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X-Men comics of February 14 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day. I spent it working, and then reading comics. Here they are.

X-Men Blue #21, by Cullen Bunn, Jacopo Camagni, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. The X-Men, and Venom, get into a bar brawl with some aliens with symbiotes. And Scott gets stabbed. And Venom roughs up a little alien for info. Scott is all angsty about his dad being missing and about him dragging the X-Men on a rescue mission. Killer Thrill tortures Corsair. And Venom leads the X-Men to a weapons dealer selling symbiotes. All in all? I feel kinda meh on this. It’s not that it’s bad. The story’s executed well enough. Scott’s narration feels a bit off to me, but not enough to be a particular problem. The problem is I just don’t care. It’s the X-Men teaming up with Venom, to fight symbiotes. I don’t care. And I know part of that is my own hang-ups over Venom. He was fairly omnipresent in the ’90s, and seldom particularly interesting then. And I’ve heard good things about Flash as Venom, that it was a unique new direction on the character, but then Marvel went back to its old “screw progress, make things the way they used to be” attitude, and back-tracked to Eddie as Venom, because change is scary and we need to be sure nothing will never ever ever really change. Things must always reset to a very specific status quo, so that the same stories can be told with the same characters, over and over and over and over and all over again. So, an X-Men story where they team up with Venom? It was never going to interest me. It had the cards stacked against it from the start. And honestly, it’s not really doing anything to particularly change my mind. It’s just kind of a competently-told but unremarkable story. Nothing in it to really surprise or challenge. It’s a bland story, told reasonably well, and which will undoubtedly be forgotten the day after it ends. The art’s nice. Didn’t really elevate the story, but it’s solid visual storytelling.

Weapon X #14, by Greg Pak, Yildiray Cinar, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. Warpath is hurting from the stab wound that’s not healing, and the Nukes are trying to get in, so Sabretooth suggests the team take Nuke’s red pills. They all go along with it, though Logan tells them all to carry white pills, too, to calm them down later. Makes it a more interesting fight. And Domino, being who she is in this book, takes the opportunity to smooch Warpath. Sabretooth is disgusted, so I like the smooching even more. It’s one hell of a fight, honestly, and much as I dislike Sabretooth, his sheer joy in the craziness is pretty enjoyable. The finale to this arc is pretty fun. It’s just a big crazy fight scene, and the creative team has fun with it. The post-fight is great, too, with the revolution successful. Warpath’s pretty happy about that. Because he is all about overthrowing governments. But hey, good for the people of Santo Marco. Also, yay for Domino and Warpath. They work well together. I can buy them as a couple. Long-time friends, both attractive, similar interests, seems reasonable to me. So, yeah, I’m fine with them as a couple. Not the same charm as Domino and Colossus, but still. A perfectly fine ship. And this was a perfectly enjoyable arc, which made fun use of Nuke. I like what Pak’s doing on this book. And Cinar’s a good artistic fit for the book, too. A nice sense of hyper-violence without actually being gruesome or gory or anything. I guess one could complain that the art is on the safe side, but I’m not sure blood and gore actually would’ve improved the story, so I figure it fits well.

Cable #154, by Ed Brisson, Jon Malin, Jesus Aburtov, Federico Blee, and Travis Lanham. Selene tells Cable’s team to kill Gideon before he can become unstoppable. Cable agrees, if she’ll release her hold on Blink, which confuses Blink. I’ve missed Blink, I wish she’d gotten more to do in this arc. Anyway, Gideon attacks, and taunts them, and Cable shoots Absalom right in the middle of Gideon taunting, and it’s hilarious. Gideon continues to kick ass, until Selene fights him, and tells him that having the power of all the Externals is too much for any one of them, and it’ll destroy him. He chooses not to believe it. So Blink finishes him off. Pretty awesomely. Shatterstar is appropriately impressed. It’s the most joy he’s shown this entire arc. So, this arc was pretty fun. It was a good ’90s throwback, in the right ways. That it used characters like Laura and Armour helped, I think, by removing it from the ’90s. But yeah, the energy and weirdness are very evocative of the ’90s. Malin’s art definitely strikes a ’90s chord, even if Malin himself is an alt-right asshole. I’m glad he’s off the book, and I hope he doesn’t get more Marvel work. Not that I enjoyed his style anyway, so I’m not losing out if he’s gone. But still, good riddance. But hey, Brisson does good work here. It’s fun. It’s a fun comic.

Old Man Logan #35, by Ed Brisson, Ibraim Roberson, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Logan is down, healing too slow to fight, while Mariko is slaughting regenerating Hand ninjas. Gorgon threatens to kill Logan if Mariko doesn’t stand down. Mariko refuses to stand down. Admittedly, that’s pretty true to her character. She’s all about honour, placing it higher than her own life. And she knows Logan is the same. So it actually fits for her to let Logan die rather than to surrender. Also, it’s the right call to make, screw Logan. Gorgon escapes, and Logan’s dying, so Mariko gives him some Regenix, which saves him. And then they tie up loose ends with Silver Samurai, and Mariko goes to explore her new life of freedom. Of course, with her back from the dead, and Regular Logan back from the dead, it’s just a matter of time before they hook up. It’s pretty much inevitable, I’m afraid. Some writer won’t be able to resist doing it. And then they’ll break up. And then a few years later, they’ll get back together and break up again, and it’ll happen again, and again, and again, and again. Because, as I noted when talking about Blue, Marvel is incapable of letting go of the past. So, yep, we’re going to get so many stories where Logan and Mariko reunite, whether for only an arc, or for an entire run, before splitting back up. And, of course, we have Mariko as a warrior woman now, rather than just having an immense inner strength that didn’t require her to be able to stab ninjas. Because some writers just don’t know how to write strong women without making them physically strong, as though that’s the only kind of strength that matters. Jeez, I wish this entire goddamn arc didn’t exist, because it does absolutely no favours for Mariko. I would rather Mariko had stayed dead. Her death was bullshit fridging, yes, but this resurrection doesn’t actually help. Because Brisson does not understand what made her appealing in the first place, and the changes he’s made to her will carry over to other writers, and she’s not going to be the awesome character she was in the ’80s. Ugh. Screw this arc. At least Roberson’s art is good. Much more enjoyable than Deodato, earlier in the arc. Roberson does action well, though I find the characters are a bit expressionless, much of the time. So the art’s good, but it could still be better.

And non-X-titles, briefly.

Ms. Marvel #27, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna. Naftali finds a clue to Kamala’s whereabouts! And his cousin, Alanna, is pretty cool. I want to read more about her. Meanwhile, Red Dagger leads Nakia, Gabe, and Mike, to find and rescue Zoe. And Zoe and Harold are friends now and I love them. And this is just a really fun comic. I thoroughly enjoy it. And I am loving this focus on the supporting cast, because it’s a great supporting cast. And great art, really fun and funny.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #29, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Squirrel Girl fights the Silver Surfer, and we get the debut of Hocky Hoof Hank, the Thor that’s an actual horse. Also, a lot of other cameos. Also, the issue is just pure joy, hilarious and fun. But also some genuine tension at the end. But this series remains eternal delight.

Falcon #5, by Rodney Barnes, Joshua Cassara, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna. Two-Gun Kid talks about “rootin’-tootin’ demon skeet shootin’.” So clearly this is a book you should be reading. Sam, Shaun and Joaquin share a really sweet moment, Daimon fights Blackheart, and Shaun tries to find a codename for Joaquin. It’s a good comic. I’m enjoying it. Barnes makes some social commentary, and he also has some amazingly bad jokes. So it’s a good read.

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X-Men comics of February 7 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My birthday was Tuesday. I’m 33 now. I celebrated my birthday by watching Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is such a good movie. In fact, I paused from writing this intro to order a t-shirt. Because I really do love that movie. Being 33 means I can spend $45 on a t-shirt for a children’s movie. Anyway! Here’s comics!

X-Men Red #1, by Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar, Ive Svorcina, and Cory Petit. A young girl named Heather is awoken in the middle of the night by a voice in her head telling her to flee an attacking mob. The X-Men rescue her. Jean, Kurt, and Laura, specifically. Kurt teleports Heather away, and right in front of a shark. Which is . . . not great planning, Kurt. We then go back two months, where a carjacking is foiled by a crying baby. Hyper-sonic crying that shatters windows. Laura loses a hand trying to cover the baby’s mouth. See, this is why I don’t want kids. Jean and Kurt show up to help Laura and Gabby calm the baby. Jean proceeds to travel around the world, talking to people and trying to set up a way to help new mutants. There’s a really nice scene of her and Kurt, where she calls him the soul of the X-Men, and he asks her not to die again. Jean’s idea involves Atlantis, which means Namor, but it’s justified. She needs a nation, and Namor’s a mutant leading a nation. She talks to the UN, and makes the point that talking about a minority without including that minority in the discussion is a bad way of doing things. She’s not wrong. She also raises a really, really strong point:

X-Men Red #1

Yes! This!

This gets to the heart of one of my biggest problems with the franchise. Xavier was, ultimately, a segregationist. He trained mutants to hide themselves. And mutants need to be public. They need to be out there, openly living their lives. And, yeah, it’s important that minority groups be accepted as a whole, not just their most extraordinary individuals. And then the issue ends on an intense note, with a great villain reveal. This is a great debut issue. It sets up a whole lot, it justifies most of the cast’s presence (OK, Laura and Gabby are pretty random, they just happened to be around, but Gabby so shut up). And it makes some pretty good statements regarding mutants as a minority. It builds off their history. It looks like this series might actually try to make real use of the mutants-as-minority angle, something too few X-titles really attempt, beyond lip service. This series seems set to make it part of its core plot, which is cool. Though I’d like a few more minority characters to go along with that. Alas, that is the other big problem with the franchise. Regardless, Taylor having Jean actually point out one of the biggest problems with Xavier’s approach was validating for me. There’s some good character work for her here. We don’t get a whole lot for anyone else, yet, but that’s because so much of the issue is set-up. I’m sure Taylor will do great work with everyone. I’m excited to read more of this series. It’s looking good!

X-Men Gold #21, by Marc Guggenheim, Diego Bernard, JP Mayer, Arif Prianto, and Cory Petit. It opens a few months ago, at a community college in Brooklyn, which has just been blown up by a new mutant, who then gets recruited by Mesmero (who’s pretending to be Xavier). Cut to the present, where the new Pyro, the new Avalanche and Mesmero are all in a prison for mutants. Mesmero suggests they get payback on Racist Lady Whose Name Is Actually Stated But Who Is Such A Boring Cliche That I Do Not Give One Single Wet Hot Shit About Her, and they walk out. In Central Park, Logan wants to leave because he figures his weakened healing factor makes him a liability. Kitty and Kurt find Rachel in the Danger Room, in a Ruined Future New York scenario, and in a spazzy new costume.

X-Men Gold #21

Enh. Not her best, not her worst.

I don’t know why they can’t just get Jamie McKelvie to give her a redesign. She talks about how her recent experiences have enhanced all her senses and she feels alive, and I’m sure that’s going to turn out just fine. Mesmero, Pyro, and Avalanche attack Racist Lady’s fundraiser, so the X-Men go to fight them, with Amara joining along to get some revenge on Mesmero. Remember the time in Young X-Men when Amara super-heated Dust into glass? And it almost killed Dust? It was pretty awful of Amara and I never felt it really fit her character. Guggenheim’s a hack. Anyway, this issue. As with so much of this run, it’s not that it’s bad, necessarily. It’s something worse: It’s largely boring. I also thought this issue was a bit too quick with scene-changes. It moved along at a brisk pace, but maybe a bit too brisk, at times. But beyond that, I just feel largely neutral on this issue. Less nostalgia-driven, at least. Guggenheim is finally trying to tell his own story, kinda. Though that story is still nothing particularly new. Brotherhood attacks racist, X-Men fight them. In terms of character drama, this issue frigging finally shifts the focus away from Kitty a bit. Rachel gets a scene focusing on her, Storm seeing off Logan was actually pretty nice, and the new Pyro is marginally interesting. But even so, everything still feels so shallow. Guggenheim is doing surface-level character drama, not going into the depth I prefer. Because Guggenheim is a hack. The art’s good. But hampered by hack writing.

Iceman #10, by Sina Grace, Robert Gill, Ed Tadeo, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino. Michaela and Idie get back to the school to see Iceman fighting Daken. Michaela spots Zach and chases after him, while Idie tends to the not-quite-dead Judah. By the way, Idie’s dress is pretty cute. Iceman is stupidly calm. He thinks Daken killed Judah, and he’s not even acting mad. Michaela beans Zach with a little table, so Zach loses control of the Death Seed energy, which ramps up Daken even more, so Iceman creates more ice-hims. So there’s fighting, there’s taunting, there’s Iceman declaring he’ll never stop caring about making the world better, and he also kisses Daken to try to freeze the Death Seed. Meeeeh. I just don’t care. It’s so hard to care. Michaela is cool, I like her. But Bobby is so flat here. Like, he thinks Daken just killed a dude, and he doesn’t show any anger? I get him not wanting to kill Daken, but no anger? And their dialogue is just dull. This issue bored me. It might be the weakest of the entire run. Sina Grace hasn’t yet gotten the knack of writing big fights. He’s so much better at character-driven scenes, and when he has to push the cape comic action, it just doesn’t work nearly as well. Also, I’m still not a fan of Gill’s art. Personal taste, though. Just not a style that appeals to me.

Rogue & Gambit #2, by Kelly Thompson, Pere Perez, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. So it turns out the last issue ending with them strapped to lab tables was kind of a fake-out. This issue opens with them rather bitter in an office. Then they start in on their problems with each other. This includes the time Rogue, wearing a nice dress, was knocked off Gambit’s bike by a wire across the road. I’m not sure why it’s included, except that it’s one of the funnier moments in X-Men history. There’s also a loooot of smooches. The therapist, who is clearly not prepared for the insanity of the Rogue/Gambit history, asks about their first meeting, and it turns out that’s a point of contention, as they can’t even agree on what counts as their first meeting. Because the Shadow King was involved. I love that. That is perfect. Rogue’s story has them meeting when Gambit offered his coat because her own clothes were shredded, with Thompson lampshading the way Rogue’s clothes always got shredded. Turns out, they’d touched the night before, when they were both still under Shadow King’s control. That night, the pair sneak through the therapy building’s air ducts to sneak in. While they do, they flash back to their previous meeting, while Rogue was under Shadow King’s control, and they fought. This is just so much fun. Rogue and Gambit have always had great chemistry, and Thompson plays it up so well. The art conveys it, too. It makes for a thoroughly fun read. Their bickering is hilarious. But there’s also a lot of heart, a lot of sincerity to their relationship. They do love each other, even if they drive each other nuts. The two stories of their first meeting are both good, and Rogue’s reasons for not wanting to count their mind-controlled meeting as their first meeting is really sweet. This is a good comic. I hope Thompson gets to write more Rogue.

I also picked up:

Black Bolt #10, by Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward (with Stephanie Hans!), and Clayton Cowles. Bolt and Titania find Lash, get taken captured, and Black Bolt gets lashed to a bomb that poisons him and drains his blood. And this is where Hans’ pages come in, as he dreams of Medusa. And daaaaamn. So gorgeous. Hans is amazing. Ward is amazing, too. He does such fantastic work on this book, lines and colours. It is a gorgeous series. And Ahmed’s prose is always phenomenal. Deep and rich.

She-Hulk #162, by Mariko Tamaki, Jahnoy Lindsay, Federico Blee, and Travis Lanham. It’s, uh, weird. Jen becomes a giant floating head. And argues with her Hulk body. She confronts all sorts of her inner demons, and in particular, Bruce’s death. This is a trippy issue, but a good trip through Jen’s subconscious, to move her back to her normal self. It was obvious that was going to happen. Despite the whining about Jen being different in this book, it was always obvious, to anyone capable of pattern recognition, that it would end with her back to her normal self. In the meantime, we got a pretty good series about trauma and grief. I’ll miss this series, after it ends with the next issue.

Hawkeye #15, by Kelly Thompson, Leo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino. The Hawkeyes kick ass, come up with terrible plans, Kate is insulted that Clint didn’t like being kissed by Masque in Kate’s body, and Kate gets a bad Dryve passenger rating. Oh, and Clint hates Stark’s hearing aid, because it fritzes when he gets hit in the head. And Clint gets hit in the head a lot. It’s a good comic. So much fun.

Along with WicDiv 1923 and Snotgirl. Which I’m waiting until the weekend to actually read, when I’ll have more time to linger.

X-Men comics of January 31 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So did you watch the State of the Union on Tuesday night? Why the hell would you do that? Ratings and attention are what that asshole wants, so deprive him of both. Anyway, here’s comics.

