X-Men comics of December 28 2016
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). 2016 is almost over. What a shitshow of a year. At least it’s almost over . . . to be replaced by the shitshow 2017 will be. Well, here’s the last comics of the year.
Extraordinary X-Men #17, by Jeff Lemire, Eric Koda, Tom Palmer and Morry Hollowell. In X-Haven, some girl is upset that her sister is dying of the M-Pox, and wants to complain to Storm, who’s ordered a full team meeting. The girl whose sister is dying narrates about her, says the sister always wanted to be a hero, and that Storm was her favourite. Logan and Storm talk about Storm’s doubts. The idea of going to war with the Inhumans is anathema to Storm. The girl finally manages to find Storm and get her to meet with her sister. Aww. OK, this scene’s really good. This issue’s great. It’s all about Storm, who and what she is, and what she means to people. And it’s done really well. It’s a really strong issue, quiet and dramatic and a character analysis more than anything else. The art’s good, too. There’s a splash of Storm at various points in her life that is especially gorgeous. (The “Rebel” panel is the best, and not just because Punk Storm will always and forever be Best Storm.) So, yeah, it’s a great issue.
X-Men ’92 #10, by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Cory Hamscher, Dono Sanchez Almara and Matt Milla. Scott and Jean are still in the future, training the X-Men 2099. This includes a Danger Room simulation of Punisher 2099 saying “I don’t need a beating, all I need is hate!” I should note that Punisher 2099 was a ridiculous book. It was an over-the-top parody of hyper-masculine comics (especially Punisher comics). I could never decide if it was so stupid it was genius, or so genius it was stupid. Anyway, Doom shows up and sends Scott and Jean home with the Darkhold. At Lilapalooza, X-Force fights the X-Men and X-Factor over Apocalypse, which honestly feels like wasted pages, but whatever. Blah blah, Scott and Jean show up and greet Cable as their son, very sweet. The Darkhold is used to turn everyone on Earth into a mutant to fight Xodus, because nothing says “diversity” quite like making everyone on Earth belong to a single group. Meh. At no point have I ever cared about this book, so I just can’t care enough to actually say anything about it. It’s over, whatever.
That’s the X-stuff, here’s other stuff:
Civil War II #8, by Brian Bendis, David Marquez and Justin Ponsor. There’s also art of future scenes, by *deep breath, Adam Kubert, Leinil Yu, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, Marco Rudy, Mark Bagley and John Dell, and Esad Ribic. Anyway, fighting, and holy hell, Marquez and Ponsor are fantastic. I’m not typically a fan of double-page splashes for battles; I feel like they often tend to slow the action down, and make it feel static. But here, it’s used the way it should be used: To set tone. To capture a specific moment, and more, to capture the feel of that moment. It’s not about having a big, cool pin-up, it’s about setting the scene. Anyway, fighting. And Stark is such an asshole. He fires missiles at Carol, who avoids them, and the missiles instead explode near Captain Steve. And then Stark acts like Carol is the one who almost got Steve killed. You fired the frigging missiles, Tony, you asshat! Anyway, others jump into the fight to break it up, and I really have to give props, again, to Marquez and Ponsor. Marquez does some great layouts, with wide-angle panels at the top, and smaller panels taking up the bulk of the space, which helps to give a real sense of motion and action. The usual approach with books like this is to do primarily large panels, but Marquez goes small, and it works so well. And it means when he does go big, it’s even more effective. Because, again, the splashes aren’t about something being cool, they’re about something being really important. Anyway, Carol wins the fight with a TKO, and then Ulysses shows a bunch more future visions, which consist of Monster Unleashed, what looks like IvX, Miles holding Captain Steve’s body, War of the Worlds (holy shit will we actually get a War of the Worlds event where the heroes fight the Martians?), what looks like a Days of Future Past thing (Marco Rudy is amazing, by the way), some Age of Ultron thing, and Thor vs. Loki (by Esad Ribic so it looks frigging spectacular). Then Ulysses evolves into some cosmic being and fucks off, which is, um, a choice. Tony’s left in a coma from the ass-kicking Carol gave him. Beast explains the whole fight was never Tony vs. Carol – Tony trusted Carol to be responsible – it was Tony vs. whoever came after Carol. In which case, Tony, come on, you really could have told her that. Tony was seriously an asshole this entire event. So CWII was . . . OK. Not actually as bad as I’m seeing a lot of people saying, but also not particularly great. It had some good moments. It had some bad moments. It had some major pacing issues. It had a bizarre Deus Ex Machina climax to remove Ulysses. The real stars of the event were Marquez and Ponsor, who did amazing work. This was a gorgeous event. Just stunning art, all the way through.
Hulk #1, by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon and Matt Milla. Jennifer Walters is getting ready for her first day back at work since her coma. She gets to the law firm she’s starting at, and everyone is paying way too much attention to her. And to her not being green. She gets to her office, and there’s a creepy lady (she’s either a mutant or an Inhuman, given her weird eyes, but shuffling around in the dark in Jen’s office is what makes her creepy) who’s Jen’s first client. She’s being evicted from her home, and she wants to not be evicted. Jen agrees to help, and feels pretty good about it. And then we see some more clients waiting, all of them . . . interesting. Is Jen going to be lawyering for non-human clients? That’s pretty awesome, actually. I love that idea. Feels like it’s picking up a little from Soule’s run, and then taking it a step further. Later, when she gets home, there’s some woman wanting to talk to her about her recent trauma. That gets Jen’s anger up a little, and she starts to Hulk out, and smashes the elevator a little before she can get herself back under control. Becoming Hulk is actually painful for her now, I guess because of Thanos almost killing her and Hawkeye killing Bruce. This is a really strong debut. This is a very, very character-driven book. And it’s a lot more serious than She-Hulk had traditionally been. There’s still some humour there, but there’s far more drama than usual. Which is great. It’s always nice to get a change of pace. And Tamaki, Leon and Milla do fantastic work here. Tamaki’s dialogue is smart and impactful. The art does a fantastic job with tone and mood. Milla does an especially good job with the colours. Milla’s not a colour artist who’s been on my radar. He just hasn’t been attached to books that have really excited me, so I haven’t paid as much attention to his work as I should have. But his work here definitely got my attention. It complements the writing and art beautifully, and really enhances the story. I was really excited for this book, and I was not disappointed.
Black Panther #8, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin. Changamire talks to his wife about the revolution, and his expectation that it’ll just end with another dictator. T’Challa’s narration compares Changamire’s impractical morality to T’Challa’s immoral practicality, and his own discomfort with the realities of being king. He thinks Shuri should wear the crown. Shuri, as an aside, has some goddamn sick abs. Stelfreeze is a very good artist. At a meeting later, Shuri notes that under the 12th Dynasty, Wakanda’s kings believed their duty was to make themselves obsolete. Those sound like cool kings. Anyway, she has a method for dealing with Changamire: Console him. Meanwhile, Tetu and the Midnight Angels make battle plans. The Midnight Angels express concerns about Tetu’s men mistreating women, and Tetu says that a war can’t spend time on “chivalry and manners.” Ah, Tetu, you are such a revolutionary. The old woman advising the Angels tells them they need to release the POWs they’ve been keeping. That they need to be moral. Tetu and Zenzi talk about the fight, with Zenzi making a speech about rage and hope being the foundations for victory. It’s a really cool speech. And one well worth remembering for the next few years. Man, I love this book. Such a great look at politics, revolutions, civil wars. Morality vs. Practicality. It’s a really smart book, and one with some really fascinating characters, as well. And great art. Nice to have Stelfreeze back. He does good work. The abs on Shuri, man. She is ripped. And Aneka’s face when she makes a speech near the end, there’s so much emotion there. She looks like she’s pleading for understanding, and even forgiveness, while her heart breaks. Martin’s colours are stellar, too. I love this series.
Ghost Rider #2, by Felipe Smith, Danilo Beyruth and Jesus Aburtov. The monster Cho fought last issue bursts out of the ground, and fights Laura. Her claws can’t get through its hide. But it can put her through a car. On the plus side, it leads to this awesome panel:
Hulk arrives and puts the thing through a window, which causes glass shards to cut Laura, which means the monster can drink her blood and get her powers. And also somehow grows three Laura-heads, and a pair of Laura-arms. But now, 6 pages in, we can get to the star of this book. Robbie’s taken Gabe back to the auto shop, where everyone loves Gabe because he’s great. Robbie goes into the washroom and throws up, and learns that he and Eli are strengthening their bond and getting more powerful. Also, a new guy’s been hired at the auto shop, having just gotten out of prison. Apparently, he killed a lot of members of a gang back in the day. Back a the monster fight, the monster uses Laura as a weapon against Amadeus. It’s pretty cool, actually. Also, Amadeus flirts with her. So. I have complaints. This book is called Ghost Rider. But it feels more like a stealth pilot for a new Fantastic Four. And if Marvel wants to put out All-New Fantastic Four with Felipe Smith writing it? I am 100% behind that and would absolutely buy that title. He actually does good work with Amadeus and Laura. They’re fun, and have kind of a fun chemistry, as he tries to flirt and she gives no shits and doesn’t seem to like him much. So I’d be down with Smith writing All-New Fantastic Four. But that’s not what he’s writing. He’s writing Ghost Rider. And Ghost Rider barely shows up in this issue. That’s a serious problem. This new guy, Ramon, is fairly interesting. An ex-con who wants out of the gang life, and wants to just live in peace. I’m interested in his story. But I’d be more interested if it didn’t get more space than Robbie Reyes, the protagonist of the book, and if half the issue wasn’t about Amadeus and Laura. Here’s what it ultimately comes down to: This is a well-written comic, but it’s a poor Ghost Rider comic, simply because the Ghost Rider is barely in it. I’m hopeful the next issue will fix things so that he’s a bigger presence in his own frigging book.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #14, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Ray-Anthony Height and Tamra Bonvillain. Ben Grimm sits on a bench next to Lunella, to talk to her about being a genius. She’s sarcastic towards him, of course. He offers to buy her a bagel while teaching her important life lessons, like Change Is Good, and Bagel Power is gone and Empire Bagel isn’t as good but it’s good enough. Amadeus shows up, and Ben is annoyed and says not to trust anyone who’s green. Come on, dude, Hulkling’s cool, at least. She-Hulk’s trustworthy. Manphibian’s really friendly. And, uh . . . some Skrulls are good? OK, I’m realizing that people with green skin have questionable histories. Marrina went crazy and turned into a monster that had to be killed. Ch’od’s a pirate. Wait! Leech! Leech is awesome! There, see? There are totally green people worth trusting. Anyway. Somewhere else, Doom asks his computer who’s the smartest one of all, and does a spit-take when it says Lunella is. I love the visual of Doom pulling a spit-take. It’s great. Ben and Amadeus argue over Lunella. This descends into a brawl. Two heroes, beating the crap out of each other, in the middle of a busy street, over who gets to talk to a little girl. Gee, I wonder why civilians dislike superheroes so much. Anyway, this is a fun issue. As usual. Moon Girl’s just a great all-ages series, with a positive message, and a good sense of humour.
Insexts #9, by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina and Jessica Kholinne. Lady and Mariah go to a secret art school for women, and are asked to help deal with men who’ve been hunting them. Side note: I like that the new character, Phoebe, is black. (So is her mom, of course.) It would have been so easy for Bennett and Kristantina to say, “Well, it’s 19th Century France, it’s not like black women were really a big part of society.” So, so many creators do that. If it’s set in Europe at any time in the past, people of colour just aren’t there. But there were people of colour all over Europe. And beyond that, it’s a story, so creators can include whoever they want. So it’s really cool that Bennett and Kristantina decided to go that route. This is a really interesting issue. It’s about the Parisian art scene not allowing women in, and women getting in anyway, and the men punishing them for it. Of course, this still comments on modern pop culture and its marginalizing women and POCs. I mean, even just looking at comics. In March, 19% of the titles Marvel puts out will have a woman or a POC on writing duties. Less than a fifth. Women and POCs aren’t allowed to write A-list titles – I guarantee that when Guardians of the Galaxy relaunch in May, it’ll be a white guy writing it. Not a single doubt in my mind about that. In Hollywood, white men are allowed to go from directing a single well-received low-budget indie flick, to directing a major blockbuster superhero film, and when anyone asks why women haven’t directed any, the answer is always that they have to “prove” themselves. Women and POCs – and especially WOCs – achieve any success, there’s always people trying to tear them down, to explain why they don’t deserve it. So, yeah, white men trying to keep women and POCs out of mainstream art? Still relevant.
Snotgirl #5, by Brian Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung and Mickey Quinn. Lottie has a photo shoot, learns that bitch Charlene banned her from the best coffee shop in town, and goes to a New Year’s party, where Coolgirl is weird and kinda creepy, and Lottie comforts Charlene and tells her she’s as lost as Charlene is. This is great. Lottie is actually growing a lot as a person. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Cutegirl is a total bitch who delights in Lottie’s misery, but Normgirl does seem to care. I really liked the scene between Lottie and Charlene, though. It was really sweet. And then Coolgirl ruins it by being weird. Also, gorgeous art. Hung and Quinn are magic. Sadly, Quinn leaves with this issue. A shame, because her colours have been beautiful. Rachael Cohen will be taking over the colours.