Friday, August 26, 2016

Deriving Novelty from the Inane: Action Comics #962

The following is my review of Action Comics #962, which was posted on PopMatters.com.


When is it okay to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle? Is it even possible to accomplish without destroying the bottle and everything within a five-mile radius? That radius may be much wider when Superman is involved. It may also involve more than one bottle. It sounds confusing and it certainly is. It's a major reason why the events of DC: Rebirth are affecting Superman more than most, but not because of anything Doomsday or Lex Luthor are doing.

DC: Rebirth decides with little to no depth that the genie needs to go back in the bottle. Superman needs to go back to his pre-Flashpoint method of operation. That means every meaningful change from the New 52 has to be nullified, rendered meaningless and pointless in the grand scheme of things. It gives the impression that the narrative of Superman and Action Comics is inherently shallow. It's not that nothing really happens. It's that nothing can happen that has any lasting impact on Superman.

Dan Jurgens is tasked with crafting a meaningful story with this narrative in the first post-Rebirth arc of Action Comics. However, the meaning is often lost in the confusion of all the contrivances attempting to purge New 52 impacts and the all-too familiar clashes with Doomsday. It can't acknowledge that Superman fought Doomsday on multiple occasions during the New 52 era. It can't acknowledge any dramatic entanglements that may or may not have occurred in that era either. It doesn't just limit the story. It flat out ignores the context.

If there is a strength within this confusion, it's Jurgens' efforts to re-frame Superman's story as a husband and father. Action Comics #962 tries to use this strength to complete an arc that relies too much on contrivances and disaster porn. It isn't enough to circumvent the flaws that inevitably emerge when putting Superman back into the pre-Flashpoint bottle, but it does keep the story from falling flat.

Any battle involving Superman and Doomsday has to be destructive. It has to be epic. This is the creature that actually killed Superman at one point. It can't be ended by one punch or by some secret gadget in Batman's utility belt. There has to be destruction, danger, and desperation every step of the way. Jurgens definitely goes the extra distance in capturing these elements. Stephen Segovia's artwork goes just as far in capturing the visuals.

Things blow up. Mountains crumble. The laws of physics are strained in ways that would make Einstein cringe. The aesthetics are definitely there. They help distract from the fact that this is a battle we've seen before. It's a battle that doesn't bring anything that new to the table. Other than Superman having a wife and son, there isn't much in this battle that hasn't played out before. It feels slightly more novel than seeing Batman punch the Joker again, but not by much.

Beneath the aesthetics though, there are still flaws. There's still a sense that this story has to ignore, negate, or undermine the stories that came before it in order to function. The substance of a battle between Superman and Doomsday may check all the right boxes, but the circumstances of that battle have too many blanks and details have some distressing implications.

While the outcome of the battle is never in question, the effects it reveals along the way are telling. It basically pulls back the curtain and shows the actual process of putting Superman's various genies back in the bottle. The revelation of his secret identity is undermined. His romantic history with Wonder Woman is flat out ignored. Lex Luthor's efforts at being a superhero come into question in a way that's fairly predictable. Ignoring circumstances may work with the Joker, but it doesn't work with Superman.


There's little mystery. There's tension. The purpose and goal of this new era of Action Comics is clear even if it's stated indirectly. Superman is going back to the way he was before the Flashpoint reboot. The only difference now is that he has a kid. That may keep the story from feeling regressive, but it still comes off as contrived.

That said, Jurgens manages to make the most of Jon's presence. His personality and youthful charisma add some much-needed novelty to the story. He also creates an extra dimension of drama with Superman. Him being a family man on top of being a superhero helps add some new dynamics to battles that have played out before. He's able to make those dynamics work in Action Comics #962. Peter Parker would be wise to take note.


DC: Rebirth, as a concept, works because it doesn't try too hard to be edgy or modern anymore. After years of trying too hard to make every character more like Batman, this initiative attempts to re-focus on the basics. The approach works when it happens organically and naturally with the characters. With Action Comics and the Superman comics as a whole, there's too much force behind the effort. Superman defines himself by being careful with his vast powers. It's a lesson that DC Comics would be wise to heed.

