Posts Tagged ‘Schism’

Mister Jeffries saves everyone on Utopia in X-Men: Schism #4

April 26, 2012

X-Men: Schism #4
Nov 2011

The fourth chapter in the five-part X-Men: Schism mini-series picks up where we left off in the previous issue, with the X-Men under full attack in San Francisco at the fictional Mutant History Museum. The X-Men who showed up for the press gig had been taken out by the kiddie Hellfire Club in issue #3 as a mysterious bomb released a Sentinel-forming singularity. Though at the time, Cyclops ordered only Dr. Nemesis over to the museum, in this issue, we learn that he brought a friend! Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

The distance between the museum and Utopia, the island headquarters of the X-Men, is four miles, as revealed in the massive X-Men entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (OHOTMU) Hardcover #13 and confirmed with a little map as part of the Utopia entry in X-Men: Earth’s Mutant Heroes #1, so how Nemesis and Jeffries got to the museum so quickly is rather difficult to explain. Nevertheless, they arrive to find Wolverine chopping away furiously at the embryonic Sentinel, which seems to be forming faster than he can furiously chop.

Ok here's the plan: I stand here, behind you, just in case there's a lightning zap or something.

Previous encounters between Jeffries and Sentinels haven’t exactly gone so well for the Sentinels. Recall that Jeffries once used his mind to rip apart a Sentinel and used the debris to make a superharpoon to kill another Sentinel in Alpha Flight #43. Remember also that he made a lightning gun out of a model T to blast a Sentinel apart in Uncanny X-Men #512. Basically, there’s just no other super-powered guy you’d want around to take out a Sentinel, seeing as how his technomorph powers could easily destroy one with a single thought.

This situation is different though, because the nascent Sentinel is forming at a rate faster than he can destroy it. Even Wolverine, who appears to be in full berserker mode trashing the Sentinel’s brain directly can’t keep up with it. Later, when Cyclops eye-blasts the Sentinel with full force, it just repairs itself and keeps coming. Alan Davis draws Jeffries with his hands out as if he were using his powers to rip apart the machine, but he actually is trying to communicate technopathically with it, perhaps in an attempt to control it – a smart move since no one seems able to stop it. Jeffries has used this technopathy power before, notably in Alpha Flight #87 when he communicated with the Roxxon computers to discover that James MacDonald Hudson was trapped inside, as well as other instances more recently communicating with smaller devices such as a coffee machine and a digital camera, but honestly, Alpha Flight Collector would just as soon have Jeffries rip the Sentinel apart than try to open a hailing frequency with it.

Then, the Sentinel zaps Nemesis and Jeffries with a “ZZZZKKT” lightning blast, knocking them back but not out. Wow, Jeffries actually lasts an entire issue without losing consciousness!

Although writer Jason Aaron sort of muddled up Jeffries’ power in this issue by making him into more of a technopath (someone who communicates with machines) than a technomorph (someone who can change the form of a machine), he did it in a plausibly explainable way, and ended up putting Jeffries into a heroic role. Madison succeeds in making technopathic contact with the Sentinel and woozily calls out to Cyclops that it’s coming to Utopia, giving the X-Men time to prepare for the attack, and possibly saving everyone’s life on the island, again.

Note: Northstar and Aurora had recently been in the Red Sea, dealing with a malfunctioning Sentinel as seen in X-Men: Schism #2, but when the Cuckoos roll off the list of teams dealing with malfunctioning Sentinels, they aren’t mentioned.

Note: this issue has a variant cover by Frank Cho, which is part of a larger 5-part poster featuring nearly every X-Man and tons of cleavage, and an X-printing variant, which is a sketch variant of that variant, also featuring tons of cleavage.

X-Men: Schism #4 – Frank Cho variant
X-Men: Schism #4 – X Printing variant

orthstar and urora on X-Men: Schism #3 variants

April 7, 2012

X-Men: Schism #3 – Cho variant
Oct 2011

Northstar and Aurora appear on the variant cover by Frank Cho, the third part of a five-part interlocking image released for the five-issue X-Men: Schism series, and then re-released later as a set of “X-Print” variants, which were uncolored sketch variants of the same. They appear as regular members of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 (Northstar) and X-Men: Secret Invasion #2 (Aurora).

It’s really a shame that they didn’t appear inside, as this was the best of the five books in X-Men: Schism, and one of the best comics released by Marvel in 2011 without “Alpha Flight” in the title. Daniel Acuña’s detailed painted style was just so perfect in this issue – so much so that I actually read the entire thing even though no one from Alpha Flight was in it.

The original pencils for this five-part poster was released as promotional image in early April 2011. Not everyone fell in love with the image, which does have its flaws. It does show the twins with pointy ears, so that’s a big plus, but I doubt Frank Cho got the memo that Northstar and Aurora are related as brother and sister because that pose is just wrong.

If you click on the image, you can see the full-sized pencils, which have tick marks along the top and bottom edges to show the breaks between the issues, and unfortunately, Northstar and Aurora are bisected by one of the breaks.

Here is what you’d expect to see if the tick marks were used strictly as a guide, with issue #2 shaded in dark red and issue #3 unshaded. At the time, fans didn’t know where the actual borders would be between the two issues, and just fraction of an inch (that’s 1-2 millimeters for you metric folk) would make a difference.

The official Marvel solicit for this issue offered in May 2011 (for August 2011) was accompanied by an image of the central panel offset to the right so as to include Northstar and Aurora completely.

It was a strange offering in the first place because we knew it would not be the regular cover. Daniel Acuña had been announced as the artist for this issue long back and we knew this was the variant cover and not the actual cover. It was also strange because it’s very clear that Frank Cho intended for Colossus to be in the dead center, so whoever put out this asymmetrical image purposefully shifted it to include the twins. It’s not uncommon for the images released with solicits to differ from the actual cover art so we just had to wait. An inset from the asymmetrical solicit shows almost both of them with the exception of Northstar’s right shoulder, but just about a complete image.

This is the image we were hoping would be found on the left edge of the variant cover.

Unfortunately, when the Cho variant for X-Men: Schism #2 was released in July 2011, we only got Northstar’s right arm, part of his head (including his ear) and Aurora’s right forearm on the extreme right edge as predicted by those tick marks on the original pencils, so we knew the variant for issue #3 would show the bisected remainder.

X-Men: Schism #3 – X Printing variant

When the X-Print variants were released in November of 2011, we got a bit of a break. The cover images were letterboxed, compressing the image vertically with black borders on top and bottom. This new aspect ratio was just enough to sneak more of Northstar’s face onto the very left edge. A side-by side comparison of insets taken from the Cho variant (left) and the X-Printing (right) shows this a bit better.

But look closer. You know where to look. If you still can’t see it, try comparing the original pencils of Aurora (left) to the X-Print version of Aurora (right) and you’ll see the difference.

Can you spot the difference?

The bizarre gigantic nipple on Jeanne-Marie’s right boob has been removed. Call it an improvement or not, whichever you prefer, but in any case, these things do not go unnoticed on Alpha Flight Collector!

Northstar and Aurora do… uh, something… in X-Men: Schism #2

March 26, 2012

X-Men: Schism #2
Sep 2011

Just as the massive Fear Itself crossover was ending, Cyclops and Wolverine finally decided they’ve had just about enough of each other’s shit, and it all comes to a head in the five-issue X-Men: Schism series. This mini-series resulted in the splitting of the X-Men into two teams with one team staying in San Francisco and the other going back to Westchester, NY. It also brought about the end (and subsequent restart) of Uncanny X-Men – one of the longest running titles in comic book history, and began yet another Wolverine title, so as far as X-events go, this had a fairly substantial aftermath. Northstar and Aurora appear as regular members of the X-Men in one panel, and on two variant covers.

Wait, what? Aurora? For those of you scratching your heads, remember that Aurora joined the X-Men in X-Men: Secret Invasion #2 (2008), as revealed in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Hardcover #13. When Northstar was asked to re-join the active roster by Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men #508, Aurora was already a member, though no mention was made of it at the time. Subsequent appearances of Aurora in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3 and as COO of Team Northstar Extreme Snowsports in Nation X #2 made no mention of her X-Men membership either. Even when Alpha Flight was rebuilding in Chaos War and during the overlapping storyline of Fear Itself in Alpha Flight v4, she was still on the X-roster, so this little appearance is the result of a fairly well-researched job on the part of series writer Jason Aaron.

As part of a wave of anti-mutant sentiment, the world’s nations re-activate their Sentinels, only to find many of them malfunctioning. The X-Men send tactical squads across the world to deal with the threat, as coordinated on Utopia by Cyclops, Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos. One of the Cuckoos telepathically calls out to the twins:

Northstar and Aurora, your targets have just sunk a fishing boat in the Red Sea. Coordinates are as follows…

For those of you who were reading Alpha Flight comics instead of paying attention in Geography class, the Red Sea is nowhere near Utopia – it is in fact halfway around the world off the coast of Africa, so it makes sense to dispatch two of the fastest mutants there. Unfortunately, what they do when they get there isn’t exactly clear…

When Frank Cho isn’t drawing cleavage, he just doesn’t know what to do, I suppose. If only the front of Aurora’s costume had a zipper going down the front so he could draw some gigantic massive boobs, we would have seen an actual battle scene. Unfortunately, there’s no zipper, so all we get is Northstar’s feet and Aurora’s butt along with some blurry lines and pretty sparklies.

This speedster battlefail should remind readers of Greg Land’s silly dance scene between Northstar and Spiral in Uncanny X-Men #511. Like that battle, the reader is left to assume victory despite the inability of the artist to portray it.

Note: Aurora does have some sort of lightning blast powers, and so does Northstar, as explained in a caption in Alpha Flight #119 when Aurora blasted the Wrecker with lightning:

That’s the other side to the twins. A side Northstar seems to bury. They generate light energy, wielding it as blinding or concussive force. It’s Aurora’s forte.

Note: this issue was published interstitial to Alpha Flight v4 issues #2 and #3, but likely takes place after the series end or briefly during the series with no concerns to continuity given the twins’ ability to instantly respond and return.

Note: this issue has a variant cover by Frank Cho, which is part of a larger 5-part poster featuring nearly every X-Man and tons of cleavage. Northstar and Aurora are depicted in the seam between the second and third parts, so all we get is Northstar’s right arm, part of his head (pointy ear included!) and Aurora’s right forearm on this cover. There is also a Second printing variant featuring interior art by Frank Cho, a Third printing sketch variant and an X printing variant, which is a sketch variant of the first variant, also featuring Northstar’s right arm, part of his head and Aurora’s right forearm.

X-Men: Schism #2 – Frank Cho Variant
X-Men: Schism #2 – Second Printing Variant
X-Men: Schism #2 – Third Printing Variant
X-Men: Schism #2 – X Printing Variant