Saturday, March 27, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #522 Review

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Whilce Portacio
This issue we get a break from Land's porno pencils and Dodson's boring, anime crap. Instead we get Whilce Portacio who's a bit of an odd choice. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't impressive either.

This issue is the one Kitty Pryde fans have been petitioning their little hearts out for since Giant Size Astonishing two years ago: The return of Shadowcat. Done by Matt Fraction. A character who could have stayed away longer than Jean, and I wouldn't have missed. Done by a writer who could go off the radar for the same amount of time. Except I've already planned out a fucking rager for the day Fraction leaves the X-Verse.

Anyway, if you tune out for the first four pages of this issue, don't feel bad, you didn't miss anything you didn't already read last issue. Yes, that's four pages of pure review, so thrilled we're not wasting page time because comic books take SO long to read.

Afterwards, Angel and Nightcrawler show up to alert Emma and Scott to Kitty's homecoming. And here's where I have to diss Portacio's art. Because Angel gets total raper face when he's delivering the news and it even though it made me laugh, it also made me feel uncomfortable for Scott. Especially since he's already with Wolverine.

Scott immediately gets into gear as soon as he gets back to Utopia, dramatizing this homecoming as much as fucking possible. It went from a multitude of options to Scott telling everyone, "The bullet's either phased with an alive Kitty in it or WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!" And so the Marvel universe obeyed his command. Except one person, Box, who dared to speak up.

I understand whatever the shit he was saying was meant to sound ridiculous. Except it wasn't considering how science is treated by Fraction, more on that in a few. And anyway, it's funny how Scott is constantly shutting anyone who speaks against his idealistic plans with logic. This is because Fraction's Uncanny X-Men is the story of one man's ego, and the entire universe bending to serve it.

Meanwhile, Scott ordered everyone to shield the bullet from every instrument's perception rather than work on its safe re-entry. How this is done is by some huge machine that's hooked up to the Cuckoos, with them sending psychic illusions worldwide, which Danger translates to send her own through machine communication, and Box made this all up and the "science" behind it is so idealized. Science, in this series, is really just magic considering the series has a machine made up for any problem the second it occurs. But magic would seem to out there, so we'll just tack on science instead. Plus, there's probably something about magic being too feminine, and this series takes the whole sexism in comics up a notch (if you REALLY want to hear why I think that, I could make the War and Peace of posts on this).

Continuing, Emma's monitoring Magneto, and all the while this is going on says the dumbest thing. Now, here's the thing, were this any other Magneto appearance she would be completely correct in saying this. Except since his re-introduction, Magneto has been perpetually with his tail between his legs. He has seemed so ridiculously insecure, fragile, and just a confused old man.

At some point in here, the great Reed Richards makes a point of contacting the X-Men concerning the bullet that his powerful instruments can still perceive. I read somewhere that someone thought this portrayal of Reed was absolutely prickly. I beg to differ, in this instant he's treating the X-Men exactly how they need to be. He comes off like the necessary stern father responding to his teenager's idealistic plans that could harm people's lives and have no bearing in logic.

So anyway, the bullets coming, Cecilia Reyes shows up to care for Magneto. Which is code for cameo queen. See, this series really just pulls out much-missed X-Men back into the X-World to essentially put something shiny and fun in front of the readers so that they'll miss how poor the writing actually is. After their initial introduction, all these characters are used to fill the background unless another writer finds a use for them (like Carey and Yost did for Psylocke).

By the way, the almighty bullet that comes is drawn to be maybe 1/5 the size of the original depiction of the bullet. Seriously, a bullet that size would have NEVER cracked Earth. Which was the intention. Anyway, the bullet comes, Kitty's pulled out, and the bullet is sent to..... Yeah. Where was this gigantic bullet put after all was said and done? Anyone? But back onto Kitty, apparently she's trapped in phase mode. Which is NOT a problem we haven't already dealt with (especially NOT during the Mutant Massacre) in X-Pages and dealt away with (especially NOT in X-Men vs. Fantastic Four). So considering we've NEVER seen this before, this needs to be a poor side story that's dragged out for the next year. Oh. And one other thing. Kitty's totally mute. She has become THE ULTIMATE CAMEO QUEEN! Like Jesus Christ, she has ascended to the seat of the right hand of the Father (or the Mother, who is Dazzler, obvs)! Now she is truly the perfect cameo queen! And concerning Fraction's Frat Boy of an X-Universe, the perfect woman!

