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X-Men and Alpha Flight #1 (1985, December)

Today’s issue is chronologically misplaced! By Chris Claremont and Paul Smith, “The Gift: Part 1.”

The Gift: Part 1

That’s really the only way to stay warm in the Arctic.

A cargo plane is flying through rough weather, carrying a Canadian-American survey team. We get introduced to them: Paul, an engineer and architect who likes sketching fantasy-style buildings; his wife, Jeanne, who’s French; Mr. Decard, a botanist; Carla, a cook; Dr. Wilson, a specialist in the relationship between predator species, who hates mutants; Moreau, who has no real personality yet; Sam, the plane’s loadmaster, in the cargo hold. The guy talks about an Ursula K. LeGuin novel, The Lathe of Heaven. In it, a guy has dreams that alter reality, and another guy tries to use those dreams to make the world better, but keeps making things worse. The loadmaster reads a lot, and has started doing some writing of his own. Scott goes back up to the cockpit to rejoin Maddie.

She says she’s never seen such crazy weather, and Scott says he has, when Alpha Flight lured the X-Men to Calgary. Scott and Maddie try to figure out what Alpha Flight might want with them, but an engine catches fire, and the plane goes down.

In Westchester, Doug is flirting with some girls by pretending to be a dangerous mutant. Some jackass threatens to kick his ass. Illyana tells the guy to put Doug down, and then scares him shitless with just a look. Then Illyana and Doug teleport back to the school, and the Danger Room. Kitty’s setting up a program for the X-Men, when Rachel’s struck down by a psi-flash. She accidentally changes the scenario to her own time, and Sentinels. Also, there’s a hound there – Rachel, in fact, though the real Rachel is still cowering on the floor. The X-Men attack the Sentinels (Fastball Special Tracker: #16). Rogue gets smacked down, and Colossus catches her, but her skin makes contact with his, and she absorbs his power. This is the second time she’s absorbed his power while he was in steel form. Xavier’s in his study, and Kitty sends a psychic SOS to let him know what’s going on. Xavier goes into Rachel’s mind to stop it. Then he projects what hit her – the plane going down. And Scott stumbling out, on fire.

Out in Calgary, Shaman’s doing an examination on Walter. Walter’s worried about his increasing berserker rages when he turns to Sasquatch. Shaman leaves the room, and Aurora immediately hits on Walter. Hey, he’s already mostly-naked, so that’ll save time. Shaman goes to his office to talk to Heather, but they’re immediately interrupted by a weak and injured Snowbird mentioning Ungava Bay. Then Shaman’s attacked by Rachel, who wants to know why he attacked her father. She telekinetically throws his pouch, and Heather’s arm gets caught inside it. Aurora flies in, and Rachel reverts her to her Jeanne-Marie persona.

Rogue flies down to stop Rachel, but gets grabbed by Northstar. She kisses him to absorb his speed and knock him out. She also learns his “secrets.” Sasquatch rips open the wall, and Rachel’s prepared to kick his ass, too, but Xavier telepathically steps in, pulling her onto the astral plane. He chews her out all to hell. With the fighting stopped, the situation is explained, and Snowbird says the plane was hit by the same thing that’s taken her down. They agree to join forces to find out what’s happening.

Elsewhere, Loki is receiving an audience from They Who Sit Above In Shadow, the gods of the gods. He wants something, but he has to prove himself worthy.

The two teams are on an old plane, a DeHavilland Otter. There’s a fair bit of tension. In particular, Aurora wants to kill Rachel, and isn’t bothering to hide her thoughts. Rachel feels bad. Heather and Wolverine chat a bit about Alpha. Northstar and Rogue are scouting around. Northstar tries to get rid of her by speaking French, but Rogue speaks it, too. They talk a bit about her absorbing his memories, and their relative hardships. Then Northstar notices the bit straw she’s been chewing on. She found a field nearby, even though there shouldn’t be one that far north, in the winter. The plane lands on the field, in front of a massive cathedral. They’re greeted by Scott, now in full control of his powers, and able to flash his baby blues all he wants. Rachel wants to talk to him, but is also terrified. Scott asks who she is, and Xavier lies for her, and says she’s a new student.

Scott leads them all inside. Everyone else on the plane has been transformed the same way Scott has. Maddie now has healing powers, which she uses to heal Puck of his dwarfism. She mentions it being a “terrible curse” for Puck. I wish Claremont had left out that line, because it’s responsible for one of the dumber retcons of Mantlo’s awful Alpha Flight run, with Puck’s dwarfism being the result of a demon he’s holding inside his body. Anyway, he ends up being a normal height, and immediately falls over, since he’s not used to being tall. Maddie also heals Sasquatch of his rages, and Aurora of her split personality. Shaman notices they didn’t bring Snowbird in with them, and also that he’s felt a little off since he got there. Snowbird’s not in the plane, so Wolverine heads out to find her, joined by Wilson and Nick Rodriguez, who was another member of Maddie’s crew, the navigator. The others are taken to Carla to be fed and clothed. Maddie heals Rogue so she can control her power, and Northstar volunteers to let her test her control with him.

Xavier questions Scott some more about where they got their powers. He also does a mindscan on Scott and Maddie, and learns Maddie is pregnant. A son. That freaks Rachel out, and she runs away, followed by Kitty and Talisman (and Lockheed). The others are taken to see the source of the powers – a magic fountain. Heather walks into the fountain. She comes out, with the power to lead. Xavier’s suspicious of it.

Shaman’s medicine bag suddenly goes nuts. A bunch of demons rush out and attack him. Northstar and Aurora take the bag away, but Shaman’s badly injured, and Maddie can’t heal him.

This is pretty good. It’s an interesting story. It sets up an intriguing mystery. Rachel gets lots of focus, which is always good, as it explores her fears about her place in the world, especially as it relates to her father. There’s some decent character stuff with most of the others, too. Rogue and Northstar get a nice scene. The survey team are a bit generic, but there’s only so much space. This issue features a lot of set-up, and while it does that well, it does end up feeling a bit weak at times.
Smith’s art is great. He was always an excellent artist, and he does some very good work here. The magic fountain is actually really cool. It looks bright and magical. The fantasy-style clothes are a bit meh. I’m not a fan of that kind of fashion. It always looks a bit goofy to me. Especially big horns or wings or whatever on helmets.

Chronologically, this story takes place prior to Alpha Flight #23 (when Snowbird realized she’d have to kill Sasquatch), and during the timeskip in Uncanny X-Men #192 (prior to Xavier getting beaten nearly to death by some human students).

Overall, this first part of the story isn’t really great. It’s good, but not great.

Song of the day: Our House by the Corner Laughers.



X-Men comics for April 22 2015

I got the reviews up! Hurrah!

