The Horsemen are attacking Manhattan. Apocalypse monologues about humans and mutants being natural enemies, gives a recap of Angel being turned into Death and shows Reagan signing the MRA. Beast uses his increased strength to rip a piece of the table into his hand, then throws it to deactivate Iceman’s belt, unleashing his full power so he can free them all. So now they can confront Apocalypse, who is at least nice enough to move Caliban out of the way first. Which I find interesting, actually. He shows he actually does value Caliban, and doesn’t want him injured needlessly.
During the fight, Scott blasts a transformer, so the Ship is now sucking energy from Manhattan, which causes a blackout. Next, Scott and Jean are forced out. Now that they’re outside the Ship, it’s invisible to them. And people are dying, at Pestilence’s hands, but she moves away too fast for them to catch her. Don’t worry, she’ll get hers. Meanwhile, there’s screams coming from one direction, and explosions from another. So a quick kiss, and then Scott and Jean split up. And it’s actually a really nice moment.
I like that this is them deciding they’ve had enough of dancing around each other. They’re in love, they want to be together, so screw it. Jean goes to confront Famine, and tries to tell her what she’s doing is wrong, and get her to change But Famine teleports away. She shows up in Captain America, of all places, but I’ll talk about that in the next X-Factor review.
Scott goes to fight War, who’s smashing statues, ranting about the government spending money on statues instead of helping wounded soldiers. Gee, it’s really a good thing the treatment of veterans has improved so much as to make War’s anger seem quaint and outdated, isn’t it? Anyway, Scott actually does some pretty sweet acrobatics to get onto War’s horse, and blast it in the mouth.
Back on Ship, Apocalypse points out that people are already blaming mutants for the attack on the city. He does have a point: Given how many supervillains are out there, it’s a bit odd for people to just assume these ones are mutants. Maybe these are just the guys who blame mutants for everything, and assume everyone with powers is a mutant? Apocalypse is ranting, so Beast throws a chunk of machinery at him, but hits another chunk of machinery. So now Ship becomes visible, and out of control. People blame aliens for this one, and say it’s the end of the world. See, now that’s totally reasonable. A giant spaceship appears out of nowhere? Probably aliens. Aliens are a perfectly reasonable assumption here. Apocalypse finds it all hilarious.
Scott and Jean start heading back towards Ship, though they get attacked by Death first. The Ship smacks the Empire State Building, and Jean catches the antenna, but it’s massively heavy and has momentum. Power Pack show up to help. Pestilence shows up to do the opposite of help, but Julie knocks her off her high horse. And then Death slices the antenna in half so Jean can’t hold it any more.
Back in the Ship, Beast an d Iceman are working together against Apocalypse. Apocalypse is impressed, so he decides they’re reached the Second Level of Difficulty.
Scott and Jean tell Power Pack to keep helping the city. Which gives another panel I like.
Scott and Jean get back to the Ship, just in time to save Iceman from Death’s feathers. Iceman comes up with a plan. Death rants a bit, and then shatters Iceman. That snaps Warren out of his evil mindset, and he instead tries to kill Apocalypse. Who’s pleased that Warren’s strong in mind, as well as body. Of course, it turns out Iceman’s still alive, and Warren just smashed an ice dummy. Scott declares Apocalypse is now alone, but Apocalypse reminds them of Caliban, saying they’ve always discounted him. Which, again, is interesting. Apocalypse leaves with Caliban, but gives X-Factor his Ship, saying it’ll test them and force them to grow. The Ship crashes, and actually lands right on the X-Factor complex. Two security guards and a three-person janitorial crew were lost. Their lives go unmourned, and their families will never know what happened to them. OK, that’s all a lie. As far as we know, there was no one there. They never had any staff, after all. But still, they could have.
Regardless, they’re pretty excited about their old headquarters being destroyed. They invite Warren to rejoin them, but he’s got a lot of angst going on. He’s mad at them for not searching for him. You know, after the plane he was in blew up. They never searched for the invisible Ship they had no idea even existed. What a bunch of jerks, right?
Anyway, they go back outside to talk to some reporters and spread their message that mutants are pretty cool and deserve to be treated with respect. And yes! Yes! This is what they should have been doing all along! Get in front of cameras and say stuff! Interestingly, but X-Factor and UXM made use of that during Fall of the Mutants. I wonder if that was something Claremont and Simonson worked out together, or if they both just came up with ideas for using TV for their stories. Either way, it’s great to see, because it’s a pretty integral aspect to how any civil rights movement works. It needs people to go out and speak. So I really liked that aspect.
This is a bit of a mixed issue, for me. There’s a lot of great stuff. But there’s also quite a bit that made me roll my eyes. I still find Simonson’s dialogue too cheesy. There are some absolute gems in this issue, though. I actually also dislike Warren’s turn from bad to good. It was too sudden. I think it needed a couple more panels of breathing room, to show the dawning realization of what Warren had done. A panel of him looking smug, then a panel of him looking confused, then a panel of him looking angry. That would have been the way to handle it. The way it’s shown here, it feels a little unsatisfying. Like we’re missing a lot of emotional beats.
I think that’s a result of Simonson’s writing on this book. Everyone is turned up to 10 all the time as it is. There’s not much room for subtlety, or for building emotions. So when a moment like this happens, it doesn’t feel like an elevation.
I’ve made it clear how I feel about Walt’s art. If you like his style, then this is a fantastic example of it. I don’t like his art, so I wasn’t into it here, either.
So, overall, this is a comic that I respect more than I enjoy.
