In which we bid a fond farewell to Bill Sienkiewicz; Secret Wars II continues to ruin everything; the New Mutants end up in an improbable number of gladiatorial arenas; Shadowcat’s secondary mutation is queer subtext; Magik gives no fucks about your crossover event; Warlock transcends storytelling conventions; and Karma rejoins the team.
The chronologically inconsistent mobility of Professor Xavier
The Shadow King
New Mutants #29-34
The Arena (more) (again)
Evil group projects
Rachel Summers: butch fashion icon
Some major failures of positive size diversity in comics
The incredible changing Guthries
The wickedest club in Cairo
NEXT WEEK: Miles and Elisabeth Allie X-Plain X-Men / Alpha Flight
In which Miles once again holds down the fort, and Rachel is too tired to come up with more engaging copy than this.
All-New X-Men #38 (00:19)
Spider-Man and the X-Men #3 (1:46)
Amazing X-Men #17 (3:08)
Wolverines #8 (4:29)
Uncanny Avengers #2 (6:15)
Pick of the Week: Avengers World #17; which is neither technically an X-book nor of this week, but is good enough that we don’t care. (8:19)
I kind of love Miles’s vague implication that I’m cooling my heels in Mexico until things blow over.
Here are my very short and sleep-deprived addenda to the reviews:
All-New X-Men #38
Often, “very Bendis” is a compliment. This is not one of those times: the cleverness comes at the expense of characters’ voices. Not exactly bad, but frustrating. I’m pretty damn excited about Teen Space Pirate Cyclops to the rescue, though; and the fact that that probably means a more organic end to the Cyclops ongoing than the abrupt cancellation I was sort of expecting.
Spider-Man and the X-Men #3
This is the ideal use of this team, and I feel really good about it and also about Ernst busting down walls. The first few issues were fun but kind of flailing; here, it feels like the book is really finding its voice and catching its stride.
Amazing X-Men #17
Too busy cracking up at the return of one of my favorite dumb Silver-Age villains to objectively review this.
Wolverines #8 Um, actually, Miles, both Fang’s debut and the incident in which Wolverine stole his costume took place during the M’Kraan Crystal storyline, not the Dark Phoenix Saga.
That said, there is literally nothing about this issue that I did not enjoy immensely. Also, I really hope that Fang and Volstagg turn out to be buddies, because they obviously should be.
Uncanny Avengers #2
Meh. I’m having trouble caring about this storyline. I recognize that Acuña is objectively good at what he does, but at the same time, his art completely fails to hold my attention, which sort of sums up my feelings on this series in general.
-Rachel, who is not actually on the lam in Mexico; although she has learned a lot over the last few days about the laws and logistics concerning international transport of human remains.
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You know how I said that X-Men: Evolution is really entertaining even when it’s really, really bad? This week, we’re gonna put that to the test. Prepare for more rock puns than you have ever heard in a single 22-minute stretch. Also, Transformers. Kinda.
In other news, I still have no idea what the titles refer to.
BUT FIRST, A PRETEND HORROR MOVIE!
We open with the Pryde home, in a fictional town in Illinois. The town has a name, but I don’t care what it is, and it’s never going to be relevant again, so I’m just gonna call it Fake Deerfield. Cool? Cool.
OH, MY GOD, IT’S GRATUITOUS LIGHTNING!
Kitty dreams that she’s falling, and–spoiler–she actually falls through her bed and floor and lands in the basement. She wakes up screaming, and her parents rush down to comfort her. They think she was sleepwalking–until they look up and a PORTENTOUS FLASH OF LIGHTNING illuminates her blanket, embedded in the basement ceiling.
OH MY GOD! THAT’S–actually, wait, that’s not scary at all.
