Saturday, June 28, 2008

Left Over Comic Book Reviews

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been a few comics I just didn't have time to review or, in the case of this week, there were just too many comics that I couldn't review them all in the regular review columns.

As such, I've put together a short post with reviews of the four or five comics I failed to do reviews of for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Patrick Zircher

Chris's Invincible Super-Blog summed up this issue rather nicely in his reviews this week and, not seeing anyway I could do better, I've chosen to just quote his review.

After Odin calls her a trollop for having a four-way with the dwarves of Nidavellir, the Enchantress curses the earth with a literal, honest-to-Asgard rain of blood (from a lacerated sky), which causes every man who has ever died to walk the earth until Thor kills them all again, which he does by wrangling The Blood Colossus, only to flip out and murder a town when he finds out that they ate his horses.

Seriously. That’s what happens. And it is awesome.

Honestly, it doesn't get much better than this issue and I'm almost at a loss as to how to describe the unquantifiable amount of awesomeness contained within this issue. If possible, I think I enjoyed this issue more than the first issue and I would love to see Fraction and Zircher do a Thor: Year One style graphic novel after they finish up on this series as this is just fantastic work from both of them.

Verdict - Must Read. Even if you dislike Thor, in general, or JMS's current run on the book, I still think you'd be a fool to pass up this comic.

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Mike Deodato

As you can tell from yesterday's Comic Boo Moments of the Week, this issue was jam packed with kick ass moments, like Songbird vs. Green Goblin, Samson / Penance vs. Moonstoone and Bullseye taking care of business, and it capped off an amazing, if delay ridden, run by Ellis and Deodato. It truely is a shame to know this is the last issue.

If you've been following Thunderbolts all along, you'll know we have a group of telepaths locked up in Thunderbolt Mountain and they are messing with everyone's heads, causing them to go nuts, fight each other and kill everyone in the base.

This issue wraps up that storyline with the previously mentioned fight sequences. There's no much else happening in this issue besides that and Ellis simply gives us lots of action, amazing dialogue and then rushes in for the touchdown by having Bullseye, fresh off surgery for his spine, waltzing into the holding cells and picking off each telepath one by one with some scalpels he picked up on the way, inadvertently saving the day as he had only wanted to go kill some people while the power was out and figured the prisoners were expendable.

I found Deodato's art was rushed and a little off compared to the previous issues. Actually, it might just be the story, itself, which was rushed, causing him to try and fit more into the few pages he had left than his art actually being weaker, as it still looks fantastic.

In fact, my only complaint for the issue, aside from it being the last from the current team, is that it felt rushed. I loved Bullseye "saving" the day, but, after all the build up and chaos the telepaths caused, they just get offed so casually, almost like an after thought from Ellis, who just realized he had to finish the storyline with only a couple of pages remaining.

It's a small nitpick and I really don't care all that much, as I enjoyed the entire Caged Angels arc immensely, but it's definitely a complaint worth mentioning.

Verdict - Must Read. It's not stop action as the Thunderbolts kick the crap out of each other before Bullseye finishes off the "villains", all with beautiful artwork. If this doesn't turn your crank, I don't think any super hero comics will.

Written by Aron Coleite
Art by Mark Brooks

The second issue of Coleite's run on the Kirkman-less (thank god) Ultimate X-Men continues the Banshee / Mutant Growth Hormone plot and, while I may have been a bit generous in my review of the previous issue, what with it being such a drastic improvement from Kirkman's work, I still find myself enjoying this story and would highly recommend it to anyone that's been put off of UXM or those that have dropped it in disgust over the previous creative runs.

The issue started with another flashback to an X-Man's past, similar to how we had more insight into Colossus' origin last issue, and, while brief, this issue focuses on Cyclops' childhood and shows when his powers first manifested and how Xavier and Jean Grey first came to find him.

Generic stuff, right? You might want to rethink that as it turns out Cyclops was bullied by kids at school, didn't get along with his foster parents and, when they try to talk to him about it, he screams at them to leave him alone as his powers flare up and he vaporizes his foster father!

The issue only gets better from there as we see the rogue X-Men, all hopped up on Banshee, the drug that jacks up your mutant powers, as you can see in the cover image. Rogue is enjoying the drug more than anyone as it finally lets her control her powers to the extent she can touch anyone and she doesn't hesitate to let Cyclops know when she kisses him to show her how great the drug has been for her.

As expected, Cyclops joined the rogue team as a spy for Xavier and Jean and fakes his Banshee injection as the team prepares to go attack the Alpha Flight team and recover Jean Paul.

Upon arrival, the team quickly shows off their upgraded powers and quickly take down most of the Alpha Flight team. Angel flies Snowbird up into the stratosphere while Nightcrawler, unable to control his new powers correctly, apparently teleports Sasquatch's arm off!

Meanwhile, Rogue learns some huge secret from Vindicator after absorbing some of his power, but is taken out of the fight before she can reveal the big secret. I imagine it will be about the origin of Banshee or who's really behind Jean Paul's kidnapping.

After the initial shock of the X-Men's arrival has worn off, the Alpha Flight team quickly takes control of the battle after Colossus leaves in search of Jean Paul. On the ropes, Cyclops decides to take Banshee to help save the team and gets a power up that's probably OVER 9000! The drug somehow gives him the ability to fly and other increased powers.

Finally, the issue ends with Colossus finding Jean Paul, who was pumped full of Banshee and dies of an overdose in Colossus' arms.

Verdict - Must Read. I may still be too generous with my verdict for this title, but it's just so refreshing to open up UXM and actually enjoy the book again that I can't help but give it a good rating.

Written by Peter David
Art by Pablo Raimondi

This was a return to form for the X-Factor title after months of decidedly average issues. It's as if Peter David saw what was wrong with the book and excised all of the negatives in one sweeping stroke of his mighty pen, seemingly freeing the team from the other X-titles and the constant stream of tie-ins forced upon the title because of it.

Wrapping up mediocre Arcade storyline, PAD treats us to the "old" X-Factor team from pre-Messiah Complex. You know, the one that could laugh and talk to each other and wasn't overcome with angst and constantly bickering, like we've seen in the last half a dozen issues, and it is a welcome change.

While the team was back to form this issue, it was clearly Jamie Madrox's issue. From his attempts to save an old man to his chats with Layla Miller, who's merely a figment of his imagination in this issue and a welcome one at that, Jaime had more than his fair share of great moments.

One of my favourite parts was Jamie addressing Siryn's pregnancy and his upcoming fatherhood, which he had been ignoring for some time. Another was Jamie's dealing with Val Cooper, who plays the government stooge / villain, more so than usual, in this piece.

Continuing with the trend, we see Madrox stepping up as the defacto leader and severing all ties with the now razed Mutant Town by blowing up the X-Factor building, which is one of the only buildings left standing after Arcade's fire bombings, and relocating the team to Detroid. There's also a time skip of about five months to go along with this and shows Siryn well along in her pregnancy and the team continuing the agency in Detroit.

And to cap off an all around great issue was the ending where Val Cooper finally tracks down Jaime at a diner in Detroit and letting him know that she owns him and they'll be working together from now on.

Verdict - Must Read. X-Factor's back and I couldn't be happier. For those that were couldn't stick with it through the rough patch of forced crossovers and the gutting of the team, I think you'll be more than happy with jumping back in with this and future issues.

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Salieri said...

My only nitpick with Deodato's art is that apparently an author instructed him to show off Songbird's rear in every single shot possible, even when that would mean a physically impossible pose. See the 'crucifixion' scene from last issue, and the fight with Osborn this week.

Salieri said...

Also, about the "Pyro" scene in Ultimates 3: if I ever get to write an Ultimate title (the likeliness of which isn't TOTALLY impossible presuming that Marvel still prints it in 2012), no matter what the book is and what the context, there'll be a panel of Pyro bitching about how his half-wit paedophile twin brother got the 'immunity to flame' powers and he got the 'generates flame' powers.

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