Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chronological X-Men - Part 11 Review

Oh thank heaven … part eleven!  
(The Uncanny)X-Men #54 Wanted: Dead or Alive…Cyclops!/The Million Dollar Angel-
(The Uncanny)X-Men #55 The Living Pharaoh!/Where Angels Dare to Tread! -
(The Uncanny)X-Men #56 What is…the Power?/The Flying A-Bomb!-
This is the first time we see Scott’s brother Alex Summers as well as the villain The Living Pharaoh, who later becomes The Living Monolith – again this is kind of hard to get into without trying desperately to forget the connection between the Summers’ family, The Living Monolith and Apocalypse (who hasn’t even been introduced yet.) One thing that’s odd is that Scott mentions that Alex is now old enough to drink, which at means that Alex’s graduation is from college and not high school because he has to be at least 21. This is kind of weird because he’s supposed to be Scott’s younger brother and events in the near future point to at least three years having passed since the start of this series and Bobby turned 18 like 20 issues (or so) ago and he’s the youngest X-Man… anyway… the whole thing is odd because in a few more issues the tagline ‘The Strangest Teens of All’ starts to reappear predominantly on the cover. Anyway, the story itself was a good read and had the feel of watching an old Egyptian Mummy movie (even though there are no mummies at all in this story. Personally though, I thought it was a bit odd that Scott had never before mentioned that he had a younger brother – but that’s just me.
The back up feature finally gives us Warren’s origin story starting with him as a little boy who likes to climb on things and follows him all the way through his time at a private (what I’m assuming is high) school to his first adventure as ‘The Avenging Angel’ – a name which he still uses off and on mostly when he breaks away from the X-Men and goes solo. One thing that I thought was a nice little touch was that in the flash backs Bobby is more ‘snowy’ and less ‘icy’ the more ice-like look of Bobby’s didn’t appear until later on in the series, well after Jean joined the team.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #57 The Sentinels Live!/The Female of the Species!-
(The Uncanny)X-Men #58 Mission: Murder!-
(The Uncanny)X-Men #59 Do or Die, Baby!-
The next storyline picks up right where the last one left off (I only broke it up because of how some of it is edited it appears that there was a lapse in time at least a little, that isn’t explained so it sort of implies that enough time has passed for this to at the very least be the second chapter of the previous story. There are a bunch of returns here, Bolivar Trask is seen through a series of flashbacks, as well as Lorna Dane (who is now living in Manhattan and while not officially with the X-Men it seems like she’s considered to be part of the team; Alex is also back along with the Sentinels. Banshee, Mesmero, Magneto, Toad, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Mastermind, Blob, Unus and Vanisher all make cameos. In the way of new characters we get Judge Chalmers (who makes sporadic appearances in the future as well as Larry Trask, Bolivar’s son who blames the X-Men for the death of his father, Professor Ahmet Abdol who we met in the last story as ‘The Living Pharaoh/Monolith and a new breed of ‘Neo’ Sentinels that have the ability to adapt and counter act any given mutant’s specific power. And finally we see Dr. Lykos (who plays a larger role in the next story.) This adventure wraps up a few things… Alex officially takes the name Havok, we find out that Mesmero hasn’t really been working for Magneto over these past few months (and in the story that introduced Lorna and Mesmero) but really a robotic version of Magneto. The only thing I didn’t really care for was the reveal of Larry Trask actually being a mutant. My only problem with it was the fact that somehow Larry’s medallion not only negates his mutant powers (of seeing the future) but also erases his memory of his ability to do this. It would have been alright if they at least attempted to explain how that was possible but they just sort of shoehorned that in. Another thing that was actually more interesting was that Professor Abdol’s mutant powers began to re-activate in front of a group of people, so that right there throws out his secret identity.
This storyline also sees the end of the back up features. This time we visit Jean and her abilities. There was no sense going into her origin in a back up story since we saw (what was the then current origin) introduction of Jean back in issue one. This story was all about her powers and how she can use them. There was nothing really special there but it is what it is, you know? I did find it really funny that in the first page of the story there’s a blurb that basically says nothing more than ‘OMG guys…. A girl wrote this story!’- I know things were different back in the 60s but that seems really funny to me. What makes it even more strange is that this particular story goes with the other stories where the X-Men explained their own respective powers, but with those other stories you get a sort of sense of a time frame but with Jean's story it almost reads like 'a day in the life of Jean Grey' as opposed to her explaining how her powers work. It sort of feels like a back up back up feature instead of just a back up feature- if that makes any sense.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #60 In the Shadow of… Sauron! -
(The Uncanny)X-Men #61 Monsters Also Weep-
Most of the characters from the last storyline return for a cameo just to wrap up the Sentinel part of that chapter. Lorna officially joins the X-Men as they take an injured Havok to see Dr. Lykos to help him recover from his battle with the Sentinels. Dr. Lykos gets his first full appearance since he only popped in for the very last page of the last story, and through a series of flashbacks we see his life as a child, his father, Dr. Anderssen and his daughter Tanya.  Karl Lykos has been hypnotizing his patients as a means to feed off of their energy in order to sustain his own life, but after ‘treating’ Alex Karl is transformed into Sauron and ends up hypnotizing Warren and using him to escape his battle with the X-Men. The X-Men meet Tanya (the love of Karl’s life) and follow her back to Antarctica where she tries desperately to find Karl. The only problem is it has been too long since Karl has absorbed any energy and is forced to throw himself off of a cliff in an attempt to keep from having to feed off of Tanya.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #62 Strangers in a Savage Land-
(The Uncanny)X-Men #63 War in the World Below!-
This story feels a little bit off following the events of the last story. The fault of that can be chalked up to the writing; there was a time jump between the end of the last story and the start of this one. Some of it is attempted to be explained away in a series of flashbacks with Angel so that takes care of some of that but it’s just left up to assume that the rest of the X-Men would have climbed down the cliff to look for Sauron. I’m sure they would, but it seems kind of odd considering other times when the people they’ve fought have attempted to kill themselves the X-Men just seem to move on, so it’s pretty obvious that they only went after Sauron as a plot device to get them back into the Savage Land. With the Savage Land back we also get the return of Ka-Zar and Zabu (and mentioned earlier because of the flashbacks Angel guides us through we get Tanya Anderssen, Dr. Anderssen, Lorna and Alex.) This story also beings us the return of Magneto, now going by ‘the Creator’ who after faking his death stumbled on The Savage Land and built a device that create mutants. Something has happened to Magneto though because now he is forced to wear a metal brace on his neck and arms, it could be because of his fall to his ‘death’ last time we saw him, or it could even be because he had to channel his energy for a prolonged period of time into the Magneto robot that was working with Mesmero up until recently – either way it wasn’t explained before Magneto once again ‘died’ this time trapped in an explosion of his lab. His mutant machine did bring us a few new characters: Equilibrius, Brainchild, Lupo, Gaza, Piper (who is quickly killed by Ka-Zar), Amphibius, Barbarus and Lorelei; however once Magneto’s machine is destroyed all of the Neo-Mutants return to their pre-enhanced states.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #64 The Coming of Sunfire!-
This issue introduces us to Shiro Yoshida – Sunfire, his uncle Tomo Yoshida and Shiro’s father Saburo. This is sort of a filler issue, but it’s pretty substantial all things considered. We learn that Tomo has been manipulating his nephew Shiro into blaming America for the death of his mother. In reality though Tomo was a hate filled man who couldn’t get over Saburo being willing to forgive America for the war and spends years manipulating Shiro, turning him into the perfect weapon to seek revenge. Shiro eventually sees the light which forces Tomo to kill Saburo and in turn Shiro kills his own uncle.  I liked it because this was actually the first time that the X-Men truly failed someone and that alone is a game changer. There are a few mistakes, but nothing really significant so it’s easy to over look, but you would think that 64 issues in they would stop making mistakes like calling characters by different names.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #65 Before I’d Be Slave…-
Speaking of game changers… this issue is HUGE. It turns out that Charles Xavier never died but instead he’s been held up in the basement of the mansion preparing for an intergalactic war that was on the verge of breaking out. So there’s a whole lot of ret-conning going on here. Charles isn’t dead, it was really The Changeling who contacted Charles and asked him for help in seeking redemption for the things he had done because he had just found out he was dying. Charles split his powers between Changeling and Jean (which I’m till not sure how they explain that one away, you can’t just give your powers to someone else, and this will be changed again once they get to tinkering with Jean’s own timeline, but that’s a story for a different time….) Havok officially joins the X-Men – nothing big here – just in time to fight the Z’Nox. I guess this was supposed to be a good story, I get the point of it, but some of it just seems odd. For example, Lorna stays behind with Charles while the others go fight the Z’Nox, wouldn’t it have made sense for her to go since she has magnetic powers? That could have been just as helpful as Jean’s telekinetic powers. Why did Charles have Lorna contact the X-Men when he could have just done it telepathically? Why did Charles reveal himself to Lorna and Alex of all people, when he kept everything hidden from everyone but Jean? Why tell the three most recent members of the team instead of the three original members? Like I said, there were just a few too many things that seemed weird. On the plus side (if you can call it that) we get the first appearances of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Crystal (who later goes on to marry Quicksilver.)
(The Uncanny)X-Men #66 The Mutants and the Monster-
Well this issue closes the book on the X-Men’s first set of adventures, and I’m kind of bitter sweet with it. I know they couldn’t have done a huge story since they only had one issue to spare, but it almost would have been better if the series ended with the last issue and Charles in a coma. I hate that so much of the final story was devoted to The Hulk/Bruce Banner (and a little bit of Major Glenn Talbot) the story should be about the X-Men, not other characters – but still. It’s made even stranger by the apparent connection that Charles and Bruce share, it wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t wait until the very last issue of the series to bring it up. I don’t know though, I wasn’t a big fan of the last story, but it wrapped up things that had gone on for over the past 20 plus issues, so it would have been hard to follow that up anyway let alone have to follow it up with a self contained story that has to be strong enough to bow the series out with.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #54 Wanted: Dead or Alive…Cyclops!/The Million Dollar Angel: A
(The Uncanny)X-Men #55 The Living Pharaoh!/Where Angels Dare to Tread!: A
(The Uncanny)X-Men #56 What is…the Power?/The Flying A-Bomb!: A
(The Uncanny)X-Men #57 The Sentinels Live!/The Female of the Species!: B+
(The Uncanny)X-Men #58 Mission: Murder!: B+
(The Uncanny)X-Men #59 Do or Die, Baby!: B+
(The Uncanny)X-Men #60 In the Shadow of… Sauron!: B
(The Uncanny)X-Men #61 Monsters Also Weep: B
(The Uncanny)X-Men #62 Strangers in a Savage Land: B
(The Uncanny)X-Men #63 War in the World Below!: B
(The Uncanny)X-Men #64 The Coming of Sunfire!: A
(The Uncanny)X-Men #65 Before I’d Be Slave…: C
(The Uncanny)X-Men #66 The Mutants and the Monster: D

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