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2F2F DVD Contest
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X-Fan Reviews:
Weekly X-Men Reviews
By The X-Fan Team

03.11.03




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, I’ve 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 it’s 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 can’t wait for more, and yet I never want it to come because it’s just one step closer to the end.

Fans have been speculating for months, and now I HAVE to reveal a spoiler as it’s central to the story that I’ve 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 ‘die’. 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 isn’t the Wolverine I’ve come to know and love for years in the Marvel Universe. This one is much more dangerous, and cunning, than I’d 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 Magneto’s 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 ‘almost’ have a heart-to-heart in the middle of a pitched battle. The armoured mutant makes mention that they don’t have a lot of time left to open up, and even expresses his belief that he trusts Logan’s word over what happened in the Savage Land. This, folks, is what we call ‘dramatic irony’ 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 ‘fastball special’ move he’s 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.

I’m 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. It’s very rare that I find myself so eager for the next issue in any comic series, but I want all of ‘Return of the King’ and I want it now. This is Millar at his best, and rivals any of the work he’s done over in The Ultimates.

Adam Kubert is back, thank the comic gods. Though I’m really impressed with Dave Finch and his work on the book, and I’m 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. Millar’s script wouldn’t have been half as effective had it not been for the way Kubert draws Cyclops’ pain, the emotional scene between Storm and Beast, and everything in between.

Dave Finch provides this month’s cover, however, and completely redeems himself after that… interesting… picture of Jean on last week’s issue. (I’m 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. It’s as simple as that. Ultimate X-Men is a thrilling and engaging comic book that demands to be read. If you’ve 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 Millar’s last arc, but it’s destined to be remembered as one of the finest in the X-Men canon.

ART: 5/5
STORY: 5/5

OVERALL: 5/5 (Editor's Choice!)


Article continued below advertisement


Ultimate X-Men #29

Reviewer: Brian E. Wilkinson
Quick Rating: Great!
Story Title: The Judas Boy

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 ‘either do it, or find work somewhere else’. 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 ‘God Loves, Man Kills 2’ arc, still feature Larroca’s 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. There’s 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. It’s too bad that things change so quickly, but it’s all in the interest of keeping things ‘fresh’.

To hell with fresh.

But that’s just my opinion. Reading Claremont and Larroca each month has always been a trest. Sal’s art is always beautiful to behold, and Claremont’s writing just works for me. I always feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, and at $4.75 Canadian, that’s important to me.

And American’s complain about price increases….

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 don’t go in for such action heavy issues, but this just worked for me. I haven’t 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. It’s 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 can’t read between the lines, I’m suggesting that this book is better than New X-Men (which I’m sure many of you will disagree with, which is your right as this is only one man’s 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 Larroca’s art is flawless.

It’s too bad Sal has to go, but some rumours suggest that he’ll 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.

Find your way home, Sal.

See you next month.

ART: 4/5
STORY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4/5

Buy this issue online now from X-World Comics and save!





X-Store

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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:

http://x-worldcomics.com/yourvirtualstore/default.asp?shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=346~main


---------------------
Eric J. Moreels
X-Fan Editor-in-Chief
xfan@ihug.com.au

Brian E. Wilkinson
Editor, Head Reviewer
bewilkinson@yahoo.ca

 

 
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