And there’s also Power Pack #35, a Fall of the Mutants tie-in featuring X-Factor. It’s by Simonson, Bogdanove, Barta, Oliver and Rosen. They get caught in the blackout caused by Apocalypse and his Horsemen. They worry about their mom, so Katie – who was Lightspeed at the time – heads to the subway to look for her. There, she sees Pestilence, inflicting sickness on people in the train. She lures Pestilence away, but gets touched, and so gets sick. Though Pestilence also flies directly into a wall. The other Power kids are still at home, since they’re grounded, and when they look out the window, they see Ship above them. They go out to look for Katie, with Jack throwing a power ball to show her the way to them. When she gets to them, they catch the disease Pestilence inflicted on Katie. But they can use their powers to heal themselves.
Ship starts going out of control and smashing buildings, including smacking the top off the Empire State Building. Jean catches it with her telekinetics. Alex points out the antenna probably weighs thousands of tons. If that’s true, then damn, Jean’s a powerhouse. Pestilence shows up to attack, and Julie, who can control her density stops her by dropping on her head at her densest. That knocks Pestilence off her flying horse. Katie tries to save her (while Archangel cuts the antenna in half). Katie, sadly, fails to save Pestilence, and she feels awful about it. It’s really sad.
Jean comforts her by saying she did her best, and by suggesting that Pestilence may have hated what she’d become and wanted to die. Scott asks the kids to look after the city while he and Jean get back to the fight. Ship is still out of control, and now it’s the Statue of Liberty that’s about to get hit. Man, what does ship have against liberty? Damn commie ship! Go back to Russia! Alex saves the Statue by blowing up just enough of the tailpipe for it to miss the Statue.
A bit later, Power Pack sees X-Factor come out of the downed Ship, and reveal their secret.
Power Pack was such a great series. Simonson handles the tie-in really well – as she should, considering she was writing X-Factor, as well. These were the kind of event tie-ins I always loved. It ties in naturally, using one story as a springboard for another, and showing the interconnectedness of the Marvel Universe. The issue itself is great. Really exciting stuff. And some nice emotional stuff, too. Katie’s reaction to Pestilence’s death was especially emotional. She was always great for feels. On a side note, Julie is the only member of Power Pack to actually kill someone. It would’ve been nice to get some exploration of her feelings on what happened. But that didn’t happen, to the best of my recollection. The events of this issue don’t really have much bearing on future issues.
Bogdanove’s art is a perfect match for the title. It’s got a cartoonish quality that works for a kids’ book. The colours are darker here than they normally would be, which is unfortunate but understandable. So, yeah, it’s a really good comic, from a really good series.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). It’s National Superhero Day! So here’s a superhero comic. And it’s kind of a downer, actually. By Simonson, Blevins, Austin, Oliver and Orzechowksi, “Suspended Ani-Mation!”
Ani-Mator is ranting. As he does. Yelling at Bird-Boy for fleeing the testing, and then bringing outsiders, despite the law to kill any outsiders. Dani tries an illusion of what Ani-Mator fears, and it’s Hodge. Ani-Mator insists he’s loyal to the right, no insurrection here. He figures out it’s an illusion, and turns his ranting to the Mutants, saying he’s going to use them to create a perfect slave race of Ani-Mates. On a fun note, a bird lands on his shoulder and starts mimicking his gestures. It’s pretty great.
The Mutants are taken to the lab. Dani and Sam reflect on how badly they screwed up, while Doug and Rahne note that the Ani-Mator seems convinced he’s doing something good, with Doug comparing him to Nazi torturers. One of the Ani-Mates, a cat-based one, also apparently hits on Rahne. Which is pretty great. The Mutants are put in tubes, and watch horrified as the next batch of Ani-Mates are smashed in their own tubes. He also kills the bird-dude who was mimicking him. Aw, poor bird-dude, I liked him.
Rahne feels really awful, thinking her animal form makes her similar to the murderous Ani-Mates. Doug tells her not to be ashamed of her animal form, and reminds her that Bird-Brain’s as good as any human. Awww, Doug. You’re so sweet. It’s nice, the way he reassures her, though he unfortunately feels the need to put himself down, too. Illyana is confident Magneto will find them soon, and save the day.
Back at the school, Magneto leaves to go use the Hellfire Club’s equipment to find the Mutants. Bobby and Warlock look at the maps scattered around. They write Magneto a note, with Warlock’s finger turning into a pen for Bobby to write with. That’s kinda cute. And, obviously, as soon as they leave, the note is blown off the table and slips under a counter. Of course that happens.
Back on the island, Ani-Mator gets a call from Hodge, and we actually get some background on him. He used to have a career as a medical researcher at a university, but he ignored what he was hired for in order to do his research on mutations. He faked results on the efficiency of some medicines, and when people died, he ended up in jail. Hodge also wonders what the hell Ani-Mator is wearing on his head. Ani-Mator hangs up, but Hodge is on his way to the island, So are Bobby and Warlock!
Ani-Mator has the Ani-Mates taken to the maze, and orders the Mutants loaded into his ship. He plans on destroying his lab and continuing his work elsewhere. Doug convinces the Ani-Mates that Mator’s going to kill them, too, and Dani scares them with an illusion, so they drop the Mutants, whose tubes shatter. With the Mutants free, their confidence returns. Illyana teleports back to the school to get Magneto, but the house is empty. So she teeports back, and they start herding the warrior Ani-Mates into Limbo. Ani-Mator tries to escape, since the self-destruct is activated, and he doesn’t know how to disarm it. He’s a geneticist, not a programmer. A comic book scientist who isn’t an expert in everything! That’s really rare, guys.
Anyway, the Mutants win, and they’re happy. They’re going to take the Ani-Mates back to the school and everything will be creepy-cute animal people forever. I’m sure the second half of this issue will do nothing to prove me wrong oh wait no, there’s Hodge and his Smiley-Faces. And they immediately shoot the New Mutants. Ani-Mator is pissed at Hodge’s presence. Hodge orders all the Ani-Mates killed. The Smileys enter the maze to do it. Which gives Bird-Brain a chance to rally the Ani-Mates against them, and rescue the Mutants.
