All-New Wolverine #15, by Tom Taylor, Djibril Morissette-Phan and Michael Garland. SHIELD has cut Laura off from any superhero support, which is fine, because she’s all about doing things on her own. On the pirate ship, the SS Yost (ha!), Captain Ash notes that Logan was an above-average lover and they shared some great adventures. A shipping container on the deck comes loose, and a restraining cable is going to cut through a crewman’s leg, so Laura cuts it, and it lashes back against her and almost knocks her overboard, requiring Ash to rescue her. They finally reach Madripoor, and it turns out Ash sold her out to someone. Also, she was transporting children. And then Roughhouse arrives! With his name spelled properly, by the way. As Roughhouse, with two ‘h’s. And he has someone else with her. Another great issue in the series. Things continue to get worse for Laura. Ash is done really well. Initially, she’s really cool and likable. She seems like a neat, friendly pirate. As it turns out? Nope, she’s awful, she deserves bad things. Selling out Laura is bad enough, transporting kids to sell into slavery is abhorrent. So I really like how Taylor plays with our expectations like that. The issue ends on a really dark note, which has me even more excited for the next issue. The art’s good. Morissette’s not my favourite artist. Faces can get pretty odd at times. But it mostly looks good. And Garland’s colours are top-notch.
Deadpool #23, by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Paolo Villanelli, Christian Dalla Vecchia and Guru-eFX. At a SHIELD facility, Preston’s been put through decontamination, and her family is in a medically-induced coma. Deadpool is also in decon, and wants out so he can go after Madcap. So they throw him into a crematorium to kill whatever virus is left on him, through fire. Once he’s done, they head out to beat people up to find out where Madcap got the virus. (For some reason, when they go after wizards, Deadpool’s wearing a snorkel.) They don’t find any answers. So Deadpool does something desperate to get a cure for Preston’s family. This is a pretty good issue. Lots of ass-kicking fun, but also really good emotional tension. Duggan makes great use of Preston for that, as she is furious at Deadpool, but also desperate to find a cure. It’s really good work there. Deadpool himself is fairly serious, but does still make a couple jokes. I still don’t like the art, of course. I’ll never like Lolli’s art. I’ve made peace with that. Still, good issue. Which is almost frustrating, because this series is just so damn uneven, going up and down constantly.
That’s the X-stuff, but there’s a couple other comics worth talking about.
Avengers #2, by Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo (with Marco D’Alfonso). The Avengers are floating in nothingness, and Vision believes it’s Limbo. Not Illyana’s Limbo. Immortus’ Limbo. They were brought there by a future version of Kang, because if you’re doing a Kang story, you need to bring in more Kangs. They can’t leave Limbo without ceasing to exist, so their fates lie in the hands of Hercules, who goes to see an old friend, Sibyl. She tells him what Kang’s up to, and sends him off. In Vietnam, Kang and Scarlet Centurion attack the Temple of the Priests of Pama. Hercules shows up to fight them, and finds the Baby Kang. This is great. Waid is crafting a very Kang story, with paradoxes and offshoots and Limbo and all sorts of weirdness. Hercules is good in this, showing some of his boisterousness, but still being fairly subdued by classic standards. This is still modern Hercules. The fight against the Kangs is good; there’s a great moment where Kang tries to drain centuries of life off Hercules, who responds by casually bitch-slapping him while boasting that he’ll outlive the sun. You really do have to wonder at Kang’s sense in trying to age an immortal. The art is gorgeous. Of course. Del Mundo is spectacular. Worth the cost of the book alone. So, yeah, I’m really loving Avengers.
Champions #3, by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Oscar Delgado. The issue picks up where the last issue left off: The team finding Cho and Viv making out. Viv explains she wanted to see how it would affect her. She says it didn’t, and that she may need to try a different gender. So . . . OK, I’ll actually talk about this after the recap. Viv then notes that there’s reports from Sharzad of terrorists gunning down children, and Ms. Marvel says they have to deal with it, so they get into a new transport Cho has built. Cho and Kamala argue a bit over who’s leader. They get to Sharzad and fight off jerkwads while protecting women. One of the girls has a suggestion for how to send a message to protect them long-term. The girls gather in the town square, and the Champions, staying hidden, make all sorts of havoc among the terrorists, to make everyone think God is defending the women. So this issue . . . I don’t know, man. Look, I’m very much part of the target audience. A book about Social Justice Warriors? Preaching positive messages? You all know that’s something I’m all in favour of. But this feels a bit too heavy-handed. It doesn’t really have enough authenticity. The characters all remain off. Especially Viv, who is written far too cold and analytic. And that brings me to the kiss. So, this is pretty clearly meant to indicate Viv as queer, though obviously, it’s too soon to tell if she’s going to be lesbian or asexual or what. But here’s the thing: We know Viv is capable of having romantic feelings for men. The Vision series made that very, very clear, as she was obsessed with the cute boy who said she was cool. She was obsessed with him for the entire rest of the run. And while that doesn’t prove she can’t be a lesbian, I don’t like the idea of erasing it. The fact that she wasn’t turned on by kissing Cho is also not exactly great proof of a lack of interest in men in general. She may not be attracted to Cho. And realistically, she should probably be aware if she has any sort of attraction to women. She should know who she’s attracted to, because we have seen her be attracted to someone. For Waid to now pull this “What is this thing called love?” bullshit with her is ridiculous, and it’s insulting. My guess is she’ll be revealed as asexual, which I would be fine with, except that I honestly do not have have faith in Waid to make it clear that her being an android is not why she’s asexual, or to understand that asexual people can still feel romantic attraction. (I knew an asexual girl in college. She complained pretty regularly about wanting a boyfriend.) I think I’m going to drop this book. It’s just not as good as I wanted it to be. It comes across as an old guy writing about Those Hip Kids Today. There’s a lack of authenticity that just drags it down way too much, and makes everyone sound off. Also, I hate Ramos’ art. Hate it hate it hate it. So, yeah, I think I’m done with this series.
The Wicked + The Divine #24, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. It’s New Year’s Eve. Amaterasu calls Persephone “Persy.” That’s cute. And also they kiss, but mostly, “Persy” as a nickname. McKelvie draws Persy with wicked abs as Minerva tells her not to hurt Baal. She also drives a motorcycle super-fast. And the issue’s just awesome. Persy is great. She’s cynical and angry and downright dangerous. This series is fantastic and you should read it.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list for tomorrow is up, and it’s my 1000th post. Which feels pretty crazy. But now, by Claremont, Davis, Neary, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Send In the Clowns!”
Courtney is dropped down a chute, where she’s changed into an Alice In Wonderland dress, and lands where Excalibur and the Crazy Gang are standing around. Phoenix/Executioner starts going after Courtney, Brian (in Tweedle-Dope’s body) stops her, and Tweedle-Dope in Brian’s body has a unique fighting style.
Up in his control booth, Arcade is bored, so Kitty decides to make things more exciting for him, by pulling him through his own control panel, and leaving Lockheed behind to prevent Locke and Chambers from repairing it. In Murderworld, Kitty screwing up the computer means everything starts going crazy, shifting around. Courtney is still trying to escape the Executioner. And Kitty drops off Arcade.
The Knave’s body – which contains Meggan’s mind – gets dropped on the Executioner, and then Kurt’s body, with the Jester’s mind, grabs Courtney. Meanwhile, Kitty is playing with Murderworld’s systems, installing a program she designed with Doug that gives her control of Murderworld. And also continues to have a lot of fun.
The Jester has Courtney strapped to a classic “conveyor belt with a saw” deathtrap. Hey, nice taste, Jester! Those things are great! Kurt, in the Jester’s body, arrives for a swordfight to save the fair maiden! Arcade cuts her free, and asks for a reward. She obliges.
She trips on the marbles and ends up on a rocket. Meanwhile, Chambers tries to deal with Lockheed.
Locke tries, instead, seduction. Which . . . how? He’s a dragon. How is a human seducing him supposed to work? Anyway, back to Courtney, who muses she used to read “Dan Dare” but never expected to ride his ship. A run-in with Tweedle-Dope drops her down another hole, and onto a stage. The audience is filled with pies. Like, actual, talking pies, with arms and legs and faces. Courtney is apparently supposed to perform with Cats Laughing, a real band whose members include some notable sci-fi authors. Claremont was a big fan of them. So why are they in Murderworld, performing for a bunch of pies? Because this is Excalibur. (If you want a real explanation, I imagine it’s because this is all what Doug programmed. He knew Kitty loved Cats Laughing, so he tossed them in. With sentient pies. Because Doug clearly had an odd sense of humour.)
All the others start getting dropped down into the pies. And keep fighting. Among a bunch of talking pies.
Brian hands Courtney a gizmo, and Kitty guesses it’s meant to reverse the mind swaps. Kitty can’t touch the device because she’s phased, so Courtney has to save the day. Also, Kitty and Courtney immediately like each other.
Courtney starts with Meggan, and it’s successful, and Meggan flattens the Knave. She then switches Brian and Kurt back to normal, and Tweedle-Dope passes out, much to Brian’s disappointment. The machine doesn’t work on Rachel, so Kitty instead goes inside her. Subtext! Rachel returns to normal and everyone is happy, aside from being covered in pie.
Outside, Kitty yells at Lockheed for letting Locke and Chambers go. Which again raises the question of how that worked? Lockheed is apparently the dragon equivalent of a furry. Arcade is being led off by the cops, and gives a pretty good defence of himself.
A few nights later, Courtney actually does admit it was fun, and has given her a new outlook on life. Just in time for Sat-YR-9 to appear. Kurt and Brian are having drinks at a pub, talking about Brian and Meggan and Courtney. And it’s actually really interesting stuff.
I think that’s actually key, here. Yes, Brian is having an affair with “Courtney” – the story ends with him going to Courtney’s apartment and making out with her, not noticing a charred patch on the carpet, or the dagger tattoo on her leg (Sat-YR-9 killed Courtney and is now posing as her, something which takes a long time to be resolved) – and that’s wrong of him. But he’s still presented sympathetically. He feels pressured by how devoted Meggan is to him. And honestly, that’s fair. She is too devoted to him. It’s an unhealthy relationship. Meggan just doesn’t have enough life experience for their relationship to be equal. Brian is her first love, and most of what she knows about love, and life, she learned from TV. So it’s not healthy, and Brian knows it, but he loves her and doesn’t really want to lose her by letting her explore life with someone else. But at the same time, he also feels a need for someone more mature.
The natural reaction of most people, when they cheat, is to hate them. I think it’s important to understand why they did it. In Brian’s case, I think it’s hard to truly hate him for it.
Anyway, this is a great issue! It’s fun and crazy and ridiculous and just great. There’s so much weird shit going on. And then there’s talking pies at a Cats Laughing concert, because this is Excalibur. There’s still some nice character stuff, even during the main story. Kitty thinking about Doug was nice. A reminder that she misses him. It even serves as a reminder of how weird Doug’s sense of humour could be, at times. Kitty just kinda steals the issue in general, really, toying with Arcade and all. It takes a lot to upstage Arcade, and Kitty makes it look easy. Courtney’s great, too, though. She’s a bit of a Damsel-in-Distress, but she’s also trying to help herself, and she is the one who ultimately saves the others. Plus, she’s just clever about it.
The art is Davis, Neary and Oliver. So, you know. It’s great. Davis always did weird and fun really well.
So, great issue.
I’ll go to the store for: All-New Wolverine #15, by Tom Taylor, Nik Virella; Avengers #2, by Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo; Champions #3, by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos; The Wicked + The Divine #24, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson.
I’ll also review: Deadpool #23, by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli.
So that’s 4 books I’m picking up, and one additional review. Wow, light week.
Some good stuff, though. Enemy of the State II still has me excited, even if last issue felt like it dropped the ball a bit. And if nothing else, Gabby is eternally wonderful. Avengers got off to a fantastic start, with a great cliffhanger, and Mike Del goddamn Mundo is on art, and there is no such thing as a bad Del Mundo comic. And WicDiv is WicDiv. As for Champions, well . . . I’ll talk about that in a moment.
