11/14/07 – a present missed

November 14, 2007

So, to celebrate my birthday, they decided to ship The Black Dossier. Woot! Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned on it, and didn’t have the 30 large required for it. I did have about 20 medium sized ones to drop for this pile though:

Astonishing X-Men #23

These two things have been said before, but I have to say them again, although possibly slightly differently.

1) This series comes out too infrequently to matter. It’s supposed to be the flagship title, when instead it’s just a mostly ignored, possibly autistic, but incredibly sexy step-sister that you’re not afraid to sleep with because, really, who’s she going to tell? Plus, she looks like she knows what she’s doing…those lines, those curves, that girl has eXperience, if you know what I’m saying. Try her, you won’t regret it.

2) Due to its infrequence, the other titles all have to ignore its plot points, thus rendering it even less valuable. Valuable to who? Continuity whores like me. That’s right, whores have little use for sexy step-sisters, even though they might be briefly tempted to try the girl-on-girl lifestyle, they know that there will be no long term emotional value gained from said investment. That being said, the whore will still experiment, because damn is that autistic-sexy-step-sister fuckhot to turn a girl. She is.

Translation for those of you who got lost: This book is a great read. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t matter. The main plot point that could ostensibly come out of this (Cyke with his powers without a visor, which I’ve been waiting forever for) is already being ignored in the current Messiah CompleX line – so we know it somehow gets undone next issue. Or, even worse, just completely ignored.

Avengers, The Initiative #7

A title I never thought I’d like, and picked up on a whim based on how interesting the Civil War fallout plot points were, and how strong the current Avengers franchise is (nevermind the fact that this is not quite an Avengers book. OK, well maybe it is, like ForceWorks was…).

In case you hadn’t guessed, I like this title. I like it a lot. It’s very well written – Dan Slott is/was a great find for Marvel. He made She-Hulk interesting for deity’s sake! Not interesting enough for me to buy, but interesting enough to read when I was bored. His style reminds me a little bit of Peter David’s (maybe just because PD is following his run on She-Hulk so I’m subconsciously conflating them) and Fabien Nicieza’s. In the sense that they show you what continuity is for. They show you how strong and wonderful a story you can weave out of the plans and accidents that have been laid by a hundred writers before them. This is in contrast to someone like Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis, who show you how well the complete opposite can work.

This issue in particular was probably my least favorite – because I really don’t care about Spider-Man, and this is mostly a Spider-Man story – but still a very good read. It does show Justice letting loose with a bit of that New Warriors angst, as he and Cloud 9 go hunting after the mystery of the not-so-dead MVP. Slott is doing a great job of laying out plot threads and plucking just the right ones to pick back up on – I’m loving it! Gah, I can’t believe I just typed that. Fuck you McDonalds!

Avengers, New #36

Continuing the Hood arc, and weaving in and out of whatever SHOULD be happening in Mighty Avengers. A great read, would be about 3x better if Mighty was on schedule.

The scenes they show from the overlap definitely seem like they will suck a bit of the wind out of the sails of reading Mighty, but who knows, the x-over point is still 2 issues away. Hopefully they do some scheduling magic (dropping a Mighty arc, or even inserting a tangent arc in New – I have a feeling thats what the Luke/Jessica “breakup” issue is for) will fix this in time for the Secret Invasion stuff.

Not much else to say here, if you know and love Bendis, this is more of the same, and you’ll know and love it just like I do.

I do wish there had been more of a nod to Wolverine & Black Widow’s shared past though, even though they only had a few panels together.

Uncanny X-Men #492

The Xover is moving along.

Scott tells X to sod off. Fight scene with a few Acolytes, at least one of whom I don’t even recognize, and I remember when they were created. They must have just popped in for an issue or two somewhere…just my faulty memory I’m sure.

Layla & Madrox steal some scenes. Glad to see they’re good for that even in the hands of someone other than Peter David. Honestly, I’ve never liked Madrox much under any other writer at all, but with PD he’s a freakin’ diamond. And Layla, wow, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m surprised what a wonderful character PD has made out of her.

Storm isn’t in this book. She does pop up in X-Factor 25 though. She’s with the team from this issue though, so she must have been hiding in the background. Or maybe she had to make a quick sack-stop with her hubby. Hmm, he’s probably got some tech that could help them out…nevermind, that would be too logical.

X-Factor #25

W00t! More Madrox and Layla. And some Richter too. There’s another character PD has impressed me with. I always like Richter, but never as a main character, he was just a good teammate and back ground scenery type. Then he lost his powers and I was like, well, shit, there goes that. But yeah, hearken ye, for PD has once again shone the light of Good Writing (TM), and revealed unto us poor blasphemers and urinators that powerless people are people too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather he have his powers back, M-Day was stupid, but he’s still a good read lately. Rahne gets a brief bit of screen time, and I think I saw Siryn in a panel, but where are my Monet and Guido!? I really hope they don’t get lost in the coming reshuffle. Siryn I wouldn’t miss, Rahne either (we already know Rahne is going to be in the new X-Force at least, hopfully she won’t be pulling double duty Wolverine style), but I hope the rest stick around.

Oh, and the Xover plods on. Don’t get me wrong, I think this will be one of their better done crossovers, but hey, it is what it is. There’s a nice plot twist or two at the end that I’m very curious about. The cover is also very, very ugly. I guess that’s the point?

X-Men Die by the Sword #3

Interesting cover, considering Longshot isn’t even in this issue (I don’t even think he’s in the background). I really hate covers like that. Showing scenes that weren’t in the issue are fine, but characters? Comic draw-a puhleeze!

I think the scene is actually from the next issue. But I don’t really care.

OK, so yeah, good/decent stock Claremont stuff here. I love it when they let him just go man go, because otherwise these days (and maybe always?) he’s lukewarm at best. His original Uncanny run was so goddam good because He. Just. Went. It was him and him alone juggling all those plots, no one messing with his best laid plans of mice and all that (well, except for editorial, but what can you do? ;))

Lots of chaos in Roma-land, the Exiles somehow pull off what a HORDE of Captain Britains could not (although I *guess* Blink porting parts of his brain away *might* account for that). Interestingly, I have a critique I didn’t think I’d ever have of a Claremont book – it needed a little bit more explanation. WTFOMGBBQ you say? Well, I hope you didn’t say that out loud, because you’d be a freaking moron. But let’s just say you texted it to yourself inside your funky little head. In that case I’d say “Yeah, I was a little confused by the aforementioned fight scene against the semi-omnipotent enemy who can just change you into a monster on a whim during which the Exiles somehow beat him down (albeit probably only momentarily).” Yes, I would say it with the parenthesis. Trust me, I talk like that.

Knowing CC though, he will probably fill us in later, so I’m cool. All in all it’s been a nice light action romp involving two villains dredged WAY the hell up from the past. Looking forward to seeing how it falls out and what CC is going to do with Exiles that are now and truly “his”. The book concept is tailor made for him…it will most certainly be a different kind of book than before, hopefully just as good in a different way. Let’s hope they let him run for at least 30 issues unfettered (I’ve heard it will run 18 issues + 1 annual a year…so I’m pretty excited about the potential of him lasting at least 2 years as the writer).

Other stuff I didn’t buy but managed to read or want to say something about:

Illuminati #5

The elephant in the room is green, and wearing a red skintight. And then it’s dressed up in 5 other people’s clothes.

Sets the scene for the coming Secret Invasion. Since this is from last week, everyone probably knows the spoilers by now – omgBlackBoltisaSkrullDUH. Who else would it be? Namor probably, except for that very personal, set in current continuity, limited series he just had. So unless they’re going to pull one of the worst retcons ever (or maybe the Skrull really *thinks* it IS Namor?), Namor is safe. Bendis is trying to put the rumors out there than at least 1 more of the Ill-boys is a Skrull, but this could just be a smokescreen. If it is true, my money would be on Reed. Because he just shot future Namor in the head over in FF last week, and that’s not very fantastical. That and his “100 ideas” would be a great way to lay the groundwork for a Skrull invasion. I suppose the Doc is also a possibility, assuming a Skrull could someone pass for sorceror supreme, and still actually fulfill his duties (see the recent FF arc where he helped them “operate” on Eternity). So I’m going to say that’s probably a no. Iron Man is not a Skrull. And if they somehow work Skrull-age into Professor X, who just went through the M’Kraan crystal, I think my head will explode.

