Today was my final day at my placement. Woot! Then tomorrow, I’ll go visit my girlfriend for a few days, and I go back to my mom’s on Wednesday. So next week’s post will be on Thursday. Anyway, comics.
First, Uncanny X-Men #15. INH, by Brian Bendis and Kris Anka. We start in the past, with Illyana visiting Strange. She falls asleep during meditation, which is funny even before she mumbles “Dasvidaniya, bitches” in her sleep. Strange sends her home, and Wong gets a smile by asking if he’s still alive in the future. Bendis writes a very sarcastic Wong, and while it bugged me in New Avengers, I can write it off as friendly joking here. Anyway, Illyana goes back to the present, and Eva and the Cuckoos (and Jean is also dragged in) talk about needing to go shopping. Illyana finally relents, and they get Emma, who gets Kitty (despite Kitty being very reluctant), to turn it into a full-on Girls’ Night Out. Hurrah! There’s a lot of cute stuff in this half of the book. But, this is an Inhumanity tie-in, so eventually, we need an Inhuman to show up. It goes less than well. This is a good issue. The first half is hilarious, full of Bendis’ trademarked witty banter. Anka also has a lot of fun on art duties, especially with Emma’s sleeping position. Anka isn’t one of my favourite artists (though I’ll always have a lot of respect for him for his redesign of Psylocke’s costume, because she desperately needed a new costume), but he’s very good. The second half of the issue is very tense, and it deals a bit with how the rise of the Inhumans may affect mutants. We’ll have to wait and see if any other books bother to deal with this, or if it winds up being ignored. I’m hoping it’s a continuing matter, but I don’t really expect it. I’m not even sure if Bendis will bring it up again, though it’s certainly possible. I doubt anyone else will bother.
Wolverine and the X-Men #39, by Jason Aaron and Pepe Larraz. Wolverine breaks into a SHIELD facility that has Sentinels in it. When he gets there, he finds Cyclops. After some quick mutual threats, they fight Sentinels. Then we go to the JGS, where the three-faced double-agent guy is enjoying himself, until the squid-faced double-agent chick chews him out. Turns out they’re working for SHIELD. They’ve been studying the students. Specifically, they’ve been studying the students Aaron cares about. All the other students don’t matter in the slightest, as is usual with Aaron’s run on this title. The girl wants to shut the school down, by blowing it up, while the guy doesn’t. Then we cut back to Wolverine and Cyclops. It’s funny – Scott is clearly far, far more reasonable about everything than Wolverine is, yet Wolverine tosses out some bullshit line about how the JGS has saved him, and I think we’re supposed to go, “Yeah! Go Wolverine! You tell that jerk!” And it sorta sums up my whole problem with the relationship between Scott and Wolverine: Scott’s a nice guy. He’s reasonable, he’s calm and collected. Wolverine’s a dick. And yet Wolverine has always been far more popular. Aaron is pulling the same crap, with Wolverine being a heroic dick and Scott being a nice guy who I’m pretty sure we’re actually supposed to dislike. We’re supposed to be on Wolverine’s side through it all, despite Wolverine being a petty, idiotic prick who can’t stop telling Scott off, despite the danger they’re in. The JGS stuff is painfully cliched and stupid. So this issue is just really lame.
Cable and X-Force #17, by Dennis Hopeless and Gerardo Sandoval. Cable and Hope are fighting the Reavertron 9, the tank made up of the lamer Reavers. Cable gets blasted, and Hope gets eaten. Then we cut to Forge’s mind, possessed by the Adversary. Forge realizes that the Adversary is trapped in their base, since his powers don’t affect cold steel, and if they kill the host body, the Adversary goes with him. Forge and Nemesis also bicker a bit, like the awesome pairing they are. In the real world, Boom Boom is annoyed that the omnipotent reality warper is attacking her with pirates. They must be in this year. In Colorado, Domino is trying to rig the Sentinel head to explode to stop the avalanche about to destroy the town of Vail. So, lots of bad things going on. All of them get resolved in this issue, however. Mostly in fun ways. There’s a lot of great character moments, plenty of weird humour. Great art. This is a good book. It’s funny. Uncanny X-Force, under Rick Remender, was extremely dark, almost oppressively so, with little humour. Now, both X-Force books are oddly light and humourous. Still plenty of dark stuff, of course, but it’s very balanced. I like that. Anyway. Another good issue.
Wolverine #12, by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. Wolverine tries to fight Silver Samurai, but he gets his ass kicked by another trio of Hand ninjas. The Host is taking control of the virus, but the Helicarrier comes under attack. Wolverine does manage to kill a ninja, and when he finally stumbles back to Kitty and the trapped humans, he mentions killing the ninja. One of the cops rants about X-Men not killing unless they think it’s best, and calls Wolverine a monster. Wolverine cuts the guy’s hand off. But it turns out to be Mystique, who mocks Wolverine’s lack of ethics and says it’s time for the endgame. More good stuff. Wolverine’s losing it. He’s scared, panicking. And it’s messing him up. It’s fun to watch. Davis does a great job showing Wolverine’s fear in his face, his body, even just the atmosphere around him. The secondary plot of the Host fighting the virus gets little space here. Maybe too little, considering how important that arc was before this. It’s really been derailed by this mall battle.
Wolverine MAX #14, by Jason Starr and Roland Boschi. Logan’s in a limo with some young guy who seems to be offering answers to his past. They reach a hotel, and the guy gives Logan sunglasses and a cowboy hat before they go in. A look that’s familiar on Logan, of course. The casino is owned by Mickey Gold, a name that means nothing to Logan, even though it should. Mickey, Jr. tells Logan he had a wife, and four kids, two boys and two girls. And then he laughs and says he’s messing with Logan. I like this kid. Then we meet Mickey, Sr., an old friend of Logan’s. (He mentions Logan being from Canada. Obviously.) We also find out that Logan used to work for Mickey. He calls Logan a killer and a monster, and forces Logan to work for him again. Another strong issue. I really like this series. It’s dark and moody and violent, and the fact that it’s not trying to bring in all sorts of familiar characters works in its favour. The art is good, and suits the story perfectly. Next issue wraps this series up, which is probably for the best. It’s been a good series, but I feel like this is probably a good time to finish it.
That’s the X-titles. But there’s a couple Inhumanity titles to mention.
Mighty Avengers #4.INH, by Al Ewing and Greg Land. Right off the bat – first damned panel – fuck Greg Land. Fuck his tracing bullshit, and the utterly terrifying result every time he makes a character smile. We start with some douchebro-looking guy from Cortex Inc. cutting a promo, then talking to his bodyguard, a woman who underwent Terrigenesis, and can now slow down time. Meanwhile, Luke Cage is having the old Gem Theatre redone as the new headquarters for the Mighty Avengers. Falcon is there, complete with a terrifying smile care of Greg Land, who is simply incapable of drawing faces and needs to stop trying. (We also see Blue Marvel over in Germany, helping Hauptmann Deutschland fight the Terror-Hives of WESPE.) Spider-Ock has spent the time insulting Cage, and when he leaves, Jessica and Monica wonder why he’s changed. DW Griffith – an old pal of Luke’s from his Hero for Hire days – suspects “Atlas Shrugged.” And with that, we have the best explanation ever of why no one is too bothered by Spider-Ock’s behaviour. I love it. There’s also a great bit when Luke thinks Cap sent the Falcon to check on them, and Falcon says his name is not “And The Falcon.” “Spider Hero” has a chat with Kaluu, a black magician who’s had occasional fights with Strange. We then cut to a SHIELD agent stationed on Attilan being chewed out by Maria Hill for not getting Attilan out of the Hudson yet. I love Hill. I really do. Every writer seems to try to one-up each other when it comes to making her a bitch, and it is always glorious. The whole issue is full of absolutely hilarious dialogue. With an artist who wasn’t the hacktacular Greg Land, this would be amazing. Sadly, Land’s art does hold it back. Still, even with Land, it’s a great book, with a lot of hilarious lines and moments, and also plenty of tension and drama (including some moments that combine humour and tension – a trick very few writers ever accomplish). I also appreciate the nods to the past. Once Land steps off the art duties, this book will be an absolute must-buy. Even now, I definitely recommend picking it up.
