Wolverine and The X-Men was one of the most consistently enjoyable books of 2012.  It brought some much needed fun and levity to the X-Franchise while still telling the sort of deceptively meaty stories we expect from someone like Jason Aaron.

It’s been a tumultuous year for the students at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.  They’ve been attacked by the newly formed Hellfire Club, dealt with the events of AvX dividing the staff and nearly shuttering the school, and everyone’s favorite Broodling, Broo, not only had his heart broken by Idie but got shot in the face by Kade Kilgore for his troubles.  Oh, and most recently the kids had to rescue the X-Men from the clutches of Frankenstein’s Murder Circus (yes, that is indeed a thing and it’s as awesome as it sounds).  Oh, and the school is now the home of the X-men…from the 1960′s.  So, that Jean Grey School for Higher Learning…it’s a fun place.

Issue #24 is a bit of a breather, a needed transition not unlike issue #17 (the absolutely nerdtastic Doop issue.)  This issue doesn’t quite reach the stunning heights of #17, but, hey that issue had all Dopp, all the time.

This one is really more a series of vignettes chronicling the various romantic, or possibly romantic, tanglings amongst the staff and students.  Some hilarious (Wolverine and Storm), some poignant (Idie and Broo), some profoundly disturbing (I’m looking at you, Quentin Quire.  Keep your hands and your telepathic perv-mind to yourself, kiddo).

So, how’s the whole thing work overall.  It’s a bit hit and miss, but ultimately makes for a fun read and I think that’s really all it’s going for.

The issue opens with an intriguing intro starring the perpetually-absent-Headmaster, Wolverine, and his ongoing attempts to avoid actually being at the school (his perpetual absence is to be expected, have you seen how busy that guy is…).  This is also the first sighting of a great running gag involving Rachel Grey and astral projections and yelling.  Good stuff, Mr. Aaron, good stuff.  There are some nice visual touches by artist, David Lopez, here as well.  In particular the ripped outfit and arrow sticking out of Wolverine’s shoulder for most of the issue.  I found it oddly hilarious that Wolverine apparently didn’t notice or care about said arrow.

The remainder of the issue jumps around giving us highlights of the various date night pairings: Agent Brand and really-weird-new-mutation Beast, Bobby Drake and Kitty Pride, and the really well written Broo and Idie bit.  Aaron does a great job making us feel the emotions surrounding this particularly odd pairing.  Obviously Broo is a big fan favorite and I think it’s  safe to assume that everyone is rooting for Broo and Idie, and Broo’s return.  Jason Aaron is always at his best when he’s not pulling back and playing with reader’s expectations.  The setup leads to a true gut punch of an ending.  Touche, Jason Aaron, Touche.

All in all, another solid entry in a great series.  I’m not at all sure how I feel about Beast’s new look and I’m not really feeling the Iceman-Kitty angle, but these are pretty minor squabbles in an otherwise enjoyable entry in a great series.


Best Bets August 2012

We want to apologize right off the bat for Nick’s sound quality. His Skype connection gave him a cyborg-like tone to his voice. That said, we get to talk about some of our favorite comics of August 2012 in this episode.

The intro and outro song you hear is the theme song for Superman The Animated Series.

Green Lantern Annual #1 – Rise of the Third Army starts here.

The cover is suppose to remind you of Superman #75′s Death of Superman.

short box podcast reviews

This is what the soldiers of the Third Army looks like.

green lantern comic book short box

Justice League #12

This is the controversial cover that got major media attention.

Short Box Podcast Comic Book Review Jim Lee

This kiss heard ’round the world:

comic book review short box podcast

Here’s the lineup of the new Justice League of America book that we mentioned:

david finch new 52 comic books short box

Wolverine and the X-Men #15

Iron Man and Broo become quick friends!

