Review: Cyclops, Vol. 1: Starstruck by Greg Rucka

Cyclops, Vol. 1: StarstruckCyclops, Vol. 1: Starstruck by Greg Rucka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a touching Father/Son Road Trip story!
Except, it’s in space. And the father is a cosmic pirate using illegal drugs to keep himself alive. Oh, and the son was brought out of the past, so there’s actually another older more jaded version of himself running around trying to start a Revolution.
But besides that stuff, it’s your regular old road trip story.
Yep.

In all seriousness, I thought this was pretty good. I’ve never read much about the Starjammers, so I had no idea who they are or what they do.


In my mind, I sort of envisioned this:

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Shockingly, I was wrong.
Apparently, the Starjammers do NOT play instruments.


Not a guitar or eye-patch in sight:

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The Starjammers are part of Marvel’s cosmic family, led by Scott & Alex Summers dad, Corsair.
Remember when Scott’s parents shoved him and his little brother out of that plane (with the only parachute) to save their lives?
Ok. So, it turns out they weren’t killed in the crash, they were actually abducted by aliens (I swear). After they (the Shi’ar) killed his wife, Corsair escaped and decided to…join the Starjammers & fight ’em, I guess.
What? I said I didn’t know much about the origins of this team!

Anyway, Corsair has already met Old Bitter Cyclops, but this is the first time Kid Cyclops.
Time to start fresh!

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Alrighty, I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just give the bare bones version of the plot.
Baby Cyclops + Corsair + Bonding Time + Bounty Hunters + Spaceship Crash + Deserted Planet + No Medicine + Hard Talk + Gotta Grow Up Fast + Suck It Up For Your Kid + Desperate Plan = Volume 1 of Cyclops

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In the end, I really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t expecting much of anything when I cracked it open, so it was a pleasant surprise. It was kinda awesome to see a version of Cyclops that isn’t huffing and puffing and trying to blow S.H.I.L.E.D. down.
Not sure if everyone is going to love this, but I’ll definitely read the next volume.

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Review: Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 4: VS. S.H.I.E.L.D. by Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo (Illustrator), Kris Anka (Illustrator)

Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 4: VS. S.H.I.E.L.D.Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 4: VS. S.H.I.E.L.D. by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pot Luck Buddy Read

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If you haven’t been keeping up with this title, there may be SPOILERS in this review.
{insert spooky voice}
You’ve been warned! Ooga Booga Booga!

As the title suggests, Cyclops and his Uncanny X-men declare war on S.H.I.E.L.D., and hilarity naturally ensues.

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Now, this isn’t a spoiler since you’re also getting things from Maria’s POV, but all the attacks on the Scott’s crew are only being made to seem like they’re coming from S.H.I.E.L.D. I fucking hate typing out that acronym, and she’s scrambling to figure out what the hell is going on.
When they finally do the Big Reveal at the end, I was a bit…
Underwhelmed?

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Yes, I knew who the character was, but it was more WTF? than WOW!, if you know what I mean.
Maybe this was something I would have found cool if I had been following all of the other multiple X-titles out there? Not sure.

Anyway, the war with S.H.I.E.L.D. Goddamn it! All those freakin’ capital letters and periods! was secondary for me. There were plenty of other highlights in this volume.
Such as…
The unmasking of Mystique, who has been posing as Dazzler since volume 1! FINALLY we find out where Dazzler has been kept, and we also get Magneto back for a bit when he pulls off her rescue.
Although, she does go through a bit of an identity crisis after she gets back.

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Do we like Dazzler’s new look, or is it too gimmicky?
Well, I will say that now it’s a helluva lot easier to tell her apart from Illyana and Emma Frost. Before? I sometimes had to squint really hard, because the blondes tend to blend together.
I don’t know, though. Jury is still out on Angry Dazzler for now.

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The really juicy bits of this thing have to do with a buttload of secrets that get spilled when She-Hulk shows up at the Jean Grey school with Xavier’s will!

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Naturally, everyone has to be present in order for her to read it.
Dum, dum, dum…
Which means that the X-men have to invite Scoot & Co. over for tea.

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To me, the secrets the old man had been keeping made the whole volume worth it. I still can’t get believe…

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Review: Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 3: The Good, The Bad, The Inhuman by Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo (Illustrator), Kris Anka (Illustrator)

Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 3: The Good, The Bad, The InhumanUncanny X-Men, Vol. 3: The Good, The Bad, The Inhuman by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I liked it, but there was a lot of just…weird stuff going on. Maybe not weird so much, as multiple stories that all felt important and disjointed at the same time. Ugh. Sorry, I’m not sure that makes sense.

Scott is such a dick.
After a kid fucks up on a mission (nothing malicious, by the way), Scott tosses him out on the street. Well, back at his home. But how safe is that, really?
I have a feeling this decision did not endear him to the other teens, and somehow this will come back to bite him in the ass.

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Magneto goes on a trip to Madripoor, and finds out who is behind the surge in the mutant population there. Then he goes bat-shit crazy and tries to kill off some old friends.
So. Yeah, I guess he’s getting his own title now.

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Kitty sticks her hand through Scott’s head, threatens to end him, cries about the loss of Xavier, and then they hug it out.

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Emma takes one of the mutant kids under her wing, and teaches him the importance of his (uncool/lame) powers. I can’t remember his name, but he’s the one that turns into other people, you know?

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Ok, I like the art, but it can get a little crazy, and that makes it hard to understand what’s going on in the panels. It’s not ugly, just…too much? Sometimes. Most of the time it’s great, but then it gets all nutty.
Ack! I’m just not explaining any of this very well.
The story was good, but it felt kinda schizo and all over the place, too.
I’m still looking forward to reading the next volume, though.

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Review: The Trial of Jean Grey (GotG & All-New X-Men) by Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen

Guardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean GreyGuardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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***This is the first of the “Green Theme” Buddy Reads with the Shallow Readers, criteria being: Drax and Gamora are both green.***

I might be tempted to almost call this 4.5, but 4 seems like its not an insult.

I’ve been following the All-New X-Men, where the past in the present have to be smacked in the face with who they became, and what they did and are doing. It’s a great idea, especially since Bobby may be about the only one who doesn’t have serious drama to look forward to.
Kitty is the perfect leader of this group, because she was the young teen alongside grown up versions of most of these people, so it’s fair to say she can relate to them, and actually knows them as well.

The GOTG, well if I have to explain them, you’re obviously living under a Rock…in North Korea. (Don’t hack me Kim!)

They’ve added a new female ‘Angela’ to the team, and she seems to be a warrior and a half, who both Gamora and Rocket have crushes on.
Rocket Raccoon is by far the funniest thing to happen to Marvel in a long time. There’s one scene with Tony Stark recording a message to send to them, now that he’s back on Earth, and he decides to erase it and try again, only for Rocket to inform him it’s live. The expression on Tony’s face is priceless, as the Guardians were the one gang where Iron Man/Tony Stark wasn’t the cool guy or the funny one, he was the outsider trying hard to fit in and be loved. I LOVE that Bendis has the gumption to write a major character like Tony as kinda the “hey guys, I’m cool too!” character he is there.

Guardian, (Purple Mohawk Alien head of the Sh’iar Guard) decides that with Jean Grey now alive, she should be put to trial for genocide when the Dark Phoenix destroyed a solar system. To break it down, by the end of the book, that’s about the worst decision he could have made.

The GOTG discover that Jean Grey is alive, and go to investigate, but show up just in time to be too late…in Canada.

Gamora: What is a Canada?
Peter Quill/Star-Lord: It’s cold and distant; you’ll love it.

This leads to the X-Men/GOTG team up. Realize that the X-Men are from the past (1960s) where Neil Armstrong has yet to walk on the moon…and Beast is losing his shit about space travel and aliens. It’s fun to see.
The interactions are great, because Bendis writes both books usually, so he knows the characters very well.

The interplay between Bobby and Rocket is hilarious. Rocket getting mad for being called a raccoon, Bobby being excited to talk to a talking raccoon (like a Disney movie he says…funny and a plug for the parent company lol) and so forth.

Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be space and the Shi’ar if a certain band of space pirates didn’t show up…yes you know the ones…

This leads to a well done touching moment between a father and a son, only this time, the father gets the same son back for the second time.

So now we’ve got 3 teams all together going up against Guardian and the Shi’ar, which makes for an awesome throwdown, all the while with Jean in captivity, and being made to see what damage she caused as the Dark Phoenix.

