Now we’re finally going somewhere with this title. The first four issues really struggled to find a status quo, and now writer Kieron Gillen finally points this group of new mutants in a direction. I’m not sure if I really care about that direction, but it is a direction nonetheless. Hope and her crew are on Utopia and are beginning to settle, however, Hope begins to unsettle pretty quickly. There’s one thing that Cable didn’t teach Hope about being the mutant messiah, and that’s humility. And honestly, that’s why I’m really starting not to like her very much. For someone who grew up in a horrible future, Hope certainly acts like she owns the world. Now with her Five Lights disciples following her, I’m wondering where Hope’s story will go. But here’s another question…why hasn’t Charles Xavier met Hope yet? This seems so weird and hearkens back to the last couple of years where Charles played such a minor role. The least the X-writers could have done was to have Charles be gone for a while, but he wasn’t. In the story, he was very present, however his role had diminished to virtually nothing. In this issue, Magneto volunteers to introduce Charles to Hope, which really should have been the other way around. Hope should have been inquiring to meet Xavier. But this is typical of Hope’s role and I have yet to see why everyone in the story, and every writer writing her, is acting like she’s a top-level character. I’m still unimpressed, and as long as she is written as an upstart brat, I think I will continue to not really like her. Eventually, she throws her weight around and makes Cyclops give her the Lights as a team of X-Men who will now go on missions to find other new mutants. The only really intriguing thing that happens in this issue is that Hope receives a secret letter from the Beast encouraging her to leave Utopia immediately. Beast’s fear of what is going on with Scott is bewildering, and I am excited to see it bear fruit. The really wonderful thing about this issue is that the art finally feels right. Jamie McKelvie is just superb on a title like this, and his style fits it like a glove. I would much rather see him continue as the regular artist. It’s good to see this title picking up some steam, but I could really do without Hope. Too bad this book is centered on such an unlikeable character. -JJ
I’m happy to report Brian Clevinger successfully captures the dynamic between Warren Worthington III and Bobby Drake amazingly well in this issue. They’re best buds, and it shows. Unlike Warren, Bobby hasn’t been featured in comics lately (except for a brief cameo in X-Men where he blasted some vampires with holy water…seriously), and as a hardcore Iceman fan, I was overjoyed at how lively this issue was. It was nice seeing these two in action again together, as it reminded me of the good ol’days when the Original Five would hit the town with their ladies (remember Zelda?) and hang out as pals. Speaking of ladies, there was a great panel where they pick up some chicks; Warren, ever the suave one, has won both ladies over with his game, prompting Bobby to fall asleep at the table…and the women, so enamoured with Warren’s dreaminess, don’t even notice. Despite being random, there was another laugh-out-loud panel with Namor and some bagels. The art by Juan Doe is decent, and overall, I liked it. However, there were too many lines at times, which made the characters look like they were in their late 30s instead of their late teens. In every one of these one-shots so far (Magneto, Marvel Girl), the big bad has been a monster or creature thing, and the trend continues here. This issue is different in that unlike the previous two stories, this monster feels like it belongs in the plot. I think it has to do with the creature’s design, as it hearkens back to Jack Kirby and the early days of Marvel’s monsters, which is when this story supposedly takes place. There was a great moment when the duo are taking on the beast, and Angel has a realization when he’s charging it, “Wait, all I have are wings.” Every fanboy was thinking that, and it was a nice touch that Angel was too. The way the monster was dealt with brought back memories of the Futurama episode where Melllvar, the angry galaxy, resents Fry for his knowledge of all things Star Trek, and subsequently gets scolded by his mom for playing with his toys. Love that episode. My major qualm with this book is one I’ve had with all these Origin one-shots; they are supposed to take place in the past, but have modern day scenery. Why can’t the locations and items be set in the 60s? Or, if Marvel is intentionally going with a modern day look, why not add a First Class banner to the title? Any fan of the original five X-Men can dig this issue, otherwise, it may not be for you. –AL
Cutting right to the chase, Juggernaut gets a brand new helmet in this issue, after his previous one was smashed to smithereens by the douche bag Hyperion. This new design (although it looks the same) was engineered by a Raft specialist (Raft as in the prison, not the flotation device), and allows Cain to turn his head from side-to-side without having to simultaneously move his body. Further developments on the gear, according to the specialist, will eventually include a feature that re-grows the helmet if it’s destroyed. Juggs used to have this ability, but it was magic based- this new enhancement will be rooted in science. That’s all that really happens regarding our X-character in this one, and I thought it should be mentioned here in case it comes into play down the line. In Fear Itself, perhaps? The main plot has to deal with Luke Cage and Strange getting Satana to join the Thunderbolts for a special mission, and apparently, she has some ties to Man-Thing. Also, Songbird and the Warden of The Raft demote Fixer, taking it upon themselves to train a new team of T-Bolts in the unlikely event a current member were to fall in the line of duty. To conclude: Thunderbolts has been great since Jeff Parker took over and can be enjoyed by anyone; this issue is as good a starting point as any! –AL
