Archive for August, 2010

Omega the Unknown #2

August 31, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
May 1976
****
Omega shows bicentennial NY as it was: bums, burglars, & egg creams, cockroaches in your 4th-floor walkup & crap in your vestibule! The young protag has an uncanny mental connection w/ the mute superhero, which causes trouble for everyone when Bruce Banner gets rolled by punks in Hell’s Kitchen.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #1]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #3]

Omega the Unknown #1

August 30, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
March 1976
****
In a word, unique. Purple prose, urban alienation, budding puberty, & omega-shaped stigmata constitute this bizarre fusion of ’70s Marvel & underground comix. A preternatural kid survives a car wreck that kills his robot parents; a red-caped superhero, last of his kind, escapes his doomed planet.
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #2]

X-Factor Annual #8

August 29, 2010

Peter David // Terry Shoemaker
July 1993
A-story: **
A damp coda to David’s X-Factor run (whose potential was undercut by unreliable art & editorial interference), introducing & then dispatching a new foe. Despite the space devoted to his backstory, he’s woefully generic: a mage who collects mutant souls for a demon.
[continued from X-Factor #89]
[last issue: X-Factor Annual #7]
[next issue: X-Factor Annual #9]

X-Factor #89

August 28, 2010

Peter David // Joe Quesada
April 1993
A-story: **** // B-story: ***
Citing the long delays & editorial meddling, David abandons X-Factor. Too bad: he’s finally partnered w/ a perfect artist in Joe Q, whose cartoon style adds to the comedy, pathos, & character work that David loves. And he’s mid-story: the team finally arrives in Genosha, where evil plots are afoot.
[continued in X-Factor Annual #7]
[last issue: X-Factor #88]
[next issue: X-Factor #90]

X-Factor #88

August 27, 2010

Peter David // Joe Quesada & Chris Batista
March 1993
A-story: **** // B-story: ***
David finally returns to his long-interrupted arc on mutant refugees, half a year later. They & X-Factor face a cigar-chomping satire of ’90s kewl mutant mercs whose muscle-bound body morphs to counter any opponent (Havok simply pays him off). A back-up gets cozy w/ Quicksilver & his estranged wife.
[last issue: X-Factor #87]
[next issue: X-Factor #89]

X-Factor #87

August 26, 2010

Peter David // Joe Quesada
February 1993
*****
Nearly out of the blue, a classic—arguably, the best single X-issue of the ’90s. The team gets mandatory counseling for PTSD: beneath their mutant angst, they display normal human neuroses. Rookie Quesada’s art helps, natch, his doe-eyes & floppy hair adding sensitivity to David’s intimate script.
[last issue: X-Factor #86]
[next issue: X-Factor #88]

X-Factor #86

August 25, 2010

Peter David // Jae Lee
January 1993
**
The crossover continues to crawl (tho’ it can only spare a page or two for X-Factor‘s regulars): the all-action force of Bishop, Cable & Wolvie literally sit around doing nothing! The only plot point is that Apocalypse cures Prof X of the technovirus using a bit of Kirbytech. I’ll miss Lee’s art.
[continued from Uncanny X-Men #286]
[continued in X-Men #16]
[last issue: X-Factor #85]
[next issue: X-Factor #87]

X-Factor #85

August 24, 2010

Peter David // Jae Lee
December 1992
**
The title team gets ignored by a hugger-mugger crossover, & PAD’s talent is wasted in dialoguing chaotic fights. At least Jae Lee’s shadowy, splattery style fits the subject matter. Razor-winged Archangel decapitates one evil mutant; another hamstrings Quicksilver; Wolvie steps btw. Bishop & Cable.
[continued from Uncanny X-Men #285]
[continued in X-Men #15]
[last issue: X-Factor #84]
[next issue: X-Factor #86]

X-Factor #84

August 23, 2010

Peter David // Jae Lee
November 1992
***
Jae Lee has a Sienkowicz-but-brutal style that would prob’ly fit X-Force better than -Fac. Luckily, #84 is also #2 of an x-over that sees this title’s g-men outfight the aggro X-Force while hunting for Cable (who shot Prof. X in Central Park). David finds the issue’s hook in Rahne, caught. btw. teams.
[continued from Uncanny X-Men #284]
[continued in X-Men #14]
[last issue: X-Factor #83]
[next issue: X-Factor #85]

