X-Men #14

Part 2/6 of Bloodline. 

Rachel and Monet are chasing down the shooter that seriously injured two students at the Jean Grey school. Monet shows no mercy after the culprit tries to take out bystanders in a trainstation and then suicide, Monet and Rachel go full force at him with disregard to who is watching. 

Back at the school Storm tries to get answers from her future daughter Kymera while Jubilee does what ever she can to teach her infant son to protect himself. “Come on Shogo, push the beep beep.” And Psylocke locks the school down. “Anyone breaches this school. I’ll hear it in my brains.” 

Storm officially made them a team and chooses that they will take a silent vote for leader, no judgements (half of them can read minds… that’s not really going to work). Suddenly there is an explosion in the east wing. The shooter is escaping (because it was a really bad time for a team meeting) the room is burning and the fire suppression has been disabled. Monet and Rachel decide that they’re going to take the guy apart. He’s about to say “You can’t stop the Future” when Kymera comes out of nowhere with her panther and lays the smack down. But she sees a timer on his head counting down. She retreats, a hawk delivers Shogo to her, she calls for her mom then the man explodes and Kymera is sent tumbling (Shogo pushes the beep-beep). 

Outside: Menacing characters plan to attack them again at dawn.

BromoSuperior

with art by Phil Briones. Hellion and co are stuck in Psylocke’s danger room program. This side story isn’t really grabbing me. But Briones’s version of Psylocke is perfect.

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?

Captain Marvel #3

Tic, in Carol’s ship (with her cat) comes back to attack The Guardians (especially Quill to get back at the king of Spartax). The action takes a turn for the funny. Carol and Peter play off each other well, DeConnick paints them with the same sense of humor and it works really well. David Lopez is perfect for this, the way he displays Carol, Tic and Quill’s expressions is perfect.

After Carol decides to take Tic back to Torfa the Guardians go back to whatever they were doing. And Carol tries her hand at diplomacy. It doesn’t go smoothly. She’s aligned with the Galactic Alliance who have been moving these aliens from planet to planet, exposing them to toxins and are attempting to split up families. (Also, turns out Tic was looking for Secret Avenger Spider-Woman who recently got her first taste of outer space in Secret Avengers #2). Then we get serious. 

The people on Torfa are not amused. A white woman with good intentions but no understanding of the complex situation which she seeks to address: who has words rather than actions, thoughts rather than resources, who brings the lower level thinking “Why don’t they just leave there then?”  Perfect. Please read this article written by someone about the privilege and hypocrisy of “voluntourism” because it’s really a smart (and hard to hear) realisation that good intentions aren’t helpful, if people need resources they need resources, they don’t need a bunch of people “helping” (re: exploiting to make themselves feel/look influential and worldly) who have limited knowledge and insight. 

Eleanides drops the knowledge. They are not idiots, they’re looking for a cure. If Carol’s not there to help take care of the sick or find the source of the poison or protect them from the Galactic Alliance… she’s not their champion then, she’s a self righteous white woman unaware of her own privilege. And a comic book explains something beautifully that so many people do not even attempt to understand.

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Lopez’s cover is phenom. All of these covers so far have been really simplistic but BOLD. Loving the strictly Captain Marvel golden yellow, red and blue. Primary colors FTW. 

Secret Avengers #3

Awesome week for Marvel titles and I still grabbed for this one first.

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Look at the cover! Tradd Moore and Matthew Wilson created this magnificently detailed cover, Widow looks pissed wiping a bloodied nose, Spider-Woman is frantically disarming a bomb and Coulson appears to be in real trouble while still looking hilarious, which is just perfect.

Maria Hill Micromanages the Secret Avengers. Phil Coulson Blows up space stations. Nick Fury has one eye. Black Widow Played by Scarlett Johansson, except when she’s not. Spider-Woman New to the secret team ops thing. Hawkeye Eats about 4 protein bars a day.

Black Widow, Spider-Woman and Coulson are sent to the island Sokotra to neutralize a failed poet with a nuclear device. While they are there, Spider-woman and Widow find themselves against Derrida’s soldiers while Coulson is cowering. Natasha thinks he’s having a PTSD thing. She lets Jessica handle the bad guy while she goes to protect Phil.

