The End of All Things, Parts 2, 3, and 4

I had intended to read Scalzi’s latest book in novella form, one at a time, and report back here after each one. And I did try, with part one hanging out over here. But then I read part two and got distracted by other things, and then I sat down with part three and ended up reading part four immediately thereafter, and so I’m going to go ahead and lump them all here together. And if you haven’t already obtained these stories, I’m gonna say just wait for the full book release in August, because seriously, you’ll just read them all in one sitting anyway!

Part 2: This Hollow Union

This Hollow UnionYou’d think, after the wham-bam opening of The Life of the Mind, Scalzi might relax a bit, have a quieter interlude, but no, of course not, let’s blow some more stuff up! In this second novella, we go back to the Conclave with our good friend Hafte Sorvalh, who is trying her darndest to steer the Conclave’s leader, General Gau, through like six miles of metaphorical potholed road as the Conclave tries to deal with the problem of having two sets of humans to deal with. For every great plan Sorvalh comes up with, though, a giant wrench is thrown into it in the form of an exploding spaceship or an uncovered conspiracy or a political assassination. Goody.

I like Sorvalh and I like Scalzi’s political machinations, so this was a great story to read. There’s plenty of planning and counter-planning, and even though everything doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to, things do work out in their own special way by the end. Scalzi also throws some extra world-building into this story, with some background on Sorvalh’s people that is unexpected and fascinating, and with some gender-identity stuff that comes off a little forced but is still pretty neat. Also, bonus cameo by our favorite brain in a box!

Part 3: Can Long Endure

Can Long EndureHere’s the story where Scalzi gets a bit more contemplative, although there’s still plenty of action to go around. This story has a neat structure, with each mini chapter taking place on a different day of the week, though not all the same week because nobody would survive that much excitement. On each of these days, our other good friend Heather Lee is leading a special ops team to fix some problems in the best Colonial-Union style — sneaky and then absurdly showy. Things mostly go well for them until they really really don’t, at which point punching people in the face is definitely the order of the day.

The contemplative part comes from the conversations the team has while they’re not sneaking around or shooting people or threatening to shoot people or whatever, which are comprised mainly of team members being so over all the Colonial Union posturing and wondering why they’re having to do so much of it. The team is ready to carry out their jobs, no problem, but they’re all kind of wishing it wasn’t necessary. It’s a perspective that Scalzi gives most of his characters, to some extent, but it’s different seeing it in the everyday bureaucrats as opposed to this particular strike force.

Part 4: To Stand or Fall

To Stand or FallThinky bits out of the way, this story gets us back to negotiating and making wild, possibly impossible plans and also blowing stuff up, ’cause that’s how you fight a space war, people. This novella nicely wraps up the various threads of conspiracy and subterfuge from the first three and also from the last book, bringing together our favorite diplomats to solve the Earth/Conclave/Colonial Union problem (temporarily, anyway) in as showy a fashion as possible, because that’s how they all do. Why can’t they just be friends, again?

Overall, the four stories of this novel make a great addition to my beloved Old Man’s War universe and a lovely summer read, if you like your summer reads heavy on the sarcasm and the blowing things up. Which apparently I do. I can only hope that Scalzi’s insane book contract involves at least one more foray into this world!

Weekend Shorts: Comics in Space and also Ghosts

We’ve got a space spoof, a space western spoof, and an incredibly sarcastic horror spoof in the lineup today. Clearly I am taking this weekend very seriously. How about you?

Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues, #3-4, by Erik Burnham and Nacho Arranz
Galaxy Quest #3Galaxy Quest #4So, yeah, after last time I was not exactly in a rush to finish off this series, even though it’s been sitting in my house staring at me for a while now. I just thought, you know, if I don’t read it, it might be good! But I needn’t have worried, as apparently this mini-series should have just been three issues instead of four, kicking out that terrible second one.

In the third issue, we get right down to it, showing up at the alien planet, making some wisecracks about science fiction conventions (not… not like cons, but like, tropes and stuff), and fighting a giant alien monster. Woo fighting alien monsters! It’s all very exciting and also a little super gross. In the fourth issue, our heroes finally make it to the thing they’re supposed to destroy and, spoilers, destroy the heck out of it. But with style! Lots of style, and wisecracks. Style, wisecracks, and potentially terrible mistakes. And then there’s a not-quite-cliffhanger at the end to pave the way for future issues.

I have to say, except for that terrible second issue, this was really super delightful. I love Galaxy Quest and many of the things it spoofs, and if you do, too, there’s no way to go wrong with this. But I’m thinking if another mini-run shows up at the comic store, I might hold off until the trade shows up. Those filler issues are rough!

Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, #2: “The Sad, Sad Song of Widow Johnson, Part Two”, by Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and J. Bone
Sparks Nevada #2Let’s be real, I love Sparks Nevada (and Sparks Nevada) and this issue could have been just him saying “I’m…. from earth” in every panel and I would be stupidly amused. But this was even better than that!

We pick up with Sparks’s party turned to glass and the bad guys chasing after him and Croach while also striving to be respectful of Mars’s culture and natural features. So considerate! There’s bad guy infighting, careful onus calculation, a trip through the never-before-mentioned (or possibly I wasn’t paying attention) Martian underground cities, trampolines, and some weird Martian planet thing that is, according to Sparks, sogross. Poor, poor Sparks.

Beyond Belief, #1: “The Donna Party”, by Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Phil Hester
Beyond Belief #1Woo! It’s finally time to send the little ones to dreamland and see what those lovely Doyles actually look like! Unsurprisingly, Sadie looks rather like Paget Brewster, but it only now occurs to me how completely incongruous it is that she and Frank, perpetually dressed to the nines and carrying martini glasses, would be fighting ghosts. You’d think Sadie’d at least change into a comfy pair of pants or something.

But, regardless, they take their natty selves where they are needed, and in this issue they are needed at the home of Sadie’s friend Donna, who has moved into a house that is absolutely delightful except for the part where it’s haunted. Frank and Sadie arrive to discover a host of creepy-pants dolls ready to have a never-ending tea party with them, but of course they figure out the root of the problem and send one poor, beleaguered spirit and his slightly crazy spirit wife back to where they belong. Then there’s a little lead in to what might be the next issue, which will be weird if it’s true because the podcast story is mostly self-contained. We shall see…

And, as in the first Sparks Nevada issue, there is an extra issue #0 tacked on to tell the story of how Frank and Sadie met, which I must admit was a little strange and underwhelming. I much prefer their vomit-inducingly adorable current relationship to any other way they might ever have acted, so I’m gonna stick with it.

Weekend Shorts: The Life of the Mind and Bitch Planet

Two slightly different offerings this week: the start of the latest adventure in the awesome Old Man’s War universe, which is aliens and military and explosions and stuff, and also the start of a comic universe called Bitch Planet, which is humans and pseudo-military and fighting and stuff. What do I think? Read on!

The End of All Things, Part 1: “The Life of the Mind”
The Life of the MindScalzi. The Old Man’s War series. Two of my favorite things! I put the four… short stories? Novellas? I don’t know the cutoff here, but anyway I put the four stories that make up this book on immediate Amazon preorder when I heard they existed so that I could have them on my Kindle before I even knew they were out. And so it happened! I got this nice email last Tuesday telling me my book was here, and as soon as I finished China Rich Girlfriend (there is seriously no interrupting China Rich Girlfriend) I read the heck out of it.

It was a bit different than I thought it would be, but it was just as amazing as I wanted it to be, so that’s just fine by me. See, this first story is narrated by a dude who’s a brain in a box. Not the guy who was a brain in the box in whatever other story that was where they found a brain in a box, but a new brain in a box who was asked to tell the story of how he managed to become a brain in a box. Brain in a box, people.

