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X-Men comics (January 8, 2014)

January 8, 2014

My first comic post of the new year. By the way, I’m working on some posts of my favourite and least favourite comics of the year. I’ll probably post about it throughout January. But now, for the comics of this week. There’s a couple I’ll add later – Savage Wolverine and Deadpool.

We’ll start with All-New X-Factor #1, by Peter David and Carmine di Giandomenico. We start with something sinister. And then we cut to Gambit trying to steal a statue, until Wolverine stops him. Wolverine chews Gambit out, which annoys Gambit. He tries to fight and drink away his anger, but Polaris finds him and they go out for coffee. She brings him to Serval Industries, and we learn a bit about them. Pietro shows up, too. Right off the bat, PAD makes one absolutely brilliant decision: He doesn’t play up Gambit’s accent. Gambit talks more or less like a normal person. The worst thing about reading any book with Gambit is the phonetic accent. PAD doesn’t bother with that. Gambit winds up being a lot more interesting without it. The premise of the book is very interesting. A corporate superhero team – something we haven’t seen before. And everything about it seems too good to be true. So it’ll be interesting to see where it goes bad. All in all, this promises to be a very good series, which is expected, given it’s Peter David. The art’s good. Not quite my style, but it’s good.

Wolverine #13, by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. Sabretooth just verbally tears Wolverine apart, exposing his fear, his hypocrisy, all the killing he does. It’s vicious, and it’s awesome. Up on the Helicarrier, SHIELD is trying to hold off agents of the virus while the Host tries to stop it. Back to Sabretooth. Once he’s finished tearing down every single part of who Wolverine tries to be, he leaves. Lets Wolverine have his sword back, and teleports away. Then the virus, in its final host, asks Wolverine to let it hide inside him, and in exchange, they’d give him back his healing factor. This issue is pretty impressive. It deconstructs Wolverine. Completely dissects him, and lays out all the crap, clear for anyone to see. Davis kills it with expressions throughout the issue. Sabretooth’s satisfaction, Wolverine’s fear and despair, Kitty knowing that what Sabretooth was saying was true. This is actually a perfect issue to end the volume, even though Cornell will stay on as writer for the next volume. Because this issue ends Wolverine. And it’s an amazing finale. I’ve never liked Wolverine as a character. So seeing him torn apart so thoroughly was especially enjoyable for me.

Fantomex MAX #4, by Andrew Hope and Shawn Crystal. Stirling is killing people, fully expecting to be dead within a day, but wanting to see others die before him. He kills the girl in his group, then when he tries to activate the device, EVA’s already hacked into it, then Agent Flemyng blows his arm off. He’s beaten. But Stirling manages to get back into Fantomex’s brain, and finds an interesting memory. But he doesn’t let Fantomex know what it is. And Fantomex kills him. This was a good series. Lots of fun. I liked it. Cool art, a fun story. Good.

A+X #16. The first story, by Sean Ryan and Gorlan Parlov, has Spider-Man (original flavour) and Psylocke (back in her stupid bathing suit thong days). Psylocke’s also wearing heels, because sure, that’s something a ninja would wear into a combat situation. Of course. Nothing the least bit totally frigging stupid about that. Blarg. A grenade goes off and a huge chunk of shrapnel sticks out of her. Then the other X-Men show up to take care of her. This story is stupid and terrible. It is, without question, the worst story in this entire series. The second story, by Gerry Duggan and David Yardin, continues the Scott and Captain America team-up. While Cap, Scott and Ant-Man fight three of the Skrulls physically, Emma and the Cuckoos fight the last one telepathically. As a result, we learn the truth of what the Skrulls – the Cadre K – were doing. This story’s much better. The twist was incredibly obvious, but it leads to an even better twist at the end, and sets up a pretty exciting finale.

That’s all the X-titles. But there’s a shitload of Now! 2 titles to bring up.

