Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Something big today! Tuesday, I recapped an issue of X-Factor. So today, normally, would be Alpha Flight. But sometimes the world is a good place, so I get a treat. Excalibur, you guys! It’s Excalibur! By Claremont, Davis, Neary, Farmer, Oliver and Orzechowski, “The Sword Is Drawn.”
Kitty’s in bed (with a poster of The Once And Future King above her bed), trying to fall asleep, but kept awake by her grief. She comes under attack from people doing her hair and make-up. Then she’s shoved onto a sound-stage, in costume, where the other X-Men are lounging around, mostly looking very not-them. There’s a hint of what’s going on in the form of a logo of Mojo’s New World Pix. It’s really cool, seeing how different they are. Storm is smoking a cigarette out of one of those long-stem cigarette holders. Wolverine is reading while getting a manicure. Colossus is smoking a cigar while playing poker. And Psylocke . . . has no eyes. Because that’s not unsettling. Yeesh. Kitty gets knocked over, and she sees Rachel, in red spandex covered in spikes.
So can I talk about her costume for a minute? I kinda want to object to it. “It’s too sexualized! It’s too cheesy!” But you know what? Screw it, I like this costume. I probably shouldn’t. It’s a ridiculous costume. But I like it. Because, yeah, it is damned sexy. But I think the reason it works in Excalibur is because Kitty and Meggan don’t wear costumes that have a focus on being sexy. Rachel’s sexy costume stands out because it’s unique in the book, so it’s OK. Plus, you know, I do like sexy. As for the spikes? Well, I like punk looks, too. So yes, the spikes are cheesy. But screw it, I like those, too. Even if they do mean she can’t hug someone without sending them to a hospital.
Anyway, Xavier yells at Rachel for abandoning the team when they needed her, and she’s about to bust free, but all the X-Men grab chains and start pulling at her, so Kitty phases her free of the chains and she escapes. But Kitty’s left behind with the X-Men. Whose skin is shed to reveal Warwolves. Then Kitty wakes up, back on Muir Isle. She pops out of her room just in time to see a Phoenix effect in the sunrise. Mysterious! She heads back inside, and starts picking things up from the floor. Photos of Xavier and the X-Men. Which gets her bawling again.
Which is a good time to cut to Meggan, swimming with dolphins. Her appearance has actually shifted to be dolphin-like. She still looks pretty. She sees the Phoenix effect in the sunrise, but thinks nothing of it, except to remember she should head back to the lighthouse she shares with Brian Braddock. Captain Britain. The living room is a mess, with chairs and tables smashed and overturned and pictures of Betsy scattered around. And the television is reporting on the deaths of the X-Men. Which included Betsy. Psylocke, who is also Captain Britain’s twin sister. Brian’s reacting by getting completely wasted. Which turns him into a complete asshole.
It’s shocking to see, in these comics, just how big a jerk Brian is. It’s not the sort of thing you saw very often in superhero comics. They’re mostly paragons of virtue, but Brian is an absolute jerk with some massive problems. His treatment of Meggan is especially bad given what a complete and total sweetheart she is. She is just the nicest person ever. After he yells at her, she goes up to the bedroom and starts to feel sorry for herself for a moment, but then immediately tells herself Brian’s just in pain, and she wants to help him through it. She is so nice! So she goes to ask someone for advice, leaving a note:
Back on Muir, Nightcrawler is working out in the gym, swashbuckling against a horde of rapier-wielding robots. Which is, uh . . . Moira has robots that know how to swordfight. Why? Why would a genetics lab have swordfighting robots? And apparently, they’re not really programmed to stop short of killing, so he almost gets killed by the swordfighting robots. Kitty saves him, then yells at him. OK, so he did turn off the safety interlocks, so I guess ordinarily the robots probably are programmed not to kill. Still . . . that doesn’t really explain why a genetics lab has swordfighting robots.
But no time for that, because there’s feels to get to! Kurt and Kitty talk about their grief over the X-Men dying. And Kurt mentions a dream. The same one Kitty had. They had back to the cabin they’re living in, and there’s a kn ock on the door. It’s Gatecrasher! Of Technet! Which also makes a good time for Meggan to arrive. And call Gatecrasher a hippopotamus. And on the one hand, fat-shaming isn’t nice Meggan, you can be better than that. On the other hand, it’s hilarious seeing Meggan angry. Gatecrasher is there with a message from Opal Luna Saturnyne, Omniversal Majestrix. Who Meggan hates.
I love Kitty’s reaction, too. It amuses me when she gets jealous of how hot other women are. Saturnyne wants Rachel apprehended, which makes Kitty angry. So Gatecrasher brings in Technet. And can I just say that Technet is amazing?
Kitty and Meggan are quickly captured, but Kurt manages to teleport away. Which is a good time to cut to Rachel! Who drops in on a party. Specifically, she lands ass-first on the cake. Which is a shame, because it looks like it was a nice cake. The party crowd is a bunch of weird people. A Mad Hatter, a chainsaw-wielding giant rat, a demon-lady, a Frankenstein Monster. A chubby guy dressed up like Thor. They all grab the chains still attached to her, and hold her long enough for Warwolves to pop in. She fights them and manages to escape out into the London streets. She runs into the subway, and one of the Warwolves gets fried after landing on the third rail.
At the lighthouse, Brian is passed out, so Kurt tosses him in the water to wake him up and sober him up. Kurt explains the situation, and Brian agrees to help, but isn’t particularly emotional about it. He’s still wallowing in grief and doesn’t see the point in any of it. Nightcrawler yells at him that as long as he’s alive, he’ll keep fighting. Brian says Kurt doesn’t know what it’s like to die. Because, oh yeah, that was a thing. In Captain Britain’s old series, he died. A hero-hunting monster called the Fury straight-up killed him. Then he was brought back by Merlin. And he’s got some lingering trauma from that.
In London, Rachel is wondering about her next move, and sees a bookshop display about various books on the Arthurian legends. And then she gets caught by Technet. Who are then attacked by the Warwolves. One of Technet is quickly killed, and Gatecrasher stomps the Warwolf responsible. As ridiculous as she looks, Gatecrasher is actually pretty badass. Kurt shows up and gets one of the Warwolves to cut open the bodybags on the back of, uh, Bodybag, freeing the three prisoners. And Brian also arrives to help.
So now it’s a big, crazy melee and it’s great fun. Kitty becomes fat and happy, a Warwolf is shrunk down into a necklace, and it’s all sorts of craziness. With Excalibur obviously winning. Technet and the Warwolves are forced to flee. And a happy reunion between Kurt, Kitty and Rachel.
Another night, the five of them are gathered on a mountain, around a bonfire, sharing memories. Rachel says they should all stay together, as a team, fighting for Xavier’s dream. She talks about the Arthurians legends, and the idea that might should fight for right. And that the death of Arthur and destruction of the Round Table just turned them into legends.
This is so good. It’s a great issue. It’s fun, and it’s exciting, and it’s dramatic, and it’s just great. There’s a lot of strong emotional beats, particularly in Kitty, Kurt, Brian and Meggan all grieving for the X-Men. They’re powerful moments. So is Brian’s brief breakdown as he remembers his own death. I like that dying affected him, and that he’s still dealing with some PTSD from that. And I do also like that he’s allowed to be a mess of a person in a way heroes traditionally didn’t get to be.
