Thursday, August 26, 2010

The List #38 Part 1

Astonishing X-Men #35
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning
Picking up where we left off last issue with the X-Men in the zombie workshop, Cyclops decides to torch the place and escape through a tight exit. Beast voices his doubts about this and Cyclops replies along with a reference to Emma in the bedroom [Here]. Like a proper lady, she acts like she has no idea what he's talking about....mainly because it's her job to embarrass him with references to their sex life.

As the X-Men are trying to escape the inferno they caused their also met with the approaching guards of the place, so Cyke decides to cut a hole in the jet since it was probably doomed anyway. This leads to one of my great loves of Astonishing: Group shot time!!

You'll notice Emma's NOT in diamond form for a battle scene for once. This is probably because Ellis does not mention her as an
OMEGA LEVEL TELEPATH, so he doesn't have to deal with the problem of having a severely overpowered character in a fight scene. Speaking of which, according to [this article] Psylocke is now also an OMEGA LEVEL TELEPATH which I'm sure delights Psylocke fans, but with every addition to this category comes the diminishing of its specialness or meaning like how people use 'love' all the time instead of 'like'. How so? Because Jean Grey, Quentin Quire, Emma Frost, Professor Xavier, Psylocke, the Stepford Cuckoos, and very possibly No-Girl are all Omega-Level Telepaths. What's the problem? Who of the X-Community is a telepath and not Omega Level? All I can think of is Monet and in the end I'm sure it's a shorter list than the one above. As I mentioned before, [Omega level is just an entrance to pure suck] and I just hope that this trend dies off quickly (Psylocke fans, I'm not hating on Betsy, just the Omega Level classification).

Moving on, Ellis reveals that Emma still takes a special interest in her students:

From there Emma discovers the problem is two levels up which Cyclops immediately blasts with Wolverine leading the charge there. The reveal of this arc's villain is most....unexpected (and leads to one of the best group shots I've seen in a long time!):

Can I get that as a poster? Seriously.
Also, holy crap I forgot Abby Brand was still in this arc. Isn't she with the Secret Avengers now? Well, anyway, I feel like she's never been far away with her cousin Vicky Hand around (complete speculation/just-for-lols, but would you be surprised?).

Back to the story, the villain of. this arc. is............Yoanna! *Cue Free For All!* Actually no, but that would've been an improvement compared to what was finally revealed: A mutant. But angry message boarders hold those vile comments, it's not a mutant to further mangle the 198 rule, apparently it's a man whose mother survived Hiroshima so he's a technical mutant (as in one who could exist in real life). As if he's the ghost of Morrison's forgotten ugly mutants' past, he proceeds to criticise the X-Men for not being true freaks even Beast being generally likable to the eyes (this guy's frail, and gross-looking, also so weak he has to use a motorized wheelchair).

Note that Emma's almost looking to the 4th wall with a face that's totally, 'Yeah, so?'
It's basically Ellis commenting on how ridiculous it is that the X-Men are outcasts when they're all attractive and would probably be accepted as celebrities in the real world. Anyway, it turns out this guy's sole motivation for zombie-fest with the desecrating of Paradigm and Wallflower's bodies is just because these mutants are pretty so he feels he has no community with them so
he lashes out. Think it's anti-climatic and ridiculous? So does Emma as Ellis has her lampshade this moment by having her tell him he could've just written a nasty letter. 'Mutant' guy stands by his decision to try and kill them, so Cyclops goes and is about to kill him much to the horror of Storm and Beast who just told him off for this behavior. Instead Cyclops decides to let Abby Brand have him as her prisoner, and also instead of giving this guy his death wish, the X-Men are going to see to it that he's kept alive. From there the guy almost puts the building on self-destruct, but Hisako thwarts him. In the end, Wolverine smacks him in the face just in case he tries anything. Also much to the horror of his teammates. Here's his defense and a moment that makes me glad Wolverine's on the team (which is a rare feeling for me):

Oh honey, don't worry, you're as kind as a plague, and as mature as a fart joke, and for these reasons I love you!
This issue ends with Cyclops asking Brand if the bomb can still be detonated, she replies yes, and he says good because he was thinking about having Wolverine over it when it detonated. Which is a funny way to end it, but......that's it? That's really how this arc ends? As much as I appreciate Ellis saying everyone's too pretty to be believed because it's true, this felt anti-climatic and lazy.

