Category Archives: X-Men

X-Men: The Arcade Game – theme vs mechanics

X-Men is one of the most popular beat-em-up games to have ever existed in the arcade. It helps that the game featured one of the most well known comic book teams and was often housed in arcade cabinets allowing 6-player simultaneous gameplay, but a bad game wouldn’t have managed to muster the staying power this game had. Actually, I should say has, as the game continued on in the minds of players who encountered it in the early 90’s. When perfect translations of arcade games starting finding their way onto home consoles, X-Men was one of the ones people were most eager to see.

In revisiting it on the Playstation 3, I found myself transported back to a more simple time in video game history. While each of the six characters – Cyclops, Wolverine, Dazzler, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler – were individuated by design, animation and the effect of his or her power, every character played almost exactly the same way. The point of the game, for the most part, was to clear the screen of enemies and move to the right. There was a story to follow, sure, but it’s not one that needed to be followed. Save Kitty Pryde and Charles Xavier from Magneto and other characters were comically made blatantly evil. Sometimes it seems like the game lampshades just how evil it made the characters, although this is made worse by the horrible translation. Magneto spouts some very infamous lines, but none more than, “X-Men, welcome to die!”

In retrospect, that’s pretty polite. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers vs X-Men

This year’s Marvel summer event was Avengers vs X-Men, a series of missed opportunities and character derailment. Early interviews with those involved said that this event was supposed to finally lock the X-Men into the proper Marvel Universe instead of in their own bubble of experience. While that mission has certainly been accomplished, the execution certainly could have used some work. This series is probably the ultimate example of a plot driving the characters instead of the other way around. Read the rest of this entry

New Mutants – help is hard

New Mutants is quickly becoming my second favorite X-title, right behind X-Factor. It started a few issues back when Cyclops decided that the team should be used to tie up loose ends. Not only does this put the younger X team in a position for interesting stories that confront plot holes, but it also marked a stylistic shift toward more concise writing. You can’t have a book devoted to tightening things up that simultaneously makes such errors itself. I think the writing team knew that.

Issue 28 struck exactly the right chord with me. I’ve always wondered what a (somewhat) realistic therapist would make of characters in comics. In walks Gus Grim, a horribly named therapist described by Emma Frost as both a “cowboy and an Indian.” The narrative tone of the issue with definitely humorous, but that was stricken with some poignancy. Grim appears to use a variant form of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.I always thought the most concise summation of the practice was, “Get over yourself.” Grim would agree. Read the rest of this entry

X-Men: First Class – racial tensions

Only white people need apply. Or blue if you're white underneath or spend most of your time looking white.

My displeasure with the rest of the X-Men film franchise almost led me to not seeing X-Men: First Class, despite the early good reviews. Social stimulation brought me out to see it, and I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, it did not make up for the Wolverine-centered focus in the first three films, the utter banality of X-Men, the almost good film ruined by a completely ridiculously stupid ending that was X-2 (seriously, the X-Men are trained to be a team, so it doesn’t make sense that Jean Gray would fight a tidal wave by herself when Storm can send a strong wind against it, Iceman can freeze water, and Cyclops’ blasts are actually a physical force…), the complete miss that was X-Men 3, or the existence of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But it was a clever movie in that it was a period piece and mixed a tiny bit of the spy genre into the plot. It almost made the film seem classy.

Almost. Read the rest of this entry