Tag Archives: Cable

How Many Streaming Services Can We (Realistically) Have?

It’s official. The streaming wars are on.

Hell, it’s been official for the past several years and 2020 only accelerated it. The battle to dominate digital media in all forms is raging on multiple fronts and while many have their favorites, none can say they’ve won.

It’s Netflix versus Hulu versus Amazon versus Disney versus CBS/Viacom versus YouTube versus whatever other media companies are fighting for every possible eyeball. The stakes are high for consumers and content creators alike. There are billions in profits to be made and plenty of epic, culture-defining content to be made. It’s going to get intense is what I’m saying.

I don’t think I need to remind everyone just how much the streaming market has changed in the past 10 years. Even if you’re still a teenager, chances are you still vaguely remember the days before Netflix and chill. Media back then was movies, TV, and Blu-Ray/DVD collections. I’m not saying it was ideal, but that’s what we had to work with.

Then, Netflix came along and changed everything.

Then, every company and their deep-pocketed subsidiaries tried to catch up.

It hasn’t always been smooth. Some people are still not over “The Officeleaving Netflix. Chances are there will be more upheavals like that as companies fight over who streams what and who has the streaming rights to a particular show or movie. That’s sure to get messy and I’m not smart enough to make sense of it.

However, as this war rages, I think there’s a relevant question worth asking. It’s a question that I’m sure both consumers like me and big media companies like Netflix and Disney ask as well. The answer could depend on how the war plays out.

How many streaming services can the average customer have?

Most people already pay for some form of streaming media. Most people subscribe to some form of pay TV, although that trend is in flux. The days of having all the entertainment you want with a simple cable subscription alongside Netflix is long gone and it’s not coming back.

Now, you have to be very selective and self-aware of what you want.

Do you want access to Disney’s vast library of content?

Do you want access to the library of shows from NBC or CBS?

Do you want access to the content from Warner Brothers, Universal, Dreamworks, Discovery, Cartoon Network, or 20th Century Fox?

You can have some, but you can’t have them all without paying way more than you ever would for cable. Even if you did, could you even watch all those streaming services enough to justify the cost? There are only so many hours in a day and there’s only so much attention we have to give. Even if we dedicated half our day to binging movies and TV, we couldn’t watch it all.

That’s the big limiting factor on streaming. It’s also the biggest obstacle any company faces with respect to their effort in the streaming wars. People can only watch so much and they only have so much they can reasonably spend on a streaming service. There comes a point where, even if the content is appealing, they just can’t justify the cost.

Personally, I have subscriptions to five streaming services. They are as follows:

Netflix

Hulu

Amazon Prime

Disney Plus

HBO Max

Now, it’s worth noting that I got HBO Max through my cable subscription. I’ve subscribed to HBO for years so it’s not something I consciously sought out. With Amazon Prime, I primarily used it for the 2-day shipping instead of streaming media, but I’ve certainly found some quality shows on that platform.

I’m not sure I can justify another subscription beyond this. Once my subscriptions cannot be counted on one hand anymore, I think that’s too much. I just cannot watch enough content to warrant paying extra. I say that knowing companies like Paramount and NBC have just launched their own streaming services.

Even though both networks include shows that I love, I’ve no intention of buying their streaming service. If my cable company offers it for free, like it did with HBO, then that’s great. I’ll certainly watch it, but I’m not paying extra.

I feel like a lot of people are in that boat. If they don’t have a cable subscription, then they’re already trying to save money and paying more for a streaming package just defeats the purpose. If they do have cable, then they’re probably not willing to pay more for something they’re already paying too much for.

It’s a tougher situation and one that I’m sure will get tougher in the coming years. It’s not cheap to run a streaming service. The profit margins can be thin if you don’t have the content. There’s a good chance that some streaming services will either fail or get absorbed into another, like CBS All Access did.

Then, there are the pirates and no, I’m not talking about the ones with eye-patches.

