Uncanny X-Men #21

There’s so much that’s immediately good about this issue. Cyclops isn’t in control of his powers and he’s attacking the Jean Grey School, Magik tries to mitigate and turns into a demonfaced monster raiser. Storm keeps collected.

And fans are treated to a full page spread of Storm showcasing her badass powers. Stellar.

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Then Dazzler (not really Dazzler, really Mystique) shows up to collect Cyclops. 

In Madripoor: the Blob fiends for mutant growth hormone (that they are harvesting from the real Dazzler). Magneto finds him and sees what has been done to Dazzler. Magneto almost scalpels the Blobs face off, but he relents, remembering long past events he lets the Blob run off and he tends to Dazzler.

The phony Dazzler is pushing the X-Men to hand over Scott Summers to SHIELD. It’s Maria Hill who tells Beast that he has an hour to straighten out what has gone wrong with Cyclops. The helicarrier is poised to attack as back up… but it suddenly starts firing. Beast takes Cyclops and Magik to his lab in hope to find what is seeking to destroy them. Quentin Quire (who I have some affection for because he reminds me of my gawky and grungy punkrock nerd boy high school friends) grabs Maria Hill by the head and asks her what’s up. 

And at the end of the issue: Beast has found who is behind the attacks, but it isn’t revealed to the reader. The villain is hidden in a spacesuit.

Chris Bachalo’s art is a little weird, there’s 4 inkers which I think adds to the weirdness. Hank McCoy looks more bizarre than usual. The facial expressions are on point, the action scenes are legit: easy to follow but very detailed. Cyclops shut the heck up this issue. That’s weird. The focus was mainly on the action (with one brief emo hiatus to see Emma Frost pensively fretting for Scott Summers).

Predictions for next issue: Who is in the spacesuit?

All-New X-Men #27

Now this one’s interesting. Bendis kill me because #26 was focussed on drama, feelings, the shattered team dynamics. This one? Not so much. Non-stop action and revelations. 

The Charles Xavier from the future Brotherhood? Mystique’s child with Charles Xavier. I still don’t know exactly how that works.. And Raze is his half brother, the child of Mystique and Wolverine. Raze had been parading as his mother long after she had died. Weird. Raze has also shifted into the form of X-23 and infiltrated the New Xavier School. It happens fast, one of the Cuckoos, Mindee, is under future Jean/Xorna’s control. Future Cyclops delays the Brotherhood with a giant laserbeam. 

Kitty, Beast, Angel, Magik, Eva, Iceman and Christopher are all fighting Raze (who’s bringing the mindfuck) while being psychicly tortured by Xorna and CX. Young Jean, Emma Frost and Cyclops are trying to get over to the others without being tracked. 

Young Jean: “We should call for help.”

Emma Frost: “We would but everybody hates us.”

The Future Brotherhood’s heavy hitters infiltrate Young Jean’s psychic shield and Emma knocks her out. Cyclops is not pleased.

In the final panel we see Xavier confronting Young Jean, saying that he knows now that she’s the biggest threat and she’ll be dealt with first.

BotA is STILL wreaking havoc.Bendis is still killing me with his weird acing and cliffhangers. I love it. Stuart Immonen is a great artist. In the past some of the fight scenes have been convoluted, but this issue was amazing. Even with the shapeshifting villain it was easy to keep up with.

All-New X-Men #26

OOoooh Young Jean Grey showcasing her brand new psionic powers on the front cover.

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That doesn’t happen in the story. Jean Grey is having nightmares of levelling the X-Men with devastating ferocity. She wakes up screaming and is comforted by Scott. Not the young Scott: he’s in space now. But Cyclops: “Old Cyclops” or “Present Day Cyclops” or “the Cyclops that’s supposed to be here.” The two have been thoroughly ignoring each other. Because it’s weird. It’s really weird. The way he looks at her is almost paternal, but they still talk like old friends when he confesses that he’s jealous of all the time that Young Cyclops is spending with his space pirate dad. But Jeannie ramps up the icky with the line, “You’re so much older. I think that’s why I like you more than younger Scott. It’s like instead of hoping you’d grow up to become this man. You’re here. The man I hoped you’d be.” Cyclops puts the kibosh on that, he tells her they can NEVER. And then he tells her she’ll be training with Emma Frost to help stay in control of her new powers. Emma Frost is also his ex, she has a mountain of a grudge against Jean Grey… and yeah, this is going to get weird. “Well.. why should this be different than everything else?” 

