Red Skull from bombing the entire eastern seaboard of the US with cosmic cube powered bombs.

It makes for a heroic finale, but the best parts happen when the credits stop rolling! Like with Thor and Iron Man, we get some extra scenes. However, this time it's a lot more than just a teaser. It's a full blown trailer for the Avengers movie! If you see this trailer and your brain is still intact, you're either comatose or dead! THAT'S how awesome it is.

So what can I say about Captain America overall? Well for one thing, it made me feel patriotic again. After a decade of George W. Bush, my love for America was ranked at about the same place as my love for my back scratcher. America doesn't give us a lot of reasons to love her these days, but Captain America epitomizes what makes America awesome. Chris Evans fully redeems himself from Fantastic Four. He depicts both the hero and the man with Steve Rogers. He leads a story that's full of action, personal drama, and depth. Moreover, the details in this movie closely connect with the other Marvel movies. Howard Stark shows up as does the cosmic cube and references to Norse mythology. It's a beautifully coherent and beautifully crafted story that sets the stage for the Avengers movie. For that, I can only say that Captain America accomplishes everything it set out to accomplish. For that, I give it a 5 out of 5. It's not quite as good as Thor, but it's within spitting distance! If you want to see the next step to the Avengers movie and get a sneak peak while you're at it, you owe it to yourself to see this movie! If you start agonizing over the prospect of waiting until next summer to see Avengers, then don't worry. That's to be expected! Nuff said.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Uncanny X-men #541 - Making Unstoppable Awesome

Bear with me, I'm still hung over from the recent announcements about Uncanny X-men going day-and-date digital release. I feel like Juggernaut and Hulk are taking tap-dancing lessons on my head at the moment so forgive me if my dick, poop, and boob jokes are a little off. This is a great time to be a fan of the X-books because between Fear Itself, Schism, Uncanny X-Force, and X-23 no fan has any excuse to not find something awesome. If so, then you're a douche-bag. I'm sorry, but that's the only way I can put it. An embarrassment of riches like this doesn't come along too often. We have no idea how long it will last until someone comes along and fucks it up so like a good bottle of whiskey, enjoy it!

Uncanny X-men recently dove head first into the pool of topless bikini models that is Fear Itself. Uncanny X-men #540 took the events that began in Fear Itself and showed how they affected the X-men in their neck of the woods. San Francisco is certainly not equipped to handle super-powered beings armed with magic hammers and anger management issues. A city of hippies, gay pride parades, and pot dispensaries needs the X-men to step up. The last issue had the city stare down a poison tipped dildo that was ready to fuck them over in all the wrong ways. That poison tipped dildo...Juggernaut. And he's packing some heat courtesy of the Serpent!

Now the last issue I reviewed really fed off the quality from Fear Itself. I commended Kieron Gillen from not giving into the obvious temptation to just turn the whole issue into some over-the-top beat-em-up between the X-men and Juggernaut. The way Fear Itself was set up, he could have gotten away with it and used the paycheck he got from the issue to buy his wife a diamond ring that would have earned him get-out-of-mowing-the-lawn duties for the rest of the year. Lesser men would have taken the easy way out. He did not. Instead, he spent Uncanny X-men #540 setting up the action and the situation. He had Juggernaut make a new friend and by that I mean he fucking mind-wiped some random kid into being his fanatical cult-follower/prison bitch. It was a solid transition that took Fear Itself right to the doorstep of Uncanny. Well now the time for building it up is over. It's time for people to start beating the shit out of each other.

Uncanny X-men #541 starts by introducing Mayor Sadie of San Francisco to a headache the X-men have endured for many years. Juggernaut is on his way to her city and he must be receiving subliminal messages from Michele Bachman because he's prepared to level their decadent city like Sodom and Gomorrah, except Juggernaut uses his bear hands and doesn't need no stinkin' divine retribution! To get a sense of what's going on, they meet up with Emma Frost. And by meet up with her, I mean she sends a telepathic conference call that has them in this psychic mind-scape that looks like the set of a porno. Emma is even dressed as a sexy cowgirl who looks like she was fired from the Dallas Cowboys cheer-leading squad for trying to bone Tony Romo, Emmitt Smith, and Roger Staughbach at once. But it's Emma freakin' Frost. This is how she roles. Accept it, jerk off to it, and be happy.

Once you're done firing off some knuckle-babies, you return to see Juggernaut arriving in San Francisco. He makes himself at home the same way drunken frat boys make themselves at home. He starts blowing shit up. All this while irrational protesters are letting the Serpent's whole wave of fear fuck them like a Bankok transvestite on meth. And remember that kid from the last issue? The one who got roped into being Juggernaut's rodeo clown for stealing a fucking candy bar? He plays the part of a preacher and the way he preaches would make even Jeremiah Wright cringe.

