NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!
Fantasy #72 (4 short stories, 2 poems total)
- “Breath of the Dragon King” by Allison King (short story/flash) - A lovely story about a girl growing up under the weight of expectation and the weight of a lie told on her birth. That has cast her as a leader, but leaving out the part that what she’s supposed to be leading toward is also a lie, and one that has been told by not just her parents but all those around her, leaving a whole generation of kids feeling the pressure to do something they can’t, feeling like failures for not living up to an ideal that was always a fantasy. It’s a careful and ultimately affirming story about effort and achievement, and it’s a wonderful read! Dragons, Rabbits, Magic Tricks, Fire, Growing Up, Family. CW- Lying to Children. [c2 t3]
- “Heirlooms” by Zebib K. A. (short story) - A story that finds the narrator in a nice apartment overlooking a park. A park in which a small homeless community lives, and which confront the narrator with a lot. With fear and with guilt, with a strange push and pull that she can’t shake. It’s a kind of haunting, the specific dynamics and politics of this moment a mess of historical and personal privileges and difference. And it’s a haunting that leaves the narrator less and less able to ignore the homeless that everyone else just wants to go away. And I like where the story brings the narrator in that, the way she tries to exorcize herself, ending on a nicely ambiguous moment of confrontation and offering. A great read! Apartments, Phones, Sleep, Parks, Roommates. CW- Homelessness. [c2 t4]
- “Emily and the What-if Imp” by Gwynne Garfinkle (short story/flash) - This story focuses on Emily, a girl who struggles with a what-if imp, which seems essentially a representation of intrusive thoughts. Unwanted, often unsettling and violent, the thoughts are embodied by the imp, which relishes the anguish it causes as Emily tries to find a way to banish the imp. Eventually, though, the story shows how Emily is able not necessarily to cast the imp out, but at least to defeat it in some ways. To find a way to live anyway, and more intentionally. And in that it’s a triumph, a win for Emily, and a hope that she can hold onto this truce. It’s a careful and interesting story, and well worth checking out! Family, Books, Imagination, Imps. CW- Intrusive Thoughts. [c3 t4]
- “Obstruction” by Pamela Rentz (short story) - This story finds Nellie at first avoiding and then returning to her home, to a river not only sacred to the Kaduk Tribe, her people, but personally important to her as the place where she left that world behind so long ago. So long ago that it has become myth, and the man she was with, the man who wanted her to stay, has become the river, or become a part of it. But a television show promises to open up this sacred space to mainstream exploitation, and Nellie finds herself pushed and pulled in the wake of the trouble that stirs up. It’s a moving piece about place and about boundaries. Between people, between places, between Nellie and the river. And it’s a beautiful read! Kayaking, Rivers, Family, Travel. CW- Aggressive Capitalism. [c2 t4]
- “Twilight Mind” by Jennifer Crow (poem) - This piece speaks to me of uncertainty, of memories passed on in a kind of game of telephone. Twisted, embellished, lost and found again. The imagery of the piece seems to circle around a garden, or a statuary, or a cemetery, a place where the natural world seems to overgrow the edifices put there, and I like that idea of the past reclaimed by the present, the cycle of that, the present reclaimed by some future we can’t know yet. And all with short, concise lines, leaving all that space on the page full of possibility. A great read!
- “Halsing for the Anchylose” by Stewart C. Baker (poem) - This is another rather strange piece that speaks of time, of absence, of what is left behind, its context in some ways erased, the artifact of it carrying a weight all the same. And for me again the piece lingers ont he enormity of the past, the absence of all of those who can longer speak for themselves. Who represent so much achievement and life that it’s almost impossible to grasp. And I like again the way the piece does that with these short lines, images of objects and ideas, actions that we are left to interpret and give meaning to. A great way to close the issue!
A new Fantasy and the works deal in large part with the past. With the passage of time. With what gets passed down to further generations, and what those generations do with it. The work and the act of interpreting things that are lacking their original context. So that there’s a lot of work to be done to try and discover of rediscover what some things mean. And how they complicate and change those who are confronted by them. It’s a nicely balanced issue, and a fine read!
Nightmare #109 (3 short stories, 1 poem total)
- “Caw” by WC Dunlap (short story) - A piece that imagines a different kind of pandemic, a mass attack by crows that has left the world fractured, the survivors having to band together for safety. Only there might not be any safety for the narrator and the small group they’re with. Old prejudices are still strong, and mistrust is something that is both necessary, given everything, and poison. And really that speaks loudest in the piece to me, that here is a situation where trust is the only thing that can save people, but the wounds run too deep to make trust easy, or safe. And the result is that a release from that cycle is something of a relief, a freedom, even as it’s also a terrible loss. A great read! Crows, Houses, Food, Fog. CW- Death, Pandemics, Blood. [c4 t4]
- “Flight 389” by Jon Padgett (short story) - This story centers Jeffords, a man who is afraid of flying. And not just vaguely but specifically, in stages. A fear of takeoff, a fear of cruising, a fear of landing, all of them leading into each other, and all the while trying to believe in superstition that might give him power in this situation. When really what might be most terrifying is that he has none, that no belief or ritual will actually make a difference in what happens. That it’s all down to someone else’s actions. And that’s a hard thing to face at times, especially for those who can feel like they have control of their lives otherwise. An interesting read well worth spending some time with! Planes, Passengers, Beliefs, Rituals. CW- Accidents/Death. [c 3 t4]
- “I Summon You” by Dale Bailey (short story/flash) - This piece finds a medium working with a young woman to call forth the spirit of her recently deceased brother. Only what’s listening, what might answer thanks to the unknown gift in the young woman, is most decidedly not her brother. And it’s in that voice that the piece is revealed, showing the medium as something of a sham but not completely one, and the situation much more dire than they suspect. It’s a neat and creepy piece, concise and yet opening up a lot of possibilities, the voice of the narrator(s) uncertain but hunger, grim, and eager for what might come next. A fine read! Mediums, Seances, Family, Shadows, Ghosts. CW- Death of a Sibling. [c3 t4]
- “Every Night and All” by Sonya Taafe (poem) - This piece speaks to me of death and loss. Of the way that some things can change the way we see the world. How tragedy and grief can worm their way into things that otherwise might seem...neutral. The piece seems to me to speak of descent. Loss. Listening to a song that draws everyone down deeper and deeper towards a bottom I’m pretty sure I don’t want to reach. It’s a short piece with short lines, the imagery grim, the effect on me a kind of chill, the echo of death and calamity, the empty space left on the page a reminder of what’s not there anymore, the people gone, the tragedy multiplying. A fantastic read!
This issue is a lot about trust. The horror of trust, as befitting Nightmare. About how the need to rely on others is something that humans have, pretty much instinctually, but at the same time it’s something very much that many push back against. Because they don’t know what will happen, because they want to be in control. And yet sometimes there is no power in control, no safety in going it alone. Not that trust is safe either. Rather, the pieces reveal that trust is a part of being human, as is distrust, and the complexity there is fertile ground for horror to grow. A great issue!
Lightspeed #137 (4 short stories, 1 novelette total)
- “Memoranda from the End of the World” by Gene Doucette (short story) - This story is organized as a collection of texts, most of them framed as internal corporate documents, though there are some other types as well, and it all forms a picture of catastrophe largely engineered by corporate culture, by lack of transparency and a care only for liability rather than in helping people. In that the piece is both fun and funny while being sharp and satirical. It’s an interesting piece that doesn’t really answer all the questions it brings up, but rather hints and teases, and for the reason that no corporation would ever admit what it did wrong, even if it would save lives. A wonderful read! Corporations, Memos, Employment, Aliens, Evacuation. CW- Infections, Death/Blood/Cannibalism, Extermination/Nuclear Attacks. [c3 t3]
