Monday, February 28, 2005

New comics 2/23

Powers #9 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Avon Oeming, Marvel/Icon)
This remains my one pillar of faith in Bendis, who's once again set up an intriguing mystery and lets the pieces fall into place in this issue. The reveal of the murderer actually reminded me a bit of Identity Crisis, which I'm sure wasn't intentional, and it's not really all that similar. I like the simmering subplots of Deena's powers and Walker's tutelage of the new Retro Girl, and it looks like both of those are going to come to a head soon.

Savage Dragon #120 (Erik Larsen, Image)
It's a shame that Larsen is almost four months late with his version of the election, but since it has little to do with actual politics, I suppose it doesn't really matter. Although, I was surprised that Larsen did include a few real jabs at Bush, since this storyline seems more designed to move Dragon in a new direction and probably would have gone on no matter who was in office. The political content was unnecessary, but I liked this issue for two main reasons: The first is that Larsen has yet again found another way to shake up his status quo that feels like a genuinely interesting development for the characters, and the second is that Mr. Glum, who always amuses me, had a bunch of good lines. I also like the building subplot of Dragon potentially losing his powers, and Jennifer feeling helpless without hers. It'd be nice if this book came out on a more regular basis, but I still enjoy it when it does.

Uncanny X-Men #456 (Chris Claremont/Alan Davis, Marvel)
Ugh. This is it. This is a momentous decision for me. I have been reading this book for almost 200 issues. I have, I believe, every issue from #279 through #456. But I can't do it anymore. It's not that this issue is that much worse than previous issues. It's not even that Claremont is that much worse than at least the two writers (Chuck Austen and Joe Casey) who directly preceded him. It's that I haven't actually enjoyed reading this book in I can't remember how long, and I can no longer justify spending $2.25 and 20 or so minutes of my time every month (or more often) on it. I love the X-Men. I love a lot of what Claremont did in his first run, which was before my time but I've read much of in trades. I love Alan Davis's art. But I don't love it enough. And Claremont, great as he once may have been, is just rehashing his same tired themes (we get more mind control in this issue). I will still read Astonishing X-Men, which I absolutely love and has been extended for another year with Whedon and Cassaday. I will give Peter Milligan until the rest of his first arc to convince me that he can do something interesting with X-Men, and if he can't, I will drop that one too. Because it's stupid to keep buying comics that I don't like, for years and years. I don't do it with anything except the X-Men. If and when another writer comes on board this book, or X-Men, I will give it a chance again, because I want to like the X-Men. I will keep buying X-related mini-series that interest me. But I am through being a sheep for this franchise. It's the last vestige of the 12-year-old reader in me, and it has to go.

X-Men #167 (Peter Milligan/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
As I said, I'm giving Milligan his first arc to impress me. So far, he hasn't done it. I seriously had no idea what was going on in this issue. Last issue, I blamed much of it on Larroca, whose storytelling seemed unclear to me. But this issue I don't think it's Larroca's problem. Milligan is jumping around in his plot, the pacing is very confused, people are acting out of character (possibly on purpose?) and I can't figure out what it's all supposed to be about. Maybe by the end it will all make sense, but as of now my newly ruthless attitude has this going the way of Uncanny in a few issues.

X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong #3 (Greg Pak/Greg Land, Marvel)
On the other hand, Pak shows here that it is still possible to tell an interesting and well-written story within the confines of editorial mandates for the X-Men. Obviously this is setting things up to coincide with the next X-Men movie. Obviously it has to include certain key characters, whether they fit or not. Obviously any changes it makes will be reversed by other writers down the line. But Pak makes the story exciting in that context, and makes you believe that these are real, important, life-changing events for his characters. He uses continuity to his advantage, not his detriment. I'm a little disappointed to see the Quentin Quire subplot pushed to the side in this issue, but I'm sure it'll pick back up. I'm even warming to Land's art, which I found stiff and artificial in past issues. Some of his storytelling here has a genuine organic feel. If only Marvel would fire Claremont and put Pak on Uncanny, I wouldn't have to stop buying it.

Y The Last Man #31 (Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra, DC/Vertigo)
What to say about this issue that hasn't already been said? Vaughan continues to impress, and here follows the solution of one mystery with the introduction of another, and sets his heroes back on the road for a different sort of quest. I guess this is always going to be a book about traveling, which is fine, but I was sort of looking forward to a little settling down and the establishment of a status quo for a bit. But I trust Vaughan, and I especially like the way he's handled Hero, who here appears to have undergone a complete turnaround but retains an air of menace about her. I look forward to seeing where this heads next.

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