Review: X-Men Legacy #258

With two issues left on Mike Carey’s exceptional run on X-Men Legacy, as expected, we’re about to get a lot of closure with the characters he’s used for years – not to mention the homecoming of the Starjammers!

X-Men Legacy 258

X-Men Legacy #258
Mike Carey (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Ed Tadeo (inks), Brian Reber (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Mico Sayan & Sonia Oback (cover). $2.99

With the fear of the X-Men being obliterated mixed with the possible homecoming of Havok, Polaris and Phoenix, this should be an exciting book.

And you know what? It is! But once I finished the book, I found me asking myself, “What the heck just happened?” But first:

Once again, writer Mike Carey hits his knowledge of the X-Universe home with these characters. Magneto pulls some trickery from his hat (or helmet?) while Rogue and Rachel combine their powers to finish off Friendless once-and-for-all.

With so many characters running about in the book, it’s great to see how Carey balances them all. Frenzy gets her time to shine, while Gambit – with so few words in-story – is still same the Gambit we all know and love.

In terms of development, Carey makes Rogue not only act as leader, but has her prove it again and again in this story. With the conclusion of this story arc, Carey really improves his take how on our favourite Southern belle has moved so far from the comics which we grew up with her in.

But I asked, “What the heck just happened?” When the story ended, I was still unclear about the events that took place. And it wasn’t Carey’s fault.

I enjoy Steve Kurth’s work. From time-to-time, characters look a bit stringy or faces do define the character too-well, but he definitely is a clean, sharp artist. I especially love his depictions of Rachel and Gambit in this book. What bothered me was rather how the story progressed. By no-means am I a professional artist, but I’ve read enough comic books to understand how storytelling works. While Kurth has been doing this for years, this book didn’t do it for me.

The problem lays in with the massive panels. While Kurth’s art is pretty immaculate, the story-telling aspect became muddled in the large panels – especially when they are exterior shots of the ship which story takes place in. I really have no idea what I’m looking at – whether the ship was in peril or not. It’s close to crashing, it’s not close to crashing – it went into a wormhole? It was unclear with what was happening. If there were smaller panels, it would give Kurth a lot more space to explain the events in the story. Big images are gorgeous, but many panels can tell a story clearer than a single splash page with one or two smaller panels embedded.

X-Men Legacy 258I hope you enjoy the colour yellow

And while the art was good, Brian Reber’s yellows really clustered what was visible outside of the ship. Things were too yellow or orange. In fact, aside from a few characters who have blacks in them, and the “trance blue,” yellow and orange were really the only two colours that ran through the book.

Like I said though, Kurth is a strong artist. However the small qualms with storytelling in this issue really detracted from what happened.

With Carey only having two issues remaining on his run on Legacy, the way he concluded this arc makes it look like he’s just getting started.

Grade: 6/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews – Back in Action

Well I’ve been away for awhile. Sometime life throws you some curve balls. In my case, it was working a lot and a humidex ruining my will to stay awake. I also must apologize for the lack of Classic Comic Friday’s this month. It simply can not happen with how hectic everything has been both with work and me getting my new computer actually running. HOWEVER, I definitely will be doing some reviews this week and later on this month, tackling the whole, “Superman’s not American Anymore” topic. I may be a bit late to the game in talking about it, but I do have a reason for it. I will give my explanation to why in time.

Also, UncannyDerek.com is on Facebook! Click on the loveable blue “F” on the right of the screen to join the group. In a nutshell, it’s the easiest way to get updates.

But for now:

Iron Age Alpha

Iron Age Alpha #1 (one-shot)
Rob Williams (writer), Rebekah Isaacs (pencils, inks), Andres Mossa (colours), Jared K. Fletcher (letters), Ariel Olivetti (cover). $2.99

This was a story I was dreading since its announcement: The return of Phoenix – in an IRON MAN book? Was this current continuity or some sort of Ultimate universe? Well it’s current continuity, and surprisingly, it is not what I had expected at all.

Iron Man gets kidnapped by a old disgruntled employee, the Phantom! (Yes, even I had to do research to find out who this guy was). Talk about pulling back from Iron Man’s past. Anyway, his plans are to have Iron Man watch the Phantom kill himself and the world. The plan involves one of Dr. Doom’s old time machines pulling the Dark Phoenix out of the 70’s to destroy everything we know. Conceivably, it’s a great plan. It even works! But Stark jumps into time machine before the world is destroyed and is now stuck in the past. What is a boy to do?

Fortunately for us readers, we can see how this story can easily be retconned making it an irrelevant story in the long run, and possibly just a ploy to bring the Phantom back into the Marvel mainstream. Maybe I’m wrong. What I do know is the story is definitely not trying to bring Dark Phoenix back into the Marvel continuity. It just feels wrong with the way she enters and exits the story with so little emphasis. I digress.

What is a fair decent coupe-de-grace is Isaac’s artwork. It’s nothing ground breaking by any standards, but many excellent panels lift the book above what the rest of the story gives. All scenes with Phoenix and the final page really shows her versatility as an artist – complimenting two art styles and setting them in one book. It’s a lot of tough work, so she deserves her kudos.

Although the start was interesting, I feel like I already know how this story will end. Dark Phoenix is already out of the game and seemed really like only a marketing strategy to get readers like myself on board. It worked, Marvel. But good try. I’m already done with the Iron Age.

Grade: 5/10

X-Men Legacy

X-Men Legacy #250
Mike Carey (writer), Khoi Pham & Steve Kurth (pencils), Tom Palmer & Jay Leisten (inks), Marte Gracia & Brian Reber (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Mico Suayan & Marte Gracia (cover). $4.99

A super-sized 250th issue of X-Men gives us three stories in one giant tome. Two of the stories are written by Carey, while a reprint of New Mutants #27 by Claremont’s and Sienkiewicz appears as the third story.

Carey’s first story continues the dilemma after the Age of X. However, unlike the Age of X, this story makes sense (Cyclops even agrees with me). As the Age of X concluded, mutants long-gone (ie. Chamber) were brought back into the real world. Naturally, five of Legion’s personalities would also escape – and it’s up to a unlikely band of mutants to stop them: Legion, Xavier, Magneto, Rogue, Gambit and. . . Frenzy? If you told me about this lineup a year ago, I would’ve laughed. But Carey has been able to reshape X-Men Legacy so naturally that it feels completely natural.

For the second story, we finally get to see what Rachel, Havok, Polaris & friends are up to – and it’s not pretty. Cleverly using Rogue’s powers and the Age of X storyline, Carey makes a way to retrace where our favourite lost-in-space mutants have been. Admittedly, I’ve been confused to how the Age of X tied in with Rachel’s reappearance a few issues back, but now it is blatantly clear. I’m most excited with this storyline, as I loved the War/Realm of Kings stories.

What comes as a shocker is Khoi Pham. I absolutely love his art. Yet for his work in the first story, I’m floored to how rushed it feels. Faces seem quickly thrown together, and for the most part – emotionless. A particular panel with Frenzy yelling at Xavier makes her look sleepy rather than angry. It became rather hard not to laugh with the serious emphasis on her words and watching her face non-reacting. Kurth has always been hit and miss for me. For the most part, he draws great faces and proportions right (at least in this story). His work on Rachel was fantastic and riddled with me empathizing for the character. Rogue on the other hand, comes off rather mannish in more than one panel while some characters, like Dr. Nemesis, seem unusually stiff. Comparing the two art forms, I preferred Kurth’s paired with Reber’s colours over Pham’s and Gracia’s.

What I’m worried about is how the two plots will be balanced. If Bendis’ work on New Avengers and Fractions run on Uncanny X-Men tell me anything, writers are having a tough time running two-or-more stories in one arc. Even Carey in the Age of X became lost with the Rogue/Gambit, Magneto/Force Warriors, Legion/Moira, and Wolverine/Cyclops/Cannonball plots all trying to intertwine.

But with X-Men Legacy #250, it feels very promising. Let’s hope it gets executed well.

Grade: 6/10

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, pick up Uncanny X-Force #10 and #11. It’s currently starring in the Age of Apocalypse, folks!

As for my computer, it’s finally completed. I called it “The Hulk” because it’s a monster and a powerhouse. Oh, and it’s green.

Computer 1

Computer 2

Computer 3

Computer 4

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Reviews: New Mutants #24

Hey folks. My power has been out for a few days due to a storm, so I haven’t been able to respond to any replies or update the site at all since Thursday.

Just hang in there!

New Mutants

New Mutants #24
Mike Carey (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Brian Reber (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Mico Suayan & Marte Gracia (cover). $2.99

The triumphant conclusion to the Age of X concludes in New Mutants #24, leaving with both desirable and undesirable results.

Spanning multiple issues, the Age of X began as a huge mystery for readers. The question, “What is the Age of X?” sprawled over comics for months prepping this event. As the story unfolded, readers began gathering pieces of what kind of world our favourite mutants were living in. Rogue looked like the main character to the story with Magneto as a potential villain and savior. Mutants were in disarray fighting a human army who were relentless on letting mutants stay alive. In the last two chapters, things started falling apart and we see Legion and Xavier as main characters, with Moira MacTaggert as an extension of Legion’s mind and being the true villain.

With a shift in characters from Rouge to Legion, instantaneously it throws readers for a loop. Not only was it a shocker to find that the Age of X is all Legion’s doing, but it is a shocker to see how characters completely disappeared with their importance in the story. By this last issue, Legion fights himself with Xavier by his side, while the inevitable Wolverine-getting-his-powers-back-moment finally arrived. A final brawl between humans and mutants leaves the conclusion to the story even more confusing. However, the ending does have some positive notes to it.

