House, Powers, & Dawn of X: The Mutants' Comics (2019-current) [Marvel]

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
#26
I definitely also feel like Goldballs' future fame hints, and Hope as the Mutant Messiah are everything that it feels like they were meant to live up to in the best way.

Everything else is Powers-related in parts of the replies.

Though this does unavoidably raise the post- and transhumanist high-concept philosophical quandry of "What is actually 'human'?" -- as seen often enough in sci-fi over the decades -- it isn't particularly uncharted territory for Marvel's comics in general nor the X-Men in particular.
This is where I think that the Powers of X part of the storyline is pushing but we won't really see in full until #6. (On that note, I think that the mention of the Phoenix in Powers of X #5 is of particular interest to all of this). The level to which the specific singularity-level civilizations and backup redundancy has been thought through is REALLY damn good, and makes me feel like all of that is one of the biggest points of the whole series that helps make Mutants an "other" in a way that no other super-powered beings are, and really own the "Homo Superior" title. They're NOT just humans. They're different in a way that needs to be genuinely understood to let them own that type of perspective, and I think that the way that they're embracing this sort of transhumanism as their natural right almost is a big part of that.

Though there is certainly no reason to take issue with the mechanism of resurrection, that's not to say all is quite sugar and rainbows here with me either. As Luckystar. on CBR's forum put it, "I'm torn between 'this is genius' and 'this is a creepy cult, not relatable at all, and Storm sounds like a lunatic.'" It's awesome to see things going so well for mutants for once, but damn, this shit is still super creepy.

Granted, there's no way all this isn't supposed to be super creepy. Hickman is either heavily telegraphing something being amiss or setting up a twistless twist -- which would be a twist indeed.
I think that it's very much an interesting examination around what "godlike" really means, and where cults and religious behaviours have their roots (which we've seen with the Techno-Organic Church in Powers of X), as well as the Mutants genuinely embracing that they're different. The conversation with Namor at the end of Powers of X #5 really HEAVILY solidifies that.

Perhaps more pertinent to the overall plot of "House of X"/"Powers of X", though, where is Moira? For being the focal point of this storyline, we haven't seen her (as far as we know) for five issues now, and we've not seen her in the present day portions of the story at all. One begins to wonder if we've been misdirected in some way with regard to her as well.
This is where I think that we might learn that the Resurrection mechanics also come with some bigger implications. We don't know what happens if Moira dies and is brought back. With her knowledge being the most pivotal kickoff point, and with a whole timeline still unknown, along with her ominous "Eleventh Life if you're lucky" still lingering in a world where Mutant Resurrection exists, I think that there's going to be some sort of final reveal that this timeline is Moira's last, and that the X-Men don't get another chance at this. That the massively cosmic long-term stakes at play here are all or nothing for them makes the fact that they can't really die carry a weight that still feels heavier to them in a way that's beyond the worries that the humans face.

Finally, why are people like Callisto, Marrow, Frenzy, Random, and even Daken arriving as part of the villain population?
I think that this all gets answered somewhat along with how we see Emma getting recruited in Powers of X #5 – which I fucking LOVED by the way. Seeing her anger around thinking that it's another Genosha and how the more manipulative thoughts around sociopolitical manipulations are being run was just endlessly interesting. I'm really hoping that we learn who the 12 are, and who Emma was specifically saving a seat for at the table.



X :neo:
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
#27
Aaaaand House of X #6 got me literally everything that I could have wanted vis-a-vis Cyclops:



Additionally, everything with the Quiet Council coming up with their laws was really interesting. I particularly loved how they covered the valuation of murder vis-a-vis Mutants having resurrection and the Humans not (which makes me VERY interested in seeing how the new "Danger Room" area of Krakoa is going to be genuinely dangerous), and this also adjusting the way that they punish Sabertooth.

Also, while this is just added as a note, I think it's an INCREDIBLY important point:

While the Quiet Council is the recognized ruling authority on Krakoa, when there is a state-related excursion -- or in times of conflict or war -- the great captains of Krakoa assume the responsibility of defending the state. In the field, a captain has total control. Among the captains, the captain commander is considered first among equals:

The Great Captains
• Cyclops: Captain Commander
• Gorgon
• Bishop
• Magik


This is interesting moving into Dawn of X, because we have Cyclops front-and-center of X-Men which seems appropriate since X-Men will be the biggest go-to comic, and I expect it to show the way the leadership of Mutant-to-Human relations are handled (which is already awesome after the meeting between Cyke and the Fantastic Four over Sabertooth). Marauders seems to be lead by the unfilled seat of the Quiet Council: Red King Kitty Pride rather than the Commander Bishop, so I'm wondering how those dynamics of authority will be shown. Magik is running things with New Mutants as expected. Then we have Excalibur & X-Force who have each have one head of the Quiet Council on them: Apocalypse & Jean Grey respectively. Fallen Angels is small, but doesn't seem to have any real official leadership. Additionally, this means that there are none of the comics where Gorgon has been shown, despite being listed as a captain – which makes his presence even more mysterious given his background.

Also, it looks like Moira's still being kept around somewhere exceptionally secret from everyone aside from Magneto, & Charles – and possibly Krakoa & Cypher unless it's the tumor region that was referred to in the first issue.


I can't believe that it's all gonna be wrapped up next week with Powers of X #6, and kicking off into X-Men comics again.




X :neo:
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
#28
Yet again, I'm getting to a review of the previous issue on the day of release for the new one. I also didn't bother to review "Powers of X" #5 a couple of weeks ago due to how little material it actually covered, so I'm technically two issues behind. Very quickly, though, I will take a moment now to say PoX #5 was pitch-perfect characterization of Emma Frost.

Jonathan Hickman really gets her, which he should, given he's previously mentioned that she is one of his six favorite mutants. Of course, he also said at that same time that Mr. Sinister is included in this grouping of his favorites, and I'm not all that fond of Hickman's way of writing Essex. =P

Nonetheless, it's more important that he got Emma right, and he has throughout this mini-series. That continued into this past week's issue, "House of X" #6. In fact, everyone was written well there.

X-Men like Jean, Storm, and Nightcrawler sounded and felt like themselves again. Exodus was the appropriate blend of eloquence, contempt, and deference. Even Sinister was closer to what I would generally hope for from him.

That highlights what may be the biggest twist of all from Hickman's retooling of the X-line: there seemingly is no twist where the free will of the X-Men is concerned. Despite all the creepy sci-fi trappings and apparent foreshadowing, they apparently aren't being manipulated into any of this. They've just accepted that Xavier's abandoned dream of mutants living in genuine harmony with baseline humans is better left to the past, as Xavier himself has now chosen to do.

Perhaps a twist is yet to come with this week's concluding issue for this opening act of the X-Men's new direction, but Hickman has laid too much groundwork now to render it all impotent.

Speaking of impotence, it would appear Hickman has delivered on his promise of mutant orgies. Krakoa's newly appointed council has decreed citizens "be fruitful and multiply," and it would appear no time is being wasted in this regard. We even appear to have the long-hoped-for end to the Jean-Scott-Emma love triangle, as a scene conveyed entirely through body language appears meant to clue us into the three of them beginning an exploration into polyamory together.

Hickman also tweeted out this subtle visual clue about that last Wednesday:



Speaking of Krakoa's council, they also decreed that mutants aren't allowed to kill baseline humans (suggestion courtesy of Jean), and that Krakoa itself needs to be treated as a sacred individual (courtesy of Cypher and Exodus).

This thoroughly interesting first session of the council is -- along with the allusions to the polyamoryous development -- a major factor in this becoming my favorite issue of Hickman's time with the X-Men so far. We have the apt characterization I spoke of before, entertaining dialogue, and pleasantly surprising laws everyone from Apocalypse to Mystique agreed to, even if a tad bit begrudgingly.

We also saw them mete out long overdue justice to Sabretooth as their first order of business once the laws were established. While Victor Creed can be a truly great hero when his moral compass is magically inverted, his true nature -- at least in this universe -- is that of an irredeemable-by-choice monster who can't be expected to abide a safe, civil society. So good riddance, asshole.

Granted, it wouldn't have been out of line for Creed to point out, before they sent him to the depths of Krakoa, that at least one or two of those on the council have proven themselves to be arguably as bad as himself at one time or another. Or all the time in Sinister's case.

Of those on the council who have been depicted as villains throughout most of their publication history, though, the majority can probably be expected to play ball on Krakoa as they've agreed to.

Apocalypse seemingly has an affinity with Krakoa dating back to prehistoric times, and will absolutely cooperate so long as he believes mutantkind is being led in a direction that assures it improving and inheriting the Earth. He's patient and doesn't need to see that happen overnight. He has also been recently depicted (in the "Apocalypse and the X-Tracts" mini-series) rediscovering his long-buried more relatable and human side -- even learning to love again through his clone-son, Evan.

