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New Mutants #14 [Review]

Second Coming (chapter 11)

Written by: Zeb Wells
Art by: Ibraim Roberson, Lan Medina and Nathan Fox
Colored by: Brian Reber, Matt Milla and Jose Villarubia
Lettered by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by: Adi Granov
Associate Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics

Xavier enters the mind of his son, David (Legion) Haller, to prepare him to help the X-Men. In the real world, Cyclops deputizes every mutant present as X-Men…the dome trapping them and the nimrods arriving every few minutes means that every individual must come together, to “Fight or die.” Meanwhile, Rogue and Hope share a moment, as Colossus and Namor have their hands full holding the Golden Gate Bridge against Nimrods. In the future, the X-Force contingent has their hands full with their own problems…including multiple Master Molds. Back in the present, Hank McCoy–Beast–says his goodbyes as he prepares to enter the fray, and another player joins the battle.

The multiple artists / multiple colorists team is quite noticeable, and while in some ways it’s distracting, it’s also fitting to the story, as we’re dealing with several very different locales: David Haller’s mindscape, the X-Men in present day, and X-Force in a dark future. I’m not particularly a fan of any of the art–the only issues of this series I’ve bought have been whatever issues were earlier chapters of Second Coming–and offhand I don’t even recognize the artists’ names from any of their previous work that I might have seen. Of the differing visuals, the most off-putting is David Haller’s mind…but that seems intentional, and works well. The future scenes with X-Force are fairly slick, and I do like the distinctiveness. The present-day scenes are probably my favorites.

The story seems fairly simple and generic in that this is “just” another chapter in the ongoing crossover Second Coming. This continues from the previous chapter, and leads into the next chapter; we get forward movement in the crossover, but as a shared story, there’s not a whole lot moving whatever the New Mutants story is along, that I can tell. Again, as with the art…this isn’t a bad thing…perhaps because I have no real interest in this title standing alone, don’t know the newer characters, and picked this up as Second Coming Chapter 11 rather than New Mutants #14. Despite that, I really don’t feel lost–and the unfamiliarity is something I expected for this story, since I barely touched the X-books after Messiah Complex. I enjoyed the interaction with Rogue and Hope–the characters seem well suited for each other, and could make for an interesting friendship in future issues.

All in all, another solid chapter of Second Coming. I’m not yet sold on whatever the story is that’ll immediately follow this arc’s conclusion, nor the next big story with the vampires. Still, this keeps me interested in Second Coming, and I’m very, very interested to see what unfolds next week. This issue’s cliffhanger also reminds me somewhat thematically of the season finale to the first season of the 1990s X-Men animated series.

If you’ve already been following New Mutants, or are following the Second Coming main story, this is not an issue to be missed. If you’re not following this, you’ll probably be better off waiting for the next arc.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #12 [Review]

Writer: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colors: Matt Mills
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Production: Taylor Esposito
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

Deadpool and the gang find themselves in a bit of a race–both literal and figurative–to get back to the chopper and get to the portal so they can go home. While Deadpool’s group deals with their immeediate threat of Zombie Prof. Veronica, the surviving AIM agents plot how to get home, since they need Deadpool as well. When the groups converge, negotiations are had, a deal struck, and things still don’t really go according to plan…but then, Deadpool’s involved. What plan can really be had for things to go according to?

The art has a cartooney yet modern flair to it. The characters are pretty distinct, and it’s not hard to follow the action. Nothing much really stands out, as even the gorier parts fit within the atmosphere of the story. As with any character interpreted by multiple artists across different books, Deadpool’s got a mildly different appearance here than in other books–it in no way takes away from the character, but the style may not entirely fit one’s personal tastes. I do prefer other takes on the character slightly more, but this is not a bad look for the character. The zombies look properly creepy and messaged up…and as a whole, the art does fit itself with the story.

While I referenced above the idea of things not going according to plan where Deadpool’s involved, the writing does show a plan that stretches beyond just a single arc. While there was a distinct split-point, this arc specifically builds on elements from the opening arc. I’m not sure I’d read anything by Gischler a year ago, but he has quickly become my favorite Deadpool writer, capturing the chaotic, whimsical nature of the character (and the multiple voices) while building a relatively long-term story within a couple of smaller arcs.

Though this was begun as an ongoing series and has since been retroactively deemed a 13-issue limited series (something I’m not thrilled with)…this issue actually feels like a penultimate chapter of something big…and taking prior issues along with this, I would hope there’d be an oversized single-volume hardcover for this series.

If you’ve been following the series so far, this is certainly worth picking up. However, at issue 12 of 13, if you’ve not been following along, I’d recommend holding out for a collected volume.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 7.5/10

Tales of the TMNT #70 [Review]

Return to New York, book 1.5: Zog

Plot: Eric Talbot and Jim Lawson
Script/Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks/Tones/Letters: Eric Talbot
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Cover: Jim Lawson, Eric Talbot and Steve Lavigne
Published by: Mirage Publishing

Refusing to wait for his brothers, Raphael returns to the NYC sewers, where he promptly encounters a Triceraton. Upon waking from the beating inflicted, he finds himself prisoner of Zog, along with a Foot ninja. Though technically enemies, the Turtle and Foot realize they’re not gonna get free of this alone, and must work together…though after a bit of cooperation, their relationship tanks pretty quickly. When their captor returns, Raph takes advantage of the alien dinosaur’s deteriorating mental state by donning the skull of the dead Triceraton commander. With this guise, he convinces Zog that he’s needed for a final mission that involves helping the turtles.

I can’t be certain without digging out the original Return to New York arc…but this reads as slightly more refined than that. But then, it’s coming nearly two decades later, and the Mirage talent has had plenty of time to grow and refine their work since the original story. Also, this is written by Lawson & Talbot rather than Eastman & Laird, so has that slightly different feel. Despite that, this does not feel out of place in and of itself, and I greatly enjoyed the return to such a key story. The “voice” of the characters fits, and while the opening pages provide some context and serve to differentiate this from the early TMNT issues, there’s nothing that I can recall that this contradicts.

The Lawson/Talbot art seems pretty much standard-TMNT to me…really, the standard, to where other artists’ work on the characters has been the variance and different interpretations. While the visuals don’t exactly match what I recall of the original story, that’s fine by me. The art fits the story, conveys what’s going on, and it’s the story itself that makes the issue fit, the art just conveys this specific chapter.

This seems a fitting send-off to this long-running title. Though this is the final issue, its predecessor felt like much more of a final issue. This fits between-issues of the 1980s Return to New York arc when the turtles returned from Northampton and confronted the resurrected Shredder after their sound defeat months earlier. One of the best final touches to the issue is that rather than ship with different editions, each with a different cover (as virtually every other comic publisher seems wont to do these days), this issue ships with a “variant version” on the front, and the “standard” cover on the back…and Mirage gets loads of credit from me for that. This “variant” cover takes on the trade dress of the Return to New York arc–this’ll fit nicely in the longbox with that story and not look out of place–while the standard cover on the back carries the contemporary trade dress/logo.

This issue may whet your appetite for the full Return to New York story if you’re just checking this out or otherwise are not familiar with this key story from the original Mirage run of TMNT. If you’re already familiar with that story, this should be that much more of a treat.

I wouldn’t recommend this issue as a single issue to start with…but otherwise, it’s well worth tracking down…particularly if you’re familiar with the early Mirage TMNT stories.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Overall: 8/10

DuckTales & Darkwing Duck are back

I was largely introduced to Uncle Scrooge and much of the comics versions of Disney characters by checking ’em out after noticing a string of highly positive reviews by Blake Petit (of comixtreme.com and evertimerealms.com) more than half a decade ago.

Though I dabbled briefly in buying some of the newer comics as they were released, the ridiculous price ($8/issue!) Gemstone was charging for the books being geared toward collectors instead of readers quickly drove me away from the monthly releases. I did, however, pick up a couple of TPBs of Carl Barks’ Greatest DuckTales Stories (originally published in the Uncle Scrooge title, that later served as the basis for episodes of the cartoon), The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, and a couple other books that were quite enjoyable.

So when Boom Studios got the license to the classic Disney books, to publish through their Boom Kids imprint, I checked ’em all out on principle: $2.99 was not at all bad for giving things a look-see compared to the $8 price that one would have to be pretty darned committed to a title to pay.

I did quickly back off on the single issues of both the classic Disney books and the newer Disney/Pixar properties (particularly The Incredibles) in favor of collected volumes.

This month, though, has undone my intentions there, at least as the classic Disney stuff goes.

For a few months, at least, we have the return of DuckTales in Uncle Scrooge (the first issue of this, at least, was highly enjoyable) and in what has since been “upgraded” to an ongoing series from mini-series status the return of possibly my favorite Disney character, Darkwing Duck.

I expect DuckTales to make for a very enjoyable read in collected-edition format, and same for Darkwing Duck (and with a story title of The Duck Knight Returns and an inside-cover/title-page image in homage to the classic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns…I would absolutely buy a collected edition if they use that as the cover!)

But in the meantime, after nearly missing the first issues of both the DuckTales run (in Uncle Scrooge #392) and Darkwing Duck‘s premiere…both titles have now become the “core” of what I’m on the verge of making a full-blown pull-list at the local comic shop I’ve been frequenting for the last 2 1/2 years.

I suppose that makes both these titles a success, as Boom has drawn me back to the single issues rather than simply “waiting for the trade,” and in Darkwing Duck‘s case, might even result in what would basically be a “double purchase” of the first arc, at least.

If you’ve checked out neither of these, I would recommend tracking them down if your local comic shop still has ’em. And if not…keep an eye out for the inevitable collected editions, as both titles are an excellent read. These classic properties from childhood are back and better than ever!

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