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’!

Wednesday’s Reviews: The Avengers and The Alternate Avengers

Firstly, read Jim Shooter’s blog. It’s absolutely astounding to see what he does and has done. This recent entry is one of the most fascinating ones I’ve read thus far:

Hank Pym was not a Wife Beater

As for reviews, I swear I’m not going to bring this up again – but Bendis & Romita Jr. in The Avengers series have been up to that “multiple panel” deal in their books for the umpteenth. I thought I was going crazy. Then I took a look at Avengers #1, #5, #9, #10, and #11. I left out some half-page ones in other issues because they arguably are the norm for comics.

Panels

This is how I felt after laying all of these comics out:

Bert

Variety is all I’m asking for.

Now on to one of the most anticipated books this month.

Age of X Universe

Age of X Universe #1 of 2
Main Story:Simon Spurrier (writer), Khoi Pham (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Sonia Oback (colours).
Spider-Man Story: Jim McCann (writer), Paul Davidson (art), Antonio Fabela (colours).
Joe Sabino (letters), Simone Bianchi & Simone Peruzzi (cover). $3.99

For $3.99, this book is a steal. In fact, it’s an unbelievable steal which will impress every fanboy of the Marvel U.

Basing itself off of the current X-Men crossover, The Age of X, AoXU is how the other heroes have been affected by the mutants who are all over the world. Team leader and book narrator, Captain America, leads his unusual strike force of Avengers such as Vengeance, the Hulk, and Sue Storm to a mutant prison riot, to Fortress X itself.

But the excitement lends itself not to the battle, but to the quick back stories of each Avenger – and why they’re there. Throughout the book, we’re invited to see how the world has twisted its ways into the AoXU. Through that, we’re given little tidbits of character leaking themselves out into the page. We see Captain America and Sue Storm have consciences, while Iron Man is a vengeful deteriorating freak of nature and Spider-Woman is the top hit-woman. To top it all off, Frank Castle is the Chief of the Avengers – the man running the show. Of course, that will lead to extremely violent results.

Making things more interesting, forgotten mutants of the Marvel U make short, if not saddening appearances. Maggott, who I haven’t seen alive since 2003, makes a cameo, while Marrow, Mr. Sinister, and Whirlwind make for some extra mutant-loving goodness. (Did I just say that?) Don’t even get me started with Sabretooth’s depressing story.

Khoi Pham does one helluva great job delivering so many jaw-dropping moments in this book. A personal favourites are Vengeance taking on Chamber for a few fiery blazes of panels, and the final page with Hulk and his bug-eyes. My only beef is first in the book with Legacy (Rogue), as she seems rather mannish than well, being Rogue.

To top it all off, a bonus story featuring Spider-Man and a pregnant Mary Jane shows how certain heroes with altered DNA are considered “Post-Muties” – meaning Spider-Man is on the run. A short but enriching tale, we don’t see Spider-Man with his usual quips aside from the introductory narration at the beginning. Concluding on a moment where I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad, Spider-Man’s tale really ties together how perverse the AoXU is.

Regardless if you’re reading the X-Men crossovers or not, you’d be foolish not to pick this up.

Grade: 9/10

Unfortunately I’ve been busy so I cannot really focus on more reviews. Until next time folks, keep on Space Truckin’!