Wednesday, April 26, 2017

FEUD: Psylocke and Shadow King

With the imminent launch of the new Astonishing X-Men, Psylocke will face the Shadow King again. These two have crossed paths many times before. Their feud has only grown over time, turning it into something personal. Has the Shadow King become Betsy’s greatest enemy?

Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #273
When Jean Grey attempted to use Cerebro to track some former X-Men on the Astral Plane, she was attacked by the Shadow King. Psylocke entered the Astral Plane and was forced to use her psi-knife on Jean to free her. Upon returning to the real world, neither woman was sure who their foe was or what he really wanted.

Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #278-280, X-Factor (Vol. 1) #69
After warnings from Forge and Banshee, a team of X-Men – including Psylocke – decided to investigate Muir Island, whose inhabitants have been taken over by the Shadow King, but they were soon captured. Psylocke was among the many mutants possessed by the Shadow King. Forge defeated Betsy and used her psychic knife on Polaris, who was being used as a nexus between the physical world and the Astral Plane by Farouk. His power source destroyed, the Shadow King was ripped apart.

X-Men (Vol. 2) #77-78
Years later, after the Onslaught incident, Farouk was able to return. Posing as "Ananasi", the Shadow King took over the African tribe who worshiped Storm. Psylocke took to the Astral Plane to fight him, but ended up falling into his trap. Betsy accidentally caused a chain reaction that crippled the psionic plan itself, damaging the collective subconscious of every being on Earth, especially those born with psionic abilities. Psylocke's astral form was destroyed as Farouk ascended to dominance. While the Shadow King began to corrupt mankind, the Crimson Dawn saved Psylocke once more, assigning her the ability to command the shadows of the Psionic Plane. Once Farouk sensed Betsy's presence, he stretched his powers to the maximum to infect every mind on Earth. Psylocke discovered that the Shadow King had left his nexus exposed and used her shadows to contain it. Psylocke trapped the Shadow King, focusing her telepathy on him, which prevented her from using her telepathic abilities again.

Wolverine (Vol. 2) #147
Sometime later, when Psylocke was forced to use Cerebro to reach and cleanse Wolverine and Archangel of the Death persona, the Shadow King eventually managed to convince Betsy to release him so she could help both men. As Psylocke was ready to embrace the Shadow King, Warren stopped her. After that encounter, Betsy turned off Cerebro, imprisoning Farouk again.

X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001
The Shadow King was eventually released from his prison when Psylocke perished in combat with the mutant hunter, Vargas. Once again free, he possessed the Reavers and attempted to attack the X-Men. However, Rogue used her strength of will to stop the Shadow King and imprison him, like Psylocke did before.

New Excalibur #8, #19
After Psylocke was resurrected by Jamie Braddock, she visited her twin brother Captain Britain in England and faced the Shadow King once more. Farouk explained that when Psylocke died, her consciousness was pulled by the strings of reality itself and part of him managed to escape to another universe where he possessed an alternate version of Charles Xavier. The Scarlet Witch's Decimation Wave enabled the Shadow King to return to Earth-616, seeking revenge on Betsy. Immune to his control, Psylocke telekinetically induced a stroke in Xavier's body. However, before she could finish him off, Betsy was interdimensionally teleported to the Crystal Palace at the Nexus of All Realities. Farouk was later defeated by Lionheart, who killed his host’s body, sending him back to the Astral Plane.

Uncanny X-Force (Vol. 1) #8, #10
The Shadow King later resurfaced in Wakanda, where his plans were foiled by Storm and the Panther God, Bast. Sometime later, X-Force investigated a nuclear facility, from where Psylocke sensed strange psionic readings. Betsy easily uncovered the enemy the Shadow King, who engaged her in battle on the Astral Plane. Farouk released the Archangel persona from the psychic prison in Warren's mind to exact revenge on Psylocke. The Shadow King hoped to use Warren to launch nukes at Utopia, a haven for mutantkind. Archangel slayed the Shadow King on the Astral Plane and killed a soldier at the military facility, even though said soldier was no longer possessed by Farouk. The Shadow King later gave a reporter a USB containing images of Archangel, and X-Force, acting as assassins, hoping to expose the black ops team.

Uncanny X-Force (Vol. 1) #26-27, #32-35
The Shadow King later joined Daken’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in a plot to attack the X-Force. Psylocke was psychically attacked by Farouk, who played with her weaknesses and insecurities, however Fantomex used his psi-shielded mask to break Farouk’s mind control over her. When X-Force faced the Brotherhood again, the Shadow King attacked Betsy on the Astral Plane, reminding her how he promised to tear her life apart. Psylocke manifested the sum of her psionic might and the Shadow King fell. Betsy decided not to kill him, which Farouk used as an opportunity to shatter her psyche. In the physical world, Betsy used Omega White to drain the Shadow King’s psychic essence and trap him. Psylocke later asked her brother, Captain Britain, to keep the imprisoned Shadow King in Otherworld.

Nightcrawler (Vol. 4) #8-10
Brian Braddock sealed the Shadow King's host body in a tomb in the Gobi Desert where it was eventually found in stasis erroneously trapped inside Omega Black's body by the Crimson Pirates and unwittingly released by their telepath, Bloody Bess. Bess appealed to Nightcrawler for help, and alongside Kurt, fought the Pirates and the X-Men, who were controlled by the Shadow King – including Psylocke. Once Bess broke the Shadow King’s control over Betsy, both women sent Nightcrawler against Farouk on the Astral Plane armed with Psylocke's psi-blade, which stunned him long enough to be interred again in Omega Black's body.

Astonishing X-Men (Vol. 4)
The Shadow King returns! The ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds, one by one, twisting reality. A band of X-Men – Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Rogue, Gambit and Mystique – discovers the truth behind the threat and will try to save the world.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Self-Aware Mutants and The Shadow King – The Marvel ResurrXion Panel At C2E2 The newest X-Men book, Astonishing X-Men, will be written by Charles Soule, coming out in July 2017, drawn by Jim Cheung on the first issue. Future artwork will be by Ron Garney, Phil Noto, Greg Land, and many more. Soule said that he’s worked with some of these folks before, and he asks himself what an artist needs in order to do well, script-wise, and he’s trying to do that. With Cheung, who excels at epic feeling and realism, the first issue heads that way. Set in London, intense real-world situations open the first issue, like a James Bond film, Soule said.

The first big villain of the series is The Shadow King, Soule announced, with some art shown. It was a “happy accident” that he also appeared in Legion, but in the comics he’s the first mutant Xavier encountered who was “mean”. Xavier engaged in a “mental battle” with him, and it was an eye-opener to Charles Xavier that bad guys existed, and prompted Charles to start his school to train mutants. But he’s also an “ancient force of darkness” and “chaos”. He resides on the Astral Plane. The Shadow King starts to “twist reality”. The book is “like a puzzle box” and you aren’t supposed to always know what’s happening. Issue one jumps around between locations and characters based on this.

Soule really wanted real cities to be involved, with human settlement, hence London. There’s a “giant purple psychic butterfly” on the Shard, for instance. Soule said that characters have to fight on the astral plane, and the way to “win” on the astral plane is odd–it’s about making “your version of reality” win out. Soule says that he uses “weaponized nostalgia” for fans, hitting on key elements from the past, but that’s not the only thing the story does, turning instead to new territory. The cast for the book are each “very different” in the way they approach conflicts so that enables him to “run the soap opera of the X-Men in different way”.

Friday, April 21, 2017

C2E2 2017: Marvel's RESURRXION Panel

In July, “Astonishing X-Men” arrives from Charles Soule and artist Jim Cheung for issue #1, though the panel said that each new issue will have a different artist including ACO, Phil Noto, Greg Land, Ramon Rosanas and Ron Garney on tap for the future.

Soule revealed that an upcoming issue will feature the return of TV star Amahl Farouk AKA the Shadow King as drawn by Dale Keown. The writer said he was enticed by the idea that the human form of the character was the first evil mutant Charles Xavier encountered and therefore his inspiration for the formation of the X-Men. “He’s this incredibly ancient force of darkness – kind of a dream demon,” the writer said of the Shadow King entity, which will attack the X-Men during their London-based adventure. “The book is a puzzle box, and you’re not supposed to know where everything is going.”

