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X-Men comics of January 31 2018

February 1, 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So did you watch the State of the Union on Tuesday night? Why the hell would you do that? Ratings and attention are what that asshole wants, so deprive him of both. Anyway, here’s comics.

All-New Wolverine #30, by Tom Taylor, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. Laura’s done a little brain surgery to bring back Sabretooth, Deathstrike, Logan, and Daken, who is not at all uncomfortable with being naked. Laura tells them they’re not killing the Orphans of X, because the whole reason the Orphans formed is because Laura and the others killed people close to them. As they go searching through the base, we get this delightful panel:

All-New Wolverine #30

The wrong room to be in.

Also, Laura gets to Captain America: She throws her shield, it hits a guy and bounces back to her. And Laura finds out that Henry Sutter is involved, and is the one that turned the Orphans from a support group into killers. She’s more convinced than ever that she needs to talk the Orphans down. In her armour, initially, but only to get their attention, so she can actually talk to them, and it’s good stuff. She makes a powerful statement about refusing to apologize for being young and powerless, to feel guilty about being used and abused, and it’s a strong statement. This is a great end to the arc. It was a good arc, and a great finish, as Laura continues to show how far she’s come, and to make peace with her past, and try to find some way to make good with the people she hurt. To stand with them, as one of them, as a victim of the same people responsible for their pain. It’s fantastic. I love it. Great art, too. This is probably the issue’s standout panel:

All-New Wolverine #30

Maybe the week’s standout panel.

There’s a panel in Phoenix Resurrection #5 that gives it stiff competition. But that is an amazing panel. That is a brilliant bit of work. And so effective. Also gorgeously drawn. Man. So good. This is such a great comic. Still the best title in the X-line.

Phoenix Resurrection #5, by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett, Gerry Alanguilan, Belardino Brabo, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham. Logan tries to get Jean to remember herself, and then he slices Annie’s throat, because he’s not great at talking things out. Storm wouldn’t have sliced Annie’s throat. Just saying. It does seem like Jean starts to remember who she is. She throws him out the window, which is always a good sign. And now she’s Black Phoenix. Things are tense when she lands among the X-Men. Super-tense.

Phoenix Resurrection #5

Feel the tension.

The Phoenix tries to sway Jean to its side, speaking through her dead friends and family, which isn’t at all creepy, giant flaming bird. She’s actually a bit shaken by all the dead people. It’s, uh, it’s been a rough few years. She rejects the offer in a big burst of energy, which also changes her shoes from flats to heels, which is a neat trick. You can’t not see it. Yu very clearly draws her in flats. And Bennett actually has a close-up on her heels. It’s distracting for a moment, but then it gets easy to ignore, because the scene is focused on Jean and Scott. And a reminder that, for all the shit they went through . . . they were a great couple.

Phoenix Resurrection #5

Such feels.

Man. I’ve been saying for a while that, if Scott and Jean are ever alive together again, I don’t think they should get back together. For just a moment, this scene had me second-guessing that. The love they share is presented so well. It’s so simple, and so strong. But then the scene gets even better, as it feels like they acknowledge that, while they will always love each other, what they had is over. It is such a powerful, beautiful scene. And it continues with Jean just talking to the Phoenix.

Phoenix Resurrection #5


Also, can I just note that Jean petting the Phoenix’s beak is adorable? The Phoenix, the big cosmic flaming bird, life and death incarnate, being stroked like a good birb. How can I not love that image? Anyway, the Jean/Phoenix scene is really powerful, too. Jean makes a strong case for why they can’t be together, why they have to be separate beings, leading their own existences. This is such a great finale. So, so, so good. It’s really strong, emotional stuff, and while Yet Another Phoenix Story isn’t something that particularly thrills me, Rosenberg does try to use this as a way to end the constant Phoenix cycle. (It won’t, of course. We’ll get more Phoenix stories. Probably within 5 years. Hell, with how horribly nostalgia-driven the X-Men office is these days, we’ll probably get another Phoenix story within two years. But it’s the thought that counts, so I’ll give Rosenberg credit for trying to write a logical Last Phoenix Story.) All my complaints about the rest of the mini are largely moot in this issue: It’s focused almost entirely on Jean, so the swollen cast doesn’t come into play. And that specific focus makes it so much better. It’s so easy to care. Rosenberg also writes a solid Jean. She feels like Jean. Like how Jean is supposed to feel. Not like ’90s cartoon Jean, but more like ’90s comics Jean, and I don’t even give a shit, I will defend ’90s comics Jean, she was great, usually. The art’s really good, too. Yu’s pages are better than usual. I’m not generally a fan of his style, but he did some especially strong work here. And then Bennett’s pages are gorgeous. The pencils, inks and colours all work perfectly. Especially the colours, I think. Rosenberg complements Bennett’s lines so beautifully. Rosenberg’s colours are always excellent, but her colours with Bennett’s pencils are just really something special. A pairing I hope to see a lot more of. Because damn. I can’t stress enough how gorgeous the art is, how amazing the Bennett/Brabo/Rosenberg team is. For all the complaints I’ve had about this mini, this finale is brilliant and beautiful and emotional, and I’m glad this particular issue exists. And next week, we get the start of X-Men Red! I’m excited for that!

Jean Grey #11, by Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibanez, Alberto Alburquerque, Jay David Ramos, and Travis Lanham. Teen Jean is dead and in Hell. It’s hard to fault that placement, really. Darkchilde Illyana is there, too, and that means a cool fight. Jean beats the Darkchilde easily enough, while disagreeing with her placement in Hell, and the Demonchilde is burned away, with Phoenix Illyana taking her place. Then she goes back to caveman days, and:

Jean Grey #11


After that is the Days of Future Past, where she encounters Rachel, and she clearly hasn’t actually met Rachel.

Jean Grey #11

“Happy” is not a good description of Rachel.

Rachel gets so infuriated by this comment that she basically destroys the world. Jean asks her to talk to her, but instead, Rachel decks her into a Shi’ar civil war. And a pretty good point made by Jean:

Jean Grey #11

Crazies, or someone with performance anxiety.

So, I wouldn’t normally spoil the late part of the issue, but this is the final issue of the series, and we already know Teen Jean’s still alive as part of the crossover with Venom, so screw it, here’s spoilers. Teen Jean pretty much forces the Phoenix Force to resurrect her. She is so badass, she forces the cosmic force that killed her to then bring her back, through sheer force of Screw You. Teen Jean is the most herself she ever has been or probably ever will be, and it’s great. I love it. Good for her, for being so epic. This is a great issue, really fun to read, with some neat views of some other Phoenix hosts, and an epic confrontation between Teen Jean and Phoenix. Man, Phoenix had bad luck with Jeans this week, though Adult Jean was waaaay nicer. Which makes sense. Teen Jean’s refusal to be Adult Jean has given her a much harder edge, which is part of what I love about her. She’s an unapologetic bitch, who’s completely run out of shits to give, and it’s so charming. The art’s good, too. I don’t know what it is, but I like Ibanez more than usual. I never dislike Ibanez, but he’s not one of my favourites. Still, something about the art in this issue clicked with me more than usual. I don’t know if maybe it’s just Albruquerque’s inks. (He’s worked with Ramos plenty, so I know it’s not that. Though Ramos’ colours are as great as ever.) Whatever it is, the art’s as good as the writing, and it’s an enjoyable issue that ends on a moment I would love to see more of and I’m so disappointed we won’t get to see it.

Old Man Logan #34, by Ed Brisson, Ibraim Roberson, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit. Mariko tells a story about how Clan Yashida’s been fighting the Hand for centuries, and how they went to war over Madripoor and kept the Hand out. Now, the Hand is trying to take over. Mariko wants to go kill some ninjas, but Logan’s still hurt. And I need to take issue with something:

Old Man Logan #34

Yeah, no, not actually true.

See, when Mariko was still alive, Logan wasn’t at the point where he was immediately healing from any damage he took. His healing factor was a lot less potent than it would later become. There were plenty of times, back in the day, where Logan nearly died from his injuries. He became more invincible when he gave in to his berserker rage, but even then, it just meant he ignored pain and injuries until he came back to his senses, at which point he could take days to heal up. That tends to get forgotten. Back in the day, if Logan was hurt badly enough, it still took him time to recover. Even bullet wounds could cause him problems. Eventually, bullet wounds just stopped mattering, healing pretty much the moment they formed. But back in the day, they’d slow him down for a while. I preferred him then, if I’m honest. The stronger his healing factor got, the more he bored me. Regardless, Mariko also says he’s a terrible liar, as an indication he might be the man she remembers. They go looking for the Crazy Thunder Clan, to find the Regenix, and the Hand. It’s an OK issue. Could probably have spent a little more time on the fact that Mariko is back from the dead. Really tried to indicate how it’s affected her. She seems mostly fine. Also: Can I just say that Mariko The Badass Samurai does not interest me at all? It feels like a misunderstanding of her character. Mariko wasn’t great because she could chop up ninjas. She was great because she was a fine, proper lady of class and character, who was still strong-willed and resolute in her duties. She didn’t need to be the one killing ninjas. That wasn’t the point of her character. Making her a ninja-killing badass arguably makes her less interesting, by just making her yet another Strong Female Character, cool because of feats rather than because of any actual strength of her character. I really liked Mariko. I thought she was a great character, and far and away Logan’s best love interest. (It’s not even close. Mariko was his true love. Anyone who says different is wrong.) She was at her best when she was quietly compelling. She should be winning battles of words. Her victories should be moral ones. Villains more powerful than she trying to make her obey them, and her simply telling them no. But nope, we get Badass Samurai Lady. Meh. So, yeah, I think this entire arc is kind of a mistake. Though I enjoy the art in this issue. I don’t like Deodato. But I do like Roberson. He’s good.

May as well touch on what else I read.

Moon Girl #27, by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. Lunella doesn’t much like Ben, Herbie delivers sick burns on Johnny and reveals his true name, Doomhead is an eternal delight, Ben and Johnny are the worst at rescuing cats from trees, Lunella’s learning to be more forgiving, and there are cute Valentine cards in the back. This is a good comic. It’s a lot of fun. And the art remains beautiful, of course.

Falcon #4, by Rodney Barnes, Joshua Cassara, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna. Shaun has the best mom. Not only does she encourage him in his superhero pursuits, she pushes him to keep at it. Sam’s in the afterlife and meets the Two-Gun Kid, who remembers him from his own adventures in the present. Dr. Voodoo recruits Hellstrom. Patriot recruits the other Falcon. And Sam Wilson has a trippy experience of self-discovery. It’s good. Good stuff. Really interesting. All about Sam figuring out who he is. I’m enjoying this. Blackheart’s a weird initial villain, but Barnes and Cassara are making it work.

Captain Marvel #128, by Margaret Stohl, Michele Bandini, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Caramagna. Evil Peter Quill is even dumber than Regular Quill, there’s mutiny, Gamora and Nebula don’t get along in any universe, Good Thanos is vaguely unsettling, and Michele Bandini is such a good artist. I will note that this arc is the first time this series has been good. There’s a little more weight to everything. But it’s still not as good as it should be. Carol gets blessedly little to do in this issue, besides snark. It’s mostly about Quill’s crew, and Hero Thanos. World-building for an alternate reality we’ll be leaving soon, and while it’s a fun twist on the regular universe, it still feels like some wasted space. This is Carol’s book, she shouldn’t be sidelined the way this issue did it. Also, the book still suffers from lack of a strongly-established supporting cast. The main reason to keep buying, I think, is for the Bandini/Arciniega art. It is very pretty. Still, unless things get immensely better in the next couple issues, I will be dropping the book after this arc.

From → 2017

  1. All-New Wolverine 30 didn’t go the way I expected it to, but if anything that’s for the better. Lots of great moments in both the writing and the art.

    Phoenix Resurrection 5 is by far the best issue in the mini-series, if only because it focuses almost entirely on Jean and not on an oversized team of X-Men. And like you said, there are several beautiful moments.

    Jean Grey 11 is weird, but fun. Not sure what else to say about this one. A moment between adult and teen Jean would be good though.

    • I so desperately wanted to see the Jeans talk, agree they’re different people, get to know each other, and become friends. I feel like Adult Jean would actually really like Teen Jean.

  2. Phoenix Resurrection #5 does make the series worthwhile, though I figure it would’ve landed just as well if the story had been told over 2 annual-size issues instead of a full mini. Could’ve kept all the meaningful Jean stuff and trimmed down the majority of the time spent with the X-Men who don’t really accomplish anything beyond some fun character beats. But, still, I don’t regret buying in, and the reunion with Cyclops was very well handled – although I was left wondering how and when the Phoenix dug up his mouldy corpse and teleported all the way inside its bubble-town. Actually, was he even buried? I know they showed us a grave but that was an empty casket for Emma’s faux-clops projection. Was the real one just left on a slab someplace?

    All that said, Jean Grey #11 still provided me with the kind of Phoenix content I enjoy most: the stupid god bird being told to **** off and getting slapped around. That was immensely satisfying, and I’m gonna miss having Hopeless – and Ibanez, for that matter – on an X-book.

    The biggest problem with Captain Marvel right now, at least to me, is it spends so long on its chitty-chat that there’s not enough space to make anything else meaningful. How much of this issue was the equivalent of talking heads? It’s not bad dialogue or anything, I found much of it funny, but it doesn’t move the plot along as fast as it needs to go, so when the talking stops everything else is in too much of a hurry to really hit home. I’m pretty sure Carol has the reality gem by the end of the issue, but for the life of me I can’t tell when she got it away from Nebula. I still don’t wanna trash Margaret Stohl completely because I know she cares about the book, and she does have her moments, but I feel like we’d be in better shape if she had a co-writer to basically sort out the nuts and bolts of the story, laying out exactly what important stuff needs to happen in each issue, then letting her write around that and fill in the blanks. At least until she’s got a better grasp on comics pacing.

    Also, this isn’t really a cameo but I thought it’s worth mentioning: the latest Moon Knight issue has a page where Marc Spector bonds with his newly-discovered daughter by digging out his Dazzler LPs. Which I don’t remember him having before, but I guess ’70s Marvel characters gotta stick together.

    • I think the biggest problem with Captain Marvel is actually one of tone. Even the loads of dialogue would work better with a better tone.

      Unsurprising Moon Knight would be a Dazzler fan. EVERYONE in the Marvel Universe is a Dazzler fan.

  3. G'kar permalink

    I think Captain Marvel is going to be put on hiatus until infinity countdown is over because I haven’t seen it in the solicitations for March or April or maybe its been canceled I don’t know for sure.

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