Review: X-Factor #228 & Avengers vs. X-Men

X_Factor

X-Factor #228
Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (pencils, inks), Matt Milla (colours), Cory Petit (letters), David Yardin (cover). $2.99

There is always a ton of fun to be had in an X-Factor book – guaranteed.

As of last issue, Jamie Madrox (Prime) was killed by Jamie Madrox (Dupe) who was killed by the little boy whose father X-Factor was sent in to save and later possessed by the villain Bloodbath who Strong Guy apparently killed! Geddit? And that was all in the last issue!

Although it may seem overwhelming with that summary, X-Factor is fast-paced and features many twists and turns with each page. By the end of it all, you’re left begging for more after each issue. In X-Factor #228, there is no exception. Albeit a more of a conversational book, the dialogue is completely necessary and builds up the inevitable answers people have been asking since Layla Miller’s return in X-Factor #202. (We’re so close!) Not to mention, we’re also getting closer to find out what really happened to Guido after his “death”! And those are still only a few of the loose ends!

Looking at the writing, however, it’s obvious that David has a great handle on this book. Even in a book with little action, the amount of effort put into the characters we are reading allows us to enjoy the book on such a higher regard. It really is a family book, where even the characters are invested in their own team – and that alone makes it a fun read.

And what’s to say about Leonard Kirk? He’s a tight artist with strong emotions pouring out of the characters. Layla in particular really shines with bits of sadness, rage and shame. With such a focus on characters, it’s hard to notice that most of the panels do not have backgrounds to them as readers will find themselves much more interested in the story than the “set” background. It leaves colourist Milla with a lot more freedom to set different moods in the varying panels of humour, action, and sorrow.

Although the book is definitely not a jumping on point for new readers (and I think most books should be), for the fans, we’ll be at the edge of our seats for yet another issue.

Bonus points for a killer cover by Yardin.

Grade: 7/10

As an aside, I’m sure you’ve all heard about Marvel’s summer blockbuster involving The Avengers versus the X-Men. Marvel’s pushing it with an “it’s finally happening” message through their all of their media releases.

Well, what about Avengers #53? Jeez, guys.

Avengers vs. X-Men

Yup. “‘Nuff said!”

Keep on Space Truckin’!

FanExpo Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I am off to FanExpo Canada. In a nutshell, it’s Canada’s equivalent to the San Diego Comic Con. Admittedly, it’s not nearly as large, nor does it draw a huge slush of big Hollywood celebrities – but it’s definitely a place I look forward going to every year.

Last year, as if you hadn’t known already, I met the legendary Stan Lee. This year, while Stan Lee will not be there, a huge group of comic artists and writers will be. I’m looking very forward to meeting and talking to a bunch of them. Most importantly, a brilliant writer: Chris Claremont.

But for this year, I’m only going up for two days – Thursday and Friday – due to work obligations and finances. However, that will not stop me from having a ton of fun. Expect tons of pictures when I come back.

In fact, let’s see my schedule for the Con:

People to See/Get Signed:
Chris Claremont #743 (Uncanny X-Men)
Leonard Kirk #P055 (New Mutants)
Mark Brooks #P045 (Uncanny X-Force)
Dale Eaglesham #P066 (Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulks)
Fred Van Lente #P065 (Taskmaster, Chaos War)
C.B. Cebulski Booth #743 (Marvel VP)
Kelly Sue DeConnick #P002 (Osborn) (Friday)
Jimmy Cheung (Avengers: Children’s Crusade)
Axl Alonso (Marvel Editor-in-Chief)

Panels & Signings:
Thursday:
5pm, Room 714 – Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way
7pm, Room 717 – Redefining the FF – Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting & Marko Djurdjevic

Friday:
11:30am, Room 716 – Sketching Duel: Marko Djurdjevic & Tony Daniel
1pm, Room 717 – Fred Van Lente & Dale Eaglesham on Alpha Flight
2:30pm, Room 714 – Marvel: Fear Itself
Auto CC 3:30pm – Signing Session: Marko Djurdjevic (NM, SA)

As you can see, there are some major names on that schedule of mine. I’m very excited to talk to Fred Van Lente on how incredible his Taskmaster series was. I also am looking forward to meeting Kelly Sue to express my appreciation for her work on Osborn.

