Category Archives: Comic Books

A Mutant Renaissance :: Marvel Comics X-MEN GOLD & BLUE

The Uncanny X-Men are back in the spotlight with a pair of coinciding series that bring with them a new revitalization of a franchise that was once the pearl of Marvel Comics! Setting the Blue and Gold standard!

Once upon a time there were these misfits teenagers brought together under the sage guidance of a headmaster of a “school for the gifted”, but just how gifted these unlucky teens were wasn’t entirely clear even for their creator. After a string of successes that included the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Avengers and even the Hulk, Marvel Comics the House of Ideas wanted more from Stan Lee and demanded another hit from the man!

Stan had already given the world the mightiest, the most amazing, and the fantastic — the only thing left to do was go astonishing and uncanny! The answer came in the form of The Uncanny X-Men. Published in 1963 the group would be a very close reflection and raise social commentary on the social upheavals being experienced in American culture. The X-Men were “mutants” — humans born with the genetic propensity to super powers!

Where most of Stan’s creation had derived their abilities from unfortunate accidents, given to supernatural or super scientific circumstance, mutants were born with their gifts, and ultimately became the focus of fears and prejudice by a “normal” society that felt threatened by mutants  evolutionary advantage, or in some cases their ascent to superiority. It led to some of the series most outstanding storylines.

Uncanny!

The obscure popularity of the X-Men especially in those early adventures certainly solidified an audience for the group of teenagers who took it upon themselves to travel the world in defense of those feared and disenfranchised who couldn’t help themselves, but suddenly the title’s demand starting to wain. In 1969 the original stories ended with the release of Issue #66 and the series continued with reprints into it’s Issue #93.

In 1975 the “All-New, All-Different” line-up was introduced by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum and with Giant-Size X-Men #1 a new era was born. The team was a mix of diversity featuring characters from all corners of the globe. At first the new members had a difficult challenge of proving themselves, especially to one another, but soon they would develop into a family. These X-Men would be properly introduced with Issue #94 of The Uncanny X-Men written by Chris Claremont.

Claremont would begin an unprecedented 16-year run on the title that would propel The Uncanny X-Men to the top at Marvel Comics marking the mighty mutants (alongside Spider-Man) the lead sellers for the publishing giant. The X-Men’s message of inclusivity among diversity resonated with readers from all walks of life, and secured their transition into mainstream with a blockbuster film franchise, Saturday morning cartoons and several action figure toy lines.

All-New, All-Different

In recent times, the mutants have taken a backseat to the other members of the Marvel pantheon including The Mighty Avengers who have themselves overtaken the cinematic spectrum of the Marvel Films universe and become bigger stars on the big screen then they might have ever been in the publishing mecca. Over the course of the characters’ rise among theater audiences, the Avengers became the center narrative of the publishing arm of Marvel as well.

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This didn’t leave much room for the X-Men who never fell out of favor with their fandom, but were relegated to the side as a clear uniformity was built to strategically align with the cinematic world, to which the X-Men were not (at least at the moment) subscribed to. While many of the publishing events centered on the Avengers, the X-Men were often written into B-stories, or segregated into inclusion with representation coming only from the bigger stars in the line like Wolverine or Storm.

It has also quickly become evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has also substituted the mutants within its narrative with the Inhumans — a nearly godlike off-shoot of the human race that has lived in seclusion and often in hiding from the rest of mankind, but who have been taking their place at the table in contemporary plot lines. The Inhumans became centrifugal in two recent publishing events, and took over an arc on television’s Agents of SHIELD.

The Inhumans will also headline their own primetime series this fall on ABC.

Astonishing in Blue and Gold

One would assess that with the continuing profitability of the X-Men movie franchises still drawing audiences nearly two decades later, especially after a recent cinematic reboot, the mutants had a fanbase that would not be ignored. It appeared that the time to reinvest in the X-Men had arrived. Springing out of the recent Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series which pit the two enigmatic forces against one another, Marvel retconned the X-Men titles with a series of brand new #1s.

