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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

From the Front - September, Second Wave

I didn't realise that Guardians was missing till I checked up on when these books came out. Must be another shipping mess up. Yay. But regardless, this is the rest of my September reviews. Hopefully I can review the first arc of Guardians (1-6) and the Secret Invasion/She-Hulk tie-in-cross-over arc of X-Factor before the end of the month.

Uncanny X-Men #502
SFX Part 3: Beginning to See the Light
The title is very apt, as Uncanny is either getting better, or I'm just enjoying it more for some reason. This issue gets across exactly how things are going to work. If, like me, you thought Karma's unannounced appearance at the end of last issue was strange, you had best get used to it. Cause Cyclops is gonna call in whoever he needs, whenever he wants. Need bait for a trap? Call in Karma, who can walk around looking like a helpless girl, but is really incredibly tough and can suddenly turn around and control her attackers minds. This issue does a far better job of introducing her then the story about her in Manifest Destiny - and she's barely in half of the book! And when the mission is finished, he thanks her and she leaves, and we don't see her again in the issue. In a similar way to Karma's appearance, Storm suddenly shows up to help attack the Hellfire Cult's base with no explanation of where she's been (probably flying in from Wakandia, but her role will be examined in the World's Apart miniseries). Colossus is apparently on the mission too, but we don't see him.

We are shown exactly what kind of leader Cyclops is - his plans aren't perfect, as Karma's ability to control people is neutralised in the first page, forcing her to withdraw, and later Empath escapes a carefully constructed web by means of a tunnel that no one knew about. On the other hand he has contingencies in place, as Logan and Kurt are on hand to take down the ambushers when Karma proves unable to control them. He's also good at rapidly analysing situations and changing plans accordingly (Emma explained this to Shanna back in the Savage Land). For the mission to the cultists base, where presumably they will still be protected from mental attacks, he tells Emma to go diamond form, using her as powerhouse instead of a telepath. This will prevent her from acting as team coordinator, so he uses Beast (with radio communicators) as co-ordinator instead. When Pixie suddenly leaves, they're short a teleporter, so he calls in Kurt again.

We also take a good look at Pixie. It takes a lot to shut her up, but Beast manages to render her speechless by introducing her to her favourite pop-star, Dazzler. Pixie then decides she just wants to be normal, and tries to sneak off, but learns there's no sneaking past Logan. He drop her off at her friend's place in a run-down warehouse, and gives her a good Logan-style talking to. He calls her girly-girl, probably because of the unicorn incident near the end of the New X-Men run. And while the X-Men are off fighting Emapth, Pixie decides to join them after all, leaving us with the famous words, 'What could possibly go wrong?'

By the way, anyone else notice the graffiti scrawled on the wall read 'Embrace Change'? Skrull propaganda is everywhere.

Verdict: Minor Victory.

X-Factor #35
Best Intentions
I decided to read this, as it could take while for #34 to get here, and it’s a SI tie in anyway, so its not absolutely essential. I was wondering if David could come up with a good reason for the real Longshot to show up, and he does. Longshot sees a picture of himself and Darwin fighting a skrull in the newspapers, so goes to Detroit to find out who's been impersonating him, and is told that XF Investigations are good at getting answers, so he pays them a visit. Hilarity ensuses as he tries to convince Guido that if he was a skrull, he wouldn't be impersonating someone they knew was a skrull, would he? This sort of thing works with Guido - but it doesn't with Rictor. If Rictor's on the team for his investigation skills rather than his powers (and we know he has investigation skills, he's the only one who realised something was off with Gameday) surely he can work out for himself that Longshot isn't a skrull?

Madrox and M are called in by the cops and shown Hector (Darwin's father) in a coma at the hospital, with severe brain damage. Longshot seems to be replacing Layla, as he gets a feeling that it would be a good idea to meet Madrox at the hospital, and uses his powers to charm the dour cop into giving him Hector's check book, leading to the reveal that Hector only wanted to find Darwin because someone was paying him to deliver Darwin to them. Except, instead of paying Hector, they shot him. How nice. But it never rains, it pours - Madrox accidentally lets out his X-Factor dupe, who tries to suffocate Hector, but fortunately he is stopped in time. But...Longshot now knows Madrox's secret. He has proved his usefulness , so it looks like he'll get a feeling that it will be a good idea to stick around for a while.

Darwin, meanwhile, is at the mercy of some nasty people, who appear to be trying to use him for some sort of genetic experiment. Why do I get the feeling that this corporation will turn out to be funded by the same mysterious person who was funding Damian Tryp and Singularity?

While the story is strong, I am still not enjoying Larry Stroman's art. It’s a bit better than issue #33, but not by much. The cover is good, but Siryn doesn't fight Longshot - in fact, she's the one who convinces Guido he is who he says he is. But we don't exapect whats on the cover to actually happen in the book anymore, do we?

Verdict: Minor Victory.

Both books aren't at their best, but they're getting there. And lastly…

Solomon Kane #1
The Castle of the Devil, Part 1
This is the first book from Dark Horse I've bought - in fact it’s the first book by a publisher other than Marvel or DC. And it was quite different. Even the paper felt different. And I must admit…I didn't quite follow the story. But it is the first of a five-parter adapting a story that Robert E. Howard never actually finished, so I'm sure my understanding will improve drastically when I have more of the story in my hands. It takes place in Germany before Kane travels to Africa, and follows his journey with incidental companion John Silent, who's name sounds vaguely familiar - I suppose he is referred to one or twice in the later stories I've read. Silent and Kane are not two people who would normally make friends, Silent doesn't quite know what to make of Kane's insistence that he is following God's will, and Kane dislikes Silent's blasphemous mouth (and yes, saying 'Name of the Devil' counted as bad swearing back then, especially to Puriatins like Kane). But a fellow Englishman is a fellow Englishman, and they find themselves starting to like each other in spite of their differences. They end up guests at the titular castle, named after the Abbey of the Devil over which it was built, made infamous by the discovory that its prior was an apostate. The Baron who resides in the castle is obovisly either very scared of some evil goings on, or is the instigator of them, but no more is revealed for now. The artwork was sombre bat well-drawn, with a pastel palette - except for the blood in Kane's fight with the bandits, which is jarringly bright red. I suppose I'm used to X-Factor in which blood is usually discoloured to a muddy brown. And its good to know I'm not jaded and still flinch at blood.

By the way, the cover scene does happen in the book. Well, almost - he's not holding his gun in the book.

Verdict: Minor Loss. I didn't particularly enjoy this, even though I usually enjoy Kane stories. But I'm hoping I will be able to revise my opinion soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment