Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 1

Uncanny X-Force proves every bit the powerhouse comic with a small cast of well-written characters, a stable of solid artists, and an awesome villain that comes from within.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Uncanny X-ForceWriter: Rick Remender

Artists: Leonardo Manco, Jerome Opeña, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Robbi Rodriguez

Issues: Uncanny X-Force (1-19), Excerpt from Wolverine: Road to Hell

 

I’d heard really great things about Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force (2010-2012). I’d also really enjoyed Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s previous incarnation of X-Force as an incredibly violent mutant black ops team. Even with my lofty expectations Uncanny X-Force proved every bit the powerhouse comic with a small cast of well-written characters, a stable of solid artists, and an awesome villain that comes from within.

The new X-Force team came together as the old one disbanded following its reveal to the rest of the X-Men during the “Second Coming” event. Unlike the previous iteration, this team is much less linked with ongoing mutant drama, making it much easier to pick up and read.

Wolverine returns as team leader, wanting to continue X-Force’s mission: take out bad guys before they become a problem for the X-Men. Their existence is a secret that’s not at all sanctioned by Cyclops. And like the old team, they have no compunction about killing their targets – but what if that target is a child, or one of their own? Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 1”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Fear Itself

What if other Thor-like hammers fell into the wrong hands? Fear Itself provides over-the-top action amidst some impressive tie-ins.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

marvel comicsWriters: Matt Fraction (Tie-ins: Kieron Gillen, Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Spencer, Christos Gage)

Artists: Stuart Immone (Tie-ins: Greg Land, Chris Bachalo, Cullen Bunn, Sean Chen, Tom Raney, Andrea DiVito)

Issues: Fear Itself #1-7.3, Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull, Journey Into Mystery #622-630, Avengers (2010) #13-17, New Avengers (2010) #14-16, Secret Avengers (2010) #13-15, Avengers Academy #15-20, New Mutants (2009) #29-32, Uncanny X-Men #540-543

 

Another year, another massive Marvel event. It’s around this time through my grand catch-up of the last decade of Marvel comics that I begin to feel the fatigue of large-scale back-to-back…to-back events.

I largely enjoyed the Bendis-led run that evolved from “House of M” into “Civil War,” through the “Secret Invasion” and subsequent “Dark Reign,” and culminating in “Siege.” In total that era encompasses a solid five years of comics.

But large events had become the new big business. We had barely a year go by before the literal hammer dropped, or in this case, multiple hammers in “Fear Itself.”

If the new post-Siege Heroic Age of 2010-11 was meant to be a throwback to the Silver Age of Good vs Evil comics, then “Fear Itself” was the appropriate event. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Fear Itself”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of Apocalypse

With its sheer volume of content and fantastic world-building Age of Apocalypse remains one of the best X-Men stories ever told.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

age of apocalypseWriters: Scott Lobdell, John Francis Moore, Fabian Nicieza, Jeph Loeb, Warren Ellis

Artists: Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, Ian Churchill, Steve Epting, Terry Dodson, Carlos Pacheco

Issues: X-Men: Alpha, Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen, Generation Next #1-4, Astonishing X-Men (Vol. 1) #1-4, X-Calibre #1-4, Gambit and the X-Ternals #1–4, Weapon X (Vol. 1) #1–4, Amazing X-Men #1–4, Factor X #1–4, X-Man #1-4, X-Universe #1-2, X-Men: Omega

 

Let me begin by apologizing for the recent dearth of my Comics Final Thoughts series. It’s one of the most popular things I do on this blog, but between moving to a new house and churning out news stories for E3, I’ve been incredibly busy.

But the other reason is because I was tackling a gigantic project – rereading the massive 1995 X-Men event, “Age of Apocalypse!” I was hoping to get it done in time for the X-Men: Apocalypse film, but hey – better late than never.

“Age of Apocalypse” was the insane X-Men event take-over that occurred in the mid 90s. It was also pretty much the only good Marvel comic to come out of the 90s.

“Age of Apocalypse” was incredibly extensive, with dozens of comics, limited series, and an awesome alternate universe playground. We got to see familiar heroes and villains in all-new roles, and a few new characters rose to the occasion to eventually escape the dark reality and enter the regular rotation. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of Apocalypse”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of X

Starts out as yet another dystopian mutant world, but quickly evolves into an excellent mystery thriller about the truth of this world.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

marvel comicWriters: Mike Carey

Artists: Clay Mann, Mirco Pierfederici, Steve Kurth

Issues: Age of X Alpha, X-Men Legacy #245-247, New Mutants (2009) #22-24, Age of X Universe #1-2

 

The mini X-Men event called “Age of X” has all the markings of yet another dystopian future-verse or alternate reality. This is a well-traveled road by our favorite mutants, whether in the massive 90s event “Age of Apocalypse” (which I’m currently re-rereading – final thoughts coming soon!) or “House of M.”

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s actually much more than that. “Age of X” focuses on a world that’s just not quite right as Magneto leads the last stronghold of mutant-kind against an overwhelming human coalition out to destroy them. I wish this weird world’s mystery had been a bit more expanded, but given the relatively quick pace the action and story lead to a satisfying and unique conclusion. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of X”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Curse of the Mutants

The X-Men are attacked by a united vampire army, and one of their own is permanently transformed. Guest-starring Blade!

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Men Curse of the MutantsWriter: Victor Gischler

Artist: Paco Medina

Issues: X-Men (2010) #1-6*

*Also included the following tie-ins: Death of Dracula One-Shot, X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Storm & Gambit One-Shot, X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Smoke & Blood One-Shot, X-Men Vs. Vampires #1-2, Namor: The First Mutant #1-4, Wolverine & Jubilee #1-4

 

The Heroic Age of 2010 gave us lots of clearly defined good vs evil storylines. What could be more evil than a conquering army of vampires? In “Curse of the Mutants,” yet another new X-Men series brought us a vampire story straight out of Underworld or Blade. By embracing its campy tone the story remains fun and action-packed, though the finale feels a bit too rushed and easy.

The problem with X-Men is that there’s always way too many X-Men comics. And most of them star the same damn popular team members. At the time this new 2010 X-Men volume began, we already had Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men Legacy, New Mutants, X-Factor, and shortly – Uncanny X-Force and Generation Hope.

Now granted some of those are great off-shoots with unique teams (I can’t say enough good things about X-Factor). But we definitely didn’t need yet another book starring Cyclops and gang dealing with problems at Utopia. And yet, having the son of Dracula rise up, unite the vampire clans and set his sights on mutants as kindred spirits in need of a good ol’ fashioned subjugating makes for a damn fun little event. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Curse of the Mutants”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection, Vol. 3

The aftermath of Second Coming leads to several new mutant additions, while the X-Men suffer from a mutant-targeting virus outbreak in Utopia.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Uncanny X-Men complete collection vol 3Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: Greg Land

Issues: Uncanny X-Men (1963) #520-522, 526-534

 

The third and final collected book of Matt Fraction’s three year run on Uncanny X-Men is awkwardly sandwiched before and after X-Men: Second Coming. Issues #520-522 even carry the “Nation X” subheading, referring to a series of events that happens to the X-Men while living in Utopia. The rest take place after Second Coming, with the first story arc dealing with the direct aftermath of Hope Summers and the rise of several new mutants.

Why Marvel broke it up like that I have no idea. The Volume itself isn’t bad but it lacks strong cohesion. At this point in the X-Men’s career they appear to be spinning their wheels in between the giant events. Messiah Complex and Second Coming were both incredibly awesome. But the in-between stories barely get a chance to gestate and mostly come off half-baked. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection, Vol. 3”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Second Coming

Cable and Hope return to the present in this explosive, awesome climax to the past 2+ years of X-Men titles and stories.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Men Second ComingWriters: Mike Carey, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells

Artists: David Finch, Terry Dodson, Ibraim Robertson, Greg land, Mike Choi

Issues: Second Coming: Prepare, X-Men: Second Coming #1-2, Uncanny X-Men #523-525, New Mutants #12-14, X-Men: Legacy #235-237, X-Force #26-28*

*Also read the Second Coming Revelations trade, which includes X-Factor #204-206, X-Men Second Coming Revelations: Blind Science, X-Men: Hellbound #1-3

 

“You’ll feel it, Hope. Like nothing you’ve ever felt before. It’l be like a switched turned on inside you. Like a fire. And once that fire’s lit…everything will change.”

Remember how much I gushed about how awesome the mega crossover X-Men event Messiah Complex was? Well the two-years in the making sequel, Second Coming, makes that look like crap. Which is to say it’s bloody amazing.

X-Men: Second Coming finally brings Hope, the young mutant messiah, back into our timeline. At the end of Messiah Complex Cable took the first mutant baby born since M-Day forward into the future to escape danger (even though just about every future scenario is super dangerous). Bishop, on a quest to prevent his own apocalyptic future, hunts them down through time. What followed was a pretty nice two year arc of Cable as a tough-love dad with Hope growing up knowing only war, danger, and survival.

Meanwhile with Xavier’s school destroyed, the X-Men relocated to San Francisco. Then when shit hit the fan, Cyclops moved everyone to the island of Utopia – arisen from Magneto’s old Asteroid M that had crashed into the ocean (Namor is a useful ally to have around).

Cyclops, who’s grown into a real wartime general that makes even Magneto bend the knee, also restarts X-Force as a mutant black ops group, tasked with trying to kill the bad guys before they can do more harm. It was a very bloody, very violent series with some spiffy art.

And at some point Marvel started up a mostly unnecessary but surprisingly decent New Mutants series. All of this means that X-Men: Second Coming, like all X-Men stuff is densely mired in continuity and current events. This makes it both off-putting for anyone trying to jump in, but rewarding for fans following the X-Men’s dire saga in the last few years. I’m in the latter camp, so I absolutely loved it. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Second Coming”