Astonishing X-Men #51
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Mike Perkins
The Wedding Issue! After coming out of the closet almost 30 years ago in Alpha Flight #106, Northstar has finally found someone worthy enough to commit to in the bond of holy matrimony. Kyle Jinadu first made his appearance in Uncanny X-Men #508 back in 2009. It’s been a long and rocky road for the same-sex couple.
Marjorie Liu crafts a decent wedding script. We follow Northstar as nervousness washes over him, prompting his friends and family to step up and ensure that his feet don’t get cold. It’s an emotionally charged issue, but ultimately fell flat in this reviewer’s opinion. It was a cookie cutter wedding story and readers were not treated to anything they haven’t seen before since there have already been a solid handful of big event weddings in the Marvel Universe. This one felt forced.
Mike Perkins’ art style was fitting for this kind of story, but there are inconsistencies with the characters’ facial interpretations. There are a lot of close-up panels and you’ll notice that Northstar and Kyle don’t relatively look the same in each one. I also took slight offense to Aurora’s “Something New” gift being season passes for the Habs (NHL’s Montreal Canadians), yet Perkins drew the Quebec Nordiques logo on the puck and tickets. It’s a minor detail, but a major atrocity for any Montreal Canadians fans who might be reading this issue.
Coming off the heels of the same-sex wedding recently found in Archie comics, you can’t help but feel that Marvel was simply hopping onto the bandwagon as to not be surpassed in being a “forward thinking” publishing house. They probably just wanted to get it done before DC could.
Ultimately, Astonishing X-Men #51 was underwhelming. I would have liked to have seen Northstar’s role with the X-Men more clearly defined before showcasing him in this fashion. He’s a character that has never fully committed to anything except his sexual orientation, why should we believe that this marriage can last? –SG
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 7/10
I’ve been checking this series out during the AvX tie-ins, and I have to say, they have been much more pleasing than I originally thought they would be. Christos Gage is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. He has a real knack for taking B-and-C-list character and making them interesting. It reminds me of what Brian K. Vaughn did in later issues of Runaways and what Rick Remender is doing on Uncanny X-Force. These guys prove that there is no such thing as a bad character if you create a decent story and develop them properly. As much as stories with Iron Man, Wolverine, and Spider-Man are cool, sometimes like to see a focus on lesser-known characters.
Juston Seyfert starred in his own series called Sentinel in 2002 when the “Tsunami” line of titles were coming out (of which the aforementioned Runaways was a smash hit). The story was your typical Iron Giant type story (which Gage even hints at in this issue): a boy finds a Sentinel and turns it into a heroic robot. Juston and the Sentinel haven’t been played with much since then until Gage widened the cast of this title. Despite Juston’s inclusion, there has been one major dangling plot-thread–what would the mutants do if they knew Juston had a Sentinel?
In this story, we find that the Sentinel does still, in fact, have a killer instinct around mutants, even though it’s a low priority in its directive programming. This brings the newly Phoenix-ized Emma Frost to the school, who is dismantling all Sentinels with her newfound power. The story is told through X-23’s eyes, who becomes the crux of the debate in the issue as one who knows what’s it’s like to have a pet taken from her. When Emma suggests simply wiping the Sentinel’s AI completely rather than destroying it, the faculty and students decide to back Juston up, including X-23.
While I like that Gage has created an interesting moral dilemma, I need to chime in on where I would stand here. First, Emma has every right to obliterate that Sentinel. Sentinels killed her students, they destroyed Genosha, they continue to be a threat to the dwindling mutant population. It would be like if your family had been murdered by a serial killer, then someone rehabilitated the killer and decided to keep him as a pet. The Sentinel clearly still has genocidal tendencies, so the fact that Emma is nice enough to suggest that Hank Pym reprogram him so Juston can keep him is pretty forgiving. While Juston certainly loves his Sentinel, you would think he would find the decency to find a way to scrub that part of this programming. Pym’s expertise in AI seems like it could replace the other qualities that Juston loves about the Sentinel. But I guess that would make for a boring story. Instead, Pym, X-23, and the rest decide to fight Emma over the Sentinel.
Gage is joined by Timothy Green II, who’s work at first looks like the Tsunami art of old. Then, it quickly devolves into a bad copy of J. Scott Campbell’s work from the ’90s, especially when Emma is floating around. There are some poor inking choices as well which hurt the book, like on Hank Pym’s face in a few panels. It’s just not a tight art style.
Overall, this is a pretty decent story despite my disagreements with the cast. I’m looking forward to part 2 of this tale. –JJ
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 6/10
Avengers vs X-Men #6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Wow. Just…Wow. Talk about a one-eighty. This issue was absolutely fantastic.
