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X-Men comics of August 15 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So I got banned from the CBR forums for repeatedly calling John Byrne an asshole. And honestly? Worth it? In my defence, I only said it because he’s an asshole. And now apparently Marvel’s thinking of bringing him back. Really gotta question Akira Yoshida’s decision-making here. In personal news, I’ve got a job. I’ll be starting at a Rogers call centre in Ottawa on August 27. I’ll need to move up. I’ve got a room lined up, but I’m still waiting on confirmation for it. Once I get up there, I’ll have to find a new comic shop. Sadly, I’ll be missing the order cut-off for Maneaters, Chelsea Cain’s new series with Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna. So I’ll be late getting that first issue. But for now, comics!

Extermination #1, by Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, and Joe Sabino. 20 years in the future, the X-Men are all dead, so business as usual, really. A Mysterious Hooded Figure is annoyed and travels back to fix it. (Going to guess now that it’s Hope. We’ll see if I’m right.) In the present, in Chicago, people are protesting against mutants, because every single human being on the entire planet hates mutants and wants to kill them all.

Extermination #1

This is boring.

A couple mutant kids are about to be attacked, and the O5 (and Bloodstorm) show up to save them and take them to the Xavier Institute. A little later, Scott and Bloodstorm go to a Thai restaurant for a date, which is interrupted by Ahab and a pair of Hounds. Ahab kills Bloodstorm, because we can’t have nice things. Bobby gets attacked, too, with Cable trying to help him. Scott learns who Ahab is from Rachel. The Mysterious Hooded Figure blames Cable for what happens, with the scene implying Cable is the reason the O5 haven’t been able to return to their own time. And Mysterious Hooded Figure kills Cable, and we get to see Rachel react to that, which is nice.

Extermination #1

Rachel’s reaction is handled really well.

I love the fact that Rachel and Cable actually do see each other as siblings. It’s something I’ve always found sweet. I wish we got more of it. I can’t be sad about Cable’s death, because I know he’ll be back. The guy dies every couple years. Cable & X-Force had him die a bunch of times. This comic even includes a back-door for his return. Anyway, there’s some talk of vengeance and stuff, my guess about the Mysterious Hooded Figure was incorrect, though I won’t spoil who it is. So, the thing I find interesting about this is that it actually looks like Rachel will be a fairly notable part of the event, something that rarely happens. A message from Brisson at the end of the book notes it’ll be the final chapter of the O5’s story, so obviously, they’ll be prominent . . . except Bobby, I guess, since he’s already been captured by Mysterious Hooded Figure. Shame about Bloodstorm, she was cool. With X-Men Blue over, I suppose she wasn’t going to be getting any more use, but still. Having a vampire version of Storm running around was neat. Ahab’s return is kinda ugh. That guy. It does mean that Rachel pretty much has to play a role in the story, and I’m glad for her to get something to do, but man, I wish it didn’t have to include Ahab. There’s more to Rachel than a shitty past, but it seems like that’s the thing creators like focusing on with her. She has to Overcome Her Past every time she’s part of the main cast of a book, and it’s boring. Also, this story is yet another Prevent A Bad Future story, which the X-Men have done so many times before. Get some new material, X-office. You don’t have to keep wanking the same handful of Claremont plots all the time. You can move the X-Men into new territory. You can show humans who like mutants. You can show futures that aren’t total shit-heaps. You can do an event without the shocking deaths of any characters. The whole thing’s done well enough. Brisson’s a good writer, Larraz and Gracia a good art team. It’s just they did a good job setting up a story that isn’t particularly new or interesting, so I have trouble caring.

Astonishing X-Men Annual, by Matthew Rosenberg, Travel Foreman, Jim Charalampidis, and Clayton Cowles. Beast goes to a fancy restaurant, and the maitre d’ initially turns him away for not abiding by the dress code (which is honestly kinda fair, he’s wearing a t-shirt and no shoes).

Astonishing X-Men Annual

This is amazing and I love it.

Anyway, he’s there to meet with Jean, Bobby and Hank. On a bittersweet note, there’s an extra place set. Which feels absolutely perfect. We learn that the restaurant they’re at is where Xavier took them after their first mission, and they were all uncomfortable and didn’t like it. Jean brought them there to say that following Xavier’s dream has screwed them all up. Almost all.

Astonishing X-Men Annual

Don’t talk with your mouth full, Bobby.

X, Xavier’s mind in Fantomex’s body, interrupts, and they all have questions. The two most telling questions: Hank asks why he’s not dead, and damn, Hank, that’s kinda cold. And Bobby asks why he has hair, and damn, Bobby. X admits to feeling partially responsible for their pain, and Hank says he’s mostly responsible, and holy shit, I know Hank’s cat-like now, but wow. He invites them back to his house, and then to a local tavern. Everything in the town seems very nice. And Bobby gets a free burger.

Astonishing X-Men Annual

Dammit, Bobby.

He eats that giant burger in under a minute in order to get it for free. Hank points out that the town they’re in, Lago, is a place where a mutant girl was murdered, and the killers acquitted. Some quick checking tells me that Lago appeared in an arc of Alias way back in the day, but that was for something different, so I think this is the first we’re hearing about that girl dying. Hank’s dialogue suggests it happened back in the early days of the X-Men, maybe even before they were assembled. An anti-mutant jerk tells them off, and then gets led off, and there’s definitely something weird going on. I mean, it’s not like it’s tough to figure out what’s happening. Someone is controlling the town and making them all super-nice to mutants. Later, when Bobby’s feeling sick from that burger, he asks Jean if she felt like that after eating a planet, and wow, dude. When they go to talk to X, he reveals that Lucifer is controlling the town. Ugh, that guy. He’s back? We’re going back to that dude now? Do we have to? Anyway, they go after Lucifer, and X says the only way to stop him is to kill him. Anyway, this issue’s kinda weird. It starts with all of them kinda hating that they ever became X-Men and resenting Xavier for how their lives have turned out, and X manipulates them into killing a town and makes them forget it and be proud of what they’ve done over the years, and it’s weird and kinda uncomfortable. X is an asshole. There’s some good tension, some really funny bits. I’m not sure I buy the pity-party at the start, at least not completely. The art feels inconsistent. I like Foreman, but there were weird panels and weird faces here and there. Though the panel of Bobby scorfing a burger is amazing. But yeah, on the whole, mixed feelings about this one.

Weapon X #22, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Yildiray Cinar, Frank D’Armata, Joe Caramagna. Mystique, wearing a really ugly variant on her normal outfit, meets with one of the refugees from Breakworld to sell him some Nuke pills. The Breakworld dude tries to double-cross her, but I mean, come on, how did he expect that to turn out? Does he know who Mystique is? So, Weapon X-Force takes them out, with Domino blowing up a tank of natural gas. Once the money’s been split between them, Domino says she wants to leave and make it up to Warpath, but Sabretooth convinces her to stick around for another mission, to find Monet and return her to her parents. This involves infiltrating a cult.

Weapon X #22

Kinda hate how fun this take on Sabretooth is.

So Smurfy and her security, Dick Steele, get in. And I actually gotta show Mystique’s reaction.

Weapon X #22

THAT FACE.

Turns out Monet was the one who had her parents hire Sabretooth, so she could offer him to the cult. And, damn, she keeps her zipper low under Yinar’s pen. Mega-cleavage. Just so much cleavage. She says she lured Sabretooth there so she could save him, and she’s definitely joined the cult, and the reveal of who the leader of the cult is is pretty neat. Not someone the X-Men normally deal with. A fun issue. This is not some great story, it’s not some fairly silly fun. And it’s good at what it does. Lots of good jokes, some fun action, a neat choice for an antagonist, a little Monet. It’s fun stuff.

Multiple Man #3, by Matt Rosenberg, Andy MacDonald, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. The bunker HQ of the anti-Madrox resistance is under attack, and the Cable/Warlock Madrox tells the regular Madrox he has to get a few of the other Madroxes out using the time bracelets Forge was working on.

Multiple Man #3

Pretty much the whole series is like this.

The bad guys bring in a Madroxnaut (Juggerox? A Madrox who’s also a Juggernaut) who kills Cabledrox, but the Warlock side still works and does more killing, and the sorcerer Madrox deals with Juggerdrox, and the main Madrox sends some dupes around time looking for help. These will become the dupes who all just died. The main Madrox is captured and taken to the Evil Emperor Madrox, and we find out what’s actually going on. And it’s probably the best scene of the series so far, if only because it’s the first scene where it feels like the story gives a shit about itself. Rosenberg pushed the Cool Detachment stuff too far, so it feels like no one in the story is actually all that interested in what’s going on. Which makes it hard for the reader to really care. Because if the characters are so detached, what reason does the reader have to get invested? And it’s a shame because I get what Rosenberg was going for. I get why he went the way he did. He was invoking PAD’s X-Factor, which did the same thing. But PAD’s X-Factor did other stuff, too. It had a lot of sincerity, and this book just doesn’t. That panel I posted really does sum up the whole series. And having that detached humour pushed to such an extreme just ends up making the whole thing boring.

Cable & Deadpool Annual, written by David Walker, with art by *deep breath* Paco Diaz, Danilo Beyruth, Nick Bradshaw, Luke Ross, Marco Rudy, Edgar Salazar, Flaviano, Francesco Manna, and Leonard Kirk, coloured by Chris Sotomayor, Jason Keith, and Marco Rudy, lettered by Joe Sabino. It’s a lot of people. Anyway, it opens with Cable and Deadpool in the middle of a big battle, and Cable yelling at Deadpool for messing with time travel. Flashback to Deadpool being visited by Dr. Gamble of the Time Variance Authority. Deadpool will eventually become and enforcer for the TVA, and someone wants to prevent that by killing Deadpool’s mother before he was born. So he’s given a time plunger to go save her. He goes to the Bronx in 1979. Cable shows up to stop Deadpool from messing with time, and then Incinerators show up, and Deadpool’s mom runs into a time portal. They go searching for her, and she’s a pirate. They escape the giant roboctopus and go to a TVA station in the Old West, where the woman insists she’s not Deadpool’s mother, and is actually a former TVA agent, Ali Ciad. I have no idea if that name is any kind of pun. More fighting, more time chases, and this is possibly the most straight-forward thing Marco Rudy has ever drawn at Marvel:

Cable & Deadpool Annual

This is downright tame, for Marco Rudy.