Avengers AI #7.INH, by Sam Humphries and André Araujo. The team is securing the ruins of Attilan. Doombot gets attacked by Daredevil, who thinks it’s actually Doom. Pym brings the fight to a quick end. He’s in his Ant-Man costume. DD explains why he’s there (looking for an old lady), and they have an argument about Doombot. Then they fund Doris. She’s a tentacle monster now. This is another great issue. It’s narrated by Pym, and we get some interesting thoughts from him. DD’s guest appearance is a lot of fun. Doombot is awesome. Araujo’s art is excellent. All in all, this is another strong issue of AI, which is a great series and worth picking up.
Inhumanity: The Awakening #1, by Matt Kindt and Paul Davidson. We start in New York, with students from the JGS and Avengers Academy helping with relief efforts in the aftermath of Attilan’s destruction. Pixie’s following some news on Twitter, particularly a girl who was changed by Terrigenesis. Pixie thinks the girl might be about to kill herself. She teleports herself, Quire, Finesse (yay!) and Striker out to Connecticut to save the girl. They find the girl falling, and Pixie saves her, then tells off the others for not helping. Fiona tells her story, which is done through Facebook or Twitter or whatever photos. Then Striker talks to her about fame, and about the curse and privilege of having powers. And then the real plot kicks in at the very end. This was reasonably well-written. Better than The Hunt, anyway. It’s a more limited cast of characters, which is a good choice. Most of this issue is taken up by telling Fiona’s story. The social media format was kind of an interesting approach. I’m not totally sure how I feel about it. I can’t tell if it was a neat variation, or an irritating bit of pandering. That’s not the only social media touch, either. Running across the top of every page is an online conversation between two people, one a racist troll douche, the other a compassionate mutant girl. (As an aside, Fiona’s photos also have comments from her best friend and a troll.) That part, I actually like. I like the dueling viewpoints. It’s an interesting touch. There’s also some good humour in a lot of the troll’s comments. As for the art, I don’t like it. It’s off-putting. As a whole, this is an OK issue, but Kindt will need to up his game a bit more. He’ll also need to use Finesse more. Because Finesse is awesome. My favourite Academy character.
And I also want to mention Amazing Spider-Man #700.3. I bought this comic for one reason: The back-up story by Jen Van Meter and Emma Rios. More accurately, I bought this comic for Emma Rios. I paid $4 for a 7-issue back-up story. But I love Emma Rios. She’s my all-time favourite artist. The story by Van Meter and Rios is about Black Cat breaking into the vault of a rich man with a lot of stolen paintings. She finds the guy’s daughter in there, who idolizes Black Cat. It’s a really good story. The daughter’s cute, but her story is still sad. The art, as usual, is gorgeous. Jordie Bellaire’s colours continue to highlight Rios’ art perfectly. Expressions and body language are flawless at showing moods. There’s a sense of motion to it all, even when characters are just standing still. I should also mention the paintings. We see a few of them, and they’re great send-ups of real paintings, with superheroes in place. My favourite might be the Andy Warhol take on the cover of Wolverine’s first solo comic. And I would be remiss if I didn’t also give some praise to Jen Van Meter. The story is cool, and she does a great job with Black Cat’s voice, and the daughter. Still, the main thing I want to get across is that I will buy pretty much any book that has Emma Rios’ name on it.
I got comics today. Now I will talk about them.
First, I suppose, Amazing X-Men #2, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness. Storm, Iceman and Firestar are all in Hell. And caught between two warring armies. Storm’s orders are to just beat up everyone. Her powers don’t work, so instead, she just grabs a big-ass mace. Whatever works. Up in Heaven, Northstar is having fun fighting flying pirates, fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was 9. His voice here is off, though. Aaron doesn’t have a very good handle on him. Wolverine fights demons on the ground. His Storm, meanwhile, is busy being epically badass. But she gets captured. Iceman freezes Hell, then passes out. Wolverine gets knocked off the pirate ship in Heaven. This is much like the first issue. If you liked the first issue, you’ll probably like this one. There’s nothing particularly zany here, so that’s definitely a plus. McGuinness’ art is a little more cartoony than I like, but that’s a personal preference. He does what he does very well. The art is never tough to follow, at least, which is the most important thing in the art. The story is OK. Azazel doesn’t appear in this issue, and considering he was an awful character, and part of one of the worst stories ever told. The less we see of that piece of crap character, the better. The fact that Aaron is even using Azazel pisses me off. It’s impossible for me to enjoy a story with Azazel, because The Draco was seriously one of the worst things I’ve ever read. I know a lot of people thought he was cool in X-Men: First Class, but even there, I hated every single second of screen time he got, because he never should’ve existed in the first place. If I had a time machine, the second thing I would do is stop The Draco from being written. (The first thing? Stop the Hellfire Brats from ever seeing print. The third thing would be to stop that stupid frigging Aerosmith song from Armageddon from being recorded, because that is the worst song ever, in the history of music.) Anyway. Overall, I’m pretty meh on this book.
X-Men Legacy, by Simon Spurrier and Khoi Pham. Legion has gone into the Superorganism, the “hive mind” connecting all humanity, to fight the Evil Xavier Thing, which is turning humanity evil. David’s explaining the situation to Ruth, who’s a little freaked out about what’s happened to him. She’s worried that by becoming stronger, he’ll become the monster she has to destroy. Then he asks her for a dance. They start to dance, then she freaks out again, not wanting to lose him. They confess their love for each other, and then he knocks her out and goes back to fighting the creature. The fight’s pretty cool, but the real battle is verbal, as the creature tears David apart just by talking. The story’s still good, but I must confess, I’m getting a little tired of David’s self-doubt and angst and all. I’m also not keen on the art. It’s not as unpleasant as Huat’s, but it’s still not something I like. This book has never had art I really enjoyed. The writing’s been solid, but even that feels weak here.
Marvel Knights: X-Men #2, by Brahm Revel. Wolverine attacks Sabretooth, but is distracted when he sees Silverfox. Rogue pops in to beat up Sabretooth while Wolverine looks for Silverfox. Then Sabretooth turns into Mystique, and Blob and Pyro appear. Wolverine runs into Hellfire Club guards. Then he spots a teenaged girl, who’s really scared and shoots him. Then the little green mutant from the start of the first issue shows up. The girl cuts herself, and all the villains, and the green kid, disappear. They talk to the girl, named Darla, and it turns out her mother was a former stripper, and Darla’s power – pulling up memories and making them appear – drove her mom to suicide. There’s also some stuff going on in town, with drugs and guns and kidnapping. We get some snippets of that. This is a really cool story. The art, of course, is fantastic. Dark and moody, a little rough, a perfect match for the story. There’s all sorts of mysteries going on, and all sorts of tension among the characters. Darla’s past is very sad, and the way it’s shown almost as ghosts is really cool. A really cool touch. Great book. Worth picking up.
Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe #3, written by Christopher Hastings, pencils by Jacopo Camagni (and Victor Calderon-Zurita). So Longshot is about to be hit by the SHIELD Helicarrier. Over at Strange’s house, the woman asks her daughter to change the TV to the news, where they see Longshot. The demon in the girl’s teddy bear seems concerned. Dazzler is also trying to keep it from crashing. It stops just a few feet off the ground, which makes everyone except Chaos happy. Chaos decides to summon some alternate-reality beings, and winds up with Vampire Wolverine, Werewolf Captain America, an aged Magneto, and Dracula with a cybernetic eye. Spider-Ock gets knocked into Strange’s place by Hulk, moments before Order and his mind-controlled superheroes show up. Somehow, Spider-Ock analyzes the situation perfectly. Because this book thrives on being ridiculous. Longshot is about to be killed by the Were-Cap, only to be saved by the real Cap, in another bizarre moment. Cap is then attacked by the vampires, though he fought plenty of vampires who worked for Hitler, so he’s fine. So they go after Longshot instead. Luckily, Old Magneto sneezes and lets loose a magnetic shockwave that knocks Blade out of the trunk of a cab, and he kills the vampires. I cannot stress enough just how absurd this comic is, and how funny it gets. The creators are clearly having a blast with this story, and it’s infectious. It’s impossible not to enjoy it. There’s so many great gags all going on. The coincidences get weirder the longer it goes. Which is kinda the point. It’s a lot of fun.
Deadpool #20, written by Gerry “Dig It” Duggan and “Flyin’” Brian Posehn, art by “Great Scott” Koblish. Once again, I implore Marvel to bring back the nicknames. Do it, Marvel. You know you want to. Anyway, this is another of those “inventory” issues that I hate. This time, it goes back to 1968, and Wakanda. The art is in Jack Kirby’s style. This is as good a time as any to say that I hated Jack Kirby’s style. So, this art does not please me. Anyway, he’s attacked by a bunch of monsters, and he kills them. Then a meteor crashes and leaves behind a puzzle piece. And then blah blah blah, these guys are nowhere near as clever as they like to think. Hate it. I hate this comic so, so much. This series was seeing a lot of improvement, and then they toss this piece of shit out. It’s just incredibly awful. Do not buy this comic.
Fantomex MAX #3, by Andrew Hope and Shawn Crystal. EVA wakes up in a body, in a weird virtual reality world. Shivas, her creator, is there with her. Meanwhile, in the real world, Fantomex is fighting a giant squid-crap-thing. Underwater. And kills it. Also meanwhile, the crazy red-headed bitch brings the blonde detective lady, defeated and bruised, to another of the evil guys. Then the leader of the bad guys kills that dude. Then their backstory. Then Fantomex finds Shivas, an old man in a tube. And then Fantomex confronts the bad guys. This is still a very cool book. This one’s got some revelations, and adds another twist or two. The art remains pretty cool. I kinda liked it less here than I did the last two issues, though. I’m not sure why. I’m just losing interest in the art, I guess. Still, it remains a good book.
There’s the X-titles. A few other things to talk about.
Guardians of the Galaxy #9, by Brian Bendis and Francesco Francavilla. Gamora is pissed at Quill because she believes he must have made a deal with Thanos to get out of the Cancerverse. But she also feels bad about Earth being under attack. So she goes back to fight. Back on the Peak, Quill and Rocket are trying to figure out what Angela’s doing there. The distraction allows Quill, Rocket and Brand to get away. Out in space, Angela isn’t doing well, because it turns out bringing a sword to a gunfight is a bad idea. Drax and Groot help her out. Brand, Quill and Rocket get to the control room, and reach the Avengers (specifically, Captain Marvel), but they come under attack, which leads to a pretty funny conversation. This issue has some good action, and some pretty funny dialogue. Bendis is very good at clever dialogue. And Francavilla delivers a couple awesome double-page spread of the battle outside the station. It’s a good book.
Inhumanity #1, by Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipel. Karnak is babbling to himself about extinction. The Avengers try to talk to him, but he smacks Banner. he starts beating up the Avengers, until Hawkeye takes him out with an electro-arrow. Gee, I wonder why Fraction let Hawkeye be the one to win the fight. We get a history of the Inhumans, as the Avengers try to get Karnak to explain what happened. Most of it is just Karnak saying what happened during Infinity. Nothing that needs to be talked about. So I won’t. This was OK, I suppose, but it really was just exposition. Some decent character stuff for all that, but still exposition for anyone who didn’t read Infinity.
This is late because of my work. But here it is.
First up, I’m going to talk about Pretty Deadly #2, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios. Right off, I want to say how gorgeous Rios’ art is. It’s just jaw-dropping stuff. There’s a reason she’s my all-time favourite comic artist. Jordie Bellaire’s colours complement the art perfectly. This is just the best-looking book coming out. Period. This issue is incredibly graphic. The first scene involves a wolf checking out a butterfly and a skeleton of a rabbit missing a chunk of its head. So weird. But really cool. Then we get a sex scene. Then a prelude to violence. And then most of the issue is taken up with a big fight. Deathface Ginny shows up to save Sarah and her sons from Big Alice and her gang. Ginny tears through them with her sword, slicing the tops of heads off. And then an awesome fight with Alice. And Rios just draws the hell out of it. It’s hyper-kinetic, and brutal. There’s one panel, in particular, where I swear I actually saw a sword moving in it. But DeConnick also does a lot of great writing. Alice is insane, and creepy, and badass. One of the big criticisms I saw of the first issue is that people had no idea what was going on. This issue answers nothing. But honestly? I don’t care. I’m fine waiting for the answers. When the story is this good, the art this gorgeous, the writing this sharp, I’ll wait as long as they want to take to start answering questions. (Though, for the record, we get some next issue, according to a podcast DeConnick did.)
DeConnick also provides a little letter, talking about her son, Henry Leo, and his experiences with bees, and a dream where he killed a hummingbird with a water gun. He apparently helped Kelly Sue figure out why Ginny shot Bones Bunny in the first issue – that she wanted to see what would happen, but didn’t mean to be cruel. The letter, as with last issue’s, is really good, a fascinating insight into her creative mind. She also has the URLs of a couple recordings of Ginny’s Song, though both are recited by men. One isn’t even sung. I’d like to hear a version by a girl. Also, there’s a Pretty Deadly t-shirt. I want it.
Anyway. Buy this book, if you haven’t already. It’s an incredible book.
All-New X-Men #19, by Brian Michael Bendis and Brandon Peterson. We start in Miami, with a mutant girl about to be killed, when the X-Men show up to save her. Fight! Jean’s quite the badass. The whole team gets some nice snarking in. When the cops show up, Scott wants to give them a statement. Yes, he apparently is that naive. During the fight, Kitty recognizes the girl as Laura. Laura runs, and Kitty gives chase, tackling her outside a bar, where some skeevy guy hits on them. The death glare Kitty shoots is great. Something very, very strange is going on with Laura. Meanwhile, Jean gets a look inside the head of one of the Purifiers. So that’s something. She’s not very happy about it. This is a great issue. A lot of little moments of characterization, plenty of quips, plenty of being badass. It’s very dark and tense and exciting. Peterson does a great job. Facial expressions are meaningful, the action flows well and is exciting, a lot of good layouts. One complaint: Israel Silva doesn’t colour Laura’s eyes green. He gives her blue eyes, instead. Which is an incredibly common error, but it’s still an error.
Uncanny X-Force #14, by Sam Humphries and Phil Briones. Cassandra Nova and her cultists are in the Griffith Observatory. Cassandra has the hill it rests on rise up as a monster, which is pretty neat. Meanwhile, Bishop explains the situation about the Revenants about to invade, and they have to sacrifice a telepath to stop it. And then he throws a knife into a Revenant’s head. Back at the observatory, Cassandra offers Psylocke an alliance. She’s willing to offer Psylocke back to her original body. I continue to enjoy this. The art is fantastic. A lot of trippy stuff going on. This series has had some really strong art right from the start. A little unconventional, with lots of fun touches here and there. Humphries is also doing some great character work. Puck gets to do a little more comedic relief than usual, and gets to be a badass. All in all, while I know this series has a lot of detractors, I really like it.
Wolverine and the X-Men #38, by Jason Aaron and Pepe Larraz. SHIELD shows up at the JGS. Maria Hill and Dazzler go down to talk; Wolverine calls Dazzler Hill’s “pet mutant,” which I think is incredibly and needlessly harsh. Dazzler is trying to search for Scott – something Wolverine wants done in the first place. So don’t be such an ass, Wolverine. Scott had reason to be harsh to Dazzler, and even he at least tried to be civil. Hill makes some excellent points about how insane the shit the X-Men do is. After Hill leaves, Beast blames Scott for Hill’s fear. Beast blames Scott. The man who is more responsible for the clusterfuck at the Cape than anyone else is blaming Scott. Beast is a frigging idiot, and if Aaron actually thinks we should agree with Beast, then Aaron is an idiot, too. Meanwhile, Broo gives a tour to two new students. And apparently Kid Gladiator is back. Yippee. Lots of crazy stuff being thrown around, little of it clever. Don’t care. The best stuff was Hill talking to the X-Men, and what made it great was that Hill was totally reasonable, and pretty much right. The X-Men are insane. They spend more time fighting each other than they do saving the world, or engaging in political action, which is really what they should be doing.
