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Uncanny X-Men #20 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors); Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jon Holdredge, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, & Al Vey (inks)

The Story: Cyclops has declared war on S.H.I.E.L.D. and his opening gambit is a ballsy one indeed.

The Review: There are two ways to look at the war between the New Xavier School and S.H.I.E.L.D. On one hand the book has been building to this moment for twenty issues, on the other it took twenty issues to get here and we still have no assurance that things will be resolved any time soon. Both are valid and illustrate one of the key issues that Bendis has on this series, balancing the future and the present.

Many of this issue’s moments don’t make sense in themselves requiring further developments or the clarity of hindsight. Mystique’s continued plotting, for instance, can intrigue but really offers very little to a reader. This same pattern plays out again and again, whether in Hijack’s home or at the New Xavier School. At the same time, however, much of Bendis’ best writing doesn’t expand the scope of the story, but deepen it. Even in the same scene I just mentioned we find biting dialogue, like when Sabertooth asks how much longer Mystique will continue impersonating Dazzler and she responds, “Until Scott Summers is a party joke and S.H.I.E.L.D. is sold for parts. So I’m thinking until next Friday.”

Even if it doesn’t rank among his best, Bendis’ dialogue lives up to his lofty reputation. When it comes to engaging a reader in the moment, this issue really is quite spectacular. Brief scenes like Scott’s confrontation with an old teammate can feel very substantial. Admittedly that example is rather text-heavy but, while there is a bit of harried visual storytelling, there’s such tension in the dialogue that you might not be able to help getting sucked in. That’s a quality that Bendis has been shooting for for a long while, but it’s very much present in this final scene and the central confrontation of the issue.

It’s clear that Bendis saw Scott’s appearance on the helicarrier as the core of this chapter. Unfortunately a side effect is that most of the rest of the issue is a bit dull, but you can’t deny the power of this sequence. There’s perhaps a little too much time spend on Director Hill’s romantic preferences, but rarely has Scott’s cult of personality been clearer or Bendis’ grasp of his characters’ psychology more apparent.
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Daredevil #1.5 – Review

By: Too many to list—check out the review.

The Story: Daredevil narrowly avoids having a mid-life crisis.

The Review: It’s good thing to be fifty years old and still popular enough for people to notice. If you can get an actual commemorative issue out of it, even better! There may have been other peaks for Daredevil in earlier years, but right now he’s in one of that rare, enviable position of being both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. There’s greater joy to celebrating his longevity at a time when it looks like his greatest years are still to come.

That feeling of confidence is in no small part due to Mark Waid’s fabulous work with Daredevil for the last few years, which is why it’s so fitting that he kick off this showcase issue with “The King in Red,” a look at the life of Matt Murdock literally at age fifty. These future glimpses are tricky things because you’re projecting how certain beloved characters will end up, which is always a volatile thing to do—anyone seen the series finale of How I Met Your Mother lately?* Fortunately, with comics, readers know better than to take these future stories as anything more than potential.
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Uncanny X-Men #19 – Review

By:  Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils); Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Mark Irwin, and Victor Olozaba (inks); Chris Bachalo and Jose Villarrubia (colors)

The Story: We heard you like Sentinels so we put Sentinels in your Sentinels…

The Review: Back in August Uncanny X-Men received a slight boost when it featured a story about Cyclops facing off against a new breed of Sentinel. In the seven months that have passed, Uncanny has been growing and changing, largely for the better. Now that it’s time to pick up that thread, will it have the same oomph that it once did?

The answer is an ever charming sort-of. Bendis makes no attempt to hide that the past half a year of stories were a distraction. While the events of issue seventeen are mentioned, it’s clear that this series has been off track since the last Sentinel arc. The problem is that, for the most part, the filler was far better than anything that preceded it. So while it is intriguing to return to the mystery Sentinels again, there’s a sense of a backslide that I can’t deny is worrisome. It’s also strange since the event that took us off track, “Battle of the Atom”, ended with a dramatic reveal that S.H.I.E.L.D. has Sentinels, and different Sentinels at that.

Regardless, we’re diving back into Bendis’ main story. Summoned by a surge of mutant activity, the New Xavier X-Men find themselves lured into a trap. Bendis knows his collaborators and the creative team deliver a slick futuristic take on the X-Men. These aren’t the simple androids of the Mark I, and panels like a swarm of alien-looking mutant hunters spawning from the maw of a gigantic Sentinel are powerful and eerie. Likewise, a scene inside Cerebro is the stuff of science fiction, the kind that convinced us to buy sunglasses in middle school.

These new model Sentinels present a solid challenge for the team and Bendis’ answer serves to resolve the problem while significantly deepening the mysteries surrounding it. It’s a situation that is all the more fascinating for the removal of Hijack from the team, but the answer is pretty simple. Indeed, much of the issue seems designed to highlight Chris Bachalo’s contributions.
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Uncanny X-Men #18 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Marco Rudy (artist), Val Staples (color artist)

The Story: Cyclops finally starts speaking clearly, just in time for the world around him to stop.

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis’ dialogue seems to come in two general forms, razor-sharp character work or droning back-and-forths, and generally you can tell if you’re reading a good Bendis issue or a bad Bendis issue based on which one you get. Of course, there’s always an exception that proves the rule. This issue is that exception.

You see, despite belonging to the prior category, this issue suffers from a myriad of serious problems. After the dramatic events of the past two issues and the accompanying pruning of the team, Cyclops’ X-Men return home to find the All-New X-Men missing, the result of the “Trial of Jean Grey” storyline in their own title. Seeing as this title has no part in that crossover, and thusly nothing to say about it, Bendis retreats back in time to when the original X-Men arrived at the New Xavier School and, effectively, engages in some house cleaning.

It’s a bizarre choice to flashback only to lead back to the present day. The flashbacks don’t particularly benefit from the context and the jumps through time quickly become dizzying. I could easily imagine a new comic reader getting lost. One of the strangest elements is how much of a retcon this feels like, despite Bendis writing the entire story. The events of this issue are interesting, if only in that way that addictive web surfing is, but they don’t feel like natural additions to the story. It also highlights how irrelevant the O5’s move to Cyclops’ school was.

Still, as I mentioned, the character work is up to par with the past few issues. Cyclops’ conversation with Kitty is especially raw. It’s a solid scene, if one that really should have played out the first time someone accused Scott of killing Charles Xavier – which reminds me how many times people refer to “Charles Xavier” in this issue. You never called him that when he was alive…
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Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #5 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)

The Story: The plan of Reed Richards and Tony Stark gets going as the fate of the Ultimate universe lays on Kitty Pride and her ability to fight Galactus on her lonesome.

The Review: I have to confess I am a bit relieved. While this series started on the right footing with plenty of destruction and high stakes, the more it progressed, the less it could make me care. While I do have a general appreciation of the Ultimate universe and its characters, there are a great many things I like quite a bit more than this publishing line.

One of those is Galactus. Being a creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee along with being an amazing concept, I always do tend to like it when he is included in stories. With his presence, the stakes are always higher, more cosmic and there is always an inherent mix of goofiness and awesome that is brought alongside the character that I enjoy tremendously. However, for some reasons, it seems that this series and its conclusion, despite it featuring heavily the character in question, managed to be a rather unsatisfying affair.

Where it fails, in a way, is in how it is expedient, but also a bit unbelievable. While suspension of disbelief if a concept that is strongly tied to anything that is super heroic, the fact that the manner in which the characters actually defeat the cosmic entity is quite absurd is a tad baffling. While the very thought of someone trading punches with the planet-eater is something that is exciting on paper, the manner in which this very action unfold is quite a stretch considering the very threat and power Galactus represents.
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Uncanny X-Men #17 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors), Tim Townsend w/ Al Vey & Jaime Mendoza (inks)

The Story: The newest X-Men battle chickasaurs, carrot people, Shelob, and S.H.I.E.L.D. while simultaneously acting in the greatest Verizon commercial never made.

The Review: In the past few months Uncanny X-Men has become a home for some of the best one-in-done stories in modern comics. After a look at the women of the New Xavier School and a spotlight on Magneto, Brian Michael Bendis gives us a, debatably, more traditional team story.

Another interesting trait of this title is Scott Summers’ emerging habit of putting his students in life threatening danger for training. While the issue hints that Magik is keeping an eye on them, it’s certainly in keeping with his mutant revolutionary status and differentiates his teaching style from Wolverine’s. Indeed, rather than retread classic X-Men ground and send his squad to the Savage Land, Bendis explores a newer locale. In the end the actual difference is pretty limited, but it’s an apt metaphor for what’s going on here.

This is the first issue of Uncanny X-Men where the teaching staff is largely absent. For the first, and the long overdue, time the success or failure of this issue rests entirely on the New Xavier’s students and, fun as a book about Scott, Emma, and Ilyanna can be, these kids are entirely up to the task. Likewise, while we all love a good Savage Land story now and again, Tabula Rasa presents a feeling of mystery and possibility.
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Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #4 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)

The Story: With Galactus still doing his rather ominous-looking actions, the Ultimates recruits the X-Men to their cause.

The Review: To talk about Brian Michael Bendis is to talk about decompression. While Bendis can be an effective writer when he exploits a situation to its maximum through different angles, he can be somewhat problematic when it comes to pacing. Single issues aren’t his specialty, most of the time, with some particularly great concepts being stretched out in order to maximize his strengths. Unfortunately, it does the very same with his weaknesses as well, which can be overly apparent occasionally.

This issue is an unfortunate showcase of the writer’s weaknesses, which sadly does not make for a very satisfying issue. Being a transition issue for the most part to set things up for the conclusion, the story in itself moves characters from point A to B, explain a few things to its readers and set up many elements for things to arrive at their narrative peak later. Unfortunately, there are several problems in the execution of this approach that makes this much-less exciting than it could be.

The first thing that Bendis does right, yet not in the best of way, is to set up some kind of plan and use the characters in order to move things along. Doing so at a frantic pace, the readers are reintroduced to the X-Men as well as to the potential manner in which the Ultimates might confront Galactus. Presenting many facets of their plans and somehow explaining the gist of it in a rapid manner, there is little to no time given for the possible implications, be they moral, scientific or to show how many of the characters might react or feel about the many possibilities offered by the plot and decisions therein. In its quickness, Bendis unfortunately dazzles through the more interesting tidbits which could have made this story much more exciting, treating most of the characters as set pieces more than actual persons with problems, traits and what-not.

The other problem that the comic face is the fact that nothing really does happen here. There is an explanation and a plan at the beginning, some very few moments for characterization and then a good amount of action, all leading to the same conclusion as the previous issues: they need to do something or their world is screwed. There is a lack of accomplishment or surprising twists that makes this rather slow, but also rather safe, with close to no consequences being actually presented for the readers to enjoy. The sensation of cataclysmic events is well done, but it comes at the sacrifice of the characters and the story in general.
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Uncanny X-Men #16 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors); Tim Townsend w/ Al Vey, Mark Irwin, & Victor Olazaba (inks)

The Story: This old soldier refuses to fade away.

The Review: Despite being one of the most fascinating and important characters in comics history, I comfortably ranked Magneto as my worst character of 2013. Uncanny X-Men’s 2013 was marred by a near obsession with Scott Summers, willfully disregarding other, more interesting characters and quickly dropping plot points unrelated to his journey.

Tellingly, this series has made a remarkable recovery over the past two issues, each of which barely featured Cyclops. This issue generally continues both trends. While I stand by my criticism of Bendis for ignoring Magneto’s reaction to Charles Xavier’s death, his relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D., and the force of his personality, after reading this issue, I can say that what mistakes were made were not made in ignorance, as Bendis quickly tackles all three. I’m not sure that hastily throwing these at the reader fully compensates for past missteps; however it is nice to know that these issues have been on Bendis’ mind to some degree.

From there Bendis takes a page out of “X-Men: First Class”’ book and sends Magneto on an exotic undercover adventure. It’s really remarkable how well this formula works for the character and, as ever, it quickly proves how dangerous Magneto can be. The issue does a great job of reminding us that, though he could easily rip a ship apart, Erik has always been most dangerous for the care, inventiveness, and dedication that he’s brought to his control of magnetism.
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Cataclysm The Ultimates’ Last Stand #3 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)

The Story: Miles Morales and Reed Richards travel to Earth-616 for help against Galactus.

The Review: Decompression is perhaps one of the plagues of current comics that make readers cringe the most. While slowing things down to perhaps exploit every possible changes and smaller details can work to great effects in most stories, it is a technique that does not always adapt well to certain genres. Some writers can do a slow-build wonderfully, while others don’t seem to be able to actually understand the fine line between progress and stalling. Also known in some circles as ”trade-writing”, it is always a rather disappointing thing to read an issue that is so blatant in its general lack of meaningful progress.