All-New X-Men #40, by Brian Bendis and Mahmud Asrar. Some guys are going to the wreckage of Utopia, to salvage what they can to sell on the black market. They’re attacked. Back at the NXS, the O5 are happy to be back on Earth. Angel is still in his Black Vortex upgrade state, which might actually make him useful. Illyana pops in with burgers, making Scott very very happy. She goes to take care of some stuff, and Bobby makes a dumb joke about her hotness. This leads to the scene you’ve all already read in its entirety online, with Jean getting Bobby to admit he’s gay. I have to say, I love her just gesturing for him to get what she’s saying. I also love when he points out his older self dated Kitty, and Jean points out she’s no longer on the planet Earth. I don’t know if that says anything about his sexuality, but it says a lot about how damned annoying he must be to date. On the SHIELD Helicarrier, Hill is told about a situation on Utopia. Possibly mutant-related. She immediately and repeatedly headdesks. I love Hill. Warren goes flying with Laura, and tries to find out what her problem with him is. He tells her that he just wanted to take a chance to make himself different from what turns out to him. He also tells her he loves her. Aww. This is fairly interesting. The issue is mostly downtime, to give everyone a chance to rewind after the big cosmic stuff. I always enjoy downtime issues. The two biggest scenes are Bobby coming out as gay, and Angel explaining why he submitted to the Black Vortex. They’re good scenes. The Utopian plot set up here seems like it might be interesting. It’s an interesting set of characters, though I won’t spoil who, except to say that Random is there. I’m spoiling that just because I’m pretty sure no one remembers Random, and will now look him up and be like, “Oh yeah! That guy!” Regardless, I’m interested in seeing where this story goes. Bendis does a good job with both major scenes. Bobby being gay has generated some controversy. My own view: I’m fine with it. It’ll be interesting to see it explored in more detail. I’ll admit that I never got the gay vibe so many people got from Iceman, but on the other hand, I never gave a damn about Iceman. This does certainly put a different spin on some earlier stories. And it’s always nice to see more LGBT representation, especially among more prominent characters. On the other hand, I do agree with the people annoyed at the bi erasure in the scene. Bobby says he might be bi, and Jean says she’s pretty sure he’s not, and he says she’s right. The idea of bisexuality is brought up, and then immediately dismissed. This is a problem. Or, I suppose, it will be a problem if it’s left at that. If it’s something that continues to be explored, then OK. (On a side note, one of the Utopians is also an LGBT character. I expect that won’t actually come up at all, but I’d love to be wrong.)

Amazing X-Men #19, by Chris Yost and Jorge Fornes. Colossus and Juggernaut. Juggernaut – Cain Marko, once again – says he’s been given enough power to kill Cyttorak, but first, he wants to kill Cyclops. The X-Men say they can’t let him do that, and Juggernaut invites them to stop him. They get his helmet off, but Rachel still can’t get into his mind. He’s truly unstoppable now. Doesn’t stop Colossus from giving it a try. After failing to hurt him with strength, Colossus finally, after years of fighting this same fight, to learn not to get hit any more. He topples Juggernaut (and himself) off a cliff, instead. This is a good issue. A good finale to the arc. There’s some good reflections on Cyttorak, Marko, Colossus and Xavier, and some good scenes between Colossus and Juggernaut. Also, Colossus finally starts to not be kind of an idiot. He uses his brains, for once. The art is great. It gives a good sense of the Juggernaut’s power, and of the tension of the scene. It’s a good comic, and now Amazing X-Men is over. I’m really, really curious to see what the X-Men franchise is going to look like after Secret Wars, because basically every X-title has ended at this point.

Wolverines #15, by Ray Fawkes and Juan Doe. First off, I want to point out that, even though Nick Bradshaw only did the art for, like, one issue of this series, the recap pages still uses his art for the character portraits. It’s annoying, because Bradshaw sucks. Anyway, Daken tells Siphon to let Laura go, to get back to their duel. Laura frees herself with a foot claw. Daken goes back on the attack, and gets his ankle broken. And then goes back to the fight some more. On the Changeling, Shogun wants to know why Mystique wants Portal. Mystique says she has a plan that’ll solve all their problems, but she wasn’t sure they’d buy into it if she told them about it. Back at the fight, Laura is trying to be reasonable, around three crazy killer men. She tells Daken that she’s just like Siphon, designed only to kill, and she has to constantly fight her programming. Daken backs down. Then the Changeling shows up to take Siphon into custody. This is another OK issue, but nothing spectacular. One of the better issues of this series, but this has been a pretty middling series, so that’s not saying much. Laura gets a good showing here, showing some compassion and intelligence. The art is OK. It’s not great. Doe’s style is an odd one. Weird bodies and faces and everything. It just doesn’t work for me. At least not for this book. I actually might like it on some different books. Tough to tell. Oh well.

That’s the X-titles. Here’s a couple other books.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. The issue starts with Galactus defeated by Squirrel Girl, and immediately cuts to the letters page. One letter suggests a Squirrel Island Secret Wars title. I guess it’s too late for that, but I love the idea. Squirrel versions of famous characters. Yes. The letter included sketches of Squirrel Iron Fist, and Squirrel-Man 2099. Yes. Yes yes yes. Another letter asks how to join Mew Club. Apparently, you write on a piece of paper, “Mew is a great cat.” Suffice to say, I am now an official member of Mew Club. Anyway, since they couldn’t actually end the comic there, Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe decide to go over how they beat Galactus. The important bits: You can’t eat nuts in space without a special helmet. Galactus can understand squirrel-ese. Galactus thinks Thanos is a tool. He likes Squirrel Girl, but still has to eat the Earth. SG and TT slip into his ship, and try to guess his computer password. She figures out Galactus’ secret: He goes to Earth because he knows Earth will always find him a planet to eat with no life. She tells him she found a planet covered in nuts. Yes, nuts. This comic is awesome. It’s so much fun. Totes adorbz. Galactus is actually a pretty cool dude. The writing is hilarious, and the art is super-cute, and the whole thing is just so much fun. It’s great, you guys. I love it. You should also love it. What’s not to love? It’s totally lovable. Also, I always like when a superhero resolves a conflict without fighting. Squirrel Girl is a very positive comic, in that respect, and I very much approve of it.

Black Vortex Omega, by Sam Humphries, Ed McGuinness and Javier Garron. Cosmic Kitty gives a quick recap of the situation. She’s . . . very, very cosmic. Like, “transcended the multiverse” (her words) cosmic. Ronan shows up at Spartax to fight the Slaughter Lords. The planet phases, just before the Brood can implant their eggs. Kitty’s still an X-Man, dammit, so last-moment saves are still part of the job description. She resisted the lure of cosmic power to go back and do what she took the power to do in the first place. With the day saved, the time comes to decide what to do about the Vortex. Gara tells she’ll give everyone who submitted to the Vortex a chance to back out of it. Iceman, Groot and Scott all agree to be changed back. Gamora and Angel decline. Adult Beast admits he’s done some bad shit, and that he has to return to normal to face the consequences. Iceman and Groot get fancy new looks. Beast and Scott look the way they did before they submitted. Kitty keeps her cosmic power, too. So now Kitty’s a powerhouse. Riiiiight in time for Secret Wars. I think whether Kitty keeps the power after that will depend on whether or not Star-Lord’s series is still going. If it is, she’ll still be cosmic-powered. If not, she’ll probably be back to normal. The ending is pretty cute, though again, any lasting consequences will depend on whether Star-Lord is still going after Secret Wars. The writing on the issue is pretty decent. The art is good, throughout the issue. Still, while it’s a solid finale, it doesn’t elevate the event beyond “meh.”

Pull list for April 22 2015

I work today, until 11. Reviews tomorrow, most likely.

I picked up: All-New X-Men #40, by Brian Bendis and Mahmud Asrar; My Little Pony Fiendship Is Magic #4, by Heather Nuhfer and Tony Fleecs; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.

I’ll also review: Amazing X-Men #19, by Chris Yost and Jorge Fornes; Black Vortex Omega, by Sam Humphries and Ed McGuinness; Wolverines #15, by Ray Fawkes and Ario Anindito.

So that’s 3 comics I’m picking up, and 5 reviews. This is an insanely light week, actually.

I’m most excited for Squirrel Girl. Because it’s Squirrel Girl vs. Galactus. How can that not be something you want to see? You’d have to hate fun. And I happen to like fun, so I’m excited. Also, a pretty major revelation from ANXM has been leaked. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that it confirms something fans have been speculating about for soooo many years.

July solicits are out. There’s some pretty great stuff. Ms. Marvel finally gets to meet Captain Marvel! Hurrah! And the cover is awesome. Magneto will have a guest appearance from Polaris, which is nice. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are no longer related to him, but at least Polaris is still his daughter. Siege looks amazing. I love everything about it. I love Kieron Gillen as a writer, and Felipe Andrade as an artist. I love Agent Brand, and Miss America, and Kate Bishop, and Leah, and the Endless Summers.  I am going to love this book. Sadly, it’s Gillen’s last new Marvel project for a while. I think he’s sticking around on Angela, and Darth Vader, but he won’t be taking on anything new. Very sad.

Age of Apocalypse should be fun. I did like Nicieza’s X-work in the ’90s, I liked the original Age of Apocalypse. I don’t like Sandoval’s art, but oh well. 1602 Angela will have the 1602 Guardians of the Galaxy show up. Stephanie Hans draws them real pretty on the cover. Mighty Defenders looks great, and I love the diversity in the cast. A-Force is going to fight the Thor Corps, which should be a lot of fun. I’m on the fence about Future Imperfect. On the one hand, it’s Peter David writing the Maestro, Layla Miller and Ruby Summers (and more). On the other hand, frigging Greg Land. I may have to skip that book, just because I really don’t want to support Greg Land. Years of Future Past will have a giant Lockheed fighting Sentinels. Yes.

I’m on the fence about Old Man Logan. I hate Wolverine, but damn, Andrea Sorrentino does gorgeous work. MODOK Assassin has MODOK fall in love with Angela, which I approve of. Squirrel Girl vs. Girl Squirrel. Also, the Avengers. And Ratatoskr, Norse god of squirrels. SHIELD #8 will have Mockingbird’s first appearance since the previous volume of Secret Avengers ended. It’s weird that it’s taken so long for her to show up again, given how popular Bobbi is on Agents of SHIELD.

My pull list for July will be: Giant-Size Little Marvel #2, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7, X-Tinction Agenda #2, Ghost Racers #2, Ms. Marvel #17, Secret Wars 2099 #3, Siege #1, Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1, Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps #2, Silver Surfer #14, A-Force #3, E Is for Extinction #2, Loki: Agent of Asgard #16, Silk #6, 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #2, Age of Apocalypse #2, Siege #2. 17 comics. And there’s a few others I’m on the fence about, too. It’s possible July may end up hurting.

I went to a “pop event” – really, a geek market – on Saturday. It was . . . not great, really. Not worth $18 for admittance. It is mostly a geek market, so most of what’s there is collectibles. Old comics, old toys, old video games, old everything. I’m not a collector, so none of it really appealed that much to me. I bought a copy of Captain Canuck Legacy #1, signed by the creator, Richard Comely. Because why not. I actually haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I also bought a couple prints by Isabelle Angell. The first two pictures here are by her.

I'm not actually sure what this is, but it's cute

I’m not actually sure what this is, but it’s cute

Raccoons are cute.

Raccoons are cute.

It’s too small to see in this picture, but the text says, “Raccoons: The Ninja Animal That Eats From Dumpsters.” I thought that was cute.

Cool robo-dog!

Cool robo-dog!

Deadpool knows how to fight zombies.

Deadpool knows how to fight zombies.

A local martial arts school had a little area set up with the idea of teaching kids how to fight zombies. They’d bring in kids, and show them a few basic things, obviously trying to get them interested in learning martial arts. The guy in a Deadpool costume just happened to be watching at one point, setting up a pretty decent photo, I thought.

It's R2!

It’s R2!

I don't know. I don't want to know.

I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

There were a few people wearing costumes. These ranged from the standard – Deadpool, Spider-Man, Black Cat, Superman, Movie Wolverine, some Ghostbusters, a Darth Vader – to the horrifying – whatever the hell is in the above photo. Seriously, that is nightmare stuff.

I won another book. The Caloris Rim Project, by Glenn P. MacDonald. Some sci-fi book. Written by a Canadian, so that’s nice. I’ve still got plenty more books to get through first, of course. That puts me now at 15 books won since I joined Goodreads in July. One of them, I never received. And, in addition to the new one, there are two others I’m still waiting on in the mail, and another one I’ve received but haven’t started yet. (It’ll be my June book.)

I have a job interview on Friday! For the job I applied for in the Yukon. It’s a phone interview, at 12:30. I’m really excited. The idea of moving to the Yukon is pretty scary, but it’s also exciting. I’ll need to do some research before then. Tomorrow, I guess.

My schedule for the week: I work 2:30-11 today, 2:30-10:30 Friday, 7-11 Saturday, 6:30-11 Sunday, 11:30-8 Monday, 7-11 Tuesday. So I have no idea if I’ll get any posts up. I’ll probably have to do my reviews tomorrow, but if I can get them up tonight after work, then I’ll have a normal post tomorrow. I may do posts Saturday and Tuesday. My next pull list will be Monday.

That’s it for this week.

X-Men Annual #9 (1985, December)

Part 2 of the Asgard Adventures! By Claremont and Adams, “There’s No Place Like Home.”

