Welcome back to another installment of Mutantversity! Mutantversity is your home for all things X-Men. In Mutantversity, I, your loyal X-Men tutor, will look at all the things happening in the mutant universe. Each month, I’ll look at a handful of titles and rotate around each month. I’ll keep focus on the most important books or what I consider the most noteworthy. That’ll include crossovers, events, new creative teams and first issues. This month, we’re looking at four key titles from September 2018.
Getting Into A Groove
“Iceman” #1 by Sina Grace, Nathan Stockman, Federico Blee and Joe Sabino
“Iceman” was one of my favorite recent stories in the X-Men universe. Sina Grace wrote a story that not only felt timely but evolved a character in a way that felt very natural, providing new opportunities for new stories, proving that even old dogs have new tricks. Other X-Men writers should take note of what “Iceman” did in its first run because it really is the kind of thing I think this part of the Marvel universe could use going forward. Thanks to how well the trade sold in bookstores (a market Marvel needs to pay more attention to), the series is back and hasn’t really lost a step. “Iceman” #1 brings us back to Bobby’s personal life where he’s gotten more comfortable with who he is but is starting to stress out about striking out with guys. He’s wondering what’s wrong with him and what’s changed because he never had trouble when he was dating women. While Bobby struggles with this, he also finds out about some drama happening with the Morlocks. They’ve been targeted by other mutants who see them as abominations because they live in the shadows. Many of them don’t have a “normal” outward appearance and so these mutants have targeted them. Bobby with Bishop, goes down to the underground and helps them out. At the end of the issue, after helping the Morlocks, Bobby goes back to the mansion and is greeted by the last person he probably wanted to see – Emma Frost. Things just got really juicy.
The first Iceman series took a little while to really get going and that’s the case with this issue. It isn’t bad by any means but it does take a little bit to find itself but by the end you’re hooked and that’s what matters most. Despite that, I think this first issue feels more comfortable than the first issue of the first run. Bobby has clearly become more comfortable with who he is now and that reflects in the writing and the art. The series has evolved and grown and become more sure of what it wants to be and that’s great. It also reads very well as a first issue. There’s no necessity to read the first series if you weren’t able to. You should but it’s not crucial to following this and that’s how all miniseries should operate. The last page stinger with Emma Frost is incredibly exciting because of all the characters to bring back into Bobby’s life, this is the most interesting. The two of them have a long history that neither one can really forget and I’m eager to see why she’s come to him. “Iceman” #1 is a really nice change of pace from the rest of the X-Men universe and the perfect series to read for anyone trying to avoid getting stuck in the big events.
That’s A Wrap
“X-Men: Gold” #36 by Marc Guggenheim, Pere Perez, Jay David Ramos and Cory Petit
The X-Men side of the Marvel Universe isn’t about to go under any huge chances but the two current flagship titles have now ended, paving the way for whatever the weekly “Uncanny X-Men” series is about to introduce. “X-Men: Gold” has honestly been my favorite of the two (“Blue” being the other) but it did have a fair share of ups and downs and wasn’t always that great. “X-Men: Gold” #36 is a really strange, heavy handed finale that doesn’t entirely feel like a conclusion but that’s sort of the point. This issue basically covers a day in the life of Kitty Pryde as a leader and a person. She’s still struggling with breaking things off with Colossus and keeps calling him, which honestly feels really insensitive of her. Then the X-men are called to help with a young omega level mutant who has lost control of his powers and his causing huge destruction and injury. Kitty is able to talk him down but he’s shot by a bystander who panics over what this kid has caused. Kitty absolutely loses it when they arrive at the hospital and the doctor tells her that he won’t help him because what if he goes off again when he’s under. Another doctor comes in and tells Kitty that she once hated mutants but way back in the early going of the series, she heard Kitty talk about wanting to prove how they weren’t doing any harm and would earn their trust. She says to Kitty that they did that and she decides to help the kid. The issue ends with us not finding out what happens to this kid but we’re left with a world that still hates and fears mutants.Continued below
I think the point of this issue was to show that even after all this time and work that nothing really changed for mutants and that kind of works to an extent. I wish we had gotten something a little more final feeling as far as the character arcs go. We didn’t really get any kind of resolution with Kitty and Colossus or Nightcrawler and Prestige. It’s all just more of the same which works for the thematic things. This team did so much to try and make things better but they are still hated and feared. However, they did change the heart oft his one particular person and that’s supposed to come off to us as a win. It’s a good call back but the character stuff still felt very unresolved and that’s a bummer. This series ends with a tribute to Chris Claremont and of the two flagship series, this was the one that felt more like an homage of sorts to Claremont even if it didn’t always work for me. I won’t say that I’ll miss the series but it is an ending of a small era and I am excited to see what comes next.
