Tag Archives: age of apocalypse

Review: Uncanny X-Force #25 – Final Execution Begins!

Uncanny X-Force #25
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Mike McKone, Dean White [Color Art]

The latest Uncanny X-Men story arc, “Final Execution,” kicks off with the team in a state of upheaval.

Psylocke, having processed the toll being on a mutant kill squad is taking on her psyche, is leaving the team after “satisfying her curiosity” with a one-night stand with Fantomex. Fantomex, on the other hand, is leaving because no more Warren [See last year’s epic “Dark Angel Saga”] means no more money–and he’s probably sulking over being spurned by Psylocke.

Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious figure at the Jean Grey School targeting Genesis, the reformed clone of Apocalypse, and Deadpool has gone down while on a mission–which is a big deal following Deadpool #54, where Wade [YOU SHOULD READ Deadpool #54 AND FIND OUT INSTEAD OF LETTING ME SPOIL IT].

Anyways, this all culminates in a sort-of return of a long-dead X-villain.

Overall, this is a great start to Rick Remender’s latest major X-Force story arc. With a title like “Final Execution,” there are a lot of inferences that can be made. The way things have developed with all the characters on the team, as well as the people around them, will surely only help to further speculation about what that title refers to.

Regardless, Rick Remender has crafted an excellent first part to this storyline with an art team that rivals the work on any other issues of the book, and the two back-up stories are a nice look at Remender’s earlier work with artist Jerome Opeña on stories starring Wolverine and Deadpool, respectively.

STORY: 9.5/10
ART: 9.5/10

Review: Deadpool #54 – Deadpool is Dead, Long Live Deadpool

Deadpool #54
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Ale Garza [Penciler], Sean Parsons [Inker], Dommo Sanchez Amara [Colorist]

Deadpool finally gets what he wanted, but does he still want it and is it too late to go back?

After setting off a massive goose chase for a serum that could allegedly negate mutant powers, Deadpool is finally “cured” of his healing factor–but not before some of the most dangerous people in the world find out that he was always aware that the serum only works on him. The serum, as it turns out, is made from DNA samples taken from a lock of Wade’s childhood hair. It even has some unexpected side-effects that are likely to have a huge impact on the character going forward–but I won’t spoil that here.

By altering the character in several ways, Daniel Way has shown his willingness to take a risk and step outside of the traditional Deadpool formula. Deadpool’s new status quo makes a ton of new stories possible, which will hopefully (I’ve got my fingers crossed) allow Daniel Way to stay on the book for another 50 issues.

Despite what certain people around here have to say about me never having anything bad to say about Deadpool, I stand by my belief that this book has been one of the most consistently fun, leave-your-brain-at-the-door reads on my pull list since I started picking it up four years ago. For anyone willing to put aside their “everything should be super serious and full of meaning” comic book elitism, now is as good a time as any to jump on.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

Uncanny X-Force #24 – Meltdown!

Uncanny X-Force #24
Writer:  Rick Remender
Art:  Phil Noto, Dean White [Colors]

During last year’s “Dark Angel Saga,” the Age of Apocalypse’s evil version of Iceman escaped into Earth-616 (i.e. the mainstream Marvel Universe).  This was the primary reason for that reality’s Nightcrawler joining X-Force.

In Uncanny X-Force #24, he finally gets his revenge on his former friend and teammate.

While Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Deadpool head to Madripoor to take care of AoA Iceman, Fantomex and Psylocke attend the Otherworld funeral of Psylocke’s brother, Jamie Braddock.  Here, we see Fantomex’s more human side during a brief conversation with Psylocke’s other brother, Brian (AKA Captain Britain), and learn that in order to save Fantomex during the Otherworld saga, Psylocke gave up her ability to feel sorrow or remorse.

Back in Madripoor, the fight comes down to Nightcrawler and Iceman–no powers or weapons, just two former friends fighting to the death.  Rick Remender really drives home the emotional impact of this battle via Nightcrawler’s thoughts and the banter between the two.  Additionally, Remender continues to bring some of the best Deadpool antics outside of Daniel Way’s Deadpool solo series and provides a huge leap in the Fantomex-Psylocke relationship, as well as building upon the father-son dynamic between Fantomex and Apocalypse child clone Genesis.

Phil Noto and Dean White’s art in this issue is vibrant and detailed, perhaps even my favorite art on this series thus far.  The transitions between panels are extremely fluid and easy to follow, keeping the action moving at a steady pace.

This one-and-done issue is a must-buy for fans of the series and new readers interested in the title alike.

STORY:  9.5/10
ART:  9.5/10 


Review: Deadpool #53 – Marked For Death

Deadpool #53
Writer:  Daniel Way
Art:  Ale Garza [Penciler], Sean Parsons [Inker], Dommo Sanchez Amara [Colorist]

After setting in motion a plan that involved his X-Force teammates, HYDRA Bob, Kingpin, Daken, and Tombstone before quickly spiraling out of control, Deadpool has finally been injected with a serum that can make him killable.

Having been seemingly betrayed by his best friend, HYDRA Bob, Deadpool teleports (with Bob) to an undisclosed location shortly before Tombstone can snipe him.  Bob reveals that, having seen the mayhem Deadpool was creating, he could take no more.  For some reason, he thought giving Wade mortality would make him step back from the ledge.  (Remember, Deadpool wants to die.)

