The Roundtable: One Hiatus Later

Once upon a time there was such a thing as 411 Comics and in that magical place a groovy cat by the name of Ben Morse started a feature known as The Roundtable. Ben liked definitive articles.

Then, one day, Ben went and got a job with the all-powerful Wizard. The Roundtable passed into the hands of another groovy fellow, one who did not want to refer to himself as a ‘cat’, Iain Burnside. By this point, 411 Comics had died and been reborn as the Comics Nexus right here on Inside Pulse (thumbs-up-cheap-pop).

However, bogged down by the weight of Infinite Ms and Disassembled Crises and strangely serene silence from Jesse Baker, The Roundtable grew tired of itself and, after thirty-five instalments, decided to take a break.

Then, lots of you asked to get it back.

Then, we listened.

Now, The Roundtable is awake again and as definitive as ever.

Just so you know, it won’t be here every week. One of the problems facing it towards the end of the last run was that there often really wasn’t that much to discuss. This time, depending on the big stories doing the rounds, we’re aiming for a monthly edition and going with the tangential flow of the conversation.

We’ve also narrowed the contributors down to a few choice volunteers so, without further ado… roll out the red carpet for the ravishing, riveting and regrettably regularly reprimanded roster of Roundtable reprobates!

– We don’t know where he is! Have you seen JESSE BAKER?

– He’s anti-everything bar talking about himself in the third person… he is IAIN BURNSIDE!

– Go to the forums and come up with a first name for COREN!

– His knowledge of the DCU is second only to Dan DiDio’s moustache – yes, it’s MATHAN ERHARDT!

– There’s not an Irish dancing girl alive that wouldn’t want to not cuddle JAMIE HATTON!

– No matter the job, none come better equipped than ANDY LOGAN!

– Editor, Reviewer and all-round Cinema God, this is KEVIN MAHONEY!

– He has the majority of the authority when it comes to the minority, he is JEFF RITTER!

– The only questionable thing about his wisdom is how he can have so much of it… oh yes, it’s PAUL SEBERT!

– Some know him as TV’s Michael Rosenbaum, but his parents still call him TIM STEVENS!

And, last but not least, the man who is so far ahead of the curve that he’s anything but straight – the fantastic MANOLIS VAMVOUNIS!

Here we go again…

IAIN: Marvel’s Premiere HCs are a waste of time. Check out the August
solicitations
. I’m definitely interested in getting trades of Nextwave, but there’s no way I’m paying extra for the HC version unless it’s the oversized, twelve-issue kind that usually comes with some nifty extras to boot. For a bog-standard six-issues, I’d rather just get a TPB version instead. Unfortunately, as with Young Avengers, New Avengers and other titles, both the regular TPB and any possible oversized HC have been delayed by the strange notion that selling these Premiere HCs is a good idea. Releasing Kraven’s Last Hunt in the format is completely unfathomable, since it doesn’t even merit the ‘Premiere’ term. Give me one or the other but don’t piss about with worthless halfway measures. And what’s with the re-released Daredevil vol. 1 HC, complete with an extra issue, additional extras and, most worrying of all, “now including corrections”? Um, what??

TIM: I’ll agree with the silliness of releasing six issues of “normal” issues in a hardcover (as opposed to a groundbreaking arc or miniseries) is a bad idea. I can go along with trades from every six or so issues of every book, but hardcovers should be saved for the stuff that really matters. However, I’m puzzled about you singling out Kraven’s Last Hunt, the only thing on the list I could understand giving a hardcover treatment to as it was both groundbreaking and damn pretty.

IAIN: I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kraven’s Last Hunt, though I’ve never actually read it, but the format still doesn’t make much sense. If they just want to keep the story in print, go for a regular TPB. If they want to do a super-shiny, all-hail-Xenu version, then go for an oversized HC. Hell, Marvel Zombies got one.

