Tag Archives: Side Project COE

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Official Trailer Released!

All you Halo fans out there, sit back and enjoy the first official trailer to Microsoft’s hour and a half commercial for Halo 4.  OK, maybe not, but the whole objective of this live-action web-series is to get you ubber excited forHalo 4.  I want to know if it worked!

So what do you think? Some of the acting is a little questionable, but it’s nice to see Anna Popplewell (of Narnia fame) again, and seeing Master Chief is always a plus.  So does this pump you up for Halo 4, or were you laughing through the whole trailer?  I want to hear your thoughts!

Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 6: Schism

X-Men: Schism was a five-issue summer event that began in July 2011.  It followed the X-Men storylines that began way back in September 2004 with Avengers #500.  Events in that storyline, which focused on the disassembling of the Avengers, led into the huge House of M event in June 2005.  From there the X-Men became an Endangered Species (June 2007), and eventually had several major changes because of, Messiah Complex (October 2007), Messiah War (May 2009), and Second Coming (March 2010).  Each of these events has been discussed earlier, but now we shift focus to Schism, in which the landscape of the X-Men and mutants as a whole will be changed forever.

It’s important to remember that during this time period the Marvel Universe as a whole went through major changes thanks to Civil War (July 2006), Secret Invasion (April 2008), Dark Reign (December 2008), Siege (January 2010), and Fear Itself (April 2011).

After all the insane events that have transpired since 2004, the X-Men were finally catching a bit of a break.  With Hope now safely on Utopia, it looked as though perhaps there would be a future for mutant kind after all.  Sadly that brief glimmer of hope didn’t last very long.

The story begins with Cyclopes and Wolverine attending a peace conference where Scott tries to tell the world’s leaders that it’s about time they fully remove their Sentinels (those giant mutant-killing robots created many years ago).  He says that the X-Men are willing to help dismantle the robots, and do whatever it takes to make sure these vile things are never used again.  Given there are only around 200 mutants left in the whole world now, it’s clear that the use of genocidal Sentinels is long past.

Several leaders take offense to claims they’re harboring Sentinels, but in the end it doesn’t matter as a mutant activist named Quentin Quire enters the conference and releases a telepathic wave that, for a brief moment, causes all the leaders of the world to spout out their dirtiest secrets.  This is all caught on camera for the rest of the world to see.  Needless to say this causes worldwide outrage, and is seen as a mutant-led terrorist attack.  All the different countries of the world retaliate by activating the very Sentinels they said they didn’t have.  Cyclopes and Wolverine fly back to Utopia to prepare for the inevitable onslaught that will follow.

There's no coming back from dark secrets like these.

It’s at this point when Quentin Quire shows up on Utopia and asks for sanctuary.  Cyclopes says he will be tried by a jury of his peers, but Wolverine tells him that they should turn him in to the Avengers.  Right then Steve Rogers contacts Cyclopes to offer his sympathies for everything going on, but also asks if Quentin has shown up on Utopia, and Cyclopes lies and says no.  You can see this lie will eventually come back to haunt him.

This was the worst mistake Cyclopes ever makes.

Back in the rest of the world the Sentinels start running amok.  Having been in storage for so long they no longer hunt mutants, but humans as well.  Cyclopes has no choice but to send all the X-Men to various parts of the world so they can help those very people that hate and fear them.  Meanwhile, a new X-Men museum is opening up in San Francisco, where Utopia is located next to, and Cyclopes feels this would be a very good time to flex his muscle and show the world just how powerful some of the X-Men are.  He sends Magneto, Namor, Emma Frost, Colossus, and Ice Man to the grand opening, which is being televised worldwide.

While all of this is going on Wolverine feels like he’s useless just sitting at Utopia doing nothing.  All his comrades are fighting elsewhere in the world, but Cyclopes benches him just in case someone decides to bring the fight to Utopia.  What’s Wolverine to do if he can’t fight?  That’s right, he heads to a bar.  Only minutes later terrorists hit the museum and neutralize all of the most powerful X-Men with little to no effort.

Of the entire storyline this is what I disliked the most, children being so powerful just felt odd.

These terrorists are actually the newest members of the Hellfire club, and they’re all children, as in twelve years old or so.  These kids are blessed with the uncanny genius of their parents, but they’re also certifiably insane.  Even though they posses no mutant powers, their combined wealth and intellect is enough to overthrow the Hellfire club, and put in motion all the events that led up to the museum attack.  They hired the mutant, Quentin Quire, to use his telepathic abilities to get trigger the world incident.  They helped finance governments to activate their long forgotten Sentinels, and now they just hit the museum’s opening and knocked down the biggest and best X-Men.

Cyclopes and Wolverine both try to make their way to the museum because, Idie, one of the youngest members of Utopia is the only mutant who was able to hide while the attacks were going on.  Cyclopes tells her to do whatever she feels comfortable doing, i.e. attack the terrorist and prevent them from setting off an explosive device.  Wolverine, who can only contact Scott, can overhear what he’s telling Idie, but can’t talk with Idie directly, tells Scott to tell her to get out of the building and they would handle it.  Scott ignores his pleas, and Idie comes through and saves the day, but has to kill several Hellfire Club members in the process.  Sadly the young masterminds behind this manage to get away though, long before Cyclopes and Wolverine arrive.

When they finally do arrive Wolverine is furious that Cyclopes didn’t tell Idie to get out before they arrived.  In essence, Cyclopes let a teenager kill.  Cyclopes says she’s a hero, but you can feel the bitterness between the two.  Just when you think everything is ok, the bomb goes off, but instead of it just being a regular bomb, it’s actually a device that sucks in all metallic objects and forms a gigantic super Sentinel.  It has only one goal in mind, the eradication of Utopia.

All the mutants from the museum race back to Utopia, and a choice must be made.  Given there are no X-Men left to defend Utopia, what can do they do?  The youngest members say they can stand and fight, but they have no combat training.  Magneto, Namor, and all the other AAA-listers are in the infirmary completely useless, so can Wolverine and Cyclopes defeat this super Sentinel all by themselves?  Wolverine tells the kids to get out, and commands Cyclopes to give the order to evacuate Utopia, and he’ll ignite the 2,000 pounds of explosives they have buried in the island for just such an event.  Cyclopes says this is their home and if the kids want to help defend it, they have every right.

This argument causes a permanent rift between Wolverine and Cyclopes.

Eventually the two start fighting, but not before the super Sentinel attacks.  The kids come out and together they manage to destroy it.  The damage is done though.  Wolverine tells Cyclopes that they’ve failed in their mission, that children shouldn’t be used as soldiers and that he can’t stand by and let this happen, so he leaves…and takes whoever wants to go with him.  Cyclopes urges him not to go and especially not to divide their numbers at such a time.  Sure they have the mutant messiah Hope, but only five new mutants have shown up on Cerebra since her arrival.

We’re then shown a scene where the Hellfire Club children are placing thousands of orders for the super Sentinel used on Utopia, so clearly this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these little brats.

Wolverine takes a rat pack group of kids and flies to the remains of the X-Men mansion where he says it’s about time someone start a new future here.  Thus ends X-Men: Schism.

Who would have thought it would be Logan to rebuild Xavier's school for higher learning?

Featuring great writing, and a beautiful collection of artists, this event was one of the better X-events.  The only part that didn’t sit particularly well with me was the Hellfire Club being completely overtaken by genius children.  I just didn’t feel that, but everything to do with the X-Men came off perfectly.  You could feel the anger and resentment in Wolverine when Idie, just a teenager, was forced to kill.

This X-Men event would have major repercussions that are still being felt today.  After this series, Marvel released a one-shot called X-Men: Regenesis whereby all the X-Men from around the world decided where their allegiances lied.  Half stayed on Utopia, and half left with Wolverine to recreate Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters.  While this seemed bad enough, no one knew what was coming shortly afterwards because this summer, the X-Men have their greatest challenge yet, an all out war with the Avengers, and the return of the Phoenix.

Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 5: Second Coming

At long last we come to the end of Marvel’s mutant messiah trilogy.  All the main X-book writers including Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells, and Mike Carey wrote Second Coming.  The story, like Messiah Complex before it, was featured in virtually all the on-going X-series including Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, X-Men: Legacy, and X-Force.  It was released from March to July 2010, and primarily dealt with the aftermath of Cable and Hope’s long awaited return home.

There are a few key developments that happened in-between Messiah War and Second Coming.  First off, Cable and Hope were reunited, but Hope was now a teenager.  The two were separated right at the end of Messiah War when Hope broke free of Cable’s grasp during the timestream jump.  Cable and Hope also finally managed to defeat Bishop, and Hope now knows that she’s supposed to be some kind of mutant messiah.

Second Coming begins with the timestream jump back home.  Hope and Cable arrive and are immediately attacked by anti-mutant terrorists.  The who’s who of anti-mutant sentiment have banded together including future master Sentinel, Bastion, and human allies Stephen Lang, Bolivar Trask, William Stryker, Graydon Creed, and Cameron Hodge.  Needless to say, this is it, the end-all fight the X-Men have feared.  With mutant numbers now down to 181, they have very little chance of survival.  Everything rests on Hope’s slender shoulders.

Cable and Hope have their first battle where they thought it would be safe, at Xavier’s school for higher learning.  When they learn the X-Mansion is no longer there, after having been completely destroyed earlier, they hit the road.  Eventually the two make their way to a hotel room, where we see Hope is actually a teenage girl after all.  She enjoys having a shower, easy access to food, etc.  She’s grown up with such harsh conditions that it’s nice to see her finally let loose and relax for once.  That doesn’t last long as the two are attacked by Purifiers.  We learn that Bastion is able to track Cable because of the tech virus he has been controlling ever since he was a child.  Bottom line, they can’t run because they’ll always be one step behind.

Cyclopes’ Alpha Team, (Wolverine, X-23, Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Psylocke and Magik), come to Cable’s aid.  Cyclopes learns of Cable’s return from Cerebra and immediately puts a hundred and one plans into action.  They all equal the same thing, reach Hope, and bring her back to Utopia (mutant island just off of San Francisco) in one piece.  One of the Purifiers opens a portal to Limbo that Magik (Colossus’ younger sister) cannot control and before anyone knows what’s happening she is sucked into it.

When there’s a slight pause in the action Cable talks strategy with Wolverine, and they realize that Cable must separate from Hope if they have any chance of survival.  Hope takes off with Nightcrawler and Rogue, while Cable stays behind as a diversion with Wolverine and the rest of the Alpha Team.

While all of this is going down Beta Team is sent in to investigate mysterious towers that are appearing all around Utopia.  Eventually the New Mutants discover there’s something special about these towers and that they all communicate with one another.  The New Mutants are attacked, some are seriously injured, but at the end of the day they make it out alive.  They tell Cyclopes that the X-Men need to destroy these towers before they’re activated.

Rogue, Nightcrawler and Hope teleport almost non-stop to Utopia.  Just before their last jump Bastion himself attacks the trio.  He gives Rogue a serious beating and just as he’s about to grab hold of Hope, Nightcrawler teleports between them, and is impaled by Bastion’s arm.  He grabs Hope and Rogue and teleports to Utopia, where he collapses, looks at Hope and tells her that he believes in her before he closes his eyes for the last time.

When all the mutants return to Utopia, Cyclopes tries to hold a true Catholic funeral, but tensions are extremely high.  Beast blames Cyclopes for Kurt’s death, and his X-Factor secret is let loose.  Storm is extremely disappointed that Cyclopes would purposely put together a team of killers and use them to gather intel, etc.  Cyclopes says he would do it all again in a heartbeat if it means saving their species.  Tough choices had to be made, and he made them.

Suddenly explosions start going off all over the place and it’s revealed that Cerebra, the Blackbirds, and all other forms of transportation off Utopia have been destroyed.  The towers that were erected also explode and the end result is Utopia gets encased in a giant red sphere.

Outside the sphere the Avengers try to aid their mutant friends, but to no avail.  Nothing can penetrate the sphere.  Inside things go from bad to worse as a portable opens up within the sphere and NIMROD Sentinels start pouring out of the portal.  These are incredibly strong Sentinels from the future, and they’re appearing five at a time.  After the time rift is scanned it is determined that there are 170,000 NIMROD Sentinels on the other side.  The mutant race is about to come to an end unless Cyclopes can figure a way to stop it.

After several battles and lots of back and forth on how to solve the issue Cyclopes comes up with the idea that Cable will take X-Factor into the future and stop the source of the problem.  Cypher is selected to go with them, he has the ability to control machines if he can gain access to the source.  Cable and Cyclopes both know this is a one-way trip as Cable only has one jump left.  He grabs hold of Hope and for the first time tells her he loves her, and “good-bye,” which is something he never ever told her before.  Hope freaks out when she learns that Cyclopes knowingly sent his own son on a suicide mission, along with Wolverine and many others.

As every mutant on Utopia fights for their life, the story goes back and forth between Utopia and X-Factor in the future timeline.  Eventually X-Factor is successful in shutting down all the NIMROD Sentinels, and prevent more from going back to the past.  When the team attempts to use the open time portal, they discover that only inorganic material can pass through it.  Cable sacrifices himself, allowing the tech virus to completely change his body to metal.  He then forces the portal open allowing all of X-Factor to pass through.  Hope sees him on the other side of the portal and screams for him, but it’s too late as Cable vaporizes, with only his metallic arm left on the ground.

Looking on in horror Bastion informs his human colleagues that he will finish the job himself, and that the mutants will not be allowed to win this day.  He flies directly for Hope, who is so infuriated by the death of her “father” that she single-handily destroys Bastion with what appears to be the Phoenix energy force.  It also blasts a giant hole right through the sphere, which then disappears.  Hope then completely passes out.

Later that night when the X-Men are celebrating with a bonfire, Emma notices that the flames around Hope start to take the shape of a Phoenix, which triggers a flashback to the Sisterhood storyline where Jean freed her from Lady Mastermind’s illusion, and told her to “prepare.”  Scared out of her mind she races off to find Cyclopes, who is in the Cerebra control room.  She doesn’t get a chance to say anything though because Cyclopes looks at Emma and says “I knew it,” as five new mutants are discovered by Cerebra, meaning perhaps Hope is the messiah after all.

Hands-down the best part of this event was the Cable and Hope parts.  I’m a sucker for character development and it felt completely natural after all these years.  Hope considered Cable her father and the greatest betrayal she has faced was what Cyclopes did to her, by letting Cable go into the future knowing he was never going to return.  I also enjoyed how we’re still not clear exactly what Hope’s powers are, and whether or not she will bring about the future of mutant kind or end all life on Earth.

The aftermath of this event would eventually lead into the final X-event before Avengers vs. X-Men, which was called X-Men: Schism.  Leading up to that Beast would leave Utopia and become a Secret Avenger, and Hope would become interested in finding her real family.  Eventually the X-Men are considered heroes for saving San Francisco during the Bastion sphere attack.

After years of back-to-back storylines running through the various X-books, and House of M, the mutants finally looked like their future was secure, but within a very short time period their world would be flipped outside down yet again.  Tomorrow we look at Schism, the very last event before Hope takes center stage in what is ‘supposed’ to be the single biggest event in Marvel’s history, Avengers vs. X-Men.

Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 4: Messiah War

Messiah War picks up quite a while after Messiah Complex.  It was written by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Duane Swierczynski from May to July 2009.  The story began in X-Force/Cable: Messiah War One-Shot, before continuing in Cable #13 – 15, and X-Force #14 – 16.  It is the second part of the Messiah trilogy, and focuses on Cable’s journey through time with Hope, which is what he named the mutant messiah.

