It has been quite an interesting month in many respects as far as Marvel’s latest round of relaunches is concerned. This is their big month, marking the release of several new series such as Avengers World, All-New X-Factor, Black Widow and more. It seems that in the first months of all the new series, Marvel is double-shipping the titles, and with Black Widow at least that has really paid off since Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto have delivered on an amazing book. I read All-New X-Factor #1 a couple weeks back and it was not so good. It was a letdown basically.
But All-New X-Factor #2 seems to be turning that around. I enjoyed the story for sure. I wasn’t really expecting it to be better, but it was and I have to say that there’s a big difference between this issue and the debut issue. The art is slightly better as well, although it could be more well-defined at the least, so there’s that. When all is said and done, I’m now getting interested in the title, and if things continue to improve, I can see myself sticking around for a while.
All-New X-Factor 02Like I said, I haven’t read any of the issues of X-Factor prior to this relaunch. I wasn’t really into comics up until about two years ago, and since then I’ve pretty much been immersing myself in DC all the way. And I kind of needed a new X-Men team to read about since the current books aren’t doing much for me to keep me really interested in them, except maybe Wolverine and the X-Men but that’s ending (and apparently getting relaunched?). Hence one of the reasons why I’ve picked up All-New X-Factor this month. The first issue was disappointing, but the second issue seems to have picked up.
After all the setup of the first issue, we are finally getting into the meat of the story. Of course, it doesn’t quite help that this first arc of the new series ends here. And abruptly at that. We had barely gotten introduced to a villain before he is taken out, rather explosively. I liked Gambit and Quicksilver in this issue. We got some interesting backstory for the latter and that gave me a new outlook on him, since all that I know about him is that he used to be an Avenger prior to this series and that he is also Magneto’s son. Together, the two of them provide some really good moments in this issue, and they are a highlight.
The new villain proves to be somewhat lackluster. It is the sort of done-and-done characterisation that I lament seeing in comics, since it prevents the characters from developing. And that’s one of the big negatives of this issue. I wanted to know more about him and his motivations before we got done with him. But, we have what we have.
Another positive thing was that we saw some new characters, and they have some bad history with Quicksilver, so that provided quite a bit of drama for the issue. And despite the ending of that particular subplot here, I have a feeling that we are going to be seeing them again at some point, and I’m totally fine with that. I’d love to see them again. They get brief cameos at best, and given their history with Quicksilver, I’d love to see somewhat of a long-term plan in place for them.
The art is slightly better than last time, as I said. There is the negative that some of the characters just flow into each other visually as far as their faces are concerned, and this sets up a lot of confusion, especially when the action really gets going. Another thing was that there was an over-reliance on yellow for the colour palette throughout the issue, and in the second half with the villain making his big entry, things get really bright, almost so that they hurt. But, all the same, the art is pretty detailed and Giandomenico has a good sense of story pacing and flow. And overall, colourist Lee Loughridge does so some good work, especially with scenes involving Quicksilver.
I’m kind of really looking forward to All-New X-Factor #3 now, so February should be interesting.
You can read the full review over at The Founding Fields:
“Bit of a rough but promising start.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
I’ve never read an X-FaYou can read the full review over at The Founding Fields:
“Bit of a rough but promising start.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
I’ve never read an X-Factor team title before, so All-New X-Factor #1 is pretty much my first introduction to the whole thing. Launched as part of the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, this book presents a very different X-Men team make-up, with the only recognisable character for me being Gambit, a favourite of mine since the days of the Fox X-Men cartoon, alongside others that I am not familiar with at all, such as Quicksilver and Polaris. Having sampled almost all the current X-books, I have to say that overall, this book is definitely the most… unique one, since it presents the X-Factor team as a corporate ace in the hole for Serval Industries, which only wants to help people (the company that is).
Gambit is pretty much the star of this comic and he shines throughout. Sometimes Peter David gives him too much dialogue and the character then fumbles, but catches on pretty quickly to the change in status. The first half of the comic, or the opening pages rather, are just chock-full of dialogue and they just take away from the larger script itself. Still, David does a good job with him and its nice to see Gambit getting some prominence given the failure of his solo title to be able to sustain itself for a decently lengthy run.
Characters like Polaris and Quicksilver kind of suffer however since there isn’t much room devoted to them developing their powers or even learning to work together as a team for the benefit of everyone else. The issue is quite predictable in how it brings the team together and while I liked that Gambit was kind of the main man for the team, and was essentially our point man, things didn’t quite click together for me. I wanted to see more of Polaris and Quicksilver but don’t really see anything of their backhistory or anything, other than the fact that Quicksilver is Polaris’ half-brother and that he was, until recently, an Avenger. That’s really it.
On the art side, Carmine Di Giandomenico serves as the penciller while Lee Loughridge handles the colours and VC’s Cory Petit handles the letters. The art was serviceable at best. Nothing exceptional, nothing dreary. It was decent. Gambit is drawn fairly evil, especially with his eyes and all, but largely I am not impressed with the title as I expected to be. Black Widow #1 was quite an amazing issue in that regard, thanks largely due to Phil Noto’s excellent work. All-New X-Factor #1 is just not in that same league anymore, and I doubt it will be, even for the next couple issues.
I’ll stick around for an issue more or maybe two, but right now, I don’t see myself continuing on with the series in the long-term....more
It seems that Marvel is taking a pretty big chance with its All-New Marvel NOW! launch of new titles (and a sprinkling of some relaunches as well) in that the new titles all appear to be double-shipping in their first months. That’s pretty significant I believe and hints also that they trust these books to that degree. Since Black Widow is the only title I’ve read so far (two issues that is), I won’t comment on whether it is a strategy that is working for me since the bigger picture needs to be looked at, but damn, Black Widow #2 was an awesome issue on all fronts.
Black Widow #1 was a damn good issue. The writing was perfect, and the art almost perfect. It was a perfect blending of talent for a character that I’ve really come to love thanks to the recent run of Marvel movies. With Black Widow #2, Nathan Edmondson continues to build on her world, perfectly contextualising her within the movies continuity while perfectly doing his own thing as well. I love what he is doing. And having now gotten a good taste of Phil Noto’s style, the art here was damn gorgeous.
Black Widow 02Can I just take a moment to say that that cover for this issue is like one of the most insanely awesome covers I’ve seen? I mean, if this is the kind of art quality that we can expect from this book, then by damn, I’m in it hook, line and sinker because I jsut can’t get enough of this. The cover gives you a perfect idea for Phil’s style in this series and in that manner, it is perfectly representative. How great is that? But honestly, I’m in love with that cover. Natasha’s pose is perfect, and I love its understated action.
So, moving on to the story. The previous issue gave us a good look at this new Natasha. Nathan began by telling a great self-contained story in that debut issue and he does the same thing here as well. Most comics today, like ninety-five percent of them, have these long and involved arcs right off the bat and it can get disconcerting. Sometimes I just want to read a few comics where each story is in its own place and doesn’t really relate to anything else within the series, not directly.
In this issue, we see Natasha takes on a more personal mission this time, doing something for someone who appears to be an old friend. The issue starts off right in the middle of things, right in the action, but Nathan does go back to fill in the blanks and show how she got to that point. What I liked was that this time Natasha goes up against someone who is almost a match for her, someone who does have a shot at taking her down. It helps establish that she is not as big a hotshot as you might think. It helps to ground her character in realism. It shows that even she has limits of her own. Moving forward, if Nathan maintains that same tone, then I’m sure that this will be a great series indeed.
Another great thing about this issue was that Natasha’s agent got his own moment here to be a damn badass. It wasn’t something I expected at all and the surprise proved to be a great one indeed. Looking at him, you’d never think of him in those terms, seriously. How Nathan pulled that magic trick out of his hat, I have no idea, but pull it out he did and it is one of the many highlights of this issue.
Speaking of the art, I can just look at this issue all day, it is that good. Having gone through two issues with this particular style, I can almost forget all my other favourite comics. The loose pencils give the entire an undefined style to a degree but it is an approach that works wonders. The entire red-pink palette also does its wonders. I mean, I’m not really sure what else to say about the art here. I love it. I’m really hoping that Phil Noto is on this series for like a hundred issues or something. For me, just based on the art alone, Black Widow could well be the big break-out series of the year.
Needless to say, this was pretty much a perfect issue.
