Friday, December 9, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 145: Proactive Regression Part 3 is LIVE!


Throughout the history of X-men Supreme, and the X-men comics in general, there are a number of decisions that always seem to haunt the X-men. In the comics, Jean Grey’s sacrifice during the events of the Phoenix Saga, Cyclops’ decision to form X-Force, and Charles Xavier faking his death to undermine his students’ trust comes to mind. Hard decisions are a bit part of the X-men mythos in general. In X-men Supreme, there have been more than a few such decisions.

Some have been fairly recent in X-men Supreme and the effects haven’t yet set in. One decision that is already having tangible consequences in this fanfiction series came from the Phoenix Force during the Outer Limits arc. In the final battle with D’ken, the Phoenix made a powerful sacrifice that greatly reduced its power levels, so much so that Jean Grey can barely feel it anymore. It’s one of those decisions that had to be made under the harshest of circumstances. Jean has already been agonizing over it in the Proactive Regression arc. The events surrounding it have only given her more reasons.

The Phoenix Force’s fateful decision means the X-men were somewhat under-powered when they entered their latest conflict with the Brotherhood of Mutants on Genosha. While the X-men have dealt with being undermanned and underpowered before in X-men Supreme, going all the way back to the Uprising and the Cambrian Explosion arc, they’ve never needed extra firepower more than they do now. X-men Supreme is on the cusp of a huge upheaval, one that will strain the X-men in ways they’ve yet to endure in this fanfiction series. It won’t involve clones or time travel, but the impact will be huge. It’ll affect the X-men, their allies, and even their enemies.

At the center of this upheaval in X-men Supreme is the Brotherhood of Mutants. While the X-men are set to make some difficult decisions, it’ll be the decisions of the Brotherhood that will trigger this upheaval. The side-effects Outer Limits arc pushed them to the brink. Havok and the Scarlet Witch are no longer willing to be diplomatic. They’ve been subject to one too many agendas from President Kelly, the Shi’ar, and the Mutant Liberation Front. The Natural Disorder arc had one of their own members, Avalanche, betray them and it cost them the life of Polaris. That means the conflict in Proactive Regression is personal in ways the X-men can’t get around.

Now, with the threat of a nuclear and a revitalized Mutant Liberation Front, the Brotherhood and the X-men will have some hard decisions to make. Those decisions are going to set the course for X-men Supreme moving forward. Make no mistake. Plenty of those decisions will come back to bite the X-men, the Brotherhood, and everyone in between. That makes the final issue of the Proactive Regression arc something that is not to be missed. The future of X-men Supreme, and the upheavals to come, begin here.

X-men Supreme Issue 145: Proactive Regression Part 3

Hard decisions and big consequences are a hallmark of X-men. They’re a big part of what defines the X-men mythos as a whole. It’s part of what makes the X-men so compelling. It’s one of the many features I’ve tried to incorporate into X-men Supreme. Given all the difficult decisions the X-men have made in the comics recently, going all the way back to Avengers vs. X-men, I feel it’s only fitting they face similar choices in X-men Supreme.

I sincerely hope that these choices bring out the best in this fanfiction series. I mean it when I say I want X-men Supreme to be as awesome as it possibly can. That’s why I encourage everyone to provide feedback for this fanfiction series at every turn, especially during critical moments like this. The events of this issue will have major ramifications in the near and distant future so please take the time to review. I want to know how X-men fans feel about these difficult decisions. Either post them directly in the issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!

Jack

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Uber-Brutal Alternative History: Uber Invasion #1

The following is my review of Uber Invasion #1, which was posted on PopMatters.com.


The concept of alternative history is a cottage industry of sorts that has a unique, albeit contentious appeal. It's often presented in the form of a compelling, potentially plausible "What If" scenario that paints our current history as series of miraculous events that are never more than a casual whim from deviation.

By far, the most popular scenarios of alternative history narratives take place in World War II. It is to alternative history what orphaned princesses are to Disney movies. Most of these narratives boil down to the idea that if Hitler had done this or that, then the Nazis would've won the war and the entire western world would begin its day with a mandatory salute to the Nazi flag. These narratives are extremely simplistic, often taken extreme liberties with known historical fact.

This is exactly why Kieron Gillen's narrative in Uber is so compelling, but in a very different way compared to traditional alternate history stories. Gillen does not try to twist or contort historical facts to fit a scenario. He doesn't try to make an argument that history needed a few tweaks to become radically different. Instead, he crafts vast, refined scenario built around the premise of Nazi's creating superpowered soldiers.

It's a scenario that we've seen before in multiple Captain America movies, but Gillen takes it in a very different direction. There's no Captain America. There's no Red Skull either. Instead, there's a complete re-imagining of World War II, but with the added theatrics of superpowers. Those powers completely reshape the narrative at the end of the war in 1945 in the first Uber series. Now, with Uber Invasion #1, Kieron Gillen raises the stakes and the payoff is both astonishing and ominous.

The situation, as described by Henry Stimson to President Harry Truman, is pretty grim. The Nazis have a new arsenal of superpowered soldiers capable of burning cities to the ground, annihilating entire armies, and spreading the kind of brutality that would make any dedicated Nazi smile. The American arsenal, as vast and resourceful it is, has nothing like this and that puts them at an extreme disadvantage. It's a situation that America is not used to being in, even today.


Gillen doesn't change the logistics of World War II, something Captain America movies and Call of Duty video games tend to do to an excessive degree. America is still an economic powerhouse that produces enough planes to blot out the sun over Axis-occupied countries. However, Gillen doesn't obscure the situation with the kind of ideals that dominate every 1940s-era newsreel. True to Uber's legacy, there's a powerful emphasis on the brutality and devastation of war.

This gives Uber Invasion #1's its greatest strength as a narrative. The brutality and devastation is not sanitized, censored, or twisted. The blood, the destruction, and the terror all unfolds in graphic detail, benefiting considerably from Daniel Gete's art. It creates a powerful impact, one that is very different from other narratives surrounding World War II. This is not the kind of impact that evokes patriotism or parades. It's the kind that exposes the horror and brutality of war.

That impact doesn't just focus on the American side of things either. The Uber narrative never takes a side. There's never a sense that this is a story from the perspective of the Allies or the Axis. Both get a chance to assess the events, respond to them, and form a strategy for the future. No side is overly glorified as the hero and no side is overly vilified as the villain. In a story about real-life Nazis, that in and of itself is an accomplishment.

This isn't an underdog story. There aren't any inspiring speeches by General Patton or evil gloating from Adolf Hitler. Uber Invasion #1 is a story about the brutality of war. That brutality is only amplified, intensified, and expanded with the aid of superpowered soldiers. In some respects, the use of superpowers is secondary, but it is still very much the catalyst for the added brutality.

This brutal, visceral brand of alternative history began immediately in Uber #1 when superpowered Nazi soldiers entered the picture. Uber Invasion #1 reflects the inevitable progression of that history, taking the brutality to the shores of America. Gillen dedicates the bulk of the first round of Uber to crafting a narrative around how superpowered Nazi soldiers change, decimate, and destroy the history we know in Europe. In the second round, he enters a period point in history that goes beyond anything old newsreels and documentaries ever explored.

One of the many defining circumstances of World War II is how America avoids much of the destruction unleashed upon Europe. The impact of this circumstance is hard to overstate and Uber Invasion #1 goes out of its way to highlight that. In this conflict, America never feels the brutality and destruction that Europe suffers. It never experiences the true horror of war on its own soil. Gillen and Gete bring that experience to America in this story and gives it just the right impact.


The true extent of that impact manifests in a very brutal, albeit very theatrical way in the end. For all the exposition that helps establish the situation in Uber Invasion #1, it still finds a way to inject the brutality in just the right places in just the right ways. There are any number of stories where America gets invaded by Nazis, aliens, and crap monsters. This invasion, however, feels different. Again, there's no Captain America or Chuck Norris to save the day. There's just the harsh brutality of war.

Uber Invasion #1 stands out in so many ways, both in terms of impact and narrative. At times, it tries too hard to be a jumping-on point for those who didn't read the first series. The amount of exposition does start to drag in some areas, but it never derails the story or takes away from the impact.

In the end, Uber Invasion #1 is a different kind of alternative history. It's a different kind of World War II story. It's different for all the right reasons and those reasons manifest in all the right ways. This is not a story that anyone, be they Nazi or American, would dare use as war propaganda. In many respects, though, that makes the impact all the more profound.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 2, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 145: Proactive Regression Part 3 PREVIEW!


I hope everyone had a fun, filling Thanksgiving holiday because you’re going to need your appetite for X-men Supreme. This fanfiction series is nearing the world-shaking conclusion of X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. The world of X-men has been significantly upended in the recent X-men comics with the death of Cyclops and the ongoing war with the Inhumans. Well, X-men Supreme is not going to resort to killing characters or warring with other heroes. Instead, this fanfiction series will upend the X-men in a very different way.

