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Cyclops #6 – Review

By: John Layman (story), Javier Garrón (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors)

The Story: It’s not how much you scan; it’s the scan you use.

The Review: Six issues in, and we have a completely different creative team on the series. I don’t like it. I highly doubt this is the case, but I still have this vague feeling that we were tricked somehow. True, I have a soft spot for Cyclops as a character, but mostly I came aboard out of faith for Greg Rucka’s writing and Russell Dauterman’s art, and now it looks like I’ll be getting neither. No offense to Layman or Garrón, but this isn’t what I signed up for.

These changes only exacerbate the general haphazardness that’s been part of the title since day one. When we opened on Scott aboard his dad’s ship and received an introduction to all the Starjammers, it was natural to think we had a team book that happened to feature a leading X-Man. But then Rucka threw us for a loop by sending Scott and Chris on a father-son road trip through the universe, which basically lasted for a montage before turning into a castaway tale for the next three issues. Returning us to the Starjammers now feels like Layman hit the reset button, taking us back to issue one.
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She-Hulk #9 – Review

By: Charles Soule (story), Javier Pulido (art), Muntsa Vicente (colors)

The Story: Forget Pistorius. This is the trial of the century.

The Review: As some of you may know, I just graduated law school, which hardly makes me an expert on all things legal, but which at least has given me enough experience to see how accurate legal fiction is. Now, Soule is a full-fledged attorney with a good amount of actual practice behind him, so on paper, there’s no reason to think I’d ever catch him making mistakes in portraying the art and craft of lawyering. That doesn’t mean I won’t try, however; that’s the ego of a lawyer for you.

But first, let’s talk about the actual story in the issue. Of course, we’re all curious to know what kind of crime someone would try to pin on the impeccable Steve Rogers, and Soule delivers a decent one that even manages to fit with the ex-Captain’s character. [Spoiler alert!] It’s actually not that difficult to imagine a young, self-righteous Steve unintentionally provoking a thug into killing his pal, although it makes Steve look a lot more like a moron than a murderer.
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All-New X-Factor #15 – Review

By: Peter David (Writer), Carmine Di Giandomenico (Artist), Lee Loughridge (Color Artist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Kris Anka & Jared Fletcher (Cover Artists)

The Story: Washington DC is full of crazy people and they must be stopped.

The Review: This is a wonderfully action-packed issue with a little something for everyone to do, and it sets itself up as the middle chapter in a (likely) three-issue arc. It takes its set-up from the events in Avengers and X-Men: Axis story, or at least I think it does. There was no segue from the previous issue into this one, leaving the set-up to be just a reference in the “Previously” page and some lip-service by Polaris a couple of times. It’s also taking such a tangential angle that it’s almost a disservice. It’s possible for a regular series to have a good tie-in to a publishing event, like having your cake and eating it, too, but I can’t help but feel this comic is taking some cake, eating it, but making sure not to enjoy it with every slow, frowning bite.

A really nice thing is that this issue is very nicely balanced among all the characters. A key sequence features a Polaris versus Gambit moment, but all the members of the team get a moment, too. In P v. G, there’s some nice display of powers, and Gambit proves a smart fighter. Polaris is very forgiving, however, and nothing really comes out of it, which is surprising given that the two have been bouncing off of each other from the start.

The art for this sequence isn’t as strong, relying on large areas of empty space that get filled with effects and explosions. It makes it eye-popping and colorful, but the better panels also have some relationships of other characters and/or environment, to help with the scale and context. Warlock’s save, for example, could be more dramatic if the art capitalized on the fact that there were wires coming out of his mouth. As presented, it doesn’t “read” very well.   

I want to point out Georgia’s moment, too, since Cypher decided to shepherd two preteen girls into the heat of a riot for some reason. Georgia is the one who nearly wipes out the crowd, bordering on the pseudo-supervillain, while Luna and Cypher are relatively useless. Georgia declares she “wants a uniform” to my exasperation. What, exactly, can she bring to this team? Other than a constant reminder to Cypher how his idea for a mission seven or so issues ago went horribly wrong? There’s so much going on with other characters and so much to still establish about the team that Georgia’s is one more storyline dragging attention way from more interesting elements.

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Amazing Spider-Man #8

“Adventures in Babysitting” by Dan Slott (Plotter), Christos Gage (Scripter), Guiseppe Camuncoli (Penciller), Cam Smith (Inker), Antonio Fabela (Color Artist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer); “My Brother’s Keeper” by Dan Slott (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Penciller), Victor Olazaba (Inker), Edgar Delgado (Color Artist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer)

The Story: Everyone wants to save a baby.

The Review: The first story features the title “Adventures in Babysitting,” of which I was a bit concerned, thinking that the “baby” it would be referring to the new Ms. Marvel. The opening page even hint at the way Ms. Marvel can’t handle a supervillain smack-down. With a turn of the page, however, Ms. Marvel reveals the heady giddiness of a young hero who relishes her first official “team-up,” and the baby in the title turns out to be the McGuffin that brings our team-up together.

In fact, despite my initial concern, pretty much every character gets to be honored in their appearance here, even the random henchman that happens to be one of the main characters in a recent Amazing Spider-Man spin-off series Learning to Crawl. Spider-Man himself shines as the experienced mentor here, showing off his powers, his humor, and even his ingenuity. He caps it off by acknowledging that his company Parker Industries, and by implication, his experience as a tenured hero, gives him a different kind of “power” with no less different kinds of responsibility.

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Avengers & X-Men: Axis #3

By: Rick Remender (Writer), Leinil Francis Yu (Penciller), Gerry Alanguilan (Inker), Matt Milla, Laura Martin, Edgar Delgado (Color Artists), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Jim Cheung, Justin Ponsor (Cover Artists)

The Story: Witness another schism, the result of a civil war between the Avengers versus the X-Men. Next up? A dark reign where villains seem to be heroes. The only original sin here would be lack of novelty. Oh, the inhumanity!

The Review: Okay, first impression– Again with the quips!?? I mean, Deadpool’s humor actually works and comes from a character known for non-sequiturs and hyperbolic randomness with liberal dashes of pop culture. Ditto, to some extent, for Loki. But when nearly every other new character shows up with the same attempt at one-liners, such as the Enchantress remarking about fondue parties, it comes across as bland NOT distinctive. At worse, various characters lose their individuality– no matter how many times Carnage can drop a “yo!” in his dialogue (get it? he’s *redneck* you see), it’s too distracting to see him playing well with others and even joking about “courtesy” with the Absorbing Man.

This lack of distinction highlights the fact that really the choices of the villain-team seem arbitrary to the point of meaninglessness. There’s no reason why Magneto should have sought out Carnage or Hobgoblin or any of them, specifically. Perhaps he did in fact track down, say, the Melter, who is infinitely a better choice than Sabretooth when fighting giant robots, but, you know. Even Mystique, whose face-shifting powers could conceivably confuse a specifically hero-hunting Sentinel, is set against the Red Skull during the fight. Strategize, Magneto. Strategize.

(The exception here seems to be the Enchantress. Despite my quibble with the assumption here that her powers are basically nothing but “love magic,” she actually succeeds in taking down the Red Onslaught, if you think about it. However, her usefulness done, she’s scuttled to the side so the Scarlet Witch can take the stage and cast the “inversion” spell and change the world, as she so often does. Why the heck couldn’t the Enchantress have done that?)

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Loki: Agent of Asgard #7 – Review

By: Al Ewing (story), Jorge Coelho (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: In which Doom doesn’t engage in self-discovery.

The Review: My unfamiliarity with Marvel canon means the films can be as influential on my understanding of the characters as the comics. Freyja, for example, I’m used to thinking of as the ultimate mother, full of unconditional love even for the reprobates in her family. So it’s rather jarring to see her manipulative strong-arming of Loki into a joyless future just to ensure the happiness of everyone else’s. Her rationalization for ensuring Old Loki’s existence is all queen, but little mother:

“He is the Loki we need now. In this time of change, he brings a promise of security. The future he promises is a golden one for us all.”

Even Odin, not exactly known for touchy-feelyness, has second thoughts about the trade-off. “All but him, cursed to ever play the villain, to ever lose… How does the younger Loki take it?”

His wife wavers, but stays on point. “He…he will come to his senses in time.”
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Daredevil #9 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story), Chris Samnee (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: It’s true that children can really drive you off the wall.

The Review: For those of you who don’t know, I work in the dependency system as minors’ counsel—yes, my actual day job—so I have a soft spot for abused, neglected, or otherwise troubled kids. A lot of people say it’s hard work I’m doing, dealing with such emotionally trying issues from day to day, but in some ways, I find the job easy because unlike many attorneys, I rarely have difficulty feeling sympathy for my clients. It doesn’t take much for a kid to pull your heartstrings.

Fictional children get similar benefits, which sort of makes up for their lack of substance. Not like there aren’t any young characters as complex and memorable as adults (e.g., Huckleberry Finn, Scout Finch), but they just don’t have the same richness of experience. They see things simpler and more intensely than grown-ups, which is exactly the power exerted by the Purple Kids (which is what I’m calling them until Waid tells me otherwise) over the people around them. They have no agenda beyond fulfilling their immediate impulses, and no motivation besides subconsciously inflicting the pain they’ve suffered on others.
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