Chris’ Comic Book Corner

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The Dawn of the X-men

A review/recap from Christopher Franey and Rafael Encinas

Welcome back X-fans and let us get ready to dive into the next phase of Jonathan Hickman’s X-men with ‘Dawn of X’ .  We are fresh off of ‘House of X’ and ‘Powers of X’ (Ten) so we wanted to do a recap of the two series and how they intermingled with each other.  Rafa will cover “Powers” and I will talk about “House” and then we will both put our thoughts out there along with some of the hopes and wonders about the ‘Dawn of X’ that will begin in today’s X-men #1.  (SPOILERS AHEAD)

House #1

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: It all begins here…Hickman’s vision of the X-men and Mutants and their place in the Marvel Universe.  Now be prepared with this story because you could probably read one without the other, but the layers that they add to each is so much more enriching to the overall tale.  I was just planning on ‘House of X’ only at first, but I am totally glad that I added ‘Powers of X’ as well.  The issue opens hard with Xavier in his new Cerebro helmet and us seeing the pod people; it is such a cold open that we are guessing who the pod people are and why they could be there, then finally the first words are spoken…”To me, my X-Men.”  We see various X-Men members planting these flowers, that have grown off of Krakoa, in various places that are famous to X-Men lore…and Mars and the Jerusalem Habitat.  Once they fully grow we can see how massive and lush they are.  Now we are taken to a political side of the story in which we can see that various countries are being offered a gift from the Mutants; a drug that can extend human life another five years, prevents diseases of the mind, and a powerful antibiotic.  Xavier is using the drug to get other countries to recognize Krakoa as a Mutant nation.  We are then treated to a tour of how Krakoa works and how it will be for Mutants and Humans on the land as well.  Hickman does treat us to some pages that are info-graphics…spend the time to read and enjoy them, also take notes.  The action continues with reveal of Orchis and their base near the Sun, “Evil” Mutants committing crimes of breaking and entering, murder, and data theft; to which the Fantastic Four answer and leads to an interesting showdown with Cyclops.  The issue ends with Magneto letting the Humans present that the Mutants are so much more now…they are New Gods.  Stage is set and the drama is high.  

Critique: Lots of mystery is laid out for the reader and makes for a comic that you will probably read over and over again.  Lots of questions will come to your mind…which is great, and hopefully with HoX/PoX answering them as you go along.  This is not for the mere “fanboy” this is some serious comics that will have you analyzing who the X-Men have become.  Great read and it has me hooked.   Pepe Larraz is just killing it with the art as well.  He just draws these characters and they feel iconic again…even though some of them have new costumes and looks, they just look amazing.  This is an artist to follow if you can.

Powers #1

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: This issue is an excellent introduction to the expansive and detailed world that Hickman is creating. Whereas House of X #1 creates a new and exciting position of empowerment for the mutant species through Xavier and Magneto’s new ambitions, Powers of X #1 sets up an impressive and expansive timeline of mutant events. We get Year One: The Dream in where we have Xavier’s early life as leader of the X-Men and when he first meets Moira; these are the events that occur before the events in House of X. We have Year Ten: The World which is the current timeline we saw in House of X. We have Year One Hundred: The War which showcases a dystopian future where Nimrod and the humans have almost wiped out the mutant species. We are particularly introduced to new mutants Rasputin and Cardinal who are on a mission to retrieve important information from earth. They escape by the skin of their teeth. And lastly, we have Year One Thousand: Ascension where it appears that humans have evolved to a higher level of intelligence, and all mutants have been subjugated in a preservation habitat.

Critique: Basically, this is a wild issue where we see Hickman world-building and setting in motion the events in where the X-Men will inevitably lose. R.B. Silva’s art is outstanding with vivid lines and colors! The new mutants: Rasputin and Cardinal are excellent new characters introduced with enough characteristics that make them feel like mutants we’ve loved and known in the past, but with enough differences that they come off as unique and special. Also, Nimrod is portrayed as an absolute wicked and deranged machine hell bent on destroying the mutants, so that is a plus. Overall, this issue is great storytelling because it sets up and asserts what we are going to eventually end up leaning in POX #6: The X-Men always lose. It is both a somber but effective and electrifying issue.

House #2

Marvel Comics

Synopsis:  This issue will change everything you know about Moira MacTaggert, who last time we saw here in main continuity was dead.  We will see various versions of her life and how she has been successful in them or been utterly defeated; what is great for Moira is that she will be able to retain her memories from each life.  So she has tried it all, being there for Xavier, being with people like Magneto and Apocalypse.  Spending one of her lives trying to kill off the Trask bloodline; which is really telling that the Machines/A.I. are worse to the Mutants than the Humans are.  Her third life was very interesting as she decides to use Science to help cure the Mutants and avoid their fate altogether, but she is stopped by Mystique and her Brotherhood.  We can see some big setting up with Moira’s confrontation with Destiny; which will come to play out towards the end of the tale. 

Critique: HoX 2 was just mind blowing to me…I mean Moira MacTaggert is a Mutant!  I remember reading about her first appearance and she was saying she was Xavier’s maid…then his lover…mother of Proteus and so much more to her, plus she’s dead! This just was a wild ride of an issue and has me very intrigued about Moira’s new abilities.  This also raises a big question for me…which life is Moira currently in?  Like was she always living everything out in the “Marvel-616” first experience or was she pretending it along?  Plus with the info-graphic we can see that “Life Six” is missing…so what happened there?  They mystery deepens.  At least we know something more about Moira MacTaggert.