More fighting! And now Bobby and Warlock arrive to help out! Doug feels bad, because all his friends are fighting the Smileys, but he can’t help without being a distraction. He spots Ani-Mator with a gun. Rahne is wrestling with a Smiley, and doesn’t see Mator aiming at her, so Doug tackles her and takes the bullet. And here’s where the tragedy kicks in: Rahne doesn’t actually know what happened. She thinks he was trying to help with the Smiley. She doesn’t notice that Doug was shot.
Hodge gets fed up with the fight and leaves, but his plane gets taken down by a giant octopus. Obviously, Hodge doesn’t die, though I don’t think we find out how he survives it and gets back to the US.
Bird-Brain beats the Ani-Mator in a fight and claims his hat. Rahne is proud, and calls for Doug to come out to congratulate him.
Rahne cries. Warlock doesn’t really get what’s going on. The Mutants feel like crap, thinking it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t disobeyed Magneto. The Ani-Mator reveals what happened, which is probably a terrible idea on his part. Here’s why:
He ends up being sent to Limbo instead, to feed the demons. So instead of killing him directly, they’re killing semi-directly. They’re still killing him, and no one seems bothered by it. Sam gives the Ani-Mates a speech on what it means to be a man.
So, I have some mixed feelings on this issue. It’s a great issue, of course. Lots of highs and lows. A nice exploration of responsibility. Really exciting action. And, of course, Doug’s death was heartbreaking. He died a hero, which is some comfort, but he also died unnoticed, and it was a heartbreaking moment. But . . . the issue continues after that. I feel like Rahne crouching over Doug’s dead body would have been the perfect place for this issue to end, and the follow-up would’ve been better-suited to the next issue (though it would mean some of that issue would have to be re-written, but whatever). It feels like continuing on actually kinda pulls some of the pain away. It would’ve been more emotionally-effective ending on the tears. So, the final couple pages, while otherwise strong, just end up being anti-climactic.
Nevertheless, it’s still a great issue, and a heart-crushing one. And oh, there is worse coming up. There is so much worse coming up. The next issue is pretty sad. Then a couple filler issues before one of the saddest things ever.
The art works really well. Blevins’ cartoonish style is good for monsters, and there’s lots of monsters. And it’s also an expressive style, which really hammers in the emotion in the scenes involving Doug’s death and the aftermath. It’s not a style everyone will enjoy, but it’s an excellent fit for this story.
This issue is one of the highlights of Simonson’s run.
All-New Wolverine #7, by Tom Taylor, Marcio Takara and Jordan Boyd. It starts with a flashback. Logan was on his way somewhere, and Laura stood in the middle of the road to force him to stop his bike. Because I guess Laura’s too good to obey traffic laws. Not cool, Laura. Anyway, she doesn’t think she belongs in the school, not without him. She wakes up in the present when she hears growling. She opens the door and finds Squirrel Girl with a wolverine. Named Jonathan. Squirrel Girl is one of the best characters ever. There are very few characters who can show up, out of nowhere, with a wolverine named Jonathan. I love Squirrel Girl, so much. Gabby loves the wolverine, and wants him as a pet so she can dress him in fine suits and make cardboard cities for him to tear through. I love Gabby, so much. Apparently, Squirrel Girl has a message for Laura, but thought it would come better from an animal’s perspective. She thought Laura could understand wolverines. And, honestly, it’s not all that unusual an assumption for Doreen to make, given two of her superhero friends also talk to specific animals. Squirrel Girl announces that Laura has wronged the squirrel world! You remember in, like, issue 3, when Laura attached a tracking chip to a squirrel? I remember saying, at the time, that I wanted it to lead to a Wolverine/Squirrel Girl meeting. It’s led to a Wolverine/Squirrel Girl meeting. This is one of the most delightful comics ever. It does turn out the squirrel is now missing, though, so we also get drama. Squirrel drama. The best kind of drama. We also get a callback to the earlier flashback, in a really great moment. We do get some development of the Laura/Gabby relationship. But mostly, this comic is just . . . it’s a Wolverine/Squirrel Girl team-up. A Squirrelverine team-up. It is amazing. It is one of the most amazingly fun comics ever. From the moment Squirrel Girl shows up, with a wolverine, shouting “Wolverine!” I had a smile on my face. I mean . . . buy this comic. Buy it. You have to buy this comic. It is too fun not to read. It is just one brilliant moment after another. I’ll be posting some panels on my Twitter tomorrow, but there is so much more going on here. It is perfect. Everything I ever could have wanted in a Wolverine/Squirrel Girl team-up, and so much more.
Old Man Logan #5, by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo. In Limbo, Logan tells Storm he’s going to be going off on his own for a bit. Storm accepts this, because really, he’s Logan, this is what he does. She does have him take a mini-Cerebro, in case they need him. This should probably go without saying, but: Damn, Sorrentino and Maiolo do a gorgeous Storm. He takes a bike and starts driving north, with Sorrentino doing a great panel layout to show his journey. Layouts are something he excels at. He might be one of the best layout guys in the industry. Anyway, Logan goes to the Northwest Territories. And as a Canadian, I have two issues: First, the comic says “Territory.” No. It’s “Northwest Territories.” That might seem like a petty objection, but screw that, it’s the name of the place. Second – and this is even more unforgivable from Canadian writer Lemire – it says it borders Alaska. No. No. NWT is not, in fact, on the Alaskan border. The Yukon Territory shares a border with Alaska. Regardless of Lemire’s failing grade in Canadian geography, Logan is in the fictional Killhorn Falls, an island that’s accessible by an ice road three months out of the year. He thinks back to his attempt to commit suicide, after he killed the X-Men, when he laid down on a railroad track. He survived that and went wandering, including returning to the Weapon X facility. Out of the flashback, he’s found work, and is fitting in. He also shows his skill with kids by insulting a little girl. And in the future, in the Weapon X facility, a woman saves him from a beating. This is a good issue. It’s actually got some similarities to Lemire’s All-New Hawkeye run, splitting between two time periods, contrasting and comparing events in the present with events in the future (which, in this case, is also the past – time travel!). I haven’t mentioned it in previous reviews, but Lemire does have Logan’s voice down perfectly. And, as always, the art is spectacular. Sorrentino and Maiolo are an amazing team. Interesting layouts, solid storytelling, and just gorgeous visuals. They’re a fantastic team, doing a great book.
Worst X-Man Ever #3, by Max Bemis, Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond. It starts with Wolverine declaring that every X-Man turns into a traitor at some point. And threatens to kill anyone who does it. Later on, Bailey, along with Rags and Riches, go to a Mutant Youth Outreach Seminar to man a Xavier School booth. Bailey strikes up a conversation with a girl named Miranda. Who is awesome. She’s a cute chubby black girl. And she’s great. She says she’s living at a shelter downtown. Bailey talks about how Xavier’s took him in, even though his powers make him the Macklemore of the scene. Miranda likes Macklemore. And oh man it’s so cute. Not gonna lie, I ship Bailey and Miranda. Based on that one line, really, though they have other nice interactions in the remainder of the mini. Anyway, Miranda’s power is to make things not exist. She demonstrates by erasing everyone at the seminar. She does bring them back. She’s taken to the school, where she demonstrates her power in the Danger Room. Beast declares her an Omicron-Level Mutant, a term he just came up with. Bailey asks the obvious question of why, with reality-warpers running around, everything is still solved with punching. Beast says it’s about continuity, with a nifty little explanation that’s very meta but really cool. Note: This book is going to get way more meta. Beast asks Miranda what she wants, and she says she wants to be on a team with Bailey. Like I said, they’re very shippable. They need a ship name. Bailanda? I’ll work on it. And at one point, Miranda starts singing Ironic. Miranda is The Best. She is so great. I love Miranda. This series is great. This isn’t the best issue of the series – it’s very much a middle part, bridging the start and the end. But it’s still loads of fun. And it introduces Miranda, one of the best characters ever. Walsh’s art is good. It’s a rough style. I’m oddly ambivalent on it. I can’t decide if I like it or not. I think I like it, though. It’s a good style, even if it probably isn’t for everyone.
That’s the X-titles. Brief stuff about the other stuff I picked up:
Ms. Marvel #6, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon and Ian Herring. Ms. Marvel saves her brother and his fiance from being stepped on by the giant Kamala golem. Yes, it is that kind of comic, and it’s only going to get better. Bruno calls with his idea for stopping the clones: Make a giant dinosaur to eat them. Kamala disapproves, but I am 100% on board with this idea. Which is why I’m happy to note that he’s already done it. And one of the clones, wearing a pirate hat, is riding on its head. Because this book is amazing, if you haven’t figured it out yet. Kamala’s still trying to stop her giant double, but having no luck. So she takes out the pendant Captain Marvel gave her, and calls for help. Back at the school, Bruno and Mike try their next plan: Summon Loki, using magic. Said magic includes a lot of coffee. And it works! Actually, he was already watching them and chose the moment he thought would be most amusing to step in. And this all leads to The Greatest Splash Page Ever. The Greatest. All other splash pages can just give up now, this one will never be beat. And then Captain Marvel saves the day. And also gives Kamala the talk she needed, to help her figure out her priorities. Iron Man also shows up, and we get an Iron Hug. And we also get Aamir and Tyesha’s wedding. Feels! This comic’s fantastic. It does what the series does best: Crazy fun, heartwarming relationships, and valuable lessons. This is basically the perfect Young Adult superhero comic. It’s a wonderful issue of a wonderful series. This whole arc was about how important it is to find a balance in all the various parts of your life, and more, how important it is to make sure your family is part of that balance. To be there for the people you love and who love you. It’s really sweet stuff. But that lesson is presented through a horde of Kamala clones, a giant Kamala clone, a giant T-Rex, and Loki commanding a horde of his golems into battle. (Like I said, The Greatest Splash Page Ever.) It gets increasingly ridiculous until it just reaches a Critical Mass of Insanity. It’s resolved through a bit of a Deus Ex Machina, but it feels appropriate. Kamala made a huge mess that there was no possible way for her to solve, so having her idol step in and solve it in a matter of moments was a really effective way of handling it. And, of course, their conversation after was really good. The art is excellent, too. As usual, the panels are filled with little visual gags. This is an issue that lends itself really well to visual gags, what with the hordes of Kamala clones, a giant Kamala clone and a giant T-Rex. If you’re not reading this series, you’re insane. I genuinely don’t know why anyone wouldn’t be reading it. It is everything.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi. It’s the much-anticipated Choose-Your-Own-Adventure issue! And it’s great! As always, even the recap page is hilarious. It brings us the term #ironmansplaining, where Iron Man engages in mansplaining. We need this to catch on. The issue proper is a delight. And, as always, also features random bits of trivia. For example, diseases crossing from humans to animals is called “reverse zoonosis!” And there’s tons of bee facts! That’s one of the things I love about this series: Not only is it hilarious, it also strives to be genuinely educational. It is delightful.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #5, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain. It’s great. Lunella’s this amazing mix of vulnerable little girl and badass action hero. It really is a special comic. I’d definitely encourage you to read it. It’s got a lot of fun stuff, but also a lot of feels.
Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat! #5, by Kate Leth, Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson. It’s fun. Very much. Ian saves Jen from getting coffee spilled on her! Hurray! Also, Ian is not gullible. This is important to remember. And Hellcat is awesome. Everything is awesome. Read this comic. Plus, last-page Jessica Jones cameo! I know that seems like a spoiler, but, uh, it’s actually stated on the cover.
