Open Mike Night: All-New X-Men 36 and Uncanny X-Men 250

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Maillaro: We decided to double it up with some X-Men this week. 

You might wonder why exactly we picked Uncanny 250.  There is literally NOTHING special about that issue other than the number.  Something we started doing in this column a long time ago was that we made a commitment to review every fifty issues of Uncanny X-Men.  It's take some time, as it just tends to happen when we feel like it, but this is our fifth entry in the series.  1, 50, 100, 150, 200, and now 250. 

On with the reviews!

All-New X-Men #36

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis

Art by: Mahmud Asrar

Colored by: Marte Garcia

Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit

Cover by:  Mahmud Asrar & Marte Garcia

Published by: Marvel

Cover Price: $3.99


Maillaro: I actually hadn’t realized how far behind Marvel was on All-New X-Men.  The issue that came out this week is 36.  Issue 38 is part 4 of the Black Vortex crossover, which is already off and running (part 3 actually comes out next week).   Ouch.

Later I had this realization, I did some quick research and apparently (according to Bleeding Cool), Marvel is solving this by delaying 37 for a while longer:

“Anyway, All New X-Men #36 was meant to come out in December. But the book slipped and it will now come out next week on the 11th of February. However, the next issue after that will be All New X-Men #38, crossing over with Black Vortex on the 25th of February. Then All New X-Men #39 comes out on the 11th of March, also a Black Vortex crossover. And then, on the same day, we’ll get All New X-Men #37. Which should have come out in December…”

Why do they constantly make it so hard to actually follow the comics you are reading???  This makes it frustrating for veteran readers and impossible for new readers.  Stupid comic industry...

Weaver: Especially in this case, where there’s a clean break at the end of the issue, it feels like it might have been a better idea to change the numbering.  

Maillaro: I think the issue might have been they have been putting out promotional material for Black Vortex for a while.  They did a bookmark with the issue numbers back in like November.  They might have worried this might cause even more confusion.

Weaver: You know, this has been an issue that has killed a lot of comics that I liked in the past, and something that started during the 90’s as far as I can tell.  In the 70’s and 80’s, these problems were “resolved” by sticking in stock issues.  Basically, secondary creators would write single issue stories of most main titles in case there was a delay with the primary team, so that the issues would still ship on time.  Some of these stories were actually pretty neat, especially considering they had to be written in such a way that they would be relevant at basically any point in a hero’s normal exploits.

I wonder what the delay was here.  Often, the artist gets blamed, but honestly, I’m not seeing much in this art that couldn’t have been solved by hiring a fill-in, especially when you’re running two months behind and impacting a crossover.  

Maillaro: Ironically, I have a “fill-in” issue of Open Mike Night my wife and I did in case Weaver or myself end up back-logged one week.  And this is something that costs no one a penny if we miss a week.  You’d think the editors of a major comic company could put the same courtesy for their readers and retailers.

Sorry, I know we have an actual comic to discuss here, but this really bugged me when I read it.  Especially since I had just read this week’s issue of Guardians of the Galaxy.  

Weaver: It bugs me too.  I used to like a comic called Midnight Nation, and it drove me nuts when sometimes it would be a year or more between issues, then when you got the issue, it didn’t really progress much.  I very much felt, “I waited a year for this?”  And by the end, although I really like a lot of things about the series, I was just more annoyed than pleased by it.  I did buy all the issues, though, so I guess JMS got his money off me and all’s good for him.

Alright, so All-New X-Men.  It was easy enough for me to understand this, even with only a minor understanding of the title and the Ultimate universe in general.  I see a really interesting parallel to 250 that we’ll get into when we discuss that.  Basically, the biggest thing that I took away from this issue is that it’s not always easy to tell in the group shots who is from each universe, and the word balloons are sometimes placed in confusing ways.  I liked the glimpses into other realities that we saw...sort of.  The art really didn’t make those as clear as they could have been.  Angel strongly disliking the Horsemen reality they glimpsed was a great moment though.

Maillaro: I definitely agree about the different worlds being confusing and the art not helping.  At first, we get Thing battling what seems to be an older Wolverine or maybe it was Sabretooth.  And it’s not clear if this is something going on someplace else on the Ultimate Earth, 616-Earth, or someplace else entirely.  It was a small thing, but it really caused me to get distracted.

This arc has been going on forever, but I’ve enjoyed it.  I actually have read most of the Ultimate stuff, so that wasn’t an issue for me.  

My favorite moment in this issue was when Jean (original 5) was trying to figure out for sure if she was “home” and ended up psi-scanning Tony Stark and said Eww, prompting Jean to tell her any Stark is a bad idea to psi-scan.

Weaver: I liked that too.  No matter which reality, never psi-scan Tony Stark.  Actually, I liked the entire Jean team-up segment.  It was the strongest dialogue of the issue, and let you see both why they’re similar to each other and what makes them different.  There’s a good contrast between Iceman and Iceman, and it makes the Jean and Jean thing less...I don’t know, forced?  I feel like often when we get two realities of the same person they have an obligation to either be at each other’s throats or bestest buddies.  Neither of these relationships were quite that.  I felt that gave a lot of depth to the standing around talking moments.

Maillaro: Yeah, it might not make for the most exciting superhero comics, but I think Bendis does character interactions so well.  Earlier there was some great stuff between Original 5 Hank and Doom, which you got to see the end results of here with Hank getting his revenge.  Another great moment was when everyone was waiting for the explosive finale...and it got delayed, so everyone is standing there awkwardly.  This was just hilariously done.

Weaver: Yeah, I enjoyed that too.  Which just goes back to the idea that Bendis is good at character interaction, maybe one of the best.  Everyone’s pretty well realized and you’re able to tell everyone apart even when the word balloons aren’t set up the best.  I feel that action is a bit of a weakness of his, mostly because he’ll rush it in order to get to more clever interaction.  There’s nothing really wrong with the set-up, it’s just that I want more punching people in my superhero comics, and while I enjoy the talky stuff as much as the next guy, entire issues of talky are something that should be once in a blue moon.  To be fair, I haven’t read the rest of this series, but talky issues are generally a little too common with Bendis.

Maillaro: You would be right about this arc (and All-New in general).  This story was probably 2 issues longer than it needed to be for exactly that reason.  Which makes the delays even more painful.

I actually wonder what the future of the All-New X-men is.  This issue seemed to tease Secret Wars a little bit, with the heavy interactions between 616 and Ultimate.  This is definitely by far the most they have interacted.  Only other place I can think of is Spider-Men...which was also by Bendis.

I really think it’s safe to assume that eventually the Original 5 need to go home...though Bendis seemed to be double downing in Uncanny by bring Original Xavier forward to our time as well.

Weaver: It looks to me like All-New Beast is getting ready to make a big heel turn, and I wonder if that’s going to impact their future in the mainstreamed universe.  I do feel like this series is one that needs to have an organic end to it, and while it’s a great idea, well, it’s an idea of limited value, in the end analysis.  Rarely has it been a good idea to have multiple versions of the same guy hanging around for protracted periods.

Maillaro: Especially Beast.  Dark Beast is still around from AoA being the worst X-men villain ever.  And I don’t mean that in terms of worst as in evil...I mean in terms of “THIS CHARACTER NEEDS TO GO AWAY FOR GOOD!”

As for scores...the art was kind of painful.  And I hate the dull white look they keep insisting on using for young Bobby.  Bobby never looked that lame.  One thing that character has always had going for him is good character designs. 2.5 for the art.  I’ll got 3.5 for the writing.  It might deserve a little higher, but that definitely feels right to me.

Weaver: I understand the appeal of making alternate Hank McCoys evil or evilish, since he’s one of the most lovable easy-going guys in comics (or was when I regularly read), but at a certain point, it’s like how Spider-Man gets screwed over in every What If issue, whether or not he’s a key part of it.  Alright, we get it.  Making Beast evil is the last person we’d expect...except it keeps happening.

I think I liked the art a lot less than you did.  I consider it below average, but not a lot below average.  I’m giving it a 2.  3.5 for the writing seems fair.  Bendis does great with the dialogue but...there’s just not enough progression, especially for a long delayed comic.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #250

Written by: Chris Claremont

Pencilled by: Mark Silvestri

Inked by: Steve Leialoha

Colored by: Glynis Oliver

Lettered by: Joe Rosen


Published by: Marvel

Cover Price: $1.00 ($1.99 on Comixology)

Weaver: So here we are at Uncanny 250.  Last time we visited, in 200, Magneto was on trial, Xavier left the planet, all sorts of shenanigans were happening.  Here...we’re in the middle of what was essentially an issue devoted to developing a side plot that wouldn’t pay out for a while and simultaneously making just a few sideways references to the main plot of X-Australia coming to an end.  There are things I like about this issue, but read individually, I felt it was a pretty hot mess.  Also, Claremont is at his yellow boxing, thought ballooning, making reference to inconsequential plots of twenty years ago worst.

Maillaro: I actually don’t think I had ever read this issue before.  I basically started right after this, because I recognize the cover of the next issue, which is Wolverine hanging on a giant X-crucifix.  I had known that Lorna somehow lost magnetic powers and gained superstrength because of this character who claimed to be her sister...making this the second anniversary issue we’ve done that revolved around Lorna’s screwy family.  

I thought there were some good elements here, but I wasn’t thrilled with how they all played out.  It just felt like a strain to read, and too many of the characters just seemed like they were there just to look unique, and add nothing to the story itself.  Worm in particular.  He seemed a bit overpowered for such a fairly useless character.

Weaver: Agree fully on Worm.  And I’m still unclear why Psylocke suddenly strips down and goes swimming. Worm needs to have his...there’s no way that I can say this and not feel dirty, so I’ll just say that Worm needs to have contact with someone before he can manipulate them.  That doesn’t happen here.  

Also, there’s a point where Brainchild tries to coerce Lorna into sex, followed by Lupo essentially saying, “Why not just rape her?”  That was an uncomfortable moment for me to read, and I think even moreso because it was just a throwaway moment.  Eh, villains acting rapey, whatever...I’m much more concerned with Havok seeming to be acting strange.  And that again is especially odd because Havok acting strange is a lingering effect of Inferno, a plot that Lorna was front and center for.  While she was mind-controlled, it was clear all along that she knew what was happening around her.  She even makes reference to the mind control here.

Maillaro:  I liked the tease with Psylocke’s vision telling her the X-Men would be in trouble if they returned back to Australia.  Psylocke relaxes momentarily, just to find out “Hey, guess what! Gateway just brought us back to Australia!  How lucky is that?”  That poor girl was so shocked, she ends up turning Asian…

I am not sure if one panel can save an entire comic from being bad...but I will admit, this one came damn close!

Weaver: And what’s even worse is that Australia was the main plot of the time...Zaladane is something that doesn’t pay off for a while and is really parenthetical.  I wonder often if the move towards making X-Men happen twice a month (imagine that with the normal creative team in today’s comics world) led to a downshift in quality, because it really seems like the issues during those stretches alternated between good and poor.  

The last panel was really great, and benefitted from the brief lead-in while Psylocke blacked out because...let me say it again, I just can’t comprehend the sudden dive into the water there.  Nothing in this issue comes close to explaining that.  But the black out sequence was good and valuable, so I guess bully to it?

Ka-Zar is wasted here, just being a guy who shows up and gets yelled at for using contractions.  Nereel is here just to remind us that Piotr knocked her up in the late 70’s.  So much stuff just kind of delivered half-baked only to be put back on the shelf.  You know I love Claremont X-Men, but as I said when we decided on this week’s slate, this is not a great example.

Maillaro: When you read a comic like this, you wonder what went wrong.  Great writer in the middle of a great run.  Hot young artist (actually the art on this issue was terrific).  And then you get a big stinker like this.   Especially since 250 is a pretty big deal, though nothing about this issue suggests that Marvel even noticed they had an anniversary issue in their hands.  These days, there would be bells and whistles and a million different covers.  

I never want to make the comment that editors need to do a better job of reining in their talent...but an issue like this screams that to me.

Weaver: There’s a yellow box on the splash page letting you know it’s number 250...and beyond that, yeah.  Even that is an afterthought.

I really like Silvestri’s art, I think it kind of benefits from the original coloring more than the touched up digital coloring, because it has such a...I dunno, sketch quality to it?  The lines aren’t always clean, and that’s a lot of the appeal.  When partnered with a really crisp digital coloring, it doesn’t work as well as with the old coloring methods.

I promised I’d draw a parallel from All-New.  Here we have Havok try to blow up the bad guy base, and everyone is horrified by it.  Contrast to that being everyone highfiving over it in All-New.  I think it was to make All-New Beast’s heel turn subtle, whereas Claremont wants to just keep hammering “HAVOK HEEL TURN” into our brains here.

Maillaro: I think that is just a product of modern comic telling.  Spider-Verse had a few moments that I really felt went a little against some of Spider-Man’s core values.  Not that long ago, he was determined to not let anyone die...but he seemed to have no problem with hundreds of hundreds of Spider-Men mowing down the Inheritors pretty in discriminatorily.   “And make sure you blow up the clone facility so they stay dead for good.”  I am not even sure O5 Hank was being evil here...just trying to fit in.

Scores for this one?

Weaver: I’m sorry Claremont.  I love you, but you get a 1.5.  And I feel it’s a generous 1.5.

Silvestri, I still love you.  You can benefit from a 4.5.  You did basically all you could to make this interesting.

Maillaro: Wow.  Harsh...but fair.  I think I’ll go 2 for the writing.  I feel a lot of it comes from not quite understanding this book without better I am giving a slight benefit of the doubt there.  I thought the art was damn close to perfect.  I am going a full 5.  

Weaver: Maybe I’m harsher because I’m really familiar with the context, and it’s still silly.

Maillaro: For next week, I am kind of leaning towards Silk #1.  I still am completely undecided how I feel about the character and want your fresh perspective on her.  I guess I should explain.  Prior to Spider-Verse, we found out that there was someone else who was bit by the same spider that got Spider-Man.   This girl has been locked in seclusion until Peter stumbled upon her existence.   The two of them have a creepy phermonal reaction to each other, and now she’s got her own book.

Weaver: Sounds good.  Did we ever review 616 Gwen getting fridged off a bridge?  That seems like a classic issue that we could do.

Maillaro: Almost positive we have not.  Works for me!

FYI: The brilliant phrase “fridged off a bridge” was coined by Spider-Gwen this week...really hoping we can review her first issue soon too.

Final Scores


Maillaro – Story

Weaver – Story

Maillaro – Art

Weaver – Art

All-New X-Men #36





Uncanny X-Men #250