This is Comic-Con

This is Comic-Con

Jul 29

So…Comic-Con. I don’t even know how to describe it. A whirling mass of insanity? Of awesome? Of…something like that? Let’s re-live some Vaseline-lensed highlights.

SDCC Nerd Alert! Alert Nerd!

SDCC Nerd Alert! Alert Nerd!

Jul 21

Comic-Con, guys! Comic-Coooooooon.

So one fourth of the Alert Nerd collective (me! Sarah!) will be in attendance this year. I’ll have copies of One Con Glory (newly-emblazoned with blurbs from some of my favorite people, still emblazoned with the original blurbs from equally favorite people) for sale ($10, cash only). Just find me or my husband.

I look like this:

He looks like this:

I will be Tweeting our locations, as well as possible con discounts and the like.

There are a few places you should definitely be able to find me, though. Below, a tentative schedule!

Thursday, July 22
5:30-6:30 p.m. Geek Girls Exist Panel, Room 8
Moderated by Geek Girls Network’s Kristin Rielly, this panel features Morgan Romine (The Frag Dolls), Bonnie Burton (The Star Wars Craft Book), Marian Call (singer/songwriter), Jill Pantozzi (Has Boobs, Reads Comics), Veronica Belmont (Qore), Kari Byron (MythBusters), Kiala Kazebee (…and me!

Friday, July 23
12:30-1:30 p.m. Spotlight on the Immonens, Room 9
Can’t miss the Immonens.

5:00-6:00 p.m. Girls Gone Genre Panel, Room 24ABC
Felicia Day and Kathryn Immonen and Marti Noxon and Gail Simone and…well, okay. Twist my arm.

6:00 p.m. io9 Meetup, Fluxx Nightclub
Dropping in before the night’s main event…

8:00 p.m. Geek Girls and Friends Tweet-Up, Jolt’n Joe’s
Drink drink drink.

Saturday, July 24
3:00-4:00 p.m. Community Panel, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront
Hilarity will ensue, right?

5:30 p.m. Pop Candy’s Comic-Con Meetup, Wine Steals
And more hilarity here.

Additionally! I wrote the introduction for Lydia: The More Than Complete Edition, which is dropping at the con and includes the entire run of Kevin Church and Max Riffner’s amazing strip, as well as some fun extras. Buy it at the Agreeable Comics booth (Small Press N-11)!

In between the scheduled thingies, there will be tons of show flooring, impromptu drink-ups, and…other fun-sounding stuff. I’ve sketched in a few more panel possibilities here, but as usual with SDCC…everything is subject to change! Twitter will probably be the most up-to-date source, so follow along. Hope to see you there!

Bring Them Home

Bring Them Home

Jul 15

Where have the Starjammers been?

Fantastic Fangirl Caroline says:

For real, anybody in panels or meeting X-people at SDCC, ask about Lorna & Alex & Rachel. For justice! #findpolarisandhavok

Download a larger version of this missing poster, suitable for printing and posting at your preferred comics vendor.

Second Coming Postmortem

Second Coming Postmortem

Jul 15

The X-Men died on M-Day.  

At the end of Brian M. Bendis and Olivier Coipel’s House of M miniseries, Magneto’s daughter Wanda – the former Avenger known as The Scarlet Witch – uttered “No More Mutants” and, thanks to her reality-altering powers, the world’s mutant population, which was once on a trajectory to overtake homo sapiens within a century, was reduced to under two hundred souls. While some happy few characters who lost their powers had them restored (Polaris, Professor Xavier, Magneto and Quicksilver), others like Jubilee and Mirage were permanently depowered. Mutant births stopped. The status quo for the X-Men changed and Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence had been killed. How, after all, can humans peacefully coexist with mutants if the mutants are all extinct?

Since then, the focus of the franchise has become bleak and militaristic. Religious fundamentalists attacked the school and killed a significant number of the teenage students. Xavier’s school was blown up yet again and this time, instead of rebuilding, the X-Men relocated to an isolated compound/bunker in San Francisco and then, less than a year later, moved again to an offshore island fortress built on the ruins of Magneto’s Asteroid M.* Bereft of hope and beset on all sides by the government, by zombie X-Men, by anti-mutant groups, by the ghost of Cyclops’s ex-wife and any number of other miscellaneous threats, their new start in the Bay Area has only been an exercise in backing the team into smaller and smaller boxes until they were literally trapped within an impassable bubble placed around San Francisco by Bastion, a mutant hating robot simultaneously from the future and the 1990s.

The hooks on which this storyline have hung have been a series of crossover events that have been unofficially dubbed “The Messiah Trilogy” by the creators responsible for them. Messiah CompleX deals with the first mutant birth since M-Day. The baby, christened Hope, is sought after by nearly every group in the X-verse, including the X-Man Bishop, who thinks that he can prevent his own post-apocalyptic future timeline from occurring if he simply murders a baby. Because this always works. To protect the child, Hope is sent into the future with Cable (another cringeworthy 1990s character who had managed to be redeemed by Mike Carey and Fabian Nicieza – a mutant supersoldier from a barren, post-apocalyptic future with improbable guns and a bitchin’ metal arm). This is, at best, a miscalculation, as the history of the X-Men franchise has never been one for positive, thriving futures or good parenting, and Cable ends up raising Hope in increasingly more post-apocalyptic settings as Bishop chases them through time, destroying the world that he is sure won’t exist anymore once he kills the girl. Bishop may be a cop and a mutant but he has never been accused of being smart. And as a mutant cop, you’d think he’d have more reservations about killing a baby than he does. Babies can’t commit crimes.