Firstly, most of the mutants still retain their memories from the Age of X. With Cyclops and Frenzy’s relationship in the AoX “universe,” they share a kiss in front of Emma Frost back on Utopia. I definitely sense some exciting problems in the future.

Secondly, some de-powered mutants are back! Most importantly a favourite of mine, Chamber!

But alas, this only comes with confusing pitfalls. If Chamber was de-powered in real life, but was in the AoX with powers, when he returned he got his powers back in the real universe. That makes sense to me. However, since Cannonball died in the Age of X (as he did in this issue), is he alive now? It’s inconsistencies like this which throw me for a loop. Also, why was Chamber in the AoX if he was not on Utopia to begin with? What about the Age of X Universe? If it all was in Legion’s head, how do other players fit into this? Obvious continuity issues plague the Age of X leaving me to wonder if the story was as well thought out as it seemed.

On a more positive note, Steve Kurth it a pretty good job on the artwork in the battles. Great detail and spreads made the action very intense, leaving much to the imagination on the chaos the battle raged. Kurth had some issues with individuals doing some awkward faces or postures. On the second page, the running mutant army is making all sorts of odd stances, while on the Cyclops/Frenzy revelation page, Frenzy is making the weirdest contortions, and Emma Frost has quite the mannish face. Little things like these make the battles look awesome, but the serious moments seem silly.

The Age of X definitely has shaken up the X-Men’s universe. I just wish it was done a lot better.

Grade: 5/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews: Result!

This was an incredible week for comics – even for Uncanny X-Men, which I’ve picked on a lot recently.

Given my massive pull-list, I’ve decided on doing mini-reviews for a few of the comics released this week. Enjoy!

FF #1
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Steve Epting (pencils, inks, cover), Paul Mounts (colours), Rus Wooton (letters). $3.99

FF

After the death of the Human Torch, the family still goes through their mourning periods – most noticeably with The Thing who blaming himself for Johnny’s death. Reed plays a video of Johnny’s suggesting that in the case of his death, Spider-Man would be the best choice for his replacement. Of course, Spider-Man can’t say no to such an offer.

What intrigues me most about the story is how down-to-earth it has become. The family sits and has dinner together, while Reed’s father adds much-needed flavour to the established characters. Tossing in AIM and the Wizard as villains, I can already see the Future Foundation becoming an excellent series.

Of course, Epting crafts emotions brilliantly throughout the story – making the dinner scene one of my favourite panels this week.

However, I cannot go without saying how rushed I feel with the book. Maybe I’m out of the loop, but it was as if the Future Foundation was already planned-out and assembled between Fantastic Four #588 and now. If this was Marvels “.1” issue, I’d still be lost. My only other little tidbit is the action with AIM seemed a bit out of the blue. Either way you look at it, this is a very promising start for Marvel’s first family.

P.S. You cannot honestly tell me that Sue Storm does not look like Creepy Chan on the cover.

Grade: 7.5/10

Osborn #3 of 5
Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer), Emma Rios (pencils, inks), Jose Villarrubia (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Ben Oliver (cover). $3.99

Osborn

Nothing is more sinister than a great villain book. Kelly Sue rocks the Marvel U with another incredible tale of Norman Osborn incarcerated – but for how much longer?

Mixed between insanity and clarity, Osborn continues his push to escape from prison, now with reporter Norah Winters as a potential ally. Wanting a story on Osborn, Winters listens to Osborn’s arguably mad rantings while rebutting him with some of her own. As calm as ever, Osborn seems to somehow have a grand scheme already planned out, and uses his keen manipulation skills to find his way to an escape pod with his new companions and Winters. But of course, he cannot do so without killing hundreds. This is Norman Osborn, after all.

What I cannot seem to get over is Emma Rios. If Marvel does not give her a contract, I’ll be ridiculously angry. Gorgeous, simply vibrant panels mix moods of chaos and wit together with genuine emotions of strength and cunningness. A truly fantastic visual experience. She nails Osborn right on the head as an insane mess. I seriously cannot get enough of her panels. Jose Villarrubia too, does a great job with the environment only having so-few colours. For an underwater jail, I feel as if I’m looking at a rainbow. What a creative team.

For the love of all that is amazing in the world, read Osborn already!

Grade: 9/10

Uncanny X-Men #534
Matt Fraction & Kieron Gillen (writers), Greg Land & Paul Renaud (pencils), Jay Leisten & Paul Renaud (inks), Justin Ponsor (colours), Joe Caramagna (letters), Greg Land & Justin Ponsor (cover). $3.99

Uncanny X-Men

As I said before, Uncanny has picked itself out of a rut with this issue. But maybe I only feel this way because the storyline is finally over. . . Regardless, Emma and Kitty’s story finally concludes with Shaw, while the X-Men put an end to Lobe, and Fantomex is – well, who knows.

The X-Men on Utopia decide to break quarantine to help Storm and gang battle rich science-made mutants. To their advantage with mutants now fighting mutants, everyone gets sick from the X-Men and thanks to Lobe, dying as he tries to destroy what’s left of the X-Men. Fail. Being sick himself, he can has to give the cure to everyone, thus ending the plague – because the sickness was controlled by a remote. Makes sense. On top of it all, the X-Men realize they may file a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Lobe for using the X-Men’s faces on his products. Yeesh!

Unfortunately, I still saw Land doing some things he’s done in the past. I even showed some friends, comparing this recent book to pictures in my blog about Land at an earlier time. HOWEVER, I will say that his work between Shaw & Emma is an incredible change of pace in terms of his art style. The final pages with Shaw were excellent. As for Ponsor, all I will say is yellow backgrounds ftw. That, and the Emma/Kitty scenes were greatly polished with colour. For Uncanny, this has definitely been a step-up.

To top it off, Avengers Academy #1 is reprinted in the issue. Two major books for $3.99? Count me in!

Grade: 6/10

New Mutants #23
Mike Carey (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Brian Reber (colours), Joe Caramagna (letters), Leinil Yu & Marte Gracia (cover). $2.99

New Mutants

The Age of X continues with another unexpected twist in story. Who knew that Magneto didn’t know that Xavier knew this wasn’t the world they know of? If you had to re-read that sentence because it was mind-boggling, now you know how I felt with New Mutants! So many twists and turns leave me begging for more!

As expected, Rouge, er, Legacy and Gambit were not killed in the last issue, but actually saved by Magneto, despite it seeming to be the other way around. However, to the rest of the mutants, it still looks Magneto’s a murderer. Distrust fills Fortress X and mutants begin to question Magneto’s leadership. Unfortunately for Magneto, after rescuing Xavier from his own prison, he is knocked out of his leadership role, changing the way mutants in the Age of X will live. Meanwhile, Legacy and Gambit uncover the secret to what really is going on.

As mentioned, this story has more twists and turns than a kid putting together a Hot Wheels racetrack. Strong writing and intense scenes put this story ahead of its parent-title by a long shot.

Kurth’s work is good, but nothing out of the ordinary. For example, I loved his panel with Legacy and Gambit with just their lips. It was an unusual panel, but very well rendered. But when I look at Magneto I can’t stop thinking “baby face.” Overall, for a lack of action-book, it feels action-packed. It was on my second read-through did I realize no “fighting” actually took place. I’m also left wondering where Wolverine and “Cyclops” are.

With Age of X nearing its conclusion, it reassures me that Mike Carey needs to be given more major crossover stories.

Grade: 7/10

X-Men #8
Victor Gischler (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours), Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), Joe Caramagna (letters), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover). $3.99

X-Men

Thanks to Gischler & Bachalo, another great issue of X-Men is in my hands. Unlike Spider-Man’s take on this tale in the “Shed” storyline, the villain is a surprise all-together – and one I did not see coming.

Opening up from where we left off – Wolverine is taking out lizard-folk, Bachalo-style. From there, a good portion of the story focuses on the children captured by the new villain. I really start to feel for these characters – which is amazing given their short page-time in the book. The fact that I begin to empathize with minor characters the way Gischler makes me, shows that the creative team in this book really are ahead of the game. And despite the unexpected villain, the book ends on a ridiculous cliffhanger leaving Emma in a whole lot of trouble.

I cannot stress (still) how great Bachalo is with this book. I wish he could draw Wolverine all of the time. Heck, let him colour too. He’s doing an incredible job. Of course, we also get four inkers again this month leaving me to wonder who did what. I wish I could get a feel for inkers the way I can with colourists. It’s frustrating!

X-Men went from a decent first story arc to something incredible in no-time! Not to mention that the Dodson’s rocked the cover.

Grade: 8/10

X-Force #6
Rick Remender (writer), Esad Ribic (pencils, cover), John Lucas (inks), Matt Wilson (colours), Cory Petit (letters). $3.99

X-Force

I think it’s great when I can say, “this is the worst Uncanny X-Force book to date,” yet the story is still impressive.

Deathlok’s appearance at the end of last issue actually meant he was on Fantomex’s side. Admittedly, I didn’t see that one coming. The rest of X-Force eventually meet up with Fantomex and Deathlok to discover why random cyborgs are trying to kill them. Turns out they’re from the future and superheroes are not allowed to exist! But luckily Fantomex comes up with a great plan to defeat them – to destroy the future in the next issue! Despite all of that, the issue seemed like a miss for me.

