RSS Feed
Jul 28

The X-Axis – 28 July 2013

Posted on Sunday, July 28, 2013 by Paul in x-axis

It’s a podcast weekend (and it’ll be a few weeks before we pick up again), so don’t forget to check that out in the post now.  Meanwhile…

Gambit #15 – Having largely tied up the storylines that covered its first year, Gambit finds itself in an odd position.  The series is being cancelled with issue #17, so it would feel a bit odd to start something completely new now.  On the other hand, you can’t really do several straight issues of filler to end the book.

The solution that James Asmus offers here is to effectively start a new story, but use the series to date as its springboard.  This being essentially a caper book, Gambit has been racing around the world doing high profile thievery for the duration of its run.  In doing so, it seems that he’s attracted a bit of competition, from people looking to get under his skin by pulling off the theft he’s dreamed of for years but has never actually managed to do.

Somewhat oddly, that theft is the bell of the New York Stock Exchange, which doesn’t really feel like something Gambit would care all that much about.  The story acknowledges the incongruity, and offers as an explanation that Gambit really wants to cause disruption to trading in a sort of Anonymous spirit.  I don’t really buy this on a number of levels.  I’m not convinced that stealing the bell would cause all that much disruption, but hey, maybe.  More to the point is that it feels like a cute idea that doesn’t really fit with Gambit, but which has been nailed on anyway.  I don’t believe Gambit cares enough about the politics to make this his dream job.  And if he really wanted to steal the bell, what was stopping him?

The real point in this story, though, is to have Gambit dwell on whether he wants to be a hero or a thief – has he got his kleptomaniac tendencies out of his system over the last year or so of stories, or does he really not belong in the X-Men?  In the context of this series it’s hardly a surprise that he chooses to embrace his identity as a thief, which leads to the perhaps inevitable return of the Thieves Guild.  An appearance by the Guild is always a prospect to greet with ambivalence, but if you’re trying to get to the core of what makes Gambit tick as a character, then you’ve kind of got to work with them.

It’s an issue with some lovely art by Clay Mann, particularly on the opening pages (the inking towards the end is noticeably less crisp), and Asmus does have Gambit’s voice down.  I’m not quite sure what the point is of a three-page interlude with aliens, which is presumably setting up something for future issues, but still seems dreadfully compressed.

Not a bad issue, and one that works hard to give the sense that the book is leading to some sort of natural conclusion instead of just marking time before the end.

Uncanny Avengers #10 – I think I’m going to have to try and find time to sit down and re-read this storyline from the start, because at this stage it’s all starting to become a bit of a blur.  It’s clear enough that the big threat here comes from the Apocalypse Twins, and that the core of the story is intended to be the heroes failing to work together and splitting into two groups.  But what exactly the twins are proposing to do remains terribly vague, as does the nature of Kang’s involvement.  This issue adds the new Horsemen to the mix – revived versions of Banshee, Sentry, Daken and Grim Reaper – but quite how that advances the plot beyond giving the heroes some more things to react to is altogether beyond me.  There are some good character moments in these scenes, and Remender seems to have a good handle on his cast.  And loosely, there’s some plot progress here, in the sense that the two splintered teams are both converging on the Twins.  But the whole thing still feels rather sprawling and unfocussed.  Like I say, perhaps it’ll take more shape on a re-read.

Wolverine #7 – “Mortal” is an issue devoted to selling the idea that Wolverine has lost his healing factor, and the impact on him.  This isn’t the first time something along these lines has been done (as the letters page admits), but there are plenty of nice details in this issue to get the premise across.  Some are fairly obvious – Wolverine has trouble adapting to how much alcohol he can really get away with drinking – but others are rather neater, such as him having to pay attention when shaving for the first time.  And when Hank claims to be looking for a cure, Wolverine rightly points out that he isn’t actually sick.  He’s just no longer special.  (In that way.  He’s still got the metal skeleton and the enhanced senses – and the claws, if he doesn’t mind the practical difficulties in getting them out.)  Thor puts in a cameo appearance to deliver a fabulously insensitive speech about how lucky Wolverine is to be mortal now.

Mirco Pierfederici’s art isn’t spectacular, but it’s entirely acceptable.  There’s a bit of plot advancement here too, to keep our attention for the next issue.  Mainly, though, this is a comparatively low key character piece that exists to get across the idea of how badly shaken Wolverine is about losing something he takes for granted, and Cornell gets that to work very well.

Wolverine and the X-Men #33 – Part 3 of the Hellfire Saga has the focus on Idie, in what I suppose we’re meant to take as tragic and ironic.  Idie has taken on board the Hellfire Academy’s lessons on life, but all this has done is to harden her (making her into an even more damaged character than she already was), and thus more of a threat to the Academy itself.  An apparently smitten Kade wants her to be the Black Queen, and she’s apparently about to accept until she realises that he was the one who shot Broo.  Ultimately she can’t bring herself to kill him and tries to escape with Quentin instead.

I see what it’s going for, but it faces the usual problem of stories where the Hellfire Brats are in the foreground – this is just far too far removed from any sort of recognisable human behaviour to carry weight.  It’s not simply that the Hellfire Academy is silly; it’s that it doesn’t feel as though it even maps on to anything in the real world, with any degree of exaggeration.  When characters criticise the Academy’s approach to education, they might as well be lamenting Dick Dastardly’s approach to pigeon interception.  The Academy is fine for comedy, but it can’t support drama.

Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted #3 – If you’re wondering how these issues compare to print editions in terms of content, then DC’s Batman 66 collections may give an answer – they seem to run at two digital stories making one print issue.  Granted, that print issue is a pretty heavily compromised version of the story, which, after all, is designed primarily for the “Infinite” format (or what Comixology chooses to call “Guided View Native”, which I suppose at least has the advantage of being neutral between publishers).  But it still means that by charging full price for the digital edition, Marvel (and DC) are seeking a hefty premium on these things.

Wolverine’s essentially absent from this issue, though he gets talked about a lot.  This issue contains some material re-establishing the gimmick of the new Silver Samurai, and then an extended scene in which the Japanese authorities hire the Hand to bring in Wolverine.  Much of the real interest there lies in Kojima, the undercover Hand agent we saw in the police last issue, who is understandably none too impressed with the leadership style of Sabretooth.  The story seems to be removing him from the board, but he’s given enough prominence that you have to wonder.  The theme of this version of the Silver Samurai is that he has one foot in the past and the other in the future; he wouldn’t reject Sabretooth simply for being different from what’s gone before, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be completely uncritical of the Hand being led by a jumped-up thug.

It’s a nice enough scene, and the weekly pacing is enough to make it work.  But it’s a hell of a pricey format, even by today’s standards.

Bring on the comments

  1. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    Maybe Cornell’s dealt with this, but the last time I remember Wolvering losing his healing factor, didn’t he start dying of adamantium poisoning or something?

  2. Beast gives him a “we don’t want to deal with that” booster shot.

  3. Dave says:

    Charging extra, effectively, for digital comics is completely bone-headed. I suppose maybe they sell less? But even then one way to try to improve sales would be to CHARGE LESS.

  4. CWW says:

    I’m sort of liking Uncanny Avengers but I do feel like they sold us all a bill of goods on that one. It was originally pitched as “Avengers and mutants work together and face off against the Red Skull.” But then it feels like Remender dropped the Red Skull storyline and just decided to make it a sequel to his Uncanny X-Force run. I’ve been catching up on that series way late in trades (which are only coming out now) but already I’ve been spoiled on the ending of that series by Uncanny Avengers.