This issue verges for the most part on the worst traits of this particular problem, balancing between being rather slow and uneventful without being absolutely meaningless. While not the most satisfactory issue, it does give readers and those following the Ultimate universe some rather memorable moments while it does its job moving from point A to B decently enough.
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Uncanny X-Men #15 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Kris Anka (art), Rain Beredo (colors)

The Story: Mutants are hated, feared, victimized. Those with the courage to stand up to bigotry are forced into hiding, reduced to outlaws and terrorists. It is a hard time to be an X-Man. But that is no excuse to have nothing pretty to wear.

The Review: While the post-Schism world is an interesting one for the X-Men, I doubt I’m the only one who’s getting tired of Cyclops hogging the limelight. Bendis has filled the New Xavier School with fascinating young mutants, but, after fourteen issues, many of them remain strangers to us. Last issue proved a game changer for Benjamin Deeds and Emma Frost and I’m happy to say that Bendis has followed up with another great character issue.

Bendis takes his time setting up the adventure in this issue. It’s one that we don’t often see, but admittedly, it could have gone wrong rather quickly. Thankfully, Bendis does not disappoint. This issue does an impressive job of providing eight distinct, fully realized women. Well…maybe seven and a half – the cuckoos, you know. The initial scenes in the New Xavier School are especially charming, as the girls dance around the issue and Emma takes charge.

Of course, Bendis acknowledges something that really should have been apparent long ago: living in Scott Summers’ school in the middle of the Canadian wilderness must be boring as all get out! What do they do there? How are they living? So, when the increasingly extroverted Irma mentions that she wants to go shopping like the girls on TV and in books, Jean gleefully responds “We have books?” It’s subtle, but the enthusiasm for books tells us something about Jean. How I’ve missed knowing the X-Men.
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Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #2 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)

The Story: With Galactus destroying everything, the Ultimates are left wondering which options are left against cosmic powered entities.

The Review
: The latest issue of this event was rather bombastic. In a lot of ways, the arrival of Galactus proved to be rather exciting, with a certain level of destruction and scope that was rather entertaining to read. Attempts were made to stop him, people were panicking and everything that needed to be said about the cosmic entity had been clearly put on the page. However, how does a writer continues with such a big introduction to his cast and to the conflict at hand?

Unfortunately, Brian Michael Bendis follows this with an issue that slows down the action and sensation of urgency in order to bring people up to speed. While it is always a nice thing to remind readers about some of the specifics and to see the characters obtain information on the current threat, it does not always make for an exciting or enjoyable reading experience.

Simply put, there is quite a lot of exposition and dialogue here, with Bendis mixing things up with his traditional take on conversations in comic books. While some of the quips coming from the character adds some levity to the situation they are in, it quickly becomes too much as most characters ends up either explaining the obvious or their motivations to one another, which leads to pages rather heavy in dialogue.
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Uncanny X-Men #14 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils and colors); Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Victor Olazaba (inks)

The Story: Ms. Frost you’re trying to seduce me, aren’t you?

The Review: I don’t think that I’ve hidden the fact that I’ve felt that Uncanny X-Men was always the Loki to All-New’s Thor; younger, less likable, more radical, and defined by inferiority. At times the series has shown great promise, but it’s never fully come into its own.

Especially with the incorporation of the original X-Men into the New Xavier School, this is an uneasy time for this title and there’s not much time to right the ship before its caught on the waves of another event. So how does Mr. Bendis deal with all this? He says ‘screw it’ and heads to Atlantic City.

Indeed, while the confusion at the school is alluded to, Bendis decides to sidestep the issue and focus on one of the institution’s quieter students: Benjamin Deeds. Just how quiet is Benjamin? Well I’ve been reading this series essentially since it began and I had completely forgotten that he existed. I’m glad of the reminder, too.
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Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #1 – Review

 

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)

The Story: Galactus hungers for alternate universes. Luckily for him, he actually is in one.

The Review: Readers of super hero stories are usually very open when it comes to concepts and how they are interpreted. A blind man with ninja training acting as a lawyer? Check. A man that turns green and massive when angry? Check. A man from a previous universe that has enormous power and need to feed on planets in order to survive? Double check. There are many ideas in this type of universe that are rather silly, yet the suspension of disbelief of capes enthusiast is usually rather strong.