Exodus, though first introduced as a somewhat crazed religious zealot, long ago repented of his bigoted behavior (in the 1999 "Uncanny X-Men Annual"), and has consistently been portrayed since as a principled -- even compassionate -- man occasionally burdened by conscience, who nonetheless still usually finds himself in an adversarial relationship with the X-Men. Drawn by nature of his personality to committing to an ideal of something greater than himself, he's perhaps the most likely of the villains on the council to truly embrace a belief in what the mutants are doing on Krakoa.

Raven Darkholme, ever living up to her codename, "Mystique," is difficult to predict on a good day. Her genuine loyalties are few, and certainly don't lie with the X-Men, no matter how many times they've given her another chance after she betrayed them yet again. All that said, if they can reunite her with Destiny and give her confidence that mutantkind is safe, she will almost certainly be willing to affect at least the appearance of a model citizen.

Sebastian Shaw, on the other hand, has never been able to feel satisfied, no matter how much wealth or power he acquires. Thus, he has all too often been allied with the X-Men during a common crisis one day only to be their enemies the next without a second's self-reflection. An utter narcissist, he is essentially the antithesis of Exodus, wholly devoted only to himself. He will be one to watch with caution.

That then takes us to Sinister, in whom there is no remaining humanity to which to appeal. He absolutely will become a problem for Krakoan civilization at some point, if only out of curiosity to see what would happen if an illness of sorts were introduced to an otherwise healthy societal organism. As with Sabretooth, it's not a matter of if he will betray the sensibilities of this new mutant society: it's when.

Blessedly, Selene at least wasn't given a seat on the council, but along comparable lines of questionable appointment, that brings us to Krakoa's four military captains. Three of them --Cyclops, Magik, and Bishop -- are all excellent choices for multiple reasons: their power sets, the variety in combat experience they bring with them, and their big-picture competence while under stress. Gorgon brings all that with him as well, of course, and yet ...

While it's difficult to imagine many characters more appropriate to dominate a battlefield than Gorgon, it's even more difficult to imagine many less suited to entrust with the survival of a way of life -- or life itself, for that matter. The man barely qualifies to be dignified with the word.

Perhaps the discovery that mutantkind is now effectively immortal by nature of what they are will neutralize Gorgon's aggressive nihlism, reconcile him with the notion of God creating him (a fact he has long resented), and put him on a path to championing life. It's just very, very hard to imagine.

As we head into the concluding installment of "House of X"/"Powers of X," I can only hope that whatever obligatory twists remain don't undermine anything established by this issue. Given that we finally saw Moira alive here for the first time in this timeline since HoX/PoX began, we clearly should expect some kind of twist yet to come.

Her presence itself also demands at least the attempt at some kind of sophisticated explanation. Despite an offhand comment on the timeline from "House of X" #2 that Moira faked her death with a "Shi'ar golem" when she died back in January 2001's "X-Men" #108, the entity who died was very clearly portrayed as Moira herself via her own private thought bubbles. Furthermore, both Jean Grey and Cable were psionically present as Moira bid farewell to Xavier on the astral plane while Wolverine covered her physical body with a sheet in the physical realm as she passed on.

Also, the following month's "Uncanny X-Men" #389 inarguably shows that Xavier also truly believed Moira to have died. The entire issue is spent with his private thoughts as he mourns over her.

In other words, this "Shi'ar golem" must have been able to fool not only itself and Wolverine's heightened senses (as well as those of Moira's adopted daughter, Wolfsbane), but also the psychic recognition of three of Earth's most powerful telepaths, all of whom were extremely familiar with Moira.

This is going to be a difficult death to walk back. And that's without even dipping into the X-Men's tie-in mini-series to the 2011 crossover event, "Chaos War." That conflict briefly saw Moira as well as Destiny briefly resurrected, with both their souls merged into and sharing Moira's revived body.

Perhaps any possible discontinuity can simply be chalked up to the multiverse-resetting conclusion of the 2015 "Secret Wars" event, which was also written by Hickman -- in other words, as yet another previously unknown consequence on Marvel cosmology.

I'd really like it to be something more elegant than that, though. I'll be heading out to the comic store on my lunch break soon, so hopefully time to find out.

And hopefully HoX/PoX brings us to a satisfying conclusion even as it kickstarts the Dawn of X.
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
#29
Mystique is definitely the one to keep an eye on, because her request is that they resurrect Destiny – which Moira unquestionably and adamantly opposes. We've finally seen Timeline #6, and how all of those things got kicked off, and have explored all the depths of what Moira's doing – though there are still two redacted diary entries that very much intrigue me.

I love that the final "twist" is just the introduction to the concept that the stakes of the events that are happening are ones where Mutant evolution literally never wins. They're fighting for a right to exist and overcome in a war that's moved on. They are tasked with finding an answer to a struggle that's so outside of themselves that they literally always lose the fight in the end, no matter what. THAT'S the kind of motivation and deep existential crisis that even if/when the Mutant Krakoan society eventually fails, it will irrevocably shape and impact all of mutant kind, and those are the kind of long-term stakes that I can get behind, especially with the seed being planted around Omega Level mutants, and Moira's knowledge of Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse.

It definitely feels like there are big and important flagposts that have been planted, and there's a knowledge of where this is all leading several years from now that feels extremely exciting.

I want to own a physical copy of these collected volumes more than anything I've read in a long damn time.




X :neo:
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
#30
I want to own a physical copy of these collected volumes more than anything I've read in a long damn time.
You can pre-order it in hardback on Amazon for $42 right now! Already done that myself. =D
----

It's difficult for me to form a complete opinion about "House of X/"Powers of X" right now because it's likewise incomplete (by design) on every assessable level.

This was the opening wave of what we've been told already will be at least three waves of storytelling, and it very much feels precisely like that in its set building. The data pages for "House of X" #6 that frustratingly continue to bear redacted information prevent one from reaching the end of HoX/PoX and at least feeling that they got an internally complete story here at the end of the mini-series. From those data pages to the overall plot and the narrative throughlines, it's all still seeding.

That said, we did get some thought-provoking developments for the franchise's mythos via revelations about the X³ time period: we now know that the rise of mutant-killing machines and the subsequent genocide of mutantkind is not the end in itself we've always seen it as.

That genetic apocalypse of sorts has also apparently been serving as a stepping stone to the engineered advancement of Homo sapiens (i.e. baseline humans) beyond their Homo superior (i.e. mutant) brethren to a new "post-human" species, Homo novissima. While ever-more advanced Sentinels impede mutants' already somewhat random and unpredictable progress, baseline humanity is granted additional generations to augment itself via chosen technological enhancements such as genetic modification and cybernetics.

Rather than ordinary biological evolution based in natural environmental factors alone, Homo sapiens will elect to evolve themselves in unification with their technology in calculated, deliberate steps -- thus allowing them time to outpace what should have been their species's natural progression. Unrestrained, irrational resentment towards the power manifestations that serve as the mark of unexpected mutations arising gives way to embracing designer-made elections for humanity's genetic and anatomical future.

Interesting though this notion is -- seeing as it inverts the longstanding premise that it is simply natural manifest destiny for mutantkind to someday inherit the Earth -- for this reader, the revelation of post-human inevitability was treated as a much bigger deal than it actually resonates as after having already read back in "House of X" #2 that the emergence of Sentinels is inevitable. The notion of mutantkind's expiration by way of technological interference was already locked into the story since the third issue of this mini-series.

For me, the overblown preoccupation with this post-human concept is a weakness in the writing. Nothing that cheapens the overall value of the premise of the new direction of the X-books, mind you, but it does render this individual issue -- sadly, the concluding chapter of the mini-series -- short on momentum and without the feeling of much direction.

The other subplot of the issue suffers from a similar lack of understandable preoccupation. Moira has apparently instructed Xavier and Magneto to not allow mutants with the power of precognition onto Krakoa -- and especially emphasized to them that they not resurrect Destiny.

Let's be frank here: this makes no sense.

Now, is it understandable that Moira may have some hangups where Destiny herself is concerned? Sure. After all, in Moira's third life, Destiny had her slowly burned to death.

It's also true that Destiny can sense Moira in a way most others can't, but why the hell is Moira concerned that this will jeopardize all that she, Xavier and Magneto have accomplished?

Destiny killed Moira because she wanted her to use her genetic gifts to endeavor on behalf of mutantkind -- and she has done that. Lordy, has she done that. And she's done well.

Having the most gifted precognitive mutant of all around to assist in safeguarding what the House of X has built would be far and away the more logical decision. Especially since Destiny should be able to recognize the importance of keeping Moira herself safe as well.

This brings us to assessing just how elegantly the retcons about Moira have been executed. The answer, unfortunately, is ... only about halfway well. At best.

Faking her death with a Shi'ar golem was elaborated upon in this issue, and this astonishingly works out much better than I expected. I readily acknowledge after reading this issue that the description Moira's diary provides about this grants adequate plausibility to the notion of the golem having fooled Wolverine and Rahne Sinclair's senses. Even the idea of fooling Jean and Cable is pulled off to a satisfactory degree.

Even Xavier's entire issue of mourning her ("Uncanny X-Men" #389) despite being in on that plan can seemingly be explained by the mention in "House of X" #5 that he has reset his mind twice previously. Perhaps one of those occasions was upon he and Moira deciding to fake her death, thus allowing him to respond convincingly when the time came.

Where the retcons with Moira are handled less elegantly is in terms of factors Hickman makes no effort to address, such as how Moira has managed to keep her greatest secrets from everyone but Charles and Magnus all these years.

The immensely powerful psionic entity, the Shadow King, influenced and at times outright controlled Moira for months within the setting of the X-books (close to two years of actual publication, from "Uncanny X-Men" #254-280). He had access to her mind and memories during all that time, and being the sadistic creature he is, he would not have let this unspeakably valuable information go unmentioned over all the time since.

On a similar note, the omnipath mutant Gamesmaster was in constant contact with every mind on the planet, including Moira's. In 1993's "Excalibur" #72, it was shown that he had access to the secrets in her mind the same as he did anyone else's.

Gamesmaster was aware that Moira had kept electronic records of Proteus's DNA structure, and in the same conversation in which he discussed this fact with Siena Blaze, he answers her question about how he knows of this with "I know everything -- the deepest thought, the guiltiest secret. The more you try and hide it, the easier for me to sense it. Moira has never stopped thinking of her son. Her rational mind acknowledges she could not save him, but in her heart... ...she believes otherwise."

Just as importantly, Gamesmaster comments that "Moira is now redundant" and orders Siena to kill her -- which is hard to imagine he would say or do if her deepest secrets included being a mutant whose death would reset time.

On a slightly less stark note -- but one still worth remarking upon -- Moira was shown to be the first kind person Cable ran into upon arriving in the X-Men's time period. Before the two even had an actual conversation, though, he read her mind without her realizing it in 1997's "Cable" #-1, gleaning knowledge she was otherwise keeping secret at the time -- such as Proteus's existence. It is difficult to imagine he would not have also learned about equally important secrets, such as who she really is.

Perhaps most significantly of all: In issues #80-81 of "Excalibur," both Charles and Moira refer to her as a non-mutant human several times in private conversation with one another.

Added to that, particular significance is given in these issues and other X-books to Moira contracting the Legacy Virus, as the disease had previously been constrained only to mutant victims. Moira even uses a holographic display of her own mapped chromosomal structure in "Excalibur" #88 to illustrate for her teammates the pathology of the Legacy Virus in mutant vs. non-mutant victims.

With Moira's diagnosis being treated as the first confirmed case of mutation in the virus allowing it to infect baseline humans, the revelation of this development to the public in "X-Men: Prime" contributed to an increase in the persecution of mutants (e.g. immediate reprisal hate crimes). This is not a blow one can imagine the Moira of HoX/PoX would have so recklessly dealt to her own cause and people.

It also bears pointing out that Moira has never before been shown to have a problem with Destiny in this timeline, nor -- more to the point -- has Destiny had a particular animosity towards Moira. Not before Destiny's death way back in "Uncanny X-Men" #255, and not since. So this whole premise Moira fears in resurrecting Destiny falls on its face pretty hard for a long-time X-Men reader, along with so much else of the retcons where Moira is concerned.

Destiny has even been briefly revived at least twice since her death (during 2009 and 2010's "Necrosha" and "Chaos War" crossovers) and gone back to Moira's Muir Isle of all places on both occasions. In addition, her disembodied spirit communicated with Xavier's son, David Haller, several times during 1994's "Legion Quest" (in "X-Men" #38-39 and "X-Factor" #109). The topic of Moira never came up on any of these occasions.

This whole matter becomes almost comical when going back to look at "Uncanny X-Men" #142, the second part of the iconic "Days of Future Past" storyline. There we see an incapacitated Moira and Xavier at the mercy of Destiny and Mystique without any great concern given to either:



More comical still, the only time anomaly Destiny had any concern for at the time was the consciousness of the future Kate Pryde, who was inhabiting the body of the present-day Kitty Pryde for the majority of the issue -- and who had been rendered effectively invisible to Destiny's precognitive sight (that certainly sounds familiar ...):



Speaking of moments from that issue that now read as ironic, where to even begin with this one?:



Now is as good a time as any to also raise and address the question of whether it was worth jettisoning Moira's history as the X-Men's oldest and greatest baseline human ally in order to do all this with her. I'm not sure yet that it was. To be fair, though, I'm still not sure that it won't prove to be, so that at least bears acknowledgement.

For all that this cascade of retcons just does not work, Hickman and his collaborators are delivering the most exciting and genuinely interesting status quo for the X-Men in a decade. Enough can't be said to properly convey the degree to which the franchise has been revitalized.

If this run goes down as a failure when the final review is written, at least it will be a glorious one.

Other thoughts:

- PoX #6 may have telegraphed what could lead to the Krakoan society's downfall. Mystique can barely qualify as someone to trust, and even then only under specific circumstances, but she is most definitely not someone to ever doublecross -- as all three of these people should know well

- In what must have been a deliberate allusion, dialogue throughout HoX/PoX has included the terms about cosmic-level societies from the data page at the end of "Powers of X" #5: in PoX #6, Moira mentions in her diary that she has "successfully imprinted the idea of stronghold" in Magneto's mind; in PoX #1, The Librarian says of humanity and mutantkind, "hope to God they never have dominion again"; in HoX #4, after coming online, the Mother Mold addresses Wolverine -- and presumably mutantkind as a whole -- as "titans." It's likely also no accident that these allusions come at the approximate beginning, middle, and end of this mini-series

One final note: today at Adventures In Poor Taste!, Jonathan Hickman will be answering selected questions from fans submitted via Twitter. What he answers will be up to him apparently, and I'm hoping he chooses some (or all!) of mine:

Jonathan,

Congratulations, first of all, on this memorable start to your run with the X-Men. As a lifelong fan since the late 1980s, this is an exciting time to be following Marvel's Merry Mutants.

Now, to my questions:

- Will you continue to utilize data pages throughout "Dawn of X"?

- Did you have any hesitation in selecting Moira for the retcon at the core of HoX/PoX given her decades-long distinction as the X-Men's greatest baseline human ally? What convinced you of the choice?

- Do you and Marvel editorial picture the recent revelations about Moira as also applying to the seventh iteration of the cosmos or only to the history we've come to know since the multiverse was reconstituted at the end of your "Secret Wars" epic?

- Perhaps already covered by the answer for my previous question, was the Shadow King able to glean Moira's secrets while possessing her during the "Muir Isle Saga"?

- Any plans to address lingering questions of the Maximoff twins' paternity & superhuman category?

- Do you plan for Gorgon to reassess his nihilism in light of the new direction proposing immortality (in various forms)?

- Could the mutant resurrection process be used on anyone or does the biological composition of the eggs only facilitate mutant restorations?

- How soon can we hope to see some "redefined mutant love"? =P

When I met you at HeroesCon in 2015, I just had to tell you that your run with the Avengers had been almost everything I'd waited for as a Marvel fan since I was four years old. Now, as one whose first love was the X-Men specifically, I find myself poised comparably.
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
#32
Thanks! I have pre-ordered it now as well! :mon:

Also, thanks as always for the really detailed breakdown of all things comics to help fill in the bits and pieces of questions and thoughts that are well outside of my realm of knowledge. They're always just massive appreciated.

The questions answered did give a really nice bit of information about why the X³ timeline wasn't fully charted out, and I'm glad that that's being followed up on, and that we're keeping the charts and things in the X-Books.

I think that Moira's thing with Destiny is definitely the fact that Destiny alluded to Moira having ELEVEN lives, "If you make the right choice at the end" but no more – and that we're only on life 10 now. Additionally, if Destiny senses that something's up that could ultimately fail or endanger the mutants (i.e. the knowledge that the Mutants always lose), she's openly stated that she's going to take Moira down – which will destroy all of this, and all of that foreshadowing is VERY much pointing to Destiny killing Moira when she comes back for a VERY intentional and specific purpose.




The important thing to note here is that with the Resurrection in place, we also don't know what it'll take to actually trigger Moira's mutant abilities, and if her death is just an instant game over for that whole timeline, or if they have the capabilities to resurrect her, if the timeline is safe only once she's dead AND can't be brought back.

Ultimately, I think that she's afraid of Destiny, and is going to do everything she can to avoid being found by her, but the inevitable return of Destiny means that once that happens, it's going to be a MASSIVE moment and set off some big events in the mutant world. Especially since she's connected to Mystique, who there's already all of the foreshadowing placed on. Speaking of which:





X:neo:
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
#33
In reading the comments section on an io9 article about the upcoming Moira series, I stumbled on this page from Mutant Genesis that I figured that you'd appreciate:



Additionally, I really enjoyed X-Men #1.

I'm not sure where the Terminator-warping away character's gonna be, but those definitely feel like the seeds of big teases of things to come.

Seeing how Scott operates with the other mutants as Captain Commander works SO damn well. You get a sense of how literally all of the other mutants, even Magneto look to him as the leader in the field, and how he cares for them all out and about. His conversation with Polaris reminds me of all of the moments of Scott's optimism on places like Utopia & also during AvX when he was really just investing the entirety of his belief and investment in what they were trying to achieve for the greater good of everyone. It feels like there might be some panels that are parallels to those moments, but I haven't gone back to check.

It really leans in well with all of the weird and slightly disturbing new status quo of everything. Corsair's perspective as a human was really interesting to see (and I loved the bit about Krakoan dish washing). Also, the whole Summers clan having their home out on the moon is definitely neat and it feels like it's been a long time coming. Wolverine & Cyclops having rooms next to Jean is really interesting #MutantOrgyThings and I'm thinking that with Emma running things in the Hellfire world that it doesn't make sense for her to have a presence out there, but it'll be interesting to see where all of the Scott & Emma things end up given sharing the beer and whatnot. (Honestly, even though she's a future alternate AU character, Secret Wars made me really wish that Ruby had a place there). On the same note: Hope being one of The Five makes sense in her not being present there, but it feels like it'd be nice to have her in that space at some point.

Lastly (especially with that above panel), it's really neat to see Magneto still very much being Magneto on all of the ways of the kid mutants idolizing them, but him also wanting to be the sort of necessary force to prevent them from ever needing to be. Just very much liking the whole Krakoan society vibe for just how brilliantly MUTANT it feels.



X :neo:
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
#34
I don't know, man. I may be out. lol

To tell you the truth, I was already having misgivings after the Q&A from Hickman last week. Some of his responses seemed to suggest a lack of understanding of the audience. Especially the question about Wolverine's adamantium.

Certainly I understand that Hickman's concerns and priorities as the storyteller of this particular milestone in the X-Men's history may differ from those of decades-long readers of the same -- but to dismiss a question that has always been integral to the remit of the character as uninteresting or unimportant? It's fair -- insightful even -- to observe and highlight that the precise mechanism behind adamantium still being with Logan isn't particularly important, but the question of whether it is even still there at all? Sorry, Jonathan, but that is as important as whether he has a healing factor or his claws.

I think it's altogether possible that Hickman's tendency to think about the grand scheme of things leaves him a tad oblivious to the finer details that resonate with fandom at large. That's perhaps an unavoidable curse of possessing vision of his caliber. It does not, however, bode well for a run on the X-Men, where the fine details and the quieter events ... the "moments between the moments," so to speak ... have always resonated loudest with the franchise's fans.

Hickman takes his level-best stab at that with the Summer House scenes here in "X-Men" #1 (the conversation between Cyclops and his father is pretty great), but those overall end up leaving a long-term reader feeling even more adrift.

For instance: what the fuck is happening with Gabriel Summers, a.k.a. Vulcan? Yes, he's Scott and Alex's brother, but he's also possibly the biggest douche canoe to ever wear an X-Men uniform, for however short a time that was.

When he made his survival and Xavier's shady shenanigans known to the X-Men in 2006's "Deadly Genesis," he slammed the X-Men's SR-71 Blackbird into Banshee at full speed (killed him) along with a commercial airline occupied by more than one hundred other passengers (killed them and framed the X-Men for it); fried the hell out of Wolverine (thought he'd killed him); and hijacked the brain and powers of his niece, Rachel, whom he also kidnapped, shackled and savagely beat.

That's before all the other bullshit he pulled over the following three years of publication, such as firing a blast of energy down Christopher Summers's throat (killed him); imprisoning Havok, Polaris, Ch'od, and Raza, then torturing them for months; and waging an intergalactic war until he finally, finally, finally died in a battle that ended with an explosion that ripped open a tear in the fabric of the universe -- which naturally then led to future cosmic peril.

We won't say the guy is undoubtedly utterly irredeemable; we'll just say he hasn't yet shown himself to be capable of it, so this fanfiction-esque cooking-in-the-kitchen-together scene makes utterly no sense. It simply doesn't pass any notion of suspension of disbelief for Vulcan to be barbecuing with these people and offering up playful pranks without at least some sense of reckoning for all that he did, especially what he did to them in particular.

Certainly there's quite a few people who have been accepted onto Krakoa who arguably shouldn't be there after all the horrible things they're responsible for. At least a measure of lipservice has been paid to that with regard to the likes of Gorgon, though. It is a touch more difficult to swallow that Gabriel would even want to join this new society of mutants on Krakoa (where he and his team of X-Men died ...), much less that he would not actively and immediately seek its destruction.

Another cause for concern from the Q&A was, for me, Hickman's response to the question of whether mutants resurrected via this new process on Krakoa could be said to actually have their souls:

----
"The afterlife is ‘technically’ part of Marvel continuity (and Jack Kirby is ‘technically’ ‘God’), so if you want to make an argument that there’s strict Judeo-Christian set of post-death rules for a resurrection to result in a soul-reclaimed and soul-equipped being, then cool.

The problem is that we don’t do that. Almost every single character death we undo, or character we bring back through whatever story construct or general shenanigans doesn’t go on a soul quest to recover their essence (in the past, yes, sometimes, but not anymore–imagine if we did that nowadays in our current death-resurrection cycle, that’s a lotta issues)."
----

On top of the continuity concerns I've had over the past several weeks where Moira MacTaggert is concerned, this raised quite a few more.

In resurrection stories of recent years, we've seen the literal disembodied spirits -- and they were explicitly identified as such -- of both Jean Greys (in the "Jean Grey" solo series and "Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey," from late 2017 into January 2018); Professor X (the opening arc of "Astonishing X-Men," also from two years ago); Nightcrawler (the five-issue opening arc of "Amazing X-Men" in late 2013 to early 2014); and Proteus (the same "Astonishing X-Men" story that saw Xavier once again back in the world of the living).

Along related lines, the conceit of a Judaeo-Christian anima was central to the "New Mutants: Dead Souls" mini-series just last year, in which the malevolent spirit of Tran Coy Manh (brother of the New Mutants member Karma) was the primary adversary. The restoration of Guido Carosella's soul also came up during that storyline, as did the imprisonment of Tran's spirit within Karma.

The first couple arcs of Wolverine's 2010 solo series were also altogether focused on a story involving his soul being temporarily removed from his body and sent to Hell while his body became possessed by demons -- followed by his subsequent exorcism, quest for vengeance on those responsible for his hellish experience, and the tragic, unforeseen fallout of his bloody revenge.

We're talking about the first 16 issues of that volume of "Wolverine," the first three issues of the concurrently published "Daken: Dark Wolverine," the first three issues to the third volume of "X-23," and the "Wolverine: Road to Hell" one-shot -- all revolving around the premise of Wolverine possessing a Judaeo-Christian sort of essence.

For that matter, as Wolverine's clone of sorts, the question of whether X-23 herself had a soul tormented her until it was confirmed in 2012's "Circle of Four" storyline -- right before she died and was resurrected via making a post-death deal with Mephisto ("Venom" volume 2, #13.2-13.4).

And to be clear, all these examples of recent years I've spoken of only involved characters from the X-Men family who were depicted as disembodied souls prior to being bonded to a repaired or newly formed living body. It would become a far more exhaustive listing of issues and storylines were I to take a broader account of Marvel's catalogue and include instances of other characters' souls appearing away from their body (typically shortly after death or before resurrection). This would bring in such characters as General Thaddeus Ross, Puck, Flash Thompson, the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, the Alejandra Jones Ghost Rider, Brother Voodoo (both of them), Ares, Doc Samson, Mysterio, Deadpool, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, and Jane Foster. The souls of several of these have even been depicted during post-mortem circumstances just this year or last.

Even so, no doubt I'm still forgetting some, both X-related and not. That's without even casting so wide a net as to touch upon 2010's "Chaos War" storyline, which was largely predicated on the souls of many dead heroes and villains returning to the mortal plane when the various afterlife realms were conquered by the Chaos King or abandoned by their proper rulers in the face of the cosmic crisis he unleashed.

That brings us then to the first scene of Hickman's "X-Men" #1, whereupon we find a flashback to Cyclops as an adolescent receiving his first set of ruby quartz glasses from Charles Xavier. The problem with this, of course, is that Mr. Sinister gave Scott his first set of these glasses, as established in the final issue of the classic "Inferno" storyline, 1989's "X-Factor" #39.

I acknowledge that I'm primarily speaking for myself with these gripes about continuity, but I imagine that Hickman's "X-Men" #1 will, for one reason or another, become the jumping-off point for a lot of readers who have been giving this new direction a chance.