- “Those Who Went” by E. Catherine Tobler (short story/flash) - A story about a group of people who leave Earth behind to take a chance on reaching a new world. A new place where humans can live, though the way is perilous, though the outcome is unknown, success slim. And the shape of that success perhaps not what the people back on Earth expect. The reasons for going not those the people back on Earth assume. And in short order the piece explores that, the desire to go, to explore, to set foot on a new world. And maybe not to just recreate the mistakes of the past. It’s a quiet, lovely read! Space, Ships, Travel, Colonization. [c1 t3]
- “Every Single Brian” by Yang-Yang Wang (short story) - A story about loss and about possibilities, where the narrator is a geneticist working on fast human cloning, the kind that might produce a replica of an adult. Tragedy in the form of an extremist attack, though, left their project reeling and their partner, Brian, possibly dead. Or possibly one of twenty Brians that the narrator has to vet against their desires and their memories of who Brian was. And it plays on uncertainty and the fear that we might not truly know those who mean the most to us. That me might miss them if asked to be entirely certain that they are who they are. It’s a wrenching and yearning story, well executed and a great read! Clones, Relationships, Science!, Experiments. CW- Extremist/Religious Attacks, Death/Euthanaisa(?). [c3 t4]
- “The Ash-Girl and the Salmon Prince” by P H Lee (novelette) - A piece that finds a young woman being raised by awful parents, as related by the storyteller Dusty Boots. The piece takes the shape of a fairy tale, the young woman mistreated and exploited by her parents to the point that they want to marry her off to a magical salmon to solve their problems. Which actually suits her fine, and leads to her happiness, though it’s tempered by a loyalty to her family, a desire for them to love her when really they just don’t. And it’s a story about her coming to terms with that, and finding her own happiness, and still being loyal but not at her expense any longer. And I love the way it plays with fairy tales, avoiding the expected grim ending in favor of breaking the cycle of abuse and finding some measure of freedom and happiness. A wonderful read! Fairy Tales, Fish, Marriage, Bargains, Magic. CW- Abuse, Imprisonment. [c3 t3]
- “The Right Dragon” by Coral Alejandra Moore (short story/flash) - A piece about two women who have become dragon slayers, and what they become when that...doesn’t really work out. One, a storyteller. The other, a story. And there’s a certain tragic draw of the piece even as it finds a way to steer toward inspiration and new life. That there is a certain sorrow and loss being expressed but also the possibility that, through that, there is also escape from the tragic and frustrating cycle they were in, always on the trail of the next dragon, the right one, when that one might never have been met, or was already dead. In the story, the senselessness of the events are swept away and a resolution can be found. A great read! Dragons, Revenge, Queer MC, Stories, Assistive Devices. CW- Death, Amputation/Blood. [c3 t4]
Lightspeed dips back into running a longer story this month, which means the total number of original stories is down to five. There’s a strong sense of memory that falls through the stories, and also storytelling itself. The ways that it can be a powerful tool, the ways that it can give meaning to something as meaningless as death. The way that it can also be a powerful tool of hiding the truth, making it so hard to tell what’s what that death becomes inevitable. A fine issue!
Strange Horizons 09/27/2021 (1 poem total)
- “Corazón Oculto” by Mary Robles (poem) - A short piece that speaks to me of something mysterious, magical. That finds a narrator embracing a power, it seems to me, of stepping into or leaning into a way of being that isn’t concerned with what others think. That doesn’t need to be neat or tidy or clean. That can be wild, that can be messy, that finds its power there, in the insistence of self. And through that there seems also a caring heart here, not just the narrator but someone else as well, and the connection there seems deep and complex. And it’s a quick and lovely piece that definitely worth spending some time with!
The last Strange Horizons of the month and so a short one, with just one original poem I’m covering. But there’s a ton of nonfiction to check out as well, including short fiction reviews and more, as well as some announcements about the editorial situation at the pub. Some great stuff!
Tor dot com 09/2021 (2 short stories, 2 novelettes total)
- “The Wonderful Stag, or the Courtship of Red Elsie” by Kathleen Jennings (short story) - A grim and creeping story about a magical (or maybe magical) stag and a custom in a village for people looking to marry to petition or take from the stag’s antlers one of its golden rings, which are supposed to bring happiness to any union. But one man wanting to marry, wanting wealth and the hand of a woman who doesn’t want him, is willing to go ever further to get his wish when the stag seems to avoid him. And it’s a bloody tale of transgression and punishment, a story about corruption, and the twisting of something joyous into a horror. A fine read! Deer, Rings, Marriage, Rituals. CW- Blood, Death of an Animal, Torture/Mutilation. [c4 t4]
- “The Station of the Twelfth” by Chaz Brenchley (short story) - A story unfolding on Mars, in the aftermath of a war between Britain and Russia, and by extension their Martian colonies. Through Britain was the winner, the situation on Mars is complicated, and the piece visits a particular stop on the monorail of Mars’ largest city, a stop without buildings. Just a giant lawn, a place that represents something that has to be explained. Revealed. As through the framing of the story, an oral account of what this stop means, what happened not there, but somewhere else, leaving this space a marker, a monument, a memory. And it’s an interesting bit of world building, with lots to think about and wonder at. A fine read! Mars, Space Colonization, Monuments, Memorials, Holidays, Festivals. CW- War/Death. [c2 t3]
- “Judge Dee and the Poisoner of Montmartre” by Lavie Tidhar (novelette) - A new Judge Dee novelette that finds Jonathan...not miserable for once! The comforts of Paris are a far cry from desolate mountains or lonely forests, and it means a change in pace for Dee as well, who is among a great many of his kind. Indeed, that becomes the central problem when there’s a murder during a “dinner party” among a group of vampires--there are to many suspects. But the piece moves nicely and briskly, building a mystery with enough twists to be interesting and an ending that incredibly satisfying. A lot of fun here, and a very nice installment in the ongoing Judge Dee saga. A great read! Vampires, Parties, Paris, Queer Characters, Food. CW- Blood, Death, Murder. [c3 t3]
- “Questions Asked in the Belly of the World” by A. T. Greenblatt (novelette) - This piece imagines a World that is alive. Perhaps fungal, where every person has a Voice in their head that allows them to receive and give nutrients to and from the World. A symbiotic relationship that encourages people to care only for art. Art as expression, but also art as opiate and distraction. Pushing aside innovation. Pushing aside anything that isn’t just art. But Eva and Kenji are different. He’s an inventor, and she’s an innovator. And together they have a lot of dangerous ideas. The piece finds them struggling with the world, and trying to find a way to balance their desire to be happy inside it, with their need to escape its restrictions. It’s a beautiful and moving story, and well worth checking out! Art, Relationships, Fungi, Voices. CW- Parasites/Symbionts. [c2 t4]
Four stories this month from Tor, so a full month of offerings, and a neat mix of science fiction and fantasy (though mostly fantasy). The works look at societies that in ways are rigid. That have rules, and have consequences for breaking those rules. Sometimes those consequences are almost good, revolutions that lead to personal freedom and change. Sometimes...not so much. And it means a nicely linked month of stories!
PodCastle #698 (1 short story total)
- “Solace of the Keeper” by Woody Dismukes (short story) - A quiet story that finds a narrator who is sentenced to tend to the dead. To be one of a kind of monk-like order who tends to a large complex of graves and tombs and catacombs. It’s a life that mostly suits them, though it’s mostly isolated, and aside from work they mostly read on their own. But then something happens. A strange encounter in a dusty catacomb. And they find they are being given a choice. Just about what isn’t clear at first, until the narrator can think about the full implications of what’s in front of them, and what their life has to offer, and what the point of stories and storytelling is. It’s a complex and interesting piece that looks at purpose and meaning in some fascinating ways. A great read! Graves, Catacombs, Stories, Portals. CW- Death, Venom/Bugs. [c2 t3]
A rather contemplative story/episode with an eye on stories and who they’re for. What the use of a story is, what value it has, even if there aren’t people around to read it or experience it. And it unfolds in a way that doesn’t exactly feel lonely, though it explores isolation and happiness. A solid episode!
GigaNotoSaurus 09/2021 (1 novelette total)
- “On Milligan Street” by Peter M. Floyd (novelette) - This story finds Dorothy pulled into a kind of quest by an old friend, Manny. Manny, who was always something of a fuckup but who could find things and who might have some supernatural connections. As for Dorothy, not much is going on with her, and when Manny tells her about a mysterious street, and a chance to read her destiny, her purpose, she is pulled along in the wake of that. All the way through the magical doorway and the increasingly nope nope fucking nope creepiness that is Milligan Street. Because when shit starts to hit the fan Dorothy decides to try and save herself, which turns out to be the best choice, given everything. And I love the energy of the piece and the strangeness, and how Dorothy manages to avoid a fate she never chose, literally biting and eating the agency that was going to be stolen from her. A wonderful read! Portals, Fate, Bargains, Friendship, Queer MC. CW- Drug/Alcohol Abuse. [c2 t4]
It’s a pretty long one from GigaNotoSaurus at almost-but-not-quite-a-novella novelette length, and the story itself is an interesting and strange tale that fills the space nicely. It’s part quest, part buddy adventure, part oh-glob-no horror. And it makes for a rather charming installment of the publication!
