It’s not a slight, merely a marker of where profitability now lies in the land of geek. The high-end talent at this years’ extravaganza inside the Philadelphia Convention Center were squarely in line with the interests’ of the masses. Dr. Who, Walking Dead, the allure of huffing in these stars’ pheromones is what enticed the city of brotherly love (and Jersey). Instead of letting the waned presence of DC, Marvel and Image booths bother me this year, I decided to revel in my own interests outside the funny books and enjoy the exuberant squeals of fans when Whoopi Goldberg, the cast from Firefly would appear around corners. Even Curtis Armstrong, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, couldn’t walk six steps without a fan hitting his gate or stopping it completely.
I do believe both Marvel and DC should try to crush this bitch in ‘15 to prop up their incoming tsunami of serial movies. But that’s the future, in ’14 indie comics ruled and this even goes for those creators who sit or sat upon continuity high once. There were a handful of big guns, but 98% of them were more interested in passion projects and the future than what they are doing in the bigger publishing run books presently.
I also had so many WTF are the big two thinking conversations that I thought I was a Tron literally inside a message board. Many an indie publisher will be very happy in coming months at the invasion of talent looking to pillage their pages. I won’t drop the dime on any one creator; just know guys that if you could talk about this stuff amongst your circles you WILL find kindred spirits of frustration.
Comics – The Big Guns
Neal Adams was on hand basically enjoying the just deserved spoils for his years of labor. Always willing to look up from commissions to share a story or an anecdote, he is the true pinnacle of what the golden comic years should be. His signature on material also isn’t that highly marked up. SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI was pretty close to retail. “Well, what about the creators that charge nothing Optimous?” They are rare and most are still working or talked about names.
This is the art of JG Jones. While I know his fame is steeped in DC and BKV I have a hard spot for Emma Frost. JG is working on something and will reveal it soon. He told me, but stole my phone and then slipped me a forget me now pill.
Jim Calafiore of X-MEN and many a’ other book fame, was on hand featuring a book he recently did with Gail Simone called LEAVING MEGAGOPOLIS. Spurred by fan outrage around the canceling of SECRET SIX, Jim and Gail decided to write a tale they wanted to tell about the safest city on earth until the heroes one day go bat shit. The part that intrigued me the most was the fact the entire story is told from the vantage point of normal folks trying to escape the city, which basically twists a one note concept into some high concept survival horror. Volume II is being talked about now.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – you want the pre 52 DC than look no further than INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US. Don’t be faked into thinking this is some video game tie-in bullshit, this story packs punch and Mike S. Miller’s art is just as much to do with this success as Taylor’s words. Mike let slip that this book will most likely encompass the five year span that kicks off to the video game (we are in year two right now, so still plenty of time folks) and we might be seeing this book delivered weekly soon in the coming months.
I felt really really bad for the things I said about MY LITTLE PONY on this Ain’t It Cool – Poptards – Spoiler Alert – @Mark_L_MILLER – robpatey.com – @mattadlercomics podcast after meeting the book’s delightful artist Agnes Garbowska.
Now, for all my bitching about lack of booth size presence, I will give credit to Zenescope for once again buying a sizeable footprint of space. While there is the cheesecake, this is cheese steak local company who I always give a chance before I get dismissive about some lovely lady lumps. I really really enjoyed the WONDERLAND SERIES, and I’ll admit bias here because I wrote the back-up stories, but also Mark Miller’s JUNGLE BOOK.
Ethan Van Sciver and Greg Capullo were also on hand. Ethan’s table was buzzing with ton’s of commission work and perusing so I didn’t want to halt a man making money and Greg’s line was 14 miles long. Sorry, I wait in no lines.
Comics – Small Budgets, BIG IDEAS
Again, the ¼ of the hall that was devoted to comics was comprised of 98% indie books. I didn’t cover them all; in fact I didn’t cover many this year. Frankly, for the first time I was discerning and editorialized my coverage as I was investigating.
I see a pattern after covering this beat for the past six years, there are some books that will live and die here. Hey, you dig rolling this way and you can profit off your footprint, rock on. I simply can’t cover the same story year after year. This is a cool one and our first foray into the aforementioned indie prevalence, THE LAST WEST is an awesome premise and a quite finely polished book for rolling off presses not fueled by movie or mouse money. What if one family drove all human innovation and then said fuck you once they almost gave us the bomb? A 2014 very different than the one we know. Co-writer, Lou Iovino said Volume II is coming. Oh, for all of you upstarts looking for a best-practice Kickstarter template, feast your peepers on Lou and crew.
ADAM12 is a book set in hometown Philly, an apocalyptic Chinese run Philly where a man is seeking to reignite the Garden of the Eden, but still Philly. Written by Gigio Longo with art by a fellow IUP theater grad, Nick Suders, you can catch the first five issues of the six-issue arc now and the final chapter soonJustin .
