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X-Factor #8 (1986, September)

I didn’t get much sleep last night. Oh well. And my Internet has been useless all day, which is why it’s taken me since 5 to get this damn thing posted. By Simonson and Marc Silvestri, “Lost and Found.”

Lost and Found

Nice to see Skids joining the book.

Scott and Jean are in the tunnels beneath their headquarters, cleaning up the radiation left over by the two mutants from last issue. Apparently, radiation pretty much only covers the very top layer of whatever it touches. It doesn’t seep into things or anything like that. All you have to do to remove it is “vaporize only a molecule’s thickness” and a wall is completely radiation-free. Now, I’m no nuclear physicist, but that doesn’t really sound right, to me. Also, it’s unlikely the radiation being let off by the two mutants would’ve been strong enough to cause much contamination during the short period they were in those specific tunnels. It likely wouldn’t have raised the radiation levels much above the normal background levels. Oh well.

Anyway, Jean yells at Scott a little for not mentioning his wife. She asks to see a photo, of Maddie and their son. Jean says she always imagined they’d have a girl – a nice little reference to Rachel. Anyway, then she goes back to yelling at him, for both the secret and for abandoning Maddie. It was pretty dickish of him, so I’m on your side, Jean. Though I do have to wonder why you would wear high heels with a radiation suit. That seems like an odd choice. But I guess you need to really dedicate yourself to fashion.

Inside, the others are watching the TV report on the attack, and Vera’s interview. Beast complains about Trish Tilby covering the battle in a sensationalist manner. I just want to point out that what we see of her report is actually pretty much a straight statement of what happened. It seems like a pretty fair news report, and yet we’re obviously supposed to think Trish was wrong. Rusty is on hi way to get changed, when he overhears Hodge arguing with someone from the mayor’s office. Hodge is saying it was an attack on humankind, really pushing the anti-mutant line.

In the training room, Angel sees Jean walk past, and slams into an ice hoop. Then he remembers he has a girlfriend. Took him long enough to remember that. Rusty is still pining for Jean, and then worries he’ll be recognized from the TV. Angel and Iceman tell him not to worry.

Meanwhile, Freedom Force is watching the TV and trying to recognize Rusty. They’ve been tasked with finding and arresting him. Spider-Woman – the Julia Carpenter one, not Jessica Drew – actually does find him. That night, Hodge tells the team about a battle between mutant factions in Central Park. A footnote refers to UXM #209. They decide to check it out as X-Factor. After they suit up, Angel goes to talk to Jean, who tells him off for keeping Scott’s marriage a secret. Scott overhears them talking, and thinks Angel’s already made a move on her. This causes him to snap at Rusty for wanting to join along.

Rusty decides to follow anyway, since Artie shows him that X-Factor is being followed. He gets to the park just in time to see X-Factor and Freedom Force get in a fight. Mystique tells Spiral to grab Rusty, but Spiral senses Rachel’s power, and cuts out to chase her, instead. Destiny has trouble sensing anything around X-Factor, pointing to Jean as a “nexus of probabilities.”

Fighting, Rusty tries to escape, Spider-Woman catches him, then it’s Skids to the rescue. And Rusty immediately gets a crush on her. I can’t blame him, she’s cute.

And hey, Trish Tilby, who’s lost an ‘r’ from her name. Must have been some budget cuts in the news office. She gets knocked over by a stampeding crowd chasing Skids and Rusty. Rusty decides to stand up to them by surrounding himself with fire. Admittedly, he pulls off the badass moment. One of the few he gets in his life.

This issue’s a bit meh. It’s still a couple more issues before the series gets truly great. The opening scene feels a little off-balanced – Jean gets mad at Scott, then gets over it, then gets even madder. It just comes across weird. Angel’s a putz. Beast’s objections to Trish are bizarre, given what we see. The scene of Freedom Force talking about Rusty is too exposition-y – a necessary evil, but still a bit annoying. The little bit of Blob and Avalanche bickering is stupid. Just a really annoying bit. The best part of the issue isn’t even in this comic – it’s the almost-crossover with Uncanny X-Men. Especially Spiral pulling a “screw you guys, I’m outta here” on Freedom Force. That bit, I liked. The X-Factor/Freedom Force confrontation was incredibly dull, though. Just lots of standing around looking at each other. They may as well have been shouting “Come at me bro!” at each other.

The art was fine. It’s nowhere near as good as Silvestri’s UXM work. It seems a bit rushed. Maybe it’s an inking thing, because it just doesn’t look like Silvestri.

All in all, a pretty mediocre comic.

X-Men comics for August 26 2015

Woot comics OK let’s do this.

E Is For Extinction #3, by Chris Burnham, Dennis Culver and Ramon Villalobos. The X-Men stand united against an army of Beasts. That includes Beak and Angel’s kids. Emma and the Cuckoos join forces, pretty awesomely. And they discover the leader of the Beasts isn’t what he seems. “Something . . . viral. Something Sublime.” Yay Sublime! Weird, weird concept, not one I entirely liked from Morrison (ancient being who secretly shaped the history of the world are overdone), but it’s cool to see him show up here. Of course, he’s taken control of Beasts from all over Battleworld, which does also apply to this one. But then we get a pretty surprising twist via Quire. And then one hell of a cliffhanger. This comic just keeps getting crazier all the time, and it’s great. “No-Boy” delivers an epic speech. The Bohusk family, with the rest of the Atom Academy, gets a nice Big Damn Heroes moment. There’s a bunch of twists and turns that never come off as ass-pulls, but instead feel like reasonable ways if including elements from Morrison’s classic run. The art also does a good job of capturing the feel of Frank Quitely’s work. Emma and the Cuckoos telepathically joining together was especially cool-looking. And the art during “No-Boy’s” speech also did some really cool stuff. This is a great book. Definitely worth reading for anyone who enjoyed Morrison’s New X-Men.