Wish we got more of Rudy’s art than this one splash. The guy’s amazing and weird. And then Deadpool expounds on the differences between comics and film, arguing that, with comics being a static medium, they’re more participatory, as readers use different voices for each character, and imagine the motion between panels. Meanwhile, visual madness. And then we catch up to where the comic opened. And more stuff happens. This is a lot of fun. Walker has fun with the comic. Lots of pop culture references and dumb jokes and violence. And also Cable and Deadpool being friends. Everything you need in a Cable & Deadpool comic. With all the different art styles, it doesn’t feel like there’s much point in highlighting any of it, aside from that Rudy page, becaise I just really like him. Some of the artists I like, some I don’t. I imagine it’ll be the same for most readers. Diaz is the main artist, though. On the whole, it’s a fun Annual, with a couple of valuable messages about love and family. Good stuff.

Hunt for Guyverine: Claws of A Killer #4, by Mariko Tamaki, Butch Guice, Mark Chater, Jordan Boyd, and Joe Sabino. Sabreooth has discovered his son, Graydon, is alive and working for Soteiro, and wants answers. Deathstrike also wants answers from her father, but has a little more trouble, emotionally, fighting him than Sabretooth does fighting Graydon. She still kills her father, even if she loses a hand first. Sabretooth actually gets beat around a bit by Graydon, and gets rescued by Deathstrike. The two go find the bomb that made the town into zombies, and Sabretooth smacks it until it explodes. This is certainly the final issue of the mini. Meh. Daken died, but he’ll be back. It’s not the first time he’s died. Plus, this mini brought back (and killed again) Graydon Creed and Deathstrike’s dad, so, you know.

Claws of A Killer

They don’t even pretend like his death will be permanent.

Yeah, this mini was deeply mediocre. I like Tamaki, and she did the best she could, but this was just a shameless cash-grab tie-in, and there was no way to make it genuinely worthwhile. Same as the other Search For Guyverine minis. The bastard’s been back for a year already, he’s gotten an 18-issue event to hype his return, that’s going to lead into another mini to hype his return, holy shit, Marvel, WE GET THE GODDAMN POINT, YOU REALLY FRIGGING LIKE LOGAN, WE GET IT. Christ, and today we learned that Old Man Logan, whose solo is ending at issue #50, is getting a 12-part maxi-series to kill him off. Because of course. Obviously. Why wouldn’t they? And when that’s over, I’m sure Regular Logan will get a second solo, in addition to the one he’ll be getting in the fall. Ugh. How am I already so damn sick of a character who’s not in any books? How does that happen? How does the X-Men office manage to be that obnoxious when it comes to Logan? Meanwhile, the franchise that’s a minority metaphor has no solos announced for any POC characters. I have no idea if the Coates/Bartel Storm solo’s still happening or it if’s been abandoned. But no, we definitely need all this hype for Angry Claw Man. Kill the bastard off again.

And the only non-X-title is one that was supposed to come out two weeks ago, Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel & Squirrel Girl #1, by Devin Grayson, G. Willow Wilson, Ryan North, Ramon Bachs, Irene Strychalski, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Clayton Cowles. (Also, Rico Renzi drew a Deadpool Villains Card.) Zombies! Jokes! Level-ups! Arcade’s a jerk! It’s a lot of fun.

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X-Men comics of August 8 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So Cloak & Dagger’s first season is over. It’s a really good show. It’s not afraid to get political and make some Statements, which is cool. There were fantastic performances from the whole cast. Lots to love about the show. If you haven’t watched it, it’s definitely worth it. Anyway, comics!

X-Men Blue #33, by Cullen Bunn, Marcus To, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. Magneto ends up 19 years in the future, and the world kinda sucks. It’s an X-Men future, of course it’s awful. As he wanders through New York, he comes across some Reavers. As he does, he obviously continues his inner commentary, because nothing stops his monologues.

X-Men Blue #33

X-Men and Time in a mutually-abusive relationship? Sounds about right.

Anyway, he draws metal around him to create his uniform, and then turns the Reavers to scrap, because cyborgs fighting a guy who controls metal is as uneven as it gets. Then a young mutant who looks a lot like Nightcrawler (alt-future Nocturne?!) brings him to where a bunch of other mutants are hiding, by a statue erected in his honour. Apparently, he stopped a Reaver Virus, by killing a whole lot of people. This is good. Magneto is confronted with a future he knows he’s responsible for, and he feels bad about it, but he’s also still Magneto which means he’s still pretty arrogant about it. And philosophical, of course. It’s interesting to see Magneto confronted with a Bad Future, I suppose, but just the same . . . ugh, another Bad Future X-Men story. At least this one wasn’t the result of humans hunting mutants, that’s different. Except apparently the Reavers still hunted mutants for sport. Well, whatever, I’m still a bite tired of Bad Futures, even if this one has some different twists from normal Bad Futures. The art’s great. To and Milla both do great work. There’s a great moodiness to the art, conveying really well how bad this future is. And when Magneto makes his armour, he looks appropriately impressive. So the comic looks great, and it’s well-written, it’s just a premise that bores me, unfortunately.

Domino #5, by Gail Simone, Michael Shelfer, David Baldeon, Jesus Aburtov, and Clayton Cowles. Domino and Shang-Chi are surrounded by a bunch of Shang’s old foes. Meanwhile, Diamondback and Outlaw are at the mercy of Topaz and Desmond. Luckily, Diamondback makes a boom. Topaz is hurt, which pisses Desmond off. Back to Domino! At Shang-Chi’s insistence, she’s trying to truly connect with her power in a way she’s never been able to. And it works. But she still has a lot of people to fight. So we get Desmond telling Diamondback and Outlaw his story, while Domino fights a bunch of kung-fu dudes with dumb gimmicks. He talks about how Dr. Rossini hated mutants, without realizing his daughter, Topaz, was a mutant. They had crap lives. Outlaw tries to tell Desmond they can be free now, not caught up in hate. And it turns out Desmond believed Rossini’s talk of mutants being monsters. Desmond and Topaz escape, and Domino gets an absolutely amazing sequence showing how ridiculous great her power is:

Domino #5

Also some great narration.

Seriously, the mace whacking that guy in the face is beautiful. Speaking of beautiful: I love Shefer’s art. He’s great. I like him more than Baldeon. (Baldeon did the layouts for the issue, Shelfer did the art.) The faces aren’t as weird-looking. He does good facial expressions, he does great action. Tone and mood are set really well, with the two different sections having very distinct moods. The craziness of Domino’s nightclub fight, and the dark tension of Diamondback and Outlaw dealing with Desmond and Topaz (and Desmond’s sad backstory). The writing is great, too. Domino is so funny and charming, while Demond is sympathetic, albeit still an ass. Shang-Chi is wonderful, so calm and wise. The issue’s at once fun and tense, and just great.

Old Man Logan #45, by Ed Brisson, Juan Ferreyra, and Cory Petit. Bullseye drives a cop car through a mall, Vendetta tags the car with a tracer, andshe, Logan, and Shotgun steal a car to give chase. Glob is still trying to get info at the school Bullet’s kid was kidnapped from, but he’s having trouble because he’s a visible mutant. Logan talks to Vendetta about how hunting bad guys is an endless job. They hunt Bullseye down and actually beat him. But there is, of course, still the matter of Bullet’s kid. And . . . eh, this whole arc is going to depend on how much you like Bullseye. I generally find him obnoxious. The comic works really hard to paint him as a legitimate threat, and it does this by having him kill tons of people while keeping at least one step ahead of the people chasing him. The thing is, almost none of the killing he does feels like it really matters. There’s dead bodies around him, and the book doesn’t treat them as people we should care about. All the terrible things he does have this weird “oh what a bad boy” vibe to them. Like we’re meant to find it entertaining. And I don’t. I don’t find Bullseye’s antics entertaining. I find them horrible. And the way the story keeps glossing over Bullseye’s atrocities bugs me. It’s harder for me to enjoy the story, because it treats his victims as meaningless. They don’t matter to the larger narrative at all. They’re just there to show Bullseye’s crazy. The art’s great, though. Ferreyra does solid work. He does a good car chase sequence, and a cool moment of a car crashing and flipping.

Old Man Logan #45

Brutal-looking.

On the whole? This arc is very skippable, I’d say.

Hunt For Guyverine: Adamantium Agenda #4, by Tom Taylor, R.B. Silva, Adriano di Benedetto, Guru-eFX, and Joe Sabino. Another flashback to the New Avengers days, and Logan telling the others to make sure Stark honours his wish of his body being taken care of. He notes he’s 80% sure they can trust him. In the present, the team’s come across one of Sinister’s bases, where he’s stored the DNA of everyone on the planet. Spider-Man admires the search function. He is a geek.

Hunt For Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda #4

Never underestimate the appeal of a well-done spreadsheet.

The team finds all the scientists and guards are all dead. They briefly fight Sinister, and then they have to make a choice whether to destroy the genetic database Sinister’s acquired. Also, there’s a couple reveals, one a personal thing for Laura, the other more general to the X-Men. Honestly? This mini still feels completely pointless. The reveal about Laura doesn’t really mean much. It’s nice for her, but changes nothing. The other reveal, well, we’ll see how it goes. But the story as a whole? Nothing was accomplished. It tied into the whole Hunt For Logan thing only very, very slightly. And it lacks the fun of Mystery In Madripoor or Claws of A Killer. Sinister gets a very poor showing, which is disappointing, since Sinister is awesome. The art is fine, Silva gets a bit blobby for my taste at times, but it’s mostly great. Taylor writes the characters well. It’s just that the whole story feels utterly meaningless.

That’s the X-stuff. I also picked up:

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #35, by Ryan North, Derek Charm, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Squirrel Girl, Kraven, and friends, vs. Spider-Man, for the fate of Kraven. The fight is really mostly done through philosophical debate, because this is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. It is a good comic.