Ultimates #6, by Al Ewing and Christian Ward. It’s great. Galactus punches Master Order. In his giant head face. It’s awesome. There’s actually a lot of great stuff about the issue. It’s some big idea stuff. It’s focused on Galactus, with a cameo from Owen Reece, which gets into some deep discussion of the nature of the new omniverse.
And Angela: Queen of Hel #7, by Marguerite Bennett, Kim Jacinto, Stephanie Hans and Israel Silva. It’s a really, really, really sweet farewell. The humour is toned down a lot, though still present. The metatext is still there. But mostly, it’s about Angela, Sera and Leah (and, yes, even Thori) being a family. It’s about the love hey have for each other. Leah sets off to be more than she’s been. Angela and Sera promise to love each other forever. And I tear up because it’s all really sweet. I’m going to miss this book a lot. I really, really hope that Bendis brings Sera along when he adds Angela back to GotG.
I’ll go to the store for: All-New Wolverine #7, by Tom Taylor, Marcio Takara and Jordan Boyd; Angela Queen of Hel #7, by Marguerite Bennett, Kim Jacinto, Stephanie Hans and Israel Silva; Insexts #5, by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina and Bryan Valenza; Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #6, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain; Ms. Marvel #6, by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon and Ian Herring; Patsy Walker aka Hellcat! #5, by Kath Leth, Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson; Ultimates #6, by Al Ewing and Christian Ward; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi.
I’ll also review: Old Man Logan #5, by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiollo; Worst X-Man Ever #3, by Max Bemis, Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond.
So that’s 8 goddamn comics I’m picking up, and at least 3 reviews. An expensive weak, but light on reviews.
I’m most excited for, uh, almost all of them. Wolverine will have a Squirrel Girl cameo, Insexts is an enjoyably messed-up series, Moon Girl is delightful, Ultimates is awesome. Hellcat is loads of fun. Angela is on its last issue and is almost certainly going to make me cry. Ms. Marvel is Ms. Marvel. And Squirrel Girl is a Choose-Your-Own Adventure issue! So, yeah, this is an amazing week.
On Sunday, I went to CAPE – Cornwall Area Pop Event. It was OK. I bought a few prints. I only took a couple pictures at the event. First, a cosplayer in a Silk costume:
The Millennium Falcon on the Avengers’ front yard. The set was actually bigger than this, and continued on out of frame, but I didn’t take a picture of that. Mostly, I just liked this portion of the set. And now, the things I bought. I got a poster for Kiki’s Delivery Service:
Sorry about the glare. It’s in a very shiny plastic case. One of the booths was just movie posters, and it had a section of Studio Ghibli posters, because Ghibli is so cool that it deserves its own category. I was hoping to find When Marnie Was There, but I’m not surprised they didn’t have a poster for that. It’s not one of the more recognizable Ghibli movies, since it’s not a fantasy. But man, a poster of Anna and Marnie dancing under the moon would’ve been amazing. Still, this is a really cute Kiki poster. Continuing on, I got a Puck print, from Rob Thibodeau:
Isherwood was actually there in Dr. Strange cosplay. I wish I’d taken a picture of that. Ah, well. This is still a great X-Men poster. A very classic line-up, and classic versions of their costumes. And, finally, I got two prints by Michael Simbajon, of Phoenix and Dark Phoenix:
I’m not a big Jean Grey fan, but I do love these prints. Apparently, he’d done the Phoenix one first, and then a friend of his who was a big Dark Phoenix fan told him to do one of her, so he just flipped it. You know, I took this photo of them facing each other, which was how he had it set up in his book. But I wonder if it might work better with them reversed?
Yeah. Yeah, that works really nice, I think. I should mention Simbajon was a really cool guy. I was wearing a Pretty Deadly t-shirt, and he asked if I enjoy that series, and we got to talking for a good 10 or 15 minutes. He said he wants to draw more like Rios but that it’s hard because it means un-learning a lot about art. We talked a bit about Mark Millar. He showed some sketches he’s working on – a Sinister Six one, one showing the DC Trinity against the Marvel Trinity (though he only had the DC Trinity sketched), a couple others. He talked about how he’s friends with Adrian Alphona, and that Alphona hates when he gets fanboyish and tries to get him to draw Ms. Marvel. And he also talked a bit about a story he’s putting together, a Steampunk Western, which is something I’ll need to keep a watch for. So, yeah, good guy. And a good artist.
So, I’m sure everyone’s heard by now that Eddie Berganza, editor of the Superman office at DC, has been named as a serial sexual harasser. He should be fired. DC just let go of Shelly Bond, editor of the Vertigo line, and someone who’s much-loved within the industry. DC couldn’t figure out a way to rearrange things to keep her on staff. Of course, a few years ago, when Berganza had sexual harassment complaints fired against him, they were able to do some rearranging that kept him around in a position of power. Allegedly, they actually put in place an informal rule against having women working under him, presumably because they knew they’d get more complaints if there were women around him. (Alternatively, Berganza only hired men, and I’m sure it was pure coincidence that no qualified women ever applied for positions in his office.) Here’s an idea: Why don’t they fire Berganza and offer his job to Bond? Or, you know, just fire Berganza. He’s a douche, fire him.
My schedule for the week: 11-7:15 tomorrow, 10:30-4:15 Friday, 10:30-4:15 Sunday, 11:45-8:15 Tuesday. So, actually kind of a shitty schedule. Still, posts on Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Though Saturday’s not really certain – I’m hanging out with a friend.
Half the X-Men (and Mystique) are inside Eagle Plaza, the other half are outside as captives of Freedom Force, while Destiny shouts about there’s no future. The X-Men debate what to do, until Longshot points out the sun is shining in the middle of the night. Outside, two people from NPR – Neal Conan and Manoli Wetherell, who are actually real people, which is pretty fun – skid in the snow.