Old Man Logan #4, by Brian Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino. Logan’s killing zombies. He has been for quite a while. He manages to escape them and finds cover in a cave, where he finds a She-Hulk (wearing a Fantastic Four costume). She apparently crossed Doom, and got sentenced without a trial, which offends her as a lawyer. Then they fight zombies some more. At this point, I think Bendis has just forgotten he’s supposed to be telling a story. I honestly think he just looked at Sorrentino’s art, and just decided, “To hell with it, I’m just going to let him draw things.” I don’t even mean that as a criticism of Bendis, because I can’t blame him for that decision. Sorrentino’s art is stunning. I wish, so hard, that he were doing a non-Wolverine title. Bendis has been doing a mediocre job, just having Wolverine thrown from one domain to another, with little narrative, and not a whole lot of character exploration. This issue does have him wishing he’d never left his territory. His conversation with She-Hulk is also fun, actually – he writes a fun She-Hulk. But if you’re reading this series for anything other than Sorrentino, you’re reading it wrong, because Sorrentino is just killing it here. He does great layouts, and stunningly gorgeous art. He’s the real draw of this book, and I think he’ll always be the main draw of any book he works on, because he’s just that good.

Magneto #21, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta. It starts with a flashback to his very first battle with the X-Men, then cuts to the present, with him trying to save the world. Then another flashback, to him sinking the Russian sub, Leningrad. He reflects that he’s always been a monster. Down on the ground, Polaris and Briar argue a little, with Briar saying he stole Polaris’ power so he wouldn’t have to sacrifice her, while Polaris says he’s always been good at letting the ends justify the means, which leads to another flashback, to right after he nearly ripped apart the Earth’s magnetic field, and was given rule over Genosha. And then he reflects on what an asshole he actually is. This is pretty good. An exploration of who Magneto truly is, beneath it all. It does get a bit heavily melodramatic at times. And I’m still not a fan of Walta’s art. I just find it too rough, too sharp. This series never really blew me away. It was OK, just not to my tastes.

Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #4, by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli. This issue opens with Deadpool and Wasp just having had sex. It happened right after Doom became god, but before he killed all the heroes. Then we cut to right after all the heroes have been revived. Wasp talks to Deadpool about Zsaji’s death. Cut back to the heroes talking to Doom right after he became a god. Then to the heroes trying to assault Doom. Deadpool follows Cap to the confrontation with Doom. The Beyonder comes out of Klaw to try to reclaim his power, but Deadpool blocks him. He ends up in another plane of existence, where he realizes he lives in a comic book. This suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. Just an unfunny, pointless waste of time. The writing sucks, the art is bland, the whole thing  is just bad. Bad bad bad. Bunn is one of the most inconsistent writers I’ve come across. Sometimes, his work is pretty good. Very seldom great, but pretty good. Other times, his work is downright awful. He’s better at dark stuff than light stuff. He’s done a bunch of Deadpool mini, and when they’ve been dark – Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, or Night of the Living Deadpool – they’ve been enjoyable. When they’ve been more humour-focused – Deadpool Kills Deadpool, or this piece of shit – they’ve been painful. He should just stop trying to do funny books. He can’t do it. He’s not competent enough to pull those off. So he should just stick to what he’s actually good at.

That’s the X-titles, here’s a couple other comics.

Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps #3, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kelly Thompson and David Lopez.  Carol manages to save Helen from the exploding rocket. The Banshees run out to check things out, leaving Rhodey in the barracks. Carol tells them all to get ready to leave, even if she has no idea where they’re going. They just need to get off-base. Carol grabs Rhodey and takes him with them. The Banshees and Carol each get planes tailing them. Carol shakes them off with “The Thing.” Nice callback to the first issue. This continues to be a really good, really fun series. This issue’s got a lot of tension, with them scrambling to get off the base and away from their pursuit. But there’s also some room for humour in there. Helen cheering for “The Thing” was fun. There was also an amusing scene between Carol and Rhodey, where she shows him how to put on the Go-Bag. Lopez gets to have some fun with the chase scene. He does a really good job with it. He makes it very exciting. I also like the scenes in the control tower. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the art in those panels that’s appealing to me. I think it’s the variety of women there. Three in particular – the Baron (who’s a skinny old lady), a chubby girl, and a thin Muslim woman. Those are the main three there. But Lopez works to make each character in the book look distinct. He gives different body shapes and faces to each one, and colourist Lee Loughridge gives them different skin colours. Not just for different races, but even among races, there’s shading differences. It’s always nice to see that sort of diversity among characters, where they don’t all look like the same statuesque supermodels. I’m enjoying this series.

Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra #1, by David Mandel and Michael Walsh. First, I want to mention that the cover is great. Amanda Conner does a great Steranko homage (to whom she apologizes, which amuses me). Then the story starts with another Steranko homage, with Nick Fury climbing the outside of some facility and sneaking in. He takes down a couple Hydra goons, one of whom is Hank Johnson. At home, he’s nursing his head with a pack of frozen peas, and his family starts in on being a family. Which means complaining and stuff. His kids are brats, and he argues with his wife about money problems. Later on is a funeral for a Hydra agent who died. MODOK sings Amazing Grace. After the funeral, Hank and his wife go to his kids’ school, where the principal says it’s a nut-free school. A Hydra school with a ban on nuts. Allergies, of course. Then a softball game. Then a birthday party, where the baby drinks Red Bull. This is enough for Hank to agree with his wife that they need a nanny. He applies for a raise and promotion, and now works under Viper, who blatantly flirts with him. Then there’s Hallowe’en, with the kids dressing up as Avengers to go Trick Or Treating. Then a party thrown by Viper. This comic’s hilarious. It’s just a bunch of banal stuff based around a Hydra agent. There’s absolutely nothing not to love about it. It’s basically just a story about being a middle-aged family man, having to deal with all the mundane realities of everyday life. But he’s a Hydra agent, so there’s that nice contrast, providing a sense of absurdity to it all. The art also contributes to that. It gives a sense of normalcy, even banality, without actually being boring. This is a really fun book.