So after some coordination with Emma Frost and Mayor Sadie, the X-men show up on the scene to take on this guy who was unstoppable before he had a hammer forged by a pissed off Asgardian god. Cyclops plays his usual strategy role. He has Cecila Reyes and Emma Frost protect the civilians so they don't become wack-a-moles in Juggernaut's attack. Then he, Colossus, Shadowcat, Iceman, and Magneto begin their attack. It goes about as well as you would expect any attack to go against an unstoppable force. They might as well be trying to refill the oceans by spitting in them. Juggernaut really doesn't break a sweat, which when you've got a giant hammer on your side should be a given.

That hammer isn't just good for ruining perfectly good pants either. In addition to being strong and invincible, Juggernaut actually does show that the hammer has other uses. When Magneto enters the picture, he demonstrates way. Even though the hammer is made of metal, Magneto can't stop it. Some master of magnetism he is. He makes a comment that the hammer is as unstoppable as Juggernaut. It isn't just because he threw the damn thing like Nolan Ryan. It's part of his power.

This adds a slight if not miniscule touch of intrigue. We haven't really found out much about what this hammer is doing to Juggernaut. In Fear Itself, he just picked it up and that's it. He became Juggernaut 2.0, the Asgardian upgrade. He was unstoppable before. So what's this hammer doing? Is it making it so that he's unstoppable in a way that makes for more than just a good pick-up line? It's not clear, but it is an intriguing possibility that might actually get some brain cells working while you're still drooling over the pages.

So even Magneto is as useful as a Vanilla Ice Greatest Hits album against Juggernaut. This forces Cyclops to reconvene with Emma and Mayor Sadie via psychic conference. They have to figure out how to stop a guy who was already unstoppable and now has an unstoppable hammer on top of it. Sadie wants every X-man, including the kids whose powers only involve farting toxic fumes, to save her city. Cyclops and Emma remind her that throwing kids into battle is crazy even by San Francisco standards. So Cyclops orders a new strategy. This one involves someone with red hair, green eyes, and cosmic power. That's right! She's back! Jean Grey is...oh wait, it's still fucking Hope Summers. Never mind!

I'll skip another rant about rip-off characters. Cyclops's strategy is not without merit. He takes as many mutants as Utopia can offer and puts them around Hope, who is like the Wal-Mart of mutant powers minus the lawsuits. Surrounded by all these mutants, she takes on as many powers as she can at once. With those powers, tears into Juggernaut with the kind of force that James Cameron only wishes he could use in the Avatar sequel. It's flashy, it's intense, and it's pretty fucking awesome. Seeing a teenage girl kick Juggernaut's ass when the X-men and Magneto could not is just satisfying in a way you can't describe without a handful of valium and a tank of laughing gas. Not only is it flashy, it works. She gets Juggernaut's helmet off. And like so many previous battles, the next step is easy.

Except this time is different. This time, a simple psychic shot to the brain isn't enough to make Juggernaut go sleepy bye. He's channeling Asgardian level power. His mind is no longer on the same level as a burned out football player who had one too many concussions and one too many shots of steroids in his ass. So when Emma Frost, who has been manning Cerebra the whole time, launches her attack, it doesn't go as planned. Her eyes start glowing, which could mean any number of things. Maybe she saw a thong that she had yet to wear yet or Cyclops's penis finally overpowered her. But whatever it is, Emma Frost loses this mind game. It's just not clear why and it would be a lot easier if it was clear.

It doesn't get much clearer either. Remember that psychic conference room that looked like a strip club in Dallas? Well once Emma's mind gets overpowered, that crazy kid with the tattoos somehow enters. Now this guy got punched out by Cyclops ten pages ago. How the fuck he came into this psychic domain isn't even hinted at. He doesn't say much to indicate what he's up to. He just keeps droning on about how the Juggernaut can't be stopped, as if we haven't heard that for over 40 fucking years of X-men comics. Not only that, he somehow takes the form of Juggernaut and then proceed to stomp on Mayor Sadie and Cyclops. But keep in mind, they're in that psychic conference room. It doesn't kill them. It just jolts them back to reality. It's as fucked up as it sounds.

