Friday, December 20, 2013

Review # 87: "X-Factor - 'Short Stories' and 'Hell On Earth War'"

I was overjoyed to learn a few months ago that Peter David's exploits with X-Factor would continue in a new form starting next year with a nearly brand-new cast. Polaris is set to be involved along with the return of Quicksilver... and the surprising inclusion of Gambit! I am incredibly curious to see David's spin on the popular-yet-poor (in my opinion) character. He could do some great things with Remy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review # 86: "The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1"

The first compendium collection of "The Walking Dead" is a gripping page-turner that - remarkably - leaves me unsure if I want to keep reading and absolutely sure that I will never watch the TV show.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review # 85: "Cable and X-Force: Dead or Alive"

"Cable and X-Force" is a great series provided you don't care about plot. The second volume is an entertaining read despite its lack of tension while character interaction continues to be a hoot.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review # 84: "JLA by Grant Morrison - Volumes One and Two"

With sales sagging on Justice League, DC made the wise decision of blowing the property up and starting over with a single team of heavy-hitters. The classic lineup of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Flash (Wally West instead of Barry Allen) and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner instead of Hal Jordan) was back together. From there, DC took a gamble with lesser-known artist Howard Porter and arguably another with writer Grant Morrison.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review # 83: "Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron Vol. 7 (The Hellfire Saga)"

"The Hellfire Saga" is so good it gives Jason Aaron a serious claim as one of the greatest X-Men writers of all time. It's one of those stories where everything comes together so well that it makes all that preceded it much better. Quite an achievement considering - despite sidetracks from the Avengers vs. X-Men event - it took about 30 issues of build to get there.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review # 82: "The Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne Vol. 1"

Several years before Joe Kelly made Deadpool famous by having the title character break the fourth wall, John Byrne did the same with She-Hulk in the 1989 relaunch of her title. The result is more quirky than funny, but it's very, very smart.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review # 81: "Elektra: Assassin"

Start with "The Dark Knight Returns." Mix in "Born Again." Then add a mishmash of drugs even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wouldn't touch and you get "Elektra: Assassin."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review # 80: "Spider-Man - The Death of Jean DeWolff"

I love Peter David's run on X-Factor. Yet I've been reluctant to pick up what many herald as his greatest work. "The Death of Jean DeWolff" is regarded not only as one of the best Spider-Man stories, but as one of the best in the history of comics. There's just one problem: overcoming my general apathy for Spider-Man.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review # 79: "X-Men - Second Coming" (and "Second Coming: Revelations")

"Second Coming" is a landmark event for the X-Men, wrapping up the Hope Trilogy with the greatest threat mutantkind has faced as a species: complete annihilation. They have saved the world before, they've faced monstrous fellow mutant supervillains with grand designs that would leave bodies in their wake. They have not, however, faced a hate crime so massive that it threatens to kill them all.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review # 78: "Yukon Ho!"

"Yukon Ho!" is the turning point for Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes" for three reasons: volume, sarcasm and cruelty. Calvin yells more, his parents have drier reactions and everyone is much better at getting under the skin of someone else. It makes the strip much, much funnier.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review # 77: "'The Walking Dead Vol. 1 - Days Gone Bye' and 'Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 - Unmanned'"

It may seem odd to group these two collections together, but to me it makes sense. These are the first two comic collections I've ever purchased that don't involve superheroes, though they are still clearly in the realm of sci-fi. When I brought the first volumes of "The Walking Dead" and "Y: The Last Man" to the counter at my local comic shop, I called the purchases "dangerous." Both people at the counter nodded in agreement.