Technet is always a delight when they appear. They are so wonderfully weird. They’ve got great designs, and a lot of weird powers. Like the one who shrinks people down, or the one who turns their bones to jelly, or the one who’s a big floating baby who grants wishes in weird ways. They’re just such fun characters. I wish we could get a mini series about them, honestly. As long as Alan Davis does it! Marvel needs to get Alan Davis to do a Technet mini, because it would be awesome.
There’s so much to love in this comic, and the best thing is that it means the actual Excalibur ongoing is about to start. That series was so good and I am so excited to get to actually start talking about. Because, guys, that series is a delight.
Extraordinary X-Men #10, by Jeff Lemire, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado. Fight! Colossus wants the ark. The X-Men aren’t super-keen on the idea, but he takes it anyway. Meanwhile, in Limbo, Sapna is creating golems that Illyana destroys. Illyana congratulates Sapna on her progress. And she gives Sapna her old uniform. Aw, it’s a sweet moment. Illyana and Sapna really are the best part of this series. Sapna serves as a great foil for Illyana, reminding her of herself, a reflection of she could have turned out if her life hadn’t been awful. And it’s cute, and I like it. Back in the future, Storm finally gives in to despair and gives up, until Iceman pep talks her. Meeeh. Storm giving up? I don’t buy it. I don’t like how Lemire writes her. Regardless, they go, and right before Glob confesses to his crush on Jean, they all get attacked by Moloids. Which gives Jean a chance to be awesome. I d always enjoy seeing Jean be awesome. She’s got a real flair for the dramatic when she wants to, and it’s always great. The issue also has a pretty good scene between Illyana and Forge. And a Fastball Special via Colossus and Venom. The issue, as a whole, I find OK. I still hate Ramos’ art. That’s never going to change. I will always dislike his style. As for the writing, I’m not sold on Lemire here, either. There is some good stuff. Any scene with Illyana is great. I really love what he’s doing with her. Iceman’s pep talk to Storm is bound to make Iceman fans happy, but the fact that she even needed one is going to sit poorly with Storm fans. She’s Storm. Despair is not something she does. She does not give up, ever. Also, something bothers me about Glob’s crush on Jean. There’s two ways it can go. Either Jean can reciprocate, which nope, nope, lots and lots of nope. Or she can turn him down and Glob’s feelings can be hurt, which would just feel weirdly mean. It doesn’t help that I don’t actually particularly like Glob. The overall plot is OK. Not great, just OK. Nothing special. The weakest of the Apocalypse Wars stories.
Worst X-Men Ever #4, by Max Bemis, Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond. It starts with a softball game. Yay! It’s been waaaaaaay too long since the X-Men have played softball. This scene also has the single greatest description of the Xavier School ever: “It’s like a Hogwart’s for future dead people!” Harsh, but amazing. Then Bailey storms out and blows them all up. Of course, it was all a fantasy, with Bailey chained up in a junkyard, admitting that he’s thought about killing the X-Men. Magneto delivers some pretty fantastic stuff about fighting for change. It’s really cool, interesting stuff and I love it. Magneto wants Bailey to kill Xavier and create a world without X-Men. Later, Rags and Riches try to stop Juggernaut from robbing a bank. They fail, but Miranda creates a well he falls into. She can make things, as well as make things go away. No one really asked her. Bailey and Riches get into a bit of a fight, and get sent to see Xavier. Where Xavier admits there’s no real point to anything, and all he’s doing is fighting for a collection of moments. Which is actually a really great moment, too. There’s a lot of very metatextual commentary in this series, and I love it. It provides a really interesting way of viewing the X-Men franchise, and superhero comics as a whole. I really enjoy. The story is really good, there’s some very good character stuff. The art isn’t my favourite, but it’s good enough. This is a really enjoyable series.
Deadpool #12, by Gerry Duggan, Scott Koblish and Nick Filardi. Future Lady Deadpool 2099 heads down into the long-dead Monster Metropolis, where someone has broken in. Most of the junk Deadpool collected is still there, but one item’s been stolen. The Grey Lady Deadpool 2099 heads to where Regular Dude Deadpool Not 2099 But In 2099 And Is Now Old As A Result has been locked up, and she blows him out. Deadpool 2099’s team of BOBs give chase. Turns out what Grey Deadpool stole was Preston’s holo-matrix. The reveal of who the Grey Deadpool is isn’t terribly surprising. I won’t spoil it, but yeah, not surprising. Also, not exciting! This issue is as lame as the previous 2099 issue! As lame as this whole volume has been! Duggan just can’t seem to get it right, on his own. It’s a boring comic. The art isn’t my style, either. So on the whole, very meh.
Spider-Man/Deadpool #5, by Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales and Jason Keith. It opens with Spider-Man seeing Madame Web and the Great Web of Life. Deadpool and Shiklah head to Hell to see Peter’s soul get tortured, but Hell doesn’t have his soul. And someone has taken Peter’s place in Parker Industries. Deadpool has Shiklah bring Peter back to life, and then shoots him again, hoping this time it’ll send his soul to Hell. It doesn’t. And Deadpool realizes he got tricked into killing someone who wasn’t a bad guy. Meanwhile, in the afterlife, Mysterio is trying to torment Peter with his failures. Because that’ll work. Not like he doesn’t think about this stuff all the time already. Deadpool shows up to help. After Mysterio’s beaten, Mephisto shows up. With a secret. Also showing up: Death. I always liked Deadpool’s deep love of Death. This is a good issue. Kelly’s always been the best Deadpool writer, making Deadpool funny without the comedy being overbearing. The fact that Deadpool never shuts up is fun, but it never sucks away any tension or drama. He also does a fantastic job writing a Deadpool who wants to be a better person. And on top of that, he’s doing better work with Deadpool’s marriage than Duggan, the guy who came up with the whole thing. This issue also touches on One More Day in a very effective manner. So there’s a lot going on here that’s excellent and fascinating stuff. The art is great, too. McGuinness is probably my favourite Deadpool artist, because it’s not a cartoony stye. It’s a fairly normal superhero style, which grounds Deadpool in a way that cartoony art doesn’t. I love it. This is the best Deadpool series in a long, long, long time.
So that’s the X-stuff. And here’s brief thoughts on other stuff I picked up.
Ms. Marvel #7, by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring. It’s a science fair! With exhibits at least as ridiculous as you would expect of a science fair drawn by Adrian Alphona in the pages of Ms. Marvel. “Moose Juicer.” I’ll leave it at that, but the page is filled with jokes like that. Another thing I will say without comment: Skyshark. There’s also a really nice moment for Josh the jock, and a great bit of commentary on how screwed up the college system is. How much it sucks that kids have to compete for scholarships, or else get insurmountable amounts of debt. (Also serves as a little advance poking at Civil War II: “Why do good guys always end up fighting other good guys? Who wins in that scenario?”)
Captain Marvel#5, by Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matt Wilson. Puck sings Bryan Adams. Ew. I never liked Bryan Adams. Sasquatch uses his science to come up with a plan for taking out the Satori attackers, and Carol adds her special brand of recklessness to the plan. And Puck gets to be awesome, too. It’s a fun issue.
