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Help Peter David

PETER DAVID

One of the best writers in this industry, Peter David, needs a little bit of help. Over the Christmas holiday, Peter suffered a stroke and his currently in recovery. He’s not just one of the best writers, but probably the nicest one there is. And if you read those recap pages in X-Factor, you probably feel like he’s a part of your family.

His friends and family have organized the ways you can help, if you’d like to. One of the best ways is to get some of his ebooks–they’re only a couple bucks each and they’re great to read. But head here for more information, and to catch up on how he’s doing.

We’re all cheering for you, Peter. And as always, we can’t wait to read more.

GRADE: LEGEND

Cable and X-Force #1–Review

CABLE AND X-FORCE #1

By: Dennis Hopeless (writer), Salvador Larroca (Art), and Frank D’Armata (colors)

The Story: Cable is back, and the first thing he does is make himself and his teammates fugitives. Way to go, Nate.

The Review: Vibrant art, vibrant writing. That’s the best way to describe Cable and X-Force. There is a lot of dynamic here that Larroca, Hopeless, and D’Armata bring to the comic, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect book. The best comparison is the new Thunderbolts. Both books are about how the team comes together, but the difference is in the execution. This incarnation of X-Force is partly chance and partly planned. Cable  needs Forge and Dr. Nemesis, so he recruits them. But Domino and Hope arrive by other means…and Colossus’s role is not yet defined. This works well. It shows a team becoming something rather than Cable sipping tea in France watching Domino kill mimes (or whatever the hell that scene was in Thunderbolts with Deadpool). There’s a progression and a purpose. The problem is, the first issue doesn’t give us an idea of what that purpose is. We see them all on the run, not able to explain a lot of dead bodies to Havok and the rest of the Uncanny X-Force, and they have matching uniforms. They become a team–but why? This could be just a casualty of “writing for the trade.” But it didn’t leave me anxious for the next issue.Hopeless is good with the individual characters, developing them and letting us get to know them, but the plot is weak.
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X-Men Legacy #1

By: Simon Spurrier (writer), Tan Eng Huat (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), Jose Villarrubia (colorist)

The Story: David Haller, the son of Charles Xavier (and sometimes called Legion), is trying to get his insanity under control with the help of a foulmouthed monk (the best kind). And oh…he doesn’t know that his dad is dead. Awkwardness engaged!

The Review: I never really cared for the character Legion. He’s always come off as a very convenient plot device and not something that can be considered a real person. And what kind of power is having every power? Isn’t this just a more convenient version of Dial H? So we have this mohawk jagoff with a lame superpower and a convenient back story of being the son of the most powerful mind in the universe (aw for irony because the son is out of his mind) who is only used to futher a plot. And Marvel wants to base an entire series off of this guy? Good luck.

As it turns out, I kind of forgot to remove X-Men Legacy from my subscription list, and you don’t want to be that guy at the comic shop who’s like “Oh, I know you ordered this for me, but…I kind of forgot to cross it off, so…no…” So I picked up the relaunch. Figured I’d read the first issue and see how it went. And hell, I’ve been enjoying Simon Spurrier’s Extinction, so maybe this wouldn’t be absolutely horrible. Then I decided to read Thor: God of Thunder and really, that should have been the last thing I read: How can anything not seem mediocre after that beautiful bastard Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic gave us? But I guess I was just really wanting to not give Legion a chance in hell, because I read it right after. So, I read it.
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Thor: God of Thunder #1

By: Jason Aaron (writer), Esad Ribic (artist), Dean White (Color Artist)

The Story: Thor! In three different eras! With three different weapons! Against one completely bad ass villain. God of Thunder…where have you been?

