This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
One of the frustrating things about our currently social and political landscape is that the generation pulling our country to the right was once a force for radical social change. When the baby boomers where hippies, they believed in equality and rejected conformity and corporatization. They championed peace, both as an antidote to war and on its own merit. We can argue about the efficacy of that countercultural movement all we want, but the point is that they were idealistic once. Somewhere over the last 50 years, peace and love turned into opportunism and xenophobia. To this point, the original X-Men have been spared this curmudgeonly fate. Introduced as avatars of otherneess in 1963, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Warren Worthington and Bobby Drake have such a long way to fall. Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman’s Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 shows this corrupting influence in action, slowly radicalizing the most level headed, unimpeachable voices for equality in the marvel universe.
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Death of X 4, originally released November 23rd, 2015.
Patrick: At the risk of making a statement that’s been made a million times already: 2016 has been a hell of a year for high-profile deaths. Calling them “celebrity deaths” would be underselling it — figures like Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro and Prince virtually changed the fabric of reality simply by existing in it. But for all their earth-shifting influence, their deaths were all quiet, ultimately meaningless affairs. These revolutionaries did not die they way they lived, which is to say, their deaths made no specific statement. Bucking the trend, was David Bowie, who had released an eerie, melancholy record in the final weeks of his life. Bowie knew that his life was performance – it was challenging and honest – and that his death should be the same. In Death of X 4 Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule close the book on the life of Scott Summers, insisting that he die the way he lived, a revolutionary, even if that’s a performance he was never putting on.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Deadpool Annual 1, originally released September 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: As a kid, I was a cartoon addict. I would wake up at 6:00 am every day for the sole purpose of watching cartoons for an hour before school. Needless to say, Saturday morning cartoons were like manna from heaven for me. Being young, I watched these cartoon shows for hours on end indiscriminately. In retrospect, much of the shows I watched were truly awful, sporting low production values and shoddy writing at the best of times. Still, I fondly remember these cartoons, and I’m willing to bet most children of the ’80s look back on these cartoons through a rosy lens like myself. In the Deadpool Annual, writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn take a look back at these shows and wonder what would happen if the Merc with the Mouth had gotten his own crack at Saturday morning.
Today,Taylor and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 600, originally released November 4th, 2015.
Taylor: In my junior year of college I took a creative writing course that required each student to have at least one of their stories workshopped. This involved everyone in the class reading your story and then picking it apart in front of you during class. All the things your peers thought about your story, both good and bad, came out during this process. I remember it being a humbling and somewhat traumatic experience. It’s hard to put something you created out there in the world for everyone to scrutinize and it takes a thick skin to not let the negative comments beat you down. In Uncanny X-Men 600, the final of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the series, Beast is put on trial by his peers for actions. In doing so he attempts to defend his actions and those of the author who gives him life. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015.
“Oh, best war ever…”
-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1
Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 33, originally released Ocotber 29th, 2014.
Taylor: A sense of belonging is important for our day-to-day lives. The city we live in, the place we work, where we sleep, and who we interact with are in some way or another based on our desire to feel we belong. Now, whether this sense borders on the quasi-mystical or is a simple impulse to feel comfortable is unimportant. Rather, humans being social animals just want to belong to part of the whole. When you’re a mutant, however, finding a place where you feel that sense of belonging becomes all the more difficult. It’s hard to relate to others when they very may well despise you (and also when they don’t know what it’s like to levitate and the like). The All-New X-Men, more so than their regular X-Men counterpart,s know this quandary, as they’re displaced in time along with being displaced socially. So what happen’s when their sense of belonging is stretched even further? Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 28, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Taylor: Madness fills an interesting role in our imagination. Just enough madness and you’re considered a genius. A little too much madness and you’re considered a nut. We tend to think of someone as being “mad” if they have any of a number of mental defects but retain enough of their personality to still be somewhat coherent. Perhaps the most well known madman of all time is Ahab. His singular quest to destroy the white whale consumed his entire life, even if he did retain the vestiges of a sane man. And that’s perhaps what makes him such a disturbing character. Despite (or perhaps because of ) his madness, he is charismatic. We forget that he’s insane sometimes and actually feel that his quest against Moby Dick is justified. Xavier is similarly hell-bent on killing the X-Men of the past, and similarly might have good reasons for wanting to do so. All-New X-Men 28 has me wondering if this quest is the errand of a madman or the product of love gone awry.
Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing All-New X-Men 26, originally released April 20th, 2014.
Patrick: Superheroes are tools. No, not the “Superman is such a tool” kind of way, but in that they are all able to act as narrative and emotional shortcuts. Between shapeshifters and psychics, healers and teleporters, extra-dimensional sorcerers and reality-manipulators, there’s really nothing that the X-Men aren’t capable of. The brevity with which they can be used to evoke emotions might be even more impressive — just think of the ennui immediately invoked by the appearance of Jean Grey, or the uneasy sense of righteous revolution that accompanies Magneto. Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men seems designed to celebrate this tool box: bring the original quintet of X-Men to the present day brings all of those emotional shortcuts to the fore. Issue 26 might be the first time Bendis actually uses those tools, instead of laying them out neatly for us to all to quietly admire before putting them back in their protective cases. 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 Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 24, originally released March 12th, 2014. This issue is part of the Trial of Jean Grey event.
Drew: As much as I can understand the appeal of seeing your favorite superheroes fight, the strained justifications for why they were fighting in the first place always got in the way of it being any fun. Shouldn’t Superman have heard of Batman? Shouldn’t they know they’re on the same side? These problems are exacerbated in cohesive publishing universes where you can confirm that, yeah, every hero should basically have heard of every other hero by now. Brian Michael Bendis discovered a creative end-run around this problem in All-New X-Men — the time-displaced original X-Men ultimately missed a LOT of introductions to Earth’s superheroes — which finds its logical conclusion issue 24 as they face off against the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. I mean, honestly, how would they know they were on the same side? Continue reading →