Before Netflix streaming, pirating copyrighted content was already pretty rampant. Since the streaming wars began, there has been an uptick in pirated streaming content. That is also likely to intensify the more fragmented the streaming market becomes. If people are really that unwilling to pay a whole subscription to watch just a single show, they will resort to piracy. It’s still distressingly easy.

That’s why this question matters, both for us and the companies who provide our entertainment. I don’t claim to know how it’ll play out. By the time it settles, there might be another major upheaval in the media to supplant it. Whatever happens, I feel like I’ve reached the limit on the number of streaming subscriptions I have.

That’s just me, though. What about you?

How many streaming services do you have and are you willing to pay for another? Our collective answer could very well change the course of the streaming wars.

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New Comic Book Day December 9, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

We all have our own unique rituals for enjoying a particular experience that we’ve come to love. One of my siblings had this weird thing where he could only watch “The Sopranos” in the basement, with all the lights off, while sitting on a bean bag chair.

I don’t get it, either. It annoyed the hell out of me most of the time. Then again, who am I to judge? I’m the same when it comes to reading comics, especially in December.

I love reading comics on New Comic Book Day at every point in the year, but that doesn’t stop me from using the holidays to enhance the experience. For me, that involves turning on my Christmas lights, starting a fire in my gas fireplace, brewing a cup of coffee, and laying back in my recliner with an iPad full of new comics.

It’s basically comic book and holiday nirvana. There are no words to describe the joy, comfort, and relaxation I feel when I’m in that state. It’s one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s also one of my favorite experiences, in general.

For all my fellow comic fans out there, I’m sure you have a New Comic Book Day ritual of your own. During the holidays, you may even mix it up a bit. I encourage everyone to embrace that. When you can combine comics with the holidays, then joy of every kind will surely follow.

With that in mind, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #54

Captain Marvel #24

Detective Comics #1032

Grimm Fairy Tales: 2020 Holiday Special

Guardians Of The Galaxy #9

Juggernaut #4

Marauders #16

Mighty Morphin #2

S.W.O.R.D. #1

Star Wars #9

Superman: Endless Winter Special #1

Venom #31

Wonder Woman #768


My Pick Of The Week
S.W.O.R.D. #1

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New Comic Book Day November 4, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

We did it, America!

We made it through Election Day. I understand that can still change, but we still made it. That’s progress, in my book. I also doubt I’m alone in being relieved that we’ve finally made it through.

Now, I realize that there’s still plenty of post-election drama to unfold here in the United States. I may end up talking about that at some point. For now, I’d rather focus on something that brings objective joy to the world, namely comics.

The day after such a contentious election is the perfect day to indulge in some comic fueled awesome. I am not just ready. I need this and I suspect many others burned out on politics feel the same. The real world has been objectively awful on so many levels in 2020. An escape has never been more necessary.

That’s exactly what comics provide us. They are a simple, inexpensive joy that takes us out of this crazy world for a brief moment and into one full of wonder. I love every New Comic Day, but this particular day has never been more cathartic. To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Avengers #38

Batman #102

Black Widow #3

Captain Marvel #23

Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team #3

Dark Multiverse: Batman: Hush #1

DCeased: Dead Planet #5

Deadpool #8

Hellstrom: Marvel Tales #1

Marauders #14

Mighty Morphin #1

Red Sonja #21

Star Wars #8

Thor #9

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #1

X-Men #14


My Pick Of The Week
Avengers #38

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New Comic Book Day October 28, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

The week of Halloween is a fun week. I don’t care how old you are. If you can’t have fun on a week dominated by candy, cheesy horror movies, and women dressing in slutty costumes, then you’re just being difficult. Even if you don’t go out trick-or-treating, Halloween has a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Add a stack of new comics to the mix and it’s like adding an extra layer of icing to a cake. It just makes everything so much sweeter. Now, it used to be that comic companies would often create Halloween special issues. While that still exists for some publishers, namely Zenescope, most have moved away from that.

Even without those specials, you can usually find a few comics that fit right into the Halloween spirit. Sometimes, it’s a simple Hulk comic. Sometimes, it’s Blade or John Constantine. It doesn’t have to be horror themed, but if it’s bloody, brutal, and has lots of elaborate costumes, it’s often close enough.