Outside the Eagle Plaza, Dazzler’s conscious, and fully-charged, thanks to Super-Sabre’s mini-sonic boom that he hit her with. She blinds Freedom Force, except Spiral, who puts Destiny’s mask on Dazzler’s face and keeps it there by stabbing her in the goddamn head.
It’s a spell, and the knife and mask can both be removed with the right enchantment, but damn, that is cold. Spiral also prepares to behead Psylocke. Rogue grabs her, and Spiral gets behind her, but then gets distracted by something.
Elsewhere, Storm dives off a cliff into a lake. She goes back to Forge, who’s injured but alive. Storm says they’re on Earth, in the present day, but that there’s no sign at all of civilization, and that it’s a world without people. Forge says the Adversary has the power to send them to a parallel Earth for their prison.
Back in Dallas, things have gotten crazy. Time’s messed up, so there’s dinosaurs and fancy sci-fi buildings. Wolverine suggests to Mystique a truce between their teams. We also get a pretty good Colossus speech:
I like Colossus speeches. Neal and Manoli find a news van with dead people, and the tech is beyond anything they’ve seen, but it’s easy to use, so Manoli thinks she can run it through every radio and TV network in the world. She also blames all the chaos on “stinking muties.” Not cool, Manoli. Meanwhile, the X-Men and Freedom Force are saving lives. Neal and Manoli watch, with Manoli sceptical of the X-Men, and mutants as a whole, while Neal defends them. Claremont’s delving deeper into the politics here than he ever did, or will again. He’s been building it up over the past few months, but now, he’s laying it all out on the table.
On the other world, Storm and Forge have found the site of Forge’s mountain of power. It’s destroyed and twisted. I want to mention that Storm’s carrying a bow and arrows, while Forge has a rifle. I find both of these facts to be really cool. Forge talks about the Adversary’s power, and his motivations, as a god playing games and viewing everyone else the same way a child views its toys. Storm decides she needs to go on a quest, alone, exploring the world to find herself.
Back in Dallas, Mystique is being interviewed, and she’s asked about working with the outlaw X-Men, which pisses Alex off. He goes on a rant about how, if they were as bad as people think, they would’ve left already, but they’re heroes who’ve saved the world plenty already, but this time, the cameras are there to see. Mystique approves of Alex’s rant. So does Neal Conan. Spiral tries to take the knife out of Dazzler’s head, but the chaos in the area keeps her magic from working. So Dazzler’s just going to have to learn to get along with a goddamn knife in her head.
On the other world, Storm is in Kenya. Somehow. How the hell did she get to Africa? There’s an ocean, and it’s not like there are cruise ships in this world. I suppose she could have gone north, crossed the Bering Strait. Still, going from North America to Africa is not exactly an easy feat. Anyway, she’s there, but she doesn’t feel the same connection as when she went to Kenya as a kid. She thinks back to that time, and seeing the Great Mother, the Bright Lady she always prays to. The world she’s in has no soul, and she wonders if she’s supposed to be the Bright Lady.
Back in Dallas, a bunch of Cheyenne show up, and offer their help against the Adversary. And, uh, here’s how they’re drawn:
Did Silvestri use old Westerns as his reference material? Would it have been too much to ask that they wear jeans? And shirts? Because I’m pretty sure a modern Cheyenne person is more likely to wear jeans than a buckskin loincloth. Because Native American/First Nations individuals live in the modern world. They have varying levels of connection to their heritages, and yeah, some probably do still wear buckskin pants and stuff like that. But I’m pretty sure most just wear normal clothes. Anyway, a racist cop opens fire, and the rest of the mob does the same, and the Cheyenne are all killed. Holy shit. Seriously, Claremont? Crimson Commando gets all depressed about it, and wonders if humanity even deserves to be saved.
In the other world, Storm returns to Forge, and finds him living in a nice solar-powered cabin. He’s very good at what he does. Though he did have to cannibalize part of his leg. They greet each other with a kiss. Aww.
In Dallas, things are going poorly as they fight a losing battle. Wolverine compares them to the ancient Spartans, holding the line at Thermopylae. Hence, the title of this story. Colossus talks to Destiny, who says she’s now seeing the slightest chance of hope, at the top of Forge’s Aerie. But no hope for the X-Men – they’re dead, no matter what happens. Psylocke reads Colossus’ mind to let Wolverine know what he plans, and sees Roma’s face in his memories. Spiral teleports up to the Aerie, and then rockets back down, with Rogue barely managing to save her. One onlooker expresses disappointment they survived, and Manoli tells him off. She’s learning!
On the other world, Storm and Forge are trying to decide what to do. They can either stay and give the world a soul, or return to their own and kill the new world. Forge says he’s worked out a way home, and says that it’s Storm who gives him the purpose to build the best tools. Very romantic.
Dallas. The lobby of Forge’s tower has been replaced with the jungle of Vietnam. I suppose, given the sliding timeline, Forge’s military service probably would now be the desert of Iraq. A sniper takes shots, and the guy who’d killed the Cheyenne kills the sniper. Wolverine recognizes there’s something different about the guy. Psylocke senses Roma’s thoughts, and Wolverine figures it’s a trap. The X-Men will go spring the trap, while Freedom Force protects the civilians.
Other world. Forge says his neutralizer didn’t remove her powers, just kept her from accessing them, and he might be able to reverse it. In Dallas, Wolverine offers the others a chance to back out, but no one takes it.
It’s yet another great moment. I like Rogue saying bye to Mystique.
