Wolverine Month: Wolverine+Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection

The last book I’m going to talk about in this great month of Wolverine is part of the Marvel Graphic Novel line. Rather than the comic-sized paperback format of the other books I’ve talked about, It was a series of high prestige books printed with much better paper and with better color technology. It’s a format I really like, and have quite a few of these even though some of them have been reprinted in modern times.

Drawn by Howard Chaykin (American Flagg, he also drew the first ever Star Wars comics) and written by Archie Goodwin (also did Star Wars for a time, but is mostly known for being the best editor in the history of American comics.), Wolverine+Nick Fury; The Scorpio Connection is more of a Nick Fury story than a Wolverine one. Also, if you’re coming in mostly with a knowledge of the movies, this Nick Fury does not resemble Samuel L. Jackson at all. He’s white, has graying hair and looks a bit like David Hasselhoff.

The story opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent David Nanjiwarra, investigating a gun-running ring in Machu Picchu. He, along with the rest of his team, are killed by an unseen figure. The killer leaves a small token with the Zodiac symbol Scorpio.

In Manhattan at a S.H.I.E.L.D. gym, Nick Fury’s old flame Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is being asked out by a young agent, while Fury and his right-hand man, Dum Dum Dugan, reminisce about simpler times. Fury remembers that he used to hope for love and a family, but that all seems behind him now. As they leave Dugan’s wife and kids come along and Fury looks at the scene longingly. He remembers the one family member he did have, his brother Jake, who he killed.

Meanwhile, The supervillain hitman Arcade has his latest deathtrap foiled by the X-Men (In what appears to be their Austrailia-era costumes.) As he escapes, just to mess with Wolverine, he mentions, speaking via a decoy robot, that he intercepted one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s communications, which said to keep certain information out of Wolverine’s hands at any cost, in fear of how he would react. The info? Agent David Nanjiwarra has died. Turns out he was one of Wolverine’s close friends. Wolvie goes berserk and slices the robot to pieces

S.H.I.E.L.D. has discovered the Scorpio emblem and the dead agents. Fury thinks it has to be a hoax as killed Scorpio himself (and left his true identity out of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s database). Fury goes to a bar and orders a drink. As he’s about to take a sip, his olive is stabbed by Wolverine, who’s not happy about Fury keeping the death a secret. Fury says he’ll help Logan find the killer.

We cut to an island where a handsome young man named Mikel has two attractive young women flirt with him. He’s distracted until an older woman in a bikini tells him to hurry along and get on their boat. (A sentence I loved writing.) The women are actually really mean about it and joke about him being into cougars and it’s something that seems like it could happen, but man, can’t we be nice?

Anyway, the woman is actually his mother and she’s rather catty about Mikel chatting with them. He then puts on the Scorpio costume and shows off his impressive martial arts skills. He, having been trained and conditioned by his mother for one purpose. To kill the man who killed his father. To kill Nick Fury.

Wolverine, now in Machu Picchu, flashes back to when he met David. Wolverine was hunting terrorists in the desert and he collapses and David helped him up. They go to get a drink, but the bartender refuses to serve David because he’s of Aboriginal descent. Wolvie strongarms the guy into doing it. David complains about the conditions working for the Australian government and how the whole country is systematically racist. He plans to join S.H.I.E.L.D. where that sort of thing isn’t tolerated.

So Fury chases Scorpio to Vienna they fight. Fury is really pissed that someone is posing as his dead brother, but Scorpio dramatically rips off his mask, revealing that he’s the son of Jacob Fury. I mean, we all saw it coming.

In Istanbul, Wolverine has tracked an arms dealer from Machu Picchu to a dingy little joint. There he meets the leader of the gun runners, Amber D’Alexis, the mother of Scorpio. And yes, her name sounds like $10 perfume.

Scorpio attacks Logan, and with a combination of his martial arts and his the Zodiac Key, actually manages to hurt him pretty badly. For you continuity buffs, the Zodiac Key is an immensely powerful weapon that looks like a key and apparently can be used to unlock a door to the future or something. This is not that key. It’s a replica and basically just a blaster.

Suddenly the lights go out and Nick Fury scoops up Wolverine. He used a “BlackLight Bomb’ which knocks out anything not in the infrared spectrum. They escape and Fury argues about how it’s too personal to Logan before cracking and revealing it’s personal to him too.

Nick tells Logan that he used to know Amber back when he was CIA agent. He had posed as a gambler at a seedy club she owned to gain underworld connections to bring down criminals. She had clawed her way up from the bottom and created an empire through both illegal and legitimate means. Through one of her legitimate companies, she had hired and then fallen in love with researcher Jacob Fury. Not wanting to blow his cover, he gave Jake and Amber his blessing. He takes her out dancing to thank her for not telling his brother about his activities at the club and predictably, seduces her. She stopped caring about Jake and fell for Nick, but he used their closeness to turn her in. After that, Jake hated him and became Scorpio.

As the flashback ends, it turns out that they were discussing this over dinner and Wolverine eats a shish kabob with his claws and all is perfect for a moment.

There’s a bit where they invade Amber’s private island to take the duo out. They get caught with knockout gas, but that’s literally all to say about it. Not super important. More pressingly, Scorpio attacks the S.H.I.E.L.D.

Base with the gym. Fury and Wolverine show up and chase Scorpio to the top of the building and the foursome fight. Amber reveals that Mikel is actually Nick’s son, which, yeah, you also saw coming. Nick shoots him to stop him from killing Logan, causing him to drop the Zodiac Key. Nick runs to his son’s side. Amber picks it up and blasts Logan something fierce. She points it at Fury and Mikel, saying killing Fury would have been nice, but killing Fury and the son he’ll never know will be better. Then boom! Logan comes from behind and stabs her.

