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X-Men comics (April 30, 2014)

April 30, 2014

Don’t forget that this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Head down to your local comic shop and see what’s there. In addition to my normal floppies today, I also bought the TPB of Pretty Deadly. I have all five issues, but I wanted to show my support, so I bought the TPB, too. I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a gorgeous story. Anyway, this week’s comics.

First, All-New X-Men #26, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen. We start with a two-spread splash of Jean with Phoenix powers killing everyone. Immonen’s fantastic. Anyway, it was just a nightmare, and Adult Scott hears her and talks to her. (He also mentions that he could use another space adventure, and they used to do those all the time. Heh, nice.) It’s a conversation that manages to be both fun and touching at once. She also starts to make a move on him, but he turns her down flat, and tells her she’ll be working with Emma. Kitty is less than pleased at Scott going into Jean’s room alone, and tells him not to do it again. And you don’t disagree with a ninja. Outside, Angel sees Laura leaving, and tries to talk to her. She scares off a bear. A bear thinks a teenage girl is more badass than it is. And it’s right. This issue’s great. The scene between Scott and Jean is wonderful. The scene between Angel and Laura isn’t bad. And there’s lots of other little things. This issue also starts an arc with the Future Brotherhood, so hopefully, that’ll be neat. Bendis does a great job. So does Immonen, as usual. Immonen’s one of the best in the business. He gets across a lot of emotion. You can see how the characters feel, and that adds a lot of depth to the dialogue. I know a lot of people dislike this series, but I’m loving it.

X-Force #4, by Simon Spurrier and Jorge Molina. This is a Fantomex issue. He talks to Eva – apparently, it’s been a while since he did. But he needs her help, because he’s having an emotional breakdown. He talks about Anais, a spy X-Force was trailing. Controls cats, invisible to psychics, very agile, and a sixth sense. Meme got close enough to spray her with an odor that would allow Fantomex to follow her, and so began a chase. I should mention that the issue is called “Le Pew.” Very cute name. Anyway, he eventually caught up to Anais, but she got a bunch of cats to attack him. Psylocke stopped the cats. Anais dropped into a sewer, but Marrow blocked it with a grenade. Then Cable had to stop Anais. Eva tells him that he’s as fallible as anyone else, even though he’s been programmed to believe he’s perfect. (Also, he can’t speak French. He just likes the accent. Awesome. And I’m pretty sure it’s in line with Morrison, too.) Eva’s suggestion for how to get over his cognitive dissonance is pretty amusing. The whole issue is, as usual. Spurrier’s doing a great job, telling fun stories while also setting up how screwed up these characters are. This issue has little from Meme, but that’s not a big deal. It has Fantomex admitting he doesn’t speak French, and that’s good enough. Molina’s art is very different from Kim’s, but it’s actually kind of a fun change. I like both styles. Kim’s works well for darker, more violent stuff. Molina’s works well for an issue like this, with very little actual violence. I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, enough for it to be on my pull list.

Wolverine #5, by Paul Cornell and Gerardo Sandoval. Wolverine and Pinch stop some criminals who stole some drugs Wolverine needed to stop his skeleton from poisoning him. Then Lost Boy takes them to a tattoo parlour. There, we find out Pinch is a mother. We meet the tattoo artist, Pablo, whose power lets him find the perfect tattoo for someone. For Wolverine, a rose. Or, perhaps, a Rose. Kind of a nice touch. As an aside, the issue is narrated by Pinch, who obviously just thinks about Wolverine. Wolverine takes his friends to a bar, and they run into Thor. Throw down! This is good. Pinch’s uncertainty about Wolverine is a nice touch. I wonder if Wolverine will keep the tattoo once he dies and comes back and gets his healing factor back. I mean, we’re all agreed that’s what’s going to happen, right? We know he’s going to die in a few months. There’s no way he’s going to stay dead. And we know he’ll eventually get his healing factor back, simply because it’s such a major part of him. Anyway, while it’s well-written and well-drawn, I still don’t care about Wolverine.

Origin II #5, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert. Creed and Logan are preparing to sneak into Sinister’s base and kill him, while Clara looks for them to stop them from doing anything stupid. It turns out Logan isn’t interested in sneaking, and he just charges right in. He and Creed split up, and Logan finds Sinister. Sinister says Creed said where to find Logan. Logan stabs Sinister and throws him out the window, then goes to find Creed for a brawl. Clara shows up to stop it, and says all the Creed family have healing abilities. Creed says he’ll drink Sinister’s elixir and die if he can’t have Clara. Logan starts to drown him in a vat of it, which pisses Clara off enough to make her hate him. This is a good finale. Nice writing, nice art. But still Wolverine. So meh.

Uncanny Avengers Annual, by Rick Remender and Paul Renaud. We start in Mojoworld, with some studio execs wanting Mojo to pitch them something. And this leads to some admittedly pretty funny meta-text about how audiences want arty and indecipherable. Structured characters arc are out, throwing out endless mysteries that keep people lost and guessing, even when there’s no real point to it all, is in. Mojo pitches Avengers of the Supernatural – Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Blade, Man-Thing, Satana, Manphibian. The other execs ask him to make various changes – add Wolverine, add some real Avengers, add zombies, make them high school kids, do a sci-fi/horror/superhero mahs-up. So now we get to the story proper. Rogue and Wasp sunbathing by a pool, sharing gossip. Simon goes to Wanda’s room, and they have a quick bit of “will-they-won’t-they” stuff. In the pool room, Cap and Sunfire are playing pool while Wolverine and Thor are drunk. And then Ghost Rider bursts in to attack them. And then the rest of the Avengers of the Supernatural show up. The Uncanny Avengers are defeated after a one-sided battle. And now starts an utterly ridiculous segment of the UA as high school students.  For the record, I say “ridiculous” in a good way. It’s utterly bizarre, with Thor talking like . . . well, like a high school student. Thor says Janet’s being “totally lame.” It is impossible not to find that amusing. Also, the X-Men on the team wear black leather. The Avengers are the popular kids – the jocks, the cheerleaders – while the X-Men are the rebel outlaws. Awesome. Thor argues with Alex and calls him “bro.” The suits want Wanda to be forced to kill Ghost Rider, the man she loves, so Wanda visits Strange’s place (it’s apparently a role-playing night) for advice about Ghost Rider. Satana suggests Wanda roll a character with confusing powers and motivations. Then she goes out and runs into Johnny, and tells him she’s pregnant. That breaks Ghost Rider free of his slavery. And free of Johnny’s influence. Mojoworld is doomed. Doomed! And unfortunately, there are innocent slaves and tourists, so the heroes have to save it. I’ve been critical of Remender’s UA run. I’ve found it pretentious, too self-serious, too caught up in darkness and misery and Big Things and blah. This . . . this is not that. This is fun. It’s silly. And it’s really, genuinely entertaining. There’s some fun little meta-commentary throughout it. There’s Thor saying “totally lame” and “bro.” UA, as a whole, needs more issues like this. It needs more issues that are just plain, unadulterated fun. There’s still some character stuff here and there, too, but on the whole, this was clearly made to make people laugh, and it succeeds at that. I wish Remender would write like this more often.

That’s the X-titles. But there’s also a couple Now! titles.