In this case, putting the genie back in the bottle causes the bottle to crack and fracture. At the very least, Action Comics #962 keeps it from shattering completely. There are one too many predictable plot lines, but there are also new and interesting dynamics emerging within the story. It doesn't prevent some parts of that story from being inane at times, but it still finds a way capture the heart of what makes Superman so iconic.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

X-men Supreme Issue #140: Outer Limits Part 4 is LIVE!


As mutants, the X-men are a product of evolution. Being a product of evolution means adapting to new conditions. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series has forced them to adapt in a great many ways to say the least. First, they had to adapt to their identities being revealed to the public. Later, they adapted to an uprising on Genosha that created the first mutant nation. After that, they had to adapt to Magneto taking over Genosha, only to be driven mad by the Cambrian. The world of X-men Supreme is constantly changing, bringing new challenges and hardships. With Outer Limits, the X-men’s ability to adapt will be pushed even further.

This process began in X-men Supreme Issue 46: Paradise Mystery. It took a major step when Jean Grey gained the power of the Phoenix Force during the Phoenix Saga. Then, the stage was set after the Starcrossed arc when Lilandra Neramani learned of her alien heritage and took on a bold new role as leader of the rebellion against her tyrannical half-brother, D’ken. The cosmic elements of X-men Supreme push the X-men to adapt in some very profound ways. Now that they’re ready to attack D’ken, they can only hope that these ways are sufficient.

That said, not every aspect of this cosmic conflict is a daunting challenge. During the course of the Outer Limits arc, an ailing Charles Xavier caught up with his X-men once more. When this arc began, he was still recovering from a crippling addiction to pain pills that nearly got his X-men killed during their first battle against the Mutant Liberation Front. Now, thanks to Shi’ar technology, he is completely healed and can walk again. Make no mistake. This is a big change for the X-men and it will have lasting implications for X-men Supreme.

Throughout the history of the X-men comics, Charles Xavier’s paralysis has been a plot in constant flux. His physical limitations have historically been a big part of the X-men mythos. In recent years, that component fell to the wayside as he regained the use of his legs. For the past decade or so, his paralysis has become somewhat of an afterthought, even after his death. I always felt that this concept warranted greater exploration. So I intend to make a much bigger deal of it in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

However, before Charles Xavier and the X-men can confront these challenges, they must first confront D’ken. It won’t make a difference if Xavier can use his legs again if D’ken is able to tap the power of the M’krann Crystal. His intentions are as bold as they are horrific. He wants to manipulate the minds of every sentient creature in the universe and he’s willing to inflict unspeakable suffering on his own people in order to achieve this. As it stands, the X-men, Lilandra, the Starjammers, and their Shi’ar allies are their only hope of stopping him.

The time has come for the X-men to confront the tyrant that has plagued the Shi’ar for so long. Nothing less than every mind in the universe is at stake. It is as daunting a challenge as the X-men have ever faced. It is, without a doubt, the most important battle the X-men have faced to date in X-men Supreme. This is a battle that X-men fans will not want to miss. Expect a battle like no other as the X-men fight to save the collective minds of a universe.

X-men Supreme Issue 140: Outer Limits Part 4

This kind of cosmic battle brings out the best in X-men. It also presents unique challenges for X-men Supreme. The sci-fi elements of X-men require a different approach compared to those that focus on the human/mutant conflict. It’s a challenge, finding the right balance between all these elements. I want this fanfiction series to capture everything that makes the X-men mythos so awesome. That’s why it’s so vital that I continue to get feedback on my work. I know I say this with every issue, but I mean every word of it. The feedback I get helps make X-men Supreme more awesome. Either post your comments in the issue or contact me directly. I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!

Jack

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Extraordinary X-men #13: Nuff Said!

How fucked are you when your sanctuary is infested by demons? The answer to that question is the primary theme of Extraordinary X-men. Mutants go from having a large, peaceful protest in the middle of DC to being safer among demons than they are among humans. That's a whole new level of fucked that few things outside Japanese anime porn can match. They still blame Cyclops, but oddly ignore the fact that the Inhumans aren't doing jack shit about the big fucking fart cloud that's killing them. I'm guessing they know that demons are less menacing than Disney lawyers at this point.

