X-Men comics, March 27 2013
As usual, Marvel doesn’t stagger their releases. So I’ve got 15 comics to get through. Argh. Well, let’s get to it, I guess.
We’ll start with Uncanny X-Force #3, by Sam Humphries and Ron Garney. We start with a flashback to Betsy, 16, modeling in New York, and discovering her psychic powers. Then she wakes up in the present, feeling hurt all over, her arm possibly broken, with Bishop and the little girl gone. Spiral’s arms are tied behind her back. Puck wants to drag Spiral back to the school, but Storm wants to find the girl. Psylocke wants to know what Bishop wants with the girl. We get a flashback of Spiral having her dimensional teleportation from her and stranding her on Earth, where she found Ginny, seeing a gold mine, until Ginny saved her life, though we don’t know how that happened yet. It’s also made explicit that Spiral wasn’t dealing drugs – Ginny was the drug, with her psychic powers giving the kids what they wanted. Psylocke says she can track Ginny telepathically, and Spiral can get them to her. We then get a quick detour of the Fantomexes jumping out of a passenger jet they hijacked, because doing things the normal way is boring. They don’t realize Dark Fantomex was on the top of that same plane. Duh-duh-duh! Anyway, the team teleports to where Psylocke sensed Ginny, and almost gets hit by a subway train. Then they get attacked by crazy Bishop. Storm tries to hit him with lightning, apparently forgetting how his power works. Seriously, lightning is not a good strategy against him. By the way, Spiral can cling to walls. Who knew. While Psylocke distracts Bishop, Spiral grabs Ginny and escapes. Psylocke goes into Bishop’s head, and it’s weird. This continues to be great. This is mostly Psylocke’s book for now, but some of the others do get their moments. Spiral is being humanized to a degree I’ve never seen before, which is a nice touch. The Fantomex subplot is starting to become more interesting. This book’s definitely worth picking up. The art’s really good, too. There’s some exciting action scenes, but unlike too many comics, the women don’t look ridiculous in them. They’re dressed for a fight, which is always a nice touch, and there’s no cheesecake poses. Even their chests are relatively small, for a comic book. It’s a refreshing departure from the norm, and combined with the solid writing, this is one of the better team books. Some have complained that it doesn’t seem to have a point. I’m not sure it needs a point beyond being a damned good book.
Astonishing X-Men #60, story by Marjorie Liu, Greg Pak and David Lapham, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Matteo Buffagni and Renato Arlem. This is Part 2 of X-Termination. Fighting. Lots and lots of fighting. The creatures are feeding on Dazzler’s energy, draining her. Kurt – um, the good one – gets her out of there, and the Wolverines go in. The things have acid around them, and they heal from the cuts. The Wolverines don’t have long. Northstar flies fast enough to put holes through the things’ chests, and then grabs the Wolverines. Karma tries to possess the monsters, but they possess her, and say the organics freed them from the prison the Celestials put them in. Iceman’s had enough, and encases them. The X-Treme and Astonishing teams tell off Prophet’s group for not getting involved, but Prophet says he was gathering intelligence. None of which is actually useful. Then one of the creatures goes through the portal back to 616 Earth. Hercules, Northstar and the Wolverines chase it. Prophet tells the others about the Apocalypse Seed, and how it might be a weapon against the creatures. He asks Summers, AoA Nightcrawler and Iceman to stay behind, while the rest return to 616, with Prophet accompanying them. Deadeye joins him. Sabretooth and his son decide to distract the monster at the portal. This was OK. Liu writes the characters well, even if some of the characters she’s saddled with really suck. Still, this all feels rather meaningless and lackluster. I think because I hated the AoA series, and have never been too enamoured of Astonishing. It’s hard for me to care about this crossover. My suggestion would be to skip it. It’s just not really worth bothering with.
X-Men Legacy #8, by
Simon Spurrier Santi Sardina and Tan Eng Huat Santi Sardina. Santi Sardina did everything this issue. Santi, it turns out, is a high school kid who gets picked on a lot. He was walking home from school, when he comes across Arthur Nagan holding another kid hostage in a tense police stand-off. Santi could’ve been a hero, but froze, and Captain Ultra took down Nagan instead. And was utterly ridiculous. But Santi got the praise, for some reason. David’s telling Ruth about him, and about how he’s using the Psychosphere, the Dream-Plane, to find mutants. They watch more of Santi’s life, and he keeps getting praise for stuff he didn’t do, and doesn’t understand why, until he watches a film in biology class about mutants. He feels like a cheat, and resents the praise he gets. David wants to help him, while also improving the world for mutantkind. And impress Ruth. He wants to nudge Santi into a club, to help him feel like he’s accomplishing something. Ruth suggests art, but David disagrees. Ruth snarks at him, and loses her speech impediment when she does so. David pushes him towards debate club, figuring that he’ll gradually get political power and influence, getting to accomplish real things, and giving mutants a mutant president. Then David and Ruth are attacked in the Dream-Plane. Ruth’s knocked out of the dream, David’s going to die, but the spectre of his father takes over and forces the monster away. This is good. I like the growing romance between David and Ruth. It’s really sweet. And David’s growing as a person. He’s got his plans for saving mutantkind, and he’s got some interesting ideas on how to do it. I like it. This book’s growing on me, I must admit. Not crazy about the art, but whatever. It suits the book, I just don’t personally like looking at it.
Wolverine and the X-Men #27, by Jason Aaron and Ramon Pérez. The teachers at the school are talking about how things are going, and about Wolverine out in the Savage Land. Down in the Savage Land, Wolverine’s in trouble. Flashback to Wolverine talking to Evan, and Evan’s concerns about being Apocalypse. Wolverine decides to tell him about his own father. In the present, Evan and the flying stone girl are fighting cavemen, and she decides she doesn’t like how morose he is, so she pinches his butt. Flashback to the plane, and Wolverine telling her she needs to lighten up and relax, and then assigns her a codename. One used by his favourite X-Man ever. And mine! Her codename is Sprite. Eyeboy, Quentin and Glob are being attacked by robots. The robots are from the 53rd century, work for Roxxon, and want to measure the mutants’ genitals. OK then. Elsewhere, the cowboy Iron Mask and his gang are hunting Shark Girl. Obviously, we then flash back to Wolverine talking to her on the plane about overcoming her feral side. He gives her a file on Weapon X. In the present, she’s about to get killed, but Dog saves her, with the others we’ve seen behind him. They then meet up with Idie. Quire explains the situation to her, and says he doesn’t trust Dog, but already likes him more than he does Wolverine. He also comments that shooting cowboys and aliens with a laser gun has made him feel very American. Dog’s feeling proud of himself for teaching the kids how to fight properly. But then the cowboys, robots and cavemen work together and beat them all. They ask Dog how he brought them there, and Quire questions him, too, to figure out his motivation. Jealousy. This is OK. There’s good character focus. I still don’t particularly care about any of the characters, of course, but whatever. At least Aaron is starting to try treating them as actual people, rather than as just instruments for delivering wacky jokes. This is still among my least favourite X-titles, but it’s improving.
A+X #6. Once again, two stories. The first is by Peter David and Giuseppe Camuncoli, and includes Wolverine and Captain Marvel. Wolverine and Carol are playing poker, possibly with Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, but those two are walking out the door. Carol apparently just asked Wolverine who’d win between Cavemen vs. Astronauts, which she heard on Angel. Wolverine shows how cool he is by never having heard of Angel. They end up arguing about how to win a fight, and whether Carol’s stubborn. And about who would win between caveman and astronaut. Wolverine says caveman, because they spend every day surviving, while astronauts do paper work or float in Zero G. They finally both go all in on the hand, but get attacked before they can settle things. They’re attacked by The End. Carol asks who wins between cavemen and astronauts. The End says astronauts, citing the first Planet of the Apes as proof. Then he joins the card game. I love PAD. So, so much. How many writers could write a story about two people arguing over a stupid question like cavemen vs. astronauts, and then make it a compelling character examination, while also being hilarious? Gillen might be able to do it. Matt Fraction, probably. Not many others, though. This is just utterly ridiculous, and I love it. The second story is by Mike Costa and Stefano Caselli, and includes the Thing and Gambit. Again, it’s a poker game, as the Thing plays stud with some kids from Yancy Street. He gets annoyed when one asks about the “big blind.” One of the kids lets in Gambit as the last player. We get a flashback to the last time they met – Ben grabbed Gambit as he came out of a store he robbed, and they fought. Ben and Gambit keep insulting each other while Gambit wins the game. Then the two step outside. They’re gone for a while. We flash back to their previous meeting. Turns out Gambit was cheating at cards, but he was cheating a cheater. Ben lets him up and asks if he’s ever been to New York. Turns out the two of them just scammed the Yancy Street kids. Awesome. Just a really fun story. It’s less ridiculous than the PAD one, and so not quite as hilarious. And it doesn’t give as much character insight. But it’s still a lot of fun. This issue’s worth picking up, if you don’t need action in your comics. It’s a couple of fun poker stories with no real action. Definitely enjoyable.
