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X-Men comics, January 9 2012

January 9, 2013

I have class from 2-5 on Wednesdays now, hence the late hour of this post. 10 comics to get to, half of them X-Men, the other half other Now! titles.

We’ll start, I suppose, with Cable & X-Force #3, by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larocca. It starts with Hope being paid a visit by SHIELD, and Havok asking her where Cable is and what he’s up to. Hope says she doesn’t know, and Wolverine tells Havok to let it go. Then we cut back to the past. Cable talks about his villains. Apparently, a virus in the food of a fast-food chain starts turning people into monsters, with mutants being immune. The head of the fast-food chain is a woman with anti-mutant views who said mutants could stay out of her restaurants. I’m guessing this woman was probably loosely inspired by the Chick-Fil-A president opposing same-sex marriage. Obviously, mutants will be blamed for the virus, leading to a dark future of oppression and Sentinels. You know, typical X-Men fare. As they plan their strategy, Hope decides to call the team X-Force, but Cable refuses, because he’s no fun. Obviously, Hopeless is having fun. (And on a side note, Hopeless is writing Hope. Because his name is just designed for that sort of irony.) We get a scene with Forge and the lady, which throws a whole lot complexity into the events. We also get Dr. Nemesis explaining his new outfit to Cable, and Cable not caring. And then it’s time to start the operation. This is a very good issue. The woman, when we meet her, actually comes across as very reasonable, rather than the usual frothing-at-the-mouth bigots or power-mad monsters that usually show up. Initially, I thought she was going to be an example of comic books taking real events (such as the Chick-Fil-A president’s comments) and taking them to cartoonish extremes. But that’s not at all the case here, and she’s actually fairly sympathetic. There’s some pretty good jokes tossed in here and there, too, often unexpectedly. Nemesis, as usual, is awesome. Colossus didn’t show up here, which is a little unfortunate – three issues in, and he’s barely shown up, and we have no idea what sort of mental state he’s in. Hopefully, Hopeless will start using him more soon. And Larocca’s art, of course, was quite good. His Rogue looked weird, but I think it might be because Larocca takes a slightly more realistic approach to her than other artists do.

X-Men Legacy #4 by Simon Spurrier and Jorge Molina. The X-Men are confronting David, and David finds them a bit ridiculous. He has a discussion with them about Xavier’s dream being great, but how he went about it wrong. Wolverine gets ready for a brawl, and Legion bluffs him enough to weaken his mental defences. He leads the kids out while the X-Men consider going after him. He has the kids go into his head to help subdue some of his personalities. Fight time. Then Blindfold somehow manages to get into his head. I didn’t know she could do that. And she somehow talks almost normally in there, which is weird. Things go bad, though. And then dramatic. And maybe a bit weird. All in all, this is a pretty good issue, though Legion’s Scottish accent still bugs me. Yes, I will mention that in my review of every issue. There’s a lot of mysteries and intrigues going on. I will say that the X-Men were more aggressive than they probably should’ve been. And the art’s OK.

Wolverine & the X-Men #23, by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw. We get a flashback to four years ago, where Max created himself a friend out of corpses. Then a few months later, he betrayed his creation to save his own life when an angry mob attacked, as they do. In the present, he decides not to put himself at risk by rescuing Idie. Outside, the X-Men have all regained their memories, and fight the evil circus clowns. (Doop translation: “Wait. Now there’s an eyeball kid. Jeez. If this keeps up, I won’t even be the weirdest guy at the school any more.”) They win, of course, but then the Monster shows up with Idie, chasing Max. More fighting, Frankenstein escapes with Calcabrina. Wolverine mentions alerting Elsa Bloodstone and the Legion of Monsters that the Frankenstein Monster is active, which is stupid, because Elsa actually already knows the Monster, since the Monster was a friend of her father’s, and an ally of hers. This is part of why I hate this arc. The Frankenstein Monster is depicted as a monster out for revenge, which hasn’t been true since 1975, since he chose to live with Victoria Frankenstein. Even before that, he was an essentially heroic figure. He was looking for revenge against the Frankenstein family, yes, but he tried hard not to kill innocents. He was a sensitive being. So even aside from the pathetically shallow characterization so common to this series, it just throws the Frankenstein Monster’s past characterization out the window. This is not the same character, at all. It’s a completely brand-new character, never before seen. That’s the only explanation for this entire idiotic arc. Stupid. I hate this series.

Age of Apocalypse #11, written by David Lapham, art by Roberto de la Torre and Renato Arlem. Dark Beast tells Omega that Jean is completely human, and Omega says she’ll be interrogated for information on the rebels before being killed. Quire tries to kill the Shadow King, and we learn that Prophet’s scientist had cloned Quire’s brain to trap the Shadow King. Apparently, it’s not actually Quire who showed up, but one of Prophet’s guys, Goodbye. With the Shadow King out of the way, Prophet gets his team ready to piss off Omega enough that he decides to kill Jean, so she can make her move and force the Celestial Death Seed energy out of him so it can be captured. Blah blah, she manages to slip him the pill so the energy leaves him, and I’m sure Prophet’s team will still somehow survive the energy destroying the city, because they’re a bunch of stupid Mary Sues and everything always goes exactly according to their plan. Ugh. This has been an awful series, right from the start, with absolutely nothing to recommend it. Even the art is unpleasant.

First X-Men #5, by Neal Adams and Christos Gage. Another awful series. Virus is making Creed fight Logan, Holly distracts him long enough for Creed and Logan to step him, but Virus uses his last moments to force Creed to kill Holly. Logan sends everyone away while he takes down a bunch of Sentinels with nothing but a pair of katanas. It’s not even a well-drawn action scene, to make up for the stupidity of it. The cabin catches fire, and an agent runs in to save his kids. Xavier telepathically covers his escape. Creed saves Holly, and they raise a family and grow old together. Obviously, all an illusion created by Holly, to give him some happiness to hold onto. Fred Duncan talks to Logan, and we learn that Logan was apparently called the Wolverine when he was in the service, yet another needless and silly retcon in a series full of them. This series was stupid all around. Gage did a decent enough job on the dialogue, but between the stupid plot, ridiculous retcons, and hideous art, there’s nothing good to say about this. And I don’t understand how the art could be so ugly. Neal Adams used to be great. His short run on the X-Men in the late ’60s was the high-point of the book of that period. He was one of the best the title ever had. For him to turn in such garbage as this book just boggles the mind.

Now, for the Now! titles. We’ll start with Superior Spider-Man #1, by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman. It starts with Otto Parker saying goodbye to his old life, and rushing into action as Spider-Man to embrace his new life. Boomerang, Speed Demon, Shocker, Living Brain and Beetle (a new female version) are attacking the science building at ESU to grab a barometric oscillator. Overdrive shows up with a pimped-out Big Wheel as the getaway car, declaring it “the coolest getaway car ever.” Boomerang refers to the team as the new Sinister Six, which does not sit well with Spider-Ock. The fight is short, as Spider-Ock runs away after being punched a few times by Speed Demon. He risks his life to save a cop from a nitro boomerang, wondering why he did it. I guess Peter’s influencing him a bit. He has the Living Brain delivered to himself at Horizon Labs so he can study it. Max talks to him, and Otto realizes that his greatest achievements will be credited to Peter Parker, which angers him. Then he has a date with MJ, which cheers him up. He reveals to MJ that he’s actually listening in on the Sinister Six, and MJ’s also concerned when he starts drinking wine. The next day, he kicks ass, mostly using his brains. And then the shocker ending that a lot of people had already guessed. Major spoiler alert, giving away what’s clearly going to be the major conflict of the whole series: Peter Parker’s still in there, and he’s going to keep fighting Otto, and keep him from killing. This is a good issue. The inability of characters to recognize a change in Peter is a bit annoying. But there’s a weird sort of funny non-humour going on. Spider-Ock is still making Spidey-esque quips, but instead of being a way to distract enemies, it’s out of sheer arrogance. He’s not insulting villains as a tactical thing, he’s just saying what he actually thinks of them. It’s bizarrely funny. And Stegmen does a good job on pencils. It’s similar to Amazing, but just a little different, a little darker, and that’s appropriate. I think it could stand to be just a touch less cartoony, but it’s a minor quibble. Overall, this is a good book. Next issue will be the important one, though. He can’t be romantically involved with MJ. It simply would not be right.

Fantastic Four #3 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley. Reed is monologuing about a planet they’re going to about 38 light-years from Earth, that seems to be made of unstable molecules. He hopes it’ll give him a clue into his condition. The kids ask which of them gets to step on the planet first, and Reed calls for Susan’s help. She calls them to the cockpit to see Zeta Doradus. They get ready to go down, with Ben staying behind. Val senses there’s something wrong with him, but Reed doesn’t notice it. Johnny’s an obnoxious brat in the shuttle, and Susan uses a full-name ultimatum on him, which is absolutely perfect. That is exactly how they would be. The kids, obviously, step on the planet together, but Reed seems more concerned with what happened to a harvester probe he sent down. They obviously get attacked, by tendrils coming out of the planet. Reed calls Ben to say things aren’t going well, but Ben sees something even weirder. They manage to get away, of course, with plenty of awesomeness all around. This is great. Fraction gives all the characters unique voices, but they all sound right. They’re all who they should be. He’s even starting to get a handle on Ben. And he also brings the high adventure and utter lunacy that a Fantastic Four comic needs. Seriously, the planet in this issue is bizarre. And there’s also plenty of humour, and plenty of heart. It’s how the Fantastic Four should be, and Fraction is a worthy successor to Hickman.

