This week is a bit bigger. Let’s start.
First, Uncanny X-Men #6, by Brian Michael Bendis and Frazer Irving. Last issue ended with the X-Men being torn into Limbo. So we start, naturally, in Atlanta. A woman is breaking up with her boyfriend, who doesn’t want her to go. She stops, then tries to drive away again, then is forced back again. He seems to be controlling her car. Now we head to Limbo. Magik says they were brought to Limbo to punish her, and she’s sorry. The new kids are understandably freaked out, and Magik is pissed. As Dormammu taunts her, Scott decides he’s had enough, and takes off the mask. Frazer’s art, I should note, makes the whole thing terrifying. The double-page spread he does looks like Hell. And then he does another one of San Diego Airport, with broken Sentinels laying around, as Maria Hill is very annoyed. Hill decides they need a mutant expert who’s also a mutant. If you’ve been following any news about the book, you should know who it ends up being. If you don’t, I won’t spoil it. Back to Limbo, Emma has the Cuckoos take control of the team, to make them fighters. Then we get an awesome fight scene. Another great issue. It’s very atmospheric. A lot of the tension comes down to the art, which is very dark and creepy. Bendis does a good job with the characterization, too. And I really like that SHIELD is going to play a continuing role in this book. I’m eager to see how Bendis handles their new mutant expert.
X-Men Legacy #11, written by Simon Spurrier, art by Paul Davidson and Tan Eng Huat. A Dr. Nina Ambrose is complaining about how insane mutant powers are. She’s angered at the idea that they’re the result of evolution, because evolution doesn’t work that way. She says mutants aren’t natural. It’s hard to argue with her. David says he need to know more about the cure before he takes it, to make sure no one will, say, steal his powers and use them against the world. At the JGS, Blindfold eavesdrops on the staff talking about Legion. Doop talks to her. “Psst. Over here.” “I can help you, child. . . Doopspeak.” Ruth has no idea what he’s saying. We then cut to a TV, where the former Nasty Boy Ruckus is saying he wants to be cured. David’s poking around his head. Ruckus takes the pill, and loses his powers and his mind. Ruth asks Chamber for help with helping David. Chamber seems less than eager. David’s introduced to a bunch of people crippled from mutants fighting things. Someone crushed by a Krakoa boulder. Another burned by Phoenix fire. All of them as reasonable as Marcus. David borrows a bit of their calmness and confidence, and they pass out. Ruth asks for Frenzy’s help. We find out what was behind Marcus’s group. It’s a monster bearing Xavier’s face, calling him a disappointment. Karasu refuses to help Blindfold, but Pixie joins up. And then we find out who was really behind Marcus’s facility. Crazy stuff. This is pretty good. Blindfold’s team is cool. Chamber! Yay! And Pixie! And Frenzy. I’m looking forward to that. It’s great to see Chamber in action again. It’s been too long since he really got to do anything. (Side note: I’m still hoping for a Generation X reunion. Get on it, Marvel.)
Uncanny Avengers #8AU, written by Rick Remender and Gerry Duggan (he had a busy week), art by Adam Kubert. Kang is talking to Uriel and Eimin, offering to help them prevent the annihilation of the mutant race. (He also has Scott Lang and Eric O’Grady in an ant colony, fighting ants to the death.) He takes them back in time, to the alternate reality Wolverine made by killing Pym, to teach them a lesson about the dangers of killing people before their time. Colonel America meets Alex Summers in the sewers, where Alex is leading the Morlocks, with Rogue as his wife. Colonel America was apparently married to Wanda, before she died. The Colonel’s there to bring Caliban to the surface on a murder charge, but Havok refuses. Then Uriel and Eimin attack. Havok says they’re not Morlocks, and America leads them away. Uriel almost kills him, but Havok comes to the rescue. Uriel kills him. Rogue shows up, and attacks in rage. He stabs Rogue, but she touches him to absorb his memories. She tells him Kang is leading them astray. Eimin kills her. It’s not bad. I’ll admit, I have trouble seeing what influence Duggan might have had here. This is not a fun comic. It’s dark and a little disturbing. There’s no humour to be had. But it’s well-written. It’s a good story.
A+X #8. This is two stories. The first, by Gerry Duggan and Salvador Larrocca, features Shadowcat and Spider-Woman (and Lockheed). The three of them are on a train. Kitty’s annoyed and wondering why she’s there, and Spider-Woman explains she tracked a courier for the Russian Mafia who has a piece of space metal. Apparently, Lockheed can smell the metal, which is why she called him in. Apparently, they met when they worked for SWORD. Which reminds me: Kieron Gillen’s SWORD mini a few years ago was awesome. And Bendis’s Spider-Woman series a while back, where she worked for SWORD, was also good. Lockheed catches the scent, and the girls follow him to where Absorbing Man is kicking Hydra and AIM ass. While Lockheed and Spider-Woman wade into the fight, Kitty grabs the space rock. Only when she’s holding it does she ask if it’s radioactive. She keeps it away from the Absorbing Man, then finally lets him have it. Spider-Woman is a little concerned, but Kitty just explains how far she’s come with her powers. Then she phases her hand into Absorbing Man’s head and micro-concusses some blood vessels. Kitty then puts AIM and Hydra to work cleaning up the mess they helped make. Because Kitty is awesome. It’s definitely a fun story. Duggan’s been co-writing Deadpool, which is an amazingly unclever book. So I’m thinking Posehn might be the main one to blame for how terrible that book is. Because this was clever. It was fun. The art was standard, which worked for the story. So, this was good. The second story, by Christopher Hastings and Reilly Brown, features Hawkeye and Deadpool. Hawkeye’s talking to Deadpool while driving through a train station. He drives into the subway, while Deadpool says he might’ve found a hole in the waste management systems of the Iron Man armour. Hawkeye swerves into a tunnel, barely avoiding getting hit by a train – Hawkeye is apparently crazier than Deadpool – and they emerge from the tunnel into a cave with a sub in it. A pirate calls them Purple Arrow and Ninja Spider-Man. That made me laugh. Deadpool decides to use a bow. He even has trick arrows – specifically, an arrow with a Hulk fist attached to the end. Full of explosives. Hawkeye does an impressive shot, and Deadpool tries to call him something he doesn’t get often. Legolas? All the time. Hunger Games? Heard it. The Girl from Brave! Sorry. The Fox Version of Robin Hood. The villain they’re up against is revealed as Captain Barracuda. Yep. He cuts off Deadpool’s arm, then pulls out the Horn of Proteus. Which Deadpool shoves his arm into to keep it from blowing. It’s another fun story. Very funny. Hawkeye and Deadpool play off each other surprisingly well. Hawkeye was hilarious, and that helped make Deadpool more amusing, too. Though Hawkeye was oddly cool with the pirates getting killed. Oh well. It was still funny.
