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 #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.
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.
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.
Now that I’m feeling 90% better, I can refocus on reviews again.
But first, I want to say how excited I am for an upcoming Marvel maxi-event. As I suggested in an earlier post, Alpha Flight would be back. Turns out I was right! What’s even better is that the Chaos War duo, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, are at the helm of this eight-issue series. Given the two are some of Marvel’s best writers, I am beyond excited to see how this series turns out. I clearly have foresight. Watch out during election time.
But on to the reviews!
Uncanny X-Force #5 Rick Remender (writer), Esad Ribic (pencils, cover), John Lucas (inker), Matt Wilson (colours), Cory Petit (letters). $3.99
Just when the triumphant ending of the last-issue could not make Uncanny X-Force any better of a comic, Remender continues his brilliant run with a brand-new arc featuring Fantomex. (And arguably, given the last issue, anyone could’ve seen this coming – and it’s awesome). In a nutshell, the X-Force team are trying to gather themselves post last issues events. The team gathers without Fantomex in Warren’s bunker to find out that Deadpool has called a meeting to discover Deadpool actually has feelings – and remorseful ones at that! Already Deadpool has been seen as an entirely different character in X-Force with hardly any humour coming from him at all. It’s also great when Wolverine recognizes that he’s being “pulled in all directions” when he complains he doesn’t have much time for meetings.
Meanwhile, early in the story, we learn Fantomex is growing a world. However, due to last issue’s events, he visits his “mother” in the French Alps when he is suddenly attacked by a cyborg Cyclops, Captain America, Elektra, and a few others! Barely escaping with EVA, they crash land only to be found by a particular cyborg who invokes “death.”
As previously stated, Remender’s run with Uncanny X-Force has been great so far. Necessary characterization push the stories boundaries to places where other writers seem to miss. However, I really want to speak about the art in this book – which really has carried the stories. Changing artists, Esad Ribic takes the helm of X-Force and really slams this comic home. One thing I usually dislike about changing artists is how the styles change so drastically between books. Ribic’s artwork, while on its own level, still echoes that of Jerome Opena’s, making the book have a great art transition. Then, of course, John Lucas and Matt Wilson take over with inks and colours which add incredible depths to the many different locations they have to work with. From winter, to underground, to a burning building with a cyborg-Thing being lit by fire – the duo accent Ribic’s art flawlessly, taking the grey-white tones from the previous arc on to a different level.
Why are you still reading this? Read or re-read Uncanny X-Force!
Generation Hope #4 Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin & Scott Koblish (pencils, inks), Frank Martin (colours), Dave Sharpe (letters), Olivier Coipel & Chris Sotomayor (cover). $2.99
One may ask why I continuously review this book after the hell I’ve put it through. Well, it’s because of issues like this – where it defies everything I’ve said in the past and pushes forward with an excellent story. That’s right: Generation Hope #4 has an excellent story and brilliant artwork. And you know what? It could’ve have happened without the past three-issues.
Generation Hope #4 really excels at storytelling as there is very little action to drown in. The Five Lights make it to Utopia unscathed, but all are shocked about the events which transpired in Tokyo. Remorse and excitement fills the new mutants as they try to figure out their own paths. After landing, Wolverine and Theo get the scuffle they wished to have in prior issues, while the rest settle in. Kenji – the villain in the first three issues – is brought before Scott and Emma to decide his fate. After revealing his sorrow and Emma finding out that the Tokyo incident was truly and accident, they accept Kenji into the island. Meanwhile, Dr. Nemesis puts the other Four Lights in tests to figure out their powers and limitations. Teon becomes like a protective dog to Hope, Hope kisses Gabriel, and Kenji becomes unsure with the future.
Definitely taking a change of pace, the storyline revolves around how the Five Lights interact with one another. No longer are they showing off their powers as so much they are trying to find themselves. In doing so, we get to see how they are as people, rather than weapons. I’d also have to give credit to both artists and colourists for making this the prettiest book I’ve seen from Generation Hope. Mixing Western art with anime in particular panels literally put a smile on my face – particularly one with Gabriel and Dr. Nemesis.
I’m already set for the next issue as this one – despite the lack of action – has me pumped for more.
Wolverine and Jubilee #2 Kathryn Immonen (writer), Phil Noto (pencils, inks, colours), Nathan Fairbairn & John Raunch (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Nimit Malavia (cover). $2.99
The Curse of the Mutants Aftermath continues as Jubilee was last seen in a shipping container with tons of dead bodies. Fortunately with Wolverine being at her side, he took her to Siberia – where the shipping container originated from. (Yes, the book just starts there.) Turns out, Wolverine recognized the shipping serial code and wants to believe Jubilee is innocent for the killings. He just can’t trust her yet. Due to Siberia’s constant overcast, Jubilee can go outside unharmed. Convenient!
Wolverine decides to take Jubilee out to fight her – for some “tough love,” and the two later settle in for the night at their hotel. The two are approached by the hotel’s owner and are told about how people and animals in the town are disappearing and the undead are walking. The two go to check out the area and Jubilee ends up fighting off a horde of zombie-esque creatures. Back at the hotel, Wolverine is then awoken to Jubilee kneeling at the door with the mysterious woman from the first issue grabbing on to her.
I want to love this issue, but I can’t due to the lack of intrigue. While I enjoy the Wolverine/Jubilee dynamics, I don’t really have a grasp to what is happening in Siberia until the last few pages. To top it off, the final page cliffhanger really was not so much of a shock as I don’t know who this woman is, nor do I necessarily care. I know she’s responsible for the massacre in the container, but I’m just not attached to the threat as of yet.
What saves the book is Noto’s great pencils. Seeing Jubilee in her X-uniform was very nostalgic for me and Noto’s great use of her costume when battling Wolverine certainly shone. I also have to comment on his work on faces as the large diversity in expressions gave a lot of character to the two as they are really the only ones in the book. The doom-and-gloom of Siberia’s landscape with colours and inks definitely held strong throughout the story. Days felt like nights with the longing forecast disallowing any positive moods to come from the town.
With a promising first issue and decent second one, Wolverine and Jubilee still have a lot of story to tell in two more issues.
As for favourite covers, this week’s favourite totally goes to Carlo Pagulayan for Silver Surfer #1.
Every Friday, I will review a classic comic from my personal collection.
For my classic comic feature this week, I’ve decided on a personal-favourite of mine, Uncanny X-Men #134 from June of 1980. It was written by the man who arguably made the X-Men who they are today, Chris Claremont. It was also co-written by artist John Byrne, the legend who drew the X-Men for their re-conception in the 70’s and 80’s. Needless to say, this was the X-Men’s A-Team. This is also the issue which gives readers the first appearance to Dark Phoenix!
What’s fantastic about this issue – or at least, what stands out for me – are two things. First is the excitement from panel-to-panel with the ensuing battle between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club. And second is the building up of Dark Phoenix.
The story actually trails issues before this one, where Jean Grey has been getting random dreams and flashes of being a queen with a man named Jason Wyngarde. After so many issues, Grey is fully tricked into being a queen and is brought to the Hellfire Club, where, along with Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, Jason Wyngarde, and Harry Leland, she becomes the Black Queen.
The X-Men in a few issues prior, go to save Jean, but are all captured. Luckily, Wolverine had eluded capture earlier and breaks in to save the day – only to be stopped by Jean under Wyngarde’s control. All seems lost, but Jean removes a helmet Cyclops was forced to wear to withhold his powers, and he blasts the X-Men free. It seems as if Jean was able to beat Wyngarde’s control. . .
With the X-Men free, they begin battle against the Hellfire Club with awesome panels drawn by Byrne. Colossus takes on Pierce and rips off one of his robot arms, while Leland takes on Wolverine and loses, of course.
Cyclops and Shaw battle it out. Although Shaw could absorb Cyclops’ blasts, Summers plays it smart and blows out the floor beneath Shaw, forcing him to fall.
Storm and Nightcrawler take on Shaw from the lower level, where Storm tries freezing the Black King. Shaw grabs Nightcrawler and throws him at Storm preventing a full-freeze. Defeated, Shaw escapes with Pierce and Leland into a secret passage within the club.
As the story winds down, we see that Wyngarde was not who he was – but instead Mastermind, generating queen illusion to Jean, as well as making the fake image of Jason Wyngarde. Mastermind tries to figure out how he lost, and the readers discover that it was not Jean Grey at all. In fact, Mastermind was playing mind-games with the Phoenix force itself!
Angry for being tricked for so long by Mastermind, Phoenix decides to destroy him for what he has done. In result, the fake-Jean opened his mind into all the feelings and sensations the Phoenix felt around the universe. Unable to handle such immense power in his mind, Mastermind fell into a coma.
Escaping the club, the X-Men regroup to the Blackbird and begin to leave. Cyclops tries to figure out what was wrong with Jean as she also seemed to be short with him on their way to the jet. After a few moments of gathering themselves, the X-Men turn around to see Jean floating in a red costume proclaiming, “No longer am I the woman you knew! I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever, I am Phoenix!”
And then the Blackbird blew up.
What a way to end a story, eh?
Claremont’s build up to such a dramatic story could not have been any better. No one, whether in the X-Men or the Hellfire Club could have known this was coming. Not even the readers knew, or were hinted at, that Jean Grey was not who she was. It came as a complete shock to all players for the comic.
Afterward, the Dark Phoenix Saga begins for a few issues, followed by the inevitable death of Jean Grey in issue #137, entitled “Phoenix Must Die!” I’m sure you’ve all seen the awesome cover. It’s also my profile picture on WordPress here.
One thing to definitely discuss is Bryne’s brilliant art throughout the comic. Panel-to-panel, the X-Men have to battle the Hellfire Club, and we have to see how each individual’s power affects the story. Wolverine versus Leland’s power to increase gravity to the people around him ended in failure as Wolverine jumped on Leland. Given his only was to generate weight, they both crashed through the floor, Leland obviously defeated.
Pierce’s battle with Colossus shows how Pierce just relies on brute strength rather than technique. The snapping of Pierce’s arm by Colossus’s technique brings one of those, “hell yes” moments to the page. Byrne’s great for that.
As for how X-men comics go, this was definitely one of the strongest X-Men comics I’ve ever read. X-Men, I’d argue, is my forté, so when I say this, I do mean it. Overall, this story – filled with plenty of surprises and great action – make obvious to why Claremont and Byrne’s run on the X-Men was so successful.
This week, I had only planned on picking up two comics. However, I completely forgot about – despite all the marketing – that Chaos War started today. As such, here are my reviews for two major-titles this week: Uncanny X-Force #1, and Chaos War #1.
These reviews may also contain spoilers.
Probably the most anticipated book since X-Men: Second Coming story arc, Uncanny X-Force blew into comic stores today, and I must say, did not disappoint. Written by Rick Remender with art by Jerome Opena, UXF delivered quality story-telling with superb art, and wonderful direction.
X-Force disbanded at the end of Second Coming earlier this year, with Wolverine re-assembling it under the nose of Cyclops. The roster features Archangel, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex, as they are on a quest to finally kill Apocalypse once and for all.
The story kicks off with some Deadpool heroics which sets up the rest of the story. My primary concern with the story would be separating both voices of Deadpool and Fantomex as I found both characters to be some-what the same in their humour and actions. I only felt this way as Bendis in the Avengers parent-title, has seemed to merge both Spider-Man and Hawkeye as one voice. However, this was not the case with Remender. We actually have two unique people adding significant character into the story. It was relieving to me.
The story goes into Archangel and Psylocke’s relationship and their concern for if “Death,” Archangel’s secondary mutation from Apocalypse, could take over. Although it was never really discussed in the prior X-Force comics, I can see how we are already being set up for future story arcs. I’m ecstatic. Plus Betsy and Warren are together. I love it.
Wolverine surprisingly does not have much to do with the main set up as the story. As the founder of X-Force, and it’s longest-running member since it’s most recent conception back in Messiah CompleX days, I can understand why they did not need to focus so much on Logan.
However, what the story does for the reader is wonderful. Brilliant colours and tones flush the pages, thanks to colourist Dean White. The comic has a mixed feelings of haze and impending doom with each turn. Opena’s art also stands out as nothing but spectacular. Wolverine versus a stone giant – who would not love it? Plus a wonderful final-page ending that leaves us all with “wtf” moments certainly will have us back for issue two.
Uncanny X-Force exceeded expectations and pushed out a grand story (with tons of variant covers) which will go down in to the comic history books.
Chaos War is something Marvel has been teasing us with for awhile now. Since the death of Hercules and his sudden return, I know I have been asking myself, “why kill him off only to bring him back months later?” Chaos War is the reason why – and I believe that the killing-off/bringing-back formula worked well for this comic.
Written by Incredible Hulk great Greg Pak, and Fred Van Lente, Chaos War begins with King Chaos killing Nightmare in his realm and taking it over, showing us what sort of power the King possesses. It is followed by Hercules’ return to Earth – warning its heroes of the impending doom the Chaos King will be soon bringing to the planet. What is really good is how Pak and Lente show how all the heroes react to Hercules’ return – not considering it relevant as Herc has always been considered a buffoon. Not this time.
Hercules returns alive from an alternate universe with immense power, given to him by his best friend, the Prince of Power, Amadeus Cho. Teaming with Thor, Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and many others, Hercules divides his new-power between all the heroes and brings them up to Nightmare’s realm to stop the Chaos King. So begins the Chaos War.
The story, I would consider to be a building up immense destruction. Although the main story is only a five-issue run, there will be plenty of one-shots and limited-series connected to the Chaos War, such as Dead Avengers, Alpha Flight, and Dead X-Men. It will be interesting to see how it all ties together. However, the story itself revolves around the re-building of Hercules’ character and the convincing of all other heroes that he is not the imbecile he once was. That’s fine. It was done well. However, I felt a lot of filler in the story, such as an unnecessary battle with other gods. Although I can understand they were added for showing us the severity of the Chaos King – we did not need the mini side-plot.
Khoi Pham’s art though, should not be over-shadowed. Great detailing with Hercules, as well as Nightmare’s realm, really stood out as two unique points in the book. Nightmare’s realm being a disaster zone with death and chaos, was greatly drawn and I could personally feel the horror within the realm. And with Hercules, his body, his face, everything was immensely detailed and clearly displayed. Why I only say Hercules is because I felt as if the rest of the characters were somewhat thrown into the story at the last second. Once panel shows all the heroes flying upwards to Nightmare’s realm, and it is clear that only Hercules had the most attention put on him. I digress. . .
Chaos War will be an immensely popular series, I’m sure. It involves most of the Marvel U and is argued to be better than the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Where this will take us, I do not know. But I am interested to see how it will be executed.