Phoenix Song: Echo, written by Rebecca Roanhorse

When the Phoenix Force is given a host that isn’t a mutant you tend to get a lot of unhappy X-Men fans. Being wildly unfamiliar with the Daredevil comics, I picked up two random middle issues of “Phoenix Song: Echo” thinking that she might be a new X-character. I saw that Echo, aka Maya Lopez, was deaf and indigenous and said “Yes, please!” without really investigating further. It wasn’t until I mentioned my find to a friend that I realized she wasn’t an X-character and promptly went through the five stages of grief. 

However, I am now here to encourage all disgruntled/suspicious X-fans concerned about a non-mutant Phoenix Force host to give Echo a chance. We actually see that same sort of suspicion play out in canon with Forge, who decides, based on past familiarity with the Phoenix Force, that he knows best and that Maya needs to give up the Phoenix Force. While Maya is having trouble with control, Forge should frankly know better. I can’t think of a single time that trying to forcibly subdue the Phoenix Force has gone well, like… that’s literally how Jean Grey went Dark Phoenix. 

Image ID: A comic panel. The X-Man Forge is walking out of a bunker where Echo, aka Maya Lopez, Phoenix host, has been immobilized in a chair with psionic restraints. Forge says, over two speech bubbles, "I have to act, for the sake of...well, everyone. These psionic restraints are matched to the Phoenix's energy wavelength. They will hold you until I can investigate your powers more, understand how the Phoenix bonds to you and how to uncouple it." The Snapchat captain reads, "Hey Forge, Mr. so called Phoenix expert? When the fuck has forcibly restraining the Phoenix Force ever ended well." End ID

“Phoenix Song: Echo” is all about the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of Maya and the Phoenix. Who is Maya that the Phoenix felt she was the right host? With the Adversary looming large and wanting the Phoenix Force for himself, Maya has to go back through the past to figure out who she is as the Phoenix and if her ancestors can help her. But it’s not that simple, because it never is. Maya is being helped by River, the adopted grandson of a family friend, and River… River is all tied up with the Adversary. 

Image ID: Two comic panels. In the first Maya stands on some stairs with a Mayan village behind her and asks, "War games? Who are you, exactly?" The second, larger panel, shows a woman in a dress that combines both Mayan aesthetic and the pattern and color of the original Dark Phoenix costume. She says, "My name is Ohoyo Luak. but you may call me... the Phoenix!" End ID

I found Maya’s journey of self/Phoenix discovery to be incredibly compelling, and it was compelling even before we get to the reveal of her (spoilers) Phoenix host ancestor. The Phoenix Force has long been tied to questions and dilemmas of self and personhood, from Jean Grey to Quentin Quire, and Maya Lopez slots very neatly into this.

This mini-series was also a breath of fresh air for me regarding indigenous and disability representation. Marvel has historically not been particularly good about either of those things, Native characters get reduced to stereotype and disabilities get ignored. Maya, as she is portrayed here—I cannot speak to earlier iterations of her character—is well written to both points. Key for me, is that her ability to read lips isn’t perfect, even bolstered by her powers. She struggles with unfamiliar accents, can’t read lips in the dark, and knows sign language when lip reading is impossible due to language barrier. 

I will say that I would have liked to have seen more of Maya learning from her ancestors, particularly the Phoenix Force ancestor. The narrative jumped very quickly through Maya’s past, her talking to her ancestor about the Phoenix powers, and then to Maya fighting the Adversary and a weird hallucination, which I think boiled down to the fact that there was a lot to cover for a five-issue mini-series. Personally, I would have loved to see this as a longer run series, since Maya is now probably my favorite non-X character. 

As always, check your local comic shop for trades and single issues, but “Phoenix Song: Echo” can also be purchased online here.

If you enjoy what I do, please consider buying me a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon.

Fall 2021 Behind the Scenes Reading

Welcome to the first post of what I am calling “Behind the Scenes Reading,” where I discuss my bookshelves and what I’m reading when I’m not working on reviews for this blog. As a reminder, if you didn’t read the end-of-the-year wrap up post, this post will feature books/comics/articles I read from September through November 2021 and patrons will get a spicy little extra section of anti-recommendations. Let’s dive in:

Finished:

Franklin’s Passage by David Solway – This is a poetry collection thematically concerned with Franklin’s lost expedition. The poems are stunning and haunting and deeply impactful. I think poetry is honestly one of the best mediums to try and capture the legacy of the Franklin expedition, as there are so few concrete answers about what happened. Poetry doesn’t need answers, and can be open ended in a way that narrative fiction can’t always be. This book was very hard to get ahold of, but if you’re interested in poetry and the Franklin expedition and willing to take a gamble on a book that appears to only exist in a nebulous state of “perpetually on backorder,” you can order it directly from the publisher.

