A Look Back at Wolverine #75 (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.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of the X-Men! We go back to the year 1993 when the 30th anniversary of the X-Men was celebrated with the 6-part Fatal Attractions storyline. Already I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #304 (Part 3) which was not worthy of the X-Men’s 30th anniversary celebration. X-Men #25 (Part 4) meanwhile was not only great but also shocking and had a years-long impact on X-Men comics.

So now the focus is on the 5th chapter of the Fatal Attractions storyline handled by the Larry Hama-Adam Kubert team on the Wolverine monthly series of the time. With those details laid down, here is a look back at Wolverine #75, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Larry Hama and drawn by Adam Kubert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space. Carrying Charles Xavier, Wolverine, Gambit, Jean Grey, Rogue and Quicksilver (who participated in the dangerous mission in X-Men #25), the X-Men’s jet (piloted by Bishop) struggles mechanically as it was not designed for space travel. Worse, Wolverine is under very serious condition and the medical unit has been operating in full capacity dealing with his intense trauma.

In an attempt to alleviate Wolverine’s psychic trauma, Charles Xavier and Jean Grey enter his mind and discover that there is a world full of pain and horror. They see visions of a restrained Wolverine (from his Weapon X days) being attacked by Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike. Xavier explains that they are at the epicenter of Logan’s most suppressed cataclysmic memories which were clearly triggered by the physical damage Magneto inflicted on him (see X-Men #25).

As the X-Men’s jet attempts to enter Earth’s atmosphere, its exteriors heat up dramatically shaking everyone inside. This complicates the situation on stabilizing Wolverine…

Quality

The other X-Men team members at their headquarters expressing worry and concern about the situation of their teammates struggling to come back home from space.

To be clear, this story continues the events of Fatal Attractions but with a bit more focus on Wolverine (compared to the earlier chapters of the storyline that is). There is no real battle between good and evil at all. It’s really all about Wolverine struggling to survive just as his teammates struggle to arrive home.

Before the stories of this comic book and X-Men #25 happened, Wolverine has often been portrayed to be very tough, brave and a walking machine of violence which has been reflected in other X-Men stories told in video games and movies. In this very comic book, Wolverine has been presented to coming close to death. This means Logan, at this particular stage of the history of the literary X-Men, was at his most vulnerable state. In my experience, this was both alienating and shocking to see.

With regards to the writing, Larry Hama did an excellent job with pacing the story from start to finish. Right from the beginning, the story pulls you into the X-Men’s tough situation and as each page gets turned, the tension as well as the suspense builds up until the execution the climax. Along the way, the comic book not only portrays Wolverine struggling on the edge, it also works to make you care more or be more concerned of him. Oh yes, the shocking moment near the end of this comic book remains very shocking and you who read this should read and see it for yourselves.

Conclusion

Wolverine at his most vulnerable state.

By today’s standards, Wolverine #75 (1993) is still a very great comic book to read. In fact, I can say it is not only one of most defining chapters of the Fatal Attractions storyline as well as one of the most significant X-Men comic books of the 1990s, it is indeed a true illustrated literature classic ever published by Marvel Comics. In retrospect, this comic book marks a major turning point in the life of Wolverine who is still one of the most iconic characters in all of superhero literature. All of these were achieved thanks to the creative team of Larry Hama and Adam Kubert (whose are here was great and stylized at the same time). Hama succeeded in writing the continuation of the Fatal Attractions storyline while balancing all of the exposition and still putting Wolverine in the center. That itself is a very great work of writing.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wolverine #75 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $60 while the near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the newsstand edition cost $300 and $180 respectively.

Overall, Wolverine #75 (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 Uncanny X-Men #304 (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.

Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men which took place in 1993. Back then, Marvel Comics went full blast with the anniversary celebration of their mutants by releasing related merchandise, posters and comic books with gimmick covers (note: read my retro review of 1993’s X-Men #25) that came with high prices.

To put things in perspective regarding 1993, Marvel’s X-Men line of comics had monthly series of Uncanny X-Men, X-Men (Volume 2), X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine and Cable. X-Factor #92 marked the start of the Fatal Attractions storyline which was the basis for the X-Men 30th anniversary celebration. X-Force #25 was released and it not only brought Cable back but also Magneto.  

Then came the 3rd chapter of the Fatal Attractions storyline which was published in Uncanny X-Men #304. Not only did that particular comic book bring together many mutants and moved the storyline forward to a crucial stage (note: tension leading to it was built up in Uncanny X-Men #300, Uncanny X-Men #303 and also in X-Men Unlimited #1), it also served as the very celebration of the 30th anniversary of the X-Men (although it was not the storyline’s conclusion as the plot continued in X-Men #25, Wolverine #75 and Excalibur #71).

So did this particular, anniversary celebrating issue of the Uncanny X-Men succeed with its objectives? Has it aged well through the decades? We can all find out in this look back at Uncanny X-Men #304, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by John Romita, Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson and Paul Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with division among the Acolytes who learned that their lord Magneto actually survived (note: refer to 1991’s X-Men #3). They ganged up against their leader Fabian Cortez for betraying Magneto. After pushing his now rebellious team members away, Cortez reminds them that for several months already, they have been continuing Magneto’s work on behalf of mutantkind. Suddenly Exodus appears to them and describes himself as the voice of Magneto and will guide mutants to rise and mentions paradise for the faithful mutants. After subduing Cortez and tempering the tension among the Acolytes, Exodus tells them to prepare themselves for ascension. This frustrates Cortez who realizes that he no longer holds leadership.

Over at the X-Men’s headquarters, Charlez Xavier is personally disturbed over the death of Illyana Rasputin, the sister of Colossus. He starts questioning himself as Illyana’s death under his watch makes his years-long mission (of convincing his fellow mutants to leave their old lives to take risks to fight for a world that fears and hates them) doubtful and tries to figure out how he could present himself in front of them. A holographic image of Lilandra appears to him.

In outer space, inside the space station called Avalon, Magneto stares at planet Earth. With nobody around him, he speaks apologizing to his followers for he cannot save them all. He also mentions that he was wrong in previously believing that he could rescue each and every one of them from humanity as he recently realized that Earth, for the moment, is doomed.

After walking an unspecified distance inside Avalon, Magneto picks up his old helmet and wears it…

Quality

This 2-page art by Brandon Peterson is easily the best looking part of the comic book.

I will start with the visual aspect of this comic book. The artistic quality ranges from fine to weird which should not be surprising since this one involved five artists. The 4 pages drawn by Brandon Peterson (who was once a regular artist on Uncanny X-Men) made the X-Men, Magneto and the Acolytes look not only good but also intense. The Peterson art here is artistically similar to the respective styles of Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee of that particular time. Jae Lee’s art on the flashback of Magneto’s life (during the time of the Nazi occupation in Europe) is undoubtedly very stylized. While his art brings out the intensity of Magneto’s painful past, certain images can be a little challenging to understand especially to readers who focus strongly only following the plot and details. John Romita, Jr.’s art, for me personally, often looks rough and there were times I hardly recognized the characters. The other artworks by Paul Smith and Chris Sprouse have cartoonish aesthetics.

This is Jae Lee’s artistic contribution to the comic book. I found it weird that Magneto’s hair was shown as white during his past with the Nazis.

As for the plot, I can clearly see that a hard effort was made to compose a story that would push the Fatal Attractions storyline forward, establish a turning point and still become worthy of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the X-Men franchise. I can say that the storytelling is somewhat bloated. Early in the story, it was made clear that the respective sections showing Exodus with the Acolytes, Charles Xavier and Magneto pointed to an eventual confrontation that happened during the funeral of Illyana Rasputin.

As the build-up continued with the flashback of Magneto’s life, the fan service short scene of Kitty Pryde and the unfeeling Colossus (note: their romance was highlighted in Uncanny X-Men many years prior), and the talk scene between Bishop and Banshee, the pace of the story slowed down dramatically. By the time the attempt to move the narrative back to the core plot was made with the funeral scene (composed of the X-Men, X-Force and X-Factor), the pace was still really way down. By the time the conflict with Magneto, Exodus and the Acolytes stated, the pace recovery was incomplete and as such, seeing the scene unfold was very jarring (and not even the pages of Colossus’ frustration towards Professor X could solve the narrative pacing problem).

Unsurprisingly, the conflict was written to be overly dramatic complete with lengthy pieces of dialogue here and there. That being said, references to past comic books were established as Magneto once again emphasizes his beliefs about the human-mutant conflict using violence (while also side-stepping Jean Grey’s psionic powers to allow the Acolytes to come in undetected).