X-Factor #83

August 22, 2010

Peter David // Mark Pacella
October 1992
***
After laying groundwork for a human-rights crisis in Genosha, the arc’s momentum stalls. Instead, #83 offers some character scenes as X-Fac chaperones mutant refugees in NYC. Except for the hate-crime in Central Park, the ish feels like a fill-in—it’s keeping time till next month’s big X-over.
[last issue: X-Factor #82]
[next issue: X-Factor #84]

X-Factor #82

August 21, 2010

Peter David // Rurik Tyler
September 1992
***
X-Factor get into a dockside melee w/ former members of Freedom Force (the govt. team that our heroes replaced a year ago). The pretext: a boatload of mutant refugees seeking asylum. It’s a nice idea, w/ Havok posturing as a liberal American milksop, but it’s short on details & buried by the action.
[last issue: X-Factor #81]
[next issue: X-Factor #83]

X-Factor #81

August 20, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
August 1992
***
David caps off this arc nicely w/ X-Fac facing a Wolverine foe in a DC Metro station. Plus he adds a dash of cynicism: Strong Guy, poisoned, argues for exchanging their witness for the antidote (rather than trust a govt. cure). In the subplot, Madrox gets his heart broken by his nutso music teacher.
[last issue: X-Factor #80]
[next issue: X-Factor #82]

X-Factor #80

August 19, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
July 1992
**
Even w/ Stroman’s atypical approach to superhero art, this ish is boilerplate. Our g-men, guarding a snitch, slug it out w/ an all-girl mutant gang (Hell’s Belles, great name). The small-town plot moves along, w/ the music teacher proving a femme fatale. And a dream sequence riffs on Wayne’s World.
[continued from X-Factor Annual #7]
[last issue: X-Factor #79]
[next issue: X-Factor #81]

X-Factor #79

August 18, 2010

Peter David // Jim Fern
June 1992
***
To compliment David’s book as the best X-mag of its era is only somewhat backhanded; he’s doing yeoman’s work. Quicksilver & Multiple Man play PI in a bigoted US town that suspects the young, coltish (blue) music teacher is a murderess. Subplots & comedic beats fill the issue out nicely.
[continued in X-Factor Annual #7]
[last issue: X-Factor #78]
[next issue: X-Factor #80]

X-Factor Annual #7

August 18, 2010

Peter David // Darrick Robertson & Joe Maduriera
June 1992
B-story: ** // C-story: ***
Story B sees govt. liaison Val Cooper have a bureaucratic nightmare; the 3rd story riffs on Calvin & Hobbes as a 10-year-old Cal enlists Strong Guy to deal w/ bullies. Toony art adds zip & heart.
[continued from X-Factor #78]
[continued in X-Factor #80]
[last issue: X-Factor Annual #6]
[next issue: X-Factor Annual #8]

X-Factor #78

August 16, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman & Brandon Peterson
May 1992
***
Applied comics conventions as a vehicle to explore ’90s politics: mutant terrorists assassinate a doc who can detect mutant DNA in utero. Tho’ the plot dances around abortion (& eugenics) w/o taking a side, the theme draws characters out in surprising ways, as both good guys & bad have dissenters.
[last issue: X-Factor #77]
[next issue: X-Factor #79]

X-Factor #77

August 15, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
April 1992
****
A recharged Stroman pencils some lovely layouts, esp. around Rahne. And David carries Claremont’s X-torch w/ deft character beats, a seamless take on the mutant world (#77 guests Cannonball & terrorist foes from X-Force) & even poli-philo like due process for super-criminals & fetal DNA tests.
[continued from The Incredible Hulk #392]
[last issue: X-Factor #76]
[next issue: X-Factor #78]

X-Factor #76

August 14, 2010

Peter David // Tom Raney & Kevin West
March 1992
***
As part of Uncle Sam’s clandestine support for a foreign despot, our mutant g-men face a tech-heavy superteam allied w/ the Hulk. But aside from some high-&-mighty moralizing on non-Western culture’s treatment of women (berserker Wolfsbane kills a murderer!), the ish is standard superhero tussle.
[continued from The Incredible Hulk #391]
[continued in The Incredible Hulk #392]
[last issue: X-Factor #75]
[next issue: X-Factor #77]

X-Factor #75

August 13, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
February 1992
**
The new X-Factor’s inaugural story ends, double-sized, in a rote slugfest. X-foe Mr. Sinister, his motives inscrutable as usual, bolsters the team’s cred by discrediting his own ally, an anti-mutant senator. Havok’s arc of accepting his role as mutant g-man (set up in #72) has been dropped. But David does keep probing the ramifications of Madrox’s power: a rogue dupe struggles to assert itself.
[continued in The Incredible Hulk #390]
[last issue: X-Factor #74]
[next issue: X-Factor #76]

X-Factor #74

August 11, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
January 1992
**
Tho’ #74 is mostly combat (the team topples the Wash. Monument!), David still advances his subplots, develops his characters, & unveils the arc’s villain: a right-wing senator working w/ Mr. Sinister. But Stroman’s art fails to show spatial relations & the ’90s line superfluities are starting to grate.
[last issue: X-Factor #73]
[next issue: X-Factor #75]

X-Factor #73

August 10, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
December 1991
***
Under the pop culture nods, #73 stages the team’s first battle: a brawl w/ Multiple Men! David is parodying the influential Claremont, adding a comedic tone to arcing plots, mystery villains, & angsty romances. Stro’s art, full of expressionist lines, works okay but he skimps on the Wash DC setting.
[last issue: X-Factor #72]
[next issue: X-Factor #74]

X-Factor #72

August 9, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
November 1991
***
Havok’s a straight leading man, uncomfy w/ his govt. role as he rekindles an old romance. In a subplot, Madrox has a dark night of the soul when a duplicate is killed. Stro’s faces are oddly rubbery but he lays a page out clearly. He also nails the slapstick that David wants to go w/ his banter.
[last issue: X-Factor #71]
[next issue: X-Factor #73]

X-Factor #71

August 8, 2010

Peter David // Larry Stroman
October 1991
***
Defined by smart characters & a breezy tone, X-Factor stands out from the rest of the X-books, now overhauled to favor artists over writers. In this chatty riff on a team-building issue, Havok’s recruited to lead the new federal mutant super-squad, a motley crew of second bananas (Multiple Man?!).
[last issue: X-Factor #70]
[next issue: X-Factor #72]

Alias #28

August 7, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
January 2004
*****
Alias, unlike most comics, actually has an ending (tho’ Jess Jones’ story continues in a new mag, The Pulse). Okay, the showdown w/ her nemesis is old-fashioned. But what follows! Jess takes the mature step of having a kid, telling the father (Luke Cage), & living her life. A great superhero comic.
[continued in The Pulse #1]
[last issue: Alias #27]

Alias #27

August 5, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
December 2003
****

Jones’ Silence of the Lambs interview w/ her archenemy, the Purple Man, has an obtrusive metatextual element. I guess she plays at roles (superheroine, PI) so she won’t have to face reality? Still, the tension ratchets up till it climaxes w/ an icky splash of Scott Lang (dead?) swarmed by ants.

last issue: Alias #26
next issue: Alias #28

also indexed for Dec. ’03
Avengers/JLA #4 of 4
New X-Men #148

Alias #26

August 4, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos, Mark Bagley & Rick Mays
November 2003
****

By filling his heroine’s traumatic past in, Bendis writes an emo climax that measures up to the rest of the book. He’s also got a new angle on the standard Marvel hero v. heroes fight that has substance & weight. And the use of secondary artists is smart. Next issue: Jess faces her archenemy.

last issue: Alias #25
next issue: Alias #27

also indexed for Nov. ’03
JLA/Avengers #3 of 4
New X-Men #146
New X-Men #147

Alias #25

August 3, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos & Mark Bagley
October 2003
*****

Covered by the MAX imprint, Alias pushes the comics taboo of heroine humiliation. Jones reveals her secret wound: she was once enslaved by a mind-control sicko. A metaphor for abusive love? Impossible to read it objectively or critically. For an extra jolt, flashbacks are in Bagley’s trad style.

last issue: Alias #24
next issue: Alias #26

also indexed in Oct. ’03
Avengers/JLA #2 of 4
New X-Men #145

Alias #24

August 2, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
September 2003
****

We’ve seen Jessica Jones lash out before, but not like this—vomiting (morning sickness?) & literally flying off. All cuz of a case involving the Purple Man, an old DD villain w/ the power to control minds. The prior Spider-Woman arc beautifully foreshadowed this theme of Jess as exploited victim.

last issue: Alias #23
next issue: Alias #25

also indexed for Sept. ’03
JLA/Avengers #1 of 4
New X-Men
 #144

Alias #23

August 1, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
August 2003
*****
Bendis is performs one of the most impressive retcons in superhero history by stitching his heroine into early Marvel. It’s not just plausible, it’s elegant, plus it enriches the book’s plot of a woman who’s fallen off the map. Here (14 years ago), teen orphan Jess discovers she’s got superpowers.
[last issue: Alias #22]
[next issue: Alias #24]