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X-Men comics (November 13, 2013)

November 13, 2013

Let’s go.

First, All-New X-Men #18, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. Kitty and the O5 arrive at the New Xavier School. Kitty congratulates Scott on using an old Weapon X facility as a base. They’re shown to their rooms by the other students. Jean has an argument with Celeste. Jean calls Celeste an “Emma Frost test tube baby fail.” Phoebe says it’s a solid burn, and also thinks she’d make a good redhead. It’s almost like Irma and Phoebe have decided to do their best to piss Celeste off. I love it. Beast is tinkering with the communication system, which Magneto put together. Hank thinks it’s cute. Another fun scene. Then we get a fight between Jean and Hank about Hank not running off with Jean, and Jean running off with Scott. Then Kitty and Illyana have a really, really nice conversation that brings me back to when they were inseparable best friends. Illyana even tries to hug Kitty! Which makes Kitty panic and phase. The whole scene manages to combine heartfelt emotion and drama with goofy comedy, and it might be my favourite scene in this book for that very reason. “You are not a hugger!” Illyana also magics up new uniforms for the team, and I still hate them. I do not like these new costumes. They look hideous. They’re just not well-designed costumes. Also, Bendis has started randomly throwing Yiddish words into Kitty’s speech. Just, like, right out of nowhere. Other than the ugly costumes and random Yiddish, though, this is a great episode. Lots of great character work, some really fun, tense scenes, a couple great burns. Immonen, as always, is a damned fine artist. Just fantastic at what he does. One of the best out there right now, I would argue. There’s a strong focus on romantic complications, too, which I actually kinda like. It’s fun. And seeing Kitty and Illyana together again hits me right in the feels. Right square in the feels.

Marvel Knights X-Men #1, by Brahm Revel. We start by seeing a mutant being hunted, and then Rachel wakes up screaming. The X-Men are able to figure out that she saw something from a small town in West Virginia, and that someone’s been hunting mutant children. Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue head out to investigate (so this takes place before BotA, I guess; they reference keeping mutants out of Scott’s hands, so this is definitely in-continuity). Wolverine starts a fight with some locals, leaving Kitty and Rogue (who’s borrowed some flight powers, it looks like) to look for the mutant. The mutant seems to be a teenaged girl, who steals a big bag of pills and makes a guy use a knife to start shaving himself. The girl then runs away from Kitty. The X-Men find her and take her while trying to assure her she’ll be all right. But the woods they go into to find the next mutant have some dark secrets, it seems. This is really good. Revel’s art is dark and creepy and sinister. His writing and characterization are, good, too. The murder mystery is neat.

Wolverine #11, by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. Wolverine, Kitty and a trio of mall cops are under attack from five of the 13 Ninjas that make up the fingers of Sabretooth’s Hand. We learn their titles and skills, but I won’t go into that here. One of the mall cops is killed, and the ninjas cut Wolverine up a bit before leaving. There’s a tense moment between the cops and Wolverine and Kitty, but Kitty comes up with a plan to get the mall cops out. On the SHIELD Helicarrier, the Host is being pushed to her limits and beyond to take control of the Virus before it can take over the world completely. Back in the mall, it turns out they’re all trapped. Every time they try to go through the doors, they wind up back where they left. A mass hallucination. And then the Hand keep messing with them. Another good issue. The Hand is manipulating Wolverine well. They know every move he’s going to make, and they prepare for it. It’s cool. The Hand ninjas we see are also very neat. It’s a shame we’re not likely to see that much more of them. I wouldn’t mind if we actually got an entire Hand series about them being awesome and dangerous. But that’s not going to happen.