Champions #23, by Jim Zub, Kevin Libranda, Francesco Manna, Marcio Menyz, and Clayton Cowles. Snowguard vs. Man-Thing! And it looks like Amka prefers rage to fear. The Champions fight Man-Thing, the Master of the World still has plans that involve the team, and Viv has an adventure in her mind. And we get the set-up for the upcoming Champions In Weirdworld arc, which looks like it’ll be great. This is really good. Zub finally gets Viv restoring her emotions. There’s also more of Sam feeling useless without his powers. And there’s other great stuff.

Quicksilver: No Surrender #4, by Saladin Ahmed, Eric Nguyen Rico Renzi, and Clayton Cowles. Quicksilver shows Mr. Dibbles the sights!

Quicksilver #4

This should be the entire issue.

He also fights more of his coloured duplicates, and learns more about them, thanks to Wanda’s occasional visits. And he changes his clothes. It’s a good issue. Ahmed’s doing a good character examination here, getting into Pietro’s anger, and his difficulty accepting responsibility. Good art, too. I’m enjoying this series.

Exiles #6, by Saladin Ahmed, Rod Reis, and Joe Caramagna. Reis’ art is gorgeous. The first bit of this issue is the team relaxing in the Bahamas, and it looks beautiful. Then they go searching for Blink’s old team, and end up in the Wild West. Or a Wild West, I suppose. And, uh, Valkyrie’s the best.

Exiles #7

The. Best.

And then there’s an Old West version of the Brotherhood. Also, I don’t want to spoil the last-page surprise, but eeeee. So cool.

Nancy Drew #3, by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St.-Onge, Triona Farrell, and Ariana Maher. It’s great!

I also got my copy of X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis, though I haven’t read it yet. And I got a copy of Alpha Flight #1! It was $10, so I figured, screw it, I may as well own a copy of Alpha Flight #1. The guy threw in #2, as well.

X-Men comics of August 1 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Saturday was my 6th anniversary of signing up for this site. And wow, have I ever slacked off. It’s been close to a year since I did anything other than these weekly review posts. I want to go back and edit a bunch of my older posts, add some panels and more detailed thoughts. I’m also thinking about adding categories for characters. Team members, antagonists, and supporting characters. Just things I need to think about. Anyway, here’s comics.

X-Men Gold #33, by Marc Guggenheim, Michele Bandini, Erick Arciniega, and Cory Petit. Guggenheim starts the issue by ripping off Lifedeath:” Once upon a time, there was a woman who could fly.” Screw you, Marc, you haven’t earned that line. Think you can get people interested in your crap writing by referencing much better writing. No. Anyway, the Kenyan village that worshiped Storm have lost faith in her and begun to worship someone else, with Ainet refusing to forsake her. She prays for the old gods to make Ororo a true goddess, which is apparently why the hammer flew to her. And then Ainet died. In the present, Jean gives Rachel a psychic evaluation to make sure there’s no aftereffects from Mesmero’s manipulations. But here’s something that bugged me:

X-Men Gold #33

Why is Jean objecting?

Jean stopped having a problem with Rachel calling her “mom” back in the ’90s. The X-Men Red Annual showed her being fine with Rachel calling her mom. So this bugged me. Anyway, Rachel’s fine now, but Kitty has reservations about putting her back in the field, which is probably reasonable. Ororo is over at the Wakandan consulate, where she’s told about Ainet’s death.

X-Men Gold #33

She was a Queen long before she married T’Challa.

So she prepares to go to Africa, alone. Rachel breaks up with Kurt. I guess she figures that now that Kitty’s back on the market, maybe needing a rebound, her chances have never been better. I know it’s not what Guggenheim’s getting at, but I can’t read it any other way. Also, turns out the new god that Storm’s old village worship is called Uovu, which Storm notes means “evil.” Which is something. What kind of god actually names himself “Evil.” That feels a bit on-the-nose, you know? “Let me tell you about my god, Mutilator. He’s a merciful god, for a certain value of merciful.” Though I do have to say, Storm’s lightning bolt earrings are very on-brand. You know, I think having Michele Bandini on art really enhanced my enjoyment of this issue in general. I like his style. There’s a softness to it that I really like. And he draws Concerned Faces very well, which obviously works well for X-Men Gold, where that’s the default expression. This is actually a good example of how vital art is to comics. A lot of the artists who’ve worked on Gold, I’ve found to be good, but not artists who really appealed to me in a big way. I really enjoy Bandini, though, and it means I enjoy the comic that much more. It helps that Guggeheim is now writing characters other than Kitty. I love Kitty, she’s one of my favourite characters, but Guggenheim favoured her way too much, to the detriment of the series. On the plus side, the series was so bad for so long, that Not Bad actually feels pretty good. I’m probably still being too hard. This is still pretty bland, though. An African village starting a death cult feels a bit, um, questionable. Guggenheim even acknowledges it, by having one of the villagers deny it and say it’s American sensationalism. But it actually is a death cult. It’s a white American writing about Africans joining a death cult. It’s not really his story to write, and there’s a certain colonial attitude at work here. It was awkward enough when Claremont did that shit in the ’70s and ’80s. Now, in 2018? Yeesh. The Rachel stuff is less awkward, but it’s still not exactly original. When she breaks up with Kurt, she talks about how she almost killed her friends, and she worries about how much of her mom is in her. But this is ground that’s been covered before, and Guggenheim brings no new insights to it. Which, again, is typical of Guggenheim’s whole run. He rehashes stories that have been told, without having anything interesting to add to them. Shit, even Storm going back to the village in Kenya is something we’ve seen plenty of times before, including in the last 5 years. I want to say there was an Extraordinary X-Men Annual that did it? She had to deal with some villain who blamed her for destroying his own village? So, yeah, I really enjoy the art in this issue, it makes it a lot more enjoyable a read, but Guggenheim is still pointless.

X-Men Gold Annual, by Seanan McGuire, Marco Failla, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit. This is about Kitty’s first kiss. It wasn’t with a girl, just to get that out of the way. I mean, I think we all knew it wouldn’t be, but still. Anyway, flashback to when Kitty was 14, and going to a camp for summer break. As soon as she gets off the bus, she gets tackled by a girl, Madison. She and another girl, Sarah, drag her to their cabin. And she has fun at camp, and clearly has more energy than the other kids, who don’t understand how she can exercise so much. Also, she loses her phone, so she slips out to go look for it while also doing more training. She is a freak and this is why I could never be a superhero. And she accidentally finds a group of older kids who’ve spent years stealing things. She decides to redistribute all the stolen things that she can. The next night, she teaches them a lesson.

X-Men Gold Annual

Kitty pretending to be a ghost is always great.

The next morning, one of the guys she scared talks about seeing a mutant, and says the woods aren’t safe for “normal” people. Kitty’s spent the whole time trying to be normal, so the comment hurts her and she runs off. Then Madison turns out to be anti-mutant, so she freaks out and runs again, and runs into another guy. He’s honestly kind of a dick. He complains that she never spoke to him before, even though they’ve been going to the same camp for years. He also accuses her of being bigoted against mutants. She spends the next few days being bullied for being a mutant sympathizer. She then finds out Asher, the guy she argued with, is a mutant. He can create little lights will-o-wisps. And they smooch, but Asher freaks out and says it would be wrong for them to have kids. Dude, you’re 14 and smooching a girl at summer camp. Maaaaaybe don’t start freaking out about possible kids? Anyway, this was pretty good. It was good for what it was: A throwback to Kitty’s youth and her first kiss, and how kids are assholes. I’m pretty sure that’s the theme: Kids are assholes. OK, there’s more going on than that. But that’s definitely a major element of the story. We see a girl in a wheelchair get pushed off a dock, we see some of the kids stealing stuff from the other campers, we see Kitty getting bullied for defending a marginalized group. Even Asher tells Kitty off for being popular. So, yeah: Kids are assholes. I imagine the story was also trying to draw on the queer metaphor. The kids talking about mutants not being normal, and shunning someone who stands up for them, and even trying to attack someone they only suspect is a mutant. (A couple of kids were looking for Asher to beat him up, because they thought he was a mutant.) Sadly, this is X-Men, so a metaphor is all that’s really allowed. It would’ve been way more powerful if Asher was a girl, or hell, make him a trans boy. I suppose it would’ve needed more space if he was trans, but still, having a queer metaphor also feature textual queerness would’ve made for one hell of a story. But, like I said, that’s not what the X-Men do. Because that would be so much more progressive than they’re actually willing to be. They want to promote tolerance and diversity through characters who are predominantly white and straight, with a few token POC and queer characters thrown in. It’s my biggest problem with the franchise as a whole, frankly. And I’m picking on this one comic as an example of it and that’s probably not fair, but whatever, it’s an absolutely perfect example of it. One of Kitty’s camp friends is an Asian-American girl who gets almost no lines. The girl in the wheelchair is seen in only a single panel in a montage, and it’s to show her getting pushed off the dock. Holy shit, disabled people get so little representation in superhero comics as it is, and this comic throws one into a fucking lake and doesn’t show her again. Is she still alive? Who cares! It’s not like she actually matters! She’s only there to prove that Kids Are Assholes. Kitty mentions her again in passing near the end as an example of regular people being more dangerous than mutants. And none of this is the intent of anyone involved in making the comic. They’re all good people. Apparently, McGuire herself is disabled and sometimes has to use a wheelchair! So there was certainly no malice involved. And the girl being pushed into the lake was apparently based on something McGuire saw at camp when she was younger. And the moment is meant to show that bullshit’s been happening at the camp all along, and Kitty just hadn’t noticed until it involved her. Which, uh, yeah, that’s pretty accurate. But it’s still messed up. And it wouldn’t feel quite so messed up if there was better disabled representation in Marvel’s comics. And it’s the same thing with this issue being a queer metaphor in a franchise that vastly prefers metaphor to actual representation.

But hey, all that aside, the story’s fun, McGuire writes young Kitty very well, very much the way she was at the time. Failla’s art is not for me. I don’t enjoy his style, for the most part. Some bits look fantastic, but most of it just looks weird to me. Nothing against him as an artist, it’s all down to taste. Still, on the whole, I don’t feel this comic was worth having in my physical collection. Oh well.

Astonishing X-Men #14, by Matthew Rosenberg, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Clayton Cowles. Zombie Banshee takes out the Reavers attacking Havok and Beast. One of the Reavers kills himself rather than be questioned, another gets taken out by Warpath suddenly bursting in to rescue Beast.

Astonishing X-Men #14

Friggin’ Greg Land.

I want to get better about posting at least one panel from each comic each week, if only to show the artwork. I decided to start doing this in a week with a Greg Land comic. My timing sucks. But holy hell, look at that. Anyway, yeah, Warpath kills the guy, and says Kitty sent him to keep an eye on Havok. Rude, Kitty, I’m sure Warpath has better things to be doing. I gotta say, I like how Rosenberg writes Beast. Havok and Warpath go to see Colossus, to try to recruit him. Colossus is doing great.

Astonishing X-Men #14

Photo-referenced from Every Bachelor Pad Ever.

Colossus agrees to join, so he can hit things without Kitty around. Alex then calls Hank, who says he found a list of names in one of the Reavers’ heads, and Alex is #36, right behind Hellion. Which has gotta hurt. Anyway, to find #2 on the list, they go to a club, where Dazzler’s performing. In her old-school disco outfit, because apparently she’s doing an anniversary tour for her old album. She agrees to join the team, but then Alex says they’re there for Forge. She’s unhappy. On the plus side, she does get a chance in this issue to be badass and boastful. And Colossus gets one of the best lines he’s ever gotten.

Astonishing X-Men #14

You did ask, dude.

So, this issue is odd. In so many ways. Alex’s current loser personality is fun. Clearly meant to evoke the Fraction/Aja take on Hawkeye, but it’s fun, he gets some funny lines, so OK, I’ll accept it. Rosenberg writes a great Beast, and a good Warpath. And his Colossus is entertainingly self-pitying, given the whole wedding thing. I like how confident his Dazzler is – she knows she’s awesome, and she loves showing it off – but Rosenberg maybe went a bit far with her having no audience. One of my favourite Dazzler tropes is her going to a bar where no one knows what to expect from her, and her just blowing everyone’s minds. And Dazzler canonically has, at the very least, a cult following. We don’t know where this particular show was happening, but I’d still expect there to be more than a few people watching. Obviously, Rosenberg and Land are trying to build this team as a bunch of people who aren’t doing well right now, so Dazzler’s tour going poorly plays into that. As for Land . . . look, I have nothing new to say about him. He traces. He recycles what he traces. And even the things that aren’t traced often look traced and unnatural and creepy to me. I showed some panels there. If that looks good to you? Then OK. I don’t understand you, but OK. I hate it. I think it drags down the comic. But whatever. Overall, the comic’s fun, but it’s very odd.

Weapon X #21, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. Warpath and Sabretooth fight, the Winter Guard go after Domino and Deathstrike, and Omega Red keeps taunting his brother, the head of SICKLE. Vassily shoots him in the gut, calls on the Winter Guard to stop Omega Red, and runs away. The tiger cub gives chase. Oh no. No no no, don’t let the cute kitty tiger cub get hurt. So it’s Omega Red, Domino, and Deathstrike against the Winter Guard.

Weapon X #21

And Domino gets to fight a bear.

I know that art won’t be for everyone, but I really like it. Vassily is about to shoot the tiger – noooooo – but Warpath crashes through the hall with Sabretooth, which collapses the walls and floor. And the tiger almost falls down a hole – noooooo – but Sabretooth grabs him. Ye gods, this book is messing with my heart with this kitty.

Weapon X #21

Hang in there!

Up on the Helicarrier’s deck, things are insane. Just absolutely insane. And it’s glorious. And Sabretooth keeps trolling Warpath, which is genuinely funny. Vassily makes his way to the escape pods, but General Zaslon, the mutant lady from the last couple issues, is waiting for him, and kills him, good for her. She then calls an end to hostilities . . . mostly.

Weapon X #21

I can’t not enjoy a bear getting punched.

So, this comic’s ridiculous. It’s over-the-top. And it’s great. It’s just a really fun comic. Are there any deeper themes being explored here? I honestly don’t care, because a bear gets sucker-punched, and a tiger cub gets rescued. I am rooting for that tiger cub, and I will never stop rooting for him. Kotik for X-Pets or something. I love the art, it’s very kinetic, and it’s got a ferocity that works well for the Weapon X team, but it’s also got a cartoonishness that really pushes the comedic beats. And that goddamn bear sucker-punch! That is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. He’s so serious, and then, “kapow!” Beautiful. So, yeah, just turn your brain off and have a blast reading this.

Hunt for Guyverine: Weapon Lost #4, by Charles Soule, Matteo Buffagni, Jim Charalampidis, and Joe Sabino. Daredevil, Misty, and Frank are checking out the apartment of a lead who died, and a bomb goes off. Misty saved them by generating a shield from her arm. Also, her arm can apparently telescope. She’s Inspector Gadget. Frank suggests they go to where the dead guard worked, which was Soteira. They check it out, and after a firefight, they get some information from the computers, and find Logan is working for Soteira, doing terrible things.

Weapon Lost #4

Maybe they want him to pet puppies?

What a pointless mini this was. The stuff with Albert ended up being filler. There were some charming character dynamics, and Cypher with a bushy beard was interesting. Cypher as an Internet addict was kinda fun, I suppose. But other than that? Pointless. Just a shameless cash-grab. And this mini wasn’t even one you could turn your mind off for to enjoy. Like, with Mystery In Madripoor, and Claws of A Killer, you can just turn off your mind and have fun. But this one is pretty serious. Which actually makes it less worthwhile, because it’s still pointless and mostly filler. The art’s OK, not my style, but hey, that’s fine, not everything is for me. But yeah, give a complete pass on this mini.

And for non-X-Men, Captain America #2, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Joe Caramagna. Steve fights more Nukes and battles more self-doubts, while the government, through General Ross, wants him to keep a low profile for a while. And Steve and Sharon make a really sweet couple. It’s really good. This is a fantastic character piece about Steve. I’m still not a fan of Yu’s art style, but the story Coates and Yu are telling is excellent. Loads of pathos, and it gets into Steve’s head in a really compelling way. It implies that one of Steve’s biggest flaws, the thing that made his alternate self’s takeover possible, was his need to be strong. He wanted to be strong so he could fight the Nazis, so he could be A Man. It’s an interesting angle. This is great, highly recommended.

I wanted the new issue of Marvel Rising, but apparently it was delayed due to a printing error. That’s what my LCS said, anyway. Dang it.

X-Men comics of July 25 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Life is awful and terrifying, hahahahaaaa. Comics!

X-Men Blue #32, by Cullen Bunn, Andrés Genolet, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. First, a flashback to the first X-Men/Magneto fight. Then, a current X-Men/Magneto fight. He wants to kill Emma in vengeance for the mutants he was forced to kill during the Mothervine thing. I appreciate that Emma, in her fine white suit, seems more annoyed than scared. Magneto’s also pretty pissed at them for leaving the planet. It’s a good fight. They find flaws in his force field, and Scott blasts him through it. Kind of a new thing. He’s not down long, though, and Jean has to get Pickles to teleport Emma away. Interestingly, for all this issue is a fight over Emma’s life, she doesn’t get much to do. A couple glib lines, and then she spends a lot of time with pipes wrapped around her throat trying to break her. A little disappointing, I could’ve done with more Emma, but “I could do with more Emma” is pretty much always true. And I understand why it was done this way. The issue was really about Magneto and the X-Men falling out. Magneto gave his thoughts on each of them, aside from Bloodstorm, and he’s got some interesting thoughts. Actually, he doesn’t have any opinion on Iceman, either, which is a pretty good reflection of how Iceman’s been treated throughout this entire run. Man, Bunn really, really did not care about Iceman. And one the one hand, it’s hard to blame him, because I’ve never cared about him, either. But at the same time, dude, he’s in your book, do something with him. Give him a focus issue now and then. Oh well. Magneto vs. Jean is the core of the issue, a battle of wills between them. Which is cool. Magneto and Jean have never had much of a relationship, for good or bad, so it’s been interesting, with this series, seeing a relationship between them. It’s too bad this series wasn’t more character-driven, because I definitely would’ve liked to see more of that. But the way the series was handled, there was a lot of moving from one fight to the next, without a lot of time to develop the character dynamics. This issue would’ve been a lot more powerful if Magneto’s relationships with these X-Men had had more development throughout the rest of the series. Even so, it’s a good issue. Good art. Genolet’s a new one to me, but he seems pretty good. I did notice a bit of a quirk with the way he draws mouths: He tends to have the right side of mouths open wider than the left. It happens a lot. Obviously, there are also plenty of panels where the whole mouth is open wide, but the right side opening wider happens often enough that, once you notice it, you can’t unsee it. It’s weird. Not bad, just weird. That aside, nothing stood out as awkward, and there was some good work with characters and with backgrounds. Genolet didn’t get to show a lot of emotions – mostly scowling – but I’m sure he does a good job with less angry emotions, and he handles action well. He makes the issue look intense. So, all in all, a good issue, before the series jumps into yet another event before the end.

Mr. and Mrs. X #1, by Kelly Thompson, Oscar Bazaldua, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Sabino. The wedding! Laura offers to stab Gambit, Bling! provides rings, Laura in a short dress looks deeply wrong to me. Illyana thinks spiders are icky, which is hilarious and I agree. Jubilee is super into the wedding. And Mystique shows up for the wedding! It’s actually a really sweet moment between them. Rogue doesn’t trust Mystique, and Mystique completely understands, but still wants to be there for her daughter’s wedding, and Rogue hugs her. Rogue wears a power dampening collar for the wedding, and the honeymoon, which is reasonable. It’s something that’s been suggested so often by readers as a way for her to touch people when she wants, and I guess Thompson just decided to go with it. On the honeymoon, Rogue complains that they haven’t even left the bedroom yet, and then pretty much immediately has sex with Gambit again. The honeymoon is above some other planet, by the way. Then Kitty calls them with a mission. This comic is so much fun. So charming, so funny. Rogue and Gambit have great chemistry. There’s some really nice moments throughout the issue, touching on existing relationships between characters. There’s a lot of Gambit-bashing, which is always enjoyable.