Anyways, the Merc With a Mouth telports out of the conversation with Bob long enough to gloat to X-Force about how he won, and to apologize for Wolverine getting shot with the “mutant-negating” serum, as well.  Wolverine, however, is alive and well, and he and the rest of X-Force–now in on the lie–inform Wade that the serum only works on him.

Now with his X-Force teammates out to kill him, as well, Deadpool teleports back to Bob, who brings him around to the realization that he hasn’t considered how his death will impact others.  Bob, for one, will most likely be killed by Tombstone, since the deal he made to get the serum centered around Bob setting Deadpool up for the kill.

This scene in particular has anti-suicide undertones in it, and they’re done pretty well.  One thing Daniel Way does well when the opportunity arises is inserting subtle morals in these stories, which isn’t something you’d expect when you’re reading a comic about a hideously deformed paranoid schizophrenic mercenary with a Wolverine-like healing factor.

While the web of disaster that Deadpool has tangled himself in here can be hard to summarize in words, it has also been expertly spun by Way.  It’s a lot to digest and could have been extraordinarily confusing, but he’s laid it all out in a way that is extremely easy to follow.  Paired with what might be my favorite art on this entire series so far, and “Dead” continues to be the highlight of Way’s run with the character.

STORY:  9/10
ART:  9/10 


Review: Uncanny X-Force #23 – Someone gets their head skinned…

Uncanny X-Force #23
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini, with color art by Dean White and Greg Tocchini

X-Force’s Otherworld adventure concludes with a bit of a twist in this week’s Uncanny X-Force #23.

As you may recall, Captain Britain (Psylocke’s brother) and the Captain Britain Corps abducted Fantomex and Psylocke, taking them back to the mythical realm of Otherworld.  By my calculations, Otherworld is home to all British people in the Marvel Universe–or something.

Anyways, the Captain Britain Corps intended to put Fantomex on trial for killing the child reincarnation of Apocalypse (way back in Uncanny X-Force‘s first story arc).  Before the Corps could wipe Fantomex from existence, Psylocke–who is also Lady Britain when she’s in Otherworld–escaped with him.  Unbeknownst to either of them, Wolverine, Deadpool, and Nightcrawler (the one from the Age of Apocalypse timeline) had come to Otherworld to rescue them before getting pulled into stopping a siege on the Tower Omniverse.

The Tower Omniverse is a tower in Otherworld with doors to all realities in the Marvel multiverse, and a character known only as the “Goat Monk” wanted to spread his dark magic across all of existence.  Oh, and a former barrister and Weapon Plus experiment known as the Skinless Man, or Weapon III, showed up to exact a personal vendetta against Fantomex, who is also Weapon XIII.  He ended up skinning Fantomex’s head.

If it sounds like the plot of this story was a little bit cluttered, well, it kind of was.  There’s a lot to take in here, and a lot going on at one time.  This issue stays pretty much that way.  Wolverine and Deadpool attempt to kill the Goat Monk, Psylocke and Fantomex overcome the Skinless Man, and Captain Britain is forced to make a difficult decision following a big reveal on who exactly the Goat Monk is.

Despite having all of this happen in about 20 pages of story (I’m not counting ad pages in that page count), Rick Remender does still manage to throw in some good character moments.  We see the attraction between Fantomex and Psylocke teased a little bit more, Psylocke coming to grips with the fact that the right decision is not always the easiest one, and Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler’s rough exterior cracking to reveal some of the deceased mainstream Nightcrawler that longtime readers are familiar with.  Additionally, Remender continues to provide some of the best Deadpool banter not written by Daniel Way.

This hasn’t been a perfect storyline by any means, but it has its moments.  Maybe I just need to read the whole thing over again in one sitting, or maybe it carried on an issue too long, but it felt as though it jumped around a bit from time to time.  I will say that the sort  of undefined–perhaps even sometimes hazy–look that the art has works very well to convey the story’s setting, although it is somewhat inconsistently detailed.  Some panels look roughly sketched, while others show a great deal more detail.

The Otherworld adventure has been a nice breather following the “Dark Angel Saga,” but it feels like it falls a little short of the rest of the series.  With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to the next issue, featuring Age of Apocalypse Iceman, and the upcoming “Final Execution” storyline.

STORY: 7.5/10
ART: 7.5/10 


Review: Deadpool #52 – Still trying to die…

Deadpool #52
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Ale Garza [Penciler], Sean Parsons [Inker], Dommo Sanchez Amara [Colorist]

In his ongoing efforts to die permanently by flushing out the holder of a serum that can negate his healing factor, Deadpool staged a fake turf war between the Kingpin and Tombstone.  In the process, he’s brought Hydra Bob, his teammates on X-Force, and Wolverine’s estranged son Daken into play, as well.

Unbeknownst to Wade, however, Kingpin and Tombstone were never fooled, and the other pawns in his insane game of chess are catching on to the fact that something is amiss.

In Deadpool #52, we see Wade continuing to keep this game going as he instigates Daken and leads X-Force into a suicide raid on the Kingpin’s headquarters, where Wilson Fisk and Typhoid Mary have kidnapped Hydra Bob and are torturing him for information. The most impressive thing about the “Dead” story arc so far is that Daniel Way has managed to play these characters off of each other in a believable way, all while depicting them as accurately as any other writer has. That takes a bit of skill when dealing with this many characters in a single book.

This issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Will Deadpool get his wish? Was a certain other character depowered by the serum, as well? Is there really a commercial parachute capable of handling the Kingpin’s weight? [The answers are “I don’t know,” “That’s even harder to say,” and “Yeah, probably”–in that order. Thank me later, kids!]

If you’re a fan of this series, or even just a casual reader, this isn’t a story to sleep on. Be sure to pick up the previous two issues, too, if you haven’t already.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10



“A Comic Show” 3.07.2012 – Age of Apocalypse #1

This week has TONS of great starts! Hell Yeah, Fairest, Supurbia, and Hickman’s Manhattan Projects: Experience Creativity! Also, DC has my favorite combo of Animal Man and Swamp Thing as well as Action 7!
Age of Apocalypse #1 is basically the Boys in the AOA universe, and the Boys volume 10 is out too!
Come in and get CROSSED #0 FREE if you’re 18 or older!- acomicshoptv

A Comic Shop
114 South Semoran Blvd.
Winter Park, FL 32792
p. 407-332-9636

My friend Aaron Haaland owns one of the coolest comic book stores in the world – A Comic Shop! Aaron takes comic book related events to the next level. Check his store out on Facebook!

Review: Uncanny X-Force #22 – Who is Weapon III?

Uncanny X-Force #22
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini and Dean White [Color Art]

The pace picks back up in the third part of Rick Remender’s Otherworld odyssey as Psylocke continues her efforts to help Fantomex escape from her brothers in the Captain Britain Corps and Nightcrawler convinces Wolverine that X-Force should help the people of Otherworld fight back against the realm’s demonic invaders.

In case you’ve been out of the loop, Otherworld is a realm that serves as an in-between spot for all of the realities in the Marvel Multiverse.  Basically, that means it has all of the doorways to the mainstream Marvel Universe (i.e. Earth-616), the Ultimate Universe, the 2099 Universe, the Age of Apocalypse, the Negative Zone, etc.

Otherworld itself is something out of a Tolkien book, with dragons, castles, and sorcery.  It’s also home to the Captain Britain Corps, who see fit to punish individuals from any reality for whatever crimes they feel they should intervene in.

(Clearly, they miss a lot of them because a TON of villains are still alive, but stay with me here.)

X-Force ended up here in issue #20 after the Corps abducted Fantomex and Psylocke in the middle of the night.  They put Fantomex on trial for the assassination of the child clone of Apocalypse and sentenced him to being removed from existence.  Psylocke, however, rescued Fantomex, as the two have been involved in an increasingly complex game of cat and mouse.

Remender throws in a conversation between the two in this issue to add further confusion to where exactly Fantomex stands in the situation, and also to underscore how well Fantomex can manipulate others.  It’s an excellent character trait to draw attention to.  After all, this is a guy whose power set includes misdirection–the ability to distract others with a realistic illusion.

Unfortunately, Psylocke and Fantomex’s escape is cut short by the Skinless Man, who we find out is Weapon III and has a long history with Fantomex, a.k.a. Weapon XIII.  He’s given a sensible enough reason for being in Otherworld, and it ultimately makes even more sense that Remender continues to explore and add to the story of the Weapon Plus program given that three members of X-Force–Wolverine, Deadpool, and Fantomex–were all involved in it in some way or another.

As all of this plot is unfolding, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Deadpool are taking refuge in a village on the verge of being besieged by the hordes of a demonic goat.  Nightcrawler, who is seemingly coming around to his new teammates after leaving behind his own X-Men in the Age of Apocalypse, convinces Wolverine that they should fight to help the people of Otherworld before finding their friends.

This change in attitude for AoA Nightcrawler draws the first big parallel between him and his deceased Earth-616 counterpart since the differences between the two were highlighted two issues ago.  It really adds additional layers to a familiar character who isn’t really the character fans are ultimately familiar with, reminding them that while he is different due to the state of his home universe, Kurt Wagner is still Kurt Wagner at the end of the day.

Plus, it leads to a fun exchange about narcissistic personality disorder between Wolverine and Deadpool as they head off to kill the demonic goat monk thing attacking Otherworld.

Overall, another great issue in Remender’s run.  If you’re new to X-Force, I’d recommend starting a little further back in the series, but this storyline is fun and just different enough from earlier stories to keep things interesting without veering too far into left field.

And I promise I’ll never make another poor sports analogy as long as I’m writing reviews.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8.5/10 

Review: Deadpool #51 – A “Make-Believe” Gang War

Deadpool #51
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Ale Garza, Sean Parsons [Inker], Dommo Sanchez Amara [Colorist]

Deadpool’s elaborate game of chess–a game he doesn’t really know how to play–keeps getting weirder and more out of control as his quest for death continues.

You see, Wade found out that there was a serum capable of negating his healing factor and allowing him to die, so he enlisted the help of his X-Force teammates to help him find it.  To do so, he convinced them that the Kingpin had it.  Meanwhile, he had his friend HYDRA Bob tell the Kingpin about the serum, which of course led to the Kingpin sending his agent Typhoid Mary and the ninjas of the Hand to find it.  Unbeknownst to anyone else, Deadpool also told Wolverine’s son, Daken, about the serum, causing Daken to go out looking for it for his own reasons.

Meanwhile, nobody realizes that Tombstone, fresh out of prison, had the serum made so he could get revenge on Deadpool for putting him there in the first place.

Of course, with X-Force gunning for the Kingpin and Kingpin sending his henchmen to find the serum, the two factions are bound to collide, and the issue opens with a fight that includes a beautiful sequence of Wolverine and Typhoid Mary plummeting from the side of an apartment building.

Of course, having a brawl like this in the middle of New York City is undoubtedly going to attract some unwanted attention from other hero types (keep in mind here that X-Force is supposed to remain a secret), so Deadpool covers their tracks the following day by initiating a “make-believe gang war.”  What he doesn’t account for is that Kingpin and Tombstone would be in contact with one another, or that Daken would figure out that Tombstone had the formula, which is sure to set up the type of shameful disaster that Wade is all too familiar with being a part of.

Overall, this issue maintains the pace of the last one while adding even more layers to the story.  After 51 issues, I’m still amazed that Daniel Way has maintained the level of consistency that he has on this book.  Especially notable are the exchange between Deadpool and Wolverine following Deadpool’s provocation of the gang war, and the interplay between Kingpin and Tombstone once they begin to catch on to what’s happening.  The fact that you can tell Way enjoys what he does makes reading Deadpool that much more enjoyable.  The switch in artists from Carlo Barberi to Ale Garza is somewhat noticeable, but not distracting, as the art still possesses a similar flow and overall style.

If you haven’t checked out the first part of this story in #50, go ahead and pick up both issues.  This is shaping up to be one of the best arcs in the series.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 

De La Torre brings grit to Age of Apocalypse #1 5-page preview

Marvel Comics Tuesday morning released a five-page preview of Age of Apocalypse #1 written by Dave Lapham with art by Roberto De La Torre. The gritty artwork by De La Torre is amazing! Age of Apocalypse #1 will be in your local comic book store on March 7th, 2012.
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Your First Look At AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1

Marvel is proud to present your first look at Age of Apocalypse #1, from the creative team of Dave Lapham and Roberto De La Torre. Spinning out of the critically acclaimed Uncanny X-Force, the Amazing X-Men and the human resistance must fight tooth and nail to end the tyranny that has left their world ravaged! Continuing Apocalypse’s war on humanity, Weapon X leads the genocide that rains down upon this dimension, eliminating any who stand in his way.

“This new Age of Apocalypse book does the impossible – it revolutionizes an old concept without a reboot,” explains Senior Editor Nick Lowe. “If you’ve been reading Uncanny X-Force, you know where this is coming from and you’re already in. If you’re an Age of Apocalypse junkie, this builds on the alternate universe’s mythology is fascinating and troubling ways. And if you aren’t either and just want a ground-breaking, easy-entry book that will challenge everything you know about the X-Men, there hasn’t been a better jumping on point.”

Can anyone stop the evil Weapon X and who are the X-Terminated? Find out in Age of Apocalypse #1, with a cover by Humberto Ramos and Dean White that no fan can miss, hitting comic shops everywhere and the Marvel Comics app, this March!

Review: Uncanny X-Force #21 – Fantomex erased from existence!

Uncanny X-Force #21
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini and Dean White [color art]

X-Force’s adventure in Otherworld continues this month following Fantomex’s sentencing to erasure from existence in issue #20.

As the issue opens, Fantomex has needles lowering into his skull. Around the time they reach his third brain (yeah…he has a few), Psylocke bursts in to rescue him from her brothers.  After all, it was the Captain Britain Corps that abducted them both and put him on trial for the killing of the child reincarnation of Apocalypse.

Unlike the previous issue, this one doesn’t have the subtext of a greater moral debate.  It does, however, continue to establish the dynamic between Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler and the rest of X-Force.  This Nightcrawler is more sarcastic, and gloats about his accomplishments.  He’s wary of Wolverine.  After all, the Wolverine from his timeline became Apocalypse and slaughtered millions of people.

This creates some of the issue’s more interesting panels, but this chapter overall feels less essential to the larger story.  We basically get the aforementioned further establishment of AoA Nightcrawler, more exploration of Psylocke’s growing affection for Fantomex, and a little bit of exposition in the plot.  Don’t get me wrong — it’s still very well-written.  Fantomex becomes more and more compelling with every issue that Rick Remender does.  It just sort of screams “THIS IS THE LULL BEFORE THE CLIMAX!” to me.

Greg Tocchini’s art remains vibrant and befitting a story set in a magical plane of existence, so it’s understandable that it isn’t the most finely detailed art compared to that of Jerome Opeña.  Remember, in the last issue, there was a clear differentiation in the art between scenes set in the “real world” and scenes set in “Otherworld,” so it’s doubtful that this is the standard for Tocchini’s artistic output going forward.  It does work beautifully for this story, though.

Overall, this is still a pretty good issue — it just feels a little more compressed than part one.  It’ll be interesting to see what Remender does with his big reveal at the end of this issue, though. (SEE Uncanny X-Force #18 for teasers)

STORY: 7/10
ART: 9/10

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Review: “X-Men Legacy #261” When an Exodus comes a knockin’

X-Men Legacy #261
Writer: Christopher Gage
Artist: David Baldeon and Jordi Tarragona

Rogue, Gambit and Frenzy have arrived at the Jean Grey Institute and they barely have time to unpack their bags before something big and bad comes knockin’ upon their door. In this case, as the cover depicts, the big bad is ex-Acolyte leader Exodus. Last we saw Exodus was  in issue #225: Charles Xavier had persuaded Exodus to drop his scheme to reign supreme over the mutant race and instead band together and fight the good fight.  Here, he returns for an admirable cause–to reunite both Cyclops’ and Wolverine’s teams once again, as everyone agrees in ‘strength in numbers’ and that ideal has more than proven itself warranted during the time spent on Utopia.

So, Exodus puts forth an Ultimatum: come with him back to Utopia, freely or, if necessary, by force. Of course, no one likes to be told what to do, especially our southern bell Rogue. Admirable cause aside, it was a terrible presentation, so battle erupts! But here in the Jean Grey Institute, all children must evacuate to safety as the X-Men control the situation. I do enjoy Cyclops’ mentality that all mutants are active X-Men combatants, as the situation is ever so dire, but THIS is a breath of fresh air! And the teachers at the institute make one hell of an X-Men Team.

Christopher Gage crams this issue with content, which is always highly appreciated. The issue kicks off with Rachel picking Rogue’s brain on the current status of her relationship with Magneto, who is currently residing with (as Rogue perfectly states) his “heir to his legacy,” Cyclops (scary thought). Rogue and Magneto’s relationship, I believe, is bound to fail, between long distance and/or Magneto eventually ripping the world asunder once again. Personally,  I’m rooting for them (and Magneto’s prolonged good streak), as I’m a huge fan of their iterations during the Age of Apocalypse.

Penciler, David Baldeon’s cartoon expressive style accompanies the book’s brother title, Wolverine and the X-Men, perfectly. Both have the cartoon detail that adds a youthful tone that works well for the attempt to make these kids seem vulnerable, though we know most are well seasoned soldiers. As Gage’s script demanded, Baldeon formed his pages to read fluently and not seem crammed. Along with the cartoon style comes over the top effects and colors, which poops off the pages; it’s quite a bit of fun. Beast sports his new uniform, only shown in preview art for the upcoming arc in the Secret Avengers, and it looks great as his old uniform was awkward fitting… almost as if it was crafted by Emma Frost.

This issue was fun and has brought Exodus back into the forefront. I only hope he brings battle to Magneto and then inevitably joins the X-Men, ’cause everyone’s invited! Hell, I predict Mr. Sinister will be an X-Man this time next year. Jumping back, I may add that I’m extremely glad that Rachel Grey has been added to the cast, her history brings a lot of possible story devices and she’s part of the Summers/Grey clan–gotta love em’ all. Kudos to Mark Brooks on a fantastic cover. The next issue’s cover of a battered Rogue tops it!

Story: 7
Art: 8

Also recommended this week:

Justice League #5It gets real! -Reviewed Here!
Angel & Faith #6There’s a horrifying mosquito demon on the loose…and that’s just scratching the surface.
Secret Avengers #21.1The prelude to the formation of Hawkeye’s new secret espionage team!

Follow me on Twitter @ddsuperbatnix

Review: Uncanny X-Force #20, Fantomex stands trial

Uncanny X-Force #20
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini and Dean White [Colors]

The Captain Britain Corps have abducted Fantomex and Psylocke in the middle of the night, taking them to the dimension-outside-of-dimensions of Otherworld.

The Corps, who are led by Psylocke’s brothers, intend to convince Psylocke to rejoin them and to make Fantomex stand trial for killing the reincarnated child form of En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse.  Their assertion is that while he may have been brainwashed by the genocidal cult of Akkaba, En Sabah Nur could have still become a good being with the right nurturing.

Essentially, this aspect of the storyline is a nice allegory of the nature vs. nurture argument, as well as the morality of killing someone or something as a means of preventing what they could one day potentially do.  From that, you can draw whatever conclusions to the argument you wish, as I suppose Rick Remender’s intention with the moral question here is most likely to make you do just that.

Elsewhere in this issue, Remender sets up the dynamic between the team and the newly-arrived Age of Apocalypse incarnation of Nightcrawler.  Unlike his deceased Earth-616 (that’s the mainstream Marvel Universe, kids!) counterpart, he’s not happy-go-lucky, he hates the uniform, he’s seen to much to have any sort of faith, and he hates being called “elf.”

Oh, and he’s extremely rude.

As Wolverine and Deadpool acclimate themselves to AoA Kurt (which is likely a challenge for Wolverine, due to his history with the mainstream Nightcrawler), they’re informed by Ultimaton (Cavern-X’s security robot) that the cavern was compromised by the Captain Britain Corps.

As usual, Remender does a great job making interactions between characters feel like they really mean something. There’s a certain weight you can feel between Wolverine and Deadpool and the AoA Nightcrawler.  There’s a palpable tension in the panels with Psylocke and her brothers, and when Fantomex is standing trial.

Tocchini’s art furthers these interactions, and even varies between locations.  In the magic realm of Otherworld, which houses the gateways to all realities and planes of existence, the art feels more washed out and almost like watercolor, while the Earth scenes remain standard and finely detailed.

Throw all of this in with the moral issue mentioned above and it’s not hard to understand why this is the most consistently enjoyable X-book in Marvel’s line.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 

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Review: Uncanny X-Force #19.1, Enter the Age of Apocalypse (Again…)

Uncanny X-Force #19.1
Writer:  Rick Remender
Art:  Billy Tan and Jose Villarrubia [colors]

Spinning out of Rick Remender’s recent “Dark Angel Saga” in Uncanny X-Force is the new ongoing Age of Apocalypse series, and Uncanny X-Force #19.1 is essentially a prologue designed to draw in readers for that series.  Essentially, this is the second prologue written for the series, as the first appeared in the Marvel: Point One  one-shot.

Here’s the synopsis:  There’s an alternate reality in the Marvel Universe referred to as the “Age of Apocalypse.”  In this reality, Charles Xavier died, and his dream along with him.  As a result, Apocalypse ended up taking over the world (hence the name) and Magneto led a group of X-Men against him.  This very basic plot description all played out in a 1995-1996 crossover event in the X-Men books that were being published at the time.

I’ll admit right now that I’ve never read the original “Age of Apocalypse” stories.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to go back and do, but I haven’t done it yet.  All I know based on what I’ve read in Uncanny X-Force is that Apocalypse fell at some point and Wolverine took his place as the new Apocalypse, continuing to hunt down and exterminate humanity.

In Uncanny X-Men #19.1, it’s revealed that The Exterminated (a human resistance group led by William Stryker and the daughter of Bolivar Trask) have cloned the Scarlet Witch after discovering that she was able to “cure” the X-Gene in an alternate universe (i.e. Earth-616, the mainstream Marvel continuity).  Their plan is to have Jean Grey use this clone’s powers to have her do the same in their universe to wipe all mutants of their powers.

This plan kind of works, but of course it goes wrong big time or you wouldn’t have any reason to follow the series.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you already know how I feel about Remender’s writing.  This is as well-written as anything else he’s done.  In all honesty, the only thing keeping me from being a regular Age of Apocalypse reader is the amount of books already on my pull list.  Times are tough and comic prices ain’t what they used to be, you dig?  Even if Remender couldn’t write well, this book could almost sell on the merit of Billy Tan and Jose Villarrubia’s artwork alone.  It’s crisp, clean and reminds me of the more basic comic art of yesteryear — not unlike what you typically see in Uncanny X-Force.

If you want a story somewhat removed from the typical, mainstream X-Men fare, Age of Apocalypse is definitely for you.  The only thing about this that throws me off is that, if I remember correctly, Marvel’s “Point One” initiative was designed to give new readers the perfect “jumping-on point” to a series, yet this issue promotes an entirely new series.  Is it really necessary, given that they already did another prologue in the collected Point One one shot?

Story:  8/10
Art:  9/10 

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Review: Magneto Not a Hero “And the clone returns…”

Magneto: Not a Hero
Writer: Scottie Young
Artist: Clay Mann & David Curiel (present)
Gabriel Walta & Rachelle Rosenberg (past)

Once upon a time, in the mid 90’s, Magneto had a clone named Joseph. Joseph was “created” by Astra, one of the founding members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Joseph, fallen under amnesia from a battle with Magneto,  was shortly found by a nun, who cared for him. Inevitably,  Joseph found his way to the X-Men, as he truly believed to be Magneto. His time spent with the X-Men was a great run; fighting toe-to-toe against Onslaught to traveling light years away, going on “Stars Wars” esque adventures. And then he sacrificed himself, undoing a wrong beset by the real Magneto, during the Magneto War.

Now, Joseph has returned, along with Astra; whose been busy cloning Joseph his own Brotherhood… though she’s lost her touch cause these guys are physically beyond normal. From there, you’ve gotta pick up the book to read the goodies inside. But I will tell you, this was a fantastic book. This wasn’t just a giant brawl of magnets, there is great characterization fleshed out by both Erik and Joseph. Scottie Young has a knack for portraying Magneto, as a powerful, yet refined force. Also, double kudos must go out to Young, as I know him mainly for his art and have only read his short tales from X-Men mini series.

Clay Mann was a perfect choice for this series. I fell for his portrayal of Magneto during his run on X-Men Legacy alongside writer: Mike Carey. Clay’s action has a great flow, you can almost feel the metal fragments float on page; which brings to mind one of my favorite scenes; where Erik and Joseph have a conversations the way only two Magnetos could, while walking upwards on floating metal pieces, above the Alps! Gabriel Walta joins the art team with this issue, penciling and inking a flashback sequence. Honestly, I didn’t realize going in that another artist contributed in this issue , so I thought mid-way through the flashback, Clay Mann rushed these pages, so i confer that I wasn’t moved by Waltas portion.

This mini series has been great thus far. There’s been a lot of character set up within the first two issues and I hope the next two continue to move the plot along and bring to life more dramatic tension between Erik and Joseph (the bag of ideas is endless here)  before they rip each other apart. I do also hope that Rogue makes an appearance before all is said and destroyed, as she was once romantically entangled with Joseph, as romantically entangled you could be with a gal like Rogue back then.

I am really grateful for this series though, cause I’ve loved the idea of  Magneto joining the X-Men since the Age of Apocalypse and I savor every moment I’m getting with his semi-new status quo… cause we all know, Magneto is NOT a hero.

Story: 8.5
Art: 8.5

Also Recommended this week:

Uncanny X-Force #18 – Reviewed by Roger Riddell, Here.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer S.9. #4
Avengers X-Sanction #1

Follow me on Twitter @ddsuperbatnix


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Review: Uncanny X-Force #18, OR Apocalypse Wow!

Uncanny X-Force #18
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Jerome Opeña with Esad Ribic

After several months, Rick Remender’s epic “Dark Angel Saga” concludes in Uncanny X-Force #18.  Over the course of its eight chapters, the story saw the transformation of Archangel into the new Apocalypse and took readers on to the Age of Apocalypse timeline and back.

Most notably, it put Wolverine in the backseat for a change.  Admittedly, Logan did have some spotlight moments with the Age of Apocalypse incarnation of Jean Grey, but let’s face it, the “Dark Angel Saga” revolved primarily around the relationship between Psylocke and Archangel, as well as the love triangle that has been building since Fantomex’s attraction to Psylocke was thrown into the equation.

Several plot threads come to a head here.  Namely, there’s the aforementioned love triangle, Archangel’s affinity for planting “seeds” (*cough* Pestilence *cough*), and what exactly Fantomex has been doing with the reincarnated child form of En Sabah Nur, the original Apocalypse, who he’s kept in a test tube ever since the rest of X-Force believe they had assassinated him in the book’s original story arc.

There’s not a lot I can really say here without spoiling too much.  If you’ve loved Remender’s work on this book so far, you’re probably going to like this issue.  It resolves bits of plot that have been around since the first issue hit shelves last year, all while weaving in new threads and underlying themes of the “nature versus nurture” argument and the futility of war.

If you’ve read any of my other Uncanny X-Force reviews, you probably also already know that I’m a huge fan of Jerome Opeña’s art on this book and that, combined with Dean White’s color job, it really reminds me a bit of the art style from Watchmen.  It’s not overdone, and is highly detailed while remaining fairly simple.  Cover artist Esad Ribic also handles a few pages of the issue, which have a washed out feel compared to the rest of the  issue.  For what those pages are supposed to convey (once again, I’m not going to spoil anything for you guys), it works to great effect.

Overall, “Dark Angel Saga” has been a fun, dark ride.  I’m looking forward to seeing how X-Force is worked into the new X-Men status quo now that the book is joining the rest of Marvel’s X line-up in the “Regenesis” crossover.

Story: 9/10
Art: 9.5/10 

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Review: Uncanny X-Force #17

Uncanny X-Force #17
Writer:  Rick Remender
Art:  Jerome Opeña
Color Art:  Dean White with Jose Villarubia and Chris Sotomayor 

After taking a backseat to the action for the majority of the last issue, Wolverine finds himself front and center in Uncanny X-Force #17.  Not that he can help it, though.  Last issue, Deadpool was frozen and shattered by the Iceman from the Age of Apocalypse universe; Psylocke was still a prisoner of the new Apocalypse, Archangel, and eventually became his new Horse(wo)man of Death; and Fantomex had seemingly retreated and left the others on their own — and after being caught in the ass-end (literally) of the Age of Apocalypse Blob, who could blame him?

It turns out, however, Fantomex had a plan of his own.

As Wolverine is being frozen from the inside out while vainly hacking away at the alternate universe Bobby Drake, who is capable of becoming an ice giant while controlling smaller Iceman “avatars,” Fantomex returns with some other familiar faces from the Age of Apocalypse — that universe’s Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Sabertooth and Sunfire.  Turns out, Fantomex only left so he could find Gateway and bring in help.

The rest of the issue pretty much sets the stage for the climactic battle in Uncanny X-Force #18‘s conclusion of “The Dark Angel Saga,” due out in just under a month.  All you really need to know about the remainder of this issue (without revealing any major spoilers) is that there’s a fantastically done psychic battle in Psylocke’s mind and Wolverine is charred to a crisp for the second time in as many issues.

Rick Remender does a good job of keeping the story flowing despite the massive amount of action and number of characters he’s dealing with.  Despite this, the story does get a little bit confusing as the number of characters involved in any given part increases.  Once the conclusion hits stands next month, it will be interesting to go back and read the story all at once in its entirety to see if this confusion persists.

Jerome Opeña’s art remains stellar.  It is crisp and basic, reminiscent of books from the ’80s and ’90s.  The coloring job done by Dean White with Jose Villarubia and Chris Sotomayor really makes the pages pop, as well.

It’s been somewhat clear how this story is likely to end for a while now (especially since the post-Schism X-Teams were announced), but that hasn’t made watching the events unfold on the way there any less fun.  It’s also still possible that the eighth and final chapter of this saga could throw us a curveball.  While I’m not sure that some parts of “The Dark Angel Saga” could have been condensed into fewer issues, none of the parts have really felt like filler.  That’s something Remender should be proud of.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 9.5/10 

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Review: Uncanny X-Force #16

Uncanny X-Force #16
Writer:  Rick Remender
Artist:  Jerome Opeña 

Quick recap:  The Dark Angel Saga is in full swing.  Wolverine and Warren Worthington III (AKA Angel) have been operating a covert strike team called X-Force, also consisting of Psylocke, Deadpool and Fantomex.  Ever since the previous X-Force title, Angel has been fighting to suppress his murderous alter-ego, Archangel — a product of genetic tampering by the mutant Apocalypse, who made Worthington his Horseman of Death.

During the first Uncanny X-Force storyline, which wrapped earlier this year, the reincarnated Apocalypse was assassinated by X-Force, leaving Archangel an opening to overtake Worthington for good.  It was revealed last issue that the Horseman of Death always ascends to the roll of Apocalypse in the event of the current Apocalypse’s death.  X-Force, wanting to stop Worthington’s ascension, were tricked into retrieving a ‘life seed’ from the Age of Apocalypse — an alternate timeline where Charles Xavier was killed and Apocalypse took over the world — by Dark Beast.  They returned to find that Archangel had already ascended to become Apocalypse.

To make this short, Archangel and his followers stole the Life Seed from X-Force, left Wolverine incapacitated by overloading his healing factor, and kidnapped Psylocke — with whom Worthington is romantically involved — in order for Archangel to convert her into his new Horseman of Death.  Meanwhile, Archangel also had Genocide, the offspring of the former Apocalypse, destroy an entire town in Montana so he could use the Life Seed to create “Tabula Rasa” — a new world with entirely new organisms that he and his followers believe will worship them as gods.

WHEW!  That’s a lot to swallow.

Uncanny X-Force #16 continues Rick Remender’s amazing run on the series.  To put out 16 issues of a book in a year while maintaining an undeniable understanding of each of its characters and giving them all equal real estate is no small feat.  This is especially impressive for someone who has also been holding down a run on Venom for the past six months.

The amount of humor that Remender manages to work into a book with such dark themes is astounding, and he uses Deadpool to full effect to accomplish this.  This issue in particular features several laugh-out-loud moments involving ‘Pool’s psychotic rambling and Fantomex being caught in a rather…erm…compromising situation with Age of Apocalypse Blob.

Often maligned by fans as being overused in the Marvel Universe, Wolverine actually takes a backseat to the other characters in this book, with Remender preferring to let the other characters shine by bringing out the strong-but-silent leader in Logan.

As for the art, Jerome Opeña and Dean White’s panels strike a nice balance between traditional comic art and modern realism.  At times, there are almost similarities to the work of Dave Gibbons and John Higgins on Watchmen.  There are even similarities between the color palettes.

With an ample supply of action, suspense and dark humor, Uncanny X-Force is arguably the X-book to read right now.  Despite being on part six, The Dark Angel Saga hasn’t felt nearly as long as story lines half its size in other books.

Story:  9/10
Art:  9.5/10 

Review: X-Men Schism #5

  X-Men: Schism #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert

The end has finally arrived!

Jason Aaron you have successfully, hands down and without a doubt written a brawl between Scott and Logan that’s never been recorded in history. Was the merit of the fight a bit childish? Sure! But, did it make for a great story? Why, yes it did.

Going into Schism, I was not quite expecting the story that was delivered. Sure, I was a bit mislead by the mini series “Prelude to Schism”, where it was depicted as if all the X-Men were on Utopia awaiting some coming onslaught, of what is assumed to be sentinels, to reign doom upon their heads and that there was little hope for survival. Which also, I might add, Wolverine and Cyclops were at the height of their friendship by mini series end. But I don’t blame Mr. Aaron for that; I blame Marvel for taking advantage of the hype surrounding Schism as a whole. But, either way, the mini series did contain some great characterization and we got to hear the voice of Professor X, as he’s been oddly absent for months.

Well, lets go back to the fight! Ohh, the fight. With the way Schism number four ended, at the beginning of this brutal battle, I was sure that issue five would conclude with: Cyclops taking Wolverine’s right hand and Logan  cutting out Cyclops’ left eye; thus bringing upon “The Age of Apocalypse”!?! Though that didn’t quite happen, Jason Aaron did not disappoint. I mean, take a look at the so conveniently placed image to your right. And that’s the first panel of page one!

But let it be known that this issue was not just one big brawl, it actually had a lot of character work throughout the X-Men members. And you better bet that Sentinel that was inching it’s way to Utopia surely went down with a bang. Adam Kubert is great at framing action scenes, which built momentum. Though his art this issue seemed a bit rushed. Some panels I could’ve sworn were artist Ron Garney, which has a sketch style where Adam has defined lines. I had high expectations for each artist due to the fact that they only had to contribute one issue. So, I was hoping for the best. But ultimately, Adam Kubert’s art was good and most importantly he caught all the emotional tension on panel.

Now I’d like to nit-pick here, for the reasoning behind this fight hasn’t quite mad sense to me. I’ll be getting a little spoil-ery here, only making reference to what Marvel has already released online, and previous “Schism” issues. First, why does Wolverine want to blow up Utopia? Does he not remember that Emma, Magneto and company are incapacitated within the island? Or, that there is a whole Atlantean civilization beneath the shores suspending Utopia? Apparently he doesn’t much care for the livelihood of those Atlantean kids. Which brings me to how Wolverine finds himself on this moral high ground to open a school for youngsters after all is said and done? Is this not a cold blooded killer of men we are talking about? One who can’t go six issues, within any of his various comics, without falling into some rage or mind control. Sure, he’s had young side kicks in the past, but all he’s ever done is brought them in harms way. So, i guess my question being, why was it that Wolverine was chosen to provoke this “schism”? I feel if it had been Iceman, one of the original X-Men alongside Cyclops, had made the stand instead of Wolverine, then there would have been a large emotional weight and it would’ve just settled better in my stomach.

But nonetheless, Jason Aaron wove a fantastic tale, and even created a re-imagined and memorable incarnation of one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, the Hellfire Club. I’m excited to see how this group further antagonizes our mutants within upcoming title, “Wolverine and the X-Men”. Which will be written by Jason Aaron and I am ecstatic that he will be taking on an X-Men team going into “Re-genesis”.  The future is looking bright for our merry mutants, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Story: 9/10
Art:     8/10

Also, highly recommended this week:

X-23 #15 MARVEL
Animal Man #2 DC COMICS
Swamp Thing #2 DC COMICS – Reviewed by: Mike DeVivo. Check it out@ http://www.chicagocomicvault.com/2011/10/review-swamp-thing-2-animal-man-2/