The X-men are still trying to undo the damage they did after they left the planet during the Outer Limits arc. They were gone for six weeks. In that time, Havok took on a greater leadership role in the Brotherhood of Mutants and the Mutant Liberation Front reared its ugly head again, thanks to Stryfe. This time, President Kelly and General Grimshaw are not willing to wait for the X-men to save the day. After all the damage the Mutant Liberation Front did under Toad, especially after the near-catastrophe they faced in the Natural Disorder arc, they’re prepared to resort to extremes.

The X-men are trying to do their part to stop this madness and preserve some semblance of peace, but they’re already facing major obstacles. Charles Xavier may have his legs back, thanks to the Shi’ar in the Outer Limits arc, but he’ll need more than his legs this time. He boldly, and foolishly, led a team of X-men to Genosha in hopes of talking sense into Havok and the Scarlet Witch. They were met with a cold, hostile welcome to say the least. The Brotherhood of Mutants have tried to work with Charles Xavier before. Their capacity to trust him and his X-men at this point is limited at best.

Moreover, they have good reasons not to trust the X-men. The X-men were the ones that encouraged Genosha to work with General Grimshaw and President Kelly. They helped foster a fragile peace in wake of Magneto’s hostile actions during the Cambrian Explosion and the Time Bomb arc. For a time, this peace worked. Under the Scarlet Witch’s leadership, Genosha used its alien Warlock technology as an economic bargaining chip to maintain peace. Then, a good chunk of that technology got destroyed thanks to the Starjammers in the Outer Limits arc.

Now, the peace is broken. There are no incentives for Genosha to get along with the rest of the world. President Kelly has no incentive to be reasonable with Genosha either. On top of it all, the Mutant Liberation Front is ready to shove both sides into a state of human/mutant war. They’ve hijacked a nuclear submarine, complete with nuclear weapons, and Stryfe is ready to use it. Somehow, Charles Xavier and his X-men need to find a way to stop this madness before it’s too late. The odds are against them, but the X-men do have a few tricks up their sleeve, as the conclusion to the Proactive Regression arc will reveal. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should offer some tantalizing clues to that world-shaking conclusion.

“That’s enough, Xavier. You had your chance. They’re not buying it,” he said flatly.

“They were never even given a chance!” retorted Xavier, “I trusted you to be reasonable, Alex. I don’t think you even tried. Losing Lorna has left you an empty shell.”

“Don’t you dare bring her into this! You don’t understand! You never did!”

“I understand better than you think. That’s how I know you’re making the wrong decision. Even without my telepathy, I can see that you’ve lost all hope and your people will suffer because it.”

The Professor’s words struck deep. Havok’s expression tensed as he hid the pain and anger dwelling within. He was a bit rough with Xavier as he shoved him down the stairs from the stage. He was even rougher when he reached the ring of fire that surrounded his X-men. He forced Xavier onto his knees and stood over him. The rest of the Brotherhood joined him as he stood in triumph over the X-men.

“It doesn’t matter what you think of us, X-men,” said Havok sternly, “We gave you a chance to state your case and you blew it.”

“Some chance,” scoffed Cyclops, “You were never going to listen. You probably rehearsed this scenario at least a hundred times.”

“Shut up, brother! You don’t get to pass judgment this time!” spat Havok.

“Face it, Professor Xavier. Your methods are obsolete. The world changed too much while you were gone,” said the Scarlet Witch, “Now the Brotherhood will be the one to make decisions for our kind. Not the X-men.”

“Lucky for you, we’re not without mercy,” said Havok, “Since you’ll be on our turf when the bombs start going off, we’ll give you shelter. You’ll stay with us under a Warlock bunker and witness the beginning of a new fight.”

“I’d rather be locked in a cell with Toad and no air freshener,” said Iceman.

“I don’t care what you’d rather do! This is bigger than the X-men or the Brotherhood. This is a turning point for every mutant on this planet. Since you can’t fight, you’re going to be witnesses. You and everyone else that thought they could fight our battles for us!”

There was burning intent in the tone of Alex Summers. He put the X-men in the same position he had been in all his life. He made it so they had no power to decide their fate. He and the Brotherhood were prepared to drag them into the bunkers if they had to. This time, they would see just how wrong they were.