I’m probably going to get some commission work done as well. Leonard Kirk is on the top of my list, while, if at all possible, I’d like to see how much Djurdjevic charges – if he’s doing any at all.

When I’m not in line for, or in the panels and signing sessions, I will be scouring the immense showroom floor; checking out costumes, booths, and other artists. I’m still on the hunt to complete the entire run of Uncanny X-Men, so we’ll see how that goes!

I did say I wasn’t staying the whole weekend for financial reasons, right?

As a side note, isn’t it crazy that Mike Carey is finishing his six-year run on X-Men Legacy?

X-Men Legacy

I’ll see you all when I get back!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Comic News Explosion!

There’s been so many little interesting things happening in the comic world that it boggles the mind how one can keep up with it. So here’s some stuff I found to be the most exciting in the past little while:

Uncanny X-Men Returns!

If you haven’t heard me complain about Marvel canceling Uncanny X-Men yet, don’t fret. I was right. They WILL be back – even sooner than expected. But starting at #1.

Am I psychic? No. I just am aware how comics work.

Both Comic Book Resources and ICv2 report (Oh, and Marvel too, I guess), much like the Looney Toons, the X-Men are back in action. And as I said before with too many X-titles on the market – sure enough, another one will hit the stands too. Wolverine & The X-Men. *Sigh*

It just doesn’t stop. And I doubt this has anything to do with the cartoon series.

Uncanny X-Men Back

Leonard Kirk Joins X-Factor!

This is the most exciting part to my news, in my humble opinion. Firstly, my first (or second, I’m still undecided) X-book is getting my local hometown artist on board! Leonard Kirk joins writer Peter David and artist Emanuela Lupacchino for a killer new arc in X-Factor. This is so freaking exciting! You can see some of Kirk’s sketches here on Marvel’s website. His versions of Wolfsbane and Layla are gorgeous.

Black Widow Archie?

Speaking of stuff not stopping, remember when Betty and Veronica from Archie were both Black Widows? I suppose Veronica is Natasha while Betty is Yelena? Does Archie comics even know there is a second Black Widow? Regardless, here are the covers:

Black Widow Betty

Black Widow Veronica

Avengers 1959

If you haven’t been reading The New Avengers, you missed out on some ridiculous retconning as of late. Turns out in 1959, Nick Fury created a band of Avengers before the Avengers ever came to be. What’s even more over-the-top is that the team consists of villains like Sabretooth, Kraven the Hunter and Namora (well she’s turned around now). This five-issue mini series will chronicle the missions the team worked with Fury on.

So not only was the Avengers 1959 story tacked-on to the New Avengers story poorly, but now it’s getting its own mini series. Mind boggling. Writer/artist Howard Chaykin will be taking the helm with the story. You can check it out this October.

“Namor: The First Mutant” Canceled

And to go off of Namora, Namor: The First Mutant has officially been canceled with issue #11. No – it will not be seeing a reboot any time soon, but it shows me that Namor is better off in the X-Men. His stories weren’t bad at all – it was just that Namor has never had a home. When he did with X-Men, he was great. His own spinoff was unfortunately not worth it. However, I’ll never forget how great Namor: The First Mutant #5 was. It definitely places Namor in a completely different light.

You can still read about Marvel’s best anti-hero currently in many X-books, as well as in the Fear Itself: The Deep mini series.

Alpha Flight’s Villain

Announced and only teased to readers today, Alpha Strike will be the main villains in the Alpha Flight maxi series. Is that Wendigo? And who is the mysterious lady in the shadows?

Alpha Strike

Total anarchy!

As a complete side note, I’ve been listening to Devin Townsend’s “Deconstruction” album consistently for two days straight. (It was released Tuesday).

Update: 06/24
Rest in Peace Gene Colan

Legendary comic book artist Gene Colan passed away yesterday at the age of 84 due to complications with hip and liver disease.

Colan is known for co-creating such characters as Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Blade, Super-Adaptoid and Dracula. He’s also known for exceptional runs on Daredevil, Captain America and Doctor Strange. He was recently given an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue with his work in 2009’s Captain American #601.

He shall be missed.

Classic Comic Fridays w/ Wednesday Reviews?!

Tuesday marked my one-month anniversary of the blog, meaning in one month’s time, I’ve had 680 views! I think that’s pretty fantastic so far, so thank you everyone who has supported this idea! Last week’s article about Women in Comics was a huge success. Thank you for the comments and feedback received. Believe me, I’ll definitely be doing more posts like that in the near-future.

As for this week, I was late getting my comics on Wednesday hence no review. So instead of doing two separate blog posts, I’ll slam together one epic-post involving my weekly reviews, plus my Classic Comic feature. Sounds good? Okay!

So I am planning on doing three reviews for comics I grabbed this week, plus the Classic Comic, thus my reviews will be a bit shorter than usual as I want to cram everything in and not bore anyone. Also, please keep ***SPOILER ALERT*** in mind for when you read these reviews.

So without further adieu, let’s start with the Classic Comic!

As I’m sure you’ve heard about The Increduble Hulk coming back to television, so is a favourite of mine, Cloak and Dagger.

So as such, I shall review Cloak and Dagger Vol. 2 #1 from July of 1985. The second volume only lasted eleven issues, as it followed from a four-issue limited series. Bill Mantlo wrote both series, while Rick Leonardi penciled Volume 1, and up to issue four on Volume 2, only to have each issue after that drawn by different artists. Needless to say, this was to be Cloak and Daggers big break.

C&D1

The comic opens with the duo stopping a child sex-ring, which makes the story start pretty dark for characters who flew out of the Spider-Man comics. A battle ensues with the gang who steals the women, where Cloak and Dagger both put an end to the nonsense. They manage to hold off any death until the police arrive, and they head back to their home – The Holy Ghost Church – their sanctuary.

There, the Father believes Cloak is a bad influence on Dagger and believes he is persuading her in a life of crime. They discuss with the Father that they are runaways (it’s written in bold in the book and thus explaining their cameo in the Runaways series) and give a brief story about who they are, and explain how Cloak saved Dagger and they are a team.

While taking refuge in the church for a few days, Cloak inexplicably attacks church goers and makes them see their darkest fears. Dagger attacks back, believing Cloak must have been angry at the Father for his judgment. However, during the battle, two red eyes appear from the darkness making the reader assume Cloak has been possessed. Dagger, unknown to this, thinks Cloak is arrogant and leaves him, giving the reader the understanding that the duo is no more. So ends the comic.

Cloak and Dagger #1 is dark and gritty – exactly how the duo are upon facing crime. They are misunderstood and believe in high-morals, fighting for what’s right while still dealing with their own demons. The first issue really emphasized the image of C&D, especially with inker Terry Austin at the helm giving us the looks of a grungy city.

Story-wise, it ended weak with Dagger being almost ridiculous with her reaction to Cloak. It seemed like something out of Degrassi. However, that lull at the end does not overshadow the true nature of the comic throughout. It was unfortunate that the series only lasted eleven issues. Although the two were back for Volume 3 in the late 80’s, their run only lasted nineteen issues and left the duo to guest star in comics from there on out.

They had been most recently seen in the Uncanny X-Men storyline during the Dark Reign saga under the belief that they were mutants. However, in the Cloak and Dagger one-shot released after Siege, the two discovered they were not mutants and went back out into the wild to find their place in the world. Apparently that may be seen in television next.

Grade: 7.5/10

As for the rest of the comics, I wanted to review three this week which I found were unbelievably awesome: New Mutants #18, Chaos War #2, and Kick-Ass 2 #1.

New Mutants as of late, have been trying to get some R&R post-Second Coming, but unfortunately they’ve been pulled into limbo and are fighting government-bred mutants over the life of Illyana.

NewMutants18

Written by Zeb Wells and drawn by my favourite local artist, Leonard Kirk, New Mutants #18 was a blast. Literally. The entire issue was dedicated to fighting for Illyana’s life – the New Mutants versus the government mutants. Each page splashed with colour of explosions and drama.

But what really makes this comic exceptional is Wells’ work on individual characters, such as the government mutants, mixed in with Kirk’s take on how to explain with art. For example, Cannonball flies towards a government mutant named Toko at full speed only to be repelled back instantly. What’s Toko’s power? Who is she? We can only see what is given to us, and it’s done so beautifully. When you take in the wonderful mix of bright red and orange colours, you get incredible contrasts which usually are not found in many comics today.

This comic was a pleasant surprise despite being all-action. Story is told through the little dialogue, but pushes enough through so someone picking up the series for the first time would not be lost. Over all, a great read.

