Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chronological X-Men - The Demon Bear Review

The Demon\Spirit Bear!

The New Mutants #18 – Death-Hunt

Okay I was really looking forward to coming back to this title – there’s something about it that seems more fresh and new compared to Uncanny X-Men or even Dazzler; it helps that it’s got some of my favorite characters: Sam and Illyana. We do get a few changes with this story arch, it’s the first time we meet Warlock and his father Magus; Rahne appears to be able to connect through her rapport with Dani when she’s in her human form now – although that could be a mistake. We see a young woman who is obviously Rachel Summers from the Days of Future Past storyline, who is now in the past to stop her future from coming true (which doesn’t make sense because I thought that timeline was already wiped out when the older Kitty went back to her timeline after stopping Robert Kelly from being killed. We do get a few pieces of information here, we now know that in Rachel’s timeline Illyana never spent any time in Limbo, instead she stayed on Earth and was allowed to age normally, Charles never regained his ability to walk which implies that in Rachel’s timeline the Brood saga never happened. I do like the idea of the Demon Bear hunting Dani but I would have liked a bit more of a build up to it. We know she’s been preparing for the battle for sometime now but we only see one of her Danger Room sessions. I also would have liked to see more tension between Dani and Illyana they should have played that up a bit more than they did. I don’t know what to think about Warlock yet, I like some of the storylines that he’s tied to in the future, but I don’t really know if I like the character.

The New Mutants #19 – Siege
The New Mutants #20 - Badlands

The New Mutants take Dani’s severely damaged body to the hospital where they desperately try to keep the Demon Bear from finishing off Dani who is barely clinging to life while multiple doctors operate on her. Some aspects of the plot are really interesting, Rahne struggling with her religion and seeing her best friend suffer, plus having to deal with the fact that Illyana is a magical being who basically spent time in what Rahne would view as hell. Sam’s willingness to assume that Illyana would kill Amara because Illyana is truly evil, the changes in the appearance of Illyana’s Soulsword, Rahne’s change in appearance in her wolf form; there are a lot of interesting changes here. Is Rahne changing because of her rapport with Dani and is she succumbing to the Demon Bear’s influence? Are the changes in Illyana’s Soulsword and her willingness to potentially kill Amara in order to exorcise the demon that was possessing her hints that another Bloodstone is about to manifest? And what’s up with the armor that appears on Illyana’s body when she’s injured? I know that they do explain it away in the future but it does need more than ‘it’s an extension of her magicks that she never knew she had and when it becomes spikey it is because her darker side is taking over.’ I don’t know how I feel about the big payoff being that the Demon Bear is this entity (I know that later it gets spelled out that he’s an extension of the Adversary during the whole Forge/Naze/Adversary/Cheyenne storyline that I’ll be reading soon) was worth it and I don’t really understand why the Demon Bear transformed the nurse and police officer into Cheyenne and I don’t get why Dani’s parents (also the first time we see them) William and Peg Lonestar were sort of absorbed into the Demon Bear’s entity. The whole Warlock and Magus plotline is really an after thought in these two issues and I’m actually okay with that. Of course the major thing here isn’t only the return of Dani’s parents but also the fact that her injuries were so severe that even after Storm used the Morlocks’ healer Dani still can’t walk.

The New Mutants #21 – Slumber Party

This fun little issue revolves around the New Mutants having a slumber party with some of the girls from the town. You know, I never really noticed it before but I’m glad that they introduced Warlock and that the team pretty much forces Charles to take him on as a student and Doug makes more appearances (he’ll join the team shortly) – it didn’t dawn on me before that Sam and Roberto are the only men on the team. It finally sunk in when at the party we have Rahne, Illyana, Dani, Amara (and previously Xi’an) and yet there are only Sam and Roberto. Magneto’s Asteroid M being destroyed (either by Warlock or Magus) seems a bit odd and out of place, but I’m willing to over look it and assume it’s building up to something.  I like that they played on Doug feeling upset and betrayed by his friends who knew that he was a mutant and kept it from him, but it would have been a better payoff if they had shown Doug interacting with anyone other than Kitty. I really want to know how they explained away the fact that the girls saw Lockheed move, and all the odd events they saw at the school – it’s safe to assume that Charles simply made them forget. One thing – I really want to know what was up with Illyana and her spacesuit and gun and how she was able to shed the Techno Organic Virus that Warlock gave to her when they touched. One thing that kind of confused me is why Rahne was willing to risk her life to help Warlock, yet at the same time she spends the issue struggling with her spirituality and how she was raised. It is a little odd that Rhane thinks she’s evil, yet she doesn’t understand how the world can turn against her and why God would let it happen, and she’s more than willing to go to bat for Warlock, yet every chance she gets Rahne is more than willing to let everyone know how she feels about Illyana.

The Uncanny X-Men #184 – The Past … Of Future Days

We get the first appearances of Forge (who was mentioned last issue) and Naze as Raven and Valerie Cooper witness a heated argument about how Forge has turned his back on his fellow Cheyenne and how they are in great need of his help (so tie in to Dani and the Demon Bear….) Meanwhile Rachel Summers struggles with the new world she has found herself in. She knows that it’s not the past from her timeline because Illyana is older now than she was when she died in the future, Charles can now walk, Ororo has a completely different look and Rogue is a part of the X-Men. I do find it interesting that they did play a little bit with the fact that Rogue wasn’t on the team in Rachel’s timeline – it’s a nice companion to the internal struggle Rogue has been going through and exactly how far Mystique can go before Rogue is forced to make a decision between the woman who raised her or the X-Men. I like that they’re bringing Selene into the main title now but it seems odd that she would suddenly target Rachel. I mean Rachel had been in the past for a while now (she had already met up with Illyana) and Selene had been in New York for – if you go by the monthly releases – at least a month, why would it take for Selene to feel Rachel’s presence? Also I’m a little confused by when Selene and Rogue make physical contact – Selene feeds off of Rouge but Rogue doesn’t absorb any of Selene’s powers. They clearly don’t cancel each other out, so is it Selene’s magical abilities that keep Rogue from absorbing her powers and memories? Does that mean that Rouge could touch Illyana, or any other character that was touched by the supernatural?

