Thursday, March 31, 2016

All-New X-men #7: Nuff Said!

Karma can be an omega level bitch. There’s no way around it. Get one too many lucky breaks and enjoy one too many triumphs and watch out. Karma is waiting in the wings with a sharpened dildo and a competent lawyer. Cyclops is finding this out the hard way. Make no mistake. He got pretty fucking lucky. He went from banging Jean Grey to banging Emma Frost. He united the mutant race, saved them from extinction, and was vindicated time and again. So of course Marvel is going to fuck him over and have the Inhumans come out with rose-scented farts. The fact they did it off-panel makes it all the more painful.

Even karma has its limits though. Marvel’s Inhuman-loving brass went the extra mile, completely destroying Cyclops off-panel and undermine everything he ever accomplished. Now, they’re ready to jam a rusted nail laced with anthrax into the open wound. O5 Cyclops has been abducted by Toad, yes Toad. Short of drowning every mutant in a vat of Inhuman piss, it couldn’t get worse. All-New X-men #7 still makes the effort though and the results will make X-men fans want to piss on the grave of every Inhuman that has ever died.

So the O5 X-men just defeated Blob and they’re in Paris. By any measure, they should be celebrating with a bottle of wine, some overpriced cheese, and some goofy accordion music. Instead, they’re only now just realizing that O5 Cyclops is MIA. Now I’m not going to say that’s a dick move. They were kind of distracted by Blob’s immensely fat ass. And compared to the dick moves that Beast alone has made, this hardly qualifies.

But they eventually find out the hard way that O5 Cyclops isn’t off recruiting future mistresses at French clubs. He’s been abducted by Toad. Yes, Toad, the former janitor of the Jean Grey Institute and the Brotherhood of Mutant’s former whipping boy. Being captured by him is like being called a douchebag by Kanye West. It’s pretty fucking low. But in his defense, Toad is shit faced drunk and he’s trying to change this shitty time in which mutants have to live.

Toad proves that it’s always possible for Cyclops to get screwed over just a little bit more in this era. He has him tied up and not in an Emma Frost sort of way. He’s also pissed-faced drunk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it means he’s not in a clear state of mind. Ask the last cop who pulled me over what that can do to a person. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t stopped laughing.

Toad doesn’t say much. He’s not a very articulate drunk. O5 Cyclops just lies there and muses in a number of overly predictable ways. He’s trapped. He knows he just got pwned by Toad. And he’s in a confined space that makes optic blasts iffy at best. He at least tries to be strategic, but he learns the hard way that drunks don’t leave much room for strategy. Toad doesn’t even give him a chance to form a strategy when he hits him with a liquor bottle. It’s bad, but the fact Toad still has his pants on puts him ahead of a number of drunks I’ve known.

Back with O5 Cyclops’ teammates and so-called friends, they’re proving to be a lot less useful this time around. There’s concern. There’s strategy. They do want to find their friend. There just isn’t a lot of drama or tension here. There’s no effort to flesh out any of these ongoing issues surrounding O5 Cyclops, his adult self, and the issues that Hopeless has been developing throughout this series. They have about as much emotion as I do when I misplace my keys. For a series full of melodramatic teenagers, this comes off as pretty damn flat.

What it might lack in drama, however, it makes up for in head trauma. Pretty sure O5 Cyclops’ strategy is now completely shot to shit. Toad, still drunk off his ass, reminds us yet again that adult Cyclops fucked up everything for the mutant race. So he wants to take a page out of Terminator and avoid this shit altogether. Anyone who had the misfortune of paying to see Terminator 3 knows how badly that can turn out.

But again, it’s more “Cyclops is the worst!” without any details or explanations. Since this has been an annoyingly consistent theme since the end of Secret Wars, it doesn’t really carry a lot of weight. It’s just makes Toad an overly ambitious drunk. Anyone who ever rode a shopping cart down a flight of stairs after chugging half a bottle of vodka knows that ambition isn’t all that special.

Eventually, O5 Cyclops’ teammates do get their act together and start searching for their friend. They don’t have Cerebro, a cute telepath, or an angry Wolverine clone. They only have O5 Beast’s gadgets and an adorable pet bamf. Add Johnny Depp to the cast and they’re a full-fledged Disney movie. But they’re still way fucking behind the curve. Considering that they’re dealing with a drunk Toad here, that’s pretty fucking pathetic.

This means more pain and suffering for O5 Cyclops because I guess Brett Ratner set the bar too damn low. He manages to get off an optic blast that downs Toad, but he’s already dealing with a bottle to the head and a broken leg. So if he did have any strategy in mind for his escape, I think it’s safe to say he botched it.

There really is no strategy here. There’s a bit more dramatic weight with O5 Cyclops fighting for survival. Mark Bagley’s art here, which nicely describes the injuries someone might sustain from a bottle to the head, once again shines. But aside from the Wolverines of the world who jerk off to Cyclops’ suffering, there’s not much else here to add to the plot.

It’s taking his teammates way too fucking long, but they’ve almost caught up. They eventually find the car that Toad hit O5 Cyclops with in the last issue. What they discover won’t exactly make it onto an episode of CSI, but they’re at least able to determine that Toad is way more coordinated as a drunk than he ever was as a sober member of the Brotherhood of Mutants. That’s sad in some ways, but I can’t help but be a little proud in others.

There’s still a lack of urgency and drama here. The characters talk, but they’re still treating this with the same emotional weight of running low on beer during the Super Bowl. There’s some urgency, but they’re not treating it as seriously as they probably should. For a series that has had its share of success with teenage melodrama, this is pretty disappointing.

O5 Cyclops’ push to survive still gives the story some excitement. Except now, he has to channel his inner Jack Bauer and fight back. Sure, a drunk Toad is hardly on the level of rogue terror cell in Los Angeles, but the stakes are still pretty damn high. I don’t know if the O5 X-men found the time to see any Terminator movies, but I’m pretty sure they don’t want to have to resort to a Genisys style reboot.

There is some solid inner grit from O5 Cyclops, but it’s nothing most teenagers in a life-or-death situation wouldn’t think. He stops short of crying to his parents so I guess that puts O5 Cyclops slightly ahead of the pack. Jack Bauer certainly would approve. Then Toad, still drunk off his ass, decides if he can’t bash his skull in, he’ll burn him alive. He’s a drunk. And drunks tend to opt for simple solutions. Sure, they tend to cause property damage, but they can still work pretty damn well.

We don’t get to see just how effective Toad’s drunk tactics are. O5 Cyclops decides to let out another optic blast and hope for the best. He’s sober though so he has fewer excuses. However, the timeline doesn’t immediately turn to shit so it’s safe to assume that Toad failed or that O5 Cyclops succeeded or that even the Marvel timeline has stopped giving a shit about the X-men at this point.

Whatever the case, his friends are way too fucking late. They don’t even get a chance to kick-start Toad’s hangover. They just stand over the rubble, looking shell-shocked, and not even gasping at the thought that O5 Cyclops might have just fucked up his future even more. While there might have been a compelling struggle with O5 Cyclops, his friends carry themselves with the same urgency as someone going grocery shopping. It makes for a pretty hollow story and a new low-point for the O5 X-men. They just got outsmarted by a drunk Toad. I think that says it all about the current state of the O5 X-men right now. it awesome?

Well, if you’re among those who feel Cyclops isn’t done paying his karma debt for boning both Emma Frost and Jean Grey, I can see the appeal. Beyond that, however, there isn’t much appeal beyond a drunk Toad. Now far be it from me to judge a character for their drinking habits, I will say that Toad is one of the least entertaining drunks I’ve ever seen and I’ve been to Utah. I like that Dennis Hopeless built on Toad’s story that emerged during Wolverine and the X-men, but no amount of alcohol can make his current stupor more interesting. Maybe he should try weed next time.

Beyond tormenting O5 Cyclops and Toad’s drunken ramblings, not much happened in this issue. There was a lot of potential for dramatic weight, but like many family reunions, alcohol undermined that potential. That’s not to say the story didn’t move forward at all. It did progress, but only in a way that a drunk might perceive. All-New X-men #7 does entertain some interesting and dramatic elements. It just doesn’t entertain them very well. Again, maybe next time they should opt for weed over alcohol.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

X-men 92 #1: Nuff Said!

Remember the days before the X-men were mired in sterilization plots, bullshit retcons, and Hope fucking Summers? Remember the days where nobody ever even contemplated shafting the X-men in favor of the xenophobic, elitist, slave-owning racists also known as the Inhumans? Yeah, I remember those days. They were worth staying sober for. Most of it happened in the 90s. Were it not for shitty dial-up internet, it would’ve been the perfect decade. Instead, it’s just a distant memory now.

There’s no way around it. Things for the X-men suck elephant dick and it’s largely due to the fucking movie rights that Fox will never let go of. But X-men 92 offers a badly needed alternative to a world of sterilization, Terrigen shit storms, and Hope fucking Summers. It did well enough as a Secret Wars tie-in to warrant a full ongoing series. X-men 92 #1 picks up where this series left off, building on a world where Beast isn’t a douche-bag, Jean Grey never died, and Charles Xavier isn’t a manipulative asshat. Oh, and there’s no Hope fucking Summers. So by default, I’ll be reviewing this issue on a curve. Can you blame me?

It starts with a positive newscast. Let me repeat that because I don’t think anyone born after 2001 is familiar with this concept. There was a positive, uplifting newscast celebrating the opening of the Xavier Institute to a new class of students. That shouldn’t sound crazier than mixing skittles with napalm. But that’s the tone Chad Bowers and Chris Sims establish. This is a world that has a positive view of the X-men and a hopeful view of the mutant race. I’ll give everyone a moment to pick their jaws up off the floor.

Things inside the Xavier Institute are even more radical and that’s not 90s surfer talk either. Beast is back to being a teacher and Charles Xavier is back to being a mentor. And at no point does Beast say or do anything that makes him come off like a total asshat. I almost forgot that this version of Hank McCoy could exist. Also, Charles Xavier isn’t a total fucking jerk who mind-wipes his students. He actually comes off as a guy who carries himself with almost as much charm as Patrick Stewart. Again, this shouldn’t feel more refreshing than a cold beer on a hot summer day, but it does.

Also, it has Wolverine on roller blades. Say that sentence out loud without smiling. I fucking dare you!

So class begins. A new crop of students, including familiar faces like Monet and Chamber, are in Beast’s class. They’re all ready and eager to learn how to be X-men and how not to be shafted by the Inhumans. Then, as often happens at the Xavier Institute, they get interrupted. However, this isn’t because of a killer robot. I figure that’ll be part of the mid-term. Instead, it’s an unexpected visit by Maverick, a character who hasn’t been relevant since the 90s no less.

Class ends early and the X-men assemble with their revamped team. And they’re not revamped because of time travelers or an unexpected death. Cyclops and Jean Grey are on vacation. Storm is the leader now and has Cyclops’ full support. Yes, Marvel, it is possible to have peaceful, amicable transitions. What a fucking concept, right?

On top of Storm’s leadership role, they have new members in Bishop and Psylocke. This will mark the first time they come together to address a conflict. They don’t know much about it. They just know what Maverick says and he says someone is coming for the X-men. He doesn’t say they’re Disney/Marvel lawyers, but they’re probably just as dangerous.

That danger shows up right at their front door because this is the fucking 90s. They don’t just send menacing tweets. They include Omega Red and a team of communist-inspired villains because back in the 90s, we weren’t convinced communism was dead. They’re still not quite as menacing as Disney/Marvel lawyers, but they’re close. They actually claim they’re heroes acting on behalf of Russia because Maverick stole something from them, which in Russia could mean stealing the last piece of pizza from Putin’s leftovers. It sounds so reasonable. It’s not like someone who hates Wolverine can be unreasonable, right?

While we can only expect Wolverine’s enemies to be so reasonable, this moment adds some nice insight into the context of X-men 92. Again, this is not a world where giant Inhuman farts are making people sick. People actually like the X-men here and people are trying to create a world where they don’t have to sick killer robots on each other. I’ll say it again. What a fucking concept, right?

That’s not to say the 90s weren’t prone to fucking up the process. Omega Red didn’t even need Monica Lewinsky to pull it off. He and his team ditch diplomacy like Homer Simpson ditches gym memberships. They give this new team of X-men a way to show off what this era of X-men could deliver. And they do fucking deliver. Rogue throws a bear at Omega Red. I think that’s worth emphasizing again. Rogue throws a bear at someone and looks damn sexy while doing it. No offence to Anna Paquin, but this was just too awesome to capture in the movies. It couldn’t capture the spirit of the 90s X-men without setting it to Pearl Jam music.

The battle is pretty intense, but ends abruptly and for good reasons that don’t involve cosmic birds for once. Maverick actually steps in, who is still injured mind you. He claims he has information that’ll be just as bad for Russia as it would be for the X-men. He also know some people in Russia who share his tastes in vodka. So he’s able to diffuse a situation better than Bill Clinton with his pants on. It adds an extra layer of intrigue that we don’t usually get unless Bill Clinton takes his pants off.

Maverick then reveals that the information he stole that Russia finds so threatening involves an old Soviet Superweapon that they somehow lost track of in a vodka stupor. But it’s not a weapon the Russian are interested in testing on mutants. They have enough enemies with gangsters, political unrest, and angry bears. Someone else wants to unleash this weapon on mutants and Maverick thinks they need to start clenching their assholes.

So who could be more menacing than the Russians? Who would even be crazy/drunk enough to want to turn a superweapon on the X-men? Are they really that willing to waste a perfectly good weapon? Well, the Von Struckers are willing to do a lot of crazy shit. Hell, they managed to completely derail the last season of Agents of SHIELD. But they’re just the kind of people who would unleash a Soviet era superweapon on the X-men for shits and giggles. So long as it’s not a killer robot, I imagine they’ll get plenty of entertainment value out of it.

This weapon isn’t a killer robot. It’s a creature, but he has shark-like teeth so that’s a close second. The Von Struckers call him Alpha Red. They say he’s fallen a bit behind the times and for a series that takes place in the context of the 90s, that’s saying something. But the Von Struckers are intent on finding a creative way to torment the X-men. Killer robots have gone out of style. So why not a Soviet era superweapon? It beats the hell out of a giant Inhuman fart or a sentence fragment from the Scarlet Witch.

Back at the Xavier Institute, Maverick tells the X-men just how fucked they are now that Alpha Red is coming after them. He explained that the Russians attempted to create their own version of Captain America. But like their moon rockets that had a nasty habit of exploding, their version of Cap had a nasty habit of turning into a blood-thirsty monster. That’s not to say the Russians are incompetent or anything. It just says that when they fail, it’s best to be in another time zone.

The way Maverick describes Alpha Red, it sounds like they’ll be dealing with a hung over Wolverine on crack. He also describes how the Von Struckers screwed him over when he found Alpha Red. These descriptions aren’t meaningless either. They actually fill in vital details within the plot, making it feel concise and coherent. For those of us who have deal with entire wars and major deaths unfolding off-panel, this means a lot. This means a whole hell of a lot. Bowers and Sims should take a fucking bow for this.

So Maverick decides to leave so he can keep Omega Red off the X-men’s backs. However, they still have to deal with Alpha Red, a bloodthirsty Russian super weapon who doesn’t know the Cold War is over and you can now buy a Big Mac in Moscow. He wastes no time in exercising his Cold War attitudes. He shows up in Westchester, just in time for Jubilee’s date with Chamber. That’s another interesting detail that carried over from the first series. Jubilee is all giddy and smitten with Chamber. Foreign accents apparently make her hot. So Alpha Red attacking when she’s about to get a little 90s action would be a real dick move, but something the Von Struckers would totally approve of. it awesome?

It would probably be easier for me to list the flaws in X-men 92 #1 than go over all the ways this comic rocks harder than a Nirvana concert. If it has any flaws, they’re too small to belabor and I’m too high to give a shit. This issue had fucking everything. The X-men are a school. Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy are teachers. Storm is a leader. Cyclops and Jean Grey are alive. This is all the basic shit that made the X-men so awesome across so many decades. The fact that it’s all here in this issue and nobody gets sterilized is a huge fucking deal.

The setup alone gave X-men 92 #1 a head start. Chad Bowers and Chris Sims didn’t stop there. They built on what they created in the previous series, establishing new threats in Omega Red, Alpha Red, and the Von Struckers. They even did it without turning Charles Xavier into a asshole or making Beast a hypocrite. This series has so much going for it that I actually want to sober up so I don’t miss anything. And any comic that makes a guy like me want to sober up is pretty damn special.

Final Score: 10 out of 10

Friday, March 25, 2016

Apocalyptic Catalyst: Extraordinary X-men #8

The following is my review of Extraordinary X-men #8, which was posted on

We’ve all had times in our lives where we wish we had a time machine, a fast-forward button, or a mute button. Experiences like divorce, tax audits, and puberty often remind us that time is quite merciless when it comes to revealing our fate. The X-men understand this better than most. While the timeline might be more flexible in the Marvel universe, it tends to be double-decker highway where nearly every exit leads to yet another apocalyptic future.

The argument could be made that the present time in Extraordinary X-men qualifies as an apocalyptic future and it doesn’t take a strong legal team to prove it. As it stands, the X-men have been exiled from their own world, forced to relocate to the demon-infested realm of Limbo. Sadly enough, Limbo is safer for mutants than the current Marvel Universe thanks to the influence of the Inhumans, the Terrigen Mists, and Fox’s army of lawyers. On top of that, mutants have been sterilized yet again. This comes shortly after the X-men fought so hard to kick-start the growth of their species again. So not only is the present time somewhat apocalyptic, it’s downright regressive.

This is the situation the X-men find themselves in as Apocalypse Wars unfolds, beginning with Extraordinary X-men #8. Jeff Lemire spent the first couple arcs assembling a team of X-men who have to navigate this semi-apocalyptic present in hopes of avoiding a fully-apocalyptic future. Fittingly enough, and not just because it coincides with a movie, Apocalypse himself becomes involved in this struggle. It’s a struggle that will involve more time travel and timeline tampering, but so long as it doesn’t involve clones or cosmic forces, there’s still a chance it can be coherent to an acceptable degree.

The story, as a whole, manages to avoid getting overly convoluted. Jeff Lemire keeps things simple and concise in igniting the conflict that instigates Apocalypse Wars. He utilizes familiar characters who have a history with Apocalypse, namely Sugar Man. He builds on the dynamics between characters established in previous arcs, namely those among Colossus and a few young, D-list caliber X-men. All the right ingredients are there. The final product just feels undercooked.

The strength of Extraordinary X-men as a whole is built around character drama during times of crisis. From a purely logistical standpoint, the crisis for the X-men couldn’t get much worse. Any crisis where a demon-infested realm is considered a safe haven is a special category of bad. Beyond the logistics, however, the crisis helps bring out sentiment within certain characters that probably wouldn’t arise if mutants, humans, and Inhumans were holding hands and singing U2 songs.

In this case, it’s Storm whose sentiment helps convey the emotional undertone of Apocalypse Wars. She’s the reluctant leader of the X-men now with Charles Xavier, Wolverine, and Cyclops dead. Being a reluctant leader, she laments about the future of mutants in a world where Inhumans get to cut to the front of the line at Disney World and mutants are kicked out for light coughing. She’s not focused or determined like Cyclops. She’s not a wise visionary like Charles Xavier. She’s very much conflicted about how and where she’s leading the X-men. It brings out the best in Storm, but also reflects just how bad it has gotten for the X-men as a whole.

Storm’s emotional undertones quickly give way to the main conflict in Extraordinary X-men #8. At first, it doesn’t seem all that apocalyptic. It involves Sugar Man, a nightmarish version of Pac Man who has never been more than visual or physical inconvenience to the X-men. However, Hamberto Ramos manages to make this conflict feel exciting beyond the typical formula of apocalyptic trash talk mixed with flashy backdrops.

What helps gives this clash a few extra dimensions of intrigue is the cast that gets involved. Storm and the heavy hitters of the X-men eventually do show up, but it’s the team of D-list rookies that include Anole, No Girl, Ernst, and Glob Herman that get to throw the first punch. They went on this mission not expecting to deal with Sugar Man, time machines, or apocalyptic futures. If they’re going to be more than rookies in the X-men, then it’s something they better get used to quickly.

They don’t get much time to adapt because the time travel elements soon enter the story. This is where things start to get apocalyptic with Extraordinary X-men #8. The details are minor and a bit rushed, but the presence of these young, inexperienced X-men creates different stakes that can’t easily be matched in an Inhumans comic.

These younger X-men figuratively, and quite literally as the story unfolds, have to gain the kind of experience that equips them to take on threats like Apocalypse. They don’t get a chance to show that experience, but they at least promise to help rather than obstruct their elder X-men, which would be a novelty for X-men comics of the past few years.

It used to be a primary theme, taking younger mutants and molding them into X-men. That theme fell to the wayside once time travel and sterilization plots got involved. Having D-list X-men work their way up to the C-list gives Apocalypse Wars a welcome dynamic. They don’t get to cut off Sugar Man’s tongue like Old Man Logan, but they hint that they’re not that far off from having that honor.

The structure of the story in Extraordinary X-men #8 is functional and concise. However, it still suffers from a lack of refinement, which has plagued the series since it began. The plot feels rushed and lacking in detail. There’s no major revelation or insight that gives added weight to the story. In terms of impact, it’s downright monotone. It’s like trying to get excited for vanilla ice cream with no toppings. It’s palatable, but not all that savory.

These shortcomings don’t derail Apocalypse Wars. Extraordinary X-men #8 isn’t meant to deliver the knock-out punch for this event. It’s just meant to get the story to strap on the gloves and get in a few light jabs. The fact it can land some of those jabs in yet another story about time travel and dystopian futures is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

X-men Supreme Issue 133: Natural Disorder Part 2 PREVIEW!

There’s an unwritten rule with X-men that often plays out in the comics, cartoons, or movies. Whenever the mutant race takes one step forward, it two violent shoves in the opposite direction. It’s like an unbalanced version of Newton’s law. We’ve seen it play out in the X-men comics recently. Finally, the X-men undid the effects of M-Day and were no longer going extinct. Then, the Terrigen Mist comes along and renders mutants sterile again. On top of that, major characters like Cyclops, Wolverine, and Charles Xavier lay dead. While it hasn’t gotten that bad in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, I like to think this law has been properly applied.

When a catastrophe in the Uprising arc in X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution was averted, it only laid the foundation for a much larger catastrophe in the Overlord arc in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. The Cambrian Explosion arc that took place in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear was certainly a catastrophe in its own right. However, it only ended up setting the stage for the emerging cataclysm unfolding in the Natural Disorder arc.

The ancient entity known as the Cambrian tried to use Magneto to reshape the world. It failed thanks to the X-men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. But it’s getting another chance through Toad and the Mutant Liberation Front. After undergoing a radical transformation in X-men Supreme Issue 110: Supreme Justice, Toad is more powerful than he’s ever been, in X-men Supreme or any other X-men medium for that matter. He’s armed with the power, vision, and cunning of an ancient force. Now, he’s preparing to finish what the Cambrian started.

The stakes couldn’t be higher and the circumstances couldn’t be more dire. The X-men are without their mentor, Charles Xavier, and have to rely on difficult decisions from Storm, Beast, and Cyclops. President Robert Kelly is no longer relying on General Grimshaw to handle mutant affairs, favoring the more militant approach of Henry Gyrich’s GRSO Unit. And with the influence of the Mutant Liberation Front undermining stability on Genosha, the Scarlet Witch sees her fragile authority faltering. This is the situation that’s unfolding in Natural Disorder and it’s about to get even worse.

The X-men are behind the curve, but not by much. They already know that someone is after Madison Jefferies, a mutant who Gyrich’s GRSO Unit tried to arrest before he fled. The X-men have reason to believe that he’s being tracked by the Mutant Liberation Front and Wolverine is now hot on his trail. What will they find? What sort of conflict will Madison Jefferies lead them to? The catalyst for the next clash between the X-men and the Mutant Liberation Front is about to unfold. As always, I’ve prepared a preview for this clash.

“Hnn…it hurts!” groaned Polaris through the swirling rings.

“You said she would stay unconscious, Toad!” said Avalanche, who was watching as well.

“You sound worried, Lance,” said the amphibious mutant, “Since when do you give a damn about how your friends’ discomfort?”

“Since I betrayed them and put a big ass target on my back!” he responded.

“Ah, you’re back will be fine. You still did the right thing!” said Toad, “Besides, what’s a little discomfort to a new era of prosperity for all mutant-kind?”

Toad sounded pretty confident, but Avalanche didn’t share that confidence. Watching Polaris struggle was giving him all sorts of bad feelings. This was the same machine that left Magneto so weak and damaged. If it did the same to Polaris, then being a traitor to the Brotherhood would be the least of his problems.

Avalanche was relegated to a spectator role while the rest of the Mutant Liberation Front did the heavy lifting. Negasonic Teenage Warhead continued probing Madison Jefferies’s mind with her telepathy. By now he was weakened to the point where he could barely stand. The Kleinstocks held him upright, making sure he stayed in place. Gateway stayed close in case he tried to flee. He was going to help them see this through no matter how much it disgusted him.

As the young psychic extracted the information, she telepathically sent it to Callisto, Caliban, Strobe, and Kamikaze. They were the ones operating the controls they set up about 100 feet from the device. At the heart of these controls was the head of Danger, which contained all the programs they required. As these programs were running, a team that included Sauron, Stryfe, and Reignfire did their part by connecting various cables throughout the deck of the ship. These cables tapped right into the power-grid, which was already showing signs of strain.

In the distance the lights over the vast cityscape flickered. Some areas of New Orleans had already gone dark. It was sure to attract attention, but that didn’t bother Toad in the slightest. He wanted the world to witness Mutant Liberation Front’s ultimate triumph.

“How we doing for power, Sauron?” asked Toad, not taking his eyes off Polaris.

“We’re at 35 percent,” announced Sauron as he flew over with some heavy cables in hand, “At this rate, we should be good to go in fifteen minutes.”

“According to this creepy head, the girl’s magnetic powers should start reinforcing itself at that point,” announced Kamikaze, “From there, it should enough energy for an electromagnetic pulse on a planetary scale.”

“Should make for some awesome fireworks!” said Reignfire as he flew over with Sauron.

“Assuming there are no setbacks,” Stryfe pointed out, who was attaching some cables to the ship’s main conduits.

“You assume too little, Stryfe,” scoffed Callisto as she worked with Caliban on the console, “Vertigo and Arclight are keeping the authorities busy. The X-men are probably just figuring out how screwed they are. By the time anyone gets here, it’ll be too late!”

The Mutant Liberation Front had many reasons to be confident. They had outsmarted everyone to this point. There was no reason to suspect that anyone had the jump on them. Stryfe still had his share of concerns, but he didn’t get a chance to voice them.

While the Mutant Liberation Front was focused on the device, a loud burst of thunder echoed from above. Toad and his teammates looked up to see a large storm cloud forming overhead and from it, the familiar figures of the X-men emerged. They all few in under the cover of Storm’s clouds while Phoenix carried Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Gambit, Psylocke, Shadowcat, and Colossus towards the ship.

“Toad!” shouted Cyclops, “Your luck is about to run out!”

“And you playin’ with house money now that you in Remy’s home town!” added Gambit.

As the X-men descended towards them, Stryfe looked towards Callisto smugly.

“What was that you said about it being too late?” he asked her.

“Shut up, Stryfe!” barked Callisto as she shot up from the console.

“Kiss and make up, you two,” ordered Toad with newfound seriousness, “They’re early, but this doesn’t change anything. Just protect the device and buy us some time!”

“I may be able to help with that,” grinned Negasonic Teenage Warhead, “Madison here knows of a little fail-safe that Forge never used. Everybody get clear!”

The young psychic transmitted a new protocol to Kamikaze, who quickly ran it using Danger. As soon as it started running, the control panels lit up with activity. He, Callisto, Caliban, and Strobe ran away from the computer array as fast as they could. Toad and Avalanche stepped away as well. They then joined Gateway, the Kleinstocks, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Once they were clear, a burst of light erupted from the device.

The X-men landed on the deck of the ship just in time to the fail-safe activate. From the glowing rings that surrounded the device, a blue dome of energy formed around it. It grew from where Polaris was restrained and soon encompassing both the device and the controls, creating a powerful glowing barrier that would prevent anyone from tampering with the mechanisms. It allowed the Mutant Liberation Front to take on the X-men while the machine remained protected.

“Well that’s a major inconvenience!” said Shadowcat.

“Wait…that’s Lorna in there!” exclaimed Iceman, “What’s going on?! Is that gizmo what I think it is?!”

“It appears to be exactly that, Iceman,” said Beast, “The Mutant Liberation Front has remade the same device that Magneto used to amplify his powers.”

“Why on Earth would they want to do that again?” wondered Storm.

“You guys want to play 20 questions? Or do you want to beat the answers out of these blokes!” said Psylocke as she formed two psionic blades.

“I choose the beating,” said Colossus, now in his metal skin, “I am wanting a rematch with these scoundrels.”

“You and me both, Peter!” said Phoenix.

I try to follow a certain branch of the unwritten rules surrounding the X-men. I think some of those rules are vital to ensure that the core of X-men is retained and not misconstrued, as has happened in the comics and movies at times. I want the X-men Supreme fanfiction series to remain true to the X-men mythos for every type of X-men fan. As such, it’s vital that I continue to receive feedback for this fanfiction series. Please contact me directly or place your comments directly in the issues. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Uncanny X-men #5: Nuff Said!

Admit it. The bigger a problem is, the more we’re willing to tolerate assholes. We’ll willingly temper our standards and our sense of decency if we think it’ll solve a problem and/or speed up our internet connection, whichever comes first. That’s the where the mutant race is at this point. They’re more fucked than a ten dollar whore in Tijuana during a free crack giveaway. And the Inhumans are off sitting on a beach, getting blown by clones of Pamela Anderson paid for by Disney dividends. So yeah, you’d accept Magneto’s help too if you were in that position.

Right now, Magneto and his team of asshole X-men are trying to stop the Dark Riders, who are in the process of giving the Inhumans an extra blowjob by taking out mutant healers so they can die off even quicker. Cullen Bunn has used little ambiguity in setting up who we want to root for. Uncanny X-men #5 sets very clear boundaries. It won’t prevent more Inhuman blowjobs, but it’ll show that X-men can get shit done and they are willing to be assholes.

Now when you’ve been buried in an ancient tomb and tricked by a pack of mutant-murdering bandits, you don’t have to be an asshole to escape. You just have to have a fuckton of power in your fists. That’s what Monet has and that’s what she uses to get her team out of the tomb that the Dark Riders trapped them in.

Why did they think it was a good idea to piss of a team of X-men willing to be assholes? Well there is some merit to it. They needed part of that team distracted so they could go after Triage on Genosha. It makes some sense, misdirecting the bulk of the team. And some should be enough to kill a mutant who has barely been around longer than Bernie Sanders’ presidential bed, right?

In some circumstances, that might be the case. In circumstances when Magneto is the one protecting Triage, I say fuck no. The Dark Riders gambled that they could go through Magneto if they separated him from his team. Somewhere along the line, they forgot that he’s still fucking Magneto. They might have been better off playing Power Ball.

It makes for the kind of brutal fight we’ve come to know and love from Magneto. They try shooting him. He fights back as only he can. The Dark Rider’s do manage to wound Triage. Granted that wound involves getting stabbed in the chest, but for X-men and healers that barely qualifies as a hangnail. Magneto doesn’t give them a chance to stab Triage the other billion times that would be necessary, using all the metal in the ruins of Genosha to his advantage.

That’s right. They actually thought they could beat Magneto after giving him home field advantage. That’s not a gamble. That’s just fucking stupid. Even lotteries wouldn’t create a game with odds like that.

This gamble goes against the Dark Riders pretty damn quickly and, thanks to Greg Land, it’s quite a sight to behold. Magneto holds off long enough for his team to arrive and join them. It’s at this point they realize they should probably never take a trip to Vegas. They even find out that Magneto stacked the deck by uncovering the metal bug they tried to stick on him so they could track Triage. Maybe next time they could play strip poker with Emma Frost. That might give them better odds. For this, they’re not just broke. They’re fucked.

Once the rest of Magneto’s team enters the picture, the battle ends quickly and brutally, as it probably should. Remember, these are X-men who aren’t afraid to be assholes. That means they’re not going to try and play nice, hoping for a peaceful resolution. They’re going to go right for the jugular, bathe in the blood of their enemies, and make at least some effort to hide their rage boners. I can only imagine they’ll all need new underwear after Arcangel fucking disembowels one of the Dark Riders while Sabretooth rips the limbs off another. For humiliating and maiming the Dark Riders, I’d say this is worth an extra load of laundry.

While this battle is brief and brutal, it nicely embodies everything that’s awesome about this team of X-men. Rather than drama, they opt for a more brutal, direct approach to dealing with how fucked the mutant race is. If the Marvel Universe hadn’t become one big Inhumans love fest, that approach might be problematic. But in an era where Inhumans get TV shows and X-men get Brett fucking Ratner, it feels appropriate.

Being so appropriate, it’s only natural that Magneto throws a little something extra into the X-men’s brutal tactics. After he subdues the Dark Riders, he gives them a little speech to remind them that their perceived superiority is no more valid than the Super Bowl aspirations of Cleveland Browns fans. It’s a fitting speech that only an asshole X-man could give. Then, as a final fuck you, he decides to blow up the entire fucking island of Genosha behind him. He’s Magneto. Asshole or not, he knows the value of overkill.

It’s a moment with some light dramatic weight. Genosha was once Magneto’s crown jewel, an all-mutant nation that came at a time before Cyclops started banging Emma Frost. He tried time and again to make it a mutant haven. Every time, either by killer robots or telepathic Nazis, it got fucked up. So what’s the best way to remove failure from the equation? Blow it the fuck up. It’s a tactic that I think pyromaniacs and Mythbusters fans can appreciate.

So Genosha is gone. Triage and many other mutant healers are safe. So what does this mean for him? Well, it means he now has a first class ticket to the Jean Grey Institute in X-Haven. He goes from a world where Inhuman farts are maiming mutants to a school in a demon-infested realm. It’s insane how that shit counts as an upgrade for the mutant race these days.

It still leads to a nice greeting from Storm. It also marks the first time that the teams from Uncanny X-men and Extraordinary X-men have interacted. With an event like Apocalypse Wars on the horizon, this is an important and meaningful interaction. There are even a few hugs between Storm and Psylocke. It’s nothing that’s overly easy to jerk off too, but Greg Land’s art ensures it’s easy enough.

Since Secret Wars, all the X-books have been so disconnected and disorganized. A time-skip and a bullshit war with the Inhumans that happened entirely off-panel will do that. Reconnecting the X-men and showing that they’re still a coordinated force creates potential and not just for more hugs. While Storm is happy to see Psylocke and Monet, there’s plenty of tension and none of it is sexual. She’s not at all comfortable with them following Magneto’s asshole version of X-men. However, they make it clear that this approach is working for them. Just ask what’s left of the Dark Riders.

Once the team drops Triage off, they make their way to a new base. Since they blew up their last one and the world still reeks of Inhuman farts, they decide to set up shop in the Savage Land. And since I consider dinosaurs less dangerous than demons, I think actually a bigger upgrade. Magneto calls it War Room X. It’s shaped like an erect nipple, but being in the Savage Land and away from the Inhuman farts, I still say it’s an upgrade. I imagine that if Magneto brought a date to this place, she would be much more inclined to drop her panties if she saw live dinosaurs instead of demons.

The rest of the team is certainly comfortable with their new digs. No Inhuman farts or demons are in sight. It might as well be the fucking Ritz. This doesn’t stop Psylcoke from having a quick chat with Magneto. She’s the only one who still has some reservations about Magneto’s methods, but she sure as shit isn’t going to spend time listening to other X-men bitch about Cyclops from a demon-infested realm. It still makes for a meaningful conversation where Psylocke encourages Magneto to treat this team more like real X-men and not another version of the Brotherhood. Knowing the Brotherhood gave him the likes of Toad and Blob, it’s probably good advice to follow.

So the issue of the Dark Riders, mutant healers, and getting a non-demon base has been resolved for the X-men. That leaves one other issue to resolve, one that has been poorly addressed over the past couple of issues. This one involves Fantomex and Mystique, one character we love to hate and another we love to hate-fuck. They’re still investigating the Someday Corporation that was tricking mutants into sleeping through the current Inhuman orgy. They’ve done pretty much dick to move that plot forward other than agree to work together instead of killing/fucking each other, whichever comes first. But considering the many other plot holes surrounding the X-men since Secret Wars, it’s hardly the most egregious.

This plot finally takes a meaningful turn when Magneto decides that maiming the Dark Riders just wasn’t enough for him. He’s still got a rage-boner and if he’s going to use it, why not use it in a situation that involves Mystique? Not gonna lie. I’d probably do the same thing. He stops them just as they’re discussing the disturbing implications of Someday, as if Mystique and Fantomex are objective when it comes to disturbing shit. It’s probably for the best. Magneto is an asshole. These two are also assholes who occasionally screw non-assholes to enhance their assholery. Imagine the kinds of assholes they’ll be if they work together? it awesome?

That depends. Do you consider the Dark Riders getting their asses kicked awesome? Or are your standards just wholly unreasonable? If so, then go back to whining about how taxes are too high for rich people and pining for the days of Reagan. The more reasonable among us can accept Uncanny X-men #5 for what it is, an awesome demonstration on just how effective Magneto is at channeling his asshole tendencies into something productive. If only more people could follow his example. Maybe we’d have less Justin Beibers in the world.

Beyond the Dark Riders getting their asses kicked and/or maimed, this issue built up more intrigue. It nicely pushed the story forward, albeit at a slower pace than before. While it was nice to see it link up with Extraordinary X-men, some parts of the story dragged more than others. There were still plenty of great moments along the way, fleshing out certain characters while dropping hints about others. Plus, ditching Genosha was way fucking overdue. Pretty sure that concept died with Brett Ratner’s directing career. Shit may suck for the X-men right now, but at least Cullen Bunn is moving shit forward in Uncanny X-men. For that, even unreasonable assholes have to admit this is pretty awesome.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Monday, March 21, 2016

Possible X-men: Apocalypse SPOILERS!

I don’t normally do this, but I felt like I had to make a big fucking exception for this. First of all, I know this is going to rub a certain set of people the wrong way. To those people I say, go back to 1996. This is 2016. The internet is here and it’s here to stay. That means shit is going to be spoiled. Movies, TV shows, video games...all of it will be spoiled. If you like spoilers, stay off the internet. For some people, that’s just too fucking hard and too fucking bad.

That said, here’s the deal. Some major spoilers may or may not have leaked for X-men Apocalypse. It’s still a little more than two months before the release. That means someone is blowing someone else to get info on screenings, scripts, etc. Someone’s jaw must be sore because someone on the internet toilet/treasure trove known as 4chan has posted what appears to be a full run-down of the events of X-men Apocalypse.

Now full disclosure here. I have no fucking clue as to how valid this is. It may be an elaborate act of trolling. It might be someone who just happened to blow the right person at Fox. But since I’m in the business of sharing juicy details with X-men fans, here it is, courtesy of some help from the fine folks at the CBR message boards.























Begins with "2001"-esque imagery of the birth of humanity with a narration by Xavier on the different approaches of science and religion to evolution, and how sometimes they can become one and the same, as we see a caveman become possessed by Apocalypse.

Cut to ancient Egypt. Apocalypse is in an old, withered body, as his followers wait outside his temple, chanting his name and praying for his ressurrection. The Four Horsemen, hooded figure with techno-stone suits, bring a man (Oscar Isaac) into the chamber. The priestress slashes the man’s neck, but he recovers. He’s a mutant with Wolverine-tier healing. He’s one of the followers.

The man is loaded into a tablet, Apocalypse in other, and Apocalypse transfers his consciousness into the mutant’s body, rendering him blue. As he celebrates, he is betrayed by his Horsemen, who seal him away in a tomb and bury it in a deep chamber within the pyramid. The horsemen then appear before the followers and claim En Sabah Nur is dead.

Cut to 1989, as archaeologists are excavating the tomb of En Sabah Nur, the "forgotten pharaoh", they find the chamber where he’s entombed. One of the archaeologists reads an inscription they’ve pieced together from their research and manage to open the tomb, through which Apocalypse emerges and feeds off of their life force to regain a semblance of his strength.

Apocalypse stumbles into modern day Cairo and is disgusted by what his kingdom has been reduced to. As he walks around, covered in a cloak, and happens upon Storm, a street urchin and pickpocket, when she creates a gust of wind to distract some passerbyes so she can snag and dash. Apocalypse follows her into a flophouse where she’s holed up and finds her going through the meager gains of the day. Storm is weak, barely able to conjure lighting, which Apocalypse dodges. He then uncloaks, revealing himself to her, caresses her face, and calls her "my child". Her hair begins to turn white.

This segues into a montage of war, destruction and chaos, which turns out to be a nightmare from Jean Grey. She’s a student at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, which is now a public institution. Jean wakes up, Xavier is by her bedside and comforts her. She tells him she saw the end of the world, but Xavier reassures her it was just a dream. They walk around the mansion, discussing their powers and how Jean came into becoming Xavier’s first student. Xavier says he had nearly lost hope, but Mystique taught him there was a better future worth fighting for, and Jean, to him, symbolizes that hope for tomorrow. Mystique, I should add, is kind of a mutant hero for saving the President. Jubilee is another student at the mansion and Jean’s roommate.

Cut to Russia. Storm, now powerful as fuck, approaches Caliban, a broker who provides mutant mercenaries for stuff like assassinations, sabotage and shit. Apocalypse arrives and demands someone strong and merciless. In comes Psylocke, who quickly sneaks upon Storm with her sword, and upon being disarmed, pulls out her psi-blade. They have a brief girl fight before Apocalypse stops and recruits her to be the second Horseman.

We then meet Scott Summers, who is brought into the Xavier School by his estranged older brother Alex Summers. Scott doesn’t want to be there and is a douche to Alex, Xavier, Jubilee and Hank McCoy, but gets interested in Jean and agrees to stay for a weekend. Hank is not particularly thrilled with Scott, since he’s all like "I’m superior to everyone", which reminds him of Magneto. Xavier says there is no more Magneto.

Cut to Erik Lensherr living in a small village in Poland with a wife and small daughter. He’s still wanted by the government and went off the grid, and the townspeople don’t know he has powers. He works at the local steel mill and leads a generally happy life. Apocalypse, Storm and Psylocke show up at the factor and Apocalypse disables everyone so he can try to bring Erik to his side, but Erik refuses, and even uses his magnetism to fend Storm and Psylocke off. Apocalypse leaves with a cryptic warning that his fa├žade won’t last, and we see he left one worker awake to witness the whole exchange, including Erik using his powers.

Cut to Mystique in Germany, intercepting a truck transporting young mutants to an underground fight club where they’re forced to fight for high rollers. She is then intercepted by a military group led by William Stryker, who has become obsessed with capturing her since she let Wolverine go before Stryker could get to him, and because she changed public perception of mutants for the better. Mystique beats up his men and escapes.

At the fight club, we see Angel being pitted against Nightcrawler, who wins. The crowd wants Nightcrawler to finish Angel off, but Nightcrawler refuses. The club owner then decides to have them both executed nevertheless, but Apocalypse and his followers arrive and kill the bodyguards. Nightcrawler teleports away, while Angel pleads allegiance to Apocalypse and becomes Archangel and proceeds to slaughter the high rollers as a terrified Nightcrawler watches from afar.

At the X-Mansion, Scott makes an ass of himself during a class taught by Xavier and gets into a fight with Jean. She thinks he’s a douchebag, he thinks she’s a nerd and a teacher’s pet. It’s supposed to be cute, but honestly it just feels awkward.

Back to Poland, as Erik leaves for work (his wife’s name is Magda and the daughter is named Anya, for whoever asked). Erik arrives at the plant and slowly notices the men lining up around him, led by the guy that saw he’s a mutant. They jump him and hit him with a tire iron, knocking him out.

When Erik comes to, he’s tied up in front of his home, as the townspeople drag his wife and daughter out as they plead for help. He’s too weak from the blow on his head, and just pleads mercy, but the townspeople tie them to poles and aim arrows at them. Erik yells for them not to. They set his house on fire, accuse Erik of being a monster and an aberrator, and kill the wife and daughter via firing squad. It’s tense as fuck, almost R-rating tier, I don’t even know if that shit will be allowed in the PG-13 cut.

Erik is next on the execution. The townspeople intend to burn him at stake, but he begins crying and yelling and suddenly everything metal goes crazy. Erik then kills the lynch mob with their own metal belongings, like the prom scene from Carrie, but once again lets his accuser live to go and tell the tale. He then pulls his wife and daughter’s mangled corpses from the poles, slowly fixes their hair and clothes and gives them a funeral pyre, while sharing them a story from his childhood he had earlier promised the little girl he’d tell. Xavier senses his pain from afar and dread overcomes him.

Mystique arrives at the fight club and finds the massacrated bodies of the locals, with Nightcrawler staying behind to pray for each of their souls, as an act of forgiveness for what they put him through. She asks him what happened, and he relays his brief encounter with Apocalypse. Mystique then decides to take him back to the Xavier mansion.

Back in the town, it’s now deserted. Everyone has fled. Erik is alone in the steel mill, mourning his death, when Apocalypse returns. Erik accuses him of ruining his life, but Apocalypse spews out some sick logic of merely pulling a thread that would unravel sooner or later, and inflict pain upon Erik now that he can grow stronger from it rather than later when it would just consume him. Apocalypse then convinces Erik to become the final Horseman, and enhances his powers, allowing Erik to level the entire town.

Mystique and Nightcrawler arrive at the X-Mansion, and Nightcrawler gets to know Jean and Jubilee, while the other students are afraid of him. Cyclops is a dick to Nightcrawler, which Beast remarks reminds him of how Havok was a dick to him. Mystique and Xavier reunite, and Mystique tells Xavier about Apocalypse. Xavier finds it suspicious, and decides to visit Moira McTaggert over at the CIA with Alex since she’s become an expert in mutant phenomena. Cyclops, that edgy rebel, rallies Jean, Nightcrawler and Jubilee to go blow some steam off at the mall, where they get into a fight with some local bullies and it’s all kinda’ silly.

At CIA headquarters, Xavier reunites with Moira. She doesn’t remember him because he wiped her mind, but is still attracted to him and respects his contributions for the mutant cause. She gives a basic infodrop on Apocalypse and we find out Stryker is also consulting with the CIA, and trying to get them to approve the Weapon X Program.

Quicksilver arrives at the X-Mansion searching for his father after hearing reports of Magneto destroying Poland and reunites with Beast and Mystique. Meanwhile, Xavier, Moira and Havok return to search for Apocalypse using Cerebro, but Apocalypse instead infects Xavier’s mind, forcing Havok to cut off the connection. Jean senses Xavier’s distress due to a telepathic link they share, and the young mutants return to the X-Mansion just as Apocalypse and the Horsemen attack it to kidnap Xavier and seize control of the Cerebro technology.

The young mutants attempt to intervene and shit goes south HARD, with Archangel killing Jubilee (she had a little bit of a flirt with Nightcrawler). Havok sacrifices himself to hold off the Horsemen while Beast and Mystique lead Moira and the young surviving mutants to the lower levels, but he is killed by Apocalypse, who proceeds to curbstomp the young mutants with his multiple powers. Apocalypse then leaves with the Horsemen and Xavier after Quicksilver manages to extract everyone to a safe location.

Apocalypse leads the Horsemen back to Cairo, where he excavates his pyramic, containing advanced technology including the transfer tablet. He then announces his plans to purge the Earth of the weak and create a better world from its ashes. Storm is uncomfortable when Apocalypse commits a massacre with his powers, to increase hisn own strength. His power, of course, is to transfer his mind to Xavier’s body. While being held captive, Xavier manages to reach out to Storm, who has been persecuted as a "witch" by all her life, and resents the human race for what they done to her because she’s "another innocent’ despite her being innocent and her own person, which Xavier points out she is doing right now. Xavier and Magneto also share a moment, with Xavier claiming Magneto’s grief is blinding him, and Magneto ignoring it. Psylocke and Archangel, though, are just psycho brutes.

The young mutants are scattered. Cyclops particularly takes Havok’s death hard and is comforted by Jean, while Mystique gives Nightcrawler some advice. Quicksilver is disheartened his father is among the Horsemen. Eventually, Mystique decides to pick up the dust and go rescue Xavier and stop Apocalypse. Beast decides to accompany her, and one by one the young mutants agree as well, and Moira decides to join them as well, resigning from the CIA. Meanwhile, Stryker uses Apocalypse’s massacre as proof mutants are dangerous and assembles a task-force codenamed "The Purifiers" to launch an all-out assault on Cairo, with a nuke being the last-ditch measure to prevent Apocalypse from fulfilling his plans.

Apocalypse’s secret weapon is the Horsemen themselves. Although they are not directly referred to as such, they embody the basic aspects of the biblican Horsemen. War (Magneto), Death (Archangel), Famine (Storm) and Plague (Psylocke, I guess?)

The X-Men suit up in prototype battlesuits developed by Beast and head to Cairo to rescue Xavier and battle Apocalypse and the Horsemen. They are intercepted by the Horsemen, who destroy the X-Jet, and crash-land in the derelict ruins ot a town in Cairo, where they battle the Horsemen. The Purifies also arrive, leading to a threeway battle, though the Purifiers are quickly disposed of. During the fight, Jean has a vision of Stryker launching the nuke, which in turns causes other countries to launch nukes as well as destroys the world, with Apocalypse as the sole survivor.

Mystique is taken out by Apocalypse, so Cyclops levels up and rallies the X-Men to fight the Horsemen. Through a combined effort, they take down Archangel (Nightcrawler delivers the final blow) and Psylocke (honor goes to Jean). Cyclops fights Storm while Quicksilver fights Magneto. Magneto can’t bring himself to kill Quicksilver upon learning he’s his father, while Cyclops manages to get through to Storm and she switches side.

When the other Horsemen are taken out, Apocalypse arrives, defeats them almost effortlessly, and begins tearing the world apart. Magneto realizes the error of his ways when he notices a young woman and her daughter, very similar to his own lost family, being vaporized in Apocalypse’s massacre. He turns the tables on Apocalypse and fights him, with Storm joining in, and eventually the other X-Men.

Apocalypse is weakened and retreats to his pyramid to transfer his consciousness to Xavier. He leaves his original body, but Xavier resists him, leading to a psychic battle. Cyclops blasts the pyramid’s defenses open and Jean uses her link to Xavier to help him battle Apocalypse in the astral plane, which also causes her to unlock her full powers.

Meanwhile, Stryker confronts Moira, accusing her of being a race traitor, and orders the launch. Moira alerts Magneto, who stops all the nukes in mid-air and dismantles them like he did in "First Class", but bigger. Nightcrawler saves Archangel from certain death as an act of forgiveness, while Quicksilver rescues Psylocke.

Apocalypse is so weakned by his battle with Xavier and Jean that he tries to return to the original body, but Mystique is impersonating it. Without the rapid healing, Apocalypse remains vulnerable both physically and mentally, and Xavier purges him out of Mystique’s mind, losing all his hair in the process. Apocalypse vanishes, unable to exist without a physical form, and all his followers lose their powers. Pyslocke escapes to go off on her own, while Nightcrawler allows Angel, now in control of his own emotions, to flee.

The X-Men have won, but the government is coming. On Xavier’s behalf, Cyclops destroys Apocalypse’s technology so they can consfiscate it, and they escape.

Back in the X-Mansion, Xavier and Magneto make amends over past mistakes, Mystique and Beast rekindle their relationship, and Mystique decides to stay behind. Cyclops and Jean kiss, Cyclops and Nightcrawler cement themselves as bros, and Magneto decides to leave to find his own place, but assures Xavier he’ll return one day, and "has one thing or two to teach these children". Quicksilver wants to go with him, but Magneto accepts him as a son, tells him he’d be proud to have Quicksilver as a member of the X-Men. Storm is also accepted into the Institute, as Jean’s roommate. As a gesture of kindness, she returns Jubilee’s locket, which she had taken after Jubilee was killed. Jean also displays greater telepathic and telekinetic powers than Xavier has predicted, and we have the tiniest foreshadowing of a Dark Phoenix lurking in the future.

The mutants are blamed for the destruction of Cairo and the full-scale assault on the world. A young politician, Robert Kelly, is amassing followers with his claims of mutant registration. Moira returns to the X-Mansion, having officially resigned from the CIA, and reveals that Stryker’s Weapon X Program has been approved, but she has stolen a copy of the files on Stryker’s first target: Wolverine.

Xavier assembles the X-Men: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler, Quicksilver, Beast and Mystique, and they depart to rescue Wolverine before Stryker gets to him.

Then we have a final stinger that didn’t really make much sense, of a government official of some sort doing cleanup on Cairo. He finds a lone, forgotten piece of Apocalypse’s technology and, upon touching it, his eyes become white, like Apocalypse’s.

So there you have it. This is what we can expect from X-men Apocalypse. Overall, I’m content with the fact that it doesn’t suck. That’s the most I think we can hope for with X-men movies, especially when the competition in Captain America: Civil War and Dawn of Justice will likely blow it the fuck out of the water. But still, an X-men movie that doesn’t fuck up as badly as X3 or Wolverine: Origins gets a seal of approval in my book. Nuff said!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Families, Flashbacks, and Fodder: International Iron Man #1

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

The J. J. Abrams and M. Night Shyamalans of the world have made a comfortable living off shocking revelations. It's an old and, at times, overused tactic to add excitement to a story, but nothing gets overused without it being effective on some levels. Since the big revelation about Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father in Empire Strikes Back, every creator in every medium has been trying to match the impact. To date, most have either failed, come up short, or something in between.

Kieron Gillen came surprisingly close during his run on Iron Man. He crafted a story around the origin of Tony Stark, but not in the sense that it explored how he became Iron Man. There have already been multiple stories and a billion-dollar movie built around that narrative. Instead, Gillen focused on Tony Stark's family and this led to a revelation that would've surprised George Lucas himself.

Tony Stark is not the son of Howard Stark. He was adopted. His entire sense of self and who he is had been shaken. It's a story that has so many ramifications. It would be like Bruce Wayne finding out he's half-Kryptonian. It completely changes the dynamics of Iron Man. However, the full scope of this impact hasn't been fully explored yet. That's what Brian Michael Bendis seeks to change with International Iron Man #1.

The narrative of this series promises to explore the ramifications of Tony's newfound heritage or lack thereof. It's a narrative that is slow and tedious in the beginning, but the payoff at the end creates just the right amount of intrigue and unlike Empire Strikes Back, nobody had to lose a hand. Tony still ended up getting shot, but let's face it. That's hardly the worst outcome of a conflict for him.

That payoff was the product of a story built around an extended flashback. In terms of narrative style, it ranks just above a clip show in a sitcom in terms of gimmicks that are easy to get sick of. However, the flashback in this case does tell an important story from Tony Stark's past. Through that story, Brian Michael Bendis reveals the dynamic Tony had with his adopted parents. That's not to say there were telling hints about his secret heritage, but it certainly gives the impression that there were clues. Why else would a college-aged boy be so eager to meet a cute girl's parents?

The answer to that question doesn't reveal as much as the question itself. Throughout this flashback, a younger, less heroic Tony Stark demonstrates an undeniable distance between him and who he thinks are his birth parents. It's not the kind of distance that just comes with going to college in London either. At one point, a girl that has caught his eye said she was close to her family. For Tony Stark, a kid whose family has enough money to buy their own university and excuse him from every homework assignment, that leaves an undeniable impact.

It sets the tone for the issues that Tony faces in the future. He isn't close with his family and it's not because of the typical problems faced by rich, genius playboys. He's not bitter that his parents paid a nanny to raise him in the tradition of Downton Abbey. He's not bitter that he didn't get the right color Ferrari for his 16th birthday either. There are other factors involved that didn't make sense at the time, but like reading the spoilers for The Sixth Sense, they make sense now.