So it turns out Animosity #1 is on its fifth printing. Nice. Kudos to the whole team. It’s a great comic and I highly recommend it.
I should give some thoughts on Resurrxion. I talked last week about how disappointed I am with Blue and Gold. Screw those books. Iceman is a character I’ve never cared about, so I’m not buying his solo. Still, it’s one I’m expecting to be good. Dennis Hopeless on Jean Grey wasn’t what I was hoping – I hoped for another female writer – but he’s a great writer and it’ll be a great book. Weapon X has Greg Land on art, so a hard pass on that. The cast seems reasonably cool. Old Man Logan (who will also be in X-Men Gold), Warpath, Domino, Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike. Two of five are POC, which is actually more than Blue and Gold combined. So that’s nice. Lady Deathstrike is an amusing addition, as Logan recently made a joke about making her an X-Man, and her replied that she’d never join. Also interesting that two of Logan’s old enemies are there. Good to see Domino and Warpath, they’re both great characters. Pak will probably do a good job on the writing. But being saddled with Land is going to hurt it a lot. And we don’t know anything about Cable, but I can’t imagine there’ll be anything about it that really excites me.
Ultimately, I’m only going to be buying one X-title, still. Generation X. It’ll be written by Christina Strain, who identifies as Hapa, meaning she’s mixed-race. In her case, part-Korean. So a woman of colour on an X-title? Hell yes, I will check that out, given my rant last week. (Funny note: There are two non-white writers on X-titles in Resurrxion. Both are Korean-American. Odd how that happened.) The art is by Amilcar Pinna, who’s got a really cool style, one well-suited to a youth team. The line-up has me mixed. Jubilee! Yay! Jubilee is awesome and I’ve always loved her. Bling! will be there, and I really like her, and it’s cool to see a black lesbian continue getting use, so that’s cool. Benjamin Deeds, also gay, is a character I liked in Bendis’ UXM run. I thought he was a neat character with a lot of potential. Nature Girl, from Jason Latour’s WatXM, who’s pretty much a non-character. He never bothered to give her a personality. Still, we do know she’s Asian, or of Asian descent, so it’s more racial diversity. We’ll see how Strain actually develops her. There’s a new character, a Korean-American guy, but obviously, I can’t say how I feel about him yet. The problem is the last two characters. Eye-Boy and Quentin Quire. Two characters I hated from Aaron’s abysmal WatXM run. I always thought Eye-Boy was stupid, and the only writer who’s ever made Quire worth reading was Grant Morrison. Every other writer missed the entire point of the character. They want to write him as a cool bad boy with a good heart. The thing is, he’s not supposed to be cool. He was never cool. He was an unpopular nerd who embraced counter-culture as a way of lashing out against learning some traumatic things, but he was still a loser who attracted other losers. But Aaron reimagined him into something completely different, in order to fill an archetype, because Aaron was more interested in archetypes than characters.
So Quire’s presence is disappointing. Still, I’ll get Generation X. Strain has talked about wanting to include tons of guest stars, and given Blue and Gold both decided that diversity is for losers, Generation X will be our best chance for seeing mutants who aren’t straight white dudes. (Though, again, Gold can get my support by having Kitty and Rachel be in an official romantic relationship.)
A major concern, though: Where the hell is Laura? Where is Best Wolverine? She’s not on any of the teams, and there’s no confirmation if her solo will continue. Tom Taylor has said there will be news soon. I’ve seen speculation that she’ll be part of an All-New New Fantastic Four, which would be odd. The original New Fantastic Four (from an arc of Walter Simonson’s Fantastic Four run) was Spider-Man, Hulk (then in his jerky grey identity), the Daniel Ketch Ghost Rider, and Logan. The All-New New Fantastic Four would be Laura, Robbie Reyes, Amadeus Cho, and Silk. Three characters I love, plus Cho. It would be a fun team book, but I’d hate to lose Laura’s solo, because it’s so good. But we’ll have to wait and see.
So, Champions. I’m on the verge of dropping it. This issue is its last chance to actually impress me. I wanted to like this book. I tried to tell myself I liked it. But it’s just not very good. The art is actively off-putting, and the writing is really weak. The fact that the second issue dedicated half its space to reviewing information easily included on a recap page, or with captions within the story, was ridiculous. My pull list is going to be growing a lot as Now continues, so cutting books I’m just not enjoying enough will become a necessity. And Champions is the book I enjoy least, of everything I’m buying. (I honestly have no idea what else I can put on the endangered list, though. I’m getting a lot of great books. I thoroughly enjoy them all.)
A couple books I finished, that I should mention. Singular Irregularity: Tales of Time Travel Gone Wrong. An anthology of short stories about time travel.
This is a great anthology. All the stories are really good. Some are better than others, of course, and some will resonate with some people more than others. But they’re all good stories, well-written and interesting. Some are tense, some are funny, some are bittersweet, there’s a very nice variety of tones and styles. The ones I like best are the ones that dwell the least on the science. I do wish there’d been a little more racial diversity among the writers, though that’s not a knock against any of the writers who contributed.
This was really good. I recommend it.
Olive and the Underworld, by Emily Felt and Laura West
This is delightful. I loved this. It’s really good. Olive is an immediately endearing character, a goth who’s very clever and creative. No one understands her, because she’s surrounded by people who are just too normal. When she ends up in Purgatory, she’s delighted, because it’s weird and wonderful in a way she gets. So seeing her adjust is a lot of fun. The art is really good, too. It’s a very cute, bright style, that complements the writing perfectly.
This is great. I definitely recommend it.
I’m really looking forward to more of this series. I will absolutely back the next volume. And IF Anthology, a comic anthology ostensibly revolving around superheroics, though it’s actually much broader than that.
This was pretty OK. It wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. It’s an anthology of comics, most of them hero-themed. Some were pretty fun. A couple were really weak. Most were just OK. Most anthologies I back, I love. But this didn’t thrill me. The art, for the most part, is good, though again, little of it is really exceptional. In both writing and art, none of the stories really stood out to me in such a way as to make me want to read more by the creators. I enjoyed reading this, but I don’t know that I’d necessarily recommend it.
I’m currently reading Fitting In, a prose anthology set around the idea of monsters as metaphors for being an outsider. It’s really good. When I’m done, I’ll read the two graphic novels I’ve gotten for Christmas.
My friend and I did our gift exchange on Saturday. We don’t often see each other, since she lives over an hour away, so we met up when we had the chance. I got her Lush bath bombs and Yves Rocher perfume. She got me Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks; Lucky Penny, by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota; and The Psychology of Superheroes. Look, I enjoy reading books that use superheroes to explore academic topics.
In theory, I should probably do a 2016 In Review post. I probably won’t bother. You want my review for this year? Just read through all my blog posts for this year. I’m lazy. Some comics were good, some were not. Captain America: Civil War was pretty good, Dr. Strange can go to hell for whitewashing the Ancient One. Rogue One looks awesome. I read some good books, and some weak ones. On a larger scale, the year was an absolute shitshow. On a personal level, it was a retread of 2015. It’s just not really worth talking about any of it.
My schedule for the week: 10:30-5:15 Thursday, 10:45-5:30 Friday, 9:15-4 Saturday, 11:45-8:15 Sunday, 4:15-10:45 Tuesday. So I’ll probably only post on Monday. Maybe I’ll get one up on Saturday, we’ll see how I feel.
And that’s it for this week.
Update: This is my 1000th post on WordPress. Holy crap.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I got to hang out with a friend today, which is why this is so late going up. We exchanged Christmas gifts. I’ll tell you about it on Tuesday. But now, by Claremont, John Buscema, Williamson, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Bloodsport.”
In Lowtown, a guy is running through the streets, chased by a big guy and a creepy goth dude. The murdered guy is Lord Ranjamaryan, the Prince’s Chancellor. The police pull his body out of the water, and Logan comes by to check him out and catch any scents. He liked Ranja, who used people but who tried to do as little harm and as much good as he could. Tai tells Logan that there were rumours Ranja backed Tyger as the new Crimelord, and that someone killed him to prevent it.
Out on an isolated airstrip, Roughhouse and Bloodsport are threatening a pilot by the name of Archie Corrigan. They want Archie to stop flying jobs for Tyger, and to back their General, instead. Back to Logan! He sneaks into Ranja’s estate. He’d had a dinner with a lady (he was apparently a “player,” as Logan puts it), and Logan recognizes the scent on a handkerchief left behind. He heads to Hightown, and wakes Karma from her sleep. Karma! It’s Shan, guys! She’s serving her uncle, Nguyen Ngoc Coy. Logan tells her to figure out which side of the fence she’s on.
Next day: Jessica and Lindsay. They’re taking a stroll through the Lowtown Bazaar, and have a run-in with Roughhouse.
He calls them the cutest girls he’s seen “in a troll’s age.” The original intention with Roughhouse was actually that he was half-Frost Giant, though that was never developed, and I think he was later stated to be just a mutant. Regardless, Bloodsport drags him away, though he gets in a last flirt that makes Jessica threaten to punch him until Lindsay holds her back. Then a bleeding woman stumbles out of an alley. Jessica goes to check where she came from, climbing the outside of a building, which is weird, because I could have sworn she lost that ability. She lost all her spider-powers after she “died” and came back. I guess Claremont decided, nah, her powers were just more limited. Or something. Anyway, she heads inside the building, and finds a lot of dead people, and “The Tyger Is Dead” scrawled in blood on a wall.
Later, Logan, Jessica and Lindsay meet at the Princess Bar, to go over the case. Lindsay notes that Jessica drove General Nguyen out of San Francisco, and Logan says Karma’s good people and would only work for him if he had something over her. Of course, the “hold” is that he’s helping to find her brother and sister, still missing. They won’t be found in this series! It’ll still be a few years before the plot gets resolved in a Beast mini. Tyger asks Logan to accompany her to the palace, and along the way, they get attacked.
So, Logan vs. Roughhouse! It doesn’t last long. Logan and Tyger are both in trouble. So, Karma to the rescue!
Yay for Karma saving the day. Logan escapes with Tyger, and Karma slips away. Logan takes Tyger to Jessica and Lindsay, while he makes plans to disrupt Coy’s drug trade. He goes to Archie for help. And in Coy’s penthouse, Coy yells at Bloodsport and Roughhouse to find and kill Tyger.
This issue has Karma in it, so that automatically makes it better. Karma’s the best. I find it really interesting that Claremont brought her into this series as a supporting character, actually. He didn’t do much with her in New Mutants – he wrote her out early in the run, brought her back a while later, then wrote her back out again not much after. He just didn’t seem to have any idea what to do with her. So it’s interesting that he decided he had use for her here. And she actually did get some pretty good use in Wolverine. This issue starts that, by having her wanting to help Logan, even as she feels obligated to help her jerkass uncle. So that’s cool.
This issue also introduces Roughhouse and Bloodsport. I should note that Roughhouse spells his name incorrectly, with one ‘h’. I refuse to spell it that way. Because I don’t think this was an intentional choice, I think it was an error, and I’m just not going to support that error. Misspelled name aside, I like Roughhouse. He’s fun. He’s big and boisterous and loves fighting and flirting in equal measure. He’s just a big guy looking to have a good time, and it makes him very endearing. Bloodsport has his own charms, with his Shakespearean speech pattern. He’s a 400-year-old goth. It’s kinda cool.
The art’s not bad. Better than Sal Buscema’s was. I’m not a big fan of John Buscema, either, but I didn’t really mind him here. I don’t know, it still has the same things I dislike – slightly heavy lines, faces that tend to be a bit expressionless – but the problems didn’t stand out the way they sometimes do. So it mostly looked fine.
So yeah, all in all, not a bad issue.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Dennis Hopeless on Jean Grey’s solo. I guess because they can’t have two female writers on X-titles at the same time. That would just be crazy. Anyway, today, by Nocenti, Leonardi, Russell, Oliver, Rockwitz and Lopez, “God’s Country (Part III of VIII) – Iron Curtains.”
Colossus is fighting guys with powers. They’re hurting him, but he ends up kicking their asses long enough to get away with the family. The father thinks they should go to the police, and Colossus says no, and there’s something about this panel I find amusing:
So, setting aside the fact that a lot of people do have reason to fear the police, I’m amused by something else. So, this guy’s a small-government, Second-Amendment-loving conservative Republican. And I find these types can come across as schizophrenic when it comes to police. Because here, the guy says the police are great. But guys like this are often quick to bash the police if someone brings up gun restrictions or anything like that. Just something that amuses me. They’ll defend the police when someone criticizes them, and criticize the police when someone defends them.
But anyway! Colossus has a bad feeling about the whole thing, but Bruce insists the country won’t betray him, with Grandpa pointing out they sent him to Vietnam and make him fight for his benefit checks. Gee, that bit about veterans fighting for benefit checks sure does make this comic look dated doesn’t it hahahahaha. At the police station, the officers load them into a van, and Colossus shoves away the cop and drives off, with the cop shooting at them. Bruce drives the van out to their farm, and boards the place up. He insist that what happens in Russia can’t happen in the US. Roxy, meanwhile, is a little stressed.
She’s starting to lose it, so Bruce gives her a rifle. Because Bruce is clearly great at decisions. His wife is falling apart from the stress of feeling under attack, so give her a gun. What could go wrong? Nothing makes a person on the verge of a freak-out feel calmer than a gun. Good call, Bruce. He also gives a handgun to his son. Again: Great decision-making skills. The kid immediately aims the gun at Colossus and asks if he’s really a Commie. Cliffhanger!
This is a pretty good installment. There’s a lot going on here, actually. We’ve got Colossus vs. the bad guys, a debate about going to the police, actually running from the police, and barricading their farmhouse. In 8 pages. Bruce’s unwavering faith in America is interesting; this was right near the end of the Reagan Presidency, when conservatives did love the country unquestioningly. It’s only when Clinton took office that they found their scepticism again. Conservatives always have much dimmer views of America when Democrats are in the White House. Roxy’s gradual descent into freak-out is really unsettling, too. The scene at the police station did feel a bit too quick. That would be my main criticism of this part. It lasted one page. It was just weirdly quick, to me.
And, without Oliver, Part IV, “Draw the Lines . . .”
The neighbours are wondering what Bruce and his family are up to, and gossiping about them.
Meanwhile, Grandpa’s in his old car. He’s got it tripped out as a memory car, full of photos of old movie stars, some model planes, a banjo. He’s decided to stay in the car until everything blows over. In the house, Colossus wants to take the family to a hotel, but Bruce says he can’t afford it. And we get a political debate!
Bruce criticizes the USSR’s lack of free speech, and Colossus says both systems have problems. Which is fair. They continue to debate things, and it’s pretty interesting stuff, but again, Colossus goes back to the point that both sides have let their people down, and they need to stop fighting, before it’s too late.
Which makes a good time for the fighting to start, as a hail of bullets cuts through the walls. Colossus goes out to deal with the powered people again, and a woman among them asks to be brought inside so she can talk to the family. Meanwhile, the neighbours continue to watch and gossip.
This part’s mostly dedicated to the argument between Colossus and Bruce. And it’s a good debate. And, look, I’m Canadian, and a liberal Canadian at that. So when Colossus suggests that things like health care, housing and even employment should be considered human rights? I agree. I am entirely for that. So I’m on Colossus’ side here. And yeah, censorship is bad, so Bruce is right about that, but he strikes me as very naive. Believably so, though. So it does make a good discussion. Nocenti was always good at these kinds of debates between characters.
The art in both parts is really good. It’s Leonardi. What’s not to love? The man’s a great artist. Russell inks him well, and Rockwitz’s colours are pretty good. There’s a lot of talking head stuff, but Leonardi still makes it visually interesting, and even exciting.
This story remains good and interesting.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Christina Strain will be writing Generation X. So that means I’ll be able to get that book. Whew. But now, comics!
Extraordinary X-Men #16, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos. Sapna is kicking the asses of the X-Men in Limbo. Glob brings Jean into the lab, and she says Sapna can’t be stopped. Illyana is being filled with magic power, but she’s having trouble containing it and finding Limbo, so Storm takes the power, to act as a lightning rod, in a panel that really made me think for a second that they were going to kiss.
So Storm, Illyana, and the loser magicians make it back to Limbo. I still don’t care about these dudes, and I still think they could easily have been left out of the arc entirely. Illyana and the World-Eater fight, while Apocalypse convinces Kurt to free him in exchange for changing Colossus back to normal. So, this arc is over. This is really the end of the series: Next up is IvX, and then the book will relaunch as X-Men Gold. As a conclusion to the arc, this is OK. About as good as the rest of the arc, which means it’s pretty mediocre. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. I am disappointed at the conclusion of the Illyana/Sapna story, though the final page does leave it open for more. But still, I think it was the wrong way to go. The Illyana/Sapna story has been, without question, the absolute best part of the entire run of EXM. And it was the best part because it felt like a chance for Illyana to have a second chance, and for it to end the way it did just feels cruel to her. Also, I think Lemire dropped the ball a little in exploring what Sapna meant to Illyana. I get “Show, Don’t Tell,” but just the same, it’s a case where a little more telling actually would have gone a long way. I’ve mentioned this before, but Illyana obviously saw a lot of herself in Sapna. She wanted to train Sapna to be good and heroic, to be the things Illyana doesn’t believe herself to be. So, in this issue, her stabbing Sapna is stabbing herself, too, in a sense, but that’s not really explored. I think partly because Lemire was also still juggling the Apocalypse/Colossus story that wasn’t very interesting. So, this whole arc was weaker than I’d hoped, and the conclusion was really disappointing. The art’s fine. Ibanez has a muddier style than I prefer. But he does draw some pretty badass stuff. Ramos’ colours are good. I’m sorry I’m not more of a visual person and I can’t give more detail.
Old Man Logan #14, by Jeff Lemire, Filipe Andrade and Jordie Bellaire. First things first: I like Andrade. I think he’s a good artist. And Jordie Bellaire is one the absolute best colour artists in comics, ever. but damn, I miss Sorrentino and Maiolo. Anyway! Logan’s getting his drunk on, and Cerebra tells him Jubilee’s gone missing. He goes to her Brooklyn apartment, and finds Shogo, but no Jubester. Logan tells Cerebra to babysit, and I’ve gotta be honest, I have never sympathized with a giant murder-bot more than I do here:
Fun fact: Keep kids the hell away from me. Anyway! She teleports him to Romania, where he’s immediately attacked by monsters. Specifically, the Howling Commandos. The ones who had a series this year. It lasted all of 5 minutes. Anyway, they’re looking for a teammate, Vampire By Night. They’re in Eastern Europe and vampires are involved, which means Dracula. The Teen Abomination and Glyph both think Jubilee’s cool. These kids are all right. Logan comes up with a plan: The Commandos will attack head-on as a distraction so he can sneak in the back. This was OK. It’s off to a pretty bland start, and I have a feeling it’ll be a bland arc. There’s not really much to talk about so far. I do like the art. Like I said, I like Andrade. He draws a pretty cute Shogo. Romania is dark and creepy. His rough, sketchy style works well for an arc like this, so there is that, at least. But we’ll have to wait and see how the arc goes.
Inhumans vs. X-Men #0, by Charles Soule, Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown. We start 8 months ago. Beast is in New Attilan, excited to do SCIENCE! with Iso. Emma is on Muir Island, cliff-diving. Not into water. I actually like Beast here, because he feels so much like himself. A guy who believes in science, and who loves it.
Iso says the only way to save mutants is to eliminate the X-gene . . . which would mean mutants no longer exist. Beast responds by taking a selfie. It’s to prove the magic of science, but still, he responds to the threat of mutants going extinct by taking a selfie. Which feels like such a Beast thing to do. Like, ’90s Beast. Best Beast, if you will. He’s just really happy and optimistic here and I like seeing that for once. As for why Emma’s jumping off a cliff, it’s because she’s trying to trigger the change to diamond form quicker, for the next time she faces Black Bolt. She wants revenge against him for killing Scott. The Cuckoos are, um, concerned. It does seem like she miiiiiight have love her mind just a little. Then we cut to 6 months ago. Beast provides a Cerebro unit for Crystal’s fancy ship, so they can evacuate mutants in the path of the Terrigen cloud. Emma meets with Magneto in Poland, saying she has a plan for eliminating the second Terrigen cloud, but she needs Magneto’s help. Now we’re at 4 months ago. Beast and Iso go to the Savage Land, so Beast can set up a device to register any Terrigen in the environment. Emma is in Detroit, meeting with the O5 X-Men. Seeing Scott shakes her up, and it’s actually really, really sad.
So, yeah, this might be the best moment of the issue. Maybe the best X-moment of the week. That is fantastic work from Soule, Rocafort and Brown. Remember, Emma uses the diamond form as a way of blocking her emotions. When she’s a diamond, she feels nothing. So her switching to diamond shows just how close she was to losing control of her emotions. With the diamond tear being an incredible touch. And it even ties into her attempts to speed up her transition. Anyway, two months ago. Beast tells Medusa he hasn’t found a cure, and in fact, the way the poisoning works means a different cure has to be found for each individual mutant. He then eavesdrops on Medusa telling Black Bolt and Medusa that a war with the X-Men is inevitable, and the Inhumans have to be ready to win it. Ooh, dark. Emma meets with someone at the Hellfire Club, though we don’t see who. A woman in a white dress. And then, yesterday: Bad news.
This was pretty good, actually. I enjoyed this. It’s got two things that are always great: Beast doing science, and Emma being conniving. And Emma having feelings that she tries to hide. I love Soule’s Emma. He’s got a great handle on her. He does such a good job with her. She’s snarky, classy, casually badass, and also very vulnerable beneath all that. She hides her vulnerability, but it’s very, very clear to the readers. And it makes her so compelling. Soule also does a great job with Beast, making him the happy, fun, optimistic scientist people always loved. That was always when the character was at his best, and it’s what we get here, and I appreciate that. The art, by Rocafort and Brown, is excellent. I think it worked better on Ultimates than it does here. Rocafort has a very distinctive lay-out style that has a lot of white space, and a lot of bits of . . . I’m not sure what to call them. They almost look like broken panels of colour. But just little coloured shapes, just hanging around the panels, both outside and, sometimes, inside. And it worked on Ultimates, just because of the premise of the series. But here, it feels out of place. Other than that, though, it’s great art. Nicely expressive faces. Great work with body language. Background are used inconsistently, but when they’re there, they’re really detailed. Brown’s colours are really lush. So, this is actually a very good comic, and a very good prologue to IvX.
Ms. Marvel #13, by G. Willow Wilson, Mirka Andolfo and Ian Herring. Kamala is back to school, the first day back with Bruno gone, and their class is studying themes of lost love in Shakespeare. Fitting. Kamala’s sad, Mike’s crying, Zoe is staring at Nakia. And we get this awesomely meme-able panel:
And then her brother-in-law, Gabe Hillman, is brought into the class. Apparently, his neighbourhood was redistricted, so he’s in a different school attendance zone, and his parents are in a different voting precinct. Ah, gerrymandering. So goddamn stupid. She goes to the mayor’s office to express her concerns about the redistricting that occurred the day before an election. The Mayor isn’t happy about it, either, actually. So she asks Mike for help researching it. Turns out it’s all a plan to get one of Dr. Faustus’ guys elected Mayor. So Mike and Kamala make a plan to get people to vote against him. They actually try to promote support for a third-party candidate, a former City Librarian. I like her! The plan involves Nakia, and going door-to-door. This was a good issue. It’s fun. It’s a shame it didn’t come out a month ago, though. It would’ve been perfect as a pre-election release, rather than almost a month after an election that put fascism in the White House. Like, this comic’s all hopeful and optimistic and Good Triumphs Over Evil. But the actual election was Evil triumphing. So, I mean, I guess having a story about an election that doesn’t result in disaster for huge numbers of people is nice, as a bit of a soul-cleanser. Still, awkward timing. But! The story itself is good. A neat little examination of politics and the importance of voting. Also has some really good information about voting. The issue is, to an extent, as much political pamphlet as it is actual comic book. But it’s enjoyable. And I still love Andolfo and Herring on art. Andolfo’s lines are really nice, and Herring’s colours go with them beautifully. This is one of my favourite line-colour pairings. Andolfo/Herring need to remain a team, even after Andolfo leaves Ms. Marvel.
