ResurrXion, Part 4 — Hopelessness and Greg Land (Rantings)

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Holy crap, that’s an ugly haircut… and costume. Also, what the hell emotion is Yardin trying to convey with that face?

Jean Grey
Written by Dennis Hopeless (aptly named)
Art by Victor Ibanez

When ResurrXion was being teased, lots of people thought the original Jean Grey, killed during Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, was returning. Well, that’s not the case. But even disregarding that, this comic is just… hopeless (I know, I’m so clever).

The plot will feature Jean confronting the Phoenix Force, without the experience her older self had. The world needs her to be the Jean they need her to be. It’s an okay twist on things, but it still just sounds so boring. She’s obviously going to be the Jean they need or is going to disappear at first and eventually take up the burden. That or she can just go home and Rachel Summers, who writers remember exists since she’s in X-Men: Gold, can just get the Phoenix. Or maybe the original Jean does finally come back. It doesn’t help that Jean’s just not very interesting. This Jean’s characterisation varies depending on where you read her, and not because she develops naturally; but because she’s just poorly written. Hopeless states that Jean wanting to get prepared for the Phoenix Force’s arrival is relatable to young adults thinking of the type of adult they want to be, and how this is largely based on people’s expectations and your own experiences. Which… is how that works, last time I checked. It’s pseudo-philosophical bullshit that just comes off as dumb. Jean can prepare for the Phoenix: learn self-control, mediate, psychologically prepare herself like Hope Summers in AvX, learn to use her powers more, make plans if it goes wrong, etc. Really, there are ways to prepare, and suggesting otherwise is pretty stupid. Like this series, actually.

If it wasn’t clear from the last two paragraphs, let me make it clear: I don’t like Dennis Hopeless. At all. The guy’s dialogue is godawful and he seems to think it’s clever, but comes off as a dumber and shallower Kieron Gillen or Matt Fraction. He doesn’t care about characters’ histories and personalities and bends them to suit his mediocre plots, such as in the awful Avengers Arena, Avengers Undercover and All-New X-Men (volume 2) series. And when he’s not killing off new characters with potential or writing generic fluff, he’s writing mediocre popcorn stuff like Cable and X-Force. And when he’s not doing that, he’s writing cliche-filled boring stuff like Spider-Woman. Hopeless likes to romanticise things like teenage waywardness and motherhood and frame them within the superhero genre, but he’s just too transparent about it and does little else in his stories. The guy is just a bad writer who somehow gets consistent work, and I can’t even say he’s got some magnum opus that justifies keeping him around, or even some good but flawed stuff like Cullen Bunn does with Magneto. At least not anything that’s relevant enough that people talk about it (maybe there’s some amazing, obscure series of his out there that nobody ever bought, like Alex + Ada (except even that series is popular and acclaimed enough to be cited as a work in solicitations). Hopeless seems to be kept around because Marvel need someone to write the books they seem to only publish because they have the IP.

That was a huge rant, so I’m going to give Victor Ibanez his own section. Looking at his prior Marvel works, he seems to be a fill-in artist, and an inconsistent one at that. He did a few issues of Storm and Extraordinary X-Men, and judging from them, he seems to really hate backgrounds because they’re nonexistent in a lot of his panels. His characters look good, however, and he’s got some range. He can do a less stylised look while not being minimalistic or intentionally ugly. Or he can do a more typically superhero look with lots of detail when called for. However, the man’s faces are just off sometimes, and his stuff seems to go off-model somewhat frequently, with things like absurdly long necks and just weird body proportions in general. He’s got potential, but right now, he’s a mixed bag.

Jean Grey already had an uphill battle by using the time-displaced version of the character that the majority of fans have grown tired of. But then Marvel saddled it with their worst writer, and I have absolutely no interest in this series. Jean Grey looks like it will be another crap series by Dennis Hopeless. No thanks.

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I already think I’ve seen that Logan somewhere before.

Weapon X
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Greg Land (I just threw up in my mouth a little)

It’s not really an original thought to suggest that the only current X-Men series that are actually good are All-New Wolverine and Old Man Logan. So when Weapon X was announced, it was assumed that one of the writers of those series, Tom Taylor and Jeff Lemire, respectively, would be writing Weapon X and that it would be a kind of team book featuring the Wolverine family of characters (Logan, Sabretooth, X-23, Daken, etc). However, at best we were about a quarter right.

But ignoring all of that, I like most of the cast. I don’t think Old Man Logan has interacted with the now sort-of heroic Sabretooth yet, and it will be interesting to see how that works out. Jeff Lemire wrote a good Lady Deathstrike over in Old Man Logan, and Pak wants to build on that, which I’m glad to hear, and she does have a weird relationship with the Weapon X project (her father developed the method by which Adamantium was bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton). I know next to nothing about Domino, but she’s got a kind of cool look. Thunderbird is boring to me (you can tell I don’t care about him because I forgot he also went by “Warpath”, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever read him as Warpath), but he was an okay supporting character in Ed Brubaker’s X-Men run. Also of note: why isn’t X-23 here? Pak has said that there will be some familiar faces as guest stars, and I hope Laura shows up, because it’s weird that she’s not on this team, given their goals.

The actual story involves a new Weapon X project, one with even more power and resources than the original. That’s an okay plot, though I swear it’s been done before and I really hate sinister shadowy organisations with unseen goals. It barely ever works out. But yeah, Logan and Sabretooth have to form a team to stop the bad guys, using methods that group members won’t agree on. Pak also said that Weapon X will test the heroism of the heroes and the villainy of the villains, and deconstruct the morality of the characters. With a huge threat like a bigger, better Weapon X, I think that it might actually work, especially since everyone on the team is already an anti-hero, at best. The series seems to be an X-Force series in all but name, focusing mostly on Weapon X-related characters.

Greg Pak is a good writer who excels at emotionally grounding characters, such as in Storm and Action Comics. While his work can lack strong narratives, his character work is always very well done. But then there’s the art. It’s Greg Land. The internet has archives of his bad artwork. The guy’s artwork is badly posed, because he’s copying other work, and does not flow well at all. And that’s when characters aren’t blatantly traced from born, such as in Uncanny X-Men, where Emma Frost dodging a missile was blatantly a tracing of a woman masturbating. His actions scenes suffer because of the aforementioned copying, his characters can look different from panel to panel because of the aforementioned copying, and his dramatic stuff fail because there’s always a part of you that knows, or at least thinks, that you’ve seen the picture somewhere before because of the aforementioned copying. Apparently Land will also be doing a decent amount of splash pages in Weapon X, and I can already see the awkward photoshopping, posing and placement. When he actually draws original art for a story, things look okay, or even good like in Nightwing. But I think Land long ago stopped caring about the quality of his work. Hopefully a new artist comes on after an arc or two, but I doubt it since Land is the “bad, but gets stuff out on time” kind of artist.

Weapon X sounds like it will be an interesting read with bad art. There’s room for good character development and interactions, and hopefully the villain is just a plot device to allow for it. The art is not going to be good, there’s really no avoiding that, but hopefully it’s at least inoffensive in how bad it is. I’m looking forward to it.

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ResurrXion, Part 2 — Blue and Gold, the Colours of Mediocrity (Rantings)

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Can someone please tell Rachel Grey that she’s not Mon-El?

X-Men: Gold
Written by Marc Guggenheim (yes, really)
Art by Ardian Syaf

One of the two main X-ongoings, it features the team introduced by Chris Claremont, with Rachel Grey/Summers and Kitty Pryde along for good measure. They do… stuff. Honestly, it’s vague, but they’ll be more entrenched in general Marvel goings ons, which honestly hassn’t worked out well for the X-Men in the past (e.g, the mediocre second X-Men series, their more recent stuff in Marvel NOW!, such as Uncanny Avengers)

The lineup obviously is invoking the second generation of X-Men, though obviously changed a bit. Old Man Logan is confirmed to be sticking around, and he’s pretty hard to write out of character. Nightcrawler and Colossus are sticking around to be fun and boring, respectively, but they’re always good in supporting roles, especially when Logan is around. Storm’s sticking around, so her fans will be happy, though the leadership position apparently goes to Kitty Pryde. I’ve never been a huge fan of Kitty, but it’s at least nice that she’ll be back with the X-books. Apparently, her returning and finding the X-Men in such a different state will not be ignored, but given how much Guggenheim seems to be the typical Kitty fanboy (she’s his self-insert, he started reading as a teenager and she was just introduced, etc), I doubt she’ll be called on abandoning her species. Rachel Grey/Summers is here, in a bad Mon-El cosplay apparently, and the linked interview makes it seem like Guggenheim really doesn’t know what to do with her, like she’s just there because she needs to be there. The cast is mostly fine, but time will tell if Guggenheim writes them well. Which segues nicely into my thoughts on the creative team!

