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X-Men comics (January 15, 2014)

January 15, 2014

Here’s this week’s comics. I may add a couple others later on.

First, Uncanny X-Men #16, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. We start at a rally, at Ann Arbor, Michigan, the same school that was attacked by Sentinels when the X-Men showed up. There’s a lot of tension, as some blame the X-Men, and some praise them. Magneto gets fed up with the whole thing and attacks. Of course, he was just fantasizing about it. In actuality, he and Dazzler are discussing SHIELD’s lack of progress on finding out who was behind the attack. They’re also suspicious of each other’s agendas. Dazzler also suggests Magneto’s power loss is psychosomatic. And finally, she tells him that someone is turning Madripoor into a safe harbour for mutants. It’s very interesting. This is a very, very good issue. And very important. It ties in some earlier plot threads from both UXM and ANXM. It sets up Magneto’s future, in his solo series, and does some excellent character work with him. It touches on the ongoing debate among humanity over mutants. This is a big issue, and it’s really well-done. Blob’s voice sounds wrong, but that’s a minor complaint. (Oh, also, Blob was apparently repowered.) Bendis also makes Mystique a little too familiar with Magneto – the two have actually had very few interactions, and none of them particularly positive. Her reasons for wanting Magneto on Madripoor are fairly believable, it’s just the way she spoke to him that wasn’t quite right. I’ll just chalk it up to her wanting to manipulate him. Bachalo’s art is his usual style. If you like his style, then he does a great job on this issue. Overall, this was a great issue.

All-New X-Men #21, by Brian Bendis and Brandon Peterson. We start years ago, with Reverend Stryker delivering an anti-mutant speech before meeting with some AIM scientists about his sick son. Then we cut to the present, as Stryker’s son prepares to kill the X-Men. One of his soldiers is worried that killing them will create a paradox and screw the world up. So he calls in Monica Rappaccini of AIM, who suggests letting them go and getting far away. Then they free themselves. This was pretty good. A few nice character moments, particularly with Laura, as she’s confronted with her actions in Murderworld, and learns that the video of it was sent out to the world. There’s maybe a little too much of Stryker – the father and the son. It shifted the focus just a little too much away from the X-Men. So this issue wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been. It does bring Scott and Laura a little closer together, setting up their romance a bit more. So there are some character developments here, just not quite as much as there could’ve been. I’d also hoped that Angel would rescue the others. That was where I thought the last issue was going – Angel fell outside so he wouldn’t be caught in Stryker’s blast, so he’d still be free to mount a rescue. But that wasn’t what happened. Which is disappointing. Especially because he could kinda use an issue where he’s the star. Oh well. The art was excellent, of course. A lot of shadows, to heighten the tension and darkness. And good work on facial expressions.

Amazing X-Men #3, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness. Azazel, the pile of shit concept that Chuck Austen came up with in one of the all-time worst stories in X-Men history, and who never should’ve been dredged back up, gives a speech to his crew about how they’re going to take over Hell and Heaven. Which is stupid. Anyway, Beast climbs on board and beat some demons up while quipping. Beast is good here. Azazel can go rot. I try not to swear in this blog, but fuck Azazel. Anyway, Azazel eventually stabs Beast in the back. We then cut to another pirate ship, where Storm keeps breaking free. Before they can cut off her hands, Nightcrawler shows up. As an aside, you’ve probably heard that Claremont’s going to be writing a Nightcrawler series. I’ve not been a fan of most of Claremont’s work since 1991. We’ll see if a Nightcrawler book works, by forcing him to tone down some of the fetishistic elements that became increasingly pronounced, particularly in his X-Treme X-Men. Anyway, Kurt and Ororo share a tender moment before going down to fight. It’s definitely looking like Aaron might be wanting to do a Storm/Nightcrawler romance. I’m not entirely a fan of the idea, but I’m not entirely opposed to it, either. My biggest problem with it is that it means we won’t get Storm and Psylocke as a couple. After all the work Humphries has put into that in Uncanny X-Force. (People talk about Amazing X-Men being the most classic X-Men book right now. But that’s wrong. It’s totally lacking the lesbian undertones of Claremont’s X-Men.) I’ll admit, it’s my own hang-ups that keep me from embracing this book. There’s nothing wrong with it, objectively. But it’s a Jason Aaron X-Men book, and it has Azazel. I might enjoy it more once Azazel is gone – preferably, with the revelation that he’s not really Nightcrawler’s father and the abominable Draco storyline was just part of some convoluted plan that he, as a real demon, set in motion (and if Aaron does that, then I will start actually buying this book, unless the Hellfire Brats show up, in which case I will boycott Aaron until the day I die) – but for now, I’m just not really feeling it as much as I should.

I apparently forgot a book last week. Cable and X-Force #18, by Dennis Hopeless and Angel Unzueta. This is the first part of the Vendetta crossover with Uncanny X-Force. Hope is having a nightmare about Bishop. She gets up to get some ice cream, and finds Boom Boom dancing. She’s also watching a live feed of Cable’s precognitive visions, and Bishop pops up. Hope goes to confront him. With guns. Lots of very large guns. She is her father’s daughter. When Boom Boom does tell Cable, he goes off to stop Hope from killing Bishop. He’ll do it himself. We then cut to LA, where Bishop and Storm are arguing about her erasing some of his memories involving his hunt for Hope. He’s pissed. He storms out, and as he stomps around town, Hope shoots him with a rocket. It’s on. Before it’s finished, though, Stryfe interrupts. This was good. Boom Boom’s always awesome. And this is a good follow-up to the Cable series, where Bishop was trying to kill Hope. Hope’s fear and hatred of Bishop is really good. The fight between the two is really well-done. Stryfe showing up throws a big wrench into it all, and it’ll be interesting to see what his big plan is.

Uncanny X-Force #16, by Sam Humphries and Harvey Tolibao. Cable and the UXF team argue about Bishop. Cable thinks he should’ve been told that Bishop was in the present, and that Bishop deserves to die. The UXF team disagrees, with Puck and Spiral wanting to just beat Cable up. Cable obliges, especially when his back-up shows up. Hope and Bishop wake up, and Bishop tries to tell her she doesn’t need to be afraid of him, but she points out the hell he put her through. She wants to kill him. Stryfe tells her he wants to make her dreams come true. Back to the argument between the two X-Force teams, this time over Cable’s unconscious body. Lots of fighting. Very exciting, and also kinda sad, but also kinda funny at times. It’s tough to tell which part was better. They’ve both got some good fighting, and some really good drama. I think this issue might be better, for the scene between Hope and Bishop. Either way, it’s a really good issue. And the art is great, too. I love the art this series has had. It has just a touch of surrealism. Just a little bit of weirdness. It changes the feel of the book, and I think it works really well.

X-Men Legacy #22, by Simon Spurrier and Khoi Pham. The Beast has teleported himself and David to DC, to ensure a missile launched at the US doesn’t get stopped. Luckily, all the people David’s met with throughout the series show up. The Beast gets everyone hating each other, but Scott and Wolverine still ask what the plan is. The plan is beat up the monster. A few people die in the fight, including Brand, the little girl, and Chamber. I doubt that Brand’s deadth, at least, will stick – she’s too important to die in a book like this. Chamber? I hope his death is reversed, too. But I also think not a lot of people would care either way, which is sad. Chamber’s awesome. Anyway. David comes up with how to beat the Beast. With that done, we actually get the real moral of the story – that mental illness isn’t overcome, it’s something you learn to live with. Which is true. This issue’s packed with action, but also packed with David’s narration. And, honestly? I’m kinda tired of his narration. He rambles a lot. It could stand to be a little more concise. This is a series that’s sometimes tended to be too on-the-nose, and it gets tiring. I’m also still not a fan of the art. Just not my style.

Wolverine MAX #15, by Jason Starr and Felix Ruiz. Wolverine grabs some money off the people he killed, takes a shower, changes his clothes, and leaves. He heads back to the casino, and makes a lot of money. But then he gets caught and thrown in a cage. Gold gets in the cage with him, and says he bought Wolverine the claws, to keep him from getting killed by Frank Castle. And then Gold pops some claws of his own. This was a cool series. Really dark and messed up. This finale is equally dark and messed up. So it works. It’s probably worth picking up the collections for this series, if you like Wolverine.

Night of the Living Deadpool #1, by Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas. Deadpool wakes up in a restaurant that served all-you-can-eat chimichangas. He’s woken by the screams of a guy being eaten by zombies. When he goes to check it out, the street is empty. He wanders around, thinking back on the little hints that maybe a zombie uprising was happening, and how little he noticed. Then he’s attacked by a zombie begging him to kill it. And then a whole lot of zombies. They moan and plead for death as he kills them, but there’s way too many for him, which leads to a genuinely badass panel of him with a sword in each hand, surrounded by zombies, saying “Come get some.” This entire series might be justified by that panel alone. The rest of the issue’s pretty good, too. Deadpool sounds about right. He sounds like he’s covering his emotions with humour. The action is intense, and the art fantastic. Special mention for the colouring – most of it has a washed-out, almost black and white colouration, except for Deadpool and a few other splashes of colour here and there. The effect is a little unsettling.

That’s the X-Men comics. But there’s a couple non-X-titles to mention.

Revolutionary War: Dark Angel, by Kieron Gillen and Dietrich Smith. Dark Angel wakes up in her Darkmoor Castle home, and sees a huge hole in the wall, and discerns from that that something’s gone wrong. She’s a clever one. She investigates, figures out that Captain Britain was defeated, and describes her vision of a young woman made of mechanical flesh. Before Dark Angel can do anything, though, she needs to go to Hell and see Mephisto, to work off her father’s debt to him. She does this by bleeding him for his sins. Her obligation to Mephisto is actually a pretty clever commentary on the problems that led to the 2008 bank crashes. Once she’s done with Mephisto’s chores, she goes back to the real world, and sees Psycho-Wraiths, and connects her earlier vision as “Miss Tech” – Mys-Tech. And things go from bad to worse, naturally. This is very interesting. There’s a lot of talk of debts, which Gillen decides to use as commentary on the debts that led to the recession. It works much better than it has any real right to, frankly. Still, this issue wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. It wasn’t bad; it’s just that my expectations for Gillen are always really high, and this didn’t live up to them. It was a little too exposition-heavy, and a little too sparse on action. I think I was also hoping for a few more ties to some of the other Marvel UK characters.

And I may as well bring up Thunderbolts #20.NOW, by Charles Soule and Carlo Barberi. They’re at an old diner, which seems to have been a secret military base, filled with LMDs who’ve been deactivated for a long time. They smash the robots, and Ross explains that the diner was just the front for a research facility accessed by picking three specific songs on a jukebox. Deadpool guesses them. Accidentally. Because of course he would. Also, Ross explains that American cheese isn’t from Earth. He’s also a dick to Sterns. The team meets up to discuss the next mission: Dealing with Mercy. Sterns has a suggestion: Send her to Hell. And Flash and Ross may just know a guy. This is good. Soule’s a solid writer; he knows what he’s doing, even if I hate that he’s continuing the Punisher/Elektra relationship. At least he writes it better than Way did; with Way, it felt like shitty fanfiction, while Soule is just continuing something that was established. Now, Soule has an artist who isn’t awful. So 20 issues in, Thunderbolts has finally become a series that is actually worth buying. Barberi’s style is fairly conventional, and maybe a little light for a book like this, but it’s still good. It’s not distracting. So, Thunderbolts is a good book now.

Edit: I wanted to add Inhumanity: Superior Spider-Man, by Christos Gage and Stephanie Hans. I like Gage as a writer, but the real draw for this one was Stephanie Hans. She is an amazing artist. Anyway, Spider-Man is helping with the clean-up of New York after Attilan’s destruction, and getting some nice Inhuman tech in the process. He wonders how normal people go through life, moving from one crisis to another, just accepting it. He comes across a building that had a small piece of debris land on it, and which now has something weird going on. A guy and his wife have adapted the tech into something that drains energy. The man’s willing to let it kill people if it keeps his wife alive. The ending’s rather predictable, but still well-written and touching. And man, Stephanie Hans is just so frigging amazing. Seriously, Marvel, give her as much work as she’s willing to take. It’s gorgeous art. Anything she does is worth buying.


From → 2014

  1. This week’s Uncanny X-Men was simply great.

    I kind of wasn’t expecting All New to be great. It’s both a 3-part story that brings in a new character and is a tie-over for the Trial of Jean Grey crossover. For what it was, it’s a satisfying comic. And some good character development for both Cyclops and X-23. I hope we see more of the Purifiers after the crossover, because their ties with AIM makes them more interesting.

    Amazing X-Men wasn’t amazing. Once Chris Claremont’s “BAMF” series begins, I may drop this.

    While I enjoyed Uncanny X-Force, it would have been better if the fight scene was cut down a bit to focus more on the conflict between Hope and Bishop. While a decent fight, we see them all the time. It’s not very often you have an argument between a teenager and the man who tried to kill her for the first 16 years of her life.

    Also, today’s Superior Spider-Man was intense in more ways than one.

  2. At first I thought they were reprinting pages from God Loves Man Kills and then when I realized Brent Anderson was on the art for a couple of pages it added to the appeal of this book.

    Uncanny has been consistently brilliant, with perhaps a couple of off moments during BotA, but Bendis is doing a good job.

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