Superman #37, Uncanny X-men #29, Daredevil #11 – Short Comic Review

While I’m on vacation for Christmas and New Year, I’ve put together a short round up of comics published this week. I’ll return to full reviews on January 10, 2015.

Superman #37

Ulysses visited Earth from another dimension several months ago, and has since teamed up with Superman to protect Metropolis. Recently, he broadcast a message: anyone on Earth is welcome to leave behind their problems and return with him to his home dimension. The price of a new start in a this Utopia is revealed here. Superman may not be able to save everyone.

The light blue energy that acts as Ulysses power source crackles accross the page: a bright lightening. There are themes here of over-population here, and the limited resources of both Earth and Ulysses home planet are discussed. There are large, light-filled scenes of “The Great World”, however the comic book presents a darker, violence fuelled storyline.

Uncanny X-men #29

Time travel is playing an increasingly larger role in Uncanny X-men. The issue begins with Time Travel, and ends with it. Considering that the current story arc concerns a powerful mutant with the ability to bend time, space, and matter at will, it makes sense that characters with the ability to time travel, namely Illyana Rasputin and Eva Bell, would use all abilities to stop the problems escalating.

Matthew Malloy’s abilities are the greatest of any mutant the X-men have encountered. Public opinion and SHIELD policy has grown increasinly anti-mutant, and pressure is placed on the X-men to contain Malloy. The other option is overwhelming military attack on the Uncanny X-men.

The scenes where Magneto weighs into the conversation between Cyclops and Malloy have detailed artwork, with great contrast in colour and ink. Later, when Eva Bell persuades the other Uncanny X-men that time travel is the only solution to the escalating problem.

Daredevil #11

Kirsten McDuffie and Daredevil take on a new case, and continue to write Matt Murdock’s memoir. Stunt Master was a character who sold his image and costume to a corporation. A new corporate-sponsored Stunt-Master uses everything at his disposal to create new and exciting publicity. Media strategies include borrowing Daredevil‘s tag-line “The Man Without Fear”, and even challenging Daredevil to an acrobatic challenge.

The first stunt-master, however, is unsatisfied with how his image was taken and used beyond the original contract he signed. The artwork for scenes where McDuffie, Murdock, and Smith discuss the case highlights Daredevil‘s sensory abilities to build character. George Smith has had a rough time. Sounds from the pins remaining after rehabilitative surgery to support his bones are audible to Daredevil. There are themes of dignity and resilience in this comic. A two page artwork where Daredevil stands his ground against Stunt-Master rushing at him on his bike stand out as excellent artwork.

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Avengers and X-men: Axis #1 – Comic Review

In an new Marvel event, a powerful new villain created from violence, and the frankenstein-like combination of Professor X and the Red Skull, begins a dark plan. This is chapter one of Axis. The comic book offers:

  • The opening of a large scale event, with many Marvel Universe characters.
  • Artwork of an immensely powerful villain, against a grim background.
  • Insight into Tony Stark’s character.
  • Hatred themes – how the emotion is used, and reactions to it.

The Marvel Universe unites in a grim setting against a giant, red colossus: Red Onslaught

Large scale events bring the disparate fragments, individuals, and teams from the Marvel universe. Medusa, Invisible Woman, the X-men, Two teams of Avengers, the Vision, Captain America. There are a vast selection of bright colours from the many costumes worn by Marvel’s Super heroes.

They charge into battle – a thunderstorm rages over the rustic wood huts constructed to hold mutant prisoners. A grim scene. Even during brighter scnenes, a gloomy haze seems to cover sources of light.

These Avengers, X-men, and individual heroes unite against a giant, red, horned colossus calling itself “The Red Onslaught”. Imperial purple and scarlet armor plates; black keratinous horns curved inward; black octopus tentacles sprouting from its back.

With telepathy, the creature unleashes hateful thoughts, and forces them upon Marvel’s heroes. Iron Man is its first target

This entity is more creature than human. It’s a giant, at least the height of small office building, and was created when the Red Skull attempted to fight Magneto, and was killed by the magnetic villain.

Red Onslaught tortures and torments. With telepathy, it forces everyone around the globe to think hateful and violent thoughts. Not simply unleashing repressed anger, envy, or other vicious thoughts bubbling below the surface, Red Onslaught has telepathic power enough to inserting hate into those without any. Conflict is manufactured: a real nightmare.

The first target: Tony Stark. Iron man once had the weaknesses of all the Avengers, X-men, and other Marvel Universe individuals saved in a register of super heroes – his initiative files. These were thought lost – his memories deleted like data on a corrupt hard drive.

