Posts tagged “X-Men

On #fourcomics and That Feeling

Yesterday, writer Jim Zub started a hashtag on Twitter that quickly took off into this glorious internet waterfall of remarkable comics.  There’s lots of great stuff there with both creators and fans chiming in that definitely makes it worth scrolling through the tag.

I did, of course, share my own four.

It started with my older brothers’ comics.  A few Aquaman, but mostly stuff like G.I. Joe and Punisher and I remember one cover that had Nick Fury on it, but I can’t recall if it was a S.H.I.E.L.D. comic or Howling Commandos or what.  Those ones never appealed to 7-year-old me, but Aquaman … oh my God, Aquaman … with his pretty blonde hair on that cover, so colorful and happy looking—that definitely drew me in.  I would sit and read those comics in the attic when my brothers weren’t home so they didn’t know I was touching them.  And while Aquaman himself was amazing, I eventually met Mera and couldn’t believe how beautiful she was and how fierce.  That is my earliest memory of comics, and when I think about it I still get that same feeling I had when I read them so long ago.  That warm, incredible feeling that something like this could exist—characters like that could exist.  I wish my brothers still had those issues, but none of us have been able to find them for years, and I’m lost as to what happened to them.

I still have my hands on that Ren & Stimpy, which was the first comic I ever consciously chose for myself, picked up off the rack at the comics shop during a trip with my brothers.  Calvin & Hobbes came after, a collection that my sister had and encouraged me to read again and again.  Most of the jokes and brilliance of that book were quite far over my head at the time, but it was still enjoyable and further fueled the addiction.  I just recently asked my sister if I could have that well-loved copy of Calvin, but was met with a resounding no.  (In fact, I think the exact words were “HECK NO, I love that book.”)

As my siblings got older, spent more time being social, and eventually outgrew comics, my access to the good stuff took a big hit.  It wasn’t until my preteen years when I was on a trip with my parents and happened to walk into a bookstore that—shock!—sold comics, that my love for them was reignited.  They had collections of re-printed arcs, and I remember seeing an X-Men cover with Savage Land Rogue on it.  That was the moment it was all over.  The deed was done, the cement block of love walloped me on the head, and I was finished.  I saw that issue and thought I MUST HAVE THIS.

And I did have it.

And it was like a drug.

I was already a huge Rogue fan, having grown up watching the X-Men animated series, so realizing that the story was still going and that I could, in fact, get more of it was life-changing.  I continue to collect X-Men to this day.  And while there’s more to my particular history of comics—working in a comic shop, branching out to genres outside of superhero, even sacrificing comics for a time—the one constant has been that feeling I always get when I pick up a book that speaks to me.  It’s a feeling that no other medium can replicate.  Like going home.

The #fourcomics trend from yesterday gave me that feeling a hundred times over.

I’m scouring eBay for that issue of Aquaman.

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These things are important because I like them.

Guess what, guys?!  I read, like, twelve comics last week!  That is HUGE for me!  Stuff is really happening!

Here are some things I wanted to share with you until my next post:

The incredible Phil Noto did a staggeringly awesome cover for Journey into Mystery featuring Sif and you need to see it.

Noto Sif JiM

Gorgeous!

Next, more awesomeness:  Peter V. Nguyen’s new DC women print is here and, uh, wow.  It’s too big to embed here and I didn’t want to re-size or scrunch it up, so check it out in full-size glory at the link.

Also, if you followed the 2012 Olympics at all, you might find this as hilarious as I did.  I am totally buying this cover.

 

Finally, one thing I’ve been meaning to mention again since back in July is a project called How i Made the World.  You LGUTMmay recall I linked to the comic earlier this year as an “honorable mention” in the list of web stuff I’d been following.  The artist of the comic, Randy Michaels, was kind enough to send me some of his and writer Liz Plourde’s material that was published in an anthology called Lies Grown Ups Told Me.  That collection wound up winning a Stumptown Comic Arts Award for Best Anthology.  It’s some pretty great stuff, and if you can get your hands on a copy (it seems the print run was low, so that might be a task), I’d highly recommend the read.

