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X-Men comics (March 19, 2014)

March 19, 2014

I’m very upset that Pretty Deadly’s been pushed back another two weeks. It’s so unfair. Well, here’s what I’ve got for this week.

Uncanny X-Men #19, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. Hijack wakes up in his Atlanta apartment, and finds Maria Hill and some SHIELD agents waiting for him. Mystique shows Sabretooth where Dazzler is strapped to a bed and sedated. Hill tries to get information from Hijack, and Mystique gets blood from Dazzler for Mutant Growth Hormone. Then we cut to Eva talking to Scott. She’s not sure she can tell him what happened in Tabula Rasa, but a powerful new mutant shows up on Cerebro, so the conversation’s cut short to deal with that. The team teleports to Chicago, and fight Sentinels. So, it turns out that Magik’s visits with Strange in the past? She’s been learning some new magic. Way to go, Illyana. This was good. Some good character stuff, we learned a bit about what’s happening with Dazzler (poor Ali!), the Sentinel fight was exciting. There was also some really good jokes. Goldballs really needs to work on his wording. “My balls are broken!” I laughed. Was it childish? Yes. But it was also hilarious. I’m still not a fan of Bachalo, but Bendis does a great job, advancing multiple story threads while also providing some character development and some clever dialogue. I love what he’s doing with Magik. I’d love it if she got a solo title, where she got to use her snazzy new spells to kick some ass. But of course, that’s just crazy talk. The X-office doesn’t give solo ongoings to female characters any more. They only give solo titles to straight white men.

X-Men #12, by Brian Wood and Kris Anka. Ana Cortes is dead. Her body has apparently been refurbished to house Madelyne Pryor. The X-Men arrive at the Sisterhood’s headquarters. Monet enters first, smashing straight through and into Amora. It’s pretty awesome. Monet, in telling Amora to stay down, mentions how much death sucks. Even Amora’s impressed. Psylocke goes after Typhoid Mary. Rachel and Storm confront Arkea, Selene and Maddie. Maddie attacks Rachel telepathically. Psylocke kicks Mary’s ass physically and verbally. It’s pretty great. I love Psylocke as a snarker. Storm convinces Selene and Maddie to walk away – nice. That leaves Arkea all alone to deal with Storm, Monet, Rachel, and a very angry Karima. Anka’s art is a bit odd. There are times where characters are missing noses. He needs just a bit more detail to his work. It’s great stuff, for the most part, it just needs to be tightened up a bit. The writing is excellent. I love that Maddie and Selene decide they just don’t particularly give a damn about Arkea. It feels kinda weird to have this Arkea plotline over with. It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it. I’m looking forward, though, to seeing what Wood does next. For now, though, there’s the section drawn by Clay Mann. Jubilee pulls herself together and starts ripping up a Sentinel to keep the Arkea virus distracted while Quire takes over the Sentinels to make them blow themselves up. And Mercury and Bling! come to an understanding. Turns out Mercury actually didn’t have a problem with the idea of going out with Roxy, Roxy just went about it in a bad way – “weird creepy notes” left on Mercury’s door. Aw, I knew Cessily wasn’t a homophobe! She’s too nice to have a problem with a girl asking her out. But stalkery notes – that I can understand having a problem with. I hope Wood doesn’t just drop those two now. I hope they remain an ongoing subplot. They’ll make a cute couple. Mann’s art in this section is good. Wood’s writing is fine. But it’s very quick and to-the-point. It really does feel like it was just tying up the Bling/Mercury subplot.

Wolverine and the X-Men #2, by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar. We start with some guy named Edan Younge, CEO of the Phoenix Corporation, monologuing about the Phoenix. He looks pretty young. Like he might be in his late teens. If that’s true, and Latour is going with yet another teenage corporate villain, then this book can rot in Hell. Dammit, Latour, we got enough of that shit with the Hellfire Brats, don’t repeat that mistake. Wolverine’s pissed at the Phoenix symbol sent to all the screens at the end of last issue, and Storm gets pissed at him for wanting to leave to chase after whoever did it. He says he has to stand up to anyone who thinks they can walk over the X-Men, which is a little irritating considering the Schism was caused by Scott saying they needed to stand up to anyone who tried to push mutants. Idie interrupts their argument to let them know Quentin’s run away. Good, let him go. And never come back. But nope, then we have to see where he’s run off to. Back at the school, Anole – now the CEO of Worthington Industries, because sure, what could possibly go wrong having a teenager head up a major multinational corporation what the hell is wrong with this series that it keeps wanting to make teenagers into businessmen?! – gives some information about Phoenix Corporation. Quire goes to see them. Armour talks to the other students, and Idie acts completely out of character. I’m not sure if this is just how Latour’s going to write her from now on, or if there’s some reason for how she’s speaking. But it’s not Idie. It’s not the Idie from Generation Hope, certainly. That Idie wouldn’t swear. She wouldn’t be such an unbearable bitch. But, sadly, the Idie from Generation Hope is gone. The interesting, compelling character has been replaced with something far, far less interesting. This issue’s lame. The writing is better than in the previous volume, but it’s still an incredibly lame book. It’s just not worth bothering with. Skip this. Skip it until they get a better writer on here. Let’s get Kathryn Immonen to write it. Or Christos Gage. Or anyone not named Jason, because I’m seriously just starting to think that no one with that name should write an X-title.

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

First, Ms. Marvel #2, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. It’s finally out! Hurrah! We start with Kamala freaking out a little bit about having transformed into Ms. Marvel. Then she changes back to normal. Then she partly transforms, and goes back to normal. She tries to transform on purpose, but fails. Zoe and Josh show up, and Kamala shrinks down out of sight, which is cool until she sees a cockroach. Josh is a drunken idiot, and accidentally drops Zoe into the water. Kamala remembers a Quran verse: “Whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind, and whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.” That’s a great phrase, I think. So, yeah, Kamala embiggens (she actually says “Embiggen!”), changes to Ms. Marvel, and saves Zoe, by making her hand into a giant scoop. She escapes a handful of admiring fans, and then “disembiggens” her hand. Kamala’s so adorable. She has a realization about being a hero (and that leotards give major wedgies), and sneaks back into her room, where she has to confront her parents. This issue was awesome. Kamala is adorable, and her struggles are totally relatable. Her faith remains a major part of who she is, but it’s not being pushed. Her family continues to be really interesting. Her brother shows how much he loves her, but also shows a bit of snark. (I remember a lot of speculation that her brother would end up becoming a villain. I think this issue should actually put an end to most of that speculation – it’s clear that he’s a good guy, who cares deeply about his sister.) Zoe and Josh were good, too – Josh was a bit of a dick while drunk, but that’s not terribly unusual, and he wasn’t trying to be malicious or anything, and he did freak out when Zoe fell in the water. Zoe, meanwhile, I suspect may have some depth to her. She wasn’t happy at all with how Josh was behaving, which suggests that she’s not an idiot. The art is really fun and cute. Alphona gives a real sense of weirdness to it all, as well as a few nice minor gags. (When Kamala scoops Zoe out of the water, there’s also a box of “Sal’s Used Cheese” and a bottle of “Free Range Maple Syrup” – and a very scared fish, who gets very angry at being left on the dock; when she’s climbing the tree to get back to her room, she knocks down a squirrel; and in her room is a book called “All Sorts of Math”). It’s a really fun style. This series is quickly establishing itself as a must-read. It takes a lot of the classic teen hero tropes, and gives them a modern twist. The use of “embiggen” makes me remember when that episode of The Simpsons came out. That was a great episode. I remember when it came out on account of me being so very, very old. Anyway, awesome issue. Definitely, definitely check this out.

Revolutionary War: Warheads, written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, art by Gary Erskine. We start with a quick recap of Kether Troop – Colonel Liger’s team in Warheads – and their final mission to Hell. Liger goes to the Master Key, a guy who can open portals, to get him to open one to Hell. The pair go to MI:13’s London headquarters, but Psycho-Wraiths show up. Liger and the Key go to the 13th floor to use the portal there. It doesn’t go well. This was good. Good writing, good art. If you’ve been reading the rest of this event, then this issue’s an important one, as it explains some earlier stuff, and sets up the big finale. If you haven’t been reading this event, then, well . . . not much point in starting now. And as an aside, Dark Angel – Shevaun – shows up in Iron Man this week. She’s not in costume, so I don’t know if her powers are gone. But she’s there. Which is cool. I love that Gillen brought her in.

All-New Invaders #3, by James Robinson and Steve Pugh. We start three days ago, with Tanalth kicking Namor’s ass. Then we cut to Namor meeting the Supreme Intelligence. Namor’s snark is pretty good. In the present, Cap and Torch go to Avengers Mansion. Cap mentions calling the X-Men about Legion’s run-in with Aarkus, despite that, um, no longer having happened. I guess Robinson wrote this issue without knowing how Legacy would end. This is why it’s important to have close contact between editors, if not writers. Anyway, Cap and Torch call up Thor, who says the God’s Whisper no longer works on the Asgardians, due to a spell by Freyja. Bucky finds Aarkus and asks his help, and Aarkus agrees. They’re going to need a lot of smoke for Aarkus to take them to Hala, so Torch blows up a Quinjet. It’s what Quinjets do best, after all. This was good. It’s a good comic. The story’s interesting. The art’s good. The characterization’s good. This is actually sorta what the Avengers should be. It’s got the epic feel, but it keeps the characters at the centre of it all. The story is about them, but the stakes are still big. As an aside, the letters page reveals something I’m happy about: Issues 6 and 7 will reveal a new Japanese legacy character. I’m glad that there’s going to be someone showing up who isn’t a straight white man. I still say America Chavez should be brought in. I also think it’d be really cool if Hammond was revealed as being pansexual – of not caring about gender when it comes to love. Regardless, I at least hope the new Japanese character becomes a permanent member of the team, rather than just a guest character. Because I really am uncomfortable with this team being comprised entirely of straight white men, and I think it needs to add a little bit of diversity on a permanent basis. (And Chavez would be such a perfect addition. She’d even be fairly simple to bring in – all it would take is an arc involving the need to travel to another dimension. Come on, Robinson, bring her in!)

Avengers World (I hate that meme) #4, written by Nick Spencer and Jonathan Hickman, art by Stefano Caselli. This issue follows Starbrand in the City of the Dead. Hawkeye tells Starbrand not to touch anything. Starbrand says he still hears voices, saying they’re dead. They come to a black river, out of which come tar-people. Starbrand is lured away by a voice, and he follows it, and finds himself in his old high school. On the Helicarrier, Banner is telling Cap the Avengers need a magic guy. Hill brings in an astral projection of Sebastian Druid – he’s cool. I like him. He realizes that it’s right before the White Event that made him blow the school up. (I just checked back to Avengers #7. It’s explicitly said that it was a college he blew up, not a high school. So either they’re trying to retcon it, or they didn’t fact-check their own damned books. Either way, sloppy.) He’s confronted with all the people he killed when his powers activated. I normally try to avoid spoiling the endings of issues, but this one had a reveal that excites me too much to keep it in. Morgan Le Fay! Morgan Le Fay shows up! Yay! Hurrah! I love Morgan. She’s a great villain. It’s a shame that she’s not going to get the focus she deserves here. She probably won’t even show up for the next three issues. This is a well-written issue. It does some great work with Starbrand. But . . . it’s not going to amount to anything if it’s not followed up on, and soon. And that, so far, remains the problem with this series. There hasn’t been a single bit of follow-up with any of the spotlight characters so far. Smasher was taken over by AIM, but that hasn’t been mentioned again. Shang-Chi was thrown off a giant dragon; how long will we have to wait to find out how he gets saved? This book is well-written, but it’s going about it in the wrong way.

From → 2014

  1. Say what you will about Jason Aaron’s run on Wolverine and the X-men, but at least he had a decent handle on Idie as a character. Her characterization here sound atrocious. Makes me glad I didn’t try this or the first issue. And yeah, a teenaged CEO with no family connection to the business sounds utterly ridiculous.

    I was kind of disappointed by this week’s X-men, but it was kind of awesome that the Sisterhood gave up on Arkea.

    Ms. Marvel was brilliant though, and Uncanny X-Men was very good.

    • Aaron had a terrible grasp on Idie. Awful. He ruined her as a character. She went from being deep and complex and compelling to a two-dimensional caricature. What Aaron did to Idie was one of the things I hated most about that run.

      • I didn’t think it was that bad, but I’ll agree he didn’t write her nearly as well as Gillen did. And at least he didn’t have her spouting profanity though.

  2. someone permalink

    Once again Bends work is carp just like with Guardians of the Galaxy, where he writes Gladiator out character. Wait may I not looking at this the right way, let get into the right mind set. Humans breaking the law and endangering other’s bad. Mutants breaking the law and endangering other’s good, because mutants are an elite class. #Sigh* I can only hope that Marvel takes Carol away from Bendis mid arc and toss out anything he does with her.

    • Gladiator’s behaviour doesn’t really bother me here. As far as mutants breaking the law, I disagree that Bendis is necessarily painting that as good. What he’s doing is showing it as complicated. He’s showing why Scott’s team feels justified in what they’re doing, and why some people support him. But the newest issue also shows why people oppose him. I think Bendis is actually very fond of moral ambiguity – he likes showing how, a lot of the time, multiple sides of an issue can be entirely valid.

      As for Carol, he’s unlikely to do anything particularly major with the character, any more than he did with Iron Man earlier in the run. These characters have solo titles where their development will primarily take place. I suspect what Bendis will do with Carol will mostly come down to kicking ass and making jokes. I’m hoping he’s worked out some plans with DeConnick. He seems to be a writer who likes working with other writers, and he’s actually friends with DeConnick, so it’s entirely possible there will be some neat synergy between GotG and Captain Marvel. I hope so.

      • G'kar permalink

        That may have sound a lot more hash then I intended I apologize for any offence. On a lighter note Captain Marvel # 1 was awesome. You may be right about Bendis trying to go for moral ambiguity, but it seems to me he’s just writing Shield s as incompetent clowns to justify Scott’s position.

      • No offence taken; I wasn’t the one being insulted, Bendis was. I do disagree that SHIELD is being written as incompetent. I think it’s a matter of Scott being a very, very good tactician. Bendis has always had a pretty clear love for Maria Hill, so he’s making her come across pretty well, to me. And of course, the next arc is almost certainly going to have Scott and his team find themselves in danger of losing to SHIELD at a couple points.

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  1. timewantsaskeleton | Uncanny X-Men #19.NOW
  2. The Comic-Verse: Awesome Art & The Top 15 Featured Links (03/15/14-03/21/14) | The Speech Bubble

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