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

A Wednesday in Review

A laundry-list of stories came out this week! The Chaos War continued in Incredible Hulks #619, the X-Men cleared up the vampire threat in the Curse of the Mutants storyline in X-Men #6, while a What If? showed us what would happen had Hawkeye killed Norman Osborn during the Dark Reign. Also to note, a particular drawing of Rogue in X-Men Legacy #243 by Paul Davidson has shown Rogue at her absolute worst. Just sayin’ is all. I was unaware Rogue was an aged Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Despite all that stuff going on, I felt reviews of Uncanny X-Men #531 and Namor: The First Mutant #5 were necessary.

Uncanny

Uncanny X-Men #531

With part two of the Quarantine storyline, Matt Fraction continues his run on Uncanny X-Men, but this time adding Kieron Gillen from the most-recent Generation Hope series as a co-writer. If you haven’t heard, yesterday Marvel announced their next big event for 2011, called “Fear Itself.” Given Fraction is running the show, I can only assume Gillen will be helming Uncanny very soon on his own.

In this issue of Uncanny, you can read the first couple of panels in the story and see Gillen’s adjustments to Fraction’s run. It seems as if the conclusion to Generation Hope’s current story ties into Uncanny’s pages.

Continuing from last month, the flu-plot thickens as the X-Men’s heavy-hitters are all diagnosed with some unknown flu. Namor, Wolverine, Magneto, and so-on, have obtained some sickness running aboard Utopia – while Cyclops seems to be next on the list. Three other subplots, believe it or not, actually run within the Uncanny story and ultimately cramming quite a bit in such a small book. First, we have the X-Men outside of Utopia dealing with a “new” X-Men team created by superhuman villain Lobe. Yes, now there are three X-Men teams running around in the story. To top it all off, Emma still is off with Fantomex and Kitty Pryde inside EVA to rid of Sebastian Shaw forever, while the vigilante Collective Man is terrorizing San Francisco’s Chinatown. The story ultimately ends with the two outside-of-Utopia X-Men teams closing in on Collective Man’s position, while a silly error in Fantomex’s judgment thickens the Sebastian Shaw developments.

I believe you can imagine how rushed this book seems. It can be very problematic. However, that’s actually not my “big” beef with the book. Whereas last month, I was upset about X-Men Legacy’s continuity problems, Uncanny took that problem then made it happen ten-fold. I really do not know where in the Marvel U this story takes place, as there are too many variables with different characters. For example, Namor is no longer on Utopia. Magneto too, has jumped ship to be in both Legacy and the Children’s Crusade plots. Fantomex’s ship EVA is currently destroyed in Uncanny X-Force. Then there’s Curse of the Mutants, the Generation Hope’s story which I am assuming ends into Uncanny, etc. The list of problems goes on.

And it’s not that the X-Men are spread too thin in various titles. I mean, the vampire/X-Men storyline actually could fit in rather nicely had there been a bit more collaboration. It seems that Fraction set Uncanny up too-wrong-too-fast, post-Second Coming. He’s taking on a lot with the characters and it’s completely unhealthy for the book. Once you bring in art from Greg Land, where I’ve seen in this current book – the Dazzler as Emma Frost and Namor as Wolverine, while Dr. Kavita Rao younger by at least ten years, I’m not impressed at all.

In a nutshell, if I wasn’t so hell-bent on collecting every Uncanny X-Men comic (as being a comic collector does), I quite honestly would have dropped this story last month.

Grade: 2/10

Namor: The First Mutant #5

A gorgeous story about the history of Namor shocked me in Namor: The First Mutant #5. I was absolutely stunned by the completely different change of pace this story turned to post-Curse of the Mutants. And it was done very well.

Namor

Interestingly enough, the writer hadn’t changed at all. Stuart Moore still helms the book – proving to me his immense versatility in writing. The story stems right out of the previous issue where X-Man Loa finds out she can breath underwater because of an amulet she has. That only takes up four pages of the entire book. Immediately, we are taken back to the 1940’s where Namor’s lover at the time, Betty – being both blonde and Sue Storm-esque, and her friend Alice – first introduced back in the 40’s with Namor! Talk about digging up dirt from the past! Anyway, we are taken through how Namor both spoils and berates Betty – being the anti-hero he was back during those times. Fast forwarding to recent years, the story ends with Namor saving a father and daughter from Great White in Maui (with little interesting tidbits in there for you to find out), and finding Alice as a mother/grandmother of the two people Namor just saved. The story ends with a return to present time and concludes the interesting story on how Loa got the amulet. Ending on a positive note, this book serves as a reminder to all Namor fans of who he was before and what he is now.

With Moore writing, he proved to me that he knows Namor and that he is currently in good hands. The story in every couple of pages, gives a different title to Namor’s various attributes – being a lover, destroyer, egotist, and so-on.

Meanwhile, artists Ariel Olivietti and Brian Ching take over as artists and add a tremendous amount of depth to the pages, while Olivietti and Rachelle Rosenberg brighten up the pages with glorious colours, making each page as attractive as the last. To top it all off, a brilliant cover page of Namor, Betty, and WWII by Mike Mayhew really puts the icing on the cake. For $2.99 and keeping up with this pace, I really think we’ll actually have a regular on-going Namor series.

Grade: 9/10

Whilte you’re at it, check out Marvel’s month-to-month sales up to October 2010, courtesy Comics Beat. I also will not be posting Classic Comics for the next two weeks due to various holidays. However, they will return in the new year!

And of course, 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’!