All-New X-Men #20

The Original X-Men and Kitty Pryde, now teamed up with Cyclops try to make nice with X-23 (Laura Kinney) who freaks the heck out -partially because the Charles Xavier School is housed in the Weapon X facility but even more so since she almost died in the Arena and then was hunted by a religious mutant-hater cult called the Purifiers.. As Wolverine’s genetic clone, it rightfully gives her the creeps. 

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And this series in particular has a track record of putting things on their covers that have little to do with actual events. X-23, with her long flowing hair making out with young Scott Summers. Oh that did not happen. But X-23’s hair did grow considerably since her last appearance and Scott had a crush for sure. 

KP tries to get X-23 through her recent trauma, while Jeannie pulls a Sookie Stackhouse and allows Laura absolutely no privacy within her own. Professor K knocks her down a notch and says that she can’t be intruding on Laura (or anyone) like that. After a heart to heart with young Cyclops, X-23 decides that she wants to take on the Purifiers  So she tracks them.

William Stryker’s son is holding a meeting, speaking to his fellow zealots. Getting everyone all riled up.

But, it should be noted that Scott Summers + Co. have proved themselves varying degrees of dangerous. And the Original X-Men are breaking the laws of time and space.

The sneak in, KP sabotages the electricity, Jean takes over the Purifiers small minds and then everyone attacks. It goes well and good for our mutant friends until Stryker makes some sonic telekinetic emanation and everyone falls flat.

So he’s one of those self-loathing mutants? 

Hmm…

Unlike in other issues, I very much enjoyed the teenage antics. Fickle Scott Summers, jokes from Angel and Bobby about why someone would want to MAKE Wolverines, Jeannie playing pranks on the Purifiers. 

What I didn’t really understand: It was just KP, X-23 and the young ‘uns. Admittedly, the Purifiers came across as a weak threat and they’re all capable. But no Magik? no Stepford Cuckoos? 

And KP’s orders to follow X-23 but answer to Scott (the young Scott who at the beginning of Battle of the Atom almost died apprehending Animax which threatened current timeline Scott as well) were perplexing. X-23’s role I understood because it was her fight… but putting the inexperienced version of Scott in the leadership role made little sense.

Major cliff hanger. 

Harley Quinn #1

Harley Quinn #0 was so frigging awesome. One might think it would be tough to follow that up… and they’d be right.

Unfortunately the official first issue of Harleen Quinzel’s first book didn’t rock my socks off the way that issue 0 did. 

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Dr. Harley and her little furry friends leave Gotham and their exploded dumpster home behind and head for Brooklyn. She inherits her building as promised… but there is a catch, the tenants- including a Danzig look a like- are behind on their rent, she’ll need to collect and then make half a fortune herself as she tries to pay for the building. So she paints herself up human for a therapist job at a new-agey drug free clinic and joins the roller derby- All the while dodging assassination attempts. 

Newbie Chad Hardin’s art is detailed and suits both Harley and Brooklyn. However it seems as if even on the same page he can’t decide whether he’s going for Harley: playful scamp in a skimpy clown costume or stonecold icequeen sexpot. There’s nothing wrong with big boobs or skimpy clothes, but when facial expressions take the serious and sexy at random intervals and necklines and cupsizes change at random… I’m miffed.

I do have hope for this series yet. Harley is showing off her sensitive and independent side and we’re rooting for her to foil the assassins and their benefactor. Unfortunately, fans got a slow set up with this first issue.

X-Men #8

X-Men #8

The eighth issue of “Brian Wood’s X-Men”/”The All-Girl X-Men” keeps it low on the Y chromosomes with All-Girl enemies! Post- BoTA the in-fighting hits a low for this team as they unite to stop Lady Deathstrike!

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(My HBD tweet from Brian Wood, so huge.)

An intruder alert goes off at the Jean Grey School, the first to respond is Psylocke. It’s Typhoid Mary. She’s grabbed all the medical info on Karima, Shogo and Arkea. 

