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Aug 15

The X-Axis – 15 August 2009

Posted on Sunday, August 15, 2010 by Paul in Uncategorized

Don’t forget that there’s a podcast this weekend, which you’ll find a couple of posts further down.  Or, hey, just click here if you can’t face the arduous scroll.  This week, Al and I talk about the first issues of Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, Morning Glories and Captain America: Forever Allies.

If you’re one of the readers who was disappointed that I skipped the last WWE pay-per-view, well, you’ll be pleased to hear that my Summerslam preview is already up.

And now, comics!

Incidentally, one thing about American comics is that the adverts only change once a month.  Which is a shame, because that bloody Hulk advert is really starting to annoy me.  Not exactly conducive to mood, is it?

Mind you, they’ve evidently got pages to fill.  Picking the nearest book to hand, Daredevil #509 has eight pages of adverts during the story.   Two are for licensed Marvel merchandise.  The other six are house ads.  One of those six pages is an advert for Wolverine #1, which also appears on the inside front cover.  It’s clearly not a very cheerful time to be working in Marvel’s advertising department.  DC are doing rather better, thanks in large part to the generosity of NBC, who are very keen to make sure we’re all aware of the upcoming launch of The Event.  Needless to say, they just remind me of the Mitchell & Webb sketches.

But I digress.

Daredevil #509 – It’s rather odd seeing Roberto de la Torre’s art attached to the plot of a summer crossover.  At first glance Daredevil seems to be covering much the same ground as the Shadowland miniseries.  But in this book, they seem to be trying to focus more on Matt himself and characters directly linked to him, and playing down the horde of guest stars.  I think that’s for the best, since my main issue with Shadowland is that it’s the latest stage in the long-running saga of Daredevil going steadily mad; it’s his story, and it doesn’t really benefit from having a squad of unrelated characters show up to fight redshirt ninjas in the background.  But this series seems to be holding closer to what the original story ought to be about, with the only guest stars being Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Typhoid Mary (who’s a Daredevil character to start with, though the need to bring readers up to speed on her status quo means that the story has to pull up for a page so that she can recap Avengers: The Initiative).  So, great art, and a closer focus on the bit of the story that actually matters – this is better than the Shadowland mini.  I still think it’s a shame that the story has lost some of the ambiguity about how much Matt understands what’s going on, but on the whole this book is continuing to hold my interest in the plot.

Dark Wolverine #89 – Well, this is just dreadful.  It’s an extended fight scene, and not a particularly inventive one, and that’s literally it.  I’d write more, but what about?

Daytripper #9 – The penultimate issue of the series finally breaks from the format of the earlier chapters.  I won’t go into too much detail about how it does so, because I’d recommend breaking from the format.  But basically, this seems to be an attempt to pull together the threads of everything we saw in the previous issue – or rather, to jumble up elements from the moments that earlier issues focussed on, and turn them into a kind of mosaic of Bras’ life as a whole.  The really interesting thing, though, is that this issue could have worked quite happily as the series finale in its own right – yes, it would be a bit sentimental, but Daytripper is one of those rare books that manages to be sentimental without being mawkish.  But with another issue still to go, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba evidently aren’t resting at that; they’ve got more to add.  One of the best Vertigo books in years, this.

Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1 – Misty Knight, the Shroud, Silver Sable and Paladin – together at last?!  I may have reservations about the number of guest stars that Shadowland is pouring into a Daredevil story, but at least the event is steering clear of the usual suspects and trying to do something with some of Marvel’s underused characters.  I’ve always quite liked the Shroud, although this story plays him more as a straight vigilante, when he used to be some sort of undercover superhero posing as a villain.  There’s also some good material with Misty Knight, playing off her understandable reluctance to accept that Matt has gone off the deep end.  And, as usual with Marvel events, the miniseries does seem to be relatively self-contained – it’s about the cast reacting to Matt’s bizarre ninja vigilante justice programme, not about them getting involved directly in the main story.  As against that, the cast do feel a bit random, and at this stage it’s far from obvious why they belong in the same story together.  Still, it’s a decent superhero/crime story in the margins of Shadowland, and it’s nice to see some of these characters getting an outing for a change.

Unwritten #16 – In which Tom’s dad explains everything, except he doesn’t, because the other characters don’t know what he’s talking about.  Plenty to pore over here, if you want to try and figure out what’s meant to be going on.  Now, the danger with a book like this is that it becomes all about the ideas and loses sight of the characters.  But Carey gets the balance right here – there’s a nice subplot with Lizzie Hexam discovering that she has far less clue what’s going on than she thought she did, and a really good ending which nicely wrongfoots the reader and gives us a satisfying moment which we weren’t expecting.  Always a book that I particularly look forward to reading.

