Sunday, December 14, 2008

The X-Axis - 14 December 2008

Lots of stuff out this week. I've already written about Phonogram below, and come back over the next couple of days for Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #2 (and yes, there are other things to say than "How much?") and IDW's Time Management for Anarchists #1 (which... will take longer than a capsule would allow). As you'll see below, there's other stuff I could have covered, but hey, there's only so many hours in the day.

Civil War: House of M #4 - This, in case you've forgotten, is the flashback miniseries explaining how Magneto ended up ruling the world in the House of M miniseries several years ago. There's no connection with Civil War and, frankly, no apparent justification for that part of the title at all. Oh well - if you're enough of a completist to buy the thing just because it had Civil War on the cover, well, you've got a comic with Civil War on the cover, so that's what you wanted, isn't it? As for the actual story, it's competent but instantly forgettable, and I have no idea why this book exists.

Punisher: War Zone #1 - To tie in with the latest Punisher movie, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon are reunited for a six-issue weekly mini. It's a return to the black comedy tone of their previous work on the character, rather than the nihilism of Ennis' later work. Okay, it's a bit adolescent on occasion, but Ennis is one of the best storytellers in the business, and his instincts are on form here. Dillon is perfectly cast on this sort of material, bringing Ennis' sorrowful losers to life in a way few artists could manage. It's the same stuff they were doing before, sure, but that was good stuff, and one more arc by them is good news as far as I'm concerned.

Wolverine: Flies to a Spider - Yet another unnecessary Wolverine one-shot. Wolverine shows up at a biker bar, and kills everyone, and then says they killed a little girl so they deserved it. And that's pretty much it. The art's not bad, and it's quite well paced, but there's really nothing to it. This is written by Gregg Hurwitz, who did a decent Wolverine annual a year or so back, but is also responsible for the generally unpleasant Foolkiller revival. This is little more than an empty revenge fantasy, with no apparent understanding of the lead character: Wolverine is not the Punisher, for heaven's sake. Weak.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 - Unusually for one of Marvel's all-ages books, this adaptation has been pushed heavily in house ads. But then, this is by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, whose art is eminently suitable for weird fantasy worlds, and who may well help to bring in a broader audience. Personally, I've never much cared for this story, and with its intentionally stilted dialogue and episodic plot, this doesn't do much to change my mind. Then again, for the most part, the stuff I didn't like about this is the same stuff I didn't like about any other version of the Wizard of Oz either, so I can't hold that against the creators. The pace feels a touch rushed, but it does look wonderful.

X-Men/Spider-Man #2 - Jumping forward to the late eighties, and the immediate aftermath of the Morlock Massacre. Handily for team-up purposes, there weren't many X-Men around at that point - although they seem to be fudging it slightly: if Dazzler is around, shouldn't Psylocke be there too? Christos Gage has found a neat solution to the usual problem of making a story seem important when it's set in the past: use it to lay the groundwork for something in the present. (And we'll be reaching the present in the final issue.) But the star of this series is artist Mario Alberti, who's doing absolutely beautiful work and should surely be a top name artist in a very short period.

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