X-Men comics (March 12, 2014)
This is a fairly heavy week. So let’s get to it.
First, All-New X-Men #24, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen. This is part 5 of The Trial of Jean Grey. Gladiator demands to know how Jean pleads, but she stays silent. King J’son of Spartax defends her, instead, saying she hasn’t done anything yet. He also mentions the Shi’ar wiping out Jean’s entire family. This isn’t going to go well. Out in space, Angela floats and gets dragged in by a ship. The others wait for her to message them – she’s taken out the entire crew. Gamora wants to marry her. Angela says she’ll think about it. On the planet, Gladiator and J’son argue, while the Imperial Guard also argues. Until Jean knocks them out. Yeah, like I said, not going well. And the X-Men, Guardians and Starjammers all head down to the planet to look for her. This is excellent. At this point, talking about Immonen’s art is unnecessary. The man has talent. He is an amazingly talented artist. He does a phenomenal job every time. But Bendis is also doing an amazing job on this arc. The trial is tense and dramatic, and the twin arguments – between Gladiator and J’son, and among the Guard – are really interesting. There’s some nice moments of humour to relieve the tension, before ratcheting it back up again. Bendis is doing a brilliant job with this story. The next issue of GotG will conclude it, and I’m looking forward to it. (I’m also looking forward to the next issue of ANXM – it’s a special double-sized issue, with art by a bunch of great artists, including Bruce Timm, Paul Smith and Skottie Young. Yay Skottie Young!)
All-New X-Factor #4, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico. (The recap page mentions PAD has a new novel coming out. That involves, and I quote, “a Charles Dickens character facing off against the undead.” Oh, PAD, you rascal.) Danger plans to kill Nil. Gambit tries to talk her down, but she’s not listening. And says she’s never seen him before in her life. So her memory apparently isn’t what it used to be. She tries to kill Gambit, but Quicksilver rescues him. She finally tracks down Nil, and prepares to kill him, but Quicksilver rescues him, too. Which really annoys her. She tricks Quicksilver into running off a cliff, but Lorna rescues him and Nil. And then has a showdown with Danger. Lorna tears Danger apart. That doesn’t last long, and Danger keeps trying to kill Nil while X-Factor keeps trying to stop her. This is good. There’s plenty of action, but there’s actually also some really good character work for Lorna, Gambit and Danger. Lorna’s got a vicious streak in this book. I’m glad Danger’s joined the cast; she’s the first member of the cast that I really like. I’m even more excited for next issue – Cypher and Warlock! Woot! The complete cast should make for a much more interesting and entertaining book. Di Giandemenico’s art is good, but it might actually be a bit too fancy for my tastes. Still, the book is definitely finding its feet, and I’m glad for that. The first couple issues were a bit rocky, but it’s coming together now.
X-Force #2, by Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim. Cable introduces various mutants – Wolverine and Storm, Mystique, Lorna, Magneto, Havok, Cyclops – to Meme, the mutant girl the team rescued last issue, locked in some sort of box and projecting her thoughts on TV screens. The mutants are all sceptical of Cable, and his newfound sharing spirit. We see Psylocke and Fantomex fighting some people, while Fantomex hits on her, and she tells him off. We also learn that Marrow got her powers back through someone experimenting on her – the same way Meme got hers. Marrow saves Fantomex from getting shot, and then stabs more people. She’s rather delightful. Cable then tells the mutant leaders about the results of the Alexandria Incident where 3000 died – mutant scanners in airports, 67 countries banned mutants from the military, the G7 is intercepting communications between known and suspected mutants. Cable tells off all the leaders for playing their games, and to stay out of his way while he does the real work of keeping mutants safe.Then he joins the others to talk to Fiqh, a mutant high up in Saudi Intelligence. Fiqh’s willing to give Cable information, but first, Cable has to kill someone. Who’s actually already dead – a psychic entity possessing a corpse. While Cable does the mission, he asks Nemesis about Hope, but Nemesis has made no progress in treating her. Cable’s target holes up, but Meme gets the door open. Meme has a very, very strange way of speaking. So now we know who the floating head on the covers is. And what she can do. I like Meme. I really do. Her speech pattern reminds me of Warlock – very disjointed and stream-of-consciousness. And I like the story Spurrier’s telling. There’s a lot of shady politics, and that’s cool. X-Force has traditionally had very grey morality, but here, Cable doesn’t even pretend that it’s grey. The refrain throughout this issue is “the ends justify the means, even at the cost of your soul.” He’s damning himself, and he doesn’t particularly car. Kim’s art, as with last issue, is phenomenal. Gorgeous artwork. It almost looks painted. And there’s a darkness to the art that fits the tone of the book perfectly. This is a great book.
