Toy Chest Theater: X-Men X-Plosion

By Rob Siebert
Full-Sized. Not Plastic.

We don’t see the X-Men as often as we should here at PI. So lately I’ve been looking for ways to spotlight them. Low and behold, here they are in “Toy Chest Theater.” And oh yes, we’ve got a packed production today.

In combing through the toy photography community, I’ve seen a lot of Wolverine. Cyclops too, but a lot of Wolverine. So naturally, most of what you’ll see today will include him. But I’ve also worked hard to move beyond Wolvie. (Lord knows he’s hurting for publicity.) Case in point…

I haven’t spotlighted a lot of (if any) photos with captions. But in this image from @satoshi_k, the caption is what ties it all together. We’ve got Cable walking with a purpose, locked, loaded, and ready to go. We’ve got snow, which might suggest a nuclear winter. Or on the other hand, simply winter. Those heavy doors leave it a little ambiguous as to when this takes place.

Yes, the caption is “Change the future.” But is he departing from the future to the past, or is he already in the past?

Either way, this shot wasn’t cheap. The figure, made by Mezco Toyz costs $100. Some of us suffer for our art. Sometimes our wallets suffer as well.

But hold on, we’re not done with @satoshi_k yet…

Sweet fancy Moses! Once again, these figures from MAFEX cost almost $100 each. But @satoshi_k damn sure got his money’s worth on this one.

I love the shots that make you ask, “How the hell did they do that?” My intellectual brain tells me, “Of course that’s probably not real fire.” But the image looks so damn convincing that it plants that seed of doubt.

That one element that puts it over the top? The Wolverine pose. The illusion of momentum is absolutely tremendous.

Cyclops is such a rich, complex, and often bad-ass character. So much more than a lot of casual fans give him credit for. @Tyo nugroho0 illustrates that beautifully here. What’s interesting here is that the image isn’t necessarily about the figure itself. It’s about the setting it’s placed in.

Plus, the jacket. The SH Figuarts Cyclops figure comes with a “removable leather-like jacket.” We’re just going to pretend that says “removable leather jacket.” Leather-like makes him sound like a wuss.

Here we have Magneto doing the thing people always expect Magneto to do. Not just to Wolverine, but Iron Man. That’s not quite how it works. But it’s happening in this scene from @creaptic using Marvel Legends figures. And to his credit, he makes it look good.

A future edition of Toy Chest Theater is going to focus on…well, focus. I have a lot of respect for photographers who create a scene with layers. Not only that, but they know which layer is the most important. We know what Magneto looks like. What’s important is what he’s doing. What’s important is that Wolverine is in agony. That’s what we need to see.

Jeremy, a.k.a. @figurephotoworks, brings us this next shot that I really love.

Along the same lines as what Tyo nugroh0 gave us, here we have Wolverine and Colossus among the wreckage of what I assume was a fight with Sentinels. But to give it that special look and feel, Jeremy (a.k.a. @figurephotoworks) used “sand, a drain blaster, and a smoke machine.” The result is absolutely gorgeous.

I also love that he chose these particular Marvel Legends figures. Colossus’ normally glimmering skin covered in sand gives us a sense of just how dense that cloud behind them is. Wolverine’s brown and yellow suit is not only a great fit for the image, but a personal favorite of mine.

For some reason, the toy photography community seems to love pitting Wolverine against Omega Red…

This first one from Stephen (@mandalorianrunt) not only has one of those great X-Men/comic book-ish environments, but it’s got that awesome yellowish green lighting in the background.

If I’m not mistaken, based on some behind-the-scenes photos Stephen put up with this, that smoke behind Wolvie is actually cotton. You’d never know it, though. You really never even consider the smoke. That’s one of the ways you know you’ve got a great image. Everything at least appears to blend together seamlessly.

CWolverine vs. Sabretooth. One of the big rivalries in all of comics. It terms of sheer disdain for the other person, it’s probably up there with Superman vs. Lex Luthor or Batman vs. the Joker. Here we have a really nice shot of Logan pinning Creed down in a wooded setting. And here we have something else that’s fairly rare in toy photography, at least as far as I’m concerned: Blood.

@BrinquedosNaReal could easily have used ketchup, food coloring, or something like that. But he went the plastic route. I’m sure that wasn’t originally intended to be blood. But it works as blood, as it makes the image appear like it was taken with a high-speed camera. Like some poor photographer just happened to be standing there as these two rabid animals are slicing each other’s guts out.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

An X-Men Gold, Vol. 2 Review – Old Flames Reignited

TITLE: X-Men Gold, Vol. 2: Evil Empires
AUTHOR: Marc Guggenheim
PENCILLER: Ken Lashley, Lan Medina, Luke Ross
COLLECTS: X-Men Gold #712
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: November 15, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

X-Men Gold is a feel-good book in a lot of ways. It’s got a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feel to it while still having its feet planted in the modern era. That was the case in the first volume, and it continues here in the second.

Evil Empires sees our heroes face a mutant serial killer, Congress, and Russian gangsters backed up by Omega Red. That’s variety for you. All the while, romances old and new start to blossom. Rachel Grey discovers Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler’s feelings for her, as Kitty and Peter slowly move closer to resurrecting their relationship. Plus, what secrets lay in the journey that the alien Kologoth took to Earth? We saw him work with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But where does he go from here?

Kitty and Peter are the emotional core of Evil Empires as a reunion between the two becomes more and more tempting. It’s so obvious where they’re going that the romantic scenes between the two lose some of their edge. But there’s an obvious feel-good quality to it, considering these two have grown up together. That they joined the team so young and are now in leadership roles makes the book feel like the natural continuation of the X-Men legacy.

Kitty herself is the personification of that idea. In the span of a few issues, we see her delegate tasks for her team during a crisis, go one-on-one with a mutant serial killer in the school, and testify before Congress against an act that would deport all mutants. Not half bad. It also doesn’t hurt that Ken Lashley drew a hell of a fight scene in issue #8, with a sword-wielding Pryde facing our serial killer. Great dim lighting in that scene too, which is a credit to tremendous coloring by Frank Martin and Andrew Crossley.

Our killer is a new version of the X-Cutioner. He’s more or less a S.W.A.T. guy with a LOT of extra toys. But he’s got a fairly sympathetic backstory, and we find out he’s got a pretty good reason to dislike mutants. He’s simply taken it too far. The way Guggenheim writes his confrontation with Kitty is a great snapshot of the world the X-Men live in. The stigma that mutants live with isn’t always the result of blind prejudice. That doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t justify violence. But it’s not always as simple as people being afraid of people that are different.

Full disclosure: I know next to nothing about Rachel’s relationship with Kurt prior to X-Men Gold. But there’s a shy sweetness to it that’s, dare I say, cute. They approach the idea of being together with reasonable caution, but there’s obviously a good amount of chemistry there. Rachel and Kurt hardly have the spotlight in this book, but what we get is enough to make you want more. 

So we’ve got iconic and interesting characters who have a cozy, family-like dynamic with one another. We see them on the baseball field when we open the book, and then later playing cards. Again, it’s kind of cute. The problem is once we get past issue #9, we lose a lot of intrigue. Issues #10 and #11 are about Russian gangsters trying to resurrect Omega Red, using Peter’s sister Illyana (a.k.a. Magik) as a power source. Outside of the novelty of seeing Omega Red and Illyana, for the most part there’s not much to sink your teeth into.

I remember skipping out on issue #12 when I saw it at my local comic shop. The exploration of Kologoth’s backstory and this whole alien world felt like a sharp turn, despite a brief set-up for it early on. It’s all meant to pay off in later issues (#16 and #17 specifically). But for the time being I was struggling to care, and as such the book ends on a whimper.

All that being said, the book is very well illustrated. The art actually holds the book up in the second half as its story deteriorates. Ken Lashley is our cover artist, and does the pencils and inks for issues #7-9. Lashley excels in giving his work a sense of motion, which is why his fight sequences work so well. And not just the one with the X-Cutioner. Whiplash (see Iron Man 2) crashes Kitty’s appearance in front of Congress, which causes a brief but intense fight. He also gives us a pretty cool layout with Nightcrawler in issue #7 (shown left).

We shift to Chris Medina’s more detailed style for issues #10 and #11. While I was hardly enamored with the story about Peter’s uncle, Medina did give him a very distinct face. During his scenes you feel like you’re looking at a real person. The quieter, more intimate moments between Kitty and Peter also mean a bit more with Medina at the pencil. His style offers them a little more heart.

Luke Ross gets tagged in for issue #12. I’ll say this much: He draws a hell of a reptilian alien in Kologoth. Really nice texture on the skin and teeth, plus the ominous red eyes.  So little about the issue is memorable. But Ross’ rendering of the monster itself stands out. Frank Martin goes solo on the colors here, and gets to play with a pretty expansive palette. Especially early on, when we get a look at Kologoth’s home world.

X-Men Gold, Vol. 2 underperforms in its second volume, despite delivering some solid character work and good action early on. But as a reader, it still has my attention. There’s still a lot of value in this back to basics approach, and a great stories than can still be told.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave