X-Men Rarities: Deal with the Devil, Man in the Sky and Open Volley


[Edit: Originally published January 28, 2017]

Deal with the Devil written by Chris Claremont

A dark meeting in a club, between Ororo Munroe and Raven Darkholme. I gotta say Mystique has some Looks in this issue. It’s got dual narration from both Ororo and Mystique which honestly is super cool. The purpose of the meeting is Rogue. Mystique is passing information to Ororo in an attempt to help her daughter. There is also a truly lovely scene at the very end of Mystique and her wife Irene Adler. It’s very sweet and romantic and touching and it’s probably my favorite part of this whole issue.

Man in the Sky written by Stan Lee

A very short little comic about a young man named Tad Carter, who is a mutant, and the discovery of his powers. It is in fact, the original mutant story, published a year before the first X-Men comics. It’s interesting to see where it all began.

Open Volley written by Scott Lobdell

It’s the start of Generation X, which is a run I’ve wanted to read for awhile because Banshee. This issue has Jubilee writing a letter to Logan and telling him about all the students she’s met now that she’s returned to school. Banshee and Emma Frost are the ones running the place, which is actually the Massachusetts Academy, not the Xavier Institute. It’s a generation of students I know very little about and this issue basically takes you through meeting them. I know some of them from other places, like Husk and Monet St. Croix, but other’s I’d never heard of before like Synch and Mondo. All in all it’s a very good introduction to this student set.

You can find this collection here.

 Related Reviews: X-Men Rarities; Winter Carnival and The First NightThe X-Men; issues 1-10



X-Men Rarities: Winter Carnival and The First Night


[Edit: Originally published January 20, 2017]

I decided to break this into two parts after all.

Winter Carnival written by Jo Duffy

Bobby Drake gets a chance to do a little solo superheroing away from his X-Men teammates while he’s at college in this winter themed single issue as well as show off a little bit by adding a little bit of flair to Dartmouth College’s winter carnival. It’s a short fun read that gives Bobby a chance to shine in his own light instead of as part of a team, which Bobby finds he enjoys more than he expected. 

The First Night written by Chris Claremont

So Krakoa. If you’re a long time fan you know what happens, the X-Men team of Havok, Polaris, Marvel Girl, Iceman, and Angel have been captured by living landmass Krakoa, a new team must be assembled to save them. That new team is Cyclops, Banshee, Thunderbird, Storm, Sunspot, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine. This issue is the first night after Krakoa, 13 X-Men figuring out what they’re going to do. And basically we see everything through Charles eavesdropping, because of course he feels the need to snoop on everyone. 

So what’s everyone doing:

  • Alex and Lorna are cleaning up after dinner and well, making out a lil bit. Alex doesn’t want to stay since there are so many X-Men they’re not needed anymore and he wants to get back to other things. Let my son actually do work in his field of study.
  • Scott is insistent about writing up a mission report, despite Jean’s best efforts to get him to relax and join the others.
  • Sean is playing country music on a piano. 
  • Piotr is drawing and tears his shirt when he goes metal after being startled by Kurt.
  • Who… thinks that Sean and Piotr are both very talented and then shows off his juggling skills.
  • Bobby’s a little peeved, feeling a little bit like he and the others of the first X-Men team are being replaced. His interactions with Piotr, Sean, and Kurt are tense and he picks a bit of a fight with John Proudstar (Thundbird). Honestly Bobby’s being a little bit of a White Boy™.
  • Jean’s having some of the same feelings of replacement as Bobby and what exactly her place is.
  • Ororo takes a midnight flight and is joined by Warren who gets a little flirty.
  • And of course we see the beginnings of the triangle that is Scott, Jean and Logan. 

You can find this collection here.

Related Reviews: A Fire in the Sky



Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown by Walter and Louise Simonson


[Edit:  Originally published October 15, 2016]

Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown or, as I like to call it, Alex and Logan try to have a nice vacation and things go south because the X-Men can’t have nice things apparently. 

We first see Alex and Logan in a bar in Mexico where Logan’s picked a fight with some locals and Alex is rocking the James Dean look. They have a bet going, whoever uses their mutation first loses and has to buy drinks for the duration of the vacation. Alex is very determined not to lose because he doesn’t want to wind up broke.