New Comic Book Day is festive enough. Add a little Halloween candy and a pumpkin latte to the mix and you’re really in the spirit. This year may suck, especially for Halloween parties, but there are still ways to celebrate. Comics and candy are as good as any.

In that spirit, here is my pull list and picks for the week. It may still be a bit premature, but I’ll say it anyways. Happy Halloween!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1026

Amazing Spider-Man #51

Batgirl #50

Batman Beyond #48

Batman: Three Jokers #3

Black Widow: Widow’s Sting #1

Detective Comics #1029

Dr. Doom #8

Fantastic Four: Antithesis #3

Immortal Hulk #39

Justice League Dark #27

Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #3

Rick and Morty #1: Ever After

Shang-Chi #2

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #5

Wonder Woman #765

X Of Swords: Stasis #1


My Pick Of The Week
X Of Swords: Stasis #1

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New Comic Book Day March 11, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I’m going to sound old when I say this, but comic fan under the age of 22 has no idea how good they have it. I remember being a comic fan as a kid. There was no comic shop within walking distance of my house. The grocery store sometimes had comics, but the selection was limited. Even when I got a subscription, they rarely arrived on time in the mail.

Today, it’s never been easier to be a comic fan. Thanks to Comixology and tablet computers, you don’t even have to put pants on to enjoy new comic day. Kids will never know the agony of waiting for the mail to arrive and hoping that your books aren’t late. If it ever snowed, then you were really screwed and with dial up internet, you couldn’t even get spoilers.

Now, it’s all so seamless. You wake up on a Wednesday morning, you check the Comixology app, and you download your pull list. You can do it all before you brew your first cup of coffee. For younger fans, it’s mundane. For older fans like me, it’s nothing short of comic book nirvana.

That’s why I’m so grateful to have services like Comixology at my disposal. It makes every Wednesday morning a joyous immersion into the medium I love. Today is no exception. What follows is my pull list and my pick of the week. The fact that I can enjoy all this without putting on pants makes it all the more enjoyable.


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #41

Avengers #32

Cable #1

Ghost Rider #6

Gwen Stacy #2

Immortal Hulk #32

James Bond #4

Nebula #2

Star Wars: Darth Vader #2

Wonder Woman #753

X-Men #8


My Pick of the Week

There are few constants in the real world and even fewer in the world of superhero comics. Sure, it’s a running joke that nobody stays dead, everything reverts to a certain status quo, and a sizable number of characters are going to be Batman rip-offs, but there are still core tenants that help keep a franchise anchored to its core. For X-Men comics, those tenants are many, but include a handful of important constants.

Jean Grey never stays dead.

Deadpool never shuts up.

Gambit’s accent will always be sexy.

Cable will always shoot things with big guns.

There are plenty of X-Men comics where these uncanny themes play out in any number of forms. “Cable #1” focuses on the ones that make Nathaniel “Dayspring” Summers the battle-hardened badass that X-Men fans have celebrated since the early 1990s. For a character with such an insane backstory, it’s not easy to keep things simple. Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto manage to do just that.

However, they don’t just focus on giving Cable something to shoot with his oversized guns, although that is a major part of the plot. “Cable #1” picks up in a strange place during Cables exceedingly bizarre story, but it builds on that story in a way that’s both overdue and engaging.

The Cable who has been running around the X-Men comic isn’t the same old, grizzled Cable that Josh Brolin brought to life so masterfully in “Deadpool 2.” Instead, we’ve got a younger, bolder, and more hormonal version of the character. Some call him Kid Cable. Others call him a cocky little shit who murdered his older self. Both are equally right.

Since he first showed up in “Extermination,” his place in the X-Men’s world has been somewhat tricky. Cable has never been a team player or one to stand with the X-Men and take orders with a smile. That’s just not his style and “Cable #1” doesn’t radically change that. More than anything else, it embraces the more youthful quirks of Kid Cable while highlighting the explosive action that he often brings.

The details are simple. Cable is just one of many mutant resident of Krakoa who just happens to part of the Summers family. There’s an issue involving a young mutant being chased by a monster. Cable decides to help and brings his favorite guns. It doesn’t need much beyond that to be entertaining, but Duggan and Noto add a few extra twists that help set the stage for the character’s next upheaval.

The basics of “Cable #1” make the story entertaining, but it’s the more personal moments that make it noteworthy. Kid Cable, or whatever you want to call him, is not the same brooding time traveler who sneers at everyone. He does smile. He even flirts a little with the mutants his age. He’s even humbled somewhat when Cyclops enters the room.

These aren’t new concepts for most characters, but they’re new for Cable. They effectively humanize him in a way we haven’t seen in quite some time. You might still think he’s a cocky little shit who isn’t nearly as awesome as his grizzled self, but he’s still Cable.

He can still shoot big guns, fight monsters, and save innocent mutants. He still has the same appeal he’s had since the heyday of Rob Liefeld. Now, “Cable #1” sets the character up for a new set of challenges. Being younger and less cantankerous, it creates new opportunities for a character who hasn’t had many that don’t involve shooting things and teaming up with Deadpool.

I may be in the minority when I say that Kid Cable is growing on me, but “Cable #1” shows that his appeal has a place in the X-Men’s uncanny world. He’ll always be the grumpy old badass from the future at heart. This just gives him a chance to do more and I’m glad he’s running with it.

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New Comic Book Day January 29, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

When you’ve had a bad day, chances are it started out bad and only got worse from there. Conversely, when you have a good day, it often starts off promising and hopeful. I say that because when you’re a comic book fan and it’s Wednesday morning, you’ve already got a running start with respect to making your day awesome.

You never know how a day is going to go. You might screw up in ways that leave lasting scars. You might meet the love of your life. However, when you know that day involves new comics and all the awesome that comes with that, you have a small amount of assurance about how that day is going to go.

That’s not to say every New Comic Day is great. I’ve had more than a few that have been lousy, but that had less to do with the comics and more to do with other factors outside my control. I don’t know what factors will influence my day today, but I’m already optimistic, knowing I can wake up to a fresh stack of digital comics, courtesy of Comixology.

What follow is my weekly pull list and my pick of the week. This week was more stacked than most. That often happens on the last Wednesday of the month. I certainly don’t mind. The bigger the stack, my chances of this day being awesome. I hope other fellow comic fans out there have a similar outlook.


My Pull List

Action Comics #1019

Avengers #30

Captain Marvel: The End #1

Deadpool: The End #1

Fallen Angels #6

Justice League #39

New Mutants #6

Go Go Power Rangers #28

Thor #2

X-Force #6

X-Men #5


My Pick of the Week

Some characters will never escape the shadow of another. Robin will always be defined by Batman. Lois Lane will always be defined by Superman. Wolverine will always be defined by whoever sells him beer and whiskey. It’s not impossible to escape from another character’s shadow, but it is exceedingly difficult, even in comics.

That’s what makes “Fallen Angels #6” such a remarkable accomplishment. It’s not just the final issue of an arc that spun directly out of the events of House of X/Powers of X. It completes a personal journey for a character who, up until very recently, had been inextricably tied to another.

For years, Psylocke was Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock. Elizabeth’s story was Psylocke’s story. A big part of that story was her mind getting stuck in the body of Kwannon, a Japanese mutant with ties to secret organizations run by ninjas and crime families. It wasn’t until a few years ago during the Hunt for Wolverine story that Kwannon and Elizabeth were finally separated.

While Betsy’s story has continued in pages of Excalibur, Kwannon/Psylocke was in a strange position. She’s no longer tied to Elizabeth Braddock. For once, she can tell her own story, but is that even possible after being so closely tied to another character for years?

I admit I was skeptical, but “Fallen Angels #6” has convinced me. Kwannon can be her own character. She can also be Psylocke, too. Betsy has her own story now and Kwannon’s is worth telling too. Writer Bryan Hill redefined, redeveloped, and refocused Kwannon’s story in the span of six issues. He even managed to create new bonds with characters like Cable and X-23 along the way.

The events of “Fallen Angels #6” is the culmination of that ambitious process. Kwannon finally confronts Apoth, a being with a god complex who is also trying to define his story with Kwannon’s. It’s something she has every reason to avoid. Watching it play out is dramatic, action-packed, and beautiful.

It’s not just a satisfying ending to a story. It’s a turning point for a character who badly needed it. Moving forward, Psylocke is Kwannon and Kwannon’s story is worth telling. It’s also worth being my pick of the week. It has gods, ninjas, and explosions of all kinds. What more could you ask for?

 

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: X-Men #1

At their most basic, superhero comics involve extraordinary characters saving the day against extraordinary threats. Whether it’s battling invading aliens, fighting giant robots, or thwarting evil scientists, a simple superhero comic makes the most of this dynamic. To become something better, though, it has to do much more than the basics.

X-Men comics have never relied heavily on the basics. While they’ve fought their share of aliens, killer robots, and mad scientists, that has only ever been a small part of their story. From the early days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to the heyday of Chris Claremont, the X-Men are at their best when they’re more than just superheroes. They’re a family.

They may not be a family in the traditional sense. Then again, part of the X-Men’s defining trait is that they’re not traditional. They’re mutants. They’re outsiders. They’re different, but uncannily so. That’s the spirit that Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu capture in “X-Men #1.”

They still fight bad guys. They still save the day, living and fighting in a world that can’t resist the urge to slaughter them with killer robots. They also live, love, and cherish one another, as any other family. Theirs just happens to be more uncanny than most.

Building on the foundation that both “House of X” and “Powers of X” so masterfully built, X-Men #1” establishes how the X-Men operate in a world where they have a homeland in Krakoa and unprecedented unity among their kind. There are still battles to be fought, some of which began during the events of “House of X.” Fittingly enough, Cyclops is at the front line of those battles.

For a character who has been denigrated, killed off, brought back to life, and endlessly criticized for how he’s handled his personal life, it’s nothing short of refreshing. Say what you will about Cyclops and the questionable choices he’s made, he’s still the X-Men’s consummate leader. He always has been and always will be. It’s one of the most defining aspects of his character.

Hickman affirms that at every turn in X-Men #1.” Cyclops is the one who leads the charge against Orchis, the big human-led conspiracy to counter mutant evolution, who proved themselves quite capable in “House of X.” They may have lost a big chunk of their operation, but they’re still a threat and Cyclops leads the charge against them.

On paper, it’s simple. The way it plays out offers plenty of complexities. The exchanges between Cyclops, Storm, and Magneto highlight the strength of their personalities. They aren’t just costumed heroes saving the day. They have personal stakes in this battle and it only gets more personal at the story unfolds.

The battle they fight is only a small part of a more intimate story. Just saving the day and further crippling Orchis isn’t enough. The most endearing moments of X-Men #1” are the ones that show Cyclops living his life outside his heroic persona. They show that, when he’s not in battle, he has a home to go back to.

That home doesn’t just include his friends and fellow teammates. They include his father, his brothers, and his kids, including ones from dystopian timelines. Given the many complexities and complications surrounding the Summers family, it’s refreshing to see this family come together again. If anything, it’s downright refreshing.

It shows that the X-Men aren’t just about going from battle to battle, saving the day and stopping the next great extinction event. They have lives they wish to build. They have close personal connections they wish to foster. Beyond making them better superheroes, it helps show that they’re still very human at their core.

However, this personal touch doesn’t just apply to the X-Men, Cyclops’ family, or superheroes in general. Even their enemies have a personal stake in this new post-Krakoan world. Just as he did in House of X,” Hickman makes it clear that Orchis aren’t just another generic threat to mutants that rely heavily on killer robots. It’s personal for them too.

Many of the individuals involved in Orchis are still unknowns, but their motivations become much clearer in X-Men #1.” It’s also clear that they still have the resources and the will to become a much bigger threat. They may not be a family on the same level as Cyclops and his fellow X-Men, but they’re every bit as driven to protect it. That makes them more dangerous than any killer robot.

