Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Comics!: The X-Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Generation Hope #10:  We get the first of two "Schism" tie-in issues here, with Gillen fleshing out the events surrounding Idie saving the X-Men in "X-Men:  Schism" #3.  Although I outline my issues with that issue down below, Gillen does a good job here of keeping the focus on Idie.  Although no one explicitly says it, it seems evident that Idie is forced to kill mainly due to her inability to control her powers more fully.  Laurie hints at that during her fight with Hope, who blames her for leaving behind Idie and putting her in that situation.  In response, Laurie notes that none of them are as good at being superheroes as they are when they're around Hope.  Gillen has been building this theme for a while, implying that Hope's influence (or control) over the Lights might mean that her powers go beyond power mimicry.  (Idie and Laurie have a conversation about how Hope looks like Rachel Summers, underlining the possibility that Hope is more connected to the Summers/Greys -- and the Phoenix Force -- than anyone knows, something the X-editors clearly have wanted us to believe since she came on the scene.)  As such, Gillen achieves the rare tie-in issue bifecta, developing the overall "Schism" story while at the same time furthering the story running through "Generation Hope."  It'll be interesting to see how both develop.  I'd be remiss if I also didn't note the poignancy of the exhibits in the Museum of Mutant History.  From the Sentinel's head to Rachel's interview, Gillen makes it all feel...real.  It's hard to put my finger on it exactly, but something about the way he presents it made me feel like I was actually in the museum.  All in all, another excellent outing for Mr. Gillen.

X-Factor #224:  Holy crap!  This issue was intense.  David barely even pauses to set up the story, throwing us straight into the action.  Even given the high bar David consistently sets, I'm still impressed by how well he did in this arc keeping all the moving pieces in order.  I didn't have to constantly refer to previous issues to remember what was happening, even though he was juggling several different groups acting independently of one another throughout the storyline.  All in all, this arc told a gripping story with some great moments.  (The image of Rahne's child, with his glowing eyes, standing over Agamemnon's body was awesome, both creepy and hilarious at the same time.)  In the end, Peter doesn't dismiss the child as a mere psychopath, though.  We see the shock on its face when Rahne rejects it, and we also see it crawling to Werewolf by Night in obvious need of attention.  It's clearly not the last we hear of him, or, in all likelihood, Agamemnon, who's clearly someone we know...we just don't know we know him.  All in all, a stellar arc and a nice recovery from the disappointing preceding JJJ, Jr. arc.

X-Men #16:  Woot!  This issue rocked.  I'm hard pressed to decide what I liked more.  First, Gischler is a dialogue genius.  The Thing/Wolverine banter is truly excellent.  (Thing:  "I guess that was more like a home run special.  For the dinosaur."  Wolverine:  "Never throw me again.")  I mean, you even have Cyclops/Magneto banter, which, honest to God, I thought was impossible to make sound authentic and not forced.  (Cyclops:  "You knew Lee, too.  No comment?"  Magneto:  "That's ancient history.  I'm a different person now.  Mostly.")  Last but certainly not least, in terms of examples of Gischler's knack for dialogue, you get a truly fantastic upset Emma.  ("This is exactly why I either destroyed, mind-wiped or killed all my exes.  They're nothing but trouble.")  In Gischler's hands, she's really becoming my favorite character, which is saying a lot, since she had always been my least favorite.

Second, Gischler manages to keep the plot coherent despite -- in fact, amazingly, because of -- the numerous characters involved.  By the end of the issue, he's juggling ten characters.  But, it gives him some moments to shine.  The Pixie/Thing/Wolverine team is more fun than I thought it could be.  You can feel Pixie's excitement at playing in the big leagues.  Dr. Doom is awesome as always, and I can't wait to see the trouble that the rest of the team -- Cyclops, Emma, Invisible Woman, and Magneto -- can find.  The idea that the distress signal that Lee Forrester sent was sent over three years ago just makes it all the more intriguing.

Finally, the art is spectacular.  Molina does an amazing job making the alternate dimension pop.  The two-page spread actually startled me it was so beautifully done, fully conveying the impact of the strange land, unlike most splash pages, which, to me, often feel gratuitous.  Plus, you've got Scott Summers looking hotter than he has, ever.  (See page 4 if you don't believe me.  Wow.)

As I said, this issue rocked, as I think (hope), this storyline will.  Gischler BRINGS it here.  I first thought the Dr. Doom/Magneto, FF/X-Men team-up gimmick was going to suck, but he really sells it.  After the disappointing finish to the Evolutionaries saga, it's nice to see Gischler re-charge here.  Hopefully, he'll be able to keep his attention on the story and not lose focus like he did with the Evolutionaries saga.  But, it's a hell of a start.  This issue is a contender for issue of the year, in my book.

X-Men:  Schism #3:  Huh.  This issue was a little odd, to be honest.  First, I'm not sure if I'm buying the kiddie Hellfire Club.  It's one thing for there to be one genius super-kid, but four seems a bit of a stretch.  However, more importantly, I don't know if I buy the Cyclops/Wolverine fight over Idie.  It almost seems like they're on the wrong side of the argument.  Both Aaron and Gillen have pushed this idea -- Aaron here and Gillen in "Generation Hope" #9 -- that Wolverine views what he does as something that children should not do.  I certainly agree, but I'm not entirely sure I buy it from Wolverine.  Plus, Cyclops is right:  Wolverine didn't get there in time, so should Idie just have let everyone -- including herself, more than likely -- die in the explosion?  Given that, in "Messiah Complex," we saw that Wolverine was willing to stake out even more of a lethal position than Cyclops (leading him to keep clandestinely running X-Force), this "Wolverine isn't down with killing" position seems odd.  I mean, if we're seeing a split between Cyclops and Wolverine, what position is he going to take?  How does his philosophy differ from Cyclops'?  Before this event, I assumed it was because Logan advocated taking a harder line than Scott -- since, you know, he pretty much has for the last 40 years -- but Aaron seems to be going the other way, which strikes me as a significant departure for both characters.  Why the change of heart?  This question isn't inconsequential, since it's the core reason why this whole event is relevant.  I don't know if Aaron's really laying the groundwork he needs to lay to sell it.

X-Men Legacy #254:  Similar to Rogue and her team, we don't have a lot of insight into the back story that frames this issue.  Rogue apparently knows the Shi'ar who "kidnap" her, but I'm not sure from where.  Havok and Polaris appear at the end, but appear to be on the wrong side of the fight, if you assume that the Shi'ar are on the right side.  I'm still making my way through the various "cosmic" event series ("War of Kings," etc.) that happened over the last few years, and I may have to track down "Emperor Vulcan" just so I can have a sense of how Havok and company found themselves in their current circumstances.  Without that background, though, I have to say that I found this issue to be confusing.  It's not Carey's fault, given that he's dealing with five years or so of storylines.  But, I have to say that Kieron Gillen did a better job giving us a sense of the issues surrounded the Breakworld saga when he introduced it into "Uncanny X-Men" than Carey does here with the Starjammers.  Hopefully, as Carey makes the story his own, it will improve.

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