BRIEF COMIC REVIEWS
Each week I write comic reviews on the Google Plus Comic Book Community. This post contains last week’s reviews.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #68
Warbird has been a really strange focal character. Not really a mutant, so much as a member of the warrior Shi’ar race who is interested in art instead of murder. Since moving to the Jean Grey school she has discovered that art isn’t a sin, taught lessons and become friends with the cast. This issue shows Warbird at odds with the instincts she’s had and the instincts she’s grown so far. There’s a brief battle with Dark Beast and a monster made out of still-intact innocent people. Then Warbird’s pretty much instant attempt to kill him makes her question her place in the team. After a bit of a look at herself, she’s okay still being an art teacher and having friends, which is then turned into a kind of wrap-up for this series.
There’s some more housekeeping in the series, Iceman being told to buck his ideas up and stop moping about his recent evil turn. The future of Northstar is fairly vague and the only potential change is Gambit going out with Cecelia Reyes.
AVENGERS ARENA #16
Sixteen issues in and Arcade finally has most of the cast fighting each other. This issue in in theory a focus on Cammi, but she’s not been too deep of a character so the perspective alternates between the chaos in Murderworld and Deathlocket stuck with Arcade showing her and Apex the eventual breakdown of the rest of the cast. Since NYCC there have been a lot of spoilers about who makes it out of this series alive, so now the mystery is less who will live, but how the survivors will make it into the sequel series, Avengers Undercover. The Murderworld island story only really covers the misunderstandings, accidental murder and sudden outbreak of violence. The Arcade side provides some interesting insight into the world where Arcade’s watching all the entertainment.
Last issue the recognisable alien races surrendered, the Avengers contemplated surrender and Black Bolt blew up Attilan, himself and Thanos. This issue had a lot to deal with and with the tightly-segmented style of Infinity it manages to cover everything for a moment at a time.
The hook which I assume will kick off Inhumanity starts here as all the people with a bit of Inhuman DNA have gain super (or just freaky) powers. Thane, the most obvious sounding son of Thanos has his powers erupt and kill everyone in his hidden city. Thanos tries to get Black Bolt to talk which is possibly the first time anyone’s ever tried that. The Avengers send Thor to bend the knee to the Builders which goes about as well as expected… which was the Avengers plan all along. Now comes the time for the Avengers to kick butts and possibly unify these two separate stories which have carried on through the first two thirds of the series.
In the back of this comic is an essay by Kieron Gillen, explaining that this comic is the rebuttal to the alpha male fantasy of Frank Miller’s 300. The comic was the ultimate Miller obsession about how a small amount of tough guys didn’t need anyone to do anything and were superior for their utter manliness. This story is about the slaves who weren’t ever seen (although as Gillen notes they were fleetingly mentioned).
The story follows a tribe of Helot slaves, preyed upon ritualistically by the Spartans, butchered annually to keep them weak and then forced into servitude. Terpander, a mouthy cripple, is forced to drink or show a Spartan captain his injury. He drinks and starts mouthing off to the Spartans about the 300 and the ugly truths of their culture. It doesn’t go down well, and given the title, I assume he, Klaros and Damar will be the remaining survivors of the impending slaughter.
Former Brian Wood collaborator Ryan Kelly does the honours with the art, a radical departure from Local. The Spartans manage to be both extremely arrogant and hideously savage all at the same time. Like Uber, this series feels improved by the context provided in the essay at the back, but I feel it’ll be a series I’ll stick with unlike Uber which fit too well into Avatar’s muddy, bloody wheelhouse.
UNCANNY X-FORCE #12
The Revenant Queen story continues, but switching to the perspective of Spiral as she tracks down Ginny, the girl she’d been protecting in the first story arc. She makes her way to the cult of Revenants following clues to catch up with pretty much where X-Force are at, story-wise. Unlike X-Force she blusters her way in and has a horrible surprise when she discovers the identity of the Owl Queen. Both the identities, I guess. There’s a line of dialogue which is said completely seriously, which goes, “I’m as four-thousand year old immortal evil twin from the future.” I love comics.
Anyway, the Revenants are tied all the way back to Morrison’s invention of the Mummudrai which makes perfect sense, although these ones having the ability to manifest the ‘anti-self’ in others is a bit horrific. Spiral finally meets up with X-Force and as the villain reaches a high point of power, the team are finally gathered and able to bring the Owl Queen a much-deserved kicking.
X-MEN #6 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM CHAPTER 7)
The evil future X-Men (are they the Future Brotherhood?) have Cyclops, Angel and Jean Grey, who they’re taking to the time cube. Wolverine is finally suspicious of the group’s actions and asks Rachel to spy on them telepathically, but it’s too late as they attack the X-Men. I’m not 100% on what’s being revealed as their goal while good or evil appeared to be the same, they just flipped out when Beast and Iceman had gone and that provoked everything which led to the revelation of evil. Future Xavier might actually be Charles Xavier? That’s what I read into his line-read on page four, but it was left alone so I’m not sure. Jeanxorn puts a lot of the cast down easily, even with her mask apparently dampening her powers. Future Kitty is actually the son of Mystique and Wolverine, who stabs him in the gut and reminds the audience (as I don’t remember it being referred to in the crossover so far) that Wolverine can totally be killed. There might still be a second Wolverine out there thanks to Age of Ultron’s time travel shenanigans, so they do have a trap door fitted in case of Wolverine-death.
Then at the end the good Future X-Men arrive with Cyclops’ team to save the day. Will this time travel fiasco finally see both sides of the X-Men working together? If AvX taught us anything it’s the Cyclops and Wolverine are both so stubborn that they’ll probably find a way to declare it each others’ fault and get even more vindictive.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
It’s a difficult week to declare anything all that special. The books are good, but one doesn’t quite stand out from the others. X-Men #6 wins simply because we finally see the villains for what they are, and even though we all saw the art of Wolverine Jr, it was a surprise to see Future Kitty turn into him and gank his dad.