Powers #2

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: Powers of X #2 continues to explore the events of each timeline that Hickman showcased in POX #1. It begins in Year One where Xavier and Moira recruit Magneto to their cause (we get to see the bromance develop and strengthen now with the incorporation of Moira’s vision). This is an excellent scene where we see these powerful mutants come together for a long-term plan. We then get a look into the Year Ten timeline where Magneto and Xavier recruit Cyclops to assemble a team. They must stop the activation of that timeline’s Mother Mold because it ultimately becomes the Nimrod that we see in Year One Hundred. Basically, Cyclops is given an almost impossible task, but knowing what is at stake, he cooly accepts (setting up one of House of X’s pivotal moments). During the One Hundred timeline, we get further details on Rasputin and Cardinal’s mission on earth. They have retrieved important information necessary for locating the exact time and date of Nimrod’s activation. However, they must return to Nimrod’s archive to find the specific data file. Again, this appears to be another impossible task because of Nimrod’s forces. It is revealed that Apocalypse is leading the last mutants on Asteroid K, and he tells them not to fret because he will be leading them. In Year One Thousand, we continue to see Hickman world build by giving us examples of different types of civilizations, almost as if though theoretical physicist Michio Kaku helped him with some of these ideas, and we find out that the evolved humans are seeking ascension by becoming one with the Phalanx.   

Critique:Powers of X #2 is an excellent issue because it continues to weave the story that we saw both in POX #1 but also in events from HOX #1 and #2. The art direction continues to be excellent with excellent graphic design and utilization of text. There are also definite stand out character moments for both Cyclops and Apocalypse; they just feel so cool. Hickman is a master at these huge sci-fi epics, and it is further proven through both the plot reveals (We need to stop the Master Mold from coming online) and from its insane amount of questions that keep popping up (What really is going on in Year One Thousand?).

Powers #3

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: This issue starts with a bang as we focus on the events of Year One Hundred. The last mutants of Asteroid K unleash a final assault on the Nimrod’s Machine Empire. Rasputin, Cardinal, and Xorn have some great moments as they act as a distraction for Wolverine and Apocalypse to retrieve the vital information from Nimrod’s archives. Nimrod shows up and has an awesome battle against Apocalypse. With Wolverine being the sole survivor and heading back to Asteroid K, it is revealed that Moira has been in stasis and is woken up so she can absorb Nimrod’s origin point which happens when the humans activate the Mother Mold in the Year Ten timeline (which is being attacked by Cyclops’ team in HOX #3).  Now that Moira has absorbed this knowledge, Wolverine kills her and so ends the ninth life of Moira.

Critique: This is an action-packed issue with many standout moments. Apocalypse taking on Nimrod so that Wolverine can escape with the information is not only a highlight, but a badass moment. Xorn and Rasputin’s final Hail Mary as they “Black Hole Sun” Omega and her forces is very gratifying. And the reveal that this timeline wasn’t necessarily the future of the current House of X timeline, but instead was a future for Moira during her ninth life is a crazy reveal, and it showcases exactly why Hickman is such an exciting and rewarding writer. Furthermore, what I like most about this issue is the fact that it focuses solely on the final battle between Nimrod and the mutants of Asteroid K. We get some great action sequences with beautiful moments; again, the colors and art direction in this issue is phenomenal. Hickman writes Nimrod in such an awesome way that he has quickly become one of my favorite characters (both full of character and menacingly evil and powerful). Also, Hickman’s Apocalypse is such a stand out character and is given some of the most iconic lines. The final reveal at the end with the time traveling Moira and her ten lives feels exciting and not cliché. Overall, this is a great issue that feels like it pushes the plot forward.

House #3

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: This is a huge action issue…the X-Men take the fight to Orchis to prevent the Mother Mold from going online and that will be leading to the Nimrod sentinel and nightmare that we have been seeing in Powers of X.  Cyclops gets his team of Mutants and they are some famous ones to take this suicidal trip to the Sun with him; on that team are Wolverine, Husk, Archangel, M, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Mystique.  We also get to see how Mutants and the Law interact at Sabretooth’s “trial” and how he has diplomatic immunity by way of Krakoa; this will be a game changer to the way Mutants can do their actions.  Sabretooth is release to Emma Frost’s care where she takes him back to Krakoa.  Then we are shifted back into space where we see the X-Men land on the Orchis installation and the battle begins.  One member of Orchis makes the ultimate sacrifice to make sure Mother Mold isn’t stopped; he causes and explosion that does take out the X-Men’s means of transportation…but what of the X-men?  To be continued…

Critique: This issue was just insane!  Seeing the X-Men in action was great and this team that Cyclops put together really just shows that every Mutant is a part of what is happening.  Hickman does a great job with the Orchis “villains” as they are people with their own hopes and struggles…plus the way the Mutants have been acting does seem scary…maybe not Sentinel/Nimrod scary, but they just don’t seem to be as peaceful as they once were.  I also love that we are not getting some of the Krakoan alphabet, so now we can see what is being said throughout issues and on the last pages.  Pepe delivered on the action sequences and made them awesome and real.

House #4

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: We begin with Xavier, Magneto, Storm, and various other Mutants at the Observation on Krakoa as they look on to the events of the X-Men vs Orchis.  Their team is in communication with Cyclops’ team out in Space and the discussions are not well at all.  This mission has quickly become a high cost to the team.  Cyclops tells the others that they have to finish this otherwise it is in waste, so the team rallies and goes at it.  The team separates in order to break off the collars that are holding the Mother Mold head to the satellite…one by one the team is successful but at great costs.  Jean Grey is the only one to make it out via escape pod, but Orchis is out for blood as this has become personal.  This is nothing new for the X-men, but this time…Xavier vows “No More.”

