All-New X-Men #26

OOoooh Young Jean Grey showcasing her brand new psionic powers on the front cover.

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That doesn’t happen in the story. Jean Grey is having nightmares of levelling the X-Men with devastating ferocity. She wakes up screaming and is comforted by Scott. Not the young Scott: he’s in space now. But Cyclops: “Old Cyclops” or “Present Day Cyclops” or “the Cyclops that’s supposed to be here.” The two have been thoroughly ignoring each other. Because it’s weird. It’s really weird. The way he looks at her is almost paternal, but they still talk like old friends when he confesses that he’s jealous of all the time that Young Cyclops is spending with his space pirate dad. But Jeannie ramps up the icky with the line, “You’re so much older. I think that’s why I like you more than younger Scott. It’s like instead of hoping you’d grow up to become this man. You’re here. The man I hoped you’d be.” Cyclops puts the kibosh on that, he tells her they can NEVER. And then he tells her she’ll be training with Emma Frost to help stay in control of her new powers. Emma Frost is also his ex, she has a mountain of a grudge against Jean Grey… and yeah, this is going to get weird. “Well.. why should this be different than everything else?” 

Kitty stops by and eavesdrops, she notes that he handled it well but reminds him that being alone in her room is not appropriate. She earns a “Yes, ma’am.” While an apprehensive and lonely Jeannie still can’t sleep.

Angel, out for a morning fly sees Laura leaving school. He tries to stop her, she yells at a bear. No one knew she had feelings for Scott, but she doesn’t open up for just anyone. And Angel, physically incapable of knocking her out and dragging her back heads back for reinforcements. X-23 finds herself being followed… by young Scott. Who stabs her. Holy WTF it’s Mystique (who has been terrorizing Amazing X-Men, posing as Dazzler while draining her of her mutant growth hormone). 

Angel, back at the school riles up KP, who is all “No way, we can’t lose Laura,” while Bobby says “Who’s Laura?” and Angel says “Literally the only girl we know who’s not Jean Grey.” 

They find Laura, worse for the wear and she stammers out that it was a shapeshifter, not only that, the shapeshifter has been interloping for sometime now. And she knows Laura’s personal shit. That’s not going to go over well. But while they are distracted, Molly, Deadpool, Xorna, future Beast are marching in. The Future Brotherhood is back!?

Bendis and his dialogue always floors me, it’s perfect. His writing really helps you get in the mindset of the characters. Little things, like Cyclops saying he worries about Hank not being able to undo his mistake (and now with the Brotherhood back, I wonder if he’s to blame), Iceman being so young/clueless/self absorbed that he’s been calling Laura “Wolverine Clone.” Kitty is being written as a full grown woman with good decision making skills again, which is nice. That lapsed for a bit. Stuart Immonen is just wonderful, pensive facial expressions abound. The first page where Jean Grey envisions herself as the Phoenix is majestic.Backgrounds disappear as KP flies into a rage.

Hey: I just realized that Mystique stole X-23’s backpack! What’s up with that. 

X-Men #11

I was so pumped for this issue. #10 left us with a masterfully executed cliffhanger: Mach 1 Sentinels rising from the ocean with Jubilee, Bling!, Quentin, Mercury, etc., waiting to take them on. Ana Cortes is finding herself in over her head with the Arkea situation. Arkea is ready to unleash some Omega Level dames.

Issue #11/Ghosts part 2 picks up with Ana and Amora having an a debate between and within themselves about what they are about to do.  They do it, of course. They’re bad girls and they’re outclassed, there’s no turning back. Held in Stasis, her soul distributed into the very air of a contain cell -reassembled by Amora: Lady Selene/The Black Queen/the oldest mutant.

And after that it starts to get hairy. Wait, is it hairy? Or is it just Anka’s weird art style?

No seriously. Is that a hairy armpit or is it just sketch lines?

No seriously. Is that a hairy armpit or is it just sketch lines?

I mean, if Selene Gallio (not Gallo, not Galio -as it has been spelled in the past 2 issues) who debatably came to life before the middle ages and before disposable razors doesn’t change her beauty routine to fit patriarchal fashion standards that’s fine by me.

But that’s not the only time that they art was a distraction.

When we leave the bad girls to see the good girls they are on the Cortes Yacht. Some were there last issue. Some were new arrivals. So I saw this:

Look at the top left + bottom right.

