Tag Archives: beast

Review: Uncanny X-Force #25 – Final Execution Begins!

Uncanny X-Force #25
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Mike McKone, Dean White [Color Art]

The latest Uncanny X-Men story arc, “Final Execution,” kicks off with the team in a state of upheaval.

Psylocke, having processed the toll being on a mutant kill squad is taking on her psyche, is leaving the team after “satisfying her curiosity” with a one-night stand with Fantomex. Fantomex, on the other hand, is leaving because no more Warren [See last year’s epic “Dark Angel Saga”] means no more money–and he’s probably sulking over being spurned by Psylocke.

Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious figure at the Jean Grey School targeting Genesis, the reformed clone of Apocalypse, and Deadpool has gone down while on a mission–which is a big deal following Deadpool #54, where Wade [YOU SHOULD READ Deadpool #54 AND FIND OUT INSTEAD OF LETTING ME SPOIL IT].

Anyways, this all culminates in a sort-of return of a long-dead X-villain.

Overall, this is a great start to Rick Remender’s latest major X-Force story arc. With a title like “Final Execution,” there are a lot of inferences that can be made. The way things have developed with all the characters on the team, as well as the people around them, will surely only help to further speculation about what that title refers to.

Regardless, Rick Remender has crafted an excellent first part to this storyline with an art team that rivals the work on any other issues of the book, and the two back-up stories are a nice look at Remender’s earlier work with artist Jerome Opeña on stories starring Wolverine and Deadpool, respectively.

STORY: 9.5/10
ART: 9.5/10

Wolverine and the X-Men #9 – Cap Comes Calling

Wolverine and the X-Men #9
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Chris Bachalo [Penciler/Colorist]; Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, and Al Vey [Inkers]

As you’re probably aware (based on the banner on this issue’s cover), Wolverine and the X-Men #9 is an Avengers Vs. X-Men tie-in issue.  As such, it provides a micro-level look at the macro-level events taking place in the event’s main book.

This issue in particular takes place during the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men #1, detailing Captain America’s visit to the Jean Grey School for intel from Wolverine.

Having dealt with the Phoenix before–namely when it possessed Jean Grey and turned her into a force of destruction before she killed herself to stop it–it’s only natural that Beast would be monitoring deep space in the event that it returned.  Thus, we find out here that Beast and Wolverine were well aware of its impending return far before Steve Rogers came to tell them.

Jason Aaron also delves into the internal conflict going on with Logan, as well as that potentially brewing within the school, regarding the potential of going to war with Cyclops’ group of X-Men on Utopia.  Those X-Men, after all, are people that Wolverine and others in his school called family for years.  Unfortunately, they pretty much all–Cyclops especially–believe that Hope Summers is the “Mutant Messiah” and that the Phoenix possessing her will bring about a reawakening of the mutant species, which was mostly de-powered by the Scarlet Witch during “House of M.”

As Logan says to Captain America, “Think of Utopia as a compound full of heavily armed religious fanatics.  And you’re the feds butting in, telling them what to believe and how to live.  It won’t go well.”  Wolverine knows it’s going to come to blows and is wary about siding against the X-Men, and Captain America only convinces him to side with the Avengers by putting it in terms of saving the world.

Logan’s decision is shaky, at best.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Force’s approach lays out two telepaths with previous connections to it–Rachel Grey and Quentin Quire–and alarms the Shi’ar Emperor Gladiator, whose son, Kid Gladiator, is a student at Logan’s school.  Gladiator and the Shi’ar are also familiar with the destructive nature of the Phoenix, and while it remains to be seen if they’ll come into play in the main series, it’s only natural that they should show up in one of the X-book tie-ins.

Chris Bachalo’s art remains hit or miss for me.  While I enjoy it here for the most part, there are a few panels, such as the psychic disturbance with Grey and Quire on page 15, that were a little confusing at first, but made sense on second viewing.  My main art gripe here is that Rachel Grey is seen standing behind Wolverine in the faculty meeting near the end of the issue after being laid up in the school’s medical facility on the previous page.

Minor art gripes aside, Aaron does with this issue what any good tie-in should do–add depth to the main story.  By adding more detail to the events of the first round of AVX and throwing in additional plot threads that allow for a stand-alone story arc.

STORY:  9/10
ART:  7/10 

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 – Cyclops has lost his mind

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  John Romita Jr. [Pencils], Scott Hanna [Inks], Laura Martin [Colors]

[We’ve tried our best to be as spoiler-free as possible here, but nobody’s perfect.  Read at your own risk.]

Defying Captain America’s request to take Hope Summers into custody last issue, Cyclops fired the first shot in the X-Men’s war on the Avengers against the Star-Spangled Hero himself.

As the Avengers take Utopia’s beach, Emma Frost moves Hope inside–assuming the girl, with more questions than answers regarding the Phoenix and what its return means regarding her, will stay put.  In short order, the most epic battle in comics since the end of 2008’s Secret Invasion or 2006’s Civil War commences.

Jason Aaron sets up several of the fights to take place in the accompanying Avengers Vs. X-Men: Versus mini-series beginning next week, with several moments in this issue hinting at the outcomes of those fights.  He brings Quicksilver into the fray, revealing where the son of Magneto stands in the fight (HINT:  There isn’t going to be a reunion of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants anytime soon), and teases the entrance of Magneto’s daughter, the Scarlet Witch, with no hint of who she’ll side with.

The highlight of this issue is arguably Aaron’s insights into the match-ups, like calling Emma Frost’s organic diamond form punching Tony Stark’s multi-billion dollar armor the “most expensive punch in history,” playing up the marital dramatics in a fight between Storm and the Black Panther, or pointing out that Wolverine is fighting against an island of characters he once called family.

This initial battle is all for naught, but it does skirt on the idea that Cyclops might potentially become a villain.  Much of what he says in this issue sounds like things reformed X-Men über-villain Magneto would say, and he does have his own Juggernaut now in Colossus.  With 10 issues to go, the only things that are certain are that several characters are bound to switch sides, Civil War-style, (Hell, it’s even teased in the Cap vs. Wolverine cover for AVX #3) and that things will spiral further out of control.

At this point, my biggest hope (aside from wanting a Cyclops villain turn) is that we at least get a Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 video game out of this in a year or two.

– Roger Riddell

Follow me on Twitter @RRiddell3 

Mike DeVivo’s take forthcoming

Alright Roger Ive Assembled here!

So, two issues into Avengers Vs. X-Men and I can say I’m underwhelmed. What I thought was largely going to be a collaborative effort in bringing two different teams and their vantage points to light has thus far turned into “Cyclops is crazy and the Avengers aren’t.” I don’t buy the angle that Cyclops is losing his mind, or that he’s taking things too far. It paints every X-Man and woman as blind sheep fighting for the cause of a crazy man. Maybe I’m rooting for the little guys, in which case i feel the X-Men are warranted to protect one of their own. The characterization feels off, especially with Cyclops and Wolverine. Again, maybe it’s because I’m in Cyclops’ camp here, but I can’t help but feel like this story feels off.

I do love John Romita Jr.’s work in this series so far. His facial work with females has improved very much. His pencils give all of the energy and intensity you’d expect between a battle of the two most recognizable factions in Marvel.  Aaron’s script does provide great narration as Avengers and X-Men beat the hell out of each other. Also, kudos for him creating the Magnetic Fastball Special. Those moments are what I’ve enjoyed about this series so far. He also gave Emma the best line in this issue reflecting the tone I think most X-Men have towards their Avenger counterparts. After Iron Man refers to Hope as “the girl,” Emma responds by telling him that the girl’s name is Hope and that they never requested help in the first place.

We get quick glimpses of Quicksilver and Wanda ,with Quicksilver rushing to join his Avengers team and Wanda walking away from her journal not joining the fight just yet. The journal by the way is called “Wanda’s Dream Journal” (slap forehead with hand) there are more than a few of these moments in this issue that make you cringe. As I said in my opinion this book hasn’t delivered the goods just yet with the story. It’s a pain to see characters like Quicksilver, who was actually  insane (anyone remember House of M?), fighting along side Avenger’s while Cyclops is characterized as a mad man losing touch with his reality.

I’m hoping next issue improves a bit and makes the reason for this fight a bit less one-sided. With the cover to issue #3 showing Cap fighting Wolverine, it will be interesting to see why he defends the X-Men after dropping down and beating up the same students he defended during Schism.  As I said, as a fight book this is fun. As an event that is supposed to change Marvel’s landscape for the next year…not so much.

– Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots


 

Review: Venom #15 – Flash Thompson, Secret Avenger

Venom #15
Writer:  Rick Remender
Art:  Lan Medina [Pencils], Nelson Decastro with Terry Pallot [Inks], Andres Mossa [Colors]

After saving Las Vegas from Blackheart, Venom is pardoned and made a member of the Secret Avengers by Captain America.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Flash Thompson gets to keep the symbiote 24/7.  Hank Pym and Beast have worked out a sedative to keep the creature from permanently bonding to Flash when he’s using it for official Avengers business.  If he needs the symbiote at a moment’s notice (like if Jack O’Lantern or one of the other enemies he’s picked up in the last 14 issues comes calling), he simply has to dial a number and the suit will be shrunken down into Pym particles and broadcast from the Secret Avengers’ space station through his earpiece.

Seems simple enough, right?  It’s comic technology.  Don’t think too hard about it.

Once Flash is finally teleported back to his apartment, he arrives to Peter Parker knocking on his door.  Pete, a longtime friend of Flash’s recently-dumped girlfriend, Betty Brant, wants to know what’s going on with him.  The two go out for coffee and Flash is ready to tell Peter everything when he’s interrupted by a call from his sister and mother–two more people he’s neglected.

With this issue establishing that his home life is in tatters, Flash appears seemingly ready to bury himself in his newfound role as a Secret Avenger.