It still doesn't stop there. They're no longer in that psychic domain. They're back in the real world, looking around and seeing all the destruction Juggernaut has brought. That's really about it. Juggernaut doesn't finish them off or anything. He just keeps walking. I really don't know what more I can say about it. I want to make a poop joke, but I'm too busy scratching my head. So Juggernaut kicks their asses, resists Emma's psychic probe, and then that groupie of his cuts off the psychic conferencing? And then he just walks away? Did I miss something? Am I really that hung over?

We don't get much else in terms of hints. Emma's eyes are still glowing. That's really all she can do now. This leads me to the same rant I went on in my last review. In Uncanny X-men #540, Emma and Namor had a rather awkward encounter. By awkward I mean Namor tried to bone her and why not? She's Emma fucking Frost. But in this issue absolutely nothing comes of it...again! It's happened before. Emma and Namor have shared awkward moments, but as always nobody does shit with it. It might as well have not even happened. Now maybe it'll come up later in this arc, but a teaser or two sure would help. The same shit happened in Matt Fraction's last Uncanny arc. It looks like Emma faces something dramatic, but it's glossed over and completely forgotten about. You would think that Marvel would try to do more with their flagship vixen that all their fans fantasize about boning. But really she still comes off as a fucking barbie doll. If something is going to happen with her before the Uncanny relaunch, now is a good time. But if recent history is any indication, it's not worth getting your hopes up.

X-men vs. Juggernaut is as classic a fight you can get without pitting Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in a cage match. It's been done many times before. There are only so many ways you can tell the story about the X-men ripping off Juggernaut's fish-bowl helmet and have it be compelling. In that sense Kieron Gillen is basically having to write this story after Joe Pesci walked in and smashed his hands with a hammer. But somehow, he's able to make this classic and arguably overused element work. There's a personal element and there's the mindless violence element that those who get off on blood lust get their rock off. Gillen doesn't just focus on the X-men. Mayor Sadie and the city of San Francisco itself is very much a character in this series. This isn't just an X-men vs. Juggernaut Round 48729452985 brawl. It feels like a strong part of the Fear Itself story.

The action was solid. The personal touch was there. However, the only thing keeping this comic from being perfect was the coherence at the end. One WTF moment is enough to really kill the momentum like a jackhammer to the base of the skull. It's not that it was completely outrageous in the same way half the anime porn that comes out of Japan is outrageous. It just isn't really that clear what happens at the end. As such it's a little hard to get excited about the next issue when you don't know what the fuck happened at the end of the last issue. That's like being excited about a blowjob and not knowing if the person giving it to you is a hot chick, an ugly ass tranny, or some hobo who thinks your penis is the antenna to the aliens controlling his mind. When it comes to a story like this, a little clarity goes a long ways.

Aside from the end, the book is pretty damn solid. It builds on most of the foundations Gillen made in the previous issue. It nicely mixes in the Fear Itself elements while demonstrating some new combat strategies that make Hope Summers somewhat less a bratty Jean Grey rip-off and the badass bitch that Cable raised in a post-apocalyptic future. While the end makes it hard to gauge just where the hell this arc is going and what will come of it, there's still a solid comic here. It's not as good as the previous issue, but it's so close it can smell it's farts. I give Uncanny X-men #541 a 4 out of 5. Now if the next issue can ease up on the WTF and give San Fransisco a remodeling that every gay guy on Castro Street will go crazy trying to fix then we'll have something truly awesome with this arc. Nuff said!

Friday, July 22, 2011

SDCC X-men Panel - Hints, Teases, and More Reasons to Get Drunk

Well I've been waiting for and dreading it all week! I made sure I was good and drunk before it happened. I got naked just in case. Sometimes I get excited and it helps to be naked, especially when these comic panels are such a mixed bag. There have been years where I've come away needing a good kick in balls and a thorough shower to wipe off the stench. There have also been years where I need to inject beta blockers into the base of my spine because the awesome is just so intense that my heart would explode if I allowed it to overwhelm me. I'm never sure which it will be. This year we've had Schism, Fear Itself tie-ins, a new Uncanny writer, more Jean Grey teases, Age of X, X-23, and Children's Crusade. So the guys at Marvel that actually get paid to blow our minds have a lot to work with. CBR posted a full report and I think I can say with confidence that there is plenty of promise for the X-books.

CBR: CCI X-men Panel

Schism was the main topic and understandably so. It's a big deal when the X-men's most epic bromance crumbles like Larry King's last three marriages. It's going to change a lot of shit. Uncanny is getting relaunched alongside a new book unoriginally entitled Wolverine and the X-men. Gee, I wonder what it's about? Titles aside, we don't know who will be on which team. Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine are more divided than hoards of Twilight fans fighting over pubic hairs from Robert Pattinson. The only confirmation revealed was Emma Frost. She was on the cover of Uncanny X-men, which pretty much affirms who she sides with. But seriously, how is that shocking? Wherever Cyclops and his penis go, she goes. So any prospects of the Cyclops/Emma relationship ever being shaken up by this shit can be shot in the head and buried with the Pope's gay porno stash. But there were some other strange hints by Axel Alonso that indicated that Cyclops might not be around after Schism. Now he could just be blowing hot air, but if Cyclops is not involved in the X-books then that's a big fucking deal. The X-books have been the Cyclops and Friends show for quite some time. If Schism is really that bad, then maybe everyone's favorite psychic-loving leader may be on the out. If that's the case, it could be a shift on par with Pat Robertson wearing assless chaps to a Lady Gaga concert.

As always, there was a Jean Grey question. As always, Marvel brushes it off. And even though Nick Lowe confirmed that Hope and Jean aren't linked, Axel saw fit to be coy about it. All I can ask is why? Marvel still has a strict "No Jean Grey in 616" policy. They brought up her Age of Apocalypse version, but for some fans there can be no substitutes. It's not a matter of coke vs. pepsi. It's a matter of Rolex watch and a shitty replica.

Overall, there are some intriguing prospects to be gained from this panel. There's nothing too disgusting, but nothing that warrants breaking out a mountain of blow. It definitely heightens the potential for Schism. I'll definitely be keeping track of that series here on this blog so stay tuned for more assessments as they come in as well as more tips on how to mix booze and comics. 2011 has been a decent year so far. Before the Mayan Apocalypse sets in, Marvel has plenty more to offer! Nuff said.

X-men Supreme Issue 38: Overlord Part 1 PREVIEW

It's been a steady progression for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series lately. Volume 2: War Powers has shaped up nicely from story to story. The X-men are dealing with a world that has a mutant nation scaring the public to no end. That conflict has been steadily escalating as this fanfiction series continues to unfold. Well now it's about to take a massive leap! X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers is nearing it's end. That means the big climactic arc is upon us! Just as Uprising before it, this arc will forever change the face of X-men Supreme.

Thus I submit to you an arc I call Overlord. In this arc, the events that have been developing throught Volume 2: War Powers start coming together. The X-men mythos has often been defined by big moments with certain characters. None will be bigger in this story. Both Volume 1 and Volume 2 will affect where this massive event leads. In the end, expect a world very different from the world that started out in Volume 2: War Powers. It sets the stage for X-men Supreme Volume 3, which I already have planned out! There are some amazing stories that lie ahead, but the X-men have to make it out of Overlord first! I've provided a brief preview. It should set the stage for the biggest moment in this fanfiction series to date!

“So if this plan succeeds, are you certain Magneto will agree to help me?” asked Exodus.

“If it succeeds? Please, Exodus, you should know by now that Magneto leaves nothing to chance,” scoffed Mystique, “And don’t worry. Whatever this ‘serious issue’ of yours entails, he’ll assist so long as he deems it important.”

“It IS important,” said Exodus strongly, “More important than I can possibly describe.”

“You’ll need to be more specific if you’re to get Magneto’s attention. Why are you so certain he can help you anyways?”

“I’m not. But I’m a broken man with too many conflicting memories to make sense of. What I know will affect mutants more than this endeavor ever will. Only someone like Magneto could possibly understand it.”

“We’ll see about that,” said Mystique skeptically.

Exodus’s expression hardened. Mystique still wasn’t sure what to make of this mysterious man. As powerful as he was, he had to be the worst wreck of a man she had come across since Wolverine. He seemed to suffer from delusions of grandeur, believing he held the key to mutant salvation. She was inclined to believe he was mad, possibly even schizophrenic. If Magneto was to hear him out, hopefully he would come to the same conclusion and put him out of his misery. In the meantime he was a useful ally.

After a few more tweaks, Forge closed up all the wiring panels and stepped back. Tossing aside his welding goggles, he ran up and down the control consoles lining the walls. One by one, he flipped the switches to begin the power-up sequence. Lights all around the machine came on as it gave off a distinct humming noise. The rings around the device started spinning and a light at the tip of the antenna came on.

Once powered up, Forge ran over to the four cold fusion engines he built from the diesel engines Mystique and Exodus smuggled in earlier. He linked all four of them up with heavy duty superconductor wires. He modified them so that they could pack enough energy to power a continent. These were the devices that would give the device the bulk of the power it needed to do its job. Even with these levels of power, they would only get one shot.