But before that story arrives, fans will get to meet the new team consisting of the likes of Old Man Logan, Mystique, Fantomex and Psylocke. “I can run the soap opera of the X-Men in different ways by looking at each of them as their archetype,” said Soule. He used the example of Bishop as a man who’s lived through several apocalypses. Guggenheim praised his fellow writer for introducing each of the characters by their core personalities in this new series. Soule said that his goal was to make this a book for people who didn’t want to know anything else about who these characters are before they meet them on the page.

  • "The story open in London. Something really intense happens and the X-Men show up and try to fix it."
  • The series will kick off with an issue of intense action before opening up.
  • The mysterious returning villain is Shadow King.
  • Soule talked about Shadow King's history as one of the first evil mutants Charles Xavier encountered.
  • He called the character's inclusion in FX's Legion a "happy accident."
  • Soule called the title a "puzzle box," saying the ever changing nature of the Shadow King's home realm of the Astral Plane means that reality will always be in question.
  • "I think the best X-Men stories are the ones where they're not only saving the world, but trying to convince everyone that they ARE saving the world."
  • Soule talked about Fantomex's role in the story, saying "it gets really weird," with Fantomex constantly questioning his reality.
  • "It's super hard to write, I'm not gonna lie," Soule confessed.
  • The story will visit many points in X-Men history via the Astral Plane. Soule called it "weaponized nostalgia," using the mechanic to convey emotions and ideas.
  • Soule called the line up "incredibly badass," and "incredibly different."
  • Soule talked about Bishop, with Guggenheim calling Soule's take on the character "incredibly poetic."
  • Bishop is constantly looking for the signs of his future coming to pass, trying to prevent it.
  • "I want it to feel like a big, massive X-book. We're swinging for the fences."
  • Soule said Gambit and Fantomex will have a "buddy thieves" dynamic.
  • "The last page is gonna break the internet," said Chris D'Lando from Marvel's marketing department.

Astonishing X-Men: Game Plans This July, Charles Soule joins a series of the industry’s best artists as they prepare to unleash ASTONISHING X-MEN! Last month, we spoke with the writer about his upcoming work on the series relaunch after its four-year hiatus, and now we return to try and pry some extra details from him about what he and his collaborators have in store for not only readers but also this brand new configuration of the X-Men. Charles, last month the news broke that you’d be spearheading the re-launch of ASTONISHING X-MEN. From those early news releases, we learned you’d be taking readers to “all corners of the X-Men mythology” according to Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso. Can you shed a little light on what this means for both new and long-time fans of mutantkind?

Charles Soule: I don’t want to give away too much of the story yet, because ASTONISHING X-MEN is designed to work as a series of reveals. Every time you think you know what’s happening, the script gets flipped a bit, usually around the last page of each issue. It’s like a puzzle box: part of the fun is figuring it all out. That said the book does do a lot with what I think of as X-Men touchstones—significant events in the lore, characters new and old—but rarely the way you think. I call it “weaponized nostalgia.” It’s all explained and laid out, though. Even if you’ve never read an X-Men comic before, it’ll just work as a fun adventure. I understand you’re looking to make this book just as much of an “entry-point” title for newer readers as it will be a satisfying experience for long-time fans of these characters. How do you strike that balance between seemingly opposite readerships?

Charles Soule: Not easily! But really, it’s about making sure that (a) each character’s powers are clearly noted or explained when they first appear, (b) writing them like real people who act towards each other the way they should based on their respective histories, and (c) having “nostalgia” or “homage” bits work in and of themselves. Like, if you see someone look at a photo of another character and get sad, that works for someone who knows exactly why they’re sad, but also someone who doesn’t, if it’s written correctly. I’m spending a lot of time on this specific aspect of the book. I don’t think you should need a degree in X-Men-ology to enjoy X-Men comics, but I think having that degree should enhance your enjoyment. If we don’t talk about the art, then we’re not talking comics! And this particular series will be taking a rather unique approach to the visuals. Can you walk us through the genesis behind the choice to introduce a new artist with each issue and why you and Marvel as a whole felt this was the strongest way to tell the story you’ll be sharing in ASTONISHING X-MEN?

Charles Soule: Well, again, there’s a story conceit I don’t really want to spoil yet, but I think it will work really well, in part because Marvel is staffing the series with an incredible batch of artists. We start off with Jim Cheung and just go from there, all amazing—or…astonishing, even. I’m tailoring each script to each artist’s strengths, to the extent I can. It’s pretty exciting for me, sort of a high-wire act, to make sure each artist gets what they need to draw a great issue but the overarching story gets served as well. Again, not easy, but fun. Although this is a series that you’re structuring to appeal to both new and old readers, I understand you’re dipping deep into the archives of the X-Men’s rogues’ gallery in raising The Shadow King to the forefront as the initial “Big Bad,” and someone who fans could even credit as being the original inspiration for Xavier’s creation of the team. What made him the right choice for you when it came to launching this new series?

Charles Soule: The Shadow King was the first “evil” mutant Charles Xavier ever encountered, and as we saw way back in UNCANNY X-MEN #117 in 1979, he’s essentially the reason Xavier decided to train up other mutants to fight emerging threats in the world. The nice thing about The Shadow King is that he resides in a place called the astral plane, which is sort of a dream dimension where anything anyone imagines can become real. So, battles there tend to be about willpower; the person who can impose their reality on their opponents, force them to believe in whatever situation they’re projecting onto them, tends to win. In ASTONISHING, we’ll see some fantastic set pieces built around that idea, some of which will tie into signature past events from X-Men history. It’s not all backwards-looking, though. This is a story that moves the X-Men forward in a huge way. Although you’ve certainly worked with your fair share of mutants in your time at Marvel, Charles, I believe your time with this particular group is more limited, no? What aspects of these characters made them the right ones to engage in this journey?

Charles Soule: That’s correct. Except for Mystique, I’ve never really written any of this group to any real degree, unless you count Old Man Logan and Wolverine as the same character; they’re not, although of course there are similarities. I like this cast because it gives me an immense amount to work with as far as their interpersonal relationships. Rogue and Gambit have a long history together, romantic and otherwise. Mystique raised Rogue for a while. Fantomex and Angel have both been linked with Psylocke. Old Man Logan probably killed all of these folks back in his own universe. And on and on it goes. The power set is varied, they’re all super cool in different ways—it’s a rich stew, and I feel like I can do a ton with it. I should also say that the eight characters on the cover of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 are not the only X-Men that will appear in the series, but they’re definitely the leads. Before we wrap up, I want to lob one “fastball special” your way. There’s always a concern among comic book fans about consequences. With a new series launch, we expect a certain amount of bombast, but what sort of consequences have you baked into the story you’re preparing to launch? In what ways does this story not only matter, but why is it one that’s going to be a “must read” for X-Men fans of all kinds and varieties?

Charles Soule: I think that will all be made clear on the last page of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1. I think I’m known for writing a certain kind of X-book, after DEATH OF WOLVERINE, DEATH OF X and IVX. ASTONISHING X-MEN is no exception. If people want consequences, they’ll get ‘em.

Charles Soule and the top artistic talent in the comics industry bring you ASTONISHING X-MEN, beginning in July!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

X-Solicits for July 2017

Astonishing X-Men #1
Charles Soule (W) • Jim Cheung (A/C)
Variant Cover by: Artgerm
Variant Cover by: John Cassaday
Character Variant Cover by: Terry Dodson
Villain Variant Cover by: Dale Keown
Remastered Variant Cover by: Jim Lee
Action Figure Variant Cover by: John Tyler Christopher
ONLY THE X-MEN CAN SAVE US! An ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds. It will have them by: the time you finish this sentence, and a moment later, it will have us all. A band of X-MEN discovers the truth behind the threat, but there is no time left. PSYLOCKE, OLD MAN LOGAN, BISHOP, ARCHANGEL, FANTOMEX, ROGUE and GAMBIT will attempt to save a world that hates and fears them. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE THE X-MEN. From blockbuster writer CHARLES SOULE and joined by: a roster of superstar artists beginning with JIM CHEUNG. ASTONISHING X-MEN. It’s the X-book you need.

X-Men Blue #7
Cullen Bunn (W) • Cory T. Smith (A)
Cover by: Arthur Adams
Variant Cover by: David Lopez
X-Men Trading Card Variant Cover by: Jim Lee
Secret Empire Tie-In!
How will our intrepid heroes react to this new world order? Will MARVEL GIRL, CYCLOPS, ANGEL, ICEMAN and BEAST be overwhelmed by: HYDRA? I really hope not!

X-Men Blue #8
Cullen Bunn (W) • Cory T. Smith (A)
Cover by: Arthur Adams
Secret Empire Tie-In!
EMMA FROST! She’s back…and badder than ever.

X-Men Gold #7
Marc Guggenheim (W) • Ken Lashley (A/C)
X-Men Trading Card Variant Cover by: Jim Lee
Secret Empire Tie-In!
When Manhattan is besieged, the X-Men open their doors and repurpose their school as a safe haven for any human or mutant in need of sanctuary. But little do they know that one of the humans they’ve welcomed in is the all-new X-CUTIONER! And he’s about to make the Xavier Institute the last place mutants want to be…

X-Men Gold #8
Marc Guggenheim (W) • Ken Lashley (A)
Cover by: Ardian Syaf
Secret Empire Tie-In!
The Xavier Institute is on lockdown. But the X-Men haven’t succeeded in keeping danger out. Instead, they’ve just locked themselves inside with it. Can the X-Men stop the all-new X-CUTIONER before he claims any more of their number?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Marvel Turns Jim Lee’s Old X-Men Trading Cards Into Variant Covers For July

CBR: To celebrate the upcoming “Astonishing X-Men” series, Marvel Comics is releasing X-Men trading card-style variant covers, featuring the artwork of Jim Lee. For the month of July, you’ll be able to get your hands on updated versions of classic Jim Lee/X- Men artwork.

“Remastered and recolored from the original trading cards, relive this iconic era of the Children of the Atom with a series of eye-popping covers,” an official press release reads. “Originally penciled by legendary X-Men artist Jim Lee with inker Scott Williams, colorists such as Jesus Aburtov, Israel Silva & Chris Sotomayor apply modern coloring techniques to these classic masterpieces!”

Take a look at the Psylocke Variant Cover on the right, which will grace the cover to Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2 next July.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

#tbt: X-Men Annual #2 – The Revanche Saga, Chapter 7

#tbt: X-Men Annual #2 – Pyro explains that the island is going to be a haven, a refuge for the dying - and then reveals that is why he has come here, because he has contracted the Legacy Virus. The Beast points out that Chambers is an energy vampire, and argues with Toad. Pyro makes it clear that he wants to stay on the island and let Chambers use his powers on him, as it alleviates his pain, before Revanche tells the X-Men that they should leave, as it is not their place to get involved in the decisions of Pyro and Chambers - and she knows best because, like Pyro, she reveals that she also has the Legacy Virus. Chambers assures the X-Men that he merely wants to offer afflicted mutants comfort, and as the X-Men prepare to leave, Gyrich reveals his presence, announcing that they believe illegal activities are being perpetrated on people against their will. Cyclops hesitates, before confirming that nothing illegal is taking place on the island. Chambers has some harsh words for Gyrich, before Chambers invites Revanche to stay on the island. She declines his offer, and the X-Men warn Chambers to practice what he preaches. The X-Men then depart the island, leaving the Brotherhood behind. Written by Fabian Nicieza and Art by Aron Wiensenfeld. Read full summary here.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Psylocke Collectible To Be Released

X-Men Psylocke 4-Inch Diecast Metal Figure Diecast by Jada Toys is expected to go on sale Apr-May 2017. This item is an adult collectible designed for use by persons 14 years of age and older.