Ironman avx x-men avengers

The last page of Wolverine and the X-Men #15. Reminiscent of the original X-Men.

x-men avx avengers marvel short box

Batman Beyond #7

Here’s the cover from the image which shows this different version of the Batman Beyond costume.

short box new 52 reviews comic books

Batman Inc. #3

This issue was put on hold for over a month because of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. This is the scene that held the book back.

inc comic book review short box podcast

This is what Batman looks like as Matches Malone.

short box podcast comic books

Here’s the fist look at Damian’s new “Red Bird” costume. Nick called him “Red Wing” by mistake.

short box podcast comic book reviews

Damian as Red Bird looks to be teaming up with the as yet to be revealed Wingman (as seen on this upcoming cover):

comic book review jean paul valley azrael

No one knows who Wingman is except Batman. It’s someone who knows who Bruce is and has a reputation to salvage. Jason Todd? Jean Paul Valley? We’ll find out!

jason todd red bird short box

Alan Napier (1960′s Batman) as Alfred doned the Batsuit as a way to protect Bruce’s identity.

short box podcast comic books reviews

Batcow is back!

alfred comic books comics

Animal Man in Grant Morrison’s run is a vegetarian. At one point during his run, Animal Man actually confronts Morrison himself who reveals himself as a comic book writer who control’s Buddy Baker’s life. This is what he had to say about him being a vegetarian:

DC Vertigo Comic Books Short Box

Buddy Tells his wife he is a vegetarian and his whole family will be now too:

vertigo comic books short box

After looking into it further, it seems like Poison Ivy gets her sustenance from the sun…like a plant.

comic book reviews short box

Next up is our question from Shortbot. You can send your questions to him at @TheShortBot on Twitter.

Here’s a great link to alternative versions of Superman. Many of these are based on different people, other than the Kents, finding the baby Kal-El and raising him.

The story of Superman being raised by the Waynes is called Superman: Speeding Bullets. It’s was an Elseworld story written J.M. DeMatteis and the artwork of Eduardo Barreto in 1993. Here’s the cover:

elseworlds 90s comic books reviews

His Kryptonian powers manifest the first time while his parents are murdered leaving him to use heat vision to kill Joe Chill. Later he discovers the Batcave and decides he too is a bat!

90s elseworld comic books short box

Martha Kent from Superman For All Seasons.

martha kent comic books reviews

Here is the actual nail from: Justice League The Nail, that stopped the Kents in this reality from finding Kal-El and adopting him.

martha kent jonathan comic books

Dont forget to leave your question for Shortbot!

Breakdowns – Avengers Vs. X-Men

Part 3: Round 3

When I go to a comic shop or a con, people generally ask me if I keep up with normal weeklies.
My answer is usually that I try, but most of the time, that’s not really true.
Usually I shotgun through and paraphrase, so I have a concept of what happened to what character.

This is me basically doing that to large scale crossovers for you, this series in particular being the megaseries Avengers Vs. X-Men. I’ve broken up the ongoing by rounds, as to not make me write a huge, long terrifying thing about the series as a whole.

And so, we come to Round Three: A Whole Lot Of Kids Making Choices.

Before we make it to….. the confusing tale of the youths involved, I have to broach the subject of Wolverine, and exactly where he is during the entirety of this.

Now honestly, I’m not reading these as they come out, but the general assumption is that AvX #3 is what kicked off Round Three, and that makes everything a bit more confusing.

Let me Explain.

At the end of AvX #3, which I can gloss over because the tie-ins just repeat the main action of the issue, which is a pretty great feature of this series from a review standpoint, We see Wolverine being dumped off in what is assumedly a polar cap because he’s “too involved”.

Anyone could have seen that coming.

But, my main confusion is that, in the round three Avengers Academy tie ins, HE’S DROPPING OFF THE STUDENTS OF THE JEAN GREY SCHOOL.

So, his logically transition thus far is as such: Burned to a crisp by Hope/Phoenix, regenerated and thrown in a black bodysuit, then somehow on a quintet with his blue and gold costume, dropping off the students of the Jean Grey School and talking shop with a naked Hercules and Tigra, and then kicked out of an airlock by Captain America because he’s too deeply involved in the conflict. But, were that true, why weren’t the students in the quintet? And if they were, there is a telepath in that group. Nobody wants to warn Logan that some dumb crap is gonna happen?

