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X-Men comics of November 14 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Stan “The Man” Lee. That one hurts. I legitimately took Monday off work to mourn. Celebrity deaths rarely mean much to me, but this one was personal. I’ve been reading Marvel for as long as I can remember. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until my 20s when I actually started reading any of Lee’s work, and I’ve always thought his stuff to be dated. But he was still Stan Lee. Co-creator of the Marvel Universe, and the guy who made comics cool. Even beyond his contributions as a writer, his work as an advocate for comics had a huge impact. He helped turn comics into a community. Marvel’s had a huge influence on who I am. So I owe a lot of who I am to Stan Lee. So, yeah, this one hit me hard. But life goes on. So, comics.

Uncanny X-Men #1, by Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson, Mahmud Asrar, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna. Madrox asks Jean where Kitty is, and then Laura stabs him through the head. And then the whole team is killing Madroxes. But it was all in Jean’s head. She’s sitting at breakfast, where Laura is eating orange slices off her claws. Which can’t be hygienic, but she’s got a healing factor, so what does she care. Meanwhile, Kitty is taking some of the students to fight Forearm. The students aren’t impressed. Nor should they be, Forearm is a loser, but it’s part of his charm. Kitty phases through the plane’s controls, shorting them out, and keeps going, so the plane crashes. In Africa, Storm and Beast are dealing with unnatural rains and a brand-new lake that already has fish and plants. Back in the US, the kids are up against the MLF: Forearm, Samurai, Strobe, Dragoness, and Wildside. Strobe once melted Cable’s metal arm, and Dragoness is probably most notable for flirting with Cannonball. Samurai is most notable for being perhaps the least interesting member of the MLF. During the fight, Forearm says that the clinic they were attacking was making a vaccine to eliminate mutants. He also gets a pretty good shot in on Rockslide.

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I kinda want to see these two insult each other for a few pages.

Nightcrawler, Polaris, and Laura show up to end the fight. Which honestly feels like overkill. But hey, Fastball Special.

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At least the MLF had the sense to know they were boned.

In Manhattan, a politician is giving a speech about mutants being dangerous and the development of a vaccine to prevent the X-gene. Jubilee and Bishop are in the crowd, and I have to assume it’s a reference to Adam Reck’s Bish & Jubez comics. Why Marvel hasn’t hired him to do those as back-ups yet is beyond me. Anyway, I want more Jubilee and Bishop hanging out, they’ve got a good chemistry. Warren and Betsy are also there, and Betsy says that Jubilee is planning on throwing tomatoes, and I love Jubilee so much. Cannonball is there with Northstar, and Jean’s there with Bobby. After the Senator finishes up, Kitty’s supposed to go speak, but she’s still not there, so Madrox goes up instead. And then a swarm of Madroxes pop up. Fight! Psylocke uses telekinetic weapons, a sword and shield. Very English, she’s going back to her roots, that’s good. Since she doesn’t look Asian any more, she’s not using Asian weapons.

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This is pretty sexy, honestly.

And then things go from bad to worse, as they usually do. Soooo . . . kinda meh? It’s not bad. The mystery being developed is mysterious. Some fun character dynamics get touched on, there are some good character beats. There are some good jokes, as all three writers are funny. I really like Asrar’s art here. Asrar’s a weird artist for me. I go back and forth on him. Sometimes, I don’t like it. Sometimes, I do. This is one of the times I do. It looks really good. Rosenberg’s colours help a lot. She’s fantastic. I don’t know if she’s been nominated for an Eisner yet, but I guarantee, she’ll be getting those noms soon. She’s too good not to. Anyway, on the whole, I’m reserving judgment. This comis is by no means bad. It didn’t necessarily thrill me, but it didn’t turn me off. The test is going to be how I feel by the third issue, I think.

There are also back-ups. All have colours by Guru-eFX and letters by Joe Caramagna. They’re just showing what the characters were up to leading up to the rally. A Bishop one, by Matthew Rosenberg and Mirko Colak. He’s in civilian clothes, staking out a building where Dark Beast is holed up. Some guys sneak in and there’s a boom so Bishop runs in, but the action’s over by the time he gets there, and Dark Beast is gone. Bishop keeps searching, and a couple days later, finds Sugar Man. Hey! I actually like that guy. And now he’s dead. For now. I’m sure someone will bring him back at some point. Honestly pretty neutral on this story. It’s a decent enough Bishop story, I suppose.

A Jean story, by Kelly Thompson and Ibraim Roberson. Jean’s in a coffee shop, waiting for someone, and an old lady sits beside her, and they chat.

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She’s a ray of sunshine.

Jean agrees that the world sucks, but also thinks there’s still hope. The old lady disappears, and Storm joins Jean for coffee and disaster.

An Armour and Anole story, by Ed Brisson, Mark Bagley, and Andrew Hennessy. They’re sent into the sewers, and they’re pretty bitter about it. They complain about feeling unappreciated, and they’re right. They deserve better. All the New X-Men do. It’s been a long time since the X-office has given a shit about them. Anyway, Dark Beast attacks them, then runs off. And Anole and Armour get called in to help with the situation that Jean, Storm and Bishop are dealing with.

An epilogue, by Kelly Thompson, Mark Bagley, and Andrew Hennessy. The situation is dealt with, Anole and Armour are pissy when they get sent back to the sewers, Bishop is worried about his disaster-predicting thing no long working, Jean is upset over the death of the woman she’s talked to in the coffee shop, and I’m preeeeetty sure X-Man spies on her from the shadows. That’s my guess, seeing as we know Age of X-Man is the next event, and both Dark Beast and Sugar Man appeared and were scared of the one hunting them. Anyway, as a whole, the story is fine. It’s fine. Whatever.

Domino #8, by Gail Simone, David Baldeon, Jesus Aburtov, and Clayton Cowles. On a totally random note: There’s a pretty decent chance that Gail Simone and Stjepan Seijic are going to do a Wonder Woman/Tomb Raider comic. Seijic posted some little cartoons of Wonder Woman ad Lara Croft flirting, Simone said she’d write the team-up comic, and it really seems like they might do it. But anyway, Domino! She’s not happy about having been hired to bring back a dude in a box, so she lets Morbius out, which results in a fight. Domino lets him drink some of her blood so he’ll be strong enough to tell them what’s going on. Vampires are infecting themselves with Morbius’ blood to spread his genetic disease among the human population in order to wipe out humanity. Which is, uh, not a good plan? Anyway, the four head to Barcelona to stop the plan. It’s a fun comic. There are a couple moments that are clearly meant to be tense but which aren’t tense at all, and which have zero tension to them. Those moments are disappointing. But Morbius is handled well. Awful but with a certain tragic nobility.

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You have to respect his honesty, right?

As for the art . . . well. I get why people don’t like it. It’s definitely odd, with long faces and proportions and all that. But Baldeon drew the women in a hotel room with their shoes off. Do you know how rare that is? For an artist to say, “Hey, they’re in a hotel room, maybe they shouldn’t be wearing shoes.” Because what kind of maniac walks around a hotel room with their shoes on? So I respect and appreciate Baldeon for thinking of that. Also, he got to draw a nude beach. He did not fill it with people the readers want to see nude. Again, that kind of authenticity helps.

And that’s actually all the X-stuff this week. So, the rest.

Ms. Marvel #36, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna. Flashback! To the Silk Road in 1257! Side note: I’m waiting for the completion of a graphic novel about the Silk Road, A Voyage To Panjikant, by Marguerite Dabaie. She’d planned on releasing it a year ago, but there have been some delays. Health issues, other paid work, and if I’m not mistaken, her first book, The Hookah Girl, got picked up by a publisher, so I’m sure she had to do some work there. Anyway, I’m not upset about the delay, shit happens, and she’s still working on it, so it’s all cool. But Ms. Marvel. Yeah, this is a flashback, with Sir Brunello and Sir Joshua, mercenaries acting as guards for Lady Zoe and Lady Kamilah on the Silk Road. And they come across a fight between an Inhuman and a Skrull. And this is a really cute, sweet story. I love it. It’s so good.

Unstoppable Wasp #2, by Jeremy Whitley, Gurihiru, and Joe Caramagna. Bobbi and Ying working out science problems while sparring is wonderful. Nadia makes terrible puns while fighting a bull statue. And Nadia and Janet have their weekly date night. It involves a fancy French restaurant, followed by wrestling. It’s a great comic. Really cute and fun, but there’s some real drama going on, too. Also, Bobby and Ying bonding is really nice to see. They make a good pairing. It might be fun if Bobbi took on Ying as a protege, continuing to train her in being a scientist-superhero.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #38, by Ryan North, Derek Charm, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Apparently, some urchins have been found to have lived for 200 years. Neat!

Exiles #10, by Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Muntsa Vicente, and Joe Caramagna. Caliph Doom! More Thousand-And-One Nights fun. I might want to read that sometime, actually. Anyway, I still find this comic fun. It’s not great, but it’s enjoyable.

Captain America #5, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Joe Caramagna. Cap beats the crap out of Taskmaster. Which is impressive. He also recognizes Selene. He does his homework, even when it’s X-Men villains. Good for him. Good comic. Coates is building an interesting story, and he writes Steve well.

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X-Men comics of November 7 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My friend has a vlog. And apparently, some of her viewers want me to start my own vlog, and no, they absolutely do not want me to start my own vlog. They 100% do not want to watch my vlog. I would just talk about the X-Men. Entire episodes would be dedicated to me banging on the table and shouting about which X-Men are gay. (It’s all of them. All the X-Men are gay. Every single X-Man has been inside every other X-Man.) Anyway, I’m going to talk about the X-Men now.

X-Men Red #10, by Tom Taylor, Roge Antonio, Rain Beredo, and Cory Petit. It opens with “Jean” telling off humanity, and honestly, I kinda agree?

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I mean, as a nihilist, yeah, this is accurate.

A South Korean Helicarrier commander orders the Helicarrier to Genosha, to fight a mutant threat, and a dozen commercial flights also head there. They’re under “Jean’s” control. Obviously, it’s Cassandra Nova, and she expects Jean and her team to go fight here. Jean wants to find another way. The news talks about what’s happening, and I really, really love that Taylor presents the news as not being anti-mutant, with a scrawl showing some pro-mutant stories. I love the way Taylor makes clear that not all humans want to kill mutants. That there are regular people who support mutant rights. Anyway, Jean calls Stark to help develop a way to fight Nova, and then it’s off to save the world. With an ingenious plan. Jean’s very very clever. And has friends. This is so good. I love the rescue plan developed. This is, far and away, the most positive team X-title in a long time. The news reports defending mutants, Jean’s determination to save the day without violence, in order to show the world who the X-Men are. There’s so much here that’s so great. Good art, too. I’m really going to miss this series, it’s been really good and it deserved to run longer.

Weapon X #25, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Luca Pizzari, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. Stryker’s still alive. Weapon X-Force kills him again. But he returns, since he’s still got his deal with the devil in place, so he swears he’ll get his revenge on them. So Weapon X-Force decide they need to get help from someone with some pull in Hell. Cut to Washington, where a Congressman is in electoral trouble after a video leaked of him in Vegas, and he asks for help from Azazel. Ugh, that guy. Also, Pak and Van Lente are not subtle, nor do they need to be:

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Republicans cheat to win.

I’m sure there’s going to be people bitching about this scene, about shoving politics into a comic. But I think it’s worth remembering that the Republican Party is a fascist party who lie, cheat and steal in order to win elections. Screw the Republican Party. Anyway! Mystique poses as his assistant to get close enough to ask his help. But Weapon X-Force gets impatient and bust in with threats.

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Poor Mystique, she deserves better teammates.

The fight goes poorly for them. In the course of the fight, Azazel also says that Sabretooth’s inversion hasn’t redeemed him and his evil’s all over his soul. I hate to admit this – I hate so much to admit this – but Azazel’s actually pretty fun here. I still think he’s a shitty character. I still think the story that introduced him was one of the worst stories in X-Men history, and I still think Aaron should’ve left him in the garbage heap. But Pak, Van Lente and Pizzari do a good job here, and give him a charm and menace he never had before, despite the efforts of other creative teams. These guys are good at what they do. I’m not sure it would work in any other book, either. This is an over-the-top comic that kinda encourages turning your brain off and just enjoying the ride. So Azazel is less irritating than he would be in a more straightforward comic. It also helps that Nightcrawler’s not involved. Mystique’s history with Azazel is obviously a big thing, but there’s no moralizing going on, there’s no nefarious plot of Azazel that needs to be stopped. He’s just doing his thing, and it’s so much more entertaining than some big scheme to try to take over the world or whatever. He just kinda wants to mess with people. On a personal note, I still headcanon Azazel as an actual demon, with most of that awful Austen story being Azazel entertaining himself by seeing how much bullshit he could get people to believe. (“I told them angels and demons were mutants! And they bought it! Priceless!”) The art’s great. Some excellent fight scenes. Also really good facial expressions on Mystique (who’s also drawn with pupils, which is unusual to see). But mostly, it’s those fights. Much as I hate Azazel on a conceptual level, Pak, Van Lente and Pizzari continue to make Weapon X a blast.

X-23 #6, by Mariko Tamaki, Georges Duarte, Chris O’Halloran, and Cory Petit. Gabby is undercover at a high school, posing as Roberta Boford. There’s a reason she’s undercover at a high school. The reason is less important than the fact that she’s there. She’s put a lot of work into her cover identity. Meanwhile, Laura is also undercover at the school, as Coach Claudia. They quickly find out the science club is led by an evil girl, who has a big robot, and whose evil plan is totally irrelevant.

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Voice of a generation, honestly.

Thus, robot fight. And Laura beats it up with basketballs. And this issue is straight-up ridiculous and I love it. Gabby is her usual delightful self. Laura looked like she was entirely too into character as a gym teacher. It’s a quick done-in-one, and while I would’ve loved seeing it stretched into a two-parter, it loses nothing by being a one-off. It uses its space efficiently, moving the plot along quickly without it feeling rushed, there’s some great humour, and it’s great. Just a nice breather issue between arcs, having some fun. Honestly, stretching it into two issues would’ve meant a lot of filler, it in no way needed a second issue. I just would’ve been happy reading more of Gabby and Laura undercover in a high school. It’s a fun premise, and Tamaki and Duarte have fun doing it.

Iceman #3, by Sina Grace, Nathan Stockman, Federico Blee, and Joe Sabino. Street Cart Named Desire Festival. That’s a pretty good pun. Based on Google, it doesn’t seem to be a real thing, so I think Grace is going to have to organize it now. Sorry, guy, but that’s the cost of coming up with a good pun name for something. Anyway, it’s a street card festival, which means food. Bobby’s there on a date. Peter Parker’s also there with MJ, and Angelica Jones is there with a guy named Dirk. She’s talking about a book she describes as “like Eat, Pray, Love, but with pirates,” and honestly I want to know what book she’s talking about. Her date doesn’t read. She should dump him. They do start talking about sports, they both like hockey. She’s from New Jersey, so I’m guessing she’s probably a Devils fan. Bobby and Angel say hi to each other, and Bobby’s date, Carlos, recognizes Angel as Firestar. Bobby and Carlos smooch, but then a car gets thrown, so Bobby and Angel rush off to fight an ice golem. Carlos almost gets killed, but Spider-Man saves him, to make the Amazing Friends re-union complete. Fight fight fight, and Firestar has no appreciation for classic comedy.

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13 forever!

Anyway, the ice golem was one of the Morlocks from the first issue, with some tech that transformed him. In the aftermath, Angel’s dumped by text, and Bobby dumps Carlos, and Peter gives a talk about the difficulties of finding love as a superhero. Anyway, yeah, this was fun. I never watched Amazing Friends, so I don’t have the nostalgia for it that others do, but I like when superheroes are friends. All three know each other, and they like each other. Spider-Man and Iceman share a love of bad jokes, and their team-ups are always painful as a result. Firestar makes an effective straightman for them. I liked the end of the issue, with the three of them just hanging out, talking about dating. I would read an entire issue of that, honestly. Related to that, Angel’s date seemed like a douche. In fairness to him, he did bring up something from her profile, and asked her about it. (Her profile says she’s into fitness, and he asked her about sports.) So I’ll give him credit for not just talking about himself, and for trying to find a common ground for them to talk about. I just dislike him for not reading. Reading’s great! I recently finished “P.S. I Still Love You,” by Jenny Han, and I enjoyed it. Really good YA novel, worth checking out. It’s the sequel to “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” which I haven’t read, but which I probably should. Anyway, I highly recommend reading, I’d rank it way above dating, dating is terrible. The one problem with this issue is that it reminded me how much I miss having Firestar in an ongoing series. She’s a cool character, I’d love to see her used more. But I say that about a lot of characters, so it’s tough. Regardless, this was a very enjoyable issue. Even Stockman’s art bothered me less than usual. I’m not a fan of his style, it’s entirely a personal taste thing, but it didn’t look bad to me here.