In the ten following their creation, the Phoenix Five have remade the world in their own image, but the Avengers still believe that the other shoe is about to drop as things look too good to be true.
Earth’s Mightiest heroes assemble a team to extract Hope from Utopia where they are soon confronted by Cyclops and Emma Frost.
Jonathan Hickman penned an amazing story. He kicks off the second act of AvX with a bang. Scott’s dialog with Charles is downright unnerving. Beast finds himself running out of people to trust and a place to call home. We get more hints of the Iron Fist subplot and a game changing character makes a move by the final scene. This issue is packed with so much stuff; it will make your head spin. We get some pretty interesting Marvel AR extras too, especially in the United Nations scene and in the final panel.
Olivier Coipel’s pencils: Awesome. What more needs to be said? Buy this damn book and bask in its visual splendor.
Forget about the 5 previous issues and the AvX: VS books. Avengers vs X-Men starts now. –SG
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 9/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 9/10
New Avengers #27
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Aritst: Mike Deodato
Who can effectively blend together Leonardo Da Vinci, the Iron Fist, Spider-Man, and the Phoenix into one great history lesson? If you’ve been reading this series during the Avengers vs X-Men event then you already know it’s Brian M. Bendis. What started as a questionable arc and a bit of a reach if you ask me has turned into one exciting and touching part of the AvX storyline. The story of Fongji and how her tale parrallels with that of Hope continues to bring about more questions but in that we get to see that there is a chance the Phoenix force can be successfully contained.
The past few issues have strayed away from the main battles going on in the other titles to focus on the Iron Fist connection to the Phoenix. This has been it’s biggest strength since Bendis isn’t bogged down with trying to give all the marquee characters face time and just tells a very good story. He reminds you that Hope is still a very scared and confused 14 year old girl in her interactions with Master Yu Ti. There are several interesting character moments that happen throughout the issue and even though nothing really spectacular takes place the book shines on an emotional level. It’s more of a “gut check” for Hope delivered via Spider-Man who Bendis uses to get her to come to some realizations. And when you actually consider what Spidey has gone through over the years there’s not a better character for Hope to have this interaction with.
I know I said that nothing really spectacular happens in this issue but Deodato’s artwork does count for something. As usual, his panels look great and there are several stand out sequences. One would be the Dragon vs Phoenix mystical battle that is made look even better by Rain Beredo’s colors. Another would be scenes with Master Yu Ti and Hope at the Scrying Pool. That double page spread along with the pages that followed were just layed out perfectly.
Though New Avengers #27 is a tie-in it isn’t some cheap cash in that is riding the coat tails of the core title. There’s a relevant story here that seems like it will carry more weight as the main title progresses. This is what a good tie in issue should do instead of tell some mindless drivel that no one will care about by the time the next issue comes out. So you should definitely be reading this arc if you aren’t already checking out the title on a regular. –IS
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 10/10
Secret Avengers #28
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Renato Guedes
This tie in to the AvX event had a two pronged purpose which became pretty evident the minute they flew off into space. Stopping the Phoenix before it reached Earth and laying the ground work for Carol Danvers to become the new Captain Marvel. The fact that this was even a mission and an entire story arc was dedicated to it still boggles the mind. There is no way this team was going to win because if they stopped the Phoenix then there would be no reason to have twelve issue of Avengers vs X-Men. Realizing this kind of ruins the emotional expectations for Remender’s story.
The Minister has made his final push and the Phoenix is close to killing everyone. This forces Ms. Marvel to attempt something she hasn’t done in a while which actually was the only surprise in the arc. However, as expected, every attempt made fails. Remender does a decent job working in the confines of the AvX arc and this issue is actually better mostly in part to how he chose to tell this story. Though when it becomes clear this was mostly about the return of Captain Marvel the story feels a little off.
Not really blown away by this issue or the entire arc. Sure I see how the actual plan to stop the Phoenix before it gets to Earth makes sense. However, the idea to devote several issues to this idea seems like more of a cash grab since we knew in the beginning that the mission would be a failure. –IS
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 3/10
Kieron Gillen has not been my favorite writer on this book, but here he shows me that he definitely has the possibility of writing a really good story.
In the midst of all the AvX stuff, Gillen decides to take a step back and loosely tie-in to the event by spotlighting Mr. Sinister. When last we saw Sinister, he had created a village of clones of himself. Not really very exciting stuff, there. However, we see now the breadth of Sinister’s plan in this issue. He is cloning tribes of X-Men underground, including more clones of the deceased Jean Grey. For those of us who have been around since the Madelyne Pryor days, seeing this idea pushed to this degree, along with clones of Sabretooth, Gambit, Cyclops, and more, made me more than a little giddy.
