Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m skipping work today, because I don’t feel well. Bleh. I can’t afford to take days off, but there’s no way I’d be able to stand for any extended period of time. I’m having trouble with just existing for an extended period of time. Anyway, this issue is very important, as it’s all downhill from here. By Claremont, John Buscema, Williamson, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Sword Quest.”
So, yeah, this is the debut of Wolverine’s ongoing series. I just want to make clear what’s going on here. In one month, he’s in four separate series. He was in the two issues of UXM from this month. He was in the Meltdown mini with Havok. He was still in his own feature in Marvel Comics Presents. And he was in his own solo title. Four series. This is very much the beginning of Wolverine’s omnipresence. The guy would end up being everywhere. And November 1988 was the month where that began. But, on to this comic!
A pilot is being held by some pirates, who we can tell are bad guys because the narration says that they rape women they capture. The pirate leader beheads the pilot, then he and his men get to work on the women. Logan arrives on the island, and gets to work doing what he does best. Taking out guards, sneaking through the camp, killing a guy who’s about to kill a woman. He heads to another hut, where he finds a friend, who’s almost dead. The pirate leader and his cronies show up. And we get our first full glimpse of Logan in this issue.
Logan figures on around 100 pirates, as he tears into them. He gets shot by an Uzi, but it just makes him mad. Which, I don’t know. Even bullet wounds used to at least slow him down, but even now, his healing factor has gotten a lot stronger than it used to be. As he fights, we learn a little about why he’s there. The guy he was there for, Nobura Kojima, is Mariko’s personal secretary.
Eventually, Wolverine’s killed all the pirates, except for the leader. He takes a woman as a hostage, and gets onto a boat to escape. But a stewardess had snuck onto the boat, in hiding, with a gun. Go, stewardess lady. Pretty badass. Logan goes back to Kojima, and learns the pirates were hired by the Cult of the Black Blade, who are looking for the Muramasa Sword. Couriers from America are bringing it to Madripoor. He doesn’t get the names.
So Logan heads to the Madripoor airport to stalk the airport, waiting for the couriers. And who should arrive? Lindsay McCabe! Jessica Drew’s actress friend/roommate/subtextual lover! The X-Men lived with Lindsay and Jessica during their brief stay in San Francisco, around UXM #206. Yay for her return! I like Lindsay. She’s a really fun character. One of those characters who’s always cheerful and always enjoying herself and getting everyone around her to enjoy themselves. She’s great. Anyway, Logan follows her back to her Hightown hotel, where she’s harassed by some people: Two guys and a girl. They demand to know where the sword is. Logan busts in to kick their asses, while noting they’re professionals, not some local thugs. He figures they belong to the Cult. The fight leads to the easy high point of the issue:
“I have the lamp!” That is amazing. I love Lindsay so much! There’s also this moment right after:
And then we find out that Jessica is on her way to meet someone she thinks is Kojima, with the sword. Dun-dun-duuuun!
This is pretty good. There’s some nice “Wolverine being a badass” stuff in the fight with the pirates, for the people who enjoy that stuff. For my part, I tend to not be overly interested in “badass Wolverine” stuff, but I know a lot of people eat it up. So, those people should enjoy the pirate fight. I will say that the whole thing feels to me like a precursor of the ’90s obsession with gritty anti-heroes. Because as he’s killing the pirates, he talks about giving what he’s given – “Come at me with a sword. I’ll meet you with a sword. You want mercy. Show a little first.” It’s the whole “do unto others as they do unto you” mindset of ’90s comics. The focus on vengeance over justice. It’s something I’m not a fan of. I don’t think I was ever really a fan of that stuff. I always preferred my superheroes aspirational, rather than being the violent revenge fantasies of the likes of Wolverine and the Punisher.
Regardless! The issue does become far more enjoyable for me once Lindsay shows up. Because Lindsay’s great. I love her. Everyone loves Lindsay McCabe. She’s the best. She’s actually a really good choice of supporting character for Wolverine, too – someone who’s bright and cheerful and talkative, to play off his sullen grumpiness. It’s a fun contrast, and gets better.
The art isn’t really a style that appeals to me. John Buscema was getting pretty up there in age. He was 60 when this came out. I don’t know if it’s that, or if he was just changing his style to match the times, or what, but his work in this period doesn’t appeal to me as much as his earlier work. It’s also possible that Williamson’s inks just didn’t work with Buscema’s lines – I don’t know much about art, I’ll admit. Though I checked another comic around that time that he inked himself, and another inked by Bill Sienkewicz, and, yeah. My problem is with Buscema’s lines. Especially his faces. He draws faces in a weird way that I don’t like. It is personal taste, though.
So, on the whole, this is a well-done issue, but one I have reservations about.
N’astirh’s demons return to the mausoleum he’s using as a base, in time to catch the very end of his conversation with Hodge from X-Factor #34 – neat little crossover there! Of course, Weezie’s writing both books, so it’s easy. Anyway, I like this panel of N’astirh:
Then he yells at the demons for screwing up in their mission, since Leech and Artie are too big to be babies. He’s kinda mean to them, honestly, but he’s also awesome about it so it’s fine.
Artie sends off a psychic projection to get some attention, and it’s seen by the X-Terminators. Rusty says they need to find a phone so they can call X-Factor to take care of it. N’astirh sends the demons back out to find Infants of Power, while he prepares to contact the Goblin Queen, as seen in UXM #238, though we don’t see that conversation. He also complains about how long it takes to do magic on Earth, and mutters to himself that he’d feed both Artie and Leech to any demon who brought him a solution. The X-Terminators land outside a gas station to use the payphone. First, they need quarters, so Rusty gets Rictor to get some from the soda machine.