Weirdworld #6, by Sam Humphries, Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso. Rebecca wakes up for a conversation with Morgan Le Fey. Where they bond over a love of fries. I’m not sure fries are the best food ever created, but they’re up there. We get Morgan’s history in Weirdworld – that she’s been trapped for 60 years, was initially enslaved, but learned the world’s magic and took over. And then Becca tells her story, about her mom. It’s emotional. And I hate that this is the last issue. There needs to be more! There’s so much left undone! Humphries and Del Mundo did such amazing work on this book and it’s ended far too soon and that makes me sad. Damn everyone who didn’t buy this comic!
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8, by Eryca Renzorth. Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi. Oh, and a short sequence drawn by Andy Hirsch. To start with, the opening recap page is amazing. Galactus tweets about having forgotten his password, and it’s the dumbest thing and I love it. The issue starts with the New Avengers fighting a giant tree lobster, along with a history lesson on tree lobsters, and it’s why I love this series. It’s educational! Just because learning is fun! But then Squirrel Girl gets really sad about Chipmunk Hunk having a date. And Nancy cheers her up by helping her set up an online dating profile. Hells yeah! And it’s tough! And you know what? Yeah, writing a good dating profile is tough. Like, I always feel like I put too much in my profile. But I want to give women an idea of who I am, you know? And then the bottom text paraphrase Blur’s “Girls and Boys” and it’s great! I’m not even big into that song, but my ex was for a little while, so I know the song, and it’s fun seeing it referenced like that. And there’s a dating montage! Which includes Fancy goddamn Dan! And a Sentinel! This comic is the most amazing thing you guys!
Mockingbird #3, by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk and Rachelle Rosenberg. For the record, I spelled Niemczyk from memory, without checking, because I am awesome. Nothing makes me feel better than remembering a really weird name like that. The issue begins with a montage of attempts young Bobbi to get superpowers. These include inventing a laser helmet. She eventually gave up, believing she couldn’t be a hero because she was a girl. Wow. Cain is not even trying to be subtle here, and I love it. It’s a strong statement she’s making about the sexism and racism inherent to the superhero genre, and it’s really cool. Anyway, after this commentary on superheroes, Bobbi goes to help a young girl who’s just developed powers and is sitting on a ledge with a bunch of hostages in a bubble. The girl also sings Hamilton. Because of course she does. I’m shocked we haven’t gotten more Hamilton references in comics the past couple months. The issue is fantastic. It’s a very, very staunchly feminist issue. It doesn’t seem to advance the plot, that I can tell. Instead, it’s a statement issue. It does do an exceptional job exploring who Bobbi is, but mostly, it feels like Cain just had some things she really wanted to say, and she wanted to say it early in case she didn’t get a chance later. And I am absolutely fine with that, because it made for a brilliant issue. It says a lot about how society treats tween girls, and just how shitty we are towards them when they’re going through an incredibly complicated time. And, obviously, Niekczyk and Rosenberg do great work on the art. Rosenberg, in particular, gets to really stretch her stuff, as there’s a lot of rainbow-colouring going on. She does gorgeous work with it. This is such a good comic.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #7, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Marco Failla and Tamra Bonvillain. Lunella comes out of her terrigenesis, looking unchanged. Out in space, a young Kree named Mel-Varr is analyzing Inhumans. His screen includes Ms. Marvel, because of course it does, we know she’s the best Inhuman ever. His father chews him out for not getting into the Academy. Mel decides to prove his worth by capturing an Inhuman. He goes for the weakest of the bunch – Lunella. Poor Mel. He just wants his father to be proud of him, but he’s not cut out to be a strong warrior. So that’s what this arc will be. Mel trying to capture Lunella, and presumably eventually learning to respect and like her. Well, that, and we know Lunella’s mind will swap with Devil’s. So that’s going to be amazing.
Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #6, by Kate Leth and Natasha Allegri. First off, I have to say that Allegri’s art is adorable. It’s just the adorablest thing ever. (Also, as I said yesterday, Patsy’s ringtone is Regina Spektor who is amaaaazing.)
Anyway, Jen, Ian and Tom grab Patsy and take her to Coney Island to relax. And then Arcade shows up! It’s an Arcade issue you guys! Hurrah! Arcade issues are always really fun treats. Also, we learn that Ian is bi. Which is so great! There’s not a lot of bisexual people in fiction, especially not ones who identify as bi, so it’s cool that Ian identifies as bi.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by the Simonsons, Wiacek, Scotese and Rosen, “Gifts!”
Jean is levitating the kids towards the Empire State Building, still missing its antenna. Scott, Hank and Bobby are already there. Also, reporters. Who ask some really stupid questions. Wolf Blitzer would think these are dumb questions. “What exactly is a mutant?” They ask the kids what their powers are, and they all demonstrate. Boon-Boom, as always, is adorably psychopathic.
I love Boom-Boom. Anyway, Iceman gets everyone on track for why they’re there, and I love some of the dialogue bubbles. “That’s Iceman!” “What’s he gonna do?” “Ice stuff up?” Good guess, guy! That describes pretty much 90% of what Iceman does. The other 10% is be annoying. Anyway, he makes a big ice-sculpture Christmas tree, on top of the Empire State Building, where the antenna used to be. So, just to make it clear: He put a massive pile of heavy ice on the top of a building that had already suffered some structural damage. There’s no way this is a good idea. Right? And what happens when it starts to melt? It’s not going to melt uniformly, so the weight distribution will be thrown off, and then it’ll fall right into the streets below and kill people. I mean, it’s a cool visual and everything. But it’s going to turn out poorly.
Regardless, no one points that out, so X-Factor decides to leave before anyone can think of it. They go down telekinetically, with Beast carrying Artie, Leech and Trish, the only reporter who decides to take them up on their offer of a quick ride. While they all walk down the street so Leech can admire the Christmas displays, Archangel – not yet named that, but whatever, I’ll still call him that – watches all broody and dark. He’s so emo. “Look at them, being all happy! Don’t they know the world is a dark and miserable place full of dark and miserable people? Let me read this poem I wrote about it.”
And this is when X-Factor finally learns about what happened in Dallas. An electronics store has the requisite display of TVs, and they happen to be showing footage from Dallas. In fact, Scott turns to it just in time to see Maddie’s final message to him! Because he was getting entirely too happy and needed a reminder that his life is an unending series of tragedies. He loses the ability to even think coherently, and leaves so he can digest it. Jean is shaken up by everyone being dead. Iceman comes over and says he doesn’t believe they’re dead, that they’ve all survived worse. Which is hilarious because he’s right. He’s pretty genre savvy. “Dead? Psh! They’re fine! They’re probably relaxing in, like, Australia or something.”