TRAILER PARK OF TERROR is my one exception to greeting show staples. This redneck Tales from the Crypt has spawned a pretty well done movie and is a really really fun read with a ton of volumes for noobs to dive into. I’ll also admit a personal bias in the fact I am very good friends with one of the stars in the movie, the very talented Trish Stahl who plays Larlene.
Artist Bill McKay describes NIGHT OF THE 80’S UNDEAD as George Romero meets John Hughes. 3 issues in with fourth on the horizon, I don’t know any child of Reagan who wouldn’t have been drawn to the cover with a zombie filled Delorean just as I was. However, it takes a super nerd to see the Justice League International homage on issue 2.
I was drawn to Christine Kerrick’s booth because it was such a serene juxtaposition to the rest of the sensory cacophony. Her comic EMPIRE with the beautifully drawn ascending bride on the cover was another strong pull. EMPIRE is a 3 issues series about a girl tragically falling in love amidst the events from the Book of Revelations.
Primal Paper Comics heralds from Norfolk Virginia and are self described as basically Image with no money. I was able to speak with Justin Cristelli about his title RED KNIGHT. This is the story of a man who was once one of the best superheroes until the day the government required a license. I also spoke with Jeff Hewitt about his book THE ENDS. This is about superheroes at the end of the world, the C and D list heroes since all the good ones have left town. What I like best about PRIMAL PAPER is they are doing this for the love of the game with the appropriate level of dedication. You need more than A book folks for a comic series, the boys at primal are well on their way with many months of material.
Quirk Books is at the end merely because they are not quite a comic publisher. They are however firmly steeped in geek and even more awesome they are local to old city. Their books like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS are awesome reads and deserve every bit of the national recognition that put them on the map. They also have a new book called THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING that had one guy dressed as Blade and about as smart as Wesley Snipes afro believing he might actually touch a real woman.
I have nothing against merch, in fact I love the world of branded items and statues. Sadly, I don’t have the square footage for cases and my freakish form means there is never a t-shirt or well…anything that can properly draw my 6’ 5” frame. This never stops my eye from wandering though. Now, despite my aversions, I am still aware and the marketer in me marveled at the utter stupidity of this year’s vendors.
Here’s a tip, if you are selling something not in the realm of geekdom you still MUST have hot girls who are dressed in geek like fare. I’m talking to you foot insoles or iPhone paraphernalia. And even if you are hocking geek wares, still get some hot girls because folks like this dude, who was selling something Bluetooth related had more people in his stand than the rotund steampunk booth across the aisle. </sermon off>
Stylinonline.com impressed me the most with their wide variety of wares. I hooked in by their several hundred feet of belts honoring all realms of geekdom. Dr. Who, superheroes, Sci-Fi…anything to keep pants aloft and butt cracks hidden.
Then, like any typical man, I saw stylinonline’s revealing lady ware. Since my cross-dressing has been relegated these days to Sundays and Christmas, my attention was easily drawn to these awesome robes. Be an Orange Lantern, be Robin, but most of all be comfy in these warm wraps. And yes, I felt the material. Where most merch is about as soft as cardboard, these were actually a really high thread count with a bit of down thrown in for good measure.
The Drive Away
It was another great year at Wizard World Philadelphia, especially now that I have accepted the fact comics will no longer be the draw they once were. Honestly, I respecy Wizard immensely for not building false expectations. New York Comic Con has swung their percentages as well away from comics (percentage people, not raw numbers), but still keep the moniker in the title.
The world of geek is wide and vast and I will still valiantly try to get fans of geek TV shows into the comic book afterlife (talking to you bitchy chick dressed like Jane from Firefly who looked at me like I threw up on her shoes for even insinuating the continuity is moving forward at Dark Horse). Just as I was once entreated to watch an episode of Dr. Who after reviewing a comic book written by an episode author.
Here are just some of the people I’ve helped already! Submit your questions in the comments or via email – because this is the face of caring!
Your favorite comic book movie & why?
Great Question Alex,
The amount of love and care for the genres of comics and movies bleeds off of every frame.
Also, this was the one when they realized Margot Kidder was really a transgender that only had long hair so they actually got Supes a love interest with female reproductive parts.
Second favorite, Supergirl (on mute without pants on).
Can you answer my question with your actual favorite comic book movie? I know it’s not the #ASKSROB way, but I would like to know.
Great Question Alex,
And honestly I kind of did with SUPERMAN III. I read so many comics each week, the movies are more about the experience than the movies themselves.
Honestly, with every comic movie I can point out scene-by-scene where it was done in comics…and always better.
My mind makes everything move in a comic, brings the pages to cinematic life. So when I sit in the movies even the tits crazy ones like AVENGERS I still ind of go, “meh…”
SUPERMAN III was one of the many times, and one of the best, where Bob Patey and laughed our asses for two straight hours MST3King the shit out of the horrible acting and plot. Other notable favorites were SUPERMAN IV and GODFATHER III.
