In case you haven’t heard the news, Alpha Flight has gone from an 8 issue mini-series to an ongoing. I’m ok with that as Pak and Van Lente seem to be telling a pretty big story here. There are lots of plot lines in the works- Sasquatch is losing his memories with every transformation, Aurora is combating a severe case of multi-personality disorder, and Heather Hudson is hellbent on taking her old team down. Plus, what’s up with Puck and how did he get out of Hell? The writers have plenty to build on here, and right now everything is playing backdrop to the main plot of Department H joining forces with the Canadian Government to experiment with (and on) their own superhero team. As mentioned before, why Vindicator would align herself with these guys over her old teammates is still unclear, and this is something that needs to be addressed sooner than later. The majority of the Alpha Flight team were recently brought back to life at the end of Chaos War, and for Heather to go rogue so easily and so soon is tough to swallow. Still, she is now leader of the government run Alpha Strike, which contains Citadel, Purple Woman and a big bad who brings with him some demonic foreshadowing. However, it appears Alpha Flight won’t be without some allies of their own, as their next mission is to find Wolverine. If you’re an old-school Alpha Flight fan, pick this book up. If you’re new to the team, give it a go as the writing is inviting to new readers and Dale Eaglesham’s pencils look great. -AL
Rob Williams. The dude has totally won me over as an X-writer. From the beginning, Daken was Daniel Way’s guy and when Williams took over on this book not too long ago, my skepticism was prominent. However, he gets Daken. He gets that Daken doesn’t give a shit about anyone. He gets that Daken can manipulate who he wants, when he wants. He gets that Daken has great potential to be a prominent character in the Marvel Universe, and he is accomplishing something I think Daniel Way failed to in his tenure with him- give the character some direction and focus. Only problem is, now Williams has introduced an element that takes all that focus and direction away from him… not to mention his healing factor. It’s entertaining to see play out. Daken’s addicted to the drug called Heat which puts him on such a hardcore trip he can’t remember much of anything when he’s peaking on it, and it cancels out his healing factor which is the main reason why he’s addicted to it. When high on Heat, he can feel something. Matteo Buffagni’s artwork is decent, but it leaves much to be desired. Giuseppe Camuncoli, the Daken artist before him, was the perfect artist for our title character, and Buffagni tries to imitate his style and almost pulls it off. However, this story takes place in Los Angeles but you wouldn’t know that because the environment and setting is completely ignored in the art, and that’s a problem. L.A. is such an affluent location; an artist should take advantage of that and Buffagni does not. Riley Rossmo’s art, as usual, is flippin’ rad. I want more. If you’re a Wolverine fan, and haven’t been reading this title, remedy that now. This book has character so pick it up and give it a go. -AL
Simone Bianchi is really rocking this book! I used to be on the fence about his work. I appreciated the originality of it- his soft textures, his almost dream-like panels, and his detailed costume work- but I wasn’t completely sold. But his work on this issue is just incredible. The first panel is a splash of Angel in all his… um, angelic… beauty. You could almost hang that on the wall of a church and people would give their lives to Jesus. Ok, maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but the panel is dang good. I’m a big fan of un-inked pencils in a comic, and I can’t quite tell if his are inked or not, but it has the same effect. Add to that some really excellent colors by Simone Peruzzi, and you’ve got butter on the toast of this comic book. As for Rob Williams’ story, it’s no slouch, either. I’m not really big on characters sitting around to talk about what they might do, which is exactly what X-Force does for a while in this book. But once the action starts, it grabs hold and doesn’t let go. E.V.A. drops a member of X-Force off in different states and they start fighting Purifiers. Of course, the Deadpool fight is hilarious, as he misses his target and skids down the road. Besides some fun moments like that, this story doesn’t have much more to it. The plot is basically a crazy religious guy who is blowing people up. Again, it doesn’t have much to do with Fear Itself, but that’s a good thing really. If you’re looking for a tie-in that hardly ties-in, then this one’s for you. –JJ
Fans of X-nostalgia need to go to their local comic shop and pick this issue up pronto. The entire Iron Age mini has been a great read so far, and this one reads just fine on its own if you haven’t been following along. There are two X-stories here, both taking place in 1980, the first of which stars Dazzler immediately after her appearance in the Dark Phoenix Saga. We get treated to appearances of the classic Hellfire Club, including villains like Sebastian Shaw and Donald Pierce. The second story picks up where the first left off, and is a classic X-fan’s delight as the original Uncanny X-Men team is drawn awesomely in the style of Roberto de la Torre. His dark, moody art looks great on the 70s costumes of our heroes, and seeing this team of Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Wolverine, Cyke and Jean Grey back in action was a treat. Oh, and look who wrote the second installment of this issue- Rob Williams! He’s 3/3 this week and I only expect his work to get stronger down the line. There’s a moment in this one where Tony gawks at the camaraderie of the Uncanny X-Men and it made me want to bust out all of my old-school 80s Claremont/Byrne issues and read them non-stop. In fact, I’m going to go do that as soon as I’m done writing these reviews. -AL