Critique: This issue was just amazing…huge kudos to Pepe on the art.  He drew some heart wrenching panels showing how much the X-Men are willing to give in order to prevent Mother Mold.  Cyclops is my favorite character and watching his death just hit me hard; especially Jean’s death…that’s the stuff of nightmares.  Orchis is not a group you mess with after the events of this issue.  This was a high point in both series for me…high stakes mission with the X-men!

Powers #4

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: Powers of X #4 focuses on Xavier before the events of House of X; it is a behind-the-scenes look into the foundation he lays for what inevitably flourishes in House of X. We see him and Magneto systematically recruit an extra flamboyant Mister Sinister to create a catalog of mutant DNA (this is important because it brings Sinister into Xavier’s endgame and at the same time leads to a game-changing plot point in HOX #5). We also see Xavier recruit Douglas Ramsey (the mutant Cypher) to meet Krakoa and to begin creating a Krakoan language to be utilized later, as we see in HOX #1. We get a glimpse into Krakoa’s past when it was a part of a bigger island state, but due to demons attacking, Krakoa was separated from its second half. We also learn that Apocalypse was the one that cast the demons aside and protected Krakoa from further destruction (a plot point that is further realized in HOX #5). The issue ends with the Year One Thousand timeline in where the evolved humans continue to ponder if the Phalanx will accept their request for ascension.  

Critique: I feel like Powers of X #4 is a bit of a letdown compared to the explosive events of POX #3 and HOX #3 and #4. However, it still establishes good background for how certain characters help move the plot forward such as: Cypher and his creation of a Krakoan language system and even Sinister with his role in HOX #5.  The issue does wander for a bit and does not feel as important as previous issues; however, it is still an interesting issue. Personally, I was a bit confused by Sinister’s comedic and fabulous characterization, especially at Bar Sinister when he japed about capes. However, I realized that if you read Sinister’s dialogue in Tim Curry’s enigmatic voice, it just makes everything better.  I also appreciated the lore about Krakoa’s history, something I am sure Hickman will bring up in the future.

House #5

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: Now we understand why Mister Sinister is a part of this…regrowth and rebirth.  So we meet the five:  Goldballs, Proteus, Elixir, Tempus, and Hope.  They use their powers in conjunction with each other and now we know who those pod people were from earlier; resurrected X-Men.  They help to recreate the bodies then Xavier comes in and give the mind back to the body.  Storm then addresses all Mutants on Krakoa to make sure that everyone feels that the killed in action X-Men are truly themselves.  Storm addresses all of them and they can point out why they are themselves resurrected anew.  We then shift to the U.N. and see that the Mutants have gained their nation after all and are recognized by the U.N. and various nations, but not all.  Lastly, the doors are open to ALL Mutants and we see various “evil” Mutants arrive at Krakoa…we are then reminded of Apocalypse and Krakoa’s history together.  Now there is total unity with all Mutants on Krakoa. 

Critique:  This was heavy to see Apocalypse and Xavier shaking hands and pledging to make it work for everyone.  The resurrection scene was great and what a boost for Goldballs to be a major player now.  I just wonder how things will work out for Tempus since Moira didn’t like Destiny’s precog powers, how will time travel be viewed?  The resurrection itself is very interesting as that does take the drama out of missions, but then again how real are these X-Men?  They may look like our usual Cyclops and Wolverine but is there something more going on?

Powers #5

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: This issue continues to be a behind-the-scenes look at Xavier putting into place all the pieces to establish his House of X. In this issue, we see Xavier approach the mutant Forge about updating cerebro to copy every mutant’s essence and then store that essence into different redundant cradles /storage for backup. Basically, he enlists Forge to make some upgrades to cerebro with awesome Krakoan technology (which we see used in action in HOX #5). We then see Xavier and Magneto recruit Emma Frost to utilize her Hell Fire Club Corporation to act as the East India Trading Company to deliver the new mutant drugs to other nations, making her essential to the new mutant future. We also get to see Xavier’s call to all mutants, offering them all a home at Krakoa (which is what then happens in HOX #5 when all the villains show up at Krakoa’s gates). The issue ends with the Year One Thousand timeline in where the evolved humans’ request for ascension is accepted; however, this is more ominous than celebratory because this means that the Phalanx will absorb that civilization’s lore and construct, but no living thing will be left behind.  

Critique: Like with previous Powers of X issues, this issue is good at giving us a behind the scenes look at creating the nation state of Krakoa. Hickman’s incorporation of Forge is great and the utilization and explanation of cerebro is good storytelling. Also, Hickman writes a powerful and fully realized Emma Frost who feels full of character, passion, and wit. Seeing her interact and bicker with Magneto and Xavier is fun and definitely in character. Xavier coming to Namor to ask him to join them at Krakoa was also a standout because we get an egocentric and empowered Namor who just scoffs at Xavier’s offer, which might be setting something up in the future. Lastly, I am happy that the “ascension” plot with Year One Thousand is reaching its conclusion. I really like the ominous feeling of the Phalanx accepting humanity’s request for ascension but in doing so, humanity has been doomed to a purge of all living things for a form of immortality. Hickman brings up really interesting concepts about immortality and type two and three civilizations and the philosophical implications it has for humanity. I also like the continued build on cosmic lore with continued advanced civilizations like Titan, Stronghold, and Dominion. I am especially interested in seeing how this plays out with the call out that Dominion civilizations only fear the world eater Galactus and the Phoenix. This will definitely come into play in the future, which is again in Hickman’s playhouse; he writes for the long game.

House #6

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: House of X comes to an end and we are going to have some bombshells…the issue opens at Moira’s No-Space and here we will discover this is where she is hiding from everyone except Xavier and Magneto.  We are introduced to the “Quiet Council of Krakoa” with members consisting of Xavier, Magneto, Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, Exodus, Mystique, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawer, yet we are still missing someone who will be the “Red King.”  There are supports as well with Cypher and Krakoa itself and “Great Captains” of Cyclops, Gorgon, Bishop, and Magik.  The council first meets to decide what to do about Sabretooth and they agree to banish him to the depths of Krakoa.  The three laws are established:  Make More Mutants, Murder No Man, Respect This Sacred Land.  Once the Council is done we see all the Mutants celebrating and just living in peace…which is great for them as they are usually “hated and feared.”  We do see Apocalypse sitting along and then Magneto and Xavier looking onward. 

Critique:  Great ending to this series, but of course this is not the end of the tale.  I found the Council to be something of intrigue as some of the members are distasteful Mutants, but this is also interesting as checks and balances.  I like the Great Captains and am happy that Cyclops is the Captain Commander.  I wonder how the seasons will play out with the Council?  What is Apocalypse planning as he sits alone?  Will this make the Mutants not the strongest after all?  Beautiful issue as always from Pepe Larraz; I’m so glad he is on X-Men and I hope to see his works later on in the Dawn of X-Men.

Powers #6

Marvel Comics

Synopsis: Powers of X #6 is significant not only because it is the final issue in Hickman’s HOX/POX magnum opus, but it further expounds on what we learn from the very first issue in POX #1; we learn that the mutants always lose.  This is told through the experience of Moira who is revealed to be living her sixth life in the Year One Thousand timeline. As the evolved humans are about to be absorbed into the Phalanx, one of the humans seeking ascension reveals this plan to Moira and Wolverine (who is still alive and with Moira in the mutant preservation habitat). Moira basically confirms that mutants always lose because humans do whatever is necessary to win every time, whether it means evolving alongside machines or becoming something even deadlier. So, she has Wolverine kill her (just like in POX #3) and her sixth life ends. This experience radicalizes her and adds so much more intrigue into what her true motivations are. We are then taken to a scene where Moira is speaking with Xavier and Magneto as they are preparing for the festivities on Krakoa (the same events during House of X #6). We see that Xavier and Magneto have taken advantage of Moira as much as she has them. They are no longer listening to her input or her worries about constant failure. They have a strong belief that what they are doing is infallible, and the issue ends with them challenging anyone who doesn’t like the mutant’s new status quo to just try and stop them.    

Critique: Powers of X #6 is definitely a stand out issue because it states what we see in all the future timelines in Powers of X #1; we see that the mutants always lose. Today’s victory is meaningless in the long scheme of things. Whether it is killer sentinels or ascension with the Phalanx, mutants don’t stay at the top for long.The art is wonderful. The characters are given additional dimensions due to their plotting. And the fact that Xavier and Magneto have stopped listening to Moira is concerning, but exciting. Like in House of X #6, we see the mutants triumphant, but this issue muddies the implication by basically asking, but at what cost and for how long?  Overall, this is a satisfying conclusion in that it brings up enough dissent and ominous plot points that we should get an exciting and riveting new status quo for the X-Men moving forward. The X-Men have successfully won the day; however, as we have seen in the Powers of X storyline, winning the day is nothing when there are multiple timelines and future events that can make the X-Men’s prosperous today a living nightmare tomorrow. Hickman truly created an exciting work of art with this series.

Reactions to HoX/PoX:  Overall, I can say that reading through both the House of X and Powers of X issues has been a cathartic and enjoyable experience. We get to participate in some of the best storytelling being told today, and Jonathan Hickman writes his characters with respect and excitement. It feels exciting to be an X-Men fan again because we get engaging and riveting narratives. I like how Powers of X serves as complementary reading alongside House of X’s main narrative. We get to see the background and motivations for the things that Xavier does in House of X. Both series really complement one another really well, and it all feels important. 

Let us talk about the new dawn…so what are you expecting from the new series that will be launching after HoX/PoX?  With X-Men, Excalibur, New Mutants, Marauders, Fallen Angels, and X-Force continuing the story of the Mutants which and how many will you be continuing on with?  Has your favorite Mutant gotten a good spotlight yet?  Hickman has let it be known that there will be more books that will talk about the resurrections and a focus on Moira as well.  Check us out on social media and let us know your thoughts and as always remember to…GEEK OUT!

Hit the Throttle Hard as the Challenge of the Ghost Riders begins!

Lets recap what has been happening to the Hell Riding Spirit of Vengeance

The Many Ghost Riders of the Marvel Universe

     So if you’re a fan of badasses and vengeance then I’m sure you’re a fan of Ghost Rider.  Now with any legacy character the question is who is your favorite rider?  Is it the classic Johnny Blaze, radical 90’s Danny Ketch, lady rider Alejandra Jones, car driven Robbie Reyes, or even cosmic Frank Castle?  Well this July get ready to watch them either come together or face each other in “The Challenge of the Ghost Riders” by Jason Aaron happening in the Avengers book.

So let us go back to last year and revisit the Doctor Strange Damnation event.  Steven Strange tried to fix Las Vegas after the destruction that was visited upon it by Evil Hydra Steve Rogers (Stevil) and when Strange did that it caused Hell on Earth, literally as Mephisto creates Hotel Inferno with all kinds of havoc unleashed.  Now this story by Nick Spencer and Donny Cates brought together all kinds of heroes and Johnny Blaze answered the call.  While taking on Mephisto, Johnny took advantage of Mephisto’s absence in Hell and became the new King of Hell.  Great story and highly recommended, Mitch and I did a podcast over it during our Halloween Heroics and the story is available in trade paperback.  Now if you just want some quick reads then I would recommend Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1 (released 3/29/18 and written by Christopher Sebela) and Doctor Strange: Damnation #4 (released 4/25/18) for Johnny’s main parts in the story.  Here are some SPOILERS from that story:

Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1, art by Phil Noto
Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1, art by Phil Noto
Doctor Strange: Damnation #4, art by Rod Reis
Doctor Strange: Damnation #4, art by Rod Reis

     As you can see from those images, Johnny means business; so what has he been doing since becoming the King of Hell?  It took a while but in the current volume of Avengers by Jason Aaron he has put out some teasing images for us; with issue 16 we see that Robbie Reyes (the current Ghost Rider) is trapped in Hell with a traffic jam, so a guiding voice has been helping him escape and at the end of the issue we discover it was Johnny Blaze and there will be some business between the two as well.  The tease continues in the issue 17 with a panel as well.

Avengers #16, art by David Marquez
Avengers #16, art by David Marquez
Avengers #17, art by David Marquez

     The War of the Realms has been happening as the main Marvel event but has finally come to a conclusion and Daredevil with his newfound vision has let us in on some of the upcoming events that will be happening such as the Hell Race, as shown in Avengers issue 20; now I’m guessing this is referring to the Challenge of the Ghost Riders as both are by Jason Aaron.

Avengers #20, art by Ed McGuinness

     Now Johnny has been very active and has started showing up in other books.  Donny Cates had Blaze come and offer the Cosmic Ghost Rider (a future Frank Castle with the Spirit of Vengeance and Power Cosmic) a chance to race, in the current volume of Guardians of the Galaxy issue 6.  We were also treated to the return of Danny Ketch, who was the big Ghost Rider of the 90’s; over in Marvel Comics Presents issue 6 by Ed Brisson.  Now don’t worry about getting that issue since it will be crazy expensive with the introduction of another Wolverine daughter, just get the second print which has a great Ghost Rider cover anyways.  Johnny made an appearance in that Marvel Comics Presents issue as well and told the villain of the story that he probably won’t like the new management of Hell, right on Johnny!  The second printing of MCP #6 will have Diamond code MAY198638 and be available in comic shops on July 24th.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6, art by Geoff Shaw
Marvel Comics Presents #6, art by Juan Frigeri
Marvel Comics Presents #6, art by Juan Frigeri
Marvel Comics Presents #6, art by Juan Frigeri
Marvel Comics Presents #6 2nd printing cover, art by Juan Frigeri

     Now let us check out some related comics that will be tie-in issues with the Challenge event and also featuring a Ghost Rider:

  • From the June 2019 solicts

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GHOST RIDER VOL. 1 HC
Written by GARY FRIEDRICH with ROY THOMAS, MARV WOLFMAN & DOUG MOENCH
Penciled by MIKE PLOOG, TOM SUTTON & JIM MOONEY with HERB TRIMPE
Cover by MIKE PLOOG
Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, makes his Marvel Masterworks debut! In 1972, one of the most iconic characters in comics history — the flame-skulled Ghost Rider — burned his demonic presence into readers’ minds! A legion of fans found themselves addicted to the Rider’s combination of hell-on-wheels drama and action-horror adventure. And it all begins here, when Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the devil to save his friend’s life. The payment? Transformation into the Ghost Rider! The stories that follow take the horror hero to Hell to battle Satan, pit him against the tempting Witch-Woman and team him with Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan. Written by Gary Friedrich and gloriously illustrated by Mike Ploog, Tom Sutton and Jim Mooney, this iconic series is beautifully restored for this Marvel Masterworks edition! Collecting MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #5-12 and GHOST RIDER (1973) #1-5.
328 PGS./Rated T …$75.00
ISBN: 978-1-302-91817-0

     Now this is important as we will finally for the first time be getting a collection of the early adventures of Johnny Blaze printed in color with a hardcover edition that will be in comic shops this October.  There are plenty of back issues and also reprints of those as well, but this will be part of the Masterworks series and these are top shelf collections.  With this publication there just might be something happening to the Rider(s) in October that merit this being available to readers. 

  • From the July 2019 solicts

AVENGERS #21
JASON AARON (W) • TBA (A) • COVER BY STEFANO CASELLI
CARNAGE-IZED VARIANT COVER BY TBA
The war is over, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are looking to celebrate. That’s right, there’s a party at Avengers Mountain! But who invited the Squadron Supreme of America?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers #21, art by Stefano Caselli

AVENGERS #22
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
CARNAGE-IZED VARIANT COVER BY JUNGGEUN YOON
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS STARTS HERE!
Robbie Reyes wants to get rid of the flame-headed monster inside him. So it’s time to do the common sense thing: perform an exorcism on his car. Only problem is, Johnny Blaze, the king of Hell, has some plans of his own for the newest Ghost Rider and his Avengers friends.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers #22, art by Stefano Caselli

     From those covers you can see there will be a demonic theme with the Avengers as Mephisto and Johnny grace those covers.  So it looks like the official Challenge will begin and we have Johnny, Danny, and Frank in place.  How will they all tie in with the Avengers and will they all be together or against each other?  Will Robbie have to worry about Johnny since his Spirit of Vengeance is Eli Morrow and was a Satanic Serial Killer; so the Riders might not take a liking to his influence on Robbie and need to get rid of Eli. 

  • From the August 2019 solicts

AVENGERS #23
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
MARVELS 25TH VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
Bring on the Bad Guys Variant Cover by MIKE MCKONE
AVENGERS MOUNTAIN: POSSESSED as CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS continues!
It’s Ghost Rider vs. Ghost Rider in a wild race through hell, while the Avengers have to fight for their lives against their own Celestial headquarters, which is now possessed by a rather shocking, rather murderous hell-damned soul!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

     From that solicit we now know the Riders will be taking each other on, so how will this Civil War play out?  Are the Riders okay with Johnny being the King of Hell?  Is he using his power for good or evil?  What will Danny Ketch be thinking of all this madness?  Is it Eli Marrow who has possessed Avengers Mountain?  Has Robbie been changed?  Does Cosmic Frank even care?  

  • From the September 2019 solicts

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SYMBIOTE OF VENGEANCE #1
ED BRISSON (W) • JUAN FRIGERI (A) • Cover by PHILIP TAN
CODEX VARIANT COVER BY TBA
VARIANT COVER BY TBA (VIRGIN VERSION ALSO AVAILABLE)
Carnage is hunting down previous symbiote hosts for codices that will unlock a direct link to the symbiote god Knull! And he’s not asking nicely…he’s taking them by force! Which means former Ghost Rider Alejandra Jones is next on his hit list!
With Johnny Blaze preoccupied as Hell’s king, it’s up to Danny Ketch to ride again and keep Alejandra out of Carnage’s clutches!!!
40 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$4.99

Absolute Carnage: Spirit of Vengeance #1, art by Phillip Tan

AVENGERS #24
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
IMMORTAL WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS!
If the Avengers thought one Ghost Rider was tough to deal with, wait’ll they see how many Spirits of Vengeance have just been unleashed by the King of Hell, Johnny Blaze! Including the craziest, most powerful Rider of them all…That’s right, it’s the Avengers vs. Cosmic Ghost Rider!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers #24, art by Stefano Caselli

THE PUNISHER #15
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W) • Szymon Kudranski (A) • Cover by GREG SMALLWOOD
IMMORTAL WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE BATTLE OF NEW YORK!
• You can’t fight City Hall…unless, of course, you’re Frank Castle.
• But he won’t fight alone!
• Unfortunately, Zemo’s got his new Thunderbolts, and they’re ready for war.
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

The Punisher #15, art by Greg Smallwood

     Now this month’s set of comics are really exciting…Danny goes to save Alejandra, but did he go on his own or did someone send him?  Will Alejandra be joining in on the Challenge as well?  Cosmic Frank will be fighting the Avengers, so which side will Robbie be taking or is he the reason why they are fighting?  Then a Ghost Rider appears in the Punisher book but we don’t know who it is…and trust me I asked the writer, Matthew Rosenberg.

Twitter

     So at the time of this publication that is how far the solicits can take us, so who knows what will happen outside of the conclusion of the Challenge of the Ghost Riders in issue 25 of the Avengers; I know the conclusion will happen here as I checked Amazon for the trade paperbacks and they reported the Avengers by Jason Aaron volume 4 tpb will contain issues 21-25.  Now something else interesting that will be happening as we have heard in other news, the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider will be appearing on the small screen again with a new show on HULU.  Here is the official press release:

Per Marvel and HULU press release: (show will air sometime in 2020)

“Marvel’s Ghost Rider, also known as Robbie Reyes, is a quintessential antihero, consumed by hellfire and supernaturally bound to a demon. Reyes lives on the Texas/Mexico border and when he unleashes the Rider, Robbie brings vengeance for the innocents he encounters, but struggles to control the power he wields. Marvel’s Ghost Rider is executive produced by Ingrid Escajeda, who will serve as showrunner, Paul Zbyszewski and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb.”

     Now it has also been reported that Gabriel Luna will reprise his role as Robbie, which is great and he was awesome in the role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so why this entire hubbub about Ghost Rider?  Well he will start becoming a hot commodity again and I’m also predicting that we will be getting a comic book series again…how do I think this?  Well in October some participating comic shops will be handing out comics as treats as part of Halloween Comic Fest and Marvel will be re-releasing the Johnny Blaze Damnation issue as a new titled book:

Ghost Rider King of Hell #1

(W) Christopher Sebela (A) Phil Noto Johnny Blaze takes the fight to a different devil than he usually faces – Mephisto!  But Mephisto will show Johnny his own brand of suffering – and give Johnny PLENTY of reasons for vengeance.
Rating: Teen

Ghost Rider King of Hell #1, art by Clayton Crain

     Those should be out just in time for the Masterwork and (hopefully) a release of a new Ghost Rider comic title, but how many Riders will it feature?  Who should it feature?  If I had my say I would say call it Ghost Riders and feature Johnny, Danny, Alejandra, and Robbie.  What do you think?  Chime in on our social media and let us know, as always GEEK OUT!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #19

A Review From Christopher Franey

Alright I’m back and it is time to get UNCANNY!  Here we are at issue 19 of the current run of Uncanny and part 3 of “We Have Always Been.”  With this issue there is a change in the narrator as the box is white instead of red, we have quite the bold opening, “It seems it is finally time to lay our cards on the table and see who has the better bluff.”  I’m pretty sure this would be Emma Frost, a.k.a. the White Queen, who is our narrator for this issue.  We have Matthew Rosenberg continuing his story with a group of artists on pencils such as Carlos Villa, Carlos Gomez, and Bob Quinn.  They did a great job of blending styles so you don’t really notice a change in art. 

Let us jump into it, we have Emma watching the X-Men (a different group) fighting the Sentinels, and it appears that the Vanisher is her servant in this new version of the Hellfire Club.  So her group gets attacked by the Warlock infected X-men which leads to her capture by General Robert Callahan, who happens to be the director of O.N.E.

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Callahan does a great job of using his position to beat down the White Queen, but Emma isn’t someone you mess with.  She manages to survive the bright light prison for a couple of days, but finally she does crack and reveals that Hank McCoy still has the serum that cures mutations, so Callahan does have plans to exploit this; which I’m pretty sure we saw this at the beginning of this volume of Uncanny. Callahan does a good job of taking care of Emma and showing that he values her and is also on guard against her powers.  While letting her know that she is in check, he informs her that all the X-Men are dead after their fight with X-Man (Nate Grey back in Uncanny 10).  Emma does have some freedoms and she uses that time for some shopping in which she takes Marrow out to help our her style since she’ll be part of the Hellfire Club.  Of course the good times don’t last for long as Callahan and O.N.E. strike and want Emma to come back in for some work.  She thinks shes got the upper hand, but she really doesn’t as Callahan is play acting, so when Emma calls on Vanisher to port them out, this winds up with him being fired upon by an experimental weapon which causes Vanisher to melt.  So Emma knows she has to stop as others are being hurt.  

