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X-Men comics of July 19 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Comics, which kept me up entirely too late.

X-Men Gold #8, by Marc Guggenheim, Ken Lashley, Frank Martin, Andrew Crossley, and Cory Petit. Rachel stops a bullet from hitting Colossus in the hit, and throws it back at the X-Cutioner, who’s wearing adamantium-laced body armour, because surely that would be easy to come by. Rockslide and Dust call Kitty to let her know about all the bombs in the Danger Room, so she heads down to help. Out in the city, Nightcrawler’s being attacked by people who think he’s a demon, so Logan and Storm rescue him. Nightcrawler’sreally badly beaten, and says that they killed him, but because he escaped Heaven, he’s not allowed back in. Following up on that weird Amazing X-Men arc by Jason Aaron. The one that brought back Azazel, despite Azazel being a shitty character who should’ve been forgotten forever. Back at the school, Kitty orders an evacuation of the school while she sees if the X-Cutioner has a disarming trigger for the bombs. She also expresses a certain jaded disinterest in the idea of the school being blown up again. Which is fair, the school gets wrecked every 5 minutes. Also, Colossus gets a pretty perfect line. As he’s heading back inside to help Kitty, Rockslide reminds him his powers don’t work, and he’d be crazy to go back in. Colossus responds, “I am not crazy, I am Russian.” Which also sets up scene shift to Russia, where a couple guys make a deal with the Hand for the return of Omega Red’s body. Then to the school, where a freshly-katana’d Kitty goes after the X-Cutioner. Soooo . . . meh. Much as I love Kitty, even I’m starting to think that Guggenheim’s giving her too much focus. Or, more accurately, he’s not giving enough focus to the rest of the cast. It means that most of the main cast is still flat, with little real personality. And Kitty, frankly, actually isn’t much deeper, despite the vast amounts of panel time she gets. Guggenheim’s take on Kitty reminds me quite a bit of Bendis’ take, but with less charm. She’s been entirely too serious throughout the series so far. She makes lots of snarky comments, but there’s no happiness to her. Or to any of the other characters. This is a series that is utterly joyless, beyond a couple superficial moments in a couple issues. (“Look! Softball! You like when the X-Men play softball, right?”) It is taking itself so goddamn seriously, while having not a single goddamn interesting thing to say. The X-Cutioner’s motive is that he’s angry at the X-Men for not caring about the consequences of their big battles. Sure, because it’s not like that hasn’t been a recurring theme for decades. Claremont routinely had characters looking at the wreckage left behind by one of their fights, and musing about how they need to be mindful of the consequences, and the human cost. And, oh yeah, Marvel had a big frigging Civil War event set off by superheroes not paying enough attention to the consequences of their actions. But sure, this dude with no personality is definitely the one who’s going to make readers really think about the issue. Also, holy shit was this X-Cutioner ever a boring, shitty character. He had no personality beyond revenge. There was absolutely no depth to him at all. There was nothing there. He wasn’t a character, he was a plot device, for a pretty generic and dull plot. Also, he’s outfitted with all this incredibly high-tech stuff, and no one even wonders where he got it. It’s possible that’ll be revealed later – I would kinda expect it to tie into the Generic Mutant-Hating Politician lady’s plot – but it would feel like kind of an ass-pull, because this story doesn’t even try to suggest that readers should be wondering about it. If you’re going to do a reveal about something down the line, it’s something the reader should be expecting a reveal about. At least the art’s good. Lashley. Woot. Yay Lashley, totally wasted on a painfully generic and lifeless story. Marc Guggenheim is a hack.

Astonishing X-Men #1, by Charles Soule, Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong, Richard Isanove, Rain Beredo, and Clayton Cowles. Psychics are being telepathically murdered, around the world. Then Psylocke, in London, gets attacked. Bishop happens to be in the British Museum, reading, looking for some indication about the inevitable end of the world. Angel is in Scotland, apparently just flying. Gambit and Fantomex are in Paris, trying to rob the Louvre. Logan and Rogue are in the X-jet, somewhere over the Atlantic, on their way back to the US from something. They all get hit by Psylocke’s telepathic cry for help. She’s created a giant psychic butterfly, clinging to the side of the Spire (I think? I’m not really up to date on London landmarks). So, everyone converges there, to try to help free her from whatever’s possessing her. In the midst of the fight, Gambit charges up a couple of Fantomex’s clips, to create exploding bullets. Which is a pretty cool use of his power. As for this issue, it’s very dense. It’s a bit longer than a normal comic, and it has an extremely fast pace. Soule and Cheung make room for some character interactions, and they try to have some fun with it, but it all moves along so quickly that it’s hard to really catch a breath with any of it. Plus, the cast assembled just feels so random. They all just happened to be in the area. Why? Why not, I guess. Because the plot demanded that they all be there. The return of the Shadow King is all fine and good, no particular problem there, he’s a classic X-foe. But so much about the story here just feels like it was slapped together in order to justify what’ll come after. Which is a little disappointing. But hopefully, now that the set-up’s done, Soule and Cheung will do a better job at telling the story going forward. Speaking of Cheung, while his art is great, I can’t really say I enjoy it. There’s something flat about it, I find. He’s obviously immensely talented, I just have trouble getting invested in his art. Also, as I recall, he’s pretty bad for hitting deadlines, so we’ll see if this series starts getting hit with delays. Regardless, all in all, this is a clumsy and messy start to what should be a perfectly serviceable X-Men series.

