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X-Men comics of March 14 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So Laura’s going back to X-23. Because Marvel has decided that permanent change is horrible not allowed, and every character always needs to be reverted to an older status quo. I love Tamaki, so I’ll pick the book up, but holy shit am I ever annoyed that she’s going back to X-23, so soon after she completely rejected the designation. It was a powerful moment. Pretty definitive. But nothing is more powerful than Marvel’s desperation to undo any and all changes that all characters go through, so people can read the same damn stories they’ve already read. Maybe next, Laura can also become susceptible to the trigger scent again. Because who needs genuine growth and development when we can just read the same stories over and over and over. Ugh. Anyway, here’s comics.

X-Men Blue #23, by Cullen Bunn, Jorge Molina, Matt Milla, Jay David Ramos, and Joe Caramagna. The Raksha, those Madripoor mutants, are worried about the X-Men, so they go to the house and talk to Magneto. He’s in a video chat with Bloodstorm and Jimmy. Jimverine. The Littlest Wolverine. Anyway, they’re on the trail of Miss Sinister and her partners. Magneto talks about how he wanted the O5 to stand as an example, of Good Mutants stopping Evil Mutants. Living in the past, Mags. The Raksha tell him that the Hellfire Club is in Madripoor, meaning Emma’s in Madripoor. Hightown, I’m sure. Even as a felon on the run, she’s got class. Bastion kills a group of Prime Sentinels, with Havok at his side. Magneto goes after Shaw, who’s developed a secondary mutation allowing him to absorb kinetic energy from the air. And Bloodstorm and Jimmy find the Ultimate Marauders meeting with Xorn. Aside from Jimmy being here, this issue’s not bad. We learn more about the plans of the villain group. We get a little bit of Lorna stuff, and she’s always great. But it’s a bit more plot-driven a story than I generally care for. The plot’s fine, it’s well-constructed, but I’m more about the character drama, so the issue falls flat for me. People who enjoy plot-driven stories will probably really enjoy this. It comes down to taste. I do really like the art. Molina and Milla are a great art team. Detailed, solid storytelling, and pleasant to look at. This book’s not what I enjoy, but it is very well-made.

Weapon X #15, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Roland Boschi, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. The team is going out. Domino wants to drink and dance, Deathstrike just wants tacos, and I find it hilarious. She’s so fun when she’s not ranting. I would love a Deathstrike mini. Anyway, everyone else leaves, but Logan stays on the airship. Then gets a text from Sabretooth wishing him a happy birthday. So, that’s this issue. Aside from Domino declaring Daylight Savings “a scam to enrich the electric companies.” The issue’s OK. I wonder if you could track Marvel time by how many birthdays Logan’s had? Probably not. Anyway, it’s always good for a fun fight, I suppose. This one plays out a little different from usual, with Logan being old, and more scared of losing control than usual, because he remembers how he killed the X-Men. Sabretooth, meanwhile, is one-note. Flat and fairly boring. A common problem for him. But I feel like issues like this ultimately live or die on the art, and the art here is fine, but it’s not really spectacular enough to make the issue really stand out. Boschi’s a talented artist, but an issue like this benefits from more energy than he brings. So this is a perfectly fine Logan vs. Sabretooth comic, but it’s not one that really breaks the mold.

Astonishing X-Men #9, by Charles Soule, Matteo Buffagni, Giada Marchisio, and Clayton Cowles. Proteus is messing with Psylocke and X, so Archangel and Logan go in to free them. Warren pulls Psylocke free and reminds her what’s real. Logan helps X by stabbing him, to drive out Proteus, since Fantomex has a healing factor. X, as it turns out, does not. Logan’s “oops” is pretty priceless, I’ll admit. Proteus, meanwhile, drops by a pub. The X-Men fly off in the Blackbird to chase him, and Bishop tells Psylocke that he’s stopped a lot of ends of the world, and also seems suspicious of X. And back in the Scottish village, Proteus is promising to give everyone what they want, and is also still big on Medieval fantasy. This is good. Soule’s been crafting a very good story over this run, and he’s come up with a cool take on Proteus. He’s still menacing, but also more sympathetic, and more tragic. He wants to do good. He’s not out for vengeance or power or mayhem. He wants to help people, and make the world a better place, but he’s still basically a kid so he has no real understanding of what he’s doing. It’s sad. But also creepy, and pretty cool. I also like Soule’s take on Bishop, as someone who monitors Ends of the World to stop. It’s a bit similar to Cable, but those two always had a lot in common. The art’s good. Buffagni’s got a good style. I think this is my first exposure to Marchisio’s colours, and it looks good. Good colour choices. I really like the colours on Proteus. This is a good comic.

