Monday, March 09, 2009

The X-Axis - 8 March 2009

Two stories wrapped up this week - a two-parter in Cable #12, and the X-Men/Spider-Man miniseries - and I'll get to them properly in due course. But for now, here's a bunch of other stuff that shipped last week, some of which we'll probably talk about in more detail on the next podcast.

Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1 - Yes, it's one of a thousand Dark Reign tie-in miniseries. But this one is also interesting because it's written by Jonathan Hickman, who's going to take over the regular title after Millar and Hitch finish up. And refreshingly, there's not all that much Dark Reign going on here. The bozos from the government are hanging around on the outside, but mainly, it's a good old-fashioned FF story in which Reed comes up with another Brilliant Idea for how he's going to set everything right, in Jack-Kirby-meets-Heath-Robinson fashion. Leave the tie-in aside, and it's an assured take on the team which bodes well for Hickman's upcoming run. (Oh, and Sean Chen's art is pretty good as well - but he won't be working on the regular title.)

New Avengers: The Reunion #1 - It's probably just the fact that I used to read West Coast Avengers when I first got into American comics, but I'm rather happy to see Mockingbird back in circulation. She and Clint were a fun couple. In the meantime, of course, writer Jim McCann is saddled with the task of persuading us that Mockingbird's time as a captive of little green men from outer space is a terribly moving and traumatic tale, and, er, no. Fortunately, it looks like the series is trying to get that out of the way and get back to the couple's dynamic. Lovely art, too, from David and Alvaro Lopez - though I wish they'd stuck with the original Mockingbird costume, since that ridiculous facemask was a gift to artists.

Solomon Grundy #1 - A seven-issue mini by Scott Kolins, in which the titular monster is sent off on a rather arbitrary mission to find out who killed him, and forgive them. Looks good, but it's a bit of a mess. DC characters show up out of the blue with no explanation whatsoever - yes, I know who Alan Scott is, but I have no clue what he's doing here. As for the lead character, he babbles a lot, and generally falls short of having a personality. Bit disappointing.

Strange Adventures #1 - Jim Starlin does cosmic stories, in the vein of thirty years ago. This is evidently something to do with the aftermath of the Rann-Thanagar War, and to its credit, unlike most of its DC stablemates, it actually bothers to explain the plot to new readers. See, it's not so hard, is it? Manuel Garcia's art is likeable enough, although it suffers from colouring that seems determined to throw every available shade at the page in an atmosphere-sapping rainbow cornucopia. Fine if you like that sort of thing, although it does mean you're expected to take seriously characters called "Prince Gavyn" and so forth.

Superman: World of New Krypton #1 - The book where Superman is going to appear over the next year, as he rejoins the people of Krypton on their new planet. This is quite a good idea for a short-term story, inverting Superman's role as an alien on Earth and making him an alien on his own planet. It gives the character a chance to be something other than an object of universal awe, too - although he remains special even on Krypton, on the grounds that he's used to his powers, and the rest of them aren't. So far, so good - my reservation here is that Krypton itself feels like a load of familiar dystopian ideas stapled to a dated Silver Age aesthetic, and I just don't believe in the place. Still, the idea's got something.

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3 - Hell freezes over. Personally, I'd have included an apology for shipping the book three years late, but evidently nobody could be bothered. Says it all, really. As for the book, it's better than you're probably imagining - it's endearingly over the top, if nothing else - but it's not as though anyone's been on the edge of their seat waiting for this. Time has moved on, nobody cares.

War of Kings #1 - The first part of this year's cosmic crossover, and you'll never guess, but part one involves a sudden and unexpected invasion. Um, is there no other way of starting these stories? Oh, and it picks up in the aftermath of X-Men: Kingbreaker #4, which doesn't come out till next Wednesday. And no, it's not running late - Marvel intentionally scheduled this issue to ship two weeks before the lead-in. The mind boggles. Anyway, as you can tell, all this does wonders for my sense of goodwill. But it's actually better than average, and gets some good mileage out of Vulcan's Caligula persona (dumping the big talk and playing up the fact that Vulcan is just plain nuts). And it's got great art from Paul Pelletier. Fans of Marvel's outer-space books should like this one.

X-Men: First Class - Finals #2 - Hmm, this is a bit choppy. Random fight with character from an earlier issue of First Class, conversation, seemingly random sequence based on another earlier issue of First Class. I suppose Jeff Parker must be trying to tie things together here, but it seems a little forced to me - it's not as though the regular title had any particular thread running through it. I do like the scenes with the team talking about their plans for the future, though, as everyone plans to go and live in the real world except for Scott, who can't quite get his head around the idea. Nice touch.

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