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X-Men: Legacy #220 [Review]

Salvage (part one)

Writer: Mike Carey
Penciller: Scot Eaton
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Cover: Lee Bermejo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue continue’s Xavier’s quest for self-understanding via reconnecting with those who have played important roles in his life–or who have otherwise been significantly impacted by his own existence in their lives.

We open with a flashback to events during the Secret Invasion…than transition to Xavier and Gambit over a meal as they discuss where they’re headed and what they expect will come of seeking out Rogue. (Rogue made it clear awhile back she didn’t want Gambit following her and wants nothing to do with Xavier). We’re given a glimpse of what Rogue is up to these days in a ghost town where she and other X-Men apparently had once taken residence. While there, she is approached by a stranger supposedly looking to study the history of the town…but as Rogue quickly discovers, appearances can be quite deceiving. The issue ends with a revelation of who the stranger is, why she sought Rogue, and a vaguely familiar kind of cliffhanger as Xavier and Gambit are en route.

The art on this issue is good stuff…not only does it simply fit and serve the story, but I actually like this depiction of Xavier, Gambit, and Rogue visually. No complaints on this aspect of the issue.

Story-wise, it feels like we’re FINALLY getting somewhere with this book. Part of my initial interest a year or so ago in this title was that it’d basically feature Xavier, Gambit, and Rogue. This year later I’ve nearly lost interest in the waiting and the promised premise finally seems about to come about. The characters all come across as in-character with what’s been recently established.

This issue seems to have left out creator credits. The cover tells us that “Carey / Eaton / Hennessy” are to be associated with this issue. The interior features no credits–I had to go to Marvel’s website to research what creators were involved with the issue, and that’s assuming the site is accurate to this final product.

All in all, if you’re interested in the current Gambit/Rogue dynamic with Xavier, this seems a decent enough point to jump in, or to come back if you’ve lapsed for lack of the promised characters. The Xavier-tracking-down-old-acquaintances-to-find-himself is getting a bit old at this point…it remains to be seen how long that element drives the title and if it’ll be a point that’s beaten to death before resolution.

You could do far worse than this title–and as this X-book seems to be playing outside the stuff tied to Dark Reign and whatnot, it’s a chance to read a mainstream Marvel book without being subjected to that branding.

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

Hellblazer #250 [Review]

Happy New F***ing Year, Christmas Cards, All I Goat for Christmas, The Curse of Christmas, Snow Had Fallen

Writers: Dave Gibbons, Brian Azzarello, China Mieville, Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan
Art: Sean Phillips, Rafael Grampa, David Lloyd, Eddie Campbell
Letters: Sean Phillips, Jared K. Fletcher
Colors: Val Staples, Marcus Penna, Jamie Grant, David Lloyd, Dominic Regan
Breakdowns (Snow Had Fallen): Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes (Snow Had Fallen): Stefano Landini
Asst. Editor: Brandon Montclare
Editor: Bob Schreck
Cover: Lee Bermejo
Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)

If you’re gonna charge me $3.99 for one issue, this is the way to go. 38 pages of actual story content, high-quality creative teams (multiple instances of quality Hellblazer talent), contained in a milestone issue that could be an event and yet isn’t an event. This is the longest-running Vertigo title, this is the milestone 250th issue of the series–an extremely respectable number in a day ‘n age when only a handful of titles in all comics have maintained consistent numbering while reaching such a point. Focusing in on Christmas (“holiday, sure, but there’s a lot of reference by name to Christmas!), we get five shorts showing John Constantine in slices of life, just being himself around Christmas.

I checked out a couple years ago from buying the single issues, finding that I was enjoying this series far more through the collected volumes; I’ve fallen behind on those collected volumes, so am not up to date on recent happenings for this book. That said, I feel like I only missed nuances here. The character, the feel and tone of Constantine is still there. The stories fit the character. And though just picking this up for the “special” nature of the issue, I don’t feel out of it nor lost.

The first story follows Constantine as he pursues someone who has been assembling stuff to invoke immortality for himself–the price of said immortality likely requiring the life of a child. In Christmas Cards, John watches a game of poker he himself is banned from–offering commentary and observations none the less, as well as the nature of a couple of people present. All I Goat for Christmas suggests a ritual that may have broken the curse on a certain sports team seemingly cursed right out of any championships. The Curse of Christmas shows an encounter Constantine has with someone who managed to work an actual curse into an address given by a very public official. Finally, Snow Had Fallen details a fairly magical sort of snowfall that challenges the faith of a man overseeing sick children.

All five stories have that “classic” Constantine feel to them. They’re sorta slice-of-life due to being short and not part of some big event–these are the sorta things John deals with routinely in his world/experiences, specifically around Christmas.

The art varies, giving different visual styles, different visual interpretations of Constantine & Co. The first three–by Phillips, Lloyd, and Grampa respectively–are probably my favorites, as they get across a certain feel of darkness or grittiness that seems particularly appropriate for their stories. The fourth didn’t work very well for me visually–personal preference, probably. The final story’s visuals were not bad, but had something I can’t quite put my finger on–perhaps a bit of brightness–that simply didn’t put it in the top three for me of this issue.

All in all, this works very well as an anniversary-style issue. Rather than hosting a huge event, this serves also as a “holiday special” with the focus of the tales. And the tales are provided by Hellblazer creative teams from throughout the years.

Whether you follow this series regularly are are merely aware of the character’s existence, this seems a great issue to pick up as a one-shot, whether you plan to continue with the next issue or not. Besides….you could do so much worse for $4. I give this issue an extra half point as a whole–the package is greater than any of the individual parts.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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