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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Prime

90s_revisited

xmenprime001Racing the Night

Writers: Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza
Pencilers: Bryan Hitch, Jeff Matsuda, Gary Frank, Mike McKone, Terry Dodson, Ben Herrerr, Paul Pelletier
Inkers: Al Milgrom, P. Craig Russell, Cam Smith, Mark Farmer, Mark McKenna, Tom Palmer, Tim Townsend, Hector Collazo
Letttering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Coloring: Steve Buccellato and Electric Crayon
Cover: Bryan Hitch
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 1995
Cover Price: $4.95

With this issue, we’re back to the “real” reality/universe/timeline/whatever. The 616 Marvel Universe. Bishop and his mission was a success, and by stopping Legion from killing Xavier…the Age of Apocalypse never happened, things have been set right. Or have they?

We have a bunch of plot points sharing this issue…while the various Age of Apocalypse mini-series led into X-Men: Omega, this issue now serves as the focal point for the return of the “regular” X-Men titles…as a “regular universe” Alpha issue to introduce readers to the current status quo of the characters and teams that make up the X-side of the Marvel Universe and send the readers into the mix of titles having had this bit of setup for where things are moving forward.

I do think that if Free Comic Book Day had been around in 1995, this would certainly have been a Marvel offering…an in-continuity quasi-anthology to get readers to jump aboard the entire line of X-comics.

I can’t say I’m honestly all that thrilled with this issue on this re-read. I certainly appreciate that there are “only” two writers credited, offering a bit of consistency to the story side of things. The issue is quite a mix visually due to the numerous pencilers and inkers getting their chance to work on pages presumably germane to the individual titles. Reading through this time, I noticed a bit of wonky art at points, but somehow was not particularly jarred by the shifts…perhaps for familiarity with the Age of Apocalypse stuff as a whole.

After the shiny “chromium” covers for X-Men: Alpha and X-Men: Omega, seems Marvel felt the need to give this a special cover as well–a clear plastic-ish thing with an inner orangey background. We also get the “alternate” X-Men logo, with the Prime part next to it…and the whole thing is a wrap-around (which I very much appreciate 20 years later in an age of VARIANT “interlocking” covers).

The story introduces or re-introduces some characters–and I even see hints of Onslaught in this reading. We find out that several characters–Nate Grey, Dark Beast, Sugarman, and Holocaust–escaped the Age of Apocalypse and wound up in the real timeline. Nate first appears in the “present,” while Magneto’s Acolytes only now in the present discover what will be revealed to be Holocaust…but Beast and Sugarman arrived 20 years ago, and were responsible for the Morlocks and Genosha’s Mutates, respectively. Marrow is reintroduced, aged twenty years from a prior appearance…Rogue and Iceman are on a roadtrip, the former haunted by whatever she saw in Gambit’s memories (Gambit’s in a coma). Trish Tilby reveals the Legacy Virus to the public along with the knowledge that it’s affecting humans as well as Mutants. X-Factor chases Mystique and Havok’s powers act up on him; X-Force’s base is destroyed. Wolverine is living in the woods outside Xavier’s mansion (refusing to reside under the same roof as Sabretooth) and Bishop is having unconscious outbursts as a result of the visions he’s having as a result of his temporal status in relation to the Age of Apocalypse. Amidst all this a mutant seeks the X-Men but winds up victim of humans lashing out against something they fear and do not understand.

This certainly sets up the various X-titles moving forward, so for that alone is pretty much an “essential read.” Yet, unless one intends to pursue those issues from mid-1995 that this is immediately germane to, there’s not much to really dig into singularly with this issue. Outside of characters involved and how they now will interact in the 616 universe, there’s no actual story-content directly tied to the story of the Age of Apocalypse timeline.

Given that, my covering of this issue is much like why I covered the non-Legion Quest X-books that preceded Age of Apocalypse: this is stuff coming out on the “other end”, the border, “bleed,” or whatever butting up against the Age of Apocalypse without actually BEING an issue of that..

While rarer than the Alpha or Omega issues in bargain bins, I certainly would not pay much more than cover price for this (and that would be a grudgingly-paid price). I’d seek this out to use as a starting point diving into any or all of the X-books of the time but certainly not if you’re only interested in the Age of Apocalypse.

Unlike contemporary Marvel, this does not kick off “the next” EVENT but rather gives the individual titles time to flex and explore their own things for awhile before everything heats up again with the following year’s Onslaught stuff.

xmenprime_wraparound

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Quantum and Woody #5 [Review]

quantumandwoody005Writer: James Asmus
Art: Ming Doyle
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Pin-Up: Tom Fowler and Brian Reber
Cover Art: Andrew Robinson, Lee Garbett, David Lopez, Mike McKone
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

Now that they’ve accepted they’re stuck together…Eric (Quantum) and Woody are sharing Eric’s apartment. Of course, Eric hadn’t counted on Woody ALSO bringing the goat (now named Vincent van Goat) and the “teenage” clone of the woman who murdered their father into the mix. As Eric goes to work and returns the weapons Woody snuck out, he tasks Woody with finding a job. Instead, Woody decides to house-hunt, and winds up losing Eric’s car in the process. Eric meanwhile finds that he’s come to the attention of his boss, who lays out an interesting proposal.

Though I’ve now read all of the original Q&W issues, I’ve never looked all that deeply into them…but at least on the surface, this continues to very much come off as being in the same spirit. The situations are modified, more modern…but this series fits right with the original to me.

I don’t know where the story’s actually going, though I recognize Eric’s boss’s name and so have a certain suspicion there. I do have a better sense of Eric’s annoyance (and Woody’s deservance of being the target of said annoyance) in this series so far. 

