Comics 411 05.28.14: Biggest X-Men Moments Edition
Posted by Steve Gustafson on 05.28.2014
Is the formation of the Gold and Blue teams the most important moment in X-Men history? Plus reviews for Forever Evil #7, Bat-Ape battles Bat-Mummy in Cover vs. Cover and more!
Welcome back to the Comics 411! My name is Steve Gustafson and this is a corner of 411mania reserved for those interested in talking comics! As always, I want to thank everyone who took a few minutes to read and comment last week. Check out my Hollywood gossip (and anything else!) Hollywood 5 & 1 and my weekend movie recap The Big Screen Bulletin!
Click and read my interview with Playboy'sMiss May, Dani Mathers!
PLEASE NOTE: Due to some personal issues, this column is shortened to the Cover v Cover, the Poll question, and the reviews! Don't worry, we'll be back to our usual self next week!
COVER VS COVER!
It's real simple, each week I'll take two covers and you vote on your favorite. Some weeks the covers will be random, some will be themed, some will be classic, and some will be ones you've never seem. Have fun with it.
Last week we two striking covers that featured ALF and...Rick James! The results came down to this:
Rick James 66.47%
Rick's super freak ways easily handled Mr. Gordon Shumway. What can you say? Maybe Marvel should revisit that idea and set Kanye West up to become the Hulk. This week we bring Batman back to the fun. Looking through his various comic book covers over the years, you get to see he's had some pretty crazy covers. Especially during the Silver Age. This week I picked two at random: Bat-Ape and Bat-Mummy! Which is more of a head scratcher to you?
Last week we talked about who was the best villain for The Avengers. Let's see the results!
Baron Zemo & The Masters of Evil 7.19%
Thanos stands supreme with Ultron giving him a good run for the money! Here's what you all said:
CyberVenom: "Anyhoo, awesome category! Avengers have underrated villains. Its good to see some love! Here's my 10:
10. The Space Phantom
9. The Dark Avengers
7. The Kree/Skrulls
6. Namor/Dr. Doom
1. The Masters of Evil"
mcdropkick: "Ultron. Loki is a notable Avengers villain, especially for being the villain to band them together in the first place. But Ultron was created by an Avenger itself, making the Avengers and Hank Pym partially responsible for everything Ultron does."
Thank you! The comments on the poll were light, which isn't surprising given the comment storm the week before.
Recently we did a poll where we voted on the Best X-Men team. Originally I wanted to do a Biggest Moments poll and figured we could it now, even with some of the selections are similar. Remember, this is BIGGEST MOMENTS!
Back where it all started! Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters was founded in Westchester, NY, turning the Xavier family home into the X-Mansion. During these early days, Charles gets help from Fred Duncan of the FBI who acts as a liaison between the X-Men and the government. Xavier's first class of students included Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel (later called Archangel). Jean Grey joins soon afterward, using the name Marvel Girl, just in time for the team's first official mission against Magneto.
THE ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT X-MEN
While investigating the island of Krakoa, the X-Men team is taken prisoner, with only Cyclops escaping. Xavier soon recruits a new team, one composed of adults from around the world. Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee and others work under Cyclops' leadership, rescuing the old group from Krakoa. Seeing that Xavier has new help and deciding they want to try leading their own lives, most of the old X-Men leave.
DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
We've talked about this quite a bit. It IS a massive moment for the mutants, so much so that they based a movie on it.
THE X-MEN ARE DEAD
Moved by the heroes' sacrifice, the cosmic being Roma restores the X-Men to life. Deciding it's advantageous to let the world continue thinking that they're dead, the X-Men don't bother telling any friends or family that they're alive, not even their absent colleagues Magneto, Nightcrawler and Shadowcat, the two latter of whom go off to form the team Excalibur. The X-Men move to Australia and, thanks to a spell cast by Roma, they now cannot be detected or recorded by any kind of surveillance except for direct eyesight and human hearing.
GOLD & BLUE
After getting out of Genosha alive, Storm is an adult again and joined by enough old friends (and new buddy Gambit) that they form a new team of X-Men. Then they go off to space and get Xavier back just in time to fight the Shadow King, reuniting with several other old teammates and X-Factor. At the end of the adventure, they're victorious but Xavier's legs are rendered immobile once again. After the dust has settled, Xavier and the heroes rebuild the X-Mansion. The X-Factor members rejoin the X-Men, giving us enough mutants to make two strike teams: the X-Men gold team led by Storm and the X-Men blue team led by Cyclops.
AGE OF APOCALYPSE
The Age of Apocalypse briefly replaced the universe of Earth-616 and had ramifications in the main Marvel Comicsuniverse when the correct timeline was restored. It was later retconned as having occurred in the alternate universe of Earth-295. Legion (David Haller), a psionic mutant on Earth and son of Professor Charles Xavier, travels back in time with the intention of killing Magneto. However, Legion traveled to a time when Magneto and Xavier were still friends. As Xavier dies trying to protect Magneto, Legion vanishes, and a new time-line is created. The only person aware of how history has changed is Bishop, a time traveling mutant who followed Legion. Because of Xavier's sacrifice, Magneto comes to believe in his late friend's dream of a peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants. Apocalypse, an immortal mutant villain, was monitoring the fight. He chooses this moment as the perfect time to begin his world conquest, which did not happen in the mainstream Marvel universe for another ten years.
Following the attack on New York and seeing the new wave of mistrust that has risen, Cyclops has the X-Men once again displaying themselves as superheroes, hoping he can show that they are heroes meant to inspire hope rather than yet something else to fear and hate. He changes the focus of their missions to general threats to humanity rather than prioritizing on fighting mutant terrorists. He also opens up dialogues and relations with various governments and legal agencies. And in the midst of it all, Colossus is resurrected.
Magneto's daughter the Scarlet Witch had always been able to influence reality in small ways, causing hexes to cause misfortune for her enemies. But a break from reality had caused her to tap into this power like never before, causing the Avengers to disband and several of its members to be killed (they're all better now). The X-Men later met with the newly-reformed Avengers to discuss what to do about the lady when she went nuts again and reformed the Earth to her whim, putting mutants in charge. When the heroes remember how the world is supposed to be and fight against her, she set things right but also eliminates the X-gene from millions of mutants around the world. On M-Day, the Scarlet Witch's power brings the active mutant population to just under 200.
DEATH OF PROFESSOR X
After the events of Schism, the X-Men once again split in two, with a team led by Wolverine establishing a new school in Westchester and a team led by Cyclops taking on a more militaristic mission, operating out of the island of Utopia. Then, as it goes with the X-Men, the Phoenix happened. When the Phoenix returned, it set off a war between the X-Men and the Avengers, with Wolverine and Cyclops in the center of it all. Things went from bad to worse quickly, when the Phoenix split between five members of Scott's team, slowly consolidating itself until it was all in Cyclops - and like the Phoenix is wont to do, went dark. The end result? Cyclops killed Charles Xavier when the mentor and founder of the X-Men stood against him. Despite his noble intentions, Scott Summers literally killed the dream he fought so long to bring to pass. However, all wasn't lost - Hope took the Phoenix and used it to restore the mutant gene, restarting the race that had been reduced down to under 200 a few years before.
Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
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Forever Evil #7
Late, Late, Late. So late. With the delays many of the surprises have already been revealed the release of Forever Evil #7 seems almost anticlimactic. Did Johns and Co. deliver as promised?
As I previously mentioned, the cats are out of the bag. We know Dick Grayson's Nitewing is not dead and we know Lex Luthor joins the Justice League so 2 of the series' biggest surprises are off the table. Johns wisely focuses on Luthor, revealing a heroic streak that we never thought he had. Johns certainly paints him as a less overtly dark and ruthless character than he's traditionally portrayed. It will be interesting to see if he is truly reformed or just using this opportunity to advance his own sinister interests.
The rest of Luthor's team take a backseat in this issue but in the end it's mostly business as usual for the villains involved. Black Adam, Sinestro, Black Manta and Catwoman appear to return to their former lives with Manta the only one possibly showing an attitude adjustment. I wonder if staring into the face of true evil will alter any of their outlooks.
In the end Forever Evil collapses into the usual event formula that final pages are devoted to setting up future stories. But what stories they are: The mysterious vanishing of Element Woman and Vibe; Dick agreeing to Bruce's suggestion of laying low and going on a new secret mission; Luthor's realization of Batman's identity; and the reveal of the Anti-Monitor. Do I see a crisis brewing?
The art through this book is just as you'd expect. Artist David Finch, inker Richard Friend, and colorist Sonia Oback do a fine job at keeping each panel easy to read, clear, and great to look at. Friend's inks are light and not over-powering, and he gets some great depth and texture in things like capes and faces. Finch normally puts out some great work and this is more of the same.
Even within the delays Forever Evil 7 delivers an action-packed issue. It's a really fun book that will get readers excited about the future of the DCU. While the book doesn't quite deliver on all of its promises, FE stands as one of the more successful and enjoyable events in some time.
After a long delayed seventh and final issue hit the stores this Wednesday, DC's 'Forever Evil' event series has come to a close. And a huge close it was. For me, it's up there with the best event series I've read.