“Hold onto your butts!” said Forge, brimming with excitement, “As soon as these puppies charge up, we’re ready to fire!”

“Is the targeting system locked on?” asked Mystique as she checked her watch, “We’ll only have a few minutes window.”

“Locked and in our sights!” affirmed Forge, “Trust me, a few minutes is all we need!”

Forge adjusted the dials on the fusion generators. He also monitored the status of the machine with a remote control he had built into his watch. Several status bars indicated the readiness of the machine. They were still loading while the generators powered up. As the energy grew, the fusion cells started glowing bright blue. The humming grew louder, indicating more energy being concentrated into the device.

As energy flowed into the machine, the rings started glowing in a bright aura of yellowish energy. The base plate started glowing as well, becoming inundated in a hazy greenish halo. The metal tools throughout the area started coming to life, being flung around and about wildly. It indicated the presence of a very powerful magnetic field. Mystique and Exodus were forced to step back further, but Forge ignored the danger and kept monitoring the generators.

“Thirty seconds and we’ll be at full power!” he announced.

“Is it supposed to be this loud?” asked Exodus over the commotion.

“I don’t know! I’ve never built something like this before! But in my experience, noise is a good sign something big is about to go down!”

After adjusting the last few dials, the fusion engines erupted in a burst of bright blue light. It was so bright it nearly knocked Forge off his feet. But he quickly recovered and ran to join Mystique and Exodus behind a barrier of rocks.

By now, the machine was glowing brightly. The rings were spinning at an increasingly fast pace. It got to the point where they were just glowing blurs surrounding the machine. The greenish halo at the bottom plate kept getting brighter as well, pulsing ominously as the energy built up. As the pulse brightened, the tip of the antenna started glowing a similar color. There was so much energy it caused the whole lair to shake. Rocks and equipment were knocked over and entire walls started to collapse.

The window drew closer. Mystique, Exodus, and Forge watched with anticipation as the energy kept growing. It got so intense it caused the top part of the lair to blow open. Rock and metal support beams shattered and were literally shot out through the roof of the lair like a volcano. Now with a gaping hole in the ceiling, they could see the cloudy skies above them. The device now had a clean shot at it’s target.

“It’s charged!” said Forge, “Prepare to fire in 5…4…3…2…1…”

The three mutants were forced to take cover and shield their eyes as the device erupted in a blinding flash of greenish-yellow light. When they opened their eyes and looked up, they saw a concentrated beam of energy shoot out into the sky. It was so powerful it literally thrust away the clouds in it’s way creating a perfect circle in the overcast. The machine let out a low-pitched pounding noise as it fired, causing the structure to shake even more as it unleashed its massive buildup of energy.

Then within the span of two seconds, the glowing faded and the pulse stopped. All four fusion generators sparked and were utterly burnt out. One even caught fire. The structure was still shaking even after the device fell dormant. When all was said and done, the lair was still a mess. But the machine was intact.

There was a heavy silence among them at first. Forge was still gazing in awe at what his creation just did. Mystique and Exodus were quicker to recover.

“Did it work?” asked Exodus.

Forge ran out over the debris and brought up an image on the console. After some quick typing, he got the final status report. What he saw brought a smile to his face.

“It worked,” he grinned, “My machine worked!”

As always, I deeply appreciate the support I've gotten from all you lovely readers out there. I hope it continues. I promise big things with Overlord and I intend to deliver! X-men Supreme has so much potential and I intend to tap it as best I can. To do that I require as much feedback as can be provided. So please take the time to contact me or comment on each issue to let me know how this fanfiction series is doing. Until next time, take care and best wishes everybody! Excelsior!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

SDCC 2011 Update: Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men to go Day and Date Digital Release

Hey everybody! You know I wouldn't take time away from writing X-men Supreme, reviewing comics, and getting drunk unless I had some big fucking news to share with you all. As some of you may no, namely the ones that live under a fucking rock, the San Diego Comic Con is taking place this week. This is where fanboys get to be kings and girls can dress up in spandex and not be mistaken for a stripper. Every major comic company comes here to announce to the world why they've got the most awesome shit that you should buy. Every year there's been one particular announcement they've never made. It has nothing to do with X-men, reboots, rip-off characters, fanfiction, or selling your marriage to the fucking devil. It has to do with the basic act of actually getting these comics in the first place. Well that announcement has finally come!

