A Look Back at X-Men #5 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s culture and fans of Marvel Comics! Today we revisit the adjective-less X-Men monthly series (Volume 2) that started in 1991 with the combined talents of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. For those who are unaware, Chris Claremont had his conflict behind the scenes with then X-Men comics editor Bob Harras which led to him departing the X-Men series with issue #3.

Previously I reviewed X-Men #4 which by today’s standards is highly significant and very expensive to acquire as it marked the literary debut of Omega Red who made quite an impact with X-Men fans. It should be noted that Wolverine and Omega Red had encountered each other far back in time and issue #4 marked the renewal of their rivalry.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men #5, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Jim Lee (plot) and John Byrne (script), The art was done by Lee with ink work done by Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Bob Wiacek and Joe Rubinstein.

The cover.

Early story

This for me is the money shot of the comic book. Although Wolverine is absent, you get to see the entire Blue and Gold teams with Charles Xavier as drawn by Jim Lee.

The story begins with Cerebro detecting an unidentified mutant signature in the presence of X-Men members who were out of the mansion. Forge tells Cyclops about the disturbance happening less than five miles away from their mansion. Colossus and Psylocke join in and quickly they leave the mansion with Cyclops using the Blackbird.

Not too far away, Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee and Beast are held captive inside a vehicle with an armed man in their presence. Gambit starts the effort to free his teammates using one of his charged cards.

Elsewhere in a snowy place, Wolverine is seen struggling thinking he defeated his old rival Omega Red. Suddenly the Russian mutant jumped at him and the two resumed fighting. Their fight is being monitored from a distance…

Quality

The Wolverine-Omega Red rivalry is a must-see.

When it comes to storytelling, it is obvious that the writing duo of Jim Lee and John Byrne did their best to push the envelope and break new ground as far as telling an X-Men story goes. For one thing, there is the presence of paramilitary elements which are common with Jim Lee’s creations. There are even flashbacks into the past in which Wolverine (then called Logan) actually took part in a special forces operation with a few notable others. These flashbacks expands further the personal history of Wolverine in a really intriguing way. With the way the story was presented, it is clear that the new creative team pulled off serious moves in modernizing the way X-Men stories were told in comparison to the way Chris Claremont told all those many such stories during his long run.

When it comes to the visuals, Jim Lee did another great job as each page looks great and he proved to be clever with the way he visualized the script. As this comic book was inked by more than one inker, there were subtle differences with regards to contrast as well as ink intensity.

Conclusion

Cyclops and his teammates move out.

X-Men #5 (1992) is another great comic book that involved Jim Lee’s art. Apart from the modernizing of the storytelling, this comic book further expanded the past of Wolverine while successfully giving readers more of Omega Red who is now a major supervillain of Marvel’s.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #5 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $79.

Overall, X-Men #5 (1992) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

As mentioned before (refer to my reviews of X-Men 2099 #1 and X-Men #25), 1993 was the year when the 30th anniversary of the X-Men was celebrated. Back then, Internet connection was not very accessible to the public, social media had not been invented and streaming movies and TV shows was not yet the norm. How did Marvel Comic organize the celebration for X-Men fans? By publishing a lot of comic books and selling merchandise.

In the first quarter of 1993, Marvel Comics went on to feed the perceived high demand of X-Men fans by launching X-Men Unlimited which was an all-new comic book series with a schedule of quarterly releases per new comic book (initially with 64 pages of content using glossy paper). They released X-Men Unlimited #1 in March 1993 and I bought a copy for a hefty $3.95.

So what exactly did the said comic book feature? Was it good? We can all find out in this look back at X-Men Unlimited #1 published by Marvel Comics with a story written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Chris Bachalo.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on the snowy surface of Antarctica where the Blackbird (the X-Men’s jet) has crashed. Cyclops is outside the crashed jet already suffering from internal bleeding and other injuries. As his ruby quartz visor has been lost, he desperately keeps his eyes shut to avoid firing any optic blast. Even with tremendous odds against him, Cyclops concentrates very hard to reach out to Charles Xavier and successfully makes contact. Xavier is surprised.

With telepathic assistance provided by Xavier, Cyclops successfully reaches him and carries him. After some searching, they spot Storm alone on the snow. Elsewhere, a lady gets up from the snow and walks towards a facility. Upon entering, there are scientists working with computers and they called her Ms. Blaze. She asked them if she succeeded in killing Cyclops, Storm and Xavier…

Quality

Artist Chris Bachalo failed to pace his art properly on this page.

To get to the point, I should state that the main lesson of this X-Men story written by Lobdell is about leadership mixed with responsibility and survival. Symbolically, the three leaders of the X-Men (Xavier the head with Blue Team leader Cyclops and Gold Team leader Storm) were placed in a situation of great odds and their respective powers cannot just help solve their problems nor help them get away easily. Here we get to see Cyclops, Storm and Xavier really struggling and having no choice but to use their wits as well as skills learned from the past in order to survive and progress. This is easily the comic book’s most unique feature and it is very rare to see Xavier and the two team leaders spend a lot of time together and work with each other. As far as emphasizing the leadership dynamics of the X-Men is concerned, Lobdell succeeded. I should also state that Lobdell really dramatized the respective personalities of the three.

Still there are some notable flaws. I should say the story had lots of dragging moments in between and the overall pace is between slow and medium. The dialogue is quite wordy and ultimately a lot of it felt like fillers than actual attempts to develop personalities and explain things. There were attempts to make the dialogue more philosophical but end up dragging the narrative. I should state that verbal descriptions or narrations in certain pages were quite excessive. If you are looking for superhero spectacle, there is actually little to enjoy here and by the time the final conflict is over, you will end up unsatisfied. Of course, there are also scenes of incidental moments (examples: explosions, the environment causing damage, etc.) that were emphasized as if to make up for the lack of superhero spectacle.  

The antagonist Sienna Blaze is not a compelling villainess. There is no justification as to why she tried to kill the X-Men. The way she is presented, Blaze is more like a reckless and impulsive teenager than a real opposing force against Xavier and his mutants.

Psylocke and Bishop were the other X-Men members who appeared.

Lastly, there is the art by Chris Bachalo which has always been sub-par and disappointing to look at. While Bachalo did a decent job drawing disaster-related moments, his art on drawing the X-Men really sucked. There were many times when Charles Xavier LOOKED LIKE A DUMMY (think mannequin) than a living person as drawn by Bachalo. The art of this comic book was disappointing in 1993, and it has aged badly by today’s standards.

Apart from the main story, this comic book has a gallery of artworks highlighting the X-Men (including members who did not appear in the said story) done by varied illustrators. The quality of the art, unsurprisingly, is a mixed bag. Ultimately the art gallery served as convenient filler made to satisfy the cravings of X-Men fans.

Conclusion

This is how Wolverine and Colossus look as drawn by Mark Bagley who was the Amazing Spider-Man artist of the time.

Apart from being made to sell a bunch of copies and take advantage of the comic book collector craze of the time, X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993) was an effort to keep defining the X-Men for fans and comic readers of the 1990s by adding depth to the bond between Xavier, Storm and Cyclops. The problem is with the execution as the story dragged a lot, and a whole lot of dialogue and text descriptions were made as if to ensure that enough content would fit the 64-pages of content of the comic book. As far as 1993 X-Men comic books go, this one has one of the worst looking artworks used in storytelling. When it comes to its connection with the 30th anniversary of the X-Men, what happened to Xavier in this comic book is connected to the events of Uncanny X-Men #304 and #310.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $10 while the near-mint copies of the signed edition (without certificate), the newsstand edition and the signed edition (with certificate of authenticity) cost $105, $32 and $105 respectively.

Overall, X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993) is unsatisfying. If I were you, I would avoid spending any money above its cover price. Considering its quality, the near-mint copy of this comic book is really worth only $1.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men #3 (1991)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today I’m about to review another Chris Claremont-Jim Lee comic book of the X-Men from 1991.

Before getting to the retro comic book review, let’s take a look back at history. Marvel Comics started publishing comic book of the X-Men in 1963 which involved the combined talents of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The original X-Men members were Cyclops, Beast, Marvel Girl, Angel and Iceman all under the mentorship of Charles Xavier (AKA Professor X). That monthly series was not a strong seller and was weak compared to the other monthly titles of Marvel. Although Roy Thomas and Neal Adams were brought in to reinvigorate the X-Men series with new characters, success in sales did not materialize and eventually the series was turned into a reprint series (from issues #67 to #93).

In 1975, Len Wein and Dave Cockrum made Giant-Size X-Men #1 which introduced a new team. Along the way, Wein (who was also the editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time) hired Chris Claremont to become the lead writer of the X-Men series starting issue #94 which was released that same year. Claremont redefined the X-Men by developing the characters deep inside and emphasized their respective personalities. As the years passed by, Claremont wrote notable X-Men storylines such as The Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, Mutant Massacre, and Fall of the Mutants to name some. Not only did Claremont write The New Mutants, he also co-created many other characters that became part of the X-Men franchise.

Then came the year 1991. The launch of the new X-Men monthly series (focused on the Blue Team led by Cyclops) saw sales tremendous success with issue #1 and by that time Jim Lee was established as one hot new creators under Marvel. Behind the scenes, however, Claremont clashed with then X-Men books editor Bob Harras. Eventually, issue #3 of the 2nd X-Men monthly series marked the end of the X-Men era of 1975-1991.

I should say that I enjoyed reading issue #2 in which Claremont wrote a story that not only raised the stakes but also pushed the entire group of mutants to the edge. We will find out soon enough if Claremont’s X-Men era of 1975-1991 will end strongly in this retro review of X-Men #3, published in 1991 by Marvel Comics with a story by Claremont and Jim Lee (who also illustrated).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space. Members of X-Men’s Gold Team (composed of Archangel, Storm, Jean Grey, Forge, Iceman, Colossus and Banshee) fly stealthily towards Asteroid M where Magneto and his Acolytes are with Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert held captive. With the exception of a few, members of the X-Men Blue Team were brainwashed by MacTaggert to follow Magneto.

On Earth, the plasma cannon is being prepared to destroy Asteroid M. Nick Fury warns his colleagues about the possibility of tremendous damage if ever Asteroid M hits the surface of the planet. Valerie Cooper tells him that the firing trajectory has been calculated to blast the target away and into deep space. An exchange of words follows over diplomacy and following orders issued by the leaders.

Over at Asteroid M, Charles Xavier is alone in a room with a wide view of the Earth and space. Behind the scenes, Fabian Cortez points to Xavier as Magneto’s deadliest enemy. He asked his master why not use Moira MacTaggert’s procedure (to brainwash and turn) on Xavier. Magneto, already suffering physically, does not want Xavier turned but be broken…

Quality

X-Men Blue Team members relaxing at Asteroid M in the presence of the Acolytes.

Like in issue #2, the story here is very engaging and highly dramatic. While it paid close attention to Magneto’s ruthlessness as well as his rage towards Moira who committed something unethical to him in the past, the story managed to focus enough on the X-Men which involves both the Blue Team and Gold Team mixed up. While this comic book’s cover shows a battle royale between the Blue and Gold teams, there is a lot of substance beyond the action. I’m talking about moments spent on the mutants of Xavier which was done in a satisfying manner (never felt crammed nor forced) considering the page limits of this comic book. Not only were the X-Men moments executed smoothly, there were pulled off efficiently and orderly.

More on the story, what adds intrigue is the group of Acolytes whose field leader Fabian Cortez has not only gotten very close with Magneto but also does something significant to him along the way. By this issue, the Acolytes led by the master of magnetism have gotten more established as a worthy opposition against Xavier’s mutants. This story also showed that the Acolytes were here to stay, and Fabian Cortez himself is very led by wickedness and ambition. Cortez is also an example about the distortion of righteousness

When it comes to defining the characters, Xavier and Magneto clashing together about their respective dreams about mutants is unsurprisingly epic to read. In this particular conflict, both Marvel icons were portrayed very dramatically and their respective expressions were indeed intense. Adding further intrigue to their clash is Moira’s long-past act of manipulating the very genetics of Magneto which itself raises serious questions about her perception, decision-making and ethics. In some ways, Moira looked more villain-like.

As expected, the art of Jim Lee is great to look at. There were some signs, however, that the very wordy script resulted an increased numbers of panels per page. Fortunately, the art did not look rushed and maintained a clear narrative. Also the action scenes are great to look at which is not surprising.

Conclusion

The Gold Team of the X-Men travel towards Asteroid M in a cloaked vehicle.

To put it straight, X-Men #3 (1991) is an epic read highlighting the very conflict between Magneto and Xavier over the course of mutants and their place in the world of humans. This comic book, which has a very powerful ending, was indeed a very satisfying way to conclude the Xavier-Magneto conflict as well as Chris Claremont’s long-term stint with the X-Men comic book franchise. Back in 1991, this one really looked like the end of an era both in-story and in real life. Of course, what this comic book achieved ultimately became temporary because Magneto was revived for the Fatal Attractions storyline in 1993 (celebrating X-Men’s 30th anniversary) and Chris Claremont himself returned to Marvel Comics some years later. Still, on its own, this comic book is worth reading and adding to your collection, even if you are not an X-Men fan. It is significant enough as a piece of X-Men history from the time when Jim Lee was with Marvel.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #3 (1991), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $9 while the near-mint copies of the Chris Claremont-signed edition, the signed newsstand edition, the newsstand edition and the Toy Biz edition cost $16, $26, $16 and $21 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #3 (1991) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men #2 (1991)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

There is so much said about X-Men #1 of 1991 which was launched to major success by Marvel Comics selling at least eight million copies worldwide. That launch issue, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee, had multiple covers and a version with gatefold covers and high-quality paper which made it an instant hit with collectors chasing profit. In 2011, Marvel even released the so-called 20th anniversary edition of X-Men #1 which was digitally recolored.

In terms of substance, X-Men #1 marked the new era of the X-Men. Charles Xavier returned to his mansion to lead the X-Men which was so large as a group, it had to be divided into two team with Cyclops leading the Blue Team and Storm heading the Gold Team. In terms of publishing, Marvel published tales of the Gold Team in the Uncanny X-Men monthly series while the Blue Team’s stories were published in the adjective-less X-Men monthly series.

With all the attention paid to X-Men #1, I noticed that not too many people cared to talk about what happened after the end of that comic book. Without spoiling plot details, the massive seller of 1991 had its story end in a cliffhanger. To find out what followed and determine the quality of the creative team’s work, here is a look back at X-Men #2 published in 1991 by Marvel Comics with a story co-written by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee (who illustrated).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the fictional island nation of Genosha which has a legacy of mutant slavery. Having fought with the Acolytes (led by Fabian Cortez), the X-Men now face Magneto who arrived and tells them that he will not abandon the Acolytes.

“They acted in an excess of zeal. If so…I..and I alone..shall determine their appropriate punishment,” Magneto tells the team of Cyclops, Gambit, Beast, Wolverine, Psylocke and Rogue. Near them are other Acolytes members down on the ground.

After words spoken by Gambit, Rogue and Cyclops, Magneto referred to the devastation of the city hospital as fitting for punishing a state (Genosha) whose prosperity was built on the backs of mutant slaves. Beast answered back saying that the Genoshans have accepted responsibility for what they have done and resolved to make amends.

While Magneto replies to Beast, a military Genoshan helicopter gunship fires missiles at them from above which the X-Men’s archvillain intercepts. Using his magnetic power, Magneto lifts steal beams and destroys the helicopter with them. He then turns against the X-Men restarting the chaos in the city…

Quality

Magneto, Psylocke and Rogue in the middle of the chaos.

Being the middle of a 3-part story, this comic book pushes the entire X-Men group to the edge thanks to strong writing by Chris Claremont. I’m not simply referring to the traditional good-versus-evil formula of superhero storytelling as the story here emphasized themes about sanity, loyalty, legacy, idolatry and even diplomacy. It just so happens that there is a lot of superhero spectacle to enjoy here and there.

The stakes have been raised significantly in this story as Magneto is shown leading the Acolytes who in turn went ahead with their first mission which explains the chaos in Genosha. Magneto’s condition also deteriorates and gets himself healed by Fabian Cortez who is more sinister than what he seems. For his part, Charles Xavier of the X-Men gets to interact with his long-time friend Dr. Moira MacTaggert who is struggling with guilt from something she committed in the past. Through Magneto, Xavier and MacTaggert, there is this solid build-up of tension that led to a very powerful revelation in the 2nd half of the story which, ironically, put the X-Men on the sideline temporarily. There is high drama, deep tension and high intensity involving Magneto and MacTaggert, and their scene together is the highlight of the story.  

Conclusion

The face-off!

To put it straight, as much as I loved X-Men #1 (1991), I find X-Men #2 (1991) more compelling to read. For one thing, it rewards X-Men fans who dedicatedly followed the events of not only the X-Men but also of that of the life of Magneto. It’s really great that Chris Claremont literally dug up the past for details that proved to be useful in this comic book. It also nicely sets up anticipation of the next issue by involving the X-Men’s Gold Team. Unsurprisingly, with the combined talents of Claremont and Jim Lee, this is an excellent read that really looks great.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #2 (1991), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copies of the Chris Claremont-signed regular edition, the Chris Claremont-signed newsstand edition and the newsstand edition cost $9, $19 and $13 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #2 (1991) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men #25 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

As an X-Men fan, 1993 was a memorable year for me during my time of collecting comic books and enjoying what was believed to be the modernization of superhero comics in America. Gimmick covers of comic books, the post-event effects of the Death of Superman, the launch of the Ultraverse and then there was the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men which was wild.

To put things in perspective, Marvel Comics organized the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man releasing lots of merchandise and, most notably, special issues of comic books that came with covers with holograms, more pages for content and a cover price that was more than double than what was normal (note: read my review of one of them). Such comic books were hot stuff for not only Spider-Man fans but also comic collectors who were often hunting for the next great collector’s item that would ensure them great wealth.

Marvel had the same business approach with the 30th anniversary of the X-Men, and there were multiple X-Men-related monthly series of comic book back then. X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, Uncanny X-Men #304, Wolverine #75 and Excalibur #71 all were released with covers with hologram cards on the front, more pages of content and inflated cover prices.

The one 30th anniversary celebration comic book of the X-Men that was most memorable to me was X-Men #25 (Volume 2) and to this day, its plot remains very memorable for its shock value. I bought my copy of this comic book at a store in BF Homes. With the history lesson over, he is my retro review of X-Men #25, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Andy Kubert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the United Nations Security Council’s approval to initiate the alpha and beta parameters of the Magneto Protocols which literally sent waves from the White House to the Kremlin. A short time later, several satellites orbiting the Earth activate and linked with each other to form a protective mesh of electro-magnetic fire. This provokes Magneto (accompanied by Acolytes and Exodus at Avalon) to react by generating a massive pulse wave that affects the entire world. Even the Fantastic Four and Excalibur were not spared.

At the School of Gifted Children, Charles Xavier organizes an urgent meeting with the X-Men. Together they discussed the impact of Magneto’s pulse wave which not only rendered world’s mechanical and technological resources useless but also caused trouble (plane crashes, medical equipment failure, etc.) and deaths. For Xavier, the mere fact their team survived (aided by Shi’ar technology) is a mistake on the part of Magneto considering his capability to wipe out life around the world.

In response to Wolverine’s question, Xavier stated, “We do not have the luxury of time, nor the occasion for nobility…at this point, we are not fighting for the philosophy of a cause, a hope, or a dream, we are fighting for our very survival and if we do not win this fight, this planet will be irrevocably lost to us!”

Quality

The X-Men during their daring mission.

I can clearly declare that when it comes to the combined works done by Fabian Nicieza and Andy Kubert with the X-Men, this particularly story was not only the most ambitious collaboration of theirs but also their most compelling and finest work at the time of publishing. Very strong writing (top-notch characterization, plotting and pacing) and great art really defined this comic book!

Characterization is spot-on! Wolverine is arrogant and gritty as usual, Gambit is still the smooth-talker, Cyclops is the focused leader serving under Xavier, etc.

Without spoiling the major details, I can say that the shocking moments executed were greatly done not for the mere intention of shocking but to break new ground with regards to the characters of Wolverine and Charles Xavier. The first time I read this comic book back in 1993, I was really stunned with those particular scenes and I started to question Wolverine’s durability as well as Xavier’s sanity. And then there was the state of Magneto at the end of the story. The thing about the shocking moments was that there was an adequate amount of build-up leading to them and the pay-off was excellently done.

Conclusion

The immense power of Magneto.

There is no doubt in my mind that X-Men #25 (1993) is the true gem of the entire X-Men 30th anniversary celebration. The creative team led by Nicieza and Kubert really outdid themselves and what happened in this comic book had consequences that lasted for a good number of years. The creative team took big risks and pulled them off nicely as the impact of the story was eventually felt in the years that followed. Lastly, unlike Uncanny X-Men #304 (supposed to be the highlight of X-Men’s 30th anniversary celebration), this comic book is more focused and really had no creative baggage nor filler that got in the way of the storytelling.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #25 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $50 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $150. The near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the gold edition cost $210 and $368 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #25 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men #8 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Do you remember the X-Men animated TV series episode – an adaptation of Days of Future Past – wherein Bishop (who came from the dark future) claimed that Gambit would betray the X-Men and lead them all to darkness? You will see Bishop and Gambit in conflict in this retro review of a Jim Lee-drawn X-Men comic book from the 1990s.

To put things in perspective, back in 1991 Bishop was formally introduced in the Uncanny X-Men monthly series. By that time, Gambit was already wildly popular with X-Men fans. It made sense back then to have the two conflict each other in comic book format as it would add variety and some freshness with the X-Men franchise of the time.

With the short history lesson over, here is a look back at X-Men #8, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story done by Jim Lee and Scott Lobdell. The art was handled by Lee and Art Thibert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at the X-Men’s headquarters with Wolverine using the computer to gain access into something until he got interrupted by Jubilee who is accompanied by Cyclops. She tells him that Charles Xavier is about to introduce Bishop to their teammates. Wolverine tells them to go away.

At the mansion, Storm welcomes Bishop in the presence of Xavier who explains to her that the newcomer is from the far future. Slowly Xavier and Storm guide Bishop around the mansion and introduce him to their members. Bishop, who still remembers the legends of the X-Men from his time in the far future, referred to Forge as Genesis. Moments later, Bishop meets Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee and Gambit.

After expressing that there was little know about Gambit, Bishop then claims that a certain someone was the last person to see the X-Men alive before they got betrayed by one of their own. Bishop then tells Xavier to scan Gambit’s thoughts…

Quality

The interaction between Storm and Bishop is great!

What really defines this comic book apart from having art by Jim Lee and the lack of villains are the storytelling and characterization. The good news is that the respective qualities of the plotting (by Lee) and scripting (by Lobdell) were very solid. While there is a lack of a good-versus-evil plot element, characterization alone made this an engaging comic book to read. Without spoiling the plot, the story has a lot more than the promised Bishop-Gambit conflict (I’ll describe it as a short yet sweet part of the story). I also love the big twist that happened in the 2nd half of the story.

More on characterization, I love the fact that Gambit got more developed here complete with a few threads from his past that got visualized efficiently. I also enjoyed the interactions between Gold Team leader Storm and Bishop. Bishop comes from a future filled with violence and desperation which explains why he is always on the edge often thinking of action whenever something happens. Storm meanwhile tried hard to explain to Bishop that their present day society is more peaceful and that he could take things a bit easier, be more reasonable and try to level with others as he became a new part of the X-Men.

As for Jim Lee’s art, his work here is really beautiful to look at which is not surprising at all. As expected, he made the action scenes look dynamic and managed to draw some emotions from certain characters in key scenes.

Conclusion

Bishop meeting the X-Men.

X-Men #8 (1992) is a pretty good comic book to read. At the time of its publication, the integration of Bishop into the X-Men was done months after Chris Claremont’s departure and was clearly an effort by the X-Men creators to modernize the superhero team and keep it fresh. This comic book is not exactly a landmark read but it is pretty entertaining and engaging.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #8 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $50 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $150.

Overall, X-Men #8 (1992) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

X-Men at Toycon 2019

During my time at the Toycon 2019 at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City this past Saturday, I checked out the X-Men stuff. I am a long-time X-Men fan and that particular franchise is my favorite among all of Marvel’s superheroes.

As before, I looked for some back issues of X-Men at one of the few comic book sellers at the convention.

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Lots of old X-Men comic books displayed for sale.

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A copy of X-Men #1 (1991) drawn by Jim Lee featuring Magneto. I did not bother to buy this one.

After carefully searching what was available and calculating with my limited budget, I bought a few copies of Uncanny X-Men drawn in the early 1990s by Whilce Portacio. I intend to have these comic books signed by him in the near future.

As I went around the floor of the main exhibition hall of the convention center, I saw several X-Men statues and action figures. The one that caught my attention was the Dark Phoenix figure.

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Too bad the filmmakers could not find a way to replicate this classic Dark Phoenix form for the big screen. 

And then I went up to the 2nd level of the convention where there was one function hall that had several displays of toys and action figures for people to look at. Of course, the X-Men were there and here are some pictures I took for your viewing pleasure.

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I like this set up showing two opposing sides. I just wished Magneto had been placed closer fronting Charles Xavier.

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The 1990s X-Men look.

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Dazzler, X-Factor, Cable and some X-Men.

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Another 1990s X-Men set.

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I like the set up here with the X-Men and a fallen Sentinel.

For more X-Men insight, check out my Logan retro movie review, my X-Men #1 (1991) retro comic book review, my X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie review, my retro movie reviews of X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Check out my first Toycon 2019 article here.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand is better than X-Men: Dark Phoenix? What a joke driven by hatred and uncontrolled emotions of negativity towards the latter.

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Ian McKellen as Magneto.

Released in 2006, X-Men: The Last Stand was the third movie of Marvel’s mutants which made $459,359,555 worldwide establishing new box office records at the time including the Memorial Day weekend opening and a single-day record for Friday openings. It was also the highest grossing X-Men movie until X-Men: Days of Future Past exceeded it in 2014.

While the first two flicks were directed by Bryan Singer (who literally abandoned this movie in favor of the big letdown Superman: Returns), this one was done by Brett Ratner who is best known for Rush Hour films. For the superhero concept of the film, Ratner clearly depended on the script by Simon Kinberg (who directed X-Men: Dark Phoenix) and Zak Pen (X2: X-Men United).

The story begins some time in the past with Charles Xavier and Magneto visiting the house of a little girl named Jean Grey whose power of telepathy and telekinesis make her dangerous. Her own father thinks she has an illness. In another scene, a young boy desperately tries shaving off something on his back which turned out to be a mutation. To put it short, the prologue establishes the two concepts this movie tried to emphasize – the Dark Phoenix (from the classic comic book storyline by Chris Claremont and John Byrne) and the Mutant Cure (in reference to one particular episode of the 1990s X-Men animated series).

The result? A rather unfocused narrative that bogged the movie throughout. In the present day, Charles Xavier and the X-Men are no longer hiding from the federal government (which in turn has Hank McCoy/Beast as part of the US President’s cabinet). A cure that can neutralize the mutant gene has been revealed and eventually Jean Grey suddenly returns back to life in front of Scott Summers/Cyclops. Then trouble in the story (and for this film in particular) sets in.

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Dark Phoenix and Professor X.

On storytelling, the lack of focus on a central concept really dragged this movie down even though the filmmakers made attempts to link them together. This is a very unfaithful adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga – instead of showing the Phoenix Force as a cosmic entity the filmmakers used the dual-personality concept in Jean Grey. There are no alien civilizations (read: no Lilandra) involved nor anything related to outer space (a key element in the comic book storyline). With regards to the cure concept, Rogue in this film makes a move to be cured loosely following what was shown in the animated series.

Having these two concepts connect to each other showed Magneto getting motivated to rally the mutants to oppose the humans. Jean Grey meanwhile gets controlled by the Phoenix personality and gets very destructive with power which makes her an asset to Magneto and his brotherhood of evil mutants.

As the filmmakers struggled to tell the story, the social relevance and symbolism emphasized in the first two films got weakened. The core concept of mutants getting isolated and discriminated by humanity simply because they are so different became much less relevant here.

As if that was not bad enough, the characterization also changed for the worse. Magneto here became one-dimensional as a villain and the way he reacted to Charles Xavier’s destruction in front of him and Jean Grey reflected bad screen writing. Any true X-Men fan would know that even though he and Xavier were adversaries with a past friendship, Magneto should have been outraged over his old rival’s destruction and strike at Jean Grey (even if it is suicidal for him to fight a more powerful entity, the Phoenix).

For his part, Charles Xavier turned out to be a manipulator of Jean Grey’s mind making him look as evil and manipulative as Magneto. Jean Grey, despite actress Famke Jansen getting more screen time than before, ended up as a visual tool and was clearly NOT the central figure of the story rather she ended up being a tool of power by Magneto. By today’s standards, Jansen’s portrayal of Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix pales in comparison with Sophie Turner’s performance in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

More on characterization, the triangle between Iceman, Rogue and Kitty Pryde was executed with no real depth and only served to show Anna Paquin’s character search for the means to be normal (because Rogue absorbs the power and life of people she touches) which ended up being not so meaningful for viewing. Young adult Angel’s (one of the original X-Men in the comics) minutes-long presence in the movie only served to showcase special effects. Storm’s prospect of succeeding Xavier as leader of the X-Men and the school was sloppily done. Oh yes, the showing of multiple mutants (in supporting roles, non-speaking roles or as mere background characters) that weakened the narrative of the first two films was even worse here. As a result, there’s quite a lot of fan service in this movie.

Going back to storytelling, I should say that the early demise of Cyclops (played by James Marsden for too little screen time due to his work with Bryan Singer on Superman Returns) and Charles Xavier were attempts by the filmmakers to raise the stakes and even shock viewers. The problem is that the third act of the film became more of an action and CGI bonanza ultimately failing to justify the loss of Cyclops and Xavier. The story ended with not much impact on me as a viewer and the late scenes showing Magneto recovering a little of his power (plus the post-credit scene about Xavier’s survival) were unsatisfactory. By comparison, X-Men: Dark Phoenix concluded with satisfaction.

Performances? The actors did what they could with the weak screenplay. Patrick Stewart played Charles Xavier managing his school but gets burdened heavily as Jean Grey returns with the Phoenix in her (which makes Xavier feeling guilty over his past manipulation of Jean’s mind). Ian McKellen played a one-dimensional Magneto (forget about the reasonable fighter for mutants you saw in the first two films) and really had little room to flesh him out. Clearly this version of Magneto, even though he has a lot of screen time here, is rubbish when compared to the cinematic Magneto in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is clearly the hero of this movie and was given a lot to do showing a deeply concerned Wolverine as well as showing him with lots of action on-screen. His emotional reaction towards Jean Grey near the end of the movie was believable. Halle Berry meanwhile failed yet again to capture the leader in Storm from the comic books.

Another thing to mention regarding the weak script is the lame attempt at humor in the film. Just look at the exchanges of words between Wolverine and Beast which only made me frown instead of laughing.

Exchange 1

Dr. Hank McCoy: Wolverine. I hear you are quite an animal.

Logan: Look who’s talkin’.

Exchange 2

Logan: Well, for all we know, the government helped cook this up.

Dr. Hank McCoy: I can assure you, the government had nothing to do with this.

Logan: I’ve heard that before.

Dr. Hank McCoy: My boy, I have been fighting for mutant rights since before you had claws.

Logan: [to the Professor] Did he just call me boy?

If there is anything positive at all with this movie, it is the spectacle (action, stunts and special effects). If you want to watch an X-Men movie without thinking too much and just enjoy the spectacle, The Last Stand is heavily loaded! The scope of destruction (including the major showcase of Magneto’s power with the Golden Gate Bridge) is also great and helped this weak movie look epic (even more epic than the better film X-Men: Dark Phoenix). There is also a big battle of multiple members of Magneto’s brotherhood attacking the soldiers at the Alcatraz facility. Action is where director Brett Ratner is good at and it temporarily helped this film feel fun to watch. The visual design and special effects are of good quality as well.

 

One last positive thing to mention here is the casting of Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy/Beast and his performance was, indeed, superb. I really saw the scientist, the intellect and the fighter of Beast from the comics translated nicely in cinematic form.

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A striking shot as a result of Magneto’s power.

By today’s standards of superhero movies, X-Men: The Last Stand unsurprisingly went from big-budget disappointment to what is now an overall bad movie that just happens to have some fun action sequences. As far as adapting the Dark Phoenix Saga from the comics, this film is definitely inferior to X-Men: Dark Phoenix. X-Men: The Stand does look good when compared to the terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

If you are a true fan of the X-Men or if you are moviegoer who wants the best superhero cinematic experience, I won’t recommend watching X-Men: The Last Stand.

But then if you are a moviegoer who cannot do anything except hate and uncontrollably bash the new movie X-Men: Dark Phoenix, then maybe The Last Stand will be your bout of fun.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix

I’ll get straight to the point here. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (or Dark Phoenix in North America) is a better superhero film than I expected (and at the same time I never expected a faithful adaptation of the classic comic book storyline the Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne) and Simon Kinberg‘s feature film directorial debut turned out to be a surprisingly solid effort. I really enjoyed this.

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the 2nd attempt by 20th Century Fox to adapt the Dark Phoenix saga for the big screen and I can say it is a brave effort. While it never attempted to fully and faithfully adapt all the elements of the classic storyline (note: that would require hundreds of millions of dollars more budget, more production time and at least two whole films to produce), the new movie is absolutely a better adaptation than X-Men: The Last Stand (which is an even worse movie by today’s standards).

As far as the current X-Men Cinematic Universe (starting with 2011’s X-Men: First Class), Dark Phoenix is very character-driven even though it has a huge cast. There was tremendous pressure behind the scenes on the part of Sophie Turner to portray Jean Grey struggling with her added powers and the good news is that she delivered very nicely! This new movie is clearly focused on Jean Grey whose emotions, struggles and acts of power are magnificently pulled off by Turner each time the screenplay requires her to act.

Turner is clearly more comfortable with playing as Jean Grey and it seems she paid close attention to the Dark Phoenix comics. Unlike Famke Jansen’s Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand, Turner cinematic act is more believable, more emotional and even more terrifying. There were moments to feel sorry for Jean Grey as her life turns upside-down plus there were times that she would be better off going far away into the deep void of the galaxy so that nobody else would get harmed by her. If you pay very close attention to Turner’s act, you will feel varied emotions along the way.

Turner is not the only standout. Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Tye Sheridan each played their respective roles (Beast, Charles Xavier and Cyclops) with more heart, more drama and more intensity. Through Hoult and McAvoy, you will relate more with them as the film makes gentle connections back to X-Men: First Class (why the time was formed, who was supposed to remain or go away, etc.). The conflict between Beast and Xavier that happened later (combined with the revelations from the past) dramatically blurs away the boundary that separates good and evil. As for Tye Sheridan, I see a lot more of the literary Cyclops in him this time and thanks to the script, he exceeds James Marsden’s Cyclops by a hundred a miles. Sheridan and Turner also have better on-screen chemistry as Cyclops and Jean Grey.

James McAvoy’s Xavier deserves everyone’s attention. He not only looks and feels like his comic book counterpart, he also clearly displayed how much the character has matured. McAvoy also successfully captured the on-screen aura of authority Patrick Stewart had in the first X-Men movies.

Michael Fassbender’s Magneto appears rather late into the film but that does not make him any less significant. As before, Fassbender is intense with playing his character and, more importantly, he contributed nicely into the story. Jennifer Lawrence portrayal of Mystique is the shortest one yet but before leaving the film, she delivered some nice lines (with some reconnecting to X-Men: First Class) and acted nicely. Fans of Nightcrawler and Storm will be happy to know that their roles become more significant in the late stage of the film. Lastly, Jessica Chastain‘s addition as Vuk was a nice addition. While others put her down as one-dimensional, which is true, it does not detract from the film at all. Even with lacking variety of character, Vuk still makes a strong villainess and she really acts alien. Vuk would stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

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This is one of many great looking visual effects of the Cerebro scenes.

When it comes to storytelling, this movie did not try to make an in-depth adaptation of all the elements of the Dark Phoenix Saga of comics. Instead, the filmmakers adapted a few elements of the literary classic (and even a few selected elements from X-Men: The Last Stand), focused on the present day X-Men (story is set in 1992), looked back occasionally at X-Men: First Class and made the most with what they have.

The result is a cinematic story about the X-Men now publicly recognized as legitimate mutants (and youths) with Charles Xavier having fully established a direct link with the President of the United States. After the rescue mission in space involving the solar flare, a race of shape-shifting aliens arrive on Earth with a secret agenda of their own. As mentioned earlier, Simon Kinberg surprised me with his directing. The storytelling, even with the slowest moments played, never felt dragging to me at all. The pace, in my experience, was between medium to fast. As this movie was written by Kinberg, Dark Phoenix is clearly his vision for the X-Men Cinematic Universe and he stamped his mark on it despite the fact that reshoots and story revising had to be done. If you are looking for humor, you really won’t find much as the story’s tone is intensely dramatic.

You want fun? X-Men: Dark Phoenix delivered solidly! This movie has more than enough spectacular content (action scenes, stunts, visual effects, etc.) that any moviegoer can enjoy! Very clearly the filmmakers consciously worked hard to deliver entertaining stuff to bounce back from the heavy drama. There was a lot of physical damage caused by Phoenix in her conflict with her teammates which is a solid start of her causing trouble to others. Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Xavier, Beast and Magneto used their respective abilities VERY EXTENSIVELY combined with high-octane stunt coordination which results several minutes of on-screen fun leading into the finale! The spectacle of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which was extensively done with a blistering pace, easily exceeds what was showcased in First Class, Apocalypse and even that of Days of Future Past!

As for those blink-and-you-will-miss-it visual moments, there were times that images shown on the big screen reminded me of Jim Lee’s X-Men. I won’t point out where they are or when they will come out but anyone who extensively read the X-Men comic books drawn by Jim Lee (who co-founded Image Comics and now works as DC Comics’ co-Publisher) will spot the technical fan service.

Last but not least is the music provided by the great Hans Zimmer and this film marks his return to the superhero movie genre. While the music he and his team provided here is nowhere as energetic nor as intense as that of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the music is still steps above that of X-Men: Apocalypse, X-Men: The Last Stand and even the popular X2: X-Men United. The highlight of Zimmer’s music is the tune played during the moments when Jean Grey’s tremendous power as Dark Phoenix was realized in that day-time encounter with the X-Men. That particular music really emphasized the danger she poses to others.

There were some issues about the movie that might be problematic or annoying to moviegoers, particularly superhero movie fans. For one thing, Simon Kinberg re-used certain elements from X-Men: The Last Stand for this new movie and that includes Jean Grey having a childhood problem and Charles Xavier getting involved to solve it only to be blamed for it many years later. There were even a few lines from the 2006 movie repeated.

Also questionable was the lack of an explanation regarding Jean Grey’s Phoenix Power in this film and the one we saw in X-Men: Apocalypse. If what she unleashed in the final battle with Apocalypse was not the Phoenix force, then that’s a major blunder by the creators in relation to this movie. Perhaps an extended cut of X-Men: Dark Phoenix will solve that.

Lastly there was the use of shaky camera photography during some moments with the action sequences. While they were temporary, they prevented the film’s strong spectacle from achieving perfection.

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Overall, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a thrilling, heavily dramatic and very solid superhero movie worthy of being the conclusion of the X-Men Cinematic Universe that 20th Century Fox first launched in 2000. From this point on, there is no guarantee we will see McAvoy and the gang return as the cinematic X-Men now that 20th Century Fox is fully controlled by the Walt Disney Company through Marvel Studios. X-Men: Dark Phoenix is not perfect but it strongly resonates with me as I am a long-time X-Men comic book reader. While others out there would bash this movie for not having the common elements of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, X-Men: DP has its own flavor and the filmmakers utilized what they had established in the X-Men Cinematic Universe since 2011. The reported reshoots may have prevented Kinberg and team from fully realizing their original vision of the Dark Phoenix story but still they succeeded in making a better Dark Phoenix adaptation captured on film.