Pull list for August 26 2015

I’m off tomorrow, so reviews will go up.

I’ll go to the store for: Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #3, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kelly Thompson and David Lopez; E Is For Extinction #3, by Chris Burnham, Dennis Culver and Ramon Villalobos.

I’ll also review: Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #4, by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli; Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra #1, by David Mandel and Michael Walsh; Magneto #21, by Cullen Bunn and Paul Davidson; Old Man Logan #4, by Brian Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino.

So that’s 2 comics I’m picking up, and 6 reviews. A pretty light week.

I’m most excited for the two books I’m picking up. I’ve enjoyed Carol Corps so far, and I’m loving what Culver is doing with Extinction. He’s done a great job keeping the tone of Morrison’s New X-Men.

I finished reading The Caloris Rim Project, by Glenn P. MacDonald. Here’s my review from Goodreads:

This was not a great book. MacDonald puts a lot of work into the setting and science, so he gets points for that. But the plot and characters are both weak. The plot meanders a bit, and never quite feels like it gels. The characters are bland and shallow.

But the biggest problem is the writing style. MacDonald simply isn’t a strong writer. It has a tendency to be too dry, even when it shouldn’t be. It ends up sucking out tension in some scenes, because it’s just not written in a way that conveys the tension. There were far too many typos for a published novel, as well.

All in all, I was not impressed by this book.

I gave it two stars. This is actually the lowest rating I’ve given any book I’ve received free from Goodreads. I considered giving it three stars, but it just doesn’t deserve it. I’m now at 20 books read out of the 24 I set for myself for the year. I need to read a graphic novel for this month – probably another Courtney Crumrin, which is a great series. Then my September novel will be I Take You, by Eliza Kennedy. I can’t say I’m excited for that one. Ah, well. The last chick-lit novel I read, Virgin, by Radhika Sanghani, wasn’t too bad. But it had the benefit of being set in England, with a non-white protagonist. That sort of thing gets me more interested. Maybe I can pretend the protagonist of I Take You is Latin-American or something. Come to think of it, I haven’t won anything from Goodreads in over a month now. Hmm.

I also finished playing Skyborn, an RPG I bought through the Windows Shop. It’s an old-school-style RPG. It’s actually pretty good. Fun little steampunk game. Really good writing, an interesting plot, cool characters. Decent gameplay, though nothing spectacular. I enjoyed it. It has a female lead, which is always nice to see. She has an antagonistic relationship with the male lead, and while she definitely mellows on him, I was glad that there was no indication that they started a relationship or anything. The last we see of them, she seems to still kinda hate him. Regardless, pretty good game.

On Saturday, I went to Coticon, a local geek-oriented convention. It sucked. It cost $20 to get in, and there were only a few tables. I didn’t end up buying anything. There was just nothing worth buying. There were panels throughout the day, but none that would’ve interested me. All in all, I regret going.

At Wal-Mart, they sell chocolate bars for a dollar each, or a pack of four for $4.12. It actually costs more to get a pack of four than to get four individual bars. That is stupid. It’s incredibly stupid. It’s backwards. It makes negative sense. Generally, the point of getting a pack of something is that it’s cheaper than getting them individually. They used to sell the packs of chocolate bars for $3.88, which did make sense. But apparently, for no frigging reason, they’ve decided to make the packs more expensive. So stupid.

My schedule for the week: 9:30-3 Thursday, 2-10:30 Friday, 4-8 Saturday, 2:30-7 Sunday, 9:30-5:30 Monday. I’ll probably post my next pull list on Monday. And I’ll have posts Thursday and Tuesday, for X-Factor #8 and Alpha Flight #38.

New Mutants #43 (1986, September)

Pull list tomorrow. But for today, by Claremont and Steve Purcell, “Getting Even.”

Getting Even

That’s actually kind of a sissy-looking punch. Doug shouldn’t be the one throwing punches.

Bobby and his mother are flying into Westchester County Airport, in a small plane. Sam flies up to knock on the window to welcome Bobby back. Dani’s there on Brightwind. Warlock and Doug drop in on top of the plane. Then Illyana comes in to teleport Bobby back to the school. Xi’an and Amara greet him there. Bobby and Sam engage in a playful insult contest, which Amara interrupts because apparently she has no idea it was playful. You’d think she would’ve learned about that sort of thing by now. Oh well. Stevie comes by to test if he’s kept in shape during his vacation. She finds him lacking, and feels the same about the others. Bobby gives her a present, and asks where Tom and Sharon are.

This is when he learns what Empath did to them. He thinks they should go beat the crap out of Empath. Xi’an thinks it’s wrong, but Sam and Dani both decide to do it, and the others go along with it.

In Massachusetts, Empath sees some kids playing, with one pretending to be a mutant, and the others X-Factor. He gets annoyed, and makes the kids playing X-Factor terrified of the girl playing a mutant. That night, as he sleeps, he wakes up in Limbo. The Hellions find Empath’s bed missing, and him with it. Catseye senses Magik’s smell. Jetstream figures they should let the Mutants have him. I like Jetstream.

Empath finds himself in a dusty old bedroom. He steps outside, and the torments really start. It ends when Doug gets second thoughts, and finds himself unable to deck Empath. The Hellions show up, and Dani and Thunderbird shake hands. Thunderbird wakes up Empath, and then tells him to stay in line. While decking him.