Grade: 8/10

Now I feel bad for bashing Chaos War #1 two weeks ago. Pak and Van Lente definitely kicked butt with this comic. Keeping the plot line brief: the world is doomed and no hero is left to help but gods themselves.

ChaosWar2

All superheros/people in the world have been put into a coma by the Chaos King. Planes crash, people “die,” but are not really dead because the underworld is being turned upside-down. It’s a long story.

We see the underworld get turned into a crap-storm as characters such as Ares, Zeus, Banshee, The Abomination, and more, are summoned as dead heroes by Pluto (Lord of the Dead) stating he will set them free if they fight for him against the Chaos King. Immediately we see Zeus slain by the Chaos King, showing that in death, one can still die.

Hercules feeling his fathers death, realizes he needs to set up a team to defeat the Chaos King. Of all things, ETERNITY, is summoned from Hercules. If you don’t know who Eternity is, take the strongest thing in the universe and put it into this guy. Regardless, Hercules wants help, and Eternity says he cannot give it as the Chaos King is an Anti-God, Eternity’s opposite, and cannot fight him as it would be like fighting himself.

So lost, Herc calls upon some strong friends: Amadeus Cho, Venus, and Thor are already there, so he calls upon Sersi of the Eternals, followed by Galactus and the Silver Surfer, making them the God Squad.

It’s really a page-by-page, jaw-dropping comic. Beautiful art again by Pham shows us the immensity of the other worlds. Fire and brimstone trickle the battle fields and Hela’s appearance at Hades with her army really shows the immensity of this battle about to explode. Although the first comic failed to impress, sticking around really showed me wrong.

Grade: 9/10

And alas, the inevitable Kick-Ass 2, #1. Still written by Mark Millar and drawn by John Romita Jr., I can see where Romita Jr. put all his attention when he was drawing the Avengers comics. We get to see his great art again!

Taking off from the hit-comic-series-turned-movie, Kick-Ass is back, and kick-assier than ever! The comic kicks-off pretty much how the first comic ended, and we see Hit-Girl training Kick-Ass to be a better fighter. Although it doesn’t explain it, it seems like awhile has passed since the first comic.

KickAss21

I say that because shortly after training, we see our hero Kick-Ass, or Dave Lizewski, meeting up with another hero, Doctor Gravity. They walk the street and are approached by a gang – which in turn, they fight, split up, and meet up again at a underground lair where other superheroes have joined together, calling themselves Justice Forever. Superheroes are becoming a norm it seems.

Mindy is also battling her new dad, Marcus, about being a superhero. She is hiding it from him, but being a detective, he knows she’s lying. So she’s banned herself from being Hit-Girl as she promises Marcus she will not do it anymore.

Also, much like in the first comic, we get a small flash-forward to what is to come – Red Mist’s super villain army versus Kick-Ass’s superhero army in the middle of the streets. So we know what’s to come.

Over all, there’s no real threat aside from what was teased to us earlier in the issue. It is also hinted that Red Mist is gathering villains, but it is not really explained how it is known. We also see that someone Kick-Ass knows is brain-damaged, while his house is also blown up. I’m not a big fan of spoilers, but it seems as if we are given a bit too much information too early on. I already feel like I know the ending before the story began.

However! Kick-Ass 2 is, so far, a lot better than the first series. I enjoyed the first series greatly, but I suppose with already established characters, I feel connected to these people a lot more. It also seemed a bit darker – which Millar was going for – but I only got that feeling when he gave us a hint of what will happen, rather than what is happening. Mix the forward-moving story with great art finally coming out of JRJR, I have to say, Kick-Ass 2 did not disappoint!

Grade: 7.5/10

I also think this is an interesting read: Click here to read it. It’s the blog from the person who won the bid for lunch with Joe Quesada. The proceeds went to charity, The Hero Initiative, and he got a great day out of it! What really stands out is that he has the same views I have with breaking into the comics industry: the feeling of getting closer to the dream with each step you take.

And on a heavier, unrelated note, I had the KFC Double-Down the yesterday. Do not believe the hype. Although it may be two patties of chicken which replaces bread, the sandwich itself is no bigger than the palm of my hand. I had it down in four bites and it does not fill you what-so-ever. Is it worth the bragging rights? I don’t even know anymore. But I felt fine after eating it!

Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!