Reintroduced in the one-shot X-Men Prime #1 the future of the X-Men is precarious at best, so looking to the future Storm insists that Kitty Pryde return to the fold and assume a role she has been groomed for her entire career. Ororo wants Kitty to lead the X-Men and serve as a role-model, as headmistress to the next generation of young mutants. In order to achieve that goal, Kitty demands that the X-Men must give up their exile and rejoin the rest of planet.

At the conclusion of the aforementioned Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series, the X-Men moved their base of operations to Limbo in order to escape the effect of the Inhuman’s Terrigen mist; released into the Earth’s atmosphere and proven dangerous to mutants. With little other choice left to them, the X-Man Magik moves their headquarters to her demonic Limbo. Not exactly an ideal location by which to thrive and or raise a family. Kitty demands that the group return to Earth.

Using her skills of teleportation Magik lands the X-Men and their mansion into the heart of New York City, literally placing the home in Central Park. Kitty is able to keep most of the team together, but does not convince the “original” five X-Men including Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel, Beast and Iceman to stay with the group. The time-displaced teenagers decide that the future they’ve inherited is not all that it’s cracked up to be and carve out their own path.

X-Men: Gold is written by Marc Guggenheim and follows the more traditional course of action as Kitty attempts to secure her X-Men’s place in the world. Fighting on her side are classic X-Men including Storm, who has given up the reigns of leadership to Kitty, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Prestige (Rachel Grey) and Old Man Logan. Their mission statement remains the same, and already they’ve come face-to-face with a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Sentinels.

The title in the line X-Men: Blue is written by Cullen Bunn who is propelling the younger “originals” led by Jean Grey on a completely different tangent. This group has decided on Jean’s insistence to ally themselves with the X-Men’s greatest foe Magneto and it’s evident that the Master of Magnetism has his own agenda in the works. If some of these larger, over-reaching arcs sound familiar, you’re not alone. You’ve been reading X-Men comics for more than three decades.

No one may want to admit that what the X-Men require is a significant reboot that simplifies the mythology. It had gotten particularly out of hand in the late 90s into the start of the new millennium, and has just not been able to get back to the richer, humanistic story arcs that Claremont infused into the title. The writer even attempted to return to the comic for a short period of time, and it appeared that the magic truly had gone off into limbo.

X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue are on sale now and are published by Marvel Comics.

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DC Comics Enters Into DARK DAYS

The comics event of the summer is still shrouded in great mystery, but one thing is certain as the FORGE begins for DC Comics there are DARK DAYS ahead indeed!

Though still knee deep in the midst of it “Rebirth” a publishing-wide initiative that more closely reintegrates its more than 75 year legacy back into its storylines DC Comics has gone a step further and thrown its readership into “Dark Days”. The latest summer event launched this month in June with a premiere edition one-shot entitled Dark Days: The Forge and is the first act leading to a series of events that will have repercussions throughout the DC Comics universe.

Yes — we’ve all heard that before, more than once or twice, but with the advent success of the “event” storyline this is the publishing giants way of producing a blockbuster in print. The story will involve major players in the DC Comics universe and is propelled by a mystery at the Earth’s core that has Batman investigating, and keeping secrets from the rest of his colleagues in the Justice League, which is especially troublesome to Aquaman.

There is also an evolving threat that will be reestablishing Hawkman, Carter Hall back into the mainstream continuity. The Winged Avenger’s origins, dating back to his reincarnations as an Egyptian prince are being reexamined in the course of this story, as is the re-entry of another old favorite Plastic Man — or at least that’s who it looks like the Batman and Mr. Terrific (back from his exile to Earth-2) have been keeping “on ice” on the moon.

The covers to the first arc leading into the epic event METAL from DC Comics, DARK DAYS: THE FORGE on sale now.

Forging the Mystery

All this is going on as much of the DC Comics universe is piecing itself back together, reestablishing its legacies, after the reboot controversy of “The New 52” that wiped out and/or retconned much of the 75 year history of the heroic pantheon. Since that initiate which relaunched many of the main titles back in 2011, plenty of other historic moments in DC Comics timeline have been rudimentarily erased including the first Crisis on Infinite Earths.