If i had to pick though, a comic movie I’ll watch any time it comes on, it’s a tie between BATMAN the original and BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT. I love the joker, both Ledger and Nicholson in their ways captured the embodiment of insanity for two different generations.
There…serious enough for you?
Great Question Leo,
They all fucking suck. They distill the charters down to basic tropes and ride that one trick trip pony to hokey town.
JLA/Avengers by Busiek is the one I find tolerable, merely because Busiek is such a brilliant writer.
UNCANNY X-FORCE 1
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Ron Garney
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Let’s make sure I cover all the bases. Sweet, baby, toddler, tween, teen, young adult, adult and resurrected American Mormon Jesus — this was a GREAT book.
I cried like a little girl when Remender’s run on this title ended. His swan song letter was more painful than the deluge of break-up letters I received in my youth. Over the course of 30 some issues the man transformed initial audience skepticism about a wetworks X-team into audience adoration. He delivered trans-dimensional travels, time bending heartache, laughter, love, and resurrections for some of our favorite and second string muties. Not only was it a wonderful insular title that used tongue-in-cheek banter to soften their morose missions. Each mission irrevocably and in my opinion for the better changed the X-Universe and the characters therein.
Well, that was then and this is now – Marvel NOW! to be exact, and I’m happy to report UNCANNY X-FORCE remains just as weird, bawdy and surprising as every single past issue. Some members like Psylocke and Fantomex remain, but we also now get fringe additions like Spiral and Puck, as well as old staples like Storm and the original bearer of the “M” concentration camp Tatt, Bishop.
This issue begins a heartbeat after where old X-FORCE left off; once again showing Marvel’s prowess to start anew without bitch slapping the old timers’ commitment to the Marvel U. Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock is the chief protagonist of this series. After losing her soul to the X-FORCE of old and her heart to the lobotomized Angel and rapscallion Fantomex, she took her big bag of aggression to the Jean Grey School for a change of pace. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out. Fortunately though, we get to see the douchetastic Quentin Quire get held up and psionic knife point, and we get to see Wolverine deliver headmaster hardness as he tells Betsy to find a new vocation than teaching. Garney’s visuals here were beautiful as this whole series of events is encapsulated in B&W pages with just a tinge of Betsy’s purple to accent each moment SIN CITY style.
UNCANNY X-FORCE isn’t a team with Wolverine doling out missions like Scott once did. Wolverine basically tells Betsy to see the world for her own benefit, and merely suggests a good place to start finding herself once again. This new coming together is more a random happenstance of events than a cohesive gathering of abilities. That may sound like a bad idea, but once Betsy runs into Storm, then Puck, and then Spiral inside a club where a little mutant girl is doling out mind-ecstasy one Wi-Fi tab at a time, you realize how passé the mission structure truly was for these true rebels.
This book delivers “the funny” in droves; there wasn’t a page of this book that didn’t make me laugh out loud. I find midgets hilarious to begin with, but horny midgets are pure comedic gold. Humphries has Puck deliver on my expectations one bawdy comment at a time.
Actually, I take back my last statement; there were two pages where I didn’t laugh. One was the appearance of Bishop as he travels back from tomorrow. This just confused me since we get no indication how he’s going to be thrown into the team mix. But this is a serial, so mystery is simply part of the equation. The other part, while I didn’t laugh, my sick twisted side absolutely loved. We’ll all remember that Fantomex was discovered to be three beings at the end of UNCANNY X-FORCE Vol. 1, and each of the three were finally given their own meat-skin to wear. Evil F, Regular F and Lady F appeared and then the series promptly ended. Well, while not teamed yet with the rest of the gang, Regular F and Lady F are back to thieving…and in an amazing last page surprise…tongue tangling after every successful score. How will they fit into the big plot? Don’t know yet and don’t care. Any book that takes masturbation to such literal levels is my Huckleberry even if the purpose isn’t clear.
I’m an X-whore. I give a lot of leeway to X-titles simply because I love the universe and the progression of the characters. Now that we are balls deep into Marvel NOW! though, I can see where my loyalties will lie moving forward and where non-Xphiles should look if they just want a taste of X-Goodness. X-fans should read it all because the synergy of plots and characters between titles right now is flawless. Non X-Fans, or X-Dalliances should be had in the following order:
- ALL NEW X-MEN (The original 5 coming to today has been creepy, heartwarming and welcoming to anyone who has ever read an X-title whether a NOW or not.)
- UNCANNY X-FORCE (This is actually a great book for people who traditionally don’t like the X-MEN. Again, they ain’t a team and they are marching to the beat of a whole new drum.)
- WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN (The initial guffaws that turned off serious readers have lightened, and each character, whether teacher or student, have found their own voice and interesting way of contributing to one another’s lives and life at the Jean Grey School.)
