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Astonishing X-Men (2017) #1 [Review]

astonishing_x-men_(2017)_0001Life of X – Part One

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inkers: Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong
Colors: Richard Isanove, Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Jim Cheung & Richard Isanove
Graphic Designers: Jay Bowen, Anthony Gambino
Assistant Editor: Christina Harrington
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: September 2017
Cover Price: $4.99

I was a sucker. I’d seen a poster-image of this issue’s cover, and I vaguely recall the image grabbing me initially when it was first debuted with solicitation or shortly after. Archangel has always been a striking figure for me, and despite the last ten or so years, Bishop (especially looking as he does here) rings quite nostalgic for me. Then there’s Rogue, and while I don’t much care for the “Old Man” version, seeing ‘a Wolverine figure’ here drove it home. But in addition to that, there’s something about the blending of the coloring–the rich orangey-yellow background and the yellow and blue of the logo…and that the logo may not be the “classic” X-MEN logo, but it has a certain blend of the old and new while being its own thing…and NOT coming off as “pretentious” (as if text CAN be pretentious) to me.

I was ALSO a sucker because a local comic shop had sent out an email informing us that any Marvel purchase would get a free “cosmic cube,” and while I am actively disinterested in the current comics Event, I’m a sucker for plastic comic artifacts (such as Lantern Corps Rings), and the Cosmic Cube goes way back. And with Astonishing X-Men #1 being out this week and already having the against-my-better-judgment interest, I figured hey…fine. I tried X-Men: Gold #1 and X-Men: Blue #1, so I could give Astonishing X-Men #1 a go. Especially at $3.99.

After I’d bought the issue (amidst my other purchases), and gotten it home AND read it…THEN I realized that no…this was NOT a $3.99 issue. It was $4.99…so for that, I’m not a happy camper. But where even comic shops are lucky to return comics, it’s not like I can “return” the issue, so I’m sorta stuck with it, whatever “principle” I want to take with it.

I’m not happy that my inattention to detail had me ignorantly buying yet another $5 #1 issue from Marvel (in an industry when other publishers proved $10 vol. 1 collected editions with 5-6 issues).

Buuuuuut…

I enjoyed this issue.

I actually did!

We open on a quick scene, learning that mutant psychics all over the world are dying. Then we come to Betsy Braddock–Psylocke–who is one of the STRONGEST mutant psychics, and the force that’s killing the others isn’t able to subdue her until after she’s sent out a psychic cry for help. We’re also (re) introduced to Bishop; to Angel/Archangel, Gambit and Fantomex, Old Man Logan and Rogue; four of whom are on the receiving end of Psylocke’s cry for help; which draws them all in to her location. The force that’s been attacking the psychics is concentrated, and no longer constrained to just the local psychics. As the group converges, they must face the psychic energy-outlash while saving civilians and surviving themselves. Working together, the immediate, outward threat is resolved…but Betsy reveals that she now knows who is behind it–and that things are worse than even this was. Some of the group must go to the Astral Plane to stop the Shadow King. No time to seek shelter or plan–she sends them immediately, with Angel and Bishop remaining behind to protect them all. Meanwhile, we confirm that yes indeed, this is definitely Shadow King. And he’s got quite a secret…which provides a major “hook” for me regarding subsequent issues of this series!

While I was incredibly skeptical of X-Men Prime, X-Men Blue, and X-Men Gold, I bought the one-shot and #1s to “try,” to go against my anti-Marvel negativity and give the things “a shot,” an ISSUE, at least. And that way I could at least judge for myself how things seemed, and feel like I had more room to criticize–at least I’d have bought the big, over-priced first-issues, and have SOME hands-on “experience,” not just second-hand stuff.

And so, too, I figured for this. $4.99 is too much for a single issue, for a first issue. MAYBE for an Annual, or an oversized special/one-shot. But a $5+ issue should be rare and special…not plentiful as water. Marvel has abused the price point to where I virtually NEVER even bother to look at their comics, because I just KNOW they’re basically the most ridiculously-priced premium-priced things in the market. Real or perception, but that’s where I am.

But I’ve got the issue, I read it, and I actually enjoyed it. We have some prologue. We have character introductions. We have an immediate threat, and we see a group of disparate mutant figures come together, face the threat, and emerge victorious. We then have the setup for an even bigger threat–the one that carries beyond “just” this issue…and it looks to involve other nostalgic elements that work organically with the Shadow King character, as well as perhaps grabbing onto continuity and yanking on a loose thread, in preparation of some re-stitching and mending.

The story is engaging and keeps stuff moving; I can and will allow any “inconsistencies of character” to be credited to the last decade or more of mutant comics and lack of continuity and the apparent attempt here to play with the existing status quo. Visually, I dug this issue. Everyone’s recognizable and I like the visuals; there’s a sense of modernity with the aforementioned nostalgia; new and old, simply making this a good-looking comic. The multiple inkers do not take away from that–I only even know there were multiple inkers due to seeing the credits.

