Two ancillary X-Men series come to an end this week, as we've seen so many do in the past few years. As we move into the next era of X-Men, will Marvel figure out a strategy to make a non-core title last more than 12 issues? We'll talk about it as we recap this week's X-books…
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.
Uncanny X-Men #9
(W) Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, Matthew Rosenberg (A) Yildiray Cinar (CA) Giuseppe Camuncoli
From the Age of Apocalypse to the end of the X-Men…and the dawn of the AGE OF X-MAN???
In Shops: Jan 09, 2019
As we saw last issue, X-Man now inhabits the body of Legion, basically making him an omega-level mutant squared. He grabs ahold of Multiple Man and tries to make a bunch of dupes out of him to mind-control, but it turns out the real Jamie got scared and left, leaving behind a dupe who can't duplicate. So plan B for X-Man is to draft Storm into his Horsemen of Salvation and direct them to attack the X-Men. Armor grabs Rockslide and Glob Herman to join her in a giant armor hamster wheel, into which she pulls the Horsemen while Jean Grey contacts every mutant who's ever been a member of the X-Men and invites them to join the battle. Sure, just drop whatever you're doing everyone, like this is the only world-threatening event going on in the Marvel Universe right now!
While this is going on, Beast hypocritically lectures Anole for stealing the mutant cure he invented and giving it to the government. Only Beast could be pissed off at someone else over something that's so clearly his own fault. Also, Apocalypse tries to kill Senator Allen but Kitty saves him. Will it change his feelings on mutants? Will we even ever see him again, or will everyone forget we already one and create a new generic anti-mutant politician a few issues from now?
The Horsemen threaten to kill Armor, Glob, and Rockslide if Armor doesn't let them out of her hamster ball, so she reluctantly sets them free. X-Man has gone full mustache-twirling villain at this point, ranting about how the X-Men feared their children (X-Man and Legion) the same way humans feared mutants, and he's got to kill all the X-Men so that he can be the only one, the next stage of evolution, you know, the usual stuff. But before he can do that, he'll have to beat all of the X-Men Jean contacted earlier, because Pixie has gone and teleported them all to the battle.
He'll have to do that next week though.
It's been three straight issues of a battle between the X-Men and Legion, with one of those issues taking a detour to the Age of Apocalypse. And the battle won't conclude until next issue, where presumably X-Man will win, since it's his Age and all that coming up. Then we're getting Cyclops and Wolverine back and Uncanny X-Men will settle down to bi-weekly shipping (but alongside multiple Age of X-Man mini-series and specials). Then Marvel is going to have to top that, possibly with that big X-Men crossover Rob Liefeld has been talking about. Maybe they can ship two issues of Uncanny every week, alongside 10 mini-series and an 8-issue event book that eventually gets delayed and has two extra issues added? That's probably where this is headed. The only question is, will Marvel let Chris Claremont write any of them? Oh, and also, whose turn is it to die to make sure we understand this is serious?
(W) Mariko Tamaki (A) Diego Olortegui (CA) Ashley Witter
Laura and Gabby face the creators of the X-Assassin…and find they might not agree on what to do about this barely human killer.
In Shops: Jan 09, 2019
No sooner had X-23, Honey Badger, and Beast brought the cyborg X-23 clone to federal super-villain prison The Tank than the facility was invaded by masked, armed soldiers looking to steal the clone back. Laura and Gabby aren't having that, so Gabby beats them all up and Laura slings the clone on her back as they hitch a ride with Beast in his X-Copter and head back to the X-Mansion. During the escape, the clone is grazed by a bullet in her face, and back at Beast's lab, she still hasn't healed. Beast's testing reveals that, in addition to no healing factor, there are some other subtle differences between the clone and Laura and Gabby.
Cue a cut to the headquarters of Medi-X-Tronics, where Dr. Robert Chandler, the former head of Alchemax who created Gabby and her sisters, and who previously developed the trigger scent used to force Laura to assassinate people by sending her into a berserker rage. It looks like he's back at it, and he's planning to sell a bunch of these new cyborg clones, dubbed X-Assassins, to various shady governments. This clone is an improvement on past designs because it has no humanity at all.
Back at the X-Mansion, Laura warns Gabby not to get too close to the X-Assassin since the only thing they know about it is that it's a killing machine. Gabby, however, only cares that X-Assassin is her sister, so she grabs some cookies and sneaks down to the lab at night to share some snacks and tell X-Assasin her origin story.
Thus far, Marvel has iterated on Wolverine to create X-23, and then on X-23 to create Honey Badger, each time improving on the previous version. Can we expect the same here?
(W) Gail Simone (A) David Baldeon, Alberto Alburquerque, Anthony Piper, Michael Shelfer (CA) Lim, Gang Hyuk
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!
• You saw her on the silver screen, now Domino's live and direct from the Mojoverse!
• Can you guess which special guest is along for the ride?
• The answer's a real long shot…
In Shops: Jan 09, 2019
It's the final issue of Domino…sort of. More on that later. Last issue ended on a cliffhanger, with Longshot falling to his doom off a skyscraper after a battle with Domino. Domino dives off after him, catching him before they hit the ground and surviving, thanks to one or both of their luck powers. Shoon'kwa shows up, thanks Domino for her help, and prepares to kill Longshot, who was at the center of her latest apocalyptic vision. Domino isn't having that though, so a battle breaks out, ended by Outlaw taking out Shoon'kwa, who we're calling Atlas Bear now. Okay.
After Atlas Bear wakes up, Domino, Diamondback, Outlaw, and Longshot convince her to follow them to Mojoworld so that Longshot can get medical treatment. They head there, to Planet Orphan, where a fancy hospital stands above the slums and only rich people are allowed to get treatment there while everyone else suffers. So basically, it's just like America.
Since they can't get a doctors appointment, the team goes to see the Trashman, a local crimelord and slaver. He's willing to trade weapons and equipment for one of Diamondback's real diamonds, but she switches it for a fake one at the last minute, forcing the gang to escape quickly. They arrive at the hospital just in time to stop some guards from beating up poor people seeking treatment. A big fight breaks out, which our heroes win, and they get Longshot treatment for his ailment, which turns out to have been an allergy to humans.
Leaving the doctors with instructions that they will adopt a Medicare-for-all plan, the team says goodbye to Longshot and heads back to their riverboat headquarters for some rest. When they wake up, Atlas Bear is gone, but she left a note asking to become an official member of the team. As for Longshot, Domino reveals he whispered some words of encouragement to her before they parted, calling her a true hero. The issue ends on a high note but will return as Domino: Hotshots, a new mini-series that adds some more members to the team.
This ending is bittersweet. Domino will be back with a mini-series, but this book's future is unknown after that. Hopefully, that won't be the end of it, as Domino has been the best Deadpool comic on the stands. It's no secret that Marvel has had trouble keeping any non-core X-book going for more than two trades lately. It's a similar story to this week's final book, Iceman, so let's recap that one first…
(W) Sina Grace (A) Nathan Stockman (CA) W. Scott Forbes
• Iceman vs. Mr. Sinister, winner takes all!
• Mr. Sinister finally has Iceman where he wants him.
• But Iceman isn't out for the count yet, as everything Bobby has learned has led up to this moment!
In Shops: Jan 09, 2019
The final issue of Iceman for now… sort of… starts with a memory of Bobby and Jonah on a date in Los Angeles before returning to where we left off last issue, with Mister Sinister having apparently shattered Iceman's body. As it turns out, that was one of Bobby's ice golems, modified with some tech from Forge to be more lifelike than ever. Sinister isn't pleased, but at least he can go ahead with the rest of his plan while finishing Bobby. Sinister's goons attack the Mutant Pride celebration, which come to think of it, is probably the wrong place to try to attack.
Emma Frost and her brother Christian are at the event, berating a street vendor about the quality of his items, as is Shade, the mutant drag queen that debuted last issues. Plus, you know, thousands of other mutants and the X-Men. So yeah, those goons are in for it. Back in Sinister's lair, Sinister harpoons Iceman with an electric spear, but Iceman is able to turn parts of his body into vapor to avoid damage, a power upgrade. Back at Mutant Pride, Emma, Christian, Shade, Nightcrawler, Bishop, and a bunch of other mutants make quick work of Sinister's goons only for an army of ice monsters with people trapped inside them to attack next.
Luckily, help is on the way. Iceman turns both his arms into ice spikes and impales Sinister, grows some giant ice wings, busts out through the roof and hurls Sinister into the atmosphere. He heads back down to the street just in time to save Madin from the rampaging ice monsters, absorbing their ice and freeing the prisoners inside, who happen to be all the missing Morlocks. Later, Kitty gives Iceman a mild scolding for not telling her about Mister Sinister and Bobby gets some well-deserved sleep… but future Bobby Drake, Icemaster, is creepily watching from outside the mansion, teasing Uncanny X-Men: Winter's End, the upcoming one-shot that will kind of continue Iceman's story.
This was an excellent finale for a really fun series that's done wonders for Bobby Drake, and it's easily the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week. Yum!
Congratulations to the creative team!
So, Domino started as on ongoing, was canceled, but immediately set to return as a mini-series. Iceman started as an ongoing, was canceled, sold well in trades, and was brought back as a mini. That's over now, but it's coming back as a one-shot tying into Age of X-Man. Will we get more minis after that for either series? It probably depends on whether Marvel can make this mini-series to produce a new trade volume strategy work in the long term. That's hard in the direct market, where comic book readers have been trained to disregard minis that aren't super-mega-crossover events as inconsequential. But to the general public, trade volumes are much more palatable, since you actually get a complete story for your purchase. But the volatility of monthly comics sales makes it a risky prospect, and Marvel hasn't felt like they're too interested in taking risks of late.
Another strategy would be to bring back a title like X-Men Unlimited and make it an anthology, in the style of Marvel Comics Presents, with both serialized stories and one-and-dones. That might be able to survive the monthly market better, and still produce trades with characters that apparently struggle to keep an ongoing title going. Maybe how MCP does will determine whether Marvel will try it some more.
Hopefully, they figure something out because it sucks to buy into a new series only for it to end with less than 20 issues. What do you think they should do? Let us know in the comments.
That's all for this week. Next week is the X-Men Disassembled finale, plus the penultimate issue of Return of Wolverine. It's also the relaunch of Marvel Comics Presents, which we guess is technically an X-Book, since it features Wolverine. See you back here next weekend to talk about them.
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