- UNCANNY AVENGERS (Red Skull lobotomized Xavier and absorbed his brain – nuff said)
- DEADPOOL (At least for this arc he’s fighting resurrected dead Presidents who feel we can’t manage the country right – political and juvenile FTW.)
- CABLE & X-FORCE (Don’t know their purpose, so I bailed after issue one.)
- X-MEN LEGACY (David fighting his personalities is like meeting a bunch of heroes you don’t know or care about – pass)
If you’ve been out of the X-fold, come back because it is NOW truly different.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Reviewer: Rob Patey ( aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
There are days I’m ashamed of my fangeezer status. We are a cantankerous lot who find a visceral thrill in bitching about comics and then bitch about the fact we always have to bitch about comics. X-FACTOR 250 is the body of proof on which I lay my claim.
We bemoan crossovers, foil covers, polybags and price hikes for a few extra pages of content: basically any tactic the publishers use to give landmark issues that extra special feeling of what can only be described as gravitas. X-FACTOR 250, a number of importance to some, for some reason, came with none of these trappings. While David has not had the power to keep every issue of X-FACTOR immune to “epic” feel or events from editorial mandates, he has done a very good job of doing it in a “just the tip” approach to keep this wonderful book insulated from the usual shenanigans that seem to prey upon mutant books like Sentinels of upsell.
Yesterday, I stood in my local comic ship with X-FACTOR in hand and uttered what I thought to be the innocuous statement “Isn’t this awesome, here’s issue 250 and it’s just like any other month.” Slowly the nerd heads turned, mouths white with foam from rabid fanmandom. Suddenly a lone voice was brave enough to direct towards my 6’ 5” frame, “Really? Really? It’s issue 250. They should have done something special.”
Listen you mealy mouthed fucker…
The fact that there even is a number 250 in this world of reboots, resets and reNows is special. The fact that one man has essentially married every issue of this title since the early 90’s is special. The fact that the series has stopped and started several times, but always felt like it’s been around is special. And the character progression of Jamie, Monet, Rhane – hell the whole gang – is so damn special, I can’t think of another comic that’s even come close to this true progression of life being reflected on the page. Tired of trapped in amber? You’re not reading X-FACTOR.
True fans of X-FACTOR will realize the specialness of this issue from the cover. The Hell on Earth War hath begun. Why is this special? Well, it all boils down to David’s unique and some will say arrogant ability to plant plot seeds years before they are ready to sprout. I say “arrogance” as an absolute compliment. If for some reason David had to leave this book, I pity the writer who takes over. With the way David germinates seemingly throw-away details, only he can truly know what the future does and should hold.
This month’s seed turned to sprout is the return of Tier, the wolf-baby Rhane Sinclair shunned shortly after birth and the afterbirth attack from hellfire born demons.
A few months ago Davidites will remember Rhane Sinclair gave birth to her wolf/demon child, Tier, after much ado about everything. Now, Tier has returned as a fully functioning 12 year old. He’s still being hunted by the mighty morphin Darwin and X-FACTOR is finally joining the fray.
This issue is rife with David’s panache for cultural references and witty dialog, even in light of the almost non-stop action that starts with Darwin hunting Tier and climaxes with the demons that plagued his birth coming forth to take on X-FACTOR so Tier can help usher in the end of all things (that’s why Darwin is so assed up the kid is still alive).
This issue also throws in a nice twist with the return of Guido, I have the worst yet best name in comics, Strong Guy, returning. Long fans will remember Guido’s recent return from the dead via the newfound resurrection powers of Layla Miller. Some say these resurrected folks come back soulless although this is the first time someone has switched from the side of angels. Guido storms X-FACTOR in an epic brouhaha with fists swinging. We’re not sure why yet, but that’s the allure of comics, the unfolding mystery as the story continues.
PSA – HELP PETER
I don’t normally do this, but I’ve read and enjoyed Mr. David’s work for years and as I mentioned, I feel he is the ONLY one who can keep the X-FACTOR gang together in a way I want to read. Peter suffered a stroke before the holidays and while he has insurance, the scumbags that run the system still gouge you on co-pays. Therapy and rehab are especially costly since some bean counter (not a doctor) determines rehabilitation an ancillary activity to true recovery.
If you want to help Peter, buying this wonderful jumping on point will help, but royalties are slow coming in. Same goes for buying any Marvel trades. Below is a list of was to help in order of the most immediate way to get the money to Peter and his family. This comes direct from the lovely Mrs. David
- Donate direct via PayPal
- Buy some of Peter’s beautiful prose e-books from Crazy 8 Press
- Buy anything off of Amazon from this link.
God speed Peter!
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool news)
As with all my reviews I try to push aside my personal proclivities and focus on the execution of the title versus whether, “would I buy this?” I also try to think about the money strapped collector who simply can’t afford every book on the shelf, and this mantra has never been more prevalent in the new cross-pollinated Marvel Now world of X-MEN & AVENGER co-mingling.
