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X-Men comics (April 16, 2014)

April 18, 2014

Extra-long weekend! Hurrah! I’ll probably go tomorrow to watch Winter Soldier. But for today, comics.

First, Uncanny X-Men #20, by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo. We start with Maria Hill asking David Bond (Hijack) where Scott Summers is. A SHIELD agent tells her Scott was just seen in Chicago, being attacked by Sentinels. Back on the Helicarrier, Scott shows up in her head, asking about the Sentinels. She says SHIELD has nothing to do with it, and the Cuckoos confirm that she doesn’t know where they’re coming from, though they also say she’s worried SHIELD might have something to do with it that’s hidden from her. (They also mention that Hill’s very attracted to Scott. I love the Cuckoos.) Scott’s still not sure he believes her, and tells her they’re now at war until she can prove that she’s not responsible for the Sentinels. In Madripoor, Blob busts into Mystique’s warehouse, where she’s hidden Dazzler. He needs another hit of MGH. So now we know how he got his powers back. Cool. And then back at the NXS, Scott says they’re being tracked through Cerebro tech, and he goes to pay a visit to the Beast. The adult Beast. This is really good. There’s not much action in this issue, as it’s mostly just laying the groundwork for the arc, but it does a great job with it. Hill gets some nice focus here (also, there’s a few people who now ship Scott and Hill). The scene in Madripoor is cool, and I’m glad that storyline is still moving forward, however slowly. Bachalo’s art is fine here. If you like his art, you’ll like it here, if you don’t, you probably won’t. It didn’t really bother or distract me. I’m excited for this arc. It should be a lot of fun. I’m also curious who domehead is, making the Sentinels.

X-Men #13, by Brian Wood and Clay Mann. Some guys busts out of a secret prison. He’s quite the badass. And he’s looking for his infant son. At the JGS, Monet is sparring with Rockslide. And scaring him a lot. She’s very intense. Psylocke and Storm talk about the team drifting, with Psylocke saying she misses the Storm who gave Scott the finger during the Proto-Mutant situation. She thinks Storm should just make them an official team. Storm says she doesn’t have the mandate to do that, and Psylocke just says to own the mandate. Jubilee takes Shogo to Beast for a check-up. Rachel is in the security office, thinking back on John Sublime leaving. He says that they killed his sister. In the present, she says he killed her mother. And on the front lawn, the students are playing softball. Yay! Softball game! We don’t get enough of those. Surge is at bat. I’ve missed Surge. I hope Wood keeps her showing up. There’s a second story, too, with art by Phil Briones. Hellion gets Rockslide, Anole and – unfortunately – Broo to form their own team, starting with some Danger Room training. They step out into a field of flowers, with a whole lot of medieval-style weapons on a rack. Then an army shows up, Rockslide estimates about 10 000. Archers, infantry, cavalry, heavy siege equipment. Rockslide also apparently plays RPGs. Also, the Danger Room safeties have been disabled, and the program won’t shut down. I’m actually really eager to see where this one goes. Both parts of the issue are really good. It’s a cool story being set up. This is obviously going to be an arc about Jubilee and Shogo, which is fine by me, because that whole story’s so sweet and heartwarming. I’m hoping the New X-Men get to play a major role, too. The second story does have three of them – and Broo, ugh – so that’s cool. I miss those characters. I’m glad Wood, at least, is trying to make use of them, after a couple years of Jason Aaron forgetting any of them even exist. Though Rockslide and Hellion are also showing up, at least a little bit, in Latour’s WatXM. Mann and Briones both do a good job on the art, for their respective sections. Mann’s not a favourite of mine, but he’s generally pretty good. This series remains solid.

X-Force #3, by Simon Spurrier and Rock He-Kim. This issue’s all about Psylocke. Marrow complains about having to wait for her, and ask what makes her so special, while we see Psylocke hanging out with the X-Men team. This marks the second title, outside X-Men itself, to show them as a team. I’m hoping that trend continues, and whenever an X-Men team needs to make a cameo, they go with Wood’s group. Anyway, Psylocke finally teleports to X-Force, in Brazil. She chews out Marrow for bad-mouthing her, and threatens to fry her language centres. Turns out Meme was relaying the whole thing to Psylocke’s earpiece. Meme’s pretty great. Marrow swears again, and Psylocke gets tired of it. For the rest of the issue, every time Marrow tries to swear, she says something ridiculous, without even realizing it. It’s a hilarious running gag. Meme and Psylocke both looked for Volga, but Psylocke was able to find some clues that led to Brazil. They find a facility that’s a prison for mutants. Marrow asks to be sent in to take out the guards, but Cable wants it done the quiet way. While everyone else laughs at Marrow’s ridiculous non-profanity (“What the hubbahubba?”), Psylocke goes into action. Fantomex follows her. Marrow ruins the quiet way, so they go in loud. Turns out Meme is now the team cannon. Literally – her mobile platform has some lasers that blow a hole in a wall. And then Psylocke shows how damned hardcore she is. This issue’s great. It’s all about Psylocke being addicted to killing, and trying to get over it. “I’m an addict. It has been 20 days since I last weakened.” We get a couple panels of her imagining herself slaughtering guards brutally. Of course, when she finally does weaken, we don’t get to see it, only the results. The prank she plays on Marrow is hilarious. I think my favourite case is when Marrow calls Volga an “elaborately carved narwhal pelvis.” I kind want that one to have been intentional on Marrow’s part. I’m thinking of using that one myself, whenever I need to insult someone. I also still like Meme. Her odd way of speaking could be annoying, but it actually winds up being cool. The art’s great. A fantastic style. It almost looks painted. There’s a sharpness to it that works really well. This is a great series.

Amazing X-Men #6, by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart. The X-Men throw a party welcoming Nightcrawler back, but he slips out to watch Azazel’s prison transport. He teleports back to the party. Cyclops, Emma, Kitty and Magik walk in, and Wolverine gets annoyed, even though Jason Aaron just had Scott and Wolverine talk about their differences. Like, just a couple months ago. It was one of his final issues of WatXM. And now Wolverine is back to loathing Scott. Argh. Anyway, Nightcrawler realizes the waitress is Mystique in disguise. He confronts her, and she asks about Azazel. She chases after Azazel to kill him, Kurt chases her to stop her, Azazel’s red Bamfs bust him out of the prison transport, he Bamfs away with Mystique. And she asks him to work for her. Dammit, Aaron. Not only did you bring back Azazel – one of the worst characters ever, and a key part of one of the worst stories ever – not only did you not kill him, not only did you bring him to Earth . . . you couldn’t even let him be tossed in prison? You couldn’t let him be tossed into a dark pit that he would never escape from? But you know what, I actually hope this does get followed up on. I hope Bendis makes use of Azazel. I hope that, the next time we see Azazel, he’s sedated, strapped to a bed, his powers suppressed, and blood being extracted as an additional source of Mutant Growth Hormone. It’s still better than Azazel deserves, but it would be a damned sight better than having him and Mystique actually work together. With any luck, Yost and Kyle won’t be following up on that thread. Because fuck Azazel. He was a terrible concept. This issue marks the end of Jason Aaron’s X-Men work, and I sincerely hope that he never touches the franchise again. It’s one of the worst runs in the franchise’s history. It’s up with Chuck Austen himself.

Wolverine and the X-Men #3, by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar. We start with a flashback to Genesis doing a presentation about mutant powers, and that there may be more similarities than people think. In the present, she shakes off the mind control of Big Beardy Guy Whose Name I Genuinely Could Not Care Less About Because He’s So Damned Boring. We get some blah blah blah, Wolverine wants Storm to go save Evan, she says they need to trust the school to protect him while she and Wolverine rescue Quire. Edan Younge, the CEO of the Phoenix Corp, goes into Quire’s head for a boring conversation that I don’t care about. Beardo attacks the school. I don’t care. I just honestly can’t care about anything in this book. Maybe it’s still tainted from the sheer awful of Aaron’s run. But I think it’s just a really bland, boring story that Latour’s telling, full of bland, boring characterization. And not helped by bland, boring art. I just cannot work up the energy to even hate this book. There’s just so little to it.

Wolverine #4, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. In the past he tells off the X-Men and leaves. In the present, Offer tells him he’s going to try another approach on Sabretooth, to find out what he’s after and get in his way a little, to get his attention. Wolverine says he’s been getting his confidence back, so he’s in on it. In the past, Wolverine finds the New Xavier School and tells off (and almost kills) Kitty. Then he meets up with a SHIELD LMD – the guy he shot and killed at the end of the first issue. Turns out Wolverine accepted Maria Hill’s offer after all.  This is still good. Though it’s still a Wolverine title and I don’t like Wolverine. The writing’s good, there’s plenty of twists and turns, the art’s good.

Deadpool vs. Carnage #2, by Cullen Bunn and Silva Espin. Carnage tortures Deadpool, until Deadpool turns it around a bit with some Dubstep, and then some incendiary grenades. It’s still not enough to put Carnage away, but Carnage and Shriek do fly away (after Carnage disembowels Deadpool). Deadpool goes to a storage locker but learns it’s been auctioned off. To some fat guy. Who’s apparently crazy enough to help track Carnage. This means getting a flatbed semi with a big wheat thresher on the back, driven by Deadpool, right onto the car Carnage has stolen. This is OK. Kinda fun, even if the whole scene with the fat guy made me roll my eyes. The violence is neat, at least.

That’s the X-titles. Now the Now! stuff.

Ms. Marvel #3, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. A news report talks about Kamala (as Ms. Marvel) rescuing Zoe. Kamala sees the report while eating a bowl of GM-O’s cereal (Listen to your gut, not the lawsuits”). Bruno catches the news report on a TV at an electronics store, but he’s mostly annoyed at his brother for not answering his phone the previous night. Kamala tries to search the web to find out what happened to her (including pinning an article to her wall from Fluffington Post, and I want that site to exist), then she and her brother go to a Masjid for a youth lecture from the local sheikh. Kamala tries to talk to Nakia about what happened, but doesn’t give any details, and when they get to the Circle Q, she decides she’s still too mad at Bruno to talk to him. On Monday, in school, she’s still mad at Bruno, who tells his brother about a science project he did for his Rutgers scholarship – a biokinetic polymer that makes stretchy stuff even stretchier. (His instructions for making it: !. Get the stuff. 2. Mix the stuff.) Kamala’s power starts acting up, and she runs and finds her way to the girls’ locker room, where she experiments a bit more with her power. And causes a huge mess. And gets detention. After detention, she goes to the Circle Q to see Bruno, but it’s getting robbed. This series continues to be a pure delight. Kamala’s adorable. We learn a little bit more about Bruno. The writing and characterization are great. Everyone feels like real people. Wilson’s telling a great story. She’s hitting a lot of the normal notes for a teen superhero origin story, but she’s doing an exceptional job at it, and there’s enough twists and variations on it to keep it fresh and interesting. The scene in the Masjid, where Kamala asks the Sheikh about the partition, was really good. Alphona’s art adds a lot of fun to everything, too. Characters are expressive, with the cartoonish style allowing Alphona to exaggerate for effect. He also fills the book with lots of little visual gags. The GM-O’s cereal and Fluffington Post, as I mentioned earlier. But there’s so much stuff like that. Every time I take another flip through the issue, I find something I missed. It makes for a hilarious read, and rewards very, very close examination. This is rocketing up the list of Marvel’s best titles. (You know what would make the book even better? If, after this arc ends, they got Emma Rios to do a couple fill-issues as guest artist. Please?)

Hulk #1, by Mark Waid and Mark Bagley. A top brain surgeon is brought in to operate on Bruce Banner. The doctor apparently went to university with Banner, though they weren’t friends or anything. The surgeon does wonder if maybe things would’ve turned out different if he had befriended Banner back then. When he’s asked to add an implant into Banner’s brain, which can trigger the Hulk’s transformation by remote control, he hesitates. He learns it wasn’t SHIELD who brought him in, and he doesn’t want to give the people that sort of power, but he’s also sworn not to take a life. The decision is taken out of his hands when the anesthesiologist wakes Banner up. Turns out Hulk saved her and her family from Zzaxx back in the day. This issue’s pretty good. The ending is a bit of a surprise. We’ll see how that develops. Waid sets up a new evil organization for Hulk to deal with. Again, we’ll see how that shakes out. This is a well-written comic, the only real question is whether the story will be good in the long run.

And finally, What If: Age of Ultron #3, by Joe Keatinge and Raffaele Ienco. This issue has Thor die, during his epic 1987 battle with Jormungand, the World Serpent. (Aside, I just read that story. So frigging epic. There’s an especially awesome moment at the end of the preceding issue, when Thor delivers a badass speech.) With Thor dead, the Serpent conquers the planet. A month later, the only heroes left are Fury, Silver Sable, Black Widow, Shang-Chi and Falcon, with Microchip helping out. (Microchip hadn’t actually appeared in the comics at that point. Oh well.) I’m angry that the artist gave Black Widow high heels. Why would she wear high heels into battle? She’s a martial artist. She has an acrobatic combat style. Balance is key. Heels are not known for helping with balance. She also has her zipper pulled way too far down. Ienco is overly-sexualizing her, and it’s frustrating. Artists need to be better than that. The story itself isn’t too bad. Not great, but not bad. But the way Black Widow’s drawn detracts from it.


From → 2014

  1. In some ways, I’d prefer a bad comic over a forgettable one (this week’s Amazing X-Men 6 vs. Wolverine and the X-men 3). Not that I enjoy the bad ones, but at least they give you something to talk about. I didn’t notice that thing about Wolverine’s conflict with Cyclops, but then again i dropped Aaron’s WATXM the second Battle of the Atom ended.

    Age of Ultron 3? It sounds alright, but I hate it when bad art ruins an otherwise decent story. It’s just … some artists don’t know how to not turn women into fetishes.

    At least for me, the Marvel comic of the week is between Uncanny X-Men 20 and Ms. Marvel 3.

  2. Issue 3 was drawn by Mico Suayan. Raff Ienco drew the last three pages.

    • Oh, my bad. If it means anything, those last three pages were the best-looking in the issue.

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