Sunday, January 11, 2009

The X-Axis - 11 January 2009

Not much out this week, is there? You'll find Punisher #1 reviewed below, and I'll have a look at Cable #6-10 on Monday or Tuesday. There's also Black Lightning: Year One #1, but I think I'll save that one for the podcast - next week's schedule is even more devoid of interesting new releases.

I might also post about Official Index to the Marvel Universe in the next few days - it's not the sort of thing you can really review, but there are a few things worth saying about it. (On the whole, I like it.) Oh, and I'll review Slumdog Millionaire too if I get time.

Meanwhile, a quick round-up of the rest of the X-books:

NYX: No Way Home #5 - Wasn't this meant to be the street-level X-book? Marjorie Liu seems to be dragging it in a different direction altogether, as the kids are unwillingly taken under the wing of a mysterious baddie who talks about how valuable surviving mutants are these days. This is taking the series into much more conventional X-territory, and that's not the direction I'd have gone in - surely it erodes the book's distinctiveness? I've said before that this story has smoothed off a lot of the rough edges of the original series, but so far that's largely worked in its favour by giving it some much-needed structure. Here, we seem to be in danger of losing sight of the concept. It's all perfectly readable and polished, but doesn't really grab me.

Wolverine: Switchback - Yet another one-shot from the burgeoning genre of "Wolverine finds a Z-list baddie and kills him." The lead story, by Joseph Clark and Das Pastoras, is actually pretty decent, with beautiful artwork elevating a basically routine story about tourists mysteriously getting themselves killed on a remote mountain bend. It's not desperately original, but it's well executed, and actually worth a look on the strength of Pastoras' contribution. But the back-up strip, by Gregg Hurwitz and Juan Doe, is literally just "Wolverine meets some baddies and kills them." Hurwitz seems to fancy this as a wry comment on Wolverine's implausibly eventful life, but that's not a hugely interesting idea, and most of the page count is devoted to random violence. It's a waste of artist Juan Doe, a consistently inventive artist in need of a writer to match.

X Men Noir #2 - The indicia says there's a hyphen in the title, but the logo and the story say otherwise, so I'm going to go with them. As I said last month, I have issues with this sort of book. It's a noir story where all the characters are loosely based on the X-Men and their villains, and sometimes it's quite clever on that level. Using the Golden Age Angel to provide a "proper" hero as the protagonist is neat; there's a smart twist on Rogue as well. But at the end of the day, what's the point of doing a noir story with the X-Men? I can't think of one, and because of that, I can't help seeing this as just an elaborate gimmick, albeit a fairly entertaining one. I suppose a case can be made that the tropes of noir are so well-established that these days the whole genre has descended into pastiche, if not outright self-parody, so what the hell. Still, I don't really get what they're trying to achieve here.

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