Friday, May 30, 2014

My Monthly Stash - April 2014

Yeah, yeah…once again, I suck.  Another month, another late post.  Foolish me, I thought I’d get it done early; the more fool you for thinking I could.  Oh well, this one is gonna be rushed. Here’s what I read in April:

All-New X-Men #21-23
Guardians of the Galaxy #11-13
Uncanny X-Men #16-19
Wolverine and the X-Men #40-42
Amazing X-Men #3-5
Cable and X-Force #18-19
Uncanny X-Force #16-17
X-Men: Legacy #22-24, 300
All New X-Factor #4-5
Moon Knight #2
Revolutionary War: Alpha #1
Revolutionary War: Dark Angel #1
Revolutionary War: Knights of Pendragon #1
Revolutionary War: Death’s Head II #1
Revolutionary War: Super Soldiers #1
Revolutionary War: Motormouth #1
Revolutionary War: Warheads #1
Revolutionary War: Omega #1
Nova #15
Silver Surfer #1
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #1
Avengers #27
New Avengers #15-16
Avengers World #4
Avengers Undercover #1
Uncanny Avengers #18
Fantastic Four #2
All-New Invaders #3
Indestructible Hulk #20


This month I made a concerted effort to get through the large stack of “X-titles” that I’ve let pile up.  There was a time, pretty much the entire ‘90s, when the bulk of the books on my pull list all carried the X-gene.  Then, as volumes I liked ended and were replaced by books of inferior quality and less interesting premises, I dropped nearly all but the core “Uncanny” book (had to keep my run intact, after all) and the “Wolverine” ongoing.  I would pick up the occasional mini or crossover, but I didn’t really connect with another “X-book” until Peter David’s “Madrox”/“X-Factor” and later, the first volume of “Uncanny X-Force.”  Then in 2011 the “Schism” event happened and my interest in the merry mutants’ plight was somewhat rekindled.  I’ve enjoyed many of the recent offerings, but I’m beginning to sense an imminent (and inevitable?) ebb in my interest.

In the beginning, I found myself liking the “BendiX-Men” titles a lot more than I expected to.  Honestly, when I first heard the premise for “All-New X-Men” I thought it was a terrible idea.  However, I was soon won over by the interaction between the time-displaced “first class” and their modern-day selves and teammates.  As for “Uncanny,” it was good, but didn’t pull me in (still hasn’t, really) in the same way- likely because none of the main characters are particular favorites, and the new mutants they are training are all kind of shallow with obscure power sets.  Sadly, the luster has faded a bit since (due to?)  “Battle of the Atom,” and the issues do a lot of “treading water” between bigger events and storylines. Stuff happens, but very little actually occurs.   For example, about the only thing I can recall happening in the three “Uncanny” issues I read in April is that Magneto had a crisis of conscience and left the team.  Here we had some great character moments that could have deepened the book thematically, and POOF! now he’s gone off to a solo title.

“The Trial of Jean Grey” storyline featured in “All-New X-Men” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a cake of frustrating disappointment- albeit one coated with pretty art frosting and potentially interesting future story and character sprinkles.  Aside from the fact that as current continuity stands, Jean Grey NEVER WAS the Dark Phoenix, would Gladiator really risk pissing off the entire galactic community, and the Spartoi in particular, for self-righteous revenge against a young girl who has yet to commit the crime?  A girl whose entire present-day bloodline your government has already wiped out?  A girl who has been a classmate of your son who currently resides in a mutant school headed by a cranky Canadian who is in love with the girl in question?  So many continuity and character missteps.  At least it gave the Guardians something to do other than spin their space wheels like they’ve been doing since the title’s launch.  The only redeeming bits from this story were some interesting interactions with members of the Imperial Guard, the return of Corsair and the Starjammers, the spinning off of young Cyclops into space with his dad (again, in a separate title), and the budding romance of Shadowcat and Star-Lord. 

I was quite sad to see “Wolverine and the X-Men” end.  I really enjoyed getting to know the new students of the Jean Grey School and seeing longtime X-Men become headmasters and teachers.  I think Jason Aaron blended the right amount of gravitas and humor appropriate for a youth-centric book.  The final issue wrapped things up nicely, but I’ll admit I am getting a little tired of the “X-Men of the future” trope that seems to be popping up multiple times a year.  Once again, this volume ending has given me a jumping off point; I am not picking up the relaunch.

Amazing X-Men” #3-5 sees the triumphant return of Nightcrawler from the realms beyond death.  Kurt has always been a favorite character of mine, especially from back in the “Excalibur” days, but this is just one X-Men team book too many so I don’t think I’ll be sticking with it beyond Aaron’s departure and the special “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends” issue.  Also, I decided not to pick up Claremont’s “Nightcrawler” ongoing, though I might check it out in trade.

Cable & X-Force” and “Uncanny X-Force” wrapped their respective volumes with a 4-part crossover that I honestly cannot recall one thing about.  I’ve really enjoyed the Cable led book, but had dropped the “Uncanny” title after six issues because it was so awful.  I only picked up these last two issues for the crossover.  I remember thinking it tied things up nicely enough, but I’m not planning on getting the “Uncanny” relaunch, even though I loved Spurrier’s writing on

X-Men: Legacy.”  I am so very sad to see this series end, and yet, I don’t think Legion’s tale could have been told any better, or more poignantly, had it continued on.  It was a perfect ending; sad, yet satisfying and, yes, hopeful.  This series was consistently entertaining and thought-provoking, and Mike Del Mundo’s covers were clever and brilliant.  I will miss you, David.  #300 was quite good as well.  I love the idea of Forgetmenot, the X-Man with the mutant ability to not be remembered. I would love to see that followed up.

 All-New X-Factor” continued rounding out the team roster as Danger is retrieved from the Thieves Guild.  And when the team then crosses paths with Magus of the Technarchy, you know the inclusion of Warlock and Cypher isn’t far behind.  I’m really enjoying the pace of this book and am just as interested in the mundane, soap opera minutiae of the humans at Serval as I am the team’s missions.

Moon Knight continues investigating some of the more mysterious and macabre cases of the MU.  The art and ambiance is very moody, and maybe it’s just my eyes, but I’m having a difficult time determining just what is going on in some of the panels.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think we need some exposition.  The first issue was strong, but the second lacked…cohesion?  And now there is talk of Ellis leaving after 6 issues.  I hope this doesn’t signal yet another doomed MK book.

Marvel’s attempt to revitalize beloved (by some) Marvel UK characters in the “Revolutionary War” event was, sadly lacking.  Told through a series of character/team headed one-shots and bookended by “alpha and omega” issues, the story gets bogged down, sacrificing pace and urgency for lengthy character reintroductions.  That’s not to say that individual installments weren’t interesting or entertaining, only that as a whole the event fell flat.  Hopefully now that the characters have been dusted off they will receive more, proper use in the wider MU. 

As for the Cosmic Stuff, “Nova” is still better, but Sam really needs to steer clear of Earth- at least in his solo book.  It’s ludicrous for him to zip home to Earth every issue when he’s out in the far reaches of space super-heroing.  He did manage to save Cosmo, though, so there’s that.  The new “Silver Surfer” series from Dan Slott and Mike Allred is entertaining, interesting and most importantly, fun.  There is whimsy here that isn’t usually associated with Norrin Radd.  I’m excited to see where this goes.   As for the GotG movie prelude, I was underwhelmed.

Truth be told, the core Avengers books seem to be treading water right now post “Infinity.”  All the “Science War” stuff is going on with A.I.M., all leading to the inevitable discovery of what the Illuminati has been up to.  It’s good, just not particularly noteworthy.  I did enjoy the first issue of “Avengers Undercover.”  I’m excited to see these kids mix it up with Baron Zemo and Daimon Hellstrom.

Fantastic Four” #2 was boring and generic.  As of yet, there is nothing about this volume that is the least bit interesting or special.  Dropping.  All-New Invaders,” on the other hand, is still very exciting.  In issue #3 we see Namor get captured by Tanalth and interrogated by the Supreme Intelligence, Aarkus joins the Invaders and transports them to Hala where the group gets ambushed.  I find it intriguing to compare and contrast these two series by Robinson.

The ending of “Indestructible Hulk” was decent, but kind of abrupt.  I will continue to get the relaunch as long as Waid is still on it.  This just in: Waid is leaving “Hulk” after #4. Sad face.

BEST of the month
All-New X-Factor #4-5
X-Men: Legacy #22-24, 300
All-New Invaders #3

WORST of the month
Revolutionary War
Fantastic 4 #2

What I’m looking forward to next month
All-New X-Factor
Original Sin

          Well, that’s all for April. 

Oh!  In other news, I did go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier and absolutely loved it!  I may have even squealed like a little girl when Arnim Zola appeared on screen.  Such a great movie!