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: Uncanny X-Force, Generation Hope, Wolverine, Jubilee and “I Told Ya So!”

Now that I’m feeling 90% better, I can refocus on reviews again.

But first, I want to say how excited I am for an upcoming Marvel maxi-event. As I suggested in an earlier post, Alpha Flight would be back. Turns out I was right! What’s even better is that the Chaos War duo, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, are at the helm of this eight-issue series. Given the two are some of Marvel’s best writers, I am beyond excited to see how this series turns out. I clearly have foresight. Watch out during election time.

But on to the reviews!

Uncanny X-Force

Uncanny X-Force #5
Rick Remender (writer), Esad Ribic (pencils, cover), John Lucas (inker), Matt Wilson (colours), Cory Petit (letters). $3.99

Just when the triumphant ending of the last-issue could not make Uncanny X-Force any better of a comic, Remender continues his brilliant run with a brand-new arc featuring Fantomex. (And arguably, given the last issue, anyone could’ve seen this coming – and it’s awesome). In a nutshell, the X-Force team are trying to gather themselves post last issues events. The team gathers without Fantomex in Warren’s bunker to find out that Deadpool has called a meeting to discover Deadpool actually has feelings – and remorseful ones at that! Already Deadpool has been seen as an entirely different character in X-Force with hardly any humour coming from him at all. It’s also great when Wolverine recognizes that he’s being “pulled in all directions” when he complains he doesn’t have much time for meetings.

Meanwhile, early in the story, we learn Fantomex is growing a world. However, due to last issue’s events, he visits his “mother” in the French Alps when he is suddenly attacked by a cyborg Cyclops, Captain America, Elektra, and a few others! Barely escaping with EVA, they crash land only to be found by a particular cyborg who invokes “death.”

As previously stated, Remender’s run with Uncanny X-Force has been great so far. Necessary characterization push the stories boundaries to places where other writers seem to miss. However, I really want to speak about the art in this book – which really has carried the stories. Changing artists, Esad Ribic takes the helm of X-Force and really slams this comic home. One thing I usually dislike about changing artists is how the styles change so drastically between books. Ribic’s artwork, while on its own level, still echoes that of Jerome Opena’s, making the book have a great art transition. Then, of course, John Lucas and Matt Wilson take over with inks and colours which add incredible depths to the many different locations they have to work with. From winter, to underground, to a burning building with a cyborg-Thing being lit by fire – the duo accent Ribic’s art flawlessly, taking the grey-white tones from the previous arc on to a different level.

Why are you still reading this? Read or re-read Uncanny X-Force!

Grade: 8/10

Generation Hope

Generation Hope #4
Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin & Scott Koblish (pencils, inks), Frank Martin (colours), Dave Sharpe (letters), Olivier Coipel & Chris Sotomayor (cover). $2.99

One may ask why I continuously review this book after the hell I’ve put it through. Well, it’s because of issues like this – where it defies everything I’ve said in the past and pushes forward with an excellent story. That’s right: Generation Hope #4 has an excellent story and brilliant artwork. And you know what? It could’ve have happened without the past three-issues.

Generation Hope #4 really excels at storytelling as there is very little action to drown in. The Five Lights make it to Utopia unscathed, but all are shocked about the events which transpired in Tokyo. Remorse and excitement fills the new mutants as they try to figure out their own paths. After landing, Wolverine and Theo get the scuffle they wished to have in prior issues, while the rest settle in. Kenji – the villain in the first three issues – is brought before Scott and Emma to decide his fate. After revealing his sorrow and Emma finding out that the Tokyo incident was truly and accident, they accept Kenji into the island. Meanwhile, Dr. Nemesis puts the other Four Lights in tests to figure out their powers and limitations. Teon becomes like a protective dog to Hope, Hope kisses Gabriel, and Kenji becomes unsure with the future.