X-Force: Sex & Violence #2 – This is a three-issue miniseries that bridges the gap until X-Force gets relaunched – though from the look of it, that’s more in terms of filling the schedule than advancing any plot.  It’s actually a Wolverine/Domino story where Domino has screwed over some bad guys, they’re out for revenge, and Wolverine has to help her out.  Now, X-Force under Craig Kyle and Chris Yost has not been a subtle title at the best of times, and this book is even less than subtle than its parent.  It’s so unsubtle, in fact, that it has the “Explicit Content” tag more commonly seen on Max books (presumably earned mainly by a two-page sex scene, which isn’t visually explicit so much as extremely vigorous).  That said, X-Force was also notable for taking everything painfully seriously, and this book unquestionably doesn’t.  It’s an unapologetically silly action book, and on that level, it works.  Gabriele Dell’Otto’s art is packed with energy, and the script is making no pretence of anything but blissful superficiality.  It’s got Razorfist in it, for heaven’s sake.  (Domino on Razorfist: “Wait!  Don’t kill him!  We need to insult him first!”  It’s that sort of book.)  Lightweight, to be sure, but knowingly and enthusiastically lightweight, and that’s fine by me.

X-Men #2 – In this issue: the X-Men fight some more vampires; Blade shows up to lend a hand and explain what happened in the prologue; and Jubilee’s turning into a vampire.  It’s not bad.  Victor Gischler has got the voices of the characters well, and the story is solidly put together.  Cyclops hits on the obvious plot point immediately, and as expected, we’re doing a story where the X-Men have to revive Dracula before the vampires overwhelm San Francisco.  That’s fine as far as it goes.  But we’ve kind of lost sight of the internal politics among the vampires that made the prologue issue interesting, and this doesn’t feel like it’s going to be anything more than a story where the X-Men fight a whole load of baddies – not really a strong enough concept to launch a new title with, though it’d be an acceptable few issues for a comic already well underway.  As for the art, I’m not sure this makes the best use of Paco Medina, who’s an artist most at home with bold lines and strong colours.  He’s also not very good with swords, which is unfortunate when you’ve got Blade in the book.  (Is he supposed to be slitting the vampires’ throats?  Decapitating them?  Might the point come across more clearly if he raised a sword above waist height?)  It’s a perfectly adequate X-Men story for the hardcore X-fans, but I don’t see this being the huge event that Marvel seem to paint it as.

X-Men Forever 2 #5 – The good thing about fortnightly titles is that if you get a story that isn’t particularly gripping – such as another go-round with the Morlocks – at least it’ll be over quickly.  And Claremont has indeed zipped through this one in only two issues, having indulged his fondness for PG-rated body horror with Masque temporarily mutilating some of the cast before putting them back together at the end.  The sort of story that feels like it’s there mainly to keep the book ticking over while some longer-term subplots develop in the background.  Somewhere in here, there’s a rather odd attempt to absolve Sabretooth of the Morlock Massacre by claiming that the Sabretooth in that story was a clone.  Apparently, Claremont feels that even the ultra-liberal X-Men wouldn’t open their doors to Sabretooth if he had that on his CV.  Not altogether sure I buy that, to be honest.  I know Claremont isn’t bound by the way the characters were developed by other writers after 1991, but even if you leave the Morlock Massacre aside, Sabretooth’s still a serial killer.  (Isn’t he?)  Anyway… not a story I was particularly enthralled by, but hey, it’s two issues.

Bring on the comments

  1. Paul C says:

    The art by Roberto de la Torre & Matt Hollingsworth has been a real delight as they capture the mood & tone of the book perfectly. I too am enjoying the Daredevil title more than the Shadowland main mini for exactly the reasons you stated – we get time with the likes of White Tiger & Foggy Nelson as opposed to the umpteenth appearance of Spider-Man or Iron Man or Captain America who only appear so as to put them on the preview pages in an attempt by Marvel to sell to as wide an audience as possible.

    Nothing really wrong with that from a business sense, but it is far more enjoyable spending time with those aforementioned core characters.

    Blood on the Streets was also quite fun. This event has been pretty solid thus far.

    As an aside, ugh, That Mitchell & Webb Look was never a particularly great sketch show, but this recent series has been absolutely atrocious.