You get no points for guessing what happens next.
Boom-Boom really is the best. She has absolutely no impulse control and it’s fun. By the way, the reaction panel delights me to no end:
They yell at Boom-Boom for blowing up the soda machine, pointing out it was awful on so many levels, but luckily, Taki fixes it. Rusty tries calling New York, but can’t get through – he says it sounds like the phone lines are laughing at him. As they fly towards New York, we learn that Boom-Boom would make one hell of a food saleswoman.
Then we cut to Montebello, New York. A woman leaves her baby in his crib, and goes down for coffee with her husband, who talks about the heat wave in New York, and the weird stories he keeps hearing. They talk about the financial problems they’re having. It’s . . . really good drama, honestly. Like, I want to know more about this couple. Then the demons come and take their baby. And might kill the husband, too – one bites into his neck, and it looks gruesome. The domestic drama before the theft makes the whole thing even creepier. Also, the wife seems to have killed one of the demons. That’s pretty awesome. She should have gotten a comic. A woman whose life was torn apart by demons, on a quest for revenge against the supernatural. It could have been cool. But alas, Helen is never heard from again,s far as I know.
The X-Terminators land in a small village, to get some clothes. They actually stop Boom-Boom from blowing up the skylight. Hey, they’re learning. Boom-Boom insists they shop properly so they can look good. And they actually don’t look too bad.
Taki says he’ll pay for the clothes out of his trust fund. It turns out he’s rich. How rich? “Mitshbishi,” which I’m assuming is a reference to Mitsubishi, the famous group of Japanese companies. So, yeah, rich. Boom-Boom asks about his skill with computers, given he’s at a school for kids with reading problems, but he says his problem is with writing, and that his computer helps. It even has a spell checker! That gets the attention of the demon, Crotus, who’s outside. He heard N’astirh’s earlier complaints, and he gets an idea.
The X-Terminators get to new York, which has sweltering heat, screwed up traffic lights, ridiculous amounts of garbage, and the pay phone they find to try to call X-Factor is being a jerk. And it makes a face at Taki. Elsewhere in the city, a kid is watching his baby brother, but goes to join his friends in Laser Tag. The baby gets stolen by a demon. Crotus goes to talk to another group of demons, and gets their help grabbing Taki. The X-Terminators had spent the issue dismissing Taki’s claims of demons, but now they believe him. And one final awesome image of N’astirh.
So, this issue. This is great. This is probably my favourite issue of the mini. There’s some great humour, some great drama, and some effective tension. Simonson moves the story along at a smooth pace, and gives the characters good voices. Boom-Boom is, obviously, the best. But I actually like Responsible Rusty. It works well here. Skids slips into the background a bit, which is unfortunate, but not a big deal. We learn a little more about Taki, and he’s very likable here. He doesn’t have the chip on his shoulder. And it’s sad, the way the others don’t take him seriously. He wants to be accepted, to be part of the team, but he feels isolated, and it’s sad.
But I think the real star of this issue is Bogdanove (along with Milgrom and Wellington). You can probably tell by how many images I posted how much I enjoyed the look of the issue. The art team knocks it out of the park. A lot of it comes down to the body language and facial expressions. There’s a lot of depth to that stuff, and it makes the whole thing feel more real, even with the cartoony style. There’s also some really cute moments. And the cartoony style makes the darker stuff more effective. There’s nothing creepier than a bright style going suddenly dark. The contrast works beautifully, and this issue shows that really well. So the issue looks great, and does a lot to sell the writing, which is already good on its own.
So, yeah, this issue’s great. I love it.
Logan and Jessan are on a boat, having a fun time sailing. She tells him that when the Reavers captured her, before the X-Men rescued her, Prettyboy managed to partially rewrite her mind to remove her morality and scruples. When Roma sent Jessan home, it was to a bunch of dead bodies. The Hoan Bank closed, and Jessan, because she was the lone survivor among the bank’s officials, was ostracized by her family. Damn. She didn’t particularly care. She went to find work elsewhere, but no one would hire her. She tried to find out why, by breaking into an office building and hacking into the computers. She was found by security guards, and she beat them up. Turns out Prettyboy’s reprogramming had given her new skills, and even affected her body. She did learn that another bank had hired Roche to take out her bank, and Roche hired the Reavers. So, to Madripoor! And to Lowtown, which she found she quite liked. She attacked a group of Roche’s men, and told them to let everyone know that she was taking over, and she took the name Tyger.
With her history done, Tyger tells Logan he owes her his life, and she needs him to help her take out Roche. They get back to a larger boat, belonging to a smuggler in her service. Everyone on board’s been slaughtered by Razorfist. Tyger opens a door, and a bomb goes off.
This is an OK installment. It’s all about learning how Jessan Hoan became the Tyger. It’s interesting stuff. Though there is a weird removal of agency. She didn’t earn any of her skills, they were implanted. Even her personality was forced on her. There’s something weird and uncomfortable about that. She’s choosing what to do with what was forced on her, sure, but the point is that all this stuff was forced on her. She is who she is because some guy made her that way. It’s done to justify how she went from being a banker to an aspiring crime-lord in a matter of months, but still. Eh.
And by the same team, Chapter 7: “Things Get Worse.”
Logan and Tyger are alive. Logan dove off the boat with her, and swam with her to the side of another junk. They swim back to shore, where Tyger says that, since he’s saved her life, the debt is repaid and they’re even, so he’s free to go. But Logan says he’s staying, to put Roche out of business. And if Tyger proves herself the same as Roche, he’ll take her out, too. Nice, Logan, real nice.
Some of Roche’s thugs are attacking a brothel connected with Tyger. Logan and Tyger arrive in time to kill them. LOgan keeps the leader alive, and threatens to turn him over to the ladies if he doesn’t talk. The guy says Roche is going to kill O’Donnell, believing him to be the Tyger. The actual Tyger corrects him. And kills him.
This is OK. Not a whole lot of plot development. Honestly, this is where the 8-pages chapters start to drag the thing down. As part of a larger issue, these pages would be fine. The swim back to shore and discussion of what comes next, and then moving the plot along. But here, because of the space constraints, the chapter cuts off right as the story is about to get moved along. This chapter would be fine as the start of an issue, but as a chapter of its own? It feels lacking.
I may as well mention that the art in both chapters is fine. Nothing special, either way, really. Totally forgettable. Really didn’t impress me at all.
So, yeah, today’s chapters: Meh. Whatever.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I got a new watch today, because my old one broke down. My trade of Pretty Deadly Vol. 2 also came in! I’ll need to post a review of it on Goodreads soon. Anyway, here’s comics.
Uncanny X-Men #13, by Cullen Bunn, Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Dave Curiel. Psylocke, Monet, Sabretooth and Black Tom are fighting for their lives. Mystique sneakily captures one of the Sleepers, with Archangel’s assistance. Psylocke, Tom and Monet are surrounded and about to be killed, then the Sleepers all fade away. The team investigates the facility, and finds stasis pods with dead bodies. They go back to the Hellfire Club to report what they found, and they check on the guy Mystique grabbed. Psylocke goes into his head, and he’s got a sad history, but then she comes across a psychic landmine to keep her out. And another bad guy enters the field. I won’t spoil who it is. Except to note that it’s a powerful psychic and it’s not Emma Frost. This issue is OK. There’s some nice plot developments, and Psylocke’s handled well. I suppose I noticed Land a little less than usual here, so that’s a good thing. He still sucks, but whatever. This is good. It’s fine. It’s just still not really much appealing to me, personally. That’s not a knock against the book. It’s just personal taste.
Extraordinary X-Men Annual. The first story is by Ollie Masters, Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong and Israel Silva (with Rachelle Rosenberg). Storm is talking to a couple guys from the British government, about two imprisoned mutants in danger from the Terrigen mist. The British government doesn’t recognize the mist as dangerous to mutants, so refuses to move the two in danger. The mutants are Ramrod and Ruckus. Nasty Boys! Nice! Storm tells Jean to move to Plan B, which involves breaking into the prison. Jean, Nightcrawler, Illyana, Logan and Forge. It’s a crazy plan: Forge will put the cameras on a loop. Nightcrawler will teleport out, and once he’s found the two he’s looking for, Forge will shut off the power dampers long enough for Nightcrawler to teleport out with them. Jean will be outside, making sure no one in the prison sees him. So Nightcrawler and Logan go in . . . during a riot. Kurt gets hit by a stray punch, and momentarily knocked unconscious. Logan carries him and finds Ruckus in his cell, but Ramrod’s on the other side of the prison. It’s a really fun story. It’s very much a Murphy’s Law thing, where everything goes wrong. That’s always entertaining. Also entertaining is Logan getting increasingly annoyed by it all. There’s also a great moment from Illyana cheerfully smashing a wall. The art is good. Barberi’s a very good artist. It’s a good story.
The second story is by Brandon Montclare, Rosi Kampe and Ian Herring. Forge and Lunella are trying to build a rocket. The Moon Rocket, or the USS Girl Power. Forge is impressed with the research Lunella’s done on Terrigen, which she posted online (on Reddit, apparently). She wants to go to the Blue Area of the moon to check out the Kree ruins up there. He offers to use a Blackbird modified for spaceflight, but she wants to do it her own way. Forge assumes the Terrigen made her a genius, but she says she was always smart. He’s the second person to assume her intelligence is a power, instead of being who she is. He does tell her the rocket is still too dangerous to use. The Terrigen mist shows up, and Lunella sees only one way to get Forge away from it in time: The Moon Rocket! This is a really nice story. It’s really cute and sweet. Lunella and Forge have a fun chemistry. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing them interact more often. The story’s cute, and the art is cute, and it’s just really nice. It’s a nice Moon Girl story, with Forge thrown in. I like that. The X-Men needs more positive stories like this.
Civil War II X-Men #4, by Cullen Bunn, Andrea Broccardo and Jesus Aburtov. Magneto and Rachel are assaulting New Attilan, to find Ulysses. Rachel insists that no one dies. She also mentions that none of the Inhumans hate mutants. Meanwhile, the X-Men are fighting the X-Men. Storm and Archangel take each other out, so Nightcrawler and Psylocke save them. Logan and Sabretooth continue trying to kill each other. Gambit and Fantomex face off. Illyana summons something with tentacles to keep Monet busy. Then back to New Attilan, for a conversation between Magneto and Ulysses. This is OK, again. It ends with everything pretty much back to normal, with nothing having changed. Which is fine, I suppose, but it does feel like a bit of a waste of time, in the end. There was some interesting fighting, at least, but that’s about it. In the end, meh. Whatever.
All-New Wolverine #12, by Tom Taylor, Ig Guara, Walden Wong and Michael Garland. Captain Steve knocks out Logan, while Laura tries to wake Gabby up after Gabby got stabbed by Logan. Logan slips into the sewers, and Laura goes after him (after telling off Steve for attacking Logan in the first place).