New Mutants: Dead Souls #1, by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Gorham, Michael Garland, and Clayton Cowles. At a Hatchi Corporation relief centre in Alabama, a guy checking bodybags gets murdered. The next day, Rictor, Guido, Illyana, Rahne, and Boom-Boom come to town. And Guido finds a kitten he wants to keep. Since everyone disagrees on the kitten, Illyana pops it into Limbo and pulls it out an adult so it can take care of itself. Illyana’s hardcore like that. Anyway, there’s zombies running around. So the team fights zombies. And Illyana is awesome. This is . . . really good. Like, really good. The writing and art work beautifully together. The characters all have so much personality and charm, and Rosenberg gives each a distinct voice. The banter is comfortable, people who’ve known each other for a while taking the piss out of each other. On the downside, Rahne says she doesn’t like cats, so I don’t like her any more. She bad-mouthed cats, she’s dead to me now. I’m kidding. I still love Rahne. But I love cats more. Karma is also in this book, and apparently, she’s The Boss. She inherited the Hatchi Corporation from her evil half-sister in Liu’s Astonishing run, and Rosenberg brings that back. I like how professional Karma is here. She was always eminently professional. But she also comes across as a strong leader. And I like Karma like that. I just like Karma in general. She’s a great character who gets too little use. But yeah, the characters are all great. The plot of this issue is done really well. It unravels in a really intriguing fashion, and goes to some interesting places. And the art is excellent. Gorham’s got a really expressive style. I especially love just how goth he makes Illyana look. He also does a killer Boom-Boom. But mostly I adore his Illyana. The action isn’t the best. It’s not bad, by any stretch, but it gets a bit vague. Not enough details during the action. The zombies look indistinct, blurred together, which makes it a little less interesting. Still! Minor complaint, given my tastes run more along the character stuff, and that’s handled fantastically. Really good comic, and I’m really interested in seeing where it goes.

All-New Wolverine #32, by Tom Taylor, Djibril Morissette-Phan, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Flashback! A few years ago. A girl named Amber started her first day at a new school, while Laura completed her first assassination, of a presidential candidate. Amber’s dad was one of the guards, and he died, too. In the present, Laura goes to Amber with a guess to who was behind the assassination. She thinks the politician was targeted because he was going to expose a tobacco lobbyist who secretly lobbied for a neo-Nazi organization. Man, remember the days when “ties to neo-Nazis” would be a career-killing story? Now it’s a great way to get hired by the White House. Anyway, Laura and Amber go to a fake tropical country to grab the Nazi and bring him back to the US for punishment. The plan involves terrible Hawaiian shirts. And it’s a lot of fun. This is a great issue. It’s nice seeing Amber forgiving Laura for the role Laura played in her dad’s death. They bond and it’s nice to see. This is basically just an epilogue to the Orphans of X arc, as Laura makes good on her promise to help the Orphans find the people responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. After such a heavy arc, this is a really fun breather issue. The start of the issue is pretty brilliant, contrasting how that day went for Amber and Laura, but then it just gets fun. Good art. Morissette-Phan gets to draw Laura in a Hawaiian shirt. So, you know, it’s gotta be his year made, right there. And, again, that opening sequence is gorgeous, too. This is such a great series, and it’s tragic that it’s ending. I’m excited for Tamaki’s take on the character, but I really hate that they’re changing her back to X-23. As though none of what Taylor’s done actually matters. I hope Tamaki at least keeps Gabby and Jonathan around. Those two need to be a permanent part of Laura’s supporting cast.

Old Man Logan #36, by Ed Brisson, Dalibor Talajic, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Fisk being Mayor of NYC reminds Logan of the villains teaming up against the heroes. He goes into a bar, so that he can ask the guy who’s been following him what he wants. He’s got a drive that belonged to Fisk, but it’s encrypted. Even so, Fisk wants him dead. I’m going to make a prediction here, and we’ll see what comes of it: The drive has photos of Vanessa on it. Anyway, the guy gets killed, so Logan takes the drive. So now Fisk wants him dead. Pretty good. Logan’s concerns about what Mayor Fisk means are pretty reasonable. I do want to note that Fisk cracking down on vigilantes, while self-serving, is actually also kinda what he should be doing? Vigilantes are illegal in the real world for a lot of reasons. Superheroes really should be licensed by the state. They can join a police force. Or form private security firms, I suppose. Either way, Fisk isn’t actually wrong. But whatever. The point is that I do like how Brisson ties Mayor Fisk into Logan’s future past, not as a direct “this happened in my time,” but as a subtler thing. Logan sees it as a variation on what the villains did in his time. Which is cool. The art’s good. I like Talajic. He’s good at brutal. He’s got good energy in his work. Makes for an enjoyable read. So, yeah, this arc’s off to a good start. We’ll see how it goes.

I also picked up:

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #30, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Doreen and Nancy explain to a woman from the 1800s why Apple apps can’t be used on Android phones. Also, Doreen tries to play mediator to galactic disputes. And Nancy uses an alien bathroom that has 3 seashells. Demolition Man reference! And Tippy-Toe becomes the Silver Squirrel. And Nancy also becomes Silver Nancy. And man, there’s a looooot of drama in there. Seriously. So much drama. It is a great issue in a great series, and I am so sad that Erica Henderson is leaving this book! Her art has been such a huge part of defining the series. The charm and energy and character she brought will be very much missed. I know a lot of people didn’t like her style, but I enjoyed it. She’s a great visual storyteller. I’m excited to see what she does next, but I am really going to miss her on Squirrel Girl.

Falcon #6, by Rodney Barnes, Sebastian Cabrol, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna. Sam’s late for a date with Misty. How do you make a woman like that wait? He talks to her on the phone while kicking some ass. Also, Deacon Frost, the vampire, is running around. Meanwhile, Shaun gets a date with a cute girl he knows. And Falcon and Misty, who’s in a really nice dress, go searching through the sewers for a felon Falcon lost track of. This is an interesting issue, for sure. Sam and Misty have a good chemistry. Misty’s always great, in general, and she remains so here. Falcon vs. Vampires is an interesting angle, I suppose. Not what one would expect of Falcon. But then, Falcon vs. Blackheart was even weirder. The focus on the supernatural is pretty interesting in this book. A  neat angle for the book, something very different from what one expects of Falcon. So, yeah, I’m enjoying this series.


X-Men comics of March 7 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Sure would be nice if Fresh Start could start announcing the books that won’t be written by white dudes. Because so far, the announcements have been pretty white dude-heavy, and it’d be nice to get some word on books that’ll have other voices. But anyway, today’s comics.

X-Men Gold #23, by Marc Guggenheim, Thony Silas, Arif Prianto, and Cory Petit. Scythian, the lame Negative Zone god, rips his way into the main universe. Kitty’s X-Men team have been taken to The Box, a prison for mutants. On the one hand, it’s probably more reasonable than putting mutants in with a general population of a regular prison. On the other hand, of course there’s a prison specifically for mutants. Kitty’s put in a cell with Callisto, and she seems annoyed about it, but it’s been a long time since they’ve actually been enemies. They were never friends, but there’s no real reason for Kitty to be upset at being roomed with her. Storm and Rachel are in the cafeteria, being glared at by a bunch of women, and Rachel’s having flashbacks to her Hound days. Back at the school, Bobby’s already returned, to lead a new team, which includes Armour, Ink (UUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHH NO ONE HAS EVER GIVEN THE TINIEST SHRED OF A SHIT ABOUT INK, GUGGENHEIM!), Amara, and Illyana. And Rogue. Back at the prison, Kurt and Piotr are kicking some ass in a big-ol’ prison brawl. And the new Pyro visits the school to try to make amends for his actions. Ugh, frigging Ink being dragged back in. I know he’s Guggenheim’s pet character, but he sucks. He’s a shitty, stupid, shitty character who’s shit. He was the worst part about Young X-Men, and that book had a lot wrong with it. On the plus side, it’s not like Guggenheim is actually taking any time at all to delve into any of the characters, so we don’t get more than a couple utterly banal lines from him, lines that could be spoken by literally any character. Which remains the case for basically every character in this entire book. You could swap out damned near every single character, and the book would remain exactly the same. The Rogue/Iceman scene is nice, I’ll grant that. Easily the best scene in the issue, and a contender for one of the best scenes in this entire series so far. Guggenheim does a decent job letting them play off each other. But other than that, the series remains boring, because Guggenheim remains a hack who’s incapable of giving the characters any particular depth. There’s no exploration of the relationships between them. There’s no way for any of them to actually grow and change. They’re just there to serve the plot Guggenheim came out with, and to bank off the nostalgia of older readers, and screw that noise. At least the art’s nice, though everyone’s faces look oddly flat, a lot of the time. But this is still a pointless comic.

X-Men Red #2, by Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar, Ive Svorcina, and Cory Petit. A girl named Trinity has been locked up in a small prison cell with no signals coming in. She did something that angered some powerful men, so now she’s being locked up. Trinary tells the guy locking her up that she’s going to email his search history to his mother, and damn, girl plays rough. That is just nasty. Anyway, the news is obviously talking about Jean’s apparent murder of a UK Ambassador the UN, and one newswoman actually suspects there’s more to it, and man, I like this woman. She news what world she lives in! Jean and her team have been given asylum in Wakanda, which Gabby is enjoying. And she meets Gentle. Jean gets a pre-recorded message from Trinary, who explains that she launched a cyber-attack to increase the pay of every woman in India, by stealing from the accounts of the 25 highest-paid CEOs in India. So, a trip to India, and Gabby miiiiight be into girls. She mentions not having processed some feelings for a girl on a bus. Neat. Also, the sequence of Laura, Gabby and Kurt sneaking into the prison is awesome. They’re very good at stealth. I like this issue. I already love Trinary. I mean, her cyber-attack was pretty epic. Good on her. And she’s clearly got foresight, considering she prepared her own escape before she got captured. I’m excited for more of her. I am a little disappointed that this issue doesn’t do more to push the mutant rights angle, the idea that Jean wanted to push. But I guess we have to get the team together first. I do hope we get more of the positive stuff. But Taylor’s also doing some fantastic character work. All the characters are well-written and complex. Gabby, as always, is an absolute delight. I really want more of her and Jean interacting. Gabby just seems to be somehow beyond Jean’s understanding, and Jean doesn’t try to fight that, and it’s fun. There’s good chemistry between everyone so far. The art’s great. Asrar’s lines have the right amount of details. Svorcina’s colours mesh well with the lines. It’s a good-looking title. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, despite a few nitpicks here and there. This looks like it’ll be the best team X-title. I’m excited.

Iceman #11, by Sina Grace, Robert Gill, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino. Bobby daydreams about leading an X-Men team and smooching Judah, while Rictor talks to him about leading a team. They’re having an awkward date. At a place called Pho Gettaboutit, which is a pretty great name. Both of them keep thinking about their exes, and then Bobby’s mom calls him to deal with weird lights coming out of a neighbour’s house. Side note: I still don’t like Rictor’s weird ’70s mustache. They go to deal with the neighbour, who’s an anti-mutant mutant. And Bobby tries to talk him down. And a lot of the conversation is also applicable to coming to terms with one’s sexuality. Metaphor! The issue also has a bunch of flashbacks to earlier periods in Bobby’s life, moments from his childhood. Moments where he felt ashamed of being a mutant, swearing that he wasn’t one. I really like the art in the flashbacks. I think it’s Sina Grace who drew them, and they’ve got a great Silver Age feel to them. It works really well. Anyway, this is end of the Iceman solo. It had some good stuff. Grace did an effective job exploring Bobby coming to terms with being gay, and included some good metaphor stuff to further that. There was good character-driven storytelling. It fell flatter when it got into the superhero stuff. It clearly wasn’t what Grace really wanted to do with this book, so those bits suffered. But it was still good Iceman stuff. Good character work. Gill’s art, well, it’s down to personal taste, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Too many lines, I think, for my tastes. Especially on faces. So I didn’t really enjoy that, for the most part. But he’s a good visual storyteller. He did good work. Kind of a shame the book’s over. Though the biggest obstacle to me enjoying it was always my total apathy regarding Iceman.

Rogue & Gambit #3, by Kelly Thompson, Pere Perez, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. They’re asked what separates them, and they agree it’s trust, and that it comes down to Antarctica. After their first time together – Rogue’s first time at all – and then Gambit was forced to reveal his role in the Morlock Massacre, and Rogue abandoned him in Antarctica when he needed her most. After their session, they swim over to the bungalo of the couple they met the first day, but they’re gone. Suspicious! And here I was sure that couple was looking for some swinging. Anyway, Rogue talks to Gambit about how young she was when they met, and how he became everything to her, and it’s some strong stuff. And then they have sex. Something seems to be limiting their powers. And also messing with their memories, and making them not want to care about stuff they should really care about. They go check out a local hospital, which has an awful lot of people in the psychiatric ward. They head back to the secret lab they checked earlier, which they have only vague memories of, and there’s clones of them. Which means Rogue and Gambit vs. a bunch of Rogues and Gambits, which is a really fun fight. This is another great issue. This is a great mini. Really intriguing mysteries, and really fun banter. I don’t have quite the same fondness for the Rogue/Gambit ship as Thompson does, but she writes it brilliantly, and makes it easy to care. It makes it understandable why they keep gravitating back to each other, and why they keep breaking back up. Rogue, in particular, goes into a lot of depth on her complicated feelings about him. And it’s really good stuff. The art’s great, too. Perez and D’Armata do great work. Really bright and fun, with nice energy. The fight scene is thrilling. Also, the swimming scene is spectacular. Not very long, but yeah, gorgeous artwork there. I’ve loved this mini. I’m eager to see what Thompson’s next Marvel project will be. I’ve already told my LCS to order Nancy Drew, because in addition to Thompson, it’s got Jenn St-Onge on line art, and she’s fantastic.

And here’s what else I got:

Black Bolt #11, by Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward, and Clayton Cowles. The Jailer has taken over Blinky. Poor Blinky! It kills Lash, which I’m fine with. Lash sucked. Black Bolt gets Titania out of there and she finds a couple of Lash’s minions, and tells them they need to go get a crew. And there’s a great conversation between Blinky and Ahura. And man, this is such a good issue. Really strong emphasis on the power of family, gorgeous prose, gorgeous art. One hell of a cliffhanger end. This series is phenomenal.

Hawkeye #16, by Kelly Thompson, Leo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino. Hawkeyes vs. Masque, Eden, and Minions! Johnny has powers! Lots of feels. Lots of fantastic fighting. Just so good. Such a brilliant series. So much fun, so much heart. Just so good. And this is a great finale, even if it came several hundred issues too soon. On the plus side, a letter from Thompson at the back promises Kate will be back in August, so whatever Thompson has lined up, Kate will be involved. So yay for that.

She-Hulk #163, by Mariko Tamaki, Diego Olortegui, Federico Blee, and Travis Lanham. Jen and Patsy chaperone the prom for one of Jen’s client’s kids. The girl is the first mutant to be elected Class President at any school in New York State. I tweeted this last week, when the preview went up, but: She-Hulk somehow managed to do more to show the advancement of mutant rights than 95% of X-stuff. This is the kind of thing that X-Men writers never even think about. They’re all still hung up on the idea that mutants need to hide who they are, but of course there are going to be mutants who are out there, open, and living their lives. Just like any other marginalized groups! Anyway, some jerkasses called Bio Rights are protesting the prom. Jen’s still figuring out some stuff with herself, having to deal with the assholes at her firm, and she kicks some racist ass. Patsy also helps with the ass-kicking, and is delightful about it. This is a great finale to a great series. I like this issue’s focus on how, much as some things still suck, some things are getting better. Slowly, but surely, and the youth are a big part of that, using their anger to fuel their fight for a better world. It’s great stuff. And the Jen/Patsy friendship remains one of the greatest friendships in comics. I’ll miss this series a lot.

Rise of the Black Panther #3, by Evan Narcisse, Paul Renaud, Stephane Paitreau, and Joe Sabino. T’Challa reveals Wakanda’s existence to the world, and a lot of people take notice. Wakanda’s invited world leaders to Wakanda, to show off their tech. And he fights the Winter Soldier, still a Russian assassin. It’s a good comic. Very entertaining.

X-Men comics of February 28 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So Ta-Nehisi Coates is taking over Captain America. That’s great news. Very exciting. I like seeing diverse voices getting chances, and Coates has really impressed me with Black Panther. And he’s bound to bring some fascinating political content to the book. So, yeah, I’m excited. This’ll be my first time collecting Captain America. I’ve always read it on Unlimited, or with digital codes. But I will definitely support Coates on Captain America. Anyway, comics!

X-Men Blue #22, by Cullen Bunn, Jacopo Camagni, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. More of the tie-in with Venom. Yay. I didn’t read the Venom issue, so I’ll just have to roll with what’s going on here. Killer Thrill’s on her way somewhere, and her ship gets hit by a big chunk of ice. The X-Men, who now have symbiotes, are inside the ice. Bobby’s very proud of the success of “Operation Titanic,” and you know what? That’s clever. That’s a good name for the plan. I approve of it. Scott’s also apparently gotten a bit extreme, with his symbiote pushing his emotional state. Jean gets the location of the Starjammers so Scott can find his dad, the rest of the team heads for the bridge to fight the symbiote-enhanced pirates. Oh, and I guess Scott can use his symbiote to create some kind of energy gems from his hands? Or something? Anyway, Jean fights Killer Thrill and some more bad guys show up, and meh, I don’t care about this arc. I don’t care about Venom. I don’t care about Killer Thrill, who feels ’90s in some terrible ways. I don’t care about the “Poisons” that Bunn has made his pet villains lately. I just really don’t care about any of this. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s well-crafted. Jean’s narration is a bit cliche at times. Half the cast remains little more than extras, because Bunn just could not care less about Iceman and Angel, and Beast only matters when he’s screwing up, which isn’t happening in this arc so he doesn’t matter. The art’s really good. Camagni and Milla are having fun with the symbiotes. (I don’t care what they’re called in the comics now. It’s a stupid, stupid word. I’m not typing it, ever.) They do some cool stuff with them in the art. Jean’s got these little blobs floating around her, which is a neat visual. So the book is well-made. It’s just also kinda boring. Because it’s about frigging Venom and symbiotes and anti-symbiotes and ugh. Whatever.

All-New Wolverine #31, by Tom Taylor, Marco Failla, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Jonathan has chewed a leg off Gabby’s pelican statue. Poor pelican statue. This is a national tragedy, I’m taking work off to grieve. So Laura tells Gabby to take him for a walk. He catches a scent and drags her to a lab building, the one where he was hurt, and Gabby calls up Deadpool to help her mess shit up. Jonathan and Deadpool get off to a great start.

All-New Wolverine #31

Gonna save that second panel for future use.

Gabby wants to rescue the animals. And possibly burn down the lab. Turns out the experiments are not what you’d expect, and awful as they are, Deadpool and Gabby can’t help but make it hilarious. It gets dark at times. But Gabby and Deadpool are just so great together. And I think the whole experience brings Deadpool and Jonathan closer together.

All-New Wolverine #31

I love this comic.

This is such a great issue. I really do love the Gabby/Deadpool friendship. They are the most delightful pairing, and they mesh perfectly. They trade off on being each other’s straight men, and they’re both just so weird and silly that it’s just fun reading them together. The fact that it follows up on Jonathan’s introduction, by going back to the lab for some carnage and fire, is really nice. There’s a couple moments that are really heavy. But mostly, it’s just fun. Great art, too. I think I would’ve liked the horror elements pushed a bit harder. I think that would’ve made the whole thing more perfect. Getting a serious horror artist to do the issue would’ve been the best thing. But Failla’s a great artist, and Woodard’s a great colour artist. So I have no actual complaints about the art. Just a “what could have been” thought. But I love this issue.

Legion #2, by Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, Dan Brown, and Travis Lanham. David’s asking a celebrity therapist for help, and she’s initially reluctant, but decides that for the sake of her career, she has to do it. So he takes her into his mind, because he’s kind of a dick. Like, ask first, dude. A French lady keeps Hannah safe. She shows Hannah a memory of an 11-year-old David making a psychiatrist jump out a window. What a dickish kid. Tami, the French lady personality, also tells Hannah about Lord Trauma, and the fact that he’s trying to take over David. And Hannah experiences another of David’s memories, involving a girl who broke his heart when he was 15. I’m not sure what Milligan’s doing actually fits in the established backstory for David. Aside from that, meh. Honestly? It’s kinda not weird enough. I feel like it would really benefit by being weirder. More twisty and confusing and unsettling. A lot of what’s happening is fairly straightforward, with some things being broadcast right before they happen. Tami tells Hannah that something is dangerous, Tami touches it, turns out it was dangerous. Hannah being totally overwhelmed is nice to see, it’s rare to see protagonists in such a state, so it’s a nice change of pace, but even so, it’s not a particularly exciting read. It doesn’t help that I find Torres’ pop-art style to be a bit flat and static and cheerful for this book. Again, not weird enough. It would’ve been fascinating to see what Marco Rudy would’ve done with this comic, actually. He’s someone I could totally see for a Legion story. He would’ve been perfect, because he would’ve been able to leave the reader as lost and confused and freaked out as the characters. As it is? This is just a disappointingly dull comic.

I also picked up:

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #28, by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. The Fantastic Three vs. Super-Skrull! Silver Surfer helps, but Super-Skrull somehow trips Galactus. Which I’m pretty sure shouldn’t happen. Also, Galactus lays a pretty good burn on Moon Girl, I’ll give him credit. Oh, and HERBIE refers to Omnipotentis, the Devourer of Universes, with female pronouns. Neat! The universe-level threat isn’t a dude for once! Anyway, this is still a great series that you should be reading. Really fun, and Lunella’s a great character.

Black Panther #170, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leonard Kirk, Laura Martin, and Joe Sabino. Tetu thinks Wakandans are too tethered to binaries. Black Panther continues to lead his forces against the Progenitors, and Ras the Exhorter. T’Challa notices that sorcery is effective against Ras’ own sorcery. So Shuri uses her own sorcery, and her knowledge of history, to turn some of the magic back against him. And Manifold brings reinforcements that include Storm, and as always, she can’t help but be epic. Also, Shuri calls her “beloved,” and it’s nice to see that she still likes her. Wouldn’t mind seeing them team up. Anyway, it’s a good comic. Great twist at the end. And I really do love Shuri’s use of history as power. There’s something really cool about that. Good art by Kirk, too. This is still a very strong series.

America #12, by Gabby Rivera, Stacey Lee, Annie Wu, Flaviano, Jordan Gibson, Chris O’Halloran, and Travis Lanham. Whatever you think of Rivera as a writer? That is one hell of an art team. America talks to a crystal and gets a power-up, learns about the monsters attacking her home planet, visits them, and finds a peaceful resolution to everything. I wish I could be more disappointed by this series ending. But I’m more disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy it more. Rivera’s plots were OK, but her pacing was poor, and at no point did her America feel like the America I loved from YA and other titles. I desperately wanted to love this series, but it just wasn’t all that good. On the other hand, it had some amazing guest artists, including Stacey Lee. I love Lee’s art. It’s phenomenal. Wasted on this comic, but still gorgeous.

Captain Marvel #129, by Margaret Stohl, Michele Bandini, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Caramagna. Evil Quill is very  upset at how many nemeses Carol has, and I’ll admit, it’s kind of an amusing scene. Dr. Even is actually pretty cool, I like her here. Not entirely sure why, she just seems to work. She also reveals that, after being shot by Quill, she was forced to join her life force to Bean’s, which Carol is not pleased about, and Bandini and Arciniega do a hell of an angry Carol. We also get Dr. Eve’s backstory, and it’s not exactly groundbreaking, but whatever. This is actually a really good issue. It’s solid work. Good pacing. Interesting plot. Some good character bits. A nice mix of humour and drama, with a real sense of weight. This is probably the best the series has been under Stohl, the first time it felt worth reading. It’s not enough, though, so I’ll still be dropping it for a while. I’ll wait and see what the word is on it when it resumes after the whole Infinity thing coming up. If I see people saying it’s great, maybe I’ll resume it. But I’m going to let at least one arc finish before I do. I do really like the art, though. It’s great art.

Also, I just realized that I really, really should have been reading Black Panther: long Live the King. I’ll have to buy that online. I completely missed its very existence, and Nnedi Okorafor wrote a couple of the issues, and she’s really good. I think I might have thought the series was a movie tie-in or something? Oops.

X-Men comics of February 21 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Saladin Ahmed is doing a Quicksilver series, so now I’m going to have to care about Quicksilver. Ugh. And we’re finally getting a Moon Girl animated series! Hurrah! About time! Robbie Reyes is joining the Avengers, but I’m honestly not sure I care enough about Jason Aaron to pick that series up. We’ll see what else comes out of Marvel’s “Fresh Start.” (And we’ll see if it has anything that actually feels anything like a fresh start, rather than The Same Old Thing.) Anyway, comics!

X-Men Gold #22, by Marc Guggenheim, Diego Bernard, JP Mayer, Arif Prianto, Java Tartaglia, and Cory Petit. We get the Tragic Origin of Racist Lady. Turns out her father was a mutant, and an abusive asshole. In the present, Amara’s the only X-Man who’s actually unconscious, with the others playing possum. They get back up, they start to fight back, Avalanche and Pyro vanish, and Shaw, X-Cutioner, Omega Red, and the nanite Sentinel all show up. But it turns out they’re cops that Mesmero made the X-Men think are villains. What a twist. So shocking. The X-Men get arrested, and it turns out Nance paid Pyro to create the situation where that could happen, and now the main team is arrested, and also, the big god monster guy from the Negative Zone arc is back, and uuuuugh. Why does Guggenheim suck so much? And why does he keep getting work? Why does he keep getting major work, despite being such a total goddamn hack? The pacing in this issue is all over the place. The twists are predictable and dull. The characters are lacking in any personality. Guggenheim is a hack. He sucks. He’s a shit writer. He’s formulaic, and he’s more interested in writing his ideas than in writing the characters. Everything is written for the purpose of the next Moment. And not a single one of those Moments is actually interesting. The art’s fine, it’s nothing spectacular, it’s nice that the book has made an effort to keep a relatively consistent overall art style. I appreciate that effort from the editors. They’re doing good work on the artists. Of course, the book might be better at keeping a single art team if it wasn’t biweekly. But Marvel’s really embracing the biweekly bullshit. Because they’re kinda dicks. Anyway. This series continues to suck.

Astonishing X-Men #8, by Charles Soule, Paulo Siqueira, Walden Wong, Roberto Poggi, Edgar Delgado, and Clayton Cowles. Proteus is back, and he’s happy, and he’s hungry. Mystique doesn’t trust X, and Psylocke points out that they should deal with Proteus before getting into drama. She mentions that “not all of us have fought Proteus.” I’m trying to remember if anyone other than Logan has fought Proteus. Probably in some return or another. But the original Proteus Saga happened before Dark Phoenix, and Xavier was in space at the time. So Logan might be the only one in this book who’s faced him before. Also, X is cocky and overconfident and I don’t like him. I get the feeling we’re not supposed to. Logan also seems sceptical of X, and I do enjoy this exchange.

Astonishing X-Men #8

Says a lot that neither are sure if their threats are also flirts.

Logan is ready to go a-stabbin’, but X wants to try talking first. I guess both are fine. So he and Psylocke go into Proteus’ sick and twisted mind. Where some interesting questions are raised about the potential for change, and about who Proteus is, and what he went through. And it’s really, really cool. You know what I said earlier about Guggenheim being a hack whose characters are flat? Yeah, Soule actually knows how to write compelling characters. There’s real conflict between the characters. There’s tensions. There’s also little moments hinting at deep relationships. There’s moments that give insight into characters, their priorities and their personal beliefs. There’s a fascinating bit of philosophical discussion. It’s well-written, and it’s interesting, and it’s enjoyable. And there’s some actually great moments, too! Soule is doing good work on this title. The art team is great, too. Plenty of detail, strong facial expressions and body language, interesting visuals. And then a pretty horrifying visual for the last page. Yugh.

Generation X #87, by Christina Strain, Amilcar Pinna, Felipe Sobreiro, and Clayton Cowles. Jubilee’s alive again, with her powers back. OK, so. Thoughts on this! I’m not really as on board as everyone else is. Look, I grew up on Jubilee. The cartoon, and the comics. I always loved her. I thought it was shitty when she lost her powers. And when she became a vampire? Wow, that was a stupid story. But, hey, it was what it was. And some writers did some really good stuff with it. Strain, in this very series, actually did some really great stuff with it. So, I’m actually disappointed at this reset to her old status quo. I hate resets. I find them boring. I’m much more interested in seeing how changes are played with. And I think turning her back into a living mutant doesn’t open as many potential story avenues as it closes, as well. So, while I’m very much in the minority on this, it’s not really something that I’m particularly happy with. On the other hand:

Generation X #87


M-Plate goes after Jubilee, and inside, Nate explains that he baited M-Plate into stealing his power, because now, every time she touches someone, it weakens the link between Monet and Emplate. He’s a clever one. So, the kids all grab her. And Monet is defeated through the power of nostalgia. OK, the power of memories, of the original Generation X. Admittedly, there’s a lot of great moments shown, and more notably, it’s got a strong focus on the members who are gone – Penance, Skin, and Synch. Maaaaan, they need to bring back Synch. Anyway, it obviously works, Jubilee sasses Emplate, Monet recovers as quickly as you’d expect of Ms. Perfect. And Jubilee and Monet are back to sassing each other, and I love their relationship. They are so much fun together. They are incapable of saying nice things to each other, but they know each other so well that the vitriol just shows their love. Also, Ben hugs Quentin, and I never imagined their friendship is one I would enjoy, but there you go. Also, there’s Ben/Nate smooching! And there’s just lots of characters hanging out and being friends and I just love it. It’s what I love in superhero comics. Keep the big battles, give me characters just hanging out. Oh, also, Roxy and Mercury are seen holding hands, so they’re definitely still a thing, even aside from a tweet Strain made on Valentine’s Day about them. So, that’s neat. I’m really going to miss this title. It was one of the most character-driven books out there, entirely about the relationships the characters have with each other, and their personal struggles with their feelings. I know a lot of people bitched about the lack of superheroics, but I loved it. I loved that it would rather spend time on Trevor’s crush on Lin than on, like, “How will they beat this group of Sentinels?!” Having M-Plate as an overarching threat, almost from the start, gave the series a nice structure, too. It provided an overarching plot, something the book was clearly building to, even if not every issue spent much time on it. This book also did something almost impossible: It made me like Quentin Quire. I’ve hated him since Aaron brought him back, because I disagreed with Aaron’s take on the character. Strain’s take felt more true to the heart of the character, and made him so much more sympathetic, and also just more entertaining. His friendship with Ben was just so bizarrely sweet. I’ll admit the art never quite grew on me. It’s just a taste thing. Pinna’s immensely talented, it just doesn’t really appeal to me. The long faces with super-wide mouths looks weird to me, and I was never able to get over it. But he’s a talented visual storyteller, and the book was never confusing or hard to follow, and that’s pretty crucial in comics. So, yeah, he did a good job. This was such a great series. I really hope Marvel has something else lined up for Strain, because she’s too good not to keep using. Put her on the main X-Men title.

Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #5, by Declan Shalvey, Mike Henderson, Lee Loughridge, and Joe Sabino. I think I forgot this one last month. Stuff happened in it, probably. So I guess now Logan thinks Maddie is a threat who has to be contained? Logan, Deadpool, and Maddie are all standing beneath the base Maddie was being held in, which is now hovering over their heads, while Logan tells her to teleport them away. She leaves Deadpool behind, because yeah, he kinda deserves it. Just in general, really. Once Deadpool digs himself free, he asks Logan where Maddie is, and Logan tells him to forget about her. So, fight! Physical and verbal, because they also call each other out on their parenting skills. Logan says that Maddie’s broken, a killer, just like they are, and she’s dangerous. And we get her backstory. People kept accusing her of theft, then her dad left her, and she accidentally teleported him back, and he died. Pretty explosively, it looks like. Poor girl. And in the present, she makes sure Logan’s going to leave her alone. So . . . meh? This series was crafted well enough. There was some solid humour, and some solid feels. But Maddie’s story ended up feeling kinda generic. There was nothing particularly surprising about any of it. The art’s good, it works well for this book. It fits the two leads well. So I liked the art. But the series as a whole? Eh, it was OK.

I also picked up:

Black Panther Annual, by Priest, Mike Perkins, Andy Troy, Don McGregor, Daniel Acuna, Reggie Hudlin, Ken Lashley, Matt Milla, and Joe Sabino. Three stories. Three legendary Black Panther writers. Priest – who no longer needs a first name – tells a story, set in the present, following Agent Ross, forced into dealing with superhero bullshit again. It is a ridiculous story. I love it. He spends the whole time bitching that he’s a C-7 and doesn’t do this shit any more. It’s a really fun story. McGregor’s story is set in an alternate past, and called “Panther’s Heart.” So, I really like McGregor’s Panther stories. They were all really good. This story is about T’Challa grieving the death of Monica Lynne, his love interest in the McGregor days. She didn’t die in the original comics – this is an alternate reality. It’s a good story. Emotionally powerful, as McGregor’s Panther stories usually were. None of the politics of his classic stories, but instead, a strong story about grief. It’s really good. Hudlin’s story is set in the future, after Wakanda’s taken over the world. He and Storm had a kid, and Doom attacked so T’Challa killed him (and kept him dead), then he had to kill Magneto, and then the Atlanteans settled in Wakanda and that led to black Atlanteans, and then T’Challa and Storm opened schools all around the world, and it’s cool. Good story. It’s a good Annual. Worth picking up, I’d say.

Luke Cage #170, by David Walker, Guillermo Sanna, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Sabino. Dani’s been feeling down, so Luke cuddles with her and tells her a story, and it’s adorable. It’s so good. It’s very much a worthy successor to Kitty’s Fairy Tale. Because it’s what telling a story to a kid is like. Dani isn’t just listening to the story. She’s telling it with her dad. Throwing in all sorts of weird little twists and things. And it’s just the cutest and most entertaining thing. This may be the best single issue of David Walker’s entire career at Marvel. It is just so good, so pure and joyful. Even if you haven’t read any of the rest of his Luke Cage run, I encourage you to pick this issue up. It is too good not to read it. It’s a beautiful, hilarious comic. Need more? OK, here’s a sample:

Luke Cage #170

Face-eating snake hands.

The “eat faces” comes up quite a bit. And is delightful every time. Seriously, so good.

X-Men comics of February 14 2018

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

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

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

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

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

And non-X-titles, briefly.

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

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

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

X-Men comics of February 7 2017

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

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

X-Men Red #1

Yes! This!

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

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

X-Men Gold #21

Enh. Not her best, not her worst.

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

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

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

I also picked up:

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

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

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

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

X-Men comics of January 31 2018

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

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

All-New Wolverine #30

The wrong room to be in.

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

All-New Wolverine #30

Maybe the week’s standout panel.

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

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

Phoenix Resurrection #5

Feel the tension.

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

Phoenix Resurrection #5

Such feels.

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

Phoenix Resurrection #5


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

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

Jean Grey #11


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

Jean Grey #11

“Happy” is not a good description of Rachel.

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

Jean Grey #11

Crazies, or someone with performance anxiety.

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

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

Old Man Logan #34

Yeah, no, not actually true.

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

May as well touch on what else I read.

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

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

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

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