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Mid-March Acquisitions

A few more reasons I love my local comic shop: over the last couple weeks, got Ultimate Comics X: Origins, Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 10, The Iron Age, and X-Force vol. 1 hardcovers for 75% off.

Fitting right into that theme, I stumbled across X-Men: X-Cutioner’s Song for what worked out to 73% off cover price at another shop last week.

spines

I read the first issue of Ultimate Comics X a little over 3 years ago, and even having paid full price for that issue then, I still have not paid the equivalent of 3 single issues for this series…and definitely look forward to reading this to see if it’s worthwhile.

ultimatexoriginshc

Back in 2004-2005 or so, I tracked down X-Cutioner’s song after simply never having gotten around to it in years previous. I believe I found a cheap secondhand copy of an old edition of the paperback…but I’ve had my eye on this quasi-“Omnibus” edition for a couple years now…spotting it for $14 made my week!

xcutionerssongohc

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My Failure to Avoid Marvel Now

allnewxmen005Considering I had planned to simply finish out AvX last year and call it quits for a time with Marvel, they’ve done a great job of keeping me despite that, with this whole Marvel Now initiative.

In fact, at least as far as its impact on me–I’d say the thing’s a huge success.

I didn’t want to buy anything Marvel Now. I didn’t want to be interested. I WANTED the jumping-off point. I was truly looking forward to the excuse to pare back to simply Valiant and TMNT for a few months.

thunderbolts(now)002But I read that darned preview of All-New X-Men, and it hooked me. And I decided to read that first issue of A+X. And the two titles proved a slippery slope into a chunk of Marvel Now for me.

At the beginning of December, I thought Cable and X-Force was due out that week. As I was visiting a friend in Alabama, the only comic shop I had access to was one we found via the Comic Shop Locator Service, and Cable and X-Force was not with the new issues. So, in part due to it being only $2.99, I picked up Thunderbolts #1.

xmenlegacy(now)002A couple weeks ago, my local comic shop put a bunch of Marvel Now issues out on the rack for $1/apiece as “overstock,” so I picked up X-Men Legacy #s 1-2, Avengers Arena #1, and FF #1 to try. For $1 (or 99-cents) I’ll give most any full-size issue a try (I even have a standing order alongside my pull list for $1-and-under specials to be pulled).

While hunting for Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 a couple weeks back, I wound up buying Avengers #s 1-2 to more than meet a $5 minimum purchase for paying with a card at one shop, and then with a slow week last week went ahead and bought New Avengers #1 and X-Men Legacy #3.

avengers(now)002I’m looking forward to trying Uncanny X-Force #1 for the writing–I’ve enjoyed HumphriesHigher Earth, and with that ending figure I’ll give his UXF a shot. I’m also looking forward to an Uncanny X-Men focused on Cyclops and Magneto. Despite myself, I even enjoyed FF enough that–as a $2.99 book–I may look for other issues soon.

The trouble, unfortunately, is that most of these books are $3.99; as are upcoming ones.

Two new Avengers books and they don’t even seem to be set in the same continuity, let alone in the same continuity as what I think I’ve observed with the Captain America book.

aplusx003As of present, I’ve tried at least the first issue of 9 titles, with Uncanny X-Force and Superior Spider-Man #1s both forthcoming yet, which will put me up to 11. Toss in the pending Uncanny X-Men and apparently a Wolverine title (not Savage Wolverine), and across a few months Marvel‘s got me at about half the number of books I tried with DC‘s New 52 relaunch. Spread out like this, though…it feels like there’s more room to “breathe” and actually try different titles without being overwhelmed.

Which, in the end seems to be what they were going for, “learning” from DC‘s putting out 52 new titles in one month.

Old is New?

20121207-213713.jpgI remember noticing it early in the Uncanny X-Force run: the logo was the classic without the 3-D effect. (And the book was without Cable.)

For me, there’s something about a book’s logo. I can appreciate a new look, or something done to clearly indicate part of a group. I just don’t care for the constant change in a short span of time.

Not even 2 years into UXF, the logo was changed to the Regenesis branding. And beginning with Cable and X-Force under Marvel Now, we’re getting another logo (with yet another for the “new” Uncanny X-Force).