  2. The original Matt says:

    I remember reading an interview with Claremont YEARS ago now, where he stated that his intention was for the Sabretooth that showed up with Sinister’s crew to be a clone. The real Sabretooth was always just hanging around watching Wolverine, with zero interest in the X-men. If I remember correctly, the interview either stated, or heavily implied, that Claremont’s intention was for Sabretooth to be Wolverine’s father. I know this has been pointed out before, but I’m mentioning it here because it seems to be the very Sabretooth story that he’s telling in X-M:F.

  3. Rhuw Morgan says:

    The greatest thing with those “Logan Goes to Hell” adverts is that the inside front cover one states October 2010 as the start date and then the one on the middle pages has it starting in Sepetember 2010.

  4. …”the event?” Is this a real thing? Have I missed a meeting?


  5. Dan Coyle says:

    Byrne has said he wanted Sabretooth to be Wolverine’s father.

  6. Nate says:

    From everything that Marvel’s said and even a few small interviews with Gischler, the new X-Men series is going to effectively be X-Men Team-up. It’ll only ever be for the hardcores like myself. And even I’m not that interested in it (At least not until they get rid of this General Cyclops plot thread).

    While I enjoyed that X-Force story, the sex scenes seem so out of place. There’s no lead up. It’s just innuendo then sex on the next page. Domino and Wolverine managed to work together and have sex before without the comic sounding like it was written by porn producers. It’s a just little too jarring.

  7. maxwell's hammer says:

    I’m not one of those clamoring for more X-Men titles, and god knows I could do without vampires, but it is kind of refreshing to have a somewhat straightforward plot. ‘Uncanny’ has been on the verge of being interesting more than it actually has been interesting. It just sort of meanders around general high-concepts and lacks in specifics.

    As for ‘Shadowland’…’Daredevil’ has become just another by-the-numbers comic book which is the opposite of engaging. ‘Daredevil’ is the first still-ongoing book I’ve dropped from my pull-list in a loooong time.

  8. Nostalgia says:

    I’ve been enjoying Daredevil, but I think Shadowland could have waited a few months before beginning. In the the first arc we see Daredevil talking about creating Shadowland, in the second arc he goes to Japan, and then in the current arc Shadowland is built and everyone’s freaking out about it. It would have been nice to see a couple stories with the place built and Daredevil in New York before everything went down.

  9. Kreniigh says:

    X-Men #2 — ugh. I must disagree that the character voices were well done; Storm sounded off, and Dr. Nemesis was unrecognizable. More than that, the “revive Dracula” idea — that’s your first plan? I could see a story where it turns out to be a last resort, but this really feels like the characters are making decisions to serve the plot, not out of any logic.

    And finally, I know there’s history with Storm and vampires, but they’re a bad fit for the X-Men — moreso than the Starjammers ever were — and this whole story only works if you ignore most previous vampire stories in the MU. Suddenly there are all these ancient clans, when not too long ago, every vampire in the universe was destroyed? For that matter, how could the writer miss the parallels between the mutant race coming back from the verge of extinction, and the vampires coming back from literal extinction? Ah well.

  10. AndyD says:

    X-Force has Razorfist? Lol. Of all those wacky Moench creations back then, Razorfist was truly one of the more bizarre. (Of course nothing tops Brynocki!) I wanna be a kung fu assassin, cut off my hands and replace them with razors. That really will show them.

  11. Valhallahan says:

    I’m not actually reading Curse… it because I thought it sounded silly, which is weird, because when Paul Cornell was having Dracula sailing a pirate ship full of vampires from the his castle on the moon I thought it sounded awesome. I guess that’s because he embraced the silliness of it and went balls out, instead of playing it totally straight.

    I’m surprised they made Dracula so unrecognisable, I hope the World of Warhammer look doesn’t stick.

    I’m quite tempted to pick up Sex and Violence.

    Loving Daytripper.

  12. Omar Karindu says:

    Every vampire who was ever killed was revived by a complicated magical ritual back in the last issue of Marc Guggenheim’s Blade series, so the ancient clans thing isn’t that much of a problem.

  13. Ash says:

    All magic rituals aside, I have a problem with these so-called ancient clans, because aside from the vampire Atlanteans, nomadic gypsies, biker gangs, and Dracula, none of these other vampire clans have managed to show up in the Marvel Universe until now.

    And why is Dracula suddenly looking like he’s cosplaying Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII?

  14. Martin Smith says:

    What better time to reinvent your style than when you’re getting resurrected?

  15. Omar Karindu says:

    A number of ancient vampire clans turned up in the terrible, horrible, no good very bad Tomb of Dracula mini by Bruce Jones. Maybe Gischler’s riffing on that?

