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WicDiv
First off, WicDiv #11? Holy shit you assholes. Seriously.

I was not expecting Laura to die. Ever. I'm still about 98% sure that she's somehow going to resurrect or reincarnate later in the story (hell, even next issue? it's plausible), but, just... wow.

That hit out of nowhere. And the page even choreographs it. It visually prepares you for exactly what is about to happen so you know, you know, what you're about to read.

And then that finger snaps and Laura/Persephone's head is just, boom. Gone. In a second.

I maybe don't entirely have the words together at the moment to address this adequately. But really, that was a hell of a twist, and really well handled. But also really horrible.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE (with far more actual plot explanation, because this shit requires an actual summary):

Inferno (Secret Wars)
Inferno #1 was... interesting? The whole Battleworld conceit that Marvel has put together is still a bit weird to me. It feels disjointed. Which, really, it should, because it's a literal temporal and spatial collision of every Marvel universe and timeline and major event in the history of Marvel Comics, to some extent or another. (And, while not everything is going to be happening on-screen, I think it's probably safe for us to assume that most of the other continuities and events that aren't being put out in the Battleworld books are happening off-screen in undepicted areas of Battleworld? At least, that's what I figure fandom's going to end up doing with these things in the long run anyway.)

I'm off topic: Inferno #1 basically shows us a world where Piotr Rasputin (non-comics people likely better know him as Colossus, but hey, fun fact: Marvel rarely has people bother to refer to everyone by their codenames in the comics, because they're people and why the hell shouldn't they use their names except where secrecy is needed?) and the other X-Men failed to prevent the demonic incursion into New York and save his sister, Illyana (aka Magik), that was depicted in the original Inferno miniseries/storyline. (I can't remember if it was a storyline or a series)

Because this is Battleworld, though, the area around this version of Manhattan that has become infected/displaced/possessed by Limbo (the hell dimension over which Magik holds dominion, normally), but they somehow managed to encapsulate Inferno (Limbo-Manhattan) in an energy dome shield thing, Doctor Doom (yes, that one, who is the Lord of Battleworld) made Scott Summers (Cyclops - I don't think it's 616!Summers, though, based on... not-being-White-Phoenix-as-was-established-in-Secret-Wars-#1) the Baron of that particular domain. And thus responsible for policing the areas around Inferno and the outer boroughs of New York and maintaining Doom's order. Whatever that is.

Point is, in exchange for helping to maintain that order 364 days a year, Colossus gets to lead a team of X-Men to charge into Inferno to try and save his sister from the clutches of Inferno's demon lord. (I can't remember the name of that guy offhand) The first few pages depict the fourth anniversary of the day the X-Men lost Manhattan to Inferno, and reveal that Illyana isn't Illyana/Magik, but rather Darkchild at this point. Ie, she's given full control over to her demonic self that acts as the Ruler of Limbo. (This is not the first time Darkchild has come up in the comics)

Darkchild!Illyana kicks their asses, wrecks Colossus' arm, and shatters Baron Summers' back (causing Jean Grey to seemingly unleash the Phoenix?), leading to a skip to a year forward and the next attempted incursion (and a lack of Jean in that skip forward). (And Scott in Charles Xavier's floaty 90s hoverchair from the cartoons) Scott tells Colossus, Domino and Boom Boom that they can't go, because Illyana's now a demon and he refuses to lose X-Men on these efforts anymore. Colossus tells him, more or less, that he's an asshole and he's going because that was the deal. Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) agrees with Colossus, and Boom Boom, Domino, Colossus, and Nightcrawler go in.

Nightcrawler gets captured by Darkchild and the demon guy, everyone gets their asses handed to them, and then Madelyne Pryor (Jean Grey's clone) and Nathaniel Grey (X-Man) show up, in Goblin Queen and Goblin Prince mode, and wielding apparently ridiculous magical powers. And then the issue ends. Obvious hook to follow on with it, but hey, it's comics, that's the name of the game.