A good issue. Very much a done-in-one, but it’s a nice follow-up to the previous arc. It did look like Empath was going to get away with what he put Tom and Sharon through, which would’ve been typical but unfortunate. But nope, this issue shows him getting his comeuppance. It’s worth noting that he actually does begin to improve after this. He never really returns to the depths of cruelty he’d previously shown. Whether that was because he learned from what the Mutants put him through, or because Thunderbird beat some sense into him, I don’t know. But he does definitely show improvements.

I like that Xi’an at no point actually takes part in the torment of Empath. She’s there, but she doesn’t possess him, she doesn’t hit him. She doesn’t actually help. She always had a strong moral code. It wouldn’t have been a stretch to have her possess him, as a way of showing him what it’s like to not be in control of one’s own actions, but it makes sense for her to not be interested. And as the oldest, she would be more willing to refuse to follow orders she believed to be immoral. Then Doug provides another voice of morality, by calling an end to the game. It kinda would’ve been nice if Xi’an had backed him up when he said they were doing wrong, though. But I just really like her, and wanted her to have a bigger role in general.

The art is pretty good. The torment is done really well. Good job with mood and tone. It gets very dark and downright creepy at times. There’s some decent work with expressions. It’s good work. It’s a good issue, albeit a fairly forgettable one.

In addition, Warlock appears in Web of Spider-Man Annual #2, by Ann Nocenti and Arthur Adams. The issue starts with Warlock watching a bunch of TVs at once. The Mutants – who had been sleeping before all the TVs woke them up – come down to chew him out. Illyana tells him that he watches too much TV, and it’s giving him a warped and moronic view of the world. She thinks he needs to go out and learn from the real world. He decides, after an offhand comment from Rahne, to go to New York. Then we cut to New York, where Spider-Man finds some people from the Animal Liberation Front freeing a bunch of animals being used for experiments. Nocenti always liked bringing real-world issues into her comics. Warlock is in New York, looking like David Letterman. He’s getting attention, so he changes to look like a guy in the crowd. He finds Spider-Man, and decides to talk to him, but almost gives away the identities of the New Mutants and panics and runs away. Then he sees some toys in a window, and goes in to check them out. A couple scientists in the store decide to take him home to study him. The guy’s half of the apartment is clean and tidy, while the girl’s is a huge mess. Then there’s some talking and fun stuff. Then a test accidentally overcharges Warlock, making him grow and forget who he is. He becomes Godzilla – Warlodzilla – while spouting lines from TV. Spider-Man shows up and tries to distract him, but Warlock says he needs to focus on not blowing up. Then Warlock changes to King Konglock to climb up on a roof. Then he drops the female scientist, turns into a rocket, and launches into the sky, where he explodes. And that’s the end of Warlock. Wait, no, he’s OK. Later, he sees a new report saying Spider-Man was working with a terrorist group that launched a rocket, and he knows it’s a lie, so he vows to never watch TV again. It’s a pretty good story. Nocenti uses it to explore questions of scientific ethics. She doesn’t really answer any questions about it, she just makes it clear that questions are necessary. The two scientists are kinda fun. They definitely feel like Nocenti characters, especially the woman – they’re weirdly calm about some pretty big things. But they’re still fun. And Adams’ art is great. It’s a good comic.

Uncanny X-Men #209

I’ll probably be doing a thing tomorrow. I’ll talk about it Tuesday. But for today, by Claremont and JRJr, “Salvation.”

Salvation

That’s a pretty generic cover.

We pick up where we left off, with Nimrod confronting the assembled X-Men and Hellfire Club. Rachel is curled up in a ball not far away, and hears thoughts about Nimrod. She wants to help, but talks herself out of it. Rogue busts out of the ground, which stuns Leland, allowing Kitty to go rescue Colossus. The Hellfire guards open fire on Storm, who’s saved by Callisto, and then the guards are scared off by Nightcrawler and Wolverine. Rogue fights Shaw, and apparently they’ve battled before, and Shaw nearly killed her. Sadly, a story that never does get told. But I actually kinda like that sort of thing. Makes the comic world seem bigger when we know there are a lot of stories we’ll never actually get to see. Anyway, Rogue throws Shaw at Nimrod, who sends him into orbit.

Selene attacks Nimrod, with no success. Her pawn, Von Roehm, gets fried by Nimrod. Storm suggests an alliance against Nimrod. Rogue gets taken out by Nimrod. Rachel wants to go help, but also doesn’t want to, and she’s too hurt to help anyway. She follows some music, and finds Spiral’s Body Shoppe.

More fighting. Leland tries to use his power on Nimrod, keeping him distracted Nightcrawler tries to teleport away a chunk of him, but Nimrod is ready, and when Nightcrawler disappears, no one can tell if he teleported or was disintegrated. Leland starts to have a heart attack, which makes him release his power from Nimrod. Colossus pops out of the ground to grab him, while Kitty phases through him. Colossus starts slamming Nimrod around. Selene wraps Nimrod up, and Storm gets an idea for Leland’s last act. She wants him to bring Shaw back down. Wolverine tries to finish Nimrod off, but Nimrod teleports away.

Throughout the fight, we also get scenes of Rachel following Spiral up a spiral path, leaving bits of herself behind as she starts dancing along with Spiral. The issue ends with Spiral promising she’ll be a star. As I said before, this was supposed to lead to a Phoenix limited series, which never developed.

This was a really good issue. It was mostly just fighting, but it was done fairly well. Not perfectly. There were a lot of panels of characters just standing around. Nimrod spent a little too much of the fight just hovering menacingly. Truthfully, for most of the fight, there’s little real sense of danger or tension. And Nimrod ends up being defeated a little too easily – Colossus and Kitty just smack him around a bit, and that’s pretty much that. That bit is really cool, though. Also awesome was Leland turning Shaw into a meteor. It’s worth noting that Shaw actually survived it, though he was unconscious. Shaw’s power seems to have no upper limit, on the kinetic energy he can absorb. Anyway, it’s a really cool scene. One thing Claremont could’ve done is give Nimrod some thought bubbles suggesting a reluctance to kill the X-Men. It would’ve justified how slow the fight was, while also adding to his depth. This issue treats him as just a mutant-hunting robot. No personality, no hint at his growing humanity. That’s a shame.