Those menacing eyes at the top of the cover? They belong to Lady Bullseye. And she’s gunning for Widow.

Meanwhile the space bomb starts talking to Jessica and tells her that it is going to commit suicide. The bomb’s chosen name is Vladimir. Spider-Woman talks him out of suicide by offering caramel gelato. 

Coulson overcomes his anxiety and jumps in a Jeep, runs over Lady Bullseye. “I just killed Lady Bullseye? Oh my. I’m on a roll.”

I really enjoy this series so far. Consistently fun, quirky and badass. They pull villains and settings from all corners of the Marvel Universe. And Spider-Woman got to kick ass AND use quick thinking and more stereotypically girly means of problem solving. Michael Walsh’s art is kick ass, somewhere in between more classic styles and more modern, some panels switch color schemes (colors by Matthew Wilson) or go with blank backgrounds or silhouettes, it creates momentum and excitement and is well matched to Ales Kot’s quirky writing style.

I will note that Nick Fury and Phil Coulson look like their film counterparts, but the others do not. Including Black Widow, even though they name dropped ScarJo.

The end pages have Fury and Hawkeye going after The Fury who is lost in space.

Agents of SHIELD- Season Finale

May grabs the Berserker staff and get herself, Coulson, Tripp and Skye away from Centipede soldiers. Elsewhere, Garrett is in good health, but Ian Quinn is not amused that they have no more “miracle drug”

FitzSimmons are at the bottom of the ocean. “I broke my arm in the same 2 places I did in second grade.” Simmons has been out cold. Fitz has done the math, no one is looking for them, they’re sinking and low on supplies. There is no way out. …According to Fitz, but there is a way out, it involves glass and ethanol and a defibrillator. Gemma figures it out. The Fitz tries to give her the only remaining air and confesses his love to her. She drags him to the water’s surface where they are saved by Nick Fury! (Turns out the antenna that Fitz had rigged alerted Fury who was looking for Coulson. So while Fitz was being irrational and pessimistic and assuming that he was the only one who could save them, Gemma did have an idea of her own and someone was looking for them. The exchange goes, Gemma: “They told us you were dead.” Fury: “Good I want that to get around.”

Skye and May break in to Cybertek some they can lead Coulson to Garrett, find Mike Peterson’s son and lure Ward out. They do of course and the ensuing fight scenes are amazing. Melinda chased Ward around with a table saw and a nail gun, they tossed each other through plaster walls. She wins.

Skye finds Mike’s son and hacks into Deathlok’s eyeball direction giver thingy (I don’t know what to call it). And Deathlok turns on Garrett knowing that his son is now safe. Garrett who had just been showing off his new strength while fighting Coulson and Fury (which was a wealth of badassery and wonderfully delivered Sam Jackson lines, “Don’t call me sir, I’m dressed like I live under a bridge.”) gets easily handled by Deathlok. (Sort of, Garrett’s down then gets back up- who left him near the tech?! when Coulson comes around the corner with a blaster. It was freaking hilarious)

Then they all tell Ward off. Then they reconnect with Simmons, Fitz is in critical condition and he “might never be the same”. Fury asks Phil to rebuild SHIELD, right after Phil confronts him about TAHITI, “This was in case of emergency break glass sort of thing” “Yeah, like the death of an Avenger.” “That was the death of an Avenger.” And Phil’s face lights up. It’s cute. Patton Oswald comes back (though as Billy Koeing instead of Eric)

Deathlok becomes a hero on the redemption train. 

And then Raina goes to see Skye’s… father, I’m assuming, could be mother. Something with blood dripping from it’s hand.

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I like Raina, she went from random woman with a gimmicky wardrobe to a true believer with an insatiable curiosity about evolution… she thinks Skye is the next step. And next season the team (now with Tripplett) is set to seek out and batter Hydra. Cool. Ward could still bust out and be a villain, I don’t think anyone will actually forgive him. I hope. They’d better not.

So everything rounds itself out but we’re still ready to roll for more, Season 2: this fall!

With Ward out and Fitz possibly disabled, Coulsons team is now 1 white woman, 1 woman, 1 mixed race woman and 1 black man. And possibly a differently abled Fitz. Never mind regularly appearing side characters who are PoC and decidedly not evil. Well that’s inclusive. Hearts and flowers for Marvel. 

The finale certainly lived up to anything I could have expected. High hopes for next season.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #4

This series gives no french toast about telling the story consequetively: So we begin with Sigurd (the ever glorious) climbing a mountain to see Kaluu (Master of Black Magic). And He has Gram! The hero’s blade! But Loki is supposed to have that!

In the recent past, Loki is having dinner (baked salmon with lemon) with Verity Willis. Verity is one of my favorite new characters: a human lie detector. She’s a human. She can detect lies from gods, too. Which is how she sees Sigurd who has turned himself invisible with a Lightbender Invisibility Belt stolen from AIM. Sigurd is busting in to steal Gram. Duh. Once he’s busted, Sigurd tries to talk his way out it. But it turn out that the All-Mother has assigned Loki to have Sigurd returned to Asgard. The All-Mother is still displeased that Loki let Lorelei escape and they tell him that either Sigurd is returned or Loki himself will be. 

Sigurd and Loki duel and Sigurd is victorious. Duh. 

Back on the mountain: Kajuu is impressed, and when Sigurd requests that he be put onto the wheel of incarnation, so that when he dies he can be reborn instead of being tortured by Valkyries in Valhalla (a plotline that goes back to New Mutants #43 about 4 years ago). Kajuu agrees to help Sigurd with the sacrilegious deed and he gets Sigurd to sign it in blood.

It’s not Kajuu, it’s Mephisto. And he’s set to damn Sigurd to the torture pits. Only Loki’s gotten there first (and tripled up on invisibility cloaks) and switched the contract: he sends Sigurd back to Asgard and Mephisto back to Hell. Parting words from Mephisto, “It’s what I’d expect from the young punk. Not from you.” He knows that “kid Loki” is gone, and inside is his old pal.

Loki is getting anxious, not about Mephisto finding him out, but about the All-Mother locking up Asgardians for roaming free on Midgard, “In other words, today it’s him… tomorrow it’s one of us.” He asks Verity, Lorelei and Thor to help him on his mission.

“You don’t bring a sword to a Loki fight” is the name of the next issue. I wonder if Loki will come into contact with his alternate self that’s roaming about. But it’s still early in the series yet.

For Asgardia’s finest: Y.A.L.A. (you always live again) 

Not for Sigurd this time, but it’s working for Loki… thus far.

Lee Garbett’s art is well suited, fight scenes are crisp and the look matches the feel of the writing excellently. Something I don’t often acknowledge? The Lettering. Asgardian’s get their old school fancy font, Mephisto gets an odd one, scrolls appear here and there to announce random facts or times. It’s just good. It’s just so good. I have so much love for this series.

She-Hulk #4

She-Hulk is upset about the way her case went. She successfully argued that Von Doom’s son Kristoff should be granted asylum from Latveria only to have Von Doom swoop in (literally) and kidnap Kristoff. And to top it off, they were paid in Latverian francs which the bank considered “conflict currency” and confiscated it. No closer to being able to make the lease, Jen can’t decide if she should get back to work or confront Victor Von Doom. 

To help her choose, she asks fellow lawyer/superhero Daredevil.
They talk shop and then go on some superhero adventures. 

I know many people are not into Pulido’s art (and I get it, it’s kitchy), but it suits the series impeccably. This spread was outstanding:

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Let’s just face it.

She-Hulk does decide to head for Latveria, but instead of solving her problem with her big green fists she talks it out with Victor Von Doom and convinces him that he’s not raising his son as a leader, he’s raising him to bow down. Then she heads back to her office to recap with her assistant and investigator. She uncovers a case where She-Hulk herself is the defendant- along with a slew of other supes in a suit brought on by George Saywitz. 

I don’t know who that is. Or who Rufus Randall is. Just being honest before I research.