James Hatton's Reviews

A RANT ON COMIC STABILITY – THE ‘X’ IN PARTICULAR
(As a note – if you don’t care about editorial blathering, please continue on until you start to see pretty pictures…)

Who am I?

I’m a comics reader. I inherited a collection of comics from a friend when I was eighteen and after reading God Loves, Man Kills – I was hooked. How could I not be? Mutants, hated and feared, Claremont a loved God of writing, the world was pretty bright.

Lately I’ve been just a jaded bastard about the entire affair. There are still books that I revere as the brightspots of my comic collecting month. It’s hard for me to imagine a book like Young Avengers or Runaways recieving anything lower than a B – yet the books that I held onto for so long, the X-Men franchise, continues to bother me more and more.

It’s not that I don’t love those wacky mutants – it’s that they can’t seem to hold under that same banner that they did when the biggest worry they had was that Xavier had captured Sabretooth, and Jubilee was under the eye of Bastian, and Stephen Seagle was writing Alpha Flight.

This is a fairly long tirade for the beginning of my reviews this week, but I came to realize that the only X-Book I truly loved this week is a little known, little loved New X-Men. The loss of mutantdom with the end of House of M should have been a fantastic way for old characters to come forth and shine, but all it has done is allow writers to cover the same things differently. The 198 doesn’t seem to exist in any other title than The 198, and Emma Frost, where my comicbook girlfriend, seems to be in more titles than Wolverine these days, and in each she is a different version than the one I got to love back in her days of Generation X or even during the infamous Hellfire days.

So – thanks for listening to me rant – I’ll do that on occasion – I just wish that the books I fell in love with a decade ago were still the ones I looked forward to…

Now onto my reviews.

198 #4 (of 5)
Writer: David Hine
Penciler: Jim Muniz
Inkers: Conrad & Glapion
Colorist: Avalon’s Matt Milla

Now 198 has been recieving from me subpar grades due to its lack of focus (much like my review of Son Of M later in this column. What is amazing is that now, one issue from end, this book has found focus and it seems to me that David Hine had it planned out all along, just as I had hoped.

All of the chess pieces he has laid out have now come together and what we are seeing is the final stand of Mr. M, his creation from District X. Good for him! I like ‘M’ and I hope that we see him around more often as he is a very neat character.

Now let me address one point that I want to make clear to everyone in the universe that bothers the hell out of me. I’ve been wrongfully calling a character who is in this book by the name of Erg, Callisto. HE looks amazingly like Callisto with HIS eye-patch and black hair and vest and et cetera. Well, it comes as a surprise to me that I have now finally learned that HIS name is Erg and HE is not the female Callisto that was in Son of M last month as I originally stated.

Kill them both. Get it over with.

FINAL RATING: B

American Virgin #2
Writer: Steven T Seagle
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Published by: Vertigo

Last month we were given a new venture from Vertigo called American Virgin where a devout christian and devout virgin spoke about how the rest of the world needs faith and hope and god and respect in themselves. At the end of that book it seemed like his girlfriend for life, Cassie has died.

It’s confirmed this issue.

What’s interesting is that we are watching as our main character, Adam is being pulled from all of these things that he started with. He started strong, and tall, and unshakable. He built all of this faith on this girl that he loved more than the world itself. Now that foundation has been ripped apart and we are watching the unraveling of everything.

So far this book is a fantastic showing of how much one can build on love, and what happens when it’s taken away. If that’s where the story ends up, I’ll be surprised, as this IS a Vertigo title, but from issue one where you sit there and roll your eyes at this faithful, unwaivering believing boy – and now you watch as he screamingly MUST go see a girl who is most presumably dead, you feel for him. Who hasn’t lost someone?

Loving this book.

FINAL RATING: A

Cable & Deadpool #27
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Lan Medina

In this issue we learn the continued reappearances of Apocalypse are someone’s fault, and it’s not Deadpool’s.

A book that is supposed to be a prequel to the storyline of Apocalypse which is going on currently in X-Men, I suppose they did it this way so when Cable appears in that title it’s not such a strange excuse. You end up knowing it all at once without much of a time lapse. Smart thinking.

All in all not the most fantastic of the issues, and it shoehorns a few things into continuity, but there have been far worse done. I just want to know where Mister Sinister is…

FINAL RATING: C

DMZ #6
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Riccardo Burchielli & Brian Wood

DMZ is interesting. In a world that is supposed to be the future instance of ours, given the state of the universe we live in, New York is not what it once was. Now with a reporter from the ‘civilized world’ living in this strange world that seems just as much a fantasy brought from movies like Mad Max – it seems quite realistic to what we might move towards in a worst of worst of entirely worst case of scenerios.

The problem I’m having it that it’s simply hard to follow. Generally speaking, I grab books like this in trade – as they read better that way. I read Y: The Last Man, Walking Dead, Fables, and other books that take at least a deeper sense and modicum of thought in trade, so I can examine and enjoy them as they are written – not as a serial book – but more as a weekly television show.
(Note: It’s the same way I prefer to watch shows like 24, and Veronica Mars)

So – I end up having questions that I feel like an idiot for asking. Am I supposed to remember Mr. Ferguson, as he appeared in issue one and we are now in issue six. Was the ‘civilized’ world always so friendly with Matt being out there? They seem to be quite nice nowadays? Or since this is the beginning of a new arc, am I to assume that enough time has passed where Matt is now an accepted part of the media world when it comes to working in this strange new world?

When I get the trade, I’ll let you know.

FINAL RATING: B

Exiles #79
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Rick Magyar

What I love about this book, is that I know squat about the Future Imperfect universe. I knew about the 2099 world, the Squad Supreme world, even a little bit about the New Universe, but I know NOTHING about the Maestro and all of that – and back to my original point, what I love about this title, is that I didn’t feel shoehorned in it. I’m sure there are little bits here and there that if I was a huge Hulk enthusiast I might have gotten a kick out of, but since I didn’t HAVE that knowledge, it didn’t pull me away from the story in the slightest.

Bedard once again keeps me locked onto the Exiles, and this storyline. I do think his last two pages got muddled somehow, as I have no idea what happened, but hey, they can’t all be perfect.

FINAL RATING: B

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #7
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inker: Victor Olazaba

The fight between Spidey and El Muerto with the ending you expect.

Oh, and Uncle Ben shows up.

I mean it.

No, I’m not kidding.

I hope Aunt May is finally getting senile, because if not.. I’ll be upset.

FINAL RATING: C

New X-Men #25
Writer: Craig Kyle & Chris Yost
Pencils: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco

I really think sometimes I should go and look at the reviews I’ve done in the past few months to get perspective to what I’ve thought about a book before. For example, this is what I wrote about New X-Men last month:

What Yost and Kyle really need to do is sit and focus hard. The last storyarc was interesting, but with the amount of characters they have running around, it ends up feeling a jumble of various characters stories with a few overwhelming plots.

And sitting and reading this issue, I just lost a lot of that. It all felt right. This arc is seemingly going to focus on Jay Guthrie’s work with Stryker, and the explosion of what was one of the more fun and happy go lucky characters in the beginnings of this book, Elixir. The intensity that Yost & Kyle write this character is so impressive, that the shocking middle of the book had me stop and reread the entire scene leading up to it.

Much moreso than the ending which was what was labeled as one ‘you can’t miss’. I think that was all bait and switch though so you don’t flip to the last page and go ‘Huh?’

This book has a lot of potential. I’ve said that for a long time. This issue proved it, oh and the fight scene with Colossus is fantastic too.. just as an aside.

FINAL RATING: A

Son Of M #5 (of 6)
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Roy Allan Martinez
Color Artist: Pete Pantazis
Cover: John Watson

What a strange trip this book has been. As we rear ourselves towards the final conclusion of the Inhumans meeting back up with Quicksilver (and hopefully some closure on the aged and creepy Quicksilver that we saw in the beginning), this book once again spins the story into another direction.

We are in Genosha, and Pietro has brought his daughter to try and convince another group of mutants that he can return their powers with the Terragenesis. What is confusing me about this story is that everybody seemed to get their original mutant powers back with the Terragen mists. Without getting too too too geeky here, if the mutant genome has been wiped away from these people, isn’t it a bit too convenient that their powers are almost exactly the same, if not for them becoming just unreliable and deadly?

Where this book started off with a very specific focus and a very strong concept, it’s now seemingly drifting away and the only thing that’s going to bring it back is the complete destruction of Quicksilver, which I know isn’t going to happen…

FINAL RATING: C

Ultimate Extinction #4 (of 5)
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Brandon Peterson
Colors: Justin Ponsor

I’m going to be honest. I’m having a hard time following this book. I don’t blame Warren Ellis entirely either. I blame myself.

If this was the only comic I was reading, I’m sure it would be fun. If it was the only book having ‘huge cataclysmic events’ going on, I might pay more attention.

When it comes out in trade, it’s going to be fantastic, just like its predecessor was. The only thing that kept me going page to page was the amazingly neat animatic art style of Brandon Peterson (though it occasionally gets overinked).

Oh, and the cover is too sexy for words – even though it, as always, has little to do with anything.

FINAL RATING: D
(When it comes out in trade – assumed final rating of ‘B’)

Uncanny X-Men #472
Writer: Chris Claremont
Dialogue: Tony Bedard
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Bachalo, Holdrege, Irwin, Mendoza,
Olazaba, Parsons, Townsend, and Vey
Colors: Studio F’s Antonio Fabela

Wow, I’m tired from writing the people who inked this damned book. Isn’t that hysterical, since the book is utter crap? Now let me be a bit more constructive with my criticism; Uncanny X-Men has had it’s shining moments in the Claremont re-era of the book, namely the ‘End of Grays‘ storyline. Everything else that I’ve read out of this time period of the book has been less than fantastic.

We get a beginning story that seems that it might be either an epilogue to the last story which involved Storm, or a prequel to what is going on in this three part story. Whichever it is, I’m not sure. Now back in the mansion, we get a story about Jamie Braddox (Psylocke’s brother) coming in out of nowhere and causing no end of mischief, including the reveal that it was he who restarted Psylocke’s life – an appearance by the Watcher because whatever is to come is going to be ‘HUGE’ and an inference to a race of people called the Forsaken.

All of this with a book that was obviously inked by eight people as some of them know how to make Bachalo good, others that make him look muddy and thick.

FINAL RATING: D

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