Thursday, December 30, 2010

The List #48

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #4
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Kaare Andrews
This issue is basically about clarifying what the situation is and exactly how serious. What's the situation? This:
So the X-Men have found themselves in a pickle as to a plan of action, which is especially bad as the situation is dire. The Furies basically beat up Wolverine into an eviscerated swiss cheese, and they didn 't even feel it when Storm used a lethal level lightning bolt on them. Wolverine just barely kills one by ripping out its spine. And what's worse is if they manage to win, there will just be an even larger army of Furies sent in to come take care of the mysterious man (who's basically a living 'Ghost Box' so he can cross over to alternate dimensions).

And just to illustrate how bad this is, here's the image Emma found when she read the man's mind: A superhero mass grave!

.....They're actually just shipping them off to go be extras in the next Marvel Zombies installment.
And that's pretty much all that happened this issue, sorry about the briefness, but the issue is fairly action-y so it leaves not a lot to be said.

Conclusion: As I've said before: Despite it's horrible schedule, Astonishing is still one of the better X-Books around, especially this mini-series. This issue sees the arc go take a much more serious turn, and departing from the humor of the previous issue while still maintaining the same electric energy.

Chaos War: X-Men #1
Writers: Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
When this 2-issue side story was announced, I was kind of excited. The idea of the interesting Cuckoos working together with other long deceased (besides Necrosha) X-Characters seemed like a great idea......and then I found out Claremont was on board. The thing with Claremont is I feel like his creativity is gone, it wasn't Y2K compatible and it died, so now we've got the worst of Claremont's gimmicks running around and ruining anything they touch. With that news, I was seriously considering skipping out on this limited series.

In the end, for whatever reason, I didn't and I can definitely say I'm glad for that. While this issue certainly carries some [classic Claremont-isms], they don't get in the way of the story which I actually found to be pretty exciting. This could just be a product of him co-writing with Louise Simonson, or random spark of talent resurrecting itself, but in the end it all still feels fresh and fun.

Basically the story is of a random team of deceased X-Men (Thunderbird, Banshee, Moira MacTaggert, Sophie and Esme Cuckoo, and three Multiple Man dupes who are each from a different era) being resurrected at the place of their graves (the ruins of the X-Mansion), and trying to figure out the source of their resurrection while trying to escape the terror of the Carrion Crow who's hunting them. While a team of extremely minor characters may seem to be a formula for boredom and apathy, it's instead an exciting chance to get away from the A-List character for a team of refreshingly unique characters.

On a side note, for some reason the fact that Esme is the rebellious Cuckoo translated to make her speak Chris
Claremont Colloquial (meaning Jubilee). Which is weird because, despite Esme’s rebellious side, she still for most part sounded just as formal as her sisters while she was defecting from the X-Men. [See it here]

Conclusion: This issue is a surprisingly fun story with a much-needed escape from the parading of A-List characters, so do consider picking this one up.

New Mutants #20
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artists: Leonard Kirk w/Andrew Currie
Before I begin, I just need to express how pleasantly surprised I am by how much this arc has improved. It began as yet another pointless Limbo arc that made me begin to lose faith in NM, and it somehow became this intense, addicting arc that is probably one of the best so far.

Within Limbo, there's a lot of unrest among the demons as they come to the military base looking for the bloodstones/amulet/things. In response, one of the Infernos is given the bloodstones and begins fighting the hordes of demons.

Some manage to get by her and break into the building, Dani's room of torture to be specific, where Dani is waiting for them with a broken arm. And....she kicks their f@#%ing asses. Yeah, she's pretty badass, and it doesn't stop there. You remember the woman who got a kick out of her being tortured? She also comes in to check on the situation, and in the most badass, satisfying moment this issue, Dani kills that bitch. In short, one of the purposes of this issue is to remind you that Danielle Moonstar is a badass and don't you
ever forget it.

Meanwhile, the X-Men rally together to go rescue the New Mutants, with Illyana and Xi'an going off to the side to discuss what's really going on. Illyana reveals that this isn't actually a rescue mission, and stabs Karma with her soul sword. From there, she brings the X-Men to the portal the military had used to enter Limbo, much to their confusion, and just as they get there the portal bursts open with demons.

While this is going on, Karma enters Legion's mind with the soul sword (because some things can't just simply be given), and in the second most satisfying moment, we find out her mission as she performs i
t: To break out the real Legion personality. This is a beautiful thing for a number of reasons, but the most important reason being this: Considering how lately reformed personalties have also been watered down to have none of their previous flair and now being bland ghosts of their previous selves, it's nice to see that some people are still truly villainous assholes. It's refreshing really.

Conclusion: This arc just keeps getting better and better as it nears the conclusion of Wells' run on NM.

Now onto the poll results:
I have to say I found it interesting that Domino and Magik dominated this poll, and by how much considering I've never really known them to be popular characters (which could just be a thing of who I talk to). I also found it surprsing how nearly equally chosen the other options were, with each of them either getting 4 or 5 votes.

Also surprising to me is that Magneto didn't rate higher, considering how he'd be a fitting addition to a bunch of sometimes-evil, somewhat-crazy characters. Obviously he was my pick in this thing, and yeah, I have to say the poll results this time around were hard to predict.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The List #47

Chew #16
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Robert Guillory
After last issue's ending with the alien lights in the sky, we find Chu dealing with the effects the lights are having on the public as many are thinking it's a sign of the end of the world, including Chu's partner, John, who's drinking himself silly. Which is shame because it lead to less face time with him, anddd that's a shame because he's a fun character (and gay!). Anyway, Chu partners up with the guy who's partners with Savoy, but still in the FDA, and they going look for this guy named Daniel Migdalo who is "voresophic" which means eating makes him smarter and may be able to help with the situation. Except they come upon him as a blubberous mountain who's now so smart that he mindfucked and can't function due that and his weight. Chu and Savoy's guy try to talk to him, but he's too far gone and attacks them. In the end, he dies jumping out of his window for mints, and that's it for him. Savoy's guy stops Chu from trying to eat any of the guy as it might send him off the deep end....while he ends up saving some of the guy and giving it to Savoy. Meanwhile, a chicken joint re-opens....