World War Hulk #5 was all sold out, or I would have picked one up as an impulse buy because dammit if I’m not interested in how it is. The Son of Hulk stuff looks kind of stupid though. “Skaar”? That’s the best name you can come up with? Yeck.

Nightwing #138 was also sold out. WTF? Nightwing? That’s what I said. I still wouldn’t pick it up though. Maybe people are hunting for early clues into the Batman death thing, or maybe it’s just that stupid Ra’s Al Ghul (sp?) resurrection bit running up the crossover sales bump.

Nova #8 was surprisingy interesting for a fairly standard (if there is such a thing) “city at the edge of the universe” type of thing. Pssst, there’s a restaurant just a little ways past that. If you happen to stop in, tell Doug thanks for all the fish.

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….kill Batman!

The rumors have been flying about the net for a while, I think LiTG has covered them twice now. They need something to give some sort of sting to the coming Final Crisis don’t they? Like when they killed Barry Allen/Flash in the original Crisis. I think that is the only death they haven’t retconned yet, so it bodes well that maybe the bat-death will be a true one. If it’s not just a bunch of misinformation to throw us off from whatever the real surprise they have cooked up is.

Note that I think legacy characters are the one strength DC has over Marvel. Many of their characters are bland *coughSupermancough* and boring (Hal Jordan) as hell, but the potential for one generation to die/retire and pass on the mantle to the next, so far DC has been the only company with the balls to do that. They were on a roll with the 3rd flash during my reading tenure, but they had to go and retcon that too… I figured they’d never touch the big 3 (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), but seeing Marvel do it has possibly emboldened them.

So here’s to hoping they do it. Nightwing’s title has always seemed stupid to me, him replacing Batman would be a great way to get rid of that title and put him to a good use.

10/31/07 – Mostly X

November 4, 2007

OK, I’m going to try and do a semi-regular comics commentary here, at least commenting on what I pick up. Note that it won’t be weekly, because I only go every 2-3 weeks, so some things may be from last week. Deal with it. I’ll also comment on other stuff that comes out in that time frame if I’m able to read it. For other opinions in a similar vein (and the column I was inspired by), see Hannibal Tabu’s The Buy Pile (runs weekly on CBR, which is linked in the sidebar). I don’t always agree with his commentary, but more often than not I do. I think overall, I’m less pessimistic. As a side note, I used to shop at the comic store he frequents down in LA.

So, without further ado, here’s what I picked up:

X-Men – Messiah CompleX

Messiah CompleX wasn’t on my Pull list, but, you know, it starts off the story that the 4 main x-books (X, Uncanny X, New X, X-Factor) will be following for the next 3 months so, I might as well know what’s going on. Plus (bonus!) it was penciled by Mark Silvestri, probably my favorite X-artist EVER, and (coincidentally?) the artist when I first start collecting. One could argue that his cover to Uncanny 234 is what got me into comic collecting (if you neglect the influence of my comic collecting friends Andy & Peter…). Well, it was certainly the first comic that I bought.

Anyway, that being said, I was bummed that “not much” happened, in the sense that Silvestri didn’t get to draw much that was exciting to me (action scenes…). Sure, the X-Men looked great sitting in the Blackbird, or standing around ruined buildings, but it felt like much of his talent was wasted. There was a great pinup type shot of the “new” Marauders though, which seemed strangely reminiscent of a pose either they or the X-Men did circa Inferno. I’ll have to go back and look, all I know is that it triggered all kinds of deja vu.

The “X-Crisis” is off to a good start, and it’s nice to see them finally addressing the whole M-Day BS. I guess the O.N.E. sentinel things are just gone now though, I didn’t see them trying to stop the Blackbird on it’s way out (or maybe I just forgot that scene, they are so forgettable).

I should add that the main X-writers & editors did an EXCELLENT job of bringing all 4 core titles (New, X, Uncanny, Factor) to just the right places to be ready for a crossover.

Cable & Deadpool 46

I’ve got a soft spot for Fabien Nicieza on canon titles. He’s like the modern Claremont, in a good way. By that I mean that he pays heavy respect to continuity, and uses that to do freaking brilliant things – see his entire run on Thunderbolts volume 1, and much of C&DP. Of course, now that Cable is dead (for a month or two until the new Cable series starts in January or so), this title is basically just Deadpool Team-Up until it ends @ 50, but it’s still lots of fun. I never really liked Deadpool, either in his original Liefeld persona, or throughout most of his first series. I think that I hopped on board for Gail Simone’s arc, because she’s brilliant when she’s funny (I don’t like Birds of Prey so much, but DP/AgentX & Killer Princesses were awesome) and just stuck with that till it ended.

So yeah, this issue was fun little romp through the timestream, with now-FF meeting old-FF, sort of. Still, it’s sadly wrapping up, and we don’t know what Marvel has in store for Fabian – hopefully he’s still on an X-title, or he gets to take T-Bolts back over when Ellis’ run is over (hey, I can dream!)

New X-Men 43

It took this title a long time to grow on me. Well, not exactly. I really liked the original incarnations (New Mutants v3) of most of these characters under the orginal writers, and then the new guys (Yost & Kyle?) came on, and started killing and maiming people left and right for oh, a few years at least. That I really did not like.

The last arc (the Magik one), made very little sense from a continuity point of view, but was a good plot device for getting the kids to where they are now, which is ready for the “next” step that the Messiah CompleX thing will bring.

They’ve definitely taking the kids through multiple wringers, deaths, depowerings, some more deaths, and seeing more people die. Hopefully, we’re done with all that now… they are doing a good job of bringing this new generation of X-Men to the fore though – the characters are definitely sticking in my mind, and I’m pretty happy with where they are right now. They haven’t killed the gay kid yet (but you know, they probably will) and *da dum* they didn’t get rid of Prodigy (yet)! They even sort of repowered him! For those of you not keeping track, he is one of three active black X-characters (Storm, him, Monet…sort of..she’s half Algerian…). There are some sidebars – Bishop is around somewhere and Nezno (sp?) is Wakandan, and should be getting some screen time during the coming arc. Let’s do a quick check on past black New Mutant/X-Force/GenX black members: Sync: dead (my favorite GenXer), Bedlam: dead, Monet: still kicking, …wait, is that it? Well, Sunspot is Brazilian, and drawn dark sometimes, and he’s still floating around…somewhere!

Marvel in general doesn’t have the best track record of introducing ethnic characters and keeping them around (not that DC does). Maggot’s dead (although one of his worms survived…*cackle* I think), Cecilia Reyes better freaking not be dead (but she’s at least awol indefinitely), Angel #2 is depowered (I liked her powers too!) and over in New Warriors and, oh wait, that’s it for black X-Men created since Storm. Wait, I think there were a few more black students at one point – “Bling” (I know, I know) at least was in a few issues.

There have been a couple of Asians that stuck around though. Jubilee (resurfacing in New Warriors), Surge appears to be here to stay, Karma pops up every now and again, Sunfire is a villain now, Sunfire’s sister was around for like 2 seconds, I guess the Wolverine clone girl is part Asian, and Joss Whedon’s creation Armor is also Asian. Interesting that most are women. Comic geeks love Asian girls (see: Psylocke)! There was that Xorn guy(s), but he/they was continuity retcon bombed into post-oblivion. Oh, wait, and there was Wiz Kid from X-Terminators, but I guess he’s depowered. Ok, I’m sure I could rant for longer, but I should stop now.