The better side of the issue is Rachel’s. Her doubts and fears are effective. When she starts following Spiral, it’s odd and creepy without doing anything too overtly creepy. There’s a sinister undertone to it all. It’s a real shame that the Phoenix limited series never happened. I should also note that, apparently, the Rogue/Shaw fight was planned for the original Ms. Marvel series. I guess Claremont had planned to have Ms. Marvel, the Brotherhood and the Hellfire Club all be in conflict for an arc. Of course, the series was cancelled before that could happen. Another shame. But like I said, it’s kinda cool when there are references to untold stories.

The art in the issue is OK. I think the art is part of why the fight was boring. JRJr (who did the layouts, with finishes by Craig Russell) would’ve been the one who choreographed the fight, and he did a weak job of it.  I suppose he needed to make plenty of space for Claremont’s dialogue – especially with Claremont being such a wordy writer – but just the same, he could’ve included a lot more images of Nimrod actually attacking the mutants. Once again, it gets a lot better in the Rachel sections. The colours work really well there – very bright. There is an odd sense of flatness, though. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. Part of the problem may have been printing limitations of the time. I can’t help but think of how glorious those pages would look if done today.

All in all, a good issue, but not one of the better ones.

Also this month, the debut of Classic X-Men #1! The first issue reprints most of Giant-Size X-Men #1, by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. I won’t re-review that stuff. There is, however, some new stuff, by Claremont and John Bolton. The issue actually starts with some new material. It shows Scott returning from the first (failed) mission to Krakoa. Xavier reads his mind to find what happened, and then Scott’s optic blasts start back up, stronger than ever. Then comes the reprint material – mostly, it’s the gathering of the new team, with the actual rescue being very much compressed. By which I mean it’s done in two frigging pages. Seriously, two pages. Then, more new material.

Xavier wonders what’s going to happen with the two teams of X-Men. He checks on Havok and Polaris, and they plan on going back to school. Xavier’s fine with that. He checks on Scott, who’s also being checked on by Jean, but he’s determined to finish a report on the Krakoa mission. She knows he loves her, but wants him to find a way to express it. Banshee and Colossus are in the common room – Banshee playing piano, Colossus drawing. Nightcrawler pops in to join them. Iceman also enters, and acts like an asshole. He hints they might be traitors, he snaps at Colossus for being Russian, and he’s just angry at there being a new bunch of X-Men. Iceman’s a dick. Nightcrawler offers friendship, and Iceman storms out. He passes Thunderbird, and tells him off, too. Back outside, Wolverine finds Jean, and hits on her. This is where Claremont apparently decided that Jean and Wolverine belonged together. Because prior to this, he had never done anything that really hinted that she was really interested in him. Quite the contrary, he’d made it clear that she belonged with Scott. My guess is that Claremont’s bitterness over Jean’s return, and Scott being taken from Maddie, made him latch onto the Jean/Wolverine ship, even though it ignored his own damn stories to do that.

In the air, Angel flirts with Storm. He spots Wolverine making his move on Jean, and interrupts by grabbing him and tossing him into a tree. Wolverine goes berserk, so Storm interrupts with a lightning bolt. Jean goes to talk to Wolverine, but he says he’s bad news. She says she’s not scared.

Morning comes, and Jean goes to talk to Xavier. She confesses her attraction to Wolverine. Urgh! Ugh! No no no! Bad Claremont! Bad! Honestly, the whole Jean/Wolverine thing just pisses me off. She also says she wants to see the real world, and Xavier wishes her well.

Meh. The new opening material is pretty bland – I think it’s mostly designed to introduce Scott, to any new readers. The new material at the back is OK. Iceman really does come across as an unbearable prick. He’s just completely impossible to like here. Just a spoiled, xenophobic ass. The interactions between Banshee, Colossus and Nightcrawler are good. The Jena/Wolverine stuff is just . . . I hate it. I hate it so much. I really do. I hate that ship. It is one of my all-time most-hated ships. It pisses me off every single time I see it, and it pisses me off a thousand times worse when I see it used in the comics. I hate it.

I don’t hate Bolton’s art, though. (Ha! Segue!) It’s good art, especially for this type of character-focused stuff. It’s really soft and pretty. It does a good job at setting mood. It’s good work.