While they fight below, up above, Steve covers Gabby with a sheet. Then she wakes up, scaring the crap out of a medic. Whew! She’s alive! She has a healing factor! I am so relieved. She stops Laura from killing Logan, then Laura yells at Logan instead. Aw, she doesn’t like him any more. Oh well. This was really good. Laura’s reaction when she thinks Gabby’s dead is really good. And her reaction when she sees Gabby’s alive is wonderful. The fight between Laura and Logan is really cool, with Laura very clearly outclassing Logan. Which is neat. The art is really good. Nice flow in the action scenes, and it hits the emotional beats really well. It also hits the very few comedic beats really well – the main one is the medic’s reaction when Gabby sits up. So, yeah, this is great. There’s a hug!
Also, Gabby manages to be scarier than Logan:
I love that little interaction. Logan’s trying to be all tough and scary, and Gabby turns it right back on him, but ups the ante. Gabby is THE FRIGGING BEST.
Deadpool v. Gambit #5, by Bens Acker and Blacker, Danilo Beyruth and Cris Peter. Deadpool, who’s now an Iron Fist, racks down Chalmers and does a martial arts fight with him. The fight is ended when Gambit shows up, having been unable to find Scrambler to get unscrambled. Deadpool learns that Chalmers hid the Dragon Tongue in a tree, so Deadpool and Gambit go to find the tree. Which is Yggdrasil. Odin sends the Warriors Three to check why someone from K’un-Lun is going to the World Tree. They go to K’un-Lun to talk to Fat Cobra and explain the dangers if the tree is messed with. Then Scrambler shows up, and Gambit throws Deadpool at him, and their powers go back to normal. This is . . . so goddamn weird. It’s funny. But so goddamn weird. There’s all sorts of weird stuff going on. It turns out Loki wanted to precipitate a war between Asgard and K’un Lun, so that one of those worlds would be destroyed and he could lease land he owned in Florida. So all this batshit insanity was about a real estate scheme. How? Regardless, it’s a fun conclusion to a fun mini. This was a lot better than it had any right to be. If you’re wondering whether to check it out, I’d say do it. I would recommend Deadpool v Gambit, which is a statement I never expected to say.
That’s the X-Men comics, but there’s other things worth talking about.
Civil War II #5, by Brian Bendis, David Marquez and Justin Ponsor. Superhero fight! Blah blah blah, Dr. Strange tries the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak on the X-Men, which goes about as well as you’d expect against the people who routinely fight Cyttorak’s avatar. Storm fries them. Luke Cage is there, which is a shame, since his own series has him decide to sit the whole thing out. And also has Captain Marvel leading a team to fight him. Illyana takes Captain Samerica out of the fight, by teleporting him to Hollywood. Then she gets hit in the head with an arrow. Might as well also mention that Kitty messes up Vision. Other than that, this really is just a big, issue-long fight scene. There’s a little bit of debating in it, too, but mostly, it’s about the fighting. Which means this is an issue that lives or dies by the art. Luckily, Marquez and Ponsor do a solid job. The fighting is done fairly well. It’s exciting stuff. There’s a sense of disorder and anarchy. So, yeah, it’s good for what it is. Unfortunately, “what it is” is also more expensive than it’s worth. This issue is very much skippable, even more than the rest of the event. The last few pages add a new twist, but that’ll be detailed plenty in the next issue when it comes out, what, sometime next year? What with the delays. (Jokes aside, the delays are largely the result of Marquez having a child, and you know what? That is absolutely a good excuse for delays, and congratulations to him, and I won’t even make any more jokes about delays.)
Vision #1, by Tom King, Gabriel Walta and Jordie Bellaire. Virginia tells Viv that Vision is on his way to kill Victor Mancha, and that no matter what happens, odds are good Virginia and Viv will be turned off. It’s a really sad scene. Then we cut to Vision, facing down a group of Avengers. He says he’s there to kill Victor. And then there’s a fight. Back home, Virginia tells Viv how CK, the boy she crushed on, died. Viv doesn’t take it well. And then, back to Vision doing what the narration notes he was created to do: Destroying the Avengers. And back home, Virginia’s breakdown reaches a point of absolute horror and tragedy. An, uh . . . man. Guys. This comic, guys. This is rough. I knew shit was going to get bad for Virginia. I did not expect this issue. At all. This was . . . this was something. This was one hell of an issue, and I am terrified for the finale. Because there’s no happy ending here. Any possibility of a happy ending has been brutally, ruthlessly crushed. The fight between Vision and the Avengers was amazing. Vision was designed to kick their asses. That’s what he was meant to do. And here, he lives up to that design perfectly. It’s one hell of a team he goes up against: Iron Man, Thor, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, two Spider-Men, Beast, Medusa, Crystal, Black Panther, Blue Marvel, Monica Rambeau, Ms. America, Ms. Marvel, Nova, Captain Samerica. That is a monster line-up. And Vision wins. You could argue that he shouldn’t be able to beat that line-up. But you would be wrong to do so, because this makes for a fantastic story and that’s what matters. King and Walta do a great job selling it. The art is excellent. Walta and Bellaire work really well together. This series has been incredible, and I am so excited to see how it ends, even though it may destroy me.