Meanwhile, Eddie Brock, the Venom symbiote’s former host, is hunting symbiotes.  As the book opens, we see him taking out Hybrid, and we later see him kill Scream.   This plot thread started shortly after Brock gave up the Anti-Venom symbiote to help cure New York City during “Spider-Island” and I’m excited to see how it plays out.

There’s one continuity issue here, however, as the Hybrid symbiote has also appeared recently in Zeb Wells’ Carnage U.S.A. mini-series, no longer bonded to Scott Washington, but separated into four symbiotes for use by a special ops team.  Of course, that story takes place after Venom becomes a Secret Avenger (despite being only one issue away from finishing), so it’s possible that perhaps Eddie Brock’s “killing” of the symbiotes themselves doesn’t really work and the government is still able to somehow get their hands on the Hybrid symbiote.  Maybe this will all be explained eventually.

This book’s last story arc, “Circle of Four,” didn’t really do much for me on the first read through (I really need to read it again in one sitting), but Rick Remender followed it with what might be my favorite issue of this series so far.  Remender sets up Venom’s status quo as a Secret Avenger, explains how Flash will use the suit if he is in an emergency situation, and plants a plot thread regarding what could happen if use of the symbiote is abused.  He sets up some romantic tension between Flash and Valkyrie, teases the question of how Spider-Man will react to Venom being an Avenger if he finds out, hints at Flash potentially telling Peter (who he doesn’t know is Spider-Man) anyways, and sets up a future conflict with Eddie Brock.  Plus, he keeps a certain amount of turmoil in Flash’s home life for the time being.

The art on this issue is also great, with Lan Medina packing in an extraordinary amount of detail in everything from facial expressions to backgrounds.

In short, Venom is still one of Marvel’s best kept secrets.

STORY:  9/10
ART:  9/10 

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #8 – Sabretooth joins the Hellfire Club

Wolverine and the X-Men #8
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Chris Bachalo [Pencils & Colors], Tim Townsend [Inker]

Fresh off of his return from the dead in Wolverine’s solo book, Sabretooth joins up with the new Hellfire Club to help them take out the heart of the Jean Grey School–Beast.

During his attempt to con an intergalactic casino out of space money that is somehow good on Earth, Wolverine’s unbreakable adamantium legs were broken.  Beast, the school’s resident scientist and doctor, puts forth the theory that the casino’s guards were able to do this with a matter transmutation ray to weaken the adamantium, which re-hardened shortly after.

Basically, Beast needs to use the same type of ray to surgically repair Wolverine’s legs.  Only problem?  Beast’s matter transmutation ray seems to have gone missing, and they are outlawed around the globe.

Of course, dating the director of S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) has its advantages, so Beast sets out to the department’s space station in Earth’s orbit to hit up Abigail Brand for the device.  When he gets to the space station, however, he finds that Sabretooth has already arrived and taken out S.W.O.R.D. on his own.

Meanwhile, Angel (who still doesn’t remember who he is and thinks he’s a real angel) sets off with the school’s students to the casino where Wolverine’s legs were broken to recover the matter transmutation ray there.  How he knew about this, I have no clue–but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The story here jumps around a bit, and it’s often fairly confusing–especially with Chris Bachalo’s artwork.  Bachalo’s work tends to be fast-paced and frenetic, and I’ve really enjoyed it on a lot of stories.  Unfortunately, it made it a little difficult to tell what was going on here–especially in some of the more monochromatic panels.  This could possibly all be a problem on the scripting level.  The story does tend to jump around a lot, and we never really get details for how Angel knew about the matter transmutation ray.  On the other hand, I also considered that maybe my book was missing pages (that did happen to me with a recent issue of Secret Avengers and I’ve been paranoid ever since).

On the other hand, this story does a good job of setting up a relationship between Angel and Genesis (the clone of Apocalypse), who agree to help each other figure out who they really are.  It also shows a more vicious side of Beast than we usually get to see and does more to establish the Hellfire Club (what do those kids not have their hands in?).

This isn’t a perfect issue, but it’s still fun if you can avoid the aforementioned confusion.  Now to go find out if my copy is missing pages…

STORY:  6.5/10
ART:  6.5/10

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #7 – Lessons in “Extreme Zoology”

Wolverine and the X-Men #7
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Nick Bradshaw [Pencils]; Walden Wong, Norman Lee, and Nick Bradshaw [Inks]; Justin Ponsor [Colorist]

With half the school’s faculty and several student inside of Kitty Pryde trying to fight off her Brood infestation, Broo (the school’s intellectual Broodling) is left to fend off the school’s mysterious invader alone while Wolverine and Quentin Quire are in outer space trying to scam an intergalactic casino to fund the Jean Grey School.

About that mysterious invader–we finally get an explanation as to who he is. As opposed to being an intergalactic “bounty killer,” it turns out his name is Professor Xanto Starblood and he’s an “extreme zoologist” and head of the Intergalactic Anthropology Department at the University of Rigel-13. (Oy, cosmic Marvel makes my head hurt.)

Anyhow, Starblood came to the school to kill Broo, who he sees as an evolutionary misstep from the rest of the Brood–a race of savage, blood-thirsty aliens.

Meanwhile, Wolverine and Quentin Quire fight off security at the casino and Quire figures out that his telepathic powers extend to him being able to form weapons from psychic energy, not unlike Psylocke.  It’s a nice little addition to the character, who it seems is being fleshed out to the point that his antagonistic relationship with Wolverine is beginning to become not unlike the one that existed between Wolverine and Professor X.

Anyhow, all of the arc’s plot threads are tied up in this issue, with Broo overcoming his problem via a momentary display of animalistic rage and Wolverine and Quire escaping the casino–without their intergalactic winnings. I was wondering how space money would work on Earth, anyways, but Krakoa ends up having a convenient enough solution for the school’s money troubles in the end. He’s a living mass of Earth, after all.

It’s even hinted that the Bamfs (the little blue Nightcrawler-looking guys that have been running around the book) are actually some sort of gremlins, which explains something I’ve been wondering since the book launched late last year.

All in all, Jason Aaron delivers another solid issue that stays fun while piling on a ton of character development. Not only does he continue to evolve Quire’s character here, he also sets the stage for a Warbird-Iceman-Kitty Pryde love triangle (not to mention an awkward encounter the next time Iceman or Kitty run into Colossus).

The art here is a perfect match for the tone set by Aaron, as well, maintaining a cartoonish-but-realistic feel. I think I’ve said it before, but if another X-Men cartoon came along with this art style (and the type of writing on display here), I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

 

Review: Venom #14 – Remember the ’90s?

Venom #14
Writer: Rick Remender [Venom “Circle of Three”: Rick Remender, Jeff Parker, and Rob Williams]
Art: Tony Moore and Val Staples [Color Art]

Remember the slew of multi-issue stories back in the ’90s like “Maximum Carnage” and “Planet of the Symbiotes” that made good plots for video games, but were somewhat tiring as comics?

“Circle of Four” has kind of played out like that.

Don’t get me wrong, it has moments where it’s fun. Unfortunately, it suffers from too much of the ’90s ridiculousness that turned me away from comics for a few years when I was a kid.

Basically, over the course of Venom #13.1 through #13.4 and this week’s #14, Blackheart unleashed Hell upon Earth following a scheme that involved the Toxin symbiote (which was never really mentioned again after part one in Venom #13, but I think it became irrelevant to Blackheart’s plan at some point). Venom, Red Hulk, X-23, and the new Ghost Rider just happened to be in Las Vegas at the same time, and were thus forced into an unlikely team-up. They had to face their antitheses after looking in Blackheart’s magic mirror, and ultimately arrived at a scenario where the Red Hulk ended up becoming host to both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote.

That’s right… There was actually a Ghost Red Hulk Venom Rider involved in this story. On the ridiculousness scale, it’s up there with Carnage devouring millions of Earth-invading symbiotes and turning into the giant Mega-Carnage from “Planet of the Symbiotes.” On a side note, if the Venom symbiote is extremely susceptible to heat, how does it survive in Hell, let alone bond to a host possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance?

Look, I don’t mean to make this storyline sound terrible. It’s fun in certain aspects. It has the same appeal as a B-movie, making it kind of like the Planet Terror of Venom stories. The ’90s left a bad taste in my mouth when I was a kid (Damn you, “Maximum Carnage” and “Clone Saga!”), so maybe I’m just bitter.  I will say that the Tony Moore art in this issue made it a little more palatable.

Maybe it would have been better for me if instead of doing four “Point One” issues for Venom between #13 and #14, they did three of those issues as “Point One” books for Hulk, X-23, and Ghost Rider. It would at least have made the difference between the three writers’ styles easier to compensate for, as I’ve become somewhat accustomed to Rick Remender on this book.

Anyhow, that’s all beside the point. If you like your stories way over-the-top in the B-movie sense, definitely check this out.  Especially if you loved the ’90s and “Maximum Carnage.” This would have been a great plot for an arcade game starring Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and Ghost Rider.

STORY: 6.5/10
ART: 8/10 

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Review : Secret Avengers #23 Changes and heartbreak await for Hawkeye’s Team

Secret Avengers #23

Story By: Rick Remender

Art By: Gabriel Hardman

Review Score : 8/10

After the big reveal of the Adaptoids last issue Remender focuses largely on ust a few characters this issue . The main story centers around Ant man who Hawkeye had shrunk and jump onto one of the Adaptoids last issue.  Remender uses Ant Man well here having him explain to himself and the reader that he hasn’t ever really felt comfortable being a “hero” mainly because at the start of his career he was anything but that.  It’s a nice character moment that gets touched on towards the end of the issue in truly heartbreaking fashion.

Back at base Hawkeye has been up questioning his choices and generally lashing out at every one of his team mates , including Captain America. Steve Rogers believes that adding Flash Thompson (The New Venom ) to the team would greatly help Hawkeyes chances of turning his current failed mission around. Hawkeye takes offense at the notion and takes the rest of the team to go after Ant Man.