These days when an X-writer can take an old idea and amp it up to it furthest reality, makes the idea both fresh for new readers and awesome for us long-timers. But it’s not just the revelation of Sinister’s plan that makes this issue work well.
The way Gillen brings us into the story serves that revelation quite well. We meet a “rogue” Sinister, who wants to expose himself (that doesn’t sound right) or rather his villainous core creator and goes to great lengths to do so. However, there is a great twist in the story that I won’t spoil here that unravels the entirety of Sinister’s master plan. At first I thought the issue was rather verbose, but when you consider that the “rogue” Sinister is a reporter, it makes sense.
I wish that when Gillen reintroduced Sinister, he would have done it this way rather than that first arc of this new volume. We don’t really need to know how Sinister got to this point, but the fact that he’s here, he’s underneath the earth’s surface with a replica of London, and he’s got an army of creepy X-Men clones makes him a viable threat.
The big sell of this issue is Dustin Weaver’s immaculate pencil work. Weaver is known for his detail, so when he’s given this script which includes large cityscapes, detailed costumes, and scores of clones, he’s a natural. But his facial expressions on characters faces also tell their own stories, which show that Weaver is extremely gifted.
I have to say that if more issues of Uncanny were like this, I would find Gillen worthy of helming the flagship title of the X-Men universe. Well done! –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 8.5/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 8/10
This issue ends this excellent arc that Bunn and Pelletier have put before us. My only complaint is that it seemed all too short!
All seems lost for Logan as he’s been brainwashed by Dr. Rot. Rot has cracked the code to Logan’s Weapon X programming, and with just a few words, can control Logan’s mind or think that he’s one of Rot’s creepy family members. The pressure is on in this issue, as Logan’s ex-girlfriend Melita Garner comes with the FBI to look for him only to get caught by the mind-controlled Wolverine and Dr. Rot’s nasty group of lackeys.
The ending of this arc went exactly where I thought it might go with Wolverine somehow snapping out of it and getting his revenge, which is exactly what happens. I have enjoyed Bunn’s story thus far, but after a conversation with Tales From the Water Cooler‘s Southern Sensation Aron White, I realized that this brainwashing of Wolverine is a quite tired plot. Even though I don’t think Logan has been brainwashed since M-Day (although I could be wrong), he still has been manipulated by villains like the Red Right Hand and Romulus, and that’s just close enough.
What makes this great, even if it is an old idea, is the over-the-top nature of Dr. Rot, whom I’ve described as Hannibal Lector, Leatherface, and Deadpool combined. I still love Rot going up against Logan and feel like he’s a great foil for him.
Paul Pelletier’s work on this arc has been nothing short of fantastic. His level of detail, yet excellent cartooning, has made this book gory and wonderful. Even if the plot wasn’t all that original, Pelletier’s work really made the story shine in a bloody, fleshy-type of way.
I felt, though, that this story was slightly truncated and could have easily gone for one more issue. We didn’t get to see Logan’s innocence proven by the FBI, which was how this story started. Much more puzzling was Rot’s lasting effect on Logan’s memories. Does that mean there are things that Wolverine won’t remember from here on out? Will this be carried forward in future stories? If there had been one more issue, I think these things could have been addressed. But my guess is that they shortened this so the upcoming Sabretooth Reborn story could be told.
My main hope is that Bunn and Pelletier come back and tell us more as I think they have a shot of making a really excellent run on this book. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 4/10
New Mutants #44: Any chance of liking this issue was complete overwhelmed by the horrific art of Leandro Fernandez. We should be excited that the team is reconnecting with Karma and Cannonball, but I could barely look at it because of Fernandez’s lack of detail and dynamism. But to be fair, the story is not all that interesting and feels like more of the same. I can’t understand why DnA are having so much trouble with this cast, but it’s just not working. –JJ
Cover:6/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 0/10 Relevance: 0/10
X-Factor #236: X-Factor readers will get something out of this issue, but the casual reader won’t really see a point to any of it. The dialog is typical Peter David awesomeness, but not much happens story wise. PAD inches a handful of sub-plots along. Davidson’s art is mediocre, but his backgrounds are precise and detailed. –SG
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 6/10
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Avengers vs. X-Men #6 blew me away! Olivier Coipel FTW!
SpidermanGeek: Avengers vs X-Men #6 stands above anything AvX related published to date. You’ll get your money’s worth.
Infinite Speech: Avengers vs X-Men #6 has turned my attitude around regarding this event! From the story to the art I was actually impressed and it was good to see that Coipel draws Hope like the 14 yr old girl that she is!