From AvX #3, which basically has Iron Man being confused and upset over Cyclops’ concession to the Avengers from AvX #2, and then everyone, including Rachel Summers (who was formerly one with the phoenix force, and is also from the future) looking for Hope, who is using a piece of technology she assembled herself to keep one step ahead of everyone.

This is the same Hope that was being combat trained, and failing quite badly, last issue.
I just want to let that one sink in.

Anyway, moving on.

TIE-IN: Avengers Academy #29-31

This series sets up a couple weird angles, the first of which being Sebastian Shaw.
For those not in the know, Shaw was the leader of the Hellfire Club back when Jean Grey was the Phoenix, and basically he can absorb and break down energy attacks into strength. He was also one of the dudes that headed up the sentinel initiative, which I guess is a fun fact that they play into in #31.

But anyway, he gets brought over the the Academy with one of my favorite Canadians, Madison Jefferies, also known as the mutant Alpha Flighter, Box. This is a confusing element, because for some reason Shaw became amazingly aggressive than we had seen him previously in the story lines involving Utopia.

comic book geek xmen

But the best part, and this is the theme of Round 3, his resistance was basically toothless. It was a stratagem for the kids of the Jean Grey school AND the kids of the Avengers Academy to potentially join the war that by all means wasn’t even going on.


The second big variable in this series, and probably the entirety of Round Three is X-23. The former X-Forcer and current Avengers Academy member, she’s actually facing a lot of the same dumb pressures as the father that she was cloned from. Which is great, because we don’t see her in a lot of places of conflict in general, but the approach to this was actually not that well done. She has no consistent opinions on the war, and even when she does make decisions, she looks like she’ll backdoor out of them at any point. Which is frustrating, because man, do I want to care.

TIE-IN: Wolverine And The X-Men #10

The art is actually pretty great, but see my previous point about Wolverine. Also, this “war” is actually getting more pointless and toothless by the titles involved.

TIE-IN: X-Men: Legacy #266-267

This has an odd, two issue focus on Rogue about how she doesn’t feel like she can keep her anger in check, because she actually did decimate the majority of the Avengers in the earlier parts of her career.

chris brown comic review short box

We also get introduced to perhaps the worst diplomatic team in Avengers history just showing up on academy grounds for no real reason and unsettling the pot for everyone. This team consists of She Hulk, Falcon and Moon Knight, which is a pretty blatant incident waiting to happen.

Also, Moon Knight is a reality TV star in that reboot nobody read, and if you didn’t know that by now, he doesn’t shut up about it here.

So, basically an incident happens. in the form of Frenzy just losing it against She-Hulk. And basically the battle boils down to Rogue, absorbing everyone’s powers, destroying a hollow suit of Iron Man armor.

Then, we learn that Rogue is going to join the fight, which leads us into Round 3.5: JOURNEY INTO SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE.

Breakdowns – Avengers Vs. X-Men
Part 2: Rounds 1 and 2.

When I go to a comic shop or a con, people generally ask me if I keep up with normal weeklies.
My answer is usually that I try, but most of the time, that’s not really true.
Usually I shotgun through and paraphrase, so I have a concept of what happened to what character.

This is me basically doing that to large scale crossovers for you, this series in particular being the megaseries Avengers Vs. X-Men. I’ve broken up the ongoing by rounds, as to not make me write a huge, long terrifying thing about the series as a whole.

So, here’s Rounds One and Two, starting with Avengers Vs. X-Men #0.

We open on MODOK, hunting down a former A.I.M. scientist in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He attacks with a flurry of what can only be described as “Random animals that have rockets attached to them, cybernetically”, including a dinosaur head that is strapped to a booster rocket with its mouth wide open.

Who comes to the rescue? Scarlet Witch!
Remember Scarlet Witch?
You know, the one that basically cracked a universe in half and then wiped out the majority of the mutant population? Well, she’s back, I guess.
I realize that she didn’t do a lot of that on her own accord, but I can’t help stacking facts like that, because before that? She was only known for marrying The Vision and making our with Hawkeye.

