X-Factor Forever

x-factor-forever

It’s no secret that I’m a super fan of Louise Simonson’s work, so getting the X-Factor Forever collection was a must buy for me. The book resolves plot-lines that she had set up nearly twenty years ago!

The first part of the story pretty much reestablished the dynamics of the characters. Cyclops (and his son Nathan, who, you know grows up to be Cable) are adjusting to life with a newly returned from the grave Jean Grey, and the rest of the team is enjoying themselves.

At first, it seems like the kidnapping of young Nathan by Caliban and Mister Sinister is the worst that will happen. But instead, X-Factor finds itself in an uneasy alliance with Apocalypse to find the child, for he is the proof that the cosmic Celestials need to deem mutant-kind a worthy species.

The resulting story has to be the best written Apocalypse I’ve ever encountered. Through the main narrative (and a back-up feature that chronicles his life) we learn that he has been subtly influencing the direction of mankind into evolving, ensuring its survival among the planet’s other species, the Deviants and Eternals. Apocalypse had appointed Mister Sinister to be his apprentice who unfortunately has his ideas on how humans and mutants should evolve. It’s a race against time and whoever has Nathan will control the outcome of the Celestial’s judgement.

Again, the writing on this is amazing. Louise is able to conjure the feelings of Jack Kirby style cosmic drama with Grant Morrison-like sensibilities, all the while not sacrificing her own style. I highly recommend this. And if you pick up the collected version, it includes X-Factor #63-64, which concluded her run on the original series. Get this…you won’t be disappointed.

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Power Pack #26

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Don’t let this picture fool you, but Cloak is a great babysitter.

There is a lot of fun stuff happening in Power Pack #26. The group of kid heroes is on their way back home from an adventure on Kofi Whitemane’s home planet of Kymellia.

As a sidebar, I wonder if there is a reason that the Louise Simonson created the Kymellians, a race of horselike aliens, for this series right around the time her husband Walt created the horse-faced Thor stand-in Beta Ray Bill. It makes you assume that horses were very popular in the Simonson household during this period.

Once they land, Cloak and Dagger find Power Pack, only to attack Kofi and his father Yrik. Kofi literally has to climb inside of Cloak to rescue his father from the dark dimension. Once everyone is safe, Kofi returns home with his father and Cloak and Dagger take the Power Pack kids back to their parents.ck are off to Kymellila to help Kofi’s father fight off a hostile takeover, and they are returning to Earth successful in their mission. Because they essentially disappeared, their parents are quite worried. James and Margaret Power have sent out Cloak and Dagger to find their missing offspring, which was kind of weird to me. Cloak and Dagger weren’t really the most highly regarded heroes in the Marvel Universe at that time. There’s also a pretty funny scene with Power Pack-er Franklin Richard’s parents, Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, deciphering a note he left behind explaining what they were doing. The Fantastic Four take off into space, only to wind up passing the Kymellian ship that is carrying their children back home.

The final pages show why I loved Power Pack so much as a kid. They may be child super heroes, but they are one big happy family and the story ended with them more concerned over what they were going to have for dinner rather than discuss their intergalactic adventure.

 

 

New Mutants #61

new-mutants-61This might be one of the most depressing comics I’ve ever read. You wouldn’t know that from the cover that it would be about overcoming feelings of loss.

This takes place during the X-Men crossover Fall of the Mutants. The team is back at the X-Mansion dealing with the recent death of Cypher, which was admittedly their fault. The group had went out on their own, defying the orders of Magneto. At that point, he had been serving as their mentor as Professor X had vanished. There’s a lot of name calling and crying among the group about what had happen. This feeling of grief is only escalated, as they find out that the X-Men are seemingly dead, which Magik takes really hard since among the casualties are her brother Colossus.

Before anyone can completely process what this news, Magneto returns and is irate about Cypher’s death. The rest of the issue is devoted to the characters trying to resolve these feelings about what had happened. Magneto is struggling with the fact that the New Mutants feel no connection to him as their leader. The New Mutants struggle about their role of being teenagers thrust into a really adult situation, having the heavy burden of protecting the world and working to achieve Charles Xavier’s dream of a safer society for man and mutant alike. Unfortunately for them, they have to accept that responsibility, and Magneto has no jurisdiction on that.