Unfortunately for Cable his timestream device was damaged, and he could only travel forward in time, which is exactly what Bishop wanted.  Bishop knew that eventually Cable would run out of time, literally.  Cyclopes was also keeping tabs on his son and realized things weren’t going as smoothly as he figured.  Given this is time, shouldn’t Cable have been back the instant he left?  Instead it had been several months and he hadn’t heard a single thing.  Not knowing was the worst part, and Cyclopes was starting to worry something had gone terribly wrong.  He formed X-Force, which had some of the toughest mutants around on it (Wolverine, Domino, Elixir, Vanisher, X-23, Archangel, and Warpath), to travel through time and try to catch up with Cable, to aid and assist him if necessary.

The story begins with Cyclopes forcibly teleporting X-Force to the year 2973 during a huge battle with the Leper Queen, leaving two of their friends, Hellion and Surge defenseless.  Cyclopes gave X-Force 32.5 hours to complete their mission before their time-bands, which keep their biology intact in the timestream, are no longer operational.  In other words, they have to finish their mission and teleport out or they’ll die.  Elixir removes his time-band to return to help his friends, but for some reason is not returned to the present.  Apparently there’s some force at work preventing any time manipulation.

X-23 tracks Cable to the United Nations building, but not before Vanisher is shot through the throat.  Thankfully Elixir is on the team, and heals Vanisher right away.  The mysterious sniper is revealed as the future Deadpool.  Apparently he’s been waiting for X-Force for over 900 hundred years.

When the group finally meet up with Cable, they see that Hope is no longer a baby, but rather an 8-year old girl.  Cable then pops out and says they shouldn’t have come because they’ve walked right into a trap.  He points off in the distance to Apocalypse’s celestial fortress.

Hope sure has changed, hasn't she?

It’s at this point when Deadpool comes clean and explains that Stryfe, Cable’s clone, is now ruling this age.  Before he can go any further Stryfe’s soldiers attack the group.  We then learn that Bishop made a deal with Stryfe.  Bishop would help Stryfe kill Apocalypse in return for Stryfe’s help killing Cable.  Bishop has had to be extremely careful during all the years he spent with Stryfe because Stryfe has the ability to read people’s minds and Bishop didn’t want Stryfe knowing what his true intentions were for fear of what he would do to Hope.  Would he use the child instead of letting Bishop murder it?  These were chances Bishop wasn’t willing to take.

When X-Force finishes taking out the soldiers, Archangel says he hears something and flies off someplace.  Meanwhile Domino starts to grow suspicious of Deadpool, when suddenly Stryfe shows up and takes on the X-Force.  The battle doesn’t last long thanks to the extensive powers Stryfe possesses.  In the end he flies off with Warpath and Hope.  The scene then switches back to Archangel who flies to some far off cave and discovers that Apocalypse is seriously hurt, but still alive.

Warren has to decide whether to end Apocalypse once and for all, or aid him in his hour of need.

Stryfe tortures Warpath to learn why the X-Force are in this timeline.  While he’s not paying attention Bishop uses this to his advantage and attempts to kill Hope.  He fails, and Stryfe reads his mind fully, for the first time.  He then realizes that Hope is someone special, but doesn’t quite understand what makes her so special.  Outside of the fortress Wolverine, Elixir, and Cable head off to confront Stryfe, while Domino, X-23, Vanisher, and Deadpool search for the source behind what’s keeping X-Force trapped in the future.

When Cable catches up with Stryfe a big battle ensues, but Wolverine, Elixir and Cable are seriously hurt within seconds.  Back in the cave, Archangel faces a tough decision, he can either kill Apocalypse now or he can help rejuvenate him.  He decides against killing him, and Apocalypse says that together they will destroy Stryfe.

Domino and her group eventually find the source behind the fortress’ unique ability to remain outside the timestream, it’s Kiden Nixon, strapped to some sort of device which controls her time altering powers.  As Domino and X-23 begin arguing over what to do with her, Deadpool leaves to join the fight against Stryfe.

When Deadpool finally works his way to Stryfe, he blasts Stryfe off a giant platform seemingly to his doom.  As Deadpool celebrates his victory, Stryfe comes up behind him and rips him in half and pitches him off the platform.  Meanwhile Archangel and Apocalypse return to the fortress and Apocalypse regains his full strength.

The silliest character in the Marvel Universe saves the day...or does he?

At this point in the story the time-bands X-Force are wearing reach 0:00, and attempt to bring the team home.  Since Kiden is still preventing that, the group begins to feel dilapidating effects.  Domino then kills Kiden with one bullet to the head, and Vanisher rips off his time-band and is immediately teleported back to present time.  The rest of the group head to Stryfe, but it’s of little use.

When Archangel and Apocalypse finally arrive, they subdue Stryfe with virtually no effort at all.  Apocalypse then says the Stryfe age has come to an end.  Bishop uses this distraction to try and kill Hope one last time, but is stopped by Cable.  Wolverine then rips out one of his eyes before he disappears into the timestream.

Apocalypse then grabs hold of Hope and says she has tremendous power and she would be a worthy vessel for his essence.  Archangel says Hope is the payment he wants for sparing Apocalypse’s life, to which he agrees.  Apocalypse warns the group that emotion is weakness, and that when he returns it will be their undoing.  He grabs ahold of Stryfe and drags him away saying he will have to do as a vessel for the time being.  The two then disappear into the timestream.

This is one of the more touching parts of the story. Hope and Cable finally reunited.

Cable then grabs Hope and slips away into the timestream as well, but Hope kicks loose trying to get back to Domino and X-23 to which she had bonded.  This eventually causes her to appear in a different time than Cable, but those events are covered in the Cable monthly series.  X-Force then prepares to get into position, making their way back to the UN building because that’s where they were in a huge battle before they were ripped away to this time period.  Eventually the group removes their time-bands and is teleported back to the present.

Hope should have stayed with Cable, but this one move causes them to be separated for some time.

Messiah War comes to an end with an epilogue showing a one-armed, one-eyed Bishop preparing to begin tracking down Cable and Hope yet again.

Messiah War was a good read, if only because it showed how much Hope had grown, and that Cable had spent years of his life doing everything in his power to protect the girl.  She had become his true daughter, and he was willing to sacrifice everything for her safety.  At this point Hope realized she was special, but didn’t quite understand how special.  That would all change when the Messiah trilogy came to its epic conclusion with Second Coming.  In the months leading up to that story Cable and Hope are separated by two years, thanks to their separation in the timestream.  When Cable finally catches up with Hope she’s now an adult.  The mutant messiah is soon ready to either save all the mutants or to destroy everything.  Only time will tell which path she chooses.

Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 3: Messiah Complex

The mutant race is on the verge of extinction, your “go-to” guy, Brian Michael Bendis, is busy putting the final touches on what would become Secret Invasion, and it has been quite a while since House of M shipped.  What’s a company like Marvel to do?  Well in October 2007 the House of Ideas decided it was time to finally move forward with the X-Men and mutants as a whole.  Exactly what would happen now that they were officially an endangered species?  Was there any hope left for mutants or could there possibly be a way to save them.

To answer this question, Marvel decided the best course of action was to create another huge event, similar to House of M, except have it run through the various X-books, New X-Men, X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, and X-Factor.  The 13-chapter storyline was a collaborative effort by Ed Brubaker, Mike Carey, Peter David, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.  It is fondly remembered as a fantastic X-Men event, and would set the stage for the next year and a half when Messiah War began.  For now, let’s look at the over 350-page storyline that was Messiah Complex.

The story begins with the birth of a mutant; a mutant who’s X-gene kicks in the moment she’s born, which is exceedingly rare.  This event is so powerful that it completely knocks Cerebra out of commission.  Professor X uses Cerebra to track the whereabouts of any mutant on the planet.  Before M Day there used to be countless hundreds of thousands and millions of mutants, but now there are so few that Charles dislikes using Cerebra at all.  When he realizes what has happened, he quickly tells the X-Men, who proceed to investigate.  They arrive at what’s left of a small Alaskan town.  It looks like a giant battle took place here between the Purifiers (religious fanatics who believe this new child is the anti-Christ), and the Marauders (Mr. Sinister’s henchmen).  Upon further investigation it is discovered that all the children in the town were murdered, before the town was torched.  So who has the child now, and is it even alive?

While this is taking place one of the last remaining Predator X beasts (a creature created solely for hunting down and murdering mutants) feels the presence of the child and goes after it, devouring any mutant it happens to stumble upon as it makes its way towards the child.  The more mutants it eats, the stronger it becomes.

This beast becomes so powerful that by the time it reaches the X-Men it's almost unstoppable.

Cyclopes now has a very tough choice to make.  He needs to figure out who has the child and what they plan to do with it.  He sends Rictor, a depowered X-Factor member to pretend to join the Purifiers to learn if they have the child, and Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Angel and Nightcrawler after Sinister’s men to see if they have it.  He also sends James Madrox, the Multiple Man to visit Forge, who tells him that since the baby was born two distinct futures have been created. Madrox creates two duplicates of himself, and sends one to each timeline to figure out what the future holds for mutants as a result of the child’s birth.  Layla Miller, the girl with the power to awaken people’s memories in House of M (who accompanied Madrox to Forge’s lab) grabs ahold of one of the duplicates and is teleported with him to another timeline in the future.  For some reason the main Madrox then collapses and falls into a comma.

Just as all of this is happening the New X-Men, the youngest students at the X-Mansion overhear that the Purifiers are involved in this mess, and they decide to go after them.  Before the Messiah Complex storyline, the New X-Men were involved in a story where the Purifiers wiped out 27 of the youngest students at Xavier’s school for higher learning.  So they want revenge.

During all this the X-Mansion is attacked by the special Sentinels, which were created to protect mutants and the school in particular.  The Sentinels nearly destroy the mansion, and injure several students during the processes.  Meanwhile the New X-Men discover that not only do the Purifiers not have the baby, but also that they’re working with Lady Deathstrike.  During the ensuing battle Hellion is badly wounded, and Rictor has to come to their aid.  Pixie then scatter-teleports everyone to safety.

The Sentinels that were created to protect mutants turn on the students at the worst possible time.

On Wolverine’s side, he learns that Sinister doesn’t have the baby either, and in the ensuing battle Nightcrawler is hurt.  It’s not a total loss though as Wolverine learns that Cable is the one that took the baby and is on the run.  Cyclopes immediately believes it was Cable that infected the Sentinels to attack the mansion, but he doesn’t understand for what purpose.  Their troubles are far from over though.

The Predator X finally makes its way to the X-Mansion where it’s eventually defeated, but not before doing even more damage to the mansion itself.  The biggest surprise comes from Madrox and Layla though.  They traveled to a distant future in which the so-called mutant messiah killed over a million people, which caused all mutants to be locked up in camps and treated like terrorists.  Each mutant is tattooed with an M over his or her right eye, just like Bishop has.  Bishop is an X-Men who traveled back in time from the future to help the X-Men in their time of need, many years earlier.

It is in this future where they meet Bishop as a child, who says that if he ever found the mutant messiah he’d kill it to prevent this future from ever happening.  Sadly Madrox has no way of returning to his timeline to warn Cyclopes of all he’s learned.  Out of nowhere Layla grabs a grenade from one of the security officers in the camp and explodes both her and the Madrox duplicate, which awakens Madrox in the regular timeline.  He then explains all he’s learned about Bishop.

One of the more interesting aspects of Messiah Complex was finally getting to see Bishop's torturous timeline.

For the first time we finally start following Cable’s storyline, and he’s trying everything in his power to protect the baby.  Eventually he makes his way to Forge, so he can create a time traveling device, but when he arrives Forge is already gunned down.  Bishop is there and catches Cable off-guard.  He manages to get the baby and just as he’s about to kill it the Marauders appear and knock him unconscious.  Gambit takes the baby back to Mr. Sinister, except it isn’t Mr. Sinister after all, but rather Mystique disguised as him.  Mystique had taken Rogue some time earlier in hopes of finding a cure for her fatal disease she contracted some time earlier.  She used her unconscious daughter’s body to kill Sinister by forcing him to touch Rogue for a long period of time.  Mystique then places the baby on Rogue’s face, and instead of killing the baby, it actually cures Rogue.

In the end Cerebra is fixed by the New X-Men, which allows Cyclopes to locate the location of the mutant messiah.  Meanwhile Cable no longer can fend for himself and contacts Professor X for his help in locating the child.  Eventually everyone meets up, Cable, Professor X, and the X-Men and the story culminates with Cyclopes giving Cable the baby for safe protection.  He realizes that she’s not safe anywhere in this timeline and that only his son can offer her everything she needs.  He also wants Cable to give her what he was never able to give his own son, a real chance.  Rogue wakes up from her comma and tells Mystique the cure wasn’t worth the price she paid as the child could have been killed, and the survival of their species is more important than her single life.  She then walks away, and tells Gambit that if he truly loves her to let her go.  Meanwhile just as Cable teleports to another time Bishop shoots several shots at him, all miss, except one hits Professor X right in the head and fractures his mind.  Cyclopes says this is the end of the X-Men, as the scene fades to Cable holding the baby in his arms saying, “here comes the hard part.”

What a perfect way to end this event.

This storyline was tremendously successful for Marvel and was the first of their mutant messiah trilogy, which would be followed up with 2009’s Messiah War, and ended with 2010’s Second Coming.  Over the course of the year between Messiah Complex and Messiah War the X-Men would be disbanded, and the various X-books would deal with this fallout, eventually having the team form once again in San Francisco under Cyclopes’ vision of what the X-Men should now be about, which is the focus on the survival of the mutant race.  Marvel also started an on-going monthly series following Cable exploits as he jumped from one time period to another trying to protect the baby from a recovered Bishop.  Mike Carey’s X-Men was renamed X-Men Legacy and focused on Professor X’s fractured mind, Gambit and Rogue.  X-Factor would deal with Madrox’s other duplicate coming back to the regular timeline with new powers, and the stranded Layla Miller in Bishop’s timeline.

Messiah Complex is well worth the read in a collected volume or trade paperback as it ties in perfectly with House of M, and shows how desperate the X-Men were to do anything and everything to save this baby.  This small baby was mutant’s only Hope.

Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 2: House of M

Six months after the devastating events of Avengers Disassembled, the Avengers had disbanded, and Wanda Maximoff, A.K.A. the Scarlet Witch, was kept in a trance-like state in Genosha, which was the mutant homeland before getting completely obliterated by Sentinels some time ago.  Both Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Magneto were doing all in their power to try and keep Wanda sedated for fear her mind was completely lost and if she regained consciousness she could erase all life on Earth without realizing it.

Once again Bendis would be put in charge of completely changing the status-quo. This time the X-Men would be in the crosshairs.

Professor X met with both the X-Men and New Avengers to try and decide what they should do with Wanda.  Dr. Strange and Professor X explained the trance-like state Wanda was in would only last for so long, and a more permanent solution was needed.  Should they kill her, or figure something else out?  It’s a horrible decision that no one wanted to deal with, but the people of Earth needed protection.  Just hearing your childhood heroes tackle a subject this mature was extremely jarring, and shows how far Marvel wanted to take this story.

Professor X realizes the world is no longer safe from the Scarlet Witch.