Other world. Forge is ready to use the de-neutralizer on her, but warns it’s a one-shot deal, and once they start, there’s no going back. Storm’s response is great:
That’s a great panel. And here’s an even sweeter moment:
The de-neutralizer works, and she’s ecstatic at the return of her lightning, and her flight. She uses the power to return them home. The Adversary drops his disguise, then drops the building, with the X-Men – and Neal Conan – still inside.
This is so damn good. This is a fantastic issue. It’s full of excitement and tension, and full of great, emotional moments with tons of impact. Claremont’s on fire here, with a lot of stellar dialogue and meaningful speeches. The Storm/Forge scenes are really romantic, and work well to sell them as lovers. Neal and Manoli serve well as audience surrogates, and a way to explore anti-mutant sentiment, by showing how Manoli evolves on the issue, and comes to accept the X-Men as heroes. (This will also continue in the next issue.) And it’s neat that Claremont just threw in two real people from NPR. I wonder if they count it among their proudest moments. Like, if someone asks Manoli about her favourite moments from her time with NPR, would she mention shooting an axe-wielding barbarian? Because that would be great.
The art is also on fire. Silvestri, Green and Oliver (with Wray) knock it out of the park. Action sequences are full of excitement. Quieter scenes are soft and intimate. The Dallas scenes all have heightened tension, while the other world scenes all feel big and expansive and relaxing. Landscapes are gorgeous. And seriously, the colours deserve a lot of praise here, because they add a lot to the art, enhancing the mood of each panel perfectly. Facial expressions are also excellent, conveying a lot of emotion. That Storm moment, for example, of starting the moment they met – that is an amazing panel. That might be one of the stand-out panels of the issue, actually, for all its simplicity, because there’s a lot packed into it, the dialogue and the expression and the colours conveying all sorts of meaning at once.
This is such a brilliant issue. This arc as a whole is a must-read, but this issue, in particular, is one of the best of Claremont’s run, I think.
There’s also Classic X-Men #18, a reprint of X-Men #112. As always, there’s added material, this time by Dwyer, Austin Scotese and Orzechowski. There’s a two-page spread, with Magneto’s head in the centre, and the X-Men arranged around him, thinking stuff. And later on, Jean’s fight against Magneto gets a little more space. The big spread probably isn’t necessary, but it is pretty interesting. The slightly-longer Phoenix/Magneto fight is good, and definitely improves the story. So, good additions.
And the back-up, this time written by Jo Duffy, with Bolton, Scotese and Orzechowski. Jean’s out in the woods, doing some camping, and someone’s watching her, and about to attack. She decides to make herself some coffee, and when she bends over to pick up the coffee pot, the guy goes right over her. Turns out it’s Wolverine, and now he’s facing against Phoenix. She then pulls Banshee out of the trees, where he was spying on them. She explains that she’s out in the woods because she’s worried that she’ll let her power overwhelm her, and do something bad with it.
She offers them some coffee, and has Banshee hold the pot while she gets the water.
Then Nightcrawler surprises her. And she drops the lake. The guys suggest she try to clean it up, since it’s the kind of precision control she went out to learn in the first place. And she does it, because Phoenix was a powerhouse. With that done, she tells one of them to get water for the coffee.
It’s a cute story. Very fun. Does a nice job exploring Jean’s fears about herself. It was nice seeing Banshee and Nightcrawler go along to help Jean, too. I think it says a bit about Wolverine. The obvious choices to bring along would’ve been Scott and Storm – her boyfriend and her best friend. Wolverine instead brought along his own friends, Nightcrawler and Banshee.
This is the kind of story Bolton’s art works on. A nice, relaxed, intimate story. It looks really pretty. Scotese’s colours add a lot to this one, too. It’s a nice story.
And there’s Incredible Hulk #340, by Peter David, Todd McFarlane, Petra Scotese and Rick Parker. I should probably post the cover for this one, since it’s a pretty notable one:
The X-Men arrive in Dallas, during a snowstorm, looking for permission to land their plane. And actually, I should probably post Todd’s take on the X-Men:
Anyway, they almost get smacked by the Hulk on one of his leaps. He instead bounces off a commercial jet, so Wolverine sends Rogue to toss off the flaming engine and help the plane to land. The engine ends up landing right on the Hulk. Anyway, one thing leads to another, and Hulk and Wolverine get in a fight. Wolverine actually tries to avoid the fight, since he has responsibilities more important than a pointless fight. But Hulk will have none of it, and keeps attacking, and eventually goads Wolverine into giving in and fighting back. It’s a brutal fight. It’s ended when Clay Quartermain blasts the Hulk and yells at them for being idiots wasting time on something pointless.
It’s a really good issue. It was PAD and MacFarlane doing the Incredible Hulk, of course it’s great. PAD makes great use of Wolverine here, writing him really well, getting to the whole noble-man-battling-savage-nature conflict at the heart of Wolverine. And MacFarlane draws the hell out of the fight. Even this early in his career, the man was a top-notch artist.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I went to a thing today. I’ll talk about it on Tuesday. For today, by Mantlo, Haynes, Portacio, Wright and Chiang, “Goblyn!”
Goblyn is outside the base, freezing, and remembering what happened. Her twin, Laura, felt frightened, so fled to Liveworld, and brought Goblyn to Deadworld. Goblyn wants to go back to Liveworld, but knows Laura would die in the snow, so she decides she has to go back inside first.
Inside the base, Alpha is fixing up the holes to keep out the cold. Sasquatch and Box both suggest they can fix the place up, with Sasquatch saying that, as a scientist, she should be able to come up with climate-control and life support systems. It amuses me how casual he is about it. “I’m a physicist, how hard can complex electrical systems be?” Of course, being he’s a comic book scientist, of course he could handle it, no problem. Manikin says the Derangers are dead, and Purple Girl gets all mopey and thinks maybe they were the lucky ones. Angst alert! And a flashback to detail who Purple Girl is. This leads to her declaring they need to find and help Goblyn. So Alpha heads out to search.
