Category: X-Men

Following the epic X-Men event Messiah Complex, all the major X-Men title underwent a reshuffle. To be honest, it's easy to get confused with what is currently going on in the X-Universe. Following Messiah Complex (MC), the X-Men are divided, hence the whole confusing "Divided We Stand" tag line, which is used across a couple of the titles. Uncanny X-Men "Divided We Stand" collects issues #495-499 of the Uncanny X-Men, and was written by Ed Brubaker.


The Uncanny X-Men seems to drop the pre-MC team of X-Men in favor of picking up with Cyclops and Emma Frost as they ponder the death/disappearance of Professor X while holidaying in the Savage Land. Cyclops is particularly broody as he contemplates whether or not to bring the X-Men back together. The two are eventually drawn to San Francisco when things there get weird. San Francisco has gone back to an idolized 1960's version of itself, and the X-Men that are there, Angel, Warpath and a few others, are all brainwashed into thinking they are flower children.

Meanwhile Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus are on a holiday of their own in Russia, and for no apparent reason stumble upon the Russian version of the Weapon X program, curious as to why the X-Men retain their powers while all their mutants have been rendered powerless, following M-Day.

Long story short, both stories resolve themselves with little major impact upon any of the characters. There are two things that this book does that will set the direction for future Uncanny X-Men stories. Firstly, San Francisco is the new X-Men base of operations. Secondly, there appears to be a new "Sisterhood of Mutants" getting together.

Given that this collection was written by Ed Brubaker I have to say I was a little disappointed. I'd expected more. Sadly, this book is quite forgettable, ask me what happened in it a few months from now, and I will probably have forgotten. It's not the worst book I've read, but by the same token, it's all fairly stock standard X-Men fare. I'll pick up the next collection, but if it's on a par with this, then I think it might be time for me to give the Uncanny X-Men a break for a while.

Overall, I'd give this book <b>5 out of 10</b>.

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Uncanny X-Men Volume 4: The Draco collects issues #428-434 of Uncanny X-Men, and was written by Chuck Austen. The stuff I've read of Austen so far, Uncanny X-Men Volumes 1-3, have been terrible to say the least.

Picking up Volume 4, The Draco, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I read the prologue.

The prologue to The Draco, provides some interesting back story as to the true origins of Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), the circumstances surrounding his birth, and how he came to arrive in the care of sorceress and gypsy queen Margali Szardos. Mystique is Kurt's mother, and as it turns out Azazel is Kurt's father.

At the conclusion of the prologue however, the storyline goes down hill fast. Kurt is drawn to an archaeological dig. It turns out that a lot of teleporting mutants are being drawn to the same place, and that's not the only thing they have in common. As it turns out, they all share the same father, Azazel.

The plot... loses the plot at the point where Azazel reveals that he is actually Satan and has fathered an army of teleporting kids to free him from 'hell' so that he can conquer the world. Azazel is apparently a demonic mutant that was banished in biblical times. So I guess technically this makes Nightcrawler the son of Satan.

While this is all happening the ongoing love triangle between Polaris, Havok and nurse Annie continues... zzzzzzz... Polaris continues down the path of insanity, and the story surrounding the father of Annie's son appears to have been dropped altogether.

The only storyline featured in the collection involves the Juggernaut traveling to Canada to visit Sammy the Fish Boy, only to find Sammy being abused by his father. Juggernaut intervenes. Stuff happens.

Overall, The Draco started out promisingly enough before quickly stinking up the place. Fortunately for me I picked it up in a nick and dent sale for next to nothing. In summary, another Chuck Austen Uncanny Special. 3.5 out of 10.

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District X Vol. 1: Mr. M collects the first six issues of the short lived District X series, originally published some time in 2004. District X is a region within New York, populated largely by mutants. These aren't the 'cool' type of mutants though. No one pops claws or teleports. These are the kind of mutants that smell bad when stressed. The main premise behind the District X series seems to be that even though the District may be 'different', its population is still bound by the law.

Enter the X-Man Bishop. In the ye olde days Bishop was just a gun totting mutant soldier from the future. In District X he's much more the mutant detective. It gives his character a lot more depth, and it has to be said, purpose. In District X, Bishop is partnered with NYPD patrolman Ismael Ortega, to assist in managing the increased crime rate in District X, also known as Mutant Town.

Bishop and Ortega begin investigating a series of crimes that finds them smack bang in the middle of a gang war between two rival mutant crime lords, fighting for control of Mutant Town as well as sale of "Toad Juice" a drug synthesised from the bodily excretion of a mutant boy, known as Toad Boy.


Violence erupts between rival crime lords “Shaky” Kaufman and “Filthy Frankie” Zapruder over a mutant, Toad Boy, and the addictive narcotic he produces (known as “Toad Juice”). When Kaufman learns of the lucrative sales of “Toad Juice” in District X, he raids Zapruder’s facilities and kidnaps the Toad Boy for himself. However, it is unknown that Toad Juice can be fatal to normal humans.

The first six issues also cover the emergence of the mysterious "Mr M", Absolom Zebardyn Mercator, who later pops up to play a pivotal role in the House of M followup, X-Men: The 198. With Mr M becoming increasingly detached from society, he decides that the only way to help District X is by destroying it. Bishop and Ortega are then in a race to not only quell the gang violence, but to stop the destruction of the community they have sworn to protect.

District X Vol. 1: Mr. M is a little like an X-Men version of CSI or Law and Order. To be fair, I don't know whether District X is that good, or whether my whole rating system has been thrown out by Chuck Austen's run on Uncanny X-Men that I'm still labouring through.

While not exactly revolutionary, District X Vol. 1: Mr. M was an enjoyable read, and did enough to make me want to track down Volume 2. Overall I'd give it 6.5 out of 10

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Like a sadist I picked up Uncanny X-Men Volume 3: Holy War TPB. I really should have learnt my lesson after reading Volumes 1 and 2, but clearly I'm a slow learner. The trade paper back Holy War, collects Uncanny X-Men issues #421-427. In this collection, writer Chuck Austen seems to have struck a new low in his Uncanny X-Men run.

Once again he persists with the angst ridden love triangle of Alex Summers (Havok), Lorna Dane (Polaris) and "Nurse" Annie, which culminates in a wedding and a 'surprise' (that is sarcasm) twist. Does Alex love Lorna? Or does he love Annie? Woe is he. I would write more about it, but that about sums up that plot line.

The other major plot featured in the collection is the "Holy War" itself. This story focuses on The Church of Humanity's attempts to use Nightcrawler to bring down the Catholic Church. Essentially Nightcrawler begins to show signs his faith is wavering. The Church of Humanity, led by a former nun who was raped by a priest (hence her anti-Catholic motivation), target Nightcrawler with plans on making him the next pope and then revealing him to be the devil (due to his appearance)... or something... Basically this plot line, like the rest of the book sucked, and made very little sense. I get the impression that Chuck Austen is not the biggest fan of the Catholic Church.

The only glimmer redeeming feature in this collection is the story of Cain Marko (The Juggernaut) and his relationship with young mutant recruit Sammy. Following the Juggernaut has he tries to redeem himself is the most interesting idea Austen seems to have developed in the three volumes of his run I've read so far.

In summary, this is the worst collection I've read to date, even worse than volume 2. The characterisation of Nightcrawler in particular was hard to take... apparently Austen writes Nightcrawler as an emo kid? On a side note, this is another trade paper back that has Wolverine on the cover even though he appears in the six issues collected briefly. Avoid this one like the plague, unless you just have to have the whole set. 1 out of 10
» Read the rest of the entry..

I read Uncanny X-Men Volume 2: Dominant Species TPB straight after I finished the mediocre Volume 1: Hope. Let me start by saying that Chuck Austen's first arc, Hope, wasn't the worst thing I've read, but it was by far not the best either. It wasn't until I finished Volume 2: Dominant Species that I realized that the bad reputation Chuck Austen seems to have with X-Men fans is entirely well deserved.

Dominant Species is like the three pronged turd. Poor plotting, poor art and poor characterization. The main thread running through Dominant Species is that people with similar character characteristics gravitate toward one another. A majority of the story is told from the point of view of Angel and Husk. There's a bit of old school sexual tension.

There's also a new villain, Max Lobbo, who's head of some sort of mutant werewolf pack. Who he is, where he comes from and what his motivation is, doesn't receive much attention. He works/runs a company that is owned by Warren Worthington (Angel). Besides that Lobbo kills people and mutants for fun, and has a pack of werewolf mutants following him around that seem to do nothing more than repeat everything everyone says.

At one point Wolverine gets pummelled and then has to be rescued by Northstar and taken away to heal. Is this the same Wolverine that survived an explosion and healed himself from skeletal remains in his Civil War tie-in?

So basically, a new bad guy is introduced, but barely fleshed out, and Husk has a thing for Angel, although Angel does not really know that. Havok is brought out of his coma, and Lorna Dane (Polaris) returns.

From what I've read so far Austen applies the same template across his stories. He ticks the 'unrequited love' box, and also makes sure to include a little vague social commentary. Female characters exist solely to stare longingly at their male counter parts.

According to the Amazon description, Dominant Species was illustrated by "superstar" Japanese artist Kia Asamiya. The X-Men clearly take on a manga flavor, but in this instance, I can't say it's a good thing. Some of the characters look just plain weird, and it's often hard to get past the nose. Another thing that stuck out for me was the costume Polaris rocks up in. It looks like she has a set of wings coming out of her head, and I have no idea why.

