Sunday, March 22, 2009

The X-Axis - 22 March 2009

Tons of X-books this week, as Marvel's ever-erratic shipping schedule strikes again. See below for reviews of Uncanny X-Men #504-507 ("Lovelorn") and the final storylines from Ultimate X-Men and Young X-Men. And that still leaves all this...

Wolverine #71 - The penultimate chapter of "Old Man Logan", as we reach the east coast. It's pretty much what you've come to expect by now: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven doing a dystopian post-superhero Marvel Universe future, with scattered cool ideas, and a serviceable road-trip plot to steer us past them. It's quite good fun for what it is, even if seven issues seems a bit self-indulgent for a fairly slight plot. Mind you, it's paced rather well, and it's not as if anyone buys Mark Millar Wolverine stories for the philosophical depth. It is what it is; you can probably take a guess whether it's your cup of tea, and you'll probably be right.

Wolverine: Origins #34 - The X-Men fight Daken in a serviceable enough story, though one which never really makes it terribly clear why Cyclops has bothered to take the vitally important magic sword into battle rather than just keeping it safe. If you're not following "Dark Reign", then the basic idea is that Daken has been drafted into Dark Avengers as an ersatz Wolverine, apparently to annoy dad. It's a shame that the story doesn't pick up more on the idea of Daken impersonating his father, which would seem to have more story potential than a fairly standard fight with the X-Men; but then, I suppose Way's hamstrung to some extent by the fact that he can't really resolve any of these issues decisively. It's an okay issue, and if you can live with him carrying the macguffin into battle for no obvious reason, Cyclops gets some good moments.

X-Factor #41 - Layla Miller is back, and as you'd expect, that means we pick up on the stories that were left hanging in her one-shot a few months ago. Peter David is still asking people very nicely not to reveal the plot, so I'll confine myself to noting that this issue has by far the strongest narrative of all this week's books, and the most effective twists and turns. There's some fill-in art on a scene near the end of the book, but it's perfectly fine fill-in art, so no problem there. Good issue.

X-Force #13 - Oh dear, we're back to killing characters for cheap heat. Actually, technically this is the second half of a two-parter called "Suicide Leper", so I suppose I should be reviewing it in full - but it's a very heavy week, and I can't really summon up the enthusiasm to talk about more murky bloodshed, so I'm going to rely on the fact that it's also a prelude to next month's crossover with Cable. Actually, the central idea is quite sound: the Leper Queen from Peter Milligan's X-Men run has been roped into a scheme of killing off humans to provoke anti-mutant backlash, she's not desperately happy about it, and she's trying to get herself killed. But it all comes down to the casual despatching of another character - one which, given the time-travel overtones, I suspect will be reversed with a reset button in a couple of months time. Still, the overreliance on killing characters is disappointing, and we're back to the murky and frequently stilted art of Clayton Crain. Not very good.

X-Men: Legacy #222 - Professor X, Gambit, Rogue and a bunch of alien scavengers all stuck in a giant Danger Room simulation. It has all the usual strengths and weaknesses of Carey's Legacy stories. I like the premise of Rogue being stuck with Mystique's voice in her head; it's an interesting variation on the old idea that she'd absorbed Carol Danvers, with some potential for conflict. And the Shi'ar pirates get some very funny dialogue. On the other hand, it's extraordinarily continuity-heavy, and seems to assume that we'll all remember the context of a conversation between Rogue and Gambit from Uncanny X-Men #350 (a mere 157 issues ago!) without it needing to be explained. I do, but I doubt how many other readers will. If you don't mind that, it's a fun issue.

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