Conclusion: While Chew is always a great read and still is here, this issue feels like last month's in the sense that it feels more like an issue to set up things with having barely anything happening in itself.

Uncanny X-Men #531
Writer: Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land
This issue opens with Cyclops and Dr. Rao touring the sick bay, and going over who's infected so as to emphasize that this recycled plot is a "big deal". So obviously Wolverine's infected. And Namor, who's trying his hardest to get back to Atlantis since he's needed there while taking time to do his best celebrity impression, courtesy of Land:

I'm saying this is totally True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard.
Anyone else see it? Sorry the picture of Skarsgard isn't exactly the same pose, but I didn't have the energy to go hunting to that extreme. Anyway, in reaction to Rao's news, Cyclops does the CSI sunglasses thing to make this shit seem serious and then there's that scream and cue credits. Except...

Isn't that a completely dangerous thing for Cyclops to do? In the sick bay no less?
Seriously, in any other universe besides Fraction and Land's mind-numbing one, this would've ended badly as Cyclops' raw beam blew up half of Utopia.
Stupidity is a theme this issue, and it only get worse when we transfer to the fake X-Men subplot. Basically, we come in on the X-Men who happened to be outside of Utopia before the Quarantine (Angel, Pixie, Dazzler, Storm, and Northstar) telling the press that they have no association with the fakes. And for some reason Pixie is doing some of the talking, even though what she's saying has likely already been established by the senior X-Men:

How embarrassing for them.
Also, I can't help but think of that [Patrick from Spongebob meme] when I look at this ridiculous pose. Which is fitting because Pixie is basically as dense as Patrick under Fraction's hand. Which ended up inspiring me to [this].
Meanwhile the horrendous Emma Frost subplot continues, focusing on Emma and Shaw's hidden past as Emma reveals the new 'fact' that she had two other people competing with her for the title of White Queen, and when she took the title, Shaw beat them into the refrigerators in the sky. Of course, we see Emma regretful here because now we've degraded so far in Emma's character that we've gone from her being an unapologetic bitch to her being altruistic and in a constant state of repent, even if she wasn't responsible for what went down. Anyway, in the end Fantomex, having had enough, decides to release Shaw from E.V.A., assuming that it would kill him... Oops, how silly of him! Except it's Fantomex and he knows who Shaw is (remember his introduction?), and he'd never be so reckless. Except... Fraction's run relies on the idea that readers can believe the X-Men are really this dumb, sloppy, and melodramatic so there you go.

Moving back to the fake X-Men/Collective Man plot in San Fransisco, we have the Collective Man/Men going around beating the crap out of people, and the X-Men coming in to stop them. Just how you may ask? By having Pixie yell at them to stop. Yeah.

Surprisingly, this tactic doesn't end up working out so the X-Men end up doing it the old fashion way, and the naive fake X-Men see this, and decide to go teamup with the X-Men and see if they'll accept them. Yessir, as I warned, this issue is chock full of idiotic crap, and it gets worse if you pay any attention to Dazzler as Fraction apparently tries to justify not using her or respecting her by making her entire personality that of a 13-year old's, as can be seen with all the "Whatever's".

It's business as usual with this issue of Uncanny. Which actually brings to mind: Where's Kieron Gillen this issue? Considering the hype his joining the Uncanny team received, you'd think some difference would be visible here, but unfortunately it all seems to be all Fraction. Here's hoping that changes considering Gillen got a lot of love for his shortly lived S.W.O.R.D.

Conclusion: Just another case of same tired crap, different issue this time around.

X-Men Legacy #243
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Paul Davidson
This issue focuses on Omega Sentinel's possessed rampage and the results of it. Basically what happens is this: Omega Sentinel reverts to her original programming and successful beats the crap out of everyone working on the San Fransisco rebuilding project except Hellion. Hellion, being the rage case that he is these days, ends up taking care of making beating her so hard she's essentially brain dead. Which is another way of justifying her presence in Limbo....and also what happens when two characters of similar personality and function are working too closely to each other *cough*Psylocke*cough*. Speaking of that, I'd just like to share an idea I have on that: You know how in the Avengers, Jocasta's "personality matrix" doodad is based on the Wasp? Wouldn't it be neat if it was revealed that Omega Sentinel's was based on Betsy's? Eh? Ok, maybe I'm alone here, but I've just found that ever since Carey's X-Men that Miss Karima has sounded strikingly similar to Miss Betsy.

Anyway, moving back, Dr. Nemesis ends up uncovering the source of this freakout and it turns out that it's because:

Again, as I said last time, I feel with all the ties to Second Coming this mini-arc that it would have been better placed before the Adventures in India arc.
Speaking of Second Coming, luckily Hope and her blandness factor very little into this issue, but that's to make way for Hellion's angry angst. Yessir, after Julian's angst-filled attack on Omega, we end up with more of it as Cyclops reams him out for being violent in taking down Omega Sentinel. Julian counters him implying that Cyclops' a hypocrite considering his recent violent tactics. That was fun, of course, but I like it when anyone yells at Cyclops because he's a character who's a constant source of irritation for me. Moving on, from there Julian degrades into angst, and we get move of his "I-might-turn-out-to-be-a-villain--MAYBE!" subplot. Which with all the excessive angst I've had to see this month, in real life and comic book land, I can definitely say I'm in no mood for. Which is too bad because I actually used to like Hellion.

Conclusion: This is a lukewarm issue where you will likely find yourself hating Hellion if you didn't already.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The List #46 Part 2

Avengers Academy #7
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tom Raney, not Mike McKone as it is credited.
As evidenced by the cover, this issue is completely devoted to Hank Pym and his eternal angst over actions he committed 20 years ago (Right? I'm only a light Avengers fan, but seems to me all his 'bad' shit happened nowhere near recently, right?).

We begin this month's helping on a scandalous note when Tygra and child decide to pay Pymie a visit. Little did I know, it seems Tygra's child is the product of her and a skrull impersonating Hank Pym. But these facts get even more scandalous as we find out thattt --->

Tygra, stunned and shocked, reacts by asserting to Pym that the child is hers and hers alone. But then she also has to explain that her original reason for showing up is to ask that, if anything should happen to her, Hank would take him in. Yeah, it's awkward.

It gets more awkward when Tygra brings up Hank's long lost wife, the Wasp, and Hank reveals that he's put Janet's molecules together in this infinite mansion and now he plans on bringing her back from this. I don't really understand all of it, I tried my hardest to ignore the Mighty Avengers when it was under Pym, so here's Jocasta with a mini explanation:
She looks so.......glamorous.
The rest of the issue is about Hank taking on the Absorbing Man, predictably beating him, and having a personal revelation about the dangers of bringing Janet back. Done. Fin. Except not so much. Were this just to be a done-in-one issue where we deal with Hank's angst for it's yearly pitying and then just move on, I'd be fine, but no, apparently this will be the focus of an arc coming out in March. Joy. I know Pym fans are probably excited for this, but truth be told I've barely dealt with him and I'm exhausted from this character. Which is exactly the opposite of what I came to this book for considering I wanted something new and fresh, which it is when the students are running the book. Anyway, that's my two cents on the future of AA.

Also, it should be mentioned that McKone was unfortunately not on pencils this time around; it was Tom Raney who's so not my favorite artist. In fact, I find his entire range of emotions on characters to read as ridiculous and difficult to take serious. This issue is no different though he for most part does a decent job.

Conclusion: This issue's not without its good parts, but in the end, it's a bit dull due to its starring character's arc being tired and worn out already.

Uncanny X-Force #3
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
Finally this issue we get a comprehensive explanation of who's who in Apocalypse's army. And luckily it's in the preview, so you can all check up on it [here]. Oh and the old lady who's teaching child Apocalypse how to be himself again? Apparently that's Ship! That little detail caught me by surprise especially considering I thought that Ship was a pleasant little transportation vessel controlled by an evil master. Oh well, I much prefer this evil old lady take; she can be my new Frau Totenkinder.

Concerning the other Apocalypse followers, I'll say this: War's pretty badass as long as he's silent, Famine's perfectly creepy as hell, Pestilence as an awesome powerful and it looks great visually but I'm not a fan of her inferiority complex, and lastly, Death is the only one that really disappoints as he looks like a cheesy Vanisher ripoff and has an everyvillain personality.

Moving back to the events of the issue, all of this info is collected by Psylocke while all of X-Force is badly beaten and laying at the feet of the villains....yeah she's a badass and her lessons in badass are proudly displayed throughout the issue. Eventually Wolverine manages to get up and drags Death off of the team so that they can have the same fight Wolverine always has: A battle completely in favor of the enemy but somehow Wolverine manages to survive it out of sheer "badass". Meanwhile, Archangel's in shit shape after Famine got him and Deadpool is the only one around to take of him. Amusingly enough, Deadpool pulls out his only food supply: Pop rocks and Coke, and drowns Warren in it. From there its Nurse Deadpool taking care of Warren which is a survivor story on its own.

The main mover of the plot this issue is concerning Psylocke and Fantomex attempting to get their shit together as they are the only members really around and able. Psylocke takes charge, ordering Fantomex to let her in his mind. Here's how that goes over:

You go, Miss Braddock.
Fantomex listens to Betsy and she immediately begins psychically working on the effects of Famine's drum. Except she's stopped by War slamming her in the face. Ouch. Anyway, Fantomex being left as the only useful member begins illusioning everywhere, taking care of Death and Pestilence while saving Wolverine. He also manages to convince War that he loves Betsy, causing him to bring her into Apocalypse's HQ, and giving her the opening to take him out. While this is great and all, I have to say that Fantomex's little illusions took care of a bit too many of the group's problems and I'm hoping this isn't one of those "fix-all" things throughout the series. Anyway, as the Ship is teleporting out of the moon, kid Apocalypse whose busy with his toys receives a visitor: Betsy coming in with a katana. End issue.

Perfect ending. Obviously it's mostly for the fact that it's Psylocke who's just doing a lot of "take charge" things, but this is so much better than my worries about her just being the useless token female of the group. Also, I was pleased to hear [this news] from Remender on a recent X-Position concerning returning Betsy to her British roots.

Conclusion: Despite my few minor issues, another great issue of Uncanny X-Force with strong writing, fantastic art that I'm still very in awe of, and what seems to be a very bright future for this series.

In other news, here are the results of the last poll concerning which lovely mutant
should get repowered:

Unsurprisingly, it seems the biggest chunk of us want to see Jubilee repowered and presumably non-vampire again as it was sad for Marvel to piggyback on the decaying end of a pop culture trend, but to prolong it now is just purely pathetic. Plus I'm sure angsty vampire Jubilee is going to be the stuff of dreams for 2005's emo trend and its desperate hanger-ons, but it'll just likely annoy the hell out of everyone else. I'm thinking we all just want to see Jubes back to her sassy self because.....Baby. S
he's a firework.