I don’t want to like any Marvel series right now. The X-Men are old favorites, and I’ve felt largely let-down by everything that’s been done with, to, and involving them for years, such that many of them are hardly recognizable to me anymore. I do not TRUST Marvel to not “yank the rug out” from under me, or some sorta bait-and-switch with this. I’ve already seen one or two of the other X-titles tie in to a major crossover event…and I want nothing to do with that, either. So…I might come back for the next issue of this arc, or at least check it out if I notice it on the rack. I am honestly very interested in what this particular story arc holds, and if I’m gonna pay Marvel‘s too-high inflated/”premium” price point, I can justify it a bit easier in smaller doses as single issues than collected volumes.

I actually don’t feel I can really speak to whether old fans or new fans or both would care or not care about this issue…I’m a weird creature when i comes to Marvel, and the X-Men. Suffice it to say that even at that $5 price point and $3.99 otherwise with possible bi-weekly shipping, I’m hooked here where even the likes of Blue and Gold didn’t grab me at this level. That makes this a definite “light in the darkness” of X-Books, and if you can stomach the $4.99 price point, this is about as good an issue for that as any that Marvel‘s put out of late!

astonishing_x-men_(2017)_0001_blogtrailer

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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 19-27

Well, it’s been a couple weeks longer than intended since revisiting these X-Men cards…but here we are, with the next "page" of 9 cards!

xmen_series1_full_019-027

With the exception of Kylun, I’m "familiar" with all of these characters, though some a bit more than others.

Let’s get into these and see what thoughts the cards bring up for me!

019a

This is definitely Cable as I remember him. Huge arms and muscles, giant guns, the scars and glowy-eye thing going on…and for this image, look! Even a random chain thrown in! Totally "the ’90s" visually–or at least, a PART of the ’90s.

019b

Well…this card is certainly "dated." Nathan Summers. Son of Cyclops. But back in ’92, he was just some new-ish unknown, not yet tied tightly into the X-Men mythos and all that. And since this card was published, we’ve learned a whole lot about his origins, the "bionic limbs," etc. Though there was a recent-ish run of Cable and X-Force or such, I’d say by and large his time with X-Force or the New Mutants is more a footnote in the character’s history these days.

020a

This image of Archangel is rather iconic. It’s typical Jim Lee for sure, and I’m pretty sure it was used as the cover for at least one comic, if only one that was highlighting card art in much large scale! Though I was aware of Archangel, this particular version of the character was a bit before my time…this (to me) still carries clear shades of the ’80s; it wasn’t terribly long into my time following these characters that the metal wings disappeared and Warren had actual wings again.

020b

To a certain degree, I don’t think I originally associated Archangel with Angel, as an "original X-Man." It’s sorta interesting to see the changes the character has gone through…as well as the "diluting" of his status as "Death," with seemingly so many other characters having held the role as well.

I’d forgotten the notion of the wings exerting any control over him…probably because that was largely done away with by the time I got into things.

021a

I definitely like this costume, or at least this rendition of it. Yet I’m not certain if I’ve actually read any "new" issues with this version of the character. Offhand I primarily know the character from the cartoon in the ’90s, and for his role with Generation X.

021b

I also did not recall the character being an X-villain, though I do vaguely recall the character’s appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Also seems like a "given" to me his relation to Black Tom Cassidy.

022a

I’ve never been overly keen on any of Kitty’s codenames…to me, the "default" name to the character is her name–Kitty Pryde. I first "met" the character from the animated Pryde of the X-Men, which was itself my first/earliest exposure to the X-Men, several years before my conscious getting into the characters.

022b

This card seems suitably generic and basis…hardly any "contradition" to the last 25+ years, except I’m not sure she’s a teenager anymore (or if she is, she’s incredibly mature for one..!)

023a

Ok, I’d guess here’s a character that may have Once Been A Big Deal, but I wouldn’t have been able to place offhand…though given the theme of these cards and ranking my familiarity with properties, my first guess WOULD have been Excalibur for this character, had I not seen the back of the card already!

023b

Though that sounds distinctly ’90s, it fits the ’80s as well. Nothing really to say except I’m not familiar with the character, and this doesn’t exactly prompt any interest in me…though perhaps part of that is that I don’t know that the character has appeared or had any significance, period, for over two decades…

024a

Typical-ish Jean…another character that I’ve "always" known by her own name more than any codename. And appearing here both very familiar and yet looking a bit more muscled and "older" than a number of other characters. Yet perhaps still a bit on the "young side" for me at my present age.

