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: 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

Wednesday’s Reviews: Wolverine, Jubilee and Legacy

A new week with new reviews. There were only a couple of comics out this week, so there isn’t much to review. However, next week, I’ll have my hands tied. With over 15 comics on my pull-list coming out, including the death of a Fantastic Four member, I can guarantee next week will be the most exciting for reviews thus far.

For this week, we got the premiere issue of Wolverine and Jubilee, followed by the on-going X-Men Legacy – the issue before the Age of X.

Wolverine and Jubilee

Wolverine and Jubilee #1
Kathy Immonen (writer), Phil Noto (penciler, inker, colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Olivier Coipel and Morry Hollowell (cover). $2.99

Falling out of the third series of X-Men comics, Jubilee is now a vampire. With vampirism comes fighting with the thirst, plus multiple anger issues she has to deal with. Due to the lack of a cure, the science team found a temporary fix by inducing her with Wolverine’s blood, thus giving her a small healing factor and blood fix. The book deals with Jubilee integrating herself back into Utopia while other mutants try to help her out. After snapping on a few, she heads downtown and is met by a mysterious woman. By the end of the book, Wolverine and Rockslide find Jubilee in a storage crate littered with bodies.

From front to back, the only thing I could feel was sorry for Jubilee. She lost her parents, then her powers after M-Day, and now has lost her humanity. Quite literally, this is a story of tragedy. Kathy Immonen definitely portrays all the emotions Jubilee feels as she mingles with different mutants on Utopia. Then of course, with Wolverine being Jubilee’s father figure, we’re left to see him try and find ways to make Jubilee feel better, while also trying to defend her against prejudice. Little humour from Wolverine too, such as calling Santo “Sanchez” purposely is subtle enough to be placed in such a serious story and is very welcoming.

Last week I credited Phil Noto for his excellent cover on Widow Maker #3. Now he has the entire book to himself – doing everything, from inks to colours. His dynamics in this book really excel as sceneries change greatly from underground cells, to a sunset on Utopia, to a night club in downtown San Fan. Quite literally Noto does it all – while still making Jubilee look like an Asian-American. Too often is that forgotten when drawing her. Meanwhile, the cover by Coipel and Hollowell absolutely stuns me. The cover was also talked about in great detail at 1979 Semi-Finalist if you want to see the cover discussed in a bit more detail.

Overall, the story is strongly well-paced and it seems to me like Wolverine really has his hands full already. I really hope the best for Jubilee.

Grade: 8/10

X-Men Legacy

X-Men Legacy #244
Mike Carey (writer), Harvey Tolibao (penciler), Sandu Florea (inker), Brian Reber (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Joy Ang (cover). $2.99

On Utopia, Blindfold is having bizarre premonitions again. The last time she had ones this bad was before the Second Coming event and led to the ghost of Proteus attacking the X-Men on Muir Island. Fortunately for Blindfold, this time she’s on Utopia with friends. However, Blindfold is not the one narrating the story, and it seems to be someone watching all of the X-Men’s events.

Rogue as the now-undeclared-psychologist on Utopia, talks to Ruth to figure out what it all means. Unsure, Rogue goes to Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Madison Jeffries for help. While Rogue asks questions, Blindfold looks for answers. Eventually, she wanders off and is attacked by a creature left from Emplate’s dimension (back in X-Men Legacy #228). Rogue fights it off and saves Blindfold. However, the narrator of the story seems to fly over Utopia in some massive ship, glared out by the sun. So begins the Age of X.

I’ve always enjoyed Carey’s work. He’s been doing X-Men Legacy for quite some time now – which is before Messiah CompleX (late-2006), so he’s really sure on a ton of characters. Rogue has been the main focus for him for the past twenty-or-so issues, and he’s still doing an excellent job with her. She’s still refreshing to read about and speaks with everyone on Utopia. But given how the last-issue ended, I’m surprised this was not more about Hellion. With Blindfold’s unanswered questions, I’m left confused on what Age of X really is, thus leaving me with confusion. I am unsure of that’s a good thing.

Paul Davidson has been replaced with Harvey Tolibao for pencils and the quality level is noticeably different. Although Davidson is not a bad artist, Tolibao’s details and many full-body shots definitely ups the action in the story. However, Rogue’s breasts are again the focal point for many panels. I do not know why she would even wear a jacket like she does. To top it all off, is Rogue wearing grease on her breasts? I mean, there’s literally shiny reflections off of those things. It’s absolutely bizarre.

Bright colours by Reber are definitely welcomed. I do not even recall when I’ve seen so many bright colours on a page. Rogues green is really green. The demon in Gambit is really menacingly grey. Emma Frosts lips are. . . black? Okay, so there’s a few things which seem off, but mostly, the colors are jaw-dropping. Page 5 and 6 are really great from an inker’s perspective with everything properly balanced.

It wouldn’t have been a bad kick-off for the Age of X if I knew what was going on. Oh, and breasts don’t glitter.

Grade: 5/10

Next week! Keep on Space Truckin’! No wait.

Seriously. What the hell is going on here? Where did she get that grease from?

Rogue One

Rogue Two

Oh, and pardon my camera.

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’!