Totally Awesome Hulk #21, by Greg Pak, Robert Gill, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Karla returns to Serenity Hills, with Bobby, the future test subject. Elsewhere, Amadeus tells the others that they’ve found the Weapon X base. Sabretooth suggests dropping a bomb on it from above, but Amadeus says there’s kids. So Sabretooth suggests getting the bomb into the labs, and Amadeus refuses that option, too. He’s too soft for a murder team. Pretty much everyone just wants to get the bomb into the labs and blow the whole place up, so he grabs the bomb, and he and Sabretooth fight. While Warpath says the stuff about wolf packs having Alphas isn’t true. Because it’s not. The guy guy who came up with the Alpha Male idea later rejected it as incorrect. I love comics that take time to educate. Especially when it’s a casual conversation while action is happening behind them. Anyway, Sabreooth knocks Amadeus out of the plane and detonates the bomb. This issue continue’s the crossover’s trend of starting off creepy and casually evil, before becoming fun. Pak is just enjoying himself with this arc, and it’s nice to see. There’s a lot of fun banter among the team. It makes for an enjoyable read. The Weapon X people are awful, but so professional about it, you kinda can’t help but appreciate them. And the hero team is such a strange contrast of personalities, yet they play off each other really well. The art’s really good. Gill’s got a strong style, and Woodard’s a stellar colour artist. They nail both the creepy bits and the comedic moments equally well. This crossover’s unexpectedly delightful.

That’s the X-stuff, here’s what else I read.

Ms. Marvel #20, by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Ian Herring and Travis Lanham. We open on Aamir giving a very impassioned speech about what leads to radicalized Muslims. He makes the argument that they’re usually people who tried to assimilate, but who were never really accepted, and who then got roped in by some jerkass preying on their disillusionment. Then he’s told he wasn’t brought in for terrorism, he was brought in for unreported powers. He’s going to be made an example, to show that Jersey City has no tolerance for superheroes. Kamala wakes up on the Waterfront, hallucinates about Bruno, and then wakes up fully. She finds a rally for Mayor Chuck Worthy, and tries to talk to the people there, but Discord and Lockdown attack her, and she’s forced to flee. As always, great work from the Ms. Marvel team. It can’t be over-stressed what an MVP Ian Herring is on this series – colour artists tend to get overlooked when discussing comics, but right from the first issue, Herring’s been knocking it out of the park, providing a sense of consistency to the visuals, and always setting the right tone with the colours. For the story, though, Wilson is pretty clearly tapping into the zeitgeist of the moment. Chuck Worthy denying his Hydra ties is pretty similar to Trump denying his Russian ties. The promotion of hate and fear reflects what’s happening in the US, and an innocent Muslim being threatened with deportation is obviously not intended to be subtle. Wilson’s never shied away from getting political in Ms. Marvel, but now she’s leaning into it more than ever. It’s to her credit that she makes clear that the people supporting Worthy have valid concerns, even if Worthy himself is pretty clearly terrible. So the political commentary is smart and compelling. And the art’s great. Failla nails the facial expressions all through, especially Aamir’s expressions during his soliloquy. Anger, fear, fatigue, sadness. All exhibited clearly on his face. It’s very good work.

USAvengers #8, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna. Flashback to Toni’s childhood! She was in class, when she was pulled out and told that her father had died. A part of her has always blamed Tony Stark. And another part has wondered what she would have done in her dad’s situation. Now, she’s in that situation, locked in a cell with a dying Sunspot. Being shot in the head activated his powers, which are killing him because of his M-Pox. He’s hallucinating, too, so no help at all. So she starts working on a plan. In Paris, Doreen and Aikku have hooked up with a bunch of European heroes – Peregrine, Excalibur (Faiza Hussein!), Guillotine, Captain Britain, Outlaw and Ares. Awesome team. Excalibur is so awesome. Screw Brian Braddock, give us Faiza Hussein in the MCU. A Muslim woman in a headscarf who opens people with her mind and runs around with King Arthur’s sword. Also, Excalibur and Guillotine get along pretty well, even though their swords hate each other, and their friendship makes me happy. And Captain Britain uses the word “bagatelle,” and I honestly can’t imagine not laughing at that word. And Squirrel Girl creates a new battlecry: “Euro-U.S.Avengers – E.U.-nite!” I love this book. Meanwhile, in space, Cannonball is being sold at auction. Oh, and back on Earth, it turns out Philip Vogt is in the same prison as Toni. Neat! He even references events in Ultimates 2. As always, this is a lot of fun. We get some great Toni focus, with her thinking about her dad, and trying to think of a way to save Roberto and get out of the prison. She’s a fantastic character, and really deep here. She shows off just how clever she us, and how fearless. The Euro-U.S.Avengers part of the story is a lot of fun, with a great set of characters. Doreen and Aikku don’t do much, but that’s OK, because the European heroes are so good. I want more of them. They should get their own book. I love the art, too. Medina, Vlasco and Aburtov work together so well. The art is crisp and clear, and always interesting. And the comedic and dramatic beats are perfectly timed. This is one of the few titles where I don’t mind the Secret Empire tie-in, because it’s handled particularly smartly.

Ultimates 2 #9, by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino. The Maker is meeting with the High Evolutionary on Counter-Earth, and they spy on a meeting between Logos and the Aspirants, or Death Celestials. A meeting that is crashed by Galactus, Ego-Prime, Psi-Hawk, and the Infinaut, the Eternity Watch. As they fight, Maker and Evolutionary watch, and record. The Maker is crazy, but also absolutely compelling. The Dark Celestials allow it, so Galactus sends the Ghost of the Shaper of Worlds to collect the Ultimates, who are still fighting the Chitauri. America uses a portal to access the dimension of pure force that Cyclops’ blasts come from! Whihc is amazing! Meanwhile, T’Challa, still on Earth, goes to meet the White Tiger God. This issue is . . . weird. Which is the standard for this series. It’s always weird. Big, crazy cosmic ideas that I barely understand, but which are thrilling to read. Foreman and Brown kill on this book. There’s an abstractness to it that fits the story perfectly. This is thrilling, fascinating stuff. Not as character-driven as I’d like, but brilliant at what it’s doing.

America #5, by Gabby Rivera (with help from Kelly Thompson), Ramon Villalobos, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer, and Travis Lanham. It’s spring break, so America goes to stay with Kate for a bit, to get her bearings after the events of the first arc. America and Kate are so good together. America talks about what’s been going on, and Kate teases and supports her. Also, America gets a message from an old friend, asking for her help, but no portals. So, road trip! During this road trip, they sing “Just A Girl” by No Doubt, and it’s a pretty awesome song, so hell with it:

This is actually the only No Doubt song I like. Anyway, they then meet up with Magdalena, America’s old friend. And things get exciting. This is a good issue. America and Kate are just such perfect friends, nothing but love between them, and it shines through in their every line. Kelly Thompson’s collaboration ensures Kate sounds exactly like she should, and her detective skills get a little bit of recognition. I actually wouldn’t have minded more time spent on the road trip, though it definitely would’ve ruined the pacing of the issue. From a pacing perspective, the time spent on the road trip is exactly as long as it should have been. I think I just want an entire series about a KateMerica road trip, honestly. However, the pacing of this issue was pretty much perfect, which is good, because weird pacing has been one of this book’s biggest problems. America’s cheerfulness still feels wrong to me, but I’m actually inclined to allow it here, because Kate. This is far and away the best issue of the series, which is no surprise. Oh, also, I know Villalobos’ art won’t be for anyone, but I think it works spectacularly well here. I’m not sure what it is, but something about his art on this issue just works. Like, personal taste aside, he just kills it. And Tamra Bonvillain on colours. It’s Tamra Bonvillain. She’s one of the best.

Luke Cage #3, by David Walker, Nelson Blake II, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Sabino. It starts with a flashback from a few months ago, with Warhawk talking about being confused, and only being able to focus when he’s angry. And Dr. Burstein says it’s his fault, and he wants to help. Then, in the present, Warhawk and Luke are having to deal with Frankie, who’s out of control from the drug that Burstein’s assistant gave him. During the fight, Frankie stabsĀ  Warhawk with one of the cut-through-anything blades, and Warhawk uses the blade to decapitate Frankie, as revenge for Frankie ruining his car. This is a good issue. The fight’s really good. Very exciting. Warhawk’s obsession with his car is entertaining. There’s more mysteries unfolding. There’s a big last-page twist that has me feeling pretty good about myself. Good writing. Good art. Good series.

Once again, I didn’t really have time for the non-Marvel stuff. But Insexts and Bitch Planet are always amazing and you should 100% be reading them.

Pull List for July 19 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I could really use a light comics week.

I’ll go to the store for: America #5, by Gabby Rivera (with help from Kelly Thompson), Ramon Villalobos, Tamra Bonvillain; Bitch Planet Triple Feature, by various; Insexts #12, by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina; Luke Cage #3, by David Walker, Nelson Blake II, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Sabino; Ms. Marvel #20, by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Ian Herring and Travis Lanham; USAvengers #8, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna; Ultimates 2 #9, by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino

I’ll also review: Astonishing X-Men #1, by Charles Soule, Jim Cheung, Morales, Isanove, and Beredo; Totally Awesome Hulk #21, by Greg Pak, Robert Gill, and no frigging listing for the others; X-Men Gold #8, by Marc Guggenheim, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit.

So that’s 7 comics I’m picking up, and three additional reviews. Ugh, every week is like this.

There’s plenty to be excited about. Kate in America! With Kelly Thompson co-writing, so Kate reads like Kate. From the preview, the KateMerica friendship looks to be handled beautifully. Villalobos won me over on Nighthakwk, and he’s working again with Bonvillain, so the art will work for me, too. It’s gonna be good. The Bitch Planet Triple Feature, allowing creators to play in the sandbox KSD and DeLandro have created. The first issue was great, no reason to expect the second to fall short. Insexts is always gorgeously fucked up. Luke Cage has been interesting, with Walker telling a pretty intense story. Ms. Marvel is Ms. Marvel. USAvengers is one of the few titles I don’t mind tying into Secret Empire, and I’m happy to see more of Toni. And Ultimates 2 has been good, with some cool cosmic stuff, and it looks like this will have more of that, continuing to stay clear of Secret Empire.

October solicits are out. My Marvel pull list for that month: Avengers #672, Black Bolt #6, Hawkeye #11, All-New Wolverine #25, Hulk #11, Ms. Marvel #23, Squirrel Girl #25, Generation X #7, Luke Cage #166, All-New Wolverine #26, America #8, Black Panther #165, Moon Girl #24, Captain Marvel #125, USAvengers #11. 15 titles. Pretty light.

I’m still doing my training. It’s still boring. We’re starting to get to buddy-jack – sit in and listen to calls on the floor. That’s a bit more interesting than sitting and reading through training material. One thing that kinda sucks is there’s no wi-fi there, and I have no data plan. So I can’t access the Internet at work. It just means I’m reading on breaks. I also hate that the only places nearby to get food at a Tim Horton’s and a chip truck. I’ve been going to the chip truck a lot, because I keep forgetting to pick something up for lunches. I’ll need to start getting things. Just microwaveable crap.

I may soon have a date. One of the girls in my training class messaged me on a dating site. I’m not sure if she messaged me because she wanted to go out with me, or if she just wanted to chat since we’re in the same training class. Either way, I figured I may as well ask if she wanted to go out. She’s got a cold right now, so we won’t be doing anything this week, but once she feels better, we might hang out after work some time. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m hoping to go to Spider-Man Homecoming this weekend. My friend might be coming down so we can go.

I’m still playing Avengers Academy. I’ve got 56 characters unlocked, working on the 57th. For this month’s Homecoming event, I’ve gotten Spider-Man, Agent Venom, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Girl (Anya), Dr. Octopus, Venom, Green Goblin, Spider-Man 2099, and Spider-Ham. And I’m working on Silver Sable now. And soon, I’ll get MJ. And I’m working on Silk, too. I’m really hoping I can max out Spider-Girl before the event ends. And I’m working on maxing out Spider-Gwen, because that costume. Most of the other characters, I don’t really care about. And in Marvel Future Fight, I’ve got Storm! Woot! It’ll take a little while to max her out, but I’m gonna do it. Because Storm. Storm’s the best. (I still want her to get another solo, written by Yona Harvey.)

Anyway, that’ll do for this week.

Wolverine #10 (1989, August)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Pretty interesting issue today. By Claremont, Buscema, Sienkewicz, Rockwitz, and Bruzenak, “24 Hours.”

24 Hours

This issue is kinda Sabretooth’s peak.

Logan’s in one of the seedier bars in Madripoor, where a fight’s broken out. He’s spending the day away from anyone he knows or cares about. He thinks back to the past, and a bar, one he liked. He walked into it, holding the dead body of Silver Fox. Sabretooth pretty much admits to killing her for not having sex with him. Yeah, Sabretooth’s a horrible, horrible person. Logan’s ready to fight him, and Sabretooth says he only fights to the death. Back in the present, it’s midnight, and Logan leaves the bar and takes to the rooftops, while wondering if he ever really loved Silver Fox. It’s kinda funny. Here, he muses that he’s not sure how much he loved her, but it doesn’t take long after this story for writers to start treating Silver Fox as Logan’s great love. I guess it’s mostly Larry Hama who pushed that.

Anyway, back to the flashback, with Logan attacking Sabretooth, and Sabretooth kicking his ass. Back in the present, he hears a scream, and finds a man and woman being harassed by some thugs. He kicks their asses and takes the injured man to help. Back to the flashback, where the fight continues. In the present, Logan’s taken the man and woman to a brothel, to be patched up. There, he runs into Jessica Drew, who lives there with Lindsay. Logan and Jess climb up the wall to her place, and Logan sinks back into a flashback. He’d run away from Sabretooth, badly injured, and was ready to die, but he kept going, climbing up a cliff.

Present again. Jessica and Lindsay show off their apartment and their office, and it’s very nice. They chat a bit about being Prince Baran’s eyes and ears in Madripoor, so he can keep the balance of power between Coy and Tyger. After another quick flashback to Logan climbing the cliff, we return to the present, with him visiting Chief of Police Tai, who assures him the man Logan asked about is dead. He also wishes Patch a Happy Birthday, to Logan’s surprise. Tai’s apparently very good at his job.

Flashback. Sabretooth beats the crap out of Logan. Present again. Drew’s been trailing Logan, and refuses to back off. He decides to allow it. Then two guys from the bar – Daryl and Daryl, which I’m thinking might be a reference to Newhart, which had a trio of brothers named Larry, Darryl and Darryl – do a drive-by on them. With a submachine gun. And a goddamn grenade launcher. And a flamethrower.

Back to the flashback. Logan’s been beaten really badly. But before Sabretooth can rip his throat out, Logan tackles him off the cliff. In the present, Jessica pulls Logan out of the water, and the brothers are gone. Jessica didn’t do it. And Logan didn’t do it. Flashback, Sabretooth survived the fall from the cliff, but doesn’t think Logan did. Present, Logan apparently did survive that fall, and he finds the Daryls’ car outside the Princess Bar. The brothers are there, dead, with a note.

Wolverine #10

Unsigned? Ooh, secret admirer!

This is a good issue. It sets up a very long-running Logan plot: That Sabretooth hunts him every year on his birthday. It doesn’t quite lay out the root of their conflict, as Logan says they’d been in conflict even before Silver Fox’s murder, but it does show what made it a life-and-death conflict. It shows just how evil Sabretooth is, but more, it establishes Sabretooth as better than Logan. Back then, Logan just didn’t stand a chance against him. And today, odds are good Sabretooth had been trailing Logan all day, without Logan knowing. And that note really highlights just how personal their feud is, in a really effective way. It’s very intense, and very cool.

We also touch in on some of the supporting characters, and it’s nice. I like Jessica just refusing to leave him alone. The Daryls having frigging grenade launchers is hilarious to me. They’re such crappy antagonists, and they almost take Logan out, and it’s hilarious.

The art’s good. Sienkewicz’s inks bring a little more intensity to Buscema’s pencils. Makes it that little extra bit darker, to sell the story better. The flashback fight between Logan and Sabretooth is brutal.

So this is a really good issue.

X-Factor #43 (1989, August)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Simonson, Smith, Milgrom, Vincent, and Rosen, “Judgment War Part 1: Kidnapped.”

Judgment War Part 1: Kidnapped

This is an odd arc.

Ship rockets off into space. Jean is entranced by space and flies out. It is, of course, a terrible idea. There’s a daring rescue. Once she’s back inside, Scott asks what she was doing, and she remembers soaring through space. Phoenix’s memories.

X-Factor #43

This is why psychiatrists exist.

Then Ship goes into Hyperspace, and comes out above a planet, one that’s in the midst of a brutal war. Then there’s a giant Kirby-style space craft, and then a giant Celestial, big enough to hold Ship in the palm of its hand. Jean picks up some very vague feelings from it – surprise and satisfaction – and Scott asks if they should fight it. Dude, there are US states smaller than this guy, and you’re asking if you should fight it? No. No, Scott.

Then X-Factor is down on the planet, in the middle of a big battle. The sides are the Chosen and the Rejects. The Chosen look human, the Rejects look less human. But both sides are full of people with powers. So, big fight! During the fight, Archangel saves a hot chick, who gets angry at him for touching her, but who also thinks he’s beautiful. Then a dude, Rask, knocks him out and declares him a prisoner. Iceman also gets knocked out, in teamwork between a fire woman, Lev, and Rask. Jean gets hit with a telepathic whammy, which leaves Christopher unprotected. Scott gets knocked off a cliff. When a Celestial comes in for a landing, both sides break and retreat, with Beast joining the Rejects (who also take Jean as a prisoner), while Archangel and Iceman go with the prisoners (Archangel as a prisoner, Iceman, amnesiac, mistaken for a Chosen), and Scott’s left under the descending foot of a giant.

X-Factor #43

“Stepped on” is a pretty undignified death.

Yeah, this is a weird issue. Ship randomly flying off to another planet, where X-Factor gets dropped into the middle of a battle, leading them to be split among both sides. The Celestials are such an odd thing to put into an X-title, though interestingly, it’s not the last time the X-Men will have to deal with them. The Chosen/Reject war does have some pretty interesting aspects to it, which will be revealed as the arc goes on. We’ll also learn about Ship’s origin, which is the real purpose of this arc. Jean dealing with Phoenix and Maddie’s memories is a cool idea, and one that’s going to be handled really well in this arc. We get a little glimpse of it, but we’ll get more in future issues. This issue is primarily set-up, and feels like it, but it does the set-up efficiently and effectively. Also, Weezie’s dialogue is really good. It’s natural and believable. There’s some melodramatic dialogue from the Chosen, but there should be, and it contrasts well with the more normal dialogue X-Factor has.

The art is good. Smith does layouts, Milgrom does finishes, so it’s not as good as if Smith had done it himself. But it’s still good. Milgrom does a good job following Smith’s style. Milgrom was always better as an inker than a penciller, at least I thought so. Backgrounds are usually either very simple, or absent entirely, which is kinda boring. But facial expressions are clear and emotive.

Weird as this issue is, it’s pretty good.

X-Men comics of July 12 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Well, this post’s up, and now I should go to bed. Bleh.

X-Men Blue #7, by Cullen Bunn, Cory Smith, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. This is a Secret Empire tie-in, because that’s definitely what this book needed, is for an event to sidetrack from any story Bunn had been trying to build. Anyway, the team busts a bunch of mutant prisoners out of Alcatraz. In “New Tian,” the chunk of California that Captain Nazi gave the mutants as a homeland – Emma’s pissed off about the break-out, and blames Magneto for putting the kids up to it. Beast defends their actions, by noting that not everyone sees New Tian as the paradise it’s being painted as. The X-Men return to their hidden fortress in Redwood National Park, where they’re greeted by Briar Raleigh, still hanging out with Magneto, I guess. I’m pretty sure Bunn’s going to keep her around for as long as he works at Marvel. Briar lets them know she’s been making a list of oppressive actions for them to deal with. And then their base is attacked by a team consisting of Firestar (in a black costume to show that she’s on the Bad Side right now, because sometimes, comics decide that ham-fistedness is more important than good design), Mondo (who’s mud), Marrow, Toad, and Wolfsbane. So, Mondo, Marrow and Toad, I can see for this. But Firestar and Wolfsbane? They’re good people. They’re people who believe very strongly in Doing Good. So I cannot see either of them going after the X-Men without a damned good reason, and “freeing political prisoners” doesn’t strike me as a good enough reason. They do try to avoid a fight, but just the same, I don’t think they should have been on this team. They don’t fit. Emma sent a team to bring the X-Men down and bring them in. Would she include two people who are good people? And who also still have some long-standing resentment towards her? Firestar may have buried the hatchet with Emma, but I’m pretty sure she’d still punch Emma in the face before taking orders from her. Anyway, there’s a fight, and Angel gets captured by Archangel. Also, Havok shows up. Also, Rahne can apparently now split it into an entire wolf pack? With it being justified as a “secondary mutation.” That’s stupid. I know secondary mutations have been an idea for a long time – since Morrison – but some of them work better than others. Emma turning into a diamond? It doesn’t actually make sense, but it’s kinda cool, so I’ll accept it. Rahne turning into multiple wolves? No. That’s just a stupid idea. And man, just . . . this whole frigging issue. Ugh to the whole thing. Frigging Secret Empire. Let me be clear: Absolutely fucking no one is looking good in Secret Empire. This whole stupid, shitty event is ruining every single character who even shows up in the background of a panel. And its overwhelming shittiness permeates this issue, too. Everything about Secret Empire is stupid, and it makes the tie-ins stupid, too. Last week’s issue of Avengers only avoided it by having jack shit to do with Secret Empire. The more a tie-in tries to deal with goings-on in Secret Empire, the worse it becomes, and this issue is very heavily tied to what’s happening in Secret Empire, and it sucks so much ass. This is, without question, the worst issue of X-Men Blue so far. Not even close. That utterly random collection of mutants who attack the X-Men is the worst part. Again, why the hell is Emma using good people who hate her for this mission? It even applies to the jailbreak scene. They’re busting out people who speak out against the New Tian government. Random was among them. What the shit does Random care about how New Tian is run? Shit, Rahne and Firestar would have made way more sense there than later on. The art’s good, it’s fine, no particular complaints there. And the writing, for the most part, isn’t really bad, though there’s more hints of Boyverine having feelings for Jean, because that’s a ship that people frigging demanded to see. But this comic is just such a goddamn tie-in, in the worst ways, and it sucks and I’m mad that this issue exists.

Generation X #4, by Christina Strain, Amilcar Pinna, Martin Morazzo, Roberto Poggi, Felipe Sobreiro, and Clayton Cowles. The students are looking for whoever attacked Face. Back at the school, Jubilee’s hanging out with Dani, when she realizes that her students have absolutely snuck out. A quick check of their rooms confirms it. It’s a great moment, with Jubilee thinking of what she would have done as a student, and her and Dani both having an “oh crap” moment. I mean, they really should’ve seen it coming, considering how much both of them snuck out when they were students. Oh, also, Jubilee loves Drag Race. Anyway, Dani sends Jubilee to find them. Phoebe Cuckoo tries to find them telepathically, but Quire gives them psi-hats.