Ok, I’ve given them a decent chance. After Zeb Wells left, I had a feeling the New Mutants would devolve. But I didn’t expect it to be at the hands of Abnett and Lanning. With the exception of last issue, we have gotten an incredibly odd and almost half-hearted take on these characters. Practically the whole team feels like background characters with no dimension at all. They’ve added Nate Grey to the cast, but he has no original voice of his own. The characters that typically do- Cannonball & Illyana- either aren’t featured, or are chained up in the bowels of Utopia. The only character that is decent right now is Dani, and they isolate her from the team in this issue. Cyclops sends Dani to Las Vegas in order for her to get a Hela-power-up, but for some reason, he sends her by herself. What’s the point of that? It made no sense, seeing as the rest of the New Mutants were just sitting around in the issue. Yes, I know it’s done to separate Dani from the team so that she can later save them from their turn into the wrong underworld, but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you remember my comments about last issue, I raved about Michael Ryan. Seeing his art there only makes me hate David LaFuente’s art even more. I have heard people online rave about LaFuente’s art, but this is just awful. Every character has the same angular face and pointed nose, and just because Warlock is a cartoony alien does not give you permission to draw one eye incredibly larger than the other, just for kicks. Finally, just to show that I don’t think the X-Men editors are paying attention at all, on the title page, they mistakenly marked Magma with the moniker “Karma.” Oi! This is quickly dropping to the bottom of my X-Pile. –JJ
Like last issue, there is so much going on here I don’t know where to begin. First of all there’s a new team of villains called the Young Masters. Their M.O. is that they believe modern day crime and villainy has gone soft so they’re here to make it bad once more. Then there’s the New Teen Brigade which features The Nullifier, Miss America (who reminds me a lot of X-Factor’s Monet), and former New-X-Men members, Beak (who just goes by Barnell now) and Angel. Both of whom are de-powered. There was a cool throwback as Barnell still sports his New X-Men jacket. I dig it. The team reads like the most recent incarnation of the New Warriors but waaaay better, as each character has their own voice and things feel like they’re moving towards… something. The New Defenders are also present here, spinning a third storyline, and they’re recognized as old school. Will these guys factor into the new Defenders book coming out later this year? That remains to be seen. While Bullseye is on the cover, he doesn’t show up (he’s dead, remember?). Instead we get Lady Bullseye, who very creepily wants to be impregnated by… the, um, corpse of Bullseye? Is that what we’re being led to believe? That’s fucked up Joe Casey. Nick Dragotta’s art tells as much of this story as Casey’s words. He packs so much into every page and panel, and each character wears relevant expressions to what’s being said. His work is great to look at. Miss America is way hot too, and he draws her with a little Milo Manara flare. I have no clue where this is heading, but so far, I’m enjoying the ride. -AL
So, it appears Marvel is continuing the .1 initiative, even though its been a spectacular failure and every attempt has been met with less than stellar reviews. Guess what? This issue is no different. Why was this a .1 issue? Couldn’t it have just been issue #16? It has no tie to anything. In fact, it’s like a bad vignette from an X-Men anthology. Did you know that there are still wild west towns that look just like they’re from the 19th century? Apparently there are, because the X-Men go to investigate a demon-coma woman, which I guess the X-Men are now experts on. All of this is done to bring the X-Men in contact with the new Ghost Rider, who doesn’t appear to be any different from the old Ghost Rider, except in female form. What really stinks about this issue is that it would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce me, an X-Men reader, to this new Ghost Rider. Instead, she blows in, says things exactly like Johnny Blaze, then performs exactly how he would in this circumstance. There is absolutely no originality in this character and it does not make me want to be interested in her at all. In fact, if they’re not going to make a female Ghost Rider different and cool, then what’s the point? Also, if this issue is intended to make people feel like they can jump onto the X-Men, another failure. The title page gives no indication as to who these X-Men are, and it almost feels as if you’re walking into the middle of the story. The only plus to this issue is Will Conrad’s art, who would be kicking ass on a book like New Mutants instead of LaFuente. This book, like many of the X-Men proper books, has no real focus, and until it does, I’m afraid it will continue to suffer. –JJ
At first, I really liked this issue. I felt like Carey was doing a great job of coming back around, by using Legion’s powers in a creative way. Legion appears to be overcome by his Styx personality, until we see that Legion is using his duplication power of Chain to fool Styx. It was a great moment and I was about to congratulate Carey on finishing strong. But then it appears that it wasn’t Legion’s dupe, but rather Rogue. This is where I’m completely lost. How can Rogue shape shift into one of Legion’s dupes? Did I miss that? There are just too many powers here, and it’s incredibly difficult to keep track of. Add to that Khoi Pham’s mediocre art and poor storytelling. The thing I do, however, like about this issue is something that I feel has been missing from X-Men books for a while. Back in the day, the X-Men would go on continuous adventures. Right after they fought one bad guy, they would immediately be thrown into another crazy adventure. It would be a roller coaster, and you could almost see the exhaustion on their faces as one more thing happened to them. These days, you have more adventures, but no sense of when they take place. There’s no connection to the stories at all. So one thing Carey is doing well here is focusing on one team of X-Men and starting them on a continuous journey. At the end of this issue, after Styx is defeated, Rogue realizes she knows where the lost X-Men- Rachel, Alex, and Lorna- are trapped in space, and decides they need to go get them immediately. Xavier and Legion stay behind, while Rogue, Gambit, Magneto, and Frenzy go after them. I really like how Carey did that and am excited to see what happens next. –JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Out of these books, I’m going to have to choose Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #2. Just good artwork and a decent story, which always wins for me over decent artwork and good story.
Andy: While Rob Williams has been aces with his X-books, I’m going with Vengeance #2 because it’s so different from any other X-related book out there, and I have no clue what to expect.