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X-Men comics (February 19, 2014)

February 19, 2014

A fairly light week, which is always nice.

First up, Uncanny X-Men #17, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. Magik dumps the students off and then leaves them. They try to figure out where they are, while also telling Eva they all know she has a thing for Cyclops. Because she totally does. By the way, Phoebe has dyed her hair red. Hijack uses his phone to figure out that they’re in Montana. Tabula Rasa, though the name is never actually given. And then they’re attacked by a giant monster. It’s . . . it kinda looks like a chicken. Goldballs takes it down, though. Because Goldballs is awesome. He hears a girl screaming. It was actually Triage. The healer guy. He saw a weird slug-like thing in a big web and it grossed him out, as it should, because ew. Ew ew ew. Ben, Hijack and Celeste find some people-type things, who mentally attack Celeste, and apparently kill her, but she turns out OK, thanks to Ben talking to the . . . let’s go with people, I guess. Until the people get ready to attack, but it’s Savage Land Eva to the rescue. She’s been somewhere, but doesn’t want to talk about it. And then SHIELD turns up. This is really good. There’s some nice development for the students, and plenty of clever writing. Tabula Rasa is fats becoming the new Savage Land, a place where writers can send characters to have weird crazy adventures with weird crazy creatures. Bachalo’s art remains Bachalo’s art, though his colour choices are often interesting. Still, I much prefer Bendis’ writing over Bachalo’s art. When Bendis focuses on characters, I think he’s one of the best in the industry. So I love issues like this.

X-Men #11, by Brian Wood and Kris Anka. Deathstrike and Enchantress go into a vault in New York and restore Selene to life. Yep, Selene. She’s back! Meanwhile, the X-Men team has finished checking out Ana Cortes’ yacht, and have confirmed that it’s a red herring. While they talk it over, Monet’s the one who comes up with the possibility that Arkea might be bringing back dead mutants. I’m not sure I agree with the logic she uses to figure that out. On the other hand . . . well, given the X-Men’s history, betting on dead people is probably usually a safe bet. Selene submits to Arkea, and even calls her Mistress. Sabra lets Storm’s team know that Maddie Pryor and Selene have both had their remains purchased. So that should be fun. Then we go to Catalina Island, where Clay Mann takes over art duties, where the New X-Men are beating up Sentinels. With Karima there. Despite Karima having just been on the yacht. Seriously, something’s really screwed up here. I don’t know what the hell happened. On the plus side, Cipher’s with her. No, not Doug Ramsey, that’s Cypher. Cipher was a character introduced in the Young X-Men series a few years back. And while that series was utter crap, Cipher was kinda neat. Anyway, this section’s pretty fun, even if I’m not sure that it actually makes sense with the other section of the book. The disjointedness definitely hurts the story. You need to make sure the reader knows what’s happening and why the characters are doing what they’re doing. But that doesn’t really happen here. It was poorly set-up. Otherwise, this remains a solid series, with great writing and characterization. It’s just a weird plotting screw-up.

Amazing X-Men #4, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness. Wolverine and Northstar are walking through a frozen wasteland. Firestar is fighting to defend Iceman in Hell. And Nightcrawler is fighting a crazed Beast on a pirate ship. Luckily, Beast snaps out of it after a memory of the two playing Obstacle Chess. Nightcrawler finds Firestar and Iceman on the outskirts of Hell, and then Northstar and Wolverine in the frozen wastes. This series remains OK. Nightcrawler’s entertaining. Firestar’s moment of awesome winds up being off-panel, as she mentions setting Hell on fire, but we don’t really get to see it. Her personality is really bland here. Rather lacking. I find it hard to have faith that Aaron will write her well, considering how awful Wolverine and the X-Men was. The art’s good. McGuinness doesn’t really have anything particularly unusual to draw, as it’s mostly just people talking, so it works. Because he really doesn’t seem to have much imagination when it comes to doing weird stuff, like demons. This arc ends next issue, and I’m looking forward to it being over, and getting an idea what the series will be like on a normal basis. He definitely needs more snark from Northstar, and for Firestar to be interesting.

A+X #17. The first story, by Jeff Loveless and Paco Diaz, is about Iron Man and Broo. Beast drops Broo off to job-shadow Tony. Tony’s trying to build a home-made Shi’ar Stargate. Broo gets it up and running. Stark runs off to go hit something, and comes across the Chessmen, old, minor villains from the classic Obadiah Stane stuff in the ’80s. Iron Man feels apologetic about fighting them. He usually fights cooler villains. Like shooting the Phoenix with a space-gun. Broo helps him defeat the Chessmen, and then Tony rewards him by showing him the ropes. This was meh. I don’t like Broo. He’s annoying. The whole “overeager nerd” thing is just such a bland characterization, and it’s the entire extent of his character. No one has ever tried to give him any depth beyond that. It makes him a bore to read. The second story, by Gerry Duggan and David Yardin, continues the Cyclops and Captain America team-up. Doom shows up at the Skrull farm, but the Avengers and X-Men are there to greet him. Though they’re all in the wrong costumes, so something is off. Regardless, Doom just slaughters them, including lifting Mjolnir. That tips him off that it’s all illusion, and he kicks the telepathic Skrull out of his head. His armour’s been taken down by a Micro-EMP – that one that Cap used on Tony during Civil War. meanwhile, X-Men is leading the X-Men and Skrulls in an attack on Doom’s lab. Next issue will finish this story off. It’s been a good one. A cool story, some fun writing, and some good art. As usual.

