Picking at the Pieces of “X-Men Disassembled”

Yeah, I’m not done with this story. Guys… I have things to do. I need to take a government exam to be able to even enrol in some teaching units for my master’s. I haven’t finished Red Dead Redemption 2 yet. I need to finish Bodyguard and The Protector because I told a friend I would. I’m trying to finish The Name of the WindAncillary Justice and The Night Circus. There’s things I can be doing, is what I’m saying. And yet, I keep coming back to this. Because it keeps calling me back.

“X-Men Disassembled” was meant to be the big X-Men relaunch of 2018. Kicking off a new series of the flagship title, Uncanny X-Men, when finally the X-Men team books would be consolidated into one title… and what we got was a weekly series that couldn’t even justify its own existence without spoiling its own ending — on the day of the first issue’s release, Marvel announced the Age of X-Man event; that name told everyone all they needed to know about it — an alternate world where the story would be told through numerous miniseries, with X-Man (Nate Grey) playing a key part. Well… okay then, so what’s the point of reading this story? There didn’t seem to be one.

The three writers — Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson and Matthew Rosenberg — clearly knew where they were headed with this story, but the way they got there was one of the most badly executed stories I’ve ever seen. See, we knew where it was headed. Clearly. So they needed to give us other reasons to read, while also setting up the status quo for after “X-Men Disassembled” ends — the return of Cyclops and Wolverine. Well, let’s have a look at this series and see what they came up with, shall we? Let’s see what the different plot threads amounted to and how this story went out. Continue reading “Picking at the Pieces of “X-Men Disassembled””

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Gateway Comics — X-Men

This is a new recommendation thing I’m going to do where I list works in a franchise that are good for new readers, that hopefully make them want to check out more of the franchise or character. It will be sporadically updated (like everything here) and mostly feature franchises/characters that I am personally familiar with, although I will be using others’ opinions at times. For the first entry, I’m going to tackle the mother of all beasts, the X-Men.

The X-Men are the poster child for convoluted comic book continuity. There is a character who is the son of someone younger than him, who was sent to the future to save him him from a disease, and then came back to the present and has a history of time-travelling and dying… and this character has almost always had at least one series where he is a main character since he was created. But this type of superhero drama is also what’s great about the X-Men; they can so easily blend drama of all types with superhero and sci-fi plots. Not only that, but as a minority stand-in, it’s incredibly easy to relate to mutant characters.

However, none of that changes that the X-Men franchise has a reputation for being impenetrable. Yet, they were my gateway drug into comics (along with Batman) and I have a good knowledge of their various series. It’s only appropriate that I start with the X-Men, so here we go, my recommendations for how to get into the franchise of the Merry Mutants! Continue reading “Gateway Comics — X-Men”

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”

Worst Comics of 2018

I wasn’t going to do this. I like to celebrate the good in comics, not lampoon the bad. Comic readers already have an image of being overly negative and I don’t want to be that guy. But… some of the comics this year truly did it for me. They managed to take my goodwill and optimism and grind it into the dirt. Yes, some of these series may recover, or may even have already. But that doesn’t take away from how terrible these particular comics are. With that in mind, here are the worst comics of 2018. Continue reading “Worst Comics of 2018”

Biggest Comic Letdowns of 2017

To me, there are two types of “bad” comic: something that is just badly crafted in terms of story/art or something that’s disappointing. To me, the latter is worse. You can usually see a bad comic coming a mile away, but a comic that has everything needed to be good and fails anyway, that will always hurt more. 2017 has been a solid year for comics, but there have been some disappointment. Some of these were set up in 2016, while others were a bit newer to the poop party. Regardless, they let me down in a big way, and I need to make a list, dammit! So in ascending order, here are my top comic letdowns of 2017.

Also, the reason this list is super late is because I wasn’t going to do it. It just got too far into 2018… then I saw ProJared (and others) make 2017 lists still and decided to just make this super succinct. So I’m doing this quick and dirty, because I just need to get these off my chest. Continue reading “Biggest Comic Letdowns of 2017”

ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!

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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!”

ResurrXion, Part 5 — Seems like It’s Better to Go Solo (Rantings)

Okay, so I didn’t completely think this format through, so now Cable’s all by his lonesome. But hey, that’s probably for the best. He can not be tainted by another series… though I had to stretch for a title for this post.

Well that all went to waste! For the record, I was going to call this post “ResurrXion, Part 5 — Cable’s Gonna Be a Star, Man (Rantings)”. Anyway, I’m glad All-New Wolverine is continuing (and hopefully this also means Jeff Lemire’s Old Man Logan also gets to continue), but more on that after Cable.

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No feet, big weird guns… but not enough pouches.

Cable

Written by James Robinson
Art by Carlos Pacheco

Now that is a creative team! Ahem. Anyway, Cable is a character I don’t think Marvel knows what to do with. His last really successful stories were when he played the straight man to Deadpool in the beloved Cable & Deadpool series. There have been numerous attempts to reinvigorate the character over the years — acting as a surrogate father to Hope Summers in Cable (volume 2), giving him his own X-Force team in Cable and X-Force, trying to recreate the magic of Cable & Deadpool, and even making him an Avenger over in Uncanny Avengers — but the character just doesn’t have a really defined role. He’s a nineties creation through and through, with a somewhat complicated backstory. But he’s also fairly popular, and his friendship with Deadpool really benefits him. James Robinson seems to want to give him a more defined role, and one that suits the time-hopping mass of muscle.

