Welcome to Comic Sense, a weekly look at some of the best and worst of what the comic industry has to offer. This week the shelves were full of X-Books, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on. Mutie haters go no further, it’s Comic Sense X-Men Edition. (Note: X-Force 5.1 also came out this week, but it was sold out at my shop and won’t as a result will not be featured.)
Uncanny X-Men Annual is the first of a three part story dealing with a team of X-Men accidentally travelling to the Negative Zone. Following the recent events in New Mutants, Cyclops has Madison Jeffries build a portal to limbo so that the X-Men can more easily monitor the demonic realm. The machine however malfunctions and explodes, sending Cyclops, Hope, Namor and Dr. Nemesis to the Negative Zone as a result. The proceeding story is actually fairly good. While Hope can be overly whiny at times, Namor and Nemesis’s interactions, as well as Cyclops reminding Hope of an important truth about Cable’s past, were stand out reasons as to why this book works.
Aside from having a well thought out story, the nature of the book and the way the story will be told is very intriguing. The next parts of the story will be told in Steve Rogers: Super Soldier Annual, and Namor the First Mutant Annual – both fairly decent but under the radar books. Cyclops and Hope being captured by Blastaar in the books final pages set up the perfect cliffhanger for next issue, which fans will no doubt be interested in checking out.
Nick Bradshaw’s art is actually very story appropriate as well. He does a great job representing an alien reality in the Negative Zone, and Blastaar’s warriors are bright and imaginative. Some of his faces are at times somewhat odd looking and disproportionate, but aside from that his work on this book is impressive.
This book’s main weakness is one that has been a running theme in Uncanny in the last few months. Once again we find ourselves following a team of X-Men that is not only small, but strangely different then what fans of the series have come to expect over the years. While Namor, Nemesis, and Hope are all welcome additions to the team, it would be nice to see another classic character or two thrown into the fray as well. Despite this shortcoming, Annual’s ability to recreate a more far out classic style X-Men tale still make it a book worth reading.
Over the last few weeks Marvel has been releasing one shots featuring characters from the X-Men First Class comic. They are fairly under the radar titles, as the publisher seems to be distancing themselves from the publication for the time being. The title of Iceman and Angel should be enough to give fans an idea of what they’re going to get with this book – two classic X-Men on a retro yet modern style adventure in their teen years. At the book’s opening, Warren and Bobby have found themselves stranded in New York for spring break. They are quickly called into action as Goom, the Thing from Planet X, has decided to invade the city.
It is important to preface this with the knowledge that this is meant to be a comedy book. Clevigner is one of the funnier writers in comics today, with his roots in comedy web comics, and it’s great to see him on a Marvel book even if it’s a C-list title like this. Key humor moments in the book include Angel realizing the futility of his powers against the gigantic Goom, and Iceman going on for several pages about how much cooler Angel’s wings would be if they were made of knives instead of feathers. The revelation of why the Avengers, Fantastic Four, or the Army could not come to the two X-Men’s assistance was also a stand out funny moment in the book.
Keeping with the lighthearted tone, Iceman and Angel eventually end up assisting Goom in finding his son (who it turns out is a college student on spring break in Cancun) and as a result find themselves in a far more optimal spring break location.
Pick up this issue if you’re ready to have a laugh or two at the expense of two of the X-Men’s founding members.
Somewhere Peter David just stubbed his toe, because this all X-Men edition of Comic Sense is including his X-Factor. This is a book which has done its best to stay as far away as possible from all things X over the last few years. But that’s alright as X-Factor has, and continues to, give a well deserved home to characters who would likely be overlooked in any other X Book. X-Factor is often times the best X-Book on the stands in any given week.
The star of this week’s issue however is not its merry mutants, but instead their latest employer, the Mayor of New York, J. Jonah Jameson. Jameson steals the spotlight as he comes to mutants defense at a public protest event, putting a bigoted man in his place and showing just how far the character has come since he stepped down as the outrageous editor in chief of the Daily Bugle. David’s Jameson is witty, quick, with just the right little bit of ruthlessness to work perfectly in this book. And while Jameson’s actions stand out the most, Banshee’s (Siryn) use of her powers in the motorcade are gushingly awesome, as is Monet taking a stand against bigotry, and Guido almost getting caught on the wrong side of the argument.
Events taking place with Madrox’s team also seem to infer that there is more to Shatterstar and Longshot’s relationship then meets the eye. A foreboding revelation that will likely blow up in Star and Rictor’s faces down the road.
Following a somewhat disjointed Las Vegas arc, David is definitely coming back strong with this latest arc. If you haven’t had a chance to, be sure to pick it up.
My first piece on Guerrilla Geek actually addressed what a let down I thought Generation Hope #1 was. Four issues and a special X-Men themed column later, and I’m reviewing issue #5. Luckily issue #5 is an improvement over #1, but it still struggles from some fundamental flaws.
The first and main flaw is the character of Hope. Hope is the time displaced ‘daughter’ of Cable, who is the time displaced cyborg son of Cyclops. It’s understandable that this girl has issues, however they’re pushed a little far in this book. While Hope has some great moments, especially her interactions with Charles Xavier and Magneto, there are others that are weaker, like her storming out of Emma Frost’s classroom. Plus, what does Hope know about herself that she’s not letting on? This book is riddled with Phoenix references that neither Cyclops, nor Emma Frost respond to or even seem to acknowledge.
Hope dealing with Xavier is a great moment, as is the chilling scene in which she receives a letter from none other then Hank McCoy. Her meeting scene with Cyclops is fantastic, as Scott seems to finally be giving Hope a little well earned leeway, although the end result is strange. From the conversation it seems that Cyclops tells Hope she can have a field team, just not one consisting of her Lights. However when she leaves, that seems to be exactly what she’s gotten. For a moment a vision of Hope leading an experienced team of X-Men flashed into my head, and was actually fairly appealing. Perhaps in the future Gillen will explore an idea like that.
For now it seems that Hope and her Lights will continue to (appropriately) be the focus of this book. Generation Hope has come a long way since its first issue, but as mentioned still suffers from some fairly noticeable flaws. Hopefully the book continues to get better over the next few months, as Kieron Gillen is very quickly becoming a major creative force in the X-Universe.