Anyway, Jean’s feeling messed-up and also begs off, thinking about how Scott will have to find his baby and she wants to help him. Iceman starts taking the kids home, going past some of the ruined buildings from Apocalypse’s attack. The police have brought a spare Christmas tree and a box of ornaments. Inside the Ship, the kids immediately start pushing buttons. With Leech even shouting “Buttons!” Can’t blame them, pushing buttons is fun. Rusty manages to get TV – a Snoopy Christmas special, looks like – and Beast freaks out over not knowing how any of it works. He calms down, just in time to hear Trish doing a report on X-Factor, where she mentions Hank losing his intellect. Not cool, Trish! Not cool at all! Total dick move! You know it’s upsetting him, and it’s not anyone’s business but his, so why’d you go and tell the world about it? This is one of the few times I dislike Trish, because what she did here did cross a line.
Meanwhile, in Annandale-On-Hudson, Jean’s parents are watching the news, and missing their daughter. Jean shows up, and actually knocks on the door. Usually, people just bust right in, with no consideration for Jean’s parents. Jokes aside, it’s a really sweet, touching reunion. Until Jean asks about Sara, who’s still missing. Jean promises to find her. It’ll be a little longer before that plot point actually gets resolved, though.
Back at the Ship, trucks keep delivering presents from people all over the city. Leech suddenly feels bad about how much they have, while some sick kids they saw earlier have nothing. Boom-Boom doesn’t want to give the presents away, but gets guilted into it. She keeps a sweater she already unwrapped, though. The kids load the packages onto a ski and slide it out that night, to deliver them in secret. Jean, Bobby and Hank find them, and Jean yells at them for sneaking off without telling them. Boom-Boom blames it on Leech.
Jean decides she can’t stay mad, and they all deliver the presents to the sick kids in a hospital. They were injured in the battle with Apocalypse. It’s cute and sweet, and then Scott shows up to not have any fun. He’s there to tell Jean he’s leaving, to go look for his son.
And meanwhile, while all this was going on, the Ship has repaired itself, and Apocalypse looks at it on a screen and declares it a gift for X-Factor, but one which is ticking.
So this issue’s pretty good. You know I can be pretty hard on X-Factor, but I don’t actually have many complaints here. It’s a quieter issue, and while there’s still some melodrama, it’s not as out of control as it had been getting. Actually, I think Weezie hits a really good stride for a while after this, if I’m remembering right. We’ll find out together! Either way, I enjoyed this issue. It had some definite fun stuff. The stuff with the kids was actually really good. Rusty and Skids still come across a bit wooden (especially Rusty). But I liked the overall story of the kids in the issue. And Boom-Boom makes everything better. So there was some fun with that.
But the drama in this issue was also well-written. Scott learning Maddie hadn’t died when he thought, but was now dead (even though she’s not), was especially good, as his reaction was believable. Just absolute shock. Jean’s reaction was also handled well, and I do like that it caused her to go see her parents. Their lives are awful, so it’s nice to see them get some joy, and it’s a really touching moment.
Where the issue drags, for me, was the art. I find Walt’s art really wooden. It’s not particularly expressive, and it’s not very fluid. And it’s especially obvious in this issue. There are a few panels where I felt the art hurt the moment by not selling the dialogue well. His style worked well with Thor, where it was all larger-than-life and epic and mythological. But it’s not as good at capturing people, I find. It doesn’t convey emotions very well.
Still, this is a very strong issue.
Oh, while it’s not X-Men related, I actually want to very briefly mention Strange Tales #13. Specifically, the Cloak & Dagger story, by Austin, Brigman, Wiacek, Oliver and Bruzenak. In the story, the Punisher is hunting Cloak and Dagger, mistakenly believing them to be supplying drugs to local dealers. And on his trail to save Cloak and Dagger – Julie and Katie Power! Which leads to something adorable. As usual for Punisher stories, there’s narration in the form of Punisher’s War Journal. But this story also has narration from Katie’s War Journal. The story continues into #14 from the following month, where it continues to be adorable and endearing.
I’ll be going to the store for: Captain Marvel #5, by Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matt Wilson; Mockingbird #3, by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk and Rachelle Rosenberg; Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #7, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Marco Failla and Tamra Bonvillain; Ms. Marvel #7, by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring; Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #6, by Kate Leth and Natasha Allegri; Spider-Man/Deadpool #5, by Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales and Jason Keith; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Andy Hirsch and Rico Renzi; Weirdworld #6, by Sam Humphries, Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso.
I’ll also review: Deadpool #12, by Gerry Duggan, Scott Koblish and Nick Filardi; Extraordinary X-Men #10, by Jeff Lemire, Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado; X-Men Worst X-Man Ever #4, by Max Bemis, Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond.
So that’s 8 comics I’m picking up, and at least 4 reviews. Pricey week.
I’m excited for all of it. Captain Marvel’s been good, and I look forward to seeing how this first arc ends. A shame that Butters and Fazekas won’t be sticking around. Mockingbird has been a lot of fun, and this issue looks like the kind of low-stakes story I love, where a superhero is just there to help someone. Moon Girl is a wonderful comic, full of heart and fun, and we’re now entering the second arc, where Lunella gets her Inhuman gift, and that should be interesting. Ms. Marvel is Ms. Marvel. And this one has Spider-Miles and Nova in it, too. At a science fair! Hellcat is a great, positive comic, and this one will have her going to Coney Island, so that should be fun. Also, Allegri’s art looks pretty gosh-darned adorable. Spider-Man/Deadpool is Deadpool at his best, by Kelly and McGuinness, a great mix of comedy and sincerity. Squirrel Girl is Squirrel Girl, and this issue is called “I Kissed A Squirrel and I Liked it!” So it’s clearly going to be great. And Weirdworld . . . oh man. Weirdworld, guys. Why didn’t more people buy this comic? It’s amazing! And gorgeous! And I’m pretty sure this issue will make me cry.
And in Hellcat, Patsy has Regina Spektor’s “Jessica” as her ring tone now! I love Regina Spektor and you should too!
So there’s rumours that Netflix will be doing shows for Moon Knight, Ghost Rider and Blade. And a lot of people are excited, but I find it kinda lame. Two more white dudes and a black dude. Hurrah. Because we just don’t have enough white dudes. And we all know that black dudes are the only people of colour who exist. And I just think . . . can we stop? Please? Can we stop with white dudes being most of the leads? Can we get more female leads? More leads of colour? Like, why not do a White Tiger show? Any version of the character (though my personal preference would be Ava). How about that? A Latino lead. Wouldn’t that be nice? Or why not announce a Daughters of the Dragon series. Two female leads, both women of colour? One black, one Asian? Let’s do that. Let’s make that a thing.
Or hey, if we’ve gotta do Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, why not make them people of colour? Instead of the outdated Johnny Blaze, go with the more relevant Robbie Reyes, a Latino who lives in poverty taking care of his disabled brother and getting in drag races. Like, in what way would that not be a much better story than some white dude in a circus? Some Evel Knievel knock-off who was so brain-dead that he literally sold his soul to the devil? Why is that the story people want to see, instead of a cool young kid who wants to make a better life for himself and his brother, and gets angry at a world that won’t let him? One of these stories is relevant to the modern world. The other was barely relevant 40 frigging years ago. So why, why, why would you not go with the relevant one?
