This week, X-Fan, the leading source of X-Men-related info on the Internet, takes us inside the hottest X-books on the comic shelves.
This week, reviews of Ultimate X-Men #29 and X-Treme X-Men #22.
Ultimate X-Men #29
Reviewer:Brian E. Wilkinson Quick Rating: Excellent! Story Title: Return of the King, Part 3 of 7
Dead, not dead, maybe dead, maybe hurt, maybe just missing. Millar reveals the fate of Cyclops!
Written by: Mark Millar Cover by: Dave Finch & Richard Isanove Pencilled by: Adam Kubert Inked by: Danny Miki Colors by: Dave Stewart Letters by: Chris Eliopoulos Assistant Editor: Stephanie Moore Associate Editors: C.B. Cebulski & Brian Smith Editor: Ralph Macchio Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada President: Bill Jemas
Now THIS is great comic writing. For months, Iíve felt that writer Mark Millar was saving up his energy to write one of the most engrossing stories in comics and now readers have it in spades.
This issue, indeed this whole arc so far, has appealed to me on so many levels. At times painful, emotional, exciting, and tender, Millar has pulled out all the stops. It makes me forgive him for any minor plot oddity that may have popped up in this series, and it also makes me pity the mad fool that comes on to try and follow in his footsteps.
There are so many great things about this issue, that itís hard to know where to begin. For many writers, making a middle-issue appeal to fans when they just want the big fight at the end is a tough job. Yet here, Millar brings in so many diverse story elements, plot threads, and suspension that I canít wait for more, and yet I never want it to come because itís just one step closer to the end.
Fans have been speculating for months, and now I HAVE to reveal a spoiler as itís central to the story that Iíve enjoyed so much. The dear leader of the X-Men, Scott Summers, is not dead after all, but from the look of him, I almost wish he was.
It seems things went exactly as Jean fears they did back in the Savage Land. Instead of proving himself to be the hero we all felt he was, Logan allowed himself a moment of moral weakness and allowed a good man to Ďdieí. Letting Cyclops fall into a deep pit, where he lays for most of the issue, is a decision that will ultimately affect the entire direction of this book. As Scott lies twisted and broken, living off of what he can grab in his immediate reach for almost a month, the reader feels every moment of anguish, every twinge of insanity, and the same despair and fear that Scott projects.
How could Wolverine do this? I keep forgetting, of course, that this isnít the Wolverine Iíve come to know and love for years in the Marvel Universe. This one is much more dangerous, and cunning, than Iíd like him to be. On the one hand, this edge makes him a much more compelling and engrossing character, but on the other, it makes me sad for the noble man that truly lives underneath.
How will the X-Men react once they find out?
For the rest of the issue, the X-Men themselves are working fast and furious to try and find out where Magnetoís base is, before their time limit of seven days is up. Storm and Beast have one of the best moments in this comic so far, and was almost enough to make me want to shed a tear. Millar has really found emotion in this issue, and each and every character brings it out wonderfully.
Colossus also has a brief moment in the sun this issue, when he and Wolverine Ďalmostí have a heart-to-heart in the middle of a pitched battle. The armoured mutant makes mention that they donít have a lot of time left to open up, and even expresses his belief that he trusts Loganís word over what happened in the Savage Land. This, folks, is what we call Ďdramatic ironyí in that the readers know the truth, and how painful it will be for Peter once he finds out.
Classic moment of the book comes when Colossus mentions the Ďfastball specialí move heís been thinking about. Fans have been waiting a while to see this baby used in the ultimate universe, and they may soon get their chance.
Iím really pleased at the amount of attention Millar has given to the X-Men in this issue. The amount of dialogue, the diverse story elements, and the way he drops plot point after plot point that keeps the anticipation high in his readers for the next issue. Itís very rare that I find myself so eager for the next issue in any comic series, but I want all of ĎReturn of the Kingí and I want it now. This is Millar at his best, and rivals any of the work heís done over in The Ultimates.
Adam Kubert is back, thank the comic gods. Though Iím really impressed with Dave Finch and his work on the book, and Iím looking forward to more when he works with Brian Bendis on issue #34, I just missed Kubert. No one does comics like he does, and when he has the extra time and room for deadlines, we get the kind of quality we see in this book. Millarís script wouldnít have been half as effective had it not been for the way Kubert draws Cyclopsí pain, the emotional scene between Storm and Beast, and everything in between.
Dave Finch provides this monthís cover, however, and completely redeems himself after thatÖ interestingÖ picture of Jean on last weekís issue. (Iím shocked to be doing another review for this series ONE WEEK LATER). Wolverine on this cover just looks amazing, though, and once again reaffirms my belief that Richard Isanove is a coloring God. This guy could make anything look like a piece of art.
I want more. Itís as simple as that. Ultimate X-Men is a thrilling and engaging comic book that demands to be read. If youíve never picked it up, you MUST start with this issue. It has the emotion, the drama, the action, and the excitement that make the X-Men such a treat to read. This may be Millarís last arc, but itís destined to be remembered as one of the finest in the X-Men canon.
Old feuds get a new light, as Storm takes on Emma Frost!
Written by: Chris Claremont Art by: Salvador Larroca Colors by: Liquid! Letters by: Tom Orzechowski Assistant Editor: Nova Ren Suma Editors: Andrew Lis & Mike Raicht Supervising Editor: Mike Marts Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada President: Bill Jemas
Before I get to the review of this wonderful comment, I feel that I should say something about the current controversy surrounding X-Treme X-Men artist Salvador Larroca and his reassignment to the Tsunami flagship title, Namor.
I had nothing to do with it.
Seriously, though, in a recent message board posting, Larroca indicated that the move was a forced one, and that Marvel issued an ultimatum of Ďeither do it, or find work somewhere elseí. The truth is somewhere in between.
Marvel pays Larroca for exclusive rights to his artwork. This means that they guarantee him a monthly income, steady work, and that he doesnít have to worry about finding his own work for quite some time. In return, Marvel reserves the right to place him where they see fit.
Granted, Marvel could have been more tactful about the move, letting both Larroca, writer Chris Claremont, and the fans of X-Treme X-Men know far enough in advance that the move doesnít come as such a shock. The move has only been decided and announced this week as solicitations for X-Treme X-Men #25, the beginning of the ĎGod Loves, Man Kills 2í arc, still feature Larrocaís name. A replacement name being thrown around at the minute is former Soldier X artist Igor Kordey (who would not be my first choice as replacement).
But the simple truth is that no one can replace Salvador. No other creative forces in recent history have ever seemed like so much of a TEAM to me, before. The two men are good friends, and seem to instinctively know what to give each other to play off of. Thereís no denying that one is greater with the other.
But the beat goes on.
Sometimes, things like this happen. For instance, Mark Bagley has provided pencils for all 38 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man for writer Brian Michael Bendis, but sooner or later, one or the other has got to give. The counter argument may be that Claremont has written the X-Men books for more than 20 years combined, but that is a true rarity these days with the average now being about two or three years. Itís too bad that things change so quickly, but itís all in the interest of keeping things Ďfreshí.
To hell with fresh.
But thatís just my opinion. Reading Claremont and Larroca each month has always been a trest. Salís art is always beautiful to behold, and Claremontís writing just works for me. I always feel like Iím getting my moneyís worth, and at $4.75 Canadian, thatís important to me.
And Americanís complain about price increasesÖ.
But I digress.
This month is another shining example of how good an X-Men comic can be. Though the major villain has still yet to show himself, the characters reveal their complexities brilliantly through action and dialogue. We get to learn tiny bits of info about the past connection that binds Sage and Emma Frost together, as well as see Storm back in action.
Ah, the mark of a true leader. After Sage and Bishop go back to the X-Mansion to collect the wayward young teleporter accused of murder, they find a super-charged Emma being her typical snobby self as she tries to figure things out on her own. Of course, the X-Treme team shoots first (and in this case, made me grin as Emma has had it coming) and a great fight erupts between the two factions of X-Men.
Normally I donít go in for such action heavy issues, but this just worked for me. I havenít seen Emma used so effectively in a long time, and even during her days in Generation X and now in New X-Men, the only bruises she tends to cause are the result of her biting remarks. Itís a nice touch to see her get down and dirty.
Logan appears as well, and though he only has a few moments of dialogue, once again it becomes clear that Claremont is the man to write him. If you canít read between the lines, Iím suggesting that this book is better than New X-Men (which Iím sure many of you will disagree with, which is your right as this is only one manís opinion). While New X-Men may be more refined and political, the ingredients for a great comic book like The X-Men require the talents of people like Larroca and Claremont. The combination of real world events, people, and the level of artwork all make this title truly stand out.
The only odd thing I found was that Storm got into the fight with Emma. While the two have a complex history together that made such a confrontation inevitable, I thought Storm was much weaker than she was after the fight in Madripoor. Then again, leaders are made of stern stuff, so I was able to let that go.
I would have liked to see more of the plot unfold, as well as the mystery of how Sage got her tattoos, and more about the murder that has lead the X-Men to this confrontation. Then again, the fight with Emma was needed to help flush out the characters, their past histories, and to make it smooth sailing for a satisfying conclusion.
The final verdict: not enough new plot, but more than enough action to satisfy me until my next helping. Claremont is once again at the top of his game, and Larrocaís art is flawless.
Itís too bad Sal has to go, but some rumours suggest that heíll only be drawing six issues of Namor and will then find his way home. One interview just before the developments had Larroca commenting on the fact that he expected to be with X-Treme X-Men for the foreseeable future, and that he was quite happy there.
GET YOUR YEARBOOK SIGNED WITH X-CLUSIVE NEW MUTANTS #1
New Signed Edition now available for pre-ordering @ X-World!
X-Men fever continues to reach fever pitch this year with the recent announcement of a new New Mutants series from Marvel Comics by the husband-and-wife writing team of Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir! To ensure that fans get the most from this x-citing x-perience, X-Fan, the #1 online resource for fans of Marvel's X-Men, and its official sponsor X-World Comics are proud to present the New Mutants #1 X-Clusive Signed Creator Edition!
Limited to only 50 copies in the entire world, this X-Clusive Signed Edition comes signed and numbered with a Sealed Certificate of Authenticity for only $24.95! Pre-order now and get an Early Bird Special saving of $10 off the listed price!
Also coming up from X-Fan and X-World is an X-Clusive Signed Creator Edition of Spidey and The Mini Marvels #1 by writer/artist Chris Giarrusso! The cute caricatures that are the Bullpen Bits are back! Limited to only 50 copies in the entire world, this X-Clusive Signed Edition comes signed and numbered with a Sealed Certificate of Authenticity for only $19.95! Pre-order now and get an Early Bird Special saving of $10 off the listed price!
These books are destined to be hot, hot, hot, so head to X-World now to secure your copies today!
For more X-Clusive Creator Editions from X-Fan and X-World - including Wolverine #1 signed by writer Greg Rucka, the Ultimate X-Men #27-29 set signed by artist David Finch, Marville #5: Originville signed by writer Bill Jemas, and the Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 2: X-Men signed by researcher Eric J. Moreels - head to X-World Comics' online store: