Sunday, January 18, 2009

The X-Axis - 18 January 2009

The dead month of January continues, with one of the quietest weeks I can remember. Al and I reviewed some trade paperbacks in this week's House to Astonish - specifically, Agents of Atlas, Rasl and House of Mystery. You can download the show here, or visit the podcast webpage, or subscribe via iTunes.

The final issue of Civil War: House of M is out this week, and you'll find my review below. Quite honestly, nothing else this week particularly catches my imagination, and I still have some movies I'm planning to write about, so we'll just cover everything else in the round-up...

Black Lightning: Year One #1 - From last week, but I was holding it back in case we needed it for the podcast. Obviously, it's the origin story of Black Lightning, and it's one of those "lone hero in corrupt gangland" things. The creative team of Jan van Meter (Hopeless Savages) and Cully Hamner are an interesting choice, and I like the idea of using the title character's wife as the point of view character instead of giving us the usual first person narrative from the hero. Nice art, too, though Hamner seems to have toned down his style a bit since the last time I saw him, and become a little more standard. On the whole it's pretty decent - though I can't help but raise an eyebrow at a story that wants me to believe that Metropolis has districts where the gang violence is so bad as to create a no-go area for Superman.

Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us #1 - I could have sworn I missed the last Blue Monday mini, but apparently the plot hasn't moved on much. It's still teen comedy, and after nine years, Bleu is still hoping to ensnare her beloved teacher Mr Bishop. Which leads the entire cast to spend a day at the zoo. It's that sort of book. Perfectly enjoyable, although as weirdly anachronistic as ever - these characters still have Walkmans, for heaven's sake. Still, I'm starting to get the feeling that it's a series heading nowhere fast, and while that has a certain laid back charm, I can't help wondering if it's ever going to pay off.

X-Infernus #2 - In which Illyana Rasputin gets rid of that "demon" design and goes back to looking the way she did in the 1980s. Why do I suspect that by the time we're finished, an awful lot of things will be back the way they were in the 1980s? Despite that, though, I'm quite enjoying this series. CB Cebulski's story has a bit of zip to it, and Giuseppe Camuncoli's bold artwork gives the book some energy. As a superhero artist, he could be one to watch - he certainly deserves to get some attention on the strength of this series. Shame he isn't doing the covers, which feature some fiddly and overcrowded group shots by David Finch.

X-Men & Spider-Man #3 - This is the second Christos Gage comic of the week (after Civil War: House of M #5), and it's by far the better one. The high concept here is that each issue, Spider-Man and the X-Men team up to fight a bad guy (invariably with Mr Sinister behind it all) at a different point in their careers. This issue brings us to the nineties, and Gage boldly embraces the story that defines nineties Spider-Man like no other. Yes, that's right, it's Ben Reilly, the spider-clone! And his beleaguered fans will want this issue, since it actually treats the much-maligned character with some affection. But the real selling point, as usual, is Mario Alberti's stunning artwork, which must surely mark him out for big things in 2009.

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