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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

Uncanny X-Force #22 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

X-Men: Legacy #250 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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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

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #13 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

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

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #12 [Review]

Writer: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colors: Matt Mills
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Production: Taylor Esposito
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

Deadpool and the gang find themselves in a bit of a race–both literal and figurative–to get back to the chopper and get to the portal so they can go home. While Deadpool’s group deals with their immeediate threat of Zombie Prof. Veronica, the surviving AIM agents plot how to get home, since they need Deadpool as well. When the groups converge, negotiations are had, a deal struck, and things still don’t really go according to plan…but then, Deadpool’s involved. What plan can really be had for things to go according to?

The art has a cartooney yet modern flair to it. The characters are pretty distinct, and it’s not hard to follow the action. Nothing much really stands out, as even the gorier parts fit within the atmosphere of the story. As with any character interpreted by multiple artists across different books, Deadpool’s got a mildly different appearance here than in other books–it in no way takes away from the character, but the style may not entirely fit one’s personal tastes. I do prefer other takes on the character slightly more, but this is not a bad look for the character. The zombies look properly creepy and messaged up…and as a whole, the art does fit itself with the story.

While I referenced above the idea of things not going according to plan where Deadpool’s involved, the writing does show a plan that stretches beyond just a single arc. While there was a distinct split-point, this arc specifically builds on elements from the opening arc. I’m not sure I’d read anything by Gischler a year ago, but he has quickly become my favorite Deadpool writer, capturing the chaotic, whimsical nature of the character (and the multiple voices) while building a relatively long-term story within a couple of smaller arcs.

Though this was begun as an ongoing series and has since been retroactively deemed a 13-issue limited series (something I’m not thrilled with)…this issue actually feels like a penultimate chapter of something big…and taking prior issues along with this, I would hope there’d be an oversized single-volume hardcover for this series.

If you’ve been following the series so far, this is certainly worth picking up. However, at issue 12 of 13, if you’ve not been following along, I’d recommend holding out for a collected volume.

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

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

Prelude to Deadpool Corps #1 [Review]

Killer Queen

Writer: Victor Gischler
Art: Rob Liefeld
Colors: Matt Yackey
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Liefeld & Yackey
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

I’ve waffled over whether or not to pick this issue–this series–up as singles. This is sure to be a single-volume graphic novel in short order, as a singular companion to the debut of the actual Deadpool Corps series. And of course, this is a $3.99 issue…which I’ve just paged through and determined has a mere 22 pages of story…and an overly-lengthy “extra” section regarding the creation of the covers for this series…including full-page color images OF those covers…basically “filler” material to get extra pages TECHNICALLY relevant to the series to add to the issue’s thickness and APPARENT quasi-validity at the price point (aside from special issues, virtually every Deadpool comic of the last couple years has kept to the $2.99 price).

This issue focuses on Lady Deadpool, picking up on one of her adventures some time after Merc With a Mouth #7’s dimension-hopping adventure. Having joined up with the “rebels,” Lady Deadpool comes into conflict with General America (armed with a cybernetic…well…arm) and finds him quite the opponent. Before things go too far in favor of either combatant, “our” Deadpool makes an entrance, officially on a recruitment drive…and a rematch is to be had.

The story here starts off well. We get mostly a full issue focusing on Lady Deadpool–delving into a bit of motivation for the character, and setup for who/what she is overall. We get Deadpool himself, of course, and the beginnings of groundwork being put out as to how this Deadpool Corps is going to be assembled (I can’t help but think of something like Exiles, though I never read more than the occasional issue of that book).

The art by Liefeld is decent, but not my favorite by any means. I’ve tended to enjoy his depiction of Deadpool, but there is a certain anatomical consistency that seems to be lacking in various panels throughout this issue. As it gets the story across with no real hassle, I don’t take too much issue with it.

Overall, a solid first issue to a mini-series that itself as a whole sets up the first issue of another series. I don’t recall if every issue carries the $3.99 price point–but I’m going to have a real problem if it does, as the “extra” material is incidental at best and is not material I’d pay for (wouldn’t object to its inclusion in a $2.99 issue as TRUE “bonus” material, mind you).

This is a weekly mini, which means a big story told in a single month…but combined with the other 3 already ongoing titles for Deadpool, this may put a strain on fans’ wallets should one be the sort to try to snag the entirety of Deadpool’s current titles. It’s interesting to find myself in the midst of a true “family” of titles around one main character, when just a few months ago there were only two Deadpool titles, and 3 seemed to push it…but this fourth adds a whole new “dimension” to things.

I recommend this for those who are a definite fan of Deadpool, don’t mind the $3.99 or Liefeld art, enjoy Gischler‘s writing in particular, and mostly anyone who want a regular dose of Deadpool-related action.

On the whole, this seems unnecessary in relation to the main Deadpool title, so one’s probably equally safe to ignore this without missing out on anything deeply impacting ongoing continuity. Similarly, one can enjoy this while ignoring and not missing out on anything from the other books.

Story: 8/10
Art: 5/10
Overall: 6.5/10

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #8 [Review]

Writer: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Art: Jose Pimentel
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Production: Damien Lucchese
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

After last issue’s walkabout through several alternate realities (introducing us to Lady Deadpool, the Deadpool Kid, and Major Deadpool), our Deadpool is back on his own Earth, still with Headpool…and facing Dr. Voodoo, the Sorceror Supreme. (And Dr. Betty, and the AIM guys). Voodoo fixes the dimensional portal, and Deadpool takes Headpool through to his home dimension…though the two are followed by Dr. Betty and the AIM guys, who figure it’s safer than in the swamp. Once on the other side and with the portal closed, everyone finds out just how dangerous Headpool’s home dimension really is–having been overrun by super-powered beings who are all now zombies, desperately searching for any non-zombie flesh to be found for consumption. Of course, Deadpool’s prime for that–he won’t die, so they figure they could feast off him long-term. Deadpool does his usual bloody thing, while the others also fight for survival…and some new guests arrive rather unexpectedly on the scene.

This issue’s art is good as usual. No real problem here…things seem as they should for comic art, and nothing’s particularly offensive that isn’t likely intended to be (such as a zombie cut in half, guts ‘n bits spilling around as Deadpool’s sword does its business).

The writing’s not bad, either. The story’s progressing quite well, and keeps in-character with Deadpool as I’d expect. The only real drawback to this issue is that it’s not really connected to the Marvel Universe…sure, it’s set there…but this title doesn’t seem to really be “participating” in the main continuity. In and of itself, though…if you want an ongoing Deadpool story that doesn’t require any real knowledge of that main continuity, isn’t held to whatever boundaries of the continuity, and is still a great read…this is the title for you.

While there’s far more to appreciate having read the prior arc, this is–I believe–the start of a new arc, and not a horrible place to jump in and check things out a bit.

Recommended.

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

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