Uncanny X-Men #20 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #20

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Carlos Pacheco

Published: December 2012

The world is still reeling from the destruction left in the wake of the Phoenix. The entity not only returned to Earth, but possessed numerous mutants, multiplying its damage. The most destructive of its vessels was Cyclops, who now sits in special high-tech cell in a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility not on any maps. Things aren’t going well for the X-Men, not by a long shot, but at least the worst has passed.

Or has it?

That question resides at the core of Uncanny X-Men #20 as Cyclops gets a surprise visit from Kate Kildare, who presents a much bigger threat than anyone could have anticipated. Her meeting with Cyclops brings to mind Hannibal Lecter’s meetings with FBI agent Clarice Starling, only the psychopath is the one sitting outside of the cell.

Meanwhile, across the globe in Siberia, Colossus sits in a field, surveying the ruins of the Phoenix farms.. Like Cyclops, he also gets a visitor. Unlike Cyclops, his scene isn’t nearly as entertaining. I love Colossus, don’t get me wrong, but I nothing invested in his relationship with Magik, so watching them go toe-to-toe does absolutely nothing for me.

Finally, there’s a third issue thread with Danger and Unit, and while Unit is a fascinating character, I just don’t have enough concern for these characters to care about what’s going on. The scenes themselves aren’t inherently bad, and it’s not as if I have a special place in my heart for Kate Kildare. Cyclops and Kate’s scenes carries much, much more weight with it than either of the other two, so they both pale by comparison. Reading the Colossus and Danger material just makes us long for the situation with Cyclops. Gillen struck gold with his Kate Kildare twist and I can’t help but think that this could’ve been a really solid issue had he devoted more time to that.

CMRO Update (11/29/2012)

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Another Brick for Justice League Instead of Batman Reboot

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

Warner Bros. appears to be getting more serious about its rumored Justice League film as recent comments and rumors have suggested the studio plans on including recent DC films into its Justice League plans to create, retroactively at least, a build for the superhero team up.

Over the weekend Man of Steel writer-director Zack Snyder walked back comments that his Superman film would exist on its own and not be at all tied to any of the studios previous films. Instead he suggested that Warner Bros. was letting him on some of thier Justice League plans and it was part of his job to keep the build up on track in Man of Steel.

According to report in HitFlix today, it appears that similar thoughts are running through the studio heads heads regarding Batman, with the website reporting rumors that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be reprising his character John Blake as the new Batman instead of a reboot of the franchise has had been suggested over the summer.

There are currently no plans in the works for a new Batman film yet, but according to HitFlix Gordon-Levitt and at least one other Dark Knight actor have getting deals done with the studio to reprise their characters.

An actual Justice League film, which has been set for a 2015 release date already by Warner Bros., won’t start filming for more than a year if at all but it could be the studio is laying all of it’s ground work as early as possible similar to the way Marvel did with “The Avengers” which sources say Warner Bros. has studied intensely. It’s also possible the characters could be getting set to appear in another DC superhero film ahead of time (such as the still rumored Green Lantern sequel, The Flash or even the Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel).

Time will tell.

X-Factor #245 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

X-Factor

Issue #237

Written by Peter David, Art by Leonard Kirk

Published: December 2012

X-Factor is one of Marvel’s more drama-filled books, but I don’t mean that in a negative sense, just a matter-of-fact sense. It doesn’t necessarily have better characters than the other titles, but it seems to focus on their relationships more than most books, more so than a lot of the other X-titles. Issue #245 is the fifth and final issue of the Breaking Points arc. To say it’s been a tough week for X-Factor is putting it mildly. Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, and Banshee are all gone, tensions are higher than ever, and the team may not be done shedding members.

Peter David is an excellent writer. His run on the Hulk produced my favorite Hulk stories of all time. The reason he was so good at writing that title was because he knew how to write Bruce Banner. His character-handling ability comes through in spades in X-Factor and is the major reason that the comic works as well as it does. If the behind-the-scenes drama in your superhero comic is more entertaining than most of your action, you’re either doing something horribly wrong or you’re just that good at writing your characters. The latter is the case with David.

While you would expect the finale issue of Breaking Points to be wall-to-wall craziness, the bulk of the issue centers around Polaris and Havok having a very serious conversation. That may not sound appealing, in fact it doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s engaging nonetheless. These are real people have a real conversation with real ramifications. Dialogue is all David needs to pull you in and he accomplishes that here. The members of X-Factor are feeling the effects of the most damaging few days in the group’s history and the blow back from it hasn’t quite finished. The tagline for the story arc states that it’ll change X-Factor forever, and that’s exactly what is happening.

CMRO Update (11/28/2012)

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Moore/Morrison Feud Brought Out to the Open

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

Comics blogger Padraig O Mealoid (it’s Gaelic, get over it) has been working on his critique/investigation into the similarities between Alan Moore’s seminal superhero work, particularly “Watchmen,” and Robert Mayer’s novel “Superfolks” for quite some time. In the process he found himself dragged increasingly off into a strange, and seemingly one-sided, feud between esteemed comics writers Moore and Grant Morrison.

Most of that feud has remained the department of a handful of off-handed comments by Moore as portion of other interviews while Morrison has remained notably mum on the subject. That all changed over the weekend as Mealoid, while working on the next portion of the Superfolks story, received several responses from Morrison in answer to various Moore quotes over the years, providing among other things an interesting look at the early days of Vertigo and the British Wave.

It’s a long read and worth checking out over at The Beat, but to sum up most of Moore’s comments (which, it must be said, have been largely offhand on a subject he doesn’t seem to care much for or have thought about) have suggested that Vertigo was created largely as a result of the success of the pioneering work he did on Swamp Thing and Watchmen and while he knew that’s what it was supposed to be he didn’t think too much of many of the individuals who followed him into the comics industry as so many of them rehashed his work rather than charting their own course.

Morrison, being vocal about it for the first, takes some issue with that stating that among other things his comic writing career started some five years earlier than Moore’s and his relationship with Karen Berger and Vertigo came separately from Moore as he and many other early writers were brought in through the backdoor via editor Art Young, who moved an adult-themed comics imprint called Touchmark which never got off the ground from Disney to DC when he was hired to help Berger develop Vertigo. Morrison did admit that he wrote some works in a style similar Moore’s in order to find work as many editors were looking for that, the nature of the creation of Vertigo suggests that British Wave of the 1980s was more of a event that was going to happen no matter what due to the talent coming up at 2000 AD and other British outlets rather than a wave following in Moore’s wake.

Interesting stuff and worth checking out. And for those not in the know on the question which started the whole ball rolling: several years before Watchmen novelist Robert Mayer published a novel entitled Superfolks about what superheroes would be like if they actually existed and how would the world really change as a result. It included among other things the then revolutionary idea that you would have to be fundamentally screwed up to want to take up superheroeing in the first place. Slightly dated but also well worth a read, it has been suggested many times that Moore plundered at least some ideas from Watchmen from it and took much of the credit due to the fact that so few people have actually read Superfolks. Whether that’s true or not is hard to say, but perhaps once Meloid finishes his 10,000 plus word (and counting!) article and finishes referring the Morrison/Moore feud we will actually find out.

Spider-Man: Noir #4 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Spider-Man: Noir

Issue #4

Written by David Hine & Fabrice Sapolsky, Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Published: May 2009

The four-part miniseries draws to a close, and I confess, I’m going to miss the super stylized Noir!verse Spidey. I’ve had my little nitpicks about the series–mainly, I think the serious tone occasionally messes with Peter’s character–but overall, I’ve had a blast with the gritty art style and the fast-paced gangster plotline. The cameos are great, the characters are recast well into the universe, and it’s a neat twist on the Spiderman origin story that fits really well with the universe they’ve set up. I imagine that this sort of thing only feels special because it’s NOT the sort of thing you see every day–but dammit, I’m still sad to let this one go!

The conclusion to the miniseries is completely satisfying. It’s tense and powerful and filled with moral dilemmas and grey areas that make for a pretty intense read. Peter even starts to take on more of his canon personality–he gets a few cute one-liners in, though they’re appropriate cheese-levels for the darker tone of this series. And hey, I can dig it. My only disappointment was that Felicia Hardy ended up being put in the position of lady hostage and didn’t get the chance to fight back–come on!

All the plotlines wrap up neatly, but not TOO neatly. It’s an appropriate place to leave our hero, with World War 2 approaching, and the city temporarily at peace. Still, while the book wraps up as satisfyingly as it possibly good, I like this universe and this aesthetic so much that I can’t help wishing that the series was longer, that the characters were more fleshed out. But I suppose that’s simply the sign of a good read.

CMRO Update (11/27/2012)

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Fall of the Hulks: Savage She-Hulks #2 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Fall of the Hulks: Savage She-Hulks

Issue #2

Written by Jeff Parker, Art by Salvador Espin

Published: June 2010

Fall of the Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks #2 reveals the fate of Jen Walters, who hasn’t been seen since The Incredible Hulk #600. Since then she’s been imprisoned by the Intelligencia, who are using her gamma-irradiated body to power Doc Samson’s cathexis ray and create an army of new Hulks. She’s freed by Lyra in an issue that happens in between the panels of The Incredible Hulk #608. Unfortunately, beyond learning what happened to Jen, this issue doesn’t really add a lot to the overall Fall of the Hulks storyline.

We do get some background information the fills in a few blanks. We find that Bruce Banner contacted Lyra through her damaged advisor unit, where he instructed Lyra to wait to free Jen until he and the other Marvel heroes attacked the Intelligencia’s helicarrier. Using that diversion, the She-Hulks are able to escape without drawing the notice of the Intelligencia, who are distracted elsewhere. Unfortunately, they still have to contend with the red She-Hulk, who finds them and attacks.

The fight with the red She-Hulk is fairly generic and ultimately unsatisfying. We have a bit of back and forth while Jen tells her that she is being manipulated by the Leader and his allies, that she has to stay true to herself, that she’s not really a killer, blah blah blah. It’s almost the generic superhero dialogue you hear when one of their number is under mind control. Maybe that’s what’s going on with the red She-Hulk, but that doesn’t make it any less clichéd.

For a guy who really has had a chance to shine in the Red Hulk miniseries, Jeff Parker seems to be hitting a lot of sour notes with his She-Hulks mini. Maybe he just doesn’t have a good feel for the characters, or maybe he doesn’t have a lot to work with. What makes his red Hulk/Bruce Banner relationship work so well is the mutual hatred they have for one another, which results in a lot of natural conflict. Meanwhile, Lyra and Jen like each other, and Marvel’s priority with the red She-Hulk has been to keep people guessing about her identity rather than give her any character development of her own. Without an anchor to support the character, she doesn’t feel like somebody we should care about. Essentially, she is the red Hulk from the early days, which means she’s more obnoxious than interesting.

The art isn’t doing this title many favors, either. Once again there are two pencilers here, but their styles are very different and the sudden shift in the art direction is jarring. The art goes from a somewhat realistic yet cartoonish style to looking like it was taken right out of a Sonic the Hedgehog comic. That’s not to say the art is bad, but it doesn’t really mesh with the overall feel of the event.

All told, The Savage She-Hulks #2 is a miss in an event that has generally gotten better as it has gone along. The issue is worth checking out if you are looking for a definitive answer as to what happened to Jen Walters, but other than that it doesn’t add anything to the overall Fall of the Hulks event.

Man of Steel to Potentially Start Build to Justice League

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

Man of Steel director Zack Snyder laid some more groundwork Monday for a potential Justice League film and the part his take on Superman will play in it in an interview with the New York Post.

Though he deferred having any input in the actual Justice League film, which Warner Bros. has announced they plan to have on screens by 2015 in order to compete with The Avengers 2, when asked point break if he had been read in on the studios plans he did admit:

“I can’t really say anything to that, because that’s a big spoiler. I will say, yeah, they trust me to keep them on course,” when it comes to making certain Superman will fit into a larger superhero universe.

The film, written by David Goyer and being overseen by Dark Knight helmer Christopher Nolan, could well lay the groundwork for a build up to the Justice League in a similar vein to 2008’s Iron Man which put down the first hint of trying a connected story with its closing credits sequence featuring Samuel L. Jackson. And being the first DC superhero film out of the gate after the monstrous success of The Avengers industry expectations for a successful DC answer to the new franchise are high.

There are still several bumps in the road to a Justice League film coming together, not least being the current tussle at the top of Warner Bros. which may be putting other League build up films such as The Flash on the backburner. Sources have suggested in the past that Warner Bros. may go the other opposite route of Avengers and introduce the bulk of its characters in Justice League before spinning them off to their own films.

And of course it the film, which has no director announced yet or script, would have to contend not just with Avengers 2 but also with Star Wars: Episode VII which has since been announced for the same summer, which together could likely suck all of the blockbuster air out of the room.

Superman star Henry Cavill and most of the Man of Steel players are signed to three-year deals with Warner Bros. to make future Superman appearances, but those do not necessarily mean they will be in Superman films.

And, it must be said, all of this rides on the actual success of Man of Steel. Once upon a time Brandon Routh was signed to a three-picture contract to play Superman, too.

Man of Steel is due for release Summer 2013. The first full length trailer expected in front of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey this Christmas.