Uncanny X-Men #3 – Review

Uncanny X-Men 003 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Published February 2016

Uncanny X-Men 003 aSynopsis – In their quest to save the mutant healers from the ravages of ‘The Riders’ Magneto has to get his hands dirty.

I am starting to really like this series and that is surprising because I was quite on the fence at first. They have an interesting team that has been pulled together by circumstance rather than by any innate connection between them and that leads to all manner of conflicts.

This is actually quite a dream team up, both in the comic and in the real world. Cullen Bunn is on the cusp of becoming one of Marvels mainstay writers and having an X-team in his hands is a really exciting prospect. On the other hand Greg Land has a terrible reputation, however it has been completely unfounded so far in this series. Gone are the long lingering looks at full frontal female nudity* and in are wide thin panels that focus on the characters faces. However his reputation for ‘copying’ seems deminished in this series as the faces are all character appropriate and very consistent.

This is for me, a perfect anti-hero X-Men series; Magneto doing anything he can to get the job done, a tormented Creed trying to go straight and Psylocke acting as the conscience and heart of the team. Given Elizabeth’s ‘chequered’ past you can understand why having her as the teams conscience makes this quite an entertaining prospect.

What I really appreciate here is the ‘reality’ of what is going on, Magneto is not pulling his punches, he quite literally rips a man in half on panel in this issue. I like it when comics do that and we are not left with the bad guys licking their wounds and running away with the heroes shaking their fists at them as they go. This is the sort of effect that you would get if you put together an arch angel, psychic assassin, master of magnetism and a caged animal into one team; carnage, death and destruction.

This is definitely my favourite X-Men book in print at the moment, although given how few of them there are currently around, that is not as big a compliment as it used to be. I want more of the same and if the epilogue to this issue is followed up on, then it looks like things can only get better.

Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

* Obviously not actual nudity, but when they are in skin tight costumes, its merely the colouring that gives us the illusion of clothing…

Deadpool & The Merc$ For Money #1 – Review

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money 001 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Salva Espin and Guru-eFX

Published February 2016

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money 001 aSynopsis – It’s not enough for Deadpool to be bankrolling the Avengers, he needs a little mercenary team on the side just to get his kicks.

Given his recent stature in the Marvel universe this book comes as quite a surprise. Firstly you wouldn’t think that Deadpool would actually have the time to do this, given how integral he is to everything else going on in the Avengers circle. However if I get hung up on that sort of thing then I would never have been able to accept Wolverine’s activities during the 90’s and early 2000’s where he could be found in every second comic from the USA to the Savage Lands.

My real issue is that this just doesn’t seem to fit with what Deadpool is doing at the moment. Don’t get me wrong having ridiculous team ups with mercenaries and doing crazy stuff for money sounds exactly like Deadpool, but he is already doing this in his own titles and the Avengers books where he has set up the Deadpool corps and has loads of other ‘heroes’ running around in his costume.

If I leave aside my general issues with this title and mentally assume this is supposed to be before any of the recent events happened, then this is a lot of fun. It is great to see an uninhibited Deadpool going nuts with some friends who for the most part are even more nuts than he is.

This book carries on the split that there has been between the Deadpool ongoing series and the limited series. Gerry Duggan has been writing the ongoing series and for the most part Cullen Bunn the limited one and you can practically ‘feel’ the difference in the character. It is hard to entirely put my finger on it, but I think the best way of explaining it is this; given a situation with an innocent bystander, in the ongoing series Deadpool would probably save him, in the limited ones, I get the impression he just wouldn’t care. Both of them write good Deadpool, but for the most part Duggan gives him a bit more heart.

This book has  no meaning and no purpose other than to be a really amusing bit of light entertainment and frankly we can all do with a bit of that in our comics from time to time. It doesn’t all have to be about world changing decisions and cosmic entities, for once we can enjoy some stupidity.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

 

Uncanny X-Men #2 Review

Uncanny X-Men (2016-) 002-000 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #2

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Published January 2016

Uncanny X-Men (2016-) 002-000 aSynopsis – Magneto is starting to regret leaving that healing mutant to die, but his death has revealed a pattern of murders in the community, with Elixir and Triage next in the the firing line.

Uncanny X-Men has always been ‘my’ X-Men. I am not sure entirely why that is (and Astonishing briefly stole the show,) but the team that turns up in this comic always seems to ‘click’ for me. In recent years it has always been the darker, more ‘adult’ team, which may have helped. This new series does not disappoint in this regard and death, destruction and mayhem are certainly close at hand.