Human-mutant conflict aside, themes about faith, religion, idolatry salvation are clearly used. Magneto, who has a tremendous record of villainy and his previous leadership of the X-Men proved useless, was portrayed to be a walking wicked idol whose followers cannot do anything except idolize him and cause violence out of dedication to him. They really could not realize that idolatry is foolish and unholy which further adds to chaos on the world. As Magneto deceived himself to be the savior and lord of mutants, he further causes more pain and destruction to others around him. In short, Magneto will always be stuck with his wicked nature and clearly does not deserve heavenly authority no matter how hard he believes himself to be a savior.

The classic rivalry between Xavier and Magneto here was portrayed dramatically and yet I cannot help but think that their conflict was nothing more than a repeat of past encounters with the state and future of mutants at stake. To be fair, what happened here served as a logical build-up for the shocking encounter between Professor X and Magneto in X-Men #25.

Conclusion

Nobody among the X-Men (except Charles Xavier), X-Force, Excalibur and X-Factor cared to dress properly for the funeral.

To be clear, even though I am an avid X-Men fan, I find Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993) hard to be engaged with and hard to enjoy. Efforts to make it a worthy celebration of the X-Men are very clear but it’s just not entertaining nor compelling to read. As for the X-Men traitor scene, the revelation was not that shocking as the foreshadowing made it too obvious. At best, this comic book served as a warm-up for X-Men #25 which itself paid-off nicely. Being more than sixty pages long (including the advertisement and bulletins), this comic book has too much creative baggage which ultimately hampered its storytelling. It’s not terrible. It’s really not that great to read. What I experienced way back in 1993 with this comic book is just the same as I re-read it. It has not aged well.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20, while the near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the newsstand edition cost $120 and $60 respectively.

Overall, Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

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: Days of Future Past (2014)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie 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.

We all know that the 20th Century Fox franchise of X-Men movies has ended and everything cinematic about Marvel’s famous mutants are now in the hands of Marvel Studios. From the year 2000 to 2020, the original X-Men cinematic universe produced a whole bunch of movies (including spinoffs) which ultimately led to uneven results with regards to commercial success, critical feedback, artistry, production values and cultural impact. Even so, 20th Century Fox-produced X-Men movies generated more than $6 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

When it comes to the spinoff movies, I like Logan the best (sorry, Deadpool).

For the main X-Men movies, the one film that really delivered the great stuff and tons of fun for me was none other than X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). For one thing, the movie had two generations of X-Men cinematic performers (the original team led by Patrick Stewart and the newer ones from X-Men: First Class led by James McAvoy) and its story literally had them linked together with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as the living bridge between them. To put it short, it was a cinematic crossover story made with X-Men fans in mind. That film scored highly with critics and most moviegoers, and it grossed almost $750 million worldwide which makes it the highest-grossing X-Men movie ever until now.

It has been years since X-Men: Days of Future Past made waves in the cinemas and through post-theater businesses like Blu-ray, cable TV, pay-per-view, streaming and the like. Along the way, movies like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame collectively raised the standards of Hollywood superhero movies in varied ways. I should state that X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand did not age well.

To find out if the 2014 X-Men film aged well or not, here is my retro review of X-Men: Days of Future Past directed by Bryan Singer with a screenplay written by Simon Kinberg with a story done by Kinberg, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn.

A great image of the cinematic X-Men, both the old and newer cast.

Early story

The story begins in the dark future. Countless mutants and human allies have been caught and imprisoned by very sophisticated Sentinels (operating for an unnamed authority that also has armed human personnel as watchers) which continue to hunt more of them down along with any humans caught aiding them. In Russia, a small X-Men team composed of Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Sunspot, Bishop, Warpath and Blink take action when they realized that the Sentinels found their hideout. Kitty Pryde, who by this time gained the new ability to send a person’s consciousness back through time, runs along with Bishop to hide in a vault to send his consciousness into the past. Fortunately for them, their teammates delayed the unstoppable Sentinels enough to succeed.

Some time later at another location, an aging Charles Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm arrive to meet with Kitty Pryde and her teammates. Xavier gives the team an in-depth history lesson about the Sentinels which were created decades earlier by the late Bolivar Trask who was assassinated by Mystique (who believed she could make a difference for her fellow mutants). After the assassination, Mystique got caught by the authorities and became a live experiment for scientists working for the government. Her DNA helped accelerate the development of the Sentinel program which made them able to adapt to most mutant attacks and powers.

A plan gets formed for Kitty Pryde to send Xavier back through time to his younger self in 1973 to prevent the assassination from happening. Kitty states it’s too risky for the old Xavier to go through time as it may kill him. Wolverine volunteers to take Xavier’s place as his healing factor (regeneration) will ensure his survival with the process. Xavier presses Wolverine to convince the 1973 Charles Xavier to help prevent the assassination given the fact that he was a broken man at the time.

Wolverine arrives in his younger self’s body in New York of 1973. He makes his way to the mansion of Charles Xavier. As it turns out, Xavier’s school has been closed for some time and has been decaying…   

Quality

Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman as Beast, Charles Xavier and Wolverine respectively.

Considering what was made and what were presented through this movie, the creative team and the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past literally scored a home run here resulting true greatness! Bryan Singer, whose previous X-Men directorial job was 2003’s X2, finally struck gold with regards to storytelling, directing and, finally, spectacle (previous his big weakness).  

In terms of storytelling, this movie, first and foremost, is not a faithful adaptation of the classic Days of Future Past storyline at all. In fact, there was no need for it to be faithful. What the screenwriters came up with was a loose adaptation which allowed them to craft a more original story that involved the established X-Men characters (from the early movies) and the other X-Men characters (who started in 2011’s X-Men: First Class) and have them set apart in terms of time periods (similar to what was done in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, but much better and more compelling in writing). The result is a crossover tale with Wolverine being the traveler through time.

The Sentinels are clearly terrifying and unstoppable!

The great news here is that the script has very strong structuring done and even had enough space to briefly acknowledge events and characters from the first three X-Men films plus 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine as canon. All of these add to the narrative very well and when the stakes were raised, the overall plot made sense. Let me add that it was a smart move for the writers to raise the stakes in the two time periods during the final act of the movie, which really made the story more engaging to viewers. I should state that having two conflicts happening simultaneously on screen in this X-Men movie was done efficiently and without ever becoming confusing nor messy.

Apart from the narrative, the portrayal of the X-Men was, indeed, spot-on. Noticeably, the major characters here were Charles Xavier (both old and young), Wolverine (both old and young), Mystique, Magneto (specifically the young version), Beast and Bolivar Trask. Strong writing was evident in the dialogue of the mentioned characters, as well as in those with minor roles. Through dialogue alone, I easily recognized these cinematic characters.

Michael Fassbender delivered his best performance as young Magneto.

Given his strength in telling stories, I should say that Bryan Singer succeeded in executing the script into cinematic narrative. Not only that, he succeeded in getting really good performances from the cast. James McAvoy (young Xavier), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Michael Fassbender (young Magneto) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) were evidently more confident and more comfortable in reprising their characters (note: they debuted together in X-Men: First Class).

The old cast composed of Patrick Stewart (old Xavier), Ian McKellen (old Magneto), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Halle Berry (Storm), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) all made a very welcome return. To be specific, it was only Patrick Stewart among them who had the most engaging dialogue with Ian McKellen being a distant second to him. As most of the film was set in the past, it was understandable that the old cast’s dialogue would not be that rich which translates to limited performance. The filmmakers tried bouncing back with mutant variety by having Bingbing Fan as Blink, Adan Canto as Sunspot and Booboo Stewart as Warpath, who all provided nicely in the action scenes and special effects use.

Bingbing Fan and Booboo Stewart as Blink and Warpath.

Hugh Jackman’s performance as Wolverine in this movie is the most unique of them all. Not only does he have to play TWO versions of his character, he as the only member of the old X-Men cast spent a great deal of time interacting with the newer X-Men players. The great news here is that Jackman has great chemistry with James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult and Michael Fassbender, which ultimately justified the crossover! Speaking of McAvoy, his scene with the older version of his character is very memorable and a highlight! Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask is excellent but to my surprise, he is not exactly villainous nor did he express cruelty. He’s more of an obsessed scientist and as such, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto easily overshadows him when it comes to being the main antagonist. This is surprising but not exactly a problem.

More on the anti-hero factor of the movie, I should say that the Sentinels in this movie are the most dangerous and the most intimidating non-sentient, scientific antagonists since the Terminator. Being programmed to deal with mutants, the Sentinels are unrelenting and often used violence to complete their objectives. The futuristic Sentinels, which are evolved versions thanks to Mystique’s DNA, are so formidable the mutants cannot simply defeat them. Even the 1970s Sentinels are quite formidable.

As mentioned earlier, I do confirm that Bryan Singer really outdid himself on delivering the spectacle back with support from the special effects team, the stunt team and the like. The action scenes involving the X-Men are top-notch, in fact they make the action in Singer’s previous X-Men films look minor in terms of creativity, quality and fun! The computer-generated effects in this movie still look great by today’s standard, although some CGI used in the floating stadium sequence looked rushed. Also it was quite a marvel to see Wolverine and Beast face-off with a 1970s Sentinel in the final act. I should mention that the slow-motion sequence involving Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) is one great and funny spectacle to watch, well worth replaying!

Conclusion

Jennifer Lawrence in her best-ever performance as Mystique.

I declare that X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) is the best-ever X-Men movie I have seen and it has aged very well! Its overall quality is very great and the combined talents of director Singer, the cast, the writers and all the technical teams justified it all. By today’s standards, this X-Men movie still stands very high among all superhero movies of Hollywood ever released! As an X-Men film, this one is truly epic and the true highlight of all X-Men movies under 20th Century Fox. As a time-travel film, this one has a very unique approach and it should be noted that director Bryan Singer approached James Cameron to talk about time travel, parallel universes and the like.

More on personal viewing, I can say that this film greatly entertained me in the cinema back in 2014, and it still succeeds in doing so whenever I replayed it on Blu-ray in the comfort of home. If there is anything I regret, it’s the fact that I never saw this movie in the IMAX cinema.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), visit Amazon for the Blu-ray release as well as the 4K Blu-ray combo release. There is also the Rogue Cut of the movie also on Blu-ray.

Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) 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 What If #13 (1990)

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 and X-Men fans. I’m about to review an issue of Marvel Comics’ What If monthly series which was published 1990 and was related to the X-Men as the central figure of the comic book is Charles Xavier (AKA Professor X).

To put things in perspective, Charles Xavier is forever known as the founder and leader of the X-Men. Within the Marvel Comics universe, he is one of the most powerful telepaths as well as a genius in science and genetics. He is a paraplegic who can do quite a lot and make an impact on the delicate relationship between his fellow mutants and the humans. In the movies, Xavier was portrayed by Patrick Stewart (first performance as Xavier in X-Men) and James McAvoy (first performance as Xavier in X-Men: First Class). Given his legacy of helping mutants gain rights through peaceful means, Charles Xavier has been compared with Martin Luther King, Jr. Going back to the comics, Xavier has a step brother named Cain Marko who became the X-Men villain Juggernaut.

With the background lesson done, we can now take a look back at What If #13, published by Marvel Comics in 1990 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Vince Mielcarek.

The cover drawn by Jim Lee.

Early story

The story begins in New York in the so-called near future. Graffiti artists attempt to run away from a team of mutants riding a floating vehicle. As Thunderbird is about to hit one of the humans, Cyclops stops him. Suddenly the mutants receive a telepathic message from their big boss who turns out to be Charles Xavier the Juggernaut.

Xavier is leading the effort against a group of humans who have been conspiring against them. Xavier declares, “They must be stopped—for the good of mutantkind!”

The X-Men in this particular story are fascist storm troopers policing a wretched, helpless humanity…

Quality

Xavier-Juggernaut with the X-Men and the invading Fantastic Four.

I can start by say that this comic book written by Kurt Busiek has one of the most compelling what-if scenarios that reflect not only its concept (of Charles Xavier becoming Juggernaut) but also the Marvel Comics universe as we know it. As dedicated X-Men fans know, Cain Marko was the one who touched the ruby in the cave which made him the mainstream Juggernaut. In here, the scenario was altered to make Charles Xavier become Juggernaut and the radical changes did not end there. Without spoiling the great stuff, I can say that this is one great exploration of an alternate version of events that affect not only the X-Men and their villains but also the many other superheroes of the Marvel universe as Xavier-Juggernaut went all-out with his dedication to mutantkind. I can say that in this story, symbolically speaking, Xavier easily outclasses the extreme Magneto on prioritizing mutants over humans.

Comic book concept aside, Kurt Busiek’s writing here is really excellent. Not only did he capture the traits of Xavier as he turned him into the alternate Juggernaut, Busiek also emphasized the many twisted events in the Marvel shared universe with sufficient details. The details implemented made the scenarios really believable. His script for this comic book was brought to life by Vince Mielcarek who did a good job making the characters recognizable (note: there were a lot of superheroes and villains here), showcasing the wide scope of changes made on people and places (in relation to Xavier-Juggernaut’s actions) and there was good pacing with the visuals.

Conclusion

Charles Xavier as you’ve never seen him before.

What If #13 (1990) is great to read and it is a must-have with its story alone. Apart from showing the concept’s deep impact on the Marvel Comics universe, I also enjoyed the way Kurt Busiek blurred the boundaries that separated good and evil. If you are an X-Men and you want to see something different with the mutants – especially Professor X – then you you will find a lot to enjoy here. This is a great alternate superhero story and definitely more people should be aware of this.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #13 (1990), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, What If #13 (1990) 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 #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 Adventures #3 (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.

Who is the most definitive X-Men villain ever? That is none other than Magneto! Co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Magneto made his literary debut alongside Marvel’s heroic mutants in The X-Men #1 way back in 1963. Magneto is capable of generating and controlling magnetic fields which make him dangerous since he has the power to manipulate metal and even use them as weapons against others, plus he can even cause destruction to buildings by moving the metal in them to bring them down.

What even makes Magneto more dangerous is his very strong belief that his fellow mutants are genetically superior over humans and he does not believe in the concept of mutants and humans co-existing. Character-wise, Magneto is the complete opposite of Charles Xavier/Professor X of the X-Men.

When it comes to pop culture influence, GamesRadar+ declared Magneto as the #1 best X-Men villain of all time. Even more intriguing was the super villain topping IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Villains List. Beyond comic books, Magneto also appeared in the X-Men arcade game of 1992 made by Konami. On November 27, 1992, Magneto made his debut in the Enter Magneto episode of the popular X-Men animated series on TV. The said episode was, unsurprisingly, adapted into comic book form in issue #3 of the X-Men Adventures monthly comic book series.

How was Magneto’s debut in the said monthly series? We can find out in this look back at X-Men Adventures #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space where Asteroid M is orbiting above planet Earth completely undetected. As a meteor is on-course to collide with Asteroid M, the operator of the asteroid activates its guns and hits it. While Asteroid M got spared, a smaller meteor found itself falling into Earth’s atmosphere. As it burns through the atmosphere, Charles Xavier spots it from inside his mansion.

Xavier turns his attention to Jean Grey. As they travel together, the doors open and Sabretooth enters landing on the floor. The two have yet to know him.

Over at a prison, the captured Hank McCoy/Beast thinks deeply inside his prison cell only to suddenly witness one of the walls get smashed by some powerful force. Magneto arrives and tells him he came for him…

Quality

The power of Magneto.

The writing, with credit to the screenwriters behind the animated episode, is pretty solid and the essence of the said episode was very well adapted into this comic book. As this is Magneto’s debut in the X-Men Adventure series reflecting his debut in animated series, his character is portrayed very accurately and it only made perfect sense for him to approach Beast first to try to convince him join his pro-mutant movement. More on the writing, Beast’s restraint brought out more of Magneto’s hardcore beliefs and his complete opposition towards humans.

Of course, the creators did not let down their efforts to portray the struggle mutants have under the laws of human society which is strongly reflected in Beast’s court hearing with Wolverine and Cyclops (in civilian forms) observing powerlessly. The court room drama and arguments were intense.

I should also state that there really was a nice build-up leading to the first battle (first half, actually) between the X-Men and Magneto. Unlike the battles in issues #1 and #2, the conflict here showed the X-Men more in danger which is only fitting considering how great the villain is.

Conclusion

Magneto and Beast.

X-Men Adventures #3 is a strong adaptation of the Enter Magneto episode. There is no doubt about that and most notably, the comic book creators did another good job making the TV animated episode’s concept engaging and fun to read. This comic book should be part of the collection of anyone who is passionate about Magneto.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $17.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #3 (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: 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.

Screenshot_20190613-151706_YouTube.jpg
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.

Screenshot_20190613-151113_YouTube.jpg
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.

Screenshot_20190613-151905_YouTube.jpg

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.


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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.