Shatterstar #2, by Tim Seeley, Carlos Villa, Juan Vlasco, flashback art by Gerardo Sandoval, colours by Carlos Lopez, letters by Cory Petit. Horus IV, a world where the people used to travel to other worlds, pretending to be gods, and engaging in combat. They’ve stopped traveling, but they still fight. But the people are bored and pay no attention to the gladiatorial contests. Luckily, Gradmaster’s there to entertain them, by airing the adventures of Shatterstar. Shatterstar needs help getting his tenants back from his ex, so he goes to his other ex, Rictor, who’s not happy to see him. Flashback to Mojoworld, when Shatterstar and Gringrave were a team, and also lovers. Also, Gringrave wore a wig. Huh. I honestly didn’t expect that. Also, I didn’t get last issue that she’s black, but it’s pretty clear in the flashback, she’s a black woman. Neat. In the present, Shatterstar asks if Rictor knows anyone who might have agreed to work for Mojo to capture the tenants. Rictor’s been operating an underground railroad for mutants, so he hears things. Including things about this guy:

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I will always love the weirdness of superhero comics.

And then there’s this and goddamn the Grandmaster is a hell of a narrator.

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I hope Shatterstar and Rictor get back together.

Also, Dean Drukman, the Dockmaster, is really good at his job. Give the guy credit, he may be helping villains engage in kidnapping, but he takes his job seriously. Gringrave wants to fight Shatterstar and Rictor, but Drukman tells her that stopping them is up to him and his security. This is phenomenal work. There’s a surprising tenderness, one you wouldn’t expect of Shatterstar, and that unexpected element really elevates the comic. There’s some great examination of the relationship between Shatterstar and Rictor, the way Rictor was the first to treat Shatterstar as something other than a weapon, to look inside him and help him be a person. They were always a good couple, but this is arguably the first time anyone’s tried to really make clear why they’re a good couple, and to do something with them as a couple. There’d been subtext for a while, before PAD decided to just make it text, and he did have some relationship drama (with Shatterstar being poly, or at least wanting an open relationship), but Seeley in this issue does a deep examination of them, and really sells them as a couple, even if they are currently broken up. I’m really hoping they do get back together. A key part of this arc is obviously going to be Shatterstar coming to terms with his past in the form of Gringrave, and probably try to mature him a little so he’s more emotionally equipped for a relationship. Regardless, Seeley and Villa (and Sandoval) are telling a hell of a story here. Great art, too. Sandoval’s rougher style works effectively for the flashbacks, to when Shatterstar was a rougher person. Villa’s style is modern and cool, and the fight scene’s good. All in all, this book is killing it.

Typhoid Fever: X-Men, by Clay McLeod Chapman, Will Robson, Danilo S. Beyruth, Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Travis Lanham. I should note first that I haven’t read the Spider-Man one. But hey, I’m sure that won’t matter. Flashback to a young Mary finding a dead bird, trying to make it move, and she does! And also lights it on fire. In the present, flaming birds everywhere, until Iceman encases them in ice. The X-Men are there for Zachary, who is apparently the guy in the wheelchair she’s pushing along. He’s amplifying Typhoid’s power. There’s an implied history between Typhoid and the X-Men. She tries to seduce Iceman, but yeah, that doesn’t work, obviously. So instead she burns him. Then Spider-Man shows up and helps her. And she turns the world into a soap opera.

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She could do worse.

She manipulates the minds of the X-Men, and holds off Jean’s attempts to get into her own mind. This is, uh, OK, I guess? I don’t know, Typhoid doesn’t feel right to me here. Not just her power levels, but her personality. Nocenti’s Typhoid is he only take that’s ever really resonated with me. When guys write her, she never ends up feeling authentic. The first time I read the character was in Joe Kelly’s Deadpool run in the ’90s, and she was pretty cool there, because she was so twisted. But having since read Nocenti’s Daredevil, and a couple other Nocenti comics that featured Typhoid? Holy shit, she is a fascinating character. And so much of what makes her so compelling often ends up being lost when men write her. They might focus on the split personality, or the sexiness, or her just being a supervillain. But so often, they end up leaving out the feminism, and that’s the case here. Chapman focuses on her having been a soap star, making her downright obsessed with it. And it takes so much of the bite out of her. It downplays the elements of the character that act as social commentary, in favour of “bitches be crazy.” I’d love to see what another female writer would do with Typhoid. Can you imagine Chelsea Cain writing Typhoid Mary? Hot damn, that would be hot. Or Leah Williams would probably do a cutting take. Hell, get Jeremy Whitley on it, I’m sure he’d know to play up the right elements of the character, the things that make her so fascinating. This comic does not. Also, I hate the art. I hate Robson’s style. Hate it so much.

And non-X-Men, Champions #26, by Jim Zub, Max Dunbar, Nolan Woodard, and Clayton Cowles. The Master killed a dragon. Pretty impressive. Ms. Marvel holds her own against Modred the Mystic, also impressive. This arc is so cool. Zub and Dunbar are having a lot of fun with this D&D tale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Men comics of October 31 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So I read Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s really good. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend. She does such great world-building, and creates such human characters. Also, Okorafor’s proud enough of her Igbo heritage to call out the worst parts of it. Related to that: If you’re the kind of person who appreciates content warnings, then this book has damned near all of them. It goes into some very dark territory that’s deeply uncomfortable. But it’s also got love and friendship and hope. It’s a good novel. Very much worth checking out. Anyway, happy Halloween, here’s comics.

Extermination #4, by Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, Ario Anindito, Dexter Vines, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Sabino. Ahab prepares to attack Searebro, while the X-Men at the mansion are still recovering from being attacked. Cannonball’s taken Shatterstar there, while the rest of the team has found Young Cable. After Jean ends the fight, she demands answers of him, and he explains that Old Cable was risking the timeline by letting the O5 stay in the present, and if they don’t go back, Ahab’s going to kill one of them.

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Also, Mimic’s still alive. Not happy about having his wings taken from him, but wanting to help how he can. And Ahab reaches Searebro. And there’s a shocking last-page cliffhanger. We’ll see how that goes. This is OK. The confrontation with Young Cable is good. Teen Jean forcing answers out of him. I do have one major complaint. Rachel’s been reverted to being a Hound for Ahab. That is really messed-up, but worse, the nature of the story means it doesn’t actually amount to anything. It’s a huge deal, but the story does nothing with it. We should see her struggling. We should get an indication of how horrifying and traumatic it is for her. But nope, nothing. And I get it, there’s limited space. But Brisson didn’t have to have her turned into a Hound again. He could’ve had her get hurt when Ahab attacked the school. And then have her show up again in the final issue to help beat him. I wish more writers cared more about how the stories they write would affect more of the characters in them. Ugh. Other than that, yeah, this just isn’t as character-driven as I prefer. That’s me. The plot moves forward at a brisk pace, and there are some pretty good character moments – Brisson’s clearly got a lot of love for X-Force, and going by this issue, I’d wager he might even like them more than the main X-Men, as they definitely get the best moments. For example, this line from Boom-Boom:

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Spoiler alert: She’s not wrong.

The art’s good. No complaints there. I still love the pink used for Jean’s telekinesis. It’s a good shade of pink. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this story, it’s just not one that I’m particularly digging, and that’s down more to personal taste than anything else. I’ve enjoyed objectively worse stories.

X-Men Black: Emma Frost, by Leah Williams, Chris Bachalo, inks by Faucher, Vey, Livesay, Townsend, Mendoza and Bachalo, colours by Antonio Fabela, Dan Brown, Carlos Lopez, and Chris Bachalo, letters by Cory Petit. Wow. 6 inkers and 4 colour artists. Usually a sign of incredibly tight deadlines. Anyway, Emma meets Rogue and a few other X-Men in Malmart. Because Rogue thought it would be funny. And it is. Emma is perfectly out of place. It’s great. Anyway, Emma wants their help to destroy the Hellfire Club. And man, Williams writes a pretty great Emma.

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Spot on impressions.

While the X-Men attack various Hellfire Club chapters around the world, Emma goes where Sebastian Shaw is, and has some telepathic fun with the people in the office building. It’s a great sequence. Also, she uses her own diamond hand to amplify a laser to cut through an electronic lock, which is a pretty brilliant use of her power. Then, the confrontation with Shaw. Which is pretty epic. And goes in a very cool direction. This was one hell of a story. Williams’ Emma is cold, cunning, ruthless, but still cares about protecting those she believes deserve protection. She’ll do terrible things for a good cause. This story is Emma as an anti-villain, and it’s a perfectly sensible position for her to be in. I loved Emma as a hero, when she taught Generation X, or joined the X-Men. But I think that she also works perfectly as an anti-villain. Because she has the capacity and the willingness to do terrible things. She doesn’t have the same restraints as the other X-Men. But she also wants to make the world better. That’s how Williams depicts her here, and it’s so great. Also, the snark. Williams does wonderful snark. I’m not often a fan of Bachalo, but I do like his work a lot here. Maybe it’s the Gen X fan in me giving me a soft spot for his Emma, but I liked having him do this one. He gives her a lot of confidence, and an utter disregard for the harm she leaves in her wake. Leah Williams has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason, and if Marvel has any sense, they’ll give her an ongoing X-title.

There’s also the last past of the Apocalypse back-up, by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Geraldo Borges, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit. He’s back to normal, and he’s figured out that his DNA has been infused into the island he’s on, hence the advanced evolution. So he destroys it all. Pretty good story, overall.

Multiple Man #5, by Matthew Rosenberg, Andy MacDonald, Tamra Bonvillain, Travis Lanham. An evil future Madrox and his army of dupes is in the X-Mansion, where he poorly explains what’s going on. While he does, Bishop squeezes a trigger that keeps blowing up future dupes. But then the good Madrox and the heroic dupes re-appear in what had been the future but which has been blown up. They guess that Bishop’s blowing up futures. Back in the present the X-Men fight the army of dupes. The Prime Madrox finds his traitor dupe, who injects himself with a serum to make himself the Prime. And they fight, and then start absorbing each other. And things continue to be weird. And not really great. The end of the issue does show what the point of showing where the dupes got their powers was, sort of. Actually, not really. It still didn’t need to show all that. So that whole thing still ends up feeling like pointless filler. So much of this series amounted to nothing. New Mutants: Dead Souls was a well-crafted comic that pissed me off for what it wasn’t. This was a meandering mess of a comic that irritated me for what it was. There was less of the detachment that made the first few issues so boring, though there was still some. Honestly, this final issue might have been fine if the rest of the mini had been good. But because the rest of the mini was trash, this finale comes out as a wet fart.

Old Man Logan #50, by Ed Brisson, Ibraim Roberson, Neil Edwards, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Logan taunts Maestro while trying to inject himself with the Regenix so he can fight, but that doesn’t work. Maestro beats the crap out of him. Joshua, the kid who’d tried to help him, is taken to a doctor, having been shot by another guy in town for helping Logan. Joshua dies, and a woman finally has enough.

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Hell of a speech.

Later, Maestro is sitting on his bed, and a woman offers to help him relax. So, earlier in the arc, it was shown that Maestro’s taken some of the women of town for his harem. I made clear why I hated that. This? I’m fine with this. There will always be people who are attracted to power, and who will do what they have to to be close to it. That includes women who offer themselves to tyrants. I have no objection to that. It’s implied rape that I object to, which the earlier issue included. Maestro is told about the rumblings of revolution, and yells at the town while standing on Logan’s head. The people attack, as a distraction so Angela can get the Regenix to Logan. So, fight time! It’s a pretty good fight. I did like seeing the town rise up against Maestro, the small number of people fighting back against tyranny. That’s pretty authentic. There will always be people who won’t bow before tyrants, even as some will throw in completely with tyrants. So I did like that. The Logan and Maestro stuff, I didn’t really care. Even Maestro said he was tired of the fight. At least it was drawn well. The art in the issue is good, even if the characters bored me.

What if: Magik, by Leah Williams, Felipe Andrade, Chris O’Halloran, and Clayton Cowles. Dr. Strange finds a 15-year-old Illyana about to kill a would-be rapist.

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None more goth.

Once Dr. Strange uses his magic to scan her, he decides to help her, despite her repeated attempts to teleport away. She agrees to be his apprentice, and she learns how to wield her magic in a positive way. She struggles with creation magic, but does finally manage to create something, right when Belasco finds her. This is also a great comic. Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure. Illyana is so broken and it’s tragic, but she’s also pretty snarky. Strange is snarky, too, and they bounce off each other really well. I’d love to see them interact more. Their relationship in this issue is pretty heartwarming. Strange is such an awkward father-figure for Illyana and it’s really sweet. Belasco, when he shows up, is pretty menacing. But this comic’s mostly about Illyana dealing with a traumatic childhood and trying to get past it, to stop seeing herself as wicked because of what was done to her. There’s one scene, in particular, that gets extremely dark. Though it also has one of the funniest lines of the issue. Several of the funniest lines, actually. Andrade’s art is going to be divisive. A lot of people won’t like it. I do. I think it’s a really cool art style, one that portrays tone and mood really well. I like it a lot. As I said above: Marvel better realize what they’ve got with Leah Williams, and they’d better give her more work. Signing her to an exclusive contract would be a very smart move, because you can bet your ass that DC’s got their eyes on her, and if Marvel isn’t careful, DC’s going to poach her away from them.

And non-X-Men.

West Coast Avengers #3, by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli, Triona Farrell, and Joe Caramagna. Gwenpool no longer has her powers. BRODOK turns out to be an incel. This comic is amazing and you should read it.

Black Panther #5, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Daniel Acuna, and Joe Sabino. The rebellion has spent 5 years living on an ice planet; presumably, Coates was watching a lot of Star Wars when he wrote this arc. Nakia visits T’Challa, telling him they need to be ready to fight again. They also discuss their feelings for each other. This is the most character-driven issue of the series so far, and also the best. All about Nakia trying to convince T’Challa of who he is. It’s good stuff.

And I got last week’s issue of Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur. It is delightful.

X-Men comics of October 24 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’ve had a cold the past few days. I bought a box of Kleenex on Thursday night, and it’s almost finished. So it’s been a fun week. I actually left work early twice (both approved, they don’t count as sick days, which is cool), so I’m going to have a pretty small paycheck in a couple weeks. Dammit. Anyway, here’s comics.

X-Men Red #9, by Tom Taylor, Roge Antontio, Rain Beredo, and Cory Petit. Rachel, possessed by Cassanda Nova, is on her way to Jean, and Jean is getting ready. Also, she tells Kurt she knew he was with Rachel, and Kurt admits he didn’t want to tell her because it seemed weird, and Jean just says the X-Men have gotten weirder than that. And she’s so right. It’s part of what I love about the X-Men. Every time you come across something totally bizarre, you remember something else and go, “Huh, OK, this actually isn’t so bad, honestly.” For example, Jean tells Gabby that, as Phoenix, she destroyed planets. Gabby relates:

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And then her pet wolverine expressed his appreciation for her.

Then Ororo sasses Jean about her shoulder pads, and they hug. I’ve missed their friendship. It’s a very sweet friendship they have. Jean then heads to Genosha to free Rachel, which means a fight! Meanwhile, Laura, Gabby, Trinary, and Gentle try to battle negative stories about mutants by finding positive ones. Gentle also tries to ask Trinary out, but he’s terrible at it, and Trinary misses his cues, and it’s pretty cute, but Gabby and Laura help. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded, like, another year of the two being adorably awkward, but alas, the book only has a couple more issues anyway. Anyway, Jean convinces Cassandra to release Rachel by surrendering herself. And calls Rachel her daughter! Which is important. Jean actually long ago accepted Rachel. We don’t see them together anywhere near often enough, but Jean does consider Rachel her daughter. Some writers forget that, focus on the earlier awkwardness, but they got over that and now they’re family. Also, Rachel hits Cassandra with one hell of a punch.

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Daaaaaamn.

That is one of the most brutal shots I’ve seen in a superhero comic and I love it. I am so proud of Rachel. Also, the conversation at the end of the issue is so good. This is a great issue. The best part of the issue is Jean saying Cassandra is afraid. She speaks with such hope and optimism, and it’s really nice. I really like that. Also, the X-Men pushing positive stories about mutants is a cool idea. Gabby searches for videos of mutants with kitties and puppies. I want to see some of those videos. But yeah, that’s the kind of thing the X-Men should do. They should be trying to use the media to promote a better view of mutants. So I like that they’re doing it here. A lot of the cast does get little to do here, sadly. A lot of them never really got much to do. Nature of team books, I suppose, especially ones with relatively short runs. If Taylor had another 12 issues, he might have done more with the rest of the cast, as opposed to just the Jean focus the book had. Oh well. The art’s good. I’m not familiar with Antonio, but it looks like he’s done some DC stuff, and he does very good work. It’s mostly a straightforward superhero style, it’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, but it’s clean and clear, and he does a great job with facial expressions. And, of course, there’s that awesome punch. Man, I’m going to miss this comic when it’s gone. But it was an X-Men title that presented hope that things can change for mutants, and showed humans who don’t want to kill every single mutant. So of course it couldn’t last. Gotta go back to the status quo where every single human on the entire planet wants to personally murder any mutant they come across.