Anyway, Scarlet Witch shows up, and dispatches (with the help of Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew) the utter insanity that MODOK has surrounded himself with, all the while MODOK kind of tries to talk trash. I say that he tries to talk trash, when really he’s just expressing our concern as readers that hey, Scarlet Witch may not be the best option for super heroism right now.

So, anyway, Jess and Carol figure that bygones are basically bygones with Scarlet Witch and the rest of the Avengers, which is a really dumb conclusion to come to, because guess who’s back and REALLY doesn’t want to see his ex-wife? The Vision, you guys.

Vision makes it a point that Scarlet Witch isn’t a part of the gang anymore, and really, it didn’t have the emotional impact anyone was going for, so let’s just move on.

In the last half of the book, Hope borrows a jetpack to fight crime in the city, fires an eye-laser at Cyclops, and then derails a bank robbery by the Serpent Society singlehandedly.
Nope, that’s about it.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #1.

I don’t know who The Protector is, and I’m kind of fine with not really caring, so, I’m moving on from the typical Bendis banter on this one, and basically, the Phoenix force is destroying planets, and aliens are taking bets on that. Hopefully you like framing devices, because this one is actually recurring. We also get the new, younger, Nova, who basically takes off the wing of a jet aircraft while crashing into NYC informing us of the Phoenix force that’s coming.

Meanwhile, a Hope vignette where she’s fight training with Cyclops, wherein Cyclops is actually teaching her something about fighting. I question the validity of this, because Cyclops, on his best day, was not a great hand-to-hand combat guy, and Hope has been trained by Cable. I don’t understand Cyke’s aggression, or the fact that he’s actually teaching her anything, but that’s the premise of this scene and I’m not going to judge it anymore.

We get a bunch of bloobity blah blah about how The Avengers realize that the phoenix force is coming and it’s a viable threat to earth and oh, wait Cable was saying something about Hope having something to do with it and oh geez and gee willikers maybe we should have asked him for specifics.

Then, we get the money shot of Cyclops blasting at Cap with eye-beams because he doesn’t want to give Hope up to The Avengers, who want to get her off planet or something. The reasoning behind either side sin’t really clear, because it involves a LOT of assumed interest in the non-logic of keeping Hope on earth before it’s destroyed.

Maybe if she bonds with the Phoenix force which she has already shown to be capable of using, she’ll destroy the world? Probably.

TIE-IN: Wolverine And The X-Men #9

I actually want to get to reading this series at some point, but this is just a re-iteration of the events of AvX #1, with the actually pretty awesome students of Wolverine’s new Jean Grey School For Mutants reacting to.. well, everyday life. The Phoenix force is coming, and Wolverine is really conflicted about what team of the about 4 active teams he’s on that he stands with on this issue.

TIE-IN: New Avengers #24

People are protesting in front of the Avengers Mansion. I don’t know why.
Iron Fist goes out to talk to them, finds Luke Cage pretty deep in already talking to the media.
Luke is apparently just losing his mind trying to get his wife and kid to come back, and he’s yelling directly into a news camera to express his feelings.
Luke’s wife, Jessica Jones, shows up.
Things get awkward.
Storm leaves the fancy Avengers meeting in a huff, probably because she’s still wearing her X-Men uniform.
And then we have a scene of Everyone Jumping Out Of The Helicarrier Which We Were Promised Since This Series Began.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2

Fighting Happens.
Basically, we have the following:
Red Hulk Vs. Colossus
Namor Vs. Luke Cage
Magneto Vs. Iron Man
Dr. Strange Vs. Magick

Also, other things happen! The Avengers chuck an away team into space to deal with the Phoenix head on, and Hope takes out most of the teen-aged X-Men, as well as Wolverine.