No malicious thoughts are buried too deep for Red Onslaught. Stark’s anguish is clear when he comes to understand that he has been subtly influenced by the Red Skull for some time now.

Through the powers of Wanda Maximoff, and the setting, the comic references the historical use of hatred and propaganda in World War Two. Onslaught argues Iron Man’s anxiety comes from a hateful place.

Hatred is the theme of this comic book – while it is the first in a large scale event, the opening issue makes a strong impression with this theme. What people do with hatred, and what hatred causes play out in this issue.

Historically, hatred’s role in World War two is highlighted:  a concentration camp setting appears, referencing the Nazi party, and the propaganda that created hate. The Red Skull is a historical villain, and the roots of the character in World War two are clear in the concentration camp setting. Further, scenes where Scarlet Witch is coerced into manipulating reality into a “nazi nightmare” show more historical references. It’s nothing close to the House of M story line, but stands out as a significant moment nonetheless.

Red Onslaughts breaks down Iron Man’s fears and anxiety, mocking Stark. Iron Man’s catalog of weaknesses was compiled from Stark’s hatred of his friends, not fear or anxiety, according to the creature.

Avengers and X-men: Axis #1 is published by Marvel Comics. Rick Remender (W.) Adam Kubert (A.) Laura Martin and Matt Milla (C.) Chris Eliopoulos (L.) Cover artwork by Cheung and Ponsor.

All New X-men #29 – Comic Review

The battle between the future Brotherhood and X-men reaches a conclusion, but a large part of this comic puts together a discussion about good and evil. All New X-men #29 offers:

  • Artwork with great action, and strong colour
  • Good  moments for several main characters
  • A good and evil discussion: the comic raises ideas about the difference between good and evil

Force, movement, and lines of action are clearly visible from scenes with X-23, who slashes through the air. Bright purple and red colour dominate this comic.

One pivotal strike from X-23 shows off a powerful, downward line of action. Xavier can’t stand up to her assault. She cuts through the air with claws that leave trails. It’s easy to follow the action from panel to panel with these movements.

Psychic power explodes throughout this comic book. Xavier Jr.’s power is light blue, and icy. Jean Grey, in full flight, unleashes purple light. Pages of this comic are filled with it. When the light is not purple, it’s dark shades of red. This colour represents anger. In this case, It’s X-23’s rage. She was attacked and left in the snow. She’s angry. Raze, like Xavier, catches up with her in these scenes.

Emma Frost receives some development, while Cyclops leads the team, taking charge of the X-men’s ethical decisions. Deadpool also has some good moments.

Emma Frost has a scene with excellent dialogue. She talks to Jean Grey about the events of Battle of the Atom, specifically, about Xorn, and what happens to Grey if she continues to live her life in the present, never returning to the moment in the past she and the other X-men left.

Deadpool has a few hilarious moments. Iceman is less animated than he has been in previous issues.

Scott Summers also has a moment of good dialogue, and lays down a value for the X-men to follow. Cyclops leads the team, which impresses, considering his character has been running since the events of Avengers Vs X-Men. A moment towards the end of the issue references Avengers Vs X-Men. Summers recollects his actions under the power of the phoenix force.

The comic brings an interesting value discussion to light. It draws a line between good and evil – the X-men, and the Brotherhood – The X-men consistently state that there are lines they will not cross, which separate them from their enemies.

A large part of this comic puts together a discussion about good and evil. The comic’s values line up with big, broad statements about good and evil summarised by quotes from philosophers like Nietzsche:

“He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

When the psychic Stepford cuckoos confront Xavier alongside Jean Grey, they comment that Xavier is a reminder of what happens when they “let themselves slip”. Abuse of their talents leads to becoming like Xavier. Later, Molly Hayes tries to attack a defeated Raze. Beast tells her “Don’t be them”. Later, when facing the wounded Xavier, Scott Summers states “Today, your lesson is to be better than your enemies”.

When faced with a defeated Brotherhood, the X-men will not respond using their enemies methods. The comic has that value: a distinction between good and evil.

One popular culture references is a quote from the Angel. When asking Laura out on a date to a Bob Evans restaurant, Warren quotes a Superman movie saying “Well, I’ll do most of the flying”

All New X-men #29 is published by Marvel Comics. ($3.99 USD). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Stuart Immonen (A.) Wade Von Grawbadger (I.) Marte Gracia with Jason Keith (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover Artwork by Immonen, Grawbadger, and Gracia.

Battle of the Atom – Comics Review

Battle of the Atom #1: Chapter 1

All New X-men #16: Chapter 2

X-men #5: Chapter 3

Time travel in popular culture can be like playing a dangerous Jenga game. Pull out too many bricks from the foundation – the past – and the future might collapse.

In the latest X-men crossover comic book from Marvel, Battle of the Atom, the consequences of the X-men‘s experiments with time are close to catching up with them. Maybe Beast bringing his past self, along with younger Jean, Cyclops, Iceman, and Angel, to the present was not a great idea.

(This review includes some spoilers for Battle of the Atom parts 1, 2, and 3)

Battle of the Atom #1 is Published by Marvel Comics ($3.99). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger (A.) Marte Gracia (C.) VC’s Joe Caramagna (L.) Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald (Cover Artists.)

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Comics Review – Five Weapons #1 and Uncanny X-men #2

I read through the second issue of the new Uncanny X-men, and the first issue of a new, limited series: Five Weapons. Uncanny X-men ramps up the stakes after laying down a solid introduction in issue one.

Five Weapons gets off to a good start, despite its smug protagonist – a new student at a school for young assassins pledges to use only his mind to defeat his opponents. I’ll begin with Five Weapons.

Five Weapons #1 of 5

After reading this issue multiple times, I decided that The hero of the story, Tyler Shainline, walks a fine line between intelligent and smug.

He makes some excellent deductions about several characters psychology, including their weaknesses.

Weather it is wise to use this knowledge to relentlessly taunt his dangerous opponents remains to be seen. At times, he almost resembles a bully.

The compelling and mysterious Nurse, however, comments on Shainline: “I like him, He’s a funny one”. She sums up the core of his character, and the comic’s tone effectively – it is packed with humor and lighthearted jabs

What becomes clear after re-reading is that this comic cleverly points out the power of observation. Seeing Tyler Shainline making deductions and seeing through displays of power and intimidation is interesting, and a good idea for a story told in the visual, comic medium.

With the visuals in mid, The art is sharp, and fun details are worked into the story – such as the easter egg of Cloud Strife’s buster sword from Final Fantasy 7 appearing in the background, and the details of the students school uniforms: a big, red target is printed on their white shirts. If you can stand a smug winner, Five weapons has great ideas for readers from writer and illustrator Jimmie Robinson.

Five Weapons #1 (of 5) is published by Image Comics.

Uncanny X-Men #2

A key event took place at the conclusion of issue one, which would be a spoiler to discuss further, plays out in a small way in issue #2. The small act leads to a cliffhanger for the issue, which is also a spoiler, but shows that this series is building up a serious momentum, and keeping a good pace.

Brian Michal Bendis‘ assigns one particular character a viewpoint for this issue, and deeply examines their thoughts and emotions. Emma Frost acts as the viewpoint character for this issue. Both the writing, lettering, and art work together seamlessly as the issue opens.

Emma Frost is reeling from sheer silence. She was one of five mutants who received additional power from a mythical creature called the Phoenix Force. After she returned to normal, Emma, just like Scott Summers (Cyclops), found that her mutant powers where severely reduced.

After hearing the random thoughts and secrets of everyone around her with telepathy, Emma is now angry and brooding about being forced out of the ongoing train of thought around her. All she hears is silence.

Chris Baccalo’s art is stunning for these scenes. The frozen mountaintop that acts as a backdrop takes advantage of the vast, negative spaces and blank, white snow to convey a feeling of deep emptiness, and above all, of silence.

Emma’s predicament is played out through the art. In a rage, she slams her fists into the snow – it’s potentially a representation of her self directed anger. She says “I have no one to blame but myself”, and with a name like “Frost”, it makes sense she would strike the snow.

And then Scott Summers appears. We have been informed by another character that he is weakened, and unstable. We see him as well dressed, and confident, however, in a white shirt and tie. The characters development is thorough Uncanny X-men, and it’s likely that Scott is better at hiding his weaknesses than others, being the team leader.

Further, while the new students talk about what it means to be different from the mainstream, and what it means to be a mutant, it becomes clear, that Summers is talking about something completely different. He uses the word “Revolution” often.

It’s still somewhat unclear where he is going with this. Surely, with his stuttering and unreliable powers, and a group of new students to teach, there will not be time to carry out a revolution against the status quo – a world where ordinary people attack mutants, and mutants have no choice but to run and hide.

Summers wants to move toward clashes with other figures and groups in the Marvel universe, and that might be the result if he continues on this path.

Uncanny X-men #2 is published by Marvel Comics