Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

tripping the force magnetic pt. 2

continuing our look back at a '90s classic (if we can call it that).

Fatal Attractions
Uncanny X-Men #304 "For What I Have Done"
Scott Lobdell/John Romita Jr/Jae Lee/Chris Sprouse/Brandon Peterson/Paul Smith
and another 198 inkers including the great Dan Green

it must be a big boost to Magneto's ego, that all through the years fighting the X-Men, they always draw him alone against everyone. despite having a bunch of lackeys at some point or another, the most powerful images are the ones that depict Magneto standing tall and firm against Xavier's children. if you root for the underdog without having any background information, you'd side with the Magster. how many X-Men does it take to defeat Magneto? all of them, apparently. and they still never conclusively do so.

the Fatal Attractions crossover began with X-Factor and X-Force, where those teams ran afoul of the reborn Mags and his Acolytes led by his new lapdog, Exodus. the Acolytes, under lameduck leader Fabian Cortez, were unsuccessful in recruiting Quicksilver to the cause, and Cable got dismantled but not discombobulated in rescuing his charges from the influence of the magnetic field. Magneto now turns his attention to the real X-Men.

but before that, we have to check how Magneto's return from the dead affects said lameduck.

facing a mutiny, Cortez is helpless as his former charges almost beat him up and as they leave. he tries to take out his anger at the newcomer Exodus but he is hopelessly outclassed. i never really understood Cortez' mutant power (extending another's?). so he's a booster. that's really lame. and only Jean Grey gets the honor of not needing a code name, Fabian. you suck.

Wikipedia reports that Cortez has , after years of painful repetitive resurrections and betrayals (his modus operanda), finally bitten the dust. but i guess they took that from the official Marvel site. though i won't be surprised he's just really laying low and assumed this identity.

Magneto, meanwhile, does another one of his patented long-winded monologues. it doesn't matter what size the audience, be it hundreds or just himself. the audience believes him.

god, he must work out a lot. yeah, that's what supervillains do when they're sidelined as the world thinks they're "dead".

speaking of dead, something is dying inside Colossus as he mourns his sister Illyana (a.k.a. Magik) who recently died of the Legacy Virus (the Marvel equivalent of AIDS, cured a decade later through the efforts of Hank McCoy, the late Moira McTaggert, and ironically - pun intended - Colossus himself). he pushes away everything that matters to him, including his then ex- Kitty Pryde.

Illyana's funeral was a big thing to me then, but actually the real tear-jerker was Uncanny #303. yes, i am in touch with my feminine side. now get off my case before i slice and dice you.

speaking also of slicing and dicing, Warren Worthington III - a.k.a Angel - was still blue and metal-winged back then, capable of slicing and dicing just like Wolverine. here even his looks could cut someone to pieces.

the way he sounded, its as if the X-teams usually coordinated with each other. hyeahright. and he seems shocked and indignant that X-Force didn't call for help. hello, we can barely make sense of the rigmarole of who's on which team (did they put him on the Blue Team just because its easier that way?).

so be careful of what you wish for, Wings ...

over at the other end, Xavier's attempt to console Peter backfires badly.

i half-expected Peter to push Xavier out of his wheelchair. now that would've been a scene! Colossus has always been the good sheep of the X-Men; imagine him now as angry loose cannon.

which is just about the exact time Magneto drops by for an appearance. two things to note here:
  1. the jerk doesn't even pay his respects to Illyana, once upon a time a favorite student
  2. in the 5 minutes he was delivering this speech, the gathered X-teams could have kicked his ass back to outer space

first order of business: show 'em who's Boss. even if it means pulping one of your own soldiers (R.I.P. Senyaka. not.). Boss!!

Magneto drops the Big Reveal - he has a badass space station. Xavier counters: "I have a 1 TB Sh'iar iPod!". Magneto cries and stomps his feet.

anyway, the Acolytes now ascend to their new home (this religious theme is going too far). Magneto asks Xavier to join him. but really - cupping his chin? that's so ... Zac Efron.

'make love, not war', they said. so Rogue tries that tack, but kisses mean nothing to the Boss! he's the BOSS!!!

Magneto holds down everyone by sheer force of magnetic will (Fe in blood, so goes the popular explanation then) and preventing everyone from accessing his or her mutant power. but Bishop's power is a reactive one - he absorbs that same energy and uses it to free his pals, then everyone piles on Magneto. like we said earlier, it always takes everyone ...

then Scott Lobdell springs the not-so Big Reveal ... Colossus turns traitor. Bishop would go into traction for a month at least. this would all have been avoided had they taken down Magneto during his speech (that could be a YouTube parody).

Colossus gets beamed up to HMM Avalon, and Xavier is forced to remote control Magneto, and fling himself out into spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace. i'm not sure how the Bald One managed to be in one piece without burning up on re-entry into our atmosphere before being rescued by Warren. that being said, the events here already hint as to what's coming.

next: bring on more X-Men!

the end of the innocence

is this the final issue of Heroes for Hentai Hire?

getting involved in World War Hulk was much more than they bargained for, especially if it makes Shang Chi, who reeks of 'peaceful martial artist bar none', do this:

who cares about Humbug anyway? (the original Bug of the Micronauts and current player in Annihilation: Conquest is much more interesting) oh well, at least Shang still has Tarantula, right? right?

too bad it does end like this ... hey, wait, is it really the end? they canceled NextWave and now they're canceling this? c'mon, guys!

its been a long hard road since they started a new era.

speaking of World War Hulk, i didn't even know it ended until somebody made a (cough, cough) compilation ... damn, Bruce, what a way to go. hope you wake up when World War Skrull begins.

Heroes for Hire #15
Zeb Wells, Alvin Lee, Leonard Kirk, Ale Garza, James Cordeiro, Terry Pallot

Monday, November 19, 2007

tripping the force magnetic pt. 1

back in the '90s, i latched back into comics even though i didn't have the cash to get really serious about it. i think it was because my college years were a kind of sabbatical, thus i missed a lot of stuff. (Robin died! or maybe not.) but i guess the itch came back, everyone's favorite merry band of mutants were on animated form, and the rest is history.

missing out on reformation/splitting of the X-teams (Jim Lee crafting his legend, Chris Claremont bidding adieu), i landed right in the middle of the Fabian Nicieza/Scott Lobdell run, and the return of Magneto. say what you will about '90s comics then, but the X-crossovers, convoluted as they may be (thank you, Bob Harras), were major events not to be missed. in fact, the rest of the year became filler or stage setups for next summer (which has been more or less rectified these days, no?).

after Magneto's much-hyped demise in the first story arc of the adjectiveless X-Men, we learn that he's not really dead (ho-hum) and is back with a bigger bunch of losers called the Acolytes. the biggest loser of them all, the tastefully-named Fabian Cortez (sorry, Mr. Easterbrook), actually had the cojones to usurp Magneto's position and cause, and its just a matter of time before he gets found out. but in the meantime, he goes about his business, acting all high and mighty, ordering the other Acolytes about, and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Fatal Attractions
X-Factor #92 "The Man Who Wasn't There"
Scott Lobdell/Joe Quesada/J.M. DeMatteis/Al Milgrom

boasting a superb wraparound cover by current Marvel EEK Joe Q, with the requisite gimmicky enhanced hologram, #92 ushered the end of the first Peter David era (awwwww), and the start of the DeMatteis run. Quesada's trademark flowing/suspended hair and tiptoe stance is in full force here. but you can't deny the man can draw. if only he did a lot more of that these days.

the story opens with a nurse narrating how the Acolytes hack and slashed their way through an ER (ummmm ... because they didn't treat a mutant?) and poignantly asking how could Magneto inspire such passionate murderers. Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff to you non-existent Transians) in his most serious good guy role in years (he's obviously back to being a jerk these days), has no answer himself. its obvious that he's torn with the burden of his pop's legacy on his shoulders and his own individual pursuits of power. but he doesn't shy away from being worshiped by his pop's followers.

the Acolytes have mostly a flair for the dramatic, which is obvious when they discuss things among themselves or burst through a wall ala Kool Aid guy. they probably have degrees from this prestigious institution and extensive training with this company. when it comes to brawling though, they're still in kindergarten.

Cortez wants to raise his profile, natch, which is why he wants to make a statement by randomly killing flatscans (that's "non-mutant humans" for you, human), and striking a blow for the mutant revolution. target: a seemingly-abandoned military base. but its just a setup so he can convince Pietro to join him.

X-Factor shouldn't even be there, if Havok didn't follow his instincts and trail their guvmint liaison Val Cooper and Pietro to Camp Hayden. and when they find out that the base harbors a bunch of Sentinels for the much-whispered Project: Wideawake (another black ops mandate to wipe out illegal immigration, but the text was changed to read "mutants"), and the Acolytes start their Kool Aid thing, all hell breaks loose. Despite Chris Claremont's departure from writing the X-books, his influence is so prevalent that profuse verbal jousting is second nature to two super-powered combatants exchanging punches and kicks.

but there are some good fight scenes here - despite the inclusion of annoying bounty hunter Random, he gives the team some badass presence (sorry, Guido, you're strong, but you're a strong clown). but speaking of badass, who would have thought resident jokester Jamie Madrox (the Multiple Man, leader of the team's 2007 incarnation), could fight dirty? classic.

the fight ends more in X-Factor's favor, as Pietro spurns Cortez's offer, and the Acolytes' Mellencamp bites the dust. rumor has it that this character was originally the American country /pop sensation, until he devolved into a lizard-like beast. hating the fact that he can't perform in public anymore, he joined the Acolytes. there is no explanation as to who is this doppelganger who assumed the mantle and created that annoying song for weekend football, shilling for Chevy.

more revelations are in order as the team learns their high and mighty connection to Uncle Sam, Val Cooper, has known about Project: Wideawake all along. but i'm more interested in their choice of hair products; look at Pietro's hair - it makes Superman's spit curl look so dated.

and thus they exit stage a la-Reservoir Dogs set to Kill Bill music. you know how that goes.

X-Force #25 "Back to Front"
Fabian Nicieza/Greg Capullo/and around 198 inkers

the New Mutants became a misnomer after issue #100, because you can't have almost the same cast of characters for that long and still be called "new". enter the craptacular 4 million-issue -selling force known as Rob Liefeld, and comics will never be the same again (actually, it did - remember his return a couple of years ago? you don't. i don't either.). X-Force became the poster kids for running away from home and doing it their way.

in the aftermath of Liefeld's acrimonious departure from Marvel, Fabian Nicieza took the reins and had a somewhat passable run. in their contribution to this crossover, a new Magneto disciple, Exodus (did they even have a character named Excrement? no? why not?), extends another invitation to Xavier's second generation to join Magneto in a place called Heaven. who is this crackhead and why are they even listening to him? wait ... wasn't Fabian (Cortez, not Nicieza) the salesman doing the rounds? what's going on? ahh, the magic of disjointed storytelling, which we will honor by explaining everything in the next post. if ever.

let's backtrack a bit. fleeing Xavier's coop, this particular generation of mutants had other teachers, notably the villain of this piece, and the gun-toting time traveler Cable (ah, but it turns out he's so much more). Cable appeared from the future to lead this ragtag group of tweenies and then disappeared from this era in pursuit of his clone Stryfe (ah yes, Marvel's stupid fascination with clones and dark halves), who attempted to assassinate Charley (to those who are familiar, that was the previous year's crossover). and now he's back in our timeline. that's why they shout for joy, sing his praises, lift their voice, unto the ... ok forget it.

i mean, look at how they express their happiness with Cable's return.

ah, families.

we also see genuine warmth from others who share Cable's vision of "shoot first, shoot again, shoot later".

but then, everybody brings out the tissues when Samuel Guthrie (a.k.a. like a "Cannonball"), de facto leader of the group (when the teacher isn't around), goes all weepy in having his nth foster father realize that there is so much more to them than soldiers waging war (i guess punching Cable brought him to his senses). this also means someone will be telling him stories at bedtime, instead of doing it for the other babies in this dysfunctional family.

of course, family reunions don't last too long, as this cunejo named Exodus shows up, ostensibly to hand out invitations in the name of Magnus ("harbinger of the magnetic storm" ... all of Magneto's salesmen have great language skills but just average selling skills).

among the few invitees are Sam and Roberto "Look at Me Wrong and I'll Kill You" DaCosta. as to how the hell Exodus transported them up there to 'Heaven', you tell me. before leaving though, Sam surreptitiously gives Cable a tracer to track him (Sam), an action with which his mentor is visibly pleased. wait, if you want somebody to track you, shouldn't they plant a tracer on you?

so Cable and the others follow, and Cable throws a hissy fit when he finds out that 'Heaven' is actually his space station (with an electronic butler/friend named "Professor", no less), appropriated by Magneto. this gives him more motivation to kick some doors down, and shoot first, shoot again, and shoot later.

of course, Sam the Centrist talks him down from the ledge. regardless, Cable activates his teleport tech ("bodyslide") and moves his students back to Earth. that done, it's ... CableTime!!

that pose above is the result of Magneto finally showing his purple- and red-clad musclebound 50 year old bod ... see how Cable gets excited?

of course, that excitement kind of dulls the intelligent brain cells, as he conveniently forgets that he, a partial cyborg, has no business going up against somebody who can control magnetic forces.

Magneto may be correct in pointing out later that Cable won the philosophical battle, depriving him of the chance to get Sam and the others on his side, but Cable surely lost the physical one, getting reduced to spare parts (rehab was gonna be a bitch).

next: bring on the real X-Men!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

welcome back

remember when they went carousing in a New York bar, helping out a young woman find her despondent near-suicidal boyfriend, and beating up a lot of tough guys until dawn? now that was a party!! can someone let me know what comic that was?

nice to see you again, F.H.V.

Thor #4

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

the shape of things to come

the Illuminati have gathered one more time, despite the Civil War and World War Hulk (since that series isn't over yet in real-time, we know from looking at these pictures that the principals haven't died - or even mangled badly). this time, a blast from the past is brewing and it may tie in to the events just concluded.

the Elektra Skrull has been brought to Tony's attention, and now they may have a bigger problem than the two previous crossovers. yes, its another invasion, and may even trump the previous Annihilation arcs (i wonder how those two barely crossed with what happened on Earth, save the one time Nova came over to visit his parents).

why don't you shut up, Tony ...

... because Black Bolt has something to say.

yes, i cringed as well. you know what was coming.

shoot. now everyone could really be a frakking Skrull. take that, Cylons!

after dispatching the Skrulls with a couple of nuclear power plants, Tony resumes his its-the-end-of-the-world lecture again. of course, he immediately ruled out the hiring of Gaius Baltar to create a Skrull-identification machine.

of course, Prince Namor will always try to have the final say.

i know who you can trust: the original Super-Skrull. he's fighting on the side of the angels now; get him down here and ask him questions. if he's part of the whole thingamajig, then just send him off to the Negative Zone.

Thor's around, so maybe they can call on him. hey, they need the Hulk here too! it worked in the Ultimates.

New Avengers: Illuminati #5

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

tunnel vision

i knew there was a reason, all these years, that Cyclops is my favorite X-Man.

quick recap: the X-Men get involved in a planetary war between earth and the alien inhabitants of Breakworld, whose technologies have resurrected the once-dead Colossus as an experiment. the aliens want to off all earth mutants because it is prophesied that their world would be devastated by one - and ironically it turns out to be Colossus himself. pursued by the megalomaniac Warlord Kruun, a de-powered Cyclops buys time for the team by taking them on his own, and last we see, he gets jettisoned from his ship and left for dead in the blackness of space. but these are the guys who resurrect dead people.

oh, and everything was just ensemble acting worthy of Oscars and Emmys.

yeah, so the boy scout is turning out to be a worthier leader than his mentor Professor Chuck.

this stunt even earns the occasional grunt of respect from Logan, who has grudgingly accorded Scott that in those few times the writers get it right. and damn, Joss Whedon gets it right, with his nod to exciting space opera (Firefly/Serenity, anyone?) and last-minute saves.

John Cassaday's art gets dirtier and murkier but he's still #1 in my list.

and yes, its a cliffhanger. hope Whedon and Cassaday stay on for another 24 issues.

Astonishing X-Men #23

Saturday, November 10, 2007

have gun, will shoot rival

cheating is bad, even it happens in a potential timeline in the future yet to be realized.

and Reed Richards has the best solution for it.

Namor, T'Challa and Victor Von Doom travel from the future to warn Richards about disastrous consequences of his plan (one of his hundreds of mathematical posits) to save mankind. it was all civil enough until the knowledge that Sue would leave him for Namor comes to light.

i am loving this Dwayne McDuffie run of the FF.

Fantastic Four #551