Harley Quinn The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour issues 1-3 – Tee Franklin of “Bingo Love” fame, has been writing a limited Harley/Ivy series for DC that picks up where the animated series left off, which I’ll admit I haven’t seen, but issue one of the series gives you a brief recap, so no worries there. I adore Tee Franklin’s writing and how she approaches queer relationships and when I found the first two issues at my local comic shop I was thrilled. It is ongoing, with the next issue coming out on December 14, so there’s still time to add it to your pull list.

Marauders, issues 23-25, by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto – I’ve never really kept up with current X-Men comics cause it can just get so confusing, but I have a local comic shop now and I saw from the issue 23 preview that Banshee (my beloved dad/son) was in it, and I like the Marauders team (Kitty Pryde, Bobby Drake, St. John Allerdyce etc etc)… and issue 23 turned out to be a really good place to pick up the series actually. It gave a good summary what had been going on for mutants, and was a good quick one-shot feeling story, before it switched tune for the next two issues, which also had their own self contained arc. The last issue came out on December 1st and will certainly be appearing in the Winter 2021/2022 list.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel – A Hanukkah classic, featuring the Jewish folk character Hershel of Ostropol. This has been my favorite Hanukkah book since I was a child who didn’t even celebrate Hanukkah. Despite not being from a Jewish family my mother got me holiday books from a wide variety of cultures and “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” was always my favorite. I cannot recommend this book enough, between the wonderful story and the stunning illustrations courtesy of Trina Schart Hyman it’s just a gorgeous look at what the holiday of Hanukkah means. 

Love in the Time of Scurvy: A Terror Fanzine and Brave New Worlds: A Terror AU Fanzine – You might be asking why I’m including fanzines here, well that’s because the first is 152 pages, proper book size in my opinion; the second has four discrete volumes; and it’s not like I haven’t discussed fan works before. I have a whole post about fan content for “The Terror” already, a post about fusion fanfiction, and I’ve even reviewed published fanfiction of works in the public domain. Fanfiction isn’t a lesser form of fiction and fanart isn’t a lesser form of art, and there are a ton of incredible writers and artists in the Terror fandom and they deserve appreciation.

Extras of Love in the Time of Scurvy are still for sale (as of December 3rd). Sadly the sales for Brave New Worlds, ended on December 1st. However, there is an Ao3 collection for Brave News Worlds that has some of the fanfiction in the zine and there’s a collection for Love in the Time of Scurvy too that I’ve linked here in case sales have ended by the time this goes live. All the profits from Love in the Time of Scurvy went to the Arctic Eider Society and Brave New Worlds supported Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

In Progress: 

SM 101 by Jay Weisman – I have spent a lot of time delving into queer theory and queer history and there has always been kink and BDSM present in the background during those studies and I figured it was about time that I delved into that area properly. “SM 101” came to me as a highly recommended introductory book, and so far it has lived up to the hype.

The Wilds Beyond the Witchlight – This is the D&D campaign book for the game that I am running for a handful of local friends + my brother. This is my first time running a D&D campaign, though I have run/moderated games for other systems before, so I’m reading through the book slowly, carefully and repetitively, with “The Dungeon Master’s Guide,” “Player’s Handbook,” and “Monster Manual” at my elbow to cross check things. It’s a really exciting campaign though and takes place in the Witchlight Carnival and the Feywild, and supernatural carnival + ethereal fairy world are like… two of my favorite fantasy tropes. 

X-Men Zines and Headcanons!

Two zines lying on top of each other. 

The first, a quarter-page zine, is titled "Warlock Befriends Appliances" in between "Warlock" and "Befriends" is an image of Warlock's head inside a heart.

The second, a larger, half-page zine, is titled "Jay's Book of Irrelevant Headcanon." The title is enclosed in a thought bubble that emerged from a cartoon drawing of the top half of Jay's head.

The snapchat caption reads: "Who's up for fun X-Men headcanons?"

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so enthused about anything X-Men related as I’ve been since reading “And the Rest Will Follow.” Talk about a rejuvenating fannish experience. Anyway, when I received my order for the comic from Books with Pictures I also received two of Jay’s X-Men zines “Warlock Befriends Appliances” and “Jay’s Book of Irrelevant Headcanon,” both of which are wonderfully hilarious and heartfelt in measure.

Two pages of a zine. The first page shows Warlock sitting cross-legged on the ground hugging a Tube TV in his lap.

The second page shows the top half of Warlock's as he peers at a toaster.

The snapchat caption reads: "Some appliances are easy to understand."

“Warlock Befriends Appliances” is exactly what it sounds like. Warlock, a Technarchy alien who was part of the original New Mutants, befriends everyday appliances such as a TV and a toaster.

Zine page of Warlock holding a personal massager/vibrator that is actively vibrating. Warlock's speech bubble shows a picture of a bee and a question mark.

Overlayed is a cropped image from the following page of the zine of Illyana Rasputin (Magik) standing in front of her dresser and looking into the empty top draw. It can be inferred that the massager belongs to her.

The snapchat caption reads: "Some are not. (And Illyana would like her personal massager back.)"

And also a “personal massager,” which the back panel of the zine implies belongs to Illyana Rasputin (Magik).

“Jay’s Book of Irrelevant Headcanon” is a little more robust. Dedicated to “Evan Sabahnur’s sneaker collection,” this is definitely my favorite of the two zines. I love Warlock don’t get me wrong, but I love some of the characters in this zine a bit more, like Quentin Quire (the minor but persistent Wikipedia troll) and Alex Summers (who spends a lot of time at the movies alone).

My personal favorite, which I did not take a snap of because the image wasn’t showing well with the lighting I had, is of Warren Worthington (Angel/Archangel), and it is that, as Archangel “Everything tastes subtly different than it used to,” which I just think is an absolutely fascinating headcanon about the implications of the physiological changes that Warren went through to become one of Apocolypse’s horsemen. I might just give that headcanon a nod if I ever get around to finishing that horseman Warren fic I’ve had in my drafts for ages.

The original images for “Warlock Befriends Appliances” can be found here (scroll all the way to the bottom) and “Jay’s Book of Irrelevant Headcanon” comes up in Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men episode 187: “Mermaids at the Center of Time.” (If you don’t already listen to Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, you definitely should.) Both zines (and more) can be purchased at Books with Pictures and also if you’re able to catch Jay at a convention (once those start happening again, anyway.)

If you enjoy my content, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon!

X-Men: Marvel’s Snapshots, “And The Rest Will Follow” written by Jay Edidin

Two copies of Marvels Snapshots: X-Men propped up against a laptop screen. The copy in the front has the alternate cover, with a classic comics look a young Scott Summers is surrounded by the shadowed figures of the Fantastic Four, Spiderman and Iron Man. The tagline reads "It's an age of marvels and monsters, Scott Summers! Time to decide, which are you?!"
The one to the back is the standard cover, with an adult Scott Summers portrayed from the shoulders up firing his eye beams down at a diagonal across the cover. 
The snapchat subtitle reads, "Time for X-Men."

So I went into this excited because I’ve love Jay’s work already and I also trust Jay as someone with good opinions and thoughts on the Summers brothers. 

Now I’ve read one-shots/minis series’ of Scott Summers’ origin story before, the two that come immediately to mind are “X-Men: Children of the Atom” and “X-Men Origins: Cyclops,” but “Snapshots” rapidly outpaced them as my favorite. It’s not the most comprehensive look at Scott’s backstory, it doesn’t even begin to touch on Mr. Sinister, but what it does do is create a tangible look at how Scott’s past has impacted his present, in particular his past prior to Professor X and the X-Men. 

The story is focused on Scott during his time at the orphanage where he lived after the plane crash that “killed” his parents prior to and immediately after his mutation manifesting, and the main plot is Scott trying to figure out where he fits in the world and struggling with a slew of mental health issues after the plane crash. 

At the same time superheroes emerge on the world stage, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, etc. and we get to see Scott view superheroes through the eyes of a civilian. Not Cyclops, not even knowing he’s got powers of his own yet. One line I particularly loved was, “They talk like the Fantastic Four are movie characters, but they’re real people,” which I think is just a fantastic thing to think about considering the kind of public perception Scott himself attains as an adult. 

The main thread that the story follows is Scott hyper-fixating on superheroes and the idea of superheroes being born from tragic circumstances, but helping people. The experiences of the Fantastic Four gaining their powers through a freak accident is paralleled with Scott’s plane crash: “Four people climb into a cockpit. Strap in. Take off. Something goes horribly, horribly, wrong.”  

Comic panel. A young Scott Summers sitss as a table writing, there are magazines and books about superheroes surrounding him.
Scott's narration reads "I obsess about things. Get fixated and I can't let go. I know that. But all of this feels important, like something I should recognize--maybe something that got lost with everything else."
The snapchat caption reads "That's hyper-fixation bay-be" in all capital letters.

