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X-Men comics of March 22 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Comics!

Extraordinary X-Men #20, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez, Jay Ramos and Joe Caramagna. All the mutants who’d been staying at X-Haven in Limbo are being taken home. Storm is all emotional about it, and how she can’t believe it’s finally happening, and whatever. Then she asks Jean what her plans are, and that it might be time for a fresh start. Almost like a resurrection right right that’s what she means it’s so clever. No-Girl comes over to let Storm know she’s hearing a call for help, from South Dakota, and Logan and Forge take Jean, Anole and Glob to check it out. They get attacked by Wild Sentinels. Once they’re taken out, they find Cerebra’s head in a barn. No-Girl decides to give Cerebra her own future robot body, and go back to living as a brain in a floating jar. Because even for brains in jars, status quo is god. And then it ends on a softball game as a sign that the franchise is back to allowing happiness to exist, rather than simply being an unending chain of horrible events that threaten the future of the entirety of the mutant race. By the way, Marvel, can we go more than 5 years without another of those stories? How about just never going back to that well at all? Anyway, as a finale issue, this was . . . honestly kinda lame. It felt weirdly disjointed. And I think a lot of that is a reflection of Lemire trying to balance too many plots throughout the series. So he had to touch on a lot of them, briefly, but none of them were given the room they really needed. Which, again, is a pretty good summation of the series as a whole. So this issue just ends up feeling oddly unsatisfying. Also, it’s just a matter of personal taste, but I’m still not a fan of Ibanez’s art. His faces just look really weird to me. Like I said, though, that’s down to taste, and there’s nothing actually wrong with his work. The colours are good, too. This issue is officially the end of this era, and good riddance to it. It’s an era that will go down as largely forgettable. Not even really interesting enough to be remembered as bad. I mean, I’d like to give my thoughts on the past year or so of X-Men, but I barely remember any of it. So, yeah, I’m just relieved to see this crap end.

That’s the only X-title, but here’s what else I picked up.

Black Panther #12, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Scott Hanna, Laura Martin, Matt Milla and Joe Sabino. Changamire hosts a meeting to decide the future of Wakanda. T’Challa and his advisers meet with the Midnight Angels. There’s a whole lot of debate, about freedom and law and justice and duty. Once they’ve broken for the day, Aneka starts ranting about T’Challa, and it’s honestly kinda fun. She also calls him the Orphan King, in an insulting way, which bothers Changamire’s wife. Turns out, she’s an orphan. Changamire uses Aneka’s mistake as a teaching moment. I like Changamire. The guy never stops thinking, and he can’t turn off the teacher in him, and it’s really cool. He and his wife remind her of what T’Challa’s lost, and how much he’s been hurt. Meanwhile, T’Challa has a war meeting about Zenzi, then talks to Shuri, and says he never should have left her when Thanos attacked Wakanda, and also confesses to not being a king. And Shuri basically tells him he’s full of shit, and it’s great. At the risk of spoilers: It is decided that Wakanda will become a constitutional monarchy. T’Challa will still be king, but people will elect representatives who will be the main lawmakers. This is pretty much exactly what I was hoping would happen, and exactly what SHOULD have happened. I’ve talked in the past about how I’m not a fan of monarchies. It’s more accurate to say I’m not a fan of dictatorships, and monarchies, traditionally, have been dictatorships. Constitutional monarchies go a long way to limiting that. So, yeah, it’s great to see it go this way. And, of course, the issue also has some fantastic philosophical discussion, excellent characterization, and continues to make Wakanda feel very authentic. (Despite some jackass writing in to complain about the book having LGBTQ+ themes, which he feels is inappropriate in a book based in an African country. Which is a stupid position to take. Wakanda’s meant to be advanced and enlightened, of course they’d be totally fine with gay people, and there’s never been any indication otherwise.) The art, as well, is really good. I’m still loving this book, which is one of the smartest comics on the stands.

Hulk #4, by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Matt Milla and Cory Petit. Jen is thinking about bad days, and Maise’s PTSD from the beating she took a while ago. Maise still isn’t answering her phone. Bradley is still the best assistant. Jen heads out to see Maise, after dealing with a large woman being sued by a furniture store. The woman isn’t in the issue for long, just one page, but I already love her, and she sets a comedic tone for the next few pages as Jen gets to Maise’s building and isn’t particularly impressed. I goddamn love this apartment building. It is weird and creepy and terrifying and amazing. Buuuut then she actually talks to Maise and the feels start. This is a great issue. There’s some great comedy with Maise’s building, and then a cliffhanger that sets up a need for Jen to Hulk out (we don’t actually see her Hulk out yet, though). Jen’s attempt to empathize with Maise, to talk about her own recent trauma, was really good. It was pretty emotional. And it felt, at least to me, like Jen was reaching out to Maise as much for her own sake as for Maise’s. She knows what Maise went through, and wants Maise to know that, but beyond that, Maise knows what Jen went through. The art, as usual, is stellar. Leon gets to stretch his comedic muscles a little. He really does have fun with the apartment building. He gives it such an unsettling atmosphere, and it’s just so strange that you can’t help but laugh. And Jen’s expressions the whole time are priceless. And Milla continues to kill on colours. When the heaviness starts, they lay down some major creepiness. I won’t spoil the moment, but if you read the issue, you’ll know the exact moment I’m talking about. Because damn, those eyes. Hulk is just such a great book. The whole team is doing amazing work.

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #17, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain and Travis Lanham. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing you need to know about this issue.

Moon Girl #17

So cute!

Anyway, Moon Girl’s with the X-Men – Storm, Logan, Forge, Kurt and Colossus – on a trip to White Plains. Forge has some equipment stashed at an old, closed-down mall. She wants to use a Cerebro he kept there, so she can find Doom. Wait, sorry, she’s looking for:

Moon Girl #15

I love that phrasing.