Easily my favorite character now that Remender is writing the book is Beast. Remender fills Beast full of Witty comebacks and one liners in the beginning of this issue. While towards the end has Beast take charge and remind Hawkeye not only how lucky he is to be in the Team Leader of the group but also that if he continues acting over aggressive and barking orders that he may lose Beast in the process.

Gabriel Hardman’s art is really starting to grow on me . It may not be the most detailed art around, but he tells a very clean and concise story. Facial expressions are spot on and he does well in both the Action scenes and quieter moments in the book which Remender mixes perfectly together.

I wont spoil anything for you but the end of this issue is truly heartbreaking stuff. The scenes I refer to are all done very real and through the images as well as the dialogue coming out of the character you get a sense that he’s in the middle of a fight he’s not going to win. I’m sold on this book. Even though there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the Adaptoids , Remender has made them a clear threat. I love the Team put together in this book and Remender clearly has a voice in mind for each character . Hardman’s art doesn’t disappoint and when you put that together with Remenders storytelling Marvel has another Home run book on their hands.

Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots

 

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #6 – This casino’s more diverse than the Mos Eisley Cantina

Wolverine and the X-Men #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Nick Bradshaw [Pencils]; Walden Wong, Jay Leisten, Norman Lee & Cam Smith [Inks]; and Justin Ponsor & Matt Wilson [Colorists]

The Jean Grey School in financial trouble!  Kitty Pryde infested with millions of microscopic Brood!  That’s where Wolverine and the X-Men #5 left us, and where #6 picks up at.

In an attempt to solve the school’s financial troubles, Wolverine heads off to an intergalactic casino with genius mutant problem child Quentin Quire, a.k.a. Kid Omega.  The plan is to use Quentin Quire’s telepathic and telekinetic abilities to pull off an intergalactic casino con.  How space money works on Earth or why they didn’t just do this on an Earth casino, I’m not sure.  I do know, however, that this plot allowed Nick Bradshaw to draw the most diverse array of aliens in one place outside of the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars.

Regardless of where the casino is, the opportunity to put Wolverine and Quire in a one-on-one situation and continue to play Quire’s rebellious nature off of uber-badass authority figure Logan carries a ton of possibility for interesting situations, and Jason Aaron doesn’t waste the opportunity.  The payoff is great and keeps this the most “fun” of the X-books.

Meanwhile, Kitty’s situation becomes more dire as there are too many Brood inside of her for Beast and his team to handle.  To make matters worse, the S.W.O.R.D. Paramedic team is taken out by the mysterious alien guy from the previous issue.  Who this guy is remains a mystery, as well as why he keeps regular-sized Brood on a leash and what exactly he has to do with Kitty’s infestation, but he does have sinister intentions for Broo, the Jean Grey School’s Brood student.  (By the way, I’m still not sure how he ended up at the school.  He was just kind of there when the book started.  Anyone want to fill me in?)

Anyways, Aaron keeps this issue fast-paced and ends it with a couple of cliffhangers.  The highlight of the issue, at least for me, is hands-down integrating Krakoa in as a sort of external security system for the school. It would be easy to just ignore the living mass of land after the first story arc, but Aaron’s doing a good job of giving everyone face time when it makes sense to.  On a final note, I’m not sure why this issue had four inkers and two colorists, but the important thing is that I couldn’t tell otherwise when reading it.

Go ahead and pick this one up, along with issue #5 so you’re not just jumping into the middle of the story.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #679.1 – Thankfully, Morbius doesn’t sparkle in sunlight yet

Amazing Spider-Man #679.1
Writers: Dan Slott and Chris Yost
Art: Matthew Clark, Tom Palmer [Inks], and Rob Schwager [Color]

Hot on the heels of Spider-Man’s team-up with his Horizon Labs coworker Grady Scraps, Dan Slott and Chris Yost join forces on Amazing Spider-Man #679.1 to team Pete up with another Horizon staffer–child genius Uatu Jackson.

For much of the past year, Slott has teased the identity of the scientist in Lab 6 at Horizon. Though he finally revealed the lab’s occupant to be Morbius (Spidey’s on-again, off-again vampire villain) during last year’s “Spider-Island,” the book’s cast were still in the dark.

It was only a matter of time until curiosity got the better of the other scientists, and Pete and Uatu set out to finally uncover the truth. One of the highlights of this issue are the list of suspects they put together for who the mystery scientist is. Among them:  Dr. Octopus, Beast, Dark Beast, The Lizard, Stephen Hawking, and Zombie Albert Einstein, who is present on the list because of Uatu’s obsession with horror movies.

Meanwhile, Morbius, who it turns out is an old college friend of Horizon Labs boss Max Modell, is experimenting with blood to create a cure for his condition. Naturally, this goes awry and brings about the return of his bloodlust (which I don’t seem to remember still being a problem for him in Marvel Zombies 3 & 4, but whatever…) and the not-quite-a-vampire has a brawl with Spider-Man that spills into Horizon’s cafeteria.

