About Chris

Chris is a writer, a tax payer, a photographer, a New Jersey resident, but most of all he likes comic books just like you.

Uncanny X-Men #158 and 159: The Time They Broke Into the Pentagon

Uncanny-X-Men-158Talk about two issues that have completely different plots! Uncanny X-Men  #158 and 159 have the X-Men travelling between Washington DC and Manhattan.

In issue #158 Storms and Wolverine go about breaking into the Pentagon to delete all the files that the military has about the X-Men. They do this because Ms. Marvel has been hanging out with them and happens to have the credentials to get them in the door. This is also the type of plot you get when your writer, in this case Chris Claremont, is writing two different comic series at the same time and wants a crossover.

While in the Pentagon, Wolvie and Storm wind up throwing down with both Rogue and Mystique, who are independently getting into trouble there. It’s just a weird series of events, and I think it ended with Ms. Marvel deleting some of the information that the Pentagon had on her.

uncanny-x-men-159.Issue #159 has the X-Men dealing with Storm, who has been been turned into a vampire thanks to a vampire bite from Dracula.

You read that right…Dracula.

The X-Men race to find a cure but aren’t successful. There is lots of fighting with the new and vampire improved Storm, who royally kicks the crap out of them.

Then in a weird twist of niceness, Dracula shows that he isn’t really that bad of a guy and returns her to her normal form. Total waste of an issue.

Uncanny X-Men #154: When Dad Comes To Visit

uncanny-x-men-154I read some more Uncanny X-Men from the Chris Claremont era. This issue seems to have a million different artists on it (including Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek) and starts off in typical Claremont fashion with the X-Men in the Danger Room.

Activity time doesn’t last too long, as Corsair and the Starjammers pay a visit to the X-Men. Along the way they manage to stop an alien invasion of some sort, Corsair reveals to Cyclops that he is his father (which the uni-eyed hero doesn’t or doesn’t want to believe) and it’s revealed   that the Shi’ar are blaming the good people of Earth and the Starjammers for the disappearance of their beloved empress Lilandra.

Along the way we get to see Professor X in one of the worst outfits that he’s ever graced a comic book in: a yellow safari outfit, complete with hat. He looks like he’s more mentally equipped to be a zookeeper that looks after Curious George instead of being the premier advocate of mutant kind. But then again, it’s the eighties everyone.

Uncanny X-Men #139: Exposition Junction

The X-Men are still reeling from the loss of Jean Grey (who died as a result of the whole Dark Phoenix Saga) and Cyclops (who has gone on leave, since his girlfriend was Jean and all). That said, there is a lot of exposition in this issue from the Claremont/Byrne era..

The team is getting used to having Storm calling the shots, which isn’t too much of a problem for anyone. Angel is still trying to work his way back into the team, and, well, sucks at it.

Kitty Pryde has officially joined the X-Men as an active member, and there’s a series of panels of her trying to come up with a code name that is just so annoying. No wonder everyone thought she was so insufferable.

The most interesting part of the comics is the Wolverine and Nightcrawler subplot, with them going off to Canada to resolve some of Wolvie’s unfinished business with the government and wind up going Wendigo hunting. It also seems to be the first issue of Wolvie in his brown/yellow costume and the first instance of him being called Logan to boot.

Figment #2

It makes perfect sense that Marvel would put out some Disney-themed comics. When they announced that there would be a Figment series, I will admit that I was a little skeptical. The little purple dragon is one of the most beloved characters in all of the Disney Parks and has a lot of emotional cache. It would be hard to do him justice. 

But the creative team of Jim Zub and Filipe Andrade managed to do it.

The second issue has Figment and the Dreamfinder–who has the birth name of Blarion Mercurial–traveling into another dimension through some sort of interdimensional riff. As they explore a realm with furry creatures and small elves that look like they were straight out of Avatar, alien robots are coming through into London.

Figment is a very light, whimsical fantasy book that is suitable for all ages. It reminds me of the Adventure Time comics in a way. But what makes this a good read is that it captures the spirit of the original theme park ride. 

Uncanny X-Men #135

 

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Uncanny X-Men #135 is a key part in the Dark Phoenix Saga. Basically Phoenix goes completely nuts, killing off all the nice people in the picture above. So why do we care so much?

By this point it becomes perfectly clear to the rest of the X-Men that Jean Grey is gone and that the Phoenix Force has completely taken over her physical form. Unfortunately, there isn’t much left that they can do to stop her, short of killing her.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #1-4

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Thanks to Tom Hiddleston’s awesome portrayal in the Thor movies and to Kieron Dwyer’s writing the last few years, Loki has never been this popular. How popular? He gets a new solo series called Loki: Agent of Asgard.

The premise is pretty straight-forward; in exchange for forgiving his prior sins, the All-Mother have enlisted Loki into their service to do their bidding. Through this first story arc, Loki has to retrieve the magical sword Gram which Odin had once planned on giving his adopted son should he be worthy. With his weapon retrieved, his first assignment is tracking down Sigurd the Everglorious, the previous holder of Gram, and return him to Asgardia.

Al Ewing basically crafted what you would expect from a Loki comic book.There is a good mix of humor, trickery and even the lead character pulling a fast one on the dark one himself Mephisto. The art on the book is great too.

Basically, Loki is a comic book for people who don’t want to read about super heroes, yet like super heroes. I think this is a series I’m going to revisit in a while so I can binge read.

X-Men #4

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Happy Father’s Day!

Brian Wood’s X-Men #4 seems to be a fill-in issue, as it is mostly self-contained and features art by David Lopez. There’s two really interesting stories going on that mostly show the more emotional parts of these characters.

As the cover shows, the main one features Wolverine and Jubilee, as they visit the mall where the X-Men first wound up encountering her many years ago. Through their conversation, it really shows how she has matured through the years and now that she has her son Shogo in her life, she really is an adult. You also really get a look into her relationship with Wolverine, who really treats her like his daughter. He winds up buying her childhood home so she has a place to raise the child.

The rest of the X-Men are trying to rescue a crashing airplane, which should be simple if not routine for them. However, this new group is still trying to get their team dynamics under control if they’re going to save the day. Spoil alert: they did. And quite frankly I didn’t care that much, as the scenes with Wolverine and Jubilee were so good.

Nightwing #30

I’ll admit it; sometimes I purchase comics because of the hype that is around them. And that is precisely why I bought Nightwing #30. It features the debut of the New 52 (although it feels really odd still calling it that nearly three years later) of Helena Bertinelli, better known as the Huntress.

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The issue starts out at a refugee medical camp in the Congo that has fallen under attack by a “depopulationist” group called the Fist of Cain, which is made up of some of the most random looking assassins and murderers they could hire. One is decked out in corpse paint, looking like the lovechild of a Norwegian black metal band and King Diamond. The other looks like he walked straight out of Disney World’s Adventurers Club.

One of the relief workers was Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Batman’s long-time doctor. She is conveniently rescued by Helena, who is wearing some sort of white disco suit and has a bit of a fro going on. Leslie is taken to her headquarters where she talks with a man with an unrecognizable face and might have spilled the beans about Batman being Bruce Wayne. We know this because she’s telling Batman the story, and he doesn’t look too happy. Leslie also mentions the group has a weird insignia that she keeps remembering, an eye at the center of a spider-web.

The story then shifts to the Batcave, where Batman and Nightwing are involved in some sort of weird Fight Club style conversation. Basically in the last few months Nightwing has had his secret identity revealed by the Crime Syndicate, turned into a living bomb and apparently “killed” by Lex Luthor. It has been quite the rough past few months for him. So instead of talking about why he should join the cover black-ops group Spyral, they have a fight to the death to see if he is up to the challenge. Of course he is. The book ends with Dick going off with Valerie, setting up the new Grayson series for next month.

As an issue, it nicely ties up everything from the Nightwing series, but I really could have done without the Bats/Dick fight to the death. It just seemed over the top. I think Batman really needs to learn how to communicate with people without using his fists so damn much.

Uncanny X-Men #244

Uncanny X-Men #244 is the debut of everyone’s favorite firework/firecracker thrower Jubilee into the X-Universe! The story is by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri.

Jubilee has been causing a ruckus at the local mall with her mutant powers (this is so late 1980s it makes me sick!), causing the local mall security to call in the M Squad. Basically they are a private mutant hunting group that you call in. Instead of being pest control for mice, they hunt super humans.

Back at the X-Men’s temporary headquarters in the Australian outback, things are getting difficult for the X-Women. Mostly they just hate it there.

So Dazzler winds up convincing them that they need a day at the shopping mall to cheer them up. Things get weird with her, Storm, Psylocke and Rogue shopping and eventually going to a male revue. You read that right. What kind of shopping mall is this?

Eventually the M-Squad finds the X-Women and there’s a bit of a light scuffle between the two groups. The M-Squad are more like the Keystone Cops, and it’s up to the mutants to save everyone in the mall! As they teleport back home, Jubilee decides to join them and runs into the portal just in time.

X-Men #1-3: Primer

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It’s ladies night!

I keep forgetting how awesome a writer Brian Wood is and the first three issues of X-Men are just another example.

This volume of X-Men focuses mainly on the female characters in the X-Universe which is a first. Quite frankly, it’s about time.

The story starts with Jubilee showing up at the X-Mansion with her baby (well I should say adopted baby that she found) Shogo because the sentient bacteria creature named John Sublime has been stalking them. I thought this was a new character, but it turns out that he’s been around since the early 1990s.

After being stopped by an X-Men squad of Psylocke, Storm, Rogue, Rachel Summers and Shadowcat, Sublime reveals why he was stalking Jubilee and Shogo. It turns out his evil sister Arkea–who is also an evil bacteria organism herself–was travelling around on Shogo’s body. Things get worse when Arkea then infects the unconscious body of Omega Sentinel and the X-Men have to find a way to stop Arkea without using lethal force.

Wood just hits this one out of the park; everyone in this book gets equal story time. Now I know I’m biased because I like all these characters, but everyone comes across looking really important. He even managed to make Sublime and Arkea interesting.

On the art side, Olivier Coipel is no slouch. What a great way to start a new series.

Hip Hop Family Tree Free Comic Book Day 2014

hip hop family treeThe whole purpose of Free Comic Book Day is for publishers to get new readers to pick up their books by offering a sample. Artist/writer Ed Piskor and his publisher Fantagraphics hit one out of the park with the Hip Hop Family Tree Two-In-One sampler.

It pulls material from the first volume that shows how characters from comics and rap music are similar. I didn’t even know this was a project and I want it now. Immediately.

It’s well written, the art is fantastic and Hip Hop Family Tree also happens to be hilarious. Not to mention the coloring and production effects that make this look completely vintage. I think I’m in love.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #31

ImageThis is a series that I’ve been picking up every now and then. To be honest, I’m not up to date with the book, but the fact that it has the lead characters fighting with Lobo gave issue #31 the potential to be awesome in at least my mind.

We’re joined in progress on some alien space station and Lobo is standing victorious. He has defeated the Outlaws and is ready to unleash some sort of over the topic, only-in-comics type of weapon that will turn the planet earth into a black hole.

Why?

Lobo goes on a rant about how destroying the planet would be great for his business, especially since there is some sort of Rann/Thangar war brewing. Luckily for everyone on the planet, Arsenal brings his A-game, breaks Lobo’s war machine and sends him to the other side of the galaxy. It’s back home for the Outlaws.

Who cares what is up with them, but the ending teases the long-awaited bad-ass Lobo versus the New 52 Lobo. Hot damn.

Days Of Future Present

days of future present
If yesterday’s post was too straight forward, today’s will be a little more complicated. “Days Of Future Past” brought on the super epic “Days of Future Present” and ties together the X-books of the time with the Fantastic Four. This ran through four annuals (Uncanny x-Men, X-Factor, Fantastic Four and New Mutants) in the summer of 1990. And it all pivots around Franklin Richards.

An older, adult Franklin from the alternate future where “Days of Future Past” happened travels back in time to the then-current day Marvel Universe, which causes all kinds of craziness with the Fantastic Four and the young, child Franklin. It also causes problems with Rachel Summers, who was originally from the same timeline as adult Franklin where they were romantically involved with each other  and she assumed he was dead. It only gets more confusing as it is revealed that when Rachel traveled back in time, an evil Sentinel/cyborg hybrid called Ahab had followed her, planning on not only killing her but several mutants and super humans who would become in the future. It’s a lot like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, only coming out the summer later.

And as this is going on, both Franklins are having trouble controlling their mutant ability to war reality, which makes things all the more difficult.

The story is a little long at times, but the writing team of Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson and Chris Claremont manage to make it cohesive enough to be enjoyable. But then again, during this time any book that was associated with the three of them was great.

On the art side of things Jackson Guide, Jon Bodganove and Art Adams did a great job. The three of them have unique and timeless styles, and nothing felt out of date save for some of the fashion choices.

Main story aside, there are some other cool moments. We are introduced to Gambit for the first time, who debuts helping Storm (who has been turned back into a teenager) break into the X-Mansion. There is also the first time that Jean Grey meets Rachel, her possible daughter from an alternate future. That must have been awkward.

Speaking of awkward, we also get scenes (like the one pictured) that have both Cable as an adult and as a child in baby Nathan. That’s possible, since Nathan gets sent to the future to be raised, only to come back as Cable. But at the same time I wonder if that aspect of the character’s life was planned out yet.

The Uncanny X-Men #141-142: Days of Future Past

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One of the most iconic comic covers of all time.

Who knew that a two-issue story arc that ran in The Uncanny X-Men  #141-142 would be such a profound moment in the series.  Before we talk about the movie that comes out on Friday, let’s talk about the story that started it all.

