War of Kings is a blog dedicated to my favourite comic books, books, games and movies.

Monday, September 1, 2008

From the Front - August

I wasn't liking the black website, so I went in completely the opposite direction. Anyway, finally some comic reviews. X-Factor #33 was missing at the shop - I checked the online Marvel catalog to make sure it did actually come out the same week as the others, and it did, but it was sold out. And usually when something is sold out, I'm one of the people who doesn't get a copy. Fortunately there's a second printing, and the Layla Miller special was waiting for me, so I still get to read about an X-Factor character. I'm not worrying much about spoiler, cause I'm pretty sure most people have red these already.

X-Factor Special: Layla Miller
First off, that’s a wicked cover. Inside the book quickly goes the way of despair, death and destruction, with Layla Miller making the best lucky-I-know-what's-going-to-happen escape from imprisonment since newspapers started predicting eclipses. The creepiest part of her standing there for days on end was her muttering 'one of us' in her sleep. I thought her recent appearance in the main X-Factor book was just Jamie's imagination, but now I'm not so sure. Layla walking away from the destroyed detention camp saying 'by the way, it was 10' whilst the panel showed the large X she had drawn was also cool. Layla never misses a chance to be snarky, the winning number to the guard's pool was staring them in the face the whole time.

It seems that everyone has to rip off the phrase 'No more mutants' these days. If I never see it used again, it will be too soon. Even 80 years in the future. I must admit that the placard was still was the cleverest use of the phrase I've seen. The fact that history seems to be so easily forgotten by the general man in the street is disturbing. How will we learn from our mistakes if we can't remember them?

We meet an approximately 100-years-old Cyclops, who, in a twist, is revealed to be a cyborg. I'm sure I don't have to explain why this is cool and ironic at the same time. We also meet his daughter Ruby, the best new addition to the Summers family since… ever. I find myself really hoping to see her again.

Once again, David reminds us that a lot of what Layla knows is just because she's observant. This is what makes her such a good private investigator and justifies her being a member of X-Factor. He also reminds us that for all her bluster, Layla is still just a little girl, and knowing all the bad stuff that's going to happen has taken a toll on her.

But amidst the doom and gloom we have two rays of light. One is a simple time paradox which proves Layla will get home eventually; and the other is Ruby Summers starting the famous Summers Rebellion, promising freedom to all mutants. Although I can't help wondering: if Layla pre-empted the Summers Rebellion before it was supposed to happen - has she changed the future from Bishop's version to Damien Tryp's version?

Verdict: Major Victory! Once again Layla justifies being my favourite Marvel character.

Uncanny X-Men #501
More violence against women. Did it have to be Pixie who got beaten up? On the plus side, this issue has a version of Cyclops that I haven't seen. Unlike the one seen recently in Uncanny and X-Force, who no longer seems to have a heroic moral stance, this Scott seems to be at his wits end, and hints that the one we've seen recently is a fa├žade. This is a Scott who builds a crib in the middile of the night in an attempt to convince himself that Cable and the baby are safe and are coming back to the present soon. They're coming back. And the baby will need a crib, cause they're coming back. I don't see how this Scott can carry on very long without suffering a nervous breakdown.

An interesting aside is that Emma hints she's considering having a baby. Think about this - the Layla Miller special takes place 10 years in the future, and Ruby hints she could be close to that age. Hmm.

The rest of the X-Men act just like they should. Beast talks like a nice guy with a high IQ actually does. Angel drives fast cars and hands them out like party favours. Wolverine drinks beer in the morning. Nightcrawler plays teleportation pranks.

The leaders of the anti-mutant Hellfire Cult are revealed to be mutants themselves - Empath and someone called the Red Queen. Now Red Queen, as far as I know, was a position that only existed in the British version of the Hellfire Club, so I'm not sure if the Hellfire Cult is actually linked to the American Hellfire Club or not. I tend to think that its linked to the 'Sisterhood of Evil Mutants' we've been told about.

And Nightcrawler's pranks -he can catch flying objects in midair and redirect them - are not just for amusement. In a modified version of the Fastball Special - which I like to call a Fastball Surprise - Colossus throws Wolverine, and Nightcrawler teleports him in front of a group of Cultist about to beat up Karma.

Verdict: Minor Victory. It should all be very entertaining, but it seems like the X-Men are slowing down and doing some reflection. Which would be ok, if they hadn't been already doing that for the last five issues.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 (Secret Invasion)
So far Guardians of the Galaxy has been highly entertaining, but everything has been far too convenient. Star-Lord and Adam Warlock decide they need to protect the Galaxy, everyone they choose to be on the team conveniently agrees, they get an impregnable base of operations which conveniently allows them to teleport to anywhere in the Galaxy, and on their second mission they conveniently find a Captain America analogy frozen in space - the Avengers were cemented together by finding Captain America frozen in the Arctic. But now its all catching up with them. It is revealed, not in this order, that Mantis messed with the teams mind to make them agree to join them, that Cosmo didn't get proper permission for the Guardians to use Knowhere, and that Major Victory is becoming more trouble than he's worth. And if that wasn't bad enough, the teleportation cortex has been destroyed (so now, not only can no one get into Knowhere, no one can get out of it either) and is slowly killing everyone with radiation. Oh, and they've been infiltrated by skrull shapeshifters. You can tell by the banner on the cover, and the fact that there are three dead skrulls in the infirmary.

Only DnA could make the sheer ridiculousness of the Guardians into a serious story. The Guardians are at each other's throats, accusing each of being a skrull, mostly because of how ridiculous all the character's origins and powers are. The paranoia gets so high that Gamora accuses Star-Lord of being a skrull due to him hiding behind his mask all the time - even though skrulls don't need masks to look like someone, and he spends half of each issues with the mask off anyway.

Verdict: Major Victory! Maybe its just cause I haven’t got any Secret Invasion books, but I don't mind a detour into skrull territory that's written this well into the book's storyline.

3 comments:

  1. Great reviews.

    I like the white too, both colors looked good, but I really like the new banner with Medusa. Nicely done.

    I'm considering picking up Uncanny a little ahead of time, though I was planning on jumping on with 504. I haven't heard many good things about these last 2 issues. so I'm not sure...

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  2. I really liked #500. Really really liked it. I don't understand the complaints about Magneto being out of character - to me it was obvious he was putting on a show, he hasn't acted like that for years. Its just that this issue seemed to rehash a lot of ground already covered in #500, they explained the move to San Fransisco and how the X-Men operate now and showed them hanging around the offices doing nothing all over again. And we already saw the guys with chains jump Pixie. Its like I bought the same comic twice, except this one had Scott building a crib instead of the X-Men fighting Magneto.

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  3. It's too bad Magneto's suit got damaged, if he'd become a regular villain, that would have been great.

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