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X-Men comics (February 12, 2014)

February 12, 2014

Marvel continues to have too many good books for my own good.

Let’s start with All-New X-Factor #3, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. We start with Alex and Pietro in a bar, as Pietro tells Alex about Serval. Pietro is there as Alex’s spy. At Serval, Mr. Snow mentions to his assistant that they installed a cybernetic nanobot in Lorna’s right eye without her knowing. So, OK, that’s pretty creepy. Meanwhile, Gambit is showing Lorna his cats. Oliver, Lucifer and Figaro. Oliver scratches Lorna, and she flips out and lifts it magnetically like she’s about to crush it. So, she’s kinda creepy, too. Gambit and Lorna are then taken to meet Serval’s main computer genius, Dr. Anton Hexler, who tells them his system has been hacked, which should be impossible. The guy traced the hack to the Stolen Island, the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild. The one Gambit is the head of. This is getting steadily better. The first couple issues felt a little off, a little rough. PAD’s getting into more into the swing of this book. There’s a little more of the character stuff, a little more of the feeling that these characters are misfits. The next issue will bring in Danger, and then Cypher and Warlock are going to join up fairly soon. The added characters should help a lot, since those three are very much the kind of characters that PAD excels at – the C-list-and-below, the characters no one particularly cares about, and who PAD has pretty much free rein to do with as he wills. The art remains OK. It’s not blowing me away, but it’s not really turning me off, for the most part. Lorna looks scary when she gets mad at the cat. Oh, also, kitties! Kitties kitties kitties! I like kitties. Gambit’s kitties need a playdate with Chewie and Liho. Oh, and Kate’s cat. I forgot Kate has a cat. I forget the cat’s name. Does Kate’s cat have a name yet? Should I stop talking about cats? I miss my kitty. Anyway, my point is this series is improving.

All-New X-Men #23, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen. Scott wakes up on the Guardians’ spaceship and gets a quick rundown of the situation, including the talking tree. Jean wakes up in a bubble, and is told by Gladiator she’s being put on trial for her crimes, though that’s all the explanation she gets. Back on the Guardians’ ship, there’s more talking as the two teams try to figure each other out. The ship is attacked by the Shi’ar. They wind up being saved by a very unexpected party. This issue does some more very good work with Jean, particularly a double-page spread of Oracle reading what memories Jean has of Phoenix. Immonen kills it. Immonen always does a fantastic job in general. He does a great job on expressions. He can really make a character look like they’re breaking inside. He brings a lot of strength to Bendis’ writing. For example, a panel of Scott explaining what the teen X-Men are doing in the present becomes a lot more powerful simply by his body language. Bendis’ writing, as well, is at its best when it’s most character-focused. When the writing is more plot-oriented, it weakens a lot. So this issue’s good, though a little too plot-oriented to be great. And yeah, I know, who complains about a story having too much plot, but different writers have different strengths and Bendis’ strength is in characters, not plot.

Marvel Knights: X-Men #4, by Brahm Revel. While the crazy cult rides through town shooting people, Rogue beats the crap out of Wolverine, until Wolverine summons a memory of Carol Danvers – in a bit of a hodge-podge costume – to fight Rogue. Rogue calls up memories of Sabretooth, Deathstrike and Silver Samurai. Kitty wakes up in a bar, and finds out Krystal’s power is suggestion. The fight between Rogue and Carol is intense, eventually ending with Rogue accidentally absorbing Carol’s memories again. Darla’s in a bar getting drunk when some of the cultists come after her, and she summons a bunch of memories from the bar to beat the crap out of them. Then to Krystal explaining to Kitty about her uncle, and then to Wolverine freaking out and going berserk at his own fight. This story just gets better and better, with some characters – Rogue and Krystal in particular – overcoming their problems, and others – Wolverine and Darla in particular – succumbing to them. All the various threads are coming together. And there’s a lot of incredibly powerful stuff going on. As I’ve said before, Revel’s art matches his writing very well. Very dark and stylized and expressive. Marvel should be offering him a lot more work. They should offer him an ongoing series. The plot, characterizations, dialogue and art all mesh beautifully. Just some damned fine work.

