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.


Suzene said...

You're going to review Chew? Oh, this I am looking forward to.

I kinda wanna like the Five Lights kids, but they mostly just seem to highlight to me what a bad idea it is to put together yet another junior team given that the last junior team still gets treated as an afterthought. And yes, the powers seem redundant. Someone who can make fire? Guys, you HAVE a kid like that; his name is Match and he's lucky if he gets to be a background character these days. Another feral? You had one, his name was Wolfcub, and you killed him off because no one cared. Someone who can fly, and only fly. Lovely - they've got one of those and his power is considered so useless that they had to make him all spikey just to make him worth having around in a fight. A speedster? DO I EVEN NEED TO SPELL THAT ONE OUT?!

It's possible that some of these similarities might make for possible bonding/mentorship moments with some of the established X-Men, but again -- been there, done that, have the gravemarkers over the corpses of most of the last junior team to prove it. Here's hoping the new writer can really make their personalities carry this book, but I'm just not sold on it being worth a try.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I would like to read a look at gendered presentation of ferals.

I can get behind Emma berating people for buying the 'every man deserves a couple of hot pliant babes' because while that's what she uses, she has never shied away from expressing contempt for those she controls. That social assumption is what made her need to/able to take the path she has, which I'm sure must get tiring sometimes.

X-23 said...

So glad you are back with your awesome reviews!) You've become the first place I go to when I'm online, it's just comforting having something that interesting put and well thought through to read these days. Enjoy your personal life, though, cuz my guess is that it should be fucking interesting seeing how it made you you)

It's a shame that I haven't read Young Allies and To Serve and Protect yet, so I can't really add anything, but I can say I expected that much from these two books...

FSaker said...

Emma may be conformed to the social expectations of men, but Mandril doesn't know it, does he? And I guess maybe exactly because she does so, she has the life experience to criticize such behavior.

The Five Lights need to be further developed, that's true. Still, Kieron Gillen may be able to give them a good development in long term. It helps that it is a small team, unlike the New and Young X-Men. Gabriel could have the power of Alice (from the browser game Something Amiss), since it involves speed but not in the usual way.

Oh, and nice poll! I voted for Wind Dancer, not because she's a favorite of mine, but because she's the only one there that needs to be repowered to have a comeback. Prodigy, Rictor and Moonstar are doing fine in their current teams, and Peter David already implied that Callisto and Marrow will eventually reappear in his X-Factor series. Besides, Rictor actually became a more interesting character after he lost his powers (he was quite lame before that).

Wonder Man said...

the Emma and Kurt thing is weird, but Emma's weird

Mr. Hellfire said...

@Suzene, same here about wanting to like the Five Lights, and exactly, it's just redundant and a bad idea.

@Illusclaire, yeah I can definitely see her as aware and critical of it; I'd just also like to see her address the fact that she also plays into it while being critical of it.

@X-23, thank you, I'm thrilled to be back especially considering the lovely responses:) And in my opinion you're not missing much where YA and X-Men: TSP are concerned.

@FSaker, indeed and I feel considering the hesitance towards X-Junior teams in general should make the writers try to sell these characters from the get-go with strong intros and whatnot.

@WonderMan mmm, I just felt like it was more to blame on Fraction than Emma even though she's indeed strange.