Deadpool #10, written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, art by Mike Hawthorne. Preston and Franklin are furious at Deadpool for killing Michael, and Franklin leaves. Michael’s in line to get into Hell, and says he eneds to speak with Mephisto. Back in the world, Deadpool’s scaling a building to get to a pre-cognitive. Preston suggests they go to SHIELD about her being in his head, and he points out they’ll just throw him in a cell and figure out how to weaponize what happened. Deadpool gets attacked at the top, and saved by Spider-Man. They fight through some thugs, with Deadpool taking out Batroc while talking about how lame some of Spidey’s villains are, saying Dr. Octopus must have been the worst. The pre-cog shows up with a bomb vest, and stalls while his other mercs arrive. Taskmaster, Chance, Paste-Pot Pete, and best of all, Lady Stilt-Man! Fight fight fight, Deadpool steals one of Spider-Man’s webshooters to chase Lady Stilt-Man and the pre-cog. He takes down Lady Stilt-Man and kills the pre-cog. Then Spider-Man knocks him out. Meh. Slightly less awful than usual, but still an empty and shallow comic. At least it has Lady Stilt-Man. She’s awesome. I love Lady Stilt-Man.
There’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.
First, Young Avengers #5, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton. First up, the recap page features the hashtags #hopefullytheydon’tdie #WE MEAN IT, KIERON! I love YA’s recap pages. While the YA fight off hordes of zombie goo adults, Billy slips into Noh-Varr’s ship and prepares to kill himself while wishing he was someone better. We then cut to Loki explaining who he is and why he’s a child. Turns out Loki’s talking to . . . himself. One Loki’s real, the other is a guilty conscience. Turns out Evil Loki was actually changed by taking over Kid Loki’s body, and now, even though he wants to be evil, he can’t do it. Then he stops Billy from committing suicide. Outside the ship, the YA get a power-up from Loki, allowing them to seriously damage the adults. Then we get another of McKelvie’s trademark awesome layouts, in a double-page spread of the team kicking the asses of Miss America’s and Noh-Varr’s parents. Loki’s in the centre, sitting in a pentagram, and the other five are surrounding that pentagram. It’s great. Loki passes out, and the team jumps back into the ship, and they escape. When Loki wakes up, he reveals that the dead parent spell is location-based. That’s why Laufey showed up near the world-tree, but not in New York, and why Kate’s mother didn’t show up. So they need to stay away from anywhere their parents are or were. This is, of course, great. As if it could ever be anything but awesome. Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery run was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read, largely based on the depth he gave Kid Loki. So it’s great to see that Evil kid Loki is being written just as complex, just as torn between his wants and – who ever would’ve expected it – his conscience. Kid Loki’s not dead yet! The action’s exciting, the dialogue’s sharp and clever, the layouts are excellent, and the characters are all compelling. Next issue has guest art from Kate Brown, and features Speed and Prodigy (of the New X-Men). Should be good.
And, finally, Fearless Defenders #4AU, by Cullen Bunn and Phil Jimenez. In Latveria, some robots are scanning a crash, and find two survivors, Hippolyta and Caroline le Fay. The wreckage of the Destroyer armour is sprawled out across a chunk of the area, with big holes in it. There’s big games being held in Latveria – it’s day 1206 of the games – to celebrate Latveria standing against the gods and winning. Three days earlier, Caroline shows Hippolyta the massacre of the Amazons at Doom’s hand, and Hippolyta, who’d been serving as a Defender, leaves with her to get vengeance. We cut back to the present, with the two in a prison cell. We get her background, which I don’t think has been explained yet. She’s the daughter of Doom and Morgan le Fay. Her mother sent her to the future – our present – for unknown reasons. She wants vengeance against them both. Hippolyta and Caroline are taken into the arena, to fight against the fallen Amazons, and some deadly killers (including Misty, and I think Callisto and Deathstrike). Caroline realizes the Doom standing there isn’t her father, and Hippolyta kicks some ass before throwing a blade to decapitate him. Turns out Ares was behind it. He joined up with Morgana, and was given Latveria to rule, behind the scenes, while a Doombot was the public figurehead. He’s wielding Mjolnir, its magic dead with Thor. He declares that he killed the Amazons as vengeance for Hippolyta’s death. She kicks his ass, and prepares to lead the Amazons against Morgana. It would be cool to see that. This was a cool issue. Hippolyta’s cool. She’s given some depth here, though I’m not sure how much of it applies to the normal version. This was just a neat foray into the alternate reality in general. It was fun.
Hey, reviews two days in a row. Today’s story is titled “Tell Joey I Love Him!”
Dazzler’s having a nightmare about fighting supervillains, then wakes up in a hospital. The nurse is cranky and rude, but the doctor seems attracted to her. Dazzler’s kept in the hospital overnight. When she’s in her room, she hears the old woman in the next bed talking in her sleep about Joey. We then cut to a rough neighbourhood, where some crooks are complaining about how much of the cut from their profits goes to Bo Barrigan, the man running the numbers concession in town. The Blue Shield busts in and beats them up a bit. He’s very aggressive.
The next day, the doctor, Paul, tells Dazzler about the old woman, Anita Cartelli. 20 years ago, her husband was killed when he and young Joey witnessed an attempted hit on Bo Barrigan. Barrigan took Joey under his wing, breaking Anita’s heart. Paul then invites Dazzler out to brunch, but she takes a raincheck. She’s happy, right up until she sees her hospital bill. $277.83. By today’s standards, it’s actually almost cute to think of that as a large hospital bill. These days, you could end up paying that for a single X-ray. Or more. Or less. Depending on what hospital you’re at. Because the US health care system is totally broken, with prices set seemingly arbitrarily by each hospital, even if they’re only blocks apart. Seriously, people, single-payer. It works here in Canada, and just about every other developed country in the world.
Ah, well, rant over. Dazzler visits her manager, Harry, who tells her that her disappearing act at the UN got a lot of publicity, meaning he’s got some jobs lined up for her. She gets an advance to cover her hospital bill and some groceries. When she gets home, she thinks of the old woman, and decides to try to help her. She calls the Avengers and asks Beast for information on Bo Barrigan, then heads to the office building he works out of. Bo Barrigan is holding a meeting of his top men, about the Blue Shield situation. He talks about a Terror Tank he’s stolen – a one-man garbage-can-looking device that’s apparently highly advanced. Bo takes his men to see the tank, but leaves Cartelli behind, saying he’s the only one Bo trusts. But it turns out Joey is secretly the Blue Shield! Gasp! What a shocking development! Who could’ve possibly seen that coming? Cartelli blows Dazzler off on his way out.
She tracks him to a waterfront, but loses him. She looks inside a warehouse, and sees the silly-looking Terror Tank that we’re supposed to find intimidating. But it looks like a big trash can with guns. She’s found, and taken to see Bo. She turns on her radio, then starts blinding them. The Blue Shield busts in to help, failing to impress Dazzler. Bo slips into the Terror Tank, and actually manages to take the Blue Shield out of the fight. Then he chases Dazzler, who uses her light to scramble some of the Tank’s sensors, so that the screens inside turn off. He still has other sensors to track her with, but she lures him off the dock so the Tank falls into the water. The Blue Shield recovers in time to save Bo, then Dazzler delivers her message.
Later, the Blue Shield visits his mother in the hospital. Dazzler sees it, and it makes her feel good. She and Paul then go out to lunch, while the nurse disapproves.
This issue was actually somewhat less ridiculous than usual. Dazzler vs. Doom is absurd. Dazzler vs. common thugs actually seems pretty reasonable. The Blue Shield is a bit of a lame character, but considering she even calls him “small-time,” at least it doesn’t feel like we’re supposed to think he’s great. Frank Springer’s art is mediocre. I wonder if I might be a little biased against Springer as a result of his work with Frank Robbins on Invaders. That was seriously one of the ugliest books I have ever read. I can’t understand how Frank Robbins got work as an artist, because he can’t draw. Anyway, I just think Springer just wasn’t a particularly great artist. Dazzler remains lacking in a personality. And now she has a boyfriend with just as little personality. Paul is as bland as she is. His character ultimately ends up being “Dazzler’s boyfriend.” I’m a big fan of character-driven stories. Dazzler, though, is less interesting when it’s focusing on the character than it is when it’s doing crazy action stuff.
So I’ve got two comics today. One is a What If, but first, Bizarre Adventures, which featured a trio of X-Men solo stories.
First up, by Chris Claremont and John Buscema, “The Brides of Attuma.” We start with Jean’s sister, Sara, visiting Jean’s grave, a year after Jean’s death. She comments on the fact that Jean’s body isn’t even buried there, but she feels like Jean’s there. She confesses to being worried about her son reaching puberty, and the possibility of him being a mutant. Then we cut back two years. Jean and Sara are on vacation with Scott and Sara’s husband. Sara knows about Jean being Phoenix, and finds it a bit unsettling. The two go sailing, and things are tense. They sail into a fog bank, and pass out. Jean has a flashback (which is a little odd, since I’m pretty sure they were already in Sara’s flashback) to her childhood, and her friend, Annie, being killed by a car. Jean was in Annie’s mind when Annie passed, and it did serious damage to her. Her parents took her to a bunch of psychologists, but her depression remained. Finally, Xavier came, cut off her telepathy, and helped her with her telekinesis.
Jean and Sara awake underwater, able to actually breathe the water. Sara freaks out, and Jean calms her down, though something’s inhibiting her power somewhat. They’re then brought to Attuma, who tells them they’ll be his brides. His plan is to abduct female mutants, transform them into water-breathers, and knock them up so their kids can be used in the war against Namor. Clearly, this is a long-term plan. Jean’s mind has cleared enough that she can bring her powers into play, though, knocking Attuma through a wall and then blowing up the psychic dampers. She flees with Sara, and they eventually return to land. There, Jean breaks Sara down, cell by cell, and turns her back into an air-breather. Then Jean blocks off Sara’s memory of the day’s events.
Back to the present. The block faded with Jean’s death. Sara reflects on how proud she’ll be if her kids are half the people Jean was. It’s a nice, bittersweet story. The framing device is very good. The main story is pretty cool, and I kinda wonder if the later Atlantis Attacks! event might’ve drawn some inspiration from this one-off.
The second story, by Mary Jo Duffy and George Pérez, is “Winter Carnival.” Bobby Drake’s visiting Dartmouth College. The theme of the Winter Carnival that year is superheroes, and he’s admiring an ice sculpture of Angel. Bobby gripes about Angel being the only X-Man present, then whips up a quick ice sculpture of himself. Some frat guys seem annoyed at its presence, and then Bobby starts a big snowball fight. When it’s over, a professor screams for help, and some crooks run out with pieces of a new computer system. Iceman stops them. The crowd asks him to join the festivities, and he agrees, having a great time. After, a police Lieutenant asks about the earlier theft attempt, and Iceman gets suspicious when none of the students know the teacher who sounded the alarm.
