Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m still happy about yesterday’s New Avengers. But for today, a continuation of “Save the Tiger,” by Claremont, John Buscema, Janson, Oliver and Orzechowski. Part IV, “The Ordeal.”
Logan wakes up chained up in a dungeon. Sapphire Styx comes in to steal some more of his life force, so he can’t cause any problems. Then Roche enters with his Inquisitor to torture Logan a bit. At dawn, Tiger pays a visit to O’Donnell at the Princess Bar. 14 hours later, Roche’s Inquisitor suggests calling it a night. With them gone, Logan briefly considers trying to telepathically call the X-Men for help, but decides he’ll handle it himself. He slices the chains and gets outside, where Razorfist is waiting for him. Logan wonders almost the same thing we all do: How he eats or gets dressed. Though, really, what we all want to know is how he goes to the washroom. Anyway, with Logan so badly hurt, Razorfist kicks his ass. Logan falls into a river and over a waterfall.
A pretty cool installment. We see Logan getting pushed to his limits. Styx mentions the Inquisitor even got him to scream right at the end, which tells us both how tough Logan is and how much he was put through. Obviously, Logan’s healing factor means he can put up with a lot, but even so, the Inquisitor pushed his healing factor hard and left him so weak he could barely walk. So it’s pretty cool. We also see that Tiger does still have some goodness in her, as she thinks she shouldn’t abandon Logan. So, yeah, pretty good.
And Part V, “The Rescue.”
Wolverine, in his costume, is marching through a desert, with a yoke on his shoulders. Sapphire Styx shows up to drain him, but he breaks away. She’s joined by Roche, Razorfist and the Inquisitor. He goes into a berserker rage, but still gets his ass handed to him. He wakes up in the harbour, and sees faces in the moon, of Mariko and Amiko (his foster daughter that he never sees because he’s a jerk). He’s pulled out of the water by Tiger, who’d been watching Roche’s villa for a chance to rescue him. She takes him to where she’s been staying, in the floating village, a bunch of boats chained together as a city. He wakes up, attacks her, and passes out again. She spends the next few days taking care of him while he heals. Once he wakes up, he thanks her for saving his life, and she says he saved her life, and calls him Wolverine.
Pretty OK. This installment is all about Logan being near-death, and Tiger nursing him back to health. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. The hallucination at the start is a bit weird and lame and distracting. I don’t know what story purpose it serves. It doesn’t add anything. It just takes up pages that could have been better spent expanding on Tiger taking care of Logan, which is glossed over really quickly. So, yeah, this installment could have been better.
The art in both parts is good. Buscema was always a reliable artist. You knew what you’d get when you picked up one of his comics. It wouldn’t blow you away, but it was competent work. I’m not sure he was the right line artist for this story, though. This is very much a noir story, and I’m not his lines work for it. Janson’s inks don’t mesh well with the lines, and Oliver goes with darker colours, which also clash a bit with the lines. I think another artist might have worked better. One who does dark stories better. As it is, there’s a bit of an off-ness to the art, that I don’t like.
Extraordinary X-Men #13, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos. Illyana is searching for Sapna, and finds the portal she went through. Meanwhile, Forge has built a cell to hold Apocalypse, and hopes to use him to find a way to return Colossus to normal, once they find him. Iceman and Nightcrawler are looking for him, by going after some Clan Akkaba dudes. Nightcrawler remains a bit murdery, which, no. No. No, Lemire, no. Iceman stops him. He also makes bad cold puns, because he’s Iceman. Storm joins Illyana at the portal, which startles her. It’s kind of cute, actually, with Storm saying she didn’t think Illyana would scare so easily. Illyana also says Storm’s the only person more stubborn than she is. You know, these two have had very little interaction over the years, and I’m realizing that’s a shame. They play off each other well, here. So they go through worlds until they stop in one, and get attacked. Back in the Mansion, the injured Ernst wants to help Forge repair Cerebra, but he’s a jerk to her. He seems to be under a lot of stress, and it’s making him a dick. A bigger dick than usual. This issue is OK. As usual, it’s split between two plots: Illyana/Sapna, and less interesting stuff. The search for Colossus could end up being a decent story, we’ll have to wait and see, but this series has given me no reason to be optimistic. Forge’s grumpiness could actually lead to a fairly good character arc for him. Probably not, but we’ll see. The main thing here is the search for Sapna. The Illyana/Sapna stuff has been, to me, the best part of the whole series so far. So I’m already invested in this arc. Storm joining along does make me nervous, because Lemire has shown a terrible grasp of her character so far. I’m not looking forward to seeing how he makes her look weak and ineffectual in this arc. She’ll probably be completely lost and need Illyana to tell her what to do. That’s been the trend in this series. Well, we’ll see. At least Illyana’s bound to be awesome. The art’s good. Ibanez is a fine artist. He’s not one of my favourites. I find his style can be a bit blobby at times. But it’s fine. For the most part, it looks good. Weird stuff is done especially well. The group that attacks Illyana and Storm have pretty decent designs. So, yeah, on the whole, this issue’s OK.
Deadpool #17, by Gerry Duggan, Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Jordie Bellaire. Deadpool and the Mercs are fighting each other in the vault they locked themselves into. Stingray finds their contracts with Deadpool, and Solo burns them, with Stingray saying they’ll make more money as free agents. But Stingray’s not actually a mercenary! He only joined to keep an eye on the group for Steve Rogers! Anyway, more fighting, and then they all end up tied up by SHIELD, with Preston yelling at them. Stingray says they all need to come up with a story about a big threat and mind control. And that’s the end of the Mercs’ relationship with Deadpool. Meh issue. Meh meh meh. As usual, Deadpool – known for making constant jokes – makes almost no jokes throughout the issue. I know what Duggan’s going for. He wants to show how angry Deadpool is, or how depressed he is, or how serious he is. But the thing is, Deadpool still makes jokes when he’s angry, depressed or serious. The tone of the jokes changes, but he’s still making jokes. Duggan has him making virtually no jokes throughout the issue. I have always hated how he wrote the Mercs, of course, as they have been out of character right from the start. No change there. So, yeah, shitty comic. And I don’t like the art, either. Not a style I enjoy. So there’s nothing about this that I enjoyed. At all.
That’s the X-stuff, but here’s other things I picked up.
Captain Marvel #8, by Ruth and Christos Gage, Kris Anka and Matt Wilson. Carol’s busy, taking various teams to help stop disasters. Then she reports to T’Challa, Gyrich and Beualieu, from the Alpha Flight governing board. T’Challa raises concerns about their actions, and Ulysses’ visions. So Carol takes T’Challa to see the Rapid Response Room. Ms. Marvel and Spider-Miles are hanging out there. Yay them. Carol shows off just how much of an operation they’ve put in place to ensure Ulysses’ visions are accurate and acted on quickly and properly. She really has put an immense amount of work into it. Then she goes to visit Clint in prison while he awaits trial. And it’s a fantastic scene, where she talks about how hard she’s working, and how much everyone else is riding her about how she’s doing things, and how she has no one to talk to about it. Then she gets called in about a new vision, involving Stewart Cadwall. Who’s he? Some loser TV writer who was briefly given powers by the Beyonder in Secret Wars II, and called himself Thundersword. And holy shit, the Gages called back to goddamn Thundersword. That’s amazing. Anyway, this is a great issue. It goes over all the precautions Carol’s taking, and explores how much she believes in what she’s doing, and how desperate she is that it be done right. It’s going to great pains to show how reasonable and responsible she’s being, and how hard it is for her, and how alone she feels. She doesn’t have doubts, but she does clearly have fears. And it’s nice to see that explored. So, yeah, this is a really good issue, and is arguably a must-read if you’re reading CWII.
New Avengers #15, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and Jesus Aburtov. Let me just show you the opening panels:
Warlock then flows over Roberto, to be his armour, shield and sword. I love Warlock. Toni is still defending Pod, wearing some Rescue armour, and actually uses the force field as an effective battering ram. She’s clever. Also clever: Roberto. Because the location Songbird gave SHIELD last issue? It’s not the New Avengers HQ. It’s the WHISPER HQ. Nice. That takes out OMNITRONICUS, who goes out with a lot of ‘D’ words. I love OMNITRONICUS. And Toni decapitates Skar. Because Toni’s awesome. And she also tells Aikku she loves her! Yay! It does mean a sad sacrifice, though. There’s also the White Tiger vs. White Tiger fight, which goes awesomely. I love Ava. She is the best. This issue is all about plans coming together, and it’s epic. There’s so much awesome win going on, and I love that ‘Berto has spent this entire run setting up this epic take-down of WHISPER. He out-smarted a Reed Richards. I mean, one could arguably object to this whole arc because, hey, the good guys secretly had the advantage the whole time. But the way it plays out is so damned satisfying. We also finally get pay-off to the Toni/Pod shipteasing, though not without a bit of tragedy. There’s a super-sad moment. So it’s nice that it was followed by an awesomely triumphant moment from Ava. The art is good. The action flows well, and expressions convey a lot. This is so good. Soooo good.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #10, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain. Ms. Marvel! Yay! She chastises Lunella and Kid Kree for fighting near civilians. Lunella has clear hero worship for Ms. Marvel, and who can blame her. Ms. Marvel’s amazing. Meanwhile, out in Kree space, Mel-Varr’s parents are arguing. His mother is being a good mom, his dad is being a jerk dad. And then back to Earth, for Lunella and Ms. Marvel bonding! Squee! And Devil gives MS. Marvel the stinkeye. There’s a great moment where Ms. Marvel tries to tell Lunella to embrace being an Inhuman, and Lunella respond that other people telling her what she is gets old. It’s moments like that that really make this series. Because it’s true. And it’s something people tend to forget. We always want to tell kids who they are, rather than letting them learn for themselves, or trusting that they do know for themselves. Ms. Marvel gives Lunella an old Avengers communicator, if she ever needs to talk. Aww, it’s just like when Captain Marvel gave Ms. Marvel a communicator! And later, Mel-Varr (as Marvin) tries to be friends with Lunella. I think he has a crush! This remains wonderful. A wonderful comic. So good. So nice and cute and good. Lunella’s hero worship of Ms. Marvel is especially great, because, let’s be honest, if you’re reading Moon Girl, you’re almost certainly reading Ms. Marvel, as well, so we also think she’s boss. But what’s more, for the first time, we’re seeing Ms. Marvel through someone else’s eyes. We’re used to seeing her as a bit of a mess. Someone who’s young and inexperienced, trying her best but struggling not to screw up. But here, she’s cool. She knows what she’s doing. It’s really neat seeing her like this. And, of course, the issues is just super-cute and fun. I love this series so much.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11, by Ryan North, Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi. Dorren’s eating falafel, and sees Dr. Octopus outside the window. So she smashes through it to fight him. He says he’ll leave her alone if she leaves him alone, which she points out is an if statement, a computer programming thing. Then she smacks him with her tail. He makes another statement she interprets as relating to computer science. Then she beats him with a clock to the head. Tippy-Toe comes out of the falafel place with a doggy bag and mentions Doc Ock is dead, and Squirrel Girl realizes they’re in a dream. Nightmare shows up to explain his plan, then summons Count Nefaria, who challenges Squirrel to count to 10 on one hand. She says she can count to 31, using computer science techniques, because that’s what this issue is all about. Count Nefaria is delighted to learn this new way of counting. Because why wouldn’t he be? Then Nightmare summons a Venom symbiote to attack her himself. As usual, this is goofy and silly and fun. It’s just a dream about defeating villains using computer science, which is a bizarre idea, but really great. Chabot’s art is really good. I love Henderson’s art on USG, but Chabot made for a really good fill-in artist for this issue. It’s a cute and fun style. Very expressive and cartoony. I love this series so much.
Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #9, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson. Hedy Wolfe is on a date with Daimon Hellstrom, Patsy’s ex-husband, and says Patsy’s plotting to kill him. Meanwhile, Patsy’s temp agency is in debt, and Patsy’s not willing to ask the people working for them to give a bigger share to her. So she goes to get coffee and talk to Jubilee. Yay Jubilee! Jubilee! She has her son, Shogo, with her. Fun note: Patsy grabs a mug that says Magneto Was Old. Nice. Also, Jubilee’s door has a skull and an X symbol. Nice to see her paying respect to her past like that. Elsewhere, Hedy pays a visit to Buzz Baxter, aka Mad Dog, Patsy’s other ex-husband, with information. And Jubilee takes the gang to karaoke! Where Tom is the fricking boss. He is the mayor of this karaoke club. Everyone there knows him and loves him. And he sings goddamn Ursula’s song from The Little Mermaid. Then Daimon leads Patsy outside and attacks her, while Mad Dog attacks the people in the club. Which gives us a chance to learn that Jubilee can turn to mist. And when she does, her sunglasses stay on. Do you have any idea how yes that is? Anyway, it’s another delightful issue. After last issue’s heavy emotional drama, this one brings back the fun. With Jubilee, and karaoke! Two great things! The adorable ship-teasing between Tom and Ian continues. Tom is smooth here, leaving Ian flustered. Jubilee very clearly ships them. Everyone ships them. Tom and Ian clearly need to get together. I’m happy to have Jubilee in this book. She’s written really well. Being a mother has clearly given her a much stronger sense of responsibility, and she’s actually doing really well at Patsy’s temp agency. People tend to forget it, but Jubilee’s actually pretty smart. And, of course, she’s still got her sense of humour. She’s not the motormouth she used to be, but she’s still a high-energy person who loves having fun. And, of course, the art is adorable. I love Williams and Wilson. The book is super-cute. The adorablest comic ever. Here:
Nighthawk #4, by David Walker, Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain. Good cop Burrell is following bad cop Dixon, who’s telling evil businessman Hanrahan about a shipment of guns being destroyed. Hanrahan then calls white supremacist Caldwell to stir shit up. And as chaos spreads throughout Chicago, Nighthawk feels a little fed up. He goes to beat up some white supremacists who are killing blacks and Latinos, while Tilda tries to convince him to let her join the fun. He shoots a bunch of them up, then tells the people they were targeting to stop looting. He also beats the crap out of a cop, and he thinks of his mother’s words to control his rage, and he throws up. Another strong issue. Intriguing plot, great character stuff, and brutal action. What’s not to love? This is a very good book. Tilda remains the best. I love her.
And Snotgirl #2, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung and Mickey Quinn. Lottie is at home, pretty freaked out about Caroline being dead, and she tries to call the cops to turn herself in, but then she passes out. When she wakes up, her phone is dead, and spends the next three days with her phone turned off so the cops can’t trace her with it. She uses the library to search for any online news about a dead fashion blogger. She finds nothing, so she goes home and paints her nails, until her intern, Esther, shows up. Esther is pretty great. I like her right off the bat. A few days later, Lottie finally decides she can go out, and meets her friends, Normgirl and Cutegirl. They tell her about a new blogger, Caroline. Then the three go to the coffee shop where Lottie’s ex-intern, Charlene, works. Charlene is dating Lottie’s ex-boyfriend, who she’s clearly not over. Man, this series is so weird. So good, though. It’s a blend of comedy and drama, with some psychological horror thrown in. Lottie hiding in terror of being hunted by the police is a little unsettling. At one point, she drops an egg on the floor, and it reminds her of Caroline’s head, and it’s genuinely creepy. A really effective moment. But at the same time, she’s still this incredibly shallow and self-obsessed person, which is funny. It’s a really weird comic, but a really good one. And the art is gorgeous. Hung and Quinn are fantastic. I’m loving this series.
First, by Nocenti, Mazzucchelli, David Hornung and John Workman, “Chiaroscuro.” This issue is set during Mephisto vs. X-Factor, from May 1987. An old woman is reading the Bible with her grandson. She’s reading from Isaiah, and he wants to hear about a big battle she told him about, and she says it must have been something, with a flurry of wings and flash of swords. The bratty little jerk grabs her coin purse out of her pocket, and then leaves. She goes into the kitchen, where her toast has burnt, and she can’t figure out the plugs, so she goes outside. She tries to get an apple off the tree in her back yard, but a neighbour sees her standing on a basket and a bucket, and leads her back inside. She looks at a needlepoint sketch she’s done, and thinks it needs something. She turns on the TV, and it’s all about violence and death and mayhem. Which is a pretty accurate representation of TV news, really. Poor Josie feels old and useless and just wants to leave.
She thinks about when she was young, then sees an angel (or an Angel) falling in the rear view mirror. She goes to check it out.
She thinks he’s an actual angel, and he rambles about a battle, and needing his feathers, so she starts collecting them. She brings him inside and puts him on her bed, face-down, so she can start gluing his feathers back on. She decides to keep one. He mumbles about the Beast, which she takes as a reference to the Biblical Beast, from Revelations. It’s actually a pretty reasonable misunderstanding, honestly. As she works, she notices her arthritis pain is gone. She goes to make him some food, and finishes her sketch. She then decides not to steal the feather, and puts it back on, as well. She wakes Angel with the food, and he’s a good dude.
She does insist he eat something before he go.
Angel’s so good in this story, he actually makes an old woman become awesome.
This is a great story. It’s so nice. It starts with Josie feeling like a useless old woman who’s tired of life. But Angel’s presence renews her faith, and also makes her feel alive for the first time in years. Her arthritis pain goes away, she finishes a sketch she’s been working on for 15 years, and in the end, she reclaims herself and her sense of identity. It’s sweet. I’m assuming her arthritis going away was meant to be symbolic, but it does suggest that Angel actually does have curing abilities.
Mazzucchelli’s art is phenomenal. There’s a great use of shadow and light. There’s nice expressiveness, and some really subtle expressiveness, as well. He makes Angel look genuinely angelic, letting us see him through her eyes. And it’s just really, really pretty art. So pretty. I kinda wish Nocenti and Mazzucchelli had done more work together, because they mesh really well here.
And the second story, by Claremont, Craig Hamilton, Rick Bryant, Scotese and Novak, “Deal With the Devil!” This story is set between panels of Uncanny X-Men #185, from 1984. This story has dual narration, from Storm and Mystique. And right off: Hot damn.
Seriously, just look at that. That is magnificent. She goes into a bit of a dive club, to meet Mystique, who’s arranged the meeting. And is initially disguised as Storm’s “sister.” It’s, uh, something.
Mystique then shifts to resemble Kitty, which pisses Storm off even more. Though I do want to give Mystique credit: She includes a Star of David pendant. I appreciate her attention to detail. She changes back to Storm again.
I’m sorry, Mystique, but the swastikas completely ruin the illusion. Has there been a black person in the past 80 years who’s worn a swastika? I find that doubtful. Regardless, Storm’s had quite enough, as the crack of lightning and heavy rain demonstrates. Even Mystique finds it a bit scary. She asks where Rogue is, and Storm says she’s run away, and they argue for a bit until a waiter in what I will charitably call an outfit shows up.
Mystique, who still looks like Storm, gives the waiter a quick make-out, to rile Storm up some more. And finally, Mystique explains why she called Storm. She says Rogue’s being hunted by a task force. Remember, this was right after Rogue attacked the SHIELD Helicarrier to save Rossi. She also mentions the gun that can strip powers. She gives Storm a list of locations to search for Rogue, suggesting she start with Caldecott County. Storm wants to know why Mystique is asking the X-Men to find Rogue.
Storm leaves, so Mystique joins Destiny at another table. Destiny asks if Mystique told Storm about her vision that whoever goes to help Rogue will be hit with the Neutralizer. Destiny feels guilty about not warning Storm, and Mystique comforts her by asking for a dance.
This is an interesting story. It explains how Storm found Rogue way back in UXM #185, though we didn’t really need to know it happened this way. I’m pretty sure everyone assumed Xavier found her. Well, it’s still interesting. The dynamic between Storm and Mystique is cool. I get the impression Mystique actually kinda likes Storm, which is why she enjoys messing with her. She wants to see just how far she can push Storm, and what happens if she pushes too far. It makes for a fascinating tension between them.
This story is probably the strongest hint to date that Mystique and Destiny are lovers. They talk about how much they care for each other, Mystique thinks about how beautiful Destiny is. And then she turns into a man so they can dance romantically. It’s as close as Claremont ever gets to on-panel confirmation that they’re lovers. (Sadly, Claremont never had on-panel confirmation of any characters being queer, even during his returns to the franchise, when he would have been allowed to do it. He prefers to keep it subtext, which is bullshit. But whatever.) Mystique kissing the waiter does make me want to see a similar scene where she kisses a waitress, or another random woman, just for the fun of it. We’ve never actually seen Mystique kissing a woman. It’s a bit irritating that Marvel’s most prominent bisexual character only ever hooks up with the opposite sex. Someone get the hell on that. Let Mystique hook up with a woman. Just frigging do it already.
Anyway. The art on this story isn’t as strong as on the first one. For the most part, the art’s good, but there are a few panels where faces look off. That Storm panel, though. That’s one of the most epic Storm images I’ve ever seen, and Storm drips epicness.
So, yeah, this is a good comic. It’s really cool. Two solid stories. Not vital ones, but enjoyable ones.
I’ll go to the store for: Captain Marvel #8, by Christos and Ruth Gage, Kris Anka, Andy Owens and Matt Wilson; Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #10, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain; New Avengers #15, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and Jesus Aburtov; Nighthawk #4, by David Walker, Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain; Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #9, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson; Snotgirl #2, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung and Mickey Quinn; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11, by Ryan North, Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi
I’ll also review: Deadpool #17, by Gerry Duggan, Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Jordie Bellaire; Extraordinary X-Men #13, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos.
I’m also going to pick up the TPB of Pretty Deadly Vol. 2. Literally the only series I get in trade, even though I already get it in floppies, because I frigging love this series.
So that’s 7 comics I’m picking up, and 2 reviews. Which is the same as last week. Jeez.
They all look great. Captain Marvel will have further exploration of Carol using Ulysses to stop disasters, and should raise interesting discussions. Moon Girl will meet Ms. Marvel! Moon Girl’s been a fun and cute series all along, but now, it’s going to have a cameo from Ms. Marvel! Hurrah! That’ll be epic. New Avengers will be more madness, now with bonus Warlock. The preview has him paraphrasing Dirty Harry, and hell yes. Nighthawk’s been great with racial politics. Hellcat’s been fun and adorable, and will now have bonus Jubilee! Jubilee, guys! I love Jubilee. The first issue of Snotgirl was a lot of fun, and I’m eager to read more. And Squirrel Girl is always fun and hilarious, and this issue will be full of computer science stuff to make it educational. I will remember none of it.
November solicits are out. My Marvel pull list: Avengers #1, Champions #2, Occupy Avengers #1, World of Wakanda #1, Mosaic #2, Ms. Marvel #13, Power Man & Iron Fist #10, Squirrel Girl #14, All-New Wolverine #14, Black Panther #8, Hellcat #12, Silk #14, Moon Girl #13, Silver Surfer #9, Ultimates 2 #1, Ghost Rider #1, New Avengers #18. 17 comics, which is lighter than my typical Now list will be. I might pick up the ANXM Annual. It’s not written by Hopeless, so my grudge isn’t a problem. And Dani Moonstar will show up! I love Dani. She’s the best. Elixir will be back from the dead in the UXM Annual, too, which is nice. Though Marvel really should stop killing Elixir. I don’t want it to be a thing where he keeps dying and then comes back.
I finished Women In Practical Armour. My review:
This was an excellent anthology. All the stories were great. Top-quality stuff. The highest praise I can give is that I wanted most of them to continue. Every story is well-written, with compelling characters. While all the stories are about female warriors, there’s still a range of styles and tones represented. Some are funny, some are tense and dramatic, a couple are downright heartbreaking. There are no weak stories in this collection; all of them are enjoyable reads.
I would very highly recommend this book.
It’s a book I backed on Kickstarter. So my name is in the back, in the Patent of Nobility section. Yay me. Now, I can finish up Alphabet.
So, the rumour is that Zendaya will play Mary Jane in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I’m fine with this. Zendaya’s an attractive young woman, and she looks like she’s probably a fairly high-energy person. That’s crucial to Mary Jane’s character, especially in the early comics – it wasn’t until Gwen Stacy died that MJ settled down a little bit, though she’s always been spunky. The Raimi movies made her a rather dull Girl Next Door, who had to be rescued every five frigging minutes, so already, Zendaya as MJ is looking to be way better than Kirsten Dunst (though, in her defence, she wasn’t given much to work with).
There are some people who are upset about Zendaya as MJ, because Zendaya is biracial, while MJ in the comics is white. (There’s a lot of people bitching that MJ needs to be a redhead. Hair dye exists, people. There are pictures out there of Zendaya with red hair. Relax.) But here’s the thing: MJ is white, in the comics, because she was created at a time when everyone was white. There were virtually no minority characters at all at that point. They certainly weren’t going to introduce a woman of colour as a potential love interest for a white guy. The ’60s were a racist time. Let’s not mince words here: The ’60s were racist. If you deny that, you’re an idiot. The ’60s were racist. That is just a fact. So, to be blunt, fuck the ’60s. I don’t give a wet hot shit how characters were made in the ’60s, because it was an awful time. Just awful. But, unfortunately, with the way comics work, the characters created during that awful, racist time are the only ones who matter. They’re the ones who were always allowed to matter, so they’re the ones who continue to matter. “Create new characters” ignores the reality of how difficult it is for any new character to get even the tiniest little bit of acceptance.
So, yeah, I’m fine with changing the races of those characters. Why not? It’s not like there aren’t an endless supply of white characters anyway. And with Homecoming, it’s worth remembering that New York is a really diverse city. It would be less believable for everyone at Peter’s school to be white. A diverse cast makes immersion easier for the audience. And it also means that a lot more groups can see themselves on the screen, which, yes, does actually matter. It means a lot to a lot of people.
And that’s really where the complaints become petty. White people, we’re represented. Very well represented. Every single superhero movie released in the past decade has featured a white dude as the lead. Every single prominent female in every superhero movie released in the past decade has been white, with the exception of Gamora in GotG, who was green. (The actress is black, but they had to make her green.) Spider-Man will still be a white dude in Homecoming. Our representation isn’t going anywhere, and yet, we bitch and moan and whine at every scrap thrown to anyone who isn’t white. Especially women of colour, who have it ridiculously unfair. Representation matters. White people are represented to an obscene degree. So it’s time we shut up and smile when people of colour, and especially women of colour, get some representation, as well. It means a lot to them. Black girls are going to go to Homecoming and see a black Mary Jane and it will means so much to them. A white Mary Jane would mean nothing to anyone, because a white Mary Jane would be the default. Expected. I wish people would keep that in mind. What does it mean to anyone if a character is white? What does it mean to people if a character’s not white? Or male, or straight, or able-bodied, or anything else. What does it mean to marginalized groups to see themselves reflected in mainstream media? It means a lot, to a lot of them. What does it mean when a white character is lost? Virtually nothing, because there are so many other options.
And just to address a common argument: “What if a non-white character was made white?” Bullshit. Not equivalent. Because, again, white people have tons of representation, non-white people don’t. There’s an article out there explaining the difference using bowls of chocolate-covered raisins. One bowl is so full that you can add or remove a few and it’s not noticeable. The other is so empty that every single addition or removal is immediately noticeable. And hey, they actually did make a non-white character white! They whitewashed the Ancient One. And the people who are outraged – OUTRAGED! – at every instance of race-lifting were pretty much silent on the whitewashing. In fact, a lot of them were more bothered by the Ancient One being made a woman. Because these privileged cock-nuggets care only about their own representation. They don’t give one good goddamn about whether other people get a shred of representation. “Give me mine, screw everyone else.” So an Asian character with a white actor? Whatever, no big deal, who cares, right? A male character with a female actor? Unacceptable! A crime of the highest order! Why does Marvel hate men? They should stick to the source material! At least in the ways that benefit their own already-privileged group. If Marvel Studios cast Charlize Theron as Monica Rambeau, these ass-boils would probably praise the casting decision. If they cast Channing Tatum as Michael Rambeau, even better. I genuinely think the people bitching about a biracial MJ would be dead fucking silent if Channing Tatum was cast as Michael Rambeau. Because it wouldn’t affect them one bit, and if it doesn’t affect them, they refuse to give one single, solitary shit about it.
As a side note, there are rumours that another actress – whose name escapes me and I don’t feel like looking it up – might be playing Cindy Moon. So we might get Silk! That would be amazing. I would love it if Silk debuted, and even got her own spin-off movie. That’d be awesome.
My schedule for the week: 10:30-5 Friday, 3:45-10:45 Saturday, 4-11 Sunday, 3:45-11:15 Tuesday. So posts on Thursday and Monday.
And that’s all I’ve got for this week.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Excite! Today’s an awesome comic! By Claremont, Davis, Neary, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Warwolves of London.”
We start in the Scottish Highlands, an abandoned Gateway Technologies building. Tweedle-Dope, a member of the Crazy Gang (a criminal group from Captain Britain’s comics, they’re amazing but I’ll talk about them some other time) is fiddling with some junk, which he then tosses away as he leaves. But it’s alive!
Meanwhile, in London, Excalibur is dealing with a hostage situation. Well, Kitty and Rachel deal with it, while Captain Britain stands outside with curmudgeonly police officer Dai Thomas. While this is happening, a cop gets attacked by a Warwolf, in a pretty brutal scene.
That is harsh. He just sucks the life right out of Ray and leaves just his skin. Nasty. But awesome. Ray’s death hits Rachel with psychic backlash, and passes out, leaving Kitty to deal with the hostage-takers herself. Luckily, we’re talking about Kitty Pryde, who doesn’t know how not to be awesome.
It actually works pretty well, and Rachel finishes off the rest, just before Captain Britain smashes in. And now we meet another recurring character.
I love Captain Britain’s line there. Good on you, Brian. Rachel tells the others she sensed someone’s death. A little later, it happens again, with another Warwolf eating someone. Another night, Kitty is in Brian’s old workshop, at one of his houses in the city, grieving the X-Men, and Doug. Brian comes down to talk to her, about their mutual love of science. It’s a good scene. A nice reminder that they’re both legitimate geniuses. I wish we would’ve seen them bond over that more often. It comes up now and then, but not often enough.
Elsewhere, Meggan takes Nightcrawler to see the lighthouse she and Brian own. Meggan suggested the whole team move into it. Nightcrawler opens one door, which opens into a running subplot.