Surprisingly, the most exciting part of this book for me was when Psylocke had tea with her brother, Captain Britain. She spoke her feelings about how X-Force conducted themselves with Apocalypse. She feels like she’s a changing person and she needed to know that someone understood her. Remender delves into Psylocke’s character with great emotional detail. I can tell he has great plans for her. Not to mention the twist with Captain Britain too. What a doozy!

I really cannot complain about Ribic’s work. He’s a very strong artist and takes what Opena did in the last arc and sharpens it up a bit – leaving us with a less gritty attitude. However, I have realized what feels the most different in the artwork – the colouring. Although Matt Wilson does great work, in comparison Dean White in the last arc, I feel as if the colours on the characters are too bright and plain in comparison to the pencils. I only say that with the characters because Wilson does an excellent job on everything else – particularly on landscapes.

It’s another strong issue for X-Force, but admittedly it’s their weakest too. And in accordance to the story, the cover of the book seems to be ahead of itself by about a month.

Grade: 6.5/10

As a side, see if you can spot the two Star Wars references in Wolverine & Jubilee #3 this week too. An obvious one was mentioning the “Death Star.” You get bonus points for finding the other.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews: Part 1 – X-Men, X-Men, and X-Men

Interestingly enough, I fell ill again. Luckily, I am much better than I was yesterday – well enough to get reviews up this week, too!

But get this: There were so many comics this week, I have to split them up into two different posts! So this post will involve just some X-Men comics that came out. I’ll also be avoiding New Mutants #22 due to the fact that I already am doing another X-review in the next post.

So for now, here is X-Men Legacy, Uncanny X-Men, and just plain ‘ol X-Men.

The next post shall feature X-Men: To Serve and Protect, The Avengers, and the final issue to Fantastic Four, #588.

X-Men Legacy

X-Men Legacy #245
Mike Carey (writer), Clay Mann (pencils), Jay Leisten (inker), Brian Reber (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Leinil Yu & Marte Gracia (cover). $2.99

And so chapter one of the Age of X begins, and boy, do we get some action here. In fact, three quarters of the book is really introducing characters and placing them in context of the story. We see Rogue, or “Legacy” or “Reaper” – depends on who is speaking to her – as an executioner to injured mutants. Cannonball orders Cyclops around. Legion helps forge the shield around the base. Danger runs the jail. . . Well, I guess not everyone is doing something different than their Earth-616 counterpart.

But what where the story really shines is post-battle. Wolverine – powerless – runs the bar. We see Psylocke, Iceman, Colossus, Gambit, and many others chatting about the battle and giving some back story involving how they got to where they are. Some involving the Phoenix destroying Albany, and others involving the Mutant Liberation Front.

Rogue, or Legacy, or Reaper, eventually finds a downed soldier who fought the mutants and turns out to be a mutant herself named “Katherine Pryde.” She is held in the jail by Danger, amongst many other psychic mutants. One being a unconscious Charles Xavier.

Although skeptical with the first issue, slowing seeing things unfold really adds intrigue to the pacing of the story. Not to mention seeing mutants use their powers for other means rather than what we’ve been used too really adds a neat spin on things. The second chapter in New Mutants #22 definitely throws a lot more into the story and changes focus for Rogue to be the main character – as she has been with Carey being the main writer.

Clay Mann’s artwork certainly shone in this issue as a particular scene involving Legion’s “Force Warriors” really wowed me. He perfectly gave them an appearance of hierarchy, but down-to-earth people.

A good first chapter with a bit too much fighting and little story to want readers to hang on. However, once you pick up chapter two in New Mutants #22, you’ll not want to stop reading.

Grade: 6/10

Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-men #533
Matt Fraction & Kieron Gillen (writers), Greg Land (pencils), Jay Leisten (inker), Justin Ponsor (colours), Joe Caramagna (letters), Greg Land & Justin Ponsor (cover). $3.99

Two major stories continue in the fourth installment of Quarantine. Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde fight Sebastian Shaw, while the X-Men off of Utopia, managed by Angel, try to snuff out the Sublime corporation who is now trying to sell off the X-Gene like a drug to rich people. – Yes, suddenly is “cool” to be a mutant – especially if you’re rich, for some reason.

Meanwhile, Sebastian beats up Emma Frost, making her run away (for a good reason, I’m sure), leaving Fantomex and Kitty Pryde to remain with Shaw.

Regardless, Angel’s X-Men crash the party which leads Sublime to hand out doses of Wolverine and Deadpool to everyone in the audience – leaving the X-Men greatly outnumbered. Cyclops, now aware of Sublime’s intentions, decides it’s time for the X-Men to break quarantine and fight back.

Although finally finding its place for pacing, the story is still a bit jumbled up. For example, the Shaw story could easily have been concluded already and is being stretched out for god-knows-what-reason. Secondly, I cannot figure out why people would want to be mutants. I think Fraction tried to justify it with Sublime’s “X-Men” looking cool saving people – but so what? The story seems forced by this means.

And I’m done talking about Greg Land. I’ve seen all of these faces in the book before. There’s nothing new here with his static characters. One particular panel had me literally laughing out loud. If you accused him of tracing Emma Frost before, then in this panel, he did it with a rabbit.

If it wasn’t for the art, this book would have scored at least a five.

Grade: 3/10

X-Men

X-Men #8
Victor Gischler (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours), Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inkers), Joe Caramagna (letters), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover). $3.99

Spinning from Spider-Man’s earlier issues for the storyline “Shed,” the X-Men team up with the wallcrawler to figure out why people have gone missing into New York’s sewers. By now, they’ve discovered it involves lizards, but of what design? Spider-Man suggests Kurt Connors’ but no one really has any answers. When a few children go missing, the team figures it has something to do with being loners and losers at school. Discovering their social networking sites, they find the children have one thing in common: they’ve been talking to someone and told to meet up at a certain location. Luckily with Wolverine already out in the field, he goes in to watch one kid get kidnapped by a lizard. Unfortunately he gets beat up and the kid is taken away – for research.

If there is one thing that drives this story, it’s Chris Bachalo. He, hands-down, draws the best Wolverine. The final few pages with Wolverine fighting the lizards is probably some of the best action I’ve seen him in all-year (minus Uncanny X-Force). His exaggeration with Spider-Man’s eyes also draw great attention and sets moods. Bachalo is flawless with his storytelling through art and is great at showing expressions.

Although not much progress is given through this issue from Gischler, the new X-Men series has a lot of promise as it picks up tons of steam – especially with Bachalo at the artistic helm.

Grade: 7/10

Wednesday’s Reviews: So Many Marvel Titles!

This week was absolutely crazy for comics. There’s so many to chose from that I decided on picking the most-anticipated issues this week – aside from the Fantastic Four #587. Sorry folks! I’m doing something different here. So let’s get started!

Age of X: Alpha

Age of X: Alpha #1 (one-shot)
Mike Carey (writer), Mirco Pierfederici, Gabriel Hernadez Walta, Carlo Barberi, Paco Diaz, Paul Davidson (pencilers), Walden Wong, Diaz and Davidson (inkers), Antonio Fabela, Matt Milla, Brian Reber (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend (cover). $3.99

Age of X: Alpha has been teased to readers for quite some time. Now that the issue is released, I’m left asking myself, “What?” Age of X jumps right into whatever world they are in and begins with stories being told by X-Men at a camp. There, we get stories of Basilisk (Cyclops), the Guthrie’s, as well as Wolverine and Magneto. All eventually tie in together to create the basis for the world of Age of X. Although a lot of the story is introductions, it serves well to establish what sort of world our mutants are living in. Basilisk’s story was easily my favourite, based on Arcade taking Cyclops and having him execute other mutants against his will. Some disturbing details about the story I’ll leave to you.

Given there were five individual stories running through the book, various artists were welcomed. Pierfederici made great drama with the groundwork of the multiple story lines, while Paco Diaz hit another home run with a great visuals with Wolverine. Barberi, on the other hand, does not know how to draw women as Husks’ breasts are grossly disproportioned, while Davidson’s art still runs flat with bland faces. What was especially welcomed was mutants who I haven’t seen since M-Day – most notably a personal favourite of mine: Chamber. Thank you, Mr. Carey!

A great cross-over premise with interesting stories and zero ideas on what is going on, will leave reader’s both frustrated, yet demanding more.

Grade: 6/10

Chaos War

Chaos War #5 of 5
Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente (writers), Khoi Pham (penciler), Thomas Palmer and Bob McLeod (inkers), Sunny Gho (colours), Simon Bowland (letters), Brandon Peterson (cover). $3.99

The Chaos War comes to an end as all of Marvel’s remaining heroes crash down upon the Chaos King! Hercules gives it his all as he battles down upon the Chaos King himself. On Earth, Amadeus Cho is busy trying to evacuate everyone and defeat the King. After Herc goes through a bloody beating, a swift hit knocks the King onto the ground, leaving all of Earth’s forces to beat upon him. Still to no avail! Fortunately, Amadeus figures out a way to stop the Chaos King from spreading without killing him at all. Needless to say, it works, and surprisingly leaves Alpha Flight alive by the end. Seriously? Not the Dead X-Men or Avengers? Just Alpha Flight? Oh, and Hercules is no longer a god it seems.

. . . What? Read the book.

Pak and Van Lente have been favourites of mine for quite some time. Their writing skills are uncanny, and to put them together was a great idea. However, by this issue the Chaos War dwindled on me. It became exhausting just to see everyone lose knowing that it will just come down to Herc vs. the King. That battle, however. Wow. Khoi Pham is a brilliant artist and should be commended for some of the best layouts I’ve seen. Great two-page spreads of Herc and the King really stood out as brilliant works. A few particular pages with Palmer during the bloody mess Herc gets himself into leaves a jaw-dropping good time.

Although it began with a great premise, the Chaos War did nothing else to Marvel continuity but bring back second-rate heroes and show that Hercules had another story to tell.

Grade: 5/10

The Avengers

The Avengers #9
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), John Romita Jr. (penciler), Klaus Janson, Tom Palmer and Scott Hanna (inkers), Laura Martin, Morry Hollowell, and Matt Milla (colours), Cory Petit (letters), John Romita Jr. (cover). $3.99

Last issue featured the Illuminati’s return to the Marvel-verse. We hadn’t seen them since Secret Invasion, so their welcome was very exciting. By this issue though, we can safely say, it will be their last appearance. After Steve Rogers discovers with the New and Secret Avengers teams that the Illuminati exists, he wants answers. And so begins the arguing. A second story brings us to Parker Robbins in jail, showing us how he escaped, as well as how he knew where the Infinity Gems were. In a nutshell, we have very interesting conversation going on throughout the whole book – and it’s welcome.

What isn’t welcomed is what should have been solved with a bi-monthly series called Avengers: Prime. As I reviewed before, Prime was supposed to solve all the problems between Rogers and Stark. Although the Illuminati is yes, a special case, it read as if these two never had a conversation together since Roger’s return. It was more mind-boggling than anything.

As for the book on its own, The Avengers was really well-paced and a decent read. I was really more focused on how Parker Robbins escaped prison than the Iron Man/Steve Rogers story however. Another issue I had was something I feel Bendis is doing too-often now. Remember in Avengers #1 where everyone was talked to in two pages? It happened again! It feels like a cop-out. But I digress.

Romita kicked butt this issue! Various spreads of full Avengers line-up in a blizzard really shone. Pure and simple. Mixing in his ink and colour team, this is easily the best-drawn Avengers book yet.

Dialogue is the action in the book – which is fine by me when Romita pumps out a gem like this!

Grade: 6/10

Uncanny X-Force

Uncanny X-Force #4
Rick Remender (writer), Jerome Opena (penciler), Dean White (ink and colours), Cory Petit (letters), Esad Ribic (cover). $3.99

I really, really, really cannot stress how excellent of a story Uncanny X-Force has been. The conclusion to “The Apocalypse Solution” ends with a bang as our X-Force members fight to kill Apocalypse – who unfortunately is reincarnated into a little boy who does not know any better. After a huge beat-down by Apocalypse’s Horsemen in last issue, X-Force rallies what strength they have left to end Apocalypse once-and-for-all!

Remender knows his characterization. Everyone in the story has real emotions – real limits to what they can do. To top it all off, it still has humour amidst all the violence. An early scene with Deadpool and Archangel really had me laughing, but by the end of the book, I could help but empathize for each individual character. Thanks to Opena and White, I could see how they all felt, too. This book looks brilliant. Raw emotions, mixed with action, and a mood that isn’t quite dark, but definitely isn’t light, throttles this story to become something beyond a stereotypical comic.

This is what story-telling is all about. If you haven’t yet, start reading Uncanny X-Force now!

Grade: 10/10

New Avengers

New Avengers #8
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Daniel Acuna (penciler, inker and colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo (cover). $3.99

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones finally get to go out on a date! Yes, since Civil War back in 2006, the married couple really haven’t had a chance to take some time off, with Squirrel Girl as their nanny. So as they go out for dinner, we witness their humorous conversation involving Luke wanting Jess’ name to be “Power Woman,” while a poor waitress watches on just to take their order. The conversation is so big, that a full-page spread is half-covered in word bubbles – all of it funny. Unfortunately, the date is cut short as Ms. Marvel fights a Doom-Bot in front of the restaurant (coincidence, eh?). After its defeat, the heroes go back to Avengers Mansion to discuss what just happened. That’s it in a nutshell, folks!

And you know what, I don’t mind it either. From both Avengers and New Avengers, Bendis gave the heroes some time off to not really battle. Arguably, this is the second New Avengers title in a row where there was very little action. There’s absolutely no problem with that when the dialogue is as quick-witted as Luke and Jessica’s was. Daniel Acuna’s art also made it very much exciting, where beautiful water colours amongst a dark skyline really brought the “action-less” characters to life.

Although not much happens here, it is nice to see heroes breath a little bit while setting up a new story arc.

Grade: 7/10

As a side note, the cover of the week totally goes to both Esad Ribic from Uncanny X-Force and Dave Wilkins on New Mutants #21 for his excellent work of Legion.

New Mutants

Although there were tons more to review, that’s all the time I have for now folks! Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews: Wolverine, Jubilee and Legacy

A new week with new reviews. There were only a couple of comics out this week, so there isn’t much to review. However, next week, I’ll have my hands tied. With over 15 comics on my pull-list coming out, including the death of a Fantastic Four member, I can guarantee next week will be the most exciting for reviews thus far.

For this week, we got the premiere issue of Wolverine and Jubilee, followed by the on-going X-Men Legacy – the issue before the Age of X.

Wolverine and Jubilee

Wolverine and Jubilee #1
Kathy Immonen (writer), Phil Noto (penciler, inker, colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Olivier Coipel and Morry Hollowell (cover). $2.99

Falling out of the third series of X-Men comics, Jubilee is now a vampire. With vampirism comes fighting with the thirst, plus multiple anger issues she has to deal with. Due to the lack of a cure, the science team found a temporary fix by inducing her with Wolverine’s blood, thus giving her a small healing factor and blood fix. The book deals with Jubilee integrating herself back into Utopia while other mutants try to help her out. After snapping on a few, she heads downtown and is met by a mysterious woman. By the end of the book, Wolverine and Rockslide find Jubilee in a storage crate littered with bodies.

From front to back, the only thing I could feel was sorry for Jubilee. She lost her parents, then her powers after M-Day, and now has lost her humanity. Quite literally, this is a story of tragedy. Kathy Immonen definitely portrays all the emotions Jubilee feels as she mingles with different mutants on Utopia. Then of course, with Wolverine being Jubilee’s father figure, we’re left to see him try and find ways to make Jubilee feel better, while also trying to defend her against prejudice. Little humour from Wolverine too, such as calling Santo “Sanchez” purposely is subtle enough to be placed in such a serious story and is very welcoming.

Last week I credited Phil Noto for his excellent cover on Widow Maker #3. Now he has the entire book to himself – doing everything, from inks to colours. His dynamics in this book really excel as sceneries change greatly from underground cells, to a sunset on Utopia, to a night club in downtown San Fan. Quite literally Noto does it all – while still making Jubilee look like an Asian-American. Too often is that forgotten when drawing her. Meanwhile, the cover by Coipel and Hollowell absolutely stuns me. The cover was also talked about in great detail at 1979 Semi-Finalist if you want to see the cover discussed in a bit more detail.

Overall, the story is strongly well-paced and it seems to me like Wolverine really has his hands full already. I really hope the best for Jubilee.

Grade: 8/10

X-Men Legacy

X-Men Legacy #244
Mike Carey (writer), Harvey Tolibao (penciler), Sandu Florea (inker), Brian Reber (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Joy Ang (cover). $2.99

On Utopia, Blindfold is having bizarre premonitions again. The last time she had ones this bad was before the Second Coming event and led to the ghost of Proteus attacking the X-Men on Muir Island. Fortunately for Blindfold, this time she’s on Utopia with friends. However, Blindfold is not the one narrating the story, and it seems to be someone watching all of the X-Men’s events.

Rogue as the now-undeclared-psychologist on Utopia, talks to Ruth to figure out what it all means. Unsure, Rogue goes to Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Madison Jeffries for help. While Rogue asks questions, Blindfold looks for answers. Eventually, she wanders off and is attacked by a creature left from Emplate’s dimension (back in X-Men Legacy #228). Rogue fights it off and saves Blindfold. However, the narrator of the story seems to fly over Utopia in some massive ship, glared out by the sun. So begins the Age of X.

I’ve always enjoyed Carey’s work. He’s been doing X-Men Legacy for quite some time now – which is before Messiah CompleX (late-2006), so he’s really sure on a ton of characters. Rogue has been the main focus for him for the past twenty-or-so issues, and he’s still doing an excellent job with her. She’s still refreshing to read about and speaks with everyone on Utopia. But given how the last-issue ended, I’m surprised this was not more about Hellion. With Blindfold’s unanswered questions, I’m left confused on what Age of X really is, thus leaving me with confusion. I am unsure of that’s a good thing.

Paul Davidson has been replaced with Harvey Tolibao for pencils and the quality level is noticeably different. Although Davidson is not a bad artist, Tolibao’s details and many full-body shots definitely ups the action in the story. However, Rogue’s breasts are again the focal point for many panels. I do not know why she would even wear a jacket like she does. To top it all off, is Rogue wearing grease on her breasts? I mean, there’s literally shiny reflections off of those things. It’s absolutely bizarre.

Bright colours by Reber are definitely welcomed. I do not even recall when I’ve seen so many bright colours on a page. Rogues green is really green. The demon in Gambit is really menacingly grey. Emma Frosts lips are. . . black? Okay, so there’s a few things which seem off, but mostly, the colors are jaw-dropping. Page 5 and 6 are really great from an inker’s perspective with everything properly balanced.

It wouldn’t have been a bad kick-off for the Age of X if I knew what was going on. Oh, and breasts don’t glitter.

Grade: 5/10

Next week! Keep on Space Truckin’! No wait.

Seriously. What the hell is going on here? Where did she get that grease from?

Rogue One

Rogue Two

Oh, and pardon my camera.