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the .1 thing is so ridiculous. Why on earth was this #5.1 when it really should have been #4.1? The editorial staff at Marvel just confuse me sometimes. This story obviously takes place between issues #4 and 5, yet it’s dropped in the middle of the Deathlok storyline. The bad part is that for people jumping on, which this .1 initiative is supposed to encourage, they are going to pick up part 2 of the Deathlok storyline and not know what the heck is going on! Numbering aside, this issue was just incredible. Once again, Remender knows how to write a fantastic one-shot story; this one has Psylocke really revealing why she makes a good addition to this team of killers. I was unsure about her placement on the team, but this issue solidified her inclusion. The team rubs up against old X-Men sparring partners, the Reavers, and boy, do things get nasty. Remender makes the story even more of a pressure cooker when he places some Reavers on Utopia, and Psylocke has to get rid of them and not reveal she is on X-Force. But overall, Remender reveals his strength in writing these characters. My favorite panel was a shot of Deadpool, Wolverine, and Fantomex about to attack Skullbuster. Wolverine asks Skullbuster, “You remember my three sisters of doom?” Deadpool quips, “Them dames got incisive tongues,” and Fantomex says to Skullbuster, “You don’t know me.” I laughed out loud! Rafael Albuquerque is just a perfect match for this book. His darker and sketchier lines work so well here. I think between him and Jerome Opena, you could have a pretty perfect art team taking turns. Once again, Uncanny X-Force is proving to be the best X-Men book, maybe even comic book, on the shelves. -JJ
Damn me and my completist X-Men nature! If I wasn’t such a stickler for such things, I would not have picked this up. In fact, kudos to Marvel for putting this sorry story in an annual and not in a mini-series. Granted, I read this book last in my pile and was nodding off in the middle of it, but I really just could not care. Somehow, a random group of X-Men–Cyclops, Hope, Dr. Nemesis, and Namor–are blasted to the Negative Zone. No one knows why but it’s just an opportunity to put these antagonistic characters together. Cyclops and Hope are having issues with each other, and of course Namor and Nemesis are going to banter back and forth. It’s not done in an endearing way. In fact, Cyclops is more goofy in his interaction with Hope, and I just don’t think Asmus captured his voice at all. Hope is her regular unlikeable self (see above). The really difficult thing to look at in this book are the faces that Nick Bradshaw puts on these characters. His style is so reminiscent of Art Adams, and in fact sometimes looks exactly like him, except Bradshaw draws these tiny faces on these regular-sized heads. It makes them look like Muppet Baby-versions of the characters and it’s hard to take them seriously. This story will continue in the annuals of Steve Rogers: Super Soldier and Namor: The First Mutant, but let me go ahead and warn you not to pick those up, especially if by this creative team. I don’t know how Steve Rogers is going to play into this bizarre tale, and frankly I don’t care. I wonder what would happen if Marvel stopped green-lighting every X-Men story pitched. We’d probably get a whole lot of quality stories and less of this kind of junk. -JJ
Ahhhh! Reading X-Factor is like sitting in your favorite armchair at the end of a long day. You can expect a well-paced, funny, and action packed story. You can expect quality art. There’s really not much to say about this issue other than it keeps right on doing what it’s supposed to do. Peter David is just a reliably good writer. In this issue, the team is both protecting J. Jonah Jameson and searching out the killer of the man JJJ is wanting to avenge. There’re some really great scenes in this issue. One is Shatterstar almost telling us how he’s connected to Longshot, which is old X-Men lore, then revealing he’s not, then Longshot looking mysterious as if to suggest there really is a connection. Another is featuring Black Cat in this story rather than Spider-Man. Spidey cameoed last issue, but whereas he could have just as easily fit Spider-Man into the role Felicia Hardy plays in this issue, David decides to use her instead of the over-done webbed hero. This is a great choice, and Black Cat fits in nicely under the pen of Peter David. If I had to find a complaint about this issue, it’s that every once in a while, David will use a character to voice his own opinions. This time, he does so with JJJ who goes on a diatribe of religious and social equality. Mind you, I personally agree with the statements JJJ makes, but found it a little shoehorned in here, and especially from the mouth of JJJ who has been known to be more biased than anyone in comics. These new villains are great, and the surprise at the end of the issue is a great cliffhanger, which David does so well. Luppachino’s art is dynamite and I would love to see her continue on this book. Just know that when you buy X-Factor, you’re going to get the reliable storytelling from the creative team and that is really, really nice. -JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:Jeff: Despite the numbering, pick up Uncanny X-Force #5.1. You won’t regret it!
Andy: I agree with Jeff, Uncanny X-Force #5.1. This book is tough to beat!
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