Power Man & Iron Fist #8, by David Walker, Flaviano, Sanford Greene and John Rauch. Luke visits Danny in prison, and Danny explains why he’s still in there. He’s still looking into those people they were hired to help. The former criminals who were assaulted. While Luke tries to find the jerks, Danny talks to people in the prison, who were assaulted despite doing nothing wrong. One guy – black, naturally – was on a date with a white girl and got attacked, even though he’s never committed a crime.
Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #10, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson. Patsy wakes up in Hell. Which turns into Centerville. So, still Hell. Back in the real world, Jubilee convinces Mad Dog and Daimon that Hedy lied to them both. And she calls Daimon “emo phase,” because Jubilee is great. Inside, Sharon, Tom and Ian wonder if they should go out to see what’s going on. Also, Tom and Ian smooch! Yay! About time, you guys! Jubilee threatens to bite Daimon if he doesn’t bring Patsy back, but he can’t do it. He’s sent her to the realm of Belial, and only Belial can bring her back. Belial is trying to manipulate her, showing her her life, and trying to convince her that he could give her power. She manages to get him to return her to Earth, mostly by refusing to even consider making any deals until he does. Then Daimon says it was all a mistake, and even Belial thinks it was extreme of Daimon to send her to hell without actually confirming if she was planning trouble. This is great. It’s really cool, seeing the exploration of Patsy’s history, and her life. Belial talks about how she should feel angry and want revenge. Patsy doesn’t really try to argue with him, mostly because I think she doesn’t care enough. She just wants to get home. Jubilee is awesome, as usual. The art is really cute. It’s fun, as it always is. Williams and Wilson do really good work together. The fact that it’s so cute actually adds a lot to more dramatic panels. There’s a couple panels in particular that really stand out for that. So, yeah, I loved this.
The Wicked + The Divine 1871, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. It starts in Rome, with Ananke about to kill a delirious Hades. In Geneva, Inanna and Lucifer banter a little, then Ananke shows up. Lucifer goes to talk to her, and they clearly have something planned, but Inanna chooses not to push it. Later, she goes to meet Woden and Morrigan. The four of them start telling horror stories. The inspiration for this issue is pretty clear. Inanna’s story is pretty bland, about her becoming a god. Then Woden tells a heartbreaking story. Hint: “One day, you, you have a corpse in a crib.” Lucifer tells them Hades is dead, but that he and Morrigan have a plan: They’re going to attempt to revive Hades. It, uh . . . it could have gone better. This issue . . . man. This is so good. Gillen’s writing is excellent, full of clever wordplay, and full of tragedy and hate and love and all that. And the art. Stephanie Hans, guys. Stephanie Hans. So gorgeous. This issue’s beautiful, even by her standards. She really sells the anger, the love, the horror, the tragedy, all of it. It’s so pretty.
I’ll go to the store for: All-New Wolverine #12, by Tom Taylor, Ig Guara, Walden Wong and Michael Garland; Jem & the Holograms #19, by Kelly Thompson and Meredith McClaren; My Little Pony Friends Forever #32, by Ted Anderson and Jay Fosgitt; Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #10, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson; Power Man & Iron Fist #8, by David Walker, Flaviano, Sanford Greene and John Rauch; Vision #1, by Tom King, Gabriel Walta and Jordie Bellaire; The Wicked + The Divine 1831, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans.
I’ll also review: Civil War II #5, by Brian Bendis, David Marquez; Civil War II X-Men #4, by Cullen Bunn, Andrea Broccardo and Jesus Aburtov; Deadpool vs. Gambit #5, by Bens Acker and Blacker, Danilo Beyruth and Cris Peter; Extraordinary X-Men Annual, by Ollie Masters, Brandon Montclare, Carlo Barberi, Rosi Kampe, Walden Wong, Ian Herring, Israel Silva and Rachelle Rosenberg; Uncanny X-Men #13, by Cullen Bunn, Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Dave Curiel.
So that’s . . . hahaha, nooo. That’s 7 comics I’m picking up, and an additional 5 reviews. Oh, jeez, this week feels really heavy.
A lot of good comics, though. Vision! If you’re not reading that series, you’re wrong. Go get the first trade. This is the penultimate issue, which means it’s likely to be really intense. The series as a whole has been intense, though, so that’s no surprise. We’ve got Meredith McClaren taking over the art on Jem! Yay! McClaren is one of my absolute favourite artists. I love Sophie Campbell, don’t get me wrong. I’ll miss her on Jem. But McClaren! Her style is equally suited for cuteness and drama. It can be the adorablest thing ever, or the heaviest. She’s already worked with Kelly Thompson – Heart In A Box is brilliant and I highly recommend it – so I’m really excited for this. WicDiv 1831 is about the Pantheon from that period. And it’s drawn by Stephanie Hans. Stephanie Hans is AMAZING. Another of my all-time favourites. Such gorgeous art. So that’ll be great. Hellcat is always a delight. Always fun. And now she’s battling her Evil Exes, so that’s great. PM&IF has been great, lots of fun earlier, but this current arc is hitting the drama hard, and it’s been really good so far. And Wolverine is great, and this issue is another that looks like it’ll hit really hard. I’m really, really hoping Gabby will be OK, because Gabby is just The Best and I love her.
So Agents of SHIELD is back tonight. With Robbie Reyes! Yay! The best Ghost Rider! No, really, he’s the best Ghost Rider. Johnny Blaze was dated when he debuted, an attempt to cash-in on the bike stunt fad of Evil Knievel. He was also so overwhelmingly lacking in common sense that he thought making a deal with the devil was a totally reasonable idea. That’s a premise that he been stupid for over a hundred years. It worked for Dr. Faustus. After that, any protagonist who made a deal with the devil was too stupid to deserve to be a protagonist. Let the jackass rot in Hell, it’s what he deserves for being such a complete frigging moron.