Kitty stops by and eavesdrops, she notes that he handled it well but reminds him that being alone in her room is not appropriate. She earns a “Yes, ma’am.” While an apprehensive and lonely Jeannie still can’t sleep.

Angel, out for a morning fly sees Laura leaving school. He tries to stop her, she yells at a bear. No one knew she had feelings for Scott, but she doesn’t open up for just anyone. And Angel, physically incapable of knocking her out and dragging her back heads back for reinforcements. X-23 finds herself being followed… by young Scott. Who stabs her. Holy WTF it’s Mystique (who has been terrorizing Amazing X-Men, posing as Dazzler while draining her of her mutant growth hormone). 

Angel, back at the school riles up KP, who is all “No way, we can’t lose Laura,” while Bobby says “Who’s Laura?” and Angel says “Literally the only girl we know who’s not Jean Grey.” 

They find Laura, worse for the wear and she stammers out that it was a shapeshifter, not only that, the shapeshifter has been interloping for sometime now. And she knows Laura’s personal shit. That’s not going to go over well. But while they are distracted, Molly, Deadpool, Xorna, future Beast are marching in. The Future Brotherhood is back!?

Bendis and his dialogue always floors me, it’s perfect. His writing really helps you get in the mindset of the characters. Little things, like Cyclops saying he worries about Hank not being able to undo his mistake (and now with the Brotherhood back, I wonder if he’s to blame), Iceman being so young/clueless/self absorbed that he’s been calling Laura “Wolverine Clone.” Kitty is being written as a full grown woman with good decision making skills again, which is nice. That lapsed for a bit. Stuart Immonen is just wonderful, pensive facial expressions abound. The first page where Jean Grey envisions herself as the Phoenix is majestic.Backgrounds disappear as KP flies into a rage.

Hey: I just realized that Mystique stole X-23’s backpack! What’s up with that. 

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! Reviews

Teen Titans GO! #1 (DC Nation Super Sampler)

I loved the cartoon but never read the books. They’re just so super adorable that I couldn’t resist. Artist Ben Bates keeps the cooky, spunky bunch looking snazzy while writer Sholly Fisch puts them in far fetched roommate/BFFL situations involving demonic pizza, high stakes minigolf wagers and Raven manipulating a claw machine to achieve the ultimate prize!

All ages comics typically aren’t my thing. But the dynamics of Teen Titans, from the unlikely friendship between perky alien Starfire and underworld spooky girl Raven to Robin’s rivalry with Speedy I just dig it.

The New 52! FUTURES END #0

Central City 35 years from now: The supes are being “assimilated” into robot bugs. (Grown adults came up with this?) Captain Cold and the Flash are buddies, guess things changed after Forever Evil. “Frankenstein” (the monster) has Canary’s head sewn into his chest and he uses her to take out the Flash. This is all orchestrated by Brother Eye and old man Bruce Wayne convinces Terry (Batman Beyond) to go back in time and kill him. But Batman doesn’t kill people. Moral crisis. And Terry doesn’t quite make it to the right place. So we have a rogue Batman who is time displaced on a murder plot. It could actually be interesting. But, it could also be a hot mess. All new WEEKLY that will forever alter the direction of the New 52. Issue #1 is out May 7th. 

I don’t know if I know about enough of the characters. Forever Evil and the cancellation of The Movement is leaving me burned on DC. Maybe. Maybe I’ll try.

Street Fighter #0

A sampler of 3 stories. “Hong Kong Hustle” by Jim Zub, art by Hanzo Steinbach. The art is amazing, bright and large. Did I mention this book is huge? No? It’s huge. A new student of Ken’s is waiting when passerby’s start catcalling a woman on the street. The woman says not to trouble himself, but he says that he has to do what’s right: defending women against street harassment. The coolest. But the woman turns out to be none other than the Strongest Woman in the World. “Your Enemies Closer” gets harder lines and a completely opposite style courtesy of Takeshi Miyazawa. Ken Siu-Chong pens a tale of revenge. “This hammer was too good at smashing things to be locked away in a toolbox just because it had lost it’s nail.” But Juri might just get her chance after all. “Beyond the Hills” is the origin story of Akuma, which takes us into an underground fight club. The story by Chris Sarracini is darker and grittier and art and colors by Joe Ng/Rob Armstrong/Espen Grundetjern suit the mood effectively, but it was my least favorite of the 3.

Guardians of the Galaxy 

3 ministories: BMB wrote the first one. I dig it. Carol Danvers is there. That’s even better. The cover is a bit uninspiring. Tony Stark is discussing sending Corporal Thompson “off planet” (the dialogue is wonderful here) and Stark gives a quick run down of the soon to be cinematic team. The Guardians are surprised when Thompson is in a wheelchair, but more so when he transforms into Agent Venom.  Thanos: the Infinity Revelation previews a coming series. Then we get Spider-Man: Staging Ground by Dan Slott has Spider-man performing Shakespeare. Weird. Heyyyy Carol Danvers wasn’t in any of those stories. 

What did you pick up for #FCBD? 

All-New X-Men #25

“Monumental 25th issue featuring the greatest artist roster ever assembled.”

At the Jean Grey School we see present day Beast lying awake, riddled with anxiety, his head heavy while he thinks of what a mess he has made bringing back the original X-Men. There’s a man standing over him. He tells Beast that the consequences of his actions are infinite. And through interpretations of different artists we see these possibilities that have been destroyed. The first being Bruce Timm drawing Jean Grey. Jean Grey, who has been heaped with tragedy and catastrophe has recently gotten a bad ass powerset in Guardians of the Galaxy #13, and we see that, but on the next page we have another version of Jean Grey the Jean that this Jean will become, the one in the Brotherhood who bends men to her will. Arthur Adams/Justin Ponsor’s hard a desolate interpretation with crumbling cities and a throne of bent and twisted men directly contrasts with Bruce Timm/Laura Martin’s peppy and fresh bright and uncluttered view of young Jean. While not necessarily my favorite art of the issue the juxtaposition was in my opinion the most well done.  

David Mack’s Cyclops page was also masterful. On this page we see Cyclops displayed like Jesus on the cross (but it’s an X) in front of protesting masses while words describe how he is abandoned and mocked. It’s all water colors and is amazing.

Scottie Young/Jason Keith’s Iceman turns into ice-monsters rampaging out of control. There was a touch of this in BotA where Iceman confronts his future self as a soul less snow monster (who turns out to be future Jean Grey’s puppet) and then as a snow wizard. While the narration says that Iceman will be destroyed from within, this seems to be a fully outside interpretation. Iceman doesn’t seem that perturbed in the series currently.

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It kind of goes on from there showing how monstrous they’re all becoming. That Beast will lose more of his humanity (something about dinosaurs, admittedly, I didn’t get it. I don’t know who was on Kent Williams’s page. The Colossus page was unremarkable). Beast sits up in bed with his head in his hands and pleads to be shown “the good.”  

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JG Jones gives us an image of the whole X-Men line up being treated as celebrities. Beast looks like Ghandi, while light reflects off of them instead of shadows, it’s really unique. The X-Men are photographed by fans with signs that say THANX Everyone is happy and playful. Magneto even looks pleased. 

Ronnie Del Carmen’s image looks like a cross between a vintage Charlie’s Angel’s themed pinup catalogue and a children’s picture book about summer vacation. Which makes sense, since he’s been a storyboard artist on Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up. He draws some X-Ladies having summer fun and beheading monsters on motorcycles. I really don’t get it, but it looks GREAT.

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J Scott Campbell/Nei Ruffino have Psylocke, Storm and Nightcrawler in more modern and conventionally stylized fashion in outer space for exploration.

Maris Wicks gets a few pages to tell a story of an ill timed love story featuring Kitty Pryde and Colossus. Hyper cartoony tale of bad timing. Highlights include KP wearing a shirt that says “I’m not Daredevil” and having Nightcrawler’s baby.Jason Shiga keeps up with the cartoony and tells a tale of Scott + Logan BFFs FORVER! With a senile Cyclops and still aggro Logan eating spaghettios. And the less serious fashion continues in Dan Hipp’s pages where Jean and Logan fight like the old married couple that they are. Jean’s a couch potato who barely looks away from her laptop when he comes in bleeding. The squabble over him forgetting to pick up hot pockets. I didn’t love it, but the “I can still read your mind” jokes were funny. 

There’s more about who will bloom and find purpose and then Beast is confronted with the reality that these roads will never be taken because of his actions. Beast pleads, “Then help me. Help me put it back. Help me.”

“I am the Watcher. I do not act.”

And Beast tries to convince himself that it’s not too ay, and the page ends with him as restless as ever.

It was a really great issue, The tension that Beast is enduring is very intense and conveyed really well, angst is Brian michael Bendis’s main jam. It was really amazing to see where the artists all took their page/s along with the story. Some stood out more, which is debatable. But “Greatest Artist Roster” ever? They’re going to have to arm wrestle Harley Quinn #0 for that one. A great issue… i don’t know if the sidenote was worth it. Don’t hate me. But Scott’s in space, Jean Grey AND X-23 are missing him, the plotlines for KP and friends are all wrapped up and in need of a new adventure. And apparently that adventure will be Beast continuing to find a way to send everyone back again, even though that has turned more X-Men against each other. It doesn’t make sense it just makes angst. But… it was good, too. I’m on the fence.

Agents of SHIELD- episode 16

The most intense episode YET. Last week, Maurissa Tancharoen addressed fans’ unrealistic expectations for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, saying “People were expecting to see a Marvel movie every week.” And, as pointed out on the Mary Sue, that may be valid.. and may be dismissive and insulting but either way, this week fans got a Marvel movie. Surprise twists were a minute by minute occurrence.

Deathlok busts in to Bill Paxton/Agent Garrett and BJ Britt/Agent Triplett’s dwelling.. then, once being met with more firepower than he was ready for: busts out, through the ceiling. Coulson calls a gaggle of senior SHIELD agents together. Including Agent Hand and Agent Blake. They think that the Clairvoyant is a former SHIELD Agent who was dismissed. All hands on deck.. even (Brian Michael Bendis created character) Hand. Meanwhile, FitzSimmons are trying to figure what healed Skye so fast. (Bill Paxton also makes inquiries more subtly later.) They make Skye’s an agent, a Level 1 agent as Hand points out. Ward sneaks coy looks at her while everyone says their congratulations.

Skye designs how they are going to find the agents that made the shortlist of who could be the Clairvoyant without giving away enough info to any one agent that they could use to tip off the Clairvoyant.

Agent Blake gets choked by Deathlok as May arrives. Blake fired 6 shots into him. 5 bullets and one tracker. Blake ends up in critical condition. Paxton keeps calling Agent Hand “Vic” and she gets pissed, she blames Coulson for not sharing how dangerous Deathlok was and getting them into an unknown situation. Hand is a control freak and this was very in character. But the rest of them get back to tracking Deathlok in hopes of finding the Clairvoyant. Except Gemma and Triplett who head for the Hub (where Gemma plans to covertly analyze Skye’s blood sample in their cushier lab and with Triplett! *squee* I actually dig Fitz, I think he takes a lot of unnecessary crap from Ward -who is about to get LESS boring- and I like the quirky underdog academic thing. But I would ship Trimmons. Maybe I just want the brainy chick to get a love triangle…)

Anyway, they bust out their big guns and their shiny toys and find Deathlok. Fitz gets and X-Ray and the tech is all under his skin like Cyborg on Smallville. Which I’m sure made nerds on the internet and their cries of “He doesn’t look like Deathlok! You didn’t read the comics! What are they doing!” cease for ten frigging seconds. I love so much nerd shit, but some of y’alls give me a headache above my right eye. They chase him around, the action is awesome, Deathlok jumps down 6 flights of stairs to escape Melinda May, and Deathlok leads Coulson and Garrett to the Clairvoyant. Or at least.. a disabled man in a wheelchair who is unable to speak in a room full of computers who is taunting Coulson, saying he watched him watch Skye bleed in his arms knowing it was his fault. But Skye has something he wants.. and she’ll die for it.

And Ward shoots him.

