Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EXTRA! EXTRA! (DEC 5-11, 2012)

All-New X-Men #3
(Bendis, Immonen)

After two issues spent building up the return of the original five X-Men, Brian Michael Bendis takes a detour with All-New X-Men #3 to focus on Cyclops and his posse on the run from the law. Scott wants to set up a new 'Xavier' School in the remnants of Weapon X, which at first sounds terrible, but the more you think about it, the more rational the idea becomes -- Cyclops is using a symbol for hate and violence towards mutants as the location for a new revolution. My biggest problem with All-New X-Men #3 is that BMB does not know how to write Emma Frost -- usually, the man can write dialogue for women, but Emma is not a normal woman and that requires a certain voice to shine through, which it does not here. I've enjoyed ANXM as a whole so far, though this issue left me wanting and somewhat worried for the state of Uncanny X-Men when Bendis relaunches it in March.

GRADE: 7/10

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #5 of 6

Before Watchmen: Minutemen continues to be not only the best title in the BW series, but also one of DC's best books currently being published--Darwyn Cooke's masterful blend of pop art and classic 1960s storytelling just makes sense for a group of heroes pretty much defined by those two elements. Minutemen #5 chronicles the quick descent of the team from a much-lauded crime fighting organization into a pale ghost of the glory they once had; things like Dollar Bill killing himself by mistake, and Mothman's alcoholism. In a last ditch effort to prove themselves to an ever-skeptical public, Cooke introduces Bluecoat and Scout, two comic book heroes in the flesh ready to help the Minutemen dismantle an actual atomic bomb. This vignette about Bluecoat and Scout is simply fantastic and a testament to Cooke's love for this series; instead of focusing on one, probably flimsy storyline (like, say, Comedian or Doctor Manhattan), he's treating this series as a textbook for the rise and fall of America's first superhero team.

GRADE: 9.5/10

Iron Man #3
(Gillen, Land)

Now I like it, now I don't, now I like it...that's how things have been going with me and Kieron Gillen's 'Marvel NOW!' volume of Iron Man--the first issue promised a fun, interesting variety of foes in Tony Stark's search for the Extremis bootlegs, while the second issue used that plot device to bring Gillen's weird neo-Arthurian dream to fruition before falling completely flat midway through. Iron Man #3, however, turns the tides once again in favor of Gillen and Greg Land as Tony goes after another Extremis owner in Colombia using his stealth suit of armor to infiltrate and retrieve the sample without being detected, albeit at the cost of more firepower. Gillen takes his time to explain why Tony is now using a variety of suits instead of the liquid metal armor capable of creating any weapon on any one of the separate models, and it's a fairly simple answer: something specialized works better than something adapting. The final pages are emotion-heavy, though Tony's dilemma may cause some readers to groan over the general trope of seeing the good being an evil deed.

GRADE: 7/10

Stormwatch #15
(Milligan, Conrad)

Harry Tanner betrayed Stormwatch and kidnapped one of it's best agents, all in an effort to gain more power and overthrow the Shadow Council that rules over Stormwatch and all of it's actions. Now, Tanner's returned (disguised as a Shadow Council member) to do just that and he's brainwashed the rest of the team into believing Midnighter is a mole plotting to destroy Stormwatch from the inside out. Peter Milligan's run on Stormwatch has been full of complex mythos, yet he can still write a damn good hissy fit between Apollo and his perceived heartbreaker, Midnighter. It feels like the climax of this arc is coming, as things couldn't get much worse for Midnighter, Stormwatch itself is on the brink of destruction, and Harry Tanner holds all the cards--this is a high-octane series that you really should be reading if you're not.

GRADE: 8/10

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