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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The List #44 Part 1

Hey everyone, I'm back from my extended absence that was due to my busy schedule of life-having. So yeah, I'm going to recap what I missed briefly (well, relatively considering my original commentary) in the next two posts because it would kill me not to say a couple things on what's gone by. Let's get started, shall we?

Action Comics #894
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Pete Woods
The much-anticipated return of the extremely popular Death of the Endless turned out to be a bit overhyped. While her appearance lasted the entire issue and contained much dialogue, in the end there was a loss of that special flair that comes with Death's appearance. Remember how Death's appearance was always a treat because every line she had was pure gold? This not so much. I think this can be partially blamed on the visually uninteresting presentation from the artist which just made the entire event feel very common and unremarkable. Then there's the bland dialogue she's fed that ultimately leaves maybe one memorable moment. It's all very general and with this issue basically rotating around just their discussion it would lead you to think said dialogue would be a bit more entertaining.

In this appearance, Death is essentially supporting Lex's story, whose appeal is beyond me and failed to capture me here, so instead of stealing the spotlight like her return should be she's simply formed around Lex's story. Conclusion: Possibly a problem with who she was placed with, but this appearance of the typically peppy Death turned out to be flat. Hopefully we'll see her again in a better light soon though.

Uncanny X-Men #529
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Whilce Portacio with Harvey Tolibao
This issue contains just more of Fraction's poor attempts at writing Emma. Oh and Danger and Box finally become the pioneering couple that inspire confidence to those sex robot enthusiasts who've come into the spotlight of public humiliation as of late. Also, can we talk about how creepy it was when Fantomex walked in on Box who had a projection of Danger and her systems up on his screen? It just had this horrible vibe of a creeper who got a hold of someone's nudes. Whatever, at least they finally went out on a date.

The 'Lights' are dealt with at some points, but I won't really get into it. Nor will I get into Generation Hope #1. Why? Because these new mutants have bland, one-note personalities with unoriginal powers. And I mean one
-note as each character seems to be defined by one trait that is constantly played up on. The metal-skin girl? Her academic drive, that's all she sees the world through. African girl with fire and ice powers? All religious/spiritual focused thoughts. And of course, the feral guy's always mate and sometimes fight/flight which is ridiculous especially because you KNOW they would have never written a female feral mutant to have mate on her mind all the time. I could go on and on about how much I dislike this feral mutant's likely gendered presentation, but I'll do it some other time. Which by the way, all of these powers? It's not just that we've seen them before; it's that we've seen them so many times that it's aggravating to see the same old powers used for the new generation. One would think that the writers would jump at the opportunity to think up some nifty new powers and complex new characters, but no it would seem. I've heard part of the reason to be sort of like the original five X-Men, butttt don't we go down that route every couple of years with some mini series or origins issue?

The main plot of this issue is yet again dramatizing for no reason. Fantomex all of a sudden becomes involved in the abduct Shaw mission where he only does two things: Hypnotizes Box into going out with Danger and places an EVA in place of Shaw in the prison. Even though Emma's fully capable of convincing Box into peacing out for awhile. Whatever, another opportunity for Fraction to air out his fratboy brand badassery. Oh and also, Kitty's involved. But is she moving around you may ask!? The science club made her a special suit. Yup, yet another example of science being the new magic in this series. And in terms of Emma, she was yet again interpreted through the eyes of a 13 year old as her dialogue was everywhere and just horrid. This being the worst example:

Did Fraction really just attempt to claim that Nightcrawler was Emma's favorite?
Even though they've had maybe two lukewarm scenes together?
Seriously, why does Fraction insist on attempting to qualify crap that has little-to-no previous evidence. Even worse this issue was the presentation of Danger's pondering on whether or not Emma was good or evil. You would think some things would have been made clear by, that she's essentially gray and simply working in a lighter shade these days, but it seems basic ideas elude this series. Conclusion: Standard Fraction crap. Next.

X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Jon Buran
For this issue I'll only be covering the Emma story considering the others are about Fantomex, Cypher, and Rockslide who are obviously not my favs. Also, I'm going to touch on her Young Allies appearance.

So the story is that a massage parlor gets attacked by Mandrill while Emma's getting a massage there. He uses his pheromone powers to control the women there and make them fall in love with him, but Emma remains immune in her diamond form. Emma and Mandrill discuss why he thinks he deserves these women and why he believes it's ok to manipulate them with this questionable line:
While I adore this calling out of men's absurd expectations, there's a few things wrong here with Emma being the one to say this. Considering she's someone who's gotten plastic surgery to conform to the ideal image of women and has hooked up with some of the worst womanizers, I think she's hardly in a great position to speak on this especially because she's still with an immature manchild. Some of you may say 'Who better than her,' and I can see that, but I would at least have liked her to address that she's previously conformed to these ridiculous notions. I'm all for Emma Frost having some sort of feminist angle, but one that at least makes sense to her character.

Concerning Young Allies #6, her appearance was basically what's common of her recent spotlight. She steps in with difficult to belive altruistic motives (in this case wanting to bring Firestar to Utopia), but the writers try to cover it up by having her be pointlessly bitchy in ways that make no sense to her character and really just serve to insult her intelligence (the whole ordering coffee then acting insulted by it when someone tries to serve her it). And the resolution of this coming to Utopia issue ended with a very fanfic-y "I don
't want to live by any labels" speech from Firestar which left Emma 'touched'. Do I even need to explain how I feel about that? Also, this inability to correctly execute Emma's voice by most writers makes it sadly hilarious that Kelly Thompson of She Has No Head! said today, "A lot of writers really seem to “get” Emma’s voice as Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis, Scott Lobdell, Kathryn Immonen and several other significant writers have all nailed her voice in recent years..." [Source]. While, yes, all of these writers have besides Immonen have, but still, all the rest generally disappoint in a big way and miss her voice and characterization by quite a bit. Anyway, onwards to the most recent poll:

Telekinesis and Telepathy tied for #1! And then Flight, Shape-shifting, and Super Strength all came in 3rd, 4th, and 5th way behind the first two. Thanks for voting and be sure to vote one the next one! Also, be sure to look out for the next post which hopefully will be in a couple days where I review the lastest Avengers Academy, Avengers the Childrens Crusade, and Chew.