Definitely taking a change of pace, the storyline revolves around how the Five Lights interact with one another. No longer are they showing off their powers as so much they are trying to find themselves. In doing so, we get to see how they are as people, rather than weapons. I’d also have to give credit to both artists and colourists for making this the prettiest book I’ve seen from Generation Hope. Mixing Western art with anime in particular panels literally put a smile on my face – particularly one with Gabriel and Dr. Nemesis.

I’m already set for the next issue as this one – despite the lack of action – has me pumped for more.

Grade: 7/10

Wolverine and Jubilee

Wolverine and Jubilee #2
Kathryn Immonen (writer), Phil Noto (pencils, inks, colours), Nathan Fairbairn & John Raunch (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Nimit Malavia (cover). $2.99

The Curse of the Mutants Aftermath continues as Jubilee was last seen in a shipping container with tons of dead bodies. Fortunately with Wolverine being at her side, he took her to Siberia – where the shipping container originated from. (Yes, the book just starts there.) Turns out, Wolverine recognized the shipping serial code and wants to believe Jubilee is innocent for the killings. He just can’t trust her yet. Due to Siberia’s constant overcast, Jubilee can go outside unharmed. Convenient!

Wolverine decides to take Jubilee out to fight her – for some “tough love,” and the two later settle in for the night at their hotel. The two are approached by the hotel’s owner and are told about how people and animals in the town are disappearing and the undead are walking. The two go to check out the area and Jubilee ends up fighting off a horde of zombie-esque creatures. Back at the hotel, Wolverine is then awoken to Jubilee kneeling at the door with the mysterious woman from the first issue grabbing on to her.

I want to love this issue, but I can’t due to the lack of intrigue. While I enjoy the Wolverine/Jubilee dynamics, I don’t really have a grasp to what is happening in Siberia until the last few pages. To top it off, the final page cliffhanger really was not so much of a shock as I don’t know who this woman is, nor do I necessarily care. I know she’s responsible for the massacre in the container, but I’m just not attached to the threat as of yet.

What saves the book is Noto’s great pencils. Seeing Jubilee in her X-uniform was very nostalgic for me and Noto’s great use of her costume when battling Wolverine certainly shone. I also have to comment on his work on faces as the large diversity in expressions gave a lot of character to the two as they are really the only ones in the book. The doom-and-gloom of Siberia’s landscape with colours and inks definitely held strong throughout the story. Days felt like nights with the longing forecast disallowing any positive moods to come from the town.

With a promising first issue and decent second one, Wolverine and Jubilee still have a lot of story to tell in two more issues.

Grade: 6/10

As for favourite covers, this week’s favourite totally goes to Carlo Pagulayan for Silver Surfer #1.

Silver Surfer

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews

I really hope everyone had a great holiday and New Years!

As for what’s new here, there will be a bit of a format change for how reviews will be done – meaning, how I review them will shorten up. By doing so, I’ll focus on key points on the book, but also do more reviews in a posting. It’s win-win, in my eyes.

Childrens Crusade

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 of 9
Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mike Morales & Jim Cheung (inker), Justin Ponsor (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor (cover). $3.99

The continuing saga of the Children’s Crusade moves forward as the hunt for the Scarlet Witch – somewhat – comes to a conclusion. Wiccan finds Wanda to discover that she does not remember anything about her past or who she was. Oh, and that she’s going to marry Dr. Doom the next day. With the both the Avengers and Young Avengers storming Latveria, an all-scale assault begins to bring Wanda Home.

Allan Heinberg is constantly kicking all other mini-stories butt with this title. Rich developments still come from each character, despite the massive cast in this story, brings this title to stand above all other Avenger’s titles. Tossing in Jim Cheung, Mark Marales, and Justin Ponsor as artist, inker, and colourist, multiple page spreads of action and wonder of Latveria generates a jaw-dropping gaze on each page. I’m still saddened that this is just a limited series, and is only out bi-monthly. Easily the best pick of the week.

