Saturday, January 30, 2016

Living in a (Fleeting) Moment: All-New, All-Different Avengers #4

The following is my review of All-New, All-Different Avengers #4, which was posted on

There's a reason why the YOLO (You Only Live Once) meme became annoying quicker than a failed American Idol audition. As a concept, it's not inherently wrong. Despite what some world religions might claim, we only know for certain that we have one life to live. In the Marvel Universe, however, the concept becomes a bit more flawed and a lot more complicated.

It's not just because death in comics is a revolving door with a rusted lock. Because of retcons, reboots, and clones the concept of living in the moment might as well come with an asterisk. That still doesn't stop some characters from embracing the concept in a completely non-hipster type way. It's the primary lesson conveyed on All-New, All-Different Avengers #4. And it's conveyed in a way that even the cynical and the jaded can appreciate.

Mark Waid was tasked with assembling a new team of Avengers in the post-Secret Wars world. It sounds like a simple task, but when billion-dollar movie franchises are built on these teams, the stakes are a bit higher than placating fickle fanboys. Waid still rose to the occasion, creating a team of Avengers that includes familiar faces, rising stars, and a solid mix of diversity. While Glen Beck hasn't complained about it yet, it's a team that reflects a fitting and appropriate sentiment for 2016.

The first three issues of the series was a standard coming together story. It wasn't nearly as epic as a certain movie staring Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., but it didn't feel as overplayed as a certain movie starting Andrew Garfield. All-New, All-Different Avengers #4 offers the first real insight into how this new team of Avengers functions and it does so in a way that never feels like a bad reality show or a 60s era sitcom.

There's just a real insight into this new team that feels genuine and balanced. It's basically the complete antithesis of the team dynamics we see in Lethal Weapon movies. There are very different personalities with characters like Nova, Ms. Marvel, and Vision. However, those personalities find a way to mesh in a manner that never feels forced. They don't need a drill sergeant or football coach to whip them into shape. They're not the Cleveland Browns. They're the Avengers.

When they get a chance to demonstrate their competence as Avengers, they pass the test. They don't necessarily pass with flying colors, but when the enemy involved is Cyclone, the test is graded on a curve. He's no Red Skull. Even Hugo Weaving couldn't make Cyclone an intimidating threat. However, he does give this new team of Avengers a chance to shine. While the scope of their efforts are as generic as a traffic stop on the Jersey Turnpike, the battle against Cyclone reflects the new normal for this era of Avengers.

It's not just the diversity that makes this new team of Avengers feel appropriate. It comes back to those sensibilities that we, the society of 2016, have developed in recent years. It's no longer enough for the Avengers to show up, fight monsters, punch the Red Skull in the face, and tell kids to eat their vegetables. As the backlash against movies like Man of Steel have shown, modern audiences care about civilian casualties. Indeed, in an era when the failures of our heroes are more scrutinized than ever, society is much less forgiving of missteps and oversights.

The Avengers in this conflict go out of their way to protect the civilians caught in Cyclone's attack. It takes up a good chunk of the fight. While Cyclone eventually gets knocked out in the same tradition as the Red Skull, the emphasis on protecting civilians adds an important dynamic to what would otherwise be the superhero equivalent of a typical Tuesday.

Beyond the new dynamics of a diverse, civilian-focused Avengers, there is another moment that adds weight to an otherwise typical clash in the new Prime Marvel universe. It comes in the form of a kiss between the new Captain America, Sam Wilson, and the new Thor, Jane Foster. In this case, the cover isn't an elaborate form of trolling in the tradition of Action Comics #600 or Astonishing X-men #14. This kiss does happen, but it's not the kind of kiss that will appeal to the Twilight crowd.

This moment between Sam Wilson and Jane Foster is another keen reflection on 2016 sensibilities. It comes after both characters get reminded that they look nothing like Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth. There are fans, even within the comic itself, that whine about Captain America and Thor not being the "classic" versions. It's the whining internet trolls of comic book message boards taking form and substance. However, Sam and Jane deal with it in the best way possible and it doesn't involve whining to a moderator.

The two characters kiss. They do so after Sam laments about living up to the high bar set by Steve Rogers. Jane, whose true identity is still a mystery to everyone on the team, understands that these are unreasonable standards set by unreasonable people who make unreasonable comments on the internet. The kiss is just a good way of reinforcing her point and shutting him up.

At the same time, however, it isn't conveyed as a kiss that will create Marvel's next big power couple. This is not their response to DC's efforts with Superman and Wonder Woman. At the very most, this is just an awkward kiss at the end of a junior prom. In the context of the story, this is probably for the best.

Over the past decade or so, Marvel has treated romance and iconic couples with the same tact and care as a Jerry Springer rerun. It's gotten to a point where there are no iconic romances left in Marvel's vast mythos. Some have been killed off, retconned out of existence, or denigrated beyond repair. Marvel has treated their most iconic romances with the same care a two-year-old treats bowl of pasta. They only know how to make it into a mess and neither Sam Wilson nor Jane Foster deserve such treatment.

This kiss and the dynamics built around it give All-New, All-Different Avengers #4 just the right impact. There's a sense of hope, albeit fleeting, that this team can function in 2016 in all its unique sensibilities. Mark Waid has taken a diverse cast with iconic names and made it feel genuine. Glen Beck may still protest at some point, but that would only confirm that this new team of Avengers is doing something right.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, January 29, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 130: Impossible Odds Part 2 is LIVE!

How far are you willing to go to become a star? That’s a question a lot of people contemplate in some form or another. Everyone has a certain line they won’t cross. For some people, those lines are poorly defined or non-existent. The X-men have often had to deal with people for whom there are no lines. And if there are, they’re often crossed. It has put them in a lot of dangerous situations in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Magneto had lines he wouldn’t cross, which led to his downfall in the Uprising and Overlord arcs. Sinister crossed every line in the Dark Legacy arc. But with Mojo Adams, the X-men have never been in a situation like this before.

This is not the same as stopping an asteroid, thwarting a plague, or even protecting a mutant community. Against Mojo, the X-men have to deal with a threat whose only goal is to turn mutants into an entertainment product. This goal has already put Dazzler and her new ally, Longshot, in the crossfire. Now the X-men have to enter the unique chaos that Mojo has created. But in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, it’s not enough to create chaos. Mojo has to make it go viral and profit the hell out of it.

This is the Mojo the X-men are up against in X-men Supreme. I knew I was going to have to tweak Mojo’s character if I wanted to use him in this fanfiction series. That’s why I’ve adopted more traits from his Ultimate X-men version. He’s not an inter-dimensional being. He’s an ordinary human. Granted, he’s an exceedingly eccentric human with obscene resources, but a human none-the-less. And I think that’s important for the context of this story because he knows there are mutants like Dazzler out there who have hopes and dreams. Like many shady Hollywood types, Mojo is looking to exploit those dreams for his own personal gain. That’s how Hollywood works in both the real world and the world of X-men Supreme.