There are times though were some ideas are perhaps a bit too far-fetched, however, like this series dealing with Galactus, the one from the regular 616 universe being in the Ultimate universe. There is potential here, to be sure, yet there are so many ways this could go wrong. Does Bendis and the rest of the creative team manage to bring out some of the better uses for this idea to the forefront in this opening issue?

For the most part, Bendis opens this up fairly well, using some of most preeminent concepts of both universes to create a good comparison between the two. The use of Galactus as an unstoppable force, one that cannot be bothered by ants is one that has been used many times before, yet it is used competently here as well. The destruction is on par with big action movies, which is commendable for a series that has a rather ominous title like Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand.
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X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 – Review

By:  Jason Aaron; Brian Wood; and Brian Michael Bendis (writers), Esad Ribic; Giuseppe Camuncoli; Kristopher Anka; Chris Bachalo (pencils), Andrew Currie; Tom Palmer; Mark Irwin; Victor Olazaba; and Wade von Grawbadger (finishes), Ive Svorcina; Andres Mossa; Guru eFX; and Matt Milla (colors)

The Story: Fifty years ago, Professor Xavier assembled a team of young mutants, the original X-Men, to protect the world from evil mutants. Today, Xavier has assembled a team of young mutants to eliminate the original X-Men and protect evil mutants from the world. Happy anniversary, guys; hope you survive the experience.

The Review: At long last “Battle for the Atom” has come to a close. Can you believe that this event only started two months ago? At times it seems like it’s always been here.

When I opened this issue, I was surprised to see Jason Aaron’s name on the credits page. Brian Michael Bendis does manage to get the last word, but it’s Aaron who handles most of the heavy lifting. Bendis hasn’t shown his best self on this event, but Aaron was behind the rather abysmal last installment in Wolverine and the X-Men #37. Many of the flaws present in that chapter reappear here, but stronger plotting and more valuable subject matter allow this issue to escape the sins of its predecessor.

Though justifying the sheer amount of time and energy this story has subverted would require a pretty astonishing ending, taken on its own merits, X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 is a strong issue that closes the book on one tale while writing the first lines of several others.
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Guardians of the Galaxy #8 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Francesco Francavilla (Artist/Colorist)

The Story: S.W.O.R.D. is under attack! Thankfully, the curiously Earth-obsessed Guardians are there to save the day…or at least try to.

The Review
: Brian Michael Bendis could be seen as a writer that really like to take his time, to let the situations and conflict build up just the right way in the stories he is telling. In his tenure on Daredevil, he had used his style to great advantage as he let one change affect the whole life of Matt Murdock in strange ways. In some of his books, his decompression and the way he treat dialogue is truly an advantage.

However, this style of his does not really work in some series or with certain genre of stories, with this issue of Guardians of the Galaxy being an example. While his take on dialogue, characterization and action can certainly work on other books, it makes this cosmic oriented series suffer a bit.

The first thing that is hurt by this is the pacing, with the issue being incredibly uneven at times. The first few pages of Gamora and Star-Lord bickering doesn’t seem to get to the point fast enough, lingering on with potentially interesting points that aren’t explored enough. When the action do start, it picks up in speed as it sometimes seem to slow down and then go faster as the dialogue and the non-descriptive action continues with Star-Lord, Rocket and Abigail Brand. It jumps around in terms of its plot progression and the importance of its elements, with character development and the action suffering as a result.
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Uncanny X-Men #13 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Marte Gracia (Colorist)

The Story: The bad X-Men from the future tries to send the past X-Men to their own time as the real X-Men from the future tries to prevent their plans from working.

The Review: There are things we kind of take for granted when it comes to serial storytelling. We always think that character development, story progression and genuine moments of entertainment shall be given to us with each issue. It is something that all issue and writers should strive to give, but sometimes some issues are more miss than hit, which can bring forward frustrating books.

This issue of Uncanny X-Men is unfortunately one of those issues, where a lot of what could make it worthwhile is simply absent. It is a mindless issue that seems to want to give us as many ”awesome” moments as it can, delivering plenty of action but little else, resulting in a read that doesn’t advance the themes or the plot in any significant way whatsoever.
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Guardians of the Galaxy #7 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Sara Pichelli, Valerio Schitti (Artists), Justin Ponsor (Colorist)

The Story: Angela gets interrogated by the Guardians as we learn more about her origins in the process.

The Review: There are times when certain theories of ours gets closer and closer to being real. What may sometimes start as some kind of inner joke turns out to be much closer to truth, to either our joy or our horror.

My actual theory, which is just that, mind you, is that Brian Michael Bendis got this title our of editorial mandate rather than by choice. With the movie releasing in less than a year, those characters needed a presence in their original format and as such a strong creative team needed to be presented, thus Bendis being given this title. It may sound harsh, yet this issue do provide a lot of material that adds to the previous issues being released to support this thought of mine.
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My NYCC Experience

On my second day of New York Comic Con, I headed straight to the Empire Stage for my first really big panel: Marvel’s Amazing X-Men & the Marvel Universe.

Ushered into the room, I found myself surprised by the sheer scope of it. None of the other panels had warranted much more than a large classroom, this was more like a well-funded lecture hall. As we sat down a series of screens announcing the day’s panels sprung to life and subjected us to a loop of one of the most life-draining advertisements I’ve had the displeasure to view. I won’t go into the specifics too much, but, as the panel was sponsored by a certain drink company, we had to see their latest attempt at uncomfortable pandering: a lengthy commercial advertizing their “big cans”.

Amidst this sea of fandom, it was both uncomfortable and disheartening to see such corporate schlock on the screens. I couldn’t help wonder if this was just what they thought was funny or if it was trying to appeal to the con-going community specifically. If it was the later, I’m deeply saddened to know that this is what companies think of us, but I’m happy to say that, for the most part, there was universal mockery and scorn for the ad.

Thankfully, that only lasted a few minutes, and soon Marvel Senior Editor, Nick Lowe, took the stage to introduce our panelists. Though the architects of the current X-Men line, Jason Aaron and Brian Michael Bendis, were not in attendance, it was still quite impressive. The panel featured Gerry Duggan, the co-writer of Deadpool; Marjorie Liu, an acclaimed novelist who is just ending her run on Astonishing X-Men; Brian Wood, the writer of Marvel’s new X-Men; Dennis Hopeless, the aptly named scribe of Cable and X-Force and Avengers Arena; Charles Soule, the man behind Thunderbolts; Simon Spurrier, who writes X-Men: Legacy; and Peter David, who is finishing his lengthy run on X-Factor. The panel also included three editors: Jeanine Schafer, Jordan D. White, and Daniel Ketchem.
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All-New X-Men #17 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger (Artists), Marte Garcia (Colorist)

The Story: Another team of X-Men from the future comes to the past to warn the X-Men from the present. There seems to be a pattern here…

The Review: Battle of the Atom is a strange beast. Acting as both an event and line-wide crossover between some of the various X-Men titles, it tried to unite various threads together to do an immense story where some of those threads would close. It’s also a bit unevenly paced, as it suffers from what I may call the ”Bendis disease”, with close to every event comics written by Bendis suffering from it. The ”Bendis disease” has symptoms like excellent settings and ideas, interesting characters but poor pacing and a propensity toward rushing things along for the climax, however awkward it might turn out to be. While this event seems to show signs of this particularly dreadful malady , does this issue seal the deal on what many might fear for the future of this crossover event?

Surprisingly, it really doesn’t as Bendis delivers not only a neat twist on his story, but he also delves deeper into some of the more fascinating elements that were introduced previously. One of them being the actual future and the events that lead the previous team of X-Men, the very reason and concept that started this whole story to begin with. Bendis plays a bit with the current themes of Marvel Now! with the future he presents, presenting new characters along with the current X-Men readers are familiar with.
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Guardians of the Galaxy #6 – Review

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Sara Pichelli, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales (Artists), Justin Ponsor, Ive Svorcina (Colorists)

The Story: Star-Lord continues his discussion with Thanos, as the rest of the team face-off against Angela.

The Review: As Bendis continues his huge tale featuring the X-Men from the past, present and future, it would be hard to remember the fact that he has another team book under his sleeve. With this book seeing a particularly harsh delay in its release (with the latest issue being released at the end of July), it kind of got lost in the shuffle of big events that is up with the bit two. However, with Angela supposed to be properly introduced in this arc, does Bendis manage to convince the readers that the wait was worth it?

Unfortunately, not so much as this issue simply doesn’t seem to know what it wants to achieve. There are interesting tidbits, to be sure, yet those moments don’t amount to much for both this simple issue and in the long run of this comic, or so it seems. While the discussion that Star-Lord and Thanos share is indubitably captivating, with Bendis actually writing the voice of Thanos in a much better way this time around, it amounts to build up toward Infinity, an event that has already seen its third issue being released. On its own merit, it does manage to play well into the current version of Thanos that is being pushed by Marvel.

Another character that seems to be thoroughly pushed by Marvel, albeit it is a somewhat-new yet not-so-much one, is Angela. While the action certainly do push certain qualities of the character to the forefront, it does not amount to much in terms of readers investment, as her characterization is almost non-existent. Despite a few lines here and there and being generally very angry, Angela just has no presence that justifies the big push she has been getting. Besides beating the tar out of the whole team in an overly log action scene, she gets one line of dialogue, which is exactly one word: ”Demon”. Not the best introduction to a character, especially not one that Neil Gaiman is consulting for.
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Uncanny X-Men #12 – Review

The Story: Oh young Scott…If only you were older, you’d know that trusting yourself has never gotten you out of trouble.

The Review: By now I think most of us have realized that X-Men: Battle of the Atom isn’t actually a crossover so much as it’s an exorbitantly priced graphic novel. The quality is high enough that I’d be happy to sit down with this book, but these are not single issues, they’re not even chapters. Once you accept that you’ll enjoy these issues a lot more, but it means that no one can really fault you if you decide to trade-wait it…well, Marvel probably could but, you know.

It’s almost a shame that Marvel wasn’t able to just fire this story off in one shot, because this issue seriously suffers for it. In a respectable attempt to remain cogent to fans not expanding their pull lists for the event, Bendis takes ample time to recap what’s happened, including a giant two-page panel of the final shot from the first issue, and then allows the Uncanny team to react naturally to these events, even if some reactions are kind of redundant. Unfortunately that means that this is probably the least essential chapter of the story so far.

On the bright side, though, there are a couple of interesting bits and witty moments that add to the greater experience. Thus far Bendis has been awfully honest about the fact that this is really just a lengthy debate of values, and it’s kind of fun to hear all sides. You might say that there’s not much action, but I remind you that 12 Angry Men is still an engrossing movie. You may then respond that 12 Angry Men dealt in real emotional truth rather than depending on your knowledge of better stories that it can get you to summon up. Unfortunately, I won’t have much defense for that.
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All-New X-Men #16 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen, Wave Von Grawbadger (Artists), Marte Garcia (Colorist)

The Story: In the second part of Battle of the Atom, the current X-Men from the Jean Grey school for higher learning interacts with the future X-Men.

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis is known for a great many things to the Marvel fans. His way of writing dialogue. his banter, his decompression, the way he seems to insert his own favourites in the titles he writes and so on. While he is, like many authors, always controversial in terms of appreciation by the fans, his events are in another category altogether. They always possess a strong basis, one that has potential for pretty good storytelling and action, yet never seems to properly fulfill it. While this isn’t exactly an event comic and more a huge crossover between the various X-Men titles, with two of them being written by him, does he succeed a bit more in telling a story that may satisfy the X-fans?

It’s a mixed reaction, as there are some very strong concepts at play here, with the future X-Men being the key to this issue’s fun. Bendis is never short of ideas, it seem, as he incorporate many elements from the Marvel universe and combine them together with the X-Men mythos to create a team that seems very interesting. The incorporation of characters like Molly Hayes from Runaways and Deadpool to classic characters like Iceman, Beast and Kitty Pride makes for a team that could easily fit into the X-Men continuity. The fact that they also come from the future to warn the present X-Men about the danger of the original five’s presence here also thematically fit into the story Bendis is telling and building up since the start. In term of ideas, this is a winner.

What’s also pretty strong is the characterization, as Bendis sure knows how to play teenage drama as he write the young Cyclops, Beast and Jean Grey being unsure about the whole deal and being generally rebellious. Many of the interactions manage to mesh together exposition with entertainment, making sure the readers aren’t being bombarded with information. The traditional Bendis dialogue is here, yet it does not lessen some of the impact between the interactions at all, which well done.
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X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Frank Cho & Stuart Immonen, Marte Gracia (colors),  Frank Cho & Wade von Grawbadger (inks)

The Story: Yeah, yeah, it’s the start of a big event, there’s a big Sentinel battle, the fabric of time and space are unraveling, that’s all great. But deep down, you know the real reason to buy this comic: the X-Men fight Catholic dracosaurs!

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis is often at his best when his stories compel him to keep things moving. In such instances, he often finds ways to breathe essential character into otherwise mindless fight scenes and compress his well-loved writing style into a couple of choice words.

Luckily for us, X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 is one of those stories.

Anyone worried about a slow start to this event have nothing to worry about. Though a couple of pages at the beginning serve as a cold open of sorts, after that and the recap page it only takes two more to move the original X-Men from a charming scene in the Jean Grey School to an all out battle in Phoenix, Arizona.

Something of the lighting-in-a-bottle energy that ushered in All-New X-Men is back this week. The youth and exuberance of the original X-Men is on display and finds a strong counterpoint in the skilled Professor Pryde, once the very face of youth and exuberance, herself. Whether that takes the form of their lunchroom interactions or their battle banter, the five of them just feel like a well-established team.

In fact, the issue acts as a fine sampler of what Bendis’ X-titles are capable of, complete with a helpful logo to let you know which pages belong in Uncanny X-Men. The interaction between teams seems primed to be a major focus of this event, so it’s nice to see how well Bendis illustrates the dynamics between the two mutant schools. Bendis really sells the complex feeling of falling into old patterns with friends you’ve grown apart from. It’s less the X-Men and Brotherhood and more the New Mutants and Hellions.
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Uncanny X-Men #11 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Frazer Irving & Kris Anka (art)

The Story: The next stage in Sentinel technology takes on its human counterpart.

The Review: I think that it’s safe to say that Cyclops’ story is one of the most interesting threads that Bendis is playing with on this series. As he drifts dangerously close to Magneto’s viewpoint, how can the man who killed Charles Xavier honestly see himself as the man’s successor?

Bendis hasn’t been spending too much time answering that question, but this week he gives us a glimpse into Scott Summer’s mind. I expect that reactions to Scott’s inner thoughts will vary as much as they did to he and Wolverine’s schism, if not more, however I also think that the writing Bendis commits to these thoughts are a step above what this title has been getting.

For the first time we see Scott’s walls start to crumble. The responsibilities of being a leader to the mutant movement, the shame and joy of his students’ control rivaling his own, and the cruelty of a world that has finally given him the slightest glimmer of hope weigh heavily on this issue. Little things like Scott’s thoughts on having Angel on his team and his musings about what would happen if he died really bring out the best in him and anchor a character who’s found the only thing to lead with more responsibilities than a nation.

That said, it sometimes seems like Bendis is too close to this story. The opening page begins with a short monologue by Scott which begins, “Human cowards. You never learn.” That sounds like Magneto. That sounds like a particularly one-dimensional Magneto. What’s more, on that same page, Scott expresses confusion when the sentinel refers to him as a terrorist. It’s clear that Bendis at least sympathizes with this character, but sometimes it seems like he’s either blind to differing views or chooses not to bring them into Scott’s title.
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Uncanny X-Men #10 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Frazer Irving (art)

The Story: Apparently the revolution will be televised.

The Review: Oh Uncanny X-Men, what will we do with you?

It’s been clear from the beginning that this would be a somewhat different incarnation of the X-Men’s flagship title. Brian Michael Bendis has shown a clear enthusiasm for the idea of Cyclops as a revolutionary and the idea of focusing a relaunch of the original X-Men title around, debatably, an incarnation of the Brotherhood sounds absolutely fascinating. So where are things going wrong?

Well, firstly this issue is too dialogue-driven. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at another review calling Bendis wordy, but I assure you that this is an anomaly, even for him. It’s not that Bendis engages in his trademark banter, but rather that very little actually occurs in this issue.

The lack of action doesn’t stop the characters from talking about it, though. Cyclops’ training session is actually quite interesting but it would probably be even more so if Bendis would trust the events of the story to speak for themselves. He’s not telling rather than showing, but he chooses to both show and tell a single action rather than making time for more to happen.
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