Monday, August 31, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #2

The idea of bringing back the original first class of the X-Men from Stan Lee's run in the sixties (composed of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel and Iceman) by having them time-travel to the future (or the present Marvel timeline) where things are less than idyllic (some may say a colossal clusterfuck), is a bold storytelling strategy. It could have easily been a failure. But writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen were not intimidated by this daunting task at all. I say that they weren't because what they have come up with in the first two issues so far were UH-MAZING! I'm an instant fan and it's only been two issues!

A brief recap from the first issue: In the aftermath of the Phoenix Force dispersing in the cosmos which signaled the rebirth of the mutant gene, several unsuspecting youngsters discover their powers (which, as we all know, get mostly triggered by stressful situations) and were being hunted down by government factions to contain them. Recent fugitive and no longer anyone's favorite person, Cyclops, started recruiting said mutants to join his "revolution". By his side were his on-again, off-again paramour and partner Emma Frost, Magneto and Magik. The X-Men were bothered by the escalation of Scott's brutal ways especially Beast who may or may not die during the new stage of his physical mutation. Desperate, he traveled back in time to forewarn and beg the original core five members of the X-Men to come with him to stop Scott from unwittingly committing what he deems is a "mutant apocalypse".

Bobby passionately disagrees that Scott will ever be capable of that and argues it's because the guy is far too "boring" to be the bad guy. Jean, already frazzled and distrustful, insists on calling Professor X but Beast stops her and almost breaks down for a moment because he can't believe he's talking to one of his oldest friends again (Jean Grey is currently dead in the Marvel Now! timeline, FYI). 

Young, optimistic dreamer Scott was furious to hear from Beast that he will become a fascist asshole in the future which was understandable but young Henry knows that his future self would not be standing there with them if indeed the future is not in shambles and need their urgent assistance. Still unconvinced, the five decided to join Beast especially after he convulses around as he tried to get to his time box. Young Henry expressed that his future self may be dying. So the OCF get transported into the future and arrived presently in the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning. It was the old Xavier School for the Gifted and Jean knows this and she wonders why the place is now in her name, and dreads the answer. Meanwhile, Wolverine--who was busy scolding his stubborn students about ninja warfare basics--was alerted by their presence and attacked them without a second thought. Ororo, Kitty and Bobby rushed outside to see the commotion for themselves and this is when past-Bobby and present-Bobby got acquainted for the first time. And their collective reaction was, of course, on-the-mark hilarious:

Beast once again convulses and finally loses consciousness this time so everyone decided to put away their confusion and questions for later and worry about saving his life first. At the lab, we get to see OCF interact with the seasoned members of the current X-Men and there were a lot of gems in the dialogues. I'm so happy that Bendis seemed to have applied Jeff Parker's characterizations and humor as he wrote the OCF for himself in this series so it wasn't hard for me to imagine this as a spin-off of Parker's 2011 title. This second issue was such a delightful installment because it's so funny in some places. I especially liked Wolverine's temperament all throughout and Kitty's offhand side comments as she tries to take control of the situation even as the OCF look at her as some kid who they cannot believe is also a headmistress of the school alongside Mr. Bad-Tempered Claw Hands. Also, Jean Grey's telepathy was jumpstarted as soon as she arrived so she assured the rest of her friends that Beast was not lying at all and that this future (our present) is grim because she is dead and Scott is now a revolutionist hell-bent on uniting mutants under a crusade of blood and violence. So, "culture shock" does not even begin to cover it.

So then Jean puts Wolverine to sleep as the five of them sneaked out of the school and headed to the Blackbird so they can fly it to where the latest report of Scott's location was indicated based from the media coverage. If they're truly in their future timeline and everything is shitty and gone to hell, then they might as well go all the way and see for themselves the extenuating scope of the clusterfuckness and how far the rabbit-hole goes. Oh my stars and garters, this has been such a fun ride so far! I had to keep reading earlier that I've actually finished the first volume already so I might start popping out the next reviews for three and four as soon as I posted this.


All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #1

I don't think I could have ever chosen a more perfect comic book series to read as I start the second wave of my X-Men comics diet this year than doing it with Brian Michael Bendis' All-New X-Men. First, let's begin this review with a context. I was an uber-geek fan of Jeff Parker's 2009-2011 PG-13 awesomeness that was X-Men: First Class which occupied me most of last May so I was really looking forward to seeing my Original Core Five (OCF, as I call them) in another title and this was why Bendis' current ongoing series hits my sweet spot just right.

I also can't believe I've truly spent six months going through X-Men classics and fan-favorites earlier this year, and now that I'm back after taking a side trip with Batman for July and Hellblazer for August, I'm going to start it by enjoying this September with this delightful title. I've read Bendis' work in House of M which was an impressive piece of fiction, if anything else. I already have confidence in him as an X-Men writer and for this series, he certainly delivered. Equipped by the fabulous and seriously faint-inducing eye-candy visual work by artist Stuart Immonen, All-New X-Men is essentially my paradise on earth.

The first debut issue opens with Hank McCoy's journal entry where he admits that he is once again going through the next stage of his beast mutation which is all kinds of hellish pain and he stresses that he may not survive this one at all. Contextually speaking, the events for this title is smacked in the aftermath of the 2012 crossover saga that was AVX: Avengers vs. the X-Men which generally became a pissing contest as the issues went on, but at the heart of it, it was a landmark story about the Phoenix Force being communally divided into four mutants (or what is it five? It's all a blur for me now) and the last two standing were Cyclops and Emma Frost. And then Cyclops took the Phoenix's power all to himself, murdered the fuck out of Charles Xavier, and psychologically and spiritually broke down completely as the power consumed him. 

Fast-forward through all that: "mutant messiah" Hope became the new receptor of the Phoenix Force after Scott had a brief moment of clarity, and she started going around the world to fix all the awful things that the force itself committed on earth. But when it's time to let go of her newfound power, Hope outright refused until Scarlet Witch stepped in and convinced her. Together, they released the Phoenix into the cosmos where it dispersed and, suddenly, mutants all over the globe were getting born again after the shitty decimation that happened in the House of M storyline. This is where All-New X-Men comes in play. 

We were introduced to two new mutants: Eva, who can stop time, and Christopher, who can probably not just heal a person but raise it from the dead. Cyclops, Magneto, Emma Frost and Magik (Illyana) are a team now, apparently, and Scott invites this young mutants to join the "revolution". Meanwhile, Ororo, Bobby and Kitty watch the news coverage that track Cyclops and his gang's upsetting activities that have human casualties which Bobby argued goes against everything he remembered about the Scott Summers he grew up with who wanted a peaceful co-existence with mutants. Yes, the mighty Cyclops has fallen so far and Hank--who is afraid he is going to drop dead any second now as he mutates--decided to take the only course of action that he deemed fit, and it was all thanks to Bobby's harmless suggestion:

Hank, brilliant scientist who knows a thing or two about time-space continuum and how to travel through it, goes back during an idyllic time when there were only the five of the most hopeful and aspiring young mutants who are composed of the first class of the X-Men. He chose a rather timely moment when his younger self was just about to quit the team and walk out of the mansion for good. The moment he appeared before the young Henry, all blue giant fur, his more human counterpart recognized him instantly. Warren, Bobby, Jean and Scott were worried and tried to call for the Professor but Beast insisted that they all have to hear what he has to say and calling Xavier will prevent that. The Prof will most probably send back Hank to his own timeline and then mind-wipe his students (the dude is prone to solving problems like that). Still baffled, amazed and annoyed by this plot development, the OCF refused to listen to whatever incomprehensible insanity is happening in front of them until Beast dropped this worrisome truth-bomb about the future Scott Summers that definitely got their attention:

The old-fashioned and quirky Original Core Five First Class of X-Men traveling to the future to encounter a darker vision of a life they have never anticipated? HOW CAN ANYONE NOT BE READING THIS MASTERPIECE IN THE MAKING?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ready for the "Second Coming" and "All New X-Men"?

I just finished watching Comicbookgirl19's Epic History: X-MEN Vol. 1 and it was enthralling! It was also the perfect catalyst for the 2nd wave of my X-Men comics diet for this September, y'all! I am coming back with a splash!


Watch the documentary here below. It's pretty fucking cool as shit!:

Now I just have to finish up my Hellblazer readings in my other blog but I will be coming back to my favorite mutant superheroes by September until January of next year. There are a bazilion storylines and titles I want to accomplish reviewing and I am very committed to this sacred task. There is also the anticipation of the next X-Men film down the pipeline in 2016 which is an adaptation of the Age of Apocalypse comics. I'm very excited for that! I'm prepared for some painful Cherik-ing along the way too.