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X-Men comics (October 2, 2013)

October 2, 2013

I keep forgetting to pick up Iron Man 3 when I go to the comic shop. Dammit. Oh well, here’s some comics.

First, All-New X-Men #17, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen. We start in the future, with Dazzler being convinced to serve as president by Beast, Rogue and presumably Jean. Dazzler goes out to make a speech. The X-Men and Avengers are gathered on stage behind her (including Maria Hill with an eyepatch – man, SHIELD must have a strict dress code). During Alison’s speech, she gets assassinated. A fireball goes right through her. All the Madroxes on security detail are dead. And a bunch of crazy demon monster things attack. Then we cut ahead a few years later, to when Illyana, Teen Beast and Teen Iceman have shown up at the JGS. We learn the future X-Men in the past aren’t the actual X-Men, and Illyana wants to know what happened. In the future-past, Beast realizes that humanity will never stop hating mutants, and never stop trying to kill them. In the future-future, there’s more talking, with future-Jubilee becoming increasingly angry at the future X-Men nearly spilling secrets to the past X-Men. Side note, she now calls herself Wolverine. This is another great issue. There’s a lot of really fun character stuff going on. The plot is getting increasingly complicated, but it’s not tough to understand. The idea of Dazzler as a politician is actually kinda neat. It makes some sense. It actually kinda makes me want to see it happen. Immonen’s art, obviously, is excellent. Honestly, Immonen’s one of those artists who’s so good, and so obviously good, that little actually needs to be said about him. His art speaks for itself. The guy’s a stellar artist. Battle of the Atom continues to be a great read. Four parts left, and I have no clue what’s going to happen, and I love it.

All-New X-Men Special #1, by Mike Costa and Kris Anka. The four X-Men head into NYC to take a look around. They’re less than pleased. They find it way too crowded and loud and unpleasant. They split up, with Scott and Jean heading for somewhere quiet, and Bobby and Hank heading for the park. Bobby sees a bunch of women doing yoga, and Hank sees a woman reading Anne Sexton. He strikes up a conversation with her, and it turns out she’s also studying time travel. He has to run off to stop a purse-snatcher, and the woman thinks it’s cool that he’s a mutant. She invites him back to ESU to visit her professor, Dr. Jude. Then Dr. Octopus attacks the lab. The X-Men fight him, and then Spider-Man joins in. He’s not happy. Obviously. But Spider-Man meeting the X-Men leads to the best moment of the week. Spider-Man: “Who are all of you? Some kind of mad cloning experiment of Xavier’s he intended to punish the world with after his death?” Beast: “That’s so wrong it’s almost come back around to being right.” He also calls Jean a clone, and when she says she’s not a clone, he says he’s “certain that’s exactly what the first clone said.” I love Spider-Ock. Anyway, they beat Dr. Octopus and take him back to the lab, where Dr. Jude speculates Ock might be from the past, and the X-Men confirm that they’re also from the past. Since he’s got so much gamma radiation coming off him, they can’t do a proper scan. So, this will lead, naturally, into Indestructible Hulk Special, and eventually into the Superior Spider-Man Special. This part’s good. Costa does a good job writing all the characters. Anka makes Hank look a little too fat at times, but makes him look more strong other times. And beyond that, his art is solid. Anka’s really good. I especially like how he draws women. Costa includes plenty of humour in the book, and makes Hank adorkable. He also includes some nice tension between Scott and Jean. And Spider-Ock is great here. Writers seem to have a blast writing him. Arguably even more than the original Spider-Man. I guess there’s just something fun about writing such an arrogant, condescending dick. I did like him dismissing the idea that Dr. Octopus could’ve traveled through time. His scepticism towards time travel is hilarious considering how often it’s happened to the X-Men. The Avengers have had their fair share of time travel shenanigans, too, of course, but the X-Men have had multiple members who were time travelers.