Grade: 9/10

Avengers Prime

Avengers Prime #5 of 5
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alan Davis (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker) Javier Rodriguez (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters & production), Davis, Farmer & Rodriguez (cover). $3.99

The conclusion to the post-Siege Avengers mini comes to an end! The big three, Steve Rogers, Iron Man and Thor are trapped in a different dimension due to Hela and her Twilight Sword. After the multiple issues of build-up, the final battle begins with the big three, the Enchantress, and their army, versus Hela’s demon army. Unfortunately, despite its bi-monthly release schedule, no exciting conclusions were found by the end of the book – leaving the reader to ask, “why did this take so long to finish?”

Despite a great start to the series, the story began to dwindle down with real means of characterization. The first issue dealt with how the big three felt about each other and Siege – but all seemed forgotten until the final pages of the last book – making the story seem tacked on by the end. Davis’ brilliant spreads however, picked the book up from a “forget about it” to a “not that bad,” status. With Rodriguez’s bright, majestic colours on each page, the book literally shone with each turn of the page. Unfortunately, the conclusion of this book made the story not worth the wait as the story is arguably forgettable.

Grade: 6/10

Generation Hope

Generation Hope #3
Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin & Scott Koblish (penciler), Jim Charalampidis (colours), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters), Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales & Chris Sotomayor (cover). $2.99

Hope and her new mutants (not to be confused with New Mutants – capitalization is important here, people!), are in Tokyo with Cyclops, Wolverine and Rogue, battling a massive beast-mutant which is hell-bent on destroying everything for his “art.” (Yup). After a few different attack approaches, Hope comes up with a new plan to finally take the monster down and uses it to prove her “messiah” title to Cyclops.

Generation Hope has yet to really jump out at me. I mean, when I finished the book, I flipped to the cover to made sure I only spent $2.99 for it, because I do not feel like this is really happening. The book is too fast-paced with so little dialogue that I do not feel involved with these characters at all. I know Gillen can do better than this, and I’m waiting for him to show it. As for the art, individual characters really shine through. Hope versus the beast, for example, has some really great spreads of the two against each other. But that is really where the focus is. The backgrounds disappear in particular panels, while one panel with Cyclops’ visor suggests that he has eyes on his forehead. Rogue also looks like an anime high-schooler, but hey – to each their own.

Grade: 4/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

For Now. . .

Hey folks!

I have to apologize for holding off on the Wednesday Reviews and Classic Comic Friday feature this week because I’ve been busy putting my writing skills to other uses.

I have vacation time coming up next week, where I am killing my router and working on, well, work. I love to write, and I have spent too much time not writing on what I want to accomplish. Given I never really take holidays from work, this is absolutely rare and valuable time for me. I will be taking the next week off from both my real job and this blog. I will be hopefully finishing a story I’ve been working on this past year. Of course, I will make it known to the world about my progress made on my week back, plus a new feature, and probably some other mumbo-jumbo I can come up with. I have been writing a lot this past week, getting ahead of myself for my upcoming vacation, so unfortunately, I’ve lacked entirely on this blog. Forgiveness, please!

DoomWar

But I can still touch upon a bit of what I read from this week – just not as full-blown and in-depth as my reviews in the past have been. From my pull-list, this week had conclusions to two major storylines – those both being Shadowland and Taskmaster. I also picked up Generation Hope #2, and randomly, Chaos War: God Squad (one-shot).

Aside from Taskmaster, the other three were quite lackluster. Most notably, Generation Hope. Taskmaster is probably one of the best mini’s I’ve read in years and it changes the Marvel U’s view on Taskmaster ENTIRELY. By the end, you’ll either be crying, or feeling sadness towards Taskmaster. Mr. Van Lente wrote an incredible story for this character, and I’m sad to see it end.

