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Uncanny X-Men #250 (1989, October)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Len Wein, co-creator of the All-New All-Different X-Men, died today. While Wein only wrote the Giant-Size X-Men where the ANAD team first appeared, it was the success of that book that took the X-Men out of reprints and made it an ongoing again. And, of course, he was a legendary writer beyond just that book. He was an icon in the industry, and the world is a bit brighter for him having been in it. But anyway. By Claremont, Silvestri, Leialoha, Oliver, and Rosen, “The Shattered Star.”

The Shattered Star

Can’t say the cover much impresses me.

It opens at a Russian research station in Antarctica, and it’s a pretty cool scene, actually. I like these people. They’re very much Claremont-ian background characters. Of course, the station is immediately destroyed and the researchers almost all die, a result of a tower bursting through the ice beneath them. Zaladane is responsible, and Alex is disgusted, but keeps his cover. But then he sees Lorna in danger, being placed on a platform beneath some fancy device, so he blows his cover, and is immediately subdued by the Mutates, who knew all along that he was there. With that done, Zaladane gets up on the platform, the machine is activated, and magnetic energy flows through Lorna, until she turns into energy and is absorbed by Zaladane. (Lorna does survive, she’s seen being carried, unconscious, on the next page.) The surviving Russians are given to Worm, who covers them in a mucus that lets him control them. He’s creepy. I don’t like Worm.

Psylocke overhears all this telepathically, and is so disgusted that she strips off her armour and dives into some water. She gets caught in an undertow, and Colossus tries to save her, but his body falls under someone’s control and he starts drowning her instead. Alison’s distracted trying to figure out what to do, and gets caught by Worm. As Psylocke slips unconscious, she has a weird dream. She’s back at the Outback base, and finds herself, strung up, partially turned into a cyborg. She finds her friends likewise dead. Gateway is chained and shackled, and she guesses there’s danger back home, and he shows her the Siege Perilous, so she guesses that’s their only chance of escape.

Back in reality, Brainchild’s a perverted little prick.

Uncanny X-Men #250

Ew. Gross, Brainchild.

Lupo suggests just taking her, and dude, no, no. Claremont, no, that’s not cool. Don’t turn rape threats into cheap drama like that. Ka-Zar, Shanna, and Nereel have all been captured by the enslaved X-Men, and threatens to kill their kids. Back in the dungeon, Lorna breaks free of her chains, and takes a laser-blast point blank. So now she’s super-strong and invulnerable. And also bigger. And Alex acts a lot wilder now. He’s still too weak to fight, so Psylocke takes over his mind and makes him. Whatever works. And that’s the tides of battle turning. Worm’s blasted unconscious, Dazzler blasts the membrane off herself, the fight is finished, everyone escapes, hurrah. And I find this funny:

Uncanny X-Men #250

Comics!

Psylocke figures that staying the Savage Land to defeat Zaladane will keep the X-Men from their fate, but then Gateway teleports them home anyway.

So, this issue. It’s, um, an odd one. It’s a perfectly serviceable issue of UXM, but . . . I don’t know, it feels like a bit of a let-down. It’s coming in the middle of issue after issue where things are falling apart, and then this two-parter is just a fairly normal story. It sets up next issue’s complete disbanding of the X-Men. But this is the 250th issue of Uncanny X-Men, and the story doesn’t live up to that. This is not a Special Anniversary story. I’m probably judging it unfairly, but just the same, the story is pretty bland. Zaladane and Lorna Dane being sisters feels random and out of nowhere. Also, it’s not explained here, but apparently, the similarity of their names is what made Zaladane believe they’re related. Even though Lorna’s adopted so “Dane” wouldn’t be her original family name. But oh well. The rape-y elements are weird and bad. Zaladane is a boring villain, which is probably why she’s a rare villain to stay dead. There’s not much really exciting going on. The characterization mostly falls a bit flat.

The art is actually a bit of a let-down, too. There’s some distinctly wonky images here and there. Like that one panel I posted where Alex is missing most of his hair. This really isn’t the best work of any of the artists. I mean, middling for Silvestri is still pretty damn great, but I expect better of him. Oliver, too. She was the best colourist in the industry, and obviously, there’s still some fantastic colours, but there are also bits where the colours aren’t as good as they should be.

All in all, this is just a really weak issue of UXM.

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X-Men comics of September 6 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Here’s comics.

X-Men Gold #11, by Marc Guggenheim, Lan Medina, Craig Yeung, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit. Piotr’s uncle explains that he lured Illyana in as a trap so Omega Red could use her power for a permanent resurrection. He takes the team to where Illyana will be, which is also where Omega Red is, so fighting. Old Man Logan vs. Zombie Omega Red. Meanwhile, turns out the uncle is a lying liar who lies, but luckily, the X-Men knew that, so prepared accordingly. During the fight against Omega Red, Kitty says she doesn’t speak Russian. But I could swear she had learned at least some? Anyway, the issue ends with Kitty and Piotr pretty definitively back together, and uuuuuuuuuuuuugh, why? We’ve had that romance. So many times. Why is Guggenheim so scared shitless of doing anything the least bit genuinely new or unique with this book? It’s just warmed-over Claremont duplicates. It’s just so boring. I guess everything here is handled competently enough. It’s not bad. It’s just there. It’s very safe, very by-the-books, no surprises, everything goes pretty much exactly the way it’s supposed to go. It makes for a book that ultimately feels pointless. If Guggenheim isn’t going to do something new with the franchise, then why the hell is he even writing this? What is the actual point of this book? What’s it trying to say? Bleh.