Dan Ketch was better, because he didn’t make a deal. He was being hunted by ninjas and his sister was dying and he saw something glowing so he checked it out. That’s fine. And that version of Ghost Rider was awesome. Very ’90s, in the best possible way, and so cool. But Ketch himself had the personality of drywall. Ketch was a boring character. And ideally, with characters who have dual identities, both identities should be about equally interesting. Dan Ketch was just someone who moped around between Ghost Rider sequences.
Robbie Reyes, though. He’s awesome. He’s a genuinely compelling character, as a broke Latino trying to get out of the ghetto and make a better life for himself and his disabled brother. He’s a smart, dedicated kid, but he’s got a lot of frustration. He’s got some anger issues, and when he becomes the Ghost Rider, he lets out some of that frustration. But he’s always trying to keep his anger in check. He’s not really fighting some external force, he’s fighting his own sense of anger. Yes, he does have Eli in his head, goading him on, urging him to give into his anger and kill people. But that’s the point: Eli is trying to get Robbie to give into his own anger. That’s way more interesting than it being an external force he always has to push back against.
Robbie Reyes is the best Ghost Rider. So it’ll be cool to see him on Agents of SHIELD. Though I’m more excited for his new comic.
Speaking of new comics: She-Hulk! She-Hulk is getting another solo, though this time, it’ll be titled just Hulk. Jennifer Walters is going to go by Hulk, and apparently, she’s going to be angry. Which makes sense – she’s been through a lot lately. She’s grieving and she’s angry. It’s a rough patch, and it’ll be cool to see that. But what’s really got me excited is that it’ll be written by Mariko Tamaki. (Line art by Nico Leon.) I read This One Summer, written by Tamaki, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a great book. So I’m excited to see her take on Jen. It’s going to be great.
December solicits hit today, but I didn’t have time to look at them. So I’ll talk about them next week.
My schedule for the week: 4-10:45 Friday, 3:45-11 Sunday, 10:15-5 Tuesday. So posts Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Whew, I get to actually do something this week.
And that’s all I’ve got.
All-New X-Men #13, by Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Nolan Woodard. Idie and Evan are taking Bobby to a club so he can learn to flirt. Bobby says he’s not good at that, and remembers a blind date he went on where a girl called him a poop tornado. In the club, Bobby’s first attempt to strike a conversation goes . . . less than well. “I like turtles.” He continues to do poorly, so Evan brings him onto the dance floor, and then kinda forgets why he brought Bobby onto the dance floor and just starts stealing the floor. Bobby gets miserable and wanders over to the bar, where a guy starts talking to him about straight friends being annoying. Idie and Evan have a quick conversation about the last arc. Bobby’s conversation with the cute guy is going well, which causes Bobby to panic, ice up and run out, where he crashes into another cute guy. Who tells his own embarrassing story to cheer Bobby up, then rushes off to find a friend who’s in trouble. The friend is a monster who starts rampaging. This issue’s good. It’s fun stuff. It’s nice seeing Bobby’s sexuality get explored, and it’s also nice that he’s terrible at flirting with guys. Idie and Evan are fun wingmen. There’s some fairly nice Inhuman stuff in the issue, too. But mostly, this is about Bobby dealing with being gay. Something that does deserve more focus. I don’t understand why Marvel hasn’t announced an Iceman solo, to be honest. Seems like a logical thing to do. His coming out got a lot of press, a solo would make sense. But, of course, that would mean doing a solo title with an openly LGBT lead, and Marvel’s weirdly reluctant to do that. As far as the art goes, it’s Bagley. So it looks great. Lots of cute boys. Lots of nice clothes, too. Idie’s dress looks great. I also really like Idie’s hair. You can never go wrong with Mark Bagley art, and if anyone says otherwise, you punch them right in their dirty lying mouth. Hennessy does a fantastic job on the inks, and Woodard’s colours are great. This is a great-looking comic. And a very fun issue.
Old Man Logan #11, by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo. Logan is facing down a whole lot of ninjas, and knows he can’t win by himself, so he frees Deathstrike. In the future, Logan and Maureen meet the leader of the Silent Order, and he pops his claws. Back in the present, Deathstrike is keeping count of her kills, because she’s that kind of person. Then Sohei cuts her open. Poor Deathstrike. So ill-used in this series. Anyway, Sohei and Logan fight through an awesome layout. There’s not a lot of story in this issue. But there is some pretty great action, and gorgeous art. The writing slips a little, but Sorrentino and Maiolo are still absolutely killing it with the art. Lots of cool, clever layouts, and some stunning panels. As always, the art is the real draw of the book, because it really is spectacular.
Deadpool #18, by Gerry Duggan, Mike Hawthorne, Brian Level, Terry Pallot, Jordie Bellaire and Rachelle Rosenberg. It opens with Deadpool and Shiklah arguing about her sleeping around. Shiklah’s definitely pansexual, as she mentions men, women, a demon and a tentacle monster. So then, they fight. Once she’s finished kicking his ass, she invites him back to bed. He declines, but she says it’s never the end. He feels sorry for himself and returns to the Unity Squad HQ that Ultron trashed. He finds Rogue collecting some things – she mentions that X-Men and Avengers get used to picking through rubble for their stuff. It’s true. The X-Mansion gets destroyed constantly, and so did Avengers Mansion before they moved into a tower . . . that also got wrecked regularly. He takes her to see Ellie (through a sniper scope), which is sweet. The stuff between Deadpool and Rogue is actually really good. I enjoyed their interactions here. They have some nice banter, and a bit of an easy camaraderie. It’s nice to see. But, once again, the comic isn’t funny enough. There needs to be more jokes. Self-deprecating humour, given Deadpool’s mood, but humour nonetheless. Duggan’s run is just too lacking in jokes. There were some during the fight with Shiklah, but they were pretty weak. We’ll see if this is the end of that marriage. The 2099 issues have hinted at Bad Things between them. I suppose it is nice that Shiklah is pansexual, at least.
