Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

You just knew that Marvel couldn't keep their X-books confined to one per week for the length of HoXPoX. This week, we've got recaps of and thoughts on Powers of X #5, Marvel Comics Presents #9, Wolverine Annual #1, and New Mutants: War Children #1.

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 thanks to a corporate merger and a line-wide relaunch, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.

Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

What Happened in Powers of X #5

Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

(W) Jonathan Hickman (A/CA) R. B. Silva
As Cerebro does as it was intended to do, Sinister does what Sinister does best and the future comes to an end. Superstar writer Jonathan Hickman (FF, NEW AVENGERS, INFINITY) continues his reshaping of X-History alongside breakout artist R.B. Silva (UNCANNY X-MEN). The Future of the X-Men begins here!
Rated T+
In Shops: Sep 25, 2019
SRP: $4.99

Following last issue's reveal that Professor X is resurrecting all the dead mutants using magic beanpods, it's time for two more filler issues until the grand finale, starting with this one. We begin with Professor X, in the X0 timeline, asking Forge to build him the machinery needed to make and store backups of the minds of all mutants. Force agrees. This is followed by in info page about Cerebro 7.0 and Xavier's file backup scheme.

In the X1 timelines (that's the present), but shortly before recent events, we see Xavier and Magneto approach Emma Frost in an effort to get her to join their cause. She's skeptical, but when they show her Krakoa and some of their plans, she agrees. They want Emma to use the Hellfire Club to distribute the drugs they'll be giving humans in exchange for sovereignty. In addition to Emma dealing with the countries which have made treaties with Krakoa, they want her to bring back Sebastian Shaw as Black King to deal with the black market for the drugs in the countries that won't play ball. What, Rudy Giuliani wasn't available? Emma agrees in exchange for a 50-year EX-X-XCLUSIVE distribution right as well as three seats on the maybe-temporary government of Krakoa, the Quiet Council, which consists of three slots each for Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer, and two for Krakoa. Xavier and Magneto take up two of the Autumn spots, an infographic shows us, with Frost and Shaw taking two of the Spring slots, and Cypher and Krakoa taking the two Krakoa slots. The rest of the names are redacted for now… could one of the slots be Dan Slott?!

We see Xavier send out his invitation to all mutants to join him on Krakoa, but one mutant doesn't believe Xavier is serious enough about his superiority complex. Namor tells Xavier to return when he truly accepts the superiority of mutants.

In X3, one thousand years in the future, the Phalanx agrees to accept Earth's offer to join with them (the details of which are still not fully explained). They incinerate the elder. Later, the Librarian and Nimrod talk about this, and Nimrod has a theory: first, it explains that some artificial intelligences become so great that they collapse into black holes, and then goes on to explain that the black holes are actually a connected network of societal intelligences. And this makes them hungry, so while they will absorb Earth's collective intelligence, they will also consume the entire planet. The issue finishes with some infographics about all of this which at this point I'm just skimming.

Learning to Love (or Hate) the X-Men Reboot Part 10

At this stage of the game, while HoXPoX overall has been a competent and entertaining enough story as a whole, it's already suffering from one of the major worries I had about Hickman taking over the X-Men in the first place: too much decompression and too much filler. Did this book need to be 12 parts because the story demanded it, or because that made the most sense for Marvel's sales and marketing plans? I'm beginning to feel like it's the latter. The saving grace is that at least it comes out weekly, because waiting a year for this story to be completed would be way too long. A good editor (do those exist anymore?) could have probably trimmed this whole thing down to six issues and we'd all be better off for it, but then what would Marvel have to hype at New York Comic-Con? I'm looking forward to the final issue next week, but we'll need to get through one more filler issue before that. Mostly though, I'm waiting for this to be over so we can start moving forward with new X-Men stories in the Dawn of X (and with some creative variety), and the conclusion of HoXPoX will be more of a relief than anything else. That's not to say that the relaunch as a whole is bad, but simply that it could have delivered its opening statement with a lot more brevity.

What Happened in Marvel Comics Presents #9?

Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

(W) Charles Soule, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler (A) Paulo Siqueira, More (CA) David Yardin
First, Wolverine's decades-long battle with demon the Truth comes to a bloody and brutal finale! Then, head back into the digital world of the .EXE/men to meet their version of Logan!
Rated T+
In Shops: Sep 25, 2019
SRP: $4.99

Marvel's aborted attempt at reviving Marvel Comics Presents ends here, wrapping up what was meant to be the 12-part store of The Vigil in its ninth part. We pick up with Wolverine and his daughter Rien in hell, where they have gone to kill the demon Ron Killings, but ended up finding Sophie, Rien's mom, who Wolverine had sex with after first meeting her as a young girl (ew). Sophie tells them there's no way they can kill The Truth because the truth is everything dies. This gives Wolverine an idea, so Rien and Sophie open a portal back to the time Wolverine first met Sophie back in issue #1. There, like one of those Siamese fighting fish, the present version of the Truth is so angered by seeing his past self that they immediately start battling. Present Sophie and present Wolverine sacrifice themselves to cast a spell that locks them and the two truths in stone for eternity. This leaves Rien in the past with her mom, dad, and grandmother, and apparently in the 616 Marvel Universe.

In a backup story, /u/Wolverine, the cyberpunk .EXE-Men version of Wolverine, murders some bad guys from the Akira Yoshida corporation. This doesn't do it for me, but to each their own.

First of all, let me say that I enjoyed The Vigil as a story. It took a lot of unexpected twists and turns, was true to Wolverine as a character, and even resulted in a potential lasting impact on the Marvel Universe by seemingly introducing Rien into mainstream continuity. But that last part is part of the problem, as that seems to have been the driving purpose of this story all along, and that's not necessarily what Marvel Comics Presents in its original incarnation was all about. That book added to continuity, sure, but it mostly told pulpy serialized stories that didn't necessarily have a continuity-altering agenda. As such, this short-lived Marvel Comics Presents return functioned more as the next in the various Wolverine mini-series that began with Death of Wolverine, rather than as a vehicle to tell the kinds of stories that don't fit in a regular monthly book by a mixture of veteran and up-and-coming creators. And that's a shame, because that was what truly made Marvel Comics Presents special in the 1980s, and that was probably what a lot of fans were hoping for from this new series. Instead, the book is retired once again and the hope of an ongoing Marvel anthology title probably buried with it (that is, unless Fearless, which arguably captures the spirit of MCP as well or better than this revival, turns out to be a major success).

What Happened in Wolverine Annual #1?

Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

(W) Jody Houser (A) Geraldo Borges (CA) David Yardin
Wolverine's lived many lives – X-Man, Avenger…movie star? Not exactly. But he's followed an aspiring young actress to Los Angeles for a little sunshine and some semblance of a normal life. But behind the gilded golden façade of 1930s Hollywood lurks an unholy cult led by MORGAN LE FAY. Their prey…the young Hollywood hopefuls – including Logan's lady! Will the mighty Logan's claws crumble under the onslaught of the arcane sorceress' magical powers? Find out this September!
Rated T
In Shops: Sep 25, 2019
SRP: $4.99

This Acts of Evil story starts out with Wolverine and Spider-Man teaming up to beat up some constructs of the Tinkerer in New York. When Spidey refuses to let Wolverine do what he does best and murder the Tinkerer, Wolverine takes off on his motorcycle to visit an old flame at a retirement home.

The woman, Celia Stroud, isn't happy to see Wolverine, but he insists he's got something to say. This leads us to a flashback to 1938, where we see Wolverine and a young Celia seemingly in love. But Celia just wants Wolverine to take her to Hollywood so she can become a star. He does, and soon after, she dumps him.

But later, while working on a movie set for which Celia is starring, Wolverine is injured and she sees his healing factor. Celia visits Wolverine later and convinces him to come with her to a cult meeting. It's a trap, as Morgan le Fay has gone back in time to possess Celia and get revenge on Wolverine for his future antics. Wolverine beats her, which leaves Celia with a three-claw scar on her chest as le Fay disappears. Wolverine can't face her and leaves.

That's what he came to apologize for, but Celia doesn't hate him for not helping her after that. Instead, she hates him for costing her her deal with le Fay, which would have left her young and beautiful forever. She wants Wolverine to kill her, but he refuses and leaves.

This was a decent one-and-done story that was well-executed, added some more depth to Wolverine's history (which has endless potential), and had an interesting twist with emotional resonance. It wasn't unlike an episode of Doctor Who, which is fitting since Houser is the regular writer of Titan's Doctor Who comic. This would have fit right in with the sort of Wolverine story told in his early solo ongoing or in Marvel Comics Presents.

What Happened in New Mutants: War Children #1?

Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

(W) Chris Claremont (A) Bill Sienkiewicz (CA) Martin Simmonds
Don't miss this momentous event as legendary creators CHRIS CLAREMONT and BILL SIENKIEWICZ reunite with Magik, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Cypher, Mirage, Karma, and Sunspot to share this never before told story of the New Mutants' past! When Warlock experiences a nightmare, he begins going haywire, and it's up to his friends to save him! But as Warlock grows more frenzied, they should be worrying about being able to save themselves…and doubly so when Magik's inner demon, Darkchylde, threatens to break free! Also, a special guest appearance by none other than Kitty Pryde!
Rated T+
In Shops: Sep 25, 2019
SRP: $4.99

Masters Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz reunite for this story set in the past, during the prime era of the New Mutants. The roster of the New Mutants here is Mirage, Magik, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Karma, Magma, Sunspot, Cypher, and Warlock. Kitty Pryde and Lockheed guest star. In this story, Warlock is consumed with worry about his nature and destiny, which is to become the Magus and kill all of his friends. He freaks out and destroys the X-mansion, running off into the woods and infecting the environment around him with his techno-organic virus. The New Mutants investigate the commotion, but Warlock's entire room is infected. Sunspot almost touches it and becomes infected too, but Kitty phases him and Magik teleports the room to Limbo. Mirage gets a message from Hela on her wrist communicator, telling her that her own destiny awaits as well.

The New Mutants head off into the woods, which are void of all life and all infected with techno-organic. Cannonball and Lockheed scout ahead but become infected and turn on their friends. In the ensuing struggle, the New Mutants are infected one by one. When Magik is infected, it simply unleashes the Darkchylde within her, and now she begins terrorizing her remaining friends as well.

Cypher and Wolfsbane run away and meet up with Warlock, who is sulking. Doug talks to him and learns about Warlock's fears. He offers to join with Warlock and face his fate with him. As Douglock, they're able to remove the infection from their friends, and also to separate Illyana from the Darkchylde, allowing them to have a metaphysical swordfight. As Douglock uninfects the entire forest, Mirage tells Hela that none of her friends are dying today, so Hela will need to get her souls elsewhere and Dani will pursue her destiny as a Valkyrie some other time. At the end, the New Mutants resign to blame the Impossible Man for all the damage to the mansion when Professor Xavier sees it.

The story here was basically a framework for Claremont and Sienkiewicz to explore who these characters are once more, and also, of course, for Sienkiewicz to show his art is just as amazing today as it was thirty years ago. Certainly, there are some things here that those interested in analyzing Claremont's writing could extrapolate from. The biggest is the idea that Warlock and Cypher can remove the taint of techno-organic virus so completely and at such a large scale. But mostly, this was focused more on making a statement about the characters and the New Mutants as a whole. The bottom line is that, once again, it's proven to be an absolute crime that Marvel doesn't have Claremont, Sienkiewicz, and other comics legends producing more work on a regular basis than they currently do, particularly Claremont, who they pay to remain Marvel exclusive anyway.

Next week, it's House of X #6!

Read more X-ual Healing here:

Is HoXPoX More Killer or Filler? Plus: Claremont Returns Again [X-ual Healing 9-25-19]

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About Jude Terror

A prophecy once said that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero would come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events. Sadly, that prophecy was wrong. Oh, Jude Terror was right. For ten years. About everything. But nobody listened. And so, Jude Terror has moved on to a more important mission: turning Bleeding Cool into a pro wrestling dirt sheet!
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