  5. Rhuw Morgan says:

    To be fair the DC ones are only 69p each, so work out cheaper than the issues which collect 2. Marvels meanwhile are 1.99, but they haven’t announced if their getting collected yet, but i’d imagine they’d be 2-3 to an issue as their a bit smaller than the dc ones (70-80 screens to DCs 90-110)

  6. Tdubs says:

    So did the unity team split up for missions or disband into two groups? I read it as them breaking up and it just so happened it wasn’t along mutant and avenger lines.
    This book is really turning into an over hyped dud for me and that’s a shame. I really wanted this to be an epic book.
    I groan at the fact the added McNiven to this book. It really could be a book a newer artist could make a name on.

  7. errant says:

    Is Alan Davis still considered the “regular” penciller (if such a term still exists) on Wolverine? Because at issue #7, the last 3 issues have been by a “fill-in” artist.

  8. wwk5d says:

    Uncanny Avengers still interests me, but it has been rather underwhelming. Maybe Paul is right, and it will read better in the long run, but so far…meh.

  9. Paul says:

    “So did the unity team split up for missions or disband into two groups?”

    Cap kicked Wolverine out of the Avengers on learning that he had killed Daken, and half the team walked out with him. Technically the rest of Wolverine’s squad are still in the Avengers but AWOL.

  10. Marilyn Merlot says:

    Good to know Captain America remembered Wolverine’s killed thousands of people.

  11. Marc says:

    Did anyone else who read Wolverine & The X-Men find it creepy that Idie put on the bondage/corset outfit from Jean? Idie says in the first few pages that she’s 14 years old, but she still wears it.

    I don’t know the exact age of Jean Grey when she became the Dark Phoenix, but wasn’t she around 22 or 23? So how can Idie fit into it at all?

    If Idie was 17, you could make a semi-logical case from it, but considering that 14 is well below most country’s age of consent, it just came across as exploitative and almost verging on child porn.

  12. Anthony Blackwood says:

    You should write a review for The Wolverine. I would love to hear your thoughts!

  13. Alex says:

    I thought he meant it metaphorically that there hadn’t been a Black Queen since Jean.

    Not that it makes the act any less pervy.

  14. wwk5d says:

    She was around 25. I remember one of the captions said she was “barely a quarter of a century old”?

  15. Andy Walsh says:

    From a story perspective, I think we were meant to be uncomfortable with Idie in that outfit. I know myself, as soon as Kade showed it to her, I was thinking “I really don’t want to see such a young lady wearing that.”

    However, I don’t think the art really communicated that effectively, since she was drawn in a rather conventionally pin-uppy way and looking a bit more than 14.

  16. The original Matt says:

    Uncanny Avengers is still dealing with the Red Skull thing. The Apocalypse Twins came back to the time period to prevent the Red Skull Onslaught from taking place. So, in terms of things, the onslaught is just around the corner. Plus they are freeing themselves from Kangs manipulations as well.

    Frankly, I love this book. It’s pretty dense when it comes to story lines and I think no one idea is shining through to the surface properly enough, but it’s all there.

    And Paul, wolverine was kicked out for killing the original Evan – or at least for being the team leader for that mission when it happened.

  17. Niall says:

    One word: Boyo.

  18. Adam says:

    It’s not hard to imagine Idie fitting in Jean’s clothing; many 14-yr. olds and 22-yr. olds can wear each other’s clothing.

  19. Matt Andersen says:

    [quote]It’s not hard to imagine Idie fitting in Jean’s clothing[/quote]

    I dont think its a matter of “can she wear a bondage costume” so much as “isn’t this kind of creepy”

    Claremont’s obsession with sexual bondage was itself kind of creepy, even back in the 80s when he still toned it down. But he at least stuck to people who were unambiguously adults. Jason Aaron, on the other hand, is writing a story about a middle school girl becoming a dominatrix. I just rolled my eyes and tried to ignore it, personally, but I can’t understand other people having a more visceral reaction and wanting to punch him in the face

  20. ASV says:

    The new Uncanny Avengers also spoils the resolution of Remender’s big Captain America arc, unfortunately. Not that it’s likely Cap was going to be stuck in another dimension forever, but the “how” was still an open question as of Cap #9.

