X-Treme X-Men # 1 - 4, X-Treme X-Men: Savage Land # 1 - 4
X-Treme X-Men # 1 - 3: Adventures in Spain
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Salvador Larocca
The X-Men are enjoying a well deserved rest throughout Spain until each of them are targeted by Spain's military force. The full team is captured except for Rogue and Sage.
Claremont gives us a refresher on Destiny and how her diary will be the driving force of the plot throghout the series.
While captured, the X-Men try to escape a death trap called "The Maze," which the Spanish military is using to test the limits of the team.
This seems slightly intense as there is even an underwater area where they come close to drowning, but really there isn't much true suspense or captivating action.
The military force tried to capture Rogue, however she escapes and eventually finds the X-Men. As the X-Men are trying to escape, they run into a powerful human (or at least non-mutant) named Vargas.
He gives them a run for their money, severel hurting Beast and ultimately killing Psylocke by stabbing her!
The team struggles with losing Psylocke, but really not enough in my opinion.
They have some flashbacks reminding us how awesome she is, but they move on much too fast in my opinion.
We at least get a nice send off when Brian Braddock and Megan come to take her body.
Sage uses her powers (somehow?) to bring Beast back to life. Offscreen we'll learn that this move triggered a secondary mutation, causing Beast to become more feline.
X-Treme X-Men # 4: Welcome Gambit
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Salvador Larocca
A confusing scene takes place as Gambit confronts Vargas, but mostly toys and jokes with him. It's unclear if Gambit realizes that Vargas killed Psylocke. If he did, he's being a real asshole by not being more serious about challenging him.
But whether he knew or not, Vargas is being positioned as a badass who killed an X-Man, yet doesn't seem too concerned with beating Gambit. It's very weird.
Gateway shows up and brings Bishop into the Dreamtime world to have a vision about the future with Psylocke.
All of the X-Men are able to see a giant tower elevator thing, which apparently has some sort of grand meaning that I don't understand yet. Also, apparently Gateway is Bishop's grandfather. That better end up mattering somehow, otherwise I will continue to hold the opinion that this was random and pointless.
At the end of the issue, the X-Men find a home that belonged to Destiny, but was left to Rogue. It is stocked with supplies and appears to be the new home base for the X-Treme X-Men!
X-Treme X-Men: Savage Land # 1 - 4
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Kevin Sharpe
XM (plus Beast) heading to the Savage Land. Tracking down something from Rogue's dream
Serious fears that the personas in Rogue’s mind may be taking over.
Heroes and villains in there.
Rogue finds a reptile-like race called the Saurid, on their way from SW USA to the Savage Land
Strong parallels between this new race (The Saurids) and the plight of the mutants
Some enemy (Brainchild) sets a trap
Beast falls for a local girl, who turns out to be mind controlling him
Storm is turned into a savage creature by Brainchild
The savage land mutates attack alongside a transformed Storm and a mind controlled Beast
Sage has a stronger will then Leash (one of the mutates) and is able to use Leash to stop Brainchild
The Saurids live happily ever after in the Savage Land
My Connections and Creators
Well, well, well. Here we are, X-Treme X-Men. I've heard a lot about this run, but had never read it. I was doing some internet sleuthing and a few people said "the first Spain run is one of the best." If that's true...woah boy we're in for some trouble. It's quite possible that my opinion is clouded by the fact that I also just read the opening arc of New X-Men (which I also hadn't read). I'm going to keep my reaction mostly to myself since that's my next blog, but THAT is an example of how to switch things up, for the better. This is just a slightly different roster in a new location.
It seems as though the acquisition of Destiny's diaries will continue as the central plot, continuing the theme suggested in X-Men #109 when this series was first spin off.
We also have this new villain Vargas who kills Psylocke. I just got done saying I wouldn't talk about New X-Men, but I can't help myself. It's kind of sad that Claremont's attempt at changing things up is "New Villains!" He tried that with the Neo and now he's trying that with this Vargas guy. New X-Men is changing things up by being edgy and creating entirely new paradigms in the world (way more mutants, mass mutant extermination, etc.)
Speaking of Psylocke dying, this disappointed me as well. The first reason is that a mainstay hero like Psylocke is killed by this random Vargas guy. Vargas is obviously not going to work out because I've never heard of the guy, but Claremont better go all in on trying to make this guy a huge deal, because if not this is random and a bad choice. (I just looked him up and he has 10 total appearances in any Marvel comic, so I now feel like I have permission to be disappointed here.) The other reason I'm disappointed is because of the lackluster response to her death. In re-reading for this blog, I did realize she basically got an entire issue to mourn and celebrate here, so perhaps I'm being too harsh, but it doesn't long after that for everyone to be like "She was a casualty of war, we better move forward." It just seems like it was done for shock value.
One explanation might come from Brian Cronin in comic Book Legends Revealed # 397:
Claremont, though, merely planned for her death to be temporary, with the idea being that when she returned, she would be stripped of all of the Crimson Dawn stuff that had been added to her story (including her facial tattoo) plus perhaps even returning her to her original body (and not the Asian body she ended up in).
