Friday, January 27, 2017

X-men Supreme Uncut: Cyclops and Jean Grey In The Back Seat is LIVE!

It’s cold, it’s dreary, and the X-men are fighting yet another superhero vs. superhero battle in the comics. In other words, it’s the perfect time for another one of my sexy side projects. When the current status of the comics is so depressing in so many ways, it’s actually not that hard to get into the mood so to speak. Sometimes, you just need make something that gives you and your fellow X-men fans a break from the doom, gloom, and repeated sterilization that the X-men comics have given us in recent years.

Once again, I’ve decided to add a little cut-scene to X-men Supreme. At the moment, this series is nearing the end of Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. At this point in the series, things are going to get dire. There will be upheavals. Hearts will be strained, broken, and everything in between. That said, I will not be resorting to sterilization, clones, or time travel. That alone should make X-men Supreme less confusing/infuriating than the comics.

Before that though, I want to make something that’s fun, entertaining, and sexy as hell. To do that, I’m drafting Cyclops and Jean Grey into a little sexy fun once more. To date, they’re one of the most enduring romances in X-men Supreme and, while Marvel is trying desperately to make us forget, they’re still the most iconic romance in the history of X-men. Even if they are iconic, that doesn’t mean they can’t have some sexy fun.

In this case, it happens just after X-men Supreme Issue 80: The Lotus and the Warrior. I know that was way back in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear, but there’s a reason for that and that reason should become apparent in the story, hopefully in a damn sexy sort of way. I originally wanted to fit this into some more recent events in X-men Supreme, but I just couldn’t make it work so I fit it in here. It doesn’t make the end result any less sexy.

So if you’re a fan of Cyclops and Jean Grey having a little sexy fun on the side, this little one-shot should be for you. If you’re just sick of the damn winter cold and want to lounge around naked again, this should help warm you up as well. It won’t fill the role of a broken heater, but it’s the next best thing.

It’s going to be a long winter, but we’ll get through. Expect more sexy side-projects along the way to help keep things hot. The feedback I’ve gotten from stories like “The New Red Queen” have been very encouraging. I’m still entertaining a host of ideas, but I’m always happy to hear more. Please take time to post reviews and send me comments. I’m always happy to listen, especially to the sexy ones. Until next time, take care and stay warm!

Underwhelmingly Misguided Underdogs: Inhumans vs. X-men #3

The following is my review of Inhumans vs. X-men #3, which was posted on

In sports, people love cheering for the underdog. In nearly every major sports movie, this underdog spirit is as common as the elaborate training montage that everyone since Rocky Balboa tries to emulate. It's not that hard to set up an underdog in a fight. They usually face harsh, unforgiving circumstances that puts them at a clear disadvantage. Having them overcome these disadvantages is a powerful narrative that often plays out in superhero comics as well, including those that involve superheroes end up fighting each other.

With Inhumans vs. X-men, it's not quite as easy for one side of the conflict. One side is fighting to prevent an entire species from suffering a horrible, painful death. The other is fighting to protect the big green cloud that is spreading this death. It's easy to make the former the underdog, as this is the position they've been in many times since their inception. For the latter, however, it's akin to making Emma Frost seem modest.

The circumstances of Inhumans vs. X-men are exceedingly unbalanced and have played out as such since before the conflict began. The clock is now ticking for the X-men. If they don't do something about the Inhumans' sacred cloud, every mutant on the planet will die a terrible death. If the Inhumans were agents of Hydra or just some ordinary villains who got tired of using killer robots, this doesn't even need to be an underdog story. It can just be a typical X-men story.

Unfortunately, the other side's movie rights aren't owned by Fox and Marvel has a vested interest in making them underdogs. Inhumans vs. X-men #3 tries to accomplish this as the conflict reaches a critical turning point. It doesn't fail miserably, but it certainly doesn't succeed either. The plot moves forward. The conflict gains new complications. From a narrative standpoint, however, that's about all this issue accomplishes.

Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire already have an impossible task on their hands. They're attempting to tell a story about a conflict where one side is fighting for survival and one side is fighting to preserve their current situation. This isn't a passionate disagreement on the merits of proactive justice. This is one side trying to survive while one tries to preserve the status quo. There's simply no way for that conflict to carry the same drama as Civil War, Avengers vs. X-men, or even the infamous Clone Saga.

With Inhumans vs. X-men #3, though, the story avoids any effort at creating meaningful drama around the conflict. There seems to be this unspoken acceptance that such drama is impossible. That may be a byproduct of the messy circumstances surrounding the story, but it doesn't change the outcome. There's no emotional weight to give impact of the story. It tries to roar like the Hulk, but hits with the intensity of a feather duster.

The action won't get anyone's heart racing. It won't get anyone to stand up and cheer for one side over the other. The only thing Inhumans vs. X-men #3 accomplishes is moving the plot forward. Even in this context, however, that progress is limited because it requires the story to ignore many of those messy circumstances surrounding the conflict.