There’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.

New Warriors #1, by Chris Yost and Marcus To. As an aside, I got the Skottie Young baby variant cover. Woot! Speedball and Justice are fighting Salem’s Seven. Turns out Speedball started the fight because he thought they were bad guys. Of course, they were bad guys, back in the day. I have no idea when that stopped. Down in Mexico, Aracely gets Kaine to stop a mugging. I’ve missed Kaine and Aracely. In New York, Sun Girl stops a robbery of an armoured car, and as she sings “Go Outside” by Cults, she hears about a disturbance at Grand Central Terminal. Then we go back to New Salem, which has been turned into a safe haven for people born of magic. Salem’s Seven are protecting it, being heroes. And then the town is attacked. In Mexico, Kaine and Aracely see a bunch of dead Atlanteans wash up on the beach, with a live one asking for heroes. Sun Girl finds Morlocks under attack. And Nova is in New Mexico fighting Hybrid, until the things that showed up in New Salem and the Morlock tunnels show up. I think these things were in X-Men a few years ago. Evolutionaries. I think they wiped out the Neo. A mercy killing, really, considering how much the Neo sucked. Yost has a knack for taking terrible concepts and making them work, so we’ll see if he can make the Evolutionaries less lame. Having them work with the High Evolutionary should help. The writing is solid. The characters are a lot of fun. I like the twist on Salem’s Seven – it’s a really cool idea. I’d love to see more of them, actually. I’m also looking forward to the full New Warriors team getting together.  Should be a lot of fun. This book is worth checking out.

Punisher #2, by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. We start five months ago, with Punisher in Mexico tracking a cartel, only to find someone beat him to it. Then LA in the present, as he watches a deal go down between some criminals and AIM. he rescues a coyote, but loses the weapon being bought. In LA, he talks to his Army contact to look after his coyote, and then goes to kill more criminals. And we find out what the new weapon is. It’s neat. This book remains solid. Some good action, and the supporting cast is building nicely. Good series.

Avengers World (I hate that name) #3, by Nick Spencer, Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli. Last issue ended with Smasher seemingly being taken over by AIM’s Scientist Supreme. So this issue obviously . . . drops that plot entirely. Because there’s about 18 characters to get through, so focusing on any of them for more than a single issue is just downright silly. Yeah, I’m not feeling any more confident about this book. Anyway, this issue’s set in Madripoor. Which is now on the back of a huge dragon. Shang-Chi fights Gorgon. That’s the issue. And it’s exciting fighting, and his narration is good. So the lack of plot development is not, to me, a problem, however much a lot of people online bitch and moan whenever a story doesn’t have enough plot development. No, my problem is a little different. Shang-Chi gets good characterization, but ultimately, it’s all for nothing, because it’s going to be a while before he shows up again. Because Hickman and Spencer are trying to balance so damned many characters, that they’ve made it impossible to really do continuing character development. The approach they’re taking is absolutely the wrong one. This is supposed to be the character-focused Avengers title, but with so many characters, all that means is that each character gets an issue and then gets tossed aside for the next three or four issues after that. And it’s ridiculous. (And as an aside: Hickman has said that one of the members of the team is LGBT. I’m still calling on Hickman and Spencer to show, on-panel, who it is. None of this “if it fits the story” bullshit – you’re the ones coming up with the damned stories, so make it fit. Show some frigging courage, and actually have the character say, “I’m gay.” This complaint is unrelated to this issue, but it’s something that continues to bother me.)

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5 Comments
  1. So in other words, Avengers World is no different than Hickman’s main Avengers title. As dark as New Avengers is, at least there’s actual character focus (from the issues I’ve read).

    At this rate, I’m not sticking with Amazing X-Men after the Nightcrawler storyline is over. It’s just not good enough so far. I have hopes for Chris Claremont’s upcoming Nightcrawler series, but I’m a bit nervous about it as well.

    • Here’s the thing with World: There’s characterization, but because of the format, it’s not sustained characterization. The second issue was all about Smasher. This one was all about Shang-Chi. The next one will be Starbrand. Then Manifold. It looks like Hyperion will be after that. And each issue is going to give extensive focus and characterization to the specific character being spotlighted, but each character gets a single issue before it moves on to someone else, and everyone else gets pretty much ignored. And that’s a shitty way of going about it.

      Amazing isn’t really for me, because it’s an Aaron X-book. But I will absolutely get the Immonen issue.

  2. “This book is worth checking out.”
    On your recommendation I will do just that!

  3. Okay. I just read X-Men #11. It fully stinks that so many awesome things happened in the issue but the timing was disjointed and flat out nonsensical. Also, I hate Kris Anka’s art. Mann’s pages were so flipping gorgeous, though. Pumped for Selene’s return.

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