Sunday, March 01, 2009

The X-Axis - 1 March 2009

Well, it took me forever to get around to reviewing the concluding issue of NYX: No Way Home (which came out last week), but it's finally up. As for the last issue of New Exiles (also out last week)... um, in the next couple of days. Hopefully.

Fortunately, it's a singularly uneventful week for new releases. Check the podcast to hear Al and me discussing Duncan Rouleau's The Great Unknown, the final issue of Blue Beetle, and the Obama issue of Youngblood (everything you feared and less). Download it here, or visit the podcast web page, or subscribe via iTunes.

And that just leaves three X-books that came out this week...

Wolverine: First Class #12 - This has always been more of a Kitty Pryde book than a Wolverine comic, but never more obviously than here. The story is set in the aftermath of Uncanny X-Men #150, and I can hear the collective mumbling of "So what?" already. Ah, but you'd be mistaken. Because this is a terribly useful point in continuity. It's the first time Kitty meets Cyclops after joining the X-Men, and so the first time she's exposed to his awkward relationship with Wolverine. And that's the story: the other alpha male in the team is back, and Kitty gets to spend an issue in his company and see how he compare. (Wolverine? He's barely in it.) Where Cyclops is concerned, writer Fred Van Lente evidently subscribes to the "uptight emotional cripple" school of thought, but he does a nice job of contrasting the two without actually undermining Cyclops' credibility; more than anything, we're invited to feel sorry for the guy and to dismiss him as far too screwed up to be anyone's mentor, and that's certainly a valid take on the character. It's also nice to see the series move away from the random guest stars, and back to focussing on the cast themselves.

Wolverine: Origins #33 - Do you like exposition? Then you'll love this book, which features fifteen gripping pages of Nick Fury explaining the plot. To be fair, at least it's a new explanation, with plenty of new information to back it up... but still, it's fifteen pages of a guy explaining the plot. Considering the languid pace that this book has taken in the past, you almost wonder whether Way has been politely encouraged to get a move on. As for the content of the explanation... well, this convoluted conspiracy theory has been nothing but a lead weight for Wolverine, so officially dragging James Hudson from Alpha Flight into the mess is a bit like the slow spread of gangrene as far as I'm concerned. It's also a "Dark Reign" tie-in issue, and with some justification, since supporting character Daken has been hauled off to appear in Dark Avengers - leading Cyclops to decide that the fake Wolverine in the Avengers needs to be taken care of. Now this bit, I'm in favour of. "What do the X-Men think about this fake Wolverine?" is not a story that Dark Avengers wants to tell, but it's also territory that really ought to be covered - so if Daniel Way thinks he can get a story out of it, everybody wins. That part of the issue is quite good; but god save us from more of this conspiracy gibberish.

X-Force #12 - This is the first part of "Suicide Leper", an arc based on the Leper Queen character from Peter Milligan's brief run on X-Men. She's not an immediately obvious character to revive, but hey, I suppose they're starting small and working up. It's also a lead-in for the "Messiah War" crossover with Cable, though on the face of it that just means there's a few pages of subplot about time machines. It's... okay, but too violent for its own good (which is to say, it's done so casually so that it doesn't mean anything). Clayton Crain's artwork is patchy. He seems to be lightening up the colours, and there are some nice dramatic explosions. But there's something lacking in his characters, who don't have the expressiveness to bring them to life.

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