Black Widow #1, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. We start in Berlin, some Russian guy with a gun and a bomb strapped to his chest is saying he doesn’t trust another Russian talking to him through the wall. The person he’s talking to details some of the horrible things she’s done to prove that she’s not a hero. He decides to trust her to get him out of there without giving him to the cops. She hands him over to the cops after letting him know everything she told him was a lie. Later, Natasha’s back in Central Park, talking to her lawyer and manager, who’s got another job for her, in Dubai, which involves punching, shooting, and blowing some dude up real good. This is very good. Black Widow’s extremely competent. The atonement angle that’s been pushed on her so heavily of late – particularly since the Avengers movie – is already tiring, but whatever. Edmondson’s at least taking it in a very interesting direction, keeping her very much a shades-of-grey character. She saves a couple lives, of bad people, but she only saves them because she was getting paid to. She’s doing jobs in order to pay for various trust funds – she doesn’t want to make money for herself, but for other people. But she’s still doing some shady stuff. She’s still the best damn spy in the world, and that means a willingness to hurt people, to use them, even to kill them. So I think this series is going to be really grey like that, which should be interesting. Phil Noto does a great job on art. Widow looks great. It’s not really my style – the line work is maybe a little too obvious – but he does a great job at what he does. If you normally like his style, you’ll love it here. Also, there’s a cat. I want the cat to remain a part of the book. Oh! Oh man. Oh man. I just had the best idea ever. Captain Marvel’s going to be going into space soon. Someone’s going to have to look after Chewie. He can stay with Black Widow! Chewie and Liho can be friends, and Natasha can wonder how the hell she wound up with two cats. Anyway. This promises to be a very good series, definitely worth checking out if you like the character, or if you like ethically ambiguous stories.

Avengers World #1, by written by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer, art by Stefano Caselli. Captain America and Bruce Banner are on their way to meet Maria Hill, as the beginning of a closer relationship between the Avengers and SHIELD. I love Hill. I love her. I think she’s kinda one of my favourite characters. Banner’s awesome, too. Anyway, there’s all sorts of crazy weather and earthquakes on the Eastern seaboard of the US. There’s riots in Madripoor. A town in Italy has had all its residents disappear. The first problem is being caused by AIM Island getting bigger, so Smasher, Cannonball and Sunspot are set to deal with that. All three trouble spots get a lot worse. The premise behind this series is that it’s a more character-focused complement to Hickman’s main Avengers book. Well, there’s less exposition and more dialogue, at least, but this issue, at least, still didn’t have much in the way of in-depth character stuff going on. It’s still balancing a huge cast, so most of what we get remains fairly superficial. It’s possible this series will do more as it goes along. But honestly, I actually kinda think it might be better if it wasn’t so tied into the main Avengers book. Let Spencer pick a half-dozen or so characters from that book, and let him write a book about those half-dozen characters within the framework of the larger team. Instead of making sure that all 16 characters in this book get screen time, make it more intimate. Put the friendship between Smasher, Cannonball and Sunspot as the heart of the book on one side, the reluctant alliance between Cap and Hill on the other side, mix in Starbrand’s continuing growth. Other characters can get some focus here and there as well, of course, but I figure Spencer would be best going with those six as the core of his cast. And maybe that’s what he’ll end up doing. But I worry, especially with Hickman as co-writer, that the large-scale plots will ultimately lead to Hickman having to try to balance 16 or more characters constantly, and you cannot get consistent in-depth characterization with that many characters. Also, a minor complaint for now but one I’m deeply worried about in terms of what it might mean in the future: Why didn’t the Avengers in Italy have an Italian superhero with them? Because what worries me is that the Avengers are going to be running around the world, getting involved in problems in various countries, and not actually letting those other countries take the lead. That feels wrong, to me. It kinda feels like an endorsement of the neo-conservative foreign policy, with the US acting as the world’s police, dominating everyone else. If the Avengers are in Italy, I feel like Italy should be calling the shots on the operation, and an Italian hero should be taking the lead. It’s just something I’ll be watching warily about this book.

Revolutionary War: Alpha, written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, art by Rich Elson. We start with Peter Wisdom and Captain Britain beating up Psycho-Wraiths, old Mys-Tech cannon fodder. With the demons dealt with, SHIELD comes in to help with the investigation. And it turns out Captain Britain’s been working with them for quite a while. And now we learn Mys-Tech is making a comeback. We get some backstory on them, for those who never read any of the ’90s Marvel UK books, you poor, misguided fools who missed out on Death’s Head 2. Though even Pete Wisdom never heard of the Battle of London Bridge, where Mys-Tech was defeated. I was unaware of it, either. Probably because it was never actually shown.  Wisdom and a SHIELD agent go pick up Colonel Liger, who’s become a drunk bum, while Captain Britain pays a visit to Dark Angel. It’s a great story. It’s full of mystery and intrigue, and the writing is good. The art’s also good. It has the feel of a lot of the Marvel UK stuff I read, and I enjoyed that stuff, so I enjoyed this. I’m hoping to see the characters stick around in the normal comics. Dark Angel will apparently be showing up in Iron Man, which is a good start. Now I just have to hope someone will use Death’s Head 2. Maybe bring back his buddy, Tuck; I always liked her.

Inhumanity: The Awakening #2, by Matt Kindt and Paul Davidson. We follow Flynn, the younger brother of Fiona, the Inhuman from last issue. He hates his sister, as little brothers do, but just the same, she’s his sister, so he sets off to beat up the guys who bullied her when she got her wings. Fiona asks the others to help her find him. Pixie teleports them to him, and Finesse tries to talk to him. He attacks her, but while she kicks his ass, she explains to him that things will get better. This issue also continues the online dialogue at the top of the page, as the two people talk more, explore each other’s points of view, and start to like each other. This is kind of a weird issue. It’s not bad, but it’s also not great. Kindt’s writing doesn’t much impress me, and Davidson’s art is distinctly mediocre. However, Finesse is one of my favourite characters – top 10, definitely, maybe tied for 5th with America Chavez – so I’m always glad to see her. Even if Kindt doesn’t fully get her character.

Infinity: Heist #4, by Frank Tieri and . . . well, a lot of artists, but Al Barrionuevo’s name is listed first. Things aren’t good. Atlas plans to kill the gang, while Spymaster just wants paid. Unicorn is freaking out about a helmet on his head, and he manages to bust it out right before they’re all executed. Iron Man also shows up then, which creates enough of a distraction for the criminals to get their gear back on. During the fight, we get a couple pokes at some classic Iron Man armour. Including the one with a nose. Oh, jeez, the nose. Anyway. This is a great finish. The ending – by which I mean the final panel – is a brutal twist. As with the rest of the series, the writing was great. It was a weird, crazy book, with some really nice character stuff going on. Good book.

And there’s All-New Marvel Now! .1. We start with Loki cheating some alien criminal at cards (a signed Dazzler poster is among the spoils – ha!) in order to get an Asgardian key that allows for fast travel. It’s wonderfully Loki. Very short, but very clever. The second story has Silver Surfer take some human girl to a water planet to see a Festival of Light, where pirate sharks accost the people and the Surfer punches them. This story’s longer, and really sweet. And of course, Mike Allred on art, so it looks great. Mike Allred’s awesome. Next, we see the Red Skull, who loses another key. Now we go to Kree-Lar. Tanalth the Pursuer talks to the Supreme Intelligence, who tasks her with finding an ancient and powerful Kree device known as the Gods’ Whisper. It is, of course, on Earth. This story sets up the All-New Invaders. On the SHIELD Helicarrier, Loki tricks Phil Coulson and steals another key. He mentions something about “ledgers” and “red,” so obviously, the next bit is Black Widow, because ever since that damned line in the Avengers movie, it’s become the entire frigging extent of Black Widow’s character in the comics, as well, and dammit it’s annoying! Anyway. In Moscow, she’s hunting some guy. He catches her, but it’s all part of her plan. She’s very good at what she does. Next, the Braddock Academy, where Meggan’s lost a key she brought out of Hell. One of the students, named Kid Copper, with a Magic Policeman’s Helmet – yes, yes, a million times yes, why does the Braddock Academy not have its own book already? – tries to help. Now we get to see Ms. Marvel beat up a garbage monster. She’s really fun. And kinda adorably geeky, actually, later on. The new Ms. Marvel series is looking very promising. The art is very weird and off-beat, but it kinda works. Thor gives Loki the final key. Meanwhile, AIM has stolen some formula that can give them short-term Hulks, and Captain America has set Cannonball and Sunspot to stop them. The AIM agent that Bobby bought off way back when gives them uniforms. Maria Hill gives Captain America a toaster as a peace offering. She wants SHIELD and the Avengers to work more closely together. Meanwhile, Cannonball screws up the stealth operation with a Star Wars joke. Luckily, they have a back-up plan. And it’s an awesome panel. And we finish with Loki using the keys to retrieve the Sword of Sigurd. So we’ve got an idea of what to expect in 6 books: Al Ewing’s Loki: Agent of Asgard (which promises to be clever, full of twists and intrigues and humour, but also some sweet stuff); Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer (which looks like it’ll be sweet and hilarious); James Robinson’s All-New Invaders (big action, a little dark); Nathan Edmonson’s Black Widow (I talked about that already, didn’t I?); G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel (a nice, classic teen superhero story, with a few modern twists); and Nick Spencer’s Avengers World (another one I talked about). All in all, some nice previews of what’s coming up.

I should also talk about the final issue of Young Avengers. So sweet. Plenty of pretty art, lots of sharp dialogue. Some things answered. And apparently Kate’s the only straight one on the team (though America thinks Kate’s not that straight). So much fun. I loved this series, and I’m so sad to see it go. It was my favourite Marvel comic of 2013. There were no cool, innovative layouts in this issue, but that final page is a real heart-warming tear-jerker.

 

Edit: Savage Wolverine #14, by Richard Isanove. We start in Ontario, in November 1933, with a couple Mounties coming across a truck in the woods that’s got some booze to be smuggled. Logan is found, and chased. He gets away, and hooks up with another smuggler, who takes him back to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to stay with him and his family. Back at the house, there’s some nice bonding, which is interrupted by a guy representing a Chicago bootlegging group. The meeting goes less than well. This is very cool. Logan’s a hardass loner, and is clearly uncomfortable with his friend. But he’s also loyal. The story is really basic, but it’s also really good, and there’s still room for some twists. The art is really nice. I’m not sure how this arc will last – at least the next two issues, it looks like – but I wouldn’t mind if it lasts a while. It’s a great period piece.

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From → 2014

7 Comments
  1. Good week for the most part. Black Widow was good. All New X-Factor was, unsurprisingly, great. Most of Point One was worth reading – I’m now looking forward to Ms. Marvel and Silver Surfer.

    Wow that Spider-Man/Psylocke story sounds bad. A very powerful telepathic telekinetic ninja injured and unable to take care of herself, while running around in an outfit that was retired a year ago and wearing high heels? Ugh.

    • Yeah. The Spider-Man/Psylocke story was bad. Even worse for how utterly pointless and disjointed it all felt. Psylocke’s beating up these guys, asks one, “Where is she?” Then a grenade goes off, she’s got a big chunk of metal sticking out of her, and then the X-Men show up, and Spider-Man gets annoyed that the whole thing made him forget the third thing he needed to pick up on his grocery list. Add to that the fact that it stuck Psylocke in her terrible old costume, and then slapped some frigging high heels on her. And it was just awful.

  2. johncaelan permalink

    I went to the X men premiere with Stan in 2000. Literally, I worked for him…Pic on my blog.

  3. Hamburger Time permalink

    You know, for a very, very brief period in the ’90s, Marvel’s Italian heroes had their own book, that was available ONLY in Italy on top of that. That Avengers World thing sounds like it’d have been a great opportunity for some VERY obscure characters to appear again.

    • That would’ve been really cool. Though I suppose the problem is that the people making the book would’ve had to have known about those characters. Still, I hope we do get to see some international heroes take the lead on the international missions.

      • Hamburger Time permalink

        My only worry would be that given how obscure the characters are (the book lasted less than a year and I don’t think it even had an English printing), they might just get slaughtered to prove how much better the Avengers are. 😛

        Because, let’s be honest with ourselves, we’re probably the only two Marvel fans in the world who actually WANT to see the Avengers bossed around by ’90s rejects.

      • True. But Marvel should totally be pandering to my tastes,

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