X-men Supreme is also a world where the Mutant Liberation Front has made life very difficult for mutants like Dazzler. X-men Supreme Issue 127: Terror Sell inspired a new wave of fear for the mutant race. Can Dazzler still achieve her dream in this environment? Can Longshot achieve his as well? Well if they are going to pursue their respective dreams, they’ll have to survive Mojo’s chaos first. And the X-men will have to survive it as well. With a Deadpool movie just a few weeks away, I think this sort of chaos is wonderfully appropriate for X-men Supreme. So with that, I hope the conclusion of the Impossible Odds arc provides the entertainment value that Mojo himself would approve of.

X-men Supreme Issue 130: Impossible Odds Part 2

The X-men deal with a lot of serious issues. I’ve tried to touch on many of those issues over the course of this fanfiction series. But I also try and take the time to do arcs that have more entertainment value. Not every issue needs to be a dire crisis. Arcs like Impossible Odds help lighten the spirit of this fanfiction series and I hope fans of Dazzler, Longshot, and X-men in general find something to enjoy. As always, it’s very important for me to know whether or not I’ve entertained my readers. And the best way to do that is to leave a review. Either post it directly in the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Old Man Logan #1: Nuff Said!

Wolverine as a character has often been portrayed as the kind of guy Clint Eastwood probably wishes he were. He's old and cranky, yet perpetually young, tough, able to bang every beautiful woman he comes across just by giving them the right snarl. This is all well and good in that it has helped make Wolverine the most popular X-men of all time. What's not to like? He's James Dean, Dirty Harry, Lemmy Kilmeister, and Ron Jeremy all rolled into one.

Well, those strengths can be a weakness. By being this invincible, hard-drinking pussy hound, Wolverine becomes less a character and more a male fantasy. He's basically the guy every teenage boy wishes he were. There's nothing wrong with that, but it tends to make him bland. That's why Old Man Logan is so refreshing. He's less James Dean and more Keith Richards, dangerously close to being burned out and probably should've died years ago. Well, he's now step up shop in the Marvel Prime Universe. He's already added some refreshing grit to the Cyclops-bashing in Extraordinary X-men. Now, he gets his own title. And I'm here to let you know whether Old Man Logan #1 gives us a lovable old coot or a cantankerous fuck or ideally both.

There’s no bullshit time skip. The story doesn’t start with Old Man Logan sitting behind a desk, lamenting what an asshole Cyclops has become. It literally picks up right where Secret Wars left off. Old Man Logan got caught up in the final battle against Dr. Doom. And like Miles Morales, he got the privilege of joining the new Prime Earth and he didn’t even have to play the race card.

However, his entry into Prime Earth is a lot more abrupt than Miles. He just wakes up in the middle of Time Square, bare-ass naked, and confused as fuck. This being New York, a naked old man running around on the street barely slows down traffic. But given that no time skip was used to fill in any plot holes, this feels more refreshing than a cup of hot cocoa in a blizzard.

Understandably, the NYPD react somewhat harshly to a naked old guy running around Times Square. For all they know, he’s selling illegal cigarettes. They try to subdue him, but this is fucking Wolverine. The collective efforts of Sabretooth, Apocalypse, and Mystique’s pussy couldn’t subdue this guy. No disrespect to the NYPD (except their traffic cops), but they don’t stand a chance.

Getting tazed and beaten sucks, but it does have one notable benefit. It jars his memory. In a brief flashback that is beautifully illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, Old Man Logan recalls the shitty, post-apoclayptic world he came from. He might have been better off assuming he was just some creepy old guy from a nudist colony. In New York, that shit will get you laid…to a point. But he now knows who he is, how fucked he is, and that the NYPD aren’t going to help him.

Old Man Logan knows he needs help, but first he needs some pants. Even he understands that he can’t be the badass he needs with his manly bits flapping in the wind. So he fights off the NYPD in a way that’s sure to piss off Sean Hannity. Then, he finds an empty apartment where he gets his hands on some clothes. If he were Hugh Jackman, I’m sure the ladies would not approve.

But while he’s making himself decent, he has a few more flashbacks. First, he notices that this is a world that isn’t totally fucked over just yet…at least not for mutants. All the heroes that ended up worm food in his world are still alive. Being an experienced X-man, he immediately assumes time travel, since that’s way more common than alternate universes. It’s sad how reasonable that assumption is.

In contemplating his next move, we get another nice flashback into the world that Old Man Logan came from. It’s a shitty world, but one perfectly suited to a grumpy old fuck. IT’s a moment that involves him and his son, Scotty. Yes, Old Man Logan had a son whose name is strikingly similar to the guy who married the girl he wanted to bone. But that’s beside the point.

What makes this flashback meaningful and relevant is that it shows the shitty wasteland that he came from. It’s a world where you have to barter for everyday shit like Ebay while dealing with gangs of Hulks to get groceries. Even though the X-men have a long list of post-Apocalyptic futures, this one has a unique charm and one that Old Man Logan thrives in.

The apocalyptic extent of this world becomes clear once Old Man Logan encounters Butcher, a D-list villain that even other D-list villains find pathetic. He’s part of a Hulk gang that basically acts like the mafia for every store front in the wasteland. And just because he’s in a world where he never has to worry about Iron Man shooting him in the dick, he pisses off Old Man Logan. He even steals his son’s hat. In any other world, this man would be counting the pieces of his intestines by now. But Old Man Logan, being in a shitty world ruled by villains, doesn’t raise a hand.

That might sound outrageous to anyone who has seen Wolverine overreact to a joke about Jean Grey’s hair. But it’s an important distinction in Old Man Logan. In that world, he hung up his claws and tried to just fade into obscurity with his family. Now that world is gone. So what does that mean for him in his aged and jaded state?

Well, he now knows he has no excuses. This isn’t his world or his future. There aren’t any roving gangs of Hulks butchering and maiming anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. He can actually find the sadistic fucks that made his world apocalyptic and fuck them up in the way they deserve. This is the vindictive, brutal Wolverine we know and love. Sure, he’s older and a lot less sexier, but he’s still Wolverine. And even in his old age, he could probably get more ass than 99 percent of men not named Channing Tatum.

He doesn’t let his age slow him down. He doesn’t need to do some Rocky training montage either to get his skills back. He’s Wolverine. Some skills just don’t need to be learned. They’re innate with his badassery. So he starts hunting down some of the evil fucks that are destined to make his future apocalyptic. This involves him getting into bar fights and roughing up criminals. It’s Wolverine at his purest and his best. I’m sure if the AARP saw him, they’d make him his spokesman on the spot.

So who does he start off with? Which villain deserves an adamantium sandwich for his apocalyptic future? Well, remember that asshole who slapped around his son on that flashback? This might not be the same timeline or the same world for that matter, but that’s still enough reason for Old Man Logan to give him the old Canadian root canal. Sure, Butcher is not the Red Skull or Sabretooth. He’s just a deviant little shit whose every breath is an invitation for someone in a costume to kick his ass. So Old Man Logan’s methods are as bloody as they are satisfying.

Now Old Man Logan can say he has honored his son. He might have even given himself a slight erection in the process. At his age, that’s a hell of an accomplishment. But he’s more ambitious than most old men who aren’t running for President. He wants to take down every villain that fucked over his world. That includes the Hulk, Mysterio, and the Red Skull. Chances are they’ll be a bit harder to take down than Butcher, but Old Man Logan is way too old to give a shit at this point. I’ll give everyone who ever saw a Lethal Weapon movie a moment to wipe the tears of joy from their eyes. it awesome?

Is cold beer awesome on a hot summer day? Is a glass of whiskey awesome on a cold winter night? Like asking me if I'm hung over after the Super Bowl, It's one of those questions that answers itself. Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino don't rely on time skips or off-panel bullshit to tell Old Man Logan's story here. It picks up right where Secret Wars left off, dropping him buck naked in the middle of an unfamiliar world and having him survive as only Wolverine can.

But it wasn't just survival that brought out the best in Old Man Logan. In addition to his cantankerous, old forms of badassery, we get some added insights into his life before Secret Wars. It's a nice reminder of the fucked up AU he came from and the personal connections he still has. He's not just a grumpy old badass. He's a grumpy old badass with depth. We don't get many characters like that who aren't named John McClane. It's still disorganized at times, but maybe that's just because Old Man Logan gives me a craving for whiskey. But the story is strong, concise, and full of everything that makes Old Man Logan awesome.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Extraordinary X-men #6: Nuff Said!

Let’s not keep lying to ourselves. Marvel is in the process of shitting explosive diarrhea all over the X-men while the Inhumans jerk off in the corner. They have utterly fucked over the entire mutant race and they didn’t even have the decency to do it on-panel. They turned Cyclops into the Red Skull and they made bashing him more trendy than K-pop. There’s a lot about Extraordinary X-men that are bound to make X-men fans violently ill. But since I’m used to hang overs and vomiting, I’ve taken it upon myself to give you wonderful people the reviews you want. That means swimming through another pool of Cyclops-bashing, mutant marginalizing shit for Extraordinary X-men #6. Yes, I’m just that dedicated.

Mutants are fucked. There’s no way around it and the war between Disney and Fox’s lawyers will ensure it continues. So where can the X-men go to vent their Cyclops/Ratner hating frustration? How about Weirdworld? It’s like the Savage Land, but on a blend of crack and LSD. It’s another holdover from Secret Wars. Why, you might ask? One word…Rhinosaurs.

It’s as awesome as it sounds, except for cantankerous old fucks like Old Man Logan. He’s annoyed as hell. Magik is as giddy as a school girl in a room full of kittens. She and the X-men go to work venting their pent up frustrations on these giant monsters. Is it good for their mental health? No. Is it still an awesome sight? Fuck yes.

But why the fuck are they in Weirdworld in the first place? It’s like Mordor. One does not just walk into it for a casual stroll. Sadly, we don’t get an immediate answer and in the era of on-demand movies and binge-watching, that’s just unacceptable. However, we do get a continuation of the Nightcrawler plot that began in the first arc. He’s still fucked up and sounding like a drunk version of a televangelist. They talk about efforts to help him, but it’s another one of those plots that’s so full of holes that it’s hard to give a shit about. I’d much rather see more Rhinosaurs.

As much as I love Rhinosaurs, I’ll settle for demons. The X-men are still stuck in Limbo for other reasons that got lost in the 8-month time skip, along with any fucks given about coherent narratives. But Limbo is still practically a resort with slot machines and hookers for Magik. She even manages to make a friend in Sapna, the young mutant she saved in the first arc. They actually do some nice demonic bonding. They even name a demon together. Replace the demons with unicorns and it the perfect premise for a Disney movie.

They start exploring Limbo. Magik makes clear that as long as she has the Soulsword, she’s the Queen Bee of this realm. However, along the way, she finds out there are holes to other realms where she might not be queen. And any vindictive teenage blond who makes friends with demons can’t have that.

Flash forward back to the present. Fuck any transitional material or coherence. That shit’s for babies and Rand Paul supporters. We’re back in Weirdworld just in time for Colossus to pull off a fastball special with Old Man Logan. So I guess it’s not a total loss. We still don’t know why the fuck they’re in Weirdworld, but it’s clear they didn’t just come because they don’t want to wait for the next Jurassic World movie. There is supposed to be a point here. But like so many other things in this series, it got lost in the mix like a condom at Bristol Palin’s house.

Flash back again. To hell with transitions and coherence. More confusion and more random, unrelated narrative works better, right? Well, maybe in some fucked up alternate universe. Hell, that might be on par with Tolken in Weirdworld. But here it just means having to read this book sober and I can’t support that.

It’s not a complete waste though. It has Colossus trying to care for someone other than his demon-loving sister. He decides it’s time to whip some of the younger mutants into shape. They’re living in Limbo and in a world where Marvel has given a billion middle fingers to mutants. They need to start training and he needs to deal with teenagers who don’t rub elbows with demons.

Colossus isn’t the only one who tries to expand his horizons. Iceman also takes a moment to share his new, gay side with another resident homosexual at the Jean Grey Institute in Anole. Yes, it’s really happening. Iceman is starting to act on his new gay status. You hear that? It’s One Million Moms and every bullshit family values group gasping in horror and shielding their kids’ eyes. And anytime religious bigots get horrified is a happy day for those of us who actually have a sense of humanity.

So I love this scene and I hope there are more like it. Iceman hasn’t been this relevant since he swapped minds with Emma Frost. Let him have this, Marvel. You’ve taken everything else from the X-men. Please don’t throw shit on this and use it to spit on Fox’s legal team.

More confusing flash-forward follow. It’s still confusing. It’s still chaotic. I feel like it was organized by a vindictive roommate with OCD. These side-stories with Weirdworld aren’t terrible. They don’t make me want to puke dirt and shit bricks. Like mayonnaise and chili peppers, they just don’t fit together. There’s still some kind of mission going on in Weirdworld. We just haven’t been given a reason to give any fucks about it yet. Sure, there’s a giant wall of fire involved. But is that really more awesome than Rhinosaurs? I think not.

How about another flashback because why the fuck not? The non-sober crowd has already given up at this point. At the very least, we get some semblance of reason for going into Weirdworld. Apparently, a plane carrying mutants was transported to Weirdworld because I guess it beat landing in Los Angeles and dealing with the traffic. She wants the X-men to bring the mutants back from Weirdworld and that’s perfectly logical. But at this point in the story, there are only so many fucks left to give. It doesn’t fill in any of the many gaping plot holes, but it doesn’t create new ones either. And I guess that’s the best we can hope for with X-men these days.

There is at least one detail that forces us to give a few extra fucks. One of the mutants the X-men need to rescue is a familiar face. On top of that, he’s one of the mutants that was friendly with Cyclops so that must mean he ate a live puppy for breakfast. It’s another bit of Cyclops-bashing. Like the last three seasons of American Idol, this shit has gotten old and played out. You enjoy screwing over the X-men, Marvel. We get it. You’re getting dangerously close to waving your dick in our faces.

So who is the mutant in question? Who was bold enough to actually team up with the so-evil-that-it-had-to-happen-off-panel version of Cyclops? It’s Sunfire. Yeah, he’s a C-lister at best and hasn’t been relevant since Jerry Springer was still on the air. But he’s alive, he’s in Weirdworld, and his causing this big fucking firestorm. And Storm is hoping Old Man Logan can deal with him if he says anything nice about Cyclops. Yeah, this is what the X-men have been reduced to. Pretty soon, a dick in the face might be an upgrade. it awesome?

At the very least, it tries to be. Jeff Lemire has every character’s voice down perfectly. Old Man Logan sounds like Old Man Logan. Storm sounds like Storm. And Iceman sounds like the all-new, all-gay Iceman. That’s Extraordinary X-men’s greatest strength, but one of its precious few. This issue had a solid concept, but was so chaotic and disorganized at times it felt like a kid that forgot to take his Ritalin. It was hard to follow and plenty rushed, but it didn’t completely fuck up. If Extraordinary X-men #6 was a drunk, it wouldn’t get arrested. But it would stumble home with more than a few bruises on its face.

Extraordinary X-men as a series still has a lot of flaws, but this comic didn’t add to them. That’s really the most we can hope for at this point. Like the Fantastic Four movies, we just have to settle for something that doesn’t suck more than it already does. The disorganization and forgettable plot keeps it from being all that thrilling. It still functions for the most part and plays to its strengths. It just needs a lot more of them if it’s going to justify all the Cyclops-bashing.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Basic, Bland, and Incomplete: Extraordinary X-men #5

The following is my review of Extraordinary X-men #5, which was posted on

If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then a story is only as strong as its biggest flaw. Every story has to skip a few details. Sometimes it's necessary to ensure a concise, coherent narrative. But like Ash found out at the end of Evil Dead 2, a casual oversight can have serious consequences. It doesn't always involve invading demon hordes. But in the case of Extraordinary X-men, it can lead to evil clone monsters. As Spider-Man can attest, evil clones rarely pan out well.

When Marvel opted to do an 8-month time-skip after Secret Wars, there were bound to be a few details that got lost in the mix. Details like Jessica Drew getting knocked up and Kamala Khan joining the Avengers offered more intrigue than confusion. But there's a fine line between genuine intrigue and chorus of "Huh?!" And in Extraordinary X-men, nobody even tried walking that line. They essentially did the swan dive over the line and into the deep end of a pool of hungry sharks.

From the final issue of Brian Michael Bendis' run in Uncanny X-men #600 to the first issue of Jeff Lemire's run in Extraordinary X-men #1, the shift in tone is akin to watching Saving Private Ryan after watching Happy Gilmore. It's not just that mutants are in a new state of turmoil. It's that the journey into this turmoil happened off-panel.

For the first four issues, only a handful of clues have been offered, most of which involve Cyclops becoming the most despised person associated with the X-men since Chuck Austin. The limited scope of these clues have hindered the Lemire's narrative, but have still offered points of intrigue. The narrative here is still developing. It's just trying to develop with one hand tied behind its back, a broken ankle, and a severe concussion.

Extraordinary X-men #5 is intended to solidify this new foundation for the X-men. It has successfully, albeit messily, brought all the necessary characters into the right place. But it's still building top a foundation with some major cracks in it. By the end of the story, those cracks don't get any smaller. That building still wouldn't pass an inspection without a hefty bribe. At the very least, however, it is coherent and it doesn't create any new cracks.

The conflict here is basic X-men 101. Sinister has unleashed a monster by mixing mutant and Inhuman DNA. That monster threatens humans and mutants alike. The X-men come together and stop it. It's every bit as basic as Captain America punching the Red Skull in the face. There's nothing novel of innovative about it. But for the first arc in this series, that's entirely appropriate.

It at least tries to come off as something more dramatic. It actually teased the possibility that some of the gaping plot holes in this narrative would be filled in, revealing that Sinister's monster may or may not be Cyclops. But in the same way that sending money to a Nigerian prince rarely pays off, this effort yielded nothing. Like seeing the promiscuous teenager die first in a slasher movie, it surprised no one when this monster just turned out to be a clone.

There was no dramatic weight whatsoever. There was painfully little context. Sinister claims he's trying to help save the mutant race and improve it. For some reason, he still thinks clones are a good idea this time. He's like someone who refuses to upgrade from VHS tapes. It's hard to really take him seriously. His charisma and cunning, which helped make him one of the X-men's most devious villains, just wasn't there.

If there is a sliver of drama in this story, it comes from Storm. This fight against another Sinister-bred clone gives Storm the chance to establish herself as the new leader of the X-men. And she does this to great effect. She's able to coordinate with her teammates to take down the monster. She also emphasizes protecting the same humans that hate mutants now more than ever. This isn't just appropriate for the X-men. It's required. Storm is able to check all the boxes that Halle Berry couldn't in X3.

Under Storm's leadership, the X-men effectively establish that they're not going to curl up in a fetal position and led an Inhuman dominated world kick them into submission. They're still going to be X-men. That's all well and good. But once again, the lack of a context completely robs this moment of any drama. It's like watching only the last two episodes of Breaking Bad. Without knowing the details of the story that led up to this, it's impossible to appreciate the breadth of the story.

When Extraordinary X-men began, it teased that something had gone horribly wrong during the 8-month gap between mutants and Inhumans. We know nothing about this conflict. We only know that at some point, Cyclops got himself killed and somehow managed to become the most hated non-clone mutant of all time. It's conveyed as a mystery, but it basically comes off as the kind of trolling that is best restricted to Walking Dead message boards.

This isn't like the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-men or House of M. These conflicts all happened on-panel and as part of major events. This phantom war with the Inhumans happened entirely off-panel and the story forces readers to assume that Cyclops just did something so horrible that he would've been better off just driving a truck of puppies off a cliff. It tries to be a mystery, but in Extraordinary X-men #5 it just comes off as an excuse to circumvent the major flaws in the narrative.

Absent an understanding of the conflict that created this situation, Storm's speech that the X-men were back basically amounts to scapegoating. And that's exactly the kind of thing the X-men are supposed to oppose. Her speech might have rallied the team, but it has less depth than a commercial for car insurance.

Extraordinary X-men #5 succeeds in the basics, but not much else. The inherent flaws in the narrative render it impotent in terms of having an impact. However, these flaws don't completely undermine the potential of the story. There is still time to fill in these gaping plot holes to help give weight and context to this series. But like watching Tom Brady in a two-minute drill, it feels like that time is passing faster than it should.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, January 22, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 130: Impossible Odds Part 2 PREVIEW!

There are a lot of colorful characters in the X-men mythos. I’ve brought in many of those characters in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Some are fairly easy. Deadpool is always a treat and I’ve made sure he’s had his moments. I’ve also tried to capture the charisma of characters like Sinister and Emma Frost. But of all the characters who present a challenge to X-men writers, few are as strange as Mojo.

When I decided to bring Dazzler back into the fold in X-men Supreme, I wanted to include Longshot and Mojo as well. Longshot has longstanding ties with Dazzler in the X-men comics. So bringing him into the Impossible Odds arc wasn’t too much a challenge. But Mojo presented a far greater challenge. His background in the X-men comics is somewhat obscure, but extremely twisted. It was hard enough bringing elements like the Shi’ar into the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Bringing Mojo into the mix proved even harder.

But in X-men Supreme Issue 129: Impossible Odds Part 1, I did it. In this fanfiction series, Mojo is actually Mojo Adams. He’s not this hideous alien creature from another dimension. He’s an oversized, overbearing, and overly energetic visionary who wants to turn the technology of the Danger Room into a form of entertainment. And he’s willing to put Dazzler, Longshot, and the X-men into the crossfire if it gets ratings. This is the Mojo we have in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. He might be very different than his comic counterpart, but he still has the charisma.

It’s one of the less obvious issues in the X-men mythos, but one that has real-world implications. The technology that could create advanced training facilities for the X-men could just as easily create dangerous environments for extreme reality shows. In this world and in the world of X-men Supreme, ratings still drive entertainment. It doesn’t matter how mindless or brutal it is. If it gets ratings, it’s going to get attention and it’s going to make money. Mojo understands this and he’s going to push it to wholly unreasonable extremes in the Impossible Odds arc. Just how extreme is it going to get? Well, I’ve prepared a preview of what the X-men are in for with Mojo's theatrics. If you didn’t hate reality TV enough, you’ll hate it after this.

“Whoa…what just happened?” said a dazed Colossus.

“Either we’ve been transported to the future every Terminator movie warned us about or we’re standing in the middle of Mojo’s insanity,” said Phoenix as she looked around.

“I haven’t heard anyone say ‘come with me if you want to live’ yet so I guess that narrows it down!” said Cyclops as he put his hand on his visor in preparation.

As the X-men took in their new surroundings, Spiral emerged atop a pile of rubble about a hundred feet away from them. When she appeared, she had weapons in each of her many hands that included four guns and two swords. She stared down at Cyclops, Phoenix, Iceman, Beast, Storm, Gambit, Psylocke, and Colossus with a predatory scowl. She had been waiting for this chance for quite some time.

“Smile for the cameras, X-men! You’ve officially joined Mojovision’s inaugural broadcast!” she proclaimed.

“You almost sound proud of that,” scoffed Psylocke as she formed a psionic blade.

“I assume that little exercise in teleportation is not solely part of Mojo’s act. You’re a mutant, aren’t you?” surmised Beast.

“Were the extra arms not enough of a clue?” said Spiral.

“If that’s true, then what the hell are you doing helping a creep Mojo?!” asked Iceman.

“I’m simply returning the favor of screwing you over!” she replied ominously, “I was on Genosha the day you had to butt in and ruin everything! As far as I’m concerned, you did our entire race a disservice! What better way to punish your treachery than humiliating you on global television?”

Some within the team who took part in the Genosha uprising now remembered her. She was one of the many mutants who watched Magneto’s plan fail because of them. She was obviously not satisfied with what happened after and was looking for an opportunity to see the X-men fail as well.

“Just what Remy needs, another crazy femme that holds a grudge,” muttered Gambit.

“And you didn’t even get to sleep with her,” commented Psylocke.

“That be her loss. Although with those arms, it probably ain’t worth it.”

“At least she’ll save us the trouble of finding someone who can lead us to Dazzler and Longshot!” said Cyclops as he prepared his visor.

“Oh come now, X-men! Where’s your sense of theatrics?” scoffed Spiral, “Say what you will about Mojo. He’s always in control!”

Spiral kept grinning as several large shadows passed overhead. The X-men looked up to see a hoard of oversized killer robots. They knew they were of the killing variety because instead of arms, they had two massive cannons attached to a large triangular body with a large red light in the center. They had no legs to support themselves, using a constant thrust of rocket exhaust to keep it air-born. It didn’t have the same presence of a sentinel, but they all set their sights on the X-men as if having taken commands by Spiral.

“Mutant life-forms detected. Must destroy. Must destroy,” the robots all blared.

“You do realize you’re doing an even greater disservice to our kind by participating in this blood sport, right?” Storm yelled towards Spiral as the X-men were surrounded.

“With the Mutant Liberation Force running rampant, it can’t get much worse. At least I had the good sense to make Mojo pay me for my services,” retorted Spiral.

“Whoa…you’re getting paid for this and we aren’t?” said Iceman, “Cyclops, seeing as how we’re in Hollywood…”

“Save it, Iceman! Killer robots first! Hollywood attitude later!” said the X-leader.

“Just putting it out there,” he replied, “If we’re going to get our asses kicked again, it might help to get a little compensation for it.”

Taking command as the X-men’s Operations Commander, Cyclops fired the first short at one of the incoming robots. It only dented the thick metal shell, allowing it to aim its arm cannons right towards the X-men and forcing them to go on the evasive.

“Dang! So we really be playing Mojo’s game?” asked Gambit.

“We have to for now! But not for too long!” said the X-leader.

“The odds are more fair than you think, Gambit,” said Beast, “We deal with such threats on a regular basis. Consider this an impromptu Danger Room session.”

“With Wolverine controlling the scenario while drunk,” added Phoenix added.

“Even with killer robots? I don’t think it is that bad,” said Colossus, despite one of the robots aiming its cannons right at his head.

Another robot opened fire. This time Colossus didn’t try to avoid it, choosing to draw the attack so the rest of the team could get into position. He braced himself for the major hit, which delivered the kind of force that would rip the flesh off any man who didn’t have metal skin. While it did mess up his uniform, it also gave the rest of the X-men a chance to counter.

Cyclops coordinated with Phoenix and Iceman, who each focused their attacks on two robots hovering over Spiral, hitting them both with a mix of optic and ice blasts. Beast and Gambit broke off in the other direction, drawing two more killer robots towards one of the decimated building. In close quarters, their agility gave them an edge and allowed them to better outmaneuver these behemoths. In many ways it was like a Danger Room session because there were rules to follow and strategy to utilize.

As part of this strategy, Psylocke moved in and backed up Colossus, throwing her psionic blades right up at the killer robot that first shot at them. She managed to hit the arm cannons before it could shot Colossus again. It caused the robot’s components to spark erratically and spin out of control.

“Thank you, Psylocke, I’d rather not take too many of those,” said Colossus, his ears still ringing.

“These blokes may look tough, but at least the Sentinels had personality,” commented Psylocke as she formed another psionic blade.

“I hope that means they’re as easy to outsmart,” said the Russian.

“I’ll put that theory to the test!” said Storm as she flew by.

Characters like Mojo are colorful and strange. That’s part of what gives the X-men their charm. Bring them and Dazzler into the mix and you’ve got a nice entertaining interlude in between battles against killer robots and the Mutant Liberation Front. I know the X-men Supreme fanfiction series deals with some serious issues at times, but I try to make time for fun interludes in between. I consider the Impossible Odds arc one of those interludes. For that reason, it’s important to know that you are sufficiently entertained by Mojo and his antics. So please take the time to provide feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments in the issue. Either way is fine. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Catalyst of a Genesis: Secret Wars #9

The following is my review of Secret Wars #9, which was posted on

In physics, every major reaction requires a catalyst. Some require a light tap. Some require a metric ton of TNT. When it comes to re-shaping their entire comic universe, Marvel likes to ramp it up to a cosmic scale and then ramp it up a little more for good measure. Secret Wars certainly succeeded in establishing itself on this scale. But that was the easy part. Like making a cake with a nuclear bomb, the narrative got messy at times and subsequent delays didn't help.

However, the various elements that emerged on this massive scale are finally set to converge in Secret Wars #9 and the final product promises to be as succulent as all the cakes ever baked by Willy Wonka. Every issue and the tie-ins that spun out of these issues have been converging, setting the stage for a final battle that even Peter Jackson would find impressive. The main challenge is conveying the impact of such a battle without making it feel like Mythbusters rerun.

Secret Wars has had its flaws, but nobody can accuse Jonathan Hickman of not being thorough in establishing Battleworld and the god-like power of Dr. Doom. Between his attention to detail and the sheer breadth of the conflict, Hickman has channeled his inner Stanley Kubrick in crafting the perfect narrative.

So much of the narrative has been built around the scope of this world that Doom created and just as much effort was put into upsetting that order. It's been brewing in various forms through various plot-threads. Now, it all comes together in Secret Wars #9 to end Battleworld and foster the creation of a new Marvel universe. And the impact of this creation is akin to the aroma of freshly baked cookies on Christmas Eve.

Hickman dots the last of his I's and crosses the last of his T's. The big epic battles that unfolded in the previous issues set the stage for the final showdown between Dr. Doom, Reed Richards, and the few remaining characters who have survived to this point. Nothing is rushed. Nothing feels contrived. It's like pure spring water that hasn't been processed and package by a soft drink company. It's as refreshing as it sounds.

The fighting itself is visceral, but not just because of Esad Ribic's fine artwork. The drama, which has been marinating this story like a premium-quality flank steak, makes every word, every punch, and every off-hand comment by Spider-Man feel meaningful. Despite the delays, the teasers, and the trolling at various points, the impact is there and undeniably potent. It's not on the same level as the impact of seeing The Force Awakened after camping outside a theater for two weeks, but it's in the same time zone.

The primary source of that impact begins and ends with the classic clash between Dr. Doom and Reed Richards. It's one of the most famous conflicts in the history of Marvel and Secret Wars #9 adds another layer to that vast mythos. It effectively accomplishes what Tim Story and Josh Trank failed to do, despite having access to Rupert Murdock's pocketbook.

This clash, however, isn't just between two brilliant minds or two opposing philosophies. This is a conflict built around the core personalities of each character. Both are entirely convinced they're right. One of them just happens to have god-like power. That means this can't be a civil debate. It can't be something that's moderated by Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper. It has to come down to the core of both character.

It starts off lopsided. Reed comes armed only with the truth and his intellect. Dr. Doom has god-like power. That's like one side having a paper clip and the other having a nuclear bomb. But that god-like power ends up becoming a non-factor and not just because Reed subverts it. He doesn't even try to confront that power. He only tries to confront the man.

This is where the dramatic weight, along with Ribic's distinct art style, becomes the fudge icing on top of a plate of brownies. Take away the Doombots, the Fantasticars, the goofy costumes, and masks and you just have two personalities with the same goal. Both Reed Richards and Dr. Doom wanted to save a world that they knew was going to die. In their struggles, they reveal what drove them to do what they did. Neither comes off as inherently wrong, but Doom still comes off as exceedingly petty.

What makes the outcome satisfying is that neither side is humiliated or defeated. There's no scene where Dr. Doom vows horrible revenge on Reed, his family, and the next 10 generations of his descendants. Both actually manage to come out of the conflict better.

In the same mold, a renewed Marvel universe comes out of this conflict. It's not yet clear that it's completely free of incursions, retcons, and clones. But it's a world born from the clash between these two characters. It doesn't just feel like everything just snapped back to the way it was like the end of every sitcom made before 1987. This new Marvel universe feels like a beat up old Cadillac that got a much-needed makeover.

The rebirth of a new Marvel universe makes for a very satisfying conclusion, which has been the exception rather than the norm for man Marvel events. A story on the scope and scale of Secret Wars, complete with agonizing delays and multiple tie-ins, felt like one of those stories that could only ever have a forced, convoluted ending on par with the Seinfeld finale. But Hickman found a way to make it work and Ribic found a way to make it visually stunning.

In terms of accomplishments, this ranks right up there with revitalizing Robert Downy Jr.'s career as one Marvel's greatest. A year from now, nobody is going to remember the delays. Our collective attention spans barely last beyond a season of American Idol. The whole narrative of Secret Wars is now complete, polished, and worthy of its own trophy case.

Not every tie-in was satisfying. Not every character got a chance to shine. But the core narrative that culminated in Secret Wars #9 made it feel as though every character and sub-plot got a chance to contribute. Every moment carried some level of the dramatic weight. In the end, it made Secret Wars feel less like another event comic and more like a catalyst for the next stage of the Marvel mythos. The fact that it made readers feel better about forking over more of their hard-earned money to the Marvel enterprise is just a nice bonus for us and Disney's accountants.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Uncanny X-men #2: Nuff Said!

Admit it. You’d probably would’ve voted for Mitt Romney if he could prove definitively that electing him President would drastically increase internet speeds, eliminate all pop-up ads, and allow all bottles of whiskey to be tax deductible. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or even a petty one. It just means that you get behind people who can get shit done. If Magneto ever ran for President, I imagine he’d get plenty of votes on the basis that he’d disembowel every mullah in Iran who denied the holocaust. Sadly, he and the rest of the mutant race need more than votes right now.

Cullen Bunn has continued his efforts to make Magneto the most badass X-men villain of all time. That or he’s trying to give Michael Fassbender more sex appeal. I’m not sure. But in his new Uncanny X-men series, he has Magneto giving the mutant race and the humans who spit on them an excessively hard kick in the balls. But in Uncanny X-men #2, he has to kick a little harder because everyone wants to get in on the mutant-bashing action. Inhumans fans, get ready to jerk off. X-men fans, I hope you skipped lunch.

As much fun as it is seeing Magneto kick scared mutants in the balls, it’s still way more fun watching Mystique kick ass. It’s easier to fap too as well. She finally makes her post-Secret Wars debut and she’s still doing what she does best. She’s living the dream, which is to say she’s living the lives of others, and she’s looking damn sexy doing it. In other words, she’s still the same Mystique we know and love. Marvel just didn’t see fit to fuck her over like they did Cyclops. I guess Jennifer Lawrence has that kind of effect on a character.

But like the IRS at a fundraiser for the Koch brothers, someone comes along the way to fuck up Mystique’s stolen life. She’s living happily as a cute blond at a San Francisco tech company. She’s not even the hipster type. Then, some random Secret Service rejects come along to ruin everything. Mystique responds in the most appropriate way possible by kicking the everloving shit out of them. And she does it in a way that I’m sure even Jennifer Lawrence would approve of.

Once she’s done kicking ass and making my penis happy, she ditches the company and rejoins some mysterious partner. Not much is revealed, but these partners are either dedicated Hellfire Club cos-players or they’re from the motherfucking Hellfire Club. I’m fine with either. Hell, I’m surprised the Hellfire Club didn’t extend the red carpet to Mystique sooner. But if she’s spying for them, at least she has good tastes. We don’t know much about what she’s after, but we do know that working for the Hellfire Club comes with a free supply of thongs. So I guess everyone wins.

There’s not nearly as much mystery with Magneto and Psylocke’s mission. In the first issue, they rescued a mutant healer who was too chicken shit to tough it out through these dark times for the mutant race. He tried to put himself in hibernation until the world stopped fucking over the mutant race. Granted, he probably would’ve had to wait until the day Fox went bankrupt, but Magneto managed to get his ass in gear. Then, he got himself killed by the Dark Riders. So either way, he was fucked.

Finding his dead body actually makes for a dramatic moment for Magneto. Keep in mind, this guy knows a thing or two about an entire race being devastated by poison gas. The main difference is he doesn’t bitch and moan about Cyclops. He’s just looking to find out who killed this mutant so he can determine whether he needs to rip their spine out of their assholes or their noses.

There’s a little drama with Psylocke as well. She’s providing psychic support and identifying other healers that might be a target for a Colombian necktie. So the mission to save healers is still ongoing. But she gets distracted briefly by Arcangel’s appearance. It’s another ominous hint on top of the ones we get in the first issue. This isn’t the same bad boy Arcangel that once made Psylocke’s thong-loving ass so hot. This is a mindless drone version of Arcangel who has only slightly more personality than Kristen Stewart. It’s only a teaser for now, but like a nipple slip an awards show, it offers some tantalizing possibilities.

As for the possibility of sexual tension between Monet and Sabretooth? Well, it’s not quite as tantalizing, but it’s close enough. While Magneto tries to figure out who maimed the healer they freed, these two are on a mission to save another healer. It’s perfectly in line with the overall theme thus far. Someone is targeting healers the same way the Epic Meal Time guys target bacon. It might not sound like a big deal, but at a time when 8-month time skips cause more plot holes than the last two seasons of Lost, they count for something.

And while I’m still not sold on an inverted Sabretooth, I will say his teasing with Monet was pretty fun. He might be an inverted prick, but he’s got a sense of humor about it. In a series that has such dark themes, it offers some much-needed balance. He’s no Deadpool, but maybe that’s setting expectations too high, especially when he’s got a movie coming out that might actually not suck.

Sabretooth and Monet find their healer and for the moment, he doesn’t have a bullet hole in his chest. This one happens to be a more familiar face. It’s Elixir, whose exploits include being on X-Force and banging the Stepford Cuckoos. That’s not a bad resume to say the least. But I guess X-Force and sexy blond triplets was just too exciting for him because he’s now trying help people without his powers. So he’s joined this charity in Vermont.

It’s a perfectly noble endeavor. He claims he’s not sure just how much his powers are helping people. At a time when mutants are less popular than explosive diarrhea or NRA lobbyists, that’s probably a good thing. He doesn’t even blame Cyclops for his current situation, which already puts him above 90 percent of the X-men. But there’s a distinct sincerity to his current state in that he’s just not sure what to do with himself. And sincerity in comics these days is rarer than an intelligent conversation with Jessica Simpson.

Whatever conflict Elixir feels ends up meaning jack shit once the Dark Riders arrive. Just as they did with the last healer, they show up and hit with the force of the 85 Bears on crack. This time, the X-men have a chance to protect Elixir. It leads to a short, but pretty damn visceral battle. It’s the kind of battle that brings out the strengths in Greg Land’s art. The Gloria Steinmans of the world might bitch and moan about how he draws every woman like a Victoria’s Secret model, but even they would have to admit his action scenes are pretty damn good.

The battle gets bloody very fast. The Dark Riders don’t just target Elixir. They target any innocent person around him. And keep in mind, this isn’t a UFC fight night. This is a fucking charity. It hits hard and makes for heavy drama. Again, it plays to the strengths of Sabretooth and Monet’s style as well as Greg Land’s art. Eventually, Elixir finally stops being a pussy and shows his strengths as well.

Despite looking more shell shocked than Mormon at a gay bar, Elixir finally decides to put his powers to good use. He’s able to heal everyone the Dark Riders maimed. It’s another moment that nicely builds on the drama that Cullen Bunn is so good at building. If Elixir has any lingering reservations about the good he can do with his powers, then he’s just being difficult.

There’s just one slight problem. While Elixir might have saved all these innocent people, he basically slathered steak sauce on his body and jumped into a den of hungry bears. Because Sabretooth figures out just a second too late that this is exactly what the Dark Riders wanted him to do. By using his powers out in the open, he basically gave them a big, shiny target and they took it. It leaves Elixir with a hole in his chest and a couple of demoralized X-men in his wake. It’s a heavy moment and one that has just the right impact. I would offer my sympathy to Elixir fans, but I’d rather they just seek Jean Grey and Richard Rider fans for support. it awesome?

Well if I’m going to judge this book by how hard Magneto’s team kicks the mutant race in the balls, I can only say yes, for the most part. Nobody is going to be rendered sterile just yet, but that’s not to say the potential isn’t there. While this might be bad news to my future grandchildren, it’s promising news for this story. It’s concise, dramatic, and flows nicely from the first issue. They’re like Megan Fox’s ass in a Michael Bay movie. It just works.

That’s not to say Uncanny X-men #2 has only as much depth as a Michael Bay movie. It certainly has more and doesn’t need giant robots or mutant turtles to move the plot along. The mission to protect healers fits nicely within the overall narrative of mutants being fucked more than all the gangbangs in a German porno. But between Mystique’s mysterious role, the role of the Dark Riders, and the unexplained sexual tension between Monet and Sabretooth, there are some shortcomings. But none of these shortcomings involve bitching about Cyclops or kissing an Inhuman’s ass. So that still counts for a lot.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Monday, January 18, 2016

New Book by Jack Fisher - The Final Communion

I know it seems like at times I put all my energy into drunken comic book reviews and an endless stream of fanfiction side-projects, but I try not to monopolize all my energy into one particular venture. As I've stated before, I am pursuing a serious career in publishing. I'd like to be able to make a decent living with my writing one day. Writing comic book reviews and X-men Supreme is just one of the many ways I refine my craft. And in addition to these ventures, I do try and craft stories that I can sell to those who seek more of my craft.

To date, I've already self-published several books. None are on the best sellers list, nor do I expect them to be. But it's part of the process. I write these books so that I can keep getting better. I want it to show in my reviews, as well as my subsequent works. And today, I've added another title to my growing list of published works.

It is entitled the Final Communion. Of all the books I've written to date, this one is probably the most unique. First and foremost, it's written in a first-person point of view. The entire story is told through the eyes of a single character. With this character, you'll enter a strange yet colorful world. And yes, by colorful I mean sensual. This is another story with heavy erotic themes. But don't expect the same themes I've written about in other stories. I've tried to break new ground with this story. And for the price of a cheap comic, you can enjoy it and all its intimate glory.

Like everyone at Camp Salvation, Grace Maria Goodwin has lived a life of hardship, toil, and strict discipline. It's a life ordained by the Church of the Army of Heaven. It involves heavy repression, strict morals, and an emphasis on avoiding fleshly pleasures of any kind.

For the past 13 years, Grace has been living this life. She and everyone like her live apart from their families, training to be soldiers for the Church in preparation for the End of Days. Her life and the lives of all those around her have already been laid out.

But for one night, Grace and her fellow adherents get to abandon their obligations. For one night, they get to indulge in all the sinful desires they've been told to avoid. This night is the Final Communion. And Grace has every intention of embracing these decadent desires.

However, she also seeks more than just indulgence. She's looking for someone special...someone she must find before the night is over. Can she find him? Or will her desires consume her?

To all those who wish to support this blog, checking out my book is an excellent way to do so. For anyone interesting in discussing this book or various publishing opportunities, please feel free to contact me at any time. Until next time, stay warm and thank you for helping me become more awesome. Nuff said!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

All-New Wolverine #4: Nuff Said!

It's good to help people. It's not just a decent thing to do. It makes the world a better place. And in a world where Ryan Secrest is somehow a celebrity, we need that. Wolverine is very familiar with the shittiest parts of the world and he's probably gotten drunk in most of them. But he still tried to help as best he could. If he could get drunk and fuck a few Japanese hookers, then that was a nice bonus.

Now X-23 is trying to carry on that legacy, trying to make the world a better place. She might not be able to help the Japanese hookers like her predecessor, but she's already off to a great start. She found a few renegade clones of hers that were being manipulated like typical Wolverine-esque meat puppets. She's trying desperately to help him and in All-New X-men #3, she enlists Dr. Strange's help to aid them. Because nothing EVER goes wrong from getting entangled with Dr. Strange, this might be a boring review. I'll still try to make it fun and hope my sarcasm isn't too subtle.

X-23 wants to help her clone sisters. They’ve been meat puppets long enough. X-23 knows better than most that life as a meat puppet sucks elephant balls. But to help them, she needs to undo some of the shit their creators did. And since she’s no Reed Richards, she enlists Dr. Strange’s help. This unfortunately means hanging out at the Sanctum Sanctorum, a place where a demon getting loose counts as a slow news day. It’s a perfect place for a bunch of messed up teenage girls to hang out. They’d be safer running around in bikinis at a frat party covered in whiskey.

Even so, Dr. Strange agrees to at least see what he’s up against. He uses the Eye of Agamotto to discover that helping these girls is going to be slightly harder than a simple demon exorcism…or 10 for that matter. He finds out one already wants to murder him and paint pictures with his blood. The sad thing is that’s probably normal for meat puppets in the Marvel universe. If it existed in the real world, it would probably be covered under Obamacare without the co-pay. Even so, it’s still enough to give Dr. Strange pause and wonder if he’s better off just exorcising demons.

This leads to a powerful moment between X-23 and Dr. Strange. She’s intent on helping her sisters. She then asks Dr. Strange to use that same eye on her, which is the equivalent of Googling her with 10 supercomputers. In doing so, we get a quick recap of what X-23 has endured since she shed her meat puppet baggage. Anyone who has kept up with her won’t be surprised. For Dr. Strange, however, it’s probably more disturbing than any demon not attached to Marilyn Manson.

It’s an important moment because it reminds us readers, especially those who don’t always read comics sober, of where X-23 came from. She’s not Logan. She’s got her own demons and she doesn’t have the luxury of amnesia. It’s more than enough to convince Dr. Strange that she’s worthy of wielding the title of Wolverine, despite what assholes on the internet might say. Some of us don’t need to be convinced that she’s worthy. But like the joys of eating bacon with whiskey, it’s worth reinforcing.

This powerful moment is followed up by something much more generic. Apparently, leaving three troubled teenage girls alone in a room with all sorts of mystical shit wasn’t a good idea. I don’t need no Eye of Agamotto to tell me that. I guess X-23 and Dr. Strange just love finding out the hard way because one of X-23’s clone sisters decided to shoot one of those artifacts, thereby releasing a demon. There’s nothing all that distinct about it. It’s just another demon that needs exorcising/stabbing.

It makes for a fairly generic, but nicely detailed battle. It’s as basic a team-up as can be, Wolverine and Dr. Strange. Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring as Batman/Superman, Wolverine/Spider-Man, or whiskey/steak. But it’s perfectly in line with Wolverine’s tradition of helping to stab crazy shit while the other guy just watches. It helps that X-23’s clone sisters get in on the action, but they really don’t add much to it. They fight the creature, protect the civilians, and give Dr. Strange the time he needs for his balls to descend so he can help. It’s only slightly more thrilling than watching James Bond shoot an army of henchmen.

Generic or not, it is a battle that contributes something to the story. In the course of the fight, one of X-23’s clone sisters is injured. It’s not clear at what point she was injured. In a battle against a demon, there possibilities range from a simple possession to being sodomized by Mephisto. In this case, it turns out the demon doesn’t cause the injury. There’s something else at work and fighting a demon just made it worse, as is often the case. It’s like adding crack to your coffee before a driving test. It’s not going to end well.

Not knowing if this requires an exorcism or just some bed rest, they get her to a hospital where Dr. Strange sneaks them into an MRI room. He’s still a doctor last I checked so he’s technically not out of place. He’s just not asking for an insurance card first, which I’m sure is a high crime at this or any other American hospital.

It helps make for another nice moment though. X-23 may have revealed how fucked up she was before becoming the new Wolverine earlier. She reveals here as her clone sister suffers that she wants to comfort her. Unlike Logan, she won’t tell her to throw some dirt on it, drink some whiskey, and walk it off. It’s how she sets herself apart and her clone sister understands that. It’s the kind of setting that usually leads to music in a Disney movie.

That’s not to say this is a scene that’ll only appeal to Frozen fans. While X-23 consoles her clone sisters, the other stand outside the door and dissuade any doctors/lawyers/insurance agents from entering. And they do it with their own unique personality. It’s one of those less serious moments that helps lighten the mood. And at a time when every X-men comic seems to go out of their way to bash Cyclops or lament how fucked mutants are, this is a nice touch.

Dr. Strange eventually concludes that X-23’s clone sisters don’t have any mystical issues they can fix. They have little robots in their brains that will probably kill them worse than binge-watching the last three seasons of American Idol all at once. It’s not a demon that can be exorcised. But it can be fought. That just means teaming up with someone else. In this case, it’s Ant Man. It’s another moment that would make Logan proud, jumping from one random team-up to another. It reflects nicely how Wolverine gets around in the Marvel universe and not just at bars and Japanese brothels. it awesome?

Even if Logan's standards are low, as X-23 claimed, this series has raised the bar in all the right ways. It isn't just X-23 fighting Logan's old battles or paying off all the bartenders he's indebted himself to. She's still fighting her own battles. She's just doing it as Wolverine. And like her predecessor, she's easy to team up with and adds her own unique awesome to any character she meets. Not saying Dr. Strange needed it, but I think Benedict Cumberbatch is still grateful.

This plot with her clone sisters continues to take numerous turns. It's not yet dragging, but it's coming dangerously close. Tom Taylor does a good job of fleshing out their personalities and putting him in situations where they have to match X-23's badassery. Those situations may be generic. Nobody’s panties are getting wet from fighting another one of Dr. Strange's monsters. But All-New Wolverine #3 makes it clear that it's probably smart to keep some spare panties around just in case.

Final Score: 8 out of 10