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X-Men comics, February 6 2013

February 6, 2013

It’s my birthday today. Hurrah! I’m now 28. Makes me feel old. Anyway, here’s this week’s comics.

We start, naturally, with X-Factor #251, by Peter David (who’s recovering very well, according to his site) and Leonard Kirk. Monet is pissed at X-Factor headquarters being blown up, and yells at Darwin. Then we cut to X-Factor, surrounded by Hell Lords, and Tier’s inner monologue about how they all want to kill him. Hades effortlessly destroys Layla’s force field. The Hell Lords bicker among themselves over who gets to kill Tier, while absent-mindedly smacking around X-Factor. Mephisto prepares to kill Tier, but Jezebel stabs him in the back. Guido says he’s still on Mephisto’s side. Jezebel teleports them back to X-Factor HQ, where we find a still-annoyed Monet and a seemingly-injured Darwin. He hints at something weird. We get some backstory on the War between the Hell Lords, some debate over who they should go to for help, and then they’re found. This is great. A lot of good characterization, some groundwork for another mystery, and answers some questions. It also explains why these events are happening to X-Factor, rather than, say, the Avengers. And it makes sense. There’s also a little action, though not much, given that it’s a small group of mortals facing off against actual gods. The Hell Lords treat them with the contempt they’re owed. This is a really cool storyline unfolding, by a damned good writer.

Next, All-New X-Men #7, by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez. Young Scott goes into a bank, sees a woman with an X-badge, and gets her help with a safety deposit box. Wolverine shows up and leads him outside. Then, in an alley, he turns into Mystique. They have a long, interesting conversation, where Mystique basically tells him to kill his older self. Then the real Wolverine shows up to drive Scott back to the school. Kitty is preparing to give Bobby, Hank and Jean some training, with Bobby being a petulant child, because that’s the kind of guy he is. Kitty pwns him hard, because she’s awesome. Wolverine shows back up with Scott, who hands her their wedding invitation. This is another solid issue. There’s a lot of panels with no dialogue, as Bendis lets Marquez tell the story with his art. There’s also the very long conversation between Scott and Mystique, which was well-done. Mystique comes across as genuinely concerned in what’s going on – which is great, because we know she doesn’t give half a damn about it beyond something she can use to benefit her own plans. So, this is a very subtle issue. And it works. This is a solid series, deserving of all the praise it’s getting.

And that’s actually all the X-Men comics. So now some Now! titles.

First, Fearless Defenders #1, by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. Valkyrie is standing in rain. Blood rain. Then we cut to a boat in the North Atlantic. Misty is on board, and she gets spotted, leading to her kicking all sorts of ass. Inside the crates are so Asgardian stuff, including what looks like a valkyrie’s skeleton, in full armour. Then she’s attacked by a helicopter. Her arm has a force field to block bullets. Rockets, she has to dive into the water to avoid. Misty brings the one artifact she managed to keep – a small statuette – to Annabelle, an archaeologist friend who hired her in the first place. The friend turns it on, and some weird musical chant starts up. Which gets Viking skeletons up and killing. Misty fights them, and Valkyrie shows up to help. Misty’s friend is apparently a lesbian. There’s a panel of her kissing Valkyrie, which I found a little surprising. I had no idea Val was into girls. Ah, well, I’m not complaining. I will never complain about a little girl-on-girl action. And actually, I have few complaints about this issue in general. Valkyrie’s badass, Misty’s badass, we see Viking skeletons getting their asses kicked, and it’s setting up a fairly interesting story. It’s a fun book, with a lot of good humour. I also want to mention that it passes the Bechdel Test, which is nice. Actually, it’s starting to look like the main romance in this book is going to be between Val and Annabelle, which is interesting. It’s early yet, but this first issue is worth checking out. We’ll see if Bunn can keep it up. At the very least, his Fearless mini a couple years ago showed he has a solid grasp of Val. Having said all that, I do have to complain slightly about the kiss. It feels very sudden and comes out of nowhere. They’re fighting a horde of Viking skeletons, and Val takes a moment in the midst of it all for some romance. Also, does this mean her relationship with Venom is over? I’d be fine with that. I never really bought their romance anyway. (Actually, new rule: Rick Remender shouldn’t be allowed to write romances any more.)

Avengers #5, by Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert. Last issue was about Hyperion. This one is Smasher. We start with a flashback to a previous Smasher running from some catastrophic event to bring a warning to Earth. The Smasher seems to have died when he hit the planet, leaving behind only his goggles, found by some farmer woman. She goes back to the house, and her dad leaves to round up a bunch of animals her grandfather let loose. She has a conversation with her grandfather about how she left her astronomy studies in Colorado to help out on the farm in Iowa. Later, when she’s looking through her telescope, the goggles tell her to put them on, and she transforms into Smasher. Then she flies to Chandilar, to train to become a member of the Imperial Guard. In the present, Tony’s figured out how to communicate with Adam, the alien they took back from Mars. His name is Blackveil. We cut to the Shi’ar Galactic Rim, where Manta and Oracle are the only survivors out of an Imperial Guard troop sent there. The Avengers – Captain America, Wolverine, Falcon, Manifold, Banner and Smasher – show up to help. She becomes the first human member of the Imperial Guard. Also, her grandfather was Dan Dare. It’s a good issue. I would like Hickman to start trying to develop more characters at a time, though. He does a great job with the characterization, and he gives an epic sense of scale. But it just feels like it’s going too slowly right now. I’d like to see him balance the cast better.

