Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chronological X-Men - The Phoenix Saga Part 4 Review

The Phoenix Saga!

The Uncanny X-Men #116 To Save the Savage Land
Classic X-Men #22 Solace

This issue concludes this particular turn in the Savage Land for the X-Men. Garokk and Zaladane’s men have captured Ka-Zar, Cyclops and Banshee leaving it up to Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm and Wolverine to rescue them. I don’t know how I feel about the scene where Logan seems to be communicating with Zabu and that the animal can actually understand what Logan is saying. We get another all out brawl between the X-Men and a mini-army, which seems to be happening a lot recently – it doesn’t help that the X-Men escape in the exact same way from Garokk’s crumbling city as they did from Magneto’s base underneath the volcano. There is a little subplot with Ororo’s claustrophobia when she fails to save Garokk from falling to his death (I bet you he’ll show up again later, it seems that any villain that dies in the Savage Land doesn’t actually die) and that effects Ororo deeply. Of course that leads directly into the back up story where she spends time off in the Savage Land alone trying to cope with the ever increasing difficult fact that as an X-Man her actions could lead to the death of someone. She saves a woman and wakes up on her flying ship in some alternate reality. I don’t know if I like this or not, it feels a little too ‘The Neverending Story’ for my tastes. While I was enjoying this particular Savage Land plot, I’m glad that it has been wrapped up and the issue ends with them leaving.

The Uncanny X-Men #117 Psi War!
Classic X-Men #23 Nightcrawler’s High Adventure

Well this time we get a little more of Charles’ history fleshed out. We learn that Charles and Moira dated before he and Cain were drafted and went off to war and for some as of now unknown reason Moira decides to break up with Charles via a Dear John letter. After the war (while Charles was dealing with the apparent death of his step brother) Charles decided to travel. He ends up in Cairo where he runs into a young pickpocket who he later discovers is Ororo and begins to chase her through the city only to get blindsided by a psi-blast from an unknown source. It doesn’t take long for him to find out what’s going on and meets an evil man by the name of Amahl Al Farouk and the two of them fight an epic battle on the astral plane that leads to Amahl’s body shutting down and he is now trapped within his mind. It’s sort of like a reverse vegetative state where his body has shut down and his mind hasn’t instead of the other way around. It’s hard to be surprised by his ‘death’ when I know he later becomes The Shadow King. The additional page is boring, it’s just Logan pining away over the loss of Jean. The back up feature shows Kurt trying to save a woman from falling off of the ship that has saved them in the middle of a storm. He ends up saving her but they get washed away onto an island where the girl is almost sacrificed by a village of beastmen. Kurt saves her again and the issue ends with him getting rescued.

The Uncanny X-Men #118 The Submergence of Japan!
Classic X-Men #24 Vacation

Well this issue brings us the first appearances of a few characters (first appearance altogether and first time in an X-book) and the returns of a few characters as well. The new characters are Mosses Magnum (I think this is the first time the Mandroids show up too, but they’re robots so I didn’t really pay too much attention to when they first showed up) and Mariko Yashida. Colleen Wing and Iron Fist are in the book as well, but it’s not the first time the X-Men have run into the two of them. The returns are Misty Knight, Sunfire and through the additional pages we see Mastermind (who is also using his abilities to be a new character ‘Nikos.’) Charles has decided to leave Earth behind and is now on the Shi-ar homeworld with Lilandra. Jean is on her vacation in Greece, her purse is stolen – it turns out by children who Mastermind who is manipulating Jean into falling in love with Nikos so he can corrupt her and turn her into his own personal Black Queen - so by this point Mastermind has now joined, or is in the process of joining the Hellfire Club. The main story shows us that Japan is on the verge of being destroyed by a series of earthquakes and it’s up to the X-Men, Sunfire, Colleen and Misty to save Japan from being destroyed. I liked the main story but it did feel kind of blah. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t care for how years later the entire X-Universe seems to revolve around Wolverine so I know that they will be going into that aspect of the character soon, and it’s not really something I’m looking forward to.

The Uncanny X-Men #119 Twas the Night Before Christmas
Classic X-Men #25 Just Don’t Look In Its Eyes

