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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Review: Fortnightly Comics Parcel 2

Fortnightly and nearly two weeks late, how appropriate. I might be even more brief and incoherent than usual. I appear to have forgotten to read Nightcrawler 9, so I can't say anything about that (well... except that Darick Robertson's pencils suffer yet more ink woes, this time they appear to be done with a paintbrush). New X-Men: Academy X 17 is waiting to be read whenever I get around to reading number 16 and Mutopia X 2 I read but seem to have buried somewhere. Oh yes, and Smoke 3 arrived so I can now read all three, which I'm looking forward to but means I clearly have nothing to say on it yet.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Annual 1: Ahhh, at last. I can't do anything more than agree with the general 'net consensus that this is a welcome return to form for Bendis on Ultimate Spidey. Definitely his best issue in a while, though it's a pity we're not seeing it as strongly in the ongoing series. This is the kind of quality that made me interested in Spider-Man comics for the first time ever. Great potential in the Kitty Pryde-as-girlfriend thing setup here, and the arrival at the situation is suitably teenaged. Good fight scenes (made good mostly through the dialogue around them) with the Rhino and a welcome return for the Shocker character (everyone's favourite loser criminal). Art on the annual is from Mark Brooks, whose cartoony style (not too dissimilar from regular Mark Bagley's but generally rather careful and controlled) fits Ultimate Spidey to a T.

Jack Cross 1: This was a better comic on the second reading. It's the start of a new Warren Ellis ongoing series, this one for DC. He's working through various concepts in the arena of "special agent/detective/crime" based fiction, though in usual Ellis fashion he's exploring different aspects of that broad arena with each book. Jack Cross is all about a privilegeded special agent (and political activist) who is an external problem solver of sorts, presumably based on extraordinary accomplishments in the past that we'll learn more of down the road. In this debut issue he's employing his brutal interrogation techniques to uncover information from a CIA mole in the Department of Homeland Security.

Art is from Gary Erskine and it's a bit stiff throughout the book. It works better in the interrogation scenes but the colouring throughout isn't particularly flattering for Erskine (it's rather reminiscent of the low end of Marvel colouring that also tends to bug me). I've seen him do better but hopefully he'll grow into the book more as it progresses. It's a sedate first issue but still a fulfilling package that doesn't drag. There are less of the trademark parts of Ellis' dialogue style than I was expecting, which is nice because I always like to see the man force himself into a style other than his most comfortable. The book needs more characters though, ones that have personality and can form some kind of ongoing cast. Karen is the only person other than Cross to look like a prospective regular, but neither her nor Cross get established in any strong way. A gentle start that hopefully picks up as the series progresses.

Weapon X: Days Of Future Now 2 (of 5): I was just about enticed into the ongoing series by the dark and rather homicidal take on the B and C list end of the Marvel mutants, so I was a bit miffed when it ended without time to resolve anything whatsoever. This miniseries is meant to be that resolution, some time after the original ended prematurely. So to end up reading an alternate near-future story, which kind of does that but kind of doesn't, is something of a disappointment. When it's finished I shall probably be able to re-read it without that problem looming in my mind, but for now it's there and keeps this firmly rooted at "competent yet disappointing". Tieri's writing is solid enough, and the pencils from Sears are not as bad as his past work, though a better artist would be welcome (and I think one is due with issue 3). Yes, competent yet disappointing does it for now.

Cable & Deadpool 18: Every fresh solicitation is a sigh of relief for this, perhaps my most guilty comics pleasure, sadly hovering dangerously close to cancellation. Nicieza's script delivers more verbal comedy from Deadpool as the central character of this arc and the strongest point in this issue. The plot is resolving in a less than satisfying manner, however. It has a dual purpose in resolving the abominable X-Force miniseries that we can blame on Rob Liefield, and to reset Cable's powers once more. These are achievable goals but Nicieza's plot is stumbling at this end of the arc. Zircher continues to be a perfect fit on pencils for this title, though.

Wolverine 31: Mark Millar's 12 part story (split into two 6 part arcs) finishes off after dragging rather heavily in this second half. Romita Jr. delivers nice enough art (though he has done better in the 12 issues) and the issue is the low end of good on its own, but the Agent Of Shield 6 part arc has been less satisfying than this issue would suggest. Oh, and the attempt at an "emotional epilogue" really doesn't come off.

Ultimate X-Men: Annual 1: I don't usually read this title but figured I'd pick up the annual as it's a stand alone issue. It works fine for someone with little knowledge of the ongoing, which was good to see, and I did like Brian K. Vaughan's use of our expectations to spring the ending (and increase its impact). Tom Raney's pencils don't seem up to his best, possibly due to the inking and/or colouring. They're still pretty enough though. It doesn't click with me like the other two Ultimate annuals, but that's possibly due to my lack of connection with the ongoing. The upper end of the score below.

New X-Men (Academy X): Hellions 4 (of 4): I have liked the work of DeFilippis and Weir on the New X-Men kids - even if it's not been excellent, it has been generally good (and they're all new characters, which is nice to see work). This more focused miniseries has been particularly strong and this issue rounds it off nicely. I would say that it was predictable to see them swing to the side of heroes, but it wasn't something I was sure they'd definitely do until it happened. Good art from Clayton Henry, much better than his work on the terrible Alpha Flight relaunch.

Authority Revolution 11 (of 12): I'll go back and look more closely at this series and my opinions on it when it's finished, I think. For now this is a "fight against mind controlled good guy" issue, which are never my favourite kind. The art is somewhat scrappy too - either a bad day for Nyugen or some bad inking. Average stuff but I'm still interested to see how it ends.

Klarion 3 (of 4): The Seven Soldiers project from Grant Morrison rolls delightfully on with a strange issue to begin the second half of this miniseries. Oddly, it's also my favourite of Klarion so far, with Frazer Irving's art finally generating feelings of appreciation that I can match to the love everyone else seems to have for it. I'm not sure how well the miniseries will turn out but as a stand alone issue this was a good read.

Fortnightly Comics Parcel 1

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 11:46 PM


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All original content is copyright Alex Hopkinson 2005. Other content is copyright the respective owners. To contact the author email: alex [at]

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