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A #MeToo Moment for the Time Variance Authority, Plus: In These Issues, X-Men Will Die! [X-ual Healing 8-15-18]
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities, but with a corporate merger on the way, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
Welcome to X-ual Healing, the fourth most popular article on Bleeding Cool last week! If you're new to this column, the basic premise is that Marvel puts out a lot of X-books each week. This week, there's five. Next week, there's eight. It varies, but it can be quite X-pensive to follow all the X-ploits of your favorite mutants. So in the event you didn't get to read every X-book that hit stores last week, fear not! We're reading them all each week, and every Sunday, we'll tell you what happened in the ones you might have missed, make a few jokes about it, and link to Marvel Unlimited for some back issue research where applicable.
For the X-Men, dying (and subsequently coming back to life) is just another part of the lifestyle. This is a particularly death-heavy week even for the X-Men. Let's dispense with the pretense and get right down to it.
EXTERMINATION #1 (of 5)
ED BRISSON (W) • PEPE LARRAZ (A)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
Variant Cover by OLIVIER COIPEL
Variant Cover by PEPE LARRAZ
VARIANT COVER BY AMANDA CONNER
Connecting Variant Cover by MIKE HAWTHORNE
Cyclops. Iceman. Angel. Beast. Marvel Girl. The original team of teen mutants brought together by Professor Charles Xavier many years ago have been shunted through time to find a world they barely recognize but were determined to help. Now, finding themselves targeted for death, the future of mutantkind lies squarely in the hands of its past. Writer Ed Brisson (OLD MAN LOGAN, CABLE) and artist Pepe Larraz (UNCANNY AVENGERS, AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER) answer the biggest question of all: can the fate of the X-Men be changed?
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99
20 years in the future, a mysterious cloaked figure visits the ruins of the Xavier Institute, where dead X-Men are strewn about, remarking "That old bastard screwed this all up, leaving me to clean up his mess. He heads off into the past to set things right. In the present, in Chicago, the X-Men Blue (Iceman, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Bloodstorm, and Beast) save two young mutants from an angry mob. The mutants are French, and have no memory prior to this day. They leave them at the Xavier Institute with Kitty Pryde and Dr. Cecelia Reyes, while Cyclops and Bloodstorm head to a Thai food restaurant for a date.
Just as the couple tries to enjoy a moment of happiness and simplicity, the mutant-hunter Ahab crashes the party with several hounds. Mid-battle, Bloodstorm is stabbed through the test by a silver-laced harpoon, killing her. Enraged, Cyclops lets loose the full force of his optic blasts and Ahab retreats to fight another day. In the aftermath, as Cyclops calls a "code blue," Iceman is attacked by the mysterious cloaked figure from earlier. Luckily, Cable is there to have his back, but Iceman is incapacitated. At the Xavier school, Prestige recognizes Ahab from Cyclops' description, and everyone notices Iceman hasn't checked in.
In the clothing store where Iceman was ambushed, the cloaked figure faces down Cable, scolding him for allowing the time-displaced X-Men to remain in the present. Cable argues that it was a risk worth taking. The cloaked figure kills him, causing a psychic backlash back at the mansion where Marvel Girl was looking for Iceman with Cerebro. The cloaked figure kidnaps Iceman before the X-Men Blue arrive, soon joined by X-Men Red's Jean Grey and Nightcrawler. As everyone mourns the losses, the cloaked character puts Iceman in a stasis tube at his mysterious base and reveals himself to be… a younger version of Cable!
Death toll: 2 main characters, though at least one was killed by a younger version of himself who may take his place.
Due to the time-travel-y nature of this story, there's a chance that both of these deaths will be undone, but the Bloodstorm one certainly feels more permanent… as far as any X-Men death can be. The sudden nature of Bloodstorm's death puts it in the second category of X-Men deaths, those that come not at the epic climax of a heroic story arc, like Phoenix dying on the moon, but rather suddenly in the midst of a story, like Warlock in the beginning of X-Tinction Agenda, or Doug Ramsey, killed in action in New Mutants #50 while none of the other New Mutants are even paying attention. Since Bloodstorm's story, as well as her relationship with teen Cyclops, seems far from complete, the death has a special kind of emotional impact. Of course, it might also feel a bit like a fridging, though all signs indicate that we might expect Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men Blue team to follow suit before this event is done, along with more mutants.
The road to the next era of the X-Men, and the Uncanny X-Men relaunch, has begun, but while Extermination is just kicking off, there's still quite a few issues of the previous era's X-books to wrap up (or in the case of Cable/Deadpool Annual, previous previous previous previous eras), so let's see what else happened this week.
HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: CLAWS OF A KILLER #4 (of 4)
MARIKO TAMAKI (W) • BUTCH GUICE (A/C)
VARIANT COVER BY GEOFF SHAW
WILL TIME RUN OUT?
The clock is ticking as Sabretooth, Daken and Deathstrike slice their way through the leagues of the undead in search of Logan.They won't all make it out alive.
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99
In Hunt for Wolverine: Claws of a Killer #4, Sabretooth faces his dead, now alive and working for Soteira, son, Graydon, while Lady Deathstrike faces her dead, now alive and working for Soteira father, learning it was his adamantium she's been tracking. He slices off one of her hands, but she kills him. She meets up with Sabretooth and kills Graydon, and the pair make their escape. They locate the glowing green egg that kicked off the Maybelle, Arizona zombie attack and blow it up, killing all the zombies. In the aftermath, Soteira captures Daken's corpse and plans to use him for future black ops missions. Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike escape and resolve to get Deathstrike a new arm so that nobody reading Weapon X needs to even know this happened.
Death toll: 2 named zombies, plus a bunch of other zombies. Daken is maybe dead, to be brought back as a zombie.
We've established that the Hunt for Wolverine event, with two one-shots and four mini-series, and without even the actual return of Wolverine, which will happen in the subsequent Return of Wolverine mini-series, is completely pointless. That doesn't mean it wouldn't have been possible to tell some decent stories in its framework, but it was a mistake to drag each of these minis out to four issues when either one 6-issue mini would have sufficed for the whole event. Each of the stories, including this one, could have been told in a single one-shot, and stretching them out only served to dilute the story and drag out Wolverine's return to the point where we already wish he would be killed off again and he's not even back yet.
ASTONISHING X-MEN ANNUAL #1
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W) • Travel Foreman (A)
Cover by ROD REIS
VARIANT COVER BY KHARY RANDOLPH
Jean Grey and the original X-Men reunite! Following her resurrection, Jean Grey can no longer make sense of her life since becoming an X-Man. Who better to relate to this than Hank McCoy, Warren Worthington III and Bobby Drake? But this reunion will prove bittersweet when they're joined by an unexpected guest…the former Professor Charles Xavier, X! Why has X revealed himself to his former students? And what strange mission does he want to send them on?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
In Astonishing X-Men Annual #1, the surviving adult original X-Men (Beast, Jean Grey, Archangel, and Iceman) meet at a restaurant in the town of Lago, which has not appeared in past X-men stories, though this issue retcons a lot of history for it. This restaurant is where Professor X took the X-Men to celebrate after their first mission. After a brief trip down memory lane, the X-Men all reflect on how miserable their lives have been since becoming mutant superheroes. Jean in particular wishes she hadn't been brought back to life again. Their moping is interrupted by X, the reincarnated brain of Charles Xavier in the body of Fantomex (see earlier issues of Astonishing X-Men).
X introduces himself and invites the X-Men to stay at his new mansion and see how nice the town of Lago is. Everyone in the town seems to be nice… a little too nice, perhaps. After one man explodes with random mutant hatred at Beast and Iceman in a diner and is then carted away by apologetic townsfolk, Beast heads off to investigate and goes missing. At this point, X reveals that he actually had an ulterior motive for bringing the X-Men here. This town is under the control of Lucifer, who the X-Men faced back in X-Men #9. He's been taking control of all the townspeople, and now he has Beast.
X and the X-Men locate Lucifer and a battle ensues. X frees Beast from Lucifer's control, but Beast is upset. Lucifer had taken away his pain and suffering, as he had for the other townspeople. Lucifer tries to gain control of all the X-Men, but Archangel stops it by slicing off his head. The X-Men have some questions for X, but he takes his leave, wiping their memories of the events. The next day, the X-Men meet at the same restaurant with seemingly no memory of what happened (except, perhaps, for Archangel, who stays mostly silent. This time, instead of moping, Jean tells the X-Men how proud she is of them for all they've accomplished.
Death toll: dozens or more of Lucifer's followers, plus Lucifer's host body, though Lucifer himself can presumably come back again someday.
With the hundreds of X-Men characters and multiple ongoing series, it was nice to see the original X-Men (and original X-Factor), minus poor Cyclops, reunited and spending some time together as friends and equals. Once the weekly Uncanny X-Men 10-part opener ends, could we see an X-Factor series in the future with the original 4? Or maybe 5, if Marvel admits they were wrong and brings back Cyclops?
CABLE AND DEADPOOL ANNUAL #1
David F. Walker (W) • Paco Diaz and others (A)
COVER BY Chris Stevens
VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE TIME IS NIGH!
History's favorite duo are back together, and just in time! When Deadpool is hired to protect a woman from time-hopping villains, it's only a matter of time until he breaks the timestream. Fortunately, his old pal Cable has some experience with that. But dark secrets have put the client, and reality itself, in more danger than either of our heroes could have foreseen! David F. Walker, Paco Diaz, and a host of stellar guest artists take Cable and Deadpool on an adventure of epic proportions!
32 PGS. /Rated T+ …$3.99
In Cable & Deadpool Annual #1, Cable is recruited by Dr. Justin Gamble, rogue agent of the Time Variance Authority (and Doctor Who homage) to save his mother from an assassination by evil future robots called Incinerators (basically Daleks). You can read more about both in Power Man and Iron Fist #79 and Avengers Annual #22. Using a time-plunger given to him by Gamble, Deadpool heads to 1979 and gets in a fight with a street gang protecting his "mother," who denies any association. He's interrupted by Cable, who explains that Gamble gave him the plot of Terminator. When the Incinerators attack, Deadpool, Cable, and Deadpool's mom timeslide away.
After a brief jaunt through time to a pirate ship and a battle with a giant squid, the group heads to a TVA Chron-Station in the Wild West, where Deadpool's mom explains she isn't his mom, but Agent Ali Ciad of the Time Variant Authority. Gamble was her instructor, and the Harvey Weinstein of the TVA, crushing on Agent Ciad and refusing to take no for an answer. That's why he sent Deadpool after her. Deadpool trades his time plunger to Agent Ciad for her timesliding cybernetic eyeball. Gamble arrives with a gang of gunmen, and a battle ensues. Ciad escapes using the time plunger, and Cable and Deadpool escape into the timestream, leading to a lot of fourth-wall breaking as Deadpool pulls a Scott McCloud and explains how comics work. Since they switched timeslide devices, Gamble follows Cable and Deadpool's trail instead. In an undisclosed location in the timestream, a final confrontation occurs. Ciad shows up decked out in time warrior gear, while Deadpool uses the eyeball to grab a future version of himself (and a new cybernetic arm for Cable, who lost his earlier), and they kill a bunch of dinosaurs while Ciad kicks Gamble's ass for being a sexual harasser. The Time Variance Authority takes him into custody and Deadpool and Cable watch Terminator.
Death toll: just a bunch of cannon fodder.
Like the Astonishing X-Men Annual before it, the Cable & Deadpool Annual offered a chance for a one-and-done story, and in this case, it wasn't tied to any of the continuity of the other X-books. It was funny enough, as far as Deadpool comics can be funny, not really in a laugh out loud kind of way, but worth a few smirks. Bleeding Cool's own Josh Davison has higher expectations for Deadpool humor, but give him time to grow more cynical and he'll learn to appreciate the small victories, like any Deadpool comic that isn't the current ongoing. Woof!
MULTIPLE MAN #3 (of 5)
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W)
ANDY MACDONALD (A)
Cover by MARCOS MARTIN
THE WAR FOR THE FUTURE IS NOW!
BECAUSE WE'RE IN THE FUTURE!
Jamie Madrox — the X-Man you tell people is your favorite to seem cool — is trapped and his allies are dropping like flies! With the enemy closing in, Jamie has time to make one last desperate move… But he'll need Forge's help to evade a familiar new villain that threatens the future, the present and the past of the Marvel Universe!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Multiple Man #3, in it's own unique way, tries to make some sense out of the chaos of the two previous issues. It begins with Hulk Jamie dead and the invading fascist dupe police about to crush the existence. Warlock Jamie tells Jamie to rescue the younger versions of the time-traveling dupes so that they can save the timeline. The three remaining time-traveling dupes (Warlock Jamie, Dr, Strange Jamie, and Deadpool Jamie) stay behind to hold off the invaders, who have brought a Juggernaut Jamie. All three eventually die, while Jamie gets four time-travel devices from Forge's disembodied head and sends each of the dupes off to find The Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Tony Stark, the X-Men, and the Avengers. One of them is killed before getting away (which is why there were only four time-traveling dupes in previous issues, we guess.
Jamie, Davey (resistance leader and son of the original Jamie and Layla Miller), and Forge are cornered by the police, but Deadpool Jamie arrives to kill them and hand over the time beacon given to him by the X-Men back in our present. Davey pulls the one remaining time bracelet off the dead dupe, but while he and Jamie argue over who should lose it, a grenade is thrown into the room. To save the others, Forge puts the grenade in his head tank and sacrifices himself. Emperor Jamie shows up and, after some debate over which of them is the leader, shoots Davey in the head. Jamie is brought to the palace of Emperor Jamie, which is decorated with some upcycled accessories like Archangel's skeleton and a Beast skin rug. In X-pository conversation, Emperor Jamie and Jamie reveal that they were already villains when they were in the bunker (around the time of House of M). Jamie makes a plea to Emporer Jamie to have a change of heart, but Emporer Jamie cuts off his head instead. Layla wasn't present for the bunker invasion because she was at yoga class, which might come up again later.
Death toll: 3 main character dupes, a bunch of cannon fodder dupes, a named bad guy dupe, Forge by sacrificial suicide, Davey, and the main character of the book. Layla survived the attack though because she was at yoga.
This comic walks a fine line between being too snarky for its material to be taken seriously and being just snarky enough to show love for its subject through mockery. As such, we find it's a comic we can truly identify with. It also has the benefit of being a pet project of incoming Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg, so we can probably expect it to have some ramifications for the next era of the X-Men.
WEAPON X #22
GREG PAK & FRED VAN LENTE (W)
YILDIRAY CINAR (A)
Cover by RAHZZAH
A FRESH START FOR WEAPON X!
They were hunters who became the hunted… They were enemies forced to become allies… They were a ticking time bomb that had no choice but to fall apart… Out of the ashes of Team Weapon X, a new crew is borne! Sabretooth is putting together a team that is willing to do what other X-Men won't, willing to wade into blood and filth to protect mutantkind! But who will make the cut? Don't miss the debut of WEAPON X-FORCE!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Weapon X-Force make their debut in Weapon X #22 as this book does its best to survive the looming (12-issue) death of previous leader, Old Man Logan. Working for new leader Mystique, Sabretooth, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, and Domino run a sting operation on Gar-Kuva of Breakworld, both busting him and taking the money he was going to pay for nuke pills the team acquired in a previous mission. Afterward, Domino is about to take her cut and go join back up with Warpath, but Sabretooth reveals they have a new job, to rescue Monet on behalf of her parents. Domino agrees to come along, mostly because she find's Sabretooth's concern for Money cute (see Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4).
Monet is being held captive by a religious cult in Colorado, so Mystique and Sabretooth infiltrate its church. Monet is brought onstage by the cult leader, and she exposes Sabretooth and Mystique, revealing that she lured them there on purpose. The rest of Weapon X-Force crash the party, but the cult leader reveals himself to be Mentallo. He's been controlling Monet, and he tries to take control of Sabretooth, but Deathstrike injects him with nanobots so he can resist. She does the same to Monet, freeing her, but before they can exact revenge on Mentallo, Deadpool shows up, also apparently under the control of Mentallo (or working for him), and attacks.