Marvel Fanfare #40 – Deal with the Devil (2nd story)
The Uncanny X-Men #185 – Public Enemy

I’ll start with the Marvel Fanfare portion of this story first before going into the main issue. This story takes place right after Ororo tells Charles that Rogue is missing but obviously before she finds Rogue. Destiny has seen a potential future that will lead to great problems which forces Mystique to arrange a meeting with Storm so they can save Rogue who is being hunted by the government after a member of the Hellfire Club framed her for the murder of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. The whole point of this meeting is to upset Ororo and leads to Mystique playing both sides of the fence – she wants to help her adoptive daughter, but she won’t tell Ororo that the future Destiny saw shows whoever helps Rogue suffering the fate that was meant for her. We also get the first hints of a relationship between Raven and Irene. The main issue shows Rogue struggling with Carol’s personality taking over and her trying to figure out what her place in the world is, assuming she can survive having another mind trapped within her own. There are a few things here that stand out to me – why did Ororo go to meet Mystique when Charles said that he could simply locate Rogue via Cerebro; is it because Storm doesn’t trust Charles since he’s trying to become the field commander of the team now that he can walk? Why did Gyrich refer to Raven as ‘doctor?’ What’s up with the fact that Destiny suddenly can’t see the future? Does it have anything to do with the Adversary and the Demon Bear and this whole big thing that’s going on with that? All in all this was pretty good, not as good as the past issue but still pretty damn good. It did throw me that Rogue was suddenly the A story and Rachel was the B plot when last month it was all about Rachel, and the issue just before that one was all about Rogue. There could have been a more even blending of the two. *Note, the first feature in Marvel Fanfare deals with an upcoming storyline I'll be reviewing, so I'll cover it then.*

The Uncanny X-Men #186 – Lifedeath

This special double sized issue deals with the outcome of Ororo loosing her powers as a result o Gyrich shooting her with Forge’s gun. I think that this is one of the few characters that this type of story can really be told well. Storm was so defined by her powers and her connection to the Earth that taking them away from her and allowing her to live is worse than dying. I love this story because it’s so obviously what Claremont originally intended to do to Jean after she had been stripped of her powers (but marvel stepped n and said it wasn’t a big enough consequence so he ended up killing Phoenix) so there’s a lot of strength to this plot that make it an interesting read. There was a juxtaposition that effectively showcases Claremont’s two writing strengths: out of this world super hero battles and soap opera style writing. I could have done without the instant ‘love’ between Ororo and Forge but I do like Forge seeing himself in Ororo and his desperate need to save her as a way of saving himself. The other plot with Rogue hunting down Valerie Cooper to find out what happened to Storm (and to get her revenge) was good too especially the internal struggle between Rogue’s old self that would have killed Valerie in a heartbeat and the person she is today that just wants to save Storm. And of course there are magical space aliens running around that eat brains and then become the people they ate.

The Uncanny X-Men #187 – Wraithkill!
The Uncanny X-Men #188 – Legacy of the Lost

There are quite a few big reveals and things we learn and see for the first time as this story wraps up. Remember my theory that Rogue’s power was negated by magic? Yeah, that doesn’t pan out too well because the Dire Wraiths, Deathwings and Hellhounds are all magic based and Rogue can absorb the Dire Wraith’s form and abilities. Piotr learns that Illyana is a mutant and that she is a sorceress – this appears to shock him but no one else which begs the question why if they both live in Xavier’s school he didn’t know she was a mutant and could teleport at the very least. She is a member of the New Mutants and has the codename Magik, and the New Mutants and Charles know of Illyana’s abilities to spellcast, and the New Mutants know about Illyana’s Soulsword – you would think that someone would have mentioned something in passing to her older brother. Rachel finally realizes and admits that she’s been taken back to the wrong timeline when she finds out that her mother Jean Grey is dead. We learn that Naze has been killed and a Dire Wraith has taken his form, but we don’t know exactly when that happened. The Great One that ‘Naze’ tries to conjure outs Naze as a Dire Wraith and kills him, which begs the question what is this mystical force that is moving about the universe that is targeting the Cheyenne people, and is it at all connected to the magical amulet that makes it’s appearance at the end of the issue when a fisherman finds it? Oh yeah, if all that wasn’t enough going on Kurt tries to quit the team, Storm doesn’t feel like she belongs on the team since she is no longer a mutant which she thinks means she has no place on the team and Scott’s sort of ‘ex’ Lee (remember the ship captain?) saves Magneto from drowning in the ocean – he had crashed on earth after Magus destroyed Asteroid M when he was chasing after Warlock.

The New Mutants #18 – Death-Hunt: A
The New Mutants #19 – Siege: A
The New Mutants #20 – Badlands: A
The New Mutants #21 – Slumber Party: A
The Uncanny X-Men #184 – The Past … Of Future Days: A
Marvel Fanfare #40 – Deal with the Devil (2nd story): B
The Uncanny X-Men #185 – Public Enemy: B
The Uncanny X-Men #186 – Lifedeath: C
The Uncanny X-Men #187 – Wraithkill!: A
The Uncanny X-Men #188 – Legacy of the Lost: A

No comments:

Post a Comment