However, this was during a period where Marvel had decided that no characters would return from the dead, so Claremont's plans were squelched.
If this is true, which I'm guessing it probably was, then that explains why Psylocke was killed in such a ceremonious way and she didn't get the send off I think she deserved. I personally like this idea of not returning characters from the dead. There should at least be a 5 year limite before characters can be returned from the dead.
One piece of good news is that Salvador Larocca isn't bad. It's probably weird that I rarely comment on art since comics are an art form. So I don't love Larocca's art, but I hated that manga shit so much that anything that's not that makes me breath a big sigh of relief.
"With that cast in mind, he began writing about a year's worth of stories (he was writing roughly two issues a month). That's when he learned that, oops, Beast is actually going to be part of Grant Morrison's New X-Men. I can't tell you how this wasn't communicated or whether Morrison hadn't decided to use Beast until the last second or what. But whatever the reason, suddenly a year's worth of Claremont plots were now useless.
Since Salvador Larroca had already begun drawing the first three-issue arc, Claremont was allowed to keep Beast for the first three issues but that was it. Claremont even very kindly sort of used X-Treme X-Men #3 to lead into Morrison's New X-Men run."
So there you have it, I was technically right about there being a disagreement over using Beast (and that being a weird choice), but apparently it was done unintentionally. Also, pretty interesting that Claremont had written out a year of plot and had to re-do it. I wonder if that led to the reduced quality. Cronin takes it further by saying:
"Claremont had to scramble and change all of his plots, and the result meant a lot of the characters he was planning on using fell by the way side (folks like Forge and Dani Moonstar, for instance)."
This makes me sad too because I love Dani Moonstar and it would have been great to see her used again!
One of my points of emphasis for this blog has been on character development. I haven't put much attention into that lately because the characters really didn't seem to change too much. However, now we have a re-launch with a new era. We still have Chris Claremont, but he's trying to take the team in a new direction, so let's see where the characters are at.
Storm is back as team leader, finally. She's a little bit hardened and I can't tell yet whether that seems like a natural progression or out of character. I'll be keeping my eye on that.
There's also two different panels putting emphasis on Storm and Bishop having a thing. In one panel Sage comments on catching them embracing. In another panel, Storm puts on street clothes and Bishop is ooohing and ahhing over her. These two are on Ship Watch!
Even though Tessa has been around for a long time, she was never more than a one note villain. She is essentially a new character here and Claremont is clearly trying to make her a big deal. She refers to herself as "The Team's Human Computer" several times, almost like we constantly heard that Cannonball was "nigh Invulnerable." We get it.
Beast is pretty much the same character, but he's written out of the comic (due to being injured by Vargas) so he can become a mainstay on the New X-Men lineup.
Well, there's one big piece of character development. She fucking dies. This almost gives me (original) Thunderbird vibes. Claremont decides to kill off a member of the team early on so we know there are real stakes here. The difference is that Psylocke is a character who has been around for a long time. Claremont fricken loves this character so I'm shocked that she's dead. And killed by this random Vargas guy. I'll tell you, Vargas better turn out to be a huge badass or else this will look terrible in hindsight.
There isn't a whole lot to say about Thunderbird. He's a brand new character but we really haven't seen much from him. He was banging Psylocke and now he's the most sad about it, but other than that I don't understand why I'm supposed to care about him.
One major shift is that Rogue is no longer the leader. It seemed like there was a really nice progression of her becoming "the obvious leader." This did NOT work for Gambit, but it worked nicely with Rogue. She still seems like the character with the most screen time, but she's second fiddle to Storm as leader of the team. Time will tell how this sits with me.
She is also continuing this power shift where she keeps the memories and powers of those she absorbs. It's weird that she keeps using Wolverine's bone claws, but she doesn't regularly use any other powers. We're also revisiting the Carol Danvers concept with the personalities in Rogue's head fighting to take charge of her. This time we get a spin as there are hero personalities fighting villain personalities in her head.
He's a cop, you idiot!
Hey guys, did know that Bishop's a cop? He knows things because he's a cop. He's going to approach situations differently because he's a cop.
FYI, he's allso copping a feel on Storm more than once. (Tee hee).
Yo, yo, yo...what is happening here? If you've been reading my coverage from the beginning, then you know I'm utterly shocked how this guy sucks as a character. Many writers have shit on or neglected him. But this is Claremont. Claremont is making the conscious choice to constantly shit talk him and talk about how he can't be trusted. This is blowing my mind. Here's a few examples:
Let's be real. Gambit is only here because Psylocke died, Beast had to leave, and they needed more star power.
My Rating- 6/10
If this is the best we can get for a kickoff to a new series...I'm scared. The Spanish military? A random dude named Vargas killing Legacy characters. I'm not giving up yet but I'm not inspired either.