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Phoenix Resurrection (2017) #1 [Review]

phoenixresurrection2017_0001Chapter One: Frustrate the Sun

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Main Cover: Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho
Graphic Designers: Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino
Assistant Editors: Christina Harrington & Chris Robinson
Associate Editor: Darren Shan
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $4.99

I read the first couple issues of Morrison‘s NEW X MEN run, along with the first issue or two of that "new era" of Uncanny X-Men as well (and I think same for X-Force and/or X-Statix and Soldier X) before trailing off for awhile. I got back in toward the latter part of the run, having obtained the first two "deluxe oversized hardcovers" and not wanting to wait (then) for another. I remember making a special trip to the Toledo comic shop while visiting a friend for her graduation in December 2003, largely to get #150…and reading it left me with quite a surprise. Jean…dead? Well, SURELY, being Marvel, she’d be back pretty darned quick. A year, maybe two? Endsong kinda let me down, and I’m not sure if I ever actually read Warsong.

Move through time–2004, 2008, 2012…the Jean from the past was brought to the present (how long would THAT last? A year or two? The premise of the "original five" coming to the present sucked me into All-New X-Men for a bit!). 20012 to 2016, still the "original five." Into 2017…now the very tail-end of 2017, and we have this issue. Phoenix Resurrection #1 (never mind that 1995 gave us a Phoenix Resurrection in the Ultraverse books!).

Unlike the anecdotal "disaster" of the ordering requirements for the main wave of Legacy Lenticulars (LL, anyone?), this one’s "main cover" is *A* lenticular…but this one is actually done "right." Gone is the blurred mess of two static images blended together to approximate a real-life "gif," here we have an image of several of our mutants reacting to the flaming appearance of Dark Phoenix–Jean Grey–in the Red Costume…and we get that 3D/slight movement effect that DC has used to great effect and that had put to shame Marvel‘s versions. My main complaint with the cover is that it is at best symbolic, or some sort of prelim for use with an eventual collected edition…as has become the "norm" for modern comics, the cover does not necessarily depict what’s contained within the issue itself.

Visually, this is a pretty book, and I enjoyed the art itself throughout. As I’m no longer closely familiar with much of the X-verse, and am aware of plenty of recent changes and such, nothing much stood out in a negative way for me, and I marked inconsistencies up to my unfamiliarity; nothing seemed horrendous or off-putting to me.

Where I have problems with the visuals is layouts: the issue has 30 pages of story, 32 content pages if you count the "cinematic" double-page splash with the series’ logo and credits for the issue (in place of an opening/frontispiece to be simply omitted in collected format). While I applaud the relatively "strict" panels/gutters–a "classic" sort of page layout rather than EVERYTHING being full-bleed quasi-panels and such, I was not thrilled at so few panels per page–many pages having a mere 3-4 panels, a number of them having only 2, with very few words to a page. One page has a whopping THREE WORDS: "Elsewhere," "Well," and "fudge." (18 letters, not 18 words!). Yeah, the art is an integral part of telling (selling?) the story, but given this IS a comic book and not actually cinematic video, I’m rarely keen on "wasted space" trying to imitate another medium.

Story-wise, I did not feel that this issue remotely lived up to the hype or expectation–at least not the hype and expectation that I personally laid at its feet. Phoenix Resurrection. The Return of Jean Grey. Dark Phoenix (not Phoenix) depicted on the cover. Shiny cover. Surely Jean would appear in this issue, with plenty of questions as to her authenticity, what brought her back, why she’s back, what it means for "Young Jean," how it’ll affect other characters, if it has anything to do with "Regular Real Not-Old-Man Logan/Wolverine" being back, etc. Appear in this issue, set up questions and four more issues to dig into the details, the effects, push this story itself forward, etc.

