My Thoughts on Dawn of X Wave 1

With a new year comes a new wave of Dawn of X. The Dawn of X relaunch came about from the status quo set up by Jonathan Hickman in House of X and Powers of X, exploring whatever Hickman didn’t want to in his core X-Men book. I’m still looking at that series over in Hanging with the HiX-Men, but what about the other titles?

I have been reading them, but I was unsure about how I’d tackle them. Whether they’d be part of Hanging with the HiX-Men or even if I would cover certain series. Eventually that snowballed into me just being very, very late with Hanging with the HiX-Men and I decided that briefer looks at all of the series would be for the best.

With the second wave of Dawn of X titles about to begin with Wolverine and the first six issues of the current series having been released, now is a good time to give my thoughts on the first wave. I’ve read all currently released issues of each of these series, six each, which is a more than fair amount of issues to gauge the series’ quality and form a founded opinion. Unlike my regular reviews, this will be much more informal, but I wanted to get these thoughts out quick.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on Excalibur, Fallen Angels, Marauders, New Mutants and X-Force.

Continue reading “My Thoughts on Dawn of X Wave 1”

The Best Comic Book Runs of the 2010s

As we near the end of the 2010s, for my final look back at the decade in comics, I’m going to be looking at the best comic runs of the 2010s. This decade had some of the best and worst comic series, but I’m here to celebrate the best runs. The 2010s had a lot of good runs that were somewhat unappreciated, that I feel deserve acknowledgement. This is the decade that I got into comics, so I followed a lot of these when they were ongoing. Yet, there is enough distance from most of these runs — most of which are complete — that I feel comfortable judging them as a whole.

For comic runs, the amount of creators and issues varies, but the general idea should be obvious — a bunch of comics where at least one creator has a big presence in the creative process. To qualify for this list, the run needs to have had most of its issues released in the 2010s. That means Grant Morrison’s Batman and Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, both of which started in the mid-2000s but ended in the 2010s, are out, but Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four, which started in 2009 and ended in the 2010s, is allowed on. Essentially, the runs will have started in the 2010s, with a small handful of exceptions that had very few issues in the previous decade. The key part of it is that this is “runs” as opposed to a series — I’ll be copying a bit of CBR’s rules and say that miniseries do not count as “runs”, unless it’s a group of miniseries in some way; this is for the the best runs on a comic, not sprints. But it can be one ongoing series, something that had multiple series, or just a specific chunk of a series for whatever reason (maybe the creative team lost the artist or something). To keep things manageable, I’ll be focusing on writers and pencillers — not that inkers, colourists and letterers aren’t important, but it’s hard enough to get every artist down for some runs, and I’ll probably miss some, that this is just the compromise I have to make.

Anyway, with all the rules out of the way, let’s get on with it. Here, arbitrarily ranked, are the best comic runs of the 2010s!

(That I read).

Continue reading “The Best Comic Book Runs of the 2010s”

The Best Comic Book Moments of the 2010s

So far, I’ve looked at the biggest shake-ups in comics status quos in the 2010s. Of course, I think those were important. They’re paradigm shifts that allow for different stories. But sometimes, you need to go smaller, and that’s what this is. This time, I’m going to be highlighting specific moments in comics that I feel were the best in the 2010s.

These can range from a single scene to a single panel, but they’re what I consider the best the 2010s have to offer. They might stand on their own or be the payoff for years of storytelling, but these are the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a reader. As a rule: it can’t be an entire issue. I’m also trying to avoid placing similar scenes on this list. So yes, it’s a loose criterion, but it’s mine. Anyway, let’s see what we have for arbitrarily ranked my personal best comic book moments of the 2010s… Continue reading “The Best Comic Book Moments of the 2010s”

Best New Comic Series of 2018

Here’s a list that I actually really enjoy doing. Unlike the top issues, it’s not hard to recall — I can remember a good series much easier than a good issue. With this list, the series is judged as a whole, not by one single standout issue. At the same time, it’s a very positive list, unlike me lambasting the worst of the year. The main condition is that the series needs to have started in 2018 and had at least an arc or so; meaning anything with less than that by the time 2019 came around isn’t allowed on the list. I will make note of those newer series, however, since, quality is quality and should be praised. So without further delay (yes, this list is fairly late), here are my best new comic series of 2018. Continue reading “Best New Comic Series of 2018”

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

7
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.

8
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.