Thunderbolts 117

As a rule, I don’t like any Thunderbolts re-launch/re-brand/re-lame, whatever. This title really had the perfect pitch out the door, and Busiek and Nicieza just hit one home run after another. Then Marvel, in probably one of the most insane decisions in their publishing history (right up there with making Wolverine descended from dog people and related to Sasquatch & Wolfsbane), decided to turn the book into a dumbass story about boxing fight club BS. I’m not making this up. It lasted a wopping 6 issues.

This particular revamp, under Warren Ellis, is not near the travesty of the previous raping, but, you know, I’m still not much of a fan. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is brilliant, and the plots are interesting, but I signed on to this series to follow the original characters in their quest for redemption, not a bunch of stupid-ass uninteresting villains (Venom, Green Goblin, Bullseye) *forced* into doing government work with no desire for redemption…the whole idea is just stupid and anathema to the original concept. They should have just made it a new series. I’m not a big fan of just making Moonstone back into a simple manipulative bitch either, I loved where she was going with the whole Hawkeye thing. I’d really like to see them meet again….

This issue in particular was pretty interesting, another Doc Sampson (MAN is he getting a lot of face time lately) psychoanalyzes the crazy hero type thing. Progress being made into WTF is going on with Speedball (Penance my ass). But, still, not really caring, just sticking it out in the hopes that someday Fabian will come back. Sad, I know.

X-Men 204

Contrary to the cover, Rogue & Gambit do not make out. The cover itself hearkens back to those covers from the 60s that had nothing to do with the interior content other than characters, but not quite – Mystique does suggest that Gambit kiss Rogue & let her absorb him to help her make sense of her billion personalities now and whatnot.

Mike Carey is probably my favorite writer on the main X-titles in the last several years, and he continues to do a great job here. We’re finding out the (somewhat obvious in retrospect) motivations behind Gambit & Mystique’s moves, as well as completing the setup for Messiah CompleX. The majority of the issue is just setup, but it’s well done.

We see Sam in a hospital bed after sitting on a bomb and Sinister’s attack (since when does he have mind-wiping/telepathy powers?? Although I guess he could just alter his own DNA, since he never had any real powers to start with), and the damage appears to be just physical. Hopefully he’s not out of it long, as he and Sunspot are my two long running favorite X-Men, and even after all this time on the big teams (Uncanny, X-Treme, and now X-Men), I still don’t feel like he’s really been shown to be the developed young man leader type we’ve seen him grow into via New Mutants/X-Force.

OK, what didn’t I buy?

  • The Annihilation prologues are wrapping up, and for the most part I’m pretty satisfied with them, I’ll be picking that whole run up in the trades.
  • TONS of Countdown related stuff over at DC. All of it moderately interesting if your into DC, nothing worth buying (or waiting for trades) for me.
  • Another issue of Ultimate Power managed to slip out. It’s gone from silly to crazy, and while I’m totally curious how it will end up, there’s nothing there to justify paying money for. Supposedly it will affect both universes. Frankly, I can’t see how either of them would be made more interesting by swapping characters (in fact, that would probably just denigrate both world’s stories), so I’m thinking they’ll probably just kill one person from each side. Who’s on the table? My guess: anyone from Squadron-land except “the big three”, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (or maybe HawkEye if he’s there, I forget) from Ultimate-land. Come on, do you really think they’d kill an X-Man, FF member, Hulk, Spidey, Cap or Iron Man? Neither would they swap any of those folks to the other world. If they do, kudos to them for balls.
  • The Sinestro War continues in the Green Lantern books (GL Corp #17 was out in this span), and dammit if it isn’t the first GL story EVER to interest me. I’ll probably pick up the trades for this one as well, it’s going quite well so far. Side note: Since I can’t stand Hal Jordan in general (again, I’m not a big DC fan, but he should have stayed dead…DC ruined & cheapened themselves there in undoing only the second ever real mantle passing (Flash(s) being the other one, the second of those which was also recently undone) they had, and the one advantage I think they have over Marvel (legacy heroes)).

That’s it for this run, hopefully between now and the next one I can at least make a custom header for the site.