Bitten: The Complete Second Season is SyFy’s tale of werewolves with serious relationship issues. The series gives us the charming female werewolf named Elena (Desperately Seeking Santa‘s Laura Vandervoort). She lives a dual life in two different countries. In Canada she has a human boyfriend. But in America, she’s part of a werewolf pack with her old lover who is the guy who bit her and turned her into a hairy beast. It’s border awkwardness. The season opens up with a massive power struggle. Jeremy Danvers must hunt down and kill Malcolm Danvers in order to maintain control of the pack. What they don’t count on is a Coven of witches that also wants to find Malcolm. There’s an all out battle between these two supernatural enemies. Elena gets taken hostage by a third group. She’s in serious trouble. A majority of the show is about the human element of those that get hairy when the full moon comes out. The 10 episodes keep up the tension with various groups struggling for power. This is a fine viewing for those who miss the creatures of the night element of True Blood, but aren’t fans of vampires.
Rogue: The Complete Second Season is something you might have missed on the cable box since the series runs on DirectTV’s Audience Network. Grace Travis (Mission Impossible II‘s Thandie Newton) as an undercover agent who sometimes forgets her purpose. The first season put her into a position with a criminal empire in Oakland. Season two changes things up a bit. She’s no longer on the police force. She’s graduated to the FBI. However this gig is supposed to have her merely handling undercover agents. All is going fine until one agent vanishes. This means that Grace must assume a new identity to get involved in a San Francisco operation. Things get complicated as she investigates the target while tracking down the whereabouts of the missing agent. The 10 episodes crank up the intrigue. Newton does a killer job playing the agent who finds herself deep cover again. She heightens the risk when it appears her cover is about to get blown. The bonus features include short pieces on casting, set tours, the actors, the characters, the stories and the FBI Taskforce. For those who don’t have the mini-sat dish in the yard, Rogue on DVD is a fine way to absorb the action without fearing that a downpour will ruin your summer night viewing.
Welcome to Sweden: The Complete First Season is a rare joint production between America and Sweden. The series about an American money manager in that country could have easily just devolved into a series of jokes about clogs, Abba and Ikea. But luckily Greg Poehler isn’t just another showbiz sibling inspired by a movie he saw 10 years ago. He really did fly to Sweden to be with the Swedish love of his life. He’s basically playing himself in the show which allows his comic character to have a bit of heart on the screen. He arrives with excitement of seeing his amazing blond girlfriend in her natural environment. The comedy is cute as Swedish culture gets explored. They could have easily put this together to look like a reality show since the humor is natural instead overly timed. Lena Olin (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) brings a lightness to her motherly character. The show isn’t just about the colorful characters of Sweden. Will Ferrell, Aubrey Plaza, Amy Poehler (Greg’s sister) and Malin Åkerman make guest appearances. Patrick Duffy and Illeana Douglas arrive as Greg’s parents. Gene Simmons also visits Sweden to get Greg to manage his money once more. Nobody wants Greg to stay in the bright yellow and blue wonderland that is Sweden. It’s a cheery sitcom from a country that’s known for rather bleak flicks about Death playing Chess.
All three shows are coming back with their next season. The second season of Welcome to Sweden begins July 19 on NBC. Rogue just began fresh episodes on DirectTV. You can catch up on the last season on the DVD sets and be ready for more on the nights when the thunderstorms dominate the sky.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic on all the shows. The audio on all includes 5.1 Surround Sound and 2.0 Dolby Digital mixes. There’s also English subtitles. This comes in handy for the Swedish translations.
Bonus features are only included on Rogue.
Entertainment One presents Bitten: The Complete Second Season. Starring: Laura Vandervoort, Greyston Holt, Greg Bryk & Paul Greene. Boxset Contents: 10 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: July 7, 2015.
Entertainment One presents The Bold Ones: The Senator – The Complete Series. Starring: Thandie Newton, Cole Hauser, Sarah Jeffery & Ian Hart. Boxset Contents: 10 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: May 19, 2015.
Entertainment One presents Welcome to Sweden: The Complete First Season. Starring: Greg Poehler, Josephine Bornebusch, Lena Olin & Claes Månsson. Boxset Contents: 10 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: May 19, 2015.
Whoops, spoke too soon! This issue went ahead and rectified that, and, as promised, some name brand characters died. Generally when Marvel says something like “An Avenger will die!” you need to look no further than the fringe members of the current roster to figure out who it would be, and honestly, I came in expecting Sunfire to kick the bucket. I mean, Marvel already hates him, look at his last ten years! He’s had his legs cut off, Rogue take his powers, M-Day take what’s left of them, an AoA makeover to work for Apocalypse and Sinister to get back his legs and powers, and then all of it shoved aside until a few mentions in this book. I fully expected Shiro to die here.
What I didn’t expect, however, are the characters who did die.
I mean, Wanda JUST came back! Not that she was dead, just radioactive and covered in Disassembled and House of M stank. Children’s Crusade was supposed to redeem her and bring her back into the fold, and while it did the latter of those things, the former was handled as ‘blame it all on Doom’ and I still hate them for it. Then Avengers Vs. X-Men was supposed to be her returning to prominence as a key member of the cast, but she really just showed up for the beginning and end to say how M-Day wasn’t her fault (kinda was). Which brings us to Uncanny Avengers, where she’s really just been a giant bitch since the first issue.
Maybe this is Marvel’s way of saying that they give up on her? I mean, it’s sure as hell not a push to give Rogue depth or angst, despite the initial push that things are heading that way.
Since she’s the other death, cleaved in half by the Grim Reaper while Wolverine goes berzerk. Which is lame, because Rogue has really grown into a really strong character over the past few years, almost entirely due to the work of Mike Carey who has truly redefined her. She’s no longer the angsty southern belle that can’t touch anyone for fear of killing them, nor is she the deus ex machina that she morphed into in the early 2000’s, she was just….well, Rogue. She was simplified, she made sense, and given that she’s using Wolverine’s claws, and he’s clearly used his healing factor during this arc, I can’t imagine her death sticks.
Or maybe I can, jeez, I forgot that this was Remender. He who knows what he’s doing, and thus, how to close obvious loopholes. I’m not sure even Wolverine could come back from that, and he has the full force of the healing factor.
So here’s the thing, though, Wanda didn’t just fall over dead after getting impaled on a pair of claws. She crawled around, did some magic, and then Simon did something very Simon like.
He sacrificed himself. Not the first time, not the last time, but he sacrificed himself to save the day, and we’ll find out next issue whether or not Wanda lives, and sometime down the line about the true casualties of the issue.
Rogue and Wonder Man.
X-Men (vol. 4) #1
Written by: Brian Wood
Penciled by: Olivier Coipel
Inked by: Mark Morales and Olivier Coipel
Colored by: Laura Martin
Lettered by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99
Maillaro: This is one of those books that I suggested we review because I had some agendas I wanted to talk about that don’t necessarily tie directly into the actual content of this issue…
1) I do like the fact that there is an X-title that is devoted to female mutant characters. For a long time, X-Men has really been a showcase for great female characters, like Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, etc, etc. That said, it kind of annoys me that they called this book X-MEN. Like Fearless Defenders, Marvel seems determined to hide the fact that these books feature a lot of female characters. Now, we could say these are just gimmicky titles, since there doesn’t even seem to be a reason that this book only has female characters, but it is a gimmick I definitely like seeing.
2) Marvel now have 5 books called X-Men. Wolverine and the X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, All New X-Men, and X-Men. That is just ridiculous. The X-line has been excessively large since I started reading comics back in the early 90’s, but it’s just getting worse and worse. On top of five books called X-Men, right now there are two titles called X-Force, Wolverine has two solo books (not to mention all the team books he shows up in), and three titles with Uncanny in it. This just makes me want to ignore all of them, which is unfortunate since All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men are very good books.
3) I haven’t read much by Brian Wood, just Star Wars and Ultimate Comics X-Men, but I was very excited to see him on an X-Men comic. He really seems to have a lot of great ideas, and I thought he would be a great fit for this title. And I always love Olivier Coipel’s art. LEGION LOST IN THE HOUSE!
Weaver: I’m going to go point by point through your agenda, and mention up top that I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this comic.
1) (Insert obligatory Peter David “low self-esteem Polaris” comment here). Seriously, though, I’m not sure I’m as up on a book just featuring the ladies. In some ways, this comic felt more forced that way than Fearless Defenders did, and I think a lot of it is because such a large portion of the X-Women tend to have a certain amount of power overlap, most of it in the support power category. I was afraid this would denigrate to “I’m reading his mind” “And me too!” It didn’t, really, but it has that danger. I think Fearless Defenders benefits from having a bit deeper pool to pull from, and I think this can work, but I still sort of fear for it. There is Rogue and Storm to hit the physical threats, though, so it might not be as bad as I’m thinking, but I have a feeling most plots are going to feature one or more members just kind of shrugging and staring at the action. I agree with the titles to a degree…in another way, it might be overly pandering to call it X-Ladies or something. There are concerns from the feminist crowd that specifically labeling things as feminine tends to Barbie-ize them a bit more, either consciously or subconsciously. I don’t fully disagree.
2) Good god, there’s a lot of X. However, I prefer it to the style they had a little while ago where every X-Men was given a shot at a solo comic…didn’t Captain Marvel get canceled for a Jubilee solo title? I kid, I kid. I think it’s oversaturation, but if all the titles are selling, then I guess it’s oversaturation that works.
3) Brian Woods is a new one to me, I think, but he seems like a good fit for X-Men so far. The first issue really highlights some of the characters in a way that shows he understands them very well, especially impressive with Jubilee, who tends to have a new backstory and attitude with each new writer. This is as definitive Jubilee as I can imagine. Olivier Coipel is an artist I really like too, especially when he was on Avengers. He definitely knows how to make characters look unique, and that’s fantastic here.
Maillaro: I definitely agreed that the existence of this book doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in character. There was nothing about this threat that really said “only female mutants should be involved.” It was definitely a huge contrivance to only have female characters at the mansion to deal with, and I think that could get tiresome quickly. At least Fearless Defenders came up with a storyline reason to have a team of female heroes.
I was actually pretty torn about this comic too. I did think that there was some great characterization here, but I have never really been a fan of Sublime in the comics…which is odd since he inspired so many ideas for me for the X-Men RPG we run. Giving him a sister who can control machines just seemed like a real odd stretch. Sure, it should be able to set up some cool stories, but I am just not sure those are “X-Men” stories that I want to read about.
The train crash sequence was pretty cool (though gratuitous as hell), and I am always in favor of comics showing evil babies…because all babies really are evil and they need to be outed as such. If nothing else, Wood did write it all in a way that was convincing at least.
Weaver: I also want to note that this team of women is organized largely around a plot involving babies. Way to get them out of the kitchen, Marvel. I’m kidding here, but I really think that people might draw some poor conclusions from that.
The train wreck was my favorite part. Kitty and Rogue got to show off a bit, Storm got to be the tactical leader, it establishes the characters and how they handle threats. And comics need a fight sequence against something low tier to establish those things. I’d hesitate to call it gratuitous since they did find a way to insert it into plot, so it wasn’t “And now Spider-Man fights muggers!”
I’m not a big fan of Sublime either, and this also seemed to borrow heavily from a number of other X-Men plots I’ve already read, which was another minus. It seems a lot like Cassie Nova with a dose of “bad guy comes to warn the good guys of another bad guy” which is so played out that it’s getting seriously old to me now. Cliches are cliche for a reason, but I think this cliche has done way too much X-lifting lately.
Maillaro: Yeah, I was thinking Cassandra Nova too…and that is never a good thing.
Another thing I think might of helped this book would have been to build the tension of the story a little longer. Revealing the baby as evil pretty much right on the first page of the book seemed to be a bad choice to me. There wasn’t a lot of fear about “who’s following Jubilee” since we already knew the baby was the real bad guy here.
One thing I did find very amusing was the last page, since Omega Sentinel has been getting such a big role in Avengers Alliance lately.
Weaver: Well, I mean, it’s a baby. Of course it’s the bad guy. The sweeter and more innocent something appears, the more evil lies within its blackened soul.
Yeah, Omega Sentinel amused me for the same reasons. Oh well, looks like we get to see her in action.
Alright, I’m going to score out the writing at a 2.5. There’s some really good stuff in the character establishment side, but the overall plot and premise, I’m really nervous about if it is a story worth telling.
Maillaro: I am going to score it a little higher, I definitely think it did more right that wrong. 3.5/5 Honestly, it’s not a book I would be willing to pay 4 bucks for every month, but it does seem to be trying to carve our it’s own little niche, so deserves some credit for that.
Artwise, it’s typically Coipel. The characters have a ton of personality and individuality. I think the art helped make up for any potential deficiencies the story might have. It won’t stand up as one of the great artistic works of the industry, but it’s rock solid. 4.5/5.
Weaver: I’m going to give Coipel a 4/5. I generally agree, but sometimes the background characters got really lazily detailed. One thing I really liked is that Jubilee has more pronounced Asian features than typical for her. I like that artists are starting to make ethnic characters something other than white characters with a darker skin tone. Which, granted, was in itself a sort of necessary overcorrection from the early era of…well, let’s charitably say over-exaggerating things. I’m just glad that now, we can have characters that look like a realistic specimen of the ethnicity they’re supposed to be.
Maillaro: I think we might have talked about this in the past, but when I first saw Jubilee in the cartoon and comics, I had no idea she was supposed to be Chinese. When I went back and saw some of her earlier appearances, she looked far more Asian than she had for a long time in comics. It definitely is nice to see the art heading back in that direction.
Shadowman (vol. 2) #0
Written by: Justin Jordan
Art by: Roberto De La Torre, Mico Suayan, Lewis LaRosa, and Neil Edwards
Colored by: David Baron
Lettered by: Rob Steen
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99
Maillaro: So, I picked Shadowman 0 because I remembered you saying you really liked the earlier series, so you want to start us off on that one?
Weaver: You betcha! So, it seems like one of my tropes here is to say things about how I normally don’t like space stories or steampunk or kittens or something…Shadowman is essentially a title that hits right into my wheelhouse, perhaps moreso even than Midnight Nation. We have here a story about dark magic, voodoo, creepy old houses, everything. And set in Louisiana, the most natural possible setting for it.
One thing this title has always done is set a good ambiance for the story. It reminds me of the best examples of the 70’s horror comics, coupled with more of an ongoing narrative than most of those attained. I assume that this standalone story is background for the next arc of Shadowman, which I’m definitely going to be picking up.
The whole thing is set in the 19th century, and the art team mutes the palette quite a bit to convey that to you. This causes the brilliant colors of certain magical effects/areas later to pop even more. A really fine effort from the art team here, too.
If there was one thing I didn’t like about it, it’s that it took a few pages for me to understand that we were reading this from the girl’s perspective. That might have just been me, though.
Maillaro: I am kind of surprised, I mean the first panel of the book is “My brother and I were born in Louisiana in 1812.”
I immediately knew it was going to be Sandria’s story…which was cool because I always like the character in the old Valiant comics. I do have to admit I was a little disappointed though, since the cover suggested it would be a story of an old Shadowman, not Darque’s origin story. Thankfully, the quality of this book made up for that disappointment quite a bit.
I will go back to talk about the story some later, but one thing that really sold this book for me was the terrific color choices and shadowing. This comic had a very haunting feeling to it, from Sandria and Nick’s pale skin to the dark shadows that seemed to hang over every inch of the plantation they grew up on. There was no mistaking this for a happy comic…
Weaver: You have to remember, you read all the Valiant comics in the last year or so, I haven’t touched them since they were new. I also hoped we’d see a ye olde Shadowman, but this comic was quality cover to cover regardless. And I agree, the colors really gave this comic all the ambiance it needed. I also like the withering flowers and such during Nicky’s power grab, and other thematic elements.
You know, it’s pretty amazing how often we talk about the colors, I think it’s a topic we go into almost weekly. It’s one of those things that when it’s done right, it really hits you, and we’ve been blessed to see a lot of great colors (and a few really poor ones).
Maillaro: You have a fair point about me reading Valiant recently…though I still think that first line was about as clear as it can get. But you are slow some times…
Yeah, I care much more about the coloring and tone of a book than even the art at times. That is why I always try to make sure to credit the letterer and colorist for any comic we review, they are unsung heroes in this industry and can often take a good book and give it that little push it needs to greatness. Everyone can name their favorite artist and writer, but names like Dave Baron, Chris Eliopoulos, Dave Stewart, and Richard Starkings are just as important to the industry to me. Damn, there I go with the name dropping again…
Back to the writing, while I was reading this book, a part of me did kind of feel like “this is a story I’ve read before,” about power and what an evil man would do to possess it, and how that power can corrupt even innocentish children. But I enjoyed this book so much that in the end it didn’t matter how familiar it felt, this was still a very good comic.
Oddly enough, Shadowman has been my least favorite of the Valiant relaunches so far (still a good comic, but the others have just felt more fully realized), but this issue gives me a lot of faith that Shadowman is starting to find it’s footing.
Weaver: Part of the beauty of the story is how it takes a number of simple premises and pulls it all together to make the sum larger than the parts. This, to me, is a great example of a horror comic done right. Heavy on the theme, simple on the plot, with still a bit of a twist to hang it all on at the end. Which wasn’t really a twist for either of us, but to someone who’s never read stories featuring these characters, it should come as a bit of a surprise.
I know that we’ve talked before about how horror is very much about what you don’t show versus what you do show, and I think another way this comic was effective at that was to do cuts at various times. It does show us Mr. Hossenfeffer. It does show us Nicky. But it shows us clues to that before we see them…the blood, the withering plants, all the thematic elements. It built up those reveals so well.
Maillaro: By the way, I think Mr. Hossenfeffer is the best name I have ever heard for a rabbit. Maybe I just have a twisted sense of humor that way.
OH! One last thing I wanted to comment about this book. At the end of the comic in the letter page, a line from my review of Harbinger Wars 1 is quoted as promotional material. I love when that happens! I used to get cover quotes on Crossgen comics all the time.
But enough about me, I would give the writing a 4/5 here and the art a 5/5. Sort of an unfair world where I give the writing on this book a 4 when I gave X-Men 1 3.5 and it was no where near this good. One day, I really need to try and normalize my scores a little…but that day isn’t today.
Weaver: A line from our site is quoted on the cover, as well. Glad to see Valiant reads our site.
I’m going to give it straight 5’s. This comic did everything it could be asked to, and did it well. I think it’s really the best example of a horror comic you’ll find that doesn’t have Teddy Kristiansen art. And I’m going to shed a sad tear for Mr. Hossenfeffer.
Next week, a double dose of Busiek for us as I read up on Avengers Forever again, and get introduced to Astro City. Meanwhile, I’m considering doing solo reviews of sections of the run of Thunderbolts, or maybe dual reviews with a more mature partner.
Maillaro: It’s really not hard to find someone more mature than me…but we did get a request to review some Niceiza Thunderbolts, so I am actually looking forward to reading that review, it’s been a while since I read those issues!
|Maillaro – Story||Weaver – Story||Maillaro – Art||Weaver – Art|
|X-Men (vol. 4) #1||3.5||2.5||4.5||4|
|Shadowman (vol. 2) 0||4||5||5||5|
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Black Widow and Rogue by Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend
Iron Man and Kitty Pryde by Peter David and Mike Del Mundo
The short of it:
It’s the Black Widow’s day off, and she intends to spend it at a spa admiring her new car. She absolutely loves that thing; fast, rare, and it even has a heated steering wheel. She gets a text about something going on in the area, asking her to check it out, but it’s her day off, screw work! Work comes to her, however, as a Sentinel crashes right into her new car; now Tasha is pissed. She gets geared up, armed, and starts trying to blow the ever loving crap out of the mutant killing robot, but there’s only so much a non-powered individual can do with gymnastics and guns. Cue her backup, in the form of Rogue with Captain Marvel’s powers. The two bicker as the Sentinel escapes, and the real problem arises. The thing has a disrupter capable of knocking all the power out in New York, and they wind up with one long shot at stopping it. Literally. Can our heroes stop the Sentinel, save the city, and still have a day off? And what about Natasha’s car?!?!
Meanwhile, in the lands of STORY NUMBER TWO, Kitty Pryde is doing a tour of Resilient with Pepper Potts, Lockheed in tow, and suffering from….A COLD! Or maybe it’s allergies, point is she can’t stop sneezing and isn’t sure why she’s even there because Wolverine is horrible at giving messages. It seems they want to give her a job, and that Tony has been fully aware of her technological prowess for years, but Kitty has a job she likes. Still, she can be amazed by all the cool science stuff, like Iron Man armors and Pym Particles. Kitty has another sneezing fit at the Particles, and things go to hell. Remember a few months back when she was pregnant with Brood? Well, she wasn’t totally cleared out! Now it’s Kitty, Lockheed, and Iron Man against some big nasty Brood! With Phasing powers! Can Iron Man blast them to death? Can Lockheed burn them down? Or will Kitty have to outsmart them? And will she get the job?!
What I liked:
What I didn’t like:
OMG you have a text!
Seriously, my brain has invented a theme for that, I keep hearing it and it won’t stop. Make it stop.
The second story wasn’t bad, but holy crap that first one was absolutely perfect. You like Rogue, Widow, or Chris Bachalo? Hell, are you in the mood for the best ten page story you’ll read all week? Chris delivers it.
I want to know who Widow had the affair with.
So last issue I got the feeling that the book was building up some sort of time travel arc after both stories used alternate futures sending people back as the means for setting up the stories. This issue we have AIM stealing a science fair project and sticking it on a Sentinel, and some blowback from an earlier arc of Wolverine and the X-Men. Now, the book doesn’t need a long term ongoing plot to keep me interested, I just sorta want to know if I should go in expecting one or not.
Why doesn’t Bachalo write more often?
Can we have a women of Marvel book by Chris? I know Cullen is getting Fearless Defenders, but how about Women of Marvel by Bachalo? I’d buy it!
The editors notes brought me amusement, Nick Lowe has fun with them and it shows.
The last page with Kitty and Iron Man is priceless. Sure, Tony should have been smarter, and there’s no reason he would be honestly surprised by the results, but the dialog in the last two panels makes the story completely worth it.
Written by: Rick Remender
Artist by: John Cassaday
Coloring by Laura Martin
Lettering by: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99
Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel Comics on Comixology
Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!
You know, while a lot of people are probably pissed that it’s been seven weeks since the first issue of this came out, but with the 4 dollar price tag, and so many of Marvel’s books coming out twice a month, I considered it a great relief. I would actually prefer this kind of delayed schedule, it lets me buy many more series!
It actually made it far easier to justify to myself to pick up this book. As opposed to All New X-Men, which is 4 bucks and came out this week AND comes out again next week…That said, I think I would have been FAR better off reading and reviewing All New X-Men…
Summary (contains spoilers): This comic starts much like the first issue did, with Wolverine still being mopey about Charles’ death. This is a strange side to see of Wolverine, and I can’t say I like it all that much. Leave the philosophy to Spider Jerusalem…bub.
We pull back to see the Avengers are dealing with the destruction caused by Avalanche in the last issue. Wolverine believes that Avalanche was reformed and didn’t see him doing this. Cap says that Avalanche’s eyes seemed vacant, something was off here. Thor considers this an act of war, with someone trying to pit humans against mutants.
Cap talks to Wolverine some about his idea about a joint team of Avengers and X-Men led by Havok. Wolverine has concerns about Havok as the leader, since his brother was the one who caused most of problems lately. Captain America admits that he needed someone who is media friendly. Wolverine dismissively mocks Cap about looking for pretty mutants.
Meanwhile, the media seems to be even more anti-mutant than ever. People are saying things like:
It is revealed that all these talking heads are just an illusion can by a Red Skull operative called Honest John. His powers allow him to appear as “their ideal leader” and he is able to inspire people to attack mutants, including friends and family members.
Meanwhile, Rogue is being held at the Xavier Institute by the bad guys who attacked her and Scarlet Witch last issue, including Avalanche’s daughter who is made of water. Rogue is able to cleverly use a cup of water to use her powers on the girl, and makes an escape, determined to find Scarlet witch before they can use her for their own agenda.
We discover that Wanda is being held by the Red Skull. He talks about their connection, during World War 2, he spared Magneto from the Holocaust, which is how Wanda would eventually be born…the final hope of mankind. He reveals that he is working on a school for gifted humans, which will be seeking to wage war on mutant kind. Red Skull uses the telepathy he borrowed from Xavier’s brain to manipulate Scarlet Witch into agreeing with him. He suggests that he can use humanity’s fear of mutants to:
He gets a call from his henchmen telling him that Rogue has escaped. Rogue pops out of a nearby water source and absorbs the now mind controlled Wanda’s powers, but she’s unable to use these powers. Wanda slams her through the ground, and the two of them find Charles’ now brainless body, which kicks Wanda out of the mind control. The issue ends with them standing against Red Skull and his henchmen.
Review: I was actually really disappointed in this comic. I loved the first issue, but this one really felt like it was spinning it’s wheels. Pretty much the whole comic was characters standing around brooding or monologuing. I did think some of the character moments with Cap, Wolvie, Thor, and Havok in the early part of the issue were good, but then these characters never show up again, so it almost felt wasted.
There were some good scenes, like Honest John’s manipulations of the public, but it seemed a little strange that “good propaganda” would cause a father to kill his son like that. Maybe Red Skull was using Xavier’s brain to boost the effect, but there is really no indication of that. I also thought some of the scenes with Rogue and Wanda had a lot of potential, but by relying on a cheap “mind control” plot, it just felt like a cop out instead of a chance to deal with some real emotions.
I also got tired of people referring to Rogue as “Magneto’s whore.” It’s been a while since I read X-Men, but comic writers seem to make a little too much of Magneto and Rogue’s time together in the Savage Land, like they are somehow destined to be together (thanks Age of Apocalypse for the start of this). It was like 20 years ago, and in it, Magneto says nothing happened because “he was pledged to another.”
Remender would have been better served by moving things forward more in this issue. A good team comic needs to have the team front and center, not just brooding in the beginning of the comic, with the villain chewing scenery for the rest of the comic. By the end of this comic, it just felt like we were in the same place we started. Heroes having no idea what’s going on, Wanda and Rogue facing off against Red Skull’s very generic henchmen. I did find it amusing that Red Skull seemed to have stolen his plan from Sylar from Heroes.
Usually I like John Cassady’s art, but something was really off here. All the characters seemed to be emotionally flat. It really made for a strange read to me, with powerful emotional words coming from statues. I kept thinking that the characters were going over their lines in rehearsal and that the real emotion was coming later.
All in all, for a book that seems to be the flagship for the Marvel NOW! line, this issue had a lot of good ideas, but the execution just felt flat all around. It really just felt like filler, which is never good when a comic is only on it’s second issue. You can’t have a comic book be as late as this issue was and fail to execute like this one did.
Final Score: 6.5 – Emotionless art and 4 bucks for a comic that really just felt like a lot of characters standing around brooding. Definitely not what I was expecting.
Uncanny Avengers #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by John Cassaday and Laura Martin
The short of it:
The book starts with brain surgery and a funeral, and oddly enough, they aren’t related. The familiar preview page of open brain surgery opens the issue, and no, it’s not Cyclops, but while our faceless bad guy monologues we cut over to Wolverine being the voice of the X-Men and being the most obviously perfect person in the world to speak at Xavier’s funeral. Not Beast, or Iceman, or Storm. Wolverine. It’s actually a pretty good speech, just…Wolverine. Meanwhile you’ve got Havok going to go visit slash tell off his brother in jail. More Scott without regret, more characters treating him like he’s some crazy evil mastermind they locked up. It’s about then that Cap and Thor show up looking for the oft forgotten Summers Brother. It’s a bit of a propaganda meeting, with Cap trying to make sure that Alex is going to be too much like his brother, and trying to sell how great he is despite the whole AVX deal.
The answer to the problems that became obvious with the happening of AVX? Havok should lead a team of Avengers. In part because of how awesome he is, but you also can’t ignore that Wolverine is a cold blooded killer. Mutants will follow him, and he’s good at his job, that’s what Scott settles on. And then we find out that our brain surgery patient was Avalanche coming out and unleashing acts of MUTANT TERRORISM, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years! Avalanche gets defeated relatively quickly, but not before creating mass devastation and I have to imagine killing quite a few people.
Then we get to see Wanda mourn Xavier, and Rogue shows up to talk down to her about how she’s not welcome here. So begins the argument, Rogue blaming Wanda for creating the entire mess, and Wanda telling her to get over it and blame Cyclops already. I’ve never been so happy to see a character punched in the face, blown up, and stabbed in the span of four pages. Our brain surgery bad guys pick them up, as well as something else to return to their master…
But that’s a spoiler!
What I liked:
What I didn’t like:
There is a cover gallery in this issue. For this issue. Eighteen covers. For this issue. Fuck you, Marvel. Seriously, fuck you. Deadpool is two of the variants. Four of these are pencils, one is blank, and three are exclusives to stores that make them not even exist to me. Did you need this many variants to sell this book? No? You just wanted to try and cash in some more? Of course you did, you’re Marvel! DC might have done die-cut covers today, but you had to roll out the variant train!
The last page would have had a lot more oomph if next issues cover hadn’t been plastered across the web for months. Still a lot of oomph, but notsomuch on the bad guy reveal.
I said it earlier, but it deserves further stating. I’ve never been so happy to see a character punched in the face, blown up, and stabbed in the span of four pages.
I love the costume choices done for this issue. Cap in his classic beats the Ultimate Cap look I saw in Consequences, Thor looks stellar, Wanda doesn’t look like a whore, and as for the X-Men? Well, don’t screw with the classics. John already drew the perfect Wolverine back on Astonishing X-Men and there was no reason to mess with that. Havok is the classic look without the giant head flares…which I’m fine with, and Rogue? I love green jumpsuit and hood Rogue, so much more than 90’s leather jacket Rogue.
Rick Remender did do one thing pretty successfully; he crafted a situation that demands attention from both Avengers and X-Men to make the pairing of the teams more organic than just Captain America saying so.
One issue in and Havok and Rogue are the stars of what Marvel is promoting as the biggest book in their line up. I think it’s very possible that I could grow to love Marvel NOW! Very possible indeed.
Now, before anyone gets in a tizzy, the official Marvel Comics line from their Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has been:
I respect EIC Alsonso, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, and Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada who have been doing the rounds lately to plug Marvel Now.
I do also believe that after almost 11 years of stories, it seemed that a lot storylines were coming to an end at around the same time — threads and plots that started all the way back with Avengers Disassembled. I get that it was also time reintegrate the X-Men with the Marvel Universe proper as well as the cosmic heroes like Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Those are all sold story-based “WHAT” or content reasons to refresh and, um “ReEvolution” the Marvel Comics line.
However, “HOW” Marvel chose to package their Marvel Now initiative is very much influenced by the DC Comics New 52. Certainly, they are different stories content wise – DC’s initiative was a line-wide reboot whereas Marvel’s is a select branding of several new titles – but they both have the same goal of appealing to new and lapsed readers as well as retain existing readers. However, (A) the “Marvel Now” branding and the embracing of a large number of new #1’s is very much influenced by the success of The DC New 52 and (B) spacing out the new #1’s weekly between October 2012 and February 2013 is influenced by the criticism by some retailers and readers of the all-in-one-month relaunch plan DC Comics implemented in September 2011.
So, yes, story-wise this is clearly is all Marvel Comics, but the marketing of Marvel Now is very much DC New 52 inspired – positive and negative.
EIC Alonso also threw a dig at DC Comics – carrying on the tradition of Brevoort and Quesada – that clearly shows they have watched and learned from DC’s bold experiment.
As part of Marvel’s charm initiative it was also reported that Marvel Now is pretty much a net new number of ongoing series. There are no cancellations deliberately planned to make room for the new #1’s:
When I returned to writing for the Comics Nexus in 2010, I opened with a few columns on the state of the industry including what I termed Marvel’s “Concentrated $ameness“. It would seem Marvel is at the same state they were then. Their solution is to capitalize on successful brand names. Lots of Avengers, X-Men and Spider-Man books and multiple Thor, Hulk, etc. books. These are popular franchises and likely more guaranteed sellers.
On the other hand, DC Comics New 52 was a right-sizing of their line as well as story-line relaunch, Marvel’s is building on their existing output with new #1’s.
That makes DC Comics’ virtual tie with Marvel Comics for unit and price share of the comic industry most impressive since DC puts out significantly less than that Marvel.
In fairness, back in 2010 DC Comics also had a “familiarity” editorial policy while many of the bigger independents had (and still have) a reu$e and recycle policy. However, with DC Comics New 52, DC has mixed some successful franchises with new efforts and the reimagining of older concepts. Yes, there are a few Batman books by DC, but certainly not in the same number as Marvel’s Spider-Man. And, there is also the twice monthly shipping of Marvel’s more popular titles with I think Amazing Spider-Man still shipping thrice monthly.
While Marvel lacks diversity, it certainly has proven that doubling down or tripling down or more on successful franchises is a sales strength for the company. Marvel has dominated sales charts for several years and since last year is pretty much tied with DC or slightly edging DC month to month. So, let’s not cry for Marvel. It remains a major comics industry success story.
With that said, while Marvel Now also has the potential to cannibalize its own readers with around 20 new #1’s, with no corresponding cancellations, I am excited about a few books announced or hinted at with their teaser. The Marvel Now initiative naturally has some positive potential.
The Marvel Now teaser is intriguing. It is interesting that we don’t see Spider-Man’s full costume since he’s hunched over. Could his costume be revamped and more aligned with the recent Amazing Spider-Man movie reboot the way that (A) Marvel Comics recently introduced a bald, black, one-eyed Nick Fury and a non-heroic Hawkeye costume to align with the mega popular Avengers movie (which I loved) and (B) DC Comics dropped the red trunks for Superman to conceivably be more similar to the new Superman movie reboot costume?
There are also some other interesting costume changes in the teaser for Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Sue Storm of Fantastic Four and Cyclops of the X-Men. There’s also the return of Cable and Marvel Girl / Jean Grey; the latter in a new series written by Brian Bendis called All New X-Men featuring the time-displaced Jack Kirby and Stan Lee X-Men that are in the modern Marvel Universe to stay.
I do support Marvel’s plan to embrace the shared universe concept. With X-Men and cosmic characters more integrated with the main Marvel 616 universe that the Avengers have been traversing in since Avengers Disassembled.
To that end, while yet another Avengers book on one hand makes my eyes roll, on the other hand the new Uncanny Avengers book featuring equal measures of Avengers and X-Men seems like an interesting bridge book for me. Havok, Cyclops’ brother, will lead the team which includes Rogue, who hates Avengers due to the rearing of her step-mom Mystique, and Scarlet Witch whose “no more mutants” hobbled mutants for generations. Writer Rick Remender is joined by artist John Cassaday on the book. Instead of getting another X-Men book or another Avengers book, I’ll sample Uncanny Avengers that will give me both in one book. Win-win (for me).
I currently read several DC Comics, several independents and one Marvel book monthly; that Marvel book is Winter Soldier.
I will likely check out a few of the nee #1 titles. I’m a huge fan of Hawkeye, Forge, Madrox, Gambit, Bishop and Cable (can you tell what era of Marvel Comics I am a huge fan of? ), but while I don’t like Hawkeye’s new comic book costume, I am intrigued by the new Gambit series and am tickled by Cable’s insertion in the Marvel Now promo poster.
Also, if Marvel is taking requests, can I ask for an Ares ongoing series? Or does the reason that Thor has swords in the promo pic is because he is a god of war now too?
Maybe lapsed readers like me might sample more Marvel books due to Marvel Now, but the jury is still out on how many new readers the DC New 52 brought in. Likely some for sure. Are there such thing as new readers and have they come into the industry in large numbers in the last year or so?
With Marvel’s abundance of popular “franchise” or “family” titles, twice monthly shipping popular series, and now new #1’s of Marvel Now books likely a large number of which align with franchises such as Avengers, Spider-Man, etc. how many of its existing readers will Marvel cannibalize? In a lingering recession and finite disposal income, will the likely success of Marvel Now take away from other Marvel titles?
The big question about Marvel Now for me is how many Avengers books can Marvel put out without oversaturating the market? This is clearly a trial and error thing because there is no set formula. That said, my hope is Marvel Now is less about its well know characters and profitable franchises, but more about its own neglected properties and even new concepts.
Marvel Now needs to be a vehicle for greater diversity not simply more $ameness. The teased Guardians of the Galaxy – with Rocket Raccoon – should be the poster child of Marvel Now.
The future looks promising for Marvel and the comics industry. A real competition between Marvel and DC Comics is a great gift to modern fandom.
So, in 2012/13, make mine… Marvel?! The next few months should be fun.
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X-Men Legacy #266
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and Rachelle Rosenberg
The short of it:
The Avengers/X-Men war is coming to the Jean Grey school, and that means that Rogue has to keep the teachers and students in line! Some staff bail to go help Scott, others aren’t sure what to do, and most of the students want to go beat up on the Avengers. Wolverine? No where to be found. Hey look, Avengers at the door, but they didn’t call ahead! She Hulk, Falcon, and Moon Knight come looking to lock the place down, because anything X is guilty until proven not as guilty! Kitty and Rogue talk them into staying at a distance, but they aren’t too pleased with it…and neither is Frenzy. It’s not hard for her to start a fight, but it’s even easier for She Hulk to take the situation and make it go completely FUBAR by taking out three students because she thought she saw a ‘monster’. Lesson one, X-rookies, never tell an X-Man you thought a mutant was a monster. Why? Because now it’s Rogue versus the Avengers…and their secret weapon!
What I liked:
What I didn’t like:
The guy in the White Hood really did say “you people”.
This is one of those cases where I feel Krakoa should be used, because, I mean, if he’ll attack Cyclops in one book, you think he’d try and kill the Avengers here for actually attacking.
Still hate Moon Knight.
So does Falcon know he’s covering for Captain America having Wolverine booted out of a jet, or is he just making up bogus excuses because he didn’t bother to ask?
Hellion jobs too much. This dude was the bad ass kid of his day, Quentin who? But now he’s just dude with floating metal hands that occasionally says something douchey.
Come to think of it, Pixie is the only member of Academy X that seems to get any degree of love from anyone. Sofia is gone, Laurie and Jay are dead, David shows up here and there to say something smart, Nori shows up here and there to be a bitch, and Josh has been gone since Kyle and Yost exited X-Force. Sooraya, Ceslie, Santo, Victor…I hate that the cast is bunch of background fodder. I loved that run.
Did Frenzy start the fight? Sure, she instigated the hell out of it, but I’d like to think that an intelligent general wouldn’t send a bi-polar schitzophrenic with anger issues to a school. That was just begging for him to go loose cannon.
… but the first of the purple clad “heroes” to get a new Marvel ongoing series is that rogue, pun intended, X-Men Gambit.
Remy LeBeau returns in a new series in August penned by James Asmus with pencils and art by Clay Mann.
Over at Marvel.com, the creative have revealed a few tidbits including the following.
The first arc of GAMBIT will see Remy “pulling a job in his own backyard,” but ending up in familiar hot spots through time and space including “ancient ruins, a savage other world, a bizarre futuristic Marvel landmark, and into the jurisdiction of one of my favorite foreign Marvel heroes.”
“Gear up for exotic locales, sudden surprises, sexy tension, and a wide range of allies and antagonists—old, new good and evil—who aren’t always on the side you expect,” continues Asmus…
While old flames will inevitable make their way to GAMBIT eventually, the opening story will introduce a new femme fatale in Remy’s life, one who may be his professional equal—or even his better…
While artist Clay Mann has depicted a version of Gambit in Age of X, this will be his first real chance to take on the classic incarnation of the character, and Asmus doesn’t hesitate to highlight on of the key skills his collaborator brings to the table:
“Answers one through five are ‘sexiness,’ which, honestly, I think is an undeniably key aspect to making Gambit work. But beyond that [Mann’s] work is a rare and incredible balance of cool and grounded. His design work makes all of his characters as believable and appealing as you’ve ever seen. He manages to pull off any insane spectacle you can think of, letting you really by into the experience while still making it feel like something special.”
Alongside this new series is another new ongoing title centered on the Avenger Hawkeye. That new series will be written by Matt Fraction with art by David Aja and feature Clint Barton in his new Avengers movie inspired costume.
Marvel.com also had some news to spill that new book.
“He’s got some stuff coming up in [Avengers Vs. X-Men] and afterwards he’s in a place where he’s gotta figure out what he’s doing with himself and why. What moves him, what’s meaningful for him.”
Similarly searching for purpose, Kate Bishop, former Young Avenger and the Marvel Universe’s other Hawkeye, will quickly fall in with her namesake.
“She’s his junior partner, his apprentice,” says Fraction. “It’s a very Avengers relationship—meaning Steed and Peel—and she’s as adrift as he is. What the hell are these two doing with their lives? Turns out, helping people is what they have to do to get through the night. In costume, in life, doesn’t matter. Good guys don’t punch a time card at 5:00.”
Aja plans to tweak his style a touch in order to best capture the two bow wielding searchers and match the book’s tone.
“I’m thinking lately I’m going more iconic, more cartoony. You know, less is more,” he explains.” Your style evolving is the perfect excuse when you are cutting corners.
It’ll be interesting to see how this changes the balance of power in the Avengers vs. X-Men war. Issues #9 and #10 should be shipping in August alongside these two series debuts,
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