It was an X-Men extravaganza last week, with three new X-books taking the spotlight alongside Morning Glories #28, Fatale #15, The Wake #2, and my first two Scarlet Spider issues since the first one. As if I hadn’t already read enough comics on the plane.
Weekly Spotlight: X-Books
X-Men #2. The first issue of this series was precisely what I’d been looking for from Wood & Coipel: a fantastic team in a well-written and well-drawn story, with an interesting plot and decent action. I stopped just shy of calling it the best X-Men book on shelves because, well, it had only been one issue. Happily, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the second issue quite lived up to the promise of its predecessor. There’s a fantastic story being told here, and none of these characters have been tossed in as filler. This time around we see Kitty & Rogue shine, Jubes embraces her unexpected maternal role (side note: baby has a Totoro doll!), and poor Karima gets seriously messed up as the primeval parasite who hijacked her makes quite a mess of Beast’s lab. A very solid second issue cements this one on the pull list. Can’t wait to see what this team has in store.
All-New X-Men #13. This is a series which has always pleased me but rarely actually wows me. It’s well-drawn, I love seeing Kitty’s leadership, and the O5 aren’t half as gimmicky as I initially expected them to be (though that nagging sense that they really better go home after this fall’s anniversary event still lingers). This issue maintained the slow but quality pacing the series has made its hallmark, but the real highlight — the thing which made it impossible for me to keep it out of the spotlight — is a page-long speech from Kitty addressing the “M-Word” speech recently delivered in Uncanny Avengers. The direct, nigh autobiographical response of a Jewish character (Bendis grew up in a Jewish home) to Alex’s label-spurning, colorblind, “can’t we all get along” speech is precisely the thing that the Marvel U, and, frankly, its readers, needed to see. Even if you nodded in perfect agreement to that speech, hearing this rebuttal is worthwhile; and conveniently enough it’s reprinted at the end of the issue if you somehow missed out.
Uncanny X-Men #7. There’s a Hieronymous Bosch element to Frazer Irving’s art which has lent these last few Limbo issues a truly jarring tone. Not to undermine the great moments Bendis has crafted here (most notably, the final admissions of Scott and Illyana that they’re more broken than they previously realized), but the art truly steals the show here. From the vibrant hellscape on which the Uncanny X-Men’s battle takes place to the easily-missed subtle contrast of what has become a notoriously dark spread, Irving drags us into an often uncomfortable, but always felt, emotional space. This may not be anyone’s favorite issue, but it’s a strong one, and stronger still for its implications on the future of this group and many of its members, old and new.
Morning Glories #28: Morning Glories has become the sort of book that’s seemingly impossible to talk up with anyone who hasn’t read Morning Glories before. Nick Spencer has crafted such a mental and temporal knot that as you read you actually feel yourself struggling to understand, pausing to consider where and when you’ve seen some things before, wondering if you should have seen that coming, knowing you’re going to have to go back and reread a lot (and by a lot, I mean everything). Meanwhile Joe Eisma continues to deliver a distinct and beautiful book, which is all the more impressive when you note that this issue is, in what’s becoming a bit of a habit, double-sized. For a monthly $3.99 comic, it’s hard to imagine a better deal.
Fatale #15: I blitzed my way through the first two arcs and subsequent four one-shots which comprised all of Fatale to date a few weeks back, and was quite ready for its return. Fitting that the book would find its way to a grungy Seattle just as I returned from the Pacific Northwest; in a grim way, it all felt like home. We see how Nick has been faring since the shocking turn of events in issue 10 (hint: not well), meet a fascinating new ally named Nelson, and are reminded (in case you’d forgotten) that nothing about Josephine’s past is predictable or follows quite the same pattern. Well, nothing except how messed up all the men in her life end up. This issue won’t blow any minds, but it’s a comforting return to pace and a promising start to a new arc, with great mysteries brewing past and present.
Scarlet Spider #17 & 18: If there’s one book I can’t believe I’m not already following, it’s Scarlet Spider. I have never not loved something of Chris Yost’s, and he co-created my favorite character in comics. And while Laura Kinney remains jarringly taciturn, Yost’s newest young lady Aracely can’t seem to shut up. Both are socially awkward in their own fashion, and both likely have their haters. But I saw her chatting up a storm in a preview and decided now, now was the time for me to finally give Scarlet Spider another shot. This week’s issue was part two of a three-part arc, so I went back and snagged its predecessor. And wouldn’t you know, I loved them both?
In a nutshell, Kaine is the dark clone of Peter Parker (RIP) who has become an anti-hero in recent days but isn’t above taking a killing contract from a deadly group of assassins (especially when they threaten everyone he’s ever loved…and when he may have a crush on their blonde bombshell leader). So the “Wrath” arc is just that: he gets hired to fly out to New York and murder, well…Wolverine. Obviously. Aracely tags along, partly because she insists, but partly because she’s telepathic and probably possessed by a deity of terror. Kaine succeeds in killing Wolverine, and also doesn’t (so…not really a spoiler there?) and in this week’s issue they proceed to kind of try to get revenge. I say kind of because Kaine really isn’t about black and white morality, and it’s hard to say who’s really in control. What matters is that the dialogue is richly entertaining, and seeing Kaine and Logan fighting a bunch of ninjas is precisely as fun as it sounds. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the art on these issues, provided by Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong, & Rex Lokus, is fantastic all around.
The Wake #2: The true gauge of whether you will enjoy this issue is whether you enjoyed the previous one. It’s that consistent in tone, pacing, art, and character. You know from the first page whether you want to know where Archer and co. are going. Sure enough, there’s a ton of mystery to be dealt with, and where most sci-fi/horror stories risk jumping the shark, this book harpoons one. Literally.
Injustice #24: In a sense, this book is beginning to veer into the territory of the inevitable, where the thrill isn’t so much finding out what will happen as learning when and how. Faced with an absolutely horrifying crisis, Superman leaps more than just buildings, and this time there’s no jumping back. A fitting conclusion to the events set forth in the beginning of this arc, the most interesting part for me is wondering what the implications will be back on Apokolips.