Friday, December 30, 2011

Uncanny X-Men #4 Preview, Plus A Guide to Recent Phalanx History

Looks like 2012 is certain to be a good year, as we're getting two new issues of Uncanny X-Men in two consecutive weeks. I'll be completely honest, and admit I'm leaning the Logan/Westchester way these days, but Kieron Gillen is still a pretty fun X-writer and honestly, two straight weeks with a new premiere X-book on the stands? It's starting to become a blissfully common occurrence.

Uncanny #4 brings us what is apparently just a one-shot, featuring the return of the dread Phalanx. The Phalanx, obviously, are the accidental byproduct of the feeding process of alien race the Technarchy, who are giant, living techno-organic organisms who possess a unique transmode virus. Their Marvel history is predominantly with the X-Men, used as a weapon by mutant haters as well as the direct connections to Warlock of the New Mutants, who is a mutant among the Technarchy, bearing a non-aggressive strain of the transmode virus.

What some people don't know, however, is what the Phalanx have been up to lately. Hit the jump for the Uncanny preview as well as some fun pictures from the Phalanx' latest adventures.

While the Phalanx operate by means of an elaborate hive mind (hence the name, many units operating as one, as opposed to a literal interconnecting of Greek shields in battle) they have historically been known to be led or directed by certain individuals. In the case of fighting the X-Men, such examples include Steven Lang and Cameron Hodge, and in fact the transmode virus played a big role in Bastion's attempts to kill Hope upon her return to our timestream.

However, in recent years, while doing their thing out in space (doing their thing = infecting all organic life with the virus until it becomes one of the Phalanx, and then reaching critical mass upon which they build a Babel Spire, summoning a fully-grown Siredam from the Technarchy, who invariably destroy them, seeing them as abominations rather than a new's a pretty sad cycle, really) when instead of a Siredam, they find something else; the disembodied consciousness of Ultron, recently defeated by the Mighty Avengers and sent into space (that time he turned into a woman using Tony Stark's extremis armor and beat up that annoying talkative team with Ares and Ms. Marvel and Sentry and skully-Hank Pym.)

After an attempt to infect Ultron and bring him into the Phalanx form, ol' bucket-head decided he wanted their amazing technology and modified the virus, not only taking control of the entire Phalanx, but increasing their strength by both uniting them in a holy purpose, as well as granting a modicum of freedom and initiative to certain individuals he dubbed the "select", thus allowing for unforeseen events and improved reactions.

Under Ultron's leadership, the Phalanx successfully conquered the ancient and martial Kree Empire in a matter of minutes, eradicating their defense system, subduing the populace, and sealing Kree space in an unbreakable barrier through use of their Babel Spires. It was intense, and scary, and pretty damn impressive. And that was before Ultron was even revealed, and before he decided organic life was not so horrible if you could find a perfect genetic specimen, which he did, transferring his consciousness into a newly reborn Adam Warlock, thanks to the High Evolutionary.

In the end, Ultron and the Phalanx were brought down, 'natch. But it wasn't easy. Peter Quill aka Star-Lord and his group of rebels (which turned out to be the foundation of his Guardians of the Galaxy team) destroyed one of the Babel Spires (thanks to Groot) and created a weakness in the barrier. This allowed Nova to come through, bearing Drax and Gamora (recently purged of the virus) and Warlock of New Mutants fame and his adopted son Tyro, both members (if outcasts) of the Technarchy.

Warlock gave Adam Warlock/Ultron his mutant strain of the virus, forcing him to flee the soulless body. Drax, Gamora and Nova, along with Peter and his warriors, fought off the Phalanx. Phyla-Vell Quasar, after a few months of whining, used her Quantam Bands to re-ensoul Adam. Ultron then used the attacking Kree Sentries to build himself a giant robot body. Really. And then Phyla-Vell got to deliver the killing blow, which was probably the finest moment in her tragically short and shakily heroic life.

Naturally, Ultron didn't really die (he's made it back to Earth since) and the Phalanx weren't frozen and incapacitated forever. It seems as long as the Technarcy survive, so will they. Still, it was a pretty awesome story. Bet you wish you read more cosmic stuff now, huh?

Now let's check out Uncanny X-Men #4, wherein the Phalanx find yet another strong-willed Terran to act as guiding influence. This time it's Sinister (one day they'll attract a benevolent leader who will use their creepy and visually stunning forces for good.) I can hardly imagine what Gillen has planned, but fortunately I don't have to wait long to find out.

Preview via CBR. Happy Friday!

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