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Marvel Comics Presents #23 and #24 (1989, July)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Wasn’t sure I felt like posting today, but screw it. So, by Harras, Lim, Albrecht, Yanchus, and Mas, “The Retribution Affair (Part 7) – Mind Your Conscience.”

Mind Your Conscience

Pretty generic cover.

Scott, being crushed by Master Mold, manages to summon up an optic blast. Master Mold discards him, then goes to resume his plan by melding with his ship. Scott suggests Conscience merge his programming with Master Mold’s, and try to take over, to prevent the spores from being released that will wipe out almost all humans. Callisto helps them to their feet, and Scott blasts away a bunch of Servitors to clear a path, so Conscience can hook into the computer.

This installment feels quick and not much really happens. There’s really not much to talk about. Scott shows more of his determination, and shows off the strength of his blasts. Moira learns something, but we don’t find out what. Conscience remains annoying. Just such a badly-written character. Really stupid dialogue. The art is OK, but nothing particularly stellar. Serviceable, it looks good, but it doesn’t really impress at all. Not that the script gives Lim much to do. This story just gets less interesting with each part.

And part 8, “Retribution and Resurrection,” by the same team. But #24 also starts a new Havok story. By Howard Mackie, Rich Buckler, Joe Rubinstein, Andy Yanchus, and Bill Oakley, “Pharaoh’s Legacy (Part 1) – A Change of Heart.”

A Change of Heart

Scott and Alex fighting together is always cool.

With Master Mold and Conscience battling for supremacy, the ship is out of control. Master Mold begins the countdown to release the spores, so Scott starts blasting him, and you’d think it wouldn’t be much of a fight, but Scott kicks some pretty good ass, until he collapses from the fever. Luckily, Banshee plays cavalry, while Moira gives her cure to Scott and Callisto. His power’s back, with Moira saying it’s too soon to tell if it’s temporary or not. Conscience tells the other to leave while he takes the ship into orbit to blow it up and destroy the virus. The day is saved.

Again, kinda meh. The fight is really good. Very exciting. But Conscience, ugh. I hate how Harras writes Conscience. He is so irritating. He talks the way no person has ever spoken in history, but which comic book writers seem to think people speak all the time. Honestly, I’ve never liked Harras as a writer. His Avengers run was cheesy and bad. And his tenure as editor of the X-Men line was, ah, not a strong period, creatively. This story started off pretty well, but once Conscience showed up, it went downhill fast, and it remained weak to the end. Bleh.

But! The Havok story! Alex is driving around the Australian Outback, and finds a woman – strawberry blonde hair, so mostly his recent type – whose car has broken down. He starts to offer assistance, then they get shot at by dudes on flying platforms. Alex blasts one of the platforms down, then lures the others away from the girl. But then she tackles him out of his Jeep as the dudes drop some sort of glop on it. The bad guys flee, and we learn the girl’s name is Leila O’Toole. She mentions that his use of his power made her feel tingly inside, and then gives her backstory. She’d been working in Egypt, as an archaeologist. She fell into a cult that still worships the ancient pharaohs, and then she learned they were into human sacrifice, so she ran. Then Alex and Leila get caught in a net.

This is, uh . . . it’s OK, I guess. It doesn’t waste any time getting started, I’ll give it that. It’s weirdly abrupt. Like, the fourth panel of the story is an attack. That is quick. The fight is pretty decent. Reasonably exciting. Alex clearly still needs to work on his aim, as he misses a couple shots. Dazzler wouldn’t have missed. I’m just sayin’. Leila doesn’t get much chance to have a personality yet. She’s a bit freaked out by what’s going on. Calmer than you might expect, but still scared. She seems nice enough, but of course, it’s a red-head who has a conversation with Outback-era Alex Summers, there’s no way she won’t be evil.

The art’s good. Buckler was always a solid artist. Reliable. I actually think he did a particularly good job here. Not sure what it is, but something about the art here really stands out, more than it normally did with Buckler. Good inking and colouring, maybe? I don’t know, but the story looks really good. And it’s a reasonably interesting set-up for the story. So, yeah, not bad.

X-Men comics of June 21 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I finally got a Wednesday off, yay.

X-Men Gold #6, by Marc Guggenheim, RB Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Frank Martin and Andrew Crossley, and Cory Petit. Rachel dreams about her Franklin, who tells her the Prestige name isn’t actual growth. Dr. Reyes is unable to help Rachel out of her coma. Always glad to see her, and I think head doctor at Xavier’s is a good job for her. Elsewhere, heroes are beating up drones. Good. Screw drones. Squirrel Girl is among those attacking the drones, which makes sense, I’m guessing squirrels probably do hate drones. Ms. Marvel’s there, too, so yay for her. Also, Silva drew a pug, so that should make some people happy. Kitty builds herself a big ol’ Cable gun, so OK, I see where the ’90s nostalgia of this series comes in. Seriously, the gun’s as big as she is, and all hi-tech, with just one long vertical barrel. It is absolutely the kind of thing Cable would’ve run around with in the ’90s. As they fight, they’re being watched by the new X-Cutioner. Back to Rachel’s dream, where Jean tells her she’s afraid of reaching her potential, but she’ll have to to help her friends. I don’t know, that doesn’t feel right. Rachel never struck me as being frightened of her potential. At least, not since the ’80s. In Excalibur, she always seemed pretty comfortable with being pretty much a goddess. Back in the battle, Storm tells Gambit not to feel too bad about letting loose the nano-Sentinels. And then kisses him. Uuuuuuuuuuuugh! No, Guggenheim! I’ll just be straight-up about this: Storm/Gambit is a bad ship. It is. It is a ship that completely misses the point of their relationship. They’re friends. They’ve always been friends. They’re bros. There was never anything romantic or sexual between them. Or, at least, there was never supposed to be. Never should have been. Storm and Gambit are at their best together when they’re pulling heists. And when Gambit’s being intentionally obnoxious and Storm is patiently annoyed. So Guggenheim apparently setting up a romantic relationship for them? No. No. Bad, Guggenheim. Bad. Back to Rachel, who’s now dreaming a conversation with Scott. And aw, now I’m sad again, because I feel like we’ve never gotten enough Scott/Rachel interactions. I would kill for a series with both Scott and Rachel in the main cast, having a father/daughter relationship. Regardless, this issue . . . meh. It’s not that it’s bad, necessarily, it’s that I disagree with a lot of it. Like, I don’t agree with Guggenheim’s take on Rachel, as someone who’s afraid of living up to her full potential, and especially not the reasoning for it. I also really dislike the ship-teasing between Storm and Gambit, as I explained. And other than that, the issue was mostly just fighting against mini-Sentinels. Plenty of fun cameos, but it’s really just people beating up drones. The art’s fine. I’m not really keen on Silva’s style, but it’s hard for me to explain why. Maybe because I already spent so much time complaining about Guggenheim’s writing. Regardless, this is still a book I wouldn’t recommend.

Iceman #2, by Sina Grace, Edgar Salazar, Ibraim Roberson, Ed Tadeo, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino. Bobby finishes up with a class, then heads to the jet for a mission. He’ll be going on the mission with Kitty. There’s some awkwardness, interrupted by the plane getting screwed up and going down. Iceman sleds the plane to a relatively safe crash, then they go inside a store to find the mutant who caused it. A kid who can, to quote, “pulsate amplifications on various wavelengths.” Whatever that means. It does seem to blow out electronics, though, so at the very least, he’s a walking EMP. And he’s being attacked by locals angry at him for destroying their electronics. Including one woman angry at her TV exploding during Agents of SHIELD. Nice gag. Kitty tries to talk the mob down. Then Kitty and Bobby both lose control of their powers, because Zachary can apparently amplify powers. Once they get away from the crowd, Kitty tells Bobby she’s upset that he never told her he’s gay, and she had to find out from Goldballs. What I take away from this is that Kitty talks to Goldballs, and I’m happy about that. This issue’s pretty good. It’s Iceman. But it has Kitty, and she’s always good. She’s funnier than he is, and their little heart-to-heart is pretty nice. The new kid is kind of a brat. Bobby makes a lot of really stupid jokes. The art’s good. But this is still a comic about Iceman, so my interest is still really limited. Grace is doing fine work, but I just don’t care about Iceman, it’s just personal taste, this book should be just fine for anyone who likes the character.

Weapons of Mutant Destruction #1, by Greg Pak, Mahmud Asrar, Nolan Woodard, and Joe Caramagna. In Serenity Hills, Texas, a pizza is delivered to a secret, ultra-high-security lab. Why do I love that so much? Just seeing the pizza make its way through the lab. Being transferred from one security station to the next, until it reaches a scientist watching some guy in a vat. There’s something really pleasant about the whole scene. We then cut to Kitty getting a call from Logan, telling her to check her . . . sigh. Her “X-mail.” Really, Pak? Really? “X-mail?” Why? Why would you come up with that? What even is “X-mail”? How is it different from email? Jeez. But anyway, he tells her to keep an eye on all mutants, everywhere, while his team tracks down the source of the new Weapon X cyborgs. Then he goes to attack Sabretooth and Deathstrike while they take a coffee break, and OK, these crazy murderers taking coffee breaks is just bizarrely entertaining to me. Deathstrike even complains that they were on a coffee break. This is followed up by a pretty great demonstration of Domino awesomeness. Warpath throws a knife at Sabretooth, which misses. Domino drops under a lunge by Deathstrike and fires her gun, so the bullet bounces off the knife and hits Sabretooth in the forehead. I always enjoy nonsense like that from Domino. Even better: She doesn’t spill her coffee. Because she’s that awesome. Anyway, they get a couple leads, and split up to investigate, and Sabretooth calls cats “land piranhas,” and I am delighted by that. So, yeah, “X-mail” notwithstanding, this is great. It’s dark, but with some good dark comedy, too, especially with the pizza. There’s some good character stuff throughout. Domino is really fun. Domino’s a character who tends to contrast with others. So, here, with the others being dark murdery types, she’s a lot more upbeat than she normally is. But she still manages to seem like herself. Just a different face she presents. She doesn’t need to play the professional, so she plays the goofball. Asrar’s art is always good. And it’s a good demonstration of the difference a good artist makes. Asrar elevates Pak’s writing, and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable comic.

That’s the X-stuff, here’s other comics.

USAvengers #7, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna. Red Hulk is attacking Iron Patriot, while yelling at her to take him down. She’s getting some mixed signals. Squirrel Girl and Enigma are fighting Hydra jerks, and when Aikku gets hurt by a blast, Toni realizes Captain Stevemerica’s behind it. Of course, she realizes it as Captain Hydra flies in. So, you know, not much of an epiphany. Then she teleports Enigma and Squirrel Girl away, while Maverick claims she blew them up, and that there aren’t even any bodies. Toni tells him to tone it down, because everyone knows what “no body” means. Which is when it cuts to alien scavengers finding Sam out in space, still alive. Back to Squirrel Girl and Enigma, in Paris, after Toni phased them so the planet passed through them. And there’s Hydra there. Which is fortunate for Aikku, as it gives her someone to take out her frustrations on. This is really good. It’s a great tie-in. There’s some good character stuff, particularly with Toni and Aikku. Also, Squirrel Girl shows off some of her French. Interestingly, the issue reveals that at least part of Europe has fallen under Hydra control, which I was unaware of. I thought it was just the US. But nope, Europe, too. While it’s tying into a pretty serious event, this issue’s still got a strong comedic focus, which keeps it a lot of fun to read. Maverick’s terrible acting is amazing, and Squirrel Girl can’t not be a joy. The art remains excellent. I actually really like that this book has a more-or-less permanent art team. It feels like it keeps the book more focused, and it’s great.

Ultimates 2 #8, by Al Ewing, Aud Koch, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino. Galactus sleeps, and dreams of Galan. Then he wakes, and exits the safe realm, onto Ego’s surface. Ego still carries a grudge against Galactus for attempting to eat him, and then sticking an engine on him. Galactus enters into Ego, down to his core, and introduces himself as Galan. And we then meet Ego’s true self. And stuff happens. Cosmic-level stuff. Ewing is still bringing the big to this book. It’s very big in scope. This issue’s got a very strong focus on Galactus, and really demonstrates how much he’s changed. Despite the Secret Empire banner, this issue has absolutely nothing to do with the event. It is entirely about Galactus wanting to make peace with Ego, and developing a backstory for Ego. Which is pretty interesting. Koch’s art . . . it won’t be for most people. Personally, I actually think the biggest problem is the colours. Dan Brown is a great clour artist, but I don’t think he meshes well with Koch. I think the colours clash with the lines. I’d love to see what Jordie Bellaire would do with Koch’s lines. But as it is, the art ends up not being great. Oh well.

Silver Surfer #12, by Dan Slott, Michael and Laura Allred, and Joe Sabino. Dawn is on an alien planet, being fed by her father. Some kids drag her away to play, and her father is revealed as Euphoria, the alien planet from much earlier, who gives people what they want. Then we cut back weeks or months, right after Dawn learned her dad’s dead. She’s shaken up by it, and by learning that he’s already been cremated and his ashes scattered in the ocean.Dawn’s angry that Eve didn’t wait, and Eve’s mad that Dawn took off all those months ago without even telling them. Later on, Eve says she and Costas are thinking of selling the inn. That’s when Dawn decides she wants to go to Euphoria. This issue’s phenomenal. Brilliant work. It’s powerful, emotional stuff. All about grief and love. It tones down the fun and whimsy, in exchange for straight feels. And it’s beautiful. Just a beautiful comic, in a wonderful series, and if you haven’t been reading this book, you are missing out so badly.

America #4, by Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, Ming Doyle, Joe Rivera, Jose Villarrubia, Jordan Gibson, and Travis Lanham. First, a flashback, to America’s moms saving the Utopian Parallel, at the cost of their lives. In the present, America fights the pink energy monster. She realizes that punching it won’t work, and comes up with a different plan, which involves time-traveling back to her first encounter with it, and stopping herself from hitting it. Instead, they grab it, and Present-America drags it through a portal and locks it in a chamber. So this comic? Eh, it’s OK. The pacing is still a bit odd. America still doesn’t sound like America to me. So there are still issues with the series. But there is still some good stuff, as well. There’s an authenticity to the characters, there’s a sense of fun and adventure. And there are moments where America’s surliness shines through. Not a fan of Quinones’ art. Just not a style I enjoy. I’m getting a little more accustomed to it. And there’s some Ming Doyle in here, so that’s pretty great.

Luke Cage #2, by David Walker, Nelson Blake II, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Sabino. Warhawk takes Luke back to his place, and then cauterizes his wound so he doesn’t bleed to death. Luke does pass out from the pain. Dr. Mornay’s been taken to the home of a local crime lord, who wants her to find a way to treat his son’s psychosis, caused by Dr. Burstein’s experiments. Luke wakes up, and asks Warhawk some questions, but Warhawk’s brain isn’t great, so he doesn’t have many answers. This is another good issue. The plot continues to develop in some interesting directions. Luke’s irritation at everything is entertaining. The art’s good. This is good stuff. Worth reading.

Pull List for June 21 2017

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

I’ll go to the store for: America #4, by Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, Ming Doyle, Joe Rivera, Jose Villarrubia, and Travis Lanham; Luke Cage #2, by David Walker, Nelson Blake II, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Sabino; My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #55, by Christina Rice and Agnes Garbowska; Silver Surfer #12, by Dan Slott, Michael and Laura Allred, and Joe Sabino; USAvengers #7, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna; Ultimates 2 #8, by Al Ewing, Aud Koch, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino.

I’ll also review: Iceman #2, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino; Weapons of Mutant Destruction #1, by Greg Pak, Mahmud Asrar, Nolan Woodard, and Joe Caramagna; X-Men Gold #6, by Marc Guggenheim, RB Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit.

So that’s 6 comics I’m picking up, and three additional review. Good week. And a lot of comics lettered by Joe Sabino. None lettered by Clayton Cowles. Weird.

So hey, good stuff. America’s been flawed. But last issue showed some improvement. We’ll see if it continues here. Luke Cage got off to a good start, and Walker hasn’t let me down yet, so I’m still in on this. Silver Surfer is just one of the best comics coming out of Marvel, and this issue looks like it’ll be pretty emotionally heavy. USAvengers and Ultimates 2 are both Secret Empire tie-ins, which is disappointing. I’m sure USAvengers will handle its tie-in well. Ewing’s usually very good at that sort of thing. Ultimates 2, less so. We’ll see. Last issue didn’t do a great job with it, and felt forced. Hopefully, this issue’s better.

Oh, how about some Kickstarter promotion? Some projects worth checking out. Two Scoops: An Ice Cream Shop Dating Sim. It’s a dating sim, set in an ice cream shop. It just looks adorable. Can I Pet Your Werewolf?, a comic anthology of cute, fun, sweet werewolf stories. Meredith McClaren has a story in it, and she’s delightful. The Unadoptables, a comic about a cafe full of cats that are unadoptable. Cats. Cats! Legends of Onile: Dayo, an African graphic novel fantasy, loosely based on Yoruba culture. Black Gold: Prelude To A Storm, a queer pirate adventure. The Shadow Beast: A Graphic Novel of Darkness, which just looks gorgeous. Schoolbooks and Sorcery, a queer-inclusive YA urban fantasy anthology. Mother of Invention, a speculative fiction anthology focused on gender and artificial intelligence. Niobe: She Is Life, a cool-looking graphic novel.

OK, that’s it for this week.

Excalibur #10 (1989, July)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m sorry I’ve gotten so crap at updating over the past, uh, forever. But hey, Excalibur today. By Claremont, Marshall Rogers, Austin, Oliver, Michael Heiler and Agustin Mas, “Widget.”

Widget

Just the cover, and I already miss Davis.

Wow. “Tag, you’re it”? Really? Is that supposed to be a joke? Because it’s a really, really stupid one. Anyway, Captain Britain, in his old, too-small costume, is fighting Hauptmann Englande, which apparently should be Hauptmann England, but maybe German works a little different in that other world. Brian’s still weak from his trip to America, so it’s not an even fight. Nazi Moira and Callisto have Brigadier Stuart as a hostage, but she slips away when chunks of a building almost fall on them, though it doesn’t last long before Callisto gets her back. Then the dino-people wander onto the battlefield.

Brian almost gets taken down after saving the dino-boy, but recovers in time to deck Hauptmann. Then the Meggan with Lightning Force turns out to be Excalibur’s Meggan, in disguise. Ooh, good job, Meggan. Learning how to disguise herself. Very clever! She takes out Nazi Kurt, Nazi Moira, and Nazi Callisto, then Rachel grabs the poor Nazi-victim Kitty. Rachel also wonders about being the only one of the team without a counterpart. Normal-Kitty wakes up, and sees Dr. Alistair Stuart, and immediately likes him.

Excalibur #10

He’s gotta have 10 years on her.

While I find her crush really cute, I am glad nothing came of it. Alistair’s gotta be in his 20s. Kitty’s 14 or 15. It would be Kitty/Colossus all over again. She does have a thing for older guys. At least Alistair’s got a different name. That’s probably why nothing ever came of it. Anyway, they both see a floating metal head, which creates a portal. Alistair goes to check it out, and sees a cute Amazon woman in an idyllic landscape. She tries to grab him, Kitty phases him so the woman falls on her ass. Then Kitty phases through the portal to disrupt it, but it also knocks out the head, which Kitty calls a widget. It finally gets its name!

They head upstairs, where it’s all over but the talking.

Excalibur #10

I like Rachel itching for a fight. And Kitty hoping she gets one.

And Kitty feels a need to talk to her other self. Which, all things considered, is probably a terrible idea, but not exactly one she can resist.

Excalibur #10

Yeah, it’s a rough moment.

Kitty yells at Nazi Moira, who insults her, and Rachel drags Kitty out before she can start killing people. (Also, Alistair sees Rachel and gets a crush on her. So we’ve got the start of a second love triangle, one that’s pretty fun, since it’s made up primarily of obliviousness.) Kitty wonders how anyone can be so cruel, and Rachel reminds her of her own past as a Hound. Kitty wants to free the other Kitty, but Kurt comes out to say a deal’s been made, swapping their prisoners for their people in Nazi-World. As Rachel flies Kitty home, Sat-Yr-9, posing as Courtney Ross, sees them, comments on the power and potential and how it’ll be hers. The obvious assumption is that she’s talking about Phoenix, but later on, we do see her take a strong interest in Kitty, so I’m wondering if that’s who she meant here, too.

Regardless, pretty decent issue. Not as fun as previous issues. I do miss Alan Davis. Rogers is an OK artist, but he’s not an Excalibur artist, you know? The book had established a certain tone, and Rogers doesn’t match that tone. It’s a lot more typical, more generic. And it makes for a weaker issue, I think. The fighting is cool and exciting, and there’s some really cool character moments. Kitty’s outrage at the Nazi world, and what it did to her counterpart, was really effective. So by no means is this a bad comic. And honestly, any other series, this would probably be a really good issue. But this is Excalibur. And this just doesn’t feel enough like Excalibur. We do get some plot threads coming together, though, which will soon lead to a lot of fun. Cross-Time Caper’s getting closer!

X-Men comics of June 14 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I hate when I work late on Wednesdays! But hey, I’ve finally read yesterday’s comics.

X-Men Blue #5, by Cullen Bunn, Julian Lopez, Cory Smith, Irma Kniivila, and Joe Caramagna. The X-Men vs. the Ultimate Marauders. Which includes Mach-2, Armour, Quicksilver, and the Guardian. Fighting, fighting, Jean tries to go into their heads, and finds Miss Sinister. Oh hey, Miss Sinister’s back! She was created waaaay back in Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy run. Cool seeing her pop up. I’ve kinda wanted to see her again. Anyway, Sinister expresses an interest in Jean Grey, who just wants to know why Sinister wants Jimmy. She explains that mutants on Jimmy’s world differ from mutants on their world. The conversation between Jean and Sinister is pretty interesting. Sinister’s definitely interested in Jean. And the attention of anyone named Sinister is usually not a good thing. So it’ll be cool to see where that goes. The rest of the issue was . . . good. It’s mostly an extended fight scene. And it’s a well-done fight scene, and there’s still a few character moments during it. But still, the issue is mostly a fight scene with groundwork for a future plot. And that feels like it’s becoming a trend with this series. And it’s not a trend I like. I think Bunn needs to tighten it up a bit more. Less focus on his ideas, more on the characters. The art remains good. The action is done well. Exciting stuff. Some really fun visuals during the fight. The psi-scape where Jean and Sinister chat is nice, with the pink colouring being really pretty. So this book’s still OK, but it could be better.

Generation X #3, by Christina Strain, Amilcar Pinna, Roberto Poggi, Felipe Sobreiro, Nolan Woodard, and Clayton Cowles. Nature Girl is talking to a seal about the Purifier attack on the school, and the fact that no one cared about the plants. Eye Boy is surprised that Nature Girl can talk. Turns out she just never had anything to say to him. Ouch. Eye-Boy tries to ask if she wants to join him and Nathaniel, but she really does not seem interested in him, and I actually feel kinda bad for him. Then the trees let her know about an attack (oh, they’re in the Central Park Zoo, by the way), and it turns out Face has been attacked. Back at the school, Roxy asks Chamber if she can join his class, so she can be an X-Man, but Chamber says she’s where she needs to be. Poor Roxy. I do wonder why she’s in Jubilee’s class. She’s definitely got what it takes to be an X-Man. She’s tough, she’s smart, she can follow orders. Maybe she’s there to protect the rest of the class? Inside, Ben Deeds is playing a video game against Pixie, who’s very good, and has one of my favourite taunts ever:

Generation X #3

“Rarebits.” Dammit, that’s amazing.

The group from the zoo gets back, and they take Face to the medlab, where Dani checks him out. She mentions him not having a Deathglow, so she’s still got her valkyrie abilities. Also, Dani! Yay! Dani’s the best! She and Chamber go out to investigate what happened to Face, which is cool and I would absolutely love to see that part of the story because they’re both great characters who don’t get the appreciation they deserve. This is great. I’m really enjoying this book. The characters are all really good, and really fun. Nature Girl ignoring Eye-Boy’s attempts at flirting is really amusing. I still ship Ben and Nathaniel, but Quire really seems to be flirting with Ben here, too. I’ll note that there’s not much Jubilee in this issue. Which is disappointing, but it’s fine, as it means more focus on the students. And that focus is spread around. People worried that Jubilee and Quire would get all the focus should probably feel a little more assured that Strain won’t fall into that trap. I’m still not liking the art. Maybe I’ll get used to it, but I do find Pinna’s art unappealing. Weirdly long faces and big mouths. The colours are nice. Sobreiro does good work there. But yeah, I do not like Pinna’s art style. Still, I can overlook it, because the writing is great. This is still by far my favourite team X-title.

Weapon X #4, by Greg Pak, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. After a quick briefing on the Roxxon oil rig that Weapon X has turned into a lab, the team begins their attack. And you know, I think I’ll start by saying something nice: Land draws a really good Cho-Hulk on the first page. No, really. He doesn’t look like he’s traced from any particular source. He’s got an expression that’s unique and clear. It’s probably the best face Land’s drawn in years. Aaaaand then you turn the page and it’s the weird unnatural recycled faces for Logan, Creed and Domino. Sigh. Turn it again, and Hulk looks weird, too. Anyway, fight. Fight fight fight. Hulk struggles with a bunch of cyborgs, until Sabretooth shoots him in the face. Even when he’s helpful, Sabretooth’s a dick, which is actually kinda funny here. So, fighting, Warpath and Deathstrike get freed and join in. Blah blah. So. Writing-wise? This issue’s fine. Pak’s a good writer. He does good work here. There’s some good moments here. He obviously does an especially good job with Cho, who is, after all, his pet character. (I don’t say that as a criticism. Every writer has pet characters. I mean Cho is a character Pak is especially passionate about.) So Cho is great here. But he’s writing a good story in general. Unfortunately, he’s still saddled with Greg Land. The art here is incredibly uneven. Sadly, that actually means it’s the best I’ve seen from Land. There are panels with faces that look fine. They look normal. But then there’s also plenty of panels with his trademark recycled faces that look creepy and unnatural. So, yeah, uneven. Makes it hard to really recommend this book.

All-New Wolverine #21, by Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk, Cory Hamscher, Terry Pallot, Michael Garland, and Cory Petit. Wolverine heads out into the streets to use her healing hands to take the virus from people. She gets swarmed by people and knocked down, forcing Riri and Gabby to get people back. Gabby insists on helping Laura with the virus, and then they get some more help: Daken, Logan and Deadpool. Laura and Daken care about each other. Which is sweet. I actually really like their relationship, and I should talk about how I view it in-depth at some point. Meanwhile, Deadpool and Gabby are my new favourite best friends.

All-New Wolverine #21

Best friends!

Someone shoots at them, because this is a superhero comic so an action scene is required, and then the five people born, bred and trained as killers start saving lives. Another great issue. Really powerful, seeing these five, several of whom have issues with each other, working so hard to save lives. There’s some really nice character interactions. Laura and Logan have a good moment. Laura shows her determination, leading to one hell of a cliffhanger. The art’s good. I maintain that Laura and Gabby should look more alike, but other than that, the art’s good here. It feels less rushed than the past couple issues. Garland’s colours are always top-notch. All-New Wolverine is one of Marvel’s top titles, and Laura is truly the Best Wolverine.

Old Man Logan #25, by Ed Brisson, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit. Some old dude and four kids are out in the Yukon Territory, with the old guy saying men are hunting them for being different, so they have to kill those people first. Logan’s at a diner/gas station in BC, just getting out of the city. The diner he’s stopped at is one he knows well, but there’s new people there. Turns out they’re part of the Hulk Gang. Sigh. Yet another X-title treading old ground. Yeah yeah, the Maestro’s here, so it’ll be a new take on the Wolverine vs. Hulk fight. But did we really need the Hulk Gang? Did we really need Old Man Logan’s past to keep following him? Especially right after an arc all about his past? Come on. I will say Deodato’s art bugs me less than usual here. I still don’t like his style. It feels very static and posed. It always feels to me like action figures. Also, proportions are always weird. Like, characters routinely have arms that reach down to their knees. That’s weird. But it distracted me less here than it sometimes does. Still, as the first issue by a new creative team? I am not impressed in the slightest.

That’s all the X-stuff, here’s what else I read.

Ms. Marvel #19, by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna. It’s Eid Al-Adha, a day of cooking a feast to share with others, to celebrate Abraham not having to sacrifice his own son. Kamala’s family is picking out a goat to butcher, and Kamala wants to keep it. Also, Tyesha’s pregnant. Kamala’s gonna be an aunt! When they get home, they find road blocks and signs calling to “Bring Back the Real Jersey City.” Looks like the gentrification efforts from this volume’s first arc are back. She slips out of dinner to investigate. (She’s joined by Gabe, who’s playing Pokemon Go.) The mayor elected in the election issue a few months ago has been replaced by Chuck Worthy, the Hydra guy, and he’s created what is basically an Un-American Activities Investigation agency. Kamala guesses Becky, from the CWII arc, is behind it. And then Becky gets a henchman to attack Ms. Marvel, who’s learned to bend around attacks. Nice! This issue’s really, really good. Wilson’s definitely getting more political here, and taking inspiration from relatively recent events. (Specifically, Trump getting elected, off a campaign of hate, divisiveness, racism, and just all-around assholery.) It’s to be expected, really. The guy who called for a ban on all Muslim immigration got elected president. The President of the United States doesn’t want Muslims in the country, and neither do his supporters. That’s millions of people who don’t want Wilson, herself, in the country. So, yeah, that’s going to be reflected in Wilson’s writing. And it’s something I’m looking forward to. Wilson’s very smart and insightful and thoughtful, and while I’m sure there will be people – conservative assholes – who will complain about the social commentary in the book, I honestly don’t think anyone should give a single wet hot shit what those people think. Because, and I’m not sure I can stress this enough, those people are assholes. And if you’re one of those people, if you’re about to tell me off for calling you an asshole for not wanting social commentary in this book, then just stop, I really don’t give a shit what you think, because you are an asshole. Anyway, the art’s good, too. I think I’ve disliked Failla’s style on other books, but it works well here, as this is a series that’s already established a pretty cartoony art style. Failla does a really good job with Ms. Marvel’s power, with the way she bends looking really cool. And, of course, Herring’s colours help to maintain the book’s visual identity.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #21, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Doreen, Nancy and Tippy are going to the Negatize Zone for a vacation and to check on Doreen’s clone, Allene, from the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe graphic novel, which, if you haven’t read it, involves Doreen being cloned, and the clone goes by Allene, and at the ends, Allene goes to live in the Negative Zone. Anyway, with the ladies gone, it falls on Chipmunk Hunk, Koi Boi and Brain Drain to protect New York. And for Brain Drain to try to become better friends with the other two guys. He’s not very good at becoming their friend. They do fight four Dr. Octopi, parodying the four Supermans in the ’90s. Yeah, keeping it topical. And then there’s more criminals, and heroes who are fakers, and friendship is earned, and it’s really just a great issue. Lots of Brain Drain, and since Brain Drain is amazing, that’s definitely a good thing. There’s also a couple really good friendship lessons in there? And! I learned the word “Weltschmerz.” “The world-weariness of someone who believes that the real world can never satisfy the demands of the mind.” That the Germans have a word for that probably says a lot about Germans. Anyway, I love this series.

Hulk #7, by Mariko Tamaki, Georges Duarte, Matt Milla and Cory Petit. Jen’s at a trauma support group! Great! Good for her. Though she doesn’t seem to much like it. In Brooklyn, hipsters! Goddamn hipsters! There’s a dude saying movies aren’t a thing, and that he’s “making reality.” I want him punched in his goddamn soul-patched face. Anyway, he and his buddy are getting a new drug called Monster. Jen gets out of the trauma meeting, and gets annoyed when a woman asks if she’s cried lately. She gets petty about cliches about feelings and crying, then goes to a construction site to smash stuff, and is found by Hellcat. Hellcat! She and Jen chat about how Jen’s been feeling about her Hulk form lately. Though first, we cut to the set of an online cooking show, where the host is getting ready, and his boyfriend is with him. And the hipster douches show up, because they work on the show. So hey, gay couple, cool. But the Jen/Patsy scene is fantastic. They’ve got this great friendly chemistry, and their love really shows. And Patsy is completely non-judgemental, and she isn’t pressuring Jen or anything like that. And Jen isn’t getting emotional. It’s just a couple friends talking. It’s really good to see. This issue’s so good. So, so good. Wonderful issue. We see Jen still trying to cope with her trauma, but she’s also still making jokes, and she’s renewed her friendship with Patsy which is great. The baking show stuff is a lot of fun, with a great cliffhanger. Tamaki is doing such a great job on this series. Duarte’s art is good. I liked Leon more, more Duarte does good work. Very expressive. I love Hulk’s expression when she sees Hellcat. It’s not a big grin. It’s a lot more subtle, and that makes it a lot more powerful. Duarte also draws a buff-looking Hulk. Not as feral as Leon’s, but the context is different. So she’s just big. And, as always, Milla’s colours are stellar. Anyway, this series is fantastic. Read it!

Black Panther & the Crew #3, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Butch Guice, Mack Chater, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Joe Caramagna. In 1956, Harlem, Ezra and Frank talk about the need for an army for Harlem. In the present, Ororo and T’Challa talk about being part of Ezra’s plans. The woman who brought Ororo to T’Challa, Marla, tells them there’s a war going on and they need soldiers to lead the people. She lets them know about luxury condos being built in South Harlem, part of a gentrification program to push the regular people out of Harlem. They investigate, and T’Challa learns about Frank Ocean, and is soon singing his songs. Heh. Anyway, this is good. The plot moves along. There’s some great tension between T’Challa and Ororo. Interestingly, that tension is not present in the main Black Panther series, which Coates also writes. So this one guy is writing the same relationship in two different ways. Regardless, the tension is written well. It makes for some really good moments. The art’s good. The whole thing’s good. Solid book.

Jem & the Holograms #26, by Kelly Thompson, Gisele Lagace, M. Victoria Robado, and Shawn Lee. The final issue. It honestly doesn’t feel like a final issue. There is the Infinite mini coming out. But just the same, this felt like a middle issue of the series. It’s weird. But it’s still good. Didn’t make me cry, though. I was expecting it to break me, but it didn’t have anything that would break a person.

Bitch Planet Triple Feature, with three stories. One by Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Maria Frohlich, one by Andrew Aydin and Joanna Estep, and one by Conley Lyons and Craig Yeung (with colours by Marco D’Alfonso). The whole thing is lettered by Clayton Cowles. The first story is about a woman who spent years as a soldier, and then two years working on Bitch Planet, before she was fired and reduced to being a maid.  The second story is a congressional assistant who gets sexually harassed. The third is a woman who wants to be a major businesswoman, but gets looked over and fired because she has small tits. And, as always, there’s the fantastic backmatter. This one has an essay by Tasha Fierce about violence as a method of non-compliance. As always, Bitch Planet is a must-read reminder that the patriarchy needs to be torn down.

I also should have mentioned this: Vision Director’s Cut #1 also came out yesterday. It collects the first two issues of Vision, by Tom King, Gabriel Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles. It also has behind-the-scenes stuff. If you haven’t read that series, read it. It will fuck you up. Just thinking of that series makes me tear up. Absolutely one of the best things Marvel has ever put out.

Pull List for June 14 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I work until 10 tomorrow. So I’ll probably just do my review post on Thursday, instead.

I’ll go to the store for: All-New Wolverine #21, by Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk, Cory Hamscher, Terry Pallot, Michael Garland, and Cory Petit; Bitch Planet Triple Feature, by various creators; Black Panther & the Crew #3, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Butch Guice, Mack Chater, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Joe Caramagna; Generation X #3, by Christina Strain, Amilcar Pinna, Roberto Poggi, Felipe Sobreiro, Nolan Woodard, and Clayton Cowles; Hulk #7, by Marikoa Tamaki, Georges Duarte, and there’s no preview to mention the rest of the creative team, but I’d assume Matt Milla and Cory Petit; Jem & the Holograms #26, by Kelly Thompson, Gisele Lagace, M. Victoria Robado, and Shawn Lee; Ms. Marvel #19, by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #21, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham.

I’ll also review: Old Man Logan #25, by Ed Brisson, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit; Weapon X #4, by Greg Pak, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna; X-.Men Blue #5, by Cullen Bunn, Julian Lopez, Cory Smith, Irma Kniivila, and Joe Caramagna

So that’s 8 comics I’m picking up, and 3 additional reviews. Very heavy week.

So what’s good? Wolverine! Always a great comic. We’ll see how her fancy new healing touch backfires horribly, requiring Gabby to bail her out. The Bitch Planet Triple Feature is actually an anthology, stories set in the Bitch Planet continuity, and the main series has been amazing so this book should be really great, too. The Crew’s been really good, very compelling stuff, great racial politics examination. Generation X is going into a Monet story, so yay for that! Monet! The preview also features Face, so I wonder if that means Karma will be in the story, too, since she was Face’s caretaker, last we saw him. I can only hope for a Karma appearance. Hulk’s been phenomenal, though I’m extremely disappointed at the lack of a preview for this issue. Squirrel Girl is Squirrel Girl. Since this issue’s focused on Koi Boi, Chipmunk Hunk, and Brain Drain, I’m hoping for an explicit statement that Koi Boi is trans. And sadly, Jem & the Holograms ends this week. Though there will be a summer mini-series. But #26 is the last of the main series, and that’s really sad, and I’m probably going to cry, because that book has been SO. GOOD.

On Saturday, I watched Dr. Strange. You can read my livetweet here. My takeaway: It was OK. Not great. It had some really cool special effects. It was visually awesome. But it leaned a bit too hard on the Marvel style. Too much humour, which felt out of place here. It kept the film from really having its own identity. Strange himself ends up coming across as a second-rate Tony Stark. A few jokes here and there would’ve been fine, but it felt like they tried to cram them in every chance they got, and most of the jokes weren’t particularly good, and it just didn’t end up feeling like a Dr. Strange movie. I also still hate that they made the Ancient One white. That was a bullshit decision with bullshit justifications, and I can’t forgive that casting choice. It was whitewashing, and it was bullshit.

And that’s all I feel like talking about this week.

Wolverine #9 (1989, July)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I watched Dr. Strange last night. You can find my livetweet on my Twitter. Today, by Peter David, Gene Colan, Mark Chiarello, and Bill Oakley, “Promises To Keep.”

Promises To Keep

A very Colan cover.

So hey, the legendary Gene Colan did the line art for this issue. Pencils and inks. Colan, of course, is probably most famous for co-creating Daredevil. Of course, he had a long and distinguished career, and created or co-created a ton of famous characters. For example, Falcon and Blade. Two of Marvel’s most notable black characters. He was a huge name in comics. But! This issue also has Peter David filling in on writing, which is notable, because he’ll soon take the series over.

So! Some tough-looking guys are at a run-down looking motel in the woods, asking for a cabin. They’re nervous. They get to their rented cabin, and one of the guys, Van Slyke, says they’re not being followed any more. Just in time to hear a “snikt.” Claws pound through the wall, and Van Slyke is killed.

Wolverine #9

Yeah, this is a horror story.

The guys go to bed, and one of them dreams. The gang was out camping, and talking about the “moves” some woman had. One guy kills a deer and runs to check on it, and screams as he dies. And a voice warns them all to run.

Malone wakes up screaming, and checks on Rollins, who was supposed to be on watch, but is now under a sheet. Logan pops out from under it and asks if Malone remembers Iraq. Then he smashes out a window and disappears. The remains thugs follow him, and think back to the Iraq Fiasco.

Wolverine #9

I like gjuy admitting he was stoned a lot.

Taking over an American embassy was bad enough. But Bruno? Ooh. Turns out there was a woman there he took a liking to. But she didn’t like him. So he grabbed her and a few others, lined them up outside, and made to shoot them. But with empty clips. Scaring them. They played the game for days. And Bruno apparently did other stuff with her, too. Then, on Day 13, some commandos stormed the embassy and killed the merc band, with only a few escaping, including Bruno. And Bruno realizes the guy hunting them was there. Then, back in the present, they find a canoe. Or a kayak. I don’t know how to tell them apart.

Wolverine #9

What a polite interaction.

But, with this being a horror story, a hand pops out of the water and slices the canoe apart, and kills one more dude. Leaving just Malone and Bruno, with Bruno freaking out. He figures that maybe if he kills Malone, the stalker will let him live. So Malone kills Bruno. And then he runs, and finds himself at a waterfall, facing Logan. Logan explains that there were some Canadians at the American embassy Bruno’s boys took, so he was sent in with Delta Force. The nun Malone had been harassing was one of the Canadians. During the rescue, she took a bullet in the crossfire, the only civilian casualty. Logan found her, and she asked him to make Malone suffer for what he did to her. Malone didn’t kill her, but he broke her spirit. Malone decides he’d rather kill himself than let Logan do it. Which Logan’s satisfied with, too.

This issue’s . . . odd. Like I said above, it’s basically a horror story. It’s very much a throwback to the crime and horror comics of the ’50s and ’60s, which Colan did a lot of. I’ll confess to not being a fan of Colan’s art style. The man was a legend, and definitely had a unique style, but it’s just not a style that appealed to me. A bit too blobby, a bit too stylized. Weird faces, weird poses. It is a good fit for a horror story, though. He does a great job at tone. And the weirdness of his style sets the reader more on edge. It’s a creepy style. The story is done really well. Malone’s gang is established as bad guys right off the start, so the reader feels good as they get picked off. And Logan is one hell of a horror monster, using his claws and his stealth to mess with them. The way he just pops up when the guys least expect it is straight out of a horror movie.

Peter David’s known for the comedy in his writing. Wordplay, bad puns, pop culture references, all sorts of gags. He doesn’t bring that here. He plays this script deadly serious. There’s a couple jokes at the start, with the guy the gang rents a cabin from. But after that, there’s really not much in the way of jokes. Which is odd, from a Peter David script, but again, it’s what the story requires. David’s always been a smart writer, so he knew Colan’s strengths as an artist, and he very much played into those strengths.

This isn’t a classic issue or anything. It’s just a flashback that’s never mentioned again. But it’s notable for being, as far as I can tell, the only X-work Gene Colan ever did. And, hell, it’s notable for being Gene Colan. I don’t like his style, but still, Gene Frigging Colan. And this is also notable as Peter David’s first X-work.

I should have mentioned this in the last UXM review, but What If? #1 featured the X-Men. By Roy Thomas, Ron Wilson, Mike Gustovich, Tom Vincent, and Mike Heisler, “What If the Avengers Had Lost the Evolutionary War?” The High Evolutionary manages to detonate his genetic bomb, sending particles around the world. That includes Australia. The X-Men teleport to Santa Monica, California, to meet the West Coast Avengers and investigate. Captain America explains the situation. Everyone starts glowing, and Wolverine’s adamantium claws grow, and don’t hurt his hands coming out. The others all sense that their powers have evolved. The regular people have their heads start growing, which has long been shorthand for human evolution, for some reason. It also makes the people change their minds about mutants, and decide to revere them. Other superheroes are affected in various ways. Even Dr. Doom’s heroic now. A whole bunch of super-people meet to figure out what to do, and they decide a leader is needed, and Wolverine is the one they choose. (So hey, I guess this fits in this post, after all.) The super-people decide to leave Earth, and journey the stars. There, they’re attacked by aliens. The supers kick their asses. Then they go kill Galactus. Then they take over Death and attack Eternity, combining mutants, Death and Eternity into one being. Then they go create a new universe. It’s a weird comic. And I don’t like it. I don’t like these kinds of What If issues, that are mostly just exposition. “So then this happens. And then this happens. And then this happens.” No real characterization. This one’s more annoying than most. Bland art, too. The whole thing feels like a ’70s throwback, in all the wrong ways.

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