Waging Peace in X-Men Red Annual 1

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“I was the Phoenix. I burned so brightly. Then I was dead. And everything was dark.”

Jean Grey, X-Men Red (2018) Annual #1

Writer Tom Taylor starts this issue with the narration above, quickly summarizing the tragic arc of Jean Grey. It was a violent life, and the bullet points of her story are mostly bummers. Over Scott Summer’s grave, Jean promises that this time is going to be different, and this annual is all about what that might look like. Taylor and artist Pascal Alixe offer an issue full of love, understanding, and difficult conversations. Jean’s still here to win, but it’s not war she’s waging. It’s peace.

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Nightcrawler 1

Alternating Currents, Nightcrawler 1, Scott and SuzanneToday, Scott and Suzanne are discussing Nightcrawler 1, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Scott: He’s back! The recent Amazing X-Men arc found Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler, being brought back from the dead, an excellent set-up for a new Nightcrawler title. Nightcrawler 1 not only reintroduces Nightcrawler to the land of the living as the star of his own series, it reunites him with ex-X-Men writer Chris Claremont. There’s a lot of catching up to do, and Claremont seems more interested in writing about Nightcrawler the way he remembers him, rather than concentrating on the things that have happened to the character in the interim. Repercussions of Kurt’s death and new life are strangely absent, making for an uneven and perplexing first issue. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 15

all new x-men 15

Today,  Shelby and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 15, originally released August 7th, 2013.

Shelby: No one knows better than I the importance of taking a break every once in a while; heck, I took several writing breaks before I even started this post. But seriously, it’s important to take breaks to keep from getting burned out, and the same applies to comic books. Stories take little breaks with what we call “hang-out issues,” where the bulk of the plot consists of the characters hanging-out. The beauty of the hang-out issue is, when it’s done well, we get a story break AND character development. Artists take breaks too, but the obviously visual nature of art can make an artist break more jarring and disruptive. This month, Brian Michael Bendis gives us a story break as we wait for Battle of the Atom to start, and David Lafuente gives Stuart Immonen a break on pencils; the result is a story which feels very different from what we’re used to in All-New X-Men.

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X-Men 3

x-men 3

Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing X-Men 3, originally released July 31st, 2013.

Shelby: I hate a story that drags on too long. As a creator, it’s important to be able to edit yourself; you have to know where you want a story to go and be able to recognize when it gets there. At the same time, it’s just as frustrating as a reader when the story feels rushed. If I’ve settled in to savor a story as it unfolds, a sudden, “…andthenthegoodguyswinordidtheytheend,” is incredibly unsatisfying. A full-stop, wrap-it-up conclusion to a story arc just leaves me feeling confused, like maybe I missed an issue or something. As excited as I have been for Brian Wood’s X-Men, the end of the first arc has me feeling just that: confused and unsatisfied.
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X-Men 2

x-men 2

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Matt are discussing X-Men 2, originally released June 26th, 2013.

Patrick: Until you see it in action, a movie-monster isn’t that scary. You can hear whisperings about the monster’s insatiable appetite, and come across the ruins of the encampment that it has savaged, but it doesn’t really mean anything until you see the Alien burst violently out of your buddy’s chest. Remember how Scream started? With the killer toying with and brutally murdering the biggest name on the marquee. Whatever else was going to happen from that point forward, the audience knows the killer means business. Last month, we got an abstraction of a conflict – a storied shitty history between cosmic siblings. Faster than we can really deal with it, the conflict is in our laps, and everyone gets a good look at what Arkea can do. Consider me convinced: she’s a problem – one X-Men might not be up to solving. Continue reading

X-Men 1

Alternating Currents: X-Men 1, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing X-Men 1, originally released May 29th, 2013.

Drew: Anticipation is often the enemy of objectivity. Not that I can ever claim to be all that objective, but it can be difficult to evaluate a work on its own merits when expectations have been allowed to brew for as long as they have for X-Men 1. Since the announcement of this title, the all-female cast has been cited for everything from pandering to its female audience to serving as a rare bastion of female role models in comicdom. But, are any of those things what writer Brian Wood and penciller Olivier Coipel actually set out to do? Does that matter? Art shouldn’t have to answer for what people turn it into sight-unseen, but its difficult to talk about this series without some reaction to the expectations it was released into. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tie it back to the series itself. Continue reading