There are people watching Logan and Alex, it’s unclear which of them is the target, but they are waiting for one of them to use their mutation so that they can make sure they have the right person. The target as it turns out is Alex, because someone wants to use Alex as a battery.

Which bring me to the bad guys. Now, you might be able to guess the nature of the villainy from the title. Meltdown. The “meltdown” referred to is the meltdown of a nuclear reactor, much like what happened in Chernobyl. It is also the name of the principal villain. General Meltdown. The other two villains of note are Dr. Nucleus and Quark (aka Scarlett). Our villains want to basically recreate Chernobyl around Alex and to use Alex as a funnel through which General Meltdown will absorb the energy from the nuclear meltdown.

Quark is charged with capturing Alex. Which she does quite effectively. However, they run into a problem when they can’t kill Logan. That doesn’t stop them from trying though. 

Quark/Scarlett winds up being a love interest for Alex, showcasing Alex’s frankly terrible love life. But as a gay, I couldn’t help but notice that sometimes when Quark/Scarlett would attempt to use her feminine “wiles” to manipulate Alex, Alex would be too focused on Logan to really be affected. Which well, only fueled my “Alex is a heavily closeted gay man theory,” which honestly is a post unto itself and I won’t do more than mention it here. 

It’s a very neat and contained story line and I liked that about it. You don’t really need to know what’s going on in the Marvel Universe at that time. It’s certainly not a detriment to know, but if you don’t know where exactly this storyline fits in it’s not the end of the world.

The art is also really fantastic. It’s got a more artsy quality than I typically associate with superhero comics. It took a little getting used to simply because it wasn’t what I was expecting, but I very much enjoyed it.

I would highly recommend this series to fans of Alex and Logan.

You can find the first issue here. (The other three issues are easily findable from that page.)

Update 5/19/2022: This storyline has received a reprint as a trade paperback! No longer are you confined to hunting through overpriced used listings for single issues.

The Uncanny X-Men Annual No. 17: The Gift Goodbye written by Scott Lobdell


[Edit: Originally published August 27, 2016]

This story has two plotlines. The first one we’re introduced to is the X-cutioner killing a rogue (evil) mutant. The second is Mastermind having Jean, Bobby, and Bishop trapped in an illusion world. That is the main storyline.

Mastermind’s illusion is kind of a clusterfuck, it lacks a lot of his normal finesse. The reason? He’s dying, and he’d sent a letter to Jean  asking to see her as a last request. When she enters the room with Bobby and Bishop the three of them get slammed into an illusion world. With Bobby leading the X Men, comprise of Charles, Havok, Polaris, and Wolverine (the X-Men are sounding a bit much like the Brotherhood, but then this is Mastermind, who was a founding member of the Brotherhood). Jean’s illusion is that she’s happily married to Scott and they actually get to raise Nathan and Rachel. Bishop’s is that his sister is alive again feat. some hilariously incompetent sentinels. 

Of course with Mastermind’s deteriorating state shit goes wonky fast and when they are finally able to confront Mastermind he reveals that he’s too weak to send them all back and how this wasn’t what he’d planned at all. He’d wanted to apologize to Jean for what he’d done to her in The Dark Phoenix Saga and give her an illusion that she could actually enjoy. Jean is able to use her powers to send Bishop’s and Bobby’s consciousnesses back into their body, but she remains with Mastermind up until almost the end until he summons the strength to shove her mind back into her body so she won’t die with him.   

The X-cutioner storyline doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. It seemed odd to me, to have the first appearance of a character be in an issue where he isn’t the primary focus. His goals are made clear, he hunts down and kills what he deems to be evil mutants. His current goal was to kill Mastermind, but that was proved unnecessary because Mastermind died anyways. It really seemed like he was being used as a way to engage the remaining three X-Men, Ororo, Warren, and Colossus, who were otherwise struggling to figure out how to help Jean, Bobby, and Bishop. It certainly worked out, but it felt weird to me. You could have taken out the entire X-cutioner subplot and the Mastermind storyline would not have been affected. It felt like a set up for the character to be important in another story arc, which on it’s own isn’t a bad thing, the way this particular set up happen just struck me as a bit disjointed. 

