Wednesday, September 30, 2015

X-Men: Battle of the Atom by Brian Michael Bendis

I recall reading this entire collection during one supposedly uneventful night, and it featured the big-event crossover orgy that span across four ongoing X-titles. I was but blissfully unaware of the troubling clusterfuckeries ahead while I contentedly sipped my hot ginger tea as I read. I happened to only peruse through the first two issues in the first hour or so, taking my time, which was still a long way to go before I was struck by the epiphany that this was going to get even crazier than I could ever imagine an X-title could go. 

That's how little I knew that I was in for a catastrophic experience where everything I know about X-Men will be questioned--and this is coming from somebody who experienced Fabian Nicieza's most insane pieces and Claremont's most sadistic emotionally draining ones. Please take note that I am writing this review after distancing myself from this story for three weeks. I initially always review an issue as soon as I'm done reading it so I can get right into it, especially if either the issue in particular is (a) awesome as fuck; or (b) boring as shit.

The latter part of Brian Michael Bendis' roster for All-New X-Men (from issue #26 to #39) had fallen in the b-category so I was more than eager to put that series behind me for good once September wraps up, and I intend to finish it with my overdue review of Battle of the Atom which for me will forever be known as the Last Great X-Men Story from Bendis' ANXM

This tantalizing ten-issued arc will be followed later on by entertaining issues (#18-21) concerning the Purifiers before it will get eventually pointless by the time The Trial of Jean Grey hits (#22-24), saved only by the nice break with the 50th anniversary issue of X-Men Gold where I Cherik-ed and issue #25, before completely falling in its ass with the most regrettable issues ever conceived (#26-29) about a rehash of the villains from Battle of the Atom, and the passable storyline about the Ultimate universe in issues #30-36. Because second time is the worse nightmare and to demonstrate that he learned nothing after The Trial fiasco, Bendis writes another Guardians of the Galaxy crossover with The Black Vortex (#38-39) which I didn't even bother talking about because it was incomplete. My mindset while writing this review was one of mental anguish and exhaustion borne out of the consistent tedious blandness of the stories that followed since Bendis produced the masterstroke that was Battle of the Atom

Well, maybe deeming it as a 'masterstroke' is an unfair hyperbole; clearly, BotA is not a perfect piece. It was beguiling though--fast-paced, quirky and shocking during its ten issue-spread of intersecting narratives. I was speechless about it for a time because I don't know how I felt about it as a whole which was why I delayed coming up with a cohesive review that outlines my complete thoughts about its content. There are parts I immensely enjoyed and parts that baffled me to no end, which was why I was rendered in a fit of hysterics that were only succinctly captured by the following GIFs belows as I updated my reading progress in Goodreads. Comprised of the titles All-New X-Men, X-Men vol. 4, The Uncanny X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men, Battle of the Atom was a batshit crazy and take-no-prisoners crossover event that delivered genuine thrills and shocking twists for a lot of the players involved. With an ensemble cast made in both heaven and hell, BotA was stylish, over-the-top, engrossing and unapologetic in its camp and gore moments in between. I loved it because it kept me on the edge of my bed and made me screech and bite into my pillow because of the dizzying cocktail of emotions it brought out, both positive and negative. Much like Nicieza's unforgivably hurtful Fatal Attractions that somehow also combined the kooky premise and storytelling style of Claremont in X-Men Forever, Battle of the Atom was a brave endeavor, daring into places that you thought they won't ever cross but they did and it got super weird and totes uncomfortable midway, but it remained just as addictive to the very end.

Allow me to take you to my journey of psychosis as I read Battle of the Atom. This is all subjective and you may not share my unraveling and descent to madness in the same level of intensity as I did but that's probably because you didn't have the same emotional stakes or baggage as I did when I went into this story. It's hard to believe it was only the beginning of September when I was still able to feel something for Bendis' All-New X-Men--when I was still capable of love and remorse, of loss and triumph. Food still has flavors; the world looks like a promising and pleasurable place to mingle and explore. Now I'm relieved to end my reviews for ANXM because it has gotten so disappointing and shitty that I'm excited to start with a new series, this time going a few years back with Joss Whedon's The Astonishing X-Men.


FIRST STAGE: Four issues in

The time-dispelled Original Core Five (OCF) try to make the best of an uncomfortable situation as they are propelled into a timeline where nobody wants them around, including the current X-Men themselves. Young Scott discovered that his future self becomes a mutant terrorist, Jean found out about the many ways she dies in the future and is currently adjusting to her newfound telepathy while Warren (Angel) leaves to join the cool clique (present-day Cyclops and his Dream Team). Meanwhile, both elder and young Hank are in agreement that they have to see through the gruesome process of culture shock for the sake of science, and Bobby is a walking comedic punchline whose only main contribution is when he came out of the closet by issue #40. In Battle of the Atom, a group who claims to be the future X-Men came to the current timeline to warn the OCF that they are the product of their choice to stay in a timeline that is not theirs. The shocking revelation comes when one of the members wearing the Xorn helmet is revealed to be the future Jean Grey, all grown-up and facing the consequences of the choice of time-dispelled self who totes ran away with young Scott when she got suspicious of these so-called future X-Men. Everyone scrambled to find the two almost-lovers, but Kitty Pryde was not happy with the way they were hunted down like animals and tried to defend them from everyone who by now are making decisions for the OCF without the teens' consent; mostly about them going home. The OCF won't just pack their stuff and leave compliantly, however, which was why a big fight ensues. The fight scenes were the best part of the entire BoTa especially the telepathic battle among Emma Frost and the two Jeans.



SECOND STAGE: Eight issues in


Of course the battle scenes are the selling point of this crossover event. It's Battle of the Atom after all! The epic showdown among the telepaths were greatly handled and as insane and sadomasochistic as we're gonna get. Xorn-Jean of the Future taunts Emma and beats her younger self simultaneously. Young Jean, however, is not going to let her cuckoo adult self get the upper hand so she is just as relenting in her blows. Amidst this intimate battle are the scattered fight scenes among the X-Men and the future X-Men. Magik, however, had seen the future for herself and when she transported back to our timeline, she took young Bobby and Warren to show them what happened to the future where they discovered that the REAL X-Men are composed of old mama Jubilee and son, bearded Colossus, Storm's daughter...and basically not the ones who arrived earlier in the current timeline, forcing the OCF to get back home. Magik transports these real X-Men who revealed that the impostors are no other than the FUTURE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS. At this point, Xorn-Jean and the Impostors are in the process of trying to send back the OCF, only to utterly fail. The woman posing as the old Kitty Pryde turned out to be Mystique's bastard son with Wolverine named Raze. Deadpool is a Brotherhood recruit and betrays people, which surprises no one. Xavier also had a doppleganger son who is the bastard child he had with fucking Mystique. Yeah, Raven sure got busy and produced villainous offspring from two upstanding men. There's a twist that really pinches you in the balls. Also, it was later revealed that the future that was created because of the OCF being there meant humans are more hellbent in destroying mutantkind...or something to that effect. Honestly, I am baffled with a lot of the supposedly logical explanations for some of the issues. All I trusted on was my interest and excitement in how this story is going to end, especially regarding the intense confrontation between the two Jeans. If people suddenly asked me what is going on that got me so riled up and rattled while reading this story, I'll just start weeping in a corner because all that has happened was full-on sensory overload!



THIRD AND FINAL STAGE: Finished


Whatever I just managed to go through and accomplish reading was too much for me that I could simply hyperventilate just thinking about it. Like a trauma victim, I refused to talk about it online. I just turned off my laptop and crawled back into bed. With my eyes closed, I had vague images in my head about the events that I witnessed in the story I just read--and I had to curl up into a ball and chant repeatedly to myself "just go to sleep, go to sleep..." The next day, feeling refreshed, I still wasn't feeling that eloquent enough to type out my thoughts. So I delayed posting a sensible review. And even when I finally opened up about this, what you got here is nothing more than a series of ramblings written by a lunatic who still can't figure out how she really feels about everything she read in Battle of the Atom. 

I don't even know how to end this review properly. So I'm just going to end things abruptly and recommend you to read BotA yourself, imparting nothing more than an evasive dark promise of what you can expect when you pick it up. I'm probably exaggerating its aftershocks. It's probably just my frail, feminine constitution. In any case, don't believe everything I stated here. I'm possibly still recovering and probably doing a bad job with that too.


RECOMMENDED: 8/10

Monday, September 28, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #39-40


I don't have a goddamn clue what to say about the Guardians of the Galaxy crossover story The Black Vortex. I really don't and I won't waste my time or yours trying to explain that because I didn't read the issues from Guardians and I had to skip through the pages of #39 because nothing about what I'm reading makes any logical sense to me. I tried to focus on the parts that interested me, though, and that happens to be the Return of teen Scott Summers who left his friends after The Trial of Jean Grey to travel space with his estranged father Corsair. I bet he had wonderful adventures and now it's time to come home with the rest of the OCF which comforts me because the OCF has been incomplete without their Cyclops. The only part of issue #39 that made me feel something again was that scene with Scott and Jean almost sharing their first kiss (the shipper in me got excited!) which was so beautifully interrupted by no other than Hank. That was gold and an awkwardly humorous moment to see unfold for all parties, including myself. Hence, the moment is worth the screencap so here it is:
Hank McCoy: The Purposeful Cockblocker

What I do want to talk about is issue #40 which brought us back to the actual roster of Bendis and artist Mahmud Asrar whose illustrations I never got a chance to truly compliment in the previous issues because I was far too busy criticizing Bendis' storytelling directions. Asrar's work on the sixth volume's arc, Ultimate Adventure, were beguiling; filled with life and warmth, infusing each of his panels with delightful landscapes and color. His work for issue #40 is just as visually appealing, particularly when Bendis had written two great conversations among a pair of characters in this issue which reminded me that he is a very capable writer who knows how to pack a wallop when he does take his time actually establishing an emotional element to his characterizations which has been sorely missing in the last five issue or so, discounting that fucking Black Vortex crossover. Before I started reading ANXM, I've received the news about Bobby Drake's "coming-out" from my twitter feed (much like everyone I know did last year) so actually reading the conversation he had with Jean was not surprising anymore, but I was still eager on how Bendis handled such a delicate topic. I decided to post the complete pages of that scene below in case you want to read the conversation yourself and simply could not, either because you have no access to a digital copy or one in print.











Now I've had a problem with teen Jean Grey reading people's minds willy-nilly since she started manifesting powers of telepathy. It's invasive, irresponsible and just plain douche-y. I was able to look past it after a while because that was also when I'm beginning to dislike Jeanie just a little bit, combined with the general lack of any interesting progress in the stories for a good six or ten issues right after Battle of the Atom. That being said, this enlightening conversation won me over just enough to stop being annoyed by teen Jean. I recall that my first reaction last year after finding out about Bobby coming out of the closet was asking a friend through SMS why he didn't come out as "bisexual". There is a gross under-representation of bisexuals in pop culture and media especially when it comes to bisexual male characters (NBC announced before that their version of John Constantine played by Matt Ryan in the now-cancelled series Constantine will not focus on his sexuality ergo not even imply that he also has the hots for other men) so I didn't think Bobby identifying as gay was as progressive as Marvel is trying to depict. Now, after much distance and reading their entire conversation firsthand in comics, I suppose I didn't have the same problem with it as I had last year. They did, after all, bring up the possibility that Bobby might be bisexual, with Jean commenting that "everyone is" but then asserting that he's "full gay". It's good for Jeanie to acknowledge that sexuality is not a fixed thing but a spectrum of attraction and gender preferences, but I wasn't fine with her labeling Bobby herself as "full gay" because that's none of her business. Just because she has been in his head, it doesn't give her the right to define Bobby's sexuality for him. But then Bobby agrees with her so I'm getting annoyed again which made me kindda forget why I'm suddenly okay with this again. Maybe I'm not. All I know is while I'm typing this right now, I feel very uncomfortable about the fact that Bobby is "full gay". His future self has shown genuine interest in women so it's still possible he is bisexual in his preferences OR maybe this Bobby of the past is more adamant in claiming he prefers one gender only over the other. Fuck it, I don't know.

The reason why I seem extra sensitive about this is because I AM A BISEXUAL WOMAN. It took me a while to identify as such, though. I was more comfortable explaining to people that I'm a lesbian because all the serious relationships I've been in were all with women. It took me some grueling self-reflection and conversation with trusted people to figure out that I still want to be with men sexually and even emotionally (although the latter admittedly scares me because I relate better and much comfortably with my own gender), so perhaps I'm biased over that and therefore want Bobby to also identify as a bisexual person because it makes me feel that him accepting homosexuality as his identifier further reinforces the negative idea that bisexuals are 'non-existent' and that a man or a woman can either be straight or gay...and that's a pretty tough spot for me to take here. So I won't. I'm not going to accuse Bendis and Marvel for white-washing anything because I'm sure their hearts were in the right place when they decided to make one of the original X-Men from the sixties identify as gay. I do believe that it is a progressive step towards the right way. I admire and congratulate them for that. I wasn't happy about the fact that Jean practically forced Bobby to come out to her, though, but that's a separate issue about her character altogether so I will disregard her role in this for now. I'm just glad Bobby did accept that he's gay and that he finally has someone to talk to about it. It's an important and meaningful stage in his life.

Speaking of another meaningful stage, we get a very moving conversation between Warren and Laura where Warren explained his situation regarding the Black Vortex thing. From what I understand, he allowed himself to consume its power and it messed him up. Now he lost his original wings and got this awesome pair instead. This worried Laura so he explained that he never wanted to be here in this timeline especially after finding out what happened to him. He got scared and felt like he had no free will anymore which was why he made choices that were a bit chaotic but at least they were his choices. He wanted a change, not just a physical transformation. So, as a changed man, he is also more willing to admit that he is in love with Laura. Laura, a genetic clone of Wolverine who has been experimented on and is therefore distrustful of people, claimed he doesn't know who she really is. Warren fervently disagrees and his justification for that won me over as much as it did Laura, and it definitely solidifies why I think their relationship is interesting and why they make the perfect match.



In the middle of these heartfelt confessions among friends is Agent Maria Hill, effectively expressing my overall reaction for All-New X-Men since Battle of the Atom ended and I got served with half-baked and bland issues after, the worst offenders of which have to The Trial of Jean Grey and that forgettable arc about Baby Xavier and Raze attacking the OCF in their secret bunker. I'm posting the panels because it speaks to me. I myself am mentally banging my forehead on a desk over and over because of the mixture of boredom, frustration and bafflement I've felt in the last two weeks. But hey! I have my first 8-star rating for this series in weeks!