Uncanny Avengers #14, by Gerry Duggan, Ryan Stegman and Richard Isanove. Rogue, Cable, Shaw and Toad attack a US Army base that was experimenting with Terrigen gas, and steal their research. Captain Steverica catches them in the act, and says they’ll face justice. So Cable shoots Shaw, to power him up, and the fight starts. Rogue initially stays out of it, but once Cable has Steve down, Rogue calls an end to the fight. She keeps Steve held down while Cable, Shaw and Toad escape. Cap says the mutants are off the team, and also kicks Deadpool off the team for lying about not knowing where the mutants were. He declares an end to the Unity Squad. The stuff with the mutants looking for a Terrigen cure is fairly interesting. This still isn’t a series I particularly care about, though.
And I may as well mention that Frenzy was in All-New Inhumans #11. A group of mutants are on a raft in the middle of the Mediterranean, with a Terrigen cloud getting closer. Frenzy shows up in with a small plane to save as many as she can, but her plane’s not big enough. Luckily, Crystal and her ship arrive to take them all to safety. Yay Frenzy! She says the Inhumans need to deal with the cloud, or mutants will keep dying. It’s cool. I like Frenzy, and I like seeing her still being heroic.
That’s the X-titled (and related stuff), but here’s other comics.
Black Panther #6, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story and Laura Martin. It opens with a briefing on the rising turmoil in Wakanda. T’Challa notes that the rebels want democracy, and wishes he could sympathize with them. He does approve a strike against them, though. But the Midnight Angels and their army are ready. With an epic speech: “We have seen how the woman becomes the enslaved. Let us now show them how the enslaved becomes a legend.” Tetu and Zenzi show up to help fight off the Panther’s men, by hitting them with revelation. Meanwhile, T’Challa talks to Tony Stark, and insults him a bit. And we touch back in with Shuri in the Djalia. We also get a nice ret-retcon from T’Challa. A few years ago, it was revealed that T’Challa only joined the Avengers so he could spy on them. Here, he admits he only spied on them so he could join them. Which is a neat little reversal. This is another great issue. This series has a lot going on, but it never feels cluttered or unbalanced. We get a little bit of the Midnight Angels, a little bit of Shuri, and quite a bit of T’Challa, and each section feels as long as it needs to be. T’Challa’s sections highlight his intelligence, as he makes clear that he’s a scientist at heart. The history lesson in the Djalia remains fascinating stuff, as well. The art’s great. Sprouse, Story and Martin do solid work. Sprouse’s style is a bit more superheroic than Stelfreeze’s, which works well for this arc, which is more superheroic in nature. I really do recommend this series. It’s great stuff.
Mockingbird #7, by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons and Rachelle Rosenberg. Bobbi takes over the investigation into the murder of the guy who claimed he had evidence to help clear Clint’s name. It’s a locked room mystery! There are bloody shoeprints in the bathroom, so that’s a clue. They’re almost definitely not from a corgi. The TV and cell reception goes down when they enter the Bermuda Triangle, though Bobbi points out that there is absolutely nothing odd about the Bermuda Triangle. Which makes her the only fictional character ever to say that. She assembles the suspects, most of whom are real people included in the arc. One of them is Kate Niemczyk. Cute. She continues to examine the clues, and realizes who committed the murder. It’s a cool reveal, and should make for an interesting next issue. This is so much fun. There’s a lot of silly jokes, but we also see plenty of Bobbi’s intelligence as she does her investigation. The art is fun and bright and great, as well. I really do love this series.
A-Force #9, by Kelly Thompson, Paulo Sequeira and Rachelle Rosenberg. Captain Marvel and Medusa are in town to talk to Nico. Medusa is a jerk and grabs Nico, which annoys Carol, who wanted to settle it peacefully. Dazzler and Singularity also arrive, with Dazzler threatening to blind Medusa. Elsa just wanted a damn sandwich. And Singularity has had quite enough of the fighting. She’s, uh, pretty good at conflict resolution. “Or I put you all in my insides until you can get along” is quite the threat. A plan is developed to save the day. Medusa and Dazzler stay in town, and work through some of the tension between them, and hug, to Singularity’s delight. It’s sweet. Meanwhile, Carol and Nico discuss the whole Future-crime thing. The scene is definitely opposed to what Carol’s doing, but still works hard to make her sympathetic, and her position understandable. I think this is a key difference between CWII and the original Civil War: None of the writers want to portray Carol as bad. In the original Civil War, the Pro-Registration side was routinely depicted as downright villains. In CWII, there’s a real effort from all involved to keep Carol sympathetic. It makes a huge difference. Anyway, Carol and Nico both also like Elsa, because of course they do. Elsa’s awesome. They head up to the abandoned mine, and find Alice. This is great. Elsa brings a ton of humour, just by being Elsa **** Bloodstone. But I think where this series continues to excel is having so much heart. Dazzler and Medusa having a heart-to-heart was so sweet. For all that she can be an absolute bitch, Medusa is also capable of immense compassion, and she shows that to Dazzler here, saying she would move mountains to help Ali. (Ali also gives a nice explanation of why Medusa is still hanging out with the team: It’s the one place where she doesn’t have to be a queen, and can just be herself. A nice bit of insight.) The interactions between Carol and Nico are really good, too, with Carol treating Nico as a teammate and a friend, and Nico standing up for herself. There’s a nice focus on Nico in general, and when they find Alice, it leads into some really emotional territory. The art is really good. Siqueira does a very good job with expressions and body language, really selling both comedic and emotional beats. And the colours are really pretty, of course. This is great stuff.