Overall, X-Men #1” has both the basics and the more advanced features that make for a quality superhero comic. Hickman sticks closely to the classic X-Men formula that has been subject to so many tweaks, overhauls, and upheavals in recent years. Yu’s dazzling artwork brings vibrant, colorful aesthetics to that formula. It’s as complete an X-Men comic as you’ll get without a Patrick Stewart voice-over.

It’s a bold new era for the X-Men. Hickman deconstructed and rebuilt the X-Men through “House of X” and “Powers of X.” However, the core components remain the same and as strong as ever. There’s heroics, killer robots, and sweet family moments. It’s a big part of what makes the X-Men so uncanny.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Uncanny X-Men #11

Every week, a fresh crop of new comics comes out and the world is a little bit more awesome because of it. As a lifelong fan of comics, superheroes, and many other things that the Bill Maher’s of the world despise, I take it upon myself to single out one comic from that week that makes this most special of days for superhero fans that much more memorable.

This week was a busy week with big events brewing with DC’s Heroes In Crisis story and Marvel’s ongoing Age of X-Man event. Being a lifelong X-men fan, I know I’m somewhat bias towards the X-men side of things. This week, however, I didn’t need that bias to single out Uncanny X-Men #11 as my top pick of the week.

It’s not just because this book comes on the heels of Cyclops’ latest return from the dead, which occurred in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 a couple weeks ago. It’s not just because he’s returning to a world where most of the X-Men have disappeared and been presumed dead after their battle with Nate Grey in Uncanny X-Men #10, either. What makes this comic my top pick is something far greater.

In every superhero comic, you learn the most about a character when they’re at their worst. It’s easy for any hero to shine when things are going well. When the world loves them, when super-villains despise them, and when they’re not stuck on the wrong end of a love triangle, it’s easy to seem heroic. It’s when everything is terrible and their world is on the brink that you learn who they truly are.

Uncanny X-Men #11 lets everyone know who Scott “Cyclops” Summers is. In this story, he has no X-men to lead. He has no beautiful wife by his side or buxom blonde lusting after him. His mentor is gone. His home is gone. Everything he ever fought to defend is gone. What does a man like that do in a situation like that?

He can either cower and whine or he can step up and fight. Cyclops, having gone to war with the Avengers and the Inhumans, has never been one to cower. The story that Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca tell here shows why he’s the leader of the X-men in the first place. It shows why beautiful telepaths are attracted to him. When things are at their worst for the entire mutant race, this is the man you want leading you.

If you’re a Cyclops fan in any capacity, Uncanny X-Men #11 is a must-have. However, what makes this book even more valuable is that it’s giant-sized. That means it costs a little more than the typical two to three dollar price, but you get a lot more for those few extra bucks.

In addition to Cyclops kicking ass, Wolverine has his own story that unfolds in the background. He too recently came back from the dead and has been dealing with the many complications associated with resurrection in his own series, Return of Wolverine. Having sufficiently stabbed those complications, he’s ready to return to the X-Men and he’s just in time to help Cyclops, a guy who’s wife he kept trying to sleep with.

It’s a beautiful thing, these two coming together once more in the X-Men’s darkest hour. The way it happens and the action it inspires is too great for words. That’s why I’m not going to spoil it. I’ll just say that if you’re a Cyclops fan, a Wolverine fan, or an X-Men fan in general, this comic feels like one of those books that will one day be critical in the history of the greater Marvel universe.

As it stands, the X-Men are gone and the mutant race is fading into obscurity. Rather than genocide, they’re facing a future where people simply treat mutation like a flu shot. The vaccine that was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #1 works. Parents can now keep their children from becoming mutants. While it greatly limits their chances of becoming superheroes, it ensures they can lead a “normal” life.