Gambit #10, by John Layman and Georges Jeanty. Gambit and Joelle head up to the Northwest Territory, to find a secret base Baron Strucker had, which had the secret to life and death, in order to save her daughter. They find the base, and find their way around it. They find the lab they want, but don’t have the security clearance to get in, and get attacked by some freaks who seem to have been experimented on to create Strucker’s serum. One exciting fight scene later, they get into the lab through the window, and get the serum. Their escape route’s cut off, so he blows a hole in the floor and they drop down onto a snowmobile. Gambit mentioned previously wanting to drive it. Gambit’s disappointed at the lack of an explosion behind him. Back at Fence’s place, Tombstone shows up and says what Joelle was after was the Zero Compound, a chemical weapon. I tend to go back and forth on how much I enjoy this series. This issue was really good. A lot of fun, with some great twists and turns being tossed in. Gambit’s characterization is solid, and the art works. This was a very good one.
Uncanny Avengers #5, by Rick Remender and Olivier Coipel. With Sunfire on the team, we now have two minority characters, out of 9 team members, on the team dedicated to promoting tolerance for an oppressed minority. Progress, I guess? Pestileence gives birth to twins, Uriel and Eimin. Kang steals them. Wasp and Wonder Man are heading to Avengers Mansion, talking about bankrolling the team, and about helping with PR. Wonder Man also mentions being done with hitting people. As soon as they enter, Wasp is angry at Rogue taking down a painting of the original Avengers to hang one of Xavier. Havok steps in to suggest Rogue move it to another wall to “peacefully cohabitate with the other paintings.” Rogue tells him to let her know if he needs suggestions on where to stick it. Cap is working out and listening to a news report about more dead mutants and an Honest John video, and Wanda goes to talk to him about her objections to Havok’s leadership. Steve points out that she can’t be the face of mutant leadership. In Japan, Sunfire is a drunken mess, and Wolverine shows up to offer him work. The team is having a meeting, and Steve brings up the idea of Rogue and Wanda sitting out a press conference, based on their membership in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Havok says no, and that he wants the team to be completely transparent. At the press conference, Alex says that he doesn’t want to be called a mutant, that he finds the term divisive. They’re then attacked by the Grim Reaper, who tries to kill Wanda. She’s saved by Simon, and Alex lets out his Avengers Assemble. The Reaper kicks their asses, and tells Simon that the two of them shouldn’t be alive, and that he has to kill Wanda so they can die. The weird thing about the fight is that Thor does not a damned thing. He’s at the conference, but as soon as the Reaper showed up, Thor just seems to disappear. We don’t even see him getting hit by an energy blast or something. One would think he could do something. But nope, Remender seems to have just totally forgotten Thor was even there. Most of the writing’s pretty good. Rogue’s snark is great. Alex’s attempt to keep everything together is good
and his speech is pretty cool. (Edit: The more I thought about it, the more his speech bothered me. It came across as the sort of thing a straight white man thinks minorities should want, rather than what an actual civil rights activist would say. It highlights a big problem with this book – that Remender doesn’t actually seem all that interested in writing about civil rights struggles, even though the book is about civil right struggles.) I’m looking forward to seeing more from the Wasp. Is it strange, though, that I’m disappointed she still has her costume from before her apparent death? I was almost hoping she’d have a new one. Don’t get me wrong, I like her current costume. I think it looks really good. It just feels wrong for her to not have a new one, since constantly changing her costume was a bit of a thing. Oh well. This book is getting better. It seems to be settling into a groove. If they can avoid any more delays, then it should be worth reading.
Deadpool Killustrated #3, by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli. Deadpool kills Scrooge. Then we cut to what seems to be Frankenstein, but a terribly misunderstood version of it, based more on the movies than the actual book. Regardless, the monster has a chunk of Deadpool’s brain matter, making him a fitting ally in his quest to kill the classics. The Monster snaps Frankenstein’s/the Jackal’s neck. Meanwhile, Holmes and his team are tracking Deadpool. The Island of Dr. Moreau, Lilliput, Rome. Deadpool and the Monster are in the Jungle Book. Mowgli and Bagheera turn into Ka-Zar and Zabu, before Shere Khan takes out Mowgli. Captains Nemo and Ahab are on the Nautilus, where they come across the Little Mermaid, who’s found the wreckage of the Hispaniola. They bring on a couple of survivors. Deadpool and the monster. Nemo temporarily becomes Magneto. The Little Mermaid turns into Namor before getting blown up with a torpedo Nemo’s strapped to. Then it’s off to Greece, and Scylla and Charybdis. This series continues to be fun. Deadpool is much more amusing here than in his main book, and the art’s much more pleasant to look at. Bunn screw up a bit by having Frankenstein call for Igor. Oh well. This is still a fun read.
That gets me through the X-titles. All 8 of those. Now for the 7 Now! titles.
First, Young Avengers #3, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Volstagg asks if Heimdall sees something. Heimdall sees Loki, Wiccan and Hulkling fighting a giant. Volstagg wishes he were young again. The fight is well-drawn. The panels are scattered around, giving it a chaotic feel. Really cool. Before Laufey can kill them, Miss America shows up. And utterly destroys him. She asks about who she just beat up, and Billy starts talking about myth until she stops him. Billy’s also pretty sure Laufey’s return has to do with him. Then a couple women show up to take Miss America home. Miss America lets Loki teleport the four of them away. They wind up at MJ’s, in New York. Nice. They’re shown to a booth, and while Loki tricks the bouncers into thinking they’re all 21, Billy gets a text from Kate about Skrulls and cute boys. They all discuss the situation. Loki says neither he nor Billy can undo Billy’s spell alone, but that if Billy loans him his power, he could do it. Everyone is understandably sceptical, but Loki declares himself Tyrion. Then their parents show up. Loki passes out trying to cast another teleportation spell, so Teddy and Miss America kick some ass. I love this book. I love it so much. This is one of my favourite books. It’s clever and fun, but with a very dark undertone. The art is great, and the fights are choreographed in an awesome way. The story’s getting more messed up all the time. We now have Miss America in the book, and I love her. She’s mysterious, without really being showy about it. I love her attitude. Before I stop, I want to mention a letter that shows up. Some guy was talking about how heroes are role models, and complaining about Kate and Noh waking up from a one-night stand in the first issue. This is a stupid complaint. Kieron rightly says that in a book about being late-teenage, he’s going to write about being late-teenage, and that includes sex. Looks like next issue will bring back Kate and Noh. Awesome. You should be reading this book. If you’re not, you’re just wrong, because it’s awesome and magical and just so, so good.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven. It starts with Peter Quill in a bar hitting on a Kree woman. Peter’s dad comes in, and asks him to stay away from Earth for a bit. A Council of Galactic Empires – the splash includes the Supreme Intelligence, a Brood Queen, Gladiator, Quill’s dad, some weird bug-like thing, and a couple others in shadow – got together and decided Earth is off-limits from extraterrestrial interaction, in order to give it a chance to grow on its own until it’s ready to join the galactic community. Quill’s dad tells Peter to stay away from Earth, and asks him to take his place as the Prince of the Spartax Empire. It should be noted that Bendis makes a repeated error in regards to where Peter gets his Star-Lord title from. It has nothing to do with Spartax, but actually comes from the Master of the Sun. You can read all about it on Quill’s wiki page. A letter raises the same concerns, and Steve Wacker says that they’re streamlining his origin while trying to stay true to the spirit. (He also may have given a hint about a future Nova plot point, when someone asked why Richard Rider didn’t come back.) Anyway, Quill argues with his father until Gamora beats up the king’s guards, and then Quill leaves with her. We cut to Iron Man flying out in space, where he’s attacked by a Badoon ship. The Guardians of the Galaxy show up to help. They kick some ass – Rocket’s guns just seem to get bigger all the time – until the Badoon blow up their own ship. Anyway, it’s a good issue. Introduces who Peter is today, and sets up the conflict of the series. We also get a little bit of the other members of the team. I suspect this first arc will be mostly focused on Peter, but hopefully the others get chances to shine after that, too. The art is gorgeous, of course. And there’s plenty of humour to be had, which is appreciated.
Journey Into Mystery #650, by Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti. With the first arc over, I’ll stop reviewing it here, but you should keep reading it. Heimdall’s head hits a car passing past Asgardia. Luckily, it was full of sand. It wasn’t Heimdall after all. Sif knew it wasn’t him. She says they should keep looking for the real Heimdall, who’s a full head taller than the man of sand. Sif introduces him to her men, and they go off looking for food. Pizza is delivered. She goes off to talk to Aerndis, who’s in bad shape. She opened Bifrost to Sif, letting the Berserkers home, and it took its toll. Aerndis also tells Sif that she never gave Sif anything but permission, a chance to vent her frustration. Heimdall comes to tell Sif that Svin is in Broxton. She goes to deal with it. Turns out he’s crazy. And he thinks she’s just as crazy. And she comes to a realization about the feelings that made her seek out Aerndis in the first place. This issue lacks most of the fun of the previous issues, but replaces it with more depth, so it works very well. It’s a great issue. Sif’s a great character, and her anger and frustration are done well. The art’s also really good. The whole thing works well. And I’m looking forward to seeing how the next arc goes, now that Sif has come to terms with herself.
FF #5, by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred. This is another one I’m going to stop reviewing, but which you should keep reading. Medusa introduces her son, Ahura, to the kids. Then she delivers a weird speech about a terrigen flower. Scott is a bit freaked about Alex Power leaving, but Darla tells him not to worry. She is worried, however, about John Storm being missing. He’s in the Bowery, presumably the same place where he found Namor, though it’s now an upscale boutique of some sort – I honestly have no idea what it’s supposed to be – but he really seems to be crazy and doesn’t know what’s going on around him. There’s also an easter egg of the cover to Fantastic Four #4, the return of Namor. Luna looks into Medusa, and says she looks unwell. Medusa gets annoyed and tells her not to look into her. Then offers her a cookie. Darla’s trying to find a helmet to go with her costume, and goes through a whole bunch of weird ones (all of them shout-outs of one sort or another) until Dragon Man gives her a clear helmet. The alarm goes off, as John is apparently trying to burn down the city. Medusa urges compassion as they head off to stop him. Vil and Wu, the fish-kids, help by summoning a monster in the East River to create a big enough splash of water to douse John. This is great. Very fun, but also very good characterization. This issue has a lot of shout-outs, too, which is fun. Fraction and Allred are also building more and more mysteries and plots. It’s very interesting. And hilarious. And Allred’s art is great.
Morbius: The Living Vampire #3, by Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson. Morbius is thinking that biting Noah’s throat might not have been such a great idea. While the rest of the gang tries to kill him, he says he could save Noah if they stop attacking him. Becky takes Henry, while Morbius gets shot in the throat by Noah’s woman, Rochelle. At her theatre, Becky is talking to Henry, and Henry points out things were fine until Morbius hurt Noah. She admits that Morbius might not be the good guy she thought he was. Back at the warehouse, Morbius wakes up, hanging upside down with chains. Rochelle asks how he can help Henry. He explains he’s a doctor, an expert on blood. She lets him down to save Noah, threatening to kill him if Noah dies. The medic they have used to be in the Army reserves but lost his arm in a car accident before he could even see combat, and his only training is a first aid certificate from a community centre. Morbius is pretty sure Noah’s going to die. Becky takes Henry to a diner, and one of Rochelle’s men watches them, ready to kill them if Noah dies. Great book. Morbius is a really compelling character. He’s so messed up, and Keatinge writes him very, very well. Rochelle comes across as oddly human and sympathetic. You can understand where she’s coming from, even as you hate some of her actions. Good art, too.
And I’ll finish with Age of Ultron #3, by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch. Luke and She-Hulk are out in the city, and Luke punches her. Really, really hard. A couple times. Then throws her over his shoulder. We cut back an hour, to everyone trying to figure out why Ultron is making trade with low-level thugs for superheroes. Stark thinks it’s because Ultron was programmed to have illogical desires, like revenge, torture and hate. Hawkeye is angry at Pym for inventing Ultron, but Stark says it wasn’t his fault. Cap ends the fight by saying they’re going to sell Ultron one of them. She-Hulk volunteers to be sold, and Luke volunteers to sell her. Cap decides everyone else will head to the Savage Land. Luke finds some Ultrons, and says he wants to trade. Then we go to Chicago, where Panther, Red Hulk and Taskmaster are gathered. Red Hulk smashes an Ultron and rips off its head, but more Ultrons beat him back to Panther and Taskmaster. He tosses the pair the head, and holds off the Ultrons. The building shakes, and Panther breaks his neck on a fall. Taskmaster heads off with the head. Back in New York, Luke gets into Ultron’s lair. That’s when we get hit with a surprise. This is still good. He loses the character focus a touch here, but it’s not a big deal. Hitch continues to fill the book with big images, beautifully drawn. The last-page twist is a huge surprise, very unexpected. Good event so far.