This leads to Scott going to see Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic speak, where he winds up involved in his first superhero/super villain fight as a bystander. This leads to Scott’s budding interest in tactical planning and then his mutation goes off.

Comic panel. A young Scott Summers is shown in the foreground to the right side of the panel reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War. In the center background there are some menacing looking bully types and to the left there is a young child running and the edge of a swing set. 
Scott's narration reads: "I know I'm obsessing again. But it makes sense like almost nothing else ever has. I want things to be as simple as Sun Tzu makes them sound." 
The Snapchat caption reads: "Why am I not surprised that Scott would get special interest invested in The Art of War."

The flashback section concludes with Scott struggling once again with who he is. Is he a monster that the Fantastic Four would fight? Or is he like them, can he help? And, because this is Scott Summers the answer is the latter. Something else I really loved about this scene was that Scott came to that realization on his own, he didn’t need Professor X to validate his worth.

Four comic panels.
Panel 1: A close up of an air conditioning unit being help up on a crane, the cables holding it up are breaking.
Panel 2. Close up of the faces of several white men, frightened and trapped underneath what appears to be fallen scaffolding
Panel 3: Close up of Scott's face his eyes are squeezed shut and his hand is shaking as he lowers his ruby quartz glasses. 
Panel 4: Close up of the cable holding the air conditioning unit breaking with a snap.
Scott's narration, which runs over all four panels: "If I do that-- if anyone sees-- there has to be something else. But there isn't. Those men probably have families. Kids. I'm not a monster. I'm not. Well, Summers, you wanted to make a difference. To do something." 
Snapchat caption: "You can do it Scott!!!"

Which brings us to the very final scene: in the nebulous “present” Scott is giving orders for what appears to be a mission to rescue three of the Fantastic Four, and we see Scott as Cyclops taking to Reed Richards and he quotes to Reed something that Reed had said during a TV interview while Scott was at the orphanage. That, for me, brought everything together absolutely perfectly. In one speech bubble, we understand the importance of the entire rest of the story and how foundational these early experiences were for Scott. It’s also just a great ending from a storytelling perspective too, it’s a beautifully wrapped one-shot that doesn’t leave you wanting for anything. 

One more thing of note, if you are neurodivergent like myself, you may have noticed my use of the word “hyper-fixation” which is a term used in describing certain behaviors characteristic of autism and ADHD. Scott reads incredibly neurodivergent and not just in a throw away sense and it’s very easy to pick up if you are familiar with those kinds of neurodivergencies. Furthermore, this is intentional, Jay has stated himself that he was writing Scott as autistic. Of course, Word of God only means so much, but in my opinion, the proof is more than there. 

While this issue came out several weeks ago, you may still be able to find it by reaching out to your local comic book shop — I got mine through Books with Pictures — and you can get it in digital through comiXology.

If you enjoy my content, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon!

Scott Summers and Public Speaking in X-Men: Schism

Notes:

  1. This is an essay I originally wrote for a rhetoric and writing class in 2015 and cleaned up in 2017. As a result, the tone of the paper is skewed towards the perspective of someone who is unfamiliar with the X-Men, because of this it may come across as over explanatory to fans familiar with the issues and plotlines discussed.

In the first issue of X-Men: Schism, mutant leader of the X-Men, Scott Summers, codename Cyclops, delivers a speech to the International Arms Control Conference in Switzerland. This speech fails quite spectacularly for multiple reasons, many being out of the rhetor’s control. The speech concerns decommissioning the Sentinel weapons that have been created by humans for the purpose of hunting and tracking down mutants, because many humans fear and hate mutants. Scott explains in the speech that he wants to protect the remaining mutants since their numbers have been decimated, going from millions of mutants to just a few hundred, and he states that he believes that there are now more Sentinels than mutants themselves (Aaron #1-8/2). This decimation event, called M-Day within the comics, occurred when the Scarlet Witch depowered 90% of the world’s mutant population (David #1-9/1).

Continue reading “Scott Summers and Public Speaking in X-Men: Schism”

All Your Faves Are Trans!

All of your favorite characters are trans. All of them.
Feat. Guest Murphy Lee

In my consolidating of the content I’ve created I figured it would be a good idea to get these puppies circulating again. This is episode one of the two episode demo of the podcast I assembled for a class in college. They’ve been wasting away on my Soundcloud since then, but they’ve got some good things to say.

Guest Murphy Leigh has since changed their social media from what is listed in the podcast, and can be found most places as nomoremetaphors.

The second and final episode will go up the week of Christmas  to make up for there being no content last month due to setting up this blog.

TRANSCRIPT BELOW THE CUT:

Continue reading “All Your Faves Are Trans!”

Iceman: Thawing Out written by Sina Grace

(repost, because I’m an idiot with two thumbs who deleted the original)

image

[Edit: Originally published June 22, 2018]

Love from parents is the trickiest kind of love. You want to love your parents and you want your parents to love you. I think that’s something that every child wants, no matter how badly their parents might treat them.

Throughout “Thawing Out” Bobby’s antics as Iceman of the X-Men, antics that vary from attempting to help a recently manifested mutant to having to fight the Purifiers or Juggernaut, are set against multiple interactions and conversations that Bobby has with his parents. Conversations that deal with Bobby being a mutant and, in the last two issues of the volume, him being gay. The conversations are difficult to say the least. The Drakes’ reactions to Bobby’s being a mutant and being gay remind me somewhat of my parents reactions to me and my variety of queerness.

There are few things I respect more than a writer who can handle such painful conversations with nuance and care that doesn’t leave the reader overwhelmed and hurting. I have had to put down so many books that I was hoping to enjoy because of writing that left me too hurt to continue, books that I have seen lauded as Peak Representation™. To that point as well, one reason the writing is so careful and poignant is that the writer Sina Grace is a gay man himself. The books that have left me hurt and disappointed? Written by cis people (in the case of trans books) or straight women (in the case of the gay books).

In some respects the 2017 Iceman run might be a confusing place to start for a queer kid looking to get into comics, it does drop you into the middle of things, but it can also be a really great place to start. If you start with this? Every other comic you read with Bobby, even the ones written before he came out, are bathed in a whole new light. I know I’ve found great enjoyment in reading older comics with this knowledge and I’ve been reading comics for years. I can’t imagine how wonderful it must be for new readers with gay Iceman being the only Iceman they know.

You can find Iceman Vol 1. Thawing Out here.

Related Reviews: Iceman issue 11X-Men Rarities: The Winter Carnival and The First Night, and The X-Men issues 1-10

Snaps:

image
image

Iceman issue 11 by Sina Grace

image

[Edit: Originally published May 25, 2018]

First things first, it’s frankly criminal that Marvel canceled Iceman. I know I’m late making my opinion known about that but I’ve been busy.

I wanted to look at issue 11 for a number of reasons. Firstly, and this ties in with Iceman being cancelled, it doesn’t feel like the last issue of a series. It feels like a bit of an abrupt ending. However, I feel like it’s safe to assume that everyone involved was probably hoping for a longer run and therefore, you can’t really blame anyone but the Marvel higher ups for that. 

Second, the double narrative it provides with Bobby and Mr. Poklemba, which is illustrated fantastically with two different art styles. You have a very traditional modern art style for the current day story with adult Bobby and Mr. Poklemba the Drake’s neighbor across the way, who is struggling with his mutation and being a mutant, and you have a very ’60s style of art, like that of the early X-Men comics, showing Bobby as a child, when he’s first dealing with his mutation. For the most part I liked this juxtaposition, but at first it was jarring, because none of the other issues in Absolute Zero were like that. 

Third. This Tumblr post:

image

Got me thinking about the portrayal of Mr. Poklemba. He’s paralleled to Bobby through the flashbacks, neither of them wanting to think that they’re mutants. being told by parents and society to hate mutants. Now in terms of LGBTQ things in Iceman, I have no complaints, my little gay heart loves every bit of it. However, if we’re looking at the portrayal of mutant as minority. This pattern in the above post plays out to some extent here. 

Iceman and Rictor go over to Mr. Poklemba’s house to try to calm him down and he immediately attacks him, because he was “warned about mutants” and he’s “not like them.” Things do not remain that tense, because it is after all a single issue, and Bobby talks Mr. Poklemba down and brings him to The Xavier Institute (they have got to stop changing the school’s name, the last time I read any recent Marvel comics it was still the Jean Grey School).

Now there is more than that to unpack in that scene, because with the paralleling of Bobby and Mr. Poklemba we also see how one breaks out of the teachings of parents and society. And in this issue too, we also see some character development on the part of Mr. and Mrs. Drake. Especially considering the disastrous dinner in the previous issue.

The next review will be out in just under two weeks on Wednesday June 6th. 

I read Iceman issue 11 compiled in the trade paperback Absolute Zero.

Related Reviews: X-Men Rarities: The Winter Carnival and The First Night and The X-Men issues 1-10, Iceman: Thawing Out

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

image

[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

Snaps:

image
image

Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown by Walter and Louise Simonson

image

[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.