20121207-215446.jpgI noticed comiXology’s Friday sale on the first 15 issues of the original “adjective-less” X-Force (cuz now X-Force, a part of the X-Men family of titles gets its own split to two titles) and 2008-ish Cable run. Already got several of the Cable issues last time they were $0.99, but decided to get X-Force #1 for the heckuvit.

I don’t like paying $2.99 and $3.99 for digital comics…but $0.99 isn’t horrible (except I keep seeing the print edition in the 25-cent bins…) And I guess I’ll pay the $0.75 for the convenience.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #304

…For What I Have Done

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: John Romita Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson, Paul Smith
Inkers: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Terry Austin, Tom Palmer, Keith Williams
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: John Romita Jr., Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: September, 1993

After a couple of the X-Books that were not the actual X-Men themselves, this issue finally pulls the X-Men I was familiar with into this story. Granted, I wasn’t extremely familiar with them–but I knew who most of them were thanks to the cartoon series. Wolverine, Bishop, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast, Professor Xavier, even Colossus…and of course, Magneto.

I recall reading the death of Illyana–Colossus’ sister–in the previous issue (sucked in by the image of Jean Grey and Jubilee with the blurb “If you read only ONE X-title this month–this issue MUST be it!”). This issue has the funeral as we see the various characters reacting to the death of the young girl. We also get some backstory on Magneto and the losses he’s suffered, which have been driving factors in his methods of trying to “save” the “mutant race.” There are some quieter moments between various characters; I especially like the Kitty Pryde/Storm and Banshee/Bishop scenes. I’m still amazed in retrospect at how very new some of these characters were in the summer of 1993 (particularly Bishop), and how much more all the characters have grown, changed, or otherwise [been] developed in the decades since this story.

As Illyana’s funeral draws to a close, Magneto crashes the party, which is almost immediately further crashed by Exodus and the rest of the Acolytes, who have come to grips with the revelation of Cortez’ part in Magneto’s near-death. The X-Men and Magneto and his Acolytes clash, as the ship Avalon is brought into Earth’s atmosphere above them, causing world-wide issues and fear. The battle quickly becomes one with catastrophic consequences should the X-Men fail, but ultimately it falls to Xavier to pull a new trick out of his figurative hat to save the day, using his power in a way I don’t recall seeing him do prior to this (though it wouldn’t seem all that out of place nowadays).

This issue felt a bit more like being dropped into the middle of a story, the way it opened–the Acolytes already trying to tear Cortez apart for his deception. I honestly don’t recall if this continues directly from Uncanny X-Men #303 or from some other issue of the X-books. While I vaguely remembered that it was shortly after Illyana’s funeral that Colossus left the X-Men, I’d forgotten that the funeral itself was in this issue, and the way Magneto and Co. crashed the funeral. I’d also completely forgotten the way Xavier ended this particular battle, which seemed both absurd and epic at the same time, to me.

The issue’s art is a bit fractured–there are five pencilers on the issue, and I noticed it while reading–particularly with Magneto’s flashback. Fortunately, other than Jae Lee‘s art, the rest fits relatively well together and isn’t glaring. Of course, that’s something I notice now but if I noticed back in ’93, I don’t recall it being a conscious thing of recognizing different artists’ work, or knowing about “fill in artists” or any such stuff. All that said…this is another issue that I don’t mind the art on the whole, and which seems to fit the story.

Including a few ads, this issue has 62 pages for only a $3.95 cover price. I like the cover–most of the characters shown on the front are the ones I would have been most familiar with, though in this sense are rather generic. But once opened up, we see that there are a lot more characters involved in the image, all angrily looking toward a huge foreground closeup of Magneto. And yet again, I like the hologram on this cover. While the hologram itself is pretty cool, its image strikes me as rather iconic for the time–I’m sure I’ve seen that several image of Magneto with the swirl of debris outside the context of this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve snagged a copy of this from a bargain bin since buying my original copy at full cover price in 1993, but the copy I have onhand right now for this rereading and such was part of a 3/$10 deal, which while not as satisfying on principle as getting the issue for under or around $1, is still quite worthwhile for being less than cover price.

