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Alpha Flight #70 (1989, May)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list post is up. But now, by Hudnall, Calimee, de la Rosa, Barta, Nyberg (three inkers is never a good sign), Sharen and Chiang, “. . . Is But A Dream Within A Dream.”

. . . Is But A Dream Within A Dream

Boring cover.

It starts with some admittedly pretty cool narration about the people in Edmonton dreaming about bad stuff, and the arrival of Alpha Flight. In Ottawa, the Prime Minister (Brian Mulroney, at the time) is being briefed on the situation. The General briefing him says they don’t know if it’s a plague or chemical attack or something else, but the US can’t spare any of its super-teams, so Alpha Flight is all Canada’s got, despite the government’s efforts to break them up. The Dream Queen is in her penthouse, angry that Alpha’s coming for her, and that Talisman is protecting their minds. Alpha enters the building, and Talisman . . . might not be a great tactician.

Alpha Flight #70

“Let’s make ourselves easier prey.”

Liz, you’re dealing with a horror movie villain. Why would you suggest splitting the party? Wouldn’t it be safer to stick together, where it’s easier for you to protect everyone? Talisman also says she’s going to go off on her own, and that as the most powerful person there, she can take care of herself, and she knows what she’s doing.

Alpha Flight #70

People who say that should clearly be trusted.

Heather’s suspicious, but still thinks splitting the team is a good idea. But . . . dammit, did no one on this team watch any horror movies? Sasquatch, Laura and Goblyn go up to the 10th floor, and the elevator opens onto a restaurant, where Aurora is waiting for Sasquatch, and Laura’s parents are waiting for her and Goblyn. Heather, Jeffries and Shaman go up to the 15th floor, and a greenhouse, and Jeffries sees Heather and Shaman making out. While Jeffries yells at Heather, Shaman sees Talisman threatened by monsters.

Back at the mall, Kara wakes up, and wonders why Alpha left her behind. Aw, poor girl, she feels abandoned. Meanwhile, we find out Aurora is a monster.

Alpha Flight #70

People who laugh at their own terrible jokes are awful.

That is actually pretty cool. That panel of her eyes popping out actually reminds me of Michael Allred’s style. Shaman rushes to Talisman’s aid, and falls out the window. Sasquatch beats up Aurora, but Laura gets thrown out the window before he can get to her. Jeffries admits he probably didn’t actually see Heather and Shaman making out, but then they get attacked by vines, and Jeffries can’t get back to his armour, and they get dragged towards carnivorous plants.

The Dream Queen is pleased. Her power’s growing. Nightmare shows up to tell her she’s about to be killed by Talisman. The Dream Queen was actually prepared for Talisman, though, and has her buff sexy boytoys grab her. And they are boytoys. She says she brought them up pleasure her. Since they had no say in the matter, this does mean the Dream Queen is a rapist. But since she was raping men, it’s not a big deal. Because a lot of people haven’t yet realized it’s possible for a woman – even an attractive woman! – to rape a man. Mystique routinely commits rape by deception, and never gets called out on it, and it’s arguably part of the reason she’s so popular. Always uncomfortable when that pops up in a comic.

Anyway. Shaman’s rescued Laura, and Heather and Jeffries have freed themselves, and Sasquatch and Goblyn break for an elevator, and they all head for the top floor, figuring that’s where the Dream Queen’s likely to be. Why none of them thought of this before isn’t addressed. It’s sloppy writing, frankly. Hudnall wanted to have the dream fights, so he half-assed a justification, even if it made no sense. Talisman frees herself from the boytoys, but the Dream Queen manipulates Alpha into starting to attack her. Laura opens a portal behind Dream Queen, Talisman punches her through it, the day is saved. By a good right hook, which amuses me. I like the idea that Elizabeth, for all her mystic power, is kind of a brawler at heart. It’s not like there’s any real evidence of this. She did seem to enjoy sparring with Puck in another issue.

Regardless, with Dream Queen vanished, Heather yells at her for lying to them, and Talisman explains that the closer they got to her, the stronger her control would be, and that by trying to help her, they almost killed her. Well, you know, it’s a great point, but I kinda wonder if maybe telling them that from the start might have helped?

On a side note, the letters page has letters reacting to #66, the issue where Manikin told off Bill Mantlo. I noted the issue as the best of Mantlo’s run, something that was fun and clever and great. The letters about it were mostly negative. Apparently, people hated the entire idea of a character being aware of the writer. Hilariously, the same month Marvel printed letters complaining about it, they also launched Sensation She-Hulk #1, by John Byrne. A series built on the idea of She-Hulk routinely breaking the fourth wall, including talking to Byrne, and to editor Bobbie Chase.

But this issue! The finale of the Dream Queen arc. It’s mostly OK. There is some pretty good narration early on. There’s a few good character moments. Talisman’s dishonesty and bloodlust is actually pretty interesting. She fully plans to kill the Dream Queen. Of course, that’s nothing new for Alpha Flight – “kill ’em all and let god sort ’em out” is Heather’s default strategy for villains. And children. (To be fair, it tends to be my strategy for children, too. Never ask me to babysit.) But still, seeing it from Elizabeth is interesting, and does set her apart from normal superheroes. Man, I miss Talisman. I would kill for her to be part of an ongoing book again. A new volume of Alpha Flight would be wicked. Get Ryan North to write it.

While the dream stuff is inserted awkwardly, most of it is actually still really good. There’s a nice horror element, particularly with Sasquatch and the girls. Being attacked by monsters who resemble people you love? Great nightmare scenario.

The art is . . . not great. Calimee’s style is a bit odd, and not particularly expressive. The body language is pretty generic, too. I do not know nearly enough about art to judge the inking, but when multiple inkers are applied to an issue, that usually means the issue was being rushed a bit, and there are parts of the issue that do seem rushed.

All in all, it’s an OK issue.

Pull List for April 26 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m off tomorrow.

I’ll go to the store for: Bitch Planet #10, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Clayton Cowles; Black Panther #13, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Wilfredo Torres, and ‘m not sure who else; Hulk #5, by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Matt Milla, Andrew Schoonover and Cory Petit; Jem & the Misfits #4, by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St. Onge, M. Victoria Robado and Shawn Lee; Mighty Captain Marvel #4, by Margaret Stohl, Brent Schoonover, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Michael Garland and Joe Caramagna; Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #18, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain and Travis Lanham; Nameless City The Stone Heart, by Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire; Occupy Avengers #6, by David Walker, Gabriel Walta, Jordie Bellaire; Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #17, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Rachelle Rosenberg and Clayton Cowles; Ultimates 2 #6, by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Matt Yackey and Joe Sabino.

I’ll also review: Old Man Logan #22, by Jeff Lemire, Eric Nguyen, Andres Mossa and Cory Petit; Weapon X #2, by Greg Pak, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Ibraim Roberson, Frank D’Armata and Joe Caramagna; X-Men Blue #2, by Cullen Bunn, Jorge Molina, Matt Milla and Joe Caramagna; X-Men Gold #2, by Marc Guggenheim, Ardian Syaf, Jay Leisten, Frank Martin and Cory Petit.

So that’s . . . jeez. 9 comics (and one OGN) I’m picking up, and 4 other reviews. Wow. This is way too heavy a week and it’s not fair.

Bitch Planet! That book’s suffered a lot of delays. But it’s always worth it, because it’s always phenomenal. This is the end of the President Bitch arc. So, woot. Black Panther starts a new arc, dealing with Wakanda’s gods. That should be fascinating. Hulk finishes its first arc, and it’ll have some action, but presumably still tons of drama. Jem is always a wonderful read. Captain Marvel’s pretty decent, and I do like the fill-in artists (and would be happy if Stein and Brandt took over full-time art duties on the title). Moon Girl finishes its current arc, by calling in everyone she’s worked with, so that should be great. Occupy Avengers is always good, and this issue is the team fighting Skrull-killers. Hellcat ends, sadly, but it ends with a trip to the mall, so yay! And Ultimates 2 will be more big cosmic stuff as we learn about the First Firmament.

So,this weekend, there was a local “pop event.” A con, basically. My town’s small and shitty and doesn’t have a particularly big geek population, so the event is always really lame and has no one that really interests me. Still, I bought a few things. This set of prints of the Force Awakens kiddos, by Dredfunn.

The precious kiddos.

This actually pretty bitchin’ metal print of Nightcrawler, by Rob Thibodeau.

Metal!

It loses a bit by being photographed. It looks better in reality. Anyway, this Spider-Man print, by Geof Isherwood:

Pretty!

Silk and Spiral sketches, by Michael Simbajon:

I already miss Silk.

I do want to note those aren’t prints. He does daily sketches, and these are just a couple of sketches he’d done. And, finally, an Arrietty poster:

Such a great movie.

Arrietty, by the way, comes from Studio Ghibli. The studio behind Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and others? I feel like the later Ghibli films don’t get enough love. So go watch Arrietty. And also The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which is amazing and probably the best of the Ghibli movies.

Anyway, yeah, nothing particularly notable. Like I said, it’s a really lame con.

That’s all I feel like talking about this week.

Wolverine #7 (1989, May)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I went to a local geek convention today. I’ll post photos of what I bought on Twitter later. But first, by Claremont, John Buscema, Mike Rockwitz and Ken Bruzenak, “Mr. Fixit Comes To Town.”

Mr. Fixit Comes To Town

I love Mr. Fixit!

In Tahoe, Nevada, Mr. Fixit is meeting with a powerful gangster, who wants to make use of his services. Mr. Fixit, of course, is the Hulk, with grey skin, working in Las Vegas as an enforcer for Michael Berengetti. This gangster wants Fixit to check out the operations of a guy he’s partnered with in the East. So that’s prologue. Now, the main story, in the Prince’s Palace in Madripoor, surrounding Logan and his friends. Things are tense, and everyone’s preparing for a fight, but luckily:

Wolverine #7

Lindsay is the real hero of this series.

He’s a fan of Lindsay. So he declares them all his guests. Back in the US, Fixit’s hot lady chauffeur is filling the tank on his limo, and some yuppie bikers ride up and one of them flirts with her. One of the female bikers is named Muffy. What the hell kind of name is Muffy for a biker girl? What the hell kind of name is Muffy? Just, like, in general? Who names their kid Muffy? Was that actually a name yuppies gave their kids? Anyway, Fixit beats the yuppies up, and then drives off on one of their bikes, leaving the rest to help his chauffeur repair some damage to his limo.

Back to Madripoor. Tyger’s annoyed at being a prisoner in the Prince’s palace, and in her armour, but Logan tells her he has a key for it. He tells her the Prince has an offer to let both Tyger and Coy live, running their respective markets, balancing each other for a relative peace. With the business taken care of, Prince Baran shows Lindsay, Jessica and Logan his room dedicated to Lindsay.

Wolverine #7

This kinda gets into “creepy stalker” territory.

Wolverine #7

Clearly, an interesting career.

She says that after Ms. Merc, she decided to go back to theatre, but before she could do any productions, she was thrown off a roof by Viper. I love this scene. All the terrible movies Lindsay’s done. She needs to be brought back, she really does. Or maybe reference movies she’s appearing in now. Yeah, that’s the ticket. We should start getting references to terrible movies that Lindsay’s done. Posters, maybe we see one on TV, someone says they want to go watch the latest one. Make it happen, writers.

Coy’s back at his penthouse, throwing a tantrum, while Shan gets changed. Roughhouse comes in and hits on her.

Wolverine #7

Dammit, Roughhouse.

I feel like Shan’s probably heard that a lot since she came out as gay. Logan punches him, which stuns him enough for Shan to put him to sleep. She tells Logan that Fixit is coming, and she worries Fixit will kill Coy, but she still needs her uncle’s help to find her siblings. Logan watches Fixit arrive at the airport, where he’s attacked by a bunch of thugs.

Wolverine #7

He’s surprisingly gentle with them.

Logan takes Fixit to the hotel, and at sundown, Fixit reverts to Banner, and Logan decides he’s going to have some fun while Fixit’s in town.

This is a pretty good issue. It’s fun. The Prince being a huge fan of Lindsay is the kind of ridiculous moment that I love Lindsay McCabe for. Of course the Prince of Madripoor is a fan. Why wouldn’t he be? Where would be the fun if he wasn’t? It’s such a great moment. Lindsay is so under-appreciated. Bring back Lindsay McCabe! The tentative balance between Tyger and Coy was a cool idea, and made things interesting in Madripoor for a little while. The rivalry between them was the basis for a few good stories. The Joe Fixit stuff was fun, and helped set up what’s going to be an amazing next issue.

I actually like the art more than usual. Buscema inked himself this time around, and it works really well. It makes a big difference. It doesn’t feel as heavy. Still not an artist I’m a fan of, but I like his work a lot better when he inks himself. So yay for that.

So, good issue.

X-Men comics of April 19 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Captain Marvel’s co-directors have been announced! The line-up for the New Warriors show has been announced! A Cloak & Dagger trailer was released! Holy shit this is a busy day for Marvel fans. There’s also some comics.

No X-Men comics this week. Boo. So here’s other stuff, instead.

Ms. Marvel #17, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring and Joe Caramagna. Zoe gets to school, and people make fun of her leaked love letters to Nakia. And there’s only one solution for that: Group hug! Started by Nakia, because she’s a sweetheart. With Zoe feeling a bit cheered up, Kamala implements her plan. She brings in the other people from her guild. So now they know they game with a superhero. She explains the Doc.X virus to them. She tells them they need to make the Internet nice. They go on Battlecraft and start spreading niceness. Ms. Marvel herself tries to lure the virus away from people, and runs right into a parade, because it’s funnier that way. It’s a really good issue. All about the triumph of kindness and compassion over anger and hate. The power of just being nice, and the belief that, ultimately, people try to be good. Which is something I believe, myself. Yes, there are assholes who like hurting people, who take pleasure in the suffering of others. We all have that impulse. We all enjoy videos of people getting hurt. Show me a clip of a guy getting a football to the groin, and I’ll laugh. But we also try to be good. We donate money, we send each other messages of support, we amplify the voices of the marginalized. It’s easy to feel like the world is a terrible place full of terrible people, but I think it is important to remember that things are always getting better, that people are always getting better. Trans rights weren’t even on the radars of most people just 20 years ago, now it’s a huge deal. Yes, there’s still a lot of hate, and yes, the Internet can often feel toxic. But there’s also immense amounts of love. An endless supply of love and support. And that’s what this comic tries to get across. And it’s a good message, and one that encourages readers to push past hate, to push past negativity, and to just be good to others. Hug a friend who’s feeling down. Do something nice for someone you don’t know. Try to make the world a nicer place to be. So I really love the message of this issue. Also, great art, as always. Miyazawa and Herring are a great team. The book always looks nice. The cartoonishness is really effective. This is just such a wonderful series.

Silk #19, by Robbie Thompson, Tana Ford, Ian Herring and Travis Lanham. Cindy confronts her father about him going to a woman named Fang, who promised to help him cure Cindy, but actually just wants to steal her powers. Fang is a member of the Spider Society and worked for Ezekiel, the guy who put Cindy in the bunker way back when. Fang wants to lead the Spider Society. While Cindy keeps Fang busy, Hector slips into her lab and shuts down her electronics. Cindy beats Fang and her father decides he’s happy for her to be Silk. Aw. Then it’s just some wrap-up. Cindy at supper with her family. A phone conversation with Peter, to echo one from the first issue. Lola and Rafferty’s wedding (yay!), and a promise to keep seeing her therapist, and good on Cindy for that, because mental health is important. This is, alas, the final issue of Silk. It’s actually had a pretty good run, but I still want more. It has been, in my opinion, the best of the Spider-titles over the past few years. Spider-Woman would be the other contender, of course, but I give the nod to Silk, which was more dramatic, and also had a dragon named David Wilcox. Plus, it’s one of the rare superhero titles that actually addresses the issue of mental health. Fiction in general almost never does that. The fact that this comic made it a recurring story element is a huge deal. This issue does feel rushed. It’s very much an “oh crap we need to wrap this up” finale. Still very well-done. Silk vs. Fang is an exciting fight. Silk making use of Hector was good to see. The last scenes, showing Cindy’s family and friends, were sweet. I do wish we’d seen more of the wedding, but I always enjoy weddings in comics. And obviously, it’s always good, in fiction, to see a same-sex couple get a happy ending. And Cindy gets a happy ending, so good for her. I hope it doesn’t take too long for her to show up again somewhere. She’s a good character. I’m also hoping it doesn’t take too long for Tana Ford to get more work. She’s a good artist, especially given she only taught herself to draw not even 10 years ago. It’s an expressive style. A bit blobby, and I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone for not liking her art. But I like it. And much as I want Duck! Vol. 3 to be finished, I’d rather see Ford get more work that pays her bills, you know? Anyway. If you haven’t read Silk, I’d definitely recommend picking up the trades, now that the series is over.

USAvengers #5, by Al Ewing, Paco Diaz, Jesus Aburtov and Joe Caramagna. Roberto meets with Steve, and it’s tense and creepy as Steve praises ‘Berto’s work with AIM while also coming across as really smug and condescending. Then we get Aikku talking to Toni about all the guns and armour Toni keeps building. She’s worried Toni’s become obsessed. It reminds her of when Toni worked hard to get Aikku out of the Pod armour, and she wonders who Toni’s trying to rescue now. And Toni’s not sure. In some underground lair, Maverick’s Red Hulk form wears off, and Arthur Nagan, Gorilla-Man, a guy with a human head on a gorilla body which makes him one of the all-time great ridiculous villains, is about to kill him, but Squirrel Girl rescues him. Sam’s out in space, on a Shi’ar colony planet, with his wife and son. Yay! Josh Guthrie shows up! He has some kind of blasting field of his own, apparently stronger than Sam’s. Sam’s feeling a bit miserable with the commute to see them. He’s on Earth 5 days a week, so he only gets his weekends to spend with Izzy and Josh, but he doesn’t actually want to leave Earth. This is a great issue. Ewing always knows how to use current events in comics to tell his own stories. He does an excellent job of it here, using Nazi-Cap very well. He starts off kinda smarmy, too nice and friendly, and gets more serious as the conversation continues throughout the issue, trying to throw Roberto off his game. The other scenes are all excellent. Aikku and Toni highlighted Toni as a workaholic, and Aikku as very sensible but also still pretty cute. Sam and Izzy was sweet, they do make a nice couple, and if Sam does leave the book to stay with Izzy in space, I’d actually be totally fine with that. It’d be a shame to not have him in a book any more, but knowing he’s off with his wife, raising their kid, would make it a lot easier to bear. Maverick’s irritation at the time limit on his Red Hulk form was nice, and I’d actually love to see more Maverick/Squirrel Girl team-ups, because they play off each other well. Plus, Gorilla-Man! I do love that guy. He’s such a stupid concept, which just makes him amazing. And the art’s great. I love Diaz’s style.

Mirror #7, by Emma Rios and Hwei Lim. As always, gorgeous. As always, tough to follow. But so pretty.

Pull List for April 19 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m off tomorrow, yay.

I’ll go to the store for: Mirror #7, by Emma Rios and Hwei Lim; Ms. Marvel #17, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring and Joe Caramagna; My Little Pony Friends Forever #38, by Andy Price; Silk #19, by Robbie Thompson, Tana Ford, Ian Herring and Travis Lanham; USAvengers #5, by Al Ewing, Paco Diaz, Jesus Aburtov and Joe Caramagna.

I’ll also review: Nothing. Not a single X-title this week.

So that’s just the 5 comics I’m picking up. Pretty light week.

Mirror is a gorgeous comic. I don’t always understand what’s going on, but it’s just so lush and beautiful – art and writing alike – that I don’t even mind. Ms. Marvel’s always excellent, and this is the end of a big arc, and the preview has a group hug. So yay. Silk has been, in my mind, the best of the Spider-titles over the past few years, so I’m sad to see it ending, but I’m hoping it ends on a big note. (I also hope the Raff/Lola wedding does happen. Ford strongly implied it was planned, I’m hoping she and Thompson managed to fit it in. I’ll be devastated if I don’t get that wedding.) USAvengers is a Secret Empire tie-in, but Ewing’s made great use of tie-ins to move his own stories forward, so I’m confident this’ll be great, too.

July solicits are out. My Marvel pull list for that month: All-New Wolverine #22, Avengers #9, Black Bolt #3, Generation X #4, Hawkeye #8, Unstoppable Wasp #7, Black Panther & the Crew #4, Hulk #8, Ms. Marvel #20, Silver Surfer #13, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #22, America #5, Luke Cage #3, USAvengers #8, Ultimates 2 #9, Black Panther #16, Moon Girl #21, Occupy Avengers #9, Mighty Captain Marvel #7.

So I back stuff on Kickstarter. I mostly talk about the comics and books I back. But I back some games, too. Including some visual novels. One visual novel I backed was Four Horsemen. It’s been released to backers, and it’ll be coming on Steam soon. And, uh, holy shit. Really good. There are some terrible jokes that I absolutely loved. But the focus was on the drama. It’s a story about immigrants, refugees. They avoided going with real-world countries, but they did base the fictional nations on real cultures, to an extent. I’ve only done one playthrough so far, and it was great. It’s basically just some immigrant teens living their lives. Things get super-dramatic in a very unexpected way. And there’s some really good commentary about what it means to be an immigrant. And it’s just a great story, and if you enjoy visual novels, or if you might want to try them, it’s definitely worth playing.

So we got a Star Wars trailer and poster. And now we need to wait until December for the movie. So unfair. That poster is perfect, I gotta say. Simple, eye-catching, evocative. It’s a great example of what a movie poster should be. Too often, movie posters are just People Standing, or Heads Floating. They’re boring. The poster for The Last Jedi clearly had tons of thought put into it. It’s a classic image, perfectly done.

