Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I finally got around to watching X-Men: Apocalypse last night. You can read my collected livetweet here. In short, it was not a good movie. But now, by Claremont, Silvestri, Barta, Oliver and Rosen, “Inferno, Part the Fourth: Ashes!”
Jean is kneeling by Madelyne’s corpse. Aw, Maddie. Inferno’s over. The demons are gone. New York’s back to normal. Iceman promises Jean’s parents they’ll find them some clothes soon. Which is great, when everyone else is angsting. Scott is depressed at Maddie dying, the X-Men are feeling bad about how much Inferno changed them (and they’re all still rocking their Inferno’d looks). And Jean’s parents are still nude. Oh, and Ali’s coping pretty well.
Jean suddenly freaks out, and Psylocke goes into her head with Scott, Storm and Logan, and they find themselves on the Blue Area of the moon, to see Phoenix’s death. Scott doesn’t understand how Jean can have that memory, since she wasn’t there, but that question is put on hold when Sinister smashes the memory. The four of them travel through the mindscape, seeing various memories, but they’re Maddie’s memories. They do finally reach Jean’s memories, including Xavier’s School, where Maddie is waiting to blast them out of the astral sky. Jean, in her original costume, runs over to check on them. Two powerful minds are warring for control, and Maddie seems to be winning. And they’re all trapped in Jean’s mind with them.
Sinister smashes another memory, which Jean loses. Storm attacks him, ineffectively, but Psylocke’s able to keep him in check. Maddie tells Scott and Logan a little about Sinister, and is also kinda creepy.
She blames her actions on her creator, and Storm gets pissed at that and gives one hell of a speech.
Jean says she wanted to be her own woman, and it resulted in Dark Phoenix and the Goblin Queen, and I mean, she’s not exactly wrong, but neither of them were really her. It does make her wonder if she should just let it be ended. Sinister tells her she’s right, and she should give up, and let him reboot her. But Jean’s no more interested in Grim’n’Gritty reboots than the rest of us are. Actually, Sinister made the mistake of offering to control the life of THREE women who are all about NOT letting their lives be controlled. Jean, Phoenix, Madelyne. All three of them are fiercely independent. So Sinister suggesting they let him define them? The single worst thing he could have said. Like, absolutely the worst thing he ever could have said at that moment. “Give up all sense of agency!” Oh hell no! It was the one thing he could have said that would unite all three against him.
This is a pretty epic rejection. She turns him down so hard his bedroom explodes. The X-Men and X-Factor head to Xavier’s School to confront him. Storm’s glad to see her flowers aren’t there, so they won’t be hurt in the coming confrontation. Aww, Storm really cares about her flowers. Meanwhile, Jean is pissed at Sinister and sympathetic towards Maddie.
I do love when Jean shows off that hard edge she’s got. For all that she’s kind and sweet and compassionate and nurturing, she can also be a stone-cold badass. She wants Sinister dead. Meanwhile, Beast and Longshot have taken Jean’s grandparents, and little Nathan, to Ship. Longshot’s scared that what N’astirh did to him isn’t gone. In the Morlock tunnels, Alex, Alison, Colossus and Iceman are attacked by Blockbuster, still demonized. He takes down Colossus and Iceman easily, and is about to kill Dazzler, and Havok blows his freaking head off. Cold.
He really has changed. He’s a lot colder. It’s creepy but also a little badass. In the hangar, Sabretooth attacks Psylocke, who takes him out before Rogue can step in to help. Psylocke’s awesome. Elsewhere in the mansion, Jean is angry again, at the fact that Sinister’s been all through the house, wrecking it while searching through it. Then Polaris attacks. And Storm beats her by grabbing her and just slamming her into the floor, because Storm is awesome. No wind, no lightning, no powers, just throwing her face to the floor.
I love Storm’s smile here. Aside: Was Malice calling Storm gay here? “Butch?” She’s definitely flirting, that’s for sure. But is she saying Storm’s gay? Malice was in Storm’s head, briefly, so she’d know. While the X-Men try to interrogate Malice, the house explodes. The X-Men are rendered unconscious, but before Sinister can have them killed, Longshot says they’ll have to kill him first.
This is such a great issue. The stuff in the shared memories of Jean, Phoenix and Maddie is really interesting, and really tense, as Sinister tries to kill the combined mind, and four X-Men try to save her. Madelyne’s anger is handled well, and so is Jean’s fear of what people who look like her have done. Both women are sympathetic, and the rejection of Sinister is a great moment. And Jean’s outrage against Sinister, her absolute hatred of him, is so good. It gives a real chill. There’s a sense of barely restrained fury when she speaks about him. And reading this issue, I think it was a mistake to make Sinister more of a Scott antagonist. Jean’s the one he screwed over the most. Of all the X-Men, she should be the one with the greatest grudge against him. We should’ve gotten more stories about that antagonism. Unfortunately, the ’90s focused on the Scott/Sinister dynamic. It sometimes felt like they forgot what Sinister did to Jean and Madelyne. Man, how great would it have been if Jean had a permanent grudge against Sinister? If she got angry at the very mention of his name? If, any time Scott spoke to Sinister, Jean became outraged and yelled at him for it. During the Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, when Jean and Scott went to the past to see Sinister’s origin, Jean could have kept arguing that they should kill him while they have the chance. I would have liked to have seen that.