This issue seems to set the stage for the next couple chapters, which to me are the heart of this story, and what I MOST think of with the title Fatal Attractions.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Force #25

Back to Front

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Wiacek, Green, Ryan, Palmiotti, Hanna, Conrad, Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: George Roussos
Editors: Bob Harras, Tom DeFalco
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: August, 1993

Twenty-five issues…big number, huh? Well…maybe not. I’ve seen this title repurposed for awhile, then renamed X-Statix and that ran for a couple years. Then post-Messiah-CompleX another X-Force ran for a couple years, and the current Uncanny X-Force has run about 30 issues. But y’know, back in the day, this was a common anniversary–a whopping 25 issues.

As with X-Factor #92, I re-read this and much of it was like I was reading it for the first time…certainly the first time with much comprehension of who these characters were. This was even before Cable first got his own series, which ran for over 100 issues (followed by Cable & Deadpool that ran about 50 and the more recent Cable series with Hope than ran about 25).

This issue seems to be the introduction of Exodus. A sticker on the bag this copy of the issue was in when I bought it stated “Exodus 1st App.” Back in the day, I didn’t pick up on that, and just thought he was another one of these “Acolytes” and didn’t dig or think any deeper. It’s also the “return” of Cable, apparently the first he’d shown up since the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover few months earlier.

The new mutants–the X-Force–return home from a mission. However, someone else is there–and the battle is quickly joined…though it turns out their mentor–Cable–has returned. Some are glad to see the man, others not so happy–but all listen as Cable explains a bit of where he’s been and what he’s learned since the events that seperated him from his pupils. Exodus arrives, inviting Cannonball and Sunspot to Heaven, but pre-emptively attacks the group for thinking of attacking him. Cannonball eventually agrees, but the team follows, and all find themselves aboard what apparently used to be Cable’s base, known as Graymalkin, with a sentient computer program called “The Professor.” After more fighting, Cable gets his young charges off the ship, and seeks to “rescue” the computer program that’s apparently been a father figure to him–and finds himself confronting an enemy all thought dead. This fight is much shorter, all but disassembling Cable before he escapes (nearly as a corpse) to rejoin X-Force.

As said above, I didn’t really “get” this issue when I first read it, when it came out. I recall (with a bit of deja vu) the ending with Cable, but not much else. I certainly lacked the context of Cannonball and Sunspot being part of the New Mutants prior to Cable’s 1st appearance and that title ending to be replaced with this one. I had not yet read X-Cutioner’s Song–or at least, not more than maybe a couple chapters (it was only about 6 or 7 years ago that I finally tracked the story down and read it all the way through) so I didn’t even have that context of what had happened to Cable, though from what trading card or another or Marvel Handbook/profile special (Stryfe’s Strike Files?) or Wizard or some such, I knew of Stryfe as being Cable’s clone from the future.

I hadn’t realized either, at the time, that Magneto had “died,” though from in-story context I picked up on the characters having thought him dead…but his death/etc was more of a “meta” thing than I was aware of as a 12-year old at the time.

This issue’s story is another that stands alone well enough, though it continues to build foundation for what I consider the “heart” of Fatal Attractions in X-Men #25 and Wolverine #75. The art is good, and somehow extremely familiar to me. This visual rendition of X-Force just is what it is, and I like it.

I’m a bit less impressed with the overall cover of this issue than I was with the X-Factor issue; but in a way the fairly close-up image of Cable with one of those HUUUUGE guns he carried is rather iconic, which makes this a more full cover from the front for me than the X-Factor issue. Of course, this cover (and the hologram) also totally gives away from the get-go that Cable is back, but especially near 20 years later, I’m not bothered by that at all.

I’ve snagged this issue from bargain bins–turns out I actually wound up with 2 copies of this issue for roughly $.75 total in the past month. Well worth getting, if only for the hologram, particularly if you can snag it from a bargain bin. Cover price was $3.50, which again is 50 cents cheaper than cover price of a standard Marvel comic nowadays, and this has a cardstock cover, hologram, and 48-ish pages (some of them ads).

