Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Uncanny X-Men 35, originally released July 22nd, 2015.
Patrick: Mutants are among the more malleable allegories in comics. As a class of people persecuted for something they can’t control, they’ve acted as stand ins for racial minorities, religious minorities, disabled peoples, homosexuals – anyone with any kind of outsider status. But they’re also useful for other political debate: gun control, freedom vs. safety, etc. In one of his final issues writing the X-Men, Brian Michael Bendis employs a rarely-tapped metaphor and uses one of his own Mutants to tackle a topic that is decidedly apolitical, and casts an unlikely X-Man as the furthest thing from “outsider” you could imagine. It’s a delightfully simple slugline: what if Goldballs became famous? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men Annual 1, originally released December 24th, 2014.
Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
Emma Coates, “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling”
Drew: This is a pretty well-worn axiom of fiction writing, and while I don’t have any qualms with the assertion that good coincidences are bad, I think it’s important to acknowledge that bad coincidences aren’t necessarily good. We’re all familiar with how deflating a Deus ex Machina resolution can be, but I firmly believe that an arbitrary, unlikely problem — a Diabolus ex Machina, if you will — can be just as bad. Actually, it might be worse; while we might understand a writer painting himself into a corner (thus requiring a miracle to get out of it), there’s no such justification for a coincidence up front. The arbitrary rules of sci-fi technology has always been a pet peeve of mine, but as the laws governing time-travel take center stage in All-New X-Men Annual 1, the conflict became a full-on Diabolus ex Machina, derailing what could have been a thrilling, emotional journey. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 25, originally released April 9th, 2014.
Taylor: They, the ever shifting and nebulous authority that knows more than us, is always saying that hindsight is 20/20. Once events have played out, we know exactly what we should have done in a given situation to obtain our desired results. It’s a damned feeling; there’s nothing you can do about it but you kick yourself for not doing the right thing. This feeling is often so frustrating that it can keep us up at night, pondering the grand “what if?” While that can be crushing, just imagine what the feeling would be like if perhaps you could change the past, if only you thought about it hard enough. Hank McCoy (the one in his proper time) knows this feeling and All-New X-Men 25 shows us just how deep and dark that hole can be.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Uncanny X-Men 17, originally released February 19th, 2014.
Drew: What would you do if you found yourself lost in the wilderness? It’s the kind of thought experiment that captured my mind as a child. I’m sure the survival skills I cobbled together from movies and second-hand stories from friends wouldn’t have gotten me very far, but I liked to imagine that I would be cool and in control. I still find myself mentally preparing for similarly absurd hypotheticals (where would I go if there was a zombie apocalypse?), but experience has made it clear that decision-making tends to be impaired by the heat of the moment. That is, you may know you’re supposed to turn into the skid, but there’s a pretty big gap between what you know and what you’re actually capable of when in a state of panic. The only way to practice working under pressure is to actually be under pressure, which is exactly what Uncanny X-Men 17 is all about. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Ethan are discussing All-New X-Men 21 and Uncanny X-Men 16, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Taylor: Ah, the father/son relationship. Daddy issues have basically been around since the birth of man, both literally and figuratively so it’s no wonder they often pop up in the stories we tell one another. After all, who hasn’t inherited some odious trait from their father or wished they had a better relationship with the man? So rich is the vein of paternal relationships that it can told time and time again and still be entertaining. Throw in a dash of mutants and a pinch of augmented super powers and you got yourself the makings of an interesting story. Given these ingredients, you think it would hard to cook up a story that resound with its fan base. However, in All-New X-Men 21 this proves to be the case. The story is a bit bland and one you slog through just for its narrative nutrients.
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Ethan discuss Thunderbolts 18, A+X 14, Superior Spider-Man Annual 1, Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe 2, Young Avengers 12, Uncanny X-Men 14, X-Men 7, and X-Men: Legacy 20.
Drew: Our Infinity-fatigue is pretty well catalogued at this point, but Charles Soule continues to find a fresh angle in Thunderbolts 18. Where other series are preoccupied with piecing together a monolithic narrative by retracing the same steps, Soule has stayed very street-level, keeping his team focused on the mission at hand, even as New York crumbles around them. They manage to succeed in that mission in spite of each of them being focused on their own problems. Indeed, with a significant portion of the resolution arriving via the coincidental overlap of those problems, this series feels all the world like the superhero version of Seinfeld. Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Taylor are discussing All-New X-Men 18, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Ethan: The best part of being in a relationship is that you get to spend so much time with the one you love. The worst part of being in a relationship is that you get to spend so much time with the one you love. For the X-Men, isolated from the world by that tricky little accident of being born with the X-gene, their ties to each other are incredibly strong. It’s no surprise that they so often find passionate love and lifelong friendship inside their circle. Just like any family or couple, though, they often drive each other completely crazy. Breathing room is hard to find when you’re all stuck in the same space, whether it’s a mansion or a mountain bunker, and All-New X-Men #18 explores how they fight, how they cope, and how they move forward.
Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing Uncanny X-Men 8, originally released June 10th, 2013.
Are there demons? Please no Dormammu please no Dormammu please no Dormammu… Oh, thank God.
-Fabio “Gold Balls” Medina
Patrick: Scott Summers and the New Uncanny X-Men have spent the last three issues stuck in purgatory. I’m being literal, but what the hell – it’s a metaphor too. The fall-out from the Avengers’ battle with the X-Men has left the mutant leadership in ruins, their superpowers in shambles, and even fractured our heroes’ goals. Illyana Rasputina Conquers Purgatory featured some fantastic art; Frazier Irving rendered Dante-level hellscapes marvelously, but the story had started to spiral around obscure minutae of the Marvel world, all personified by Dormammu. Fabio starts the issue basically praying to be done with Dormammu – when he opens his eyes to see a familiar sight, home, his relief is our relief. The X-Men are back where they belong. Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 6, originally released May 22nd 2013.
Ethan: One evening in college, I was getting ready to turn in a paper that was due the next day. It was all written & polished, so I was just going to skim it one last time and make sure there weren’t any glaring issues. As the file loaded, Word showed a popup window, which I dismissed without reading in the same way you click “I agree” at the bottom of Terms & Conditions. Computers are always showing popup messages, right? They’re usually redundant, whatever. The first page of my paper rendered as a solid mass of gibberish: letters, numbers, and symbols smashed together without spaces… as did the rest of it. 15 pages of junk characters. Alarmed, I closed the file without saving & re-opened it; it turns out that the popup window was warning me that the file was corrupted. As I sat there, in the fading light of the last day before I had to turn this thing in, I thought about what it would take to reproduce the paper from scratch: all the quotes, analysis, and dozens of footnotes containing the specific page references. All of which didn’t exist anywhere else, neither as a hard copy nor digital. While I knew I could pull it together again given some time, in that moment I was overwhelmed with trying to figure out how I was going to make the situation work. While writing a paper isn’t quite the same thing as fighting a giant, fireball-headed master of a hell-dimension, the characters in Brian Michael Bendis’s Uncanny X-Men 6 are definitely up the creek without a paddle (OR MLA-formatted citations).
Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing Uncanny X-Men 5, originally released April 24th 2013.
Ethan: Each of us has at least two definitions of self – the one we show to the world, and the one we identify as our true self. The external definition — the mask — is usually a tool we use to fit in. Perhaps your mask is funnier than you believe the “real” you truly is, or more confident, or more flippant, or more compassionate. Some of us may present a version of ourselves that is not too different than the one we believe to be true; others of us may show a face that’s more dramatically different than our internal, hidden one. Whatever the distance between the public and private self, whatever qualities you infuse into this living theater of personality, you — and only you — can fully plumb the difference. That is of course, assuming that you know who the “true” you is. In Uncanny X-Men #5, Brian Michael Bendis begins to peel back the figurative and literal masks worn by Magik, reminding us of her past and exploring the present condition of the rebel mutants.