Mikel attempts to escape with a plane on top of the building, but as it’s taking off, Fury and Wolvie bring it down. They all survive and S.H.I.E.L.D. is working to get Mikel deprogrammed from what his mom conditioned him to believe. As they leave the building Logan tosses Fury a cigar and congratulates him on being a parent and what the what? Dude, a little inapropprite all things considered.

Oh, and spoilers, Mikel is deprogrammed and plays a part (and then dies) in Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors series, which is great and you should all read.

The story was continued in graphic novels/annuals called Scorpio Rising and one called Bloody Choices. I have not read either, but there is a collection that contains all three stories, so it’s out there if you want to.

So to wrap up this dumb Wolverine month celebrating this dumb character I love, I chose a story he’s barely in. He could have been removed and it would have been just as strong. David doesn’t get mentioned again, not even in an “and now he’s been avenged can rest” speech. Like, Wolverine’s “Scorpio Connection” seems kinda tenuous at best. It’s kinda unsatisfying if you’re looking for a Wolverine revenge story, but it’s a solid Nick Fury story and I’d still suggest it.

That’s it for “Wolverine Month”. I had fun reading these and fun writing all of these except this last one. You can find me @NicoliRaymond on Twitter and on my podcast Hopelessly Obsessed.

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Wolverine Month: Inner Fury

I’m back with the Wolverine month I’ve said existed, but no one has acknowledged except me. (Truth be told, every month is Wolverine month in my heart.) I frequent Half-Price Books, which is great for finding weird and rare stuff at affordable prices. I happened upon Wolverine: Inner Fury. As far as I can tell, the Wolverine ongoing series did not have annuals (oversized issues released once a year in addition to the regular issues), but rather a Wolverine graphic novel was released every year. One of those was the Jungle Adventure, which I wrote about here. These were chances for different writers and artist to work on a Wolverine story when they might not normally.

This one-shot is written by D.G. Chinchester. I’ve never heard of this guy, a quick Google turned up that he wrote Daredevil after Ann Nocenti. Based on this, that seems like a good fit. There’s some cool stuff in here.

The artist, however, I have heard of. He’s the main reason I wanted to read this. Bill Sienkiewicz (not said like it’s spelled). He’s one of the best stylists in the industry. His art varies in both medium and style to fit the story. In gritty superhero stuff like this, it’s a sketchy violent style where the concept of what he’s showing seems more real than what he’s actually drawing. The man’s a monster. Just, dude, if you haven’t seen his stuff, Google it right now.

Anyway, the book itself starts out in a Hydra lab with an experiment in nanomachines being supervised by a deformed little man dangling from the ceiling with a nutrient tank around his head. His body is of no use, I don’t know whether or not his limbs even work, but he’s there, suspended. The scientists and lackeys around him call him “The Whale” even as he thinks of himself as a “Shark.” I should point out this is because his nose looks like a fin.

A scientist points out that some of the inventory has gone missing.

Before I go into the next scene, I want to talk about the design for the Hydra agents. They’re these black…things, seeming incorporeal in some panels, blending in with the shadows and on others they seem robot and super solid. It’s neither here nor there, it just looks cool.

Okay, so back to the action. So it turns out they’re not really in a lab. They’re being transported inside of a truck. The “lab” seemed cramped and the panels boxed us and the characters in. This is why. The Whale sets off the nanomachines and causes the truck to crash. Two Hydra agents, the leaders of this project overlook the crash. One is a man who berates his partner, unseen, but their shadow/silhouette is in the shape of a full-figured woman. The shadowed leader shoots the man as he says he’s going to pin the failure all on them.

Cut to Chicago, covered in one of our famous snowstorms. Wolverine is here, as he puts it, for his own murder. S.H.I.E.L.D. let him know about a communique that had been dropped off with his name on it. Both he and Nick Fury knew it was a trap, but Logan says that whoever wants to lead him on is the one that’s really trapped. Knowing Wolverine, the reader is inclined to agree.

So he goes to Chicago and he’s attacked by some generic bad dudes.They have face masks similar to the ones the Hydra people wore, but that might just be because Sienkiewicz was in the mood to design a particular thing. One of them gets a pretty solid hit into Logan, but after healing, he makes quick work of them. Then steps out a short man with a pointy nose and an enormous flowy head of hair, another one, who calls himself “Big”. Big is a bounty hunter, who was hired to kill the guys Logan just did. He offers Logan a cut, but Logan just heads off to a bar.

Needing to unwind, he’s a couple beers in and chatting up a PYT. She says she doesn’t usually like older men as they tend to be more…domesticated.

That’s what she says.

Anyway, Logan, despite being literally older than this lady’s grandmother, takes offense to this and asks why she thinks he’s old. She points out his grey hairs. Logan doesn’t remember having any, so she strokes it to prove it to him. But when she touches it, she bleeds. Big then walks in and suggests Logan stop *ahem* fraternizing as she could get hurt more as his condition worsens. Logan angrily asks Big what he means.

The stout man refers to Logan’s hair follicles and fingernails, of which the Adamantium in Logan’s body seems to be getting out. This is interesting because it this is, as far as I know, the first time the “Logan gets Adamantium removed” plot beat happens. It more famously appears in the “Fatal Attractions” X-Men storyline, in which Logan’s claws are revealed to grow from bone and part of his mutation.

Big tells Logan about the nanomachines and how they’ve ruined the lives of his clients. The machines have hacked Wolverine’s healing factor (which is portrayed in the book, but not here as cartoon white blood cells with eyes) is rejecting the Adamantium from his body, registering it as a harmful substance. As his condition visibly worsens, he convinces Logan to join forces and take down The Shark.

They go to fight some dudes who they think know the Whale/Shark’s location. He has to watch himself in the scrap, something he’s not used to. Usually, his healing factor patches him up as they go, but now his healing factor is working overtime to expel the Adamantium.