Return of Loganverine #2, by Charles Soule, Declan Shalvey, Laura Martin, and Joe Sabino. Logan and Ana are on a speedboat, trying to catch up to the speedboat some Soteira guys are on with Ana’s son. Logan speculates they may be planning on using Ana’s son to spread a biological weapon, which is exactly what you want to tell a worried mother. Logan’s great at being reassuring. A couple Soteira guys jump off the boat to ambush Logan. Omega Red and Daken. Ana shoots Omega Red off the boat with a spear gun, and good on her. Then it’s Logan vs. Daken.

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Daken doesn’t need to speak to be a smart-ass.

It’s a nasty fight, which ends with Logan burning Daken and throwing him off the boat. Though he severs a fuel line in the process. Which is a great idea when you’re chasing someone on the open sea with no land in sight. He’s a great tactician, that Logan. Also, Ana smooches him, because of course she does. Bleh. The way women can never get enough of Logan bores me. But whatever. The issue. There’s not much to it. There’s virtually no plot development, since the whole issue is spent just chasing the bad guys. The fight is cool, but it doesn’t really accomplish anything. This issue ultimately feels pointless. The art’s nice, and the dialogue’s not bad, but nothing actually happens here. Logan doesn’t learn anything more about his past, we don’t learn anything new about Soteira, nothing actually happens. I care little enough about Logan’s return as it is, and this does nothing to change my mind.

X-Men Black: Juggernaut, by Robbie Thompson, Shawn Crystal, Rico Renzi, and Joe Caramagna. Juggernaut attacks the school, and finds the original X-Men, in their original costumes. He deduces that Xavier is making him see things, and then he sees a kid and chases him, with the X-Men having no clue what’s going on. Turns out Juggernaut’s actually in the Temple of Cyttorak, in Thailand, and he’s weak. His inner child tells him to let all his rage free, to make him stronger. Then he fights Cyttorak, which has happened so many times before.

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Juggernaut vs, Cyttorak, round 87.

I’ve read this story before. Cyttorak questions Cain’s worthiness to be his avatar, Cain beats Cyttorak up, Cyttorak agrees to let Cain keep being his avatar. This one doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, either. It’s probably the weakest of the Black issues so far. Yeah yeah, Juggernaut’s angry, great insight. We don’t get the social commentary of the Magneto issue, the funny sincerity of the Mojo issue, or the fascinating horror of the Mystique issue. This issue’s a little trippy, and that’s cool, but it still doesn’t bring anything particularly interesting to the table. I do really like the art, though. I like Crystal’s style a lot. It’s got a roughness to it, for lack of a better term, and I really dig it. It looks so cool. And it does work for a Juggernaut story, really gets across a sense of rage and violence. The colours work towards that purpose, too, with a loooot of red. So visually, it’s a great comic. It’s just not a terribly interesting story. Though, admittedly, part of that very well may just be because I have read similar stories before. Someone who hasn’t read those stories might be more excited.

And more of the Apocalypse back-up, by Zac Thompson, Ronnie Nadler, Geraldo Borges, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit. Apocalypse is an ape now, in a cage, with hunters examining him as a new specimen. A month later, the aliens experiment on another of the cavemen. Apocalypse tries to escape, and hurts some of the dudes, but gets his ass kicked and then gets put on the altar for experimentation. This part’s pretty cool. Really neat twist near the end. Apocalypse shows how cunning he is, his ability to adapt and to do what’s needed to survive. It’s pretty cool.

And I wanted to get Moon Girl, but my shop was short, so I’ll need to wait for them to get another copy. Should be next week.

X-Men comics of October 17 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So I’ve finally worked up the nerve to email another therapist, since the first one didn’t work out. She didn’t have any openings that fit my schedule. So I’ve tried another one. I keep telling myself I don’t need to see a therapist, but the fact that emailing one is so hard for me kinda feels like proof that I probably should see one. Anyway, hopefully it helps me. But for now, comics!

Astonishing X-Men #16, by Matthew Rosenberg, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Clayton Cowles. Piotr’s being tortured, and Ali’s either angry or having an orgasm.

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It’s Greg Land, so it’s hard to tell.

That one guy is a philistine for not liking Dazzler, but that’s admittedly a pretty good burn. Ali pretends to be choking, and one of the dudes opens the chamber, because he clearly doesn’t watch enough TV. Come on, guy. Her escape attempt doesn’t last long, but Hank offers to work for ONE if they spare Ali. Meanwhile, Alex convinces the Reavers to agree to an alliance against ONE. But first they need to dig around in Alex’s brain to find something that’ll help them find where the ONE HQ is. So Havok, Warpath and the Reavers attack the government to rescue the other X-Men. In the process, there are Sentinels, and Colossus pulls a Fastball Special with Warpath. Who can already fly. So there’s fighting and quipping galore. It’s a fun comic. All sorts of poor decisions get made, which is always entertaining. The dialogue if snappy and the plot moves at a brisk pace, with some interesting twists here and there. And then there’s the art. I’m just not going to talk about it, OK? It’s Greg Land. If you don’t know my opinion on him yet, then I don’t know what to tell you. If this series had a better artist, it’d be great. As it is, it’s only OK. Ali’s a badass, Hank is annoyed at people thinking he’s changed sides, Piotr doesn’t get much to do here, Warpath hates everyone, and Alex is a lovable loser. Fun dynamics. Alex is best when he’s happy, or happy-ish. Writers sometimes try to make him serious and intense, but that just makes him Cyclops-lite. He’s better when he’s not that, and Rosenberg takes him about as far from being Scott as possible. Which makes for a better read.

Mr. and Mrs. X #4, by Kelly Thompson, Oscar Bazaldua, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Sabino. Gambit’s been thoroughly searched for any lockpicks. But Rogue had one in her mouth. So he uses it to free himself, and then frees her. They find Xandra nearby, and she switches back from egg form, then uses her telepathy to make Rogue and Gambit look different. Xandra also remains adorable. They steal a ship, which is attacked by the Starjammers. They land, and Xandra knows Cerise, from all the time Cerise spent singing to her as a baby. Xandra offers to fix Rogue’s power, but Rogue refuses, and I really like her reasoning.

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That’s some really good reasoning from Rogue.

I like that it’s all about ensuring Rogue has agency. Thompson rejects the idea of an easy fix for Rogue, or of someone else fixing her, in favour of Rogue figuring it out for herself. Which is definitely true to Rogue’s character. And Gambit is very understanding and supportive and it’s sweet. Then the Imperial Guard attack. And Deathbird shows up. And it’s all very complicated. Another solid issue. Xandra is adorable and I hope we see more of her in the future. (The arc’s not over, we’ll see more of her next issue, but after that, I hope we see her in later stories, and not just in this book.) I do wish we got more Cerise, especially since she was apparently the one who primarily cared for Xandra. The scene where the two reunite is very sweet. There’s a lot of fun stuff, a lot of sweet stuff, some exciting action. And Rogue and Gambit work a a couple. Thompson has really sold me on them. Gambit is really sweet to her and I appreciate that. Not that he’s not also dirty with her, but he knows when to keep it appropriate. And, of course, Rogue is a badass. And I love the art. This issue has a spread of Gambit freeing himself from the shackles, and it looks good. But Rogue beating the crap out of Titan is really cool. He also does such a good job on facial expressions. He and Thompson do such good work together. I love this series.

Old Man Logan #49, by Ed Brisson, Ibraim Roberson, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Logan is dreaming about his family. The dream turns creepy when he sees them all as corpses. He wakes up naked in the woods, stumbles back into town, and a kid named Joshua helps him into a house to rest up a bit. Maestro sentences the two guards who captured Logan to death. Logan prepares to go stop it, but things don’t go as planned. This issue is better than the last one simply because it doesn’t include any of the implied rape last issue had. That’s a pretty low bar, though. Still, there’s not much to recommend the issue. The dream sequence wasn’t bad, and got creepy at the end, which was cool.

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That’s unsettling.

But the main story? I just don’t care. It’s a story about how people will turn on each other to please their own killer. And that’s done well. I liked that aspect of the story. But Logan and the Maestro are both really boring and I don’t care about them. The art’s great, though. Again, the dream sequence stands out for that, especially that last splash of the dream. I’ll admit that this issue is one where my own biases are probably making me too hard on it. It’s better than I think it is, I think. I just really don’t like Logan, and I’m not a fan of Maestro, who worked really well in the story he was introduced in, but who’s long since worn out his welcome.

