A Guide to "X-Men: Apocalypse," from A to X
Comic Books, Film
If the DC Comics New 52 reboot hadn’t happened, Detective Comics would have reached its 900th issue this month. That wasn’t lost on DC, which celebrated the milestone this week with the release of an 80-page, $7.99 anniversary issue. The issue sports the New 52 debut of an old favorite, and a tribute to the number 900 in a story that ties into the larger ‘Emperor Penguin’ arc running through the comic. It also features back-up tales starring Bane, Man-Bat and the Gotham City Police Department, as well as a gallery of art by various artists.
So does this oversized issue do justice to its 900-issue legacy? Here are a few opinions from around the web …
This week saw the arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, John Dell and Justin Ponsor. The series spins out of the events of Bendis’ Avengers Assemble arc, but at the same time sets up a new story and mission for Starlord, Rocket Raccoon and the rest of the team.
So does the comic soar or make a crash landing? Here are a few opinions from around the web to tell you just that ….
No muss, no fuss and very little hype — this week Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin re-teamed on a new digital-only comic titled The Private Eye. Featuring fantastic colors by Muntsa Vicente, the comic is available on the Panel Syndicate website “for any price you think is fair.”
With that kind of model, there’s not a lot of risk for the consumer, but there is the question of “How much should I pay?” The site’s FAQ suggest 99 cents as a fair price; I opted to pay $3 because that’s what I would pay for a copy of Saga. But if you’re unsure if it’s worth your time and money, here are a few reviews to help you along …
Writer Paul Cornell and artists Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Matt Hollingsworth waste no time dropping Wolverine into the thick of it in the latest first issue for Marvel’s merry claw-popping mutant. All is not as it seems when a father shopping for sneakers for his kid goes on a lethal rampage at the mall with a strange gun, leaving us with a naked Wolverine waiting for his healing factor to kick in … and that’s where we start the book.
Carla talked about Wolverine at length on Friday, and here are a few reviews from around the web to help you decide if the latest take on the character is worth your money — or if you should save it for a new pair of sneakers:
It’s been almost two years since Avengers 12.1, an issue where Tony Stark warned that Ultron comes back smarter each time he’s reborn. Well, Hank Pym’s robotic “son” is back again, and apparently smart enough to take over New York City and transform it into a dystopian dictatorship. The first issue arrived on Wednesday, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary and Paul Mounts, the same creative team who created that 12.1 issue — and the same writer who teased it in an issue of Avengers back in 2010.
So was it worth the wait? Here are a few opinions from the web who thought so or thought no, as the case may be:
Jimmie Robinson left New Port City this week to enroll in the School of Five Weapons, a specialized school where assassins send their kids for education and training in one of the five deadly weapons that’s also the setting for Robinson’s new five-issue miniseries, Five Weapons. The series, written and drawn by Robinson, stars Tyler, a new student who doesn’t have any fighting skills but plans to rule the school using his razor-sharp mind.
“Tyler is a 13-year old kid, so his motivations for attending this specialized school are a bit complicated. This will become clear by the end of the first issue, and I don’t want to entirely give it away right now because Tyler has a secret that will hinge on the whole story,” Robinson told CBR News. “But the bottom line is, Tyler is a street smart and brilliantly observant kid. He’s a bit like a young Sherlock Holmes; nothing escapes his view, and he’s just wise enough and smart enough to put things together that will squeak him through some of the most difficult and dangerous situations.”
So how do Tyler and his adventures in murder school measure up? Here are a few reviews from around the web:
This week Sam Alexander, a.k.a. the new Nova, joins a small group of characters (like Harlequin and Firestar) who made their debut on television before jumping onto the printed page. Alexander made his debut on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show, then showed up last year in the big Avengers vs. X-Men crossover comics event.
Now he’s got his own ongoing series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Does Nova once again soar, or does he fizzle out in his latest attempt at an ongoing series? Here are a few opinions on the first issue from around the web:
David Pepose, Newsarama: “Those who have met Sam Alexander through Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, you might be a little bit surprised by this comics incarnation — Loeb brings a surprisingly dark edge here as he dives into the dynamic between Sam and his father Jesse. In a lot of ways, the Southwestern locale, the space angle and the focus on family reminds me a bit of Keith Giffen’s Blue Beetle, but the laughs don’t quite make it over here. Unlike the happy-go-lucky character on the TV show, Sam seethes with resentment—both for covering for his father’s alcoholism, and for enduring his larger-than-life tales as a member of the Nova Corps.” (7/10)
Following on the heels of All-New X-Men, the first X-title written by Brian Michael Bendis as part of the big Marvel NOW initiative, Uncanny X-Men sees the scribe join with Chris Bachalo to relaunch the mothership. While All-New focuses on the teenage versions of the original X-Men, this title showcases the leader they were brought forward in time to convince that his current actions aren’t kosher. Joined by two former (former?) villains and the diabolical ruler of Limbo, Cyclops goes about recruiting some of the new mutants who have been popping up since the end of Avengers vs. X-Men. Why should Wolverine have all the fun?