All-New Wolverine #30, by Tom Taylor, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Laura’s done a little brain surgery to bring back Sabretooth, Deathstrike, Logan, and Daken, who is not at all uncomfortable with being naked. Laura tells them they’re not killing the Orphans of X, because the whole reason the Orphans formed is because Laura and the others killed people close to them. As they go searching through the base, we get this delightful panel:

All-New Wolverine #30

The wrong room to be in.

Also, Laura gets to Captain America: She throws her shield, it hits a guy and bounces back to her. And Laura finds out that Henry Sutter is involved, and is the one that turned the Orphans from a support group into killers. She’s more convinced than ever that she needs to talk the Orphans down. In her armour, initially, but only to get their attention, so she can actually talk to them, and it’s good stuff. She makes a powerful statement about refusing to apologize for being young and powerless, to feel guilty about being used and abused, and it’s a strong statement. This is a great end to the arc. It was a good arc, and a great finish, as Laura continues to show how far she’s come, and to make peace with her past, and try to find some way to make good with the people she hurt. To stand with them, as one of them, as a victim of the same people responsible for their pain. It’s fantastic. I love it. Great art, too. This is probably the issue’s standout panel:

All-New Wolverine #30

Maybe the week’s standout panel.

There’s a panel in Phoenix Resurrection #5 that gives it stiff competition. But that is an amazing panel. That is a brilliant bit of work. And so effective. Also gorgeously drawn. Man. So good. This is such a great comic. Still the best title in the X-line.

Phoenix Resurrection #5, by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett, Gerry Alanguilan, Belardino Brabo, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham. Logan tries to get Jean to remember herself, and then he slices Annie’s throat, because he’s not great at talking things out. Storm wouldn’t have sliced Annie’s throat. Just saying. It does seem like Jean starts to remember who she is. She throws him out the window, which is always a good sign. And now she’s Black Phoenix. Things are tense when she lands among the X-Men. Super-tense.

Phoenix Resurrection #5

Feel the tension.

The Phoenix tries to sway Jean to its side, speaking through her dead friends and family, which isn’t at all creepy, giant flaming bird. She’s actually a bit shaken by all the dead people. It’s, uh, it’s been a rough few years. She rejects the offer in a big burst of energy, which also changes her shoes from flats to heels, which is a neat trick. You can’t not see it. Yu very clearly draws her in flats. And Bennett actually has a close-up on her heels. It’s distracting for a moment, but then it gets easy to ignore, because the scene is focused on Jean and Scott. And a reminder that, for all the shit they went through . . . they were a great couple.

Phoenix Resurrection #5

Such feels.

Man. I’ve been saying for a while that, if Scott and Jean are ever alive together again, I don’t think they should get back together. For just a moment, this scene had me second-guessing that. The love they share is presented so well. It’s so simple, and so strong. But then the scene gets even better, as it feels like they acknowledge that, while they will always love each other, what they had is over. It is such a powerful, beautiful scene. And it continues with Jean just talking to the Phoenix.

Phoenix Resurrection #5

FEEEEEEEELS.

Also, can I just note that Jean petting the Phoenix’s beak is adorable? The Phoenix, the big cosmic flaming bird, life and death incarnate, being stroked like a good birb. How can I not love that image? Anyway, the Jean/Phoenix scene is really powerful, too. Jean makes a strong case for why they can’t be together, why they have to be separate beings, leading their own existences. This is such a great finale. So, so, so good. It’s really strong, emotional stuff, and while Yet Another Phoenix Story isn’t something that particularly thrills me, Rosenberg does try to use this as a way to end the constant Phoenix cycle. (It won’t, of course. We’ll get more Phoenix stories. Probably within 5 years. Hell, with how horribly nostalgia-driven the X-Men office is these days, we’ll probably get another Phoenix story within two years. But it’s the thought that counts, so I’ll give Rosenberg credit for trying to write a logical Last Phoenix Story.) All my complaints about the rest of the mini are largely moot in this issue: It’s focused almost entirely on Jean, so the swollen cast doesn’t come into play. And that specific focus makes it so much better. It’s so easy to care. Rosenberg also writes a solid Jean. She feels like Jean. Like how Jean is supposed to feel. Not like ’90s cartoon Jean, but more like ’90s comics Jean, and I don’t even give a shit, I will defend ’90s comics Jean, she was great, usually. The art’s really good, too. Yu’s pages are better than usual. I’m not generally a fan of his style, but he did some especially strong work here. And then Bennett’s pages are gorgeous. The pencils, inks and colours all work perfectly. Especially the colours, I think. Rosenberg complements Bennett’s lines so beautifully. Rosenberg’s colours are always excellent, but her colours with Bennett’s pencils are just really something special. A pairing I hope to see a lot more of. Because damn. I can’t stress enough how gorgeous the art is, how amazing the Bennett/Brabo/Rosenberg team is. For all the complaints I’ve had about this mini, this finale is brilliant and beautiful and emotional, and I’m glad this particular issue exists. And next week, we get the start of X-Men Red! I’m excited for that!

Jean Grey #11, by Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibanez, Alberto Alburquerque, Jay David Ramos, and Travis Lanham. Teen Jean is dead and in Hell. It’s hard to fault that placement, really. Darkchilde Illyana is there, too, and that means a cool fight. Jean beats the Darkchilde easily enough, while disagreeing with her placement in Hell, and the Demonchilde is burned away, with Phoenix Illyana taking her place. Then she goes back to caveman days, and:

Jean Grey #11

Comics!

After that is the Days of Future Past, where she encounters Rachel, and she clearly hasn’t actually met Rachel.

Jean Grey #11

“Happy” is not a good description of Rachel.

Rachel gets so infuriated by this comment that she basically destroys the world. Jean asks her to talk to her, but instead, Rachel decks her into a Shi’ar civil war. And a pretty good point made by Jean:

Jean Grey #11

Crazies, or someone with performance anxiety.

So, I wouldn’t normally spoil the late part of the issue, but this is the final issue of the series, and we already know Teen Jean’s still alive as part of the crossover with Venom, so screw it, here’s spoilers. Teen Jean pretty much forces the Phoenix Force to resurrect her. She is so badass, she forces the cosmic force that killed her to then bring her back, through sheer force of Screw You. Teen Jean is the most herself she ever has been or probably ever will be, and it’s great. I love it. Good for her, for being so epic. This is a great issue, really fun to read, with some neat views of some other Phoenix hosts, and an epic confrontation between Teen Jean and Phoenix. Man, Phoenix had bad luck with Jeans this week, though Adult Jean was waaaay nicer. Which makes sense. Teen Jean’s refusal to be Adult Jean has given her a much harder edge, which is part of what I love about her. She’s an unapologetic bitch, who’s completely run out of shits to give, and it’s so charming. The art’s good, too. I don’t know what it is, but I like Ibanez more than usual. I never dislike Ibanez, but he’s not one of my favourites. Still, something about the art in this issue clicked with me more than usual. I don’t know if maybe it’s just Albruquerque’s inks. (He’s worked with Ramos plenty, so I know it’s not that. Though Ramos’ colours are as great as ever.) Whatever it is, the art’s as good as the writing, and it’s an enjoyable issue that ends on a moment I would love to see more of and I’m so disappointed we won’t get to see it.

Old Man Logan #34, by Ed Brisson, Ibraim Roberson, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Mariko tells a story about how Clan Yashida’s been fighting the Hand for centuries, and how they went to war over Madripoor and kept the Hand out. Now, the Hand is trying to take over. Mariko wants to go kill some ninjas, but Logan’s still hurt. And I need to take issue with something:

Old Man Logan #34

Yeah, no, not actually true.

See, when Mariko was still alive, Logan wasn’t at the point where he was immediately healing from any damage he took. His healing factor was a lot less potent than it would later become. There were plenty of times, back in the day, where Logan nearly died from his injuries. He became more invincible when he gave in to his berserker rage, but even then, it just meant he ignored pain and injuries until he came back to his senses, at which point he could take days to heal up. That tends to get forgotten. Back in the day, if Logan was hurt badly enough, it still took him time to recover. Even bullet wounds could cause him problems. Eventually, bullet wounds just stopped mattering, healing pretty much the moment they formed. But back in the day, they’d slow him down for a while. I preferred him then, if I’m honest. The stronger his healing factor got, the more he bored me. Regardless, Mariko also says he’s a terrible liar, as an indication he might be the man she remembers. They go looking for the Crazy Thunder Clan, to find the Regenix, and the Hand. It’s an OK issue. Could probably have spent a little more time on the fact that Mariko is back from the dead. Really tried to indicate how it’s affected her. She seems mostly fine. Also: Can I just say that Mariko The Badass Samurai does not interest me at all? It feels like a misunderstanding of her character. Mariko wasn’t great because she could chop up ninjas. She was great because she was a fine, proper lady of class and character, who was still strong-willed and resolute in her duties. She didn’t need to be the one killing ninjas. That wasn’t the point of her character. Making her a ninja-killing badass arguably makes her less interesting, by just making her yet another Strong Female Character, cool because of feats rather than because of any actual strength of her character. I really liked Mariko. I thought she was a great character, and far and away Logan’s best love interest. (It’s not even close. Mariko was his true love. Anyone who says different is wrong.) She was at her best when she was quietly compelling. She should be winning battles of words. Her victories should be moral ones. Villains more powerful than she trying to make her obey them, and her simply telling them no. But nope, we get Badass Samurai Lady. Meh. So, yeah, I think this entire arc is kind of a mistake. Though I enjoy the art in this issue. I don’t like Deodato. But I do like Roberson. He’s good.

May as well touch on what else I read.

Moon Girl #27, by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. Lunella doesn’t much like Ben, Herbie delivers sick burns on Johnny and reveals his true name, Doomhead is an eternal delight, Ben and Johnny are the worst at rescuing cats from trees, Lunella’s learning to be more forgiving, and there are cute Valentine cards in the back. This is a good comic. It’s a lot of fun. And the art remains beautiful, of course.

Falcon #4, by Rodney Barnes, Joshua Cassara, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna. Shaun has the best mom. Not only does she encourage him in his superhero pursuits, she pushes him to keep at it. Sam’s in the afterlife and meets the Two-Gun Kid, who remembers him from his own adventures in the present. Dr. Voodoo recruits Hellstrom. Patriot recruits the other Falcon. And Sam Wilson has a trippy experience of self-discovery. It’s good. Good stuff. Really interesting. All about Sam figuring out who he is. I’m enjoying this. Blackheart’s a weird initial villain, but Barnes and Cassara are making it work.

Captain Marvel #128, by Margaret Stohl, Michele Bandini, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Caramagna. Evil Peter Quill is even dumber than Regular Quill, there’s mutiny, Gamora and Nebula don’t get along in any universe, Good Thanos is vaguely unsettling, and Michele Bandini is such a good artist. I will note that this arc is the first time this series has been good. There’s a little more weight to everything. But it’s still not as good as it should be. Carol gets blessedly little to do in this issue, besides snark. It’s mostly about Quill’s crew, and Hero Thanos. World-building for an alternate reality we’ll be leaving soon, and while it’s a fun twist on the regular universe, it still feels like some wasted space. This is Carol’s book, she shouldn’t be sidelined the way this issue did it. Also, the book still suffers from lack of a strongly-established supporting cast. The main reason to keep buying, I think, is for the Bandini/Arciniega art. It is very pretty. Still, unless things get immensely better in the next couple issues, I will be dropping the book after this arc.

X-Men comics of January 24 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I don’t talk about my personal life on here much, but I figure this is probably worth mentioning: My mom has breast cancer. Carcinoma in situ, which means it’s not spreading, it’s contained, and a simple surgery should get it all out. So I’m not particularly worried about it. But, it is goddamn cancer, so it’s still worth bringing up. But anyway, here’s comics.

X-Men Blue #20, by Cullen Bunn, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Rain Beredo, and Joe Caramagna. So the X-Men in the past have been revealed as the future Brotherhood led by Xavier’s son, who points out that they’d just been trying to get the O5 to go back to their own time, and their absence left a void the Brotherhood could fill. He’s also angry at them for abandoning his father, and is looking forward to getting to know his dad. Bloodstorm responds by noting she didn’t abandon Xavier, she killed him, and you know? It’s fair that she wants that clarification. If you kill someone, I imagine you’d want that acknowledged, not lumped in with people who just didn’t call. I support you, Bloodstorm, in your desire to have your accomplishments acknowledged. Anyway, fighting happens. Jean frees Xavier. Hank brings in reinforcements from their time travel adventures, which is neat. I’m mildly disappointed Penance and Jimmy work together, as I preferred Penance glaring daggers at Jimmy. Also, a multiversal constant is that Emma Frost is Emma Frost.

X-Men Blue #20

Bless Emma Frost.

And then the O5 finally get to be reunited with their mentor, and it’s really nice. Albeit brief. It doesn’t last long, before – spoiler alert – the O5 return to the present. I call it a spoiler, but the solicits already told us they would. For all the endless speculation about whether the O5 are about to return to their own time, we still have no real reason to think it’s happening. Their next story arc is a big crossover with Venom, which starts . . . uh, this week. In the Annual. Will they return to their own time after that? Who knows? It’s the kind of thing they can pretty much keep up indefinitely. This issue does make clear they will return eventually, but it’s not like there’s a deadline. (It also makes clear they are, in fact, from the main universe’s past, not an alternate timeline.) But! The issue! It’s not a bad end to the arc. It’s an entertaining fight, though not a particularly even one, and not very long. The guest stars amount to nothing, aside from Emma being incapable of not stealing a scene. I liked the scene where they reunite with Xavier. I would’ve liked a couple more pages of it, actually. I think it needed a little more space to breathe, for a little more emotion to be slipped in. The scene felt a bit too short to be really effective. Which is a shame. Also, I still don’t like the future Brotherhood. On the whole, while this isn’t a bad end to the arc, it’s not a great end, either. Oh, the art’s good, though. Silva kinda reminds me of Stuart Immonen. There are similarities to their styles, and Beredo’s colours really accentuate those similarities. He’s a great colour artist, which is worth noting, since this came out on Colorist Appreciation Day. Beredo’s great, worth appreciating. And the art, on the whole, is really good, and makes the book more enjoyable.

X-Men Blue Annual, by Cullen Bunn, Edgar Salazar, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. A bounty hunter hunts some symbiotes. Scott gets a call from his dad, who says the Starjammers have been running security for some rock stars. Lila? Anyway, their conversation is interrupted by an attack on the Starjammers. By symbiotes. Jean assembles the team and they find Venom busting up a gun deal. They ask for his help, and the symbiote wants to help, but Eddie refuses, so the X-Men just attack, which goes poorly, until the symbiote puts Eddie to sleep. In space, Corsair’s cunning escape is foiled by a Poison’d Killer Thrill. The Poisons are the antagonists of the Venom-verse story that happened not long ago. Which I haven’t read. Anyway, the X-Men have taken Venom to the alien planet Corsair told Scott to go to, and as soon as they’re off Danger, Angel immediately flirts with a cute alien girl, and honestly, I’d love to see more of that. I totally buy that as a Warren trait. Always flirting with girls, but always in really nice ways, and almost always the girls flirting back. Just make that a recurring thing for Warren. So, this story will be fun to review, since I don’t plan on buying the Venom issues. I’ll only be reviewing the X-Men issues, which will make things so interesting. Anyway, this start for the crossover is OK. I’ll just say flat-out, this is not a story for me. It’s been a long time since I cared much about Venom. I’m not reading Mike Costa’s current Venom run. Maybe it’s one of the best books Marvel’s putting out. I don’t know. It’ll be a long time before I know. I don’t care enough about Venom to read the comic. So hey, how about a story? I’ve been gradually reading my way through as much of Marvel’s back catalogue as I can find without having to buy hard copies of anything. (Unlimited, poor design notwithstanding, is great.) And that’s included the various ’90s Venom minis. And holy crap, are they ever bad. They are so very, very ’90s. I actually had a couple of the minis, from when I was collecting back then. And man, it was cool when I was 10 or 11 or 12, but it did not hold up well. Which I knew before I re-read them. But man. Bad. And it’s a major reason why I just cannot care about Venom. I will never be able to get those ’90s comics out of my head. It’s the complete opposite of nostalgia. Some people will buy anything that has Darkhawk, just because they loved the Darkhawk series (even though it was mostly not great). I’m the opposite. Anyway, that’s why I can’t really enjoy this. I was mostly fine with the Scott stuff, and the Starjammer stuff. But its entire premise is a turn-off for me. I’ll never enjoy this, and I’m sorry I won’t be able to really review this comic as a result. I can’t be objective enough for it. I wasn’t impressed by this. I have many of the same complaints that I have about Blue as a whole, primarily that I want more character focus. There’s some pretty OK Scott stuff here, and hopefully we’ll get more throughout the arc. But I still felt disappointed. The art’s good. Nothing exceptional, but it’s quality storytelling, which is what matters most.