She has been tasked by O.N.E. to find Blindfold which brings us to the events of issue 11; so it might merit a chance for rereading.  Around this point Emma finds out that Scott Summers is alive and this is a great moment for us fans with their reunion.  Before Scott died he went on quite the set of stories and it did pit him against a lot of the X-Men and his friends.  Things ended pretty badly with Emma during Bendis’ run of Uncanny X-men and it was pretty much set that their relationship was over.  Then we see the two together for Scott’s last story in Death of X, which set a chain of events that would lead to Emma’s character doing some questionable things.  I would say this issue did a great job of helping to redeem Emma.  

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The moment shared by the two was quite interesting as you can see from Emma’s words that she cares for Scott, but then she takes this moment away and only she knows what happened here.  She explains that not one of the Hellfire Club can know Scott is alive as that would mean O.N.E. would go after him in some fashion.  Next she makes her way to Wolverine and they exchange some barbed words, but in the end she orders him to look for Scott and take care of him…so this really adds to the behind the scenes on the previous issues.  Callahan isn’t too happy to find out that Scott is alive and Emma hasn’t reported that.  Emma manages to broker a way for Scott to not be hunted down but be useful to O.N.E.  So this takes us to the list and how questionable it was that Scott created it. 

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Now we’re back to last issue and we see “Captain America” with a captured Mister Sinister and she reveals all, and that it is Mystique and the Hellfire Club that are manipulating the X-Men.  While that should be all find and dandy for the bad guys, we are now seeing Wolverine and Kwannon and they are bringing the wrath…to be continued of course. 

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 This issue was great, lots of twists and reveals that will make you rethink what you have seen and read.  I was talking with Rafa (@mobilerafie) about the issues and it had use questioning everything.  I honestly don’t think we’ve seen Captain America meet with Scott yet, but then again Rafa said it could be that Cap was just at the rally, so maybe they did meet and it was just Mystique taking advantage and showing up as Cap in later issues…good point, but who knows?  I know some fans have been having a hard time with the current story arc but I am absolutely loving the issues that Matthew Rosenberg is writing.  This is now even more of a mystery with the revelations that were dropped in this issue.  I’m questioning Cyclops’ choices and wondering how much Emma may have manipulated him or maybe even saved him.  It was a very touching scene and some great words she said about Scott.  I’m very excited for the next issue and beyond, so keep reading and Excelsior!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #16

A Review From Christopher Franey

Ok we’re back after a crazy hectic week and I’m here to talk with you about Uncanny X-Men issue 16, part 6 of “This is Forever.”  So I missed issue 15 which had some wild dynamics, reunions, and also some damages…mainly like Cyclops being shot in the eye by Hope.  So I’m wondering how that will be resolved since Dark Beast did operate on Scott, plus he also helped the infected X-Men lose the Transmode Virus.  So is Dark Beast a member of the team?  Has he done something to Scott?  Guess we will find out at a later time.So the issue opens up with “This began when someone I cared about died.  And it began to end when someone else I cared about did, too.  All I can think is how each step we take toward our end never gets us any closer.  It always comes out of nowhere…”  So I wonder who this narrator is; my first thought was Cyclops since the text box is in red, but with this latest entry I am wondering if by chance it might be one of the New Mutants.  Who could the first death be and who was the second?  Are they deaths that are part of this arc?  Maybe it was the death of Blindfold (Ruth) and this issue’s death…(SPOILER) Wolfsbane (Rahne). 

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That was a hard revelation to see in this issue especially after Rahne asked if she could stop and just live a normal life.  That was a nice moment and something that makes sense, sometimes people are just tired of fighting, especially since she has been doing this since she was a kid; I’ll be honest I was hoping that she would have the happy ending but it wasn’t in the script for her.   

So we see right off the bat that Cyclops is turning over Samurai, Dragoness, Forearm, and Strobe to Captain America so they can be properly placed into custody.  Scott admits he doesn’t like this and really doesn’t trust Cap, he even hides the fact that he still has Hope, Banshee, and Dark Beast.  What I found interesting in the conversation between the two was that Scott doesn’t see the USA as his country anymore, which is sad but understandable as he says, “I’m a Mutant, Steve.  Any country I ever had has been taken from me long ago.”  Hmmm…maybe a return for Utopia?  Before that scene ends we see Cap give a note to Scott, so I wonder how that will play out later. Havok has a moment where he expresses that he is tired of not being in Scott’s council and the lying to Captain America.  Alex doesn’t like the fact that Scott is getting more advice from Logan and not evening hearing out his own brother.  Scott simply tells him: 

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Which I find interesting as we do tend to blind ourselves and judgements for those we care about.  The next scene sets us up for some X-Men action.  As we see a “Magneto” led Brotherhood attack Connallon Air Force Base in Eastern Transia; the scary part of this Brotherhood is they have a Juggernaut.  We then shift back to Harry’s Hideaway and the decision is set who will lead the X-Men, Scott tells the group as of now he is no longer the De Facto Leader.  They come to a consensus that most of the team members are leaders, so actions will be put to a vote.  Illyana calls up the first vote and it looks like that is to add Hope and Banshee to the team, so this group goes into action against the Brotherhood. 