Generation X #4

Lin gets a tophat! Fancy!

And then they’re attacked by Monet/Emplate. Who gets to show how dangerous she is. She even manages to beat Quire at telepathy, which is impressive. Pixie teleports in Jubilee and Chamber, and Monet is so shocked at seeing Jubilee that she immediately flees. Aww, that’s kinda sweet. It suggests Monet still remembers Jubilee as one of her closest friends. Which is nice, considering how much they sniped at each other, back in the day. Oh, also, there’s a really touching scene between Roxy and Chamber. This is another good issue. I still dislike Pinna’s art. I find his faces grotesque. So I still haven’t gotten used to it. I’m not sure I ever actually will. It comes down to personal taste, but Pinna’s definitely an artist that I think the average reader won’t enjoy. I’m able to get past it to enjoy the story, though. And it is a good story being told. The students are all compelling. Roxy gets a bit more focus this issue, and it’s easy to feel bad for her, with her mutant power making her look inhuman. Body image issues! I also like that Jubilee is well aware of her own youthful indiscretions, and keeps that in mind when it comes to her students’ behaviour. She doesn’t judge them too harshly, because she knows she did the same thing. And I’m really, really excited to see where the Monet plot goes. The Jubilee/Monet dynamic was always one of the best things about the original Generation X, so seeing it play out again now, after all they’ve both been through, is going to be so satisfying. So my dislike of the art notwithstanding, I am loving this series so far.

Weapon X #5, by Greg Pak, Marc Borstel, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. In Serenity Hills, a young girl sees a mouse, and her mother freaks the hell out, which annoys her husband. He thinks she’s been spending too much time at her lab. She then goes to her job at her lab, where some blue-skinned dude is being attacked by cyborg mice. Hence, her earlier freak-out. Robert Andrews is on his way to the Weapon X lab, Amadeus lets the rest of the team know they have to intercept him. And Sabretooth lets leak that he’s on Twitter. Amadeus also lets the others know that Reverend Stryker is behind the Church of Human Potential. Domino and Warpath go to a base Deathstrike lets them know about, while Domino complains about the hatred of mutants, and even mentions that mutants are statistically less likely to commit crimes than non-mutants. And shit yes, that is the kind of thing I want stated in X-Men comics. Domino’s amusingly righteous during the whole scene. Especially combined with her wild recklessness. Meanwhile, Logan and Sabretooth bring pizza to an interrogation of an accountant. I . . . kinda like Sabretooth as a Twitter-using pizza-loving guy. This issue’s . . . odd. In a good way. It’s odd in a way that works well. Very unsettling. There’s a lot of creepy and dramatic elements. There’s also some good humour. Ad the book finally has good art, with Greg Land taking a couple issues off, which is greatly appreciated. Pak’s telling a very interesting story. Weapon X got off to a rough start, but this WMD crossover is very interesting, very dark, and very smart. And I do appreciate Domino’s comment about mutants being statistically less likely to commit crimes. That was a great touch, and something that really gives a greater sense of authenticity to the very idea of mutants. So, yeah, this is a good issue.

Jean Grey #4, by Dennis Hopeless, Harvey Tolibao, Jay Ramos, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Travis Lanham. Jean is in Jotunheim, looking for help to fight the Phoenix. She finds a whole bunch of orcs, looking to kill the Odinson. Odinson is in a bar, telling a story about an early Avengers adventure. Jean tries to sober him up and convince him that he needs to be ready to fight. He tells her a story of an adventure from when he was young, and he and Loki went looking to prove themselves in battle, and getting badly scorched by a lava monster. Jean, meanwhile, is more focused on the army of orcs. Once they arrive, he starts kicking ass. Very casually. And still telling more stories. During the fight, Jean creates a big-ass telekinetic warhammer, which is awesome. This is a really fun issue. Odinson’s constant stories, even with a horde of orcs trying to kill him, are entertaining, and show just how little he actually cares about orcs. He’s so contemptuous of them that he doesn’t even pretend to take them seriously. Jean’s irritation at Odinson’s attitude is hilarious, with her freaking out about the orcs, and struggling to fight them off, while Odinson just won’t stop telling stories. It’s great. The fight is done well, with Jean making effective use of her telekinesis. The bigass hammer was especially awesome. The art’s great. Tolibao’s line work is fantastic, and the colours are really good here. It’s a very bright, colourful issue, and very nice to look at. And it’s just fun.

Old Man Logan #26, by Ed Brisson, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit. It starts with a flashback to the Wastelands of OML’s time, with Barton helping him on his farm, and Logan explaining to his son that some people detonated nuclear bombs that ruined the land and ensured that livestock living off things growing on the land would be sick from radiation poisoning. In the present, Maestro-Banner, and his kids, approach a secret facility in the Yukon, and take it over, to the horror of the nice female Hulk. (I actually thought she was the only female Hulk there, but she’s not. So it’s notĀ quite as cliche as it could have been.) They’ve got a bunch of nuclear missiles taken from the Department H facility they were in before, and Maestro plans on using the missiles to wipe everyone out and create a new paradise. Logan’s trying to track the Hulks, and calls Puck to help him find them. Maestro knows Logan’s after them, so he sends a team out with a bunch of weapons to try to kill him. This is . . . OK, I guess. I think the big draw is Deodato’s art, and I’m just not a fan of his style. The only thing I can think of, when I look at his art, is that it looks like action figures being posed. It’s stiff and fake. And with weird body proportions. Arms are too long. Shoulders and chests too wide. The writing is fine. I’m a little tired of this series being all about Logan dealing with shit from his past. It’d be nice to have an arc that isn’t all about how he can’t escape his past. It’s gotten a little tiring at this point. And I doubt there were many people clamouring for a return of the Hulk Gang. So, yeah, pretty meh, all in all.

