Archive for X-Men

Cable and X-Force (and Hope)

Posted in Comics, Superhero with tags , , on April 6, 2014 by Cara Marie

So I finished reading Cable and X-Force (I got seriously behind on my comic subscriptions for a while) and damn, this was a good series. It strikes a good balance between action, silliness and pathos.

The final arc is a crossover with Uncanny X-Force, and apparently I will read crossovers if they involve only two series. I still find them kind of awkward – often I prefer one of the writers to the other, and I don’t always have any idea who the other characters are. But the crossover was centred around Hope (who is in Cable and X-Force), so that was okay.

Hope, and her dad, and her dad’s clone, and her own personal bogeyman. Read more »

Thor, Journey into Mystery, and Wolverine and the X-Men

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Middle fiction, Superhero with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by Cara Marie

Thor: The World Eaters

Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry

This was rather underwhelming. If Asgard is now on earth, what is in Asgard’s place? I like the idea, and I can see what it was going for – but it didn’t have nearly the length to develop it. This is a seven-issue arc, and it really needs, oh, twice that. More time on the bit players and the exodus from the other realms. A greater sense of dread.

On the other hand, it does introduce kid!Loki, who is totally my fav.

Journey into Mystery c. #632

Kieron Gillen and various artists

I feel this is just getting into its stride. I’ve loved it from the start, but I feel like having to tie into Fear Itself – and having quite important character stuff appear offscreen, in The Mighty Thor – meant it didn’t sit together as well as it could.

But it seems to read smoother now, having found the right tone. And Gillen is happy to spend issues with characters other than Loki – Volstagg telling Thor’s death to his children I especially like (Gillen just writes awesome Volstagg in general).

This issue is a light one, though it is still replete with how much of an outsider Loki is. And his determined cheer in the face of that. He and Leah make a great team.

'Oh, such dainty words,' Leah says. 'I feel something move, deep within me.' She proceeds to knee Loki in the groin, saying 'Vomit or bile, I'd wager.'

From issue 625, pencils by Doug Braithwaite, colours by Ulises Arreola.

Okay, not always. I love how, when Loki first encounters Leah, he tries to charm her with flattery. After she tells him to shove it, he moves to insulting her delightedly.

'You are a wonderful woman, Leah,' Loki says, 'Weave your magic and, assuming survival, I'll commission statues in your honour. And I'll make sure the sculptor makes a flattering one, disguising that hideously distended chin.'

Issue 629, pencils by Whilce Portacio, inks by Allen Martinez, colours by Arif Prianto and Jessica Kholinne.

More recently he has decided they are to be BFFs. Which Leah is not so happy with. Being as she’s living in a ‘dirty great hole in the ground’. But also, how much do I love Loki’s priorities when he talks about outfitting it for her. All the important things, ‘rugs and bedding and food and books’. Anyway. I will be most excited to see this friendship resolve itself!

Artwise, it’s varied quite a bit … Whilce Portacio I don’t like, I don’t like the character’s faces or the scratchy inkwork that goes with it. It probably doesn’t help coming after Doug Braithwaite either, who I think is awesome.

The latest issue is Mitch Breitweiser, who I do like and would be happy to see stick around. Although he may just be for the one issue. His style reminds me of old children’s illustrations, which works really well for this Yuletide issue. Also just the characters look like themselves and the right age.

This is my favourite comic coming out at the moment, and I hope it sticks around a long time to come.

Wolverine and the X-Men

Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo

I read the first two issues, but was not really pulled in. I find the art overly stylised and the layouts hard to follow. (I feel like I’m getting lazier when it comes to reading comics, by which I mean I expect the artists to do more of the work and actually think about how the eye is meant to move across the page, dammit.)