As with the rest of Slott’s run, the writing on this issue works on a number of levels and Yost’s experience with grittier, darker, and occasionally supernatural characters and stories (SEE: 2009’s X-Force “Necrosha” storyline) really adds to this a bit. Morbius’ underlying humanity is kept in focus throughout this issue, as is the lack of understanding among others that would cause Modell to keep Morbius’ presence in the facility a secret.

Furthermore, this issue carries on the longstanding tradition of Spider-Man books having a fleshed out supporting cast by giving us more insight into who Max Modell is as a person, and giving us a reason to care about Uatu Jackson (who I had almost forgotten about until now). Revealing that Jackson isn’t just a child genius, but is also obsessed with horror movies to the point that he has a lab full of monster-fighting gear is brilliant. After all, what else would a horror-obsessed child genius do in their free time with their own lab if given the chance?

Finally, in line with the idea behind Marvel’s “Point One” initiative, this book gives readers a good place to jump on, as it introduces one side of the current supporting cast and spins new threads that set up a future plot–one that will likely unfold this July if the reveal on the final page is any indication.

As for the art, this issue leaves little to be desired. It’s easy to follow, with the exception of maybe one or two panels, like the diagram of Horizon Labs on page 5.  However, the vibrance and amount of overall detail make it easy to overlook these instances.

This is another great jumping-on point for new readers, and essential reading for regulars.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 8.5/10

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Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #5 – Congratulations, Kitty! It’s a bouncing baby… Brood?!

Wolverine and the X-Men #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Nick Bradshaw [Pencils & Inks], Walden Wong [Inks], and Justin Ponsor [Colorist]

Somewhere between fending off an attack from the new Hellfire Club and doing some rebuilding after the emergence of the son of Krakoa beneath the school’s grounds, Wolverine used up all of his funds for the Jean Grey School.  To make matters worse, the ultra-rich brats that make up the aforementioned new Hellfire Club weaseled their way into Worthington Industries board of directors, taking control and having the company’s amnesiac billionaire CEO Warren Worthington (aka Angel) deemed mentally incompetent.

Simply put, Logan needs to find more money soon or his tenure as headmaster of the Jean Grey School is going to be short-lived.

To remedy this, he takes Quentin Quire (aka Kid Omega) to space to find more funding.  I guess space money is good on Earth in the Marvel Universe, as it seems like Wolverine could have just taken Quire to the home of someone like Warren Buffett and had him use his telepathy to secure funds.  We’ll see where this goes next issue, I suppose.

Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde’s sudden-onset, ready-to-burst pregnancy from last issue turns out not to be a pregnancy at all, but a Brood infestation.  Beast and the rest of the staff soon discover millions of microscopic Brood were released into the school’s ventilation system, genetically engineered with Kitty Pryde’s physiology in mind.  Basically, it’s an elaborate assassination attempt, the solution to which is foreshadowed earlier in the issue when Beast shrinks down his entire class with Pym particles to take them on a field trip inside the body of the school’s janitor, Toad.

This issue moves really fast, and Jason Aaron throws in a lot of comic relief with the action.  Among the best instances are Doop substituting in Kitty’s ‘Introduction to Religion’ course and the continued use of Toad in a slapstick role, lamenting his status as a janitor after spending years in Magneto’s “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.”

Nick Bradshaw’s are extremely detailed, with more going on in the background than a quick read would allow you to see, and Ponsor’s colors really make these panels jump off of the page.

If you’re looking for an X-book that’s a fun read and easy to jump onto at the moment, look no further.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

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Review: “X-Men Legacy #261” When an Exodus comes a knockin’

X-Men Legacy #261
Writer: Christopher Gage
Artist: David Baldeon and Jordi Tarragona

Rogue, Gambit and Frenzy have arrived at the Jean Grey Institute and they barely have time to unpack their bags before something big and bad comes knockin’ upon their door. In this case, as the cover depicts, the big bad is ex-Acolyte leader Exodus. Last we saw Exodus was  in issue #225: Charles Xavier had persuaded Exodus to drop his scheme to reign supreme over the mutant race and instead band together and fight the good fight.  Here, he returns for an admirable cause–to reunite both Cyclops’ and Wolverine’s teams once again, as everyone agrees in ‘strength in numbers’ and that ideal has more than proven itself warranted during the time spent on Utopia.

So, Exodus puts forth an Ultimatum: come with him back to Utopia, freely or, if necessary, by force. Of course, no one likes to be told what to do, especially our southern bell Rogue. Admirable cause aside, it was a terrible presentation, so battle erupts! But here in the Jean Grey Institute, all children must evacuate to safety as the X-Men control the situation. I do enjoy Cyclops’ mentality that all mutants are active X-Men combatants, as the situation is ever so dire, but THIS is a breath of fresh air! And the teachers at the institute make one hell of an X-Men Team.

Christopher Gage crams this issue with content, which is always highly appreciated. The issue kicks off with Rachel picking Rogue’s brain on the current status of her relationship with Magneto, who is currently residing with (as Rogue perfectly states) his “heir to his legacy,” Cyclops (scary thought). Rogue and Magneto’s relationship, I believe, is bound to fail, between long distance and/or Magneto eventually ripping the world asunder once again. Personally,  I’m rooting for them (and Magneto’s prolonged good streak), as I’m a huge fan of their iterations during the Age of Apocalypse.

Penciler, David Baldeon’s cartoon expressive style accompanies the book’s brother title, Wolverine and the X-Men, perfectly. Both have the cartoon detail that adds a youthful tone that works well for the attempt to make these kids seem vulnerable, though we know most are well seasoned soldiers. As Gage’s script demanded, Baldeon formed his pages to read fluently and not seem crammed. Along with the cartoon style comes over the top effects and colors, which poops off the pages; it’s quite a bit of fun. Beast sports his new uniform, only shown in preview art for the upcoming arc in the Secret Avengers, and it looks great as his old uniform was awkward fitting… almost as if it was crafted by Emma Frost.

This issue was fun and has brought Exodus back into the forefront. I only hope he brings battle to Magneto and then inevitably joins the X-Men, ’cause everyone’s invited! Hell, I predict Mr. Sinister will be an X-Man this time next year. Jumping back, I may add that I’m extremely glad that Rachel Grey has been added to the cast, her history brings a lot of possible story devices and she’s part of the Summers/Grey clan–gotta love em’ all. Kudos to Mark Brooks on a fantastic cover. The next issue’s cover of a battered Rogue tops it!

Story: 7
Art: 8

Also recommended this week:

Justice League #5It gets real! -Reviewed Here!
Angel & Faith #6There’s a horrifying mosquito demon on the loose…and that’s just scratching the surface.
Secret Avengers #21.1The prelude to the formation of Hawkeye’s new secret espionage team!

Follow me on Twitter @ddsuperbatnix

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #4, Two New Students Join the School

Wolverine and the X-Men #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Nick Bradshaw and Justin Ponsor [Colors]

One of the best things to come out of the X-Men’s “Regenesis” is a greater amount of cohesion between books in Wolverine’s corner of the Marvel Universe.  Wolverine, Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine and the X-Men all directly impact one another, and nowhere is that better evidenced than in Wolverine and the X-Men #4.

In the aftermath of Rick Remender’s “Dark Angel Saga” in Uncanny X-Force, Warren Worthington (aka Angel) had his mind wiped after he was “cured” of being Archangel/Apocalypse.  In that same story, Fantomex’s secret experiment — a clone produced from the DNA of the ultimate mutant villain Apocalypse, but nurtured by a loving-but-artificial family — was revealed.  Both Angel and the boy, Evan (aka Genesis), were both sent to the Jean Grey School.

Dealing with how the two fit in (or don’t) at the school — and how its headmaster, Wolverine, can also head an elite mutant covert ops squad by night — is the overall focus here.

The faculty meeting in the opening pages provides some of the wittiest dialogue I’ve ever read outside of a Spider-Man book, and “witty” and “Wolverine” are two things you typically wouldn’t expect to go together.  But Aaron makes it work, just like he makes the special guest lecture from Deathlok — the cyborg assassin from the future — work to hilarious effect, especially when paired with the quips from problem student Quentin Quire (aka Kid Omega).

Oh, and we finally learn what Wolverine is a professor of — English Lit.  Go ahead and imagine that class for a moment…

All isn’t fun and games, though, as Ice Man learns the truth about what happened to Warren (who now believes he is a real angel), Genesis suspects people at the school aren’t telling him something and Deathlok sees a grim possible future where Genesis still becomes Apocalypse.  Even other students notice that he kind of resembles Apocalypse, so that’s bound to be broken to the kid at some point.

New artist Nick Bradshaw handles the transition from Chris Bachalo well.  If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know I’m all about facial expressions and body language, and the art here does a lot with that to not only better sell the dialogue and action, but to tell you more about who the characters are, as well.

If you haven’t given the flagship book for “Team Wolverine” a chance yet, now is the time.

STORY: 9/10
ART:  9/10 

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Avengers Vs. X-Men: Round 1! Part 3: Vote Now!

To get the masses excited about upcoming story “Avengers Vs. X-Men” Marvel has been releasing images drawn by Marvel’s top artists; each portraying a one-on-one battle with one Avenger and one X-Man.

Here is the new slew of images recently released! Don’t forget to vote on who you think would win!

 Can Emma Frost shut down the Hulk with her telepathic powers before HULK SMASHES!

 

Is Beasts intellect and agility enough for the impenetrable skin of Luke Cage?

 

REMATCH!

 

A battle between a Devil and an Angel… no one wins here…

 

For the fate of Hope Summers… one team will prevail.

 

 

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #1

Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend 

The dust from the climactic showdown between Wolverine and Cyclops during Schism has settled.  Feeling that the young mutants among the X-Men needed a chance to be children and not warriors, Logan has returned to Westchester with Beast, Iceman, Kittie Pryde, Gambit, Rogue and Rachel Grey to start a new school in the place of the destroyed Xavier School.

Of course, he named it the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.  Who else would he name it after?

The first issue of the all-new, all-exciting Wolverine and the X-Men opens with Professor Xavier touring the newly rebuilt school, giving Logan his advice on being a headmaster and offering warnings on the ups and downs of being in charge of a school for teenage mutants.  Is that Doop in the background at the school’s front desk?  I know a few people who will be overjoyed that writer Jason Aaron found a way to bring him back.

The rest of the issue revolves around Logan and headmistress Kitty Pryde giving inspectors from the New York State Department of Education a tour of the facility, essentially serving as a primer on the book’s cast.  Various panels show Idie Okonkwo, Rockslide, and Anole in a psychic self-defense class with Rachel Grey, and Husk teaching “Introduction to Mutant Literature.”

Toad is shown as the school’s janitor, trying to tell Logan of some, ahem, structural issues with the school that Beast built.  Of course, it’s not a good time to point these things out considering the inspectors are there.

The inspection continues to spiral down until Iceman finally tells Logan that there’s a kid at the gate who wants to see him.  That kid turns out to be Kade Kilgore, the 12-year-old Black King of the new Hellfire Club who masterminded the events leading to the falling out between Scott and Logan.  Aaron establishes Kilgore and the Hellfire Club as this book’s first major villains in the following panels, as the pint-sized profligate promises to destroy all that Logan has built.

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with Bachalo’s work over the years, primarily about proportion and being able to discern what’s going on in some panels.  Why is the 12-year-old Kilgore the same height as Logan?  I know Logan’s supposed to be somewhat on the short side, but the same height as a 12-year-old?  Aside from that and not being quite sure what was going on in the last page of the issue, however, I really enjoyed the art.  It was up there with his “Shed” story arc from Amazing Spider-Man last year.

As a first issue, this issue covers all the bases a series début needs to.  Aaron plants a lot of seeds for future plotlines and introduces readers to the book’s major players in the least confusing manner possible (which is especially important in the character heavy X-books).  The diagram in the back-breaking down the Jean Grey School’s faculty and students is a nice touch, as well as the mock-up of a class list brochure.  Choir with Professor Doop?  Sign me up.

Story:  9/10
Art:  7/10 

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Review: Uncanny X-Men #544 “It’s the end of the X-Men as we know it, and I feel fine!”

Uncanny X-Men 544 Cover

Uncanny X-Men #544
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

This issue of Uncanny X-Men is one of many issues depicting the emotional anguish from the fallout of Schism. It also marks the ending of volume one for this series, which is always sad and rarely justified; especially with the fact that volume two is right around the corner: coming in November. Mr. Sinister takes a role in this issue as narrator, walking us through the events that caused the break between Cyclops and Wolverine. As this event is still very fresh in our minds, his part in this issue was a complete waste of space in a comic that should have fired on all cylinders as a tribute that was the past 48 years of X-Men history. Granted, there was a scene within showing Sinister being, “birthed”?, from a mechanical sphincter and yes, it’s hilarious looking! Sorry for that spoiler, but from here you can run wild imagining the context around such event!

But, when you judge only half an issue on its content, it seemed mildly worth it. This series’  just coming out of an epic event with Colossus becoming the Juggernaut as a sister story of Fear Itself, which I think may be the best concept coming out of said story. So congratulations there! I was ready to wind down from these “larger than life” events marvel continues to weave, so the content between Scott Summers and the few X-men they could fit in, was touching. Beast had to fly himself to Utopia to make one last personal jab at Cyclops, cause we hadn’t heard it enough from him. Beasts’ character has certainly taken a hit; since they turned him into a whiner, thank goodness for Iceman in this issue!

Writer, Kieron Gillen, really attempts to set the stage for volume two of Uncanny X-Men, cue Mr. Sinister. I think everybody’s  “Hype-O-Meter” is soaring surrounding X-Men titles, that the necessity to plant seeds in this issue truly wasn’t necessary and really hurt the underlying emotional turmoil that this “family” is breaking. Never the less, I’m extremely excited for volume two, because ever since Gillen has come on board with X-Men titles, he’s been producing great work. Generation Hope took a while to find its wings, but it’s certainly starting to pick-up.

Uncanny X-Men Sketch, By: Greg Land

Artist, Greg Land, does a good job this issue. I am a fan of Land, though I agree his anatomy of a woman is tweaked to appeal to the perv in all of us. But he conveys emotion very well and holds weight in this issue with scenes of Cyclops packing away old photos with not a word spoken. Also, i commend the way he pencils Cyclops overall. Over recent years, Scott Summers has been built up to be a  commander of a truly powerful army and you have to almost have a Steve Rogers confidence and appeal to pull such a feat off and Greg Land really paints that image of him well.

This issue is an unfortunate send off to such an influential run. Though this sure doesn’t dampen the excitement for upcoming volume two! I mean, have you seen the roster, this team is going to rule the world within Cyclops and Magnetos iron grip! X-fan’s it’s an exciting time,  so save your pennies!

Story: 6
Art: 8

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