X-Men Black: Mystique, by Seanan McGuire, Marco Failla, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna. Mystique is on a dinner date with a Senator, and makes him look bad solely for her own amusement. I kinda love that. She ruins a man’s career just to have some fun. But then she gets a bigger score. So the rest of the issue is her being incredibly devious while comparing what she does to art. And man, she is awful. She is just The Worst. And it’s so damned compelling. She’s ruthless, caring about no one. She kills, a lot, and she sets someone else up for the murders. It’s all so she can get some information from Trask Industries, info that’s supposed to be related to Mothervine. She wants to make sure it’s not in Trask’s hands. But in the process, she does some pretty awful things, with not an ounce of remorse. And it’s so fascinating to watch. She’s so devious, so clever, and she puts in a lot of work. She also gets to show how dangerous a fighter she is, but that’s an afterthought. The real highlight is just in watching her work, watching her be different people for different purposes, just to cover her trail. It’s a good demonstration of what makes her so dangerous.

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Cold.

Failla’s art is good. It tells the story, which is exactly what it needed to do. There was no need, in this story, for anything particularly fancy. Just telling the story. It’s not my favourite art style, but he’s good. Man, this story’s chilling and compelling. Great stuff.

And, more of the Apocalypse back-up, by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Geraldo Borges, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit. Apocalypse is now a caveman, and fights some other cavemen. Still interesting. His mind slips away almost entirely here, and the fight against the cavemen is pretty wicked. It’s a good fight. He gets some good licks in against them.

And it’s not strictly speaking an X-Men title, but . . . Weapon Hex #1, by Bens Acker and Blacker, Gerardo Sandoval, Victor Nava, Israel Silva, and Joe Caramagna. I bought it (digitally) SOLELY on the strength of that pun name. It’s a good pun. I approve. On Mount Wundagore, a group of people is trying to provide Mephicthon with a blue lady to possess. It fails, but Sarah has an idea for their 23rd attempt: An imperfect vessel, grown within Sarah herself. Little Laura has a very interesting upbringing. She’s taught to fight by Hellhound, who seems to be a cross between Illyana and Sabretooth. She kills snakes when she’s two. At 5, she’s made to kill Peter Porker, thanks to a triggering spell. At 18, she fights Elsa Bladestone, leader of a group of atheistic extremists. Honestly, the whole thing is ridiculous and fun. Sarah and Herbert are a great goth couple.

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Bless their little goth hearts.

Sarah, of course, mellows greatly once she has Laura, same as she did in the 616. Spoiler alert: She meets the same fate. But the actual twist at the end of the issue made me very very happy, and all I’ll say is to remind you Weapon Hex is a cross between Scarlet Witch and X-23. Speaking of which, here’s Baby Laura:

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Aw, look at those tiny claws.

Sandoval’s art is a good fit for the story. It is such a weird,  crazy story, and Sandoval just enhances it. The comedy, darkness and drama are all enhanced by the art. I know he’s not for everyone, he does have a pretty strange style, but I dig it, especially here. It really works well. This comic is ridiculous, and it’s worth reading.

And the non-X-stuff.

Unstoppable Wasp #1, by Jeremy Whitley, Gurihiru, and Joe Caramagna. It’s back! Nadia and the agents of GIRL! There’s cuteness and fun and some pretty good drama. And an antagonist that I’m really excited about, and who sets up what might be a pretty dark upcoming story in this series. It’s great. And Gurihiru, of course, are amazing.

Shuri #1, by Nnedi Okorafor, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino. It’s really good. Nnedi had the difficult task of merging the movie version of Shuri into the comic version. She did a good job. She’s probably more Movie Shuri than Comic Shuri, which is a bit of a shame because I was really enjoying Shuri in Coates’ series, but whatever. Nnedi still writes a good comic. Romero’s art is great, and there’s a flashback sequence that’s especially gorgeous. There’s clearly plans here for Shuri, and I’m very interested in seeing them play otu.

Life of Captain Marvel #4, by Margaret Stohl, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Erica D’Urrso, Marcio Menyz, and Clayton Cowles. The Secret History of Carol’s mom. Turns out she’s Kree. And Carol’s half-Kree from birth, which is the real source of her powers. Not Mar-Vell. It’s an OK issue. But I’m more looking forward to Thompson’s run right now.

X-Men comics of October 10 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So with all the time between calls at work, I’ve started re-reading the first book in Will Durant’s Story of Civilization. It’s over 900 pages. It’s a big-ass book. And it was written back in the ’30s, so it’s a little out of date, undoubtedly there’s some inaccurate information, and there’s certain words and attitudes that are a little uncomfortable now. But what I like about Durant’s books is that they’re not just biographies of powerful men. History books tend to focus on a small number of people fighting over who gets to wear the best hat, and they seldom give a whole lot of context to it. Durant goes into the other stuff. The art, the architecture, the diet, the fashion, the make-up, all the little stuff that makes up a culture and a civilization. And I find that stuff way more interesting than a series of names and dates, about this person doing this thing on this date and that person doing that thing on that date. So I enjoy Durant’s books. But anyway, comics!

X-23 #5, by Mariko Tamaki, Juann Cabal, Marcio Fiorito, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Sophie and Irma are chatting in Laura’s head. Irma says that Esme’s going to go for Cerebro. Luckily, Beast is there to try to keep her away, using a big gun. But he was just an illusion, Sophie trying to distract Esme. Aw. I was so proud of Beast being such a badass. Alas. Anyway, confrontation! Laura calls out Esme as a murderer, Esme is unimpressed and snarks like a Cuckoo should.

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I like Laura acknowledging that Esme’s not entirely wrong.

It’s a good fight, physical and psychic. A satisfying conclusion the arc. Esme made for a great villain, she was menacing but also funny. I liked seeing the difference in the relationship Laura and Gabby have compared to the Cuckoos. It made for a good contrast. The love Laura and Gabby have, compared to the more contentious relationship of the Cuckoos. Kinda sad, really. Poor Cuckoos. But it was cool seeing the Cuckoos get a story. I like them. They’re interesting characters. The art’s good. Nice use of glowing eyes to show readers when Sophie is talking through Laura. Good use of body language and facial expressions, Laura looks buff which is always appreciated, and there are a couple good moments of visual comedy. And there’s not a lot of action, but what’s there is done really well.

Domino #7, by Gail Simone, David Baldeon, Jesus Aburtov, and Clayton Cowles. In Barcelona, a guy’s been murdered and partially eaten, and a police sergeant thinks Atlanteans did it. Meanwhile, Diamondback and Outlaw want to re-open the casino on their casino boat. A Wakandan then arrives to hire them for a mission. In Norway. Where Outlaw  – who is not at all dressed for winter weather, because she’s got super-strength so I guess doesn’t notice the cold – gets bucked off her snowmobile. And then a little girl appears. And hey, quick break from the story to talk about an art nitpick: We almost never see anyone’s breath. It’s winter, it’s clearly below freezing, but Baldeon does a terrible job showing anyone’s breath. When we see characters from the front, their breath looks like it’s coming from behind them. Which is just bad. It’s a little thing, but it took me out of the story. And that’s when we can see their breath at all, and we sometimes can’t. Anyway, they follow the little girl into the forest, despite Diamondback’s warnings of trolls and other monsters. And they fight a ghost wedding. An undead bride and her bridesmaids. They’re creepy but also kinda fun. Especially with the bride constantly talking about food.

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I like this bride’s priorities.

We’ve got us a vampire arc! Sounds pretty fun. Including a guest star I won’t spoil, but he’s on the cover of the next issue, so. But yeah, this is fun. Less heavy than the first arc, but it’s still got some weight to it. As much as it needs, really. It is vampires, after all. The little dead girl was creepy. Also, Diamondback’s grandmother seems to have been a pretty creepy lady, telling her stories about Norwegian monsters. I’m curious if trolls will show up, given Domino’s scepticism when Diamondback mentioned them. You’d think she’d accept trolls. Like, she spent a while serving on a team with Dani Moonstar, an honest-to-Odin Valkyrie. Why would Domino doubt the existence of trolls? Why would she doubt the existence of anything at this point, honestly? The arbitrary scepticism of superheroes always baffles me. But whatever, it’s a minor thing. Domino and her posse are a lot of fun together. Great chemistry. The fact that Diamondback’s still showing her cleavage while wearing a parka is ridiculous. I guess her boobs don’t feel the cold. That, and my earlier nitpick about the breaths, aside, I’m pretty OK with Baldeon’s art here. His style is fun, but it’s also really good for creepy stuff like the vampires. On the whole, this is a fun start to the new arc, and I’m curious to see how it goes.

Iceman #2, by Sina Grace, Nathan Stockman, Federico Blee, and Joe Sabino. Emma wants Bobby’s help with a delicate family matter. Bobby wants to franchise a concession stand called Admiral Snackbar. (According to Wookiepedia there actually was a restaurant by that name in the Star Wars EU, because of course there was.) She tells him that she thinks her father is hurting her brother, one of the few people she loves, and Bobby finally agrees to help. This really is a week for blonde bitches having complicated family dynamics. Kitty tells him not to trust her, and Bobby has a very interesting way of proving that she’s being as sincere as she’s capable of being:

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Pretty sure Kitty will be jerking it to this mental image later.

Emma tells Bobby about her family. Her father being a controlling prick, Christian being a warm and cheerful young man who their father sent to conversion therapy and then put in a mental institution. And it turns out Daddy Frost is also a telepath. I also like this interaction:

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“Pretty white boys” is what gets me. The sass!

They bust into the house and find Christian, who’s quite calm and friendly, but Emma knows something’s wrong because he’s drinking wine and wearing a British-cut suit. By the goddess, I love Emma. “Wearing a British-cut suit was offensive enough,” she is just the snobbiest person ever and I love her for it. She is delightful. Anyway, turns out Christian’s killed dad. But Christian’s kinda in denial about it, and is using his powers to make a projection of the dad, who attacks Emma and Bobby. So Emma brings Christian into Bobby’s mind so Bobby can try to talk him down. And another great Emma line: “Do that thing you do where people think you’re pleasant.” Though Emma’s the one who actually gets to Christian, which is fitting. On a side note, apparently Dazzler also has a new single out in this issue. She doesn’t appear, it’s just a message on Bobby’s phone. Anyway, this is a really good issue. Grace writes a great Emma, classy and snarky and compassionate. An ice cold bitch who cares deeply. I love her. Bobby remains Bobby. I still struggle to give a damn about him. But he and Emma do have a relatively fun chemistry. It’ll be interesting to see if Christian shows up again. And seeing a Worst Case Scenario for coming out is interesting, though I don’t necessarily feel qualified to talk on that point. But it does show how lucky Bobby was with his parents. The art is not my style. It’s not bad, by any stretch. Stockman tells the story well, and it’s not a style that really distracts me. There aren’t weird blobby faces or anything. It’s just not a style that does anything for me. Just personal taste.

X-Men Black: Mojo, by Scott Aukerman, Nick Bradshaw, Andre Lima Araujo, Guru-eFX, and Joe Caramagna. The opening panels have been getting a looooot of attention online.

change (2)

Some pretty familiar commentary in there.

So, yeah, this is just straight-up calling out Comicsgate. I approve, because screw Comicsgate. They’re a hate group, a harassment campaign, who are mad that their hobby no longer caters almost exclusively to cishet white men. None of them even understand how the comics industry works, which is clear by the sheer number of comics creators who call out their lies. Screw Comicsgate. But anyway! The story! Mojo goes to a coffee shop to stalk a cute cool girl. He’s terrible at talking to her, but he runs into Glob, who tries to help him out. Mojo says how he first met the girl. He bumped into her and she called him a mewling, simpering dolt. So it’s clear why he likes her so much. Glob and Mojo walk through the neighbourhood, and while Mojo’s wearing a trenchcoat and fedora as a disguise, Glob’s wearing nothing, which is cool. I like that he’s just wandering around NYC, openly a mutant, and there are people who say hi to him. Then Mojo saves a little girl who was almost hit by a car while chasing her cat. And she thanks him with a kiss on the cheek. It’s sweet. When Glob and Mojo get back to the school, Major Domo launches the planned attack intended to kill the students. And sudden art change! From Bradshaw – whose style I hate, by the way, cannot stand his style – to Araujo. Anyway, it’s a Half-Sentient, a cross of a Mindless One and a Sentinel. It’s mostly Laura, Rockslide, and Mukus (created by Aukerman and Araujo) who fight it. Yay Laura! Then Major Domo brings in the cute girl, and Mojo finally decides he can’t stand by and let her be hurt. It’s a cute story. A positive message about how even ugly people deserve friendship and even love. I often feel ugly, so it’s a message that appeals to me. And stories about The Magic of Friendship make me happy, so Glob befriending Mojo and helping him to be slightly better was nice to see. The humour was mostly pretty good. The biggest problem I had with the comic was the art. Like I said, I cannot stand Bradshaw’s style. I can’t really put into words why it bothers me, but it absolutely turns me entirely off. Araujo’s style bothers me less. Most people will probably actually be more turned off by Araujo, but I don’t know, I don’t really mind it. I can’t say I’m a big fan of his work or anything, it’s still not a style I love, but I like it more than I like Bradshaw. Still, the story’s charming enough that I enjoyed the issue, on the whole, despite the art.

And the second part of the Apocalypse story, by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Geraldo Borges, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit. Apocalypse is being pretty philosophical about being lost on a strange planet while his powers fail him and he becomes mortal. The life around him evolves incredibly fast, and he feels his mind slipping. And he ends up naked and chased by giant insects. Still an intriguing story being told.

So that’s the X-stuff, here’s the rest.

Ms. Marvel #35, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Ian Herring, and Joe Caramagna. More Singularity! I still miss her unique speech bubbles, but I’m just so happy to have her show up. Shocker is still lots of fun, but at the same time, he’s got pretty interesting viewpoints regarding breaking away from existing superhero conventions. He even proposes he and Ms. Marvel be a hero/anti-hero team-up. He’s really fun here. Bruno’s very smart. Kamala is very annoyed. The whole thing is really good. You know, it’s funny: Every so often, a writer comes along and decides they’re going to “redeem” Shocker’s reputation. They’re going to show that he can be a genuine threat. They usually do it by going kinda dark, making him more serious, showing him trying to kill someone or whatever. Wilson and Leon showcased his scientific genius, made him a legitimate challenge for Ms. Marvel, and still kept him goofy. And I’m really happy about that. Because he is goofy. He wears a quilt. He calls himself Shocker. His power basically makes him a walking vibrator. He’s so goofy. And he’s better when he’s goofy. So I like that Wilson could make him a threat while also keeping him goofy.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #37, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. Squirrel Girl is dead! And her funeral’s got a great turn-out! And Black Widow really loves wearing black and I feel her. I have never related more to Black Widow than I do here. Anyway, it’s great. Really funny. The art in the sequence showing how Squirrel Girl died is great, it’s got this really cool retro feel. Really liked that part.

Exiles #9, by Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Muntsa Vicente, and Joe Caramagna. Blink is Aladdin! Iron Lad is the genie! Valkyrie i Ali Baba, and Becky her Good Wife. T’Challa is Sinbad. It’s a really cute issue. I liked it.

Captain America #4, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Joe Caramagna. Sharon Carter is in trouble in Alberia, with Cap on his way to find and rescue her. He kicks ass. Until he runs into Taskmaster. And all through, he narrates about the state of the country, and the state of himself. It’s good stuff. Coates and Yu are telling a good story, and Coates’ writing is really good here. Really smart stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Men comics of October 3 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So I work evenings now. Woot. The only problem is that, by the time I get home, the woman I’m renting a room from is asleep, and she sleeps in the living room, so I’m not really comfortable using the microwave then. So I’ll need to start looking for somewhere else to live. I also still need to email a therapist to make an appointment. My social anxiety is so bad that emailing someone to help with it is almost impossible for me, which is a definite sign I need help with it. But ugh, so hard. (And that’s not even getting into the real, much scarier reason I want therapy.) I still haven’t started on season 2 of The Gifted yet, I’ll try to watch an episode or two tomorrow. I also still need to watch season 2 of Iron Fist. I am so far behind on everything. It sucks. Anyway, comics.

(Edit: Also, I just finally took the step of emailing a therapist to make an appointment. So that was terrifying to do. So now to see how it goes.)

Weapon X #24, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Luca Pizzari, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. It opens on a card game between Hairbag (HOLY SHIT!), Pyro (the original, apparently back from the dead, sure), and Sauron. Hairbag thinks they should go after Stryker, but Stryker, in his fancy new cyborg body, hits them first. The Weapon X team wakes up in a prison cell, and Monet explains Stryker made a deal with a demon. A bunch of weapons are dropped in the cell, to prepare them for The Games. Sabretooth apologizes for not being there for her when she was possessed by Emplate, and Deadpool shoots himself in the head with a crossbow. Also, Monet’s weapon of choice is an axe, because Monet is awesome. Domino opts for a mace, because she’s also awesome. Then it’s fight time, against a bunch of loser mutant villains. I don’t even recognize most of them. But there’s a bunch. And Domino’s luck remains fun to see.

Weapon X #24

And this is actually tame for her.

As always, this is fun. There’s a little bit of emotional stuff with Sabretooth and Monet, but mostly, this is a comic that enjoys itself. The action is exciting, the banter’s funny, the art is solid. Monet’s still rockin’ her new hairstyle, with one side buzzed. I like it. Kinda punk chic. Stryker selling his soul out of his hate for mutants is also a really cool idea, though. It’s a pretty strong statement on hate, and especially on religious-motivated hate. It’s a very strong message being sent.

X-Men Black: Magneto, by Chris Claremont, Dalibor Talajic, Roberto Poggi, Belardino Brabo, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Joe Caramagna. Magneto’s in a small diner, chatting with the teen girl waitress, Kate. She talks about how long her family’s been fighting for the country, how her mom went to war and didn’t come back. The conversation’s pretty heavy, and then the comic gets topical.

X-Men Black: Magneto

Kate’s good folk.

So, yeah, Claremont’s not being subtle with this bit of commentary. But Claremont was often heavy-handed. And holy shit, the US government is throwing children in jail just because they’re not white, so why should anyone be subtle when talking about that? Screw subtle. I’m sure the Comicsgate jackasses will be outraged at this “SJW agenda” being pushed, because Comicsgate jackasses don’t actually understand comics, politics, or pretty much anything. Regardless, this is actually a really good scene. It draws a direct parallel between mutants and a real-world marginalized group (multiple real-world marginalized groups, really), while actually also evoking a fairly common plot element in X-Men comics. (The X-Men franchise has spent decades saying that prison camps are bad, and here comes the Trump Administration saying, “Prison camps? That sounds like a great idea!”) Anyway, some white jerks in the diner disagree, and say mutants should be rounded up in prison camps, Kate shouts them down, Magneto leaves, and dammit, I got a little bit of great writing in my eye.

X-Men Black: Magneto

Damn if Claremont isn’t ON with this comic.

It’s been a long time since Claremont’s done anything I’ve really liked. But this scene is brilliant. This is Claremont at his best. Magneto heads back to Asteroid M for a training simulation (he kills the X-Men), Briar tells him one of the camps has been opened, so Magneto goes to deal with it. And he fights a woman in Sentinel armour. The fact that she’s a woman throws him off. He makes a speech asking whether they need to be at war, the mutants he frees talk about the need to fight for their country. And the comic very much drops in quality there. Much as I love Claremont’s ’70s and ’80s work, he’s felt more and more dated with every new work he’s done. And the second half of this issue is no exception.The first half is great, and has a timeless quality, rather than being dated. Two people chatting in a diner. I live for that shit. I would read an entire series about characters hanging out in coffee shops. And I like how topical it is, with the talk of camps. But the end of the issue goes from topical to preachy, and not in an endearing way. So the issue as a whole is very uneven. The art . . . I’m torn. I genuinely can’t decide if I like it or not. On the whole, I don’t think I do. That’s down to taste, though. At least it didn’t really pull me out of the story. Talajic’s a fine visual storyteller, and the style isn’t distracting to me. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. The action scenes are great, I’ll give him that. I prefer him as an action artist over a quiet artist. And he can do moody wonderfully when the scene calls for it.

There’s also the Apocalypse back-up, by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Geraldo Borges, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit. Apocalypse is trying to use Celestial technology to create himself a body with no faults, that can live forever, so he doesn’t have to keep taking new host bodies. The experiment goes wrong, and he gets hurled to another planet, where he’s mortal. This is fine. It’s a fine start. We’ll see how the story as a whole goes. Apocalypse becoming more vulnerable is a new twist. We’ll see how it goes.

Shatterstar #1, by Tim Seeley, Carlos Villa, Juan Vlasco, Gerardo Sandoval (for flashbacks), Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Shatterstar is missing his time as a star in Mojoworld, and now goes by Ben Gaveedra. He’s a landlord of a building for alternate-reality outcasts. Including a socialist dog who is pretty amazing.

Shatterstar #1

You tell him, boy.

There’s also a pair of fantasy warriors developing a fantasy TV series, a mutant commando who’s befriended the teen girl she was sent back in time to kill, an aged Dwayne Taylor from a Noir world, and a girl from a world without superheroes. (Our world, in fact. Earth-1218. That’s our world. We live on Earth-1218. I wonder if this woman if a reference to someone Seeley or someone else on the creative team knew, who maybe passed on or something.) I love this bunch of weirdos. I love the whole concept. An apartment building catering to people from other realities? Amazing. That’s an amazing idea. I love stuff like that. And the characters are all great, a great mix of personalities. I would definitely be interested in a mini about The End, and her friendship with the half-demon mutant teen destined to burn the world. I want to read that mini. Shatterstar goes to see Titus Andronicus. While he’s out, his building is attacked, and his tenants captured, by the Death Sponsors. Damn. Also, Shatterstar and Rictor have broken up, because Shatterstar was apparently finding himself bored Rictor’s got a club now, though, so that’s pretty cool. And it looks like Old Man Night Thrasher is dead but he took a bad guy down with him, because he’s pretty awesome. OK, this issue’s fantastic. Seeley and Villa are telling one hell of a story here. Seeley’s narration is fantastic, and the pay-off for it is magnificent. I’m hoping the tenants are going to be OK, because they’re all cool. (Also, there is some amazing fanfic material in them. Especially The End, who I desperately want to see more of. A time traveler trying to prevent their bad future by befriending the person responsible is definitely something that appeals to me.) There’s also some really good narration about the difference between reality and entertainment, how entertainment is easy and reality is tough, and it’s really good, and works really well with Shatterstar, given his origins. Plus, a little bit of Shatterstar’s history, which is cool. The art’s great. Villa’s got a very clean style, nice use of detail. Cool clothes, too. I’m really impressed, this comic is fantastic.

What If: X-Men, by Bryan Edward Hill, Neill Edwards, Giannis Milonogiannis, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Clayton Cowles. The very first panel is incredibly relatable.

What If: X-Men

Evergreen caption.

So, the story: Xavier recruited Cable and Domino to go into Cyberspace and rescue Erik from a Nimrod Virus. Cable doesn’t want to go on such a dangerous mission, but Domino agrees to do it, so Cable’s dragged along. Xavier confesses that he’s dying, and Cable finally agrees to go on the mission. So while he fights robots, Domino goes into Erik’s mind to fight the Nimrod Virus. And then, unsurprisingly, it turns out Erik is kinda evil. This is a really cool comic. It captures the cyber-punk feel really well. The visual distinction between the real world and Cyberspace is handled well, in a unique way. Cyberspace looks, arguably, less high-tech. Less flashy. It’s a really interesting way of differentiating the worlds, I dig it. The story’s cool. Domino’s great, naturally. I really liked this.

And the non-X-stuff.

Champions #25, by Jim Zub, Sean Izaakse, Max Dunbar, Marcio Menyz, Nolan Woodard, and Clayton Cowles. Riri’s having nightmares about her encounter with Thanos, Nova’s mom is pretty OK with her son being missing, Amka gets the Siege Parallel from Sila, and Weirdworld is awesome. And the Champions all get wicked-awesome D&D designs. This is a really fun comic. I’m invested in this arc.

I suppose I should give brief thoughts on the comics I didn’t talk about last week because I was pissed about my clothes being stolen. (I didn’t get them back. I had to spend $300 on new clothes. And that’s not including what I’ll have to pay to re-buy my cool t-shirts. I hope the person who stole my clothes dies alone and unloved, because they’re clearly an absolutely garbage person who contributes nothing good to the world.)

Black Panther #4 was exciting and action-packed, but I’m getting bored with all the action. There’s too little character focus. The plot’s compelling, but I want to see more of the people.

Jessica Jones #3 is fantastic. Really fun. The Blind Spot arc nails the finish, with more Elsa awesomeness, and some great lessons on being better. Then there’s also a story of Jess and Luke preparing for Dani’s birthday party, and it is delightful. There’s still some distinct emotional weight to it, but there’s also a villain named Lone Shark, who apologizes for attacking while they’re setting up for a birthday party. It’s great.

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #35 is as wonderful as ever. Bustos draws the absolute best dinosaur expressions. I know people love how expressive Anka’s take on Old Lace is, but Bustos will always be #1 in dinosaur expressions. The issue as a whole is great, obviously, but mostly it’s about Bustos and Devil.

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