While these issues help set an appropriate tone, the story itself is less than trilling. However, this is more a matter of pragmatism rather than simply not having enough things for Iron Man to blow up. The flashback through which most of the story is told takes place before Tony Stark became Iron Man. The story doesn't try to put him in a position to blow something up. It's purpose is to put him into a position to confront these issues. That process still involves him getting shot so it's not like it has the monotone of an economics lecture.

This same process is also built around Tony's interest in a woman named Cassandra. It's one of the common themes that, like Iron Man blowing something up, unite Tony's past and present. Being a college-aged student in this flashback, he's easily distracted from his studies and his family issues by a beautiful woman. It might as well be the one unifying factor between rich tech geniuses and poor, immature frat guys. What makes this woman more important than another notch on Tony's many belts is her potential link to Tony's biological parents.

It's a link that isn't revealed until the end. For much of the story, Cassandra comes off as just another rich, privileged woman who has a big target on her back and not in the Kardashian sort of way. Tony, being a fan of danger even before he became Iron Man, is certainly intrigued. However, that intrigue evolves beyond a typical college hook-up when Hydra enters the picture. Not having an Iron Man suit at the time, it offers a telling hint that this woman knows things that cannot be easily Googled.

As intriguing as the premise might be, International Iron Man #1 offers little beyond telling hints and standard intrigue. The story surrounding Tony Stark's biological parents takes a step forward here, but just barely. It's a story that focuses more on characters than shooting Hydra goons in the head and while it has its moments, there's nothing overly memorable to take from it.

More than anything else, International Iron Man #1 is a trailer for a much larger story involving Tony's heritage. While some trailers end up being better than the movies they tease, this one offers more promise than most. It's like the difference between the Deadpool trailer and the trailer for the last Fantastic Four movie. One promises great entertainment value. One promises to ignite outrage on message boards. International Iron Man is still building up its entertainment value, but it shouldn't ignite any message boards just yet.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Thursday, March 17, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX (Mutants Are Fucked)

The second and, presumably, final trailer for X-men Apocalypse came out. After seeing this, all I can say is this movie is going to get its mutant ass kicked by Captain America: Civil War. I love Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, and James McAvoy. I love X-men and will root for them over those who would try to replace them with bullshit Inhumans. But they're just not going to win 2016. Between Justice League, Captain America: Civil War, and a fucking Ninja Turtles movie that has Krang in it, I think I'm not crazy to say that X-men Apocalypse is fucked.

All-New X-men #6: Nuff Said!

What is it about teen drama that makes it so appealing? Is it because we all still have nightmares about how much our teenage lives suck? Or is it more like the zoo where we just watch on in amazement at how such creatures could ever have functioned in the while? It might be a mix of both, but some definitely handle it better than others. And in terms of handling it, O5 Angel might as well be the Cleveland Browns.

There has been plenty of teen drama in Dennis Hopeless’ All-New X-men since it began, but not all of it is the good kind. Most of that not-good-kind comes from O5 Angel, who seems to think that dating X-23 won’t come with a certain amount of violent bloodshed. Apparently, his stomach and his dick just don’t agree anymore and he says he wants to break up. All-New X-men #6 is supposed to determine whether this is just more teen whining or something legitimate. With teenagers, it’s never wise to assume anything, especially when it involves who’s getting into whose pants.

Not all teen drama involves the inside of other peoples’ pants, believe it or not. During this battle, Idie was having a real crisis of faith. Early in her history, she was deeply religious who just loved telling people that they were going to Hell. She was basically a much cuter version of Pat Robertson. But unlike Pat Robertson, she’s shown actual personal and emotional growth since becoming a mutant. She’s still way cuter, both physically and spiritually.

Armed with that spirit, she joins the fight against Blob and unlike Pat Robertson, she doesn’t rely on prayers or donations from gullible people to solve the problem. That alone makes her better than any Christian that claims to support Ted Cruz. Her inner thoughts along with her actions help make the battle feel intense in a way that Mark Bagley’s art can only help.

O5 Iceman gets a chance to do some musing too as he’s helping Idie. Given that he recently came out as gay, it’s probably a good thing that Idie is having a crisis of faith. Anyone who has tried to argue with someone who thinks forcing men to be celibate and listen to people’s raunchy confessions is a good idea understands what I mean.

His thoughts are perfectly appropriate for a teenage kid looking to simplify his life beyond dealing with which body part he finds more attractive. Like X-men fans in general, he just wishes that things could be as simple as blasting ice chunks in Blob’s face. That’s not nearly as dirty or as it sounds. Considering the complications in his life, I can’t say I blame him for feeling like a fight against Blob is easier somehow.

The fight continues to escalate. The X-men’s strategy, as well as Mark Bagley’s artwork, continues to shine. Blob ends up getting his giant ass thrown across town before he can stop on anybody else’s face. It’s an overdue turn in this battle. However, he’s not the only one who starts to get fucked over.

Stop me if this sounds too familiar, but O5 Cyclops gets badly fucked in this part of the fight and not in a way that involves Emma Frost covered in chocolate syrup. He just gets run over by a car while everyone else is going after Blob. In this case, I’m glad that’s not a metaphor. Compared to some of the shit that has been happening to him, and off-panel no less, this might as well be a fucking hangnail.

That hangnail, however, turns into a shit-stained tumor when Toad turns out to be the one driving the car. He hit O5 Cyclops, effectively taking him out of the fight, and he even tossed aside Kid Apocalypse in the process. Yes, Toad beat Apocalypse…a de-aged, underpowered, and immature version of Apocalypse. It’s not saying much, but it’s still way fucking more than Toad has accomplished in the past five decades.

While O5 Cyclops is getting fucked over in a whole new way, the battle against Blob continues and it continues to find new ways of being entertaining. How could any fight where O5 Beast gets his ass kicked not be entertaining? I know I’m not always fair to Beast on this blog, but let’s be honest. He’s lost his right to fairness the moment he ditched the X-men and joined the Inhumans. So damn it, I’m going to enjoy watching O5 Beast get his ass kicked while he muses about how antiquated he feels in the future.

While O5 Beast is getting his ass kicked, X-23 finally heals enough from the beating she took earlier to join the fight. This is where she finally starts to muse on the annoying teen drama that has been built around O5 Angel’s whining. It’s not as eye-rolling as it sounds. It’s hardly the kind of shit that would show up on a 90120 rerun. She’s not exactly bawling that her boyfriend broke up with her. She’s fucking X-23. She doesn’t whine about her problems. She stabs them.

Her musings highlight the biggest problem with her relationship with O5 Angel. It was never really that deep or meaningful. These two never had the kind of chemistry that would make readers feel like baby kittens are nestling in their souls. It was a hormonal teenage fling. That’s all it ever managed to be and every effort to make it more than that failed miserably, thanks to O5 Angel’s whining. In terms of comic book romances, this deserves to be forgotten quicker than that time She-Hulk banged Juggernaut.

With this overdrawn fling behind him, O5 Angel finally lets his balls descend once more and goes to fucking town on Blob. This involves him finally showing off that cosmic power that he hasn’t been doing jack shit with since Black Vortex. He attacks Blob in a colorful, explosive spectacle. Mark Bagley’s artwork makes it beautiful. Dennis Hopeless’ inner dialog makes it meaningful. It’s by far the best moment O5 Angel has had with his pants on to date.

It gets downright brutal. At one point, O5 Angel jams a piece of metal in Blob’s eye. So fling or no fling, X-23 definitely rubbed off on him and not just in ways that gave him a boner. His musings hint that he understands more than X-23 gives him credit for. She thinks he can’t possibly relate to the darkness she feels and the risks she takes. He claims he does and if he knows anything about his future self, then she can’t bust his balls for that. Then again, it’s not like she didn’t have enough unrelated reasons before.

This time, however, nobody can question the solidity of O5 Angel’s balls. He effectively takes out Blob in the middle of downtown Paris with a cosmic show that France has never had outside shitty History Channel documentaries on World War II. It’s a beautiful culmination to a battle that could’ve been overly simplified. But Hopeless and Bagley drew it out in the best possible way. They made sure we had plenty of reasons to root against Blob when he stomped all over X-23’s face. Then, they had O5 Angel of all people kick his ass. It couldn’t be more appropriate without Eric Cartman showing up to call Blob a total fat ass.

The end of the battle leads to a brief, but telling moment between X-23 and O5 Angel. No, they don’t start making out on top of Blob’s unconscious body. Even teenage hormones have their limits. They don’t get back together either. There’s some awkwardness, but it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll become the kind of jealous ex-lovers that drive pickup trucks into their bedroom. I’d still sleep in a pair of adamantium boxers if I were O5 Angel, just in case.

There’s one more, less dramatic moment between O5 Iceman and Idie. Whereas Mark Bagley has shined for the most part in this series, it’s Dennis Hopeless who really shines here. He has them share a nice conversation about Idie’s faith and the conflicts she’s feeling. She claims she’s still very Catholic, but only to the extent that Lady Gaga is still Catholic. It’s an ongoing inner struggle and one that promises future intrigue, especially as more apocalyptic plots unfold. The fact she’s gone this long without telling O5 Iceman that he’s going to Hell counts as progress.

So Blob is defeated, X-23 and O5 Angel broke up, and everyone’s soul is still intact for the most part. That alone makes for a productive day by X-men standards. However, there’s still the matter of O5 Cyclops still getting screwed over. Kid Apocalypse catches up with the others just in time to tell them that Toad abducted him. That shows he’s a long ways away from being worthy of Oscar Isaac’s voice. But for O5 Cyclops, his day is now totally fucked because Toad now has him tied up in ways that even Emma Frost never tried. However, at this point I imagine he and everyone else in the multiverse is done being shocked whenever any version of Cyclops gets screwed over. it awesome?

