While I have not been the most avid of X-Men readers in recent years, the title will always hold a special place in this fanboy’s heart. I own more comic books with X-Men in the name than any other and have always felt the characters and family of related books to be some of the best, most fun comics on the stands. And while I won’t buy the new Uncanny X-Men book as a protest to the recent, unnecessary renumbering (at least in my mind) that didn’t stop me from getting into the new Wolverine and the X-Men book that has been a blast to read since issue #1.
Part of what I love about it is the old school (pardon the pun) X-Men vibe it has running through it. By returning to the school setting and brining on board a number of younger mutants, the book feels like a fusion of the best of the Chris Claremont and Grant Morrison eras. The person who gets the most credit for making this work is writer Jason Aaron. Wolverine and the X-Men has some of the best dialogue I have read this side of a Brian Michael Bendis comic, combined with stories that would feel right at home during the height of the Chris Claremont period. Plus he has thrown in just enough of the absurd, widescreen feeling of the Morrison comics that the whole thing feels like comfort comics for the soul.
In issue #5 we are given the return of The Brood, a villain very familiar to longtime readers of the X-Men and the most original biology lesson you will ever see. And while the script and story work really well and hit all the right beats, it is the phenomenal art of Nick Bradshaw that really brings it all together. While I enjoyed Chris Bachalo’s work on the first three issues, it at times seemed frantic and a bit unfocused. With Bradshaw, you get page after page of detailed artwork with full backgrounds and solid line work. While his work does remind you a whole lot of Arthur Adams, he definitely has his own style and way of telling a story. I really hope him and Bachalo take alternating arcs on the book. I would hate to not be able to see his version of the X-Men on some kind of a regular basis.
With the coming of the monster Avengers vs. X-Men series this spring/summer, it will almost be impossible to avoid any book with Avengers or X-Men in the title. If they were all as good as Wolverine and the X-Men, I really wouldn’t mind nearly as much.
When I was growing up, you were either a G.I.Joe fan or a Transformers fan. I mean, you could read and collect from both franchises, but when it came down to brass tacks, you had to pick one or the other. I always fell on the G.I.Joe side of the discussion and still do to this day. A large part of the reason for that was, and is, the G.I.Joe comic books. The television ads for the comics were just so cool, how could you not want to run out and buy them? Plus, Larry Hama created not just a toy tie-in comic with the series, but a military soap opera with plotlines that went on for years and years. That and Storm Shadow is the shit, hands down. I would take him against Batman and Wolverine any day.
So when IDW relaunced the Marvel continuity Hama at the wheel, my inner 12 year old squealed with delight and I was reading G.I.Joe comic books again, something I never thought would happen.
Issue #175 is another fine example of why Hama is such a mastermind with these characters. The issue spotlights Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow as they go after the Blue Ninja Clan which is responsible for the killing of Cobra Commander’s son Billy (If you’re completely lost by that statement, read the trades. You will not be sorry). It’s a fun, action filled issue that shows why the two ninjas work so well together and are by far the most popular characters in the series.
When S.L. Gallant first came on board as penciller, I was lukewarm to him at best. His style just didn’t seem to fit the personality of the book. However, over time he has really come to get a grip on the cast and has improved with each issue. Now I honestly can’t picture anyone else drawing the book. His Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow look great and he does a fine job with all the military high tech equipment.
IDW’s current G.I.Joe books may have more splash and get the lion’s share of the attention, but for old school fanboys like me, the original is the only way to go. If you are over the age of 30, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Let the countdown to G.I.Joe #200 begin!
Anyway, I honestly haven’t enjoyed a Thor comic this much since the heyday of the Walter Simonson era. Fraction is doing the same thing that legendary writer/artist did and is making The Mighty Thor a book about all of Asgard and not just Thor. Sure, the focus will always be on the Thunder God, but by allowing the rest of the cast to shine (especially Loki), we get a more fully fleshed out reading experience.
With issue #9, Fraction continues the dense, multilayered storyline he started in issue #8. The All-Mother continues to transform Asgard into the new republic Asgardia, Tanarus hangs out with the Avengers, Loki tries to understand why he is the only one who remembers his brother and, oh yeah, Thor shows up for a couple pages. Like I said, dense. There is a lot going on in this issue and keeping track of it all can be a problem, but a good kind of problem. In a day and age when most comics can be read in minutes, I can really appreciate Fraction wanting to do a Machiavellian political thriller that a reader might have to reread a couple times in order to get the complete story.
On the art side regular penciller Pasqual Ferry is teamed up with Pepe Larraz. While I’m not familiar with Larraz, their styles are compatible enough that it doesn’t affect the flow of the book in the least. A couple panels could use some more backgrounds (the Avengers sequence in particular) but on the whole the art works and Ferry’s pencils are gorgeous as always.
As I said above, this is a multifaceted, complex story that Fraction is telling here. If you have some patience and pay attention, there is a lot to like in The Mighty Thor. Give it a read and see if I’m right.
Of all the titles to come out of DC’s New 52, I don’t think any came with as much baggage as Batgirl. Before the first issue even hit the stands, fans were bemoaning the loss of Oracle and the return of Barbara Gordon’s ability to walk (even though Professor X has lost and gained the use of his legs more times than I can count). The book was one of the bestsellers of September, but would the book be able to keep the readers it had? Well, I don’t know how anyone else feels, but to me Batgirl has done nothing but get better with each issue.
For issue #3, Batgirl’s battle with Mirror continues and we get also some background on this Post-Flashpoint version of Babs and her relationship with Nightwing, a.k.a. Dick Grayson. It’s a nice change of pace from the intensity of the first two issues and Gail Simone puts the Babs/Dick rapport in a new and slightly different light.
I’ve seen on the internet that some readers are having a problem with the internal dialogue Batgirl has throughout the series. I don’t quite understand why, since it is one of the best parts of the book. It is what makes Batgirl different from Batman or Nightwing. Simone has a nice ear for dialogue and it adds something of a lighthearted touch to a series that could easily become maudlin or too heavy.
Ardian Syaf has been turning in some outstanding artwork on this series and issue #3 is no exception. Batgirl and her supporting cast look great, the backgrounds are rich and detailed and, unlike a lot of other DC artists, he is making an effort to make the characters look younger, which was one of the goals of the New 52. It might seem like a little thing, but it goes a long way to giving the title a fresh and new look.
Of the Batman family of titles, the only ones I am reading right now are Batman and Batgirl. If the rest of the books had this level of quality though, it could easily be more. Simone and Syaf are doing some great work on this book and I hope more people stick around to see where it all goes.
As of tomorrow, it will be two weeks since I brought NBD back from the “dead” and so far the response has been pretty good. My page views are already higher then the last time I worked on the strip and the comic itself is proving much more fun to work on. It seems the 3 times a week updates were the way to go.
The really nice thing is knowing that not only are next week’s comics already uploaded and ready to go, but half of the following weeks are also done. Getting a little ahead really helps and enables me to keep new content coming to you on a dependable, regular schedule.
And this is just the beginning. I have big plans for the future of the comic and this site. Nothing I can talk about yet, but if things keep going this well you could see some new stuff around Thanksgiving. We’ll have to wait and see.
Just know that you have my thanks for reading the story of Diego and his friends. Without you, this wouldn’t even be possible and a colossal waste of time.
See you tomorrow.