If Marvel Studios would launch the X-Men through the Marvel Cinematic Universe and attempt a new and more ambitious Dark Phoenix adaptation of their own, it will take much longer and will cost them more time and money to do so. That’s something we may not see in the next decade. All the more reason to enjoy X-Men: Dark Phoenix now.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is highly recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more X-Men insight, check out my retro comic book review of X-Men #1 of 1991, my retro movie review of 2000’s X-Men, my retro review of X2: X-Men United and my review of Logan.

 

 

A Look Back At X2: X-Men United

While I barely enjoyed the original X-Men movie back in 2000, I still had hope that its sequel would be better, more engaging and more entertaining. That hope of mine was realized on April 30, 2003 when I saw X2: X-Men United (or X-Men 2 in some countries around the world) in a cinema here in the Philippines.

Commercially X2 grossed $407,711,549 worldwide and that is 37.58% more than what its predecessor made. It also gathered several positive reviews from movie critics back then and its overall success proved that there was indeed more room for artistic and commercial growth for further superhero movies. I remember leaving the cinema happy and satisfied, looking forward to more X-Men films.

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Kelly Hu’s screen time as Lady Deathstrike was short but she really stood out in her fight with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.

 So how did it all come to such an outcome in 2003? In my honest opinion, director Bryan Singer and his creative team learned from their shortcomings in the previous movie, create an engaging story without necessarily faithfully adapting elements of the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (a rather unholy story) and ramp up the enjoyment factor.

The story opens with Nightcrawler cleverly breaking through the security in the White House in an attempt to attack the President of the United States. That opening clearly showed how clever and creative the filmmakers got to not only deliver the thrills but also emphasize visually the gap between humans and mutants. To put it short, that opening sequence is still awesome to watch.

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns to the mansion and tells Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) he found nothing in Canada. Wolverine wanted to know more about his unknown past but Xavier refuses to help him even though he set the deadly loner on a path.

In Washington D.C., military scientist William Stryker meets with the President (along with a fake Senator Robert Kelly who is actually Mystique in disguise) and gets authority to launch a secret operation on the mutants. Along the way, Mystique learns about the location of not only the plastic prison containing Magneto but also that of a secret base. The secret attack on Xavier’s mansion and the escape of Magneto then sets of the crucial events for the rest of the movie.

X2 can be described as a film laced with lots of improvements over its predecessor technically and creatively. I see more of the literary Wolverine in Hugh Jackman this time around while Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen showed even more traits of the literary versions of Charles Xavier and Magneto respectively. Anna Paquin showed more confidence in playing Rogue while Halle Berry and Famke Jansen showed similar results with their characters. Allan Cumming and Brian Cox are solid additions as Nightcrawler and Stryker (who is not a military scientist in the present day of the graphic novel) and they mixed well with the returning cast members.

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Mystique and the soldiers.

Like its predecessor, symbolism was used to emphasize the gap between humans and mutants on the big screen. The scene wherein Bobby Drake/Iceman showed to his parents his uncanny ability to freeze emphasizes his reluctance to show the truth about himself…something that could potentially break the family. William Stryker, meanwhile, keeps mutants company for as long as he has control over them and combined with the fact that he bore a hatred for mutants (note: something unfortunate happened to his family), he can be compared to a slave owner from centuries ago.

When it comes to spectacle, X2 is definitely more thrilling and more action-packed. The filmmakers knew how to balance the screenplay’s exposition and dramatization with action when it is needed on the right time. The standout action sequence is undoubtedly the fight between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike (played by Kelly Hu).

The script is stronger this time. With key members of the X-Men separated during the first half of the film, character development sets in nicely. The link between Wolverine and Jean Grey got emphasized somewhat while Cyclops is away. Also Magneto delivered the film’s most memorable line: You should have killed me when you had the chance!!! That line is a nice throwback to the past friendship between Xavier and Magneto.

Like the 2000 movie, liberties from comics were implemented for “cinematic presentation.” Anyone who read Wolverine’s origin with Weapon X can tell that William Stryker was never part of it. As for adapting the 1982 graphic novel, this film is clearly unfaithful and the filmmakers decided to take the easy route on selecting certain elements to make a screenplay that can be deemed bankable by the movie studio.

Unsurprisingly there are flaws here and there. Freezing people’s movements done by Xavier is unbelievable. As a telepath he can read people’s minds, manipulate their perception, make himself invisible to others by warping their perception and even reprogram minds but freezing people is not one of those abilities. Also considering Xavier’s persistent use of his telepathy, he failed to detect before entering the plastic prison (to meet Magneto) that a trap was set up for them.

As for Jean Grey’s heroic sacrifice near the end of the film, that one took me out of the movie. She left the jet without anyone noticing, stands in front then uses her power to prevent the rushing water from touching them while slowly lifting the jet (which for some reason could not operate properly) to let X-Men survive. It sure is dramatic and it is one of Famke Jansen’s most notable moments in cinema (apart from her erotic acts in GoldenEye) but it goes against what X-Men fans know. Any X-Men fan can tell that Iceman could have used his power to freeze the water and Storm could have manipulated the weather to help out. Heck, Cyclops could have gone out and launch a massive optic blast at the water.

Another obvious flaw is the large cast of characters which prevented the film from further implementing anymore character development. The love triangle aspect continued from the previous movie barely moved forward as James Marsden’s Cyclops (a leader in the comics) was literally set aside. Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat in this movie was only used to emphasize a seconds-long chase and show off the filmmakers’ visual effects.

By today’s standards, X2: X-Men United is no longer the great superhero film it was in twenty-o-three. It is, overall, a good movie and clearly it is a major improvement over its predecessor. The many improvements on the overall quality, engagement and fun factor of X2 made 2000’s X-Men look more like a dress rehearsal.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more X-Men insight, check out my latest article about X-Men: Dark Phoenix and my review of Logan.