Legion #1, by Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, Dan Brown, and Travis Lanham. David’s in Pennsylvania, where a hurricane is forming. Something’s been screwing with his balance, and it seems to involve a personality named Lord Trauma. Davis passes out, and gets taken to a hospital, where Lord Trauma reminds the doctors and nurses of past traumas. Then he turns his attention to David, who fights back by unleashing another personality, Joe Fury. Then he gets a ride which at least gets him to a motel, where he tries to sleep. But his personalities are all yelling at him for creating Lord Trauma, and to deal with him. David’s on his way to a psychotherapist, Hannah Jones, who’s currently treating a rock star named Cliff King, and something about him makes me think I’ve seen him in a comic before, but he’s not on the Marvel Wikia. So I’m probably wrong. Anyway, Hannah seems interesting. Though she lives in the Marvel Universe, and she dismisses weirdness as just hallucinations. Presumably, she wasn’t in New York during Inferno. I mean, it makes sense for a psychiatrist to view the world through that lens. But still, the scepticisim of people in the Marvel Universe, especially Marvel New York, always astonishes me. As for the issue as a whole, though. OK, so this isn’t fair to the book, but I can’t help but compare it to Simon Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy run which starred Legion, and which was bizarre and fascinating and had Blindfold. It was a great comic, even if David’s accent drove me goddamn nuts for its entire run. (His mother’s Israeli by way of Germany, and he was in Paris when he was rendered semi-catatonic, why did he have such a thick Scottish accent? Argh!) He has no accent here. But he also doesn’t have the charm he had under Spurrier. Legacy was such a great book, and a great Legion story. This one is . . . less so. Also, while I only actually watched the first two episodes of Legion, those two episodes were amazing, and this book doesn’t measure up to that, either. On the whole, this book ends up being . . . fine. It’s fine. It’s not bad. It’s not great. It’s just kinda there. And I’m maybe not being fair to it, because I’m holding it up against some spectacular work, rather than judging it solely on its own merits. But it’s hard to shake the comparisons. We’ll see how the rest of the mini goes. But this first issue didn’t impress me. The art didn’t wow me, either. Again, it’s totally fine art. But it’s not as weird as the art on Legacy. Which was an acquired taste, admittedly, but which worked really well for the series. The art here just kinda sits there. It tells the story without adding much to it. So, all in all, a disappointing start.

I just saw a Burger King ad teaching people about Net Neutrality via the Whopper, and I am angry that this is the world we live in now. This is a terrible world.

Phoenix Resurrection #4, by Matt Rosenberg, Ramon Rosanas, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham. Jean wakes up in the ruins of her house, and doesn’t notice that it’s ruins. Her pleasant little town is completely on fire, except for what she sees. Josh Guthrie’s there, and Thornn, Feral’s sister. And I think a Bedlam brother? I might be wrong about that, it’s a black guy named Brian. The X-Me are gathered outside a bubble, trying to decide if they should go through a door. Hellion wants to kill the Phoenix. Because Hellion was never known for his keen tactical mind. Hellion was always a jackass and I always kinda disliked him. Anyway, they go into the bubble, and there’s fire, and dead people, and burning people, and crows. Or ravens. One or the other, I’ve never been able to tell the difference. And they also find a whole bunch of dead X-Men ready to fight them. Onyx is among them, and I totally forgot he died. Plenty of others, too, none of them speaking. While most of them fight, Kitty takes Lorna, Iceman, Logan, and Illyana, to look for whatever they can find. Interesting group. Logan takes great pleasure in stabbing a Madrox, which I do find hilarious. They find the diner, which is pristine with a blue sky above it, even as everywhere else is fire. Jean can’t see them, and she has a really, really good conversation with Annie. (Who ships her and Logan, but we’ll let that slide for now.) She talks about being followed home by a goddess, who was herself. Beast details his theory that the Phoenix is trying to incubate Jean, to prepare her for a merging, and they’re inside its egg. But before they can do anything, the Phoenix plops down on top of the diner. And man, it is a crazy visual.

Phoenix Resurrection #4

Hell of a visual.

That big panel is, I think, a good example of where this book was at its best. The mundane made unsettling. A flaming hellscape, and a giant firebird sitting atop a totally ordinary diner. It’s weird. It’s not how it’s Supposed To Be. And that makes it creepy, and really cool. And as with the rest of this series, the X-Men side of the story is weak, because of a lack of real emotional weight, while the Jean stuff is totally compelling. All through this issue, her diner uniform is shown as torn, hanging off her, and combined with the town going to hell around her, it really gets across that things are reaching a climax. Things feel more tense than ever. And then that conversation with Annie is just so good. Because it’s another bit of the mundane amidst major drama, and it’s just so quiet, but so meaningful. It’s a phenomenal scene, a real highlight of the whole mini. It’s all about her being groomed by the Phoenix, and whether she’s ready for what it offers. And it’s just a great scene. It makes me wish Rosenberg had brought that same weight to the X-Men sections, because he absolutely did not, and the series suffers for it. But the Jean stuff is excellent. The art’s great, too. Really sells the shitty state of the town. All the fire is creepy. The state of Jean’s outfit is also consistent. The tears stay the same across the panels and pages.

There’s a decision at the end that bugs me, just because of how I feel about a specific thing. I won’t say what it is. But yeah, I’m mildly bitter about it. Still. This issue’s another step up, and I’m interested in the conclusion.

X-Men comics of January 17 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Hey, it’s comics.

X-Men Gold #20, by Marc Guggenheim, Diego Bernard, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit. Storm is wandering through a sandstorm on a planet where she can’t control the weather. Which . . . I don’t know. She’s manipulated weather on alien planets before. She’s manipulated weather in space. Back on the spaceship, Ink finds Kurt, impaled on shrapnel, still alive. And Logan wakes Armour up by slapping her, which she doesn’t appreciate. Kitty and Piotr are outside, in the sandstorm, with Piotr dying. Storm gets to be a badass and take out a monster, and honestly, it’s the best moment she’s had in this entire run, because she gets to make a big dramatic declaration when she does it. There’s some talking, a plan is developed to go home, hurrah, whatever. And Kitty agrees to marry Piotr, because what 20-something girl doesn’t want to marry the guy she had a crush on at 13? Christ, I hate cape comics’ inability to get the hell over the past. Kitty had a thing for Piotr over 30 goddamn years ago, so of course they have to get back together and get married. As for the bulk of the issue: So very, very meh. So boring. I feel like Guggenheim rushed through this. Because the X-Men trapped and separated on an alien planet, trying to find their ways to survive and regroup? It’s a neat idea. It could’ve used more space to breathe. But nope, it’s all rushed through to get back to Earth so Kitty can agree to marry Piotr. As always, the characters have all the personality of cardboard. No character developments. No interesting team dynamics. Armour bitches a bit about Logan hitting her, and that’s about the extent of the character conflict. Aside from Kitty and Piotr, none of the characters in this book matter. And even Piotr only matters in terms of his relationship with Kitty. Everyone else? You could swap them with anyone else and it wouldn’t make a damned bit of difference. Guggenheim sucks. Also? He’s sexist. I just think it’s worth remembering. The art’s fine. It deserves better writing than this dreck. It’s competent art that tells the story as well as it’s allowed to, given the limitations of it being just an obnoxiously dull story.

Weapon X #13, by Greg Pak, Yildiray Cinay, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. The civilians rescued by the Weapon X team find the dead body of a flying woman, and the villagers explain that they’ve been rescued by superheroes before, but it never solves the problem, and the government needs to be overthrown. Warpath is entirely down for that, and I love him for it.

Weapon X #13

Warpath is all about overthrowing the government.

Deathstrike and Logan don’t think they should do it. Domino’s down for it, as long as they rob the national bank in the process. Domino is a delight in this book. Meanwhile, Sabretooth and Nuke blow shit up. Sabretooth rather likes Nuke. Also, Domino flirting with Warpath is fun. This whole comic’s fun. Hilariously violent, between Sabretooth and Nuke. Honestly, their gleeful violence is really entertaining. Domino’s obsession with robbery has also been a great gag throughout this series, and I’m glad she finally got the chance. Warpath’s immediate willingness to overthrow a country’s government seems about right. An oppressed group fighting the government that’s trying to kill them? Yeah, I figure he’s got reason to back that. It’s a cool moment. The art’s good. Cinay’s a talented artist. He and D’Armata make the hyper-violence really enjoyable to watch. So, yeah, this is a really fun comic.

Generation X #86, by Christina Strain, Amilcar Pinna, Felipe Sobreiro, and Clayton Cowles. Jubilee visits Quentin on Krakoa, telling him to let the school be his family. The conversation comes to a halt when Jubilee gets an alert about the school vanishing. Back at the school, Monet chases the kids, until Chamber distracts her. Husk jumps in to help. The fight starts wrecking the school, with Ben taking a chunk of debris to protect Nate. And guys. GUYS.

Generation X #86

YES. FINALLY.

I’m so happy. These two kids have been killing me. Also, Monet is mean about Paige’s accent and I don’t like that. Don’t be such a jerk, Monet. I mean, I love when Monet’s a jerk, but there are things I don’t want her being a jerk about. Paige’s accent is one of those things. Nate also comes up with a plan, and Roxy gets to be a badass. And there is, of course, a big cliffhanger at the end. And I don’t normally like talking about those. But, I think I actually need to talk about it. I’ll give my thoughts on the issue as a whole, first, then put the big spoiler in another paragraph. Sound good? OK. So this is good, as it always is. Strain is such a great character writer. I know a lot of people disliked this book for not having a greater focus on superheroics, but frankly, I think it made for a more enjoyable and more memorable comic. Instead of teens being superheroes, this book was superheroes being teens, and that made it so much better. Let me be blunt: By and large, the superhero stuff isn’t really what’s remembered about books like this. Look at the original Generation X. They did superhero stuff, but Emplate aside, what battles and villains do people really remember about it? Not many. But the Paige/Jono romance? The dynamic between Emma and Sean? The arguments between Jubilee and Monet? People remember that stuff. That’s the stuff that’s important. And that’s what this book focused on. There actually was still superhero stuff going on. But it served as the backdrop for character development, which is how it should be. Strain has filled this book with character development and interesting dynamics and just great character work in general. It’s genuinely impressive, especially since this is her first major comic writing. I really, really hope Marvel’s got more work lined up for her, because she absolutely deserves it. The art is still not my style. It’s personal taste. I suspect Pinna’s art probably did drive away more potential readers than it brought in, which is a shame. It is expressive, and Sobreiro’s colours are great. I just find Pinna’s faces really weird. Long, with huge mouths. Still, I love this series.

And now, the big spoiler-y bit. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want a big spoiler. Seriously, it’s a pretty big deal, so if you want to read it for yourself, then skip ahead now. If you’re still reading this, I assume you’re OK with being spoiled, or have already read the issue. OK? OK. So. Jubilee’s not a vampire any more, and seems to have her sparklies back. Obviously, a lot of people are happy about this. A lot of people never liked Vampilee in the first place. I’m . . . less enthused. I grew up on Jubilee, I’ve always loved her, and I liked her power. I thought it was a cool, fun power. And her becoming a vampire did make me roll my eyes a bit, partly because that whole storyline was pretty badly-written, but also because it felt like a desperate attempt to cash in on the vampire craze. So I didn’t much care for it. But you know what I like even less? Yeah, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. I don’t like regression. I don’t like the constant need to return characters to an older status quo. It feels cheap, and honestly, it feels lazy. Like the only thing anyone can think to do with characters is to repeat what’s already been done with them. I’m even more disappointed because Strain had done such interesting stuff with Jubilee as a vampire. And I would’ve preferred to see more writers doing interesting things with it than to see it reverted so writers can just go back to writing Jubilee as her ’90s self of or something. (I love ’90s Jubilee. Love her. She was the best. I don’t want her written that way again. But I’m worried that the next writer to use her will do that. Let’s just hope Guggenheim doesn’t get his hands on her. He’d probably get rid of Shogo, too.) Still, it’s done now, and even though I think it closes off some potential story options without opening any new ones, we’ll see what happens going forward.

All-New Wolverine #29, by Tom Taylor, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Logan, Sabreooth, and Deathstrike are all apparently dead, having been shot in the head with Muramasa bullets. Muramasa himself collects pieces of the souls of Laura, Gabby, and Daken, to forge an armour for her. And Laura has the best aunt.

All-New Wolverine #29

Best aunt.

Gabby has decided she doesn’t much like pain. A few days later, it’s fight time. The Hand accompanies some of the Orphans of X. Gabby accidentally gets the ashes of a Hand ninja on her tongue, and worries it’ll turn her into an undead ninja, and that seems like a silly concern, but this is the Marvel Universe, so who the hell even knows. And then Laura gets to show off her sweet-ass armour.

All-New Wolverine #29

Shiny!

Also, Daken comes up with a pretty awesome plan, though “awesome” in this case means “pretty damn crazy.” This is great. Laura has the best family. I love them. I even like Daken, in this series, with his willingness to do anything for Laura. Elsewhere, he’s an ass. Here, he’s an ass who cares. Which makes sense to me. He’s a sociopath, but he sees himself in Laura, so it makes him care about her, even though he doesn’t care about anyone else. Laura’s armour is great, and I’d be totally fine with it becoming a recurring thing. I doubt it will, but I’d be happy if it did. This issue does end up being a little more serious. Even Gabby gets tones down compared to normal. Of course, it’s still not particularly dark. There’s still plenty of fun stuff, but it has less humour than usual. Which is fine, it works well for the issue. There’s still a lot to like. The Orphans of X remain pretty interesting. And the art’s great. Very good-looking comic.

There’s also America #11, by Gabby Rivera, Stacey Lee, Flaviano, Jordan Gibson, Chris O’Halloran, and Travis Lanham. And uuuuuunnnnngggghhh, Stacey Lee! So good! The writing is as weak as usual. America herself still sounds wrong. But that Stacey Lee artwork! Worth the cost of the comic. Lee is amazing.

X-Men comics of January 10 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So Stan Lee has been accused of sexually harassing some nurses. So far, the main source of the allegations is the Daily Mail. Which leaves me torn. On the one hand, I believe women. Full stop, I believe women. But I’ll admit that I do hate to believe something coming from the Daily Mail. My first instinct is to wait for a more reputable source to investigate and report. That said, the thing I’m really interested in seeing is whether more women come forward. I wouldn’t be surprised, at all, sadly. If Lee did harass women, I’d hope that, now that an allegation has been made, more will come forward about it. We’ll see. But for now, comics! As usual, I’m sticking to the X-Men comics, because I worked until 11.

X-Men Blue #19, by Cullen Bunn, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Rain Beredo, and Joe Caramagna. The X-Men see themselves fighting Magneto and the Brotherhood, but the Brotherhood looks dead, and Xavier walks into the fight to announce Magneto’s going to die. Then he and the X-Men bodyslide away. Back at the Mansion, Xavier checks on Xavier, comatose in Cerebro. The real X-Men, and Magneto, are semi-safe outside the timestream, to discuss the situation. The X-Men all think that the Evil X-Men are themselves, from further down the timeline. The reveal of who the Evil X-Men are is something that makes sense. I’m not sure how easy it would have been to guess, but once it’s revealed, it’s an “oh yeah” moment. It does make the “did we turn evil?” scene fall a little flatter. But at least they didn’t guess what was going on. Still, on the whole, this arc’s kinda disappointed me. I wonder if this is meant to put further doubts in their minds about whether to work with Magneto. I’d honestly be a little disappointed in that, because the premise had some definite potential, even if it never felt like the series has made much use of that potential. This entire series has felt largely like wasted potential, and this arc has been particularly bad for that. Cool guest stars who get little real exploration. A story that never felt like it was adequately building to anything. The reveal, while it makes sense, doesn’t really do enough to justify all the build-up, I feel. The whole thing just feels unsatisfying, somehow.

X-Men Gold Annual, by Marc Guggenheim, Leah Williams, Alitha Martinez, Craig Yeung, Jay David Ramos, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Cory Petit. The 30th Anniversary of Excalibur! One of the surviving D’Bari, who goes by the name Starhammer, and who’d previously tried to kill Rachel (in UXM #387, an issue I’ve read but have absolutely no recollection of, but a quick check reveals it was Jean he attacked back then). Anyway, he wants revenge. On Earth, a stork shows up with a delivery for Kitty. It’s a letter from Meggan, saying she and Brian just had a daughter. So Kitty, Kurt, and Rachel hop a plane to England. Martinez has loads of fun with the other passengers. In England, Brian has a beard. Also, Maggie is already speaking. And being philosophical.

X-Men Gold Annual #1

She is entirely too young to be making dad jokes.

The fact that everyone just accepts this pleases me, for some reason. Like, “Eh, talking babies isn’t the weirdest thing we’ve seen. Literally all of us have come back from death at least once.” Anyway, Starhammer attacks, and the fight does give us some pretty great lines.

X-Men Gold Annual #1

Brian’s sigh absolutely makes this panel.

Dammit, Kitty. Brian’s reaction is for all of us. Everyone who saw the joke coming, and were powerless to stop it. Just wonderful.