Just earlier this week I was listening to Kelly Thompson’s podcast with Sue from DC Women Kickin’ Ass where they talked about gender parity at Marvel and DC, both in terms of the characters and the creators. And a point was raised that Marvel has done less than DC, or that DC is currently just better with it. The podcast was released just after NYCC last year, and some of the news that came out at the time was about Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative which would mark the first big step forward in the company’s Marvel NOW! relaunch of its titles, with a slew of new titles, and a few restarts as well. In light of that news, while the creator gender parity hasn’t increased any, the character gender parity certainly has. And new title Black Widow is at the leading edge of that.
Black Widow should be familiar to anyone who’s been watching Marvel movies for about four years now. Under Scarlet Johannson, the character has seen a revival of sorts and she’s quickly become a fan favorite with the fandom demanding she get her own movie. I concur. This is why I was so taken up with the idea of a Black Widow solo comic because I see it as a great step forward to make that happen, though there’ve been a number of Black Widow titles over the years. With this new series, Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto deliver something truly amazing.
Black Widow 01Black Widow has been seen in two movies so far, and while that’s not enough to go on, I admit, I still say that she’s been pretty damn fantastic. She’s shown up bigger characters (particularly Tony Stark) gone up against people like Hulk and Loki, and driven a Chitauri skimmer with her fist-knives embedded in the skimmer’s actual driver. In the midst of all that, she’s been developed as a character such that she’s retained her badassery from what the comics and animated series over the years have given us, and yet she’s also helped break the fascination that a female character on-screen can only be an asskicker if she wears short shorts and shows off her womanly parts.
Along with characters like Sif, Katniss, Merida and others, Black Widow is one of the best portrayals of female characters in movies right now, and this is what Edmondson and Noto build on for their new series.
Black Widow #1 takes some plot points from The Avengers and uses them to further its own story, setting it apart from the movies so that it has its own continuity. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye did something similar. It showed us a Hawkeye in-between his missions for SHIELD and the Avengers and gave us a more comprehensive look at the character.
Black Widow is very similar in that regard and more than anything, while it has some really great action scenes, it also takes care to develop Natasha as a character. She feels very well-rounded and three-dimensional here, given that one of her driving motivations right now is to balance her ledger, which is pretty far in the red. So she takes on jobs where she either has to bring in the worst of the worst villains, or just take them out (the former is specified repeatedly, the latter is kind of just hinted at).
I had some high expectations from this title and based on this one issue, I can say that they are definitely being met. Edmondson’s script is a little off in places and it gets too wordy, but overall it feels pretty solid. He pulls you into the story from the get go and establishes his version of Natasha Romanoff early on so that the reader has an idea of how this issue is going to end. Which is not to say that the ending is predictable, far from it actually. It was a great twist and I loved every panel of it.
I am passingly familiar with Phil Noto’s artwork, mostly from his colours for Darwyn Cooke’s Before Watchmen: Minutemen from 2012-2013, and I got to say that seeing a full issue worth of art, pencils and colours and inks, is really thrilling. He has a really interesting style that is a big departure from what the “traditional” superhero style. In fact, I’d say that the artwork is a big draw of the comic in the first place. In the second half, when the climax is about to go down, there’s a big action scenes and what’s notable is how Noto emphasises it, with white border inks for the characters as they kick and punch. And his Natasha is pretty damn good, whether she’s in uniform or not. No spinebreakers of any kind here, not even close. The pencils in general can be a little off in that the art doesn’t look quite polished, but the colours more than make up for that.
Overall, Natasha has seen a great outing with this issue and I’m definitley around for a few more. The second issue is supposed to shit out in 2 weeks, which means that the title is going to double-ship this month just as with some of the other new launches from Marvel, so not long to wait!
Last week Marvel began the revival of its Marvel UK line with Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 by Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill and Rich Elson. It was a pretty good first issue for a new series, actually the first in a new crossover specific to Marvel UK, and I really liked it. I had no prior connection to any of the characters so that uniqueness helped the charm too. That issue ended on a really interesting note and I was excited about how Kieron Gillen and Dietrich Smith would handle Dark Angel, who made her revived first appearance in the closing stages of Alpha #1. Sadly, the reality failed to match the expectations.
Handling a character’s revival isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The main problem I had with this issue is that it went to great lengths to give me Dark Angel’s back-story and it was all poorly executed. That is the bottomline. While Smith’s art is really good for the most part, Gillen’s script and his dialogue just did not work for me, and I can only hope that the next couple issues pick up the slack and do better, because this is a series that I do want to like.
This issue kind of picks up in the aftermath of Alpha #1 and goes from there as we see Dark Angel investigate what happened at Darkmoor Castle (her home) and where to go from there. Its a very tried and true approach to introducing a character, particularly in video games, and for the first few pages I was indeed hooked with the story and the art. Reading about new characters, especially those as different as the Marvel UK characters who are all extremely fascinating to this reader, is always a thrill and Gillen and Smith gave me that from the get go. But then, after the first few pages, things started to head south, and not in a good way either.
The problem with this issue was that it spent too much time on the back-story and thus the pacing was completely off. Most of the issue spends time with this and by the time we get to the end, that’s when things really kick off and the climax left me very underwhelmed. It was as if the story was cut off in the middle and the second half will be seen in a future issue. Well that’s not a good idea. A book like this, it needs to hook you from the get go (which this did) and then maintain that (which this did not).
Another thing that got to me was how this issue was mostly just Dark Angel doing her own thing. I mean, she finds out in the first few pages that Captain Britain had come by and that something had happened to him, but she kind of doesn’t care. She just goes about her day as if its all perfectly normal. Wake up. Head to hell to do some vacuum-cleaning for Mephisto, head back out to Darkmoor, take down some bad guys. And that’s it. There was nothing particularly special about the issue that drew me in to the Revolutionary War storyline other than the first few pages.
And that’s kind of unforgivable since this is a revival book. Captain Britain wanted to specifically recruit her for the team that Nick Fury wanted to put together to deal with the stuff happening in Europe with Mys-Tech, but other than seeing her ties to the organisation, we don’t get anything else. And the big villain of the issue is seemingly a non-entity in some ways. He shows up, he threatens, and that’s it. There’s no… conflict in this issue. That’s the problem.
Art-wise, I like what Smith does with colourist Ruth Redmond and letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles. The first few pages particularly are really good as we get to see Dark Angel from a lot of different camera angles. It helps to really establish her visual design, especially when she wears her head-gear, which was kind of really awesome. This continues for the rest of the comic as Smith plays with perspectives throughout. I wanted to see more, but the issue feels cut-off, and there are some really weird things such as the particular vision of Hell that is presented, which seemed very generic and uninteresting. But by and large, this was good work I think.
Overall though, I’m not happy with this comic at all.
To continue with the whole theme of Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative which has heralded several relaunches, this week also saw the resurgence of the publisher’s Marvel UK titles with Revolutionary War: Alpha #1. Until last year, I had no idea that Marvel had a distinct line of British heroes and villains. Then I heard about Captain Britain passing on his mantle to Faiza Hussain as part of the Age of Ultron and my curiosity was piqued but I didn’t have the reading space then to really explore the Marvel UK line. With the advent of the Revolutionary War crossover though, I can get on board!
Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 is the first issue of this entire crossover which will span several titles and bring back a good majority of the Marvel UK characters. The heroes of this particular series appear to be Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom, plus some other characters who are recruited and brought on board over the course of this issue. Based on this issue, I’d say that things are off to a fairly good start, whether we talk about the writing or the art, both of which were quite good despite a few flaws here and there.
First off, I think that Mark Brooks’ cover for the issue deserves a special mention. While extremely packed, it does show off a lot of heroes and its great to see the diversity in the team here, which isn’t something that you’d normally see in a team book from either Marvel or DC, what with the over-the-top focus on white dudes. This cover is different and it is the start of something great I think.
With the story, we start off with Captain Britain and Agent Wisdom of MI:13 investigating an attack by the Psycho-Wraiths near Canary Wharf in London. The two quickly determine that the evil mystical organisation known as Mys-Tech must be back and on a resurgence of its own, given that this is the third such attack of the Psycho-Wraiths in twenty-four hours. Matters are complicated when SHIELD is involved and it is revealed that the good Captain Britain has been working with SHIELD as part of its Euro division for a while now. From there, we quickly go into recruitment mode as Agent Keller of SHIELD is assigned to work with Captain Britain and Agent Wisdom to bring back into the fold some key British heroes, especially all those who were there at the Battle of London Bridge where Mys-Tech was believed to have been defeated, some time back.
I really liked the issue because of how different all these characters are from the regular superheroes I’ve been reading about for almost two years now. With fantastic names like Tigon Liger, Motormouth, Death’s Head, Dark Angel and more, this issue was an incredible read because of how fresh it feels to someone inundated with X-Men and Avengers characters across the board. That uniqueness has a lot of value and its fantastic to see that Marvel is experimenting with this. It also helps that Andy Lanning, one of UK’s top comics creators is working on this issue, alongside Alan Cowsill, another UK favourite, from what I can tell, trawling the internet for info.
Their dialogue definitely reflects the British mentality and there are little things here and there that complete that entire atmosphere, and help establish that this is not something wholly different from what we are used to. Bringing in SHIELD serves to bridge Marvel UK with the rest of Marvel 616 and the current setting, so that’s even more valuable. What I’m interested in seeing is how Revolutionary War will stack up with Marvel’s Inhumanity event, given that its a worldwide event with worldwide consequences. Definitely something to look forward to.
Sometimes the dialogue can seem a bit off, especially when the exposition gets out of hand as it does in the middle of the issue, and this can even affect the pacing, as it does in the second half with Captain Britain. Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 isn’t as tight an issue as I expected in terms of the writing, but I won’t complain since I’m quite impressed with it otherwise and with the whole unique factor of it.
Rich Elson’s pencils, Antonio Fabela’s colours and VC’s Clayton Cowles’ letters are also all on point here. Each character stands out, even in splash pages featuring innumerable heroes and its easy to pick out all the details in the art again and again. Once again, the uniqueness is big here and while I’m not all that familiar with these characters, its fun to see who’s who, especially when they are referenced later on, whether visually or otherwise. The only drawback to the art is in a single panel early on when Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom meet with Fury. Combined with a slightly confusing dialogue bit, the panel didn’t quite work for me, but otherwise, this was a pretty solid issue.
Overall, I’m quite excited to delve into these characters and I will definitely pick up the other titles to learn more about them and what they are going to be facing.
Much as with DC’s New 52, Marvel’s reboot of its entire line-up (mostly) means that its a great place to get started with their comics. New books. New creative teams. The whole deal. I’ve tried to get a start on some of the titles, primarily X-Men but I’ve only stuck with a very small handful. With news of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie being a part of Marvel’s phase 2 for its cinematic universe, I decided to go ahead and read the current ongoing, written by a long-time Marvel main-stay, Brian Michael Bendis.
Marvel doesn’t exactly any cosmic books ongoing right now. As far as I can tell, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: God of Thunder are the only such, despite the fact that a lot of the Marvel events have an effect on the entire galaxy, especially when they feature villains like Thanos and Ultron and Galactus and who knows who else. My first taste of Guardians of the Galaxy has been excellent, and I look forward to getting down with the second volume.
MN - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1With the exception of Iron Man, all these characters are new to me. But going in, I was already looking forward to reading about Rocket Raccoon, who I find to be a most humorous character. With all the news that’s been coming out of Marvel Studios for the forthcoming film, I’m really excited to see Rocket on the big screen. Although I wonder if it will have Iron Man in it. Probably not. I could do with less Tony Stark in the MCU phase 2, or just Marvel movies in general.
So, to the story here. The graphic novel collects the first three issues of Bendis’ ongoing run, a prequel #0.1 issue that tells Peter Quill aka Star-Lord’s origin, a digital-first comic that is another prequel, but is not an origin story, merely tells how Peter Quill brings in Drax the Destroyer to his team for their new adventures. And these new adventures relate to a massive shift in the galactic status quo, which made for a really interesting premise. Peter’s alien father, the Lord of the Spartax System, has called together a council of the biggest galactic empires and together, they’ve all just instituted a new law: that the Earth, troublesome Earth with all of its out-of-control superheroes, is off-limits to everyone. Naturally, this just paints a big target on Earth for anyone interested, and the warlike Badoon are the first ones to the party.
This was a fairly good story. It has characters that I really enjoyed, but it didn’t give me much of a reason to connect with them really. Not like how Jason Aaron did in Thanos Rising and in Thor: The God of Thunder. Being the primary Galactic Guardian, Peter Quill gets in a lot of scenes, particularly since the apparent major antagonist here is his father J’son. All the hints we get of the histories of the other Galactic Guardians, especially Gamora, were nice touches however. Gamora more so since she is apparently Thanos’ daughter. Now that’s a story I’d really like to read more of, especially in light of Jason’s Thanos Rising mini-series which has a big subplot regarding Thanos’ children....more
And finally we come to one of my biggest graphic novel disappointments of recent times. This one gives me proof that Matt Fraction is just not my kind of writer, that the way he writes is just not for me, plain and simple. The book has an interesting enough story, but is let down by the writing, the pacing, and the random confluence of events, not to mention that throughout the book, Loki just comes across as nothing more than an idiot. And that is a characterisation that I am just not comfortable with, on any level.
The biggest problem with the book is that it lacks any sense of direction. Events just happen, and the heroes manage to resolve everything by the end to everyone’s benefit. The inclusion of Galactus and Silver Surfer felt really heavy-handed to me, and it was something that I never quite came to terms with. There are too many moments of “who has the biggest sword”, euphemistically speaking, and Thor is portrayed as someone who lacks a fair bit of common sense. He is warlike in the worst way possible, and lets his ego get the better of him again and again.
Volstagg’s scenes, where he goes to the nearest Human town, seemingly on a mission of war against the town citizens because they dared insult him, were even more pointless. They provided some decent humour, and broke up the monotony of Thor’s stupid moments and boring dialogue, but things never got beyond that.
Even where Thor himself is concerned, there was next to no development of the character. Matt Fraction had a really good opportunity here to tell a really fantastic tale, and it seems that he just wasted all of that potential. His characters are all bland and uninteresting, with very little to differentiate them from each other in terms of their attitudes. If there is one word that applies here, that word is “silly”. That’s all that this graphic novel is, really.
The art, for the most part, was great. The only niggle I had was how Thor was drawn. It was as if his face is all flattened and beaten in with thunderous punches. One of the weirdest incarnations of the character that I’ve seen to date. Some great mix of colour palettes everywhere, whatever is needed to deliver on the inherent promise of the script really.
But ultimately, this book is most definitely a huge let down.
This is part of the TFF comics roundup, dated November 1st.
Contrary to what I alluded to in the last comics roundup( http://thefoundingfields.com/2012/10/... ), Bendis’ second run on Ultimate Spider-Man is not my first taste of Spider-Man comics, rather it is his limited 5-issue series Spider-Men which brings together the “regular” Peter Parker and Mike Morales, who is the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, following the death of that world’s Peter Parker. Released earlier this year, the series deals with the Spider-Man of Earth-616 (from what I’m led to believe) following the villain Mysterio through a portal that the latter has created and emerging out into the world of the Ultimate comics, where he gets shock after shock that only an alternate reality can deliver on. Stefan from the Civilian Reader blog put this series on my radar so props to him for pointing me in the right direction.
Right off, I have to say that this is a pretty brilliant concept that works out just as brilliantly. Spidey’s attitude, as I remember from various animated shows, shines all bright and proper through the script, which when combined with Mike’s more subdued and reverent personality delivers a great contrast. As with his Ultimate Spider-Man comics, Bendis proves here why he is so good. After all, you don’t get to stick to the Spider-Man titles, in all their various forms, for going on well over a decade without being damn good at the job, yeah? The script for the series has everything you could want: wisecracks, Mysterio getting utterly flabbergasted (which I just love for some reason), the meeting of the two Spideys, great action sequences, Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury, a Robert Downey Jr. type Tony Stark, some great moments of Peter and Mike doing things together, the emotional moments between Peter-616 and the Ultimate universe versions of Aunt May, Mary-Jane, and Gwen Stacy. The latter of those scenes, when Peter first meets Aunt May and Gwen, is perhaps the most heart-breaking scene I’ve read in a comic to date, other than the scene from one of the G.I.Joe comics post Marvel’s 155-issue run in which one of my favourite Joes died (hint: green outfit, black cap, tough macho attitude, married). Bendis’ script and Sara Pichelli’s art is just way too memorable for that end scene-sequence of #3.