When he tries to show this to Meggan, the door just opens into the storage cellar. This will be a running gag/sub-plot that will take a few years to actually be resolved. In London, Rachel is at Fraser’s Bank, and you’ll never guess who’s there. Nigel! The secretary he’s chatting with thinks”pig” after literally every sentence she says to him. She’s cool. Nigel tries to flirt with Rachel. Unsuccessfully.
This moment is one of the stand-outs of the whole issue. It’s so awesome. Rachel’s great. Brian is meeting with Courtney Ross, his old girlfriend. Back in the old Captain Britain comics, Courtney had brown hair, but here, she’s blonde, and she says she used to dye it to better fit in. Brian thinks her blonde hair looks great. What a shock that the blond likes blondes. I kinda wish that had been commented on, actually.
Back at the house, Kitty’s finished the device she’s been working on. It gives her Rachel’s mutant signature. She’s ready to go hunting Warwolves, just as soon as she puts on a disguise.
Meanwhile, Nightcrawler tries to take a bath.
Meggan was raised on TV. So her worldview has been very much shaped by that. And yeah, on TV, if someone is in a bath, they’re going to be talking to someone, and privacy won’t be a concern. I also really like Kurt’s tail holding the mug. That’s a cute bit. After he gets out of the bath, he finds her watching TV. He asks what’s on, and she lists 6 different shows. She’s also crouching about two feet away from the screen. And actually, it’s interesting that she’s crouching, not sitting. A real person wouldn’t be able to do that for long, but of course, she doesn’t know she shouldn’t be able to do it, so she can. That’s just part of how her power works.
Anyway, Kurt heads downstairs into the workshop, and reads Kitty’s notes to figure out what she’s been doing. And then Kitty’s found by the three Warwolves. And they can attack her despite her phasing. Rachel’s rescue attempt goes poorly, and the Warwolves escape with Kitty. Oh no!
This is great. It’s a fantastic debut to a fantastic story. There’s a looooooot of subplots being dropped here. There’s the strange metal head blinking awake. There’s the mystery of the lighthouse’s storage room. There’s Nigel Frobisher. There’s Brian meeting with Courtney Ross. And there’s the friendship between Kurt and Meggan, which will turn romantic. These are all things that will burn for a while before coming to anything. The main plot, for this opening arc, is the Warwolves, and they’re more menacing than ever, with the whole skinsuit thing. That is terrifying. That’s serial killer stuff, but taken to an even more frightening level. It’s great.
The characters are all written really well, naturally. They are Claremont’s characters, after all. Captain Britain, Kitty and Rachel were all created by Claremont, and Kurt only had one appearance before Claremont took him over. Meggan is the one exception. She was Davis’ character . . . which makes it handy that he’s involved with the book, too. But he does make sure each character is very distinctive, in terms of personality. One thing I find interesting is just how much initiative Kitty takes here. By the time she left the X-Men, she was growing confident, and more independent. But now, she takes that even further. Kurt’s going to be the official leader of the team, but Kitty will always end up being the most independent member, the one most prone to doing her own thing.
And Alan Davis. Man. Alan Davis is amazing. His art is so good. Neary’s inks are a perfect match for his lines, as well, as they’ve worked together enough to really gel. There’s great body language, great facial expressions, a great sense of fabric, and, unusually for comics, a really good understanding of fabrics. Clothes look like clothes. Characters aren’t just nudes with body paint, they’re actually wearing clothes that function the way they should (more or less). And, of course, Davis does a great job with the fashions. It’s very ’80s, of course, but it was the ’80s, so what do you expect?
Excalibur was such a great series, at least for the first half or so of the series, and this issue gets it off to a really fun start.
We open on Trish Tilby reporting on a heat wave in New York, along with muggings, riots, accidents and bizarre halucinations. Behind her, the Alliance of Evil is wrecking stuff. She doesn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t even bother talking about them. Which is fair: It’s New York, this sort of thing happens all the time. Much more interesting is the inanimate objects acting up – the Alliance even mention the jail they were in letting them out. Meanwhile, Jean and Bobby are taking the kids clothes shopping, to prepare them for summer school. The kids are griping, and are also annoyed at the clothes tangling themselves and all being the wrong sizes. Then Boom-Boom defeats a sweater.
Bobby starts to lecture her on being more responsible, and she has a huge grin which amuses me.
She’s downright proud to be so much trouble. Then Tower chucks a car at them. Meanwhile, Scott is on Ship, watching Hank switch back and forth between fleshy and furry. Ship lets him know the Alliance is on TV, protesting the Mutant Registration Act. Some people protest with marches, or rallies, or sit-ins. The Alliance of Evil protests by throwing cars. All good choices. So, fight!
Which we cut away from, to a Kansas suburb, where someone in a suit of armour grabs some kids and shoots their parents. Nanny and the Orphan-Maker! Now, back to the fight, which Rusty finally joins, wearing a make-shift mask to hide his identity. He actually brings the fight to a halt, as Frenzy recognizes him despite the mask, and they have a really neat conversation.
She tries to recruit him. Back on Ship, Hank finally wakes up, blue and furry and smart again!
Ship teleports Hank and Scott to the scene, and the fight resumes. With Boom-Boom showing why she’s awesome again.
The Alliance is quickly defeated, and Hank and Trish are just about to have a reunion, but Freedom Force shows up to arrest the Alliance, and to get X-Factor to register under the MRA. Hank’s identity is public knowledge anyway, so he signs. Scott says the rest will sign, too, using their superhero names, but will keep their private lives private. That leaves Rusty, who gets his single best moment in the entirety of his time with X-Factor.
And then the last page is Hodge and the Right preparing for Warren’s attack.
This is a really good issue. It’s part of the Inferno build-up, with things already starting to get weird in the city. This is the first we see of what’s coming. Pretty soon, of course, most of Marvel’s titles will have some sort of Inferno tie-in, with a lot dealing with the random madness throughout New York City. It’s only touched on here, hinted at, foreshadowed, but it’s really effective, and really creates a sense of tension for what’s coming. Of course, that’s all minor stuff here. The Nanny subplot also gets touched on again, which is cool. I like that subplot, and it’ll go to cool places. But, of course, the big things here are with the Alliance, and with Beast.
The Alliance of Evil are kind of a dumb group, which actually makes them work well for this issue. There isn’t that much tension to the battle – even aside from knowing that the heroes will win, it’s hard to see the Alliance as a legitimate threat – but that doesn’t actually hurt the story. Frenzy does come across as pretty menacing. She’s really cool. It helps that she’s built like a brick shithouse. But she’s also got a nice attitude to her. More important than that: The Beast is back! It’s good to see. The blue furry version was the best version of him, so it’s cool to see that playful, fun-loving version of Beast back to the fore. And I love seeing him delight in his return to intelligence. This issue also does a great job spotlighting Rusty, with him wrestling with his desire to live up to his dead sailor father, to show his courage and his responsibility. It’s the most interesting he’s ever been, and it’s when he decides to leave the book, which is kind of unfortunate. Ah, well.
As far as the art goes, it’s Walter Simonson. If you like his art, you’ll love it here. If, like me, you’re not a fan of his art, this issue won’t change your mind. He does what he does well, but what he does isn’t what I enjoy. So, no sense dwelling on it. On the whole, though, this is a great issue, and Louise Simonson has definitely found a groove.
And part of X-Factor also shows up in The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak & Dagger #1, by Terry Austin, Dan Lawlis, P. Craig Russell, Glynis Oliver and Ken Bruzenak. This spun off from a Cloak & Dagger feature in Strange Tales. You may have noticed the “Mutant” in the title. Around this time, with the X-Men being so massively popular, it was decided to try to tie Cloak & Dagger into it by saying the drugs they were given activated their mutant powers. Since then, of course, it’s been confirmed that, nope, not mutants. But let’s go over the story real quick.
Dagger is trying to kill Jean, Bobby and Hank. Hank tears up the street a little to create some cover, which also makes him dumber. Hank tries to attack Dagger, but Jean is worried he’ll kill her, so she holds him back telekinetically until Bobby can make him slip on an icy patch. Jean realizes that maybe going straight to punching isn’t a great way to operate, and she tries to talk Dagger down. It fails, but I’m proud of Jean for trying. Hank rips up the street again to knock Dagger over, so Dagger sends all the people she knocked out after X-Factor. Jean tells Hank not to move, while she and Bobby deal with the people, by putting them in ice pens. Then she notices Hank getting attacked by some people, not moving. She said not to move, so he didn’t move. Jean decides they have no choice but to attack Dagger. But before they can, Cloak shows up. He was being held by the young son of a ’60s Dr. Strange villain who’d retired and gone into insurance. That part of the story is really fun, though since it’s not X-relevant, I won’t talk about it. Regardless, he takes Dagger into himself, and she comes back out normal. But blind. I enjoy the issue. Austin does some good work with Jean, Bobby and Hank. He takes Hank’s stupidity maybe a bit too far, but it’s still fine. Jean ends up being the leader of the trio, which was cool to see. She’s seldom actually gotten to be a leader, but it makes sense to me that she would be an effective one. But of course, Scott was always the leader, and since they were a couple, it was always rare for her to be an X-Man without him. (There was a brief period where he was presumed dead, but she actually left the team to go searching for him.) If Adult Jean ever comes back, I’d like her to lead her own team of X-Men.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So Hulu is developing a Runaways TV series. That’s cool. I hope they do it justice. It’ll be great getting Nico and Karolina on-screen. Confession: I haven’t read the Runaways comics yet. I’ll get to it at some point. But there’s a lot of stuff I want to read. And holy carp! You know how I love Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? One of the supporting characters, Koi Boi, was revealed on Twitter as being trans! That’s awesome! Anyway, here’s comics.
All-New Wolverine #11, by Tom Taylor, Ig Guara, Walden Wong and Michael Garland. SHIELD agents are surrounding Laura’s apartment, and Hill’s on the phone saying Logan’s going to kill Gabby. Who rushes out of her room and runs into Captain Steverica, and Gabby is wonderful.
Steve wants Logan to let himself be detained until the danger from Ulysses’ vision is past. Laura refuses to let Steve take Logan, so it’s a fight! Between Laura and Steve, which is sadly brief. I’d love to see a full fight between those two. And then a chase! Gabby still has the SHIELD jetpacks from the Fin Fang Foom adventure, but there’s no exit, so Logan claws through walls, passing through people’s apartments. It’s really fun. And then it all leads to a very shocking and concerning ending. The first half of the issue is really fun. There is some tension, with the CWII stuff, the vision and all. But there’s also Gabby interacting with Steve, and it’s as delightful as Gabby doing anything.
Then the last chunk of the issue, after Logan gets shot out of the sky, gets a lot more intense, including a cliffhanger that I am desperately hoping won’t be what it seems. The Ulysses stuff is used in an interesting way here. It seems that, in this case, the vision was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The vision happened because they tried to stop it from happening. That’s a bit different from how his visions work in CWII itself. Though this isn’t the only book that plays with that idea – A-Force’s current arc seems to be leaning that way, as well. The art is mostly fine. A bit odd at times. I miss Lopez. And even without Lopez, Guara’s not the artist I’d like to see on here. He’s not great. He’s OK. But there are weird moments, and facial expressions don’t always seem quite appropriate. So, yeah, the art does drag the issue down slightly, though for the most part, Guara does an acceptable job with the visual storytelling. The colours are solid, at least, so Garland’s fine. I have no problem with Garland staying on the book as colour artist.
