X-Men comics for November 2 2016
Death of X #3, by Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, Aaron Kuder, Javier Garron, Jay Leisten, and colours by everyone. Everyone on the planet coloured this book. But specifically, Andrew Crossley, Jason Keith, Matt Milla, Morry Hollowell and Wil Quintana. That is a ridiculous number of people involved. Two writers, two line artists, two inkers, and 5 colour artists. Anyway. Emma is talking to Magneto on Skype, and Magneto wants to know where Scott is. Emma says he’s busy. In Madrid, the Inhumans are celebrating Daisuke ending the riot, though Gorgon is worried about what the X-Men will do. What with Daisuke having knocked a whole bunch of them out. Crystal is sure Storm will be reasonable. Emma asks Magneto to keep the Inhumans busy in Spain, and he tells her she can’t manipulate him, but he still agrees to go. In England, the Cuckoos visit Tom Jones, aka Alchemy. It’s Alchemy! Guys! I love this guy! It’s been way too long. He was in an arc of the original X-Factor, and then an arc of Excalibur, and he has the power of transmutation. Lead to gold, that sort of thing. He’s awesome! Back in Madrid, the X-Men wake up, and go to chat with the Inhumans. Things are tense. Luckily, Illyana defuses the situation by abducting Daisuke. And then Magneto shows up. So, this is pretty good. There are a couple more hints that the twist some people are predicting might be correct. There’s some building tension between the X-Men and the Inhumans. My favourite part of the issue, though, is the presence of Alchemy. He’s great. And he gets a fantastic scene with Scott. I think my favourite line in the scene is this: “Years ago, the X-Men saved you, saved your mother. You don’t owe us anything for that – it’s just what we do.” I like that line. The Inhumans don’t get a lot of focus here. A chunk of their stuff is actually the Nuhumans telling Daisuke to pick a codename. And, see, in a normal series? That would be fine. It would be fun. Because in a normal series, we’d be spending a lot of time with these characters, and we’d be getting to know them better, and a scene like this would be part of that. Here? It feels like wasted space. I suspect the point is to do quick character building for Daisuke before he inevitably dies next issue. It’s an attempt to make us care about him. But I feel like it could’ve been done better. I’m not sure “Hey, you need a codename” was the best approach to take. Plus, let’s be honest, he’s a brand-new character, introduced in a flashback mini, and he hasn’t been seen in any of the comics that take place after the events of this mini take place, despite having an immensely potent ability that would have been very useful on multiple occasions in the Inhuman titles. This guy ain’t gonna make it. It’s hard to get attached to a plot device, and Soule and Lemire just don’t manage it. The art in this issue takes a bit of a dive. It’s really uneven. Some of it’s good, some of it’s not. I think the good bits are probably by Kuder, while Garron’s parts just don’t measure up. The styles are different enough to be jarring, especially when it comes to faces. Kuder is much better at faces than Garron is. So this issue is just a let-down all-around from the last issue.
And that’s the only X-title, but here are other things I read.
Avengers #1, by Mark Waid, Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso. Mike Del Mundo, guys! The team – Captain Samerica, Thor, Hercules and the new Wasp – are fighting the frost-wolf Hoarfen. Fun fact: Despite being a monster of Asgardian origins, Hoarfen isn’t actually a Thor villain. He showed up in a ’90s Hulk story. I read the story not long ago, it was pretty OK. Anyway! He’s pretty well invulnerable. Until Hercules holds Cap’s shield for Thor to bounce her hammer off of. That done, Cap invites Hercules to rejoin the team, and then they all head to Parker Industries, where Peter offers to fund the team. He also provides them an assistant, Ms. Beachum, though he assures them he’d never try to replace Jarvis. When he shows them the view, they see an explosion, and rush off to deal with it. Peter follows as Spider-Man. Turns out, it’s Kang, fighting Vision and demanding to know where a child is. (Specifically, Baby Kang, whom Vision abducted in ANAD Avengers #13.) Fight! And after, Vision some explaining to do. This issue’s good. It’s a great debut. Waid’s got a good handle on all the voices, and he sets up an intriguing plot with one hell of a cliffhanger. But the real draw here is Mike Del goddamn Mundo. He is amazing. His art is gorgeous. Just stunning stuff. It’s larger-than-life, and so full of weirdness and brutality and it’s just amazing. It just blows me away. This run of Avengers is going to look glorious, and it’ll be worth reading just for that, but this first issue is also really well-written. This has potential to be one of the great Avengers runs.
Champions #2, by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado. The Champions are out camping, roasting food over a fire. Viv is roasting her hand. She doesn’t eat, which I find really cute. (Also worth noting: Sam and Miles are both roasting wieners, Kamala’s roasting marshmallows. She can’t eat pork, after all. Anyway, roasted marshmallows are the best.) Kamala suggested the camping trick so they can all get to know each other and their powers so they can start building combo moves. Miles, Sam and Viv all think Kamala should be a Captain America. I can see that, actually. I mean, presumably, she’d rather be a Captain Marvel. But being a Captain America would be a good alternate career path. We also learn Viv’s never been kissed, and she almost ends up kissing Sam. Hulk finally comes crashing back down, and gets blasted by Tykeclops, who thought Hulk was attacking, and who gets attacked by Sam in response. He wants to join the team. This is a fun issue. I’m not completely on board with Waid’s take on Viv. Or his take on Amadeus, actually. But for the most part, the writing is enjoyable. It’s fun. There’s a lot of fun stuff in the issue. Scott’s entrance was pretty cool, and I am excited to see more of Waid’s take on him. There’s been a lot of talk about the kiss on the last page. I won’t talk about it, partly because I dislike spoiling things that happen at the end of issues, but mostly because there’s not much to talk about yet. We’ll see how that goes. (One thing I will note: I saw someone state that Viv is the only member of the team who could have been revealed as queer, and the second issue ends with her making out with a guy. That actually feels like a fair criticism. The Vision series never hinted that Viv might be queer, as she had a serious crush on a boy. But this is a teen team, meant to appeal to teens, and it is 100% lacking in any sort of queer representation. That’s a problem. This is a big, high-profile book that got a ton of advance press, and the diversity of the team was definitely intended as a selling point, but LGBTQIA people? Apparently, they don’t count. Marvel needs to do better about LGBTQIA representation in A-list titles, or titles that are intended to be A-list. Anyway, it’d be nice if, as the book unfolds, Viv does identify as bisexual or pansexual. Or, hell, what if she revealed herself as asexual? Whether bi-romantic or hetero-romantic, but still asexual. It’s unlikely, though.) I hate the art. I have never liked Ramos’ art. I find it unpleasant to look at. His faces are weird, and his lines are too thick and heavy. I wish this book had a different artist. Actually, I kinda wish it had a different writer, too. Waid’s great, but he’s not the best fit for a teen book, I think.
Occupy Avengers #1, by David Walker, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz and Sonia Oback. Clint is in Santa Rosa, new Mexico, at a diner, meeting and greeting the townsfolk, who all think he did the right thing in killing Banner. Sheriff Ortiz shows up with her deputy, Red Wolf, to ask Clint why he’s in town. She actually knows why he’s there: to investigate the contamination of the local water supply, which forces everyone to buy bottled water. The contamination is the result of hazardous waste illegally dumped on a nearby Native Reservation. Red Wolf takes Clint out to the Sweet Medicine Reservation, and Clint is shocked at what he sees. So, as a Canadian, I feel like I should note that we treat our First Nations tribes at least as bad as the US does. It’s a serious problem, and something that doesn’t really get the attention it deserves. Anyway, that night, while Clint’s riding his motorbike, some thugs in jeeps chase after him, firing machine guns at him. As he fights them, he wonders what he can do about the contaminated water supply. You can’t punch that problem into submission. Then Red Wolf shows up, riding a horse, flanked by a pair of wolves, and causes a jeep to crash by throwing a hatchet through the windshield. Guy knows how to make an entrance. This is a solid debut issue. Walker is setting up some interesting exploration of social justice issues. He’s a smart guy with a strong interest in that stuff, so I’m definitely on board for this, and I’m expecting it to be really good. But he’s also doing a good Clint story, exploring his self-doubts in the aftermath of his murder of Banner. He wants to do good, to help people, to make the world a better place, but he’s a guy with a bow and arrow, and he’s not sure how to fix big problems like contaminated water supplies. He does explain why he likes using the bow and arrow – he feels it’s more elegant, and more personal, like a hand-written letter in this age of text messages. Clint is a goddamn hipster. I find that funny. The art is great. Pacheco and Fonteriz work well together. And Oback’s a top-notch colour artist. The art is pretty normal, conventional, “house style” art, but it looks really good. Some nice expressiveness, and well-made action scenes. So, all in all, this is a good debut to what looks like a great series.
Bitch Planet #9, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro Kelly Fitzpatrick and Clayton Cowles. Remember, Americans, Vote President Bitch! On Earth, Josephson’s wife is buying their daughter for an upcoming banquet. On Bitch Planet, Meiko’s father has unlocked all the cell doors. Which means it’s a riot! Kam and Whitney are with President Doane, who’s supposed to be dead. Kam leaves Whitney with Doane while she goes to find her sister. Over in another facility, Kam’s sister is apparently quite the badass in her own right. She leads a bunch more prisoners, searching for the docks, but instead, they come across the other facility. The trans prisoners have arrived at the main women’s prison. And the cis-women view the trans women as “freaks.” That’s not good. But Kam? Kam’s good. And this book is good. It’s moving on to bigger and bigger things all the time, and it’s great. Also, the back matter remains amazing, and worth getting the book in single issues instead of trade. This one has an essay from KSD about Trump’s “grab her by the pussy” video, and the need to empathize directly with women rather than the whole “imagine if she was your daughter!” crap. Then an essay by Rebecca Wanzo, about conservatives who romanticize the ’50s and want the Straight White Man to be everything again. An interview with Rebecca Henderson, founder of Weird Empire, a company that does feminist and body-positive enamel pins. And, of course, the wonderful, powerful letters pages. Including a letter following up one from the previous issue – a woman had written in a letter serving as a proposal to her girlfriend, this issue has a letter confirming the girlfriend said yes. Which KSD confirmed on Twitter a while ago, but it’s still really sweet seeing this letter. I love comics. I love Bitch Planet. So much. And look, if you do decide to give Bitch Planet a try, READ THE SINGLE ISSUES. Read the previous issues on the Image website. Don’t go with the trades. The back matter is too important a part of the book. And if you’re not reading it, you absolutely should. This is a book that pulls absolutely no punches. It’s intersectional feminism to an aggressive degree, and it’s wonderful as a result.
Animosity #3, by Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre, Rob Schwager and Marshall Dillon. It starts with a flashback to Jesse picking out Sandor from a litter of puppies, and the farmer selling them makes a Cujo reference (“that St. Bernard down in Castle Rock”) because Bennett does enjoy being clever. In the present, Jesse and Sandor are sitting beside the Hudson River, talking about Pokemon, and a humpback whale breaches the water, shouting “Humpback Whale!”
The whale takes Sandor and Jesse to an Animilitary fortress, where they have need of Sandor’s nose. Many of the animals are actually really friendly towards Jesse, which is nice to see. Anyway, Sandor tracks a missing member of the Animilitary to a US Army base, confirming the humans have her, and leaving the Animilitary leader, a grey fox, to decide if he should trade some captured human scientists for her. The scientists claim to know what caused the Wake, and also think they can reverse it. The greyhound they return for the prisoner exchange has already been fixed – via lobotomy.
The Wicked + The Divine #23, by . . . well, kind of a lot of people, actually. In addition to the regular suspects of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson, this issue also features the art of Kevin Wada (actually, he does basically all the art), and the writing of Leigh Alexander, Dorian Lynskey, Lauire Penny, Mary HK Choi and Ezekiel Kweku. These are all journalists. Real-world journalists, I mean. This issue is strange, even by WicDiv’s standards, which makes it pretty much the perfect issue of WicDiv. The conceit of the issue is that it’s a magazine dedicated to the Pantheon, and the journalists are doing interviews with them. It’s great.