Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?"
It's been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter's feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel's greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. But that's all over now… supposedly. With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
But will they?!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a "quantity-over-quality" approach to comic booking.
X-MEN BLUE #24
CULLEN BUNN (W)
JORGE MOLINA (A/C)
Cry Havok Part 2
• The X-MEN are missing, but MAGNETO mobilizes against his enemies! His first target: SEBASTIAN SHAW!
• What lengths will MAGNETO go to uncover his enemies' secrets?
• Meanwhile, JIMMY HUDSON and BLOODSTORM face the MALICE-possessed POLARIS!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
The issue opens in London at the Hellfire Club, where Sebastian Shaw is fighting Magneto. Shaw, thanks to a secondary mutation, can now draw kinetic energy from the air around him to power himself up, not that you'd know that or even how his power works, since the comic doesn't explain it. Marvel should hire Chris Claremont to write a few dozen caption boxes on top of every X-Men comic, explaining all the stuff the comics otherwise don't bother to. Shaw has the upper hand on Magneto.
Meanwhile, in the Mojave Desert, where Jimmy Hudson (the Ultimate Universe son of Wolverine) and Bloodstorm (an alternate universe vampire Storm) were tracking some mutants who turned out to be the Ultimate Universe Marauders: Mach 2, Armor, Guardian, and Toad. They're attempting to recruit the regular Marvel Universe Xorn to their team. They get a little pushy, so Xorn zaps them with his star-head powers, but Mach 2 uses her Magneto-like powers to mess with Xorn's helmet. Xorn notes that's a bad idea, since he has a star for a head.
At that moment, Jimmy Hudson and Bloodstorm join the fray. The mutants argue over which alternate universe versions don't belong in this dimension. The Marauders tell Jimmy that he should have stuck with them so their boss, Miss Sinister, could help him with his missing memories (all Wolverines must have missing memories). Bloodstorm has had enough of this, so she has a bunch of bats attack the Marauders, grabs Jimmy and Xorn, and flies away with them.
Back in Madripoor, where Magneto's X-Mansion is, Polaris is in the middle of being possessed by Malice (again). Malice engages in some fine X-pository dialogue. This is the Malice from another universe (the Ultimate one?), sent by Miss Sinister to possess Jean Grey, but Polaris is susceptible to Malices and fell for it first, while Jean is off in space with the other original five teen X-Men.
Malice (as Polaris) attacks the Raksha, a group of local mutant teenagers that idolize Wolverine and are trying to help Magneto. She slices a few of them up, angering Gazing Nightshade…
Gazing Nightshade uses her powers to amplify Malice's remorse, sorrow, and self-doubt, but unfortunately, Malice doesn't have any of those things. Uh oh!
At the Hellfire Club, Shaw is choking out Magneto. He's ranting about Mothervine. Magneto tries to tell him that he's gone too far, but Shaw decides he's going to sacrifice Magneto to Mothervine. As Shaw is about to deliver the killing blow, his secondary mutation backfires and begins draining kinetic energy from Shaw's own cells, causing him to become weak and emaciated. Magneto demands that Shaw bring him to his masters.
Back in Madripoor, Malice continues to inflict brutal (but presumably nonlethal) punishment on the Raksha. However, Polaris begins to fight back. She uses her willpower to overcome Malice's control, but oh no, what has she done?!?!?!
In Barcelona, Briar Raleigh is meeting with Daken, the regular Marvel Universe son of Wolverine, on behalf of Magneto. She gives him some adamantium swords she and Magneto bought on ebay, and tells him to go wreak some havoc with them.
In Scotland, near Magneto's favorite lighthouse, Shaw has brought Magneto to meet with Havoc, Emma Frost, Miss Sinister, and Bastion. Magneto tells them that Mothervine is a bad idea and it's actually causing harm to mutants with the secondary mutations. But Havoc teases Magneto with what we learned issue: Mothervine can make mutants the dominant species on Earth by exponentially increasing their population. And Havok knows Magneto loves a good line-wide status quo change.
TO BE CONTINUED!
X-Men Blue is, in general, a fun X-book that captures a lot of the spirit of what the X-Men are all about. It makes a lot of references to past X-Men stories, which is a good thing, but then it makes us crazy when they miss the opportunity to refer to a past issue or explain a character's origin or powers in a caption box for new readers who want to know more (and can easily obtain back issues thanks to Marvel's new policy on cheap digital comics). That's the kind of thing that can turn the X-Men's dense history into a selling point, but the X-books, more often than not, ignore the possibility. We'll continue to bring it up (and point it out when they do it right) in hopes someone is listening.