When “Rebirth” was announced as the latest continuity “reboot” it began with the revelation that 10 years had been misplaced from the DC Comics continuity, but not all the characters are aware of it. Until the return of Wally West / The Flash many of the main players were completely in dark of that fact, and only recently did Barry Allen / The Flash and Batman embark on a mystery that lead them back to the “FlashPoint” that stared it all.

Now events are beginning to coalesce for our heroes, and the Batman has uncovered a new mystery that strikes at the heart of the very multiverse — the core of the very Earth in fact. Whatever is going on, it’s affecting metal — and is having a distinct affect on metals with certain mystical or supernatural properties. It’s also triggered something that Batman has kept hidden inside Superman’s Fortress of Solitude — something that looks very familiar.

The Batman convinces Mister Miracle to trip the lock to a seal compartment underneath the fortress and inside resides a pillar — a antenna of sorts — used by the Monitor to prevent his evil alter-ego the Anti-Monitor from unleashing his anti-matter wrath on the multiverse during the first Crisis. While Batman investigates the device which has come online, deep beneath the Batcave, Green Lantern follows a path that leads him to non-other than the Joker!

How all this comes together is anyone’s guess for the moment, but scribe Scott Snyder has revealed that he’s been laying down the framework for “Dark Days” ever since he started his work on Batman. Now collaborating with James Tynion IV the pair are opening the gates of what is being dubbed the “Dark Multiverse”. How our heroes will fare against what’s in store? We’ll just have to grit our teeth as the prelude to Dark Days: “Metal” begins with “The Forge”!

Dark Days: THE FORGE #1 written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and is out now published by DC Comics.

DC Comics :: TITANS #12 Reveals an Omen

One among them will betray them! Ever since Wally West returned from “elsewhere” the TITANS have had a hard time pulling it all together and now some searing revelations reveal there may be a wolf in the fold.

The Teen Titans have come to mean a great deal to fans over the course of their long history since first appearing as an official team-up when the group of teenage “sidekicks” first banded together in The Brave and the Bold #54 published in July of 1964. For most comic book readers, these characters including the Boy Wonder Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy, Aqualad and Wonder Girl resonated the most with its audience because in essence, the Teen Titans represented “us” — eager, young and  imaginative do-gooders who wanted to swing into adventure!

Well into the Silver Age and then into the Modern Age of comics, by the time Marv Wolfman returned to writing The New Teens Titans he’d recruited then still-emerging fan-favorite George Pérez to relaunch the title with an all-new, all-different line-up. The 1980’s reboot easily became the most popular monthly book and a ratings hit for DC Comics. Still to this day, those stories mark a major shift in the narrative and changed the way superheroes would be looked at.

When the recent “FlashPoint” event all-but erased the original Titans from history, there was a major outcry from fans and it wasn’t long before the creatives responded. The “Road to Rebirth” the more recent, publishing-wide reboot of the comics line began with writer Dan Abnett taking a look at some missing time in Titans Hunt which brought back the original founding members alongside Lilith Clay an obscure member from the Bronze Age of the Teen Titans storyline that has since assumed full status as a member of the reformed Titans as the telepath Omen.

History Lesson

After the recent return of Wally West the one-time, original Kid Flash who assumed the mantle of the Flash after his mentor Barry Allen was lost during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, fans rejoiced imagining that the time stream would now begin to reassert itself and things will get set right! Unfortunately what we learned is that there have been some major manipulations to the current continuity (Watchmen anyone?) and nothing is exactly where it should be! If that wasn’t enough — 10 years have apparently just been erased! Poof!

In the crossover event “The Lazarus Contract” which impacted the Titans, its companion title Teen Titans and centered on the mercenary Deathstroke several revelations were made, including the fact that Slade Wilson’s son the Ravager’s death, an early adversary of the reformed Teen Titans who faced the H.I.V.E. and the mercenaries in the now classic The New Teen Titans #2 published in 1980. Though this crossover team-up was the first event that brought members of the two Titans teams together, current history sees these past events differently.

