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Magneto #7 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta & Javier Fernandez (artists), Jordie Bellaire & Dan Brown (color artists)

The Story: “Are you not entertained!?”

The Review: With the Marauders adequately dealt with, Magneto turns his attention to a series of mutant disappearances in Hong Kong.

As ever, Cullen Bunn’s narration is razor-sharp and highly engaging. While the character is too big for it to be a definitive version, Bunn owns Magneto’s voice. Magneto’s appeal exists as much in the imagined diction of Bunn’s intense monologues as in the more tangible elements of the series.

As for the plot, this is probably the best since issue #3. The scenario is simple enough in its construction to allow full attention to be paid to the underlying complexities and the action is plenty gripping on a visceral level.

One of the most refreshing and frustrating elements of an issue like this is Bunn’s comfort in showing us a sliver of man’s depravity. There’s no need for a complete treatise to be forced into twenty-two pages, but that doesn’t stop the story from showing us simple, true to life monsters. Bunn captures that quality of malice that leaves you asking why, but, of course, you already know the answer.

The art is split between the book’s two major art teams. It’s lovely to have Gabriel Hernandez Walta back again, if only for part of the book, not to mention Jordie Bellaire. Walta’s art is slightly less polished than usual, but it’s a minor quibble compared to the air of seedy power that he provides the issue. The care that Walta puts into Erik’s stubble, his musculature focuses the eye on the minute and the dirty, daring you to engage with the grime and corruption of the setting without crossing into the adolescent revelry that dooms many comics’ attempts to be ‘realistic’.

This issue also demonstrates Walta’s skill with body language, particularly in the shoulders. The fear in the promoter’s nervous precision or the ‘sick of this’ exhaustion in Magneto’s tensed stance or even just the way that Erik crouches over his coffee all add to this comic’s impressive ability to communicate information unconsciously.
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Magneto #6 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Javier Fernandez (artist), Dan Brown (color artist)

The Story: The Marauders; or, The Modern Prometheus.

The Review: If you’re like me and have, at some point, sought a summary of the complicated mess that is X-Men continuity you’ve probably heard of the Marauders. The villains of the highly successful 1986 crossover “Mutant Massacre”, the Marauders name has long carried connotations of power and sheer black-hearted villainy. The group decimated the peaceful Morlocks, nearly killed Kitty Pryde, forced Colossus to kill before paralyzing him, and cost Angel his wings. The massacre of the Morlocks was long held up as one of the few long-lasting tragedies of the Marvel universe, before finally being eclipsed by bigger and more recent events like the destruction of Genosha or M-Day.

The Marauders have escaped true retribution thanks to their fairly unique ability to be cloned back to life by Mister Sinister, but Magneto’s decided to change that. What follows is a roaring rampage of death and destruction through the ranks of the Marauders that highlights just how vicious Magneto can be when properly motivated. As Bunn introduces a weapon so natural for Magneto that it’s almost shocking that it hasn’t become a staple of the character, Erik whispers, “I discovered how it could be used to slip past your defenses[…]the third time I killed you.”

Though we’ve been conditioned to only acknowledge the elements of violence actively considered by the story, it’s hard to overlook just how frightening Magneto is here. In one of the most interesting lines of the issue, Bunn affirms that there is no continuity between the different lives of the Marauders. While I’m personally fascinated by what changes and remains consistent between clones, this moment humanizes some of the worst that Marvel’s mutants have to offer and reminds us that each time Magneto catches up with them it is murder.

The way I describe it there, the issue sounds a bit like torture porn, and maybe it is. Nevertheless, while the book has more than earned the small parental advisory notice on its front cover Cullen Bunn does have a method to his madness. Bunn uses Magneto’s monologues to distract not only from the gruesome deeds his protagonist commits but from the dramatic arc he’s crafting throughout the issue.
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Uncanny X-Men #22 – Review

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

The battle with S.H.I.E.L.D. comes to an end this week as Cyclops, Beast, Maria Hill, and even Magneto put aside their differences to combat the rouge heli-carriers. Everything comes together this issue as the huge cast of Uncanny X-Men finds its way into the climactic battle.

Bendis does do an impressive job of laying out the stakes. Particularly if you respect Logan’s dream for the Jean Grey School, the threat of annihilation is exceedingly real and present throughout the issue. Likewise, each victory for the X-Men, no matter how small, feels like reason to celebrate, thanks in no small part to the sheer amount of set up that’s led to these crucial moments. The whole affair is appropriately cataclysmic, but Bendis actually gets a couple of nice jokes and fist pumping moments in amongst the gloom. Despite the building feeling that this is the end, a sensation that is all the sweeter for its rarity on this series, Bendis’ plotting has some serious problems.

There’s no denying that this is something of an abrupt ending, and one that deals more in expectations than in actual content. The best example is probably our villain. After last month ended with Beast dramatically announcing that he knew who was behind this, you’d expect that the answer would be fairly forthcoming, but I assure you, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. Despite repeating his certainty on page 5 and again on page 13, Hank isn’t ready to reveal his findings to his fellow X-Men until halfway through page 14…off panel. The scene actually ends with Scott demanding “Who?! Who is it?, leading me to actually throw up my arms on a crowded subway and cry “oh come on.” In actuality it doesn’t take too much longer to learn the identity of the mastermind, but, like much of this series, it’s absurdly and painfully drawn out.

Worst of all, when we finally do meet our villain, it comes out of nowhere, lacks any attempt at motivation, and is largely without value for the title going forward. I respect Bendis as a writer too much to believe it, but it almost feels like he planned this arc without knowing who the villain was himself! More likely, the rushed and confusing resolution is the result of the upcoming “Original Sin” tie-ins. There may be any number of reasons why things turned out this way, but it doesn’t change how flimsy the ending comes across.

Luckily that apocalyptic tone I mentioned is beautifully realized by Chris Bachalo, who provides one of his strongest issues in recent memory. Bachalo starts with an unusually stark style that works wonderfully with the bright simplicity of the Canadian sky. The next scene introduces a little bit of grit into this style before it all breaks loose on the grounds of the Jean Grey School.
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SENYC Report: Marvel – The Next Big Thing

marvel tnbt

Marvel came out in force for Special Edition: NYC. Though they easily flattened the competition when it came to number of panels, this was the one to see if you wanted to know what was coming from the House of Ideas.

The panel was moderated by Senior VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort and featured a slew of top name talent. This included Senior X-Men Editor Mike Marts, fan favorite writer Peter David, Storm writer Greg Pak, and Deadpool editor Jordan D. White. There was even a surprise guest in the form of Katie Kubert, the former editor of Batman and Detective comics who had announced her departure from DC less than twenty-four hours before! Continue reading

Magneto #5 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: “The war’s the only thing we can be sure of.”

The Review: Last month’s issue of Magneto felt very much like filler. The pace of this issue is not quite back to what it was, but it possesses something its immediate predecessor did not: a sense of purpose. Additionally interesting is a cryptic mention of last month’s events that may see my so-called filler become rather important.

Despite it’s slow pace, Magneto #5 is clearly an issue that will have significant consequences. The introduction of Briar finally provides this series with a supporting character for Magneto to play off of. Given the rather remarkable success that Cullen Bunn has had so far, it’s almost worrisome to see such a dramatic shift in the paradigm. I certainly don’t want to see another ‘badass and his support staff’ story, but thankfully that’s not the way it looks like we’re going.

Briar Raleigh is a fascinating character because she actually seems to be a match for Magneto, without straining credibility. This is a woman who walks up to the master of magnetism with slabs of sharp metal wrapped around her leg and feels confident she’ll walk out alive. Even more interesting is the fact that, while we learn more than Magneto does, it’s still very unclear what game Briar is playing. We see actions that hint at her motives, but they all can be taken a number of different ways. That mystery instantly makes her captivating.

Unfortunately building that mystery requires, at least in Bunn’s mind, toying with Magneto and the reader. There’s some great and surprisingly natural suspense in this issue, but it can make for a somewhat frustrating reading experience when so much space is taken up by this odd game of chicken they’re playing. It’s nothing new for noir inspired comics to devote a substantial amount of page space to snappy dialogue but I’m not sure that we needed separate panels of Briar walking to a drawer, finding alcohol, commenting on the alcohol, picking up said alcohol, pouring that alcohol, toasting, and drinking.
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Uncanny X-Men #21 – Review

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

The Story: One of these days S.H.I.E.L.D. is just going to give up on helicarriers…but it is not this day.

The Review: After an intriguing but uneven showing last month, things are really heating up in Uncanny X-Men. While the premise of the New Xavier School actively going to war with S.H.I.E.L.D. is an exciting idea, Bendis’ story is playing out in a somewhat different fashion than expected. With Scott’s powers gone haywire and S.H.I.E.L.D. closing in, I think it’s fair to say that things are very much going wrong for Cyclops, however the trick of this issue is that he’s not alone in that.

There’s a rule of storytelling that says that if you can make things worse for your character you should. Certainly it’s hard to deny the potential for building narrative tension, but when you have to make things worse, it can actually get somewhat rote. Still, where many stories feel like the gods of their world hate the protagonist, Uncanny X-Men #21 is the sum of its people’s machinations, their fortunes rising and falling, building a web of fascinating intrigues. Bendis is playing with our expectations, throwing several wrenches into the works, and to great effect. The whole thing feels unexpected and organic.

The issue is also thankfully free of the padding that plagued previous installments. While one could certainly argue that we didn’t need an interlude on Madripoor, watching Mystique struggle on two fronts really sells this issue as an essential read and highlights the interplay of the characters’ differing principles and ideas about the place of mutants in society.
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Magneto #4 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Javier Fernandez (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: Magneto celebrates Memorial Day his own way.

The Review: With a sterling opening arc put to bed, Cullen Bunn’s Magneto now moves into different territory for its fourth issue, providing a one-off examination of where Erik goes, physically and mentally, between battles.

At this point a number of Bunn’s tricks are beginning to make themselves known. Especially only two weeks after the last issue of this series, it’s hard not to notice how many scenes there are of Magneto walking through dark corridors between the two. Likewise, it’s clear that one of the series’ trademarks is its methodical, almost procedural, way of documenting Magneto’s mission, methods, and kills. It does hurt the effect to see these devices called upon again so quickly, but they were effective for a reason.

While the Omega-Sentinels plotline is over, for now, this issue seems to say to its readers that the book will carry on with the same tone and flavor. One thing that Bunn excels at is imbuing his violence with purpose. Every move Magneto makes is calculatedly vicious in a way that very few stories even attempt. I still don’t think Magneto kills “on autopilot”, as an onlooker from issue 1 put it; indeed, it seems to me that it is actually of the utmost importance to him to be present and conscious of each strike and each murder. For Magneto, his power is a fusion of physical ability and focused will.

The dichotomy of these elements is the strongest part of the issue, as a retreat to an old hideaway reminds Magnus of the reasons he fights. The answer is fitting for a holocaust survivor and has a certain charm to it, though it might not be subtle enough for some readers.
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Magneto #3 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: It looks like you’re defending the mutant people from their genetic inferiors. Would you like help?

The Review: With this issue the first arc of Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s new Magneto series comes to a close. The past two issues of this series have been fantastic and I won’t bother with false pretense and pretend that this one isn’t as well. The question is not whether it’s a good read, but to what it attributes its success.

One thing that this issue teaches us, or at least reinforces for us, is that this will not be your usual mutant series. Even in the most critical moments of this story, the tone remains somber and restrained. Violence is a means to an end for Magneto and while he, like many readers, may hunger for it, there is no enjoyment, no distraction great enough to get between him and his people. There are those who will be disappointed to hear that there’s no climactic battle in this issue, but those looking for something fresh or a book that doesn’t undercut its tone to satisfy the tropes of the genre will find this story to be a sweet one.

Bunn presents a beautiful portrait of Magnus’ self loathing in this issue. He has blood on his hands and it commands his actions. The mutant revolutionary’s memories of Genosha are beautifully written and stunningly illustrated. The reminder of Genosha throws the character into sharp focus, a man of deep guilt, unwilling to lack the power of responsibility again, unable to deal with his own betrayal of that responsibility. In the winding catacombs of a secret Sentinel factory, he finds his opposite: demure, privileged, afraid, unwilling to accept responsibility for her actions. Like the best Magneto stories Bunn at once shows us why his actions are taken, perhaps even why they were necessary, but also the hypocrisy that he carries with him. Erik has been there, does that give him more or less right to judge?
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C2E2 Report: Wolverine – 3 Months to Die

Death-of-Wolverine-1-McNiven-Cover-49c4c

 

Though I didn’t plan it this way, my final panel of C2E2 was Marvel’s Wolverine: 3 Months to Die. And while I regret not being able to see a couple of the later panels, I can’t say that it was a bad note to go out on. Full of interesting questions and big announcements, it was definitely one of the most exciting panels of the weekend. And so with that in mind, I’ve decided to skip ahead and write about it early.

Before beginning, Mike Marts warned us that, “in true Marvel fashion you should stay till the end of the credits. And on that ominous note he introduced our panelists, Charles Soule, writer of nearly everything including The Death of Wolverine and Thunderbolts; Jason Latour, writer of Wolverine and the X-Men; Russell Dauterman, the artist on the upcoming Cyclops ongoing; Jordan White, the fantastically mustachioed editor of Deadpool and Thunderbolts; Mahmud Asrar, the artist on Wolverine and the X-Men; and Greg Pak, who might have seemed a strange addition to those who had not yet heard the rumors.

The panel started with Dauterman, who was unequivocal in his glee and honor at being invited to work on Cyclops alongside Greg Rucka. Dauterman attributed much of his love of the X-Men, Marvel, and comics to X-Men: The Animated Series. With an impish gleam in his eye, Jordan White immediately leaned forward and invited us to take part in a ukulele sing-along of the show’s classic theme song, despite its lacking any discernible words. Unfortunately the internet has thus far failed in its basic purpose by not providing a video of the event, though a quick search can probably turn up video of other instances. Regardless, take my word that it was extremely well received.

Marts then turned to Wolverine and the X-Men. He asked Mahmud Asrar who his favorite character to draw was. Asrar had trouble with the question, saying that they’re all growing on him, but settled upon Storm. Latour mentioned that the series has been juggling quite a bit but that we’re getting to the point in the opening arc where things start to fall.

Then Marts pulled up the covers for Wolverine 8-12, the titular “3 Months to Die” storyline, one at a time. I imagine the reaction was just about exactly what Marvel was hoping for but, of course, it’s hard to deny the striking power of the images.

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While the first of “3 Months to Die”’s five issues drops in June the title is entirely literal, as Charles Soule’s The Death of Wolverine will be released weekly in September. Soule described the miniseries as hitting fast and hard and explained that it would consider how Logan explores his own mortality after over a century of life and relative safety. He also revealed that each issue will look at a different time in Logan’s life and, by extension, another Wolverine.
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Magneto #2 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: To fight monsters we create monsters.

The Review: In Magneto #2, Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta continue their unique look at Marvel’s most fascinating villain. So far, Magneto is really not a superhero comic. Costumes are rarities, invoked for psychological effect, and powers are weaker than motives. It’s more of a detective tale than anything else, with Erik’s forceful interrogations, antagonism with the authorities, and strong inner monologue almost recalling a hero in the mold of Sam Spade. But building that tone takes time.

It’s hard to deny that this series is moving at an extremely leisurely pace. Each issue seems to take us a single step further into the mystery. It’s an effective pattern but many comics would contain a couple of Magneto endings. Still, when the narration is this entrancing and the art this beautiful, it’s not hard to overlook the pace.

Indeed, there’s plenty of reason to take time this month, as Magneto thinks back to a moment from his childhood as a resident of the Warsaw Ghetto. The balance between retreading old ground and respecting the historical importance of Magneto’s origin is a difficult one but, thankfully, Bunn seems to have a good grasp on his subject matter. Survival is a victory and loyalty is different from how we see it today. The issue also grasps the almost cartoonish cruelty that the Nazis frequently dipped into and avoids exaggerating their evil. It’s the right choice, especially when the truth is enough.
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Magneto #1 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

Magneto. Erik. Max. Champion. Terrorist. Survivor. Revolutionary. But never victim…

Magneto has been many things to many people, but, for better or worse, something’s changed in him. Building a stable future didn’t work, the mutant revolution wasn’t enough, and so this series opens with an inherent mystery: who is Magneto now?

Cullen Bunn does a fine job of demonstrating Erik’s complexity. An onlooker’s report that he kills “on autopilot” contrasts, but never contradicts, the methodical focus with which Magneto goes about his task. Bunn’s first issue lacks a single brilliant anything, not a scene, not a line, but while there isn’t a crystallized moment, it’s hard to deny that there’s a power in his words.

This Magneto gives off the gravity that his character deserves. He could be raining metal from the sky or drinking his coffee and you would be holding your breath just the same. But while Bunn gets into a great rhythm before long, he does take a minute to get the hang of Erik’s voice. Unnecessary biblical references and Magneto’s judgments of himself belabor the early pages. Thankfully, Bunn does a much better job of analyzing the master of magnetism through the lens of other characters. Magnus’ comments reflect the situation only as much as they reveal the inner workings of his mind.

One particularly welcome characteristic of our protagonist is his willingness to change his mind. At least to me, a Magneto beyond reasoning is a boring one. Not that he should be sticking up for humans, but so much beautiful subtlety is lost when he paints exclusively in black and white. The revelations of this issue’s final act demonstrate Magneto’s ability to reevaluate the situation and even to exhibit empathy, that most hated and yet most necessary element of the character.

The plot for this issue is pretty simplistic. It seems more interested in setting up the status quo and the tone of the series than demonstrating the premise at its most exciting. The series has a hook by the end of this issue, and a pretty solid one at that, but it’s a slow build.

Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s style is instantly distinct. He presents something of a simplified realism in his drawings, perhaps appropriate to the character. It’s very much in Marvel’s recent trend of more art-centric comics, but it’s decidedly not David Aja or Javier Pulido. Deep blacks and beautifully washed out colors, courtesy of Jordie Bellaire, flow into Walta’s thin, graceful lines and between the gentle shading that makes up so much of the book.
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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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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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X-Men Legacy #18 Review

by Simon Spurrier (Writer), Khoi Pham (Artist) Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: David shows Cyclops his master plan concerning many of his goals during a somewhat heated discussion. Irony then ensues…

The Review: Simon Spurrier sure knows how to anticipate the expectations of his readers. While it is hard nowadays to truly surprise anyone in most medias, he seems to be able to do so as he plays around with his status quo and with the premise of his story. Doing so in this issue, Spurrier advance the general subplots alongside his characterization David, creating some astonishing moments in this issue. However, for all those surprises, does it advance his general plot as well as create an interesting issue overall?

It’s a bit of a hit and miss, really, as while Spurrier plays to his strengths in this issue, there are some weird pacing issues in this month’s instalment that make for a bit of an unsatisfying experience when it comes to the payoff of some of the longer running subplots.

The strongest point, though, is the characterization as David is being one of the more interesting mutant characters thanks to the reinvention of the character by Spurrier. The use of his powers, his methods alongside how he operates shows the inherent problem the character needs to go through, which is consistent with his evolution as well as his actions throughout this arc. On the thematic side of things, this issue has a very strong display on how David perceive the mutant world and the battle between humans and mutants.
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X-Men Legacy #16 – Review

Simon Spurrier (Writer), Paul Davidson (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: David tries to take down Cyclops team as he has a very important message to bring to the man who killed his father.

The Review
: Super hero comics are about action. It’s a very general way to see things and one that lack a bit of depths, yet it is also very true. Why create characters that can lift mountains and punch giants if we don’t see them actually use their powers once in a while? The stories, characters, themes and the direction are important, yet sometimes the readers do like to see what the protagonists are able to do with their powers and abilities when it comes to cape comics.

Simon Spurrier understand this very well, as he gives the readers a very action-heavy issue without having the obvious problems associated with such issues. Even though the issue deals with David showing off the fact that he can beat pretty much anyone, the issue never let go of some of the key themes that makes this series good to begin with.

The first thing he does is actually play on the growing subplot that David is getting a better handle on his numerous powers, which is shown throughout him beating down on many of the characters found in Bendis Uncanny X-Men run. Using the various personalities in his mind, Spurrier shows a David that is in control, which also reflects on the way he talks to those he is beating down. This is a man that knows he’s immensely powerful and it is displayed in his mannerism, speech and his use of powers splendidly.
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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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Uncanny X-Men #8 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chis Bachalo (pencils/colors), Tim Townsend (inks)

The Story: Magneto and Cyclops have a chat while a pair of young mutants discover that no matter what path they choose to walk, it won’t be an easy one.

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men has never quite had the energy that its sister title, All-New X-Men, has… But this month it presses the advantage it does have– its characters. Unlike the other X-Books, Uncanny really has the opportunity to explore the struggle of the new wave of mutants. Bendis put his considerable talent behind two very different ‘coming out’ experiences this month and they positively radiate intelligence, empathy, and respect for his characters. Well, his mutant characters, anyway.

The need for new X-Men stories guarantees that the people of 616 (Marvel’s primary universe) will never fully accept or tolerate mutants. The metaphor of mutants as a minority is a powerful one, but, since Professor X first called his X-Men to him, we’ve seen the Civil Rights Movement, significant strides in the cause of feminism, and possibly even the beginning of same-sex marriage nationwide. In short, you’d think we might have moved on from the possibility of government-funded Sentinels, or at least heard about human advocates for mutant rights a little more often. While there are likely to always be those who cannot find it in their hearts to be tolerant, without a counterpoint, it feels like what we’re encountering are strawmen, and that doesn’t do justice to the book’s human characters, Bendis’ skill as a writer, or those who actually face discrimination.

Bendis also has control over two of the biggest names in mutant history. While the scene between Scott and Magnus isn’t exactly the sort that glues one to their seat, I can’t say that it wasn’t fascinating under Bendis’ pen. Bendis clearly has put a lot of thought into these characters and their unique circumstances only exacerbate the tension between them.

I’m starting to think that Bendis is some kind of Decompression Elemental. The man has absolutely no fear of eschewing traditional comic book plotting for the sake of his story, and a remarkable talent for keeping even the most academic of scenes interesting. Unfortunately, while this makes his work a pleasure to read, it does lead to a two-fold let down once you reach the end. First you realize that very little happened, and then you realize that you’ll have to wait at least another two weeks for more of that wonderful nothing. If this issue felt more connected to an ongoing journey that might feel more tolerable, but as of yet we don’t have much more than a vague mission of “make the world safe for mutants.”
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Uncanny X-Men #1 – Review

UNCANNY X-MEN #1

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story:  An inside man approaches Maria Hill with an offer to help take down Scott Summers.

The Review:  One of the concerns I had about this book going in was the way it would differentiate itself from All-New X-Men.  Yes, I realize it wouldn’t feature the time traveling teens, but Cyclops and his gang have appeared quite a bit in that book such that having them star in this one seemed to be some serious overlap.  Thankfully, Bendis quickly dispels this concern.  It’s not so much that Cyclops team are front and center, which they are, but rather that the tone of the book has been subtly altered.  While part of it may be due to Bachalo’s artwork, with its muddy colors and its lack of distinct, clean lines (as opposed to Immonen and Marquez on All-New), the big reason for this is the subtle change in tone.  The book feels more shadowy, more “underground,” and a touch more edgy.  The humour isn’t there and the soap opera of All-New is shifted into something that’s a little closer to twisty, spy-thriller dramatics.  All-New is the above-ground, flagship story.  Uncanny is what happens beneath and on the revolutionary fringes that Cyclops and his team currently occupy.
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All New X-Men #3 Review

ALL-NEW X-MEN #3By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen (Artist), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

The Review: All New X-Men is enjoying a well-deserved reputation as one of the best Marvel NOW titles at the moment. This success is largely down to the fact that it’s not really traded on the gimmicks which first made the title a talking point – Jean Grey coming back, the original X-Men coming face-to-face with their future selves – so much as it has strong character work from Bendis (and some top flight artwork from Stuart Immonen). This issue’s focus is restricted solely to Cyclops’ new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, revealing a little of the workings of the team and more of the turmoil present within it. I haven’t found it quite as compelling as the previous instalments, but it’s still some better than average comic booking and an important step forward for the overall story.
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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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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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Avengers vs. X-Men #10 – Review

By: Ed Brubaker (writer), Adam Kubert (pencils), John Dell (inks), Laura Martin (colors), and Larry Molinar (letters)

The Story: Cyclops attacks K’un-Lun in an effort to bring Hope home.

The Review:  Well, good news.  This issue was actually…pretty good.  That’s largely owing to the fact that the Phoenix corrupted Scott and Emma turn out to be extremely effective villains this month.  They’re compelling, particularly given that they aren’t at all bland or derivative, instead managing to stay true to their characters.  It’s “evil Scott” and “evil Emma” in the truest sense in that they are still distinctly themselves, just in a much darker light.

Scott, for instance, is the sort of guy you can’t help but hate.  Sure, he’s done a lot of good things, but man does he love reminding you of that.  As a result, he comes across as condescending and arrogant throughout.  It’s basically everything Cyclops haters loathe dialed up to 11.  Emma, on the other hand, is downright creepy.  She’s turned Utopia into her own little kingdom with its residents as her slaves; she’s fickle and cruel in a way that suits the character quite well.
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Avengers vs. X-Men #6 – Review

by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Olivier Coipel (penciler), Mark Morales (inks), Laura Martin (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer)

The Story:  The Phoenix Five begin to reshape Earth; the Avengers make a daring raid on Utopia to snatch Hope.

The Review:  I’ll admit that after last issue, I thought AvX had jumped the shark.  As a result, I was pretty worried when I started reading this issue.  Instead, against all odds, I had a reason to be excited.

Hickman has done some great work here with the Phoenix Five.  What we get is a story of gods among men and the resulting intersection and conflict between the two.  The result is a story that is much smarter, more meditative, and more global and nuanced in nature.  AvX has suddenly become a whole lot more than Avengers and X-Men punching each other.  Better still, Hickman muddies the waters at just how godly the Phoenix Five really are and the extent to which they are merely mortals gifted with godly powers.  The result is that the intersection/conflict isn’t just between gods and men, but also between the godly powers of the Phoenix Five and their human/mutant cores.

The result is a strange sort of antagonist: their acts are amazing and philanthropic, and yet they feel so alien that you can’t help but find them somewhat sinister.  Scott only continues to be more disturbing; while he acts and talks like a god, he still carries that vengeful chip on his shoulder.  This leads to scenes where he’ll drop his godly guise and seem like…Scott, with powers he shouldn’t have.  There’s also an especially strong scene where Scott plays the nasty, biblical God: teasing and tempting Hope only so he can chide and reject her for her lack of blind faith in some form of sadistic “test.”  For all the good the Phoenix Five do, it’s the hints like these that Hickman uses to suggest that men cannot and should not be gods.

Olivier Coipel’s art refreshes AvX just as much as Hickman’s script does, if not moreso.  While Romita Jr. truly was doing his best, Coipel blows him out of the water.  Coipel is everything you expect out of a “big event” type book, with an incredible sense of scale and drama and a polished, “big budget” feel to his work.  His art goes a long way to rejuvenating AvX and making the book an exciting one.
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