Anyway! Jean’s great here. So is everyone else. Alex’s willingness to kill is cold. And I love Alison’s reaction to it. She’s so shocked. An indication that she’s mostly herself, still. The earlier moment when she’s holding Nathan shows it, too.
The art’s great. Silvestri does a really good job with facial expressions. He really captures the fury inside Jean, when they get to the school. You see it in her eyes. Body language is also used well to convey how characters are feeling. He just does a great job all around. And, of course, Oliver’s still doing colours, so the colours look great. She was the best.
This is a fantastic issue. Inferno had a lot of great stuff in it.
Classic X-Men #32, a reprint of X-Men #126. And a back-up, by Nocenti, Bolton, Oliver and Rosen. This expands on Wolverine and Nightcrawler being screwed with by Proteus. Wolverine tries to attack while Nightcrawler tries to tell him not to, and Proteus is a jerk. Wolverine does keep advancing towards Proteus, no matter what’s done to him. Which is kinda cool, showing how deep his courage runs. But mostly, this story is an excuse for Nocenti to get over-the-top with her narration while Bolton gets bizarre with the art. This splash is probably the peak of both:
It’s a pretty great story. Nocenti’s narration is cruel, and Bolton’s art is bizarre, and often grisly. This is one of the best Classic X-Men back-ups.
I should also note Daredevil #265, the last of the Inferno tie-ins, by Nocenti, JRJr, Williamson, Scheele and Rosen. It’s weird and brilliant. A dentist is possessed by his own drill, then goes out to take over a cop, while his partner gets angry at his lunch break being interrupted. Daredevil’s beating up demons, and Butch and Darla watch, but Darla’s been a little demonized, herself. Butch notes that Daredevil’s acting like he’s on autopilot. The whole issue is New York being absolutely insane, even by New York standards, while everyone in it is reacting like it’s normal. This is basically Nocenti’s love letter to New York, and it’s so amazing. It ends with Daredevil going to a bar and having a beer. That’s the happy ending for this book. I think Daredevil probably made best use of the Inferno tie-in, by really showing demonized New York. It’s fantastic stuff, and clearly made by people who love and hate the city. Of all the Inferno tie-ins, this is the one that most deserves to be read. The Nocenti/JRJr run on Daredevil was pretty amazing as a whole.
Amazing Spider-Man #313, by David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane, Bob Sharen, John Wilcox and Rick Parker. Peter and MJ are in a cab to Queens, and a shark in the Mid-Town Tunnel shears the roof of the cab off. Which gives us this:
I love superhero comics. Meanwhile, in Empire State University, Curt Connors turns into the Lizard. His family goes to the school to meet him, and a security guard brings them to the library so demons can attack them. As someone who wants to work in a library, I find this most upsetting. Libraries are safe spaces! The Lizard saves them, and Spider-Man comes by, but is distracted by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of himself. Then he fights the Lizard. There’s not a whole lot of Inferno influence on this issue. Still a good comic, though. Especially McFarlane’s art.
Power Pack #44, by Julianna Jones, June Brigman, Hilary Barta, Glynis Oliver and Joe Rosen. Power Pack are fighting demons and saving people. The demons finally get sucked back into Limbo, so the kids head home, where their parents have big forced smiles on their faces. They’re acting really weird. Creepy normal. It’s incredibly unsettling. The kids go out to help anyone who might need it, in the aftermath of Inferno. They meet up with the New Mutants at the hospital, where Dani creates an army of medical specialists. Nice. After helping at the hospital, Power Pack and the Mutants catch each other up on what they’ve been through, and Alex tells Dani about how freaked out their parents are. The Pack go home, and, uh, things have gotten worse. Luckily, the Mutants show up, and explain the whole thing was just a deception they pulled in order to catch Carmody. They bring in the “real” Power kids, who have no powers. The ones in costumes are just illusions. Gosamyr puts the parents to sleep, and the Power Pack takes the places of the illusory kids that Dani created. It’s a good comic. The parents’ breakdown is legitimately disturbing. The way the Mutants resolve the situation is really clever. It’s a shame the status quo had to be restored, but it was done in a really clever way, at least. Nice use of the Mutants. Also a really good Inferno tie-in.
Spectacular Spider-Man #148, by Gerry Conway, Sal Buscema, Bob Sharen and Rick Parker. Betty Brant has a waking nightmare where Ned Leeds, Gwen Stacy and Spider-Man all climb out of graves. Flash Thompson, who’s letting her stay in his place to keep her safe during the Inferno, runs in to comfort her. They talk about Betty’s breakdown after Ned died, and about Flash’s admiration of Spider-Man. Later, Flash is on the roof, and finds Spider-Man up there. And Spider-Man attacks him. In Flash’s apartment, Betty hears a knocking at the window, and opens the drape to see Zombie Ned, who smashes in and attacks her. Their mutual fights come together, and end with a boom. As any good story should. This is a pretty good issue. It’s just a way to get Flash and Betty over their hang-ups and to be stronger characters. Especially to get Betty to stop being crazy and weak. After this, of course, she’ll have a long career of being badass, including a hilariously stupid ’90s story. It makes some good use of Inferno to allow the horror story to happen. All in all, it’s not bad.
Web of Spider-Man #48, by Gerry Conway, Alex Saviuk, Keith Williams, Janice Cohen and Rick Parker. The Bugle’s offices are safe for the moment, and Spidey’s wounds are healing. JJJ grudgingly admits they’d all be dead without his help, but also says he’s probably behind it all somehow. Ah, Jonah, I do love his willingness to blame literally everything on Spider-Man. Spidey wakes up, and hallucinates that he’s surrounded by demons. And he webs Jonah’s mouth. I’m just going to say that was instinctive. Muscle-memory. Once he’s outside, Spidey snaps out of it, but now, instead of hallucinating demons, he’s dealing with real ones. He remembers MJ is at the studio, and swings off to help her. Meanwhile, Gloria Grant is with her new boyfriend, who beats up a little forklift-looking thing. And a demon is attacking Kingpin’s office, so he punches it out. Which is pretty awesome, honestly. He’s so indifferent to the whole demon invasion. Hobgoblin is in Central Park, freaking out over his new demonic eyes and yellowing skin, and he sees Spider-Man. Spidey follows MJ into some sewers, and Hobgoblin follows Spidey, and it’s a fight! It all ends with an explosion. It’s a pretty good issue. It’s very heavily tied into Inferno, with demons, and with Hobgoblin’s new demonic strength and reflexes. One thing I want to note is how much I enjoy MJ not being a Damsel-In-Distress. IT was one of the things I liked about the marriage. MJ was a strong, independent character in her own right, and she was as likely to save Peter as he was to save her. (This very issue, in fact, has her help him against Hobgoblin.)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So, I saw Logan last night. It was really good. It sure earned that R-rating. All the profanity and violence and claws through faces and shit. It probably wasn’t as gory as Deadpool. But there were at least two full decapitations. So, you know, still pretty damn gory for a superhero flick. The performances were great. Dafne Keen was fantastic as Laura. I honestly think she deserves an Oscar nomination. She was so subtle, and so good. It’s a shame the movie’s set in the future, because I would love to see more of her as Laura, but it’d be tough to do it still in the future. I also enjoyed the bickering between Logan and Xavier. It was delightful. Just a couple old guys who love each other and hate each other and keep insulting each other. What they did with Caliban was cool. I actually really liked Pierce. I know people were disappointed he wasn’t more like the comics version, but I’ll be honest, this version was so damn charming and fun that I like him more than the comics version. Anyway, Logan’s great. But now, comics!
All-New Wolverine #18, by Tom Taylor, Nik Virella, Michael Garland and Cory Petit. Kimura gets to the bunker everyone’s hiding in, and tells them to hand over Laura and Tyger Tiger. Fury refuses, and Tyger says the bunker is unbreachable. So Kimura decides she’ll just collapse the mountain it’s in. Laura comes up with a plan, and Tyger admits she has an Iron Man suit. Which is pretty great, frankly. She says she was going to return it. So, the plan. Most of the group goes out to Kimura’s ship. Gambit creates a hole with a can of beans. Once everyone’s inside, Laura flies in, in the Iron Man armour. Yes. Ironverine!
Jean takes over Roughhouse to make him punch Kimura right out of the ship, Gabby gets Bellona to stand down, and Bellona reveals Laura didn’t kill the people in that town. Turns out Laura had a very interesting way of controlling herself.
Neat! Laura’s innocent! She and Kimura fight, but I won’t spoil how that goes. Except to say that it is intense. And that calling her X-23 isn’t an option any more. She’s Laura. Not X-23. Never again X-23. This is a great issue. Seeing her friends supporting her is really nice. It’s a nice reminder of how far she’s come. Gabby and Bellona have a really nice scene together that shows the bonds between them. Laura and Angel have a moment that’s a really cute callback to a scene from the first issue. And the confrontation between Laura and Kimura is definitely intense. Kimura’s been haunting Laura for a long time. Without spoiling anything, this is where Laura stops being afraid of her. The art’s really good. Really exciting action, and really strong dramatic moments. Ironverine looks great. Great job on the colours, by Garland. He’s been a very important part of this series, and I hope he sticks around forever. This series remains the highlight of the X-line.
Old Man Logan #19, by Jeff Lemire, Filipe Andrade, Jordan Boyd and Cory Petit. Logan breaks into the Cellar, a super-prison. He wants into the lower levels, where the occult and supernatural criminals are kept. Then, a flashback to 9 days earlier, when Logan asked Illyana to take him back to his time. Illyana declined, noting that time travel rarely goes well for the X-Men. She’s not wrong. Spider-Miles shows up to stop him. Miles comments that he’s tired of Hero vs. Hero stories. Haha, that’s funny! That’s really funny! It’d be even funnier if it wasn’t coming from the co-writer of Inhumans vs. X-Men. You’ll see why I say that when you read my review of the final issue of that steaming pile of shit. Lemire, you don’t get to write one of the most insultingly bad Hero vs. Hero stories, and then make jokes about how bad Hero vs. Hero stories are. That’s bullshit. Anyway, Miles asks if he can help Logan, and we see the people who’ve already refused to help, including Beast, Doom, Shaman, Wanda, Cable, Black Panther, Wiccan and Dr. Strange. Anyway, aside from Lemire’s idiotic attempt at being cute, this is a really good issue. Some exciting action, and the scene with Illyana was really good, as she tries to talk him out of returning to his time. He’s weighed down by a feeling of responsibility to the baby he left behind, but she thinks he should forget what he lost, and focus on what he has. It’s nice. Illyana’s a good kid. I like the art a lot. I know Andrade’s divisive, but I love his style. And I think it actually works well for Old Man Logan, because it’s rough and raw and a little dirty and gritty. The colours do a lot to enhance that. So, yeah, good comic.
IvX #6, by Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, David Curiel and Clayton Cowles. The X-Men and the Inhumans fight. Crystal takes out Magneto early with a boulder to the face. Emma and the Cuckoos take over Johnny and three Nuhumans. Naja takes out Storm, who’s possessed by Mosaic, so that doesn’t work out too well for the Inhuman side. Emma puts her diamond hand through Black Bolt’s chest. It’s not through the heart, which means it obviously isn’t lethal, but it’s still pretty awesome. The X-Men bring reinforcements, then Ahura shows up with Inhuman reinforcements. Iso explains to Medusa the situation, with the Terrigen cloud about to kill all mutants. Medusa agrees to destroy the cloud. With that done, Emma thinks they should keep attacking the Inhumans. Teen Scott reveals the truth about what happened to Adult Scott, and Emma brings in some Sentinels, which kill a bunch of unnamed Inhumans, just to show that she’s completely crazy and evil now. She even telepathically controls Magneto into helping her, including making him say “Emma was right.” Because this book is so subtle guys can you see how subtle it is it’s so subtle. Ugh. On a side note, Medusa steps down as Queen of Attilan, and Iso decides to set up elections. Good. Down with monarchies. I’m fine with them as figureheads, but real power should go to the people. Anyway, this sucks. The whole event. Shitty event. Because there’s no subtlety to it. The fact that Medusa immediately decides, as soon as she knows what’s going on, too eliminate the cloud, just paints the X-Men as paranoid and reactionary idiots. It means this entire conflict was their fault. Which is stupid, and it’s insulting to X-Men fans. And it could’ve been such an interesting story. An exploration of how dedication to one’s culture can lead to a person becoming indifferent to the suffering of people from another culture. An event where Medusa wrestles with how willing she is to destroy something central to her entire culture? That would have made for great reading. Have her spend most of the event saying there has to be another way. Some Inhumans saying they need to to preserve the cloud, while others say it’s not worth mutants dying. And then you have the X-Men questioning how far they’re willing to go for survival, with Emma pushing for straight-up eliminating the Inhumans if that’s what it takes, and others arguing that they can’t kill, even if it means their own deaths. And then the finale would still have Medusa make the decision to eliminate the cloud. As it is, the Inhumans are, straight-up, unquestionably, undeniably the good guys, while the X-Men are, unquestionably, the bad guys. The X-Men are the villains of this event about them trying not to die. How fucking tone-deaf do you have to be to make a story where a marginalized group fighting for their very survival are unequivocally the villains of the piece? How does that happen? What kind of complete asshole thinks that’s a good idea? It is ridiculous. It’d be like a story where the premise is that gay people get assaulted routinely, so a group of gay people get together and beat up some random bunch of black people, and then those black people save the gays from being beaten. You don’t paint the victims as antagonists. But that’s what happened with this event. There is absolutely no question, at all, that X-Men were completely, entirely, 100% in the wrong. There is not even a single bit of doubt on that. Because we see, as soon as any of the Inhumans know what’s going on, they immediately choose to help. Including Medusa. Her immediate decision to destroy the cloud means that the X-Men never needed to attack the Inhumans. If they’d just gone to her at the start and said, “Hey, we got two weeks before the cloud kills us all,” she would have said, “Well shit, OK, you do what you gotta do.” So the entire fight was entirely pointless, and it was entirely the choice of the X-Men to attack the Inhumans for no reason, and the Inhumans are all perfect little fucking darlings with clear consciences and who are clearly way more moral and ethical than those stupid X-Men. Fuck this entire event. Steaming pile of shit with no subtlety that turns victims into villains. Fuck this shit.
That’s the X-titles, here’s other stuff.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #18, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham. Koi Boi and Chipmunk Hunk are about to fight a thug, but a bunch of nuts are dropped on the guy’s head. By FLYING SQUIRREL GIRL. Apparently, it took her a lot of work to gather all the nuts up, but it was worth it. She comes up with the idea of getting flying suits for them, too. (We also learn that Chipmunk Hunk’s original superhero name was the Handsome Puncher. So I think we need him to get a sidekick with that name. His very own legacy character.) Melissa Morbeck agrees to give them flying suits, and then talks to Doreen and Nancy. Nancy asks all sorts of questions about what Melissa did with Alfredo while she was recently in Europe. This line of questioning leads to the reveal that Melissa is a bad guy. Doreen gets Nancy away, and continues her chat with Melissa, who is an awesome villain. As always, it’s wonderful. Really fun. Really cute. Nancy is awesome, and if she ever gets tired of computer science, she clearly has a career as an interrogator. Melissa’s a great villain and I really like her. She has an interesting take on power and responsibility. A take I don’t agree with, but which does make sense. It gives her a lot of depth. Also, after the letters pages, we continue the story of Alfredo the Chicken and Chef Bear. It’s thrilling stuff. I love this series.
Silver Surfer #9, by Dan Slott, Mike and Laura Allred and Joe Sabino. Norrin and Dawn explore a four-planet system. The first planet’s atmosphere has been destroyed, leaving it frozen. The second planet is covered in garbage. The third has severe acid rain. The last planet is a utopia. The people there ruined the last three planets, but are certain they’ve learned their lessons. They’re shocked when they find out that Dawn wants to use the washroom, but take her to the Facilities. One dude reports to Countess Crankshaft, an old woman who seems kinda cranky, and she’s with another dude from off-world. Dawn and Norrin are shown around the planet, and are really impressed with it. But then it turns out all the people are holograms. And they’ve turned Dawn into a hologram. Another weird, wonderful issue. Not the most original idea, but executed in a really interesting, effective way. There’s some really good emotional moments. The writing and art continue to work perfectly together. This is such an amazing series, and if you’re not reading it, you really are missing out. For all that jackasses try to dismiss it as “Dr. Who fanfic,” it’s far more than that, it’s a truly wonderful series that’s filled with wonder and joy and sadness and so many feels. So many feels.
Power Man & Iron Fist #14, by David Walker, Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles. 19 days ago, Tombstone got Black Talon to bring Mr. Fish back from Hell. 17 days ago, Alex Wilder got a spell working. Now, Luke, Danny and Senor Magico are fighting a bunch of people on some drug that makes them violent and strong. They take the people down and bring them to Night Nurse (Linda Carter), and it turns out the drug has magic in it, which is possessing users’ souls. At Wilder’s HQ, Jennie tells Mariah she has a bad feeling about the whole operation, but Mariah tells her things are going great. Luke and Danny go to Dr. Voodoo, who has a theory Alex is putting demon blood in the drug. And that Alex is trying to become the Grandmaster of Street Magic. Tombstone and Fish are looking for Alex, but having no luck. Another solid issue. Less gang war, more magic plot. Which is cool.
Mosaic #6, by Geoffrey Thorne, Bruno Oliveira, Emilio Lopez and Joe Sabino. The Brand building Morris’ body is in was blown up last issue. Now, as the fire department tries to put it out, Morris possesses a tech who’s part of a team checking on all the people in storage in the basement. His body’s in a steel pod. Before he can get his body out, Lockjaw pops in. Morris possesses him, and Lockjaw’s thought processes sure make a case for him being a dog. He teleports around, including popping by to see Ms. Marvel, who tells him to to to Attilan. He leaves Lockjaw’s body, and comes across Johnny Storm, and it turns out they know each other. They met at a thing in Rio with Flamenco girls. Ah, Johnny. So Johnny introduces Morris to the others. And also shows Morris how to become visible! And then Morris gets sent on a mission during Civil War II. Yeah, this story is that far back. This is a good issue. Shows how Morris met the Inhumans, and joined them. Also, it shows why possessing animals is a bad idea for him. It’s interesting stuff. The stuff with Johnny was actually pretty funny. Showing off an invisible man, with the others wondering if he’s crazy. It’s funny stuff. The art’s good. I’m used to Randolph’s art on this book, and Oliveira’s pretty different. But it’s not bad. It’s a good art style. It works well here. Lockjaw looks great. It’s a good-looking issue. I just like when comics have their own distinctive art, by keeping a single artist. But a change-up now and then is cool. So, yeah, this is still a good series. I’m still enjoying it.
The Wicked + The Divine #27 starts cruel. And gets worse. So, pretty standard WicDiv, really. Different layout from usual – a loooooooot of 8-panel pages. Which definitely gives a snapshot feeling that’s cool.
I’ll go to the store for: All-New Wolverine #18, by Tom Taylor, Nik Virella, Michael Garland and Cory Petit; Mosaic #6, by Geoffrey Thorne, Bruno Oliveira And Emilio Lopez; My Little Pony Deviations #1, by Katie Cook and Agnes Garbowska; Power Man & Iron Fist #14, by David Walker, Sanford Greene and Lee Loughridge; Silver Surfer #9, by Dan Slott, Mike and Laura Allred and Joe Sabino; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #18, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham; The Wicked + The Divine, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles.
I’ll also review: IvX #6, by Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and David Curiel; Old Man Logan #19, by Jeff Lemire, Filipe Andrade, Jordan Boyd and Cory Petit.
So that’s 7 comics I’m picking up, and two other reviews. Pretty good week.
And some good comics. Wolverine’s always good, and the current arc’s been good, and it’s building to what should be a petty great climax. Mosaic’s finally reached a point where it can explore what the character’s going to do with himself. A new artist for this issue, but the preview looked pretty good. PM&IF is barrelling along its gang war arc, now with more Senor Magico. Silver Surfer is always wonderful. So is Squirrel Girl, which will have more FLYING SQUIRREL GIRL YAY! And WicDiv is WicDiv.
So, there’s been been some controversy. As there usually is. Marvel put out a bunch of villain variant covers for Secret Empire. One of those covers showed Magneto. Here’s the issue with that: Hydra is popularly perceived as being Nazis. I’m not interested in debating whether they’re really Nazis, what other groups they’ve stood in for, what Steve Rogers’ branch of Hydra is, any of that. All of that is beside the point. The point is that Hydra is popularly perceived as Nazis. That’s how most of the audience sees them. To most of the audience, Hydra = Nazis. It’s just how it is. Magneto, of course, is a Holocaust survivor. And someone that most of the audience knows is a Holocaust survivor.
So. The cover shows a Holocaust survivor siding with Nazis. That’s how a lot of people saw it. And that is not what one could call good optics. The cover is a mistake. It’s in bad taste, at the very least, and is arguably downright offensive. It never should have been made. And it should be pulled. Because it’s a cover of a Holocaust survivor siding with Nazis.
I will note that the cover isn’t Nick Spencer’s fault, and he shouldn’t be blamed for it. It’s the editors who should receive criticism for it. And I did, in fact, tweet Alanna Smith and Tom Brevoort to say that it’s offensive and should be pulled. That said: If Secret Empire has Magneto helping the Secret Empire? That can be blamed on Spencer. And I would go so far as to argue that he, and the editors, should lose their jobs. Because you do not have a Holocaust survivor work with Nazis. If Magneto helps the Secret Empire? Then there’s no chance in hell that I will spend another dime to support anything Spencer writes, no matter what book he gets assigned to.
I’m going to see Logan tonight. I’d prefer to wait another week or two, honestly, but my brother wants to go. So, OK, I’ll go tonight.
I’ve fallen behind on Legion. I need to get back to watching it. I also need to get back to reading more. Bleh, I never do anything, so why am I so behind on the stuff I do? Ugh. I suck at life.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I have basically no hours at work this week. Ugh. So, by James Hudnall, John Calimee, Sam de la Rosa, Bob Sharen and Janice Chiang, “Wrath of the Dreamqueen (Part 2): All That We Are. . . .”
Elizabeth steals a truck from the dig sit and drives to a gas station so she can call Alpha Flight to warn them about the Dreamqueen. She’s a little late. The Dreamqueen taunts her, and I do like Liz’s response.
Dreamqueen does something to Sasquatch, to make him a pawn. Several hours later, Elizabeth gets to Ottawa, and to Heather’s house. Alpha Flight’s apparently been asleep the whole time. Dreamqueen’s waved down a car, and hits on the driver to get him to take her where she wants. Liz says she’s going to call in her father, since they’ll need the power of the Talisman. In Edmonton, Dreamqueen gets the guy who gave her a ride to walk into traffic. She’s kind of a bitch. Alpha flies to the Eye of the World, where they once saved Walter’s soul, but not before his body crumbled to dust. Walter shows some anger at being a man in a woman’s body. This is why I still refer to him as male.
Anyway, Shaman declines to help Alpha, but says he’ll go back to Ottawa with them. In Edmonton, Dreamqueen’s taken over the penthouse of one of the richest men in Canada, having made him jump to his death. She’s still kind of a bitch. Back on the Box-jet, Shaman says again that he can’t help as Talisman, so Liz asks him to give the Talisman back to her, and that she’s learned since the last time she held the role, and won’t be such a douche. She gives a Power & Responsibility speech.
Shaman takes off the Talisman, but before he can hand it to Liz, Sasquatch freaks out and grabs it, then smashes up the Box-jet so it crashes. He escapes, and puts on the Talisman himself. Also, can I point out what he’s wearing?
Hey, Walter, ’90s comics called, they wanted you to get dressed. This is stupid. I do like what he says in this panel, though:
See, I never really bought the “Wanda” thing. Walter spent his whole life as a man. He thought of himself as male. He was comfortable that way. Then, when his body changes, he shrugs and goes, “Oh, well, guess I’m a woman now.” No. It wouldn’t work like that. He’s not going to smoothly transition to thinking of himself as Wanda just because his body’s changed. I don’t care how chill you are, it’s not that easy. It makes way more sense that he would still think of himself as Walter. That he would be bitter about not being himself any more. So seeing him get fed up at being called Wanda is good to see. It rings true to me.
Anyway, Snowbird’s spirit shows gives Walter back his male body, which also breaks Dreamqueen’s spell on him. And thus ends the story of Wanda Langowski. By the standards of the time, it wasn’t a bad idea, and it wasn’t handled poorly. But that’s by the standards of the time. It was progressive for its time, and I do give Mantlo credit for that. But it was held back. It couldn’t go far enough to be truly interesting. And it was never really given enough space, either. So I am glad Hudnall ended it, even if he did use a Deus Ex Machina to do it. Though I do feel like Snowbird could have given Walter some pants.
It’s weird seeing anyone wearing less than Talisman. But I just love that she’s making her big return, and it should be dramatic, and there’s Walter standing behind her in his undies. Talisman tells the team they have to go to Edmonton, which is in chaos as a result of the Dreamqueen.
“This dude’s accidentally stealing diamonds. This dude accidentally killed his family.” Jeez, Hudnall. Also, thanks very much to the art team for making that second panel pretty grisly.
Fun fact! There’s a letter from a Dominick Cecere, asking advice on how to become a comic artist. Cecere would grow up to be a character animator on Spider-Man 3. And presumably other movies. That’s kinda neat, though!
So, this is . . . OK? I guess? It’s fine. I do like Dreamquen. She’s kinda delightfully evil here. Just cruel for no reason beyond it entertaining her. It’s kinda fun. Jokes aside, I do really like that panel of the guy shooting his family. It’s so twisted and evil, and that makes it fun. The stuff with Walter grabbing the Talisman wasn’t particularly good, but it did restore Walter to normal, so I’m fine with it having been in the issue. And it’s great to have Shaman and Talisman return. I never liked the way Mantlo wrote out all the diverse characters, so seeing the two First Nations characters return is great. I honestly think a Canadian team without First Nations members is a shitty Canadian team. Like, if you’re putting together a Canadian team, including First Nations people really should be a necessity. So I’m glad Hudnall brought them back with this issue.
But the writing and art alike are just kinda bland. It’s not attention-grabbing. The art isn’t particularly expressive, and even the colours are a bit flatter than they really should be. And the lack of expressiveness in the art drags down the writing. Moments that should be big and dramatic are rendered just plain boring. That panel where Walter declares that his name is Walter, and accuses Alpha of abandoning him? It’s strong stuff, but the panel composition is pathetically dull. Or Elizabeth once again becoming Talisman. It’s been a while, it should be a big, dramatic, exciting moment. But it’s not. Because Calimee completely drops the ball on it. Having the nearly-naked Walter in the panel turned it from dramatic to laughable. Calimee does do a better job whenever the Dreamqueen’s around, but she’s such an inherently dramatic character that it’d be hard to make her boring.
So, yeah, there’s stuff I like about this issue, but there’s also a lot dragging it down.
The issue picks up right where the last one left off, with Xi’an having just shattered a wine glass in her hand. She’s sad about having made things worse for “Patch,” and wonders what she should do, when Bloodsport comes over. He tastes some of her blood off the tablecloth, and says they’re bound now. Bloodsport is such a goth.
Meanwhile, Logan’s narrating about how the Douglas DC3 plane is just like him. I like to think Logan does the same thing with everyone he comes across. Like, he’s raking leaves, and thinks, “The rake is old, just like me. But still sturdy. It’s still the best at what it does. Just like I’m the best at what I do. But what I do isn’t as nice. It’s not leaves I pile up, it’s bodies.” Come up with your own “Logan Compares Himself To Something” narration! It’s fun! “I hear the fan spinning its blades, and I think of the spinning my own blades have done. Razor-sharp adamantium blades, not the cheap plastic blades of the fan. The fan blades try to keep things cool, my blades are all about heating things up.”
ANYWAY! In the plane, Archie goes to the back for snacks, but Logan smelled Bloodsport’s scent on him, and guesses that Archie’s going to betray him. Archie argues with himself, but decides he can’t go through with it. Then they get attacked by an old fighter plane, a Mustang. Logan engages in some skilled flying, then dives out, destroys the Mustang, and smashes into some water. I do want to note that, at the height Logan dove from, a water landing would be more of a smash than a splash.
In Madripoor, Lindsay and Jessica have gotten Tyger to the local Landau, Luckman & Lake office, and Chang lets them in. Lindsay’s scared, remembering a time she almost got killed, and Chang offers a solution. Back where Logan landed, some guys are searching for any sign of him. Logan takes them out. Back to Lowtown. Jess sees a 19th-Century tintype photo of Chang and Logan. It’s clearly Logan. Jess knows Logan, and knows what he looks like, and in the photo, he has no eyepatch, so he’s not disguised. She thinks “Patch.” With the quotation marks. I’m not sure if this was Claremont hinting that she knew Patch was Logan, or if he was still pretending there was any chance anyone could ever be fooled by an eyepatch. Regardless, Lindsay comes out, in familiar armour.
Chang explains that Patch ordered it for a colleague, so he can only let Lindsay use it temporarily. So, yeah, this is Psylocke’s armour. Which means this story takes place before whatever issue where she first wore it. Then Roughhouse and Bloodsport bust in.
Back to Patch! He’s got the two scouts tied up, hanging in the air, with their uniforms removed. Um, why did he take their clothes? You’re weird, Logan. Their boss, Hardcase, sends out some local goonboys. Oh, Hardcase calls his team the Harriers. Hardcase and the Harriers. We’ll see them again . . . and then they’ll disappear. Seriously, they’re in a Wolverine story in the early ’90s, and then that’s it. Logan steals one of the two jeeps sent out, and follows the other one back to the base. He makes a mess of the compound, until the guys decide to load the heroin into trucks and leave. Only to be shot down by Archie, back in his Douglas, with mini-guns. With that done, Logan gets back on the plane and heads back to Madripoor.
This is pretty fun. Logan taking out the compound was definitely the highlight of the issue. It’s fun seeing him use his secret agent skills like that. He’s very clever. It’s made more effective by most of what he does happening off-panel, with the readers only seeing the results, at the same time the people in the compound do. And I think it’s a good example of what later writers didn’t get about the character. The ’90s turned him into “CUT CUT HACK SLASH CUT RAAARGH BADASS!!!1!one!” He was always at his best when he was being tactical. That’s way more interesting than Implacable Man Cuts Down Everyone. Though this issue did also have him dive out of a plane, take out another plane on his way down, and smash into some water.
The art . . . I’m still not a big fan of Buscema. And I still think another artist might have been a better fit. His art’s not bad. He does a fine job. It’s just not really as thrilling as it should be. He had a very classic art style, and this is a book that probably would have benefited from something a little more raw and fresh.
Still, all in all, a cool issue.
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I almost didn’t post today. But I figured I should try. So, here. By Nocenti, Leonardi, Russell, Wright and Lopez, “God’s Country (Part 5) – The Secret Is There’s No Secret.”
Colossus decks a woman and then runs inside while people shoot at him. Inside, the woman introduces herself as Number Six, a member of a super-soldier team named the Cold Warriors. Number Six has had her body laced with metal, and she can barely feel anything any more. Poor lady.
The woman also says she should have quit a while ago, but it’s hard to know when the things you fight for have gone bad. Bruce, the father in the family Colossus is hiding with, says he understands, and thanks Colossus for saving his family, and apologizes for taking so long to say it. Then we get some commentary on secrets and lies. Nocenti understands that, sometimes, it’s more effective to say what you’re trying to say, rather than keep it subtle. (Not that she isn’t also subtle. She does both.) Number Six lays out the plan: She’ll keep the family safe, while Colossus goes to deal with Alexander, the guy in charge of the whole operation. We also learn that Roxanne, the mother, had a breakdown once, and Bruce is worried it’ll happen again. And then we end with Colossus finding the Cold Warriors.
And by the same team, “Bondage.”
Colossus is kicking some ass. But back at the farmhouse, a clawed hand has Roxanne by the face. Number Six and Bruce get rid of the dude, but then Number Six’s programming starts to reassert itself. One of the guys Colossus beat reveals how horrible his existence is.
Back at the farmhouse, Roxanne’s definitely having a breakdown, and she’s babbling, so Bruce gags her. She lets out a cry as he does, and the people outside think Bruce is beating her, but they choose not to call the cops because it’s a private affair. Because people are awful. Zackery, the kid, starts to freak out and get angry and throw stuff, until a clock distracts him.
These two parts are pretty eventful. Not much action in #14, but lots of plot gets revealed. #15 has more action. The two parts actually read really well together for that reason. You get a nice bit of variety there. And there’s a definite sense of escalation, and growing tension. We learn how awful the Cold Warrior project is, and we get plenty of moralizing on secrets and lies, and the dangers they pose. I have to wonder if Nocenti’s journalism background is why she writes that way, actually. Because while she can be subtle, she also likes to make very, very clear what the point and message of the story is. Clarity is something she clearly prioritizes. Which I think works well.
The art is good. Not up to Leonardi’s usual standard, though. He could do better than this. It’s serviceable, but knowing what he’s capable of, it’s definitely a let-down.
This issue also include a Jean Grey story, by Bobbie Chase, Dwayne Turner, Mike Gustovich, Andy Yanchus and Ken Lopez. Jean’s sleeping on Ship, and the Phoenix Force manifests, asking for her help. It makes her think it’s Xavier, and she follows it in a trance, into the subway.
It leads her into some tunnels off the subway, and to a dead end. It’s about to take over her, but she finally wakes up, and resists. Then it turns out the Phoenix manifestation is a dead Morlock who was out of its body during the Morlock massacre, and who needs another body to live again. During the struggle, Jean somehow creates a Phoenix of pink energy. The two Phoenixes blow up, and reveal the skeleton of a child.
What a meh story. I don’t know. It doesn’t really explain why the Morlock took the form of the Phoenix. There’s no explanation for where the pink Phoenix came from. The fight ends really suddenly. I think this is a story that did need more space to breathe. I’m not sure that would have helped with the dialogue, though, which was stilted and awkward. The art was pretty decent, but this story just isn’t good. At all.