Uncanny Avengers #22 – Comic Review

It’s the end: Kang the Conquerer concludes his long plot. Using the Uncanny Avengers, he has gained god-like powers from a dying Celestial.

Brought together in 2012, a new team of Avengers and X-men began working toward their goal: show unity and solidarity in the face of mutant discrimination.

The battle to stop the giant Kang begins now.

Uncanny Avengers #20 offers:

  • Fiery artwork, with colourful superheroes fighting across rubble coated streets
  • A battle between Havok and Kang at the core of the story
  • Themes of good vs evil, and the consequences of power
  • These themes are suitable for high school and college students investigating ethics in popular culture.

Orange blasts of energy and flames pervade the panels of this comic book. On a ruined city street, the Uncanny Avengers face Kangs assembled monsters from various, adandoned, damaged, or spent timelines.

Fire flares up and burns across this comic, much of it from the dying Celestial. Orange energy blasts flung from the hands of the mechanical Arno Stark take down Tony Stark in the opening panels. The art shows off the damage done by Kang’s assembled characters from across various damaged or spent timelines. A ruined city street is coated in rubble. The colourful Avengers fight off Kang’s monster collection.

Another great moment in the art: a new look for Sunfire, who dubs himself an atomic knight.

Kang might have absorbed the powers of a Celestial being, but his true power is the leverage he has taken over The Wasp and Havok. The villain has captured their daughter.

The key conflict pushes aside all the other characters except for Havok and Kang. The fight between this man – a husband and father – and a titanically arrogant time traveller makes up the centre of the comic book. The Uncanny Avengers are there, in the periphery, doing their best to hobble Kang’s now god-tier power.

Kang is powerful. A celestial died, and he absorbed the leftover energy pouring from its body. But that’s not his real power in this issue. At the heart of the story is Havok and Wasp’s daughter. Kang has effectively stolen her away from the new parents, and leverages her life to prevent Havok stopping him.

Considering Kang’s theft of the Apocalypse twins from their mother at the beginning of this long running story arc, the villain has built a plan on attacking children.

A theme of good vs evil, with a discussion of the consequences of absolute power, appear in this comic book finale.

A theme of good vs evil stems from Kang’s actions. He claims to be above definitions of good and evil: ” Concepts such as good and evil hold no value to a being of my prominence”.

Such an empty statement to make. Kang would leverage anything to gain a personal advantage. Kang chides Havok – who attempts to fight back, knowing that his daughter will be in danger if he assualts Kang – saying ” is this how a hero would behave?”

There’s no doubt Kang’s actions could be called evil. The value here is that using children is an evil act carried out by villains – arrogant men like Kang, who want power and control. The theme of good and evil here leads into a discussion of how power can blind characters from seeing the consequences of their actions. The Uncanny Avengers remind Kang of consequences here as the Avenger Earth story arc concludes.

A popular culture reference – more like a reference back to Marvel Comics own mythos – is the Sentry mentioning the “White Hot Room”, which is a higher dimension occupied by Celestials and the Phoenix Force. Coincidentally, an alternate reality version of the Vision appears in this comic empowered by the Phoenix force.

Uncanny Avengers #22 is published by Marvel comics ($3.99 USD). Rick Remender (W.) Daniel Acuna (A.)  VC’s Clayton Cowles (L.) Cover artwork by Daniel Acuna.

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Uncanny Avengers #20 – Comic Review

in 2012, a new team of Avengers and X-men began working together. Their goal: show unity and solidarity in the face of mutant discrimination. The new, Uncanny Avengers were overwhelmed by a new pair of villains called the “Apocalypse Twins”. The twins alarmingly caused the Earth’s complete destruction, and whisked away all the Earth’s mutants to a new Earth: Planet X. Wasp, Thor, Havok, Wolverine, and Sunfire survived the assault, and now plan to use time travel to save the Earth from it’s early destruction.

Uncanny Avengers #20 offers:

  • A vast array of colours, and a artwork of a sweeping, futuristic city
  • A diverse cast of  characters from alternate worlds
  • Themes of family conflict
  • Values: emotional control, and rationality
  • The comic is suitable for High School and College students studying themes of family conflict, and rationality under pressure.

Colourful backgrounds contrast with the varied costumes worn by the super heroes. Characters from a broad set of alternate realities sport a diverse set of colours across their outfits. A sweeping, futuristic city appears, and dissolves.

What is most visually striking in this comic book are the vibrant costumes. Characters from alternate realities gathered here sport red, black, blue, white, grey, and silver costumes. The effect strikes a bright note when contrasting colours are used for the backgrounds in fighting sequences.

The blue and silver costume of the new, Lady Avalanche stands out against a bright orange background.

While most of the comic artwork is bright and detailed, most of the scenes take place inside metal walled rooms. Later, however, a vista of futuristic buildings appear. The sky is bright white. Later, these buildings dissolve, and the effect is striking.

Fire effects also impress here. Sunfire unleashes reams of flame, while Kang the Conqueror summons a burning cloud of energy when he activates his time-traveling abilities.

There is a diverse cast here: May Parker is Spider-woman from another world. The Beast takes down the Blob, and the Summers brothers find common ground.

Other than showing off a diverse range of heroes from parallel worlds, the interaction between characters strengthens this comic book. Diversity brings conflict. It also allows unity.

The Summers brothers bond despite being separated by the circumstances: this version of Scott Summers is old and cynical. Alex Summers from the mainstream Earth has been fighting for years. He’s tired. The brothers still share a moment where they

An alternate Spider-Woman called May Parker has a strong character voice. Chirpy and charming at first, she shifts gear into a serious tone when she fires electric webbing over her foes. The Blob shows misogyny. And vanity. He lords himself over the X-men, and makes a point about the Wasp being a woman, rather than just being an Avenger. Dr. Hank McCoy, the beast, summarily stomps him into the floor.

It seems despite the time and place, the brotherhood of evil mutants will appear to challenge the X-men.

A theme of family conflict runs throughout the comic. It’s purpose is to build up emotion. The comic places value on controlling emotion. The value has greater impact if the consequence of losing control is higher disasters.

The key dramatic moments of the Uncanny Avengers #20 centre around families. Janet Van Dyne and Havok might lose their daughter if they wipe out this alternate future. Wolverine is confronted with his son, again. The Summers brothers reunite, again. Kang the Conqueror is faced with stopping his estranged, adopted daughter.

Why is this theme here?

Emotion.

family interactions – where more is at stake – point to emotional control and rationality under pressure. In this case, the pressure is extreme at the moment the heroes must place all their trust Kang. He promises to send them back in time to save the Earth. Sunfire’s trust problems boil-over when the pressure reaches its highest. Wolverine quickly stops him.

The message here is about emotions, rationality, and control under pressure. With their families under threat, the Uncanny Avengers face higher anger and fear. By having the Avengers overcome these emotions, value is placed in emotional control. Without control, there would  be disaster.

A popular culture reference is Psylocke and Kang combining their abilities to send the Uncanny Avengers back in time to prevent the Earth X future from occurring. The process is similar to Rachel Grey and Kitty Pride combining their abilities to time travel in the X-men: Days of Future Past story arc.

Uncanny Avengers #20 is published by Marvel comics ($3.99 USD). Rick Remender (W.) Daniel Acuna (A.)  VC’s Clayton Cowles (L.) Cover artwork by Daniel Acuna.

Gold Coast Supanova 2014 Cosplay Part 2

Below is part 2 of 2: a Supanova cosplay photo collection featuring skilful costumes from the Gold Coast 2014 festival.

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Comics Review – Uncanny Avengers #9

Uncanny Avengers #9

Wolverine walks through a cold forest – red blood on white snow. Apocalypse’s children, Uriel and Eimin, bring to life long dead characters as their master plan unfolds, but Captain America and Havok might have a way to stop them – if they can keep the Uncanny Avengers together.

Wolverine’s forest is a bad dream. Secrets kept by the X-force team are slowly working their way to the surface, and the dream is the first step in Wolverine’s past actions coming to light. Most of the comic book involves the Uncanny Avengers, separated, finding their way back to the mansion.

The villains of the comic book are dabbling in resurrection, and the destruction of the universe – there are some spectacularly creepy scenes where they use “Death Seeds” – items from the a villain called Apocalypse’s back story – on a troupe of mummies, who shamble from their graves as life returns to them.

Art

Commanding and stylish, the art is sprightly and powerful at the same time. Emphatic body language and a wide colour palette. The avengers costumes look incredible. Punchy, primary colours fill the panels: Rogue’s green, Scarlet Witch and Thor’s red, Sunfire and Wolverine’s yellow, and Captain America’s Blue.