Mr. and Mrs. X #1

No one wants to be on Team Gambit.

It’s just an absolute blast, with a lot of sweetness and love. And then they get their mission, and the plot gets started, and I’m intrigued. Next issue has Technet! Woot! The art is great. Really pushes the romantic angle well. Also does action really well. This is such a great comic, I highly recommend it. Just wonderful stuff.

X-23 #2, by Mariko Tamaki, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Sophie’s dead. Again. Laura gets woken up by Gabby for pancakes. Also, Jonathan eats at the table, which is probably a bad idea, but oh well. Laura and Gabby continue to argue about birthdays.

X-23 #2

I really like this bit.

Side note: Laura and Gabby have a Snikter claw sharpener. Also, Gabby is learning how to use nunchuks. The Cuckoos prepare to embark on their plan, which will mean leaving the school forever. Mindee isn’t entirely comfortable with it. She’s the good one. And I don’t normally post stuff from late in an issue, but this is gorgeous:

X-23 #2

Damn.

Cabal and Woodard kill it. That is spectacular. It’s cool and creepy and beautiful. I love this issue. There’s more tension between Laura and Gabby about the topic of birthdays. Gabby’s a bit of a brat about it, but Laura’s also being unreasonably strict about it. Because they’re different people. Laura, for all her growth, still has a cynical streak. She’s overcome her childhood, but it was still a shitty childhood, and so she views birthdays as being largely meaningless. Gabby’s optimistic, she’s a happy person, and a birthday appeals to her as a celebration of life. Laura dwells a bit on being a clone, still struggles to rise above that, so a birthday, to her, is a reminder of what she is. To Gabby, a birthday is something to help her feel more normal, something to affirm her personhood, regardless of her origin. People have birthdays, she’s a people, she should get a birthday. It’s a believable point of conflict for them. The Cuckoos, meanwhile, are also really compelling. I love Mindee. She’s the sweetest of the bunch, and it’s so sad seeing the others pretty much forcing her to go along with the plan.

X-23 #2

Poor Mindee.

The art’s very good. Cabal does such a good job with facial expressions throughout the issue, and in a story like this, that’s crucial. Gabby’s pout, or Mindee’s look of longing, he gives the characters personality. And he throws in a few little visual gags here and there. There’s a particularly interesting student (the same panel suggests the Cuckoos might have shoved someone down the stairs). The whole issue is a wonderful blend of comedy and drama that I just love. This is a great comic. (With the wrong title. Nope, not over it.)

Multiple Man #2, by Matthew Rosenberg, Andy MacDonald, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. Other Madroxes from the future are taking Madrox back to the future to save the world, since he failed to save it by traveling to the present. 15 years in the future, Madrox is apparently kind of a despot. He and the other hims stop a couple Madrox cops from beating a kid, and then fight some more cops. They’re then taken to the Resistance, which seems to just be a kid in a small room in the sewers. Also, some Madroxes. And Forge’s severed head in a robot body. And hey, Layla! She’s the mother of the Resistance’s 15-year-old leader, Davey. Cool to see Layla again, even if she does confirm that the Terrigen cloud killed the Jamie she was married to. I still think that was cruel. Madrox got a happy ending, and then, just for the sake of a shock death, they killed him off. Bleh. After Layla tells him off, Jamie goes for a walk, sees posters of dead heroes (and Rosenberg), and sees an execution. And he comes up with a convoluted plan to fight against his tyrannical counterpart. This is . . . kinda hard to review, really. It’s weird. It’s fun. But is it good? Tough to say right now. We’ll have to see where the mini goes. I’ll admit, once again, that my bitterness over Dead Souls’ lack of Karma is clouding my opinion here. But the book’s funny, so your enjoyment of it will come down to whether the humour fits your tastes. There’s a certain detached nature to the humour, in both the writing and the art. I go back and forth on it. I like it, but I also thinks it becomes too much at times. The whole comic feels detached from itself. It’s weird. It could do with just a bit more sincerity, I think. Maybe that’ll come, though.

Hunt for Guyverine: Mystery In Madripoor #3, by Jim Zub, Thony Silas, Felipe Sobreiro, and Joe Sabino. Domino reflects on having a fun time with Logan. Which mostly involved lots of killing people, and then having sex. In the present, Domino, Kitty and Jubilee use one of Viper’s guys to sneak into Viper’s fortress to stop a satellite launch. Inside, Viper’s being told to launch the satellite despite the storm, and then Sapphire stumbles in, ranting about Logan being there. The fact that only she sees him, and his pinkish-purple colour, is probably a clue. Viper calls up Mindblast, who’s apparently in the process of raping Magneto, maybe? She’s sitting on his lap. It kinda looks like she was going to rape him. Then she and Knockout get attacked by Kitty and Jubilee. And Jubilee is still The Best.

Mystery In Madripoor #3

No one sasses quite like Jubilee.

Domino is also pretty great at the sass.

Mystery In Madripoor #3

Domino leaning a bit on the fourth wall with that ’90s girl comment.

This is, once again, a lot of fun. It’s a shameless cash-grab tie-in, but the creative team is clearly enjoying themselves. I still think a story about Kitty, Jubilee and Armour going to Madripoor for some mission would be one of the funnest things ever. Jubilee is just so good. She’s made of snark here and I enjoy that. I loved Jubilee as a teacher in Generation X, I think that was a really interesting angle for her, and she fit the role well. But I will always love seeing Jubilee jumping into fights and taunting bad guys. Kitty gets very little to do here, but Domino is good. Her recollections of “the bad old days” she spent with Logan. The story also escalates well, at the right times. The art is probably going to be divisive. I like it. I think it works for a story in Madripoor. A bit rough and wild, lots of energy and tension. It won’t be for everyone, and there have been comics where I haven’t enjoyed Silas’ lines, but here, it works. This issue makes me wish, once again, that this whole story had nothing to do with Logan. Oh well.

Old Man Logan #44, by Ed Brisson, Juan Ferreyra, and Cory Petit. Bullseye is interrogating Bullet, a Daredevil villain from the Nocenti/Romita days, a big bruiser whose kid was obsessed with the threat of nuclear war. Which reminds me: The Nocenti/Romita Daredevil run is spectacular and you should definitely read it. It is so. Frigging. Weird. But amazing. Anyway, Bullseye ‘s looking for information on Joy, the woman trying to kill him. She hired Bullet and Shotgun in a previous story. Joy and Logan are looking for Bullseye, and also check on Bullet. Bullet tells them to get his son somewhere safe, so Logan calls Glob, then rescue Shotgun from Bullseye. On a side note, Bullseye does kill Jet and Spit, two really minor guys from the Nocenti/Romita Daredevil. No big loss, they were actually more annoying than entertaining. Anyway, the best part of this issue is Bullet. Other than that? I don’t care. It’s Logan vs. Bullseye. Two characters I don’t care about. And a woman I know nothing about, wearing a generic Fancy Paramilitary Costume and wanting revenge. Yippee. We don’t even get that much action. This issue has so little actually going on in it, and I don’t care about it. The art’s fine. The roughness fits the story. But it’s not enough to save the story.

Wakanda Forever: X-Men, by Nnedi Okorafor, Ray Anthony-Height, Alberto Alburquerque, Juan Vlasco, Keith Champagne, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Sabino. By the way, I got the Skottie Young variant cover. It’s pretty adorable. I didn’t even know there was one until I saw it on the shelf. I love it. Years ago, when Nakia was training for the Dora Milaje, she went to a secret cave and performed a ritual where she saw an older version of herself and did a simple math problem. Then Storm, after visiting T’Challa, spots Nakia crying, and offers her comfort. It was ’70s Storm, and she was so nice to Nakia. And Nakia seemed to resent her for it. In the present, Ororo’s shopping to make a meal for T’Challa’s visit. Rogue and Kurt are with her.

Wakanda Forever: X-Men

And Rogue is kinda dirty.

Then Nakia comes in, and there’s a fight. This is really good. This is much better than the Spider-Man one. That one was fun, but this one’s got a lot more drama and excitement. The fight is great, with Ororo being particularly epic, as she should be. Storm is made of epicness.  Her hair looks great here. This is part of the value of having black artists drawing black characters. You get black hair. Storm seldom has black hair styles, and I gotta say, the braids look good on her. She works them. Rogue looks pretty damn good, too. The Mimic-23, the thing Nakia’s been using to attack people, also looks really cool here. It mimics Storm, so it immediately becomes badass and awesome. There’s a lot of fun character interactions. I want to especially highlight how Okorafor writes ’70s Storm different from modern Storm. ’70s Storm has the formality and innocence she had back then. Modern Storm is more casual, more relaxed, but also shows an attitude. It’s good work. The writing and art both just work better here, somehow. Maybe because it’s X-Men. I do love me some X-Men. The Dora Milaje themselves get less focus in this issue, especially Aneka and Ayo, though there’s a really sweet moment between Ororo and Okoye, showing their friendship and affection. But that’s fine. It’s still a great comic. I definitely enjoyed it.

There’s also X-Men: Grand Design, but I forgot to pre-order it, so I won’t be reading it for two weeks. But I’m pretty sure it covers the early ANAD X-Men days.

And the only non-X comic I got this week was Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #33, by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain and Travis Lanham. Lunella and Devil have swapped minds, and now Devil is chasing Princess around the classroom, and it’s hilarious. This issue mostly focuses on the brain-swapping complication. It creates problems, and it’s funny. And then there’s one hell of a cliffhanger at the end. Very unexpected, and very interesting. As always, this is just a wonderful comic. A must-read, I would argue, if you have young children. But still loads of fun if you’re an old man like me.

X-Men comics of July 18 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Shuri’s getting a solo, by Nnedi Okorafor, Leo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire. A great creative team for a great character, something that’s sure to be worth reading. I finished watching Punisher. There were things I was uncomfortable with. But it was well-made, and I like that it treated men talking about their feelings as good and valuable. I’m now caught up on all the Marvel shows, so I’ll need to figure out what to watch next. Maybe I should get back to re-watching Deep Space 9. Or I could re-watch Sailor Moon. I’ve also got games to play and books to read, though. Well, whatever. For now, comics.

X-Men Red #6, by Tom Taylor, Carmen Carnero, Rain Beredo, and Cory Petit. Cassandra Nova is mind-controlling Forge, comparing mutants to mosquitoes. Then, Gentle, whose life apparently sucks. His mom tells him Wakanda will never accept him because he’s an outsider, and refuses to answer when he asks if she likes him. Also, her husband hits her, so yeah, great family he’s got. This is all a memory Jean’s seeing, and after, Jean tells him the pain his powers cause is psychosomatic. Any time he’s used them, someone’s hurt him, so he associates his powers with pain. She’s removed that trigger, so now, he won’t feel pain. Huh, neat way of removing a limit from a black man. Jean then talks to Gambit about the need to find out who’s behind the recent spread of hate, so that the mutants they’ve saved can go back to their homes. She’s building what Gabby insists be called Searebro to find the person. In the meantime, she wants Gambit to steal the phone of the British ambassador whose head exploded. Really good issue. Gabby only gets a few panels, but she’s her usual wonderful self. Jean is great. Her compassion is in full view when she talks to Gentle, and it’s made clear that her mutant refuge in Atlantis is intended as a temporary measure while they deal with the current emergency. Of course, there’s also this:

X-Men Red #6

In fairness, two years ago they probably would’ve been stealing the actual dead woman. So, a step up.

There’s also Trinary talking to a Russian server spying on the British government, which is a pretty funny bit. But the best bit goes to Laura and Gabby.

X-Men Red #6

Laura’s realistic about Gabby’s future.

So, yeah, lots of fun bits, but there’s also that really sad Gentle scene at the start, and a cool, tense conversation between Jean and Cassandra. Cassandra herself comes across very sinister. She’s evil in an entertaining way, and is believable as a threat. The art’s great. Reminds me of Mahmud Asrar, actually. Carnero presumably has similar influences (and I suspect Stuart Immonen is probably a big one, because there’s shades of him in some panels). It’s a really good-looking style. I like it. X-Men Red is still the best team X-title on the stands right now. Great comic, well worth reading.

X-Men Gold #32, by Marc Guggenheim, Pere Pérez, Jay David Ramos, and Cory Petit. Iceman and the new Pyro shared a hotel room. They got it on. Good for Bobby, I guess, then they hurt a sound and went to check on Kurt. Storm and Illyana talked over coffee about Illyana’s guilty feelings about the wedding, and naturally, it does not lead to Illyana admitting to having feelings of her own for Kitty, even though Illyana is totally a lesbian. Oh hey, that reminds me: There’s going to be a What If of Illyana as Sorcerer Supreme, written by Leah Williams, who’s said she’ll be writing Illyana as a lesbian. Which is good, because seriously, Illyana is gay. She is made entirely of gay subtext. Anyway, Illyana and Rachel get taken out by hallucinations causes by Rachel. Then Psylocke and Armour are taken out while checking on Storm. Then Kurt’s taken out. Then Teen Scott, but Iceman and Pyro distract her long enough for Scott to actually talk her down, and I like that. They may be from alternate timelines, he might still only be a teenager, but he’s still her dad and she still loves him. Still, aside from that scene, the issue’s just kinda boring. We get hints of interesting character stuff, but they keep getting cut off before they can really be developed, and with only a few issues left, it’s tough to tell whether anything will happen with some of them. How much time will there be for Iceman and Pyro? How much more space can be given to Illyana’s guilt about the wedding (and will the X-office finally have the courage to have her come out as gay)? The next couple issues are going to be about Storm and her hammer, and then the run will end, so I have to think there’s going to be some stuff that ends up not getting the room it really needs. The Psylocke/Armour page feels completely pointless – it adds absolutely nothing to the story. But I do like Scott talking Rachel down. I love me some Scott/Rachel family feels. I would kill for a book with Scott and Rachel on a team together, interacting as a father and daughter. That would so be my jam. Anyway, this issue’s not bad. Guggenheim’s actually finding his feet, just in time for the book to end, great timing Marc. The art’s good. Clear and concise visual storytelling. So, fine issue, but the series is ending in a couple months, so who cares any more?

Cable #159, by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, German Peralta, Jesus Aburtov, and Travis Lanham. The Future! Young Nathan’s hanging with his friends, who are talking about mutants they’ve seen. Nate’s nervous about the conversation, and the others mock him, and one seems to be a shapeshifter. He heads back to his shack in the woods, where Scott and Jean are arguing about him. Scott thinks he needs to take his training more seriously, Jean thinks he needs to be allowed to be a kid. He runs off, and has an episode with his arm, which infects a boy who was nice to him. Metus. So we’ve finally learned the secret. And then Metus decided to follow Nathan and keep him from those he cares about. And the issue ends the arc, and ends it well. This is a good conclusion to an arc that dragged too long. You could get three entire issues out and lose absolutely nothing. The one thing those issues did that contributed was to build up the friendship between Nathan and Metus. A couple pages in each issue that were important, and that was it. Not really sure what I would’ve done to make the arc work better, it’s something I’d have to think about, but yeah, a shame that three entire issues felt so superfluous. But, this is a really good conclusion. It does a good job showing the friendship between Nathan and Metus, and lets Cable redeem himself, with Hope playing an important role. It’s kind of a shame that Metus is unlikely to be seen again. It’d be kinda cool if we got stories now and then of Cable checking in on him. But hey, we can imagine it happening off-panel. Either way, really good issue.

Hunt for Guyverine: Claws of A Killer #3, by Mariko Tamaki, Butch Guice, Mack Chater, Cam Smith, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino. Daken runs from zombies, then falls through the roof of the garage that Sabretooth and Deathstrike are hiding in. And he also spends a lot of time swearing. Like, a lot. He tells them about Soteiro, and the device that’s making the zombies and blocking their healing factors, and he says they need to destroy it. So they bust out and start cutting through zombies and soldiers. Side note: A splash shows Deathstrike with no heels, while the rest of the mini, and this issue, consistently shows her wearing heels. Also, her dad is one of the soldiers. Graydon Creed is another one. Interesting development. They show no personality, so presumably, they’re also zombies. Just better-made ones. Curious to see where that goes. But, this issue as a whole. Well, it’s mostly a fight issue, but the problem is the fight choreography is pretty weak. The art doesn’t really do a very good job at the action. It feels static, and a couple panels are laid out in ways that are needlessly confusing. An issue-long fight scene can be loads of fun when the art is right. Here, the art isn’t right, so the issue falls very, very flat. It’s a shame, because Daken, Sabretooth and Deathstrike fighting zombies could’ve been amazing to watch, but instead, it’s boring and lame. Bleh.

And the non-X-stuff.

Jessica Jones #1, by Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis, and Cory Petit. This is a digital-exclusive comic they announced literally the day it was released, which is pretty questionable, and given the work the creative team has had to do in explaining things, the release clearly didn’t go well. It’s an ongoing, but it’s going to work a little different from usual. Each arc will be 3 issues, each 40 pages, for $5. After each arc, they’ll take a couple months break, and then do the next arc. A seasonal model. So Marvel’s experimenting a bit with formats, which is good, it’s needed, and we’ll see how this does. Anyway, Jessica, Luke and Dani enjoy some time at the park, and Luke teaches some kids some fundamentals about basketball. When Jessica gets back to her office, there’s a dead woman, and she gets arrested. During the interrogation, she learns who the woman was, and it was a case she had failed to solve a few years earlier. And then things get worse for her. Also, turns out White Rabbit and Skein are dead, and noooooo, White Rabbit was such a great character. Well, she’ll be back. She’s too ridiculous a character to stay dead. Skein’s probably screwed, she only ever shows up as a background villain. Regardless, this is really good. This is a great comic. Thompson was a natural choice to take over Jessica, and was Bendis’ personal choice, and she captures Jessica’s voice really well. Very snarky, and very observant. Thompson also brought over a trick from her Hawkeye run, giving us Detective-Vision, with circles highlighting what Jessica notices about people. (For Misty, “Best Hair In Town” is among her observations.) It’s cool. There’s an interesting mystery set up, and there’s so much great comedy. A hilarious cameo from Dr. Strange, who’s cranky about being woken up at 10am. There’s also really nice work with Jessica’s family and friends. And the art’s great. I can’t actually find if De Iulis is male or female, but I’m guessing male, so I’ll use “he” until someone corrects me. His art’s great. It’s not as stylized as, say, Michael Gaydos. And it’s not a dark style. But it still fits the detective tone. And he sells both comedic and dramatic moments perfectly. This is a great comic, worth reading.

And I actually picked up Life of Captain Marvel #1, by Margaret Stohl, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Marcio Menyz, Marguerite Sauvage (for some flashbacks), and Clayton Cowles. I wasn’t going to, as I’ve been disappointed with Stohl’s run on Captain Marvel. It’s felt too light, not enough weight to it. But I’ve been hearing enough good things about this issue that I decided to give it a try. Carol is thinking back on her childhood, and summers in Maine, and how much of an ass her dad was. And she pounds the shit out of a couple villains. She ends up having a panic attack, and Tony tells her to talk to a professional. So she goes back to the town in Maine where she spent summers, which is promoting the hell out of the fact that she used to spend summers there. Also, Stohl writes the most phonetic Maine accent you’ve ever seen. And things go poorly with her brother, and as a result, Carol needs to stay at home for a while, and learns something shocking about her father. This is good. This has weight. There’s emotional weight here that the main series has been lacking. It delves into Carol’s head in a deep way, and has her reacting to a pretty major tragedy in a believable way. The art is fantastic – it’s Carlos Pacheco, what do you expect. And also the flashbacks by Sauvage? Mmph, gorgeous. So, this is a good comic, and it’s nice to finally be able to say that again about Captain Marvel.

X-Men comics of July 11 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m pretty sure I’ve talked on here before about Tee Franklin, writer of Bingo Love, and of the upcoming Jook Joint. I’ve talked about her being a valuable voice in comics, someone worthy of supporting. Last night, a lot of comic artists called her out, saying she’s abusive to artists, and a lot of the people calling her trash are very much worth listening to. So, yeah, turns out that Franklin’s someone worth avoiding, which is a shame, because she does have a valuable voice that’s needed in comics. But not at the expense of artists. Anyway, here’s comics.