JEFF: I’m not a big fan of Hardcovers in general. I think the industry is pricing themselves out of their market. Kids can’t afford $20-$30 books and adults like me have too damn many bills to deal with. I don’t even know what Marvel means by “Premiere”. The solicitation for Nextwave is only for six issues and standard sized format. Near as I can tell there’s nothing special about it. I think if they’re going to give special treatment to a series it HAS to be something exemplary. Nextwave sure as Hell ain’t it. Immonen’s done a better job on almost every other project I’ve ever seen his name attached to, and Ellis isn’t doing anything special here. Spider-Woman: Origin wasn’t too bad but wasn’t so incredible as to warrant a “Premiere HC” edition. Kraven’s Last Hunt IS exactly the kind of story that deserves special treatment. The Death of Captain Marvel or Dr. Doom/Dr. Strange: Triumph and Torment are the kinds of deeply engrossing and aesthetically gorgeous works that deserve to be formatted and remastered along the lines of the deluxe Red Star or the Alex Ross “JLA” series of oversized graphic novels. I’d skip a gas payment for a $60 coffee table-sized 24k gold embossed hardcover of Kraven’s Last Hunt. I don’t mean the size that would fit on a coffee table, I mean that the whole flippin’ book WOULD BE the coffee table.

IAIN: The only new DC book worth reading out of all the One Year Later material is Shadowpact. Thankfully, it is very good fun indeed. ‘Nuff said.

TIM: Eh. Shadowpact #1 was…okay. Lots of setup. I mean lots. Even in our decompressed world, it was still a noteworthy amount of setup v. action relationship. I’m holding my breath for Secret Six which I’m expecting to be all sorts of great.

IAIN: Entertaining set-up though. C’mon, how can you not like Detective Chimp trying to come up with 12 good reasons to stop drinking and only making it up to 9? Not sure that I could even get that far…

JEFF: Haven’t read it yet, but out of the mostly lousy OYL stuff I enjoyed the Checkmate title the most so far. I still hold to some hope that Aquaman will find his sea legs, because we all need more Butch Guice like Bruce Dickinson needs more cowbell, baby.

IAIN: I’ve been avoiding X-Men 3 news and trailers. This isn’t some Anti-Ratner vibe; I’m doing the same thing with Superman Returns. I’d quite like to be able to go into the cinema, sit back, relax and watch it all unfold before my eyes without any preconceived ideas or very strong and spoilery hints. I do have Mystique wallpaper on my desktop though. I have many, many preconceived ideas for her. Ahem. Anyway, are you guys looking forward to X3 or has the very thought of anyone other than Bryan Singer directing it already soured the film for you?

TIM: I’m so committed to not spoiling X3 before time that I won’t even discuss it. So…that’s all.

LOGAN: I’m really looking forward to X-3. Yeah, it’s a bummer that Bryan Singer left, but Brett Ratner has shown in the past that he knows how to direct action set pieces, and some of the character work he did in Red Dragon was impressive, too, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve avoided spoilers, but I’ve seen the trailers, and it looks like there will be a good balance of character development and interaction combined with a hefty does of ass-kicking. Here’s hoping…

JEFF: I don’t see what the big deal is. Honestly. The original and much beloved Star Wars trilogy had 3 different directors and were all great (hey, you know you’d take a movie full of Wickets over the insipid Jar-Jar Binks any day). I liked the Rush Hour series. I don’t doubt that the X-Men will be a lot of fun. The only way Marvel could have screwed this up is if Joel Schumacher had got the job. Or maybe Lucas. I actually hold less faith for Singer’s Superman. But then I can’t believe that in this day and age they can’t tuck his damn underwear inside the tights. It’s SOOO retarded. And it wouldn’t hurt his “Icon” status. The “S”–on his chest, NOT his damn belt buckle–is his bread and butter for global recognition. Truth, Justice, and Fruit of the Looms! AWAY! Preferably for good. Put a kryptonite hollow point in his spit-curled brainpan and go make something interesting, like a Morena Baccarin Wonder Woman or something with the Green Lantern Corp. What’s the over and under on Jack Black being Guy Gardner?

IAIN: There are many entertaining comics at Marvel, but none of them are involved in the Civil War event. If I wanted to read a story where Mark Millar bastardised Marvel characters in order to ram his personal political views down our throats, then I’d go and read Ultimates instead.

TIM: It’s too early for me to say how I feel about Civil Way one way or another, but I will say that the bulk of what has me psyched at Marvel these days either won’t cross over with Civil War or has not yet.

LOGAN: Personally, I think Civil War started off well – yeah, I found the Captain America vs. Shield situation a bit forced, but the tension between the two of them has been building within the pages of New Avengers for a while, so it’s not come totally out of left field – I can live with it. I find the political aspect of the story intriguing. To me, a comic book that attempts to say something about society and that has a political agenda is interesting and thought provoking, even if I don’t agree with the political viewpoint in question. I like to be challenged and made to think, and that doesn’t happen nearly often enough in today’s “comic World”. If Civil War can invoke those emotions in me (even if those emotions are at odds with the message(s) that’s being put across) then I don’t consider it a bad thing. Just as there should be a large place on our newsstands and in the shops for comic books that are just plain fun and throwaway, there should be a place for those that have a message or something more serious to say, whether you agree with the message or not.

TIM: And here’s my own editorial statement for discussion. It’s sad to see The Thing get cancelled but Manhunter’s cancellation is a much bigger disappointment.

LOGAN: As far as cancellations go, the one that’s hit me the hardest is “Hard Time”. A genuinely original set-up, fresh, interesting characters and quirky art that fitted the story perfectly made it one of my favourite titles. I was gobsmacked the other day when my comic book retailer told me that I was the only person in his shop who ever bought Hard Time – and he has the only comic book shop in the entire City! A damn shame.

IAIN: Never got into Manhunter, but 25 issues for a book like that in today’s market isn’t all that bad really. Poor ol’ Benny didn’t even make it into double figures!

JEFF: In the immortal words of Mrs. Sheila Broflovski, “WhatwhatWHAT!?!?” I knew Manhunter was getting the axe, but they barely gave Benji a miniseries worth of time to build a following. Manhunter is one of the most consistently interesting comics DC puts out, and that’s saying a lot because frankly I don’t find myself getting too geeked up by all that much else. Birds of Prey, maybe JSA. By and large, all the good stuff is getting cancelled (Gotham Central) and replaced by utter crap (Battle for Bludhaven, Blue Beetle). As for the Mark Millar factor in Civil War, I wanted to read the book if only because I find it funny that Marvel and DC rip off each other’s ideas so much. Hero registration has been a topic in the DCU since the days of the Golden Age (depending on what continuity you follow) and the original Justice Society. Marvel is just now getting around to it? At least this isn’t as blatant as the Identity Disk miniseries Marvel tossed together to try and snag a few unwary readers from Identity Crisis. Millar is a no talent hack that has never had anything original to say. He aped Warren Ellis for years, ever since the Authority. And now he’s a puppet with Brian Bendis’ fist up his ass. At least Fabian Nicieza–he’s my favorite ya know–has his own voice. *Sigh*. How much better could Civil War be with someone like James Robinson or Ed Brubaker helming the whole project? The Bendisization of the Marvel Universe continues…if anyone needs me, I’ll be in Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme universe with the eXiles, waiting for all this to blow over.

IAIN: And let’s not forget Mark Millar aping Grant Morrison (Superman: Red Son, which turned out to be the best thing he’s ever “written”).

TIM: I think you are forgetting Millar’s collaborations with Morrison like Aztek (great!), Flash (good), a few JLA stories (good/great!), and Skrull Kill Krew (umm….never mind that one). Plus, his Superman stuff for the animated series comic was pretty darn good.

Or maybe I just think those are better because Red Son never really impressed me.

IAIN: Blasphemer! To the gallows with your ways!!

PAUL: Just for the record “How Much Can One Man Hate” from Millar’s Superman Adventures run is quite possibly my favorite Superman story ever.

Personally I actually think Millar’s a better writer when he has some restrictions put on him and he’s not allowed to just smash people’s heads.

IAIN: Absolutely. Most writers are better when somebody is there to stop them from over-indulging in their favourite style, whether it happens to be smashing people’s heads in (Millar), lengthy conversations with repeated dialogue (repeated dialogue? Yes, repeated dialogue. Hey, Bendis), weirdness for the sake of weirdness (Morrison), or rewriting Buffy at every opportunity (Whedon, but thankfully David Greenwalt saved Angel from that fate).

My local Forbidden Planet recently did up their store and had a nice sale on their unwanted TPBs. I got Jingle Belle, the second Bill & Ted book and the one Transformers collection I was missing for a grand total of £6.47!

JEFF: I’ve said similar things in my column. I think there’s too little editorial oversight these days, because there are too many books and not enough management to go around. I wouldn’t expect an editor to simply say, “No Grant Morrison, you’re getting too weird, quit that crap and give us another turn of Magneto regressing to childhood,” but I would expect them to say, “Look, this isn’t bad, but do you think you could try it from a different approach? Mark, how about smashing somebody’s feet instead, just this once? Brian, have you ever seen the event we did a few years back where NONE of our books had dialogue? Care to give it a try? Less is more, you know.” I think creativity grows from people talking out ideas. In my own experiences, I’ve had writer friends ask me to read something for them and I always tell them honestly, “This dialogue seems strange to my ear, could you say it differently without losing the meaning?” or “that action on page 9 seems rather out-of-nowhere and not consistent with the character. I think I understand what you’re trying to accomplish, so how what would you think of doing it like this?” And the writer friends may or may not take my advice, which is fine since I’m not their editor. But more often then not a different perspective got them thinking and their finished piece was stronger if not for my idea directly then for my having made them think a little at all. Does ANYONE ask Bendis to really stop and think about where his story is going? Did anyone notice in Avengers Disassembled that he completely jumbled up Dr. Strange’s perspective in a span of 6 pages? I’ve wondered for some time just who gets edited at all at Marvel.

MATHAN: Whoa, are you telling me that Marvel lacks strong editors? The company where the majority of its books take place in one city, yet frequently don’t overlap crises, doesn’t have editorial oversight?

Say it ain’t so.

PAUL: It’s a really delicate line to walk. A number of books have been marred by Editorial malpractice, yet conversely there are a few books that really do need a little more editorial control. *shrugs*

IAIN: Jeff’s spot on about creators sometimes needing to discuss their work in order to ultimately better it, which should be a big part of an editor’s job. Unfortunately, like what Paul said, there have been a lot of books where the quality has decreased due to editors beginning to dictate ideas rather than suggest them. This has been very apparent recently due to the number of event books at DC and Marvel. It surely can’t be any coincidence that the best superhero comics they are currently doing are low-key titles like Legion or She-Hulk that aren’t directly impacted by the company’s mandated happenings, giving the creators a chance to work things out for themselves without being bothered quite so much as they would be on Action Comics or Amazing Spider-Man.

So, basically, if we can get a talented and sensible creator to work with an attentive and keen editor while keeping the number of This Time Everything Changes events to a bare minimum, we’d get a decent comic book!

JEFF: My extra point topic: Who is still really and truly dead in the Marvel Universe? Colossus, Bucky, and now even Uncle Ben is apparently back. Captain Mar-Vell must be incredibly lonely.

IAIN: It isn’t the *real* Uncle Ben though, just some parallel universe version that will probably go back home after telling Peter to stop suckling the iron teat of Stark and letting May know that it’s really not a problem if she wants some Jarvis jackin’. No, not a problem at all. Honest.

KEVIN: Y’know, I think all the heroes got sick of Harry Osborne’s whining, “My Daddy never loved me, I could never be as driven as him…” and returned from beyond the grave just to get away from him!

Just a theory…

IAIN: Yeah, I think that the movies did a far better job of presenting Harry Osborn than the comics ever did. Even if he was blinkered enough to think that Otto’s mechanical arms weren’t enough to land the Nobel Prize…

PAUL: I very seldom find myself willing to throw myself into a state of Baker-esc rage… but was anyone else infuriated by the ending of this week’s issue of Robin? I was thumbing through it at the store this week, and it took all of the restraint I had at the time not to tear the thing up with my bare hands.

TIM: I was a little stunned by Cassandra’s verbosity since the last time I really followed her she had a vocabulary of maybe 10 words. I got that it was a big change for her. But, I have to say, I still really liked the issue and the former Batgirl’s switch did not change that. Sorry Paul… I’ll try harder for outrage in the future.

PAUL: Eh… to be honest I very seldom get mad at comics writers anymore. The work that comes with having to take the responsibility to produce some original content each week gives me a lot more respect for guys like Bendis who have entire books coming out an a bi-weekly basis. Throw in the fact that listening to shows like Fanboy Radio and Comics Geek Speak has given me a lot more insight into how these guys write and what they think and well… I honestly don’t think I could throw myself into a prolonged Baker-esc rage if I wanted to.

Still the plot twist with Cassie just seemed to be a cheap shock tactic. (Then again maybe it’s her sister impersonating her or she’s been brainwashed or… something.)

IAIN: Were you talking about Batgirl Cassie or Wonder Girl Cassie? I haven’t ever paid attention to the former, but the latter’s Superboy cult webcasts in 52 seemed to be completely random and far-fetched. The guy’s been dead a fortnight and one of the few faintly sensible teenage characters suddenly starts up some kind of pagan tribute site to her boyfriend? Oh-kaaayyy…

MATHAN: Come on, this might be a gender thing. Losing one’s virginity is a serious issue for both genders, but for guys it’s much more a matter of “hurry up and get it over with”, while for females it’s traditionally been a matter of saving it for someone special.

Cassie coping with the loss of Connor and wanting to know that others share her loss doesn’t seem that out of the question. Not to mention Zeus is her pop, which may put things in perspective.

