Hey. I just wanted to mention that my reviews will be delayed this week. School and stuff. So, Friday or Saturday, probably.
This is a peculiarly light week, especially for X-titles. None of the X-titles I recommend came out this week. Virtually my entire pull list was actually books I don’t even review on this blog. But let’s get to some reviews anyway.
First, Wolverine and the X-Men #42, by Jason Aaron and . . . OK, there’s 8 artists listed, so to hell with that. This issue marks the end of Jason Aaron’s run on this series, and good riddance to bad rubbish. This series was awful. It was overly simplistic to the point of insulting its readers intelligence. It seems to be aimed at teens, but even for teens, this would be simplistic crap. It’s had two-dimensional characters and some of the worst villains I’ve ever seen. The Hellfire Brats never should have been created, and never should have been a real threat. They should be thrown into limbo, never to be seen again, except maybe to die horrible and permanent deaths. At least Aaron took the time to learn the names of a couple other characters. Hope has a three-second cameo, Pixie graduates to full X-Man, and Armour and Anole both get name-dropped. I guess Aaron felt like proving that he knew there were more than a half-dozen students at the school. You really showed us, Aaron. I sincerely hope you never actually write any of them, because if this series was any indication, you’d make them far less interesting than they actually are. This series was pure hack work. It ranks up with Chuck Austen’s work among the worst runs on any X-title. We’ll see if Jason Latour actually brings some depth to the characters in his runs, and if he can come up with villains who aren’t complete and utter shit, something Aaron never accomplished. (Hey, maybe the second arc of Amazing X-Men can use Paste-Pot Pete as the villain. It would still be an improvement over any of the villains Aaron’s used in his X-work.) In short, fuck this entire series. I guess I should mention the art in this issue, but meh.
Wolverine #2, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. We start a few weeks ago, with Otto-Man beating up some of Goblin’s men, and Wolverine shows up. A guy puts a gun to Wolverine’s head, and he freezes up. Then we cut to the present, right after Wolverine shot a guy in the head. Offer’s pretty concerned about the fact that Wolverine just shifted his principles. Offer also explains his plan with Sabretooth. Creed’s been making some big plays, taking over a lot of criminal organizations. Offers doesn’t want to be taken over. So he’s going to use Wolverine to get Creed interested, merge their two organizations, and then take over. Back in the past, Wolverine wants any information Otto-Man has on Sabretooth, and the two talk about changing methods. Meanwhile, Kitty, at the New Xavier School, gets a letter from Storm asking her to speak to Wolverine. So Storm knows where the school is? Huh. Interesting. In the present, bow-chicka-wow-wow with Pinch. Next issue has Jubilee! Yay! She doesn’t show up in this one, it’s just that the solicit for the next issue mentions her. Jubes and Wolvie! Yay! Now if only Jubilee and Laura would hang out again. Anyway, this issue’s good. Minimal action, as we learn a bit more about what brought Wolverine to where he is now. The conversation between him and Otto-Man is really interesting stuff. And Offer actually seems really interesting. I like that he cares. Stegman’s art isn’t quite my style, but he does a good job. He can generally set tones well, and show expressions well. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s good art, quite a bit less cartoonish than his Superior Spider-Man work. It doesn’t bother me. It just doesn’t really do much for me.
Origin II #3, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert. Clara is trying to convince Logan to talk, but his memories make him disinclined. Creed shocks him when he pops his claws. Sinister watches Logan at the circus, then asks to buy him from the owner. Creed has a nightmare, and then talks Logan. Turns out Creed used to be the one in a cage, and still has dreams about it. Sinister goes to Hugo with another offer, to examine Logan to prove he’s a wild man, to shut up the newspapers saying it’s a hoax. Turns out it was just a ploy. Sinister kills Hugo and starts to examine Logan. It’s kinda gruesome, but cool. Kubert’s a great artist. It’s very pretty. The story is interesting. Clara’s a bit of a cliche, particularly in Wolverine stories – the pure-hearted woman who takes pity on the noble savage. Creed gets some interesting complexity. I’m curious to see if this mini ends with Creed and Logan as friends or enemies. It could go either way, at this point, though I’m guessing enemy. I’m betting that Creed, already jealous of the attention Clara’s showing Logan, winds up killing her and blaming Logan. Just my guess. Either way, this book needs more Sinister. Gillen writes the best Sinister.
Uncanny Avengers #17, by Rick Remender and Steve McNiven. While the heroes of Earth try to prepare a defence against the Celestial, Thor and Eimin fight, and Grim Reaper tries to goad Wasp into killing him. Cap jumps in to help, but dies. So I guess that’s the end of Captain America. Surely, this won’t be retconned immediately. And the Earth is destroyed. And with that, all stakes in this story come to an end. We’ve just been told that nothing in this series will matter, because it’s all going to be erased anyway. So, whatever. Who cares? Matt Fraction, in his Defenders run, ended it all by retconning the whole thing out of existence. And it worked, because there was no real hint that that’s the way it was headed. Not until it was almost over. But Remender’s using the destruction of the Earth as a starting point for another story. A story that’s going to be that much harder to really care about, because nothing in it will have the least bit of importance. We know none of it will matter. That none of it will actually end up having happened. The main reason this bothers me is because, while we’re getting stories that aren’t actually happening, we’re missing out on stories of the Unity team actually doing things. The only question at this point is how much will be retconned, and whether Rogue, Wanda and Wonder Man will be brought back to life.
And that’s all the X-titles. But I do have a couple other Now! titles.
First, Guardians of the Galaxy #12, written by Brian Bendis, art by Sara Pichelli and Stuart Immonen. Yep, a double-dose of artistic beauty. This continues The Trial of Jean Grey crossover with All-New X-Men. We start with a flashback to young Scott watching his parents die in an exploding plane. Then he wakes up to see his father actually sitting beside him. (Side note: I’ve kinda missed the Starjammers. Glad to see Hepzibah back with them. Korvus has stuck around, too.) On Spartax, King J’son learns of Jean being abducted, and the Guardians getting involved, which forces him to get involved. On the Shi’ar throne world, the Imperial Guard are telling Gladiator that the X-Men are coming for Jean. Gladiator doesn’t believe it, and says they don’t have the technology to do so, but the Guard keep telling him that he abducted an X-Man, and they’re going to come for her. I love that the Guard are so genre savvy – of course the X-Men are going to follow. They always show up exactly where they’re not wanted, when they’re not wanted, no matter where or when it is. Then we cut to Scott and Corsair. Scott walks off, and Laura follows and hugs him. Aww. You know, if Scott’s going to be leaving ANXM to join his dad as a space pirate, that’s going to really derail the whole Scott/Laura thing that’s been building. That’ll be a shame. I’m actually really liking their budding relationship. Oracle pays a telepathic visit to Jean to update her on the tribunal about to be held, which then starts. The tribunal has Acanti there. Space whales. A trial with space whales. I love comics. This issue’s fantastic. Lots of really, really good stuff. The Guardians actually end up not doing much here. This is mostly about the reunion between Scott and Corsair, and the trial of Jean. And both of those are handled really, really well. There’s a lot of emotion and tension. And the book is gorgeous. Pichelli and Immonen are both top-notch artists, and they bring their A-game to this. They just knock it out of the park. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking book on the stands. They really out-do themselves. Gorgeous.