X-Men Gold Annual #1

I love comics.

Anyway, more fighting, some inter-dimensional stuff, Maggie not wanting Brian’s help with a gluon inhibitor. It’s a fun story. Captures the tone of Excalibur – madcap, but just rolling with it. There’s all sorts of dumb jokes, but there’s some nice moments, too. The sense of family between the two of them comes through. There’s a lotta love. One thing I want to note: I expected the story to do something with Maggie talking being strange. But nope. There’s absolutely nothing up with her. She’s just a three-month-old who’s already speaking, and also shares her father’s engineering talents. Why? Well, why not? Just look at who her parents are. The art’s good. Martinez is a talented artist. She does especially well with quieter stuff, but the action isn’t exactly lacking. Good colours, too. But hey, there’s also a back-up! By Monty Nero, Djibril Morissette-Phan, Michael Garland, and Cory Petit. A young girl is visiting her aunt in New York, and the girl wants to meet Storm. She loves the X-Men, and especially Storm. Girl’s got good taste. Kitty, Storm, Colossus, Armour, and Ink are fighting Fin Fang Foom. Randomly. Fin Fang Foom has popped up a lot in recent years. The girl’s too late to meet the X-Men there, so she tries the Mansion. And absolutely destroys Anole.

X-Men Gold Annual #1

That is COLD, girl!

The girl does, of course, get to meet Storm eventually. It’s sweet. It’s a cute story about a girl who loves the X-Men. A reminder that there actually are regular people who are totally OK with mutants. Something we still don’t see enough of. Beyond that, it’s just a cute story about a kid meeting her idol. And also, how her enthusiasm is infectious enough to catch her aunt up in it and see what the appeal is. It’s also the most brutal slam on Anole ever, and it’s just too brutal for me not to laugh at it. Poor Anole!

Phoenix: Resurrection #3, by Matthew Rosenberg, Joe Bennett, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham. Jean dreams of the space shuttle crashing in Jamaica Bay, and of drowning, then wakes up in the supermarket, surrounded by more dead people. Like Gateway, and what looks like Psylocke’s original body, and I’m not completely sure who else. Out on Jamaica Bay, a father and son are fishing, and a whole bunch of dead fish float to the surface, followed by a flame funnel. The X-Men go check out Cockrum Hill Cemetery, and yay for that reference! They find Jean’s body missing. To be fair, her tombstone reads, “She will rise again.” So. In the fake world, Jean takes her car to the shop, with Mr. Patch as the mechanic. He hits on her, and she shoves him away. Good. This is how it should be. Rosenberg gets it. She even impales him with a screwdriver! Back in the real world, Kitty takes a team to get Emma to run Cerebro. Emma doesn’t bother. She just points them at New Mexico. This is getting better. The Jean stuff remains the highlight. It’s getting weirder and more unsettling. But the X-Men stuff has more emotional depth than the first two issues did. In particular, there’s a moment where Dani asks why Hank talks about “it” instead of “her,” and Hank reminds her that Jean was one of his best friends. Of course, Dani even being there, while appreciated, does bring back my point from last issue: The story is dragged down by not putting more focus on a core set of characters who can show their emotional reactions to Jean’s return. I stand by that criticism, and I feel it continues to drag this book down. On the plus side, Emma is wonderfully Emma. The art’s good. I do find Bennett draws people with weirdly large eyes. It makes them look permanently surprised. Some of them, anyway. His Emma looks good. Anyway, despite my complaints, this is an enjoyable comic, and this is the best issue yet.

Cable #153, by Ed Brisson, Jon Malin, Jesus Aburtov, and Travis Lanham. It opens on a flashback in the 5300s, of Gideon returning to life, in a wasteland future. He finds the X-Mansion, and Cable’s arm. In the present, Cable’s team is being psychically overwhelmed. Doop erects a shield just long enough for the team to fight free. But then the base self-destructs. And Gideon confronts Selene and the other Externals. It goes poorly for Selene. Good issue. The fighting’s fun, there’s a cool Armour moment, Selene vs. Gideon is enjoyable. My one complaint about this whole arc is Blink having no personality in it. She’s Selene’s personal chauffeur. It does amuse me that Brisson and Malin brought back the Externals just to kill them all off again. By the end of this issue, only three are left. Well, 4. The last one isn’t named, but I would guess they mean Apocalypse. This isn’t some great story being told, but it’s a fun ’90s-style action-fest, and it’s good for what it is. Though the art is going to be divisive. Some people won’t be able to stand it, some people will absolutely love it.

Old Man Logan #33, by Ed Brisson, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, Cory Petit. It starts with a flashback to when Logan and Mariko met, and he gave her a flower. Aw man. That was so nice, back in the day. I really did like their romance. Anyway, in the present, she tries to kill him. Can’t blame her. He escapes, and meets up with the Silver Samurai. The douchey young one who was almost killed earlier in the arc. Shingen tells Logan the drug breaks down and kills its hosts, but it takes a while, and Logan comes up with a plan. Which is then executed successfully. This issue’s OK. Wrapped up the Yashida Takeover plot real quick. But the big thing here is Mariko’s resurrection. She was always Logan’s best love interest, his real True Love. (Though she made a cuter couple with Mary Jane.) It will be interesting to see where that goes. If she stays alive, or dies again. (I’d like to think they wouldn’t just fridge her all over again. But I wouldn’t really be surprised if it happens. Maybe letting her go out more heroically, as a way of “making up” for her first death. Not that it would actually make it much better, of course.) If she does stay alive, will she and Logan get back together right away, or will she say she needs to go find out who she is, by herself? Honestly, I’m wary of any of these options. Mariko dying again is just fridging her again, and is kinda gross. But keeping her alive means an eternal Will-They-Won’t-They situation between her and Logan. There would always be that expectation that they’ll get back together, and it would only be a matter of time before a writer had it happen. But if they get together, it’d only be a matter of time before a writer broke them up. I feel like there’s no really good options here. But hey, we’ll see. No matter what happens, I know one thing: I still hate Deodato’s art.

. . . Screw it, I’ll still review more comics.

Ms. Marvel #26, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna. Zoe discovers the true meaning of CrossFit: Punching dinosaurs. Not well, but still. Also, she’s very clever. Also, Naftali’s uncle might be putting Kamala’s secret identity at risk. And Harold is a badass old guy. The issue’s great. This is classic Ms. Marvel. Really fun, really funny, really sincere. This issue’s mostly about Zoe being awesome. Really awesome. She’s brave and noble and maybe doesn’t think things through as thoroughly as she should, but she’s trying. I love Zoe. And I love this book. And I love the art. Leon brings so much charm and character, and conveys so much humour. And Herring continued to be an unsung hero on this book. Phenomenal job on the colours, always. But issues like this really are why I love this series so much.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #28, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Squirrel Girl and Loki vs. Dormammu! And they win with GODDAMN GHOST SQUIRRELS. YES. This is a good comic.

She-Hulk #161, by Mariko Tamaki, Jahnoy Lindsay, Federico Blee, and Travis Lanham. It’s a good issue. Jen vs. Robyn. Hulk vs. Hulk. And Jen vs. Herself. Really good stuff.

X-Men comics of January 3 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Happy New Year! Saladin Ahmed is writing Exiles! With Blink, a chibi version of Wolverine, and a grizzled old vet version of Kamala Khan. I am excited. Ahmed is doing amazing work on Black Bolt (which I picked up this week but haven’t read yet), so I am totally down for this. Anyway, comics!

X-Men Gold #19, by Marc Guggenheim (the sexist hack), Diego Bernard, JP Mayer, Chris Sotomayor, and Cory Petit. X-Men vs. a god. And Logan vs. Gay Nazi Monster. That one ends with claws through the head, so I’m pretty sure the evil gay monster is dead. The god is tougher, but a reasonably cool plan is hatched and succeeds. And I don’t care about any of it, because Guggenheim gives no particular reason to care about any of it. It’s Grim People Talking Grimly About Grim Things. Yippee. Character development? What’s that? Why would anyone want to read about interpersonal conflict when they can read Ink saying the giant looks tough? Thrilling! Guggenheim sucks. He’s just a boring writer. Bland stories told blandly, with characters talking about the plot without actually providing any real insight into their personalities, and certainly not contributing to any interesting relationship dynamics or personal developments. Guggenheim fails to give the reader a reason to actually give a shit, beyond showing them familiar characters. But that’s boring. Yeah, I love Armour, but so what that she’s here? I love Armour because of how Whedon developed her over the course of Astonishing X-Men. But here, she’s flat. She’s static. She’s not undergoing any development or changes. She’s just . . . there. The entire cast is just there. The art’s fine. I have no strong emotions one way or the other on the art. With better writing, I might enjoy the art more. With better art . . . I still wouldn’t care about the writing. Because Guggenheim is a goddamn hack.

Astonishing X-Men #7, by Charles Soule, Phil Noto, and Clayton Cowles. Xavier has taken over Fantomex’s body, and wants to be called ‘X.’ He restores Warren’s mind in Archangel’s body, in time for Warren to stop a nuke dropped on London. The dude who ordered to bomb drop is pissed, which makes me wonder if maybe he’s Scottish. “X” psychically shows up, starts removing the psychic infection from London, and knocks out all the dudes in the war room, while also wiping their memories of the X-Men being there. Yep, definitely Xavier in there. He tells the others that Fantomex made the choice to let Xavier take over his body, and Betsy goes to the Astral Plane to check, and finds Fantomex happy. All in all, everything seems to be going quite well, everything’s fine and dandy, no problems on the horizon at all. I will say the end reveal is something I’d already guessed at. Not a surprise at all. Done well, though. I’ll admit to not being a Noto fan. I know, I know. He’s immensely talented. His art’s stylish and cool. But I also find it a bit flat and static. Not very expressive. But it’s just taste. In terms of the story, well, I don’t like “X.” It’s silly to me. But I’ve always found Xavier to be a bit of a dick, and I’d prefer he stay dead. I hope this series ends with him dead again. He works better dead, as a symbol. Also, if Warren’s going to be in control of his body again, I hope he can at least swap back and forth between his Angel and Archangel forms. I’d find that more interesting than just Warren being Archangel again, permanently, until the next time a writer decides to make him Angel again, and so on, and so on, forever and ever, because Big Two comics can never just move the hell on. Warren being permanently Archangel again would just feel like a retread, for the sake of nostalgia, which I hate. But other than all that, this is still pretty good. Soule writes good dialogue. The issue serves as a nice breather between two major threats. So it’s good.

Phoenix Resurrection #2, by Matthew Rosenberg, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham. An astronaut’s working outside a space station and sees a flare on the moon. On Earth, a redhead telekinetically lifts things in her sleep while quoting part of her final speech to Scott on the moon from X-Men #137. As Jean leaves her house the next morning, she says hi to Jamie Madrox. The X-Men debate the return of the Phoenix, and the team’s momentary lack of psychics. Jean gets a new customer named Erik, who mentions being friends with her old teacher, with Jean asking if he means Mr. Claremont, which is a cute bit. Also, Jean asks what he wants to eat, he asks what she’d have if she could have anything, and she says the Lumberjack is her favourite. I don’t know if this is supposed to be teasing her attraction to Logan, but I’m gonna use it as an excuse to post this:

Always take any opportunity to reference that song. Anyway, Cable uses Cerebro, and it almost fries his brain. Back in the afterlife, I think Thunderbird is the diner’s cook, and Annie mentions Dr. MacTaggert, and man, so many dead people in the X-franchise. Also, the X-Men split into teams again to search areas associated with Jean and the Phoenix, with Dazzler, Pixie, Strong Guy, and Shatterstar getting to go into the sewers, which seems mean. Why send Dazzler into a sewer? Also, Strong Guy and Shatterstar both still have their facial hair. They’re dedicated to those looks, I guess. The issue also has a moment where Laura gets to give a nice reminder of how dangerous she is. And Iceman makes a terrible, terrible joke, but also gets a pretty good dig in at Boom-Boom that made me chuckle. I miss their caustic chemistry. Anyway, on the whole, I find this issue uneven. The Jean stuff is fascinating. She’s in an afterlife, full of other dead X-characters, and they’re all living a completely normal life, and it’s nice, but it’s also kinda unsettling. And honestly? I feel bad that the town’s going to have to end. It seems so nice, and Jean seems content there, and everyone else seems happy, but obviously, it won’t last. And that’s sad. Poor Jean, and poor other dead people. The stuff in the real world isn’t as good. A lot of Serious Talk about the situation. And for an issue that’s banking so hard on connecting it to the past, and especially to the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix Sagas, it’d be nice if the story worked harder to provide an emotional connection to that stuff. We see Jamaica Bay, but so what? Aside from Kurt calling it “unnerving,” we get no commentary from any of the X-Men who were in the shuttle crash. Cable’s in the book, but has nothing to say about his kinda-mom. Rachel’s not in the issue, of course, because she was written out last issue by being put in a coma. Which pisses me off. The way writers who use the Phoenix Force seem to feel the need to write around Rachel is annoying, because, like, why not let her play a role? How does that hurt? But I’m having serious problems with the real world portions, because I feel like it would be stronger with a couple of main focus characters to provide a real emotional grounding and connection to what’s going on. Rachel would’ve been pretty perfect for that, honestly, but I think going with Storm, Colossus and Kurt as the focal characters would’ve done wonders, too. They were there when Jean became Phoenix. They were there when she died on the moon. Logan was, too, but this is an older version, so he wouldn’t really fit as well. Regardless, I’m not impressed. Though the art’s great. I really like Pacheco. He does great work. Clean, crisp, expressive, good flow of action, and generally easy on the eyes. And Rachelle’s colours are always on point.

Iceman #9, by Sina Grace, Robert Gill, Ed Tadeo, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino. Bobby invites Judah to Bobby’s going-away party before his move to LA. He also mentions he had a fight with Kitty, and compared her haircut to ’90s-era John Stamos, and it’s supposed to be bad, but I mean, any-era John Stamos is a pretty good comparison, I figure. Meanwhile, Idie and Mikaela, the girl with pointy spit, go clothes-shopping at a thrift store, to find an outfit for the party. They also talk about stuff and it’s a good scene. At the party, there’s lots of conversations. Including Kitty and Bobby arguing more. Kitty doesn’t think Bobby’s making a good decision in moving to LA, and doubts his motivations. Rictor hits on Bobby. And, of course, Daken and Zach show up and ruin the whole thing, along with Purifiers. And Daken uses his rapey pheromone powers on Judah, because Daken’s awful. He really is awful here. He’s a monster. He talks about the Apocalypse Seed in him, so I don’t know if that makes him worse than he’s recently been. Or maybe he can only be less awful when Laura’s around. Either way, he’s incredibly terrible here. Just a complete monster. It makes him less interesting and less entertaining, if I’m honest. Reminds me why I don’t like the character. The party is fun. Lots of fun stuff in it. I enjoy casual stuff like that. I wouldn’t have minded more of it. The art’s fine. I have no strong opinions on it.

Rogue & Gambit #1, by Kelly Thompson, Pere Perez, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. In a Latin American country, three people on the run get attacked. At the Mansion, Gambit insists on calling Ororo “Stormy,” which I love, and joins Rogue in a Danger Room scenario with old-school Sentinels, along with Psylocke, Pixie, and Armour. Pixie is a Rogue/Gambit shipper. Gambit really wants to get back with Rogue, she doesn’t want to repeat the past. Kitty has a mission for Rogue involving mutants vanishing. She wants Rogue and Gambit to pose as a couple in order to get in. And on the flight, Rogue implies Deadpool is a better kisser than Gambit. Wow. On the island, they get a great room, with super-friendly neighbours that make Rogue instantly suspicious. Which entertains me. Anyway. I’m split. On the one hand, I hate nostalgia. I hate the way Marvel, and especially the X-Men, keeps retreading the past. I think it’s not just a mistake, it’s dangerous. So I have an objection to the entire premise of the series. On the other hand, Kelly Thompson’s a phenomenal writer. And she does great work here. She does a great job at capturing two a pair of exes who have different views on their relationship. Gambit is stuck in the past. He’s not able to move past her. Rogue has moved on, but she can’t entirely shake her feelings for him, and she always has to force herself not to let his charm work on her. I’m hoping it doesn’t end with them back together, or even a tease that they could get back together. I’d much rather it end with Rogue telling Gambit it’s over and that he needs to move on. I’d be fine with Gambit not being able to move on, but I want it clear that Rogue has. We’ll see how it goes. Regardless, Thompson’s great. The art’s great, too. Bright and full of energy, and nails the tension between them. It does a lot to create the tone of the story. So it’s a charming comic, lots of fun, and worth reading, my hatred of nostalgia notwithstanding.

X-Men Grand Design #2, by Ed Piskor. You know what? It’s 3:30 am, and I work at 11:30, I need to go to bed, so I’m not going to talk about this one. It’s probably really cool and interesting and probably worth picking up.

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