Friday, March 30, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 166: Trial By Fire is LIVE!

When writing the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, or anything else for that matter, I have small, but critical rule about major character moments. The most defining moments may happen in big events, but the most meaningful moments happen in the aftermath. That’s why I often emphasize the aftermath of big events like Uprising, Overlord, the Phoenix Saga, and Dark Legacy. It’s in these moments where some of the most meaningful moments happen.

X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided was built on such aftermath, to some extent. Pretty much the entire narrative of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation was built around a series of defining moments between the X-men and the Mutant Liberation Front. There were some pretty defining moments with Polaris, Charles Xavier, and the Scarlet Witch. It’s from those moments, though, that the Mutant Monitoring Initiative emerged. It wasn’t just a reaction. It was a huge shift for the character development in this fanfiction series.

It's for that same reason that the aftermath of the recently-concluded Crimes Against Inhumanity arc will include some incredibly meaningful moments, some of which will lead directly into the final culmination of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. After what happened with Romulus, everyone is vulnerable. Charles Xavier’s X-men are reeling after a breakdown in the relationship between President Kelly and General Grimshaw. Cyclops’ X-Force are still healing, physically and mentally, from their ordeal. It’s a dangerous situation that some are already looking to exploit.

Beyond the danger, though, the overall spirits of both the X-men and X-Force are deeply damaged. There have been more than a few low points throughout X-men Supreme, from Dark Legacy to the Cambrian Explosion. Few are as personal as this. The whole divide that began in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide is fueled by the fundamental division between Charles Xavier and Cyclops. That divide is about to take their characters and their teams into uncharted territory.

That’s why the aftermath of Crimes Against Inhumanity is more critical than most. X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided has shaken up, shattered, and strained the X-men in ways that even the biggest schisms in the comics never attempted. This isn’t just a disagreement in philosophy. Charles Xavier and Cyclops are actively battling against one another. Now, in their wounded state, they’re both at an impasse. What sort of decisions will they make in response?

Since Crimes Against Inhumanity, it’s too early for any of those decisions at the moment. However, the aftermath to this event is going to be more jarring than the others that came before it. If you’ve been following those moments for the past several volumes of this fanfiction series, you’ll see what I mean in this latest issue. The world of the X-men and X-Force is on the brink and the aftermath of Crimes Against Inhumanity is about to give it a violent nudge.

X-men Supreme Issue 166: Trial By Fire

There’s still plenty of upheavals to come in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. The biggest moments are yet to come. This fanfiction series is about to take a bold leap, using some familiar names that X-men fans and general Marvel fans should recognize. Like every other volume of this fanfiction series, I intend to build towards a truly epic conclusion and the road to that conclusion starts now.

To ensure that climax is as epic as it deserves to be, I still need feedback. X-men Supreme still has room to grow. There are still plenty of opportunities for awesome moments that X-men fans of all kinds can appreciate. That’s why I urge everyone to take the time to leave reviews and post feedback. Either post it directly into the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Friday, March 23, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 166: Trial By Fire PREVIEW!

Whenever a major, Earth-shaking event unfolds in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, I take supreme satisfaction, if that’s not too fitting a word, in how it reshapes the narrative. When I started this fanfiction series, I didn’t just want every issue to involve the X-men fighting Sentinels, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, and men like Robert Kelly. I wanted the story to have a sense of direction. I wanted to do the same world-building that has helped make the X-men comics what they are. Part of that process involves building a story around the aftermath of a major event, which can be satisfying in its own right.

The Crimes Against Inhumanity arc was a huge game changer for X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. This arc was the culmination of numerous tensions that had been building since X-men Supreme Issue 149: Law Abiding Bind demonstrated the strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. On paper, Charles Xavier’s intent was good. He wanted the X-men to work alongside President Kelly and General Grimshaw to improve the standing of mutants while also gaining valuable allies. It came with risks, but after the damage the Mutant Liberation Front did in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation, it was a risk he had to take.

It may have paid off at first in arcs like Drug War and Unholy Man, but Romulus effectively changed the cost structure of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. In many respects, Crimes Against Inhumanity was a worst-case scenario for both Charles Xavier and X-Force. It was one of those conflicts where everything that could’ve been used against the X-men was thrown at them. The divisions the Mutant Monitoring Initiative had created finally caught up to them. The X-men weren’t in a position to do their job. X-Force didn’t have the resources or manpower to end the conflict sooner. As a result, Romulus did untold damage.

That damage goes beyond the X-men and X-Force, though. Unlike Magneto, he didn’t just target mutants with his ultimate plan. He literally attacked the entire world, striking every major defense system he could. From big national armies to local police forces, he used the legacy of Weapon X to wage a war to end all wars. The fact he came so close to succeeding has left everyone, human and mutant alike, in a state of uncertainty and fear.

The aftermath of every major event usually brings added upheavals. It’s one thing to stop the damage. It’s quite another to adapt to the world that emerges. Charles Xavier must now confront a world where the Mutant Monitoring Initiative was exposed and his X-men were unable to do the job. Cyclops and X-Force have to confront the harsh truths that Romulus exposed in his effort to end all war. In both cases, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series faces a new host of challenges and it’s not going to take long for someone to exploit their vulnerabilities.

That’s exactly what the next couple of issues deal with. Many major events in X-men Supreme, going back to Uprising and Overlord, create a situation in which someone exploits the aftermath. The impact of Crimes Against Inhumanity will be no different and the names of those who do the exploiting should be very familiar. Some are fairly new. Others have done plenty of damage to the X-men in the past. In any case, the aftermath will set the stage for the next major conflict. As always, I’ve prepared a preview on the foundation of that conflict.

“Mr. President, please! We still have much to discuss and time remains a factor,” urged a desperate Charles Xavier as he tried to catch up with President Kelly.

“I’m a busy man, Charles. We’ve got a global security crisis on our hands and you can’t expect me to make meeting with you my top priority,” said President Kelly, who was going over CIA reports.

“And you can’t expect me to formulate a long list of necessary reforms within an hour,” retorted Xavier.

“Why not? I thought you were the most powerful mind in the world,” said the President dryly.

“The power of my mind has nothing to do with such unreasonable logistics. You make it sound as though fixing what led to this global security crisis doesn’t matter.”

President Kelly stopped walking, allowing his frustration to surface. He was already late for a conference with several important ambassadors from the Middle East and Asia. Charles Xavier wasn’t making his job easier by pestering him. In fact, he hadn’t stopped pestering him since the dust settled from the White Cell attack.

Professor Xavier tried to ignore the burning frustration that the President was projecting with his mind. He managed to catch up with him, but that was difficult due to the thick packets of paper he was carrying. He only touched on a fraction of what he hoped to address during their meeting. With many lingering issues, he was intent on confronting the damage done to the Mutant Monitoring Initiative.

“I’m don’t mean to annoy you, Mr. President,” said Xavier as he caught his breath, “I’m just asking for some added consideration.”

“When you put it like that, it sounds an awful lot like annoyance,” retorted President Kelly.

“I apologize if that’s how it comes across, but I think we’ll make both our lives easier if we take care of this now,” he said as he sifted through some of the thick packets, “We can both agree that our inaction played a significant role in allowing White Cell’s attack.”

“Only to a point, Professor,” the President replied with folded arms, “Our inaction was only one of many contributing factors.”

“But it’s a factor we’re capable of correcting,” Xavier noted, “I’ve put together a number of reforms to prevent this from happening again. There is plenty of disagreement over the language, but the general theme is the same. The X-men must be able to work more independently. This way they can address threats like White Cell without going through so many layers of bureaucracy.”

“If that’s the general theme, it isn’t very original. Do you have any idea how many other agencies make that same request? You don’t think the Department of Energy would love being able to craft their own energy policies without federal approval?”

“I’m sure every agency would enjoy being a power unto themselves, but they weren’t directly involved in this crisis.”

“I’m sure they made that same argument after the oils shocks in the late 70s or the BP spill in the Gulf. Like everyone else, they had to adapt.”

“Did they? Or did the people involved just stop trying?” questioned Xavier.

“I can’t speak for them, but I can speak for the office that you decided to partner with,” said the President apprehensively, “There will be reform. There’s always reform after a mess like this.”

“I understand that, Mr. President. But I’m concerned it won’t be enough to stop the next crisis.”

“You’re getting ahead of yourself Xavier…and greedy for that matter,” said the President more forcefully, “There’s a lot riding on our shoulders and to be honest, I’m not comfortable trusting you to handle it. Unfortunately, neither of us has a choice.”

“Choice isn’t the issue here. It’s about making sure no one hinders the other from doing the right thing.” said the Professor, maintaining an urgent tone.

“We’re not in the business of doing the right thing, Xavier. We’re in the businesses of managing the impossible so normal folk don’t have to. If you can convince every legislative body and federal judge to go along with all these reforms, go right ahead. I’ll be happy to implement them at that point. If not, take some time to understand that the reasons for these procedures. Remember, you’re the one who signed up for this so I expect you to honor those procedures. Understood?”

Professor Xavier had much more he wanted to say, but the President of the United States made his position clear. He was not in a position to make major changes to the initiative at the moment. His primary concerns were security. He even projected some hostile thoughts to further dissuade Xavier from making further arguments. They were enough to silence any psychic from probing further.

Having made his point, President Kelly adjusted his suit and calmed down. He then turned to his Secret Service agents, who were prepared to escort him to his next meeting. They even shot Xavier a stern glance, warning him not to run after them.

“I’ll assume you heard my thoughts and we’re back on the same page,” said the President, “Whatever reforms you have, send them through the proper channels. In the meantime, I have a lot of anxious world leaders to reassure.”

“Can I also assume they’ll be as understanding if these reforms are passed too late to make a difference?” questioned Xavier.

“They have a myriad of other concerns at the moment. This may be hard to believe for a mind like yours, but there are other conflicts aside those involving mutants.”

President Kelly rushed into the VIP elevator. He left Xavier behind holding his thick stack of papers, still clearly frustrated by having his concerns tossed aside. The President of the United States didn’t have the luxury of focusing on reform. The current state of the world demanded action and for once the X-men were not a priority.

‘You’re putting us in grave danger, Mr. President. Yet somehow you make me feel selfish for trying to fix what is clearly broken. What am I supposed to tell my X-men? If they have to keep breaking the law to do their job, then I fear for more than just their well-being.’

This fanfiction series is entering uncharted territory, as it so often does after a major event. Certain characters are going to undergo major changes. I know X-men fans are somewhat sensitive to change, especially given how the X-men comics have handled them poorly in the past. I hope to avoid those mistakes with this fanfiction series, but the aftermath of an event like Crimes Against Inhumanity will bring more than a few big moments.

That’s why it’s so critical that I continue getting feedback for this and the rest of this fanfiction series. Please, in the interest of making X-men Supreme as awesome as it can be, take the time to review. Either contact me directly or send 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!