So, because said brain is specifically the brain of a pilot and programmer, the story is written to be not terribly well written, so that was kind of weird. And of course it’s written entirely from this very very limited perspective, with some convenient information thrown the brain’s way so we’re not completely lost, but I’m still looking forward to getting more information from a different perspective in the next story. It had better be a different perspective.

But anyway, the story itself is great and full of all the action, intrigue, and subterfuge that you have come to expect from John Scalzi. The fate of the Colonial Union after the events of The Human Division is revealed, as well as a myriad of other crazy conspiracies that break my brain (haaa) more than a little. It will be very interesting to follow along with this story over the next couple weeks, or if you’re the instant-gratification type you can wait until it’s all published in August.

Bitch Planet, #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro
Bitch Planet #1I picked this issue up the day it came out back in December, and I have no idea why it took me so long to read it. The art is amazing, with strong color palettes for each setting, tons of characters that manage to look different from each other, and, impressively, a bunch of naked women who look like actual naked women and not like porn naked women.

Why are there a bunch of naked women, you say? Well, that gets to the story part, which is pretty cool itself. It seems that there’s this planet, see, which is nicknamed “Bitch Planet” but is really the “Auxiliary Compliance Outpost”, which is really just jail for ladies who’ve done something wrong. The naked transportees are labelled “radicals” and “killers”, but we quickly learn that at least one of them is there because she made some threats after her husband cheated on her, so perhaps it’s a little easier than it should be to end up on this planet. There’s also a nice little twist at the end that makes me think that this series is not going to pull any punches. As it were.

I am super intrigued to see where this series goes, so it’s a good thing the first volume comes out next month!

Weekend Shorts: Free Comic Book Day

2015-05-25 13.35.14If you didn’t know already, Free Comic Book Day was on May 2nd, and there were many many many free comics to be had! If you missed it, don’t worry, they’ll do it all again next year, on the first Saturday of May, and you’ll be ready to go this time!

I stopped into my comic shop pretty late because that weekend was busy as all get out, so some of the comics I was interested in were gone already. The guy handing out the freebies asked which three I wanted, and I said “Doctor Who, please, and Terrible Lizard, and whatever you think I should be reading,” which is how I ended up with those two and also Secret Wars #0. What did I think? Let’s find out!

Secret Wars #0, by Jonathan Hickman and Paul Renaud
I wish one of the regular counter people had been on free comic book duty that day; maybe I would have gotten something I actually liked as my surprise comic. But alas. I mentioned that I don’t know much about Marvel characters in general in my failed all-lady X-Men quest, so maybe reading the zeroth issue of a huge Marvel crossover event was not my smartest move. It opens with the seemingly young daughter of Mister Fantastic (so… he has a kid, apparently?) yelling at a bunch of people wearing numbers (she has a 6, so… numbers are a thing?) about how they need to get their rears in gear and build a ship. Then there’s some exposition about, like, universes colliding and heroes fighting each other. Then there’s a big panel with lots of heroes who can all apparently fly getting ready to fight each other. Soooooooooo that’s cool? I guess? I am not the target audience for this comic series, that is for sure.

In the second half of the… issue? Book? Set of pages stapled together?… there is a story in which The Avengers meet the Titans from Attack on Titan, a manga property I also know nothing about except that I have ordered it for my library because the teens want it. So there are weird giant creepy dudes and a bunch of Avengers whaling on them because that’s what they do, I guess. Hooray? Whatever, I’m sure when I throw this issue in the library prize box it’ll be gone in seconds.

Doctor Who, Free Comic Book Day Edition, by Nick Abadzis and Eleonora Carlini; George Mann and Mariano Laclaustra; and Al Ewing, Rob Williams, and Simon Fraser
That’s a lot of creators, because this is a compilation of three stories from three different Doctor Who runs with three different Doctors: Ten, Eleven, and Twelve.

I’ve been a little down on Doctor Who as of late, largely because I am not a fan of Clara, so when this book opened with a story more or less about Clara I was like, ugggggh. She and Twelve venture to a world made of quartz where bad things are happening and Clara has an existential crisis and then saves the day. Probably. The second story, with Eleven, is a sort of cute play on Free Comic Book Day wherein some alien being hijacks the giving away of free books to force people to read his book and there are some terrible jokes about reading and authors in there. The last story, with Ten, is probably the best of the bunch. In it, he and his companion throw their muddy clothes in the laundry and then the mud becomes sentient. Ish. It’s short and to the point and still gets in some cute original run jokes, so it wins in my book. And now I’m feeling a hankering to go watch some Donna episodes. I miss Donna.

Terrible Lizard, by Cullen Bunn and Drew Moss
This one I read first of my stash and loved absolutely the most. It opens with a couple of full-page, color-saturated illustrations of a city under attack by strange creature, and then pops back a week to a teenage girl kicking back and eating cereal. As you do. Said girl, Jess, gives us some backstory on the military or military-adjacent research lab her dad works for, and then she literally skateboards into it just in time (ha) for a freak time accident that brings her face-to-face with a very very large dinosaur. The T-Rex is dealt with in a not really unexpected way, but then at the end it turns out that there’s more to this event than meets the eye. I loved the artwork and the story in this issue, and I will definitely be putting the trades on my library order.

Did you get any better comics on Free Comic Book Day? Let me know!

Weekend Shorts: The Unwritten

Holy crap I’ve made it through all of the single issues of The Unwritten that were clogging up my bookshelf! A victory dance is in order! Now onto the trades!

The Unwritten, #47-49: “Orpheus in the Underworld”, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
The Unwritten #47It’s Mr. Bun! Mr. Bun is back! Mr. Bun is back and badder than ever, as it seems he has usurped the Lord of the Underworld (aka Hades). This… this may be a problem.

The Unwritten #48This three-issue arc brings us back to our old pal Tommy, who is wandering the Underworld without his memories but with a vague sense of having something he needs to do. He’s still travelling with our favorite small dead children, who smartly don’t trust Mr. Bun, and as he wanders Mr. Bun’s castle he starts to remember who he’s looking for and who he’s been trying to avoid. They’re all, of course, hanging out in the Underworld, so we also get to see Lizzie again as well as (spoilers?) Wilson Taylor (!!) and Pullman (!!!), and we also get to find out just how Mr. Bun ended up the sad sack that he is.

The Unwritten #49In the final issue of this arc, Pullman tries to sway Tom to his side, but instead Tom decides to take matters into his own hands, invoke the title story, and try to find out just what’s running the machinery of everyone’s lives, but it seems that before he can he gets nabbed by some characters from Fables just in time for the crossover event. I didn’t particularly like

Weekend Shorts: ODY-C and The Bunker

Before we dive in to this week’s comics, I want to remind everyone that tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! I have like a million things I am doing this weekend but one of the most important to me (like, seriously, I took off work for this) is stopping into my local comic shop and grabbing my allotted free comics as well as whatever they have that I want to pay for. If you have a comic shop within driving distance of you (which you can check at that link above), you have no excuse not to stop in and grab 100 percent absolutely free comics!

Okay, back to the writeups!

ODY-C, #1, by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward
ODY-C #1I bought this issue the day it came out, knowing nothing about it other than that Matt Fraction wrote it and that Matt Fraction is awesome. I then read it shortly thereafter, and only realized that I hadn’t talked about it here as I was packing it up to donate to my library.

Why did I forget to talk about it for five months? Well, I had really bought it for my husband, and almost entirely because the first couple of “pages” are this huge, 8-page fold-out with a giant illustration on one side and a four-page timeline and four-page map on the other. Timelines? Maps? They are squarely in Scott’s wheelhouse. But still I wanted to read it first, to save Scott the trouble of reading it if it was bad and because MATT FRACTION come on.

So I did. And it was… weird. See, ODY-C is a complete rewrite of Greek mythology, specifically The Odyssey (see what they did there?), wherein all the characters are either ladies or an intersex… sex… created for the purposes of procreation. That timeline thing explains it all, I think, if it doesn’t break your brain, which it totally did mine.

As a person with limited knowledge of Greek mythology, I found myself knowing just enough to know that things were oddly different, not enough to know why, and too much to be able to just read the book as a new story and let it do its own thing. I also really couldn’t get past the voice of the story, in which people say things like, “There should come thunderous punishment from we Olympians for their insolence and hubris.” No. My brain is broken already, I cannot read formal language.

But it’s a super pretty book, with wild technicolor illustrations and amazing, intricate detail. If you’re the kind of person who wants to read space-based, gender-swapped version of The Odyssey, I can’t imagine you’ll do anything but love this.

The Bunker, Vol. 1, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari
The Bunker, Vol. 1This, on the other hand, this book was solidly in my wheelhouse. Five college kids go off into the woods to bury a time capsule, because nerds, but when they find the perfect spot it turns out it’s already taken, by a giant bunker. Even weirder, this bunker has their names on it. Even even weirder, this bunker contains letters to themselves, from their future selves. AWESOME.

It seems that most of the letter writers are doing this as a way to stop the terrible horrible things that are going to happen from happening, but the letter we read first wants none of that. This letter wants its reader to make sure everything happens just as it’s supposed to, which may be a little hard with all of his friends working against him.

As we go through the story we get bits and pieces of the letters, with flashes forward to the horrors of the future world and some flashes back that show how all these guys became friends in the first place and how that’s all about to fall apart. The bunker also has a surprise guest who is going to make things very intriguing in the future.

I love the art in this book as well, which is this interesting sketchy pencilly style that fits with the book’s themes of despair and also the malleability of this timeline. I am super excited to see where this comic goes!

Weekend Shorts: Sparks Nevada and Galaxy Quest

Spark Nevada: Marshal on Mars, #1: “The Sad, Sad Song of Widow Johnson, Part One” by Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and J. Bone
Sparks Nevada #1Kids, shine your astro-spurs and don your robot fists! It’s time to finally see Sparks Nevada in action! Squee!

I have mentioned before in this space my love of The Thrilling Adventure Hour and especially “Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars”. It is amazing and wonderful and hilarious, and as soon as I heard that I could get it in comic form I grabbed it from my local shop, where the counter dude was like, “I don’t even know what this is.” Oh, counter dude, you are missing out.

In this issue we get to see Sparks in action way back before the start of the podcast, when it was just him and Mercury riding the plains of the fourth planet together, protecting this time Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and the ever-paranoid Felton on their trip back from one of Mars’s moons. Everything’s going fine until the Martians show up, deposit Croach with the party, and then skedaddle, with only the explanation that some bad guys are on their way. Sparks thinks he’s got everything covered, but of course he ends up needing Croach’s help and we end in the middle of a fight with a rather large gang of outlaws. Thank goodness it’s not the end of Sparks Nevada!

Also in this issue, an issue 0 depicting the event that brought Croach under onus to Sparks, annoying both of them for all time. Squee again!

I love how faithful this book is to the speaking style of the show’s actors. You’d think pauses and stutters and interruptions would be hard to translate but it’s done perfectly. I had the actors’ voices in my head the whole time and it never sounded odd. I’m not sure how it will read to someone who’s never heard the show before, but really you should be listening to the show so it’s a moot point. Also awesome are the illustrations — I love that Sparks is rocking an Eleventh Doctor haircut and that I finally get to find out what Croach looks like! I cannot wait to see how this series plays with the show’s world. I’ll find out next time!

Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues #2, by Eric Burnham and Nacho Arranz
Galaxy Quest #2Speaking of things I have previously squeed about

I said last time that if all four issues of this mini-series were as awesome as the first, I’d be quite pleased. Sadly, this second issue is almost not at all awesome. Galaxy Quest what are you doing to me?!

We left off last time with a threat to the cast of our favorite space drama, and we pick up right there, with Jason staring down his lizardman double. But instead of instant action, we get this weird conversation between the two of them recapping the first issue (OF FOUR, I might remind you), and then like three punches and then the cast are roped into coming with the lizardman to help him defeat his enemies? Or something? I don’t know. They get a fancy spaceship and they leave behind a bunch of lizardmen clones to take their places on Earth, so I’m sure there’s going to be a broken spaceship and some interesting new relationships at the end of all this. Issue #3, you’d better step up your game!

Weekend Shorts: Wicked, Divine, and Unwritten

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: “The Faust Act”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
The Wicked and the Divine, Vol. 1I had heard vague good things about this book around the internets, but not enough to really get me interested. But then I was at the comic shop getting other things and I asked the guy at the counter what he thought about it and he was like, “It’s fantastic, you should buy it immediately.” He was not wrong.

The conceit of this story is that various gods incarnate themselves into the bodies of more or less ordinary twenty-somethings for two years every 90 years, because sure, why not? In their 2014 bodies, the gods are literal rock stars, performing and giving interviews and being totally open and honest about their godly status, but of course no one really believes them. Except maybe for Laura, a groupie who ends up in the right place at the right time to see Luci (slash Lucifer) snap her fingers and explode a couple of dudes’ heads. When Luci is arrested and the other gods more or less abandon her, Laura does everything she can to help out.

This is a fantastic book, starting with the super pretty artwork that I just need to have all over my walls, like, immediately. Look at these covers, people! So gorgeous. And then also it’s neat to see gods from all the different religions (some of whom could be from several religions all by themselves) hanging out doing their god thing, and then even better there’s an intrepid girl reporter on the case who is probably going to be majorly pissed when she finds out these gods are for reals. I’m super in love.

The Unwritten, Issues 45 and 46: “The Corpse Harvest Reiteration”
The Unwritten #45It has been an absurdly long time since I delved into the world of The Unwritten, and I was more than a little worried that I might have forgotten everything. Luckily I found myself at the start of a little two-issue run wherein 1) the action focused mostly not on the overarching plot and 2) our favorite vampire spent a page explaining the important stuff. Thanks, Richie!

The Unwritten #46So in this set of issues, Richie is feeling bad for himself and Didge is doing her police thing, and then the two of them join forces when a little kid loses first his babysitters and then his dad in freak deaths that have brain damage as the common link between them. Turns out the kid is writing stories that come true, and although he’s not explicitly writing anyone into these stories the people he’s basing them on end up in big trouble. It seems that the story world, once thought a bit dead, may be only mostly dead.

I am super excited to get back into this series, which is good because I have a pile of issues and trades lying around for it!

What fantastic short stuff are you reading this weekend?

Weekend Shorts: Galaxy Quest and Find

Galaxy Quest #1, by Erik Burnham and Nacho Arranz
Galaxy Quest #1When I saw this comic on the shelf at my local shop, I maaaay have squeed. Galaxy Quest is the best, you guys. It’s such a perfect sendup of the Star Trek genre while also being a part of that genre, and it holds up even fifteen years later (crap, I’m old) as a pretty awesome movie on its own. I love it so much that I didn’t even open the book, I just bought it and put the rest of the series on my pull list immediately.

And so far, I totally made the right decision. The writing is spot-on to the style of the movie and the art is super pretty, although the characters are drawn juuuust different enough from their models that I’m like, wait, is that Tim Allen or Alan Rickman? Which is weird. But anyway. The story begins with the movie’s climax, wherein (15-year-old spoiler alert!) Tim Allen uses the Omega 13 to go back in time 13 seconds and save Sigourney Weaver. Buuuut it turns out that that 13-second rewind was not at all localized, and that it caused a rebel group which had just defeated its overlords to instead lose that battle and their leader. All parties involved had a sense of déja vu, and the rebels soon deduce that there must be someone who reset the timeline, and they’re gonna go kill him.

I am so excited for this but also disappointed that it’s only going to be four issues long. But if they’re all like this one, they’ll be four super awesome issues and I am totally okay with that.

