Month: July 2013

Catching up: Cable and X-Force

There are two general types of X-Force – the mercenary type led by Cable, or the murder type generally led by Wolverine.  The former has long been defunct since the closing days of the original pre-X-Statix run ended over a decade ago, and really by that point it had become more of a grown-up New Mutants title, having long since moved on from Cable.  If I’m not mistaken, his last appearance in the title was issue #100, and even that was well after the team booted him.  Since then, a Cable-led X-Force has been limited to the brief nostalgia mini or tie-in.

Cable himself was killed off during the Second Coming X-over, one of the several deaths and maimings featured throughout.  But in true X-fashion, he “got better”, returning for a not-very good mini series before hanging in the shadows during AvX.  But back he came to create a new squad, featuring Forge, Domino, Colossus, Dr. Nemesis, and Boom Boom.

How’s that for a motley crew?

Domino and Boom Boom are longtime Cable allies, while Forge was seemingly killed off during Warren Ellis’s run on Astonishing X-Men, only to be revealed to have survived the experience and have his crazy-ass brain healed with some guidance from Cable.  And I’m all for that – Forge is one of my longtime favorites and he hasn’t gotten any kind of decent story since his time in X-Factor.  Dr. Nemesis was one of the trio of X-Club scientists, and the only one to make it out of AvX with any kind of storyline prominence.  And he deserves it – he’s an awesome character.

Colossus’s presence is a big deal, as he was one of the Phoenix Five, though he was also the one least guilty of any real horror during the event, as he mainly just wandered along next to his sister as she did her demon stuff.  If you weren’t watching, he also was cured of his Juggernaut possession in the epilogue mini-series that followed up AvX, which some felt cheated by but I didn’t think there was much left to do with the whole thing.

But that’s the characters – what about the premise?

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Catching up: Avengers Arena

The only specifically non-X-Men title I’m currently reading, I picked up Casey’s first few issues of the title and was drawn in enough to keep reading.  The premise is simple – Arcade nabs a bunch of teenage heroes and drops them into Murderworld and tells them to kill each other until only one remains.  Does that premise sound familiar?  Perhaps the montage images used for the cover, like Battle Royale for the first issue seen above, will jog your memory.

The kids grabbed were Avengers Academy‘s Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil, Juston and X-23; Runaway‘s Nico and Chase; various Marvel teenage characters Darkhawk, Cammi, and Red Raven; and new characters Anachronism, Apex, Cullen Bloodstone, Death Locket, Kid Briton, and Nara that to my knowledge were created for this title.  True to the book’s premise, four of the characters have been killed thus far, a fifth has died and come back, and one is currently MIA.

This is usually the kind of title that really disgusts me, killing off characters that aren’t being used elsewhere, but I’ve really been enjoying this title.  One of the reasons is that it’s been doing a hell of a good job making the kids likable characters, so when one finds themselves in danger of being killed, it really tugs at the reader.  Two of the deaths in particular had me yelling at a comic, which is something that I simply don’t do these days.

The other aspect is that since the very beginning of the title, it has seemed like there’s far more going on than simply a death-fest to alleviate Arcade’s boredom.  I keep looking for any kind of little hint of what’s going on, and issue 12 left us with a cliffhanger as to what that might be.

Surprisingly enough to me, this has been a fun read and one of my recommendations to anyone looking for a new book to pick up.

Next up: Cable and X-Force

Catching up: Astonishing X-Men

Once upon a time, Astonishing X-Men was launched to be the new flagship title of the X-Men line, but numerous delays from its high-profile creators eventually led the rest of the line to move on without it.  By the end of both Joss Whedon, then Warren Ellis’s runs, the book seemed to be doomed to a status of X-Men Unlimited, hoping to sell on is past history of excellence.  I used to complain all the time about it.

That changed when Marjorie Liu took over the title and gave it something of a reason for existing, using a stable cast of X-Men characters that no one else was messing with including Northstar, Cecelia Reyes, Karma, and shockingly enough Gambit.  What does it say about the X-Men line when no one’s using Gambit?  Anyway, Liu gave a voice to the book and gave the book more of a family feel that the line has seemingly lacked while bouncing from major event to major event.  Instead of focusing on relationships that have built upon for decades (Wolverine/Cyclops, Kitty Pryde/Colossus), Liu’s title focused more on the bond between her cast which hadn’t been seen before.

Of course, she had me at Cecelia Reyes.  I love that short-lived era of the X-Men.

The major selling point of Liu’s Astonishing was the wedding of Northstar to his boyfriend, Kyle, but the book kept running past that and has since used Kyle as a supporting member of the cast – another thing that the X-Men books haven’t seen much of.

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Meeting a Legend

It’s just about time for one of my semi-annual posts here on Comicdom Wrecks!, but even if it weren’t, I’ve got something pretty awesome to report.

I got to meet Stan Lee.

The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the Avengers. It almost seems ridiculous to think that all of those ideas could come out of one man’s head, but Stan Lee created all those characters and many more. And he didn’t just come up with a name & a gimmick for them either. Lee’s creations were fully realized characters who had to deal with real life problems & personalities at a time when most other comic book characters were paragons of virtue, existing in a world where the good guys always won and everything was swell.

It’s a fact that the comic book industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Stan “The Man” Lee. It’s debatable whether or not there would even be a comic books as we know them without his contributions. My visit with him was very brief,  but I did get a change to thank him for the countless hours he’s provided me and the rest of the world. He thanked me for that and said he liked my shirt. Well worth the $65 and four hours standing in line.

Picture after the jump.

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That time The Demon kissed Batman

I was flipping through a comic I had bought at Derby City Comic-Con, and came across this wonderful panel.

The demon kisses batman

from Detective Comics #603, written by Alan Grant, and drawn by Norm Breyfogle

 

I haven’t fully read the issue, so I’m not entirely sure what The Demon was doing there, but I do know that he decided to not harm Batman because he saw some of himself in him.  My only question is which reboot wiped this event out of continuity.  Was it Zero Hour?  Infinite Crisis?  New 52?  Or, God willing, might this event still be canon.  Maybe The Demon has developed a since of humor in the thousand years between Demon Knights, and when this kiss would have happened.  Someone should reference this right now, to cement that it happened.  Pretty please.

Catching up: All New X-Men

As I catch up to the current issues of the various X-books that I haven’t been doing my eXaminations on, I decided I’d do a post about my thoughts on how each book is going in the whole Marvel NOW! hooplah.

First up is All-New X-Men, since it’s all new and all.

Brian Michael Bendis has had his fill of Avengers and moved his seat over to the X-table, now writing both of what one might consider the “flagship” books (though to be fair, there are two other books that are just X-Men team books as well and one about the school itself).  The first one out of the gate to wave the NOW! flag was All-New, and if you can’t tell from the image above, the whole premise is getting back to the X-Men roots through wacky time travel antics.

But that’s putting it mildly.  The reality of the book’s premise is a bit more convoluted in that Beast, believing himself to be dying from his latest round of genetic mutation (farewell, cat Beast), decides to nab the original five X-Men from the past and bring them to the present to make Cyclops realize how just awful he’s been of late.

Does that seem dumb to you?  That seems kind of dumb to me.

Anyway, the kids do the confrontation, predictably it doesn’t do anything of consequence and then the kids decide that since their Professor X is going to wipe the memories from their heads upon their return home anyway, they might as well stay in the present and fix things so they can go with the knowledge that they’ll eventually have a world worth living in, which admittedly the Marvel U has never been for mutants.

Now that’s an okay setup on a basic level, I guess, but it really doesn’t seem to be working in execution.  For one, the pickup point for the kids happens in the middle of the original X-Men #8 in which Beast and Iceman return home up in arms about being mobbed simply for being mutants.  That’s all well and good in the sense that it gives the X-Men a place where Xavier won’t notice them gone (of course, being that it’s time travel that is a moot point), but it puts the kids way to early in the heroing career to be in the all-in idealists for Xavier’s dream that the story seems to be requiring.

You might think it’s perfectly acceptable for the kids to want to make a difference here being that they are already teenage super-heroes and thus not much for exactly grand self-preserving life choices, but the underlying problem is what happens if something happens to the kids in the present?  If teenage Beast dies in the present, what happens to all the crap Beast’s done in his fifty years of existence?  All of the responsible super-heroes are standing around going “this doesn’t seem like a good idea” and then just shrugging and walking away.  It’s a story where everyone is putting aside any kind of common sense to the matter just because the premise doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

But comics can do that, so what am I complaining about?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the kids don’t seem to really be acting much like their character bases, but that comes as much from the 60’s X-Men having been remarkably dull characters for a lot of their Silver Age antics.  Iceman and Beast handle easily enough – one needs to be goofy and the other needs to be pretentious – but the rebelling teenage Cyclops doesn’t really fly as well with me.  Silver Age Cyclops was much more straight laced then that, especially right at the beginning, where the storyline nabbed the kids from.  Angel doesn’t get any kind of real characterization at all, though he leaps over to Uncanny not long in, so I may be talking to soon.

My main problem with this book is that it just seems to be stalling for time.  We’re 14 issues in and not that much has actually really happened.  The kids are in the present and hanging out with Kitty Pryde, and that’s about it.  It’s like they’re just standing around until something comes around to need them.  And being that something dealing with their time traveling stuff is going to be in the Next Big Event, that may be exactly what this book’s going to do.

Fine if you’re really aching for a Jean Grey in your life, but underwhelming for me.

Next time: Astonishing X-Men

Catching up

AvX did a number on me and my comic reading ways.  From Schism straight into it, and then for me to hate it for the majority of it…it might be easy to see why I burned out hard.  I really hated it, because it kept me from doing what I love to do, which is be sassy in a comic blog.  That’s right – I said sassy.

But the good news is that I’ve finally gotten back into the groove, and even managed to get through AvX (very belated review coming soon) and enter the Marvel NOW world.  I’ve got a ton of X-Men to read through, but I’m giving it my all, and with that I’ll be able to be relevant with the current Marvel scene with my posts.  And then more retro stuff, of course.

But one of the fun things about catching up is that there’s a ton of story to read through and I’ve got the benefit of reading it straight through instead of having to wait month by month – or week by week, since this is Marvel we’re talking about.

But it also lets me post funny things I see without risking dreaded spoilers, since I am months behind everyone else.  Like this, for instance.

icemen

Fun times.