I think I’m all caught up and back on track for this week!
Spoilers ahead for: Second Coming, SHIELD, Avengers Academy, Young Allies, Iron Man Noir.
Uncanny X-Men #525 (Second Coming Chapter 10)
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Terry Dodson
Fraction hasn’t really lived up to my expectations going through, but he seems to have toned down whatever about him writing the X-Men that bugs me and it makes for a much more solid read. (Well, fine, there was still a lot more Emma/Scott stuff than was really necessary, but considering past issues, there wasn’t much of it.) Coming back to the action after Choi’s amazing art work in X-Force last week doesn’t help Dodson, but the rest of his stuff is solid. I especially loved one of the half-page splashes of Rogue he drew, pictured right.
As for the story, we take a small breather here, and see the Fantastic Four join the Avengers and X-Club as they try to work their way into the dome. Something about Dr. Nemesis being the mouthpiece for just how fucked up everything is strikes me as especially ironic, but I love it.
Oh, and what was with the random Xavier appearance all of a sudden? Did they finally remember Xavier’s been on Utopia this entire time?
Hope hating Cyclops for sending Cable and X-Force on what they think (but as comic book readers, we know better) is a suicide mission is another one of those moments where it’s obvious Fraction doesn’t have quite a hold on Hope. He’s doing much better than a couple months back and the bouncy incidient, at least.
Speaking of X-Force, my absolutely favorite moment was the Days of Future Past homage. Brilliant moment, something I commend Fraction and Dodson for pulling off without seeming cheesy or overblown.
All in all, this was a very solid issue, better than Fraction’s done in the few issues before.
Second Coming Revelations: Hellbound #2
Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Harvey Tolibao & Tom Raney
Wow, so. Team Fabulous isn’t so fabulous after all, but Gambit got something of consequence to do, so there’s that.
Honestly, I could barely contain my excitement when Death!Gambit showed up, even though the storyline went to an incredibly weird place. Did he infect Dazzler and Northstar with Death, too? Is his new power some kind of Death STD? Who knows! I just want to know how they’re going to deal with it, because there’s only one issue left to actually find Magick.
Speaking of finding her, the whole deal Pixie makes with some demon to get her soul back by killing Magick…yeah, okay. I don’t read the younger mutants so I have no idea of the backstory here, but okay.
Three out of five alone for Gambit getting something to do that isn’t mooning over Rogue (no matter how much I love them) and only four instead of five because wow, I didn’t need to see a panel of Magick in what has to be a result of someone’s tentacle porn fetish.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Dustin Weaver
The SHIELD storyline is actually quite impressive still, even if there are parts of it I still don’t truly understand. I’m kind of enjoying Nathaniel Richards and Howard Stark in this, I have to admit. I have my questions about the one page of actual script added to the book, though. Was it clever? Was it laziness? I can’t decide.
As I read more of Hickman here and on Fantastic Four, I find that he’s the sort of writer with a novelist mind, rather than a comicist mind. His ideas, storylines and writing are incredibly dense, reminding me of Lord of the Rings or the Bourne series, and I still can’t decide whether that helps or hurts his comic work.
I’m not saying I always want my comics simpler or dumbed down — Hickman’s work is refreshing for the above points alone — but there are times where there is so much going on that my mind blanks out in defense. It makes re-reads enjoyable, as I discover new things, but that only happens if I actually re-read and don’t leave the comic alone after my initial impressions.
It’s a very fine line Hickman treads, but I hope he continues to walk it because he’s a talent Marvel has needed for a long time, now.
Avengers Academy #1
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone
I’m giving every Avengers book being launched this month a solid chance, but Avengers Academy falls at the bottom of my list at the moment.
A book about kids is always going to be hit or miss, depending on if the writer knows how to handle them — their pasts, their actions, their emotions, their speech — and a lot of this annoyed me, especially the quips and pop culture references. Dr. Phil in Robert Pattinson’s body? Come on, now. There are better ways to make these kid seem hip.
On top of that, what bugs me most about all of them is Finesse. At first glance she seems to be nothing but Monet St. Croix 2.0, and it took me some time to warm up to Monet when I was first reading her, I don’t need another version on a regular basis.
I’m going to give Avengers Academy another couple of issues to see if it they find their footing, but otherwise, this was a lackluster debut in my eyes.
Young Allies #1
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: David Baldeon
This is how you start a new book of young superheroes.
I went into Young Allies on a whim, checking it out because my list this week was short. I’m so glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Right off the bat we’re given backstory for Toro that’s actually interesting, as well as introducing us to Arana and Nomad through their friendship as they take on a pair of hoodlums. Gravity and Firestar are done a little differently, but overall the introductions to each character are easy to follow, and in my case, I immediately found myself liking all five.
The fight itself is against a group of supervillain progeny called the Bastards of Evil, which is brilliant on so many different levels. They’re bastards! But they’re evil! Puns are my favorite.
This was a perfect little debut, and a series I’ll definitely be checking out on a regular basis.
Iron Man Noir #3
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Manuel Garcia
Iron Man continues to be my favorite of the Noir titles, though this issue seems to slow things down in terms of storyline.
I do love that Namor’s boat was only a fakeout for the submarine underneath (talk about badass), though I’m not sure where the airship came from all of a sudden. The little flashback of Tony and his father seemed a bit out of place, but that came to fruition with the cliffhanger ending that, I have to admit, surprised me.
The one thing I had a problem with was Madame Masque torturing Pepper. I enjoyed that Pepper wasn’t your typical comic book femme at the beginning of this series, but that’s kind of gone out of the window with the whipping and Pepper being drawn with her clothes half ripped off. A little disappointing for a series I hold in high regard, but not so much that I can’t forgive it.