Look, we’ll stop making the joke when it stops being funny, alright?
Too serious about comics.
Look, we’ll stop making the joke when it stops being funny, alright?
This week: Reviews of Cable #23, Red Robin #9, Superman: World of New Krypton #12 and Wolverine: Weapon X! Read the rest of this entry »
This week: Capsule reviews of Cable #22, JSA All-Stars #2, The Mighty #12 and X-Factor: Nation X! Read the rest of this entry »
This week: Capsule reviews of The Brave & the Bold #30, Cable #21, Captain America Reborn #5, Dark Avengers #12 and X-Men Legacy #230! Read the rest of this entry »
This week, we’ve got capsule reviews of Amazing Spider-Man #602, Cable #17, Green Lantern Corps #39, Ms. Marvel #43 and X-Men Forever #5. One of these is also our most sarcastic review ever. Which one? You’ll have to read on to find out!
This week’s capsule reviews cover Cable #16, Justice League: Cry for Justice #1, Marvel Divas #1 and Uncanny X-Men #513
It’s been a few weeks since we checked in on the middle act of the X-Men’s Messiah trilogy, but events in the year 3000 haven’t moved on as far as hoped. Where initially X-Force’s quick thinking and rapid twists succeeded in energising the crossover, recent issues have seen Cable “winning” with a leaden pace and some clunky storytelling. All in all, it seems that a scenario which would have made for a compelling four-issue arc has suffered because of its extended duration. In this sixth chapter, the scuffles in the citadel continue, but the more pressing dilemmas for X-Force come from outside of the main fight, with two members’ old acquaintances threatening to derail their mission.
As you’ll have guessed from the précis here, there’s a significant amount of padding in this issue, with only the subplots really moved forward. The instalment both starts and closes with Style having the upper hand over the heroes he surveys, while the discovery of the nature of the temporal interference and the re-powering of En Saab Nur constitute around five pages of story. It just goes to show that a book doesn’t have to be priced at four dollars to leave its readers feeling short-changed. The revelation of Deadpool having been controlled by Stryfe has absolutely no impact, with the undead mercenary continuing to act at will throughout. Little niggles persist throughout. After Elixir’s strangely low-key restoration of Cable’s psi-powers in the previous issue of this book, Duane Swierczynski makes reference to use of this power to stop the spread of Cable’s techno-virus, a development that will irritate both causal readers and fanboys. Both parts of the audience will be puzzled as to how Cable was keeping the virus in check before Elixir restored his abilities, and for Askani’son fans that saw the character definitively purge the infection from his body in Cable & Deadpool, the lack of attention to detail is irksome.
Instead of any real plot development, we’re treated to another few pages of Cable versus Stryfe versus Wolverine versus Predator. There’s nothing wrong with a good fight, but we had this exact same tussle in X-Force a fortnight ago, and Ariel Olivetti’s static and overly posed imagery compares poorly with the dynamic and gripping work that Clayton Crain turned in during the previous chapter. Despite an impressive re-bulking of Apocalypse, Olivetti’s character likenesses have deteriorated from the star of the arc. There’s now little to distinguish between his Warpath and his X-23, while the moment of horror that should result from an eyeless Logan is instead rather comical, due to his deployment of black dots for eyes, Georges Jentry-style.
The main outcome of Messiah War seems to be to put the jewel in the X-line on hold for three months. Can I have X-Force back, please?
Craig Kyle and Chris Yost deliver their usual sterling work here, managing to imbue a distinctly dull setting with a sense of drama. An offensive by the ruling powers of New York 3000 A.D. has caught X-Force off-guard, but Cable & Deadpool are more than up to the challenge. In the process, however, Nathan Summers unexpectedly exposes his new weakness to his oldest enemy…
The writing team’s natural ability to handle a large cast comes to the fore here, with Kyle & Yost ensuring that every character receives their moment in the post-apocalyptic sun. The strongest moment of the issue is when the book’s themes are allowed to enter the alien setting, with the villain of the piece’s mockery of the new team as underpowered for the task they face capturing much of the fun of the book. There’s also a nice moment when X-Force’s trademark self-awareness enters the writing, with Nathan’s Dark Knight-inspired comment about not being the Cable that’s “wanted” being a clear reference to his present under-explored and depowered incarnation.
Having now pencilled three issues consecutively, Clayton Crain is starting to cut some corners in his work, with character faces blurring in long shot. The artist proves an astute judge of when he can get away with these tricks, however, and generally speaking the art is rich and detailed, with particularly good implementations of the guest characters. Crain’s Deadpool is a magnificent zombie figure, managing to genuinely look disturbing for the first time in years. While the artist’s Cable bears little resemblance to the figure who graces his regular book, the result is vastly superior, with a superb sense of dynamism during his brief face-off with Stryfe.
Messiah War is high-quality entertainment, but the fact that the plot is derived solely from the pages of Cable gives the impression that Kyle and Yost have been briefly parachuted in to advance that book’s scenario in a way that its writer has failed to do. Allowing this writing team to tackle other figures in the X-canon is probably a fair trade-off for effectively placing X-Force on hold for three months, but it’s already clear which book the consequences of this story will be played out in.
Although playing the regressed Cable off against the new X-Force is an obvious move, the concept of a full crossover still seems an odd idea, with Kyle & Yost’s fast paced drama an uncomfortable fit for Duane Swierczynski’s meandering solo book. Judging by this issue of Cable, the approach taken seems to have been the obvious one, with Swierczynski providing a calm stocktaking after the other authors have established the setting. The guest stars are largely used as plot devices here, keeping the focus on the regular characters. Deadpool’s appearance is used as a source of flashbacks establishing the ground rules, while the short sequence featuring the villains confirms that at this point in the story, Stryfe is simply a gun for Bishop to aim at Cable. The issue largely serves to cement the story before its three-week hiatus, tidying up a number of aspects.
The problem in the story comes from weakness of characterisation. It’s possible that Cable has hidden reasons for not wanting to return Hope to the present day, but there’s no hint of them in the writing, and he simply comes across as being irrational for the sake of the plot. While the relationship between Cable and Deadpool is initially spot on, Nathan’s later insistence that Wade be executed is rather odd. After co-staring in their previous book for forty issues, both men developed an understanding of each other’s worth. The book’s other legacy problem also persists into this crossover, in the form of Ariel Olivetti’s curiously static art. As usual, Olivetti’s characters appear to come from a planet where the gravity is significantly stronger than on Earth, with the contrast of Mike Choi’s beautiful work in the first instalment accentuating the problem.
You can’t fault Swierczynski’s setting of mood, but you can fault his priorities. This is the writer who has just devoted a three-issue spin-off to establishing the motivation of his villain, while leaving the title character almost entirely one-dimensional. Here, he devotes five pages to explaining how Deadpool came to be alive in the 3000 A.D. setting, while leaving readers who haven’t knowledge of a four-year-old limited series none the wiser on the reasons for X23′s attitude to Hope. Part Two of the story succeeds in flashing out the situation, but there’s surprisingly little forward movement.
to die for divx Messiah War is the sequel to Messiah Complex, the 2007 story that re-energised the entire X-franchise and managed to turn it back into a coherent entity. Chris Yost and Craig Kyle, whose superlative and self-aware work on X-Force has proved a massively enjoyable book, have masterminded it. And it places Cable, one of the more textured and interesting X-Men, at the forefront of the story. So why do I feel underwhelmed?
The answer is the quirk known as the “Twenty Years Rule”. This arises due to the fact that it takes twenty years from reading a comic and being inspired by it to rise to a position in the industry from which you can write your own riff on those concepts. Twenty years after Chris Claremont killed off Jean Grey, Grant Morrison constructed a 40-issue arc in which he did exactly the same thing. Twenty years after Frank Miller reduced the light-hearted side of Batman to a throwaway addition, Chris Nolan gave us Batman Begins. And about twenty years after Steve Parkhouse and co used the pages of Doctor Who Magazine to throw the fifth Doctor into a stream of mind-bending adventures, Alan Barnes took the character back to Stockbridge. And what’s happened now? The clue lies in the return of Nathan Summers’ shoulder pads. Twenty years after Cable was introduced as being locked in a bitter conflict with Stryfe, his clone has been dusted off to resume his position as the character’s nemesis. Just as Mike Carey’s decision to work Sinister into the fabric of X-Men Legacy was a stretch too far for that book, so the return of the one dimensional “Chaos Bringer” threatens to overwhelm this title.
It’s a monumentally uninspiring development. While Kyle and Yost have created something wonderful out of the disparate stands of history that X-Force has woven together, this early nineties dynamic has little appeal so far other than nostalgia. Mike Choi continues his strong work from recent issues of X-Force, although his Bishop looks a little too youthful. This is off-set, however, by the attention that the artist pays to the difference in age that has now emerged between Nathan and Stryfe, with the former now considerably older due to the time he has spent looking after Hope. Kyle and Yost are obviously still firing on all cylinders here, with a magnificent one-line gag about Warpath’s Warren Ellis-granted flight ability and Deadpool receiving some of the best jokes he’s had since Gail Simmone was writing the character. As a stand-alone issue, it’s a solid effort, with the previously trailed elements of the story all introduced with speed, to allow new material to take centre stage from this point onwards. It’s perfectly possible that the writers have a new concept lurking in the wings, ready to work the same alchemy on Stryfe that they bestowed on the Leper Queen earlier this month. But in seeking to revive what’s unquestionably the X-Men’s dullest villain, they’ve set themselves a very difficult task.