Characters

There are several disagreements between key characters: Captain America berates Wolverine, and Wasp joins in – she won’t have her ethics compromised by having Wolverine stay on the team. This debate is about lethal force. Wolverine and Thor state that when at war, killing to protect innocents when there are no other options is acceptable. Despite having fought in World War II, Captain America unequivocally rejects their argument. This argument about lethal force is brought up as a distraction, however: it fits in with the non-violent themes of the comic, but the villains Eimin and Uriel are using it to divide Marvel’s Avengers.

Ethics and Values

Satyagraha describes Mahatma Ghandi’s theory and practice of non-violent resistance. He arrived at this theory after a experiencing racism in South Africa, which makes this non-violent ethic relevant to a comic book about overcoming minority discrimination.

Wonderman and Wolvering discuss briefly the benefits of Gandhi’s theory of non-violent resistance. Later Wonder Man preaches to Hydra agents about non violence. He quotes Martin Luther King Jr on non-violence of the spirit: “you not only refuse to shoot a man, you refuse to hate”.

I had a mixed reaction: yes, letting go of rage to find peace cannot be a bad thing, but what happens when the hydra agents run away and regroup? The comic delves into the value of non-violence, and the ongoing clash between violent and non-violent solutions.

Assimilation and Pride returns as Wasp, Wonderman, Sunfire, Rogue, and Scarlet Witch assay and critique Alex Summer’s controversial speech. Questions are raised: Should minorities be seen as people first without any separate features, or is this assimilation, and covert shame?

Rogue insists that Summer’s speech was about shame. Scarlet Witch argues its a way of thinking that evaluates people based on what they do, not how they are born. The debate raises questions about identity loss, and what is normal.

A bit more on Uncanny Avengers #9

Not knowing the back story of X-force, or the Apocalypse mythology from the past decade of X-men comic books, made most of this issue difficult to understand for readers entirely unfamiliar with Apocalypse and his family. What the villains are doing now made some sense though – the safety of the Earth, and the current timeline are at stake.

Uncanny Avengers #9 is published by Marvel Comics. Writer: Rick Remender. Artist: Daniel Acuna. Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos.

Comics Review – All New X-men #12

All New X-men #12: All New X-men VS. Uncanny Avengers

This issue of All New X-men represents about a year’s worth of work (12 issues, 1 per month). To celebrate this one year anniversary, Alex confronts the younger version of his brother, Scott Summers, who has time traveled to the present day. The cover art is misleading – this issue is more about the character’s inner thoughts and emotions.  It’s good to see the comic book progressing beyond snap-decisions and unchecked aggression.

Except for Jean Grey.

Jean’s accidental or deliberate misuse of her telepathy continues to land her in violence, which categorically ends with her shouting, and knocking over a crowd of super heroes with her telekinesis.

Rogue quips: “An out-of-control Jean Grey. It’s like a high school reunion”

What’s interesting about this outburst is Jean has read the mind of Wanda Maximoff – the Scarlet Witch.

Wanda’s anxiety is made plain: her memories of remodeling reality into the House of M world, and saying “No more mutants”are constantly on her mind. Jean says she was “screaming it out there, mentally”.

Again, it’s Kitty Pride to the rescue, with some help from Wolverine. as she tells the young x-men from the distant past that what happened was the X-men’s darkest hour, and they have just recovered from it. Wolverine and Beast talk a little about hypocrisy.

Wanda isn’t thinking on her efforts to restore mutation to the humanity during Marvel’s Avengers VS X-men event from 2012. We see she is ruminating on her past. Though shocking, bringing this to the surface might help Wanda realise that she needs to move on.

The Art

The artwork is splendid and glowing throughout the comic. As the shape-shifter Mystique continues her plans, there is another dazzling cameo.

The Uncanny Avengers and New X-men are in a field at night, and the lighting is ideal for the setting. it’s like the Avengers and X-men are in a theatre, and the lighting is selective, highlighting only parts of the stage. With the lights from the Avenger’s quinjet as the only source of illumination, it feels dramatic.

A bit more on All New X-men #12

While the comic is strong on character, and has excellent conversations and sharp, little comments between these characters, there is a sense that the comic has no momentum. It’s not clear what the X-men want, apart from Wolverine, who is the only driving force, taking a leadership role. The motivation stems from his desire to stop Mystique from continuing to steal. As the comic book enters it’s second year, a stronger sense of plot might emerge.

All New X-men #12 is published by Marvel Comics. Writer: Brian Michael Bendis. Penciler: Stuart Immonen. Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger. Colourist: Rain Beredo. Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit.

Comics Review – All New X-Men #11

All New X-Men #11

Contained in one issue of an X-men comic is: a titanic clash between Jean Grey and the psychic, Stepford sisters.

