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X-Men comics (October 22 2014)

Agents of SHIELD was good last night. Bobbi Morse! Woot! I had no idea Adrianne Palicki was so big. She is an imposing woman. It’s . . . it’s kind of a turn-on. Anyway, on to today’s comics.

X-Force #11, by Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim. X-Force is kicking some ass, while Hope reflects on how easily things break. Specifically, how broken X-Force is. And her heart is also broken – by Fantomex, who dumped her. She’s not dealing with it well, and she hacks his brain in the middle of the big fight. She finds out how close to utter insanity he is. (It’s also mentioned that the other two parts of him are missing. So Cluster and Weapon XIII are still out there.) She digs a little deeper, and finds that Cable already knew how crazy Fantomex is. During the fight, the bad guy unfortunately gets away. And Hope learns that Fantomex knows exactly who she is. And he’s even closer to the edge than it looked. Spurrier is doing fantastic work on this book. It’s crazy and dark and often really funny. There’s a lot of excellent characterization, and a really cool story. Kim’s art is also fantastic. It looks like digital painting or something, and it looks great. He does action really well, but he also does some great settings, some solid character work, but where he really excels is with creepy stuff. This is an awesome series, and I strongly recommend it, because it’s definitely worth reading.

All-New X-Factor #15, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. It starts with the president heading onto Air Force One in order to launch the nukes against Russia. The soldier carrying the Football stumbles and falls. On the plane, when the president opens it, it’s full of Conan comics. The president has the soldier arrested, then starts reading the comics. Gambit, of course, has the Football. Meanwhile, Polaris and Gambit are busy trying to keep DC in one piece. Lorna uses the reflecting pool to put out a fire in the Lincoln Memorial, and we also learn her middle name is Sally. Which makes her initials LSD. She figures that explains a lot. Gambit suddenly goes insane. Warlock rushes over to help, while Danger gets ready to beat up some soldiers. Cypher, Georgia and Luna stop a lynching. Luna almost gets shot by a couple cops, but Quicksilver saves her. Gambit is attacking Polaris, saying that after he kills her, he’s going to kill Quicksilver, then track down and kill Wanda. This is a pretty good issue. There’s a lot of action, so Di Giandomenico’s art isn’t as big a drawback as usual. He does action well enough. It’s expressions he’s no good at. PAD still manages to slip in plenty of clever dialogue, despite all the fighting and violence and stuff. So this is a solid issue. Good enough that I’ll pick up the next issue in the Axis tie-in.

Amazing X-Men #12, by Chris Yost and Kyle Craig, and Carlo Barberi. In the US, the Wendigos are loose. Northstar saves the little girl, but loses track of Aurora. In the Spirit Realm, Snowbird gets stepped on. Then Guardian gets eaten. Storm and Firestar are smacked to the ground, and Tanaraq is about to step on them, but Rockslide manages to save them for a few seconds. Outside the Realm, the X-Men are losing the fight. Nigthcrawler’s hurt, Sasquatch is losing control, and Wenderine stabs Colossus. Northstar and Aurora have both been bitten, and start to turn. In the Realm, Iceman frees Storm, Firestar and Rockslide. One of the Beasts tells Storm to free them, so they can stop Tanaraq, but Storm instead suggests he turn the X-Men into gods. Big time fight! Good finale, though I have to say, it does feel a bit rushed at some parts. One thing that I find a bit of a shame is that we don’t actually get confirmation that Talisman survived. I’m sure she did, it just would’ve been nice to get confirmation. We do know that everyone else survived. Guardian, Heather, Northstar and Aurora. Snowbird doesn’t get mentioned, either, but I’m sure she’s fine. With both Snowbird and Talisman, the vagueness means other writers can use them without explanation. Which is good. Overall, this arc was mostly OK. The first two issues were weak, the third and fourth were really cool, this one was in the middle. There was some humour in this issue, but it was toned down a bit, under the severity of the situation. Barberi’s art was good. A bit “house style” (not that Marvel really has a “house style” these days, but I’m sure you understand what I mean) but well-done.

Cyclops #6, by John Layman and Javier Garron. Corsair punches Scott and says he never should brought him onto his ship. Flashback to the start of the day. They’d finally reunited with the Starjammer. Good. I missed them. Anyway, they’re celebrating the reunion. Later, Scott tries to help Korvus with some routine maintenance, but has no idea what to do, so he damages the engine. Corsair grabs Scott to do some scavenging on an abandoned solar skimmer. Then it turns out they were waltzing right into an ambush, which they would’ve been able to avoid if Scott hadn’t screwed up again. They’re brought aboard the ambushing ship, and Corsair yells at Scott and attacks him, but not before giving him a quick wink. Good issue. We’ve got a new direction. Unfortunately, that direction once again involves getting rid of the Starjammers. Dammit. Layman’s writing is good, and Garron’s art is good.