Civil War II X-Men #3, by Cullen Bunn, Andrea Broccardo and Jesus Aburtov. We start with Rachel Grey! She’s in London! I hope that means she’s been hanging out with Captain Britain and Meggan. I’m going to assume she’s been hanging out with them. Magneto meets with her, and they discuss the state of mutants. Rachel’s been keeping a low profile since What Cyclops Did (shut up, comics, just tell us what he did), staying away from the X-Men. Magneto wants her back in the game. In new York, Storm and Medusa meet. Two badass queens. Medusa’s not happy about mutants infiltrating Attilan, but Storm explains why she sent in Gambit, and asks that the X-Men be allowed to deal with Medusa. Medusa is haughty, which is a mistake. Because as soon as you make it a contest of dramatic speeches, Storm will destroy your ass. Doom himself would be hard-pressed to deliver a more regal speech than Storm. Because Storm comes with her own dramatic lightning. Medusa quickly realizes her mistake and tones it down. Meanwhile, Gambit and Fantomex flirt. I really want a reveal that they’ve slept together in the past. Or have them sleep together in the present, either way. It just feels like these two should have sex at some point, you know? This issue’s OK. There’s some reasonably interesting stuff. But to an extent, it feels like a bit of a bridge issue. I do love that Rachel’s back, because Rachel’s awesome. The scene between Storm and Medusa is cool, with the two playing off each other in a logical and effective manner. They’re both leaders, both queens, and they both want peace. They really do have a lot in common, with the notable difference that Storm has never supported keeping a slave race. (Nope, not something I ever plan on letting go. The Inhumans kept a slave race.) But there’s not a whole lot really going on in this issue. The plot isn’t developed that much. The art, likewise, is pretty well forgettable. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just kinda . . . there. It does what it’s supposed to it, it tells the story effectively, it just doesn’t really stand out. This issue does feel like a bit of a step down from the previous two, though that’s hardly uncommon, and most arcs end up being like that. At the very least, there’s nothing really to complain about.
Ultimates #10, by Al Ewing, Kenneth Rocafort, Djibril Morissette and Dan Brown. Thanos has psychically projected himself into Anti-Man’s cell, and is manipulating him. Then, Carol, with the Ultimates and Inhumans as back-up, arrests Alison Green. We saw this scene in CWII #4, with no dialogue. Here, it’s expanded upon. Adam and Monica discuss Ulysses a bit, and Adam’s doubts about Ulysses. T’Challa and America also have reservations about where things are going. We check-in with Vogt, and another of his Troubleshooters, Kathy Ling. In the Newuniverse, she was part of Psi-Force, with telekinesis. She was an angry type. We get no insight into this version’s personality yet. The Ultimates gather to discuss the empty briefcase, and America’s seen enough and decides it’s time to shut down the Ultimates. And I’ve gotta say, her plan for Monica? Pure genius. This issue’s great. The debate among the team is really interesting, providing great insight into each character. But mostly, this issue is about America. And the fact that she’s an absolute badass. I’ve seen quite a few people refer to America as a “hot-headed Latina,” in a dismissive way. This issue actually provides a perfect demonstration of how wrong that is. At no point here does she actually lose her temper. She is in complete control of herself the whole time. She makes a conscious decision to smack Carol with a chair (and then a table). Because that’s the thing about America: Control is a big deal to her. She’s not an angry person. Grumpy, yes, but not angry. So I love the way Ewing and Rocafort capture that sense of control. I just love this comic. I want a Ms. America solo so bad.
Mockingbird #6, by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons and Rachelle Rosenberg. Bobbi’s on a nerd cruise! She got a ticket with a mysterious note, and even though she knows it’s probably a trap, she wants to get away from Hawkguy’s trial. A nerd cruise isn’t the best place for that, it turns out. On the ship, she gets another note, to meet someone in the Grand Ballroom. She gets there early, to play A Fantasy Board Game. She seems to be pretty good. She follows her contact out of the ballroom, and a horde of corgis run past. Hunter is there! For the Annual Royal Society of Corgi Enthusiasts Retreat. The issue gets stranger and more glorious from there. There’s a lot of emotional weight, with Bobbi dealing with her feelings about Clint’s murder trial. There’s also corgis running around, and a maker faire, a naked Hunter with a dolphin covering his junk. It’s great. This is so much fun. Cain’s clearly having a blast writing Bobbi, and the art team has a blast drawing whatever Cain comes up with. It’s great. It’s hilarious and just good fun.
Power Man & Iron Fist #7, by David Walker, Flaviano, Sanford Greene and John Rauch. Danny’s in jail, and Misty visits him, then she visits Luke, who doesn’t want to let Danny rot in prison. Jessica calls Luke to let him know they’re definitely being staked out, and that she’s investigating them, with the help of Colleen Wing, and two former Sons of the Tiger. In prison, Danny is worried about the guys who don’t belong there, and who’s hunting them. In Luke’s apartment, one of the people who’d hired him has fixed a dropped tablet that runs a program to access the criminal records of people it scans. There’s other stuff going on with each of the pair. Jessica and Luke have a really nice conversation on the phone where she tries to make him think clearly and not do something stupid. It’s a great scene. And a great issue. This is a lot more dramatic, as most of the CWII tie-ins have been. This issue doesn’t have much to do with CWII itself until the end, but it’s still got a more serious tone. And Walker does a great job with it. There’s a couple moments of racial commentary, but mostly, it’s character exploration. Exploring why Danny isn’t making a greater effort to contest his imprisonment, and how Luke reacts to his best friend being in jail, and how Jessica tries to stop Luke from reacting. It’s a lot of great stuff. The art is good. It’s still a style that works well for the book. Greene and Rauch do fantastic work setting tones, using lights and shadows effectively. Flaviano’s pages aren’t so different from Green that it’s jarring. This is a great issue.
The Wicked + The Divine #22, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. Shit’s gone crazy in a spectacular fashion. Woden is an ass, and he can’t even do the right thing without being awful. Cassandra is the adult in the battlefield. Ananke is too good for the gods. Laura wonders what her sister would have wanted. And hot damn, that moment. You’ll know the one I’m talking about. Trust me, you’ll know. Damn. OK, one hint: “KLLK.” This is one hell of an end to the arc, and has me excited to see what comes next. Call me paranoid, but I’m guessing it’s going to be horrible and tragic for everyone. In the meantime, the 1831 special! With art by Stephanie Hans!
Insexts #7, by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina, Jessica Kholinne and A Larger World. Horror. Monsters. Devouring. Not just the obvious, with Lady and the Hag, but the dialogue. The Hag is all about filling people with self-loathing. But this issue is about women being stronger than what society demands them to be. It’s really good. No sexiness in this issue. Just lots of horror, and lots of tragedy, and lots of hope. Bennett is a writer who’s more than willing to throw subtlety aside in favour of speaking to the audience. And I like that. I also love the art. Kholinne’s colours are pretty similar to Valenza’s, so the change there isn’t noticeable. And Kristantina kills on the lines, capturing horror and violence beautifully. I’ve been loving this series, and I look forward to the next arc.