Generation Hope is dwindling down to nothing. I mean, Cyclops character is not consistent to how he’s been in the past few years. He seems very nervous, always. Hope, on the other hand, is trying to be the hero of the team, but her constant fumbles in the story really makes her weak – especially being the title character. Although Kieron Gillen is joining Uncanny shortly and hopefully giving it a breath of fresh air, I really hope Fraction keeps him in check.

Chaos War: God Squad was an interesting take on the heroes during Chaos War. If you haven’t read DoomWar recently, you probably should just to get a feel of who the Wakanda spirit is and understand how she plays out in the story. Although there was not much progress made in this one-shot, it still brought a bunch of characters together to tell an interesting story. It was a good divide from the constant panic within the parent story.

And with the conclusion of Shadowland, Marvel pretty much just hit the reset button on Daredevil. That’s okay, though! It was doine pretty tastefully, but in all honesty, it somewhat made Shadowland a bit unnecessary. I mean, it did not affect the rest of the Marvel U at all, aside from the Daredevil title. Arguably, it did sell-out every issue, going into multiple reprints, but as for other mini’s this year, such as Siege or Second Coming, Shadowland was very lackluster after the first issue. *Spoiler* Although I’m glad Bullseye did NOT come back. Thank god.

So until next week, I shall be back with some reviews, features, and maybe some neat snippets from what I’ve been working on. Who knows!

Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wonderful Wednesdays!

Since the Green Lantern trailer was a big hit, of course the Cowboys & Aliens trailer becomes posted this week as well. Click HERE for the trailer.

I am also thankful for everyone who checked out my blog on Sunday about Body Image in Comics. If you haven’t read it yet, it wouldn’t hurt to click HERE to check it out.

And as for comics this week, I was pleasantly surprised by all my picks. X-Men #5, Avengers #7, Thunderbolts #150 and Osborn #1 all blew me away. Only one blew me away over how bad it was though.

Out of the four, X-Men trailed the weakest due to a lack of everything. Avengers #7 continues Bendis’ and JRJR’s run with a new storyline already seeming better than the prior six issues. I blindly picked up Thunderbolts #150 today as I haven’t followed them with Marvel’s “Heroic Age” franchise. I was awed by how wonderful the story was and where each character stood in the Thunderbolts team. It also featured a re-print of Thunderbolts #1 from 1997. Yes, this book was 96 pages and well-worth the read.

Osborn1

Osborn #1

However, my favourite story this week comes from Kelly Sue DeConnick (wife of Matt Fraction), and artist Emma Rios. Osborn #1 is the continuation of Norman Osborn’s jail-time post his Dark Reign.
The story surprisingly features little of Osborn himself, but the events going around him. I will definitely keep this story spoiler-free so you all go out and BUY this book immediately.

Ben Urich uses his fellow Front Line writer Norah Winters to make a story about how Osborn is dealing with life in the Raft.
We are also introduced to a priest who speaks with other high-risk inmates and eerily has a Green Goblin tatoo on the back of his neck.
Also introduced are a senate sub-committee on Human Rights whom discuss what to do with Osborn – since he has not been charged with anything as of yet.
Needless to say, as the story progresses, Winter’s discovers that she cannot write a story about Osborn because he has been transferred. Where? No one knows. Only the committee and priest does.

Where the hell is this story going?!

So please, please, PLEASE pick up this book. It is such a sinister story. No doubt in my mind that it will be an amazing mini-series.

Major praise goes to Ben Oliver for that wonderful and eerie cover page with Osborn staring down at the reader. It creeps me right out.

Grade: Infinity/10

X-Men #5

This story for sure was a let-down. After months of building up a huge battle between both the vampires and the mutants, we literally get maybe four pages of actual fighting. The rest continues from X-Men #4, where speaking through video screens – bickering at each other – is the main source of action.

XMen5

The reader also learns how Wolverine turned into a vampire and how it is to be cured. All aside, this has been the weakest issue of the new X-Men series, despite it arguably being the most-anticipated one in terms of getting sh!t done. Also, you would figure Wolverine leading a vampires to kill the X-Men would be a lot more exciting. Alas. . .

