12.22.2010

12.22.10 Reviews

Invincible Iron Man #33 (Marvel): It's a seemingly unrelated observation, at first, but I noticed that the last WildStorm comic came out today. I couldn't escape the feeling that I'd seen all this before with Joe Casey's WildCats run, the CEO superhero with a radically alternative energy source that could change the world. Oh well, steal from the best I guess. There's a lot of internal monologuing used here to recap for the audience, but it's hidden away in one big long chase sequence that would otherwise play fairly dull. There is a big bomb dropped not only about the relationship between Ezekiel Stane and the Hammers, but also the origin of the youngest Hammer, which I won't spoil, but it's something involving a character that Fraction has already started to move onto the board and something that he'll likely get a lot of mileage out of, something that I've mentioned should probably be introduced into the next Iron Man movie. It's all about as entertaining as usual, but my favorite part is the involvement of Jamie McKelvie again. It's not an interlude sequence this time out, but a short bonus feature that's sort of "a day in the life of Tony Stark." It's done purely with visual beats in an entire world that's networked around him. It's the kind of prescient thinking you'd expect to find in such a forward leaning futurist comic. The end result is that Pepper really is Tony's center, and Fraction keeps layering interesting plot threads together. He's proving that, with Larroca's seamless art fading into the background, he can be a storyteller who has mastered the art of inserting human drama into otherwise typical superheroics. Grade A.

Cyclops #1 (Archaia): This is a new 8 issue series from Jacamon and Matz, the team that brought us The Killer. The year is 2054 and the story revolves around a sci-fi thriller postulating war as entertainment, with Doug Pistoia looking for work. I feel like I've seen this done before in recent movies, that video game reality mentality, and the slick packaging, all in a cold PKD meets James Cameron future. There's a sketchy quality to the art that I enjoyed; you can almost see the original pencils reveal themselves underneath some of the coloring. The technique provides a lived-in realistic feeling. Along the way, there are some beautiful shots of Florence and New York and their urban skylines of the future. Pistoia is being indoctrinated into a privatized global security firm with a UN mandate. I thought it was a little implausible that he'd be swallowing the company lines so hard and then trying to sell them to his wife, who fights at first, but then just sort of blindly accepts. There seem to be a few minor characterization stumbles like that, possibly some nuance being lost in the translation from a Franco-Belgian comic originally published by Casterman, but otherwise there are some interesting ideas at play. The company wants you to believe that they're just creating good field operatives, but that's tied directly to ensuring a continued revenue stream and good ratings. There's not just making soldiers, they're fashioning stars. Grade B+.

Uncanny X-Men #531 (Marvel): I'm still reading the "Previously..." page and I'm already getting annoyed. Lobe? The Collective Man? Who comes up with the names for these villains? I guess continuity is totally out the window; Angel is here leading a de facto X-Men team while the island is quarantined, yet he's also fighting Apocalypse's Final Horsemen on the moon in Uncanny X-Force? Similarly, in Uncanny X-Force, E.V.A. is infected and Fantomex is also very much occupied with the team, yet here they're both with Kitty and Emma? For a group of titles that can be so interconnected when big dumb events take place, there is an utter disregard for obvious continuity mishaps like this when you're not being suckered into buying 10 titles in the latest inter-company crossover. Feels a bit like burning the candle at both ends in an unfair consumer fashion. Anyway, I enjoyed Scott talking down Namor, the idea of adamantium poisoning, Dr. Rao, the banter between Emma, Kitty, Sebastian, and Fantomex, and some of the isolated bits of dialogue as the team begins to address the X-impostors. Fraction does a good job turning some accepted ideas on their head in this arc, like the mass populace not being fearful of mutants, but fearful of not being a mutant. Fantomex is usually portrayed as a pretty with-it dude, so it's hard to believe he'd make a mistake like the one he made. That seemed like more of a dunderheaded impulsive Deadpool kind of move. Artistically, it's all a little too bright and cheery for me, though not as cheesecake and devoid of backgrounds as some earlier efforts on the title have been. Here's a New Year's Resolution I'm going to try and make stick: sliding this title off the pull list in order to secure a slot for Uncanny X-Force in its stead. Grade B-.

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