New Avengers #3, by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. It starts with Beast opening a letter that unlocks a memory of Xavier showing him how to access very secret files. Beast opens it and finds the Mind Gem, and then gets brought to meet the Illuminati. He has a small device implanted in his palm that acts as a homing device, basic communicator, and connects to the early warning system of the apocalypse-detecting device they’re built. Reed has another conversation with the Swan, then we cut ahead four days, where they find an incursion in Pakistan’s mountains. They reform the Infinity Gauntlet, and Captain America uses it to try to push the other Earth away. But all the Gems shatter in the process. Things get interesting from there. I still say this book needs a heart, and I don’t think Beast is the one to fill that role. He’s a scientist. They’re all scientists or rulers, except Captain America, who’s a soldier and strategist. But I guess the point of the series is that it’s a bunch of very smart, important men deciding the fate of the world. It’s a good concept, and Hickman’s doing a very good job with it. It just feels incomplete.

Red She-Hulk #62, by Jeff Parker, with art by Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves. Betty continues her story of her meeting with Eleanor. She was dumped into a weird room and knocked out a weird monster before having a weird conversation with Tesla. She and Machine Man try to figure out how to stop the future she saw, and come up with the idea of touching Eleanor again, together. We get a scene of General Fortean taking Captain America to Walter Reed to see the soldiers injured by Red She-Hulk, and then we go back to Betty and Aaron. The house Eleanor was in has burned down. Machine Man suggests S.H.I.E.L.D. likely moved her. The two come under attack by Echelon troops. Another awesome issue. Parker’s doing a great job on this series. Great characterization, exciting action, an intriguing premise, lots of twists – solid series, definitely deserves to be picked up.

Superior Spider-Man #3, by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman. It starts with J. Jonah Jameson putting a Spider-Signal on the roof of the police station. Spider-Ock deactivates it, and points out how stupid it is to put a giant beacon in the sky announcing to all his enemies where he is. He’s then asked to work with Carlie on the Vulture case. Spider-Ock has a flashback to the Sinister Six, and working with the Vulture, with Peter seeing the memory. In the present, Spider-Ock finds the Vulture, and asks him to quit the criminal lifestyle if Spider-Ock helps him with one big nest egg to retire on. The Vulture thinks it’s a joke. Spider-Ock smacks one of the Vulture’s midget fliers, and learns they’re actually children. This gives Peter a look into Otto being abused by his father as a kid. Spider-Ock flips out and tries to kill the Vulture. He ends up blinding the Vulture and driving him into the search light. Carlie is shocked. Slott’s actually making pretty good use of her. And he’s making good use of Spider-Ock and Peter. We’re getting good insight into Otto, and seeing him develop as a person, while still being a smug, manipulative jerk. It’s cool.

Thunderbolts #4, by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon. Red Hulk’s angry at the Punisher for shooting the Leader, Punisher and Venom are angry at Red Hulk even having the Leader, and Punisher’s wondering about a comment one of the ladies made about past experiences with mercenaries. Punisher and Deadpool head to the dictator’s house, and Deadpool lays out a string of profanity. We get a flashback of Philip going to Samuel Sterns’s apartment to get information out of him. Then we get a flashback of the dictator, Awa, as a college student in Hawaii. The US government deposes Awa’s father and places Awa as the new leader of the country, and gets his help building a secret gamma lab in Kata Jaya. In the present, things go predictably FUBAR. And the book remains predictably mediocre. Way’s trying to do all sorts of intrigue and secrets and politics and stuff, but he’s just not a good enough writer to carry it off. His plotting’s weak, his characterization’s OK but not stellar, Red Hulk is just making bizarre decisions that are impossible to follow (and I suspect are mostly an excuse for Way to bring back the Leader). It’s not worth reading.

And I’ll toss in Avengers Assemble Annual #1, by Christos Gage and Tomm Coker (with Mike Mayhew, Mike Deodato, Luke Ross and Valentine de Landro). Vision sees Carol and Jessica talking, and uses his jewel to make Danielle happy. Jessica asks if he has kids. “No.” Carol tells him he should meet Billy and Teddy, but he gets angry. Iron Man tells Carol and Vision to answer a distress call from a Roxxon Building under attack from Sunturion. Sunturion is a former Roxxon employee who seems to have some grievance against them. He can also manipulate his density, making him a fair foe for the Vision. Sunturion leaves, and Roxxon’s CEO tells the Avengers Sunturion’s dying. Back at Stark Tower, Iron Man lays out the plan for dealing with Sunturion. Quicksilver gets in some taunts at Vision, and Vision chooses to pursue his own avenue of investigation regarding Sunturion. He goes to Sunturion’s ex-wife’s house, and finds him there. He convinces Sunturion to stop, and to go to the Avengers for help. Back at the Tower, Vision asks Stark and Pym why they left him in pieces in a warehouse for so long. They try to explain, and he seems to understand. They then tell Sunturion that they’re not sure how to help him, and he decides to continue his crusade against Roxxon. He heads to a facility in New Jersey, where they’re making more like him. Vision defeats him, then destroys Roxxon’s work. Then Vision decides to quit the Avengers. This was a great comic. It’s some really interesting work on the Vision, and good insight. Some cool parallels are drawn between him and Sunturion. And the dialogue’s excellent. I miss Gage on a monthly title. This is a solid Annual, making great use of a character who’s been absent for a long time.

And just because I’m a brony, I’ll mention My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #3. It’s great. So cute and funny.


From → 2013, Uncategorized

  1. 1. Happy birthday. 30 will feel weirder.

    2. You tore through almost a dozen books in a day. What is the secret to your success?

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