024b

I was rather oblivious to the whole Scott (Cyclops)/Jean thing at first, their interest in each other being a bit of a "surprise" to me when it manifested in the cartoon; ditto the "triangle" aspect with Wolverine. It’s been interesting to see the various takes on the character over the years, and learn more about her past from before I got into the comics. This also reminds me how much I’d like to have this "original" Jean back, in place of the "teen Jean" taking over in contemporary Marvel comics.

025a

Colossus is a mixed sort of character for me…one I feel like I’ve known quite a bit about, and yet still a bit of a "stranger" to read about. He was largely a "side" character to me at first, with one of my earliest comics with him being Uncanny X-Men #304 when he "defected" to Magneto.

025b

Another early memory for me of Colossus is the cartoon series, coming shortly after the end of the Cold War and whatnot, early in my developing any sort of consciousness for history or world events. Though not mentioned here, one of my favorite portrayals of the character is his friendship with Wolverine and Nightcrawler. I believe he was "stuck" in his "metal form" at the time when I got into the X-stuff; though that obviously didn’t last.

026a

I’m pretty sure I first came across Warpath in X-Force, probably the crossover with Spider-Man where they fought the Juggernaut and Black Tom.

026b

Though I’ve long known Warpath’s relationship to the X-Men via Thunderbird, I often mixed the two names. Seems rather cliché in a way to realize how many active members of the team "started out" as "villains" or at least antagonists. These cards also seem to lowball weights, as it seems almost impossible for characters to be so light given muscle mass and such at least!

027a

I’m not sure when I first found this character. This particular image doesn’t strike me as overly iconic, though the costume basically screams X-Factor to me. I probably did discover the character in that title.

027b

Another "early memory" I have of Polaris is–I think–a reprint of Giant-Size X-Men, perhaps in Classic X-Men/X-Men Classic. I feel like even now, too much of my thoughts on the character center on her being/not-being the daughter of Magneto, or her relationship to Havok.


I guess while familiar with more of these characters, I don’t necessarily have a LOT to say about them…at least not the way I’d want to in a post like this.

Here’s my first post in this series, covering cards #s 1-9

And my second post, covering cards #s 10-18

New Pop Vinyl ’90s X-Characters

I’ve recently gone against my better judgment and bought a couple of Marvel characters in their Pop! vinyl format.

I phrase it this way, because I loathe the bobble-head format. I means that otherwise-solid, otherwise-sturdy, otherwise-quality figures are rendered EXTREMELY fragile and breakable in a way that is NOT repairable with simply a bit of glue or such. And since they’re gonna be "just on display" and not "played with" the way an action figure would…I do NOT get the "appeal" or "reasoning" from Funko TO do the figures this way–it actually killed my interest in the line for awhile and has (and continues) to leave be extremely DISINTERESTED in their Marvel range of characters.

new_marvel_pops_archangel_cable

But there’s a certain nostalgia factor for me that overrode that. First, in coming across Archangel after a friend had shown her figure off some weeks back.

Then over the weekend, I came across Cable in this classic ’90s getup and realized he’d look really cool "with" Archangel. Of course, now the added frustration of ’90s Cyclops and ’90s Xavier being long "out of print" and far too ridiculously-priced to try to acquire, along with an even-MORE-ridiculously-priced Wolverine.

But at least I have these two!

They add "character" to my X-shelf for now, and will likely remain such a presence for awhile!

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The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #319

90srevisited

uncannyxmen319Untapped Potential

Words: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Steve Epting
Inkers: Dan Green & Tim Townsend
Colorists: Buccellato, Becton, Hicks
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

There’s something simply “familiar” about sitting and reading this issue, that brought back a lot of memories, and a certain feeling. This came out in late 1994–I was 13 at the time. (I’m 33 now). To that barely-a-teenager me, this was just another issue of an X-Men series I’d been following for over a year even as other X-books had lapsed.

Now looking back, this was a key issue on a number of fronts–primarily being a pre-prologue lead-in to Legion Quest, which itself was a prologue to the four-month Age of Apocalypse saga. This was–at least as I recall from having just re-read this issue but nothing earlier, recently–the issue Archangel and Psylocke officially became “a thing,” a relationship that carried across the next 16 or so years til The Dark Angel Saga in Uncanny X-Force a few years ago.

We have three main plots running through this issue: Rogue and Iceman are traveling to Bobby’s parents’ house for a visit. Bobby obviously has stuff eating at him, and Rogue tries to be a friend and get him to open up on the issues. She doesn’t get the greatest welcome from Bobby’s dad, though his mom tries to be a lot more hospitable. The visit overall does not go well, and Bobby storms out on some angry words. Rogue leaves as well with a calmer (but no less sharp) sharing of words.

Meanwhile, Warren (Archangel) and Betsy (Psylocke) are on a date that goes quite well, and leads to the two going back to Warren’s place and (verbally) officializing their relationship.

Finally, we follow Xavier in a dream in which he speaks to Magneto, reminiscing on their time in Israel some 20 years earlier. As the discussion progresses, Xavier begins to realize something isn’t quite right, as the dream moves from reminiscence to nightmare, resulting in Beast jolting Xavier awake–and Xavier explains that he fears his son Legion has recovered and is now more dangerous than ever before.

The art team presents a strong issue. The look was familiar, I had no problem recognizing any of the characters…and really, I quite enjoyed the way they looked. While I could not have said off the top of my head that Epting did the art for this issue, had done art (guest penciler or otherwise) on X-Men stuff from ’94, I recall the look of the issue, and as I re-read it this latest time, the only problem I had at all was disliking the shift from upright pages to “widescreen” pages where I had to physically turn the book in order to read a page. (Of course, I’ll take that over umpteen pointless double-page splashes).

Story-wise, this kept things moving, and while three simultaneous plots only allow a few pages for each, they were woven together well, and I didn’t feel any of them were particularly shorted or such–they and the issue as a whole just “worked.”

Back in the day, I was not familiar with Legion, so reading this the first time I doubt gave me any particular cause to think something big was up just from story context. I imagine I knew a bit about Legion and such, though, from other issues that flashed back, or at the very least from stuff about the then-upcoming “death” of Xavier and all that.

As noted above, I simply ENJOYED rereading this issue. It was cool to see Rogue and Bobby hanging out, and I recognized/identified with the two as they interacted, in a way I never did before. I’d forgotten about their time here, remembering only their “roadtrip” after continuity returned from the Age of Apocalypse stuff. And it was the characterizing of Xavier/Magneto’s relationship heading into the Age of Apocalypse that is certainly my favorite, and was at the time instrumental in DEFINING their relationship to me.

Though this issue works well enough just on its own–perhaps aided by my own memories–it’s also helped by my diving in here just before Legion Quest and remembering the impact that story had on me and looking forward to key moments and then the Age of Apocalypse saga itself.

X-Men Series 1 Revisited, Part 3

019_027

It’s amazing the changes these characters have been through in the past 20 years. Outside of Kylun who at first glance I didn’t even recognize, I’m familiar with the others…and they’ve all been through plenty. Cable’s evolved from some mercenary to a full-realized character tied deeply into the history of the X-men universe and has been through a number of significant events–from X-Cutioner’s Song to Messiah Complex/Messiah War/Second Coming to the more recent Marvel Now Cable & X-Force stuff to the upcoming All-New Marvel Now X-Force series..

Archangel’s since gone back to Angel, to Dark Angel to whatever he is at present. Banshee co-led the school in Generation X and has since died and–for all I know–come back. Shadowcat has grown up big-time. Jean Grey’s died and actually stayed dead. Colossus has joined the Acolytes, then Excalibur, back to the X-Men, died, come back, been the host of Cyttorak, a part of the Phoenix Five, etc. Warpath’s been part of Wolverine’s X-Force, Polaris was “lost in space” with Havok and others after Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire and since come back…

While I don’t care for the aesthetics of the multi-colored X symbols on the cards, I think I’ve recognized that rather than being simply an amateurish inconsistency, these are actually color-coded by “team” or “group” with a gold X for the Gold Team X-men, etc.

Click below for the cards themselves..

Continue reading

Marvel Universe Series IV Revisited, Part 13

This is EASILY my favorite “page” of the entire set. Between the comics and the animated series, I’m quite familiar with all nine of these characters.

It’s kind of amazing to consider how far they’ve all come in the past 20 years; through multiple solo titles and mini-series, and their various developments in the “main” X-Men titles.

Storm’s card is probably the only one I’m not particularly thrilled with here; all the others look quite good to me individually as well as put together for the single image. Archangel benefits the most, I think, from the larger whole of the cards put together…and Magneto’s card looks fantastic even taken by itself…that energy burst blocks out most of the context of the image for his part, making it work especially well taken on its own. Wolverine’s also works well, with the bottom border being the main thing really indicating it’s even part of a larger image.

Because of the X-Men cartoon, I know I would have been quite aware of these characters from that alone, and with these costumes. I may not have been as familiar with Archangel at the time, though even he had appeared in a couple episodes of the cartoon by the time this card set was out.

While the X-Men “posing” doesn’t make much sense with Magneto (then an arch-nemesis) powered-up behind them doesn’t make much sense, on the whole I would absolutely QUITE enjoy having a poster of this image.

Perhaps it’s that I like these characters, at this time so much, but I think this is also some of my favorite artwork in this entire set, as well as the page makeup on its own.

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Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

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