Silver Surfer #2, by Dan Slott and Mike Allred. We start 12 years ago, with a school play of Snow White, with Dawn playing the Magic Mirror, and Eve the Queen. Eve gets annoyed at Dawn for not mimicking her movements. Adorable. So, so adorable. In the present, Silver Surfer sees Dawn in a stasis field. Dawn mentions being from Earth, which annoys the Surfer. “It’s always someone from Earth.” He goes out to fight the Never Queen. In the prison cell, one of the inmates refuses to eat the meal brought to him. Dawn does the same, saying she can’t eat their food. The guy who brought it says it’s a burger, fries and shake. She says maybe she’s vegan. They bring her Vegan apples, which she gives to a blob, that then gets acidic indigestion which eats through a wall. While the Surfer fights the Never Queen, Dawn leads the prisoners out, and finds a beating heart powering the Impericon, and changes her childhood wish. This confuses the Never Queen, and she lets the Surfer live. This is such a great series. Smart, fun, sweet – just fantastic. It’s exactly what you’d expect of any series Mike Allred is attached to. Dan Slott’s on top of his game here, because writers just can’t seem to do badly when they’re paired with Allred. Dawn’s a fantastic character – despite being a normal woman, she’s got a lot of agency. She’s controlling her own fate. The Never Queen is a fascinating concept – it’s a new cosmic being, which can sometimes be annoying, but she’s just such a cool, innovative concept that she’s easy to accept immediately. I doubt anyone’s going to use her again, but that’s actually pretty OK. Just knowing she exists is good enough. She’s something special – it’s appropriate for her to be mysterious and unseen. I honestly really, really love the idea of the Never Queen. I know there’s plenty of people who have problems with Slott over Superior Spider-Man and his online behaviour, but this is a series that’s so good, that I think it deserves to be read, regardless of any issues you might have with Slott. This is the complete opposite of Superior Spider-Man. It’s a wonderful story Slott and Allred are telling.

Amazing Spider-Man #1, by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos. We actually start with a flashback to Peter getting his powers, and learn the spider bit someone else, too. So it’s setting up the Original Sin story. In the present, the Menagerie – White Rabbit, Hippo and Panda, and yes, this is now my favourite supervillain team ever – are running through a crowd, having stolen Faberge Eggs from an auction house. Hippo and Panda do both seem to have some degree of superstrength. Spider-Man chases them while making jokes. It’s good to have him back. Even if he’s wearing nothing but a mask, webshooters, and webbing loincloth. We cut back a few hours, to Peter giving a press conference saying he’s cut ties with Spider-Man. Anna Maria stops by Peter’s place, and finds a wedding ring Otto-Man planned to use to propose to her. We find out Electro broke out of prison – just in time for Amazing Spider-Man 2, conveniently enough, what a coincidence. At Parker Industries, Sajani tells him he needs to get rid of all his Spider-Man stuff. And that leads to him going web-swinging, where he comes across White Rabbit, Panda-mania, Hippo, and Gypsy Moth (who says she goes by Skein, but Rabbit tells her they’ve got an animal motif. I love supervillains.) Skein unravels his costume before Spider-Man knocks her out, but he’s left buck naked. It goes online immediately. Spider-Woman believes it’s Parker, because it could only happen to him. Johnny Storm laughs his ass off. Spider-Man does take down the villains. This is great. I’m not a fan of Ramos’ art, but the story itself is classic Spider-Man. Fun, funny, a bit neurotic. A nice return for Peter Parker and the Amazing Spider-Man. That’s the first story. There’s a second story by Slott and Christos Gage, with art by Javier Rodriguez. Electro goes to the Bar With No Name, and sees a bunch of villains who got costumes from Hobgoblin. Some of them smack talk him, but the bartender reminds everyone that Electro busted hundreds out of the Raft, and went a year without paying for a drink. He decides to do it again with another prison. This one’s OK. There’ a third, also by Slott and Gage, with art by Guiseppe Camuncoli. It follows Black Cat in prison, after she got busted by Otto-Man. She’s angry at him, and wants revenge. Luckily, she’s in the prison Electro blows up, and she escapes unharmed. Also an OK story. I kinda wish they’d gotten Jen Van Meter and Emma Rios to do this one – they had a fun Black Cat story a few months ago. There’s a fourth story, by Joe Caramagna and Chris Elipoulos. This is just explaining who he is and what he can do. It’s cute. Really, this was just an excuse to let Eliopoulos draw something. And I’m OK with that. It’s cute. Fifth – and there’s more to come, is Peter David and Will Sliney. This is actually a Spider-Man 2099 story. We find him after he stopped an armoured car robbery, and then he stops a a mugging. The woman he saves is ungrateful. It looks like this is setting up Spider-Man 2099. Which I’ll be buying, because Peter David. I read the original Spider-Man 2099 for a while. I liked that series. Sixth, Chris Yost and David Baldeon. Peter goes to Houston to find Kaine, and finds out he’s been possessed by the Other. Meland tells Peter about Kaine being a hero. This is a nice one, a bit of an epilogue to Yost’s Scarlet Spider run. And, finally, another story by Slott and Ramon Pérez. This is about a teen named Clayton Cole, a genius who goes to see the fight where Peter Parker defeats Crusher Hogan. He uploads a video to UTube, and then goes to see him doing a show. Clayton’s inspired to try to be just like Spider-Man. This is also interesting. Overall, this is a pretty good comic. Lots of stuff in it. Lots of humour, and lots and lots of story hooks. I’m interested in seeing what happens next. I enjoyed Superior Spider-man, but it’s nice to have Peter back. This is good, and if you like Spider-Man, it’s well worth picking up.