Is the new approach revolutionary or revolting? Here are a few opinions from around the web …
Anghus Houvouras, Flickering Myth: “Uncanny X-Men #1 takes us to the other side of the fractured X-Men. Cyclops, Magneto, and a handful of others have taken to recruiting new mutants to be part of their brotherhood. Cyclops still believes mutants need protection from the world around them and is willing to resort to violence if necessary. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill is approached by a mysterious foe who claims to have inside information about Cyclops and his mutant terrorists. Much of the issue is spent catching the audience up on the current state of mutant affairs. It seems that there is a traitor in their midst as someone is intent on seeing Cyclops suffer for his sins.”
The Marvel NOW! roll-out continued this week with the release of The Fearless Defenders #1, a new take on the “non-team” concept that spins out of last year’s The Fearless miniseries. Like that series, Fearless Defenders is written by Cullen Bunn (of The Sixth Gun and Wolverine fame), who is joined by artist Will Sliney and colorist Veronica Gandini.
Readers of The Fearless will remember that it ended with Valkyrie, that book’s star, deciding to recruit a new group of Valkyrior on Earth. Her first recruit is Misty Knight, formerly of Heroes for Hire, who knows a thing or two about recruiting heroes herself. Is it a match made in Valhalla? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “The ‘how’ of those characters teaming up is the charm of this comic book, leading to a most unlikely and sometimes comical pairing of two long-time favorite Marvel Comics’ ladies, thanks to Cullen Bunn. Unintimidated by the immortal aspect of Valkyrie, Bunn uses that character as the reader’s introduction to this new series, providing caption boxes filled with her thoughts and to open and close the issue. Bunn’s method for bringing the characters together is standard-issue comic book threat, but it works with these characters and this situation, opening the door wide for continued shared adventures. I’m certain those adventures will lead to the gathering of more allies as the heroines’ journey progresses. Bunn seems quite comfortable writing both of the leads and a third ally in ‘Fearless Defenders’ #1.” (3/5)
I covered The Black Beetle #0 here a few weeks ago, rounding up thoughts on the collection of stories from the Dark Horse Presents anthology. Now Francesco Francavilla’s pulp character has graduated into his own miniseries, the first issue of which arrived last Wednesday. The zero issue received positive reviews, so how does the first issue stack up? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Equal parts Batman, Blue Beetle (by name, if nothing else) and Indiana Jones, the Black Beetle is an action hero whose escapades don’t leave the reader wanting for adventure, excitement or intrigue. At first glance, it appears as though Francavilla might be riding a wave of resurgent pulp popularity, but this first issue propels the property beyond simple mimicry of pulp adventures or following a predefined set of instructions for crafting a good story. While some readers may find Francavilla’s use of narrative caption boxes excessive, there is no denying their effectiveness in adding depth to the character as his action sequences progress.”
I’ll start off with the customary warning: spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Superior Spider-Man #1 can be found below. I’ll also note that these aren’t the same spoiler, so don’t think you’re safe if you’ve only read ASM #700.
With that out of the way, it’s a new day for Spider-Man, with a new first issue and a new status quo, of sorts. ASM #700 brought all sorts of reactions from fans, and now that the new series has kicked off, what do folks think? Here are a few reactions to Superior Spider-Man #1:
Rob at Crisis on Infinite Midlives: “Okay, let’s start with the most important thing: this is, almost without exception, a very good, character driven book that was clearly written with a great deal of care by Dan Slott. This book, as the introduction to Ock as Spider-Man, kinda had to be a character study of the man more than any kind of action or plot-driven story, and Slott delivers on that basis. Because this is, regardless of the suit or the name or the redhead he’s trying to bang, a story about Otto Octavius. And Peter’s memories or not, he is a self-centered supervillain. And Slott never forgets that.”
Only a handful of comics were released on Wednesday, what with it being a skip week for Diamond Comic Distributors. What did come out, though, could be described as “event” comics — an anniversary issue, crossover kick-offs and several first issues and specials — including Mara, a new miniseries by Brian Wood and Ming Doyle.
“Mara is one of the most famous people on the planet, a superstar athlete with widespread name recognition, celebrity endorsements, her own broadcast network — not so shabby for a girl in her late teens,” Wood told Comic Book Resources in September. “She is a member of a society that places their ultimate emphasis on physical achievement, whether it be in sports or the waging of war. So when she does start to manifest powers, this is pretty significant. Everything she’s accomplished up to this point is immediately suspect. It looks like she cheated. It’s hard to overestimate the implications of that in the world she lives in.”
Here is what folks are saying about it:
Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics: “Wood’s goal is to clearly present us with a future world that is a magnification of our own. The NFL is the most watched programming week in and week out, and while there is no inherent harm in enjoying a sport, there is clearly a lot of ulterior stuff going on in the marketing and the business side of things. Athletes get paid salaries that are more and more outrageous every year and advertising seems to pervade everything, as certain sports see players covered in logos. Even playing fields and specific games are sponsored by companies who have a financial stake in the popularity of sports. Wood has always allowed a bit of politics or social commentary into his work, but is careful in doing so. The enjoyment of the sport itself is not condemned, and the satire of the business side of things is handled with subtlety and class.”
Francesco Francavilla has been showing us his pulp character the Black Beetle for awhile on his blog, and earlier this year the Beetle made the jump from the screen to print with a three-part tale in the Dark Horse Presents anthology. That story was re-released this past week as its own comic, Black Beetle #0, the precursor to a four-issue miniseries.
Not bad for a character that Francavilla re-discovered while “diggin through my things” back in 2009. Francavilla started creating stories about the Beetle after an informal poll on his blog asked his readers which character he should do more with–Black Beetle or a “sci-fi pulp noir” character named Max Malone. Maybe one day Malone will find his way into Dark Horse Presents.
In any event, if you like pulp heroes or Francavilla’s awesome artwork, this might be the book for you … and here are a few reviews from around the web if you still need help making up your mind:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “The story is straight forward, as such a self-professed ‘mystery novelette’ should be for a zero issue. A special Nazi command has descended upon Colt City to steal an ancient artifact. The Black Beetle works to protect the item and the lady who currently curates it. The tale whizzes by with action set pieces for the Beetle to do his thing and then slower moments to expound character and plot. It is interesting watching Francavilla, as both writer and artist, structure pages. He isn’t afraid to drop plenty of six-panel, over-ten-caption pages while people stand still if it affords him a few breakout moments elsewhere to splash his art out for show. There are four splash pages and two dynamic, scattered double page spreads, where Francailla allows the mood and science of this story to cut loose. He obviously knows how to pace his story and gives himself room to make very pretty art.”
Wednesday saw the end of Marvel’s well-received Uncanny X-Force, by Rick Remender, Phil Noto and Frank Martin Jr., as Remender moves on to Captain America and Uncanny Avengers, and two new comics with “X” and “Force” in their titles launch as a part of Marvel NOW! Still, this is a book that will be worth missing once it is gone, as noted by the reviews for this final issue, so let’s raise a glass to the last three years of stories by Remender and company:
Maxwell Majernik, Comicosity: “I am sad to see the series go. It was hands down the consistently best X-comic and one of my most looked forward to books each month. Remender really got these characters. We won’t see another Deadpool like this for a while. Psylocke, even though she will be headlining the new Uncanny X-Force comic, is going to be tough to write after how perfectly Remender wrote her and her powers. Even Evan, who has had a lot of time to shine in Wolverine and the X-Men, comes off as a great character in this series.”
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “The best part of the book is not the surprise happy ending, though, as surprising as that may sound. (And it is a nice ending for that character.) It’s actually a small conversation between Genesis and Deadpool. It’s a good way to wrap up Genesis’s “is he going to be Apocalypse?” story, and it’s handled in a way that justifies Deadpool’s presence throughout all 35 issues of this series in one fell swoop. It’s hard to serve up being both touching and crass in just a few panels, but I like that Remender manages to do just that. I’d expect nothing less, honestly.”
This week saw the release of another Marvel NOW! title, but this one was a little bit different than the others. For one thing, it isn’t a relaunch of an existing title — at least, not directly — and it’s gotten some attention already for its similarities to The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Avengers Arena, by Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker and Frank Martin, has the classic X-Men villain Arcade kidnapping 16 young Marvel heroes and throwing them into Murderworld, where it’s kill or be killed. Plus, y’know, it’s Murderworld, so there’s more to worry about than just your temporary ally turning on you.
So does the book deliver, or does it leave you “hungering” for something else? (Ack, that’s bad; sorry about that). Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “After an opening sequence set (presumably) near the end of the series’ set-up, Hopeless re-introduces readers to the characters that he’s lined up to get kidnapped by Arcade in the latest iteration of his Murderworld complex. Here, these sixteen characters are given 30 days to kill or be killed, with only one allowed to be standing at the end of the time period. If this sounds a little bit like The Hunger Games (or going further back, Battle Royale or even The Long Walk), you aren’t alone in that assessment. Hopeless has Arcade acknowledge the similarity and move forward from there, a nod to the connection between the two. But once you get past that, there’s actually less to get worked up over than you might suspect.” (2.5/5)