Tag Archives: Krakoa

New Comic Book Day May 27, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week (And An Attempt At Normalcy)

For the past two months, it seems everyone is longing for or agonizing over a sense of normalcy. They look back on the days of being able to go to a movie theater, sit inside a crowded restaurant, or smell someone’s breath while they stand in a crowded subway car. While that last one might not be that fond a memory, it still symbolizes the same idea.

We miss that sense of normal. Even if the concept of “normal” had its problems, as it often does, we miss it. We’ve all spent the last two months enduring extended isolation while watching increasingly grim news surrounding a global pandemic. People don’t agree on much, but they can agree that this abnormal experience sucks.

I’m of the opinion that we can never truly go back to the “normal” we once knew. I’m also of the opinion that “normal” is an overrated concept. At the same time, I long for some aspects of that pre-pandemic world. That’s why the prospect of New Comic Day returning is such a relief.

It’s still not back to full capacity, but it’s getting there. Books that were supposed to come out back in late March are finally starting to hit both comic shops and Comixology. This week marks the first week where all the major comic companies make a concerted effort at returning to normal. I can’t speak for all comic fans, but I’m rooting for them to succeed.

As part of that effort, I’ve assembled a pull list and pick. It’s still too early to call this a return to normal, but I’ll take it.


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #43

Aquaman #59

Avengers #33

Batman Beyond #43

The Flash #754

Marauders #10

Go Go Power Rangers #31

Supergirl #41


My Pick Of The Week
Marauders #10

There’s an inescapable law in superhero comics that’s right up there with characters not staying dead or Deadpool being annoying. If you invent a certain technology that can be used by villains, then there’s no uninventing it. You can scrub your computer. You can burn on the schematics. You can even try to mind-wipe everyone you told about it, which is possible in worlds that have telepaths.

There’s no getting around it. Some asshole will find it and use it to inflict harm, suffering, and chaos. That’s a lesson that Forge, and all of Krakoa, learn in “Marauders #10.” For the last several issues, someone with ties to corrupt, mutant-hating Russians has been using power dampening technology to abduct mutants and harass Krakoan exports. It has cost Krakoa money and it may have cost Kitty Pryde her life.

I say “may” because X-Men comics have really twisted the meaning of death and dying after “House of X/Powers of X,” albeit in a very awesome manner. However, Kitty’s status among the living is only secondary. What happened to her is just more motivation for Emma Frost and the rest of the Marauders crew to get back at the Russians who think they can get away with trolling Krakoa.

It’s a serious effort that has serious ramifications for Krakoa’s emerging status among nations. That doesn’t stop writer Gerry Duggan and artist Stefano Caselli from having fun with it. This isn’t some standard clash where the X-Men take down a few evil minions and blow up a few killer robots. There’s some real strategy and cunning employed.

By that, I mean Emma Frost weaponizes her tits in battle.

Yes, that really happened.

Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

Naturally, Emma Frost steals the show, but there’s a bigger picture in “Marauders #10” that goes beyond stopping a bunch of renegade Russians. It’s another step in Krakoa’s growing pains as a nation. Mutants have established themselves as a world power. They’ve shown that they have valuable resources to trade.

Naturally, those resources are going to come under attack. Like any nation, Krakoa has to deal with competitors, enemies, and rogue elements from unfriendly nations. When mutant powers are involved, both the threats and the geopolitical implications are compounded. Smaller conflicts are now much bigger in scope.

It doesn’t help that things like power dampening technology and mutant killing robots are still out there in the world. Chances are the schematics are available on the dark web for a few bitcoins. When mutants were just scattered or on the brink of extinction, these dangers were localized. Now, they’re a matter of geopolitics.

That’s the kind of world that the X-Men live in now and “Marauders #10” builds on it. There are still plenty of obstacles for the X-Men and Krakoa to deal with. Some will be harder to overcome than others, as the loss of Kitty Pryde has shown them. However, even if they can’t undo technology like Sentinels and power dampeners, they can still fight through it and thrive.

It’s a testament to both Krakoa’s emerging power and Emma Frost’s uncanny tits.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day March 25, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

What do you do when you can’t go out to a movie, hit the gym, watch sports, or hang out at a bar? That’s not a rhetorical question. Seriously, what do you do? It’s a wholly relevant question when you’re living through a global pandemic and happen to be in an area that’s on lock-down. As I write this, pretty much everything is closed except grocery stores, hospitals, and gas stations. It’s scary and more than a little frustrating.

Thankfully, Wednesday morning still brings a brief reprieve in the form of new comics. It’s one of the few things I can still look forward to, although that might not be the case for much longer. I’m already bracing myself for the idea that new comics might be delayed because of this crisis. For a lifelong comic fan, it’s an inconceivably terrifying thought.

For now, though, New Comic Day is proceeding as usual, thanks largely the wonderful folks at Comixology. Seriously, these guys are a big reason why comic fans like myself can still enjoy this weekly batch of awesome that so enriches our lives. I really hope things continue to operate on their end without a hitch. There’s only so long a guy can last without new comics.

As such, my pull list this week is a little bloated. Does this count as panic buying? Yeah, it probably does. No, I’m not going to apologize for it. When every day brings terrible news about a worsening crisis, I think that kind of buying is forgivable. Please keep that in mind as I share my list and my pick of the week.

Stay safe and wash your damn hands!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1021

Amazing Spider-Man #42

Batgirl #45

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #8

Batman/Superman #8

Detective Comics #1021

Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1

Hellions #1

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #49

Rick and Morty #60

Star #3

Supergirl #40

Wolverine #2

Wonder Woman #754

X-Men #9

X-Men/Fantastic Four #3


My Pick of the Week

What does a fair, just, and functional society do with their most deviant citizens? It’s a very relevant question for the real world, as well as the world of superhero comics. Ever since the famed Golden Age of comics, that question has been largely overlooked. Most stories end with the heroes throwing the villains in jail, getting a pat on the back, and telling kids to eat their vegetables. It’s simple, comforting, and frustratingly inane.

Then, a book like “Hellions #1” comes along and decides to stop running from that question. On top of that, it even dares to have fun while trying to answer it. After all, comics should be fun. They can also answer profound questions about the endless pursuit of a better society. It just takes the right kind of story and that’s exactly what writer Zeb Wells and artist Stephen Segovia set up.

The world of mutants and the X-Men have faced massive upheavals since the events of “House of X/Powers of X.” With the founding of Krakoa, mutants aren’t just looking to survive the endless attacks of killer robots, hateful humans, and superhero civil wars. They’re looking to build their own society and establish their own culture. It has been an arduous process that has spanned many books. “Hellions #1” is now part of that effort.

Specifically, it addresses the inescapable question of what to do with the mutants who aren’t necessarily supervillans, but are as mentally unstable as Deadpool in a chimmichanga factory. Many have popped up in various parts of X-Men lore. Most casual fans won’t know who Wild Child, Empath, Scalphunter, Nanny, and Orphan Maker are. However, you don’t need to know who they are to follow the story. You just need to know they’re crazy, violent, chaotic, and they have mutant powers.

While it would be easier for the powers that be on Krakoa to just shut them out of their growing society, that wouldn’t fit with their ideals. They founded Krakoa to help all mutants and not just the ones who look good in yellow spandex. That includes the psychopaths.

Wells and Segovia put together a quirky, but entertaining ensemble of characters together. They feel less like a superhero team and more like a collection of irritable psychopaths who just need something to do to keep them from being too psychotic. Fittingly enough, Mr. Sinister is tasked with doing just that, complete with the blessing of Charles Xavier, Magneto, and the rest of Krakoa’s leadership.

On paper, it sounds like the kind of thing that can only end in unmitigated disaster. In practice, it’s still a messy disaster, but one that can be aimed properly. Under the watchful supervision of Havok and Psylocke, this new team of Hellions is tasked with channeling their psychotic tendencies for good. It’s one of those ideas that sounds so crazy that it has to work.

Wells and Segovia don’t just throw this new team into the nearest conflict involving killer robots or angry aliens. Like many other X-books since “House of X/Powers of X,” there’s a legitimate effort at world-building and depth. There’s motivation, purpose, and vision behind each decision. The fact that psychotic mutants often make for hilariously entertaining moments is just a nice bonus.

It’s an approach that feels distinctly different from what petty, unevolved humans do with their deviants. If the final page of “Hellions #1” is any indication, there will be ample opportunities to test that approach. It’s bound to be chaotic, messy, and mentally unhinged. That’s exactly what makes it so entertaining and my pick of the week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day February 26, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Everyone has their vice. Some are more destructive than others. There’s no question that crack and heroin are more damaging than a spicy foods and late 90s boy bands. Some are only destructive to your wallet. In that sense, I’m lucky my vice is comics. Say what you will about the cost of a collector’s item. It’s still cheaper than cocaine, cars, and caviar.

Wednesdays are the days I know I’ll blast a hole in my wallet. When I was in college, new comic day almost always coincided with Ramen Noodle day. I don’t doubt that dining on cheap food had an impact on my health. For a fresh stack of comics, it was worth the stomach pains.

I’m not in college any more and I don’t have to plan new comic day around cheap meals either. For that, I’m thankful. I’m also thankful that as my financial situation has improved, I’m able to better absorb the weekly splurge I often do at the comic shop and on Comixology. It makes new comic day that much more enjoyable.

In terms of vices, it’s plenty manageable. Sometimes, the message boards are a little dramatic and so is social media. It’s still a price worth paying. Some weeks cost more than others. This week is definitely one of them, but considering what I get from that money, it’s still a bargain.

With that in mind, here’s my pull list and my pick for the week. My wallet may be hurting, but I’ll manage.


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #40

Avengers #31

Batgirl #44

Batman/Superman #7

Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey And Emma Frost #1

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #48

New Mutants #8

Rick and Morty #59

Star #2

Wonder Woman #752

X-Men #7

X-Men/Fantastic Four #2


My Pick of the Week

When you’ve been a fan of a particular comic or franchise for years, you get a sense for which issues will be controversial. It doesn’t always involve character deaths or betrayals, although that is an all-too-common trope. In fact, those that don’t involve character deaths tend to be the most controversial because they raise difficult questions that even long-time fans struggle to answer.

That’s exactly the kind of controversy that I imagine “X-Men #7” will inspire. It’s one of those books that introduces concepts that are sure make certain fans feel uneasy, but for entirely nuanced reasons. This goes far beyond Charles Xavier lying to the X-Men or Wolverine sleeping with Squirrel Girl. Writer Jonathan Hickman is taking the X-Men into some very morally gray areas that are sure to have larger consequences down the line.

There’s a context to those actions and one that has a basis in the founding of Krakoa. It’s established in “House of X/Powers of X” that creating a powerful mutant nation isn’t enough. Mutants are still a vulnerable species. They’ve been decimated through acts of genocide and de-powered through reality warping. To realize their potential, they need to get take back what they’ve lost.

However, doing so requires a somewhat distressing recourse, to say the least. It involves a process they call Crucible. It’s nothing what it sounds like. I won’t spoil it, but the goal is simple. It gives mutants who have been de-powered a chance to regain their powers, but how they go about it raises some serious moral dilemmas.

It’s a dilemma that some veteran X-Men, namely Cyclops and Nightcrawler, have mixed feelings about. It also raises questions about Krakoa’s resurrection protocols, which they’ve both experienced at one point. They act mostly as observers because as distressing as Crucible is, it’s something that de-powered mutants freely choose and who is anyone to question their choice?

It still feels like the X-Men are crossing some lines in their effort to make mutants stronger. It also raises more concerns about the nature of Krakoa and how the X-Men are going about realizing their goals. Years from now, “X-Men #7” might be one of those comics that acts as a turning point in a larger narrative. Hickman has never shied away from bold ideas, but this might be his boldest to date.

There are many concepts he’s explored since Krakoa’s founding in “House of X/Powers of X.” Many others are hinted at in “X-Men #7,” including some innuendo with Cyclops and Wolverine I’m sure will get a certain sub-set of fans talking. The X-Men franchise is entering uncharted, morally ambiguous territory. If nothing else, “X-Men #7” makes clear that there’s no going back and that’s why I believe it’s my pick of this week.

That said, it might be a good idea to avoid comic book message boards for a while. It’s going to get heated.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day February 5, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

If you’re a football fan, this week is one of the most bittersweet times of the year. The Super Bowl is over. Even though it was an awesome game with an incredible halftime show that pissed off the right snowflakes, there’s no getting around the truth.

Football season is over.

Assuming you’re not willing to give the XFL a chance, we’re officially in the dead zone of sports. Until March Madness rolls around, there isn’t much to get excited about. If, however, you happen to be a comic fan as well as a sports fan, then you’re perfectly equipped to endure this distressing stretch.

For comic fans, there is no off-season. Every Wednesday is basically game day for us. Not every Wednesday is the Super Bowl, but some are more eventful than others. They may not include an incredible halftime show, but they include Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, Jean Grey, and Supergirl fighting armies of monsters and looking good doing it. To me, that’s the next best thing.

These next few months will be difficult for fellow football fans. For my fellow comic fans, though, it’s business as usual. Another week has come and another batch of comics have arrived. As always, and with the help of the fine folks at Comixology, I’m sharing my pull list and my pick of the week.

A new football season may be months away, but new comics are never more than a week. Nuff said!


My List

Batman #88

Captain America: The End #1

Dr. Doom #5

Lois Lane #8

Marauders #7

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #12

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3

X-Men/Fantastic Four #1

Savage Avenger #0

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1


My Pick of the Week

As the great modern philosopher, William Smith, once said, parents just don’t understand. When we’re little kids, we’re often at the mercy of our parents understanding. When your parents happen to be Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four, that is compounded exponentially. Then, you become a teenager and other things become exponentially complicated.

I’m not just talking about hormones and body hair. Kids clashing with parents is a theme older than any superhero comic and while “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1” doesn’t reinvent the concept, it manages to do something uncanny with it.

This book brings to a head an issue that was teased back in “House of X.” Mutants all over the world are gathering on their new homeland, Krakoa. One of those mutants, however, happens to be Franklin Richards. While he’s best known for being Reed and Sue’s first child, he’s also a mutant and an insanely powerful one at that. This is a kid who creates entire universes with the same ease as most kids pop pimples.

While he’s been on the X-Men’s radar, they haven’t really forced the issue. That changes in “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1” in a major way. Initially, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Terry Dodson has it play out as anyone might expect. A group of mutants come to convince a child’s parents that their child should come with them. Their parents aren’t having it.

When the book begins, you think you know who you should root for in this. However, Zdarsky and Dodson complicate things when they reveal that parents, for all their love and nurturing, don’t always understand. They think they’re doing what they feel is best for their family, but sometimes that becomes an excuse to do questionable things behind their child’s back.

It’s an age-old clash between wanting to protect your child at the risk of driving them away. It’s a clash that plays out in dramatic fashion in “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1.” By the end, it’s hard to know who to root for.

In the end, this is Franklin’s story. The X-Men and the Fantastic Four are just along for the ride and it’s already a hell of a ride. Whether you’re a parent or a child, you can find something in “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1” that resonates. It’s one of the most clear-cut picks of 2020 thus far. I’m not sure whether to call it fantastic or uncanny just yet, but so far, it has plenty of both.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day January 8, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Christmas may be over, but for fans of comic books, every Wednesday is Christmas. With every new week comes a new batch of comics and the world is a little more awesome because of it. In the past, I’ve singled out a single comic and tried to do a thorough review. However, in the interest of being more concise, I’ve decided to switch things up a bit.

From here on out, I’m going to use each New Comic Book Day to share my personal pull list. These are all comics I go out of my way to read the moment they’re available, usually through sites like Comixology. Sometimes, I’ll buy more if I have some spare change by the end of the day.

From that list, I’ll still single out a comic that I highly recommend. Please let me know if you like this new format or if you prefer I go back to the old one. Thanks and to all my fellow comic fans out there, I hope it’s the first of many awesome New Comic Days for 2020 and the decade to come.


My Pull List

Amazing Mary Jane #4

Batman #86

Excalibur #5

Ghost Spider #6

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #11

New Mutants #5

Star #1

X-Force #5

Supergirl #38


My Pick of the Week

X-Force #5

Some comics have broad appeal and multiple themes meant to appeal to as many people as possible. X-Force is not one of those comics. You don’t pick up an X-Force comic looking for big philosophical insights on the universe, the human condition, or what it means to be a hero. You go to an X-Force comic when you want to see gratuitous violence, pissed off mutants, and reasons as to why Wolverine drinks so much whiskey.

This comic has all of those things, including whiskey. The plot is simple. A group of well-armed mercenaries have invaded Krakoa. In the last issue, they managed to split Wolverine in half. In issues before that, the ones who hired them peeled off Domino’s skin to tap her powers. Even by X-Force standards, that’s still pretty brutal.

What makes X-Force #5 my pick this week is how Wolverine, Domino, and an emerging cast that includes Forge, Beast, and Jean Grey respond. They’ve been hit. They’ve been brutalized. They’ve been wounded and scarred in ways that no healing factor can treat. Now, they have a chance to take it out on the people responsible and they don’t hold back.

The results are bloody, violent, and compelling on multiple levels. Krakoa is supposed to be a place where mutants can finally enjoy some semblance of peace. Certain people in the world just can’t have that. Those people aren’t going to be reasoned with or convinced otherwise. That’s where X-Force comes in. It’s a dirty, ugly, unsanctioned aspect of making Krakoa work, but it’s necessary.

X-Force #5 reinforces that to an extreme. It also hints at where they’ll have to direct their gratuitous violence next. With the possible exception of having a weak stomach, there’s every reason to love what this book delivers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: X-Force #4

There are some people in this world, as well as fictional worlds, who will never be content to let things progress for the better. No amount of mutual benefit, understanding, or sincerity will be enough. They’ll always seek to destroy anything that might change the world they know, even if it’s for the better. They won’t just complain about it on social media, either. They’ll resort to the worst kinds of violence.

These are the people that X-Force deal with. Throughout their history in the X-Men comics, they’ve dealt with the dirty stains of humanity that never wash out, no matter how hard you scrub. They’re the ones tasked with confronting these threats, be they human or mutant, with a level of gratuitous violence that you won’t see outside of “Game of Thrones” reruns.

The need for X-Force, as well as their violent tactics, is one again reaffirmed in “X-Force #4.” At a time when mutants have made genuine progress through Krakoa and a new geopolitical role in the world, they’re still subject to hatred, attacks, and atrocities.

In the first three issues of the series, writer Benjamin Percy demonstrated that, despite having their own nation in the form of a living island and the ability to resurrect dead mutants, they’re still vulnerable.

Charles Xavier got shot. Domino was captured and had half her skin ripped off. The fact that any of this can happen, given all the resources at the X-Men’s disposal, is wake-up call and a reminder as to why X-Force isn’t just necessary. It needs an overhaul.

That overhaul begins to unfold in “X-Force #4” and in the midst of another mysterious attack, no less. While this one didn’t end with anyone getting shot or flayed, it did hit Krakoa in the wallet, which can hurt as much as getting shot. The nature of the attack and who is behind it remains a mystery, but X-Force is put on the front lines.

However, this is not the same X-Force that that Rob Liefeld brought to live during the grunge-fueled heyday of the 1990s. They’re not operating completely in secret as some secret kill-squad that everyone is better off not knowing about. Instead, Percy sets them up to be Krakoa’s version of the CIA, complete with its own Seal Team 6.

It’s somewhat of a shift for what X-Force has historically been in the X-Men comics, but it fits perfectly with the current situation surrounding mutants and Krakoa. Mutants are no longer scattered, isolated, and running from killer robots at least once a week. They have their own nation, language, and emerging culture. Protecting it requires something more organized than a shadowy kill squad.

That means more assistance from those who have traditionally argued against the merits of secret kill squads, such as Beast and Jean Grey. However, after seeing Charles Xavier get shot in the head and Domino get tortured, they’ve become a bit more pragmatic in handling these kinds of threats.

The events of the first three issues caught them off-guard. They try to be much more proactive in “X-Force #4,” investigating the attacks and organizing a response. Naturally, Wolverine is part of that response since many of the threats X-Force deals with require significant stabbing. Now, armed with Krakoan weapons provided by Forge and Kid Omega’s attitude, they’re ready to be a new kind of X-Force.

It may not be the kind of profane, brooding, blood-soaked X-Force we’ve seen in the past, but it feels appropriate for the X-Men’s current situation. Jonathan Hickman set up a very different set of dynamics for the X-Men through “House of X/Powers of X.” Percy just creates a version of X-Force that fits within the context of these dynamics.

Having a team like this doesn’t just feel necessary after the events of the first three issues. It feels personal. These weren’t just angry protests or hate threads on Twitter. Someone managed to attack their home and shoot one of their most powerful figures in the head. However one might feel about X-Force’s violent tactics, there’s no denying that they’re as motivated as they ever were.

For a quality X-Force comic, it’s not enough to just have ample violence and an attitude ripped from mid-90s heavy metal music. There needs to be a greater context to the added violence, preferably one that complements the current status quo of the X-Men comics. With “X-Force #4,” Percy succeeds in creating that context and artist Joshua Cassara gives it the necessary grit.

The overall lineup for X-Force is still somewhat small, but it has plenty of room to grow. After what happens on the final page, it’ll have to for reasons that are as obvious as they are bloody. The threat X-Force has to kill is still somewhat vague. Only a few details have come out thus far, but the only detail that matters is that they can hit Krakoa where it hurts and they’re not inclined to be diplomatic about it.

X-Force has always billed itself as a superhero team that relies on less-than-heroic methods to get the job done. They’re not a team that wears flashy costumes and parades alongside other, more reputable heroes. They do what they do in the shadows and don’t mind incurring some extra bloodstains to do it.

X-Force #4” starts with something bloody, but ends with something bloodier. Given the nature of the emerging threats they face and the wounds they’ve already incurred, it promises to get even bloodier with future issues. It’s everything you want in an X-Force comic and then some.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

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

Even the cleanest communities need a functioning sewer system. That’s something that even the most wide-eyed, Utopian-seeking idealists understand. Throughout the history of the X-Men comics, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men have had to learn this lesson on many occasions. While they don’t outright abandon the idealism at the heart of Charles Xavier’s dream, they understand that less ideal methods are necessary.

That’s where X-Force comes in. Whereas the X-Men are the public photogenic faces of their heroic exploits, X-Force is the secretive, less scrupulous team that fights the ugly battles that need fighting. They are, in essence, the sewer system of Charles Xavier’s dream. Where heroes and idealism fails, they step in.

It’s a tradition that has gone through many eras, dating back to the X-Men’s heyday in the early 1990s. The threats and the circumstances have changed, but the tactics don’t. Even though the X-Men and the entire mutant race are in the best position they’ve been in since the Clinton Administration, there’s still a need for X-Force.

Writer Benjamin Percy, along with an impressive cast of artists, establishes the extent of that need in “X-Force #1” and does so in an appropriately brutal fashion. Charles Xavier may have set up an ideal environment for mutants to thrive, but that environment is still vulnerable to major threats who don’t stop at throwing killer robots at them.

