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X-Men comics of February 7 2017

February 8, 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My birthday was Tuesday. I’m 33 now. I celebrated my birthday by watching Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is such a good movie. In fact, I paused from writing this intro to order a t-shirt. Because I really do love that movie. Being 33 means I can spend $45 on a t-shirt for a children’s movie. Anyway! Here’s comics!

X-Men Red #1, by Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar, Ive Svorcina, and Cory Petit. A young girl named Heather is awoken in the middle of the night by a voice in her head telling her to flee an attacking mob. The X-Men rescue her. Jean, Kurt, and Laura, specifically. Kurt teleports Heather away, and right in front of a shark. Which is . . . not great planning, Kurt. We then go back two months, where a carjacking is foiled by a crying baby. Hyper-sonic crying that shatters windows. Laura loses a hand trying to cover the baby’s mouth. See, this is why I don’t want kids. Jean and Kurt show up to help Laura and Gabby calm the baby. Jean proceeds to travel around the world, talking to people and trying to set up a way to help new mutants. There’s a really nice scene of her and Kurt, where she calls him the soul of the X-Men, and he asks her not to die again. Jean’s idea involves Atlantis, which means Namor, but it’s justified. She needs a nation, and Namor’s a mutant leading a nation. She talks to the UN, and makes the point that talking about a minority without including that minority in the discussion is a bad way of doing things. She’s not wrong. She also raises a really, really strong point:

X-Men Red #1

Yes! This!

This gets to the heart of one of my biggest problems with the franchise. Xavier was, ultimately, a segregationist. He trained mutants to hide themselves. And mutants need to be public. They need to be out there, openly living their lives. And, yeah, it’s important that minority groups be accepted as a whole, not just their most extraordinary individuals. And then the issue ends on an intense note, with a great villain reveal. This is a great debut issue. It sets up a whole lot, it justifies most of the cast’s presence (OK, Laura and Gabby are pretty random, they just happened to be around, but Gabby so shut up). And it makes some pretty good statements regarding mutants as a minority. It builds off their history. It looks like this series might actually try to make real use of the mutants-as-minority angle, something too few X-titles really attempt, beyond lip service. This series seems set to make it part of its core plot, which is cool. Though I’d like a few more minority characters to go along with that. Alas, that is the other big problem with the franchise. Regardless, Taylor having Jean actually point out one of the biggest problems with Xavier’s approach was validating for me. There’s some good character work for her here. We don’t get a whole lot for anyone else, yet, but that’s because so much of the issue is set-up. I’m sure Taylor will do great work with everyone. I’m excited to read more of this series. It’s looking good!

X-Men Gold #21, by Marc Guggenheim, Diego Bernard, JP Mayer, Arif Prianto, and Cory Petit. It opens a few months ago, at a community college in Brooklyn, which has just been blown up by a new mutant, who then gets recruited by Mesmero (who’s pretending to be Xavier). Cut to the present, where the new Pyro, the new Avalanche and Mesmero are all in a prison for mutants. Mesmero suggests they get payback on Racist Lady Whose Name Is Actually Stated But Who Is Such A Boring Cliche That I Do Not Give One Single Wet Hot Shit About Her, and they walk out. In Central Park, Logan wants to leave because he figures his weakened healing factor makes him a liability. Kitty and Kurt find Rachel in the Danger Room, in a Ruined Future New York scenario, and in a spazzy new costume.

X-Men Gold #21

Enh. Not her best, not her worst.

I don’t know why they can’t just get Jamie McKelvie to give her a redesign. She talks about how her recent experiences have enhanced all her senses and she feels alive, and I’m sure that’s going to turn out just fine. Mesmero, Pyro, and Avalanche attack Racist Lady’s fundraiser, so the X-Men go to fight them, with Amara joining along to get some revenge on Mesmero. Remember the time in Young X-Men when Amara super-heated Dust into glass? And it almost killed Dust? It was pretty awful of Amara and I never felt it really fit her character. Guggenheim’s a hack. Anyway, this issue. As with so much of this run, it’s not that it’s bad, necessarily. It’s something worse: It’s largely boring. I also thought this issue was a bit too quick with scene-changes. It moved along at a brisk pace, but maybe a bit too brisk, at times. But beyond that, I just feel largely neutral on this issue. Less nostalgia-driven, at least. Guggenheim is finally trying to tell his own story, kinda. Though that story is still nothing particularly new. Brotherhood attacks racist, X-Men fight them. In terms of character drama, this issue frigging finally shifts the focus away from Kitty a bit. Rachel gets a scene focusing on her, Storm seeing off Logan was actually pretty nice, and the new Pyro is marginally interesting. But even so, everything still feels so shallow. Guggenheim is doing surface-level character drama, not going into the depth I prefer. Because Guggenheim is a hack. The art’s good. But hampered by hack writing.

Iceman #10, by Sina Grace, Robert Gill, Ed Tadeo, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino. Michaela and Idie get back to the school to see Iceman fighting Daken. Michaela spots Zach and chases after him, while Idie tends to the not-quite-dead Judah. By the way, Idie’s dress is pretty cute. Iceman is stupidly calm. He thinks Daken killed Judah, and he’s not even acting mad. Michaela beans Zach with a little table, so Zach loses control of the Death Seed energy, which ramps up Daken even more, so Iceman creates more ice-hims. So there’s fighting, there’s taunting, there’s Iceman declaring he’ll never stop caring about making the world better, and he also kisses Daken to try to freeze the Death Seed. Meeeeh. I just don’t care. It’s so hard to care. Michaela is cool, I like her. But Bobby is so flat here. Like, he thinks Daken just killed a dude, and he doesn’t show any anger? I get him not wanting to kill Daken, but no anger? And their dialogue is just dull. This issue bored me. It might be the weakest of the entire run. Sina Grace hasn’t yet gotten the knack of writing big fights. He’s so much better at character-driven scenes, and when he has to push the cape comic action, it just doesn’t work nearly as well. Also, I’m still not a fan of Gill’s art. Personal taste, though. Just not a style that appeals to me.

Rogue & Gambit #2, by Kelly Thompson, Pere Perez, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. So it turns out the last issue ending with them strapped to lab tables was kind of a fake-out. This issue opens with them rather bitter in an office. Then they start in on their problems with each other. This includes the time Rogue, wearing a nice dress, was knocked off Gambit’s bike by a wire across the road. I’m not sure why it’s included, except that it’s one of the funnier moments in X-Men history. There’s also a loooot of smooches. The therapist, who is clearly not prepared for the insanity of the Rogue/Gambit history, asks about their first meeting, and it turns out that’s a point of contention, as they can’t even agree on what counts as their first meeting. Because the Shadow King was involved. I love that. That is perfect. Rogue’s story has them meeting when Gambit offered his coat because her own clothes were shredded, with Thompson lampshading the way Rogue’s clothes always got shredded. Turns out, they’d touched the night before, when they were both still under Shadow King’s control. That night, the pair sneak through the therapy building’s air ducts to sneak in. While they do, they flash back to their previous meeting, while Rogue was under Shadow King’s control, and they fought. This is just so much fun. Rogue and Gambit have always had great chemistry, and Thompson plays it up so well. The art conveys it, too. It makes for a thoroughly fun read. Their bickering is hilarious. But there’s also a lot of heart, a lot of sincerity to their relationship. They do love each other, even if they drive each other nuts. The two stories of their first meeting are both good, and Rogue’s reasons for not wanting to count their mind-controlled meeting as their first meeting is really sweet. This is a good comic. I hope Thompson gets to write more Rogue.

I also picked up:

Black Bolt #10, by Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward (with Stephanie Hans!), and Clayton Cowles. Bolt and Titania find Lash, get taken captured, and Black Bolt gets lashed to a bomb that poisons him and drains his blood. And this is where Hans’ pages come in, as he dreams of Medusa. And daaaaamn. So gorgeous. Hans is amazing. Ward is amazing, too. He does such fantastic work on this book, lines and colours. It is a gorgeous series. And Ahmed’s prose is always phenomenal. Deep and rich.

She-Hulk #162, by Mariko Tamaki, Jahnoy Lindsay, Federico Blee, and Travis Lanham. It’s, uh, weird. Jen becomes a giant floating head. And argues with her Hulk body. She confronts all sorts of her inner demons, and in particular, Bruce’s death. This is a trippy issue, but a good trip through Jen’s subconscious, to move her back to her normal self. It was obvious that was going to happen. Despite the whining about Jen being different in this book, it was always obvious, to anyone capable of pattern recognition, that it would end with her back to her normal self. In the meantime, we got a pretty good series about trauma and grief. I’ll miss this series, after it ends with the next issue.

Hawkeye #15, by Kelly Thompson, Leo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino. The Hawkeyes kick ass, come up with terrible plans, Kate is insulted that Clint didn’t like being kissed by Masque in Kate’s body, and Kate gets a bad Dryve passenger rating. Oh, and Clint hates Stark’s hearing aid, because it fritzes when he gets hit in the head. And Clint gets hit in the head a lot. It’s a good comic. So much fun.

Along with WicDiv 1923 and Snotgirl. Which I’m waiting until the weekend to actually read, when I’ll have more time to linger.

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From → 2018

4 Comments
  1. Ultimately passed on X-Men Red in the shop and will likely live to regret it, by the sounds of things: any and all attempts to build a more in-depth structure for the X-Men’s goals beyond ‘do superhero stuff and hope everyone likes us’ are always welcome, and Mystery Villain is one that always fascinates. Sadly my pull list isn’t getting smaller and it’s been a tricky month financially, so I had to get tough on things and in the absence of any characters or creators that I deem must-follow, chose to pass. I’ll pick up the trades if it stays this good.

    Still ignoring Gold, so this is the first I’m seeing of Rachel’s new duds, and….ergh. I may be the only one but I honestly loved her ‘Prestige’ outfit (even if the name is the kind of thing that needs too much explanation to be good). It has nice colour balance, simple lines, an interesting ‘mask’ and one of my favourite things in superhero looks, an irregular cape. Capes in general are fine, but I think the standard Superman cut has had its day, and there’s so much more to be done with them. Rachel’s one had a nice short cut and bucklers holding it on, which I thought was sweet. This new thing is just her Prestige colours slapped on the last outfit she wore, complete with the dumb spike shoulders and the hound markings I still don’t get why she’d ever want to keep. Apart from being ugly and less impressive, it also smacks of reversal, like we’re preparing to negate any and all growth Rachel’s experienced of late (yeah I know, not really saying much with this book, but still). It’s almost hilarious that, of all the irritating decisions Guggenheim has made over the course of Gold, the one thing he’s prepared to go back on is the one that would’ve been fine left as is. But we’ll be stuck with doormat husband Colossus and useless Storm for the foreseeable future, I’m sure.

    …that was a lot of rambling considering I generally don’t care much for Rachel.

    Oh and Iceman happened. Mostly agree with you here. Grace can’t quite summon the necessary drama for an ‘epic’ fight, and Bobby feels less threatened by Daken here than he did by that newb Purifier back in #1. The little asides with Idie and Michaela are infinitely more attention-grabbing. Ah well, at least Daken got beaten up, which never gets old, but I really hope for something more personal from the last issue. This series has been too good to go out like this.

    Beyond that, Venom got one more issue to itself before being swallowed by crossover stuff, with Javier Garron art (yay) and Spider-Woman (also yay) and the symbiote throwing a huff because Eddie asked a woman out for dinner (“But you eat with ME!” – just in case anyone still didn’t get the theme of this series). Spirits of Vengeance concluded; it was kinda bland overall, and Blade served no purpose, but David Baldéon made the thing look dynamite throughout (can’t wait for Domino!). And Scarlett’s Strike Force got its second (also second-last) issue, continuing the upward trend from the previous series, and man I’m still hugely mad we lost this book because of idiots complaining about a tweet. Le sigh.

    • Fair, on Red. The eternal balance of what comics are worth the money.

      I didn’t like Rachel’s Prestige outfit. I just found it dull.

  2. X-Men Red is off to a great start. If this is any indication as to the rest of this series, then in my reading, I’ll just treat it as the flagship title until something better than Gold comes along. Or at least Gold gets a new writer who isn’t a hack.

    It looks like both She-Hulk and Hawkeye are ending after the next issue. They’ve both been great in different ways (Hawkeye is just plain fun, while She-Hulk is very dramatic yet is still fun when it tries to be). I’ll miss them both. But at least it feels like She-Hulk will finish its intended story. Not sure if there will be enough time for Kate to wrap up all of her loose ends.

    • Red is absolutely the flagship.

      She-Hulk, Hawkeye, and Generation X, all ending wwith their next issues. A few other titles, too. Shitty culling.

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