Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part Two

Astonishing X-Men 28

by Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi

One noticeable difference between old Wolverine and current Wolverine: rather than try to be a “good” mentor to his young charge, he advises Armor to kill without hesitation. Gone is the attempt at compassion or restraint. Given Cyclops’ recent change of mind, it is hard to understand why Wolverine is warning Armor against any restraining action by Scott; Scott seems to be almost as bloodthirsty as Logan these days.

There’s a trick that comic writers use a lot when they want to bring back a surprise guest from the old days; they have the main character(s) mention the guest in some fashion relevant to the ongoing event, or just show a flashback. Ellis overdoes it with way too many references to Forge, so that by the time you get to the final page, there was no way to be surprised. If Cyclops, Beast and Storm are all busy talking about the guy, it ruins whatever chance there was for surprise. As much as I liked the panel layout the first time I saw it, Bianchi is overdoing it now with the constancy of it. There is something to be said for moderation.

The issue is slow, and all that happens is the team meets up with three characters who all say the same name. I’ll have to suspend judgment and wait for more of the story to comment fully, but it’s a little lacking compared to the way Whedon started off the Astonishing title, and I’m not convinced this creative team can live up the higher standards that fans have set for this particular adjective X-Men title.

Captain America Theater of War: America the Beautiful 1

by Paul Jenkins and Gary Erskine

Paul Jenkins takes a turn with the Theater of War series, but it goes sideways for me. Cap has taken Bobby Shaw under his wing and helped to guide him, up to the point of the Normandy invasion. While the main story is good, there is something that feels wrong about watching Captain America charge fearlessly and easily through a hail of German bullets. I find myself wishing they had chosen another front, or better yet, a fictional fight, where they could stage their production.

The real invasion of Normandy was a brutal affair, full of normal Joes scared out of their wits, but knowing what had to be done. The fighting was hard and bloody, but part of the importance of the event was that it was not supermen charging up the shore, but normal everyday American people. The idea that they had to have Cap lead them by their collective noses takes away from the memory of the guys that actually did the heavy lifting at Normandy, suggesting that normal just wasn’t enough, when we all know that on that day, it was.

Gary Erskine’s art is good in places, but his version of Captain America seems out of place, and they have left off the wings on his mask, making him look like Ultimate Cap instead of regular Cap. It makes everything look out of place. I mean, he has his wings on the cover, but not in the story?

They include a backup story by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway that I’m pretty sure is a re-run, but if they want to charge us $4.99 for these things, they have to add more pages, so they dug up an existing story to reprint that had some war angle they thought would be sufficient. I would have preferred a lower cover price. There have been better Theater of War books than this.

New Exiles 17

by Chris Claremont and Jim Seeley

Why change when you’re this close to the end? Claremont continues to have Psylocke give us thought balloons that describe the fight, and convey the urgency through words instead of the action on the page. I thought it couldn’t get worse, but then she starts talking out loud, and saying brilliant things like, “missed me!” Ugh.

The bad guys lose, of course, but we also lose Cat. Whether the (alleged) death of Kitty in the 616 universe put this thought into Claremont’s head or not, I don’t know. The backup story is drawn by Vincenc Villagrasa, and I like the cosmic backgrounds. Diana Fox sacrifices herself so Sage can win the battle with Merlyn. After so many issues of his threat, all it takes is for Sage to get her head together, and she beats him in a single blow. There’s just not much here in the way of anything original, but thankfully the series ends next issue.

Uncanny X Men Annual 2

by Matt Fraction, Mitch Breitweiser and Daniel Acuna

This annual focuses on the White Queen and her involvement in the new campaign of Dark Reign. Daniel Acuna gives us some sequences for the flashbacks that show a prior relationship with Namor, who is also present at the reverse-Illuminati meeting. Between Namor, Sebastian Shaw, Cyclops, and who knows who all else, Emma is turning out to be quite the mutant floozy.

