X-Men comics of November 30 2016
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Christina Strain will be writing Generation X. So that means I’ll be able to get that book. Whew. But now, comics!
Extraordinary X-Men #16, by Jeff Lemire, Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos. Sapna is kicking the asses of the X-Men in Limbo. Glob brings Jean into the lab, and she says Sapna can’t be stopped. Illyana is being filled with magic power, but she’s having trouble containing it and finding Limbo, so Storm takes the power, to act as a lightning rod, in a panel that really made me think for a second that they were going to kiss.
So Storm, Illyana, and the loser magicians make it back to Limbo. I still don’t care about these dudes, and I still think they could easily have been left out of the arc entirely. Illyana and the World-Eater fight, while Apocalypse convinces Kurt to free him in exchange for changing Colossus back to normal. So, this arc is over. This is really the end of the series: Next up is IvX, and then the book will relaunch as X-Men Gold. As a conclusion to the arc, this is OK. About as good as the rest of the arc, which means it’s pretty mediocre. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. I am disappointed at the conclusion of the Illyana/Sapna story, though the final page does leave it open for more. But still, I think it was the wrong way to go. The Illyana/Sapna story has been, without question, the absolute best part of the entire run of EXM. And it was the best part because it felt like a chance for Illyana to have a second chance, and for it to end the way it did just feels cruel to her. Also, I think Lemire dropped the ball a little in exploring what Sapna meant to Illyana. I get “Show, Don’t Tell,” but just the same, it’s a case where a little more telling actually would have gone a long way. I’ve mentioned this before, but Illyana obviously saw a lot of herself in Sapna. She wanted to train Sapna to be good and heroic, to be the things Illyana doesn’t believe herself to be. So, in this issue, her stabbing Sapna is stabbing herself, too, in a sense, but that’s not really explored. I think partly because Lemire was also still juggling the Apocalypse/Colossus story that wasn’t very interesting. So, this whole arc was weaker than I’d hoped, and the conclusion was really disappointing. The art’s fine. Ibanez has a muddier style than I prefer. But he does draw some pretty badass stuff. Ramos’ colours are good. I’m sorry I’m not more of a visual person and I can’t give more detail.
Old Man Logan #14, by Jeff Lemire, Filipe Andrade and Jordie Bellaire. First things first: I like Andrade. I think he’s a good artist. And Jordie Bellaire is one the absolute best colour artists in comics, ever. but damn, I miss Sorrentino and Maiolo. Anyway! Logan’s getting his drunk on, and Cerebra tells him Jubilee’s gone missing. He goes to her Brooklyn apartment, and finds Shogo, but no Jubester. Logan tells Cerebra to babysit, and I’ve gotta be honest, I have never sympathized with a giant murder-bot more than I do here:
Fun fact: Keep kids the hell away from me. Anyway! She teleports him to Romania, where he’s immediately attacked by monsters. Specifically, the Howling Commandos. The ones who had a series this year. It lasted all of 5 minutes. Anyway, they’re looking for a teammate, Vampire By Night. They’re in Eastern Europe and vampires are involved, which means Dracula. The Teen Abomination and Glyph both think Jubilee’s cool. These kids are all right. Logan comes up with a plan: The Commandos will attack head-on as a distraction so he can sneak in the back. This was OK. It’s off to a pretty bland start, and I have a feeling it’ll be a bland arc. There’s not really much to talk about so far. I do like the art. Like I said, I like Andrade. He draws a pretty cute Shogo. Romania is dark and creepy. His rough, sketchy style works well for an arc like this, so there is that, at least. But we’ll have to wait and see how the arc goes.
Inhumans vs. X-Men #0, by Charles Soule, Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown. We start 8 months ago. Beast is in New Attilan, excited to do SCIENCE! with Iso. Emma is on Muir Island, cliff-diving. Not into water. I actually like Beast here, because he feels so much like himself. A guy who believes in science, and who loves it.
Iso says the only way to save mutants is to eliminate the X-gene . . . which would mean mutants no longer exist. Beast responds by taking a selfie. It’s to prove the magic of science, but still, he responds to the threat of mutants going extinct by taking a selfie. Which feels like such a Beast thing to do. Like, ’90s Beast. Best Beast, if you will. He’s just really happy and optimistic here and I like seeing that for once. As for why Emma’s jumping off a cliff, it’s because she’s trying to trigger the change to diamond form quicker, for the next time she faces Black Bolt. She wants revenge against him for killing Scott. The Cuckoos are, um, concerned. It does seem like she miiiiiight have love her mind just a little. Then we cut to 6 months ago. Beast provides a Cerebro unit for Crystal’s fancy ship, so they can evacuate mutants in the path of the Terrigen cloud. Emma meets with Magneto in Poland, saying she has a plan for eliminating the second Terrigen cloud, but she needs Magneto’s help. Now we’re at 4 months ago. Beast and Iso go to the Savage Land, so Beast can set up a device to register any Terrigen in the environment. Emma is in Detroit, meeting with the O5 X-Men. Seeing Scott shakes her up, and it’s actually really, really sad.
So, yeah, this might be the best moment of the issue. Maybe the best X-moment of the week. That is fantastic work from Soule, Rocafort and Brown. Remember, Emma uses the diamond form as a way of blocking her emotions. When she’s a diamond, she feels nothing. So her switching to diamond shows just how close she was to losing control of her emotions. With the diamond tear being an incredible touch. And it even ties into her attempts to speed up her transition. Anyway, two months ago. Beast tells Medusa he hasn’t found a cure, and in fact, the way the poisoning works means a different cure has to be found for each individual mutant. He then eavesdrops on Medusa telling Black Bolt and Medusa that a war with the X-Men is inevitable, and the Inhumans have to be ready to win it. Ooh, dark. Emma meets with someone at the Hellfire Club, though we don’t see who. A woman in a white dress. And then, yesterday: Bad news.
This was pretty good, actually. I enjoyed this. It’s got two things that are always great: Beast doing science, and Emma being conniving. And Emma having feelings that she tries to hide. I love Soule’s Emma. He’s got a great handle on her. He does such a good job with her. She’s snarky, classy, casually badass, and also very vulnerable beneath all that. She hides her vulnerability, but it’s very, very clear to the readers. And it makes her so compelling. Soule also does a great job with Beast, making him the happy, fun, optimistic scientist people always loved. That was always when the character was at his best, and it’s what we get here, and I appreciate that. The art, by Rocafort and Brown, is excellent. I think it worked better on Ultimates than it does here. Rocafort has a very distinctive lay-out style that has a lot of white space, and a lot of bits of . . . I’m not sure what to call them. They almost look like broken panels of colour. But just little coloured shapes, just hanging around the panels, both outside and, sometimes, inside. And it worked on Ultimates, just because of the premise of the series. But here, it feels out of place. Other than that, though, it’s great art. Nicely expressive faces. Great work with body language. Background are used inconsistently, but when they’re there, they’re really detailed. Brown’s colours are really lush. So, this is actually a very good comic, and a very good prologue to IvX.
Ms. Marvel #13, by G. Willow Wilson, Mirka Andolfo and Ian Herring. Kamala is back to school, the first day back with Bruno gone, and their class is studying themes of lost love in Shakespeare. Fitting. Kamala’s sad, Mike’s crying, Zoe is staring at Nakia. And we get this awesomely meme-able panel:
And then her brother-in-law, Gabe Hillman, is brought into the class. Apparently, his neighbourhood was redistricted, so he’s in a different school attendance zone, and his parents are in a different voting precinct. Ah, gerrymandering. So goddamn stupid. She goes to the mayor’s office to express her concerns about the redistricting that occurred the day before an election. The Mayor isn’t happy about it, either, actually. So she asks Mike for help researching it. Turns out it’s all a plan to get one of Dr. Faustus’ guys elected Mayor. So Mike and Kamala make a plan to get people to vote against him. They actually try to promote support for a third-party candidate, a former City Librarian. I like her! The plan involves Nakia, and going door-to-door. This was a good issue. It’s fun. It’s a shame it didn’t come out a month ago, though. It would’ve been perfect as a pre-election release, rather than almost a month after an election that put fascism in the White House. Like, this comic’s all hopeful and optimistic and Good Triumphs Over Evil. But the actual election was Evil triumphing. So, I mean, I guess having a story about an election that doesn’t result in disaster for huge numbers of people is nice, as a bit of a soul-cleanser. Still, awkward timing. But! The story itself is good. A neat little examination of politics and the importance of voting. Also has some really good information about voting. The issue is, to an extent, as much political pamphlet as it is actual comic book. But it’s enjoyable. And I still love Andolfo and Herring on art. Andolfo’s lines are really nice, and Herring’s colours go with them beautifully. This is one of my favourite line-colour pairings. Andolfo/Herring need to remain a team, even after Andolfo leaves Ms. Marvel.
New Avengers #18, by Al Ewing, Carlo Barberi and Jesus Aburtov. It’s a funeral for Roberto, and Songbird is delivering the eulogy, while AIM and the New Mutants grieve, and OK, these three panels are the Best Thing Ever.
Oh man. This is so good. Larry! Champagne-Bot! Doug (with Dani’s priceless reaction)! Warlock! Warlock! Dammit, Warlock, you took one of the saddest things ever, and if I read that issue again, I’m just going to end up laughing, because I’ll remember this joke. There is nothing about these three panels that isn’t the funniest goddamn thing. I love it. It’s amazing. Anyway, the church is put in a time-stasis field, so Andrew Forson and Monica Rappaccini, ex-AIM leaders, can make sure ‘Berto’s dead. Spoiler: He’s not! So then a big fight breaks out. Karma momentarily possesses Forson, because Karma is awesome.
On a personal note, I’ve long held the belief that Karma would make an amazing spy. So, her infiltrating Forson’s AIM infiltrators made me feel weirdly vindicated. Anyway! Forson and Rappaccini are down. Max Brashear and Power Man are taking down RAID. Power Man says he’s going back to Spanish Harlem, and Max asks if he can join him, using a combat suit and calling himself Iron Fist. The White Tigers take down TIM, with Ava saying she wants to stop being White Tiger. Toni and Aikku take down AGM, Advanced Genocide Mechanics, which Aikku finds horrible. I love Aikku. She and Aikku are officially a couple now. Awww. Cute. Wiccan and Hulkling are sent to a really nice Manhattan apartment with a view of Central Park, to take down Advanced Idea Mechanization, but it turns out Bobby was actually just giving them an apartment as thanks for their help. This issue was . . . this is why I loved New Avengers. It’s hilarious. It’s not just funny, of course. There’s some good character explorations, with the ones leaving the book, showing where they’re at right now. The Aikku/Toni scene is adorable and sweet. Wiccan and Hulkling have a really sweet moment. But mostly? Yeah, the issue’s hilarious. Full of ridiculous stuff and terrible jokes and utter bizarre stuff. There’s a flying slice of cake, you guys! That’s a thing in this issue! It says “You’re the best!” Like, how can you not love that? This whole series has been that level of amazing and I loved every minute of it, and I hope it keeps mostly the same tone as USAvengers. Because so much yes.
Ghost Rider #1, by Felipe Smith, Danilo Beyruth, Val Staples and Jesus Aburtov. Robbie’s taken Gabe to the garage he works in, and they’re going over the parts of the engine, and it’s adorable and they’re best brothers. In West LA, Amadeus Cho is helping to explore some unrecorded chemical element. Turns out the rock is alive, a viscous mobile entity. So, a symbiote? We’ll find out later! Back in East LA, Robbie’s driving Gabe home, after getting ice cream. Some jerk is blocking the road, and threatens Robbie, and Eli wants to kill the guy but Robbie’s not in the mood. Once Gabe’s home, Robbie goes out to his night job. The Ghost Rider goes after the guy who was mean and kicked the car. I mean, that may seem like disproportionate retribution, but keep in mind, it’s a really frigging nice car. Oh, also, they had a family in a crate in the back of a truck. But mostly it was kicking the car. Meanwhile, the Hulk is fighting the purple goop, which keeps evolving as it eats things, getting bigger and freakier. This is good. I’m not entirely sold on Cho’s presence in this arc. I guess it’s Smith trying to integrate the character more closely into the Marvel Universe, and using other notable young legacy characters for thematic reasons. Wolverine’s going to be in this arc, too – I’ve seen it mentioned that they only need Miles to have an All-New New Fantastic Four. If that happens? If we get a story where Robbie, Cho, Laura and Miles team up? I will be totally on board with that. I actually really liked the New Fantastic Four arc, back in the day, and . . . I’m getting off-topic. The story! Cho got a little more focus in the issue than I would have liked. It was in order to introduce the threat that Robbie’s going to have to deal with, of course. And Smith’s take on the character is much closer to Pak’s than Waid’s take is – I wish Smith was the one writing Champions. He writes Cho well enough that it’s not that big a deal, and we do still get plenty of Robbie and Gabe, and a pretty cool action scene for the Ghost Rider. And I should talk about that scene! It works really well. He comes across as terrifying. Beyruth does a pretty good job conveying a sense of motion. The colours in those pages is gorgeous. I’m not sure which one did those pages – if it was Staples or Aburtov – but it was fantastic. The flames are really freaky. So, while I have some minor complaints, this was a great kick-off to the new series, and I really, really hope it does well, because I really do love Robbie, and Smith is a great writer.
There’s also a back-up, by Smith, Tradd Moore and Val Staples. At the gym, Robbie meets Fitness Guru and Personal Trainer to the Stars, Rhonda Rubens. She is jacked. The other guys in the gym are all excited to see her, and then she gets excited when she sees Robbie’s car. She loves cars, it seems. But, it turns out she’s actually a thief, and she tries to steal the car that night. Of course, she’s trying to steal Ghost Rider’s car. So, it goes as well as you’d expect. Oh, also, she’s a super-person who can slow down time in her general vicinity. This story’s just fun. It’s cute. I like Pyston Nitro, she seems fun. I kinda hope she shows up again. I wouldn’t mind if she and Robbie had a bit of flirtation going on. Moore’s art is what it is. You like it or you don’t. I like it. It has a lot of energy. It’s especially effective for conveying motion. But he also makes Rhonda look so damn ripped and it’s impressive.