Wolverine and the X-Men Annual, by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw. This is an Infinity tie-in. Kid Gladiator is doing a report on his time on Earth. He’s at the Shi’ar school for Superguardians. Kid doesn’t like it, and misses the JGS. A call to arms is sounded for a lot of Subguardians to join the fight against the Builders, but Kid is told by his father to stay behind. He disobeys, and joins the fight in space. He gets hit and lands in a ship, where he finds a Smasher, cowering in fear. He helps her get over her fear to get back into the fight. After the fight is over, Gladiator congratulates Kid. The Smashers bow to him, too. Kid doesn’t want to go back to the Superguardian school, so Gladiator agrees to let him go back to the JGS. Meh. A whole lot of meh. What is it about this book that makes Aaron lame? He’s a great writer. His Thor is great. His Wolverine run was great. He’s done lots of great stuff. But all his work on WatXM has been lame. I’m also not keen on Bradshaw’s art. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference.
Savage Wolverine #12, by Phil Jimenez, with Scott Lope as co-writer. We start in 1932, with Logan petting a baby elephant in Africa. Then we cut to the present. Wolverine is reflecting on the scene, way way back in X-Men #109, where Storm chewed Wolverine out for wanting to hunt, and he explained he just wanted to get close enough to touch a doe. He sees hyenas and vultures, and runs after them to find some dead rhinos with their faces removed. One is still alive. Some park guards find him, and he attacks them in a rage before one of them – a woman, of course – snaps him out of it. Then she tells him to put the rhino out of her misery. Back at the ranger camp, we get some talk about poaching. Back at the JGS, Kitty (this takes place before BotA) is talking about costume design, and getting made fun of a lot, when Wolverine calls and asks for her help tracking the poachers. She tells him they’re sent to Madripoor, which leads to another flashback. This time, we get to see him in his Patch days, letting Jessica Drew know that he wasn’t going to allow poachers in Madripoor. Then to the present, where Wolverine confronts Tyger Tiger. This is much, much better than the last arc. It’s solid characterization of Wolverine, showing his crankiness and his sensitive side. There’s some fun with poking fun at Kitty’s old costumes, and it looks like Cypher might be helping her out, too. Yay Cypher! This issue is light on violence, but there’s some hints of it, and I think it’s going to get more violent soon. This is just a great, solid Wolverine story.
Deadpool Annual, written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, art by Evan “Doc” Shaner. This takes place “5 or 6 issues” before Secret Invasion. Deadpool’s sitting on a rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen. In a single city block, we’ve got the Avengers fighting Count Nefaria, the X-Men fighting Juggernaut, and Spider-Man fighting the Lizard. (Continuity error: The Vision is with the Avengers. He was in a warehouse at that point.) Madcap talks to Deadpool. They fight. Madcap shoots Deadpool with his bubble gun, but since Deadpool’s already insane, it just makes him sane and sends him to his happy place. And then Daredevil shows up and kicks them. Then Thor passes by with a latte and lightnings them. They’re reduced to ash. And then Deadpool heals back to life, but he’s got a new voice in his head. So that explains that stupid aspect of Way’s run. Then we get to right before Marvel Now!, and the same rooftop. He planted a bomb to distract the superheroes so he could kill Murdock, but Luke Cage deactivated it and is returning it. Luke hits Deadpool hard enough that he gets a glimpse of one of Madcap’s memories, and Madcap actually takes over their body and uses his crazy power on Luke, who starts dancing. Then Thor shows up, and also gets crazied and starts dancing. And then Deadpool gets Luke and Thor to tear his in half so he and Madcap can each have their own body again. This was . . . OK? I guess? I didn’t care for the art. A lot of the humour fell flat. The story itself was an OK idea, a way of explaining why Deadpool had those voices for the execrable Daniel Way run, and why they’re gone now. But overall, this just didn’t really do anything for me.
Uncanny Avengers #14, by Rick Remender and Steve McNiven. In 3806, the galaxy is being destroyed, and Kang shows up to rescue Stryfe. In 2033, May Parker/Venom. In 2099, Doom. In 2020, Arno Stark. In 2014, Ahab. In 2043, Magistrate Braddock. In 2055, some kind of Deathlok’ed superbeing. Abomination, I think. Rogue and Sunfire are looking for Wanda, so Rogue can kill her. Wanda and Wonder Man begin the spell . . . to bring all the mutant heroes to beat up the Twins. Rogue and Sunfire are stopped by Grim Reaper and Daken. Rogue fights Grim Reaper, and Daken is about to kill Sunfire when Wolverine pops in. And then Rogue stabs Wanda. And then Grim Reaper stabs Rogue. Wonder Man goes down to Wanda, and they finish the spell. Wonder Man apparently dies in the process, as does Wanda. So that’s three deaths. Of course, Rogue is on the cover of an upcoming issue of Avengers AI, so I doubt her death will stick. I’m also doubtful that Wanda will stay dead. I’ve seen some speculation that this is going to be used as a way of repowering mutants who lost their powers on M-Day. I hope that’s not the case. I would be annoyed at that, because it would be a way of absolving Wanda of any guilt over M-Day. And think she should feel guilt. I think that should be a fairly major aspect of her character for years to come. She should always be trying to make up for the pain she caused, but she should never actually be able to. If she’s actually allowed to fix what she did, that would actually make her less interesting to me, because it completely removes a good motivation, and some potential stories that can still be told. As for this issue, whatever. I don’t care. I still find Remender too invested in dark’n'gritty. The art’s nice.
There’s the X-titles. Now the Infinity (and Inhumanity) stuff.
Infinity #6, by Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung (with Dustin Weaver). The Avengers Heavy Team – Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor, Hulk, Hyperion – lands on Earth, and go to confront Thanos, who’s preparing to kill his son. The New Avengers try to stop Supergiant from detonating a planet-destroying bomb. The Maw tries to convince Thane, Thanos’ son, that the Avengers have no hope of beating Thanos, and Thanos, Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight do kick some ass. Supergiant activates the bomb, but Maximus outsmarts her by having Lockjaw teleport her and the bomb to an uninhabited planet. “Woof.” That’s gotta be the best line of this entire event. Out in space, Starbrand destroys an assload of ships with one blast, which annoys me, because much like the defeat of the Builders, it makes that battle seem too easy. We’re supposed to believe Thanos’ fleet is some big, nigh-unbeatable force. And then one guy wrecks a huge chunk of it in about a second. Whatever. Back to the Avengers getting their asses kicked. Corvus Glaive dies, which makes Proxima Midnight kinda shut down. That just leaves Thanos, who fights Thor. It’s not even a fair fight. But the Maw releases Thane, who sticks Thanos and Promixa in stasis in some sort of box. Deus Ex Machina, as usual. And then a shit-ton of exposition epilogue, because if there’s one thing this event hasn’t had enough of, it’s exposition. Ugh. Whatever. I’m glad this event is over. What a waste of time. The Builder threat, built up as nearly impossible to defeat, was solved with a Deus Ex Machina. Thanos’ fleet, built up as nearly impossible to defeat, was solved with a Deus Ex Machina. Thanos himself, built up as nearly impossible to defeat, was solved with a frigging Deus Ex Machina. The heroes weren’t allowed to actually accomplish anything. Every single threat was ended by someone else. Even the planet-killer bomb was actually stopped by Maximus and Lockjaw. And there was very little characterization at any point along the way. There was no real context for what was happening. Just a frustrating event.