Just… no on this creative team. Ardian Syaf is hit-or-miss, and a lot of his stuff ends up looking rushed. He’s okay when he’s a hit, but nothing special. But Marc Guggenheim? Let me make this clear: I don’t watch Arrow. I read the Arrow subreddit, but I don’t watch the show. But I know that he basically tanked the show. However, I’m going to throw on my hipster hat and say this: I hated Marc Guggenheim before it was cool! He wrote what is probably the worst New Mutants-esque book ever — Young X-Men, which just alienated every reader of Marvel’s younger mutants while also introducing the shitpile that is Ink, a mutant who gained powers relating to whatever tattoos he had, up to and including the powers of the Phoenix. Not only that, but he also wrote the crapfest that was Bart Allen’s run as the Flash. He also ruined the Justice Society after Geoff Johns left, though people were ruining them a bit before him anyway. So yeah, I’ve got a pretty negative opinion on Guggenheim’s writing, and there’s no big name, strong artist to help him.

While the cast would normally get me kind of excited for X-Men: Gold, having Marc Guggenheim as writer just kills it. I’m sorry, but I expect this to be a mediocre at best series, with probably tons of focus on Kitty Pryde. Not interested.

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Have you ever had those guests that just refused to go home?

X-Men: Blue
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Jorge Molina

And here’s the other main X-ongoing, X-Men: Blue! And… the time-displaced, original five (O5) X-Men are sticking around. Of course. It will feature the O5 working with Magneto of all people, and getting into “classic”-style stories.

The cast is not good. I’m sorry, but next to nobody cares about the O5 anymore. Let them go home. They’re pointless. Bendis may have had something planned for them, but he jumped ship, and now they’re just a relic of a story that never had any payoff. They’re boring, and pale reflections of their adult counterparts. And Bunn’s interpretation of the characters is just… off. He says many people feel Jean should’ve been the X-Men’s leader for a while, which is just untrue. And given how she either acts purely on her own emotions (All-New X-Men) or is just… a character that exists to exist (Extraordinary X-Men), I have trouble seeing her as a leader at all. Maybe I could swallow the original Jean leading the X-Men in Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Xavier’s absence, maybe, but this Jean? I’m sorry, but no. The rest apparently don’t want to go home, because they’ve built lives for themselves, such as Cyke joining the Champions (actually a good read, by the way), Iceman getting a boyfriend, Beast dabbling in magic (why?), and Angel embracing a more warrior-type attitude. It’s just… it feels like Bunn just randomly decided to give the characters new traits because he needed an excuse to keep them around. Except it sounds like this might actually be the series that ends with them going home, which I sincerely hope it is. Bunn’s writing of Magneto is always good, but teaming him up with the O5 is just a weird creative decision.

The creative team is okay, I guess. Cullen Bunn is a writer who I think gets way more work than he deserves, but hey, he gets stuff out on time so why should DC or Marvel care, right? But what I’ve read of his Magneto run is solid, if nothing special, and his Uncanny X-Men run approaches the Terrigen Mists plot in a more interesting manner than any other X-book. However, he’s said that X-Men: Blue won’t be dark like his other works, and honestly, I think that’s his biggest, and possibly only, strength; he can tell dark stories that use other, better writers’ works as a foundation. Jorge Molina is an okay artist, with a style that seems to be a more painted version of David Marquez. At the very least, I kinda dig the design of the X-Men boots. Yep, that’s the only thing I can really say about the art — I dig the boots.

I would love if this series and X-Men: Gold switched creative teams. Bunn is a better writer than Guggenheim, and I’d sooner dump these unwanted, boring characters onto the latter. If this series had a more interesting cast, I’d actually be interested. But instead, we basically get All-New X-Men volume 3, and I stopped caring halfway through volume 1.