As fucked as they are, there comes a point where setting up shop in a demon-infested realm is going to leave the X-men too fucked to function. They barely functioned enough to survive another trip to another dystopian future involving Apocalypse. How can they expect to survive in a domain where demons pop up more often than annoying cat videos? Extraordinary X-men #13 sets the stage for the X-men to get just a little more fucked. At this point, does it really matter? I'm hoping a non-sober mind like mine can make that determination.


That said, I think it's safe to assume that the mind of a demon-loving teenage girl isn't inherently sober. It's just not something anyone who values the integrity of their asshole to say out loud. To be fair, Magik has been more collected and coherent in recent months. Since befriending a fellow demon-lover in Sapna, she's kind of mellowed somewhat, albeit only to the extent that a demon-loving teenage girl can. I still think she needs some better weed, but it has made her less overtly evil compared to recent years. That or this is just the natural byproduct of not hanging out with Emma Frost quite as much.

The problem is that during Apocalypse Wars, Sapna disappears for reasons that aren't entirely clear to a non-sober mind. Since Magik isn't eager to hang out with Emma Frost again, she goes looking for her. She even finds a portal and Sapna's pet demon, Boogers. I'm usually reluctant to root for demon-loving teenage girls, but Jeff Lemire makes it pretty damn easy here. How can you not root for a girl a demon named Boogers? It's like rooting against breast implants and puppies.


While Magik is taking care of her personal shit, the rest of the X-men have their own shit to deal with. The aftermath of Apocalypse Wars actually has an impact here. Let me pause for a second to acknowledge why that's a big fucking deal. Keep in mind, the X-men are in this shit storm because they got massively screwed off-panel after Secret Wars. So the concept that the aftermath of a major event helps build the next story feels pretty damn novel when it really shouldn't. Yeah, that's where we are with X-men comics these days, but I digress.

Apocalypse Wars may be over, but Apocalypse still did some pretty nasty shit. He turned Colossus into a horseman and now he's missing. That lead the team to take the old, wrinkly version of Apocalypse from the 30th century back to the past in hopes that he'll help undo the shit he did to Colossus. Plus, they already have Old Man Logan on their team and he's worked out well. I guess they figure getting another grumpy old fuck from a future can only help. At a time when prominent X-men are either dead or time-displaced, I can't argue with that logic.


As they're looking for ways to make Apocalypse undo the shit he did to Colossus, Nightcrawler and Iceman are taking the more direct approach. They're out in the non-demon world that's dominated by racist xenophobic slave-owners and the Marvel Universe that supports them. They're looking for Colossus and they're focusing on Clan Akkaba, who have long had a boner for all things Apocalypse. They probably could enlist help from the Avengers, but they're probably busy sucking the dicks of every racist xenophobic slave owners on Attilan.

This ends up being a surprisingly heated fight, especially from Nightcrawler. He's still pretty fucked up after the first arc. He takes it out on Clan Akkaba here. Let's face it, there are far less healthy ways he could deal with his shit. Sure, Iceman keeps him from going full Wolverine berserker rage, but it's refreshing to see Nightcrawler kick some ass. It also is an indirect hint of sorts that he's not totally in line with Storm's way of doing things, which plays out in Civil War II. Again, for a team that gets fucked over off-panel a lot lately, this kind of coherence is pretty damn refreshing.


Kicking the asses of Apocalypse worshipers is entertaining enough. There are still some demon asses to kick as well. This is where Storm meets up with Magik to get in on the action. It even leads to a nice little moment of sorts where Storm makes clear that she's willing to help even the demon-loving members of her team. That's why she's so respected by X-men, Avengers, and Wakandan kings. Helping a fellow X-men search for their demon-loving protege? It probably beats hearing whiny teenagers bitch about the lack of wifi in Limbo.

She follows Magik into the portal she finds with Sapna's pet, Boogers. Having already ventured into an Apocalyptic future, jumping through demonic realms must seem downright boring. It makes for some great visuals. A bag of weed isn't even necessary to enjoy them, but it certainly doesn't hurt.