X-Force #1, by Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim. We start with Cable fighting a monster, while Marrow and Psylocke watch. Psylocke is telling Marrow to shoot the monster, but Marrow is enjoying the fight. Then we cut back to Cable explaining to Psylocke and Marrow about some stuff, including an op that’s nothing to do with mutants, but involves some sort of tech that Cable feels mutants should have. Then back to the fight. Cable tells Marrow to get their informant clear, Psylocke can’t take out the monster, so Fantomex blows its head off. Psylocke wants to kill him. Back to the pre-mission, where Cable explains to Psylocke that mutantkind needs a dirty tricks crew, same as every country’s got. Dr. Nemesis is still around as their science guy, and still awesome, even if he only gets a single panel. Back to the post-fight, and Marrow makes sure she’s clear on the fact that they’re flying around in Fantomex’s nervous system, and commenting that she missed mutant shit. Marrow’s delightfully insane throughout the issue. She narrates it, as a letter to someone she keeps calling “baby.” The narration is mostly comparing violence to music, and how she lives for the beat now. There’s also a running gag throughout the issue of Psylocke’s hatred of Fantomex. I’m hoping those two don’t hook back up. She was better with Cluster. Spurrier plays up Fantomex’s Frenchness, having him toss out French words regularly, for no apparent reason other than to be annoying. At least, I would assume that’s why he does it. Hope seems to have been injured in an explosion in Alexandria, which is sad. I actually like Hope, so it’s a shame she’s been taken off the board for now. Still, this series looks like it’ll do a good job balancing humour and violence, much the way the recent pair of X-Force titles did, but even more so. Kim’s art is excellent. It almost has kind of a CG feel, and I mean that in a good way. It’s big and bold, perfect for an action-packed book.

X-Men Legacy #24, by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat. David and Ruth have psychic sex, but it has to come to an end, because he can’t hold time back any more. He can’t stop fighting her. He reflects on whether his life might’ve been different with better parents, and how he could never live up to his father’s legacy. Finally, Ruth manages mto pass on a message from Xavier, that he’s proud of David. And that manages to allow David to absorb himself and save the day. With more metafictional narrative, including talking to the audience. I do have a problem with the resolution, as it retcons some fairly important stuff that happened before this book started, in a way that’s tough to reconcile. I don’t like when stories are erased from continuity, because it makes it difficult to tell exactly what happened. It’s fine when a series retcons itself out of existence, as Matt Fraction’s Defenders run did, because that doesn’t affect anything else. But this  one retcons every Legion story, and that bothers me. Beyond that, I have to say, I’m not going to miss this series. David’s narration got increasingly tiring, and Huat’s art never appealed to me.

Wolverine and the X-Men #41, written by Jason Aaron, art by Pepe Larraz and Todd Nauck. The Hellfire Brats appear in this issue, so there will be profanity in this review. Toad gets fired from the school, on account of having led the JGS students to the Hellfire Academy in one of the worst X-Men stories I have read since Chuck Austen’s abominable run. Husk goes to talk to Toad, and says that she’s got a secondary mutation – when she husks now, it changes her mind. Beast is helping her deal with it. Personally, I’d just as soon have had Husk quit the school in disgust for the fact that they never seemed to particularly give a shit what was going on with her. She wants to get to know him now that she’s not crazy. I want Jason Aaron forbidden from ever writing Husk again. The Hellfire Brats escape the school and start causing problems in Salem. Kill them. Kill the fuckers! They are terrible characters who never should have been created in the first place! Gah. Toad tracks the two Brats down, and beats the crap out of one as he stands up Husk. The next issue will be the end of Jason Aaron’s terrible run on this series. And I’ll be glad to see the end of it. He is worst X-scribe since Chuck Austen. Austen had The Draco, and the terrible Azazel character. Aaron had the Hellfire Academy, and the Hellfire Brats, who are the among the worst concepts I have ever seen in a comic. The best thing Jason Latour could do, when he takes over, is to simply discard everything Aaron did. He certainly shouldn’t use the Hellfire Brats. In the name of all that is good and pure in this world, those stupid fucking fucks should never appear in a comic ever again, unless it’s to be killed. I cannot understand how anyone could ever think they were worth reading about. Fuck them. Ugh. I just want to grab Aaron and yell in his face to make him understand how much the Brats suck in terms of both concept and execution.

There’s the X-titles. A few non-X-titles.