New Avengers #18, by Al Ewing, Carlo Barberi and Jesus Aburtov. It’s a funeral for Roberto, and Songbird is delivering the eulogy, while AIM and the New Mutants grieve, and OK, these three panels are the Best Thing Ever.
Oh man. This is so good. Larry! Champagne-Bot! Doug (with Dani’s priceless reaction)! Warlock! Warlock! Dammit, Warlock, you took one of the saddest things ever, and if I read that issue again, I’m just going to end up laughing, because I’ll remember this joke. There is nothing about these three panels that isn’t the funniest goddamn thing. I love it. It’s amazing. Anyway, the church is put in a time-stasis field, so Andrew Forson and Monica Rappaccini, ex-AIM leaders, can make sure ‘Berto’s dead. Spoiler: He’s not! So then a big fight breaks out. Karma momentarily possesses Forson, because Karma is awesome.
On a personal note, I’ve long held the belief that Karma would make an amazing spy. So, her infiltrating Forson’s AIM infiltrators made me feel weirdly vindicated. Anyway! Forson and Rappaccini are down. Max Brashear and Power Man are taking down RAID. Power Man says he’s going back to Spanish Harlem, and Max asks if he can join him, using a combat suit and calling himself Iron Fist. The White Tigers take down TIM, with Ava saying she wants to stop being White Tiger. Toni and Aikku take down AGM, Advanced Genocide Mechanics, which Aikku finds horrible. I love Aikku. She and Aikku are officially a couple now. Awww. Cute. Wiccan and Hulkling are sent to a really nice Manhattan apartment with a view of Central Park, to take down Advanced Idea Mechanization, but it turns out Bobby was actually just giving them an apartment as thanks for their help. This issue was . . . this is why I loved New Avengers. It’s hilarious. It’s not just funny, of course. There’s some good character explorations, with the ones leaving the book, showing where they’re at right now. The Aikku/Toni scene is adorable and sweet. Wiccan and Hulkling have a really sweet moment. But mostly? Yeah, the issue’s hilarious. Full of ridiculous stuff and terrible jokes and utter bizarre stuff. There’s a flying slice of cake, you guys! That’s a thing in this issue! It says “You’re the best!” Like, how can you not love that? This whole series has been that level of amazing and I loved every minute of it, and I hope it keeps mostly the same tone as USAvengers. Because so much yes.
Ghost Rider #1, by Felipe Smith, Danilo Beyruth, Val Staples and Jesus Aburtov. Robbie’s taken Gabe to the garage he works in, and they’re going over the parts of the engine, and it’s adorable and they’re best brothers. In West LA, Amadeus Cho is helping to explore some unrecorded chemical element. Turns out the rock is alive, a viscous mobile entity. So, a symbiote? We’ll find out later! Back in East LA, Robbie’s driving Gabe home, after getting ice cream. Some jerk is blocking the road, and threatens Robbie, and Eli wants to kill the guy but Robbie’s not in the mood. Once Gabe’s home, Robbie goes out to his night job. The Ghost Rider goes after the guy who was mean and kicked the car. I mean, that may seem like disproportionate retribution, but keep in mind, it’s a really frigging nice car. Oh, also, they had a family in a crate in the back of a truck. But mostly it was kicking the car. Meanwhile, the Hulk is fighting the purple goop, which keeps evolving as it eats things, getting bigger and freakier. This is good. I’m not entirely sold on Cho’s presence in this arc. I guess it’s Smith trying to integrate the character more closely into the Marvel Universe, and using other notable young legacy characters for thematic reasons. Wolverine’s going to be in this arc, too – I’ve seen it mentioned that they only need Miles to have an All-New New Fantastic Four. If that happens? If we get a story where Robbie, Cho, Laura and Miles team up? I will be totally on board with that. I actually really liked the New Fantastic Four arc, back in the day, and . . . I’m getting off-topic. The story! Cho got a little more focus in the issue than I would have liked. It was in order to introduce the threat that Robbie’s going to have to deal with, of course. And Smith’s take on the character is much closer to Pak’s than Waid’s take is – I wish Smith was the one writing Champions. He writes Cho well enough that it’s not that big a deal, and we do still get plenty of Robbie and Gabe, and a pretty cool action scene for the Ghost Rider. And I should talk about that scene! It works really well. He comes across as terrifying. Beyruth does a pretty good job conveying a sense of motion. The colours in those pages is gorgeous. I’m not sure which one did those pages – if it was Staples or Aburtov – but it was fantastic. The flames are really freaky. So, while I have some minor complaints, this was a great kick-off to the new series, and I really, really hope it does well, because I really do love Robbie, and Smith is a great writer.
There’s also a back-up, by Smith, Tradd Moore and Val Staples. At the gym, Robbie meets Fitness Guru and Personal Trainer to the Stars, Rhonda Rubens. She is jacked. The other guys in the gym are all excited to see her, and then she gets excited when she sees Robbie’s car. She loves cars, it seems. But, it turns out she’s actually a thief, and she tries to steal the car that night. Of course, she’s trying to steal Ghost Rider’s car. So, it goes as well as you’d expect. Oh, also, she’s a super-person who can slow down time in her general vicinity. This story’s just fun. It’s cute. I like Pyston Nitro, she seems fun. I kinda hope she shows up again. I wouldn’t mind if she and Robbie had a bit of flirtation going on. Moore’s art is what it is. You like it or you don’t. I like it. It has a lot of energy. It’s especially effective for conveying motion. But he also makes Rhonda look so damn ripped and it’s impressive.
