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’!