Friday, August 31, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 22 (AVX: VS #5 and Wolverine and the X-Men #15)

We begin with the latest additions to the AVX: VS card...

Match #9: Hawkeye vs. Angel

A ground-and-pound shooter taking on a high-flier should make for an interesting match. But, it doesn't. With no build and a general pointlessness in the air, this seems like something that belongs on TV, not on a PPV card like this. Leave this shit to the three-panel matches we see in Avengers vs. X-Men! It is a little surprising to see them pull out the old WWE staple of capable women's fighters suddenly becoming plot devices and unable to actually do anything when two men are fighting. Psylocke is normally a threat, but, here, she's just someone for Hawkeye to threaten as he, surprisingly, winds up playing the heel to Angel's face. Normally, Hawkeye is the scrappy underdog that people love to see get his ass beat until he manages to come back at the end, but not here. There are supposed to be elements of that, especially when he rips off Wolverine's claw attack using arrows and Angel no-sells completely -- but threatening women and then shooting a dude with an arrow to make your escape? Dick move; heel turn.

Winner: Hawkeye [*3/4]

Match #10: Loser Leaves Wakanda Match - Black Panther vs. Storm

This is the funniest fight of the card to date. Meant to be a big emotional battle between husband and wife, it descends into unintentional comedy pretty quickly. The best part: Storm yelling "Not the cape!" as Black Panther uses it to throw her to the ground. Or, there's the moment where she gets pissed off that he planned counterattacks against her in case she ever attacked him... after she just hit him with a lightning bolt. If anything, this match is an angle killing one that comes at long last after many false starts and poorly told stories throughout. It's a mercy-killing affair that's just as drawn-out and pointless as the original angle was to begin with -- as random and thrown-together. Jason Aaron tries some of the tricks he used to great effect with Dash and Carol in Scalped and they fall flat here, because, in Scalped, he actually made us care about those two and their relationship. Black Panther and Storm's relationship has been dead for a while now -- almost stillborn -- and Marvel is only finally getting around to acknowledging that fact. The big blowoff comes too late and no one cares. "There are no winners here" indeed.

Winner: NO ONE [DUD]

Next month, the card concludes with a bunch of mini-fights (way to waste precious PPV time!) and the main event: HOPE VS. THE SCARLET WITCH IN A PHOENIX HOST CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH!


Wolverine and the X-Men #15 dances around Avengers vs. X-Men as they explore the fallout of Hope's fight with Cyclops in Avengers vs. X-Men #10 and prepare for the Death of Everything That is to Come. It also feels like the 'season finale' of that title in many ways. Jason Aaron jumps around a lot, checking in on as many characters as possible, providing closure of some kind for all of them before what comes next. It's like the school has gone as far it can in its current state. Death and resurrection. Get it?


Actually, this issue is one of my favourite Avengers vs. X-Men tie-ins. It's good in a different manner than New Avengers #29 was. That comic was the best comic of the event in the ways that it directly addressed the event and tried to raise the discourse occurring in it; this one is probably the best example of taking the event and using it to its own purposes. This was more an issue of Wolverine and the X-Men than Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in. The event is a backdrop for change and closure -- but it could be any big threat that acts as the backdrop for this issue. Change a few details and the issue stays essentially the same. New Avengers #29 was the book comic of the event, because it was exclusively about the event; Wolverine and the X-Men #15 is the best example of a comic in this event using it to tell a story that it probably would have told anyway. I admire that.


Next week: There are no Avengers vs. X-Men comics. There will be a post.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of August 29, 2012

I'm listening to Everybody's Rockin' by Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks. It's pleasant enough. I still have a few big gaps in my Neil Young collection, so I'm trying to fill them. His 'bad' stuff from the '80s is the biggest gap as, up until buying this album last night, I jumped from Live Rust to the Eldorado EP in my collection. Also: Everybody's Rockin' was the first album Young released after I was born, so I've gotta love it a little.

Journey into Mystery #642: More a story that's come out of Journey into Mystery that The Mighty Thor seems to have latched onto, I'm not complaining about that. The first bit of this comic is sluggish, but gets moving when it comes down to just Loki and Thor. Loki laying out how he'd fucked everyone over his last few adventures, all while trying to do the right thing, was excellent and made this feel like a story that's been built up to. The end of the issue was a bit dumb with that old mob mentality bullshit from characters that are supposed to be better than that. [***1/2]

Prophet #28: For some reason, I really liked the scene with the drugged drink. Kind of funny. Or the roots. I like the small stuff like that. [****]

Spaceman #9: The emotion of this issue is overwhelming at times... goddamn, Risso brings it. This is his show. [****1/4]

Ultimate X-Men #15: Wood's approach here is quite good. The way he's built this new world over the past few issues and forced the characters to confront some harsh realities has been some of his more skillful work. It's a bit nasty and more than a little depressing. I'm glad I stuck with this after the first issue. [****]

Winter Soldier #9: Of course Natasha 'waking up' was part of the plan! It was obvious, but still a great trick, playing with the idiotic convention of 'love' overcoming brainwashing, like somewhere deep inside the 'real' person is screaming to get out. Brubaker doesn't seem to buy that bullshit any more than I ever have... and good on him. [***3/4]


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 21 (Uncanny X-Men #17)

"Did I just read a comic where the X-Men commit genocide?"

It's not too often that you think that upon finishing the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men -- in fact, I don't think anyone has ever thought that before -- but here we are. The comic ends with Cyclops saying "The war is over. Sinister's species is done. The world is safe. And entirely ours." The X-Men apparently murdered an entire species to make it possible for their kind to take over the world and promote their own race-based agenda. That's pretty fucked up. That's incredibly fucked up.

I've been trying to think this through for the past couple of days. Obviously, we're meant to see their actions as extreme. They murdered an entire species. Let us never lose sight of that as we walk our way through the various justifications that can be offered. After all, this was basically a species of one -- and Sinister had intentions that seemed directed towards genocide of his own, possibly. He seeked to perfect himself genetically and create a world based around that. He threatened the X-Men and the world many times in the past and even schemed to harness the power of the Phoenix towards that end. But, the X-Men hunted him and his people down and killed them all. It's a little difficult to rationalise that away.

After all, what kind of species this was doesn't matter. That it was a hivemind society created through science doesn't mean a thing. That just means that the Sinisters were different than what we're accustomed to, not that they're better or worse -- more or less worthy of life or not being wiped out entirely.

Yet, it's easy to say that, because, in our world, we've never encountered a race like this. A hivemind devoted to a single purpose that acts directly against our interests with no hope of negotiation or reasoning. In many ways, the Sinisters are a variation on the Borg before they were overused and neutered. Sinister and his people would just keep coming, endlessly. Wiping them out was the only viable option in that line of thinking. It's a large scale version of the debate about heroes killing, except with one murderous villain turned into an entire species -- a race unto himself. If Sinister was one man, would we necessarily balk at the X-Men killing him? How does that change if that one man duplicates himself on a large scale? Is that really a different race or simply a bunch of photocopies? Is there a difference? Hell, whether a single being or a million, isn't something unique and differently genetically, like Sinister, a race? But... I don't think if Sinister were just a single man, we'd consider his murder genocide despite the reality (an entire race wiped out) being the same.

I guess there's also the problem in comics that we're not certain that the entire race is dead, or that Sinister won't return at some point. However, I'm not sure that actually matters. Cyclops's perception that he's killed the entire species is the same whether or not he's actually accomplished that goal. In his mind, he's murdered them all. Is that, for our purposes, any different from his committing genocide? (Assuming that genocide only counts when you kill an entire race, which isn't accurate at all.) What we're really interested in is the idea that Cyclops and the X-Men could do such an act, making their perception the only reality that matters. But, that idea that their perception is false, that Sinister will survive and return somehow, lessens the impact of what these characters have done. It would have almost been more effective for there to be some remote island filled with the sole survivors of a doomed planet and the X-Men wipe them out to show us how far they've fallen, that they'd kill the remaining members of that race. Because Sinister matters, he can't be dead for good -- so did genocide happen or not?

I know, I'm asking a lot of questions. That's partly my style and partly never reading a comic where the protagonists take it upon themselves to do something like this. Kill a small group of bad guys? Sure. Kill an entire race? No.