Astonishing X-Men #3, by Charles Soule, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith, and Clayton Cowles. It opens with Logan climbing a wall of ice, as narration talks about how he killed everyone he loved, and was sent back to replace his younger self, and how everyone sees him as being their Logan, but he’s not that man, and being around them just makes him feel the blood on his hands. It’s really good narration, honestly, and it’s the right way of handling Old Man Logan. Don’t let him be comfortable with the X-Men. In the real world, the police are ordering the conscious X-Men to stand down. Bishop tries to figure out a plan, while Angel takes the direct approach: Say hi and try to explain the situation. I like when heroes try that approach. He actually gets to be badassedly kind in this issue. He’s nice to the point that it becomes legitimately badass, and it’s probably one of my favourite Angel moments. Back in the Astral Plane, Logan has set his mind on Farouk, and I gotta say, the way he just straight-up ignores everything Farouk tries to distract him with? Pretty awesome. Just “nopes” through it all.

Astonishing X-Men #3

Yeah, this seems right.

This is a great issue. Soule focuses primarily on Logan, and he writes the character very well. He delves deep into Logan’s psyche. His determination, and his need to suffer for what he’s done. Which is a great touch and makes a lot of sense. I love Soule’s take on Old Man Logan. There’s a bitterness to him that’s lacking in other takes on him. McGuinness does a great job, too. I really like McGuinness’ style. There’s a certain weight to it. Even without dark shades, there’s a dark undertone. Which is enhanced by Keith’s colours, of course. Keith’s worked with McGuinness for a while now, and they clearly know how to work to each other’s strengths. The visual storytelling is top-notch. This is a very solid series. All that stuff I said about Gold? Yeah, doesn’t apply here. This is actually kinda what Gold aspires to be. There’s a real classic vibe to the story, but it also feels contemporary and new. X-Men vs. Shadow King isn’t a new idea, but Soule’s handling it in a unique and interesting way that makes the book feel like its own thing, while still having plenty to appeal to fans of the older stuff. Good book.

Iceman #5, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino. Juggernaut asking a pair of girls for directions to a turtle pond is a great visual. I’ll say that off the bat. But anyway, Bobby’s come out to his parents, and things are going great. His parents are homophobic assholes. So, I’ve been reading some ’90s comics, and I actually just a couple nights ago read an issue of X-Men where Bobby’s dad was badly beaten because he stood up for mutants against Graydon Creed. It was a great story that showed that Bobby’s dad really does love him. And now, he says their son is dead. Yep. He does talk a bit about his past relationships, though, and that’s pretty good stuff. Luckily, Juggernaut shows up, which allows Bobby to escape the really, really uncomfortable conversation. Also, Juggernaut apparently has an idea for a fried donut delivery app, and I am 1000% in support of this idea. Make it happen, Juggernaut. Bring this joy into the world. Anyway, while Bobby fights Juggernaut, Kitty gives his parents a letter he’d tried to write to explain his feelings. Rough as the start of the issue is, the ending is pretty great. The fight against Juggernaut is actually really good, very exciting, with Bobby make really nice use of his powers. Juggernaut is even impressed. The letter that’s shown over the fight is very nice, very emotional stuff that really delves into Bobby’s feelings. The final conversation of the issue – won’t say who it’s with – is an incredibly powerful moment, one that really brings tears to your eyes. I can’t say I’m a fan of the art, though. Vitti puts a loooot of lines, especially on faces. And it’s really unpleasant to look at. Still, he does a good job with the fight. He makes it very exciting. So, yeah, very good issue.

Generation X #6, by Christina Strain, Eric Koda, Felipe Sobreiro, and Clayton Cowles. The issue opens with Doop teaching a class on mutant sexuality. Hmm, should I translate his speech here? Fuck it, let’s do this. “Truth is, everyone’s different. Some of us just can’t help but be more obvious about it. Doesn’t mean we should stop ourselves from livin’ and lovin’ ’cause of it.” “Don’t I know it. People have looked at me like I’m a sexy boy for years. When people project an image of us, it can leave us feeling misunderstood. Even highlight our deepest insecurities. Not to say that you shouldn’t feel sexy, because you should. For yourself. ‘Cause if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else?” Also, Nature Girl has a crush on Doop. Girls loving Doop is a pretty great running gag throughout his existence. Meanwhile, Benjamin is falling asleep, because Quentin has been dragging him out to clubs every night, and Nathaniel’s not happy about it. After class, Quentin is pursuing Idie, asking her for sushi. (He also asked her about sushi in Iceman. I’m guessing Strain and Grace worked that out as a joke. I like that. I like things crossing over between books like that.) Idie shoots him down, and it’s actually kinda sad. Ben even notes that, much as everyone thinks Quentin’s a jerk, he’s also the loneliest guy Ben knows. Ben’s a nice guy. The nicest guy, honestly. Nathaniel decides to invite himself along with Quentin and Ben on their newest adventure. We also get a scene of Jubilee and Chamber talking about M, and about Jubilee’s own vampirism. It’s a good scene, and I like that Strain isn’t ignoring Jubilee’s vampirism. It’s a distinct part of who she is. Something Jubilee has to work around. They also beat up a mugger, and have a good time with it. On the downside, Quentin takes Ben and Nate to an auction where Kade Kilgore, one of the obnoxious Hellfire Brats who needs to die so hard that it retroactively erases his existence, is at. Quentin also declares Ben his boyfriend, which certainly seems to throw Nate off. Ben and Nate are so going to hook up and I want it so much. Anyway, it’s a fun issue. Nice spotlight on the boys. More flirting and teasing and I’m not sure my heart can take it. I also like Strain’s take on Quentin. He’s not a Rebel With A Heart Of Gold. He’s a lonely kid covering his insecurities with acts of rebellion. That’s the real root of Quentin Quire. He’s not the cool kid, he’s a loser hiding behind a mask of what he thinks is cool. He’s got a lot of deep-rooted emotional issues. Ben, probably because of his power, is one of the few people who’s able to really see through that, and he really wants to help Quentin, and it’s really nice. Ben is such a good kid. I also loved the Jubes/Chamber scene. They’re total BFFs and it’s sweet. I’m not a fan of the art. Koda’s style is very blobby and everyone looks vaguely swollen. Not a style I like. The brief fight scene is fantastic, though. There’s a panel of Jubilee kicking a gun so it hits the mugger’s head, and it’s really dynamic and awesome. Koda kills it on action, and Sobreiro’s colours add a lot of energy and dynamism. Give Koda an all-action issue, it’d be an amazing comic. Anyway, I’m still loving this. Still my favourite team X-title.

Pull List for September 6 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I honestly don’t know when I’ll end up posting the reviews this week.

I’ll go to the store for: Animosity The Rise #3, by Marguerite Bennett, Juan Doe; Black Bolt #5, by Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward, Frazer Irving; Generation X #6, by Christina Strain, Eric Koda, Felipe Sobreiro, and Clayton Cowles; Hawkeye #10, by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino; Jem & the Misfits Infinite #2, by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St. Onge; My Little Pony Legends of Magic #5, by Jeremy Whitley, Brenda Hickey; My Little Pony Movie Prequel #4, by Ted Anderson, Andy Price; The Wicked + The Divine #31, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles

I’ll also review: Astonishing X-Men #3, by Charles Soule, Ed McGuinness; Iceman #5, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Sabino; X-Men Gold #11, by Marc Guggenheim, Lan Medina.

So that’s 8 comics to pick up, and 3 additional reviews. Pretty heavy week.

Why I’m buying them: Animosity! Horror, tragedy and drama, all involving animals. It’s good stuff. Black Bolt is one of Marvel’s best comics right now, and this issue is all about Lockjaw, which means giant puppy. Yay giant puppies. Generation X is all about the boys – Quentin, Benjamin and Nathaniel – and I am confident it will do nothing to dissuade me from my shipping. Plus, it’s just been a great series. Hawkeye’s been fun, but it’s also been getting increasingly dramatic, and the preview for this issue is weirdly tense. Jem has just been wonderful from the start. And WicDiv is WicDiv. A comic that hurts so good.

So, I’m thinking for tomorrow, I might just try to bang out the X-comics real quick, and not even bother talking about the rest. See how I feel after work, I suppose.

So I’ve been debating asking out a girl on OKCupid. She likes books, indie music, cats, and puns. So I kinda love her a little already. Two things are holding me back. First, she’s pretty, and I’m an ugly bastard. Second, she’s 24, and I’m 32. The age difference is acceptable, by any standard. But it’d still feel weird to me. Realistically, I should just grow some guts and take a chance. But it’s scary and I’m bad at it. So, I don’t know.

You know what character really needs to be brought back? Silhouette. A disabled mixed-race woman. Marvel doesn’t have many disabled heroes, and Silhouette was one of the rare few who didn’t have anything to offset her disability. She doesn’t have a power that lets her walk. She doesn’t have artificial legs that fire rockets. She has crutches. Which she uses to hit people, or to let her kick them in the face. She’s a pretty interesting character aside from all that, too, but the fact that she’s a disabled person who still kicks bad guys in the face is something that really stands out. I really want some writer to do something with her.

Uh, some Kickstarters worth backing. Mine!: a comic collection to benefit Planned Parenthood. Do you support women’s reproductive health? Then this helps support that. Do you like awesome comic creators? Some of the people involved in this include Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way, Becky Cloonan, Gail Simone, Brittney Williams, Trina Robbins, Mark Waid, June Brigman, Ann Nocenti, Natacha Bustos, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and just so many others. Tons of industry legends, tons of up-and-comers, tons of immensely talented creators. It’s an amazing list. So regardless of the cause, it’s definitely worth backing. But it’s also for a great cause. It’s got just over a week to raise another $10 000, so give it some money.

Beyond that, there’s Lady of Wrath, by Austin Chuck-Yin and Oliver Castaneda. It’s got some pretty fantastic art. And the story seems reasonably interesting. So why not check it out. And Destiny NY Vol 2, by Pat Shand and Rosi Kampe. I actually haven’t read the first volume yet, though I did back it. I’ll try to read it this week. It’s about a former magical girl who realized her destiny and is now just living her life. Which is a great premise. What happens after the story ends? I’m endlessly fascinated by the mundane lives of superheroes. Big battles for the sake of the world are all fine and good, but paying bills, going on dates, watching TV – that’s so much more real, and so much more compelling to me.

I forgot to set this to auto-post, so this is really late going up. Oops. Anyway, that’s it for this week.

Uncanny X-Men #249 (1989, October)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver, and Orzechowski, “The Dane Curse.”

The Dane Curse

Lorna’s back!

It opens with Alex noting who’s gone, and who’s left, and wondering who’s next.

Uncanny X-Men #249

OK, this is actually kinda cool.

On a monitor behind him, the others are laying Storm to rest. Alex drinks, angsts, and yells at an image of Wolverine for not being there. A monitor screen helpfully shows a recap of the last issue, and he blasts it, which causes a feedback and an explosion that knocks him out. So he rants about how Storm died because he used his power recklessly. And in this rant, he proceeds to . . . use his power recklessly. Smart move, Alex. Because he’s unconscious, he doesn’t hear the phone ring. It’s Lorna calling! Apparently, after Sinister’s seeming death, Malice’s hold has weakened. When Lorna finds out it’s not Alex who answered the phone, she gets all sad, and then argues with Malice’s reflection in the phone booth glass. She gets pissed and destroys the booth, and gets found by a couple dudes who try to help her. One guy is sent off to find either a doctor or a medical kit, but he gets attacked.

Back in Australia, Colossus gets fed up with his painting. Deathstrike and the Reavers are watching, and Deathstrike wonders why he’s so angry. And engages in some art critique.

Uncanny X-Men #249

Just because she’s a killer cyborg doesn’t mean she’s uncultured.

I actually do really like that. She grew up in a household with money, of course she’s well-educated and cultured. I find her more interesting when that side of her is accentuated, rather than her “REVENGE!” thing. She’s got a lot more depth than she’s given credit for. Anyway, she adds that killing Piotr might be an act of mercy, and tells Pierce she’s only there for Logan and doesn’t actually care one way or the other about the other X-Men. And she and Pierce start making out. OK then.

Alex wakes up in his bed, with some flowers and a note that Lorna called.

Uncanny X-Men #249

That’s very sweet of you, Jubilee.

Psylocke comes in to check on him, and they go down to the computer room, which is already fully repaired. With Storm gone, she actually seems to have stepped into the role of leadership, which is pretty cool. And makes sense. Of them ones left, she’s certainly the most put-together. The others are kinda messes. Actually, no, that’s not fair. Alison’s got it together. But she’s not leadership material, not at this point. The computer traces the call to Punta Arenas, Chile, and the team gathers to check it out. But first, Psylocke psi-scans the town for intruders, finding nothing. It’s mostly forgotten, but Jubilee had a high natural resistance to telepathy.

Down in Chile, Lorna’s having her cuts checked out, and some guys on dinosaurs bust into the bar. That’s when the X-Men arrive in town. Alex notes that they can’t track Lorna without Wolverine, and then there’s an explosion, and honestly Alex, you should know by now that finding other X-Men is never that tough. They get attacked by a couple of the dino-riders, and Alex is hardcore.

Uncanny X-Men #249

Holy crap!

The Savage Land Mutates attack, with their latest recruit, Whiteout, blinding them all. Though Ali has some protection, and can still see a bit. Unfortunately, she tries to blind Gaza. Who’s already blind. The team’s being taken apart, until Psylocke can focus enough to get some teamwork going. She’s a good leader. And just very fun. I really do love this version of Psylocke. Anyway, elsewhere in the city, Zaladane is telling the people that the attack is retribution for an oil freighter that crashed and spilled oil into the Antarctic sea. She’s also using a black lotus flower to sedate Lorna.

Uncanny X-Men #249

And no one makes an entrance like Dazzler.

They trade the Mutates for the people of the city, and let Zaladane and her forces go. With Alex in their midst as a spy. And Zaladane calls Lorna her sister. Which is an unexpected twist here, but becomes a hilariously stupid one in the next issue.

But this issue! It’s pretty good. Lots of Alex being angsty and dark. He honestly doesn’t carry it off very well and just comes across as dorky. Which is oddly endearing. Psylocke pretty much steals the issue. She’s kinda cold, and has stepped into the leadership role very effectively. It’s a role she’s surprisingly well-suited for. Less so now, actually, with her being more of a scrapper. But back in this period, leadership suited her. And I loved her costume in this time. The cloak added a real sense of drama to her. Look at that last panel I posted. Psylocke looks bitchin’ there. Mysterious and menacing. I really love the pre-ninja Psylocke. She was so great. It’s a shame that it’s pretty much impossible to get her back to that. I like ninja-Psylocke well enough, too, but damn if she wasn’t awesome before that.

Meanwhile, Jubilee manages to be the best without even showing up in the issue.

The art’s great. It’s Silvestri, Green and Oliver, of course it’s great. It’s a gorgeous comic. And full of pretty sights for both men and women. Psylocke in a nightgown, Alex shirtless. Lots to ogle. Even aside from that, though, it’s gorgeous art, and great visual storytelling. Great use of shadows in Alex’s pity-fest at the start.

This two-parter is a bit odd. I’m not entirely sure it was the right story to tell. But I’ll talk more about that with the next issue.

There’s also Classic X-Men #38, a reprint of X-Men #132. And a back-up by Ann Nocenti, Kyle Baker, Glynis Oliver, and Bill Oakley. Alison, dressed professionally and all in red, gets on a lift with an old, fat, bald guy. She finds him creepy.

Classic X-Men #38

This is an amazing expression.

In the car park, she almost gets hit by a car, but the fat guy saves her. And cuffs her to a post. He claims it’s a joke, and leaves to get the key. She decides to get back at him by scaring the crap out of him. She turns on a radio to provide sound she can turn into light, and starts creating trippy light shows at him. He breaks down, and when she asks what the hell he was doing, he says he’s a filmmaker who’s obsessed with fear, and just wanted to study it up close. It’s an odd story, but a fun one. It really is creepy, up until Alison decides she’s fed up. Then it gets pretty awesome. Turns out big lightshows are kinda scary when you don’t expect them. It’s worth noting that the filmmaker looks like a morbidly obese Alfred Hitchcock, which is presumably intentional, but a bit odd. Either way, Baker and Oliver do a great job setting a creepy, uncomfortable tone. Actually, Oliver deserves particular praise here. The bright red of Ali’s outfit stands out brilliantly. And the light show is spectacular. She really does make this story. Just an amazing colour artist.

Alpha Flight #74 (1989, September)

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Hudnall, Calimee, Manley, Sharen, and Chiang, “Dark Reflections.”

Dark Reflections

As a Canadian, it’s hard not to cheer a little.

It opens with Lil narrating her disbelief at having killed Spider-Man, while throwing his body into a dumpster. And then we flashback to when they got back to Earth, and saw a newspaper about President Reed Richards disbanding Congress. Jeffries flew off to find a junkyard so he could turn into a plane, while the rest, in their costumes, went for coffee. At the Coffee Bean, where Spidey and his friends always used to hang out! They ask the waitress why everyone’s afraid of them, and the waitress explains no one knows which side they’re on, and when they mention being Alpha Flight, she mentions James Hudson being Prime Minister. And married to Aurora.

We check on Jeffries, who thinks Manhattan looks wrong, and you know what? I like that detail. Something like that is really effective at giving a sense of things being off. Anyway, he hits a barrier and gets attacked by Iron Man. A few hours later, Alpha is arrested by Vision, She-Hulk, and Wonder Man, and they’re taken to an underground bunker, reunited with Jeffries, and Captain America comes in to explain the situation. In 1990, Doom gathered a bunch of other supervillains and conquered the Soviet Union. In 1992, Reed was elected President of the US, Guardian was elected Prime Minister of Canada, and Captain Britain was chosen to run Western Europe and North Africa. Various efforts have been made to sabotage the Eastern Alliance, and lots of heroes have died in the failed coup attempts. Eventually, Cap finishes ranting, and demands they join the fight against the Eastern Alliance, but heather says they just want to go home. So, fight!

Alpha Flight #74

I like that word.

Then Alpha makes it to the streets and gets attacked by just about all the heroes. Lil gets grabbed by Rogue, then dropped into an alley, where Spider-Man goes after her. And is really goddamn pervy. But she manages to grab his ankle, then swings him against a building, breaking his neck and smashing his skull. She climbs up to the top of a building, and is confronted by Wolverine and Colossus.

So this is . . . not bad, really. It’s an interesting world they ended up in. The idea of the villains banding together to take over the Eastern Bloc, giving them cover against retaliation from heroes, is pretty cool. The way the heroes have responded also shows that this was probably always a shitty world. Something like this could easily be its own graphic novel or mini-series, actually. (Of course, there have been tons of similar stories since this one came out. And there were similar stories before it. I’ve no doubt that Watchmen was an inspiration. Hell, I’m pretty sure there had been What Ifs that were probably inspirations for the story, too. Still, for the time, it’s definitely a fairly unique premise.

But the premise is about all the issue has going for it. With Lil narrating, pretty much no one else gets any personality. And Lil’s own personality is weirdly dry. The tone is too expository – it doesn’t provide much insight into who Lil is as a person. Which is a shame. She needed something demonstrating who she is and how she thinks, to give readers more reason to care. Hudnall’s writing falls too flat. The art, likewise, is pretty bland. It’s not particularly detailed, it’s not really exciting, it’s not even all that expressive.

Ultimately, it’s a cool premise but a weak story.

X-Men comics of August 30 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Working until 11 on Wednesdays is lame. Oh well. Here’s yesterday’s comics.

X-Men Blue #10, by Cullen Bunn, Giovanni Valletta, Scott Hanna, Guru-eFX, and Joe Caramagna. Hank meets with Gazing Nightshade, one of the Madripoor mutants, and it’s nice to see them sticking around, because Bunn spent so much time setting up sub-plots and I really want to see some of them actually continue. He talks about his self-doubts, and she tells him he’s actually feeling guilt over what he’s done and the secrets he’s keeping. He then leaves, and meets with the Goblin Queen, who’s been helping him with his magic so he can feel important again. Bobby trains with Danger, who taunts him about Romeo not returning his calls. Lorna has tea with her dad. He wants her there to help him guide the kids, and to help keep him in line, which is a very sensible idea. Jean and Scott talk about the psychic rapport. Warren and Jimmy fly out to Colorado, to talk to the Sheriff who found Jimmy. And I won’t spoil how the issue goes, but all I’ll say is this: Bloodstorm. Anyway, this issue is . . . well, it’s busy. It’s a looooot of follow-up on things he’s set up. There’s more of the Jean/Scott/Jimmy triangle being pushed, and uuuugggh, I could really do without every part of that. Jean and Scott should be best friends who know they could be something more but who also know that what they already have is better for them right now. And Jimmy just sucks and he’s boring, and his brief scene with Warren does nothing to change that. Warren is actually pretty interesting in that scene. I don’t know, I just kinda like how Bunn writes Warren. He’s charming and nice and a good dude. His Bobby . . . honestly, it feels like Bobby is only in this book because Bunn had to include him. He’s given Iceman so little focus, and even here, he gets little. Like, this is probably the most focus he’s gotten since this book launched, and it’s two pages of Danger criticizing him and him whining back. After this current arc, Bobby really needs to get an actual spotlight issue, because Bunn is doing jack shit with the character and it’s not really fair to Bobby. The art is good here. Valletta’s got a nice style. It’s a very contemporary style, one that meshes well with the previous artists on this book. It’s definitely not a style that would turn anyone off, at the very least. It does work well for this series, and he handles the storytelling aspects well. The colours are great, of course, Guru-eFX are great at what they do. So overall, this issue’s still a bit of a mixed bag. It’s nice seeing some of the sub-plots get touched on, but few of them are given any room to breathe.

Jean Grey #6, by Dennis Hopeless, Paul Davidson, Jay David Ramos, and Travis Lanham. Jean is visiting Dr. Strange, who’s going on about the show he’s been binging on Netflix, while preparing her for a ritual. And it’s pretty funny, I’ll admit. Jean’s kinda annoyed that he’s not being more theatrical. Then he pulls her soul out of her body to try to remove the spirit that’s talking to her. They find Dark Phoenix, who sucks her into a memory, of a birthday right after Jean moved into the mansion. And there’s a couple great panels here.

Jean Grey #6

Bit of criticism of the Stan-and-Jack days.

Yeah, her treatment in the ’60s could get a bit rough. Though I’ll always remember the fact that she knocked over a frigging T-Rex. Seriously, talk all you want about how bad ’60s Jean was, she knocked over a T-Rex. Hell yeah. Anyway, Jean responds to that rant with this:

Jean Grey #6

That floating candle steals the panel for me.

A pretty interesting way of redeeming the problems with the ’60s version of the character. Add some layers to her treatment from the time. The next memory is from the ’90s, the X-Men vs. the Acolytes, and Strange guesses that Jean’s spirit is the adult Jean Grey. Huh. And the Jeans argue a bit, and it’s really interesting stuff, with another panel that I want to highlight.

Jean Grey #6

Subtle, Dennis.

This seems like it’s a commentary on fans who call Adult Jean the “real” Jean and want the Teen jean gone. Honestly, I can appreciate both versions. I do prefer Teen Jean, personally. I think the story of the O5 – rebelling against their destinies – is actually a really interesting story to tell. And it’s laid out really clearly here, with Teen Jean saying, “I don’t want to be you!” And Adult Jean actually shoots back that, just because there was pain and death in her life, it doesn’t make it a tragedy. Which is admittedly a very good response. I do want Teen jean to continue to aspire to be her own person, but making peace with her Adult Self would probably be a good step for that. Another memory! Jean and Emma arguing over Scott, which is presented pretty hilariously here.

Jean Grey #6

“You’re big and red and boring.” I love Emma.

And then some lessons on the Phoenix, and a test for Jean. This is a good issue, all about exploring the fact that Jean is still Jean. It feels, to an extent, like Hopeless is repudiating the people who bitch about Teen Jean not being the “real” Jean. The issue explores some of the main periods of Jean’s life. The early days with the X-Men, the ’90s, and the Morrison era. Each period gets its own tone, which is cool. The ’60s feels very innocent, the ’90s all about action, the Morrison era a soap opera at a school. These are all very fitting. Hopeless also has fun with Strange. The art is a bit mixed for me. Sometimes it’s great and epic, other times, it just looks weird to me. A lot of faces that just look off. But when it gets epic, it’s awesome. Still, all in all, a good issue.

And the non-X-stuff.

Black Panther #17, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse, Dexter Vines, Karl Story, Laura Martin, Andrew Crossley, and Joe Sabino. A guy gives a speech about Sefako, a god, which concerns a counselor, who reports it back to T’Challa. But the issue is mostly about Ororo’s return to Wakanda, the fact that many Wakandans are rejoicing her return and are worshiping her, and her own mixed feelings on the whole thing. It’s a great issue, one that really does a great job with Ororo. Coates is an old-school X-Men fan, and it shows in how he writes Ororo. Queen, goddess, but still human. A lot of people have problems with how she’s been handled in the X-titles in the past few years, and I suspect those people would love how Coates writes her here, because he shows her so much love and respect. I’d actually love it if he got to write an X-Men series. (I also still want Yona Harvey to write a Storm solo.) One thing that’s interesting about this issue is that, while it’s certainly connected to the larger story, it also feels somewhat self-contained. It’s almost a breather issue, even with a big fight scene. Because the issue isn’t about the plot, it’s about Ororo, and it’s great for that. Good art, too. This series has been on fire lately.

Black Panther & the Crew #6, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Butch Guice, Mack Chater,  Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino. A flashback shows Ezra accidentally killing his friend, Frank, marking the end of their revolution, with the promise it would come back around. In the present, it has, which is why Ezra called in the Crew in the first place. And a riot breaks out, which the Crew ends, and they bring in those responsible. It’s a decent finale, but not a great one. It is a bit rushed. I wish this book was continuing, because it was good, it was telling an interesting story about complicated issues, but it didn’t really get enough time for it. It ended as soon as the team finished coming together. I would’ve liked some more stories about the team working together. But alas.

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #22, by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. Lunella’s returned to Illa, to try to help her, despite Illa being very cross with her for leaving. Back on Earth, robo-Lunella is not doing a very good job at fooling Lunella’s parents. And Lunella helps Illa, and it’s great and sweet and I love it. This book is just so good. So much heart. It actually gets into some pretty deep issues, but always in a way that younger readers will be able to follow. There’s also plenty of science stuff that will go over their heads but maybe it’ll get them interested in science. And, of course, Bustos and Bonvillain do amazing work. I really do love this series.

Generations Hawkeye, by Kelly Thompson, Steffano Raffaele, Digikore, ad Joe Sabino. Kate is in the past, on a jungle island filled with snakes, bugs, heat, and the greatest marksmen in the world. Which includes Clint! In his old costume! And they bond! And Kate makes fun of his costume. The clear winning panel of the issue, of course, is this one:

Generations Hawkeye

An epic callback.

It’s a great issue. One thing I saw pointed out online, Kate’s thoughts are in modern-style caption boxes, Clint’s are in old-school thought bubbles. It’s a great touch. And a great issue! Kate and Clint have always had an amazing chemistry, and that still shows here. The plot is cool, an interesting premise and story, done well. But the real joy here is in the character work. Thompson does great work with both Hawkeyes. Clint is like his classic self, a bit arrogant, a bit more serious than his present self. But still a bit of a dork, too. And Kate is Kate. Kate is always Kate. And she’s just as Kate here. It’s great fun. The Wolverine issue is still the best of the Generations one-shots, but this one’s probably second.

Mighty Captain Marvel #8, by Margaret Stohl, Michele Bandini, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Caramagna. After repulsing another wave of Chitauri, Carol and the others debate what to do. Monica suggests leaving, and Hopper yells at her. A bit dickishly. And we actually get a scene that was in an issue of Secret Empire, with Carol telling Monica and America that she’s not leaving. (Including America offering to take them to a reality that’s a musical, and given how awesome the Rock Opera issue of KSD’s run was, I’m not sure that’s a bad idea.) There’s actually quite a few scenes taken from Secret Empire. There’s also an In Memoriam of Flo Steinberg. Which I’m realizing wasn’t in all this week’s comics, which is kind of a shame. She absolutely deserves it. She was a huge name in early Marvel, and an even bigger name in indie comics. As for the issue, well, I’m glad this Secret Empire tie-in is over, and given this issue had the Alpha Flight space station destroyed, I’m curious about what’ll come next. Also, this issue seems to imply that the new Quasar is dead? That’s weird. I wouldn’t have expected that to be a throwaway moment in Captain Marvel, given she’s Nick Spencer’s character. I would assume he’d be the one to kill her off.

America #6, by Gabby Rivera, Kelly Thompson, Ramon Villalobos, Walden Wong, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham. America wakes up in a boxing ring, with Mindless Ones in her corner. The announcer is Arcade, and other villains are in the audience. And her opponent is her ex, Magdalena. A flashback to two hours earlier shows Kate chase after the helicopter that took America away, joined by Madrimar. They rescue Mags’ dad, which allows America and Madrimar to really fight back. And Madrimar is America’s grandma, which gets America pretty emotional. So, this series still has some issues. The pacing is still piss-poor, to be blunt. Rivera is not good at pacing. It’s just all over the place. But the emotional beats of the issue work better here.

And Animosity #9 is great, with creepy bees. Great stuff.

Pull List for August 30 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I work until 11 tomorrow, so reviews will absolutely not go up, they will be done Thursday.

I’ll go to the store for: America #6, by Gabby Rivera, Kelly Thompson, Ramon Villalobos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham; Animosity #9, by Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre, Rob Schwager, and Marshall Dillon; Black Panther #17, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Walden Wong, Laura Martin, and Joe Sabino; Black Panther & the Crew #6, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Butch Guice, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Joe Sabino; Generations Hawkeye, by Kelly Thompson, Steffano Raffaele; Mighty Captain Marvel #8, by Margaret Stohl, Michele Bandini, Erick Arciniega, and Joe Caramagna; Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #22, by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Travis Lanham.

I’ll also review: Jean Grey #6, by Dennis Hopeless, Paul Davidson; X-Men Blue #10, by Cullen Bunn, Julian Lopez.

So that’s 7 comics I’m picking up, and 2 additional reviews. A pretty good week. Side note: Has Marvel just stopped putting out previews? This is two weeks in a row where I couldn’t find previews. Which means I also can’t find the full creative teams – the solicits only list writer and line artist, I guess because everyone else involved just doesn’t matter. Diamond doesn’t care about them, and the publishers don’t care enough to push Diamond on it.

Anyway! Why I’m getting the books. America, for all its problems, still entertains me enough to keep me supporting it. Plus, Kelly Thompson’s still helping with Kate on this issue, yay. Animosity is scary, heart-breaking, and heart-warming, and just damned good comics. Black Panther’s been very smart, and Storm in the current arc is great, as Coates clearly has a lot of love for her. The Crew’s been some solid character explorations, and the team all coming together should make for a cool finale. Hawkeye’s been great fun, and I figure this Generations issue will be more of that, with a classic Clint for good measure. Captain Marvel’s another book that’s not as good as it should be, but which I’m still buying because I see potential there. And Moon Girl is Moon Girl.

Over on the CBR boards, I spent, like, a week debating with some people about the value of fat representation in superhero comics. Traditionally, superhero comics have treated obesity as either a joke or a sign of moral failure (or both). In either case, the message is that there’s something wrong with fat people, something that makes them worthy of scorn. And I think that’s bullshit, and that fat people deserve positive representation, too. But one thing I kept bringing up during the discussion – and something that gets forgotten in any discussion of diversity in fiction – is that it’s not just good for the people who get more representation. There is actually a very important reason to improve diversity both on the page and among creators: To get new stories. New perspectives, new experiences, new angles. Superhero comics have an unfortunate history with a limited number of body types. For men, you’ve got Spider-Man, Captain America, and the Hulk – lean but muscular, muscular, hyper-muscular. Women just get one body type, for the most part. And that shit is boring. We should be demanding more diverse body types just for the sake of making things more interesting. We should be demanding more everything for the sake of making things more interesting.

So for this week, my shifts are all 1:30-11. Which is a long shift, though at least I’m getting to sleep in more. There’s no wifi at the call centre, and I don’t have a data plan, so I can’t go on Twitter or whatever on my breaks. On the plus side, it means I’ve actually been getting more reading done. I’ve pretty much dropped off of Goodreads – I just lost interest in it – so I haven’t been reviewing any of the stuff I’m reading. Which makes me feel a bit bad, as I figure I should make some effort to promote all this stuff, but meh, I’m lazy. Sorry. I also randomly realized yesterday that, in the past month, I haven’t gotten any of the standard dumb jokes that customers always have. Like, when I ask if there’s anything else, no one’s said, “the winning lottery numbers,” or anything like that. I’m relieved. I hate those kinds of jokes. You know, the ones that everyone’s heard a few million times, and which stupid people don’t realize aren’t funny, they’re just annoying.

With these 11:00 shifts, though, I’m wondering if I should shift my weekly reviews a bit, maybe go back to just doing the X-Men comics each week. It’d be a lot quicker. I could easily knock those out before bed, given how few there are. Something to think about, I suppose.

I still haven’t started in on Defenders yet. I actually want to get caught up on My Little Pony first. I fell a few episodes behind. I think I’m two episodes behind right now.

And I guess that’s all I have for this week.

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