Uncanny X-Men #18
Bendis, Lozano, Rudy
What. Was. This? Aside from the cover, which messes with the suspension of disbelief (how in the hell do you get close enough to Cyclops, wonky powers or not, to hold a gun to his head?), this issue is a dramatic shift straight into huh? from the events of the really good but very frustrating previous issue. It just barely picks up from where issue #17 left off.
The art is a jumbled mess. Page design varies, from panels arranged as the X-logo, to random patterns, with Cyclops’ messed up optic blasts as the panel borders. It makes for a disconcerting headache of a read. Add to that, the team can’t seem to color Christopher (Triage) Muse the same shade of brown, from issue to issue. It’s a watercolored mess. We start with the consequences of issue #17. Cyclops has kicked David Bond (aka the unfortunately codenamed Hijack) out of the team for ignoring a command to not use cell phones. (Recap: Bond didn’t want to break his contract, and figured GPS would help them in the game of Mapcrunch. This mundane oversight led SHIELD straight to them.) Issue #18 opens with Tempus protesting that they should give him another chance–which Cyclops refuses to even entertain. The X-Men have never, in my recollection kicked anyone out. Not even Wolverine. From there, there’s a whole “Cyke’s team notices Kitty’s team is absent” thing to allude to The Trial of Jean Grey going on in the All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy titles. And a mention of “Oh, right, Magneto’s gone too,” to allude to that new title. The rest of the book is Scott Summers flashbacking to Kitty discovering his powers don’t work right, and threatening to kill him for killing Xavier. Which, of course, Scott is still carrying angst about. Though he professes to believe more than ever in the Dream, he sure doesn’t seem to be playing the part Xavier intended for him, by way of penitence for his crime of not fighting the Phoenix when possessed by it.
Even on a second read, I can’t find anything better to say about it than that my adorable new baby X-Men Triage, Tempus, and Goldballs were at least still visible on the page. Hopefully after the big old crossover is over, Bendis will be back on his stride. This seemed to be nothing but hastily thrown together filler, unworthy of either Bendis or Chris Bachalo (who must’ve needed the break).
Bunn, Hernandez-Walta, Bellaire
Going to the other end of the spectrum, I found myself surprised by the first issue of Magneto’s new series. I have always had a problem relating to the bad guys. I always secretly root for them to see the error of their ways, repent their badness, and give up. But that wouldn’t make for interesting reading; nor would the good guys have anyone to fight. Magneto is operating low tech now. This man, who once literally messed with the magnetic field of the earth to make it harder to track him technologically or psionically, is now, after the events of A + X, extremely weakened and having to find new and creative ways to use his dramatically diminished abilities. The art really works this. So does the story. The opening sequence, told by a shell-shocked barista, gives a very human description on how brutal and violent Magneto can be, even with trace amounts of metal. Magneto’s own narrative shows how careful he must be, and how sharp his awareness must be for him to make the most of those trace amounts. Finding work with the X-Men unsatisfying and Mystique’s Madripoor insulting, he has set out on his own, playing cat-and-mouse with SHIELD. He’s been at it so long that he recognizes their attempts to draw him out, and reflects on how they’ve forgotten that his experiences make their attempts obvious to him. But under it all, his main goal is still to care for the oppressed people of mutantkind who are still suffering at the hands of fearful, hateful humans. He assembles The Helmet for effect, gets to his target, and discovers that the monster he came to hunt is not what he appears. So this Magneto is not so much a villain (although he’s aware he has been one), and not so much a hero, because a hero doesn’t casually meet someone over coffee then murder them with their own dental fillings. He’s more of an anti-hero. It seems that this is a role Magneto fits into well, as written by Cullen Bunn. I was on the edge of my seat. I look forward to more. — Jamie
Charles Soule, Javier Pulido
I recently read She-Hulk Diaries, having only a vague idea of who the character was. I definitely remembered her being green more often, so I grabbed the new She-Hulk #1 just to check–and was hooked. Similar to Diaries, this new solo series focuses more on the non-superhero side of Jennifer Walter’s life, making her a person that I’d really love to hang out with. Picking up where the last issue left off, Jennifer has just opened her own law practice and is tapping her fingers, trying to figure out her next steps. Clients aren’t beating down her door, but her search for an assistant leads to a very interesting dynamic in her new office life. Jen also meets her landlord, a former mutant who lost her powers on M-Day and is now sympathetic to the needs of supers who can’t afford ridiculous rent and insurance just because they might accidentally bust down a wall or two. The interactions between Jen and her landlord and her assistant are great. She-Hulk does get to play a bit, donning her purple and white body suit to go work out some stress with her friend Hellcat. They fight off some amateur bad guys, whom She-Hulk manages to intimidate with just a look, while she tries to keep Hellcat from getting herself into too much trouble. It’s not quite as interesting an encounter as the previous issue where Jennifer goes up against Tony Stark’s lawyers in court, and then Tony himself, but it’s still fun to see how she plays with her friends. — Wendy
Greg Rucka, Toni Fejzula
Dark Horse Comics
It’s not often a comic blows me away–certainly not in the first issue, but I turned the last page of Veil and knew I would need to know more. This is a book of few words, save for the author’s notes at the end where Rucka explains that the concept of Veil has been haunting him for about twenty years. An idea that he is frightened–terrified–to bring into the light. But Veil is here now and she is unstoppable. Fejzula’s mysterious images feel almost like they are flashing across a screen, beginning in an abandoned subway tunnel, and then closing in on the rats surrounding a young, naked girl who suddenly wakes. Speaking only in the rhymes of her broken thoughts, she makes her way up to the city, where she is confronted by those who would take advantage of her condition and her apparent innocence. Fortunately, she is befriended by a young man named Dante, who offers her his hand. The idea of a young, naked girl wandering busy streets might be an unappealing one, but Rucka has a very strong track record for handling female characters with the utmost respect, and writing them with incredible depth. Right now, Veil is a mystery of which we have not even scratched the surface. Reading this issue and Rucka’s own fear of writing it was a thrill that leaves me wide-eyed with wonder and trepidation at where this will all lead…