Sunday, April 05, 2009

The X-Axis - 5 April 2009

Didn't get to X-Infernus last week, so I'll cover that in the next couple of days. Probably. I'll hold over Mark Waid and Peter Krause's Irredeemable #1 as well. And we'll talk about Flash: Rebirth on House to Astonish next week. But that still leaves plenty to talk about.

Oh, by the way, I've finally succumbed and started a Twitter account. I doubt it's of much interest to anyone who doesn't actually know me, but if you like reading periodic inanities that aren't long enough - and come to think of it, as a comics reader, you probably do - here's the link.


Astonishing Tales #3 - This is the anthology title that reprints stories from Marvel's digital service, in case you've forgotten. It gets a mention here because it's got two X-stories. The Punisher/Wolverine story is your typical Marvel Comics Presents filler, but the art by Kenneth Rocafort is quite good - if you can look past the stratospherically irritating levels of T&A. There's also a continuing Mojo story by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, which is better than you'd expect. Mojo wasn't really created to be a media parody (that became the focus once Chris Claremont started writing him), and his schtick has become a little stale over the years, but it feels surprisingly fresh here. There's also a Iron Man 2020 story which is merely serviceable, and a throwaway but good-looking Spider-Woman eight-pager. Not a story-lovers' paradise, this issue, but the art's strong enough to make it worth a look.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #24 - My god, the letters page is still running mail about the lesbian scene in issue #12. A year ago! Meanwhile, this is a fill-in issue by Jim Krueger and Cliff Richards, with Giles and Faith visiting a refuge for ex-Slayers in another of those backwater Eastern European villages. Solid and well put together, but not especially inspired, and the art is a little variable, with some panels looking rather more directly photo-referenced than others. Okay, though.

Cable #13 - Oh, was that meant to be Apocalypse's ship at the end of the previous chapter? I completely missed that, due it not looking anything like Apocalypse's ship, and nobody saying "Look, it's Apocalypse's ship." Well, never mind. This is part two of the "Messiah War" crossover with X-Force, and so far it's better than I'd expected. Both titles have a tendency to take themselves far too seriously, so bringing in Deadpool to puncture the pretentiousness is a smart move. And here's something I never thought I'd say: I like the use of Stryfe. He's always been far too muddled to work effectively as an arch-villain. Here, though, he merely thinks he's the archvillain, when in fact he's a bozo being led up the garden path by Bishop. That's a smart way of turning his flaws into strengths.

Dead Romeo #1 - A six-issue mini by Jesse Blaze Snider and Ryan Benjamin, about a 1980s rock singer back from the dead as a vampire... or something. To be honest, it's not entirely clearly explained what the hell is going on (I had to check an interview to confirm that he was actually supposed to be a musician), but the gist is that he's been brought back with a bunch of nastier undead types, and he needs to kill an innocent if he's going to stay around. Otherwise, he's going back to hell. There's an awful lot going on, and it doesn't really work for me; he's obviously not going to kill the innocent girl, and beneath a barrage of endearingly crazy ideas, the characters seem a bit thin. It tries hard, though, and the horror fans will probably go for it.

Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #1 - Another anthology book, with a bunch of stories about minor characters (some recycled from the website) linked by a framing sequence about Marvel's assistant editors. The tone is all over the place; the links are played for comedy, and so is a Mini Marvels piece with Hawkeye, but then there are American Eagle and D-Man stories played entirely straight. And the assistant editor sequences are a little too heavy on the in-jokes, but what did you expect? It's more hit than miss, to be fair, and there's something quite enjoyable about the evidently sincere enthusiasm for this pointedly uncommercial project. Yes, it's four dollars for an anthology of stories about obscure nonentities, but it entertained me.

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1 - The long-awaited second series for Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart's Seaguy. The first volume came out five years ago, so it's unfortunate that this book clearly assumes you've only just read it. And there's no drastic changes here: if remember the first three issues, well, this is more of the same. Now, Seaguy was one of Grant Morrison's more divisive projects. Some people think it's a fabulous entry in absurd, demented world-building with a weird internal cartoon logic that holds it all together; some people think it's just gibberish. But ignore those people. They're wrong. It's a book with real vision to it, and while you need to read the first series to get it, I'm glad the project is finally going to be completed.

X-Men: First Class - Finals #3 - More fighting of random villains... and then, out of nowhere, the book throws an unexpected curveball, completely wrongfooting the reader in a great example of how to be confusing for the right reasons. To be honest, the central plot remains rather underwhelming - a bunch of old villains are wheeled out, presumably to give some closure to all the earlier First Class stories. But that gear change halfway through is a very memorable scene, enough to raise the story up.

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