Just as the Brotherhood seemed ready to serve Xavier his ultimate humiliation, a strange shadow passed over them from above. Before they could look up, a series of metal blades reigned down and struck in the area between Havok and the Professor.

“Hey Brotherhood! Ready for a little air mail?” said the angry voice of Angel.

“I’m assuming you sods did something to piss me off so we can skip the small talk!” said an equally angry Psylocke, who was riding with Angel in his arms.

The Brotherhood was caught completely off guard. Angel swooped down at them at high speeds, leading with his metal wings and using them to ram Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. This sent them tumbling through the dirt, rendering them stunned. Psylocke rolled off as well, landing right behind Pyro and using her psionic blades to sever the fuel lines in his flame thrower. This caused the flames encircling Professor Xavier and the X-men to fade.

“Crikey! Please tell me we prepared for this!” exclaimed Pyro as his flames sputtered out.

“The X-men pulling a few dirty tricks? Isn’t that given?” said Havok, his frustration boiling over.

“Trust me! You’ve never seen a trick like this!” grinned Angel.

Havok tried to fire off an energy burst to take down Angel before he flew around for another attack. His aim was dead on, but he did not expect Angel to counter it so effectively. Using his wings as a shield, he was able to fully deflect the incoming blast. He directed it right towards Quentin Quere, who was preparing for a telepathic attack.

“I swear your brain will-AUGH!” was all Quentin got out before he was hit.

“Ooh, that’ll give him a hell of headache!” grinned Shadowcat.

“Angel. you couldn’t have picked a better time to dust off the old uniform,” said a jubilant Iceman as he and the others emerged from the dying flames.

“I see you worked some metal into your new attire as well,” commented Colossus.

“What? You think you’re the only one who can use metal to kick ass?” he said with newfound confidence.

Angel flew in lower again, causing Havok to stumble back as he fired another round of energy blasts. This gave Psylocke the room she needed to move in use her psionic blades to skillfully slice off the power-inhibiting collars. She started with Professor Xavier, knowing that having the world’s most powerful psychic back at full strength would be a major advantage. Blob seemed to understand this as well and tried to attack.

“Oh no you don’t! You’re not weaseling out of this, X-men!” roared Blob as he charged the two psychics.

“Professor, do you mind?” said Psylocke dryly, “I can smell his breath from here.”

“Now that their psychic is down, this will be considerably easier,” said the Professor.


I know these past few weeks have been hard on X-men fans. Between the events of Death of X and Inhumans vs. X-men, I understand a lot of X-men fans are upset or anxious about the future of the X-men. Well, it’s during these anxious times that I sincerely hope that the X-men Supreme fanfiction series can provide a reprieve of sorts. I want X-men Supreme to be an outlet for X-men fans that want a world where the X-men aren’t killing too many characters off-panel or resorting to time travel to fill the void. I want X-men Supreme to be a simple outlet of quality X-men stories for X-men fans of all types to enjoy.

To ensure that quality, it’s very important that I continue to get feedback. So please take the time to tell me what you think of X-men Supreme and help me make it as awesome as it deserves to be. Either post your comments directly in the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!

Jack

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Setting Up An Ominous (And Overdue) Conflict: Inhumans vs. X-men #0

The following is my review of Inhumans vs. X-men #0, which was posted on PopMatters.com.


Some epic struggles need no setup or backstory. If the story involves a knight and a dragon, then it's usually fairly clear who must be slayed and who is doing the slaying. There is certainly a need to establish the setting for such a struggle. Sometimes that setting is as big a part of the story as the proverbial dragon-slaying. When it comes to the X-men and the Inhumans, the setting for a conflict is basically a formality at this point.

This is a setup that doesn't need to be belabored. The events of Death of X, as well as the various events that unfolded in the pages of Extraordinary X-men and Uncanny X-men, make it abundantly clear that these two teams are going to try and kill each other at some point. It's just a matter of when, where, in what circumstances, and how unbalanced it's going to be.

Since the conclusion of Secret Wars, the tension between the X-men and Inhumans is anything but balanced. Once side has the benefit of movie rights and an ongoing TV show. The other side's movie rights are being held hostage by a rival company who managed to help Josh Trank ruin his directing career. Logistically speaking, there's no way this conflict can ever be balanced.

Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule have an impossible task with the Inhumans vs. X-men event. With Inhumans vs. X-men #0, they can at least put the pieces in place on the proverbial chessboard. The first shot isn't fired. The first ultimatum isn't issued. Nobody from the X-men or Inhumans even starts trash talking one another on social media. However, the story makes clear that these two teams are on a collision course and Emma Frost has her foot on the gas petal.

In essence, Inhumans vs. X-men #0 is both a setup issue for a larger conflict and an Emma Frost story. It acts as a continuation of the events that unfolded in Death of X. In wake of Cyclops' death, she is the one who carries on the fight that he began. However, this is not one of those conflicts where a few extra hours in the Danger Room and a few team-ups with Deadpool can will equip the X-men for the coming battle.


Emma Frost doesn't try to be Cyclops in this story. She's going to fight his battles, but she's going to do it her way. That means using her wit, her cunning, and her willingness to do immoral things for moral reasons. It's what makes her the White Queen. It's what makes her a dangerous enemy and a questionable ally. Most importantly, though, it helps add some level of balance to the coming conflict.

It's still not balanced by any objective measure, but Emma Frost navigates this narrative in a manner that makes clear this won't be a simple shouting match between Storm and Medusa. This won't be a battle that Black Bolt can end just by whispering either. She gathers allies, makes deals with shady characters, and even trains herself to be ready in case her cunning and deceit just isn't enough. In the grand scheme of things, Emma Frost is the only one in the X-men who is actually prepared for a battle with the Inhumans.

Her story in Inhumans vs. X-men #0 carries the bulk of the dramatic weight and provides most of the substance. The role of the other characters involved, however, aren't quite as engaging. If anything, they reinforce the ongoing imbalance between the X-men and the Inhumans. It gives the ominous impression that one side still has way too many advantages for this to be a fair fight.

Throughout the narrative, the Inhumans carry themselves with an aura of selfish arrogance. They seem less concerned about helping an entire population of innocent mutants and more concerned about the possibility that they might have to fight a larger war with the X-men. They give the impression that they're more worried about being inconvenienced than saving lives. Even without the inherent imbalance between the two sides, it's hard to root for the Inhumans, given how they conduct themselves.

That's not to say the X-men are any easier to root for. Other than Emma Frost, Beast plays a major role in setting up the conflict, albeit indirectly. He's the only other character besides Emma who contributes to the drama, but his story is far less effective. His efforts to work with the Inhumans to resolve this conflict without violence are entirely noble in terms of intentions. Those intentions, however, clash with the unforgiving imbalance between the two sides. He's not the only one realizes that either.


Medusa, the current ruler of the Inhumans, goes so far as to adopt some of Emma Frost's tactics. She also understands that a conflict between the Inhumans and X-men is inevitable and that concerns her far more than any suffering the Terrigen Mists are inflicting. Even if her intentions are ethically suspect, her understanding of the situation is every bit as pragmatic as Emma's. Whether or not she can be as cunning as the former White Queen remains to be seen, but it definitely adds some intrigue to the coming conflict.

Inhumans vs. X-men #0 does succeed, albeit in a limited capacity, in creating some compelling stakes for the coming conflict. Both sides are preparing. Neither side wants to be caught off-guard. However, the issues that manifested in Death of X remain.

There are still inconsistencies between the events surrounding this conflict and the events that have unfolded in other X-books since Secret Wars. The strange and unwarranted hatred of Cyclops that seemed to fuel the X-men's narrative remains unexplained, which makes the conflict and the setup surrounding it feel incomplete and lacking in context.

In addition, characters not named Emma Frost do little to stand out. As a result, the impact of Inhumans vs. X-men #0 doesn't offer anything novel or groundbreaking. It just reinforces the inevitability and imbalance of a clash between the X-men and the Inhumans. One is poised to thrive. One is poised to die. One has Marvel's unconditional support with movie rights. One remains stuck under the thumb of Rupert Murdoch. At this point, it a sentiment that need not be reinforced.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Incomplete Moments With Shallow Revelations: Death of X #4

The following is my review of Death of X #4, which was posted on PopMatters.com.


If a fight is rigged and rigged well, then it's usually hard to tell which side has the advantage. Those fights can be quite entertaining, as the success of WWE wrestling routinely demonstrates.  When the rigging is too obvious though, the entertainment value suffers. It's just not very fun or interesting when it's easy to tell who is getting an extra shot of Hulk blood on the side.