Lunella thinks the Gosh Darn Dr. Doom she encountered is from the past, or an alternate reality, and she can plug the Omni-Wave Generator into Cerebro to scan for him. The plan goes . . . something? The X-Men are changed into their ’80s costumes. Punk Storm! Lunella accidentally teleported them back to the ’80s, when the mall was still active, and fashion was horrible. Yeah, that’s right, ’80s fashion sucked. Anyway, Doom shows up to attack, and during the fight, we get this:

Moon Girl #17

Best Fastball Special ever.

As always, this series is a delight. The X-Men are lots of fun here. Kurt’s written weird, complaining a lot at the start of the issue. But then we get Punk Storm, which was, and will always be, Best Storm. That aside, the main thrust of the issue is for Lunella to learn humility. To learn that she can’t do everything alone, and even that – brilliant as she is – she can still make mistakes. A major complaint about this book is that Lunella is arrogant and bratty. What these people often seem not to grasp is that, uh, yeah, that’s kinda the point, and that moving past that is a big part of her character arc. And it’s being handled really well. As good as the writing is, a lot of praise also needs to be heaped on the art. Bustos and Bonvillain are amazing. Bustos’ lines are so expressive and dynamic and fun. And Bonvillain’s colours are bright and colourful and enhances the lines so well. Bonvillain is a top-notch colour artist, one of the best in the industry right now. And comics are absolutely lousy with amazing colour artists, so that’s saying something. Every month, this comic is a visual treat. Which also has great writing. It’s such a good book. I hope it lasts for years to come.

Ultimates 2 #5, by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Dan Brown and Joe Sabino. First, we get The Life of Philip Vogt. Then, we move onto the fight on Taa II, between the Ultimates and the Troubleshooters. T’Challa, in nothing but a speedo, defeats Kathy Ling in her telekinetically-animated armour. Because he is legitimately that awesome. Monica frees herself from Terry Jessup’s mind control, by, uh . . . this.

Ultimates 2 #5

That’s a new look.

She also takes out Indigo, who’d been keeping Carol busy, and asks if she gets to be Captain Marvel again. That just leaves Tensen. And America lays out why she doesn’t give a damn about his concerns, because she and her team have a damn job to do. It’s pretty awesome. She also mentions that she’s met quite a few Tensens over the years. Of course, with Tensen defeated, there is still the matter of Rodstvow. This issue is great, as the Ultimates get to show off their skills. T’Challa shows off his fighting skills, and Monica shows off her cleverness and willpower. America shows why she’s the boss, by tearing through Tensen’s defences with force and words. We do also get more development on the Eternity In Chains plot, including finding out who’s responsible. And it’s one hell of a reveal. I won’t spoil it, but . . . yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This issue sets up one hell of a conflict for the next issue. Ewing is still throwing around all sorts of big awesome concepts, while providing an emotional grounding through quieter character stuff (even amidst the big fights). The art is great. Foreman and Brown do weird really well. They really capture “forces beyond our understanding.” So it’s trippy and weird and just the right kind of disturbing. Great book.

Jem & the Misfits #3, by Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell (guest writer woot!), Jenn St. Onge, M. Victoria Robado and Shawn Lee. This issue: Blaze! The Misfits finish a rehearsal, and Blaze quickly leaves, to go to another, secret rehearsal with another, secret band. Gasp! Blaze is torn between two bands! Then, a flashback, to 7 years ago, when she and a friend went to see a singer, and Blaze decided she wanted to be a singer. Also, she liked country. Nope, that’s it, sorry, I don’t like Blaze any more. She’s a country fan, that’s my line in the sand. In the present, Blaze goes to the grocery store, and meets the singer who inspired her, Luna Dark. And Blaze is adorably flustered about meeting her. It’s so cute. Blaze is the best. And this issue’s great. Fun and full of feels and it demonstrates, once again, that Pizzazz is a sweetheart who cares about her friends. And Blaze is almost as cute as Stormer, and her complete and total lack of cool when she meets her idol is the most delightful thing. And the art is gorgeous and fun. The Jem comics are so good. Better than they have any right to be, honestly. You owe it to yourself to read them, because they are among the best comics coming out.

Pull List for March 22 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Ever wonder why Wednesday is comic day? Doesn’t matter, it is.

I’ll go to the store for: Black Panther #12, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Scott Hanna, Laura Martin, Matt Milla and Joe Sabino; Hulk #4, by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Matt Milla and Cory Petit; Jem & the Misfits #3, by Kelly Thompson and Jenn St. Onge; Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #17, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain and Travis Lanham; My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #52, by James Asmus and Tony Fleecs; Ultimates 2 #5, by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman and Dan Brown.

I’ll also review: Extraordinary X-Men #20, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez, Jay Ramos and Joe Caramagna.

So that’s 6 comics I’m picking up, and one additional review. Not too bad.

And there’s some good stuff. Black Panther is the culmination of a year of storytelling. It’s all built to this issue. We’re gonna have us a big debate about philosophy and governance, folks! Woot! I love that shit in superhero comics, I genuinely do. Hulk’s been a fantastic slow burn series, with some stellar character drama. Lots of feels. The current Jem series is legit one of the best comics coming out, and that includes the current Misfits mini, which has the incredible (and Canadian!) Jenn St. Onge on art. Moon Girl’s always a delight, and this issue will have her teaming with the X-Men, so yay for that, two things I love in one comic. And Ultimates 2 is great high-concept stuff that still has compelling character work going on. So, yeah, lots of good stuff.

June solicits came out. My pull list for that month: Avengers #8, Black Bolt #2, Hawkeye #7, Spider-Man/Deadpool #18, Unstoppable Wasp #6, All-New Wolverine #21, Black Panther & the Crew #3, Generation X #3, Hulk #7, Ms. Marvel #19, Squirrel Girl #21, America #4, Luke Cage #2, USAvengers #7, Ultimates 2 #8, Black Panther #15, Moon Girl #20, Occupy Avengers #8, Captain Marvel #6. 19 comics. My Marvel list will be shrinking a bit that month.

Iron Fist was released on Netflix on Friday. I’m not watching it. I’ll probably watch it in a few months. I decided I didn’t want to watch it when it first came out, because I do still think it was a mistake for them to cast a white lead. That decision plays into long-term trends of cultural appropriation that really need to stop, so I decided not to support it. From what I’ve read, I’m not missing much, anyway. I’m seeing a lot of people saying the show is pretty meh. And I gotta say: I’m betting the show would have been a lot better with an Asian-American Danny Rand. It would have meant some changes to the narrative, and those changes likely would’ve made for a more interesting show. At the very least, casting someone like Lewis Tan in the lead would have meant having a lead who actually knows kung fu, and could bring a greater authenticity to that. Better fight scenes.

Speaking of Asian-American Iron Fist, though, something cool happened a couple days ago. Kris Anka posted a design for an Asian-American Danny Rand. It was a cool design. And Paulina Ganucheau posted a design for an Asian-American Dani Rand, a female version. Also a great design. And then pretty much everyone made their own sketches based on the two designs. It was pretty great.

I’m still playing Avengers Academy. I’ve unlocked Ms. Marvel! And Moon Girl! And I paid money to get Angela because I’m weak and I really dig Angela! I feel horrible about spending money on the game, though. I really do. I feel dirty. Also, I want to note that I am almost offended at how adorable the Wasp is in that game. It’s a take on Janet where she is just so bubbly and happy and friendly and cute. And it’s unfair.

On Monday, I worked at 7 am. After going to sleep at 4:30 am. I am terrible at adulting.

Oh, a couple Kickstarters to note. Dates!: An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction, Vol.2. The first volume of Dates! was great. The idea is to tell historical fiction with queer characters who get to be happy. So it’s really positive, and gets great creators involved, and it’s worth supporting. Fresh Romance Vol. 2 and Verona. Fresh Romance is an anthology of romance comics, and again, the first volume was really good, so the second volume’s worth checking out. Verona is a graphic novel the publisher’s releasing, which seems to be somewhat based on Romeo & Juliet. And Bingo Love, by Tee Franklin, Jenn St. Onge, Joy San and Cardinal Rae (and edited by Erica Schultz). A comic about two queer black girls, written by a queer black woman. And supported by, uh, kinda everyone in comics? Gail Simone is a huge pusher of Franklin, Marguerite Bennett will contribute a short story if enough money is raised, there’s variant covers by Nilah Magruder, Carla Speed McNeil and Genevieve Eft, Skype sessions were offered by Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando (and Gail Simone), script reviews by Al Ewing and Kelly Sue DeConnick, commissions by Ariela Kristantina, Benjamin Dewey and Asia Kendrick-Horton. Seriously, the number of creators involved in this, or just backing it, is insane. With the amount of talent supporting this book, there’s pretty much no way it won’t be great. And, you know, diversity’s great. We need diverse books, we need diverse creators. We need these stories being told. So you should definitely back it.

And that’s it for this week.

New Mutants #74 (1989, April)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Simonson, Blevins, Wiacek, Wright and Rosen, “The Right Stuff.”

The Right Stuff

Honestly, not sure if she’s worth it.

Sam’s flying with Skids and Rusty, as they note how few people were injured during Inferno, and how people already seem to be forgetting it. They get dive-bombed by a garbage can, so we can see that there’s still a little residual demon energy. Meanwhile, at the church, some of the other Mutants and X-Terminators are stuck dealing with a baker’s dozen babies.

New Mutants #74

Babies: Worse than demons.

And Boom-Boom just casually insulting Taki. Come on, Boom-Boom, show a little more tact. Also, Rictor does the impossible and stops Boom-Boom before she blows something up. Specifically, a demonic boombox. I find that hilarious. No one ever manages to stop Boom-Boom from blowing anything up. Even when she announces her intention to do it. “Imma blow up the thing.” “Don’t blow up the thing.” *blows up the thing* “If only we could have stopped you from blowing up the thing.” But when it’s a boombox? Rictor turns into the goddamn Flash to stop her. He shakes the demonism out of it, so they can have music.

Everyone else gets back, with Dani feeling really poorly. You know, she should probably get checked out for a possible concussion. Boom-Boom turns the boombox to a radio station, which is obviously talking about Inferno, but then also brings up Lila Cheney, which makes Sam sad. Poor Sam. Don’t worry, Sam, she’s OK, she just ghosted you for some reason. I’m still annoyed we never learned why she did that. Rahne even points out that Lila can only teleport places she’s been, so either she’s been to that sun, or she took them somewhere else. Which might be the result of Simonson being reminded that that’s how her power works. Anyway, Gosamyr is scared of turning out like her parents, and wonders if she really can become something she’s not. It’s actually kinda sad.

Over at the Hellfire Club, Shaw and Magneto are shirtless in the bathroom. Why not, I suppose. They argue with each other. Shaw thinks Magneto’s an idiot for wanting to control the world through physical force, Magneto thinks Shaw’s a douche for being so worried about economics. Magneto also says that he sees big changes coming that will put mutants’ freedom at risk. Apparently, this was setting up something called the Mutant Wars, a big storyline that never ended up happening.

Meanwhile, Rictor calls Ship to send a plane to pick them all up. Ship says it can only allow mutants to enter. It finds something weird about Illyana, but lets her in, though she’s not happy about the scans it does.

New Mutants #74

Adorable.

Next up is Warlock. Ship is pretty much ready to kill him, but Warlock says she doesn’t share his race’s desire for power. Which he proves by turning into Roger Rabbit. And Ship knows exactly how to deal with Roger Rabbit.

New Mutants #74

Of course Ship watches cartoons.

That just leaves Gosamyr. That one goes, uh, less well. Ship immediately puts her in a jar and says she needs to be destroyed. So the Mutants and X-Terminators have to defend her from Ship while trying to explain that she’s fine. Also, Bobby is ready to deck Rictor for looking at her, which Gosamyr says is proof of her own danger. Ship explains that something about the females of her race that makes people crazy. Then, at some point, she’ll change into a monster that can destroy a solar system.

Dani rather rudely interrupts all this to collapse while screaming about death.

New Mutants #74

This is basically me, every time I open Twitter.

Gosamyr is convinced she’s the cause of Dani’s death visions, and decides to leave, alone. Ship says she has records of a planet of mystics that might be able to help her, if they’re still around.

New Mutants #74

I appreciate Roberto’s honesty.

That is a pretty great moment. The other 3 guys are all trying to find justifications to go with her, while Bobby doesn’t even bother. “It’s my responsibility to stay with Gosamyr, even if it means the two of us being alone together in cramped spaces, which is a sacrifice I’m willing-” “I wanna have sex with her.” There is something to be said for honesty. Ship gives Gosamyr a ship so she can leave before the guys fight even more. She kisses Bobbi and Sam goodbye, while Boom-Boom tells Rusty and Rictor they hardly even know her so don’t get kisses. This is fair, I think.

At the Hellfire Club, Magneto and Emma talk about the future of the Club, until Selene tells them something’s happened at the school. Back on Ship, the Mutants debate about going back to the school, and to Magneto, with Dani saying they at least owe him an explanation, so they head back, and also learn something’s happened to the school.

This is a bit of an odd issue. It has a bit of a filler feel to it. It’s not really a downtime issue, but it is definitely the book catching its breath and relaxing for an issue. Which makes sense, and it was necessary after Inferno, but it still ends up feeling really odd at times, even for that. This is more-or-less where Boom-Boom, Rictor, Rusty and Skids join the book, with Boom-Boom and Rictor even being in the corner box. The teams don’t officially join here, but there’s definitely a friendship, and there’s consideration of it. What I like, though, is that they do still come across as separate groups. They’re clearly more comfortable with their own groups, than with each other. Which is how it should be. So I like that.

Probably the most important part of the issue, though, was also the most awkward: Gosamyr’s departure. From the time they all arrive on Ship, there’s an awkward swiftness to the script. There’s a certain “and then this happens, and then this happens,” quality to it. It reaches its peak with Gosamyr, which is just too fast-paced a scene to be really effective on an emotional level. Of course, it doesn’t help that Gosamyr wasn’t a great character in the first place. So her departure, rather than being sad, is just a relief. I do think it’s a shame she was never seen or even referenced again. I think it would have been worth following up on, at some point, years later. There’s still time. Ewing loves his obscure continuity, and he’s got a couple New Mutants over in USAvengers, so he could always toss in a Gosamyr reference. I doubt he will, but if anyone would do it, it’s definitely Ewing.

Blevins’ art is still the kind of thing that will be divisive, but which I enjoy. I like the cartoonishness of it. It gives the book a unique, and fun, vibe to it. Wright’s colours are good. He was no Oliver, but so few were, and it’s probably not fair to judge him by that standard. He sill did great work. The colours pop as much as the printing technology of the time allowed. He actually might fit Blevins’ lines better than Oliver, truthfully.

So while this issue is a bit of a let-down after Inferno, it’s still pretty good.

As an aside, I briefly mentioned Mutant Wars earlier. There’s a whole big write-up of it over at Secrets of the X-Men. There’s going to be lots of vague references to it over the next couple years of X-Men comics, until Claremont and Simonson’s departure from the franchise. I probably won’t comment on most of these references, but it’s really interesting stuff, so you should read the write-up.

X-Men comics of March 15 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Let me start by saying Brian Bendis is an asshole and he can fuck right off. I’ll explain below, and will talk about it at length on Tuesday. But for now, comics.

Uncanny X-Men #19, by Cullen Bunn, Edgar Salazar, Ed Tadeo, Ulises Arreola and Joe Caramagna. Psylocke goes to Magneto’s Savage Land base, in order to kill him. For his part in Emma’s attack on the Inhumans, and because she thinks the world will be better off without him. Magneto blows the base up with Psylocke inside. Psylocke’s counter is way better, though:

Uncanny X-Men #20

Honestly, it’s hard to top “sudden T-Rex attack.”

They debate Magneto’s actions a little. Mystique gives a quick run-down on the status of the rest of the team. Fun fact: A solid chunk of the team will be in Astonishing X-Men. Psylocke, Mystique, Fantomex and Archangel will all be in it. So Psylocke’s run-down is kinda funny. Anyway, the debate’s good, and the way Psylocke wins the physical fight is awesome. This issue’s actually a pretty good display of just how dangrous Psylocke is, even if it does require Magneto to be uncharacteristically stupid. He underestimates her in a way he probably shouldn’t have. But still, it’s a cool fight, with a really good debate between them, and some really good art. A lot of double-page layouts. Not spreads, just lots of panels crossing pages. It’s actually something I tend to enjoy. It’s a good use of space. As for the art itself, well, the T-Rex attacking Magneto tells you all you need to know, really. It’s really good art. Lines, inks and colours, all great. This is a really good final issue, of a run I found very uneven. On the whole, I think I’d say the issues that don’t have Land art are worth reading. The issues where Land is on art also had what I felt was the weakest writing. But this issue has really strong writing, so yay.

That’s the only X-title, but here’s the other stuff I read.

Ms. Marvel #16, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring and Joe Caramagna. It starts with the origin of the Doc.X virus. A programmer for Battlecraft Studios made it as a social experiment, something that would spread from computer to computer and could be used to model all sorts of things. In the now, the virus is in Kamala’s phone, threatening her. He says that if she doesn’t do what he says, he’ll reveal to Coles High School that Zoe’s in love with Nakia. Kamala’s initially sceptical, and then realises it’s true, and it’s actually pretty funny. He sends her to SHIELD HQ to upload him into their systems. She’s about to do it, but realizes she can’t, because it’s not what heroes do. So she goes to talk to Zoe, and it’s a great scene that really highlights how strong Zoe is. This is a really good issue. Ms. Marvel’s fear about what Doc.X might do to her, and to Zoe, is really good, and her realization that se can’t go along with what it wants is nice. But Zoe steals the issue. Her scene with Ms. Marvel is great, and she also has a scene with Nakia, and man, Zoe’s so great. Such a great character. So good and strong. I’m going to keep rooting for her. I want her to be happy. I’ll be honest, I want a spin-off that follows Ms. Marvel’s supporting characters, because they’re all so great. The art is great, as it always is. Miyazawa’s a great fit for this series. I love Miyazawa’s style. It’s so good. And Herring’s colours are perfect. The man’s a genius. This series is still a must-read. If you lost some interest with the CWII arc, it’s gotten back to being as strong as ever.

Patsy Walker aka Hellcat #16, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Rachelle Rosenberg and Clayton Cowles. The building Patsy’s office is in is gone. Sharon is not taking it well. Then Patsy sneezes again, and in Hedy’s apartment, her little dog turns into Mr. Sniffles. Hedy calls Patsy, and the ringtone is “Cool For the Summer” by Demi Lovato. Honestly, Patsy’s assorted ringtones are one of my favourite parts of this book. They’re seldom songs I enjoy, but the fact that it’s a different song each time is cool. So the group – Patsy, Sharon, Jubilee and America – head to Hedy’s, and find Belial there. Remember him, the demon from a couple arcs ago? Turns out, Hedy and Belial are dating now. Patsy reacts with her characteristic calm. Meaning lots of screaming. Which is hilarious. There’s also a flashback to Daimon confronting Hedy about manipulating him and Mad Dog, and saying she turned them into “patsies.” Ha. Even Patsy actually finds it funny. Anyway, Daimon sent Hedy to Hell, where she met Belial, and the two hit it off. And Belial reveals that Patsy’s suffering a pan-dimensional stress flu. So now she has to deal with that, and especially the stress part. This is a great issue. It is, sadly, the penultimate issue. Next is the finale. Which is sad, because this series has been so wonderful. But sticking to this issue, it’s great. So much fun. There’s a lot of great comedy in the issue. But there’s also a lot of heart, as the issue goes deep into Patsy’s increasing stress throughout the series. It’s really good stuff, and a reminder of how important it is to just talk shit out once in a while. So it’s just a really nice comic. Funny, but also heartfelt. And adorable, of course. Williams and Rosenberg are great. Williams’ art is the cutest. And really expressive, which works especially well for this issue, which relies pretty heavily on facial expressions to work. There’s a lot of silent panels, where characters simply react to something somebody said, and the comedy is conveyed through their facial expressions and body language. And Williams nails it every time. Rosenberg’s bright colours really do a lot to enhance Williams’ lines, as well. This is a great issue, of a great little series.

USAvengers #4, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov and Joe Caramagna. A SHIELD plane is flying over Lichtenbad. An editorial note reminds us it’s from Daredevil #9. The original Daredevil #9. From the ’60s. Ewing loves classic continuity. General Maverick’s been sent there by Roberto, in order to subdue American Kaiju, who’s gone rabid and is causing problems. Maverick’s attacked by Dedd-Puul, a Frankenstein-ed version of Deadpool. He was sent in to find a mad scientist, Victor Vandoom. But the scientists injected him with a serum that made him a monster. And Vandoom was being helped by Todd Ziller. Ziller wants to be turned back into American Kaiju. This issue is an odd one. I didn’t really dig it that much. It’s a callback love-letter to classic monster comics, with multiple covers inside the issue, with poetic narration boxes, and with American Kaiju. The characters are pretty flat and one-dimensional, and while that’s obviously meant to be part of the joke, it does feel like it drags the issue down. I’ll grant that Deadpool’s pretty funny in it, and Vandoom has his moments. But for the most part, I just couldn’t get into this issue. A little too much winking at the reader. Too much referential humour. It just didn’t work for me. Good art, though. The art team is still tops at what they do, and they make some sweet-looking monsters and mayhem.

Black Panther World of Wakanda #5, by Roxane Gay, Alitha Martinez, Roberto Poggi, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Sabino. Folami gives Aneka a tablet, and tells her to turn it on in two hours. That’s when Folami makes her attempt on Ayo’s life. It, uh, it doesn’t go well for Folami. She ends up stabbed in the eye. Ayo’s pretty awesome. Then that brings us up to where we met them in Black Panther #1, with Ayo defending Aneka to the Queen-Mother.  Mistress Zola is told about reports coming in from all over Wakanda, from women asking for help. Zola agrees to send a few Dora Milaje out to the three main trouble spots, to deal with the troubles. Zola also slips Ayo a key to the armory, so she can steal the Midnight Angel armour. This finale’s pretty meh. The whole story was, to be honest. I enjoyed it, mostly, but it’s very clear that Gay’s not used to comics. She has a tendency to be too brief and to-the-point, in a way that doesn’t really benefit the story. Lines that are a little too on-the-nose, or scenes that play out too quickly. I think maybe she had too much she wanted to cover, and the story suffered for it, and she should have cut out some content in order expand other bits. In this issue, for example, the confrontation between Zola and Folami is way too rushed. And the first page, where Folami gives Aneka the tablet, is incredibly awkward. So I’m thinking the previous issue should’ve had Folami give Aneka the tablet, and this would open with Folami on her way to attack Ayo, freeing up an extra page for the Folami/Zola confrontation. Just off the top of my head. But yeah, this was a story with definite problems. Nice art, though.

I didn’t read it, but Hannah Blumenreich had a story in Amazing Spider-Man #25, and Blumenreich’s Spidey fancomics are delightful. So that’s great.

And finally: Fuck Brian Bendis. Some brief comments on Guardians of the Galaxy #18. Angela returns to the apartment she shared with Sera, but some new guy’s moved in, and there’s no sign of Sera. And . . . that’s it. Where did she go? Who knows! Why did she leave? Who knows! What does it mean for Angela and Sera’s relationship? Who knows! None of this is anything Bendis ever gave one wet hot shit about, so why would he actually show an interest in it now? So, after three years of pretending Sera doesn’t exist, Bendis had her actually vanish. And fuck that noise. This is just so frigging pointless. It honestly feels petty. Like he got tired of people asking him about Sera, so he threw this in just to spite them. “Oh, you want to know where Sera is? She’s gone! Are you happy now! Haha, that’s what you get for wanting to know where this character’s lover is! How silly you were for asking about the status of one of Marvel’s only two trans characters! You losers!” That is genuinely how this comes across, because I can’t see any reason for it beyond pissing people off. People who didn’t read Queen of Hel have no context to care about Sera being missing, and Queen of Hel fans are just going to be pissed at Sera getting mentioned solely so she could be shown as gone. And given we haven’t even had a hint of a possible announcement regarding where Angela will be showing up after this, we’re left with no idea whether this story will ever actually be picked back up. So, fuck Brian Bendis. I’ll talk about this more in my next pull list post, where I will make the case that Bendis is a homophobic asshole. So look forward to that.

Pull List for March 15 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Comics tomorrow, woot.

I’ll go to the store for: Black Panther World of Wakanda #5, by Roxane Gay, Alitha Martinez, Roberto Poggi, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Sabino; Mirror #6, by Emma Rios and Hwei Lim; Ms. Marvel #16, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring and Joe Caramagna; Patsy Walker aka Hellcat #16, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Rachelle Rosenberg and Clayton Cowles; USAvengers #4, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov and Joe Caramagna.

I’ll also review: Uncanny X-Men #19, by Cullen Bunn, Edgar Salazar, Ed Tadeo, Ulises Arreola and Joe Caramagna.

So only 5 comics I’m picking up, and one additional review. This is a light week.

World of Wakanda’s arc ends, and while I’ve mostly enjoyed the story, it has had plenty of weaknesses. It’s not great, and honestly, I would’ve dropped it pretty quickly if it was a white writer, but I do try to support POC creators, and I enjoyed this just enough to keep picking it up. Ms. Marvel’s always great, of course, and the current arc has been really good. Hellcat’s always adorable fun. USAvengers is Red Hulk vs. American Kaiju. So, you know. American Kaiju. Yes. I love it.

I watched X-Men: Apocalypse. I livetweeted it, and you can read the livetweet here. The short version? It’s not a great movie.  It’s got a lot of problems. Scott’s characterization feels off. He’s occasionally douchey, and not in the way he should be. Jean Grey’s introduction has her come across as an asshole, when she tells Scott, who’s wearing a blindfold, to watch where he’s going, and then never apologizes. Of course, the movie was really about – SHOCK OF FUCKING SHOCKS! – Xavier, Magneto and Mystique. Because we just haven’t gotten enough of those three yet. Holy shit, Fox, there are other X-Men. Not every movie has to be about those three. I am fed up with those three. I want them to die. Just kill all three of those bastards off so they don’t keep getting all the attention in every single goddamn X-Men movie. This movie also continues the X-Men film tradition of problematic racial representation. There are four named POC characters in this film: Apocalypse, Storm, Psylocke and Jubilee. Jubilee is a nothing character. She’s an extra. (There’s a scene where Scott suggests going to the mall, and Jubilee says nothing. That is a terrible take on Jubilee! Jubilee is all about malls! How do you screw up that badly!) Psylocke is another nothing character. Her personality is basically “uses a sword.” She does use a psychic whip when she’s fighting Beast, and it’s pretty awesome, but just the same, she wasn’t a character. She was barely even a fight scene, if we’re honest. There was no reason to have her there beyond her existing in the comics. They could have replaced her easily. Hell, use Senyaka, the shitty Acolyte who used whips. Storm wasn’t much better. She has virtually no personality at any point, and contributes even less to the big battle than Psylocke does. Her role basically came down to looking good. Which she does! She looks so frigging cool. I love the hair. She’s got a bit of a Mohawk going on and I love it. She’s sexy cool and I approve of that. But holy hell, was she ever pointless in the movie.

And that brings us to the last POC: Apocalypse. The big villain. Three of the four POC in the movie are villains, with one (Storm) being redeemed by witnessing the heroism of the white heroes. (OK, fine, three of the heroes were blue. They couldn’t find any room for a black dude, but three blue people? Absolutely! Diversity!) Apocalypse himself is . . . OK. But not great. They paid lip service to his “survival of the fittest,” but mostly, he was there to be a bad guy who wanted to kill people. So he was another disappointment. Like everything in this movie.

There were some parts I liked. Some really cool bits. Quicksilver evacuating the mansion was cool. It makes no sense if you think about it at all, but it’s a great visual. I liked Mystique’s jacket. It’s a sweet-ass jacket. They didn’t kill a black dude in this one, so that’s gotta count for something, right? (I guess they just couldn’t find the room to include a black dude they could kill off.) There were some pretty cool visuals here and there. But for the most part, it was just a bad movie. There was potential. But Fox has no idea how to make ensemble X-Men movies.

I do have some hopes for New Mutants. It’ll be an ensemble that isn’t about Xavier, Magneto and Mystique. Xavier will presumably still be in it, but I’m hoping, praying, that Magneto and Mystique don’t show up for even a single goddamn second of screentime. If they leave out Magneto and Mystique? It’ll actually be a great movie. I’m looking forward to seeing Dani on screen, at least. She’s one of the best characters Marvel has, so awesome, and it’ll be great seeing a young Native American actress get to play a nuanced and badass hero. Make her the lead. New Mutants will be a great movie, as long as they don’t fuck it up entirely by trying to make it an X-Men film.

Anyway! In the Avengers Academy mobile game, I’ve unlocked Moon Girl, and I’ve unlocked Ms. Marvel wooooot! One thing I have to note about Avengers Academy is that Wasp is so adorable it almost makes me angry.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.

Uncanny X-Men #243 (1989, April)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I finally got around to watching X-Men: Apocalypse last night. You can read my collected livetweet here. In short, it was not a good movie. But now, by Claremont, Silvestri, Barta, Oliver and Rosen, “Inferno, Part the Fourth: Ashes!”

Ashes!

Havok’s sexy costume is just too distracting.

Jean is kneeling by Madelyne’s corpse. Aw, Maddie. Inferno’s over. The demons are gone. New York’s back to normal. Iceman promises Jean’s parents they’ll find them some clothes soon. Which is great, when everyone else is angsting. Scott is depressed at Maddie dying, the X-Men are feeling bad about how much Inferno changed them (and they’re all still rocking their Inferno’d looks). And Jean’s parents are still nude. Oh, and Ali’s coping pretty well.

Uncanny X-Men #243

Scott’s crying face makes me giggle.

Jean suddenly freaks out, and Psylocke goes into her head with Scott, Storm and Logan, and they find themselves on the Blue Area of the moon, to see Phoenix’s death. Scott doesn’t understand how Jean can have that memory, since she wasn’t there, but that question is put on hold when Sinister smashes the memory. The four of them travel through the mindscape, seeing various memories, but they’re Maddie’s memories. They do finally reach Jean’s memories, including Xavier’s School, where Maddie is waiting to blast them out of the astral sky. Jean, in her original costume, runs over to check on them. Two powerful minds are warring for control, and Maddie seems to be winning. And they’re all trapped in Jean’s mind with them.

Sinister smashes another memory, which Jean loses. Storm attacks him, ineffectively, but Psylocke’s able to keep him in check. Maddie tells Scott and Logan a little about Sinister, and is also kinda creepy.

Uncanny X-Men #243

The abrupt costume change is a nice touch.

She blames her actions on her creator, and Storm gets pissed at that and gives one hell of a speech.

Uncanny X-Men #243

Storm is good at Tough Love.

Jean says she wanted to be her own woman, and it resulted in Dark Phoenix and the Goblin Queen, and I mean, she’s not exactly wrong, but neither of them were really her. It does make her wonder if she should just let it be ended. Sinister tells her she’s right, and she should give up, and let him reboot her. But Jean’s no more interested in Grim’n’Gritty reboots than the rest of us are. Actually, Sinister made the mistake of offering to control the life of THREE women who are all about NOT letting their lives be controlled. Jean, Phoenix, Madelyne. All three of them are fiercely independent. So Sinister suggesting they let him define them? The single worst thing he could have said. Like, absolutely the worst thing he ever could have said at that moment. “Give up all sense of agency!” Oh hell no! It was the one thing he could have said that would unite all three against him.

Uncanny X-Men #243

That smile. So perfect.

Uncanny X-Men #243

Awesome.

This is a pretty epic rejection. She turns him down so hard his bedroom explodes. The X-Men and X-Factor head to Xavier’s School to confront him. Storm’s glad to see her flowers aren’t there, so they won’t be hurt in the coming confrontation. Aww, Storm really cares about her flowers. Meanwhile, Jean is pissed at Sinister and sympathetic towards Maddie.

Uncanny X-Men #243

Poor Maddie. Also, Jean’s awesome when she’s pissed.

I do love when Jean shows off that hard edge she’s got. For all that she’s kind and sweet and compassionate and nurturing, she can also be a stone-cold badass. She wants Sinister dead. Meanwhile, Beast and Longshot have taken Jean’s grandparents, and little Nathan, to Ship. Longshot’s scared that what N’astirh did to him isn’t gone. In the Morlock tunnels, Alex, Alison, Colossus and Iceman are attacked by Blockbuster, still demonized. He takes down Colossus and Iceman easily, and is about to kill Dazzler, and Havok blows his freaking head off. Cold.

Uncanny X-Men #243

The costume does hurt the moment, though.

He really has changed. He’s a lot colder. It’s creepy but also a little badass. In the hangar, Sabretooth attacks Psylocke, who takes him out before Rogue can step in to help. Psylocke’s awesome. Elsewhere in the mansion, Jean is angry again, at the fact that Sinister’s been all through the house, wrecking it while searching through it. Then Polaris attacks. And Storm beats her by grabbing her and just slamming her into the floor, because Storm is awesome. No wind, no lightning, no powers, just throwing her face to the floor.

Uncanny X-Men #243

Don’t tell Storm what she can’t do.

I love Storm’s smile here. Aside: Was Malice calling Storm gay here? “Butch?” She’s definitely flirting, that’s for sure. But is she saying Storm’s gay? Malice was in Storm’s head, briefly, so she’d know. While the X-Men try to interrogate Malice, the house explodes.  The X-Men are rendered unconscious, but before Sinister can have them killed, Longshot says they’ll have to kill him first.

This is such a great issue. The stuff in the shared memories of Jean, Phoenix and Maddie is really interesting, and really tense, as Sinister tries to kill the combined mind, and four X-Men try to save her. Madelyne’s anger is handled well, and so is Jean’s fear of what people who look like her have done. Both women are sympathetic, and the rejection of Sinister is a great moment. And Jean’s outrage against Sinister, her absolute hatred of him, is so good. It gives a real chill. There’s a sense of barely restrained fury when she speaks about him. And reading this issue, I think it was a mistake to make Sinister more of a Scott antagonist. Jean’s the one he screwed over the most. Of all the X-Men, she should be the one with the greatest grudge against him. We should’ve gotten more stories about that antagonism. Unfortunately, the ’90s focused on the Scott/Sinister dynamic. It sometimes felt like they forgot what Sinister did to Jean and Madelyne. Man, how great would it have been if Jean had a permanent grudge against Sinister? If she got angry at the very mention of his name? If, any time Scott spoke to Sinister, Jean became outraged and yelled at him for it. During the Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, when Jean and Scott went to the past to see Sinister’s origin, Jean could have kept arguing that they should kill him while they have the chance. I would have liked to have seen that.

Anyway! Jean’s great here. So is everyone else. Alex’s willingness to kill is cold. And I love Alison’s reaction to it. She’s so shocked. An indication that she’s mostly herself, still. The earlier moment when she’s holding Nathan shows it, too.

The art’s great. Silvestri does a really good job with facial expressions. He really captures the fury inside Jean, when they get to the school. You see it in her eyes. Body language is also used well to convey how characters are feeling. He just does a great job all around. And, of course, Oliver’s still doing colours, so the colours look great. She was the best.

This is a fantastic issue. Inferno had a lot of great stuff in it.

Classic X-Men #32, a reprint of X-Men #126. And a back-up, by Nocenti, Bolton, Oliver and Rosen. This expands on Wolverine and Nightcrawler being screwed with by Proteus. Wolverine tries to attack while Nightcrawler tries to tell him not to, and Proteus is a jerk. Wolverine does keep advancing towards Proteus, no matter what’s done to him. Which is kinda cool, showing how deep his courage runs. But mostly, this story is an excuse for Nocenti to get over-the-top with her narration while Bolton gets bizarre with the art. This splash is probably the peak of both:

Classic X-Men #32

It’s something.

It’s a pretty great story. Nocenti’s narration is cruel, and Bolton’s art is bizarre, and often grisly. This is one of the best Classic X-Men back-ups.

I should also note Daredevil #265, the last of the Inferno tie-ins, by Nocenti, JRJr, Williamson, Scheele and Rosen. It’s weird and brilliant. A dentist is possessed by his own drill, then goes out to take over a cop, while his partner gets angry at his lunch break being interrupted. Daredevil’s beating up demons, and Butch and Darla watch, but Darla’s been a little demonized, herself. Butch notes that Daredevil’s acting like he’s on autopilot. The whole issue is New York being absolutely insane, even by New York standards, while everyone in it is reacting like it’s normal. This is basically Nocenti’s love letter to New York, and it’s so amazing. It ends with Daredevil going to a bar and having a beer. That’s the happy ending for this book. I think Daredevil probably made best use of the Inferno tie-in, by really showing demonized New York. It’s fantastic stuff, and clearly made by people who love and hate the city. Of all the Inferno tie-ins, this is the one that most deserves to be read. The Nocenti/JRJr run on Daredevil was pretty amazing as a whole.

Inferno tie-ins (March 1989)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I almost forgot to do this. OK, here’s the various non-X-Men comics that got involved with Inferno.

Amazing Spider-Man #313, by David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane, Bob Sharen, John Wilcox and Rick Parker. Peter and MJ are in a cab to Queens, and a shark in the Mid-Town Tunnel shears the roof of the cab off. Which gives us this:

Amazing Spider-Man #313

Yes.

I love superhero comics. Meanwhile, in Empire State University, Curt Connors turns into the Lizard. His family goes to the school to meet him, and a security guard brings them to the library so demons can attack them. As someone who wants to work in a library, I find this most upsetting. Libraries are safe spaces! The Lizard saves them, and Spider-Man comes by, but is distracted by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of himself. Then he fights the Lizard. There’s not a whole lot of Inferno influence on this issue. Still a good comic, though. Especially McFarlane’s art.

Power Pack #44, by Julianna Jones, June Brigman, Hilary Barta, Glynis Oliver and Joe Rosen. Power Pack are fighting demons and saving people. The demons finally get sucked back into Limbo, so the kids head home, where their parents have big forced smiles on their faces. They’re acting really weird. Creepy normal. It’s incredibly unsettling. The kids go out to help anyone who might need it, in the aftermath of Inferno. They meet up with the New Mutants at the hospital, where Dani creates an army of medical specialists. Nice. After helping at the hospital, Power Pack and the Mutants catch each other up on what they’ve been through, and Alex tells Dani about how freaked out their parents are. The Pack go home, and, uh, things have gotten worse. Luckily, the Mutants show up, and explain the whole thing was just a deception they pulled in order to catch Carmody. They bring in the “real” Power kids, who have no powers. The ones in costumes are just illusions. Gosamyr puts the parents to sleep, and the Power Pack takes the places of the illusory kids that Dani created. It’s a good comic. The parents’ breakdown is legitimately disturbing. The way the Mutants resolve the situation is really clever. It’s a shame the status quo had to be restored, but it was done in a really clever way, at least. Nice use of the Mutants. Also a really good Inferno tie-in.

Spectacular Spider-Man #148,  by Gerry Conway, Sal Buscema, Bob Sharen and Rick Parker. Betty Brant has a waking nightmare where Ned Leeds, Gwen Stacy and Spider-Man all climb out of graves. Flash Thompson, who’s letting her stay in his place to keep her safe during the Inferno, runs in to comfort her. They talk about Betty’s breakdown after Ned died, and about Flash’s admiration of Spider-Man. Later, Flash is on the roof, and finds Spider-Man up there. And Spider-Man attacks him. In Flash’s apartment, Betty hears a knocking at the window, and opens the drape to see Zombie Ned, who smashes in and attacks her. Their mutual fights come together, and end with a boom. As any good story should. This is a pretty good issue. It’s just a way to get Flash and Betty over their hang-ups and to be stronger characters. Especially to get Betty to stop being crazy and weak. After this, of course, she’ll have a long career of being badass, including a hilariously stupid ’90s story. It makes some good use of Inferno to allow the horror story to happen. All in all, it’s not bad.

Web of Spider-Man #48, by Gerry Conway, Alex Saviuk, Keith Williams, Janice Cohen and Rick Parker. The Bugle’s offices are safe for the moment, and Spidey’s wounds are healing. JJJ grudgingly admits they’d all be dead without his help, but also says he’s probably behind it all somehow. Ah, Jonah, I do love his willingness to blame literally everything on Spider-Man. Spidey wakes up, and hallucinates that he’s surrounded by demons. And he webs Jonah’s mouth. I’m just going to say that was instinctive. Muscle-memory. Once he’s outside, Spidey snaps out of it, but now, instead of hallucinating demons, he’s dealing with real ones. He remembers MJ is at the studio, and swings off to help her. Meanwhile, Gloria Grant is with her new boyfriend, who beats up a little forklift-looking thing. And a demon is attacking Kingpin’s office, so he punches it out. Which is pretty awesome, honestly. He’s so indifferent to the whole demon invasion. Hobgoblin is in Central Park, freaking out over his new demonic eyes and yellowing skin, and he sees Spider-Man. Spidey follows MJ into some sewers, and Hobgoblin follows Spidey, and it’s a fight! It all ends with an explosion. It’s a pretty good issue. It’s very heavily tied into Inferno, with demons, and with Hobgoblin’s new demonic strength and reflexes. One thing I want to note is how much I enjoy MJ not being a Damsel-In-Distress. IT was one of the things I liked about the marriage. MJ was a strong, independent character in her own right, and she was as likely to save Peter as he was to save her. (This very issue, in fact, has her help him against Hobgoblin.)

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