Reading a preview from issue four, I was sorry to read some of Idie’s dialogue, which just didn’t sound like the Idie I was reading in Generation Hope. Which makes me sad, because I liked Idie – I know a lot of people found her annoying – but it’s upsetting to see her moved into a new book, where she should have the chance to develop as a character (in a more positive environment) but instead she’s just changed into someone else. Someone easier. It’s like the writer read her dossier but didn’t look at her actual portrayal. So I don’t think I’ll bother keeping on with this.

Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver

Posted in Comics, Superhero with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by Cara Marie

Written by Sean McKeever, art by Mirco Perfederici, colours by Javier Tartaglia and Gerry Henderson

I picked this up mostly because I really like Scarlet Witch. For some fairly shallow reasons, admittedly. It’s not that I’ve read so much with her in it, but anyone who didn’t listen when their mother told them not to wear red and pink together is alright by me.

I’m fond of Quicksilver for more solid reasons. So I felt sad reading this, because he’s so young. He’s still earnest and right-minded. And as I’ve recently read Silent War, it was especially bittersweet to see him like that. (Silent War is an amazing comic – the artwork and especially the colours are stunning, but man, would I like it not to be canon. Not that Quicksilver hasn’t turned his life around since then, but it is painful.)

This was a satisfying story – not stand-out, but hey, at least it was optimistic. I’m not sure how long a time period it’s meant to be set over – it starts shortly before Magneto finds them, and ends with them joining the Avengers. But their time in the Brotherhood of Mutants is very skimmed over – enough to see, yes, Wanda has formed a relationship with Eric – strong enough that she calls him that, not Magneto – that she is willing to believe in him. But Pietro is discontented, questioning. Suspicious of Magneto’s motives around his sister. (Well, suspicious of everyone’s motives around his sister, not unjustifiably.)

(I wonder, when Pietro tells Wanda to put some clothes on, shall I take that as a reference to the X-Men: First Class movie? Because it’s not that he’s denying her pride in her mutanthood, it’s that no brother wants to see his sister naked. Ultimates notwithstanding.)

Despite Wanda’s name being first in the title, this is more Pietro’s story, told from his point of view. Wanda we only see through other people’s eyes, Pietro’s, or other men’s. Pietro we see through his own eyes (even literally, looking in a mirror). So I don’t really know Wanda any better at the end of this; it’s Pietro whose changes are most evident.

Well, and the changes in the whole Marvel universe. In this story, we see Pietro’s line in the sand come when Magneto expects him to kill. And there’s the sense of, gosh, what innocent days those were!

Now even the good guys can’t agree that children shouldn’t have to murder.

I think Wanda and Pietro have the right idea at the end of this. Going out and being in the world and of the world, like the rest of humanity.

Too bad for the present day status quo.

Ten reasons I love Cable and Deadpool

Posted in Comics, Superhero with tags , , , , on September 17, 2011 by Cara Marie

'But if you try anything like this again ... I'll throw you all into the ocean.'1. It’s funny. This is probably the initial appeal, and I feel like I shouldn’t enjoy Deadpool’s character so much, because, you know, it’s not very classy, but I do. He regularly makes me laugh out loud. And even when the series gets more intense, it keeps its sense of humour. I like that.

2. Deadpool might be the initial appeal, but he’s not my favourite character. Cable hits all these character kinks I never knew I had, his Jesus complex all tied up with his utopianism and I seriously have half an essay written about that. If you’re looking for a benevolent dictator, Cable’s the one you want. (Only till he can get you democratic elections in place, of course.)

3. Cable’s ideals aside, the series has enough violence to satisfy my sadistic tastes. I enjoy watching the slaughter. I possibly enjoy even more when Cable puts the fear in people without committing bodily harm. Of course, that’s what gets him into trouble – that he hasn’t done anything wrong makes him all the more suspect.

4. Violence, humour, saving the world by being a manipulative badass … probably no time for touchy-feely stuff, right? Wrong. I just want to stick in all the scans here, because it is kind of adorable how much they, Nate and Wade, Cable and Deadpool, mean to each other. Even if they might not say so in as many words.

