ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!

ja

It’s been a while since I gave my thoughts on the initial ResurrXion line-up. Well, the ones that were announced right away, at least. I completely missed Black Bolt and Old Man Logan continuing, and it just got to the point that they became old news. If you want my opinions on that real quick, I’ll give them real quick at the end of this post.

I’m not here to focus on those series. For you see, today I get to do what I love most: act like a bitch and be super smug! And why? Well, Charles Soule is returning to the X-Men as the writer of a new Astonishing X-Men series! Yes, the same Charles Soule who wrote the mostly good (for its last issue) Death of Wolverine before jumping ship to the Inhumans and penning the awful Death of X and even-more-awful Inhumans vs. X-Men! And my smugness can be summed up with:

Oh, did you and the Inhumans not work out? I’m so sorry to hear that, Charlie! And no, I wasn’t laughing behind your back! I was full on rooting for you guys! Or, if you want a more direct connection:

I’m drawing all the attention to it, Soule! All! Of! The! Attention! If there’s one thing this blog isn’t, it’s classy!

Okay, I’m done now. I just wanted to be a bitch. In all seriousness, here are my thoughts on Charles Soule’s upcoming Astonishing X-Men series.

11Astonishing X-Men
Written by Charles Soule
Art by TBA

The Astonishing X-Men title is so associated with Joss Whedon that people forget that there were indeed other writers, up to and including Warren Ellis! Charles Soules’ series doesn’t seem to have anything in common with the well-known Whedon run — which partly tried to incorporate the X-Men more into the Marvel universe and have them act as more traditional superheroes (something that it gave up on pretty quickly) — other than just being a good jumping-on point for new fans, something Soules touts, which isn’t exactly unique to Astonishing. The aforementioned idea of the X-Men being more present in the Marvel Universe is being handled elsewhere, so it seems Astonishing X-Men is just called that because it’s something that’s not Uncanny X-Men or just X-Men, which is strange, as Marvel is going to be renumbering all their ongoings with “legacy numbers” later this year.

Anyway, regarding the comic itself, very little is known. In fact, this series’ reveal was actually gradual, weirdly enough. Its roster was revealed bits at a time, then finally its name and writer. I’m not sure why it was built up, but I can’t deny that it’s probably going to be one of the better X-books coming out of ResurrXion. But that’s if I really separate Charles Soule from his recent X-work. Because… oy. But he says the story told will build on itself, and it will have focus in that sense. That’s a good idea, given the sporadic nature of some X-runs, though it has me worried he’ll use his horribly written version of Emma Frost (Charles Soule is to Emma Frost what Jason Aaron was to Cyclops).

But before I get into that, let’s talk about the cast. It’s mostly good! Old Man Logan seems to be succumbing to the old Wolverine curse of being on a lot of different series and teams. I count three so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were put on an Avengers team again. But his character is interesting, and it will be interesting to see him lead a team (if he is the leader, which the cover seems to indicate he is). Archangel is always good for some angst and dark stories, along with a plain cool look. Psylocke is a cool character with an interesting history and relationship with Archangel. While I’ve found her kind of boring outside of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, she has potential and she throws a wrench into the cast. And that’s because of the presence of Fantomex, a character I’ve always seen as a more self-aware Gambit. He’s a thief who steals to distract from his constant urge to kill. He’s fun, though works best when playing off Psylocke and Archangel and other super serious characters. Oh, and speaking of Gambit, he’s here too. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but he’s fun and can lighten the mood when not angsting about whatever contrived Thieves Guild story he’s taking part in. Rogue is here too, and that makes this series give off a real soap-opera vibe, given the Psylocke/Archangel/Fantomex thing and now Rogue and Gambit. It seems like Rogue has been handled surprisingly well by Gerry Duggan over in Uncanny Avengers, and I always like to see her around. She’s a versatile character who works best when she’s a tough-but-caring Southern Belle using her own experiences to help others. Oh, and Mystique is here, in case we didn’t have enough drama. I like Mystique in the right role, and assuming she’s the token evil member of the team, I can see her having an interesting dynamic with Archangel, encouraging his darker tendencies. Also, I’d like to see how her relationships with Rogue and Logan develop, given her rocky relationship with the former and… complicated relationship with the original Logan . And then there’s Forge who exists and I don’t care about him.

Now, the elephant in the room — Charles Soule… Charles Soule was once a writer I really liked. I enjoyed his Thunderbolts run, and he managed to make the dumb concept that Daniel Way started work. I’ve heard nothing but good things about his Swamp Thing run, which I’m told far surpassed Scott Snyder’s and seemed to create an interesting mythology. His Red Lanterns run was really the only part of that series worth reading, and while I never finished, I really want to. He definitely seemed to understand the characters, especially Guy Gardner, while also keeping true to the idea of the group. I found Inhuman to be a pretty good read with some interesting characters (who became less interesting over time) and concepts. His She-Hulk run has been thoroughly praised, and I’m assuming utilised his law skills well. His Daredevil run has some cool ideas and what I read of it (I omnibus-wait Daredevil (I am not kidding) seemed like he was doing a good job bringing darkness back into Daredevil’s world after Mark Waid’s run. Thought it was rough when I read it, I’ve heard it’s really picked up. Then came his X-Men work…

While I largely enjoyed Death of Wolverine and thought it had a fitting ending, the miniseries itself felt like it had quite a bit of padding while also not quite adequately summing up Logan’s life. But what followed… I have heard nobody speak of Wolverines, Marvel’s attempt at a weekly ongoing to compete with DC’s two Batman Eternal series. I couldn’t read more than two issues of Death of X, where Soule decided to nonsensically kill off Jamie Madrox — who was the closest thing to a lead character in Peter David’s amazing X-Factor run (the second one he did) — and Cyclops, in such a low-key way that I’m sure it was meant to be profound that Cyke went out like he did, but it comes off as disrespectful given the characters rich’s history, importance to the franchise, and large fanbase. Oh, and the ending was awful and filled with plot holes. Then he wrote Inhumans vs. X-Men, which, while concluding the awful Terrigen poisoning plot (which I will be writing something on due to its awfulness), it had an amazing amount of plot holes, only some of which were carried over from Death of X — there were inconsistencies within the series itself! Oh, and Uncanny Inhumans was kind of boring and didn’t seem to get the appeal of the Inhumans. So yeah, Soule started out as an up-and-comer I really liked, but 2016 was not a good year for him, and I basically replaced him with Tom King.

A year ago I’d have been excited for this series, but Soule has really fallen in my eyes. While I had to let out the pettiness early in this post, I really hope this series is his comeback. Because it has a good cast, good planning and a writer who I know can do better than he has recently. I am cautiously optimistic about Astonishing X-Men. Continue reading “ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!”

Advertisements

Batwoman: Rebirth #1 Review

Written by Margurite Bennett and James Tynion IV
Art by Steve Epting
Colours by Jeromy Cox
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD

I don’t think  its wrong to say that Batwoman has stumbled a bit over the last few years. Her solo stories in Detective Comics and Batwoman started strong, but then J. H. Williams III wasn’t allowed to marry Kate and Maggie Sawyer and rage quit the series, and DC rushed to find a replacement lest they take their time and screw up their precious numbering, and the result was Marc Andreyko’s thoroughly disliked run. After petering out, Batwoman would be banished to comic book limbo, only making occasional guest appearances in larger Bat-stories like the two Eternal series, and even then she barely did anything. But then she got tied closer to the Bat-family in James Tynion IV’s mostly good Detective Comics run, and they decided to launch another Batwoman ongoing under up-and-coming writer Marguerite Bennett (AnimosityBombshells). Since a lot of people probably aren’t familiar with Batwoman’s history — since she was barely affected by the 2011 reboot — this Rebirth one-shot could have been used to catch new readers up on her backstory, while also setting up new stories. It only does the latter well. Continue reading “Batwoman: Rebirth #1 Review”

Super Sons #1 Review

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jorge Jimenez
Colours by Alejandro Sanchez
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD

Peter J. Tomasi is a writer who has always excelled at sentiment. From the restless Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner in Green Lantern Corps to the father-son dynamic in Batman and Robin, to the more recent, and different, father-son dynamic in Superman, it’s clear Tomasi has an affinity for pulling at the heart strings in the superhero genre. Super Sons is Tomasi taking a stab at writing boyhood adventures, and, to nobody’s surprise, he knocks it out of the park. Super Sons #1 is a really fun comic about two boys and their budding friendship doing what boys their age do, only with more capes and fighting and less parental supervision. Continue reading “Super Sons #1 Review”

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap

Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colours by Marcelo Maiolo
Published by DC Comics
Cover price $2.99 USD

Review and Recap is where I give a quick review of a comic, usually less in-depth than my regular reviews, before recapping it and adding some commentary here and there. Obviously spoilers abound in the commentary section. Anyway, here’s my Review and Recap of Justice League of America: Rebirth #1.

The Review:

The name ‘Justice League of America’ hasn’t had much luck in the last few years. Geoff Johns’ series seemed to exist solely to tie-in to his Trinity War and Forever Evil events, and Bryan Hitch’s version was so unremarkable that I’ve heard nobody speak of it outside of maybe one scene and bemoaning its numerous delays. But third time’s the charm, right? Surely Steve Orlando can take a team of B-list, Arrowverse-friendly characters (and Lobo) and finally give the name something worth a damn, right? Apparently, yes. Thanks to a clear mission statement for the team and motives for its cast of interesting characters, Justice League of America is off to a promising start.

The story is fairly straightforward — Batman recruits his Justice League. But Orlando does a good job clearly giving reasons for the characters (well, most of them) to join, while also setting up the various team dynamics. It’s nothing remarkable, but there’s a lot of potential for future stories set up, and the various relationships are interesting and set up well. The team’s mission statement, according to Batman, is to be a team that people can know and be inspired by, as opposed to the gods of the Justice League. It’s a good idea, and would mostly work if it weren’t for the presence of Batman himself, who has a secret identity, a mythic quality to him and is a Leaguer. That aside, the set-up is very well done while maintaining a good pace.

Something that helps the issue is that its characters, none of whom could be considered A-list aside from Batman, are fair game for whatever Orlando wants to do with them. Unlike the cast of Justice League, most of the cast of Justice League of America don’t have any other ongoing comic that their development is reserved for. Steve Orlando is free to develop his characters how he sees fit, so it’s much easier to get emotionally invested in the characters, rather than just the plot. It might be my cynicism, but as it is, it’s far more likely that I’ll be invested in whatever happens to Lobo in this series than Barry Allen and Jessica Cruz dating in Justice League, since I know there’s no Lobo ongoing that’s more important and already has a love interest for him.

Ivan Reis’ art is mostly good, with his usual flair for lighting and expressive faces for the most part. However, it feels a bit rushed, whether that be some more ill-defined faces or just rushed inking from Joe Prado and/or Oclair Albert. While it’s by no means weak — Reis, Prado and Maiolo are still a treat — the art is just not quite up to the standards I have for this art team.

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 is a superhero comic with an interesting cast with interesting relationships and a great art team. While its B-list cast could’ve been a hindrance, Steve Orlando knows how to get readers invested. If this issue and the previous one-shots are any indicator, Justice League of America is shaping up to be the Justice League comic worth reading.

4/5 – Very Good

Join me after the jump for the commentary! Continue reading “Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap”

Killer Frost: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap

Written by Steve Orlando and Jody Houser
Art by Mirka Andolfo
Colours by Arif Prianto
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD 

Review and Recap is where I give a quick review of a comic, usually less in-depth than my regular reviews, before recapping it and adding some commentary here and there. Obviously spoilers abound in the commentary section. Anyway, here’s my Review and Recap of Killer Frost: Rebirth.