What does this mean for the future of the X-Men? What does it mean for mutants? These are unanswered questions that will probably linger for many issues to come, but Uncanny X-Men #11 effectively fires the first shot in a new struggle. Cyclops, Wolverine, and the rest of the mutant race aren’t content to just whither away. That’s not their style and this issue demonstrates why in so many uncanny ways.

If the measure of a true hero is determined by how they handle their darkest hour, then Uncanny X-Men #11 reaffirms why the X-Men are in a league all their own. The world may always love the Avengers, but the X-men will always command their respect.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Uncanny X-Men Annual #1

Every Wednesday, a new crop of comics enters this world and makes it just a little more awesome. Being a lover of comics in addition to a lover of love, I try to select one comic from this fresh batch that I feel offers the most awesome for just a few bucks. At a time when the economy is always on a verge of tanking, it’s hard to find a better value.

This week’s pick was an easy one with “Uncanny X-men Annual #1” and not just because I’m hopelessly bias towards the X-men, in general. This issue marks a critical development in the overall landscape of the X-men and the Marvel Universe, as a whole. As the beautiful cover art by Salvador Larroca indicates, it’s all about Cyclops.

That may not seem like a big deal for those who don’t regularly follow the X-men comics, but trust me when I say that this is a huge development. That’s because for the past three years, Cyclops has been dead in the X-men comics. In an event aptly called “Death of X,” Scott Summers met an inglorious end at the hands of the Terrigen Mists, the alien gas cloud that gives the Inhumans their powers.

His death had a major impact on the overall landscape of the X-men and very little of it was good. In the same way that the Avengers aren’t the same without Captain America and the Justice League isn’t the same without Superman, the X-men just aren’t the X-men without Cyclops. He’s literally been with the X-men since the beginning and there’s just something missing when he’s not there.

Writer, Ed Brisson, makes it a point to highlight this throughout the issue. Aside from just telling the story of how Cyclops came back from the dead, he takes some time to demonstrate why he’s the leader of the X-men. He even puts him in a position to show why he’s a hero and why other heroes follow him.

Without spoiling too much, the story builds beautifully off the events of both “Death of X” and “Extermination,” which is another brilliant X-men story by Mr. Brisson that I highly recommend. It even references moments from “Phoenix Resurrection,” another story I’ve given high praise. The connections and details in this comic fit beautifully. It shows that there was a lot of effort and thought put into this story.

As someone who has read more comics than most will ever admit to reading, I can safely say I know when a writer isn’t trying very hard. For the past couple years, a new crop of writers that include the likes of Mr. Brisson show that there’s a new round of passion surrounding the X-books and it clearly shows in “Uncanny X-men Annual #1.”

Beyond making appropriate connections to recent continuity, the story checks all the right boxes in terms of telling a quality X-men story. It even checks some extra boxes in terms of showing a character at his best when they sorely need it.

Cyclops is one of those characters who always seems to generate heated debates among X-men fans. He’s also someone a long list of talented Marvel writers have mishandled over the years. The fact he’s part of the worst love triangle of all time is proof of that. This issue cuts through those complications and just gets to the core of what makes Cyclops great.

This issue is one of those comics that will definitely have a ripple effect for future X-men comics. Any time a major character comes back from the dead, which happens a lot in X-men comics, it’s a big deal. It often marks a turning point for the course of the story and lays the groundwork for the future of the series.

By the time you finish “Uncanny X-men Annual #1,” you really feel as though you’ve just witnessed one of those turning points. On top of that, there’s a sense that this character who has been so maligned over the years for all the wrong reasons is back to his old self. If that doesn’t get your inner X-men fan excited, then you’re just being difficult.

For Cyclops fans, X-men fans, and Marvel fans in general, “Uncanny X-men Annual #1” is one of those rare books that actually gets you excited about the future. At a time when you can’t go more than a day without something terrible trending on social media, that’s worth the price of a comic book.

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Filed under comic book reviews, Jack's Quick Pick Comic

The following is a review I wrote for PopMatters for “X-Men: The Exterminated #1.”

On Melodrama and Family Ties in Marvel’s ‘X-Men: The Exterminated #1’

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December 6, 2018 · 7:53 pm