X-Men Legacy #300, written by Simon Spurrier, Mike Cary and Christos Gage, pencils by Tan Eng Huat, Steve Kurth and Rafa Sandoval. A girl trying to burglarize the JGS gets caught, and an X-Men talks to her. He’s not one we’ve seen before – his power is to be forgotten as soon as people look away from him. Apparently, he’s been on the team for 6 years. Anyway, he takes the girl’s helmet off, and she tells him her story – a boy hit her and raped her, she had to get seven operations and he got 6 months in prison, and a petition was started to get him out. Half her face is still busted up, and people always stare at her. She wanted to get into the school because she wanted to not be the most interesting one in a room. The guy then tells his story, about Age of X, and wanting to die so that Legacy (Rogue) would absorb him and he’d be remembered forever. he got knocked out, and when he woke up, he found a wounded soldier, and treated him, and stayed with him all night, until the guy just vanished at dawn. Then he talks about how Xavier was the only one who ever really remembered him, and how when Xavier died, he started to wonder if he was even real. he wanted to be rid of his power, and hoped Weapon Omega could help. So he found Omega and Mimic, who’d been helping out with relief efforts after various disasters, wanting to do things that help regular people. A very cool idea. Cyclops and his team actually show up while the guy’s talking to them. A fight starts to break out, until Mimic and Omega copy the guy’s power. Then Mimic and Omega talk the guy out of giving up his power and to do something worthwhile with it. He does – save the girl. It’s a very sweet story. Actually, it’s multiple very sweet stories. Forgetmenot is a really neat character, even if we’ll never see him again. It was nice seeing Age of X again, however briefly, and Mimic and Omega. The whole issue was just a really nice tribute to the past few years of X-Men Legacy. The art isn’t always my taste – I still don’t like Huat – but it’s a good comic.
Wolverine #3, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. Wolverine’s falling after being pushed off a building by Otto-Man, and after Otto-Man saves him, Jubilee shows up. She brings him to where the X-Men – Wood’s team – are fighting robots. Jubilee actually mostly just wanted to talk to him about what’s going on between him and Storm. Wolverine doesn’t want to talk about. Luckily, Maria Hill calls him with a job. She wants to send him after Sabretooth, with a team to help him. He refuses. In the present, he wakes up and plays a video game with Lost Boy. Back in the past, he charges into the horde of killer robots, which then Voltron it up into one giant robot. The robot almost steps on him, but Jubilee saves him. More important, he says “eh.” A nice reminder that he’s Canadian. And we find out what Creed’s up to. This is good. I always love seeing Jubilee and Wolverine reunite. And I love that Cornell used Wood’s X-Men team – that’s just a great touch. The writing on this remains good. Wolverine’s fear and denial both come through well. The art is good, too. Not great, but good. Of course, this series does suffer from being about Wolverine, since Wolverine sucks. But Cornell writes an interesting Wolverine, I’ll give him that.
Deadpool #25, written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, art by Mike Hawthorne. I don’t like Hawthorne’s art. Too cartoonish for me. But let’s get to the story. Deadpool and Crossbones are chatting over beers. And then they fight. As they fight, Deadpool feels angsty, and they both get run over by Gorman. He makes the stupid decision of getting out of the car. So he dies. Then the fight continues, and Deadpool gets runs over by a girl on a bike. Then Deadpool beats the crap out of Crossbones. Almost beats him to death until he’s interrupted by Preston, Coulson and Preston’s buddy whose name I forget. This remains good. Deadpool is a tragic character, and that’s how he needs to be written, and that’s how he’s being written here. The next issue will apparently featuring him going up against time-traveling Hitler, which I’m actually OK with. The book has been serious for a while, so it’s due for a funny issue. After that, I’m hoping it strikes a balance.
That’s the X-titles. Now the Now! titles.
Captain Marvel #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez. We start on an alien planet, with Carol leading a team to buy something. Carol and the girl with he get hassled by Spartax secret police. She tries the Jedi Mind Trick, because she’s awesome, and when that fails, she punches them instead. In the ensuing brawl, she loses her friend, Tic. Then we cut back to six weeks ago, where she and Iron Patriot intercept an escape pod (Carol initially worries it’s a weapon, until she sees a window and someone inside). Then that night, Carol and Kit are in Carol’s new home in the Statue of Liberty. Yay Kit! She remains adorable. Then Carol and Iron Man talk about the alien she rescued. Apparently, she’s a Nowlanian, whose home planet was destroyed by the Builders. Tony also mentions an idea he came up with, for a rotating gig of Avengers serving in space. The next day, Carol takes Tracy flying. When they get back down, it’s for Tracy’s birthday party, where the rest of Carol’s supporting cast – Frank, Jessica and Wendy – all show up. Carol has such a great supporting cast. Also, she’s now dating Rhodey. But she’s still got a lot of stuff to work out, it seems, and tells him she wants to go to space. And then we get a comic by Kit showing the origin of Captain Marvel, and it’s adorable and whoever came up with the idea is a genius. Anyway, this issue’s great. DeConnick’s writing is as solid as ever. She still writes really human characters, and gets across a lot of personality in a little space. The premise of the series is set up well, and it’s done in a way that makes sense for the character. I’m eager to see where it goes, though I’m sad to see her amazing supporting cast disappear for a while. DeConnick has said that she plans on revisiting them, and that’s something to really look forward to. Lopez’s art is great. It’s more conventional than any of the artists on the previous volume, and while I loved all of them, I am hoping that Lopez’s presence means stronger sales. He does great work. He does a good job with expressions, which helps to tell the story. And, of course, the little page by Kit was awesome. Someone needs to get a bonus for that one. I love it. So yeah, I love this issue. I’m psyched for this new volume.
Black Widow #4, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. Some guy named Molot is being told to kill some people. Black Widow is being tasked with infiltrating some embassy and bugging it while posing as a security consultant selling a new security system. The building gets blown up before she can go inside, and she chases the person who did it. It’s Molot, but she doesn’t catch him. Hill asks her to help find out why the embassy was bombed. Widow finds a lead. She finds out Molot is going to kill a Croatian ambassador in Capetown. e tries to do it with, in Widow’s words, a “huge-ass machine gun.” She fights him, and loses. This series continues to be excellent. This issue has a lot of exciting action (drawn very well by Noto), plenty of mystery, and some solid characterization for Widow. I like that Edmondson keeps hammering in the point that she’s a spy. She’s someone who tries to avoid open combat when possible. She’s actually annoyed at being drawn into open combat here. This series really is worth picking up.
Revolutionary War: Motormouth, by Glenn Dakin and Ronan Cliquet. Motormouth is telling her kids the story of her and Killpower, including Killpower’s death being sucked into Hell. (This actually contradicts Captain Britain & MI:13, as he showed up alive and well there. Oh well.) The art during this intro is adorable. Then it switches to a more serious look. Wisdom and Liger try to contact her. They don’t manage to reach her before Psycho-Wraiths find and attack her. She’s rescued by a street gang. She uses the opportunity to get her kids out, then blasts the Wraiths with sonics. There are apparently two lessons to be learned from this comic. One, Harley is a hardcore badass. Two, do not fuck with her kids. There’s also a third lesson that her kids are seriously weird. Anyway, this is a really cool, fun comic. Harley’s sad, bitter and sarcastic, and also casually badass. She apparently quit MI:13 because she got too good at killing. The art is good.Very good. This is my first experience with Cliquet, but he’s great. He actually reminds me a bit of Stuart Immonen. And praise doesn’t get much higher than that, really. I especially liked the opening page, with the little chibi artwork of Motormout and Killpower. It’s adorable. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Cliquet.
Fantastic Four #2, by James Robinson and Leonard Kirk. (I’ll be honest, I’m starting to get a little worn down at this point by all the reviews this week. So many books!) Monsters have broken out of the Baxter Building. And blown up the top three floors. Apparently, they come from Franklin’s Counter-Earth. The Fantastic Four go out to deal with them, but Reed’s deeply troubled by more than just the monsters. All the heroes in New York are also out dealing with the monsters. We see Wasp, Blue Marvel, Giant Man, Mach VII (or VIII or whatever number he’s on), Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Captain America, Havok, Wolverine and Luke Cage. Reed captures a monster to examine it, while thinking of all sorts of questions beyond even the immediate problem. He comes up with a solution for the monsters (and we see Hawkeye, Otto-Man, Rogue and Monica). But there’s a “casualty” of sorts. So Robinson’s off to a pretty big start. New York is almost destroyed and a ton of questions are raised, and it’s only the second issue. I suspect most FF fans will probably enjoy this. For that matter, people who like Hickman should really enjoy what Robinson’s doing on Fantastic Four – there’s a bit of similarity in their writing styles, making things very large-scale, though Robinson isn’t losing track of the characters. So far, these first two issues have been very serious. I’m thinking he needs a more relaxed, fun, downtime issue fairly soon. By #5, I’d say. I suspect, given the end of this issue, the next issue will probably be a bit quieter, but still fairly serious. The question is whether Robinson will follow it with something a bit lighter, a bit more humourous. We’ll have to wait and see. Kirk does a lot of big action here, and it seems like that’s what he’s best at. As I said last time, his X-Factor work never blew me away, but X-Factor was largely a talking-heads series. His work is much, much better here.
