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X-Men comics of January 6 2016

January 7, 2016

My first reviews of 2016. This is also the last time I call something the first time of the year. Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert), here’s some comics.

Uncanny X-Men #1, by Cullen Bunn, Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard. This is the villain book. (And in terms of art, it’s hard to think of a greater villain than Greg Land.) We start in Detroit. As good a place as any for a dark story. Magneto hijacks some trucks belonging to Someday Enterprises. And already the Land-face is bugging me. He’s helped by Sabretooth – who looks different from Land’s normal set of Male Faces, so he must have found a new photo-reference to trace and recycle in every single issue – and Monet, who is every single female character Land has ever drawn in his entire goddamn career you goddamn hack Land you suck you suck at least get some new goddamn photos to trace you enormous frigging hack. I hate Greg Land’s art. I hate it so damn much. Because here’s the thing: It’s not that his Monet looks like his Emma looks like his Sue Storm. It’s that he recycles literally the exact same images for every single female character. (He also does it with his males, but it’s even more blatant with his females.) This isn’t just the same facial structures, it’s literally the exact same faces. With the exact same expressions. He is a frigging hack and I hate every single thing he draws and I wish he stopped getting work from Marvel. I would rather Rob frigging Liefeld as artist on this comic. Fuck Greg Land. Anyway, Bunn also writes a poor Monet, I think. It might be that he writes an OK Monet, but Land’s shitty, awful art makes her bad. But I think it’s the writing. Monet’s always been defined, in part, by her arrogance. But it’s a cool arrogance. I’ve never thought of her as the type to say, “are they more enamoured by my sheer awesomeness?” That’s a playful cockiness. It’s not a Monet thing to say. Anyway, Psylocke’s there, as well. We also learn that Magneto’s not at 100%, and is still suffering the effects of death. And Archangel is apparently something of a blank slate, with no real mind to speak of, and Psylocke is responsible. Also, there’s some weird flirtation between Monet and Sabretooth. Uuugh. This comic is not good. I’ve already given my thoughts on the art – that it’s an affront against the very idea of art – but the writing isn’t great, either. Magneto is written reasonably well. Very dramatic and all. That’s fine. Monet is too casual. Not classy enough. Psylocke is OK, but kinda boring. Sabretooth is still inverted, and OK, but kinda boring. And there’s just not much going on in this issue. Not much to really grab readers and say “this is why you should be reading this book.” It’s just a dark X-Men book, when the main X-Men title – Extraordinary X-Men – is already pretty damn dark. The main difference is that this team isn’t running to Limbo to hide. But so what? I’m pretty sure most of EXM will take place outside of Limbo, as well. So why should people get this book instead of EXM? (Actually, so far, my answer would be that people shouldn’t bother with either.) But this one definitely isn’t worth bothering with. Between Bunn’s lackluster writing and Land’s horrible art, this is one of the most skippable books I’ve come across. Which is why I’m kinda sad that I’ll be talking about this damn thing every single month. Ugh.

Worst X-Man Ever #1, by Max Bemis, Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond. We start with Bailey and his gay friend talking about what girls Bailey might have a chance with. His friend suggests a girl who’s about as much a nobody as Bailey is. See, what I don’t get about this scene is how Bailey is friends with this guy. This guy seems really cool. Anyway, Bailey’s parents confess to him that they’re mutants who’ve kept it hidden all their lives, and that Bailey’s a mutant, too. (His mother has X-ray vision, and his father can heat his chest. He’s pretty excited about being a mutant. He’s taken to Xavier’s. Beast studies him, and determines he’s a human firework. But if he uses his power, that’s that. No reforming. He’d be dead, because he would have exploded. Not a very good power, then. Would make for one hell of a way to go, though. Bailey gets depressed. Then – Sudden Sentinel! That’s one of the worst kinds of Sentinels! Like, 6th or 7th on the list of Worst Sentinels. I also want to mention that the X-Men line-up makes it pretty much impossible to place when this comic happens. It has to be an alternate reality. It might be pre-M-Day, but I don’t think so. I think it’s just an alternate reality. But Storm has a mohawk, so it’s all good. (Also, there’s a Fastball Special.) The issue also has some Jubilee, which I always enjoy. This is a fun comic. It’s nice to see someone who’s so damn excited about being a mutant, even if he ends up really disappointed by his power. X-Men comics always had trouble showing people who genuinely love being mutants. You’d get some who are OK with it, and some who act happy but are hiding some real angst. You’d even get some who love their power, but even they were ambivalent towards being a mutant. The thing is, being different – whatever the difference – is something that should be celebrated. That’s what Pride Parades are about. So Bailey’s excitement at being a mutant is nice to see. I want to see more of that sort of thing. This issue in general is kinda joyful. The writing is fun, and the art is fun and bright. It makes for a comic that’s pleasant to read. So, yeah, it’s a good comic.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #1, by Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales and Jason Keith. It starts with Spider-Man and Deadpool tied up together, face-to-face, with Deadpool being very strange and pissing Spider-Man off. They’re being held by Dormammu, and are surrounded by Mindless Ones. Deadpool is being really, really sexual, and he pops a bone. His hip bone, specifically. That gives Spider-Man enough room to get an arm free, so he can grab one of Deadpool’s swords, and cut the both of them free. And soon after, we get the flashback to how they ended up where they are. Spider-Man was defeating Hydro-Man when Deadpool showed up, grabbed him, and teleported them both to Hell. And now we’re caught up. And Deadpool starts giving brains to Mindless Ones. Which shouldn’t work, but does. They stop obeying Dormammu, because they want more recognition for the job they do. And it turns out the whole thing was just Deadpool’s way of doing a job interview. He wants Spider-Man as one of his Mercs For Money. He also bad-mouths Peter Parker. I’m pretty sure Deadpool only knows Peter is Spider-Man when it’s necessary for a joke. Spider-Man leaves Deadpool, then calls Anna Maria, for some commentary on his current direction in the comics. And then Hydro-Man shows back up. This was great. It’s Joe Kelly’s Deadpool! It feels so good to have the best Deadpool back. Kelly writes a funnier Deadpool than anyone, but also a deeper one. The jokes are never truly random, it’s not just Wacky For The Sake Of Wacky. It’s not just “Bea Arthur chimichanga lol!” The jokes actually make sense. A lot of the jokes are just little bits of wordplay, like calling Spider-Man a “Spide-kick.” It’s a hilarious comic. Spider-Man, of course, is just as funny, and their banter is great to see. But as I said, Deadpool does have more depth to him than a lot of writers give him. But unlike Duggan’s Deadpool, the depth and humour are able to co-exist, side by side, so we can get moments of sincerity that are also really funny. The art is good, too. McGuinness draws some great action scenes. The quieter moments are still good, too. What I like is that it’s not a cartoonish style. At least, it’s not a hyper-cartoonish style. It’s more conventional, but just a little bit off. The art is just a little bit dark, but not much. It enhances the character a lot. Because, again, instead of being wacky and zany, it treates the character more seriously. So, yeah, I really enjoyed this, and I am so glad that I did. I loved Kelly’s Deadpool rn, and I’m really happy that his return to the character is a triumphant one.

Deadpool #5, by Gerry Duggan, Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Guru-eFX. Deadpool is on a rooftop with his daughter. He’s using her as bait, and someone does take shots at her. Luckily, Quicksilver gets her out of harm’s way. OK, I’ll admit, I love Ellie here. “I got to be chum!” She’s a pretty great kid, I’d say. Anyway, that means it’s time for Deadpool vs. Madcap. And it turns out Madcap is really, really freaky-looking now. Actually, he kinda reminds me of Baraka, from Mortal Kombat. Also, he’s really, really pissed at Deadpool. He wanted a friend, but Deadpool treated him like shit. He’s going to make Deadpool suffer for that. But then Masacre, from the Spanish issue, shows up to chop Madcap into bits, and Stingray arrives with a box to shove him into, but Madcap reforms before he can be put in. So, you know how I was just praising Kelly for being able to balance humour and sincerity? Yeah, not happening here. This comic isn’t funny. At all. There’s basically no jokes. Which is stupid. It’s Deadpool. He jokes reflexively. Even at his darkest, he should be making jokes. But Duggan hasn’t figured that out. He writes two Deadpools. There’s Funny Deadpool, and there’s Serious Deadpool. And Serious Deadpool just isn’t Deadpool. This is a character who decided the fate of the planet by kicking Captain America in the balls. Where’s that guy? There should be humour here, even if it’s uncomfortable humour. But nope, Deadpool is dead serious. His Madcap isn’t that great, either. A lot of the difference comes down to Madcap being pissed, and that’s fine. But even so, he should be making more jokes, too, or at least saying weird shit. Also, I hate how he’s shown regenerating. Pieces of his body basically melt and reach out to each other. But his regeneration was never depicted that way. This series remains really weak. It’s not a strong Deadpool series, and now that we have a well-written Deadpool again, with Joe Kelly, the weaknesses in this comic become even more obvious.

That’s the X-titles. Here’s a couple more comics I want to talk about.

A-Force #1, by G. Willow Wilson, Jorge Molina and Laura Martin. The issue starts with Singularity waking up, and remembering Arcadia, and the women from the Secret Wars A-Force story, and what she learned from them. She knows that world is gone, and she searches for something familiar, and finds Carol in her space station. Carol’s concerned, until Singularity pops in being super-friendly and adorable, but also speaking pretty weird. Punctuation between each word. Carol doesn’t remember her, because obviously, which confuses and frightens Singularity. Then stuff happens outside that Carol has to go deal with. It’s Anti-Matter, and it’s in Singularity’s head, so Singularity flees to Earth while Captain Marvel punches a being made of anti-matter. Because that’s what Captain Marvel does.  Singularity’s escape pod crashes in New York, where a couple find her adorable. They’re right, Singularity is adorable. Anti-Matter follows her, and she has to fight it, but it doesn’t go well, so she teleports to She-Hulk. But is still followed by Anti-Matter. This is a solid debut issue. This is our first real look into Singularity’s thought processes. She actually thinks coherently, even if she doesn’t speak completely coherently. She’s an interesting character. I do like her. A lot of that is down to the art, though. She is so cute, and so expressive. Molina and Martin both clearly love her design, and have fun with her. Molina gives her great facial expressions, and Martin’s colours are really interesting. She also does great work on Anti-Matter’s colours, making it look truly strange. This is a fun debut issue, even if it’s actually carrying on from another series. (Some would argue that this continuation means it’s not new-reader friendly. I would say, “She comes from another world, that is all the explanation a new reader needs, let’s stop scaring potential readers off books by telling them they won’t be able to follow it unless they’ve read other books, when all these readers really need to know is what the comic itself tells them.”) I’m looking forward to more from this series. Apparently, Kelly Thompson is actually going to be taking over as writer with #5, which I’m fine with. Heart In A Box was a brilliant comic, one of the stand-outs from 2015 (aided by the gorgeous art of Meredith McClaren, and speaking of Meredith McClaren, she’s an amazing artist and you should read everything she does because her work is just wonderful). Thompson is also killing it on Jem & the Holograms, making it legitimately one of the best ongoing comics coming out. So I’m sure she’ll do a fine job on A-Force. For now, Wilson gives the book a strong start.

Ultimates #3, by Al Ewing, Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown. It starts with Mentor, Oracle and Smasher (I wondered what she was up to) checking out Archeopia, the first planet Galactus killed, and the first he’s restored. On Alpha Flight Station, Monica – as Carol’s reflection – asks what’s up with Carol and Rhodey. Carol says it’s complicated. I have to say, it’s not a pairing I ever would have come up with on my own, but when KSD introduced it, I could totally see it. I hope to see more of them interacting. I think they’d make a good couple. Anyway, they also talk about Monica being insanely powerful, and maybe not entirely human any more. Their conversation is interrupted by Puck letting Carol know that Gladiator of the Shi’ar is calling. Yay Puck! I do love me some Puck. Turns out the Shi’ar aren’t happy about Earth taking unilateral action regarding Galactus. But Black Panther and Blue Marvel set that aside for the next problem: Time is broken. In order to assess the damage, they need to go Outside, and they’ve designed a ship to do just that. They even get help from the new Giant-Man! Who’s not allowed to join them on missions until he fights Cthulu. This is another great issue. There’s more of the Big Crazy Ideas, and there’s also a lot of great character stuff. Carol and Monica have a very neat friendship. We see a very subtle note of tension between Blue Marvel and Black Panther, but they’re also both in full genius mode, which is always good to see. America remains something of an outside to the team, which is as it should be. She provides a voice of experience. She also provides some transportation. I also notice that Rocafort is keeping up the trend McKelvie established of America being someone who owns multiple outfits. She doesn’t have a costume, she has a style. Here, she wears a blue tube top and black pants. And red ass-kicking boots and a nice red wool hat. And a bitchin’ denim jacket. I like that about her. She’s not just wearing the same thing all the time. It sets her apart in an interesting way. Rocafort’s art is great in general. And Ewing’s writing is great. This series is great. You should read it.

Weirdworld remains gloriously, bizarrely excellent. Humphries is telling a really interesting story, and Del Mundo’s art is gorgeous. Read this book.

I may as well mention that Dr. Strange has cameos from Illyana, Shaman and Talisman. Among other, non-X-related magicians. Also, Zelma remains a cool character, as any librarian should be. I approve of librarians in comics.

And Bitch Planet is still awesome. Bitch Planet #6 is by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Clayton Cowles. The issue actually starts with a trigger warning. At the risk of spoiling, there’s no actual sexual assault in the issue itself. There’s near-assault. But no actual assault. The issue is how Meiko, the girl killed in the previous issue, got to where she was. It’s an interesting issue. As with all issues, it addresses quite a few things. Cultural appropriation is shown. Duty is a theme. It’s a heavy comic. And then the back-matter, with an essay by Debbie Chachra, about gender schemas. It’s really interesting, as all these essays are. And there’s an interview with Megumi Igarashi, a Japanese artist who 3D-printed a kayak shaped like her vagina, as a way of speaking out against Japanese obscenity laws. And then there’s the letters, which this time include an explanation on the importance of pre-ordering, and why feminism isn’t about men. I’ve said before that Bitch Planet’s back matter – the essays and letters pages – are almost as important as the book itself. I really urge people to buy the single issues rather than wait for the trades, because you’re missing half the experience if you wait. Get the single issues. Do it for yourself. You deserve that extra value content.

From → 2016

One Comment
  1. Uncanny X-Men feels like it could improve after this issue, but it’s a mediocre start where not much actually happens, and Greg Land’s art makes it worse. Still, I find that it’s a bit more fun than Extraordinary X-Men. Seriously though, Land basically turned Monet into a playboy model when Monet isn’t supposed to smile nearly that much. Ugh.

    Deadpool/Spider-Man sounds pretty good. I decided during Secret Wars that I’ll be taking a break from Spider-Man, but I might have to check this out anyway. At least Deadpool has a good series now.

    A-Force 1 is fun, but at least for the first issue, how much you like it depends on how much you like Singularity.

    Ultimates continues to be a brilliant and unique series in the Marvel lineup. It’s great how there are potential consequences for what the team did to Galactus, and that so far, each issue brings something new to the Marvel Universe as a whole.

    Bitch Planet 6 is probably the best issue in the series so far. It touches on all the same themes that the series does, but with both more subtlety and a deep sense of character, even by Kelly Sue DeConnick’s standards.

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