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Factor #92

xfactor092The Man Who Wasn’t There

Co-Plotter: Scott Lobdell
Penciler/Co-Plotter: Joe Quesada
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Background Assist: Cliff Van Meter
Colorist: Oliver
Assistant Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: July, 1993

This issue kicks off the Fatal Attractions story/crossover/event, and carries the cover title “Out of the Light and into thy father’s shadow,” which is an apt declaration of the interior.

After an attack on a bunch of humans in hospice, X-Factor is investigating the slaughter. Though they lose the last survivor from the attack, the team has a prisoner–one of the Acolytes–who doesn’t seem inclined to give them any information until Quicksilver shows up. As the Acolytes worship Magneto, they place great importance on The Son, which allows some answers to be coaxed from the captured Spoor. Despite orders to remain behind, the rest of the team follows Quicksilver and government liaison Valerie Cooper, and what they find at an apparently quiet military base shocks the team and creating a rift between them and Cooper. Lead Acolyte Fabian Cortez does the usual villain thing of spouting off about his plan to Quicksilver, and is angered when his offer to install the Son of Magneto as leader of the Acoyltes is rejected. After X-Factor’s battle with the Acolytes ends, the team is left to deal with Cooper, who has had a revelation of her own explaining her recent actions and attitude.

I know I read this issue when it first came out 19-some years ago, but this time through much of the issue read as “new” to me. I remembered the Acolytes’ attack on the hospital, and the woman crying at the end, but the in-between stuff hadn’t stuck, nor did I have any great grasp on who all these characters were or their context.

It’s quite interesting looking back from 20 years later, knowing where certain characters wind up, and knowing in general what I do today about them that I did not know then. For one thing, I feel like I truly appreciate the enormity of this story now, where back then it was just an extra-length issue with a sturdy cover, fancy “hologram,” and a nearly triple-sized price tag ($3.50, but I think an issue like this published today would–knowing Marvel–be at least $7.99 if not $9.99).

Story-wise, I’m not entirely impressed–though this issue seems to set stuff in motion for the rest of the Fatal Attractions series, there’s something to it that just doesn’t feel like it “matters” as much–perhaps because this is just kicking stuff off, and so the nature of the crossover isn’t yet apparent by this issue’s conclusion, so it winds up feeling like more of a prologue or tangential piece of things. While the Acolytes are present here and their slaughter of the humans will have other consequences later in the arc, this issue is very much an X-Factor issue, and seems very much like the “random” issue plucked from continuity and read out of context. Knowing what I do now about Quicksilver’s relationship with Magneto, this issue holds more meaning for me–all the familial relationships of Marvel characters were still mostly abstract to me in 1993.

I definitely like the art for the issue, and in the first few pages I found myself thinking there was something familiar about it–and had a momentary “ah-ha!” when I saw the credits box and realized this was Quesada‘s work–I’d totally forgotten that he was the penciler on this series back then. I don’t recall being at all put off by the art back in ’93, and at present, find that it holds up well, as the characters are distinct, the action’s easy to follow, and I even actually like the very-90s character designs.

I’m most used to seeing the front half of this cover, so I’m that much more impressed opening the issue and looking at the whole of the image. The trade dress for this series is the darkened overlay on the right-hand side with the Fatal Attractions logo, cover blurb/title, and of course the hologram. This overlay takes up nearly half of the front cover and for me has always been the dominant factor. The hologram image itself is about the size of a trading card, and even now remains quite impressive to me–I recall noticing how “deep” the image was, and in the right light I can still stare at it for a bit, marveling at the detail and depth. (Even with contemporary 3-D films, I’m far more impressed by the depth of purported 3-D than I am stuff popping out at me).

All in all, a strong issue that I definitely like. Though I paid full price for a copy back in the day, I’ve since snagged this issue from 25-cent and 50-cent bins, though considering its cover price is still cheaper than a contemporary 20ish-paged single issue from Marvel today, it’s well worth its full price. Heck, the hologram alone is worth the 25/50 cents to $1 price if you come across it in a bargain bin. Though this is part of a larger story, it stands alone well enough.

xfactor092wraparound_large

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

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