Magneto proving why he’s the master of magnetism.

And Mystique carrying out some clever corporate espionage against Stark Industries.

There are so many great moments here, but I thought the best by far was a conversation between Jean Grey, and Kitty Pride. On a basketball court at night, Kitty helps a distraught and isolated Jean, who is dealing with feeling like a teenage outcast because of her psychic powers. At the same time, she knows that she and her friends are out of time, having traveled from the past to the present day. The good order of space and time in the Marvel universe is resting on her shoulders.

It’s good to see Spider-man‘s mantra “With great power comes great responsibility” here, as Kitty teaches Jean how to be responsible rather than forcing others to do as she wishes when she dose not get her way.

The comic then jumps to the Blackbird – the X-men‘s distinctly dark stealth jet. The team are working together, and tracking down Mystique.

Speaking of the blue shapeshifter, last month she impersonated SHEILD officer Maria Hill. This month, it’s a familiar character from Stark Industries.

Mystique also has a friend named Mastermind, who has the power to enchant and trick by crafting detailed illusions, mesmerising anyone she chooses. Mastermind has been using her power to frame the X-men, making it appear they are responsible for Mystique‘s crime and espionage spree.

The Art

The epic clash between Jean and the sisters explodes with purple and white energy that brings the page to life with it’s glaring, powerful colours. Thor makes a cameo appearance, and whips up a wind tunnel that is grey, dark, and scary to look at as the Blackbird is tossed around in the tumult.

Fine detail is loaded deliberately into the characters faces. One close shot of Dr. Hank McCoy puzzling over the effects of his time travel on space time in the Marvel universe is dramatic, and interesting. I was left guessing what ideas could possibly be on his mind.

A bit more on All New X-Men #11

The consequences of Mastermind impersonating the X-men starts to unfold here. Thor‘s appearance and subsequent assault is connected. I thought there was some humour in the Uncanny Avengers attacking the X-men without checking first if they had actually committed any crimes. It’s a good cliffhanger to end on. All New X-men has a lot to offer, with it’s strong characters and story. This is definitely a book for X-men fans to take a look at.

All New X-men #11 is published by Marvel Comics. Writer: Brian Michael Bendis. Pencils: Stuart Immonen. Inks: Wade von Grawbadger. Colours: Marte Garcia. Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit.

Comics Review – Uncanny Avengers #2

Rick Remender combines the Uncanny X-Men and the Avengers in a comic that claims to make a long held ideal real: humans and mutants no longer at odds, allied and peaceful. At least that’s the plan.

Uncanny Avengers #2

The cover of this issue demands to be looked at, which is not too good since it is mostly a giant Red Skull face. The Red Skull’s face is disturbing at the best of times, and it looms over the viewer. I felt like I wanted to start reading immediately to escape the image.  In addition to John Cassaday and Laura Martin’s cover art, This comic has some powerful and moving moments. Thor making a pledge to defend mutants, and improve damaged and hostile relations between mutants and people, for example, was one of these. Nothing inspires confidence like the god of thunder supporting a cause.

On the other hand, the red Skull has some powerful new weapons in his eternal war with Captain America. He has his own class of “gifted humans” – an inversion of Charles Xavier’s class of mutants. There are more inversions: Steve Rodgers has employed Havok – Alex Summers – as the face of his new team that aims to demonstrate humans and mutants working together. Red Skull has recruited a mutant called “Honest John, the Living Propaganda” to transmit anti-mutant videos across America. Like the rest of his peers, Honest John has a long codename, and a complicated power set: his appearance changes depending on what persona is most persuasive to the person he is talking to.

Remender has created an original and weird group of young villains. Honest John’s peers are, in no particular order:

  • Mzee the turtle man
  • Tsar Sultan
  • Dancing Water
  • The Goat Faced Girl

And there are a few others yet to name themselves. I will summarise their powers in a future blog.

Comparing Captain America and Red Skull’s plans, it comes down to brutal, violent propaganda versus strong leadership, and community contact. Havok has demonstrated both of these qualities. Another X-factor in this case, however, is the Scarlet Witch. She was recently captured by the Red Skull, and using a recently acquired ability, Red Skull is persuading the Scarlet Witch to do something unthinkable: once again, erase the world’s mutant population. With this threat introduced, and a real cliffhanger, the plot of this comic is getting that unmistakable, I-want-to-read-the-next-issue-now feeling.

Uncanny Avengers #2 is published by Marvel Comics.