  16. And why should The Vampyar be any less of a gang or a family or a cult than The X-Men?

    Isn’t that what The X-Men do best? Fight other gangs?

    (that sounds cynical, and it’s not really meant to. Sorry.)


  17. Tim O'Neil says:

    I am honestly a little surprised you aren’t enjoying Daken vs. Frankencastle. Honestly, it’s the most enjoyable fight I’ve seen in ages, considering the fact that these guys truly hate each other and the readers have a lot invested in seeing them wail on one another in a most enjoyable fashion. It’s been quite cathartic to see Daken – sans the overwhelming logistical support of Osborne, HAMMER and the Dark Avengers – get completely outclassed by an undead Punisher who is barely operating at half-capacity.

  18. Paul says:

    Punisher readers may have a reason to care about the fight, but it’s got nothing to do with anything from Daken’s stories.

  19. The original Matt says:

    Wouldn’t logic suggest that if Daken is taking such a hefty beating early he is going to win the fight?

    I’m not reading it, mind you, but if Punisher is taking to Daken in the Bugs/Daffy fashion, then it won’t make for very dramatic story telling if Daken just gets pummelled for a few issues, and losses. That could’ve been cleared up in one issue.

    Granted, Punisher fans no doubt want to see Daken get his arse handed to him by the now undead vigilante, but realistically, if Frank is going to win, the fight has to at least be fair for a little while to make victory satisfying.

    Look at the first fight, (and I know rooting for the villian is unusual) but when Daken FINALLY got his claws on the Punisher, he’d earned it.

    (Yes, I know Daffy never ended up winning, but let’s not get into target audience stuff…)

  20. Kreniigh says:

    Upon reflection, the new ancient vampire clans remind me of those dreadful werewolf things from Chuck Austin’s run, or the Neo. As in, we’re expected to believe that this bunch has been around all this time without playing a role in any big storylines involving vampires/werewolves/mutants?

    The problems of playing in a shared universe with so much history. I expect that at some future point when M-Day and the 198 are a faded memory, we will see introduced a lost society of mutants who’ve been hidden away for centuries in the Savage Land.

  21. Tim O'Neil says:

    Paul, I disagree completely. Daken’s story up to now has been that of a classic heel. He’s been smarmy and smug since his first appearance, someone who as yet has refused to learn anything from his circumstances.
    The only way he’s going to learn anything – and, most likely, this is the long-term direction of his storyline – is for him to get his ass-kicked over and over again before he starts to wise up. They touched on this during the Moses Magnum story during Dark Reign, and now that Osborne’s gone we’re seeing Daken forced to deal with the consequences of his own terrible decisions. This is *absolutely* his story, and we’re likely to see more in this vein (ie, he will keeps getting the shit beat out of him by overmatched opponents) in his new series.

    Getting repeatedly brutalized by the Punisher – and I don’t doubt that Frank will come out on top by the end of the story, although obviously not lethally – will be a “learning experience” for the character. I can’t stand Daken, but I suspect that is an intentional effect, so I am enjoying rooting for Frank to cream the brat in as many creative ways as possible.

  22. Paul says:

    Yes, but Daken’s attack on the Punisher has never previously been mentioned either in this book or in its parent title Wolverine: Origins, so from the perspective of someone who only reads the X-books, it’s not a case of an earlier story coming home to roost – it’s just a crossover killing time before the book is relaunched in September. This is really a story they ought to be doing in FRANKEN-CASTLE with Daken as a guest star, and even then it wouldn’t be inventive enough to sustain four issues of fight scene.

    Besides which, Daken’s been around for four years in which time his character has advanced only minimally, and his solo title has almost immediately degenerated into filler stories. I have, frankly, no faith that the character has a direction of any sort, long term or otherwise. I think they’re floundering trying to figure out what to do with him as a protagonist.

  23. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    I think Gischler’s vampires are decidedly more interesting than Austin’s whatever-the-hell-they-were’s. Austin just had his creations show up, and there only seemed to be three or four of them and it all boiled down to a brawl then it was over.

    The vampire stuff is nominally more interesting since there has been a history of vampires in the MU, Gischler did the one-shot that fleshed out their society and motivations, and their plan is more than just “Let us now stand around and pose and be evil and rule the world!”. The vampires actually carried out a plan with wide-reaching consequences (even if they’ll probably be confined to X-Men and never referenced in any book outside of the 73 X-Vampire crossover minis). As a story, it has a purpose that Austin never would have conceived of.

    And this is coming from someone who thought the whole vampire thing was a horrible money-grab of an idea.

  24. Nick says:

    Just noticed that the date in the title is 2009. You may want to fix that.

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