That night, the crooks from earlier are back at it, boasting about “Thatcher’s” plan. He staged the phony robbery so an extra box could be smuggled in with a man inside to turn off the alarms in the computer centre. Thatcher is the professor from earlier. Thatcher talks about how, in New York, the crime could never be committed because of how many superheroes there are, which is why he waited for Pym’s computer to reach Dartmouth. He then notices two statues of Iceman. He takes down the crooks, and then Thatcher fires from his cane. He holds Iceman off with the cane-blaster, then stumbles into a frat party. Thatcher sets off a chain reaction in his cane that’ll kill everyone, so Iceman surrounds it with ice, then lifts it high into the sky.
The third story, written by Bob Layton and Mary Jo Duffy, with pencils by Dave Cockrum, is a Nightcrawler story called “Show Me the Way To Go Home. . . .” It starts with the X-Men settling down to watch Nightcrawler’s favourite movie (“The Mark of Zorro,” apparently). Cerebro goes off, and says it’s found half a mutant in Poughkeepsie. The X-Men check it out, and find the Vanisher, half-in and half-out. Back in Champions #17, the Vanisher had tried to teleport, but Darkstar used her Darkforce on him, and it screwed him up. Now, this. Nightcrawler touches him, and the two disappear, going through a trippy warp where they see alternate versions of themselves (female Vanisher is not pleasant), before Nightcrawler finds himself in a forest, and some women offer him a job as a god. Men are hard to come by in that reality, so the women treat well the ones they find. He also finds he can’t teleport. Vanisher’s in the same situation elsewhere.
Nightcrawler’s getting more information from his ladies. It’s . . . interesting. Very amusing. The women are oddly blasé about everything. They take him to see the Oracle, which turns out to be a TV. She tells him about a crater nearby (the Well at the Centre of Time – remember that name for Nightcrawler’s solo mini in a couple years!) that he can jump into to get home, but he has to go in with exactly what he came out with. He tracks down Vanisher, leading to a brief swordfight (which includes Nightcrawler shouting “Cafe au lait!”). He manages to subdue the Vanisher, and drags him to the Well. Vanisher doesn’t want to jump in, due to his philosophical opposition to dying. Vanisher lashes out with his Darkforce suit, but it does no good. In fact, Nightcrawler finds it rather amazing. Then a monster appears, and the two jump in to avoid getting eaten. They wind up back in Poughkeepsie, right after they left it. With Vanisher now naked.
It’s a silly story, but it’s really fun. Very funny. Vanisher is such a loser. It’s hilarious seeing how pathetic he is. Nightcrawler gets to show off his wit and his wits. Some elements of this story did get used in a Nightcrawler mini in a couple years.
The other comic today is What If? #27, by Mary Jo Duffy and Jerry Bingham, “What If Phoenix Had Not Died?” After 4 pages telling us what happened in the normal reality, we start the alternate reality. Jean takes a blast that was meant for Scott, knocking her out, and spelling the defeat of the X-Men. She has her powers stripped from her. Back on Earth, Jean’s behaving a bit oddly, serving the team tea, and generally being docile. Soon, she starts monitoring the team in the Danger Room. The Shi’ar then ask the X-Men’s help to save the planet Arama from Galactus. The X-Men fly out, with Angel, Havok and Polaris along, but get their asses handed to them by Terrax. Jean somehow senses the danger Scott’s in, and turns back into Phoenix. She turns Terrax back to flesh, then fights Galactus. Galactus leaves, telling her that she has the powers of a god, and will eventually have the hungers of one, as well. Back on Earth, Kitty finds herself lonely, but notices Xavier having headaches. Jean is trying to control her power, to ensure she doesn’t go Dark Phoenix again. She starts going out at night, feeding on small planetoids. After destroying some Sentinels. she feeds on a small star with no inhabited planets, figuring there’s no harm. When she returns, Kitty confronts her, and Jean kills her. Xavier attacks her telepathically, and she kills him, too. She then slams Angel into a wall, buries Storm alive, slams Iceman into another wall, burns Nightcrawler, throws Wolverine at Colossus to slice him open, burns Wolverine, kills Polaris, and kills Havok. That only leaves Cyclops. Once he’s dead, she loses control entirely, and starts to destroy the whole universe.
It’s a pretty good issue. What If? always suffered a bit from having to cram a lot of content into limited space. Duffy does a pretty good job keeping plenty of good character work. Of course, it should be noted that we actually know, more or less, what would’ve happened if Phoenix had lived. She would’ve sulked for a while, and then in issue #150, Magneto would’ve offered her back her power, and she would’ve refused. Then she would’ve gotten a happy ending. But I doubt Duffy knew most of that. She was likely aware of the lobotomy – she probably heard about it in the Marvel offices, considering how crazy the situation was with the last-minute rewrites. I can’t imagine no one involved didn’t complain about it to anyone in earshot.
Anyway. Tomorrow, Dazzler.
OK, I need to start doing my reviews again. Well, here I go, with “Rogue Storm!”
We start with Nightcrawler teleporting outside Doom’s castle, two miles above the ground, in the heavy storm. The effort nearly killed him. He falls, but catches an updraft that slows his fall so he can land in the water more safely. It takes him an hour to swim to shore. Arcade taunts Doom about Nightcrawler’s escape, but Doom is more concerned with the weather.
Meanwhile, Colossus switches to flesh and jumps off the rock he’s clinging to into the whirlpool. The lasers don’t blast him. He changes back to metal at the bottom, then punches through the wall to escape. Angel jumps off his own perch, flying through the laser maze, which then explodes behind him. Then he gets hit by a ton of water. Wolverine has a flashback to almost killing James and Heather Hudson. James told him to think, not just react, and Wolverine got himself under control. He thinks about how his control’s been slipping again recently. He bounces himself off a wall, and slashes the next one he bounces off of. He keeps doing that. Eventually, he manages to break the room.
He tracks down Doom and Arcade, and scraps the Storm-bot. Nightcrawler distracts Doom long enough for Wolverine to get close and threaten him. Doom agrees to let Storm go. Nightcrawler tosses a globe at her to return her to flesh. Then things get crazy. Storm’s lost control. Doom says he needs to reach his lab to stop her. She taunts him. Colossus shouts at Storm to remember Phoenix, which brings her back to normal. She manages to disperse the storm, nearly killing herself in the process.
Finally, Storm asks Doom to let Arcade go, and Doom agrees if Arcade apologizes. It’s not a very convincing apology, but it’s sufficient. Doom apologizes to Storm, and she declares the slate clean, with them parting as neither friends nor enemies.
As an epilogue, Scott and Lee wake up on the beach. Scott calls her Jean, which shocks her, but then she’s more shocked by the city off-shore.
It’s a great issue. The various methods the X-Men use to escape is cool. Wolverine gets some good characterization with his. Colossus gets to show a bit of brains, and then brings Storm back to herself. Doom is cool. So arrogant, but he shows some nice humanity at the end, with his apology to Storm, and desire to start fresh with her. Sadly, nothing’s ever done with that. It might’ve been cool if they’d later met up again on more civil terms. The Doom in this arc is later revealed, by John Byrne, as a Doombot. Storm’s loss of control, of course, was terrifying. She seemed utterly inhuman. She actually became a goddess. It was great. She even got to make a callback to some of Doom’s private thoughts two issues ago, when she asked if he feared her. Awesome issue.
I also want to mention that this month featured Fantastic Four #232, the first issue of John Byrne’s legendary run on the title. Right off the bat, it was great, and a return to glory for the FF.
I’ll also mention Man-Thing #11, which featured Chris Claremont (the writer of the book) getting caught up in the craziness inside the issue. This follows in the tradition of Steve Gerber including himself as a character.
There were a couple other comics out that month that featured the X-Men, but I think I’ll split them into another post.
This is a very light week. May as well get started. I’ll update to add Cable & X-Force once I’ve had a chance to read it.
First, as always, X-Factor #256, by Peter David and Leonard Kirk. Polaris walks up to Mephisto’s castle, and blows a chunk of it up for Monet. He sends Satana to tell the Hell Lords that any who swear allegiance to him will be released. Polaris has an army of demonic Madroxes backing her up. Satana finds the Hell Lords all dead. Tier then slaughters Satana, to the shock of everyone except Longshot, who takes it in stride. Outside, Layla is keeping the original Madrox in a force field bubble, and admits that she has no idea how it all ends. X-Factor finds Mephisto and the fight goes less than well. Shatterstar and Rictor get destroyed, and then Mephisto goes after Rahne. Tier freaks out and reaches him first. But then something very unexpected happens. I won’t spoil it, because you should really be reading this book yourself. Needless to say, it’s a shocker, to be expected from Peter David, who has a knack for doing the unexpected. It’s a great issue. Lots of cool action, plenty of emotional moments, and great characterization through it all. I’m just wondering if this will change anything in the greater Marvel U. Probably not, which is a shame. Ah well.
Wolverine and the X-Men #29, by Jason Aaron and Ramon Perez. Wolverine is thanking everyone for being at the school, admitting that he has no idea what he’s doing, but that he believes in the school. I can’t say I care much for the art on the group shot, but it was nice to see some characters who I figure Aaron may have forgotten even exist. Ernst and No-Girl from Morrison’s New X-Men, Cipher and Graymalkin from Young X-Men. Petty complaint: Face should’ve been next to Karma, not all the way on the other side of the group. Anyway, his speech is interspersed with scenes of Wolverine and Beast trying to find a trace of Dog, including Wolverine admitting that his birthname is James. People start putting things inside a time capsule, with Quire putting a Cyclops Was Right t-shirt and Idie putting her Bible (and then telling Quire to stay out of her life). Then we cut to 25 years in the future, and the JGS of the future, which is thriving. It even has campuses in New Beijing, Sea Francisco, and an Anole Industries prototype colony on the moon. Looks like Kitty and Bobby have a kid with both their powers, and Sasquatch is apparently a teacher. Wolverine finds the capsule, then teleports up to a Sentinel head in orbit where Eye-Boy is watching the world. Wolverine wants in to use the time travel tech to send himself a message. Instead, he sends back the key to Dog’s box, with a thank-you note, at Eye-Boy’s suggestion. It’s an OK issue. The future is kinda neat, I guess. But, as usual, there’s really no characterization, beyond Wolverine himself. Maybe a bit of Beast. And I guess a little bit of future Eye-Boy. Considering the job Aaron’s doing on Thor, writing three different Thors, each unique, and each getting deep characterization, it’s amazing how weak and shallow the characterization is in WatXM. I think maybe Aaron’s just not a good fit for this series. He’s better at darker books. This might be too light for his style.
Gambit #12, written by James Asmus, with pencils by Clay Mann, Dexter Soy and Leonard Kirk. Rogue and Gambit fly a helicopter to a hospital near where the stolen Quinjet was picked up, and see Tombstone get defenestrated. Gambit chases after Tombstone with a jetpack. Rogue lands the helicopter, and Joelle says to move aside so she can chase Tombstone. Tombstone intentionally crashes his car, sending Gambit sprawling. Joelle’s daughter dies, and Joelle stops fighting Rogue, but still wants to chase Tombstone. Gambit kicks the canister out of Tombstone’s hand, and a few drops cause major damage where it lands. Before Tombstone can kill Gambit, Joelle uses the helicopter to send him flying. Into the area with the destructive liquid. Then Joelle tells Gambit that she nearly died in childbirth, before she was offered a chance to live forever, and she took it. And then she uses the last drop in the canister to commit suicide. It’s a good issue. Some fun stuff, and some emotional stuff. And some good art.
Wolverine MAX #7, written by Jason Starr, pencils by Felix Ruiz and Guillermo Mogorron. Logan busts in and asks, Katie, the woman he was escorting, about Franky, saying Franky killed Dog (Logan’s dog). She goes with him to bury Dog, and tells him about Franky. He’s a porn producer, and a drug dealer. While he buries Dog, Franky’s men abduct Katie. He heads to Franky’s place, planning on killing him. This is meh. I don’t really care.
There’s the X-titles. Now a few Now! titles.
We’ll start with Nova #4, by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Nova’s floating near Jupiter after being blasted. Some Chitauri head out to take his helmet, but he’s actually awake, and he fights back quickly and effectively. He busts into one of the ships, and gets attacked by Titus, the tiger-like guy from the stories his dad told. Titus says that Sam’s dad abandoned them. Sam’s dad always said that the other Novas told him to leave, but Titus says that was a lie. Titus decided to make a bargain with the Chitauri, giving them the Recorder his team had captured. Within, they learned the secret to making an Ultimate Nullifier. Titus also killed Sam’s father a week earlier. Sam manages to escape, taking the Nullifier with him. Very nice. This series continues to be solid. The art, of course, is fantastic. McGuinness is an awesome artist, so anything he does is going to look gorgeous. But Loeb’s writing is very good, too. Sam is interesting, and his reactions feel like those of someone who doesn’t really believe what’s going on. He’s treating everything like it’s a game or a movie, and it actually works. He’s a teenager, he figures he’s invincible. Anyway, definitely a good book.
Avengers: The Enemy Within #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Scott Hepburn. This is the start of a crossover between Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble, both excellent books being written by DeConnick. Carol is putting up missing posters of “Grandma Rose,” the sweet old lady who kept calling her Captain America, while thinking about her lesion and the hallucinations she’s about to start having. Spider-Woman’s trying to cheer her up, but Carol’s not in the mood. It’s an amazing scene. We don’t often really get to see superheroes just interacting. DeConnick writes them with humour, compassion, anger – as people reacting to difficult circumstances. We get a brief scene of Yon-Rogg going into Carol’s apartment, looking for something. Then we cut to Carol and Jessica finding the Grapplers. Lady wrestlers turned supervillains. Jessica gets one of the best quips ever: “The last time you gals were a going concern, we were all into pouches and asymmetrical haircuts!” Awesome. Unfortunately, Poundcakes’ footstomps are affecting Carol’s lesion, forcing her to fly to avoid it. Poundcakes then tells her Rose is in Central Park. Carol uses her airbike to get there, and meets Thor, who’s agreed to help out. They find a couple dinosaurs. Rose is inside, and so is a scrap of paper with Carol’s address. She rushes home, meeting Jessica there, but no one’s inside. She scares the hell out of Chewie, though. Then she finds some souvenirs she’d collected. A snowglobe with a pair of dinosaurs. A mugshot of Deathbird. Grappler dolls. And an envelope she kept a scrap of the Psyche-Magnitron in. This is a great comic. DeConnick is a fantastic writer, who infuses characters with humanity. The story’s full of drama and humour in equal measures, with even Thor cracking wise before bringing the hammer down. And the friendship between Carol and Jessica is a real highlight. I definitely recommend reading this. You should be picking up Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble, too. Especially Captain Marvel – we need to prove that Marvel’s female characters can hold a series.
Age of Ultron #8, by BrianMichael Bendis and Brandon Peterson. Tony Stark is viewing the memories of Wolverine and Sue, and is amazed at it. Xavier and Emma – fully covered yet still oozing sex appeal – confirm that the memories are true. Tony’s concerned about Morgana le Fey. Interesting. Tony goes to interrogate Wolverine, and says he lost half his body in a Latveria-Asgard war, torn in half trying to keep Morgana from conquering North America in addition to Europe. Very interesting. And very cool. Morgana’s always a neat villain. Anyway, turns out the Avengers broke up not long after Wolverine killed Pym, and then magic beat technology, and Asgard abandoned Earth. The Defenders decide to go talk to Susan and Wolverine. They bust into Sue’s cell, but she’s not there. Then the door closes. Then Morgana shows up, riding a dragon, with an army of horn-headed Doombots. Yep, this reality’s awesome. The fight’s pretty fun. And I just love this alternate reality. It’s so interesting. The writing’s solid. Still not a lot of characterization for Sue, but she does get to show how badass she is by breaking out of restraints. Wolverine also gets little, but it’s pretty deep when he does get it. Stark is the star of this issue, and he’s very interesting. He’s clearly not happy with his world. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the one who sends Wolverine back to stop himself from killing Pym.
Edit: I’ve now had a chance to read Cable & X-Force #8, by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca. Brand captures Colossus and Cable while the crazy alien criminal blows up some SWORD ships. Brand tells the two about Kliktok the Cruel, a criminal wanted in 12 different star systems, with 40 different planets wanting to execute him. His strategy was to attack planets at war, while the soldiers were off-planet, and massacring the population, destroying everything they care about, and eating them. Cable shows Brand what would’ve happened if Kilktok hadn’t been released: Aliens were going to attack the Earth, killing millions in an attempt to kill Kliktok. She agrees to help Cable rescue his team. Forge has the ship sending out a signal so other races can find it. Kliktok is talking to Domino, wondering why she isn’t afraid. She says fearlessness is her power. Then a hidden bomb blows up the engine, stranding the ship while a whole lot of ships approach it. Colossus is launched through Kliktok’s ship (“Spaceball Special”), and then promptly tosses the alien out while apologizing to Domino, who thanks him for the save but says she’s not a damsel in distress. It’s a good issue. It was nice learning what the point of the Raft attack was. Domino’s great. So cool and collected. And Kliktok was awesomely evil. We didn’t get to see the Forge and Nemesis buddy team, sadly, or Boom Boom.
I’ve been playing Dynasty Warriors 7 a lot the past week or so. I’ve been too distracted by it to post. So now I need to start posting again. Starting with today’s issue, “Here Nightmares Abide!”
Doom is boasting about his gem, and makes a quick demonstration of the “Robotrons” that’ll blast her if she tries to escape. He then sends her after the second Merlin Stone he detected in another reality. Back at the UN, Osgood and Lance are trying to figure out what happened to Dazzler, but the police don’t know. The Human Torch is helping with the investigation, and overhears the Latverian ambassador mumbling about Doom. We also check in with Dazzler’s father, who finds himself disturbed by the fact that he’s not crying about his daughter going missing.
Back to Dazzler, who’s in a weird world gone mad. She lands on a bridge, and stats rollerblading along. She’s chased by some weird monsters, which catch her. Doom is watching, and seeing her fall, he turns off his screen. He muses about how he’s the only one who can lead the world through the dark days ahead. After he stops watching, she breaks free with her light, and then passes out. She wakes up surrounded by giant heads of her father chewing her out, but she gets angry and blasts them.