The opening salvo of Hickman's tenure and now this first step into "Dawn of X" gives the X-Men a feel too much like the Inhumans for my taste. I recall you, @X-SOLDIER, enjoying that tryhard attempt of several years past to make those uninteresting weirdos relevant, so I can understand why you would find the Krakoan society "brilliantly mutant." =P

For myself, it's just odd and borderline off-putting. Mind you, I can roll with it, and it's not like I would call it egregious in concept from the outset. It's just very different and doesn't immediately feel like a natural fit.

I'll readily admit that feeling this way very much comes from an ingrained notion that the Chris Claremont & Jim Lee-esque X-Men are the defining vision of the franchise -- and I likewise acknowledge the probability that this is unfair.

Longtime X-Men reviewer Paul O'Brien remarked of the Grant Morrison relaunch back in 2001 --

----
"What's surprising about Morrison and Quitely's run is that it feels like something totally new, even though when you get down to it, they haven't introduced any wildly different ideas. It's still the mutants in a world that hates them (albeit that Morrison has begun playing up the other viewpoints that are also out there), and it's still using pre-existing ideas like the Shi'ar, the Sentinels and Phoenix.

The difference lies in the tone of the book. While it may be using previous concepts, New X-Men has dumped the longstanding habit of doing direct sequels to earlier stories and played down the book's previous obsession with its own continuity. The book seems to have rediscovered optimism, and dragged itself out of the soap opera rut that it had been in for ten long years (largely because that was the formula that worked for Claremont, and the 1990s X-books were built on a policy of not straying too far from the formula). Not all Morrison's stories have clicked ... but nonetheless, Morrison has successfully stripped away the years of accumulated barnacles that have attached themselves to the X-Men characters, and pared back to the fundamentally strong concepts that lie at the heart of the series.

The people who grumble that New X-Men isn't the X-Men are wrong. It's not the Claremont X-Men, undeniably, and the two became very closely (too closely) identified with one another over the last twenty years. But there's more than one way to skin a cat, and if this isn't a valid take on the X-Men concept then, presumably, neither was Lee and Kirby's. And they created the damn book. We've had Claremont, and pallid copies of him, for twenty years now. We don't need any more of it. If you want that sort of thing, fine, buy X-Treme X-Men, which is still doing that style of story for those who want to see it. For the rest of us, at long last we're getting to see something new and improved instead of endless iterations on the formula."
----

Full disclosure: I wasn't crazy about Morrison's take on the X-Men either. XD

It did eventually grow on me, though, and he did bring in some directions that have stood as lasting improvements ever since. Overall, though, Paul was correct when he said that Morrison had "not introduced any wildly different ideas."

Hickman, I believe, has.

Again, I may be speaking for only myself -- but I suspect that I'm not -- when I say that the current take is going to prove too much of a departure from both Claremont and the classic premise. Attempting both at the same time just doesn't strike this longtime fan as a recipe for success.

I'll totally eat my words if they don't pan out, but I'll wager that it won't be more than a couple of years before flagging sells see a new creative team come aboard who sales the next relaunch on a "getting back to the basics that made the X-Men great" pitch, with a school, cool tech of a non-techno-organic variety, the classic Xavier dream, etc.

Another creative choice that I don't think has been helping Hickman is that he keeps introducing these new, terribly uninteresting Orchis characters. Doctor Gregor should be at least somewhat intriguing, but she mostly just comes across as a myopic moron. Which is still a touch more interesting than the two named Orchis characters introduced this issue.

During the X-Men's raid of the last Orchis base on Earth, we meet Verstael from Final Fantasy XV. He is then swiftly killed off panel, and we are soon after introduced to Shaved Verstael, the secret leader of Orchis. Who might as well have just been the other guy for all that making them two separate characters matters.

Seriously, why are there two characters to fulfill basically the same purpose in this issue given that we had never met either before? And why do they both suck? And why is the slightly more interesting-looking one of the two the one that doesn't stick around?

Enough grumbling, though. Focusing on the positive, first, the artwork here is the fantastically atmospheric stuff one would expect of Leinil Francis Yu. It's always a treat to see him draw X-Men.

Secondly, at least we had the polyamoryous arrangements getting some attention this issue. I wasn't sure whether what we got in "House of X" #6 would be all we would see for a while, so that was a pleasant surprise. It's lovely to see what Hickman has done here, with Jean's room situated between Logan's and Scott's, with inner doorways connecting hers to both of theirs.

Third, it was really very nice seeing the Summers family (almost) all together like this. I still can't stand that punk who took the proper Cable's place, though, so I want the original back. I really can't believe that little crapstain came out of nowhere and executed the Cable I grew up with, and then the only Young Cable I care about (Nate Grey, a.k.a. X-Man) randomly become a fucking nutbag who now lives in his delusional little "Age of X-Man" dimension.

Two genuinely good characters written out to make room for a petulant bitch from nowhere who murdered one of the two Cables he's replacing. Why the fuck is he here again? Can we jettison his ass into the Sun along with Vulcan?

Sorry, I'm supposed to be trying to be positive now. Magneto and Cyclops written to perfection. Nice showings of respect between them. Lovely conversation between Cyclops and Polaris.

What else? Um, about half of the attempts at humor actually work? :monster:

I'll decide tomorrow if I'm going to continue supporting this experiment financially.
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
#35
I went ahead and gave "Marauders" #1 a try. Not bad. It looks like it will be a fun adventure book, reminiscent in tone, dialogue and team dynamics of the X-Men's Outback era ("Uncanny X-Men" #229-245).

This certainly makes for one of the better takes on Kitty Kate in several years, even if some of her motivations were left puzzling. For instance: okay, she didn't want a teleporter to take her to Krakoa. But how is that any different from how she would have gotten there had she been able to go through the gateway as intended? =P

Krakoa is a fellow mutant anyway, so is utilizing the gateways fundamentally different from being Illyana's luggage? Or Pixie's? Or Lila Cheney's? Ariel's? Vanisher's? Gateway's? Manifold's?

... It occurs to me that there are a lot of long-range mutant teleporters out there who put Nightcrawler's bamf-ing to shame, despite him easily being the most popular mutant teleporter. XD

Anyway: it's just a random and kind of nonsensical hangup for Kate to suddenly have. As someone who phases through walls all the time rather than using hallways and doors, it's really odd that she would feel some overwhelming compulsion to do this particular thing "legit." At least not without more elaboration. Again, she was perfectly on board with using teleportation until she couldn't make it through Krakoa's personal gateway.

For that matter, why not use a jet? Even if she was trying to take the long way for some sudden character-building exercise, she's definitely never had a problem flying in the X-Men's jets. Why is that less honest than going by stolen boat?

I'm also puzzled about her choice in team name. I get distancing it from the X-Men, but seriously? Was "X-Factor" not available? "Freedom Force"? Even "X.S.E. (Xavier's Security Enforcers)"? Between Iceman, Pyro, and Bishop, all of those organizations will have a past team member in this book.

Oh, but the team name used by the vicious murderers who carried out the Morlock Massacre, paralyzed Colossus, put Nightcrawler in a coma, crippled Archangel, and left Kate herself temporarily stuck in her phased state? That one's available?!

... Okay then.

Perhaps editorial mandated the name be used on the book for the sake of trademark preservation or something like that. At least Storm commented on not being fond of the choice. Perhaps that was meta.

My griping and the elusive particulars of either impetus I harped on above aside, this was still a strong issue. The dialogue was fun, the character interactions were enjoyable, Shadowcat was portrayed as the freakin' badass she's supposed to be, and we got to see her being an effective leader for the first time in far too long.

On the topic of the interactions, I especially want to highlight those between Kate and Storm. Ororo not only sounds like herself here rather than the priestess of a creepy cult; she sounds like Katherine Pryde's big sister. That was perfect.

If the flagship book Hickman is writing is going to insist on being bizarre and a casserole of continuity confusion, then hopefully the rest of the relaunch titles can do their job as well as this issue. There's no way all of them can prove to be a success, but perhaps most will despite my prediction from last post that this Krakoa era will be short-lived.

Speaking of continuity conundrums, this issue isn't immune to them either, sad to say. Iceman remarks on St. John Allerdyce's Australian accent in this issue as he realizes that this is the original Pyro, back among the living. It's then mentioned that Allerdyce was among the first mutants to be resurrected on Krakoa, as a test of the resurrection process. The problem with this is that the original Pyro fought both Iceman and his time-displaced teenage counterpart in "Iceman" vol. 3, #8 less than two years ago (published December 2017) -- with the older Robert Drake commenting on Pyro's accent and the younger Bobby commenting on the pyrokinetic being back from the dead:



Part of the reason Hickman and co.'s continuity beleaguered relaunch is so confounding for me, by the way, is that we get things like the Pyro non sequitur or the utterly puzzling depiction of Vulcan or that unfounded comment about souls from the AiPT! Q&A -- but then with "X-Men" #1, we see that Hickman is well aware of the rather obscure fact that we've technically seen posthumanity in the X-books before.