I have always been on the side of X versus A, even before Marvel asked us to pick sides earlier this year. Mutants are my thing and as such I love a world where more mutie titles stuff the shelves. I don’t even mind those damn AVENGERS getting all up in my X-titles, in fact I outright welcome then in their own UNCANNY book especially when Havok gets to call the shots in all mutie affairs, which is exactly how CABLE & X-FORCE opens.
Hopeless opens this book right with five of the new X-FORCEians standing amongst a sea of bodies. Cable, Colossus, Domino and Dr. Nemesis stand toe-to-toe with UNCANNY AVENGERS before a gunshot escape and we are whisked away to the famed “a few days earlier” to unravel the events that led us to this point. It was great to see an underdog escape the AVENGERS and I give huge props to Hopeless for having Alex acknowledge and try to use their loose familial ties to persuade Cable to come peacefully.
Personally, I’ve really missed Cable. I know he has his detractors, but when he’s not a mutant messiah or raising a mutant messiah in the future, he is the Bruce Willis of comics. A man who must always take the hard road forward since he knows the easy path often leads to mutant demise. Also, like his Father (before the Phoenix induced breakdown) he’s a natural leader.
This is truly a back to roots book, with Cable and this new team living inside an abandoned ship in the middle of the dessert. Hopeless spends a fair amount of time reuniting Hope and Cable after Cable’s perceived death and Hope’s reigniting of the mutie gene across the globe. Hell hath no fury like a daughter scorned, and with Hope’s exile into the boredom of a human foster family and Cable’s lack of contact since his return scorn abounds on many pages.
Being an exposition tale and with Hopeless’ backwards story approach there are many puzzle pieces that have yet to fit together (or perhaps I simply have a gap in memory). The only clear membership on the team is Dr. Nemesis who Cable hijacks at gunpoint to help him with the side effects of losing the techno-organic virus. Forge’s presence is still an unknown. Domino, well she goes together with Cable more naturally than Honey Boo Boo with illiteracy. Colossus is still a delta as his only appearance is on the first few pages, we still have no idea how this member of the Phoenix Five actually joins the new team.
I’m OK with questions for now, but this better be a short arc because a cool line-up only gets you so far. Purpose is a necessity, if you don’t believe me, simply look at the rapid dwindling love for JUSTICE LEAGUE.
I would be remiss not to mention Mr. Larroca’s contribution to this title. Any monkey with a pen can emulate characters that have been around for a generation, it takes a true artist though, to make a static image move and Larocca is a wizard in this regard of Daily Prophet proportions. Hope’s tantrum, Domino’s escape act, in every instance blurring is used to make the panel whiz by.
I won’t say CABLE & X-FORCE is for everyone. If you are only a casual mutie observer with enough room in your wallet for just one X-Book, that book should be ALL NEW X-MEN. If you’re a mutie zealot like yours truly though, this branching of mutant wetworks is exactly what the Dr. Nemesis ordered.
Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
While I sill think the brand “Marvel Now” reeks of Marvel’s Mouseallini master, I can’t help but marvel at the enjoyment and ease in which this refresh has laced up and kicked the ass of the ever popular reboot.
For those who say nothing has changed, you’re wrong, they have. I will be more than willing to have the debate with you in comments or email. It’s a shift in tone, style and yes accessibility that holds a steep reverence for the old (at least for X-Men), but also welcomes new readers with open arms (and I’ll say that for more than just X-MEN). There are movie fixtures in place (most notably with IRON MAN), but I would much rather take this Balls In approach to embracing the popular perception of titles than the staccato intrusions that occurred in the middle of ongoing story arcs (looking at you and the black suit Spider-Man 3).
From character to story ALL NEW X-MEN is really the all old X-MEN. But it’s still…exciting…haunting in parts and fresher than a vat of Summer’s Eve.
As the cover implies the original Fab 5 of Mutantdom are going to come face-to-face with their future terroristic selves. Yes, terroristic. Xavier is dead in body and ideology. Magneto’s dream won. Scott Summer’s dalliances with the Phoenix Force perverted him into that which he once despised most – he is now the shadow of Magneto and God help the human that gets in his way.
Before we get to the reintroduction of the 60’s group, Bendis opens with the most impactful introduction since Wheeden’s awesome ASTONISHING bedroom scene. Hank McCoy is about to undergo his third mutation, but this time his nine lives might have run out. Middle Age is a bitch and what one could once handle sometimes proves fatal. It’s a choice some will question, but most will scoff at claiming even Hank dies “he’ll be back.” I don’t know. There’s been a commitment to dirty mutie death in recent years and I actually believe this countdown clock of Damocles hanging over the series is real.
If this series has one simple mantra, it will be the search for salvation. Hank’s penance for robbing the world of his genius and heart far too soon, and the mantra of the Jean Gray school to redeem the soul of Scott.
