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X-Men: Legacy #254 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Rating: 3/5

X-Men: Legacy #250 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Men Legacy #249 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Sigil #1 [Review]

Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Ed Tadeo
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Rob Steen
Cover: Jelena Djurdjevic
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Senior Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Crossgen/Marvel Comics

I’ve missed Crossgen. However, until this issue, I don’t recall ever reading an issue of Sigil. So, with this being a new take on things and not a continuation of the old…I come to it fresh. And perhaps for that, I greatly enjoyed this issue.

The issue opens with some disembodied voices talking about some past events, and we gradually move to seeing someone who turns toward the camera with surprise, and cut to a high schooler–Samantha Rey–waking suddenly from the dream, to an impatient father trying to get her up for school. She has an important history exam that day, and we learn she’s having trouble with school since losing her mother. Further exposition follows as daughter/father talk, and then as Sam stops by the cemetery on her way to school. Once at school, we see some of what Sam’s high school life is like, as an encounter with a bully forces her to race to class, where her teacher is not happy at her tardiness. Beginning her history exam, she blacks out to a vision, and finds an hour passed, leaving her in hot water with the teacher. We’re introduced to other students, and then Sam’s bully instigates a situation that causes Sam’s birthmark to flare up, and she finds herself facing the realization that her birthmark is something far more.

The art–perhaps simply for Sam having red hair–reminds me a bit of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and the high school setting certainly contributed to that as well. The art seems fairly simple…smooth, and the coloring somehow lighter or “brighter” than I think I’m used to. Overall, nothing struck me in a negative light, and I had zero issue with the art. The entire art team provides a great piece of work that clearly conveys everything going on, and I really liked the art overall.

The story is quite solid. It’s got a lot of exposition to bring us up to speed on the main character in particular, to work us into her world, and while it’s rather noticeable as exposition…it still works for me. It seems the most important, core elements are presented in this issue as we should get from any first issue. The story provides a nice hook at the beginning, introduces us to the main character, to her family, to her school life, and then takes that extra little leap into what makes this story more than just some slice-of-life about some random high school girl. The cliffhanger leaves me eager for more, and yet I don’t feel shortchanged by what story was provided in this issue by itself.

Overall…this is a fantastic start to the series. For some reason, I have it in my head that this is just a mini-series…but I for one would absolutely love to see this as an ongoing, if every issue was up to the quality of this one.

As said above…I come to Sigil fresh. I recognize the name of the ship Sam sees–and caught myself grinning when I recognized it. Major plot point or simple nod to the past, its presence is a welcome inclusion. The use of the sigil itself reminds me of early issues of the original Crossgen stuff without feeling out of place…perhaps for its stylized modification from the original.

I also come to this just totally thrilled that it carries a $2.99 price.

I don’t often talk about a comic’s cover…but I really like the layout of this, what I believe is the “trade dress” for the new Marvel Crossgen stuff. Having Marvel‘s logo at the very bottom puts it virtually out of site, allowing the Crossgen sigil to stand as its own thing at the top, allowing the “branding” to stand on its own. The logo seems familiar, though I can’t presently recall the original to know how it compares to that. The main image draws the eye to the sigil, as a whole emphasizing that. There’s something to be said about such a close-up on the character, but the image doesn’t truly stray into particularly questionable territory.

This is a complete, totally fresh start…there is zero need to have ever read anything else before this. The art is easy on the eyes, and the story draws one in. While fans of the original Crossgen work may be disappointed at this not being a return to the original series…I think it likely that those fans will be able to appreciate this new start. And for anyone considering this…I highly recommend it! As a whole, I consider this a fantastic first issue that is more than the sum of individual story/art ratings…as seen below.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

X-Men: Second Coming #2 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Unwritten #2 [Review]

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity: Chapter Two

Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
Colors: Chris Chuckry, Jeanne McGee
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote
Cover: Yuko Shimizu
Publisher: Vertigo / DC Comics

This issue continues to show us Tom Taylor and his quest for the truth–of himself, his dad, and what’s going on around him. He seeks out the woman his father had an affair with while he was a boy to ask her about his real mother. He’s referred to where his father was last seen, and heads there. The present-day story is interspersed with excerpts from the Tommy Taylor books, adding an extra layer to the story.

The art continues to work very well for the story, taking on the appropriate visual style for showing the ‘real world’ or the world within the Tommy Taylor books. No complaints from me there.

The story also continues to impress–there’s definite development of Tom, and forward movement to the story; between the pages showing excerpts from the books as well as “web activity” related to “current events” in the present-day part of the story, there’s a lot going on within these pages that help to make it feel like a longer read than it is–one cannot simply flip through the pages skimming the words as one can with some comics these days.

I’m not as blown away with this issue as I was with the first, having extremely high expectations after enjoying the premiere issue so thoroughly (plus, this issue managed to sneak out two weeks ago and I didn’t even notice it the week it was released).

While certainly not a done-in-one story, I do feel like I’m getting a decent value following this as single issues (for all two issues out so far)–I hope it continues that way, making the collected volume feel like less of a necessity for enjoyment of the story at hand.

If you can find that first issue still, I highly recommend snagging both issues–especially if you’re a fan of Harry Potter or have any interest (even academically) in the nature of the “phenomenon” surrounding the Harry Potter books.

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

X-Men Origins: Gambit #1 [Review]

Random Acts of Redemption

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: David Yardin and Kraim Roberson
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Rob Steen
Assistant Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Nick Lowe
Cover: David Yardin
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I broke a personal rule for this issue: I actually paid the $3.99 cover price for it–a price that I despise and on the whole make a point of avoiding on principle alone. However, it’s a one-shot, and I count 30 pages of story, which is slightly higher than a standard issue.

The story of this issue basically follows Gambit–Remy Lebeau–from childhood until what I believe is the incident that introduced him to the X-Men (though I’ve never actually read his first appearance). This is a bit of a recap sort of issue, taking what’s been revealed and established through the years on the character and putting it into a single chronological narrative. That feat is accomplished quite well, and I enjoyed the story as its presented here. It’s also interesting to compare to what I remember of the Gambit series that ran for a couple years back in the late 90s/early 2000 to this…I’m pretty sure that a lot of the story here is based on what was established in that series.

Carey does an excellent job of boiling things down and hitting “the main points” of Gambit’s background. It’s kinda hard to believe (in a way) just how little was known (established) for so long about this character in the first few years of his existence, particularly throughout the 1990s…I’d be quite curious as to how one would “read” those issues in light of currently-established facets of the character, and see how all the cryptic comments/references to vague events hold up–how well more recent writers have fit things to those.

The art somehow reminds me a bit of the Ender’s Game/Shadow books–moreso with the coloring, I think. The style works well, and it’s enjoyable to see the “modern” take on glimpses at 20-year-old events in the X-Universe…characters look as they should on the whole, but the art style is obviously in line with this book as a whole.

If you’re a Gambit fan, this issue’ll be well worth snagging if you haven’t already (I had to wait an extra week as it sold out at my local shop the first week). As a one-shot with extra pages, it’s even worthwhile if–like me–you hate paying $4 for any single issue.

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

The Unwritten #1 [Review]

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
Colors: Chris Chuckry
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote
Cover: Yuko Shimizu
Publisher: Vertigo / DC Comics

This issue opens with essentially a graphic novel representation of a popular kids’ book, one that I immediately compared to Harry Potter. The scene unfolds in a way that reminded me of the ending of Harry Potter, book 7…and at the conclusion of this scene, we move into a “real life” scene years after the Tommy Taylor book had seen print, and meet Tom Taylor. As the now-adult model for the fictional character, Tom has made a living cashing in on the fame thrust upon him–all the more as his father disappeared years earlier–some suspect murdered, but Tom just knows his father left him. At a TommyCon panel, Tom is asked by an audience member about his true past, revealing documents casting his identity into suspicion. As the suspicion makes the national news, Tom finds himself hated and hounded by the public.

I don’t have much to say about the art on this issue–it very much sets a certain tone, and conveys both a fantasy setting and “real world” settings very well. A number of small details capture the feel of the settings, while never making me feel like I was reading something trying to be anything other than a comic book. As a co-creator of the book, and this being the debut issue, there’s nothing prior to make much of a comparison to, but Gross’ work certainly sets a nice standard for a high level of visual quality on this.

The story, though, is what makes this issue. I found myself drawn in from the first page; familiarity with Harry Potter brought to mind, and curious what would set this apart from that. (Further reflection also has me reminded strongly of Abadazad.) We’re introduced to several in-story fictional characters, and then several characters meant to reflect the “real world” within this series. We’re not given a whole lot on any individual character, but we’re given enough to be interested in Tom and his life–who he really is, where he’s come from…what happened to his father, what inspired the Tommy Taylor stories, and a number of other questions. We have a realistic world built around the character–complete with news excerpts, web news articles, blog/chat excerpts, and even snippets of notes from the “author” of the Tommy Taylor books.

There is a lot at play here–I know just enough about writing that I can tell there’s loads of metatextual stuff to be found–that appeals on a number of levels. Wrap the multiple layers with the engaging story and believable characters that are familiar yet unknown enough to engage the reader.

This is one of the best reads I’ve found in comics in a long time…and certainly one of the best values in contemporary comics. We have an oversized issue with few ads priced at only $1; the story is very much a “pilot episode” of sorts, where there’s a story to be found just in this issue, while setting up plenty for the rest of the series to come. As a Vertigo book, I wouldn’t recommend this for the youngest readers, but with that in mind, I highly recommend this issue!

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

Ender’s Shadow: Battle School #2 [Review]

Creative Director & Executive Director: Orson Scott Card
Script: Mike Carey
Art: Sebastian Fiumara
Color Art: Giulia Brusco
Lettering: Cory Petit
Story Consultant: Jake Black
Cover: Timothy Green II
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue picks up at and follows Bean through his time with Sister Carlotta as he learns from her and eventually seeks to learn more about where he himself came from. By issue’s end, we see Bean about to leave for Battle School to face his future.

Where with the previous issue I had not read the novel and thus had no pre-conceived notions or expectations, I have since read the novel this is based on, and had very high expectations for this issue.

The story seems quite accurate, though obviously a good deal is lost for lack of thought balloons and internal narration. Some of the art provides a bit of nearly cinematic symbolism as we follow Bean, which gives us an idea of what he’s thinking.

The art itself is good, though doesn’t quite fit the visuals I formed as I read the novel (and the first issue’s art did not insinuate itself into my mind enough to hold as I read the novel). There is a nice consistency in style, and does not seem bad; it is just what it is.

All in all, a solid issue, though two issues in and not even to Battle School, I wonder how rushed the rest of this story is going to feel.

Worth getting if you’re a fan of the Ender-verse stuff; having now read the novel (inspired BY the first issue to pick that up in the first place), I think this is a strong adaptation…it just suffers as any adaptation does by not BEING the source material.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

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

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