There's No Place Like Home

She would make a pretty awesome goddess.

The X-Men are awoken by a loud scream. It’s KItty, screaming in agony from a nightmare. Rachel goes into her head to help her. It’s psychic images, a message from Illyana. The link between Kitty and Illyana never really has been explained. Another reason they should get their own title! Crazy adventures and exploring the exact nature of their bond! Get on it, Marvel! Anyway, the X-Men recognize some of the images as distinctly Asgardian. They remember Loki’s promise to pay his debt, and figure he’s struck through the Mutants. They get ready to go. They can’t contact Thor, leaving them on their own. Scott uses some of Arkon’s lightning bolts, left behind from waaaaaay back in X-Men Annual #3. Rachel finally reveals her new costume, with a phoenix symbol. It’s actually not a bad costume. Not a great one, but not her worst. Which isn’t saying much, because man, Rachel has had some bad costumes over the years.

In what is very clearly a dream sequence, the Mutants are hanging out around Xavier’s school. Amara shapes some molten rock into a faery form, Bobby talks about wanting to live a normal life, Dani fears she won’t be good enough as team leader, Doug worries that he has no reason to be at the school, and Illyana says she feels incomplete without access to her magics. They all want something that can’t be found on Earth. Bobby says they can find it all on Asgard. Amara realizes it’s not a memory, and gets scared, and wakes up.

Eitri, with Amara’s help, finishes forging the hamemr Loki wanted. Eitri tells them to bring the hammer to Loki’s throne room, so they can confront him there. Eitri gives Sam some invulnerable armour and a sword that will cut anything that doesn’t live.

The X-Men arrive in Asgard, all of them laying on the ground, except Rachel. Somehow, she’s still on her feet. They see a wolf being attacked by some trolls, and Wolverine immediately runs to the wolf’s aid. The X-Men beat the hunters. It’s Rahne’s wolf prince, though they don’t know that. Hela shows up, hoping to claim the prince’s soul, but instead has to take those of the hunters. Hela greets Rachel, and says she hopes Rachel turns out to be just like her mom. She also calls Rachel “child of light and darkness.”

Meanwhile, Warlock is following Falcon Storm, while the other Mutants are back at the Enchantress’ castle. Doug is translating the Enchantress’ mystical books. Warlock gets shot by an arrow from Loki, so Dani and Doug head out on Brightwind to help him. Illyana’s acting like a total bitch. Loki helps Storm transform back to human, and asks if she likes Asgard. She says she loves it.

Back in the forest, Rachel lets everyone know what the wolf-prince is thinking. He’s looking for Rahne. Scott tells Wolverine, Kitty and Rachel to do some recon in Asgard, while the rest of the team stays with the prince until he’s fit for travel. Rogue and Rachel find some clothes for a disguise. They’re, uh, not very concealing.

Bobby is being asked which maiden he loves best, and he doesn’t want to choose. Dani goes in to retrieve him, which scares the maidens, and a guy hits on her, until other guys drag him back, telling him to let her have Bobby. Dani, Doug and Bobby find Warlock, injured. When he sees Dani, he freaks out in panic and attacks and runs away.

The other X-Men reach the Enchantress’ castle, where Rahne and her prince are happy to be reunited, and Shan lets the X-Men know she’s alive and well. They go in to see Illyana, who says she’s found a locator spell they can use to retrieve Storm. Before she can use it, Loki takes them all out.

Warlock’s dying, too low on energy and with nothing around to absorb. Doug offers to let Warlock take some of his energy. Sam and Amara reach the city, and Amara wants to go back to the forest. The recon team finds them. The X-Men are chained up, left to be corrupted by Illyana’s dark soul. He sends rock trolls to get the remaining X-Men. Rahne and the prince, with slave collars, are sent with the trolls. I think the prince starts banging Rahne. Seriously, it looks like he’s taking her from behind. It’s weird. Anyway, Nightcrawler teleports out of his chains, wraps his tail around Scott’s face, and kisses Rogue’s cheek. This lets her absorb both powers, somehow. I don’t know if it’s ever worked that way since then. Rogue attacks Loki, ready to kill him, but Storm interrupts. She sees Rogue as some sort of sexy succubus-type thing. Rogue’s distracted long enough for Loki to chain her up again.

Dani and Bobby get a psi-call from Rachel to join the others. When she lands, Dani sees a spirit-skull over Wolverine’s head. The ground collapses, dropping them into tunnels, where the trolls attack them. Wolverine gets bitten by some reptilian thing, injecting poison into him. Sam cuts off Rahne’s slave collar, freeing her, and the Enterprise arrives to help out. The trolls flee, with Amara as a prisoner. Kitty takes command, telling Wolverine to lead a team to Loki’s ceremony, while she leads another team to free the prisoners.

At the ceremony, Loki gives a pretty good speech about the Midgardians who fought back against Surtur’s forces. The X-Men are watching. The best is Warlock and Doug disguised as Hagar the Horrible. In the dungeon, Karma makes an attempt to possess Illyana. At the ceremony, Bobby is treating the upcoming fight as a game, and Wolverine chews him out, and tells him off for wanting glory.

In the dungeon, Sam smashes through the wall, but the others are gone, aside from Karma and Illyana laying unconscious. Colossus almost smashes Kitty and Rahne, but Scott blasts him from behind. Back at the ceremony, Loki presents Storm, and says she could take Thor’s place if he chooses to stay on Earth. The X-Men make their move, and Wolverine immediately collapses in pain. Way to contribute, Wolverine. Still, fight time! Loki summons some rock trolls to keep the X-Men busy, and presents the hammer to Storm. She takes it, and becomes the goddess of thunder. And gets a pretty bitchin’ costume out of it. Wolverine tries to snap her out of it, and she blasts him. Hela shows up to claim Wolverine’s soul, but Storm refuses to let her take it. Dani also shows up to say her nay. Hela finally tells Dani she’s a Valkyrie.

Doesn’t stop Dani from shooting an arrow at her. And Hela blasts her down. Storm attacks Hela, and Scott and Rachel shoot her from behind, and the other Valkryor are coming down, and Thor’s forces are at Hel’s gates, so Hela is forced to retreat so she can have more strength for her fight with Thor.

Loki comes out from the table he was hiding under, and Storm throws her hammer at him. He catches it and throws it back, and says he’s going to kill them all. Kitty gets all up in his face, saying that there’s a whole lot of mutants there, plus the Valkryor, and that he can’t stop them all, and someone’s going to get word to someone who can stop his plans. Loki’s actually impressed with her. It cuts away to Karnilla watching with amusement. She was the one who sent Illyana’s visions to Kitty, and helped the X-Men reach Asgard.

Loki agrees to let the X-Men leave, under one condition: All of them have to leave. If any choose to stay, they all stay. Also, any gifts or enchantments will stay behind – Sam’s magic armour will lose it’s magic, and Illyana will forget the spells she learned from the Enchantress’ books. He does let Karma keep her beauty. Mist steps in to tell Loki that he can’t keep Brightwind from Dani. He makes one last attempt to get Storm to stay. She makes the hammer destroy itself. He yells at her, but he’s actually very impressed. He sends the X-Men to Xavier and the Valkryor leave.

Once Loki’s alone, he laughs. He lost this particular game, but he’s got time to try again. He even thinks about maybe making Storm his queen, eventually.

An awesome second part. Claremont has a whole lot of balls being juggled here, but he manages it. He does some good work with both the X-Men and the New Mutants here. The story is low on action, but that’s fine, since it means more time for story and character stuff. That’s always good. For the most part, this story has no particular long-term consequences. Certainly, for the X-Men, this doesn’t end up meaning much. They all walk away basically unaffected by this story, and it’s seldom even referenced again. (An A+X story does have Storm’s hammer show up again. And Thorm – which is what I’m choosing to call Thor Storm – will probably show up in Thors.) For the New Mutants, the Asgardian Adventure ends up being relevant. The biggest consequence is to Dani. Her Valkyrie powers become plot-relevant routinely, as does Brightwind. On top of that, this issue is the first time Doug shares some energy with Warlock, which brings them closer together, turning Doug into Warlock’s Selfsoulfriend. And, of course, Karma is brought back into the fold, and back to looking normal. Yay for Karma! I really do love her. She’s such a great character. So underappreciated.

There are no other affects on an ongoing basis. But they do return to Asgard eventually, so we do see Rahne’s wolf prince again, and Eitri. Rahne’s prince, of course, also makes an appearance in the post-Messiah Complex X-Force, where he knocks her up. And then that storyline carried back over to PAD’s X-Factor.

The art here is better than in the New Mutants Special. Because there’s less action, and fewer crowd scenes, there’s less of the indistinct background characters that were distracting in the other book. This book has a different colourist, but there is still a little bit of the indistinct background character problem so that makes me think the problem there is with Adams. Regardless, Adams is definitely better at close-ups and dialogue scenes. His art works better here than in the slightly more action-filled New Mutants Special. Actually, it’s interesting that the X-Men half of the story had less action than the New Mutants side.

This two-parter was a great story. It’s certainly one of the biggest New Mutants stories. It’s not as big for an X-Men story, but it’s still a great one, and a very memorable one.

Song of the day: So American by Portgual. The Man.


New Mutants Special Edition #1 (1985, December)

For Asgard! By Claremont and Arthur Adams, “Home Is Where the Heart Is.”

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Bitchin’ wrap-around cover. For Asgard! Aaaaasgaaaaard!

Loki is watching his DVR of Surtur’s invasion of Earth, and the heroes fighting his forces. Specifically, Loki is watching Storm kicking ass and not being too terribly interested in names or bubblegum. He gets an idea to tempt her with the power of a goddess, and gets the Enchantress to help him. He also mentions that the X-Men recently screwed up, and that he’s forbidden to get revenge on them. He’s referencing the X-Men and Alpha Flight two-part special, which I’ll be reviewing soon. December 1985 was an insane month.

Meanwhile, Storm and the New Mutants are on the island of Kirinos. Storm brings Shan breakfast, but she doesn’t want it. She’s so fat and gross that she wants to die. The other Mutants are off having a picnic. Warlock, in a bikini, is mesmerized by the Mediterranean. Illyana tells him to change to gender-conforming clothes. He changes to giant denim shorts. Then he changes to a two-piece bikini while Doug and Illyana chat about how crazy Doug’s life has become. Dani and Rahne have sneaked away up the cliff, and Dani uses her illusions to throw an impromptu Danger Room session on the others. A sea monster and a rockslide.

The others are a bit angry at her. Bobby wants to know why they can’t just live normal lives. Dani says their lives are never going to be normal. Then the sky gets dark, and the Mutants rush back up to join Storm. Warlock flies up to investigate, but gets fries by lightning, and Illyana’s Soulsword starts acting up in a way that suggests sorcery or demons. Some warriors attack, and Storm recognizes their armour as Asgardian. They beat the Mutants up and take them hostage.

Loki puts Storm into a Crystal Chrysalis. The Mutants are in Enchantress’ hold, and she’s going to kill them all. Illyana teleports them away, but she hits some sort of barrier. The others are lost, and she’s still in the Enchantress’ dungeon. She’s magically held to a wall that saps her mystic strength.

Karma is in a desert. She’s alone, with nothing around her. She decides to lay down and die. Cypher appears in a dining hall, where the lord of the hall demands to know who he is. Another guy keeps pushing him, and Doug gets annoyed and pushes back. The lord decides to let Doug prove himself against someone closer to his size – a serving maid. Doug can’t even lift the sword he’s handed, so he’s reduced to the role of slave. Rahne is in a forest, being hunted by giants. Another wolf makes the giants fall over each other, to Rahne’s amusement. She’s attracted to him, and she follows him. Warlock is in a cave, and a dragon roars at him. Warlock decides to consume the dragon. He changes his appearance to look like Longshot – I suppose a little nod at the limited series being done by this book’s editor, Nocenti, and artist, Adams. Cute in-joke. It makes no sense in-story, but it’s still a cute joke. It turns out he’s in Hel, and he flees from Hela. She seems oddly amused by him.

Bobby’s in a bar, arm-wrestling. He uses his power to win, and the guy gets angry and accuses him of cheating. The guy grabs one of the maids at Bobby’s side, and Bobby smashes him through a wall. Bar fight! Which Bobby wins. The owner makes him bouncer, and the women flock to him. Magma is in a forest, with some gnomes and fairies and stuff. She drinks something they give her, and then gorges herself on food and drink, and then passes out as they declare her humanity is going to die. Sam is in a cave, and he’s found by some dwarfs. He asks for food and water, and they say he needs to pay. They hear a scream, and Sam flies off to find the woman. He saves her from some trolls, and gets her to safety, before passing out with a spear sticking out his back. Dani’s in a field, and she finds a winged horse, wrapped in barb wire, sinking in a bog. She helps it get free, just as some armed warriors on horseback arrive. They’re there to kill the horse. She refuses to let them, so a rider charges forward to spear her. She grabs it and uses his own momentum to flip him over. Then she brings up a spirit form of Hela to scare the riders off. One rider sees through it and throws his axe, but a woman on another winged horse catches the axe. She scares the shit out of the warriors, forcing them to leave. The woman, Mist, invites Dani to join her and her sisters at their place.

Enchantress is toying with Illyana, reducing her to infancy, then trying to make her a crone. The crone spell doesn’t work on her. Apparently, Illyana doesn’t age. Illyana refuses to join the Enchantress, so she pulls out Illyana’s Darkchild and gives it physical form. She also says that any damage the Darkchild takes will actually be reflected on Illyana.