Goody frigging two-shoes shoots a disabled man in cold blood. And Coulson doesn’t think he was the Clairvoyant. He didn’t talk, the computers spoke for him. Skye finds that the Clairvoyant has only known things that were in the agents’ files. Stuff from psych evals. Like, he didn’t know that Coulson died because Fury never allowed that in the file.

So Coulson confronts Ward “I don’t want your apologies, I don’t want your excuses, did someone order you to kill the Clairvoyant?!” (And I wouldn’t have considered that, but Agent Triplett talked about killing the Clairvoyant for his ax to grind earlier in the ep, I thought maybe he implanted the idea)

The next twist is seconds later as Fitz attempts to contact Simmons and finds that May has a secret line (the one she’s been using to give someone updates about Coulson) he gets spooked when May comes in and he tells Skye, who tells him to cut it. He does AND MAY FOLLOWS HIM WITH A GUN. But Skye finds Coulson and they pursue May (who I think COULD have shot both of them). The gun is just an icer, but Coulson says he’ll shoot her and does the “Who do you work for?!” bit again. He yells at her about the Clairvoyant and she is baffled. But she can’t talk about it here. Then the plane gets hijacked.

By Hand.

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And with episode I am glad that I was liking this show while others were hating. Skye got stuff to do. Coulson got appropriately paranoid, FitzSimmons didn’t follow orders like good little lab geeks, there was a kick ass villain, a billion genuine anxiety producing plot twists and they rectified the biggest social justice fail on the show. With a competent black agent (who might possibly be a love interest *fingerscrossed*). Because up until this point, black people have been villains and victims. That shit is not inclusion, think about it if you haven’t. If you really need that explained to you, leave a comment I will help you. Because you might need it.

BJ Britt is kind of awesome. I need more of him. J. August Richards is doing a fucking awesome job. The Clairvoyant said he cut Deathlok’s feed so I’m wondering where that will lead in upcoming episodes. Is he still going to be pissed at SHIELD and supes for getting him into this? Will he see his son? Will he Go after the Clairvoyant and team back up with Coulson? Possibilities.

Greatest episode ever.

Guardians of the Galaxy #13

The Trial of Jean Grey: part 6 of 6

Jean Grey comes to the conclusion that she will not be able to stop the Phoenix ..but neither will anyone else. She didn’t ask for thisshe was just the host, no one else could stop it and yet she is the only one on trial. But this Jean Grey is not the same as her past/future self. And she develops a wholly different power set. Psionic powers. She redirects everyone’s psychic energy back at them. A fight ensues between Jean Grey and Gladiator while the X-Men, Guardians and Starjammers handle the Imperial Guard. Oracle talks Jeannie through it and ends the fight before any casualties occur. Oracle then tells Gladiator that THIS Jean Grey is different and this time won’t be the same. Cyclops issues badass threats to Gladiator that the fight is over and tells him if he goes anywhere near planet earth again “I will bring a hellstorm of asgardians, mutants, atlanteans and hulk monsters right down on top of you!” It’s bad ass.

And, as most who keep up with comic book news already knew.. Scott announces that he’s leaving for space with his father (Christopher Summers, leader of Starjammers). Greg Rucka is penning that series, I’m definitely going tobe reading. Anyway, Scott tells Jean that maybe this way they can be happy. Everyone is stunned. He doesn’t say a word to Laura. I’m furious. X-23 deserved a few words. They didn’t have a relationship but she let him in in a way that was very vulnerable for her. And it’s obnoxious  to me that she was left hanging. (Hopefully that’s not really it for them. X-23 teams up with Angela and Gamora for space adventures, anyone? Please Please).

KP and Peter flirting was the freaking cutest. “Listen, I’ve travelled the galaxy up and down and met a total of maybe 7 cool people. You seem very cool.” 

There are funny moments. This was a very good finish to the crossover. Great way for newer comic readers to get accustomed to the Guardians (and the Starjammers). Bendis was teasing us with a possible X-23 young Cyclops hook up, but created a wholly original path for THIS Jean Grey. Sara Pichelli’s art is gorgeous, I was totally digging the reactions/expressions and representation of Jean’s new powers. Her art has been compared to Immonen’s and I think Pichelli’s is better: the fight scenes were much more comprehensible.