That’s the X-stuff, here’s what else I got.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #22, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham. I first want to note that the Twitter-style recap page has Tony Stark decide that he’s going to build dinosaur-based armours for when he and Squirrel Girl are old. I really, really, really hope this gag comes back, so we can see the armours. Anyway, a few weeks back, Doreen and Nancy entered a programming competition, and it turns out they’ve won, and the prize is a trip to the Savage Land. Once Doreen explains to Nancy what the Savage Land is, they are both psyched. After the long, long plane ride, they finally arrive, and apparently the gift shop has posters explaining how the Savage Land dinos continued to evolve, thus explaining why they don’t have feathers. I love that North actually felt strongly enough about that question that he gave a canon justification. Also in the airport, Nancy and a Latverian catch each others’ eyes and are immediately attracted. Which is probably disappointing to at least some readers. There’s been speculation of Nancy being either gay or ace, but it seems that she is attracted to boys. And Doreen immediately engages in shipping shenanigans. And we see dinosaurs. And they’re awesome. And this issue is awesome. Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs! Also Nancy has a crush. And there’s dinosaurs. And there’s cool plot twist at the end, and the administrator in the Savage Land is a chubby middle-aged woman who looks exactly how you would think an administrator would look, and I always appreciate when female characters aren’t young bombshells. So it’s just a great comic all around. Dinosaurs.

Black Panther & the Crew #4, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Butch Guice, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino. It starts with a flashback to Mississippi in 1964, with Ezra and his crew wanting to do something about the KKK killing some black people. In the present, Luke jumps out of his exploded apartment, and has some casual conversation with Misty, before going after the Hydra guy who fired the rocket at him. But he and his buddy blow themselves up. So Luke and Misty go looking for a guy named Eddie, who was probably the actual target of the attack. Eddie was in lock-up the night Ezra died. And he was walked out before Ezra’s death. So Ezra’s death was almost certainly no accident. This remains some really good stuff. Harvey was the scripter for this issue, and she’s got a strong handle on Luke’s voice. She and Coates continue to build a very compelling story, exploring contemporary issues of justice and law enforcement. It’s smart stuff. The art is really good, too. Guice has a very strong style. Some good, subtle expressiveness, which works really well. When the TPB of this comes out, I’d definitely recommend it.

Hulk #8, by Mariko Tamaki, Georges Duarte, Matt Milla, and Cory Petit. While the Internet mostly seems to think Oliver the baker’s monsterization is fake, Jen believes it’s real, and calls her assistant, Bradley, to have him get her some information. Then, she goes looking for Oliver, whose husband is trying to figure out how to help him. The next morning, she finds the set. She and Bradley do some CSI work. They’re good at it. This is a good issue. Jen and Bradley getting to show their smarts, Oliver being freaky. Steve being The Worst Dude Ever, while Ray needs to just grow a spine. But Steve is definitely The Worst. But I do like seeing Jen’s investigative side. She knows how to go about it. We also get a little more insight into how she views her Hulk side now. The art’s great. Duarte doesn’t fit the book quite as well as Leon, and I’d prefer to have Leon back. But Duarte does a good job. And Milla’s colours are still striking. This is still a comic well worth reading!

I didn’t have time to read the Animosity issues, but you can assume they’re pretty great.

Pull List for July 12 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). More comics tomorrow.

I’ll go to the store for: Animosity #8, by Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre, Rob Schwager, and Marshall Dillon; Animosity The Rise #2, by Marguerite Bennett, Juan Doe, and Marshall Dillon; Black Panther & the Crew #4, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Butch Guice, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino; Generation X #4, by Christina Strain, Amilcar Pinna, Martin Morazzo, Roberto Poggi, Felipe Sobreiro, and Clayton Cowles; Hulk #8, by Mariko Tamaki, Georges Duarte, Matt Milla, and Cory Petit; My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #56, by Christina Rice, Agnes Garbowska Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #22, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham.

I’ll also review: Jean Grey #4, by Dennis Hopeless, Harvey Tolibao, Jay Ramos, Dono Sanchez/Almara, and Travis Lanham; Old Man Logan #26, by Ed Brisson, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit; Weapon X #5, by Greg Pak, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna; X-Men Blue #7, by Cullen Bunn, Cory Smith, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna.

So that’s 7 comics I’m picking up, and 4 additional review. Jeez, another pretty heavy week.

The good stuff: A double-dose of Animosity. That’ll be kinda crushing, I figure. I mean, it is not a happy, positive comic. It’s a horror. And a double-dose of that? Yeah, that might be rough. But enjoyable. More of the Crew, with Harvey back to write this issue. I look forward to her take on Luke Cage. She absolutely nailed Storm, so we’ll see how she does Luke. Generation X has been excellent, the kind of teen mutant book we all love, balancing drama and humour. (The preview also reveals that Jubilee is a big Drag Race fan. Which is pretty believable.) Hulk has been stellar. Sadly, no preview for this issue, but I don’t need one to know I’ll love it. And Squirrel Girl goes to the Savage Land! This is gonna be amazing!

Some Kickstarters I wanna promote: First up, We’re Still Here, an all-trans comics anthology. It is, as the title suggests, an anthology of comics by trans creators. 55 stories by trans creators, covering a wide variety of styles, genres, and more. The comics industry remains, unfortunately, entirely too hostile to anyone who isn’t a cishet white male. So it’s important to support diversity where we can. And this falls under that. This helps demonstrate the market for trans creators and narratives. Also, anthologies like this are just a great way to find new creators you may love.