A guy comes from behind and is going to shank Logan, but he grows Adamantium spines out of his back like a deadly Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s kinda great. The people are defeated and Logan and Big head off to find another lead. AND BOY, do they head off in style. Big has a personal hovercraft. It fits two people, but it’s clearly made for just him.It’s this tall thing vaguely shaped like the capital letter “I” with a big bulbous light on the top of the front, where Big peeks his head out of. And it’s got a mechanical arm on the side and Logan has to kind of squat inside and it’s great.

They keep looking and eventually crash in a hotel room, where the full extent of what is happening to Logan becomes clear. He’s sprawled out on the couch, Adamantium sticking out from every opening in his body. He still manages to fall asleep on the couch and dreams a terrible and violent dream.

He’s on a ship and they’re hunting the Shark/Whale/Metaphor. It’s Moby Dick. It’s just straight up Moby Dick. Wolverine to the Ahab, The Whale to the…Whale. Yeah. The Whale/Whale attack the ship, only Logan, never having seen him, assumes he’s this giant hulking monster who fights him, but his Adamantium betrays him during the duel and before the Whale/Whale can kill him, he chides Logan for not sticking to Melville’s metaphor. I’m loving that these “not annuals” are basically just the villains critiquing media. At least in my head they are.

They arrive at The Whale/Shark’s base and fight their way inside. At this point, Logan is Edward Scissorhands’ final Pokemon evolution. The Shark/Whale is inside and Logan doesn’t quite believe it. He threatens The suspended scientist, but he doesn’t have a cure and is terrified by Big.

The silhouette is revealed as Big on his hovercraft. It was his magnificent hair, the lights on his device providing the outline of the uh..bulbs. Turns out that Big was the Hydra leader after his stolen tech.Which then makes the deformed man the Shark/Whale/Patsy. The Shark/Whale was after his freedom, both from Hydra and to experiment in public. He needed Logan’s help to track the defector down, so using the nanomachines that The Whale/Shark was told were missing earlier to infect Logan, giving him motivation.

Logan tries to fight Big, but he’s pretty easily beaten down again and again. Big breaks open the Whale’s tank and he falls to the floor. Some wiring is broken and with a spark, a fire begins to spread in the lab. After taking care of his target, Big comes at Logan with a chainsaw that was just lying around I guess.

Logan realizes the one way to shock his body into resetting is to kill himself. So he puts his claws up to the bottom of his head and pops them. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the shock or because the machines were there. I don’t know. But it works and he makes *ahem* short work of Big. Wolverine throws the Shark/Whale/Fish into a bucket and carries him as he retreats into the snowy woods, the lab going up in a blaze behind him.

I wish I had a scanner so I could show you guys this stuff. It’s top-notch work and one of the most visually interesting books I’ve read in a long while. I spent at least double the amount of time I usually do reading to look over the art. HIGHEST possible recommendation for the art. The writing is fine and I enjoyed the dream sequence, but I bought this for Sienkiewicz’s art and I was proven even more right than I initially thought.

Wolverine Month: The Jungle Adventure

I’m back with my second Wolverine month article. I wanted to take a look at some of the lesser known Wolverine graphic novels from years past. This time I’m looking at Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure. It’s written by Walter Simonson, known for the greatest run of Thor ever, and drawn by Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy. With such massive creators behind it, I don’t know why it isn’t more talked about.

The story opens with a tribal elder telling his people of the Child of Heaven. He flashes back and talks about a lighter that the tribe found and thought was a device from the gods and they put it on a big rock and worship it.
Now, this tribe is from the Savage Land, which is this jungle in the Antarctic where cavemen and dinosaurs live. Just accept it.
Wolverine lands a one man plane, grabs the lighter and uses it on a cigar. He just puffs it and is like “Okay, Nick Fury signed this lighter in case I’d stop by.“ He doesn’t really question it.
The tribe sees him as a God or at least a Child of the Gods, but some don’t believe it. Their fiercest warrior, Gahck (alternately spelled Gack sometimes, I guess) challenges Wolverine to a fight. Wolverine wins because it’s not a comic about Wolverine being Jungle Rocky.
…Why is this not a comic about Wolverine being Jungle Rocky?

Anyway, he beats Gahck and he’s made chief and he goes to hang out in a cave alone because part of being chief is having a cave. “Not bad, as far as caves go”, says Logan. I like the idea that he has just this extensive knowledge of caves and which ones are the best to live in. Like, I know that he actually does live in caves sometimes, but it’s still pretty great to imagine him looking up cave reviews on Zillow.

Gahck walks in and without the big warrior get up, Logan and the readers learn Gahck is a woman. This is important because her and Logan talk briefly and keeping up the God pretense, says he doesn’t want her as a sacrifice because the tribe sent her up as tribute in the first place.

They talk a bit and then they’re like “Let’s bone”. And they do. But not before Logan can explain what he’s doing in the Savage Land. He was mysteriously sent a ticket to a Broadway show, and according to Logan, a pretty lousy one. During intermission, he’s handed a message by a man with a terrible British accent.

The note says it’s from Jean Grey, telling him to meet her in the back alley. The note smells nothing like her. He decides to check it out anyway, what the heck? He has a few minutes before act II. He’s ambushed by a cyborg who speaks in broken English and I am making none of this up.

The cyborg explodes and Logan smells from his charred remains that “This Johnny comes from the Savage Land”. But he also smells like Logan. Specifically his pain and torment. No, really.

Cut to the present, Logan takes a more active interest in the tribe, leading their hunts and gaining their trust. He kills a dinosaur during one of the hunts and the tribe is sufficiently impressed to not only make him chief, but accept him as one of them. When Chackel, one of the tribesmen, doesn’t come back, Logan takes interest in the situation. Turns out there’s a T-Rex that comes once a year and eats members the tribe. Unusually, it leaves no remains of its victims.

