Month: December 2006

New Comic Day: 12-28-06

It’s been a few weeks since my last New Comic Day review. I blame it on graduating college, moving towns, and dealing with a computer crash. But enough excuses – onto the reviews!

Justice League of America #5
by Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes
The team finally comes together (except Vixen, who’s off doing her own thing) to confront Solomon Grundy, then the rebuilt Amazo. What makes this issue particularly noteworthy (besides Red Tornado spending most of it on the ground dealing with the punch he took last issue) is Meltzer’s explanation of Grundy’s different personality traits over the years. Rather than ignoring the shift in characterization between appearances, Meltzer offers a solid explanation that works better than other attempts to do the same (Magneto, anyone?). The book has its cute moments, but builds quite a bit of drama up for next issue’s fight against Amazo. The solid art of Ed Benes does not hurt the cause, either. Definitely good stuff.
Jacob’s Grade: A

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #25
by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson
As the Wanderers set up forcefields to capture the Legion and kidnap Light Lass, Karate Kid, Ultra Boy and Star Boy, Braniac 5 releases Mon-El from the Phantom Zone and suggests he attack Supergirl, who apparently imprisoned him there to begin with. Their fight shatters the forcefields, before Braniac ends the fight and cures Mon-El of his lead poisoning. As the team rallies, Mon-El too is kidnapped. Another quality issue from Waid and Kitson.
Jacob’s Grade: B+

Astonishing X-Men #19
by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
The X-Men and Hisako (an Institute student who may be carrying some excess mental baggage) are pulled onto a SWORD ship heading for Breakworld. Ord and Danger are immediately taken out of the picture as the X-Men and SWORD try to figure out what they’re going to do about the apparent prophecy involving Colossus. Whedon’s storytelling remains top-notch, but the continuation of Cyclops’ depowering and the separation of Kitty and Colossus have me scratching my head. It’s a setup issue, and as the action picks up on the last pages, it looks like this one’s going to be a good one…if it can come out on time.
Jacob’s Grade: B+

X-Men #184
by Mike Carey and Humberto Ramos
As Rogue’s team prepares to leave the mansion on their own new transport, half of the squad goes looking for clues about the hospital where two of them had been held while the others investigate the man who dropped dead outside of the mansion’s walls. This issue is showing that writer Mike Carey has a big picture planned for this squad, and the moving away from the mansion is a good touch for a group mainly made up of misfits and outlaws. I’m not a big fan of Karima’s code-name (Omega Sentinel), but that’s nitpicking. Humberto Ramos’ rather cartoony style is quite a change of pace from regular artist Chris Bachalo, and if the two are indeed going to be trading storylines, it’s going to be a strange change for this book. I never thought I’d say this…but I prefer Bachalo.
Jacob’s Grade: B

Final Thoughts
If only I could have books this good every week. JLA remains in top form and I’m even warming to some of the weaker names on the roster (Hawkgirl, Black Lightning). Legion puts a new spin on the story of Valor without making him the false deity that his legend had made him in the last run of Legion. Astonishing is just starting its final story, so not a lot to report, but it looks to be good, again, if they can keep it on schedule. X-Men is the underdog of the X-Men titles, but it’s still holding strong in what it’s trying to be. I have my own wish list of things I’d like to see happen in X-Men, but that’s a story for another day.

Well, that was fun. Next week we’ll be seeing Civil War #6 continue Marvel’s horribly paced, but undeniably exciting blockbuster, Civil War: Front Line #10 deal with the fallout of the war throughout the Marvel U, and Uncanny X-Men #482 continue Ed Brubaker’s Shi’ar epic.

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From the Box – Uncanny X-Men Annual #10

From the Box – a look at issues that have been sitting in the comic boxes unattended for quite some time. Today’s edition:

UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #10
by Chris Claremont and Art Adams

Much like today’s annuals, those of the 80s were giant sized issues that had little effect on the overall run of the title. Occasionally you’d get one major change out of the book, but other than that, the story would be largely forgettable. This issue’s main point is bringing in Longshot, fresh from his introductory mini-series. It also establishes Mojo as an X-Men villain, fresh off his appearance in the same year’s New Mutants annual.

As with most Mojo stories, it gives the writer (in this case, Chris Claremont) the opportunity to do pretty much whatever he can imagine to the characters. In this case, Mojo steadily regresses the X-Men (along with Magneto, Psylocke and Longshot) to infancy, then regrows them to adulthood, but in his image. The New Mutants, now decked out in strangely designed costumes (with Cypher wearing a Cyclops mask and Cannonball wearing pretty much what would become his original X-Force uniform) go after them and end up saving the day. It’s once again pounded into our skulls that Psylocke has bionic eyes granted by Mojo, but this is a storyline that ends up going absolutely nowhere.

The biggest problem here is establishing where in continuity this issue fits. The X-Men have a straight shot of issues leading into the Mutant Massacre, which heavily shifts the roster of the team. Psylocke does not appear in the regular issues of Uncanny X-Men until after Nightcrawler, Colossus and Shadowcat (all appearing in this book) have been taken out, and Longshot stays missing until afterwards. I guess that would place this in the downtime right before the attack on the Morlocks begins, especially since Colossus is wearing his original costume, rather than his sleeveless red one. It’s a mystery then, after having proven himself in battle here, that Longshot is not used in the fight against the Marauders. Or not even mentioned for that matter.

For the second year straight, art is provided by the amazing talents of Art Adams. I had a poster on my wall of his work for years and have a shirt featuring his amazing team shot featured in Classic X-Men #1, but his proportions are a little odd this time around. More than once, Cannonball’s legs make up 3/4 of his entire height, which makes him look like his pants are pulled up to his armpits. Costume designs for Wolfsbane and Sunspot are particularly bad, but I think that may well be the point. How did the kids find time to make costumes when they had to save the X-Men anyway?

This is an issue that does not try to take itself seriously with such a ridiculous concept. Claremont repeated the story in 2005, but it didn’t work out nearly as well, as it became a story of morales, rather than simply a fun issue. This one is nothing but ridiculous fun, and even though it’s not a particularly strong story, it’s definitely a fun read.

Jacob’s Retro Grade: B-