Will people NEVER learn? You do NOT tick off Wolverine
Written by: Frank Tieri Cover by: Essad Ribic Penciled by: Sean Chen Inked by: Tom Palmer Colored by: Edgar Tadeo Lettered by: Comicraft Assistant Editor: John Miesegaes Editor: Axel Alonso Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada President: Bill Jemas
Say it ain't so, Frank.
After reading yet another fantastic issue of Wolverine, I'm more despondent than ever that Tieri and Chen are leaving this series with issue #186 (Chen earlier with next month's issue #185). Though the duo have been with the title for almost two years now, it all feels like an all too brief passage of time.
Now I'm left to wonder what the new team of Greg Rucka and Darick Robertson are going to produce. With the X-Men 2 movie due out in May, Marvel are all keyed up to take advantage of the heightened interest in their comic books and have decided to relaunch with a new #1 issue.
I hate relaunches. With a passion.
Now, on the one hand I see the logic from a marketing perspective. To have a new book, featuring a popular character, re-emerge with a new first issue is to enhance sales. On the other hand, people like myself who have been loyally following the book for years, through good and bad, sit back and take a moment to wonder if I want to continue buying this series. After all, when the series ends with issue #189 (don't ask me why they won't go to issue #200), I could stop then and have a complete collection.
I'm wary enough of a new team any time they debut on a book. This strikes me as rather ironic as I've read and loved comic books for over 20 years. Only in the past few have I really started paying attention to the creative teams much less following or judging a book based on that fact. For me, the stories are tales that were pre-told and the writer and artist are merely filling in the blanks. Now, I'm left to wonder as to the quality, if they'll change the logo (which would be unbearable as I love the current logo), and what sort of direction editor Axel Alonso will steer the book into.
So I'm left to hold on to faith that the new Marvel won't let the book go to hell. They've done great things with all the titles, but Wolverine was one of the last refuges of what I consider a more classic form of comic book telling. Sure, this was a Wolverine for the new millennium, but he was his older interpretation enough that I don't feel the character has been butchered the way he sometimes appears to be over in New X-Men.
Time will tell.
Anyway, after a long digression, on to the issue. Simply put, this is great stuff. I'm loving the 'new' Wolverine and the direction Tieri, Chen, and company have steered it into. Logan is more dangerous than ever and apparently willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
I must admit that I loved the opening scene featuring the new character 'The Sweeper'. He was mentioned in the last page of the previous issue and I was left to wonder if this character was actually going to pose a threat or not. When he confronts Logan in a scene that reminded me of the cantina scene in Star Wars between Han Solo and Greedo I felt a grin come over my face as you could read easily what was coming. This was a wonderful alternative to the types of brutal and in your face violence that fans have come to expect from a Tieri-written Wolverine.
The only thing I didn't like was Logan's speech about the dangers of smoking. By now, most fans know of Joe Q's feelings towards smoking and his ban of it in comic books. Personally, I didn't think it was necessary to make that decision, especially when it was obviously so personally based for Joe. Myself, I don't encourage smoking but I certainly don't condone it or preach to others that they shouldn't smoke. My father works for a major Canadian company that produces cigarettes and if not for this job I would not have had meals to eat every day and clothes on my back. I don't personally smoke, but without it, my life and my father's life may have been quite different.
I also found it out of character for Logan. After all, he used to be a smoker for much of his comic book career. Though he does mention that he's one of the few people in the world that would be okay smoking.
The action in this issue is what really makes it memorable. Friend and foe both come after Logan as his employer decides he's a liability and the competition is getting desperate. There are some brutally vicious scenes drawn here by Chen that have Wolverine looking the scariest I can remember. How freaky is a guy who doesn't drop after being shot a few dozen times? Not only that, he CHARGES at you!
Too bad guys: think before you shoot.
Now, there's not a lot of plot development here, but it does set up a bloody final issue next month. A tentative alliance has been struck with Freddo's #1 goon, Wolverine made friends with a couple of lions, and the Roman is as dead as his empire.
This arc has been fantastic so far. Great pacing, clear, crisp writing from Tieri, and a fantastic job of directing by editor Axel Alonso. Chen provides some of the best art of his career and pays attention to even the smallest details. Since he began on this book I've been impressed, but month after month he tops his own previous efforts. Wolverine's 'battle damage' continues from page to page with each panel showing the gradual effects of his healing factor. The backgrounds are shocking in their level of detail and the emotion displayed by his characters are completely believable.
Tieri's run has been shocking, controversial, bloody, and best of all, the most entertaining Wolverine has been in years. It's too bad he and his partner in crime, Sean Chen, are exiting the book, but this arc is sure to be seen as one of the highlights of their run. Go out and pick it up today!
How far will the X-Men go to make sure the press presents them in the best possible light?
