X-Men comics, February 13 2013
Marvel seems to be releasing all the X-titles at the same time, so there’s a lot to get to today. They need to scatter them more.
First up, Uncanny X-Men #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo. The high quality of All-New X-Men has led to some excitement for this book. Does it live up to the expectations? It starts with Maria Hill walking with Fury Jr. and Coulson to interrogate . . . someone, who showed up out of nowhere and asked to speak with Hill. He tells her a mutant revolution is being planned, and he shows her a map with a bunch of little dots indicating new mutants appearing. He then tells her the only X-Man she needs to worry about is Scott Summers, and that people on the street love him for rescuing mutants all over the world. He then reveals that Cyclops’s powers aren’t working properly any more, that he doesn’t control them. He tells her about a new mutant who appeared in San Francisco a day earlier, who was tasered by the police before Scott showed up with his team. Then some Sentinels showed up. Cyclops let loose with everything he had, and got lucky enough to wipe the Sentinels out. Then we learn who was talking to Hill. I won’t spoil it, but it’s cool, and it makes sense. And it should make things very interesting going forward. This issue is mostly set-up. We don’t get to see a whole lot of characterization yet, but there is a little bit. Judging by how Bendis handled ANXM, we should get a lot more characterization going forward. And he showed there that he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, so I’m looking forward to seeing more. The only real problem is Bachalo. I don’t think his art is right for this book. It’s a little too cartoonish; this book should be more conventional, I think. Also, the costumes. Ew. Regardless, this book is worth checking out, at least for the first few issues.
Cable & X-Force #4, by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larocca. We start with Forge blowing up the X-bunker, a few minutes before they’re attacked there. They’re in an alley, and Cable tells them to lay low for a few days. Domino tells Peter to buy her tequila, Forge offers to buy Nemesis some fish tacos. Then we cut back to the Eat-More processing plant, as they fight a bunch of freaky mutated people. While Nemesis works on the mutated people, Colossus leads Cable to where the trucks are. But they’re not there. What is there is a Deathlok. Domino shows up, having taken care of the trucks. And then Nemesis runs in with a giant monster made of a few of the mutated guys. He kills it with the transmode virus. Unfortunately, news has gotten out of the attack, and X-Force is now labeled as mutant terrorists. We’ve finally gotten the full story of how they became outlaws, and it’s a good one. Still, I’m glad we’re not likely to get more flashbacks. It remains a solid series, worth picking up. Good characterization, good plotting, and very good art. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here, and how they try to clear their names. And it looks like next issue will have Cable confronted by Hope, which is nice. I’m glad she’s still showing up.
X-Treme X-Men #10, by Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia. Dazzler takes the team swimming. Summers doesn’t approve. She blasts him off their vehicle, but he lands in a crouch. Kurt steals his clothes. Summers is a sexy hunk of man, and Dazzler doesn’t mind admitting to staring. Summers dives in and blasts at her, but she dodges, then sees the scars on his back. Summers gives his back story (slave, whipped a lot, fought in the Civil War after being trained by Fury and Xavier), followed by Howlett and Hercules giving theirs. They’re cool. Anyway, they go underwater and find London, with a Nazi-esque banner with an X instead of a swastika. Namor shoves their robot ship out of the water, swearing vengeance against Xavier. Namor is Japanese and Atlantean in this world. That’s when Nazi Xavier shows up. Nazi Xavier tells them he’s not the bad guy, and that he and his men have actually hidden the 500 survivors of a drowned world. Very interesting. This is what’s cool about these sorts of series. It’s fun seeing different realities, different versions of familiar characters. A black Scott Summers, a Japanese Namor, a Nazi Xavier, a gay Wolverine. I’ll miss this series when it ends. Which surprises me, because I wasn’t impressed by the first few issues. But it’s grown on me. Pak has done a much better job with all the characters, and made them all compelling and neat. This is worth buying, but keep in mind it’s ending soon.
X-Men #41, written by Seth Peck, pencils by Jefte Palo and Guillermo Mogorron. First, flashbacks. Five soldiers in Afghanistan, in 2009, among the best of the best. Virginia, 2010, they’re training after getting implants. Haste, able to run 200MPH. Brawl, force fields. Mass, density control. Crimson Commando, apparently a walking arsenal. Shift, shapechanger. Now we cut to the present, where Freedom Force is confronting the X-Men. Considering the X-Men present include Storm and X-Men, along with Chamber, Angel and Pixie, this really shouldn’t be a fair fight. But it is, at least at first. Until Iceman freezes Crimson Commando, Pixie uses her dust on Mass (and it’s about damned time it got used again!), Chamber blasts Brawl into the air to be frozen by Iceman, and Storm chases Haste with lightning bolts. Ultimately, Owen, the kid they were fighting over, decides to leave with Freedom Force. Looks like Kade stupid annoying piss-ant little Kilgore is going to try to recruit him, even though that stupid brat should just be shot in the head so we don’t have to read about that obnoxious waste of space any more. This issue was lame. The new Freedom Force wasn’t developed enough to be interesting, the fight was boring, the art was unattractive, the characterization was lacking . . . just not a good comic. Which is oddly appropriate, given how lackluster this volume of X-Men has been overall. This has been a very inconsistent series. It got off to a rough start with its vampire arc, so it only seems appropriate to end on an equally low note. This volume will not be missed. Especially since it’s being replaced by a new Wood/Coipel X-Men that looks like it’ll be amazing. I’m very excited for that one. Almost as excited as I was for Gillen’s Young Avengers, and that’s saying a lot.
Wolverine and the X-Men #25, by Jason Aaron and Ramon Perez. In the Canadian Rockies, Dog – Logan’s half-brother from his Origin series – is visited by his future self, telling him it’s time, and to head to the Savage Land. Wolverine’s taken the class – or some of it, anyway (Idie, Evan, Quire, Glob, Broo, and the three new kids I don’t actually give a damn about) – to the Savage Land for Survival 101. The point is for them to learn how to survive as a group, a pack. He then stabs a T-Rex in the foot. Mixed in with the kids trying to survive in the jungle, we get some flashbacks to Wolverine talking to Beast about the trip, and talking to Quire on the plane, where he tells Quire he’s become class president (over Anole, because Aaron has made it clear he doesn’t give a damn about any of the students with more than one year of history). Anyway, things go about as well as one would expect. It’s OK. I’m too biased against this series, from its first few issues, to be able to give an objective review. This is a definite improvement from its first year. The characterization is becoming less shallow, the humour a little less absurd, and the stories a little more mature. Bringing Dog Logan back in, after the events of the Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine mini, is good, and could be very interesting. So, this is not the usual crap WatXM gives us.
Age of Apocalypse #12, by David Lapham and Renato Arlem. Last issue saw the Celestial Death Seed energy leaving Weapon Omega’s body, with enough energy to destroy the city of New Apocalypse. Instead of being captured by the device built by Trask and Moreau, the energy instead tried to go into Jean. The building she and Logan were in blew up, but the rest of the city was still standing. Monet (or Penance, as she’s known here) takes advantage to become the new leader of mutantkind. Prophet and his people, naturally, are all still alive, because having them suffer a setback is simply not allowed in this stupid, awful series. Penance starts handing out supplies to the mutants, saying they’ll live free, and saying humans will, too. Scott Summers breaks up the rally, saying the government’s still in place, and if the Overlord is dead, a new one will emerge, and nothing will change. Horroshow finds Creed, apparently still alive after blowing himself up. A fight breaks out between Scott’s people and Monet’s, while Prophet tries to find what happened to Jean and Logan. He finds them laying in the rubble of the building, where Logan tells him neither of them have the energy. Apparently, the energy was sent to the device after all. When will this series just end? There’s at least two more issues, even though it’s been unrelentingly bad. Bad writing, dull characterization, muddy art, things always going absolutely perfectly for the heroes – it’s a bad series, and it should just be cancelled.
That’s all the X-titles, but there’s some Now! stuff.
First, Fantastic Four #4, by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley. It starts with a flashback to the first time Reed saw Susan, falling instantly in love with her. This is a retcon – the first time he saw her, she was 12. In the present, Reed is talking to Ben about the planet they’re going to, and the culture there. Ben sits on his chair, and it falls down, much to Johnny’s entertainment. He rigged it a month ago. Speaking of, reading Ben’s lines is frustrating. For one thing, they’re all bolded, like he’s shouting all the time. There’s no reason for it, and it’s annoying. The other problem is that he uses ‘dat’ for ‘that,’ ‘da’ for ‘the,’ and so on. Again, it’s distracting and annoying, because it’s not really how he speaks. We do get a nice moment of Ben admitting to feeling lonely and cooped up on the ship. They meet the Ayleth people, and Sue is quickly recognized somehow. Turns out the Fantastic Four are depicted on some old cave drawings. Franklin has another nightmare about their space trip, and the next morning, the group heads to the caves. They’re not sure how they wound up on a cave wall. Sue’s told she could be a Queen if she wanted. When she returns to the ship, she tells Reed she knows he’s hiding something. Throughout the issue, Reed is writing a letter to Sue, and we keep getting glimpses of their early relationship when he was a student. It’s all very well-written, and it really highlights the relationship they have. This continues to be a solid series, for the most part, aside from a couple minor complaints.
Secret Avengers #1, by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross. Hawkeye wakes up, bleeding badly. He’s taken by soldiers to a room where he’s hung up by his wrists, with no idea how he got there. A truth drug is used on him, and he doesn’t know how he got there. A telepath is brought in, and she says he doesn’t know. Some weird black squid-like thing enters his body, but he still doesn’t know. That’s when the Black Widow shows up to save him by shooting people. Then we cut back 10 hours, to Coulson briefing Hawkeye and Black Widow. Coconut pineapple scones are present. Hawkeye approves. Daisy Johnson wants them to head up a new team for SHIELD. Hawkeye does not approve. Coulson says memory transplants would be necessary before they’d be approved for field work. Black Widow really does not approve. Coulson gets a call, and says there’s one more thing that might change their minds. Specifically, [redacted]. They agree. Four hours later, they’re on a Helicarrier, where Hill explains how the memory thing will go. Fury Jr.’s brought in, and Hawkeye makes a comparison to Bond, where the new guy takes the name of the old guy. Fury tells them about Andras Bertesy, a Hungarian arms dealer who dabbles in magic, and is preparing to sell access to the Darkforce Dimension to terrorists. Cut to half an hour ago, where Fury and Hawkeye continue the Bond conversation as they chase some guy in Budapest. They catch him as he tries to escape into the Darkforce. Fury gets the coordinates of the meeting from him, then shoots him in the back of the head. Turns out the bullet actually has a built-in healing factor that’ll bring the guy back in a few hours. Then Hawkeye gets shot by a guy popping out of nowhere. Even so, the mission is completed successfully. Though things aren’t quite what they seem. There’s a lot of mysteries here, and a lot of secrets. I’ll admit, this is better than I expected. Spencer’s got a bit of a mixed record. But this was pretty good. Even if I still hate the Fury Jr. concept. But that’s not really Spencer’s fault. Presumably, he was told to use the new Fury, so he’s doing the best he can with an obnoxious concept, and trying to make the character enjoyable. I already like this more than Remender’s run on the title, if that means anything.
Finally, Avengers Arena #4, by Dennis Hopeless and Alessandro Vitti. This is the Runaways issue, with Chase as the viewpoint character. He’s talking to Nico about how they should wait it out, let everyone else fight it out, and then clean up at the end. Nico suggests finding someone else they can work with to survive. Cut to Hazmat, Reptil and Laura, unable to find food or Juston. Nico and Chase show up, arms raised, and Reptil immediately pounces on them for some reason, because it’s not like the Academy kids didn’t befriend the Runaways through sharing their life stories. Oh, wait, they totally did, making that scene flat-out retarded. That is some awful, awful writing. Anyway, she explains the tree to them, and also mentions that her escape spells don’t work. Some chatting between everyone, and Reptil gets badly burned by a flamethrower. He’s down to two bars of health. We still don’t know what happened to Juston or Darkhawk. Juston’s Sentinel is still in pieces. And now Reptil’s near-death. The Academy kids are easily getting the worst of this series so far. They’re not even really getting much character insight at this point. Reptil is more generic than ever. The initial hostility the Academy kids show the Runaways makes no sense at all, given how they parted in Avengers Academy. It’s implied that something about the Arena might be making people act more violent than they otherwise would. Regardless, I still loathe the concept behind this series.