Can I Pet Your Werewolf?, an anthology of cute werewolf stories. It just seems really fun. And it’s got a good bunch of creators. Speculative Relationships Vol. 3, a comics anthology of sci-fi romance. Normal Deviations, a weird fiction anthology. The premise is to get a bunch of writers to do stories based on a weird picture. Which is just a fun premise. And finally, The Tim’rous Beastie Anthology, being put out by Iron Circus Comics, which always puts out great comics. This one’s about “big adventures in a small world,” or alternatively, “small lives in a big world.” Basically, little critters having adventures. It looks pretty great.

So, yeah, all those are definitely worth your cash.

So I’ve finished my first week of training. It’s pretty boring, because training always is. It won’t really be interesting until we hit the floor and start taking calls. And then it’ll be a lot of getting yelled at. Oh well.

And that’s all I’ve got this week.

New Mutants #78 (1989, August)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So, my first few days of training are done. But today, by Simonson, Leonardi, Williamson, Oliver, and Rosen, “Let’s Make A Deal!”

Let's Make A Deal!

This is a pretty cool cover.

Dani’s encased in ice, via a machine she created with her power. When Rahne shifts to wolf form to test their rapport, though, she learns that the machine can’t last, and in the meantime, the flames are consuming Dani’s soul. Rusty takes a moment to feel sorry for himself, for burning that woman’s face and then running away and now facing charges for deserting the Navy. Awkward timing for it, but it’s just to give readers a reminder of his status quo. Anyway, they need to get Dani back to Ship, so Warlock turns into a forklift. Then he turns into a rocket to help Sam fly it.

In Hel, Hela grudgingly admits that Dani’s brave and resourceful, and then notes all the Asgardian Valkyries have submitted to her magic. She plans on using them in a plot to have vengeance on Thor. And she makes her next move. Which brings us to Earth, and a helicopter, flown by Freedom Force. They’re on their way to arrest Rusty. Again. He’s suspected of causing the fires in Manhattan. Skids tries explaining the situation, but predictably, Freedom Force doesn’t care. Crimson Commando even shoots Rictor in the head. A glancing blow, meant to stun, not kill. But still. Harsh. Rusty retaliates with flames. Against Pyro. Yep, Rusty’s an idiot.

Both teams land on Liberty Island, and the Mutants try again to convince Freedom Force about the danger Dani’s in. Destiny says that if Rusty reaches Ship, things will go poorly for mutants. Which is interesting. Makes me wonder what he would’ve done. I guess he probably would’ve screwed up in Asgard, the Mutants would’ve been killed, and then they wouldn’t have been able to do stuff to help other mutants. Would be my guess. It never does get followed up on. So either it would have been a wrong place-wrong time thing if he’d gone with the Mutants, or else Weezie had an idea she ever got a chance to use. Either way, fight time! Blob suggests Rusty go with Freedom Force while the Mutants go on with Dani, but Boom-Boom’s not behind that idea.

New Mutants #78

Aw, Boom-Boom. She cares.

I do like that moment. It’s a nice little insight into Boom-Boom. For all that she acts like she doesn’t care, she really does, and she feels it when something happens to her friends. She cares about people, and she hates losing anyone. Then Cyclops shows up to tell Rusty to surrender, and promises to go with him. Obviously, it’s Mystique, with Rahne pointing that out. Rusty considers going with them, and Blob says he should, and there won’t even be a real trial anyway.

New Mutants #78

Ooh, he was doing so well, until he mentioned the babies.

It would take nearly 20 years for this plot point with the babies to be picked up again, in the last volume of New Mutants. Oh, I should probably note that that’s Dr. Strange, who’s been following the Mutants in his astral form for this entire issue. Not doing anything to help, just watching. Skids tells the Mutants to grab Dani and get back to X-Factor to let them know what’s going on. Unfortunately, they don’t make it in time, and Dani breaks free of the ice.

New Mutants #78

And she’s pretty badass and dramatic.

 

Luckily, they’re already right under Ship. Unfortunately:

New Mutants #78

Ship’s taking a big ol’ nope on all this.

Strange finally actually does something, by teleporting the team to Asgard.

A pretty decent issue. Some bits feel like they could’ve been tightened up a bit, though that may just be modern sensibilities speaking. Comics had a few more pages back then, which meant a little more room to breathe. These days, it’s more important that every panel contribute in some way, which is often going to mean cutting out a little more excess. So, for example, rather than spending 8 panels (across 2 pages) getting to the point where Sam and Warlock are carrying the ice machine, a modern comic would probably do it in 4 panels. So it feels hard for me not to see the 8 panels as a bi wasteful, but by the standards of the time, it was pretty typical. There were a couple moments like that.

The stuff with Rusty and Freedom Force does feel like it detracts from the main plot. It feels kinda small-stakes. The fact that Rusty’s never had much personality, or much of a purpose beyond “wanted by the government,” really doesn’t help. Dani is a character we know and love. We want to see what’s going to happen with her. We want to see how worried her friends are, how far they’ll go to help her, all that stuff. And then we get a bunch of time spent on Rusty still being wanted by the government. There’s also the implication that Hela arranged for Freedom Force to pursue Rusty (and the Mutants), which is odd. I guess she wanted to slow them down long enough for Dani to break free of the ice? It still feels weirdly beneath her to get a mortal government involved in her plan.

The art isn’t up to Leonardi’s normal standards. Sub-standard Leonardi is still pretty damn good, of course, but it’s still a bit of a let-down. I don’t know if maybe it was a little rushed. And it wasn’t just Leonardi. In general, the art comes across as a bit rushed, not up to anyone’s normal levels. It’s not that it looks bad. It’s just not as good as I would expect of this art team. But obviously, Leonardi, Williamson and Oliver are all top-notch talents.

So, yeah, this is a bit of an odd issue.

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