Revolutionary War: Super Soldiers, by Rob Williams and Brent Anderson. We start with a movie being made based on the Super Soldiers, and one of the all-time greatest mockeries of ’90s comics ever, as one of the actors asks how he’s supposed to lift his gun, which is massive. The Super Soldiers are also apparently terrible actors. Pete Wisdom helicopters in, makes fun of the Super Soldiers, and then warns them that Mys-Tech is back. Not because he wants their help; he’s just giving them a head’s-up. And then a volcano in Edinburgh goes active. Lots of Psycho-Warriors. Including three named Killmuzzle, Big Guns and Andrea Dwarkin (with WAR in slightly larger letters). Such gloriously ’90s names. They want Hauer, the leader of the Super Soldiers. This is another fun issue, even aside from how it lovingly pokes fun at the ’90s. There’s some good characterization, some praise for the British Army. The Super Soldiers as bad actors was funny. The way they dive right back into combat the first chance they get was rather moving. The art’s good – matches the art from the rest of this story, and is reminiscent of the ’90s, but somehow in a good way. This is good. Next issue is Motormouth – that should be really cool.
Fantastic Four #1, by James Robinson and Leonard Kirk. You know, Kirk drew X-Factor for quite a while, andI always found his style to be fairly middling. Now he’s drawing the Fantastic Four. When did he go from a low-selling X-Men satellite to the Fantastic Four? Anyway. We start with Sue writing a letter for Franklin and Val to read when they’re a bit older, to explain what happened to the team. Reed’s become a broken man no longer capable of scientific wonders. Ben’s in prison for murder, based on testimony from Reed. Johnny’s become a “lost soul,” which seems to mean drunken party animal. Then we cut back. The team is taking on Fin Fang Foom. They work well together, though Reed’s concerned about why Finny went on a mindless rampage. Later, Sue wants to rush to Latveria and bring Valeria home, but Val needs time. Reed and Sue are interrupted by the FF kids, as Bentley is inventing a gun that transforms gross food into chocolate. Works for me. Ben goes to Alicia, hoping they could get back together, and Johnny goes to see his manager. Apparently, he’s going on tour. As a rock star. OK then. This is a good start. Interesting. It didn’t really blow me away, but I’m not a big fan of the Fantastic Four, so blowing me away with an FF story is hard to do. Especially a first issue. We’ll see how Robinson does. Kirk remains an artist I just find kinda middling. He’s not bad, but he’s not someone whose work I look out for.
I also want to mention Mighty Avengers #7, by Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti. Because it’s a damned fine comic. Ewing makes use of a ridiculous amount of history, referencing the last appearance of Gideon Mace back in 1981, and also mentioning Josie’s Bar, which showed up constantly in Daredevil in the ’80s (and also popped up in Spider-Man). He does some fantastic characterization, particularly with Ava, but Monica gets a really cool moment, too, when she starts giving out orders. And Schiti’s art is fantastic. This series is an absolute must-read.
I also want to mention that Secret Avengers ended today. Mockingbird’s not dead. I am so relieved. You seriously have no idea how glad I am that she’s still alive. She’s apparently teaming up with Bucky and Daisy – that’s a story I want to see. Hopefully they become a running plot thread in the next volume.
Edit: I forgot Deadpool #24, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by Mike Hawthorne. I still dislike Hawthorne’s art. Oh well. It starts with Deadpool buying a whole lot of stuff for the mother of the woman he knocked up and is now dead. Deadpool heads to the LMD facility to get Preston out of his head. The SHIELD techno makes a comment about it being the same thing they do to Keith Richards whenever he dies. Apparently, since Tattoo You. Unless the SHIELD techno is really dedicated to her prank, which is what I prefer to believe. It amuses me more to believe she’s just decided to convince anyone she can that Keith Richards is an LMD. Anyway, the transfer starts to go wrong, forcing Michael the Necromancer and Ben Franklin to go into Deadpool’s head. Lots of Deadpools attack, and Strange explains it’s Deadpool trying to keep Preston from leaving. But he gets over it and lets her go. This was OK. I, uh, don’t have much to say about this issue.
A fairly light week, which is always nice.
First up, Uncanny X-Men #17, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. Magik dumps the students off and then leaves them. They try to figure out where they are, while also telling Eva they all know she has a thing for Cyclops. Because she totally does. By the way, Phoebe has dyed her hair red. Hijack uses his phone to figure out that they’re in Montana. Tabula Rasa, though the name is never actually given. And then they’re attacked by a giant monster. It’s . . . it kinda looks like a chicken. Goldballs takes it down, though. Because Goldballs is awesome. He hears a girl screaming. It was actually Triage. The healer guy. He saw a weird slug-like thing in a big web and it grossed him out, as it should, because ew. Ew ew ew. Ben, Hijack and Celeste find some people-type things, who mentally attack Celeste, and apparently kill her, but she turns out OK, thanks to Ben talking to the . . . let’s go with people, I guess. Until the people get ready to attack, but it’s Savage Land Eva to the rescue. She’s been somewhere, but doesn’t want to talk about it. And then SHIELD turns up. This is really good. There’s some nice development for the students, and plenty of clever writing. Tabula Rasa is fats becoming the new Savage Land, a place where writers can send characters to have weird crazy adventures with weird crazy creatures. Bachalo’s art remains Bachalo’s art, though his colour choices are often interesting. Still, I much prefer Bendis’ writing over Bachalo’s art. When Bendis focuses on characters, I think he’s one of the best in the industry. So I love issues like this.
X-Men #11, by Brian Wood and Kris Anka. Deathstrike and Enchantress go into a vault in New York and restore Selene to life. Yep, Selene. She’s back! Meanwhile, the X-Men team has finished checking out Ana Cortes’ yacht, and have confirmed that it’s a red herring. While they talk it over, Monet’s the one who comes up with the possibility that Arkea might be bringing back dead mutants. I’m not sure I agree with the logic she uses to figure that out. On the other hand . . . well, given the X-Men’s history, betting on dead people is probably usually a safe bet. Selene submits to Arkea, and even calls her Mistress. Sabra lets Storm’s team know that Maddie Pryor and Selene have both had their remains purchased. So that should be fun. Then we go to Catalina Island, where Clay Mann takes over art duties, where the New X-Men are beating up Sentinels. With Karima there. Despite Karima having just been on the yacht. Seriously, something’s really screwed up here. I don’t know what the hell happened. On the plus side, Cipher’s with her. No, not Doug Ramsey, that’s Cypher. Cipher was a character introduced in the Young X-Men series a few years back. And while that series was utter crap, Cipher was kinda neat. Anyway, this section’s pretty fun, even if I’m not sure that it actually makes sense with the other section of the book. The disjointedness definitely hurts the story. You need to make sure the reader knows what’s happening and why the characters are doing what they’re doing. But that doesn’t really happen here. It was poorly set-up. Otherwise, this remains a solid series, with great writing and characterization. It’s just a weird plotting screw-up.
Amazing X-Men #4, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness. Wolverine and Northstar are walking through a frozen wasteland. Firestar is fighting to defend Iceman in Hell. And Nightcrawler is fighting a crazed Beast on a pirate ship. Luckily, Beast snaps out of it after a memory of the two playing Obstacle Chess. Nightcrawler finds Firestar and Iceman on the outskirts of Hell, and then Northstar and Wolverine in the frozen wastes. This series remains OK. Nightcrawler’s entertaining. Firestar’s moment of awesome winds up being off-panel, as she mentions setting Hell on fire, but we don’t really get to see it. Her personality is really bland here. Rather lacking. I find it hard to have faith that Aaron will write her well, considering how awful Wolverine and the X-Men was. The art’s good. McGuinness doesn’t really have anything particularly unusual to draw, as it’s mostly just people talking, so it works. Because he really doesn’t seem to have much imagination when it comes to doing weird stuff, like demons. This arc ends next issue, and I’m looking forward to it being over, and getting an idea what the series will be like on a normal basis. He definitely needs more snark from Northstar, and for Firestar to be interesting.
A+X #17. The first story, by Jeff Loveless and Paco Diaz, is about Iron Man and Broo. Beast drops Broo off to job-shadow Tony. Tony’s trying to build a home-made Shi’ar Stargate. Broo gets it up and running. Stark runs off to go hit something, and comes across the Chessmen, old, minor villains from the classic Obadiah Stane stuff in the ’80s. Iron Man feels apologetic about fighting them. He usually fights cooler villains. Like shooting the Phoenix with a space-gun. Broo helps him defeat the Chessmen, and then Tony rewards him by showing him the ropes. This was meh. I don’t like Broo. He’s annoying. The whole “overeager nerd” thing is just such a bland characterization, and it’s the entire extent of his character. No one has ever tried to give him any depth beyond that. It makes him a bore to read. The second story, by Gerry Duggan and David Yardin, continues the Cyclops and Captain America team-up. Doom shows up at the Skrull farm, but the Avengers and X-Men are there to greet him. Though they’re all in the wrong costumes, so something is off. Regardless, Doom just slaughters them, including lifting Mjolnir. That tips him off that it’s all illusion, and he kicks the telepathic Skrull out of his head. His armour’s been taken down by a Micro-EMP – that one that Cap used on Tony during Civil War. meanwhile, X-Men is leading the X-Men and Skrulls in an attack on Doom’s lab. Next issue will finish this story off. It’s been a good one. A cool story, some fun writing, and some good art. As usual.
There’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.
New Warriors #1, by Chris Yost and Marcus To. As an aside, I got the Skottie Young baby variant cover. Woot! Speedball and Justice are fighting Salem’s Seven. Turns out Speedball started the fight because he thought they were bad guys. Of course, they were bad guys, back in the day. I have no idea when that stopped. Down in Mexico, Aracely gets Kaine to stop a mugging. I’ve missed Kaine and Aracely. In New York, Sun Girl stops a robbery of an armoured car, and as she sings “Go Outside” by Cults, she hears about a disturbance at Grand Central Terminal. Then we go back to New Salem, which has been turned into a safe haven for people born of magic. Salem’s Seven are protecting it, being heroes. And then the town is attacked. In Mexico, Kaine and Aracely see a bunch of dead Atlanteans wash up on the beach, with a live one asking for heroes. Sun Girl finds Morlocks under attack. And Nova is in New Mexico fighting Hybrid, until the things that showed up in New Salem and the Morlock tunnels show up. I think these things were in X-Men a few years ago. Evolutionaries. I think they wiped out the Neo. A mercy killing, really, considering how much the Neo sucked. Yost has a knack for taking terrible concepts and making them work, so we’ll see if he can make the Evolutionaries less lame. Having them work with the High Evolutionary should help. The writing is solid. The characters are a lot of fun. I like the twist on Salem’s Seven – it’s a really cool idea. I’d love to see more of them, actually. I’m also looking forward to the full New Warriors team getting together. Should be a lot of fun. This book is worth checking out.
Punisher #2, by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. We start five months ago, with Punisher in Mexico tracking a cartel, only to find someone beat him to it. Then LA in the present, as he watches a deal go down between some criminals and AIM. he rescues a coyote, but loses the weapon being bought. In LA, he talks to his Army contact to look after his coyote, and then goes to kill more criminals. And we find out what the new weapon is. It’s neat. This book remains solid. Some good action, and the supporting cast is building nicely. Good series.
Avengers World (I hate that name) #3, by Nick Spencer, Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli. Last issue ended with Smasher seemingly being taken over by AIM’s Scientist Supreme. So this issue obviously . . . drops that plot entirely. Because there’s about 18 characters to get through, so focusing on any of them for more than a single issue is just downright silly. Yeah, I’m not feeling any more confident about this book. Anyway, this issue’s set in Madripoor. Which is now on the back of a huge dragon. Shang-Chi fights Gorgon. That’s the issue. And it’s exciting fighting, and his narration is good. So the lack of plot development is not, to me, a problem, however much a lot of people online bitch and moan whenever a story doesn’t have enough plot development. No, my problem is a little different. Shang-Chi gets good characterization, but ultimately, it’s all for nothing, because it’s going to be a while before he shows up again. Because Hickman and Spencer are trying to balance so damned many characters, that they’ve made it impossible to really do continuing character development. The approach they’re taking is absolutely the wrong one. This is supposed to be the character-focused Avengers title, but with so many characters, all that means is that each character gets an issue and then gets tossed aside for the next three or four issues after that. And it’s ridiculous. (And as an aside: Hickman has said that one of the members of the team is LGBT. I’m still calling on Hickman and Spencer to show, on-panel, who it is. None of this “if it fits the story” bullshit – you’re the ones coming up with the damned stories, so make it fit. Show some frigging courage, and actually have the character say, “I’m gay.” This complaint is unrelated to this issue, but it’s something that continues to bother me.)
Marvel continues to have too many good books for my own good.
Let’s start with All-New X-Factor #3, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. We start with Alex and Pietro in a bar, as Pietro tells Alex about Serval. Pietro is there as Alex’s spy. At Serval, Mr. Snow mentions to his assistant that they installed a cybernetic nanobot in Lorna’s right eye without her knowing. So, OK, that’s pretty creepy. Meanwhile, Gambit is showing Lorna his cats. Oliver, Lucifer and Figaro. Oliver scratches Lorna, and she flips out and lifts it magnetically like she’s about to crush it. So, she’s kinda creepy, too. Gambit and Lorna are then taken to meet Serval’s main computer genius, Dr. Anton Hexler, who tells them his system has been hacked, which should be impossible. The guy traced the hack to the Stolen Island, the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild. The one Gambit is the head of. This is getting steadily better. The first couple issues felt a little off, a little rough. PAD’s getting into more into the swing of this book. There’s a little more of the character stuff, a little more of the feeling that these characters are misfits. The next issue will bring in Danger, and then Cypher and Warlock are going to join up fairly soon. The added characters should help a lot, since those three are very much the kind of characters that PAD excels at – the C-list-and-below, the characters no one particularly cares about, and who PAD has pretty much free rein to do with as he wills. The art remains OK. It’s not blowing me away, but it’s not really turning me off, for the most part. Lorna looks scary when she gets mad at the cat. Oh, also, kitties! Kitties kitties kitties! I like kitties. Gambit’s kitties need a playdate with Chewie and Liho. Oh, and Kate’s cat. I forgot Kate has a cat. I forget the cat’s name. Does Kate’s cat have a name yet? Should I stop talking about cats? I miss my kitty. Anyway, my point is this series is improving.
All-New X-Men #23, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen. Scott wakes up on the Guardians’ spaceship and gets a quick rundown of the situation, including the talking tree. Jean wakes up in a bubble, and is told by Gladiator she’s being put on trial for her crimes, though that’s all the explanation she gets. Back on the Guardians’ ship, there’s more talking as the two teams try to figure each other out. The ship is attacked by the Shi’ar. They wind up being saved by a very unexpected party. This issue does some more very good work with Jean, particularly a double-page spread of Oracle reading what memories Jean has of Phoenix. Immonen kills it. Immonen always does a fantastic job in general. He does a great job on expressions. He can really make a character look like they’re breaking inside. He brings a lot of strength to Bendis’ writing. For example, a panel of Scott explaining what the teen X-Men are doing in the present becomes a lot more powerful simply by his body language. Bendis’ writing, as well, is at its best when it’s most character-focused. When the writing is more plot-oriented, it weakens a lot. So this issue’s good, though a little too plot-oriented to be great. And yeah, I know, who complains about a story having too much plot, but different writers have different strengths and Bendis’ strength is in characters, not plot.
Marvel Knights: X-Men #4, by Brahm Revel. While the crazy cult rides through town shooting people, Rogue beats the crap out of Wolverine, until Wolverine summons a memory of Carol Danvers – in a bit of a hodge-podge costume – to fight Rogue. Rogue calls up memories of Sabretooth, Deathstrike and Silver Samurai. Kitty wakes up in a bar, and finds out Krystal’s power is suggestion. The fight between Rogue and Carol is intense, eventually ending with Rogue accidentally absorbing Carol’s memories again. Darla’s in a bar getting drunk when some of the cultists come after her, and she summons a bunch of memories from the bar to beat the crap out of them. Then to Krystal explaining to Kitty about her uncle, and then to Wolverine freaking out and going berserk at his own fight. This story just gets better and better, with some characters – Rogue and Krystal in particular – overcoming their problems, and others – Wolverine and Darla in particular – succumbing to them. All the various threads are coming together. And there’s a lot of incredibly powerful stuff going on. As I’ve said before, Revel’s art matches his writing very well. Very dark and stylized and expressive. Marvel should be offering him a lot more work. They should offer him an ongoing series. The plot, characterizations, dialogue and art all mesh beautifully. Just some damned fine work.
X-Force #1, by Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim. We start with Cable fighting a monster, while Marrow and Psylocke watch. Psylocke is telling Marrow to shoot the monster, but Marrow is enjoying the fight. Then we cut back to Cable explaining to Psylocke and Marrow about some stuff, including an op that’s nothing to do with mutants, but involves some sort of tech that Cable feels mutants should have. Then back to the fight. Cable tells Marrow to get their informant clear, Psylocke can’t take out the monster, so Fantomex blows its head off. Psylocke wants to kill him. Back to the pre-mission, where Cable explains to Psylocke that mutantkind needs a dirty tricks crew, same as every country’s got. Dr. Nemesis is still around as their science guy, and still awesome, even if he only gets a single panel. Back to the post-fight, and Marrow makes sure she’s clear on the fact that they’re flying around in Fantomex’s nervous system, and commenting that she missed mutant shit. Marrow’s delightfully insane throughout the issue. She narrates it, as a letter to someone she keeps calling “baby.” The narration is mostly comparing violence to music, and how she lives for the beat now. There’s also a running gag throughout the issue of Psylocke’s hatred of Fantomex. I’m hoping those two don’t hook back up. She was better with Cluster. Spurrier plays up Fantomex’s Frenchness, having him toss out French words regularly, for no apparent reason other than to be annoying. At least, I would assume that’s why he does it. Hope seems to have been injured in an explosion in Alexandria, which is sad. I actually like Hope, so it’s a shame she’s been taken off the board for now. Still, this series looks like it’ll do a good job balancing humour and violence, much the way the recent pair of X-Force titles did, but even more so. Kim’s art is excellent. It almost has kind of a CG feel, and I mean that in a good way. It’s big and bold, perfect for an action-packed book.
X-Men Legacy #24, by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat. David and Ruth have psychic sex, but it has to come to an end, because he can’t hold time back any more. He can’t stop fighting her. He reflects on whether his life might’ve been different with better parents, and how he could never live up to his father’s legacy. Finally, Ruth manages mto pass on a message from Xavier, that he’s proud of David. And that manages to allow David to absorb himself and save the day. With more metafictional narrative, including talking to the audience. I do have a problem with the resolution, as it retcons some fairly important stuff that happened before this book started, in a way that’s tough to reconcile. I don’t like when stories are erased from continuity, because it makes it difficult to tell exactly what happened. It’s fine when a series retcons itself out of existence, as Matt Fraction’s Defenders run did, because that doesn’t affect anything else. But this one retcons every Legion story, and that bothers me. Beyond that, I have to say, I’m not going to miss this series. David’s narration got increasingly tiring, and Huat’s art never appealed to me.
Wolverine and the X-Men #41, written by Jason Aaron, art by Pepe Larraz and Todd Nauck. The Hellfire Brats appear in this issue, so there will be profanity in this review. Toad gets fired from the school, on account of having led the JGS students to the Hellfire Academy in one of the worst X-Men stories I have read since Chuck Austen’s abominable run. Husk goes to talk to Toad, and says that she’s got a secondary mutation – when she husks now, it changes her mind. Beast is helping her deal with it. Personally, I’d just as soon have had Husk quit the school in disgust for the fact that they never seemed to particularly give a shit what was going on with her. She wants to get to know him now that she’s not crazy. I want Jason Aaron forbidden from ever writing Husk again. The Hellfire Brats escape the school and start causing problems in Salem. Kill them. Kill the fuckers! They are terrible characters who never should have been created in the first place! Gah. Toad tracks the two Brats down, and beats the crap out of one as he stands up Husk. The next issue will be the end of Jason Aaron’s terrible run on this series. And I’ll be glad to see the end of it. He is worst X-scribe since Chuck Austen. Austen had The Draco, and the terrible Azazel character. Aaron had the Hellfire Academy, and the Hellfire Brats, who are the among the worst concepts I have ever seen in a comic. The best thing Jason Latour could do, when he takes over, is to simply discard everything Aaron did. He certainly shouldn’t use the Hellfire Brats. In the name of all that is good and pure in this world, those stupid fucking fucks should never appear in a comic ever again, unless it’s to be killed. I cannot understand how anyone could ever think they were worth reading about. Fuck them. Ugh. I just want to grab Aaron and yell in his face to make him understand how much the Brats suck in terms of both concept and execution.
There’s the X-titles. A few non-X-titles.
She-Hulk #1, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido. It starts with She-Hulk at her law firm, getting her annual performance review. It . . . goes less than well. Her bosses don’t give her a bonus, despite the number of billable hours she put in, because she wasn’t hired for hours, she was hired for connections. Basically, her bosses are dicks. She quits, and breaks their fancy $50 000 table. Probably best not to piss off a Hulk. At a lawyer bar, a woman named Holly Harrow – Jonah Harrow’s widow – comes to her for help with a patent case against Tony Stark. Jen goes to see Tony, but gets the runaround from the computer as soon as she mentions it’s a legal matter. The discussion with Legal leads to the hilarious line, “Once Mr. Stark ceased being dead.” I love comic books. This book is just a lot of fun. Soule himself is a practicing attorney, so the legal aspects are very believable. But they’re also handled in an amusing way. Legal is a parody of a scummy corporate lawyer, making Jen’s frustration with him even funnier. Jen, of course, is always a fun character. Pulido’s art looks great. Very light and cartoonish. He does wonderful facial expressions. I’m looking forward to seeing him do some action scenes. This is definitely a really fun, great book, well worth picking up.
Revolutionary War: Death’s Head II, written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, art by Nick Roche. DH2 brings the unconscious Captain Britain to Darkmoor Research Centre. The Psycho-Wraith who hired him calls him a bounty hunter, but he prefers Freelance Peacekeeping Agent. The Wraith’s minions attack, but DH2 deals with them easily and demands his fee plus 10% for inconvenience caused. he’s eventually overpowered, but sends a failsafe signal, which reaches Tuck a few thousand years in the future. Yay Tuck! She hired the original Death’s Head to help her rescue Detah’s Head 2, who’s being examined by Dr. Necker. Woot, lots of continuity in this story. And lots of fun fun fighting and action! And twice the Death’s Head! Hurrah! And then they fight a horde of Death’s Head 3s! So much continuity! This was great. I love both versions of Death’s Head. They’re both so much fun. And I always liked Tuck, too, so it was good to see her again. And Dr. Necker’s as delightfully amoral as usual. This was just a really fun comic. Great art, too. There’s a certain ’90s feel to it, but in a good way. It’s UK ’90s, not Liefeld ’90s. The action is drawn well, and there’s a whole lot of it. And, of course, having read a lot of the Death’s Head and Death’s Head 2 material, all the continuity references excited me. This is the best issue of Revolutionary War. Which is to be expected, because any time a Death’s Head appears, it’s bound to be awesome.
Edit: I forgot Deadpool #23, written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, art by Mike Hawthorne. I missed #22 last month. It turns out that Gorman is working with ULTIMATUM, and they have a Helicarrier with stealth technology. Which Deadpool is attacking. There’s a long sequence that focuses on Ultimatum agents as Deadpool makes his way through the Helicarrier. Brutally. Preston is very uncomfortable with how violent he’s been since North Korea. This issue is very violent, and has some fairly clever humour with the Ultimatum guys, but it also actually puts a somewhat darker spin on Deadpool’s violence. The art undermines this a bit, as it remains cartoonish, though luckily, Jordie Bellaire’s brilliant colour choices help. She goes with some darker colours, particularly red, that somewhat offsets the cartoonish art. I think part of the point of this issue might’ve been to unsettle readers, though I don’t think it’ll work, as I suspect most of the people reading this are of the “hurr durr he makes jokes while killing people” mindset who miss the point of the character entirely. I think this issue isn’t really meant to be fun. It’s meant to show the dark side of Deadpool’s character. It’s less effective at that than, say, tossing Weasel and Blind Al into The Box during Joe Kelly’s run. But it’s somewhat effective at showing that Deadpool is kinda broken. My hope is they continue to explore that, keeping the slapstick toned down compared to the earlier arcs.
This is a big week. There are a few comics, but this is the week Ms. Marvel #1 came out! It’s very good. Definitely worth checking out. I’ll talk about it more below. First, the X-Men comics.
First up, X-Men #10, by Brian Wood and Kris Anka (with the last few pages by Clay Mann). As an aside, I managed to get the animal variant, with the ladies as cats. It’s adorable and awesome and I love it. It does make me miss my own kitty. Anyway. Gabriel Shepard comes by to wake Monet up, then cleans the site of the Arkea virus. (Also, Monet decides to stop dying and coming back.) Monet meets back up with Storm and Psylocke, and is shown a display that highlights Arkea activations. The Sisterhood is looking for something in the desert, while Pixie and Rocksldie (super-yay!) go in space to get rid of the case Pixie teleported out there a while back. Rockslide sounds weird. I’m curious what’s up with him. We see the X-Men trying to track Arkea, and we see who Arkea plans to recruit next. And holy crap. Oh, we also see some of the JGS students getting ready to fight Sentinels on a beach. The fact that Wood is making more use of the New X-Men than Jason Aaron when Aaron is writing the school-based book and Wood is writing a classic superhero book is just shameful. I can only hope that Jason Latour remembers that there are more than 5 students at the JGS, and actually makes some use of all the kids that Aaron forgot even existed. Regardless, this issue continues the major plotlines, and it’s very exciting. Not much in terms of the Bling subplot, but it looks like she and Mercury are both going to play notable roles in the fight against the Sentinels next issue (along with Jubilee – who, despite being a vampire, apparently still likes pizza, given the panel we see of her sitting at a computer with a slice of pizza hanging from her teeth; I really like Jubilee), so I suspect we’ll get something. The art shift at the end isn’t too jarring; Anka and Mann aren’t that dissimilar, so it’s not a problem. The art is good, and so is the characterization, and the plot is continuing nicely. That said, there are a couple of really weird storytelling moments. We see the Sisterhood in the desert, and then Arkea summons a helicopter to pick them up, and we don’t really get an answer to why she didn’t do that earlier, or why they were in the desert in the first place. The final few pages, with Jubilee and some of the students on a beach, also feels disjointed, coming out of nowhere. (There’s some awkward blocking there, as well, with word bubbles not being where they probably should be.) So this issue has some definite flaws. Still, despite that, it’s a great read, worth picking up. Especially if you can find the adorable cat cover. Kitten Shogo! Jubikitty has fangs! So cute.
Wolverine #1, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. We start with Wolverine and a team infiltrating some place. One of the people on the team is a guy whose got his chest bare (I Fight Evil With Evil is tattooed on it), there’s another guy, and a woman. Wolverine, naturally, makes out with the woman for a few seconds. Because obviously. They beat up some more people. This was all video taken by a guy named the Offer, who’s showing it to a prospective client. He wants to offer Wolverine’s services to the guy’s boss, Sabretooth. We cut back 5 weeks, to Storm and Wolverine in a bar, talking about what he went through with Sabretooth. Wolverine is acting tough, secure, confident. Storm wants him to talk about it, he doesn’t want to. She does convince him to use some new tools, though. He goes to Black Widow for help getting used to using guns again. This involves shooting her LMD. The poor LMD. This issue was OK. I still dislike Wolverine as a character, which hampers my enjoyment of this issue. I am curious to see where this story goes, though. The art’s OK. Not really my style, but good for what it is. I don’t have much to say about this, partly because I don’t give a shit about Wolverine, partly because there’s still a lot that needs a wait-and-see approach.
That’s the X-Men comics. Now, the non-X-Men stuff.
First up, as I said, Ms. Marvel #1, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. We start with Kamala smelling a BLT, and joking around with her friends, Nakia and Bruno. A blonde girl and her jock boyfriend come in, and are insensitive while pretending to be nice. Then we get a scene of Kamala with her family. Kamala asks if she can go to a party, but her father says no. She feels like an outsider, and wants to be normal, so she sneaks out (wearing her Ms. Marvel lightning bolt jacket) and goes to the party, where the girl and guy from earlier are a lot less interested in pretending to be nice, and Kamala leaves. Then the Terrigenesis fog comes in and knocks her out, where she has a bizarre dream involving Iron Man, Captain America and Captain Marvel.There are also birds with hats. Captain America has a fish on his shoulder. Iron Man is holding a winged sloth. There’s a porcupine with giant green hands. I don’t know if any of those things represent anything, but they are weird. Anyway, it ends with her emerging from her cocoon. This is really good. The characters are very fleshed-out and believable. Her family is so real it almost makes you wince. The older brother who’s not even looking for a job strikes close to home – my own older brother is unemployed and isn’t really looking. I think most people can find something about the character to relate to. She’s an Avengers fangirl (who even writes her own fanfics); we’re all superhero fans here. She struggles with feeling like an outcast, and wants to be normal, even if only for a little while. Again, something I suspect a lot of us can relate to, especially when we were teenagers. I should also comment on the art. It’s good, too. It’s very fun, kinda cartoony in a good way. There’s a lot of little sight gags (a newspaper mentions a tax on the colour orange; it also has the captain of a cricket team blame the fans for a crushing loss, and given the fact that it was just a couple days ago we got a Bronco pulling that card, I’m pretty sure someone working on this book is a wizard), and characters have very expressive faces and body language. The art works especially well in the dream sequence, giving it a really weird feel. This is a very, very promising series, and one that I would definitely urge you to buy.
Loki: Agent of Asgard #1, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett. We start with Loki stabbing Thor through the heart. Then we cut to earlier, and fanservice, because Ewing and Garbett know who really wants to read a book about sexy Loki. So, shower scene! Then he’s given a mission. As he starts his mission, he narrates about magic being about taking a lie and making the universe believe it’s real. I like that. It seems like the kind of thing Kieron Gillen would come up with, but Al Ewing beat him to it. Those crazy Brits. Anyway, as he runs up the side of a building, he turns invisible, leaving a cool Cheshire Cat smile. (Also, Hawkeye is apparently so terrible at video games that he somehow managed to wind up with the army after him and no health and falling out of a crashing plane – in a bass fishing simulator.) Loki winds up being found and semi-captured by the Avengers, at which point he proceeds to be the charming scamp we all love. He completes his mission, of course. And there’s a very, very shocking reveal at the end. This builds on Kieron Gillen’s take on the character, particularly the focus on the power of stories, and Loki’s efforts to escape the role set for him by existing stories. He wants to escape the old stories by creating new ones, in the hope that the new stories will stick, allowing him to be a different character than he used to be. It’s very metafictional, but also really, really cool. Garbett’s artwork is good. Fairly standard, but well-done. The fanservice goes down smooth, for the people who like that sort of thing. There’s some nice touches here and there. It’s all very serviceable art. Still, the real appeal of this comic is Loki himself. Ewing gives him the sharp wit and clever dialogue we expect of the character. So this is another book worth reading.
Black Widow #3, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. Natasha’s getting ready to leave, and one of her neighbours mentions that Liho scratches at the door when she’s gone. The neighbour has a black eye. Natasha thinks the woman should leave her husband, but the woman shrugs and says it’s her home. Then we go to her mission, in Argentina, breaking someone out of a prison. The mission goes well, as she shows how badass she is, but also explains that she’s so good because she knows how to be one with her environment, a skill that comes from belonging anywhere by belonging nowhere. The mission does hit a small complication that winds up costing her her commission. When she gets to a safehouse, she calls her manager, and he tells her SHIELD has a mission for her. We see more of her rather grey morality here, as she refuses to kill guards doing their jobs, but doesn’t hesitate to kill someone she knows is bad. This is a great series. It’s very dark, not much in the way of humour, but it fits the character. One letter also mentioned the fact that she isn’t having to use her “feminine wiles” and overt sexuality to accomplish her missions, which is definitely a nice change. Noto’s art remains an excellent companion to Edmondson’s writing, setting the tone effectively, and making for some nice action sequences.
All-New Invaders #2, by James Robinson and Steve Pugh. We start earlier, with Bucky in Vienna, being chased by Kree. Then he calls up Captain America, and the two go try to help the original Human Torch, which brings us to the end of the previous issue. They all fight Tanalth, but it’s a standstill. Then Jim and Bucky fill Cap in on the mission they remember. And . . . that’s about it. A nice fight, and then exposition about what we saw in the first issue. This is OK. The original WW2 Vision, Aarkus, showed up, and will apparently be showing up again. I find it funny, because he was just in X-Men Legacy recently, in a fairly noteworthy role. He seems to be making a comeback, I guess. Still, I’m hoping for other characters, and more diverse characters. I still think America Chavez would be a good fit. Triple-shot of diversity (lesbian Latin lady), a cool attitude, and she would bring some major power to the team. (The device the Kree are collecting can control gods; the Invaders will need someone who can hold their own against gods, and Chavez fits that bill pretty nicely.) Plus, she’s just too damned cool to wind up in limbo.
I also want to mention Mighty Avengers #6. Al Ewing is killing it on that book. A great blend of humour and drama. Valerio Schiti did the art duties, and it looks fantastic. It’s dynamic, and expressive, and creative, and everything that Greg Land isn’t. So Mighty Avengers is definitely, definitely worth picking up.
Edit: Punisher #1, by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. Some soldiers do an op in Ghana to rescue someone, and then get orders for their next mission. Then we cut to the Punisher in Mexico, being badass, killing people, getting information, and killing some more. His lead takes him to LA. He chats to a fry cook and a female cop, then goes to meet an armory officer for some supplies. And then he keeps hunting. Including blowing up a building with a rocket launcher, because Punisher’s a big fan of overkill. This is good. Punisher’s never been one of my favourite characters, but Edmondson and Gerards have fun with him. Edmondson gives him a dark wit. And the story is being set up to be really interesting. Dark, violent and cool. Gerards is a good fit for that – his art in this issue is dark, violent and cool. This is good. I hope Rachel Cole-Alves shows up, though. I miss her.
After the ridiculously expensive week last week, this one was more normal.
Uncanny X-Force #17, written by Sam Humphries, pencils by Harvey Tolibao and Dexter Soy. This finishes both the Vendetta crossover, and the series as a whole. We start with Hope inpaling Bishop. Bishop tries to convince her that killing him would be a mistake for her. Then the two X-Force teams teleport in in a van to attack Stryfe. This attack includes Puck firing high-tech guns while riding Colossus. The team actually comes up with a pretty clever plan to keep Stryfe distracted while rescuing Hope. And then Stryfe tries a different attack – he forces Hope to mimic his powers, knowing she won’t be able to control it. This is a good finale to the crossover, though I could’ve wished for a little more epilogue to wrap up the two X-Force series. We do get some closure – sort of – for the Cable/Hope/Bishop plotline, in that Cable and Hope decide not to kill Bishop yet. They both still hate his guts, though. Stryfe also survives and runs away, which is a bit of a shame. Stryfe kinda sucks. He was OK in this crossover, but in general, he’s just not a great character. He’s got too much ’90s stink on him, and no one seems to be able to clean it off him. As for the art – the difference between Soy and Tolibao isn’t too distracting, but it’s definitely a clear difference. Tolibao’s art is cool, for the most part, though facial expressions sometimes look really off. And then when we hit Soy’s work – damn. I love Dexter Soy. His Captain Marvel work was great, and he continues to be great here. It’s only a few pages in the middle, but it’s stunning stuff. David Curiel helps out with some excellent colour choices. So the art is mostly good, with a few pages of being great. The issue as a whole is very good.
X-Men Legacy #23, by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat. David’s losing control, turning into a monster. He’s a mental monster, absorbing the minds of everyone in the area. And all mutants around the world. David narrates about his story and blah blah. As I said about the last issue, I’m just kinda tired of his narration. Here, though, it does take on a meta-narrative that reminds me of a lot of Gillen’s work with Loki, about the power of stories, about the overpowering inevitability of them. He cusses out the audience for creating a destiny he can’t escape or overcome. Truthfully, it might’ve been more effective here if I hadn’t already seen it done so well by Gillen. It feels like Spurrier saw the ending of Gillen’s JiM run, and decided to imitate it. It also would’ve been nice if there’d been a little more focus, in this issue, on the relationship between David and Ruth. They do get some stuff near the end of the issue, but this is what the whole series has been building to since the pair met. I would’ve liked for the focus to be on them both, not just David. I also still dislike Huat’s art. It just doesn’t do anything for me. I find it unpleasant.
Night of the Living Deadpool #2, by Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas. Deadpool learns a bit about his new traveling companions. They reach the boundary to a safe zone, but it’s been overrun. Deadpool checks for survivors, but there’s too many zombies around. They run back to the truck, where the soldier in the back has finished zombifying and starts eating the old lady driving. They spend the next few weeks driving around, looking for a safe place. The city, a mall, an old farmhouse, an old cabin in the woods, an amusement park, a bar (the Winchester, natch) and a prison are all ruled out by Deadpool. They wind up out in the woods. The two kids with him go missing in the middle of the night, so he and the former SWAT officer go looking for them. I would’ve liked a little less quipping from Deadpool here, but the story remains fun and entertaining. The art’s good. It’s interesting how Deadpool is the only bit of colour in the book. It makes me suspect that this may wind up being All Just A Dream. Either way, it gives it a bit of a unique visual, though I might’ve put some splashes of colour in other places, too, just to make it a little more interesting. Might’ve made it eerier. Oh well.
Uncanny Avengers #16, by Rick Remender and Steve McNiven. We start in 3193, with Immortus talking to his Infinity Watch, which consists of Phoenix-Vision, Mar-Vell, Yondu, Martinex, Starhawk, Silver Surfer and what I think might be Adam Warlock. In the present, various geniuses – Stark, Pym, Vision, Banner and Doom – are trying to figure out what to do about the Celestial. Wasp lets them know what’s going on. Uriel and Eimin are gloating about what they’ve accomplished, when Thor shows up threatening to kill them both. He and Cap team up against the Twins. On Earth, a team of heroes sets out to stop Exitar the Celestial from destroying the Earth. The team includes Dr. Strange, Captain Britain, Talisman (yay!), Sabra (yay!), and a few others. I just love seeing Talisman and Sabra anywhere, even if it’s only as background cameos. They’re awesome. Anyway, lots of fighting in this issue. And it’s all very exciting. Though I’m still betting on most of this story being erased through time travel, so I kinda wish it would just get it over with. And then it can get on with something smaller but more personal. McNiven’s art is great, of course. That goes without saying. Highly detailed, and he manages to convey action and movement well. He generally doesn’t rely on overly large panels and splashe pages, which I find to be one of the biggest problems with a lot of the bigger artists. Bryan Hitch might be the worst for that: The widescreen approach to comics is popular, but I find it actually often holds comics back. The larger the panels you use, the fewer you have. The fewer panels you have, the less you can actually show. A splash page may look great, but it’s still only one panel, so if you use a lot of them, the fights winds up being much shorter and look a lot more static. McNiven doesn’t fall into that problem, so his action scenes have an energy and motion to them that makes for a much better read.
That’s all the X-titles. But there’s other stuff to cover.
Guardians of the Galaxy #11, by Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli. This is the second part of the Trial of Jean Grey crossover with All-New X-Men. It starts in a bar in Knowhere. Quill’s favourite bar. Gamora finds him there, but it turns out she’s actually a Skrull bounty hunter who drugged his drink. We then cut to a meeting of all the galactic kings and queens, where Gladiator and the Supreme Intelligence let everyone else know about Jean Grey being on Earth. Gladiator lets them all know he’s going to be kidnapping Jean and putting her on trial for the crimes of Dark Phoenix. Then we cut to the Guardians ship, where Tony is sending them a message letting them know he’s off the team. Then we see Gamora and Angela doing some shopping. Gamora’s interested in a Big Frigging Sword. Then they see the Skrull with Quill. Gamora tries to question her, but Angela doesn’t like wasting time. I’m actually starting to like Angela. Even if she really needs to change that idiotic ultra-’90s costume she’s got. She and Gamora make a fun pair. One complaint I do have about this series, though, is Bendis’ continued use of just nonsense alien words. It just feels like a bit much. He leans too heavily on them. On the plus side, Pichelli’s art is very pretty. Especially when there’s a little bit of action, she draws it very well. There’s a nice energy to it. Still, GotG remains a distinctly middling book, overall. This is the worst of Bendis’ current projects. It reminds me of his Avengers work. Lots of superficial stuff, a focus on quips over real characterization. And while some of the jokes are pretty good, jokes alone are not enough to be a worthwhile series.
Revolutionary War: Knights of Pendragon, by Rob Williams and Will Sliney. We start with cop Dai Thomas and journalist Kate McLellan – both former Knights of Pendragon – spelunking while Dai makes jokes about how Dylan Thomas died. Dai has a brief moment of possession by Sir Gawain, which is a thing that happened. Meanwhile, Union Jack and Pete Wisdom are on a motorcycle, driving through a mystic portal. They arrive in Avalon, which now has a high street. Some coffee shops, multinational supermarkets. It’s become quite the modern town. Which freaks Union Jack out. He runs up the tower to see Albion. Who’s watching Master Chef on a bunch on TVs. Dai and Kate find a door in the cave they’re exploring, which then blows up, just as Albion’s tower blows up in Avalvon. Behind the door is a concept so batshit insane that Kieron Gillen must have had something to do with it. I’m going to say this only so you’ll know you have to buy this book: Zombie King Arthur and his Zombie Knights of the Zombie Round Table. Yes. And then the battle is ended with something else that sounds like something Kieron Gillen would’ve come up with, but I won’t spoil that. The Knights of Pendragon were the Marvel UK book I had the least experience with. I didn’t even know Dai Thomas was possessed by Gawain. However, I’m glad I picked this up. I like Dai, I like Pete Wisdom, and it has Zombie King Arthur and his Zombie Knights of the Zombie Round Table. This book is worth picking up for that phrase alone. Seriously. The next part of Revolutionary War will be Death’s Head, in two weeks. That’s one you’ll definitely have to pick up. Because Death’s Head is awesome. DH and DH2. Both awesome.
Inhumanity #2, by Matt Fraction and Nick Bradshaw (with Todd Nauck). I just want to start by saying I don’t like Bradshaw’s style. It’s too cartoonish. It especially doesn’t work in a book that’s meant to be more serious. Anyway, the book starts with Medusa having a nightmare. Captain America comes in to talk to her about the clean-up of Attilan, but she has little to say. Tony and T’Challa do some math about the Terrigenesis. And around the world, other people are dealing with the new Inhumans in their own ways, through destruction or exploitation. This was an OK story. I have trouble really caring that much. The Inhumans were never one of my favourite groups. And I dislike Bradshaw’s art enough for it to be a distraction. And it kinda feels like Fraction phoned this in a bit.
A couple weeks ago, I posted my favourite X-Men comics of 2013. Now, I’ll do my favourite non-X-Men comics. My previous post already listed two of them – Pretty Deadly and Young Avengers, which were my two favourite comics of 2013. But now I’ll go into the others.
Well, to start, Journey Into Mystery, by Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti. The writing was stellar. It was funny and touching, and gave a lot of insight into who Sif is. This series was tragically short-lived, because Marvel’s readers suck, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Schiti’s art was a perfect match for Immonen’s writing, bringing a fun bit of cartoonishness, becoming a little more serious when appropriate. The whole series 9-issue run really deserves to be given special mention, but the first arc was better than the second, in my mind. Some of my favourite moments would be this one from #648, Monica’s cameo in #649 (she’s so awesome), poor Rro in the same issue, and the entirety of #651 (with art by Pepe Larraz).
Immonen, along with David Lafuente, also did the excellent Avengers Annual. It was basically split into two stories. One part dealt with Captain America volunteering at a soup kitchen and talking to a veteran. This part was really sweet and touching. The bulk of the issue, though, dealt with a young girl named Zamira sneaking away from a tour and hiding out in Avengers Tower, and getting into crazy shenanigans. This part of the story is hilarious. But there’s also a real sweetness to a lot of it. Zamira’s really sympathetic, dealing with a power she doesn’t understand, and which keeps getting into greater and greater trouble. The Avengers present – Cap, Tony, Hulk and Widow – have to deal with things getting progressively crazy, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s full of moments like this, and this, and this. It’s absolutely insane, and it’s fantastic. Kathryn Immonen needs to be given more work, now.
Also excellent, Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick. DeConnick writes the most wonderfully human characters in comics. She has a real knack for natural dialogue that gets to the heart of the characters. And she’s also very witty. Her Pretty Deadly, with Emma Rios, is one of the best damned things I’ve ever read. Her Captain Marvel has been excellent right from the start. Filipe Andrade was the main artist for the book this year, and while I can understand why people disliked him, I really liked his art. It’s kinetic and evocative. It’s highly stylized, but in a way that helps to show the characters’ emotions. The best issues were #9, which was just an incredible “day-in-the-life” story full of touching interactions with the people in her life, some nice excitement in the form of dinosaurs, and plenty of humour, but with a huge dramatic bombshell on the last page. I love her telling a cabbie that her cat is Spider-Man (Spider-Cat!), and then punching a dinosaur. And #17, which was a touching finale to the volume. The “I Am Captain Marvel” moment was cheesy, but still managed to be awesome, as a really sweet homage to the online Carol Corps who’ve supported the book. And the beautiful, heart-warming ending, with Kit giving Carol Captain Marvel lessons. Also, The Enemy Within had Spider-Woman trolling Carol, and it was amazing. (She also trolled the Grapplers and the ’90s. Spider-Woman was hilarious in that whole issue, really.) The new volume of Captain Marvel, starting in March, is definitely going to be worth checking out, especially if DeConnick manages to keep the supporting cast from this previous volume. Carol needs Wendy and Chewie in her life.
Also great was DeConnick’s Avengers Assemble. Again, her skill for writing human characters made it a great book. However, I need to give special credit to Al Ewing’s two Age of Ultron issues, and especially #15. It was funny, sad and scary all at the same time. He did a great job with gallows humour all through the issue. And then there was the ending. Captain %!#@$* Marvel indeed.
On the topic of Al Ewing, he’s been doing a killer job on Mighty Avengers. It’s a shame he’s been saddled with Greg Land, the biggest hack in the comic industry, because Ewing’s writing has been excellent. Tons of great humour, plenty of characterization, and some excellent action. Special mention goes to #4, which was just flat-out hilarious from start to finish. The explanation of where Blue Marvel was was great, as was DW Griffith’s theory for Spider-Man’s change in attitude. (This week’s #5 was also hilarious.) The presence of Greg Land on this book really is a travesty. The book deserves so, so much better. It’s definitely worth watching in 2014.
Avengers AI, by Sam Humphries, has been another excellent book. Another one with humour and drama, but it’s also got a really interesting premise: Exploring the relationship between humanity and AIs. Some want war, some want peace. It’s actually a lot like the basic premise of the X-Men, and Humphries is doing a very good job with it. The best issues are the first (Doombot!), #4 (Dimitrios trolls Vision, gloriously) and #6 (with an amazing battle between Vision and Dimitrios, wonderfully drawn by Valerio Schiti).
I need to mention Scarlet Spider #16. Armadillo showing up is always going to be awesome, but there’s really one reason I need to mention this issue, and it’s this panel. Yes. The rest of the issue’s amazing, as well (Armadillo can be a rodeo star, too!), but man, that one, single panel was one of the greatest things ever.
I enjoyed Fearless Defenders, by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. It wasn’t a great book, but I did like it. There was, however, one issue that was not just great, but downright amazing, and that was #7, with gorgeous art by the amazingly talented Stephanie Hans. Hans is mostly a cover artist; she doesn’t do a lot of interiors. When she does, they’re always worth picking up, because you’ll really be in for a treat. Her watercolour style is beautiful. It’s especially effective in Fearless Defenders #7. It’s gorgeous. Just look at this. Look. Look at this action page. Stephanie Hans is just frigging amazing. She’s second only to Emma Rios in terms of my favourite artists. It’s just gorgeous stuff.
And finally, Superior Foes of Spider-Man has been excellent. Hilarious, but with plenty of heart. Seeing this group of loser villains bumbling their way through their lives is so entertaining. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have been doing a great job. Best issues are #1 (not least because of Speed Demon stealing a puppy – who does that?), #2 (Speed Demon steals a scene again, when he returns for his doggy bag), and #6 (for more general insanity than I can even get int).
So, yeah. Lots of great comics. I’ll talk about some of my least favourite comics of the year soon.