Shan is still in the desert. She sees a sand demon threatening a young girl. She uses her possession power to drive the beast away, and the girl asks her to take care of her until they’re out of the desert. At the dining hall, Doug’s not happy. Worse, someone trips him, so he spills food on the lord, which earns him an imminent whipping. The Darkchild shows up to grab him first. The other warriors are being slaughtered, so Doug jumps out a window, right into Warlock’s waiting arms. They flee. In the forest, Rahne’s wolf friend takes a wolf-man form, and Rahne takes her transitional form. He’s a prince, and he starts making a move. She remembers her friends, and runs off to find them.

At the bar, the Warriors Three arrive for food and ale. Bobby mocks Volstagg’s weight, so Volstagg issues a challenge. Bobby’s test is to pick Volstagg up. Bobby strains hard, but does it. And pulls a muscle in the process. The Warriors Three are impressed, and decide to celebrate by showing him around town. Meanwhile, Bobby is unable to move. Sam is bed-ridden, and doesn’t like it. Soon enough, he’s able to get up to sit by a fire. He tells Eitri, the guy who took him in about what happened, and says that as soon as he’s well enough, he plans to find his friends and confront the Enchantress. The Eitri’s daughter, after pinching Sam’s butt, invites him to stay with them. Amara burns through the cave wall to attack, but she’s changed. Eitri takes Amara out with a fire extinguisher. Which is . . . interesting? I was unaware Asgard had fire extinguishers. Sam takes the others out with a table. Eitri says dwarf magic can’t return Amara to human, but can at least fix her mind.

Dani’s riding her new horse, Brightwind, beside some other women. She sees some riders on the ground, and decides to ask if they’ve seen any sign of the Mutants, but they run away as soon as they see her. Dani wants to know why, but doesn’t get an answer. Later, she overhears the others arguing about her, with the decision that she has to be one of them, and has to seal the deal in blood. Dani flees.

Shan is still in the desert. She’s lost a lot of the weight, but is still overweight. But she’s still keeping herself and the little girl alive. Bobby thinks Asgard’s a dream come true, but hates that the Mutants aren’t there to enjoy it with him. Illyana shows up for him, and encases him in magical armour that makes him a mindless slave to the Enchantress. At Eitri’s cave, Loki shows up with Storm. He uses a cloak to disguise her as a falcon, then goes in to talk to Eitri. Sam is trying to comfort Amara, who’s losing touch with her old life. Loki asks Eitri for a new magic hammer. Loki spots Sam and asks who he is. Eitri says he’s an idiot nephew whose mother slept with an Aesir, resulting in his height. Loki says he should kill him, but spares him, and forces Eitri to agree to make the hammer. After Loki leaves, Sam wonders if the falcon was Storm, and Eitri, out of spite towards Loki, promises to give Sam whatever help he needs.

Rahne hears the wolf prince howling. He asks what’s wrong, and he says he missed her, and asks her to stay with him. She runs away again, right to Illyana, who encases her in armour. Shan, once again svelte and sexy, finally finds the edge of the desert. I just have to point out that weight loss does not work that way. To lose the amount of weight she did, she would not have tight, toned skin. She would have tons of stretch marks, and plenty of folds of skin. She would need a significant amount of plastic surgery to get her skin to look semi-normal. The fact that her skin is so tight is actually something that takes me out of the story a bit. Using psychic powers to survive in a desert for months? Sure, I’ll accept that. But having no loose skin after losing what must have been hundreds of pounds? Nope! It’s the little details like that that always take a person out of a story. Anyway, Warlock and Doug fly down for a joyful reunion. The child is gone, and only a white string was left behind. Illyana shows up, and explains that the string Shan has is a sign of the Norns. She’s there to take Shan, Doug and Warlock as the Enchantress’ slave. Shan refuses to be a slave, and draws her sword. Hell yeah, she looks badass with a sword. Sam and Amara join the fight, followed by Dani. Sam and Amara get captured by Illyana, but Warlock and Doug save Shan. Also, Claremont has Illyana saying “wherefore” to mean “where.” You’re a professional writer, Chris. “Wherefore” is “why.” Enchantress, watching the fight, sees Dani riding a winged horse, and realizes she’s a Valkyrie. Shan tries to possess Illyana, which blows up the Enchantress’ TV.

The next morning, the Enchantress is woken to find her forces have returned triumphant. She goes out to inspect her new slaves, but they were faking it. Shan, by the way, has switched to a spear. Enchantress flees while the Mutants fight her mobs. Dani thins the herd a bit by summoning a pretty damned awesome illusion of a giant, angry, burning Odin bursting out of the ground. It’s pretty impressive. Shan is still possessing the Darkchild, which is taking all her strength. She wonders how Illyana endures her own evil side. On the stairs down to the dungeon, a pair of guards attack. The Darkchild takes out one, and Shan damned near kills the second with her sword. At the bottom of the stairs, she finds Illyana in really bad shape. Illyana has her two halves restored, which heals her. The Enchantress prepares to kill her, but the Mutants stop her. Dani distracts her with an illusion of Surtur, which gives Shan a chance to possess her, long enough to make her remove the wards preventing teleporting.

To Limbo! Where the Enchantress is now in Illyana’s power. She leaves the Enchantress in S’ym’s mercy – no physical harm allowed, but beyond that, fair game. Now, they have to decide what to do next. Storm is still Loki’s prisoner, so they have to save her. Illyana suggests going home and getting the X-Men, but Bobby says they can handle it, and that he doesn’t want to go home anyway. Dani doesn’t want to leave Brightwind behind, Rahne wants to see her wolf prince again, Amara can’t go back anyway, and Shan wants to know why the Norns were interested in her.

This is such a great issue. So much fun, so much drama, so much action, so much everything. It helps that it’s 64 pages – nearly three times the size of normal comics of the time, which were 22 pages. Claremont uses the extra space well. It lets him spread the story out, but he still doesn’t waste any space. He can do all the vignettes showing what each character is up to, which would probably end up being too much if spread throughout three issues, and those vignettes are probably the best part of the comic. It’s straight character work, with Shan being forced to overcome her despair at what happened to her, Bobby enjoying the benefits of Asgard making him more powerful, Dani being welcomed by the Valkryor, Rahne’s first real love, and the stuff happening to the others. It’s all really cool, interesting stuff. Rahne falling in love happens fast – like, as soon as she meets the guy – but it’s sweet, and it’s how teenagers fall in love, so it’s fine. It’s cute.

It is kind of a shame we don’t get to see Shan really doing any fighting. She looks awesome with the sword, it would’ve been fun to see her kick some ass with it. This issue does also see Doug and Warlock getting a bit closer, as Warlock forms power armour around Doug so they can work together to kick ass. Speaking of Warlock, Adams did a great job with him. He really used Warlock’s shapeshifting in fun ways. I think my favourite is Warlock pointing, and his finger has his face, screaming, while his normal face tells everyone Illyana’s there. It’s just cute, the way his finger screams.

Speaking of Adams, he did a good job in general. There are a lot of panels that are lacking in detail, which is a bit disappointing, but for the most part, it looks great. He does a solid job with facial expressions, and he does a few great action panels. He does better with quieter scenes than with more action-oriented ones. The more he has to draw, the less detail there is. It ends up being distracting. The colouring doesn’t help – background characters don’t have colour at all. They’re basically blue. That’s what’s really a problem. It’s not Adams’ fault, but it hurts the book.

Still! That aside, this is a fantastic comic. It’s one of the most well-regarded New Mutants stories, and it deserves the love it gets. It really is a great read.

Song of the day: All This Time by the Heartless Bastards.


X-Men comics for April 15 2015

All right, here are my reviews.

Uncanny X-Men #33, by Brian Bendis and kris Anka. Kitty’s angry at Illyana teleporting her away, and Illyana says she needed to get away before doing something she’d regret. So she took Kitty to Monster Island. Kitty refuses to fight monsters just because Illyana’s in a mood, but Illyana – who is fighting monsters – says there’s a mutant there. Kitty jokes she thought Illyana had brought her out there to kill her, and Illyana says jokes like that actually hurt her. They find the mutant, a small girl named Bo. It’s a really sweet issue. Kitty and Illyana are always good together. Bendis writes my favourite version of Illyana ever. He gives her a lot of humanity. Her saying that Kitty’s jokes hurt was a nice touch. And I love the way, over the course of the issue, Kitty and Illyana grow closer again. The relationship is mostly driven here by Illyana, as Kitty almost seems to be getting a lesson about who Illyana is. The stuff with Bo is also really nice. It maybe takes up a bit too much of the issue – I would’ve liked more of Kitty and Illyana talking, but then, I want an entire series about those two going on crazy adventures, so this issue was never going to have enough of that. Anka’s art is mostly great, though there are a couple panels where Illyana looks weird. Still, he does some nice expressions, and some fun action when Illyana fights monsters. This is a really good issue. It’s just a one-off, but it’s a good one. Next up, of course, is Bendis’ finale. I’m excited to see what he does with it.

Spider-Man and the X-Men #5, by Elliot Kalan and Marco Failla. Fight. Deathbird and the Brood, wearing symbiotes. Spider-Man tells Firestar that the symbiotes can’t stand heat. Because it’s not like she hasn’t fought a symbiote before *coughMaximumCarnagecough*. They flee, and Rachel goes back to making accusations against Spider-Man, because Rachel is just an unbearable bitch in this book. Beast, Spider-Man and the kids rush through the portal back to the Peak, and fight more Brood. Rockslide shuts down the portal to prevent the Brood getting through. Beast fights a symbiote-possessed Brand, so Spider-Man and the kids run off to find Deathbird, who has a lot of symbiotes with her. Spider-Man puts on one of the symbiotes while No-Girl protests his mind. Spider-Man manages to get through to Deathbird by reminding her of her baby, since she is still pregnant. Meh. Meeeeh. There’s a few good jokes here and there, but meeeeeeeeeeh. The story is weak, the characterization even weaker. This is better than the previous issues, but it still suffers from the need to try to make everything a joke. This book is just lame. The art is OK. Nothing special.

Magneto #17, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta. Briar wonders why Magneto isn’t looking for the killer, and Magneto says he needs to show the people that their leader is there for him. Briar guesses he thinks the killer might be among them, which leads to Magneto having a flashback. He, Magda and some others escaped a camp, and the Nazis followed. In the present, a Nazi is killing a mutant, and Magneto finds him. It’s the same Nazi Magneto asked Wolverine to kill, obviously. Magneto realizes it’s not the Nazi, it’s a monster from inside Magneto himself. The way Magneto deals with it is . . . very Magneto-like. Sadly so, really. This is another well-written issue. Another very dark issue, with lots of melodramatic narration and dialogue. Dark and melodramatic defines this series. Too melodramatic, really, which is what continues to turn me off it. I also still think we need a lighter issue, with some more humour, just to give a reprieve from the constant hammering of darkness. Walta’s art still isn’t my preferred style. It works fairly well for the book, I just don’t find it aesthetically pleasant.

Wolverines #14, by Ray Fawkes and Salvador Larroca. Mystique is ready to start pulling her plans together. Daken gets a call letting him know where Siphon is. Part of Mystique’s plan. She also calls Laura to get her to join Daken in going after Siphon. They both jump out of the plane, then Daken steals a truck. They drive all night until they get where they’re going. They find Siphon – and Blade. Back on the plane, Mystique is attacked by Portal. Back in the fight shed, Daken duels with Siphon. As usual, this series bores me. I’m glad we’re back to some actual frigging plot, after five straight issue of filler. But the main plot in this issue is really thin. Mostly, the issue is about Daken being all angsty about his healing factor. “He took my healing factor! I have to kill him! I’m angry! Rar!” Meh. Whatever, you whiny little bitch. I hate Daken. Larroca’s art is the same as it usually is. It’s not bad, but neither is it actually all that great.

That’s the X-stuff, here’s a couple more books.

Ms. Marvel #14, by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa. Kamala’s surprised to learn her crush is an Inhuman. Tehy all go home, and that night, Kamran gets Kamala to sneak out of her room to hang out with him. They sit on top of a water tower and look at the city. He shows off his power – in addition to glowing, he can charge stuff and make it explode. He’s Muslim Gambit. But cuter. And without an annoying accent. Kamala says it’s like Kaboom, and starts to feel really bad about that. Kamran tells her not to. They’re about to kiss, but a security guard shows up. The next morning, Aamir is dressed up for a job interview, and Kamala looks tired from staying up too late. Kamran shows up and offers a ride to Kamala and Bruno. Bruno declines, and he and Aamir talk, with Aamir saying Bruno and Kamala were never going to happen. Meanwhile, Kamran isn’t taking Kamala to school at all. He wants her to meet someone, and gives a spiel about being better than regular people. Poor Kamala. It took exactly one day for Kamran to break her heart. There’s no real surprises here, except for who Kamran works for, but there’s a lot of really sweet stuff going on prior to that. The scene between Aamir and Bruno was great. It was nice. I like Kamala’s personal life, and it’s always great to see that continuing to be explored. The night scene between Kamala and Kamran is also good. Very romantic. And I love that Kamala feels really bad about hurting Kaboom. I love that compassionate side of her. Miyazawa’s art is very nice. A definite manga feel to it, but it’s not too prominent, it works well, and it’s appropriately expressive. Ms. Marvel continues to be the book you should be reading, and if you’re not reading it, you’re wrong.

Legendary Star-Lord #11, by Sam Humphries and Paco Medina. Kitty is complaining about hating space, while a battle goes on. They’re trying to keep the Slaughter Lords busy so Storm can kill the Brood, but Storm is attacked. Captain Marvel shows up with the Black Vortex, followed by Gara. Jean starts to submit to the Vortex, but Peter stops him, and prepares to submit himself. But he sees a vision of what would happen, and it would mean losing Kitty, so he rejects it. And Gara reclaims the Vortex. Someone does submit to the Vortex, though. It’s heavily foreshadowed all through the issue. This is another issue where little actually happens. There’s lots of stuff almost-happening. But nothing actually happens until the end. Mostly, it’s just some character stuff, with Jean and Peter almost submitting, and Gara explaining the dangers of the Vortex, but the main focus is Kitty, and especially on her talk of Plan B, and her saying that Peter’s cute. It’s OK. I do like Medina’s art. It’s very fancy and flashy and cool. Still, with only the final part left, it’s safe to say that Black Vortex can best be described as “meh.”

Pull list for April 15 2015

I work today. I’ll still try to get reviews up tonight.

I went to the store to pick up: Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #7, by Al Ewing and Iban Soria; Loki Agent of Asgard #13, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett; Ms. Marvel #14, by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyagawa; My Little Pony Fiendship Is Magic #3, by Ted Anderson and Agnes Garbowska; Uncanny X-Men #33, by Brian Bendis and Kris Anka.

I’ll also review: Legendary Star-Lord #11, by Sam Humphries and Paco Medina; Magneto #17, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta; Spider-Man and the X-Men #5, by Elliott Kalan and Marco Failla; Wolverines #14, by Ray Fawkes and Salvador Larroca.

So that’s 5 comics I picked up, and 6 reviews. A middling week for my wallet, relatively light for reviews.

I’m most excited for Ms. Marvel and Uncanny X-Men. Ms. Marvel is obvious. It will always be the book I’m most excited for. But UXM – Kitty and Illyana adventures! Woot! Seriously, this is what I’ve been craving since All-New X-Men #25. In fact, this issue is happening purely as a result of the double-page splash in that issue. It was too awesome for it not to be followed up on, and I am so psyched to see it. I’m predicting large amounts of lesbian subtext, which I’m fine with. And I’m predicting massive quantities of snark, which I am super-fine with, because both characters are at their best when at their snarkiest.

I’ve been watching Daredevil. I’m 5 episodes in. I’m enjoying it. The fight at the end of the second episode was great. I loved the TV being thrown out the door and smacking a guy in the head. And then the actual fighting was effective. A good street-fighting feel to it. Also, Foggy and Karen are adorable together. I want them to become a couple. I do. Because they have a nice chemistry. Matt and Claire have good chemistry, too. Also, Turk! Turk’s great. I loved him in the comics, and he’s really cool here.

I finished Unbecoming. Here’s my review from Goodreads:

This book is outstanding. The writing style is excellent, absolutely captivating, with gorgeous descriptions and perfect characterization. Grace is a fantastic character, someone who does bad things, but her motivations are totally understandable. It doesn’t justify much of what she does, but you can’t help but relate to her, to understand her, and to hope that things turn out well for her. She’s motivated by love. She needs it, desperately, and as a teenager, her love largely defines her. The book also has a strong focus on art, including restorations, forgeries and heists, and Scherm makes that stuff absolutely fascinating. You might get an entire page detailing restoration methods, and it’s fascinating reading, especially because it’s still used for further character work. It’s giving us Grace’s view on it all, and Grace’s passion comes through, and makes it that much more interesting.

This was a stellar book. Never mind it being a great debut, this was just a great book in general. That it’s a debut makes it even more impressive, but it earned 5 stars without needing that qualifier. It does suggest Scherm is an author to keep an eye on, though.

I was really impressed. Captivated, even. I loved the writing style. I always get a little jealous at particularly talented writers. I’m jealous of Scherm. I wish I could write as well as she does. I highly recommend it. Grace is a sympathetic character, but she’s not someone you would want to be like. Scherm has said that part of what she was thinking of, with Grace, was the way girls are pressured to be “lovable.” It’s a definite problem. There’s still a lot of cultural baggage that says girls should be lovable. That they shouldn’t be doing the sorts of things boys do – getting dirty, playing pranks, telling dirty jokes, anything like that. There’s still an expectation that girls should be working to find a man and have a baby and be a homemaker. Honestly, I am so glad I’m not a girl, because the crap they have to put up with is just ridiculous. Anyway, the point is, read this book.

Next up will be Ratscalibur, since it’s a short book, and an advanced reader copy, so I’d like to do my review before the book actually comes out May 5.

I also read Bad Houses, by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil. My review:

This is a great book. It’s about kind of a lot of things. Young love, hoarding, the sentimental value we invest in objects, inability to move on from the past, life in economically-struggling small towns, the complex relationships between children and parents. And more, besides. It interweaves all these elements, all the various plots and characters, in really effective and believable ways. Anne and Lewis have a good chemistry, and their budding romance works well. Anne is a great character in general. She’s the emotional centre of the story, and the way she’s been affected by her mother’s hoarding is really compelling. Sara Ryan also writes very believable dialogue.

The art, too, is really good. McNeil’s style is detailed when necessary, less so when not. She doesn’t waste time making lots of details that either won’t be noticed or, worse, might draw the eye away from what’s important. Characters, though, are very detailed, and she does a great job capturing expressions.

This is a really, really good book. I enjoyed it, and I would definitely recommend it.

There really is a lot going on in this book, but it never feels like too much. It’s all balanced well, and the narrative never feels disjointed. It’s a great book.

My work schedule for the week: 4-8 today, 10:30-7 tomorrow, 12:30-9 Friday, 5:30-11 Saturday, 11-7 Sunday, 7-11 am Monday, 2:30-11 next Wednesday. That’s 6 days in a row, again. I just frigging did that, and now they have me doing it again. But this time, I only get a single day off before I’m back in. Such bullshit. I hate this. I hate the way the scheduling. I hate it. I really, really hope I get that job in Whitehorse. Yeah, the winters are cold, but at least the scheduling wouldn’t be a piss-off.

I’ll do posts Monday and Tuesday. My next pull list will be next Wednesday. There’s going to be a local pop expo thing on Saturday. I’ll try to hit it before work. The only guest I’m actually familiar with is Dale Eaglesham. And the only physical comics I have that he’s done are some issues of Iron Man, from Gillen’s run. I literally haven’t heard of a single other person who will be there. There are going to be some cosplayers, though. So I’ll at least try to take some pictures of them, and try to post some of the pictures on here.

That’s all for this week.

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