I’ll go to the store for: Ghost Rider #1, by Felipe Smith, Danilo Beyruth, Tradd Moore, Jesus Aburtov and Val Staples; Ms. Marvel #13, by G. Willow Wilson, Mirka Andolfo and Ian Herring; New Avengers #18, by Al Ewing, Carlo Barberi and Jesus Aburtov.
I’ll also review: Extraordinary X-Men #16, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos; Inhumans vs. X-Men #0, by Charles Soule, Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown; Old Man Logan #14, by Jeff Lemire, Filipe Andrade and Jordie Bellaire.
So that’s 3 comics I’m picking up, and 3 additional reviews. A very light week.
But great stuff! Ghost Rider is back! Felipe Smith and Robbie Reyes and Gabe! I loved All-New Ghost Rider. I was really disappointed when it ended. And I am so excited for it to be back. And I’m thrilled to see Robbie and Gabe. I loved their relationship. They’re the best brothers. It’s sweet. Ms. Marvel is always a delight, of course, and this issue looks like it’s getting political, and given how pretty the last issue was, I’m happy for more Andolfo. As for New Avengers: I read the preview, and it had me laughing my ass off. So, yeah, it’s gonna be good.
So, yesterday, we got the creative teams and line-ups for X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold. Blue will be by Cullen Bunn and Jorge Molina, and it’ll be about the Original 5, with Magneto as their new teacher. Because Bunn got a lot of praise for how he wrote Magneto, so now he’s milking that for all its worth. It’s an OK idea, I suppose. The kids who still think of Magneto as a straight-up villain now working with him for some reason. There’s something there. But it doesn’t really grab me. Gold will be by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf. It’ll have Kitty leading a team that consists of Storm, Rachel, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Old Man Logan. The intent seems for it to be more a superhero book, not focusing exclusively on mutant stuff.
So, basically, what we’re getting is a throwback. Gold, in particular, is playing very, very heavily on nostalgia for Claremont’s era. The team is the mid-’80s line-up, minus Rogue. Previous articles have already mentioned softball. And now, Guggenheim’s described it as “very much a team superhero book.” So, yeah, this is definitely a throw-back to the mid-’80s X-Men comics. Which is a big part of why I’m so disappointed.
See, Claremont’s run was very, very white. And X-Men Blue and Gold? Also very, very white. Out of 12 characters, there’s one Person of Colour. And one canonically queer character. There are two Jewish characters, but Jews, in North America, generally don’t face the same systemic injustices that people of colour do. To a degree, they have “passing privilege.” So a Jewish character’s presence doesn’t really mean the same as a Latinx character’s presence does, or a First Nations character’s presence does, or an Asian character’s presence does. And here, the X-Men flagship titles are simply omitting POCs. And that pisses me off.
Mutants have long been understood to be a metaphor for marginalized groups. But they fill that metaphor with white people. And have straight white guys write the stories. The X-Men is a franchise where straight white guys write about pretty straight white people complaining about being oppressed. And that’s just insulting. It’s always been that way, and that shit is just not OK any more, and it hasn’t been OK for a long time, but they won’t stop pulling this shit. It’s even worse now. Marvel’s making a real effort to promote diversity, with both characters and creators, and the X-office is running away from that and becoming even less diverse than usual.
I find it so frustrating. I love the X-Men. I love what they stand for. And I wish the people in charge would actually put in the effort needed to truly stand for the same things. I want them to have diverse casts in all the X-titles, especially the flagships. And I want them to bring in some writers from marginalized groups, including on the flagships. And I just don’t get how a franchise built around being a metaphor for marginalized groups can be so frigging awful at representation.
Yeah, Generation X will be diverse. The youth books always are. New Mutants had a diverse cast. Generation X had a diverse cast. New X-Men had a diverse cast. And the characters always get relegated to tertiary books or limbo. Of the New Mutants, Cannonball and Illyana became official X-Men, and joined the casts of flagship X-titles. The rest were kept in X-Force or X-Factor, at best. Generation X was arguably the most successful. Husk and Chamber both became official X-Men in flagship titles . . . that no one actually remembers. And Monet, bucking the trend, has become a young POC in a flagship, by joining Uncanny X-Men . . . which is a villain book. Of the New X-Men, basically none of them have actually amounted to anything. Laura, of course. Pixie became an official X-Man in a flagship title for a little while. Anole’s part of the supporting cast of EXM, but he’s still an X-Man in training, and he’s not a major part of the book. But for the most part, the New X-Men characters don’t matter. This happens over and over. We get a book of X-Men-in-training, and once their book ends, they get tossed into the background, because they’re not allowed to actually become X-Men, because the same goddamn straight white people get all the focus. Dani’s not allowed to be an X-Man, because they need a slot for Nightcrawler, instead.
It just frustrates me, so much, how few shits the X-office actually gives about diversity and representation. They don’t give a shit. They don’t. They don’t care enough to have diverse casts. They sure as hell don’t care enough to have diverse creators. They just. Don’t. Care. And I’m fed up with it. I am done with this shit. I’m not buying Blue or Gold. I have limited funds each month, and quite frankly, I’d rather put my money towards something new. I’d rather support progress, and the X-Men office has made it crystal clear that they don’t want progress. So screw ’em. If Taylor continues to write Laura as Wolverine, I’ll keep buying that. If they bring in a writer who isn’t a straight white guy on any of the remaining books, I’ll get that book. But a straight white guy on a book about a bunch of straight white people? No. To hell with you, X-office. Get your shit together. What you’re doing is not OK.
ALL THAT SAID! If Guggenheim finally has Kitty and Rachel get together as an official couple, that I will support. (Not that there’s the slimmest chance in hell of that happening, of course. They have Iceman, so why would they ever need to have other openly LGBT characters, right? So, despite all the blatant subtext, Kitty, Rachel and Storm will all remain canonically straight. I’m guessing there’ll be ship-teasing between Kitty and Peter, and probably between Storm and Logan, and maybe between Rachel and Kurt. Not a one of them will ever be allowed to be anything other than straight. Because the X-office Just Doesn’t Care.)
My schedule for the week: 12-8:30 Friday, 2:30-10:45 Sunday, 1:45-10:15 Monday. So posts Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday.
And that’s all I’ve got for this week.