Logan Legacy #2, by Tim Seeley and Ariela Kristantina. At the NXS, Laura is in the Danger Room. On the Ragnarok difficulty setting. She is not in a good mood. Warren wonders if he should talk to her. He pauses the Danger Room and tries to talk to her, saying he knows she’s hurt. She resumes it, and gets stabbed through the chest. Then she goes to pack. She doesn’t want to be comforted. She’s not sad. She’s angry. She feels betrayed by him. He said he’d always be there for her, but he turned out to be mortal, and he’s dead. She heads to Toronto, and a goth nightclub (The Perdition Room). A guy tries to offer her cash to go home with him. She declines, surprisingly politely. The club comes under attack, and Laura takes a bullet protecting the guy who tried to buy her. Then she pops her claws. She takes a lot of bullets, but stays up. Then a dance cage is dropped on her. Then another hero shows up. The Chinook, he calls himself. I actually had a long rant typed up for why it was stupid for a Toronto-based hero to name himself after an Alberta-based wind pattern, but it makes sense in a few more pages. Anyway, he kicks some ass, but then gets shot in the back. Laura almost kills the guy who did it, but Chinook stops her with a concussive air blast. Which he “hasn’t thought of a catchy name for” yet. He then asks her to leave with him. Seems the guys in the club, who call themselves the Happy Clams, are working for Pink Pearl. Old Alpha Flight villain! Woot! Not a major one, but still. Neat! Chinook describes her as “a fatter Canadian Kingpin” and “like Rob Ford in a muumuu.” I don’t think that one’s being fair. Rob Ford’s not a drug lord. He’s just a drunken crackhead who seems to have really poor impulse control. Also, turns out Chinook used to be the Alpha Flight member Windshear. He lost his powers on M-Day, and is now using fancy devices to fight crimes. Also, he has leukemia, and just came off chemo. He’s got a few months to live. He gives a speech about the bright colours meaning something, being more than he is. This is a really nice story. Seeley does a good job with Laura. He writes her well, and he writes Chinook really well. I’m always glad for some Canadian content, and for characters from Alpha Flight to show up. Even a Pink Pearl cameo! That was neat. Kristantina’s art is nice. It reminds me of Kris Anka’s style. It’s very pretty. Just a little bit of roughness to it that makes it just that little bit more pleasing. I’m hoping she gets more work at Marvel. She deserves it.

Axis #3, by Rick Remender and Leinel Yu. Deadpool is dragging Iron Man away from the fight, saying he’s not really “with” the bad guys. The bad guys, meanwhile, are making jokes as they get ready to fight the Skull. Doom and Loki engage in some fun little verbal sparring, and they, along with Magneto, destroy a Sentinel. Captain America shows up to challenge the Skull, but it’s just Mystique distracting him so the Enchantress can do her thing. That thing being making the Skull love her. But she gets distracted by a Sentinel being smashed, and he smacks her down. Meanwhile, Evan is helping Quire to protect the villains from the Skull’s telepathy. Unfortunately, Quire finally falls. This was another pretty good issue. The event hasn’t fallen apart yet. Things do get more tense at the end, and the “heroes split apart hating each other” portion of the story has begun. The thing that happens in every single team story Remender has written at Marvel. That also means the cynicism is seeping in more, which is disappointing. The Inversion happened in a fairly interesting way. Yu’s art is pretty good. The first third of the story is done, which means it’s all downhill from here. The rest of the event is going to be crap, if past events are any indication.

Deadpool #36, by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Mike Hawkthorne. Deadpool is dreaming about a nice dinner with Ellie, Ellie’s grandmother, and Preston and her family. He wakes up in the X-Men’s med-lab, after surgery, with Beast having taken some tissue to use to save Kim and the other Faux-Men. Evan is psychically projected to Deadpool, but Deadpool can’t hear him properly, so doesn’t know that Evan’s asking for help. He leaves the mansion, and sees rioting in the streets. He rescues a young mutant woman and takes her to Monster Town. He tells Shiklah he has to go check on Ellie, and she yells at him, and says that when he gets back, they’re going to have a serious talk. Michael the necromancer is protecting Ellie and Preston’s family from the hate wave, and Magneto comes to recruit him. This scene directly contradicts the one from Magneto’s solo comic a couple weeks ago. Eh, whatever. Then weird stuff happens. Another good issue, but not a great one. I still don’t like Hawthorne’s art, but it’s not as big a turn-off as usual. I may be getting used to it. Still, I really want a more conventional artist on this book. Ooh! Get Kristantina on it! That’d be awesome. This issue has some OK humour, an OK story, some OK drama. It’s OK, but not really anything outstanding. Meh.

That’s the X-titles. And I actually have no non-X-titles to review this week! Woot!

I do want to say “shame on you” for anyone not following All-New Ghost Rider. This series is awesome, and it just keeps getting better. Buy it! Buy it! It’s great!

Also, Kamala remains adorable in Amazing Spider-Man. She gets excited to do a slingshot move with Spider-Man. One that Captain Marvel did with him four times. I love Kamala.

I also want to say how fucking amazing The Wicked + The Divine is. If you haven’t been picking it up in floppies, then pick up the trade next month. It’s so damned good.

Dazzler: The Movie (1984, October)

Marvel’s January solicits are out. I’ll talk about them in my next pull list post. For today, though, we’ve got a big one. By Jim Shooter and Frank Springer, it’s “Dazzler: The Movie.”

Dazzler: The Movie

A very movie-poster cover. But kinda meh work from Sienkewicz.

We start at the health spa where Dazzler is leading an aerobics class. She gets carried away a bit, and starts to glow, until she overhears someone mentioning it. A husband and wife talk about her, with the wife saying every woman wants to look like her, and the husband saying every man wants to be with her. The wife says she understands. Anyway, all her students are exhausted, and Alison still looks great and energetic. Then she goes to lift weights, while one of the guys, Eric Beale, talks to her. He owns Beale Productions, and he wants to bang her. She says club employees can’t fraternize with members. While lifting weights, she talks to a guy named Freddie, then Eric Beale comes back in. He just bought the club. He says he’s gotten rid of the “no fraternizing” rule, is promoting her to assistant manager, and even offers to help her music career. She hands him her weight – 120lbs – and runs out with Freddie.

He drives her home, and she gives him a pep talk and a kiss. She goes in and turns on her radio and lets loose with some light, while wondering what sound feels like to normal people. It’s a neat line of thought she goes on, and explains why she loves music so much – it’s a pleasant physical sensation she gets from it. After a bath, she reads a newspaper and sees anti-mutant articles. She gets a call from Ororo, who’s laying on the couch at the mansion in a way that’s more appropriate for a teenage girl than for Storm. She mentions being worried for Alison. Then Alison gets ready for a small gig she’s got.

We go to Roman Nekoboh’s house. His latest floozie leaves, and Roman gets up and gets ready to meet the press. After Alison finishes her show, some reporters show up and ask her about Roman announcing that she’ll be his co-star in his new movie. She sneaks out, but because of all the reporters, she ends up having to walk home, where she finds Roman waiting for her. He starts forcing himself on her again, until they fall over, and she screams at him to leave.