In second place by one vote we have Rictor which also is not surprising as, while Rictor's definitely good for fulfilling fans' desperate need for some well-written homoness, I think we'd all like to see him back to being able to effectively handle himself in super situations.

Winder Dancer coming in third place, however, was surprising as I was not aware she had a much of a fan base, so, um, good on her fans and hopefully she'll pop back into the MU sometime. Anddd besides that, all I have to say is I'm surprised Callisto didn't get more votes and that's pretty much it. That's all for this week and be sure to go vote on the latest one!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The List #46 Part 1

Fables #100
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham and [many others]
I know I'm pretty late on commenting on this issue, but things have been nuts over the past few weeks and when they finally let up, I traveled back to my homeland for winter break and died. Luckily, much like Jean Grey, I have risen from the grave, and even though this issue's already been discussed everywhere else, I'd still like to share my thoughts anyway especially because Fables is going to be a new title featured on this blog. Also, I'm not going to be discussing the side stories, only the main one, as they're short so my reactions to each would only be a sentence long. However, I will say that it's pretty damn amazing what Willingham and Co. packed into this 100-page special with the games, celebrity questions, prose story, and even a bonus epilogue with Three Blind Mice, who I enjoy to no end. Anyway, on to the main story.

Basically this is the Frau Totenkinder appreciation issue. Which I respect completely as Frau is my favorite Fables character as she's a badass old witch who's willing to do whatever it takes to get her way. Except she's no longer an old woman which partially ruins the magic for me.

Things open with Frau confronting the Dark Man and beginning the fight. It turns out Frau's got a number of tricks up her sleeves as she's tied a bunch of spells to trigger words, and is shooting them out rapid fire such as a spell that makes fish who form up on the Dark Man and form a shell around him, opening up a pocket dimension, and even a clever candy-based spell that cause the Dark Man to throw up all the teeth he'd collected so far which leaves him without his witherlings.

Of course I'm all for this as it mixes two of my favorite things: clever planning and attacks that require their name being shouted out. As a formerly devout Digimon/Sailor Moon/Inuyasha fan, I have to say every so often I miss the good ol' days of attacks with names. Anyway, back to my girl Frau, basically her attack plan, as noted by Ozma who's viewing the entire battle from afar, is to give the Dark Man no fear to feed his power and to turn the tables by using his own fear. She accomplishes this by using spells that involve boxing in the Dark Man, as it's what he most fears, and just battering him with her raw power when she's done with trickery. And let me just say: Frau's a fucking force with her power.

Eventually, she manages to use the gold from the Dark Man's prison, the gold he's allergic to, and, with the help of Clara, seals him in by melting the gold around him. There's more, but let's pause to discuss what's been going on at the Farm during this battle.

Back at the farm everyone is surrounding the pumpkin Ozma's in and waiting on updates from her as she's the only one there who has a direct link to the events. Including Beast and a very pregnant Beauty who suddenly goes into a violent pregnancy. Beast attempts to get Nurse Spratch to help him immediately in getting Dr. Swineheart, but Spratch rears the worst of her miserable attitude by stopping to address Beast's tone towards her. In the end, Beast hulks out and that ends that. During the pregnancy, Swineheart is his egotistical self and Spratch is being a complete bitch while Beast and Snow White are attempting to question their now-controversial methods which they are right to question considering Boy Blue's death. Eventually, having had it with Spratch, Snow White decides to revisit her bitchy origins and has a chat with Spratch. In the end, she brings her to tears and the fans to cheers as some of us miss the bitchy, pre-housewife Snow White. Anyway, now that we're caught up with the other end of the story, we'll move forward with things.

At the Farm there is much celebration for Totenkinder (who insists on being called Bellflower), and Beast revisits the dangling plot thread of the beastly garment Totenkinder presented Beauty and Beast with when she revealed when they were eventually going to have a child. Beast, confused over this, asks Snow White what to make of it as the child was born normal. Snow just says to him that it could be Frau's wicked sense of humor. Anyway, all seems well for the Fables as they have a victory feast over the defeat of the Dark Man. Except....

The Dark Man breaks out of his gold prison! Which I'm hardly sad about as I happen to enjoy the insane Dark Man as the Big Bad, especially in comparison to complain-y Gepetto. The Dark Man immediately attacks Totenkinder at the celebration without warning, and the battle ends in one of the most crushing moments of the series:
I was very near tears at this part, but I held back on that as I was sitting outside at a bus stop.
With Totenkinder disintegrated, all the Fables immediately evacuate to Haven. Except.....she's still alive! Much like Jean Grey, it's not the first time Frau's been killed, and thrillingly, she comes back to an audience of Ozma, her black cat whose name escapes me, and the guy Frau was with whose name also escapes me. Ozma attempts to convince Frau to rejoin the battle against the Dark Man, but Frau rejects it with one of the worst reasons for an exit I've ever seen:

Do that
after the fight to save the world, Frau.
This is a shitty reason for Frau's departure, considering she mentions that we're not going to see her again, and I'm just really not pleased with this little development. Especially considering she's my favorite character.

In the epilogue, after everyone is departed, the Dark Man comes to the Farm only to find Nurse Spratch there in a fit of bitterness. She agrees to help him and give him the location of the other Fables as long as she gets three things: Being made pretty, given a pretty husband, and making all the other pretty Fables ugly. He agrees to these terms and the deal is made. Um. I'm not so fond of this little turn for Spratch. While it makes sense that she'd be tired of being the only unattractive female, human Fable, I still don't like that in the end the only overweight female fable turned into a villain. Just like I don't like that the powerful old witch had to become young to become a true threat and get the full effect of the spotlight. I get the reasoning i
n terms of Fableland, but I still don't how it looks on the outside.