Although I will give credit to humour – especially when Cyclops accidentally suggests that Emma Frost is “tough skin,” followed by her gloating personality, describing herself as “glamorous” rather than a “form of mine and lump.”

I also cannot knock Paco Medina’s art. Despite the lack of action, the scenery and spreads of the ocean, as well as the short battle were all penciled with great attention to detail. One specific panel where Archangel sheds to his Death appearance – just wow. I highly recommend that you pick up his run of Deadpool Vol 2 in 2008. He definitely is a great artist.

I really hope Gischler really gets this story together – either to make this vampire run conclude with a bang, or set up a new plot for the team.

Grade: 4/10

Also, I’ve updated my “Pull-List” page until the end of January, while also updating my “Who am I?” page too.

Expect a Classic Comic for Friday. Or else!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Hulk, X-Men, and Vampires

Sorry about the delay, folks. Yesterday’s comics were pretty good. Black Cat’s limited series finally concluded (and with a decent plot), while Incredible Hulks rampages on in issue #614 – fighting the Secret Avengers, while X-Men #4 battles on with the vampires. I also picked up Tick’s Edlund Epic #5 and #6, but they are comics from the 80’s reprinted in colour (and may eventually appear in my “classic reviews”), while I also picked up Shadowland #4. Unfortunately, I’m still lacking Shadowland #3, so I refuse to read on until I grab that. Damn lack of second-printing! New Avengers #5 also was released and is shaping up to be a decent story.

So this week we have two great books to go under the knife. Hulks and X-Men.

Incredible Hulks #614 – written by Planet Hulk/World War Hulk great, Greg Pak, featuring art from Barry Kitson. This run has been called the “Dark Son” series, and we’re on part three of six. In a nutshell, Hulk has another son – Skaar’s twin brother who has more of the Old Power than Skaar does. Pretty much, his new son, named Hiro-Kala, wants to destroy the remaining Old Power (so Skaar – and despite him having the Old Power himself – which is addressed in IH #613) so he’s sending his planet, K’ai, towards Earth to destroy it.

Hulks614

If that wasn’t bad enough, the government missiles and weapons aren’t doing any damage to the oncoming assault. The government decides to send up thousands of soldiers to fight it. Cut to Cape Canaveral, and the Hulks are on a rampage destroying tons of military equipment. The Secret Avengers jump in to fight off the Hulks until Black Widow and Beast show up with a gun which could teleport the Hulks into the Negative Zone instantly. So yes, the Hulks surrender and talk to Steve Roger’s about why they were damaging everything.

Hulk tells him that the government would just be sending soldier’s to their death, so they had to destroy all the equipment so people would not go up in space. Plus, it would create jobs for the economy. Really, they mention that.

After deliberation, both Rogers and the President allow the Hulks to go into space – via the Stone Flagship used to bombard Earth during World War Hulk! The final panel, the President is shown saying, “God help us. . . the Hulks are running the show now.”

If you have been reading Hulk, this definitely was a “wow” for me. It was such a great feeling seeing the Stone Flagship rise out of the ground. Of course, the comic made the event seem much more epic than how I described it.

I love Pak’s writing. Ever since he’s been attached to the Hulk, I’ve tried to read everything he’s done. He literally is responsible for turning the Hulk into such a great character – in my eyes. As for story, we really get to see the power of the planet K’ai in this issue and see that it can wipe-out quite a bit. On top of that, we get half the story of the Hulks smashing. Full-spreads of damage, plus Kitson’s take on the Secret Avengers. It’s great to see them in such a different light – literally – than Dedato’s drawings. I find Beast looking a lot more menacing, while Valkyrie and Rogers share a lot of the spotlight. Bright blue colours of the characters against a red skyline for most of the comic contrast very well.

