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X-Men comics (April 2, 2014)

April 2, 2014

I’m now done with classes! I have three weeks of placement at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (which will be either really cool, or kinda soul-crushing), and then school will be over and done with. So, from now on, my reviews probably won’t be up on Wednesdays any more.

This week was very light on X-Men titles. But it did have Pretty Deadly #5! Woot! I’ve been waiting for this one. It was delayed repeatedly – it was originally due out at the end of February. But as much as I hated the delays, all the frustration disappeared as soon as I opened the comic. I think I might do a fuller review of the series later this week, but man, so, so good. Kelly Sue DeConnick is a fantastic writer, and Emma Rios is an incredible artist, and they crafted one of the most gorgeous stories I’ve ever read. The wait for volume 2 is going to be rough. (I’m also eagerly anticipating KSD’s next Image series, Bitch Planet. It’s Women-In-Prison – IN SPACE!)

Anyway, the comics of the week.

First, Magneto #2, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta. We start with a woman who was in the police station Magneto attacked, talking about the attack, and comparing him to a tornado that enjoyed what it did. Magneto has traveled to the tent community the Omega Sentinel he killed originally came from, before he was taken. It reminds him of Warsaw in 1942. He talks to a guy named Samuel, who tells him about the people who come for the residents. Magneto fights them. He’s ruthless and brutal. I’m liking this book. It’s not bad. This is a very anti-hero take on Magneto – even borderline villain. And as always, he tries to justify it with his experiences in the Holocaust. And the brief glimpse we get of that was very good. The casual horror of it all.I’m not keen on Walta’s art, though it’s a matter of personal taste.

Deadpool vs. Carnage #1, by Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin. We start on the Kansas State Line, at a diner at Bunn’s Truck Stop, where a State Trooper is complaining about a newspaper article on Carnage’s latest killing spree. Naturally, Carnage is sitting right beside him. Deadpool hears about the massacre on the news. A federal agent says Carnage is striking at random. Deadpool, channel-surfing, comes to the realization that he’s the only one crazy enough to find Carnage. By seeing random things, he eventually realizes Carnage is in an abandoned housing development. And then the fight starts. This is OK. Not great, not bad. Some good violence, once it starts. I feel like Bunn should just let Espin draw as much violence as possible.

And . . . that’s the X-titles. I told you, it’s an oddly light week. It’s pretty heavy, though, with Now! titles.

She-Hulk #3, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido. We start with Kristoff Vernard repeating his request to She-Hulk for asylum within the US. He’s kind of a dick about it, which makes sense, given he’s a dictator/supervillain’s son. He also mentions that she’s the fifteenth firm he asked – turns out going against Doom isn’t something the average lawyer wants to do. Kristoff doesn’t want to be a reflection of Doom – he wants the chance to find out who he is on his own – and he can’t do that in Latveria, which is why he wants to defect to the US. They head to a federal court to file the asylum papers – She-Hulk gets a rush appointment because she saved a judge’s niece from Skrulls once – but Kristoff’s chauffeur turns out to be a Doombot. Kristoff’s casual attitude to it is hilarious. Eventually, at the courthouse, they’re surrounded by Doombots. Hellcat’s there, with a glorious one-liner. Yay for Hellcat! This issue’s hilarious. Soule brings a great humour to the series. There’s also plenty of action in this issue, which Pulido draws well. When the fighting starts, Pulido bulks She-Hulk up a lot, which is an interesting touch. And in general, Pulido complements the humour well. Still, the real draw is Soule’s writing. As I said, it’s packed with fantastic jokes. For example, when She-Hulk picks up Kristoff, and he exclaims, “You dare!” Then adds, “My apologies. A reflex.” This series is really, really fun, and just a joy to read.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #3, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett. This is an Old Loki issue. He travels into the past and meets a young Odin. Loki kills a large, friendly otter, for meat and its fur. Later, they reach an inn, and learn that they killed Otr, a Vanir. His family gets ready to kill them, until Loki convinces them instead to take a ransom of gold. Loki goes to take the gold of Andvari the Dwarf, who had taken the form of a giant pike. He kills the dwarf, though the dwarf curses the gold to force the truth out of him. But Loki had no intention of lying about how he got the gold – and I’m not going to spoil how he accomplished it, except to say that it is hilarious. By the way, one of the brothers of Otr – his name was Fafnir. Long-time Thor readers will recognize that name. The other brother was Regin, who crafted the sword Gram in order to kill Fafnir, and gave the sword to Sigurd to do the deed. This story is . . . so, so weird. But so cool. This is very much following along Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery run, and it’s fascinating stuff. The power of story continues to be a major theme, as does scheming. Old Loki’s schemes are complex and evil, and involve killing giant otters and fish. The art’s great. Garbett’s a great choice of artist. His style matches the tone of the writing very well.

New Warriors #3, by Christopher Yost and Marcus To. We start with a brief overview of the Celestials, as the High Evolutionary explains to Nova what he’s doing and why. The Evolutionaries return with prisoners – Water Snake, Kaine and Aracely. In New York, cops have pulled guns on the Inhuman kid, Mark. Justice gets everyone out with a telekinetic bubble, and he has a brief and rather interesting spat with Sun Girl. She thinks Mark should embrace being an Inhuman, Justice tries to tell her she can’t understand what it’s like, because she can take off her gear. It’s interesting having the black girl telling the white guy that the Asian kid should be proud of who and what he is. I side with her. Back at the High Evolutionary’s base, Sam, Kaine, Aracely and Faira have some really, really weird interactions. Which is par for the course where Aracely’s concerned. Kaine escapes his bubble by getting spiders to chew through the cables, and he frees the others. But not for long. This is good. The separate threads are coming together. Now, there’s only two threads – two different groups. The characters are all well-written with interesting and unique voices. There’s a good blend of drama and humour, characterization and action. The art’s solid, too. I’;m enjoying this series.

Black Widow #5, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. Black Widow contacts a French spy for some information about Molot Boga, “the Hammer of God.” She finds him about to blow up a passenger jet with a rocket launcher. She prevents it from being a direct hit, but the wing’s hit, so the plane crashes. She manages to kill Boga by shooting him so he gets sucked into the jet engine. Then she finds the plane had only one passenger. Who dies in custody. The French woman from earlier contacts Widow again and tells her to go near Montenegro. This issue is an exercise in frustration, which is the whole point of it. Widow’s frustration pours off the page from her narration. She’s angry at how little intel they have, how little they know about what’s going on. It leaves the reader wanting just as badly to know what’s going on. So, the issue works. The art’s pretty, too, as usual. This will be the last issue I review of this series, but I definitely recommend picking it up. It’s a good read. Very good series. It’s treating the character well.

Moon Knight #2, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. We follow the last moments of 8 business people. On each page, one of them dies. So it’s 8 pages of people getting shot in the head without warning. It’s actually a really cool sequence. And then we get our first glimpse of Moon Knight’s new costume. He’s added a lot of black to it. It’s OK. I think I prefer his classic costume – there’s something a bit off about this new one. He chases after the sniper who shot the people, and they fight. The sniper complains about how the people he killed screwed him over, and there’s still one left. The ending is . . . crazy. This is dark, and cynical, and very Warren Ellis. Shalvey does a good job on the art, drawing one hell of a fight. This issue’s a done-in-one, and the main point seemed to be to show Moon Knight in his new costume, but the story was still really good. Ellis is showing some clear anti-authoritarian views in these first two issues, showing people who were screwed by the system, and reacted poorly. This issue doesn’t show any of Moony’s personal problems, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty of those soon. It’s hard not to recommend anything written by Warren Ellis, really, so yeah, this is worth picking up.

Punisher #4, by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. Punisher’s being tortured by Electro. Meanwhile, the Howling Commandos are told to kill Punisher. Back at the warehouse, Punisher pushes himself out the window to the floor below, forcing the leader of the Del Sol to retreat. He does blow up the warehouse with Punisher still inside, though. There’s also a nice surprise on the last page that may force me to keep reviewing this series a little longer. I’ve never particularly cared about the Punisher, so I don’t feel like saying much about this. It’s a good series, and a pretty good take on the character. The art’s very good. If you like the Punisher, it’s worth reading. But if you like the Punisher, you’re probably reading this already. I’d planned to make this the last issue I review. I may need to review a few more, based on the character who appears on the final page.

Inhuman #1, by Charles Soule and Joe Madureira. So . . . this was delayed quite a bit. Really, this should have come out a couple months ago, to capitalize on the Inhumanity momentum. The delays have put the story at a disadvantage off the bat. We start in Bergen, Norway, with a guy named Kristian getting his ass kicked by a big dude named Bjorn. Then when Kristian leaves the bar, the terrigen mist transforms him. His cocoon is picked up by Lash. Lash brings the cocoon to a mountain and explains the whole Inhuman thing. In New York, Eldrac, the Inhuman door, is found, and Medusa asks him to teleport her to Black Bolt. In Des Plaines, Illinois, an old woman is cocooned, as is her son. The sister is not. In Norway, Kristian hatches, and is a freak, and Lash kills him. Then he teleports to Des Plaines. This is pretty good. Soule does a good job. There’s some good characterization, some nice tender moments with the Des Plaines family. The overall story isn’t really Soule’s idea, so we’ll see how he handles it. This is a promising start. And Soule does deserve some congratulations for being put on such a high-profile project so early in his Marvel career. Madureira’s art is good – the heaviness matches the tone of the story fairly well. I’m not a particular fan of Joe Mad, but he does a good job here.

What If: Age of Ultron #1, by Joe Keatinge and Raffaele Ienco. I was something of a lone voice in praise of Age of Ultron. While it had some problems, I found it to be a genuinely well-written, compelling story. I honestly, sincerely enjoyed it, and I think it’s the best Avengers event of the past decade. So now, we have a What If mini about it. We start years ago, with Janet telling Hank she supports his Ultron project. Then she passes out when time breaks. Then we cut to 25 years later, a giant hole in Russia. Hank Pym is writing a letter to Janet. He talks about finding old Cold War propaganda films about Captain America – the first human face he’d seen in over 9000 days. It’s been 9131 days since he lost Janet. When he lost her, Hank apparently kinda snapped, and developed Ultron into something more. It killed the Avengers. Then, in a month, it eradicated humanity, leaving Hank the only one alive. At the edge of the hole, he finds an Ultron-centipede thing. It’s pretty creepy. Bravo to Ienco with that. Pym breaks it, because he’s a badass. Then he’s attacked by a horde of Ultrons. And then a giant Ultron hand comes out of the hole. The Ultron Central Core. This story is very, very dark. What Ifs are seldom happy. But it’s cool. There’s some really nice, moving stuff, and it gets very creepy at the end. Keatinge doesn’t have the best handle on Pym’s character, but it’s good enough for a one-off story. Ienco draws a very nice ruined hellscape. I liked this. This is already better than the idiotic AvX What If, which was just a terrible, terrible story.

From → 2014

  1. Marvel really needs to balance out their releases better. All this “Every X-Men comic in one week” needs to stop.

    On the other hand, a lot of great releases today. The consistently entertaining She Hulk, the dark yet smartly written Magneto, and the pure work of genius that is Pretty Deadly 5.

    Also, I found it funny that opposite of the last page in Magneto 2 was an advertisement for kid’s Captain America toys. That comic, and especially that last page, is certainly not for kids.

    I think what happened with Inhumanity was that Matt Fraction was originally going to write it, but he dropped out once he figured his vision was vastly different from the editors. Better to quit before it turns into a disaster, whether it be a poorly managed comic or soured relationships. The Inhumans don’t interest me all that much, but I might check this out eventually if it continues to be good.

    • Yeah, I know the story about Inhumans changing writers. I just think it kinda sucked some of the momentum out of it.

      • Something I noticed on my second reading of She Hulk. When they’re in the coffee shop, everyone in the line is looking at their cellphone – even one of the workers. It’s that extra touch of detail that makes the art work.

      • Hadn’t noticed that, but . . . that’s brilliant. I did notice that they were at the Coffee Bean (“Since 1962”) – the old coffee shop that Peter Parker and his friends always hung out at.

  2. I’m so glad that you are reading Loki: Agent of Asgard. They took a lot from real Norse myths for this one (not that I have a comprehensive frame of reference for how much they do or don’t reinterpret for Loki or Thor books). I already can’t wait for the next issue. It’s just so good. I was all giddy about #1 and a bunch of people I know were all “He looks like he’s for Twilight” “What is this” and so in this one we got the aged God of Evil… and a bunch of crazy twists. I love it.

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