Sunday, April 19, 2009

The X-Axis - 19 April 2009

See below for Rampaging Wolverine #1, and I'll come back to Wolverine: Noir #1 later. But also this week...

Fables #83 - Part one of "The Great Fables Crossover", running between Fables, its spin-off Jack of Fables, and a miniseries, Literals, created solely for the purpose of this crossover. The Literals, who seem to be the personification of storytelling devices, strike me as the most interesting idea in this storyline. But they're not in this first chapter much, presumably because they're characters from Jack of Fables. Instead, most of this issue is devoted to pushing forward the Mr Dark storyline, about the Sandman-esque villain who blew up Fabletown a couple of issues ago, and presumably serves as the threat for everyone to unite against in chapter eight. I'm a little concerned about that, because so far he still seems a bit too generic for the major role he's getting. But that seems too obvious a trap for Bill Willingham to fall into, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. The issue also has a preview of Mike Carey and Peter Gross's upcoming series The Unwritten, which looks very promising.

Secret Invasion Aftermath: Beta Ray Bill - The Green of Eden - Yes, that's the full title. And yes, this is a belated Secret Invasion tie-in. The connection to the story is fairly remote, but writer Kieron Gillen picks up on one of the more interesting themes from Secret Invasion that went relatively unexplored. The Skrulls from that series were religious zealots, after all. And Beta Ray Bill is not just a Thor character, but an outright ersatz pseudo-Thor, an alien horse dressed as somebody else's idea of god. It's a neat angle, cleverly using Secret Invasion as a springboard for a story that's really about the character himself. Worth a look if you have any interest in Bill (and he does have his fans).

Uncanny X-Men #508 - Oh dear, Greg Land's back - although it must be somebody's idea of a rib to take Marvel's most enthusiastic light-boxer and force him to draw Spiral, a character with six arms. The big problem with Land, though, is that he can't act - there's no subtlety whatsoever in his expression or body language. He can pull off an expression that the script clearly asked for in terms, but left to his own devices it's crazy poses and manic grins all the way. I tell you, I can summon up some goodwill for Matt Fraction writing this book, but not when I have to read it through the prism of Greg Land. His scripts are always a bit self-aware and intellectually tongue-in-cheek; he needs an artist who humanises them, not one who laminates them.

X-Factor #42 - In which Madrox finds new reason to live by visiting a dystopian future, while Longshot makes friends with one of the firm's customers. Very much the middle chapter of a storyline, and you could criticise it for spelling out the character points a little more blatantly than was really required - but they're interesting character points nonetheless, and the book also pulls off a pretty good fight scene with the Sentinels, who usually suffer from overfamiliarity. Decent issue.

X-Men: Legacy #223 - When Joss Whedon introduced Danger as a character, the idea was that Professor X knew it was sentient, but kept it chained up in the basement anyway because it was useful that way. Mike Carey apparently has some trouble squaring that with his interpretation of Xavier's character (as do I), as a fair chunk of this story seems to be quietly retconning all that way. It was a total fluke that Danger became sentient; Xavier was trying ever so hard to find a way of letting it express itself, but wasn't quite sure how it all worked... you know the score. Blatant retconning, but I have no problem with it. The other half of this storyline, with Rogue confronting her past, doesn't feel like it's heading anywhere in particular, and seems a bit half-formed right now.

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