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Acts of Vengeance: Uncanny X-Men – Wolverine, Jubilee & Psylocke vs. The Mandarin (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

In celebration of the release of The Avengers, this weekend we’re taking a look at the massive 1989-90 crossover “Acts of Vengeance”, which pitted various villains against some unlikely heroes. I’ll be looking at some of the most fun match-ups. This arc is collected in the companion omnibus.

I know that a lot of people would argue that Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men sort of lost the plot a bit after Inferno, when he first sent the team to live in the Outback and then sent them through the Siege Perilous, essentially disintegrating the iconic superhero team and scattering its members to the wind with little idea of who or what they are. I, for the record, actually quite liked that period of Uncanny X-Men history, if only because it was so breathtakingly ambitious and completely unlike anything I ever expected in a superhero team book.

Detractors would, not unreasonably, suggest that there was a very good reason that Claremont’s approach was completely distinct from anything ever tried in a superhero team book. However, most of those who decry that era of Uncanny X-Men will concede that there were some highlights to be found. The Acts of Vengeance tie-ins, featuring the wonderful artwork of Jim Lee, are among the more widely-praised of Claremont’s work in this era, and I find it quite tough to disagree.

Big Trouble in Big China…

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The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. I (Review)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is, like most works from writer Alan Moore, a strange beast. Essentially a pulp comic book narrative banding together several iconic fictional characters from Victorian fiction (Allan Quartermain, Mina Murray, Captain Nemo, Hawley Griffin and Edward Jekyll form the main cast), the series is much more than that. Cleverly and insidious cross-referencing and weaving its way through a slew of existing fictional and non-fictional elements. I spent as much time googling a rake of obscure and semi-obscure names and events and locations, all tying back to the great authors at the turn of the last century. How ironic that a pulpy Victorian tale would be perhaps the first classic of the internet age.

Nothing to Hyde...

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The Mandarin Candidate: Legacies From A By-Gone Era

Jon Favreau has effectively confirmed that “the Mandarin” will be the villain for Iron Man 3. Of course, the fact that this particular opponent has been the character’s arch nemesis means that we would have expected him on celluloid long before this – most superhero movies take great joy in using the archnemesis for the original film, after all (Batman Begins managed to just about do without the Joker, but arguably only because he’d already done Batman). Part of the reason it may have taken so long to transition this particular character to the big screen may have something to do with his origins: essentially the character is a yellow peril villain (as the name implies), who was arguably long out of date when he was introduced, let alone now. Favreau has, diplomatically, acknowledged that the character is going to take great care to get ready for a film role, and it got us thinking: how do we deal with long term and iconic characters who may reflect concepts that we aren’t particularly comfortable with right now?

Yep, this doesn't conjure up any unfortunate implications at all...

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