Also during the epilogue we see that it turns out Beauty and Beast's newborn is actually a bit of a Beast as Totenkinder had predicted. And that's the end of Fables 100, leaving the fate of all Fable kind in the hands of Ozma who, as she says here:

And as much as it pains me to see Frau go, I still am excited to see what Ozma's up to as she's more of risk-taker and seemingly more dark (even though Frau regularly sacrificed newborns). Also she's got a black cat for a sidekick and that's a fact her and I have in common:

Her name's Abbe!
Anyway, in conclusion, besides a few minor complaints, Fables #100 was exactly what a landmark issue should be: a well told story that actually shakes the reader's view on what direction the book is taking. Oh and also filled with other goodies.

X-Factor #212
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
I know this issue was supposed to be a big deal. Thor guest-starring with this arc's already special guest star, Hela, in an Asgard-based story that wows many. Except I failed to be wowwed. Mainly because the only Asgard stories I really liked were the Annuals that year back in the late 80's with the New Mutants being trapped in Asgard. And then there's the other reasons....

To begin, this issue is sort of standard. Standard X-Factor humor which is fairly light and not worth more than a smirk. Standard hero goes to retrieve something from villain deal. Basically, in this issue Thor assists X-Factor in getting Hela to give the troll up. They an unsurprising price that threatens their lives and have to fight zombie Asgardians.

However, that's where the things of note come in. First off, we have Siryn being featured this issue, but it feels like David
really wants us to believe that while she's back to being Siryn, she's also now disheartened by the cruel world!! (Well, Banshee, but rather than mix myself up for a temporary codename change, she's gonna stay Siryn on this blog.) No, seriously, it felt forced as f#@% and did not read like natural dialogue.

Something good that finally happened this issue is the revealing of Rahne's true baby daddy:

Yessir, it's finally come out that Rictor is
not the father.
Next issue is likely to feature his reaction to this and luckily with my nonexistent ties to Marvel I've managed to pick up unreleased artwork from Rictor's reaction to not being the baby daddy. Here it is:

I think it's safe to say that most of us echo that reaction.
In other news, the issue ended with Multiple Man tricking Hela into coming at him with her death powers and having Darwin step in to absorb the blow. The way he adapts to this is to become Death and sap Hela of her powers leaving her helpless for long enough that X-Factor gets away. Darwin reverts back, but when Madrox asks him if he's ok his response is that he is even though the panel is of skulls in his eyes. As if I didn't already dislike this unimportant, uninteresting character enough, now next issue we have to deal with his bag of angst as he leaves the team, but unfortunately, not the book. And I'm really not in the mood for more boring angst; I want my Ricstar drama!

Conclusion: This issue was the definition of "meh".

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adventures in Shopping

I love shopping. Specifically sales shopping. I literally have dreams of amazing sales a week before I actually go to one. I firmly believe in the power of retail therapy, but I'm also cheap. My cheapness is actually on my back right now: My black skinny jeans from Hot Topic? $20, normally priced at $40. $40 being a price I have never and likely will never pay for pants. My The Crow shirt? $5, normally priced at $20. If I'm paying full price for a shirt then it had better look that damn good. While I'm good about being frugal during my college existence, I do have my weak points where I need to splurge, and one of those is comics books. A comic book sale? Oh I'm there. And yesterday, I was SO there.

I've mentioned before that I love Coast City Comics because they completely satisfy my need for discount comics with their quarter bins and %50 off used graphic novels. Well, yesterday they had a sale that blew my mind called Comikaze which included, but certainly was not limited to: free comic books, 25% off everything, buy one new comic get one free, 75% off select used trades, and buy one $1 dollar comic get one free. I spent the week reciting these sales to myself; I was that excited.

Also, I need to mention that this past Tuesday was my birthday, December 7th a birthday I share with Jessica Drew [Spider-Woman Origins #1], so I had birthday money to burn on this sale. And oh did I ever. Here's the summary of my treasures that day:

Buy one new comic get one free:
Fables #88, 95-98, and, most importantly, Fables #100 which you will see reviewed here very soon!

Free Comics:
All those first issue for $1 comics that you see at your shop? In this pile with a number of amazing comics (Alias, Birds of Prey, Robin, and so many more). Notable ones I got from this pile include:
Ex Machina #1
Hellstorm #1
I Kill Giants #1
Jack of Fables #1
Madman Comics #1
Planetary #1
Sin City #1
Ultimate X-Men #94
Witchblade #1

$0.25 Comics, a regular feature, but greatly expanded in selection.
In total I got 50 issues from here, remarkable issues including:
American Virgin #1-4
Avengers the Initiative #35
Siege: Young Avengers #1
Super Market #1-2
The Walking Dead #19
LOTS of 90s-era X-Factor
X-Treme X-Men #41

$0.50 Comics or buy one $1 comic get one free:
In total I got 82 issues from here, remarkable issues including:
Alias #16-28
Civil War #1-7
Demo #1
Doom Patrol, 2 issues during Morrison era.
About %75 of The Invisibles.
Sandman #60-63
Thunderbolts #110-120
X-Men #31-32

75% off select used graphic novels:
Freakangels vol. 1 HC

50% off used graphic novels (A normal feature of the store):
Fables: Story Book Love
The Authority: Earth Inferno

The complete total of issues, were I also to add from the trades as well, comes out to 178 issues. How much did I pay? $91.
That's like $0.50 an issue.
If these issues were normally priced at around $2.99, the grand total would have been: $535.
Normally, I would never splurge so hardcore on comics, but as you can see I spent $100 and saved $450. So yeah, I just wanted to tell you all about the massive sale I hit because you are all comic book people as well and I imagine you'd appreciate that amazingness of the sale I hit.
Also, it gets better:

The shop also had a raffle going on for six items. One of them being Sandman: Endless Nights autographed by Neil Gaiman. And I FRIGGING WON IT! I'm going to get it on Wednesday before my last final.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The List #45 Part 2

Batwoman #0
Writer: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III and Amy Reeder
Finally we have the return of Batwoman after months of salivating for the release of her solo book. Unfortunately, this is more of a taste before the official run, but as far as I'm concerned any Batwoman done by Williams or Rucka is a good one.

The issue focuses on Bruce Wayne
following Kate around, trying to confirm his suspicions that she is indeed Batwoman. He also dons a number of ridiculous disguises during the process which are worth a smirk. Eventually, he concludes she's good, but not amazing and that's basically the plot of the issue.

The stunning art of J.H. Williams III returns with this issue and oh dear me, it is to die for. Maybe I shouldn't say this out loud considering her devoted fanbase, but I feel like my interest in Batwoman loses some of its intensity without Williams on board. But I mean, just look at the image to the right--> It's gorgeous in ways that are rarely seen in comic books (so far as my current knowledge of comics is aware), so I mean it's hard to not be disappointed by anyone else. Which, speaking of, I was with Amy Reeder the artist for the Kate sequences. It's not that her art was anything negative, I would probably have liked it just fine on its own, but it's simply that
in comparison to Williams her art just does not do anything for me. I just think using another artist similar to Williams' style would have worked out better.

Conclusion: This is an issue where not much happened, so in terms of plot I would advise against waiting until Batwoman #1 out some time in 2011. However, if you're a devoted Batwoman or Williams fan, do pick this one up.

New Mutants #19
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Things are dark this issue. Like pitch black. It certainly shocked me to see New Mutants, a book that's sort of X-Force-lite, all of a sudden start having some uncomfortable torture scenes. Let's break this shit down, shall we?

For some reason, Dani is singled out as the zesty powerless mutant, and is tortured throughout the issue while Cannonball is made to listen so that his jailer can feed off his anguish. Somehow, being made of pure hardcore, Dani manages to get it together enough to tell Sam to stop feeding the anguish woman, and even tries to distract him by telling him that he's an excellent kisser. All this while she's still being tortured. The woman's a tough bitch, and I salute her.

Pixie's also tortured, but that's really just giving the reader of Uncanny what they've been asking for. Illyana is placed with Sunspot, whose got a mini evil mutant running around in his body, after she's done being tortured, and they have a fairly depressing conversation:

Illyana also lets Sunspot know that Amara does not love him like he does her. So yeah, this is pretty intense considering I wouldn't put it past Wells to actually kill Amara off. I mean, she may be one of, if not THE, most powerful member of the team, but character-wise she's just functions as pretty wallpaper for the most part.

Meanwhile Cypher's still under the control of the mutant who manipulates with words, and Dani and him discuss this -->

Oh yes, Cypher, you are a mighty cliche at this point just not in the way you're thinking, you sad attempt at a dark and emotionless badass.

Concerning Karma, she's pretending to be unconscious most of the issue and attempting to connect to the isolated Inferno mutant whose head is a big laser. Not only is it sad because she's connecting with someone who's painfully isolated and finally getting to express his angst over this, but Karma's also tortured while this is happening as the other mutants try to take her robot leg by cutting above the metal. Into the flesh. Fun. The beam-headed eventually helps her and Illyana tells her she needs to escape alone. In the end, Magik reveals that Karma is the only one important to save for her mission.

Conclusion: This issue's pretty amazing for its tension as it kept me hooked the entire way through. While I still have a dislike for this arc, I do have to say this was a great issue.

Uncanny X-Force #2
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
This issue opens with a Danger room session that involves Wolverine, Fantomex, Deadpool, and Psylocke dealing with the possible scenario of Archangel turning against them that ends in Betsy taking out Warren. Obviously, when Warren walks in on this he finds this all a bit surprising and shaky for his relationship. And that's not all that's threatening his and Betsy's relationship--->

But what about your dearly beloved Cyclops, Logan? Anyway, this issue gives spotlight to Betsy as we the readers are privvy to her thoughts. Her place on the team and her reasons for joining are examined while she attempts to comfort Warren over the training sessionand are disappointingly what I expected: She's there for Warren. So thrilling that she has her own story. Luckily she's at least still the badass Betsy we all know and love:

Meanwhile with the Apocalypse situation, it seems that the old lady is solely there for young Apocalypse's education and not actually a member of the Horsemen as we end up meeting a number of Apocalypse worshippers this issue that better qualify for the position. Where do we meet them? The moon!

Yes, X-Force goes to the blue part of the moon where Apocalypse is located only to be ambushed by War who damages EVA by blowing a hole in her with his axe. Naturally, this is terrible and is worsened three times as Fantomex feels the pain due to his connection to EVA and Psylocke, being a telepath, also suffers the blow.

In a fight scene that's as bleak as this month's New Mutants, X-Force gets its ass kicked by Apocalypse's followers which include the previously seen War giant, the drummer guy whose likely Famine, a geisha who vomits cockroachers, and Vanisher's ugly brother who rides a flying carpet. Post-defeat, young Apocalypse emerges from his headquarters to go out to take care of X-Force.

Conclusion: Great issue, amazing art job by Jerome Opena yet again, and amazingly well-done fight scene. Definitely pick this one up.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The List #45 Part 1

Uncanny X-Men #530
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Greg Land
Before we begin, can I ask what is up with all the good/important X-Titles being released this week? Who at Marvel thought this was a good idea? I'm thinking a constant feed of X-Men works much better than just having one week a month where everything comes out.