Look at the top left + bottom right.

Since we can barely see any of their attire and have no distinguishing facial features for some reason I could only gather that Monet was talking to herself somehow. Next page I figured out it was Karima. No one addressed her by name and in the last issue she was on the plane.

Anyway, on the yacht the girls put together that Yuriko was dead, Arkea was dead maybe they’re recruiting more dead mutants. Monet figures this out employed logic that is a complete stretch yet somehow EXACTLY what’s happening. They contact Sabra who confirms that there have been buyers for the genetic material of both Maddie Pryor and Selene (and apparently no one else, for some reason) (and also WHY would this be for sale? How is it not in their vault?).

At the Jean Grey School: Quentin Quire is babysitting John Sublime. QQ is everyone’s high school’s too-cool, punk rock nerd and he’s fanpoodling at John Sublime for being such a big bad. Sublime sees Shogo go by with Storm’s daughter from the future who never went back after BotA and somehow everyone was okay with that. Sublime says ominously, “Check your books Quire for a nasty example of a serial killer called ‘The Future’ something just reminded me of him.”

In Japan, Typhoid Mary and Lady Deathstrike are playing with swords. Ana’s in control and the cracks in her sanity get deeper. She asks Mary to kill her, she’s in over her head. She wanted power. She wanted to be popular. Maybe she wanted to meet Cyclops (I don’t know). But Arkea, her plan, it’s too much. Mary refuses. Ana goes at Mary, says she’ll force her if she has to.

Arkea enters, says “spare us your dramatics” and tells her that Maddie’s consciousness is primed. The plan is to add the consciousness of Jean Grey’s genetic clone into the same host as Yuriko? Ana’s already got too many voices in her head. So she ups the dramatics and impales herself on her samurai sword. To be continued..

SOMEHOW there’s a MEANWHILE

(it’s really a BEFORE)

Clay Mann did the art here and it was the best looking. We’re back to Catalina Island. Pixie and Bling! are taking out a Sentinel. Bling! gets dragged into the ocean, Mercury summons Pixie back to the plane and goes to save Roxy. Hellion and Jubilee are working on another. Quentin Quire is in the plane (see how it’s a “before”, not a “meanwhile”?) Karima is also in the plane and now in the last pages we find out that Pixie transported her to the yacht (but we didn’t see Pixie on the yacht). Jubilee turned into mist to escape the fist of a Sentinel and didn’t rematerialize… dun dun dun

Clay Mann’s art is fantastic, by the way. Shout out to Seth Mann and Paul Mounts, too. The layers are perfect. The water looks like actual water. Lights and lasers stand out above really REALLY ON POINT fight scenes.

Look at Pixie's laser, look at Bling!'s sparkle, look at all that STUFF in the background.

Look at Pixie’s laser, look at Bling!’s sparkle, look at all that STUFF in the background. All their pages are like that.

WHAT was happening with the timing in this issue? So QQ goes back to the Jean Grey School and doesn’t say anything about Jubes? Maybe… Maybe he wouldn’t say anything, but no one there seemed concerned. Wood really wanted to dual cliffhangers to work. And they would have. If Karima wasn’t on the yacht and Quire wasn’t the one with Sublime. Maybe it still “works” …technically. So much cool stuff happened this issue I just wish it wasn’t foolishly bogged down with spelling errors (yeah, I nitpick, and what?), trying to decipher who is talking and why/how they got there, and whether something is ‘meanwhile’ or “before”. I shouldn’t have to do that.

But, eff yeah; Black Queen! So, that forgives a lot.

All-New X-Men #23

In which everyone’s favorite Omega-Level Ginger has an intergalactic existential crisis. 

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Jean Grey is one of the most important X-Men characters. IGN voted her #13 in Top 100 Superheros. She’s brought back from the dead a few times, plotlines of decades worth of books and many of the films have revolved around other character’s relationships with her. She’s been Marvel Girl, the Phoenix and the Dark Phoenix- which of course is when she went “planet eater” and genocidal. She’s was copied. She was cloned. Her child from an alternate timeline came to Earth. And recently she was brought back from the past in her younger form where she faced her future self (who appeared as Xorna) from an alternate timeline.

But even with all this revolving around her… she’s just one being… and in the scheme of the universe… How important is Jean Grey? 

To the Shi’ar she is very important. But they don’t care about her relationships, they don’t care what a special snowflake she is. They only care about one thing: that she murdered a planet. Anything else that she accomplishes is overshadowed by the acts committed by the Dark Phoenix.

The Shi’ar want her to answer for her crimes. 

But it’s complicated: technically she hasn’t committed them. She’s aware of what will happen. If she goes back to her time, Xavier will wipe her mind and it will all re-happen. 

So, I’m wondering what the Shi’ar’s plan is here.

Option 1: 

Kill her.

The Shi’ar would introduce a whole new timeline where she did not become the Dark Phoenix, but no one can really be sure what would happen. That seems unreliable. And, right now the time space continuum is so disrupted that the timeline is permanently altered and Jeannie and co. are still in the future without it having any repercussions. Well… yet, anyway. But they are tampering with things with no guarantee. 

Option 2:

Imprison her? Same deal for the Shi’ar above but with the added heat of X-Men raining fury on them for taking one of their own.

Is there an Option 3? What is the End Game here?

This issue doesn’t provide much info in that aspect. What we get is Scott Summers waking up on the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship after having a dream where he confessed his love to Jean (even though he’s recently been getting closer to X-23, I wouldn’t mind if Young Cyclops and Wolverine’s genetic clone went the “friends forever” route). Even to a groups of mutants who, collectively, can pass through walls, shoot lasers from their eyes, are made of ice, can fly, pass through walls and heal a bullet wound in a moments notice- a talking Racoon, 2 murder girls, a (sort of) talking tree + more are still really weird. 

Jean Grey is imprisoned in a Bubble by Kallark (Gladiator), her telekinesis and telepathy doesn’t work there. This version of Jean Grey has this out of control Sookie Stackhouse thing happening and she relies heavily on reading the thoughts of others. Not being able to causes her to bug out. And they drop her into… the ocean? still in her containment bubble.

Professor Kitty Pryde blames herself for not seeing this coming. which is a duality. I don’t think she should have seen it coming, but she shouldn’t have been confused about WHY the Shi’ar showed up in Part 1. While they debate X-Men saying repeatedly that Jeannie didn’t actually DO it… and Rocket reminding them, “Yet.” Then the Shi’ar attack their ship. Angela wants to board the ship and take them down, Groot goes along as back-up. 

Jean Grey meets with Oracle who explains what’s happening here. She’s under arrest and getting ready to be brought before tribunal. Oracle sees that she has no first hand knowledge of being the Phoenix (How would she? She hasn’t been the Phoenix?) somehow she’s perplexed by this. Jean lashes out and acts threateningly towards Oracle. And… she goes back in the bubble.

After being struck by the Shi’ar, the Guardians’ ship is on fire. Gamora and X-23 make friends. Rocket says he’s going to propose to Angela. Gamora starts to head out. Suddenly, there’s another ship! They get blasted with purple lasers and it’s revealed that the pilot of THAT ship is… Summers. No, not that Summers, Major Christopher Summers, USAF.  

There are things Immonen does very well, which corresponds heavily with what Bendis does well. Bendis writes great characters, great reactions. Immonen draws great expressions and great body language. On these pages we see an off his game and defeated Scott Summers hunched over, sullen and it correspond to the voice we should hear perfectly.. Jean is questioned by another “minder” (telepath) and we see her demeanor change for outraged to regretful. But for me these fight scenes are disjointed, weird lighting and coloring obscures what’s happening to who. 

Speaking of “What is happening?!” Christopher Summers firstly is Scott’s father, the alias Corsair was supposedly dead (at the hands of his son Vulcan, who was not raised on earth and slaughtered Shi’ar’s after being incubated and sold into slavery). So… what is going on here? He’s also the leader of Starjammers, who pillage and pirate Shi’ar ships.

“I hate space” I’ve had very bad luck in space!” -KP

One of my favorites, Greg Rucka, is writer of the (SOME SPOILERS LIVE HERE–>) upcoming Cyclops series that spins off the events in Trial of Jean Grey. Honestly, the spoilers keep me more confused about what will happen to Jean Grey.

X-Men 10.NOW or X-Men GHOSTS #1

Marvel, srsly why are we numbering things like this? STOP.That small gripe aside, I was so pumped for this issue! 

Art by both Kris Anka and Clay Mann.