She-Hulk #1, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido. It starts with She-Hulk at her law firm, getting her annual performance review. It . . . goes less than well. Her bosses don’t give her a bonus, despite the number of billable hours she put in, because she wasn’t hired for hours, she was hired for connections. Basically, her bosses are dicks. She quits, and breaks their fancy $50 000 table. Probably best not to piss off a Hulk. At a lawyer bar, a woman named Holly Harrow – Jonah Harrow’s widow – comes to her for help with a patent case against Tony Stark. Jen goes to see Tony, but gets the runaround from the computer as soon as she mentions it’s a legal matter. The discussion with Legal leads to the hilarious line, “Once Mr. Stark ceased being dead.” I love comic books. This book is just a lot of fun. Soule himself is a practicing attorney, so the legal aspects are very believable. But they’re also handled in an amusing way. Legal is a parody of a scummy corporate lawyer, making Jen’s frustration with him even funnier. Jen, of course, is always a fun character. Pulido’s art looks great. Very light and cartoonish. He does wonderful facial expressions. I’m looking forward to seeing him do some action scenes. This is definitely a really fun, great book, well worth picking up.

Revolutionary War: Death’s Head II, written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, art by Nick Roche. DH2 brings the unconscious Captain Britain to Darkmoor Research Centre. The Psycho-Wraith who hired him calls him a bounty hunter, but he prefers Freelance Peacekeeping Agent. The Wraith’s minions attack, but DH2 deals with them easily and demands his fee plus 10% for inconvenience caused. he’s eventually overpowered, but sends a failsafe signal, which reaches Tuck a few thousand years in the future. Yay Tuck! She hired the original Death’s Head to help her rescue Detah’s Head 2, who’s being examined by Dr. Necker. Woot, lots of continuity in this story. And lots of fun fun fighting and action! And twice the Death’s Head! Hurrah! And then they fight a horde of Death’s Head 3s! So much continuity! This was great. I love both versions of Death’s Head. They’re both so much fun. And I always liked Tuck, too, so it was good to see her again. And Dr. Necker’s as delightfully amoral as usual. This was just a really fun comic. Great art, too. There’s a certain ’90s feel to it, but in a good way. It’s UK ’90s, not Liefeld ’90s. The action is drawn well, and there’s a whole lot of it. And, of course, having read a lot of the Death’s Head and Death’s Head 2 material, all the continuity references excited me. This is the best issue of Revolutionary War. Which is to be expected, because any time a Death’s Head appears, it’s bound to be awesome.


Edit: I forgot Deadpool #23, written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, art by Mike Hawthorne. I missed #22 last month. It turns out that Gorman is working with ULTIMATUM, and they have a Helicarrier with stealth technology. Which Deadpool is attacking. There’s a long sequence that focuses on Ultimatum agents as Deadpool makes his way through the Helicarrier. Brutally. Preston is very uncomfortable with how violent he’s been since North Korea.  This issue is very violent, and has some fairly clever humour with the Ultimatum guys, but it also actually puts a somewhat darker spin on Deadpool’s violence. The art undermines this a bit, as it remains cartoonish, though luckily, Jordie Bellaire’s brilliant colour choices help. She goes with some darker colours, particularly red, that somewhat offsets the cartoonish art. I think part of the point of this issue might’ve been to unsettle readers, though I don’t think it’ll work, as I suspect most of the people reading this are of the “hurr durr he makes jokes while killing people” mindset who miss the point of the character entirely. I think this issue isn’t really meant to be fun. It’s meant to show the dark side of Deadpool’s character. It’s less effective at that than, say, tossing Weasel and Blind Al into The Box during Joe Kelly’s run. But it’s somewhat effective at showing that Deadpool is kinda broken. My hope is they continue to explore that, keeping the slapstick toned down compared to the earlier arcs.

From → 2014

  1. Looks like She Hulk will be a great series. It has the lighthearted feel that Dan Slott`s run had, but it also feels more grounded and authentic. It`s a shame the art turns off some people, because it really fits the comic`s mood.

    I`ve seen some people complaining about the cliffhanger ending in All New X-Men, but it doesn`t bother me at all. It was one of those “What the?” moments that gets you all excited. And with the Greg Rucka mini-series they just announced, they’ll probably explain his re-appearance there. Also, it would be kind of amazing if X-23 and Gamora team up at some point in this crossover.

    Oh goodie, they brought back the Hellfire kids again. I used to tolerate them, but after the Hellfire Academy storyline, well … your summary is enough for me.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. All New X-Men 23 review | healed1337
  2. The Comic-Verse: Awesome Art & The Top 15 Featured Links (02/09/14-02/15/14) | The Speech Bubble

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