During the hunt for the mutant baby, Cyclops tasked Wolverine with putting together a wetworks squad of X-Men who have claws or love knives, a resurrected X-Force.

Because X-Men don’t kill (except when they do), Wolverine and his crew must keep their existence secret from their teammates. Cyclops bears that burden the worst, clearly haunted by his decision to keep a cabal of assassins at his beck and call. Eventually, during the Messiah War crossover, Cyclops sends X-Force into the future to retrieve Cable and Hope and bring them home. They fail their mission, but manage to help save Hope from Bishop, Apocalypse and Cable’s evil clone Stryfe (again, dear reader: 1990s) before returning home. Deadpool playing Tic-Tac-Toe is also involved, and that particular scene is the highlight of the entire story.

Finally, Cable and Hope came home, inciting Second Coming, the third act of the trilogy. Tying together plots from Cable and X-Force, it left all the X-Men scrambling to react to Bastion’s cabal of resurrected villains and had a high body count – Ariel, Sack (Sack was still alive?), Vanisher, Nightcrawler and Cable were killed, Karma and Hellion were left crippled. Utopia was destroyed. Beast resigned from the team in disgust. X-Force’s existence is revealed to the other X-Men, which leads to strained relationships and consistent complaints that Cyclops has gone too far.  It goes something like this:


Despite the crushing losses and frayed personal relationships, it also signals a significant change in the status quo. Because possibly Hope is the new host of the Phoenix — the universal embodiment of all life unless you are from the planet D’Bari in which case it is the universal embodiment of holy shit panic we’re all gonna d-.** But really, we don’t know what Hope is – her powers are intermittent and she seems to glom them off of whoever is around her at the time they manifest. Near Cyclops, she has eye beams. Near Cable, she has Cable powers. I continue to suspect that this is related to Hope’s encounter with Rogue as an infant, the one that cleaned the slate of Rogue’s powers and laid the groundwork for her to finally gain control over her abilities. I can’t shake the feeling that the Phoenix has been a red herring ever since the possibility was first raised at the end of Messiah CompleX. From an editorial perspective, it means they cannot keep fruitlessly teasing that Phoenix (albeit in the guise of Jean Grey) is coming back, which is 90% of Marvel’s X-Men marketing efforts.

The feeling I get when reading or thinking about Second Coming is one of fatigue. The kind of fatigue you get from running on a treadmill for five years. The whole storyline since Hope’s birth has been running in place until it was time to bring Hope back and despite some talented storytellers taking us through those paces, it has only been talented running in place. Yes, the backdrops changed, much in the way that my treadmill can pretend that I’m running the Golden Gate Trail or through the streets of New York or up Mount Everest or whatever, but none of that actually ever means that I’ve moved. The debate over the necessity of X-Force and the constant harping on survival both seemed forced and both seem like filler.  And only now, now that Hope is back three years later and maybe the Phoenix but maybe whatever else, we can move forward. There are new mutants again. Hope is looking for her family. Captain American wants the world to like the X-Men. Oh, and something with vampires.

I know comics are cyclical. I know that change in comics is illusory. But nothing that happens in Second Coming ever seems more than perfunctory or purgatorial, the same state that the X-franchise has been in since “No More Mutants” was uttered.  For an event story in fifteen parts that is the closing leg of a trilogy of multi-part event stories, not much has happened. The ‘River City Ransom’ format of the early half was abandoned in the latter parts as San Francisco came under attack and things only seemed to keep happening in order to draw the story out as long as possible. Cable and X-Force have to take Cypher into the future to do something that Doug can easily do without effort. Magneto fights robots. Cyclops makes a speech. People are mean to Cyclops. The story feels so mechanical at times that I wonder if Matt Fraction or Zeb Wells or whoever is really just a pen name for Madison Jeffries. The only emotional impacts come from deaths and dismemberments or from characters crossing lines they swore they’d never cross again. The story beats throughout Second Coming were tired and trite, the deaths meaningless because of it, and the threat never as real as it should have felt.  It was also not the story about the Phoenix that we were promised by the creators responsible for it.  Other than what I’m perceiving as a move back to San Francisco from Utopia (which was about a mile or so from San Francisco) and the addition of Hope to the cast and the temporary subtraction*** of a few cast members, nothing of consequence has been done.

When Matt Fraction took over the title, I hoped for the same verve and hopeful energy that permeates his Invincible Iron Man. It existed for a few issues and then was lost in the plodding of the metaplot. With Second Coming behind us, I look forward to seeing that energy again.

*Personally, I would have preferred it immensely if Utopia was built out of Cable’s island nation of Providence, which was destroyed late in Mike Carey’s X-Men run.

**truncated mid-word because the speaker has been immolated.

*** the only X-Man that stays dead is Jean Grey.