So this Saturday, there’s a local “pop event.” Kinda like a convention, but, you know, shittier. I live in a shitty town. Just the same, I go to this event every year. It’s something to do. I’ll take some pictures, and buy some stuff. But to give you an idea how lame it is: The biggest guests this year are Sean Gunn, Michael Koske, Kimberly Leemans, Don Teems and Yanic Truesdale. I have no idea who any of those people are. Geof Isherwood will be there, though. Classic comic artist. He was at the last one, too. I got an X-Men print from him.

Isherwood

Of course, Isherwood lives in Montreal, so he’s just an hour’s drive away. So it’s not like it’s a big deal for him to come down. But still, it’s neat.

I still keep forgetting to come up with things to talk about each week. Oh well. Oh! I watched Star Trek: Beyond the other night. It wasn’t bad. Best of the reboot trilogy, definitely. Moderately less bad as a Star Trek movie, significantly better as an action movie, than either of the ones Abrams made, which frankly failed at both. So, yeah, I actually kinda liked it. I did livetweet it, but I didn’t collect the livetweet, because I didn’t care enough, so if you want to read it, you’ll just have to go back through my Twitter feed.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this week.

Marvel Comics Presents #18, 19 & 20 (1989, May)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I have nothing clever to say today. So, by Harras, Lim, Patterson, Yanchus and Mas, “The Retribution Affair (Part II of VIII) – Plague In the Night.”

Plague In the Night

Wood seems like it’d be a better material for Scott.

A couple young kids, Bobbie and Mary Campbell, are being taken away in a bubble of energy as they sleep. Moira is watching it happen. The next day, Banshee tells Scott why he wanted Scott there. Over the past few months, something has felt of about Moira. He felt like he was being watched, but he was sleeping unusually well, until he woke one morning and found Moira slumped against a wall in the hall. Scott says she might have been sleepwalking, but Banshee says there’s more. One morning, after a night with a fierce storm, he found her boots covered in mud, and he followed her tracks in the mud, and they disappeared at one spot. Moira rushes out to say that she’s been called out to see a sick girl, Mary Campbell. Mary’s brother, Bobbie, says little people in lights did it.

That night, a light floats into Moira’s house, and attacks Scott, while Moira follows a summons. She confirms that Mary is infected with a virus, and it turns out she’s working for Master Mold.

This is a really good installment. There’s a lot here. It starts off with some good Claremont-esque narration about the kids enjoying ghost stories. We get a bit of exposition from Banshee to explain why he called Scott in. We get a good scene as Moira angsts about the kid she can’t help. And then we get an answer to what’s going on. All in 8 pages. Harras uses the MCP format to maximum effectiveness here. It’s great plotting with some good character work. As for the art? Well, I talked yesterday about how great Lim is. It’s still true here. Lim kills it. This story has particularly good use of light and shadows to maintain mystery and tension.

#19, with Part III, “The Price of Retribution.”

The Price of Retribution

*Sigh* Liefeld . . .

Mary Campbell’s in a hospital, and a nurse is checking up on her. Mary’s eyes open and glow, and the room goes crazy, until she passes back out. Mary’s a mutant. But now, to Master Mold, who praises Moira for her creation of a virus designed to kill mutants. We’re just a few years from the start of the Legacy Virus story. The Legacy Virus happened while Bob Harras was editor of the X-Men line. I guess he really liked the idea of a virus that killed mutants. Presumably, he liked the idea as an AIDS metaphor, though it’s a really terrible metaphor, given AIDS was never a disease that specifically targeted gay men, it was only perceived that way by homophobic assholes. Regardless, I do find it interesting to see Harras doing something now that he’d later use his editorial power to spread across the franchise.

But anyway! Master Mold has Moira under mind control. He also mentions that he’s Stephen Lang, trapped in Master Mold’s body, as a result of Scott’s actions. He starts a rant, but gets interrupted by Conscience, to let him know that Banshee’s contracted the virus, and has been taken to the hospital by Scott. Master Mold sends some drones to knock everyone out and kidnap Banshee and Mary. Scott is attacked by little robot dudes, and blasts them away, and manages to stop Moira from going back into a teleportation beam.

Another good installment. Less happens here. We get some more explanations about exactly what’s going on, with Moira and Master Mold and the sick girl. It’s an interesting enough plot. Of course, there’s also some actual plot development, with Master Mold taking Mary and Banshee. Again, Harras uses the 8-page format very well, treating each part as a complete “issue” of its own. A lot of times, these multi-part MCP stories were written for the trade, so to speak, with no real consideration given to how they’d read serialized. So people wrote full-issue stories that would then be split up into multiple parts, with some parts often feeling lackluster. Harras avoids that pitfall, and clearly put effort into making sure it would read well in the format it’s presented in.

And #20, with Part IV, “Conscience of the King.”

Conscience of the King

Mike Mignola!

Banshee and Mary are in stasis tubes, being carried by Master Mold’s robot Servitors. Master Mold is pouting at Scott stealing Moira from him, but Conscience assures him it’s a temporary setback. Conscience is a robot made with the engrams of Stephen Lang. He promises to take care of Scott and Moira. On Muir Island, Scott’s unable to contact Ship, and the weather’s too bad to get to the mainland, as Callisto notes. Moira gives him more bad news: he has the virus. Callisto guesses she has it, too, and she’s angry that she didn’t do a better job protecting Moira. Conscience attacks with a horde of Servitors. Fight fight fight, Scott, Moira and Callisto are defeated.

This is the first installment that doesn’t feel complete. It feels like it ends in the middle of a scene. It is a cliffhanger, but it’s a cliffhanger that shouldn’t really be a cliffhanger, somehow. Maybe that final panel just needed more space. I don’t know. This is the weakest installment of the story so far. The introduction of Conscience is fairly interesting, though he’s such a weird character. He’s supposed to be based on Stephen Lang, but he’s more darkly comic than Lang ever was. Cracking jokes and just acting odd, not at all like Lang. I’m not sure the character really works.

At least the art’s still great.

Excalibur #8 (1989, May)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). OK, the last two comics were pretty weak, but now it’s time for a good one. By Claremont, Ron Lim, Rubinstein, Wilcox and Orzechowski, “Excalibur’s New York Adventure.”

Excalibur's New York Adventure

Not as charming as a Davis cover, but still fun.

Brian wakes up to an empty hotel room. He’s slept in late, which is understandable, he would be jet-lagged. He finds notes on a mirror. Kurt’s gone to get the Blackbird, Kitty’s gone to Xavier’s School to get some stuff, Rachel’s gone to see her baby brother. No note from Meggan, but Brian remembers that she’s barely literate, and figures she might have been embarrassed. He can’t shake a feeling that something’s wrong, and considers getting a whiskey, but decides he doesn’t want to be a drunk. Good on him for that, actually. He’d been drinking a lot earlier in the series, but he’s realizing he made a mistake with that, and it’s really good to see. Anyway, he goes flying, and the people below see him.

Excalibur #8

Fun cameo!

Meggan’s at Coney Island, thinking of what happened to her during Inferno, and wondering if she’s evil or just so easy to shape. She’s crying, and she’s found by a group of young women, a friendly multi-ethnic group who think she was either attacked or dumped, and either way, they decide she needs friends. Up at the school, the New Mutants are sorting through the wreckage, and Kitty shows up. She yells at them for letting Doug die, and Rahne runs off crying, and Illyana yells at Kitty and runs off after Rahne. It’s a really sad scene, and shows how much everyone’s still hurting about Doug. While Kitty crossed a line, I think it was a line she needed to cross, for her own sake. She needed to get it out of her system. But hey, at least it ends on an even sadder note.

Excalibur #8

Poor Kitty keeps losing people she loves.

It occurs to me that Kitty never really bonded with any of the New Mutants, aside from Doug and Illyana, and she knew them before they joined the Mutants. It’s kind of a shame. I think she could’ve had good relationships with all of them. She and Dani strike me as being very similar people, both independent girls who refuse to be weak links, even when their powers aren’t the most combat-effective. I wish we’d gotten more interactions between the pair, as friends. Or that we could get more now. Bring Dani back to the X-Men, as part of Kitty’s team. It doesn’t matter that she’s not a mutant any more. She’s still awesome. So anyway, yeah, I really like this scene, and this moment between Kitty and Dani.

Meanwhile, Brian stops a car that was about to run over a woman and her son, but gets hurled aside by the impact. His outfit’s wrecked, too, so he buys a new outfit, and it’s a good outfit, clearly.

Excalibur #8

Yep, those reactions seem about right.

Then he finds he can’t fly, so a friendly cop grabs him a taxi. I also want to note that this cop is great.

Excalibur #8

Best cop.

Meanwhile, the girls have gotten Meggan a new outfit of her own, but she’s not sure how she feels about the whole thing. She’s torn between doing what they want, and trying to figure out what she wants. They go to a movie theatre, but given it was a movie theatre where she tried to get Brian to kill Kitty, she starts to freak out, until a cute guy grabs her and takes her dancing. Meanwhile, Kurt steals the Blackbird. Back to Brian, who’s spent the day searching for Meggan, and asked a female cop and she apparently took his question to wrong way and started to arrest him for soliciting. He tries to convince her he’s a superhero, by lifting the taxi.

Excalibur #8

Poor Brian.

The cop is so unimpressed that she walks off. In the background, Spider-Man fights Dr. Octopus, and it’s such a weird thing to throw in but I love it. Back to Meggan, who’s still with the cute guy, who starts kissing her and telling her he knows she wants it, and to stop thinking for herself. He’s a dick.

Excalibur #8

Claw his face off!

Men: Don’t be this guy. Don’t pressure women. If she says no, immediately take a big step back. Don’t try to tell her what she wants. If a woman says no, and you keep pushing her, and refuse to take “no” for an answer, you are a rapist. If you pressure her until she says yes, you’re a rapist, pure and simple.

Anyway! Rachel! Up on Ship, Jean is talking to Nathan Christopher. She feels that he’s her child, even if she didn’t bear him. Which is interesting, she tends to hate when things are forced on her, but here, she accepts Nathan. Rachel’s outside the window, talking to Nathan telepathically.

Excalibur #8

Aww, Rachel loves her alternate-timeline baby brother. Cute.

Back to Meggan. She’s watching a friendly neighbourhood basketball game. One of the guys sprains his ankle, so Meggan takes his place. Which is where Brian finally finds her.

Excalibur #8

Aw. They are cute together.

In the cab back to the hotel, she talks about what a great day she’s had, and he talks about how he’s been looking everywhere for her, worried sick, and that his powers are weakening. He also realizes his wallet was stolen, so Meggan pays the cabbie with the money she made from the basketball game, and feels quite proud of herself.

This is a good issue. A good downtime issue. No threats to be defeated, just pure character work. We get a new sub-plot with Brian’s powers getting weaker. It’ll take a little while for that to be explained, but it’s not exactly a deep mystery. For this issue, it means he gets to be the butt of jokes, as usual. It’s the role that fits him. Almost getting arrested for accidentally soliciting a cop is a definite highlight. Meggan’s powers seem to work fine, though she repeatedly shifts her features to match people around her through the issue. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with her repeatedly changing skin colour. That seems a bit sketchy. Not sure that was the wisest creative decision. But we do get a bit of a nice journey, through the issue, of her learning to assert herself. It’ll still be an ongoing journey for the next little while, but she does steadily become more independent, which also strengthens her relationship with Brian. They do become one of the great Marvel couples, because she stops needing him, and he stops being an asshole.

Kitty and the New Mutants was another nice scene, as she finally gets a chance to really express her grief about Doug’s death. And she also learns about what happened to Illyana, which is bittersweet, as she knows it’s better for Illyana, but it also means she’s lost her best friend. Another best friend. It really has been a rough time for Kitty, between the X-Men seemingly-dying, Doug dying, and Illyana being reverted to a child. And also yelling at her. Illyana remembers when Kitty used to tell her stories, which is a sweet callback. And I love how much Child Illyana cares about Rahne, too. Rahne and Illyana had become very close friends in New Mutants, and Rahne’s been very protective of Child Illyana. Plus, seeing Rahne cry is never easy. She’s such a good, pure person, it’s like kicking a kitten, it’s just cruel.

Lim’s art is disappointing only because it’s not Alan Davis. Davis (and Neary, of course) had been defining Excalibur’s look from the start, so any time he’s not drawing an issue, it’s disappointing. But Lim is pretty damn good as a fill-in. This was before his career-defining work. Not that he hadn’t already made a name for himself by this point – he was drawing Silver Surfer, and he’d done other stuff – but he hadn’t yet started his collaboration with Jim Starlin. His work with Starlin would become the biggest work of his career. But this issue was before that. But he was still a talented artist, and it was pretty clear he had the chops to be a huge deal. The issue looks great. Fairly house style, but very competently done. It still does a good job with tone and mood and expressions. Characters look phenomenal. The whole thing just looks so good that it’s easy to get over it not being Davis. I will say that an Excalibur where Lim was the regular artist would have been a very different book, much more conventional, but still a great read. So, yeah, great comic.

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