Just as in that first issue 50 years ago, bad mutants (Scott, Magneto, Emma) and good mutants (Kitty, Bobby, Hank, Storm) are searching to help and recruit the latest outcropping of baby muties that were reactivated by the Phoenix Force. What’s interesting is the perspective time brings to the proceedings. There’s empathy now for the bad guys that makes the gray moral boundary of Magneto’s eye-for-an-eye approach inches ever closer to white than black. Clearly Hank and crew are on the side of angels since they respect all life, but the way they lose out on getting to two new mutants before Scott’s crew makes one start to wonder when pacifist simply becomes whiny loser. Bendis solidifies this theory with the juxtaposition of non-stop action in the Bad X-Men scenes versus the heavily talking head moments at the Jean Gray School.
Realizing the damned if they stop Scott and dammed if they don’t conundrum the good Xies are stuck in, Hank throws a hail Mary through the space-time continuum to get a young Summers to talk his self darkly off the Hitler ledge. By the way Bravo to Immonen for blending today’s art sensibilities with that of comics Paleolithic era on theses pages, a touch few more lines to the original five and a few less to Hank made the meeting naturally jarring – that’s a good thing.
Being a dirtie mutie lover, I love creative powers and our two new entrants into club mutie are no Maggot or Beak (power wise I mean, yes I love them as characters). We have a young lady that can now stop time in a controlled space and a healer…make that resurrecter actually.
I would ask that even Bendis haters pick this book up. I would say it’s his most comicky – least David Mamet like title to date. Very few trail off sentences and I would say even less quips. Bobby’s a little heavy handed with the passage of time delivery, but I think it was necessary for any of the next generation picking up X-Men for the first time.
For all of us old timers, the passage of time was clearly exhibited in the first few pages. And became even sadder with each passing moment. The X-MEN are in a crisis of world domination, but also friendship and faith.
Oh, one final rant if I may? I insist on character’s evolving. If Scott Summers is now “evil” so be it, but I insist it sticks. And If he ever comes back from the dark side it’s evolutionary, not a fucking parlor trick like mind control or dare I say sleeper Skull. He’s viewed the universe now through the eyes of a God; it would make anyone more of a “big-picture” thinker. That’s all I need.
Welcome Mr. Bendis, stay the course sir and I think this arc at least will be playing in such revered territory as Dark Phoenix and Days of Future Past.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #25
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche)
With this latest issue of ASTONISHING X-MEN, for the first time in fifteen years I can I feel a sense of cohesion within the X-universe. This phenomenal inaugural issue by STORMWATCH savior Warren Ellis coupled with Brubaker’s latest run on UNCANNY X-MEN, make me feel like I’m part of an X-Men Renaissance reminiscent of the early 90’s. While there were a few minute editorial speed bumps surrounding this issue, I’ll forgive any trespasses to watch Ellis meticulously craft the foundation that moves the X-Men in a familiar yet all new direction.
In the early 90’s the X-universe ran like a well oiled Blackbird. There was never a question as to the roles played by each title. You had the main team in UNCANNY, the spillovers for the disciples of Xavier found a home in X-MEN (yes, I know there were like five covers for issue one, but lets move on), the rebels operated under the X-FORCE tag , and X-FACTOR, as it does today, wove tales on its own plane of existence.
There was a glimmer of hope in Morrison and Quitely’s run on X-MEN for continued success, but then out of nowhere we were bombarded with the mass bedlam of mutant explosions, mystical genocides and some horseshit about a mutant messiah (where the hell is that kid anyway?). I give the team at Marvel credit for trying to shake up forty years worth of status quo, but in the process they turned their universe into an utter state of disarray. Each title was embroiled in a battle of crossovers, never able to tell its own story, and relegating the mutants we have grown to love to fountains of exposition or catch-up dialogue. What had been lost were the diverse and rich characters, the unique voices possessed by each member of the team. Every fan knows that Scott Summers should be stoic, The Beast, flip, yet wise. Bobby Drake, douchebag, etc…when you take away this element, frankly you take away the X-Men.
ASTONISHING up until this point relished in its ability to be apart from other X-titles in every sense. From the bi-annual publishing schedule to flinging the team halfway across the galaxy in the Breakworld storyline, it was assured that they would be separate from all other X-shenanigans. No more. Ellis brings ASTONISHING back into the fold full force. In fact, unless you read the last trippy issue of UNCANNY you might wonder what the hell is going on.
I know this is supposed to be a review of ASTONISHING, but thanks to this title being ahead of schedule for the first time ever, we need to do a brief recap of the events in UNCANNY and piece together the rest since all will truly be revealed in the yet to be released UNCANNY #500.
Ellis shows us in this issue that the team can have fun somewhere other than on the softball field. Actually, the X-Men finally smarten up and decide to forsake the annihilation-prone Graymalkin Lane residence altogether to set up camp in San Francisco. In the issues leading up to the landmark #500 of UNCANNY (maybe, I’m hoping), the X-Men had thwarted the dealings of a nefarious individual that wanted to keep the city in a permanent acid flashback to the summer of love. In gratitude, the city establishes a pro-mutant policy and offers the team a safe haven on its golden shores. In return, Xavier’s brood must help in times of crisis.