The Review: I’m not sure where to start. Between Jason Aaron’s writing, Esad Ribic’s art, and Dean White’s colors–all three working in perfect unison–we might have the beginning of the best run on Thor in ages. It’s one of those rare comics that reminds you why you love comics. If you had any doubts on this relaunch, set them aside. God of Thunder should not be tied to the run before it. In fact, for those of you who suffered through Matt Fraction’s Thor and Mighty Thor, Jason Aaron invites you into his mighty welcoming beard. It’s warm here. Join us.
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Avengers Vs X-Men: Consequences #5

By: Kieron Gillen (wrirer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (art), Jim Charalampidis (Colors)

The Story: Sigh…there’s a Prison break.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The Review: Well, so much for “consequences.”  What were the consequences of Avengers vs X-Men exactly, as defined by this series? We got a lot of Cyclops in prison…which is now a moot point. Hope looking for Cable (he finds her, and leaves).  And…what? The only person to have any real consequences as a result of AvX is the Black Panther, and we only saw him for one panel in issue one. Hell, he didn’t even get any dialogue. Cyclops facing the consequences and changing? That would have been nice. Instead he just wants to be the new Wolverine. Logan has the school? Fine, Scott will be the one to do what is necessary. The bottom line from all of this is that Scott Summers DIDN’T LEARN A !@#$%^& THING!!! Wolverine telling him that he tries to emulate Scott when running the school? Not enough. Tony Stark revealing that he figured out how to use Wanda and Hope to restart the mutant race? Whatever. The little matter of Scott killing them man he saw as a father–NOTHING! It takes someone nearly sociopathic  to be able to go through so much and not change in the slightest. Which are basically the people he aligns himself with: Magneto, Magik, and Danger. So, on one side we have Captain America having this epiphany that he’s treated the mutant race in a hypocritical way (he’d do anything to save humans, or Americans, but ignored the struggles of mutants). And Scott, having kept his species alive long enough to become stable again, goes back to being the same person. Is he so jaded that he can’t acknowledge the miracle that happened for his people to come back from the brink? What happened to being a political prisoner?
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Avengers vs X-Men: Consequences #3 – 4

By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Jim Charalampidis (colors), Andrew Hennessy (inks), Scott Eaton (pencils-3),  Mark Brooks (pencils/inks-4)

The Story: Cyclops is still in prison, the rest of the Extinction team are still at large, the Avengers won and the X-men lost. In case you didn’t get that before. The Avengers–Captain America said in Civil War half a dozen years ago, “won everything–except the argument.”

Issue #3 Review: Stuff happened. Kind of.

Issue #4 Review: Well, there are great things about this miniseries and very frustrating things. One of the most frustrating things is that Gillen is such a talented writer, but the shackles on the story are so strong, it’s sad. The Cyclops here doesn’t even match the one we saw at the end of 2 and 3, or the final issues of Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 2). Gillen’s development of Scott Summers post AvX was not only going well, but swift. It’s only been a month and we’ve seen incredible lengths of pathos in Cyclops–all at Gillen’s hands. Everyone else writing about Cyclops right now just paint him as a dick (or the the Cyclops of the 90′s animated series). Gillen was showing us a different side to the argument. He does this not just through Scott himself, but how he interacts with others. He tells a newly formed student how wonderful Wolverine’s school is, and that as soon as he finishes his sentence, he should go there. He agrees to help Tony Stark (more on him later) with some tests after Tony tells him he knew that Wanda and Hope would reignite the mutant race. Cyclops has been showing humility, fear, wisdom, and yes,  more than a little narcissism, but Gillen was writing him as a character going through a profound change. Keyword: was. Sadly, there is a very abrupt halt to this development, and the heavy handedness of editorial glares on the page. This is especially apparent after a wonderful scene where Wolverine–calmed down since their last encounter–has a heart-to-heart with Scott that could have rebuilt their friendship. After what Wolverine tells him, and the progress Scott has made, it makes absolutely no sense to do what he does.
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The Mighty Thor #22

By: Matt Fraction (writer), Barry Kitson (breakdowns), Will Quintana (Colors)

The Story: Bring forth the Doom Ring! What is the Doom Ring? Seriously, I’ve been googling that all day and all I can find is other reviews for this issue.

The Review: This is the Thor I’ve wanted to see from Fraction since he took over a few years ago. And with his final issue, we finally get a Thor than can be taken seriously. Fraction writes a Thor that demands respect. The mopiness of earlier story arcs is gone. Now we get a thunder god who has had it with being pushed around by his father and constantly being reprimanded for saving the world. He puts himself on trial…which apparently involves tying yourself with glowing ropes to a giant stone circular tablet called the DOOM RING (isn’t a ring supposed to have hole?). Odin speaks against him, telling Asgard that Thor is no good for them. He even brings Enchantress in to belittle his son. On Thor’s side is Freyja (aww, mom!) and Hreidmar (some weird troll thing with glasses. Good chap). Once it gets to Hreidmar and Enchantress, it gets pretty interesting.
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Avengers vs X-Men: Consequences #2

By: Keirron Gillen (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (Inks), Jim Charalampidis (colors)

The Story: FINALLY! Someone is exploring what happens to Scott Summers going to jail. I thought nobody was going to show this guy behind bars. And I’m really glad someone is there to remind us of what a horrible person is, because we just haven’t had enough of it yet.

The Review: Was the sarcasm palpable enough? Yes, this is yet more Cyclops in jail. In fact, it’s an entire issue about Cyclops in jail. Not one of the plotlines from Consequences #1 are explored other than Cyclops and Wolverine. And it doesn’t look like this is going to be the end of it either.  Yes, by now we all fully understand–the Marvel Editors want to punish Scott Summers. But the person who wants to punish him the most? Scott Summers.
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Phantom Stranger #1

By: Dan Didio (story), Brent Anderson (pencils), Philip Tan (inks), Ulises Arreola (colors)

The Story: Judas Phantom Stranger sets out to earn redemption in the most bizarre way possible…he has to keep betraying people until every piece of silver he received betraying Jesus is paid off. It’s been 2000 years, and he’s gotten rid of 2. Man. Remind me never to piss off God. (My mother just told me that I’m too late)

The Review: Where did this book come from? The #0 issue last month was pretty good. It’s one of the strangest (no pun intended) takes on a superhero comic I’ve seen in the past few years. Plus the guy wears a fedora, which I have been rocking since before Mad Men and hipsters had to ruin them (they kept rain out of your eyes! The rims are perfect!). But the fedora fits the Stranger well because he is quite possibly the most Noir superhero ever created. That title gets passed around. Batman is a good example. Daredevil has had it for years. But now that Mark Waid has decidedly taken Daredevil out of the Noir spotlight, it’s time for a character to step in. To have his life beaten to shit again and again and again. To have nothing hopefull ever happen to him. And every time something good and wonderful is shown, it’s to let the reader know it will be taken away in heartwrenching brutality (wow, so Whedon basically has Noir at the spine of all his work.) We need a hero to fall into a dark abyss.
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Avengers Vs X-Men Consequences #1

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Tom Raney, Colors by Jim Charalampidis

The Story: Mutants are back, baby! Cyclops has fallen. Everyone needs a mission.

The Review: This certainly is one of those “set the stage” issues. We get a lot of introductions to the stories that will be told in Consequences, but nothing that is entirely concrete yet. Individually, each of these setups are pretty good, but when compiled into one comic, it gets a little tedious. So what are these setups? Well, we have what happens to Wakanda, and if Storm and Black Panther can ever patch things up (doesn’t look too hopeful). It also shows how screwed over T’Challa was in AvX. He actually wanted to remain neutral in issues 6 and 7, and then the Avengers brought an X-prisoner to his country, prompting Emma to prompt Namor to attack. Now his country is in ruins because of a war he wanted no part in, and he blames the mutants. I’m not sure if that is reasonable or not, but considering what happened to the poor guy, I think it’s better that we don’t see him rationalize everything. Who actually could? This shouldn’t be a debate about who he blames, we should just see a man who had something terrible happen to him and his country, and that’s what we get.

The next story has Cyclops in prison, which gets the most development in this issue. And it’s probably the story you will roll your eyes at the most. Basically, some organization is already trying to exploit the mutant phenomenon and want to test their technology on Scott Summers. And we’re back to the X-Men stories of old. It’s also really similar to the Osborn mini a couple years back. The only difference is that Osborn was an actual villain. Scott might need to be detained, but why SHIELD and the Avengers would send him to a privately owned prison who are clearly anti-mutant is completely unbelievable. At first it seems Cap and the others don’t know, but he sends Wolverine to to talk to Scott. Cap doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would send someone like Cyclops to a place like this. I think this is only thee to set up Wolverine and Cyclops teaming up again and taking the mutant-hating warden down. If that’s the case, this is very heavy-handed.

As for Hope’s part, it’s simply one of the best parts of this issue, since Gillen writes her so well. Duane Swierzcynsky deserves a lot of credit for everything he did to develop the character of Hope, and Gillen deserves equal credit for expanding and developing that character to the next stage. Now that she’s fulfilled her destiny, what’s next? This is what I am most interested in reading about, as we get hints of Cable, which is always nice.
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Batman: Death By Design – Review

By: Chip Kidd (story), Dave Taylor (art)

The Story: Batman faces his greatest villain of all time: Building Permits!

The Review: Chip Kidd is an awesome novelist. His novels Cheese Monkeys and The Learners are two of my recent favorite novels of the last decade or so. So when seeing that he wrote an original Batman graphic novel, I felt both excited and hesitant. It would be the same reaction I’d have if Michael Chabon decided to write a Spider-Man OGN. It sounds like it should be cool, but it could be a case of a popular literary author trying to be edgy. As someone who teaches this genre and has to explain to people that comics and graphic novels have as much merit as prose or poetry, yes, every time an author of critically acclaimed novels decides to write a superhero comic, the genre gets cred points (by the way, Davis Liss, I owe you a beer sometime). But the question is if they really have anything new to bring to the character.

In Death By Design, Chip Kidd tells a great Batman story. It’s a wonderful read that is well worth the purchase. But it really isn’t anything new. This isn’t Long Halloween or Killing Joke. It’s just a perfectly good but not quite great Batman tale. Is it different? Well, basing the mystery on architecture is certainly different, but there was nothing about the story that said it needed to be a Batman story. As well written as it was, it is a little forgettable at the end. None of the characters are very unique either, even the ones created for the story… Looking at just the writing, it’s not the most exactly revolutionary Batman story ever told.
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Uncanny X-Force #28

By: Rick Remender (story), Julian Totino Tedesco (art), Justin Posnor (colors)

The Story: Seconds before Daken blows them to hell, Psylocke uses a dying Gateway to blindly transport them…30 years into the future. Deathlock says “sup, guys?”

The Review: When I finished this issue, I stared at it for a few minutes wondering how the hell it was even possible to exist. I’m a creative type and while I generally enjoy reading something that is amazing, I also get that jealous “go frack yourself” feeling too. That rude awakening of “you’re not this good, and you might not ever be.” So, Rick Remender, please, go eff yourself. Uncanny X-Force is so damn good that other comics should quake in fear of it. If you listen closely to your weekly stack , you’ll hear the other titles crying “please read me first. PLEASE!” because if you read X-Force first, everrything else is going to pale in comparison, unless maybe Saga is also in that stack.

Fantastic Four: Season One – Review

By: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (story), David Marquez (art), Guru E-FX (colors)

The Story: Marvel sees the success of Superman: Earth One and says “how can we do this bigger, faster, and better? Release 4 times as many! That will make them special!

The (Real) Story: After getting cosmic powers from some space phenomenon…thing, the “Fantastic Four” try to redefine their lives. This all takes place in the early 1960s–wait, what’s that? Oops. It all takes place in the second decade of the 21st century…

The Writing: Here’s something annoying–for a story that is supposed to update the origins of characters, DON’T WRITE HALF OF IT AS A THROWBACK TO THE STYLE THEY FIRST APPEARED! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! This isn’t a poorly-written story at all, it just doesn’t feel like Aguirre-Sacasa had much interest in giving us a real update. There might be some changes here and there, but overall, it’s pretty much the same. Every so often we get a “hey look, this is present day!” in the form of iPhones and whatnot, but then there’s a Stan Lee throwback that brings in back to 1960. There’s a difference between a timeless story and a story without a time. It’s like Sacasa was attempting nuance…but the nuance failed.

Batman: Earth One – Review

By: Geoff Johns (story), Gary Frank (pencils), Jonathan Sibal (inks), Brad Anderson (colors)

The Story: Batman Begins. Again.

The Writing: Well, here we are again, another Batman origin story that is extremely faithful to the story we’ve always known. Hey, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? And that’s Johns’ approach to this graphic novel–don’t mess with the Batman mythos that works, just add subtle changes throughout. In many retread origins, there seems to be two camps with Batman: 1) random killing or 2) caused by someone in his rogue’s gallery. Think Tim Burton’s Batman against Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Now, what I love with this origin–and I hope this is just a tease and not a spoiler–Johns finds a creative way to do both (have your murder and kill someone too). The specifics of such, I’ll leave as blank as possible, but it was a unique take that was still very faithful to the original.
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Wolverine and the X-Men #14

By: Jason Aaron (story), Jorge Molina (pencils), Norman Lee (inks), Morry Hollowell (colors), Chris Elipoulo (letters)

The Story: Colossus/Juggernaut/Phoenix tries to win back the heart of Kitty Pryde as  only Colossus/Juggernaut/Phoenix can…a seafood buffet!

The GoodAlmost everything. Seriously, Jason Aaron serves us an incredible issue that is full of great humor and fun. From the opening of Colossus parting the sea for his date with Kitty to the remaining staff at the Jean Grey School attempting to run the school with only a fraction of the staff available, we get to see more sides to Kitty Pryde than we have since Whedon handled her. It’s very much her issue…in fact, for a title called Wolverine and the X-Men, is it strange that I don’t remember the last time Wolverine was present?

The Dark Knight Rises

By: Christopher Nolan (director), Christian Bale, Michael Kane, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cottilard, Jospeh Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy (stars)

The Story: Batman has been out of commission for 8 years, but when some other bloke in a mask tries to take over Gotham, Bruce Wayne puts his back on.

The ReviewThe Dark Knight was better. Let’s just get that out of the way so that we don’t have to question “which of Nolan’s Batman films was the best.” In fact, in many ways Batman Begins is better too. However, this does not mean, in any way, that Dark Knight Rises was a bad film. It survived the Curse of Three! Now the question is how to review the damn thing without giving anything away. The first problem is quite simply that there was no way it could live up to its predecessor. I actually went to the Trilogy Event hosted by AMC and watched all 3 in a row–great for being able to see all those connections big and small….but it also makes Rises have to live up to both films immediately instead of in retrospect. The Dark Knight is just so damn good that when Dark Knight Rises starts, your anticipations and expectations are staggering. Some of them are fulfilled…but enough aren’t.
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Captain Marvel #1

By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Dexter Soy (art)

The Story: Carol Danvers says “Sure, why not?” to being Captain Marvel.

The Review: It’s good to see Danvers back in her own book. And to see her take up the mantle of Captain Marvel is even better. As Cap says to her “Quit being an adjunct.” She’s been an Avenger for years, but hasn’t really taken center stage since the Initiative. Actually, just seeing a B-tiered character have a solo series right now is nice. Gives some variety to the line. And god knows we need a Captain Marvel title much more than another Avengers title (wait–we’re getting more in October…Remender–half mutant half human team? How much do you want?). So, yeah, it’s exciting to see Marvel take a risk, especially with a female character.

The Amazing Spider-Man – Movie Review

Directed by Mark Webb; Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field; story by James Vanderbilt

I’d like to share a revelation I’ve had with you. It was when I was watching The Amazing Spider-Man at midnight with a scattering of people (sadly Spidey isn’t selling out midnight openers anymore) and it was the scene where Peter Parker awkwardly tries to ask out Gwen Stacey, who in equal awkwardness tries to say yes… The Sam Raimi Spider-Man films are not that great. It took Raimi 2 movies to get us to feel for Peter Parker; while Webb and Garfield do in about 40 minutes. In a brief breakdown, here are my thoughts for Marvel’s latest reboot…

The Hero: Spider-Man is entering Batman/James Bond territory, in the sense we can start comparing different Spider-Man renditions. Andrew Garfield is in every conceivable way better than Tobey Maguire. Did they change some things about the character? Yes. To the purist, giving Peter a skateboard is like saying Peter kissed Paul, but if you can let go of the continuity reigns, you’ll see that this is still Peter Parker—awkward high school kid, but also realistic. Garfield sells this partly by attending the Mark Ruffalo school of acting. He talks a little awkwardly, fidgets a bit, stumbles over his words. It works very well for Peter Parker. Now, I do have to admit that it was actually my good friend Vonia I Peng (VIP wherever she goes) who spotted that out—also remarking that Garfield is hot like Ruffalo, so for any female readers out there who thought the best scene in Avengers was Ruffalo naked on the floor of an abandoned warehouse, you should totally see The Amazing Spider-Man. Still, while Ruffalo-esque, Garfield isn’t simply trying to be like his peer—it’s what works for the character. He brings something to Spider-Man that Maguire didn’t; kind of like what Downey Jr. did for Iron Man when the mask is on– you’re still watching Peter Parker. With Maguire, when the mask was on, you were watching Spider-Man, the Peter Parker was gone. Not this time. Same persona in and out of the mask. This movie is about Peter Parker, and we have an actor who can give us that.

The Villain: The Lizard was a good choice for this film. One, it took a cue from Batman Begins and didn’t start with one of Spidey’s core villains. I don’t want to say that the Lizard is expendable, but trying to get into the BIG big bad when we still need to learn about Parker would have been unfair to both characters… Yes, I realize that is exactly what Spider-Man did, and yes, it was a mistake. This model sets up for sequel goodness. We went into The Dark Knight with a fully developed Bruce Wayne/Batman. It allowed for the Joker to be fleshed out in a way he couldn’t be if he had been in Begins. Now, with the excessive amount of hints in the movie that OSBORNE IS COMING, we should see what really happens to Peter when a villain like this is introduced.  That was reason one. Two, Dr. Connors is an easy character to develop in a short amount of time. Guy lost his arm and wants it back. You’d have to be a dick not to feel for him. Hell, the first time he “lizards out,” he’s going to stop one of Osborne’s minions from testing the serum on war vets. Of course, he kind of loses his mind after that. Turning into a giant lizard might do that to you, I suppose. Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Connors well. Another lesson from Batman Begins, even for a small part; get actors that know what they’re doing. What Ifans struggles with though, is playing the Lizard; which is of course all CGI, but when the Lizard spoke and it sounded like Ifans, the creature lost its menace. It kind of made you wonder why Spider-Man would struggle against this thing at all. Changing his voice might have been a good idea.
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Uncanny X-Men #14

By: Kieron Gillen (story), Dustin Weaver (art), Jim Charalampidis (colors)

The Story: A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Marvel. It happens when they copy something.

The Writing: (Oh, Spoilers ahead) While the story does echo a lot of Matrix: Reloaded, it isn’t a bad story. It’s actually quite interesting. Mr. Sinister has built an entire London underground, populated by thousands of (male only) clones of himself (Ms. Sinister wasn’t invited). One of these clones, a journalist set to do an interview with Sinister Prime (?) is very different from the other clones–he has free will. But not really. He’s actually designed to think he has free will so that Sinister can be challenged by…Sinister. This actually works quite well with the Mr. Sinister we’ve been following of late. He is so egotistical that not only does he want to interview himself, but he wants to test his own system by setting himself against it.
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Uncanny X-Men #13

By: Kieron Gillen (story), Billy Tan (pencils), Cam Smith & Craig Yeung (inks), Guru eFX (colors)

The Story: While Storm, Psylocke, and Magneto mope around that they were left out of the battle on the moon, the Generation Hope kids have an awkward chat with Unit.

The Good: Billy Tan delivers pretty well here. Especially his handling of Unit, the odd robot who has a bit of an attitude problem. The thing with Unit is that he is able to process emotion, but in such a way that people don’t understand it. Tan gives us that stoic look for him, but with enough twitches and accents that you can see his emotion. When he says that he “really did like [Hope],” it’s hard not to believe his face. And when he, as Unit tends to do, manipulates the situation and everone in the room, Tan gives him a classic evil look that is perfect for the scene.
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X-Factor #237

By: Peter David (story), Neil Edwards (pencils), Karl Kesel (inks), Rachelle Rosenberg (colors)

The Story: So, Rahne isn’t exactly feeling her best, having vomited up the child of a wolf-god and disowned it (the merry things that happen in X-Factor). To try and get her to feel better, Polaris and Banshee take her to see John Maddox, the priestly dupe of Jamie. You know…it’s one of those light and fun issues!

The Good: In all seriousness, yes, Peter David can bring very lighthearted and fun issues of X-Factor to us when the moment calls for it. He can give us high octane awesomeness with grand fights, when the moment calls for it. Sometimes, the moment is not about seeing the team beat the crap out of something, or go to Vegas to save a troll (now THAT was fun!). Sometimes you need to get serious, and that’s what #237 does–it gets serious.
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X-Factor #236 – Review

Written by Peter David, Art by Leonard Kirk, colors by Matt Milla

The Story: Shatterstar in a fight that is more awesome than anything he’s been in for the last ten years. Awesome.

The Review: (This won’t take long) I read, through Peter David’s twitter feed, a review that called this issue a “return to form” for the series. That is a fallacy—to me, they must not have been reading the same series I have for the last 5 years. This is not a return to form. This issue of X-Factor is simply has more awesome than the standard amount of awesome that Peter David always brings us. The only times I’ve ever really felt that X-Factor wasn’t a top notch series was when they assigned a subpar artist to the series. I can’t remember the artist, but it went through an “amorphous blob” phase that couldn’t end too quickly. But thankfully, those issues are not present here at all. In fact, Once the fight kicks in, you become very appreciative of Kirk’s art. I always feel bad describing an artist to other artists, but Kirk’s art is like the marriage of Dodson and Deadato, and, continuing with the point of this review, it’s awesome. I love that the more brutal the fight gets, the more skewed the panels are. Never to the extent of what Deadato does, but if it were, it would be too much like another artist and not Kirk’s own thing. In fact, the fight is so well drawn and written that it’s not until after Scattershot reveals who he is and who he’s working for that you realize you didn’t even need to know that—but now that you do, it’s even more awesome! David answers questions you didn’t even know you were supposed to be asking.
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Massively Effective #1 – Review

Written by Marco Lopez and Bryan Ginn, Art by Michael Mayne, Colors by Walt Barna

The Story: Meet Mass and Effect, the two most inefficient superheroes of all time. So ineffective that a tribunal of godly creatures forbids them from ever being superheroes again. While Mass accepts his Fate, Effect…not so much.

The Good: The incredible amount of fun that I have not seen in a comic since Skullkickers. Lopez and Ginn have a myriad of great characters that keep bringing more fun to this comic, from the giant Lizard playing guitar to PHD and his sidekick. There is no shortage of a good time here. Of course, the main attraction is the two heroes—one, Effect, who is desperately trying to hold onto the nostalgia of his youth, and Mass who is almost the complete opposite—ready to grow up and leave childish things behind, but with just enough reluctance that Effect has some sway over him. The best thing about their bromance is that they’re both wrong, but they’re of course oblivious to that. Yet, like George and Jerry from Seinfeld, together they make one functional man.  Or in this case, one functional superhero. Only, since they can’t yet acknowledge each other’s strengths, they kind of just get into a lot of trouble. This leads to PhD, the embodiment of every mad scientist ever known.  He is a perfect foil to both heroes. For Effect, he’s too serious and contemplative. For Mass, he’s too crazy and out there.  But he’s never both of these at the same time. He has bat-shit crazy plans that he carefully, painstakingly constructs.  Neither Mass nor Effect know how to properly handle him and that makes some great conflict—I really want to see where it ends up going. And then there’s the art and colors—the art in this comic plays up the nostalgia end, sometimes even looking like a Saturday morning cartoon. In a way, the art is almost a commentary on itself—comics are supposed to have a bit of nostalgia to them, harkening back to simpler times. At least for those who have actually read comics as a child (as in, not me).  But what the art does for the various themes is give them a subtlety. Yes, this is very fun and cool and we get to see awesome battles against Mario Land rejects, but there is a deeper meaning to it, an understanding of holding onto innocence that only this style of artwork can provide.  While you are on the site, go and check out the preview for Rock, Paper, Scissors—great stuff—the art for that would be awful for Massively Effective not because it is bad art, but because it plays up the serious nature, while Massively Effective is about hiding from it. Plus, it’s just damn cool art.
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Generation Hope #16 – Review

Written by James Asmus, Art by Takeshi MiyazawaColors by Jim Charalampidis

The Story: Zero has no hope in the mutant messiah, and wants to take Hope away from everyone! Wordplay!

The Writing: I was never a fan as James Asmus. His one shots never thrilled me and his work in the anthologies was never very inspiring. When they announced that he was going to take over Generation Hope, a series I enjoy, I hung my head and considered canceling the title. But I decided to give it a shot and see where he took the title. And damn–Asmus stepped up to the plate. And then damn–Generation Hope gets canceled. And the thing is, it’s getting really good. The Sebastian Shaw arc was handled much better than I thought it would be. He also carried over Gillen’s work with ease and now that we’re in the penultimate issue, we get the culmination of everything from–well, really from when Second Coming finished to now. Asmus doesn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. He develops the characters further, yes, but doesn’t make any drastic changes to the characters or their voices.  Hopefully they find a good place for him. I would love to see him return to the younger X-Men characters again.
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Winter Soldier #2 – Review

Written by Ed BrubakerArt by Butch GuiceColors by Bettie Breitweiser

The Story: What’s a machine-gun toting Gorilla doing in my spy story? What’s a spy doing in my Gorilla story?

The Writing: Gorillas, secret villain auctions, Doctor Doom, Nick Fury kicking ass, and Bucky and Natasha reminding us why they’re the best spies in comics, and of course, unpredictability even for superheroes. Despite so many things going on in just a single issue, Brubaker paces everything out wonderfully. There’s a great blend of action, plot development, and character development that is often lacking in 99% of comics (Bucky is definitely the 1%). It’s even lacking in some of Brubaker’s own books. So what makes it work so well here? Reading Winter Soldier, you can’t help but feel that Brubaker loves this character. The story moves effortlessly because the writer is fully enjoying the story himself. This is a character that Brubaker invested so much into that it’s clear that he is proud that the character has his own title, and he’s going to make sure it’s fully deserving of it. But it’s also not just Bucky that he writes well. Black Widow is wonderful in this and Nick Fury, brief as his appearance might be, is spot on. And the story, it’s like Tinker Tailor Soldier Superhero. We’re only two issues in–the one thing that no one can say of Brubaker is that he is decompressing this story.
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