The following is a video from my YouTube Channel, Jack’s World. As someone who has followed and praised X-Men comics for years, I wanted to make a video that articulated just how important the recent House of X/Powers of X story by Jonathan Hickman is in the history of the franchise. I tried to do it justice while trying not too hard to geek out. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: Wolverine
Growing up, you learn vital life lessons from strange sources. For those my age, we all probably remember those after school specials or those public service announcements. They usually amounted to things like “eat your vegetables,” “listen to your parents,” and “hating someone because they’re different is wrong!” It was very preachy and crude. Most of us just rolled our eyes and went back to being kids.
Looking back on my youth, I don’t think those life lessons really taught me anything I didn’t already know. In fact, I think the most useful life lessons I learned back then came from comics. I still knew that comics could be preachy too. They always have been, despite what the assholes at associated with certain hashtags may claim. They just got their point across in a different way.
Personally, I think that way was more effective. The stories in comics didn’t just tell you to be honest, selfless, and kind. They showed you why those values are important and dared to have some fun along the way. Within the stories, you learn why Captain America and Superman’s altruism is so powerful. You also learn why Lex Luthor and the Red Skull’s selfish narcissism is so bad.
That really helped shape my understanding of right, wrong, friendship, tolerance, and understanding. My parents, friends, and teachers all played a part too. However, the stories I read in comic books made those life lessons fun and engaging. That’s not to say every comic teaches valuable lessons. If you try to learn life lessons from Deadpool, you will get mixed messages.
Those messages are still there, along with plenty of life lessons. More and more unfold every week with every New Comic Book Day. Once again, I offer to you my pull list and pick of the week. There are life lessons to be had. Even if they just involve how to kill zombies, they’re worth learning. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
Empyre: X-Men #4
The current state of the world is still awful. Let’s not sugarcoat that. As much an optimist I try to be most of the time, you can only try so hard during a global pandemic. I don’t deny these past few months have utterly killed my optimism with a force of a thousand pissed off Hulks.
Even without optimism, we’re all still adapting. We’re learning to live our lives without the luxury of going to a movie theater, hanging out in a crowded restaurant, or just browsing through a mall without someone whining about having to wear a mask. It’s frustrating, but it’s bearable. For me, new comics help make this new normal bearable.
I say that as someone who knows that the whole comic industry has had to adapt a lot these past few months. Between comic shops facing enormous hardship and the San Diego Comic Con being reduced to a glorified series of Zoom calls, things have been very difficult for this industry I love so dearly.
More changes are likely, but I’m still grateful for the efforts of those working in this industry to keep New Comic Book Day awesome. Whether you’re a writer, an editor, an artist, or an IT person working at Comixology, I can’t thank you enough for your tireless effort. The world needs this right now. I certainly need it too.
As always, I show my appreciation by dropping plenty of money on digital comics and assorted merchandise. I encourage others who struggle to adapt in this awful world to do the same. Once again, here’s my pull list and pick of the week.
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
In the age-old debate of quality versus quantity, comics occupy a strange middle ground. There have been times when I’ve left a comic shop with a big stack of comics and feel like I just went on an epic bender with an 1980s heavy metal band. There have also been times when I’ve left a shop with only a few books in hand, but I feel just as satisfied because those few books were just that awesome.
I spent a lot of money in comic shops. I hope I made that clear. I’m pretty sure I put some comic shop owners kids through college.
That said, there are times when quantity doesn’t always make that trip satisfying. Sometimes, that big stack of comics that looks so appealing has a lot of duds in it. Like so many other things, from music to gem stones to whiskey, quality will often determine the success of any New Comic Book Day.
Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at sifting through the countless pages of comics and finding which ones offer the most quality. I admit there are times I stumble across it by complete accident, but like fine wine or cars, there’s an art to it. I don’t claim to be an expert, but to all those who love comics as much as I do, I offer my insights so that those who celebrate New Comic Book Day get plenty of bang for their buck.
To that end, here’s my weekly pull list and pick for New Comic Book Day, complete with links to Comixology. It may seem like a lot, but I can attest that in the world of comics, quantity and quality need not be mutually exclusive. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
X-Men/Fantastic Four #4
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
My Pick of the Week
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and
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.
Hickman affirms that at every turn in
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
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 inHickman 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
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.