Fantomex MAX #1, by Andrew Hope and Shawn Crystal. Special Agent Rhona Flemyng – who we’re helpfully told “looks great in skintight black Kevlar,” is running up to a secret research facility in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Fantomex is there, being shot at after stealing a gun. EVA rescues him with a shuttle – turns out in this book, she’s just a sentient computer program, rather than having her own body – and Flemyng latches onto the outside of her as she and Fantomex fly off. Flemyng enters the shuttle, and she and Fantomex brawl for a bit until Fantomex gives her a parachute and pushes her out. A few days later, Flemyng is chewed out by her superior, and three more agents are brought in to help bring Fantomex in. Stuart Stirling, Alexandra Macready, and Richard Gaunt. Fantomex feels bad about her treatment, so he gives her very rare orchids. The next day, on a plane, Macready hits on Flemyng. She gives Fantomex’s letter to Stirling, who tells Gaunt to kill all the other agents on the plane. They have their own plans, it seems. This is really fun. It’s very much out-of-continuity, at least so far, but that’s not a big deal. Hope has a lot of fun with the characters, especially Fantomex, who’s exactly as charming and roguish as he should be. Flemyng is actually kinda cool, and the other three agents are pretty scary. Macready hitting on Flemyng was probably a little pandering, but I’m a guy, and I will never complain about lesbians. If you ever see me complaining about lesbians in comics, it’ll probably be safe to assume I’ve been hacked. Ah, and I should probably say something about Crystal’s art. I love it. It’s got a really pulp feel to it that works really well. It makes some of the ultra-violence even more shocking. Oh, yeah, I should mention – this book gets really violent and gory at times. Just a warning. And the pulp feel actually kinda off-sets the gore, even while the gore off-sets the pulpiness. It all works really well. Also, Crystal just does a really good job drawing the characters in general. They all look great. I actually especially like Gaunt. And he also has a lot of fun with some of Eva’s holographic forms. So the art’s great, the characterization’s great, and I’m really intrigued to see where the plot goes from here. This book actually works really, really well.

Savage Wolverine #9, by Jock. Wolverine’s on the outside of a spaceship, and then he falls off, goes through atmospheric entry, and lands on a planet. It couldn’t have been too bad, since he still has clothes on when he gets up. He’s surviving, and he gets attacked by weird flying octopus things. Then the ground starts shaking, and it turns out he’s on the back of a really big gross insect-type monster thing that’s really gross. Some kid is sent out to find Wolverine. This is . . . OK. It’s working a little too hard to be mysterious and stuff. The art is kinda cool – very dark, confusing at times, but cool. Probably not for everyone, and I wouldn’t want to read too much of it. But the writing is just . . . barely there, really. I really can’t recommend bothering with this issue. The next one might be better, since it’ll presumably have some actual plot and character stuff in it. But this felt like an issue-long prologue, and that feels like a waste of time. Comic aren’t so cheap that an issue-long prologue can really be considered acceptable at this point. If there’s no real plot development, and no real character development, then why are we supposed to read it? Why should anyone care?

There’s the X-titles. Now some non-X-stuff.

Mighty Avengers #2, by Al Ewing and the hack-tacular Greg Land. We start with one of Dr. Strange’s old masters trying to snap him out of Black Maw’s spell, and then the Watcher visiting Blue Marvel in his undersea fortress, where he’s working on a portal device. Blue Marvel decides to have his computer check for any situations requiring his aid, and learns about the alien attack on New York. Time to suit up. Then we cut to New York, to see the fight going on. Proxima throws a spear that takes out Monica, then beats the crap out of Luke Cage. Then she gets distracted by an old woman throwing a brick at her. You can tell Proxima’s a villain, because even the ultimate power of a brick is unable to stop her. But she’s distracted long enough for Luke to get back into the fight, and she’s unable to keep him down. Then Thanos tells her her time is up and to go kill Namor. And then things get way worse. This is good. It’s actually not as good as last issue. This one’s all about the fighting, with no real character stuff, aside from the Blue Marvel stuff at the start. Some of the fighting is pretty cool, but on the whole, it felt lacking, given it’s still only the second issue. Ewing didn’t do enough here to continue establishing the characters, again with the exception of Blue Marvel. In terms of the art, all I can say is that everyone should wear masks in any book Land draws. He actually did a good Blue Marvel – I don’t know if he actually drew the character or just found new images to trace, but it looks vastly superior to any face he’s drawn in years. For Proxima Midnight, he was clearly tracing, but most of her face is covered by a mask, so again, it’s less irritating than usual. Monica showed up little, so Land also had little opportunity to trace for her, though there’s one panel where he actually made her look like she was in agony. Basically, this book, for the most part, looks like Land actually drew it. And it looks better than when he constantly traced. He spent all that time tracing, and his work actually looks much better when he doesn’t.