Written by: Chris Claremont Cover by: Rodolfo Migliari Penciled by: Arthur Ranson Colors by: Liquid! Letters by: Tom Orzechowski Editor: Andrew Lis Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada President: Bill Jemas
This book amazes me in its level of detail and its ability to make the X-Men seem like real people existing in the real world.
For many years now, I've loved writer Chris Claremont's work. His characters, adventures, and mass appeal are second to none except for the work of a few legends such as Stan Lee. The time and effort he's put into his creations is unheard of in an industry that counts its lives in a scant few issues these days. Creative teams come and go, sometimes several within the same year... but Claremont has had his hand at the X-Men's adventures for more than a combined total of 20 years. The man has earned the right as one of the great writers of the business, and the moniker of 'Mr. X-Men' himself.
This book is no exception to the rule.
What immediately sticks out in my mind is the journalistic approach this book takes. For once the reader is on the side of the common man, not knowing much about the lives or motivations of the X-Men but merely seeing the after effects that their existence causes amongst the general population. Sitting in our living rooms, wondering when the next Magneto will come to threaten us, has had a tremendous effect on the world in which the Marvel Universe operates and it's about time we had a writer deal with those issues.
Being a journalist myself, both professionally and as a student, I must say that Claremont's depiction in the book is NOT universal. Most of us try to be the Neal's and Manoli's of the world, but sadly a great deal of the people in charge are like their producer. Have faith, however, as there IS a journalist code of ethics and by breaching every single one of them this guy would have gotten his just deserts one way or another. It IS illegal to present information in a false way. Feel better?
Well, I know the X-Men don't. For one thing, this story could have had as positive an effect on the population as all the efforts Xavier has been making with the X-Corporation. Presenting mutants as people and the X-Men as heroes is something that has always been TALKED about but little has been done to really present them that way. This series is refreshing because it is honest, direct, and has the effect of informing without preaching.
That isn't to say it isn't without its flaws. Seeing Rogue and Gambit in action, especially after the traumatic events of the previous arc, is more than welcome. Though appearing in a bar where Gambit is hustling other pool players isn't exactly what I had in mind. Nor is seeing Gambit in particular in his traditional outfit especially welcome.
With a title like 'x-pose,' I was hoping for a truer glimpse into this couple's relationship than what has been attempted in the past. Instead, what we get is a not so typical bar scene, a quick fight with the same group of mutant upstarts seen in the previous issue, and yet another affirmation that being with the X-Men is the right thing for both Rogue and Gambit.
I'm not saying that it isn't beautifully written, that it doesn't have the desired impact, or that it wasn't nicely drawn... I'm just saying I wanted something with more feeling. More emotion. More of a follow-up.
My only real complaint comes with the 'charming' of a young mutant woman by Gambit. I saw nothing of this and was surprised when Rogue exclaimed that the mutant group backed off because Gambit was able to get her to leave. I just didn't get that at all. It felt like some or all of the dialogue was missing.
I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Angel this issue! Warren has been taking a more dramatic approach to the world of business and the lives of the X-Men in the public eye these days and it's nice to see Claremont picking up on that. I don't necessarily agree that Warren's solution to the story was for the best, but at least something was done that will have fans talking for quite some time.
Which leads one to wonder... who was worse, the X-Men, or the producer? On the one hand, the producer is basically doing his job. To create sensational television, get the visuals, and sell the story. The X-Men took a much less aggressive approach to quell the problem. While I agree that the X-Men need to make sure they can present themselves in the best possible way, manipulating and buying the media just seems plain wrong.
In fact, most of the X-Men have seemed darker these days. There are very few of them that I feel I could trust at this point, and almost all of them have been acting in ways that I feel are especially anti-superhero. Manipulating minds, the media, the world... where will it end? Will Xavier wind up being Magneto through good intentions?
Perhaps it's best the X-Treme X-Men remain apart for now. Though I'd love to see them at the mansion, something doesn't quite feel right and I think Claremont feels the same way. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that was his entire motivation for keeping the team off on their own for the time being... to see where the pieces fall with Morrison and Austen in the other two X-Men books. I can't say that I blame him.
Arthur Ranson of X-Factor fame provides the art for this two-issue mini and I must say that his style suited the story brilliantly. Though a few pages were a bit off-putting in the way he drew the X-Men (particularly the first page featuring Rogue and Gambit), overall I felt that his real-world sensibilities suited this real-world story. I'm not sure what his next project is but I wish him the best of luck with it!
So, that's it for X-Treme X-Men: X-Pose, but get ready for the exciting X-Treme X-Men #20 due out next month featuring the return of Salvador Larroca! Claremont has hinted at big things coming in the next few months including a confrontation with Emma Frost, Cannonball joining the team, and a brand new direction for some of Marvel's merriest mutants! You don't want to miss out!