Chackel’s father, doubting Logan’s godhood as he has to be explained this, stabs him in rage. Logan shrugs it off. He’s not happy about it, but he lets the man live. An elder tells him that only one man ever escaped from the T-Rex, after being taken to his “Mountain of Thunder”. Having heard enough, Logan sets out to hunt.

Facing it, it swallows him whole. The tribe is left shocked by this, but then he claws his way out of its stomach, having discovered it was a robot designed to look like a T-Rex with the purpose of capturing, not killing.

He sets off to leave the tribe, but finds out his one man plane is missing he accuses Gahck, think he doesn’t want him to leave and angered she leaves. Gahck is really upset about being accused and storms off. He has the elders point him in the direction of the “Moutain of Thunder”. He dons his X-Men uniform and sets off.

By the way, I want to say that Mignola’s T-Rex fight, along with everything else, is absolutely gnarly.

So Logan arrives at the mountain and smells pain like the cyborg’s, but before he can focus on it, a trapdoor opens and next thing he knows, he wakes tied up in a cell with Apocalypse monologuing before him. This is actually the first meeting between the two, Apocalypse had been around for a while, but had only appeared in X-Men’s sister title X-Factor.

Apocalypse has been experimenting on the cave people, making them cyborgs as assassins. He plans to do the same with Logan. Gahck shows up, having tracked Logan down and she attempts to save him. Apocalypse throws her in a cage and says after he’s done with Wolverine, she’ll be his first test.

Apocalypse turns his back and there’s a really cool page of Logan cutting the ropes on his feet, taking his boots off to get the lighter, which he kept in his boots? And then lights it and burns through the ropes on his hands.

Logan attacks Apocalypse and they fight. Over in the corner, Gahck frees Chackel, who’s fine, and they escape. Apocalypse reveals he was making the cyborgs to eliminate mutants. He’s going to protect the humans from the Mutants and help them reclaim the Earth. Now this is pretty much the oppisite of Big A’s normal game plan, which makes Logan suspicious, and rightfully so. It turns out this Apocalypse is a robot. Logan shreds it to bits.

He looks around the lab and wonders why a robot would create cyborgs or what any of this means. He then finds a skull made of Adamantium. This is interesting because at this time Chris Claremont (writer of X-Men) intended for Wolverine’s metal skeleton to have been grafted onto him by Apocalypse. That never played out, but it’s cool to see.

Just as he starts to consider what it means, a hologram of the real Apocalypse turns on and says that he built this robot to man this base while he was gone, but its programming corrupted and put it in opposition of its creator. Now, this is where it gets bonkers. Rather than deal with it himself, he decided to send Wolverine a ticket to the play, pose as a regular dude to give Logan the note that would lead him to the cyborg, which apparently Apocalypse knew was specifically targeting Logan. That way, Logan would investigate and deal with the robot for him. He thanks Logan for letting him know that he has to work on his British accent AND THEN HE STARTS CRITIQUING THE PLAY.

Apocalypse releases a gas to kill Logan, saying that he can now freely take out two enemies. Wolverine’s healing factor keeps him alive long enough to use the lighter as an explosive…somehow? He takes his aerofoil, which I guess we’re supposed to figure Gahck did take and then flew it to the mountain and left it when she got Chackel out?

The story ends with the Shaman wrapping up his telling, revealing Chackel is a cyborg, but he’s okay and Gahck and Wolverine had a kid and everyone loved-WAIT. THIS KID HAS NEVER SHOWN UP AGAIN. It’s just kind of skirted over and he’s been to the Savage Land again after this, so I don’t know if no one read this or remembers (which is possible). Or if Simonson had plans or what.

Anyway, it was a really fun book, great art, light on continuity and easily accessible. I found it at Half-Price Books for three dollars and if you can find it for around that price I totally recommend it.

 

This is, besides a spellcheck, completely unedited, so maybe not my best work. I do plan on going back to it and redoing sections sometime later this week.

So You Want to Read Old Man Logan and the X-Men (Comixology Sale Edition)

This article is part of Wolverine month, something I just decided is happening. So, I’ll be putting up a few articles about Wolverine.

Comixology is having a massive amount of sales now. Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Superman, Image 25, but In this installment of so you want to read, I’m going to be talking about the Old Man Logan, Wolverine and X-Men sales currently going on. They’re broken into sections on Comixology’s site, so for sake of expediency, I’m going to focus on those sections and what I recommend from each of them. Also, obviously both Comixology and I are trying to cash in on the movie. Only I’m doing this because I love you.

I previously covered the Ghostbusters stuff here though, so check that out if you’re interested.

These sales end March 6th, so hurry if you’re interested, but if you want to consider, you have a day and a half.

Due to the sheer volume of stuff on sale, I’m going to be a bit more rapid-fire than in previous installments. The stuff in bold are my top picks!

Old Man Logan:

In a separate sale from the rest, is the Old Man Logan sale. It’s all of the graphic novels with the character, plus the tangentially related Wolverine: The End and some X-23 stuff.  

Old Man Logan: The story that inspired the movie, kind of. It’s a fun read, really cinematic. Is it my top pick? No, but it’s important to establish the character and world of Old Man Logan. It’s also a blast. Alternately, you could listen to my podcast.

X-23: The Killing Dream: Written by Marjorie Liu with art by Will Conrad, this is Laura Kinney’s solo series. After all of the violence in her life, she tries and fails, to be a normal teen. A demonically possessed Wolverine attacks the Xaiver School and only Laura can stop him! And then she sets out to find herself and runs Into Gambit!

Old Man Logan (2016 series): Available are two volumes (vol. 1 Berzeker and vol. 2 Bordertown) of the most recent series with the character. They’re gorgeously illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. I highly recommend this for the art alone, but thankfully the writing by Jeff Lemire, has a lot of great character moments. Also available is vol. 0 Warzones!, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Sorrentino, although I don’t suggest it unless you have a grasp of the Secret Wars storyline (or are willing to Wikipedia it.) Art is still worth it though.

 

Wolverine/X-Men sale

There are a bunch of categories and books to look at, so I’m going through them as the website does.

Wolverine: This section is dedicated to Wolverine solo books. Who would’ve guessed?

Wolverine by Claremont and Miller: Legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont (Dark Phoenix Saga, God Loves, Man Kills, Days of Future Past) and industry icon Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, 300) team on this story that sends Logan to Japan. Featuring honor! Dishonor! Ninjas! It’s a great read that introduced a lot of defining features of Wolverine. This also served as the basis to The Wolverine, Logan’s second solo film. No silly robot fights here though!

Enemy of the State: By Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Logan gets programmed by the newly formed Hydra/Hand terrorist-ninja merger and their leader, the stone-eyed Gorgon sends Logan to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. and kill as many superheroes as he can. It’s a really fun book and reads surprisingly fast for there being twelve issues contained in here. Like Batman: Hush, it’s a great book for people just getting into superhero comics, letting you know who the character is and what his place is in the world.

There’s also a book called Wolverine: Logan by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso, that I haven’t read, but I can basically recommend anything by Vaughan and still sleep soundly.

 

Classic X-Men:

Claremont: This is the Section I know the most about. I’m a huge fan of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, which makes up almost all of my selections here.

Proteus: Moira Mc Taggert’s son Kevin is a mutant with reality shifting powers, the X-Men head to Scotland to help Moira get him back under control. It ends tragically and is one of the defining moments of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run. There is absolutely fantastic character stuff in this story and outlandish visuals.

Dark Phoenix Saga: Widely considered the best X-Men storyline, Jean Grey’s cosmic power overwhelms her and her teammates have to stop her from losing control. Obviously, she does, because we need a story, and her last stand is absolutely gut wrenching as the X-Men, even after the evil she committed, all risk their lives for hers. Contains X-Men #137, the greatest single issue of X-Men ever.

Days of Future Past: Contains the stories immediately after the Dark Phoenix Saga, including Days of Future Past, which inspired the movie of the same name. Also, includes Kitty Pryde joining the team and the return of Alpha Flight!

Asgardian Wars: The Asgardian Wars collections is actually composed of two stories, the X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries drawn by Paul Smith, in which Loki bestows upon mortals abilities of the gods, but at a cost; and two annuals drawn by Art Adams, where the New Mutants get transported to Asgard and the X-Men head there to save them.

Lifedeath: Barry Windsor-Smith draws the titular story, the two-part “Lifedeath”. These are the definitive Storm stories and some of the most beautiful X-Men comics ever. Storm comes to terms with losing her powers and defining herself outside of them. Also included is the Wolverine story “Wounded Wolf”, by BWS.

Ghosts: Claremont in top form, the duel between Cyclops and Storm for leadership of the X-Men, the attack of Nimrod: The Sentinel of the future, the birth of Cylclops’ son, and the Trial of Magneto in the classic X-Men #200.

 

Mutant Massacre: The first of a series of crossovers where Claremont is joined by writer Louise Simonson. The underground mutant society the Morlocks, who are too ugly to fit into normal society are attacked in the sewers. They’re slaughtered. The remaining Morlocks make it to the X-Mansion and the X-Men head down to check for survivors, they’re ambushed by the sadistic Marauders. It’s violent, vicious, and very, very good. This has the classic issue that pits Psylocke on her own against Sabertooth.

Fall of the Mutants: One of the most impactful X-crossovers ever. Even though it’s not really a crossover. Thematically tied together by each team dealing with major loss and failure. The X-Men face the Adversary, manipulating them for some time and make the ultimate sacrifice. The New Mutants encounter their first loss when one of the kids is gunned down. X-Factor battles the mighty Apocalypse and a fallen member of their own.

Inferno+Crossovers: Cyclops’ ex-wife and clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, becomes the Goblyn Queen and unleashes the demonic forces of Limbo on New York, warping the city into a Hellscape. To save the world, X-Men and X-Factor join forces for the first time since the teams split. Illyana Rasputin, Magik of the New Mutants and ruler of Limbo struggles with her dark side as she fights to reclaim her domain or lose herself trying. Great art by Brett Blevins, Marc Silvestri, and Walter Simonson, it is blockbuster superhero action at it’s finest and balanced perfectly with the emotional tension building for years. Also available is a book of crossovers, how the rest of the Marvel universe dealt with the transformation of Manhattan.

X-tinction Agenda: The last of the Claremont/Simonson crossovers, The New Mutants are abducted by the nation of Genosha, a utopia that achieved through the mental and biological manipulation mutants into a docile slave race. The X-Men, X-Factor, and Cable have to commit international terrorism to save the kids. Little do they know their old enemy Cameron Hodge has taken over the country and is manipulation its arsenal, both mechanical and biological to his own means. It’s a truly upsetting story dealing with class, treatment of minorities, and US/international relations. The last truly great story of Claremont’s original run.

Mutant Genesis: This is the story after which Claremont left the X-Men and Marvel for a long time. It’s not the most cohesive work, you can definitely tell there’s some narrative disjointment with Claremont and superstar artist Jim Lee. Even though it can be janky, the art is great and filled with a fantastic energy. It makes you want to rip the pages out and hang them on your wall, but you can’t because it’s digital. Duh. Also available in Mutant Genesis 2.0, a version with modern coloring techniques. I don’t really like it, but whatever floats your giant asteroid base.