We all read the situation perfectly. These are great. I want more.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review # 76: "X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee Omnibus Vol. 1"

Even though I've gone through all the issues included here before, there's a bit of culture shock as the last Chris Claremont X-Men work I'd read was the omnibus collecting the start of his run up until the beginning of "The Dark Phoenix Saga." We're talking about a ten year gap and a definite shift in style as the X-Men storylines are darker and a lot more cruel to the characters. This is coming in at a key moment, as - after "Inferno" wrapped up years worth of stories in a single swoop - Claremont is spinning a trademark, complex web of narratives for the last time before his exit from the franchise he defined.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review # 75: "The Mighty Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 2"

In my review of volume one, I noted that Walt Simonson had appeared to barely show his hand. I had no idea that his already solid run would get so good so fast.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review # 74: "Necrosha"

"Necrosha" is an underrated story that is a victim of bad timing. Resurrected by former Hellfire Club Black Queen Selene using a corrupting techno-organing virus, friend and foe alike are brought back from beyond the grave to attack the X-Men on Utopia. Selene, meanwhile, readies to feed on the souls of millions of dead mutants massacred on the island nation of Genosha years prior, which would transform her into a God. It's a violent, vile, gripping tale with two very well done parallel stories and a complex backdrop that touches on decades worth of material.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review # 73: "Nation X"

"Nation X" has the X-Men in a pretty cool place. Outside of a few exceptions, every mutant hero is now living on one big island made out of what was once Asteroid M. Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Professor X, the original New Mutants, the New X-Men and many, many others are now directly interacting.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review # 72: "Dark Avengers/X-Men - Utopia"

Norman Osborn had secretly taken over the world. His Green Goblin persona under control, he had formed a secret cabal, taken command of SHIELD and formed his own Avengers team while keeping the originals on the run. Far more frightening as a villain smiling for the cameras than he had ever been with a glider and pumpkin bombs, life for Orborn was as good as it got.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review # 71: "Something Under the Bed is Drooling"

The second "Calvin and Hobbes" book is more of the same, though Bill Watterson is stepping up his game to a small degree. He's still a far climb from the peak.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review # 70: "Calvin and Hobbes"

I know this blog is mainly dedicated to superhero books (and Marvel ones at that,) but I figured with the recent release of a Kickstarter-funded documentary... what the hell? The subject is fresh in a lot of people's minds, and I wanted to dive back in.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review # 69: "Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron Vol. 6"

For the first time with Jason Aaron's "Wolverine and the X-Men" I'm putting down the trade not feeling particularly impressed. However, I understand what's going on here as a necessary evil.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review # 67: "Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 1"

The re-launch of X-Men that began with "Giant Size X-Men # 1" is unlike anything else in comics. Under the pen of Chris Claremont, it revolutionized storytelling within the medium creating unrivaled, long-term, interwoven plots the likes of which had never been seen. He may not have created Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman and Angel. He may not have created Professor X and Magneto. He may not have created Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus. However, Claremont is without a doubt the father of the X-Men. He was on the book for nearly two straight decades, defining an entire sector of the Marvel Universe. Many of his plots have been adapted into major feature films and animated TV series. Some multiple times. The imprint he has left on his craft is massive.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review # 66: "Uncanny X-Men - Sisterhood"

Despite the crapfest known as "X-Infernus" being billed as the sequel to "Inferno," one could argue that the pages of "Uncanny X-Men" at practically the same time were making a much stronger claim. "Sisterhood" is a novel concept as the spectre of Madelyne Pryor hatches a plan to claim the body of Jean Grey as a vessel. So she forms a team that includes Spiral, Deathstrike, Lady Mastermind, Martinique and Chimera to do her dirty work. Their first task: finding Betsy Braddock's original body. Pryor, you see, found Psylocke hopping around realities, trapped her, and - in the process of transplanting her consciousness - brainwashed her.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review # 65: "X-Force/Cable - Messiah War"

"Messiah War" is a big, fat slice of the 90s served up in 2009. X-Force. Cable. Bishop. Stryfe. Apocalypse. It's an over-the-top romp with big guns, cannon fodder and a lot of interior monologue. However, it learns from the past by not getting trapped in 90s mistakes. The stories don't drag, the villains don't state the obvious and both sides fight each other without trying to compete on a debate team.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review # 64: "X-Infernus"