Hulk #2, by Mark Waid and Mark Bagley. Hill and Coulson try to figure out who shot Banner. The people who did it try to rebuild the Abomination. And Banner is finally happy. Though he has trouble opening a Tupperware container his grandma brought him a meatloaf in. They get a call to bring Banner to a local store, where some bullies start picking on Banner, until a woman alerts some other people to butt in. It’s Maria Hill in disguise! And then something is on its way to the town, and Maria has no choice but to piss Banner off. Hulk vs. Abomination! This is pretty good. I doubt I’ll bother reviewing more of this series, since it’s just a continuation of Indestructible Hulk. Same writer, so same basic series. It’s good, though. And Bagley, obviously, is always a good artist. Another of the top artists, even if it’s a fairly conventional style. Bagley doesn’t do anything special, he just do normal particularly well.

Avengers World #5, written by Nick Spencer and Jonathan Hickman, art by Stefano Caselli. Iron Man goes to get Manifold’s help. Unfortunately, Manifold’s power is being erratic, and he needs to talk to the universe about it. Specifically, Captain Universe. She takes him into the Dreamtime, and helps him get himself in order. This issue reads incredibly quickly. Way too quickly. It doesn’t provide much insight into Manifold’s character, either. It all feels rather wasted. The art’s nice, of course, but the story is bland and pointless. And I still think it’s time for the reveal of which of the current Avengers is LGBT. Just get it the hell over with.

What If: Age of Ultron #5, written by Joe Keatinge, pencils by Ming Doyle, Ramon Villalobos, Raffaele Ienco and Neil Edwards. In the early days of the Avengers, Hank almost dies from the time break, but survives. But he’s forgotten all about the AI idea he came up with. In another reality – the World Without Janet – Ultron learns his universe is dying, and that it’s a problem throughout the multiverse, but also learns of a world without him. He decides to take it over. He goes through the World Without Stark, the World Without Thor, the World Without Steve Rogers, and then the World Without Ultron. In Latveria, Doom’s time machine explodes, killing him. Ultron-Hank still has enough self-control to tell the Avengers to flee through to his own world. This was kinda meh. Especially since, uh, five Avengers are now all that’s left of the human race in the world they fled to. Which is, you know . . . a bit bleak. Though bleak endings aren’t uncommon for What Ifs. Overall, this mini was OK. Not bad, not great, just OK.

From → 2014

  1. What? The Uncanny Avengers Annual is actually hilarious in a good way? I was thinking it would be bleak like the main series, but I agree he can be very entertaining when he wants to be. I’m kind of tempted to pick it up now.

    This is a great week for comics in general. X-Force was fun, All New X-men was great as usual, and I know you don’t read much DC but the Batgirl Annual was fantastic. If not for the mediocrity known as Hickman’s Avengers (and I’ve only read up to issue 13 of that) I’d say it’s almost a perfect week for Marvel comics,

    I haven’t been reading Wolverine for a while now, but I’ll probably pick up his 3 months to die storyline and the Death of Wolverine September weekly (it’s being written by Charles Soule after all).

    And I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get excited about Craig Kyle and Chris Yost taking over Amazing X-Men … and the Kathryn Immonen issue should be great too.

  2. G'kar permalink

    Avenger’s world and Uncanny Avengers were pretty enjoyable and I thought Hulk # 2 was pretty good. All new x men I skipped and will keep doing so. As far which Avengers is LGBT I ‘am sure it will be reviled in time, besides it’s not like one of the character are just going to randomly yell out Hey everyone I Gay or something like that.

    • In regards to the LGBT Avenger, I think my biggest problem is that Hickman doesn’t seem to think it’s important to actually reveal who it is. He said one of them’s LGBT, but that it would only be revealed if it “fit the story.” The story that he’s writing. He acts as though he has no control over whether an opportunity arises, when he could easily make it happen. He did the same thing with Secret Warriors – I only found out that Stonewall was gay well after that series was over. That’s bullshit. There’s few enough LGBT characters out there that you can’t keep it a secret when you create one. You have to say it – otherwise, they are not LGBT. It’s not representation when no one knows about it. If you have a character who’s completely covered the whole time, and you say after the series is over that the character was black, then you did not have a black character in your series.

      There has never been an openly LGBT member of the Avengers. 50 years, and not one of them has been openly LGBT while serving. A few came out after they left the team. Considering the Avengers are supposed to be the premier superhero team, that lack of representation has gotten glaring.

      It’s not like it would even take a lot to reveal it. Bendis, in Uncanny X-Men, had Benjamin Deeds come out in a throwaway line. The same could be done in Avengers. It would take a single panel. It could even be in the background of a panel, a conversation taking place in smaller word bubbles. It doesn’t have to be a big production, or some major plot point, or any shit like that. All it would take is one single, solitary panel. But Hickman apparently can’t even be bothered to put in even that tiny, minimal amount of effort. He’d rather pretend that he has to serve The Story, rather than being the one who comes up with the damned story in the first place, and so having total control over every single thing that happens in it.

      The longer it takes to reveal it, the more it looks like Hickman just plain doesn’t want to say who it is.

      • G'kar permalink

        As I see it there really hasn’t been good place to put a throw a way line about it. Now, I want tot make one thing clear before I make this next statement, I have nothing again equal representation both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel are on my pull list I read Batwoman well until the mess that made the first creative team quit. That said, the throwaway line in Uncanny x men felt forced just like the Carol Danvers/ Jessica Jones friendship or Hill all the sudden be attracted to Cyclops . To be honest I think Bendis just used Carol to prop up his Mary sue Jessica Jones.

      • Carol and Jones being friends actually makes sense to me – they’re both sarcastic women who don’t take any shit. Benjamin’s line in UXM was a great way of handling a character’s sexuality being revealed. Hill’s attraction to Scott was just really funny.

        And I disagree with there not being a good place to insert a line. Some people are guessing Hyperion’s the LGBT character. He had two issues focusing on him in the main book – it wouldn’t have been out of place to include, say, a reference to a husband on his old world. Starbrand’s another popular guess – he’s had a couple issues of the main book, and an issue of World, and it wouldn’t have been tough to figure something out there. It’s not tough. It’s actually really, really easy, especially when you’re the one writing the book. When you dictate the story, you can always find room for a single panel that gives insight into a character.

        There’s only one good reason to delay a reveal like that, and that’s if you actually have a specific plan for how and when to do it. In Young Avengers, Kieron Gillen waited until one of the last pages to reveal that Miss America’s not straight, and that was a conscious decision he made. He planned it that way from the start, for a reason.

        That’s not the case here. Hickman’s comment about only doing it if it fits the story makes it clear that he has no plan to do it. So at this point, he’s not revealing it because he doesn’t want to reveal it. He didn’t reveal Stonewall’s sexuality in Secret Warriors because he didn’t want to. If he wanted to, he would make an opportunity to do it in a way that makes sense. There was always the barbecue issue, if nothing else – the first few pages of that were all about minor character moments, after all.

        So at this point, Hickman simply doesn’t care about actually showing LGBT representation in the Avengers. He wants to get credit for having an LGBT Avenger, without actually having an LGBT Avenger. And the longer he delays, the more obvious it becomes that he’s not actually interested in LGBT representation.

  3. G'kar permalink

    Ok. I don’t know if you read the other Avenger’s books so I’ll just use what’s going on in Avenger’s world as an example. So far Sunspot, Cannonball and Smasher have been captured by AIM. Also Shang- Chi has been thrown off a flying dragon by the Gorgon I think that was the guy’s name I might be remembering wrong. As well Spider Woman, Nightmask and StarBrand taped in a city of the dead. So with the things going on where you fit say a throw in a line to reveal which Avengers is a LGBT Character with it feeling forced or shoehorned in. What I mean that this point in the plot of the book when would any character have the time or chance to mention anything about the subject. Anyway I am going to let this go because it’s getting late.

    • Well, let’s say Starbrand was going to be the LGBT character. In his issue of World, have the person he saw and chased around be a boy. When he says the boy never knew him, make the line, “I had a crush on you, but you didn’t even know who I was.” Easy.

      Hyperion hasn’t had his spotlight issue of World yet, but I mentioned how it could’ve been done in his two issues of the main book.

      There’s not really a lot of other options. Smasher could be bisexual, in which case, her spotlight issue of the main Avengers book, during the flashback, could’ve mentioned a girl she’d recently broken up with. Nightmask could be LGBT, though I tend to doubt it, and if he is, that would be a little lame, considering he’s almost devoid of a personality. He’s just a tool for exposition and plot advancement, rather than an actual character. And even then, there was the barbecue – a single speech bubble in a single panel with lots of other speech bubbles, where Nightmask just says, “Actually, I’m gay.”

      Hickman’s Avengers run started last year. He’s at issue 28, plus the five issues of World. There have been opportunities all along to do it. The problem isn’t Hickman not being able to find an opportunity. Opportunities are there for anyone who looks. And for the guy who’s writing the story, he doesn’t have to look. He’s the guy who gets to make those opportunities. This isn’t a situation where Hickman just couldn’t find an opportunity. He’s specifically chosen not to reveal it, and I doubt it’s because he has a plan for how he’s going to do it. It’s because he doesn’t give a shit. He genuinely does not care. He wanted to look progressive by saying one of them’s LGBT, but he doesn’t care enough to include a line in any of his scripts.

      Spencer can use the “no chance yet” excuse, depending on who it is. Maybe the character’s spotlight issue hasn’t come out, or maybe it has and there just really wasn’t a way to include a line organically. Hickman? No. Fuck that, he does not get to use that excuse. He’s the plotter, and he’s had 28 damned issues already, including several spotlights on the new characters, most of which actually gave plenty of details on their lives and personalities. The fact that he hasn’t bothered to reveal who the LGBT character is yet is bullshit, and he deserves to be criticized for holding off on it for no damned good reason.

      • G'kar permalink

        You know it’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of Bendis writing, and I’m not thrilled that he’s going to be writing one of my favorite characters. Sometime I’m hash when I criticize him maybe too hash at times… One thing I won’t do his accuse him of just trying to look progressive or pretending to be progressive because I have no Idea what his plans or intentions. You however seem sure you know that Hickman’s plans are or aren’t like you can read his mind. Hey it look like we got a rogue telepath here someone Call the Psi Corps Quick!

      • Hickman said he’d only reveal the LGBT character if it “fit the story.” That strongly suggests he has no specific plan for doing it. He went the entire run of Secret Warriors without revealing that Stonewall was gay. Combine those two things, and it’s pretty obvious that Hickman doesn’t actually care about LGBT representation. So why say that one of them’s LGBT? In order to look progressive. In order to say he’s got one.

        It’s time Hickman just cut the bullshit and included a panel where whoever it is comes out. I don’t care if it’s the main book or World, it needs to frigging happen, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later, and since Hickman is the one creating the damned story, he needs to make it happen, not use the story as an excuse to not do it.

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