Monday, October 31, 2016


Writer/Penciler: You Know Who* | Guest Inker: Terry Austin
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
With Special Thanks to Roger Stern & Kurt Busek (sic)

* All parties involved seem to agree that a large portion of this issue was ghost-rewritten by Chris Claremont and ghost-repenciled by Jackson Guice, which led to John Byrne omitting his name from the credits.

The Plot: The Fantastic Four return to Earth and Avengers’ Mansion to find that the Avengers have recovered a peculiar energy cocoon from beneath New York’s Jamaica Bay. A quick analysis of the cocoon reveals a woman hidden inside, and Reed works overnight to eventually free her.

The girl is Jean Grey, formerly Marvel Girl of the X-Men, and after a brief skirmish she reveals that the last thing she remembers is battling Doctor Stephen Lang and his Sentinels on SHIELD’s orbital space platform. Reed, Sue, and Hercules take Jean to her parents’ house while Captain America studies old casefiles recorded by former X-Man and former Avenger, the Beast.

At the unoccupied Grey home, Jean finds a “holoempathic crystal” housing her essence, and that unlocks her memories of the X-Men’s escape from the platform and her encounter with a being called the Phoenix. Cap arrives and helps Jean and Reed piece things together: Jean was replaced by Phoenix in a simulacrum of her Earthly body, while she recovered from radiation poisoning in the hidden cocoon.

Later, back at Avengers’ Mansion, Reed prepares to place a phone call.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Hardcover, 2012. Collects 1995-96's UNCANNY X-MEN #320 - 321, X-MEN #40 - 41, CABLE #20, X-MEN ALPHA, AMAZING X-MEN #1 - 4, ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 - 4, FACTOR X #1 - 4, GAMBIT & THE X-TERNALS #1 - 4, GENERATION NEXT #1 - 4, WEAPON X #1 - 4, X-CALIBRE #1 - 4, X-MAN #1 - 4, X-MEN OMEGA, AGE OF APOCALYPSE: THE CHOSEN and X-MEN ASHCAN #2.

"Age of Apocalypse" is probably the one X-crossover from the nineties which is held in some esteem by most all fans. It's a legitimately creative and well-coordinated enterprise which dares to ask the question, "What would the world look like if Professor X had been killed twenty years earlier by his time-traveling son?"

This is one of the few classic X-events collected as an Omnibus rather than a simple oversize hardcover. I'm not sure why Marvel bothers with one distinction over the other, but it seems worth noting. Other than the branding and trade dress, however, this volume is essentially done in the exact same style as any of the prior books I've covered here in recent months.

"But wait!" you say, your spider-sense tingling. "Didn't you skip the AGE OF APOCALYPSE PRELUDE trade paperback listed on your X-MEN COLLECTED EDITIONS page? The book that contains UNCANNY X-MEN 319 and X-MEN 38 and 39, bridging the gap between PHALANX COVENANT and this very Omnibus?" The answer is yes, I did. That book, which also includes X-FACTOR 108 and 109, UNCANNY 320 and 321, X-MEN 40 and 41, and CABLE 20, was released in 2011 but I've never bothered to pick it up for a couple reasons: One, some of the reprint contents are identical to this Omnibus, covering the "Legion Quest" crossover which kicks things off. But I've never been afraid of double-dipping -- within reason -- in the past, so the other reason is that the PRELUDE volume is notorious for having been printed on extremely cheap newsprint-style paper. So between those two issues, I just haven't been able to bring myself to purchase it without a really steep discount (like, say 75% off at minimum). Thus, for now, that small hole in my ongoing X-chronology remains regrettably unfilled.

Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, our Omnibus opens up with the afore-mentioned "Legion Quest" storyline, running through UNCANNY X-MEN 320, X-MEN 40, UNCANNY 321, X-MEN 41, and CABLE 20. In this short crossover, Storm, Psylocke, Iceman, and Bishop travel back in time in an attempt to stop Professor X's son, Legion, from killing Magneto. They succeed, but Legion accidentally slays his own father instead, altering the timeline in numerous ways.

Friday, October 28, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Andrew Wildman | Inks: Erik Sander
Additional Inks: Rob Armstrong | Colors: Alan Wang & Ramil Sunga | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Grimlock is defeated by the Fallen, then he and Jetfire are carted away by the villain and his disciples, but Shockwave, playing possum, observes their departure. Later, Prowl receives a call from Swoop indicating that Grimlock and the others are all missing and there are signs of a battle in the spot where they were to meet. Prowl suggests that both groups work together to find their missing teammates, then the Fallen attacks Autobase's holding cells.

