X-Men comics, March 13 2013
A few comics to get to this week, so let’s start.
First, Uncanny X-Men #3, by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo. It starts with a flashback of Eva talking about why she admires Captain America (the fact that he was frozen in ice and didn’t freak out when he woke up). Cut to the present, the kids are all amazed at being face-to-face with the Avengers, led by Cap. (One of the kids also wonders why the Hulk is wearing armour, saying “it makes no sense.” Clever, Bendis.) Cap says Scott and Emma have to answer for what they did. Scott says so does Cap. And then Emma finally says what we’d all been thinking: That the Avengers were the ones who attacked the Phoenix, forced it into the X-Men, and created an environment where they couldn’t control themselves. You go, Emma. She calls out Stark specifically. Even Hawkeye says Tony broke the Phoenix. Thank you, Hawkeye, bro. Anyway, Scott asks for a minute, and the Avengers seem to be confused enough that he asked for a time-out that they give it to him. Scott tells Illyana to teleport everyone out of there as soon as anything happens, which annoys her. She asks if her name is now Magicbus. Carol talks to Scott, and brings up the fact that they took her in a while ago. This is something that really doesn’t get brought up enough. She basically was an X-Man for a little while, but that friendship is almost never mentioned. So I like that Bendis brought it up. Scott tells the Avengers that life for mutants is still unfair, that mutants are still an oppressed minority, and that he’s not going to let his people be treated that way. He makes a really compelling argument. He also invites Carol to join them – awesome. Eva then tells Captain America that Scott’s telling the truth. Takes a lot of guts to stand up to her favourite superhero. Good for her. When the Avengers decide to attack, Eva does even better by freezing them in a time bubble. When the X-Men return home, they find out Magneto alerted the Avengers. Magneto explains he wants to find out details on the new Sentinel program, so he went to SHIELD and sold Scott out to get their trust so he could get information from them. Scott and Magik are angry, but Emma thinks it’s brilliant. So the speculation that Magneto was lying to SHIELD seems to have been correct. This is really good. No actual fighting, but it’s not needed. This is a philosophical battle, and as such, it’s handled well. The X-Men make some excellent points, and some of the Avengers – particularly Carol, and again, I love Bendis for that – get to come across as really sympathetic. Eva’s really cool. And the Magneto twist makes sense. Though we’ll see if there’s yet another twist for him coming. Looks like next issue will have Scott’s team having a similar argument with the Jean Grey School. Should be cool. This is a great series. Well worth picking up. Who knew, after all the criticism Bendis got on the Avengers, that his X-books would be two of the best books Marvel has?
X-Treme X-Men #12, by Greg Pak and Andre Araujo. The team is pretending to be captured, and are being led to a worksite. It’s a very Ancient Egypt-themed world they find themselves on. The Sphinx being built has a weird glowing eye, which is some sort of dimensional rift with immense energy coming through. The Three Evil Xaviers show up to seize control of it. Sage advises against attacking them, saying they’re too strong. That night, Dazzler says she’s held back all along, but that they’ll all need to let loose against the Xaviers, to kill them before they can do any more harm. The next day starts with Hercules smashing the ground to make a whole lot of noise, and telling the slaves to roar. Dazzler absorbs the noise around her, powering herself up. She blasts the Witch King and Nazi Xaviers into one of the pyramids, and Hercules buries them under it. The Head-In-A-Jar Xavier says he didn’t want to help the other two, and has been trying to keep them from sensing Dazzler’s team. He tells them to kill whatever’s on the other side of the portal. Dazzler and Summers blast into it, and it shuts down. Then it blows open. Then it blasts the Xaviers, and seems to kill them. Again. It sucks everyone around into itself, and Xavier jumps the team away. This was OK. Very good characterization of Dazzler. The story was only OK, though. And the ending was a bit weird. Only one more issue to go, and it’ll be part four for the X-Termination crossover. That’s a shame. This has been a good series, it deserves to go on. The only reason to cancel it would be to replace it with a new volume of Exiles. Come on, Marvel, give me back Blink and Morph!
X-Men Legacy #7, by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat. Legion is in Raleigh, mind-controlling pigeons into bringing him stale pretzels for lunch. He’s tracked down by some weird metal orb, which accuses him of unlicensed cosmic teleportation, and to give himself up for arrest. And rants about “Mighty justice from space!” It’s actually quite a charming little orb. Anyway, Legion uses his telepathy to fry its sensors, then walks towards the Church of the Happy Host to start a fight, with Blindfold spying on him in astral form. They’re an interesting group. Anyway, he tells them he’s in love with a mutant, and they slap him and insult him. They hold him down and prepare to give him a pill that explodes when it reacts with the X-gene. They wear stupid helmets that keep him from accessing their minds. So he’s doomed. Luckily, Blindfold manages, in astral form, to grab the pill and spit it into the trash. I had no idea that was possible. Legion’s brought upstairs, past a book of Luca’s prophecies, and left in a room, where he talks to Blindfold. She apparently loses her weird speech patterns when she’s particularly angry. She even gets her old southern accent going. It’s pretty cute, actually. He tells her he’s there to stop them before they become a threat, but she focuses on the fact that he used the word “date.” He gets into their brains when they try to lay their hands on him to cleanse his sin. After that, Brand shows up with some SWORD troops. I love Brand. Looks like Legion uploaded memories of what he did into their minds, to make them look guilty. The head of the church says he doesn’t believe in aliens, and Sydren points out he’s standing right there. Brand is suspicious, but then Legion asks if she’s dating Beast. The church people all spit on her. That settles things. This was really good. A lot of fun. The growing relationship between David and Ruth is very sweet. And it’s giving him a growing confidence. Not a lot, not yet, but it’s a start. Always glad to see Blindfold used in general, and Spurrier’s making great use of her. Making her more of a person than she’s ever been. And, of course, it’s always nice to see Agent Brand, and her sarcastic wit. Good comic. Worth reading.
Wolverine and the X-Men #26, by Jason Aaron and Ramon Pérez. It starts with Dog Logan’s hard-luck life story. In the present, Wolverine and Dog fight, and Dog talks about all the people Wolverine killed, and claims to be the hero of the story. The fight is interspersed with more flashbacks of Dog’s life. It’s a good story. It’s cool getting Dog’s side of things. The fight itself is fairly cool. But I do have one minor complaint: We finally get a character-driven issue, and it’s for an antagonist who’s almost certainly not going to hang around after this arc. The students don’t even appear. Regardless of this complaint, I hope Aaron keeps up this sort of character-driven stuff. You know, instead of slipping back to the two-dimensional-at-best crap of the first couple dozen issues.
Wolverine #1, by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. It starts with a badly injured Wolverine telling a frightened kid to get under some skeletons and pretend to be dead. The kid’s dad walks over with an advanced gun and checks Wolverine over. Then shoots him again. The cops call to negotiate with the crazy guy, and he shoots another hostage. There’s a whole lot of skeletons laying around – apparently, he’s killed a lot of people. Only two hostages are left. And he’s about to kill his son, too. Wolverine attacks, and manages to kill the guy. The cops bust in, and Wolverine talks to a lady cop who he’s almost certainly going to sleep with, if he hasn’t yet, because Wolverine sleeps with every woman he exchanges more than two words with. Also, looks like the kid is possessed by whatever possessed his father. Quite the mystery to start things off. Cornell does a good job writing Wolverine. And Davis draws in his own style. I’ve decided Davis’s style isn’t quite my cup of tea, but no question he’s a great artist. This should be an interesting series, though less fun than Savage Wolverine.
That’s the X-titles. Now some Now! stuff.