Animosity #2, by Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre, Rob Schwager and Marshall Dillon. We open a week after The Wake. Sandor and Oscar, Jesse’s dad, go out looking for a way out of the city. Sandor also points out to Oscar that this isn’t a Zombie Apocalypse, and running to the mountains won’t do much good. They get attacked by gators, and run away, and Oscar threatens to put Sandor down if he ever hurts Jesse. Not cool, Oscar. Cut to a month later, and Central Park, and a trade zone. There are cows looking for people to milk them and split the profit. Rats offering rat poison for animals who can’t deal with being sentient. And a cat selling Xanax and Adderall, for the same reason. Russian pigs talking about Animalism, which is a cute reference. Sandor and Shannon, Jesse’s mom, bond over their mutual love of Jesse. They care about each other, too. It’s sweet. The next day, a Senator meets with a representative from the animals – a moose with a pair of squirrels in its antlers. And then things get intense. And then we cut to a year later. This is so great. It’s really emotional, and really intense. Jesse’s dad is a dick, but her mom is really nice and sweet. I feel sad that she’s dead now. The negotiations between humans and animals are really interesting, though it doesn’t last long. There is some gruesome stuff, as well. And next issue, we’ll be getting to the real meat of the series, as Sandor tries to get Jesse across the country to California. I definitely recommend this series.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list is up. But now, co-written by the Simonsons, art by Jon Muth and Kent Williams (additional colours by Sherilyn van Valkenburgh), letters by Bill Oakley, “Mexican Standoff.”
A quick note on the art: Muth and Williams each did pencils, inks and colours. Which creates a very, very strange, but very, very cool, overall look. Anyway, the book opens with a guy named Dr. Neutron talking about nuclear physics to a guy named General Meltdown. This brings us to Chernobyl. If you want to read about what happened there, here’s the Wikipedia article. Suffice it to say, Things Went Wrong. While we watch the Chernobyl operators screw up, Neutron and Meltdown talk about it while playing chess. And by the way, here’s what the art looks like for this rather extended section:
We also learn that Neutron and Meltdown had arranged the disaster so Meltdown could absorb the radiation and take over Russia to stop Glasnost. Their plan didn’t quite work, so they’re going to try again.
And now, to Mexico! And a bar fight. A Mexican dude calls Logan “Americano,” and he says he’s not American. Which remains the most Canadian thing ever. Alex calmly watches the whole thing. And here’s what these two look like in this mini:
So, you see what I was saying earlier? Logan and Alex are both clearly done by different artists, but the styles still work together really well. The two start walking back to their motel, with Alex making a comment about Logan setting back Mexican-American relations, and Logan responding that he’s Canadian so it’s not his problem. A good point! They also briefly discuss their bet that the first one to use their powers buys the drinks for the rest of the trip. And Alex gets mopey.
This is also foreshadowing! I should note this takes place after Inferno, where he nearly helped Maddie kill her own son before she died. It also takes place after an upcoming Marvel Comics Presents story where a woman he was interested in turned out to be a supervillain. He, uh, has a string of bad luck in this period. It doesn’t get better any time soon. Anyway, someone’s spying on them. The next morning, some of the dudes Logan beat up show up with guns.
They steal a gorgeous car. And the gorgeous woman it belongs to. She deals with it pretty well.
A truck drives up behind them and smashes into their back bumper, then pulls up beside them. A guy – not one of the guys from the bar – leans out with a gun. They go off-road.
The other car’s still chasing them, and now the guy rips through the roof and fires a laser at them. And there’s more dudes with lasers ahead of them. They drive across a rickety old bridge of woods planks and rope, and then it turns out the other car goddamn flies. And that’s Alex’s breaking point.
I love how Alex’s powers are depicted in this mini. His plasma bolts look spectacular. Then the woman shoots them.
Logan wakes up in a hospital, and learns he was shot with the bubonic plague. And Alex is dead. Logan digs out six assassination pellets designed to kill. One would kill a normal person. He heads to the graveyard to find Alex’s grave, but Alex isn’t in there. It’s a dummy stuffed with rocks.
This is so great. The art is gorgeous. It’s very much different from usual. This was published under the Epic imprint, which was where they did more experimental titles, and they clearly decided to be experimental here, and it works so well. Muth and Williams are both great artists. Williams, I think, is the one handling Logan, and while his style is a lot more exaggerated, it somehow doesn’t clash with Muth’s more photo-referenced style. Alex is pretty clearly designed off of James Dean, which is amusing. And it actually feels like Alex is trying to channel Dean’s tough-guy, devil-may-care attitude, as a way of shielding himself from all he’s been through. Regardless, the contrast between Logan and Alex is really cool.
The writing is great, too. The Simonsons were both top-notch writers, and they work well together, as well. Logan and Alex are both characterized well, and there’s some really good humour that sets some really good growing tension.
This issue is a great start to a great mini, one that’s definitely worth reading. Very highly recommended.