This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Does anyone remember the “flash sideways” device from LOST‘s final season? The show mined a lot of fun out of the mystery of just what the heck that other world was — a parallel universe? a new timeline? purgatory? — but I never really found the guessing all that fun, as the magical/metaphysical nature of that particular mystery meant that any and all of those things could be equally right. I tend to feel that way about most mysteries that delight in building up red herrings to look as likely as the ultimate answer (perfectly demonstrated in Clue‘s multiple endings; the culprit can only be found by the movie telling us whodunnit, not through any deductive work on our own), but it’s particularly pronounced in stories with a fantasy or sci-fi element that might defy our own experience of the world. That is, if we’re operating in a world with a magical island, is it possible to rule out even the most absurd theory? These are the thoughts running through my head as I read Phoenix Resurrection 2. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Inhumans v X-Men 6, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
“You guys… who are the good guys?”
Ms. Marvel, IvX 4
Patrick: Kamala’s rhetorical question at the end of issue 4 might have been meant to highlight the idea that there are no “good guys” in war, just people living out of various levels of desperation. And that’s definitely true of both the I and X Camps — these are peoples who believe that their survival is contingent on the destruction of the other. What they’re willing to do to each other is resultant entirely from the treat they perceive from their enemies. In effect, everyone is retaliating, acting in self-defense, and therefore the answer to Ms. Marvel’s question is “everyone.” But that’s not true, is it? There is one agent of aggression who has been manipulating all players, X-Men and Inhuman alike. And that person — the sole “bad guy” — is Emma Frost, who defines her identity by the fear she experiences as a mutant. It’s a heartbreaking fall from grace as the long-suffering White Queen finally succumbs to paranoia and unequivocally cedes the moral high ground. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing IvX 0, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: I don’t know much about my ancestry or heritage other than the fact that I’ve got blood from at least six or seven different European countries in me (I’ve been known to describe my ethnicity as “White Mystery”). Combine that with a family that’s never been all that worried about tradition and you get a guy who just doesn’t care about his culture (if I could even be considered as having one). This is absolutely not the case with the mutants or the Inhumans, though; although the two groups’ concepts of culture and tradition differ greatly, they’re absolutely vital to both camps. That’s something Charles Soule and Kenneth Rocafort make abundantly clear in IvX 0 — the conflict that’s been brewing between them isn’t really about the literal deaths of individuals anymore, but about the possible figurative death of their very ways of life. Continue reading →
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, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Deadpool 8, originally released March 2, 2016
Patrick: Every couple years, Drew and I end up having a conversation about the “death of irony” or the “death of sincerity” and every time we have it, we’re basically blowing smoke out our asses. Concepts like “irony” and “sincerity” need not be mutually exclusive – in fact that’s where most genre fiction rest: comfortably in both camps. A superhero comic in 2016 wears the trappings of a superhero comic because its creators and its audience simultaneously love and are bored by those trappings. That puts a character like Deadpool in a tricky spot, when it seems like his mission statement is to subvert what is gradually becoming the insubvertible. Deadpool’s popularity almost works against him in this regard – how can you continue to classify him as a misfit underdog if everyone loves him? And then there’s the wildly successful Deadpool film, catapulting audiences acceptance of the Merc with the Mouth to meteoric heights. Writer Gerry Duggan and editor Jordan D. White act as Deadpool’s tonal shepherds in this series, keeping the character’s aims purely subversive, the key difference is that the subject they’re subverting is no longer as broad as “comics” or “superheroes” or “the 90s” – the subject is Deadpool.
Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 40, originally released April 22nd, 2015.
Ryan: All-New X-Men 40 set the internet abuzz. People who have never picked up a comic book are posting about it. Reputable media outlets such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and even Buzzfeed wrote responses to the issue, inspiring a great deal of debate on message boards and comment sections, alike. Can you blame them? It is not every day that a seminal comic book character, one who is universally adored, receives a fresh start and is looked at with a contemporary — if not somewhat controversial — perspective. The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud A. Asrar accomplish exactly this as they reveal that (SPOILER ALERT!)…Random is back, and he brought Boom-Boom, Karma, Masque, Madison Jeffries, and Elixir with him!! Oh, and apparently young Bobby Drake is gay. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 35, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Ryan: The “how” of All-New X-Men 35 may come off as complicated, but is fairly straightforward compared to some of the dimension and timeline hopping we have seen recently. With the grown-up, 616-proper X-men all converging on the last will and testament of one Charles Xavier, the temporally and dimensionally-displaced All-New (plus X-23) find themselves in the Ultimate Universe thanks to the powers of a new mutant named Carmen. These X-men find the heroes on Earth-1610 still recovering from the devastation of Gah Lak Tus’s attack during Cataclysm, and a general populace wherein mutants are not only marginalized, but actively outlawed. See? Simple. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Scott are discussing Magneto 1, originally released March 5th, 2014.
Taylor: I’ve always been intrigued by villains. From an early age I remember being bored with the rudimentary morals most heroes possess. Instead, I gravitated to the other side to the spectrum, choosing to root for the bad guys. I found Cobra Commander fantastic, Megatron enviable, and Darth Vader the most impressive person I had ever seen. Something about their ruthlessness always drew me to them. These aren’t simple men — they have agendas and were willing to do anything to see them carried out. Yet each character also possesses a certain cerebral quality that sets them apart from your average thug. It’s this quality that draws me to these characters and it also happens to be the same quality that draws me to Magneto. He’s smart, ruthless, and devoted. But can an entire series based on this metal-bending character be sustained by these qualities alone?
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.