And for Moon Knight: Why not make him Egyptian-American? A Jew of Egyptian descent. Does he have to be white? Is there anything in his story that requires he absolutely must be white? I would argue there is not. So why not make him non-white? Though I would prefer they keep him Jewish. Jews are horrible under-represented in the MCU. Because, even though they’re usually considered white, they’re still not white enough, it seems. They’re still just a little too ethnic to be allowed to be leads in superhero properties. And that is something that does need to change. But there are Jews from all over the world. So a Jewish-American of Egyptian descent isn’t at all unrealistic. Or, failing that, Arabic descent.
But please, please. ENOUGH! FRIGGING! WHITE GUYS! As the leads. We’ve had those stories. We can’t get away from those stories. There are other frigging stories out there to be told. So can they start being told? Right now, Netflix has two white guys, a white girl and a black guy, and another white guy on the way. And these rumours add two more white guys, and another black guy. So out of 8 leads, there would be 5 white guys, a white girl and two black guys. That is piss-poor diversity, guys. Netflix can and should be doing a whole lot better than that, and it needs to start making changes. Especially considering a lot of the diversity the shows have had has been problematic. Daredevil’s kinda racist treatment of Asians and horrible handling of Elektra. Iron Fist’s cultural appropriation. And people have written about other problems with the shows we’ve had so far, as well, and I’m sure the shows coming up will get more write-ups about how they fumble when it comes to handling diversity.
Of course, the best way to solve a lot of these problems is to get more women and people of colour behind the scenes. There’s really no better way to improve on-screen representation than with off-screen representation.
Related: I posted about this on Twitter. And immediately, some random guy pushed back, and I got into a debate. Which is so weird to me. Any time someone calls for greater diversity, there’s always pushback. I don’t think most of these people are opposed to diversity. It seems like they’re just opposed to talking about diversity. They think it’ll happen on its own, which is not how it works. Change happens because people demand it. That’s just how it works. If people wait patiently, then nothing will come to them. The people who loudly shout about how The Way Things Are is crap? They get things done. The Latino who asks when they get to be more than comedic relief. The Asian-American who says that if Hollywood wants their stories, they’d damned well better show the people. The gay person who tells Hollywood to stop killing them off. These are the people who are going to get Latino, Asian and LGBT representation.
And the people who object every time someone talks about this stuff? They don’t think they’re opposing diversity, but they are. They’re saying that The Way Things Are is just fine, and that the people who want to see a Latino lead should sit down, shut up and wait until the people who make this stuff graciously bestow one upon the audience. And when you ask how long people should wait? They never really have an answer.
Fun note: That guy ended up blocking me. Which I always find hilarious. “I will start an argument with some random guy on Twitter, and when he says things I disagree with, I will block him, rather than simply step away from the debate that I initiated.”
I should do a Deadpool livetweet soon. I’m thinking I might do it tonight. So, if you want to see that, check out my Twitter at, like, 1 am EST. Or wait until I compile them. Whichever.
My schedule for the week: 2:30-11:15 Friday, 11-3:30 Sunday, 3-9:30 Monday. So posts on Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday.
And that’s it for this week.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Simonson, Jon Muth, Oliver and Orzechowski, “To Build A Fire.”
So you know how the last couple issues have been really emotional stuff? Lots of tragedy, lots of strong emotional stuff? This issue cuts away from all that. It starts with the Mutants being angsty. Then Sam comes in with a scroll sent by Amara, saying she’s in Nova Roma with Empath and having a wonderful time. So now we get her story!
At the Massachusetts Academy, the Hellions are having a training session, teaming up against Magma. She handles herself well against them, since, you know, she’s a walking volcano. Empath eventually uses his power to calm her down, but she ends up resisting. Tarot taunts him for having feelings for Amara, and he tells her off and makes her love him. And once again, Simonson screws this up. Tarot’s not the team bitch, Roulette is. Tarot was actually pretty sweet. Anyway, Amara gets pissed at Empath for using his power on Tarot, and starts to run out of the room until Emma stops her. Emma also tells Empath to stop being such a dick.
Emma has a letter for Amara, from her father, asking her to return home. Emma pulls Empath aside to ask why he didn’t make a greater effort to control Amara, and he says she wouldn’t like it, and he wouldn’t humiliate her like that. Tarot, apparently, does like being controlled. Which is odd. Either way, this is our first glimpse at the idea that Empath might have some decency in him; we’ll see more of that throughout the issue. Emma sends Empath to nova Roma with Amara.
A few days later, they’re on a small plane flying through bad weather towards Nova Roma. Which means, naturally, it gets hit by lightning. Of course it does. It’s a small plane flying through bad weather. There was no way it wasn’t going to go down. So now the two are lost in the jungle. Which is full of crocodiles, and jerk monkeys.
That night, Empath moans in his sleep, enough to wake up Amara. There’s a bat drinking his blood. Are . . . are there actually bats who do that? I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing that really happens. Come on, Weezie, you couldn’t have done some research on vampire bats? They almost never attack humans! Anyway, as she treats his wound, he reveals that his power lets him feel what the people around him feel. Which is a new but logical extension of his power. It’s reasonable that, in order to influence the emotions of others, he would first need to be able to sense them.
The next day, he goes into the woods to take a dump, and sees some orchids. He figures he’ll grab them for Amara. But a jaguar spots him. Amara scares it off with a spear she’s whittled, though she takes a scratch to her leg. She reveals that the reason she’s been recalled to Nova Roma is because her father wants to marry her off to some guy she hasn’t even met. Empath suggests she just say no, but she says it doesn’t work like that, and he gets angry at her for risking their lives over it, and tries to force her to create a volcano to call for help, but she resists and bitchslaps him.
They fight some more, with Empath continuing to try to get a reaction out of her. The reaction ends up being kissing him. And also creating an earthquake and mini-volcano that gets a fire going. Oops. As a nice touch, Empath isn’t sure if Amara kissed because she wanted to, or because he wanted her to.
I’ll talk in a minute about all this. Finishing off the recap, a few days later, Amara’s father finds them.
OK. So. This issue. As a story, it’s not bad. A fairly straightforward surviving-a-jungle story, but presented well. That aspect worked. As an Amara issue, well, it’s an Amara issue. How often have we gotten those? So it’s nice to see her get a bit of a spotlight. And she’s handled well here. She’s strong-willed but still vulnerable. I liked seeing her survival skills highlighted so much. She did spend some time living in the jungle, after all, so of course she knows how to handle it, and she really comes across as being in her element. Actually, if the X-office ever remembers that Amara exists, it might be fun if she got to do this sort of thing more often. Maybe she’s on a team that goes into the rainforest (or another jungle), and she takes the lead because she has the most experience with it. Ooh! She could take a trainee team to the Savage Land! That’d be neat.
But the other part of the story is Empath. And he’s arguably the central focus of the story, as the issue is about exploring who he is and why he is who he is. This is Simonson trying to make Empath sympathetic. And that is something where the premise almost matters more than the execution. Prior to this, he was always presented as a monster. Just an absolutely horrible human being who saw people as playthings. So I think a lot of people probably didn’t want him to be presented as sympathetic. Actually, I wonder if this might tie into larger views of rapists. A lot of people look at rape as being one of the ultimate evils, and that anyone who does it is a monstrous human being. To them, it’s not something that someone who’s normal would do. The idea that they could actually be friends with a rapist is simply beyond belief.