Newsarama: Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men to go Day-and-Date Digital

That's not a misprint and I'm not stoned (for the most part). Marvel has jumped onto the bandwagon that DC has strapped a fucking rocket on and decided to make some of it's top titles day-and-date digital release. I'll repeat that just because it feels so damn good. Marvel is making Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men Day and Date digital release. Fuck, I need to change my pants again! But I don't care! This is the best news to come since a two-for-one deal at a Tijuana whore house. At last, my limited proximity to a comic shop shall never get in the way of me enjoying quality comic awesome! Praise Odin, Galactus, and hell even Mephisto! I'll praise any higher power I can because that's how excited I am about this news! It's a great day to be a comic fan and an X-men fan. Between this and DC's relaunch, computers are going to be even more important and not just because of porn content. If more details come in, I'll be sure to blog about them when I'm sober enough. Until then, feel free to run out in the streets and celebrate! I'll be waiting here, passed out drunk but ready to absorb this new generation of awesome!

X-men #15 - A Requiem of Awesome

Get yourself a box of tissues and a fresh bottle of anal lube because the end of an major arc is upon us. The end of an awesome story is always bittersweet. A part of you is crying, a part of you is ecstatic, and some other part of you is craving a victory bottle of whiskey. Or maybe that's just the alcoholic in me needing more reasons to get drunk, of which I can never have enough. But drunk or sober, X-men First To Last has been an amazing story. The premise itself seems destined to get more convoluted than the last three seasons of Lost. Telling a story in both the past and present, tying them together, and making it so they don't become more fucked up than the first half-hour of Inception seems impossible. But damn it if Chris Yost hasn't made it work, keeping the story coherent while presumably juggling chainsaws and giving quantum physics lectures at Oxford.

Now I make a big deal of this because relatively speaking, whenever a comic book tries to mix both the present and past it turns into a clusterfuck that even German porno can't match. It gets so fucking confusing at times that the ink needs to be laced with LSD just to get the neurons in your brain to make the right connections. The stories that succeed are few and far between. My main concern with this arc from the beginning was whether it could start strong and actually sustain it. Now that it's over, I can safely say I can throw those concerns away into that dark pile of used condoms and old porno that shall never see the light of day. I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, but I want to emphasize how fragile this story was. It was only one twist away from getting fucked up and this final issue was critical in more than one way.

In the previous issue, all remaining secrets and lost memories came out like Anthony Wiener's penis at a sorority house. Toad and his drinking buddies got Celeste of the Stepford Cuckoos to give everyone a telepathic wake-up call that revealed why nobody seemed to remember the Evolutionaries. It left a lot of people pissed at Cyclops, as if they didn't have enough reasons to hate the guy who was sleeping with Emma Frost. It also allowed Magneto to remember and keep in mind he's still the guy who used to have wet dreams about humanity kneeling before him like a crack addict giving hand jobs for another hit. So now that he has another chance to finish off humanity, the big question was would he take it? Would old bucket-head fall back into his old genocidal habits?

Well X-men #15 seeks to answer that question, but in order to do so it starts off in the past to show just how close Magneto got and how he fucked it up the first time. In the First Class storyline, Magneto had the full attention of the Evolutionaries. He kidnapped a pre-silicone Emma Frost to use Cerebro and contact every mutant on the planet. He was supposed to speak for all mutants to prove to the Evolutionaries that he could lead his kind after all of humanity finished shitting their brains out through their feet. He was getting pretty damn close, but that's when the X-men showed up again to take him on. Say what you will about how the X-men have changed over the past 50 years, they're still pretty consistent when it comes to their anti-genocide stance. They take out the Brotherhood and confront Magneto, essentially telling him to cut this shit out because killing all humans is a dick move no matter what era you're in.

Even Magneto's own kids understand that this kind of mass murder just ain't right. And when your own kids start fighting you, then you done know you've fucked up. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch both side with Cyclops and Angel, opposing their father and all his genocidal inclinations. Quicksilver swipes away Emma (presumably copping a feel he won't remember anyhow) and the Scarlet Witch tries to attack, only to get a faceful of rubble. This is pre-Decimation Wanda so she's not going to play as rough, especially against dear old dad. Needless to say, the Evolutionaries aren't impressed. If this guy can't get his own kids to follow his lead, how can he do the same for mutants? Long story short, he can't.

Carry it over to the present and Magneto has another chance. Now this is where it gets tricky because if Magneto does go through with it, he's basically back to being the genocidal douche-bag he was in the First Class days. If he doesn't, then he's just gone soft. It seems like a no-win situation. Well, Chris Yost doesn't just flip a coin to figure this shit out. He takes what was shown in the past and makes sure Magneto uses it in the present. Keep in mind, everybody has remembered now thanks to Celeste. He knows that by going along with the Evolutionaries, it cost him dearly. His own children turned against him. Granted, they ended up turning against him anyways, but he saw how in the end he fucked himself worse than Mel Gibson at a neo-Nazi rally. So by that logic, he fights back against the Evolutionaries.

Again, it's worth pointing out that this is a tough spot to write your way out of. Chris Yost could have really fucked up Magneto in ways that only Japanese fetish porn can exceed. But he didn't. He used the story in the past to create a viable outcome in the present. It's that kind of attention to detail that sets "meh" stories from "OMG that fucking rocks!" stories.

So in both the present and the past the Evolutionaries are at a dead end. They continue to talk about the extinction of all mankind as if it's necessary. They keep trying to convince the X-men that they're helping mutants. You would think at this point they would get a fucking hint. Guess celestial level power doesn't make cosmic powered space gods any less arrogant. By wasting all this time trying to win hearts and minds through their pro-genocide stance, the X-men in both the past and present were working on a countermeasure. In the present the X-men science team was working on a machine that Hank McCoy slapped together in a flash, presumably with duct tape and an old VCR. In the past, Beast showed why he can still kick ass even when he doesn't look like an overgrown extra from Cats. He's able to construct a device that looks like a glorified flesh-light that cuts the Evolutionaries off from their cosmic power. Like pulling a baby away from a tit, the Evolutionaries start whining.

This should come as a boner-inducing moment for many ailing Beast fans, who saw him take a hippie stance in Uncanny recently before leaving the team entirely. In First to Last, he shows why he was awesome enough to be part of the Original Five. Only a guy like him could slap together a machine to fight celestial-powered space gods the same way I slap together hot pockets wrapped in bacon.

Now weakened, the Evolutionaries aren't in a position to play the genocide card just as Tiger Woods is no longer in a position to play the married to a hot white supermodel card. They start to throw a cosmic hissy fit. Then Cyclops confronts them. He asks for a chance to prove that it isn't necessary to wipe out humanity in order to save mutants. Now this seems like an easy argument to make, but the Evolutionaries don't make it easy for them. Maybe they're just trying to save face from being wounded by a bunch of teenagers and an old man, but they do hear him out.

It's at this point we see the timelines start to come together. Cyclops is able to convince the Evolutionaries to give him a chance. However, they are super-powerful space gods so that means they're bound to make a dick move or two. They agree to disappear, but before they do they basically wipe everyone's mind. They don't do this just to fuck with them. They do it so they don't remember how effective Beast's weapon was against them and they can't spend years putting together a coherent plan to prove them wrong. That's basically like telling someone to win a race and then cutting off their legs before it starts. Some understand that this will fuck them over. So Jean Grey, yes the REAL Jean Grey and not some rip-off character or some cosmic parrot, intervenes and uses her powers to protect Cyclops's mind. This is why he remembered in the beginning of the story. Jean protected him. Not Xavier. Not Angel. Not even Beast who built the damn machine. She protected the guy she would eventually die for, marry, and die again for. It's a nice gesture that reminds the Cyclops/Emma crowd that Jean Grey could still capture Cyclops's heart and do so without extensive plastic surgery. Seeing as how Marvel is intent on keeping Jean dead and replacing her with Emma and Hope Summers, it's a nice moment and one that Jean fans should treasure because they sure as hell won't be getting something like this anytime soon. I'll quit drinking before Jean Grey ever comes back.

While the Evolutionaries willingly step down in the past, they put up a much tougher fight in the present. They won't fall for the same bullshit again. They're prepared to begin their assault on humanity and all over the world, people start getting the kind of migraines that would make them rip their skulls off. So rather than use diplomacy like old Cyclops, the new Cyclops instructs Madison Jefferies and the Science Team to throw the switch on Beast's machine, which they've been building for the past few issues. Now the machine works it's colorful magic, just as it did in the past. This time, they amp it up. So the Evolutionaries feel more than just a pin prick this time. Now it's more like a full fledged ass-infection. Those cosmic balls of their shrivel faster than David Hasselhoff's liver at Ocktoberfest.

Now as dramatic as this scene is, there is one slight oversight that's worth noting. In the last two issues, Toad and a few randomly assembled goons were harassing Celeste and the science team. After Celeste spilled the beans on what the Evolutionaries made them forget, they basically disappeared. Did they just leave Jefferies alone? What gives? We never find out and while that's not a gaping hole, it is a hole. It's not big enough to fuck over the story, but it's there and easy to overlook. We're left to assume that after Toad and his buddies found out what happened in the past, they were too busy shitting themselves to keep fucking with the science team. They realized it probably would be in their best interest to stop the Evolutionaries before they got too comfy with their pro-genocide policy.