Okay, look, I get what they were shooting for here, but you know who has the least horror-movie powers of just about all the X-Men? Hint: It’s definitely Kitty, barring the stories where phased becomes her default state (which this isn’t). Framing this scene and the Prydes’ cheerfully generic suburban house like a horror movie reminds me of one of those recut trailers where you try to make a movie look like a genre it obviously isn’t; or a kid telling a shaggy-dog joke and then waiting for you to be overjoyed at the lack of punchline; or the entire movie White Noise.1 It’s all buildup, with no proportionate payoff.
Ew, Cerebro, no. Don’t do that.
Meanwhile, back at Stately Xavier Manor, Kitty’s late-night spill pings Cerebro. Does anyone else find it unsettling that Professor X has a psychic supercomputer that provides him with turnaroundfull body scans of teenagers?
Also, Cerebro accurately predicts the outfit that Kitty is going to wear to school the next day.2
“What am I?” wails Kitty. “What’s happening to me?” Just give it five seconds, kid–the credits montage identifies you quite clearly as Shadowcat.
Art by David Wynne. Prints, cards, and travel mugs available until 3/1/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
In which we discard our regularly scheduled programming to focus on Storm and Lifedeath II; no one draws motion like Barry Windsor-Smith; Storm goes up to eleven; and we really wish we had the frame of reference to place this story in the larger context of diaspora literature.
Uncanny X-Men #198 (Lifedeath II)
The narrative impact of sexualization
Extreme weather in comics
Storm in adaptation
The Storm elevator pitch
Our Storm dream casting
Storm as a liminal figure
NEXT WEEK: The New Mutants Go to the Arena!
You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!
I was a little too old to catch X-Men: Evolution the first time around. It debuted my freshman year of college, corresponding with the peak of my nerd pretension—that larval-geek phase where you insist on calling all comics graphic novels—and like the arch little fucker I was, I dismissed it sight-unseen as X-Men dumbed down.
A few years ago, I finally sat down and watched my way through X-Men: Evolution and came away with two conclusions: teenage Rachel was kind of a dolt; and X-Men: Evolution is delightful.
Not only is Evolution not X-Men dumbed down, it’s a really clever, appealing reinvention. In fact, Evolution accomplishes what the Ultimate universe never quite could: shaking off years of continuity and attracting an entirely new audience with a distilled version of one of Marvel’s most convoluted lines.
If you’re not familiar with X-Men: Evolution, the premise is roughly thus: The Xavier Institute is an extracurricular boarding school of sorts, whose students are mainstreamed into their district school—Bayville High—for academics. Some of the characters—Storm, Wolverine, and Professor Xavier on the side of the angels; Mystique, Magneto, and a few others on the other end of the moral spectrum—stay adults; everyone else is aged down to teenagers. Evolution draws characters and some story hooks from the comics, but for the most part, it occupies its own discrete continuity.
And as continuities go, it’s a good one. It’s clever and fun, it’s got a ton of heart, and it stays true to the core themes and characters of the source material without becoming overly beholden to the letter of the text. By the end, it’ll become a really, really good show; but even when it’s bad, X-Men: Evolution is bad in really entertaining ways.
Which is important, because X-Men: Evolution gets off to a pretty rocky start.
Art by David Wynne. Prints, cards, and travel mugs available until 2/22/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
In which Legion grows from setting to protagonist; Rachel is a master of narrative rationalization; “Claremont” is a verb; Warlock befriends an airplane; Xavier owns a significant mistake; New Mutants does a deep dive into power dynamics; you should go read X-Men: Legacy already; and Si reveals the true secret nature of reality.
Blindfold (Ruth Aldine)
Legion (David Haller)
Mental illness in fiction
New Mutants #26-28
Appropriate gym apparel
Rachel’s favorite scene from any X-book, ever
Roughly 20 years of condensed continuity
The Age of Apocalypse
Age of X
X-Men: Legacy vol. 2
David Haller’s accent
A visual metaphor
The true secret nature of reality
The Franklin Richards Universe Hypothesis
NEXT WEEK: Spotlight on Storm
You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!