I’m going to talk about the back up story first this time, not because it takes place before the main story, I just want to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. It’s basically Logan giving n to his animal instincts and hunting out in the snow not harming anyone until a bear attacks him and then he has to kill it. The whole time he’s being annoyed by the fact that there’s an amateur hunter trying to track him. Eventually this would be hunter takes his shot only to have Logan catch the arrow and throw it back to him. In a word… boring. The main story shows the conclusion of the battle to save Japan from destruction at the hands of Moses Magnum. The second half of this story actually works better than the first part, it isn’t just straight up action but you see the team come together, Piotr continues to struggle with the fact that he’s the strongest X-Man yet he seems to be the one who is constantly messing up and doing more harm than good in their battles. Sean gets to save the day with his sonic scream and stops Moses from triggering an earthquake that will sink Japan, but it ends up being too much for Sean and he ends up in a coma (not for long though.) The X-Men find themselves yet again on ‘death watch’ waiting to see if another one of their friends will die. The additional pages show us that Moses was given his abilities and knowledge by Apocalypse (so this is his first appearance in the X-Men mythology but it’s not his first appearance in the ‘book’ – have I mentioned how happy I’ll be when the back stories start to become few and far between instead of every issue?) We also see Jean who has now left Greece and meets up with Moira, Lorna, Alex and Jamie Madrox. Agnus MacWhirter returns wanting justice from Moira when the X-Men ‘rented’ a hovercraft from him like ten issues ago. He breaks in to the Muir Island Mutant Research Facility, passes by the door marked ‘Mutant X’ and is brutally murdered. While we don’t see the death actually take place the issue ends with ‘a life ends and a nightmare is born,’ so it’s pretty obvious that he dies.

The Uncanny X-Men #120 Wanted: Wolverine, Dead or Alive!
Classic X-Men #26 So Much In Common!

Again I’m going to start with the back up story here. This story takes place right after the X-Men return from Calgary fighting Alpha Flight. It is kind of a boring story (and I don’t like the art for it at all but that’s not important right now.) The X-Men are at the bar near the Xavier Institute taking some time to cool off after everything that’s happened recently and Logan decides to tell everyone about a particular con he used to run twenty years ago. As the story progresses we find out that Sean was actually in the same place back then while he was working for Interpol on a mission. In the end Logan and Sean bond over the fact that they both were ‘government men.’ Like I said, it was a boring story and it was mostly for filler anyway. The main story shows us the X-Men trying to return from Japan only to be ambushed by Weapon Alpha – James Hudson, only now he’s going by the name Vindicator and we see Aurora, Northstar, Sasquatch, Shaman and Snow-Bird all for the first time in the X-Books. James mentions Heather, but she doesn’t show up in the main issue, only in the additional pages, which I’ll get into in a bit – not the Heather part though. Most of the issue shows the X-Men, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight splitting up and going in random directions to try to avoid Alpha Flight, only it doesn’t go so week because they have a Cerebro-like device of their own and use it to track all the X-Men and end up capturing Kurt and Logan. The additional pages are basically Jean showing off her powers in front of Moira while they’re on a break in the middle of returning to Muir Isle. I really liked this issue but the extra pages and the back up feature in Classics were not needed at all so if I ever do read this story again I’m definitely skipping the ‘Classics’ half of this storyline.

The Uncanny X-Men #121 Shoot-Out At The Stampede!
Classic X-Men #27 Backlash!

This issue concludes the battle between the X-Men and Alpha Flight. Sean and the girls remain trapped outside of an invisible mystic force field that Shaman created while Piotr, Ororo and Scott battle Alpha Flight and try to free Logan and Kurt. The storm that Shaman created to force the plane that the X-Men were using down begins to rage out of control, farther beyond the point where Shaman can control it. Ororo manages to stop the storm just before she is ambushed by Northstar. Ultimately Logan decides to give himself up in order to save his friends. The additional pages show Canada’s government going at it with Japan’s in order to call off Alpha Flight’s attack, in the end they decide to let Logan go free unknown to anyone at the time, and the final page shows that Logan did indeed escape, but I would rather have the extra pages show how he escaped instead of cutting from the plane with the X-Men and Logan to the torn up transport vehicle. I’m not a fan of the back up story at all. First off It has to take place later in the time line because Jean is back with Scott and they both know the other is alive, which places this one at least 4 issues past the current one. Secondly, I know there’s always been a push pull between Jean and Logan but he comes off extremely forceful with her in this one, and after she asks him to stop several times Logan sort of comes off like a creepy serial killer stalker than someone who is in love with Jean. The back up stories haven’t been doing too well lately which is sad.

The Uncanny X-Men #116 To Save the Savage Land: B
Classic X-Men #22 Solace: F
The Uncanny X-Men #117 Psi War!: A
Classic X-Men #23 Nightcrawler’s High Adventure: D
The Uncanny X-Men #118 The Submergence of Japan!: B-
Classic X-Men #24 Vacation: A
The Uncanny X-Men #119 Twas the Night Before Christmas: B
Classic X-Men #25 Just Don’t Look In Its Eyes: F
The Uncanny X-Men #120 Wanted: Wolverine, Dead or Alive!: A
Classic X-Men #26 So Much In Common!: F
The Uncanny X-Men #121 Shoot-Out At The Stampede!: A
Classic X-Men #27 Backlash!: F

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