Following a recent revelation fans are still left asking “Who is Donna Troy”? Will the Titans have to confront the truth sooner rather than later?

Following “The Lazarus Contract” there are some significant consequences on all sides, but especially among the Titans roster. Most obviously is the return Wally West’s heart condition which was miraculously healed at the conclusion of Crisis after he assumed the identity of Flash. It is also revealed that Nightwing had made a pact with Deathstroke that has compromised his standing with the rest of the Titans. There are also several other mysteries surrounding new revelations about Donna Troy’s origins and the “other” Wally West and current Kid Flash!

 

Psimon Says

In order to learn more about their existing predicament, Omen decides to pay a visit to the recently apprehended villain known as Psimon. The mentalist and his Fearsome Five recently battled the Titans and in the process stole the memories of Karen Duncan who is also a metahuman and one-time Teen Titan known as Bumblebee. It is Omen’s goal to be able to extract some information from Psimon in the hope that he will shed some light on how they can help Karen. The interview unearths several other secrets!

Among those secrets that one among them isn’t who they appear to be, and that still another will betray the Titans! Given that for all intents these Titans are still learning the ropes and piecing their lives together, it’s anyone’s guess exactly how these events will play out. It’s encourage to see that Tempest the now grown-up Aqualad is moving into a potentially more prominent place among the group. In the past Garth had been relegated to background, or the forefront of any “water related” cases, but never really stuck around.

Roy Harper the archer known as Arsenal who emerged on the scene as the original Titan Speedy had recently worked alongside the renegade Red Hood as one of his Outlaws, but seeing as how Donna Troy and Flash are getting closer, Arsenal’s unrequited attraction to Troy may play a significant role in upcoming issues. As for Nightwing, it’s clear that he’s assumed his place as the proper leader of the group, but there is still a lot to unpack as the Titans and the Teen Titans try to make sense of missing time and still-unwritten history that is unraveling the Titans legacy!

Titans #12 “Bad Omen” is written by Dan Abnett with art by Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown and is published by DC Comics.

DC Comics Rebirth Continues :: BATMAN and THE FLASH “The Button”

The DC Comics two greatest detectives are going to have their work cut out for them when the mystery behind “The Button” that materialized at the onset of the “Rebirth” takes our heroes back to where it all started!

At the onset of the DC Comics “Rebirth” story arc, Wally West, the one-time Kid Flash after having ascended to the mantle of The Flash makes an appeal to the Dark Knight and appears to Batman in the Batcave. Initially the attempt appears a failure, but before Wally moves on to eventually be rescued by his mentor Barry Allen, The Flash, in his wake he leaves something behind for Batman to find. Wedged in a wall inside the Batcave, Batman discovers a curiosity — a strikingly familiar smiley face button with a blood stain across its yellow facade.

But that’s impossible? Isn’t it? That button has no place within the context of the DC Universe…or does it?

Uncovering that mystery is the task that has befallen the DC Universe’s two most dedicated detectives! It’s a conundrum that may answer who has interfered with with timeline causing the nearly 10 years of missing time that Wally West insists has upset the balance of events in the wake of the “FlashPoint” event which rebooted the entire DC Comics multiverse more than 5-years ago. The Flash’s attempt at altering his past had a butterfly affect across the timeline which resulted in an alternate past, present and future for our heroes.

For nearly all that time, most of the heroes have gone on with their lives as usual, but when Wally returned and Superman was revealed to have been split into two and only restored to his whole self recently, history has appeared to have fractured. It would seem that one of the Flash’s rogues, the time-traveling Reverse-Flash Eobard Thawne, may have a hand in this mess, but after coming in contact with the button himself, Thawne blinked out of existence only to return seconds later — and then murdered by some unseen force (see Batman #21).

 

Using the Cosmic Treadmill (a blast from the past), The Flash and Batman attempt to chase down the energy source that Thawne was himself tracking, and along the way, the pair uncover missing pieces of their own history — “the missing time” is revealed to them — but not before the treadmill hits a slight bump and falls apart landing our heroes in the “FlashPoint” version of events (see The Flash #21) — and someone is waiting for them, someone that shouldn’t even exist!

As it turns out, the “FlashPoint” reality which should have never existed after The Flash worked to correct the mistakes he made that resulted in the “FlashPoint” event. When Barry Allen prevented himself from changing the past, he caused events t reassert — the result was the present continuity of “The New 52” timeline. Batman comes face-to-face with the “FlashPoint” Batman, his father Thomas Wayne who assumes the role of Gotham City’s vigilante grief riddled after losing his family in a dark alley to a mugger.

Both our heroes make a hasty retreat from the “FlashPoint” timeline (which shouldn’t exist in the first place, but there was another instance during the “Convergence” event where parts of this timeline did survive) — someone clearly not happy that Batman and The Flash discovered this “pocket timeline” immediately work to eradicate its existence! Having quickly repaired the Cosmic Treadmill they resume their chase of Thawne, who out paces them, as the villain races towards his fate and the source of the energy that is responsible for — the button!

Legacies Revealed

With fans and critics both not entirely thrilled with the changes that took place following “FlashPoint”, the DC Comics creative staff went to work on a plausible excuse to retcon plenty of “The New 52” narrative that established a leaner and meaner Justice League, a younger roguish Superman, a demigod Wonder Woman, and left other icons like Batman pretty much untouched. The DC Comics multiverse had returned, and the events of the very first Crisis were also erased; the most obvious casualty in this latest reboot — the fabled legacies were gone!

With 75 years of continuity to its name, and a “Golden Age” that leads to a “Silver Age” and a “Modern Age” that is considerably still evolving having worked itself out of a “Dark Age” into a full blown renaissance — which is what “Rebirth” is hoping to help recapture.

“The Button” is alluding to the presence of an all-powerful being that stole a considerable amount of time right out from under our heroes noses! There are now a handful of characters that are aware of this including Wally West (his teammates in the Titans), Batman, The Flash, Superman and to some extent even Wonder Woman (who’s discovering that her mythological origins may be false). There’s only one individual within the realm of the DC Comics multiverse that could wield that much power, but just how the characters of the Watchmen play into this story…

Well, that’s still developing. After all the button in question belongs to the vigilante super-agent known as The Comedian from the world of the Watchmen, and for all his bravado, that character is just a machine gun toting hired assassin. Is he trying to warn the heroes of the DC Universe continuity about a larger threat? Perhaps he is an emissary for Dr. Manhattan — in any event readers will find out soon enough!

One of the caveats of the “Rebirth” storyline promises to restore the “Golden Age” heroes as well as lay down the foundation for the heroic future of the Legion of Super Heroes. There are two displaced characters that are still playing a significant role in our story, but with the final act still some distance away, at least the return of one other speedster is guaranteed to shed some light on the situation!

“The Button” story arc is playing out in Batman #21 —  Part One written by Dan Jurgens with art by Ian Churchill is on sale now from DCComics and continues in The Flash #21, Batman #22, and concludes in The Flash #22.

Free COMIC BOOK DAY to Honor an Icon

With so much riding on and the growing anticipation for one of this summer’s most films, WB and DC Entertainment is banking that Wonder Woman will be on everyone’s mind. So to get fans ready for the arrival of the Amazing Amazon on the big screen (not once, but twice in 2017) on Saturday, May 6 otherwise known nationally as Free Comic Book Day retailers will be filling bags with these offerings from DC Comics.

 

Special “Free Comic Book Day” Editions of Wonder Woman’s early year as a super heroine is explored in the Wonder Woman Special Edition #1 by Greg Rucka and for the young reader DC Super Hero Girls #1 features a chapter from the graphic novel “Summer Olympus”. Don’t miss out on these wonderful adventures on “Free Comic Book Day”.

Check with your local retailer for details.