Upon arriving at Genosha, the large cast of characters made their way to Wanda, only to discover her and Magneto were missing.  Suddenly a brilliant flash of white light encompassed everyone.  The world as they knew it, disappeared.  When each character awoke in this new world, everything was different.  It was as if their very dreams had become reality.  Peter Parker was living with Gwen Stacy and had a child, Uncle Ben had never died, Ms. Marvel was the equivalent of Superman, loved by everyone and more importantly mutants were the dominant species on the Earth.  Everyone who took part in the raid had no recollection of their previous lives, except for Wolverine.

Wolverine eventually reconnects with Luke Cage and meets a young girl named Layla Miller, who just so happens to have a mutant power that can awaken the memories of those around her.  After a short period of time Wolverine awakens Emma Frost, Cyclopes, Peter Parker, Dr. Strange, and several other key characters for an onslaught against the House of Magnus.  Magneto and his family live on the richest island in the world, Genosha, and are treated like the lords of the planet.

This is one of the most powerful moments in the entire series. Pete remembering his horrible life.

The big shock comes near the end of the series when it’s revealed that Wanda created this perfect world because her brother, Pietro, didn’t want her to die at the hands of her former friends.  Originally Wolverine and the others believed it was Magneto who was behind all of this because it felt like it was his dream come true.  Truth be told, he had no idea what was going on the whole time, much like everyone else.  In the end Dr. Strange shows Wanda the huge battle, taking place on Genosha.  She realizes that her father chose his mutant cause over raising his own children, and that even when he’s given everything he wants; he still finds a way to screw it all up.  She’s disgusted with him and utters the words “no more mutants.”  At that moment another flash of white light appears and the world is as it was before this madness began, with one major exception.

These two pages changed everything.

The consequences of Wanda’s action forever changed the Marvel Universe, until this very day.  The first issue of House of M was released in June 2005, and here we are in May 2012 and we’re still dealing with the problems created in this storyline.  Here’s a recap of what happened when the heroes returned to their regular world.

Hawkeye is alive again, because Wanda always had a very special place in her heart for him.  The others that died during Avengers Disassembled remain dead.  Millions of mutants around the globe no longer have their powers, including, at least for a short period of time, Magneto.  The estimated number of mutants left on Earth is somewhere in the hundreds, although the X-Men typically say 198 are left.  Wolverine now has his full memory for the very first time.  Only a few characters actually remember the House of M incident, and sadly Peter Parker is one of them.  Professor X, Scarlet Witch and Pietro all go temporarily missing, and the biggest fallout from M-day is that the Skrulls are easily able to infiltrate Earth’s defenses, as you’ll see when I cover Secret Invasion.

Some of the most famous mutants would lose their powers, but most eventually got them back.

House of M is easily one of the best X-Men events written in the last decade and certainly one fans looking to get into Marvel comics should certainly check out.  There are some extremely powerful moments in this series, particularly involving Peter Parker in this different world.  One cannot feel somewhat sympathetic towards Wanda because she knows not what she does.  In essence, she’s trying to give everyone what they want.  Marvel’s mutant race would go through one hurdle after another after M-day because anti-mutant propaganda reached an all time high.  Regular people saw this as a sign from god that mutants were not the future, but rather an abomination.

For the X-Men, their mission used to be to protect and aid a world that feared and hated them, but their newfound focus was on survival.  It was at this point in time where Cyclopes replaced Professor X’s vision of the X-Men into something far more serious.  Their new mission statement was to protect mutants everywhere, not to let harm befall even the most insignificant mutant, and above all else, to find a way to keep the mutant species going.

After the House of M event, Marvel broke the series off into several books, creating what was referred to as Decimation.  The main objective of this story arc was to explain which characters had kept their powers and which lost them.  Over the next couple of years fans would be at opposite ends of the spectrum for and against the depowering of the mutants.  Eventually some would acquire their powers back from magic, technology or some other means, but for the most part mutants as a whole became an endangered species.  The next huge storyline involving Marvel’s mutants would begin in October 2007, called Messiah Complex.  This is the next event I’ll tackle and it deals with the birth of the very first mutant since M-day.  It is a massive tale, over 350 pages long and spanning all the X-books Marvel had in print in 2007 (Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Men).  As you can imagine, the significance of a new mutant being born would not only be important to the X-Men, but also to those who want mutants to be nothing more than a distant memory.

Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 1: Wanda’s Breaking Point

In 2004, Brian Michael Bendis officially took over writing duties for The Avengers.  At that time the book was selling only mildly well.  Fast forward a few months and Marvel would launch one of the most successful team books in modern history, New Avengers.  Bendis’ idea was a simple one, how come only DC is allowed to use their biggest characters on the same team?  Naturally he was referring to the JLA.  He wanted to do the same thing with New Avengers to combine all of Marvel’s biggest characters together with some of their least known characters for a diverse and interesting team book.  What we didn’t know at the time was that secretly Bendis and then Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada were also laying the foundation for a groundbreaking ten-year long storyline, the likes of which have never been seen before in the comic book industry.

Here we have the evil architects of the 10-year plan, Joe Quesada (left), and Brian Michael Bendis.

My plan of action over the next few days, and likely weeks is to cover as many major milestones in the Marvel universe that lead to their current event, Avengers vs. X-Men as possible.  Given how many events and specials have been made in the last eight years, I’m likely going to skip on one or two you think should have been covered, so if that’s the case just leave a comment and I’ll see if I can add it in.

Currently I’m looking at covering the events and special starting with Avengers #500, moving onto House of M, Messiah Complex, Messiah War, Second Coming, and finally Schism.  From there I will switch sides from the X-Men to the Avengers and cover Secret War, Civil War, The Initiative (only general), Secret Invasion, Dark Reign (only general), Siege, and Fear Itself.  That will bring everyone up to speed on exactly what Marvel’s ten-year plan has been.  It’s should be a very interesting journey for those interested.  So let’s begin with the four issues that set everything off.

Warning: I have no way of discussing these comics without spoiling key story plot points.  I won’t explain panel-by-panel, but I will discuss the major changes brought about by these issue.  To begin with, I’m going to look at the Avengers Disassembled storyline from Avengers #500 to #503, which essentially brought an end to the Avengers, and laid the groundwork for the next eight years of stories from Marvel Comics.

The beginning of the end for the Avengers.

To begin, the Avengers line-up during this time period was Ant-Man, Captain America, Captain Britain (Kelsey Leigh), Falcon, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Vision, Wasp, and Yellowjacket.  At the end of the story, all would leave the team, die or be otherwise incapable of performing their duties.  So what could possibly happen that would destroy Earth’s mightiest team?  One of their own.

The four-issue event starts off with Jack of Hearts, who had died in a previous storyline, coming back to the Avengers Mansion.  Ant-Man rushes to greet him only to hear Jack say “I’m sorry” before detonating and killing Ant-Man instantly, along with half the Avengers Mansion.  This first emotional attack forces the Avengers to send out a white distress call, meaning all Avengers assemble.  Meanwhile Iron Man and Yellowjacket are at a UN conference where the Avengers’ are supposed to be reorganized under UN jurisdiction.  Iron Man starts flipping out at the Latverian diplomat, and realizes he’s drunk even though he hasn’t had a drink in ages.  The question starts being asked, who or what is attacking the Avengers on such a personal level?


When the remaining Avengers assemble at the mansion Vision comes flying towards the group in a Quinjet, and crashes it directly into what remains of the mansion.  He then says that he has no control over what he is about to do, and summons five Ultron robots, which go on to attack the surviving Avengers.  Vision then collapses, seemingly dead.  As the Avengers start battling the Ultron robots, She-Hulk loses control of herself for the very first time, becoming more like her cousin, an uncontrollable Hulk.  She ends up ripping Vision in half, and seriously hurting both Wasp, and Kelsey Leigh, before she’s rendered unconscious.

With the Ultron robots destroyed, every single Avenger in history rallies to the what little remains of the Avengers Mansion to show their support and try to assist in any way they can.  Suddenly a Kree army appears out of nowhere and a massive battle breaks loose.  During the battle Hawkeye is mortally wounded and killed, bringing the Avengers death total up to three.

It is eventually revealed by Dr. Strange that all of these events were the result of the Scarlet Witch.  Many years earlier the Scarlet Witch had subconsciously created two children from the essence of Mephisto and soul fragments from Master Pandemonium.  It turns out that every time she used her powers she created reality warps, which were affecting her mind.  Bending reality at a whim comes with a severe cost, one that eventually made the Scarlet Witch go completely insane.  Believing the Avengers took her two children away; she vowed to prevent them from doing the same again.  In the process she not only killed her husband, Vision, but also set a series of events into motion that would change the Marvel Universe forever, beginning with House of M.

Powerful stuff for what was a rather flakey comic series before Bendis took it over.

With the Wanda put in a trance by Dr. Strange, her father, Magneto arrives to take her away.  He apologizes for her actions and realizes that he is partially to blame for her sanity because he never respected the incredible mutant power she had.  After the chaos ends it is revealed that Tony Stark has lost his fortune with the Avengers Mansion being completely destroyed and because of his supposed drunken state, his shareholders have pulled out of his company.  He can no longer finance the Avengers and as such leaves the group.  Shortly thereafter all of the Avenger disband feeling they failed to be there for each other, and in their current state have way to live up to their saying…

“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!”

And so ends The Avengers, and begins a decade-long storyline.

A Secret That Changed Everything

Comic events are all the rage today, but it wasn’t always like that.  Since Action Comics #1 hit the scene back in June 1938, superheroes have been the bread and butter of the comic book industry.  During the intense highs and the very lows, companies could always rely on superheroes to save the day.  Today comic book companies rely on event or tent pole mini-series to help pad sales.  Events have really taken off in the past decade, but where did this all begin?

It was not uncommon for team books to exist even back during the Golden Age of comics (1930s to early 50s).  The idea of taking several big heroes and slapping them together in one comic almost always assured increased sales.  This was how the Justice League was originally created in 1960.  Long before that, the very first crossover ever was with Timely Comics’ (later became Marvel Comics) The Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner in Marvel Mystery Comics #8-9 (June/July 1940).  Crossovers were smart, and certainly increased sales, but the idea of an actual event comic series wasn’t used until much later, and for a completely different reason altogether.

This is it, the very first comic crossover ever. Can you believe this is from 1940?!

In 1984, Marvel Comics wanted to have a strong toy presence.  DC had been making loads of cash with their deal with Kenner, who licensed DC characters for their toys.  Mattel had Master of the Universe, and wanted to extend their branding with Marvel toys.  At the time the Editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics was Jim Shooter, and he came up with the idea of having just about all the heroes and enemies of their entire comic line come together in one giant “event” that would change the very fabric of the Marvel universe.  Naturally they would directly link this to the toy line they were having made for them by Mattel.  That’s how Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars was conceived.  That little piece of history is almost forgotten in today’s multi-million dollar events, but the original point behind all of this was to make a successful line of toys.  Nifty, no?

Say hello to Earth's mightiest heroes.

Secret Wars would become an instant sales blockbuster.  It also had a major impact on the future of the Marvel universe and all the characters in it.  Spider-Man would get his black costume, which eventually led to the creation of Venom.  There would be other significant changes made to the lineup of the Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, etc.  Needless to say, this was revolutionary stuff back in ’84.

The world's very first event comic book series.

The twelve issue series wrapped up in April 1985, and was quickly followed up with another massive event the same year, Secret Wars II.  Sadly it wasn’t quite as successful or had as big an impact.  This was mainly because the first issue was released in July 1985, which means not as much thought was put into it.  The point here is that the seeds for the future were firmly planted.

Not to be outdone, and seeing the tremendous success Marvel had with Secret Wars, DC Comics followed suit and released their first major crossover event called Crisis on Infinite Earths in April 1985.  Seeing that Marvel was able to make major changes to their universe and fans flocked to it, DC decided to simplify their over 50 years of continuity by streamlining all their changes into this one storyline.  From that point forward, much like Marvel, the company’s future would be solidified.

DC went a step further and changed their entire line of comics with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Events have been used at least once every decade since these two early examples, but when Marvel decided to pit hero against hero in the huge 2006-2007 event, Civil War, comics broke ground and achieved new heights.  Not only was this the single most successful comic mini-series released in the last decade, but it had the biggest impact any event has had since the 80s.  It also laid the groundwork for all future events to come, from both Marvel and DC.  After Civil War Marvel and DC have relied on huge comic events every single year.

Civil War changed the rules of what a comic book event could be like. Hero was pitted against hero and from this point on the entire industry was changed forever.

Last year DC rebooted their entire comic line ending with the Flashpoint event, and Marvel pushed forward with Fear Itself, which led into this summer’s Avengers vs. X-Men.  Needless to say, comic events are the new norm, and while the lasting ramifications aren’t anywhere as finite as they were years ago, they still bring in the readers and more importantly, the big bucks.

Once again DC took things to the extreme with the Flashpoint event. After this event DC rebooted their entire line of comics from Superman to Batman and everyone in-between.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little trip down memory lane.  I plan to start covering the biggest events in comic history over the next few days and weeks for those interested in seeing where the comic industry came from, and where everything is heading now.  It’s hard to believe that it was the toy industry that completely changed the comic industry forever.  That’s one secret that really did change everything.

Take a Bite Out of Crime with Chew

I’ve already discussed digital comics with comiXology, The Walking Dead Volume 1, and Fables, but today I figured I’d discuss something really wacky.  It was a surprise hit when it originally released back in June 2009, by Image Comics.  Creators John Layman and Rob Guillory had no expectations for the series.  They simply wanted to do an adult-themed book that was silly and way out there.  In 2010 the series won the Eisner award for ‘Best New Series’ and from there the sky’s been the limit.  It remains one the highest selling independent releases of all time.  So just what the heck is it all about?

Now this is one messed up comic series.

Imagine a world where the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is more powerful than the FBI.  In this world a unique form of the bird flu wiped out over 23 million Americans, and as a result the FDA gained supreme control over policing the country, or at least trying to make sure the same thing never happens again.

Tony Chu is a police detective for the Philadelphia Police Department, and just so happens to be a Cibopath.  Cibopaths are people who can tell what has happened to whatever they eat.  If Tony eats a piece of lettuce he can tell when it was harvested, what pesticides were used on it, etc.  If he eats a piece of meat, well you can imagine what he sees.  The only food he can eat where he doesn’t have psychic visions are beets, but who wants to eat beets all the time?

While investigating a suspected chicken smuggling operation, Tony accidently eats soup made with human remains.  He races to the kitchen to confront the would-be murdering chef, and in the process his partner is seriously hurt, like clever to the head hurt.  Outside the restaurant Tony catches up with the murderer, who slits his throat instead of being taken in.  Without the chef, Tony has no way of finding the other people who may have been murdered.  Their families will never be at ease, unless…no he can’t do that…could he?  Determined to solve this case, Tony does what he has to, he’s starts chomping down on the chef’s body.

Once everything is said and done, his police chief is none to pleased.  Sure the case is solved, but his partner is about to die in the hospital and he was caught by other officers…eating a dead body.  How exactly do you explain that in a report?  His chief has no choice but to resign him of duty, and just as all hope looks like it’s gone, Mason Savoy, an FDA agent comes in and tells Tony that this might be the end of his police career, but it’s the beginning of something much more interesting.  Interesting, indeed!

That’s essentially the first issue of Chew in a nutshell, but what happens later on just goes from wacky to all out insane.  The different cases Tony has to solve, and how everything is eventually connected to some global conspiracy makes this series one of the best.  It’s hilarious, but you’ve got to have a strong stomach to deal with some of the nastier panels.  When Tony’s family makes their first appearance you’ll be in switches.  I especially love when other characters are introduced who happen to have unique powers like Tony, one can make people taste whatever she writes about, just by reading her work.  How wild is that?

Chew isn’t for everyone, but if you have a dark sense of humor, I’m positive you’ll find something to enjoy with this daring and risqué series.

Taking a Trip to Fabletown

Are you watching ABC’s Once Upon a Time?  If not, you’re missing out on a guilty pleasure of mine.  I don’t watch very much television, but the concept was so original.  All the fairytale characters you grew up with, Snow White, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, etc. have all been placed under a curse, and kicked them out of their world and into ours, where magic is nothing more than a child’s imaginative plaything.  The show zeroes in on Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter and how she is the only one who can break the curse and return these characters to where they originally came from.  The curse made it so that all the fairytale characters have no recollection of what has happened to them who they truly are.  Thus, no more happily ever after.  All the characters have been transformed into humans, including characters like Jiminy Cricket.  Emma, Snow’s child was teleported to our world when she was only a young baby and has no clue about any of this.

Emma’s son, Henry, whom she gave up for adoption, is now back in her life and needs her help to break the curse.  She has no belief in the curse, and thinks this is nothing more than a way for Henry to cope with being an adopted child.  Sadly for Henry, he just so happens to have been adopted by the Evil Queen, who put the curse on all the fairytale characters, and he knows the truth.

We’re also treated to countless flashbacks to the fairytale world, and are shown more clues as to what lead to this curse being placed on these characters and how everyone is connected to each other.  It’s fun seeing how all the characters are transformed into humans, and yet retain that certain something that made them special.  It makes for great TV watching, only thing is, haven’t we already seen something like this before?

In 2002 Bill Willingham published the very first issue of Vertigo’s Fables, which is extremely similar to ABC’s new television series.  Fables is about all the same fairytale characters like Snow White, Charming, Cinderella, Boy Blue, etc. except no curse was placed on them.  They were forced out of their home by some ominous creature known only as The Adversary.  We’re not originally told why, but the characters came together and fled to our world.

Snow White is the acting mayor of Fabletown, where most of the fable characters live.  She’s responsible for cleaning up the different messes that occur such as scandals, money conflicts.  She also has to ensure the mundanes (humans) don’t find out about the fables.  The first issue introduces readers to this wonderfully rich world, and several key characters.  Snow’s head detective is the Big Bad Wolf, also known as Bigby (who’s now human somehow), and he’s responsible for making sure things never get out of control.  Another big difference between the comic series and the show is that all the animal fables remained animals, and were gathered together at a farm so the regular humans don’t hear them speaking to one another.  As you could imagine, they’re none to pleased about this situation.

The opening arc deals with Jack, from Jack and the Beanstalk running in to see Bigby, because his girlfriend, Red Rose (Snow’s sister) has gone missing.  Meanwhile Snow’s trying to deal with the crumbling marriage of Beauty and the Beast, because the two are no longer getting along Beast is slowly reverting back to beast form.  When Snow learns that something has happened to her sister Bigby and Snow check her apartment only to discover blood everywhere and the chilling words “No more happily ever after” written in blood on the wall.  Who could have done such a thing, and why?  Do the mundanes have anything to do with this, and why?  Is there something far more sinister at work?

Thus begins one of the very best adult-themed comic series ever created.  It’s incredible to see these characters brought to life like never before. They go through all the same problems we go through.  Snow is divorced to Charming, Cinderella is a spy (some of us have to balance being a spy and a having a family), and everyone has money problems and is generally just trying to get by while having some sort of normal life.  Of course nothing is normal when you’re a fable character.

If you’re enjoying Once Upon a Time I highly recommend Fables because it’s much deeper and the character development is second to none.  I should also add that it’s a creator owned property so if characters die, they stay dead.  This isn’t a superhero book.

Fables is available in either volume format or individual issues.  Like The Walking Dead it is extremely popular and therefore very expensive to get into on an issue-by-issue basis.  The best way to read Fables is digitally as you can have access to all the issues and for only a fraction of the cost.  Right now there’s a 72-hour $0.99 sale going on through comiXology so act fast!

I highly encourage all of you to check out the first story arc, called Legends in Exile, which is comprised of the first five issues.  If you don’t like those issues I’ll be shocked.  This series has become a fable in and of itself, and I believe it’s about time you check it out to find out why.

Walking Through the Dead – A Look at the Walking Dead Volume 1

As I write this I’ve just posted my article about comiXology and digital comics in general, and hopefully at least one person left a comment otherwise this might be the one and only follow-up I ever write on the subject.

Comics used to be for children, then the market crashed and everything changed.  Today some of the most talented artists and writers in the world create comics, and they’re targeted to children, teens and adults.  I particularly love the adult books because it’s within these pages that the stories are the most creative.  It makes sense too, because most of the adult books are creator-owned so there’s no one holding the author back from killing off a main character or doing some other no-no the big publishers would never allow happen to their vintage characters.

I thought it would be a neat idea to follow yesterday’s article up with a look at one of my all time favorite adult comic book series, The Walking Dead.  It’s a series I never talk much about, but have recently went back and started rereading again.  Ever since Steven published his review I’ve been looking for an excuse to talk more about this wonderful series.  Today’s the day I suppose.

Instead of zeroing in on each and every comic, I thought I’d try and be as spoiler-free as possible just in case I convince some of you to actually buy the first volume in this incredible series.  First, here’s some technical information for those interested.  Volume 1 collects the first six issues in the series, which now sell for over $1,500 on eBay, so if you plan to get into this series, trade paperback is your only way in, that or via comiXology.  The choice is yours.  The series debuted in October 2003, and is written by Robert Kirkman, and originally drawn by Tony Moore (who would be replaced by Charlie Adlard starting with issue #7).  It’s published by Image, and is a creator-owned property, meaning Kirkman can do whatever the heck he wants with the characters.

A mint copy of the first printing of The Walking Dead #1 can run you over $1,000!

The first collected volume introduced readers to Rick Grimes, a Kentucky police officer.  He’s shot in the line of duty and wakes up in the hospital some time later.  As he stumbles out of bed, he realizes not all is well with the world.  Five seconds later he discovers the truth, a zombie apocalypse has broken out.  You didn’t just close the page did you?  Well I sure hope not, because unlike all the zombie crap that’s on the market today, what makes this series so unique is that the zombies aren’t the center of the story, sure they’re a major player, but the focus is on the characters we’re introduced to.  I can’t go into any further details, but needless to say Rick makes his way home, and very quickly realizes he has no idea what’s happened to his family.  Where could they have gone?  Is it even possible they’re alive?  Is the government doing anything to stop this outbreak?  All these questions take a backseat once he realizes the more pressing question, how the hell am I going to survive?

What would you do in these incredible circumstances?

This first volume really introduces people to the look and feel of the world and how old grudges mean nothing in the face of certain doom.  It’s a character piece set in a world turned upside down.  What would you do in Rick’s place?  Would you say screw your family and try to find safe shelter somewhere, or would you man up and try everything in your power to find the people you love.

The first volume leaves one heck of a cliffhanger, where Rick is pretty well left in charge of the small group of survivors he’s found.  He must now decide if he’s going to attempt to move all these people to safety or if he’s going to stay put and somehow try to make camp among the madness surrounding him.

For $10 you get yourself six incredible comics that introduce you to one of the best adult-themed comics ever written.

If any of this sounds enticing, or interesting I encourage you to either order yourself a copy of the first volume, or better yet purchase it from comiXology so you can read a bit whenever you have a free moment for any mobile device, or computer you happen to be holding.  The writing is very strong, although it improves as Kirkman starts to get into his groove.  You can see the evolution in his writing as you proceed from one volume to the next.  The art is top notch, although it should be mentioned this is a black and white series, which again deemphasizes the zombies.  This isn’t about them; it’s about the people just trying to cope with their everyday lives.  Imagine if you didn’t have running water, didn’t have access to food, didn’t have weapons, how could you hope to survive?  Kirkman tries to answer that very question, and in the nine years this series has been running, he’s still finding new ways to question the very foundation of what it means to be alive. 

My Comic Life Since Going Digital

It’s been a while since I’ve written a comic piece, but I felt it was long overdue.  The three huge summer blockbusters also put me in the mood to talk about the source material a bit.  About a year ago I completely switched over from reading physical comics to digital comics on my iPad.  My motivation for doing this was because I had fallen ill and was having trouble actually getting to my local comic shop each and every week.  I should tell you that I still love reading physical books, graphics novels and comics.  That said, this new digital platform is simply amazing.  Zeroing in on comics specifically, it allows me to take thousands of comics with me wherever I go.  I can also purchase most comics for a fraction of their regular asking price.  Rarity means nothing in a digital marketplace.  All major comic companies support comiXology, which now has an app for both iOS and Android.  It’s the de facto comic book reader, and allows for a streamlined panel-to-panel transition view (called Guided View), or the regular full-page view you get when reading a real comic.  I tend to select the full-page view on my iPad and the panel-to-panel transition view on my iPhone.  The high-resolution colors and details make these comics come alive like never before.  Even vintage books look incredible, and you can zoom in so far that you can make out details you never thought possible.  Please take note that the images you see here have all been modified to 800 pixels, and changed from their original PNG files to JPEGs.  I did this to make them fit the page.

Just look at that awesome storefront. Tell me there's nothing there you wouldn't want to check out?!?

All new comics appear on the app the day they hit comic book stores, which is extremely handy, although the initial prices for Marvel comics are still way to high, coming in at $4 a book.  A month or so later they drop to $3 a book.  DC comics are mostly $2 a book, except for the really popular ones which go for either $4 or $3 depending on the title.  Like Marvel, the prices decrease over time.  Image books typically go for $3 for a new book, and $2 for an older one.  The prices vary is what I’m getting at.  That said the comic companies almost always hold incredible deals that are simply non-existent with their real-world counterparts.  Take this past weekend as an example.  When The Avengers movie was released, Marvel held a $0.99 Avengers weekend; meaning over 200 books were available for purchase for only a buck apiece, instead of either $2 or $3.  That adds up to a huge savings, if you’re like me and take advantage of these sales.  This weekend Vertigo is having a Fables sale.  You can purchase Fables #1 all the way up to last month’s Fables #115 for only a buck each!  That’s amazing!  Nowhere else in the world would you be able to spend $115 and get each and every Fables book ever released.

Another trend I really like is that trade paperbacks are also available in digital format.  Take The Walking Dead for example.  You can buy each and every comic for $2 each, or you can buy the collected volumes for $9.99 each, which typically contain six comics.  That’s about the same going rate as what Amazon.com charges for the actual book, however these collections also go on sale, so it remains a really solid deal.  Again, you have to think that you can bring these with you, and they take up no shelf space at all, which brings me to my next point.

Like The Walking Dead, well why buy the real comics or trades when you can have everything with you all the time!

After having collected comics, graphic novels and traditional novels for more than two decades, I’ve got a lot of stuff.  I’m talking storage-worthy containers worth of stuff.  Now my entire comic collection can easily be stored within an app.  It’s also far more organized than my collection has ever been before.  Think about it, when you’ve got over 40 long comic boxes and you try to keep your books in alphabetical order, that’s a lot of moving around.  Hell, I’ve had 7 boxes devoted solely to Spider-Man for years, and every time I get an old issue, I have to go back and rearrange all of those boxes.  Yuck!  Now I don’t have to do any of that nonsense.  With this app, all the books are in their rightful place, and I can browse them with ease.  Not only by title either; I have the option of categorizing them by publisher, genre and creator as well.  That’s another curse of being a comic book fan, you can never really read your back issues.  Whenever I wanted to go and read a specific run from five years ago or longer, I’d need a forklift just to find the books.  Not anymore!

If you're looking to get into the next big event, you don't need to worry about which comics are part of the story, the app does all the hard work for you.

One final point us comic fans have to deal with all the time is lists.  You get used to that word, lists, or reserve lists as they’re often called.  See in real life you’re responsible for ensuring you get the comics you want.  Only problem is it isn’t as simple as just going to a comic store and saying I want Superman.  Sure that gets you his main series, but anything else, like a one-shot, or a special, or whatever is entirely up to you to reserve in advance…two months in advance.  Often what happens if your reserve box is packed full of comics you didn’t want because when you reserved them the creative team wasn’t known or the story hadn’t been fully decided on.  That’s not to mention the comic book dealer “accidently” filling your box with comics you didn’t want.  Those days are thankfully over with.  Now I don’t need to be up to the minute on all my comics, I can simply read them as they come out and be surprised, like I was back when I was a young kid.  It’s awesome!

Let’s wrap this up.  If you never considered reading comics before now is the perfect time to start.  Be honest, how many of you own a smartphone or a tablet, yeah pretty much everyone reading this.  There are books geared directly towards adults like Chew, Sweet Tooth, and The Walking Dead, there are all the classic superhero books, and there are more original graphic novels than you can possibly imagine.  Thanks to the iPad, the iPhone and more specifically comiXology, I now have the freedom to pick and choose the books I want to read, when I want to read them, and for as little money as possible.  Honestly, what the heck is not to like about that???

Here's what a full page in its original aspect ratio looks like. Not too shabby right?

Update: Thanks to the following comments from Timothy, I discovered that the comiXology website works almost exactly like their mobile apps.  This means if you purchase anything via their site, it automatically links back to any mobile device you happen to use, and vice-versa.  The site also has a really excellent feature that allows you to purchase an entire series you’re interested in, which isn’t found on the mobile apps of comiXology.

What Does This Image Mean?

This week is Comic-Con which typically brings with it a few surprises.  That’s exactly what happened today when Marvel released the following teaser image.

For those not old enough to have read through the infamous Clone Saga, this was the famous blue hoodie worn by Peter Parker’s clone, Ben Reilly. So what exactly does this teaser image mean?  Only time will tell, but since the Jackal is making his return, and he was heavily featured in the Clone Saga, could we also see the return of Ben Reilly?

What do you Spidey fans think about this?

Take A Look At All The Dwarves From The Hobbit

For one reason or another there appears to be a heck of a lot of gamers who loved The Lord of the Rings movies.  Given that The Hobbit is getting released in the not too distant future, I thought it would be kind of cool to show you all the band of dwarves.  You’ll be getting to know these guys rather well.

What do you think everyone?  I, myself am very excited for these two movies although I’m quite curious to see how they plan to take a story that’s 300-odd pages and convert that material into two three-hour movies when the complete LotR saga was well over 1,200 pages and it formed three three-hour movies.  We’ll see soon enough I suppose.

DC Solicits 10 #1 Issues

We knew it was bound to happen sooner rather than later, and low and behold that’s exactly what’s happening.  DC just announced 10 #1 issues that will begin in September alongside Justice League #1 from Jim Lee and Goeff Johns.  I’ve included it here for good measure.  What follows is the cover art, the writer and the artist for each new series.  In some occasions the creative team may only be with the book for the first arc, but we haven’t been told which books that may be the case with.

Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee
Wonder Woman #1 by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang
Aquaman #1 by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis
The Flash #1 by Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul
The Fury of Firestorm #1 by Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone & artist Yildiray Cinar
Hawkman #1 by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan
Green Arrow #1 by JT Krul and Dan Jurgens
Justice League International #1 by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti
Mr. Terrific #1 by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson
Captain Atom #1 by JT Krul and Freddie Williams II
DC Universe Presents #1 by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang

There you have it everyone.  Odds are we’ll have more covers and more information to reveal in the coming days and weeks leading up to the September reboot.  More information as it breaks.