Infinity: The Hunt #2, by Matt Kindt and Steven Sanders. The last issue was bogged down by being just a recitation of names. But now we know the cast. So let’s see how this issue goes. We start at the Latverian School. We meet Demona, the half-demon daughter of Daimon Hellstrom; Pan, a half-human/half-goat with manipulation powers; and Morg, a vampire. They all head to the big meeting, where Baron Blood is talking about the Contest of Champions. Then the school is attacked by Thanos’ forces. Then we cut to the Avengers Academy, also being attacked. She-Hulk and Wolverine pull a Fastball Specal in the background. Quire is providing commentary for the fight while Pym tries to get the kids to safety. The kid Quentin’s talking to gets killed, and Quentin himself gets saved by Finesse and Striker, because they’re awesome. Anyway, the kids are sent to a panic room, and the same is being done at other schools. This is . . . OK. Better than the last issue, certainly. There’s some actual character stuff happening, even if only a little. The fighting is also cool. Especially She-Hulk being incredibly badass. Still, Kindt and Sanders are both pretty weak. There’s not much to recommend this, aside from the appearance of some teen characters. But even then, the only ones who really got to say anything were the three Latverians, and Quire. Maybe it’ll pick up next issue, as the kids actually get into some action. But so far, it’s still not a very good book. Sanders’ art isn’t awful, but it’s also not particularly strong. It’s a very bland style he has.

Thunderbolts #16, by Charles Soule and Jefte Palo. Off the bat: I don’t like Palo’s art. It’s very unpleasant. Anyway, aliens invading, the loser Mobsters tell the Paguros Punisher’s on the way, Red Hulk beats up aliens. Supergiant heads into the sub to steal Leader’s brains. Deadpool kills some aliens grabbing coins out of a fountain. Punisher, Elektra and Venom find the Paguro bunker. Punisher sets up a bunker-buster bomb outside it, but accidentally sets it for 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes. So, you know . . . could’ve gone better. On the sub, Mercy stops Supergiant’s attack on Leader. She even knocks Supergiant out of the sub. Back at the warehouse, we get a great scene of Venom throwing the bomb up to blow up an alien ship, followed by Punisher yelling at him that the bomb was their only way in . . . until the ship crashes right through the warehouse doors. Soule’s writing is good. There’s som very good dark comedy to it. Palo’s art doesn’t suit it – it’s too light, too cartoonish. The book needs an artist that’s a bit darker. Ah, well.

Captain America: Living Legend #1, by Andy Diggle and Adi Granov. We start in World War 2, with some Russian troops getting ready to assault as German base to get some guy. Their captain doesn’t think much of the mission, or their superiors, but Sergeant Volkov is determined to finish the mission. The attack goes poorly because of the Panzer tank the Germans have, but then Captain America shows up with some American troops. He throws his shield hard enough to take the turret off the tank. Which is pretty silly, but sure, I’ll let it pass, because Granov draws the shit out of it. Anyway, the Germans surrender, and the American and Russian troops head into the base, which is a rocket site. The Russians want the rocket scientist. Volkov gets shot by one of the Nazis in the bunker, and seems to die, but then we cut ahead a few years, to 1968, where Volkov is about to get into a rocket to the moon. Then we cut to the modern day, and a space station. The people on board are about to test out something that’ll lead to unlimited clean energy. It goes less than well, and they all die. Later, Sharon tells Cap about the space station being pulled out of orbit, and not breaking up. This is good. Diggle’s writing and characterization are great. But the real draw here is Adi Granov. His art is gorgeous. Just some jaw-dropping stuff. The story is definitely intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing how Volkov ties into the disaster on the space station. I’m also looking forward to more scenes of Cap kicking ass.

Hunger #3, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Leonard Kirk. Mahr-Vehl is thinking about his home, his family, when he gets an alert about a Gah Lak Tus event. In the Bahamas, Silver Surfer and Rick Jones are struggling with the Gah Lak Tus beast. Rick accidentally teleports himself away, but Captain Marvel shows up with a big fricking gun. Rick Jones decides that he can’t fight, so he heads home, and finds out that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, and now he’s dead. On Hala, Ro-Nan is trying to evacuate his people ahead of Gah Lak Tus arriving. Back on Earth, Mary Jane talks to Rick for a bit, then he teleports to Hala to save Captain Marvel and the Surfer. And then Marvel dies saving him. Captain Marvel also mentions that Gah Lak Tus was created by the Kree; I have no idea if that was established before. Anyway, Fialkov and Kirk are still doing a good job. Kirk really draws an amazing Galactus. Just terrifying.

Thor Season One, by Matthew Sturges and Pepe Larraz. You8ng Thor and Loki are sneaking into Jotunheim as part of a bet from Volstagg. They need to steal a weapon. They find a couple young frost giants practicing swordfighting, and Thor asks for one of their swords. Then a fight breaks out. Thor wins the fight, but drops the sword. Luckily, Loki stole the hand Thor chopped off one of the frost giants. Time passes, and Odin appoints Thor as his heir to the throne, and then gives him Mjolnir. Thor is eager to hit something with it. Thor, Loki, Sif and the Warriors Three go on a troll hunt. While Thor and his friends kick some troll ass, the frost giant Farbauti – whose hand was cut off – talks to Loki. Later, Loki disappears, and Thor believes he’s been abducted by frost giants. Odin doesn’t believe it, and neither does Heimdall, but Thor heads to rescue Loki anyway. Though it turns out Loki wasn’t actually kidnapped after all. Odin banishes Thor . . . and he becomes Dr. Blake, working with Dr. Jane Foster. They’re doing an unauthorized medical procedure, a result of Foster tricking Blake. Foster gets fired, and when Blake stands up for her, he goes, too. He decides to open a clinic, and just needs some money. Turns out he has a castle in Norway. They get attacked by stone men, and he grabs a walking stick that transforms him into Thor. And then stuff. It’s really good. I like it. It’s a complete reimagining of his origin, but that’s kinda what I want to see in these Season One books. Some of them are just straight re-tellings, and those ones are lame. This one takes specific elements and plays around with them. So instead of being his nurse, Jane Foster is a doctor, and his partner in his clinic. Instead of dwelling on his early foes, we skip over most of that, and instead get more questioning of whether Donald Blake is real. And, of course, we get Loki’s schemes. Sturges did some interesting things with Loki. With Thor absent, Loki became widely popular in Asgard, accepted by the Warriors Three, and even Sif shows an attraction to him. but all of it was part of his plan. He was still a terrible person. He was manipulating everyone so he could take control of Asgard. He actually gets angry when he learns that a sword Odin was stabbed with is going to kill him – because Loki wanted to torment him for eternity. All the goodness that you think he might have is all an act. He’s still an evil bastard, and it’s great. So, another good book. And Larraz’s art is really nice. Very classic comic style, and it’s pleasing to look at.

Avengers: Endless Wartime, by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone. We start in Slorenia. A mercenary working from some rebels, a woman named Ara, is annoyed at the Americans using drones against her people. She fires a rocket it at one. It’s . . . not a drone. Cut to Avengers Tower, where Jarvis refuses to let Cap pour his own coffee. Cap calls in the Avengers for their weekly meeting, not accepting Hawkeye’s excuse for being late (it involves a woman, being hit by people, and a dumpster). Jarvis greets Carol as Colonel Danvers – protocol. Steve and Carol have a little inter-service rivalry jabbing – it’s actually great to see. As the Avengers gather (Steve, Carol, Clint, Tony, Nat, Logan), Cap watches a news report about the “drone” shot down, and he recognizes it. Flashback to 1944. Cap was on his way to infiltrate a Nazi weapon facility. The other planes with him are attacked, and he jumps out on top of the Nazi super-plane that did it. He takes it out, and the place he was going to sneak into blows up. In the present, Cap recognizes the stuff as being similar to the stuff he fought near the end of the war, as well as the Red Skull’s sleeper weapons. He wants one of the drones. Thor comes in then, and sees an image of the drone, and immediately thinks of Nidhogg, a vile, worm-like monster under Yggdrasil, that gnaws on the roots, looking for a way out. It escaped during WW2, and Thor beat it back by succumbing to the Warrior’s Rage. That was the moment Odin decided Thor needed to be taught humility. It was Thor who blew up the base, in subduing the monster. The drones, he’s sure, are its spawn. Stark sums it up pretty well: “Norse Nazi maggot robots. Of death.” So then this team of Avengers has to go off and fight these things. This is a huge graphic novel, so I’ll end my synopsis here – less than halfway through, for the record. What I will say, though, is that it’s as good as you should expect from Warren Ellis. Which is to say it’s great. It’s full of great characterization. Ellis understands these people. He gets their easy friendship that allows them to insult each other. He gets the military mindset most of them – Iron Man and Hawkeye aside – have. He has Captain Marvel showing off, not just her power, but her piloting knowledge. The story itself is a pretty damning criticism of war, and the fact that it never really ends. There’s also a ton of action, beautifully drawn by McKone. The book can be a bit melodramatic at times, but hey, nothing wrong with a little melodrama sometimes, and Ellis still includes plenty of humour. Iron man and Hawkeye get insulted so often it’s a little amazing. Also, Carol pulling rank on Captain frigging America, even if it was only for a moment, was awesome. With a little luck, Ellis using her here will actually help to boost her profile. That would make me very, very happy. I want Carol’s profile to be boosted. And her playing a fairly major role in a major graphic novel by a major writer could certainly help with that,

And finally, Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4, by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber. The Beetle is chewing out the guys, telling them not to screw up when they go after Silvermane’s head. She was elected leader five minutes earlier, though Speed Demon doesn’t remember it. They get ready to go, and Shocker tries to tell them what happened when “the Punisher” attacked them at the restaurant. Before he can, Luke Cage and Iron Fist bust in. Overdrive tells Luke what a big fan he is, and Luke hits him with a chair. It was creeping him out. Luke and Fist beat up the other three. Boomerang goes to tell Chameleon the situation, with Heroes for Hire beating up his gang. Chameleon gives him 24 hours to get Silvermane’s head. Boomerang heads to a bar, where the female bartender talks about his baseball career, including his getting booted. She doesn’t much like him, especially when he acts like a jackass. They don’t get along at all, and when he insults Philly, she boots him out. It’s a hilarious scene. Completely pointless, but absolutely hilarious. In a prison van, the Sinister Six are moping when Boomerang busts them out. All badass-like. Aw yeah. Shocker tells Boomerang he saw him talking to Chameleon, and Boomerang bullshits some story about wanting to impress them all. This series continues to be ridiculously awesome. I think I’ll stop reviewing it with this issue, but it’s definitely worth reading. It’s funny, but it’s also got heart. It’s a great book. And the art works well. Lieber does expressions well.


From → 2013

  1. The ending of Chapter 6 FLOORED ME. too good.

  2. This has been one of my favourite X crossovers for some time.

  3. The Superior Foes of Spider-Man is truly an enjoyable book. I recommend it to everyone I know.

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