Me in a nutshell

ISSUE #40 RECOMMENDED: 8/10

Friday, September 25, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #37-38


It's highly likely that I'm beginning to run out of things to say for this series. The only saving grace that could come out of it now is that the month is near its end which means I only have to finish until the special issue before I can finally move on to another series to review next. Each time I console myself with this simple fact, I start to feel a little bit better and even a little less guilty. It's hard to believe it has only been since the first of September that I was seemingly and irrevocably in love with Brian Michael Bendis' All-New X-Men; now I've grown weary and even distrustful of it and it's all because the stories that came after its big-event crossover Battle of the Atom were subpar, humiliatingly bland and often aimless to the point of perturbing bafflement. Its last arc about the OCF and Laura (X-23) being transported to the Ultimate world was okay but there was such promise to it that Bendis left sadly unfulfilled. Since then, I have no expectations anymore, not even sympathetic low ones. That is why these next two issues left me with nothing more but a blank expression in my face as I shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, it could have been worse." How worse, I'm not even certain myself. All I know is I'm not capable of fucks-giving anymore.

Once again possessing a deceptive cover, issue #37 was not about Bobby or Hank as depicted. It's actually about Jean Grey. Oh my god, get outta town! Jean motherfucking Grey AGAIN? Well, at least this time it was also about Emma Frost's tutelage and the artwork by Mike Del Mundo was a pretty interesting visual journey with uncanny color mixtures in the panels and certain choices of layouts that actually made me feel something akin to giddiness as I browsed through the illustrations. Here are some panels that I liked a lot. Look at the ironic background colors the artists chose to depict Emma (fiery red) and Jean (glittery white) with. Emma's insistence that Jean has no darkness in her and only light was also pretty moving. I'd like to think they're intimately sharing mindscapes at this point hence the seemingly contrasting color choices.



Now I mentioned quite a while back that I badly wanted to read something about Emma and Jean together. I got that in issue #30 when Emma telepathically taunts Jean with scandalous images of Emma and older Scott doing the nasty (something scathing should be said about a grown woman showing a teenage girl such decadent things but whatever--it was a bit titilating especially since the obvious rivalry tension between Ems and Jeanie can be slightly sapphic in a way). This time though, Emma was more...'teacher-ly' toward her...disturbingly so, especially when Ems would "boop" Jean on the nose and forehead with her finger while Ems is delivering a serious lecture on self-control regarding Jean's powers. In spite of Emma's unknowable intentions and creepily affectionate mixed with casual apathetic treatment of Jean for this issue, I thought they were pretty great as a duo together; each bringing a lot to the table when it comes to the discussion about telepathic abilities and the often disastrous repercussions of wielding such powers. Am I crazy or is Emma starting to genuinely like Jean right now?

It's safe to say that neither ever met an equal in their field let alone bond over their telepathic abilities. There was Xavier, sure, but he was a man, and it's really different when it's someone of your gender that you're sharing this delicate aspect with. I don't think neither Rachel Summers or Psylocke ever tried to be friends with the White Queen because Emma gives off that 'cold as ice' vibe which she reinforces by being a snarky bitch, and young Jean never had a female role model in her life until now that she can look up to and ask advice from (not counting Sue Richards in X-Men: First Class and Kitty Pryde in the earlier issues for ANXM). It's uncomfortable that Emma unwittingly volunteers for this role and I don't think either of them wants it; but it's, shall we say, a 'necessary evil'. I'd like to believe they can learn a thing or two from each other. I don't want to say "I hope" because every time I do, Bendis lets me down, but I want to see more Emma-Jean moments before I end my reviews for this ongoing series this month. It'd be a shame not to follow-up on such a promising venture. 

Issue #38 is Chapter Four for yet another Guardians with the Galaxy crossover. Once again, no fucks of mine are given, so let me just post this summary and I will let you figure it out yourself because I'm not going to bother since the issue itself is lacking and is established right in the middle of a storyline from another title I'm not even going to read EVER. The next issues (#39-40) are about this Black Vortex stuff too and I have no idea how the hell I'm going to come up with a review for that one nor am I thrilled to. It's like Bendis is purposefully being tone-deaf and thinks ANXM needs more craziness by pairing the OCF with some space team as if that isn't a recipe for disaster...the boring kind and not even the exciting one that I could look forward to. I mean, what am I reading here?:


The only good thing I can say about this issue is that teen SCOTT SUMMERS is back, y'all! Thank fuck for that at least.

ISSUE #37 RECOMMENDED: 7/10
ISSUE #38 is MEH

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis Volume 6

Previously in ANXM: Storm, Beast (and another mutant who I just forgot and I am too tired to look through my last review to double-check his/her identity) picked up Kitty, Cyclops, Emma and Illyana from their not-so-secret-anymore-bunker/school-with-an-ironic-mocking-name, because they're about to uncover the last will and testament of the late Charles Xavier (who, if y'all still care and remember and I hope so because he had a bastard son who came back from the future just to remind us about it for the last three fucking issues) has been brutally and mercilessly murdered by a Phoenix-possessed Scott Summers because--if you're going to kill your father figure--you might as well have a cosmic excuse about it. Putting that aside, Cyke still got invited to the reading of the will which was nice, I guess. Wolverine is probably not happy to see his jerk face again, though. And Kitty--who basically called it quits with Storm and Wolverine back in Battle of the Atom because she felt that they betrayed her trust--would be put in yet another awkward position being in the same room with the said betrayers. But hey, it couldn't possibly be more awkward than dating the dimension-hopping Peter Quill...as a goddamn hologram. So yeah, Kitty will be fine. She's going to see her ex Bobby a.k.a the Iceman though but Kitty is a big girl now. 

With the adults gone, the kids are left to their own devices. It's irresponsible in a way but fuck the kids. They'll be all right as long as they stay in the bunker. AND OF COURSE THEY DON'T, especially the OCF. A cerebro alert updated them to the whereabouts of a new mutant who just unlocked her powers. It's bad because the girl is scared, awkward and distrustful of these bunch of teen mutants just dropping out of nowhere, trying to convince her to go with them. It became worse when the police arrived at the scene which caused panic with the young mutant who cannot control her powers yet and accidentally zapped Jean, Laura, Warren, Hank and Bobby to unknown places, separate from each other and devoid of any familiar acquaintance. Now the five of them are lost in their own personal hell.

We got some cool scenes with Bobby as he fights mole people down the sewers and struggles to remain in ice form while on land because Atlanta, Georgia is scathing hot, which in turn dampened his powers. Elsewhere, Laura and Warren were reunited (how convenient was it that they both ended up in Savage Land?) and have met up with Wolverine's alternate-universe son, James Jr. who was weirded out to meet the pair but was open-minded enough to hear them out and possibly try to help them get back to their world. Meanwhile, Hank is kidnapped by Dr. Doom in a rather ironic yet pretty clever allusion to Beauty and the Beast where Doom is the Beast and Hank is his Beauty and he wanted to keep him there in Latveria after recognizing his genius and future use he could provide. Hank got to talk about his feelings of guilt and inadequacy with Doom which was pretty hilarious because of all the people he had to open up with it, it's with his captor. I can't wait to see if this relationship becomes appropriately Stockholm Syndrome-y in Hank's case. That would drive home the B&B allusion even further.

Jean Grey, once again, got the better, more nuanced scenes when she encountered the all-female X-Men of the Ultimate world with Miles Morales as Spider-man who totes is already crushing on her sweet ass (ugh, I don't get it though). Jean Grey meets the Ultimate Jean and they hugged because why not? At this point I'm treating her scenes with indifference. She's an integral part of the ANXM narrative, I get that, but I'm more invested to see how the other will fare in their dimensions especially since their contributions are just as interesting. Bobby finally stopped being just a comedic punchline; Hank is owning up to his angst and fears about the future his older self inflicted, and Warren and Laura could actually be a great romantic couple as long as we spend more time on them. So, overall, these issues were getting better and I hope Bendis continues to pick up things from now and lessen the Jean Grey-worship while he's at it.

The premise for this four-issued arc didn't start out strong but it was interesting and could have been more nuanced with an additional three to four more issues where we might get to see the OCF deal and overcome something as a group and not just solely depend on Jean Grey's functionality to carry them over a storyline which has been Bendis' go-to scapegoat resolution. It had been ripe with many possibilities, to separate the characters in different locations where they can have their own solo adventures. These did happen but were too abrupt to fully form any meaningful development and, as much as I'm abhorred to say, we still spend more time with Jean's scenes than the rest, since hers are composed of how they are going to get out of there. By issue #35, they did find the mutant whose ability is to create portals and didn't have that much of a hard time convincing her to get them all back safely. It was all too neatly concluded, is all I'm saying. Dr. Doom was such a throwaway character here and even Miles Morales was there to be a crutch to Jean. 

BUT WHAT IF THEY DIDN'T GET OUT JUST YET? What if they decided they could also make some change in that dimension, sort of like a test run before returning to their actual world and apply the same method, knowing better the success rate of their actions? But what if one of them got killed during their stay in the Ultimate-verse? Like Bobby, for example? That would mean his current self in Earth 616 would expire as well. How will that affect things? What if Laura decided to stay behind Ultimate because she's happier there? Would Warren stick by her or return with the OCF to Earth 616 where he doesn't have a girl he cares about? What happens if two Jean Greys are put together in the same timeline? Will they remain comrades throughout or eventually cancel each other out? How would the X-Men from Earth 616--especially Kitty Pryde--react to this? Would they try finding the OCF or just decide that it's the best thing that ever happened because now they don't have to worry about them running around their timeline? And what if the OCF comes back again, will the X-Men still accept them as their own or completely treat them as eyesores, maybe even become their adversaries in whatever goals the OCF want to accomplish? 


We will never know now and I actually don't care.


RECOMMENDED: 6/10

Thursday, September 24, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #35-36


I find it a rather unusual coincidence that it was only a while back (about three reviews or so ago) when I made a blatant comparison between reading All-New X-Men at its lowest point with that of my experience with some issues of Ultimate X-Men, a polarizing series on its own that one would either enjoy or despise--I don't think there's a middle ground here. I belong in the 'despise' part. I deemed it as the "clusterfuck canon-raping pinnacle of weird-ass shit storytelling" after all. Just after making that unpleasant connection in writing, it occurred to me that the dimension that the OCF and Laura were scattered on is in fact only ONE (I originally believed they were in separate dimensions when it turned out that they were simply in different locations while still within the same dimension). And that dimension in question is no other than the Ultimate one. For some reason, it took me until reaching the concluding issue of the arc to even realize where they were exactly. Miles Morales as Spider-Man should have been a very telling clue but perhaps I was merely too preoccupied with my daydream of never, ever having to read about teen Jean Grey and her oh-so-important character development and insight. I love the kid and all because she contributed to most of the essential parts of the title when it comes to plot and action, but Bendis needs to stop focusing all his time and writing on her alone and delegate some of the awesomeness and page-space to other characters like Bobby, Warren and Hank.

I don't like Ultimate X-Men but the Ultimate dimension as itself would have been an interesting setting to explore for our heroes. But Bends hardly bothered, really. And yet--from what I have seen in the last four issues comprised of this arc, Bendis delivered on just that since separating his characters and working on four locations all at once proved to be of help for readers to get more acquainted with characters-who-are-not-Jean-Grey (will be referring them now as CWANJG in future issues in case Bendis would still insist on making this series painfully all about her again). Granted, the majority of the pages still feature Jean more frequently than characters who are not her, but the others get more stuff to do in their respective scenes as well. I like that Bendis is pairing up Warren and Laura--they sort of remind me of Kyon and Haruhi from the anime/manga/light novel The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya where the boy is adorably clueless at time as he caters to whims and moods of the bipolar girl. I like the idea of this couple and I wish Bendis would take the time to explore the dynamics more as this series inevitably goes on. Meanwhile, Bobby and Hank get to experience some stress and struggle that are directed at them and not merely as remnants of whatever shit Jean got herself into that they have to deal with. 

While Hank was abducted by Dr. Doom to become his scientist and help him explore the multiverse, this has given him enough opportunity to see the vastness of the many different worlds in the Marvelverse, and it enthralled him and scared him a little bit too, mostly when he saw for himself that there are other Earths where mutants are more oppressed and defeated. It certainly gave him a better perspective and finally convinced him to do something than just dangle around for the ride. With Scott gone, Hank has stepped forward at last to perhaps fill the leadership hole that he left because at this point Jean is far too preoccupied dealing with her personal issues to wholly function as the glue that holds their group together. The next person to take such a harsh responsibility had to be Hank, of course, and rightfully so, seeing his future self had brought them in this timeline in the first place. Seriously, Hank's issues should have been tackled next to Jean's waaay back.

I do feel like I've been repeating myself with the same observations and insights over and over, I know, but that's only because Bendis has been reiterating the same points himself. The premise for this four-issued arc didn't start out strong but it was interesting and could have been more nuanced with an additional three to four more issues where we might get to see the OCF deal and overcome something as a group and not just solely depend on Jean Grey's functionality to carry them over a storyline which has been Bendis' go-to scapegoat resolution. It had been ripe with many possibilities, to separate the characters in different locations where they can have their own solo adventures. These did happen but were too abrupt to fully form any meaningful development and, as much as I'm abhorred to say, we still spend more time with Jean's scenes than the rest, since hers are composed of how they are going to get out of there. By issue #35, they did find the mutant whose ability is to create portals and didn't have that much of a hard time convincing her to get them all back safely. It was all too neatly concluded, is all I'm saying. Dr. Doom was such a throwaway character here and even Miles Morales was there to be a crutch to Jean. 

BUT WHAT IF THEY DIDN'T GET OUT JUST YET? What if they decided they could also make some change in that dimension, sort of like a test run before returning to their actual world and apply the same method, knowing better the success rate of their actions? But what if one of them got killed during their stay in the Ultimate-verse? Like Bobby, for example? That would mean his current self in Earth 616 would expire as well. How will that affect things? What if Laura decided to stay behind Ultimate because she's happier there? Would Warren stick by her or return with the OCF to Earth 616 where he doesn't have a girl he cares about? What happens if two Jean Greys are put together in the same timeline? Will they remain comrades throughout or eventually cancel each other out? How would the X-Men from Earth 616--especially Kitty Pryde--react to this? Would they try finding the OCF or just decide that it's the best thing that ever happened because now they don't have to worry about them running around their timeline? And what if the OCF comes back again, will the X-Men still accept them as their own or completely treat them as eyesores, maybe even become their adversaries in whatever goals the OCF want to accomplish? 

We will never know now.

There were just so many missed opportunities for this arc. Bendis should have prolonged the ordeal at least because I would rather get something of a slow-burn story than a quickly wrapped-up one that contributed nothing new to my understanding and appreciation of the characters. There was hardly any real danger the entire time. Bendis did not raise enough stakes and therefore the effect of suspense was diluted. I know for a fact they're going to find a route home in such a short time and that makes me feel like I was cheated on because it's like Bendis is not even trying to encourage me to stay invested on his title. Is big-even crossovers all you're ever good for, Bendis? 

God, please prove me wrong soon. I would hate to slowly fall out of love with All-New X-Men.


PASSABLY RECOMMENDED: 6/10

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #33-34


I'm once again writing a measly single review for two issues, mostly because I simply do not have the same amount of time as I did before, given I still have my other RL duties at work which now entail me to focus more on making exams and lesson plans for my students since we are on the second term of schooling from where I'm from. I think it couldn't have come at a better moment, actually, seeing as the storylines for All-New X-Men have been nothing but lackluster so I don't feel regretful at all if my previous reviews have been shortened as well as generally less appreciative of the quality of its writing. Fortunately enough, these particular issues did not annoy me as much. The basic premise was fine in itself and new regular artist Mahmud Asrar had a great style and composition to most of his panels which lend a lot of diversity to his action sequences and these two issues had enough between themselves to showcase just that. Visually speaking, ANXM still maintains that sleek and cool vibe which readers will never get tired exploring with their eyes. However, Bendis' writing for the narratives and characters themselves are lacking and I'm not even sure myself what ingredient he's been missing. All I know is that it hasn't been the same and the change is not a very appealing one for me which continues to be frustrating because I still have until issue #43 or #44 next week and it's beginning to feel as though Bendis and I are stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to his latest stories. I need something invigorating again that will make writing my reviews worthwhile once more.

We left our heroes in a very compromising position the last time we saw them in issues #31-32. After the adults were swooped away from the not-so-secret bunker school to attend the hearing of the last will and testament of the late Charles Xavier, the OCF with the new recruits and X-23 Laura were left, possibly to recuperate from the crazy shit that was the past few weeks of their young lives. However, a cerebro alert caught Hank's attention concerning the appearance of a new mutant somewhere, and since there are no adults to supervise this, Jean with Hank, Warren and Bobby decided to hop on a mission, only taking Laura with them while the new kids had to stay behind with the Steford sisters. Yeah, nothing unusual, reckless and irresponsible about that. Upon arriving to the location of said new mutant, the said girl in question was overwhelmed by her powers that she accidentally sent the OCF and Laura to different dimensions where they seem to be stuck and may not find a way to return home. Now...is this really a bad thing? I know I want Bobby, Warren, Hank and Laura to go home because I want to get to know them better and Bendis hasn't allowed me that because his focus was all on Jean Grey. Yes, you read that right. The consistently blatant favoritism has gotten so bad that I'm actively wishing for Jean Grey to remain stranded in the other dimension...at least until Scott returns from his space trip with his dad...or possibly, Jean could just stay there in the alternate dimension forever! I'm actually considering that tempting option and that makes me a little furious because I loved teen Jean since this series started but love became too suffocating because she's all that Bendis writes about for this title and I've frankly developed an aversion to her by now. 

Luckily, these issues (#33-34) did a great enough job to keep things balanced among the various dimensions they were all captured in. We got some cool scenes with Bobby as he fights mole people down the sewers and struggles to remain in ice form while on land because Atlanta, Georgia is scathing hot, which in turn dampened his powers. Elsewhere, Laura and Warren were reunited (how convenient was it that they both ended up in Savage Land?) and have met up with Wolverine's alternate-universe son, James Jr. who was weirded out to meet the pair but was open-minded enough to hear them out and possibly try to help them get back to their world. Meanwhile, Hank is kidnapped by Dr. Doom in a rather ironic yet pretty clever allusion to Beauty and the Beast where Doom is the Beast and Hank is his Beauty and he wanted to keep him there in Latveria after recognizing his genius and future use he could provide. Hank got to talk about his feelings of guilt and inadequacy with Doom which was pretty hilarious because of all the people he had to open up with it, it's with his captor. I can't wait to see if this relationship becomes appropriately Stockholm Syndrome-y in Hank's case. That would drive home the B&B allusion even further.

Jean Grey, once again, got the better, more nuanced scenes when she encountered the all-female X-Men of the Ultimate world with Miles Morales as Spider-man who totes is already crushing on her sweet ass (ugh, I don't get it though). Jean Grey meets the Ultimate Jean and they hugged because why not? At this point I'm treating her scenes with indifference. She's an integral part of the ANXM narrative, I get that, but I'm more invested to see how the other will fare in their dimensions especially since their contributions are just as interesting. Bobby finally stopped being just a comedic punchline; Hank is owning up to his angst and fears about the future his older self inflicted, and Warren and Laura could actually be a great romantic couple as long as we spend more time on them. So, overall, these issues were getting better and I hope Bendis continues to pick up things from now and lessen the Jean Grey-worship while he's at it.

I suppose the idea of introducing non-Marvel fans to the various alternate-universe landscapes of its comics canon is okay but it might get confusing to casual readers who are not familiar with the fact that Marvel has a rich multiverse. Much like DC, their characters have different versions in different realities and now the OCF have collided with a few of them, and as a concept that is an enthralling one to explore. So far, Bendis has taken it easy and has actually taken the time to let readers get the sense of each dimension, and for that I'll also give him a break from my harsh comments and just sit back and see where he plans to go with this on the next issues after these.

RECOMMENDED: 7/10

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #31-32


Artist Stuart Immonen gets replaced by Mahmud Asrar for issues #31-32 and I would have enjoyed his illustrations more if it wasn't for the simple, undeniable fact that I'M LEARNING TO CARE LESS AND LESS ABOUT THIS SERIES at this point. That makes me very sad because I love the OCF. I love what has been done to this series so far until it hit the 26th issue mark and the rest that followed made me so angry over the little things that I took small breaks in between just to get cheered up by homoerotic fanfiction from various fandoms. When that didn't work, I got around to watching Netflix's Daredevil and that became my salvation in the end. And then I had to go back and read the rest of the issues for this title again and I literally DIDN'T WANT TO, and that again made me sad and angry but I just decided to suck it up and deliver a cohesive review afterwards because I'm nothing if not consistent in fulfilling my self-imposed tortureobligation.

My growing apathy and lethargy for this title has unfortunately prompted me to write only a single review for two issues because (1) I've done the same thing with some issues for X-Men Forever back in February-March to compartmentalize certain arcs where nothing happens that much; (2) I can't force myself to write about an issue where nothing substantial really happens and drag it out just for the sake of quantity of words and length; (3) I need to watch the last five episodes of Daredevil right after this and that for me right now is the most important thing in the world (that, my fixation on Reeve Carney, and readings of Gensomaden Saiyuki fanfiction as well as re-watch of its anime episodes). Look, I have a busy routine divided evenly between work and play and I've given enough of my time reviewing Bendis' ANXM over the last three weeks and right now I'm becoming disappointed about its slow progress. So fuck it, let's keep this short.

Previously in ANXM: Storm, Beast (and another mutant who I just forgot and I am too tired to look through my last review to double-check his/her identity) picked up Kitty, Cyclops, Emma and Illyana from their not-so-secret-anymore-bunker/school-with-an-ironic-mocking-name, because they're about to uncover the last will and testament of the late Charles Xavier (who, if y'all still care and remember and I hope so because he had a bastard son who came back from the future just to remind us about it for the last three fucking issues) has been brutally and mercilessly murdered by a Phoenix-possessed Scott Summers because--if you're going to kill your father figure--you might as well have a cosmic excuse about it. Putting that aside, Cyke still got invited to the reading of the will which was nice, I guess. Wolverine is probably not happy to see his jerk face again, though. And Kitty--who basically called it quits with Storm and Wolverine back in Battle of the Atom because she felt that they betrayed her trust--would be put in yet another awkward position being in the same room with the said betrayers. But hey, it couldn't possibly be more awkward than dating the dimension-hopping Peter Quill...as a goddamn hologram. So yeah, Kitty will be fine. She's going to see her ex Bobby a.k.a the Iceman though but Kitty is a big girl now. This storyline occurs in an Uncanny X-Men issue which is a title I have yet to read for now so let's leave it at that. I'm definitely looking forward to that issue once I start reading UXM.

I'm also going to assume that Magneto was already at the Jean Grey Institute, possibly quivering in anticipation to hear something from Charles Xavier again. I don't know. I sure hope he attends BECAUSE GODDAMMIT MARVEL HE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SIGNIFICANT OTHER IN XAVIER'S LIFE! HAVE YOU NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION IN THE LAST THREE DECADES OR SO?!

With the adults gone, the kids are left to their own devices. It's irresponsible in a way but who gives a fuck; they've neglected honoring and grieving Xavier properly so they might as well listen to his last will and testament. Fuck the kids. They'll be all right as long as they stay in the bunker. AND OF COURSE THEY DON'T, especially the OCF. I mean, Warren and Laura from issue #30 just went out on a date together without any permission so they can cut loose, kick some ass in some club and then presumably fucked each other good for the rest of the night. Really, adults? That alone wasn't enough to call into question the assurance you have for leaving the kids by themselves? You know what, I don't even care anymore. WankersOn the upside, we got two pages of Warren and Hank having a conversation about the present predicament they are facing and how they feel about it. The last time we saw them interacting and having a heart-to-heart was in issue #8, I think. That's how long ago it was. Do any of you know why? Oh, that's right. BECAUSE JEAN GREY IS THIS COMIC BOOK'S VERSION OF HUGH JACKMAN AS WOLVERINE IN THE GODDAMN MOVIE ADAPTATIONS. Thank fuck that she's not the focus of this arc...for now. I have a distinct feeling Bendis will find a way to push her into the center stage somehow.

A cerebro alert updated them to the whereabouts of a new mutant who just unlocked her powers whilst taking a class picture in the middle of the afternoon. It's like having your period at a social event---sucks donkey balls. Anyway, her powers have something to do with dimension-traveling which is bad for the OCF. It's bad because the girl is scared, awkward and distrustful of these bunch of teen mutants just dropping out of nowhere, trying to convince her to go with them. It's bad because the OCF are clearly inexperienced about it and they have no adult like their Professor Kitty to guide them with how to handle this situation. It became worse when the police arrived at the scene which caused panic with the young mutant who cannot control her powers yet and accidentally zapped Jean, Laura, Warren, Hank and Bobby to unknown places, separate from each other and devoid of any familiar acquaintance. Now the five of them are lost in their own personal hell.

Warren is in Savage Land, Bobby is in an underground place getting attacked by mole-looking people, Hank is in Latveria with Doctor Doom, Laura is...in a soccer field and in a car chase with the police...and Jean lands in a different Earth with a different New York City with a different Spider-Man. The Ultimate kind, Miles Morales. I'm not sure where Laura is but I think she's going to be just fine. What I do worry about are Hank with Doom, Warren in the dinosaur-infested Savage Land which is a generally weird-ass place, and Bobby who is presently getting overpowered by mole people. No comedic quips and one-liners from him this time, and that absolutely terrifies me!

Oh, and am I worried about Jean Grey? She got to bond with Miles Morales who took her to a scientist who dismissively informed her that she doesn't have the right equipment to build a machine capable of sending Jeanie back to her own Earth. It might even take months or years so the scientist advised her to get used to her surroundings because she might be stranded there for a while.



Is it terrible of me to kinda-sorta wish that she stays there for a long time, at least until we get ten more issues of the series without her being the center of attention, or at best, until we get Scott back in the shuffle? It's an intriguing annd seductive notion, no?


Enjoy your forced sabbatical, Jeannie!~

RECOMMENDED: 7/10

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis Volume 5

Previously in All-New X-Men...

Composed of issues #25-30, the sixth volume of this series is officially my LEAST FAVORED collection because of the unbelievably irritating bullshit that occupied its wasteful space. I was just coming around from that equally unsatisfying crossover story with Guardians of the Galaxy entitled The Trial of Jean Grey, which is also an obvious rip-off from Claremont's stellar Magneto issue in the eighties that has the same concept, but Bendis simply just failed to deliver something just as memorable and purposeful as the former. It's heartbreaking in a sense.


But whatever, let bygones be bygones. And yet this volume was just...subpar. Clearly, I have a lot of respect and talent for Bendis and I've instantly fallen in love with All-New X-Men from the start. But, like most whirlwind romances, I'm just not content with the cheap thrills and mercurial pace and direction of the narrative at this point. It was captivating in the beginning but now that it's time settle down, I would like something more substantial than what I was served with this volume. It was downright insulting, actually, for a reader like me who only expected all the best from Bendis' solid line-up concerning the original X-Men. Somewhere along the way in the aftermath of Battle of the Atom, this series started losing some of its magic touch. With the exception of the special issue #25, the remaining issues were just...stale.


Yes, that's the best adjective to describe everything about the sixth volume. I think the failure stems from the fact that after several issues of focusing too much on Jean Grey (SEE PIE CHART FOR EVIDENCE), Bendis neglected other characters in the OCF like Warren, Bobby and Hank who became supporting background characters, depressingly fiddling their sad violins while Jean relentlessly takes the center-stage with a few moments of Scott actually having some important scenes here and there. But now Bendis dropped Scott, opting to make him travel with his space dad instead, and I can only hope this will allow other OCF members to step forward and start having more assertive roles in the story than just passive spectators or occasional pawns during fight scenes and whatnot. From what I've seen in this volume, it looks like Bendis is re-calibrating his priorities so what we got instead is a rehash about the fucking Brotherhood from the future which was a really drawn out arc that I can't count how many times I rolled my eyes as I pushed through finishing it.


It made me uncomfortably upset that I had to pour all my frustrations in this scintillating piece of review which unearthed negative feelings I never thought I've been suppressing since issue #26 began.Is it possible to love something you're also beginning to hate just a teensy bit because the relationship you have with is is stuck in a certain place you don't want to be in? Well, All-New X-Men has answered that question with a resounding, "Fuck, yes, bub" since it made me endure that useless crossover story of The Trial of Jean Grey. Once I've opened my eyes to its weaknesses, I can never close them again, not when it hasn't improved with its current arc about the Brotherhood from the future making yet another strenuous comeback....TO KILL JEAN GREY.


Honestly, I never thought I'd say this but...AGAIN WITH JEAN GREY? Anyway, I've stated before that we need to focus on Bobby, Warren and Hank next time and just put Jean in a corner somewhere, preferably in a self-imposed comatose, if that's the only way we can have access to the other OCF members who should have their own character-centered issues by this point in this series. This is, after all, All-New X-Men and not All-New Jean Grey. It's bad enough teen Scott left and we will never find out the adventures he's having with his dad Corsair. Other than Jean, he gets some character time at least and I'm really going to miss him. He hasn't interacted meaningfully with his older self yet which defeated the purpose of putting him in the same timeline as radically changed adult Cyclops. I was expecting some great moments between these two dorks and I got nothing in the end. Instead, we got that creepy moment with adult Cyke and teen Jean which was uncomfortably AND NO ONE ASKED FOR since it was almost crossed that line. Thankfully, adult Scott didn't let his lust get the better of him or he may have just ended up making out with a sixteen-year-old version of his dead wife. Thank god this isn't Ultimate X-Men or anything because we all know that shit would probably happen in Ultimate. I mean, in Ultimate, the Maximoff twins got their incest on as their bio-dad Wolverine watched in the shadows...so it won't be a leap if that title got a thirty-something Scott hooking up with sixteen-year old Jean. So, basically, what I'm saying is FUCK ULTIMATE X-MEN.

No, wait. That's not my point. Jesus fuck, I'm too irritated to type a review logically at this point. All you need to know is that ''baby Xavier" is an asshole who wanted to avenge his father's death and...I don't know. I'm not really sure I understood his character motivation and twisted intentions. I cared little about his internal struggle because it was barely nuanced. All I really know about him is that he looks exactly like Charles Xavier, he's a powerful telepath too, he has daddy issues, he hates the X-Men and he wants to kill Jean Grey. That's as one-dimensional and cliché as you can get from a villain. In Battle of the Atom, Jean Grey and Xorn Jean from the future where zeroed in amidst the chaotic battles around them, and it was great. Now we have Charles Xavier II as the lead villain of the story arc, with events told from his perspectives and flashbacks, and he is everything that was wrong about Professor X in those off moments that X is an asshole himself. So far, Charlie II possessed grand posturing and self-entitlement that are only rivaled by his half-brother, the shape-shifting, and Wolverine-clawed Raze who is the love child of Logan and Raven, understandably. That was weird but not entirely impossible. I can totes see them having angry, cathartic sex, then never speaking about it. What did shake me to my core is how this arc opened with a pregnant Moira MacTaggert about to give birth. Only it wasn't Moira. It was Mystique disguised as Moira. And she was impregnated by Xavier himself. I had to stop reading for a couple of minutes just to wrap my head around that revelation. In an earlier issue, Mystique told teen Scott that she respected and admired Charles and that in his death, she felt there was no purpose to fight for mutantkind. So I know she has developed fond feelings for Chuck somewhere along a comic book I have never read. Besides, I like the movie-canon version of the two of them being stepsiblings and growing up together. I really thought Bendis was going for that angle too. But nooooo. Apparently, Mystique became Moira and fucked Charles, and now she had his baby but she has to give away because it hurt too much to see the kid because Charles is dead and she was in love with him all this time. Whut? Whut? Really, WHUT? 


Worst of all, I DON'T EVEN SEE MAGNETO AROUND FOR THIS STORY ARC to react to the fact that his late best friend had a son who looked exactly like him and is now in murder rampage. Goddamn you, Marvel and Bendis. Wasn't there a memo since Claremont days that specifically dictates that Professor X and Magneto and anything related to their relationship must have some page time allotted to their piles and piles of angst and unrequited "friendship"? It's a crime not to sprinkle some Cherik when it's a necessary ingredient. 


It just doesn't make sense why Magneto is not a part of this arc! He's the only member missing from Cyke's Dream Team. Where the hell is he? What X-title did you conveniently put him in while this attack on the secret bunker is happening? It would have been so interesting to see him react to the second-rated version of Xavier. The more I type out my opinion in this review regarding what I just read, the more annoyed I getting by now. Look, the issue wrapped up some glaring plotholes from Battle of the Atom by revealing that Xavier II was behind all this. Jean (OF COURSE IT HAD TO BE JEAN) managed to knock him out long enough for them to send him to S.H.I.E.L.D (but oh no, that wouldn't be the end of it yet because his version from the future will time travel again and again and again and again....). And then they sent back the rest of the future X-Men to their own timeline. Wait...how are they able to do that AND NOT SEND BACK OCF to their own timeline as well? Why is the time-space continuum suddenly showing favoritism over which group of mutants get to go home and which ones can stay? IT DOESN'T MAKE FUCKING SENSE!!! How come they're not stuck in the present timeline like the OCF either? They time-traveled multiple times already and that should leave not just a tear but a gaping wound in the continuum--
fuck this! I'm done trying to analyze crap. At least Doctor Who tries to come up with a creative explanation for their time paradoxes! I have nothing more to say. Read this with caution.


PASSABLY RECOMMENDED: 5/10


Monday, September 21, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #30

We get yet another filler issue wonderfully rendered by guest artist Sara Pichelli whose illustrations were quirky and colorful enough to make me forget HOW INSANELY IRRITATED ANXM HAS MADE ME FEEL IN THE LAST FIVE ISSUES. 

It has gotten so bad that I've spent two days away from continuing on with this title when I easily could, and instead read random slash fanfiction because fictional homoeroticism always cheers me up, and I badly needed to recharge my batteries from the mediocre bullshit that was the story arc concerning Xavier II and his Brotherhood. It was probably my first poor rating for X-Men issue (not counting one or two from X-Men Forever months ago). The only comfort I could offer myself was, "Well, at least I'm not reading Ultimate X-Men".

And you know what? It didn't help reassuring myself that because it's unfair to compare Bendis' work with the clusterfuck canon-raping pinnacle of weird-ass shit storytelling that was Ultimate. However, in some ways, making such connections between these two fundamentally contrasting titles was necessary only because ANXM is beginning to cause me distress as much as Ultimate did years ago. It honestly made me stop reading X-Men. It made X-Men: The Last Stand look like a masterpiece. In fact, the only thing I liked about Ultimate is that Professor X and Magneto in that universe were obviously sexual partners at some point. 

There are clear evidences and implied meanings in dialogues that not only suggest this to the readers but bitch-slaps them with this fact. It is also where one of my favorite Cherik quotes "The first time I ever met an adult mutant was like being hit by lightning, far more powerful than being in love" was derived from so in that sense, Ultimate was okay.

So, in case you've been wondering about it, the answer is a HELL NO, I won't ever be reading or reviewing any story from Ultimate X-Men even the parts that clearly fanservices Cherik shippers like me and are begging to be analyzed (there was even that one scene where Xavier says blatantly that the Maximoff children inherited more than their father's handsome Eastern-European looks. It made me go, "God, Charlie, keep it to yourself; we get it, you used to fuck him, but filter your dirty observations, please"). ANXM at this point is making me see blotches of red in the pages due to a few blood vessels in my brain popping, and I won't subject myself to the same thing by attempting to enjoy Ultimate X-Men. Moving on...

This issue was nice. It didn't make me feel any strong emotions of both like and dislike. I was just fine with it. There were two scenes that focused on character moments; the one with Warren and Laura from the beginning where the two had their first date/night-out/club fight and then, I assume rightly, also their first sexual encounter. Look, they obviously fucked, right? I mean, we were shown the aftermath of the two of them in Warren's bed where she's not wearing pants, so we don't need to be delicate about this and just say outright that Angel and X-23 fucked, okay?. Teenagers fuck all the time, even in comics. To think that I was looking forward to her and Scott developing a relationship in the earlier issues but no, this casual quickie is better and healthier somewhat because relationships between mutants especially the romantic kind will never be idyllic; what with the anti-mutant hatemongers trying to kill them and whatever threat of extinction is occurring. 

Who has time for complicated romance? Warren and Laura have an honest conversation about such a thing.


Sexytimes, yeah

Honestly, I like the idea of Warren and Laura together. They even got to talk about it in a very mature way which was surprising for me because the way Bendis characterized Warren, he doesn't seem to have that much depth, so I was happy to hear him be blunt about his relations with Laura. And Laura was no shy flower either. They're quite a steamy pair together, I suppose. Just look at that cover, it's not misleading like the one in #20 with Scott smooching Laura. That never happened. Now Angel fucking X-23 while on air is very possible. I wouldn't put it pass Warren since it happened before with the mutant Husk--midair sexy times, that is. If I had wings and can carry someone in the sky, I would most definitely try having sex that way. Don't deny it, you hypocrite. You would do the same thing.

The other part of the equation is Jean Grey and Emma Frost..."bonding". And yes, it was terrifying.


Also sexytimes (?)

And Kitty Pryde is sort of dating Peter Quill as a hologram. Teen Bobby is not pleased. Charles Xavier has a last will and testament and they are all invited to the reading, including adult Scott Summers. This storyline will be featured in a issue of Uncanny X-Men, a title I will only start reading months from now so I probably won't find out what happens until then. Whatever.


RECOMMENDED: 6/10

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #29

JESUS. FUCK. I've really started to care less about whatever is happening in this title since issue #26 started. I'm still hungover from the two major crossover events that were burdened by this title; respectively Battle of the Atom and The Trial of Jean Grey (the former was brilliant yet imperfect; the latter was bland and pointless). Reading the sixth volume of ANXM where these issues are placed is quite literally painful for me to peruse--and that's coming from someone who absolutely adored this series when it first started. Now that adoration is slowly turning into impatience. 

As I've pointed out before in my critical review of The Trial of Jean Grey story arc, Bendis is rehashing things that are by this point played out such Jean Grey being the centerpiece of events while the rest of the OCF have nothing of practical use to contribute (aside from Scott WHO JUST FREAKING LEFT to travel space. Now with this short piece concerning the Brotherhood from the future, Bendis thankfully wrapped it up nicely by revealing that the rest of this so-called Brotherhood (specifically Beast, Deadpool, re-animated Iceman, and Molly) were being controlled by none other than Charles Xavier II. 

Only his half=brother Raze (shapeshifting, claw-having love child of Mystique and Wolverine) was safe from this manipulation since he freely agreed to help 'baby Xavier' (how disgusting is this nickname for Charles' bastard son with Mystique?) by time-traveling REPEATEDLY to make multiple attempts to KILL JEAN GREY. Because that's the ultimate goal, isn't it? Every other X-Man is irrelevant, really. Just there for the extra space in the pages and whatnot/

Honestly, I never thought I'd say this but...AGAIN WITH JEAN GREY? Anyway, I've stated before that we need to focus on Bobby, Warren and Hank next time and just put Jean in a corner somewhere, preferably in a self-imposed comatose, if that's the only way we can have access to the other OCF members who should have their own character-centered issues by this point in this series. This is, after all, All-New X-Men and not All-New Jean Grey. It's bad enough teen Scott left and we will never find out the adventures he's having with his dad Corsair. Other than Jean, he gets some character time at least and I'm really going to miss him. He hasn't interacted meaningfully with his older self yet which defeated the purpose of putting him in the same timeline as radically changed adult Cyclops. I was expecting some great moments between these two dorks and I got nothing in the end.

Instead, we got that creepy moment with adult Cyke and teen Jean which was uncomfortably AND NO ONE ASKED FOR since it was almost crossed that line. Thankfully, adult Scott didn't let his lust get the better of him or he may have just ended up making out with a sixteen-year-old version of his dead wife. Thank god this isn't Ultimate X-Men or anything because we all know that shit would probably happen in Ultimate. I mean, in Ultimate, the Maximoff twins got their incest on as their bio-dad Wolverine watched in the shadows...so it won't be a leap if that title got a thirty-something Scott hooking up with sixteen-year old Jean. So, basically, what I'm saying is FUCK ULTIMATE X-MEN.

No, wait. That's not my point. Jesus fuck, I'm too irritated to type a review logically at this point. All you need to know is that ''baby Xavier" is an asshole who wanted to avenge his father's death and...I don't know. I'm not really sure I understood his character motivation and twisted intentions. I cared little about his internal struggle because it was barely nuanced. All I really know about him is that he looks exactly like Charles Xavier, he's a powerful telepath too, he has daddy issues, he hates the X-Men and he wants to kill Jean Grey. That's as one-dimensional and cliché as you can get from a villain. Worst, I DON'T EVEN SEE MAGNETO AROUND to react to the fact that his late best friend had a son who looked exactly like him and is now in murder rampage. Goddamn you, Marvel and Bendis. Wasn't there a memo since Claremont days that specifically dictates that Professor X and Magneto and anything related to their relationship must have some page time allotted to their piles and piles of angst and unrequited "frriendship"? It's a crime not to sprinkle some Cherik when it's a necessary ingredient.

It just doesn't make sense why Magneto is not a part of this arc! He's the only member missing from Cyke's Dream Team. Where the hell is he? What X-title did you conveniently put him in while this attack on the secret bunker is happening? It would have been so interesting to see him react to the second-rated version of Xavier. The more I type out my opinion in this review regarding what I just read, the more annoyed I getting by now. Look, the issue wrapped up some glaring plotholes from Battle of the Atom by revealing that Xavier II was behind all this. Jean (OF COURSE IT HAD TO BE JEAN) managed to knock him out long enough for them to send him to S.H.I.E.L.D (but oh no, that wouldn't be the end of it yet because his version from the future will time travel again and again and again and again....). And then they sent back the rest of the future X-Men to their own timeline. Wait...how are they able to do that AND NOT SEND BACK OCF to their own timeline as well? Why is the time-space continuum suddenly showing favoritism over which group of mutants get to go home and which ones can stay? IT DOESN'T MAKE FUCKING SENSE!!! How come they're not stuck in the present timeline like the OCF either? They time-traveled multiple times already and that should leave not just a tear but a gaping wound in the continuum--

--fuck this! I'm done trying to analyze crap. At least Doctor Who tries to come up with a creative explanation for their time paradoxes!

Lastly, WHAT A STUPID COVER. It was so useless and completely insubstantial to the content of this issue except for the fact that at the end of this story, we see that Warren used adult Cyke's bike to take Laura (X-23) out on a date because she refused to be carried around as they fly in the sky. Since teen Scott is gone, I guess Laura is now being paired with Angel. Makes sense. Now Hank and Jean can hook up in peace, and Bobby can continue on being a supplier for one-liner comedy, and nothing moves forward.

Originally, I was actually going to rate this with a pitiful and passable 6 out of 10 stars but after talking about, it's clear that it doesn't even deserve that because JESUS FUCK THIS ISSUE WAS SO STUPID AND A WASTE OF MY TIME.

NOT RECOMMENDED: