Archive for X-Men

Squirreled Records


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Squirrel Girl finally gets her own solo series, written by Ryan North, creator of “Dinosaur Comics,” and illustrated by Erica Henderson, creator of “Subatomic Party Girls.” The mutant girl with squirrel powers who’s somehow beaten the snot out of almost every major Marvel supervillain decides to attend Empire State University. To do that, she has to work out how to maintain a secret identity — she hides her tail by tucking it into her pants, but she mostly fails to remember not to talk to her squirrel pal Tippy-Toe and mostly forgets that she’s not supposed to show off her squirrel strength. Still she meets a few new friends, including her intensely weird roommate Nancy and a potential love interest Tomas. And she has to battle Kraven the Hunter! But can a mere squirrel-powered college student hope to defeat the perfect hunter? Ha ha ha! We are, of course, talking about Squirrel Girl!

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a lot of stuff to love in this first issue. The art is nicely fun, the writing is a winner, and there are a vast number of wonderful jokes, from the “Squirrel Girl” theme song to Deadpool’s trading cards to Doreen’s tail stuffing technique giving her “a conspicuously large and conspicuously awesome butt” — which is immediately checked out by a passing guy in the very next panel. And Doreen defeats Kraven in a fairly cool way, too. I’m hoping this series runs for a nice long time.


X-Men #23

I dropped this series when former writer Brian Wood got outed as a colossal douchegoblin, but with G. Willow Wilson working on the comic, I figured I should give it a try again. This new storyarc seems to be a mostly Storm-centric one — when a sinkhole and superstorm start up at the same time in the Utah desert, Gambit just happens to be on hand and phones up the X-Men for help. While the X-team works on solving that issue, Jubilee discovers that Krakoa (the Living Island now turned Living Landscape of the Jean Grey School) has gotten oddly ill. Hmmm, could there be some sort of disease affecting the Earth itself? Anyway, Storm tries to shut the unusual hurricane down, but it somehow turns against her and leaves her buried deep underground with only a hallucination of Wolverine to keep her company.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. It’s not that bad. But the art is severely wonky, especially compared to the great Terry Dodson cover. I’m also less-than-keen on the way Gambit completely vanishes from the story after he phones the X-Mansion, and the way Storm just randomly dreams up Dead Wolverine to comfort her. Too much Wolverine worship going around in comics right now, to be honest.

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Friday Night Fights: Free for All!

Well, my children, it’s the end of another thoroughly gruesome week, and one measly weekend just ain’t really gonna settle things down for us. But it’ll help. So let’s celebrate while we can with everyone’s favorite: FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from February 1983’s Marvel Two-in-One #96 by Tom DeFalco, Ron Wilson, and Mike Esposito. Ben Grimm is stuck in the hospital after a rough battle, and now a whole bunch of supervillains are on the way to finish him off.




But Marvel’s superheroes aren’t gonna let Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew down, are they?


That’s a bunch of Marvel’s greatest superheroes beating up on the Rhino, MODOK, and a bunch of Moloids. Not a bad way to kick off the weekend, is it?

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Nails in the Coffin


Coffin Hill #1

Today, Eve Coffin is a heroic Boston cop who just captured a serial killer known as the Ice Fisher — until she has a run-in shortly after her great success with a furious former friend with a gun. And ten years ago, Eve was the pampered punk-rock daughter of the scandalously wealthy and notoriously rotten Coffin family. While her family preferred more mainstream debauchery, Eve had a fondness for the occult, which leads to her spending a dark night before Halloween hanging out with friends and reading from an old spellbook. But the next morning, Even woke up covered in blood and dead rodents to find one friend mysteriously vanished and another completely insane. And now, fresh from the scandal of being shot in the head by a friend, Eve has returned to her family homestead on Coffin Hill.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A cool story from Caitlin Kittredge and a wonderful shot of horror to start the Halloween season. A nice merging of misguided youth, wealthy decadence, and cop drama, too. And weird, weird, weird, so much creepy, low-grade weird, like a really quiet turn-of-the-century New England ghost story. Outstanding art from Inaki Miranda, too.


Red Sonja #4

While Dark Annisia holds the town captive and kills anyone who tries to escape, still insisting in her delusions that the town is afflicted with the plague and that vengeful ghosts offer her counsel, Red Sonja is being dragged back from the wilderness to be cured. But blinded by fever, will she be able to fend off an attack by sea-going savages?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action, drama, artwork — just an all-around fun fantasy comic. Never thought I’d be enjoying this so much.


Watson and Holmes #4

Pinned down on a roof by a sniper, Holmes, Watson, and drug-dealing preacher Darius Rice are in deep trouble. But with the preacher dead and the final piece of the puzzle in place, Holmes must deal with a bit of brutal blackmail from the mercenaries who want the case buried. Is there any chance to both survive and solve the mystery?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some more excellent twists on the mystery, along with plenty of drama and great dialogue. And I’m glad to see it looks like this series will continue — both of our heroes have set up shop in familiar 221B Baker Street and are ready to take on more cases…


X-Men #6

Grrrarr, crossovers!

It turns out the X-Men from the future are actually the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Wolverine gets stabbed in the stomach by a son he apparently had with Mystique — and his healing factor has gone bye-bye, so he could actually bleed to death. Future Jean Grey and Future Xavier brain-zap multiple X-Men, Jubilee goes vampire to fight ’em off. Psylocke bashes Future Iceman to pieces. Cyclops’ band of mutant supremacist X-Men show up with the real Future X-Men, and learn that one of them is actually Shogo, Jubilee’s adopted kid, grown to adulthood.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Grrrarr, crossovers! And I don’t believe that Molly Hayes would ever turn evil.

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Soaring Owls


Owls of the Ironwork Isle #2

It’s been a while since the first issue of this one came out, so let’s review: We’re in a steampunk version of London, following the adventures of Lady Penelope Ayre, a leader of the Owls, a team of secret agents dedicated to protecting the city from all possible threats. Queen Victoria plans to levitate the city with the miraculous aetheric generator, and shadowy forces have taken the announcement as an excuse to attack, and Penelope’s adoptive mother is killed and framed as a conspirator. From that point on, it’s an all-out battle/chase scene between the Owls and the many high-ranking soldiers and officials who are attempting to take control of the city.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mad props to writer Stephen Phillips and especially to Lubbock’s Will Terrell, who provides the fantastic black-and-white art. This is full of high-energy action, suspense, and drama, fun dialogue, and extremely charismatic artwork. I hope y’all are able to pick this one up.


X-Men #5

Arrgh, crossovers! The bane of a comic fan’s existence! This is part of the “Battle of the Atom” crossover, where the time-traveling X-Men of the past meet the X-Men of the present and then run headlong into the X-Men of the future. Arrgh, time-travel crossovers! The other bane of a comic fan’s existence!

So the future X-Men, who include monster versions of Beast and Iceman, much older versions of Kitty Pryde, Jean Grey, and Deadpool, Charles Xavier’s grandson, and an all-grown-up Molly Hayes, say that the time-traveling original X-Men are going to wreck the future unless they return to the past. And most of the X-Men have basically decided the younger X-Men shouldn’t be in the present anyway — but original Jean Grey and Cyclops decide they don’t wanna go, so they steal the Blackbird and go on the run. Pretty much the whole issue is chasing Scott and Jean around.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Arrgh, crossovers! So destructive to fun comics!


Batman: Li’l Gotham #6

This issue focuses on both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Damian and Colin hang out, make fun of the old Robin costumes, and then go out to fight crime together, with Colin stealing a spare Bat-costume and using his muscle-growing powers to impersonate the Dark Knight. Later, Colin takes flowers to the nuns who raised him, and Damian gets to spend quality time with both Batman and Talia. In the second story, Commissioner Gordon and Barbara Gordon go out for a Father’s Day dinner, but have to share a table with Ra’s al Ghul and Talia, which makes for a pretty tense meal. The rest of the Bat-family, meanwhile, tries to make dinner for Alfred, which makes for a pretty tense kitchen…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s adorable and funny — and it’s set in the pre-reboot universe, so it’s something all sensible comics fans can enjoy.

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Ice to Meet You!


Batman ’66 #2

The Penguin is back in Gotham City, and he’s parked a gigantic iceberg in the middle of Gotham Harbor to block shipping traffic. And he’s somehow managed to get his iceberg declared a separate nation, meaning the police are helpless to run him off. And just to make things worse, his accomplice in this caper is the dastardly Mr. Freeze! Can Robin save the day when Batman is captured by the cold-hearted criminals? And in the backup story, Bruce Wayne takes Kathy Kane on a date to see a performance by reformed piano-playing crook Chandell. But his co-performer is Lorelei Circe, the Siren, and she uses her hypnotic voice to make all the men in the audience her slaves. Batman, luckily, has made himself immune to her spell, but she uses a mysterious vocal treatment to make the Caped Crusader hallucinate. Can anyone save Batman from the Siren’s song?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The thing I’m really enjoying about this series is it lets us get an idea of what the producers of the campy ’60s show could’ve done with a big budget. Giant icebergs and submarines? Sure. Lengthy hallucinatory episodes? Why not! It’s great fun, and I’m looking forward to more.


X-Men #4

While most of the new X-team is trying to rescue a crashing jetliner (and while Storm and Rachel Grey argue with each other about whether Storm is fit for leadership), Jubilee takes Wolverine and her adopted baby Shogo on a tour around Santa Monica, California, where she grew up.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I know, I didn’t spend a long time describing the plot, ’cause it really didn’t need a whole lot of space. They’re both absolutely outstanding stories — the plane rescue is tense and exciting, and the argument between Storm and Rachel is quite well done — their disagreement makes perfect sense, and their views are honestly presented, with neither one assumed to be correct. But I thought the high point was Jubes and Logan hanging out and chatting in California. They’re great characters, and they play off each other really well. I think I’d be A-OK with Marvel making a “Wolverine and Jubilee Hang Out and Chat” comic book.

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The Disappointments

I had high hopes for every single comic I got this week, and every single one of them let me down. Here’s the damage.


Batman Inc. #13

The final issue of Grant Morrison’s multi-year Batman epic, this one splits its story between Bruce Wayne, beat like a rented mule and arrested for various crimes, being interrogated by Commissioner Gordon, and Batman’s final duel against Talia, leader of Leviathan. Wayne tells Gordon how the murder of his parents left a hole in his heart and how he filled the hole with… something else. And Talia poisons Batman to get a device that will let her destroy cities with a new kind of energy — only to be betrayed by Jason Todd and killed by… someone else. Can Batman continue on, or is his time over?

Verdict: Thumbs down. This one got a lot of hype, and a lot of people who just knee-jerk loved it. I didn’t think it lived up to the hype. The art’s gorgeous, yes. I was pretty satisfied with Wayne’s talk with Jim Gordon. But the rest of it was predictable and pedestrian. Sorry, I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t do it.


FF #10

Dr. Doom wants the aged, time-traveled Johnny Storm dead, and he’s ordered the blackmailed Alex Power to commit the crime. So he asks Ahura, Tong, Onome, and Bentley-23 is they know anyone who’s ever killed someone. Sure, says Ahura, let’s go talk to my uncle Maximus. And Maximus plays a game of 20 Questions with them to get them to set him free. Meanwhile, Ant-Man, Medusa, She-Hulk, and Darla Deering, along with Leech and Artie, take Tom Brevoort, Matt Fraction, and Michael Allred on a tour in the microverse that ends with everyone getting stalked by a miniaturized giant tiger.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Comic creators showing up as guest stars in Fantastic Four comics are a long-running tradition — Stan and Jack used to meet the original FF all the time. But this time is just plain uninspired — the creators were completely unneeded. And the bit with the genius kids getting completely played by Maximus was really just not very interesting. Sorry, I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t do it.


Captain Marvel #14

Again, it’s a crossover with “Avengers Assemble,” so we miss about half the story — but I can’t actually tell the difference this time. Anyway, an old Kree supervillain named Yon-Rogg has it in for Carol Danvers and has a whole bunch of robotic Kree sentries converging on NYC. He’s somehow using the robots and his close proximity to Captain Marvel — and a piece of himself that he’s somehow implanted into her brain, which is what’s been causing all her medical difficulties — to materialize an ancient Kree city, which he’s going to use to crush the Big Apple. So she flies into space and dies to shut down the power source and save the city.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Man, it just made so little sense. And she’s not even going to stay dead a whole issue, ’cause we already know she’ll be back in a month, doing some kind of transformation into her old Binary identity. Sorry, I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t do it.


Daredevil #29

Nate Hackett, former childhood bully of Matt Murdock, on trial for crimes supposedly committed as a member of the Sons of the Serpent, has just been shot… by the trial judge. He’s a member of the Sons, too, as is the bailiff, the prosecuting attorney, several cops — half the folks in the courthouse are members of the Sons of the Serpent. Can Daredevil save Nate, save the innocent paramedic who’s been picked as the fall guy, save everyone else in the courthouse?

Verdict: Thumbs down. I got closest to liking this one, but it just went past my ability to take seriously. If so many cops, judges, and civil servants were secret members of a racist supervillain conspiracy, Nate and Matt and half the superheroes in New York would’ve been taken out by snipers ages ago. Sorry, I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t do it.


X-Men #3

While most of the team travels to Budapest pursuing Arkea (in the body of Karima Shapandar), Kitty Pryde stays home to deal with an attack on the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning by Arkea’s drones. Bling ends up doing most of the work — and seems vaguely ominous while doing it, though we have no real idea why. Meanwhile, the team pursuing Arkea tracks her to a hospital, where they’re attacked by a bunch of cyber-enhanced patients who’ve been possessed by Arkea. They somehow bluff their way into a victory and even get Karima back alive and more-or-less intact mentally.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I loved the art, but the rest of it? It was all just too abrupt. Fighting against an enemy who scared the crap out of Sublime, who planned to kill every living creature on the planet, and they run her off so quickly, with such a small team? It was too anticlimactic. Sorry, I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t do it.

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Robots! Dinosaurs! Science!


Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #1

Huzzah! New Atomic Robo! And more Dr. Dinosaur! It’s the greatest day in history!

In the aftermath of the “Ghost of Station X” storyline, half the planet thinks Robo is an arms smuggler, even though he’s been cleared of all charges, and his population is way, way down. He hears about reports of cryptids sighted in Venezuela, realizes it’s near the site of Science City, where the Nazis ran their space program, so he takes a small team out to investigate. And while Robo is out of town, someone ships Tesladyne a nuclear bomb. Whoa, what? Someone’s trying to frame Robo! And in Venezuela, Robo and his team run into… DOCTOR DINOSAUR! (Not too shocking, since his name’s in the title.)

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s Atomic Robo! It’s Dr. Dinosaur! WHY IS THIS NOT SELLING BILLIONS OF COPIES RIGHT NOW?!?


The Green Team #2

While the Riot, a team of weird and possibly cloned villains, attack Mo Qahtanii and his new, incredibly wealthy friends, J.P. Houston slips actress Cecilia Sunbeam a technodisk that outfits her with a cybersuit similar to the one that Commodore Murphy is wearing. Unfortunately, neither Comm nor Cecilia has a clue how to operate a cybersuit. Cecilia and J.P. end up falling into the Hudson, and Comm ends up stopping his set of enemies with an old version of the Batmobile that he bought. Comm ends up crashing at Mo’s place, where he learns that Mo has been his primary rival for auctions of superhero gear, mostly in an attempt to learn more about Comm and how to become financially successful. And J.P. and Cecilia crash at a fancy hotel, where we learn that they’re secret lovers — and Cecilia learns something unfortunate about the cyberarmor’s effects on her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Definitely better than the first issue. A lot more character work, even if what we learn is that Cecilia is shallow and rich, J.P. is headstrong and rich, Comm is idealistic, a bit stupid, and rich, and Mo is spectacularly innocent and naive and rich. Still, nice action, fun art, and a lot more fun to read.


X-Men #2

Arkea, John Sublime’s technology-possessing twin sister, has possessed the electronically-enhanced body of Karima Shapandar, the Omega Sentinel. She smacks Beast around but has a bit more trouble with Rogue. Kitty Pryde is sent after her, since she’d be able to phase through her and destroy the electronics of her body. Arkea makes a strategic retreat, and the X-Men take off in pursuit.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice action, beautiful art, fantastic characterization. Nice to see Rogue back as a superstrong bruiser, and mohawked Storm is just endlessly badass, even when she doesn’t throw a single lightning bolt the entire issue. And Jubilee is just amazingly grand. I’m really enjoying this one so much so far.

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Girls, Girls, Girls


X-Men #1

A lot of new high-profile comics shipped this week, and this was one of the most anticipated. A new X-Men comic (by writer Brian Wood and penciler Olivier Coipel) with an all-female cast — a lot of people have been pretty excited, and the usual morons have been very furious. So let’s check it out.

We start out with a focus on Jubilee, fleeing from an unknown pursuer with an unexpected baby in tow. She calls the X-Mansion for help before boarding a train and is met on the way by Storm, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde. While they’re all catching up on old times, the baby — an orphan who Jubes has been taking care of — touches a speaker and somehow causes the train to run out of control, but Rogue saves the day by basically throwing the whole train off its tracks. Meanwhile, the guy who was chasing Jubilee shows up at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning — it’s a guy called John Sublime, a sentient, body-switching bacteria who has periodically opposed the X-Men. But he’s not here to fight this time, he surrenders to Rachel Summers and Psylocke. He says the X-Men are the world’s only hope to stop his sister Arkea, a sentient techno-virus. But can the X-Men stop a threat they’re not even aware is hiding among them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Seriously, great writing, great art, lots of fun from beginning to end. All the main characters are women? Who cares? It’s a fantastic comic, and if you’re going to wimp out on reading this because it doesn’t have enough penises to keep you happy, you’re an idjit.


Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #8

While the evil cabal known as the Triumvirate makes its plans to take over America using technology stolen from Tesla, two members of the heroic Consortium of Science are working to foil more of the Triumvirate’s henchmen. Sharpshooter Annie Oakley and master physician (and martial artist) Wong Kei-ying engage in a running (and fighting and shooting) battle with some thieves on a train as they try to stop them from stealing another one of Tesla’s amazing inventions. In addition, we get a flashback to one of Robo’s earliest adventures, as we discover how he and his team of Action Scientists defeated the giant cyber-mummy in Egypt.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like you had to ask? Annie Oakley? Teamed up with one of the greatest martial artists in history? There’s just no possible way that’s not going to be a thumbs up.

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The New Astonishing X-Team


Astonishing X-Men #25

Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi take over this series from the departing Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. We lose Shadowcat and Colossus, but get Storm (and a few others to be named later) in return. Everyone has moved into their new HQ in San Francisco and is investigating the mysterious death of a guy who’s a kinda-sorta-not-really-a-mutant. And to discover the truth, the whole team is going to have to travel to Indonesia to visit an unregulated spaceship junkyard.

Verdict: Well, listen, first of all, there are a lot of cool moments in this one. I love Storm’s conversation with Emma Frost about wanting someone around she can argue with. I love the concept of a spaceship graveyard. I’m not as thrilled about the new “We’re kinda wearing street clothes so the cops don’t freak out about superheroes” uniforms. And the idea of Hank McCoy singing blues songs is just a bit weirder than I can handle. And this entire issue is oddly action-free. The dialogue is still darn nice, so I’m gonna give it a thumbs up. But I don’t know if I’ll be picking up any future issues.


Number of the Beast #6

The Paladins and their supervillain foes finally escape from their virtual reality prison after the High “kills” them all within the artificial world. They emerge angry into the Nevada desert and end up taking on the Authority, which should be a pretty short and bloody battle but probably won’t be, so they can keep the Paladins alive…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still enjoying it, but the last two issues will be the deciding factors in whether this entire series is ultimately good or bad…

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Come Together


Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men

This is the long-awaited finale of Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” series. Previously, the X-Men have been stuck on the alien Breakworld. They’ve learned that the Breakworldian behind the prophesy/blueprint claiming that Colossus would destroy the planet was actually the supposedly compassionate priestess Aghanne, who’s decided that her people are too violent to live. In an attempt to disrupt a gigantic missile aimed at Earth, Kitty Pryde has phased into it only to learn, just as it’s fired, that it’s actually an immense, planet-destroying bullet.

Well, the X-Men on the Breakworld just don’t have a ship fast enough to catch the bullet, but they are able to tell the superheroes of Earth. Unfortunately, the bullet has special magical defenses that put all of Earth’s superheroes into dream-like trances where they believe they’ve stopped the bullet and saved the Earth. Cyclops and Emma Frost can get a rocket near the bullet, but they’re too small to stop it, and Kitty can’t phase back out — the alien metal has weakened her too much. The Super-Sentinel that took out Genosha makes a last ditch effort to destroy the bullet — and fails. There’s nothing that can stop the bullet from hitting Earth — until someone pulls off the greatest superheroic feat ever.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As far as I’m concerned, this is a complete triumph for Whedon and artist John Cassaday. Almost everything here is spot-on perfect, from the wonderful scenes with Spider-Man (I would buy the snot out of a Spider-Man series by Whedon and Cassaday) to the new revelations about Agent Brand to Kitty’s final act to the entirely right aftermath.


Blue Beetle #27

Jaime and his girlfriend, magic-using Traci Thirteen, run into a minor invasion of demons, getting progressively more and more dangerous, as they target a group of unrelated normal people for elimination. And Blue Beetle finds himself trying to stop threats that are far beyond his abilities. Even if there’s a way to save everyone, will anything save Jaime’s self-confidence?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is officially another fill-in issue before the new writer comes in next month, but I still think it was pretty good. I started to complain that we don’t see more of Jaime’s supporting cast — but the thing is, Jaime already has one of the largest and most richly developed supporting casts around, so there’s always room to spread the spotlight around to other characters. And it’s an interesting story anyway, with Jaime finding himself more and more helpless against the demons and questioning his ability to function as a superhero.

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