At the beginning of this issue, we're right in the middle of the big fight that closed out issue six. Alexander Luthor of Earth 3, a doppleganger of Shazam from Earth 1 has been freed from his binds and gone on an instant rampage, killing off Johnny Quick (an evil Earth 3 version of the Flash) and taking his powers. Batman has beaten the crap out of Lex Luthor, who he believes killed Dick Grayson. Dick was hooked up to the murder machine a bomb that cold only be stopped by stopping his heart. Luthor stopped his heart without killing him, but Batman flipped out and began pounding him because he thought Dick was dead. While this is going on, Superwoman's (evil Wonder Woman) reveals her true allegiance to not the Crime Syndicate, but to Alexander Luthor. She also reveals that the child she is carrying is not Ultraman's or Owlman's but is actually Luthor's. She then uses her lasso of submission to subdue Deathstorm (Earth 3's evil Firestorm), allowing Luthor to kill him and take his powers. With everything going to hell in a handbasket, Lex Luthor comes up with a plan. He and the other villains in the makeshift alliance (Sinestro, Black Adam, and Captain Cold) go after Alexander Luthor and Superowman while Batman and Cyborg, back from taking out his Earth 3 stand-in, Grid, go to set free all the trapped Justice League members. The resolutions to both these dilemmas are some of the best stuff you'll see in print.
The real winner of the series, character wise, was Lex Luthor. The story was narrated from his point of view, and over seven issues we got the full range of his character. We saw the evil, the confidence and the condescending superiority complex that we've come to expect from him over the years. But we got a lot more. When Bizarro, his underdeveloped creation, needed guidance and a confidence boost, instead of dismissing him Luthor put his proverbial arm around him and led him on. When Dick Grayson was connected to the Murder Machine, and the only way to stop it was to stop his heart, Luthor didn't just kill him like you thought he would; he came up with a way to stop the machine and keep Grayson alive. And at the end of the story he did a complete 180 in how he treated Ted Kord versus how he dealt with Kord's father at the beginning of the first issue. (At the beginning of issue 1, he basically told Ted's father that he was taking his company. At the end of issue 7 he told Ted, now in charge of Kord industries after his father's passing, that he was no longer pursuing the company and that he wanted Ted to run it and become a good competitor to Lexcorp). The dialogue between he and Batman throughout the series was a classic 'you and I aren't that different' conversation, executed perfectly. Lex and Bruce really are a lot alike. They don't fully trust the superhumans that are operating on Earth, they see themselves as necessary saviors because they can see things that others can't and are willing to do what it takes to make things right in the world. They aren't afraid to make personal sacrifices to do so, either.
And we got some serious hard choices. When the villains in the makeshift alliance to take down the Syndicate made it clear that they weren't going to take anyone alive, Batman objected but ultimately chose to stay with the group. This was a subtle but important compromise to his legendary no killing moral code. By the end of the series Black Manta, Sinestro, and Luthor had killed members of the Syndicate, and got no chastising from Bruce over their actions. In limiting his protests, and in the various tidbits of information he revealed to Luthor along the way, Batman made himself vulnerable in ways he probably will regret later. He also was faced with revealing what may be a friendship killer when he admitted to having a close enough attachment to Wonder Woman to use her lasso to pull all of the trapped Justice Leaguers back to freedom. Have he and Wonder Woman been engaging in their own clandestine relationship unbeknownst to Superman, Wonder Woman's boyfriend? Did they have a previous relationship? What gives? And in rebuffing Catwoman's advances, Bruce chose to avert an attachment ('People close to me get hurt' he said in issue 3) but may have created another monster in the form of a spurned love interest. Catwoman's rejection of full on criminality may have been as much about trying to please Batman as any altruism on her part. We'll see.
And the best thing about the way the series ended is that it did indeed change things in the DC Universe. Lex Luthor is now a bona fide hero who saved the world, and is looking to continue as the savior he's always seen himself as. The Justice League America team, set up by ARGUS as a counterweight to the original Justice League, is now in the wind and in the process of shedding members and picking up new ones. The original League is going through the same process as Luthor looks to become a part of it over Superman's objections. Dick Grayson can no longer be Nightwing since he was unmasked in front of the entire world. There are the surviving Crime Syndicate members; a weakened Ultraman, the imprisoned Superwoman, and the escaped Owlman. The ring that was being worn by Earth 3's Hal Jordan before he was killed by Sinestro is off in search of a new host. And finally, there was the reveal of the Anti-Monitor, who has plundered the universe of Earth 3 and is looking for a confrontation with Darkseid. The series tie-ins were all relevant to the main story as well. Captain Cold's crew, the Rogues, are now looking at a more complicated life than the one they were living before the Syndicate arrived. Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller, of ARGUS, are now looking at life under far more scrutiny than they'd faced before. So yeah, there's a lot to look forward to in the future.
The long wait for the final resolution was worth the payoff. Excellent work, guys.