Death toll: Shockingly, this is the one book this week in which no one was killed.
Well, if you can't have a Wolverine on your team, pretty much the one thing comparable is guest appearances by Deadpool. The best outcome, however, would be for Monet to join the team after this story arc, so we're gonna hope for that.
WEAPON H #6
GREG PAK (W) • ARIO ANINDITO (A)
Cover by PHILIP TAN
RETURN OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR
VARIANT COVER BY J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
BLOOD ON THE FLAG!
• Monsters are on the loose, and that means Weapon H is on the hunt!
• But to the red, white and blue, there's only one real monster: the Hulkverine himself.
• Captain America and Weapon H clash at last!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Roxxon CEO Dario Agger wants Weapon H to lead a band of misfits (Dr. Ella Stirling, a Brood/human hybrid named Blake, and the Man-Thing, through a dimensional portal to Weirdworld, where a bloodthirsty race of extra-dimensional beings called the Skrullduggers are waiting to invade and start eating humans. Stirling suggests Roxxon just turn off the portal instead, which the team agrees with, but Agger doesn't want to because then they won't be able to exploit Wierdworld for money. Weapon H and the team leave, reasoning Agger will have no choice but to shut things down, but instead he orders his scientist, Dr. Baines, to leave it on. Skrullduggers invade as Weapon H and his wife, Sonia, are planning to start over somewhere where their kids, and a battle commences. The Skrullduggers are sort of flying dragon monsters, but they're no match for a Hulkverine in one-on-one combat. Instead, drawing from the Skrull part of their name, they head to a nearby playground and pose as children.
Weapon H can smell them still, but before he can slice up a few monsters posing as kids, Captain America arrives, mistakes the situation, and attacks Weapon H. Eventually, Sonia and Dr. Stirling arrive and draw out the Skrullduggers, the misunderstanding is cleared up, Cap and Weapon H kill the monsters, Sonia lectures them both, and Cap agrees to team up with Weapon H next issue to track down the rest of the Skrullduggers.
Death toll: a bunch of nameless alien invaders.
DEADPOOL: ASSASSIN #5 (of 6)
CULLEN BUNN (W) • MARK BAGLEY (A/C)
VARIANT COVER BY DAVE JOHNSON
• The Assassins Guild has been hunting Deadpool and the people he cares about, but they messed with the wrong Merc!
• IN THIS ISSUE – Deadpool and his pals take the fight to the guild and hit 'em where they live…LITERALLY.
• I mean it! Deadpool and co. ATTACK THE ASSASSINS GUILD HEADQUARTERS…AND NOT EVERYBODY MAKES IT OUT ALIVE!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99
In Deadpool Assassin #5, Deadpool leads hired mercs from the Hellhouse in an assault against the Assassins Guild. All of the generic mercs and assassins die before Belladonna shows up with the named D-list assassins. It doesn't matter, as Deadpool kills all of them and Belladonna. Meanwhile, Threnody is hiding out with Weasel and his wife, Clarice, when the assassins attack. Threnody has been storing death energy, and she uses her powers to kill the assassins, but not before Weasel takes a sword through the chest. Deadpool arrives soon after to find Weasel dying. He tells Deadpool that Threnody has kidnapped Clarice. In Threnody's lair, she reveals she's been storing death energy for her baby, but it's not enough and the baby is still hungry.
Death toll: The entire assassins guild, including several named (but D-list) bad guys, plus Belladonna, and maybe Weasel.
Well, that took an unexpected turn. It was a bloody week in X-Men comics next week. Next week should be light, with just four X-books hitting stores, though we can't speak for how many characters will die.
Extermination wins the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week for punching us in the feels with the death of Bloodstorm! Congratulations to the creative team on your blood award. We hope you're happy.
We also realized we forgot to award a Wolverine's Weiner for last week, so we're going to retroactively give one of the most coveted weekly grilled meat-themed comics awards to last week's Domino #5. Congratulations to the creative team on this honor.
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