Well it finally ditched most of the teen drama and opted for kicking Blob’s oversized ass. So yeah, it’s awesome in a way that you’ll never get on the CW, that’s for sure. This issue had a lot of inner musings and meaningful chats, but it was all built around a simple battle between the X-men and Blob. At a time when every X-men story has been horribly corrupted by massive Inhuman farts and agendas dictated by Disney’s legal team, this was like a breath of fresh air and a cold beer.

On top of that, O5 Angel finally stopped being a pussy! All-New X-men #6 definitely deserves bonus points for that. He actually got to show off some of that cosmic power he took on in Black Vortex. It took way too fucking long, but he finally showed he can be more than the guy who keeps X-23’s panties warm. Considering what often happens to anyone involved with anyone who has adamantium claws in the Marvel universe, that’s probably a good thing for everyone.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Extraordinary X-men #8: Nuff Said!

Don’t lie. There are times in your life where you wish you had a time machine, a fast-forward button, or even a mute button. Who among us doesn’t wish they could’ve skipped through most of high school with their soul intact? Well, it’s not a longing fantasy for the X-men. They’ve been involved in so much time travel bullshit that they probably have their own support group, complete with PSA announcements.

Time Travel has almost never worked out for the X-men, but it was vital in undoing X3 from the movies so it’s not without merit. Now, with Apocalypse Wars starting in Extraordinary X-men #8, the X-men are willing to gamble that fucking with the time stream will help them unfuck themselves. Short of going back in time and mind-fucking every lawyer Fox ever employed, the chances are slim at best.

And who has the unenviable task of playing these shitty odds? It’s Storm. At the very least, if the odds kick her ass, she’s able to lose with grace and sex appeal. Ask Hallie Berry about how important that is. She’s still musing over how fucked the mutant race is and how she’s trying to keep the school going, despite being stuck in Limbo. She worries that mutants will go down in history as a rectal wart on humanity while the Inhumans will go down as an extra breast. It’s not an unreasonable concern.

Old Man Logan shows up to help share those concerns. It leads to a moment with all sorts of wonderful feels, and not just the kind you feel in your pants. It’s the first time Old Man Logan dares to get a little closer to his new teammates, which is saying something since he fucking killed these same teammates in his world. But the moment has with Storm is so sweet and not just because it’s dripping with romantic and sexual tension. Yeah, Old Man Logan is an old fart, but he’s an old fart with a functioning dick.

It’s one of the few times this series actually makes a relevant connection to the X-men comics that came before the entire mutant race was fucked over off-panel. Storm and Wolverine were romantically involved before Wolverine’s death. Now here she is, facing a non-clone version of the man she loved. It’s a powerful moment, at least until Forge comes in to cock-block Old Man Logan. I’m pretty sure he can expect to be missing a nut if this becomes a trend.

Cock blocking aside, Forge does have important news to share. He reveals that Cerebra detected about 600 fresh mutant signatures. In a world where the giant Inhuman fart known as the Terrigen Mist is killing their kind, this is pretty fucking important. They don’t know how it’s happening. They don’t know if it’s some Inhuman prank done in obscenely poor taste, but it’s something they need to investigate. And since the odds are already shitty enough, Storm decides to send some of the younger mutants with the team.

Now on the surface, this sounds like one of those moves that Peter Parker would make when a clone of Gwen Stacy is flashing him her tits. But keep in mind, the X-men are stretched thin and low on manpower. They can’t exactly have students wasting time learning advanced math and 18th century French poetry. They need to get off their asses and fucking contribute, which will already put them above 90 percent of the college students I’ve known.

The team that ends up investigating consists of Colossus, Glob Herman, Anole, Ernst, and No Girl. They’re basically a scout team with a first stringer whose only role is to stop them from fucking up too bad. It’s not as good a role as being Domino’s personal gigolo, but I’m sure Colossus will take it.

They arrive in Tokyo where mutants and giant robots aren’t even the 10th weirdest thing people see on a daily basis, nor is it the most inconvenient. Anyone who has been on a Tokyo subway can confirm this. So there are no riots or pitchforks to worry about. They can just focus on finding the source of the new mutants.

So what will they find? Will it be a warehouse of 600 mutant underwear models whose powers force them to stay naked? Sorry, but like I said, the odds the X-men are dealing with are totally fucked. They end up finding Sugar Man hiding out in some Japanese wharf. And anyone who knows Sugar Man, also known as butt-ugly version of Pac Man, knows that he’s usually the first warning that Apocalypse is about to fuck shit up.

It’s not exactly a meth-fueled Magneto so I’d say he’s still a reasonable threat for the young X-men to take on. It leads to some decent action that involves Sugar Man getting attacked by Colossus and a Sentinel. It’s not exactly an epic brawl that will teach these young X-men valuable lessons in ass-kicking. Remember, Sugar Man is the preseason. Apocalypse is the fucking Super Bowl.

Even if he is a nightmare version of Pac Man, Sugar Man does reveal he’s fighting for something important. He managed to isolate 600 mutant embryos in isolation from the big Inhuman farts plaguing the world. So that explains the mutant signatures and why he’s being uglier than usual in protecting them. It’s probably the best thing he could’ve done for mutant kind without making Emma Frost’s tits bigger.

The problem is the attack by the X-men triggered a failsafe for the embryos. He might be ugly and evil as fuck, but he understands the value of having a backup. So he set a machine to send his embryos somewhere safer than even Rick Santroum could ever imagine. Assuming, of course, his concept for safety is every bit as fucked as Rick Santorum’s, Colossus and the young X-men try to stop it. Again, the X-men’s shitty luck and shittier odds work against them.

Cerebra manages to get out a distress call to the rest of the X-men. In short order, this brings in Magik, Storm, Iceman, O5 Jean, Old Man Logan, Forge, and Nightcrawler. Now it’s a bunch of pro bowlers playing against a bunch of pre-season waiver pickups. That means Sugar Man is fucked and he doesn’t realize it in time to stop Old Man Logan from chopping his tongue off. Is it gross? Yes. Is it satisfying as hell to see someone like Sugar Man silenced so violently? Hell yes.

Unfortunately, cutting Sugar Man’s tongue off doesn’t stop the machine. The X-men are a long ways away from ever being that lucky. So instead, the machine goes off and Colossus’ team disappears, along with the 600 mutant embryos. They disappear, but since they’re not Cyclops, they’re not going to just get fucked over off-panel. I’m sure Marvel is saving that for some other bullshit retcon.

A quick scan of Sugar Man’s disgusting mind reveals that he sent the embryos to the future because I guess they don’t have Dr. Who reruns in Age of Apocalypse. It is dystopian, after all. Since being stuck in the future tends to suck elephant balls, as the O5 X-men can attest, they decide to go to the future to get him. Forge hot wires the machine while Magik is forced to stay behind. They need someone to watch over the Jean Grey Institute, which is still stuck in Limbo. It might as well be someone who is disturbingly comfortable around demons.

Some LSD-inspired artwork gives us a decent time travel sequence. When it passes and everyone’s brain’s stop melting, the X-men find themselves approximately 1,000 years in the future. They’re in an I Am Legends version of New York City, minus the vampire creatures. Since there are no flying cars or mutant/Inhuman love fests in the streets, it’s safe to assume this future is dystopian on some level.

They do catch up with Glob, Anole, and No Girl. However, it turns out that they fucked the timeline a little too hard and they ended up being stuck in the future for years. So now they’re grown up, older, and a lot less cute. But they don’t exactly show that they’ve matured much in however much time has passed. That might be too jarring, even in a series built on a foundation of bullshit retcons.

There is one notable absence though. Colossus is missing. So what the fuck happened to him? Well, since the X-men’s luck is so fucked, they find out the hard way. He shows up, blasts Cerebra, and reveals that he’s become a horseman of Apocalypse. Having been a vessel for the Phoenix Force just a few years ago, I think it’s safe to say that Colossus is getting around more than a joint at Tommy Chong’s house.

And he’s got other horseman too. This includes Moon Knight, Venom, and Deadpool. Because why not? Deadpool has a $700 million movie. To not include him in a big Apocalypse event would just be irresponsible from a business perspective. Beyond that though, there’s nothing all that shocking about these horsemen other than they promise to fuck the X-men up even more. Like Jenna Jameson after a gangbang, are they even going to feel it at this point? it awesome?

In terms of busting Forge’s balls and showing the inherent power of white hair? Sure, I’ll grant Extraordinary X-men #8 that. But in terms of overall story? Sorry, but busting balls only goes so far for me. It’s not like the story isn’t coherent and concise. It just doesn’t do anything that would make me want to pay closer attention to it. Maybe if it was printed on Emma Frost’s tits, I would be more intrigued. Since it’s not, I can only neither condemn nor praise it.

It does have plenty of moments. Bringing Sugar Man back into the mix was a nice touch. Seeing him get his tongue cut off certainly helps make my day. Beyond that though, I can’t say this story did anything to make time travel, the dystopian futures, or shitting all over the entire mutant race feel less overdone. The extra story with Magik was a nice bonus, but Extraordinary X-men #8 doesn’t exactly need a warning for heart patients or those with bladder issues. And at a time when Oscar Isaac can basically name his own price, I think Apocalypse deserves better.

Final Score: 7 out of 10