Wednesday’s Reviews: So Many Marvel Titles!

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

Age of X: Alpha

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

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

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

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

Grade: 6/10

Chaos War

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

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

. . . What? Read the book.

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

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

Grade: 5/10

The Avengers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: 6/10

Uncanny X-Force

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

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

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

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

Grade: 10/10

New Avengers

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

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

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

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

Grade: 7/10

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

New Mutants

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

What a Wednesday!

This week was an extraordinary week for comics. Especially for me, given most of them were X-related titles.

X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, New Mutants, and Chaos War: Alpha Flight were all on the docket for comics this week. One really screwed up with consistencies in the story, while the other one really disappointed me with art direction.

Unfortunately, they are the two major X-titles: Uncanny and Legacy.

X-Force #2

But first, let me say that X-Force has the best art and nostalgia for any comic I’ve read in a while. There was a particular scene with Archangel and Wolverine going through a secret base of Warren’s. The base is considered the hideout for X-Force, but also a back-up base in case Utopia was ever to fall.
The insides are what counts. Great halls show old pictures of the various X-teams over the decades, plus a room with old costumes, such as Havok’s 60’s-80’s attire, Sunfire’s original helmet, and enemies as statues, such as an eerily stuffed Brood warrior. Essentially, Warren built an X-Museum. It looks glorious. Art with Jerome Opena – win!

But on to the reviews. Both stories were not too bad, it is that I am at my breaking point for comic art and the various cross-over issues. Uncanny X-Men #530 was a comic book with porno. Greg Land’s art is by far, getting to be too much. He is a great artist, and I respect that. However, he has no respect for the characters as it is clearly official that every X-character can produce an O-face at will. The book was physically demeaning to practically every female X-character, while Cyclops and Angel look like they’re ripped out of a cover for a romance novel.

Legacy failed with consistency in story for me. Firstly, did Mr. Mike Carey not get the memo that Magneto has left Utopia? I understand that the previous plot had Magneto in it, and I gave it some grace in terms of letting it catch up with the rest of the stories. But now we’ve started anew again, and Magento’s still here. Then the same day when I pick up Uncanny, Anole is suffering with a massive disease and the flu, yet in Legacy, he’s playing baseball. Doesn’t Colossus want to know where Kitty is? I mean, in Uncanny, she’s off with Frost – but then again, there’s also a flu outbreak. It really cannot connect well, and it’s becoming frustrating.

I, of course, have not even decided to discuss the Generation Hope/X-Men/Vampire storyline at all because I’d be in a real mess then.

Uncanny X-Men #530

Uncanny X-Men #530

But for storyline in each – individually, they do some things very well. Uncanny’s run with Fraction, I believe, needs a breath of fresh air. I know Kieron Gillen is joining the bandwagon, so let’s hope we get some boot-up there. Uncanny’s story with the Sublime Corp creating the original X-Men lineup with test subjects seems very interesting to me. I mean, sure, it could easily be Mimic again, but mixing a “new” mutant team with the X-Men stranded on Utopia definitely leaves a great opening for new possibilities. On top of that, only a few mutants are left outside of Utopia – refused back in due to the sudden pandemic which is affected a lot of mutants. Even Wolverine somehow has caught it.

The X-Men outside of Utopia consist of Angel, Dazzler, Storm, Pixie and a few others – making it a different team with characters who have not necessarily been explored in a long-while. As for figuring out what the Sublime X-team will do to the outsider X-Men – it’ll be an interesting plot.

Unfortunately for Land’s art, I found it detracted a lot of the story. Most particular in the first few pages with Emma completely posing like she is in Playboy, with random angles from behind of just her butt. I find the art great, but also unacceptable. For shame, Land.

Grade: 5/10

X-Men Legacy #242

Here, Mike Carey shows the readers what the X-Men can do to help San Fransisco post-Second Coming. The city is damaged, so Cyclops sends the X-Men to help. Of all mutants, Random is included (which in itself is random). It’ll be interesting to see what he will play in the upcoming arc. Included are also Rogue, Danger, Magneto, Colossus, Psylocke, and the others listed below.

X-Men Legacy #242

In the story Hellion has new hands, and went with the group to help rebuild. However, he is upset with Hope as he feels like he lost his hands for nothing. I find his pain completely understandable, while also feeling his frustration. Yes, Carey has made me feel for Hellion. We’ll see how far that goes.

Another body to help was Omega Sentinel/Karima Shapandar – who is mainly the plot point of the story. Without ruining too much, just remember she was turned into a Omega Sentinel by Bastion during Operation: Zero Tolerance. Also keep in mind that Bastion was the reason for Second Coming and tried to kill Hope Summers.

Oh, and Hope Summers went along to help the city, too.

Epic.

As for art, Paul Davidson both penciled and inked the story, which I always find commendable for any artist to do. No longer are Rogue’s breasts a focal point in Legacy, and the art has been toned-down to normal levels. I do have some complaints with faces, as Hope seems to be a different girl in almost every panel. The final page shows Karima in action with zero expression. Whether intentional or not, I found it dry.

However, I love it when comics try and tackle issues which are usually ignored after a massive battle. And also one that isn’t Damage Control. Add in a BRILLIANT cover by Leinil Yu, and you’re set for a new arc.

Grade: 7/10

Also, check out at Weekly Comic Book Review, Roman Colombo’s reviews of the Messiah series, or what he would like to call, “Messianic X Cycle.” (Just go with it). The reviews are greatly in-depth, and I share a lot of the same views with him. So go over and check them out:
Messiah CompleX, Messiah War, and Second Coming.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!