He’s Finally Actually Back I Guess
“Return of Wolverine” #1 by Charles Soule, Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten Laura Martin and Joe Sabino
“Return of Wolverine” opens by telling us that Wolverine was a hero and then he died and then he wasn’t dead. We’re then shown him all busted up, confused about who he is and where he is talking to a dying scientist. The scientist explains to Wolverine that he has to stop “them.” He tells him that Persephone is the one in charge of everything and he has to stop her at all costs. A bomb is then thrown at them and the scientist dies but Wolverine of course does not. He then has to fight a literal sabretooth and when he looks into a puddle of blood, he seems himself explaining that he has to remember who he is and go do what’s right. He steals a motorcycle and ends up at a camp of some kind where he stops an attack. A woman then helps him with his injuries and explains to him who he is and that he’s a hero to people despite all the killing. We see some flashbacks to Wolverine at a prison talking with this woman named Persephone and at the end of the issue he gets a new costume and decides to go meet this woman and unleash fury.
I have to admit, I find it super hard to get excited about this series because quite frankly, it’s just not all that important to me. I don’t have any ill feelings towards the character but this has been drawn out so much, comically so. We’ve already seen the character appear since he died. They’ve been teasing his return since he died so honestly, this whole thing has been dragging on for years. If you’re going to kill off a character for any period of time, actually do it. That means letting readers feel the absence of the character. We haven’t had a chance to feel that absence and then to bring him back before the series starts is just bizarre. He showed up on the day of Kitty and Colossus’s non wedding. We already saw him. We know he’s back. Do we need to go through an entire story where he can’t remember anything and also has flame claws? No, we don’t.
The issue itself reads like a fever dream which does work really well to sell us where Wolverine’s head is at right now. I’m also really obsessed with how McNiven draws Wolverine. Wolverine is visually at his best when he’s ugly and hairy. This is a very old school looking Wolverine that feels nasty and that’s what he’s always supposed to be. Rugged, handsome Wolverine does nothing for me. Keep him ugly McNiven, I’m a fan.
“X-23” #4 by Mariko Tamaki, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard and Cory Petit
“X-23” has so far been a really enjoyable read and in this month’s issue, the stakes just got taken to a new level. I often times jokes that if anything happened to Gabby that I would go on a rampage and now I am on a rampage against those sneaky, selfish Cuckoo Sisters. “X-23” #4 continues the story of the Cuckoos trying to bring back their dead sisters Esme and Sophie. They’ve discovered that they need an actual body to put Esme and Sophie into because what they’ve done without that hasn’t worked. Last issue we saw Sophie die again and now they are trying to put Esme into Gabby. Laura goes on the hunt and when she finally finds them, she’s too late. The Cuckoos have succeeded and Esme is now living inside of Gabby’s body but that’s not all, Sophie also lives and she’s sharing brain space with Laura. It’s getting really weird over in “X-23” but I’m here for it.Continued below
While this is Laura’s book, I think something really special is happening here with the Cuckoos. The last time I was this interested in anything they were doing was when they appeared in “All – New X-Men” and were going out of their way to be different from each other. Bendis had something there and Tamaki is picking that up with there being some slight dissension in the ranks. Not everyone is completely on board with what’s happening with Sophie in particular is telling Laura that they can’t be trusted entirely. There’s some uneasiness in the physically alive sisters and for years now they’ve all been kind of pushing against the bond they have to an extent. They are clones and often times dress the same and act the same but in recent years we’ve seen them dye their hair and do things separately only to have this bond force them back together as a collective. The Cuckoos are very special in the sense that they don’t really operate the way that Laura (a clone) and her clones operate. Laura and Gabby are very much different people and Laura is very different from Logan. This examination of the Cuckoos is really good so far and it’s a big part of my enjoyment of this story arc despite my worries about Gabby.