“Days Of Future Past” is fairly straightforward. In the year 2013 (doesn’t that seem like yesterday?), it completely sucks for man and mutant alike. The robotic Sentinels that were deployed to stop mutants (as a result of the assassination of super mutant-hater Robert Kelly) have taken it one step further, turning their robotic eyes to super powered humans alike.

Things are getting rough and it seems like humanity is approaching a nuclear fallout. What’s left of the X-Men have a plan to go back in time to prevent this future, by finding a way for the Kitty Pryde of 2013 to communicate with the younger version of her in 1980 to prevent Kelly’s assassination at the hands of Mystique’s latest group of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

The fall out of this story leaves a huge impact on the X-books for years to come. It introduces Rachel Summers (Cyclops and Jean Grey’s daughter from the future), as an extremely powerful telepath who was responsible for connecting the Kitty’s of the future and path. She later becomes a very important character in her own right.

It also introduces a plot point that sticks through future X-Men stories, as they are now aware of there being a “worst case scenario” that someday there will be a Mutant Registration Act that leads to the attempt at exterminating the mutant population of the world.

And this is purely conjecture at my point, but it really establishes Kitty Pryde as being one of the top level characters in the X-Pantheon. Before, she was just kind of a sidekick or follower of the rest of the team. But from this point forward she really came into her own and became a focal character.

At the very least, it gives us that awesome John Byrne cover of Uncanny X-Men  #141 which has been parodied and influenced thousands of other comic book covers over the years. Maybe not tou

Ben Affleck’s Batman Suit

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I might as well join the bandwagon and put in my two cents about the new Ben Affleck/Batman suit; everyone else seems to be.

I have to say that I like it.

It reminds me a lot of the way that Jim Lee or Frank Miller would draw the character; it looks right out of the duo’s All Star Batman from a few years back. The suit looks right to me, much more than the plate armor that the character was sporting in the Christopher Nolan trilogy.

I think even Butters would agree; this is going to be awesome.

Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench

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I think I’m the only person in the world who finds Geoff Johns’ writing to be very hit or miss. I know I’m not the only person in the world who thinks that Aquaman can be pretty lame as a character. That said, when I picked up Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench I had really low expectations. What I wound up reading was a really fun story pitting Aquaman against an army of aquatic subterranean creatures.

The main story featured in this collection is from Aquaman #1-4, with the cannibalistic deep-sea dwellers called the Trench invading the surface world. It’s up to Aquaman and his wife Mera to stop this invasion. Think of Night Of The Living Dead meets The Abyss, except with a lot more humor worked in. Eventually it’s revealed that the reason that the Trench are invading the surface world is that they are facing extinction and trying to stop it, but at the expense of the surface world. Eventually Aquaman saves mankind (and probably the rest of the residents of the ocean as well) by trapping the Trench. And along the way he rescues a Golden Retriever who winds up being named Aquadog.

The other two stories in this collection feature Aquaman stranded in a desert and a story that tells more about Mera’s origin as an Atlantean assassin. These are perfectly acceptable, but the main story line is what makes the collection. It’s certainly sold me on the series; I have the next two volumes waiting for me at the library.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain_America_The_Winter_SoldierHere’s a better late then never review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I really liked. That, and this movie owes a lot of credit to Ed Brubaker, who wrote the original Winter Soldier storyline that serves as the backbone of this film.

There’s a bit of a mystery element to the movie, with the evil organization Hydra (which was last seen in Captain America) having slowly integrated itself into the SHIELD organization since it was assumed to have been disbanded after World War II. Now using SHIELD’s resources, Hydra has completely rebuilt itself and looks to take over the world.

It’s a good thing that Cap, Black Widow, Nick Fury (who fakes his own death) and a newly-found ally in the Falcon are here to stop Hydra’s latest attempt at taking over the world. The only thing is that SHIELD/Hydra send the Winter Soldier (Bucky from the first movie, who has been turned into a cold-blooded cyborg mercenary) to stop them. And clearly the good guys win, since it is a super hero movie.

Winter Soldier is filled with a lot of suspense and action, pretty much everything you would want and expect in a Captain America movie. Some of the back story about how Hydra has worked in the shadows felt like a stretch, but it generally didn’t hurt the movie that much. Plus, it brought us the Arnim Zola as an old computer terminal center scenes.

Chris Evans is a great Captain America, especially the scenes where he is shown as being a man out of time who has to carry a notebook to write down all the things he has missed out on. I can’t wait to see the following Cap films that this movie sets up: the next Avengers film and the following Captain america movie. This movie gets a big thumbs up and I might have enjoyed it more than Thor: Dark World.