Avengers Arena #3, by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker. We’re on day 8 already, and Cammi is the focus character for this issue. Apparently there’s a late-night stalker in Murder World, who’s almost killed Chase and some of the Braddock Academy kids. She sees Juston’s Sentinel get trashed by the hunter. Juston might be dead, which would make a death count of three existing characters, two of them with fairly dedicated fan bases, with Hopeless not killing a single one of his new characters yet. Which is kind of a piss-off, to be honest. Cammi attacks who she thinks is the hunter, and it turns out it’s Darkhawk she’s attacking. We cut back a few months, to Brand interrogating Cammi, which gives a bit of a run-down of Cammi’s history. We cut back to Cammi and Darkhawk talking, and agreeing to split up to follow two separate sets of tracks. While she’s following one set, Laura ambushes her, says Cammi’s smell is wrong, and apologizes while she walks away. And it ends with Darkhawk getting his amulet torn out of him. So he might be dead now. Though the cover for next issue suggests otherwise. But whatever. Screw this book. I don’t care enough to critique it. He’s killing off interesting and compelling characters who deserve better than that, and he’s doing it in the hope that the controversy will bring in readers. I’m not even going to finish reviewing the first arc. From now on, I’ll just say who seems to be killed in each issue.

Thor God of Thunder #4, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. It starts in the future, with a defeated old Thor being carried to what he thinks is Hel. Instead, he’s left on his throne, as the God Butcher won’t even let him die. Grim stuff. In the present, Thor is talking to an alien god who Gorr kept alive, and made watch while he slaughtered the god’s pantheon. The god is now a little mad. Thor asks the god for information, and offers protection, and the god talks about the cave as being almost sacred to Gorr, and offers some more insight into Gorr. Thor takes him to Omnipotence City, and finds the Librarian injured and Gorr’s black hounds burning the place. Then back to 493, so Gorr can torture young Thor. Back to the fight in the library. Then to the future, where Thor crawls outside and calls to Mjolnir. In the present, Thor heads for Chronux, and the Palace of Infinity. Then things get weird. This book continues to be awesome. This arc finishes with the next issue, and I’ll stop reviewing the book then. But it’s an epic series, worth checking out, even if Thor doesn’t normally interest you. The three different versions of him are all unique and interesting, and Gorr is appropriately creepy here. His tales to young Thor about the gods he’s tortured were cool. He’s reprehensible, and irredeemably evil, and it makes him a great antagonist. And the art, of course, matches the writing very well. (Thor also shows up in Punisher: War Zone #3. He is incredibly badass in it. Awesome.)

Finally, Thunderbolts #3, by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon. Red Hulk is asking Deadpool if he looked inside one of the shipping containers, which we know contains the body of Samuel Sterns. Dillon draws entirely too skinny a Red Hulk. Punisher “trains” some rebels in the use of their new guns, choosing as squad leader a woman who was willing to shoot a monkey. Cut back to Red Hulk explaining that he’s temporarily giving the Leader his powers back because he’s needed for victory in Kata Jaya. Back to Punisher giving the rebels their orders, while he heads off to destroy a bridge to cut off reinforcements for the base the rebels are attacking. Venom helps with the actual assault. Red Hulk is pleased that Elektra’s been captured, which makes me wonder how Deadpool got back from the assault where that happened. Way’s plotting seems incredibly lazy on this book. Anyway, there’s another twist regarding the exact information Red Hulk needs from the leader, and who’s holding Elektra prisoner. The twist is somewhat interesting, I guess. But this is still a bland, boring book, with weak plotting, weak characterization (though Deadpool is slightly better than during Way’s solo run), and bad art. This is an entirely skippable book, not worth picking up, no matter how much you like the characters in it.


From → 2012, Uncategorized

  1. I haven’t bothered to check out the new THUNDERBOLTS series – which is a shame, because this title has sort of always been like DAREDEVIL, it guaranteed quality no matter who was on it. I love all of the characters in it, but I’ve yet to be interested in any of Daniel Way’s stories.
    I agree with your thoughts on SUPERIOR – it was a lot of fun, but I almost thought it should have been less fun, as ridiculous as that sounds! But I did really enjoy it, I’m a big fan of Stegman’s work, and I love Dan Slott. The fanbase really hates WatXM, so I feel bad being such a supporter, but I think it’s a great series. Chris Sims’ recent write-up about how the Frankenstein arc being about an adolescent parent-killing revenge fantasy is perfect for a teen book shone an interesting mature light on a really wacky title, as his essays’ often do! Anyway, great reviews! LEGACY is my favourite X-book of the NOW! era – Chamber and Blindfold were fantastic in this!

    • Yeah, don’t bother with the new Thunderbolts. It’s an entirely different series, with no connection to the previous one. Dark Avengers is what you’re looking for – it carries on from the old Thunderbolts. It even continues the numbering from Thunderbolts, actually.

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