The art isn’t bad, though something seems a bit “off” and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s a bit of a shift, but everyone’s still recognizable and it’s not hard to follow what’s going on.

As a bonus, we get a random pinup page in the back…which is rather amusing in itself, as well as refreshing: it’s a pin-up page, meaning full-page one-page art piece…but get this: it’s NOT A VARIANT COVER! Someone, somewhere, actually remembers that an artist can do a piece of art like this without it HAVING TO BE a VARIANT!

All in all, a good issue, and as billed on the cover, the start of a new arc and thus a better jumping-on point than the previous issue (especially when you consider the first TPB is due out soon at the “bargain” $9.99 price point of all the Valiant vol. 1s). If you’re already following the title, it’s worth continuing. If not, you might be better served grabbing the paperback to read the first/origin story and if you like it, continuing on.

The ’90s Revisited: Parallax: Emerald Night #1

parallaxemeraldnight001Emerald Night

Writer: Ron Marz
Penciller: Mike McKone
Inker: Mark McKenna
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Cover Date: November 1996

I missed Final Night when it originally crossed the DC Universe. (Of course, that was an easy enough thing to do, as back then an event even of this magnitude seemed to be contained to a single month rather than spread out across half a year or more!)

I came across this issue in a random box of comics I got for $5. I knew it had ’90s stuff in it; my interest was piqued by some Onslaught (Marvel/X-Men) issues and a couple issues of Wizard magazine on top of the stack. This was one of the brightest “gems” of the entire box, though, once I actually dug through…well over 100 issues and yet I found myself leaving everything else partially sorted and began reading this, just because of what it was!

Kyle Rayner finds Hal Jordan–Parallax–and explains that Earth really needs him…the hero that he WAS, anyway. A sun-eater has darkened Earth’s sun, which means if it’s not reignited…well, that’ll be the end of the world, within days. Jordan wallows in indecision given his checkered recent-past, and winds up visiting several figures from his past in order to seek internal “guidance” on making a monumental decision. As we see him interact with Guy Gardner, John Stewart, an old mechanic ally and finally Carol Ferris, we see the influence they’ve had on him, and Jordan–Parallax–makes his decision.

Story-wise, this issue is rather cliche. The Hal Jordan I knew and have had thrust upon me for the last decade or so certainly wouldn’t have had this hesitation…yet, this was a much different character, and was Parallax at the time, which we’ve come to know means he was possessed and thus not entirely himself anyway. That doesn’t remove the cliche, but makes it bearable as a piece of the past, filling in a small gap in my experiential knowledge of this character. Yet, this is a Ron Marz issue, and it’s nice to see the way he handled the Kyle/Hal stuff, and the rest of the Hal stuff…what I recognize retroactively to be making the best of a bad situation.

Visually, I liked the look of this overall–I rather enjoy McKone‘s work–yet it didn’t seem quite as refined as I expected, and something was a bit “off,” keeping this from being as much a visual enjoyment as I expected for the name on the cover.

Still, as something that I functionally paid maybe 4 or 5 cents for, this was very much a worthwhile read, worth my time and I’m glad to have read this. The primary drawback is that now I want to find my other Final Night issues to reread that core story, and I’m re-interested in tracking down the actual Green Lantern issue(s) that tied in, as all these years later I’ve still never read those in any form!

52 Week #52 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: A Year in the Life

Booster and Rip Hunter vs. an evolved Mr. Mind for the fate of the multiverse!

52week52Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Mike McKone, Justiniano, Eddy Barrows, Chris Batista, Pat Olliffe, and Darick Robertson
Inks: Andy Lanning, Walden Wong, Rodney Ramos, Drew Geraci, Darick Robertson
Colors: Alex Sinclair, David Baron and Hi-Fi
Letters: Ken Lopez
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Michael Siglain
Special Thanks to: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue is almost stand-alone, in a way. It tells the story of Booster, Rip, & Co. as they battle Mr. Mind, who has evolved and emerged, ready to feed on the multiverse created at the end of Infinite Crisis…a task they’ve apparently been working at for awhile. We’re shown some decent detail as to the nature of the multiverse and its origins, and while I’ve not been following any of the One Year Later books that have mentioned it in any way, it seems a good explanation of things to me, for now.

This issue employs quite the artisitic team, and while it might seem like some scramble to get extra pages in this issue, the story itself provides great contextualization and use of the multiple artists. I enjoyed the shifts in art…and the overall visual tone of this issue was on par with–if not surpassing–the usual…a fine finish that I hold no complaint with.

Story-wise, one can go a couple directions. Plenty of action, though with a fair amount of time-travel and looks to different points of plans that were set in motion previously, this issue lacked a concrete feel of being set in the final week, feeling instead like a special issue chronicling an "untold tale" of a "lost week" or some such. On the other hand, with the other core storylines having wrapped up the last couple months, this was the biggest "loose thread," and a LOT was crammed in, even with 40 pages, detailing its conclusion.

All in all, we get a number of cool moments–and an obvious if unexpected reunion of sorts–with events either tying back to the first issue of this series, or evoking some SERIOUS deja vu. It answers some questions, while leaving other newer questions (no pun intended), and provides what I consider some good, solid comic-book closure. That is, the stories conclude…but the door is in no way slammed shut on things.

Obviously, if you’ve followed the series all that far, there’s no reason NOT to get this issue (those extra pages? Same cover price, even!). And heck, even if you haven’t followed this series all that closely…there’s stuff in this issue that looks like it’ll have some solid repercussions in the months to come throughout the DCU (as well as some explanation given to the nature of the apparent multiverse that’s been brought back), so wouldn’t be a bad issue to nab as a single, even if some smaller moments/subtleties are lost for not having read the series as a whole.

A solid ending to a solid series…

Ratings:

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

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