Naturally, crisis ensues. What set the crisis in this issue apart from the norm was the casting away of the mutant-of-the-week storyline. In the first true first acknowledgement of mutants being once again the minority, the only ones carrying the X-gene are Cyclops, Storm, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Armor and Beast. Apparently the central danger is extraterrestrial in origin and all of the clues to unraveling the mystery involve a trip to a spaceport scrapheap nestled in some third-world toilet.
Again though, while I find the story engaging, what truly hooked me is the fact that Ellis has brought personality back to the X-Men. Scott broods and laments his seeming happiness, Emma acknowledges the disdain felt towards her by returning teammates, Armor pines for a new name while also trying to conjure one for the team’s new base of operations, and Wolverine is…surly. And all together they once again feel like human beings instead of plot devices.
Simone Bianchi paints a damn pretty canvas. The cover art is just short of astounding and each panel of the book follows suit. The heavy lines used to render each panel harmoniously jived with the team’s new subterranean lair and the fact that mutant existence has been thrust back into the shadow of humanity.
To finally see ASTONISHING and UNCANNY have their own voices yet still offer cohesion outside the context of an “over-arching” event or convoluted cross-over is not only refreshing, it has restored my faith in the altruistic concept of just delivering a damn good story. Sales be damned.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)
Let me just start by saying that this is the best damn X-book on the shelves. I will gladly fight a hulking mass of Whedonite or a razor-backed Brubakerin to defend this title’s superiority over ASTONISHING or the regular X-titles. Always on time and never too mired in editorial mandates for crossovers and upsells, this second stringer in X-continuity has consistently delivered sharp writing, complex characters and a new take on the hackneyed old mutant team dynamic by never getting lost in convention.
Some will call this latest series to don the X-FACTOR title a detective book; others might say it’s a representation (and perhaps a reflection) of a society in decay; and finally aging fanboys see it as a chance to revisit characters they fell in love with sixteen years ago. It’s the rare title that can cater to so many audiences without pandering to any one demographic group.
For anyone that has shunned this book and can’t afford trades in this trying economy, this latest issue is the perfect time to jump aboard as the team from Mutant Town gets a fresh start by ripping off the crusted purple scabs of old wounds.
I was terrified when this book was launched. I saw positioning Jaime “Multiple Man” Madrox as the story’s central character equivalent to building a million dollar movie franchise on the waifish shoulders of Corey Feldman. This was a fair impression considering the last time David helmed X-FACTOR back in the early 90s Jamie Madrox and Guido “Strong Guy” Carosella served as The Two Coreys of the team, never taking anything seriously and serving merely to interject quips during dire circumstances. While I loved these characters as a kid, even way back then I could only handle them in small doses, anxiously waiting for the panels when Forge or their government handler Val Cooper would squash the “funny” and interject some drama, tension and rising action.
Then David surprised the hell out of me. This new version of X-FACTOR was a complete 180 degree turn from the book I remembered, because somewhere, somewhen, Jaime Madrox grew up. Gone was the man-child that would pound his armpit to create doppelgangers to help him bang chicks and perform mundane life activities like taint hygiene. No, this version of Jaime Madrox is a man in search of his soul, wrought with all of the introspective baggage of a college freshman who just took their first intro to psych class, and now creating copies of him self to learn about the intricacies of life in the shortest time possible through osmosis.
As I stated earlier, X-FACTOR at its core was established as a detective book. After the mystical genocide of M-Day, Madrox and some of our old favorites like Strong Guy, Syren, Monet St. Croix and Rhane Sinclaire, set up camp in the ghetto that was Mutant Town to help keep the peace and in the process play Blues Clues for violent acts against current and ex-muties. While the cases have been entertaining, it’s truly been the character dynamics that have driven this piece. The insertion of the mystical and all knowing Layla Miller has been one of the new character additions that I found grating at first, but she has truly grown into her own as the issues progressed. What lies in store for her future and her relationship to Jamie Madrox is just one of the reasons this book is a “first read” when I get home from my LCS.
Issue #32 serves as a complete decimation of the old and offers a nostalgic new springboard for the series going forward. After the destruction of Auschwitz, I mean Mutant Town, at the hands of Arcade, Val Cooper descends from the cockpit of her metal mutant protecting machines to offer X-Factor an ultimatum and a job. Just when I had thought that the merry mutants would bite at this new offer taking us back to the government controlled X-Factor of yore, Madrox springs a coup d’état leaving egg on the face of our government and in the process completely closes the first chapter of this team that is now on the run.
I should also mention that De Landro’s chalky pencils add an additional noir vibe to the book without ever being too realistic or too esoteric. This book is about living underground and De Landro perfectly accompanies that theme without making the book too damn dark too see, which sadly seems to be the norm these days. Note to artists everywhere: the use of shadow does not absolve you from providing detail in each scene.
