One, Two, Kapow Comic Reviews
Editors Note: One of my many tasks on the site is to write the weekly reviews for newly released comics. However, I am currently cut off from my comic shop as I have found myself across the pond, therefore the next three One, Two, Kapow Comic Reviews shall be retro reviews of some of my favorite comics.
Title: X-Men vol.1 #25
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Andy Kubert
Review: Thumbs Up!
Starting my first retro review, I decided why not choose what is one of my favorite comics of all time, X-Men #25. When I grew up reading this comic, it sparked one of the first real emotional reactions I ever had with a comic book. I believe I am not alone with this. One of my, and many others, favorite character at the time, Wolverine had the adamantium ripped off his bones in what is still one of the most intense scenes I’ll ever remember.
The world has grown tired of Magneto flying high above them in the atmosphere on Asteroid M. Forge is tasked with creating a energy mesh that surrounds the Earth so that if Magneto were to return, it would subdue his mutant power. Once activates, Magneto and his acolytes see this as a personal attack that cannot go unpunished. Magneto uses his powers to create a EMP pulse over the atmosphere that disrupts that energy mesh, but also disrupts all electronics on the planet which leads to countless deaths.
The X-Men are temporarily the only ones left on the planet with their electronics intact, thanks to their incorporation of Shi’ar technology. Professor Xavier finally decides the X-Men must stop Magento once and for all and storm Asteroid M. He hand selects a small special team for the mission to sneak in who are better close quarter fighters: Wolverine, Gambit, Jean Grey, Quicksilver, and Rogue. The Professor himself takes lead of the squad, using a special Shi’ar exoskeleton that he can, with great exertion, use his psychic abilities to walk. The X-Men teleport themselves to Asteroid M and use a scrambler, hoping to avoid detection by the security systems. Collossus, who had left the X-Men and joined Magneto after his sister’s death, is on security duty and actually sees his former teammates arrive, but decides not to activate the alarm system. This leads to his intense guilt later over what transpires.
They are able to successfully make their way to the main console for the station and transport all of the acolytes their into escape pods, sending them back down to Earth. With this, Magneto knows someone is on the station and bursts through the room for their final battle. While the brawlers engage him, Jean Grey and Professor Xavier combine their psychic abilities and try to attack him mentally by making him relive his past tragedies.
While Magneto fends off the mental attack and Quicksilver’s physical punches, Wolverine is given the chance to attack from behind and takes it, going for the kill. He slices Magneto across the chest, injuring him badly. In his rage and pain, Magneto decides it is time to finish Wolverine once and for all. Using his powers, he slowly starts pulling the adamantium from Wolverine’s body, and then rips it all out. As Jean Grey tries to telepathically hold Wolverine’s body together, Xavier has had enough. Using the full extent of his power, he shuts down Magento’s mind completely, putting him into a vegetative state.
The Professor is exhausted and cannot move by himself, Wolverine is dying, and the teleportation system in Asteroid M was badly damaged by the fight. Collosus enters, apparently having avoided being teleported away earlier, tells the X-Men that he has radioed Bishop to get them in a Blackbird. He refuses to leave with them, saying that because he let the X-Men go undetected, it is his duty to watch over Magento’s body as his penance.
Writers use to have Magneto do some crazy things in his attempt for Mutant uprising, so having him use an EMP pulse to disrupt that electronics below is not even close to some of the more outrageous acts. It did however kill more people than he ever had before, so seeing the Professor go to such extreme lengths is not that unthinkable. Especially when Magneto does the unthinkable to us, ripping the adamantium out of Wolverine. This was an epic moment that cannot be beat. It also gives us the first look that Wolverine had bone claws underneath the metal.
The issue was drama filled, action packed, and I’m not afraid to admit, made me shed some tears. Tearing down a beloved hero was one hell of a step for Marvel, but brought us some great stories for the first time of Wolverine not being at his peak condition. It also years later brought us to Onslaught, love or hate him. If I had one issue that I would go back into a burning building for, it would be this; it’s just that good, even today.
Title: X-Men Alpha #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Roger Cruz
Review: Thumbs Up!
The original Age of Apocalypse still ranks as one of my all time comic events ever. It was a huge gamble for Marvel to shift their normal titles into this alternate timeline event, but in the end it paid off dividends. In X-Men #41, Legion does his damage by accidentally killing his father Charles Xavier in the past, which has cascading effects in the timeline. In Age of Apocalypse Alpha, we begin to see how different the world would be without Xavier.
Being the veteran time traveler who was with Legion and the Professor at the time of death, the story begins with Bishop scrambling through a wasteland of trash and human bodies. He finds a young human girl that was lucky enough to survive the initial human purge of the area, but was unlucky enough to be tracked down by Unus and some of his guards. They attack Bishop as they believe he is protecting the girl, but the X-Men, with Magneto leading them, come to the rescue.
Once Unus is dead and his guards neutralized, the X-Men try to find out just who Bishop is. When his eyes come to Magneto, he charges at him screaming, telling Magneto that this is all his fault. Magneto forces him asleep by stopping the blood flow of iron to his brain so they can sort it out at their headquarters hated.
Meanwhile quick glimpses are given as to the status of some of the other X-Men in this universe. You find Dark Beast experimenting on the Blob and other mutants for genetic study for Apocalypse. Cyclops and Havok work for Apocalypse as well, with their adoptive father Mr. Sinister, who is secretly conspiring against Apocalypse. Away from there, Angel runs a popular mutant bar, and Gambit comes to him looking for where Magneto is hiding. Wolverine is shown as well with Jean Grey, the two currently undertaking a job for the High Human Council.
At the X-Men’s headquarters, the now rundown and otherwise abandoned X-mansion. Magneto has Rogue touch him and Bishop so she can unlock his memories. Touching him, they are all shown glimpses of the real Marvel universe as it should have been if Xavier had not been killed. From these visions, Magneto sets plans in motion to confirm these visions, and hopefully make things right.
The best part of this story is seeing what has become of our characters, especially without Charles Xavier there to mold them. Cyclops and Havok were both taken in by Mr. Sinister instead of Xavier, the Beast grew to become cold and numbed to everything other than science, and most of all Magneto took up the ideology of his murdered friend and formed the X-Men himself. Using Bishop as the key fit perfectly as he was an X-Man already out of time, sent further into the past when the time change occurred. It didn’t erase him, but still jumbled his mind from the reality reset. It also brought two of my favorite characters into prominence, Blink and Morph.
The X-Men are accustomed to fighting a losing battle, but in this reality they had already lost. Apocalypse had consolidated mutants under him and wiped out a large chunk of humanity. This is one of the darker takes on the X universe which is why I loved it so much. The stakes had and have never been higher for them or the Marvel universe. Many heroes were already dead and throughout the entire epic a lot more die along the way. Alpha just nailed it drawing the picture of the hell unleashed on the Earth in wake of Xavier’s death.
As a standalone issue you can’t get the full range of just how bad things are, or are going to get before things are fixed. With the expanded page count it does an admirable job of setting the stage while still feeling excited, though. If you get burned out as I do on the now yearly events Marvel cranks out, go back and check out a time when they did things right, a time they have never been able to create again.