Conclusion: As part of an arc, this issue is mediocre, but as an issue on its own, and being judged by how entertaining the characters were, it was great fun and I recommend you buy it ASAP. As I've said before, I still think Astonishing is one of the best, if not the best, X-Book, and I recommend it to anyone who wants the real X-Men. Also, a message to Warren Ellis, I'd like you to know that for writing Emma Frost 100% true to her Morrison/Whedon characterization despite other's horrible attempts and also your earlier fumbles, I offer you free sexual favors of gratitude which you can collect any time (you know, in the spirit of the diamond queen herself). But seriously, Ellis has Emma dead-on these days without missing a single beat, and I LOVE him for it. And I've critcized nearly every writers attempts at characterizing Emma, so for me to have no complaints is Haley's Comet rare.

X-Men: Curse of the Mutants- Storm + Gambit #1
Writer: Chuck Kim
Artist: Chris Bachalo
This book follows up the decision made in X-Men #2 to resurrect Dracula with the X-Men sending Storm and Gambit to be the ones to retrieve it as the vampires have put up shields to block from teleporting into their island base.

Rather than explain the plot, I'll just say the necessary: They're successful in the end. Also, this one-shot focuses more on Storm and her development with Gambit functioning as sidekick. I'd take more issue with this, but the lack of focus also means Gambit gets to just be the fun, charismatic thief that people love as opposed to the irksome attempts at developing his character further with his endless struggle with the uninteresting 'Death' persona.

Kim's Storm is a smart balance between a current regal Queen and a former warrior/thief returning to her old talents. Kim also takes an opportunity to have Storm wrestle with her feelings on killing that she's had to recently examine with the reveal of X-Force with the discovery that the shield blocking teleporting that needs to be taken down is powered by people being drained. A great conflict is brought in as time is of the essence with the vampires discovering Storm and Gambit's presence, but the only way she knows how to take care of the shield quickly is to bring it down with her powers and kill the human hosts (who are begging for her help). In the end she does bring down the shield, but is clearly wracked with severe guilt over what she's just done. It's the perfect move to put the task of killing (even if it's pretty much mercy killing) in the face of the Number 1 person opposed to the X-Men's recent kill-or-be-killed stance.

Kim's skillful handling of character even extended to ones who only played a minor role in this issue including Emma who sounded pitch-perfect when she was complaining about how ineffective Dazzler was in battle. It also continues a pre-existing rivalry between the Queen and the Cameo Queens, so good on Kim even though I believe Northstar and Emma could be divalicious as friends.

Bachalo's return to an X-Men-related comic is probably one of the most eagerly anticipated aspects of this one-shot, and he really was a welcome return, there's really nothing quite like his style. There was some fumbling with the fight scenes as things tended to get crowded and confusing to follow, which isn't an unheard of complaint on Bachalo's work, but for the most part everything was well-done.

Conclusion: This one-shot will probably be the best part of this event that piggybacks onto the current vampire trend, and it's simply a well-done story on its own. Bachalo and Kim were definitely welcome talents to the X-Men universe, and I for one would enjoy them gracing us with their presence again sometime soon.


Mtti said...

just read it today and loved it, Storm and Gambit were great and the Northstar and Dazzler moment was a plus.

X-23 said...

Bachalo is sooo amazing. To think that I hated him in the past... How could I? He is SO adorable, the movement of the character's bodies is so interesting, the expressions, too. I started to admire him when I read the Dark Spider-Man mini, it was the cutest thing ever. I think the reason I didn't like Bachalo was because he was an artist of the X-Men ongoing, and he was just a little too much. He should be a guest-star, drawing one-shots and minis, not ongoings because after 3-4 issues he starts to kinda rub me the wrong way.
Plus - Gambit and Storm could be a nice couple, I remember them making out in the X-Treme-X-Men behind Rogue's back. That was intense and unexpected.