A mobbed up rich girl from Columbia and a deadly assassin from Osaka are Lady Deathstrike. She’s teamed up with the re-empowered Amora the Enchantress and Typhoid Mary to wage war as the New Sisterhood against the X-Men. They need recruits, they need powerhouses, they need to resurrect the dead.

But so do the X-Men. Monet, who got thrashed by Amora last issue quips about another take and then joins Psylocke and Storm. 

Ana Cortes is fighting herself, it’s not as fun as she thought it would be to be a super villain. 

Pixie and Rockslide are collecting the Arkea bomb that she was sent into space after the attack on the school in the earlier issues. And Rachel and Beast are running tests on Sublime, Rachel and Sublime squash their romance while Monet and Psylocke follow a bad lead and end up on an empty yacht. 

Arkea finds new recruits. Lady Deathstrike/Ana/Yuriko protests.. Arkea drops the hammer, Lady Deathstrike is an inferior specimen. Arkea is using her for resources and she threatens her. She requests even more female firepower;

Madelyne Pryor

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Genetic clone of Jean Grey created by Mister Sinister who once married Scott Summers. AKA Red Queen, AKA Goblin Queen. Mother of Cable.

Selene Gallio

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AKA Black Queen. Oldest mutant. Rachel Grey once tried to kill Selene (Wolverine stopped her by critically injuring Rachel so she wouldn’t be a murderer.. oh, jeez. I think Rachel is getting a re-match). Heavy duty telepath, sorceress and psychic vampire. 

So the S-Class Supreme mutants are coming out!

Oh yeah, and there are still Mark 1 Sentinels rising out of the ocean. Jubilee, Bling!, Hellion and Pixie are on the beach of Catalina Island to handle it while Karima, Quentin Quire and Mercury track from the plane… but the plan changes on the fly when Sentinels start repairing themselves.

Cliff hanger!

Great art, great set up. Glad to see Jubes back out in the field! But Vampires vs. Giant Robots?? hmmm… 

This book continues to fascinate and Ana’s about to realize that she bit off more than she can chew once Madelyne Pryor and Selene Gallio get up in this.

Almost Human: Episode 5

John gets startled by an MX’s lack of genitalia. Dorian assures him he was made more realistically

An RN and a “petite psychic” are testifying against a suspected murderer: Ethan Avery… as is Captain Maldonado. Fearing for the girls’ safety, Maldonado is present in the court room but the other two are testifying by hollogram from a safe house. While testifying the RN, Hayley Jolene, is suddenly startled, Maldonado realizes that the safe house has been compromised. She’s right. Hitmen bust in and splatter poor Hayley, our “petite psychic” jumps out a window and makes a run for it. They find a clue leading to Ethan Avery as the culprit.

Maldonado confronts him. He tries to get in her head. 

The psychic, Maya, says that she’s in communication with Hayley’s spirit. “Real Cop” Kennex doesn’t buy in. Turns out she had the Cerrebellex procedure a procedure that makes people more intuitive and sensitive to spiritual anomalies. Or something. But anyway she says that Hayley is speaking to her and that she says that Ethan Avery killed her.

But Ethan Avery was in jail.

But wait! Rudy shows up with some gadgets and plays a recording of the murder. The machine interprets that the sounds are made by vocal chords… not a recording. And that those vocal chords belong to Ethan Avery.

But how can this be?!

It’s 16 minutes in and I know how this ends. Clones.

Stahl thinks it’s an identical twin.*facepalm*

Then Stahl puts 2 and 2 together and remembers that the Doctor Fuller that Avery was on trial for killing was a reproductive doctor. And cloning is reproductive.

Maya flies the coop from the station to speak with Hayley’s parents.

While transporting Maya, Kennex, Dorian and Maya get shot up by masked men in a van. Maya gets shot. John takes down one of the hitmen. Sure enough: It’s Ethan Avery. Only 10 years younger.

Maya winds up with a broken collar bone and possible internal bleeding. Without her there is no one to connect Avery to Fuller. Dorian goes with Maya to the hospital and they have a heart to heart. She had the Cerrebellex procedure to reconnect with her parents who died right before her 19th birthday. But while she was recovering from the procedure her house burnt to the ground. Without anything of theirs to touch she was never able to reach them. 

Meanwhile Stahl goes to look for files at Fuller’s home. Records that Avery was one of his subjects/patients/lab rats. (Because she doesn’t know that Kennex already proved Avery had clones) And John figures out how Avery tracked Maya, but doesn’t communicate with Stahl in time. So the clones show up at Fuller’s house and take down her MX.

And now she is a hostage.

Stahl tells them to call Kennex. She says that he won’t negotiate, even for her. Stahl tries to convince the clones that the real Avery has been holding them hostage. Clone Avery thinks Stahl is special to Kennex and that he will negotiate.

Maldonado agrees to fork over Avery. 

But through elaborate and cool technological trickery they con the clones. Stahl also gets to flex her muscles. Dorian flips the van and the last of the clones go up in flames. Maldonado givens Ethan Avery and epic smackdown speech and then a sexy male lawyer gives her a compliment. Dorian gives Maya a box from evidence, from the investigation into the fire at Maya’s home. She touches a door knob and both smiles and cries and greets her parents at long last.

Earlier in the episode Maya gave Kennex advice about his angry red aura that repells everyone except one person and bourbon. Stahl walks in with a bottle of Bourbon from her desk, pours drinks for both of them and keeps him company.

Stahl and Kennex get a little bit closer!

Did Stahl really have to get held hostage the first time we see her out in the field alone? Especially since she “found the connection” but John had it proved already because he shot one down. So the brute stuff appears more effective than the brain stuff. Awesome… right…

Maldonado continues to be a bad ass. I like that even though Avery got under her skin it didn’t lead to some whirlwind of self-doubt. Maldonado proved herself effective, smart and willing to go the extra mile for those she considers friends and those who work for her.

Dorian gets to show how human he is. Not because of …ahem… physical features, but because he is caring and intuitive.

Agents of SHIELD- Episode One

The pilot, written by Joss Whedon (who is also the executive producer), starts off with a man. A caring father, out of work and low on cash. He sees an apartment building burst into flames and jumps into action!

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Or climbs rather. Yeah, climbs… up a brick wall. Saves the damsel, jumps from 5 stories and lands on his feet. Unbothered.

Skye, a hacker expert, sees what he did and follows him. She says SHIELD is going to find him, that they are bad men in black suits. She knows about what happened in New York (the Avengers movie) she knows about “project pegasus” (Thor’s movie). She says that they’ll stop at nothing to cover up the existence of superheroes… which is what she thinks Mike Peterson is. Skye wants to bring his story out in the open, before SHIELD gets their hands on him. She says being a superhero can get him a better life with more opportunities.

Meanwhile, Cobie Smulders is reprising her role as Maria Hill:

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And she drags in a hotshot loner type named Grant Ward and commissions him to bag Skye, the marvelous hacker. There’s so witty exchange in which he is “Welcomed to level 7” by none other than Agent Coulson (played by Clark Gregg).

Wait Agent Coulson? Didn’t he die at the hands of Loki in the Avengers? What?

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He spouts a story about his death being faked and an extended vacation in Tahiti (but I think he’s a clone).

Ward and co. go out to grab Skye. Coulson busts out the weirdest interrogation technique ever by locking Ward and Skye in a room together and giving truth serum… to Agent Ward. Hmmm…. 

He earns Skye’s trust and she helps SHIELD find Peterson. Who has a freaky metal centipede on his arm and is approaching his boiling point. Literally. He beats up his former employer and starts rampaging. SHIELD goes after him to try to get a handle on it.

Along the way they find that the creator’s of “centipede” mixed “supersoldier juice from the 40s,” Gamma radiation and basically any known superpower causer. 

They confront Peterson in a heated (literally) exchange where Peterson declares, “It used to be enough, just to be a man.” What he continues with is that now there are gods and giants… it’s also an analogy. Peterson is out of work, out of cash, out of hope. Out of the American dream. And it used to be enough… just to be a man.

They gloss everything over, make it look nice for the cameras… and cover up what they don’t think the public is ready for. But for those involved there is a happily ever after. I seems to me to me to be propaganda, like I should take away that we only THINK the government is the bad guy, but we don’t truly understand. Yeahhh… seemed to be some “Yeah, America” brainwashing happening. Which is also what I thought was happening in episode 1 of Sleepy Hollow, so, maybe it’s just me….

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At the end of the episode they still hadn’t “cut the head off of centipede” so I’m sure there will be some vaguely foreign vigilate types experimenting on down on their luck people in the coming weeks.