Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quick Comic Book Reviews

Wolverine and the X-Men #14 by Jason Aaron, Jorge Molina, Norman Lee
I love Kitty Pryde and when this book was solicited, Colossus was blacked out leading me to believe it could be the Bobby/Kitty date we've been waiting for. I had to buy the issue.

Kitty is dealing with keeping the school running while most of the teachers are embroiled in the Avengers vs X-Men mess but she's managing to coordinate the teachers and the students. She's clearly in her element. Then the Phoenix-powered Colossus shows up to take her on a date. What do you say to an irrational ex-boyfriend with the power of a god - she agrees.

On their date, Kitty tries to gently reason with him, asking if he and the others are going too far with their power. When Colossus snaps, angry that Kitty seems to care more about the school than him, he threatens to destroy it. But after a short fight, he spots the broken statue of Jean Grey and it snaps him out of it long enough for him to feel shame and he leaves.

It's a pretty good issue with fantastic art and good writing. But I would have liked to see Kitty herself get to Colossus and break through in the way the statue did. Kitty and Colossus have been together for a long time and Kitty's very smart. The issue should have ended with Kitty getting through to him and Colossus giving up his power. She could have said something like, "You're not Colossus. The real Colossus always had the power to destroy the school but never  would. You know why? The real Colossus isn't a selfish little kid who throws a tantrum when he doesn't get his way."

Having big events like that happen in the tie-in books isn't unprecedented. During the Mutant Massacre, Angel's wings were damaged beyond repair by Marauders in a tie-in issue of Thor. I think Kitty could have done what Spidey finally did in AvX #9 but it would have been more moving if Kitty did it.

X-Factor #240-241 by Peter David, Art by Neil Edwards, Craig Yeung, & Rick Ketcham
I keep coming back to this title. I think I've read half the issues that have come out this year and I'm still on the fence even though it continues to fascinate me.

I bought #240 because it's a one issue story. "Run Layla, Run" is a fun story that uses "Run Lola, Run" (a terrific film) as a creative template and doesn't shy away from a Lola cameo to make geeks (aka: me) grin. I don't know much about Layla so this is a better introduction to her than I've read before. Marvel writers enjoy playing with the idea of alternate realities and how one choice can lead to many things and it's used very powerfully here.

I bought #241 because I was on a roll and though - why not? With Havok set to star in Uncanny Avengers in October, his time on X-Factor is coming to an end (despite the fact he JUST joined 10 minutes ago). The baddies that pursued Madrox through all those dimensions ended up on Earth and they don't plan on laying low long. They set up a trap for Madrox but he sees right through it and thanks to the sudden arrival of the rest of the team, all doesn't look lost.

Peter David isn't a lazy writer (he's juggling over 10 main characters) and loves to stick in pop culture references when he can. He's at his best when his characters aren't tied up in all of Marvel's crossover junk. The art is okay as always. It's not fantastic but I can understand what's going on. This is a good start to "Breaking Points" but we'll see what happens down the road.

Avengers vs X-Men #9 by Jason Aaron, Adam Kubert, and John Dell
This Spidey-centric chapter of Avengers vs X-Men is fantastic. The issue opens with Spider-Man encouraging Hope to continue her training, insisting that eventually she would have the chance to contribute to their fight. The Avengers, or what’s left of them, then go to Sibera where Magik has brought a little Limbo to the inside of a mountain where the captive Avengers are being fed on by Hell Worms.

The Avengers battle to free the prisoners while trying to survive their battle with the Phoenix-powered duo of Colossus and Magik and Spider-Man decides to cut the rest of the team off from them, allowing them to escape. Spidey takes a severe beating before cleverly convincing the duo to take themselves out while trying to acquire each other’s Phoenix power.

There’s some nice stuff in there with Storm and the Black Panther too but Spider-Man is the star of this issue and provides a great example for Hope. Unless the sudden appearance of a Phoenix-powered Cyclops signals that she’s about to die…

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 by James Robinson, Philip Tan, Ruy José, and LeBeau Underwood
I’d describe myself as a casual fan of the Masters of the Universe franchise. I loved it as a child of the 80s but I haven’t reconnected with it the same way I’ve started collecting GI Joe figures. Still, the book was done by James Robinson and Philip Tan and I thought that was too much firepower to let go without trying it out. And I’m glad I did.

This is either the origin of how Adam becomes He-Man or how Adam regains his memory of being He-Man. Either way, it starts with Adam, a simple woodman, taking care of his sick father. He recognizes Zoar after she visits him a few times and has dreams of being He-Man. He gets someone to watch his father while he goes out into the world. But soon he is confronted by Beastman and has to survive his attack.

This is a pretty straightforward story but it uses the characters in ways I haven’t seen and makes them more solid and grounded than their cartoon counterparts. There’s nothing super special about this story but it’s the fact that I’m already invested in the characters and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the characters introduced. If they were creating a new character I probably wouldn’t be interested but this reinterpretation of existing characters is fantastic. I hope with this title and Smallville Season 11 that DC will do more licensed properties.

Revival #1 by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton
There wasn't much promotion to this book when I ordered it except that it was ' rural noir' (whatever that means). I only knew it was some kind of suspense book written by the guy who gave us Hack/Slash (or co-gave it to us). It's about a small town, Rothschild, Wisconsin, where the dead come back to life - but not as zombies - as normal people. The town is sealed off by the government and the CDC is testing human and 'reviver' alike for an answer. The government suspects that some of the townspeople are carrying something in them that will let them come back to life. That sounds good on paper but their fear is that people won't die and that will lead to overcrowding and sparse resources.

The story features Officer Cypress who is assigned by her father, the sheriff, to dealing with reviver cases. On her first case, she encounters a reviver exhibiting extreme aggression and enhanced strength. I won't ruin the end for you or tell you more than that but it was an amazing first issue. It does everything a good #1 does - introduce the main character, introduce the conflict, and make me care about it. Tim Seeley and Mike Norton are a great team and I predict 'Walking Dead'-type success for this book. If anything else, the TPB will end up on the shelf next to all my Hack/Slash volumes.

Avenging Spider-Man #9 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson
According to wikipedia this is the first appearance of Robyn Hood (for all you first appearance collectors). The thing I like about Avenging Spider-Man is that it’s the new Marvel Team-Up with one to two issue stories. And no crossing over with Marvel’s 800 other events.

Peter Parker hitches a ride with Carol Danvers to Boston to visit his Aunt May. There’s some nice banter between the two of them before they’re interrupted by a young girl with a jetpack being pursued by people in robot armor. As Spidey tries to keep the girl safe, he and Captain Marvel discovers that it’s the girl who may be the real threat.

The writing is as good here as in DeConnick’s other title, Captain Marvel. With all of the interactions the Spidey and Carol have had, I wish they’d start dating – that would be a very interesting dynamic. Of course the Dodsons are always great at everything they draw so that’s a plus to this book.

Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Dexter Soy
Ms. Marvel wasn’t a great title. I tried it out a few times but I didn’t like it. Although I hate the hair, I do like the revamped costume and I like how Captain America encourages her to take the mantle. The issue opens with the two Caps fighting Absorbing Man. There’s some fun banter when Absorbing Man chides Cap about taking orders from Captain Marvel and he tells him that, technically, she outranks him. There’s also some nice stuff in there with Spider-Man and some great back story put in there as well.

The battle with Absorbing Man is obviously so DeConnick can establish the interpersonal dynamics between Cap and Captain Marvel since they don’t get to banter much with everything going on in the Avengers titles. It also serves to introduce their conversation about the Captain Marvel mantle. Of course if Absorbing Man really wanted to touch a moon rock, he could have bought a ticket to the museum, walked right in, then touched it instead of getting his butt kicked raising hell outside the museum. I’m thinking Absorbing Man never graduated high school.

Danger Girl / GI Joe #1 by Andy Hartnell, John Royle, Phillip Moy
Danger Girl is one of those hit and miss titles for me (mostly miss) but I still love the idea of it so I keep trying it. GI Joe is also hit a miss for me (mostly miss) but I love the characters (and the action figures). I’m a sucker for crossovers though so I had to pick up the first issue and I’m glad I did.

The issue starts with Scarlett and Flint being shot down and Hawk being ordered not to send anyone to find them. Fortunately Cover Girl has the card of one Johnny Barracuda, International Badass. Meanwhile, Scarlett and Flint are captured by Abbey Chase, Agent of Cobra! The writing is fun and John Royle’s art is so close to J. Scott Campbell’s that I had to make sure it wasn’t him doing the art. I can’t wait to get this whole min series in trade paperback.

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