I should also mention Captain America Annual #8, by Mark Gruenwald and Mike Zeck. Wolverine guest-stars. The story even starts with Wolverine in a bar, ignoring a brawl going on behind him. At the centre of the fight is Bob Frank, Nuklo. Wolverine decides to follow him out. Nuklo gets attacked by a robot, so Wolverine jumps in to slash it up. The robot leaves, and Wolverine hears the word “Tess.” After getting Nuklo to a hospital, he looks for the robot’s trail. He and Captain America both independently track it to Adametco, an adamantium manufacturer. They come across each other, and Cap wants to know what Wolverine’s doing there. Now that the X-Men are working with Magneto, Cap wants explanations whenever they do anything. Wolverine gets annoyed and attacks. The robot breaks up the fight by joining in. The robot and its handler, Overrider, escape, so Cap and Wolverine decide to team up. They each do some independent checking around, then head to a military base being attacked by Tess and Overrider. Cap and Wolverine take down Tess, and then confront Overrider, whose plan is to fire all of America’s nuclear missiles into the sea, as unilateral disarmament to stop WW3. His son suffers “nuclear psychosis” – he’s so scared of nuclear war that he’s withdrawn from reality. Stupid, really. Comics used to love giving characters catatonic relatives – especially children – for villains to care for. The catatonia was seldom the result of physical trauma – it was usually “the horror of war,” or something along those lines. It was shock, basically. In comics, shock has a tendency to be permanent. People only ever get over shock if it was played for laughs in the first place. Regardless, I don’t think there were many kids in the ’80s who went into permanent stupor over fears of nuclear war. So that’s stupid. Anyway, Cap throws his shield to knock Overrider off his little flying platform, and Wolverine considers stabbing him, but instead just lets him hit the ground. Cap tells off Wolverine, saying he’ll never be an Avenger. That’s probably the most notable part of this entire comic, and it’s only notable in hindsight – Wolverine was an Avengers mainstay for Bendis’ entire run. Anyway, this comic’s not very good. Part of the problem, I think, is the knowledge that nuclear war hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if it was actually that huge a concern in the ’80s – the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, definitely, but hadn’t that fear started to fade by the ’80s? Decades of nothing happening must have left people a lot more jaded about it, I would think. So the whole “the world is going to be ended in nuclear fire!” hysteria of some of these comics just feels quaint and absurd. It’d be like reading a comic warning about the impending doom of Y2K. It’s hard to take it seriously at all. Now, the nuclear fears could be done well – Ann Nocenti, during her Daredevil run, had a kid who was convinced nuclear war was coming. But it was a result of him being a young kid watching too much news and having too active an imagination. But here? “Nuclear psychosis?” Give me a frigging break, Gruenwald. Beyond that, the story was a fairly standard superhero story, with nothing too remarkable about the writing or the art.

Speaking of Gruenwald’s Captain America, the same month had Captain America #321, where he shoots a terrorist. Then he spends a few months angsting about it. It was pretty silly, truthfully.

X-Men comics for August 19 2015

Air conditioning is one of the greatest inventions in human history. Here’s comics.

X-Tinction Agenda #3, by Marc Guggenheim and Carmine Di Giandomenico. Cameron Hodge wakes up, still a disembodied head, and the Genegineer says he brought Hodge back to kill mutants. Back in X-City, Rachel is briefing a team assembled to retrieve their friends taken prisoner on Genosha. The team is herself, Ink, Longshot, Storm, Rockslide and Thunderbird. Back on Genosha, Rictor goes to talk to Boomer, and gets hit with a guilt trip. Triage and Rogue are trying to do their thing to cure people, when the X-Men launch their attack. And then it’s a lot of fighting. This is pretty good. Not as good as the first two issues. It’s dominated by fighting, and with a better artist, that would make for a fantastic issue. Sadly, CDG is not that artist. He’s not bad, but he’s not great. At . . . anything, really. He’s really not a good dialogue artist, and he’s not a great action artist, either. It can sometimes be a bit hard to follow exactly what’s happening. Also, I hate his design sense. He has a poor sense of design. It’s a little too far towards practical, for one thing, but more than that, there’s a lot of same-ness to a lot of the designs. The writing in this issue is better than the art. We get some explanation of the plague, and we get the return of Cameron Hodge. Always nice to see him pop up again. He became a pretty interesting villain in the late ’80s. Especially when he went completely off the deep end for the original X-Tinction Agenda. We don’t really get to see that batshit crazy Hodge in this issue; he’s too confused by his surroundings. The Genegineer is lame. He’s a boring, generic bad guy. It’s actually a little hard to believe no one on Genosha knew he was so rabidly anti-mutant. I know comic book villains can keep secrets really well, but still, you’d think there would’ve been some clues that people may have picked up on over the years. Oh well. It’s just one of those standard fiction tropes you’re not supposed to think about too much. Along the lines of why people with super powers don’t use their powers to make money. All in all, this was still a good issue.

House of M #1, by Dennis Hopeless and Marco Failla. Magneto narrates about the life he’s led, and how he’s now a king. Meanwhile, the human resistance is still planning resistance, with Cage delivering a stirring speech. They’re attacked by the Red Guard, Wolverine’s security team. Hawkeye, Felicia and Misty almost escape. Back at Magnus’ palace, Quicksilver shows up to Lorna and Wanda’s breakfast. He’s supposed to be in Atlantis, negotiating a trade deal. Wanda is yelling at her boy over the phone. Then she sees them on the news, protesting for human rights. Back in the city, the three escaped humans are found by Sentinels, but they’re rescued by Deathlocket. Because why not, I guess? This is pretty interesting. There’s some nice intrigues going on. I like Wiccan and Speed apparently being mutant rights activists with a bad reputation. Wanda as the angry mother is oddly amusing. Hopeless does seem to be setting up quite a few plots to juggle at once. It should be fine, though. Failla’s art is pretty good. But he does such weird faces. They just look totally off. It’s weird and creepy and I don’t like it.

Inferno #4, by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Garron. Colossus is a bit shaken at seeing her sister expand Limbo. Longshot is spying on her. And Strange shows up with a couple Thors. Just generic ones, nothing cute. Strange appoints her as the new Baron of the Domain. The remaining X-Men are hiding in the subway. Jean tells Scott they should just try to escape, rather than try to find a way to fight back. She figures they’ve lost. Scott delivers an epic speech about standing their ground and taking back what’s theirs. Then they get attacked. Above, Colossus is leading the Goblin Queen’s forces through Illyana’s forces. While they all debate a little over what to do, Boomer shows back up. She leads them down into tunnels, where they meet the rest of the X-Men. This is really fun. There’s a lot of tension, of course. But then Tabby shows up and makes everything better just by being her delightfully crazy self. I love Tabby. I really do. She needs more use. But then, so do a lot of characters. I’m a little disappointed that the Maddie/Jean meeting didn’t get more space. They don’t really react to each other. Oh well, I suppose there was only so much space. Garron’s art is really good. He draws a messed-up New York, great expressions, and exciting action. And a delightful Tabby. Seriously, she just steals the book the moment she reappears.