This is the biggest flaw in the Death of X narrative. It isn't a passionate disagreement between Iron Man and Captain America over methods for administering justice. It's a cage match between one side that has the unconditional backing of Disney's lawyers and another that remains under the boot of a rival company. The X-men and the Inhumans are not on a level playing field and haven't been since Marvel Studios began churning out billion-dollar blockbusters on a regular basis.

This means there's little to no suspense in the outcome of Death of X #4. It's a foregone conclusion that the X-men will lose, the Inhumans will come out on top, and the lawyers negotiating movie rights will keep getting billed by the hour. It gives Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire a poor foundation to build on, but it's a foundation that can still fill in some unresolved issues. They just have to build carefully because they don't want to give the X-men more reasons to resort to clones and time travel.

There's a genuine effort to extract every ounce of drama from this final issue, but there's not much worth extracting here. There's a distinct absence of detail and polish to the overall story. It does not complete the narrative that began in the first issue, nor does it fill in the blanks left by the various X-men titles that spun out of Secret Wars. There is some intrigue. There are some heated, passionate moments. It doesn't fall flat, but it does feel distinctly incomplete.

If there is a defining moment in Death of X #4, it manifests during the confrontation between Cyclops and the Inhumans royal family. This moment feels very much like a trailer of sorts, complete with ominous warnings and angry pleas. The trailer may lack the star power of Hugh Jackman or Sir Patrick Stewart, but it effectively ensures that there will be a war between the Inhumans and the X-men. It's not just inevitable at this point. It's overdue.


While this moment is vital in giving Death of X #4 the necessary impact, it's pretty much the only moment that's memorable or impactful in any way. Every other moment throughout the narrative is either lacking in substance or devoid of style. There's little else in terms of drama. None of that drama feels like an emotional gut punch either. For a comic where a major character dies, that's pretty telling.

It's also the most frustrating aspect about Death of X #4 and the X-men comics as a whole since Secret Wars. The lack of drama and the lack of details ensures this story adds little context to the overall narrative surrounding the X-men. Much of that narrative is crafted around this idea that Cyclops did something so horrific and so despicable that it would make James Marsden violently ill if someone said it out loud. That idea, however, becomes exceedingly complicated here.

It's not just because Soule and Lemire try to throw in a twist at the end that effectively ensures that Cyclops can die with some credibility intact. It's also because the sequence of events that unfold throughout Death of X do little to warrant such an idea. There's no overt atrocity here. Cyclops doesn't suddenly become Thanos, Victor Von Doom, or whoever canceled the last X-men cartoon. He does what he and the X-men always do and tries to protect innocent mutants.

Now this does draw the ire of the Inhuman royal family for reasons that are understandable, albeit petty. However, it's worth emphasizing here that what Cyclops does, be it overt or indirect, can't qualify as an atrocity. He doesn't kill anyone. He doesn't destroy anything. He doesn't even make a joke about Medusa's hair. There really is nothing here that warrants the hatred and disdain that is so prominent in the current X-men comics.

If there are any unforeseen consequences to Cyclops' actions, they aren't revealed. They aren't even hinted at. What Cyclops does simply prevents a cloud of Terrigen Mist from descending upon a populated area and killing every innocent mutant in its path. No human or Inhuman dies as a result. In fact, only one other person dies and that person dies willingly in a heroic sacrifice that the Inhuman royal family tried to prevent.


In terms of a balanced, albeit rigged, conflict, the entertainment value really suffers here. Death of X does little to create even the illusion of balance between mutants and Inhumans. If anything, it only shows that the Inhuman royal family is disturbingly comfortable letting an entire minority suffer horribly so their race can propagate. While Cyclops did make clear to them that he was just as comfortable letting the Inhumans stagnate, there's little effort to have a passionate, balanced discussion.

In terms of the bigger picture surrounding the X-men/Inhuman conflict, Death of X #4 has too many blanks to fill and not nearly enough ink to make a concerted effort. It does what it can, but not much else. There is a sense of rhythm and flow to the narrative. It never becomes too chaotic and it avoids completely denigrating certain characters, although there will likely be a certain segment of fans that will passionately disagree on message boards. There is a sense that this story is part of a much larger narrative that has yet to unfold.

Death of X #4 doesn't read like the end of an event so it's not going to check every box before the final page. While it manages to be coherent and revealing in some respects, it still comes off as woefully incomplete. If it were a school project, it couldn't be adequately graded because it doesn't present a finished product. This may be okay for a movie trailer, but for a complete story that kills off one of the most iconic X-men in history, it's not even close to being enough.

Final Score: 4 out of 10