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Looking good!  What was interesting was the line all sins are forgiven, so this might help to launch this team forward instead of some of the past drama holding them back.  In this fight we see Cyclops flashback to Rhane which is crazy as they are in battle and his mind wandered.  They have a struggle with the Brotherhood but in the end they manage to get to “Magneto” and discover that he is actually Joseph, which puts Juggernaut in an awkward position.  Joseph explains why he is doing what he is doing and seems to try and recruit was is left of the X-Men to his side.  Yet in the end it doesn’t matter as Juggy says:

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Juggernaut seems to not want any problems with the X-Men and he tells them that he wants to help the Mutants out.  Joseph knows he is defeated and then continues with Villainous Monologue until we see a “swssh” across his neck and then his head fall off, so goodbye Joseph, hello Kwannon aka Nothing. 

I enjoyed the issue and I felt it did move the arc along a little faster than the previous issues.  It has set up a lot of questions and I hope we get to find the answer soon as we are six issues deep into this.  I enjoy the fact that it doesn’t really play off as Bad Guy vs Good Guy with the Brotherhood and X-men, but that both sides have expressed why they are doing their actions.  For once I can see the Brotherhood being right, I mean who wouldn’t fight this hard in the given situation.  When they were in the millions they had a hard enough time now that there is a handful of them they are really backed to the wall.  I can’t wait to see how this arc continues/concludes and next issue will definitely have lots to deal with from this fallout.  I give this issue 5 out of 5 Juggernauts and highly recommend this arc.  As always read on and Excelsior!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Green Lantern #6

A Review From Christopher Franey

Here we are a quarter of the way through the Morrison/Sharp era of Green Lantern adventures.  Of course this is based off of talks right now and the vision being that Grant Morrison will be doing two seasons, each season being 12 issues.  Liam Sharp is a master of the arts and delivers some beautiful pages in this latest issue.  So lets jump into the issue.
The issue tells us that we are on the planet Rann, which is a part of Sector 2814 (which I’m curious if this is a retcon or has always been so).  The BlackStars are about to take over Rann and also test Hal Jordan and see if he is worthy of being BlackStar Parallax.  His first mission is to kill Adam Strange, luckily Hal gets them to agree to a showdown.  

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So the BlackStars are representing MU and are threatening Rann with a Sun Eater that can only be stopped by the BlackStars, so join or Die!  To add to the drama the BlackStars have Rann’s champion and are going to have him showdown with Parallax.

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Sure enough after pleading and taking 10 paces we see Parallax shoot down Adam Strange, so Rann has no champion or hope.  Alanna does a great job of adding to Hal’s guilt and reminding him of his friendship and responsibility.  Luckily we know that Hal is a couple moves ahead.  We discover that the Rann culture doesn’t let anything or anyone go to waste, so the Department of Salvage will start harvesting Adam.  

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Now we finally meet Controller MU and he is very much the sinister looking alien that would be trying to create his own version of “Universal Harmony” under his thumb.  MU does recognize that the GL Power Ring is not cooperating.  Mu does want the information it holds but it will not respond, Hal does remind MU that the Guardians might’ve locked the ring since he did betray them.  The scene changes and we discover that Adam Strange is alive, so Hal isn’t totally evil like we’ve been led to believe.

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So now it is up to Adam to save Rann and his daughter Aleea from the BlackStars.  The scene shifts back to Hal and MU, with Hal reminding MU that he has done everything they have asked in order for him to become a BlackStar.  MU calls out Hal about joining the BlackStars to which Hal tries a play at being conflicted and not sure of which side he is on.

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MU decides to show his “absolute intent.”  He has a dream of no more police, armies, warriors, weapons, or rings…no more repetitions.  Just a universe of his own/creation and if he cannot have that then he will have annihilation.  MU is the ultimate Controller and is planning on using Aleea as a U-Bomb.  The U-Bomb will explode and all well be neutralized making Hal’s mission accomplished along with the annihilation MU wishes.  
Luckily the Strange family shows to rescue their daughter and help take down MU…but Hal is telling them to not shoot MU.  Sadly Alanna doesn’t hold back as she goes for the head shot, don’t mess with her or her family.  BlackStar Belzebeth does take the spotlight now and encourages Aleea to let the U-Bomb go off destroying everything.  

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This prompts the Guardians to break their cover and get Hal to disarm the U-Bomb so Hal uses his ring to do something (we will find out in an issue or two..?).  We see Rann is fine and safe, Adam and his family are all okay, but sadly Adam is called back to Earth, and I’m sure his last words are a clue to something for later issues as well.  We are left to believe that Hal has sacrificed himself to stop the U-Bomb, but then we see a ring in space with a planet inside it.  We see that Hal is there and talking to someone; it seems that Hal has some amnesia and is talking to someone by the name of Myrwhidden (check out wiki for more).

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So where does that ending leave us?  Well the character reminds me of Myrwhydden, so you’ll notice there is a different spelling with the y and i replacement.  The first time we meet Myrwhydden is in Green Lantern v2 issue 26 titled “The World Within the Power Ring!” so is that a clue or maybe an extension of the current story line?  I like how Grant Morrison has been mining Hal’s history and this issue’s ending looks towards the past, so I know I’ll be rereading GLv2 #26 and this issue again.  Liam Sharp’s art is just so much eye candy that you could lose yourself in it, which isn’t a bad thing.  This volume of Green Lantern has been great and I really love how it explores the “cop” side of Green Lanterns and their responsibilities.  This issue especially is a great ending and beginning to the overall story by Grant as we can see how these “cases” lead to each other.  So are the BlackStars done?  What will Myrwhidden do and is he realated to Myrwhydden?  I can’t wait for the next issue, so I rate this issue 5 out of 5 U-Bombs and recommend hitting the back issues to get the full story.  As always read on and Excelsior! 

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