New Avengers #22, by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Deodato. Shuri wants to know where T’Challa was during the invasion of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje resign as T’Challa guards, and tell Shuri that Namor has been in the Necropolis. Shuri tells T’Challa off and leaves, and then Namor tells him he’s lost everything dear to him. We get a scene with Maximus and Black Bolt, and another between Wong and Strange, before we go to Reed, Beast and Tony talking to Black Swan. She tells them the Builders are nothing, and warns them of greater threats. This issue had more characterization. Unfortunately, it continues to be too dark and cynical for me to enjoy. Deodato draws some pretty pictures, though. Credit where it’s due there.
Infinity: The Hunt #4, by Matt Kindt and Steven Sanders. Sanders is terrible. The kids have been swallowed by a giant whale with a blue girl living inside it, projecting her memories through the whale’s psychic walls. Which is . . . um. The kids learn that Wakanda destroyed Atlantis. The kids go back outside and decide to go to Wakanda to continue fighting. Giant monsters! One even takes out the giant flying whale. Gang, one of the Pan-Asian School kids, has a plan for beating the monster. It has a very slim chance of success. It succeeds. This was meh. The whole series was meh. Some pretty decent action, but on the whole, meh is the only word that comes to mind. Kindt just isn’t a great writer.
Infinity: Heist ##, by Frank Tieri and Al Barrionuevo. The gang breaks into Stark Tower, though a few people are there. It looks like Luke Cage, Iron Patriot, some blond guy, and a Siberian tiger. The villains break into the armour room. Before Spymaster and the others can attack Blizzard, Whirlwind and Amanda, those three attack them. Then Spymaster steals some armours and teleports out. Then the heroes show up. The blond guy seems to be the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond. The villains beat up the heroes, and then the big guy in armour lets the others know he has one of Spymaster’s teleport devices. They use it to find him. It doesn’t go well. This book’s not as good as the first two issues. This is more plot-focused, while the first two were great character pieces. We get very little of that this issue. The art is nice enough. But on the whole, this is a let-down.
Avengers Assemble #21, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matteo Buffagni. We start with June Covington talking about the lack of a plan in the world, and that free will is there instead. She’s talking to a new assistant, explaining how she makes money from custom gene enhancements (including a Dutchman who wanted his sweat to smell like parsnips), as she gets a delivery. A large crate. She opens it, to reveal an Inhuman cocoon. And a bomb. Poor assistant Gail apparently dies in the explosion, and June is pissed at the damage to her new Inhuman pet. Then we go to Avengers Tower, where Spider-Girl wants some help finding her Social Studies teacher. She has trouble getting it, since no one’s willing to let her finish a sentence. Until Anya shouts that two Inhuman cocoons have been stolen, including the one her teacher was in. Spider-Woman and Black Widow agree to help look. Team Lady Spiders! Black Widow has an idea for where to start the search. Beat up AIM. This leads to an awesome 10-second fight in darkness. They obviously win, but then a lot of reinforcements arrive, led by Kashmir Vennema. Hurrah! She’s awesome. This is great. June Covington! I love her. The DeConnick/Rios Osborn series June debuted in was so amazing. This scene is a standout. I love Emma Rios. I wish we’d gotten her on this arc. Oh well. On the plus side, starting with the next issue, the arc will be co-written by Warren Frigging Ellis. That’ll be epic. As for this issue, the art is solid. Black Widow’s zipper is too low, which is unfortunate. Other than that, a lot of great art. The writing is excellent. June shows off her complete amorality. Spider-Girl’s a lot of fun, and her annoyance at the Avengers not letting her actually explain why she’s there is funny. Awesome book. I love it.
I start my field placement on Monday. So for the next 3 weeks, my weekly reviews will probably be very, very late.
First, Uncanny X-Men #14, by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo. The kids are climbing around in some mud during a rain storm, wondering how it’s going to work when the original X-Men get there. (Magik thinks having a teenage Jean Grey around will be hilarious. As All-New showed us last week, it is.) Benjamin’s pissed off about the whole climbing in the mud thing, and gets into a big argument with Scott (and even gets in a nice burn that Emma appreciates). After a shower, Benjamin goes into his room and finds Emma waiting for him. Which makes him drop his towel. She thinks his power is a lot more than he thinks it is. She pushes him, which looks a lot like coming onto him, and he makes the lights flicker. Emma figures his power is actually to make people very good, about themselves and him. Then the two go to Atlantic City so she can train him. Emma tells him to ask a girl out. Benjamin says he’s gay. Which, um . . . that came out of nowhere, but cool. Anyway, it doesn’t go well. He finds another girl and starts talking to her about Kubrick. And then – MONTAGE! And then, a test. He has to deliver a letter. He signs into the office as “Scott Pil-” – presumably, he was writing “Pilgrim.” Shout-out! Hurrah! Anyway, this is a great issue. Really, really good work with Benjamin. His power is expanded on, and so is his personality. Emma also gets to be a lot of fun. The art was pretty good. Still a little more abuse of white space than I like to see, but the art itself actually worked pretty well. Emma (and Magik) looked damned sexy in their dresses. (And something I want to mention: Bendis mentioned not long ago that one of the characters in UXM was LGBT, and he’s already revealed who it was. He didn’t make a big storyline all about Benjamin being gay, he just had Benjamin say it. I want Hickman to look at what Bendis did. And I want Hickman to do the same damned thing with whoever the LGBT character in Avengers is. Hickman, it is not OK for you to not out the character on-panel. The bullshit you pulled with Secret Warriors, saying Stonewall was gay but not revealing it in the comic itself? Not cool. Not OK at all. It does not count as diversity when no one knows about it. Secret diversity is not diversity. You want an LGBT Avenger? Great. So do I. I want multiple LGBT Avengers. But if the character never actually says they’re LGBT, then the simple fact is they are not LGBT. So whoever the LGBT Avenger is, you had damned well better make it clear in the comic itself.)
X-Men #7, by Brian Wood and Terry Dodson. We start in Colombia, with Ana Cortes inheriting her father’s business empire. She’s there with a Japanese woman who apparently installs Yuriko into her. So Lady Deathstrike is going to be a hot Latina now? I’m fine with that. Then to the JGS. The official paperwork for Jubilee to adopt Shogo legally is being processed, which is great news, until she finds out the Monet is going to be back at the school. And right off the bat, Monet insults her. Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff. I’ve missed you two so much! Karima’s back to human, her Sentinel implants inert. Monet meets Karima, and the two hit it off, since they’ve both just recently returned from the dead. They go out for a jog, and get attacked by Lady Deathstrike. Monet shows how awesome she is. We also find out what happened between Bling! and Mercury. Bling! asked her out, Mercury freaked out. But it’s all good, because now Bling! likes someone else. I’m betting on Jubilee. I’m so glad that Bling! will be sticking around. I also love the new Lady Deathstrike, I love seeing Monet back, I love that Karima’s sticking around. I love the first of Deathstrike’s new recruits. I’m loving this book. And the art is gorgeous. The Dodsons are fantastic. There’s really nothing about this book that isn’t awesome. Wood’s characterization of Monet is interesting. She’s less certain of herself than usual, and it’s actually made her a lot nicer. I’m going to enjoy seeing her and Jubilee snarking at each other. I miss Generation X, especially since it never gets referenced. It’s like most writers forgot that book even existed. So I’m glad to see that it won’t be forgotten here. I know some people are reluctant to pick this up since the recent blow-up over Tess Fowler’s allegations against Brian Wood. But I think this still an awesome book that deserves to be picked up.
X-Men Legacy #20, by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat. David’s dying, and as he does, he philosophizes about why people are scared of it, with his guess being that life goes on without them. The Shadow Phoenix is in his brain, killing his personalities. He tries to fight, but nothing works, until he merges with his own insanity, absorbing all the personalities into himself. And then he beats the Shadow Phoenix and kicks it out of his head. And then Aarkus explains why they did what they did. It was all to help David, fix him, so he could fight the Golden Evil Xavier Thing. Ooh. More cool stuff. As usual, I hate the art, but like the writing, aside from the accent. David’s become a Gestalt now, rather than a Legion, his mind mostly united. Which is cool. It’s strong writing.