They eventually show up in an apocalyptic version of London, which I imagine isn't much different from how London is during rush hour these days. They don't find Sapna, but they do find a bunch of John Constantine wannabes and assorted demon creatures. Their first instinct, naturally, is to attack the beautiful women. Like angry Twitter trolls, they don't need a reason. They don't seem to know anything about Sapna, which kind of stalls the plot, but it means more Storm and Magik fighting demons. Who can't get behind that? Who, I ask?


We then find out there may be another reason why Storm decided to fight demons rather than stick around X-Haven. While fixing Cerebro and dealing with the injured students from Apocalypse Wars, Old Man Logan and Forge get into a heated dick-measuring contest. It doesn't involve demons or Apocalypse worshipers, but it's still pretty damn relevant.

Remember, these are two men who have either seen Storm naked or are inclined to want to see her naked. Storm did share a few meaningful moments with Old Man Logan earlier in this series. She has also made it clear that her panties are still quite dry around Forge. So these two do have a reason to resent each other. They don't say it outright, but it's pretty damn obvious. I would say it's petty, but we're talking about seeing Storm naked here. I'd say the stakes are pretty damn high. Does it contribute much to the story? Fuck no. Is it still entertaining and relevant? Fuck yes. So it balances out.


There are more relevant battles going on, although the stakes don't involve a naked Storm so their importance is debatable. Iceman and Nightcrawler attack another Clan Akkaba stronghold in Egypt. That goes about as well as a vacation to Afghanistan. The action here is a bit more muted. Then again, it doesn't involve who gets to see Storm naked, so that's to be expected. Nightcrawler doesn't get to go berserker this time, but only because they find some actual leads on Colossus. Not sure which is better for Nightcrawler's mental health, but it moves the story along.


It's a story that has a lot of moving pieces now. We've got Storm and Magik fighting demons in their search for Sapna. We have Nightcrawler and Iceman fighting Clan Akkaba in their search for Colossus. We have Forge and Old Man Logan wanting to strangle each other over who gets to see Storm naked. It's a little chaotic, but each fight has its own appeal. Like different flavors of vodka or different strands of weed, they each have something to offer. The X-men have always been good at providing a variety of awesome. It's just one of the many things that make them more appealing than any team of racist xenophobic slave-owners.


Another thing the X-men are good at providing, sometimes to an annoying degree, are ominous hints about shitty futures. Having just gotten back from one in Apocalypse Wars, that's the last thing the X-men need, other than more clones or time travelers. This time, however, the ominous hints are a bit more concise. It turns out Clan Akkaba read Apocalypse Wars too. They seem to be aware of the apocalyptic shit that's going to unfold. Some of that shit involves more dead X-men. So long as they get the dignity of dying on-panel, they can't be too disappointed. They sure as shit shouldn't be surprised either. Another apocalyptic future is basically just another Monday for the X-men these days.


So...is it awesome?

Well, there are some interesting and semi-interesting things going on here. There is a genuine aftermath to Apocalypse Wars and it isn't cast aside like a used condom in a whore house. That may not sound like much, but at a time when iconic characters killed killed off-panel, that's a bit more important these days. There are a few personal moments as well. Magik actually shows some emotion that doesn't just involve getting horny around demons. So that's a nice touch. Old Man Logan and Forge are on the brink of strangling each other over who gets to see Storm naked. That definitely has some entertainment value as well. Is it enough though?

Well, as most X-men fans can attest since Secret Wars, the bar is pretty fucking low right now. They're in a world where racist xenophobic slave-owners get preferential treatment. We can't expect X-men comics to be as thorough or as epic as they once were. If we get a story that's concise, diverse, and exciting, we need to embrace it. The fact that nobody else gets sterilized in this issue is a victory in and of itself. Extraordinary X-men #13 may only make your panties half-wet, but that's what we have to work with these days. When shit is this bleak, you make a shit sandwich and you enjoy it for what it is.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Requiem For The Green Goliath: Civil War II: The Fallen #1

The following is my review of Civil War II: The Fallen #1, which was posted on PopMatters.com.