Post-Claremont: I’m sure there’s other good stuff here, I just haven’t read a lot of it. Fatal Attractions and Second Coming are popular stories. X-Termination is really good, but only if you’ve read Uncanny X-Force and X-Treme X-Men.

Battle of the Atom: A newer story and maybe a little confusing, but you’ll catch on quickly enough. The X-Men of the future arrive in the present demanding that the original five X-Men (brought forward in time), be sent back to the past, for if they stay something catastrophic happens and the world hates mutant more than ever. Jean Grey and Cyclops go on the run, things aren’t quite what they seem, another team of X-men show up with contradicting reports… The fiftieth-anniversary story pays tribute to past stories like Days of Future Past while opening up possibilities for the future.

 

Wolverine Team-Ups:

Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine: Wolverine and Spider-Man are the oddest couple as the twosome are sent careening through time and space. It’s a surprisingly touching character study for a story that involves Wolverine leading a tribe of cavemen. By Jason Aaron (Mighty Thor, Southern Bastards) and Adam Kubert (Renew Your Vows, X-Men).

Kitty Pryde and Wolverine: Claremont and Al Milgrom (Spectacular Spider-Man) The youngest X-Man goes to Japan to save her father and is assaulted by Ogun, lord of ninjas. Ogun brainwashes her into becoming an intangible assassin. Logan doesn’t take to this kindly. He heads off to Japan to save his teenage sidekick.

Wolverine and Jubilee: Jubilee has turned into a vampire. She’s adjusting, but how well is open to interpretation. She’s framed for a series of murders and her and Logan must prove her innocence.

 

X-Men Team-Ups:

X-Men/Spider-Man: This series offering vignettes of four times Spider-Man has teamed up with the X-Men and the mysterious force manipulating both of their pasts. Also, a classic Spidey/X-Men team-up.

X-Men: S.W.O.R.D.: Abigail Brand is having a bad day. She was formerly head of S.W.O.R.D., Earth’s agency for dealing with alien threats. Now she’s second to Henry Peter Gyrich, a bureaucrat with a stick up his butt. What’s she to do when she finds a conspiracy to end all alien life on earth? Oh, and her boyfriend, the Beast, is visiting. Perfect. By fan-favorite Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Darth Vader)

 

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks: The Masterworks are series of collections (the print versions are high-quality reprints) each containing approximately ten issues. They’ll get you to the From the Ashes.. storyline, about halfway through Claremont’s run. If you bought these, you’d have the content from Proteus, Dark Phoenix Saga and the Days of Future Past collections. These are my highest recommendation in the sale, you almost certainly want to grab them.

If you only get one book from this sale, I’d suggest Volume 9. It contains both God Loves, Man Kills, one of the greatest X-Men stories and inspiration to X2 and also the Wolverine miniseries by Claremont and Miller.

 

Cyclops Vol. 1: Cyclops in space! After finding out his father is alive, a teenage Scott Summers decides to join the family business, space piracy. A coming of age tale in space dealing with a father and his son. By Greg Pak, Russell Dauterman, and Cameron Caneor. It’s one of my favorite X-Books, a perfect blend of writer, artists, and characters.

 

Nightcrawler:

Amazing X-Men vol. 1: Backstory; Nightcrawler died and went to Heaven. That’s all you need to know. He calls the X-Men to help him fight off a group of demonic pirates attacking the good place. It’s just a lot of fun, one of the lighter reads in the sale and great if you’re looking for a stand alone X-book.

Nightcrawler (2014): Claremont returns to one of his favorite characters  It’s an interesting read, seeing this classic master write in a more modern style. It doesn’t always work, but it’s fun enough to be worth a read.

Other:

Magneto Testament: It’s called a Magneto story, but it’s really a book about a young Jewish boy during the holocaust. That boy may be Magneto someday, but besides a few moments, it’s not about that. It’s beautiful and haunting.

X-Men First Class: A fun all-ages series about the original X-Men. Recommend if you want to read something with the Youn’uns in your life. (Not related to the movie of the same title.

Uncanny X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis: One of two sister runs by Brian Michael Bendis, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magneto are branded terrorists by the media, but they’re just looking out for mutantkind. Join the revolution or face the man with an X on his face.

X-Treme X-Men vol. 2: Although the first series is by Claremont and I’ve heard it’s of varying quality, I haven’t read it, so I can’t suggest it. The second series however, I have read and it’s a blast. The basic rundown is this, Dazzler ends up being sent from one alternate dimension to the next, recruiting a team of X-Men from different worlds. Their mission is to destroy ten evil counterparts of Xaiver intent on ruling the multiverse. It’s only two volumes and the finale is in the X-Termination crossover, but it’s really fun and if you want to read some really weird comics, this is your jam.

X-Men Season One: One of my favorite comics ever, this is my rainy day go-to book. A day-to-day standalone story about the early days of the X-Men, as told by Jean Grey. By Dennis Hopelss (Avengers Arena, Spider-Woman) and Jaimie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers) craft one of the best interpretations of the original team and especially Jean Grey as this would become the definitive version of her going forward.

X-Men ’92: Another one of my favorite series, a tongue-firmly-in-cheek parody/homage to the most extreme era of X-Men. Two books are available, volumes 0 and 1 and both are well worth checking out. The X-Men battle Vampires! Psychics! Censorship! This is one comic you can’t miss! Or you can, I just felt Hyperbole was appropriate with the material. By Chris Sims and Chad Bowers with art by Scott Koblish (Deadpool) and Alti Firmansyah (Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde)

Worst X-Men Ever: What happens if all you want is to be special, and then you find out you have a super power. The power to blow up! Once. Might have been better off before. That’s what happens to Bailey, but when his parents are killed. He joins a team of reject trainees, and he’s the most useless of them all. A touching letter to the X-Men franchise truly as tragic as it is funny.