PAUL: I was referring to Cassandra Caine of Batgirl fame but… in hindsight I think we’re being set-up for another plot swerve in Robin.

IAIN: By the way, X-Men 3? It is actually… GOOD!

ENJOYABLE!

FUN!

Thus proving once again that crossing your fingers really does work.

JEFF: Yep, pretty fun. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I will say I never enjoyed Cyclops more than I did in this instalment. And I can’t believe that there were people complaining about Kelsey playing Beast. He was the great! Maybe not quite as visually appealing as Nightcrawler in X-2, but very fun nonetheless.

But what WASN’T fun was the fact that I had to sit in a crowded theatre filled with IDIOTS. There were 5 punks sitting behind me, in the very last row at the top of the theatre, none of whom have had a whiff of womanhood since their mothers quit breast feeding them, who evidently believed thee were the feature performers on a new Mystery Science Theatre 3000 series. For the first hour they cracked poor jokes on the Magneto, Xavier, Jean and each other. When a nice slow establishment shot finally arose and no dialogue was being performed, I turned around said, “If you guys don’t shut the $#%@ up I WILL throw you down the stairs.” The rest of the audience clapped for me and laughed. They shut up, mostly, for the rest of the show and were the first ones down the stairs and out the door when the credits started rolling. The Dark Overlord isn’t the only one who can (and will) commit evil atrocities on circle-jerking wankers in public.

Not only that, but the guy sitting right next to me must have really enjoyed one scene about a third of the way through because he took out a cigarette lighter, lit it up, and held it high, as if begging a rock band for an encore. The first thing I thought of was the sprinkler system. And then I thought of Storm. And finally I thought of the movie “Matinee” with John Goodman, where he tried to inject some real interactivity into the movie going experience. But mostly I thought if this moron gets me soaked I’m going to chuck his retarded arse down the stairs too.

Finally, let me go on record as saying that it is NOT all right to flip open your cell phone every 10 minutes. YOU CAN GO TWO HOURS WITH OUT THE $#@& THING. The whole reason the theatre is kept dark is so that your attention is focuses on the bright, flickering images in front of you. Bright blue phone screens flashing like fireflies are distracting and starting right now I won’t put up with it. I will walk right up to you, take your phone, crush it under my jackbooted heel, and throw your retarded arse down the damn stairs.

My first two jobs in my working life were in movie theatres. As an usher back then it was my duty, above all else, to ensure a positive experience for our patrons. No feet on the chairbacks, no talking, no sex in the back row if I wasn’t involved. But at no time during the entire showing of the sold-out Midnight show did a single usher appear in the theatre. And afterwards, when all three shows let out together, no management was to be seen. Idiots dressed up as Gambit of all people, yes, there were several. But discerning patrons and X-fans dressed as the greats like Havok and Bishop and Forge and Sunfire or Theatre Management–not so much. So when you go to the movies, remember that everyone in there with you overpaid to see the film and are thus entitled to try and enjoy it to their fullest potential. Any distractions by incessant chatter, cell phones or off-screen pyrotechnics will be dealt with, violently, by me.

Oh yeah, and the Ghost Rider trailer didn’t look half bad!

LOGAN: Just got in from seeing X3, and I loved it. There were a couple of plot points that I really didn’t see coming (and considering I write for a living, and pride myself on thinking, “oh, yeah, they’re going to go with this direction now, because it helps the narrative along” whenever I watch a film – I know, I’m an ass) is impressive.

I think that any talk of a further film is a mistake, though. This was the right place to wrap things up.

Oh, and Jeff – re: your comments above – I love you, man. You speak to me. I find your ideas intriguing, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. In fact, let’s have babies. However, I have to disagree on Ghost Rider. I thought it looked terrible. Sorry.

PAUL: I wound up going camping with my parents for Memorial Day Weekend so I have
yet to see X-3.

*Covers Ears* LA-LA-LA… I can’t hear you spoilers.

JEFF: Hey Paul–I think my rant was pretty spoiler free! 😛 The spoilage in my case comes from Daron not paying me enough (i.e.: at all) to buyout the whole screen for myself. I used to think that scene in Annie where Daddy Warbucks takes everyone to the show was weird–who buys ALL tickets for a single showing? Now I know. 😉

IAIN: So after that INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL OPENING WEEKEND, it seems more likely than ever before that Fox will want to make an X4 rather than letting the franchise wither away. Of course, developments in X3 mean that a fourth film would have a very different feel to the initial trilogy were it to happen. Anybody have any thoughts on what they’d like to see in X4? Would moving from the Cure to the Legacy Virus make a vaguely reasonable segue within the X-Men movie-verse? Is there any chance in hell that Fox would make such a film without randomly starting a romance between Storm and Wolverine, which I’m told was actually in the original X3 script? And what other mutants would you like to see turn up? My top-five wish list would probably be Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Ultimate Dazzler and Xorn. Yeah, I know…

JEFF: I know I’m in the minority (at least on the Net it seems) but I want as little to do with Grant Morrison’s X-Men as possible. If I caught wind of X-4 being heavy on the Morrison or the Ultimate X crap, I’d skip it.

What I would like to the Hellfire Club. Magneto could seek Mr. Sinister (who in the movie is the White King or the Club, Sebastian Shaw being the Black King) in the hopes of regaining his powers. We could meet Sage–a deep cover “Secret X-Man” Xavier sent in before his death–who alerts the X-Men to the new threat. The Club is planning to assassinate various heads of major industries to place there own agents in charge. Or maybe they’re doing a Genoshan thing–changing humans into mutants much as Magneto wanted to do in X-1, and Sinister is the key.

X-Men I’d like to see would include Havok (gotta have a Summers, gotta be better than the last one), Nate (or Rachel) Grey (The X-Man or Marvel Girl who could be introduced simply as a relative of Jean), Bishop and/or Forge (who arms or creates power-simulating devices for a couple of unpowered members–these two could be combined for the movie, I suppose) . Returning would be Kitty (who, like the kids in the Vacation movies, will be a different actress again), Ice Man, Rogue (still unpowered), Mystique (still sexy…err…I mean, unpowered and “presumably” turned to heroic side), Colossus, Beast, Storm and Wolvie. Chuck X could get a role in a flashback (don’t tell me about whatever that list bit was–I left during the credits, so now I gotta see it again). The “Core” Team would be Colossus, Beast, Storm, Wolverine, Mystique, Havok, and Nate/Rachel. Bobby, Kitty and Rogue will be the background story this time around, the love triangle boiling over and all of them getting caught by the Hellfire Club.

On the Club side, besides Sebastian and Sinister, I’d add Omega Red and that Pierce guy who controls the Reavers as Knights, and Emma Frost and Wanda Maximoff (oh YEAH) as Queens. A few stragglers from Magneto’s merry band can be on hand as cannon fodder. As if the cast wasn’t already unwieldy enough, Juggernaut and the returning Sabretooth could be Rooks if you want to get that deep. If Pierce and the Reavers isn’t working for Ratner (or whomever might direct), I say use Gambit as the Black Knight. So we can all cheer like Arsenal over Manchester United when Remy gets gutted by a Fastball Special.

I’ve always felt that scene from John Byrne’s X-Men, when Wolverine was sneaking into the Hellfire Club via the sewers, was really striking, and I’d love to see that recreated on screen. There’s enough to do here to shoot two movies worth at once and cut it for two separate releases. The end comes with Apocalypse and the Horsemen vs. Magneto and the X-Men in X-6. We’ve touched all the decent major points and characters by then–nobody needs Stryfe, the Brood or the Shi’ar, right?–Magneto finally comes around to Xavier’s line of thinking, we whittle a few X-Men out and build a few more up before Apocalypse rips the team up in Last Stand II. I don’t have much use for Angel as he is, but having Sinister capture him at some point and twist him in the Angel of Death would make the character interesting. I wish Crawler would come back, but as long as Colossus gets more screen time and Grammer/Beast takes over Xavier’s spot as the elder statesman as needed, I’m good. Damn that’s a long answer, eh?

MANOLIS: YAY! Roundtable is back! Much is being discussed; I’ll just touch base on the last bit

X4: Well, first of all, could we find a different title to refer to it? I’m getting Pat Lee flashes, and it’s not a pretty sight!

Coming out of X3 we have a team consisting of Storm, Wolvie, Kitty, Colossus, Beast, Iceman and Angel. It’s a good cast, as long as the next writer actually tries to take advantage of the team dynamics. That was the main gripe about the current film: apart from Wolvie-Phoenix and the undeveloped Iceman-Kitty-Rogue love triangle, there was zero character interaction. Here we have three of the original X-men, the second most popular x-couple in Kitty and Colossus, the mother-daughter bond of Storm and Kitty, the mentor-sidekick dynamic in Wolvie and Kitty, the brother-sister Colossus-Storm bond and of course 3-way buddy system between Beast, Iceman and Angel. It’s the absence of these ties that made X3 lacking compared to its predecessor.

How about villains? We’ve already met Trask and a facsimile of the Sentinels. I’d like to see the Sentinels make their presence felt in X IV, as a government anti-mutant measure, funded by the prestigious Hellfire Club, headed by Sebastian Shaw, the now-human Magneto as the White King (Magnus the white, it will attract the LotR fans too) and Emma Frost! Replace Jean for Storm as the Black Queen in the storyline and combine the Hellfire saga with Storm’s wild streak/mohawk days. I don’t care what everyone else thinks, I believe Halle Berry would look amazing as Mohawk Biker Storm. And if she’s not up for it, Rosario Dawson is always a good alternative to fill the leather pants.

IAIN: Here’s another random X4 plot idea. Bear in mind that I’m playing very fast and loose with the actual comic book characters here, so if you’re the kind of person that was irritated by the movie version of Juggernaut then you’ll probably hate this, but…

Oh, and Paul, you shouldn’t read these bits…

We’ll leave Magneto as a human. I don’t care about the end of X3, which was very inconclusive, so he remains a human. Therefore, he decides to explore his human history and the human lives that he has affected, looking beyond the Holocaust. We learn of his one true love, Magda, and they have a touching reunion as she lies dying in a respite home. Before she goes, she confides in Eric at long last about the twins she gave birth to some twenty/thirty years ago. His children. He never knew of them till now as Magda had been scared of his beliefs, his politics and especially his powers ever since a terrible incident in the past when Eric killed a human for the first time in order to protect her, yet took things too far and ultimately drove her away. She kept the children though, and eventually told them the truth about their father when they were old enough to hear it.

Meanwhile, after the Alcatraz incident, the mutant cause has taken yet another turn. The government backed down on the Cure, yet there have now been motions raised to construct so-called ‘Mutant Town’ districts in each of the major cities in the USA. The more active and hostile mutants have turned Magneto into a martyr, prompting lots of ‘Magneto Was Right’ slogans to start popping up all over the place. There is no real leader to the protests this time around though, not with Magneto still presumed dead by most of them and Mystique a human. Pyro tries to set himself up as a spokesman, using pirate radio and webcasts and the like, but it is all very ramshackle and chaotic and, ultimately, will be harder to defeat than a single identifiable foe.

Hank McCoy finds himself in a very precarious position in Washington, trying to defeat the Mutant Town movement yet ridiculed for his alliance with the X-Men and by the fact that the only other mutant to achieve a high level of office, Emma Frost, is actually in favour of constructing Mutant Towns. She even has an interesting idea on how they could be policed. Perhaps even more damaging, she has support from none other than Alex Summers. He is furious at how, in his perception, the X-Men just let his brother wander off to his death and then didn’t even bother to let him know. He had to read about it online. He even missed the funeral. Of course, now he’s buried at the grounds of the Xavier Institute, making it hard for him to even go and visit the grave. Alex was a mutant too, but he didn’t want to lock himself away from the world like Scott. He went out and earned his doctorate in geophysics instead. As it turns out, he has since taken the Cure.

Alex’s girlfriend is one Lorna Dane, who is also on his legal council as he launches a lawsuit against the X-Men. However, she soon dumps him, having been merely using him as a way of getting access to the X-Men’s databases so that she can try to track down her father, the former Magneto. Along with her brother, Peter, she tracks him down and they have a touching reunion. Magneto is immediately taken with Lorna, who has the same mutant gifts he did and shares his political views. He is less keen on Peter, who is more open-minded about mutant-human relations and is also gay. Yes, I’m well aware that Quicksilver is not gay and that Magneto is probably not homophobic but, for the movies, forcing him to come to terms with his prejudiced views about his gay son in connection to his views on mutants and humans would make for a very intriguing story (especially with Sir Ian McKellen involved).

On a lighter note, Bobby convinces the sick Rogue go to a mutant rock show to see Dazzler. Again, this is a scene that could work really well on the big screen. They enjoy the music, even if they don’t agree with Dazzler’s “Magneto Was Right” shirt, and have a little make-out session. Unfortunately for them, Pyro is in attendance backstage, sees them and makes life difficult for them once again. He points out what Rogue has been slowly coming to realise – taking the Cure hasn’t brought her closer to Bobby, it’s just separated her from Iceman, and the X-Men, and the only chance she ever had to truly belong. Iceman and Pyro go at it, with full-on ice-trail action from Bobby, but the fight ends when they notice that Rogue has collapsed. Bobby takes her back to the Institute, where Moira MacTaggert regrettably tells him that Rogue is dying. It seems that the Cure she took did not simply just inhibit the X-gene; it messed up cell replication and transcription to the extent that the mutant’s body, after a period of merely having no mutant abilities, would begin to shut down altogether.

Over the next few days, more and more reports of dying mutants surface. The mutant alliance grows more agitated. The X-Men need to take some action but, without Xavier or Cyclops or Jean Grey, they are unsure what to do and the mutant community resents them for it. Knowing now that he is not actually human but that he will most likely die sometime soon, Magneto returns to lead the resistance, flanked by Polaris and Quicksilver, with Pyro, Dazzler and other non-descript mutants by his side. The government is taking huge heat over what is being dubbed the Legacy Virus, causing Beast to resign for good and rejoin the X-Men permanently. Alex and Rogue both die. The Mutant Town “peacekeeping” force is unveiled. They are the Sentinels, and their first task is to stop Magneto’s Brotherhood.

And… I’m not sure where to take it from there, but for an off-the-top-of-my-head rant, that sounds like a pretty good basis for a fourth X-Men movie to me. This would be the very last Magneto appearance, paving the way for Emma Frost to become the leader of the opposition in any future films, so her depiction here should probably provide a set-up for the Hellfire Club in X5 (or possibly even Genosha, which would probably tie in better with the Mutant Town bit).

Anyway, yes?

MANOLIS: Emma Frost wouldn’t work as the arch-baddie, I think. She’s better suited as a one-movie villain who joins the x-academy by the end of the story. Emma is needed in the team to bring some tension! She can put the moves on Wolverine this time, seeing as movie wolverine is a hairier version of 616 Cyclops!

Can I append something to my previous post?

“And how to tie it all together? How about titling X IV: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’? Then use the famous cover as the movie poster with photos of the full cast in the background (Magneto: depowered, Xavier: dead, Cyclops: dead, etc) and Hugh with adult Kitty in the foreground. After the cataclysmic X3, the only way to amp things up is to introduce time travel to the x-movie universe! ”

IAIN: An Emma Frost/Wolverine love-hate sorta relationship could work quite well. Depends who they could get to play Miss Frost, I guess. The Empire website has a neat little feature about what mutants could be in the next movie and who could play them. They reckon Nicole Kidman for the White Queen, but I doubt she’d do it and I’d prefer a less well-known actress anyway.

And Manolis? No time-travel! Bad Manolis!

By the way, X3 finished at a whopping $120 million opening weekend. X2 opened with $86 million and X1 with $54 million! Bryan who?

MANOLIS: why no Time Travel? It’s been an integral part of the X-Men mythos for many years, and gave us some of the most memorable storylines, like DoFP, Age of apocalypse, Bishop, Adventure of Cyclops and Phoenix, Cable, Further Adv, Onslaught, etc…

They could include Bishop (i love the suggestion of Mr Eko for the part!) in the team this way! It’s been years since we had a good time travel movie…

IAIN: Time travel just wouldn’t sit right with the tone of the movie franchise. It may have been used quite a bit in the comics (too often and usually not smartly enough, IMO) but that doesn’t automatically qualify it for a movie storyline the same way something like the Savage Land shouldn’t get in either. Besides, they could still introduce people like Apocalypse or Cable without resorting to convoluted nonsense about alternate timelines and suchlike.

Agreed on Mr Eko for Bishop though. And definitely Sawyer for Gambit!

PAUL: Finally got around to seeing X-3 today… and well it felt like they were trying a bit too hard to wrap up every single plot thread for each character. That said I had a very good time, and there were quite a few exciting moments.

Anyway I believe the new plan is in response to the success of this weekend’s opening is to produce 20 more X-Men Sequels, leading into the inevitable X-23 solo picture.

Oh and was anyone else scratching their heads over their decision to make Quill from New X-Men a vicious bad-guy?

MANOLIS: I wasn’t any more surprised than seeing Psylocke and Arclight as a member of the Morlocks, or seeing Spike from X-Men Evolution as Magneto’s flunky. Did anyone spot Omega Red, btw? He is listed in the credits…

PAUL: If we get Sentinels in the next movie then there had better damned be a Juston Seyfert cameo.

That’s all I’m saying.

To Be Continued…