Except for maybe the Skrulls. I'd forgotten all about them.

And the Asgardians over in The Ultimates #2, slaughtered by the Children of Tomorrow, who, while villains, were also presented in a somewhat sympathetic/relatable light.


That's really fucked up.

Genocide as storytelling device. Good job there, Marvel.

Next: AVX: VS #5 and Wolverine and the X-Men #15.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of August 22, 2012

I am tired after sitting in the sun all day at the Tigers/Jays game. Well, not so much tired from that as the getting to and from the game via tunnel bus (none of the delays were Transit Windsor's fault). Just a hot and tiring day. But, it was also a lot of fun and a really great day nonetheless.

glamourpuss #26: I stopped reading this somewhere in the area of issue 12, I think. I still bought it every two months, but found that the release schedule made the Alex Raymond portion of this comic a little hard to follow properly. 11 (or so) pages every two months didn't exactly drill details into my head. So, I decided to simply save up the issues for a big reread and, now, the book has ended. I guess I get my chance. I did read Dave Sim's closing text piece and damn if that wasn't the most depressing thing I've read for some time. And it isn't him saying "Oh woe is me!" or expecting sympathy or pity -- it's just a man laying out how fucked he is and how fucked up the industry he works in can be. And he isn't blaming anyone either. It's just... sad. Sad that this is the reality of things. [TBD]

Scalped #60: The other big ending and it didn't blow me away. Too big of expectations? Too let down by the downer ending? I don't know... It just seemed like it didn't cohere entirely. Too much effort put in to making things ambiguous or left wide open for too many characters? In a sense, it felt like another issue of an ongoing, serialised story. Which is fine... but it doesn't necessarily make for the 'best' conclusion. I liked this issue and will no doubt grow to see it as the most appropriate ending for this series, but, right now... I'm not feeling it as much as I'd like to. [Not yet, no]

Secret Avengers #30: Ha ha ha... fuck you, Max Fury! You ain't no person! YOU AIN'T NO PERSON! [***1/4]

The Ultimates #14: "Hey, Sam, welcome on board The Ultimates. We know that you're following Jonathan Hickman and his run, with Esad Ribic and Dean White on art, has been highly regarded by some. We want to give you the best start possible by pairing you with artists that are vastly inferior and will make this book look like everything else on the shelf. That will help you win 'em over! Good luck, son!"

...okay, it doesn't help that Humphries's dialogue runs a bit too far towards the 'typical' superhero shit either. Hickman had a lighter touch, a way of making his different ideas seem different. If you look at what happens in this comic, it's not that different from what Hickman was doing it. How it happens, how it's presented, though, is very different and it's not as good. It's not as engaging, it doesn't have the same verve or energy. I hope it gets better, because, on a plot- and idea-level, it's still a good comic. On every other one, though... [**1/2]

Untold Tales of the Punisher MAX #3: A new exhibit for how, sometimes, self-contained single issue comics are just fucking boring. [**]

The Unwritten #40: Man, Tom's takedown of the crazy man was great. I'm glad that they held off on him showing up for a few issues. The best issue of the latest arc... But there still isn't a sense of what this book is about anymore and where it's going. I guess we'll have to wait and see on that end. [***3/4]

Wolverine annual #1: A great conclusion to this trio of annuals. Davis did a good job at making each self-contained but telling a larger story. Though, really, it seems like it should have just been a Dr. Strange/ClanDestine crossover mini-series or something. But, hey, if sticking these stories in annuals of other books helped make them happen, I'm not going to complain too much. Another big story to add to the ClanDestine group of titles. Lovely. [***3/4]


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 20 (Avengers vs. X-Men #10 and Avengers #29)

What does Scott Summers want?

I've been pondering that question and I'm not sure I know the answer. I don't think there is one, because he doesn't know what he wants. I've argued that he was the only 'pure' one of the Phoenix hosts; that his belief in his cause and in Hope kept him above the pettiness of the others. He was never corrupted by the Phoenix and still hasn't been. It's not power that has driven Cyclops to his actions in Avengers vs. X-Men #10, despite all appearances. It's all Hope's 'fault.'

She didn't ask for Summers's belief in her. She almost always bristled against, not considering herself the saviour of anything, but that didn't stop Scott from believing more and more, becoming an extremist and zealot for the mutant cause with her at the centre of his belief. Avengers vs. X-Men, in a sense, has been a story about Scott's faith being proven right. The Phoenix arrived and, theoretically, has been an instrument for good as the 'Phoenix Five' worked to make the world a better place, let down only by their own weaknesses. They succumbed to corruption because they weren't strong enough to stick to the path. Scott never had that problem. When his fellow hosts wanted to simply kill the Avengers, he stood firm in the knowledge that their cause was just and, eventually, that would win out. There's only so long that you can stare utopia in the face and decry it.

What's driven Scott into similar territory as the rest is the rejection of the saviour he put so much faith in. Hope chose to turn her back on the mutants, on the X-Men, on the cause -- on him. He never thought that he was going to be a permanent host for the Phoenix. He, and the others, were placeholders until the true host, the saviour, would take her rightful place, assume the mantle of the Phoenix, and save mutantkind from extinction. Except, of course, Hope didn't want that. She never saw herself as the saviour and wasn't comfortable with that role. More than that, she shared the Avengers' view on the Phoenix hosts and their descent in corruption and weakness. So, she ran away with the non-believers -- the heretics -- and turned her back on Scott, denying his faith.

Reading Avengers vs. X-Men #10, it's obvious that Scott isn't like the others. He's angry and grows angrier as the issue progresses, not at the Avengers, but at Hope and her refusal to accept his set of beliefs. It's a little surprising how much of this story is based around religion. When Hope chooses the Scarlet Witch and the beliefs of K'un L'un, it's basically Jesus succumbing to temptation in the desert in Scott's mind. After all, the Scarlet Witch (red witch -- definite satanic imagery) is the person responsible for the destruction of mutantkind, while K'un L'un's beliefs are based around a dragon (a lizard -- a FLYING SNAKE!). She is the fallen saviour is his eyes... maybe the false saviour? Is Hope the Anti-Christ of the mutants? The false prophet that everyone is fooled by and brings ruination...

It's easy to write off Scott's actions as further proof of power corrupting, but that feels wrong to me. Especially when you look at the cover to issue 11 where he is fighting Emma Frost on the cover. It could be a similar situation to the Colussus/Magik 'fight' from issue nine; or, it could be Scott embracing the idea that is sure to be growing in his mind: if he's the only 'true believer,' if he's the one that's kept the mutant race alive for so long, if he's the one who has resisted the corruption of the Phoenix... maybe he is the true saviour. Maybe he was the answer all along and all false prophets and those who stray from the cause, who use it for selfish reasons and wallow in corruption, must be eliminated.

And, yet, oddly, I laugh at the idea that Scott is anything but the picture of sanity.


In all of the contradictions in Avengers vs. X-Men, Avengers #29 is not one of them. It shows an alternate version of the events from Wolverine and the X-Men #12 -- drastically different, even. But, it also ends with Charles Xavier wiping everyone's memories and letting them believe it played out how it would if he weren't involved. What we saw in Wolverine and the X-Men #12 was the version of events as the participants remembered it. I like that idea.

Next week: Uncanny X-Men #17.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of August 15, 2012

Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #8: I can only imagine how frustrating the wait must have been for Casey given that this is the last issue. That was a surprise, wasn't it? I can't recall being surprised like that before. The comic just comes out and, boom, done. It snuck up on us. And I think it was the right call. Not just ending the book -- who am I to tell these guys how long to keep making this book -- but not announcing it. The shape of the story wasn't apparent until now. It wasn't a 'waiting out the clock' game. No looking at your watch and going "Oh, there's only five minutes left in the episode, I guess it's time for them to catch the killer" bullshit. Instead, it's a wonderful surprise kick to the gut with strong writing, amazing art, and a desire for more. Always leave 'em wanting and all that... But, also, everything is ending now it seems and, now, this, too. Just when I thought I had it back, it's over. That kinda sucks. [****1/2]