X-Club: Super science makes super snobs; the smartest X-Men have decided that they can science their way out of anything, but along comes a problem of their own creation because we can’t have nice things, especially if we grow it in test tubes. CURSE YOU SCIENCE!!!!

 

Top Recs:

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks 

Season One 

Worst X-Man Ever 

Inferno 

Cyclops Volume 1

X-Men Reading Order (Work In Progess)

This is just something I’m working on for fun. It’ll be complete eventually, but this is just a look at the barebones of the project.

 

Silver Age (or books that take place during that time period):

Marvel Masterworks: X-Men or Essential X-Men (Same Material, different format)

X-Men: Season One

X-Men: First Class (non-cannon)

 

X-Men: The Lost Years (Enter If Ye Dare)

 

The Claremont/Simonson/Nocenti era (This is only a basic overview, could be more in-depth):

Marvel Masterworks/Essential: Uncanny X-Men

The Dark Phoenix Saga

Days of Future Past

The New Mutants

God Loves, Man Kills

The Mutant Massacre

Essential X-Factor

Fall of the Mutants

Inferno-Availible in two paperbacks

Excalibur Epic Collection: The Sword is Drawn

X-Tinction Agenda

Mutant Genesis

 

1990’s Post Claremont:

The Wedding of Jean Grey and Scott Summers

Age of Apocalypse

Joe Kelly run-

Alan Davis Run-

 

 

 

Early 2000’s:

New X-Men by Grant Morrison

Astonishing X-Men by Joss Wheadon

Wolverine: Enemy of the State

Old Man Logan (optional)

 

Mid 2000’s:

X-Force by Yost and  Kyle(?)

Messiah Complex

Uncanny-Fraction

Uncanny X-Force

Age of X

Schism

Wolverine and the X-Men Volumes 1-2

Uncanny X-Men-Gillen

Avengers vs. X-Men

Wolverine and the X-Men Volumes 3-4

Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences

 

Marvel Now:

Uncanny Avengers Volumes 1-4

All-New X-Men Volume 1: Yesterday’s X-Men

All-New X-Men Volume 2: Here to Stay

Uncanny X-Men Volume 1: Revolution

X-Men Volume 1: Primer

Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 5-7

Uncanny X-Men Volume 2:Broken

All-New X-Men Volume 3: Out of Their Depth

X-Men: Battle of the Atom

All-New X-Men Volume 4: All-Different

Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 8

Guardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey

Uncanny X-Men Volume 3: The Good, The Bad, The Inhuman

X-Men Volume 2: Muertas

X-Men Volume 3: Bloodline

Amazing X-Men Volume 1: The Quest for Nightcrawler

All-New X-Men Volume 5: One Down

Uncanny X-Men Volume 4: Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

X-Men Volume 4: Exogenesis

Uncanny Avengers Volume 5

Avengers and X-Men:Axis

All-New X-Men Volume 6: The Ultimate Adventure

X-Men Volume 5: The Burning World

Guardians of the Galaxy X-Men: The Black Vortex

All-New X-Men Volume 7: The Utopians

Uncanny X-Men Volume 5: The Omega Mutant

Uncanny X-Men Volume 6: Storyville

 

Secret Wars:

Years of Future Past

X-Tinction Agenda

Inferno

Age of Apocalypse

X-Men ’92

E is for Extinction

 

All-New All-Different Marvel Universe:

Uncanny-Bunn

All-New-Hopeless

Extraordinary-Lemire

All-New Wolverine-Taylor

Old Man Logan-Lemire

 

There’s tons more books and series out there. In case of the pre-200’s stuff, I’m pointing in the direction, not giving a comprehensive look.

The modern stuff is more subjective, and I’m only listing ones I like and think you will. (Except Avengers vs. X-Men. I only thought it was okay, but it’s important to the story.)

Comic Reviews-Week of April 6th

TheWicked + The Divine 18-Kieron Gillen (W) Jaimie McKelvie (A) Matthew Wilson (C)

Short version: I have no idea what’s going on anymore and it’s amazing.

Long Version: Gods how I missed Wic/Div. And I didn’t even realize how much I missed McKelvie. The guest artists were stellar, but man, I forgot how incredible McKelvie was as a draftsman. The writing was on point as usual and this book wouldn’t be half as good without Matthew Wilson’s colors.

The start of this arc brought everything together introduced new stuff and-honestly, I can’t write a cohesive review of this. I was gushing the whole time.

It was so good I’m at a loss for words. If you know me, you know that I don’t shut up, so this is a big deal.

Instead have some random thoughts about the book:

I’m a fan of the recap page.

Minerva’s parents were a nice inclusion. I like seeing the parents of child stars that are absorbed in it, but they generally mean well, even if they’re exploiting their kid. Also, Minerva is the best.

Baphomet. I finally like Baphomet.

Morrigan.

What if it’s not Laura? WHAT IF IT’S NOT LAURA?

“Persephone’s in Hell?” Lucifer ruled Hell. Coincidence? ARRRGH!

Morrigan

Shakmet slays with her new ‘do and that outfit.

The energy of the fight was palpable. Shakmet’s predatory attacks vs. Persophone’s graceful movements.

Morrigan.

It ends with not a bang, but….what comes directly after.

Don’t Call it a Comeback.

Black Panther #1– Ta-Nehisi Coates (W) Brian Stelfreeze (A) Laura Martin (C)

It’s as good as everyone said it is.

As opposed to the “AAAAAHHHH, OMG” of Wic/Div, Panther offers weightier content. (I was predispositioned to say headier, but Wic/Div is by Kieron Gillen, so that’s a hard call.)

It is a dense comic and hard to describe without an active conversation. Lots of things happen. It’s a book you’re going to want to buy for yourself. You will want to own it.

Stelfreeze shows a lot of nuance and definitely helps elevate the material. Coates knows how to write politics, the book feels like an essay, but a really compelling one that you want to rush through so you know how it ends. Then you’ll want to read it again to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Structurally, the backup and cliffhanger make me wonder how this is going to read in trade. It’ll probably be fine, but from the first issue, single issues might be the way to go.

Vision #6-Tom King (W) Gabriel Hernandaz Walta (A), Jordie Bellaire (C)

Oh, man, it’s creepy. King, Walta, and Bellaire continue their stellar run, the end of the first arc, isn’t even the end. It’s the beginning. Of the end, presumably with King signing an exclusive contract with DC.

Walta’s art is sterile, portraying the normal in a most unnerving way. The lines are thin and ghostly in quiet moments, but deep and thick when things get bloody. And Bellaire’s colors have defined the book. It’s as much her book as Walta or King’s. The subtle variations in the house and the deep red of the blood make the book.

It’s a book with a clearly defined identity, which begs the question, “will it survive King’s departure?” Also the question, “when is King leaving”?

Uncanny X-Men #6-Cullen Bunn (W) Ken Lashley (A) Nolan Woodward (C) Paco Medina (A) Juan Vlasco (I) Jesus Aburtov (C)

Picked this up only because of the Apocalypse Wars crossover. I am not a fan of Bunn’s writing, although I did enjoy his Magneto series, but I was pleasantly surprised. The Angel stuff was really enjoyable and Bunn shows a real understanding of the characters, they all seem really well written, except Sabertooth, but I haven’t read much with him post-inversion, so it might be spot-on.

There was a lot of fun stuff in the book, the archangel flock, the cool memeory two page spread, and the Morlock sewer stuff was a fun callback to one of my favorite X-stories. And that ending.

Lashley’s art was brutal and beautiful, although I think a bit too much empathis on the latter. Psylocke was a little pin-up-y at times. I was pretty much X-pecting this from a “Not an X-Force” book, and I’m sure it’s more tame than Land’s.

On the flip side, I love Paco Medina’s art in the backup strip. It was his ormal quality of work, which is to say, phenomenal. Bun iid some fun stuff with the Fact Channel and Xorn. Oh yeah, Xorn?!?!

Scarlet Witch #5-James Robinson (credited for Script) Javier Pulido (A) Munta Vicente (C)

Javier Pulido. Wanda saving ghost nuns from undead inquisitors. A near silent issue. Buy it. Even if you have no interest in the rest of the series, read this one.

Spider-Man #3-Brian Micheal Bendis (W) Sara Pichelli (A) Justin Ponsor (C)

This is a lot better considering the ahhh, weird portrayal of the internet youth last issue. Bendis shows his penchant for dialogue, which always engages me, even when the story is lax. That being said, the story isn’t lax here. Miles’ family life Post-SW isn’t something we’ve seen a lot of, so an issue devoted to just that is a nice cool down. (I mean, look guys, I love Blackheart and him being the first villain got me really excited, so I needed some cool down time at least.)

Miles’ Grandma is fantastic and she is everything a superhero cannot win against. AAAAHHH I love her.The tension between Jefferson and Rio about her rang as particularly true and I hope to see her and the hurricane that follows her a lot more.

Ms. Marvel seemed a little out of character, but I liked that she “got it”. If anyone would understand family getting in the way of heroics, it’s Kamala.

Pichelli thrives on the interpersonal moments and this issue is full of them. Like entirely. The pages with Jefferson, Rio, and Gloria she just raises the tension. It’s palpable just from the art. Her Kamala’s stretchiness is the right amount of gross and cool and I love it. And when she draws Felicia, I can think of only one word: Slay.

One last note: GOLDBAAAAAALLLSSSS!!!

Spider-Women Alpha-Dennis Hopeless, Jason Latour, Robbie Thompson (Story) Robbie Thompson (W) Vanesa Del Ray (A) Jordie Bellaire (C)

Clowntown. Oh, how I long to be in thee.

This was a really fun issue and looks to be a great crossover. Gwen, Jess, and Cindy are a really fun combo and they play off of eachother really well. Each of them has different dynamics together and with just one of the others and that shows deft writing. Cindy, playing the fun-because-it-hurts type, Gwen who just doesn’t get it and she’s jealous of the time her mentor is giving Cindy, and Jess who just wants a girl’s day. Even if their lunch went as planned, the dynamics would have been enough to keep me hooked.

The tiny differences between the worlds were really fun to see (the come see sunny Wakanda/Latveria made me laugh) and I loved the little nods. (I don’t know why the Adaptoid isn’t used more. He’s so goofy.)

The art was really good. There’s a kind of Indie style to all of the books and it’s good to see that style continued in this, especially by a woman, as all of the writers are male. I’d also like to note that Jordie Bellaire is my favorite colorist and this book shows why. She is so, so good at blending tones together. She’s so good.

I am more than intrigued by this, I am actively invested. All three of the books are solid series and I recommend both them and Spider-Women Alpha.

Deadpool/Cable: Split Second– Fabian Nicieza (W) Reilly Brown (W,A)

Only because like, all of my books gave a free digital copy. It was fine. I don’t care much about Deadpool or Cable. If you don’t know Cable, I’m not sure this is a good into. This one didn’t seem to use the Infinite format that well. The writing and art were both fine, not good, not bad, just fine. I wasn’t drawn into it. If you’re a Deadpool fan, I’m sure you’ll like it, if not feel free to skip it

Header art by Stacy Lee. All rights belong to Marvel.

Nicoli Raymond is a writer based out of Illinois. He writes scripts, short stories, and articles on pop culture. He tweets at @NicoliRaymond Contact him at n.raymond616@hotmail.com . He’s sorry this came out so late. It’s been a busy week.

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