Mary escapes but Psylocke is on her trail (after getting dressed in the yard, much to Quentin Quire’s pervy amusement). Rachel (who sleeps in her full X-Men uniform) calls John Sublime to tell him the bad news. Except he’s already at the Cortes Compound, home of the new incarnation of Lady Deathstrike. 

Ms. Cortes, ahem… Yuriko is excited about the prospect of injecting Arkea. Treating alien bacteria hellbent on taking over the world/his sister as a body modification just not amuse John Sublime. 

But he believes that the X-Men will stop her (after all, they have stopped him and Arkea before).

Typhoid Mary shows up, believing she’s lost her tail. She’s psyched to learn that the Arkea live sample is a contagion. Lady Deathstrike cracks open the biohazard bag. John Sublime struggles to get the sample from her. When he does, he finds that the sample is inert. He shows off his big brain, telling the villainesses how he would find other samples that could potentially be alive. But he says he won’t. And they can’t kill him because they need the information! Ha ha ha, John Sublime will have the last laugh.

Or not. Typhoid Mary scrambles his brains and gets the info. She takes off with Lady Deathstrike and leaves John drooling on the carpet. Betsy steps in, scoops John up off the floor and they head back to the Jean Grey School. 

The bad girls land in Norway. Enchantress fights them with a stick and gives Typhoid Mary a thrashing. Enchantress has been stuck there 2 months. Thor exiled her and stripped her of her powers. Enchantress saw the meteorite strike nearby, Lady Deathstrike says that if she shows her the meteor that she can make Enchantress more powerful than Odin himself. 

Bling! and Jubilee are having their Degrassi Junior High moment. Bling! points out the hypocrisy of the “inclusive” X-Men before planting a kiss on a somehow surprised Jubilee. 

But Monet struts by and tells Jubilee that they’ve got a mission.

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…That’s not from this issue, it’s a #throwbackthursday to their Generation X days. 

The THREE villainesses find the meteorite and make a pact, a sisterhood, to stand against the X-Men!

This issue was really enjoyable. A ton going on. Jubes is getting all the afterschool special plotlines… isn’t she a vampire?! Jubes, do vampire stuff! On the art front: I’m enjoying Terry Dodson’s take on the girls and since he and Wood go back with Monet, Jubilee and the crew to Generation X I have high hopes for the rest of this story arc!

+ You know we’ve discussed KP Vampire Slayer before- Including how the now Professor K was the inspiration for Buffy Summers. But did you know:

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Circa 2000- Monet St. Croix faces off against Vampire DeLaCorte …completely unrelated to Jubilee being covered in vampire blood in a terrorist attack/being bitten by Xarus, son of Dracula in 2010.

interestingly enough Dodson drew this comic up to this issue and Wood started writing the one right after. 

Red Sonja #6

After the big review in #5 that Bazrat was behind bringing Sonja and Annisia together as combatants, the two women are still in the arena. Bazrat, with a woman at his side, one whose husband was killed by Bazrat; reveals that he spread “the plague” to destroy armies that stood in his way. Worse, he assembled Annisia’s army without her knowledge, so she has killed for him. Again.

Annisia, haunted by those she killed in battle, and now those that she has murdered, loses her already weak grip on reality. She lashes out at Red Sonja. Then at Bazrat. Generals Ayla and Nias corner Annisia’s soldiers and threaten them with flaming arrows.

It happens quickly, alliances made and broken, curses, threats, avenging those long gone and recently deceased.  The last issue of the first story arc ends both in sadness and celebration for Sonja.

Red Sonja gets her vengeance against the one who killed Dimath. Ayla and Nias become full grown bad-asses. Annisia gets some peace. The Taverns get reopened.

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Dar Annisia was certainly a complicated “villain” (I’m using the term loosely). She thought she was doing the right thing, she couldn’t live with what she had done and it drove her crazy. Real crazy. Massive survivors guilty, PTSD. And she was furious with Sonja for being able to move on. But how much has Sonja “moved on”? Sonja drinks too much and can’t stay in one place too long, she has trouble relating to other people. She deals with her past better than Annisia, but that’s all.

The ending of this issue was such a surprise that I don’t even want to explain too much, it’s just better in color.

Certainly a great wrap up for the first story arc. Sonja’s past is behind her now. Enemies vanquished. I wonder what’s up next for our red haired warrior. And I do hope that Nias and Ayla make an appearance again soon.

This came out on my BDay, Gail Simone tweeted HBD to me!

This came out on my BDay, Gail Simone tweeted HBD to me!

Lazarus #5

I said this in my review for #4

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I HATE this cover. Forever is a child with her head so big. Stiff arms + no action + zero background art… OMG WHY?! Forever and her Lazurus crush had blown up, fought their way through armed mercenaries. She just found out that her “family” has been lying to her!

But inside “Lift: Part One” it’s all explained. We are back in time. Forever is a child trying to earn her sword and the title of her family’s protector. Her father visits her and she is forced to fight the adult badass Marisol. Forever loses, she is not fit to wear the sword. 

In the present day: Forever apologizes to a woman whose father she executed… takes a cell phone call while she does it. Forever heads to the Mississippi River. She’s after Jonah. SHe also thinks Jonah beat up Joanna. 

Jonah appears to have crossed the Mississippi River… into Bittner and Hock’s territory. Bitterner and Hock lost land and resources in a real war between the 1% itself. Forever antagonizes the other side and in response gets called, “Sweetheart”, “bitch” and receives a rape threat. The trifecta.

Worse when one of them shoots her in the back. Bittner and Hock’s men execute the offending soldier… the only way to avoid war between families.

A family in Montana begs the regional administrator for protection against the flooding. Their about to lose all they have but their “Government” won’t help them. 

In South Central Los Angeles, the devious Joanna plays nice with Forever while organizing workers to get the water and sewage running. They’ve narrowly averted a Cholera epidemic. Joanna is, presenting herself as doing the right thing. Earning back the trust of their… err… her father. 

That family in Montana… they lose everything.

Forever is no closer to knowing who she is.

Really a sad start… since this is a part one, I will stay excited. Excited to see more of Forever’s past, Joanna’s master plan and if the Carlyle’s who seek to exploit the oppressed will be taken down!

The world created here is monumental… while this issue didn’t thrill me, I’m sure it’s setting up to something rad. The disconnect between Forever and the “waste” population. Between Forever and her own siblings who treat espionage, war and profits as their right. Rival families bitter over not the way humans are treated but how much money and resources they are entitled to.

For those of you not sold on monthly issues, waiting for the trade: there’s always extras, timelines, fan letters, columns by Rucka on weirdly real science.

This month’s was on lab grown brains: which you can read about here:

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37262/title/Lab-Grown-Model-Brains/

Next month- LIFT: part two

 

Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash #4

Yay, this series is back on schedule! This one was originally supposed to be out in October

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subscription cover by Ken Haeser.

Ash and Cassie are on the hunt for more pages from the Necronomicon. Washing off goopy blood in the motel sink they meet up with a friend of Cassies; Cat …who travels with a dog. She’s a government employee and she has another tip. In this area over the past three weeks, four children have gone missing. What’s really weird is that they are all related to Benjamin Blackswell, who lived in Stamford, CT between 1644 and 1701. Witch trials + Necronomicon + strangely high rates of disappearances? yeah, sounds right.

Especially cool? the fact that since that was 300+ years ago: no one would have made that connection. But for Cat, running genealogies is a “hobby” making her meticulous and Sherlockian… and a blonde hottie in a pink sweater who travels with a dog so fierce that Ash mistakes it for a mole horse deadite. …it is actually a demon dog, which Cassie travelled with circa 2011, Bomb Queen versus Hack/Slash era.

The issue begins with a flashback to the past where Sarah Toothaker is saved from certain death (being hanged for being a witch). She’s not a witch, she just denied the advances of the Magistrate and it earned her a spot on the gallows. But somehow she appears in the future, in a pile of bones, with a man who knows her name. Hmmm…

Sarah has some out of wedlock, unheard of in her time, intercourse with this man. The man is the former lead singer for JesusFist. During a tour, they stopped at a flea market and he found one of Sarah’s journals and through her words: he fell in love with her. 

Cassie and Ash get a little tense (Ash was trying to make a lesbian threesome joke. Cassie didn’t approve… because he fetishizes the hell out of her relationship. Not cool.) But to lighten the mood, he teaches her to moon cars. 

Then they see a deadite man-bat.

Peter (from JesusFist) is chaining Sarah to a stake… she’s blindfolded. Ready to hang are the kidnapped children. Peter is feeding them to the deadite. Paying a tithe for bringing Sarah back. Sarah is outraged and disgusted. Their heritage, being descendants of Blackswell is not their fault. As the deadite is about to get his meal… Cassie arrives.

She blows off the deadite’s head, makes some threats and then Ash falls in a hole full of deadites that try to drag him to hell.. oh. boy. The deadites, not satisfied without their four soul meal..

Then Sarah starts to go deadite. The souls were an exchange for hers. Peter cries that Sarah was born in the wrong time. Sarah says she would rather die. Peter waffles… and so Ash takes matters into his own hands, behinding the 17th century maiden.

Cassie looks remorsefully at the brokenhearted Peter. He’d tried to find a better way, but that was the only spell that they would sell him. 

Cassie and Ash drop the five children (still with their heads covered at a near by Qwik Stop. The boys are pretty unfazed. Cassie tells them that no one will believe the demon stuff, that they should say it was drug dealers or terrorists. 

Then… Cassie Hack and Ash make out!? Ash protests “What about your girlfriend? You guys got that cute little kid–“

Elsewhere- The redhaired cult leader is getting it on when the book calls to her. The necronomicon tells her that “A new history begins”

The villain and victim in this issue was awesome. Peter fell in love with Sarah for her mind, through her words. …goofily, because her “poetry” was “so metal” 

But Cassie and Ash making out? I hope there is some angle. After repeatedly having her same-sex relationship fetishized by the pervy and being highly offended by it… them hooking up… is nonsense. Honestly, the whole idea of it is so bullshit. I would rather they go the “friends forever” route instead of …whatever is happening. If they become love interests… I’m going to be mad! And everyone should be. It’s been hinted at that Cassie is bi -and that’s all good and fine, but Ash making “jokes” about her sexuality and making out with her while she’s unconscious… he deserves a knuckle sandwich, not kisses. Please please please… move away from this. It’s inappropriate and degrading to have Cassie’s committed homosexual relationship presented as temporary and fleeting for laughs for horror fans. STAHP

Legends of Red Sonja #2

The Grey Riders are still hunting down Red Sonja, ready to exact their revenge for her doings against them. 

Meljean Brook’s “The Undefeated” was my favorite of the two tall tales. Told to the Grey Riders hunting Sonja through the eyes of The Beheader, a fierce warrior; Red’s armor gets even skimpier. He says that her prowess in inflated, that the stories take on a life of their own. A drunken wager between The Beheader and Red Sonja lead them on a quest to pry a ruby from the jaws of an elephant beast. The Beheader paints her as a coward who hides behind men. The ruby around his neck proves he won the wager, right? Maybe Red Sonja isn’t as fierce as lore makes her… uh huh..

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In Tamora Pierce’s story, the Grey Riders are greeted by a child whose family has recently employed Sonja to protect her mother, a Goddess. Cassandra James’ art here was rather weird. Belly buttons in odd places, Sonja’s face crooked. It didn’t have the swagger of the first story. Interestingly, Red’s tale by Tamora Pierce is told through the eyes of a young girl, since Pierce is well known for the Young Adult series the Beka Cooper trilogy and Song of the Lioness featuring young female protags, it certainly added another dimension. 

Through out all this, Sonja is lurking in the shadows, making sure the Grey Riders are drawn off course. 

Next Month: January 22nd: Rhianna Pratchett, author of the Lara Croft video game origin story entertains us with a “legend” along with writer of Sherlock Holmes/Damsels/Raise the Dead Dynamite comics superstar Leah Moore. Nichola Scott, who worked with Gail Simone on Birds of Prey makes some art.