Daredevil #17: I don't know why, but I have the impression that this comic is, like, 40% stories about the past. I get it, Matt and Foggy are best buds and the current situation is unnatural. Good art. [***1/2]

Fatale #7: Something was lost in the wait... What? It's true. [***1/2]

Wonder Woman #12: The fight scene! Apollo on the throne! THE FINAL PAGE! And, now, we have to wait an extra month for what happens next thanks to fucking zero month. [Fuck you, DC]

X-Men #34: Five pages just to show some guy on a boat getting a package... Only one page of Cyclops chewing out Storm... Cyclops definitely has that 'asshole police chief' vibe in that scene. I'd read more comics about that. I really would. Hell, I would have read a comic about a small police squad in Utopia, busting up crime, busting heads... did such a comic exist and I missed it? Probably not. I do like this comic, though. They're trying to take down mutant-gene-drinking L. Ron Hubbard after all. That's pretty neat. I wish Roland Boschi would let loose a little more, though. [***1/2]


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 19 (New Avengers #29)

This right here is the high point of Avengers vs. X-Men. Throughout his time on the Avengers titles, Brian Michael Bendis has used the Illuminati to varying degrees of success. The group, through its various incarnations, have led to some of the Bendis's smartest writing and some of his worst. The mini-series devoted to the group's actions at different points in the past was pretty terrible on almost all levels. The original one-shot was interesting in the way it showed the beginnings of the group, but fell apart near the end. Bendis tried to recreate the concept with Norman Osborn's Cabal at the beginning of "Dark Reign." Most recently, the Illuminati was revealed to the Avengers in Avengers after the Hood stole the Infinity Gems that they each kept hidden. There, Captain American first condemned the concept of a group like that before agreeing that it was necessary and joining.

If you're unaware, the Illuminati is a group of heroes that meet from time to time to consider problems that affect the world as a whole and decide how best to solve them. It's a smart idea, one that takes the idea of superheroes to a logical place, one that, on the surface, seems like it's too far, but, upon reflection, isn't actually any different than anything the superheroes do. And every time someone like Captain America tries to act like it is, he stands revealed as small.

The emergence of the Phoenix Five actually makes for an interesting counterpart to the Illuminati. They are, basically, the same leap that the Illuminati was from the Avengers/X-Men/Fantastic Four, but from the Illuminati. They seek to reshape the world, affect large change, except they do it overtly rather than covertly as the Illuminati preferred. None of this is stated directly in New Avengers #29, but the underlying sentiment that there isn't necessarily anything different or wrong about what the Phoenix Five are doing is seen throughout. Is it that the Phoenix Five are, somehow, evil, or is it that Captain America sees himself small and weak next to them, jealous that they can affect more positive change on the world in a week than he has, perhaps, ever done?

This issue is a series of conversations as people arrive and depart. Captain America has called a meeting of the Illuminati, particularly for Namor, hoping that they can all talk to Namor and convince him to turn on the X-Men and see the error of his ways. Given that Namor still has the Phoenix here, I think we all know that that doesn't happen. But, even if he were still a host of the Phoenix, no one would really think that that would happen. In the comic, only Captain America thinks he'll actually show up at all.

What impresses me most about this comic is that it's the first that I've read to step back and really try to examine the various implications of what's going on in Avengers vs. X-Men, what that means to these characters, and how it fits into the larger context of the Marvel Universe since Bendis took over the Avengers books. If Avengers vs. X-Men is meant to be the culmination of culminations, this is the first comic that seemed like it was trying to make that explicit instead of simply confusing repetition for allusion.

The inclusion of Reed Richards and Charles Xavier is what sets this comic apart. Xavier has made some small appearances in Avengers vs. X-Men so far, but this is where you see what he truly thinks of what's happening. The anguish he suffers over his dream perverted, of his first student and the man that's basically his son (despite their estangement in recent years) setting himself up as dictator of the Earth. Xavier's reactions in the main series to what's happening have never quite felt clear/explained because of the demands there. Here, he's bitter and angry, pissed off that the other all blame him for what's happening and even more pissed off because he agrees with them. His angry rant is great and a brief moment where that character actually felt like he mattered for the first time since... when was the last time Charles Xavier actually meant anything to anyone? In a sense, his appearance in this issue addresses that: this is all his personal failure. His falling out with Scott Summers, his basic excommunication of sorts from the X-Men and the mutant community... it has allowed for this situation to happen and this is the payoff of those earlier stories. Even if the payoff is a man looking at what he's created and realising that he fucked up. He fucked it all up and, now, he has to decide what to do. Bendis offers no solution or answers, and that's rare.

Richards's contribution is that of logic and reason: just because you assume that the X-Men will become corrupt with power, doesn't mean that they will. At that moment in time, there was no reason to think that Cyclops and the others had anything but good intentions. After all, the only actions they'd undertaken that seemed 'off message' were their skirmishes with the Avengers and the Avengers had as much to do with causing those as the X-Men (probably more). Instead of continually poking at Cyclops and trying to undermine his work, what would happen if Captain America and the Avengers joined them, tried to help and, in the process, work to keep them from losing sight of their goals with corruption? Richards lays out a compelling argument for stopping the fighting and working with the X-Men, even raising the events of Civil War as evidence of the a previous time when Captain America and Iron Man decided that violence was the solution to an argument with friends and allies over different ways of seeing the world. It's an implied shaming, a moment where Richards reminds them (and us) that Civil War and the ensuing fallout taught them nothing.

The final scene between Captain America and Namor, along with the opening sequence, is Bendis trying to reconcile Namor's behaviour with the fact that people like Cap continue to consider him a friend/ally. In a sense, Cap's problem is also his strength. He is a man of the past, so things like loyalty are hard for him to shake, but that also means that he struggles with change. He doesn't trust new. And that's understandable. He's had more new than most people could ever hope to see and, to a certain extent, he probably thinks all of it is worse than what he used to know. That means he stands by the man he fought side-by-side with in World War 2, but it also means that Namor has a point when he says that Cap's problem could be that he fears what the world will look like soon, because he doesn't know if there will be a place in it for him.

On the surface, New Avengers #29 is an issue that should present the Avengers's perspective (something that's been lacking in the tie-ins), but, instead, critiques it while contextualising Avengers vs. X-Men into both the Avengers and X-Men's recent histories. This is a story that's the result of both Charles Xavier's failed dream, and the inability for Captain America and Iron Man to allow change to happen except on their terms. It's the best issue of the entire Avengers vs. X-Men event so far.

Next week: Avengers vs. X-Men #10 and Avengers #29.

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of August 8, 2012

Avengers Assemble #6: You fuck with Thanos, you get to die in space. He's already killed ya before, Avengers... why you wanna fuck with him again? [**3/4]

Captain America #16: This storyarc really isn't clicking with me. I understand mind control is involved, but it seems so lazy -- a way to justify a plot where, uh, a TV pundit turns Americans against Captain America by pointing out that he's not able to defeat everyone everywhere at all times? It's just dumb. Never mind that the art totally kills a central scene of this issue because Eaton can't make it clear what's going on. [**1/2]

Daredevil annual #1: The second of the three Alan David ClanDestine-centric annuals being done this year and I like how this one follows up on the first one, centring things around Vincent's death and showing the next step in that. Though it's not Davis's fault, how many more comics will we have to read where someone gets inside Daredevil's mind and freaks out at his enhanced senses this year? My favourite moment: "But I didn't win." [***1/2]

Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #12: An unexpected approach to the storytelling in this issue. It's not quite as effective as you'd hope, mostly giving the whole thing a sped up, rushed through feel, like Kindt needed to cram it all in so the story wouldn't be broken up too much by next month's zero issue. Is that what happened? I don't know. I also don't care, because that's what it reads like. Which, of course, makes the decision to tell this story a poorer one if that's not the reason why he made it. [***]

Godzilla: The Half-Centry War #1: I don't really know much about Godzilla specifically beyond the most superficial of things. James Stokoe's visual depiction of the giant thunder lizard surprised me a little, but I rather like it. I love the fiery word balloon he does for Godzilla. The story is pretty basic, but the art is gorgeous. I'm glad I'm picking this one up. [***1/2]

The Massive #3: Man, I'd just rather read about Unalaska. Not really a negative thing about this comic since I enjoy it -- more that I think I'd rather read about Unalaska. Especially during the Cold War. Beyond that, I really like the idea of trying to be a pacifist group in this world and the struggles that would create. Clever stuff. [***3/4]

The Mighty Thor #18: More Alan Davis! How lucky are we this week? VERY. That's how lucky we are this week. A solid mood-setting issue for "Everything Burns." [***1/2]

Punk Rock Jesus #2: Oh shit, I didn't have time to read this yesterday. It was the only comic that I didn't read. Er... Be right back.





...back. Another great issue. I wasn't sure what to expect from Murphy as a writer, but he's quite good. Engaging, a little melodramatic at times, but also unexpected. He's taking his time getting to the 'punk rock' teenage 'Jesus' from the promo images, isn't he? And I don't mind one bit. The "I painted it pink" part was both hilarious and a clear window into how fucked up Thomas is. Damn good. [****]

Spider-Men #4: That cover is a total lie. But, most of this issue simply consisting of Peter, Miles, May, and Gwen talking was great. Bendis really knows how to write those scenes well. I could read a monthly comic called "Conversations" where it's like Marvel Team-Up except it's just two heroes in a room having a conversation if Bendis was writing it. [***3/4]


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 18 (Avengers vs. X-Men #9)

In many ways, this issue feels like an issue that, somehow, sums up the various external problems that have plagued this event from the beginning. Contradictions, an uneven flow from issue to issue, and a generally predictable path as the Phoenix Five Four Two become more and more corrupt in the most obvious, unsubtle manner possible. Yet, it's a surprisingly engaging read if you ignore all of that stuff and try to take the issue on a single-serving basis. Ignore that anything came before and anything will come after and it's good. It's too bad that that's now how this comic exists, nor how it was meant to exist.

Though, even taken by itself, there are some big problems with this issue. The unsubtle (which should be the official 'buzz word' of this event) way in which Spider-Man tells Hope in a rather repetitive manner that every Avengers gets his or her moment and you just need to wait and take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself... right before opportunity presents itself for Spider-Man. Or, there's the puzzling way that Spider-Man's narration on the first page is somehow taking place at the same time as his narration when the issue catches up to that moment in the future. Somehow, he's thinking two different things at the same time while barely maintaining consciousness and facing a likely death. (Also, he was unconscious at some point?) It's a convenient cheat that's beneath Jason Aaron (who hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire during this event); it's also something that sets this issue apart stylistically from the rest of the Avengers vs. X-Men mini-series, much like Aaron's narraton captions in issue two. He is clearly not even trying write towards a cohesive style, which is either good or bad depending on what you want out of this book and its quintet of writers.

But, also within this issue is Spider-Man doing what he does best: refusing to quit. He stands up and takes a hell of a beating for the sole purpose of making sure his friends get away safely. If you ignore the heavyhanded foreshadowing and the flashforward, it's a strong moment for the character. It may be an obvious attempt to create such a moment, but it's true to the character and is the sort of thing that was required to hammer home just how corrupt and pathethic the X-Men have become. Two of the Phoenix co-hosts can't help but kick the shit out of a guy that one of them beat up before getting Phoenix powers.

I also loved the panel where the Avengers help their Limbo-imprisoned teammates back to K'un L'un and everyone needs help of some kind... except for Luke Cage. The Thing can barely walk, Thor needs to be carried, the rest all lean on a teammate and Luke Cage is leading the way, clearly wondering why they even bothered to escape to K'un L'un, ready to rush back and kick some ass. I don't know if that was in the script or if Adam Kubert just knows that Luke Cage is the fucking man.

If you try to put Avengers vs. X-Men #9 in context, it seems weaker. The Spider-Man/Colussus and Magik fight is a simple retread of the Spider-Man/Colussus fight in AVX: VS #2, but more heavyhanded and forced in its attempt to make Spider-Man look like he doesn't give up, while showing that Colussus and Magik have lost it. It's making the same point we've already seen with the same characters and doesn't add anything new. If Spider-Man was in a hopeless, unwinnable battle against pre-Phoenix Colussus, are things actually worse when he's fighting Phoenix-possessed Colussus and Magik? No. Once you hit 'hopeless and unwinnable,' degree doesn't matter. If we already saw Colussus pound Spider-Man to a pulp and Spider-Man continue to stand up, why should we care now?

The method of Thor's capture by the X-Men also seems somewhat contradictory to what we saw in AVX: VS as the fourth issue had Emma Frost no sell Thor's attempts to beat her up and completely destroyed him. Yet, here, we see that Thor was captured fighting Colussus and Magik. Was this because Emma somehow just walked away, leaving Thor to wake up and go about his business? Or was it because we just needed a scene showing how formidable Colussus and Magik are before Spider-Man stood up and got pounded into the ground? Either way, it adds little (though I almost appreciate the effort to show us the power of the Rasputins) and is another case of scenes in two comics not lining up in this event.


Tony Stark sitting in a dark room, muttering, "The Phoenix. Wanda's hex magic. Hope. The Iron Fist. Somehow it all fits together... Somehow..." In that scene, is he the readers or the writers?


Next week: New Avengers #29.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of August 1, 2012

Action Comics #12: How can one empty their brain of all thought and still explain how they're emptying their brain of all thought? Also: RIP Johnny Clark. [***]

Age of Apocalypse #6: I love how, on the cover of this issue, Cyclops takes a punch from Colossus and his head stays attached to his body. This series remains a little strange, a mixture of awful people and even worse people... a lack of anything approaching a plot... characters that fail to leave any impression... Yet, I'm drawn to it somehow. [***]

Black Kiss 2 #1: This is some fucked up shit. A dude survived the sinking of the Titanic because a Succubus anally raped him. A move screen comes alive and shoots out tentacle penii to rape the audience. There... there's something wrong with Howard Chaykin, I think. [So... I have to wait a month for issue two?]

The Boys #69: We march towards the conclusion and it's not quite the same lively march that other Ennis series have had at the end, but the sense of dread is somehow bigger. It's a proper superhero story in many ways. A pretty easy to grasp attempt to kill a large chunk of the world's population, allies betrayed and killed, and one lone man standing alone to stop his former mentor. It was inevitable almost that, after last issue, two more would fall here. What I can't figure out is how the V-A folks will factor in. And what of Annie? [****]

Daredevil #16: The Pym/Murdock stuff left me cold, but Waid and Samnee nailed the Foggy/Matt scene. [***1/2]

The Defenders #9: Heh... I liked that. It never quite cohered how you can picture it meaning to, but it was still pretty fun. Somehow, though, two issues in and McKelvie's art hasn't quite lived up to expectations/past work. It feels almost at odds with Fraction's writing. He needs something a little wilder. [***1/4]

Fury MAX #5: Reading this, if this weren't based on what happened, you'd think that Ennis was writing a pretty bad comic in how the whole Bay of Pigs thing goes down. And, yet, that's how it happened. Fucked up. I love their surprise when they learn that Castro wasn't hiding in some bunker, letting other people do all of the fighting for him. [****]

Gødland #36: From the beginning of this issue, the endpoint seemed obvious, but no less satisfying when it was reached. It's amazing how big this got while still maintaining a small, human perspective. Scioli fucking brought it and Casey is at his verbose, hyperbolic best. This is the comic that I'll be thinking about for a while, picking up, flipping through, and just lingering on cøsmic cømic gøødness. [øøøøø]

Hawkeye #1: Not at all what I was expecting. This is a pretty different take than what we've seen before and it has potential. A little cheesy in places, but definitely an attempt to carve out a unique spot for this character. And, y'know... David Aja... yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah. [***3/4]

RASL #15: And, so it ends where it began and it's a great final issue. Smith lingers a bit here and there and his visual storytelling is incredible. So clear and engaging. I'll miss this book. It was always something new and surprising right down to the final page. [****1/2]

X-Men #33: Somewhat disappointing. I'm not really a fan of the whole 'bad guy is confronted, brags about the hero is too late, and kills himself' thing. It seems like a cheap way to provide 'closure' on the story while leaving the door open for more later. Like, the cheapest way to do so. But, the focus here is more on the characters and what this mission meant to them and, in that respect, Wood and Lopez succeed. [***1/4]