While decimating the Orchis base in that issue, the X-Men release the captive Serafina from a laboratory. Serafina, for those who may not remember, is one of the Children of the Vault, a population of baseline humanity who evolved from that genome over 6000 years under accelerated temporal conditions into a separate branch of superhuman from mutantkind. Within their society, they regard themselves as the rightful inheritors of the Earth, having no loyalties to either mutants or baseline humans.

And Hickman remembered these guys, despite that they appeared in just two relatively minor arcs, thirteen and then nine years ago respectively, surrounded on all sides by much more notable stories (e.g. "House of M," "Decimation," "Deadly Genesis," "Civil War," "Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire," "War of Kings," "Messiah CompleX," "Messiah War," "Second Coming," "Necrosha," "Age of X," "Siege," "Fear Itself," etc.). These arcs were also comprised of just six issues the first go round, ("X-Men" #188-193) then four issues the second time ("X-Men Legacy" #238-241).

That's it. That's the most the Children of the Vault were ever seen. There are single issues in which Vulcan has more individual instances of being a douchebag than there are issues in which Serafina has even appeared! Yet here we are. =P

Anyway, next week we have "Excalibur" starting. This is probably the "Dawn of X" title I'm most curious about.
 
AKA
TresDias
#36
I am seriously late on getting out my review of "Excalibur" #1. I've had most of it written for over a week, but just haven't taken the time to finish with formatting it. So I now find myself needing to put out a review for three books, as "New Mutants" #1 and "X-Force" #1 came out last week.

Upon finishing my look at "Excalibur," I also found myself in the unfortunate and rather troubling position of having decided I almost certainly don't want to continue buying all of the "Dawn of X" titles, whereas I'm very, very intrigued about some of the stuff announced for early next year -- namely this "Giant-Size X-Men" issue starring Jean Grey and Emma Frost; and the "X-Men/Fantastic Four" mini-series exploring Franklin Richards's place in the Krakoa era.

Again, this is both an unfortunate and troubling position to be in, because we're only talking about a four-issue mini and what will essentially be a one-shot as being what has me most intrigued right now. And I'm more intrigued about those than most of the intended-as-ongoing "Dawn of X" titles that have already seen their first issues published.

Some of my reasons for this will come across in my actual review of "Excalibur," but before we get to that, I want to start with something positive -- these awesome fan tributes to the X-Men's new status quo:

https://www.reddit.com/r/xmen/comments/dj9w7m https://www.reddit.com/r/xmen/comments/do9cer

Per usual, there are continuity issues afoot, so let's get those out of the way first, beginning with Rogue's power suppression collars -- or "power-dampenin' bracelet" as she dubiously refers to here. She hasn't needed such devices since the final four issues of "Mr. & Mrs. X," which only just ended in June.

This is hardly a deep pull from the ol' continuity well. The book literally ended the same month "House of X"/"Powers of X" began this new era of the franchise.

Even so, I find myself once again dumbfounded at some bits of obscure continuity being referenced and maintained on the one hand (e.g. Arthur ruling Camelot in Otherworld; or the very existence of the Braddock Academy) while what-should-have-at-least-been-caught-by-an-editor recent stuff -- like Rogue's most recent status quo vis-à-vis control of her powers -- falls by the wayside.

And even as recognition on the obscure front goes, there's seemingly also a fundamental misunderstanding at work as concerns Captain Britain lore. Brian Braddock hasn't needed to wear the Amulet of Right to access his powers in a very long time -- since "The Daredevils" #1, published all the way back in 1981. The powers are just part of him.

The amulet itself resides in the Green Chapel of Camelot in Otherworld, as seen in "Captain Britain and MI: 13" #2. As also depicted during the same opening arc to that series, Brian has even been shown continuing to retain his powers when those of the amulet were essentially smelted and merged with the magicks of other arcane artifacts by the Skrull military to forge a magical talisman of their own.

Finally, I'm not sure there's any precedent for Apocalypse being a sorcerer, low-level or otherwise. That said, being so long-lived, it's certainly not hard to believe he would have at least looked into magic at some point. The notion works well enough anyway, so whatever, let's move on.

It's really good to see Betsy and Brian on good terms again after their falling out in the wake of 2012's "Uncanny X-Force" #23. There, Betsy found herself in the very unfortunate position of having to hijack Brian's motor functions and force him to kill their brother, Jamie, in order to prevent the multiverse from being enslaved. Brian was understandably upset, but it's also true that he had somewhat knowingly refused to carry out the sordid-yet-nonetheless-necessary deed so that his sister would do it instead.

Even with whatever hurt lay between them, they've apparently made peace. Which is great to see. As fucked up as Betsy's life -- and Betsy herself -- has gotten over the years, there should be someone who always supports her and offers her familial, unconditional love. She's definitely not going to do it for herself.

The character work on Betsy isn't as solid as that done with Kate a couple of weeks ago, but the plot of this issue is overall more engaging than either "X-Men" #1 or "Marauders" #1. On the other hand, either of those issues had pencil work more befitting the majority of their cast.

Marcus To's style looks fine on Jubilee, yet is wildly out of place here on Betsy and Morgan Le Fay, giving both a countenance far too youthful and expressions much too soft. Conversely, To's Gambit, Rogue and Apocalypse are all surprisingly excellent.

The environments still leave much to be desired, though: for what should be a myriad of fantastical fairy tale-esque locales, To only seems comfortable here tackling the challenge of a Krakoan nighttime beach and sky. Most of this issue's backgrounds go empty, leaving the job of conveying a sense of location primarily to the colorist.

For his part on that front, colorist Erick Arciniega is much more successful than this issue's penciler in capturing hues that evoke the intended sense of sword & sorcery -- though even he seems to promptly forget that it's supposed to be nighttime right after the panels depicting Gambit and Rogue on the beach.

A few more brief observations about this issue:

- There seems to be a parallel between Betsy and Apocalypse with changing how others address them. Kate over in "Marauders" as well. Is there some connection there or is it an unrelated coincidence prompted by their new circumstances?

- Hey, is that Feral??? So happy to see her alive again

- Between this issue and several of "Mr. & Mrs. X," there has been either heavy foreshadowing of a pregnancy for Rogue, or heavy misdirection to that effect

The remainder of my feelings about this issue can be summed up by what Chris V posted in the comments of Paul O'Brien's annotated observations for "Excalibur" #1:

This was the first “Dawn of X” comic I really did not enjoy.

It seemed completely out of place with the Krakoa set up.
It seemed like a C-list X-title that would have been launched randomly amidst a bunch of X-books in the 1990s, rather than serving any real purpose with the new status quo.

It is starting to seem like this Krakoa story isn’t really an unified concept.
It is starting to seem more like it’s just a jumping off point for other X-titles that could have existed at any point in X-history.
(Even Marauders, with what we saw, it was a team of mutants going to rescue other persecuted mutants.)

Apocalypse as a sorcerer now? Why?
That doesn’t seem to fit with anything we’ve seen from Apocalypse during this event.

Howard’s writing isn’t that great. I found it clunky.
At times, I felt like I was reading the script for a RPG game.
“Where was Betsy seen last?”
“With Jubilee.”
“Let us go talk to Jubilee now.”
“Jubilee do you know anything about Betsy?”
“Yes, I did talk to her. She did not give me much information.”
“Would you care to join our party Jubilee?”
Jubilee joins your Excalibur team!
Along similar lines as what Chris V spoke of, there's this painful bit of unnaturally expository dialogue between Betsy and her brother (wait, which one do I mean??) early in the issue:

"I wish Jamie could have seen it."
"Our brother?"

Oh, this does not bode well.

Despite this book featuring several characters who are either established favorites of mine for close to 30 years (Gambit and Rogue) or always of interest to me (Betsy Braddock and Apocalypse); and despite its employ of the sword & sorcery genre that is always a flavor I'm happy to see added to Marvel ... I don't think this is going to be a title I continue to pick up.

I will go ahead and finish out this first round of "Dawn of X," seeing as we have only "Fallen Angels" #1 left to come out tomorrow now that "New Mutants" and "X-Force" are on the scene, but it seems increasingly likely I'm going to have to take this approach posted by Arrowhead as a comment on Paul O'Brien's annotated observations for "Marauders" #1:

"I’m a trade paperback guy, but I was actually following Hoxpox on a week-to-week basis. Now I feel comfortable stepping back, and eventually checking out some trades depending on reviews. Oh, well."

Moving on now to "New Mutants" #1, this title rather acutely highlights Chris V's observation that "['Dawn of X'] is starting to seem more like it’s just a jumping off point for other X-titles that could have existed at any point in X-history." Which is not to say that the book has nothing at all to inform us about the Krakoa setup -- to the contrary, it tells us quite clearly that some characters (e.g. Mondo and Cypher) are picking up on something being off about the mutants' new paradise and its constant aura of feeling like a fever dream.

It's also helpful to actually see a whole group of mutants who have taken up residence on Krakoa acting altogether like themselves, largely dispelling concerns about their mental autonomy.

The Krakoa set-up has very little to say about this book, though, outside providing a reason for Rahne Sinclair, Chamber, and Sunspot to be alive again. More harshly, though, I don't think it would even be a stretch to say that by getting the New Mutants off that creepy island, the book feels more like a "proper" X-book. Which I kind of hate to say, especially since I enjoyed this book more than any other issue #1 in "Dawn of X" thus far.

It's consistently successfully funny. The art is appropriate for the title, and reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz's art on the original "New Mutants" run. The characters all have distinct voices, and they're spent exchanging dialogue in very Claremont-ian "downtime" scenes. The plot is simple in a good way, and straightforward.

There's literally nothing here not to like. I can't even raise an objection with regard to continuity for once, despite the oddity of Mondo's inclusion here. The dude has barely had any appearances in any books ever, so he's almost a blank slate waiting to be retooled for some new purposes.

Mondo's dead clone from "Generation X" #3 through #25 has far and away more appearances than the genuine article, and even that wasn't many. After the clone died in 1997's "Generation X" #25, the real dude didn't show up until "Generation X" #60-61, and has appeared in only three issues since ("Uncanny X-Men" #600, "X-Men Blue" #7 and 9) -- two of those being entirely unspoken cameos.

From what little we ever saw of him, we could have really only said that he's kind of witty and quite loyal to Black Tom Cassidy, who rescued him from the Hellfire Club long ago. That association with Tom, Krakoa's defense operations specialist, may also be part of why we're seeing Mondo working in collaboration with Cypher now.

With basically no drawbacks whatsoever, "New Mutants" #1 is the first essentially perfect issue out of "Dawn of X." I will very likely continue purchasing this book, even if not the rest.

Oh, and the St. Croix twins running around as adorable little Penances in that one panel? Loved it!

Over in "X-Force," we have a decent enough issue if one focuses on the artwork, vivid personality of Black Tom, and the shock ending -- as well as the horrific realization that these new Reavers(?) attacking the island are wearing patches of Domino's skin to allow them to get on the ground before they are identified as a threat. Joshua Cassara's pencils and Dean White's coloring are a suitable match for this grim and violent book.

The plot, though, still requires giving allowance to a lot of plot-induced stupidity: Xavier not only going to Sokovia unaccompanied, but also trusting the first transmitter-spiked glass handed to him; Sokovian officials apparently thinking this whole thing won't rapidly come back to blow up in their faces in the first place; Domino not giving her luck power a chance to maybe get the X-gene detection device to malfunction before she started stabbing people; or not sending her in without an image inducer if her exposed skin was enough to get her shoulder grabbed; seemingly being rather unconcerned about the possibility of incoming attacks what with Domino being out of contact for more than a week after disappearing on an infiltration mission; and ignoring Black Tom's concerns after making him chief of security.

It isn't immediately clear whether these problems are down to Benjamin Percy's plotting and writing or if the overall beats were dictated to him and he simply went through the motions of putting a script together. Either way, it's not encouraging, and calls to mind for me many (but not quite all) of these sentiments expressed by Mordechai Buxner and
Alan L in the comments of annotated observations for "Marauders" #1 at House to Astonish linked earlier:

Mordechai Buxner said:
This plot does not hold together. They’re relying on a boat when dealing with time-sensitive situations where mutants seeking refuge are being kidnapped or slaughtered. They’re giving Kate authority while completely ignoring her issue with the Gateways. This is the recent leader of the X-Men, being told by her close friends to fend for herself and having to steal a boat to join them. They have people with the power of teleportation, and access to advanced alien technology. I think maybe they could have figured something out. Wolverine has agreed to live somewhere where he wouldn’t have access to alcohol, and they’ve got the ability to travel through Gateways to anywhere on Earth but he’s acting like he can’t just pop over to a pub any time he wants. We’re now acknowledging that people aren’t entirely sold on the idea of Krakoa, but without so much as hinting at answers to any of the many questions that raises. I can swallow a lot of contrivances as “part of the tone” with goofy stories like Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, or cerebral stories like House of X. But the tone of this one is mundane. For me it doesn’t work at all.
Alan L said:
I tend to agree agree with Chris V that making Kitty possessed by Malice would be adding incredible convolution to an already convoluted situation. We don’t know for sure that the X-men are not in control of their own thoughts––this might just be the way Hickman writes them. But there’s at least the implication that they are at least being led astray in some way, and Duggan seems to be setting up Kate as a voice of grumbling critique against the status quo on Krakoa. To then imply that the skeptic, who sees a rational viewpoint the others don’t have access to, is actually herself possessed is giving us no ground whatsoever on which to gauge the baseline reality operating in the story. In the same way, then, we are denied any way to measure the effects of this story, and we have no grounds on which to begin to measure its quality. Hickman sets up his writing to be criticism-proof in exactly that way––and it’s one of the things I really hate about how Hickman approaches story. If you build it bigger than anyone expects the story to be––more complicated than readers can keep track of––then most readers will overlook the failures in your writing, because the context of the story is too broad to be known yet. It means that the ultimate plan behind the narrative is always floating somewhere down the bend, ready to swoop in and sweep away every detractor’s objection. But while Hickman applies this strategy all the time, I don’t believe other writers like Duggan, though he seems like an improv guy through-and-through, would be willing to make his own lead character crazy like a fox at the same time that he has the people she doesn’t entirely trust acting crazy like some more crazy foxes.

However, I can easily buy that Duggan is a little at sea with the density of what Hickman has framed for him, and he’s improvising in the face of a premise he can’t retool, and which he can’t exactly get around. Making Kitty a foil against the gung-ho mutantdom of krakoa is a good idea, but then turning around and having Kitty serve the interests of Krakoa at the same time is more than a little hard to justify. To show her getting lip-smacking hardcore vengeance on the Russian soldiers is very tone-deaf of Duggan––clearly the point is to show that Kate is no longer a goody-two-shoes, but Duggan hasn’t established any reason for her to be stepping that far out of character. So with no obvious motivation for becoming this harder-edged, roughhousing rogue of high-seas street-justice, we feel like Duggan is writing Kate very “off–brand.” Hickman would imply that something happened that we hadn’t seen to make Kate this way; I think this has become a defense for him, a way to preserve the aura of being the master planner, crossing every “T” and dotting every “I.” Duggan seems to simply play the cards he’s been dealt––with more brio in some situations than in others. The action he designs for Kate is actually pretty cool––way more interesting than Hickman’s weirdly unmotivated action scenes (the “all of those apes have PhDs!” line is still jangling discordantly in my head from last week)––but it carries with it an unintended valence because the viciousness of the fighting doesn’t jibe with Kate’s relatively quite consistent previous persona. Duggan is actually a very good writer for the moments, but less so the hours, I think. The mood of the comic is actually very nice, giving us time with Kate and letting us feel her alienation from the Krakoan movement while establishing a languorous pace appropriate to a sea voyage. But Duggan hasn’t been able to integrate that mood––which crosses nicely perpendicular to the mood of Hickman’s Foundation triumphalism crossed with X-files conspiracy stuff––with the plot he has to deliver. Every detail of that plot doesn’t quite connect right to what Hickman has set up. It makes me wonder if Duggan knew all the rules Hickman was setting down in HoX/PoX before he scripted this book. For one thing, Duggan doesn’t seem all that clear on how transportation into and out of Krakoa works. There’s no reason Logan can’t make the shopping run he demands of Kate––from what we see in Hickman’s book, Logan doesn’t even live on Krakoa, anyway. But Duggan seems as if he missed the memo that the mutants were free-roaming.

I mostly know Duggan as the writer of the volume of Uncanny Avengers that follows Rick Remender’s departure from Marvel, and I tend to think of that as very solid superhero stuff. There was a lot of good character-building, some very nice battles and cliffhangers, and I was fairly impressed by the way he was able to resolve Remender’s awkwardly outstanding central plotline, too long unaddressed, about the Red Skull stealing Professor X’s brain. I liked Duggan’s ending to that story very well, even though it clearly wasn’t the sturm-und-drang finale Remender was probably intending. The most laudable aspects of that conclusion were very different with Duggan writing them than they would have been with Remender––who I think of as a much more swaggering, adventurous and comprehensive long-term planner than Duggan––but the story still did lots of character development, including admirable heroic roles for Rogue and Deadpool, and a surprising denouement, where Johnny Storm just burns Xavier’s brain into ash at Rogue’s request. The mood of that final moment was bittersweet and intimate, and not at all sentimental or slobbery. It showcased strengths in Duggan that I think could lead to some very well-written comics.

