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Monday, June 24, 2019

X-aminations in July 2019...and Beyond!


The rest of 2019 sees the end of "Age of Apocalypse", the return of the prime reality in X-Men: Prime, and, of course, the start of build-up for the next big crossover event, "Onslaught". It also sees X-Man stick around even after the end of the reality which birthed it, setting it on the path to become the nadir of 90s X-Men comics.

You'll also notice, with the introduction of the post-AoA X-Man as the line's ninth regular monthly series, that I've shaken up the order of reviews a bit, mostly to place one of the three solo series (Wolverine, Cable and X-Man) into each week's coverage, so as to prevent Cable & X-Man from being reviewed in the same week (I can only handle so much Nate Grey at a time...). So basically, the order each week is main team book- spinoff team book - solo title.

This run of issues also brings us to the precipice of the launch of two series which I can't decide whether or not to cover. One is Professor Xavier and the X-Men, part of Marvel's line of $0.99 comics (of which Untold Tales of Spider-Man is the most remembered/best), which retells the early Silver Age stories with minor continuity tweaks (most of which are ignored; I don't believe anyone ever gave the series much canonical weight). The other is All New Exiles, a book published as part of Marvel's attempt to keep the Malibu Universe a thing after they bought the company, which features a cast that includes Reaper (of the MLF), Sienna Blaze, and Juggernaut (and ties into a brief Malibu-based revival of the Phoenix Force that is also mostly ignored these days).

I can make a case either way for reviewing and not reviewing each series as part of regular X-aminations coverage, so I throw open the question to the group: should either book (or both) be reviewed, or should they be held for potential coverage as Patreon-First or collected edition bonuses?

And as always, sounds off with any potential omissions or questions about exclusions in the comments, as well.

On Sale February 1995
July 3: Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen

July 10: Generation Next #2
July 11: X-Man #2

On Sale March 1995
July 17: Astonishing X-Men #3
July 18: Factor X #3
July 19: Weapon X #3

July 24: Amazing X-Men #3
July 25: Gambit and the X-Ternals #3
July 26: X-Calibre #3

July 31: X-Universe #1

August 7: Generation Next #3
August 8: X-Man #3

On Sale April 1995
August 14: Astonishing X-Men #4
August 15: Factor X  #4
August 16: Weapon X #4

August 21: Amazing X-Men #4
August 22: Gambit and the X-Ternals #4
August 23: X-Calibre #4

August 28: X-Men Chronicles #2

September 4: X-Universe #2

September 11: Generation Next #4
September 12: X-Man #4

September 18: X-Men Omega

On Sale May 1995
September 25: X-Men Prime

October 2: Uncanny X-Men #322
October 3: X-Factor #112
October 4: Cable #21

October 9: X-Men (vol. 2) #42
October 10: X-Force #44
October 11: Wolverine #91

October 16: Generation X #5
October 17: Excalibur #87
October 18: X-Man #5

On Sale June 1994
October 23: Uncanny X-Men #323
October 24: X-Factor #113
October 25: Cable #22 

October 30: X-Men (vol. 2) #43
October 31: Wolverine: Knight of Terra

November 6: Generation X #6
November 7: Excalibur #88
November 8: X-Man #6

On Sale July 1994
November 13: Uncanny X-Men #324
November 14: X-Factor #114
November 15: Cable #23

November 20: X-Men (vol. 2) #44
November 21: X-Force #45
November 22: Wolverine #92

November 27: Wolverine '95

December 4: Generation X #7
December 5: Excalibur #89
December 6: X-Man #7

December 11: X-Men '95

December 18: X-Men Unlimited #8

December 25: Wolverine/Gambit: Victims #1-4

1994 Power Rankings 

I'll rank the individual issues of "Age of Apocalypse" in next month's "Upcoming" column; for now, let's take a look at where the series as a whole stood heading into "Age of Apocalypse".

1. Uncanny X-Men 
1. X-Men (vol. 2) 

Which of the two main X-Men books is on top varies from month-to-month, with Nicieza the more consistently strong writer on X-Men (though Lobdell is not without his charms in this era) while Uncanny boasts the artistic talents of Joe Madureira (in theory, at least), though Andy Kubert is no slouch on the other series, either. In general, the X-books as a whole are usually when better when either Uncanny or Adjectiveless is leading the pack, and that's the case at this time.

3. Generation X 
4. X-Force 

With only four issues in the books, Generation X comes on strong. It isn't the most plot-rich series, but the combination of Lobdell's scripting, Bachalo's detailed & inspired pencils, and the focus on characterization elevates the book.

X-Force, similarly, stays strong thanks to a focus on characterization amidst the high-octane action, as Nicieza finishes up his run on the series by fully embracing the series as a grown-up New Mutants.

5. Wolverine

Wolverine lands thoroughly in the middle of the pack, with the quality varying from issue to issue. When Hama & Adam Kubert are on (as in, say, issues #87 and #90), the end result is top-notch. When a fill-in artist is present, or Hama gets the urge to wander or needs to delay things due to happenings in other books (as with issue #86 or #89), the end result is pretty bad.

6. Cable 
7. Excalibur

Both of these series are books which are finally coming into their own after landing regular creative teams following prolonged periods of creative malaise. It's a coin flip as to which of the two is better (Steve Skroce > Ken Lashley, but Warren Ellis > Jeph Loeb).

8. X-Factor 

It's a testament to the relative strength of the line that X-Factor is the worst book of the bunch: it is by no means a bad series (at least at this point), just a thoroughly average one. Any given issue has the potential to be better, than, say, one of the bad Wolverine issues, but it also lacks the ability to turn out a really standout issue. High floor, low ceiling, at a time when the ceilings of most of the other books are pretty high (or moving in that direction).

12 comments:

  1. I've said before, and I'll say it again: the post Fatal Attractions to pre-AOA is a great era for the X-titles, and one of the more underrated one. As you listed above, when X-factor, which was average, is the worst the line has to offer, then things aren't so bad.

    Granted, I'd probably change the rankings at the bottom a little, since the pre-Ellis Excalibur was...not good, and Cable's main pro-point going for it was definitely the art. But overall, the franchise as a whole was doing really well pre-AOA, and sadly for me what came after AOA just wasn't as good, despite the better production values.

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  2. I vote for ' Professor X and the X-Men' reviews being included in your regular posts.

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  3. I would vote no on both. Passing on Professor X and the X-men is consistent with (mostly) not reviewing Classic X-Men back-ups. And not reviewing Exiles would be consistent with not reviewing...the Champions or latter-era Defenders or something.

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  4. A 'No' on both from here. As far as I can remember, Prof X & the X-Men was just updated retellings of the Silver Age stories. And Exiles required knowledge of both the X-books' and the Malibu Ultraverse's mutual histories. I remember G. Kendall tried to review a couple of issues but basically reacted like Krusty watching "Worker & Parasite".

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  5. I vote no on both. There are plenty of books to review already, and those two are pretty non-essential. If those end up being Patreon exclusives or something, then it would be okay.

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  6. I'd like to see Prof X & X-Men reviewed on here or on Patreon. Exiles I'm indifferent.

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  7. I'd vote yes for "Professor Xavier and the X-Men" but I think it's clear that I'm in the minority there.

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    1. To be clear, that series (even moreso than the Malibu/Exiles stuff), I will review at some point - it's just a question if I do it as part of regular reviews, as a Patreon First thing, or hold it for possible fill-in/catch-up reviews at some point.

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  8. I’m nearly always on the side of inclusion and comprehensiveness but that can be an encumbrance. Since you passed on reviewing the new material in Classic X-Men and skipped certain solo/guest appearances in Marvel Team-Up and the like, I think holding these series in reserve for Patreon or fill-in reviews is at least as consistent as covering them in the normal course of things. I’d say to just make what feels like the healthiest decision for your schedule.

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