That’s the X-stuff. Here’s a few other comics.

Secret Love, by a whole bunch of people. The first story is by Michel Fiffe, and is about Daredevil, Typhoid Mary and Karen Page. It apparently takes place during Inferno. Karen watched Daredevil fight some demons, and then fight Typhoid Mary. And then Typhoid turns into Mephisto. It’s a weird story. Very dark. Like, a lot darker than I expected of this comic. It’s good, though. I really dug it. Fiffe gives Karen a fairly nice voice, and he does a very nice job with the art. The art is perhaps the best part of the story. It’s a really good style. It has some very slight shades of Maleev, but nowhere near as dark. There’s some actual colour to Fiffe’s work. Faces are occasionally weird, though. Still, good story. Next is Felipe Smith’s story, about Robbie and Kamala. Yay! Robbie wins a race, and is being admired by Lisa. In the racetrack’s Circle Q, Kamala is hanging out with Bruno. The boss sends Kamala out with a Slurpee and hot dog for Robbie, as some advertising for the Circle Q. One of the monsters on the track suddenly attacks! Ms. Marvel and Ghost Rider knock it out. And then stare deep into each other’s eyes. I love this story. It’s awesome. They make an entertaining team-up. Kamala is dorky and cheerful, as she should be. Just irrepressibly happy. The art is fun. It’s very much a manga-influenced style, so it’s really expressive, and energetic, and fun. It’s a really good story, and it makes me hope the two get a team-up issue after Secret Wars, back in the normal continuity. Then Jeremy Whitley and Gurihiru do an Iron Fist/Misty Knight story. Misty goes to Colleen’s apartment, for help getting ready for a date. Danny’s gone to Luke and Jessica’s place for help, and a tie, because despite owning a company, Danny doesn’t own a tie. Also, Luke and Jessica apparently have a long-running argument on which type of peanut butter to buy. That is brilliant. Anyway, Danny and Misty are both really nervous. They both feel their marriage is having problems. At least their daughter is adorable. They go to dinner, and it’s awkward. Then they fight a dinosaur. Dinosaurs are apparently the ultimate relationship fixer. The story is adorable. It really is. The writing is adorable. The art is adorable. The characters are adorable. The fact that Luke and Jessica argue over peanut butter is adorable. All of it. Even the dinosaur. I love it. Next, Marguerite Bennett and Kris Anka do Squirrel Girl/Thor. Squirrel Girl wins a date with Thor. I’m already at, like, 94% of the yes. There’s dancing, there’s touching (and naming) Thor’s abs. There’s a chariot drawn by squirrels. The story is adorbz. It’s a story about Squirrel Girl winning a date with Thor. What more could you want? Bennett and Anka both clearly had a lot of fun with it, and it’s just great. And, finally, Katie Cook does an Ant-Man/Wasp story. With them as an actual ant and wasp. Ant-Man sends Wasp on a scavenger hunt. It’s so cute. So cute! The story has no dialogue, but it does have a few funny little captions here and there. And it’s just really, really cute. So, the book as a whole: Great. Aside from the first story, the comic is hilarious, and cute, and sweet, and fun. And the first story is still really good, just not, you know, funny or cute. So I’d definitely suggest giving this book a read. It’s great.

Captain Britain & the Mighty Defenders #2, by Al Ewing and Alan Davis. In the Domain of Mondo City, Maria Hill is both Baron and Thor. Maria Hill as Thor. Holy hell that’s a frightening thought. People from the Yinsen City domain are being put in detention zones, watched over by War Machine. I love this War Machine. “Look at all my guns!” It makes me laugh. Luckily, She-Hulk has a plan. Meanwhile, Boss Cage is interrogating Faiza. She frees herself by taking the sentient torture chair she’s in apart. Faiza is awesome. She then summons Excalibur from where it’s being studied. It smashes through walls to get to her. Again, Faiza is awesome. Especially when she gives a cheerful “bye!” Back outside, Boss Frost tries to read White Tiger’s mind, but isn’t prepared for the god living there. White Tiger: Also awesome. War Machine attacks the now-free Defenders, focusing on She-Hulk. Kid Rescue disrupts the energy walls of the cell, freeing the other detainees there. Spider-Hero attacks the guards. And She-Hulk takes out War Machine’s guns. Poor War Machine. And then Faiza confronts Boss Thor Hill. It’s a really good story. Very interesting. A great ending. I wish the series was longer. I mean, only two issues? Unfair. It’s too good to be so short. The whole issue works. There’s great action showing how competent the Defenders are as heroes. There’s Faiza being both a badass and also genuinely nice. There’s a wonderful twist regarding why Faiza was out in the wilderness in the first place. Davis’ art is as great as you’d expect of Alan Davis. This is just great.

Secret Wars Journal #4. There’s two stories, but the one I’m reviewing is by Sina Grace and Ken Lashley. In the Sentinel Territories, Northstar’s husband, Kyle, finds Psylocke, who’s been using her psychic powers to keep herself hidden under a false identity. He wants her help rescuing Northstar. She’s scared, and wants to live her life. He chews her out. Ultimately, she agrees to help. They attack the camp Northstar’s in, get a nice prison riot going, and find Northstar. It’s a good story. All about finding a reason to live, something to fight for and even die for. Grace’s writing is really good. She has a good handle on Psylocke’s voice. Lashley’s art is also excellent. He draws good rubble, and really exciting action. When Psylocke goes into action, it’s awesome to see. It’s a solid story.

Runaways #3, by Noelle Jones and Sanford Greene. The Runaways are in the 1872 town of Timely. Jubilee, Molly and Skaar go into the general store to steal things. It goes poorly, and they flee while being shot at. They return to the ship, where there’s lots of joking, except for Jubilee, who’s scared of losing anyone else. Delphyne gives her a hug. Later on, they end up in the Warzone, where the plan is to meet up with Cho’s parents. It’s a good comic. Jubilee’s little breakdown about not wanting to lose anyone was a nice touch. She’s really serious throughout the issue. It’s interesting to see, given she’s normally the one always making jokes.