Marauders doesn’t make that mark, though. Still, there’s lots of things I like. I like how Kate seems to bear her injuries as badges of integrity throughout the story. I like the very fact that Duggan chooses to pitch his story towards the development of a group of characters, all of whom have a lot of history together, rather than trying to make an epic of high seas mythology with sci-fi trappings. I like the notion of an edgier Kitty Pryde, surrounded by characters that have been key emotional touchstones for her development (mentor Ororo, rival Emma Frost, ex-boyfriend Iceman and…er…Pyro…). For all its shortcomings, failing to capitalize on all the details in Hickman’s thorny dungeonmaster’s rulebook, it’s an issue that has all the things Hickman’s X-books have hitherto lacked; human-seeming, fully-motivated characters, involving capers, mood and feeling filling out the background. And I think you can trace many of the failings of the issue back to Hickman and the strained premise provided for the book. True, Duggan doesn’t exactly provide a good reason for Kate to be sailing everywhere, or to be acting as surly as she is acting in this issue; but I think Duggan will have to work exceptionally hard to make a comic where they smuggle tons of drugs on a tanker ship to hostile nations into a comic with any kind of fun to be had. I think he did a good job establishing what fun might be had, even if he did have to ignore some of the more realistic quibbles about how he handled the comic’s premise. But what is he supposed to do with this material?

By comparison, X-men #1 last week fell flat on its face, imitating the classic Claremont “quiet issue.” Hickman didn’t seem to realize those issues were usually supposed to be fun, and interesting. Instead we got barely-motivated, video-game style action, miserable attempts at humor in the suddenly quite especially airless vacuum of space (though I guess the Blue Area in Marvel is supposed to have it’s own oxygen; but everything that came out of the mouths of Hepzibah and Vulcan made me feel like I was asphyxiating), and the shyest, most hidden implication ever that Logan, Scott and Jean were like Jules, Jim and Catherine. In Claremont’s quiet issues we learned things about characters––we learned what inspired and motivated them, what demons they were running from or grappling with; we learned intimate details about the characters. In Hickman’s quiet issue we learned that Cyclops believes all the rhetoric he’s fed about Krakoa (unmotivated), that he likes it there (even though he doesn’t seem to want to live there; again, unmotivated in either case) and we learned the scintillating detail that the krakoans clean their silverwear with krakoa’s bodily secretions. What a delight. Especially clunky is all the action, and if you thought Kitty was rough on the Russian soldiers in Marauders, wow! just wait until you get a look at Storm in X-men #1. She is electrocuting human beings left and right. She is definitely killing those dudes. Not that the X-men never kill anyone, and Storm in particular has been on both sides of the fence on this issue at different times. But she used to knock people off-balance with winds and stuff, and now she’s just going straight for the jugular. Or the central nervous system. Or whatever. The scene reminded me most of the old Marvel Ultimate Alliance video games. Storm uses her lightning bolts, Cyclops fires his optic blasts; the villains burst into flames. Both heroes utter taglines that sound disembodied, slightly out of place (it’s a video game, after all––or no, wait! is this the issue? It’s the issue!). Then they advance to the next room, which is again bristling with faceless minions for them to wade through.

Then the apes have their panel––they never appear again. We don’t have a panel to see their transformation, as if the intelligent mind has no need of such transitional steps, and we never see what becomes of them after Magneto decides he’ll deal with all of these aggressive characters with no metal near them (it’s like they leave Magneto behind to fight 5 versions of Beast). Strangely, Hickman thinks this is all very original, or at least good enough to put in his book. Never mind that Hellboy has done the fighting gorilla to death already, and done it with far more ingenuity and true humor than Hickman could manage. I might have been sunk in despair after reading this for quite some time, but it just gets weirder, because then Hickman brings back Magneto with their weird story about asserting dominance over them. Magneto seems to think this story is awesome; Hickman inexplicably thinks it’s very funny. Then he gives us the least human-seeming family reunion ever, for the remainder of the issue. It’s interesting to note how little the extended Summers family actually interact with one another in fresh situations. The stuff with Vulcan goes absolutely nowhere. Havok and Rachel get tiny cameos. Jean seems like June Cleaver on the moon. Logan makes no explanation for why he’s there, and Corsair only delivers a sententious little speech about how this new status quo sure seems more dangerous than any previous X-men status quo. So when the X-men were fugitives from the law in the united states for the second half of the 1980s, that wasn’t as dangerous I guess. Or when they were facing extinction on a barren asteroid floating in San Francisco Bay. No, this new status quo is more dangerous, because Hickman––sorry, Corsair––said so. Then Hickman violates his own rules about the Krakoa gateways, giving Corsair one he can plant in the Starjammer so he can visit any time. Who is the mutant that will accompany Corsair, so that he can walk through the portal? Just when you go to all the trouble to think this stuff through, and then you stop for a little character development and bam! There goes rule #1 of Krakoa. I guess this is why Hickman doesn’t generally go in for character work. See how it gets in the way? The issue is all meant to be wrapped around the theme of Scott Summers seeing the world for, I guess, the first time, as a mutant, and then seeing it again as a Krakoan. There’s this emphasis on him seeing, looking at things through a particular lens. It’s certainly admirable to have themes that tie your story’s incidents together. As is typical of Hickman, however, he manages to carry it out without really generating any meaningful character development, and he leaves in his wake a further series of unanswered questions, little contradictions of his own rules that––now hold on a minute…what if…what if they’re really clues? My god, is…is Corsair a mutant? Is that why he can go through the Krakoa gate unaccompanied? Or is this just a gaffe? And with Hickman, how can we ever really tell? The new questions generated is a particular quirk of Hickman’s, when he feels he needs to populate an issue with some substance. Rather than going for something emotionally involving, he’ll instead go for a new mystery. For those of you telling us to let the initial event book set the tone and look to the monthly comics to develop the story, take note; Hickman is doing this all the time––adding more alleged mystery in lieu of satisfying character and plot development, attributing his own gaffes to some previously unheard of new mystery, and when confronted with the unsatisfactory nature of his grand story plans promising that all will be deepened, explained and fulfilled in a future issue. Not many people seem to remember that when people were complaining that Infinity was not in and of itself an engaging miniseries, Hickman declared it part one of a series of three miniseries, with Secret Wars as the centerpiece? Hard to criticize an event on its face when it’s all leading up to something else yet to come. But that’s where Hickman goes more often than not, and so in X-men #1 we get more intimations that “Krakoa is not as it seems,” without any clues whatsoever as to what might actually be going on, and then Hickman adds a whole host of new questions to your plate. What point in the past is this Vulcan from? What’s up with the love triangle? Why did Cyclops decide to live right next to where Jean died that one time? Why is Rachel moody? Why is Hepzibah hitting on her? And are any of these really questions Hickman wants you to ask, or are some of them just the result of the way Hickman writes characters as oddly stilted, like aliens that have recently landed on earth and are just starting to try to blend in. Add to all this a tone that lurches inorganically from moment to moment, and it leaves me suspecting that Hickman is the actual alien, mimicking what he perceives to be storytelling, but giving it weird emphases, stressing things that don’t lend us any help in understanding what this alien is trying to say.

That came out a little more crass than I meant at the end there, but I lay my loss of control at the feet of another big Hickman production; another issue that made me frustrated and angry and saw me talking back to the comic as I read it. I really think Hickman is the most painfully awkward writer of big-name comics out there, and when I read the good stuff in Duggan’s first issue it washed over me and seemed to restore some tiny modicum of my faith in the writers. Unlike a lot of readers here, I think, I have liked a lot of recent X-men writing. I liked the Mike Carey run, the Kyle & Yost runs on New X-men and X-force, the Fraction and Gillen eras, the Jason Aaron books, and the event stories through Second Coming. I even liked the start of Bendis’ run, though I wish he’d been able to develop it in a more focused way––though I haven’t read X-men since the miserable start of the Jeff Lemire run. On the other hand, I’ve read a lot of Hickman leading up to this, starting with Nightly News and Pax Romana, books that were recommended to me by early adopters of Hickman’s work, and carrying on through the rapidly decreasing returns of Secret Wars. I’ve never been able to warm up to any of it, but the continued avid engagement of so many fans with his work has left me feeling like I couldn’t quite turn away from his writing. Was I missing the boat? A lot of my writing about Hickman on these boards so far has been with the intention of wrapping my own head around my various objections to his work. And I think that when you line up the Hickman approach––the grand plan, the move to innovate even though you can’t write a good scene and you can’t do anything with individual characters––against the Duggan approach, I will always choose the Duggan approach. True, he goes with the flow and doesn’t handle the premise very gracefully, but so long as he inserts just the smallest helping of character, the smallest sense of continuity of their development, I’ll always respond to that far more strongly than Hickman’s cold new world.
 
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