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.

Image

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?

Secret Avengers #2

Best Buddies Coulson and Fury are drifting through space. Widow, Spider-Woman and Hawkeye are on their way to save their butts. There’s a lot of bickering. Spider-Woman is not ready for space. “But we’re in a car and we’re flying to space and cars don’t fly in space unless they are miracle cars and is this a miracle car we clearly need a –” “No. we don’t need a miracle. All we need is will… imagination.. …a dependable team of scientists. ..and a big red button.”

Back on Helicarrier Iliad, where Maria Hill has taken a bullet to the hand and is being held hostage by the Latverian assassin who has just told her that his parents died because of SHIELD’s actions. Collateral murder. She’s defenseless. Meanwhile, MODOK is watching SHIELD satellites fall from the sky. Another scientist (with an exposed brain) asks MODOK what they should do about the more pressing and nearby issue with Director Hill. MODOK decides to save her, because he’s an ego maniac.

Coulson + Fury = bro time in outerspace/drifting toward the sun. MODOK = watching satellites. Black Widow, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman make it the the smash up space station that Coulson and Fury fell out of and assess the situation. And fix things, and it turns out they needed Hawkeye after all! The satellites stop falling and MODOK saves Maria Hill by taking down the assassin with a trained lab rat and a syringe. It’s super cute and silly. “CLAP FOR MODOK!” 

Maria’s not impressed.

Then Coulson and Fury, who are resigned to death but still cracking jokes are scooped up by Widow, Spider Woman and Hawkeye (of all people) in a nanobot blanket that MODOK designed. MODOK is genuinely surprised that Maria spied on him and copied his work.

“This is the secret Avengers, there are no rules.” -Maria Hill

This series kicks so much ass. It’s witty and zany. Ales Kot arms everyone with witty but distinct dialogue, I get to read Coulson lines in Clark Gregg’s voice, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson do and excellent job of keeping the art clear, crisp, colorful and expressive. The bright colors and Hawkeye’s dopey facial expressions really emphasize the fun feel of this one. Everyone has really expressive eyes, a feat since it’s very cartoony. 

Black Widow is a total bad ass, I like her as a mentor for the new Secret Avenger: Spider-Woman. I like the 50-50 female/male split. Ummm… + MODOK. 

 

Movie Review- Captain America: the Winter Soldier

I’ll put this at the top: 5 out of 5- One of those rare and awesome occasions where the sequel is far better than the original. Ridiculous action sequences, character emotional development for Both Captain America and Black Widow, girl power galore, a few thought provoking moments about government reach and friendship. 

Don’t read past this if you don’t want spoilers!

At the beginning of the film Steve Rogers meets Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and they bond over their military service and fitness routine. As the trailer gave away, Wilson comes to play an important role (for both the action and Cap’s character development). 

Soon after Captain America and Black Widow out on a mission, only, they aren’t exactly on the *same* mission. Romanoff is not perturbed by this, but Rogers: America’s hero, golden boy and symbol of freedom, is not feeling it. He confronts Fury, who reveals a detailed plot about how they created these helicarriers to detect threats before they become threats. Meaning that people are being punished before crimes are committed. Logically, people change their minds or there are 1000 variables about why someone considering committing a crime might change their minds. But people in the US HAVE been arrested and charged with “thought crimes” and some of them have been orchestrated to create perceived threats by government agencies SO none of this is even far fetched. I always post this same information abou Eric McDavid who was entrapped by an FBI informant and then charged with conspiring to commit eco-terrorism. He didn’t actually do anything, and most of the planning and prepping was single handedly done by the informant who was heavily pressured by the FBI to not be wasting their time -which meant planning a crime involving property destruction of a logging company. He was sentenced to 22 years because the government wants “Green” to be the new Red Scare (this movie is still playing up the Red Scare, though). This theme re-emerges again later with Dr. Arnim Zola and the Hydra plot to orchestrate crimes and tragedies so that people will just hand over their freedom and say “protect us at all costs” …I live 45 minutes from Boston and we’re coming up on the year anniversary of the Marathon Bombing. When they searched for the suspect the entire city and neighboring suburbs SHUT DOWN more extreme people said we were under Marshall Law (we weren’t), it was voluntary, but how voluntary is it really when you’re being told that an armed fanatic is in your backyard and these people with the big guns are here to handle it… can you let us in your basement? People have very divisive opinions about it and I understand that. The ensuing high fiving “This is our fucking city” mentality was alarming. I thought that shutting down all businesses sent the wrong message. But no one asked me, either. But that’s part of the problem. We have no choice but to trust the people who make these choices for us.

None of this sits well with Captain America and he goes to discuss it with Peggy Carter, who unlike Steve has aged, she tells him he has to adjust to the way things have become. Then in a moment that almost turned me into a crying child (I was hung over, don’t judge me) she forgets that she was just talking to him, and starts crying because she’s so happy that he’s alive. Chris Evans is a better actor than he’s gotten credit for, because it was really his reaction that turned me into mush. It seems like a brief moment along with a joke to Black Widow that “everyone in his barbershop quartet is dead” so he has no plans this weekend, yeah Cap has next to no one. 

But that all changes when he finds out that he’s not the only WWII soldier to be made super. 

Image

In an explosive scene, Fury is targeted by “The Winter Soldier” who is thought to be responsible for decades of assassinations, he even shot Romanoff once. Fury “dies’ (come on, no one thought he was dead) at Steves house and it’s revealed that his cute neighbor is really Agent 13 who has been watching out for him (Fury always has people watching each other, just happened on Agents of SHIELD where Melinda May was watching Coulson). And Steve and Natasha are sent off on this journey together to find who killed Fury, what’s on the drive that Natasha uploaded in the earlier mission and find out who can be trusted, all the while dodging Hydra agents and the Winter Soldier in intense fight scenes and car chases. With no idea who to turn to, Steve chooses to trust Natasha and Sam Wilson. While they recoup at Sam’s, after they are exploded in a bunker, Black Widow confesses that she has the same sense of betrayal as Steve, She thought she stopped working for the KGB to be one of the good guys. There wasn’t as much character development for Widow in this go around, just a glimpse, she was also sans-catsuit most of the time. She got to do a ton of standard bad ass stuff, like nurse bullet wounds while getting the drop on the Winter Soldier.

In a lengthy and interesting fight scene with the Winter Soldier, Captain realises that he’s Bucky. “Who the hell is Bucky?” the villain replies. Captain America’s best friend from when he was still Skinny Steve, he’s being manipulated and brainwashed by Hydra to take out those that they want taken out. Soon they will have the Helicarriers for that. But seeing Steve brings back some of Bucky’s memory. and at the final fight scene, Bucky pulls Steve out of the water. And it was really nicely done. In a flash back to after the death of his mother we seen Steve trying to go through it alone, so he doesn’t dissolve into a puddle over the fact that his best friend is a brainwashed assassin who doesn’t remember him. But he can’t kill him either. Sam recognizes this early and goes along (with his project Falcon suit) to make sure what has to happen does. But in the end it’s down to Cap and Bucky. Captain America orders Maria Hill to destroy the helicarrier (that he is on) and continues fighting with Bucky. And Steve says, “I’m not going to kill you. You’ll have to finish the job, because I’m with you til the end of the line.” And it wasn’t played up very emotionally, and it didn’t need to be. But it speaks volumes about what Cap is willing to live with and what he’s willing to live without. So couple the fact that this was borderline suicidal with the fact that he doesn’t want to work for SHIELD, he doesn’t believe in the path the government is taking and he’s losing Peggy? Ouch.

Meanwhile, Black Widow is taking out Redford’s character, Alexander Pierce -top brass who is really Hydra. And she has to electrocute herself to do it (she was also shot in pretty much that same spot). She’s going to put up all the info about Hydra, but in the process she could be putting out all her deep dark secrets. Since one of her main points in Avengers as well is her legacy in comics was atoning for her past, this is a sore spot. But she does it. 

Then, they all have to find new jobs. Fury lets his identity stay dead (but probably not for long), Romanoff goes to find a new identity, Agent 13 joins the CIA, Maria Hill interviews for Stark Industries and Falcon goes back to what he was doing before he got embroiled in this.

At the end credits we see Bucky in the Smithsonian watching the feature about himself and Captain America. Bucky’s resurrection in comics was always controversial, he was killed off in 1948, but revived periodically, before 1968 where his death became official. He was then used as a symbol of why superheroes shouldn’t have young sidekicks. It stayed this way, as angst and a cautionary tale, until 2005 when Ed Brubaker decided to bring back Bucky. And retcon all that wherein Bucky was really a 16 year old trained operative who was trained to conduct covert assassinations. Co-creator Jack Kirby wasn’t opposed. Anyway, so he’s the Winter Soldier but in the books Cap gets him his memories back via the cosmic cube and Bucky becomes a good guy… and then he becomes Captain America. So it’ll be interesting to see the next time Sebastian Stan reprises the role again (be it for May 6th, 2016’s Cap3 or before that) and what phase it will take. 

Image

Falcon first appeared in Captain America in 1969, he was from Harlem and was a community volunteer. Tones of that definitely showed through in the film where he was counselling PTSD sufferers, I like the way they applied those traits to modern and personal purposes and I’m glad they left out his affinity for birds.  

And after after the credits we get our first glimpse at Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver *squeeee*

Avengers Confidential, Black Widow & Punisher

SHIELD is on a mission to stop a global terrorist organization, Leviathan, at the same time that The Punisher is on the trail of an arms dealer. SHIELD needs intel form the dealer, and Punisher just wants to …uh, punish him. Black Widow interrupts Punishers mission and he winds up in SHIELD custody. The Punisher, not the bad guy, who escapes while SHIELD agents, including Nick Fury, Black Widow AND the Punishe all bicker and brawl. Kinda stupid.

Anyway, there’s a lot of “we do this my way” tug of war between the spy and the vigilante as they investigate what Leviathan is up to. Which is, specifically that Leviathan is creating programmable super soldiers with stolen SHIELD technology. Strike two when it turns out to be all Natasha’s fault.

SPOILERS AFTER THIS GIF- not that you should care. I want to save you from this movie.

Image

The former SHIELD scientist was in a relationship with Natasha Romanoff. But she was always going on missions and he wasn’t a powerful hero and therefore felt inferior… so he faked his own death and started working for the enemy AND experimenting on himself so that he would be super enough for Widow. Oh, fucking spare me. This is just another one of these “working women make men feel inadequate” shit shows. STAHP. How would this woo her? And you faked your own death, how does this establish trust? And if your response is “well, I can understand feeling inferior next to Black Widow, she’s a fucking bad ass.” I feel you. But think about it. They were already in a relationship. He doesn’t do it because he might be a liability to her, like that enemies might get to her because he’s weak and that would put them both in danger. He does this because he can’t compete with her work schedule and he’s not as bad ass as her and her coworkers. Would Pepper Potts fake her own death and conduct risky experiments on herself? Would MJ? Would Lois fucking Lane?! Fuck to the no. Why? Because in the patriarchal system that we live in, the dude is supposed to be tougher anyway.  So the fictitious women and the folks who write them understand that this wouldn’t be impressive. It would be deranged. And Widow’s former fling is portrayed as deranged… but also a terrorist org has supersoldiers because Widow wasn’t a doting housewife. Oh fuck off.

There were fight scene between Widow and the traitor AND Widow and the Punisher where she didn’t land a blow. So she was so badass that she earned this tragic and twisted love story… but not bad enough to actually.. you know, hold her own on her own.

Aside form that the art was underwhelming, the voices were poorly selected and the music was tacky. I was actually surprised at how much I hated this. It’s written by Marjorie M Liu who recently provided a “legend” for Red Sonja and notably the X-23 series.

The whole “reprogramming heroes” has been done before. SO MUCH. They’re powerful, what if their powers fell into the wrong hands?! DC is a little more infamous for that overused plotline, but come on. We get it. Being a human weapon is a huge liability. And that Widow was dispatched to save the entire Avengers from becoming unstoppable killing machines SHOULD have been badass… except that it was her “fault” for not making her man feel like the man? BOOOOOO

There were good things: Amadeus Cho, a young prodigy with a pet fox and a crush on Black Widow was a fun character for a bit. Fury admitting that Widow and Fury were dispatched because he could cut them loose. The good guys not always doing good things.

There’s a video where everyone makes it clear what they thought they were doing. But I can really only give this 2/5 Stars.

 

Uncanny X-Men #19.NOW

or Uncanny X-Men vs SHIELD #1

I was reading Uncanny X-Men during BotA and then I stopped when the crossover ended (although I kept up with All-New X-Men) but I decided that the new “jumping off point” was the perfect time to get back into it. Brian Michael Bendis writes stuff I want to read. That’s the long and short of it.

Image

So those other X-men at the Charles Xavier school have been under attack by SHIELD designed Sentinels (this truth came out near the end of BotA when Xorna/Jean Grey forced SHIELD helicarriers to attack the X-Men and exposed this new weaponry) because of this Cyclops has become increasingly reclusive and paranoid. The face of the New Mutant Revolution is considered a terrorist by SHIELD and in the early pages we see Maria Hill trying to track down Cyclops, she confronts and interrogates Hijack. And Raven (who has been living as the disco diva) draining Disco Dazzler of her “mutant growth hormone”. It’s heavy.

Cyclops and Eva (who? I’m not sure) are monitoring cerebro for mutant activity when they see some that is… significant. They rush to be the first there. With a “To me, my X-Men” Cyclops, Magik, Emma Frost, the Cuckoos, Christopher, Eva, et al., rush to the scene.. but it was a trap and they are confronted with these new Sentinels. Emma and Magik make fun of each others shirts before they try to GTFO.

Image

Which they can’t- their mutant powers are being disrupted. Luckily Magik’s sorcerer powers still work (she’s been studying with Dr. Strange lately) and Eva can still create a “time bubble” (and Emma Frost whispers a “you have to tell him” when Cyclops thanks her.. I have questions). The Sentinels run off.

And the X-Men are left in the middle of some serious destruction. People are pissed, people are scared,

And Cyclops declares war on SHIELD… and whoever else.

Jeez. BMB is just phenom. Let’s face it. And if there’s anything I like more that a hero rising it’s an ego maniac driving himself into a paranoid frenzy. Oooh, and I love Magik, I was hoping she’d hang out with KP’s team (they’re in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy right now) but this works for me.

But I have questions:

I’ll link some reviews in hopes they’ll come over and explain.

xmenxpert reviews this week’s Uncanny X-Men and X-Men #12 -and I agree, Magik is her own book worthy… I mean seriously, LongShot (who?) has a book… Wolverine has 3. STAHP

healed1337 also liked this month’s Uncanny X-Men over X-Men #12.

Hi guys, hope that got your attention: Who the heck is Eva and where did Rogue go anyway?

Avengers World #1

I picked this up after a lengthy “what’s good in comics” conversation with the owner of my local comic shop. The issue itself was interesting and entertaining but not super “new reader friendly” ..I definitely fall into that category. I have NEVER read Avengers, I didn’t read INFINITY (also written by Avengers World scribe Jonathan Hickman)

Image

This Avengers team is quite expansive 16 Avengers 

Of those I have adequate knowledge of: Bruce Banner, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Black Widow, Captain Marvel and Hawkeye.

I am vaguely aware of: Spider Woman

And know less than nothing about: Falcon, Hyperion, Smasher, Nightmask, Cannonball, Sunspot, Starbrand and Shang-Chi.

So as far as connection to the characters I am at a disadvantage. 

The art by Stefano Caselli is rather typical of modern comics; all the guys are super buff and the girls are all sucking it in and showing off their assets -which isn’t alway bad: the style makes sense for Black Widow who uses her looks to distract her foes… but it makes much less sense for SHIELD director Maria Hill.  Caselli’s art shines when dealing with more expressive characters like Bruce Banner or Starbrand. I also think that Hulk in a metal suit is as stupid as wolverine with a gun…

Image

 

As he has here… *sigh* Oh, Marvel.

As for the plot: the Avengers return to earth and there are threats from all around the globe. A city where all inhabitants have disappeared, the Hand, AIM island, a string of natural disasters along the eastern seaboard, Madripoor is rioting …the world is a mess. Everything is connected to one major foe…

(all new) Marvel Now! Point One

This $6 book features previews/prologues for some debuting/rebooting series that start up in the next month or so. These include Ms. Marvel, Silver Surfer, and Black Widow. The framework for these really random stories follows Loki in the search across space and time for 5 keys. My favorite of which was the first, he wins the key from a face eater in a poker game and escapes by giving the toothy aliens paper cuts on their eyeballs and making a run for it.

Image

Silver Surfer gets a retro look courtesy of Michael Allred. Allred is well known for the indie comic “Madman” which I haven’t read but my boyfriend told me was kind of like Adventure Time but for grown ups. The art is very distinctive (Pete picked up on it from across the table and distracted by empanadas). Dan Scott crafted a tale for Norrin where he in travelling in a very Whovian way with companion Dawn Greenwood. She doesn’t know as much about him as she could…

I couldn’t work up any interest in the All-New Invaders story.

Black Widow gets real. Really real. And beautiful. Subdued colors, soft features, water colors; Phil Noto’s art in her tale, “Predator,” is simply gorgeous. Nathan Edmondson presents her as we’ve come to know her: cunning, mischievous, bold, sassy…  conflicted and deadly. Always a predator.

The first glimpse of Ms.Marvel really made this worthwhile to me. A shapeshifter trying to be everything to everyone, fighting trash monsters, working her way up to hero status. Hideout envy. Meanwhile she still has family obligations AND school… her family pressures her to be a straight A student, wants her to marry a nice man… she might be a shapeshifter but can she fit their expectations? G. Willow Wilson’s “Garden State of Mind” made me remember what it was like to be a Sophomore and have my sassy pants on. Adrian Alphona’s art the scene, the costume is on point. They keep it modest and authentic and I dig it.

The Avenger’s story “Short Term Fixes” has Hulk loose on the SHIELD helicarrier again. That’s always happening.

Ms.Marvel the “shape changing, mask-wearing, sixteen-year-old super Moozlim from Jersey City” and Loki being Loki were certainly the highlights. The Silver Surfer was good but I will probably never keep up with the series. 

This book is mainly for the completists (or the curious) preparing for the next wave of books. I would have saved my six dollars if I didn’t fall into both of these categories.