In Tribute Of Dick Ayers

Dr. Doom by Dick Ayers

Bleeding Cool (via Roy Thomas) reported that the 1950s/1960s Jack Kirby-inker Dick Ayers and longtime Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos penciller passed away on May 4, shortly before what would have been his ninetieth birthday. I was fortunate enough to get the above sketch from him at the 2006 Baltimore Comic Book Show, which was an adventure all in it self.

I was in line waiting to get a sketch, and I really wanted to get one of Nick Fury. But when I was next in line, I told Dick that I wanted a sketch of Hawkeye. I felt just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, ruining my moment with Santa Claus.

There was a brief pause.

Dick looked up at me from the table and said the following: “You do know that’s a difficult costume to draw.”

There was another awkward pause. Now I’m feeling really embarrassed.

But before I could say something, Dick said “How bout I draw Doctor Doom instead?” I nodded my head just like a confused little kid would. I then spent the next twenty to thirty minutes talking with him about what it was like working for Marvel in his day and he answered every question, even telling me a few interesting stories about Jack Kirby!

And that’s how I wound up having an awkward exchange with a comics legend (that turned itself around) and how he drew Doctor Doom for me. Thanks for the memories, Dick!

 

Moon Knight #1-15

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Just like last time, the Marvel Unlimited subscription has put me on a binge read Charlie Huston’s run on Moon Knight was bloody fun. Over the last year or so, I’ve really started paying attention to the character, thanks to cheap back issue sets and paperbacks.

Moon Knight really feels like it flew under the radar at Marvel. Huston is best known for being a crime novelist, and at the time Moon Knight was a largely forgotten character in the Marvel pantheon. The 2006-2007 series was a lot of dark fun, so why should you read it?

  • Gore factor. Now usually I don’t go for that sort of thing. But somehow Huston’s script and the way that David Finch illustrated it is just so gross, creepy and welcoming at the same time. I know I’ve said it before, but Finch really reminds me of Todd McFarlane with how he draws. And his art is so on in this series.
  • Khonshu. If you remember, the premise of Moon Knight is that he’s an avatar of the Egyptian god Khonshu and that by worshiping this god (or just generally poor mental health) he has been slowly driving him nuts. Khonshu has taken the form of the late super villain the Bushman, whom Moon Knight literally defaced and killed. This vision appears, tormenting the hero from the side.
  • Call backs. I don’t know if Huston was a fan of the original Moon Knight series but he certainly references a lot of the older comics, even down to the supporting characters. His former pilot Frenchie (who reveals that he has put up with Moon Knight’s crap for so long only because he had a crush on the masked vigilante), love interest Marlene and his supporting cast are all there. He even finds himself feuding with the current incarnation of the villainous the Committee and is faced to fight his former sidekick Midnight (now a villain) to the death.
  • The second six issues. The main part of this arc is Moon Knight dealing with Midnight, but the subplot involves both Iron Man and Captain America trying to recruit him to their respective sides during the Civil War period. Moon Knight has his own views which happen to not go along with each side and he finds a way to express them clearly.
  • It feels like an indie super hero book. This doesn’t feel like anything Marvel would put out. It’s just really different.

So there you have it. Read Moon Knight immediately. It’s dark, brooding and gory, but still a light and fun (if that’s possible with a hero that’s cutting up people) read. It certainly makes me want to see more super hero stuff written by Huston.

 

Immortal Iron Fist #1-27

immortalironfistYou know what I like doing? I like hording runs of complete (or near complete) series and then binge read them, kind of like how someone will burn through a whole season of something on Netflix. With Marvel Unlimited, I was able to binge read the entire Immortal Iron Fist series.

I must admit that I don’t necessarily know everything about the character. But in this short series, which ran roughly two and a half years, I was able to jump right in at full speed.

There is a lot that happens in this series, ranging from Daniel Rand having to literally fight off corporate raiders that are part Hydra, to fighting with the other immortal weapons in a tournament of celestial proportions, to finally even going to hell. All the while, there are side bars chronicling the life and death of Orson Randall (the previous Iron Fist), Daniel’s father Wendell taking the Rand family on an expedition to find K’un-L’un, and single issue stories about the various other people to wield the Iron Fist. We even explore Daniel’s personal life, whether it be how he runs his business or his relationship with Misty Knight.

The resulting series works so well, whether it be written by the series’ original team of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, to the later issues by Duane Swierczynski. It is a real testament to his abilities as a writer, as he keeps the tone and pace set by Brubaker and Fraction. On the art side, the series went back and forth from David Aja and Travel Foreman seamlessly. The resulting series was just great.