Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

X-Men The Road to Onslaught Volume 3 Review

The Onslaught event was definitely a big deal in the Marvel Universe and it’s one of the few big events that I have not read yet. It sounds like fun, but for some reason all of the X-Men trade paperbacks from the 80’s to early 2000’s are huge so I’m fine with slowly going through them all. This one was certainly very big, but it was a lot of fun so I really cruised through the stories. There was really just one that was a big miss for me as the rest of the adventures were enjoyable. This was definitely the classic X-Men group and they looked good as you would expect!

Sometimes it’s nice to get the negative out of the way first so let’s talk about why the Angel story was just no good. For starters, the comic was in black and white for effect. Now, I’m a big manga fan so I’m not opposed to that style, but the art has to be clear for it to work and this was the crazy 90’s…it was anything but clear. You essentially miss out on most of what’s happening on screen and while that’s not a bad thing for some aspects of it, this doesn’t do the comic any favors. This story also had some animal violence as birds were attacking the main heroine of the story. Why…why….whyyyyyyyyyy!

The story was also just randomly dark as it was all metaphysical as the lady had actually been involved with some domestic violence issues and her way of coping was by making these illusions. She helped Angel to accept his wings and he helped her move on. The whole story was just iffy and I also felt bad for Psylocke since Angel had been shutting her out, but opened up to a complete stranger. Yeah, that’s Angel for you right? The comic could not end soon enough!

All right, iffy story aside, let’s talk about one of the more enjoyable ones. Wolverine and Angel decided to find a mystic to help heal Psylocke since she was already far beyond the reaches of conventional medicine. Dr. Strange decided to come along as well since fighting mystical battles is really what he does best. He’s not at the height of his strength due to constant circumstances likely occurring in his own series, but he’s still more than a match for the relative lightweights that he has to deal with here. The heroes basically head into another version of hell and have to…negotiate with the master there.

That was a fun story. It was quick, had good fights, and the dialogue was good. It was a popcorn fun X-Men comic that just felt like a good superhero story through and through. The heroes fought the villain and found the cure. No cliffhangers or loose plot lines, but a complete story from start to finish. Dr. Strange also looked good and got the respect that he deserves. Of course, the best story was yet to come.

My favorite story arc was the two part Brood event. I hadn’t expected great things as the Brood can be cool creatures to look at, but at the same time, their brutal style of fighting could have been a little dicey for the comic. Luckily, it was handled well. A pastor and his wife had gotten a lot of publicity within their town as the wife appeared to be able to heal someone with a touch. While the pastor was thrilled about this, he did not know that his wife had actually been contaminated by the brood and was turning everyone else into her minions by “healing” them. The X-Men arrive to deal with the threat, but find out that she is fighting against her destiny. Can the X-Men help to save her or will they be forced to put her down before she loses control?

The X-Men naturally make the right move although Wolverine does want to destroy the lady the entire time they are talking. He’s definitely not feeling generous at the moment, that’s for sure. It’s part of his subplot on how he’s losing his humanity thanks to some experiments that had been occurring, but it’s also in character. The lady tries very hard to keep control and decides that maybe it would be best for her to die so that everyone else can live. That being said, it’s sad for her followers since the brood warriors destroy all of them with ease.

At least they were all Christians so they’ve gone to a better place. I was impressed with how openly the comics talked about God and the Bible and the characters were portrayed well. The Pastor did a lot of praying and his wife’s faith in God is what helped her be the first human to ever resist the Brood. That was really cool and it even has a good ending as the Priest gives a good sermon. God was certainly given his due credit here and this is the kind of adventure that you wouldn’t expect to see nowadays. Certainly the highlight of the collection and the fights with the Brood creatures were pretty epic as well. The X-Men held their own even if it was a losing battle.

Another really good story involved the return of the Onslaught plot. This is the Road to Onslaught right so we need at least relevant comic there. His weakest sentry decided to test the X-Men as he warped their members to the middle of nowhere to conduct his battle experiment. Wolverine and Storm quickly coped as they are used to this kind of test. The rest of the team quickly followed suit and Cyclops reminded them that he has never failed a test like this during his whole tenure as an X-Man. The Sentry fights with them and the fight is certainly a lot of fun as this guy is no lightweight.

The fight takes up most of the issue and each of the X-Men members gets a chance to shine. They’re certainly a powerful team even if they don’t have many heavy weights like the Avengers. A power hitter would have certainly come in handy here. They do manage to make a statement though and the Onslaught Sentry gets a little salty and reminds them that he was the weakest before leaving. That may have been a blow to their confidence, but they won and that’s what counts right?

After that, there was a short issue where Iceman went to Emma Frost’s place to ask her how he can be healed since he had a hole in his chest and wasn’t sure what would happen if he tried to go back to human form. He was definitely a little out of character there as he basically cracked, but part of his ongoing character arc is that he’s being forced to become a serious figure for the younger members and that’s likely not doing him any favors. She basically tells him that it won’t have any effect on his human form and she’s right. Not the greatest of issues, but it wasn’t bad either.

The collection ends with the Wolverine plot continuing as he fully gives way to the beast within him to save someone. The actual events occurred in another comic, but this deals with the aftermath. Stick sends Elecktra to stop Wolverine and likewise, the X-Men are on his trail. Considering that she’s a guest star, Elecktra doesn’t really do anything and only steps in for a very small role. The villain is a guy who commands stone and summons up a lot of minions to defend himself. They’re basically rock versions of various Marvel characters, which was fairly interesting, but the villain wasn’t much of a threat.

It was a decent comic, but not very notable. It’s sad for Wolverine to see how much he had changed with this though. It’s good to see that he retained most of his mind though as he still saved Cyclops when he was in danger. Wolverine was missing his Adamantium for most of the collection, which really hurt his fighting strength. Without it, a lot of the events in these comics would have been much easier for him. He was still a good figure though and the team always needs a devil’s advocate to help them consider all of the options even if you naturally root against just about all of Wolverine’s ideas.

Cyclops and Jean Grey look good as they still lead the team into battle and act like the experienced veterans should. Cyclops is always a confident leader from start to finish and Jean Grey is the reason why they ended up helping the Pastor and his wife against the Brood. Iceman was a good character for the most part even if he did get ultra serious and blew up at Emma without a whole lot of provocation. The Beast has never been very likable for me and this didn’t change that. Likewise, Dark Beast isn’t my kind of villain.

Storm may be the team’s power hitter at the moment and her weather abilities always come in handy. Bishop got a decently large role here, which was cool since I rarely see him in the comics. I can certainly say that I liked his portrayal here as he was the military kind of character who followed orders right away while still having the presence of mind to question some orders. He really helped the team out with his energy absorption abilities. I still prefer Cable as a character, but Bishop is good as well.

Going back to the Beast part, I almost forgot to mention his story arc. He had been trying to find a cure for the Legacy virus for some time now, but he was not getting any closer to solving the riddle. Unfortunately for him, he would not get the chance as Dark Beast arrived and kidnapped him. So, for most of the comics in this collection, it is really Dark Beast who is on the team and not the normal version. The comic is a little sad though as we basically watch Dark Beast go on a killing spree as he murders just about everyone from Beast’s past except for his parents who he couldn’t bring himself to destroy. This was definitely not my favorite character and I’m looking forward to seeing someone stop him. Bishop did arrive at the X-Men’s base to stop a traitor, maybe the traitor was “Beast.”

As you would expect, the art is very bold and large as the 90’s style is famous for this. Still, it works quite well this time and I’d say that it’s some of the clearest 90’s art that I’ve seen. The fight scenes are certainly intense and one thing that I’ve always liked about this style is that everyone looks tough. If you thought that every villain and hero did not have a 6 pack, you were clearly not reading the 90’s comics.

Overall, This was a fun collection. I can safely say that the Onslaught arc had a good amount of build up that occurred before it. As you would expect from the X-Men series, there were certainly a lot of plotlines running around beneath the surface and Rogue got a cameo as well. I’m sure that she’ll be more important to the plot at a later point and politics are not going well for the heroes either so they may have to go below ground at some point. Yes, things are definitely reaching a boiling point and I’m sure that the next volume will be solid as well. With all star comics like the Brood 2 Part Adventure as well as the Onslaught prequel, this is a must read for all X-Men fans. The roster for the team is quite good and Dr Strange even makes a guest star appearance. There’s also a guide to the mansion at the end of the comic, which really goes in depth so if you’ve ever wondered how the team operated or what went on beneath the surface, this will help!

Overall 8/10

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