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X-Men comics (April 9, 2014)

So I’ve finally had a chance to get around to this week’s reviews. It’s weird, basically having a job again (even if I’m not getting paid for it). I find myself with not enough time when I get home. Oh well. This was a heavy week for comics, so let’s start.

First, All-New X-Men #25, by Brian Bendis and a whole lot of artists. It’s seriously a lot of artists. David Marquez is the main artist, but there’s also some stuff from Bruce Timm, Arthur Adams, Skottie Young, Scott Campbell, Paul Smith and more. It’s a lot of artists. Anyway, it starts with Present Beast laying in bed, unable to sleep, and a bald person visits with him, chewing him out for messing with the fabric of reality by bringing the Past X-Men to the present. And then the bald person starts talking about some of the possible consequences, the terrible worlds that may come to pass because of his actions. Some of the pages that follow are pretty neat. Beast begs the bald person to show some of the good that might come about from it. And we get some neat pages for that, though the first one – a group shot of the X-Men – has Psylocke in her old outfit, wearing high heels, something that bothers me every damned time I see someone do that. Anyway, this section includes some really goofy bits, that are absolutely hilarious. This comic’s probably worth picking up just for all the art. There’s a lot of really cool pages, and a lot of really fun ones. There’s really not much of a story – it’s really just a framing sequence to let a bunch of great artists play around. But when you’ve got things like Illyana as Sorcerer Supreme, or Scott + Logan: BFFs Forever, or a gorgeous two-page spread of Kitty and Illyana having adventures together, who needs a story? So, even if you don’t normally enjoy this series, I’d say this is worth picking up, despite it costing $5 rather than the normal $4 (but it does have more pages than normal).

All-New X-Factor #6, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. Cypher’s still suffering nightmares of the Bad Future seen in the final arc of the previous New Mutants run. I want to mention that I think it’s cool just how much PAD pays attention to continuity. Anyway, Cypher decides to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff, but when he leaves the house, X-Factor is standing there. They explain about Warlock working with the Magus, which Cypher agrees is odd. Danger detects that Cypher has a bit of Warlock in him. Which sounds incredibly gay. Danger stabs him in the chest and pulls the piece out. Cypher manages to sense where the piece of sending the information: Houston, Texas. The team decides to go check it out. When they get there, all they initially see is a barn, but then a huge tower pops out of the ground and the Magus invites the team in to check out his company. Meanwhile, Mr. Snow’s wife, Angela, knows that he’s been sleeping with his secretary, and wants the secretary to be honest about it, and threatens to punish her if she isn’t. This issue’s OK. Not great, but good. It’s got some pretty good character stuff for Doug. But I’m really, really dissatisfied with Carmine’s art. He’s a great artist when it comes to action. But PAD’s a writer who specialized in character drama. He does a lot of people talking. And that’s where Carmine’s weak. He isn’t expressive enough. He doesn’t really show the characters emoting, so the dialogue loses some of its effectiveness. This book would be much better with a more expressive artist. PAD’s also still not quite up to the high standard I normally expect of him. At least the full team is now assembled.

Nightcrawler #1, by Chris Claremont and Todd Nauck. Claremont’s original 16-year X-Men run was one of the absolute best runs any writer has had on any comic. Since then, though, he’s had a lot more misses than hits. Still, he always wrote a good Kurt. This issue starts with Kurt and Wolverine sparring in the Danger Room – a very Claremontian opening. He winds up pushing Wolverine too far, until he has a temper tantrum and pops the claws. Storm breaks it up with some lightning and rain, and Cecelia bandages up his hands. Storm and Nightcrawler have a bit of a moment, as she talks to him about deciding who he really is. He wanders the school, reflecting on how much has changed. Mercury says hi to him, and says it’s great to have him back. Mercury’s a sweetheart. We need another volume of New X-Men so she can have a regular book to be in. Anyway, Rachel chats with him, first telepathically, and then in his loft. They talk a bit about Excalibur, and she invites him out to dinner, but he decides to pay a visit to Amanda Sefton instead. She comes home, and sees him on the couch. Long-time X-Men fans will no doubt know how he’s posed. Complete with a Bamf doll (though this time, he’s got a bunch of actual Bamfs with him, too – and this time, he’s clothed). The panel even includes a little “Nauck after Paul Smith” at the bottom. Anyway, before Kurt and Amanda can really enjoy their reunion, they’re attacked by some weird guy in a suit of armour, who seems to be after Amanda. Fight! This is pretty good. As I said earlier, Claremont always wrote a good Kurt. I also like Amanda, so I’m glad to see her show up again. The villain was a bit bland. Truthfully, I’m worried about what Claremont has planned for the Big Bad of this arc. I’m expecting something truly awful. Claremont’s got a pretty bad track record of late. The Neo? Elias Bogan? Vargas? Claremont’s come up with some truly awful villains over the past 15 years. I’m not expecting much better here. Nauck’s art is good. It’s got a bit of an old-school feel to it. And, of course, the Paul Smith homage was a great touch. This is a decent first issue, but we’ll see if Claremont can keep it enjoyable.

All-New Doop, by Peter Milligan and David Lafuente. Instead of a recap, I’m actually just going to translate Doop’s lines: “I want . . . armpits . . . blancmange . . . all over . . .” “Crap.” “Wild . . . Strawberries . . .” “Yep. This sums it up.” “Be my Liv Ullmann.” “The passion . . . of Doop.” “The cameras are rolling. That’s your cue.” “Christopher Mu. .” “Eight . . . nine . . . ten . . .” “I was an unwanted child . . . In a hellish marriage . . .” “Must fix plot . . . must fix plot . . .” “Doopachute. Don’t fail me now.” “Uh . . . uh . . . wait . . . uh . . . Action . . . uh . . .” “Your lines. Read. Please.” “Screenplay by Doop.” “Hour of the wolf.” “Was Mama Doop’s.” “No . . . scenes from marriage. Doop paid.” “Make up.” You want context? To hell with that. I will actually talk a bit about Milligan’s great writing, though. It takes a lot about Doop living in the margins, and about the work that a “marginista” does. It’s very cool stuff. Lafuente’s art is good, too. Mike Allred is the definitive Doop artist, but Lafuente does a very good job. He’s got an odd, off-beat style of his own, and that always works well with Doop. So, this is good.

Deadpool #27, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by Mike Hawthorne. While fighting Ultimatum in a museum, Deadpool invites Preston and what’s-his-face to his wedding. Shiklah drops by to say hello to Preston, and takes Deadpool, Preston and whozit to Monster Metropolis. And then more stuff happens, and then the wedding. And then a whole lot of bonus stories by all of Deadpool’s writers. Duggan and Posehn each do a story (with art by Scott Koblish), Fabian Nicieza does a story with Scott Hepburn. Mark Waid and John McCrea, Joe Kelly and Paco Medina, Christopher Priest and Niko Henrichon, Jimmy Palmiotti and John Timms, Frank Tieri and Dexter Soy (two of those, actually), Gail Simone and Alvin Lee (two of those), and last (and least), Daniel Way and Carlo Barberi. Quick notes: First story is a crazy bachelor party. Second story (a fake inventory story set in 1982) is Deadpool’s first marriage, a quickie marriage in Vegas. He and Ms. Marvel – Carol Danvers – got drunk and got married. Third story is Deadpool and Vanessa (Copycat – long dead, at this point, which is a shame). He thinks they got married, but it was just his hand, because she didn’t love him any more. It’s kind of an odd story. But not bad. The next one has Deadpool find the Seventh Infinity Gem – the Continuity Gem! Which has the power to retcon things at a whim. He goes back to the end of the classic Sins Past mini, from way back in the ancient days of the mid ’90s. He meets a stripper (covered head to toe) named Genosha, and Deadpool asks her to marry him, and then she gets shot down at the wedding. Again, not bad. Next, Deadpool gets married at Niagara Falls. It’s attacked by SHIELD and Wolverine. This story . . . I won’t spoil anything about it. It’s a fantastic story. I’ve missed Joe Kelly’s Deadpool so much. No one has ever written a better Deadpool. This is easily the best story in the issue. So damned good. Not because it’s funny; while there’s some humour, it’s not really the point of the story. This is good because it’s so touching and sweet and tragic. Anyway, next is Priest’s story, and, well, I kinda feel bad for Priest having to follow Kelly again. Here, Deadpool’s in the Arctic, dragging along a sled with his wife, Penny, wrapped up, mangling Moby Dick and talking to a wolf while looking for a secret base the Wizard has up there so he can save Penny. This one’s actually pretty sad, too. So as usual, while Priest doesn’t measure up to Kelly, he does a good job. Next up, Deadpool hooks up with four hot women, but keeps thinking of another one who betrayed him. After that, a marriage from his second Weapon X days, when his healing factor was boosted and he wore sleeveless shirts. I always like Dexter Soy’s art, and this one’s no exception. The story itself isn’t bad, either. Then there’s his marriage to Outlaw, where he finds out the danger of sex with a woman with superstrength. Next is Deadpool posing as a married couple with Domino as an op for Cable. Then . . . sigh . . . we reach the point at which Deadpool became damned near unbearable. He’s in the Savage Land with a female scientist and blah blah, it’s from that shitty Merc With A Mouth series that sucked so hard. And then Daniel Way finishes with some suck. Because he sucks. On the whole, the stories one would expect to be good are good, the stories one would expect to be lame are lame. Luckily, there’s probably more good than bad here. Especially the Joe Kelly story. Such a good story.

And that’s actually all the X-Men comics. But there’s some Now! stuff.

Captain Marvel #2, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez. We start two weeks ago, with Captain Marvel in her talking spaceship, being harassed by some mercenaries. Chewie’s with her. Apparently, no one was willing to look after her. Chewie! Yay Chewie! Anyway, Carol fights the mercs – both in her ship and outside it, and gets some help from the Guardians of the Galaxy. She asks why the mercs would fire on a medical transport, and mentions that her only cargo is a Nowlian girl in a coma, who she’s bringing to Torfa. That seems to be the problem, but before an explanation can be offered, Rocket sees Chewie and tries to shoot him. He thinks Chewie is a flerken. Some of his blasts hit some cables that cause the capsule to open and wake up the alien girl. Eventually, Carol and Quill calm Rocket down, and we get an explanation about Torfa. It’s a poison planet – people who go there get sick and die. The girl’s race were apparently brought there after the Builders destroyed their planet. Also, the girl, Tic, apparently doesn’t much like Peter Quill. Anyway, this is really good. It’s a fun comic. Some cool action early on, and plenty of witty dialogue later on. And we get Chewie! I am so happy about that, you seriously have no idea. Chewie the Space Cat! Who’s possibly an alien who lays eggs!  This is a great series, is what I’m saying. It actually has me looking a little more forward to Carol joining the GotG, just to see her and Gamora interact more.

All-New Ghost Rider #2, by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore. Ghost Rider chases the guys who shot him. They try to blow him up with a rocket launcher. The car flips through the air, but lands on its wheels and keeps chasing them. He takes out one of the trucks, then gets exploded. The mercs return to their base, and meet with Calvin Zabo, who’s now apparently gone slightly crazy and talks to his Hyde persona. He gives the leader of the mercs a drink, and then the two go into another room for Hyde to tear the man apart. Robbie wakes up the next morning, his nose fully healed from the beating he got the day before, and one eye a different colour. At a drug house, there’s a party going on, with a couple guys asking a drug dealer, Grumpy, for a Roofie to give to a girl there. It winds up turning the girl into a Hyde-like creature. The rest of the drugs were in Grumpy’s car’s trunk. The car that Robbie stole. This continues to be excellent. Smith’s doing a good job with the writing. Robbie’s confused about what’s going on, and he’s writing some neat low-lifes. His Zabo/Hyde is an interesting take. But I think the main thing that will keep people coming back to this series is Moore. His action sequences have a lot of energy to them. They’re manic, and they’re exciting, and they’re great. He does motion better than almost any other artist I’ve seen, aside from Emma Rios. His style’s very cartoonish, but there’s a definite charm to it.

Daredevil #1.50 . . . I won’t review. I will say it’s good.

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1, by Kaare Andrews. He’s being interviewed, and he talks about when he was a kid, and looking for K’un-L’un, and the realization he had, when seeing his father about to fall, that his father was insane. The journalist is an attractive woman who finds Danny incredibly sexy, and they wind up having sex, though it means nothing to Danny. And then the ninjas attack. This is good. Good, dark writing, matched by good, dark art. Solid issue.

Avengers Undercover #2, by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker. I’m not going to review this, because I still refuse to forgive Avengers Arena. The one thing I will say is that a lot of really minor villains show up. Like, not-even-D-list villains. It also seems like Hopeless may be moving Hazmat and Anachronism towards hooking up. I do not approve of this.

And finally, What If: Age of Ultron #2, by Joe Keatinge and Ramon Villalobos. Tony Stark dies during the period where Obadiah Stane had driven him to alcoholism. This led to an endless Armour War. We start 30 years later, in Malta, with an explosion. Wolverine and a new Ghost Rider (who’s hilariously polite) beat up some Stane guys who’ve found an original Stark armour. They go ask the Hulk to help out, but he’s studying pacifism now. Then they recruit Peter Parker – now married to Betty, with kids (and living in Rutledge, Vermont – the town where the Avengers used to show up for Halloween parades). Spider-Man then manages to convince the Hulk to join. It’s the New Fantastic Four, bitches! I actually had that story in TPB as a kid. Boo-yah. Anyway, they fly to the Savage Land, where there’s a Master Mold that Stane’s rigged up to create Stark armours. This is actually a pretty fun story. A nice little reunion of the New Fantastic Four, and a pretty cool story in its own right. A nice What If, even if it has nothing to do with Ultron. The art’s good, too. It’s a very strange look, but I like it.

X-Men comics (April 2, 2014)

I’m now done with classes! I have three weeks of placement at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (which will be either really cool, or kinda soul-crushing), and then school will be over and done with. So, from now on, my reviews probably won’t be up on Wednesdays any more.

This week was very light on X-Men titles. But it did have Pretty Deadly #5! Woot! I’ve been waiting for this one. It was delayed repeatedly – it was originally due out at the end of February. But as much as I hated the delays, all the frustration disappeared as soon as I opened the comic. I think I might do a fuller review of the series later this week, but man, so, so good. Kelly Sue DeConnick is a fantastic writer, and Emma Rios is an incredible artist, and they crafted one of the most gorgeous stories I’ve ever read. The wait for volume 2 is going to be rough. (I’m also eagerly anticipating KSD’s next Image series, Bitch Planet. It’s Women-In-Prison – IN SPACE!)

Anyway, the comics of the week.

First, Magneto #2, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta. We start with a woman who was in the police station Magneto attacked, talking about the attack, and comparing him to a tornado that enjoyed what it did. Magneto has traveled to the tent community the Omega Sentinel he killed originally came from, before he was taken. It reminds him of Warsaw in 1942. He talks to a guy named Samuel, who tells him about the people who come for the residents. Magneto fights them. He’s ruthless and brutal. I’m liking this book. It’s not bad. This is a very anti-hero take on Magneto – even borderline villain. And as always, he tries to justify it with his experiences in the Holocaust. And the brief glimpse we get of that was very good. The casual horror of it all.I’m not keen on Walta’s art, though it’s a matter of personal taste.

Deadpool vs. Carnage #1, by Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin. We start on the Kansas State Line, at a diner at Bunn’s Truck Stop, where a State Trooper is complaining about a newspaper article on Carnage’s latest killing spree. Naturally, Carnage is sitting right beside him. Deadpool hears about the massacre on the news. A federal agent says Carnage is striking at random. Deadpool, channel-surfing, comes to the realization that he’s the only one crazy enough to find Carnage. By seeing random things, he eventually realizes Carnage is in an abandoned housing development. And then the fight starts. This is OK. Not great, not bad. Some good violence, once it starts. I feel like Bunn should just let Espin draw as much violence as possible.

And . . . that’s the X-titles. I told you, it’s an oddly light week. It’s pretty heavy, though, with Now! titles.

She-Hulk #3, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido. We start with Kristoff Vernard repeating his request to She-Hulk for asylum within the US. He’s kind of a dick about it, which makes sense, given he’s a dictator/supervillain’s son. He also mentions that she’s the fifteenth firm he asked – turns out going against Doom isn’t something the average lawyer wants to do. Kristoff doesn’t want to be a reflection of Doom – he wants the chance to find out who he is on his own – and he can’t do that in Latveria, which is why he wants to defect to the US. They head to a federal court to file the asylum papers – She-Hulk gets a rush appointment because she saved a judge’s niece from Skrulls once – but Kristoff’s chauffeur turns out to be a Doombot. Kristoff’s casual attitude to it is hilarious. Eventually, at the courthouse, they’re surrounded by Doombots. Hellcat’s there, with a glorious one-liner. Yay for Hellcat! This issue’s hilarious. Soule brings a great humour to the series. There’s also plenty of action in this issue, which Pulido draws well. When the fighting starts, Pulido bulks She-Hulk up a lot, which is an interesting touch. And in general, Pulido complements the humour well. Still, the real draw is Soule’s writing. As I said, it’s packed with fantastic jokes. For example, when She-Hulk picks up Kristoff, and he exclaims, “You dare!” Then adds, “My apologies. A reflex.” This series is really, really fun, and just a joy to read.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #3, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett. This is an Old Loki issue. He travels into the past and meets a young Odin. Loki kills a large, friendly otter, for meat and its fur. Later, they reach an inn, and learn that they killed Otr, a Vanir. His family gets ready to kill them, until Loki convinces them instead to take a ransom of gold. Loki goes to take the gold of Andvari the Dwarf, who had taken the form of a giant pike. He kills the dwarf, though the dwarf curses the gold to force the truth out of him. But Loki had no intention of lying about how he got the gold – and I’m not going to spoil how he accomplished it, except to say that it is hilarious. By the way, one of the brothers of Otr – his name was Fafnir. Long-time Thor readers will recognize that name. The other brother was Regin, who crafted the sword Gram in order to kill Fafnir, and gave the sword to Sigurd to do the deed. This story is . . . so, so weird. But so cool. This is very much following along Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery run, and it’s fascinating stuff. The power of story continues to be a major theme, as does scheming. Old Loki’s schemes are complex and evil, and involve killing giant otters and fish. The art’s great. Garbett’s a great choice of artist. His style matches the tone of the writing very well.

New Warriors #3, by Christopher Yost and Marcus To. We start with a brief overview of the Celestials, as the High Evolutionary explains to Nova what he’s doing and why. The Evolutionaries return with prisoners – Water Snake, Kaine and Aracely. In New York, cops have pulled guns on the Inhuman kid, Mark. Justice gets everyone out with a telekinetic bubble, and he has a brief and rather interesting spat with Sun Girl. She thinks Mark should embrace being an Inhuman, Justice tries to tell her she can’t understand what it’s like, because she can take off her gear. It’s interesting having the black girl telling the white guy that the Asian kid should be proud of who and what he is. I side with her. Back at the High Evolutionary’s base, Sam, Kaine, Aracely and Faira have some really, really weird interactions. Which is par for the course where Aracely’s concerned. Kaine escapes his bubble by getting spiders to chew through the cables, and he frees the others. But not for long. This is good. The separate threads are coming together. Now, there’s only two threads – two different groups. The characters are all well-written with interesting and unique voices. There’s a good blend of drama and humour, characterization and action. The art’s solid, too. I’;m enjoying this series.

Black Widow #5, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. Black Widow contacts a French spy for some information about Molot Boga, “the Hammer of God.” She finds him about to blow up a passenger jet with a rocket launcher. She prevents it from being a direct hit, but the wing’s hit, so the plane crashes. She manages to kill Boga by shooting him so he gets sucked into the jet engine. Then she finds the plane had only one passenger. Who dies in custody. The French woman from earlier contacts Widow again and tells her to go near Montenegro. This issue is an exercise in frustration, which is the whole point of it. Widow’s frustration pours off the page from her narration. She’s angry at how little intel they have, how little they know about what’s going on. It leaves the reader wanting just as badly to know what’s going on. So, the issue works. The art’s pretty, too, as usual. This will be the last issue I review of this series, but I definitely recommend picking it up. It’s a good read. Very good series. It’s treating the character well.

Moon Knight #2, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. We follow the last moments of 8 business people. On each page, one of them dies. So it’s 8 pages of people getting shot in the head without warning. It’s actually a really cool sequence. And then we get our first glimpse of Moon Knight’s new costume. He’s added a lot of black to it. It’s OK. I think I prefer his classic costume – there’s something a bit off about this new one. He chases after the sniper who shot the people, and they fight. The sniper complains about how the people he killed screwed him over, and there’s still one left. The ending is . . . crazy. This is dark, and cynical, and very Warren Ellis. Shalvey does a good job on the art, drawing one hell of a fight. This issue’s a done-in-one, and the main point seemed to be to show Moon Knight in his new costume, but the story was still really good. Ellis is showing some clear anti-authoritarian views in these first two issues, showing people who were screwed by the system, and reacted poorly. This issue doesn’t show any of Moony’s personal problems, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty of those soon. It’s hard not to recommend anything written by Warren Ellis, really, so yeah, this is worth picking up.

Punisher #4, by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. Punisher’s being tortured by Electro. Meanwhile, the Howling Commandos are told to kill Punisher. Back at the warehouse, Punisher pushes himself out the window to the floor below, forcing the leader of the Del Sol to retreat. He does blow up the warehouse with Punisher still inside, though. There’s also a nice surprise on the last page that may force me to keep reviewing this series a little longer. I’ve never particularly cared about the Punisher, so I don’t feel like saying much about this. It’s a good series, and a pretty good take on the character. The art’s very good. If you like the Punisher, it’s worth reading. But if you like the Punisher, you’re probably reading this already. I’d planned to make this the last issue I review. I may need to review a few more, based on the character who appears on the final page.