But the even better news is that Randy and Liz were awarded the Xeric Grant in July.  They write on their website:

We’d discussed applying for a Xeric grant since we first began work on How i Made the World.  When we heard there would be one final comic book review, we knew we had to apply.  Yet, we also knew the competition would be fierce.  Entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada are judged on “originality, literary and artistic merit, and a sense of commitment to the work.”  […]  Today, we’re thrilled to announce we are the recipients of a 2012 Xeric Award.  The grant is to be used for the printing, advertising, and distribution of our comic book, the pilot issue of How i Made the World.  We’ve enjoyed the comic books of past Xeric recipients for years.  They are among the most entertaining and innovative independent comic books being published, and they are often included in Houghton Mifflin’s annual The Best American Comics.  We’re deeply honored to be among those recognized by the foundation.  We’ll be working on the final stages of our comic and preparing it for press in the coming months.  Stay tuned!  This is only the beginning.

So here’s a late congrats to the team, and I look forward to reading more!

 

 


Review: X-Men Legacy #260.1

Hi, gang!  Surely you must have known when I promised a new post in “a couple of days,” that it meant over a week, right?  Of course you did!  Sorry, Sleepers.  I have been decidedly rubbish in several different ways this week.  I don’t just fall or trip up, but rather take spectacular dives off long cliffs.

The pile of catch-up reading continues to grow ever more, and I am slowly working on a couple of different pieces for your reading pleasure.  In between, there’s been much news about various things, some of it just god-awful, and some of it bad to the point of hilarity, and some of it outright awesome.  Great stuff to write about; even better stuff to use as fodder for chats at the comic shop.

Here’s a review.

 

X-Men Legacy #260.1X-Men Legacy #260.1
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by David Baldeon, Jordan Tarragona
Cover by Mark Brooks
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

I’ve been dreading the coming of this issue for a while, as it marks the end of what was a remarkable and celebrated run by Mike Carey on this book.  I’ve expressed my love for Mr. Carey on several occasions here, and when his departure from this book was announced, my reaction was flat-out depression.  I also may or may not have acted like a child who lost her favorite toy (“But WHY?!  Why does this have to happen?!  Goodbye, favorite title!  I hate comics!”); waah, waah, waaaah, and so forth.

I know, I’m really building up my credibility here, aren’t I?  Take the above with a grain of salt.  (Sort of.)

Tantrum aside, when I learned that Christos Gage would be taking the reins of X-Men Legacy, I was actually quite … relieved.  Some of you may know Christos as a friend of the store and a Worcester native, but more importantly, he’s a very talented writer.  Christos is putting out some great work on Avengers Academy and Angel & Faith right now, but the only work of his I’ve read has been miscellaneous issues of Avengers Academy and a quick guest-stint he did on Amazing Spider-Man last year (which I loved).  I’ve since gone back to pick up the first AA trade, but the catch up process, as you know, can take a while for me.  Ultimately, the feelings of trepidation subsided and I started to look forward to Christos’ debut issue.

I’m happy to say I wasn’t let down.

Writing a team book, let alone an X-Men book, can be quite challenging, but Christos Gage makes it look easy.  He does very well in splitting panel time between team members and students, and does so in a manner that helps make the story flow as oppose to hinder it via too many scene transitions.

If you’ve ever attempted to learn how to drive a car that has a manual gearbox, you know that one of the harder things to get down is just getting the car moving out of first gear and shifting smoothly into second.  The first few tries, you’re likely to clunk around, stall it once or twice, and find your head bobbing against the headrest with every release of the clutch.  Reading a team book where a writer doesn’t transition well can be a similar experience–the story is thumpy, you’re starting and stopping, and the result is little to no flow.  But with this issue of X-Men Legacy, I’d read through to the final page without even realizing I’d taken in so much story so quickly.  Because it just kept going … until it didn’t.  And I like that.

One of the big things about Mike Carey’s run that endeared me to him was his development of Rogue as a character.  Anyone who has been following along knows that she has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of her role in Legacy, and a factor I feared the most in Carey’s departure was the idea of Rogue being relegated to the background once more.  Goodbye, leadership role.  Goodbye, panel time.  Goodbye, power control.  These were things I had waited decades as a reader to see for Rogue, and the potential threat of regression terrified me.

Happily—as in, GOOD GOD WHAT A RELIEF—this doesn’t seem to be the case.  At least, not yet.  What’s awesome here is that if no one told me that the writer had been replaced, in my glee reading this, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.  The changeover is relatively seamless; Gage plays off of Carey’s groundwork while shifting Rogue’s team to its new status at the Jean Grey School.  It’s great to watch this group interacting with the X-kids again, and Gage wraps it all up with a fun little surprise at the end of the issue—a surprise you could likely see coming, but still great to read nonetheless.

Before reading this issue, I checked out a couple of reviews online and was surprised to find a mixed, below-average reaction.  Among the chief complaints are the artwork, which I have to agree with—while not outright bad in skill, it’s a little too … “cartoony” and … well, straight-up ugly for my taste.  I miss Clay Mann on this title and am hoping the current artist isn’t on for the long haul.  An X-Men book like this should only be saddled with a steady, consistent artist, and I’m learning that very little of that exists at Marvel (I’m looking at you, Captain America/Wolverine & X-Men/X-23/Secret Avengers/Thor/you-name-it).

Aside from butt ugly art, I’m also hearing that Rogue’s casual borrowing of other’s powers in this issue is uncharacteristic of her.  I have to argue otherwise, as Mike Carey spent a long time crafting the idea of her becoming comfortable with the use of her powers, and I’m loving the more free-spirited vibe Christos gives her here.  Especially in the context of the training scene, where she’s preparing the students for an element of surprise, I don’t see it as disrespectful but rather fairly inventive.  Just my take.

That said, this is probably one of the longer reviews I’ve done in a while about a comic I’m pleased with, so that should tell you something about my confidence in this title moving forward.  I’m psyched to have Christos on board, and happily, still looking forward to X-Men Legacy.


Reviews? What Reviews?

MarvelHaven’t picked up my comics in a couple of weeks, nor have I had the time to read what I have, so it’s going to be a review-less weekend.  To satiate your appetite, head on over to Nerd Caliber for a little ditty I wrote up on Marvel’s 2012 event, Avengers vs. X-Men, and check out some of their other fun features as well.


Post-Turkey Day Reviews

Hello.  Have we all recovered from our food comas yet?  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It’s tough being back to work after four lovely days off, but such, I suppose, is life.  At least there is always the promise of Wednesday and new comics.

 

Princeless #2Princeless #2
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

So … are you reading Princeless yet?  Was my earlier review of issue #1 not convincing enough?  Because I’m going to hound you all relentlessly until I get some messages saying “Yay, you’re so right, Princeless is awesome!”

Oh, issue #2—you were everything for which I’d hoped.  Princess Adrienne’s story is continued, but this time around the narrative voice is shifted in the beginning from being Adrienne’s to that of her brother, Prince Devin.  When their belligerent father, the King, is misinformed that Princess Adrienne is dead (having fled the tower atop her dragon at the end of the last issue), Devin is devastated by what’s happened to his sister and the thought that he may have had a hand in her death.  Ooohhh, yeah—weren’t expecting that, were you?  You’ll just have to read the issue to learn what I mean.  There’s a lot more that happens here, but I can’t tell you about it without an insane amount of gushing.

Jeremy Whitley’s writing keeps its momentum from issue one, and the hilarity doesn’t stop either.  A couple of scenes in particular had me laughing out loud as I read this on one of my train commutes, and the ending left me disappointed in the sense that I was sad there had to be one at all.  Two issues in, and I feel like I’ve known these characters for a while.  They’re well-developed, well-rounded, and well-illustrated.  Wonderful, wonderful comics being made.

This book is just a blast, and I’m so happy I found it.  In a week where DC didn’t release any of their New 52, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out something else and breathe a breath of fresh air instead of the same old constant disappointment.

Please read this book, and please pass it along.  I absolutely cannot fathom that you’d regret it.

 

Captain America & Bucky #624Captain America & Bucky #624
Written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hmm.  What can I say about this one?  I’m kind of stupid about Bucky and Natasha.  They’ve only been a relatively recent discovery for me and I really, really love the pair … my reasons are myriad.  So whenever I see the promise of some Bucky and Natasha team-up, I’m all on it.  But this was a little bit of a letdown.

The issue started off very well.  The story is set in the early days of the Winter Soldier, and Brubaker and Andreyko use it to delve into some of Bucky’s past conditioning.  We get peaks of his early missions and the formation of his romance with Black Widow, and all is well.  We also see Bucky begin to defy his programming—the writing is strong, and I have to shout out to Chris Samnee, who really draws some excellent stuff.  His style is wonderfully suited to the “throw back” feel of the book, giving it a unique flavor that’s separate from that of the main Captain America title.

I began this by telling you that the issue was a letdown.  Then I told you the writing is good and the art is great, so obviously I’m not making much sense here, right?

I guess I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing.  I think the problem is that I’m sitting here reading this issue, things are moving, I’m getting really into what’s happening, and then … it’s over.  It just sort of … ends, and not in a “to be continued next issue” way.  At first I wondered if my copy was missing some pages or something—that’s how confused I was.  I even went online and read some web reviews, but the three reviews I read all loved the issue and said nothing much further.  I’m thinking I’m the only one who was left with this hanging feeling.  If the book were an electronic device, could we chalk this up to “user error”?  Did I somehow read the book wrong?

Despite my confusion, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, and if you’re a Bucky fan or a Black Widow fan, it’s worth the pickup.  Past that, I’m still trying to figure it out, but if the writing here is any indication of Brubaker’s new upcoming Winter Soldier title, I’ll definitely be picking that up.

 

Wolverine & the X-Men #2Wolverine & the X-Men #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Chris Bachalo
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

I had some qualms about this title and the team split that resulted from Schism, but since the X-Men are essentially what got me into comics in the first place, I always tend to follow at least one or two of their books.  I read through the Schism event, and while I wasn’t impressed with it to start, the latter issues picked up the pace and I found myself a little more invested in the central argument of what was happening—should the X-kids be mutantkind’s soldiers, per Cyclops, or should they be children and students, per Wolverine?  You can see the pull for both sides, and the depiction of that gray area is what makes this so interesting.

So as much as I dislike the title of this and the emphasis that’s continually placed on Wolverine, the lure of most of my favorite characters siding with him as well as the promise of Chris Bachalo’s artwork convinced me to pick it up.

I’m not disappointed.  The first issue was a lot of fun, centering on Wolverine and Kitty trying to prep the newly-built Jean Grey School for opening day—and Jason Aaron’s writing was strong.  It continues to be so with issue #2, which is full of action.  Usually when an issue of a comic is nonstop action, I actually get kind of bored, because my favorite thing about comics is character interaction.  I like dialogue, I like getting in characters’ heads, I like seeing them play off of one another.  You know when Bendis writes pages and pages of Avengers where the characters are just talking and talking and talking?  A lot of people seem to hate that, but I love the stuff.  It’s vastly more interesting to me than watching the X-Men battle a giant monster for 24 pages straight.  If they aren’t saying things to one another—if I’m not learning anything about anyone by watching them fight, then for me, that “action” is boring.

Lucky enough, this seems to be where Jason Aaron shines.  The majority, if not the entirety, of issue two was the X-Men in a fight, and I was not disinterested once.  Aaron seems to have struck the perfect balance between action and character development.  We have an opening scene where Iceman unleashes his oft-discussed “potential” against the bad guys; there are shots of the X-kids holding their own while conversation and even romance brews.  There are great things here.

That said, it’s definitely not my perfect book.  For one thing, I really dislike the villains—not in the “oh man, these guys are so evil” kind of way, but more in the “wow, these guys are so lame” kind of way.  A group of rich, genius evil children taking over the Hellfire Club doesn’t do it for me.  I just have trouble buying it, and that’s all on Aaron.  His setup for them in Schism felt hackneyed and contrived, and I have no feelings invested in the group whatsoever.  I can’t connect, and really at this point, I just want the X-Men to defeat them and get it over with so they can move on to their next set of villains.

Despite that, I’m definitely enjoying this new title so far, and I’m optimistic that we can look forward to it being consistently good story-wise.  However…

In my last review of the Captain America, I complained that Steve McNiven was the artist on the book for only six issues.  Well, Bachalo’s got him beat, because he’ll be off of this after issue #3, with Nick Bradshaw taking over.  I cannot tell you how much this pains/saddens/infuriates me, and it’s taking a high degree of restraint not to fill this paragraph with cuss words.  While it isn’t a HUGE surprise that Bachalo’s tenure here is brief—I can’t remember the last time he actually stayed on a book past a few issues—it’s still a huge tease to be reeled in like this, only to have half the creative team change within three issues.  This is NOT the way to launch a new title, Marvel, and the habit is becoming unbearable.  And for goodness’ sake, this book is four bucks.  FOUR BUCKS!  Argh!  Infuriating.  Depending on how Bradshaw’s art is, this title may or may not be on a short leash for me.  Let’s give it a few more and then re-evaluate.

 


A Mixed Bag of Reviews

I guess my Monday deadline somehow morphed into Thursday….

Hello, readers. Guess what? I read some books! And I have opinions about them! Shocker, I know. Also, I totally lied with half those covers I posted last week. Sorry about that.

 

Batgirl #3Batgirl #3
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I’m sad. :(

I’m sad because I really want to like this title. I really, really do. But it’s so … it’s so … I don’t know how to explain why it isn’t working for me. I guess, when it comes down to it, honestly … it doesn’t feel like Barbara. It just doesn’t feel like her to me. This new role of hers, it’s so … “forced” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s not Barbara—not the one I know—and that’s kind of shocking considering that Barbara Gordon is Gail Simone’s bread and butter. If anyone at all understands that character, it’s Gail—they’re practically interchangeable. Yet, as much as I want this to succeed, it just isn’t firing for me.

I wish I could explain it better … it’s just not right. It doesn’t feel right. And the writing style … there’s so much narration. That worked in Gail’s Birds of Prey when you needed the POVs of several characters, but it’s not clicking here. There’s too much of it; there’s too much telling and not enough showing. It’s so flat, and I … I don’t know how much more of this I can back. And that makes me so, so sad.

You know what else? I have read this story before. I think that’s what’s really bothering me more than anything here, is that it still feels like we’re going backwards. Which, we are—literally, we’re dialing back the clock in terms of character ages and whatnot, but I also mean to say that we’re going backwards allegorically. The stories and the progressions of these characters have taken giant steps downward. This idea of a character called Batgirl finding her footing—I have read this before. I read it in Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run, and I even read it in Chuck Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One. Why am I reading it again? I’m not getting anything different this time, not one bit. Barbara healing and regaining use of her legs is only influencing this story on a very minor level—it isn’t enough to make these issues feel fresh or different. This issue was all about reuniting Batgirl and Nightwing. I should have been moved by it, but I wasn’t. Not even close. I put this book down, blinked a few times, and wondered what was wrong with me for leaving it feeling absolutely nothing.

So … what does one do in this situation? Do I keep reading this in the hope that once the groundwork is laid and some of the setup “fluff” is out of the way, I might have a more interesting story? Might I feel more for this character by issue #13, as opposed to issue #3, and is it even fair to have to wait that long? Ardian Syaf’s artwork has been great. Other than that, I haven’t got much. A part of me doesn’t want to give up on the title, because I do love Barbara and this is apparently the only Barbara that I’m going to get for the foreseeable future. I also have a certain level of faith and respect for Simone, and I want to be able to lean on that. But with every issue of this so far, I’ve only left feeling disappointment. And I never thought I’d say that.

 

Infinite Vacation #3Infinite Vacation #3 (of 5)
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50

 

…And with that, an interesting idea turns into utter horse poop, as Nick Spencer fills this issue with preachy drivel and a needlessly despicable downturn that I guess is meant to be humor. Biggest waste of $3.50. To say I was mortified while reading this on the train is a massive understatement. And to top things off, I read the solicit for #4 to find it isn’t even due on the shelves until April. Buhbye; I’m OUT.

 

 

 

Magneto: Not a Hero #1Magneto: Not a Hero #1 (of 4)
Written by Scottie Young
Illustrated by Clay Mann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I was a little worried when this was first solicited, because with a title like “Not a Hero,” my immediate thoughts were that they were turning Magneto into a villain again. That would be the worst thing you could do to the character in my opinion, and just as bad a regression as Barbara Gordon re-donning the Bat cowl. Magneto has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I’ve always enjoyed him as a villain, but I find I love him even more on the side of the angels. His presence is still so very grey—he’s so ambiguous, and in the hands of a writer who knows how to use it, that’s an invaluable quality. And so I shook my fist at the sky for a bit at the thought that this wonderful drama might be taken away for something as utterly boring as Magneto turning “bad” again. Happily, upon reading this issue, I find that this is not the case. Not yet, anyway.

Our introduction to this story centers around what is something of a storytelling cliché—Magneto is being framed for murder. Exciting, right? Bet you’ve never read anything like that before. It’s okay, though, because there are things here that make up for the questionable originality, and by the end of issue one, we can see that ultimately the story is going to deal with much more than who’s framing Magneto. I have to hand it to Skottie Young—everyone knows him for his great artistic talents, but he’s making a transition to writing here, and he’s not doing a bad job of it at all. It most certainly beats out a majority of the crap you see on the Marvel shelves these days, and rather easily at that. Young has a good handle on the characters in issue one, particularly in a scene that involves Captain America and Iron Man calling out Cyclops and Mags to get their act together. The cliffhanger reveal at the end—I really should have seen it coming. I can’t believe I didn’t. It’s some good stuff.

And Clay Mann on art duties … wow. What can I possibly say to do this guy justice? In a short couple of years, he’s hands-down become one of my favorites, and every book he’s on makes me drool a little bit. He’s wonderful. He’s coming to Boston Comic Con next year, and I am getting a sketch from him if I have to wait in line all weekend. Outstanding.

Did this book blow my mind? No, but it did some things well, did other things great, and was all around an enjoyable read. I wasn’t asking for much more than that.

 

Princeless #1Princeless #1 (of 4)
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Price: $3.99

 

More happiness! Have you seen this little bit of WIN called Princeless #1? Well if you haven’t, then you’re sorely missing out.

It’s soooooo great. It’s so great. I remember reading about this on the internet somewhere and I wasn’t really planning on checking it out, but then I found it on the shelf and read the first three pages and was like OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. Three pages—that’s all it took. And, you know, that’s kind of a big deal in a situation where you’re paying four bucks for a book when you weren’t anticipating having the expense at all. But this was so worth it, and I absolutely can’t wait to have the next issue in my hands.

This is a story about a princess named Adrienne who grows up being read stories about other princesses who get locked up in towers and have to be rescued by handsome princes who slay dragons and ultimately win the princesses’ hearts. Adrienne is baffled and outraged by this idea, criticizing and belittling the stories, and makes her mother promise her not to lock her up in a tower, only … of course you know that’s exactly what happens, right? The resulting scenario is nothing short of hilarious, adorable, brave, and pretty much unlike anything else on the comic racks right now. Whitley’s writing is beyond clever, and I found myself laughing at something on every page of the book. It’s smart enough for adults to enjoy, yet still written with a young audience in mind. This is exactly the type of thing you should be giving to the little girls in your life. Introduce them to comics now, with this. And actually, I take that back—it isn’t just for little girls; not even close. Adrienne is not the only character in this book—don’t let the “princess” thing fool you. Boys will enjoy this as well, and I encourage you to pick it up to find out why.

If I could get you to read one book and only one book this week, I would give you Princeless #1, and I wouldn’t even blink.

 

Uncanny X-Force #17Uncanny X-Force #17
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Jerome Ope
ña
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

 

Since the debut of this title, I’ve had nothing but praise for Uncanny X-Force and Rick Remender. That hasn’t changed yet, and I don’t see it on horizon any time soon. Just when I think the story has reached a plateau and couldn’t possibly get any better, another issue comes out and BAM—I’m smacked in the face with the awesome.

The problem with loving a book this much is that it makes it insanely difficult to review. When you have no criticisms, there isn’t much left to say beyond shameless, unabashed gushing. And you have to admit, that’s kind of boring to read.

But I literally have nothing bad to say. There is nothing I would change about this book—not a thing. Not the writing, not the pencils, not the pacing, not the colors. Well … I suppose I might change the price … and maybe I’d make it ship twice a month, because I can’t get enough of it. But that’s all. Not much to ask.

If you’ve been subbing to this title, you know that Remender has been building up the Dark Angel Saga for quite some time—since day one, in fact. It’s some of the most well-timed and patient writing I’ve seen in recent memory. The thing I love about this book is that when I pick up an issue, I can tell that Remender has taken his time with it. He isn’t writing with collected editions in mind or decompressing the story, as one might accuse of Bendis’ Avengers titles. No; there’s a level of thought and care and precision to what Remender does, and it comes through in his scenes and character interplay. It’s harmonious. It’s a melody to which I never want to stop listening. If even a quarter of the other books Marvel puts out demonstrated this much attention to their craft, I’d be a much happier comics reader.

Jerome Opeña on art is no different. You look at these pages, and you know instantly that these babies were not rushed to meet looming deadlines. Opeña is careful, crafty, and deliberate, and the results are a joy.

On the surface, this is a black ops book. It’s assassinations and unspeakable deeds; it’s an X-Men book that’s not very X-Men-like. But read deeper, and you know these characters are about much more than that. This isn’t just about taking out threats before they become threats; this is a story of addiction, inferiority, self-worth and self-hate, fear and perceived altruism … and so much more. But Remender lets you figure that out for yourself; it’s underlying, and he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I love that. The mark of a good writer.

Big changes are coming up for this team, and I can’t wait to find out what Remender has planned for the next year of this book. Best one on the X-shelf.

 


1988 called. It wants Rob Liefeld back.

Hahaaha, oh my.  This is getting worse and worse.  Rob Liefeld on a new Hawk and Dove series?  I just might have to buy that.  The 90s are coming … I’m getting my suspenders ready!

As I try to quell my heartache over all of the DC news this week, I offer you some blurb reviews.  I didn’t realize until I was finished that they’re all Marvel.  There’s a chance that’ll become more often the case in the coming months.

And also, let me clarify one thing:  despite what the last issue of the newsletter said, “Suicide Girls” was damn well NOT my pick of the week.  You can thank my comic shop colleagues for that loving display of antagonism and embarrassment … but I suppose I had it coming.  :)
  

The Mighty Thor #2The Mighty Thor #2 – I was surprised to like this book.  Given my tendency to dislike Matt Fraction’s writing, my expectations for this title weren’t very high.  The main factor that convinced me to pick it up is Olivier Coipel pulling art duties, and I was right to fall for it, because he shines as bright as ever.  His crisp style does the same wonders for Thor here as it did during Coipel’s run with JMS not long ago, and his representation of the Silver Surfer is seriously awesome.  Story-wise, it’s nothing particularly ground-breaking yet, but entertaining enough without feeling as lethargic as I usually find Fraction to be (more on that below, unfortunately).  The plot involves Thor getting hurt while retrieving the World Seed, while the Silver Surfer warns earth of Galactus’ impending arrival.  So far there’s a nice split of focus between Thor, Odin, Loki, and Sif (my favorite—I bet that doesn’t surprise you), and it’s just fallen into this groove of “light reading” for me.  The title doesn’t seem to cross over much into Journey into Mystery so far, which is the better book of the two, but I wonder if that doesn’t have to change at some point.  I’m sticking with this and drooling over Coipel’s artistic candy for now.
  

Fear Itself Book ThreeFear Itself #3 – **SPOILERS**
I knew I shouldn’t be reading this.  I knew I shouldn’t have bothered, but here I am, never one to resist the horror.  My warm feelings for Matt Fraction don’t extend far beyond the above Mighty Thor post, readers, because—I’m sorry—this is some lazy, dumb shit we’ve got going on here.  Okay—I’m going to completely avoid all the other nitpicks I have with this issue and just focus on the one big one, which is BUCKY.  Poor, poor, dear old Bucky.  It’s a testament to the languid storytelling here that by the end of the issue, I wasn’t even sure if he was actually dead.  I had to take to the internet and get other people’s reactions in order to know for sure what was going on.  Even the incredible Stuart Immonen couldn’t save this for me, and from what I’ve read, I wasn’t the only one left confused.  But, yes—it’s confirmed that Bucky is very dead.  Again.  And I cannot for the life of me understand why they thought this would be a good idea.  So Marvel wants Steve back as Cap?  Okay, fine.  Let’s do it.  But that is absolutely no reason for Bucky to have to die.  Marvel brought him back against a bunch of pissing and moaning from the fans, gave him to Brubaker who turned him into a really great character and let the spotlight shine on him for a couple of years, won all the fans over and now they’re taking all that and throwing it away just for one poorly-constructed scene in an event book.  It makes no sense.  It doesn’t sell any extra copies of the book, it didn’t add anything to the scene, and it didn’t take away from how blah and boring the rest of the story has been.  It was nothing.  Just a nothing scene.  Despite my love for the character, I felt absolutely nothing reading this.  Not to mention it made no sense at all to keep him completely out of the first two books, then turn around in issue three and off him out of nowhere.  WHAT?  That is damn LAZINESS, Matt Fraction—LAZY.  YOU MAKE KITTY CRY.
  

Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1 – Rob Williams writes this issue in place of the tag team of Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu.  I’m not sure if this is a permanent change or just a fill in—I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Marjorie Liu won’t be co-writing anymore, but I could be wrong.  At any rate, the title’s been a little hit and miss for me.  I enjoyed most of the earlier stuff, but as soon as the crossover with X-23 happened, I got a little turned off.  With that done and over now, all of the attention is rightfully back on Daken.  Despite the “point one” suggestion that this is a good jumping on point to read the book, it really wouldn’t hurt to go out of your way and pick up the stuff that came before it.  It’ll only give you a fuller sense of the story and a better understanding of Daken as a character.  Issue #9.1 mainly deals with Daken ascertaining his dominion over … well, himself, really—who he is, what he’s about, and the fact that he’s not Wolverine.  As the issue opens with one of Daken’s victims chastising him with the reality that all he ever does is destroy—never does he create anything—Daken actually takes it to heart and decides to act.  How he acts, I’ll leave it for you to see, but something kind of falls flat this issue.  While the story idea isn’t terrible, it’s also not particularly strong, and just feels a bit recycled.  That said, the impression we’re left with is that Daken will be launching into something better moving forward.  Ron Garney on art is, like the story itself, hit and miss, but I haven’t given up on this yet.  Let’s see what the next few issues bring.
  

Uncanny X-Force #11Uncanny X-Force #11 – The Apocalypse personality continues to cause trouble for our dear Warren Worthington in the lastest issue of what has easily become one of my favorite comics on the shelf, and it’s up to the rest of the X-Force team to cure Warren of what ails him.  Unfortunately, curing him means trusting in Dark Beast of the AoA and following him back into his own time in order to procure the life seed (what’s with the “seed” theme this month?) that will temper the Apocalypse personality within Warren.  The character interaction here is great, not only among team members, but also with the surprise guests that pop up from the Age of Apocalypse timeline.  You know when I said that X-Men: Legacy was the best X-book out there right now, and that the rest is toilet paper?  Well, at the time I said that, I’d apparently forgotten about Uncanny X-Force.  This title has been oh-my-word good since issue one, and Rick Remender is showing no signs of slowing down.  This is the quality of writing—character, plot, and setting—that I look for in every book I pick up each month, but only seem to get in a handful.  If that.  I’ll take this over the 800 Fear Itself tie-ins any day.