Cable is going to feature the eponymous time-travelling mutant anti-hero running through time and combating enemy time-travellers out to abuse the timeline. It’s been done before, my favourite version being in DC’s Booster Gold ongoing that spun out of 52, but Cable’s anti-hero ways will bring a nice touch to things. The antagonist will be a new villain (though I’m calling it: he’s an unused old character with a new name) called Conquest, a name straight out of the nineties. Settings Robinson has mentioned include 15th century Japan, World War I, the Stone Age and Victorian England. I’m not sure Cable’s the right character to give us a historical piece, but it’s definitely more subdued than what I initially expected. However, I fully expect some references to other Marvel works, because this is Robinson.

And speaking of James Robinson, he’s a great writer. His Starman is something I still need to get into, but I’ve read the first issue and dug it. It updates old concepts for modern times, and does so while honouring the past. Robinson is like Grant Morrison in that sense, but holds the past in reverence but doesn’t feel the need for weird changes and incomprehensibility. He can tell great, cinematic stories with great world-building like with Earth 2 (before editors screwed him over… then screwed Tom Taylor over). His skill with continuity and fondness of the Golden Age I think will be a big benefit for Cable, as the series will likely involve playing with Marvel continuity and some war stories.

Carlos Pacheco is an artist I like whenever I see his work, but I rarely see it. His work on Uncanny X-Men (volume 2) was great, and he can actually draw different faces and figures, which look nice but not exceedingly nice as to be fanservice (though he draws a great Emma Frost). Pacheco excels at expression, while being able to be subtle unlike other artists who excel at expression. I’m not sure how he’s going to fit into Cable’s probably darker stories, but at least the art will look nice.

Cable has an okay premise, but the creative team is why I’m looking forward to it. Time travel suits Robinson, and Pacheco is an excellent artist. While I’m not sure about the choice of character, I have faith in this team.

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That is a generic cover right there. Also, weird shoulder pads for some reason.

All-New Wolverine
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Leonard Kirk

So All-New Wolverine does get to continue! Though I’m not sure why it’s not being renumbered, what with Marvel’s love on new series, I’m glad it is and that Tom Taylor is staying as writer. I’m reading All-New Wolverine in trade, and although the first volume is uneven and kind of generic, the second, though not subtle, makes me feel like Taylor gets the character and has given her a fitting role as a big sister figure and hero. Once Taylor stopped following the Wolverine Plot Blueprint, he was able to tell good stories, though they are still flawed (I plan on reviewing the second trade soon).

If the lack of a renumbering didn’t give it away, All-New Wolverine isn’t relaunching as part of ResurrXion, but starting a new arc called “Immune”. The arc supposedly follows on from the previous story arc, “Enemy of the State II” (by the way, I’m pretty sure there was already an arc called that, if not in Wolverine, then in Black Panther), which I haven’t read yet. But “Immune” will have a virus outbreak leading to the government cordoning off a city, and Laura going in. An alien child speaks Laura’s name with her dying breath — though I’m pretty sure the kid is gonna say ‘Wolverine’ as opposed to Laura or X-23 — and that messes with her life, because the virus is alien and apparently originates from Laura. The child thing makes me think that Gabby, Laura’s sidekick (kinda), is going to die or go evil in “Enemy of the State II”, if she hasn’t already and we’ll have to see Laura deal with trust issues and the like. At the same time, Laura is isolated during this story and there’s nothing to fight, and that will be explored. I’m okay with the latter, since it’s good that a character so surrounded by fighting can getg a conflict where she can’t fight her way out. But the statement about Laura being isolated has me concerned that she might revert to her emo, mid-late 2000s self, who I find insufferable. But the story has potential to explore the character, which is what All-New Wolverine has done so well, albeit by using fairly average plots.

The team is okay. Tom Taylor gets Laura Kinney, and although he’s forced to retcon some things in for the sake of his All-New Wolverine stories, they mostly work. While I find him as subtle as a brick — he doesn’t seem to trust the reader to make connections between various scenes themselves, even those within the same issue — he’s good with his Laura characterisation most of the time. His plots need work, but on a character-driven solo series like this, it’s fine. While I dislike some of Taylor’s work (the Injustice: Gods Among Us tie-in), he’s a relatively new writer and All-New Wolverine reads better as it goes, so he’s clearly learning. Plus, it’s nice that he can tell his own stories, after his Earth 2 run was so heavily editor-controlled. Leonard Kirk is an okay artist, who uses slightly exaggerated faces to convey emotion, but is flexible. From the sci-fi drama of Fantastic Four to the more dark stories of Squadron Supreme, he’s shown that he’s versatile. I don’t particularly like or hate his artwork, but he’s a solid choice. Laura’s new costume is obviously supposed to invoke her time with X-Force, and… I don’t know. The brighter Wolverine costume worked for her, as someone who’s more typically superhero than Logan. And it further worries me that Laura is going to slip into the dark anti-hero thing again and start killing, which, as a character who wanted to not be a killer, is moving her character backwards (though I guess you could justify it with her not wanting her time as an experiment affecting her at all, but it’d still read badly to me personally).

There’s not much to say here. I’m glad All-New Wolverine is continuing and sounds like it will keep exploring Laura Kinney’s character in interesting ways, though I’m worried she might regress. I’m not sure how many people will jump on, but I hope it continues because this series actually gives Laura roles that suit her.

Oh, and random aside: Marvel, please tag Cable and All-New Wolverine as part of ResurrXion  on your site. And maybe have a consistent image size for the covers so I don’t have to resize them.