This is one of Louise Simonson’s most shining moments as a writer. Each character, from Magneto to Wolfsbane to Magik all are able to express a distinct set of emotions on Cypher’s passing without any rehashing. It’s a great example of how super hero comics can tell a compelling story without having any action whatsoever.

New Mutants #87

New Mutants #87

New Mutants #87

New Mutants #87 introduces Cable to the Marvel Universe. It’s not every month a character who is going to have this big an impact on the series debuts every month.

Not only did Cable debut in this issue but his primary nemesis Stryfe does as well. Stryfe is part of a group of terrorist mutants called the Mutant Liberation Front. They’re attempting to rescue the incarcerated New Mutants Rusty and Skids. And by rescue, I mean wind up brainwashing them into joining their ranks.

As this is going on, Cable shows up in an attempt to stop Stryfe from abducting the duo. The book ends with the MLF escaping and Cable being locked up by the government, as he was blamed for the attack.

What this issue did was set up the last year of the series, as well as it’s relaunch/metamorphosis into X-Force. In the issue, it wasn’t very clear why Cable needed to protect Rusty, Skids or the rest of the New Mutants, but it was established that there was some reason he would not accept them joining Stryfe’s forces. There’s a lot of mystery about what is going on and it does get explained in later issues.

New Mutants #87 is also pretty cool in my book, as it’s a collaboration between writer Louise Simonson and artist Rob Liefeld, both of whom I am a pretty big fan of

The Baltimore Comic Con That Was…

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Galactus prowls the streets of Baltimore at the 2011 Baltimroe Comic Con (Photo courtesy Scotto Bear)

Well, Baltimore Comic Con 2011 has come and gone, and with that so has my summer vacation. So how was this year’s show?

 
Definitely lots of fun. The girlfriend and I went on Sunday and had a blast. I’ve been going to this show since 2004 and I think this might be the busiest one. That was propably due to the Stan Lee’s appearances. But I’d like to think that it was due to people liking comics. It was a very lady and family friendly comic show, which is alway a good thing.
 
The highlight of the show for me was getting to chit-chat with Louise Simonson and the Justice League International team of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, who were all super nice. Not to mention, all the fun I had meeting Dennis Kitchen and a bunch of other cool people in the artist alley section. I picked up two awesome sketches which I’ll post later and show my haul of goodies that I picked up!
 
I would have blogged more about the event, but a combination of my camera crapping out and my laptop going fhqwhgads (Homestar Runner reference), I would have more of my trip to share with you.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#10 Louise and Walt Simonson

Walt & Louise Simonson @ Boston Comic Con

Walt and Louise Simonson at Boston Comic Con(photo courtesy Brad Searles's flickr account)

 
Talk about a power couple! Louise and Walt Simonson are two of my favorite comics creators. Whether working independently or as a team, any book that they get a credit on is a must buy for me.

I could go on for days talking about their work, but lets just visit some of their more well known projects.

As a writer, Louise had lengthy runs on Power Pack (which she created with June Brigman who went on to the Brenda Starr comic strip) and New Mutants, two of my favorite series from Marvel. Over at DC, she was a big part of the 1990s Superman line, writing Superman: Man of Steel and later created Steel with Jon Bogdanove during the “Death of Superman” era. Louise has also crossed over from the comics spinner to the bookstore shelf, having written several novels and young adult books featuring DC super heroes as well as DC Comics Covergirls, a coffee table book featuring the history of the publisher’s lady characters.

Walt made a huge splash on the comics scene with his Manhunter backup feature in DC’s Detective Comics. He went on to his now legendary run on Marvel’s Thor, where he was the writer and artist. This really is some of the best Thor stories ever; this period brought us Beta Ray Bill. He also had a similarly successful run as writer and artist on Fantastic Four. Walt has also worked on a bunch of projects for DC, including Orion, New Gods and Hawkgirl.

Power Duo

Walt and Louise Simonson. Photo courtesy Andy Ihnatko (www.flickr.com/andyi)

Together, Louise and Walt had an extended run on X-Factor, where they turned poor Angel into the super awesome Archangel. They also wrote the critically acclaimed Meltdown limited series; a surreal adventure featuring Havok and Wolverine, with art by painters Kent Williams and Jon Jay Muth. Recently they’ve collaborated on a series about the video game World of Warcraft for DC/Wildstorm.

Their legendary careers aside, the Simonsons are super nice and friendly when meeting fans at comic shows. They’ll happily sign anything and love talking about comics.