This issue marks the welcome return of Greg Land to Uncanny which is a big improvement to Portacio awkward rape faces and characters who seem to have perpetually fried hair. Some of you may not be glad to see the return of Land, but let's think of it in the context of Uncanny: So long as Fraction is writing it in any form, it will always be shit and Land, while a horribly controversial artist, produces images that are worth lots of laughs. So if I'm going to be suffering this shit in attempting to keep in the know of what's going on, I at least welcome some unintentional humor along the way. Also, his issues tend to be more colorful.

The opening of this issue starts with Emma going over how important Shaw is for the hundredth time and then telling Fantomex and Shadowcat how she explained their departure to Cyclops. Basically, she used a flimsy shopping excuse that he didn't buy. She'd have had better luck just not telling him. Oh and, because this is Land, she's naked during this conversation with Cyclops. Yeah, Emma Frost, master manipulator and professional liar, really has trouble coming up with convincing explanations for three people's absence. Good heavens it appalls me how little respect Fraction has for female characters, but more on that later.

The big plot of this issue is the big release of HX-N1 disease that's infecting a decent amount of Utopia including, OMG WAIT FOR IT......WOLVERINE!!! OMG WHAT?! I thought his power levels were over 9000?! Yeah, we're doing a deadly mutant virus....again! Which is also a total ripoff of the swine flu hype! I understand there are only so many X-Stories to be told, but do we really have to put up with such obviously recycled crap? Speaking of recycled:
I know we've all seen this basic image before considering it's Copy and Paste Land, but is this really considered a desirable body? Big shoulders with a tiny waist? Is this what macho men want? To look like big pizza slices?
So yeah, there's also something uninteresting deal with the Collective Man as well as the guy whose working with Sublime or whatever and is now making his own faux Original Five X-Men. Nobody really cares and also, how many times do we have to have a group based around being like the Original Five? Again: It's played out now, let's at least move on to emulating the All-New All-Different group. Also, a little panel that popped up during the Faux Five introduction:

Does this panel makes you guys uncomfortable? It certainly makes me uncomfortable, like holy fellatio, how did this get past the censors?
Moving back to the virus issue, Cyclops tries to contain the situation by holding Utopia under quarantine and also calling a press conference, conducted by Archangel and I'm guessing Val Cooper, that basically just scares everyone and makes faint prejudices come out. Did the press really need to be informed? That island's fairly isolated, especially under quarantine, they actually could get away with not telling anyone until it becomes a big deal. Meanwhile, Dazzler and Northstar get the news, Daz being fabulously dressed up like the biggest fag hag this side of the Marvel Universe, and Daz is actually excited to be one of the remaining outside X-Men despite the fact that it means people are ridiculously ill. K, this is where we return to Fraction having no respect for women and I'd include gay men considering Northstar's also involved in this. Here we have Ali acting completely insensitive and stupid and that's pretty much how he's portrayed her and Northstar since he's introduced them: Stupid, superfluous, and shallow, basically as total jokes. What's worse is I feel like he's not aware of this and just thinks he's doing them a favor giving them some page time.

Conclusion: While this issue is definitely drama-filled and sort of fun, there's nothing really new to be found here. Same plotlines and same problems with the creative teams, but definitely a more fun issue than we've seen lately.

X-Men Legacy #242
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Paul Davidson
This issue marks the beginning of the brief Post-Second Coming rebuild arc which is oddly placed considering Second Coming's more or less already forgotten by now. Also, considering the last arc was pretty self-contained and could have easilly just have been moved to be after this one instead of before. That and Utopia and San Fransisco are already being drawn to be fully recovered by all the other artists, so we don't even get the visual need for this rebuild anymore.

The story this time around is basically three things: The rebuilding of Utopia, Omega Sentinel losing control over her systems, and Hellion's angst over losing his hands. Except Hellion's pretty justified in his angst, well, minus the fact that he keeps getting pissed anyone trying to help him. Rogue remedies this by deciding if he's not going to respond to sympathy then he's going to be put to work instead, and really, good on her for choosing that route considering how pissy he is to just
everyone. However, he does bring up one good point that's pretty much on everyone's minds:

Um really. Considering the science team operates like magic, just conjuring something up every time there's a need, how hard is it to make convincing looking hands considering it's just really about throwing on some latex or wtfever to those robot claws?
Meanwhile, a team is gathered to rebuild San Fransisco which includes Random, Psylocke, Hope, Colossus, Omega Sentinel, Rogue, and Danger. You may notice that there's a lot of former villains on this list, and if you read the issue, it looks even worse considering how ominous Magneto looks throughout the entire issue with being just white coming out of the shadow of his helmet. Seriously, Mags, way to help people feel comfortable with you.

Another thing of note includes how the Hope baton is passed from Uncanny to Legacy as Carey gets his chance to deal with the mutant messiah. Hellion gets in a tiff with her over her not using her powers to help speed up the reconstruction. Magneto makes a biblical reference when commenting on Hellion's disbelief concerning Hope, speaking about Thomas the Apostle wanting to see Jesus' crucifixion marks to prove he was the messiah. And really, I'm right there with Hellion because since her introduction I haven't bought Hope as some sort of astonishing messiah, and I just don't see myself buying it any time soon. She's just Jean-lite, and really, half the time Jean herself was Jean-lite.

Speaking of characters who act like previously established characters, I'm surprised Carey put Psylocke and Omega Sentinel together considering how similar both their functions are on a team and just generally how they act. I mean, the similarity's not so strong that it's embarrassing, that'd only occur if Carey added Sage to the mix, but it's still an interesting choice. Also, I have to wonder why there wasn't a scene with Psylocke tried to talk to Hellion, maybe it's just me, but I'd be interested to have two TKs address their similarity and all that.

In the end, this issue is hardly spectacular, but it is certainly a good one. While the main plot is hardly worth discussing at length, and as you can see I didn't because I really couldn't, it's still a Carey-quality issue. Also, the art done by Davidson is sort of standard which is sort of disappointing because I really enjoyed his dark work on New Mutants. Conclusion: This is one you should only purchase with your spare change.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The List #44 Part 2

Chew #15
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
As we come to the end of the first quarter of the run of this series, we come to meet the alleged last two supporting characters of the series, Toni, Tony's twin who's, uh, really peppy and Olive, Tony's.....daughter. So yeah, things are definitely revealed this issue and we even get to meet the entire Chu clan briefly as Tony goes over for Thanksgiving, much to most of their chagrin of the family (due in to large part to his being an absent father to Olive). One family member in particular I had to note and wish for further development is none other than:

Tony's drag queen younger brother because there will never be a day in my life where I am NOT completely in for a drag queen character. Legit.

Moving on, the majority of the issue was exposition until the big finale as we were introduced to Tony's family, all of it, and their feelings on him. Not a whole lot happens and I can't say there's much in the way of the quirky humor typical of Chew, but it was still a decent issue. We also see Mason Savoy finally do something with Tony's ear, which is eating it, as he discovers the story about Tony's psycho ex. By the way, can I just mention something I've already brought up on my Tumblr, but is too good to not mention?

Mason Savoy is basically the Chew version of Fiddler's Green from Sandman.
Or was, before the whole reveal that he's "up to something".
Whatever, he's so fun that I figure he'll be in Chu's good graces again soon.
Anyway, the issue ends with surprise red lights in the sky which basically changes the series dramatically from what I've read. Conclusion: While this issue doesn't contain the same enthusiastic energy typical of other issues, it's still a good one and seems to be more about setting up future plots than entertaining. Considering it's Chew, I still definitely say pick it up as it's become one of my new favorite ongoings.

Avengers Academy #6
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone
The spotlight of this issue shines down on Reptil this time around as we join him becoming the class leader of the AA and find out more about his powers and the gem that appear to be the source. Also, some depressing news is revealed about him and Finesse:

Errmm he's the second most innocent member of the AA and I just feel like he's being tainted by the irritating character that is Finesse.
During the issue we see the first hurt that comes from his physical relationship with Finesse as she explains to him that she's not his girlfriend, just a fuck buddy. From there she decides to end things, which to her credit is responsible of her, but in, of course, a harsh way. Throughout the issue we see these frustrations as Reptil deals with being team leader and trying to be helpful and the right sort of role model as well as his struggles to fully transform into a dinosaur. Eventually his dreams do come true, but in the sense that he becomes a feral, uncontrollable dinosaur. The conclusion for this lack of control comes from Pym:

Um, first I'd totally take counseling sessions with Moonstone. I mean, I'd have no hope for improvement, but can you imagine how fun she'd be? Second, what about my girl Frost? She's not only a therapist, but also specializes as a sex therapist so she can help Reptil deal with his Finesse problem. However, I can't say I have any problems with who they chose to counsel him in the end:

YAY! I feel like some of her best character work outside of Alias and Pulse has been when she's counseling teenagers....and not playing housewife.
In the end, Reptil finally starts opening up and things are looking up for him and everything's somewhat decent. Conclusion: Decent issue, but these past few issues have lead to me feeling like this series lacks a little bit of direction as all the side plots make things feel a bit messy and complicated.

Avengers The Childrens Crusade #3
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artist: Jim Cheung
After last issue's revelation that the Wanda that had been residing in Wundagore Mountain, the one Hawkeye and Beast encountered, was a Doombot, we now finally come to a conclusion on the whereabouts of Wanda as, y'know, only Doom's gonna use Doombots. This issue is basically centered around three characters: Quicksilver, Magneto, and Wiccan and NOT the Young Avengers. Don't get me wrong, I know the Maximoffs need some love from a skilled right now, but I'd also like to see more of the characters I came to this series to read. Plus Magneto and Quicksilver can be frustrating characters. Especially when Magneto's claiming the only person more powerful than Doom is Wanda. Um, Jean Grey, anyone? Killed, like, a solar system full of people? Kind of like God right now?

Anyway, the plan from here is trying to decide how to get to Doom. Wiccan tries to break away to go to try it on his own, but ends up getting caught by Quicksilver and the YA, with Hulkling getting quite pissed about it. While I enjoy the fact that we're openly dealing with Teddy and Billy as a couple now, I'm not real fond of how much strain is being put on their relationship considering most of the romance was dealt with lightly. At least we get this squee-worthy image of them together in bed:

In the end, Wiccan decides to go it alone anyway, ends up finding a manipulated Wanda, and finds out she intends to marry him. And oh yeah, he shows up which spells out real fun times for the lone hero.

Conclusion: Good issue, but we could do with less Pietro and Magneto bitchery as well as a less tense Billy and Teddy considering we've barely seen any of the romance. I'd still say pick this one up.

X-Factor #211
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
This X-Factor suffers from a lack of baby momma drama (I know, it's sad and sorry that I'm addicted to this storyline, but whatever, it influences the future of RicStar!). It's for the most part of a fight issue with Madrox, Shatterstar, and Longshot tackling zombie Asguardians to poor results.

Basically, it ends up looking bleak towards the end, in one of the most forced sounding moves I've heard in awhile Siryn apologizes to Madrox for breaking his finger way back when in issue #40 or near there. Finally, Thor shows up to save the day and we end on him deciding whether or not to help X-Factor against Hela.

Conclusion: Little happens this issue really, but it's not necessarily a bad issue. Just one that I'm not all that excited about. Still good though.