At the end of this issue, everyone peaces to go enjoy life, Kitty gets put into the Lazarus from Casper, and Cyclops sits alone for some mangst-y reason. Except there's a few things wrong with these last few pages. And by wrong, I mean making no sense in a sane world. First is Fantomex giving Betsy flowers. No. I'm not even going to explain why this pairing would be disastrous. I'll just say it'll make about as much sense as Siryn and Deadpool. And Emma goes out somewhere in the sea with Namor. Which is half a confirmation for my fears of Emma hopping from one manchild to another. Why can't the woman take a break from playing sholder whore to the world's whiniest? Then there's Dazzler and Northstar cameo queening it out for a panel. Remember that shot Fraction seemed to make at Austen's use of Northstar as the gay mascot in #508? Yeah. Fraction's use of Northstar is pretty much on par, if not worse, than Austen's. But anyway, that's the issue!

Except there's also some weird backstory about the alien folks who would have died had the bullet kept going on its path. And there's something like gay aliens going on, which don't get me wrong I'm a homo who loves homo characters, but it just felt like they needed to be gay to make that story even mildly bearable. At least I think they were gay. Whatever, in the end, I say buy this issue if you have a mother named Diva Bonanza. And if for SOME weird reason one of you actually does, go out, buy that issue, and then come see me. I would LOVE to meet your mother.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tracking the Cameo Queens: Ariel

For all those of you who miss my following of the Cameo Queens, allow me to introduce the new Queen of Cameo:
Those of you who have read my posts on X-Men Legacy likely have already read more than enough about my odd adoration over this briefly seen tribute to the 80's. Also, for some reason I am absolutely convinced the character is a male-to-female transsexual, and would adore to get that into cannon. But for now, Ariel is simply the fabulous cameo queen who's especially special because she's a cameo queen of the divine Carey as opposed to the disappointing Fraction. Anyway, on with the diva worship!

X-Men Legacy #226
# of panels: 3
# of lines: 5
# of times she uses her power: 1
As her first appearance since the late 80’s, Ariel shows up to let Gambit know that she’s here to dethrone Dazzler as the true cameo queen. And from then on, I adored this true 80’s diva.

X-Men Legacy #227
# of panels: 7
# of lines: 5 of them are repeat from last issue, 5 new ones.
# of times she uses her power: 1
Ariel comes to collect Trance and fails miserably at collecting her. But not at displaying how absolutely fabulous she is.

n Legacy #229
# of panels: 7
# of lines: 12
# of times she uses her power: 1
This appearance Ariel shows up to help the X-Science Club as well as letting the world know what’s important in life: nail varnish, daytime TV, and belting outfits.

X-Men Legacy #230
# of panels: 2
# of lines: 0
# of times she uses her power: 0
This appearance she makes two lineless panel appearances. In the second one she looks like DC's The Question considering her lack of face.

X-Men Legacy #234
# of panels: 1
# of lines: 1
# of times she uses her power: 0
Cameo queening like a true diva, Ariel is caught thinking about the subjects that really matter in today's society.

New Mutants #12
# of panels: 1
# of lines: 0
# of times she uses her power: 1
A one-panel cameo of epic proportions, Ariel comes in at the most glamorous time (and in the most fabulous way) just as Cyclops tells Wolverine that Ariel is the new long distance teleporter.

X-men Legacy #235
# of panels: 6
# of lines: 10
# of times she uses her power: 1

The ultimate heartbreak occurs this issue as Ariel is promoted to being the main teleporter and dies within the same issue. We see her as she brings Rogue to Alpha team and she ends up staying with the team, making the poor choice of riding in a vehicle with Wolverine and X-23. She ends up being killed by missiles sent at the vehicle. Though there is a possibility she may have teleported in time as she was right next to a door, we still mourn her. RIP the Queen of Cameo.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The List #25 Part 2

X-Men Legacy #234
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Yanick Paquette
This may sound a bit ridiculous, but I always get excited when I see Yanick Paquette as artist. It's weird because he's not even close to my favorite artist, but something about his pencils thrills me.

This issue opens with Rogue trying to help Indra with his situation. Apparently he can no longer revert to armored form and it hurts for him to even try. What's worse is he thinks it's a punishment from his gods for killing that guy during Utopia or a blessing to stop fighting or whatever. Yeah, you'll hate him by the end of this issue too.

Meanwhile, the Cuckoos (who are featured quite a bit this post) lost their Phoenix fragments, and Cyclops has ordered them to search for where it went. Since the
Phoenix can bend psi-probes, they believe if Rogue takes a bit of their power they'll be able to sense it as more passive telepaths. They tell Rogue that taking their power will mean she'll see things triangulating from three directions as one or however they put it. Not that it matters because during the time Rogue's telepathic she just seems to be the common kind. OH and Cuckoos are still finishing each other's sentences, meaning talking one at a time, rather than in unison. Like they used to. Which was a lot cooler. But I suppose, they must be normal! Even though the entire point of X-Men is pretty much a metaphor for social outcasts. Except the first five were all WASPs. Whatever.

Rogue has a bit of trouble dealing with all the thoughts of Utopia filling up her head. Throughout the issue we find her listening in on the thoughts of people nearby while in between character interactions. One thought struck me as snobby, bitchy, and divine. Obviously this could only be the thought of one diva: my favorite tranny ARIEL!!! Yes, my dear Ariel cameo queened it up with thoughts of prussian blue underwear. Don't f
orget to tuck, my dear! Anyway, she goes on to pick up on someone thinking in French:

Obviously, it's the ever-sexy Gambit's.
Google Translate tells me that this translates to, "I would not disturb, she will have me finally." The gist of the sentence is clear enough, but feel free to submit a better translation. Rogue goes to see Gambit and immediately recognizes there's something lurking inside his mind. Which is good because men dealing with their personal demons in a solo way usually just is super fucking angsty. She goes on to explain that she still avoids him because she fears her control over her power will slip. What's worse is to her he represents a loss of control, so that explains the avoiding. Except she's still telepathic, so she's broadcasting her ideas of her and Gambit losing self control to all of Utopia (see it here). It's followed by an island-long walk of shame.

Meanwhile, Surge is concerned Magneto's tampering with her powers by giving her more juice. And she's right! Apparently Magneto is doing this behind her back to train her. Which makes no fucking sense because she's not even aware
that she should be trying to work with this change. Rogue is like, "Dude, wtf? Does that make sense on any planet?" Then Magneto asks Rogue how he should go about it, Rogue says get Surge's permission and he responds:

I love it when the Sassy Rogue of the Old Days meets Tough-As-Nails Rogue.
Seriously, Rogue could do with more sass, especially since a lot of the current readers grew up on her being that way on the 90's X-Men cartoon.
Oh and Magneto and Rogue kiss because of her feeling his attraction through empathy. It was awkward. Moving on, she also picks up on a stray thought of someone who apparently is in love with her. Bling! is in the panel shown for possible candidates and I'd be willing to bet it's her. Which would be cool except you just know that bitch Trance is going to just pipe up so she can shame the lesbian whore.

Finally, Rogue returns the Cuckoo's powers, apparently there's no trace of the Phoenix anywhere. She then returns to working with the ever-irritating Indra who keeps going on and on about his pacifist religion. K, sweetheart, if you're going to live with the X-Men, you've made yourself a target. You do what you do to survive, meaning your religion is the equivalent of a handbag, it's an accessory with survival taking first place. And if you disagree, might as well hop off the Utopia train. Anyway, Indra fears he's being possessed by something else and then his power finally work but goes to some sort of knight armor thing. Did we not just do a f#@%ing possession story?

In the end, Rogue gets comforted by Gambit, there's sexual tension as there always is, and the fans reading are getting pissed because we desire vicarious sexy time with Gambit. Don't judge, heterosexual males, he's a delicious piece of fictional male and you
know it. Conclusion: Buy this issue because Legacy's probably the best X-Book going right now and probably the one I most consistantly have fun talking about.

Nation X #4
Writer #1: Peter Milligan
Artist #1: Mike Allred
This story we get the reunion of the X-Statix creative team as well as the return of the team's cameraman, Doop. The story consists of Doop investigating for someone who will commit a crime on Utopia. To find out who it is he uses some usual forms of testing including:
Bahah, dance, Magneto, dancceeeee! The suspects Cannonball and Gambit end up trying to kill Doop and it turns out everyone's confessing to having violent feelings. Then Wolverine tries to kill Doop and Doop wakes up. Yeah, it was all a dream, and Doop apparently has a sexy girlfriend who speaks Doopean. It's a very X-Statix-y story for those of you who miss the series and that brand fo humor (and I do).

Writer #2: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: #2: Harvey Tolibao
This story focuses in on Emma and the Cuckoos, and of course, yet again it seems impossible for any current writing team to do either correctly. It opens with Emma and Namor off in a shared fantasy fighting the Kraken, a reference to Clash of the Titans. I have to scold Miss Frost because these little fantasies were how she got into trouble last time. Seriously, Emma, do you want to put yourself in another frustrating relationship with a man child? Iron Man, Namor the first time, Sebastian Shaw, and Cyclops? Still haven't learned?

Apparently Emma's bored and she gives Scott lip about it. In response, he smacks her and tells her to go fix dinner. What? Is ANYONE else starting feel that this is where the relationship is going? I find her current submissive position in their relationship so infuriating that I'm praying for a violent decapitation of Cyclops scene in Second Coming. Who's with me? We could get a peutition going. Moving forward, the Cuckoos are bored too, and have been forcing Loa, Match, and Paras into psychic illusions recreating horror movies about evil children for cheap thrills.

Oh and for some fucked up reason, the writer seems to insist on giving a push to Fraction's edit of saying Mindee was meant to be called Irma and proceeds to call her that for the rest of the issue. Dear Roberto, do you know what kind of people grow into the name Irma? Middle-aged women who smoke a pack a day and work as secretaries, that's who. What's worse is the writer also has the Cuckoos speak in unison and has Frost dismiss it as a "thing" they do rather than the default way they should be speaking. Ugh, he's seriously worse than Fraction.

The reason for the Cuckoos being so mischevious is that they're restless without the Phoenix now, and feel like any "run of the m
ill telepath." Then they go no offense to Miss Frost. Except Emma Frost isn't some common telepath nor is she Omega level. She's a level below all the super-powered Greys and Xaviers of the land (with only Nate and Jean being Omega), but remarkable for her skill with her powers. Then Emma goes onto this:

And indeed he was quite tasty in that movie, have a look.
One thing done right here is Emma is back to advising the girls in that snobby, elitist way that she did in the old days with the girls no longer resisting her. Because heaven knows that grudge that they had against her was the world's most tired material. In the end, the girls are given some responsibilities which include teaching, much like Emma did on Genosha. Except their in the classroom panel is the a severely lame showing of them just being dumb. But at least they were being slightly weird again. In the end the story was all right.

Writer #3: Ivan Brandon
Artist #3: Rael Lyra
This story revolves around Loa, Match, and Rockslide sneaking to the refrigerator for a snack because food is rationed on Utopia and they're damned sick of it. Except my boyfriend Warpath is standing guard of said refrigerator. Which makes sense for the X-Men to put their delicious things together. The story has a large part of Warpath snoozing on the job and the students getting there. AND for the second time ever, we get to see Loa use her beautiful powers. Seriously, were she my friend, I'd always be using her as a paper shredder. Also, this is the first time we see Loa have a personality, and I have to say I adore it. It's very rebellious without all the anger and angst of that Surge has with it. She's also got a smart mouth, and I'm just hoping this sticks. Another new thing we have brought into the picture is apparently Santos can absorb debris and shit while already formed.

Warpath ends up catching the group and tells them to get away. And Loa ends up bringing in a good point about how the X-Students are treated:

See the lovable factor of this newfound personality?
Warpath ends up taking care of Match by throwing him in a gas oven, and takes off Santo's head. Not that it stops him from bitching. In the end it comes to a standoff between Loa and Warpath with amazing amounts of Loa badassness and Warpath sexyness. I'll post the last page since I find it to awesome not to share after my summary.