At this stage, the Inhuman royal family is down for the count. The X-men have them contained in Limbo, thereby giving them the time they need to destroy the Terrigen Mist that's poisoning their species. Them having the advantage and the most to lose creates this strange situation where seeing the younger Inhumans rally against them doesn't generate the sentiment that most would associate with underdogs. There's no iconic training montage or Captain America speech to inspire them. They just call up some of their allies on a cell phone and go from there.

That's really the extent of the Inhumans' recourse. With the royal family neutralized, they turn to the other younger Inhumans like Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, and Quake for help. There's no depth or drama to enlisting them. They literally just call them up, they acknowledge the situation, and they start making preparations. They put as much effort into crafting a counter-strike as most people put into ordering a pizza. They call each other up and just like that, they're a team ready to strike back against the X-men.

In addition to this being extremely bland, there's no effort on the part of the younger Inhumans to understand the conflict. They just see that the X-men attacked New Attilan and that's it. There's no heated debate on what to do, how to do it, or even why they're doing it in the first place. They react the same way they would if Hydra attacked New Attilan and that just compounds the underlying problem with the Inhumans vs. X-men conflict.

There's no getting around the implications. These young, inexperienced Inhumans are not just fighting the X-men, some of which are close friends with characters like Ms. Marvel. They're fighting against a desperate group of people trying to save their species from extinction. If the young Inhumans succeed, that means that countless innocent mutants suffer and die. If they fail and the X-men succeed, then no one dies. The Inhumans will face some difficult new challenges, but again, it wouldn't require that anyone die. There's just no way to be underdogs in that situation.

If there is an effort on the part of Soule and Lemire in Inhumans vs. X-men #3, it falls short by a wide margin. That's not to say there isn't substance within the story. It does succeed in adding new complications to both sides. The Inhumans do manage to hinder the X-men's efforts to destroy the Terrigen Mist and are able to buy time for their side to recover from the initial attack. Again, unless someone is a die-hard Inhuman fan, it's hard to root for them.

The Inhumans still try to carry themselves as though they're the underdogs and have just taken a few devastating punches to the jaw. On the surface, and only on the surface, it works just enough to keep the sequence of events going. Dig just a little bit deeper and the unpleasant truth is still there. The Inhumans are still trying to stop another species from saving itself. If the most they have to lose is not being able to create new Inhumans in a way that murders innocent mutants, then they can't be underdogs. Carrying themselves as such is just dishonest, misguided, and downright insipid.

Final Score: 4 out of 10

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Marvelous Monstruous Mayhem: Monsters Unleashed #1

The following is my review of Monsters Unleashed #1, which was posted on

It says something about the current state of superhero comics when the idea of superheroes not fighting each other seems like a novel concept. It may seem like such a long time ago, but there was once a time when superheroes primarily fought villains, criminals, and monstrous manifestations ripped right out of old Roger Corman movies.

It's getting harder and harder to remember those times. These days, it seems every major superhero team, in both Marvel and DC, can't go a year without fighting one another. Cullen Bunn and Steve McNiven clearly remember those simpler times and if Monsters Unleashed #1 is any indication, they remember them fondly. The challenge for them is to remind readers that there's still a place for stories that don't involve superheroes fighting each other.

It's one of those concepts that shouldn't be such a challenge, but between Civil War II and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it may as well be a chess match with Dr. Doom. Bunn and McNiven are getting back to basics, having Marvel's premier heroes take a break from clashing with each other to confront a new threat. The end result is an over-the-top, action-packed thrill ride that pits iconic heroes against giant monsters. It's as basic a formula it can possibly be without Deadpool making a poop joke, but it works.

The story doesn't try to be overly complex or nuanced. Monsters start falling from the sky in cities all over the world. Marvel's various superhero teams, including the Avengers, the X-men, the Inhumans, the Champions, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, all get to step up and fight some monsters. There's no elaborate exposition. There is some mystery, but Bunn never lets it get in the way of the spectacle of heroes fighting monsters.

He seems to understand the audience. He knows there's too much entertainment value in giant monsters. It should be as obvious as a temper tantrum by the Hulk, but it still feels refreshing in that it provides a simple, entertaining story that allows heroes to just be heroes. Nobody has to worry about characters acting strangely, timelines being tampered with, or reputations being ruined. It's just heroes fighting monsters. No fan need agonize over their favorite characters and in at a time where Captain America can be a Hydra agent, that counts for something.

That's not to say that the narrative in Monsters Unleashed #1 is overly simple. It does have some refinements that make it more engaging than a typical Power Rangers rerun, although not by much. While Bunn does make it a point to emphasize the battles between heroes and monsters, he does squeeze in some mystery behind the wanton destruction.

The details of that mystery, which involves a kid who enjoys drawing monsters more than fighting them, are somewhat ambiguous. It involves Elsa Bloodstone and another dime-a-dozen doomsday prophecies, of which there are plenty in the Marvel universe. It's not nearly as engaging as seeing the Hulk punch a giant eye monster, but does add a sense of purpose to the hero vs. monster clash. There is a larger story behind it, even if that story offers as few hints as necessary. At the very least, it ensures that Monsters Unleashed #1 never devolves into a glorified Michael Bay movie.

The main appeal of the story is still its simplicity. McNiven's art further supplements that appeal, providing rich and colorful battles that give a diverse cast of heroes plenty of opportunities to shine. These are the kinds of scenes that will never make it into a Marvel movie, if only because even Disney's pockets aren't bottomless. That helps add to the overall spectacle in Monsters Unleashed #1 and in a story that involves giant monsters, that's saying something.

There's something to be said about the overall context of this story. In real estate, it's all about location. That's the key to making a project work. In comics, the closest equivalent is timing. While some stories are indeed timeless, as those of Superman and Captain America have proven, work best when the time is just right in both the real world and the fanciful world of comics.

Stories like the Phoenix Saga and the first Civil War have an impact because they reflect a certain time and sentiment with the audience. Monsters Unleashed is one of those concepts that could be shrugged off in the extremes of the '90s, the macho grittiness of the '80s, or the psychedelic mindscape of the '60s. However, its presence in 2017, a time when audiences are burned out on superheroes fighting each other, feels both right and overdue.

Comics don't need to blow minds, break hearts, and shatter spirits every other week. They just need to entertain. Bunn and McNiven succeed in delivering just that with Monsters Unleashed #1. They go out of their way to avoid complicating the plot. They also avoid crafting a story that devolves into shameless disaster porn as well. There is story. There is mystery. Some details are lacking, but it still works. No major characters are getting reinvented, retconned, or replaced by clones. In this particular era of comics where everything gets shaken up every other year, that counts for something.

Monsters Unleashed #1 is not a story that's going to get anyone thinking too hard about real-world parallels or blurred lines between good and evil. It's not going to reinvent an entire genre either. This story caters to the kid in everybody who plays with action figures, imagines giant monsters attacking big cities, and comes up with over-the-top battles full of fiery explosions and crumbling buildings. Anyone's inner child, especially those that pestered their parents for action figures every Christmas, will be thrilled with this story.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, January 20, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 147: Vengeful Anarchy is LIVE!

When it comes to the X-men’s many enemies, they tend to bring out the best and the worst in them. A big part of the X-men’s mythos is built around how Magneto and Charles Xavier complement one another as adversaries and friends. You could say the same about Wolverine and Sabretooth. When the X-men clash with their enemies, it leaves a mark, for better and for worse.

There have been many of these clashes throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Clashes like Uprising, Overlord, the Phoenix Saga, and Outer Limits each gave the X-men a chance to be the best they can be. These stories gave characters like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Charles Xavier, Storm, and Wolverine a chance to be great. They made for some of the most powerful moments in the history of X-men Supreme. Well, I can now say that the end of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation will create a very different kind of moment for the X-men.

Since the beginning of X-men Supreme Volume 6, which marked the rise of the Mutant Liberation Front and the beginning of a major transition for Charles Xavier, the X-men have struggled to adapt to changing conflicts. The Mutant Liberation Front really changed the nature of the human/mutant struggle. They made it so that being heroes just wasn’t enough. The X-men couldn’t just save the day and expect that to set an example for mutants everywhere. The Mutant Liberation Front left scars on everyone, from the X-men to Genosha to President Kelly, that are just starting to fester.

I’ve been guiding X-men Supreme towards a very pivotal moment, one that I’ve been setting up since I introduced General Grimshaw and Captain Freeman back in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. Since they’re OCs, I’ve been hesitant to put them in more prominent roles. I know people read X-men Supreme for the X-men and not characters they’ve never seen before. Well, they’ve had a while to establish themselves in this fanfiction series. Now, they’re about to play a much larger role in the future of X-men Supreme.

That role will emerge as the X-men face the final conflict in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. It began with the Mutant Liberation Front. It’s only fitting that it ends with the Mutant Liberation Front. Stryfe, the last one standing, is about to strike the X-men where it hurts most. This time, there’s no way around it. The result of this battle will change the X-men and the course of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Hearts will be broken. Spirits will be crushed. This will be a defining issue for multiple characters, albeit for very solemn reasons. Expect this to be an issue that will reverberate throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series for a long time to come.

X-men Supreme Issue 147: Vengeful Anarchy

Big moments like this don’t come along often in this fanfiction series. I always try to build towards them, making sure they unfold in way that makes X-men Supreme more awesome. I have a feeling the conclusion of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation will leave many X-men fans very worried, but I also hope they’ll be intrigued. The damage done at the conclusion of this stage of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series will run deep, but it’ll do so in a way that will bring out the best in these characters. I hope X-men fans will appreciate the sentiment.

During such tenuous times, both within X-men Supreme and the X-men comics, it’s very important that I continue to get feedback. I expect I’ll get plenty of anxious comments from X-men fans of all types, especially after this and the next issue play out. I want to hear those comments. I want to respond to them and I want to get people excited about the future of X-men Supreme. I can’t do that unless people take the time to review. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grounded and Rooted: Guardians of the Galaxy #16

The following is my review of Guardians of the Galaxy #16, which was posted on

There's tends to be this understandable, but misguided sentiment that the best traits of a character only show when they're in the worst of circumstances. It's certainly the case that iconic moments in a character's legacy come from harsh, often tragic narratives. Whether it's Jean Grey's sacrifice at the end of The Dark Phoenix Saga or the Captain America's death at the conclusion of Civil War, these are powerful moments that reveal why these characters are so iconic.

These moments are memorable and all, but they often present a simplistic and incomplete insight into a character. Most comic book readers don't need to be reminded constantly of Jean Grey's propensity for dying, Superman's boundless idealism, or Deadpool's deplorable toilet humor. That's why insights into less dire moments tend to reveal other layers to these characters that often go unnoticed.

Brian Michael Bendis makes a concerted effort to craft these moments in Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a remarkable change of tone for a series that involves talking raccoons, talking trees, and blowing up a planet at least once a week. Throughout his run on this series, he highlights some of the most memorable traits of these characters. However, in the ongoing Grounded arc, he does this from a whole new angle.

For once, the Guardians aren't caught up in some exotic, cosmic struggle that requires them to outwit Thanos one week while stopping a Shi'ar civil war the next. Instead, Bendis has the Guardians stranded on Earth, a direct result of their involvement in the events of Civil War II. It basically forces the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy to find new ways to be iconic.  

Guardians of the Galaxy #16 presents the most challenging part of that process to date by putting Groot in unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory. For a character with such a limited vocabulary, but near-limitless likability, it's a challenge that requires a wholly different approach. It's one thing to flesh out a nerdy high school kid with spider powers. A giant talking tree requires a different approach, wholly unprecedented approach.

Remarkably, Bendis finds a beautifully functional approach and artist, Valerio Schiti, makes it work to the utmost. This approach involves telling Groot's story as though it were a children's story. Being a talking tree, this actually works beautifully. It's an unusual format, if only because it doesn't rely heavily on Rocket Raccoon's overuse of pseudo-profanity like "krutacking." Given the context of the story, it kind of has to be unusual and Bendis embraces this concept.

Guardians of the Galaxy #16 gives Groot a chance to be more than just the linguistically challenged muscle of the Guardians. He gets to explore a world where trees flourish, provided they aren't in the path of logging companies or a Hulk rampage. Even in big cities like New York, there are parks where Groot can fit right in. If anything, he seems more at home in a situation like this than he is in the cold vacuum of space. Being a tree, it almost makes too much sense.

Beyond the more favorable conditions, the story involves more than Groot enjoying a sunny day at the park while Rocket complains. He does get a chance to be a hero, albeit on a very basic level. This leads to a colorful and well-crafted clash with Armadillo. He's a fairly generic villain, one whose personality doesn't even match a standard Doombot, but that makes him an ideal threat for Groot. This story is intended to flesh out Groot and not a villain dumb enough to rob a bank in broad daylight. When talking trees are involved, tact is wholly unnecessary.

During this clash, we get to see Groot carry himself in a world where people aren't used to talking trees. Big green Hulks and killer robots are one thing, but talking trees really strain a population that is already a bit too used to the occasional Skrull invasion. Naturally, Groot doesn't generate many fans at first, even after he takes down Armadillo. This is where the children's book style of the story really shines.

Along the way, Groot gains an important fan in a little boy named London. This boy, who carries himself like any typical prepubescent protagonist from a Disney movie, stands up for Groot at the moment when misguided adults are still overly inclined to shoot something that may or may not be one of Dr. Doom's failed experiments. Since compassion for children tends to override a desire to shoot things, it works and Groot now has a friend.

It makes for a simple, but uplifting conclusion to the conflict. At a time when superheroes just finished fighting another Civil War and Captain America is a Hydra agent, it makes for a uniquely satisfying story. As Stephen Spielberg revealed years ago with ET, a lovable alien befriending a young boy has undeniable appeal.

That appeal may make readers feel warm and fuzzy inside, but the overly simple nature of the narrative may also limit the depth of the story. More than anything else, Guardians of the Galaxy #16 reaffirms the traits that make Groot who he is. It doesn't really add depth to those traits or provide greater insight. It's primarily a story where Groot gets to be himself and shines however he can.

This basic, but effective approach makes Guardians of the Galaxy #16 one of those issues that fans of a specific character can cite when they want to explain why a particular character is so lovable. If Vin Disel's voice acting in the movie didn't do it for some, then the story in this comic should finish the job. He may be a giant talking tree with an exceedingly limited vocabulary, but he's as lovable as any furry animal that isn't armed with a machine gun. Rocket Racoon would do well to heed his friend's example.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Friday, January 13, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 147: Vengeful Anarchy PREVIEW!

In case you haven’t heard it enough already, Happy New Year everybody! Welcome to 2017. For the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, the new year is an even bigger holiday of sorts. It seems so long ago, but X-men Supreme officially began on New Years Day way back in 2010. A lot has happened since then and I’m not just talking about this fanfiction series.

The X-men comics have gone through plenty of upheaval, including extinction plots, sterilization plots, and time travel plots. In that same time, X-men Supreme has undergone many upheavals involving cosmic forces, mutant uprisings, tense presidential elections, and alien adventures. In all that time, I have not once resorted to sterilization or time travel. That says as much about X-men Supreme as it does the current X-men comics, but that’s another topic altogether.

At the moment, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is entering its seventh year. Fittingly, this momentous anniversary will mark another major upheaval for this fanfiction series. There are only two issues left of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The events of these issues will shape the course for the future of this fanfiction series while also laying the foundation for the next volume. Make no mistake. This upheaval will be severe. This isn’t like the losses the X-men suffered after the events of Dark Legacy or the uncertainty they faced after the election of President Kelly. This conflict will run much deeper.

The catalyst of this conflict will come from a familiar face. Stryfe, who made his chaotic presence known during the Inauguration Day arc back in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear, is looking to succeed where Toad failed. His role in the Mutant Liberation Front did not pan out. They suffered a crippling loss at the end of the Natural Disorder arc. He lost again in the recent Proactive Regression arc. The weight of those losses are getting heavy and Stryfe is getting more desperate. With no more support and no Mutant Liberation Front backing him up, he’s ready to launch one final attack that will help cap off X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The scars this attack will leave on the X-men will not heal easily.

Throughout X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation, the clashes and conflicts the X-men face have taken on new complexities. The Mutant Liberation Front undermined efforts by both humans and mutants to manage their affairs. The X-men tried to do their part. General Grimshaw and President Kelly tried to do theirs. In the end, the results leave much to be desired. The Mutant Liberation Front did a lot of damage and the recent disillusion of Genosha left a lot of uncertainty. How will humans and mutants deal with one another now? Is it even possible?

This question is about to gain one more major complication, thanks to Stryfe. In the penultimate chapter of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation, the X-men will face one final clash that will leave their team and their spirits wounded in ways they’ve never endured. It will lead to changes. It will lead to upheavals. The future of the X-men and the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to get murky and for once, it won’t be resolved through time travel, clones, magic, or sterilization. As always, I’ve prepared a preview of the penultimate issue of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation to set the stage for this devastating clash that promises to upend the X-men as we know it.

“This is what you’ve been reduced to? Taking your frustrations out on my X-men?” questioned Xavier, “It won’t make your reckless endeavors any less futile!”

“This isn’t about the past, Xavier. I’ve always been forward thinking in my goals. Unlike you, I don’t run from the inevitable. The war between humans and mutants is inevitable. Time and again, I’ve tried to confront it with our side having the upper hand.”

“You think unleashing needless terror is a rational way to confront conflict?” retorted Xavier.

“It’s more rational than you’ll ever understand! You and the X-men failed to see it. Only through confrontation can our people be liberated. If you’re going to keep standing in the way of the inevitable, then you leave me no choice. For mutants to prosper, the X-men must die!”

There was no cunning to Stryfe’s plan this time. It was cold-blooded murder. His hatred for the X-men was almost as irrational as the hatred he inspired in those he influenced. Xavier looked up towards the observation deck and saw his faint outline. He was clearly taking a perverse pleasure in this.

“If you’re just going to stand there and watch, then you’re a coward, Stryfe!” yelled Xavier, “You’re an insult to your own ideals!”

“Who said I was just going to watch?” said Stryfe ominously through the speakers, “I’m just going to make sure you and your students are sufficiently distracted. I know this high tech playground of yours has some sort of psychic amplification device. Cerebrum, I believe it was called.”

“How…how do you know about that?” gasped Xavier.

“A friend of a friend told me. He also said that anyone with psionic powers could wield it. That means my knack for bringing out everybody’s inner asshole can be expanded to a global scale. Forget terrorism! Forget political stunts! With one mind, I will cleanse this world in chaos! Only then will mutants be truly liberated!”

The Professor paled at the notion. Looking into the enraged eyes of his X-men as they approached, he imagined the whole world being overcome by this rage. It would effectively render any effort at peace and understanding meaningless. The world was already consumed with fear and uncertainty. A thrust of rage would send humans and mutants over the edge and beyond.

Up in the observation deck, Stryfe grinned as he watched the X-men destroy themselves. Rogue and Cyclops stood over the defeated Phoenix. Gambit and Wolverine were ready to deliver their final blow as well. Colossus, Iceman, Shadowcat, and Storm surrounded Professor Xavier on all sides. They had no chance of stopping him. It was only a pity they would not be around to witness the coming destruction.

“Have fun with your students, Xavier! When all is said and done, your legacy will be sealed. You simply do too little when you have the chance to do so much.”

“Stryfe!” yelled Xavier in a fit of outrage.

It was no use. Stryfe had already turned off the speaker and slipped out of the observation deck. He was now on his way towards Cerebrum and the X-men weren’t in a position to stop them. Instead, they were poised to destroy one another in their blind rage.

“I GET FIRST DIBS!” yelled Iceman as he got in position for a shot.



“TO HELL WITH YOUR RIGHTS! HE’S MINE!” exclaimed Shadowcat.