The nature of these threats are vague, as is often the case with X-Force, but their motivations are clear. The new order that Jonathan Hickman built in “House of X” and “Powers of X” has shaken up the geopolitics of the Marvel universe. Mutants are no longer a disorganized hodgepodge of scared mutants, costumed heroes, and Deadpool. They’re a sovereign nation with valuable resources.

While this has set mutants up to prosper like never before, it also makes them a much bigger target. Instead of hunting mutants in dark alleys, there’s an entire country full of them and not all of them have trained in the Danger Room. It doesn’t take long for a shadowy group of masked mutant-haters to take advantage of that.

Initially, it’s hard to know how serious this threat even is. There have been all sorts of shadowy organizations who wear funny masks and dream of slaughtering every last mutant with a smile.  A few have a notable place in the X-Men’s history. However, they’ve never had to face mutants that are this well-organized.

These aren’t just mutant struggling to survive anymore. They have a living island to protect them. They have standing in the international community and they didn’t even need to threaten the planet to get it this time. On top of that, they have powerful psychics, living weapons, and Emma Frost’s sex appeal on their side. How can anyone threaten them?

This is where “X-Force #1” really makes its mark. It doesn’t just set up a new threat for X-Force to combat. It shows that this threat is capable of hitting the X-Men where it hurts. Their elaborate defenses, their legions of powerful mutants, and their emerging place in the international community isn’t enough. They can still be attacked. They can still suffer casualties.

It’s a rude awakening, especially after everything Charles Xavier did to make Krakoa the ultimate haven. It’s also shocking at how successful this attack is. Even those who aren’t traditionally associated with X-Force, such as Jean Grey and Beast, see first-hand how devious their enemies can be.

It’s a harsh reminder that they’re still living in a world that isn’t swayed by their idealism. While some might have their attitudes tempered by diplomacy, life-saving drugs, and Wolverine’s claws, others won’t stop until they’re dancing atop a mountain of mutant corpses.

Those aren’t people that the X-Men can confront through heroic means. This is the kind of challenge that needs X-Force and their less-than-ideal tactics. The last page of “X-Force #1” makes that abundantly clear. The only question is how far are they willing to go in order to respond?

Through its many iterations, X-Force has always had a darker tone to go along with its darker themes. Percy captures that tone perfectly in “X-Force #1.” He crafts a story that isn’t entirely built around X-Force’s harsher tactics and the lines they’re willing to cross. More than anything else, the story reaffirms the need for X-Force.

It lays a foundation that includes characters who are no stranger to X-Force’s methods, such as Wolverine and Domino. It also sets the stage for other characters to play a role, like Jean Grey and Black Tom Cassidy. In other eras, these same characters would oppose the very existence of X-Force or actively fight against them. However, in this new emerging order with Krakoa, they cannot avoid it.

X-Force #1” has most the defining traits that X-Force comics have always had. What makes it stand out is how it builds those traits around a world in which mutants have never had it better. This is as close as they’ve ever gotten to fully realizing Charles Xavier’s dream, but X-Force is still necessary.

It’s a sobering reminder. You could even argue that it’s a necessary reminder. After what happened on the final page, nobody in X-Force is going to forget that anytime soon.

1 Comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

The Potential (And Pitfalls) Of Polyamory In The X-Men Comics

x-men-1-brooks-party

Two years ago, I wrote an article that explored the idea of using polyamory to resolve the infamous Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine love triangle in the X-Men comics. I admit that it was primarily a thought experiment. It was my way of attempting to resolve what I believe to be the worst manifestation of a love triangle in all of fiction. I never expected it to manifest in any form outside head canon of fan fiction.

Then, “X-Men #1” by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu came out, almost two years to the day that I published that article. While it wasn’t overtly stated that polyamory is now a thing in the X-Men comics, there were certain details that strongly hinted at it, so much so that multiple outlets in the world of comics have taken it seriously.

I’m not saying the article I wrote was prophetic. I certainly didn’t predict that Marvel would ever pursue this recourse or even hint at it. At the same time, it’s kind of surreal that this is something that might actually play out in mainstream superhero comics. The fact that it’s playing out in a company owned by Disney makes that even more astonishing.

Now, before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear. After reading “X-Men #1” and all the speculation surrounding it, nothing has been definitively confirmed. The writers and editors at Marvel have not stated outright that they’re actually making Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine a polyamorous couple. It’s been hinted at, but not confirmed on panel.

In comics, that means a lot. Like a death without a body, if it doesn’t happen explicitly on panel, then you can’t assume it did. That’s just how comics work. That extends to love triangles, polyamory, and everything in between.

That said, I think Hickman and Yu have created the right circumstances. Two years ago, Jean Grey was still dead, Cyclops was dead, and Wolverine had just come back to life. The events of House of X and Powers of X establish that the X-Men, and the rest of the mutant race for that matter, have established a new world for themselves on the living island of Krakoa. It’s a chance to do things differently.

In this new setup, the tensions and melodrama of the past are left in the past. The final pages of House of X #6 make that clear, especially with Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine. There’s even a nice moment between Jean Grey and Emma Frost, who have been bitter rivals for years. Hickman makes clear that these characters are looking to move forward and not revisit old drama.

The only question is what does that entail? Does moving forward simply mean moving past these old romantic complications? The final pages of “Uncanny X-Men #22,” which predate House of X and Powers of X, establish on panel that Cyclops and Jean Grey are still a thing. They still love each other and don’t hesitate for a second to embrace one another, now that they’re alive again.

ScottJean

However, it’s not quite as clear that they’re content to pursue the same relationship they had before Jean died at the hands of Magneto back in 2004. On some levels, it makes sense to do something different. Both Cyclops and Jean Grey know what happens when they try to ignore these other feelings. They just fester under the surface and it hurts them both in the long run.

Even though their love for one another is very clear, the way they go about their relationship has shown plenty of flaws, going back to the days of Chris Clarmeont’s run on Uncanny X-Men. They still want to be together. They even want to be a family. The events of “X-Men #1” depict them as more a family than reunited lovers, which I thought was both sweet and overdue.

It’s also in this area that the potential for polyamory has already revealed itself. Most have pointed out the unusual arrangement of Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine’s rooms on the new moon-based Summer house. They’re all connected with Jean’s room in between Cyclops’ and Wolverine’s. They even have doorways between them, which is something the other rooms don’t.

It’s not definitive confirmation, but it certainly implies the possibility. Solicits of future issues have also hinted that Emma Frost may enter the picture as well. If Hickman, Yu, and Marvel are serious about pursuing this plot, then it could open the door for a very different kind of romantic sub-plot, the likes of which we haven’t seen in superhero comics.

While superhero comics have been quite progressive at times, and even somewhat daring, when it comes to pursuing non-traditional relationships, they’ve never attempted to tackle polyamory. Even though it exists in the real world, it’s not something superhero comics have ever taken seriously. This could change that.

A seriously, well-written polyamorous relationship between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine could effectively redefine what it means for these characters to love one another. It helps that it’s happening at a time when the X-Men and the entire mutant race are redefining themselves on Krakoa. They’re building their own homeland and culture. Why wouldn’t they redefine how they handle relationships while they’re at it?

It could address some of the most egregious flaws that the love triangle has propagated over the years. Jean Grey would no longer be a prize to be won by Cyclops or Wolverine. Cyclops would no longer be an obstacle for Wolverine. More importantly, it would allow Wolverine to have his romantic connection with someone without being limited by it. For someone with his extensive romantic history, that’s very important.

However, that’s the best case scenario. It also assumes that Hickman is serious about pursuing this sub-plot. Like I said earlier, it has not be confirmed on-panel. There’s no hint in House of X, Powers of X, or “X-Men #1” that there’s something elaborate going on with them. They just carry themselves as though they’re on much better terms than they were before they all died on one another.

There are risks associated with pursuing this kind of relationship. While Hickman is a great writer with a great pedigree for superhero comics, he’s never tackled a love triangle with this much baggage. If handled poorly, it could do serious damage to all the characters involved.

It could devalue the depth and history of the Cyclops/Jean Grey romance, which is one of the most iconic in all of superhero comics. It could also take a character like Wolverine, who has a complicated history as a loner who rarely gets tied down by one relationship, and make him seem out of character. Him becoming a part of the Summers/Grey family would be like James Bond joining the clergy.

There’s also a chance that a polyamorous relationship with these three could devolve into something that is just played up for novelty. The fact that it’s so different can’t be the only reason for doing it. If it is, then it’s not going to be believable and the characters involved will suffer because of it.

Given how these characters have already suffered, I don’t think the time is right to deconstruct their relationships and romantic sub-plots the only reason for doing so is shock value. These are characters poised to enter the MCU at some point. I doubt Disney will want them overly complicated before that occurs.

Personally, it’s for that reason that I doubt Marvel will seriously pursue a polyamorous relationship between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine. They may hint at it. They may tease it. They’ll do everything possible, except depict it on panel, which will keep readers guessing and speculating. It’s something they’ve done before, much to the chagrin of fans.

If they do try it, though, I sincerely hope that Hickman, Lu, and the rest of Marvel’s creative team takes the concept seriously. The X-Men, throughout their history, have depicted characters who are very different, if not downright weird compared to the rest of the world. If that’s going to extend to how they pursue romance and relationships, then it deserves a serious effort.

However, it cannot and should not come at the cost of the characters or the iconic romances that came before it.

1 Comment

Filed under polyamory, romance, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality, superhero comics, X-men

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic, X-men

Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Powers of X #6

When assessing the greatness of a particular story arc in comics, there are many factors to consider. There’s the quality of the writing, the strength of the characterization, the cohesiveness of the plot, the vibrancy of the artwork, and how it all fits together in terms of the greater narrative. Many comics succeed in some of these areas and are worth reading. Very few manage to succeed in most.

I usually try to avoid spoiling too much of a great story, but I will spoil one thing. “Powers of X #6,” and the overall story arc it capped off, is among those select few. In the history of X-Men comics, Marvel Comics, and superhero comics in general, this is one of those stories that will likely stand out as an example of what’s possible when all the right story elements are in place.

Writer Jonathan Hickman has always been someone with big ideas who builds even bigger stories around them. He starts with a concept. Then, he positions the characters around it in such a way that requires them to evolve in ways that they’ve never dared. From there, the story only gets bigger in terms of scope, scale, and impact.

He did it with the Avengers. He did it with the Fantastic Four. Now, he’s done it again with the X-Men. As a lifelong X-Men fan, who has seen some pretty awful runs and some exceedingly dark times, I cannot overstate how refreshing this story is. I honestly cannot think of a time when an X-Men story arc felt so meaningful and relevant.

I’ve highlighted and praised various issues of House of X and Powers of X before, but “Powers of X #6” faces a unique challenge that many story arcs fail to overcome. It can’t just end the story on a particular note. It has to fill in some lingering plot holes while leaving just enough unfilled for future stories to build on. It’s a difficult balance to strike and one past X-Men story arcs have come up short.

That balance never falters in “Powers of X #6.” It fills in a few key plot holes, most notably the events of Moira MacTaggart’s mysterious sixth life. At the core of this story, and everything that stems from it, is the impact of Moira MacTaggart. It’s not hyperbole to state that she is now the most important character in the X-Men mythos.

Her role doesn’t just involve revealing what worked and didn’t work in terms of mutants trying to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In “Powers of X #6,” she witnesses the ultimate endgame for the human/mutant conflict. She sees the inevitable result of this conflict, regardless of which side she takes.

It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Magneto.

It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Professor Charles Xavier.

It doesn’t even matter if someone swears allegiance to Apocalypse and fights by his side.

The events in “Powers of X #6” establish that none of these conflicting groups, who have been clashing in X-Men comics since the Kennedy Administration, will be vindicated in the long run. Ultimately, they will be defeated, but not by the forces they think.

It’s a point that Hickman makes clearly by building on key moments established in past issues of Powers of X and House of X. Within these moments, harsh truths are dropped and fateful choices are made. They help give the achievements that played out in “House of X #6” even more weight. They also establish the stakes the X-men, and the entire mutant race in general, face moving forward.

These are powerful moments that impact the past, present, and future of the X-Men. Through Moira, the greatest threats facing mutants takes a very different form. It’s not a menacing new Sentinel. It’s not some mutant tyrant, either. It’s not even some bigoted human who thinks interment camps are still a good idea. I won’t spoil the particulars, but c makes clear that the X-Men have an uphill battle.

That’s saying a lot, considering the mutant race is more united than it has ever been. They have a home in Krakoa. Teammates who have been dead or missing for many years are back. They have valuable resources that the world wants. They’ve even won over their greatest enemies, like Apocalypse.

However, even with Moira’s foresight, that still might not be enough.

It might be the greatest achievement of “Powers of X #6.” It is an ending to a bold new beginning for the X-Men, but it also redefines the challenges they face. Through Hickman’s skilled world-building and artist R. B. Silva’s brilliant renderings, it genuinely feels like a true paradigm shift for X-Men comics.

They’re still mutants. They’re still the same superheroes they’ve always been. Their goals haven’t fundamentally changed that much. What has changed are the stakes, the forces opposing them, and their approach to dealing with them. It feels both hopeful and dire at the same time.

Whereas “House of X #6” establishes the promise of a brighter future for mutants, “Powers of X #6” reveals the ultimate barrier to that future. It’s not something they can shoot, blast, stab, or punch. If they want to succeed, then they have to fundamentally change how they go about Charles Xavier’s dream. Moreover, the dream itself needs to evolve.

Years from now, X-Men fans will likely look back on “Powers of X #6” as a defining moment for a narrative that has been unfolding for over 50 years. Those moments are few, far between, and precious. This one in particular may go down as one of the most uncanny.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic, X-men