The next day, as she’s walking, Roman drives up beside her and offers her a ride, and continually refuses to leave her alone. She blasts his tire and he spins out of control and slams into a wall. She’s briefly concerned, until she hears him talking about himself more. He chases her on foot, and fakes a heart attack to get her to stop. She finally concedes to a cup of coffee. He convinces her to be in his movie.

Now, I’m going to editorialize for a moment here. It’s on a topic I’ve discussed before in regards to Dazzler’s comic. The short version is: No fucking means no! Seriously, when a woman says she’s not interested, you respect her wishes. The whole “I won’t stop until you realize you love me” crap is reprehensible behaviour. When it comes to pursuing a woman, persistence is not a good trait. Respect what she says. But for some reason, in fiction, behaviour like Roman’s is treated as a positive thing. Roman is an arrogant, conceited asshole who doesn’t give two shits what women say, and doesn’t even care about something as basic as consent. He is not a character who should be portrayed in a positive manner, ever! And yet, characters like this do get portrayed in a positive manner, quite regularly. Dazzler already had a similar situation with Angel, who she started to have feelings for. And the same fucking thing happens here. She’s going to end up falling in love with Roman, even though she should’ve beat the shit out of him for his disgusting lack of respect for her. Part of the problem may have been the standards of the times. But I think another factor was the lack of women involved in this project. It was written by a man, drawn by a man, and had two men as editors. The only woman who worked on this book was the colourist. And I’m betting she probably wasn’t all that comfortable telling the Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics that she thought the story had some serious problems, and some really uncomfortable undertones that seemed to encourage not respecting a woman’s wishes. “Hey, guys! It doesn’t matter if a girl says no to you! If you’re a Nice Guy, then never give up! Just keep pursuing her, and eventually, she’ll see what a Nice Guy you really are, and she’ll fall in love with you!” It’s stupid, and it’s wrong, and it’s disgusting.

Anyway. Enough of that. For now. I may have to rant again later.

Roman takes Alison shopping. New clothes, new house, and more. Roman has trouble finding backers for his movie. Because Alison’s been seen in the past with the X-Men, backers are scared. A few days later, when looking at publicity photos, Alison kisses Roman. Argh! Rarflarghearghraaaaaaaah! Eric Beale decides to produce the movie. Roman throws a party to celebrate, and Alison sexes him up, because of course she does, he made jokes while trying to force himself on her so why the hell wouldn’t she fall in love with him aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggghhh! But he’s “redeemed” because he doesn’t mind that she’s a mutant, so hey, he’s not a bad guy, even though he tried to force himself on her and refused to obey her when she told him “no” a thousand times before.

The next few weeks, Alison gets caught up in all the glamour. She starts becoming more and more like Roman’s public persona – partying, drinking, making stupid jokes. She even starts smoking. She sees herself in a mirror, and is shocked. She looks at herself naked in a mirror, and Roman bursts in and makes her aware that a newspaper has an article about her being a mutant. He leaked it to the press, as a publicity stunt. He tells her that when the movie hits it big, it’ll make mutants more acceptable, and also lets her know about a press conference where she’s going to display her powers.

The next evening, at an airport, the press conference is held. A couple planes start up their jet engines, and Alison absorbs the noise. She absorbs every bit of sound being made, making the whole area dead silent. She glows bright enough to be visible from space. And for her nipples to be visible through her bathing suit. When the engines are finally cut off, she feels different inside, and the crowd freaks out and runs away. At a nightclub, Alison and Roman are attacked by some thugs, with Alison chasing them off. Turns out she can store energy now.

The next day, she starts getting herself back in shape. Soon after, filming starts, with her doing an action scene, where she destroys some rocks to save a car. A news report has a guy criticizing mutants. The next scene we’re shown has her taking on a volcanic eruption. The protests get more severe, and Alison’s house is ransacked. Soon after that, Ali and Roman go for a private early screening of the movie, and they think it’s great. They’re attacked there, too. They escape, and Alison sends Roman away. He calls while she’s arguing with the theatre’s owner, and he gets her to go to Beale Productions.

Beale tells her that he’s pulling the plug on the movie. He also tells Alison that he’s been controlling Roman all along, including getting Roman to find out for sure if Alison was a mutant. Then he says he has the last surviving copy of the movie, and offers to release it, if she signs a contract with him. He wants to own her, though it’s no longer for sex, now it’s just business. She signs the contract. But she signs it, “Go suck an egg!” Then she decks Beale and incinerates the movie. She walks out of the office feeling pretty good, and even has some fun scaring the secretary with a quick “Boo!”

She and Roman head back to his house, and she tells him she’s leaving him. She doesn’t want to weigh him down, and she doesn’t want to succeed by riding on his coattails.

This is a major comic for Dazzler. It’s longer than usual, for one thing. But this has major repercussions on her solo comic, and changes the direction quite a bit. Not for the better, unfortunately, but that’s something to be talked about later. It also changes a little bit the way her power works. She can now store energy for later, which makes her a lot more powerful.

So it’s a major issue. Is it a good one? Not really. It’s of the same quality, more or less, as a normal Dazzler story. And that’s not a high quality. Shooter’s writing was pretty weak. It was too over-the-top, and it got annoying pretty fast. The script tried way too hard to be clever, and it came across as desperate and annoying, and even obnoxious. There was also the whole stupid crap with Dazzler falling in love with an obnoxious asshole who refused to take “no” for an answer. Seriously, Shooter, what the shit? I can give you a pass on Bruce Banner almost being raped by gay men in a YMCA. I can give you a pass on Pym slapping Janet. Even Avengers #200, I don’t hold against you (I hold it against the writers of the issue, and the editor in charge of it). But Roman’s behaviour, and the fact that it actually worked? Dude, no! Just no! No no no! That shit should not be put forward as the least bit acceptable. Refusing to leave a woman alone when she tells you to is not acceptable behaviour, and it shouldn’t be treated as though it is. The fact that Dazzler fell in love with him after the way he acted hurts her character. Argh!

Springer’s art is also weak. I’ve never found him to have been a particularly strong artist. It’s not that he was bad. It’s that he was very much a “house style” artist. There was nothing that really set it apart. He was competent, but unexceptional. This book’s no different, really. It’s maybe a bit more polished than usual, but not that much, and it’s still distinctly bland linework. The colours are maybe a bit glossier than usual. But that’s about it.

This comic was hyped a bit as changing things for mutants. It actually says, on the title page, “What happens next will affect every living mutant . . . forever. So, did it? Nope! Not really. This story does get referenced a few times, but not much actually changes in the X-Men comics. The anti-mutant hysteria doesn’t really become a notable focus for a little while yet, and it was something that Claremont had long since been building, so it doesn’t seem like this comic made much of an impact. So this graphic novel was distinctly meh all around.

Song of the day: Love Love by Amy MacDonald.

Pull list for October 22 2014

I’m off again Wednesday. Yay! So reviews will be up that day.

I’ll be going to the store for: All-New Ghost Rider #8, by Felipe Smith and Damion Scott; All-New X-Factor #15, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico; My Little Pony: Friends Forever #10, by Christine Rice and Agnes Garbowski; New Warriors #11, by Chris Yost and Marcus To; She-Hulk #9, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido; The Wicked + The Divine #5, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie; X-Force #11, by Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim.

I’ll also review: Amazing X-Men #12, by Chris Yost, Kyle Craig and Carlo Barberi; Axis #3, by Rick Remender and Mike Deodato; Cyclops #6, by John Layman and Javi Garron; Deadpool #36, by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Mike Hawthorne; Logan Legacy #2, by Tim Seeley and Ariela Kristantina.

So that’s 7 comics I’m picking up physically, and 7 reviews total.

I’m most looking forward to She-Hulk and TW+TD. She-Hulk has been fun from the start, and I’m digging the current story of her representing Steve Rogers in court against Daredevil. I’m eager to see how that goes, and to get more of the story of why Steve’s being sued. As for TW+TD, well, it’s the end of the first arc, and it’s been amazing so far, so how could the finale be anything less than awesome?

I do want to mention how hopeful I am that Avengers #37, with Captain Marvel on the cover, has her in a major role in the issue itself. She actually hasn’t done much under Hickman. I’d like to see him give her something big. I’m kinda doubting it, though.

In other comic news: A few days ago, the new cast for the relaunched Uncanny Avengers was revealed. Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Quicksilver, Vision, Brother Voodoo, Captain Falcon, and Sabretooth. Obviously, I’ve been pretty critical of Remender all along his UA run (and even before it started). So it may be surprising that I say I approve of this team. Out of 7 characters, four belong to real-world minorities (Falcon and Voodoo are both black, Wanda and Quicksilver are both half-Jew/half-Gypsy). Sabretooth’s a bastard, but other than that, most of the characters are largely reasonable, and the team doesn’t seem designed to hate each other. I’m hoping this means Remender’s going to do a different type of team story. A story that isn’t about the team hating each other and splitting apart, causing problems they’re forced to resolve by slowly coming back together. Maybe he could do a story about a team that actually does work together. If he does, it will be literally his first Marvel team book that does have a team actually working together. I’d like it if it had a more optimistic tone, too, moving away from the often oppressively miserable feel his work usually has. Include some more humour, some more stuff of characters hanging out and having fun together. That sort of thing. I hope so.

I read Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, last week. I loved it. It’s a weird, funny, creepy, sweet, clever book. There’s a lot of humour from Katie, the protagonist, arguing with the narration. There’s other types of humour, too, of course. There’s a nice romantic plot, and a wonderful story of her becoming friends with another girl. There’s some interesting mystical stuff with “the spirit of the house.” And there’s some surprisingly dark stuff. O’Malley’s not generally known for being dark, but he gets a great horror vibe at times here. His art style is adorable, a bit of a chibi-anime-type style. It works for comedy, of course. He’s always made it work for drama. Here, he makes it work for horror, too. Awesome book. I loved it, and I very highly recommend it.

In personal news: I work Thursday6:30-11, Friday 5-9, Saturday 6:30-11. So no posts those three days. I actually have little going on in my life, unfortunately, so I have not much really to talk about. No Goodreads wins this week. I’m getting first aid training next month, so that’s cool.

I did apply for a job at Yukon College. In Whitehorse. For American readers, the Yukon Territory is beside Alaska. So it’s very far north, and gets pretty cold. I’m not a big fan of the cold, so it’s possible I’d be kinda miserable in Whitehorse. But for $50 000 a year, I’d be glad to be miserable. I don’t mind the boredom – I’m bored in Cornwall, too. It’s the cold that would get to me. But I’d be working in a library, and that matters to me. That would make me happy. It’s what I want to do. And Yukon College is as good a place as any to do it, really. And actually, I think it would probably be pretty cool moving up there. It’d be an adventure. I’ve never been one for adventures, so it’d be a really rewarding experience getting to go on one. And even the cold wouldn’t be that big a deal, frankly. I mean, it’s cold here, too. I’d have to be very, very careful, because it gets colder up there than it does here, but “be outside less” isn’t exactly a burden.

I was reading up on Whitehorse while typing this. And you know what? I think I actually would like to try living in Whitehorse. It’s the city with the least air pollution in the world. It’s apparently a little bit milder than other northern cities, because it’s in a valley. That far north, I’d be able to see the Northern Lights, and man, I figure it’d take some time for that to stop being amazing. So I feel like I actually might kinda like the city. Maybe I’d hate it. Won’t know until I’ve been there. And I might end up loving it. And, again $50 000 a year. I’d be making at least $29 an hour, and I’d be working 75 hours bi-weekly. That’s great pay, for a job that I am absolutely qualified for. No doubt in my mind that I could do it, and that I’d love doing it. And since it’s in Whitehorse, I can’t imagine too many people applying for it. I mean, how many people want to live in the Arctic? I’m hoping that does lead to less competition for the position. If I can get the job, it would be an amazing opportunity for me.

