Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Comics Update

Comic book post ahoy. Yes, now is the time when I ramble about the books I'm reading. Ta-dah!

Right now, a lot of it is caught up in the Avengers Vs. X-Men debacle. While I was behind the Schism storyline, I am over AvX. If it was revolving around Jean or Rachel or someone I gave a shit about, okay, but... no. Fuck Hope-as-Phoenix-and-wtf-mutant-messiah.

As my dear friend the superpowered scientist Irene says, "Kill the spare."

Still, there is much goodness to be had, even in those books that are currently Hope Obsessed. So here we go.

First, some self-contained graphic novels that might interest people who want to get into comics but aren't sure where to start. The Season One series is Marvel's little way of updating the origin stories of some of its favorite heroes. A lot of longtime fans don't see the point, especially since some might say that's precisely what the Ultimate universe is there for, but I'm not one of them.Of the first four (there are three more coming soon, I hear), I own X-Men and Fantastic Four, and both were well worth the cash. The FF one is probably a little better, story-wise, but one of my all time favorite artists, Jamie McKelvie, did the X-Men book, and it's worth buying just for that... and how badass Jean is in it. I'll probably snag Spider-Man and Daredevil for my birthday, or something, and I'm looking forward very much to the upcoming Dr. Strange one.

From X-Men Season One by Hopeless and McKelvie
Now, on to the monthly buys...

1. Avenging Spider-Man. I love this book so much. It's basically just Spidey teaming up with other Avengers, and it's definitely the funniest thing going. So far there's only been one story that hasn't been totally self-contained in a single issue, which I also really like. Pete is the best, and, thank god, it remains independent of the AvX debacle. I liked Wells on it as the writer, but it's fun now they're rotating artists and writers in and out. The last one with Kathryn and Stuart Immonen doing Spidey and She-Hulk was hilarious. I read this book when things make me angry. Spidey fanboying all over Cap or mouthing off with Hawkeye... no one can stay angry in the face of that. NO ONE.

Side note: this year is Spider-Man's 50th anniversary. Happy birthday, Pete. Still my favorite <3

2. Ultimate Spider-Man. I mentioned before that it's the only Ultimate-verse book I'm reading right now. Still the same! I like the things Bendis is doing with Miles, and I think Miles is a perfect Spidey. He's got just the right amount of curiosity, intelligence, and self-doubt that he needs to carry off the whole teenage superhero thing as a free agent and make me buy it. Also, yeah, he's still effing adorable with his teenage angst and screwed up family.And really, look at Marquez's broody, oh-god-someone-hug-that-kid work here:

From Ultimate Spider-Man #10 by Bendis and Marquez
I hear he'll be meeting the other-verse Pete soon, too, in the Bendis/Pichelli joint Spider-Men project in honor of the anniversary, so I'm looking forward to the start of that next week.

3. Astonishing X-Men. In spite of being kind of another "teacher book" for WXM (more on that later), this one remains blessedly outside the AvX clusterfuck and functions as a standalone title. This is the book I mentioned last time that is pretty much my dream team: Iceman, Gambit, Cece, Karma, Northstar, Wolverine*. After a minor editorial hiccup that dampened my enjoyment of the first issue of the rebooted book, it's been smooth-ish sailing. Not a huge fan of Perkins's art (half the time it looks beautiful, the other half it looks like people's faces are melting), but Marjorie Liu is a badass. And you might've heard, but one of the team is about to get married.

Variant cover for the upcoming Astonishing X-Men #51, by Marko Djurdjevic
AKA: Prettiest Cover Ever

It just so happens that Northstar and his sister Aurora, the hot chick in the pretty dress holding the bouquet, are one of my particularly consuming obsessions**, as X-Men go. I like the way they've handled Northstar's personal arc being the first one, so far, and god knows I love the Kyle/Jean-Paul dynamic (worst. proposal. ever.), so to say I'm excited beyond reason is an understatement.

Obligatory Northstar rant:

Massive fans have watched Jean-Paul, in spite of his crippling cynicism, chase the idea of having a real family for long, emo decades now. It's how Department H emotionally blackmailed him into becoming Northstar in the first place. You see that guy who loves him for his snarky bastard self? You see that happy, supportive sister (who, ftr, was Kyle's friend first, and totally hooked him up as JP's company manager just to keep her brother out of trouble)? You see those in-laws looking all proud? Fuck the haters; it's about time something good happened to our boy. Get it, JP.

4. Avengers Academy. Wrapped up in AvX, but still probably my favorite ongoing right now. I love the characters, and I love Christos Gage's writing in every way imaginable. I actually started reading because it's where Quicksilver landed after the whole "No, it wasn't me who did all that horrible shit with the terragen crystals, it was a Skrull!" debacle, and I really can't resist him.*** In particular I enjoy him and the half-blackmail, half-genuine relationship with Finesse, but I also liked the recent Lightspeed/Striker coming out thing, I'm impressed by how Tigra's being handled, and, on a purely fangirly note, oh my god Lightspeed and Karolina from Runaways are THE CUTEST. McKone's art has been great from the off, too -- I love the character design and I love... everything about it, pretty much.

From Avengers Academy #27 by Gage and McKone.
Post Striker's massive coming out press conference. The dumbass.


Side note: This is a good monthly comic to start out with if you're previously uninitiated into Marvel but curious, because so many of the characters are brand spankin' new, and the first three volumes of the collected comics are already available in TPB, so it's even easy to go from the beginning. Just search your favorite bookseller for Avengers Academy Volume 1: Permanent Record and go from there. I totally got my neighbor's kid hooked. *proud*

5. Uncanny X-Men. I keep telling myself I'm going to drop this book, but I really like Gillen's writing & characterization -- best example: Namor. Yes, I'm totally reading it for Namor, it's true. For those not following along at home, this is the book that follows one half of the post-Schism X-Men: Cyclops's Extinction Team on the island of Utopia. Cyclops, true to form, treats the situation with the depleted mutant population and the mutant kids that have cropped up post-Hope (The Lights) as one requiring a military response attitude. They're soldiers for mutantkind. Makes sense, but there are a lot of problems with the way it's happening, from my PoV.

That, and Greg Land is the artist on it currently. I used to love him, but now his pornstarfaces make me ill.

6. Wolverine and the X-Men. The Schism-created counterpoint to Uncanny, full of cracked-out, almost early Excalibur-style storylines about a school full of mutant teenagers: The Jean Grey School. I think Jason Aaron has been knocking it out of the park from the beginning, like I said in my last comic book update, and now Bradhaw's on it, I think the pencils are perfect for the kinds of stories they're telling: dynamic, full of humor and character. This is the school Wolvie opened to keep the kids who didn't want to go paramilitary with Cyke safe from harm -- but yeah, not really an option, in their world, let's face it. In spite of AvX, this one has still been a load of fun, and I think it's the best X-Book out there right now.



7. X-Men: Legacy. This is the other teacher book, a companion to WXM, focusing on the grown-ups and their missions and lives protecting the kids there. It started out kind of blah, as I might've mentioned, with it mostly being about Rogue agonizing over which side to pick, but since Gage picked it up a few issues back it's been really interesting. Particularly like the little things with Chamber, Husk, and Cannonball that are going on, though for the moment it's all gone back to "which side should we fight on?" Gage is doing it with excellent characterization, though, and Rafa Sandoval's pencils are clean and well-suited to the amount of action that goes on in this one. I really like the way he draws Rogue, and it's safe to say this is her book.

*Okay, so I wouldn't have Wolverine on my dream team, but whatever, the rest of them are awesome.
**All that fanfiction I wrote? Yeah. It's about them. All of it. Really.
***Yes, there is a pattern here. Massive speedster weakness. Speedsters with badass twin sisters, even.

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