I admit Inferno #1 got me curious enough to give #2 a shot, but I'm not sure what the stakes are meant to be here? And, really, as a #1 issue, this feels like it's written 100% for established fans of these characters interested in a new take and a new direction on these stories. Which, yeah, that seems to be the entire point of this entire Secret Wars crossover, but... seriously. If I didn't already know the X-Men well and care about these characters specifically, this issue would be super confusing. Either way, it was fun.

All-New X-Men (#41)
Okay, I've read All-New and Bendis' companion Uncanny run from the start, and it's interesting to see the lead-up to the end, here. Because this is the end of Bendis' run on both books, by all accounts - and it's all tying up into Uncanny X-Men #600 at the end of the month.

That said, I feel like, given the lead-up of the previous issue posing a "major mutant threat" on Utopia, and the drama of having Maria Hill personally show up and ask the time-displaced First Class team and Magik to go deal with it to avoid blowing it up into "another mutant problem"... the actual conclusion here, while satisfying because, for once, the mutants didn't have to resort to violence and harm and no one got traumatised or nearly killed or put at risk... It just... It was jarring with the set-up and presentation? It was weird. Everything about the preceding issue and even the build-up in this one was "we are going to have to fight again."

And then Jean just defuses the whole situation? And turns it into "no, we're going to make a point to Maria Hill and SHIELD that their treatment of us is unacceptable and this needs to stop." Which, yeah, that's a point someone should have made to Director Hill a long time ago, and SHIELD does tend to fly way off the handle handling mutants in the 616-verse, compared to how they deal with other superpowered beings. (The sheer hypocrisy in how, say, Scott Summers is treated versus the various Inhuman factions is kind of ridiculous.)

I can't tell if this is coherent, but basically, I liked the issue. It just seemed to... clash, somehow, with the setup and the presentation of the first half of it? I went into the issue expecting a massive mutant-on-mutant fight, and instead got Boom Boom blowing some stuff up, Karma making Young!Scott and Laura (X-23) attack everyone, and then Jean knocking everyone out, making Boom Boom's power backfire on herself, and jumping into Karma's mind to have a one-on-one chat. It was a bit anticlimactic, ultimately? Felt like it to me, anyway.

That said: The issue ends with "To be concluded in... UNCANNY X-MEN #600!" So, clearly, this is not done, and ties in to the bigger story Bendis has pulled together.

Which means that the last three major issues over on that side of things - with Kitty and Illyana's "fuck all the mutant drama and Scott being a dick, let's go do what matters and save a scared mutant kid from a dangerous situation," Scott and Alex's "we need to stop posturing and actually do something to help our people instead of trying to be abstract symbols of our ideals, and just BE our ideals," and Dazzler's setup of finally taking down Mystique's Madripoor mutant growth hormone drug ring (plus the "dissolution" of the New Xavier School and everything else) - should finally pay off.

Granted, Johnathan Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers (not to mention Secret Wars #1) already spoiled what Bendis' big pay-off for his Uncanny X-Men run is: Scott Summers declaring, and building, a new X-Nation, and basing it out of the Weapon X facility that he used for the New Xavier School. And somehow getting his hands on a Phoenix Egg, and going White Phoenix during the final incursion event between the 616 and Ultimate Marvel Universes, and using that power to ensure he survives in his present version to get to Battleworld and try and shepherd mutant kind through the oncoming clusterfuck.

Gotta love the nonlinear and out-of-order nature of comics stories, sometimes. Bendis' whole build up and payoff got spoiled months ago by Hickman, for anyone who read the Avengers run. (Which, really, is pretty much required to understand what in the fuck is going on with Secret Wars.)

Either way, I'm still looking forward to Uncanny X-Men #600, and the payoff of a story I've been following quite closely. Should be satisfying to see it come together.

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Jordan

December 2015

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