First, Fearless Defenders #2, by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. First, I love that cover by Mark Brooks. That’s cute. Anyway, some goons in San Francisco bust into the New Mutants’s home – nice to know they’re still trying to make things work out there, rather than running back to Westchester. Anyway, the thugs figure Dani’ll be an easy target, since she has no powers. A bunch of arrows to the face prove that Dani still knows how to kick serious ass. She does end up getting taken down, sadly. Over in Broxton, Val, Misty and Anna are discussing the situation. Cut to Dani waking up a prisoner of Caroline Le Fey. Caroline wants to be a Valkyrie, and that’s why she captured Dani. In Asgardia, Anna asks Val about the kiss, but Val says it was nothing. The three of them go in to talk to the All-Mother. We learn that Val was supposed to assemble a new group of Valkyrior from among the women of Earth, but saw none worthy. (Some of those considered include Black Widow, Storm, Rachel Grey, Wasp, Songbird, Jocasta, Rogue, Black Cat and Tigra.) We also get some backstory on the Doommaidens. Odin’s first Shieldmaidens, who went crazy. He;a shows up, and Val attacks her. It goes as well as expected. Misty does even worse. This issue’s better than the last one, primarily because it feels a lot less fanservice-y. That’s good. In a book like this – with an all-female cast – it’s important to avoid fanservice. You need to make sure it feels like a serious book. Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, of course, because this is a lot of fun. But it has to feel like you’re treating the characters like real women, not as sex objects. The writing accomplishes that. This issue, the art does a better job of that than last issue. Dani even has a positively modest chest size, relatively speaking. There’s no odd poses. There is a flashback panel of Val watching TV and eating popcorn. So there was that. Bit of an odd decision. Anyway, this is an improvement over the first issue, and this is proving to be a series worth reading.
Secret Avengers #2, by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross. An AIM facility is trying to peer into the future to see the end result of humanity. The Supreme Leader decides to see for himself. He gets visions of the Gorgon, a woman seemingly bathing in blood, a guy with what looks like a symbiote on his arm, and a creepy little girl. He makes all his men kill themselves, and blows up the base, before heading to St. Petersburg. In Bagalia, Fury, Jr. is getting Crossfire to open a cell so he can talk to Taskmaster. He wants to hire Taskmaster for a job. In St. Petersburg, the Supreme Leader kills the head scientist of the facility, and talks to the cryogenically frozen Yelena Belova, his new Minister of State for AIM Island. Mentallo is hired as Minister of Public Affairs, Superia is Education, Graviton is Science, Jude the Entropic Man is Health. Back in Bagalia, Crossfire predictably double-crosses Fury, Jr., and holds a gun to his head. Fury, Jr. knocks him out, then opens the cell, but alarms go off. (Side note: When they go outside, Soze’s Lair is seen in the background.) Fury, Jr. is rescued by Coulson, Widow and Hawkeye, but Taskmaster has to be left behind. A bunch of guys are beating him up, but Thorndrake stops it, and takes him for himself. Then knocks him out in an alley. Mockingbird! Hurrah! This is pretty good. Some very interesting stuff going on. The AIM Supreme Leader is an interesting one. I’m interested in seeing where all this goes. Also, Mockingbird! Just, please, Spencer, whatever you do, don’t try to bring up Mockingbird’s relationship with Hawkeye. If you’re going to use Mockingbird, use her as Mockingbird, not as “Hawkeye’s ex.” For my part, I’d avoid having them on the same team at all, and just take Hawkeye off the book. He’s too high-profile for a black ops team anyway.
Fantastic Four #5, by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley. The kids put on a little play about Julius Caesar being captured by pirates. Ben and Johnny enjoy it, but Reed and Sue – sitting on opposite sides of the couch – clearly have some tension. We then learn they’re hovering above Rome, March 15, 44 BCE. In the cockpit, Reed tries to apologize to Susan, asking if she’d rather be furious or help him find a cure for his condition. She says she can be both. Ben and Johnny are getting dressed to take the kids to meet Julius Caesar before his assassination. Caesar quotes some Shakespeare at them. No, really, he actually says it’s Shakespeare – Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2. Back on the ship, Reed explains things to Sue, and talks about how scared he is. She kisses him – there’s a reason their marriage has lasted so long. Caesar leads the other four into the Imperial Archives, and shows them a small spaceship. Then some weird purple mist comes out of him. It came from the future to observe Caesar, and saw him die in battle. It then possessed him, to make things progress as they should. Sue complains about socks always giving out at the same time, and Reed says that if the socks are all bought at the same time, and have similar materials and manufacture . . . which makes Sue ask if she and the others are sick, too. The other four are brought into the arena, to fight Cacus, son of Vulcan, which is some big flame-monster. Things progress from there. This was really cool. I love the premise behind it. Looks like “Caesar” will be showing up in FF, which is really cool. He’s a great concept. I won’t be reviewing this series any more, because it’s not an X-title, but it’s well worth reading.
Alpha: Big Time #2, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Alpha’s a little shocked at the fact that he’s pretty sure he just killed a mugger. The woman he saved doesn’t seemed bothered, but he clearly is. The cops also decline to arrest him. He goes to a coffee shop, and runs into Susan “Soupcan,” the girl who sits near him at lunch. He gets a message from his mom and runs out before he gets his coffee. He never actually looks at the message, though, which turned out to be his mom asking him to pick up cereal. At school the next day, he feels mopey. He runs into Susan again, and complains about how his life sucks and no one understands him. Really? I don’t think teenagers actually still say no one understands them. Maybe they do. I don’t talk to teenagers. I hope they don’t, because, seriously, what a cliched thing to say. She points out how stupid a thing it is to say, and he smiles. Then as he’s flying, there’s an explosion at a factory. One of the firefighters calls him Speedball. He goes in and fights a really weird monster. It sorta reminds me of the soul-sucking monster from the ’90s X-Men cartoon. Anyway, he beats it, then flies to talk to Parker about the mugger. He notices a headline about the mugger surviving. This is pretty good, actually. Alpha actually saying the words “nobody understands me” was silly, of course. And his growing relationship with Susan is a bit cheesy. Also, she’s a cute girl, so why does she sit alone at a loser table at lunch? I mean, from a storytelling perspective, it’s because of course Alpha needs a cute girl who likes him, but it just seems really weird that she’d be an outcast considering how cute she is. But what do I know. Anyway, the fact that Alpha was really torn up when he thought he’d killed that mugger was a really nice touch. It gave him depth. Might make him more responsible in the use of his powers.
And, finally, Age of Ultron #2, by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch. San Francisco seems to be as much of a wasteland as New York, with Ultrons flying around scanning the city. They miss Black Widow, who’s wearing a blanket over her head to cover a nasty burn scar around her right eye. A guy with a gun hassles her, but Moon Knight snipes him. She continues on, and sees some guys blasted down by Ultrons. She meets Moon Knight in a safe house, an old SHIELD facility hidden under a barber’s shop. There’s a nice callback. It was one of Fury’s secret hideouts, Widow thinks he sued it during the Skrull invasion. He had photos of a whole lot of superheroes and villains pinned to his wall. Back in Central Park, Peter is talking about the day the world went to hell. It happened while he was sleeping. He woke up and thought he’d snapped. He got captured while trying to figure out what was going on. He overheard Hammerhead and the Owl talk about selling him to Ultron, which the other find curious. Even Cap lifts his head at that. Looks like it’s time for a plan. Hell yeah. This is good. Very good. It remains a character-driven story. It needs to keep that up, if it’s going to be good. This is what events should be, really – it should be about how the characters deal with the stuff happening to them. If Bendis can keep that the focus, this will go down as his best Avengers event. Though I’m still not entirely sure why I’m reviewing a Marvel event. We do see that Storm and Quicksilver are both still alive, so there’s that. Ah, well.
Also, In Avengers Arena #6, Kid Briton gets killed. Still no word on Darkhawk or Juston. A piece of the Sentinel’s leg is seen sticking out of a small chasm, though.