Professor Charles Xavier watched his enraged X-men approach while he sensed Stryfe running off. His frustration was quickly turning into desperation. He refused to let this be how his X-men ended. Stryfe took a big chance attacking the X-men in their own home. It was bold and desperate. If Xavier was going to stop him, he had to be equally determined. That meant crossing lines he once never dared to cross.

“No…not like this,” he seethed, “My X-men…forgive me.”

As his students closed in, he closed his eyes and channeled the full force of his telepathy. He shut out the swirling winds from Storm and the ongoing tremors from Avalanche, tapping the vast reserves of psionic energy that made him the world’s most powerful telepath. From these reserves, he unleashed a telepathic onslaught the likes of which he had never unleashed before. It was aggressive, forceful, and overwhelming. As soon as it struck the minds of his students, Stryfe’s influence was forcibly and painfully broken.

“ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!” they all cried out.

Cyclops, Iceman, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Shadowcat, Gambit, and Colossus each clutched their heads in agony. Rather than try to reach them, Professor Xavier actually attacked their minds. It rendered them unconscious within seconds, their bodies going limp and falling to the floor. It was such a powerful attack that Xavier needed to catch his breath. It also allowed a dazed Phoenix and Psylocke to recover as well.

“Professor…what did you just do?” gasped Phoenix.

“I had no choice,” he said solemnly as he rose to his feet, “In order to break Stryfe’s hold, I had to strike it head on.”

“Next time, could you aim more carefully? I felt that too and my head is pounding like a jackhammer!” groaned Psylocke.

“I wish I could explain why this was necessary, but we don’t have the luxury of time,” said Xavier in an urgent tone, “I have to go after Stryfe! I must stop him from using Cerebrum!”

“That wanker’s gone mad! He can’t use it! Don’t we have security protocols?” said Psylocke.

“He was resourceful enough to enter the institute without us detecting him. We must assume he’s resourceful enough to get around Cerebrum’s safeguards! That’s why I must stop him!”

The Professor started running for the emergency exit to the Danger Room. At the same time, a new round of tremors rocked the Xavier Institute. This time they were so severe that the lights flickered. Phoenix and Psylocke looked around anxiously while tending to their unconscious teammates. It was one thing to be this vulnerable in the field. It was quite another for it to happen in their own home.

“Avalanche is getting bolder,” said Psylocke, “One of us should go topside and make him wish he drowned in that submarine.”

“Don’t worry about, Avalanche. For now, get the others to hanger and out through the emergency escape!” urged Xavier as he reached the exit.

“And leave you behind to face Stryfe alone?” said Psylocke.

“In a mansion that may crumble at any moment?” added Phoenix.

“I’m not crippled anymore. I can handle this,” he assured them. “Now hurry! Do not give Stryfe the satisfaction of playing into his hands!”

Professor Xavier didn’t linger for Phoenix and Psylocke to question his orders. He was already on his way to confront Stryfe. For once, his X-men wouldn’t be the ones to carry out his vision. This time, Charles Xavier was taking matters into his own hands.

I’m excited and anxious about the future of X-men Supreme in 2017. I have a feeling I’ll upset and worry a lot of readers with how X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation ends. Some of those concerns will extend into future volumes as well. However, I sincerely hope that the drama and upheaval of this fanfiction series will be compelling in a way that X-men fans will appreciate, especially given the state of the comics. With that in mind, it’s still critical that I continue to receive feedback and comments on X-men Supreme moving forward. I need to know whether I’m going too far with these upheavals and I can’t know that unless people tell me. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat X-men. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Friday, January 6, 2017

Xtreme Satifaction From A Most Xtreme Era: X-men 92 #10

The following is my review of X-men 92 #10, which was posted on

Every era has distinct spirit and style that defines it. Just as the Beatles define the 1960s and disco music defined the late 1970s, the edgy grit of the X-men helped define the 1990s. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the OJ Simpson trial, the X-men embody an era where differences and extremes shoved their way into the mainstream. Mutants, being an over-arching metaphor for minorities, set the tone for this era and ran with it full-speed.

That time now seems so long ago as a new era driven by movie rights and the rival companies that fight over them takes hold. While the X-men still have a place in this era, it is nowhere near the prominence they enjoyed in the 1990s where toys, trading cards, and Pizza Hut promotions embraced all things X-men. X-men 92 doesn't come with those same promotions and it's not just because Pizza Hut has scaled back their marketing efforts. Even without those promotions, X-men 92 still carries with it that same spirit and style.

X-men 92 is series that simply cannot fit into an era where a talking raccoon with a machine gun generates the same interest as Wolverine. In another decade, it could be the gold standard for an entire franchise. Instead, it can only manage a short 10-issue series that capitalizes on the nostalgia and style of a bygone era. This doesn't give Chad Bowers and Chris Sims much to work with, but that doesn't stopped them from making every issue of X-men 92 count.

With X-men 92 #10, the limited narrative they've crafted reaches its premature conclusion. In many respects, its too premature to generate the same impact, even to those passionate X-men fans that cling desperately to the glory days of the mid-1990s. Despite these limits, Bowers and Sims still find a way to make X-men 92 #10 conclude in a way that feels epic, compelling, and dramatic to an extent that works beautifully in any era.

What begins in the Secret Wars tie-in culminates in this issue. It's not an overly elaborate plot. It doesn't have the same twists, turns, clones, retcons, and superhero civil wars that every plot after 2004 seems to mimic. That's not to say it's an overly simple plot either. It's not just the X-men fighting a killer robot. It's not just Wolverine snarling every other panel. There's a certain level of depth and drama that help heighten the emotions. For a series that draws from the fond memories of a cartoon that ended in 1997, that's quite an accomplishment.

The primary conflict, which has been building since the series began, involves a threat so big that even Apocalypse dreads it. It's the kind of extreme, over-the-top threat that emerged every other week in the '90s X-men comics. It's not too contrived either, building off the X-men's history with the Celestials. These space god robots definitely qualify as extreme and over-the-top, making them the perfect threat for this brand of X-men to face.

Beyond the threat, Bowers and Sims do what they can to resolve the outstanding plots that unfolded throughout the series. Given the tragically limited breadth of this series, this isn't too difficult. They resolve the side-plot with Cyclops and Jean Grey. They build off what they established with Dead Girl during the first major arc of the series. They take the time and effort to incorporate every one of these elements into the final resolution. That kind of impact reflects a genuine effort that isn't always obvious in a comic, be it a limited mini-series or a full-blown crossover event.

X-men fans from both the '90s and every other era will appreciate such efforts. They make for beautiful moments, some of which could easily fit right into the famous '90s cartoon. Moments like Cyclops and Jean Grey confronting Cable or Gambit finally sharing a moment with Rogue will warm the hearts of anyone who made watching that cartoon part of their Saturday morning. It's presented in a way that even those who never watched that cartoon can appreciate.

As nice as these moments are, they still only deliver a fraction of the dramatic weight that X-men 92 #10 delivers. Bowers and Sims really swing for the fences in resolving the Celestial conflict, taking Charles Xavier's dream and raising the stakes to a level that can only ever work in the final issue of a series. It goes beyond merely fostering peace between humans and mutants. More than anything else, it reveals the most important tenant of this dream and why it sets the X-men apart from their enemies, human and mutant alike.

For men like Charles Xavier, peace and understanding cannot be forced. It cannot be coerced, imposed, or telepathically forged. It has to be chosen and embraced. This is something that the Magnetoes, the Apocalypses, and the Sinisters of the world refuse to acknowledge. They don't trust ordinary humans to choose such a path. Charles Xavier has faith in humanity that they will make this choice when given a chance. That faith is ultimately rewarded in X-men 92 #10.

This reward still comes at a price, but one that is both fitting and satisfying. Bowers and Sims set it up in a way that feels right. It gives the impression that this is how Charles Xavier's dream must be realized. This is how that dream takes form and substance in the context of the X-men's overall narrative. It doesn't need to be tragic, but it doesn't need to be as fanciful as a Disney movie either. At a time when it's easy to be extremely cynical about human nature, the culmination in X-men 92 #10 offers a wonderfully refreshing perspective.

Even with a series that had so little time to grow and ends so abruptly, X-men 92 #10 manages to accomplish so much in such a short span of time. Given the scope and scale of the narrative, it's impossible to resolve every element without making a triple-sized issue, complete with bonus pages. Chad Bowers and Chris Sims still succeed in completing the X-men's narrative. Whether it's a cartoon from the mid-90s or a limited comic book series from 2016, it's still extremely satisfying. For X-men fans of all eras, especially the extremes of the '90s, it's astonishingly fitting.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Announcement on Upcoming Sexy Side-Projects

It's a brand new year and so far, nobody too important has died yet. That's not going to keep, but let's enjoy it while it lasts. I know 2016 sucked for a lot of people. There wasn't much we could do about that. The best I could do was keep on writing my PopMatters reviews, continue X-men Supreme, and work on my sexy side-projects, as I call them. As luck would have it, 2016 did offer an interesting revelation.

Apparently, stories about a very sexy Mary Jane Watson have a lot of appeal. Who knew? Both my "Spider-Man and the Prostitute" story and "The New Red Queen" were big hits, relatively speaking. I got a lot of fond comments from readers and I think I know why.

Now I didn't intend for the story to pan out like it did. I didn't even plan to write a sequel to it, but you gotta give the people what they want. Apparently, readers want an overtly sexy Mary Jane Watson in a universe where she worked as a prostitute. I'm not judging. I'm just saying there's an vocal audience I didn't know about.

With that in mind, I want to announce that I'm working on a few more sexy side-projects. One isn't related to my "Spider-Man and the Prostitute" story. It's actually one I've had planned for a while now and just finally got around to writing it. After that though, I have a couple of spin-offs in the works. These stories will act as sequels of sorts, taking place after "The New Red Queen" and expanding on this world. I don't want to reveal too much right now, but if you've enjoyed seeing Mary Jane Watson be sexy as hell, you'll love this!