X-Men Blue #31, by Cullen Bunn, Jorge Molina, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. A flashback, to Jean reading Magneto’s mind, and finding a young Max, who’s scared of Hitzig, a Nazi bastard. Hitzig warns her that the real Magneto will return, and Jean wanting to find a way to make it so he doesn’t have to. I appreciate Jean’s belief in saving people, even from themselves. She’s a good person. Lorna meets with Alex for a very brief scene. And Magneto attacks the New York Hellfire Club. So the X-Men start looking for him. They talk to Briar, who suggests they just let him get his murder-spree out of his system. They still go find Emma to protect her. It’s not bad. Magneto gets to be the terrifying force of nature he is. I wouldn’t have minded a touch more of the Alex/Lorna scene, but space constraints, I get it. And the scene got what was most important in there, with Alex still insisting what happened was a part of him. So I wanted more, but it did what it had to do. Briar’s always fun. And Emma’s as charming as usual. The art’s very good, Molina and Milla kill it. Some fantastic storytelling there, and some just plain excellent work. Most of the X-Men, sadly, remain superfluous. Jean and Scott talk a little, but the others are just along for the ride. Which still sucks. We’re nearing the end of the series, and we still have no idea why Romeo ghosted Bobby, which makes it pretty clear it’s because Bunn didn’t want to have to bother writing the relationship. Which is pretty lame.

New Mutants: Dead Souls #5, by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Gorham, Michael Garland, Andrew Crossley, and Clayton Cowles. The last issue ended with Karma saying rather dramatically that it was time she had a talk with Illyana. So you’d think this issue would follow up on that, right? Have a scene where the two of them talk about what’s been going on? Maybe let Karma have some reaction to the news that her dead brother is active and looking for revenge? NOPE! Of course not! Why the hell would we get anything like that. Nope, this issue, once again, doesn’t feature Karma in the goddamn slightest. She doesn’t appear at all. This story about Karma’s dead brother continues to come damned close to ignoring Karma’s very existence, and it remains absolute bullshit. There’s room for Boom-Boom watching TV, but just no room for the woman whose dead brother is the antagonist. Fuck that shit. Fuck Matthew Rosenberg for that. He’s a nice guy and a talented writer but holy shit, fuck him for not using Karma in a story that she should have been the star of. There is no good reason not to let Karma be a big part of the story, but nope, it’s more important that it go to a white girl instead. Fuck that. Anyway, they go to Dr. Strange’s house to find clues about what Tran might be looking for, the house is weird, Rahne yells at Guido and then they make up, and Dr. Strange is possessed by Tran. At least the issue ends with Illyana saying it’s time they had a talk with Karma, so I’m fucking assuming she’ll get to be in the final issue. Given how the rest of the mini’s gone, I wouldn’t put it past Rosenberg to bypass that conversation, too, and leave Karma out of the final issue. It’s a well-made comic. There’s some great drama, some funny humour, the plotting’s tight. I mean, this is some great comedy right here:

New Mutants: Dead Souls #5

These snakes are great.

And it’s still all bullshit, because Rosenberg took a story that should have been Karma’s and he gave it to Illyana instead, and didn’t let Karma be an actual part of the plot. The final issue had damned well better have a loooooooooooot of Karma in it. It still won’t be enough to get me to forgive Rosenberg for stealing her story from her, but damn, will I ever be salty if the big dramatic conversation is, like, two pages long and that’s it. And hey, can I just note that Rosenberg’s doing a story where Punisher steals the War Machine armour. A white guy stealing a black guy’s costume. It’s fucked-up, right? Is it just me? And I’m not reading it, I don’t particularly care for the Punisher as a concept, never mind as a character, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that, since it’s his comic, we’re probably expected to be rooting for him, at least a little, as he runs around murdering people using the costume and weapons of a black man. And Multiple Man #1 had Madrox steal Bishop’s time traveling device. Just saying, it’s becoming a pattern. Don’t be surprised if Astonishing X-Men’s villain ends up being, like, Killmonger or some shit.

X-23 #1, by Mariko Tamaki, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. On the day before Laura’s birthday, she and Gabby are assaulting some building to retrieve stolen mutant DNA. After beating the people up, Laura goes to see Beast, who gives her another lead. They also run into the Cuckoos, who have gone back to looking alike. Which is disappointing. Their increasing individuality was interesting. Also, it’s their birthday, which they chose for themselves. And Gabby is upset because she wants a birthday, too. And the Cuckoos are up to something. This is a good start. I still hate that Laura’s back to being called X-23. And I hate her new costume. But the comic itself is good. Laura and Gabby are both great. Gabby is her usual delightful self but she also gets a little bit of drama in there, with her wanting a birthday. She gets pretty angry at Laura about it, which is new. I actually appreciate it. Laura herself remains consistent. She doesn’t present much emotion, but she’s got some, most of her emotions having to do with Gabby. Their relationship remains the heart of the book, and it’s sweet. While I’m disappointed the Cuckoos have reverted to looking alike, they’re still neat. They show some individuality, still. And they are really cool. I’m very intrigued by what they’re up to. The art’s mostly good. Cabal’s not one of my favourites. A couple panels look odd to me. But mostly, it’s good, and he’s a good storyteller. It’s never hard to follow what’s happening. The action flows well, and he keeps the talking scenes visually interesting. So even though this comic has the wrong title, it’s good, and I’m looking forward to more. Also, there’s this:

X-23 #1

Even the Cuckoos can’t leave Gabby hanging.

Domino #4, by Gail Simone, David Baldeon, Jesus Aburtov, and Clayton Cowles. Flashback. Desmond and Topaz, this comic’s villains, were in a secret project. Topaz’s father ran the place, Desmond was a test subject, and after Desmond learns that Domino got a kitten, his arm breaks itself. In the present, Diamondback and Inez decide to find out who sold them out, to restore Domino’s trust in them. Domino, meanwhile, is, um. Well.

Domino #4

Clearly going well.

He trains her, and she can’t hit him, until she uses his luck power to get him while he blinks. And she makes him go dancing with her. While Inez and Diamondback track down Desmond and Topaz. Another good issue. Inez and Diamondback are a lot of fun. Inez demanding her “finest chaps” is pretty priceless, and you’ve gotta love her with a line like that. Domino and Shang-Chi play off each other well. I want to see the Trampy Iron Fist costume. She has good chemistry with Shang-Chi. Baldeon’s art is expressive. And he draws fights very well. The Domino-Shang-Chi sparring looks really cool, I wouldn’t have minded another page of it, actually. I’m still enjoying this series. It’s good stuff.

Old Man Logan #43, by Ed Brisson, Juan Ferreyra, and Cory Petit. Sarah, that reporter from the Kingpin arc, gets home, and gets killed by a playing card. Bleh, fridging. Logan’s forced to stick around in New York to avenge her. He meets a woman whose husband was killed by Bullseye, and she’s out for revenge, and they decide to team up. She was apparently in that Bullseye mini a couple years back, and she’s got a fancy suit. Logan gives her the codename of Vendetta. They go to Bullseye’s agent, and Bullseye kills him. More Bullseye, ugh. I find Bullseye boring more often than I find him enjoyable. He gets a couple decent jokes once in a while, but mostly, he’s honestly boring. Just this one-dimensional psycho killer. I don’t enjoy that. So this arc is very much Not My Thing, off the bat. This Vendetta woman doesn’t seem particularly compelling, either. Comics are littered with characters just like her. Maybe she was cool in that Bullseye mini, I wouldn’t know, but here? Not actually a whole lot to her. At least the art’s good. I like Ferreyra’s style, though it can be a bit inconsistent at times. Vendetta’s design, while generic, is generic in a way that makes sense. So the art is the highlight of the issue, but unless you like Bullseye, there’s probably not a whole lot to recommend this issue.

Hunt For Guyverine: Adamantium Agenda #3, by Tom Taylor, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Guru-eFX, and Joe Sabino. Flashback, to Logan saying he knows what happened with the bomb and that he’ll keep Tony’s secret. The present, and Sinister’s lost a hand to Wolverine. And then he loses his other hand to her. Tony pushes the sub to the surface, where a South Korean Helicarrier is ready to arrest the criminals on board, and they question the one who said he could sell Logan’s DNA. He tells them where Sinister’s base is, and Tony gives everyone armour to help them get in. What a meh series this is. Three issues in, and this still doesn’t actually tie into the big Logan plot. Sinister is taken out way too easily, though it’s easy to head-canon that as it just being a clone while the real Sinister is busy with more important matters. But he’s still lame here, not at all menacing. Which sucks. There’s some cool bits, but on the whole, it’s just a boring, pointless story. Good art, though, so at least it’s got that going for it. But on the whole, meh, skip this whole mini.

And the non-X-stuff.

Ms. Marvel #32, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna. Kamala and Bruno try to figure out how her power works. Science! It screws up her powers, right when she has to fight Shocker. It’s a good comic. It gets into some of the oddities of her power, and while we don’t have any answers yet, it’s still interesting stuff. She and Bruno are back to being friends, and they’re good together. Leon and Herring are always amazing. What’s not to love?

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #34, by Ryan North, Derek Charm, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham.Squirrel Girl and her friends are in jail, and Tony Stark can’t get them released. And Doreen gets to read Kraven’s record and see how bad he was before he met her. And there’s a brief argument. And then the trial, with She-Hulk representing the defence, because come on, who else was it going to be? As always, this is a lot of fun, but also pretty smart, with this issue dealing with the question of whether people can change.

Champions #22, by Jim Zub, Kevin Libranda, Marcio Menyz, and Clayton Cowles. Toni Ho makes a cameo! Yay! She’s finished repairing Vision after he got smashed during that No Surrender event. Also, Vision agrees to let Amka stay with him and Viv while she’s with the Champions. There’s also a development with Vision that I actually really like. One that I think works very well for the character. It’s not something that’s likely to ever have any real pay-off, but it’s still one that makes sense. And it looks like Zub is going to finally move Viv away from the whole “deactivated emotions” garbage. I always hated that. It was a shitty decision that Waid made, and I wasn’t happy that Zub continued it, but it does look like he’s going to have her start feeling emotions again. About damn time. Also, very good art. This series has gotten very good now that Zub’s writing it.

Exiles #5, by Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, and Joe Caramagna. Kang is the Time-Eater, in a quest to become the multiverse. And Iron Lad has an idea on how to stop him. And AoA Sabretooth shows up. And the arc concludes. Pretty good conclusion. This isn’t the best Exiles has ever been, but it’s not the worst, and with this big opening arc over, hopefully we can get some more character-driven stories going forward.

Quicksilver #3, by Saladin Ahmed, Eric Nguyen, Paul Renaud, Rico Renzi, and Clayton Cowles. As a monster attacks Wanda, Pietro reflects on his life with her. A lot of it is him admitting what an asshole he’s been to her, which is good of him. It’s a good issue.

Nancy Drew #2, by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St.-Onge, Triona Farrell, and Ariana Maher. Pete is handsome. Nancy knows the value of libraries. Jenn St.-Onge is amazing. This is good comics.

X-Men comics for July 4 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Happy Independence Day to Americans. Belated Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks. Happy Wednesday to everyone else. Scarlett Johansson is apparently unwilling to learn from her mistakes. She got a lot of criticism for playing a Japanese character in the live-action Ghost In the Shell. Now, she’s going to be playing a trans man in an upcoming movie. A biopic about a real trans man. And at this point, you’ve gotta figure that she just doesn’t care. She had to know that real trans people would be upset – as they are every time a cis actor plays a trans character – and she just didn’t give a shit. She knows she’ll get an Oscar nomination for playing a trans man, and she genuinely does not give a shit how actual trans people feel about it. I’ve never liked Johansson as an actor, but now, I don’t even particularly like her as a person. So I am even less interested in a Black Widow solo than I already was. Anyway, I’m making my way through Luke Cage. Finished up to episode 9. There needs to be a Daughters of the Dragon spin-off about Misty and Colleen being awesome together. But for now, here’s comics.

X-Men Gold #31, by Marc Guggenheim, Pere Pérez, Jay David Ramos, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. Rachel wakes up in her room at the Clarebyrne Hotel, which I guess is kind of a semi-clever nod. Mesmero’s waiting for her, and takes control of her. Piotr leaves, telling Kitty he’s thinking of going back to Russia to sort out his head. Then we’re in the Days of Future Past timeline, with some differences from the first time around. The team’s still planning a break-out, but Scott’s in the camp with them. They break out, but lose a few along the way. We find out Kitty’s pregnant, right as the team gets tracked down. This is not bad. Setting aside that I don’t really buy frigging Mesmero as a Big Bad, the DoFP stuff is handled fairly effectively. Familiar setting, but with enough differences to keep it interesting. The Kitty/Piotr scene is good. You know, this might be the closest Guggenheim has come to capturing the actual feel of Claremont’s run. Not just paying homage to it, not just ripping off elements without understanding why they worked for Claremont and his artists. But the actual feel of a Claremont comic. You know how much I dislike Guggenheim. But this comic is actually well-written. And the art, of course, is very good. Perez does great work. As do the colour artists. There’s one particular panel of an optic blast that is just exactly what it should be. It’s an inspiring panel. In fact, here:

X-Men Gold #31

Epic.

See, this is why Scott’s cooler than Logan. So yeah, that’s an awesome panel. And the art as a whole is strong. Perez is a good visual storyteller. And Guggenheim’s finally managed to learn how to write. So this is actually a legitimately good issue. Except for Mesmero. Mesmero? Really?

Astonishing X-Men #1, by Matthew Rosenberg, Greg Land (sigh), Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Clayton Cowles. Havok blasts a monster and knocks it over into a building. The Avengers show up and Iron Man says they had an agreement to relocate on of Mole Man’s monsters, and now it looks like they broke the deal. Captain America tells Alex to take some time to figure out some things. Elsewhere, Pierce and the Reavers attack and capture Miss Sinister. Back at the school, Alex tries to recruit some of the students into a new team. Rockslide quite reasonably points out that Alex was recently a villain. Kitty yells at Alex, and reveals that she legally owns the name “X-Men.” Later, Alex has a nightmare and blows out the wall of the motel room he was staying in. He then goes to see Beast, who’s teaching a class at Harvard. He wants to recruit Beast, but Hank says he’s tired and sore. Apparently, half his teeth are dental implants. And then the Reavers attack. And there’s quite the last page cliffhanger. Pretty good issue. Rosenberg goes the Hawkguy route with Alex, writing him as kind of a loser who’s bad at doing the right thing, and who no one really likes. A bit of a departure from the norm, but it’s entertaining. Unfortunately, Rosenberg is saddled with Land on art. Honestly, I think I’ve reached the point where my eyes just glaze over Land’s art. I don’t even see it any more. Because I’ve seen so much of it before. He gives Alex slightly different stubble than most of the men he draws, but that’s about it. He still sucks. And I still find his art falls deep in the Uncanny Valley. Even when he’s not recycling the same traced photos, his art creeps me out. I don’t like it, at all. And it hurts this comic. Land is just not a great visual storyteller. This would be a much better comic with a different artist.

Weapon X #20, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. First off: That Rahzzah cover is amazing. Gorgeous work. But, the issue. The Weapon X team attacks the SICKLE Helicarrier. And I quickly take a liking to Ortiz’s lines. It’s a cool style. Kinda scratchy. I dig it.

Weapon X #20

Tiger kitten! Kitty kitty tiger kitty!

So you see what his art looks like. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I took an immediate liking to it. Warpath tries to catch up to them, and Domino asks the others not to hurt his abs, but the Winter Guard grabs him first. Warpath vs. the Winter Guard is a pretty awesome fight. Ortiz brings a real energy to it. Omega Red talks to his brother, providing a distraction for the others to get onto the Helicarrier. It’s a tense conversation between them, and gives some more insight into Omega Red’s backstory. It doesn’t make him more sympathetic, which I appreciate. He was always a bastard. And then Weapon X vs. SICKLE, and again, it’s an awesome fight. And I want to note that Omega Red keeps the tiger kitty safe throughout the fight. I love that kitty. And I love how much Omega Red loves it. This is such a good issue. So much fun. And the art is a big part of it. I am completely in love with it. Ortiz has come out of nowhere to grab my attention in a big way. He just kills it here. That rough style works perfectly, and he’s got a great expressiveness. Love it. Pak and Van Lente are clearly having fun, too, and it shows through. So, this is a really good comic.

Hunt for Guyverine: Weapon Lost #3, by Charles Soule, Matteo Buffagni, Jim Charalampidis, and Joe Sabino. Daredevil, Misty and Frank find Cypher, barely alive after having his throat slashed. They get him into their little jet thing so the medical technology can keep him alive. And then it turns out the one who attacked Cypher was Albert. Albert! Yay! So the team goes after him. Turns out he’s looking for Elsie-Dee. I hope she’s OK, she’s awesome. We don’t find out here, they just kinda leave Albert out in the Canadian wilderness and then continue looking for Logan. Also, Misty and Frank start to make out, so I guess Soule’s just going to ignore Misty being with Falcon. Meh on that. Meh on most of this. I love seeing Albert, but it’s not like it really seems to tie into any larger story, and he doesn’t get much characterization. He’s just an enemy to be defeated. Misty and Frank do have some fun interactions. And the fight against Albert is kinda cool. But it doesn’t feel like any of this has anything to do with anything. It feels too much like a shameless cash-grab tie-in. The writing’s fine, the art’s fine, but the overall story just isn’t really working.

And the non-X-stuff.

Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel, by Ryan North, G. Willow Wilson, Devin Grayson, Irene Strychalski, Ramon Bachs, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Clayton Cowles. North and Strychalski do the Squirrel Girl part at the start, where Ms. Marvel gets to meet Squirrel Girl’s friends. And Chipmunk Hunk is the most awkward person ever. He asks if Ms. Marvel can turn into a truck. And Kamala feels left out of being the only one in the room who isn’t a computer scientist, poor Kamala. ALSO! Strychalski’s Ms. Marvel is SO CUTE. Her everyone is super-cute, of course. But especially her Ms. Marvel. And the whole thing is so much fun. Kamala and Doreen even figure out each other’s identities! Which is cool. They’re good friends now. And then Wilson and Bachs do a second half of the comic! Which is maybe not a great plan by Marvel, because it means the comic is $6, which is still cheaper than if it was split in two, but it feels like this is a series Marvel should’ve been putting out at a reduced price to try to grab newer readers. The second story has Ms. Marvel fight an RPG chicken, and is joined by Inferno, while Squirrel Girl talks to America. And for some reason, squirrels do not like Inferno. Both parts are great. Lots of fun, lots of humour, Wilson’s part has a lot more drama, which isn’t surprising. Ms. Marvel realizes Emulator is an Inhuman, and is scared and doesn’t really understand what’s happened to her, and wants to help. But we also get to see that Emulator is a little torn over what she’s doing. On the other hand, North’s story has a giant robot. And it also has a bunch of computer science, because Squirrel Girl. But both parts are great. I’m loving this storyline. It’s great stuff. Really fun.

Captain America #1, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Joe Caramagna. In Russia, a woman named Alexa gets broken out of a Hydra prison transport by Selene. Huh. Interesting choice. Coates is a huge X-Men fan. Still, Selene was never one of the better X-Men villains. We’ll see how she works as a Captain America villain. In the US, Captain America and Bucky fight Nukes. And Sharon gets an actual scene to talk about her own feelings on everything that’s happened to her in recent years. It’s a small moment, but it’s frankly more than she got under Spencer, and certainly more than she got from Waid. This is a very strong start. Selene is an unexpected threat, and I’m curious to see where that goes. Interesting that Coates also has Selene and Alexa operating out of Russia – I doubt that’s a coincidence. He’s still dealing with the Hydra stuff, having Cap deal with how it happened, and people still distrusting him. It’s good. It’s a very strong start, and I’m very excited to see where Coates and Yu go with this, though I’m not a fan of Yu’s art. But still, great comic.

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