Add to the mixture, J-Son, Peter’s father, showing up and pretending to be caring about Jean and the Phoenix, but having an ulterior motive of course…

So the 3 teams make their way to the Shi’ar homeworld, and shockingly, a battle ensues…

I won’t go into any more specifics, but we see some very new developments, and some major left turns.

But we get some perfect mixture of humour and serious throughout the book, and some gorgeous Stuart Immonen artwork. (I had been very upset when he left All New X-Men, so I’m very happy to see him here again).

There’s also some solid flirtation between Kitty and Peter, who make a decent connection, and of course, some great bits with Groot talking to trees, and making Rocket weirded out…especially back in Canada, when they run into real raccoons.

This is a fantastic, and sensible crossover (for one that involves time travellers stranded, space aliens, talking trees and raccoons, and a gigantic space cosmic entity made of energy…) and I highly recommend it, entertaining, funny, and a good story too, with definite future ramifications.


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Review: A vs. X by Brian Michael Bendis and Friends.

Avengers vs. X-MenAvengers vs. X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Underwhelming.

I am glad I didn’t hold off reading all the stuff that comes after this (pretty much all of AvsX leads into the Marvel NOW! Relaunch-y-ish-type thing. Makes a bit more sense now, but I had already pieced it together based on HOW GODDAMN OFTEN THEY TELL US THAT THE PHOENIX FORCE WENT INTO THE X-MEN IT DID!

UGH.

You know what? The story served it’s purpose. I can see how some think it’s a bit lazy to bring Scarlet Witch out of nowhere to be part of this, but I enjoyed it. Even the characters are like WTF is SHE doing here? I’m willing to see this as a cyclical karmic balancing of House of M. However, I like that the answer has to do with Hope AND Scarlet Witch, not just one of them. It’s the cooperation fostered that I think should be the telling moment of the series.

Instead, it’s how quickly can shit escalate to 11.

Cap and Cyclops are pretty much the same character. “I will take the burden of leadership. I am a great leader of people, everyone counts on me”
Except then they both shit the bed in terms of actually sitting down and TALKING about this.

Of course the fighting is very cool.
The FIRST time…
The other problem is that NONE of the characters outside of about a dozen actually factor in at all.
(Cap, Tony, Logan, Cyke, Emma, Namor, the Rasputins, and a few others).
I was pleased to see Iron Fist get an actual speaking role! With some importance! It’s a first for Danny Rand in a real event book.

However, other than the 5 X-Men who get the Phoenix force, the rest of them are just shunned to the fringes of irrelevancy.
Maybe they’re more present in other AVX books? But, other than a little bit of Storm, and a touch of Rogue, all we get is the 5 of them going all supernova.

This is a spot where I feel like they lost the chance to give Magneto a much more crucial part (even though they did in a way).

There should have been a LOT more focus on Logan and his pull between the 2, especially since both Scott AND Steve treat him like a loose cannon asshole, when in fact, he’s probably the most realistic about the whole issue.

The thing is, this book misses a LOT of opportunities to actually go into character relationships. Other than Black Panther/Storm and a little bit of Scarlet Witch/Vision, we don’t get much on the relationships here, much is just thrown out the window so the artists can do punchy mcpunchersons again.

I think with the writers here (Bendis, Aaron, Brubaker, Hickman and Fraction), they have the Top of Marvel’s heap, yet it seems like they were forced to do this one, and the different voices actually take away from the cohesion of the whole story. I would like to blame some of this on editorial staff, because otherwise it means some of my favourites actually wrote some horridly turgid shit here.

There’s just such a rich history to delve into here, and it just turns into: how many ways can Cap throw Avengers at Cyke and the Phoenix 5 until Tony Stark figures some shit out?

Oh ya, and where the F was the FF? (Other than Benny) You think Reed is going to let this all happen without involving himself or his brain? The FF is the perfect go between here, because they’ve served as Avengers, but they’re separate and they understand what changes like mutations do (ESPECIALLY BENNY!).

Oh and, I’m hoping someone will explain why Hulk doesn’t show up until the end? They make a huge deal of Cap asking him for help, and then he’s barely used at all…was this a point at which Banner was unavailable? Because otherwise, he, Pym, McCoy and Stark should have been working on some answer.

In the end, what might have been will never be known, because this milquetoast shit happened instead. Other than making Scotty into the biggest badguy since Magneto (irony of ironies, Erik was the one trying to talk him down). I am glad to see that they took the events here and used them to the best they could (Scott/Logans X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, etc.)

I just really wish they’d DONE something instead of throw every character at the books and hope things would stick. We really didn’t need Luke Cage, Daredevil, Red Hulk, and a lot of others if they weren’t doing anything. It should really have been called “The entire roster of Avengers and reserves from the last decade+ versus the Mutant Power Couple, Namor and the Ruskie Sibs.
(speaking of that, who decided that Peter would have ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONALITY WHATSOEVER???? Based on who he is/was, he should have been the first one to reject the Phoenix power. There’s some few lines about not liking Ilyana’s angry rage, but that’s about it).

OK I’m going to stop, because I realize I could go on and on raging about what went wrong here forever. That’s not the best result for a major event book like this.

Do yourself a favour and focus on the aftermath instead:

Prof X is dead at Cyclops’ hand, which opens the door to him being the badguy mutant outlaw, which actually suits him better and makes him more interesting. So in that regard, SUCCESS! Now to wait for the return.

Miss this and save the headaches.

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X-Men: Battle of the Atom; by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron & Brian Wood

X-Men: Battle of the AtomX-Men: Battle of the Atom by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK All-New X-Men makes a LOT more sense now.

I read all of that and all of Wolverine & the X-Men before this.

Now that I’ve read it, it makes a bit more sense.

But still, as a whole, meh plus?

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Yes that’s me straining to enjoy a bowel movement, much like RDJ.

There’s stuff to like here, as many friends have already mentioned:

It flows very well, you hardly know when you’ve changed books, because it flows man. Like the river. Whoa.

Aaron and Bendis are what’s missing from Wood’s X-Men…ie HUMOUR. Wood’s X-(wo)Men would be a perfect DCU book.

Iceman is awesome. Seeing not 1, not, 2, not 3…oh ya.

Also explains why Kitty leaves the Jean Grey School (and Iceman), and why the All New (PAST) X-Men end up where they are.

Explains why Jean has some serious confusion about things.

There’s also a lot to not like:

SOOO MUCH ANGER!!! INFIGHTING! GARRRGH!

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This is from a documentary of my high school…I actually saw some kid flip a whole cafeteria table over during a MAGIC card game…it was awesome. I was hoping to see some spellcasting or at least a magic wand shoved somewhere dark, but no such luck…

If Hank McCoy is so smart, why has he continually fuct this up? Bringing people forward in time worked so well, why not bring more back in time? That oughta be cool right?

We get 3 versions of Beast, 2 Cyclops, 2 Jean (I mean…no…maybe we don’t? ummm…ya.) 4 Iceman…but only 1 Angel??? I mean seriously, he’s the only one who says “DUDES, WE DON’T BELONG HERE! LET US GO HOME TO THE LAND OF TV DINNERS AND HOTPANTS!”

Shockingly, there’s only 1 Wolverine, and that’s kinda telling, knowing what we know now.

There’s too many monologues and fighting, not enough questioning why, and then Kitty gets mad at the present X-Men (Wolverine’s gang) for trying to get Cyclops and Jean back when they run away (the past ones) and don’t want to go back…umm…isn’t that what you all knew you had to do to start with??? I mean I know letting people decide things for themselves was a good idea, but you can’t seriously think letting the teen X-Originals decide to run off and stay hiding in the present was a good idea?? Ugh. No.

There’s some cool characters we get to see:

Future Icem(e)n; Future Colossus, Magik gets to really let loose, we see how some of the X-kids do in the future (Quentin Quire) and we see what shit goes down (to a certain degree).

I love that Wolverine and Magneto come across as the voices of reason here…that’s too funny.

Iceman from the Future is great. Needs his own series, pronto. If it weren’t for Bobby Drake, I don’t think I’d have laughed once…”So If we’re going to the future, shouldn’t we pick up a sports almanac or something?”

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Yup. THAT is how you do time travel and funny.

This book really hovers into nearly DCU levels of seriousness…not loving it.
I can see how this isn’t really meant to be funny, but see the Iceman? Make-a-the-funny words? MORE OF THIS!

So, it’s OK, there’s a few nifty moments, but it also causes more problems than it solves.

It is what it is, and if you’re not an X-person, stay away. FAR AWAY!

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