3.19.2009

3.18.09 Reviews (Part 1)

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #2 (Radical): While it’s easy to fall in love with that Alan Brooks cover, my enthusiasm for this title has cooled a bit. The first couple of pages have some blurry looking art and I’m not sure if “scarey” is a typo or just common British spelling (nor do I really care enough to even check). Little details like the times on Hotwire’s phone bother me. How can the times listed go 5:04am, 5:04am, 5:55am, 5:45am, 5:32am? Really, look at that. The call log moves forward in time and then… back in time? How is that possible? All that said, you can still detect the Warren Ellis influenced sci-fi concepts, I really like Detective Mobey as the “straight man” to the exorcising Hotwire, and for $2.99, Radical deserves kudos here for putting out a package packed with content. Not sure if I’ll want it all collected someday, but I’ll certainly ride out two more issues and see where this goes. Grade B+.

X-Force #13 (Marvel): Ah, it’s the little x-title that could. I felt like it was back on track as soon as I took in the full page of Archangel scooping up Laura and carrying her away from the blast we were left with at the end of last issue. The interaction between Scott and the team, along with Wolverine’s narration, really makes you realize that Scott has been trained to lead this army his entire life, he’s been conditioned and prepared to fight this fight. His destiny is finally playing out. When all this stuff happened with Bishop and just who the heck Sooraya is are head-scratchers to me, but are more than made up for with the subtle humor of Domino and plans (such as Pierce’s deliberate plant) becoming clear. The abduction of the three familiar kids (I won’t spoil it) plays quite chilling and overall, this title continues to be crisply written and visually engaging, provided the Kyle/Yost/Crain dynamic is in effect. More than anything, I just appreciate the coherent storytelling at work here, compared to the incessant scene jumping and dangling thread approach of Uncanny, which seems to have gotten away from Fraction. It’s clear that the books inhabit a closely shared world and that makes me more at ease with the decision to scuttle Uncanny and stick with (whodathunkit?) X-Force. A bit disconcerting that Marvel is putting out the next installment of this story in an X-Force/Cable one-shot vs. the regular series, so for that we’ll downgrade to a Grade B+.

Uncanny X-Men #507 (Marvel): If I were looking for reasons to keep purchasing Uncanny, I’d cite lines like “We are all but ghosts now” or “Watch out. Big bastard’s gotta’ fall somewhere.” I might notice the cool moments between Hank and Warren during the Archangel reveal or the entire panel with Armor and Pixie (Sugar Bombs! Newbridge!). I’d tell myself that the political ramifications the Mayor mentions are worth exploring; the entire phrasing of her conversation with Scott is spot-on and almost redeems the whole affair. But alas, I was looking for reasons to drop the title this issue and there are certainly more of the latter to be found. Beast’s soliloquy during the fight scene with Godzilla(?) seems painfully expository, Dodson’s 2/3 page panel with Emma horrifically depicts her face and an awkward pose, and lines like “Hit them until they all stop hitting back” play so one-dimensionally that I realize how much more I need from this title. I felt like that line was Fraction expressing frustration at trying to wrangle all of this unwieldy flitting plot threads into submission. His attempts at dual narration with some injuries and lack of plans play thin and ineffective. There are disconnected action scenes, evil guy exposition, irregularities with Scott’s visor (again!), a weak cliffhanger, Emma is horribly out of character with misplaced support for Peter, and really… is there actually a Russian word for “hick?” I think it may have completely derailed when Fraction used a lifted line from Godzilla with “What do you see, old man? What do you see?!” All that was missing was an aged Japanese man mumbling “Gojira!” on his deathbed. I wanted to stick with Uncanny, but there just aren’t enough reasons to. I will definitely pick up Fraction’s run someday in a dollar bin – that’s really not supposed to sound as mean as it does. Grade C+.

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