The Review:

It’s taken a while, but DC has finally decided to push Killer Frost in their comics. She obviously has a bigger profile now, since Caitlin Snow (the most recent version of the character) has been appearing on The Flash since its first episode. Sure, they gave her a Villains Month one-shot, but that was oddly timed, since that was about a year before her live-action debut. Regardless, Dc has finally seen fit to utilise the character more, and while I found her appearances in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad — to which Killer Frost: Rebirth acts as a pseudo-epilogue — to be a mixed bag, Killer Frost: Rebirth does a much better job of making me care about the character.

Killer Frost finds herself tested by Amanda Waller before she can leave the Suicide Squad to join the Justice League of America, and it’s not played as a moral dilemma. It’s not about Frost questioning using her powers, as using them to drain heat, which she needs to do, would kill someone — if she does it, Waller has an excuse not to release her into Batman’s custody. Orlando and Houser do a very good job of getting you to care about Killer Frost, without going out of their way to paint her as some overly heroic victim, which was one of my problems with Joshua Williamson’s writing of the character. Orlando and Houser actually play with Frost’s morality a bit; Frost is played as mostly good for much of the issue, before a twist is thrown in that messes with that. It makes her an infinitely more interesting character. She has some heroic traits, but the ending leaves her morality up in the air, though it does clash a bit with one or two boxes of her narration.

Mirka Andolfo’s art is expressive enough to get you invested in Killer Frost’s story. While it sometimes leans a bit too much towards cute for this type of story and setting, it still works, as Andolfo is versatile enough that he can swing between a cute Frost to a stoic Frost. Surprisingly, Frost’s powers are underplayed, which is very surprising given the rest of these one-shots. It works for the story, though, given her situation. I just wish Andolfo got to cut loose a bit more. Prianto’s colours get the job done, and does a good job playing with lighting to keep things visually interesting in mostly same-y settings.

Killer Frost: Rebirth tells a good done-in-one story that, of the JLA one-shots, links the most to the actual ongoing and why its protagonist will be joining the team. It has enough ambiguity to make Killer Frost interesting, and makes you want to read more of her, just not as a narrator. If nothing else, it got me on board for the character to be in Justice League of America.

4/5 – Very Good

Join me after the break for the commentary! Continue reading “Killer Frost: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap”

The Ray: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap

Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Stephen Byrne
Colours by Stephen Byrne
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD 

Review and Recap is where I give a quick review of a comic, usually less in-depth than my regular reviews, before recapping it and adding some commentary here and there. Obviously spoilers abound in the commentary section. Anyway, here’s my Review and Recap of The Ray: Rebirth.

The Review:

The Ray is, like the Atom and Vixen before him, a character I’ve had little to no exposure to. I know he’s in the Freedom Fighters, a pretty cheesy group of patriotic superheroes, and that he’s gay (and it turns out I was even wrong there; he’s gay as of this issue, so I don’t know why I thought he was gay beforehand). He’s got a cool aesthetic, but other than that, I’ve never really cared for him. This issue inches me closer to caring, but doesn’t quite get there because it’s just a bit too frustrating.

The Ray: Rebirth is more or less about Ray Terrill (yes, ‘Ray’ is his real name, really), a man who grew up under the impression that exposure to too much light would kill him. The issue does a good job focusing on Ray and his problems with people, and you get a sense of who he is and why he avoids people the way he does. But what gets him to do so is just a bit contrived, as is the happy ending to a degree, as Ray suddenly gets a big dose of development off-screen. Plus, Ray himself comes off as a bit — and I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic — whiny. He just doesn’t seem to understand the seriousness of his condition, and it bugs me.

But the story does a nice job incorporating homosexuality into its story without ever preaching to you. The entire story is basically Ray coming out to the world as the Ray, but this is subtly woven with metaphors for realising one’s sexuality, and just problems that some LGBTQI people may come across, such as fear of condemnation for being different (and this is definitely subtler than any X-Men comic has been in recent years).

The art works for the issue and is versatile. When Ray’s a child, the art is cartoony enough that the expressions come across well and you get the feeling that Ray views the world this way. However, it never veers into being too cartoony. It has a nice clean look to it. When he’s a teen, the lines a less pronounced and everything has a softer look, while not feeling like there’s a huge shift in art style. Oh, and [ARTIST NAME] excels at making Ray’s powers look cool, and he obviously really enjoys letting loose with Ray’s powers just as much as Ray himself does. The comic also has a nice thing where light is played on, with the more depressing stages of Ray’s life taking place in the dark, with subdued colours. It’s a nice little thing that makes sense, given his powers.

3.5/5 – Good

Join me after the break for the commentary!
Continue reading “The Ray: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap”

Marvel/Square-Enix Project Speculation (Industry Talk)

What’s that, you want two weeks late speculation? I gotcha covered. Sorry about the lateness, but I had personal problems come up this last week, but I just wanted to get this out there, since I’m obviously a big superhero fan.

Marvel and Square-Enix are partnering up for a number of video game projects, and the first thing “announced”, if you could call it that, is something Avengers-related, marketed with the hashtag #Reassemble, developed by Crystal Dynamics, the developers of the most-recent Tomb Raider reboot games, and Eidos Montreal, developers of the new Deus Ex and Thief games. The brief video features the destroyed or abandoned equipment of the Avengers, well the MCU-relevant ones, and a woman (who I’m guessing is Maria Hill, even if she sounds more like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Hill and less like Cobie Smulders) narrating about a lack of heroes, and the need to reassemble.

Marvel are billing the game as the beginning of “a universe gamers can play in for years to come.” So it’s either the beginning of a Marvel video game universe (the MVGU? Yeah… doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) or maybe an MMO. IGN theorises that is could be set in the MCU, but I really doubt that. But the MMO idea seems sort-of likely, given the need for “more heroes”, and it reminds me of the premise for DC Universe Online. Personally, I’m all for an MMO. I like the idea of creating your own superhero in an already familiar universe and interacting with all — except maybe not the X-Men and Fantastic Four, because license bullshit — of your favourite superheroes and villains. However, given that Square-Enix is the publisher and is still supporting Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, it would be strange of them to release a  competing MMO (as if that would actually be a contest; Marvel MMO wins, hands down).

I think the more likely answer is that the game features an original universe where the Avengers are already well-known, but have disbanded, and your original character will put the team back together for whatever reason. Superhero games are usually aimed at a much more mainstream or casual audience, so I expect the game to be a sandbox, akin to the more recent Spider-Man games, which feature a plethora of guest characters. Though if it is indeed a sandbox game, it kind of lends credence to my theory that the PS4 Spider-Man game is indeed basically a tie-in to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Though sandbox games aren’t exactly meant to be releases that are hugely supported post-launch, so maybe the Avengers project will just be released in 2018, to avoid having to battle Spider-Man while also tying into the release of the Infinity War movies.

The other option I’m thinking of is that the game is more like X-Men: Destiny, and is linear but features choices you can make (at least I think you could make choices in that game?) regarding who you work with. With the Avengers being central and the general lack of compelling or interesting Marvel villains that the mainstream casual gamer is aware of, I doubt you will be siding with villains. Maybe you just pick what Avengers to work with, and maybe a mentor for your new character. Actually, just typing that out brought back memories of Infamous, and I guess your original character could be like Delsin Rowe in Infamous: Second Son and just be a discount Rogue, which would work well with the different Avengers while not feeling too restrictive in the character creation aspect.

Anyway, those are the types of games I think will be the first game to come out of this partnership. Maybe I’m wrong and we’ll get something more varied; Crystal Dynamics has been messing with stealth just that bit more, and Eidos Montreal is definitely experienced in that regard, so maybe you play as Hawkeye or Black Widow and you’re reassembling the Avengers or something. Whatever the game turns out to be, with the pedigree of both Square-Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal, as well as my general love of superhero comics and superhero video games, I’m excited to hear more.

Side note: Please put the game on PC, Square-Enix. Just… please do it. And don’t make the port crap. You usually don’t, and your PC ports are actually pretty good, but don’t slip because you think the license will let you get away with it. Arkham Knight showed that’s just not the case. It feels bad that I even felt it necessary to mention this.