Cable and X-Force #16, by Dennis Hopeless and Gerardo Sandoval. Colossus and Domino fight a Sentinel. Cable manages to get to Hope, who’s still alive thanks to a telekinetic force field that protected her from the bomb. Cable’s powers aren’t working. Boom Boom is dancing in a club that sprang up out of nowhere, until Dr. Nemesis finds her and chews her out for it. Nemesis then inserts himself into Forge’s brain. Back at the Sentinel, Domino manages to get it to knock its own head off. Then Colossus cuts it open with a huge industrial plasma torch. Unfortunately, its explosion causes an avalanche. Back in Australia, Cable figures that Hope probably has his telekinesis. Lucky her. In Forge’s mind, Forge tells Nemesis about the Adversary, who compares him to Q. Forge figures the Nemesis is what drove him crazy not long ago. And now he’s loose. So we’ve got three cool stories going on at once. Good writing, good art, good book. I’m wondering how they’ll beat the Adversary. Last time, it took nine of the X-Men sacrificing themselves. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s done this time.
Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe #2, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni. In Connecticut, SHIELD busts into a home to detain a girl’s teddy bear. There’s a demon in the teddy bear, and its reflection kills the SHIELD squad. Son then the mother takes her daughter to get help. SHIELD has decided to start dealing with magical threats. They’re about to kill Longshot, but the woman drives up with Mr. Dapples. Before the SHIELD agents can fire on the car, Longshot jams them with knives. The agents aren’t sure why they were given rifles that can be shut down by knives – apparently, Hastings has decided to just lampshade the hell out of this series. Longshot fights the head of the SHIELD team. Meanwhile, some kid pulls Dr. Strange out of a hat. Because this story is built on being utterly ridiculous. Fun, though. Anyway, Strange takes Longshot, the mother and daughter back to his place, and learns that the SHIELD director hunting magic is the In-Betweener. Or, more accurately, his Order half, who’s probably already captured Chaos. Strange assembles a strike team to free Chaos and rejoin the two halves of the In-Betweener. This strike force is Deadpool, Ghost Rider and Scarlet Witch. It leads to a pretty fun fight. Longshot winds up finding the Hulk. Dazzler learns that Order plans on going after mutants next, and convinces Order to release the Hulk. This is a lot of fun. I still hate Longshot’s new haircut, but other than that, the art’s good, and the story is hilariously goofy. Probably the best way to go with Longshot. His naivete combined with his luck can make for really weird, offbeat stories, which is what Hastings and Camagni are going for here. And it works. It’s a lot of fun.
Wolverine MAX #13, by Jason Starr and Felix Ruiz. Logan tries to convince his manager, Sean, that he’s not responsible for killing some guy. Sean tries to get him to turn himself in, but Logan doesn’t trust him. And that disturbs Sean. So does the fact that Suzie’s gone. Sean explains the whole situation to him as they drive away from the trailer park. They hole up in some cabin that Suzie’s uncle owns, and Logan shoots himself in the head with Sean’s shotgun. It’s pretty gruesome. When he heals, he finds that what Suzie did to him is gone. And he wants some revenge. More cool, moody stuff going on. The art suits the story very well. And the story is cool. Dark and gruesome, full of betrayals and twists and turns and murder and other fun stuff. I like this book.
A+X #14. The first story, by Max Bemis and David Lafuente, teams Spider-Ock and Magneto. Spider-Ock is in Boondocks, Nevada, a ghost town, where he finds a secret underground lab. Magneto’s already there, having dealt with an army of AIM grunts. AIM kidnapped a preteen boy, who’s a mutant. There’s a page with a cute little 8-bit video game visual design showing what’s in the AIM base. As they fight through the base, Magneto bad-mouths supervillains. It’s actually pretty funny. At one point, Spider-Ock speculates that maybe Magneto hasn’t experienced the sort of tragedy that leads to someone becoming a supervillain. Magneto points out he was in the Holocaust. Finally, they reach MODOK. MODOK. With a metal body. Who threatens Magneto. Who controls metal. MODOK. Magneto. Take a wild guess how that fight goes. Go on, guess. Anyway, they free the boy, who declares a war against mutants. It’s kind of a fun story. Magneto’s contempt for supervillains is fun, and the way the pair just casually beat up all the AIM guys while chatting is great. AIM is one of those groups that it’s fun to see get beat up. The second story, by Gerry Duggan and David Yardin, teams Scott and Captain America. They’re in a casino that holds a SHIELD facility. Scott had freed himself, and Cap agreed to team up with him for their mission against the Skrulls. Cap pulls up info on the Cadre, and an LMD provides them information on a Latverian black ops site and a Skrull detector. The pair sneak into Castle Doom, and Scott’s power stops working right when he needs to shoot a bunch of Doombots. Then the real Doom comes down and kills the Skrull they were trying to rescue. Some nice arguing between Scott and Cap. A pretty good story. And nice art by Yardin. So, two more cool stories.
There’s the X-titles. Now the non-X-titles.
Thunderbolts #18, by Charles Soule and Jefte Palo. I hate Palo’s art. Hate it. Anyway, the three incompetent Mobsters are Inhumans now. One of them is an artist. He gets a bullet through his head. Ouch, Soule. That was brutal. It really was. You can feel the guy’s excitement, his pure joy, and then . . . blam. The surviving Nobilis decide to defend the family name by killing a lot of other Mobsters. Outside, Mercy is blowing up spaceships. Ross tells her to leave the people alone, and threatens to find a way to kill her if she doesn’t. He convinces her that he has a plan to get her all the death she wants if she leaves the people alone. Man, what a good artist could’ve done with this whole sequence, but no, we’re stuck with Palo, whose style is just awful. Deadpool’s finally gotten his pizza, which he finds OK, not great. Then the Paguros walk in and he remembers why he wanted to go there in the first place. I love Soule’s writing (even if he does have Punisher and Elektra hook up again . . . sigh). It’s funny, clever, violent, and bizarre. If only he wasn’t saddled with Palo, who really is just a terrible, terrible artist. I don’t know how he ever got hired, honestly.
Secret Avengers #11, by Ed Brisson and Luke Ross. On the Helicarrier, Maria Hill is pissed about not being able to see what’s going on. On the ground, some freaky-looking guy in a hospital gown has the SA team trapped as he rants about how they’re the reason normal people keep suffering. The guy suddenly collapses. Hill finally gets in contact with Fury, and tells him the dude is a new Inhuman, and to try to bring him in alive. That doesn’t work. So it comes down to Sarah. I hope Sarah doesn’t just disappear after this. She’s cool. I’d like to see her show up again. She clearly doesn’t want to kill, so the Secret Avengers might not be the best place for her. But she could join another Avengers team. Other than that, this was pretty OK. Ross does some great art. The Inhuman’s speech pattern got annoying very fast, but that’s a small complaint. Overall, another solid issue.
Avengers #23, by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu. Cap and Iron Man have a quick comm briefing about the situation. Out in space, the fleet gets a message from Starlord on the Peak, and the battle starts. Lots of fighting. That’s all. Meh. Don’t care.
I also want to mention that Young Avengers #12 was awesome. So much awesome. Go read it.
Another episode. First, the quick synopsis:
Crazy Norse Pagans are looking for the pieces of a staff that gives people RAGE!. The team goes to a professor of mythology who specializes in Norse mythology. He tells them the staff is part of a spear carried by an Asgardian warrior who came to Earth to kill shit and decided to stay because he fell in love with the Earth. The professor turns out to be that Asgardian warrior. Shock! Ward touches a piece of the staff and it fills him with RAGE! and makes him snap at the others. They find the Pagans and Ward grabs a piece of the staff and uses his RAGE! strength to kick a whole lot of ass. Then May uses the complete spear to get the RAGE! strength to beat up the last one of the Pagans. And she and Ward apparently have sex. And Coulson has a nightmare about Tahiti, which remains a magical place.