Regardless of the logistics, the machine works. The Evolutionaries are defeated. Cyclops and the X-men don't bat an eye even as the Evolutionaries essentially tell them their fucked. They're the X-men. They hear that shit at least five times a week. Even when it comes from evolutionary space gods, they don't bat an eye. It's nice way of showing how far the X-men have come while still clinging to the shit that makes them heroes. Sure, humanity is full of assholes, but they're worth saving. That's the X-men for you, past and present.

So the battle in both the past and present is over. The last few pages are a nice epilogue that ties up the remaining loose ends. It shows how the Brotherhood are back in place, poised to be the assholes they're destined to become. Emma Frost is back in the insane asylum, still a ways off from becoming the oversexed vixen that comic fans everywhere jerk off to. And the X-men are back to their First Class roots. We get one last nice scene with Cyclops and Jean Grey. Again, this is something X-men fans should cherish because between Hope Summers and watering down Emma Frost to make her more Jean-like there's no incentive at all for Marvel to ever bring Jean Grey back. So savor these precious smudges of ink. Jean probably won't be showing up in 616 in our lifetime. My liver will kick my ass into my grave by the time someone finally has the stones to bring her back.

As for the Evolutionaries, their story isn't quite over either. They had their asses kicked in both the present and the past. So now they have even more incentive to prepare for the day when they serve up a little ass of their own and not in the massage parlor in Las Vegas sort of way. They're still intent on seeing evolution take what they deem to be the correct path. To do this, they have to go through a pesky mutant who wears a giant condom for a costume named Cyclops. Seeing as how he'll probably have only half the balls he has now after Schism, they'll be in a prime position to fuck him up. It ties up the loose ends while leaving the door open just a crack for another story down the line! You can't ask for a more complete ending if you tattooed it on on a strippers snatch!

Now that the arc is over, excuse me while I take a few shots of vodka in both celebration and mourning. While I'm still partially sober, I'll say outright that this arc was awesome. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Giant Sized X-men #1 started strong and it stayed strong all throughout the adjectiveless X-men run. That's saying a lot for a series that made a habit out of underwhelming me with arcs that used vampire gimmicks, lizard people, and Spider-Man to fane interest. No amount of gimmicks can take the place of a good, coherent story. X-men First To Last had many opportunities to become convoluted in mixing both the present and past. It avoided every one of them. For that, this arc is as special as it is awesome.

As for the issue itself, it tied up as many loose ends as anyone could ask for. It resolved the present and the past, making it so the retcons didn't effect the overall timeline of 616 while still adding an interesting twist. It offered some nice moments that showed Cyclops being the strong leader he is, which I think is somewhat appropriate given that he's set up to be humbled in a big way with the upcoming Schism arc. So he might as well shine one last time before fucking everything up. He also makes a powerful enemy in the Evolutionaries, who really set themselves apart as characters that aren't inherently evil. They genuinely believed that they were doing the right thing and are intent on completing that task while giving Cyclops the finger. The door is left open for them to enter the picture again. It was also nice to see Beast contribute to the X-men in ways that don't involve his incessant whining. That machine of his did the trick in both the present and the past. He also did it without looking like an overgrown cat. So that's always a plus.

I won't go so far to say that this issue was perfect. It did have some faults. The scene with Madison Jefferies seemed somewhat inconsistent. We didn't see what happened to Toad and his goons. Did they just stop after they learned the truth? Did Emma Frost fuck them up for messing with her student/clone daughter? This is a woman who probably goes into a PMS fueled rage when someone borrows her eye-liner without asking. It would have been nice to see how Toad would have had his day and his brain ruined. But this oversight didn't take too much away from the overall book. It still came together nicely in all the ways that mattered. It closed up all the major and most of the minor plot holes. To dock it just for one issue would be a dick move, even for a drunk.

X-men First to Last has all the classic and contemporary elements that make X-men stories great. Chris Yost proves that even while he's busy kicking ass on the Avengers cartoon, he still has enough energy to force feed awesome up overcrowded rectum of the X-books. It makes me wish that he could stay on board, but if he can only focus his awesome on one project at a time like Avengers, I'm okay with that. So while I'm sad to see this arc end, I'm proud to give X-men #15 a 5 out of 5. This story is everything an X-men fan could want. It has mystery, explosions, secrets, and Emma Frost in a straight jacket. Whether you're old school, new school, or even remedial school you'll find something to love about X-men First to Last. Nuff said!