Updates on X-men Supreme and various tie-ins will continue. There are only a couple issues left on Volume 6. I will be doing Volume 7. I won't tease too much for reasons that should be obvious in the next couple issues. Basically, if you're not liking the shit that's going on in the X-men comics right now, you should appreciate what I have planned. Nuff said!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Winning Streaks and Resolutions: Civil War II #8

The following is my review of Civil War II #8, which was posted on

Every major sports dynasty in every meaningful sport learns at some point that a winning streak has to end. Whether it's the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics, the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, or the New York Yankees every five years or so, they learn that no winning streak can last forever. More often than not, learning that lesson is pretty painful.

In the context of Marvel Comics, Tony Stark is very much on par with the New York Yankees. He's been managing a winning streak that dates back to the conclusion of the first Civil War back in 2005. Within the Marvel/Disney hierarchy, he's right up there with princesses and talking animals in terms of importance and prominence. He's not just the character that revived Robert Downey Jr.'s career. He's very much the catalyst for the modern Marvel universe, as it has manifested over the past decade.

With Civil War II, he faces the biggest threat to his losing streak to date. Once again, he finds himself leading a team of heroes against another team of heroes, caught up in a powerful philosophical struggle on how heroes should conduct themselves. This time, it's not just Captain America or the American legal system he's up against. He's taking on Captain Marvel, who has a winning streak of her own, and the very forces that shape the future of the Marvel universe. Even with the star power of Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark faces extreme odds.

He finally puts his vision and his winning streak on the line in Civil War II #8 for the final struggle. It has the fixings of a dramatic struggle, ripe with the same high emotions as Mark Millar's memorable narrative in the first Civil War. Unfortunately, those high emotions that worked so well for Millar end up falling much flatter with Bendis.

That's not to say that Civil War II #8 doesn't deliver in terms of drama and high emotions. Those factors are definitely in place and they do give the story plenty of weight. However, the actual mechanics of the story and the way everything gets resolved just come off as rushed and contrived. Nobody will be gasping for air or picking their jaw up off the floor with the big climax of the story here. The most anyone will probably do is shrug and sigh, but not necessarily in a bad way.

There are some powerful moments that play out here. These moments highlight the sheer strength and weight that Captain Marvel and Iron Man wield in the context of the current Marvel hierarchy. These are two of Marvel's most popular characters fighting over a conflict that Bendis made sure was every bit as balanced as the one Mark Millar molded in the first Civil War. The clash never feels like a glorified street fight or something that can be written off as a product of mind control, clones, or Skrull agents.

Captain Marvel and Iron Man are literally fighting for the future of the Marvel universe and their place in it. Over the course of that fight, it's clear that neither character harbors a seething hatred of the other. They don't insult each other. They don't engage in the kind of trash talk usually reserved for a rap battle. They carry themselves with the utmost conviction that they're right. They both believe they are the New York Yankees on the cusp of another championship.

In the end, only one can win out. Eventually, one does win out, albeit in an outcome that feels somewhat hollow. After all the high emotions that helped make Civil War II so impactful, from the first battle against a rogue Celestial to the death of Bruce Banner, the end result feels muted because the battle doesn't really resolve the main issue. In some respects, the issue resolves itself, which makes the conflict seem more trivial than it actually is.

Nothing that Captain Marvel and Iron Man do, either through fighting or through the hard choices they make, influences what happens to Ulysses. As the Inhuman who started this all, his role in the final conflict is surprisingly minimized, which really undermines the narrative. It's like Wolverine trying to win a fight without his claws. It is possible, but it lacks that a certain touch that gives the conclusion its satisfying feel.

Absent this satisfaction, the conclusion in Civil War II feels so rushed. If the conflict does affect Ulysses, it's an indirect influence at most and that influence is not really clear. Unlike the first Civil War, neither side gets a chance to really prove that their side was right. There's no way to actually put into practice all these the passionate arguments that Captain Marvel and Iron Man make throughout the conflict. They still fight, but they don't get to find out whose ideas actually win out.

Despite this lack of resolution, Civil War II still tries to establish a clear winner. It succeeds in this to some degree. It makes clear who comes out ahead and whose winning streak comes to an abrupt end. However, establishing the winner in the story doesn't necessarily explain why they're the winner in the first place. There's an argument to be made that nobody really won Civil War II. In the end, one person is still standing. That's more a technicality than a win, but it still counts. It's like a championship game ending in a tie, but one side still gets to act like a winner.

On the whole, Brian Michael Bendis and Oliver Copiel succeed on numerous levels in making Civil War II the same high-stakes, high-drama conflict as its predecessor. The heavy emotions and painful losses are there. The impact of those losses are felt. Civil War II #8 does nothing to underscore those emotions or those losses. The characters never feel insincere. There's never a sense that one of them could be a Skrull agent. The refinements are there. It's the overall resolution that's lacking.

One winning streak ends. Another winning streak continues. There are impacts, scars, and plenty of arguments to be had on message boards for years to come. In the grand scheme of things, Civil War II counts as a success. It's just not the kind of success that will make anyone less tired of superheroes fighting each other.

Final Score: 6 out of 10