Needless to say, this story was not only fast-paced, we get information about how the world would have reacted against K’ai, plus the intervention of other heroes with the Hulk. Quite frankly, this was a great surprise following two issues of character build-up. The Incredible Hulk’s story, plus a bonus-story at the end between Bruce and Skaar really place the $3.99 price tag at a great value, with a fantastic story.

Grade: 9/10

X-Men #4 is a continuation with the Curse of the Mutants storyline where the X-Men are against vampires. To summarize quickly, the vampires want the X-Men to become vampires so that their race can be the most power ever with mutants on their side. They argue that vampires are like mutants – shunned from society. Since the mutants are now at an all-time low-number, the vampires feel it best to strike now.

Xmen4

And as you can see from this GORGEOUS cover by Adi Granov, yes Wolverine became a vampire and is on their side now. You’re all probably like, “but his healing factor would’ve fought that.” And you’re absolutely right. It’s how Wolverine did not become a Brood, or ever hold a virus for long in his body. Well, from a FanExpo Canada panel back in August, C.B. Cebulski mentioned that it would be explained in the comic. However not in X-Men #3 or #4 where Wolverine is a vampire, so I’m still waiting.

The story, by Victor Gischler, with art by Paco Medina, is mostly Wolverine/Cyclops-focused. There’s a small subplot of Blade and Angel/Archangel searching for vampires and finding them – only to run away immediately, while the rest of the story is done through video intercom. Yup. Never judge a book by its cover.

Wolverine brags how great it is being a vampire and he explains how he feels being one. Dr. Nemesis cannot figure out a cure to vampirism, and Cyclops calls Xarus (lord of the vampires who killed Dracula and became the leader), and tries to persuade Xarus that the X-Men will fight. Xarus brags some more (as it seems vampires do a lot), and shows off both Jubilee and Wolverine both turned into vampires. They both brag how great it is and ask Scott to join. Of course, he refuses and Xarus wants to bring the fight to them.

The only really exciting moment is seeing the final panel of an army of vampires which will be led by Wolverine in the next issue to attack the X-Men.

If my review sounded boring and drab to you, that’s how the comic was too. I apologize for it. I’m sure Gischler would not. What I cannot knock is Medina’s art. Great use of panels shows us the action split between words. For example, Cyclops describes fighting vampires on one page. Within said page, we get three different panels of action in different parts of the city, featuring Colossus, Pixie, Rogue, Storm, Psylocke and Gambit. All of that is broken up by Cyclops’ sentences. It’s done extremely well, and each page tells its own story. Angel and Blade’s stumbling upon a vampire lair also spreads a full page of them pretty much overwhelmed by vampires. Pages like those, with beautiful dark colours by Marte Gracia, give this Curse of the Mutants plot a grim feeling.

However, given a lot of action is done in dialogue buffed up between two egos, it really dwindles the story. It’s like watching school children say, “I’m better because of this,” “Oh yeah? Well I’m better!” Only somehow this involves the leaders of X-Men and vampires. What a battle!

Grade: 6/10

In other news, the Spider-Man movie villain has been discovered as the Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. Also, congratulations goes out to Christopher Hastings, and Anthony Clark, writer, drawer, and colourist to the web comic Dr. McNinja. Their recent Volume 4 has been picked up by Darkhorse Comics! Once again, this goes to show you that persistence in the art universe is key!

We’ll see what tomorrow will bring with my classic comics! Until then!

Keep on Space Truckin’.

Classic Comic Fridays: Uncanny X-Men #134

Every Friday, I will review a classic comic from my personal collection.

For my classic comic feature this week, I’ve decided on a personal-favourite of mine, Uncanny X-Men #134 from June of 1980. It was written by the man who arguably made the X-Men who they are today, Chris Claremont. It was also co-written by artist John Byrne, the legend who drew the X-Men for their re-conception in the 70’s and 80’s. Needless to say, this was the X-Men’s A-Team. This is also the issue which gives readers the first appearance to Dark Phoenix!

UXM134

What’s fantastic about this issue – or at least, what stands out for me – are two things. First is the excitement from panel-to-panel with the ensuing battle between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club. And second is the building up of Dark Phoenix.

The story actually trails issues before this one, where Jean Grey has been getting random dreams and flashes of being a queen with a man named Jason Wyngarde. After so many issues, Grey is fully tricked into being a queen and is brought to the Hellfire Club, where, along with Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, Jason Wyngarde, and Harry Leland, she becomes the Black Queen.

The X-Men in a few issues prior, go to save Jean, but are all captured. Luckily, Wolverine had eluded capture earlier and breaks in to save the day – only to be stopped by Jean under Wyngarde’s control. All seems lost, but Jean removes a helmet Cyclops was forced to wear to withhold his powers, and he blasts the X-Men free. It seems as if Jean was able to beat Wyngarde’s control. . .

With the X-Men free, they begin battle against the Hellfire Club with awesome panels drawn by Byrne. Colossus takes on Pierce and rips off one of his robot arms, while Leland takes on Wolverine and loses, of course.

Cyclops and Shaw battle it out. Although Shaw could absorb Cyclops’ blasts, Summers plays it smart and blows out the floor beneath Shaw, forcing him to fall.

Storm and Nightcrawler take on Shaw from the lower level, where Storm tries freezing the Black King. Shaw grabs Nightcrawler and throws him at Storm preventing a full-freeze. Defeated, Shaw escapes with Pierce and Leland into a secret passage within the club.

As the story winds down, we see that Wyngarde was not who he was – but instead Mastermind, generating queen illusion to Jean, as well as making the fake image of Jason Wyngarde. Mastermind tries to figure out how he lost, and the readers discover that it was not Jean Grey at all. In fact, Mastermind was playing mind-games with the Phoenix force itself!
MastermindDestroyed

Angry for being tricked for so long by Mastermind, Phoenix decides to destroy him for what he has done. In result, the fake-Jean opened his mind into all the feelings and sensations the Phoenix felt around the universe. Unable to handle such immense power in his mind, Mastermind fell into a coma.

Escaping the club, the X-Men regroup to the Blackbird and begin to leave. Cyclops tries to figure out what was wrong with Jean as she also seemed to be short with him on their way to the jet. After a few moments of gathering themselves, the X-Men turn around to see Jean floating in a red costume proclaiming, “No longer am I the woman you knew! I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever, I am Phoenix!”

And then the Blackbird blew up.

What a way to end a story, eh?

Claremont’s build up to such a dramatic story could not have been any better. No one, whether in the X-Men or the Hellfire Club could have known this was coming. Not even the readers knew, or were hinted at, that Jean Grey was not who she was. It came as a complete shock to all players for the comic.

Afterward, the Dark Phoenix Saga begins for a few issues, followed by the inevitable death of Jean Grey in issue #137, entitled “Phoenix Must Die!” I’m sure you’ve all seen the awesome cover. It’s also my profile picture on WordPress here.

One thing to definitely discuss is Bryne’s brilliant art throughout the comic. Panel-to-panel, the X-Men have to battle the Hellfire Club, and we have to see how each individual’s power affects the story. Wolverine versus Leland’s power to increase gravity to the people around him ended in failure as Wolverine jumped on Leland. Given his only was to generate weight, they both crashed through the floor, Leland obviously defeated.

Pierce’s battle with Colossus shows how Pierce just relies on brute strength rather than technique. The snapping of Pierce’s arm by Colossus’s technique brings one of those, “hell yes” moments to the page. Byrne’s great for that.

As for how X-men comics go, this was definitely one of the strongest X-Men comics I’ve ever read. X-Men, I’d argue, is my forté, so when I say this, I do mean it. Overall, this story – filled with plenty of surprises and great action – make obvious to why Claremont and Byrne’s run on the X-Men was so successful.

Grade: 9/10

Keep on Space Truckin’.