The thing is, though, the vast majority of rapists don’t look like rapists. They don’t act like rapists. They don’t even think of themselves as rapists. Most rapists actually are totally normal people. Which is something that no one really wants to hear. So having someone in fiction who commits a form of rape – and Empath’s emotional manipulation is definitely creepy and abuse-y – be presented as sympathetic, it’s something that’ll make a lot of people uncomfortable. So someone like Empath, they want to believe he’s just a monster. That there’s nothing more to him than that. And then being told, no, he’s a complicated person with reasons for why he is the way he is, and who does have a good side – a certain segment of readers aren’t going to accept that.
For my own part, I prefer complicated villains. I’m not sure I’m completely sold here. Truthfully, he seems a little too self-aware at times. I’m probably just nitpicking, because my gut reaction is to want him to be a monster. But my head prefers he be complicated, and be someone who can grow up to be a better person. He’s still a teenager, after all. He’s just a kid. I think I’m willing to give him more slack because of that. Compare him to someone like the Purple Man, who’s a full-grown adult who chooses to see people as playthings. Purple Man is an absolute monster. Empath is just a dumb kid who needs to be taught why he’s wrong.
And as far as the execution of this sympathetic turn goes, it’s good. Simonson does a solid job with it. He’s still an ass throughout the issue, because he’s a pampered rich boy lost in the Amazon rain forest, being rained on, pelted with coconuts by monkeys, bitten by bats and attacked by jaguars. So, you know, not a fun trip. So his petulance makes sense. But the explanations of how his power works, and how it affects him, make sense. They’re logical extensions of his power, with logical consequences, and pretty reasonable reactions for how a pampered rich boy handles it. It does work to make him more sympathetic.
The art is good. Muth didn’t do a lot of work for Marvel. This, a couple issues of Silver Surfer and an issue of the Havok/Wolverine Meltdown mini. It’s a pretty cool style. A bit of a darker style. Not just Oliver’s colours, but the lines and the inks. His work doesn’t blow me away, and there’s not a particularly wide range of expressiveness. But it’s good, and it works pretty well for this issue. I wouldn’t have minded seeing him do more Marvel stuff.
So, overall, a pretty good issue. The biggest problem is its placement. There was some intense crap going on, and then this happens. It feels like a distraction from some very important matters. I suppose, given what came last issue, and what’s coming up after the next issue, having a break between them might have been necessary to prevent mass deaths from dehydration as a result of people crying themselves to death.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My Internet is idiotically slow today, which is why this is so late going up. It took forever just to get onto this site. Anyway. Today, by Claremont, DeFalco, Leonardi, Austin, Wray and Orzechowski, “Deadly Games!”
It opens with photos and articles about Dazzler and the X-Men laying out, with a letter from Ali to O.Z. Chase. Remember that guy? From Dazzler’s solo? And this gets us to a flashback. Dazzler’s in the Danger Room, doing a solo test, and Wolverine jumps in to give her a lesson on dealing with distractions. She ends up getting captured and “killed.”
I do like that the flags say “Bang! You’re dead!” Because it is a line Claremont always loved. Anyway, Dazzler’s angry at Wolverine for saying she needs to stand on her own feet so she’s not a liability. Rogue tells her he means well, and Psylocke says they’re all amateurs by his standards. She also mentions an article about a murder in Florida caused by a werewolf. She wonders if it’s a lycanthropic mutant. The article has a photo of Chase, so Ali decides to go check on him and help him out, declining any back-up by saying it’s personal. Wolverine says that as part of the team, what she does affects them. Oh, shut up, Wolverine, you hypocritical bastard. You’re the king of running off on personal missions and you know it.
Down in Florida, some guy kills a farmer and steals his truck. Ali gets to the town where the earlier murder happened, where Wolverine’s already waiting. Ali admits to being concerned that maybe Chase’s dog, Cerberus, could’ve inflicted the wounds. Wolverine mentions getting rooms at the Bates Motel. Cute. Then he grabs a guy who’s been tailing them.
Ali tried to see Chase at the prison, but the cops were preventing anyone from visiting him. And his public defender was on a fishing trip. So Ali went into the impound lot and found Cerberus, who’s super-affectionate.
He gets along with Wolverine, too. Back at the motel, Wolverine says the guy who was tailing them has a Russian scent. Which means what? Does he smell like borscht? It’s such a weird line. Regardless, Wolverine wants to talk to Chase, so he emptied some booze over himself and walked down the street singing drunkenly, until the cops tossed him in the cell next to Chase’s. Some dudes come in to kill Chase, and Wolverine stops them.
Back at the motel, Chase explains he was hired by the LA DA to bring in a drug dealer who’d jumped bail. Chase found him, and the guy blasted him with glow-hands. Chase woke up, and got arrested. Wolverine asks for a photo of the guy, and recognizes him as a Russian, Zaitsev, former KGB. Then Henry Peter Gyrich knocks on the door. So, I’m going to go off on a brief digression here: I like Gyrich. I do. Yes, he’s a smug, smarmy, arrogant prick of a bureaucrat. But when he’s written well, he’s also a guy who’s very intelligent, and who raises a lot of entirely valid concerns. A poorly-written Gyrich is a hateful bastard. A well-written Gyrich doesn’t hate mutants, he’s just worried about the danger some of them pose.
Anyway, Gyrich says that Zaitsev had defected, but it turned out to be a ploy, and he double-crossed the NSC and the KGB. Gyrich wants Wolverine to bring Zaitsev in, pointing out it might help the X-Men’s standing with the federal government. Ali’s angry at the dirty deal being made, with a killer like Zaitsev getting protection and money. So Ali, Chase and Cerberus accompany Wolverine into the Everglades to find him. And it leads to a fight. Which leads with Cerberus killing Zaitsev. During the whole sequence, Ali narrates her concerns about becoming as hard as Wolverine and Chase, being inured to killing. She likes caring about people.
And that’s the end of Ali’s letter to Chase. He’s been reading it in a bar. Some jackass says good riddance to the X-Men, and that the world’s better off without muties. Chase says some of them were his friends, and politely asks them to raise a glass in salute. While pointing a shotgun, and while Cerberus growls.
This is . . . not a great issue. It’s a massively underwhelming follow-up to Fall of the Mutants. It feels like a lame fill-in inventory issue. I don’t know if that’s the case, but that’s what it feels like. Like Claremont missed a deadline so some crappy inventory issue was tossed in. It’s a bland story, that doesn’t provide any particularly fresh insight into Dazzler. Plus, it’s in the form of a letter Ali wrote to Chase about an adventure they had together. Does Ali really need to go into so much detail about things Chase knows? It just comes across as weird.
The art is nice enough. I like Leonardi’s style. And, yeah, he draws a very nice Dazzler. He makes her all purty. He does a good job with action and motion, too. It’s a pretty enough comic. But it’s still just . . . pointless. It’s a stupid issue, and one that shouldn’t actually be here. Ah, well.
There’s also Classic X-Men #20, a reprint of X-Men #114. The additional content is by Claremont, Dwyer, Austin, Scotese and Orzechowski. First is a two-page flashback showing how the X-Men reached the Savage Land. Once Wolverine pointed out which direction was south-by-southeast, Scott started blasting a tunnel. Storm used her power to stop the lava, though it took a huge amount out of her, working in such a small space while wrestling with her claustrophobia and her own exhaustion. On a fun note, Scott knew which way they needed to go based a glimpse of a map during the fight. That’s why Scott is awesome. He pays attention to everything, and notes any details that could be useful, even in the middle of a fight. It’s a good scene, nice added details. Adds a bit to the issue. The next added scene is a page of Beast, at an Antarctic research base, calling Captain America to apologize for running off, then talking to Jean about her recent changes, and Jean’s inability to find a trace of the other X-Men. Partly a result of Magneto’s messing with the Earth’s magnetic field. This scene isn’t as useful. Doesn’t add as much. And the final added scene is right after Storm questions whether Scott truly loved Jean, and Scott wrestles with his doubts. He thinks about how he never had friends, or a girlfriend, and wonders if Jean was so special to him more because of what she represented than who she was. It’s a very good scene, and definitely adds a lot of emotional weight. It’s a really valuable question for Scott to ask. It may still be valuable, even today.
And the back-up, by Duffy, Bolton, Scotese and Orzechowski. Storm is getting married. The groom turns out to be a rotting corpse, as does everyone else at the wedding. She flees, and then she wakes up. In her costume, with her arm bandaged. Then some corpses start smashing through the hut she’s in. Then she starts to remember how she got there. She’d been taking a vacation in the tropics, and she saw a depressed woman. Storm talked to her, and learned her husband recently died. He worked for a chemical plant, and the plant won’t let the woman see his body. Storm went to see the guy in charge of the plant, who boasted about the material they’d made that was light as plastic but stronger than steel. Some zombie-looking guy brought in some samples, which freaked the boss out, and then it turned out the zombie was the dead husband.
And that catches us up to the present, where Storm is torn. She doesn’t want to kill them. So nature does it by striking them all with lightning. It’s an odd story. Not a bad one, I suppose. But not a great one. It’s very much a Morality Tale, about the dangers of manufacturing and Mother Nature fighting back and so on. It’s OK. The art is great. A lot of the story is fairly low-key, and Bolton’s art always works wonderfully for that. So it does look nice.
And I should mention Power Pack #36, written and drawn by Jon Bogdanove, with Barta, Wellington and Rosen doing the rest. It starts with Franklin Richards having a dream where a big metal hand reaches out for him, declaring him The Twelfth. Skip ahead a bit, and something is sunk into salt water, repairing itself. It’s the Master Mold Sentinel that Stephan Lang uploaded his mind into. Its core programming is to search for The Twelve, the mutants who will lead mutants in war against humans. It’s finished repairing itself, and is ready to resume the hunt, searching for Franklin. When Franklin and the Pack later go to the park, Master Mold attacks. The best part is, when it emerges, one woman says, “Don’t worry, it’s only trashing ‘C’ dock!” Marvel New Yorkers! During the fight, Master Mold tries blasting Alex, who absorbs the energy and unleashes it back at Master Mold, taking off its hands. Then they work together to take it down. It’s a fun comic. Bogdanove did a good job with the writing. And, of course, his art was always a great match for the book. So it’s a very enjoyable comic.
All-New Wolverine #8, by Tom Taylor, Marcio Takara and Jordan Boyd. Off the coast of New Jersey, some sort of illicit deal is busted up by SHIELD. A woman involved in the deal opens the case she brought, and something is inside. Meanwhile, Laura and Gabby are walking Jonathan. Laura agrees not to send Gabby to school, but does order Twenty-Five with chicken. With all the flavour of Twenty-Five. Back at the apartment, Maria Hill calls, and can apparently force the phone to answer and put itself on speaker. Which is troubling. She also paid for their noodles, which was nice. Everyone appreciates free food! Laura agrees to talk, on the Helicarrier hovering above her building. By the way, on a totally random note, Laura and Gabby wear socks around their apartment. Not shoes, and not bare feet. Which seems to be how most characters in fiction, including comics, hang around their homes. I’m not sure why I noticed it here – maybe because the socks are pretty colourful – but I did notice it. And now I’m probably always going to be watching for that sort of thing in any comic I read. And now that I’ve mentioned it, you probably will be, too. You’re welcome. Anyway, turns out the box apparently ate the people from the deal, the SHIELD agents, and the boat. And Gabby enjoys her Twenty-Five with chicken. Gabby is so great. And we do find out exactly what the secret behind the box is. I won’t spoil it, except to say: Holy crap, there’s a villain who’s been busy lately. This is another great issue. It’s looking like it won’t be quite up to the standards of the first arc, but that was a pretty strong first arc. There’s still some great stuff here. Lots of great humour – Gabby is especially wonderful. The end of the issue is awesome, and sets up what should be a pretty great rest of the arc. The art is great. I really like Takara’s style. Very expressive, and some nice fluidity to it. Overall, while this issue is a bit of a dip in quality, it’s still really strong, and definitely worth checking out.
Old Man Logan #6, by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo. Logan is woken by Maureen and her mom, asking if he’s seen the stray dog Maureen’s been feeding. Logan promises to look for him. As he goes looking, he narrates about how great a place the town is and how the rest of the world could learn from it. Shut up, Logan. Ugh, just shut up, with your stupid little “small communities are better than big ones” bullshit. I hate that kind of attitude. That is an elitist attitude. You think Toronto can learn from some little hamlet in the Northwest Territories? To hell with that. It’s not a matter of one being better than the other, it’s a matter of some people being better suited to some places. Sorry about that digression, but that little comment is the kind of shit I hate. Anyway, Logan finds the dead dog, and also finds a helicopter. Then the shooting starts. The Reavers have come to kill, starting with Bonebreaker. The one with tank treads for legs. This is good. It’s intense. I don’t often talk about colour art, because I suck, but Maiolo really does deserve immense praise for his work on this book. His colours look great, but what elevates it is the way he changes the colours to set tone for a panel. So in violent moments, the panel goes red. Also, the panel with the helicopter does a gorgeous job with the sun shining off the propellers. Maiolo is a stellar colour artist, and perhaps the best part of this series. Which is saying something, given Lemire and Sorrentino are both killing it, too. But yeah, much love to Maiolo.
Deadpool and the Mercs For Money #4, by Cullen Bunn, Salva Espin and Guru-eFX. Masacre is inside a trailer, watching over the Recorder, while the rest of the team is on the outside, fighting various bad guys, including the Hand, Slayback, the Orb and Big Wheel. Fighting fighting fighting, pathetic attempts at humour, lots of sucking. They get to a truckstop, where Taskmaster attacks. And the Zapata Brothers, and Bruiser. This book really is just throwing in whatever random villains Bunn can find by randomly clicking around the Marvel encyclopedia. That’s the main appeal of this comic: The shitty villain cameos. This comic sucks. It sucks hard. It’s awful. The story is shit, the characters are poorly-written, the jokes are so unfunny they don’t even qualify as jokes. This comic is utter shit and I don’t understand how anyone enjoys it. I genuinely don’t get it.
Deadpool: Last Days of Magic #1, by Gerry Duggan, Scott Koblish and Guru-eFX. Michael the Necromancer has lunch with his girlfriend and her parents. Her parents don’t like him, though the father likes Deadpool. Who then shows up to grab Michael and bring him to Monster Metropolis to help with a big magic problem. It’s under attack by the Empirikul. Brother Voodoo shows up to help, since Strange is busy. We also learn Ben Franklin is planning on moving onto the afterlife. (He also mentions that he and Clea once hooked up. Which is a thing that happened! Maybe! I think there was a retcon to suggest it was just in Strange’s imagination, but let’s be honest, everyone wants Clea to have been slipped a Benjamin.) Anyway, the monsters retreat behind a heavy door, with Shiklah furious about it. The Empirikul summon a Spell-Eater to finish them off. Deadpool tells Shiklah to lead the monsters into the catacombs for safety, while Deadpool, Voodoo and a few others hold the line. And Michael gets a mystic tome to help, though at a cost. This is actually pretty good. It’s a tie-in that makes sense, given Deadpool’s married to the queen of a city full of mystics. It’s perfectly reasonable to do a tie-in to the Dr. Strange story. And it’s handled fairly well, by focusing on a supporting character who fell by the wayside. And it uses the character to get some real emotional weight. Deadpool himself is still not very well-written, unfortunately. And I don’t like Koblish’s art. But the last few pages of the issue are very emotional, very effective. It’s some good work. Not a necessary read, but a worthwhile one, I think.
Uncanny Avengers #9, by Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz and David Curiel. It opens at an auction (Brevoort’s!). Gambit is in the basement, planning on stealing a painting, and Rogue comes in to confront him. She asks if he was recently in Bagalia, but of course, he wasn’t. He flirts a little, because Gambit flirting with Rogue is a universal constant, and then asks if her Avengers team needs help. Rogue points out he’s pitching himself as an Avenger during a heist. He also says that once they find the Red Skull, she should call in the X-Men. Which is a good idea, actually – there’s a fair number of telepaths, most of the team has some degree of telepathic shielding, and they all want to kick the Skull right in his junk. Then she goes off and encounters Hank Pym, back from outer space. Yay for Hank Pym, but I’m running an X-Men blog, so that’s where I’m leaving off this review. The Rogue/Gambit scene was really nice. It was fun, and got their chemistry really well. The playfulness mixed with sincere appreciation. Duggan did a good job with them here.
That’s the X-Men and vaguely-X-affiliated stuff. A couple more comics I should talk about, though.
Power Man & Iron Fist #4, by David Walker, Sanford Greene and Lee Loughridge. We learn how Jennie and Mariah met in prison, in the prison library, and became friends. It’s sweet. It really is. It’s genuinely touching, and their friendship is easily the best part of this comic. So the comic splits between them and prison, and the fight in the present, with Mariah trying to talk Jennie down. The fight includes a Fistball Special. And Mariah calls Iron Fist “Chakra Kong,” “Kung Fu Grip,” “Hong Kong Phooey” and “Kung Fu Hustle.” These names are all on one page. Mariah’s a lot of fun. And this issue . . . guys, can we get a Jennie/Mariah comic? Just, like, the two of them being awesome friends? Can we have that? Because I think we need a little Jennie/Mariah friendship in our lives. I loved this issue. I like stories where the Magic Of Friendship wins the day. That is something I appreciate. So I love that Walker did it.
Silver Surfer #4, by Dan Slott, and Michael and Laura Allred. It’s a big battle, the Avengers vs. the Zenn-Lavians, for the life of the Silver Surfer. And it turns out that poor, blind, helpless Alicia knows how to kick ass. She’s actually an adept staff fighter. That’s amazing. The issue is, as usual, amazing. Not much room for fun, but there’s a lot of feels. Like, a lot of them. Slott and the Allreds do such an amazing job here, and they end on a really sweet note. Not gonna lie, it made me tear up. Silver Surfer is such an amazing book and you really should read it.
Civil War #0, by Brian Bendis, Olivier Coipel and Justin Ponsor. She-Hulk is presenting closing arguments in a case defending Jonathan Powers, the Jester. He’s on trial for talking to what he believed to be former acquaintances, in what turned out to be an entrapment scheme from federal agents. He’s on trial, not for something he did, but for something he may have done in the future. Bendis actually does a good job, laying out up-front, why that’s not a good policy. Meanwhile, in Latveria, War Machine is telling some rebels to stand down. Later, the president asks him to become the new Secretary of Defence. I think this scene would work a lot better if it didn’t happen less than a year before the president will be leaving office. The president also wants to start grooming Rhodey for an eventual White House run of his own. At Ohio State University, a kid named Ulysses tries asking out a cute girl, but then the Terrigen cloud shows up, and both Ulysses and the cute girl are affected. Then to the Triskelion, where Captain Marvel asks if Alpha Flight stopped an alien invasion. Turned out to be a bunch of drunk partying Shi’ar looking for “primitive love.” OK, yeah, that’s pretty great. I actually want to read that comic now. I want to read the issue where Alpha Flight finds a bunch of drunk Shi’ar and decide to join in the party. Anyway, Carol then goes to talk to Doc Samson. See, some might complain about Bendis bringing Samson back from the dead without an explanation. I would point out that it’s Marvel, and people come back from the dead all the time. “I got better” really is all the explanation needed at this point. Carol explains what the Ultimates are all about, comparing them to her cousin, a mother whose kids are always trying to kill each other. Carol says it’s accidents, but I know better. Kids are evil little bastards. Regardless, the mother spends all her time in some sort of panic, and Carol thinks it’s a lot like the lives superheroes lead. So the Ultimates are there to try to prevent the disasters, when possible. This is actually a really strong start to the event. But Bendis was always great at starting events. He usually lost steam in the middle, and fizzled to the finish. But this first issue is great stuff. He lays out the complicated questions at play – Jennifer advocating for second chances and for not punishing people for crimes they haven’t committed, while Carol talks about the need to have some way of keeping disasters from killing everyone. And he also lays the foundations of the plot, with Ulysses going through Terrigenesis. The idea of Rhodey going into politics is pretty interesting. Though the superhero who should be going into politics is Kitty Pryde. But yeah, I can definitely see Rhodey as Secretary of Defence. So yeah, this is a cool opening issue. And the art! OK, it’s Olivier Coipel, he doesn’t know how to draw poorly. He’s amazing. He’s so damned amazing. It’s gorgeous art. I love it. I also love how he draws women, because they’re not sexualized at all. They’re attractive, certainly, but they’re not sexualized. They don’t do weird poses, they don’t have their cleavage sticking out. Compare him to someone like Mike Deodato, whose women always have to have a cocked hip, or be showing their ass, or have their tits hanging out. In the scene where Carol and Samson are talking, Carol opens her suit a bit. But where a Deodato probably would’ve had her zip it down to her cleavage, Coipel just has her loosen the collar. It’s immensely effective at conveying the sense of someone who’s tense and trying to relax by letting down the professional air, but it’s effective because it’s small. And beyond that, he does strong facial expressions, and fantastic settings. Coipel is fantastic. So, yeah, good issue. But we’ll see how the event goes. We already know we’ll have the sheer nonsense of Thanos with a big gun.