Meanwhile, the Protectobots mull over their recent battle with Trypticon. Bludgeon, Mindwipe, and Bugly attack and defeat them, taking Hot Spot prisoner. Back at Autobase, the Fallen cuts through a trio of Autobot guards and frees Blitzwing from incarceration.

Later, Jetfire awakens to find himself, along with Grimlock, Blitzwing, and Hot Spot, shackled to a large machine which the Fallen indicates will take their lives as part of some unknown war effort.

Continuity Notes: Jetfire deduces that the Fallen hails from Cybertron's distant past, sometime before the "Golden Age". The Fallen scoffs at this term and declares that Cybertron has now entered a Dark Age.

Prowl refers to Blitzwing as an experiment and we later learn that he was created (or modified) by Shockwave.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Story & Art: John Byrne | Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
And the one and only Joe Sinnott, Special Guest Inker

The Plot: An alien the Fantastic Four once knew as the “Infant Terrible” arrives on Earth seeking their help. The FF accompany the Infant back to his “homeworld”, where they’re attacked by a Skrull warlord and her forces. Reed then reveals that the FF figured out the Infant was a Skrull agent and they played along with him to find out what he was up to.

The group’s adventure is far from over, however, as they learn that, since the collapse of the Skrull Empire in the aftermath of Galactus’s destruction of their throneworld, the asteroid which once beamed Super-Skrull’s powers across the galaxy has been taken over by a Skrull splinter group, and the leader of that group has plans which could result in the end of the universe.

The FF travel to the asteroid, where they bump into the Avengers. The Skrull warlord Zabyk activates his device, and the genetic code of every Skrull in the universe is rewritten, destroying the species’ ability to shapeshift.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander | Additional Inks: Rob Armstrong
Colors: Espen Grundetjern, Alan Wang, & Rob Ruffalo | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Prowl and his team battle Trypticon while Grimlock and the Lightning Strike Coalition head for the meeting site between Jetfire and Skywarp. The rest of Grimlock's group wants to go join the fight against Trypticon, but Grimlock disagrees.

Shockwave and Jetfire meet in the Neutral Terretories to trade intelligence, but they're ambushed by Bludgeon, Mindwipe, and Bugly. Meanwhile, Autobot reinforcements arrive to aid Prowl's team against Trypticon. In the Neutral Territories, Shockwave is easily defeated and Mindwipe ensnares Jetfire's mind. The trio of Fallen disciples is about to leave with Jetfire as their prisoner when Grimlock appears and takes them down. He then turns his attention to Jetfire, intending to execute him.

Grimlock's warriors, Slag, Swoop, Snarl, and Sludge, arrive to help against Trypticon, but the giant battle base receives a distress signal from Shockwave and retreats. Meanwhile, Grimlock is about to finish off Jetfire when the Fallen appears to challenge him.

Continuity Notes: It was teased last issue, and is elaborated upon slightly here, that Grimlock and Jetfire have some past together, presumably dating back to their shared history as Decepticons.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Written and Penciled by John Byrne | Inked by Al Gordon
Colored by Glynis Oliver | Lettered by John Workman
Edited by: Michael Carlin | Supervised by Jim Shooter

The Plot: Tommy Hanson, a thirteen year-old boy and the Human Torch’s biggest fan, has a bad day and goes home, where he lights himself ablaze using an eccentric neighbor’s radio controlled airplane fuel.

A month later, Doctor Janet Darling of the South Queens Hospital For Sick Children seeks out Johnny Storm and asks him to visit Tommy. Johnny agrees and arrives just as Tommy passes away. His final words are to tell the Torch that he lit himself on fire to emulate his hero.

Johnny returns to his apartment and tells Sue, Alicia, and She-Hulk that he plans to give up being the Human Torch. But the Beyonder appears and takes Johnny on a tour of Tommy’s past, showing him that the Torch and his exploits meant the world to Tommy. Johnny decides to remain the Torch after all.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Byrne plays up the Fantastic Four’s celebrity a bit this issue, featuring a Human Torch interview in an issue of –errm— Celebrity magazine, and showing a TV Guide listing for an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous spotlighting the team.

The FF are still living at Avengers’ Mansion following the destruction of the Baxter Building back in issue 279. Construction of their new headquarters is underway, a building which Reed declares will be three times as tall as the Baxter Building and feature a basement complex three times deeper.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Just one thing this time, continuing the trend of slim pickings in recent months: it's the POWER MAN AND IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION: REVENGE! from Marvel. I find it interesting that Marvel chose this book to coincide with the debut of LUKE CAGE on Netflix, rather than an Epic Collection dedicated specifically to the original LUKE CAGE, HERO FOR HIRE series -- though I suppose the reasoning may have been not to step on the feet of the HERO FOR HIRE MASTERWORKS series which began last year.

Speaking of last year, the release of this volume weirdly mirrors the release of the first POWER MAN AND IRON FIST Epic Collection, HEROES FOR HIRE, from last summer -- it was also the sole book I received that particular month.

And holy cow, has it really been over a year since then?? I was all set to write a post praising Marvel for fast-tracking the PM&IF Epics with two released in the span of only a few months! Time flies, I guess. But at any rate, I wouldn't be surprised to see a third volume in this series hit the fast track when IRON FIST premieres on NetFlix next March, since the IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION already came out last year.

Finally, while I'm plugging Marvel trades, I'll mention that on a related, note, the late nineties HEROES FOR HIRE series by John Ostrander and Pascual Ferry is on the way from Marvel in a pair of trade paperbacks due out in quick succession this coming December and January. This fun (and funny!) series was one of my favorite Marvel comics during its all too brief nineteen-issue run and, with the caveat that I haven't actually read it since it was originally released, I highly recommend it: Volume 1 | Volume 2

Friday, October 14, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Andrew Wildman | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Ruffalo & Ramil Sunga | Letters: Benjamin Lee
President: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee
Creative Director: James McDonough | Project Manager: Derek Choo-Wing

The Plot: Springer fights Ratbat while Defensor and Devastator duke it out as well. At Autobase beneath Iacon, Jetfire converses with Trailbreaker and Bluestreak. Meanwhile, Prowl leads a unit to investigate the Decepticons' new mobile base, which reveals itself as a gigantic Transformer called Trypticon.

Devastator and Defensor continue their duel while the Wreckers prepare to retreat. Meanwhile, Jetfire begins analyzing data on the various factions' movements. The fight between Defensor and Devastator is joined by Springer. Jetfire contacts Shockwave and the pair prepare to meet to discuss Jetfire's findings.

Separated into their individual components, the Protectobots rig a trap which stuns and dismantles Devastator as he's about to finish Springer. In the aftermath, the Constructicons are captured. Elsewhere, Grimlock views a distress signal from Prowl and footage of the communication between Jetfire and Shockwave.

Continuity Notes: Springer and Ratbat debate the "Crisis Intervention Accord", which apparently prohibited the various combiner teams from participating in the multi-faction war.

Jetfire reveals that he discovered Trypticon in the first place and wonders why Prowl didn't invite him along to investigate. He also determines that the various Transformer factions are being manipulated by some outside force, a revelation which piques Shockwave's interest.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Written and Penciled by: John Byrne
Inked by: Kim DeMulder | Colored by: Petra Scotese | Lettered by: Janice Chiang
Editors: Michael Carlin & Michael Higgins | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Nick Fury is instructed by his superiors to bring She-Hulk in for study. Fury takes a leave of absence to protest the order. Later, as She-Hulk and Wyatt Wingfoot are out on a date, a pair of SHIELD Mandroids arrives to arrest her. Following a brief skirmish, the Mandroids, She-Hulk, Wyatt, and a group of bystanders are beamed up to the SHIELD Helicarrier. Aboard, She-Hulk is humiliated by an agent named Dooley before acting director Dum Dum Dugan arrives to confine him to quarters.

Later, as Dum Dum speaks with She-Hulk and Wyatt in his office, he receives a call summoning him to Washington and placing Dooley in charge. With Dum Dum gone, Dooley immediately locks up Wyatt and subjects She-Hulk to a battery of tests. Eventually, after being returned to her cell with Wyatt, She-Hulk changes to Jennifer Walters and slips free.

As Jen explores the helicarrier, Dooley is accosted by a decaying vagrant who wandered away from the teleported bystanders. Soon, the helicarrier begins listing. She-Hulk learns that Dooley cleared the bridge and took control of the craft, so she makes her way into the bridge from outside the ship, where she defeats Dooley. SHIELD agents attempt to retake control of the helicarrier but it crashes. With the vessel’s atomic pile in meltdown, She-Hulk heads inside and disables it.

Later, Mister Fantastic runs tests on She-Hulk and determines that, due to the additional radiation exposure from the pile, she can never again change back into Jennifer Walters.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Andrew Wildman | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Ruffalo & Ramil Sunga | Letters: Benjamin Lee
President: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee
Creative Director: James McDonough | Project Manager: Derek Choo-Wing

The Plot: The Fallen leads Bludgeon, Bugly, and Mindwipe into the Well of All Sparks beneath Cybertron. Meanwhile, Springer and the Wreckers come into conflict with Devastator. Elsewhere, the Protectobots learn of Devastator's appearance. Springer is separated from his unit and encounters the villainous Ratbat.

Beneath Cybertron, Bludgeon and the others make plans involving Grimlock. Above, the Wreckers are joined in their battle against Devastator by the Protectobots in their combined form of Defensor. Springer escapes from Ratbat while, at Autobase beneath Iacon, Jetfire returns to find the place deserted.

Continuity Notes: The Fallen gives Bludgeon a vision of some apocalyptic racial memory residing within all Transformers.

It's implied that, as the very first Transformer combiner, Devastator is imperfect, being kind of dumb in his united form.

Ratbat leads a faction of Transformers called the Ultracons, which includes the Constructicons and the "deluxe" Insecticions, Venom, Barrage, Chop Shop, and Ransack (at least I assume Barrage is a member; the other three are pictured in this issue but he isn't).

Monday, October 3, 2016


Artist/Writer: John Byrne | Letterer: John Workman | Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Edits: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
And welcome back to Al Gordon, Inker

The Plot: She-Hulk toils as a slave in the mines of Nuvidia, her will sapped by Psycho-Man. She meets Pearla, former queen of Nuvidia, who explains how Psycho-Man came to rule her land. When a guard comes across the pair and wounds Pearla, She-Hulk snaps out of her fearful state and fights back.

Meanwhile, Psycho-Man escapes the Fantastic Four’s custody and the remaining trio splits up to find him. When Reed begins to doubt himself, Sue realizes Psycho-Man is nearby. Using her power of invisibility, she gets the drop on him and takes his emotion control box, which she then uses on him.

Johnny runs across She-Hulk and Pearla and the FF are reunited. With Psycho-Man defeated, Pearla reclaims her throne. In the aftermath of the conflict, Sue declares that the Invisible Girl is no more — she will now be known as the Invisible Woman.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: First and foremost, this issue marks a major (and long overdue) update to Susan Richards: she adopts the codename “Invisible Woman” to reflect the experience and maturity she’s gained since becoming an adventurer years earlier.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Hardcover, 2014. Collects 1993-94's UNCANNY X-MEN #306, #311 - 314, & #316 - 317, X-MEN #36 & 37, X-FACTOR #106, X-FORCE #38, EXCALIBUR #78 - 82, CABLE #16, and WOLVERINE #85.

No, your eyes don't deceive you. Reading the contents above and comparing them with the contents of THE WEDDING OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX, which we covered last time, we've skipped five issues of X-MEN. This can be seen in greater detail over on my popular X-Men Collected Editions Chart. This gap is notable for being the only chunk of Fabian Nicieza's X-MEN uncollected, as well as one of only two chunks (along with issues 58 - 61) of uncollected X-MEN in general when using Scott Lobdell's five-year run on the sister title as a measuring stick (which itself is only missing issues 338 - 340 at this point). With any luck, someday in the near future, Marvel will plug these small holes and we'll finally have a full run of the Lobdell/Niciza UNCANNY and X-MEN in collected format.

At any rate -- "Phalanx Covenant" was 1994's X-Men event, pitting the merry mutants against the techno-organic Phalanx, a sort of mutated offshoot of the alien Technarchy which begat deceased New Mutant Warlock. The hardcover collection starts up with the obligatory recap, before moving into some lead-in material preceding the crossover proper. Remember when X-MEN: FATAL ATTRACTIONS skipped UNCANNY X-MEN #306 but included issue 315 as an epilogue? Well, PHALANX COVENANT is here to fix that little problem, plugging the issue 306 hole by printing that Phalanx-centric tale here, but skipping the non-Phalanx issue 315 instead. It's almost like they planned it that way!

UNCANNY 306's inclusion is due to the fact that it's the X-Men's first encounter with the Phalanx, as writer Scott Lobdell and artist John Romita, Jr. send Archangel and Jean Grey into the clutches of their old enemy Cameron Hodge at Archangel's one-time home in New Mexico. This represents something Lobdell did often during his run on UNCANNY; something I really like: he introduces the villain of the following year's crossover somewhere in the vicinity of the current year's. In this case, the X-Men were in between chapters of "Fatal Attractions" when the Phalanx were introduced.