Mixing, Mashing, and Monsters: Weapon H #1

The following is my review of Weapon H #1, which was posted on

In an era of reboots, remakes, and re-castings, the bar for what constitutes overdone or overused seems to rise every year. Taking a chance and trying something new is just too risky and expensive. It's safer and easier to go with an established trend, even if it means leeching off its popularity to a point where it's so intentional that no one bothers joking about it. While it may frustrate those hoping for something new, it's hard to argue the power of the market. As long as it sells, it doesn't matter how uncreative it seems.

On paper, Weapon H sounds like a concept that is 95 percent gimmick and only 5 percent story. It combines Wolverine and the Hulk. The results are exactly what they sound like. In the pages of Weapon X, it emerges as a daunting threat from people who still aren't convinced that any effort to create a living weapon in the Marvel universe is anything other than an elaborate death wish. The idea that anything anything good could come from combining Wolverine and the Hulk sounds like the kind of thinking that requires repeated head trauma from Juggernaut.

Even if the concept seems basic and shallow, it somehow finds a way to be compelling. Greg Pak, who created Weapon H in the pages of Weapon X, uses the full range of his X-men and Hulk pedigrees to create a character who deserves to be more than just a gimmick. Weapon H is one of those characters that anyone who believes that Wolverine and the Hulk are too exposed can find an excuse to discount.

However, Pak finds a way to set Weapon H up for a compelling story that starts to unfold in Weapon H #1. It's story that has to take chances by being based on such a simple premise, combining Wolverine and the Hulk into a single character. It faces more obstacles than most in its effort to be compelling. Combined with the art of Cory Smith, it has more going for it than the concept may suggest.

In one issue, it establishes a narrative and a character that never feels too much like the Hulk or too much like Wolverine. Pak goes out of his way to put Weapon H on his own path. It's not entirely unique in that there are some elements that Hulk and Wolverine fans alike will recognize, but the story never feels too familiar or predictable beyond the messy monster battles. That's one element that can never be overdone.

Fighting monsters, however, is a very small part of the story in Weapon H #1. It may be too small to some extent, but necessary in order to establish who Weapon H and his alter ego, Clay, is in this story. He's not the smart, yet meek man with anger management issues like Bruce Banner. He's not a hard-drinking, womanizing brute like Wolverine either. He's a trained soldier who made the mistake of thinking a living weapons program wouldn't screw him over and leave him with lasting scars.

However foolish that assumption might seem to anyone who knows anything about the history of living weapons in the Marvel universe, Clay still carries himself like an honorable man and a dutiful soldier. These same traits are what helped him survive the events in Weapons of Mutant Destruction that play out in Weapon X and Totally Awesome Hulk. They're also what motivates his actions in this new phase of his story.

Clay is hardened at this point. He knows he's a target and not just because living weapons tend to draw out the worst kinds of people for the worst reasons. He also knows there are plenty of things that need smashing and stabbing. He doesn't put on a cape or a goofy costume and go out looking for it. He understands it's bound to come to him, which is why he tries to keep a low profile. He works odd jobs, pretending he doesn't speak English or Spanish. He avoids populated areas or established trails. He basically does what Bruce Banner does, but without as much whining.

That, in and of itself, makes Clay and Weapon H more appealing. His situation is bad, but he doesn't spend half his story lamenting or complaining about it. He's a trained soldier. He grits his teeth and toughs it out, fighting whatever problems come his way, including the non-monster variety. At a time when many soldiers aren't given the Captain America treatment, Clay's story feels more real, even when he eventually has to fight a monster.

To some extent, that kind of realism undercuts the monster-fighting spectacle of the story. A good chunk of that story is dedicated to telling the story Clay's family, who think he's dead. This is where the overall flow of the narrative loses some momentum. There's an effort to establish drama among Clay's wife and kids, but it comes off as flat. Their moments take away valuable time from what could otherwise be utilized for fighting monsters.

Along with Clay's family, there's another sub-plot involving Roxxon, one of the few organizations in the Marvel universe that are bold or foolish enough to get involved in living weapons. While there's a legitimate reasons within the context of the story as to why they would be interested in a claw-wielding Hulk, it only comes off as some generic evil plot from a James Bond villain. If nothing else, Roxxon gives Weapon H something other than monsters to smash.

There's certainly plenty of potential for smashing in Weapon H, as a whole. Clay's story is just beginning. Both Pak and Smith lay a solid foundation for a character who could easily be overlooked as just another rip-off/mash-up. However, Weapon H never attempts to replace the Hulk, Wolverine, or any other character. He doesn't even attempt to subvert their stories in pursuit of his own. He tries to chart his own path within the Marvel universe. That shouldn't be such a novel concept, but it's frustratingly rare in the current era of superhero saturation.

There's enough appeal with Clay and Weapon H to make the story in Weapon H #1 feel compelling. While there are plenty of familiar elements derived from established characters, Pak succeeds in making the story feel unique and personal. It just doesn't have enough spectacle or monsters to feel exciting or nuanced. That can certainly change, but he's going to have to fight more monsters if he wants to catch up to Wolverine and the Hulk.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sexy Side-Project Announcement: The Red Queen Chronicles: The Leader is LIVE!

There are certain characters who just inherently attract respect, ridicule, admiration, disdain, and sexy women all at once. These are remarkable characters in their own right. They're also great characters for my sexy side-projects. That's exactly why I'm so excited about this latest project, which gives Cyclops a chance to channel his attraction in the sexy world of "The Red Queen Chronicles."

With so many sexy female characters in this series like Mary Jane Watson, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost, it's easy to forget that men can have sex appeal too. Granted, they don't always look as good in a thong, but their sex appeal is still plenty deserving of respect. There's a reason why the X-men comics often have Cyclops attract so many beautiful women. Sure, he can be a boy scout, but he can also be one of those guys who just drives the ladies wild.

It's not just the fact that he's tall, fit, and handsome. It also has nothing to do with how awesome he looks in shades. Cyclops is, at his core, a leader and a fighter. He won't just stand at the front lines of a conflict. He'll make others want to stand by his side, even as killer robots bear down on him. No man has that kind of leadership skill without attracting a few beautiful women.

Jean Grey may be the love of his life, but the fact that Cyclops has been involved in more than one love triangle throughout his history says a lot about his sex appeal. The comics are often subtle with that appeal, even when Emma Frost is involved. However, this sexy side-project will not be that subtle, among other things.

Since joining the Hellfire Club in "The Red Queen Chronicles: The Phoenix," Cyclops has had his share of sexy action. While Spider-Man and the rest of the sexy supporting cast have had more, he has yet to utilize the new opportunities before him. That's exactly what he'll do here and more than one woman will benefit from that effort. If you're a Cyclops fan and just love seeing him be awesome, then this is the story for you.

I hope you enjoy it. As always, I strongly encourage everyone to take the time to post feedback. I do have other side-projects planned. I'll announce them in due time. For now, I hope this will build on the sexy foundation I've created.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Heart, Soul, and Zombies: New Mutants Dead Souls #1

The following is my review of New Mutants Dead Souls #1, which was posted on

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, teenagers are uniquely qualified to take on paranormal threats. Most adults, be they ordinary people or iconic superheroes, have a certain level of life experience to forge what they see as a sense of normal. It's part of the basic maturation process. As kids grow into adults, they refine their perspectives into what they consider rational, balanced, and proper.

That may serve them well in function within an ordinary, civilized society. As soon as demons and paranormal monsters enter the picture, those mature people are more likely to buckle under the pressure. Teenagers can be irrational and melodramatic, but by lacking a secure grasp on the real world, they're actually more capable when it comes to facing paranormal threats. This plays out in many memorable ways throughout Chris Claremont's initial in New Mutants. Matthew Rosenberg now attempts to do the same with New Mutants Dead Souls.

In terms of timing, the market is ripe for teen mutants fighting paranormal threats. Rosenberg is coming off a successful stint with Phoenix Resurrection and with the cancellation of Christina Strain's Generation X series, there is an opening for stories centered around teenage mutants taking on the kinds of threats that would overwhelm functioning adults. If those threats involve paranormal creatures that require the leadership of Magik, a teenage girl with a colorful history that involves demons, then the potential entertainment value is beyond dispute.

X-men comics are well-known for providing unique opportunities for young mutants to establish themselves. In a world still populated by time travelers and refugees from dystopian futures, those opportunities are important. New Mutants Dead Souls #1 establishes a new team with familiar faces to take on the kind of threats that often pass under the radar for most X-men. That doesn't imply that paranormal threats are less important. It just acknowledges that mutants are more likely to get attacked by killer robots than demons.

The makeup of the team also acknowledges that some X-men that attract paranormal threats more than others. The fact the team is led by Magik proves that Rosenberg understands what makes the New Mutants unique. Any team of mutants can come together and fight giant robots. It takes a special team with a demon-loving teenage girl as leader to come together and fight paranormal threats. New Mutants Dead Souls #1 doesn't attempt to complicate the concept or overlook the appeal. Anyone just looking to see mutants fighting monsters will get what they want.

Magik's team, which consists of Rictor, Boom-Boom, Strong Guy, and Wolfsbane, is full of familiar names for New Mutants. They're young, immature, and don't hesitate to fight back when someone throws an empty bottle at them. When the threats are paranormal and there's more room for recklessness, that's both expected and refreshing. In the case of New Mutants Dead Souls #1 the threat involves zombies and when it comes to the undead, reckless is most prudent approach, even though it tends to get messy.

The specifics of the threat start off basic. There's a small town in Alabama that sustained heavy casualties due to a hurricane. Some of those casualties died, but didn't stay dead. It's a localized issue that isn't quite on the level of requiring the Avengers to assemble in full force, but it warrants enough concern to send a team of team of teenage mutants right into the heart of the conflict. It's simple enough to challenge the New Mutants while also maximizing their youthful recklessness.

It's not too simple in terms of story, though. This zombie attack doesn't just happen because those corpses all made deals with Mephisto. There's a reason why the dead are rising and that's what the New Mutants have to figure out, but not before battling a horde of zombies that allows Adam Gorham's art to maximize the paranormal ambience. It has the feel of both a horror story and a superhero story, which proves to be a potent combination in terms of raw entertainment value.

There's plenty of setup and tense exchanges, but there's plenty of memorable action-packed moments that are every bit as satisfying as the best moments on The Walking Dead. There's Magik cutting zombies up with her sword, Boom-Boom blowing them up with cherry bombs, and Strong Guy ripping them apart. It's visceral and brutal, but what makes it uniquely satisfying is how it gets resolved.

It's not one of those conflicts that only ends when the last zombie gets its head blown off. There are other forces at work driving the attack and those forces aren't as obvious as someone having worked for the Umbrella Corporation. It's a mystery, but not one that requires much sleuthing. When one of the members on that team spends much of her spare time with demons, the traditional sleuthing process is both tedious and unnecessary.

While the final resolution does come off as a bit rushed, as do other parts of the story, New Mutants Dead Souls #1 is one of those stories that doesn't try too hard to set up future conflicts or over-emphasize the first. It still takes some time to do a little world-building, establishing some infrastructure with the team. They have a base of operations. They have a larger mission and that mission is something even a team of teenage mutants can get behind.

It makes for a story that feels complete and dense. A lot happens quickly. Even when it's a bit too quick in some areas, it still comes together in a concise, coherent manner. It's less an origin story and more a reminder, one that belabors how Chris Claremont's idea of having teenage mutants take on paranormal threats can be fun and entertaining. Rosenberg and Gorham take that idea and run with it, establishing a unique appeal with a colorful cast of characters that is sure to attract more than just zombies. Teenage mutants or not, that appeals to every age group on some levels.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, March 9, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 165: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 4 is LIVE!

This is it. Time has run out. The world is no longer on the brink. It’s at the brink. The world of X-men Supreme is poised for another major turning point. These are kinds of moments that have helped shape and define this fanfiction series. Arcs like Overlord, the Phoenix Saga, Natural Disorder, Dark Legacy, and the Cambrian Explosion have contained such moments, which carry ripples into the future of this fanfiction series. The conclusion of the Crimes Against Inhumanity arc will have more than a few ripples.

The secrets of White Cell are exposed. Romulus, the founder of White Cell and the father of Wolverine, is on a mission to end all conflict by controlling the most powerful fighting force in the world. The X-men, X-Force, and every other defense force on the planet armed with anything more than a baseball bat is a target. This isn’t about winning a war for Romulus. It goes beyond any conflict the X-men have ever faced, as well as anything Charles Xavier ever envisioned. It either has to end here, but not without a price. In the world of X-men Supreme, every resolution has a price.

There have been times when that price has been painfully high. The events of the Cambrian Explosion cost Magneto his sanity. The events of Natural Disorder cost Polaris her life. For the X-men, it has always been a matter of coming together and fighting to ensure that price isn’t too high. In X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, they weren’t able to come together. In fact, the events of the Drug War arc ensured that the X-men would not be able to rally together like they have in previous conflicts. That means the price they’re about to pay with Crimes Against Inhumanity will run much deeper.

The tension is already there. Charles Xavier, President Kelly, and General Grimshaw came together after the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide with the sincere hope that the Mutant Monitoring Initiative would vastly improve relations between humans and mutants. The events of X-men Supreme Issue 149: Law Abiding Bind even explored some of those improvements. In the short-term, Xavier’s efforts bore fruit. Even before he could expand those efforts, though, Romulus was poised to take advantage of it.

He’s had centuries to plan. He’s been operating behind the scenes since White Cell was introduced way back in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. His hopes, his vision, and his personal war to end war is finally set to culminate. The X-men, X-Force, and even unexpected allies in Fantomex and Deadpool are all that’s left. The stakes aren’t just high. They’re personal. This is Wolverine’s father, X-23’s grandfather, and Mystique’s mysterious mentor. When all is said and done, there will be scars. There will be upheavals. The course of this fanfiction series will be on a very different path.

X-men Supreme Issue 165: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 4

This arc is one of those arcs that I hope helps define the X-men Supreme fanfiction series for all the right reasons. It took a long time to build towards. I got the idea way back when I was writing X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. I spent a lot of time and energy guiding the story to this point, setting everything up for a big payoff. I try to make every issue of this fanfiction series awesome, but I try to make arcs like this feel extra meaningful.

The conclusion of Crimes Against Inhumanity will have all sorts of ramifications. Some of those ramifications will set the stage for the home stretch of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. There is, indeed, another conflict brewing and it’s one that I’ve also been building towards. However, I cannot get to that payoff without making every issue in between count. That’s why it’s critical to get feedback for every issue, especially the conclusions of major arcs like this. I implore you, the reader, more than usual to take the time to review this issue and all others. I can’t know whether or not these issues are sufficiently awesome without feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gloriously Destructive Deconstruction: Batman: White Knight #6

The following is my review of Batman: White Knight #6, which was posted on

There comes a point in a long-standing conflict where the mental and physical strain that keeps it going becomes too much to bear. It usually occurs beyond the point where either side has a chance to claim victory. At this stage, the only goal is survival, although that doesn't always entail surviving intact. Given how long Batman and the Joker have been clashing with one another, spanning deaths, resurrections, and retcons, it's surprising they haven't reached this stage sooner.

To some extent, Batman avoids this stage with all his villains. A big part of his efforts to protect Gotham and stop criminals like the Joker involves stopping them before they reach the point where justice becomes a moot point. The Joker just makes that harder than most because he goes out of his way to push Batman and everything he stands for to the absolute limit. For decades, Batman exercises superhuman discipline in avoiding the Joker's traps. That discipline finally falters in Batman: White Knight and the consequences have been both revealing and compelling.

Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth take Batman into uncharted territory, using a sane Joker to deconstruct the very principles that make Batman who he is. As a homicidal clown, Batman is able to fight the Joker's challenges directly with his long list of skills and gadgets. As Jack Napier, though, even those resources aren't enough. Since regaining his sanity in Batman: White Knight #1, Napier keeps hitting Batman in ways that no exploding whoopee cushion can ever match.

The GCPD turns against him. The public turns against him. Even his own family turns on him with Nightwing and Batgirl leaving him to join Napier's new initiative. It's not just a deconstruction of Batman's principles. It's utterly destroys all the systems and support structures that once allowed him to function. Now, Batman is no longer the savior of Gotham. He's part of the problem and Napier presents himself as the solution. In Batman: White Knight #6, they enter more uncharted territory.

Part of that story is a culmination of the process that begins in Batman: White Knight #1 with Jack Napier setting out to destroy Batman and everything he stands for. Having convinced everyone he's right and Batman is wrong, Napier leads an effort to arrest him. That effort includes some of Batman's greatest defenders, including Jim Gordon. They go along with Napier's plan, but they make clear that they hate every minute of it.

That's an important component of the unique narrative presented in Batman: White Knight. This isn't about Batman's friends and allies being brainwashed, either by the Mad Hatter or some elaborate media conspiracy. They watch what Jack Napier does and listen to what he says. He doesn't force them to agree with him. He doesn't poison them with laughing gas when they disagree either. He just puts them in a situation where they cannot escape the truth.

Characters like Jim Gordon, Nightwing, and Batgirl hate every second of it. They fight it every step of the way, but they cannot get around the implications of Napier's agenda. He gives them too many reasons to go along with him and Batman keeps giving them too few. The consequences of losing that support play out in a way that feels tragic, but predictable in Batman: White Knight #6.

For once, Batman's incredible skill, strength, and endurance aren't enough. It's one thing to escape one of the Joker's elaborate death traps. It's quite another to stand against those he considers his closest allies when they're not brainwashed. Batman does not at all come off as Batman. He comes off as someone who just can't be the same hero without all the support systems that allow him to operate. It shows that Batman is only as capable as the allies around him.

He almost comes off as inept in how he falls into Napier's trap, which feels pretty out of character for Batman. Even with the loss of some of his closest allies, he doesn't show the same mental toughness as someone who can battle Ra's Al Ghul, Killer Croc, and Poison Ivy in the same day and still keep his sanity. Some of that feels like a direct effect of Napier turning the world against him. Some of it just comes off as Batman faltering when he doesn't falter.

This part of the narrative, with Napier finally subduing Batman alongside the GCPD, contains some of the most dramatic moments of the story to date. The other part of the narrative, which involves Napier responding to a threat from the less sane, more obsessive Harley Quinn that has been running around since he regained his sanity. It's a threat that has been unfolding behind the scenes of previous issues, but unfolds just as Batman succumbs to Napier's agenda.

While this moves the story forward, it somewhat detracts from the drama surrounding Batman finally losing to the Joker. As soon as Batman goes down, he seems to lose his relevance in Napier's ongoing story, which now faces a different kind of challenge. In a sense, turning people against Batman and bringing him in is the easy part. Now, Napier has to actually demonstrate that he's right, Batman was wrong, and he can deliver where Batman failed.

It's the final step in the total deconstruction of Batman. Napier knows on some levels that even if he succeeds in taking Batman down, he'll only end up vindicating Batman if Gotham cannot handle threats that involve villains in clown makeup and giant freeze rays without him. In fact, he may end up empowering Batman even more if he shows he cannot deliver. It's a stressful situation for someone whose sanity is always in question. His ability to handle that situation remains uncertain, even with his sanity intact.

In a sense, Batman: White Knight #6 encompasses two distinct stories. One is the culmination of Batman's world collapsing around him and the other is a setup for Napier's ultimate test. One is heavy on drama, but the other somewhat distracts from that drama. It still makes for a powerful, compelling narrative that undercuts Batman's core identity. Some of that narrative, however, gets undercut by Napier's own evolving conflicts.

The ending still provides compelling insights that hint at the growing instability of Jack Napier's efforts. He's succeeding in his efforts to ultimately defeat Batman, but it's not without complications and for once, those complications don't involve a shortage of clown makeup or exploding cupcakes. Whether or not Jack Napier can succeed where Batman fails will prove whether such deconstruction is ultimately good for Gotham or just another bad joke.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, March 2, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 165: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 4 PREVIEW!

Throughout the history of Marvel Comics and the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, there have been incidents where it’s painfully clear that nothing can ever be the same again. It’s one thing to just stop Dr. Doom from taking over the world, prevent the Brotherhood of Mutants from crashing a Dazzler concert, or thwart one of Mr. Sinister’s experiments. Winning those battles doesn’t involve much aftermath. The world basically continues as it is.

Then, there are events like Secret Wars, House of M, Overlord, and the election of President Robert Kelly in which there’s no undoing the upheaval. Things are going to change in a major way. There’s no way around it. There have been many such moments in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide being the most recent. That moment, which set the stage for X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, split the X-men into two teams, one led by Charles Xavier and one led by Cyclops. That division has left the world vulnerable.

It was only a matter of time before someone attacked that vulnerability. Sebastian Shaw tried and failed during the events of the Drug War arc, but that conflict only set the stage for a much bigger battle with Romulus, the father of Wolverine and the leader of White Cell. As a villain, he has a somewhat shaky history in the X-men comics. In this fanfiction series, however, his efforts and his vision promise to shake the X-men, X-Force, and everything in between to their core.

The Crimes Against Inhumanity arc will likely be another one of those critical turning points for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’s one of those moments where nothing can be the same again. There’s no going back. There’s no undoing the damage that Romulus did. Going all the way back to X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths, I’ve been setting up Romulus’ plan. He’s been silently working behind the scenes, manipulating the Wolverine, Weapon X, the X-men, and the governments of the world to carry out his vision. That vision is dangerously close to being realized.

It has already claimed casualties, as we saw in the Unholy Man arc. It promises to claim many more as Romulus’ armies of Weapon X drones roam the world, destroying every major defense system more advanced that a spear. He’s not just trying to win the conflict with humans, mutants, and the X-men. He’s trying to end all conflict, but on his terms. It’s the vision of a dangerous man who has shown a willingness to torment his own children to see it through. The clock is ticking and the final showdown for that vision is set to unfold.

Make no mistake. The world of X-men Supreme will never be the same after this. Characters like Mystique, Wolverine, X-23, Cyclops, Charles Xavier, and so many more will face some hard challenges and harder questions in this final battle. What happens to them and what happens to Romulus will shape the course of this fanfiction series for a long time to come. As always, I’ve prepared a preview of just how big this final battle will be.

“These men…are too…strong,” grunted Colossus, who was locked in a grapple with one of the warriors.

“They’re fast too,” groaned Psylocke as she missed one of the warriors with her psionic blades and got a heavy dose of telekinesis in the process.

“I get it, guys. You don’t need to keep reminding everyone!” said Captain Freeman while narrowly avoiding a claw slash.

“Argh! Well…I think…it bears…repeating, comrade,” said Colossus as he took an optic blast to the head, “What we are doing is clearly not working,”

“Even I need time to adapt!” grunted the Green Beret, “Any luck on your end, Xavier?”

“Not the kind I would prefer, Captain,” said Professor Xavier, who was concentrating while a couple of MSA agents defended him, “These men have telepathic abilities. They’re blocking me out and trying to attack with probes of their own. I can barely keep my own shields up.”

“Well, we better find another way soon!” said Psylocke as she narrowly avoided an optic blast, “Once these blokes run out of equipment to destroy, they’ll only have us left to target.”

Professor Xavier felt a thick sweat form over his head. His psychic attacks yielded no results. The minds of these warriors were built like Wolverine’s, except they had their own telepathy with which to fight back. They were like computers carrying out a program and with the destruction in the Pentagon, they were definitely succeeding.

Colossus, Psylocke, and Captain Freeman continued incurring injuries. Captain Freeman had adapted his body to become more durable. One of the warriors fought back by rapidly teleporting around him and striking him with head blows. Two more did the same with Colossus, utilizing more optic blasts to wear him down.

They even seemed to use his metal form as a means of destruction, blowing him back against any piece of heavy equipment that wasn’t easily destroyed. The warrior taking on Psylocke didn’t try to match her agility. While she attacked with her psionic blades, the warrior simply used telekinesis to keep her off her feet and slam her against nearby walls.

“Hnn…is it too late to swap powers, Colossus?” groaned Psylocke, now with a dislocated shoulder.

“I don’t think metal skin would fare much better,” grunted Colossus, falling to his needs after taking an optic blast to the head.

“We’ll have to fall back,” said Captain Freeman, “We can’t save this area, but the least we can do is-UNGH!”

The Green Beret was cut off when one of the warriors struck his legs with a wave of telekinesis, tripping him so that he fell flat on his face. The warrior made sure he stayed down by driving his claws into his upper shoulder, wounding the mutant soldier in a way that was difficult to adapt from.

With Captain Freeman and Psylocke injured, the mysterious warriors turned their attention towards Professor Xavier. He was still guarded by a couple of MSA agents who anxiously fired back with their weapons. None of their shots landed. The warriors didn’t even notice when they incurred a wound. With perfect coordination, they used their telekinesis to disarm the agents. This left both them and Xavier vulnerable.

“My rifle!” shouted one of the agents.

“Whoa! Looks like you’re on your own here, Xavier. This was not part of our training,” said the other.

“I need more time,” said the Professor intently, “Too much time to make sense of it all!”

The two warriors used their telekinesis again to shove the two MSA agents out of the way. Their eyes glowed red as they prepared to attack the Professor with an optic blast. Xavier was forced to stop his psychic probe. His only option at this point was to run, but he was unlikely to get far.

‘No…it can’t end like this. Is this going to be the legacy of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative? Failing to stop an attack that crippled the world?’

The warriors were about to attack. Then in an unexpected turn, their eyes stopped glowing and they froze where they stood. For a moment, they looked like computers processing a new set of commands.

“Emergency Protocol Omega initiated. Returning to core for Defense Strategy X,” they said in perfect unison.

Then as suddenly as they appeared, the four masked warriors teleported away. They left behind a decimated MSA control hub and many unanswered questions. Colossus, Psylocke, and Captain Freeman emerged injured and confused. General Grimshaw and several officers rose up, taking in the damage that they had just incurred.

“Talk to me, Xavier. What just happened?” asked General Grimshaw.

“I’m…not entirely sure, General,” said Xavier as he did a quick psychic scan, “I detected a brief psionic signal. It seemed to come from all directions. I disappeared too quickly before I could make sense of it.”

“I sensed it too, Professor…in addition to my shoulder popping back in place,” groaned Psylocke, who was helped up by Colossus.

“You’ll have to make sense of it later,” grunted Captain Freeman with blood dripping from his mouth, “We’ve got a hell of a mess on our hands.”

“Something tells me, it is much worse than we expect,” said Colossus.

It wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. No one dared contest it as they struggled to process what just happened. Everyone was just beginning to catch their breath. Then General Grimshaw’s cell phone went off.

“I presume that’s the president,” said Professor Xavier.

“You really are the world’s greatest psychic, Xavier,” said Grimshaw as he recognized the number, “If he’s able to call, then something must have changed on his end as well. He’s going to want answers. For all our sake, someone better figure them out.”

It's moments like this with X-men Supreme that I find uniquely satisfying. There have been only a handful of big battles like this where I take my time to set up a huge, game-changing battle like this. It’s not something I want to force or rush. It’s one of those things that deserves time, energy, and just the right kind of emotional payoff. That’s what I believe will make this fanfiction series as awesome as it deserves to be.

I intend to make an extra effort to ensure the conclusion of the Crimes Against Inhumanity arc matches or exceeds the other moments I’ve crafted within this fanfiction series to date. I want this moment to enrich X-men Supreme to new levels. To do that, I need plenty of feedback. I know there has been another surge in spam lately. I am doing what I can to temper that, but I will still sift through as much of it as I can to find that feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issues. Either way is fine and I appreciate any support you can offer. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Royal Vulnerabilities and Regal Strength: Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1

The following is my review of Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1, which was posted on

In the vast, diverse structure of the fantasy genre, there are few concepts more straightforward than that of royalty. Whether it's part of the vast world-building carried out by the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings or the bloody feuds that fuel Game of Thrones, the roles associated with royalty tend to be the simplest part of the narrative. There's a king who rules a kingdom with a queen at his side. If there are any princes and princesses involved, then chances are that'll be a source of conflict.

In recent years, thanks largely to those same blood feuds that play out in Game of Thrones, these structures of royalty are getting an overdue dose of complexity. It's no longer enough to just craft stories around a king who rules, a queen who supports him, and bratty children who whine about who's in line for the throne. It's now more likely to see queens fighting to play a more active role in royal affairs, often beyond those of just managing said bratty children.

Few queens enjoy a greater sense of equality with her king than that of Mera, the wife and companion of Aquaman. There are plenty of jokes about Aquaman, his role in the Justice League, and his ability to talk to fish. Few, however, dare to joke about Mera. She's not just a queen, a lover, and a spouse. She's a powerful character in her own right who has always been able to hold her own against the many threats that plague the DC universe. She won't just support her king. She'll make him stronger while showing off her own strength.

Given these trends in the fantasy genre, Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1 is coming along at the perfect time. Between Disney movies featuring more princess that don't need rescuing, Mera is in prime position to show that she's the kind of queen who can hold her own in any kingdom, from Mount Doom to Westeros. Dan Abnett and Lan Medina put her in a position where she does not have the usual resources, privileges, and servants of a typical queen.

However, she still has the kinds of roles, responsibilities, and vulnerabilities that plague all levels of royalty. There are no dragons or magic rings involved, but Mera's tenuous predicament helps flesh out why she's better-equipped to handle royal responsibilities than most. The story surrounding that predicament spin right out of the ongoing events of Aquaman. These aren't trivial events either. Atlantis is in the midst of a civil war that has already stripped Arthur of his crown and Rath, a man who treats royal power like cheat codes on a real-time strategy game, is now king.

The events of that conflict are still unfolding, but Mera finds herself stuck on the sidelines due to an injury that forces her to remain on the surface, away from the battle, and away from Arthur's side. It's a difficult position, one that requires more than just waiting. Due to the same royal traditions that make civil wars so common in the first place, Mera is still the official queen of Atlantis while Arthur is technically deposed. That technicality means Mera is more vulnerable than most royal figures with one too many jealous siblings.

Abnett and Medina don't give her much time to heal or enjoy her time away from the civil war. She's the target of assassination almost immediately, requiring her to defend herself at a time when she's severely weakened and without support. Even so, she still manages to hold her own. She still shows that she's every bit as capable as Aquaman, even when he's not there to support her. She proves that she's the kind of queen that every idealistic princess wishes hopes they can be before they end up having to marry their cousin.

Mera surviving on her own, at a time when powerful people have more incentive than usual to kill a queen, also provides greater insight into the kind of character she is. Throughout the story, these insights explore Mera's burdens and ambitions. For those who only know Mera as the redheaded mermaid woman who fights beside Aquaman, it provides layers and complexity to a character who rarely gets a chance to shine outside of being a wife and queen.

At her core, Mera embodies the old royal traditions of duty to the letter. She starts out as an assassin on behalf of Xebel, a hated rival of Atlantis. She ends up falling in love with Atlantis' future king, only to take on the role of a queen. She acknowledges these duties and the burdens behind them. However, she never whines about them or uses them as an excuse to become bitter. She's the complete antithesis of every evil Disney character that goes onto become an evil king or queen. The burdens of royalty do put stress on her, but they don't break her spirit.

In another testament to her royal strength, Mera doesn't let others do the fighting for her. When Superman and Wonder Woman show up to offer help, she refuses. It never comes off as an act of royal snobbery either. She understands how royal conflicts need to be resolved. Bringing outside forces into the mix only tends to create new complications and new conflicts. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the fantasy genre or a marginal understanding of the history of Medieval Europe can appreciate that approach.

The narrative in Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1 makes abundantly clear that Mera is the kind of queen everyone can root for. She's someone who deserves that title. It's not necessarily a question that needed to be asked or answered. While that undercuts some of the tension, it's still worth reinforcing, especially with the major reveal at the end that promises to test Mera even more. How this plays into the ongoing events in Aquaman remains unclear, but it ensures she'll remain a target.

At the same time, it ensures that much of the conflict in Mera: Queen of Atlantis will remain linked to the civil war playing out in Aquaman. While that helps provide a sense of context to the series, it also hinders certain aspects of the story. It's a story that really can't stand on its own without a basic understanding over those events. Abnett and Medina make a concerted effort to fill in some of those details, but while they help provide connective tissue to those events, they don't necessarily carry the same weight.

In a sense, Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1 is very much a metaphor for Mera's character. Her story is closely tied to that of Aquaman's. As a character, she stands on equal footing with him in terms of strength, spirit, and ability. In terms of her own personal story arc, though, she's still dependent Aquaman's narrative. That still doesn't take away the substance of the story in Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1. Mera is still very much the kind of queen that anyone would be happy to serve. In an era where evil queens and sadistic kings are more prevalent than ever, it's pretty refreshing.

Final Score: 7 out of 10