X-Men Gold #1. There’s multiple stories here. The first is by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. It starts with Kitty doing homework with Lockheed wrapped around her shoulders. She also has a sudoku puzzle and a solitaire game open, and she’s trying to figure out why Mariko left Wolverine at the altar. That, along with other references, confirm that this story takes place very, very shortly after the Toyko story where Marika dumped Wolverine. Anyway, they get an emergency alert from China and go to check it out. Giant Sentinel! Fight scene! They manage to take the Sentinel apart, but it’s full of smaller Sentinels. Some of the Sentinels go after the Starjammer in orbit, hoping to use the tech to improve themselves. So now we get multiple fight scenes! Meanwhile, Kitty is escorting civilians to safety. They trust her because she has a dragon. Sound logic to me, Chinese or not. Some Sentinels attack, but Kitty and Lockheed take them out. Kitty comes up with an utterly insane plan to defeat the Sentinels. She crawls into Wolverine’s body. Colossus swings them around while being superheated by Lockheed. Wolverine cuts the Sentinels open, the heat keeps them from repairing, Kitty tears out the internal grid. And then Storm cuts loose. Holy hell, does she ever cut loose. This was a good story. It’s very much a throwback to the golden days of Claremont’s X-Men run. I haven’t been impressed with Claremont’s returns to the X-Men since 1991; the stories just never worked for me. But this one works. This is what he did best. Great action mixed with great character stuff, building on past stories and laying seeds for future stories. It read like it could’ve come from 1984. McLeod’s art did less for me. I’m just not a fan of him. He draws weird faces. The action was thrilling, though, so there’s that. It was an exciting story. I really, really enjoyed it. This book’s worth picking up for this story alone. The second story was (stunningly) scripted by Stan Lee, (perfectly) plotted by Louise Simonson, and (painstakingly) penciled by Walter Simonson. And can I just say how much I miss those fun little lauds that Marvel’s ’60s comics used to do? Those were so great. Marvel should really bring those back. All-New X-Men could be by Big Brian Bendis and Sizzlin’ Stuart Immonen. Come on, Marvel! Please? Anyway, the boys are rushing to the Danger Room because Jean promised to go on a date with the first one to reach it. Iceman, Beast and Angel are all competing to get there first, and clowning around. Cyclops finally puts an end to it with his optic blast, at Xavier’s orders. He thinks about how dangerous his power is, and how he can never let himself get close to Jean. Jean senses his pain and wishes she could ease it, since it would ease her own, too. So soap opera. I love it. This is the ’60s X-Men at their cheesiest, and it’s awesome. I associate Walter’s pencils with his excellent Thor run in the ’80s, so I can’t feel like his art here is ’60s, but he actually doesn’t do a bad job capturing the feel of the ’60s comics. And Stan the Man Lee. You have to love Stan the Man. He has way too much fun for the readers not to join in. The next story is Roy Thomas and Pat Olliffe. Years before either of them joined the X-Men (but after Sunfire’s first run-in with the X-Men) Banshee and Sunfire are both in Memphis. Banshee looks much too young, I think; he looks the same age as Sunfire, and I’m pretty sure he should be quite a bit older. Anyway, they go to the same place, and they get in a fight. Then they both stop when Banshee realizes they’re both there to look at Sun Records. Sunfire, it turns out, is an Elvis fan. Banshee, of course, prefers country. This is a ridiculous story. Just pure silliness. And once again, I love it. It’s delightful. Next up is Len Wein and Jorge Molina, with a story from Giant-Size X-Men #1. While the new recruits are told about the X-Men going missing on Krakoa, Wolverine sizes everyone up. He figures out how he would take everyone down if her ever had to. Slicing Banshee’s throat, poking Cyclops in the eye, just plain beating up Thunderbird, slicing up Colossus, reflecting Sunfire’s flame back at him, track Nightcrawler by his Bamfs. He can’t quite figure out what to do about Storm. Which makes sense – Storm is almost always far and away the most powerful member of the team. It annoys me how often writers just have her throw out lightning. She’s capable of so much more. The lightning looks plenty dramatic, but I’d love to see more books use the more creative aspects of her powers again. Finally, Fabian Nicieza and Salvador Larroca. Xavier and Magneto have created a utopia, apparently. We see a statue honouring the original X-Men – Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Magneto seems unsure of a lot of what’s going on. The two teleport to New York to meet with Hank and Reed. We learnt hat 30 years earlier, Xavier and Magneto averted a nuclear war between the US and the USSR, and showed the world a better way. As Xavier delivers a speech, Magneto collapses. Wolverine rushes to his side, and we see the adamantium coming out of his pores. The crowd starts to freak, and we see Bastion holding a sign saying Onslaught Is Coming. Xavier offers Magneto some last moments of comfort. Then we go back to the real world. Asteroid M. Right after Magneto tore the adamantium out of Wolverine, and Xavier wiped his mind. This is a great story. Nicieza did a lot of fantastic stories back in the ’90s, especially the one-and-done type. I preferred Lobdell, but Nicieza was great, and this story is excellent. Really powerful stuff. A look at what could have been, and the tragedy of what was. Larrocca provides some really nice art to go along with it. It’s a great, sad story. So. All in all, this book is well worth the $6 cost. It’s five great stories. And I have to congratulate Marvel on offering this for only $6. They easily could’ve charged $8, or $10. Or even more. But they went cheap. They really do deserve some credit for that. And everyone who worked on this book also deserves credit, because they all did a fantastic, wonderful job. This was a delightful 50th anniversary special, and it actually kinda makes me sad that there are no other major milestones coming up to give them a good excuse to do more of these. Though I guess if this one sells strongly enough, they may go ahead and make up some excuses to do more fun stuff like this. So buy this book! Come on! Buy it!

Edit: Savage Wolverine #11, by Jock. Wolverine sees a bunch of kids in test tubes. The one he was with gets stabbed in the back by some dude. The kid sprouts claws and slashes the dude, which allows Wolverine to finish him off gruesomely. The kid gets up, his wound healed, then explains that the kids in the tubes are a new batch. The kid gives him a vial that’s supposed to save the kids. Wolverine injects himself with it. It’s poison. The kid injects the poison to kill the tube kids, and says that if need be, he wants the same done to him. More meh. This whole arc felt pointless to me. There was nothing really there. No great action sequences, no deep characterization, nothing that made it stand out. I did not care for it at all.

Deadpool #19, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by the incredibly terrible Declan Shalvey, whose style I hate and want to see gone. Wolverine goes beneath the bunker to destroy all their genetic data, while Cap stays topside. Deadpool talks Butler into letting him into the bunker. They talk. We get some background stuff, while Butler tries to convince Deadpool to work with him again. Deadpool refuses, saying that deep down, he’s a good person. Butler’s sister opens the panic room to let Deadpool in. He snaps Butler’s neck. Then he puts the sister to bed, so she can die when the explosion goes off, and have some peace. And then they blow the place up. I’m hoping this book doesn’t go back to wacky slapstick. I really, really hope it keeps a balance of dark and funny (and some darkly funny).

There’s the X-titles. And there’s no non-X-titles I feel like talking about this week. So I’m done!

From → 2013

  1. I agree, they should totally do some sort of 60’s style X-Men book, at least as a mini-series. Some cheesy yet fun storytelling with clever wordplay and silly, over the top villains. DC’s doing it with Batman ’66, so Marvel should be able to too.

    And if you’re talking about the 90’s, yes Lobdell was better than Nicieza. That said, Lobdell has gone way downhill since. Just look at his current Superman work for proof.

    Is Marvel Knights X-Men supposed to be 616? Because it sounds very good, and I try to stick with 616 for the most part.

    • I’m not necessarily arguing for a ’60s-style book. I just want the cute nicknames to come back.

      I don’t read DC. So I have no idea how Lobdell’s doing over there. But I wouldn’t mind seeing him brought back for some X-Men stories again. Preferably with Jubilee – Lobdell clearly had a lot of love for Jubes.

      Marvel Knights X-Men does seem to be 616. They do reference the split with Scott.

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