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X-Men comics (September 25, 2013)

September 25, 2013


We start, reluctantly, with Wolverine and the X-Men #36, by Jason Aaron and Giuseppe Camuncoli. The Scotts have woken up from their telepathic assault, with Adult Scott telling Teen Scott what’s going on and what to do. Adult Scott recognizes Xorn as being Jean, and speculates that it’s Teen Jean grown up. “Old Young-Jean,” as he puts it. Then everyone else present comes out of their psychic catatonia, and it’s time to get ready for a fight. Wolverine and Adult Scott argue about the “kids,” until Teen Scott gets fed up with being called a kid and shoots Wolverine. Scott shooting Wolverine is always satisfying. The confrontation is very tense, and keeps getting tenser. Meanwhile, Xorn-Jean is still in a mental battle with Teen Jean, Emma and the Cuckoos. And seems to be winning. I like Emma’s line: “Why won’t you ever stay dead?!” Xorn-Jean beats Emma and the Cuckoos, and is ready to kill Teen Jean if she has to. More arguing, and finally, the Scotts decide enough is enough and just start blasting people, while Teen Jean actually starts to turn the psychic fight around. Meanwhile, back at the school, Teen Beast has some nagging suspicions that the future X-Men aren’t what they seem, and Magik shows up to confirm it, and take him and Teen Iceman into the future. Which isn’t what ‘s expected. And the fight in the past finally comes to an end, too. This was good. Some solid character stuff. My problem with WatXM has always been that it’s too silly, with too mcuh of a kids cartoon sensibility. Here, Aaron can’t do that. He has to match the tone of the rest of the X-over, set by Bendis. And when Aaron does more serious work, he’s a damned fine writer. So this is some really cool, interesting stuff, with great character work. This issue probably could’ve done with just a little more action, a little less talking. In terms of art, well, Camuncoli just didn’t do it for me. His style is somewhat similar to Bachalo’s, though not quite as stylized. It does work very well for the psychic battle, I’ll say that. Gives it a bit of an otherworldly feel to it.

Gambit #17, by James Asmus and Clay Mann. Gambit is surrounded by supervillains, with Mr. Cich offering to reward anyone who tries to kill him. He gets his ass kicked, and is about to be killed, when he says, “All in.” Peter Wisdom, Excalibur, Black Knight, and a couple other MI:13 soldiers teleport in. A few villains try to run away . . . right into the Uncanny Avengers.  As Gambit and Rogue quip, Cich shoots Gambit in the head. Luckily, Faiza heals him. He spits the bullet back at Cich, and it causes a bit more of an explosion than he expected. Faiza admits she’s not sure she put him back together right. He declines Rogue’s offer to join the Avengers, then heads back to the Thieves Guild to talk about his trial. He says he has no interest in just following some rulebook, and starts to leave, and goes back to the school. This was an OK finale. The series as a whole never fully gelled for me. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a big Gambit fan. He’s OK, just not one of my favourites. This series also suffered just from having to deal with his accent. It’s OK in small doses, but this was not small doses, and it got tiring very quickly. Mann’s art was good. Very sexy art. It’s just the writing that wasn’t quite up to par.

A+X #12, as usual, is two stories. First is Wonder Man and Beast, by Christos Gage and David Williams. Beast is visiting the Avengers Mansion to sync up the computers with the X-Mansion’s, and runs into Wonder Man. They go out for a sandwich, and ask what happened to each other. Beast brings up Wonder Man attacking the Avengers to prove violence isn’t the answer, and Wonder Man mentions bringing the original X-Men forward in time. Then after some drinks, they go out on the town. Beast fights the Circus of Crime, tries to last 3 rounds in the ring with Pink Pearl, and the two cut off half of Wolverine’s hair. Then they run into Absorbing Man, and after Wonder Man asks if he wants to talk about his problems, the three go out for drinks and karaoke. It’s a nice, fun story, about two characters who used to have fun quite a bit, and haven’t hung out together in way too long. There’s some nice shout-outs to their days together in the Avengers. It’s a cute story. Really, really good. And kinda perfect for Gage, actually. Wonder Man’s all about peaceful resolution these days, and that’s what Gage loves to do in his stories. The second story is Captain America and Jubilee, by Justin Jordan and Angel Unzueta. Jubilee and Captain America meet at the Louisiana Gulf Coast, which looks like a swamp. They go diving, with rebreathers – Jubilee’s is only so they can talk to each other. They’re looking for a German U-boat from WW2. As they dive, she asks how he dealt with all the people he knew growing old and dying. They find the boat, which happens to have some Nazi vampires. Which means Cap and Jubes kill Nazi vampires. Yes. Oh, on a side note, I like how Unzueta draws Jubilee with small breasts. That’s how she should be drawn. Artists have occasionally tried to make her well-endowed, but she’s not supposed to be. The fact that she had a small chest was always a part of who she was. It fed into her characterization. Anyway, the fight against the Nazi vampires is obviously a lot of fun, because they’re Nazi vampires. Guys. Guys. Nazi vampires, guys. How can that ever not be awesome? It can’t. It will always be awesome. Anyway, Cap finally gets tired of the fight and kills all the remaining Nazi vampires with a shield throw. He tells Jubilee he brought her along as an example to them of what they could be. They make a fun team, which is no surprise, because Jubilee’s always fun. Put her with anyone, and it’s going to be a fun time. Unzueta clearly had a lot of fun drawing this story. The Nazi vampires were creepy, Jubilee was sexy (even with itty-bitties!), and even Cap was cool. Jordan, likewise, clearly had fun writing. This is my first exposure to Jordan. He’s good. I wouldn’t mind seeing him do more work for Marvel. DC seems to be keeping a hold of him for now, though. Anyway, this was another really good issue of A+X.

Uncanny Avengers #12, by Rick Remender and Salvador Larroca. We start in the future, with a young Uriel and Eimin in one of the Red Skull’s mutant internment camps. They’re trying to make an escape, but they’re caught by Ahab and his hounds, including Rachel, and one that looks a lot like Alex. Ahab forces Uriel to take Eimin’s eyes. Wanda goes to see Wonder Man, and tells Grim Reaper to release him. She tells Wonder Man what the Twins told her. Then we cut to an Akkaba City, where a couple of guys are talking about all the women the Twins killed. Wasp takes them out. Then she, Cap and Havok start making their way into the place, with a moment of flirting between Havok and Wasp. Bleh. Dammit, Remender, don’t try to write romantic stuff, you can’t do it. Don’t even try. Banshee shows up to stop them. Then back to Wonder Man and Wanda, and Wanda actually gets to show her sense of guilt for what she did to mutants. Finally. M-Day is something that should be a major part of who she is at this point. I haven’t felt like Remender has touched on it enough so far. I’m glad he’s doing more with it now. This is probably the best issue of the series so far. Oddly, it may also be the least dark. The attempt to infiltrate the Akkaba city has a few moments of actual, genuine humour, even if the flirtation between Havok and Wasp made me roll my eyes. Wanda’s conflict over M-Day finally comes to the surface, and is handled reasonably well. We don’t see the internal conflicts among the team. The tie-in to Days of Future Past was kinda nice. In terms of the art, Larroca does some weird faces, and I would’ve liked the colours to be just a little bit lighter. But it’s good.

Deadpool #17, written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, art by Declan Shalvey. I still don’t like Shalvey’s art. I just find it unpleasant to look at. Anyway, Captain America and Wolverine wake up, and Deadpool explains what’s going on. They all agree to bust up the camp and free the prisoners. They free the other North Korean X-Men and make their move. They begin the attack. The North Korean Colossus and and NK Wolverine try a Fastball Special. It doesn’t work. A couple guards inject themselves with something that makes them look like a pair of Rockslides, and one kills the NK Sunfire. The two almost kill NK Thunderbird, but they’re stopped by Cap, Wolverine and Deadpool. One of the Rockslides is killed, the other tells them what they want to know. Deadpool can’t find Butler in the camp, and he starts angsting about himself. As with UA, this is the best issue of Deadpool so far. He makes a few jokes that are actually kinda clever, and he also shows some genuine introspection. The problem is that it looks like Posehn and Duggan may actually take him too far to the serious side. He needs a balance. Too far one way or the other, and you lose what makes him work. Most writers take him too far to the silly side. This series has done the same, until now. It’d be a shame if they take him too far to the serious side now. I’d much rather they find the middle ground Deadpool thrives in. But they also need to get a different artist. They need someone a little more conventional than Shalvey. A little less cartoonish and gruesome. Pretty much any other artist would work better with any change in tone.

There’s the X-titles. Now for Infinity and other stuff.

Avengers Assemble #19, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Jen Van Meter, art by Barry Kitson. Spider-Woman finds out that Carol and Clint didn’t make it back, and are presumed dead. She takes it less than well. She says they need to go find them, stomping her foot. And that’s when the Builders attack. The four Avengers – Nat, Jess, Shang, Eden – help with evac, then go talk to Cap to be told their job in the counter-attack. Cap allows the four to infiltrate the Builder command ship to find their captured allies. The assault, of course, goes well, as we know from last week’s issue of Captain Marvel. We also get the scene between Carol and Jess again. It’s as nice as it was last time. And when Carol has Starbrand blow up the command ship, Jess realizes the Carol she loves is still there. Aww. This is an OK issue. As with last week’s Captain Marvel, the pacing feels a bit off. Too rushed, at times. On the plus side, DeConnick and Van Meter don’t have to worry about including any of Hickman’s scenes, which helps. There’s some very nice characterization for Spider-Woman, and Black Widow gets some good moments, too. And the art’s good. Simple, but good.

Infinity: Heist #1, by Frank Tieri and Al Barrionuevo. Blizzard and Whirlwind are watching Avengers Tower, and watching as the Avengers leave (and also making jokes about Cannonball being an Avenger). Once the Avengers are gone, the pair attack the Wakandan National Bank, which is supposed to have lots of gold and diamonds. They kill the guards and get into the vault, which is empty, except for Spymaster reading a newspaper. He stole the gold and diamonds a while ago, but he has a job offer for the pair. Out of costume, the two go to the Black Market, a club for supercriminals. Constrictor insults them for a bit, Whirlwind insults him back, asking if he teaches a class on how not to bawl after being beaten by Jubilee. Silly Whirlwind, Jubilee’s awesome. No shame in losing to her. Whirlwind also has a tense meeting with the female Firebrand from Matt Fraction’s Iron Man run. The whole bar scene is a lot of fun, but finally, the three are allowed to meet with Spymaster, along with the new Whiplash, and the insane Unicorn, who drinks through a hole in his forehead. Spymaster explains his plan to rip off Tony Stark. This is good. Villain protagonist stories can be a lot of fun, as we get to see what they’re like beneath the costumes. Blizzard and Whirlwind come across as a couple of douchebros, and it’s neat. They’re also effective in a fight, though. The art is good. It’s a clear style, naturalistic. Very nice.

Nova #8, by Zeb Wells and Paco Medina. Thanos’ fleet is in lunar orbit, and Glaive points out that there’s a Nova on Earth. He explains who the new Nova is, and Thanos decides to send Proxima Midnight’s daughter, Kaldera. Thanos says that Rider is “long since dealt with” – that’s not good. Speedball and Justice, in civilian clothes are watching Nova help repair the skate park. The girl he likes – her name escapes me – calls him Sam, which freaks him out and makes him run away. He takes off his helmet. Mid-flight. Because he is a complete idiot. He gets it back on but lands in the skate park, wrecking it again. Back to Thanos’ ship, where Proxima wakes Kaldera, who’s inside a weird alien goat or something. She slices her way out. Kaldera looks like a young girl. Kinda pretty, actually. Oddly, she has white skin, despite Proxima having blue skin. Anyway, Proxima gives Caldera a box containing Nova’s glove and helmet. Sam wakes up in the back of a truck with Robbie and Vance watching him. Robbie tries to convince Sam to join their new team, but Sam refuses. Vance mentions knowing about Novas, and that gets Sam’s attention. Lots of fun stuff here. Kaldera’s a bit cliched, sadly. But I suppose she’s a fitting opponent for Nova. Robbie and Vance are a little better. I’m interested in seeing where that goes. Also sadly, it looks like Richard Rider’s dead. But we’ll see, I guess. Medina’s art is excellent, of course. The guy’s a fantastic artist, and he continues to deliver here. Crisp, clean, realistic with just the right amount of cartoonishness to keep it from being Uncanny Valley.

Avengers #20, by Jonathan Hickman and Leinel Francis Yu. As usual, we get four pages before we can actually get to the damned story. Anyway. We start with the rescue of the captured Avengers, again. This makes the fourth time we’ve seen this. You did not need to include that in this issue, Hickman. The whole point seemed to be for Abyss to tell Ex Nihilo that the Ex Nihila on the Builders ship said to find them. Then more War Council stuff. They discuss some attack options, but Captain America suggest trying to talk to the Builders. Abyss and Ex Nihilo travel to a frozen, barren planet, and find all the Ex Nihilos gathered there. They ask how Abyss still lives. All the other Nihilos lost their Abyssi a long time ago. Turns out the Nihilos were all banned from creating new gardens, and the Abyssi died around that time. Ex Nihilo kept making gardens, so his Abyss lived. Ex Nihilo decides it’s time things changed. More blah. I continue to not care about any of this, because Hickman continues to give me no reason to care. There’s all sorts of big cosmic Stuff going on, but no personal investment. At least the art is usually good.

And finally, Trial of the Punisher #1, by Marc Guggenheim and Leinel Francis Yu. The Punisher walks into a police station and confesses to killing a DA. He’s even got the DA in a bag over his shoulder. He’s wrestled to the ground and put in an interrogation room. He doesn’t think much of the cop sent in to interrogate him. The cop wants to know why Frank did it. Now we get a flashback. He was at an Italian restaurant, shooting up some criminal, and the DA was caught in the crossfire. In the present, another Mob boss comes in with a couple thugs. They beat on Punisher for a while, until he gets tired of it and easily kicks their asses. The next day, the woman serving as his public defender arrives to talk to him. She suggests an insanity plea. The plea is entered, and soon, the prosecution’s expert sits down with Frank. And is terrified by the end of it. The trial continues, with his defender doing her job, even though she thinks he’s planning something. On a side note, this comic does have a continuity error. It mentions he’s never seen the inside of a courtroom before. He did. It was an issue of Spider-Man, I think in the early ’80s. Where his attorney entered an insanity plea that the Punisher himself disputed. I don’t know for sure if that was the only time, as I’ve never been a Punisher fan. But he’s definitely been inside at least one courtroom before.


From → 2013

  1. Hamburger Time permalink

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate here vis a vis WATXM (which I find completely and utterly average by-the-by), but is writing for kids really a bad thing? I know plenty of people think comics should be trying to reclaim the kid demographic rather than appeal to the “40-year-old basement dweller” fanboy stereotype, so if that’s what Aaron’s trying to do, who’s to say he’s wrong?

    • My larger problem is that he’s not writing for kids. He’s writing for a teen-and-older audience. It’s that it has the sensibilities of writing for kids. Idie in a Hellfire outfit is not for kids. Broo being shot in the head is not for kids. There’s all sorts of stuff that’s not for kids. But the general style is one that’s more appropriate for kids. Silly humour, shallow characterization, and a bunch of other things.

  2. What? An issue of Deadpool that isn’t terrible?

    And it’s nice to see I’m not missing much by dropping Hickman’s Avengers. It’s a real shame too – his Fantastic Four series was so good (among the best runs on the title’s history even), yet there’s no characterization in his Avengers series. A big Avengers team can work, but you should focus on at least one or two characters in every issue to give it a personal feel. Reading your summaries of Infinity seems to be enough to understand the bulk of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s actually good tie-ins.

  3. Hamburger Time permalink

    I’m starting to think Marvel may read your blog for advice. In the space of a week we have Remender ratcheting back the darkness, Posehn and Duggen ratcheting back the silliness, and an announcement of a book implied to focus on the Marvel legal system, all of which you’ve said you wanted at some point or other.

    • I’ll believe they read my blog when they do a Generation X reunion. Come on, Marvel! How often do I have to ask for that? I’ll make you a deal: I’ve said before that a new Cloak & Dagger series with pencils by Emma Rios would prompt me to write my first-ever fan letter. I’ll extend that to a Generation X reunion drawn by Emma Rios, as well.

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