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X-Men comics of July 19 2017

July 20, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Comics, which kept me up entirely too late.

X-Men Gold #8, by Marc Guggenheim, Ken Lashley, Frank Martin, Andrew Crossley, and Cory Petit. Rachel stops a bullet from hitting Colossus in the hit, and throws it back at the X-Cutioner, who’s wearing adamantium-laced body armour, because surely that would be easy to come by. Rockslide and Dust call Kitty to let her know about all the bombs in the Danger Room, so she heads down to help. Out in the city, Nightcrawler’s being attacked by people who think he’s a demon, so Logan and Storm rescue him. Nightcrawler’sreally badly beaten, and says that they killed him, but because he escaped Heaven, he’s not allowed back in. Following up on that weird Amazing X-Men arc by Jason Aaron. The one that brought back Azazel, despite Azazel being a shitty character who should’ve been forgotten forever. Back at the school, Kitty orders an evacuation of the school while she sees if the X-Cutioner has a disarming trigger for the bombs. She also expresses a certain jaded disinterest in the idea of the school being blown up again. Which is fair, the school gets wrecked every 5 minutes. Also, Colossus gets a pretty perfect line. As he’s heading back inside to help Kitty, Rockslide reminds him his powers don’t work, and he’d be crazy to go back in. Colossus responds, “I am not crazy, I am Russian.” Which also sets up scene shift to Russia, where a couple guys make a deal with the Hand for the return of Omega Red’s body. Then to the school, where a freshly-katana’d Kitty goes after the X-Cutioner. Soooo . . . meh. Much as I love Kitty, even I’m starting to think that Guggenheim’s giving her too much focus. Or, more accurately, he’s not giving enough focus to the rest of the cast. It means that most of the main cast is still flat, with little real personality. And Kitty, frankly, actually isn’t much deeper, despite the vast amounts of panel time she gets. Guggenheim’s take on Kitty reminds me quite a bit of Bendis’ take, but with less charm. She’s been entirely too serious throughout the series so far. She makes lots of snarky comments, but there’s no happiness to her. Or to any of the other characters. This is a series that is utterly joyless, beyond a couple superficial moments in a couple issues. (“Look! Softball! You like when the X-Men play softball, right?”) It is taking itself so goddamn seriously, while having not a single goddamn interesting thing to say. The X-Cutioner’s motive is that he’s angry at the X-Men for not caring about the consequences of their big battles. Sure, because it’s not like that hasn’t been a recurring theme for decades. Claremont routinely had characters looking at the wreckage left behind by one of their fights, and musing about how they need to be mindful of the consequences, and the human cost. And, oh yeah, Marvel had a big frigging Civil War event set off by superheroes not paying enough attention to the consequences of their actions. But sure, this dude with no personality is definitely the one who’s going to make readers really think about the issue. Also, holy shit was this X-Cutioner ever a boring, shitty character. He had no personality beyond revenge. There was absolutely no depth to him at all. There was nothing there. He wasn’t a character, he was a plot device, for a pretty generic and dull plot. Also, he’s outfitted with all this incredibly high-tech stuff, and no one even wonders where he got it. It’s possible that’ll be revealed later – I would kinda expect it to tie into the Generic Mutant-Hating Politician lady’s plot – but it would feel like kind of an ass-pull, because this story doesn’t even try to suggest that readers should be wondering about it. If you’re going to do a reveal about something down the line, it’s something the reader should be expecting a reveal about. At least the art’s good. Lashley. Woot. Yay Lashley, totally wasted on a painfully generic and lifeless story. Marc Guggenheim is a hack.

Astonishing X-Men #1, by Charles Soule, Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong, Richard Isanove, Rain Beredo, and Clayton Cowles. Psychics are being telepathically murdered, around the world. Then Psylocke, in London, gets attacked. Bishop happens to be in the British Museum, reading, looking for some indication about the inevitable end of the world. Angel is in Scotland, apparently just flying. Gambit and Fantomex are in Paris, trying to rob the Louvre. Logan and Rogue are in the X-jet, somewhere over the Atlantic, on their way back to the US from something. They all get hit by Psylocke’s telepathic cry for help. She’s created a giant psychic butterfly, clinging to the side of the Spire (I think? I’m not really up to date on London landmarks). So, everyone converges there, to try to help free her from whatever’s possessing her. In the midst of the fight, Gambit charges up a couple of Fantomex’s clips, to create exploding bullets. Which is a pretty cool use of his power. As for this issue, it’s very dense. It’s a bit longer than a normal comic, and it has an extremely fast pace. Soule and Cheung make room for some character interactions, and they try to have some fun with it, but it all moves along so quickly that it’s hard to really catch a breath with any of it. Plus, the cast assembled just feels so random. They all just happened to be in the area. Why? Why not, I guess. Because the plot demanded that they all be there. The return of the Shadow King is all fine and good, no particular problem there, he’s a classic X-foe. But so much about the story here just feels like it was slapped together in order to justify what’ll come after. Which is a little disappointing. But hopefully, now that the set-up’s done, Soule and Cheung will do a better job at telling the story going forward. Speaking of Cheung, while his art is great, I can’t really say I enjoy it. There’s something flat about it, I find. He’s obviously immensely talented, I just have trouble getting invested in his art. Also, as I recall, he’s pretty bad for hitting deadlines, so we’ll see if this series starts getting hit with delays. Regardless, all in all, this is a clumsy and messy start to what should be a perfectly serviceable X-Men series.

Totally Awesome Hulk #21, by Greg Pak, Robert Gill, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Karla returns to Serenity Hills, with Bobby, the future test subject. Elsewhere, Amadeus tells the others that they’ve found the Weapon X base. Sabretooth suggests dropping a bomb on it from above, but Amadeus says there’s kids. So Sabretooth suggests getting the bomb into the labs, and Amadeus refuses that option, too. He’s too soft for a murder team. Pretty much everyone just wants to get the bomb into the labs and blow the whole place up, so he grabs the bomb, and he and Sabretooth fight. While Warpath says the stuff about wolf packs having Alphas isn’t true. Because it’s not. The guy guy who came up with the Alpha Male idea later rejected it as incorrect. I love comics that take time to educate. Especially when it’s a casual conversation while action is happening behind them. Anyway, Sabreooth knocks Amadeus out of the plane and detonates the bomb. This issue continue’s the crossover’s trend of starting off creepy and casually evil, before becoming fun. Pak is just enjoying himself with this arc, and it’s nice to see. There’s a lot of fun banter among the team. It makes for an enjoyable read. The Weapon X people are awful, but so professional about it, you kinda can’t help but appreciate them. And the hero team is such a strange contrast of personalities, yet they play off each other really well. The art’s really good. Gill’s got a strong style, and Woodard’s a stellar colour artist. They nail both the creepy bits and the comedic moments equally well. This crossover’s unexpectedly delightful.

That’s the X-stuff, here’s what else I read.

Ms. Marvel #20, by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Ian Herring and Travis Lanham. We open on Aamir giving a very impassioned speech about what leads to radicalized Muslims. He makes the argument that they’re usually people who tried to assimilate, but who were never really accepted, and who then got roped in by some jerkass preying on their disillusionment. Then he’s told he wasn’t brought in for terrorism, he was brought in for unreported powers. He’s going to be made an example, to show that Jersey City has no tolerance for superheroes. Kamala wakes up on the Waterfront, hallucinates about Bruno, and then wakes up fully. She finds a rally for Mayor Chuck Worthy, and tries to talk to the people there, but Discord and Lockdown attack her, and she’s forced to flee. As always, great work from the Ms. Marvel team. It can’t be over-stressed what an MVP Ian Herring is on this series – colour artists tend to get overlooked when discussing comics, but right from the first issue, Herring’s been knocking it out of the park, providing a sense of consistency to the visuals, and always setting the right tone with the colours. For the story, though, Wilson is pretty clearly tapping into the zeitgeist of the moment. Chuck Worthy denying his Hydra ties is pretty similar to Trump denying his Russian ties. The promotion of hate and fear reflects what’s happening in the US, and an innocent Muslim being threatened with deportation is obviously not intended to be subtle. Wilson’s never shied away from getting political in Ms. Marvel, but now she’s leaning into it more than ever. It’s to her credit that she makes clear that the people supporting Worthy have valid concerns, even if Worthy himself is pretty clearly terrible. So the political commentary is smart and compelling. And the art’s great. Failla nails the facial expressions all through, especially Aamir’s expressions during his soliloquy. Anger, fear, fatigue, sadness. All exhibited clearly on his face. It’s very good work.

USAvengers #8, by Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna. Flashback to Toni’s childhood! She was in class, when she was pulled out and told that her father had died. A part of her has always blamed Tony Stark. And another part has wondered what she would have done in her dad’s situation. Now, she’s in that situation, locked in a cell with a dying Sunspot. Being shot in the head activated his powers, which are killing him because of his M-Pox. He’s hallucinating, too, so no help at all. So she starts working on a plan. In Paris, Doreen and Aikku have hooked up with a bunch of European heroes – Peregrine, Excalibur (Faiza Hussein!), Guillotine, Captain Britain, Outlaw and Ares. Awesome team. Excalibur is so awesome. Screw Brian Braddock, give us Faiza Hussein in the MCU. A Muslim woman in a headscarf who opens people with her mind and runs around with King Arthur’s sword. Also, Excalibur and Guillotine get along pretty well, even though their swords hate each other, and their friendship makes me happy. And Captain Britain uses the word “bagatelle,” and I honestly can’t imagine not laughing at that word. And Squirrel Girl creates a new battlecry: “Euro-U.S.Avengers – E.U.-nite!” I love this book. Meanwhile, in space, Cannonball is being sold at auction. Oh, and back on Earth, it turns out Philip Vogt is in the same prison as Toni. Neat! He even references events in Ultimates 2. As always, this is a lot of fun. We get some great Toni focus, with her thinking about her dad, and trying to think of a way to save Roberto and get out of the prison. She’s a fantastic character, and really deep here. She shows off just how clever she us, and how fearless. The Euro-U.S.Avengers part of the story is a lot of fun, with a great set of characters. Doreen and Aikku don’t do much, but that’s OK, because the European heroes are so good. I want more of them. They should get their own book. I love the art, too. Medina, Vlasco and Aburtov work together so well. The art is crisp and clear, and always interesting. And the comedic and dramatic beats are perfectly timed. This is one of the few titles where I don’t mind the Secret Empire tie-in, because it’s handled particularly smartly.

Ultimates 2 #9, by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino. The Maker is meeting with the High Evolutionary on Counter-Earth, and they spy on a meeting between Logos and the Aspirants, or Death Celestials. A meeting that is crashed by Galactus, Ego-Prime, Psi-Hawk, and the Infinaut, the Eternity Watch. As they fight, Maker and Evolutionary watch, and record. The Maker is crazy, but also absolutely compelling. The Dark Celestials allow it, so Galactus sends the Ghost of the Shaper of Worlds to collect the Ultimates, who are still fighting the Chitauri. America uses a portal to access the dimension of pure force that Cyclops’ blasts come from! Whihc is amazing! Meanwhile, T’Challa, still on Earth, goes to meet the White Tiger God. This issue is . . . weird. Which is the standard for this series. It’s always weird. Big, crazy cosmic ideas that I barely understand, but which are thrilling to read. Foreman and Brown kill on this book. There’s an abstractness to it that fits the story perfectly. This is thrilling, fascinating stuff. Not as character-driven as I’d like, but brilliant at what it’s doing.

America #5, by Gabby Rivera (with help from Kelly Thompson), Ramon Villalobos, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer, and Travis Lanham. It’s spring break, so America goes to stay with Kate for a bit, to get her bearings after the events of the first arc. America and Kate are so good together. America talks about what’s been going on, and Kate teases and supports her. Also, America gets a message from an old friend, asking for her help, but no portals. So, road trip! During this road trip, they sing “Just A Girl” by No Doubt, and it’s a pretty awesome song, so hell with it:

This is actually the only No Doubt song I like. Anyway, they then meet up with Magdalena, America’s old friend. And things get exciting. This is a good issue. America and Kate are just such perfect friends, nothing but love between them, and it shines through in their every line. Kelly Thompson’s collaboration ensures Kate sounds exactly like she should, and her detective skills get a little bit of recognition. I actually wouldn’t have minded more time spent on the road trip, though it definitely would’ve ruined the pacing of the issue. From a pacing perspective, the time spent on the road trip is exactly as long as it should have been. I think I just want an entire series about a KateMerica road trip, honestly. However, the pacing of this issue was pretty much perfect, which is good, because weird pacing has been one of this book’s biggest problems. America’s cheerfulness still feels wrong to me, but I’m actually inclined to allow it here, because Kate. This is far and away the best issue of the series, which is no surprise. Oh, also, I know Villalobos’ art won’t be for anyone, but I think it works spectacularly well here. I’m not sure what it is, but something about his art on this issue just works. Like, personal taste aside, he just kills it. And Tamra Bonvillain on colours. It’s Tamra Bonvillain. She’s one of the best.

Luke Cage #3, by David Walker, Nelson Blake II, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Sabino. It starts with a flashback from a few months ago, with Warhawk talking about being confused, and only being able to focus when he’s angry. And Dr. Burstein says it’s his fault, and he wants to help. Then, in the present, Warhawk and Luke are having to deal with Frankie, who’s out of control from the drug that Burstein’s assistant gave him. During the fight, Frankie stabs  Warhawk with one of the cut-through-anything blades, and Warhawk uses the blade to decapitate Frankie, as revenge for Frankie ruining his car. This is a good issue. The fight’s really good. Very exciting. Warhawk’s obsession with his car is entertaining. There’s more mysteries unfolding. There’s a big last-page twist that has me feeling pretty good about myself. Good writing. Good art. Good series.

Once again, I didn’t really have time for the non-Marvel stuff. But Insexts and Bitch Planet are always amazing and you should 100% be reading them.

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From → 2017

2 Comments
  1. Starting to miss Extraordinary X-Men yet? It wasn’t a good series, but it at least had moments. At least it allowed Magik to be kind of awesome. X-Men Gold just sounds [insert snoring noise here].

    I hesitated to pick up Astonishing X-Men 1. Sounds like I was right to hesitate.

    How did I forget to pick up Ultimates 2 9 again? Maybe I should check my pull list earlier in the night, when I’m not so tired.

    • EXM at least tried to balance its cast, and gave some depth to some of them. XMG is just so shallow.

      AXM will likely be a solid series, and there is plenty to enjoy in the first issue. I just found it to be a bit clumsy.

      I actually go into my LCS knowing the number of comics I’m looking for, which helps me remember the specific ones.

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