Other news: My friend wants me to put together a Christmas list. In October. Halloween’s not even over. She wants it early because she’s paranoid about things taking forever in the mail. Anyway, I’m putting together my list. Just books. I figure I’ll list a half-dozen books, and let her decide which to get me. The books I’m probably going to ask her for are: Drawn To Marvel (poetry about superheroes), Dungeons and Drag-Queens (a fantasy novel about drag queens, which is a book that exists and how awesome is that?), Ages of the X-Men, The Law of Superheroes, Steampunk World by Sarah Hans, and In Real Life by Cory Doctorow. Those are the half-dozen I’m thinking of suggesting. I may change my mind on some of them. There’s plenty of other books I could suggest. I’ll figure it out in a few days.

Other than that, I’ve nothing new to talk about. So I’ll leave off here.

Dazzler #34 (1984, October)

Fans of Marvel’s ’50s girl comics will be pretty excited by today’s comic,  by Michael Carlin and Geof Isherwood, titled “Where Have All the Models Gone?”

Where Have All the Models Gone?

Fierce!

We start at a fashion show, where one of the runway models vanishes in a burst of light. At Alison’s aerobics class, one of the girls, Janet, says she’s dropping out of Alison’s class, because she got hired by Millie’s Models, who will pay for her classes in the city. Janet suggests Alison try modelling. She decides to take some glamour photos of herself, and sends them to Millie’s Models. I find it amusing that she took selfies. A few days later, Millie sees the shots, and decides to call Ali in. Millie has kind of a crazy face. Her assistant then tells her that another model’s gone missing.

Roman Nekoboh hits on Ali some more, and she turns him down. There’s a girl! She finds out she was called in to Millie’s. A week later, she goes in. She’s excited to see Millie the Model. While there, she meets Chilie Storm. Millie and Chilie bicker a bit, and Alison gets hired.

A few days later, Alison’s talking to Janet, and they’ve both been hired for the same show. At the show, Ali sees Chilie, and while chatting to the fashion designer, she sees a card on the floor for Revenge Inc. She wonders if Chilie is looking for revenge against Millie. During the show, all the girls are captured. Including Chilie, who was arguing with Alison at the moment they were grabbed.

Alison and the captured models are in a cell together, and the man responsible – fashion designer Tom Devine – comes to taunt them. He leaves, and Alison sneakily melts the lock so they can escape. They kick Devine’s ass, and Ali resigns from modelling.

This was good. I liked it. I like these entertainment-focused issues. They’re fun. This one has modelling! But doesn’t do much with it, unfortunately. It would’ve been cool if these issues had something to say about the various fields they were presenting. Still, these little one-offs of Alison trying to make it in LA are enjoyable. Isherwood’s art is nothing special. It’s pretty meh. Sadly, this is Carlin’s last issue as writer. He was doing some good work, and I feel he could’ve kept the series pretty interesting. But he gets replaced with the next issue, and while the next two issues actually don’t drift too far from what Carlin was doing, after that, the series mostly becomes a straight superhero book, for its final few issues.

Other X-related appearances that month: Secret Wars #6, by Shooter and Zeck, has Klaw appear, and a bit of a flashback to his last fight with Dazzler, where she absorbed him. It turns out that, while she was on Galactus’ ship, trying to get his attention, she let out all of Klaw’s energy, and he got stuck in the ship. We do see the X-Men a bit. They bicker a bit with Magneto, and Xavier manages to read the minds of the villains to learn their plans. He sends Scott, Rogue and Wolverine to a volcano to watch the bad guys. Storm gets pissed at Xavier taking command. They argue a bit, and Storm threatens to leave, but Xavier threatens to control her mind. Colossus is falling for Zsaji. Then the three X-Men Xavier sent off fight against Dr. Octopus, Absorbing Man, Titania and the Molecule Man. The three get their asses kicked, until Wolverine manages to slash Molecule Man, and the bad guys race him back to the base to be healed. Then Scott blasts open the volcano for some reason. So they still don’t get a particularly good showing here.

Meanwhile, Marvel Team-Up Annual #7, by Louise Simonson and Paul Neary had Alpha Flight. The Collector has learned of a Plodex on Earth, and wants it for his collection. He captures Spider-Man, then grabs Marrina. He uses a magic lamp to get both. She does manage to use her amulet to call Alpha Flight, first. He uses a Kymellian flute to control a Xanthian boulder snake, whose gaze puts Marrina and the djinn to sleep. Then we see Alpha Flight approaching the ship. This story happened after AF#12, but presumably before #13. While Alpha Flight is flying, Northstar and Aurora bicker a bit. This includes Aurora saying that Walter is “all man.” I’m assuming this is another shot at Northstar’s homosexuality. I wonder if Byrne told Weezi about it, or if she just picked up on it in the book. It’s not like Byrne made it subtle. On the ship, Spider-Man’s free of the clam he was imprisoned in, and starts fighting. Alpha Flight lands on the ship, and Northstar thinks that if he can provoke Sasquatch into a rage, it might get her to leave him. Inside, Marrina wakes up, and the Collector tells her about the Plodex (even though she should know most of it from when the Master captured her). He’s captured other Plodex, too, from other worlds. Spider-Man asks about his own capture, and the Collector mentions him being a double prize. Flight busts in before he can explain. Hint: Spider-Man was wearing a new black costume that was actually a symbiote. The Collector attacks Flight with Boxers – boxes that sap sanity. Flight gets some to smash each other, but Puck is first to be caught. He frees himself immediately. Sasquatch is next to be trapped, and goes wild. Aurora is next to be caught. Northstar tries to free her, but still has to dodge debris thrown by Sasquatch. In the process, other glass cages are shattered. Aurora, trapped in darkness, reverts to Jeanne-Marie. Sasquatch throws some crystals, which Collector says power the ship, and which Puck catches to break the glass on the aquarium Marrina’s in. Eventually, she and the other captive Plodex are all free, and Marrina doesn’t want to kill them.

Not a bad story, but a little heavy-handed at times. Simonson wanted to give the readers an idea of what the members of Alpha Flight were like, but she had to do it all within one story, as opposed to Byrne being able to spread it across a series. So the characters end up being exaggerated a bit. This means that half of them act insane, and only Puck and Marrina seem reasonably normal. And Marrina still comes across as lacking a personality at all. Sadly, no one could ever give her a personality until the most recent volume, where she became a punk. The art here is OK. Nothing exceptional, but it’s solid work.

Tuesday’s review will be a very very special one.

Song of the day: Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again by Cat Power.

Alpha Flight #15 (1984, October)

So, the cast for the relaunched Uncanny Avengers has been revealed. I’ll talk about it in my next pull list post. For today, by John Byrne, “Blind Date.”

Blind Date

Oh, goody. A Marrina issue. Wonderful.

Doug Thompson is in his small home in the Northwest Territories, and Anne McKenzie comes to see him. He has a lot of questions, and she feels he deserves answers, which was the only reason she visited. She reveals herself as Snowbird, and gives a quick version of her story. He tells her he loves her.

Later, in Toronto. She goes into the lake to find the creature killing people, and is worried about it being one of her race. We get some captions about how big Lake Ontario is, including a list of 8 states that are less than a fifth its size. She senses a loneliness, and realizes she feels the same, and wants to know what it means. As she swims down a narrow tunnel, she gets wedged between some rocks, and then pulls herself free. She finally emerges into a cavern. She still feels herself being pulled forward.

Out in BC, Aurora is still recovering from Jeanne-Marie’s assault that morning. She looks in another mirror, and sees only herself. But she can still feel Jeanne-Marie trying to get out. Aurora decides to combat her by cutting her hair.

Back in Toronto, Puck is worried about Marrina. She comes out of the water, looking a bit crazed. She attacks him, and he fights defensively, despite his specialty being offence. He pulls off his jacket and does a matador act with her. Then Namor shows up. And, of course, he completely misunderstands the situation and decks Puck.

Out west, Elizabeth arrives on the Sarcee reservation outside Calgary. She walks into Shaman’s medical office. He’s glad to see her, but she tells him to back off, and it’s a business call.

Back to Toronto, some guy is watching Namor and Marrina fight. It’s the Master! He seems to think Namor’s race will have to die. He also knocks out Puck. Marrina slashes at Namor’s eyes. Then the Master knocks him out.

I want to mention one of the letters, talking about #10. Specifically, it mentioned the US importing Canada’s resources, including people. He says that LA is the seventh largest Canadian city, based on all the Canadians living there. I found that really funny. I sometimes joke that Canada’s plan is to conquer the US through the entertainment industry.

Anyway, this issue. It was good. Very good. We get a couple of subplots advanced, and the main plot is pretty good. Marrina, despite being the focus of the plot, doesn’t actually get much to do, which was always the biggest problem with the character. She was never allowed to develop a real personality, because she was always going crazy. When she wasn’t crazy, she was just “Namor’s girlfriend.” She’d go from “murderously crazy” to “loves Namor” and back again, and that was all. She wasn’t a compelling character. And she never had any real agency. She didn’t explore the tunnel and cavern because she chose to, but because she felt something drawing her there. This was the same reason she went to the Arctic in the first arc.

Puck, despite also getting little to do, winds up being much more interesting. We find out he knew Ernest Hemingway, and that Hemingway convinced Puck to train as a bullfighter. While I detest bullfighting, and find it a barbaric and disgusting sport, and I think it should be outlawed and that Spain should be ashamed of letting it stay as long as it has . . . despite all that, I do find Puck’s background in it adds a neat layer to him. He would’ve been doing it in a different time, before the idea of “animal cruelty” existed.

Byrne’s art – do I need to comment on it? It’s John Byrne. If you don’t like Byrne’s art, I don’t know how to help you. There would have to be something wrong with you. It’s always excellent. Great expressions, great action, great everything.

This issue’s very good.

Song of the day: Gosh, Darn, Damn by Rebekah Higgs.

X-Men comics (October 15 2014)

Time for another bunch of comics.

First, Uncanny X-Men #27, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. The X-Men are trying to figure out how to deal with the new mutant without getting killed. Storm and Scott both favour talking to him, everyone else thinks that would be a bad idea. Rachel has an idea. She sends an illusion of Xavier with a bunch of superheroes to try to talk Matthew down. It seems to be working, but then Matthew thinks maybe they shouldn’t be suppressing his power, that maybe he’s supposed to be able to do things. Then he smashes the Helicarrier. Cyclops finds himself back at the New Xavier School. Rachel and Storm are back at the JGS. No sign of Wolverine. Scott comes up with a plan for dealing with Matthew. One which solicits for future issues have already spoiled. Oh well. This was a really good issue. I still dislike Bachalo’s art, but Bendis does a great job. He gives Rachel a very nice showing. Matthew is really interesting here, going from freaked out to believing he should have his power.  I also like Scott empathizing with Matthew, having a pretty good idea of what he’s going through. It’s a cool issue. I liked it.

Wolverine and the X-Men #10, by Jason Latour and an assload of artists. I’m not even going to list them. Storm is looking at the watch Wolverine gave her, and crying. Beast goes to talk to Melita, but doesn’t remember her. He talks to her about her book, and she’s honouring Wolverine’s wish by not publishing it, but Beast wants to use it at the school. She starts interviewing the X-Men, to get their views on him. They go over some stories. They remember a time Wolverine tried to deep-fry a pterodactyl. And then him doing karaoke. Rachel does her impression of him when he thought she was cheating at cards.  Then Melita talks to Armour, trying to fix her armour. She says Wolverine really believed in the school. Then Eye-Boy, and we get a bunch of panels of Wolverine declaring himself The Best There Is. Then Fantomex talks about loss and theft. Then a conversation with Evan. Idie talks about a class photo. Then Broo talks about his race. Then Nightcrawler takes her to Harry’s Hideaway. There’s bits of fun in the issue, especially at the bar. However, my dislike of Wolverine hurts the issue in my eyes. I don’t want to see all this crap about what a complicated man he was and blah blah blah. I want to not have to read about the little dickbag at all. As far as the art goes, some I like, some I don’t. Some of it’s just way too cartoonish, some of it is Kris Anka. So there’s good and bad.

Storm #4, by Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez. Beast flies Storm into orbit, so she can let loose her grief, and cause one hell of a light show across the planet. It lasts 4 hours. Later, back at the school, she sits in the den and notices Wolverine’s phone getting a message from Yukio. Storm meets her in Las Vegas, and after a few moments of reminiscing, Storm lets Yukio know that Wolverine’s dead. Yukio decides to throw herself off the balcony, but Storm catches her with wind, and they hug it out. Storm insists on joining Yukio with whyatever’s going on, and they head down to meet a woman from Breakworld, a CEO, and Moses Magnum. It’s a business meeting for criminals. Storm gets pissed off when they head to an arena to watch a couple people fight, but Yukio says that they’re hired killers who are being kept from killing civilians. This is an interesting issue. I never liked Wolverine, so I never liked the Storm/Wolverine romance, so a fair bit of this winds up meaning little to me. But it’s nice to see her hang out with Yukio, and I like Yukio’s plan, getting gangs together to talk rather than go to war. It’s cool. Ibanez’s art is nice. The Stephanie Hans cover is as gorgeous as everything Stephanie Hans does. I’m so excited to get her on interiors for Angela. I will say that Storm isn’t as good as I want it to be. There’s a lot of room for improvement, still. Hopefully, after this grieving arc, we get some better stories.

Death of Wolverine #4, by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven. Wolverine drives up to a secret base in Nevada, and fights through some guards, using claws strapped to his wrists. In a lab are some people being experimented on. Dr. Cornelius is glad to have Wolverine finally show up. He’s creating new heroes. But in order to bond the adamantium to them, he needs Wolverine’s healing factor. Oops. Cornelius orders him killed, instead. Major Sharp attacks while Cornelius rambles on about Wolverine being an animal and a killer. And about how he’s going to create thousands of Wolverines, but better. Wolverine manages to beat Sharp, but Cornelius starts the adamantium bonding process on his latest subjects. Wolverine stops it, but gets covered in adamantium in the process. So Wolverine’s finally dead. Yay! I guess he got a pretty good send-off. But the important thing is that, for a little while, I won’t have to see that bastard anywhere. Good riddance to an unbearable jackass. Soule’s writing was great, and McNiven did an amazing job on the art. And now Wolverine’s dead and I’m happy.

The Logan Legacy #1, by Charles Soule and Oliver Nome. In Croatia, Laura’s been captured, and makes sure her captor knows she’ll probably kill him. Sabretooth and Daken have already been captured.  And are fighting. Daken wins. He also compliments Laura’s hair, which has some nice colours in it. Then Lady Deathstrike is brought in. There’s also a guy sitting in a corner of the cell, who reveals himself as Xavier. They all talk, and there’s little hints of what’s to come in future issues of Logan Legacy. Xavier passes out, and is revealed as Mystique. Then Elixir’s brought in. Elixir! He’s been missing for a while. Nice to see him show up again. Then the guy in charge starts talking to them. Meh. It’s OK, I guess. A lot of it is set-up for the next 5 individual issues. There is some good characterization going on. I’m not keen on the art. It’s a blocky style, like Nick Bradshaw’s work. I don’t find it enjoyable.

Magneto #11, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta. The Red Onslaught and his Sentinels are kicking some major ass on Genosha. Magneto decides to flee. He talks to Briar, and wonders how he’s going to be remembered when he dies. He angsts a bit, so Briar punches up videos of him. Most are reports of him being an evil terrorist bastard. But one shows a girl saying that without him she’d be dead, so she’s glad mutants have someone who can be angry. Magneto decides to start recruiting a team to fight the Skull. Meh. I’m just tired of this book. I’m tired of the melodramatic narration, and the heaviness of it all. I’m tired of the art. I enjoy this book less with each new issue.

Deadpool’s Art of War #1, by Peter David and Scott Koblish. Sun Tzu talks about how he trained a bunch of women as soldiers. Then Deadpool kills him and sees the Art of War and realizes he could make a lot of money selling it. The publisher he talks to says it’s already a best-seller and no one’s interested in another translation. He threatens her, so she has a bunch of guns shoot him. He comes up with an interesting angle for a new version – how to survive a world at war – and then shoots her chair. First, he needs to world to be at war. So he decides to get Loki involved. He grabs Loki circa Silver Surfer #4. There’s a bit of a “Who’s on first” routine related to “Aye/I” sounding alike. Because PAD loves bad jokes. Luckily, so do I, so I found the routine funny. This whole issue’s pretty good. This is Comedic Deadpool, while I usually prefer a little more tragedy to the character. But PAD’s a really funny writer, so the comedy here is pretty solid. Koblish’s art is rather pleasing. It’s a good style.

Axis #2, by Rick Remender and Adam Kubert. Iron Man feels pretty awful, and doesn’t know how to stop the Sentinels he created. Captain Falcon snaps him out of it and gets him thinking about how to do it. The handful of remaining heroes – Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Magneto – develop some plans. Wanda and Strange are going to invert Red Onslaught, to bring Xavier’s personality to the fore. Iron Man and Magneto will run interference with the Sentinels, while Rogue distracts Skull. Unfortunately, Nova screw things up. Then Magneto runs off, leaving Iron Man about to die. But Nightcrawler saves him. The handful of remaining heroes do one last assault. This is pretty good. Remender’s keeping some optimism in the story, which is incredibly odd for him. Usually, he’s all dark all the time, but this story, so far, has a definite optimist undertone to it, despite the fact that the heroes are getting their asses kicked. It makes for some of his best work. Much better than any of his UA run, which always had cynical undertones. And overtones. It was a cynical book, is what I’m saying. This one is not. Kubert’s art is stellar. Fantastic work. Really exciting action.

There’s the X-comics. Now one more comic.

Ms. Marvel #9, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Kamala’s school is under attack, and her power isn’t working right. So she gets Lockjaw to distract the civilians, then attacks the robot from behind with her Embiggened Fists of Rage. She beats the robot, of course. As a side note, the sign outside the school says “Asbestor Removal Scheduled For Monday, Volunteers Needed.” What an awful school. There’s also a news van out front, “Ye Local Newes.” One of the police cars has a “W1L-L0W” license plate – cute joke. There’s take-out of “Olmec donald’s.” After beating the robot, Kamala passes out, and Bruno rushes over to her side, and Lockjaw teleports in Medusa. Then they all go to New Attilan. Bruno talks to Kamala while she heals up. The doctor wakes her, and Medusa explains the whole Inhuman deal. Then Kamala goes home to deal with her family, and then she gets ready to deal with the Inventor. Buy this comic. It’s fun and funny and smart and so damned good. Buy it. If you’re not buying it, you’re wrong.

New Mutants #20 (1984, October)

Now that Thanksgiving’s over, it’s time for a week or so of leftover turkey. But for right, by Claremont and Sienkewicz, “Badlands.”

Badlands

OK, Magma looks really, really weird there. But Illyana looks awesome.

The Demon Bear has transported itself, the New Mutants, and the operating room Dani’s in, into an alternate version of America, one where Europeans haven’t yet arrived. As an aside, throughout the issue, there’s a little grid showing the spread of the Demon Bear’s corruption on the land.

The Demon Bear also has Officer Corsi and Nurse Friedlander as its captives, and it stabs them with its claws, which turns them into Native Americans. Or, rather, into weird, freakish monsters who kinda look like Native Americans. It’s time for a big fight. As the Bear moves around, its shadow touches more places, and the darkness grows, which increases the Bear’s power, and that of its slaves. The Bear slices into the OR, and one of the doctors sees outside, but the wall returns, and he thinks he’s just seeing things. He also questions if it might be more merciful to let Dani die, given the severity of her injuries and likelihood of permanent damage.

Magma tries to blast Corsi, but Sunspot tackles her and says they can’t kill Corsi or Friedlander, since they’re not responsible for their actions. Magma figures that innocent or not, it’s them or the Mutants, and sacrifices sometimes have to be made. I like that she’s got that attitude, coming from a wildly different culture. Then he gets grabbed by Corsi’s rope and thrown away, where he lands in a dark patch, with stars above him. Friedlander grabs him and starts draining his life, but Rahne comes to the rescue. Amara gets clawed by the Bear, and starts turning into another slave. Illyana summons her Soulsword, slices the Bear’s paw, then stabs Amara. Cannonball freaks out, thinking Illyana just killed Amara, and attacks her. Then Amara calls him an idiot, and says Illyana was saving her from being turned into another monster.

The Bear’s taint has filled almost the whole grid. Illyana remembers the Bear’s fear of Dani, and tells Rahne to link back up with Dani to find out more. The Bear resumes its attack on Illyana’s wards around the OR, leaving Illyana helpless as she struggles to maintain them. The other Mutants protect her from the Bear’s slaves. Rahne cries out that she has the answer, then gets knocked on the head from behind. And she’d been doing so well lately. She hadn’t gotten hit in the head for several issues. Anyway, Illyana stabs the demon in the heart, and it reverts to a normal Native American. Rahne says the key was Dani’s knowledge, and the Mutants’ power, especially Illyana’s sword.

Amara lights up the ground at the Bear’s feet, and it gets a hilarious facial expression at it. It’s cartoonish, and reminds me of a Wile E. Coyote look. Anyway, while it’s distracted, Cannonball gets Illyana to its head, and she splits its skull. It splits apart, and disperses, and a pair of Native Americans are seen.

Then the New Mutants  find themselves outside the OR, with everything back to normal. Dani points out that Corsi and Friedlander aren’t demon, but they’re still “Red Indians.” Really, Rahne? “Red Indians”? Is it just me, or does that sound kinda racist? Anyway, another pair of Native Americans say that’s how they’ll remain. These two were the Bear, before they were freed. It’s Dani’s parents! A doctor comes out and says that Dani will live, but is paralyzed.

Luckily, Xavier has Storm call up the Morlock Healer. Dani’s going to recover, though it’ll take some time. By the way, Sienkewicz draws a hot Punk Storm. Seriously hot. Anyway, Dani’s then reunited with her parents.

An epic conclusion to the Demon Bear Saga. The fight is cool and exciting. The issue probably could’ve spent a little more time on Dani’s reunion with her parents. Or, perhaps, a little less time. The moment is dragged down a bit by some exposition. It might’ve been more effective to have multiple silent panels. One of Claremont’s problems, I suppose: He’s never been very good at shutting up. He loves his captions, and his exposition, and all that. Someone should challenge him to do a “silent issue” of Nightcrawler, just to see if he can do it.

Sienkewicz is amazing. There’s a few weird bits that are a bit tough to follow, but for the most part, it’s simple enough to understand what’s going on, and the weirdness of the art style enhances the story. It gives the issue an otherworldly feel that makes it all that much creepier.

One interesting note about the story: At the end, we’re given a little bit of explanation about the Demon Bear. Dani’s parents were transformed into it, enslaved by some greater power that took joy in tormenting them. It’s never said, on-panel who their “master” was. The indications are that it was probably the Adversary, and that is apparently mentioned in a letters page later on. Also, I just now realized that Dani and Forge are both Cheyenne. I never made the connection before. Holy crap, I feel weirdly stupid. It would be cool to see them together at some point. They could be part of a new team, and bond over their shared heritage.

Anyway. Awesome issue, awesome storyline.

Song of the day: The Lion The Beast The Beat by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

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