Pretty much every character in this series ranks up there as either a long term member, or recent joinee, to my list of favourite X-Men; even Sabertooth has grown on me. In fact as much as I hated AXIS, it did two good things; Superior Iron Man and the non-one dimensional Sabertooth.*

This book is the perfect example of my theory as to why Marvel has improved so much in recent years. They are slowly but surely doing away with the concept of ‘villains’ and have moved everyone onto their own moral scale. In reality no one thinks of themselves as the ‘bad guy’ they are always the hero of their own story and the best book are written with that in mind. It has meant that Magneto and Mystique are not always going to be antagonists and for that matter Cyclops and Captain America are certainly no longer always protagonists. This series brings together one of the more ‘edgy’ teams who are on the slide in terms of their moral standpoint, but that does not mean they are ‘bad’ merely that they will resort to any measures necessary to safeguard the mutant population.

We still are in the dark as to where this series is going, but the writing is fantastic, Greg Lands art appears to be less ‘scripted’ than usual and is so much more engaging for it. There are so many unanswered questions in this story, none more so than how did they all end up together, but also what happened to Angel and just whose side is Mystique really on?

Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

* Even still, it doesn’t mean that that series was worth any more than as use for emergency toilet paper.

 

 

 

Drax #3 Review

Drax (2015-) 003-000 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Drax

Issue #3

Written by CM Punk and Cullen Bunn with Art by Scott Hepburn and Matt Milla

Published January 2016

Drax (2015-) 003-000 aSynopsis – The moon that Drax crashed on is fast becoming a ghost town, even the robots are going missing, but never fear, detective Drax is on the case…

 

I have to admit, this comic is amusing. Ok, it isn’t laugh out loud funny like Deadpool has been recently, but it makes me smile and it reads really easily. In some ways, I cannot really ask more more as not every comic needs to be a deep and meaningful slog to read through.

This book manages it in a way that other ‘joke’ series seem to miss. Howard the Duck tries to make the world around him mad, while he stays sane and all this does is diminish the rest of the Marvel universe because it takes its environment seriously. In much the same way Squirrel Girl misses the mark for me because that takes really powerful villains and simply makes fun of them, which again diminished the value of the other comics where those same villains are genuine threats.

What Drax does is take it way off Earth to a point where you can be silly, without affecting the status quo of the Marvel universe, it then however also takes the character himself less seriously. Drax is one of those ‘in your face’ ultra-serious characters who in the end become a parody of themselves when written straight. He is all about killing Thanos and punching everyone he doesn’t like in the face; he is pretty much that straight forward. However if you put him in his own title and try to play that out to its logical conclusion then he is dead by issue 3 because he is obviously not powerful enough to take down Thanos on his own. What you do instead is give him that motivation and then strand him on a back water planet while he goes stark raving mad. It’s a recipe for success I can promise you.

Having re-read all of what I have just written I realise that this could be taken out of context and read as sarcasm, but please trust me no matter how ridiculous it sounds this book just works. I will admit I have no idea how long they can hold my interest with the absolute randomness this comic produces, but until it gets annoying, this is just really good fun.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Moon Knight #16 – Podcast Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Moon Knight

Issue #16

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by German Peralta and Dan Brown

Published: June 2015

Moon Knight 016-1 - c

Synopsis: 
Moon Knight swoops into action in his Moon-glider to save the innocent victims of New York from the Rapter Gods servants. What he finds is grisly and disturbing, but far from the worst he has come across. But why where people promised he would protect them?

Thoughts: 
This is not Moon Knight at his cerebral finest, it is however a fantastic action romp for half the issue. Whereas previous books have mostly required his mind to solve them, this made use of his best weapons and equipment. The action scene that takes up the first half of the issue is fantastic and shows us that Moon Knight can be a really fun read without needing to challenge us visually.

The end of the issue sets up a lot of questions moving forwards. Who is the Raptor God and why does she think that Moon Knight would be on her side, or is it that she is one and the same as the entity that saved Marc all that time ago in Egypt?

Rating: 
For any other book this would be a fantastic issue, but it has a lot to live up to given how good this series has been previously. While the story is fine and the art as good as ever for this book, I have such high expectations that this failed to live up to them. The podcast was supposed to be the best and worst of Cullen Bunn, but Deadpools Secret Secret Wars was better than expected, and this was worse that expected, leaving me with the average and average of Cullen Bunn, but either way it is still not bad.

3/5

For the complete review, please check out the podcast –Highway 616 Episode #3.

 

Deadpools Secret, Secret Wars #2 – Podcast Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Deadpools Secret, Secret Wars

Issue #2

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Matteo Lolli and Ruth Redmond

Published: June 2015

Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars 002-1 - c

Synopsis:
Deadpool is back in Secret Wars. No, not this one, the one before that. No, not that one, the one before that one, not the sequel… Anyway, our beloved 4th wall breaking hero has shoe-horned himself into history where he does not belong and decides to go on a rampage getting healed and pretty, punching out Xavier and making the Hulk mad.

Thoughts: 
This is one of those books that I really wish I had read the original of, because it would make a whole lot more sense. I get some of the humour because it is basic Deadpool fair, and that is funny enough; but if I had read the original Secret Wars I am certain I would be getting so many more jokes and in-references.

Also, not knowing the original series is starting to affect my ability to follow the story. What is happening in the background is obviously the main story thread of that series, but I am only getting snippets of it here and there, so it makes everything either impossible to follow, or simply pointless background noise, which is a real shame.

Rating: 
If I knew the original series, this would be a much better book. I probably get about a quarter of the jokes and even less of the plot, but if I was old enough to have read Secret Wars when it came out originally, or was keen enough to have gone back and read it recently, then this would probably make so much more sense.

3/5 – but if you knew the original series, chances are this is a solid 4/5

For the complete review, please check out the podcast –Highway 616 Episode #3.

 

Magneto #17 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Magneto

Issue #17

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire

Published: May 2015

Magneto 017cMagneto has been on rather a roller coaster in this volume. His series hit some real highs back when it first started, but it was then dragged down by the behemoth that was AXIS. It was the best part of a truly terrible event comic, but as they say you cannot polish a turd no matter how hard you try*. Ever since then it has been on this undulating downwards slope towards either cancellation or collision with Secret Wars. That is until this issue.

I have never been particularly fond of the art style in this series, but I cannot fault it for its consistency. At a time where we have an artistic travesty called ‘Wolverines’ with a different penciler every week, Magneto has stayed true to Walta. It means that you know exactly what to expect every issue, but that it is going to be uninspiring and bland. However I realise that I have been horribly harsh to this series in my reviews and I will make up for it now. Yes, the art is quite plain and ‘ordinary’ but that is because the story is not. The juxtaposition between the banal and the craziness of this story is what keeps it grounded. When you have mad super-powers that we all take for granted (like ultimate control over magnetism) it is all too easy to go absolutely mad with the art with force beams everywhere, blurred CGI effects and 60’s style garish coloured costumes.

So – sorry Gabriel Hernandez Walta – I completely misjudged this comic for so long for what is clearly a attempt to bring some gritty realism to this book. I think the best compliment I can give you is that it worked so well it took me this long to realise it. The story in this issue done any other way would have lost so much in garish displays and the pivotal subtle moment would have been utterly lost by it.

Conversely to Walta, I have always been a fan of Cullen Bunn, probably started by his Deadpool mini-series over the last few years. The fact that he managed to write a half decent comic connected to AXIS also means he deserves a huge amount of credit and you can see here what he can do without that sort of shackle.

Magneto has returned to Genosha to carry on his work to build a home for Mutant kind in the rubble of their previous refuge. However peace is not something that comes easily to mutants and especially not to one such as Erik. This book has some wonderful flashbacks to his past, a place that allows for near endless stories as he escaped from the Nazi Concentration camps. It turns out a man from his past has returned and is now on his island killing his people; a man who simply cannot still be alive and turns out to be impossible to kill.

I am not doing this book justice I know, but clearly I would need to be as good a writer as Cullen is to get my feelings across accurately. Also, I would need a lot of spoilers! Without ruining a book for everyone who has not yet had a chance to read it** I will endeavour to explain why this is so good. So many times in comics you have an unkillable villain, an unstoppable menace which our heroes battle to no avail. However at the end of the book they punch that bit harder, or make the magic device that lets them win, it always comes down to the stupidity of the villain or the power of the plot, very rarely does the medium allow something unexpected to happen.

I thought it was all over in the middle of the book when Magneto impaled his nemesis with 10’s of metal shards and then snapped his neck. I was expecting a long and tedious break down of how this 90 year old man still looked relatively young and where his powers came from and a trail of clues that would lead Magneto onto his next adventure. What I was not expecting was anything like what they pulled out. Even when he slithered away as a pool of living goo, I expected Magneto to do something hokey with the iron in his blood, but again I was completely wrong.

When you read the book I guarantee you will do a double take because I simply did not believe it at first. Then I thought about it and realised it was the only thing he could do in the circumstance, accept end himself as was pointed out in the comic. This changed from a comic into a morality tale, a question about the needs of the one outweighing the needs of the many.

Cullen – I salute you, I never expected to read anything like this in a Marvel comic. You exceeded my expectations on every level and from a story perspective, this is one of the best comics this year without question.

* And I don’t want to hear from anyone who has seen Mythbusters because they cheated.

**Because the world is now divided into people have read this comic, and those who are going to read it…

Magneto #14 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Magneto

Issue #14

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire

March 2015

007Cullen Bunn is playing a dangerous game and I love him for it. Magento is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating, enjoyable comic book characters of all time. By traditional definition he’s known as a villain, but he resides in the grey area more than any other character. I’ve spent just as much time cheering for him as I have detesting him, and that’s where Bunn needs to be careful. Up until now, the series has seen Magneto going after mutant-abusing scumbags, foes so awful that you don’t think twice when Magento rips them apart. But now Bunn is toeing the line, making the readers and even Magneto himself question his own motives.

Not that Magneto leaning back towards the dark side would be an inherently bad thing. He does make a good bad guy, after all. But bad guys traditionally don’t make great protagonists. It can be done, and I don’t doubt Bunn’s ability, but it’s a tricky feat and fans can’t be blamed if they feel betrayed after falling in love with the freedom fighter Magneto only to have him turn terrorist for the umpteenth time. I realize that I’m selling the character short by implying that he switches allegiances on a dime. He’s very complex and his sometimes contradictory actions are the result of conflicting emotions. That’s what great about the character, but it doesn’t mean that fans are going to like him battling it out with S.H.I.E.L.D. as much as they’ve liked him taking it to the unquestionably nasty foes he’s encountered so far.

I trust Bunn, though. I think he’s going to continue to toe that line and he’s going to use our fear against us. Magento isn’t a good guy. On his best days he’s an anti-hero, but a murdering anti-hero all the same. We can root for anti-heroes, though. We can’t root for bad guys. Bunn knows this, and he likely knows that we’re all shaking in our boots wondering if we’re going to see the Master of Magnetism lose his patience with humanity once more.

Magneto #13 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Magneto

Issue #13

Written by Cullen Bunn, Art by Javier Fernandez

Published: February 2015

Magneto #13

Now that the Red Onslaught story has wrapped up, at least on Magneto’s end, we can get into the stuff that really matter: supervillain groupies.

What wait?

Magneto #13 focuses heavily on Briar Raleigh, with Magneto himself only showing up a few times throughout, once in a flashback. This has been coming for some time. Briar’s entire presence has been a mystery waiting to unfold and I’m more than curious to see what’s up with her. However, Briar isn’t the most interesting thing about this issue. What really grabbed me was the secret, supervillain-worshipping flea market.

Briar finds herself at said flea market, where we see people freaking out over Loki, Doctor Doom, Apocalypse, you name it. One stand is selling pictures of Mystique and several vendors are offering DVDs of supervillain attack footage. Of course Briar makes her way to an old friend peddling Magneto-themed goods. What’s even more bizarre about this guy is that he’s a victim of Magento’s attacks, which gives the whole thing a stockhold syndrome angle. There’s also a pair of women who give Briar a phony story about being attacked by Magneto, one of the girls proudly showing off her scar, and afterwards Briar remarks that they’ve almost convinced themselves that it’s true.

Despite the interesting stuff going down with Briar, and stuff is definitely going down by the end of the issue, I want to explore the cult-like behavior of all of these supervillain fanatics. Obviously I’m not telling Cullen Bunn how to do his job, and I’m grateful that he gave us even a quick glimpse into this world. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing and he might be opposed to stretching it out for good reason, but I can’t ignore that this concept is what if the more interesting things I’ve seen in comics for a while. Magneto #13 is a good issue likely leading up to some more good stuff, but Magneto and Briar aside, what a world Bunn has created.

Magneto #11 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Magneto

Issue #11

Written by Cullen Bunn, Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Published: December 2014

Magneto #11

Magneto has been a consistently good title since it debuted earlier this year. I’ve enjoyed Cullen Bunn’s previous work but I feel like he’s really hit a home run with Magneto, though I suppose I’m a bit biased considering my enduring love for the character. This has been a strong run, but the last few issues have felt less than great, and I think issue 11 might be the worst yet. Bear in mind that the “worst” issue of a spectacular run is still plenty good, but it’s discouraging to see the series take a dip, albeit a small one.

I don’t blame Bunn, though. I blame the creative team behind Avengers & X-Men: Axis, the current event that Magneto is now a part of. I say this knowing full well that Bunn might be part of that team that I’m blaming, but I stand what I said. Bunn, when left to his own devices, produced a stellar comic. Now that he has to work his series into the bigger event, it’s not flowing as well as it was. This is part of the reason I dislike events. I understood the appeal of universe-wide events and they can be fun as hell, but they’re also disruptive and you can end up with incidents like this, where Magneto is worse for having to be a part of it. Of course, the character himself is a big part of Axis, but I’ve seen situations before where in order to avoid having to take part in an event, a series will run a flashback arc or give the book some other reason to skip the event entirely. I wish that was the case here.

This is all speculation on my part. For all I know, it could Bunn pushing to write his series around Axis, but if that’s indeed the case, then I stand by my argument that he works better on his own. I’m still enjoying Magneto, but I’ll be glad when this is all over.