While I can guess that the Jean we see toward the end of the issue is supposed to be "our" Jean (though whether it implies she’s been alive awhile–long enough to have a job and home and life with no overt recollection of life as one of the X-Men, or is some sort of dream-sequence or illusion or some sort of alternate life in her mind as her body heals/comes back/whatever) is not clear to me as of this single issue, on a typical single-read-through that I give whatever (new) issue(s) I read. I don’t see THAT she’s back (or not). I don’t see if there’s actually another force behind her return (the Phoenix Force) or if this is some sort of self-resurrection from her having BEEN one with the Phoenix Force in the past. Is there likely some other Big Bad waiting in the wings? Other than Jean maybe showing up/being back and having to figure out for herself what it means to her as herself, what’s the driving conflict of this title? What makes it justify five weekly issues (and I think a tie-in for a sixth issue) vs. Jean just showing up again/being a subplot in some sort of main title?

I’m curious about stuff–especially given I was there when she died back in 2003’s New X Men #150, and expected her return at least a decade ago–so will get the next issue, at least. And I would not be surprised if this was a good opening chapter to the eventual "graphic novel" when this series is collected into hardback, deluxe oversized hardback, and/or TPB. But as a single-issue, as a first issue of a mini-series, I’m not impressed with this, and would not recommend it if you’re looking just to do a toe-dip on stuff…especially at $4.99 instead of $3.99. As an art piece, the cover wouldn’t be bad to hang on a wall or such. Unless you’re eager to read/follow along in "real time" as issues are released (and given the title/subtitle, it’s not like there’s really any mystery as to whether or not it’s actually Jean, if she’ll actually be back, etc.) you’re probably better off waiting a couple months for the inevitable collected edition, if anything.

Otherwise, if you’re willing to invest in a 6 issue story within about 5 weeks, and you’re a fan of Jean herself, I’d say this is worth getting, as an opening chapter, that is by no means a stand-alone issue/story.

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Uncanny X-Force #22 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Secret Invasion #8 [Review]

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Production: Irene Lee
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
Publisher: Marvel Comics

That’s it?!?

This issue presumably picks up from where the last issue left off–but I’m not 100%, because I have only gotten certain beats of this story, being a reader who took ’em at their word that one would be able to just buy the main series and get a full story.

The Wasp apparently was turned into some sort of biological weapon (wha? when?), and rather than see the action moving forward, we’re treated to an opening sequence that seems to be more of a time-jump, going from a current in-your-face event to “well, now that we’re DONE, what exactly HAPPENED out there, Guys?!?” retrospective. Though The Wasp (insert arbitrary long-standing character here) died, the Skrulls were defeated, and now that the Skrull Plot has been brought to light, let’s see those who can take the fall do so, to shake things up for yet. another. “new.” “status quo.

The art on this issue isn’t horrible, but there’s something to it that doesn’t quite seem what I’d expect from Yu. While his style worked very well for me when he was on Wolverine a number of years ago, his style here isn’t really to my liking–many of the characters look odd to me…something much different from the “gritty” style I liked. Still, the art mostly shows what’s going on, and characters are recognizeable, so no huge fault there. (You can flip through the issue and determine if you like the visual style or not, as it maintains a consistent style throughout).

The story…

Well, I’m not satisfied. I bought the first issue of the series to check it out, and despite knowing better, I was hooked and bought the second issue. At that point, I’d bought a quarter of the series, so figured I’d grudgingly give it a shot for a few more issues, just to see if I could be proven wrong…and with this “8th” and “final” issue (I use quotes there because frankly, it is absurd to believe you can read a “core mini-series” for a Marvel event and not have to buy the umpteen specials, mini-series and tie-in issues as the event went on, and there are even epilogue/follow-up Secret Invasion issues BEFORE we even launch into the new “event” hot on the heels of this year-long monstrosity.

This issue was choppy, and tried to cram way too much in–we had at least three issues that did virtually nothing and now we have an issue with everything but the kitchen sink crammed in almost more to set up the next story than to truly provide an ending to this story. We hit a cliffhanger, then get a couple pages of resolution (tack those pages into the previous issue, and call this an epilogue/transition).

If you’ve been following the series, sure….pick this issue up. If you’re looking for surprises…well, avoid anything Marvel-related until you read this in one format or another. I’m not interested in where things are going, and maybe am not the target audience.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

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