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X-Men comics for July 4 2018

July 4, 2018

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Happy Independence Day to Americans. Belated Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks. Happy Wednesday to everyone else. Scarlett Johansson is apparently unwilling to learn from her mistakes. She got a lot of criticism for playing a Japanese character in the live-action Ghost In the Shell. Now, she’s going to be playing a trans man in an upcoming movie. A biopic about a real trans man. And at this point, you’ve gotta figure that she just doesn’t care. She had to know that real trans people would be upset – as they are every time a cis actor plays a trans character – and she just didn’t give a shit. She knows she’ll get an Oscar nomination for playing a trans man, and she genuinely does not give a shit how actual trans people feel about it. I’ve never liked Johansson as an actor, but now, I don’t even particularly like her as a person. So I am even less interested in a Black Widow solo than I already was. Anyway, I’m making my way through Luke Cage. Finished up to episode 9. There needs to be a Daughters of the Dragon spin-off about Misty and Colleen being awesome together. But for now, here’s comics.

X-Men Gold #31, by Marc Guggenheim, Pere Pérez, Jay David Ramos, Matt Milla, and Joe Caramagna. Rachel wakes up in her room at the Clarebyrne Hotel, which I guess is kind of a semi-clever nod. Mesmero’s waiting for her, and takes control of her. Piotr leaves, telling Kitty he’s thinking of going back to Russia to sort out his head. Then we’re in the Days of Future Past timeline, with some differences from the first time around. The team’s still planning a break-out, but Scott’s in the camp with them. They break out, but lose a few along the way. We find out Kitty’s pregnant, right as the team gets tracked down. This is not bad. Setting aside that I don’t really buy frigging Mesmero as a Big Bad, the DoFP stuff is handled fairly effectively. Familiar setting, but with enough differences to keep it interesting. The Kitty/Piotr scene is good. You know, this might be the closest Guggenheim has come to capturing the actual feel of Claremont’s run. Not just paying homage to it, not just ripping off elements without understanding why they worked for Claremont and his artists. But the actual feel of a Claremont comic. You know how much I dislike Guggenheim. But this comic is actually well-written. And the art, of course, is very good. Perez does great work. As do the colour artists. There’s one particular panel of an optic blast that is just exactly what it should be. It’s an inspiring panel. In fact, here:

X-Men Gold #31


See, this is why Scott’s cooler than Logan. So yeah, that’s an awesome panel. And the art as a whole is strong. Perez is a good visual storyteller. And Guggenheim’s finally managed to learn how to write. So this is actually a legitimately good issue. Except for Mesmero. Mesmero? Really?

Astonishing X-Men #1, by Matthew Rosenberg, Greg Land (sigh), Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Clayton Cowles. Havok blasts a monster and knocks it over into a building. The Avengers show up and Iron Man says they had an agreement to relocate on of Mole Man’s monsters, and now it looks like they broke the deal. Captain America tells Alex to take some time to figure out some things. Elsewhere, Pierce and the Reavers attack and capture Miss Sinister. Back at the school, Alex tries to recruit some of the students into a new team. Rockslide quite reasonably points out that Alex was recently a villain. Kitty yells at Alex, and reveals that she legally owns the name “X-Men.” Later, Alex has a nightmare and blows out the wall of the motel room he was staying in. He then goes to see Beast, who’s teaching a class at Harvard. He wants to recruit Beast, but Hank says he’s tired and sore. Apparently, half his teeth are dental implants. And then the Reavers attack. And there’s quite the last page cliffhanger. Pretty good issue. Rosenberg goes the Hawkguy route with Alex, writing him as kind of a loser who’s bad at doing the right thing, and who no one really likes. A bit of a departure from the norm, but it’s entertaining. Unfortunately, Rosenberg is saddled with Land on art. Honestly, I think I’ve reached the point where my eyes just glaze over Land’s art. I don’t even see it any more. Because I’ve seen so much of it before. He gives Alex slightly different stubble than most of the men he draws, but that’s about it. He still sucks. And I still find his art falls deep in the Uncanny Valley. Even when he’s not recycling the same traced photos, his art creeps me out. I don’t like it, at all. And it hurts this comic. Land is just not a great visual storyteller. This would be a much better comic with a different artist.

Weapon X #20, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna. First off: That Rahzzah cover is amazing. Gorgeous work. But, the issue. The Weapon X team attacks the SICKLE Helicarrier. And I quickly take a liking to Ortiz’s lines. It’s a cool style. Kinda scratchy. I dig it.

Weapon X #20

Tiger kitten! Kitty kitty tiger kitty!

So you see what his art looks like. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I took an immediate liking to it. Warpath tries to catch up to them, and Domino asks the others not to hurt his abs, but the Winter Guard grabs him first. Warpath vs. the Winter Guard is a pretty awesome fight. Ortiz brings a real energy to it. Omega Red talks to his brother, providing a distraction for the others to get onto the Helicarrier. It’s a tense conversation between them, and gives some more insight into Omega Red’s backstory. It doesn’t make him more sympathetic, which I appreciate. He was always a bastard. And then Weapon X vs. SICKLE, and again, it’s an awesome fight. And I want to note that Omega Red keeps the tiger kitty safe throughout the fight. I love that kitty. And I love how much Omega Red loves it. This is such a good issue. So much fun. And the art is a big part of it. I am completely in love with it. Ortiz has come out of nowhere to grab my attention in a big way. He just kills it here. That rough style works perfectly, and he’s got a great expressiveness. Love it. Pak and Van Lente are clearly having fun, too, and it shows through. So, this is a really good comic.

Hunt for Guyverine: Weapon Lost #3, by Charles Soule, Matteo Buffagni, Jim Charalampidis, and Joe Sabino. Daredevil, Misty and Frank find Cypher, barely alive after having his throat slashed. They get him into their little jet thing so the medical technology can keep him alive. And then it turns out the one who attacked Cypher was Albert. Albert! Yay! So the team goes after him. Turns out he’s looking for Elsie-Dee. I hope she’s OK, she’s awesome. We don’t find out here, they just kinda leave Albert out in the Canadian wilderness and then continue looking for Logan. Also, Misty and Frank start to make out, so I guess Soule’s just going to ignore Misty being with Falcon. Meh on that. Meh on most of this. I love seeing Albert, but it’s not like it really seems to tie into any larger story, and he doesn’t get much characterization. He’s just an enemy to be defeated. Misty and Frank do have some fun interactions. And the fight against Albert is kinda cool. But it doesn’t feel like any of this has anything to do with anything. It feels too much like a shameless cash-grab tie-in. The writing’s fine, the art’s fine, but the overall story just isn’t really working.

And the non-X-stuff.

Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel, by Ryan North, G. Willow Wilson, Devin Grayson, Irene Strychalski, Ramon Bachs, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Clayton Cowles. North and Strychalski do the Squirrel Girl part at the start, where Ms. Marvel gets to meet Squirrel Girl’s friends. And Chipmunk Hunk is the most awkward person ever. He asks if Ms. Marvel can turn into a truck. And Kamala feels left out of being the only one in the room who isn’t a computer scientist, poor Kamala. ALSO! Strychalski’s Ms. Marvel is SO CUTE. Her everyone is super-cute, of course. But especially her Ms. Marvel. And the whole thing is so much fun. Kamala and Doreen even figure out each other’s identities! Which is cool. They’re good friends now. And then Wilson and Bachs do a second half of the comic! Which is maybe not a great plan by Marvel, because it means the comic is $6, which is still cheaper than if it was split in two, but it feels like this is a series Marvel should’ve been putting out at a reduced price to try to grab newer readers. The second story has Ms. Marvel fight an RPG chicken, and is joined by Inferno, while Squirrel Girl talks to America. And for some reason, squirrels do not like Inferno. Both parts are great. Lots of fun, lots of humour, Wilson’s part has a lot more drama, which isn’t surprising. Ms. Marvel realizes Emulator is an Inhuman, and is scared and doesn’t really understand what’s happened to her, and wants to help. But we also get to see that Emulator is a little torn over what she’s doing. On the other hand, North’s story has a giant robot. And it also has a bunch of computer science, because Squirrel Girl. But both parts are great. I’m loving this storyline. It’s great stuff. Really fun.

Captain America #1, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Joe Caramagna. In Russia, a woman named Alexa gets broken out of a Hydra prison transport by Selene. Huh. Interesting choice. Coates is a huge X-Men fan. Still, Selene was never one of the better X-Men villains. We’ll see how she works as a Captain America villain. In the US, Captain America and Bucky fight Nukes. And Sharon gets an actual scene to talk about her own feelings on everything that’s happened to her in recent years. It’s a small moment, but it’s frankly more than she got under Spencer, and certainly more than she got from Waid. This is a very strong start. Selene is an unexpected threat, and I’m curious to see where that goes. Interesting that Coates also has Selene and Alexa operating out of Russia – I doubt that’s a coincidence. He’s still dealing with the Hydra stuff, having Cap deal with how it happened, and people still distrusting him. It’s good. It’s a very strong start, and I’m very excited to see where Coates and Yu go with this, though I’m not a fan of Yu’s art. But still, great comic.

From → 2018

  1. Glad I wasn’t the only one who stopped to notice that Weapon X cover. Rahzzah’s work on those has been pretty solid since he (I’m assuming ‘he’? no idea) joined the book but this one’s pretty exceptional, all the moreso since it’s just the team hanging around. But it’s got maybe the best-looking Lady Deathstrike ever (the flared eyeliner, the rejigged outfit, the actually-looking-like-a-Japanese-woman), a casually sexy Domino, an alarmingly sexy Sabretooth, and Omega Red waving a tentacle at us. Which is probably also sexy for some people.

    The rest of the book was good too. Pak and Van Lente are having a laugh, but there’s some clever work put in there too; this really feels like the only time Red’s felt like an actual character and not just a thing the X-Men fight, and the little aside from his brother about exploiting mutant xenophobia to divert public attention from government failings is on point. And yeah, I am…not looking forward to the nonsense I will no doubt behold on the CBR boards about Ricardo López Ortiz’ work here. Because lord knows if your comic art doesn’t look like George Perez or Jim Lee, it’s worthless, right? Oy vey. Speaking for myself, a few odd panels aside (like the bits where Warpath looks less ‘angry hero’ and more ‘feral psycho’, or that one close-up of Ursa Major which does not look even a little like a bear), I can dig it. It’s like Jamie Hewlett with a manga sense of motion.

    Some of the stuff in the new Astonishing seems pretty interesting, and I like this take on Havok. He’s always had a little too much unearned confidence in my mind, and he’s had a rough…when did Uncanny Avengers start again? Basically all the time since then has been bad for him, and I like that we’re building from that. But my confidence in Rosenberg is shaky these days (I’m planning to drop his Punisher when the current arc wraps, it’s really made a mess out of a killer premise) and Land is…blah. Blaaaaaaahhhhhh.

    Marvel Rising #1 (Should Be #2 But Numbers Are A Lie), as I call it, was…alright. Generally good craftsmanship with a bunch of stuff I don’t like. Having never read Squirrel Girl’s book before, this was a new experience for me, and…man, I don’t think a book has ever left me feeling so old. I like a lot of it, but the stuff I don’t like – Too many speech balloons! Too much ‘edutainment’ content! The bottom-of-page notes outstay their welcome – just makes me seem so curmudgeonly and I hate that. I don’t wanna be the old guy yelling about those pesky kids and their new-fangled funnybooks! The G. Willow Wilson part worked a little better for me, though it suffered for not being its own issue. Getting both these halves together sounds good on paper, but I feel they’d have been better served with a breather in-between. Also the game references are getting too clumsy, and Inferno continues to be a poor man’s Johnny Storm with little to recommend him.

    And because I wasn’t having a bad enough time this week after that, here comes Immortal Hulk #2 where Al Ewing’s villain of the month verbalizes my own personal nightmare of death as a permanent end, giving me another anxiety flutter which mercifully passed on a mostly empty train carriage where no-one saw me going pale as a sheet and paralyzed. At least Jimmy’s Bastards wrapped up with a bad guy getting blown up by a grenade on his crotch, then having his still-alive legless torso used as a club to beat someone else to death.

    • On Rosenberg: I’m never going to stop being bitter about Dead Souls being a Karma story that lacks Karma. So I’m always going to be dissatisfied with him.

      I’ve been a big fan of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and the edutainment aspect is something I always loved. North loves learning, and he puts that love of learning into the comic. Computer science is a big thing, in particular. And yeah, splitting up Marvel Rising – along with numbering it in a way that made some sense – probably would’ve worked better.

      Nothing like a good existential crisis sparked by a superhero comic.

  2. One good issue of X-Men Gold isn’t enough to convince me to pick it up when the series is ending soon anyway, but I’m glad you enjoyed it. And that is an awesome panel.

    Astonishing X-Men … I took one look at Greg Lands name and said “nope!” That’s pretty much where I am with Greg Land at this point.

    I considered picking up Captain America. If it’s great, then perhaps I should have.

    • You may as well give it a few issues to see what the reviews are like for Captain America. It’s off to a good start, though.

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