I love "Inferno." Well, the X-Men/X-Factor side of the story, to say. The crossover by Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri, Louise Simonson and Walt Simonson that rewrote the history of Jean Grey and Madelyne Pryor is the most well-executed retcon of all time with a breathtaking climax. Now, there was a third part involving the New Mutants that I never read, but it was the payoff to the years-long story of Illyana Rasputin - Colossus' sister - who had been abducted by Belasco - the ruler of Limbo - to become his successor.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review # 63: "Uncanny X-Men - Lovelorn"

Matt Fraction is Marvel's golden boy right now with his acclaimed work on "Hawkeye" and "FF," but things weren't always rosy in the public eye. His run on "Uncanny X-Men" was not the most popular in the world and drove a few people away from the series. Frankly, I don't get the hate. Some criticize Fraction for making "Uncanny X-Men" the "Scott and Emma Show." But, really... who cares? They were the centre not only of the team at the time, but of mutantkind's place in the Marvel Universe. If you wanted Rogue and Gambit, there was "X-Men Legacy." If you wanted Nightcrawler and Colossus, there was "X-Infernus." Um... er... OK, maybe not. I'll get to that next time. If you wanted Wolverine, the man was EVERYWHERE, front-and-centre in his solo series and "X-Force," and it's not like he completely disappears while the X-Men are in San Francisco.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review # 62: "Fantastic Four - Road Trip"

Damn it, Marvel: you got me. Originally, I had no plans to follow Matt Fraction's run on "Fantastic Four," but meshing his first three issues with the team with his first three issues with FF got enough of its hooks into me to drop 18 bucks on the second trade. I figure: why not? Fraction is on a roll, though its weird that the biggest property he's been working on with Marvel is the black sheep of his current output.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review # 61: "Deadpool - Soul Hunter"

In my review for Uncanny X-Force's "Final Execution," I mentioned that I was a little disappointed that - after Rick Remender turned Deadpool into a full-fledged hero - Wade had regressed to his goofy, inconsequential ways in Marvel NOW! Keep in mind I still liked "Dead Presidents," but I thought there was potential for a lot more with the character. So colour me surprised when I realized that Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan had actually managed to craft an engaging, ongoing narrative and a strong cast of characters. ALL of Deadpool's new clique (including the failed necromancer Michael, the dirty ghost of Ben Franklin and SHIELD Agent Preston - though she has no choice in the matter) stuck around for "Soul Hunter," which I did not expect. Deadpool has always gathered strange characters around him like Weasel or Blind Al, but strangely - despite their eccentricities - this group seems more human. Well, even though one is the ghost of a founding father and another is trapped in Wade's own head.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review # 60: "X-Men Legacy - 'Divided He Stands' and "Sins of the Father'"

Spread across multiple series, the "Divided We Stand" event saw members of the X-Men find themselves. No one had more of themselves to find than Charles Xavier. Shot in the head to conclude the events of "Messiah Complex," Professor X's body was abducted (thanks to Tempo) by the Acolytes. Under the watch of former lover Amelia Voght, first-class asshole Frenzy and New Excalibur tag-along Omega Sentinel, 90s overkill character Exodus attempts to repair what remains of Charles' fractured mind. Things aren't going well until the at-the-time powerless Magneto appears at Xavier's bedside, psychically drawing his old friend and rival out of his coma.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review # 59: "Uncanny X-Men - Divided We Stand"

"Messiah Complex" went madly off in all directions, so it should be no surprise that its follow-up moves in a straight line. Well, two straight lines to be exact. The "Uncanny X-Men" portion of "Divided We Stand" focuses on two stories: Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus taking a trip through Europe and Cyclops and Emma Frost taking some downtime of their own while simultaneously trying to locate team members who have disappeared.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review # 58: "X-Men - Messiah Complex"

After what seemed like an endless wave in the 90s, massive crossovers had fallen out of favour at Marvel. They'd become bloated, overly contrived and generally a pain in the ass for collectors. They just plain needed to go away for a while. So they did. The X-Men franchise, which had been the centrepoint for most company crossovers, abandoned the concept for close to a decade. Series like Grant Morrison's "New X-Men," "X-Force/X-Statix," Joss Whedon's "Astonishing X-Men" and Peter David's "X-Factor" stuck to their own stories, and the line enjoyed a creative renaissance.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review # 57: "X-Men - Endangered Species"

When it comes to superhero concepts, the X-Man Beast has to be among the best. Introduced as a young strongman bloke in the very first X-Men issue in 1963, Stan Lee had the brilliant idea of making Hank McCoy, well... brilliant. The intelligence he began to display in X-Men #3 set him apart from the likes of the Thing and years later, when Gerry Conway (inspired by Roy Thomas) turned Beast into a grotesque, fur-covered, gorilla-like creature it made the contrast that much better. Hank became a walking representation of how you can't judge anyone by not only their appearance, but in this case their mutation. Beast is a symbol for the entire series.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review # 56: "X-Men - Deadly Genesis"

"Deadly Genesis" is a bit of a placeholder story after "House of M" despite some major repercussions within its pages. It tightens up the loose end of Professor X's whereabouts but doesn't do much in the way of forwarding the M-Day storyline.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review # 55: "House of M"

A lot of people hate "House of M." It was a status quo shift that people were uncomfortable with and - unlike many other event comics - it stuck for a long time. The repercussions were felt for eight whole years and you could argue they still are.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review # 54: "X-Factor - 'The Road to Redemption' and 'Breaking Points'"

I almost find it hard to believe that - after these sets - there are only three volumes of Peter David's "X-Factor" left to go. In that sense, there's a bit of a feeling that things are being rushed. However, it would be more fair to suggest they're "chaotic." After all, the "Hell on Earth War" is on the horizon. "The Road to Redemption" feels like the setup to the setup.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review # 53: "The Mighty Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 1"

Ever since "The Avengers" was released in theatres last year, I'd been wanting to sample a few offerings from the team's big three. Ed Brubaker's run up to and death of Captain America, Iron Man's "Demon in a Bottle" and "Extremis" (review)... though it's taken me a while to get to Thor. I was too late, unfortunately, to snatch up a copy of Walt Simonson's writer/artist run on the title in a recoloured omnibus before it went out of print. Instead, I've turned to a series of five trade paperbacks as a consolation prize, set for release on a schedule over the next few months.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review # 52: "Avengers Assemble by Brian Michael Bendis"

Hoping to capitalize on the success of the film, "Avengers Assemble" was originally conceived as a series for younger readers but accessible to all. There's a greater emphasis on action, and less on character motivation. However, the result is a tale that is wonderfully old-school, and readers who enjoy classic material will likely find it to be the best Brian Michael Bendis Avengers story in years.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review # 51: "Daredevil by Brubaker and Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 3"

Time to bid goodbye to Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark as they wrap up their time on "Daredevil," leaving Matt Murdock in a weird place in the process. Their final story is a bombastic romp. Unfortunately, there's other stuff to slog through first.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review # 50: "Daredevil by Brubaker and Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 2"

After escaping jail and having the FBI backtrack on their (true) allegations that he's Daredevil, Matt Murdock is in a pretty good place at the start of Volume Two. Of course, it doesn't last. While the Man Without Fear patrols the city at night, his wife Milla waits worrying at the window. Their marriage is being held together, it seems, by blind love.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review # 49: "Daredevil by Brubaker and Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 1"

Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark had the unenviable task of directly following Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev on "Daredevil." While Lark's artwork isn't quite as eye-catching as Maleev's, it's still excellent. Brubaker, meanwhile, takes over writing the life of "The Man Without Fear" without missing a step.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review # 48: "Avengers - The Children's Crusade"

"The Children's Crusade" had every reason to succeed: it thrust the Young Avengers into a prominent role in what should have been a major arc - the redemption of Scarlet Witch. It brought back the original "Young Avengers" creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung to put it together. It has an All-Star cast: the Avengers, the X-Men, Magneto and Doctor Doom. And yet it falls flat.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review # 47: "Infinity Gauntlet"

"Infinity Gauntlet" was Marvel's first great event comic of the 90s and may have been the best of what was to become an overinflated decade. It had the right man at the helm for a Thanos story - his creator, Jim Starlin - and George Perez, still benefiting from the commercial windfall of DC's "Crisis on Infinite Earths," returning to Marvel to do pencils. While Perez was forced to bow out part-way, replaced very effectively by Starlin's recent "Silver Surfer" partner Ron Lim, the result was spectacular.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Review # 46: "Silver Surfer - Rebirth of Thanos"

After spending some time with DC (where he killed Jason Todd,) Jim Starlin returns to his throne as Marvel's King of the Cosmos. Teamed up with Ron Lim for the first time, Starlin picks up right where he left off, resurrecting Thanos as a force to be reckoned with in the pages of "Silver Surfer," setting up the events of "Infinity Gauntlet."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review # 45: "Uncanny X-Force - Final Execution"

It's time for Rick Remender to kiss "Uncanny X-Force" goodbye as Marvel moves him over to their flagship title of Marvel NOW!, "Uncanny Avengers." "Final Execution" offers a satisfying conclusion to his run, ending on a high note after the misstep that was "Otherworld."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review # 44 - "Uncanny X-Force - Otherworld"

I don't envy anyone who has to follow up a story as great as "The Dark Angel Saga." After such an incredible climax, perhaps the best course of action is to take things in a slightly different direction. That's what Rick Remender does with "Otherworld," as Fantomex is abducted by the Captain Britain Corps (which includes Psylocke's brothers Brian and Jamie) to pay for his actions at the end of "The Apocalypse Solution" and Betsy and X-Force launch a rescue mission.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Review # 42: "Uncanny X-Force - Deathlok Nation"

"Deathlok Nation" is a tricky story for me to review. I was originally going to include this with "The Apocalypse Solution," as it's very much an extended epilogue. But it just didn't seem to fit, so here it is on its own.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review # 41: "Fantastic Four - New Departure, New Arrivals" and "FF - Fantastic Faux"

The Fantastic Four have been on a hot streak when it comes to writers lately. Mark Waid's forced departure led to a fan backlash that extended his stay. Jonathan Hickman stretched the team to its limits, bringing characters like Spider-Man into the fold. Unfortunately, the run of his successor is being cut short as the red hot Matt Fraction is leaving a double 16-issue arc to pen a series about the Inhumans. He will still be plotting, just not scripting.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review # 40: "Uncanny X-Force - The Apocalypse Solution"

Marvel was on to something when it re-introduced X-Force as a hit squad during "Messiah Complex." While Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost did an admirable job putting together a team that was very much a callback to the Cable era, only under Wolverine, what Rick Remender did in the pages of "Uncanny X-Force" took it to the next level.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Review # 39: "X-Factor - 'They Keep Killing Jamie Madrox' and 'Together Again For The First Time'"

When we last left X-Factor, it appeared Jamie Madrox had been killed. Again. Jamie's death has been a red herring several times, turning out to be a dupe or something or other. This time it's different: he's not dead - he's "just" hopping from reality to reality. While this is not completely explained, it appears that if Jamie dies in an alternate timeline at the exact same moment, he ends up getting ripped into that dimension. How? Well, the trade IS called "They Keep Killing Jamie Madrox." The first universe isn't all that bad. Well, if you don't count Jamie and Layla being mauled to death on their wedding night. From there, Madrox is ripped into several more universes including one where Marvel's "Civil War" escalated to disastrous proportions and another where hell has been unleashed on earth.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review # 38: "X-Factor - 'Hard Labor' and 'Super Unnatural'"

Wandering through the pits of Hel? Meeting up with the Whore of Babylon? Bah. That's a cakewalk compared to "Hard Labor," possibly the high mark for the "Adult Layla" era of X-Factor.