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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

X-aminations in July (-ish) 2018...and Beyond!

In the previous "upcoming X-aminations" post, I asked for feedback regarding the avenue I go down as I attempt to get back on schedule: take a break and post one-a-week Retro X-amination reviews, or simply slow my pace to one-a-week reviews for a while. In the end, I decided to split the difference, and do both!

So, after finishing up with the April '94 reviews, we'll look at a batch of retro reviews, followed by a handful of one-a-week standalone reviews of stuff on sale circa April and May of 1994. After that, hopefully, things will be back on a normal schedule and I'll have built up a backlog to help ride things out until at least the end of the year. 

And while the second half of the year will cover a fairly limited about a publication time (books on sale May through September of 1994), a lot of stuff is happening: "Phalanx Covenant", the next linewide crossover (and last traditional crossover for awhile) begins and ends, Joe Madureira returns to begin his run as the new regular artist on Uncanny X-Men, and the line adds its eighth non-reprint, non-future-set, non-cartoon tie-in monthly book in Generation X as the concept of "teaching young mutants how to use their powers" is dusted off and featured once more.
Additionally, one of the things I'm going to do moving forward with these "review schedule" posts, in order to add a little additional content/discussion points, is provide my monthly "power rankings" of all the series, based on how good the previous month's issues were and how much I enjoyed reading them. 

To kick that off, I'll rank the series based on roughly the last six months' worth of issues. So here are the inaugural "X-Book Power Rankings", and following that, the full list of upcoming reviews for the rest of 2018!

Power Rankings
1. Uncanny X-Men
2. X-Men (vol. 2) 

The two main titles start off in the top spot, and the line as a whole always does well when the "home" books are leading the way. Uncanny just barely gets the nod ahead of Adjectiveless on the strength of John Romita Jr. and the one-two-three punch of issues #308, #309 and #310, but X-Men #30 alone almost overpowers all that. 

3. X-Force
4. X-Factor

I'm as suprised as you are that X-Force is the third-best X-book in early 1994, but it's a testament to how well Nicieza has de-Liefelded the book and turned it into a proper New Mutants legacy title while still saying more or less true to the series "extreme!" roots. 

X-Factor, meanwhile, is the epitome of average: solid, consistent storytelling & art month in, month out, but little is happening to be excited by or that leaves much of an impact. Even Madrox' death didn't move the needle much. 

5. Cable 
Cable is moving in the right direction, after the continuity-laden "Fathers & Sons" cleanup story and the refreshingly-bog-standard Omega Red/Acolytes story, but it remains in search of consistency, both narratively and in terms of its creative team (it's never really had a stable one).

6. Wolverine
Wolverine, meanwhile, is up and down. Issues drawn by Adam Kubert tend to be pretty good, but he's absent more often than not. And for every issue #78 or #82 that, there's the interminable Cyber story that drags on too long. 

7. X-Men Unlimited 
Unlimited stays out of the bottom spot thanks to issue #3 (which introduced the whole "Sabretooth in the X-Mansion" plotline and, feelings about that plot aside, was reasonably competent in its execution) pulling up issue #4, which was outright terrible on nearly every level.

8. Excalibur 
Excalibur is only consistent in that it's a consistent mess. Characters cycle in and out, there's very little narrative direction despite a reasonably intriguing premise (Excalibur as Moira MacTaggert's X-Men, basically), and the creative team is a mess (with Lobdell neither shitting nor getting off the pot in terms of being the book's writer, scripting duties getting passed around, and Ken Lashley, the 'regular" penciler, skipping as many issues as he draws). There is simply no series at this point in time I dread reading more than Excalibur.

Now, a look ahead at upcoming reviews. As always, let me know if you spot any errors or omissions!

On Sale April 1994
July 4: Uncanny X-Men Annual #18
July 5: X-Men Unlimited #5
July 6: Cable #12

Retro X-aminations! 
July 11: Fantastic Four #28

July 18: Avengers #53

July 25: Hulk Annual #7

August 1: Marvel Team-Up #100

August 8: Wolverine/Nick Fury: Scorpio Connection

On Sale Circa May 1994
August 15: Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix #1-4

August 22: X-Factor/Spider-Man: Shadowgames #1-3

August 29: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series V

On Sale May 1994
September 5: Uncanny X-Men #314
September 6: X-Factor #104
September 7: Wolverine #83

September 12: X-Men (vol. 2) #34
September 13: X-Force #36
September 14: Excalibur #79

September 19: Cable #13

On Sale June 1994
September 26: Uncanny X-Men #315
September 27: X-Factor #105
September 28: Wolverine #84

October 3: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair Annual '94
October 4: Cable #14

October 10: X-Men (vol. 2) #35
October 11: X-Force #37
October 12: Excalibur #80

On Sale July 1994
October 17: Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2) #316
October 18: X-Factor #106
October 19: Excalibur #81

October 24: X-Men (vol. 2) #36
October 25: X-Force #38
October 26: Wolverine #85

October 31: Excalibur Annual #2
November 1: X-Men Unlimited #6
November 2: Cable #15

On Sale August 1994
November 7: Uncanny X-Men #317
November 8: X-Factor #107
November 9: Excalibur #74

November 14: X-Men (vol. 2) #37
November 15: X-Force #39
November 16: Excalibur #82

November 21: Generation X Ashcan/Generation X: Opening Volley/Generation X Collector's Preview

November 28: X-Men (vol. 2) Annual #3
November 29: X-Force Annual #3
November 30: Cable #16

On Sale September 1994
December 5: Uncanny X-Men #318
December 6: X-Factor #108
December 7: Wolverine #87

December 12: X-Men (vol. 2) #38
December 13: X-Force #40
December 14: Excalibur #83

December 19: Generation X #1

December 26: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpieces Series III


  1. I just wanted to say that I found your site about a month ago, and I'm a huge fan of your reviews. I've been working my way through your archives, gobbling up the New Mutants and Excalibur sections, as well as vast swaths of Uncanny.

    You are definitely covering the "sweet spot" of my comic-collecting teenage years. I started with either Wolverine 76 or Uncanny 308, then worked my way forwards and backwards from there. I eventually had the entire Uncanny run from X-Cutioner's Song up to just before Onslaught.

    Like you, I'm a huge fan of Cable, so I can't wait to read your take on the Adventurers of Cyclops and Phoenix. It's one of my favorite limited series of all time.

    Keep up the AMAZING work!

    1. Thanks! I'm excited to revisit the Cyclops/Phoenix mini again - it was a big favorite of mine back in the day.

  2. "November 21: Generation X Ashcan/Generation X: Opening Volley/Generation X Collector's Preview"

    Are these all the same book under different titles?

    Looking forward to the Phalanx Covenant (I remember the "main" part, the Generation X-centric part, holding up but not the rest) and especially Generation X. That book, at least on my revisiting, doesn't live up to the sum of its parts, but it's going to be interesting to read your take on it. Also, it took me FOREVER to find an issue thanks to that collector-bait cover; that's probably why I never got caught in the speculator boom - good ol' spite & resentment. :)

    1. The Gen X Ashcan is just a little 8 page collection of pinups (I think it was handed out at San Diego ComiCon in '94). OPENING VOLLEY is a little 8 page introductory story (written as a journal entry from Jubilee) that is notable because it references characters/plotlines (mostly Mondo) that don't show up in the series as presented. And the Collectors Preview is a MARVEL AGE/WIZARD-style promotional thing mixing in-universe information with real-world interviews & articles as such.

      I considered giving each their own post, but none seemed to offer enough content to warrant that, then thought about pairing up a couple and doing another post for the third, but ultimately decided to just do one big "pre-GENERATION X" preview post.


  3. I’d rank Wolverine higher than you. Maybe in part due to familiarity but also on quality. Then again, Elsie-Dee’s revival — at the hands of Bloodscream, inexplicably back himself right after a poetic death — could well lead to reassessment.

    // there's very little narrative direction [to Excalibur] despite a reasonably intriguing premise … and the creative team is a mess //

    No argument there… Although the team is — or should be, anyway — more than just X-Men based on Muir Island. It’s arguably (?) the first-response superhero group for not only the UK but all of Europe. Claremont & Davis kept the series relatively provincial most of the time, geographically if not — to its detriment, before long, per general acclamation — dimensionally speaking. Take all the premises set up earlier in Excalibur itself, however, many of which were annexed from previous Captain Britain comics, and you have so much wasted potential in them alone. Mashing up WHO and Dai Thomas and even the more precious stuff I have limited patience for like the Crazy Gang and RPX and Technet with established stuff from the X-Men world, now that Moira MacTaggert’s facility is the team’s new home base, could yield really interesting results but so far the would-be greater integration into the X-Men franchise has kept the title nearly as peripheral as before and far less unique. I’m happy that the team’s move to Muir Island has meant seeing more of its members outside its own title, at least, with the recently covered Wolverine issues a case in point.

    1. It’s arguably (?) the first-response superhero group for not only the UK but all of Europe.

      "Excalibur: European Avengers" is a premise I find infinitely intriguing but which, unfortunately, only ever got briefly teased by either Claremont & Davis. As much as I both enjoyed their runs (together & solo Davis), and both runs are infinitely better than what's happening in the series now, both were ultimately a little too insular, dealing with internal Captain Britain/X-Men stuff to the detriment of ever firmly establishing the group as a truly European supergroup, which is a shame.


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