Which brings me to Sara’s art. She is one of the very few women artists in comics that I know of, the others being my favourite Amanda Conner, who is currently working on Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, and Becky Cloonan, who did Scott Snyder’s Batman #12 and is working on his Swamp Thing title as well I believe. If I had to compare Sara, I’d say that she is very much like Amanda in her style, although she manages to be quite different all the same since her style contrasts the bright and cheerful panels such as the scene above with the dark and gritty panels such as the ones where Peter and Mike fight off Mysterio and his phantasm constructs.
If there is any downside to the series, its that the final issue doesn’t quite deliver on the same level of script-awesomeness as the first 4. It was too downbeat and straightforward for me and the end left me very unsatisfied. The series was only 5 issues long and I think that’s the problem with it. If Bendis could have had two more issues to develop the story further and really get into Peter-616 dealing with all the strange stuff in the Ultimate universe, that would have been for the better. The Ultimates (Tony more like) realising what Mysterio is up to and their attack on his secret base is just too abrupt and things are resolved way too quickly for my tastes.
But the strength of the series is definitely in its script, from an overall perspective, because seeing the character interactions most of all was a real pleasure. And Sara Pichelli’s art is just great. I look forward to reading more from these two!
The X-men are one of the most iconic of Marvel’s various IPs and as such they’ve received a lot of attention over the years, whether it is in the formThe X-men are one of the most iconic of Marvel’s various IPs and as such they’ve received a lot of attention over the years, whether it is in the form of various animated TV shows, or video games, or live-action movies, or even novels. Cyclops, Wolverine, The Beast, Professor X, Magneto and others are an instantly recognisable brand even if you are only minimally into comics.
Before picking up Victor Gischler’s new 2010 run on the superhero team (volume 3), my only previous run-in with them was the old Fox cartoon show back in the day, the rebooted X-Men Evolution which starred the X-Men as teenagers and the four movies of course. I’d never read a single X-men comic as I just never got into them. Mostly because I grew up more interested in DC superheroes than Marvel ones. So it was rather fun to pick up the new series a few days and begin reading through the issues. In retrospect, I should probably have picked up a more “traditional” series but having read through the first 10 issues by Gischler, I think this is still a good starting point.
Curse of the Mutants is a 6-issue story arc and sets the X-men, under Cyclops’ leadership, up against a united Vampire nation led by Xarus, Count Dracula’s son. The series begins on an explosive note, literally, as a Vampire suicide bomber blows himself up in the middle of San Francisco, releasing a specially-engineered virus that turns people into mindless babblers who want to be fed upon. Caught in the explosion is a former X-men member, Jubilee, who has lost her powers and later appears to have been the target all along, in a conspiracy by Xarus to turn all of the X-men into vampires and strengthen both species in the process.
I really liked this story arc. Gischler has written a great script that is really intriguing, thoughtful, and plays upon the nature of several of the X-men themselves, and their relationships with each other. These are definitely not the X-men of movies or the cartoon shows. The most prominent change being that the entire team has relocated to an island facility off the coast of San Francisco, with Cyclops as its leader rather than Professor X, and Wolverine as the heavy muscle enforcer of the team, even more so than usual. The team itself is much tougher as a whole than I remember from my previous experiences with them, with Cyclops being that much more confident and decisive. All good stuff so far.
As a 6-issue arc, Curse of the Mutants works really well. Gischler eases the reader into the new setting and then takes them for a rip-roaring ride as the X-men and an unexpected ally hunt down Vampires through the streets and clubs of San Francisco. The first issue starts off well, with a little bit of foreshadowing that something big is about to happen, and ends with a tragedy that sets the X-men reeling. Then issue two kicks off in high gear as Blade, yes Blade, arrives to lend the superheroes a hand and carries out his own purge alongside Wolverine. From thereon, the action is non-stop, all the way to the end of issue six. Tons of fight scenes, tons of “slower” moments where Gischler builds up his characters and makes us believe in them, whether it is the X-men or Xarus and his vampires. Or even the Count of Night himself.
You can find the full review over at Bookworm Blues (this was a guest review by me):