Inhuman #1, by Charles Soule and Joe Madureira. So . . . this was delayed quite a bit. Really, this should have come out a couple months ago, to capitalize on the Inhumanity momentum. The delays have put the story at a disadvantage off the bat. We start in Bergen, Norway, with a guy named Kristian getting his ass kicked by a big dude named Bjorn. Then when Kristian leaves the bar, the terrigen mist transforms him. His cocoon is picked up by Lash. Lash brings the cocoon to a mountain and explains the whole Inhuman thing. In New York, Eldrac, the Inhuman door, is found, and Medusa asks him to teleport her to Black Bolt. In Des Plaines, Illinois, an old woman is cocooned, as is her son. The sister is not. In Norway, Kristian hatches, and is a freak, and Lash kills him. Then he teleports to Des Plaines. This is pretty good. Soule does a good job. There’s some good characterization, some nice tender moments with the Des Plaines family. The overall story isn’t really Soule’s idea, so we’ll see how he handles it. This is a promising start. And Soule does deserve some congratulations for being put on such a high-profile project so early in his Marvel career. Madureira’s art is good – the heaviness matches the tone of the story fairly well. I’m not a particular fan of Joe Mad, but he does a good job here.

What If: Age of Ultron #1, by Joe Keatinge and Raffaele Ienco. I was something of a lone voice in praise of Age of Ultron. While it had some problems, I found it to be a genuinely well-written, compelling story. I honestly, sincerely enjoyed it, and I think it’s the best Avengers event of the past decade. So now, we have a What If mini about it. We start years ago, with Janet telling Hank she supports his Ultron project. Then she passes out when time breaks. Then we cut to 25 years later, a giant hole in Russia. Hank Pym is writing a letter to Janet. He talks about finding old Cold War propaganda films about Captain America – the first human face he’d seen in over 9000 days. It’s been 9131 days since he lost Janet. When he lost her, Hank apparently kinda snapped, and developed Ultron into something more. It killed the Avengers. Then, in a month, it eradicated humanity, leaving Hank the only one alive. At the edge of the hole, he finds an Ultron-centipede thing. It’s pretty creepy. Bravo to Ienco with that. Pym breaks it, because he’s a badass. Then he’s attacked by a horde of Ultrons. And then a giant Ultron hand comes out of the hole. The Ultron Central Core. This story is very, very dark. What Ifs are seldom happy. But it’s cool. There’s some really nice, moving stuff, and it gets very creepy at the end. Keatinge doesn’t have the best handle on Pym’s character, but it’s good enough for a one-off story. Ienco draws a very nice ruined hellscape. I liked this. This is already better than the idiotic AvX What If, which was just a terrible, terrible story.

X-Men comics (March 26, 2014)

This is my final week of classes. I’ve got a couple finals next week, and then I go off for three weeks of field placement at the Canadian Human Rights Commission. But for today, I’ve got comics.

First up, All-New X-Factor #5, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. Gambit’s sleeping, with his kittens awake. he wakes up to find Danger in his room. She’s still missing some bits of her, and wants Gambit’s help to reestablish them. Harrison tells his girlfriend to be out of his bedroom before his wife gets home. Quicksilver’s reading a book while Lorna cooks – apparently, Cerberus comes from the Greek word “kerberos,” which means “spot.” Hades has a big guard dog named “Spot.” Pietro finds that funny. Gambit comes in, and Pietro trolls him. Man, Pietro is really trolling Gambit in this series. Danger keeps observing that people are lying, including saying that a computer programmer named Lemar Smaug, who Serval wants to buy out, isn’t human. Turns out it’s the Magus.  And then there’s a fight. This is good. The series has reached the level of quality that one expects from PAD. There’s a lot of great humour, but there’s also some really deep, subtle characterization, and plenty of interesting plots going on. The return of the Magus is cool. He showed up a little bit in the Kyle/Yost X-Force, but dormant. Now, he’s active again. And things seem to be pretty complicated. I’m still not satisfied with the art. It’s good art, but it’s almost too good. Di Giandomenico’s art has a lot of style. It’s very cool, very slick. I feel like that actually kinda clashes a bit with PAD’s writing style – I feel he’d be better served with a more conventional artist. Or, alternatively, Jamie McKelvie would work well – he’s also very cool, very hip, but in a way that I feel would complement PAD really well. Carmine, meanwhile, might work better on a book like Avengers – doing big, flashy stories, where the style takes precedence over the substance. But other than that, this is a very good book.

Marvel Knights: X-Men #5, by Brahm Revel. Kitty’s happy to see Xavier, even if he’s only a memory, and she explains the situation to him. It kinda says a lot about her that, while Wolverine and Rogue keep imagining enemies, she remembers her mentor. Walking, even – at his best. Meanwhile, Rogue and Wolverine are being chased by Darla, the rednecks and a bunch of memories. Rogue tries to talk Darla down, with no success.  Kitty convinces Krystal to convince the biker gang to help with the battle, with Krystal agreeing out of the guilt she feels about making Darla freak out in the first place. Kitty, Krystal and Xavier reach the fight, and Xavier reminds them to think on good memories. Rogue summons up a memory of ’80s Punk Storm – the best Storm – Wolverine brings up Nightcrawler, and Kitty brings up Colossus. Big fight time! Woot! And emotional climax! This issue was very good. The whole series has been fantastic. If you haven’t been reading it, I’d recommend picking up the TPB when it comes out. Because it’s a fantastic series. Wolverine gets his ass kicked for much of the series (before finally pulling it together here), Rogue gets to be a badass right through, and Kitty shows why she’s the heart of the team. The story is dark and tense and exciting, and the art matches it perfectly. I really, really hope Marvel gives Revel more work, as a writer or an artist. He’s an immense talent, and he deserves a chance to do a lot more.

Amazing X-Men #5, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness. In the JGS, Rachel, Angel and Warbird help blue Bamfs fight red Bamfs to defend the portal. In the Afterlife, the rest of the X-Men fight lots and lots of demons, led by Azazel. Teleporting sword fight! For a single double-page splash. Dammit, Aaron, it’s a teleporting sword duel, and you waste it for a second time! This should’ve been several pages, each with lots of panels! It’s a teleporting sword fight! It’s an inherently awesome concept, and if you’d let it go on, it would blow readers’ minds. Instead, it’s over in 5 bamfs. Five. Gah. Then Azazel orders his men to light the ship on fire. Wolverine tells Firestar to do the same to them. Then Azazel stabs Wolverine through the heart. Xavier tells Nightcrawler not to do what he’s thinking of doing, that Archangels are on their way to end it, and that he should return to Heaven. Nightcrawler declines, and tells the blue Bamfs that it’s time. I don’t know. I still don’t feel this book. Aaron’s next issue will be his last. Then Kathryn Immonen will do a fill-in issue (which I’ll definitely buy), and then Kyle and Yost will take over. I’ll probably enjoy it more then. I loved their New X-Men (and I still miss them – maybe Kyle and Yost will make use of those kids), and Yost’s Scarlet Spider was great. And he’s done a lot of other great work. At the very least, the book might get some villains who aren’t awful. Next issue will have Mystique, but that’s a one-issue thing. Aaron has failed to use a single compelling villain in his entire time on the X-Men. There was the Hellfire Brats, who need to be banned from ever appearing again. There was the Frankenstein Monster Circus, which even fans of WatXM thought was lame. And his first arc on Amazing used frigging Azazel. At least with Yost and Kyle, we might get some interesting villains. As far as this issue goes, it was basically all about Nightcrawler, obviously. Other characters got a couple lines here and there, but he was the only one to get any real characterization. Which makes sense – it’s not a problem at all. His characterization is handled well. The art is good, though I have to say, the change to Firestar’s costume – the flames going up higher – really doesn’t work. I’d recommend they put the flames back where they used to be, because right now, they’re just too high up her arms and legs. Anyway, I’m really, really looking forward to Immonen’s issue.

Origin II #4, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert. It’s a month after Clara and Creed freed Logan. They’re in New York. She’s been trying to civilize him, and she tests him by having him buy sausages. He freaks out and pops his claws when the shopowner tries to give him his change. Clara tries to find out why Logan’s in so much emotional pain. Creed gets jealous again of the attention she’s paying to Logan, and leaves. That night, he wakes up from a nightmare, and he finally opens up to Clara, and tells her about Rose. They bang. Essex’s men find them, and Logan tears into them. And Clara makes the bad decision of getting too close to him. We also learn about the exact relationship between Creed and Clara. Another good issue. Gillen’s writing is solid. He’s normally a witty writer, but here, he restrains himself. He keeps the tone very serious. He does a good job with it. And, of course, Kubert continues to do a fantastic job with the art. The book looks fantastic. Though I still don’t care about Wolverine.

Deadpool #26, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by Scott Koblish. This is another of the fake inventory issues. (As an aside, I still want Marvel to start using clever nicknames on credits pages on a regular basis again. Come on, Marvel! Do it!) It’s 1945. Hitler learns that Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos are on their way to Berlin. A time traveler shows up to kill Hitler, much to Hitler’s irritation – he’s had it with time travelers. He easily kicks the guy’s ass and steals his device. He decides to use the device to kill Fury. He goes to 1954, where Fury and Deadpool encounter each other in an LA bar. Deadpool lets Fury know he’s about to die, and that he was sent to keep Fury safe. After a car chase and shoot-out, Hitler attacks with a giant robot. He kills Fury and Deadpool, but Deadpool manages to send a postcard to Cable in the future. And Cable shows up with another giant robot. This issue was . . . meh. I don’t like these inventory issues. They don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the time periods they’re poking fun at. This one was better than the other ones, but it was still mostly really, really bland. Not particularly clever at all.

A+X #18. The first story, by Jim Kreuger and Will Sliney, teams up Kitty and Vision. They’re in Murderworld. Kitty sees Xavier, who stands up and warps. There’s also warped versions of Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Douglock ( the combined Warlock and Cypher from Excalibur back in the ’90s). They can apparently touch her. Vision beats them up, and warped versions of Wanda and Ultron show up. And more, of course. They take on each other’s mirrormen, though Kitty does choos to punch Emma herself. Because of course she would. They take out the mirrors the enemies are coming from, and then wander through a maze. They see a guy with a digital ghost with a bullet hole in his head, and follow him to digital ghosts of all Arcade’s victims. Poor Mettle! I miss you, Mettle! Juston Seyfert and Red Raven are there, along with a bunch of people who look normal. I don’t see Reptil, but if I’m not mistaken, I think Avengers Underground confirmed his death. Vision and Kitty figure out that the computer in Murderworld has gained sentience, and wants to die for what’s happened there. They talk it out of it. Not a bad story. The rationale for the computer using Vision and Kitty is a bit weak, but it’s a reasonably entertaining story. The second story, by Gerry Duggan and David Yardin (with a penciling assist from Matteo Lolli), finishes the Cyclops and Captain America team-up. Ant-Man and Scott blow up Doom’s files and a Doombot, and the Cuckoos make the human guards play patty-cake. Ant-Man also gives a reason for the lack of a telepath on the Avengers – none of them want to be mind-linked to Hawkeye. Makes sense to me. Anyway, they all leave, taking the Skrull-Doombot with them. It wears a cape. And nothing else. Scott returns to talk to Steve, and Steve tries to talk him into surrendering to authorities. Eva freezes time, but so does Dr. Strange. He’s there to keep the proceedings honest. Scott and Steve argue about Scott surrendering. Steve acknowledges that he no longer believes Scott killed Xavier, but he does believe Scott needs to be acquitted by a jury of his peers. Scott asks who a jury of his peers would be. Strange and Eva walk away, quite friendly with each other. This was a good finale to a good story. Scott and Steve arguing at the end was kinda funny, though it also had some very relevant stuff – specifically, Steve no longer viewing Scott as a murderer. As I recall, Wolverine’s also gotten past seeing Scott as a killer, and so has Kitty. So the other heroes are starting to forgive Scott. Though they all still seem to think he should turn himself in to stand trial, even though, you know, most heroes have refused to turn themselves in for crimes they’ve been accused of quite regularly. Especially when mind control is involved. How many heroes have we actually seen stand trial for crimes committed while under outside control? I’m honestly asking, because I can’t think of any. Oh well. Ant-Man and Emma got along surprisingly well, and Strange and Eva had a really nice moment. And that marks the end of this whole series. It’s been a fun one. I’m hoping Marvel tries another anthology series. They’re always enjoyable, though I don’t think they generally sell very well. I also think this did a much, much better job of combining the X-Men and Avengers than Uncanny Avengers has done.

Uncanny Avengers #18, by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna. Havok is leaving a message behind for his daughter, Katie, for her 16th birthday. Havok’s being chased down the street by Blob and what seems to by Pyro, even though Pyro’s been dead for years. He thinks about how Eimin rewrote history to convince everyone that Thor and the Avengers are responsible for the Earth being destroyed. Havok plans to set everything right, even though it means destroying Planet X. He’s rescued by Jan, now his wife. They plan on attacking the Tachyon Dam, with help from Beast. They’re being chased by X-Force – Magneto, Blob, Pyro, Toad. Havok blows up the Dam, but Wasp gets captured in the process. This is kinda meh. Here’s the weird thing: Much as I want this whole story over with, I feel like this issue probably should’ve focused more on Planet X. I feel like Remender should’ve had a “downtime” issue. I mean, the last issue ended with the destruction of the Earth – this should’ve been a slow, quiet issue, exploring Planet X, the relationship between Havok and Wasp, and the feelings of guilt they both have about what happened. We get hints of all those things, but they’re swallowed up, a bit, by the action and the plot. I also would’ve put a different artist on this. Acuna’s good, but I feel like the story would be better served by someone with a bit sharper a style. Acuna’s a bit muddy, and that’s very effective for some stories, but for this particular story, I would’ve preferred someone clearer. Oh well. Either way, I’ll be glad when this story’s over.

That’s the X-titles. Now the Now! stuff.

First, Guardians of the Galaxy #13, by Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli. This is the finale of The Trial of Jean Grey. Jean admits to being the Phoenix, says she’s angry that it took control of her, and also adds that killing her won’t stop what happened. She also says she would’ve forgiven Gladiator for the whole trial thing . . . but he killed her family. She powers up – she glows bright pink and kicks some serious ass. Oracle talks to her. Jean’s doing something she’s never done – taking everyone’s psychic energy and sending it back at them, her telepathy and telekinesis working together. She and Gladiator take each other out, and then Oracle ends the fight. Gladiator says it’s not her place to end it, and Scott decides it’s his own place. He threatens to kill Gladiator if he goes for Earth again. It’s . . . actually a pretty impressive threat. “I will bring a Hellstorm of Asgardians, mutants, Atlanteans and Hulk monsters right down on top of you!” Teen Scott can be a hardcore badass when he needs to be. Peter and Kitty seem to hit it off. What is it with Kitty and guys named Peter? No, seriously, is the name just a major turn-on for her? There was Piotr Rasputin – Colossus. There was Peter Wisdom. Now there’s Peter Quill. The only non-Peter boyfriend she’s had was Bobby, and that relationship kinda sucked. Oh well. Kitty and Quill have a nice chemistry. Maybe they’ll keep in touch. I actually kinda hope so. And, of course, Scott leaves the team to go with his dad and the Starjammers. This was something we already knew about, though. It was announced a few weeks ago. This was good. A nice finale to a cool story. The Guardians still don’t get to do much – this was basically an X-Men story. Actually, it was kinda two X-Men stories – one for Jean, one for Scott. It was a good one, though. Jean’s new power-up is an interesting twist. There seems to be a bit of a trend lately of making strong women even more powerful. Al Ewing gave Monica Rambeau a power-up in Mighty Avengers, and now Jean Grey’s gotten a power-up for All-New X-Men. And a non-Phoenix-related power-up, to boot! I like that Bendis is kinda moving Jean away from the two stories that always defined her: Scott and the Phoenix. He’s not ignoring either one – he’s handling them both head-on, and then taking her in a different direction for each. (He’s also moved her away from Wolverine, though I suppose we’ll presumably see a little more interaction between Jean and Laura, so we’ll see how that develops. Who knows, maybe they’ll hook up. Shut up, it could happen. If not in the comic, then in my dreams. And probably some fanfics and fan art. Which has probably already been created.) Oh, and the art. It’s great. Pichelli’s got a very nice style. Jean’s pink power form is pretty cool. Pichelli’s great. She’s someone who’s going to go places. It reminds me a little bit of Stuart Immonen, though her art’s more detailed than his. The action scenes look great.

All-New Ghost Rider #1, by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore. I’ll be honest, I’ve never much cared about the Ghost Rider. There’s one reason I picked this up, and it’s going to sound a bit bad: Felipe Smith is black. I’m a supporter of greater diversity at Marvel, not just with characters, but with creators. So I wanted to put my money where my mouth is now that I have a chance to support a non-white writer. So I picked this up. (I got the animal variant cover – yay!) Robbie Reyes is in an auto shop, working on a really nice car, when his boss tells him it’s quitting time and gives him his week’s pay. In cash. He tries to shortchange Robbie, but Robbie’s no idiot. We see a trio of assholes shove a kid out of a wheelchair and steal it. Robbie starts beating the shit out of them, until one pulls a gun. Robbie takes the kid, Gabe, back to their home, makes him mac’n’cheese, and tells him they’re going to get out of the crap neighbourhood they live in, which has a whole lot of violence. That night, Robbie steals the sweet-ass car he’d been working on in order to take part in a drag race. This is a very good debut. The characters are really deep right off the bat. The story moves at a quick pace – we get the main characters, the basic set-up, some excitement and a couple overarching plots, all in one issue. The dialogue feels natural, and there’s a subtlety to it that exposes the core of the characters with ease. It’s helped by Moore’s art. The guy does a phenomenal job. I don’t think I’ve seen him before, but he’s already someone worth watching. The action is exciting. The drag race is fast and kinetic and just great. But he does just as well at the quieter moments. The characterization is helped greatly by the expressions on their faces, which add a lot to the writing. Moore complements Smith beautifully. I still don’t care about the Ghost Rider. But I’ll keep picking this book up, at least for now. It deserves a shot. It at least deserves to do well enough to justify Smith  and Moore getting more Marvel work.

Revolutionary War: Omega, written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, art by Rich Elson. We get Killpower’s story in Hell, with Mephisto making a deal with him. He promises to send Killpower home, if Killpower first does some jobs for him. Those jobs involved going to all sorts of different Hells and killing things. And eventually we catch up to the present, and Killpower getting home, angry at having been forgotten, and wanting to burn it all. Demons are popping up all over the world. Britain, of course, is swarming with them, with the heroes fighting back. The UXM team is fighting a bunch, New York is full, and the Guardians of the Galaxy are fighting demons in Paris, for some reason. Death’s Head 2 and Tuck show up to kick Killpower’s ass – one of DH’s old favourite pastimes. Up in the tower, Dark Angel’s not quite as depowered as she thought – seems Mephisto left her a trace of power, in a betrayal of Killpower and his pets. She uses it to wake up Captain Britain and the others. And they fight to save the world. It does burn out Dark Angel’s powers, so I guess that confirms her current status over in Iron Man. This was good. It was a nice, fun return to the wonderful Marvel UK. I really, really hope more of these characters stick around and show up some more. I want to see DH2 and Tuck some more. I loved those two. The original DH, too, yes? I’d love it if Motormouth also made some more appearances, but at the same time, she seems to have a nice thing going with her kids. On the other hand, her kids are pretty messed up, too. So I don’t know. Anyway. Great event. Made me really happy.

Silver Surfer #1, by Dan Slott and Mike Allred. We start 12 years ago, with a couple little girls – sisters – seeing a shooting star. One – Eve – wants to go everywhere and see everything. The other – Dawn – wants the star to go on forever so everyone can get a wish. How the hell is it that everything Mike Allred draws ends up having such sweet moments like that? It’s the first page, and already we’re seeing it. Of course, it turns out the star was the Silver Surfer, visiting Earth for the first time, and deciding it’s perfect for Galactus to feed on. We skip to the present, where the Surfer’s helping a a tiny star to provide heat and energy to a tiny planet. Some kind of drone greets him as a champion for the Impericon, a place of great wonders. On Earth, Eve has been traveling the world, and sending pictures to Dawn. But Dawn’s perfectly content in Anchor Bay. She and her dad now run a bed and breakfast. Back in space, the Surfer reaches the Impericon, the Impossible Palace, which has managed to hide itself from the Heralds of Galactus. He gets a tour of the Impericon, while Dawn gives a tour of the B’n’B. And then we find out about Surfer’s mission. This is a Silver Surfer story by Dan Slott and Mike Allred. There was never any chance that this would be bad. Honestly, nothing by Mike Allred is ever bad. Everything he does is great. I don’t know what it is, but he just seems to bring a joy to his books, and brings out the best in his writers. Like every Allred title, this is fun but touching. Dawn is an amazing character. Right off the bat, she’s deeply compelling. I’m betting she winds up being the best new character of 2014, even without any powers. This book is absolutely worth getting. It’s wonderful.

Iron Patriot #1, by Ales Kot and Garry Brown. We start with Rhodey dying. Then we cut back two days ago, to New Orleans. He’s in his Iron Patriot armour, singing while he sends some drones into the water to assess the risk of New Orleans sinking. His father calls, wanting Rhodey to spend more time with his niece, Lila. Lila is some kind of engineering prodigy. A teenager, it looks like. Her mother’s dead, and there’s no reference to her father so he’s probably dead, and she’s being raised by her grandparents, Rhodey’s parents. The next day, Rhodey gives some speech about being there to protect all Americans. he also says he’ll no longer be involved in any international military matters, excepting rescue missions. This is . . . OK. It’s not a great start, especially for a mini. It needed a little more superheroics – Rhodey’s an experienced hero, so there’s nothing stopping the story from going straight into it. A new character needs an origin story, and if that means no real action for the first few issues, that’s fine. But when you’ve got an established hero, it’s best to show what they can do right off, intermixed with who they are and what the overall point of the story will be. This issue spent a little too much time with Rhodey and his father talking. The characterization’s good, it’s just weak plotting. The art’s great, though. It looks good, for the most part. A few weak spots, but mostly, it’s solid. It’s nothing particularly inventive or eye-catching, but it does the job. This mini looks like it’ll probably end up being pretty middling, overall. Not bad, not outstanding. Just an adequate story.

I also want to mention the conclusion of Avengers Assemble. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matteo Buffagni take it out in style. It includes plenty of action, plenty of banter, a knock-knock joke (no, seriously, Carol, Jessica and Hulk do a knock-knock joke and it is wonderful), and Anya gets a new ringtone. She even tosses in a nice little Goodnight Moon parody poem on the last page. It’s cute. I’m sad to see this series end. I’m hoping Anya lands somewhere soon – she’s a good character.

X-Men comics (March 19, 2014)

I’m very upset that Pretty Deadly’s been pushed back another two weeks. It’s so unfair. Well, here’s what I’ve got for this week.

Uncanny X-Men #19, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. Hijack wakes up in his Atlanta apartment, and finds Maria Hill and some SHIELD agents waiting for him. Mystique shows Sabretooth where Dazzler is strapped to a bed and sedated. Hill tries to get information from Hijack, and Mystique gets blood from Dazzler for Mutant Growth Hormone. Then we cut to Eva talking to Scott. She’s not sure she can tell him what happened in Tabula Rasa, but a powerful new mutant shows up on Cerebro, so the conversation’s cut short to deal with that. The team teleports to Chicago, and fight Sentinels. So, it turns out that Magik’s visits with Strange in the past? She’s been learning some new magic. Way to go, Illyana. This was good. Some good character stuff, we learned a bit about what’s happening with Dazzler (poor Ali!), the Sentinel fight was exciting. There was also some really good jokes. Goldballs really needs to work on his wording. “My balls are broken!” I laughed. Was it childish? Yes. But it was also hilarious. I’m still not a fan of Bachalo, but Bendis does a great job, advancing multiple story threads while also providing some character development and some clever dialogue. I love what he’s doing with Magik. I’d love it if she got a solo title, where she got to use her snazzy new spells to kick some ass. But of course, that’s just crazy talk. The X-office doesn’t give solo ongoings to female characters any more. They only give solo titles to straight white men.

X-Men #12, by Brian Wood and Kris Anka. Ana Cortes is dead. Her body has apparently been refurbished to house Madelyne Pryor. The X-Men arrive at the Sisterhood’s headquarters. Monet enters first, smashing straight through and into Amora. It’s pretty awesome. Monet, in telling Amora to stay down, mentions how much death sucks. Even Amora’s impressed. Psylocke goes after Typhoid Mary. Rachel and Storm confront Arkea, Selene and Maddie. Maddie attacks Rachel telepathically. Psylocke kicks Mary’s ass physically and verbally. It’s pretty great. I love Psylocke as a snarker. Storm convinces Selene and Maddie to walk away – nice. That leaves Arkea all alone to deal with Storm, Monet, Rachel, and a very angry Karima. Anka’s art is a bit odd. There are times where characters are missing noses. He needs just a bit more detail to his work. It’s great stuff, for the most part, it just needs to be tightened up a bit. The writing is excellent. I love that Maddie and Selene decide they just don’t particularly give a damn about Arkea. It feels kinda weird to have this Arkea plotline over with. It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it. I’m looking forward, though, to seeing what Wood does next. For now, though, there’s the section drawn by Clay Mann. Jubilee pulls herself together and starts ripping up a Sentinel to keep the Arkea virus distracted while Quire takes over the Sentinels to make them blow themselves up. And Mercury and Bling! come to an understanding. Turns out Mercury actually didn’t have a problem with the idea of going out with Roxy, Roxy just went about it in a bad way – “weird creepy notes” left on Mercury’s door. Aw, I knew Cessily wasn’t a homophobe! She’s too nice to have a problem with a girl asking her out. But stalkery notes – that I can understand having a problem with. I hope Wood doesn’t just drop those two now. I hope they remain an ongoing subplot. They’ll make a cute couple. Mann’s art in this section is good. Wood’s writing is fine. But it’s very quick and to-the-point. It really does feel like it was just tying up the Bling/Mercury subplot.

Wolverine and the X-Men #2, by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar. We start with some guy named Edan Younge, CEO of the Phoenix Corporation, monologuing about the Phoenix. He looks pretty young. Like he might be in his late teens. If that’s true, and Latour is going with yet another teenage corporate villain, then this book can rot in Hell. Dammit, Latour, we got enough of that shit with the Hellfire Brats, don’t repeat that mistake. Wolverine’s pissed at the Phoenix symbol sent to all the screens at the end of last issue, and Storm gets pissed at him for wanting to leave to chase after whoever did it. He says he has to stand up to anyone who thinks they can walk over the X-Men, which is a little irritating considering the Schism was caused by Scott saying they needed to stand up to anyone who tried to push mutants. Idie interrupts their argument to let them know Quentin’s run away. Good, let him go. And never come back. But nope, then we have to see where he’s run off to. Back at the school, Anole – now the CEO of Worthington Industries, because sure, what could possibly go wrong having a teenager head up a major multinational corporation what the hell is wrong with this series that it keeps wanting to make teenagers into businessmen?! – gives some information about Phoenix Corporation. Quire goes to see them. Armour talks to the other students, and Idie acts completely out of character. I’m not sure if this is just how Latour’s going to write her from now on, or if there’s some reason for how she’s speaking. But it’s not Idie. It’s not the Idie from Generation Hope, certainly. That Idie wouldn’t swear. She wouldn’t be such an unbearable bitch. But, sadly, the Idie from Generation Hope is gone. The interesting, compelling character has been replaced with something far, far less interesting. This issue’s lame. The writing is better than in the previous volume, but it’s still an incredibly lame book. It’s just not worth bothering with. Skip this. Skip it until they get a better writer on here. Let’s get Kathryn Immonen to write it. Or Christos Gage. Or anyone not named Jason, because I’m seriously just starting to think that no one with that name should write an X-title.

There’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.

First, Ms. Marvel #2, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. It’s finally out! Hurrah! We start with Kamala freaking out a little bit about having transformed into Ms. Marvel. Then she changes back to normal. Then she partly transforms, and goes back to normal. She tries to transform on purpose, but fails. Zoe and Josh show up, and Kamala shrinks down out of sight, which is cool until she sees a cockroach. Josh is a drunken idiot, and accidentally drops Zoe into the water. Kamala remembers a Quran verse: “Whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind, and whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.” That’s a great phrase, I think. So, yeah, Kamala embiggens (she actually says “Embiggen!”), changes to Ms. Marvel, and saves Zoe, by making her hand into a giant scoop. She escapes a handful of admiring fans, and then “disembiggens” her hand. Kamala’s so adorable. She has a realization about being a hero (and that leotards give major wedgies), and sneaks back into her room, where she has to confront her parents. This issue was awesome. Kamala is adorable, and her struggles are totally relatable. Her faith remains a major part of who she is, but it’s not being pushed. Her family continues to be really interesting. Her brother shows how much he loves her, but also shows a bit of snark. (I remember a lot of speculation that her brother would end up becoming a villain. I think this issue should actually put an end to most of that speculation – it’s clear that he’s a good guy, who cares deeply about his sister.) Zoe and Josh were good, too – Josh was a bit of a dick while drunk, but that’s not terribly unusual, and he wasn’t trying to be malicious or anything, and he did freak out when Zoe fell in the water. Zoe, meanwhile, I suspect may have some depth to her. She wasn’t happy at all with how Josh was behaving, which suggests that she’s not an idiot. The art is really fun and cute. Alphona gives a real sense of weirdness to it all, as well as a few nice minor gags. (When Kamala scoops Zoe out of the water, there’s also a box of “Sal’s Used Cheese” and a bottle of “Free Range Maple Syrup” – and a very scared fish, who gets very angry at being left on the dock; when she’s climbing the tree to get back to her room, she knocks down a squirrel; and in her room is a book called “All Sorts of Math”). It’s a really fun style. This series is quickly establishing itself as a must-read. It takes a lot of the classic teen hero tropes, and gives them a modern twist. The use of “embiggen” makes me remember when that episode of The Simpsons came out. That was a great episode. I remember when it came out on account of me being so very, very old. Anyway, awesome issue. Definitely, definitely check this out.

Revolutionary War: Warheads, written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, art by Gary Erskine. We start with a quick recap of Kether Troop – Colonel Liger’s team in Warheads – and their final mission to Hell. Liger goes to the Master Key, a guy who can open portals, to get him to open one to Hell. The pair go to MI:13′s London headquarters, but Psycho-Wraiths show up. Liger and the Key go to the 13th floor to use the portal there. It doesn’t go well. This was good. Good writing, good art. If you’ve been reading the rest of this event, then this issue’s an important one, as it explains some earlier stuff, and sets up the big finale. If you haven’t been reading this event, then, well . . . not much point in starting now. And as an aside, Dark Angel – Shevaun – shows up in Iron Man this week. She’s not in costume, so I don’t know if her powers are gone. But she’s there. Which is cool. I love that Gillen brought her in.

All-New Invaders #3, by James Robinson and Steve Pugh. We start three days ago, with Tanalth kicking Namor’s ass. Then we cut to Namor meeting the Supreme Intelligence. Namor’s snark is pretty good. In the present, Cap and Torch go to Avengers Mansion. Cap mentions calling the X-Men about Legion’s run-in with Aarkus, despite that, um, no longer having happened. I guess Robinson wrote this issue without knowing how Legacy would end. This is why it’s important to have close contact between editors, if not writers. Anyway, Cap and Torch call up Thor, who says the God’s Whisper no longer works on the Asgardians, due to a spell by Freyja. Bucky finds Aarkus and asks his help, and Aarkus agrees. They’re going to need a lot of smoke for Aarkus to take them to Hala, so Torch blows up a Quinjet. It’s what Quinjets do best, after all. This was good. It’s a good comic. The story’s interesting. The art’s good. The characterization’s good. This is actually sorta what the Avengers should be. It’s got the epic feel, but it keeps the characters at the centre of it all. The story is about them, but the stakes are still big. As an aside, the letters page reveals something I’m happy about: Issues 6 and 7 will reveal a new Japanese legacy character. I’m glad that there’s going to be someone showing up who isn’t a straight white man. I still say America Chavez should be brought in. I also think it’d be really cool if Hammond was revealed as being pansexual – of not caring about gender when it comes to love. Regardless, I at least hope the new Japanese character becomes a permanent member of the team, rather than just a guest character. Because I really am uncomfortable with this team being comprised entirely of straight white men, and I think it needs to add a little bit of diversity on a permanent basis. (And Chavez would be such a perfect addition. She’d even be fairly simple to bring in – all it would take is an arc involving the need to travel to another dimension. Come on, Robinson, bring her in!)

Avengers World (I hate that meme) #4, written by Nick Spencer and Jonathan Hickman, art by Stefano Caselli. This issue follows Starbrand in the City of the Dead. Hawkeye tells Starbrand not to touch anything. Starbrand says he still hears voices, saying they’re dead. They come to a black river, out of which come tar-people. Starbrand is lured away by a voice, and he follows it, and finds himself in his old high school. On the Helicarrier, Banner is telling Cap the Avengers need a magic guy. Hill brings in an astral projection of Sebastian Druid – he’s cool. I like him. He realizes that it’s right before the White Event that made him blow the school up. (I just checked back to Avengers #7. It’s explicitly said that it was a college he blew up, not a high school. So either they’re trying to retcon it, or they didn’t fact-check their own damned books. Either way, sloppy.) He’s confronted with all the people he killed when his powers activated. I normally try to avoid spoiling the endings of issues, but this one had a reveal that excites me too much to keep it in. Morgan Le Fay! Morgan Le Fay shows up! Yay! Hurrah! I love Morgan. She’s a great villain. It’s a shame that she’s not going to get the focus she deserves here. She probably won’t even show up for the next three issues. This is a well-written issue. It does some great work with Starbrand. But . . . it’s not going to amount to anything if it’s not followed up on, and soon. And that, so far, remains the problem with this series. There hasn’t been a single bit of follow-up with any of the spotlight characters so far. Smasher was taken over by AIM, but that hasn’t been mentioned again. Shang-Chi was thrown off a giant dragon; how long will we have to wait to find out how he gets saved? This book is well-written, but it’s going about it in the wrong way.

X-Men comics (March 12, 2014)

This is a fairly heavy week. So let’s get to it.

First, All-New X-Men #24, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen. This is part 5 of The Trial of Jean Grey. Gladiator demands to know how Jean pleads, but she stays silent. King J’son of Spartax defends her, instead, saying she hasn’t done anything yet. He also mentions the Shi’ar wiping out Jean’s entire family. This isn’t going to go well. Out in space, Angela floats and gets dragged in by a ship. The others wait for her to message them – she’s taken out the entire crew. Gamora wants to marry her. Angela says she’ll think about it. On the planet, Gladiator and J’son argue, while the Imperial Guard also argues. Until Jean knocks them out. Yeah, like I said, not going well. And the X-Men, Guardians and Starjammers all head down to the planet to look for her. This is excellent. At this point, talking about Immonen’s art is unnecessary. The man has talent. He is an amazingly talented artist. He does a phenomenal job every time. But Bendis is also doing an amazing job on this arc. The trial is tense and dramatic, and the twin arguments – between Gladiator and J’son, and among the Guard – are really interesting. There’s some nice moments of humour to relieve the tension, before ratcheting it back up again. Bendis is doing a brilliant job with this story. The next issue of GotG will conclude it, and I’m looking forward to it. (I’m also looking forward to the next issue of ANXM – it’s a special double-sized issue, with art by a bunch of great artists, including Bruce Timm, Paul Smith and Skottie Young. Yay Skottie Young!)

All-New X-Factor #4, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. (The recap page mentions PAD has a new novel coming out. That involves, and I quote, “a Charles Dickens character facing off against the undead.” Oh, PAD, you rascal.) Danger plans to kill Nil. Gambit tries to talk her down, but she’s not listening. And says she’s never seen him before in her life. So her memory apparently isn’t what it used to be. She tries to kill Gambit, but Quicksilver rescues him. She finally tracks down Nil, and prepares to kill him, but Quicksilver rescues him, too. Which really annoys her. She tricks Quicksilver into running off a cliff, but Lorna rescues him and Nil. And then has a showdown with Danger. Lorna tears Danger apart. That doesn’t last long, and Danger keeps trying to kill Nil while X-Factor keeps trying to stop her. This is good. There’s plenty of action, but there’s actually also some really good character work for Lorna, Gambit and Danger. Lorna’s got a vicious streak in this book. I’m glad Danger’s joined the cast; she’s the first member of the cast that I really like. I’m even more excited for next issue – Cypher and Warlock! Woot! The complete cast should make for a much more interesting and entertaining book. Di Giandemenico’s art is good, but it might actually be a bit too fancy for my tastes.  Still, the book is definitely finding its feet, and I’m glad for that. The first couple issues were a bit rocky, but it’s coming together now.

X-Force #2, by Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim. Cable introduces various mutants – Wolverine and Storm, Mystique, Lorna, Magneto, Havok, Cyclops – to Meme, the mutant girl the team rescued last issue, locked in some sort of box and projecting her thoughts on TV screens. The mutants are all sceptical of Cable, and his newfound sharing spirit. We see Psylocke and Fantomex fighting some people, while Fantomex hits on her, and she tells him off. We also learn that Marrow got her powers back through someone experimenting on her – the same way Meme got hers. Marrow saves Fantomex from getting shot, and then stabs more people. She’s rather delightful. Cable then tells the mutant leaders about the results of the Alexandria Incident where 3000 died – mutant scanners in airports, 67 countries banned mutants from the military, the G7 is intercepting communications between known and suspected mutants. Cable tells off all the leaders for playing their games, and to stay out of his way while he does the real work of keeping mutants safe.Then he joins the others to talk to Fiqh, a mutant high up in Saudi Intelligence. Fiqh’s willing to give Cable information, but first, Cable has to kill someone. Who’s actually already dead – a psychic entity possessing a corpse. While Cable does the mission, he asks Nemesis about Hope, but Nemesis has made no progress in treating her. Cable’s target holes up, but Meme gets the door open. Meme has a very, very strange way of speaking. So now we know who the floating head on the covers is. And what she can do. I like Meme. I really do. Her speech pattern reminds me of Warlock – very disjointed and stream-of-consciousness. And I like the story Spurrier’s telling. There’s a lot of shady politics, and that’s cool. X-Force has traditionally had very grey morality, but here, Cable doesn’t even pretend that it’s grey. The refrain throughout this issue is “the ends justify the means, even at the cost of your soul.” He’s damning himself, and he doesn’t particularly car. Kim’s art, as with last issue, is phenomenal. Gorgeous artwork. It almost looks painted. And there’s a darkness to the art that fits the tone of the book perfectly. This is a great book.

X-Men Legacy #300, written by Simon Spurrier, Mike Cary and Christos Gage, pencils by Tan Eng Huat, Steve Kurth and Rafa Sandoval. A girl trying to burglarize the JGS gets caught, and an X-Men talks to her. He’s not one we’ve seen before – his power is to be forgotten as soon as people look away from him. Apparently, he’s been on the team for 6 years. Anyway, he takes the girl’s helmet off, and she tells him her story – a boy hit her and raped her, she had to get seven operations and he got 6 months in prison, and a petition was started to get him out. Half her face is still busted up, and people always stare at her. She wanted to get into the school because she wanted to not be the most interesting one in a room. The guy then tells his story, about Age of X, and wanting to die so that Legacy (Rogue) would absorb him and he’d be remembered forever. he got knocked out, and when he woke up, he found a wounded soldier, and treated him, and stayed with him all night, until the guy just vanished at dawn. Then he talks about how Xavier was the only one who ever really remembered him, and how when Xavier died, he started to wonder if he was even real. he wanted to be rid of his power, and hoped Weapon Omega could help. So he found Omega and Mimic, who’d been helping out with relief efforts after various disasters, wanting to do things that help regular people. A very cool idea. Cyclops and his team actually show up while the guy’s talking to them. A fight starts to break out, until Mimic and Omega copy the guy’s power. Then Mimic and Omega talk the guy out of giving up his power and to do something worthwhile with it. He does – save the girl. It’s a very sweet story. Actually, it’s multiple very sweet stories. Forgetmenot is a really neat character, even if we’ll never see him again. It was nice seeing Age of X again, however briefly, and Mimic and Omega. The whole issue was just a really nice tribute to the past few years of X-Men Legacy. The art isn’t always my taste – I still don’t like Huat – but it’s a good comic.

Wolverine #3, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. Wolverine’s falling after being pushed off a building by Otto-Man, and after Otto-Man saves him, Jubilee shows up. She brings him to where the X-Men – Wood’s team – are fighting robots. Jubilee actually mostly just wanted to talk to him about what’s going on between him and Storm. Wolverine doesn’t want to talk about. Luckily, Maria Hill calls him with a job. She wants to send him after Sabretooth, with a team to help him. He refuses. In the present, he wakes up and plays a video game with Lost Boy. Back in the past, he charges into the horde of killer robots, which then Voltron it up into one giant robot. The robot almost steps on him, but Jubilee saves him. More important, he says “eh.” A nice reminder that he’s Canadian. And we find out what Creed’s up to. This is good. I always love seeing Jubilee and Wolverine reunite. And I love that Cornell used Wood’s X-Men team – that’s just a great touch. The writing on this remains good. Wolverine’s fear and denial both come through well. The art is good, too. Not great, but good. Of course, this series does suffer from being about Wolverine, since Wolverine sucks. But Cornell writes an interesting Wolverine, I’ll give him that.

Deadpool #25, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by Mike Hawthorne. I don’t like Hawthorne’s art. Too cartoonish for me. But let’s get to the story. Deadpool and Crossbones are chatting over beers. And then they fight. As they fight, Deadpool feels angsty, and they both get run over by Gorman. He makes the stupid decision of getting out of the car. So he dies. Then the fight continues, and Deadpool gets runs over by a girl on a bike. Then Deadpool beats the crap out of Crossbones. Almost beats him to death until he’s interrupted by Preston, Coulson and Preston’s buddy whose name I forget. This remains good. Deadpool is a tragic character, and that’s how he needs to be written, and that’s how he’s being written here. The next issue will apparently featuring him going up against time-traveling Hitler, which I’m actually OK with. The book has been serious for a while, so it’s due for a funny issue. After that, I’m hoping it strikes a balance.

That’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.

Captain Marvel #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez. We start on an alien planet, with Carol leading a team to buy something. Carol and the girl with he get hassled by Spartax secret police. She tries the Jedi Mind Trick, because she’s awesome, and when that fails, she punches them instead. In the ensuing brawl, she loses her friend, Tic. Then we cut back to six weeks ago, where she and Iron Patriot intercept an escape pod (Carol initially worries it’s a weapon, until she sees a window and someone inside). Then that night, Carol and Kit are in Carol’s new home in the Statue of Liberty. Yay Kit! She remains adorable. Then Carol and Iron Man talk about the alien she rescued. Apparently, she’s a Nowlanian, whose home planet was destroyed by the Builders. Tony also mentions an idea he came up with, for a rotating gig of Avengers serving in space. The next day, Carol takes Tracy flying. When they get back down, it’s for Tracy’s birthday party, where the rest of Carol’s supporting cast – Frank, Jessica and Wendy – all show up. Carol has such a great supporting cast. Also, she’s now dating Rhodey. But she’s still got a lot of stuff to work out, it seems, and tells him she wants to go to space. And then we get a comic by Kit showing the origin of Captain Marvel, and it’s adorable and whoever came up with the idea is a genius. Anyway, this issue’s great. DeConnick’s writing is as solid as ever. She still writes really human characters, and gets across a lot of personality in a little space. The premise of the series is set up well, and it’s done in a way that makes sense for the character. I’m eager to see where it goes, though I’m sad to see her amazing supporting cast disappear for a while. DeConnick has said that she plans on revisiting them, and that’s something to really look forward to. Lopez’s art is great. It’s more conventional than any of the artists on the previous volume, and while I loved all of them, I am hoping that Lopez’s presence means stronger sales. He does great work. He does a good job with expressions, which helps to tell the story. And, of course, the little page by Kit was awesome. Someone needs to get a bonus for that one. I love it. So yeah, I love this issue. I’m psyched for this new volume.

Black Widow #4, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. Some guy named Molot is being told to kill some people. Black Widow is being tasked with infiltrating some embassy and bugging it while posing as a security consultant selling a new security system. The building gets blown up before she can go inside, and she chases the person who did it. It’s Molot, but she doesn’t catch him. Hill asks her to help find out why the embassy was bombed. Widow finds a lead. She finds out Molot is going to kill a Croatian ambassador in Capetown. e tries to do it with, in Widow’s words, a “huge-ass machine gun.” She fights him, and loses. This series continues to be excellent. This issue has a lot of exciting action (drawn very well by Noto), plenty of mystery, and some solid characterization for Widow. I like that Edmondson keeps hammering in the point that she’s a spy. She’s someone who tries to avoid open combat when possible. She’s actually annoyed at being drawn into open combat here. This series really is worth picking up.

Revolutionary War: Motormouth, by Glenn Dakin and Ronan Cliquet. Motormouth is telling her kids the story of her and Killpower, including Killpower’s death being sucked into Hell. (This actually contradicts Captain Britain & MI:13, as he showed up alive and well there. Oh well.) The art during this intro is adorable. Then it switches to a more serious look. Wisdom and Liger try to contact her. They don’t manage to reach her before Psycho-Wraiths find and attack her. She’s rescued by a street gang. She uses the opportunity to get her kids out, then blasts the Wraiths with sonics. There are apparently two lessons to be learned from this comic. One, Harley is a hardcore badass.  Two, do not fuck with her kids. There’s also a third lesson that her kids are seriously weird. Anyway, this is a really cool, fun comic. Harley’s sad, bitter and sarcastic, and also casually badass. She apparently quit MI:13 because she got too good at killing. The art is good.Very good. This is my first experience with Cliquet, but he’s great. He actually reminds me a bit of Stuart Immonen. And praise doesn’t get much higher than that, really. I especially liked the opening page, with the little chibi artwork of Motormout and Killpower. It’s adorable. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Cliquet.

Fantastic Four #2, by James Robinson and Leonard Kirk. (I’ll be honest, I’m starting to get a little worn down at this point by all the reviews this week. So many books!) Monsters have broken out of the Baxter Building. And blown up the top three floors. Apparently, they come from Franklin’s Counter-Earth. The Fantastic Four go out to deal with them, but Reed’s deeply troubled by more than just the monsters. All the heroes in New York are also out dealing with the monsters. We see Wasp, Blue Marvel, Giant Man, Mach VII (or VIII or whatever number he’s on), Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Captain America, Havok, Wolverine and Luke Cage. Reed captures a monster to examine it, while thinking of all sorts of questions beyond even the immediate problem. He comes up with a solution for the monsters (and we see Hawkeye, Otto-Man, Rogue and Monica). But there’s a “casualty” of sorts. So Robinson’s off to a pretty big start. New York is almost destroyed and a ton of questions are raised, and it’s only the second issue. I suspect most FF fans will probably enjoy this. For that matter, people who like Hickman should really enjoy what Robinson’s doing on Fantastic Four – there’s a bit of similarity in their writing styles, making things very large-scale, though Robinson isn’t losing track of the characters. So far, these first two issues have been very serious. I’m thinking he needs a more relaxed, fun, downtime issue fairly soon. By #5, I’d say. I suspect, given the end of this issue, the next issue will probably be a bit quieter, but still fairly serious. The question is whether Robinson will follow it with something a bit lighter, a bit more humourous. We’ll have to wait and see. Kirk does a lot of big action here, and it seems like that’s what he’s best at. As I said last time, his X-Factor work never blew me away, but X-Factor was largely a talking-heads series. His work is much, much better here.

Secret Avengers #1, by Alex Kot and Michael Walsh. We start with Fury, Jr. and Coulson on a space station with the Fury – the old Captain Britain opponent. The cybiote that actually killed Captain Britain. Then we cut back 6 hours, to Hill, Fury and Coulson preparing to go up to repair the SHIELD space station. Black Widow and Spider-Woman are at a spa. A spa with a firing range. With things like rocket launchers, a chainsaw, and Hulk Hands. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is being chased across rooftops by AIM goons. And Hill goes to visit MODOK’s Lair of Mad Science. MODOK is entertaining. Hawkeye tries to hide from AIM, and finds himself in a steam room. And soon he’s naked in front of Widow and Spider-Woman. This issue winds up being mostly hilarious insanity, but there’s also a lot of dark stuff going on, such as a guy infiltrating SHIELD and planning to kill Maria Hill.The art is good. It’s not as cartoonish as the cover suggests – it’s very similar to the previous volume of Secret Avengers. So this is pretty good. But not great. It’s got a long way to go to be great. I can’t recommend this yet.

Avengers Undercover #1, by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker. We start with a news report about Arena, and Arcade becoming a viral video sensation and a household name. Hazmat is in a fast food place, overhearing some other teens talk about it, including one guy badmouthing her. Apparently, she doesn’t need her radiation suit any more, for some reason. Pym, Richards, McCoy – none of the top Marvel scientists could figure out how to help her control her powers. The future versions of her we saw couldn’t control her powers. But apparently, somehow, the fact that she blew up means she has control now. Sure, that makes sense. Anyway. Chase is using his Internet notoriety to do the talk show circuit, and is generally acting like a douchebro. Nico shows up to tell him off for it. Chase tells her off for cutting herself off from the other Runaways. Deathlocket is in a SHIELD facility, where they’re trying to deweaponize her. It’s not working. The tech talks about being a fan of her. Cammi’s reunited with her mother. Cullen’s hunting Arcade, who’s gone completely off the radar. This is meh. There’s a lot to dislike about it. Hazmat conveniently getting control of her powers. Chase becoming a fame whore. The fact that no one knows where Arcade is – you’d think a bunch of teens being kidnapped and forced into death games would get every damned hero on the planet pretty damned invested in finding Arcade. I find it hard to believe that anyone, no matter how clever, could hide from that many determined heroes for very long. We don’t even see how the adult heroes react to this. I’ll be surprised if we really see them at all, even though Pym and Tigra, and Captain Britain, should be so guilt-ridden about not having done more to help their students that they’d make the surviving students their top priorities. I suspect this series will probably be very light on death, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Arena had enough disgusting deaths. I won’t be reviewing any more issues of this series. Not unless it does something that genuinely impresses me. I do want to say one thing. It seems like PTSD is going to be a major element of this series. But PTSD was already handled extremely well in Academy. A series that Hopeless wound up making largely pointless. And actually, I have another complaint: There’s no way YouTube would allow what is effectively a snuff film to remain up. No way. It would be taken down immediately. And I also find it doubtful that many people would actually enjoy watching it. I know it’s meant as a commentary on reality TV and all that crap, and possibly even a commentary on the reading audience that made Arena successful, but the fact is, very few people would actually enjoy seeing people die. Most people would be disgusted at videos of real people being murdered, no matter how the videos are presented. If they know real people died, it’s going to keep them from enjoying it. Because while people may be bastards, they’re not monsters. I find the sheer level of cynicism in this comic to be, quite frankly, unbelievable. It’s beyond what I can accept. If something like MurderWorld existed in the real world, and videos of it were posted online, they would be met with outrage. Some people would watch out of a morbid fascination, and some might even forget for a few minutes that they’re watching something real, but they would remember, and they would be ashamed of what they watched.

I also want to mention that Mighty Avengers #8 is amazing. So amazing. Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti are both brilliant.

X-Men comics (March 5, 2014)

Well, my big project is out of the way. So now I can do my reviews.

First up, Uncanny X-Men #18, by Brian Bendis and Marco Rudy. Scott and his team return to the base as Eva argues that David deserves another chance. They notice that the ANXM team is missing, and Cyclops finds a Shi’ar weapon. And the rest of the issue is flashbacks, starting with Illyana bringing Kitty to see Scott. Kitty puts her fingers in his brain and threatens to unphase. Scott explains to her the feelings of guilt he has over Xavier’s death. He maintains that it wasn’t him that killed Xavier, but he accepts that he’s responsible for it, because he lacked the strength to stop it, and that he’s going to pay for his sins. She lets him go, and then cries and says she misses Xavier. Scott says he felt the same way when Kitty was gone. And then he asks what she needs from him. Cut to a week later, with the O5 being brought to the NXS, which leads to weirdness. Kitty and Illyana bond over their shared joy at Emma’s fury about Jean’s presence. Scott has a brief and awkward conversation with Jean, and another one with Young Scott. The two actually seem to get along, which probably shouldn’t be surprising. This issue does a very good job getting into Scott’s feelings, something which hasn’t been explored too much. We get a very nice explanation of how guilty he feels, and what he feels guilty about. The conversation between Scott and Kitty is wonderful. These two are my favourite characters, so I always like seeing them interact, and Bendis does a great job with them here. Marco Rudy recently did the Marvel Knights: Spider-Man mini, where he brought some crazy layouts that were really cool. He does some really weird layouts with this issue, too, but it feels less appropriate than it did in MK:SM. He’s got a great art style, but it is muddier than a lot of artists. It didn’t quite work for me here. Still, this issue was excellent, as usual from this series. And I’d rather keep Rudy than go back to Bachalo, but unfortunately, Bachalo returns next issue. With the team attacking SHIELD! That should be a lot of fun. I think we’re also going to get an update on Dazzler, which is nice.

Wolverine and the X-Men #1, by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar. It’s summer break, so most of the teachers are gone, but a lot of the students are still there, so some of the students are serving as TAs. Most notably, Quire. Who’s not happy about it. Idie tries to make him feel a bit better about it. Eye-Boy greets a new student, Lin Li, with small antlers, who can control and bond with animals. She doesn’t seem to speak. We get a panel of Armour putting students through an obstacle course while firing a flame thrower above their heads and shout “Squirm of die, maggots!” Sigh. Please, Latour, no. Don’t do that shit. That sort of idiotic, over-the-top nonsense was what made Aaron’s run so terrible. Storm calls Beast, who’s in space with some students. And then back into the classroom, where Rockslide is about to try to catch some Bamfs. The remaining Hellfire Brats is taking bets. Fuck you, Latour, for acknowledging that that piece of shit character even still exists. Do not ever use him again. None of those shits should ever be used again, by any writer, in any book. They should be stricken from the record. Anyway, Rockslide stops chasing the Bamfs when they start crawling over the new girl. Storm chews out Quire for letting it happen in the firs place, and he defends himself by saying he shouldn’t be in charge of anything, and that they only believe in him because they saw a future version of him. Apparently, seeing the future has him going through a big of an existential crisis. And meanwhile, Wolverine has tracked down Fantomex and asks him to go to the school to keep it safe. On the one hand, Latour has made use of a couple of the New X-Men kids, with Rockslide and Hellion both getting some lines here. On the other hand, honestly, the abominable Aaron run has me doubting that any of them will show up with any regularity. There are indications Armour will be a part of the main cast, but Armour wasn’t a New X-Men, she was created by Joss Whedon for his Astonishing X-Men run. What Latour should do is have the New X-Men kids as part of a revolving supporting cast. What he’ll probably do is ignore almost all of them. It’s possible Rockslide will be part of the supporting cast, dealing with feeling like he’s been left behind by his friends who graduated (which was raised in this issue). It’s also possible that Rockslide will wind up as wallpaper. Maybe brought out for the occasional cheap laugh. I can’t be objective on this series. Not yet. My loathing of Aaron’s run is too intense. I will say this is already miles better than that crap. There’s more depth than Aaron ever brought. There’s a greater sense of the characters actually having complexity, rather than the two-dimensionality of Aaron. The art doesn’t do much for me. It’s not bad, I just don’t care for it. It’s a bit vague at times. And it just doesn’t really work for me.

Magneto #1, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta. We start with a coffee barista telling some cops about an attack. A guy walked into the shop, sat down with a doctor, they started talking, and then the guy killed the doctor. With metal. Then we go to a cheap motel, where Magneto is thinking about how important he used to be, and how some might see his situation as a fall, but he just thinks the coffee’s OK. He reflects on who he’s been, and the sins he’s committed, including a flashback to the scene the barista described. And then we learn a bit more of what he’s up to. He’s tracking down anti-mutant activity, using refurbished laptops and newspaper clippings. SHIELD has been planting false reports to try to draw him out, but he’s too clever to fall for them – he knows the difference between a real atrocity and a false one. And he finds a real one – a vagrant who’s turned himself in for three murders. So Magneto goes to deal with him. This is cool. Bunn has a good grasp of Magneto’s voice. The narration is solid. The story is shaping up to be very interesting, too, with an interesting twist thrown in at the end of this issue. Walta’s art is good. The most interesting part is when Magneto attacks the police station – we get little inlaid panels of all the metal bits he can use for hurting people. (As an aside, Magneto still knows how to make an entrance. He’s also modified his costume a bit – it’s black now, instead of red. It looks very cool.) Walta’s not quite my thing, but at the least, I don’t find him off-putting. This series should be pretty interesting.

Night of the Living Deadpool #4, by Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas. I actually forgot to review the previous issue. It was good. Deadpool is apologizing to the dead people in the town he killed. He decapitates the AIM agent he met last issue, who’s now a zombie, and says they’re going to make things right. The head manages to get Deadpool to the AIM facility where the zombie outbreak started, before finally fading away to mindlessness. Deadpool kills the zombies outside, but just attracts more. This leads to a joke about learning true fear at a Duggan and Posehn party. He tries to figure out a cure. He fails. And things end on a really weird note. This mini wasn’t bad. The art was nice, though I still would’ve liked a few more splashes of colour throughout. The humour was OK. Not great, but not OK. I chuckled a couple times. More than Daniel Way’s run usually got, at least once the pirate arc started. I wouldn’t really recommend this unless you’re a big fan of modern Deadpool.

That’s the X-titles. Now a couple Now! titles.

She-Hulk #2, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido. We start with Jen looking at the “Blue File” mentioned in the last issue. Turns out it’s a lawsuit. Some guy in North Dakota is suing She-Hulk, along with Dr. Druid, Monica Rambeau, Tigra, Wyatt Wingfoot, Nightwatch, Shocker and Vibro, though we don’t learn why. Instead, we meet the owner of the building She-Hulk’s office is in. Her name is Sharon King, and she’s a former mutant (she even attended Xavier’s, apparently) who lost her powers on M-Day, but since she knows what it’s like in the world for people with powers, she leases office space to people with powers. We get a brief glimpse of some of them – a guy walking on the wall, a girl floating down with an umbrella, a dwarf, and a guy walking through his office’s door. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these people and the building. It should be a lot of fun. Then She-Hulk hires a paralegal, named Angie Guang, who has a monkey named Hei Hei. She brings him everywhere. Angie is very, very odd. But since she’s the only applicant, she gets hired. Then She-Hulk sets out to find clients, but no one wants to. They keep saying they’ll give her a call. Turns out her previous  bosses told everyone about the thing with the table. She gets frustrated and goes out for drinks with Patsy Walker. Hellcat! Turns out the Happy-Go-Lucky Hellcat is having problems of her own – no guy, no real job, and she’s a little frustrated and wants to hit something, despite being pretty drunk. They go to a warehouse that Patsy heard was an AIM lab. Things don’t go well for Hellcat. Poor Hellcat! She-Hulk ends up offering to hire her for investigative work, and Hellcat gives an adorable smile. This issue’s great. Yay Hellcat! She’s always fun. And She-Hulk’s fun. And the office is fun. There’s lots of fun here, basically. A lot less in terms of the legal side this time around, but that’s not a problem. It’s still present. Pulido’s art is definitely going to be hit-or-miss for most people. I’m fine with it. It’s a cartoonish style that fits the tone of the book. But it’s something that could definitely turn a lot of people off. Or on. One or the other. Regardless, this is a great series, well worth picking up.

New Warriors #2, by Christopher Yost and Marcus To. A new Inhuman (he has a horn on his head) is on the NYC subway when it slams to a stop. He goes to see what’s going on, and finds Sun Girl fighting the Evolutionaries, to protect some Morlocks. Then we cut to New Salem, where Justice and Vertigo get help from Speedball, Brutacus and another guy whose name I forget and I’m too lazy to look up. Kaine picks a fight with Water Snake, which could go better, until Aracely gets Water Snake to back down. Then Snake gets a chance to explain what happened. Then Evolutionaries show up. Justice and Speedball visit Avengers Tower, and use the computer to pull up the X-Men’s records on the Evolutionaries – I actually kinda like the reminder that these super-teams all share information. And then an alert notifies them of an emergency in the NYC subway. This is another good issue. Lots of good action. However, it’s not a great issue. It lacks either significant plot development or significant character development. It’s still doing set-up. I’m looking forward to the team finally coming together, and the series becoming a little more complete. To’s art is good. It’s a very conventional art style, but it’s well-done. It works. So conventional isn’t bad.

Loki #2, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett. Speed-dating! Guys keep getting rejected by a woman who keeps seeing right through their lies, until Loki sits down in front of her. He tells her who he is, and that he’s on a mission to bring Lorelei to Asgardia. (He was given the mission when the All-Mother manifested in his punch. He was about to throw a party to greet his new neighbours, after having had to magically move his apartment. He’s worried about the All-Mother spilling the punch on the floor as they float around.) Loki eventually tracks Lorelei to Monte Carlo, where she’s pulling a heist. (This includes an absolutely wonderful panel parodying old romance comic covers. It really is great.) Loki corners Lorelei in a vault (he was posing as a girl in her group – when the woman he’s talking to questions that, he says he’s always himself). Lorelei escapes, so Loki decides to rob the casino himself, while he’s there. I love Loki. Meanwhile, at the speed-dating, Lorelei is taking a guy’s wallet, but he’s fine with it. Risk of living in New York. Apparently he was mugged by the Eel the previous week. Awesome. And we also get the story about the girl he’s talking to. She’s neat. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her. Naturally, this story is really fun. Lorelei’s heist is great, as is Loki ruining it. The humour is a nice blend of goofy and sharp, much as one should expect from a British comic book writer. Garbett’s art is conventional but excellent. The issue looks very good. This series is another one worth buying.

Moon Knight #1, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. We learn that Moon Knight is back in New York, with Joy Mercado giving his basic backstory. Then we cut to Moon Knight’s limo, and Knight himself in a white suit. I don’t like it. He looks like he should be selling fried chicken. I will say, however, that the white really jumps off the page – Jordie Bellaire does a great job, as always. MK has his computer pull up information on some recent murders. He goes to the scene of the most recent, and finds his old buddy, Detective Flint, who calls him Mr. Knight, and explains to a rookie cop that they call him that so they don’t have to arrest him. Moon Knight does some Sherlock Holmes stuff at the crime scene to deduce a whole lot about the killer. And then he tracks him to his lair in the tunnels under New York. He finds the guy, a wounded SHIELD agent who’s been attaching the body parts of strong men to make himself better, fit for duty again. When the guy threatens to kill Moon Knight, we get one of the best responses ever: “I’ve died before. It was boring, so I stood up.” And when the guy asks how MK’s going to stop him: “I stopped you two minutes ago. Look down.” And we see a Moon-a-rang sticking out a chunk of machinery in the guy’s side. And then we flash back to Marc Spector talking to a psychiatrist he hired to make him sane. Turns out he doesn’t have Dissociative Identity Disorder – he’s just had his brain altered by Khonshu to give him four personalities to match the four aspects of Khonshu. I like this take on the character. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise – Ellis is a damned good writer. There’s a lot of clever dialogue here, a cool story, and a really neat variation on the character. If anyone can make a Moon Knight solo successful, I figure it’d be Ellis. Shalvey’s art is good. Another one that’s not quite my thing, but a lot of people really love him. Bellaire does a really good job on the colours. So, this is another very good All-New Now! title that’s worth picking up. Marvel really wants all your money.

Punisher #3, by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. Punisher gets beat around by Electro, but escapes and hooks back up with his Army pal. Punisher then finds out where the Dos Soles headquarters is, and attacks it. This remains a good series. This issue is mostly action, but there’s plenty of very exciting action. I don’t have much to say about this because, well, I can’t think of much to say about any Punisher series, for the most part. If you like the Punisher, you’re probably already buying this. If you don’t like him, it’s probably not worth buying. I think that’s pretty much what it comes down to.

Review delay

Hey. I just wanted to mention that my reviews will be delayed this week. School and stuff. So, Friday or Saturday, probably.

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