Inside, Purple Girl cries on Whit’s shoulder about all the death. Credit where it’s due, it’s a good scene. Purple Girl’s still just a kid – she’s maybe 14 at this point. And she’s a good kid who’s been through a lot. So it’s reasonable that she’d need a good cry, and Mantlo restrains his usual verbosity and need to over-explain things. The scene works.
Back outside, Goblyn ambushes Sasquatch and claws his eyes out, blinding him. Heather follows the screams, and finds Laura passed out in the snow. Heather extends her force field to provide some warmth, and Goblyn reappears and slashes at her. Box finds Goblyn next, shaking and looking scared, and puts her in a little dome to bring her back to the base. Where Goblyn promptly breaks out. She takes out Box, then takes out Manikin, leaving only Purple Girl.
Purple Girl tries to use her power on Goblyn, and they wind up mind-linked as we get Goblyn’s back story. A couple got married and were having twins, but one was a mutant, and since the husband was an anti-mutant activist, they decided to get rid of that one. (Interestingly, the woman goes so far as to declare that it’s her body. Mantlo did slip some progressive stuff into his run.) The mutant twin was bombarded with radiation in the womb, with the non-mutant twin moving to intercept. In the end, one twin was born – Laura, who’s autistic. The other was gone, until she recently started swapping places with Laura.
Kara runs from Goblyn while thinking how shitty their lives have been, and decides to take a stand Her tears distract Goblyn. That’s when Alpha Flight busts in again, looking to put Goblyn down. Purple Girl throws herself in front of Goblyn to protect her, which gets through to Goblyn and makes her stop fighting.
This is a pretty good issue. Mantlo does still have problems with over-explaining, and with unrealistic dialogue. But there is some real emotion in Purple Girl’s desire to save Goblyn. It’s handled well, and is a good shot to the feels. There are some specific moments that are particularly stellar.
The art’s good, too. Haynes was just a fill-in artist, but he was good. It’s a nice, conventional art style. Truthfully, he was probably a perfect fit for the title – largely forgettable. Alpha Flight got a few artists here and there that were just too good for the material – Brigman and Lee being the big ones – but Haynes was appropriately average. There’s nothing about his style to turn readers off, but also nothing to get particularly excited. In the one issue of Mantlo’s run where someone like Brigman would’ve worked perfectly. Ah, well.
So, yeah, one of Mantlo’s better issues.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Before I get started: Eddie Berganza should be fired from DC Comics. He’s a serial sexual harasser. His ass should be fired. But now! By the Simonsons, Wiacek, Scotese and Rosen, “Masks.”
X-Factor has been teleported somewhere, and Caliban senses the Horsemen nearby. Apocalypse welcomes them to his Ship, and then they fight, while spouting their differing philosophies at each other. Apocalypse says he’s lived for thousands of years, and been worshiped by various cultures as a death god. Set in Egypt, Sauru in Persia, Huitzilopochtli of the Aztecs, Kali-Ma in India. Then a recap of X-Factor’s mutant-hunter scam and Angel losing his wings and the fight against the Right.
The three Horsemen are set against them. The fighting also has a lot of talking. Caliban is knocked down early from a brick to the head. Jean and Scott work together to beat War by collapsing a wall on him. Iceman turns off his inhibitor belt to freeze Famine. Beast takes out Pestilence by smacking her with a big metal bar. So that’s all three down. Apocalypse keeps trying to convince X-Factor that humans hate mutants, and to join him. Then he brings out his final Horseman: Death. Who doesn’t ride a horse! Not much of a Horseman if he doesn’t ride a horse, is he? Jeez, Apocalypse. I should note that, all during this entire battle, the bottom of each page has a long panel that gets increasingly closer to Caliban.
Anyway, the team recognizes Death as Angel. He rants about how much humans suck, while quickly taking them down with “feathers” from his metal wings, laced with synapse disruptors. They get strapped down to tables, and Apocalypse tells them they have a choice to make. And that they’ll join him in time. The Horsemen are sent out to cause havoc. Caliban is still free, and Scott asks him to free them. But Caliban instead submits to Apocalypse.
X-Factor remains a series where I enjoy the story more than the writing or the art. The writing is just way too melodramatic, too self-serious. Too earnest, really. It gets tiring quickly. Weezie’s always been a great writer, but I feel like X-Factor wasn’t a particularly strong work from her. It’s turned up way too high.
More specific to this issue, the Death/Angel reveal was done well. It was really obvious, but it still got handled well. Obvious doesn’t mean bad. It just means Weezie played fair with the mystery. She gave readers all the clues they needed to figure it out, rather than going for a shocking twist that no one could have expected because there was nothing pointing to it. This was a shock to the characters, of course. And their reactions were done very well. Caliban’s decision to submit to Apocalypse was also a very neat twist. Like I said, the story’s really good. I just dislike the writing.
And I also dislike the art. Look, I get why Walt’s popular. I get why people love his art. I just don’t. I find it too sharp-edged, and faces look weird to me. I say this about every issue, because I feel the same way about every issue. His action choreography is good. The costume design on Death is better than it has any real right to be. The Caliban panels during the action sequence are something I have mixed feelings on. I get why they were there, to keep people thinking about Caliban. But they don’t really end up working for exploring the character. More important, I feel like they end up detracting from the later scene. Caliban says everyone forgot about him. But the reader didn’t. The reader was actually pretty explicitly told not to forget about him. And I think the moment would have worked better if the reader had forgotten about him, because it would’ve really driven in the message that Caliban gets overlooked. And it would make his anger about that more effective, because then, the reader is just as guilty about it as the characters in the book. We would be forgetting and overlooking him. So we would be the ones he’s pushing back against when he asks Apocalypse for power.
On the whole, this issue’s only OK. Too melodramatic, and some choices that detract from the story.