  21. wwk5d says:

    “I thought he meant it metaphorically that there hadn’t been a Black Queen since Jean.”

    Selene doesn’t count?

  22. The original Matt says:

    Those “time moved different and I’ve been gone for 10 years” stories always bugged me. People look different after 10 years. Why don’t people look at him and go “hey cap, you look fucking old today, man. Maybe the serum is wearing off??”

  23. kingderella says:

    uncanny avengers is a little too dense for its own good, but then again, the “dark angel saga” was also full of characters and plot points, to the point where it was very hard to keep track of the details. it all came together beautifully in a graceful finale, so one tends to forget that. i think its a weakness in remenders writing.

    rogues voice is still way off.
    im absolutely loving acunas art.

  24. The original Matt says:

    You know what? After years of Bendis, I’m happy for dense plotting.

  25. ZZZ says:

    That’s not supposed to be the same outfit Jean wore. Aside from the fact that Jean’s Black Queen outfit was destroyed when she turned into Dark Phoenix, Kilgore’s exact words are: “How would you like to be the new Black Queen of the Hellfire Club? This is, of course, a great honor. One previously held by none other than Jean Grey herself.”

    He’s CLEARLY talking about the positon, not the clothing. He just happens to be holding the clothes at the time.

    @The original Matt – I’m pretty sure Cap doesn’t really age; at least not at a rate you’d notice after only 10 years. Remember, the reason that Nick Fury Sr. looks only a little bit older in 2013 than he did in the 1940s is because he got a knock-off version of the serum that Cap got the brand name version of. (Yeah, I know, comic book time; but unlike Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, Nick Fury’s WWII service is still canon).

  26. arseface says:

    On the whole, I am enjoying Remender’s Avengers run a whole lot more than Hickman’s.

    Every time I have tried to read a Hickman series, my interest has tailed off after a half dozen or so issues (I couldn’t stick with Fantastic Four or Secret Warriors). I appreciate it is clever, but it lacks emotional involvement, humour or sense of peril. So many plot points are introduced that I feel I should be taking notes.

    Remender’s storylines, while also dense, do at least seem to build as they go along.

  27. The original Matt says:

    I think the difference between Remender and Hickman runs is the cast. Hickman has so many characters that the events happening, while should feel epic, don’t have an emotional connection to the reader because the responders are whoever happens to be around at the time.

    You could shed the cast in half very easily. Wolverine has had maybe 3 lines of dialogue in the 16 or so issues, and while wolverine certainly doesn’t need to be in another book, why is he there at all if he’s not being used?

    The thing I like about uncanny avengers the most, and uncanny x-force before it, is the cast is tight and focused. We get into their heads and know how they feel about the situations, and how they feel about each other. They’re squabbling, splitting up, forming new friendships.

    Not to say I’m not interested in the story Hickman is telling – I’m certainly going to pick up Infinity, but that’s the difference that sticks out to me, and informs why I like one book over the other.

    I was going to draw parallels to Fraction UXM run, but it committed far more crimes than just not having a tight cast.

  28. Alex says:

    I loved the start of Hickman’s Avengers, but now it feels like it’s running in place until the big event book starts.

    Never liked the Illuminati gimmick (in the MU), so I read the other Avengers book begrudingly.

  29. Dave says:

    The team splitting in UA bothers me, because there’s bound to be a load of other books (I know there’s a couple already) where Wolvy and Cap are working together just fine.

  30. Spaffle says:

    You might want to keep this phrase – ” … quite how that advances the plot beyond giving the heroes some more things to react to is altogether beyond me.” – copied somewhere, as I think it will prove exceptionally useful in reviewing about 75% of the current x-books.

Leave a Reply