Good vs. Evil in Astonishing X-Men 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“Good vs Evil” implies that there are two sides — two warring factions — battling for the fate of the world. It’s a compelling image: a battlefield with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Good and evil are separate forces, and in our imaginations, represented by two different groups of people. While Charles Soule and Gerardo Sandoval’s Astonishing X-Men 12 still gives the reader avatars of light and darkness in the forms of X and The Night King, the armies fighting for each side are made up of all the same players. Old Man Logan is both a reformed ally-murderer and an irredeemable death machine; good and evil waging war within one mind. Continue reading

A Mid-Issue Shift Elevates Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 2

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 2

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

Listen, I know there were crime procedurals before Law & Order (and there have been plenty since), but that show was such a mainstay of my formative pop-culture years that I can’t help but think of it every time I encounter a new fictional criminal investigation. What’s remarkable to me about that show is how entertaining it could be in spite of having an entirely rote structure (it was so set in stone, in fact, that they decided to enshrine it in the very title of the series). That is, the drama was never in whether they caught the culprit (they always did), or whether they would be convicted (they were found guilty or pled out the vast majority of the time), but in how they did it — or more precisely who was doing it. Individual details of the case might be interesting, but only inasmuch as they prompted quips from Briscoe or righteous indignation from McCoy. The procedural is an excuse to watch detectives do what they do best, so giving those detectives big, distinct personalities makes or breaks the whole exercise. In this way, Charles Soule has truly stacked the deck in his favor, cramming four larger-than-life investigators into tight quarters and giving them a hard case to chew on. Continue reading

Compassion is the Greatest Weapon of All in X-Men Red 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

A few weeks ago in X-Men Red Annual 1, Jean Grey met a bigoted anti-mutant protester and showed him kindness and compassion, relating to the turmoil and abuse he dealt with in his home life and continuing to worry about him long after their meeting had come to an end. Compassion continues to be Jean’s weapon of choice in Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s X-Men Red 5, and it’s a weapon she’s more than capable of deploying against an entire army. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Shifting the Narrative in Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Mystery in Mardipoor 1

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

The Bechdel Test

Drew: This particular Dykes to Watch Our For premiered in 1985, and its premise is still ringing in the ears of writers and readers everywhere. Now known as “The Bechdel Test,” these criteria insist on something beyond simple representation (though it’s remarkable how many films fail to satisfy even that first requirement), aiming for a dialogue that features no males (even as subjects of conversation). And that last bit is a huge stumbling block for narratives to this day. Plenty will feature two women and even manage to put them in a scene together, but the conversation will still revolve around the male characters. It’s the kind of problem you might expect to plague any all-female tie-in to the “Hunt for Wolverine” event to suffer from — Logan is necessarily absent, but that fact is likely to be the subject of discussion — but Jim Zub and Thony Silas manage to shift the focus in Mystery in Madripoor 1, pulling the story in totally unexpected directions. Continue reading

X-Men Red 4 Battles Real-World Threats

by Drew Baumgartner

X-Men Red 4

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

Comics have always reflected our real-world fears — from inner-city crime or nuclear panic — by heightening them to exaggerated extremes. Except, I’d argue, when it comes to the X-Men’s persecution. Sure, the X-Men’s superpowers would qualify as an “exaggerated extreme” of the types of differences that normally mark a minority class, but it’s straight-up not possible for writers to come up with more exaggerated ways societies persecute their minorities. From apartheid to lynchings to genocides, there’s nothing the X-Men have faced that real-world minorities haven’t already suffered, grounding even their most fanciful stories in sober reality. It’s a fact that Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar have leaned into from the start of X-Men Red, lending the series a “ripped from the headlines” approach that is truly unique in superhero comics. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 35: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: I think I may have missed the mark a bit when discussing last month’s installment of All-New Wolverine. I claimed that “Old Woman Laura” was a story about redeeming Bellona and defeating Doctor Doom, the last tyrant left in a world that’s otherwise an utopia, but Tom Taylor and Ramon Rosanas have proven me wrong in All-New Wolverine 35, the series’ finale. Those are a part of this adventure, to be sure, but only a small part. What this story is about — what it’s always been about — is giving Laura Kinney the happy ending she deserves.  Continue reading

A Bait-and-Switch in Hunt for Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda 1

By Spencer Irwin

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

There’s a joke amongst fans that if a team exists in the Marvel Universe, Wolverine has been a part of it. This is an exaggeration — it’d be funny to see him joining up with the Champions or Young Avengers, but it hasn’t happened yet — but only slightly. Logan’s prolific stature in the Marvel Universe is what allows for an event like Hunt for Wolverine, which rounds up as many characters with connections to Logan as possible, no matter how tangential, from every corner of Marvel’s vast universe. It’s a bit of a bait-and-switch, as bringing in all these characters has so far (in the two issues of Hunt for Wolverine thus released) led to stories that are rather light on Wolverine himself. Tom Taylor and R.B. Silva lean into that idea in Hunt for Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda 1, pulling a bait-and-switch on their cast as well as their readers. Logan’s former New Avengers teammates think they’re rescuing Wolverine(‘s genetic code), but it turns out they’ve stumbled into a very different, much more personal scenario. Continue reading

Assembling the Team in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 1

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

There’s something fun about watching a team put itself together. It lends urgency to everyone’s presence, making their utility to the team explicit in a way that isn’t inherently true of pre-existing teams. That is, while Iceman is coming on this X-Men mission whether or not anything needs to be iced, Danny Ocean is only adding someone to the team if their skills are essential to the plan. With so many pre-existing teams in comics, we don’t always get to see purpose-built teams with quite so narrow a focus as the one in Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni’s Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost, which is exactly what makes its first issue so fun. Continue reading

The Story’s Scope is Not Well-Served in All-New Wolverine 34

By Spencer Irwin

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

I love the concept behind this “Old Woman Laura” arc. Diving into a Wolverine’s future to find a utopia is a refreshing change of pace, and a beautiful way to show how Laura’s more civil and humane approach to heroing — her attempts to be better than Logan — eventually pays off. That Laura’s final regret — and final mission — would be Bellona brings All-New Wolverine full circle in a satisfying way. Issue 34 itself has so many delightful moments; I practically squealed when Kate Bishop showed up. Yet, for everything that I love about this storyline and this issue, it also has a few major problems. A story of this scope needs more time and room to play out than it’s getting. Continue reading