For example, this exchange, where Deadpool has just double-crossed the X-Men. Nate says, 'The X-Men were the best offer you've ever had.' Wade says nothing. 'You believe in me.' 'Do not.' 'You do!' 'Shut up!' 'You actually think I can pull this off?' 'No, I don't!' 'Then why did you double-cross the X-Men?' Good question, Nate: Wade doesn't have an answer, and Nate just stands there smiling.

5. It’s not just Wade and Nate’s relationship that matters in this series; I enjoy seeing all Wade’s relationships blossom! Yes, they’re generally screwed up. They just manage to be strangely touching as well. Take, for example, Wade’s reunion with Weasel, whom he had left behind at a Hydra base. Wolverine tries to convince him Weasel’s gone bad, but no, Wade has faith!

'Because, believe it or not,' Wade says, 'even homicidal maniacs can have a friend keepin' an eye out for us ...'

6. I love letters pages, but they’re not usually reprinted in the trade collections. Someone decided they were worth keeping for Cable and Deadpool, and boy, am I glad they did. I like the sense of fandom it gives you; also, Wade’s answers to the questions are amazing.

Some of the letter writers are clearly only in it for the Deadpool part of the equation though, it’s quite sad.

7. I don’t usually bother to read recap pages. Particularly if I’m reading several issues in a row! However, the recap pages here are fourth-wall breaking and hilarious, and I feel compelled to read each one. One of my favourite exchanges is this one:

‘My name is Nathan Summers. Also called Cable.’

‘Also called Priscilla, saviour of the world.’

‘I can hurt you. I will hurt you. You’re barely in this issue, so make what little panel time you have worthwhile.’

‘And so I shall. By making fun of you.’

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, they’re totally best friends.

8. I said it made me laugh. I was reading happily along like that. Then Civil War hit.

I had not realised I was so invested. It made my heart sore, to see the two of them at odds. And I had to read faster than ever, because I just wanted them back together and friends again.

It never exactly happens. When they reconcile, it’s shortly before Cable ups and dies. And if there’s a problem I have with the comic, it’s that we never get any more of the buddy adventures. I would like to blame that on other storylines though. I think the writer did really well for having half his team written out, because it continues to be about Cable in a lot of ways, in the way he’s changed Deadpool.

9. Maybe this should go without saying, based on all the above, but the writing is really impressive. I wish Fabian Nicieza were still writing for Marvel, because his writing is snappy, the characters are engaging, all the arcs resolve satisfyingly (even when you want to rage against them …). Just. So good.

10. The art is also pretty damn nice. There’s a few different pencillers on the series, but the first half is mostly Patrick Zircher, and the second half mostly Reilly Brown. Both are excellent. I find the art as a whole really inviting. And the page layouts are great.

Plus I love the backflips. They’re just snazzy.

Panel showing Wade doing a flip across the panel, picking up a katana and using it to free his lady friends from where they're tied to a chair – everything else is one freeze frame, but we see him multiple times across the panel. He's that fast!

So there you go: ten reasons why this series is suddenly my new favourite. It’s that good.

Opinions on art

Posted in Comics, Superhero with tags , , , , , , , on September 15, 2011 by Cara Marie

Having read through a bunch of related trades, I am suddenly really grateful for Salva Espin’s art on Generation Hope. Because the teenagers actually look like teenagers. Reading so much manga, where often everyone looks like teenagers, it is a bit of a shock to see Hope on a cover look like she’s in her mid-twenties. Well, just like on TV, I suppose …

There’s a different artist in issue 10 of Generation Hope, Tim Seeley, and I don’t mind except Idie is meant to be twelve, and I just can’t buy it. And don’t get me started on her depiction on the cover of Wolverine and the X-Men

I’m sorry Idie’s going be switching titles, because I really enjoyed her character. My favourite bit is where she’s talking to Kitty, and says, ‘It must be nice to be married,’ all dreamy. And when Kitty very noticeably doesn’t answer, calls her an immoral woman, ha ha. Also I liked having a younger character there, I think she grounded it. But we will see.

Having read all the prior stuff with Hope now, I can also say I am going to be pissed if they turn her crazy and/or evil. I am not invested in her being the Messiah, but I am invested on her being happy and not bringing doom upon the world. Maybe she was going to be evil if she grew up with the X-Men, but being chased around by Bishop for her entire childhood means she’s going to turn out okay. I think Cable is probably a good person to be raised by, even if the circumstances sucked. Better him than Scott.

I can also say I was write about it being the colouring of Jamie’s art that I found off-putting in Generation Hope, because when he’s drawn Hope in Uncanny X-Men with Chris Sotomayor doing colours, I do like it. Better than the rest of the art in that book, sorry to say :)

Who knew I could have opinions on colours that weren’t just ‘this is real pretty’ or ‘ugh god, the nineties’?

Generation Hope – Kieron Gillen, Salvador Espin & Jamie McKelvie

Posted in Comics, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2011 by Cara Marie

I made a mistake when I bought this: I assumed that the first trade in a series would actually be the beginning of an arc. More fool me. So my first readthrough was a rather bewildered one, having missed all the introductions.

The trade starts with Hope and the other new mutants going to find the next ‘light’, a young artist named Kenji who’s about to go all Akira on Tokyo. His art might be pushing boundaries, but his influences are clearly a little more populist.

It mightn’t be the best entrance point, but on the other hand, Salvador Espin’s work on the first four issues is stunning enough that it was worth reading on his account. I am especially fond of the inks, which I think are what make Kenji’s scenes so effective.

Jamie McKelvie does the art for the fifth issue, with colours by Matthew Wilson. This is the same team which produced Phonogram, which I love, but the combination doesn’t work so well here. Maybe because it’s so different from Espin’s art, or maybe because in my head the combination of McKelvie’s art + Wilson’s flats-style colouring = story about hipsters, and anything else my brain can’t process. (I did like McKelvie’s art for the Seige: Loki one-shot, where Nathan Fairburn did the colours.)

The fifth issue is downtime compared to the nonstop battle in Tokyo, with Hope and the kids coming back to Utopia. I like Hope a lot here, her willfulness and determination, and it’s great fun seeing her assert herself against the Scott and Emma. I also love the scene where Magneto introduces her to Xavier, for, Xavier suggests, “The pleasure of seeing me get lectured by a teenage girl.”

I found I appreciated the whole thing a lot more on reread, with more context – enough that I think I’ll carry on with the series. I’ll still have to catch up on the lead-in, though.

Digest-sized awesome

Posted in Action/adventure, Comedy, Comics, Middle fiction, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2011 by Cara Marie

So I have been achieving very little outside of work lately. But I have managed to read a great deal of comics. Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed most have been the little digest-sized collections put out by Marvel: X-Men: First Class, Wolverine: First Class and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. They’re low on angst, high on adorability.

X-Men: First Class I find quite interesting because of the ways it deals with the limitations of its source. The series is pitched as untold stories from the original X-Men comics, which is Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel. The other character in every issue is Professor Xavier: so you’ve got one female character against five male ones.

And First Class is aware of this, and it finds ways to show f-f relationships anyway. Probably my favourite issue was one where Jean is trying to use her powers to fly: she’s been practicing in secret, and when the boys find out, things get frustrating. (This made me feel very fond of her, because I don’t like people seeing me trying new things either.)

So, Prof X is like, well, it must be tough for Jean, being stuck with all these annoying boys and no female mentors. Let’s send her to go hang out with Sue Storm!

Jean is pretty psyched about this, and she and Sue have some good bonding time, and some ass-kicking time, and the boys are convinced Jean’s going to leave them and go make it the Fantastic Five. It’s totally charming.

No, actually. They fight crime.There are also these little side-strips, illustrated by Colleen Coover. which they’ve reprinted at the end of the digests. Some of these are making fun of Magneto. Some of them are about the adventures of Marvel Girl and the Scarlet Witch. Together they solve crime!

Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, appears in some of the other issues, and immediately became my favourite. I sadly do not think I will find much else with her and Jean being buddies.

(No crime-fighting, but here is another one of the strips, with Jean and Xavier using their psychic powers for hilarity.)

I love school stories, so these are more satisfying to me than a lot of the other superhero comics I have been reading. Part of it’s the positivity: they are learning to be the most awesome people they can be! There is a story in Wolverine: First Class where Kitty and Logan are investigating a mutant presence: they end up being attacked by the townspeople. “Th-they’re not making any sense …” Kitty says, and Logan says, “Fear does that to people. Whatever mutant presence Charlie sent us to run down has scared the sense right out of ‘em.”

Kity looks at a photo of a mutant girl with white skin and hair, elven ears, and pupilless eyes, dressed up for prom and holding the arm of an ordinary-looking young man. The photo has been smashed, as has the next one we see Kitty holding: the girl with her football team. The narrative text reads: 'This girl--clearly a mutant--didn't look like she lived in a town filled with prejudice. In fact, it looked like this tiny town completely embraced her strangeness, in a way tiny towns sometimes do. So what happened? What changed? How could everything have gone so horribly wrong so horrible fast ... unless ...'But this is not a story about how it sucks to be a mutant (though obviously peoples’ fear of mutants forms a backdrop). Kitty ends up in the house of the girl they’ve come looking for. There, the evidence is clear that her community has not been driven mad by fear, and that something else is going on.

Which was quite nice after House of M.

Wolverine: First Class is basically all about Kitty saving the day. And also being a teenage girl. The second story has Kitty trying to convince Logan he wants to chauffuer her and her friends to see the amazing *Dazzler*. Begging and cajoling doesn’t work, so she throws him a special surprise party and arranges him a date with his lady friend Mariko. This rather gets spoiled when some guy from Logan’s past turns up. There’s some fighting, then said evil guy then tells Logan he has to choose between saving Kitty and saving Mariko. Hmm.

Logan chooses Mariko, because of course Kitty can get herself out of anything, but as it turns out, by the time the men have finished their scrapping, Kitty has already saved her. See, evil guy, maybe Logan will never transcend your skills in beating people up, but at least he has an awesome student.

After that Logan really has no choice but to play chauffuer.

Kitty is fantastic in this, and the part of me that loved her in the cartoon as a kid feels redeemed against all the other, blander versions of her I’ve seen. She feels realistically young, without being annoyingly so, and the teenage squabbles are countered by the adorableness. Despite Wolverine’s name in the title, Kitty’s the star of the show.

(I still don’t get her crush on Piotr though.)

But the most charming digest of them all is Thor: The Mighty Avenger. A lot of this is to do with the art, I feel – there’s something very appealing about the inking, and the simplicity of the style.Jane looks all concernedly at Thor, before saying, 'I ... I don't know if you want to hear this ... but this is my world, and I'm sort of ... fond of it. Thing is ... right now, this is your world too.' With amazing pictures!There are fights and things, people to be rescued (and sometimes it is Thor that needs to be rescued), but the heart of the comic is the relationship between Thor and Jane, and the ways in which Thor comes to love Earth.

There are two volumes of Thor: The Might Avenger – I’ve read the second one, and I’m waiting for the first. It’s just such a warm-hearted comic. Because it’s an AU from the rest of the Marvel universe, it’s easy to rec to people too; it might crossover with characters from other titles, but it’s still very self-contained.

A thought on Moira MacTaggert, CIA agent

Posted in Movies, Superhero with tags on June 14, 2011 by Cara Marie

I would write up a proper review of X-Men: First Class, but so many other people have written intelligent things about it that I’m not sure what I could add. But I will say something about Moira’s ending, which I seem to have interpreted differently from everyone else. Read more »