You can find the anthology with this issue here

Related Reviews: The Dark Phoenix Saga, Star TreX



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Star Trek/X-Men: Star TreX written by Scott Lobdell


[Edit: Originally published August 17, 2016]

Star Trek meets the X-Men. Spock takes Wolverine out with a Vulcan nerve pinch, Gladiator punches the Enterprise, and Drs. McCoy get a bit confused. 

This was so much fun to read. So much fun. I enjoyed every moment cover to cover. It was fantastic. 

The X-Men and a Shi’ar ship go through a rift and wind up in the universe of Star Trek. It’s the usual combination of Space Problems that result in time/dimension travel and general fuckery. Rifts, massive Psionic energy clouds, and the Shi’ar Empire.

Also Gary Mitchell (Star Trek) meets Proteus (X-Men) and almost goes Dark Phoenix. Well, Proteus resurrects Gary Mitchell (deceased as of the very first episode of TOS) cause he wants to fuck shit up and thinks that Gary Mitchell would make a suitable host body given his circumstances. 

Some of my favorite moments:

  • Spock and Bones flirting/bickering from page one on. It’s great.
  • Gladiator punches the Enterprise. Like twice.
  • Nurse Chapel calling “Dr. McCoy” and both Bones and Hank responding.
  • Spock dropping Wolverine with the Vulcan nerve pinch.
  • Scott and Kirk work really well together. 
  • Deathbird’s plan to fuck shit up fails so miserably that she goes with the X-Men without a fight.
  • The art after the comic of Hank and Spock playing 3D chess.

Things I found weird, but not bad.

The art styles are weirdly conflicting, but also work kind of well together. To explain: the X-Men characters and the Star Trek characters are drawn with different art styles. The Stark Trek characters are drawn very realistically proportion wise and feature wise. It’s the closest to hyper realism that I think I’ve ever seen a comic get. The X-Men on the other hand are hyper-muscled and bulky, in the way that the X-Men comics were in the ’90s. It definitely made it clear that the X-Men and Shi’ar were not of the universe that they’d fallen into. However, it was also comical at times, like when Lucas Bishop is beamed up from Delta Vega and Scotty is tiny next to Bishop’s hyper-muscular bulk.

You can find the comic here.

Related Reviews: The Dark Phoenix Saga, Uncanny X-Men Annual 17



The Last Stand by Chris Claremont


[Edit: Originally published August 13, 2016]

I think I liked reading the novelization more than watching the movie. Not that the movie doesn’t have it’s merits, but, well, you get more out of the book than you do the move. 

Part of that comes from the fact that books allow you inside a character’s head in a way that movies just don’t. My favorite scene from the novelization is a scene that takes place entirely in Jean Grey’s head that you don’t see in the movie at all. It’s a scene where Jean recalls a memory of playing pool with Scott. We get to see a lot of Jean’s memories and internal processes that we don’t get in the movie. It gives an extra level of understanding to her actions. 

There were some other things that caught my attention as well:

Warren gets more screen time (page time?), which is great because I adore Warren. We find out that he actually met Ororo when he was a kid (she’s not named but “silver hair” is kinda of a giveaway) and that he had other abilities (super long distance vision) before his wings came in. His involvement in the Battle of Alcatraz is also fleshed out a little bit a well. Him being there makes more sense.

Rogue doesn’t take the cure like she does in the movie. We see her telling Logan, before the X-Men head to Alcatraz, that she couldn’t go through with it. She still doesn’t join them to fight at Alcatraz, she instead opts to stay behind incase there’s an attack on the Institute. Which, given the events of X-Men: United, is not an unreasonable choice to make.  

I loved all the minor characters and references to the comics. Piotr’s sister Illyana gets mentioned, Bishop has a part. And there are a couple of other characters brought up as additional students, such as Doug Ramsey and the Cuckoos. 

There’s a shout out to Jean’s original green dress costume and the outfit she wore as  Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, along with Bobby’s classic briefs and boots outfit.

And my personal favorite reference to the comics, Hank’s “Oh my stars and garters.” 

I made a little asterisk in the margins of my book whenever I found a reference to the comics or characters that didn’t explicitly feature in the movies (weren’t named or just only show up in the book).