What makes a defining moment so defining has little to do with the immediate impact it has on a story. That impact may be intense and memorable by every objective measure, but it's often just a prelude to the much larger conflicts that it inspires. Whether it's Doomsday killing Superman, the Joker crippling Barbara Gordon, or Tony Stark taking his first shot of tequila, these moments only become defining when that larger conflict takes shape.

Without question, the death of Bruce Banner is the defining moment for Civil War II. The impact of this moment creates the catalyst for the real meat of the story. After this moment, the lines are drawn, the divisions are set, and the hearts of Marvel's greatest heroes are pulled in opposite directions. It's the last straw for Tony Stark. It's that painful moment of clarity that only admitted alcoholics can appreciate.

There's no question that the death of the Hulk lit the match that ignited the powder keg that is Civil War II. However, in the midst of this raging inferno, it's easy to overlook the personal impact of the Hulk's death. Bruce Banner dies surrounded by friends and former teammates who knew him as more than just the oversized brute with anger-management issues.

That sentiment is understandably sidelined by the larger conflict in Civil War II, but Greg Pak and Mark Bagley attempt to explore that sentiment in Civil War II: The Fallen #1. That sentiment proves vital to delivering the dramatic impact of the Bruce Banner's death. It takes a step back from the legal, philosophical, and ethical debate surrounding proactive punishment and focuses solely on the emotions surrounding those closest to Hulk and Bruce Banner. There's nothing that'll overwhelm a message board here. There's just raw, genuine drama surrounding the death of a beloved friend.

There are no monster battles. There are no alien invasions. There are no homages to Bill Bixby walking solemnly down a highway. Civil War II: The Fallen #1 deals solely with the reactions among Bruce Banner's friends and family. Those reactions are not divorced from the larger context of Civil War II, but they are secondary. The primary focused here is the mixed legacy the Hulk leaves behind.


The bitter part of that mixture plays out at Bruce Banner's funeral. Whereas Bruce's friends and fellow heroes are on hand to honor his memory, there are plenty of protesters as well who still condemn the Hulk in death. This is an important context to include because it highlights the unique dimensions of the Hulk. It's a big part of what makes him unique among heroes. Plenty of heroes have green skin and big muscles. Few deal with the kinds of complications that the Hulk deals with, even when he isn't angry.

It's easy to forget that the Hulk's rampages can be pretty destructive. Given the enemies he deals with, his battles incur more collateral damage than most. In a world that includes shape-shifting aliens, uncontrollable mutant powers, and helicarrier that crash every other week, that's saying something. Unlike those destructive elements though, the Hulk is a singular face on which people can focus their blame. As any minority, real or fictional, can attest, it doesn't take much blame to inspire outrage.

Despite this outrage, Bruce Banner spends his life trying to make the Hulk a force for good. Those are the efforts that his friends and family honor. Throughout Civil War II: The Fallen #1, the darker parts of his legacy aren't ignored. Instead, they are seen in context, which isn't easy to do with a rampaging monster. It's a testament to Banner's efforts and it nicely highlights the sentiment of every character involved.

However, the funeral of Bruce Banner isn't what gives Civil War II: The Fallen #1 the bulk of its dramatic weight. It's the living will that Bruce shares with his friends and family after death that evoke the most emotion. It doesn't just involve his assets, his work, or his acknowledgement that his anger management skills had room for improvement. It involves creating a legacy that appropriately embodies the impact of the Hulk. Naturally, it has to do with anger.

It all comes back to anger and how to deal with it. For most people, including Hulk's own friends and family, dealing with anger doesn't result in the same consequences or collateral damage as him. As a result, he has to work harder than most. That means he has to master anger management techniques that cannot be found in self-help books or overpriced seminars. His efforts to share this mastery, as imperfect it may be, acts as his greatest legacy as the Hulk.

It's fitting in so many ways. How many problems in the real world and comic book world could be solved if people just managed their anger better? How many battles would that avoid? How many buildings would go un-smashed? It's the best legacy that Bruce Banner could've left. However, it resonates with some more than others.


As fitting and heartfelt as Bruce Banner's final testament may be, there are those who need more than better anger management skills. Amadeus Cho, who Pak is developing in Totally Awesome Hulk, does not take time to grieve like so many of Hulk's friends. For him, the sentiment in Civil War II: The Fallen #1 is hollow at best. He sees what happened to Bruce Banner as an injustice and that just makes him too angry.

Cho's reaction, as well as the reaction of others like General Ross, are somewhat muted at times. There are some inconsistencies in the narrative and with certain characterizations, but the underlying sentiment is spot on. The tone in Civil War II: The Fallen #1 is solemn, but appropriate. Pak and Bagley craft a fitting, heartfelt sendoff to the Green Goliath. For once, anger takes a back seat to a Hulk story and it works, creating far less collateral damage in the process.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, August 19, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue #140: Outer Limits Part 4 PREVIEW!


It’s another cosmic crisis in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. The Shi’ar, D’ken, Lilandra, the Phoenix Force, and the Starjammers are front and center. The X-men, as is often the case, are caught in the middle of some cosmic crossfire. This comes at a time when Charles Xavier is ailing, Jean Grey is undergoing more transformations with the Phoenix Force, and Cyclops just discovers that his father is still alive. It’s a lot for any crisis, let alone one with a cosmic scope. It’s hard enough when the X-men have to save a world that hates and fears them. Now, they have to save an entire universe.

Cosmic conflicts are a big part of the X-men’s mythos. Early on in X-men Supreme, I briefly debated on whether I should even bring in cosmic elements like the Shi’ar. That debate didn’t last long. I’ve been reading X-men comics long enough to understand that you can’t capture the full scope of X-men without these cosmic elements. It still took me a while to bring them into the picture. X-men Supreme Issue 46: Paradise Mystery was the first and now it seems so long ago. In Outer Limits, the X-men find themselves in the middle of an interstellar war with the Shi’ar and they’re tyrannical emperor, D’ken.

That war has already brought a lot of upheavals to the X-men. That’s to say nothing about the impact their unexpected space adventure had back on Earth. They left abruptly from Genosha, leaving General Grimshaw and Wanda Maximoff understandably upset and confused. They’ll have to deal with that situation eventually. First, they need to make sure the universe as they know it is still intact.

That’s easier said than done when Emperor D’ken seems intent on killing anyone and anything he has to in order to get what he wants. So what exactly does he want? Why is he butchering his own people? Why is he willing to accept help from someone like Mastermind? Well, there is a reason for that and it’s a reason you won’t find outside the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I don’t like villains that have no motivation or reason for their behavior. Whether it’s Magneto or Sinister or Cameron Hodge, I’ve always tried to create some context for these characters. With D’ken it’s no different, but it will be challenging.

D’ken is one of those X-men characters that never got a lot of depth. For the most part, he was just a villain that gave the X-men a cosmic level threat to deal with. He’s definitely a cosmic level threat in this fanfiction series, but for very different reasons. The comics and cartoons can only do so much. X-men Supreme can do more. I want to do more. That’s how I intend to make this fanfiction series awesome. It goes beyond his rivalry with Lilandra or the power of the Phoenix Force. There’s a bigger story at work here and it’s going to be an important component of the Outer Limits arc. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should give a hint as to just how big this story is going to be.

“We’re here, D’ken! I hope you’re as pissed as I am!” yelled a determined Corsair.

“For heaven’s sake, at least try and keep it steady!” shouted Lilandra from the passenger area, “Let’s not do my brother any favors!”

“Sorry Empress, but not this time. If this is D’ken’s endgame, I’m not about to play it safe.”

“Oye, as if my dream of being an astronaut wasn’t tainted enough,” groaned Iceman.

The Starjammer arrived in hostile surroundings just like before. Having been transported to the Shi’ar home world by the Phoenix Force, they caught the Imperial Forces completely by surprise. The massive presence of the Phoenix Force was enough to strike fear even in D’ken’s most hardened forces. Their planetary defenses weren’t even online when Squadron XB-7 began their attack on the palace.

Once they arrived, it didn’t take long for the Imperial Defense Force to strike back. The system was already on high alert. When they arrived over Chandilar, they passed by a series of patrol crafts. Corsair wasted no time taking them out with the ship’s lasers. A number of them broke off and started evasive attacks. Corsair quickly maneuvered the Starjammer around to get a better angle. This caused plenty of discomfort within the ship. It also scrambled the interceptors so that Squadron XB-7 could start taking them out.

“May the strength of the Shi’ar guide our wings!”

This was the primary battle cry that echoed through the Starjammer’s communication systems. Professor Xavier and Beast monitored the attack from a holographic computer located in front of their seats. It showed their position in relation to the rest of the imperial forces. The level of danger was painfully apparent. They were surrounded by a vast armada that guarded both the planet and the moon.

“The attack has begun,” said Xavier, “We’ve achieved the element of surprise.”

“This D’ken guy sounds pretty nasty, but even he can’t account for us having a cosmic bird on our side,” commented Iceman.

“It is a limited, yet vital advantage,” said Beast as he zoomed in on the image of the palace, “The imperial defense forces have picked up on the attack. They’re diverting their attention to the palace as we speak.”

“That means we’ve gained the necessary distraction as well,” said Xavier, “Now we can go after D’ken and the crystal.”

“You mean he’s not on the planet?” said Storm.

“No. Only the dimensional reactors and the primary antenna are on Chandilar,” said Xavier, “D’ken and the M’krann Crystal are on the moon, Chandilar-2.”

“Are you sure of this, Professor?” asked Colossus.

“He’s sure, Colossus. So am I,” said Phoenix, still radiating with white flames.

“I can feel the crystal. It’s entering a critical stage.”

“That means we’re ready to proceed with the next step,” said the Professor as he turned towards the flight deck, “Corsair, pull away from the attack and steady the ship!”

“Damn…just when I was settling in!” said the grizzled pilot.

Corsair gripped the controls and turned the Starjammer around, leaving Squadron XB-7 to take care of the remaining interceptors. They kept attacking the palace, allowing them to slip away from the battle for a moment. Once they were free of enemy fire, the ship leveled off and allowed the X-men to get out of their seats.

As the team got ready for the next phase of this bold mission, Xavier turned his attention to Lilandra. Beast stayed close as well. This was where faith factored into the plan. They each had to believe that they were going to make it through this.

“This is where we part ways, Lilandra,” said Xavier, “Now you’re certain the palace contains this family heirloom you told me about?”

“It was one of the main objectives of our first raid. I know it’s there. Freeing the Starjammers along with D’ken’s many prisoners will help,” assured Lilandra, “Now quit talking as if I’m the one with the harder job.”

“We all have our roles to play. If I could have it another way, we would defeat D’ken together,” he told her.

“It doesn’t matter who brings my brother down. So long as we end this war, I’ll settle for a secondary role. Just be sure you give D’ken my solemn regards.”

“I’ll be sure he gets the message,” Xavier promised, “To aid you in your mission, Beast will stay behind. He is familiar with Shi’ar technology and will utilize the Warlock components we obtained from Genosha. That should make your infiltration into the palace much easier.”

“I’ve put together some creative configurations with help from your fellow scientists. I think they’ll give D’ken’s forces substantial headaches,” said Beast, who had a special handheld computer with Warlock engravings.

“Breaking into the palace isn’t what concerns me. Even after our first attempt failed so miserably,” said Lilandra distantly, “As much as I want this conflict to end, I also want you and your students to come out of it in once piece. Promise me you’ll still be fighting when we rendezvous later on.”

“I promise,” he said with a loving gesture to reinforce his point, “I’ve let my limitations hurt those I love one too many times. I will make this right…for both of us.”

“Then there’s nothing less for me to say other than…be careful.”


Whether the conflicts are cosmic or local in scale, I’m still determined to make every clash in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series as epic as it can be. At a time when the X-men comics are only giving us sterilization and extinction plots, I think it’s important to ensure that X-men Supreme offers something different and not just a series where Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Charles Xavier are alive and no one is time displaced. I want it to stand out for all the right reasons in all the right ways. That’s why it’s so critical that I continue to get feedback for this fanfiction series. Any amount will help, but I can’t make X-men Supreme as awesome as I want to be without support. So please take the time to contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and both ways help. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!

Jack