I pity the fool that is handed X-FACTOR if or when Peter David steps down. These are his characters and this is his substratum within the grand scheme of X-books. If this book were to survive within the hands of another writer, they would need to bring to the table biting wit and complex character introspection all within the context of a meaty story. None of these are easy feats and thank god for the time being we have Peter David, who can accomplish all of this with seemingly little effort.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. Optimous is looking for artistry help, critical feedback and a little industry insight to get his original book AVERAGE JOE up, up and on the shelves. What if the entire world had super powers? Find out in the blog section of Optimous’ MySpace page to see some preview pages and leave comments.
UNCANNY X-MEN 18
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
This is the first cross-over where I should have been reading two books at once, because quite frankly, Gillen is one seamless mofo. UNCANNY X-MEN 18 reads like pages within the pages of the “final” battle and Rise of Dark Scott Summers over in AvX.
Ingeniously Gillen melds the two events by using UNCANNY to show us a lovely dinner party between Scott and Emma on the psychic plane, while their bodies get iced, electrocuted, and Star Shield bitch slapped in the real world. This is truly crossovering done right. I never once felt lost in AvX before I read this issues, but for those of us who wear Team X-Men branded Underoos this was a deliciously sadistic deep dive into the psyches of living Gods.
I’ve read and owned every single issue of UNCANNY X-MEN, and have box upon box of runs in all the other X-permutations that have trickled down Marvel’s leg over the years. At this point I’m like an abused wife; even when the X-MEN are bad to me, and I know from the writing or art they don’t love me anymore, I still hang in there because I know with a nerd’s love they can be good again. There have been some horrific issues in recent years, some clustfuckery with a capital C. Not everyone can write X-MEN, but thankfully the Gillen rises above the pencil wielding troglodytes. X-MEN is all about differentiation of voice. Well, Gillen’s more schizophrenic than Sally Field and Margot Kidder combined because he perfectly captures the gazillion characters living on cloud city Utopia and has since day one of the renumbering earlier this year.
There’s nothing wrong with the X-MEN under Gillen’s charge, I honestly think he’s one of the best to tackle the series. Yet, people still have been rallying against AvX. Frankly, I just can’t understand the hate. Have we been here before? Absolutely we have. The Phoenix force has been a staple in X-men for forty years or so. But this isn’t a valid argument. Comics should be a recycling of past canon placed into a modern context. These Easter Eggs from the past used to be something we lived for. So what changed? The deluge of creator-owned titles out there might have something to do with it. New ideas are always more enticing than the comforts of home, but what these new titles lack is history. And in many cases they are a mere pastiche of these original Children of the Atom. Personally, I’ll take the personalities I know versus learning about characters who will most likely be around for only seven issues until the author sells his IP to Hollywood or moves on to a script writing gig somewhere else in tinsel town. There’s a history here and I want to see that history come back again in a new way. That mission was accomplished in my opinion.
The other side of the hate debate centers on some poor decision making on the part of both the X-MEN and the AVENGERS. This was most prevalent in the beginning of the series, when it was a battle of ideologies versus a battle against former heroes possessed by a cosmic force. I’ll give the haters some wiggle room here. Aaron architected himself into a corner, and didn’t provide the best rationale from the side of the X-MEN for why they did not want set a Hope Trap on the other side of the universe. I understood it because I had been with the X-MEN since Scarlett With uttered, “No more mutants.” Essentially the X-Men will do anything within their power to reignite their race and right now Hope is the only light at the end of that tunnel. Also, if you think about the endgame, what if they did give Hope to the Phoenix force, she got gobbled up and the fucker still headed for the big blue marble in the sky. Put that in your star spangled pipe and smoke it Captain American’t.
I won’t deny the fact I’m biased. I have always been far more X than A, but part of that is by Marvel design. MARVEL NOW promises to close this great editorial chasm with the mash-ups of UNCANNY AVENGERS and so forth, so we’ll see. For now though, the dividing lines are clear and that’s truly the point of AvX and the subsequent teeth gnashing between Scott and Cap. At certain points, you can shoot holes in both of their arguments, showing no one, absolutely NO ONE, has an answer in the face of imminent destruction. Grasping at straws was all anyone could do until the Phoenix Force consumed the now defunct Phoenix Five.
The X-MEN felt better to me when the Phoenix Five was outside the fray of the AvX battle like the last Sinister World storyline, however I knew this time would be short lived. The X-Men in charge of the entire world will never work in the long run, even if they make it a better place. Like the Phoenix, you can only raze for so long before you are left with nothing and the Marvel universe could never sustain such destruction. Consequences aside, this was a great issue. To see the last vestiges of Scott and Emma’s humanity stripped away was a great conclusion for what was, and a strong catalyst for tomorrow.