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Age of Apocalypse #1 [Review]

Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Humberto Ramos and Dean White
Assistant Editors: Sebastian Girner and Jordan D. White
Editors: Jody LeHeup and Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics

I was looking forward to this title. Of course, the last time I was looking forward to an Age of Apocalypse title was back in 2005 when Marvel did the 10th anniversary stuff. Enjoyed the one-shot, hated the mini-series. To this day I’ve refused to–even for “free” through a library–read that mini. Yet last year when it was announced that the Uncanny X-Force would revisit the Age of Apocalypse, I was excited. I was looking forward to it. And in the Dark Angel Saga, it was put to some use. Later I discovered that the AoA Nightcrawler would be part of the team, and decided to continue giving that title a chance. When the 2nd .1 issue in less than 2 years hit, I was suckered in with the classic Enter Now: The Age of Apocalypse logo, as Uncanny X-Force #19.1 was essentially Age of Apocalypse #0, or heck, what should have been #1.

This finally came out, and I very nearly quit reading the issue partway in. For me, Age of Apocalypse is a misnomer. Apocalypse’s “Age” ended in 1995, some 17 years ago. This new series, using that name, does so to “cash in on” the name of this classic X-Men story. I would be of more open mind with this series had it been given some other title, and just made it known WHERE it takes place.

This issue picks up where Uncanny X-Force 19.1 left off–the last human stronghold has been destroyed, the bulk of the remaining human population has been slaughtered. Jean and Sabretooth escape and join up with their allies. Having been stripped of their mutant powers, they’re just as human (or moreso) as these allies, who call themselves the X-Terminated. After a fight with this world’s Daredevil, we’re introduced to a man from Marvel’s 616-universe as well as a surprise player who may change things up a bit for all involved, just by being alive.

The art doesn’t sit well with me here. It’s rather stylistic, and reminds me of the visual feel I got from the AoA mini back in ’05. There were points that I was basically reading the dialogue balloons, with no true sense of what was happening in the panel. There’s something clunky, and sketchy, and perhaps semi-abstract to it, and while it gives this a vastly different tone than some “classic super-hero book,” it’s not in a way that draws me in or leaves me interested–visually–in ANY of the characters or setting.

Story-wise, I came into this assuming there’d be plenty I’ve missed since X-Men: Omega back in 1995 and whatever transpired in the 2005 mini-series. But between that series and the death toll in Uncanny X-Force #19.1 to set this one up…this seems a wholly different world, and at least in this issue, I don’t feel like there’s any TRUE connection to the fondly-remembered world built in my youth. As I read this issue, I simply did not CARE. There seems to be no particular redeeming quality to this world or its few remaining inhabitants. Stripping Jean and Sabretooth of their powers is not a concept that interests me in anything more than perhaps a What If..? one-shot at most. The X-Terminated likewise does not grab my interest, though I recognize a couple character names. I don’t care for the mixed tense of the narration–the last page in particular feels like it’s trying to show the present as someone speaking from the future looking back, which really takes something away.

All in all…it would seem that I’m the antithesis of a target audience for this book. I was honestly shocked when I realized this was NOT a $2.99 book–and though that gives it a slight bit of redemption (I’d’ve been incensed to have paid $3.99 for this!), it’s far from being enough.

If you’re a fan of what’s been done with the Age of Apocalypse “universe” over the years since the original “event” where what was simply an alternate reality became just another world in Marvel‘s multiverse, you may find more interest here than I did. If you like the idea of Logan–formerly Weapon X, now “Weapon Omega” as the Apocalypse-level big bad…yeah, pick this up. Along those lines, if you enjoyed the story set up in the Uncanny X-Force .1 issue, you may enjoy this.

On the whole, though…I gave this an issue, and while the final page reveal was a surprise I did not see coming, it actually disgusts me more than not, and was the nail in the coffin for this title for me, at least for now.

Story: 3/10
Art: 3/10
Overall: 3/10

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Deadpool Team-Up #895 [review]

Writer: Christopher Long
Art: Dalibor Talajic
Colors: Tomislav Tikulin
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Humberto Ramos
Production: A. Dial & D. Lucchese
Asst Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

More than ever, this Deadpool Team-Up book seems to be the outlet for various creative teams to do one-off tales with Deadpool and various obscure Marvel characters. As with earlier issues…you don’t need to have read any of the previous issues of this series. And also in line with every previous issue…you don’t need to pick up the next issue to get the next part of the story, because this is a done-in-one story with nary a “To Be Continued” in sight.

For whatever reason, and however he does it, Deadpool’s been hired to captain a sub taking the niece of the man who controls “It! The Living Colossus,” who has been in a coma since a long-lost battle with Dr. Doom. The niece thinks that she can revive her uncle by getting him into close proximity with the Colossus he used to control. While the logic is iffy, the results can’t be argued with and–when things invariably go bad with the sub, Deadpool and his ‘client’ find an unexpected result of the uncle’s body being present so close to the statue his mind once controlled.

The story here is amusing enough, but ultimately not all that exciting. While I enjoy one-and-done issues as much as the next guy, as the status quo for this series, it’s just hard to get all that excited knowing nothing picks up from this issue’s events next issue, and to look back at these last few issues and realize that I could’ve skipped any–or all–of them and not be at all “lost” on the latest issue.

The art’s not bad–this is definitely Deadpool…he looks familiar and doesn’t appear out of place any more than he should in the situation he’s got himself mixed up in this issue.

Perhaps that’s the thing–this series is like the classic Ninja Turtles cartoon (or probably any of a number of other ‘classic’ cartoons of the 1980s and such). All you REALLY need to know is the basics of Deadpool. Merc With a Mouth. Healing factor, butt-ugly face…body basically maintained by that healing factor. Loves guns, great with a sword, somewhat crazy, and breaks the “fourth wall.” You can enjoy the entirety of the series as a large, dynamic dose of Deadpool…or you can tune in for any given issue and get a story from start to finish…a story that’s not entirely devoid of formula.

If you like Deadpool, and you have an extra $3 burning a hole in your budget…this is a great issue to get. No crossovers, no tie-ins, no preludes…just a complete Deadpool story all in one issue.

If you’re a bit more picky about your Deadpool stories, and prefer the longer multi-issue arcs, you’d be better served with Merc With a Mouth which is largely following its own continuity in multi-issue arcs, or the main Deadpool title, which follows the mainstream Marvel Universe continuity, in multi-issue arcs.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Deadpool Team-Up #896 [Review]

Writer: Stuart Moore
Art: Shawn Crystal
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Humberto Ramos
Production: Taylor Esposito
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

This issue gets much more to the silly side of things, though it’s a rather dark silly. The issue opens with a trucker picking up Deadpool’s antics on the CB…and and before long, a raccoon is squished along the road, prompting a rather militaristic response from some of the squished raccoon’s buddies. A flashback shows us how Deadpool came to be driving a truck with this U.S. Ace, and see the two deal with an important delivery while being attacked by angry, gun-toting raccoons.

I’m not familiar with Crystal‘s art offhand, but the visuals do work pretty well for this issue. Nothing spectacular, unfortunately–but there’s nothing that seemed wrong or particularly “off.” This is solid work, that gets the story across with the visuals presented, and doesn’t hold back–we get some on-panel raccoon-squishage, for example.

The story isn’t bad, though it definitely fits the one-off format of this title, presenting an entire “adventure” of the title character from start to finish in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I have to buy the next issue to get “the rest of the story.” (Similarly, one doesn’t need to have read any previous issues to enjoy this). I have no prior recollection of this U.S. Ace character, so had no expectation there coming in. I’d heard of Rocket Raccoon, but haven’t read anything with him in it thus far–but knowing the character exists kept the shock out of my thoughts seeing the raccoons in this issue organize and go after Deadpool and Ace.

For some, the high point of this issue may be the raccoons. For me, it was probably Deadpool’s goofiness messing with the CB…I definitely got that “This is so cool…I’ve always wanted to do this/say that!” vibe off the character.

If you’re looking for quick, fun Deadpool stories, this seems to be the series for that. Deadpool seems to be Deadpool involved in the main Marvel Universe stuff–the events and whatnot; Merc With a Mouth is weaving its own longform continuity in multi-issue arcs; this series gives us one-offs each month with different guest stars and creative teams. Don’t like a writer or artist, or the character team-up one month? Skip it. Next issue’ll probably have a different creative team, and Deadpool paired with some other character (probably obscure) from Marvel‘s vast character library.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 6/10

Deadpool Team-Up #899 [Review]

Merc With a Myth

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dalibor Talajic
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Paul Acerios
Assistant Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Cover: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

While a THIRD Deadpool title does seem a bit much, this debut issue is great fun. Given that each of the titles so far seems to maintain its own identity or feel and the character himself is somewhat timeless and archetypal, I don’t really have a problem with it. I’m enjoying following all three titles, even though one could really pick and choose which one of the three or any combination and still get a fun “Deadpool experience.”

This issue sees Deadpool teaming up with Hercules. After dreaming about fighting some ultimate opponent, Deadpool soon finds himself trapped in a labyrinth where he meets up with Hercules. It’s soon revealed that the two are dealing with a couple of classic (yet, I never would’ve thought I’d see them teamed up) Marvel villains who have trapped the both and pitted them against their own nightmares. Hercules faces a legion of offspring claiming to be his own children; Deadpool faces an embodiment of the two voices in his head as the entity tries to kill him. Deadpool takes fairly extreme (yet, for him, sorta typical) action to solve the problem, and our ‘heroes’ then face their true foes.

I really like the done-in-one nature of this issue–I assume the series in general will consist of done-in-one issues or at least shorter-than-6-issues arcs. That’s a great selling point for me, as it means that while following the “mainstream Marvel Universe” adventures of Deadpool in the core title and the other adventure in Merc With a Mouth, there are also these full stories coming out that start and resolve quickly.

Unlike most of the comics I follow these days, I’m really not familiar with any of the creative team here. While that’s not something I’m used to, it works to the benefit of the title, I think, as I’m more focused on the character and story without concerning myself with how it stacks against the writer or artist’s previous work. I enjoyed the story, and the art fit the story, making for an overall enjoyable issue whoever’s involved in creating the issue.

“Fun” as the first two titles have been, this seems likely to be the breakout Deadpool title for me. If you’re interested in Deadpool OR Hercules, and don’t want commit from the get-go to lengthy seemingly-structured-for-collected-volumes arcs, this is definitely the issue for you (and for Deadpool in particular, this would be the series for you).

As with Deadpool #900, I actually find some amusement–or at least, appreciate the humour in–the numbering. The irreverence of the numbering lends itself to the timelessness of this title–who cares what the NUMBER is? The specific stories–particularly as one-off issues–should be the draw.

Highly recommended.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

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