TIE-IN: Avengers #25

I don’t know when this story actually takes place. I’m assuming it’s before the actual fighting, because we have Cap being introspective, and then Thor shows up and makes him feel better. Protector (Who I guess is a future version of Noh-Var) is explaining that A.I.M. is doing something. I pretty boldly don’t care what that is, suffice to say that A.I.M. gets defeated. The kicker for me is that Noh-Varr gets informed of the Phoenix force, which I assumed he already knew about, but apparently he didn’t.

I’m starting to notice a trend in these issues about people just straight up not knowing about the force that’s just gonna end up destroying the earth, possibly to nail down the fact that it’s the entire reason for this conflict. The mentions are getting annoying and convoluted.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #1

I actually like this title a lot, because it essentially drops the ENTIRE PRETENSE of the tie-in, and goes about just showing fights and attempting to have some humor to an otherwise dull set-up. It’s actually a pretty decent fight book, but there’s no real bearing on anything, Phoenix-wise.

Your Takeaway: Iron Man beats Magneto, and Thing defeats Namor.

TIE-IN: Uncanny X-Men #11
This is basically a recap of everything that’s happened so far, with the added bonus of the “Juggernaut/Colossus” Vs. Red Hulk fight. We also get a smart little bit about Cyclops issuing a press release to make the Avengers look bad in the eyes of the public, which I don’t particularly understand the relevance of, but okay.

And that was Rounds One and Two, basically.
Tune in later for Round Three!

Breakdowns – Avengers Vs. X-Men
Part 1: X-Sanction

by Chris Brown

Usually, when a large scale event happens in comics, I’m the last to know.
There, I said it, I’m a comic fan, but I usually catch up later than everyone else because well, I’m either working on my own stuff, or doing other things, or what have you.

So, generally, I read something, and automatically have to break it down to I can focus on the current event so that I can carry on a shop conversation. Avengers Vs. X-Men was big, right? That went over well? So, here I am, giving you my breakdown of the prelude, X-Sanction.

I know a bit about Cable. I’ve been lucky enough to have him as my common thread throughout my comic timeline, from New Mutants, to the stuff with Stryfe, to the awkward Soldier X, his throw ins with Deadpool, and now, currently, his relationship with Hope and his resurrection.

Cable is a complicated dude.

So, I’m basically facing reality here, Cable is not a dude that communicates his points well.
Though, by all means, he probably should be. He’s jockeyed through time and existentialism a lot, you think he’d know how to tell Captain America that The Avengers might be doing something wrong in the very near future. But, comics wouldn’t be comics, and we wouldn’t be able to see Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines do what they do best. Which is making big dudes duke it out, and making it look so dang pretty.

Anyway, your exposition is brought on by flashbacks and flash forwards, and the basic summation is that Hope, Cable’s somewhat adopted daughter, is probably going to inherit the Phoenix force, and that will bring about… something unclearly bad. Specifics are hazy, which is good, because we find out that Cable really doesn’t give a damn. This actually streamlines things quite a bit, as we realize Cable actually stopped listening after “The Avengers are going to try and stop Hope, apparently” and he fires off like a rocket made of anger and the techno-organic virus to incapacitate the Avengers before said unclear stuff can happen.

There’s a lot of ballyhoo about how Cable is using weapons from the current/future timelines to just pick off the Avengers that he can remember being on the team. This is actually a point of confusion for me, because Cable knew Wolverine and Spider-Man were on the team, but apparently just straight up didn’t plan around that. Well, really, there’s a giant list of people he didn’t account for, because it’s The Avengers, and he has about three mind-scrambling chairs and a stasis tube. “That should do it!” Cable says to Blaquesmith in some form of future flashback that would make Dr. Who fans wince.

And how does Cable kick off this bullet train of extreme violence? Taking out a prison transport plane that contains at least parts of the Lethal Legion. This is a good plan, because, well, the Legion is barely relevant when they are relevant, and even those points are really that often. Which is good, because as distractions go, they are a pretty great force to have dudes like Iron Man bounce dialogue off of because they barely understand what’s happening.

While The Legion is just hanging out and getting plastered on walls and whatnot, Cable knocks the Falcon out of commission, drags him to the freighter hideout, and pops him into a stasis tube mounted with a mound of C4. Now, being honest, Cable should have only a tertiary knowledge of who Falc even is, and as far as associating him with the Avengers? I guess. Planning for him? Alright, that’s fine, that’s workable. Popping him in a stasis tube? That seems like a waste. If Cable really wanted to deal with The Avengers, it would probably be considered a huge waste of resources throwing The Falcon in a stasis tube that could, by all rights, probably be more equipped to handle someone with an actual superpower.

But, we get Captain America following up on Falcon’s disappearance by basically just, I don’t know, leaving the battle and barely telling anyone. Which is another thing the Legion is apparently great at, allowing people to just come and go as they please in the course of the battle. It works well in the context of them being in a fight with The Avengers.

so, blah blah blah, Cap fights Cable, and I think pretty much point blank asks him why he’s doing this, to which Cable grunts, then has an attack by the Techno-Organic Virus. If you’re not familiar with the character, Cable basically survived a giant technological virus by being sent into the future and controlling it with telekinesis, which is his actual mutant power. His power sometimes fluxes, and the Techno-Organic virus flares up, causing Cable a lot of pain and just remarkable aggression.

So, Cable’s T.O. starts taking over his entire body, which just makes him absolutely angry for the very parsed reason that I mentioned earlier, and combining that with the pain that he gets from the flare up, beats Cap in single combat.

We also get a nifty vignette from the crew of Uncanny X-Force, which is odd if you haven’t been keeping up with the book, and it’ll actually come into play WAY LATER in the event, so, just let that happen.

Okay, speaking of vignettes, I’m gonna tackle the insanity that is the future flashbacks at once, because there are a lot of them, and they basically nail down the relationship between Cable and Hope, if you don’t know or couldn’t figure it out or have been living under a rock. There’s actually a couple of touching moments. Loeb has actually done these really well lately, though I do have a lot of misgivings about other aspects of his work. The interaction and concern between Cable and Hope is genuine and understandable.

Breaking back into the story, Cable defeats Iron Man pretty much inexplicably. Loeb leads us to believe that it’s a virus or something similar, but really, that doesn’t make sense. What does make sense is how Cable couldn’t fit into the odd, bulky future Iron Man armor that he scrounged up in “The Future”, and it looks kind of absurd. Cable’s flare-up has covered his entire body in steel-esque nanomites, which is good because now he’s taking on Red Hulk.

Red Hulk is going to be a focal point of my misunderstandings with AvX, because, well, some of the colorists involved in the series don’t disseminate him from the green Banner Hulk as things move on. Here though, he is true to form, working with the Avengers and taking on Cable for long enough to get spiked with the Techno-Organic virus and incapacitated while taking some of the T.O. burden off of Cable.

Then, Cyclops shows up with Hope, and things get wacky. Cable, again, doesn’t explain his point, and continues fighting the Avengers and actually standing his ground. His entire “team”, which consists of Cyclops, Hope and Blaquesmith, yell at him like he was the kid scoring on his own goal, and that continues to be a problem as we deal with the surprise one two punch of Wolverine and Spider-Man that show up out of nowhere.

Honestly, the fact that Cable didn’t account for these two is logically frustrating, but they make with the fighty-fighty and we’re all the better for it, I guess. We also get a pretty great bit about The Thing being frustrated with picking up the mess that the other Avengers made. Just knowing that we’re gonna be dealing with Ben Grimm though out this entire debacle gave me hope, personally.

So, wrapping stuff up, Red Hulk burns the nano mites out of his system using radiation in a crowded room, Hope figured out that she can burn the T.O. out of Cable using the Phoenix force, and everyone sort of freaks out that Hope having the Phoenix force is a thing now.

Which, If Cable would have just said that’s what we were dealing with in the first place, it wouldn’t have set up this blockbuster event, so, well, now we have a blockbuster event which I get to read and will continue to give you the breakdowns of.

Nick and Adam discuss two of the biggest stories in current Marvel. Avengers Disassembled and House of M.

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