Find #1, by Sam Read and Alex Cormack
FindThis book I was also really excited to pick up off the shelf, largely because the cover is so shiiiiiny. I gave it a cursory flip-through and the art looked real nice as well, and even better, the sales guy said it was a one-off. A comic I don’t have to read for a million years? Sold!

Sadly, it was not a winner for me. It started off pretty good — kid has a lame home life, loves comics, wanders off one evening and discovers an alien! A real live alien who is not unlike the kid’s favorite superhero, Captain Splendid! But now we’re already halfway through the story, and what’s left? A quick superflight, some amateur heroics, and the disappearance of the alien, who returns at the end of the kid’s long life to find out that the kid made good and went to space and is appreciative of his brief alien friendship.

It’s a cute story, and perhaps if you’re a person who has read comics all your life and has a similar nostalgia and appreciation for the ones you read as a kid, you will find more to identify with in this story than I did. But I kiiind of want my money back.

What stories are you reading this week that I should spend my money on?

Weekend Shorts: X-Men catchup, part the last

I’m finally done! All it took was forbidding myself from reading another comic until I got through the backlog of X-Men on my shelf. Thank goodness my stack ended exactly at the end of this particular storyline. I can’t imagine what I’d’ve done if I were missing one, or if the last one started a new interesting run. I’ve definitely enjoyed the action-packed adventures of these lady X-Men, but I am frustrated by the sameness of the drawn characters, the threadbare “plot” (as you’ll see soon enough), and the fact that I am obviously supposed to know who all these people are and I just do not. I’ll stick with my tiny-universe comics in the future, thanks. But just in case you were curious how this storyline ends, here are some recaps with super spoilers:

X-Men #9
X-Men #9Deathstrike is on the move with the live sample of Arkea, and I realize that I really have no idea what Arkea is. Probably doesn’t matter. The X-Men, with the reluctant help of Arkea’s brother John Sublime, track Deathstrike & Co. to Dubai, where Arkea has unsurprisingly started taking over bodies, “upgrading” Deathstrike, Typhoid Mary, and Enchantress in unspecified fashions. There’s a cool part where one of the vaguely ethnic X-Men flies through a building at Mach 3, as you do, I guess, but I am most intrigued by the strange underwater army that shows up at the end.

X-Men #10
X-Men #10Oh, hey, turns out Arkea is a virus. And the bad guys all got what they wanted from her (them? it?) even though I didn’t see them asking. Exposition does have its benefits. After the recap, our human missile gets picked up and sent back to work as the X-Men continue trying to hunt Arkea down. Meanwhile, there is a bit of one-way dissent between Deathstrike & Co. and Arkea as the Ana Cortes part of Deathstrike realizes that things have not gone at all according to plan. Then Arkea asks for more backup in the form of yet more people I have never heard of but are apparently super dangerous, and the underwater army turns out to be SUPER HUGE and I am not sure how this showdown is gonna go down.

X-Men #11
X-Men #11Sooooo Ana and Enchantress go rescue some mutant who is somehow being stored as particles in air, which, AWESOME, but also wtf. I really wish I knew who any of these people were. Meanwhile, the X-Men finally figure out that they’re being played, John Sublime talks some shit, and Ana Cortes solves her problems by somehow putting a sword through herself. Then, FINALLY, the epic underwater showdown begins, but it’s mostly just more X-Men I don’t know (except for their names handily printed alongside them) flying around doing… stuff? And then apparently Jubilee is a vampire, which, wait, what? Come on, guys. I am totally unclear how this is going to wrap itself up in one more issue.

X-Men #12
X-Men #12Uh, quickly, apparently. Arkea gets her super dangerous people all resurrected and ready to go, and then the X-Men show up and there is the briefest of standoffs during which Storm is like, hey, we’re here for Arkea, you leave now and we’ll call it a draw. The new ladies are dangerous but not stupid and take the deal, leaving Arkea alone with Karima and Karima’s new toy that will apparently kill Arkea, though we see how that went last time. Then some X-Man or other psychics the giant army to death, or whatever, the end. And that’s all you’re getting from me on this subject EVER AGAIN.