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Every so often, I take the comics I read in a given week and sort them into two stacks. In one stack are those that have a cover decently expressive of the interior. In the other are those that say little to nothing or are misleading.

This week, I review Astonishing X-Men #25 as a bonus!

American Dream #5–The mini series comes to climactic finish and can you guess the focus? American Dream versus a giant crystal monster! Sure, they don’t burst through the ground and fight above the city. The conflict is the draw and it happens to be the final one in the issue. Comics from the week of Independence Day and this one makes it in the first stack. Kinda cool.

(not full cover)

Astonishing X-Men #25–Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi pick up the X-Men after the events of “Messiah Complex”. The X-Men have moved to San Francisco and are still trying to figure out their new method of operation (which readers can figure out if they read the recap page at the front). Due to this, and probably the likelihood of people buying the title simply because of a change in creative team, Ellis spends the first half of the comic introducing us to the characters, their relation to each other, their respective roles on the team, and how they’re adjusting to San Francisco life. My only complaint here is that nearly everyone is funny, even when they don’t seem like they’re supposed to be (such as Storm describing how she got permission to be on the team).

Bianchi’s art is decent, and the odd layouts work well enough. However, there are no real dynamic sequences for him to draw. The art works well for this issue, but can Bianchi handle a more action-packed issue?

There are clever concepts (such as the secret of Chaparanga Bay) and nods to continuity. But as character issues go, since that is essentially what this it, it’s nothing exceptional. I give it a 3:5. And, no, the cover doesn’t make the first stack.

Batman #678–The cover shows Batman standing in the city underneath a psychedelic light. It probably is meant to show that Batman is somewhat insane inside, which he might be. The cover is a bit symbolic that way. However, there are other important aspects and, well, that thing on the cover looks to me like an attack from above more than it does psychosis. Close, but not quite.

Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam! #1–Here, Captain Marvel is depicted as slowly turning into Billy Batson. Or maybe vice versa. Either way, this is both an inaccurate depiction of the character, and says little to nothing about the story.

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #5–From the cover, one can see that in this issue there should be a confrontation between these two guys and that the one on the right wants to kill the one on the left. More or less, that covers the first half of the story. First stack, away!

Dynamo 5 #14–The first third of this issue deals with a mysterious new protector of the city named Vigil. (And if you check out the back cover, that name is provided.) She does fight a strong guy and a guy with an electric fist. Good enough, but just barely.

Grimm Fairy Tales #28–The story is about a girl’s life as influenced by the tale of The Ugly Duckling. The cover seems to express this simply by including a group of ducklings and a swan. However, the focus of the cover is a bikini-wearing-girl that is presumably the mysterious redhead that essentially guides the story. So, I can interpret the cover going backward. But just looking at the cover itself beforehand, I’d assume it’s a standard poster wannabe.

House of Mystery #3–The cover depicts a shadowy figure standing in front of a skull. The figure in question appears toward the end, but has little impact on this issue specifically. Death is an important concept here, as well. However, learning important details about the story is nigh impossible.

Legion of Super-Heroes #43–The team above are trapped on Rimbor, on the run, and getting shot at whenever they make their whereabouts known. So, yes, they do flee from the sewer while hiding and, yes, Colossal Boy gets shot. It’s not a pivotal moment of the issue, but it is relevant and does adequately express one of the plots. I’ll put it in the first stack.

Nightwing #146–“BURIAL AT SEA”, it reads, while showing Nightwing surrounded by corpses. That scene isn’t that important, and is handled within the first two pages.

Noble Causes #35–I’m going to be lenient and let this one into the first stack. The Nobles confront the metallic guy on the cover, and his machinations are in pretty much every part of the issue. It would help if the cover showed everyone that attacks Crucible (said metallic guy), but I won’t be picky.

Rann-Thanagar Holy War #3–The main characters are in the clutches of a villain! (He’s named Deacon Dark, but you can’t know that from the cover.) Within the issue, they are, but they aren’t. Dark himself plays a small role in the issue, but it’s what he does and has done that’s of more relevance.

Star Trek: Enterprise Experiment #3–The cover shows Captain Kirk fighting a Klingon. It doesn’t happen. Nothing close does, actually.

Trinity #5–In a surprise twist, Trinity’s cover actually does fit into the first stack. Not only does Wonder Woman fighting the big monster (Konvikt), but that fight (though not depicted accurately here) is a crucial event.

This week, American Dream, Dark Tower, Dynamo 5, Legion of Super-Heroes, Noble Causes, and Trinity fall into the first stack. That makes the Count this week 6:8.


Frequently in discussions involving, perhaps indirectly, Magneto or his children, someone states that one of that family is Jewish. Scarlet Witch is Jewish. Quicksilver is Jewish. Polaris is Jewish. All because Magneto is, or at least was, Jewish.

Quite frankly, I disagree. Someone can’t be born Jewish, or any other religion for that matter. They are born into a household of a certain religion. Wanda and Pietro were not born into their father’s house. For many years, he was not even aware of their existence. Instead, the two were adopted by the Maximoffs and raised in gypsy culture. They were not raised Jewish. Therefore, they are not Jewish unless they have become so since then (which has never been stated).

Lorna Dane was also not raised in the house of Magneto (or House of M, if you wanna get cute). She did not know that he is her father until recently. I do not recall at the moment what religion she was raised under, if it has been stated or implied, so I cannot say with certainty that she something other than Jewish. However, that is somewhat of a moot point. If the basis of the argument for her being Jewish were that she is so as proven in issue # such and such, there would be no problem. The argument, though, is made on the notion that since Magneto is known to be Jewish, than so must his children be. It irks me, as it shows a gross misunderstanding of heritage.

On a related note, I am unconvinced that Magneto is Jewish. He may have been at one time (the whole Holocaust part of his past), but I see no proof to suggest that he still is. Even moreso, he may not be religious at all. He never prays, celebrates holidays, nor acknowledge the existence of a higher being. If he took in a child today, would they be raised in any religion at all? ‘Tis an interesting question. One that will likely remain unanswered.

EDIT: I edit this because I realize that I have not addressed the potential for such a claim to mean that they are Jewish by heritage or lineage.  First of all, lineage is traditionally traced through the mother.  I cannot say with certainty that Wanda and Pietro’s mother was Jewish.  Assuming she was (as that would be custom), it would then depend on if Wanda and Pietro identify themselves as Jewish or with Jewish culture.  I see no evidence to suggest as such.  Much of the same can be said for Lorna.

Recently, Wolverine’s healing factor has been shown to be far more powerful than many fans are familiar with.  It seems to me, though, that there’s a perfectly plausible explanation for why it’s so potent these days.

When Hulk returned from Sakaar, he was much stronger and more durable than when he left.  His strength and invulnerability built throughout his time on the planet because he was facing bigger, stronger, more damaging threats.  As he kept pushing his body to the limit to confront these new threats, his threshold rose.

I imagine the same thing has occurred with Wolverine.  He’s pushed his healing factor to the max at various points and, slowly, how far he can push it has extended.  It’s up to the point where only a time amount of DNA is needed to reconstruct the entire being.  It’s a bit excessive and probably unnecessary, but at least it’s potentially explainable.

It’s oddly ironic how Marvel’s mutant idea doesn’t mesh with actual evolution. A random gene appearing in hundreds (and later thousands) of newborns each time manifesting itself in some way completely different?

The notion of them having superior traits is still valid, I suppose, with some exceptions. There are physically ugly mutants, some of which have fairly useless powers. Artie comes to mind (even though he’s depowered; work with me). So I guess the X-gene isn’t always a good mutation, which is just in the context of evolution because there aren’t any other traits in the world that cause both good and bad mutations (that I know of–I don’t claim to be a biologist or geneticist).

Good thing we’re dealing with fiction.

I once claimed that I would never want to write the X-Men, mainly due to a lack of ideas. That changed recently.

My dad brought up the subject of the X-Men not really interested him anymore, as many of his favorite characters have been changed in ways with which he doesn’t like. So, he asked me what it would take to reclaim his interest. And, like a newspaper does a down-and-out guy in an alley, an idea hit me.

It started simple and, as things normally go, my dad began building on it. Soon, we had a decent frame for a story. It starts with a character currently dubbed “The Geneticist” purely due to a lack of inspiration for a name. This character has developed a way to control mutant abilities through a little bit of manipulation of the X-gene. He gets some government grants, hires a team of mercenaries under the table, and sets to work.

Slowly, he picks off a few stray mutants. People like Angel (and Husk), Firestar, and Thunderbird and Lifeguard. He uses brainwashing techniques to get these mutants to work for him (potentially through using a mutant collaborator, but that’s not set in stone). Soon, he gathers enough confidence to storm the X-Mansion. The X-Men and students successfully drive off the attack, but not before a couple of mutants are captured. We’re thinking probably at least Cyclops and Beast, as well as maybe Rogue and a few students. In any case, due to the attack, the X-Men do a little detective work and learn what they’re up against. Shortly thereafter, most of the senior staff members realize that the X-Mansion isn’t safe. The Geneticist and his lot will keep attacking, each time taking a few people, until no one is left standing.

The Academy is closed and the X-Men are disbanded. Emma Frost goes with Forge and secretly continues running/helping the student teams. Many determine that the best option is to scatter. Some decide to leave the country. The plan does work. They do become harder to capture, mainly because the Geneticist can’t easily locate him. So, he somehow manages to grab Caliban, the mutant tracking unit that he is, and puts him to work.

Due to this rising new threat, Magneto finally comes out of hiding from wherever he went after The Collective. He seeks out Cable at his nation, knowing him to be a good strategist and leader, and makes a proposal. Together, using two different methods of attack, they would assault the Geneticist and his forces. Of course, those methods include two groups of mutants, or two teams of X-Men.

We decided it would be best to stick with current X-Men for the most part. I deemed that there should be one cover team (Cable’s) and one heavy-hitting, showy team (Magneto’s). Here are the rosters:

Uncanny–Cable, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat (and Lockheed), Warpath, Hepzibah, and Karima.

X-Men–Magneto, Cannonball, Colossus, Iceman, Lady Mastermind, and Avalanche (an addition I made simply because he fits).

Astonishing–Assuming this mag stays, we’d have this be where Xavier works. We don’t have the details ironed out.

And here are some interesting tidbits with some captured X-Men:

With a greater promise of control, Cyclops and Rogue would be tempted to accept a proposal made by the Geneticist. As a scientist, the villain has studied McCoy’s work and, after deeming him less useful in his current state, works to reverse the advance in mutation that Sage caused.

Clearly, there’s a little bit of work to be done, especially in regards to shaping an ending. But I immediately found the whole thing fascinating.

No, I’m not really ending the blog. Check the date of that entry.

For Lent, I took on the task of drawing. It’s been years since I’ve tried to draw something. Recently, I realized that my lack of skill might be due to the lack of reference images. I think you’ll see soon enough that there is some truth to that.

Magneto--custom costume
Magneto--colored by AnkaleRa

I had an idea of how to draw Magneto and went for it. Despite having a few reference images, I lacked something that mimicked the shot I wanted. Thus, I sort of had to do some guesswork drawing. As a first attempt in a long while, it’s not bad. But if could be better.

Martian Manhunter

This, and the others after, were done on request. I drew this using a few references for the face and one Superman image for the pose, detail, shading, etc. I would provide that Superman image, just so you could compare, but I can’t track it down again. This is my favorite of the drawings.


Requested by a lover of Beast, I tried my best. I wanted to do something humorous, but also something to show Hank’s intelligence. I think I succeeded at both. However, I’m not satisfied with it. I did far too much erasing, the hair isn’t consistent, the shading didn’t work right, and I made an error that needed to be covered (see the book cover). It is at least different from all of the other images, but it just doesn’t look right to me. I still have much to learn.

Spider-Woman--linked for space

Also requested by a fan of the character, I again wanted to make sure to do a good job. I really took care this time, based on how well the Beast image turned out. Feeling that my Martian Manhunter drawing was the best so far, I decided to use one image as the main reference shot.

This is that image:

Yes, that’s a Spider-Man image. But it provided something close to a leaping pose, which I wanted. It also sort of showed me how to define the muscles. I guess I should note that this is the first time I’ve drawn a female character. Overall, I’m quite pleased.

Blok--linked for space

Per my mom’s request, I took a stab at drawing a former member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the late, great Blok. I did what little I could with forming a pose and creating the rough drawing using a recent Legion cover with him on it. Once I had access to some back-issues, I was able to better see what his hands and facial structure were like. Once again I settled on drawing a custom costume, as none of his have made sense to me. I like the end product, but not the noticeable erasure marks at the top.

I might do more at some point, but I’m no longer obligated to.

Feel free to comment, especially if you have an idea for a topic next week!