After this there's a story between Namor and Storm with Storm playing her new role as of late which is the X-Oprah. She ends up challenging Namor and he gets a fish for the island. It's the weakest story of the bunch. Conclusion: Probably the best issue of the mini-series, definitely consider buying this. And now for sexy Warpath time!

The List #25 Part 1

Dark Avengers #15
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
This issue is about Bullseye killing Lindy, the Sentry's wife. That's about it. Oh and Deodato's art is a smoother this issue which I find is an iffy change.

Anyway, this is a shame because next issue is also the last issue. And that bites because I love this series even though it pretty much hit mediocre as soon as I got on
board. To fill the void left in my heart (which I promise will not be the mundane subject of a dozen stories like The Sentry's has) I will be returning to reading Thunderbolts which will include my beloved Moonstone. And that means you can expect commentary on it here.

Conclusion, don't pick up this issue, it was just predictable and mediocre

Spider-Woman #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Jessica begins this issue looking for her skrull, tracking down his idiot human girlfriend and figuring out that she needs to get to this bar. She goes there and calls him out. He shows himself, having been in the disguise of an old man, and proceeds to kick her ass in a mighty way considering he's in good shape as opposed to the tortured skrull Jessica took on a few issues ago. He proceeds to explain to Jessica why she was chosen to be replaced by the Skrull Queen, which totally plays into the constant angst of this series.

The Avengers interrupt, begging to differ, and proceed to ask Jessica what the hell her deal is. And Jessica thinks they're skrulls; which is understandable considering the fake Spider-man at the beginning of the series. The skrull manages to hide away in the crowd, and Jessica ends up using her skrull-identifier to find him. Wolverine comes at him from the back and claws him, but the skrull is still too strong so Jessica zaps him and ends the almighty skrull hunt. In the end, Wolverine pep talks Jessica by explaining that he's still the most screwed up of them all because it would ruin his entire image and he'd lose his macho card if he were, say, third place. Anddd it ends with another double page thingy, which is explained on the last page of the issue.

Apparently, Maleev busted his ass off to make the motion comic and also produce the comic book, so he's very tired of seeing Jessica Drew. He actually assaulted a woman on the street for looking like her on last month, so they decided to leave the Spider-Woman series alone for now. Well, actually that's half true, the latter being the truth. Too bad though because I love me a good crazy story.
Yes, tragically Spider-Woman ends with this issue which I had suspected for awhile, but now it's all done and confirmed. It's too bad considering I think a Spider-Woman ongoing would have been fantastic even though my commentary is less than useful with books like this. Still would've been a good read. Conclusion, I'd say get the trade when it comes out, all seven issues are worth having, and it's cheaper that way.

Joe the Barbarian #3
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Sean Murphy
I have to say that this series has a very Wizard of Oz, Pagemaster, Digimon World, kid-pulled-into-a-fantasy-world feel. Which is what the story is, and it's all good because those used to be my favorite sort of stories. What this story does different is it has a more mature feel, it's a Vertigo title after all.

This issue, Jack and Joe are being attacked by Deathcoats and dwarf pirate-y people in submarines. So they join the lesser of two evils, the pirates, and try to escape the Deathcoats. They do, though one sub doesn't make it, and return to the pirate peeps home which looks gorgeous and very familiar. Like I'd say that town where you acquire Shiva in FF7 mixed with Nibleheim. Thoughts, anyone?

The revelation is that Joe's the prophecized 'Dying Boy' which snaps him back to reality for a second, and he begins to wonder if he's dying in real life. For the better part of the issue he's aware that he's hallucinating, or at least he thinks he is, and is attempting to get down to the kitchen to get a soda to get his blood sugar situation fixed. The kitchen apparently is also some forest kingdom thing, and I cannot wait to see how Murphy presents it. But that's next issue because as before the group (now with one of the largest of the dwarf people) heads downward, they're all hit with sleeping pollen. Which is very Wizard of Oz-esque, and it turns out that Joe himself passed out.

I do have to reiterate that Murphy is the star of this series. Without his pencils, this series would come to dangerously cliched and just somewhat uninteresting. I find his strength to be in the landscapes he creates because they are just the focus of a page. His characters are, of course, strong, but flipping through you can see the attention to detail and creativity in each and every new place being visited. Conclusion: Buy this series. Oh and here's the FF7 Nibleheim-y place that I adored: