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Uncanny Avengers #22 – Review

By: Rick Remender (Writer), Daniel Acuña (Artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

The Story: If you punch Kang in the face enough times, he’ll go away.

The Review: This is the final chapter in the “Avenge the Earth” arc, one that culminates all the set-pieces of characters past, present, and future in a titanic battle to save the universe from Kang. Also culminating is the epic tone created by the high stakes and personal sacrifices from various members. It all makes for a satisfying read that feels more like an “event” then any of the tentpole series that actually market themselves as such.

The plot is not necessarily surprising. We knew from the beginning (and from its reveal last issue) that Kang was orchestrating a plan that spanned decades, and of course we know our heroes will win. The focus on this issue is the knuckles-to-face brawl that will make it happen. Largely this all falls on Havok, who goes toe-to-toe with Kang and does not survive unscathed. There’s a personal stake in this because of his daughter, which is lost to him accordingly, along with some significant battle scars. Other heroes will be affected by the battle, too, namely Wasp, Rogue/Wonder Man, and Sunfire.

The pacing of this ultimate fight is done well, a pacing reinforced by the art. Havok often takes several panels to work through his progression of thought, and also the progression of throw-down. What’s a little more ineffective is the sizing of the panels; for example, in one panel Havok looms large as he rears back to deliver a blast of energy, but the actual release of energy is shown in a panel barely one eighth of the page, in a landscape view that must be the shoulder of the Celestial but doesn’t register well. For such a momentous blow both literally and plot-wise, it’s an underwhelming choice of layout. Similarly, when Sunfire destroys the villains’ spaceship, it’s sequence is interrupted by two panels of villains’ dialogue as well as a page turn, disconnecting the event visually, and the final explosion is in the background of a panel on the lower sixth of a page.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past – Movie Review

Spoiler Warning: Red Alert (Significant/Critical) 

Good news! If you liked X-Men: First Class, then you will really like X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The same things that a lot of people love about X:FC show up again in X:DoFP. For example, having the movie largely a period piece, in 1973, rather than the present day or some vague “not too distant future.” For another, having the focus on a core group of conflicted characters, namely Xavier/the Professor (James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart) and Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen) and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

In fact, I appreciate the last one the most, as it creates a very personal drama that is balanced by a very epic scale. The setting ranges from both past and future, and all over the globe – Russia, China, New York, Paris, Washington DC. The stakes are quite high, too – nothing less than the destruction of life on earth, after all, and the conflict of human/mutant is not left to some abstract reference; we actually get to see this very-real conflict in a framing device as Sentinel robots battle older-Professor and older-Magneto and other familiar X-Men.

And what a battle it is. There is a creative use of powers, here, as characters use their powers in genuine teamwork for the most effective moves. Watch for Blink’s (Fan Bingbing) portals to play around with physics, a visualization of power that is more effective on film than on a comic’s page. And I never knew I was so excited to see Warpath on the big screen, here played by Booboo Stewart, along with Storm, Iceman, Sunspot, the Professor, Magneto, Colossus, and Wolverine. The oppressive and hopeless tone is exaggerated here. Heck, their final stand takes place inside a tomb! But thematically, they hold their own because of their teamwork, best expressed with Bishop (Omar Sy) who can absorb and redirect others’ energies, and, of course, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) whose out-of-phase powers can also send others’ consciousness back in time.

If you are hoping to see more of these characters, however, you will be disappointed. Because the key to their teamwork is in the past, when there wasn’t a team at all. So Wolverine gets sent back in time (his consciousness is sent into his past-self’s body) in order to make sure younger-Xavier and younger-Magneto can play well together and stop Mystique from making a big mistake.

Let me just say BEFORE THE SPOILERS that it’s a good thing you’re smiling so much at the look and casting and costuming and sets and CGI/animation and everything. Because these smiles are enough to distract you from squinting a bit at the plot. Don’t look to too hard, or annoying things like QUESTIONS will come to your mind.

SPOILERS! Now in Question Form!

So… In the future, why do the X-Men try to send someone’s consciousness back AT THAT POINT? Surely they would have had this conversation prior to the events in the Last Stand. They’ve been using Kitty Pryde’s power for a while, right? So maybe I missed the point where suddenly it seemed like a good idea to use it THIS way.

Also, WHY does Magneto say they need his past-self when clearly they don’t “need” him since they reach Mystique in the moments she first tries to shoot Trask? I suppose past-Xavier needs him since he won’t know where Mystique is, but older-Magneto wouldn’t have known that, right?

Are we REALLY supposed to expect that Mystique has NEVER killed anyone prior to her confrontation with Trask? That’s a LOT of action for her to have seen to have “never” killed anyone.

Why is Trask in some random meeting with the President’s cabinet to be “glad he asked that question” about the Sentinels? Isn’t he just a businessman?

How many days was Wolverine in the past, and why doesn’t it take the same amount of “time” in the future?

And, of course, it’s best not to think about the whole time travel thing anyway, as it leads to questions like: how does Old-Wolverine return to his body which will become New-Wolverine the moment the timeline is “fixed” into its new version of history? It’s a neat idea, like your time travel is all a dream and doesn’t become “real” until the moment you wake up, but there are some philosophical implications to physics and identity and paradox which I guess you just have to accept in a superhero movie.

And which I guess pretty sums up the answers to any of my questions above, which is: “just because, OK?!”

Kind of like the answer to why Wolverine doesn’t “lose it” every time he doesn’t “think calm thoughts.” There’s only one time when it would be dramatically important for him to do, and so that’s when he does, despite clearly many other opportunities to do so. The film takes these moments as it needs them to keep the plot and characterization flowing. It’s quite impressive that it gives the audience an important emotional or expositional beat just at the right time, so thank you screenwriter Simon Kinberg and director Bryan Singer, although it’s not a glowing praise as I’d appreciate a bit more logic to the flow as well.

News Flash! Professor X Is a Jerk! (But Gets Better)

Clearly, this film is really all about Professor X/Charles Xavier, as played by McAvoy. Despite this film’s billing as an ensemble cast filled “with the most X-Men characters ever!!”, it really all comes down to Xavier’s heroic journey. His journey is the character arc that starts him off in the lowest place for him to be: crippled emotionally but not physically, a man who once helped mutants is now one who has no mutant powers. He must receive help from his guidance figure, here played by Wolverine, and must go on a series of quests to return him to his rightful place.

To be clear, yes, this means that Wolverine is actually more of supporting character in terms of plot, despite his placement on a movie poster. The guy has good lines, helps move the plot forward, and is recognizable/ marketable; but he doesn’t have any sincere motivation, character growth, or internal struggle. He does what he needs to do so the plot can advance, which again is pretty much like all those “Just Because” things I talked about.

Thematically, it’s interesting that Xavier’s turning point is in a big speech about how “good” pain and suffering is. Turns out, it has something to do with hope, or at least that’s what he says out loud… But I think the film overall makes a better case that it’s about teamwork. Magneto “loses” for example, because he breaks from the group to take matters into his own hands. Mystique “wins” because she joins Xavier’s side, if only for that moment.
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Uncanny Avengers Annual #1 – Review

By: Rick Remender (Writer), Paul Renaud (Artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (Letterer), Arthur Adams (Cover Artist)

The Story:
Martian Transylvania Super Hero Mutant Monster Hunter High School, now filmed before a live Mojo audience. 8pm Eastern, 7 Central, or check local listings for showtimes. Only on Marvel.

The Review:
Well, this will be interesting to review. The last line of the comic reads: “Call in the critics … we’ll leave it to them to decipher.” Okay, then. Challenge… accepted?

What also makes this interesting is that the story essentially wears its themes on its sleeves, which is to be expected when the adversary is Mojo and other, thinly-veiled caricatures of the media executives the story is meant to comment on. Heck, there is no thin veil here at all. It’s pure caricature, as well as pure parody, allegory, pun, and any number of thematic figurative language. We get it! Media executives are as vile a creature as any spineless, extradimensional monster. Or lawyers.

So it’s difficult to critique something that the story itself critiques– Mojo uses the Avengers and some mystical heroes to create a TV show. The problem is that the story doesn’t quite flow like that. Mojo creates the Avengers of the Supernatural to… make a different show with the Avengers in a high school teen drama? Then they break out, but then they actually have to fight Ghost Rider’s Spirit of Vengeance before being returned to Earth without even confronting Mojo a second time? I’ll use the book’s own words “At least Mojo’s new show doesn’t feel unoriginal. … Not on the surface, perhaps.”
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C2E2 Report: Different Perspectives – An Interview with Russell Dauterman

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Some of you may not have heard of Russell Dauterman yet, but that’s likely about to change. Dauterman was the artist on the excellent Supurbia, closed out the last two issues of Kyle Higgins’ Nightwing run with a bang, and is now going to be launching the new Cyclops title for Marvel.

Russell has a unique and beautiful style and such a wonderful love for the material that I knew I had to talk to him and, thankfully, he was gracious enough to give us a bit of his time this past weekend at C2E2. Join me as we discuss character, representation, and working in the industry. Continue reading

Uncanny Avengers #19 – Review

By: Rick Remender (Writer), Daniel Acuña (Artist/Cover Artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

The Story:
Somebody told me that you had an ally that looked like an enemy that I had last story arc.

The Review:
We all know about “flow,” that psychological state where everything else slips away and all you are aware of is the object of your focus. The best movies, shows, video games, etc., all have this state as their ever-elusive goal, and one of the best things I can say about Uncanny Avengers is that it consistently brings the flow. Whether it’s the villain Eimin guiding the discussion of the alternate X-Council, Havok and Kang coming to terms with their objectives as “heroes,” and how it all blends together in an extended fight sequence, I find myself gripped by the worlds and characters being explored here, and surprised when the final panel appears. In this case, it’s Thor about to throw down against the Big Bad, a cliffhanger to keep me baited until the next issue.

This flow is partly achieved by the ethical dilemma and high stakes that have been established for the characters and their world. On one hand, there is absurdly high stakes that risks the lives of millions and the very nature of time/space itself. On the other hand, you have the very personal stakes of a man, a woman, and the potential loss of their love and their child. Both extremes are completely melodramatic and over-the-top. I’m usually one to rail against “threat escalation” as it’s become a tired trope, but in this case it works. There’s something about a 4-color cape-and-tights world that embraces the absurdity of extreme situations, and it makes me curious to see how it plays out.

In the same way, the comic offers layers of ethical dilemma here. Havok and his team have to contend with accepting villains as allies, consider the costs of keeping a false world, and the limits of personal responsibility in regards to a community, the price of leadership, and more. They can all be summarized with the biggest one of all, the cornerstone of any superhero story, really: will you make things right, even if it might cost you everything? There are some pretty big, postmodern implications to this, of course: “who’s to say what’s right?” That last part, unfortunately, is a bit more implicitly handled, as Havok has no time to pursue that one too far.
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X-Men Legacy #300 – Review

by Simon Spurrier, Mike Carey, Christos Gage (Writers), Tan Eng Huat, Steve Kurth, Rafa Sandoval, Craig Yeung, Allen Martinez, Jordi Tarragona (Artists), Jose Villarrubia, Rachelle Rosenberg, Ulises Arreola (Colorists)

The Story: It can be hard to make an impression when your very powers prevent you to do so.

The Review: I have to confess this issue confused me when I looked at the cover and the very concept of what it was supposed to be. Here was a book that starred three different characters, each having their own impact, their own cast and their own message, as done by the three writers that defined their very goals and concepts. The problem, though, was the fact that each of the characters that had been the protagonists of this book are now, let us say, in a problematic position of non-existence. With none of these characters actually there to advance the story or celebrate the title, how exactly could this issue manage to get to the point?

Enter Forgetmenot, a mutant with the power of getting no attention and being erased from the memory of those he previously met. Focusing the story on this unknown X-Man, all three writers are able to pinpoint a certain era where they wrote their character, inserting this particular one into the narrative. Essentially telling some important moments through the eyes of a character that no one can remember, does the issue actually manage to celebrate the very legacy that is included in the title?

The answer is not only a resounding yes, but one filled with a certain joy at seeing an experiment succeeding in a way that feels satisfactory. What makes this work very well, though, is the actual character of Forgetmenot. His powers and how he copes with them makes for a powerful message about individuality, but also about advancing through the adversary that is loneliness. His actions, his reactions and his feelings are very human at their core, with a presentation of his struggles that makes him very identifiable for readers. Who hasn’t dealt with being alone, be it with an opinion, an effort or a phase? Well, this character has been so through his entire life, making some of his actions all the more touching, yet also easy to sympathize with.
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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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X-Men Legacy #22 – Review

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

The Story: With everything going to hell, it’s a nice thing that David has the help of multiple X-Men for his problems.

The Review: It’s always exhilarating to see a title get to its conclusion. While the end may be coming, to see all those subplots and plot threads developed bloom is something that is always a bit satisfying, especially if you are part of the readers that were there during the inception of the title. There’s always the chance that the title might end up being disappointing, but the chance of it being right is always exciting nonetheless.

X-Men Legacy could have very well become something rather insipid in its last few issues, yet the weird energy and the themes brought by Simon Spurrier are strong here. This issue, in many way, is a culmination of many ongoing themes and developments brought to the character of David Haller, providing plenty of entertainment and excitement as the showdown against the evil Xavier goes forth.

Still putting plenty of emphasis on the narration of David, this issue gives readers plenty of the fascinating thoughts that fueled this series and its development, this time giving us a deep insight on the evolution of his introspection and his relation to mutant kind. The way he interacts with other characters he has met and those he didn’t in this battle against his hate and fears personified is very interesting, revealing how his point-of-view changed with each experiences, giving some nice points to how Spurrier handled his evolution throughout the series as seen in the pages of this issue.
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X-Men #6 – Review

Brian Wood (Writer), David Lopez, Cam Smith, Terry Pallot (Artists), Laura Martin, Matt Milla (Colorists)

The Story: The real X-Men from the future warns the current X-Men about the other mutants from the future as some mutants from the present fights the impostor.

The Review: One of the major problems of huge crossovers is the incorporation of the major themes in the ongoing books touched by the bigger story. When themes which aren’t necessarily touched upon or characters who aren’t always featured appears in a book, it can sometimes kill the pacing or the subplots that drive it forward. It’s an evil that doesn’t seem that necessary in some case, which makes it all the more disappointing when it occurs in the worst of ways.

It’s a mixed blessing then that Brian Wood is really able to use some of the characters and themes brought by Battle of the Atom to his own ongoing in a way that surprises, but also make sense. Despite the whole time-travelling characters being pushed in this book, Wood is successful in moving forward both his own plot as well as the larger one of the crossover.
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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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All-New X-Men Special #1 – Review

by Mike Costa (Writer), Kris Anka (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)

The Story: Beast, along with the rest of the past X-Men, fight a mysterious time-displaced Dr. Octopus alongside Spider-Ock.

The Review: There are many reasons to be wary when words like ”Annual”, ”Special” and other such words follow the name of a regular ongoing title. While such accompanying words aren’t necessarily a sign of lesser quality, they aren’t always handled by the regular creative team, which may seem like something rather undesired by the fans. The fact that they mostly tell stories that don’t really connect with the main plot of the ongoing in question doesn’t guarantee a bad story, yet those that follows the plots and subplots about their favourite characters may find many reasons to be unsatisfied. Expectations aren’t always high when it comes to those issue, generally.

It’s a good thing that this very issue is actually quite nice, then, as Mike Costa try to tell an ambitious tale featuring the cast from three different books in three mere issues. With the first one being the introduction to this extravaganza of time travel and costumed heroes, the writer makes some pretty smart choices in his presentation and with how he handles several elements.

The first thing he does correctly is the fact that he gets just who he is writing as the voices of each characters feels right. While not all characters gets the same amount of panel time, Costa seems to know how to balance the different characters around, with the young Beast still being the genius readers know, without possessing the confidence he displays in his current iteration. There is also the somewhat clueless and always-learning Iceman, with his lack of experience and his generally attitude toward the feminine gender. The character he really do make shine though is Spider-Ock himself. The arrogance, the high intelligence, the demeaning attitude and the professionalism about his role as Spider-Man is spot on, with Costa managing to balance Slott’s characterization with a sense of fun that not all writers care to put on display.
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X-Men #5 – Review

by Brian Wood (Writer), David Lopez, Cam Smith (Artists), Laura Martin (Colorist)

The Story: Cyclops and Jean are on the run as several members of the X-Men try to get them back.

The Review: Big crossovers are both a boon and a curse for any book. While many readers that aren’t normally picking up the book shall try out something different in order to gain the full story, the story they may want to read does not always mesh with what went before in this particular title. It’s a double-edged sword that is best handled with care and that may cause more harm than good sometimes.

Unfortunately, this is what happens here as Brian Wood’s X-Men book serves as another chapter in the Battle of the Atom big crossover. What is normally a team showcasing the strong and diverse females from this particular corner of the Marvel universe ends up servicing the story instead of focusing on what make it different. It results in something that tries really hard to please the X-fans and those who wants the next big thing, yet stumbles in some small parts.

It’s not all bad, of course, as there are some parts that continue the strong characterization that Wood is able to give to some of the cast, like Rachel and Kitty Pride, who discuss being left behind to watch the school as the rest of the X-Men goes in search of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. The conversation they have feels like a normal discussion instead of an exposition-heavy dialect that only serves the story and not the characters, which is always good to see in such a book. However, those characters soon come clashing against the story as they merely arrive to grind the story to a halt, give a good ”the reason you suck” speech to the others X-Men and this resumes their roles for the story in this issue. They are well-written, yet their purpose for this issue seems a tad forced and clash against the pace of the crossover a bit.
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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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New Avengers #9 – Review

Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Mike Deodato (Artist), Frank Martin (Colorist)

The Story: The Black Order arrives to Earth as each member of the Illuminati tries to deal with them in their own way.

The Review: With Infinity still in its debut, we have already seen most of what the Builders are doing as we have seen a bit of what threat looms over Earth with the Black Order and Thanos. Since there are multiple threats and the other title by Hickman covers what happens in space, this one covers the Earth as the big response team is gone. Does this title uses this big threat in an original and entertaining way, though?

For the most part, it does show the scope and the motivation behind the attack as the Black Order is shown in action. Considering they are all new characters, Hickman does well in showing their capacities in action as each of them try to attack a member of the Illuminati, with Black Dwarf against Black Panther, The Ebony Maw against Doctor Strange and so on. We get the kind of threat they can be, yet they are still mysterious in some ways as to pique the interest of the readers. However, we don’t get nearly enough characterization for them to be compelling just yet as it is an area where they are mostly vague. Perhaps they’ll become incredibly memorable after this event, yet for now they are much more a threat than actual characters.

Part of this problem comes out of another issue the book has: pacing. It is by no mean a jarring and devastating problem, yet the issue jumps from scene to scene quite rapidly, leaving some of them without much room to breathe and develop. An obvious one would be the Wakandian conflict with Black Dwarf as Black Panther deals with the intruder, showing him as competent and full of bravado against a foe so large. However, the next scene we see shows the foe beaten and retreating, leaving the readers to wonder just how T’Challa did vanquish him. There are some other scenes which have that kind of trouble, setting up some the conflicts between other characters yet does not continue it, making sure there would be something left for the other issues tying into the event. It is fun to see what might happen, yet it only hurt the pacing to see two pages of Doctor Strange without us seeing any payoff or the character again for the rest of the issue.
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X-Men Legacy #15 – Review

Simon Spurrier (Writer), Tan Eng Huat, Craig Yeung (Artists), José Villarrubia (Colorist)

The Story: David does something that he needed to do for a long time: meet and talk with his mother.

The Review: In this actual superhero comic climate filled to the brim with titles either featuring X-Men or Avengers in the title, it’s always nice to see niche title going on strongly. Big companies like DC and Marvel are business first and foremost, yet it’s always comforting to see them try something new, releasing titles that may very well fail as it does not incorporate the more popular characters. Titles like Dial H, Journey Into Mystery, Superior Foes of Spider-Man are such titles and are refreshing to see standing next to titles like Avengers, Uncanny X-Men and their likes.*

X-Men Legacy
is one such title, even though it does feature the aforementioned X-Men in the title. Who would have thought that a title featuring a character that has never been particularly popular or written in an absolutely memorable fashion would actually get to issue 15 in a cancellation-hungry market. What’s even better is the fact that not only is the character interesting, but so is the actual direction and message of the book. As the title goes on in its showcase of how David wants to help the mutant community in his own way, we are treated to new ideas or new takes on old ideas that gives the mutant corner of the Marvel universe a new angle that is quite fascinating.

As great as the mutant corner is represented, this specific take doesn’t get covered as much as David does, which is actually a very fine diversion from the mutant and psychedelic twists from the previous issues. In this issue, David finally confront his own mother about many of the problems he had in his life when she gave him away to a facility in Muir Island. While it does feature several of the atrocities the mutants had to endure in the earlier years when they emerged, a lot of these issues are put in the background of the issue to focus on the actual matter of the issue: the relationship between David and his mother, as tenuous as it is after he had been abandoned.
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The Wolverine – Movie Review

The Review: In the grand scheme of Marvel movies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was one of the studio’s more ignoble failures, not quite on the queasy level of Daredevil, perhaps, but certainly nowhere on par with the Avengers classics or even the successes of the X-Men series of films.  Poorly conceived and shoddily executed, it fulfilled your worst expectations of a spin-off movie even as it made solid receipts.

The Wolverine is the movie that Origins should have been.  Following naturally off the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, it opens up the future of its protagonist at the same time that it explores his past.  The screenplay smartly draws from one of the more interesting parts of Logan’s life: his history and ties to Japan.  Even better, instead of treading over territory already made familiar by multiple comic book storylines, The Wolverine simply uses Japan as a starting point to deliver a relatively fresh premise with appeal to casual moviegoers and Wolverine fans alike.
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X-Men #1 – Review

X-MEN #1

By: Brian Wood (Writer), Olivier Coipel (Penciler), Mark Morales and Olivier Coipel (Inkers), Laura Martin (Colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

The Review: As the old saying goes the female of the species is more deadly than the male, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to Marvel’s mutant community. While it’s often down to the guys to cause the conflicts and draw the battle lines, it’s usually the girls’ power sets that prove more decisive in a fight. Jean Grey’s daunting telekinesis, Storm’s mastery  of the weather, Emma Frost’s diamond form/psionic powerhouse double-dip…they’re hardly what you’d call a bunch of shrinking violets. Which is perhaps why the X-franchise is best placed to launch a title whose core team is comprised solely of women; there’s so many great, well-established female characters to choose from. The real challenge though was for Brian Wood to make this book about more than just gender politics, to make it great read for either sex by concentrating first on just making it a great comic book. On that front it’s most definitely a case of mission accomplished.
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All New X-Men #11 – Review

ALL-NEW X-MEN #11

By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen (Penciler), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia (Color Artist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer)

Review: The point’s been made by my fellow WCBR brethren that reviewing All New X-Men looks like an unenviable task. And they’re right. Not that it’s a bad comic; quite the opposite, as nearly a year in and I still find it to be one of the strongest all-round titles to come out of the Marvel NOW ‘situation’. Rather it’s the case that a lot of the time each issue feels filled to the brim with lots of great little moments between the many and varied members of its cast. Keeping track of all that over a few hundred words can get difficult, especially if you don’t want to make it look like you’re just transcribing the script wholesale. Woe is me, 1st world problems etc. I can deal. Once more into the breach dear friends…once more!
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All New X-Men #9 – Review

ALL-NEW X-MEN #9

By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen (Penciler), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia & Rain Beredo (Color Artists), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer)

Review: My review of last month’s All New X-Men #8 was pretty awful; too many overly-long sentences and contrived compliments. Still, I blame it all on Bendis. After all, it gets difficult finding new ways to lavish praise on a book that’s still failed to put a foot wrong 8 issues in. Therefore it’s a little bit of a Godsend that #9 offers something of a hiccup. It’s not much of one, granted, but it’ll do.

So let’s get that criticism out of the way first: this issue does feel like something of a placeholder. The only characters whose story sees any concrete progression this month is the villains’, and even then they only appear on 4 of the book’s 20 pages (that’s 20%, stat fans). Irksome, yes, but a minor sin in the grand scheme of comics. I mean, I seem to remember 2009’s Cable series achieve the impressive feat of running for 25 issues without anything of note happening at all.
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All-New X-Men #8 – Review

ALL-NEW X-MEN #8

By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Marquez (Penciler), Marte Gracia (Colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer)

The Review: They should re-name All-New  X-Men the X-Postman – it always delivers (*cue comedic groans*). Every issue features something new and exciting to sling your way; not in some glib show-off manner that seeks to hold your attention with illogical, grandstanding curveballs but in packaging its characters’ motivations and developments in a series of brilliantly executed flourishes. The latest installment is no exception.

Bendis has often made the great decision to begin each issue by focusing on one character at a time, then expanding the book to a crescendo with a winning performance from an ensemble cast. He moves seamlessly from the personal to the public; sound reasoning indeed considering that the X-Men are comprised of such a strong cast that you can’t move for bumping into interesting individuals and the richly detailed relationships that connect them. That format is continued here, though in this issue he chucks in the proverbial kitchen sink too; as you can see from the cover, now the Avengers are getting in on the action as well.
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Ultimate Comics X-Men #23 – Review

ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #22

By: Brian Wood (Writer), Carlo Barberi (Penciller), Don Ho (Inker), Jesus Aburtov (Colorist), VC’s Joe Sabino (Letterer)

The Review: This issue really took me by surprise. Much like Brian Wood  often did with great success during his Vertigo series DMZ, this is a stand-alone tale that breaks  away from the title’s continuing narrative to address an otherwise undocumented   chapter in one character’s life. In this case it deals chiefly with Storm and starts directly after she and Colossus participated in the breakout from Camp Angel (around issues #10 and #11) leading all the way up to just about the present day (around about #19). Just as with DMZ, this change in gear offers its readership the chance to catch a breath from the dense plotting of the ongoing title and for Wood to explore one of his individual cast member’s histories in rich detail and with a tighter focus. It is – for me – easily the best issue of Ultimate Comics X-Men in months.
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Uncanny X-Force #2 – Review

UNCANNY X-FORCE #2

By: Sam Humphries (Writer), Ron Garney (Penciler), Danny Miki with Scott Hanna (Inkers), Marte Gracia with Israel Gonzalez and Wil Quintana (Colorists), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer)

The Review: One of my big comic book regrets of late is that I didn’t pick up Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force. I borrowed the odd issue from friends but didn’t get the big picture, and from what I hear the whole run is an epic Must Read; I’m basically waiting for Marvel to package the whole thing up in an Omnibus edition so I can try and read it all in one massive sitting. Anyway, the point is that as well as missing out on some great storytelling, I also feel that I’ve missed out on some key moments which inform Sam Humphries’ turn on the title.

This feeling was a bit more pronounced with the first issue (lots of vague plot points discussed between Storm and Psylocke and glimpsed in flashback panels) but the sense still lingers here. This, along with the general bluster that dogs the books composition, makes things a little hard to follow. I can’t quite work out whether I like it or not. There’s good and bad, and I’m not sure if any one side really wins out.
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Ultimate Comics X-Men #22 -Review

ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #22

By: Brian Wood & Nathan Edmondson (Writers), Carlo Barberi (Penciler), Juan Vlasco (Inker), Jesus Aburtov (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Lettering)

Review: I dig that whole line of thought that when you’re tasked with reviewing something you should do so in a kind of bubble. You can only really give your personal honest opinion – otherwise you’re just acting as an aggregate for the communal hum of the internets. As such, I make it a rule to only read other reviewers’ critiques on a comic until I’ve submitted my own for publication. This serves me well. Occasionally though, I have to stick my head above the parapets and make sure that I’m not veering wildly off target, blinded by a cantankerous mood swing or unnerved by a total misreading of the material on my own part.

Ultimate Comics X-Men prompts this second-guessing behaviour more than most. I scratch my head and wonder why most other reviewers seem to be almost floored by Wood’s handling of the material, proclaiming the book to be one of, if not the, best X-titles on the stands (Ultimate or otherwise). Either I’ve been missing something entirely these last few months or these guys are all smoking the same blend of off-brand crack.
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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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