In the real world, the Human Torch tells the others that he thinks Doom’s back in action, then rushes off again to look for Dazzler. Dazzler, meanwhile, is attacked by a dark, evil version of herself. They start blasting at each other, and get into a stalemate, until Dazzler tricks her into shouting. Dazzler absorbs her dark counterparts shouts to strengthen her own powers, and wins the standoff. And now Nightmares shows up. Turns out it was his realm Dazzler was fighting through. As usual, Dazzler does way better than she has any right to, and actually manages to force him to give up the Merlin Stone.
Doom brings her back, and congratulates her on a job well done. She tricks the robots into blasting each other, then fires another light blast that destroys the Merlin Stones. Doom’s angry, but she’s fed up, and she blasts at him. He shoots the ceiling above her, but has to leave when a monitor shows the Human Torch approaching.
This was fun. Absurd, but fun. The idea that Dazzler could actually challenge Nightmare was more than a little silly. But that’s sorta the point of this series. Sadly, the characterization continues to be much less entertaining than the action. Doom had the best characterization of the issue. Dazzler herself continues to be painfully generic.
Another relatively light week. Which means there should be a ridiculously heavy week coming up soon.
First up, Uncanny X-Force #4, by Sam Humphries and Ron Garney. Spiral’s trying to get Ginny away, but they’re attacked by Bishop. In the mindscape, the bear is roaring at Psylocke. She gets kicked out. Outside, Spiral takes the fight to Bishop. Dark Fantomex attacks Fantomex. Ginny tries to take control of Bishop, but fails and gets grabbed. Storm fries Bishop, weakening him enough for Puck to punch him out. Psylocke calls out Spiral for more fighting, but Spiral’s already broken by Ginny going missing. Storm comforts Psylocke. Humphries clearly follows in the Claremontian tradition of loving Les Yay. Puck then gloats about being 10′ of ass-kicking in a 4′ body, with whiskey for blood and veins in his teeth. Psylocke still hates him, but Storm seems to really like him, as she should, because Puck is awesome. Seriously, just so awesome. I love this book. It’s great. Plenty of funny stuff, but also plenty of dramatic stuff. Spiral’s sympathetic and even pitiable, which she hasn’t really been in a long time. The friendship between Storm and Psylocke is very strong. And Puck remains awesome. Great series, definitely worth picking up.
Astonishing X-Men #62, by Marjorie Liu and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Mystique steals some kittens from Sabretooth and takes a bath while Iceman talks to a doctor about some nightmares he’s been having. Her water turns to ice, but he doesn’t show up. Bobby leaves the psychiatrist and walks to a cafe, where Gambit, Kitty and Xi’an are talking about Hatchi Tech. Kitty asks for his accounting expertise, and he kisses her, surprising her. There’s some heavy snow coming in, and Gambit jokes that people are calling it the apocalypse, which makes Bobby flip out. He apologizes and says he’s been on edge. Great time for Lorna to walk in. She says Bobby called her and said he missed her. Bobby says it wasn’t him. So now it’s time for Opal! Again, Bobby says he didn’t contact her. And then Annie. Assuming that’s Nurse Annie, she looks a little different than I remember. Gambit talks to Jubilee on the phone, talking about Bobby’s problems and the weird weather, when Mystique walks in on him. After a brief fight, she says she wanted to warn Gambit that something’s wrong with Bobby. She also leaves him with the kittens. Kitty talks to Logan about what happened, and about Piotr.This is actually pretty interesting. There’s some fun to be had with Bobby’s exes showing up, and there’s also a lot of drama. It’s clear that something’s very wrong with him. It’s also pretty obvious that the heavy snows around the world are his fault; I’m curious to see where that goes. And on a side note, it’s refreshing seeing a character actually go see a psychiatrist. That doesn’t happen nearly often enough.
Wolverine #3, by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. Wolverine and Fury, Jr. are arguing. Fury is talking about the bullet in Wolverine’s shoulder, Wolverine is talking about the Watcher. They go into a back room in a pub where a woman cuts Logan open to get at the bullet. It’s actually a pub for people in the superhero line of work. There’s the NYPD detective from the first issue, a bookie who specializes in superhero battles, a comic writer, a guy who catalogues supers, and the boss of Damage Control. And Victoria Frankenstein gets the bullet out of Logan. The gun is tracked to a pharmaceutical company believed to have sold to the Hellfire Club and AIM. He takes down a couple Mandroids (I think they’re Mandriods – guys in big suits of armour) before the third stands down. He fights a bunch of guys, but most escape with whatever they were there for. I still feel like Cornell and Davis are a bad match for Wolverine. The book is good, but not as good as it could be.
Uncanny Avengers #8, by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna. The Apocalypse Twins talk about the Red Skull’s Onslaught, about Ahab and his Hounds, and about whether they’re doing the right thing, while Thor stops chunks of the Peak from destroying Rio. Sunfire destroys the last part. Thor and Sunfire head up to the Ship, and find it a slaughterhouse. Then the Ship disappears. The rest of the Unity team – minus Cap, of course – heads to the South Pole, and Akkaba. Cap finds himself in South Sudan. He fights free and finds a tunnel with a box inside, addressed to him. It’s a message. Presumably from Kang or Immortus. Eimin and Uriel talk to hor and Sunfire. Turns out that, in the future, Kang used Jarnbjorn to keep killing anyone who ascended to be Apocalypse, leaving the mutant race no protector, so they were almost wiped out. Now, Eimin and Uriel are setting things right. They also talk about Wolverine killing the child En Sabah Nur and Archangel. Meanwhile, in Akkaba, Uriel kills all the human servants there. This is fairly interesting, and Remender’s definitely got interesting plans with the Apocalypse Twins. I do still feel he’s writing the wrong book, at least for now. I feel this should be a more politically-oriented book, at least this early on. Still, what he’s doing, he’s doing well, though if UXF is anything to go with, we can expect a terrible arc to come up soon, then a cool finale, and then two years of absolute suck.
Deadpool #9, written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, art by Tony Moore. Deadpool’s unconscious, so Preston pokes around a bit in his mind, and finds a museum of various famous paintings and sculptures with Deadpool’s head on them. In the ice cream truck, Ben Franklin tells Deadpool that the Ancient One’s secret New York library is buried under Ryker’s Island. Deadpool gets Michael arrested by having him flash some cops. Once there, Michael teleports in Deadpool and Ben Franklin. They then teleport to the secret library. He needs time, so he goes and attacks Aquaman. It’s a blond guy named Artie who can breathe underwater and summon fish to help him. It’s clearly Aquaman. Then Deadpool decides the best way to beat Vetis is to kill Michael and send him to Mephisto to rat Vetis out. Blah. Sucks.
There’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.
First up, Fearless Defenders #4, by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. Val denies being a sister to the Doom Maidens, who decide to refresh her memory. With violence. Because when “Doom” is part of your name, you only have so many options. Misty slaps Hippolyta back to normal, and they all decide to flee, feeling the fight is getting unpleasant. Which is one word to use when giant spiders show up. Hippolyta grabs Annabelle and Dani and flies out of the caves. Oh, yeah, she can fly now. Val and Misty escape on Val’s horse. She figures they should be safe for a moment. Que giant . . . something. Dragon-millipede-things with multiple eyes. I don’t even know any more. Val uses her sword to teleport them all away. At one of Misty’s safehouses, they debate the next course of action. Misty suggests calling the Avengers. Hippolyta doesn’t want the help of men. Val says the Avengers wouldn’t be much help anyway, and that the only way to stop the Doom Maidens is for the Valkyrior to take their place. Hippolyta also wants to take Dani back to Hela, but Dani refuses, and changes to Valkyrie mode. Val goes off, and has memories of fighting Odin. Annabelle goes to talk to Val, and the art gets really messed up. Sliney just flat-out screwed up on that page. He rushed through it, and it came out looking awful. Anyway, this issue’s not bad. Some fun action, and interesting revelations about Val. I’m wondering who she chooses next to join her team. The cover for the next issue features the likes of She-Hulk, Storm, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Elektra – I doubt any of them will join. But it also has Hellcat, Tigra and Thundra, all of whom would be great choices. I’m actually hoping for Hellcat. Val and Hellcat had a really good chemistry in the old Defenders comics. I’d like to see that friendship renewed.
Secret Avengers #4, by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross. A whole lot of Iron Patriot armours go on the attack, thinking about how they were created to protect humanity. Banner’s brought on board (“The man from Albuquerque has landed.”) Daisy’s shocked that Hill managed to get Banner to agree to help, and they snark at each other a bit before Daisy starts her briefing. She tells the young scientists at the meeting that the Iron Patriot drones attacked terrorist cells that the US actually wanted to hit, but which weren’t actionable, either due to lack of proof or due to high risk of civilian casualties. Daisy wants to know how to shut down the drones. Banner tells her they’re not drones, they’re sentient. He says they need to talk to the drones. Iron Man says he’s unavailable, but Coulson says he actually wanted to see Rhodes. Meanwhile, Banner’s sent to intercept the drones on the way to Tehran. He makes short work of them, but then gets captured by SHIELD when he reverts to Banner. Then Reverie erases his memory of the event. Then the Secret Avengers launch a stealth assault on AIM Island. This is good. It’s really interesting and exciting stuff. Plot and counter-plot. The characterization’s good, though the Secret Avengers themselves don’t get much in this issue. I’m enjoying this.
Avengers Assemble #15AU, by Al Ewing and Butch Guice. Some guy in London is being threatened by a pair of Ultrons. It’s a bizarre scene, but kinda funny. He teaches them to say “Exterminate,” because when you’re an evil robot in Britain, you’re a Dalek, dammit! Captain Marvel saves him. She was on vacation, and now she’s caught up in the end of the world. She grabs the guy and runs to the British Museum, which is protected by magic, because Britain. Excalibur is keeping the museum safe, so that Faiza can heal people. Apparently, the guy Carol saved is Computer Graham, an ’80s hero who could go inside video games. I honestly have no idea if this guy was a real comic character or someone they just made up for this comic. I can’t find him on Google. We also meet one of Captain Britain’s students, Melanie, who has magic soccer powers and the ability to keep smiling, and keep everyone else smiling. Brian, Carol and Graham have a meeting, hoping they can use Graham to beat Ultron, and Brian says Dane’s not going, because the Ebony Blade is too close to controlling him. Melanie comes in to say she totes wants to go on a secret robot-duffin-up mission. Brian gives Faiza the title of Captain Britain, and is now apparently Captain Brian. Have I mentioned yet that Ewing is British? Because it really shows. This is a very British take on AU, and it’s great. The four of them launch an attack on St. Paul’s Cathedral, Ultron’s base in London, and it’s a cool fight. Really cool. This was a really good issue. I’d like to see Marvel hire Ewing for more stuff going forward. Maybe a new volume of Excalibur? Please? Yeah, that’s not happening any time soon. Sigh.
And, finally, Alpha: Big Time #4, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Alpha’s getting beat around by a guy calling himself the Miller, who built a hammer that transmutes matter. Thor shows up to end the fight with some lightning. Then he leaves. Andy heads to school, late, where the principal thinks he’s been smoking cigarettes because he smells like an ashtray. In class, he stares dreamily at Soupcan. He talks to her after class, and she turns him down. Hard. It’s pretty brutal. Then he hears something going down at the hospital. Specifically, the room where the mugger he almost killed was. (The doctor he talks to thinks he’s Nova, continuing the running gag of no one knowing who he is.) He dives into the energy thing that mugger’s become. It seems to absorb his energy. Then a couple guys go to his house and set it on fire with his mother inside. It’s OK. Still a middling book. Not terrible, but not . . . much better than that, I suppose. Thor’s cameo was kinda fun, albeit largely pointless.
Also, in Avengers Arena #9, Juston Seyfert dies. Not that anyone expected him to survive, of course.