I should talk a little about Guardians Team-Up #10, by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. It features a team-up of Rocket and Deadpool. It starts with a fourth-wall-breaking section of Deadpool refusing to do a team-up, since he’s too big to be helping other books, until the writer points out Guardians is a massive franchise and might actually help his book. Then it’s off to the story, where Rocket and Deadpool meet each other on a mercenary mission. Macho Gomez, a stupid character from Way’s awful, stupid, awful Deadpool run is there. He needs help, and asks Deadpool and Rocket to help him. More mercs show up and try to kill Deadpool and Rocket. Then they’re attacked by Drakillars, creepy little space-monkey-bat-things. They find one of Cable’s weapon caches. This is a pretty mediocre story. The point seems to be that Deadpool just flies by the seat of his pants without bothering with tactics, while Rocket is obsessive about tactics and strategies. Except neither of those is true. Deadpool is fully capable of being strategic, and Rocket is capable of making shit up as he goes along. The writing is bland. The art is decent. Norton’s capable of better. This issue isn’t worth reading.

I also want to mention Loki: Agent of Asgard #17, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett. It’s the final issue, and it’s wonderful. It’s just a beautiful story. More commentary on the nature of stories and myth, and also a really, really sweet final confrontation between Loki and Loki. It’s been a great run, and I’m sad to see it end, and I’m really hoping Marvel launches a new Loki series soon. The character seems to bring out the best in writers, bringing out stories that are really smart and really touching and really funny.

I will also mention Gamer Girl & Vixen #s 1 and 2, co-written by blogger Henchman-4-Hire. The writers are Kristi McDowell and Sean Ian Mills, the aforementioned blogger, and the artist is Gemma Moody. They funded the project through Kickstarter. It’s a pretty good amateur comic. Not professional-level stuff, but not bad. Some fun chemistry between the characters. The art’s not bad. Not a bad comic.

Alpha Flight #37 (1986, August)

I’ve got tomorrow’s pull list up. But now, by Mantlo and Ross, “Death Birth.”

Death Birth

Alpha Flight loses a member. I’d rather it lose a writer.

The issue starts with a flashback and journal entry from 1848. A couple ships have gotten stuck in ice while looking for the Northwest Passage. Apparently, the passage was navigated in a 1903-1906 expedition. Of course, climate change means that pretty soon, the Northwest Passage will be open routinely. Which is not a good thing. Anyway, the journal is by a doctor along on the trip. He leads the remainder of the crew away. They all die, but the doctor drinks an elixir that would leave him a state like death. The surviving men buried him, so that the spring wouldn’t be able to warm him up enough to wake him.

In the present, Alpha Flight is flying towards the spot Shaman chose for Snowbird to give birth. Aurora shows off her winter costume, which has her completely covered. I think we’re supposed to still find its tightness sexy, except that every superhero wears equally tight clothing. Anyway, she flirts with Bochs. That leads to nowhere good.

They come across Talisman, who tells off her father, and says she’s there to watch him fail. She’s become a bit of a bitch. They land, and start the birthing process. Right on top of where that guy was buried in 1848. While Talisman continues acting like a bitch, Shaman worries about her.

Then the Gods of the North show up. Hodiak, Nelvanna, and the Nameless Shaper, named Turoq. Yes, Mantlo named the Nameless. Why? Because Mantlo’s entire run on Alpha Flight was pure hackery. Regardless, the gods offer Snowbird a chance to rejoin them, which she declines.

She starts giving birth, and Dr. Corpse starts somehow using magic to attack Alpha Flight. Talisman says she made the spirits lead Shaman there, because it was a place of both power and death. Northstar gets caught by muck, and Aurora reminds him she can’t help because they can’t touch without losing their powers. An unnecessary reminder, I’d say. Aurora gets covered in maggots, and Box rusts. Vindicator says it’s like they’re being attacked by forces of death and decay, because someone needs to provide that exposition. Then she’s attacked by flies. In the Arctic. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work. Puck falls through the ice and into the water.

Talisman keeps the spirits from helping Shaman, and says she’s going to step in to save the day herself, because she’s a bitch. Then Dr. Corpse joins with Snowbird’s baby, and calls himself Pestilence. But then it turns out Talisman screwed up – she figured Pestilence was a spirit she could control, but nope! He rips her tiara off and tosses it away.

And then it cuts to Namor showing up in Atlantis.

Meh. As usual, when it comes to Mantlo’s Alpha Flight, all I can say is meh. There’s some relatively interesting ideas, but Mantlo’s writing was terrible, so the comic ended up just being boring. Talisman’s bitchiness went ridiculously out of control. Seriously, she couldn’t be in a panel without saying or doing something bitchy or spiteful. Mantlo took her resentfulness of her father, and made that the entirety of her character here. She has absolutely no other character trait beyond “I hate my daddy.” Mantlo had a bad knack for making characters one-dimensional. Doug continues to be defined by whining about the situation. You’d think Snowbird would get a good role in a comic about her giving birth, but nope! She may as well be a plot device. Aurora begins a flirtation with Bochs, because she needs to flirt with someone, and he was the only guy on the plane who wasn’t old. Just so much bleh.

The art is fine, but it’s nothing special. It’s not the kind of art that makes you buy a comic. It’s the kind of art that’s just there.

Such a mediocre comic.

Kevin Reviews Uncanny X-Men

Kevin O'Leary Reviews Every Issue of Uncanny X-Men from the 1960s to the Present

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Films, Audios, and Stories for Fun

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For new comic book fans by a new comic book fan.

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