Archive for December, 2012

Astonishing X-Men #21

December 31, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 21Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
May 2007
****
This space adventure has a cinematic pace & scope that’s much stronger than Whedon’s previous 2 arcs. Half a dozen thrilling subplots simmer on an alien world where Social Darwinists view compassion as a mutation. The weakest link, sadly, is a convo btw Scott & Emma meant to redefine their romance.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #20]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #22]

Astonishing X-Men #20

December 30, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 20Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
January 2007
****
Exploding starships, plummeting planetfalls, alien temples: this arc delivers old-school scifi pleasures! Cassaday seems inspired by the shift spaceward, imagining alien environments with Mobius-level detail. Whedon, incidentally, has turned X-student Armor into Logan’s latest protegé.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men#19]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #21]

Astonishing X-Men #19

December 29, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 19Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
January 2007
****
Colossus has been prophesied to destroy a bellicose species on a hellscape planet. So the superheroes head into space to prevent it! The sense of adventure energizes AXM, returning it to its first arc’s form. It also lets SWORD Agent Brand exposit, a nice breather after the last arc’s confusion.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #18]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #20]

Astonishing X-Men #18

December 28, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 18Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
December 2006
****
The psychic cuckoo gets revealed: Cassandra Nova, hijacking Emma to escape her alien body-prison. But editorial should’ve told Whedon (2+ years ago!) that she’d been rehabilitated as a “special” student! This arc, like the last, should’ve been tighter, but a sudden leap into space opera augers well.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #17]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #19]

Astonishing X-Men #17

December 27, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 17Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
November 2006
***
Whedon delivers a stunning misdirection—SWORD’s mole is Lockheed—and indulges in a favorite maneuver: revealing action is a dream (or in this case, a psychic drama). Kitty P thinks she’s lived 3 years & had a kid w/ Colossus. But it’s actually the slug that holds Cassandra Nova’s consciousness!
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #16]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #18]

Astonishing X-Men #16

December 25, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 16Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
October 2006
***
A solo Kitty Pryde kicks the asses of a revamped Hellfire Club—or half of them, at least. Small pleasures add up, like Wolverine’s Fontelroy persona (from his lame “Origins” mini). As good as the character work is, this arc frustrates w/ its slow drip of action. To be fair, it reads briskly in TPB.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #15]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #17]

Astonishing X-Men #15

December 24, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 15Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
August 2006
****

Emma & her gang of villains defeat the X-Men easily—mostly via psychic control, tho’ Sebastian Shaw kayos Colossus. Once again, AXM suffers from slow pacing. Each arc is a TV episode, each ish a segment btw commercials. And like the last arc, it pits the team against an enemy w/in at the mansion.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #14
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #16

also indexed for Aug. ’06
Civil War #2 of 7
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #6
Young Avengers #12

Astonishing X-Men #14

December 23, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 14Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
June 2006
****
While Kitty & Piotr consummate their romance, Emma destroys hers. It’s a strong piece of super-soap: Emma, in her psi-therapist persona, bullies Scott brutally. Sadly, it’s not to strengthen their relationship but to subvert him & help an enemy. Too bad, as they had such interesting chemistry!
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #13]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #15]

Astonishing X-Men #13

December 22, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 13Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
April 2006
***
After 8 months on hiatus, AXM resumes its run. Emma Frost, it turns out, is in league w/ arch-psychic Cassandra Nova, Prof X’s evil twin. How disappointing: her rehab was one of ’90s X-comics rare good ideas & so’s her love for Cyclops. But ‘shippers can enjoy Kitty & Colossus reigniting their affair.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #12]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #14]

Astonishing X-Men #12

December 21, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 12Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
August 2005
***

There’s still a lot to enjoy (like a remorseful Sentinel), but AXM has lost its momentum. If this arc had 3 issues & not 6, its reveal—that Prof X had known for years that the Danger Room was sentient—would’ve been stronger. As it is, the outcome simply exiles him from a mag he’s not in anyhow.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #11
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #13

also indexed for Aug. ’05
Young Avengers #5

Astonishing X-Men #11

December 20, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 11Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
July 2005
****

Cassaday takes the baton in #11, penciling a few layouts atop computer-generated backgrounds to depict the astral interview btw Prof X & the sentient Danger Room. The approach underscores how JC’s style is slightly abstracted, a throwback to Romita in a way. His robot design is wonderfully rococo.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #10
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #12

also indexed for Jul. ’05
The Pulse #9
Young Avengers #4

Astonishing X-Men #10

December 19, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 10Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
May 2005
***

Oops, the mag missed a month! A fight issue: staged well, a few surprises even, but still just a fight. The Danger Room monologues as she cleans the team’s clock. #10 also nudges the mag’s subplots along (Ord/SWORD, Emma’s secret), but clearly its arc could be half the length at no loss of content.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #9
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #11

also indexed for May ’05
The Pulse #8
Secret War #4 of 5
Young Avengers #2

Astonishing X-Men #9

December 18, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 09Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
March 2005
****

Due to a paradox in its programming, the Danger Room has become self-aware. A fine idea, but I’m surprised no one’s done it before. What gives it juice is how its “birth” (it turns robotic at the finale) is a sacred event, in the dramatic sense. Whedon & Cass make AXM a pleasure to read.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #8
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #10

also indexed for Mar. ’05
Iron Man #3
The Pulse #7

Astonishing X-Men #8

December 17, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 08Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
February 2005
****

Somehow a suicide acts as a blood sacrifice, demon-like, freeing the Danger Room AI from its protocols. And a half-scrap Sentinel worships it as a mother goddess! An okay ish made v.g. by Cassaday. His art epitomizes the era—highly realistic, cinematic—but its colorful clarity trumps the convention.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #7
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #9

also indexed for Feb. ’05
Iron Man #2

Astonishing X-Men #7

December 16, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 07Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
January 2005
*****

Back to superhero adventure for another strong issue. As the X-Men help the FF fend off a mole monster in midtown NYC, their internal monologues add a touch of wit. Darker plots perk tho’: SWORD Agent Brand visits a shadow council, while a de-powered student commits suicide in the Danger Room.

last issue: Astonishing X-Men #6
next issue: Astonishing X-Men #8

also indexed for Jan. ’05
Iron Man #1
The Pulse #6

Astonishing X-Men #6

December 15, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 06Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
December 2004
*****
Whedon intros Marvel Earth’s ET counterpart to SHIELD: SWORD (duh), a truly clever addition. Its agent exposits a dose of space opera, predicting the X-Men will wreck a world! But #6’s heart is its chars, & esp. Beast, still unsteady yet reliable. But Emma, unfortch for ‘shippers, may turn heel…
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #5]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #7]

Astonishing X-Men #5

December 14, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 05Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
November 2004
****
Despite the first issue’s claim to be plain superheroics, under Whedon the mag is more of a return to the “world that hates & fears” theme. A raid on the corp that’s funded a mutant cure solves nothing (except the rescue of Colossus), while the cure itself raises troubling issues for the subspecies.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #4]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #6]

Astonishing X-Men #4

December 13, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 04Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
October 2004
****
You could cavil at the bait/switch of a resurrected Colossus after #3 implied Jean. Or w/ the slow pacing undercutting suspense, tho’ tension does come w/ the new alien heavy zapping students w/ that mutant cure. And the clever use of superpowers & teamwork is the best homage to Claremont.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #3]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #5]

Astonishing X-Men #3

December 12, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 03Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
September 2004
*****
Light on action & more so on momentum, but the drama, dialogue, & staging more than compensates. One example: Beast feels ambivalent about his feline mutation, which sets Wolverine off. The catalyst: a cure to “correct” mutant DNA. How the treatment connects to an alien villain, only Nick Fury knows!
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #2]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #4]

Astonishing X-Men #2

December 11, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 02Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
August 2004
*****
Good action but better convos, as when Emma F, a true anti-hero, requests Kitty P keep her ethically in line. Cassaday adroitly handles the fashionable ’00s mode of decompression, laying out smooth cinematic sequences. Fittingly for Whedon’s retro aims, his turbo clarity recalls Paul Smith’s X-art.
[last issue: Astonishing X-Men #1]
[next issue: Astonishing X-Men #3]

Astonishing X-Men #1

December 10, 2012

Astonishing X-Men 01Joss Whedon // John Cassaday
July 2004
*****

Effectively taking over for G. Morrison, & in opposition to his radical creativity, Joss Whedon writes a Claremont homage; thus he replaces Jean Grey w/ Kitty Pryde. More strongly, he tackles social allegory, as a pharma announces a medical “cure” for mutant DNA—an echo of anti-gay “science”.

next issue: Astonishing X-Men #2

also indexed for Jul. ’04
Daredevil #60
Fantastic Four #513
Fantastic Four #514
The Pulse #3
Secret War #2 of 5
Thanos #10

New X-Men #154

December 9, 2012

New X-Men 154Grant Morrison // Marc Silvestri
June 2004
****
Despite dodgy panels from Silvestri, Morrison sticks his finale with acrobatic beauty. The enemy of his entire run is finally unmasked: Sublime, a 3B-year-old viral consciousness that subverts evolution to survive! Jean G. ascends to godhead & defeats the villain w/ love by blessing Scott & Emma.
[last issue: New X-Men #153]
[next issue: New X-Men #155]

New X-Men #153

December 8, 2012

New X-Men 153Grant Morrison // Marc Silvestri
May 2004
*****
GM’s white-hot with hyper-compression, an abstruse style that, at its best, delivers complex plotting but doesn’t neglect emotional beats. Led by a rehabilitated Cass Nova (AKA Ernst!), a future X-team confronts Phoenix & the Beast—who’s infected by Sublime, a virus that thrives on mutant conflict!
[last issue: New X-Men #152]
[next issue: New X-Men #154]

New X-Men #152

December 7, 2012

New X-Men 152Grant Morrison // Marc Silvestri
late March 2004
*****
In the far future, the Beast wants to mass-produce life rather than letting evolution work. Morrison’s riff on Days of Future Past equals the original & surpasses its ’90s echo Age of Apocalypse. Silvestri also outdoes his past X-work, retaining the sturm & drang of Inferno but surer on shapes.
[last issue: New X-Men #151]
[next issue: New X-Men #153]

New X-Men #151

December 6, 2012

New X-Men 151Grant Morrison // Marc Silvestri
early March 2004
*****
At the end, an arc to match the inaugural #114-17! GM flings the mag 150 years into the future & briskly builds an alt Marvel Universe. The Beast, fur silver with age, has turned evil; all-new X-Men include a boy & his pet Sentinel; a Phoenix egg may save the timeline, ruptured by Cyclops’ despair.
[last issue: New X-Men #150]
[next issue: New X-Men #152]

New X-Men #150

December 5, 2012

Grant Morrison // Phil Jimenez
February 2004
***
A great cover! Magneto, humiliated, zaps the resurrected Phoenix w/ a touch & rips a hole in spacetime. Is Mags Xorn or visa-versa? It’s ambiguous but neither option feels plausible. Take the former as read—it’s a stronger theme. Zealotry & violence (by Bin Laden or Bush) is a failed philosophy.
[last issue: New X-Men #149]
[next issue: New X-Men #151]

New X-Men #149

December 4, 2012

Grant Morrison // Phil Jimenez
January 2004
****

Tho’ Morrison probed Magneto’s X-role better in the Kid Omega arc; here he argues that the original Silver Age supervillain isn’t a radical, he’s a self-loathing reactionary. On another level, GM brings Beak’s arc to a scruffy head, as the youth stands up to the terrorist & joins the X-revolution.

last issue: New X-Men #148
next issue: New X-Men #150

also indexed for Jan. ’04
Alias #28

New X-Men #148

December 3, 2012

Grant Morrison // Phil Jimenez
December 2003
***

A hurried issue in a compressed climax: this isn’t Morrison at his best. Logan & Jean piece a plot together from sketchy evidence & debatable retcons to the previous 2½ years of comics. But one nice bit of drama has Wolvie stab Jean in a mercy-kill; she then resurrects as they plunge into the sun!

last issue: New X-Men #147
next issue: New X-Men #149

also indexed for Dec. ’03
Alias #27
Avengers/JLA #4 of 4

New X-Men #147

December 2, 2012

Grant Morrison // Phil Jimenez
late November 2003
***

After destroying NYC & the X-Men, a drug-addled Magneto’s theatrical histrionics fail to inspire mutant revolution. A fascinating failure, Morrison’s Mags ignores Claremont’s, reckoning w/ McKellen’s movie perf & Bin Laden’s real-life evil, but most of all with Stan Lee’s original raving nut.

last issue: New X-Men #146
next issue: New X-Men #148

also indexed for Nov. ’03
Alias #26
JLA/Avengers #3 of 4
New X-Men #146

New X-Men #146

December 1, 2012

Grant Morrison // Phil Jimenez
early November 2003
**

Sometimes Morrison’s compressed storytelling works, but not in #146, where he rushes to end his X-epic prematurely. A big reveal undoes two of his strongest issues & best characters by conflating Xorn w/ the “late” Magneto. Still, Jiminez provides solid craft, incl. several silent pages in space.

last issue: New X-Men #145
next issue: New X-Men #147

also indexed for Nov. ’03
Alias #26
JLA/Avengers #3 of 4
New X-Men #147