For me, there were only two interesting elements in this collection. One, the concept of secondary mutation. Mutants mutating further, for example, Angel develops a healing factor and Iceman begins to turn into ice, full time. Two, the idea that Juggernaut is not always such a bad guy. Some people would no doubt hate this aspect, but in a story as pedestrian as the one played out in Dominant Species, people should be grateful for small mercies.

In summary, this is officially the worst trade paper back collection I have read to date. 2 out of 10

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I picked up the trade paper back Uncanny X-Men Volume 1: Hope TPB (Uncanny X-Men) in a nick and dent sale with relatively low expectations. Why? The book carried Chuck Austen's name on the cover, the guy that has been roundly criticized for steering the title directly in to some of its more disappointing moments.

This trade paper collects Uncanny X-Men issues #410-415, and covers off a couple of story arcs. The first deals with the team sent on a rescue mission only to learn that it is the Juggernaut they have been sent to help. Black Tom Cassidy is smack bang in the middle of a secondary mutation, and Juggernaut needs help. Fairly stock standard stuff. The early issues also deal with Professor X tracking down a young mutant named Sammy who has a fish like appearance. We are also introduced to Annie, a nurse caring for a comatose patient that later turns out to be Havok.

Uncanny X-Men: Hope on Amazon.comIn the final two issues, Northstar joins the undermanned group, at the request of Xavier, to assist them to bring in an explosive mutant child unable to control his powers. The big revelation for me here was that Northstar is gay, and has a crush on Bobby Drake (aka. Iceman), who happens to be going through a secondary mutation of his own.

By the end of the collection, Austen seems to have all his players in the game, and it feels like I've just read six issues of 'set-up'. One of the problems with issues #410-415 seems to be that Austen was operating with the X-Men 'C' grade squad to a certain extent. Angel? I've never been a huge fan. Stacy X? Pheromone powers? I've read Austen quoted as saying he wanted to "inject some soap" into his Uncanny X-Men run, which seems to be the exact result he achieved. Is that a good thing? I'm not so sure. A love triangle between Angel, Stacy X and Husk? I'm not sure that I could have been less interested. The whole unrequited love angle doesn't work for me either. The Annie/Havok and Northstar/Iceman thing just didn't float my boat. I want to read an X-Men story, not a rejected script from the OC. » Read the rest of the entry..

The Dark Phoenix Saga is arguably the most recognised and referenced stories in the X-Men catalogue. It has served as the inspiration for much of the original X-Men animated series, as well as the X-Men live action movies. The Dark Phoenix saga is featured in X-Men Vol. 1 #129-138 during 1980, and now collected in trade paper back X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga.

When talking about the Dark Phoenix Saga, it's important to know that originally the Phoenix actually was Jean Grey, at the height of her powers, and was not simply a cosmic entity linked to her, as is the case since the character was retconned by Marvel in later issues.

In an earlier arc, Jean Grey was exposed to radiation from a solar flare, which unlocked her powers so she achieved all her telepathic and telekinetic potential. She turned into a 'being of pure thought', and upon reforming herself once she returned to Earth, took on a new costume, identity and wielded the power of the "Phoenix". After repairing the damaged M'Kraan Crystal, she saw the danger her powers posed on voluntarily kept them under control. These events led into the Dark Phoenix saga...

Recognising her immense power, Jean Grey became the target of Mastermind, as he attempted to gain the favour of the Hellfire Club. With the help of the White Queen, an evil Emma Frost, Mastermind (aka. Jason Wyngarde) projected his illusions directly into Jean Grey's mind, making her believe that she was actually living in period times as Lady Grey, Wyngarde's lover. Through Mastermind's manipulations, Jean Grey joined the Hellfire Club as the Black Queen, a role that lead to the breaking of the barriers she had created to keep the Phoenix under control.

When the X-Men came to her rescue, her love for Cyclops broke the psychic hold Mastermind had over her. At the same time though, the last of the psychic barriers keeping the Phoenix in check was also broken. Jean Grey's mind and body was taken over, and she called herself the "Dark Phoenix".

After a brief battle in which the Dark Phoenix hand the X-Men their asses on a silver platter, Dark Phoenix grew hungry, created a wormhole, and disappeared, transporting herself to another galaxy, devouring the power of a star, which in turn went nova, causing the deals of billions of innocent aliens in the process. A passing Shi'ar space craft spotted the carnage, and attacked the Dark Phoenix, in an effort to stop any further destruction. Before they were destroyed, the Shi'ar were able to transmit a message to their Empress Lilandra, warning her of the threat. Lilandra gathered a posse of intergalactic butt kickers, including the Kree and Skrull empires, who all came to the same conclusion. The Dark Phoenix was bad news, a bigger threat than Galactus, and needed to be stopped immediately.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the X-Men and Beast (who was a member of the Avengers at the time), devised a plan that would nullify the powers of the Dark Phoenix long enough for them to defeat her. Lucky for them, because before they could say 'Magneto's hairy nipple', the Dark Phoenix had returned to earth. Their plan worked and Professor X was able to rebuild some psychic circuit breakers, in order to keep the Dark Phoenix's powers at a more manageable level.

X-Men #133, Wolverine, Storm, Dark Phoenix Saga, Marvel Comic 1980 (FN/VF)
X-Men #133, Wolverine, Storm, Dark Phoenix Saga, Marvel Comic 1980 (FN/VF) $30.25
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Bad luck comes in threes, so the Shi'ar arrive, abducting the X-Men, informing them that the Dark Phoenix had killed billions and had been sentenced to death. Professor X, who was tapping Lilandra at the time, challenged the Shi'ar to a duel of honour. If the Shi'ar won, the Dark Phoenix would be killed, if the X-Men won, she would be granted mercy.
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Weapon X: Days of Future Now is a five issue miniseries first released in 2005 and then collected into a trade paper back. Most of the story takes place approximately 30 years into an alternate future, and provides a conclusion to Frank Tieri's Weapon X series, which was canceled after 28 issues. I have to say, I haven't read the 28 issues that led up to this, and I purchased the trade paper back for two reasons. Firstly it was $3.99 in a TFAW scratch and dent sale, and secondly, it had "Weapon X" on the cover, and that was good enough for me.

Reading Weapon X: Days of Future Now as a stand-alone title proved to be a little confusing in places, and no doubt I would have benefited from having the background that is probably covered in the original 28 issues. Reading this, I felt like I had missed a lot, and there seems to be a lot of exposition going on that doesn't necessarily make sense to the reader coming in fresh. As a result, I'd suggest this collection is best suited to the die hard fans of the Weapon X series, and as such it does go a long way to providing them with some closure.

I have to admit, reading Weapon X: Days of Future Now was a little hard work. Not having the Weapon X series background, I was at a loss as to how this all fitted in to the X-Men universe. While Wolverine sits at the center of the story, a number of his Weapon X counterparts also play major roles, including Agent Zero, Fantomex, Sublime and Chamber.

The artwork is average. Not terrific, but not total rubbish either. I think the best way to describe it is, "serviceable".

What did I learn?

Don't try and pick up a story 90 per cent into proceedings!

I'd recommend this for fans of Tieri's Weapon X series only. If you don't have the background, like me, you'll find this collection more confusing than it is entertaining. » Read the rest of the entry..

'Messiah Complex' was the biggest storyline to hit the X-Men franchise since the 'House of M'. It's one of those "must read" story arcs if you intend to follow the adventures of any of the X-Men teams from 2008 onward. Messiah Complex is told over 13 chapters, beginning with the X-Men: Messiah Complex one-shot, and then continuing in four of the X-Men monthlys, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Factor #25-27, New X-Men #44-46 and X-Men #205-207. Following on from Messiah Complex, all four 'X-Books' underwent a relaunch, based upon the outcome of Messiah Complex.

To follow the events in Messiah Complex I'd recommend reading 'The House of M' arc as well as the X-Men 'Supernovas' and 'Blinded by the Lights' collections.

The Messiah Complex story really began at the conclusion of the House of M, and the event known as 'M-Day', in which a vast majority of the mutant population was de-powered. The X-Gene itself has all but disappeared, and there have been no new mutant births since M-Day. With mutants bordering on extinction, Messiah Complex begins with the explosive birth, literally, of a mutant. This sparks a race between the X-Men, Mr Sinister and the Marauders, the Acolytes, the Reavers, the Purifiers, and Predator X to see who will get to the child first. Clearly each group has it's own motivations, and the line between good and evil begins to blur in some cases. » Read the rest of the entry..

There have been a couple of attempts now to bring Marvel's favorite band of mutants to the small screen in cartoon form. The latest incarnation is "Wolverine and the X-Men". With the Wolverine movie set to hit the big screen in 2009, it makes sense for the cartoon to try and cash in on one of Marvel's most bankable commodities.

The first full length trailer for the new "Wolverine and the X-Men" series is posted below. I have to say, I'm not all that impressed with the 'cookie cutter' standard of animation on show here. I was expecting a little more. Eagle eyed Marvel spotters will notice a brief cameo from the Hulk, which makes me wonder how many other Marvel characters will cross over. » Read the rest of the entry..

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