Secret Avengers #1, by Alex Kot and Michael Walsh. We start with Fury, Jr. and Coulson on a space station with the Fury – the old Captain Britain opponent. The cybiote that actually killed Captain Britain. Then we cut back 6 hours, to Hill, Fury and Coulson preparing to go up to repair the SHIELD space station. Black Widow and Spider-Woman are at a spa. A spa with a firing range. With things like rocket launchers, a chainsaw, and Hulk Hands. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is being chased across rooftops by AIM goons. And Hill goes to visit MODOK’s Lair of Mad Science. MODOK is entertaining. Hawkeye tries to hide from AIM, and finds himself in a steam room. And soon he’s naked in front of Widow and Spider-Woman. This issue winds up being mostly hilarious insanity, but there’s also a lot of dark stuff going on, such as a guy infiltrating SHIELD and planning to kill Maria Hill.The art is good. It’s not as cartoonish as the cover suggests – it’s very similar to the previous volume of Secret Avengers. So this is pretty good. But not great. It’s got a long way to go to be great. I can’t recommend this yet.
Avengers Undercover #1, by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker. We start with a news report about Arena, and Arcade becoming a viral video sensation and a household name. Hazmat is in a fast food place, overhearing some other teens talk about it, including one guy badmouthing her. Apparently, she doesn’t need her radiation suit any more, for some reason. Pym, Richards, McCoy – none of the top Marvel scientists could figure out how to help her control her powers. The future versions of her we saw couldn’t control her powers. But apparently, somehow, the fact that she blew up means she has control now. Sure, that makes sense. Anyway. Chase is using his Internet notoriety to do the talk show circuit, and is generally acting like a douchebro. Nico shows up to tell him off for it. Chase tells her off for cutting herself off from the other Runaways. Deathlocket is in a SHIELD facility, where they’re trying to deweaponize her. It’s not working. The tech talks about being a fan of her. Cammi’s reunited with her mother. Cullen’s hunting Arcade, who’s gone completely off the radar. This is meh. There’s a lot to dislike about it. Hazmat conveniently getting control of her powers. Chase becoming a fame whore. The fact that no one knows where Arcade is – you’d think a bunch of teens being kidnapped and forced into death games would get every damned hero on the planet pretty damned invested in finding Arcade. I find it hard to believe that anyone, no matter how clever, could hide from that many determined heroes for very long. We don’t even see how the adult heroes react to this. I’ll be surprised if we really see them at all, even though Pym and Tigra, and Captain Britain, should be so guilt-ridden about not having done more to help their students that they’d make the surviving students their top priorities. I suspect this series will probably be very light on death, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Arena had enough disgusting deaths. I won’t be reviewing any more issues of this series. Not unless it does something that genuinely impresses me. I do want to say one thing. It seems like PTSD is going to be a major element of this series. But PTSD was already handled extremely well in Academy. A series that Hopeless wound up making largely pointless. And actually, I have another complaint: There’s no way YouTube would allow what is effectively a snuff film to remain up. No way. It would be taken down immediately. And I also find it doubtful that many people would actually enjoy watching it. I know it’s meant as a commentary on reality TV and all that crap, and possibly even a commentary on the reading audience that made Arena successful, but the fact is, very few people would actually enjoy seeing people die. Most people would be disgusted at videos of real people being murdered, no matter how the videos are presented. If they know real people died, it’s going to keep them from enjoying it. Because while people may be bastards, they’re not monsters. I find the sheer level of cynicism in this comic to be, quite frankly, unbelievable. It’s beyond what I can accept. If something like MurderWorld existed in the real world, and videos of it were posted online, they would be met with outrage. Some people would watch out of a morbid fascination, and some might even forget for a few minutes that they’re watching something real, but they would remember, and they would be ashamed of what they watched.
I also want to mention that Mighty Avengers #8 is amazing. So amazing. Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti are both brilliant.