Anathema #13: The Africa Issue (4 short stories, 2 poems total)
- “Paper Suns” by Kemi Ashing-Giwa (short story) - This story finds Ayo, a Rover, a young man who goes out into the dangerous world to find sustenance for the icegod that his city is built on top of. It’s not a glamorous job, and when that means his transport isn’t functioning with a blizzard bearing down on him, it almost costs him everything. But a chance rescue leads to a much more complicated and no less dangerous situation. The piece is wonderfully built, with a setting that I want to see more of and character work that is careful and wrenching and amazing. Ayo is brash and wounded but also full of energy and a sense of right and wrong that isn’t shaken by the huge things he discovers, and the difficult decisions he has to make. A fantastic read! Cities, Blizzards, Queer Characters, Employment, Eggs. CW- Bullying, Death of Parents, Death/Blood. [c3 t3]
- “Teeny, Tinman’s Fourth Wife” by Liza Wemakor (short story) - A story about a spurned narrator stuck into the folds of The Wiz. Teeny, the narrator, was the wife of Tinman, but was also something of his secret, someone he never wanted other people to see him with, someone he never wanted other people to know he desired. So afraid, so selfish, he ran away in search of a heart, and though Teeny might hope it’s a heart that can love her openly, she also isn’t exactly holding her breath. For me the piece is about fear and love, about the desire that some deny, that some resent, but that can be something beautiful and wonderful as well. If it’s embraced. If it’s nurtured in the light. And I just like how the story comes together, the voice and the rhythm, and the triumphant ending. A great read! The Wiz, Marriage, Love, Wood. CW- Divorce. [c2 t3]
- “A Poem Where the Shelves of My Eyes Tire of Dusts” by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (poem) - This piece unfolds as answers to an unasked question, to a question that in this case can be easily assumed. “What is wrong with you?” And it’s a question that carries a lot of baggage because it’s not a question often asked in good faith. It’s an accusation, it’s an admonishment, it’s a demand to stop...being sad. Or upset. Or in pain. To stop, and yet the narrator here lays out all the ways that there is nothing wrong with them. Not with them. But with the world around them, with the people who could do better, who could make the world better, well...there’s certainly something wrong with them. And for me it leaves the narrator in that place of pain still, neglect still, a condemnation themself, throwing it back in the faces of those who would ask what’s wrong with them. And it’s a fine read!
- “Like the Body of Christ during the Communion” by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (poem) - This piece speaks to me of expectations. The pressures that fall on especially some people to fit into those expectations. To be the good child, the good person, under the scrutiny of neighbors and family members and strangers. To not show those things that will bring shame or embarassment not even necessarily on you but on your family. It sets up this rather impossible situation, where the narrator is caught having to try and be that person, when that person might not be true to them. And for some that’s more than just an inconvenience, more than just an annoying thing to accept. To some it’s sharper than that, their pain at fitting in a violence, an obliteration. At least that’s how I read it, and it’s definitely worth spending some time with!
- “Anomaly” by Chelsea Obodoechina (short story) - A chilling story that unfolds first around the headaches of a woman who has just gone through heart surgery. Jane Walker, who is in terrible pain and can’t find anyone to really take her serious. Who keeps trying to reach out for help only to have the medical establishment slap her hand away. But when the cause of her headaches turns out to be something a little...supernatural, it becomes a fork in the road for her. Down one way, allowing the institutions of power to pack her away out of sight, out of mind. But down the other way... The piece explores pain and belief, and finds a grim way for Jane to finally be taken seriously. A fine read! Headaches, Family, Ghosts. CW- Hospitals/Medical Care, Racism/Microaggressions, Death of a Parent. [c4 t4]
- “Flicker” by Daniel Lawlor (short story) - This story finds the narrator freshly moved into a new home. He’s happy to have found such a nice place cheaply and happy that his life seems to be swinging in an upward trajectory. That is, until he lights a candle and finds it’s talking to him. Or rather, that there seems to be something in the house using the candle to communicate with him. And that, as they communicate, there’s a story that’s revealed. A shared connection and memory that is just waking up in the narrator. A growing horror that isn’t about to go away. And it’s a sinking story about this buried memory coming to light in all its grisly implications, and the promise of something like justice hovering in the shadows the candle cannot dispel. A great read! Candles, Ghosts, Communication/Morse Code, Houses. CW- Death, Assault, Blood. [c4 t4]
A new issue of Anathema is always reason to celebrate, and for lucky issue thirteen they’re doing a special Africa issue, so double awesome! The stories range from thrilling to funny to terrifying, with some lyric stops in poetry along the way, and the issue on a whole does a great job exploring some deep shadows and buried memories, reaching for something hopeful though not always getting there. A wonderful issue!
Works read this year to date: 1019 stories, 299 poems (+22 stories, +6 poems)
Juuuuuuuuust shy of hitting 300 poems! Ah, well. Mermaids Monthly didn’t end up releasing and it was a tight week for me otherwise so alas, it happens. But I did pass one thousand stories read on the year, and 1300 works total, so I mean I’m not slouching, honest. If you want to know the more specific breakdowns, I’ve read 919 short stories, 86 novelettes, and 14 novellas, or there about. Sometimes I guess on stories that don’t have a listed word count and sometimes I’m wrong but most of the time I’m pretty close.
This is almost the end of the September issues. As said above, I do get into October content, but there’s still a few stragglers from September, mostly Hexagon’s latest issue. And October is sure to keep me busy otherwise with fresh releases from Kaleidotrope, Fusion Fragment, Baffling Magazine, and more. If anyone thought I’d be cruising to the end of the year and my quasi-retirement from reviewing, you probably are new to how I operate. Historically speaking, October is actually one of the busiest months for me. Or, wait, THE busiest month. I cranked the numbers on the first six years of Quick Sip Reviews, and in October I averaged reviewing 81.17 works/year. The next closest month was April, with 78.17 works, then August, with 76.5, so there’s actually a fairly marked increase. For those curious, December was my lightest month statistically speaking, with just 67.67 works/year. Just. Hahahaha.
Anyway, I expect this October won’t be a slouch, though I’m not sure it will be my busiest of the year. It’ll be top three definitely, just because it has five Fridays, which means an extra post. But we’ll see how the overall numbers shake out. If anyone asks how I cover so much, I’ll say just break it down by the numbers. Not 1750 works a year but 145 works a month. Only thirty-some works a week. Only…shit, okay, that’s a lot regardless of how you cut it, I guess. Fine. Whatever. I do too much.
The watching of shows has shifted a bit this week, as I’ve been on a schedule that doesn’t let me spend show-watching time with my husband, so I decided to check out Centaurworld, which is pretty cute. Don’t know why I don’t go and get current on Kipo or Gilda, but so it goes. I like what I’ve seen so far and the characters are hilarious. So will probably continue that when I’m on my own and am using both hands to eat. I’ll probably get back to Mallorca with Matt when we’re on our more similar schedule (him on third shift, me on an early second shift), and then…who knows!
Reading, I’ve put a pretty big dent in X-Factor, reading between Marvel Unlimited and my own older Essentials volumes. I’m a bit frustrated at the series on a number of fronts, though. First, it’s missing chunks from Unlimited as early as 12-17. Which…ouch. I realize that there are going to be holes from these not-as-“core” series, as with Excalibur, but there are least there was a pretty unbroken stretch into, like, the #60s-#70s. In continuity, almost all the way to Fatal Attractions. With X-Factor, not so much, and that includes missing out on some first appearances, like Rictor’s. Anyway, luckily I have Essential X-Factor 1,2, and 4. Missing 3 is actually going to be a problem, though, and alas it’s not the cheapest online, but I’ll probably get it for Christmas. Sigh.
Missing issues aside, the series as a whole is just…look, the cast is very bland white bread. Cyclops is at his The Worst best here, having run out on his wife and kid to be with his not-dead girlfriend but also not telling Jean about said wife and kid and argh. Just not good. Meanwhile they’re all being pretty dense when it comes to their mission and what X-Factor under Hodge is really doing. And, well, it’s just that there’s little growth in the characters for a long time. I feel like they’re stuck with these characters being “the original X-Men” and feeling like they can’t change them. So they’re all just…stuck in glue. Hodge and Apocalypse make…okay villains, but even there, there’s not a lot of heart to the book. The young mutants make up for that some, but Rusty and Skids are boring, too, and Boom Boom doesn’t stick around too much. Maybe things will get better. Maybe. We’ll see, I guess. So far it’s dragging behind almost all the other X-Books from the time, though, and it’s no surprise I hardly remember any of these stories. So yeah, that’s me. Cheers!