I would say this is definitely worth reading if you’ve seen the movie, and if you haven’t because you’ve heard the movie’s not so great, read this instead of watching the movie. 

Find the book here.

Related Reviews: The Dark Phoenix Saga, Smallville: City



The New Mutants Annual No. 2 Why Do We Do These Things We Do? written by Chris Claremont


[Edit: Originally published August 10, 2016]

So I’d never read any of the New Mutants stuff before. I know some of the characters from other titles, but I’d never read anything that was the New Mutants team. I really enjoyed this as a starting point honestly. There were a few things that I had to look up, the transmode virus and Xi’an Coy Mahn’s siblings, but other than that, I didn’t find I needed much prior knowledge of the New Mutants to enjoy the story.

The story: Mojo and Spiral are using Psylocke to create a world and abuducting X-Men or those closely attached the X-Men (see Xi’an’s siblings). They age them up (or down depending on their whims) and makes them their puppets. Thankfully, Warlock is immune to this and he keeps Doug Ramsey safe as well. Amara Aquila is also seemingly unaffected by the brain-washing (but not the aging) though I’m unsure why.

I like that I got a chance to know characters that I’d never really read before. Doug Ramsey and Warlock are the central characters in this annual. They’re the ones that ultimately save the day (with the help of a de-aged Captain Britain). 

Other things I really liked:

  • Seeing Illyana just starting to really figure out her powers and what they do. Up until now I’ve mostly seen Illyana in regards to post-Schism things, primarily All New X-Men.
  • Her trying to make her demons do the dishes was Fantastic.
  • Dani Moonstar. I love her character but this was the first thing I’ve actually gotten to read with her in it. 
  • Rahne’s buzzcut. 
  • After everything’s said and done and Psylocke rescued, Doug not noticing that Betsy is naked until someone else points it out and then he gets Massively Embarrassed. 
  • I like Mojo as a villain because he’s not one of the villains where Threat of Death Is Imminent. He’s clearly terribly, but he’s terrible without that extra dose of Mortal Peril™. At least, that’s been my experience with what I’ve read with him. 

Things I found odd, not bad but odd:

  • I wasn’t expecting the New Mutants team to fight so much amongst themselves, but I guess that makes sense for a young team. The original five X-Men certainly had their fair share of in-fighting early on.
  • The character named Jubilee with firework powers who was Absolutely Not Jubilation Lee, but someone else. I was very confused. 

Once again, I read this in “Danger Room Battle Archives.

Related Reviews: A Fire in the Sky, The Evil That is Cast



The Incredible Hulk Annual No. 7 The Evil that is Cast written by Roger Stern


[Edit: Originally published August 3, 2016]

This was my first time reading a Hulk comic. My only experience with the Hulk up to this point has been in the Avengers movies. This leaves my knowledge of the Hulk very, very, limited. That said I didn’t really know what to expect going into a Hulk comic in an X-Men anthology. 

It was a very simple read, and I sped through it much faster than I expected. I think that has to do with the fact, that I’ve been reading a lot of Claremont’s X-Men run recently and that can get a little bit exposition box, heavy at times. This didn’t have that, though there still were exposition boxes. 

I really like comics that focus on Iceman and Angel as friends and that’s why this Hulk annual wound up in an X-Men anthology, because it’s almost just as much about Bobby and Warren as it is about the Hulk. 

Warren’s at his place in the Rockies with his girlfriend Candy Southern. Bobby calls up asking if he can come up with his girl. When they arrive two things happen. First, Bobby’s girlfriend, gets completely enamored with Warren and basically ditches Bobby. Second, a massive new model Sentinel attacks Bobby and Warren. Bobby gets captured and Warren flies off to get help with the Sentinel hot on his tail. 

Enter the Hulk. Who is at a nearby Gamma Station with Doc Samson for treatment. Warren drawing the Sentinel there pisses off the Hulk when the Sentinel attacks Doc Samson for trying to interfere with it capturing Warren. 

They all wind up in space and the Sentinel is defeated and then they make it back to Earth. It’s a good standalone adventure, an unintentional team-up between the Hulk and a couple of the X-Men. The Hulk has his own agenda, but Warren and Bobby aren’t going to complain about the help. 

You can find the whole anthology here.

Related Reviews: Uncanny X-Men: A Fire in the Sky, Why Do We Do These Things We Do?



Uncanny X-Men: Annual No. 3 Fire in the Sky written by Chris Claremont


[Edit: Originally published July 27, 2016]

A fun, action packed, one-shot adventure. An alien has come to town. Arkon. A former menace of the Avengers. He’s looking for someone to help save his planet, but he’s not the most diplomatic of people. After assaulting Jarvis at the Avengers Mansion while looking for Thor (who’s not even there), Arkon sets his sights on Ororo. Mind you, while Arkon is doing all of this. Never once does he stop to explain what exactly he needs Thor and/or Ororo for. He just attacks. Of course when he comes to the X-Mansion the X-Men do the natural thing and fight back.

Ororo is already having issues, after misjudged power usage in the Danger Room goes massively arwy, destroying the Danger Room and the control panel. She’s also conflicted about being an X-Men, she expresses to Scott that she misses Kenya and wants a life outside of the X-Men. Scott, the poor boy, who’s never really known much a life outside the X-Men is really not the best person to offer up advice there, but he tries his best. Scott laments that Jean or the Professor aren’t there as they would be better suited to offer Ororo advice. 

Basically, when Arkon comes and tries to grab Ororo, shit goes down with the X-Men. And when Arkon kidnaps Ororo, shit gets worse. However, when they go after Ororo, they find her willing to help Arkon and his people, because it gets explained why they need her help. They need her to recharge a device that helps give sunlight to the planet so it doesn’t die. In the end Arkon pledges eternal friendship to the X-Men for helping save the planet. 

It’s a very fun, very classic adventure type story. The X-Men save the day in a good wholesome adventure, where there isn’t really a bad guy at all. There’s fighting sure, that ceases once the misunderstanding gets cleared up. 

I read this in Danger Room Battle Archives which can be found here.

Related Reviews: The Dark Phoenix SagaThe Evil That is CastWhy Do We Do These Things We Do?



Wolverine and the X-Men Vol. 6 written by Jason Aaron


[Edit: Originally published June 18, 2016]

Wolverine and a group of new students (and some old troublemakers) take a trip to the Savage Land. What could possibly go wrong, its just the Savage Land after all. Right?


Wolverine’s half brother Dog Logan decides that Wolverine needs to be taught a lesson. So he time travels over to where Logan is and creates a mess for his students. 

The students are supposed to only have to deal with dinosaurs, not the robots and wild west cowboys and cavemen that Dog Logan drags into the Savage Land. Dog Logan then tries to take charge of the students but that doesn’t last for long.

Dog Logan’s story is really, really sad honestly he’s definitely on the sympathetic villain tier for me. While he’s not doing the right thing it’s very clear where his motivations are coming from. There is a reason he is the way he is. Also warning for child abuse in Dog Logan’s backstory.

The kids are great as always. I’m so proud of Eye Boy, he’s really starting to come into his own and it’s great. Jia Jing is also fantastic and I love love love that she’s been given Kitty Pryde’s old codename (Sprite). Quentin trying to be a leader was great and it’s not exactly his fault that his plan didn’t work out. 

I don’t like Glob Herman, he’s a dick. He harasses Evan about being Kid Apocalypse to the point he makes Evan cry. Evan is sweet and gentle and does not deserve. Then the fucker goes and runs off to join Hellfire Academy. So yeah, no love here for Glob Herman.

The little glimpse of the future I thought was great. I love seeing all these other kids. There’s Carmen Drake, who appears to be the child of Kitty and Bobby. There are a few other names mentioned but you don’t see them, Warren Worthington IV and Kubrick Quire. Warren and Quentin’s kids. Because you don’t see them you can’t tell who the other parents is. At least for Quentin we’re probably meant to assume Idie.

In this future bit, we have Logan trying to stop what’s about to happen in the current time of the comics, likely to do with Idie joining the Hellfire Club at the very end of the book. Eye Man, talks Logan out of it though.

Volume Six can be found here.

Related Reviews: WatXM Vol 3, WxtXM Vol 5, WatXM: Alpha & Omega



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