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X-Men comics, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

Six comics this week. Let’s get started.

First up, Uncanny X-Men #17. Written by Kieron Gillen, art by Daniel Acuna and Mike Del Mundo. The art generally didn’t do much for me – I find Acuna to be a little too cartoonish for my taste – but Gillen is one of the best writers in the industry. Psylocke, Storm, Magneto and Danger go down to Sinister City, and try to come up with a plan to get in while Sinister gloats to the imprisoned Phoenix Five. Psylocke sneaks in wearing Danger, reminding Magneto that she’s a bloody ninja. Storm and Magneto create a distraction, and Magneto’s mind is taken over by Madelyne Four before he’s taken down by Psylocke, who really want people to remember she’s a bloody ninja. Danger takes scans of Sinister’s machines for Unit, who sees a machine of pure and beautiful reason, as perfect as science can be. Emma talks to the Phoenix, and gets it out of the Madelynes and back into the X-Men. Then they kill all the Sinisters. Just as well – Gillen’s leaving the book soon, and he wrote the greatest Sinister ever. No way another writer would do as well with him. Great issue.

Next, X-Men Legacy #272, written by Christos Gage, art by Rafa Sandoval. After the lackluster AvX tie-in issues, this current arc is much better. Rogue is taken to the camp of the Swarm, fighting for her independence and individuality the whole time. The queen brings her into the Hive-mind, and Rogue sees the truth behind the queen’s propaganda. She also sees a lock, a secret the queen is keeping from the Hive-mind. The queen tries to kill Rogue and Tritt, the Swarm commander who was trying to help the queen control Rogue. They escape, and Rogue goes back into the Hive-mind (not sure how – it’s not really explained, an unfortunate case of poor writing) to break the lock. She and Tritt see a memory of the queen meeting with the Vray king, and they plot to cause a major battle to whittle down their populations, to conserve resources. Rogue and Tritt resolve to stop the battle. As usual, Gage strives to avoid painting either side as bad or wrong. He’s all about the shades of grey. There’s also a couple moments where characters echo each other in an effective manner. The art is decent. Not awful, not great, just . . . there. Good issue overall, though.

Astonishing X-Men #53, by Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins. Beast determines the bomb in Wolverine’s body was a nanotech worm-type thing. Wolverine sends Iceman, Northstar and Gambit to talk to Ms. Hatchi, who admits to mind-controlling Karma, putting a bomb in Wolverine, and killing the latest incarnations of the Marauders. (“Clones are so convenient.”)  She admits to doing it to test new technology. Beast manages to track the signal to the bomb-worms, and Kyle tells Jean-Paul to go do his job. The team – Iceman, Northstar, Gambit, Cecilia, Warbird – go to Georgia (the country) and infiltrate a facility. They find a bunch of people who’ve been experimented on, then they find Karma. When they try to leave, one of the patients crosses a line and explodes, burying them all under debris that’s held up only by Cecilia’s force field. Liu’s grasp of some of the characters seems really weak. Especially Northstar. The overall writing is just really weak, and the art, while good, isn’t exceptional. This is just not a series worth picking up.

Wolverine #312, by Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi. Wolverine fights Remus. She has a healing factor. She reveals that the big “mutants descended from wolves” stupidity from Loeb’s Evolution arc a few years back was all a lie. So that’s good, though the fact that Loeb felt the need to retcon one of his own big “revelations” doesn’t really reflect well on his abilities as a writer. Instead, he reveals that Romulus was trying to create a new species, hence the feral gene that seems to crop up so often. Remus asks why it’s so much more common than flight or telepathy, despite both of those being pretty common, because Loeb is an idiot. They head to Romulus’s house, with Cloak and Dagger, where Wolverine fights Sabretooth and finds Romulus in a tank. Then Romulus reveals that the Weapon X program was Logan’s idea. Because why not. Man, Loeb is so seriously awful a writer. How does he keep getting work? Who keeps buying his books?

The Wolverine Annual also came out, by Alan Davis as writer and artist. As with the Fantastic Four and Daredevil Annuals, it features Clan Destine and Dr. Strange. We discover that Adam Destine had saved Logan’s life, years ago, from a warlord named Chen Yu. In the present, the Destines are searching for Kay and Dom. Wolverine finds Kay in a park, and she asks his help against something horrible. Something weird happens at the museum where Daredevil beat the Plastoid. Wolverine and Kay go in, and Vincent shows up and sets a bunch of Egyptian animal-soldiers on Wolverine. The rest of Clan Destine goes in, and fight more of them while Vincent explains his plan. Kay tries to appeal to Vincent’s love of his siblings, and realizes he doesn’t know the names of the younger twins, Rory and Pandora, who are apparently pretty ridiculously powerful when they work together. Vincent possesses Wolverine, who resists until he explodes. Day is saved! Yay! It’s a good issue. A lot of fun. Davis was clearly psyched to be using his ClanDestine characters again.

Finally, Deadpool Kills the marvel Universe #4, by Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic. As usual, the art’s great. The story starts with most of the remaining heroes and villains fighting each other and jumping off a building to commit suicide. The Punisher kills Deadpool with a sniper shot from across the street, then crosses over to discover it was the Puppet Master. Deadpool kills the Punisher. Then he uses Puppet Master’s dolls to apparently kill a number of cosmic heroes and villains, and even, apparently, Galactus. Down in Florida, he fights Taskmaster, who can hear Deadpool’s inner voice, though he doesn’t realize Deadpool’s not speaking out loud. Taskmaster’s killed when Man-Thing burns him. Then Deadpool convinces Man-Thing to kill itself to create a portal where Deadpool can find a way to destroy everything. He ends up in a hall, and sees . . . the people working on the book, describing everything that’s going on on the page. A fun, meta way to end a fun, meta series. It was an enjoyable mini.

Now, on another note, Amazing Spider-Man #692 came out today. It has a Mid-Town High student get powers as the result of an accident at an experiment by Peter Parker. He’s able to access a form of energy that grants him near-limitless power, and Peter looks after him both as both Parker and Spider-Man. Now, I’m not going to talk about how much I identify with the kid (though he’s a lot like I am, before he gets his powers). This issue marks the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man. Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man’s debut, was cover-dated August 1962 (so it probably came out in June, but whatever.) So I’m going to talk about Spider-Man.

While I’m mostly an X-Men fan (who’da thunk it!), Spider-Man would be second in my heart. He’s a great character, and has been from the start. He’s not Superman or Captain America, or most other early superheroes. He’s not an obvious hero. He’s kind of a loser. Especially early on. He gets picked on at school, and he gets beaten up in costume. He routinely suffers major defeats. He struggles with money. He has few friends. And yet, he keeps going. Every time some villain hands him his ass, he picks himself up, and tries again. When his powers aren’t enough, he uses his brain, and comes up with some device or plan to win the day. He always strives to live up to the mantra that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, a phrase that he has embedded into popular culture.

The main appeal of Spider-Man, of course, was never Spider-Man. It was Peter Parker. A nerd, an outcast. Broke, unpopular, bullied, he was someone people could relate to. Everyone feels like a loser sometimes. Like an outsider looking in. So seeing this kid struggling with much the same personal problems we do, it made us feel a little less like a loser.

So, thank you to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for giving us Spider-Man. If I’m lucky, I’ll be around to celebrate his 100th anniversary.

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