Acuna’s style is very different from Breitweiser’s style for the present sequences, but I found myself enjoying them both. I have to note that in the credits, Elizabeth Breitweiser is the color artist, making a strong continuance in the Marvel family to give work to relatives. The trend has become more common in the last year, and she only does the color art for the sequences that her husband (I’m guessing it’s her husband) does, she is not credited with the coloring for Acuna’s work.

The flashbacks establish Emma’s relationship with Namor, and chronicle her rise to power. In the present, she casts an illusion to make Namor think she has done one thing, while she does something else in reality. She withholds the full truth from Cyclops too, so it seems like she’s playing three sides of the same coin, just to maneuver herself into the top seat of power, no matter who wins. For those who have suspected that the White Queen still has plenty of evil left in her, here’s a ton of ammunition for you. But I’m sure she can spin this with Scott easily when the truth comes out. Right?

Wolverine: Origins 32

by Daniel Way and Yanick Paquette

Fresh off the cancelled Young X-Men series, Yanick Paquette comes in to take over art duties. You can tell by the ferret-face he gives Wolverine on the cover. While simplistic, he actually does better here than he did in Young X-Men, although I think the inker, Michel Lacombe, helps him out in places. The story is still on a good track, interspersing memories of the past as the characters retrace their steps, to try to figure out what their future will be. Right now, it’s mostly consumed with the need for veangance.

There’s something of a double-cross here, and it was nicely executed. At the end, though, even Wolverine is betrayed. There’s an appearance on the last page by someone who could make things a little interesting next issue, but for the sake of those who haven’t read it yet, I’ll keep mum here. You guys know where to get your spoilers. The title is lacking a little panache with the loss of Mike Deodato, but the story is good enough to make me come back in a month to see what happens, and that’s a good start.

X-Men: Kingbreaker 2

by Christopher Yost and Dustin Weaver

Yost has cast his imagination far and wide, perhaps with the help of his artist, and they have come up with a cool team of villains that Vulcan uses to track down the rebels following Lilandra. There’s a touching moment between Lilandra and Gladiator that shows us his conflicting emotions, and a narrow escape that makes me fell like Gladiator almost had someone’s boot in his grasp.

Havok has broken out of prison, which we saw last issue he was building up to do, and wouldn’t you know it, but there are a number of other prisoners that just happen to be friends of his. Maybe they shouldn’t have kept them all in one place… Vulcan’s way of dealing with a cosmic version of the United Nations is predictable at this point, but fun to read, since he’s staying in the character we have come to know. Dustin Weaver’s art keeps me hooked all the way through. The way the layout and choice of things to show us goes is excellent, and it feels like things are progressing fast. The pace is much more exciting than Astonishing X-Men.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny 5

by various

Mike Carey wraps up the Iceman/Mystique confrontation, and despite the internet guessing about when this takes place, and desperate fans wanting Mystique to be dead in the desert from her encounter with Wolverine, they confirm that this takes place after she dragged her carcass out of the barren wastes. The sad fact is, as much as Mr. Carey tried with the story, it doesn’t ring true. The fling between these two was never that strong to begin with, and was mostly a plot device for betrayal later. There was never enough development for me to buy into the idea that Bobby had fallen for a murderer.

Michael Ryan is given much to work with either, with the action taking place on a boat, with a clear blue sky for background. Of course, where George Perez or Sergio Aragones might have put something there anyway that would fit, Mr. Ryan just leaves it blank, with nothing to focus on but this melodrama that I don’t think fits either character.

The next story is by Frank Tieri and Ben Oliver, showing the X-Men catching up to Avalanche, who is also hiding out in San Francisco. It’s short and sweet, and good for what it is, with the X-Men basically putting a “scared straight” visit into him. After that, Kieron Gillen brings us up to date with Dazzler, also headed for San Fran. Sara Pichelli is the artist, and I can’t say it does much for me. Allison is almost unrecognizable, and I only know she’s the Dazzler because they tell me she is. It’s like they didn’t even give her a character bible to let her know the characters features. The story is good enough for a short story, and gives us a little mutant slice of life story. It will be interesting to see if Marvel picks up on any of these characters and shows us more of them in the rest of the Marvel universe.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.