This was a good episode. It wasn’t particularly tied into Thor: The Dark World, which is fine by me since I haven’t seen that movie yet. I know, I know, I’m going to go when I can. I want to go with a friend, but she doesn’t have a lot of time available. Anyway, the episode. It does start with them cleaning up after whatever it was that happened in the movie, and bitching about having to do it.
The professor was cool. He was very calm and cool, not the least bit worried. Which is actually what leads to Coulson believing the guy’s Asgardian. Though they test it by having Ward try to stab him in the neck. Great moment there. Ward gets a lot of focus this episode, and in particular, his memories of his brother drowning in a well. Turns out Ward could’ve saved his brother, but didn’t do it in time. Some sadistic older brother kept him from doing it by threatening to throw him down the well, too. His guilt over that incident is what the staff acts on to fill him with RAGE!. And OK, I’ll stop typing it in all-caps. It was a fun gag for a bit, but you’re right, I’ve driven it into the ground.
Anyway. We also get a little more about Coulson’s feelings about his death. He talks about having no memories between dying, and waking up in Tahiti a few months later. He doesn’t remember being revived, or the hospital. He remembers waking up getting a massage. (Hence, the nightmare.) More evidence of him being an LMD. Seriously, it’s so obvious at this point that I’m starting to wonder if it’s all a red herring. I guess we’ll find out later this season, I would assume.
The others all get little moments, too. Fitz gets a bit jealous when the professor flirts with Simmons, who really seems to enjoy the flirtations. Skye is all concerned about Ward and stuff, but blah, I don’t care, I still hate Skye. The Pagans were pretty generic, lots of screaming and RAAAAAGE! and screaming. The fight between Ward and the Pagans was mostly skipped over, but I guess that’s not a big deal. Still, it would’ve been fun seeing more ass-kicking, I think. As for Ward and May hooking up, I would be fine with it if it meant Ward and Skye wouldn’t hook up later, but as it is, it seems like something tossed in for the Ward/Skye (or Wye, because it sounds like Why?, which is what that pairing makes me think) shippers to say, “No, you fool! Don’t you see you’re supposed to be with Skye? You two are meant to be!” It’s a tease, basically, an obstacle thrown in the path of the inevitable Ward/Skye relationship.
Overall, another solid episode.
First, All-New X-Men #18, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. Kitty and the O5 arrive at the New Xavier School. Kitty congratulates Scott on using an old Weapon X facility as a base. They’re shown to their rooms by the other students. Jean has an argument with Celeste. Jean calls Celeste an “Emma Frost test tube baby fail.” Phoebe says it’s a solid burn, and also thinks she’d make a good redhead. It’s almost like Irma and Phoebe have decided to do their best to piss Celeste off. I love it. Beast is tinkering with the communication system, which Magneto put together. Hank thinks it’s cute. Another fun scene. Then we get a fight between Jean and Hank about Hank not running off with Jean, and Jean running off with Scott. Then Kitty and Illyana have a really, really nice conversation that brings me back to when they were inseparable best friends. Illyana even tries to hug Kitty! Which makes Kitty panic and phase. The whole scene manages to combine heartfelt emotion and drama with goofy comedy, and it might be my favourite scene in this book for that very reason. “You are not a hugger!” Illyana also magics up new uniforms for the team, and I still hate them. I do not like these new costumes. They look hideous. They’re just not well-designed costumes. Also, Bendis has started randomly throwing Yiddish words into Kitty’s speech. Just, like, right out of nowhere. Other than the ugly costumes and random Yiddish, though, this is a great episode. Lots of great character work, some really fun, tense scenes, a couple great burns. Immonen, as always, is a damned fine artist. Just fantastic at what he does. One of the best out there right now, I would argue. There’s a strong focus on romantic complications, too, which I actually kinda like. It’s fun. And seeing Kitty and Illyana together again hits me right in the feels. Right square in the feels.
Marvel Knights X-Men #1, by Brahm Revel. We start by seeing a mutant being hunted, and then Rachel wakes up screaming. The X-Men are able to figure out that she saw something from a small town in West Virginia, and that someone’s been hunting mutant children. Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue head out to investigate (so this takes place before BotA, I guess; they reference keeping mutants out of Scott’s hands, so this is definitely in-continuity). Wolverine starts a fight with some locals, leaving Kitty and Rogue (who’s borrowed some flight powers, it looks like) to look for the mutant. The mutant seems to be a teenaged girl, who steals a big bag of pills and makes a guy use a knife to start shaving himself. The girl then runs away from Kitty. The X-Men find her and take her while trying to assure her she’ll be all right. But the woods they go into to find the next mutant have some dark secrets, it seems. This is really good. Revel’s art is dark and creepy and sinister. His writing and characterization are, good, too. The murder mystery is neat.
Wolverine #11, by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. Wolverine, Kitty and a trio of mall cops are under attack from five of the 13 Ninjas that make up the fingers of Sabretooth’s Hand. We learn their titles and skills, but I won’t go into that here. One of the mall cops is killed, and the ninjas cut Wolverine up a bit before leaving. There’s a tense moment between the cops and Wolverine and Kitty, but Kitty comes up with a plan to get the mall cops out. On the SHIELD Helicarrier, the Host is being pushed to her limits and beyond to take control of the Virus before it can take over the world completely. Back in the mall, it turns out they’re all trapped. Every time they try to go through the doors, they wind up back where they left. A mass hallucination. And then the Hand keep messing with them. Another good issue. The Hand is manipulating Wolverine well. They know every move he’s going to make, and they prepare for it. It’s cool. The Hand ninjas we see are also very neat. It’s a shame we’re not likely to see that much more of them. I wouldn’t mind if we actually got an entire Hand series about them being awesome and dangerous. But that’s not going to happen.
X-Men Gold #1. There’s multiple stories here. The first is by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. It starts with Kitty doing homework with Lockheed wrapped around her shoulders. She also has a sudoku puzzle and a solitaire game open, and she’s trying to figure out why Mariko left Wolverine at the altar. That, along with other references, confirm that this story takes place very, very shortly after the Toyko story where Marika dumped Wolverine. Anyway, they get an emergency alert from China and go to check it out. Giant Sentinel! Fight scene! They manage to take the Sentinel apart, but it’s full of smaller Sentinels. Some of the Sentinels go after the Starjammer in orbit, hoping to use the tech to improve themselves. So now we get multiple fight scenes! Meanwhile, Kitty is escorting civilians to safety. They trust her because she has a dragon. Sound logic to me, Chinese or not. Some Sentinels attack, but Kitty and Lockheed take them out. Kitty comes up with an utterly insane plan to defeat the Sentinels. She crawls into Wolverine’s body. Colossus swings them around while being superheated by Lockheed. Wolverine cuts the Sentinels open, the heat keeps them from repairing, Kitty tears out the internal grid. And then Storm cuts loose. Holy hell, does she ever cut loose. This was a good story. It’s very much a throwback to the golden days of Claremont’s X-Men run. I haven’t been impressed with Claremont’s returns to the X-Men since 1991; the stories just never worked for me. But this one works. This is what he did best. Great action mixed with great character stuff, building on past stories and laying seeds for future stories. It read like it could’ve come from 1984. McLeod’s art did less for me. I’m just not a fan of him. He draws weird faces. The action was thrilling, though, so there’s that. It was an exciting story. I really, really enjoyed it. This book’s worth picking up for this story alone. The second story was (stunningly) scripted by Stan Lee, (perfectly) plotted by Louise Simonson, and (painstakingly) penciled by Walter Simonson. And can I just say how much I miss those fun little lauds that Marvel’s ’60s comics used to do? Those were so great. Marvel should really bring those back. All-New X-Men could be by Big Brian Bendis and Sizzlin’ Stuart Immonen. Come on, Marvel! Please? Anyway, the boys are rushing to the Danger Room because Jean promised to go on a date with the first one to reach it. Iceman, Beast and Angel are all competing to get there first, and clowning around. Cyclops finally puts an end to it with his optic blast, at Xavier’s orders. He thinks about how dangerous his power is, and how he can never let himself get close to Jean. Jean senses his pain and wishes she could ease it, since it would ease her own, too. So soap opera. I love it. This is the ’60s X-Men at their cheesiest, and it’s awesome. I associate Walter’s pencils with his excellent Thor run in the ’80s, so I can’t feel like his art here is ’60s, but he actually doesn’t do a bad job capturing the feel of the ’60s comics. And Stan the Man Lee. You have to love Stan the Man. He has way too much fun for the readers not to join in. The next story is Roy Thomas and Pat Olliffe. Years before either of them joined the X-Men (but after Sunfire’s first run-in with the X-Men) Banshee and Sunfire are both in Memphis. Banshee looks much too young, I think; he looks the same age as Sunfire, and I’m pretty sure he should be quite a bit older. Anyway, they go to the same place, and they get in a fight. Then they both stop when Banshee realizes they’re both there to look at Sun Records. Sunfire, it turns out, is an Elvis fan. Banshee, of course, prefers country. This is a ridiculous story. Just pure silliness. And once again, I love it. It’s delightful. Next up is Len Wein and Jorge Molina, with a story from Giant-Size X-Men #1. While the new recruits are told about the X-Men going missing on Krakoa, Wolverine sizes everyone up. He figures out how he would take everyone down if her ever had to. Slicing Banshee’s throat, poking Cyclops in the eye, just plain beating up Thunderbird, slicing up Colossus, reflecting Sunfire’s flame back at him, track Nightcrawler by his Bamfs. He can’t quite figure out what to do about Storm. Which makes sense – Storm is almost always far and away the most powerful member of the team. It annoys me how often writers just have her throw out lightning. She’s capable of so much more. The lightning looks plenty dramatic, but I’d love to see more books use the more creative aspects of her powers again. Finally, Fabian Nicieza and Salvador Larroca. Xavier and Magneto have created a utopia, apparently. We see a statue honouring the original X-Men – Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Magneto seems unsure of a lot of what’s going on. The two teleport to New York to meet with Hank and Reed. We learnt hat 30 years earlier, Xavier and Magneto averted a nuclear war between the US and the USSR, and showed the world a better way. As Xavier delivers a speech, Magneto collapses. Wolverine rushes to his side, and we see the adamantium coming out of his pores. The crowd starts to freak, and we see Bastion holding a sign saying Onslaught Is Coming. Xavier offers Magneto some last moments of comfort. Then we go back to the real world. Asteroid M. Right after Magneto tore the adamantium out of Wolverine, and Xavier wiped his mind. This is a great story. Nicieza did a lot of fantastic stories back in the ’90s, especially the one-and-done type. I preferred Lobdell, but Nicieza was great, and this story is excellent. Really powerful stuff. A look at what could have been, and the tragedy of what was. Larrocca provides some really nice art to go along with it. It’s a great, sad story. So. All in all, this book is well worth the $6 cost. It’s five great stories. And I have to congratulate Marvel on offering this for only $6. They easily could’ve charged $8, or $10. Or even more. But they went cheap. They really do deserve some credit for that. And everyone who worked on this book also deserves credit, because they all did a fantastic, wonderful job. This was a delightful 50th anniversary special, and it actually kinda makes me sad that there are no other major milestones coming up to give them a good excuse to do more of these. Though I guess if this one sells strongly enough, they may go ahead and make up some excuses to do more fun stuff like this. So buy this book! Come on! Buy it!
Edit: Savage Wolverine #11, by Jock. Wolverine sees a bunch of kids in test tubes. The one he was with gets stabbed in the back by some dude. The kid sprouts claws and slashes the dude, which allows Wolverine to finish him off gruesomely. The kid gets up, his wound healed, then explains that the kids in the tubes are a new batch. The kid gives him a vial that’s supposed to save the kids. Wolverine injects himself with it. It’s poison. The kid injects the poison to kill the tube kids, and says that if need be, he wants the same done to him. More meh. This whole arc felt pointless to me. There was nothing really there. No great action sequences, no deep characterization, nothing that made it stand out. I did not care for it at all.
Deadpool #19, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by the incredibly terrible Declan Shalvey, whose style I hate and want to see gone. Wolverine goes beneath the bunker to destroy all their genetic data, while Cap stays topside. Deadpool talks Butler into letting him into the bunker. They talk. We get some background stuff, while Butler tries to convince Deadpool to work with him again. Deadpool refuses, saying that deep down, he’s a good person. Butler’s sister opens the panic room to let Deadpool in. He snaps Butler’s neck. Then he puts the sister to bed, so she can die when the explosion goes off, and have some peace. And then they blow the place up. I’m hoping this book doesn’t go back to wacky slapstick. I really, really hope it keeps a balance of dark and funny (and some darkly funny).
There’s the X-titles. And there’s no non-X-titles I feel like talking about this week. So I’m done!
Another week, another episode. Quick and dirty synopsis:
The team goes to the secret facility the Hub. Victoria Hand gives Ward and Fitz a mission to go into South Ossetia. The people there want independence, and have a weapon that can cause other weapons to blow up. Which is bad. Skye and Simmons are worried about Ward and Fitz, so Simmons shoots Jasper Sitwell and gives Skye access to the SHIELD database. There’s no extraction plan for Ward and Fitz. Oh no! Coulson’s pissed at her for hacking the database, and at Hand for not telling him there was no extraction plan. So the team form their own extraction team. Day is saved. Yay!
This was good. It adds a little bit of questionable morality to SHIELD: Hand didn’t tell Coulson or his team that there was no plan in place for getting Ward and Fitz out after they completed the mission. Coulson did chew Skye out for hacking the files, and explained the need for operational secrecy, and that is actually an entirely valid point. I have absolutely no problem with the idea of mission details being accessible only at a certain level, and I agree that people below that level getting access to the operational details of ongoing or forthcoming missions is dangerous. What Skye did was absolutely, unequivocally wrong, and she deserved the chewing out she got for it, and the points Coulson raised were completely valid. That said, Coulson, Ward and Fitz all should’ve been told what was going on. Sending people on a mission without giving them all the details is also dangerous, and wrong. So Coulson chewing out Hand was also deserved, and the points he raised to her were valid.
Having said all that . . . Fitz was awesome in this episode. He was basically the hero of the story. Ward beat up a few people, sure, but Fitz was mostly carrying his ass throughout the whole mission. There was a Russian bar the two got tied up in, where Fitz saved the day with an EMP. Then near the end, when he jury-rigged the weapon-destroying device to, um, destroy weapons. He even kicked a guy in the head! He could’ve just let Ward die, after Ward through away the sandwich Simmons made for Fitz. Which was a dick move. Seriously, Ward, don’t throw away a guy’s sandwich. That’s just rude. Anyway. Fitz was great.
Simmons was good, too. So adorably nervous. Skye is a horrible, horrible influence on her. And I think Simmons has also pretty much guaranteed that she’ll never be allowed on an actual mission. Shooting a superior officer in the chest is a pretty good way of getting permanent lab work. Hilarious scene, though. And Fitz’s reaction when she tells him about it is great.
Also, we get a little more progress in terms of Skye’s search for her parents (along with more secrets and mysteries) and Coulson’s death and recovery (lots more secrets and mysteries). I’m still betting on Coulson being an LMD, and parts of this episode only serve to enhance that.
I should also mention guest star Victoria Hand. In the comics, Hand was a bitch. Here, she’s slightly less of a bitch. I loved Hand in the comics. She’s still cool here, though she didn’t get to do much. A shame that she probably won’t show up very often. (I’m also a little curious if TV Hand is a lesbian. She was a lesbian in the comics, but outside of her debut, we sadly saw little of it. As far as I can recall, we didn’t even get to see her accidentally blurting out anything about having a crush on Spider-Woman or something.)
So this was another strong episode, with a good mix of espionage and character work. No uncomfortable messages. I liked it.