Oh yes.

superpro1I love comics and I love the NFL so by default NFL SuperPro #2 should be an easy touchdown in my book, right? Wrong! Holy crap is this comic bad. I don’t mean bad in the we-fell-apart-in-the-4th-quarter bad, I mean bad as in watching a game between the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders bad. So it should come as no surprise that this series only lasted 12 issues and a Super Bowl Special before it was canceled.

NFL SuperPro was published by Marvel Comics in 1991 and is written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Jose Delbo. I know what you’re thinking, “Fabian Nicieza? He sounds familiar…” And he should as he is the man who created Deadpool, Shatterstar, and X-Force. He’s also written chapters of the X-Men events X-Cutioner’s Song, The Phalanx Covenant, and Age of Apocalypse. His most recent work includes penning the entire Cable & Deadpool series, some issues of Robin and Nightwing, and the Battle for the Cowl tie-in, Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight. With a resume like that it’s tough to swallow the awkward pill that is SuperPro. Artist Jose Delbo is best known for his run on Transformers (1988-1990) and Wonder Woman (vol.1) issues #270-284.

What is the NFL SuperPro comic about? Well, the main character is Phil Grayfield whose career as a pro football player came to a dramatic end when he rescued a little kid who was falling from the bleachers at a football game. Having been to many pro NFL games, I can say that after you’ve had a few beers falling from the 300 level is easier to do than it may sound. Anyway, during the rescue Phil busted his knee beyond repair, but later discovered a powerful football suit. Once Phil put it on he became the ‘super hero’ SuperPro! The suit, complete with an obnoxiously large NFL logo as a breastplate, strongly resembles that of Captain Amazing from the movie Mystery Men, and Phil is equally as arrogant as the character portrayed by the awesome Greg Kinnear. SuperPro’s vehicle of choice is a crappy puke-green colored van with the words ‘Sports Inside’ painted on the door, as his day job is a reporter. Original, right? SuperPro travels around with his side kick/computer guy Ken, who helps him with reporting stories and gathers intelligence while SP is out on the beat.

Issue #2 begins with a flashback of Phil playing Linebacker for Notre Dame University in 1985. He’s a mad man on the field, making tackles and batting away balls at every opportunity. His defensive teammate Karl Moore is jealous of Phil, and when the game is over we see Karl writing down a shit list of plays Phil took away from him. Fast forward 6 years to where Quick Kick, a sword and nunchuck wielding ninja, is mugging some thugs. He’s looking for a shipment of stolen guns for his boss, and when he doesn’t find them, he shoots Michael Frazier who happens to be a player for the Miami Dolphins (in real life Michael Frazier is actually a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, not a football player). Being a Buffalo Bills fan, I was ok with this scene as all Miami Dolphins players should be shot (just kidding, I would never wish harm on someone… well, maybe Tom Brady. Wait a second- what’s with the Miami Dolphin’s theme of the 1990’s)…

We later learn that Michael Frazier wasn’t affiliated with the thugs, but was actually trying to stop two gangs from fighting before Quick Kick intervened. Frazier made it his personal mission to end gang wars in Miami by creating a community out reach program that was “notoriously discouraging local kids from joining gangs.” Hm. I was unaware that good deeds were typically classified as being ‘notorious.’ Anywhoo, Frazier’s Community Center provided tutoring for kids, a daycare for working parents, and a program that employed senior citizens to help keep them active- wowee what a guy!

Upon learning of the shooting, Phil decides to investigate and along with Ken they head to the Community Center to question some ex-gang bangers. The kids tell Phil who stole the shipment of guns to which he declares, “We’re going to nail those punks, so all of the good work you do here can continue!” He and Ken then proceed to run out of the place… so much for maintaining a secret identity, eh?

Quick Kick arrives on the scene first, taking out the thugs in a warehouse and getting his guns back. Then SuperPro shows up and the great reveal is made- Quick Kick is actually Karl Moore from the Notre Dame football team! We’re treated to Phil’s inner monologue, “I don’t know how or why Moore’s become a ninja killer- but I’d better be careful or I’m next on his hit list!” Funny he should mention that, because the readers also have no freakin’ clue how this guy became a ninja. The two duke it out, making their way to a propeller plane which is awkwardly placed inside the warehouse. Quick Kick makes a run for it and takes off, but to his dismay a wing is damaged and the plane crashes into a nearby lake, which appears out of nowhere. The plane explodes, presumably killing Quick Kick and destroying the shipment of guns inside (which somehow made it from the warehouse floor into the plane while the two were fighting).

After SuperPro is informed by a police officer that Michael Frazier has survived his gun wound, we get the moral of the story, “I battled a man who reminded me too much of myself- who thought that winning was all that mattered… and I wasn’t able to show him that what really counts is what you’re fighting for.” I can’t speak for the almighty SuperPro, but the last time I tried to give a full grown man a lesson in morality, I almost got punched in the face. The scene shifts to a cruise ship in the middle of wherever and we meet the real villain, Mr. Sanzionare who looks like a cross between a caveman and a porn star. When Sanzionare (is that a play on ‘millionare’?) gets the memo of Quick Kick’s failure to recover the shipment of firearms, he calls in the big gun; Instant Replay, a guy who can cut (not travel, but cut) through time!

Yikes.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“Call me SuperPro. The game’s over. You lose.” – SuperPro

“Correct your tenses there, Sammy… he was a football player… and he played for the Dolphins!” – Quick Kick

“Smoothest move he makes is off the field… I mean his 3.6 grade point average.” – Jane, Phil’s girlfriend

I read somewhere that Nicieza made this series up as a means to obtain free football tickets, and while I couldn’t prove that claim, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. Besides the Dolphins the only other team he plugs in this issue is the Philadelphia Eagles, which is ok by me because my Bills and Atlanta Falcons don’t need any more embarrassing asterisks in their team history.The real moral of this story is that NFL SuperPro #2 definitely proved that sports and comics should never cross paths again.

emma1WARNING: if you haven’t read Uncanny X-Men #510, there are minor spoilers ahead!

After reading Uncanny X-Men #510, recalling what happened at the end of X-Men: Kingbreaker, and seeing the preview cover to Uncanny X-Men #511, a thought struck me- what if Emma Frost is being set up to become the new host of the Phoenix Force? Sure, it sounds absolutely nuts, but there are several major factors that make this hypothesis worth considering:

1. At the end of X-Men: Kingbreaker Rachel Summers, a.k.a Phoenix, had her powers fizzle out in a strange manner. It was as if the Phoenix Force had left (or was attempting to leave) her person. Perhaps this has something to do with the Phoenix attempting to find a stronger, more suitable host than Rachel… someone like Emma Frost. It seems like convenient timing to me…

2. Which sets up Uncanny X-Men #510 when Emma has a vision while unconscious. This vision is of what appears to be Jean Grey as the Phoenix (although it could be the Red Queen or someone else) saying, “Visions come to prepared spirits…. Well then, little spirit. Prepare.” What is this vision referring to exactly? Who the hell knows, but my guess would be that it’s foreshadowing- a warning to Emma that she be prepared for an eventual confrontation with the Phoenix Force.

3. The preview cover for Uncanny X-Men #511 made me seriously consider this vision to be a sign of things to come. I know what you’re thinking, “Andy, haven’t you learned by now that you can’t judge a comic book by it’s cover!?” I’d have to agree with you, but just look at it: A blonde woman in all white surrounded by flame. Who else besides Emma could that be? A Stepford Cuckoo? Maybe, but all signs point to Emma Frost in my book.

4. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most recent X-deaths: Colossus: dead from 2001-2004 (died in Uncanny X-Men #390 and returned in Astonishing X-Men #4), Psylocke: dead from 2001-2005 (died in X-Treme X-Men #2 and came back in Uncanny X-Men #455), Professor Xavier: was killed at the end of Messiah Complex and months later returned in the pages of X-Men Legacy, and we’ll even toss Caliban into the mix who also died during Messiah Complex and has returned (as a zombie) in X-Force. So what is the average length of time that X-Men have remained in the ground since the year 2001? 3 years? Maybe less? Well Jean Grey/the Phoenix Force has been dead since the end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run in 2004. That’s 5 years now the Marvel Universe has been without it’s favorite red head! Considering modern comic books, that’s a damn long time for a character to remain deceased, and ‘5’ is a nice round number with which to bring a ghost back from the dead…

What do you guys and gals think?

babbit1Upon completing the 5 issue mini-series X-Men: Magneto Testament (the origin story of Magneto and his life living in a concentration camp), I read the afterword in the back of issue #5, and was introduced to a woman named Dina Babbitt. Before completing this mini-series I had never heard of Mrs. Babbitt, but now having been introduced to her and her struggle, I feel the need to spread the word about her battle with a Polish historical museum that refuses to return her art work.

Mrs. Babbitt’s story is that while she was a prisoner in Auschwitz, she painted a mural of Snow White on the children’s barracks as a way to bring a sliver of light into the lives of the kids who were dying there. She knew that painting this simple mural was a risk to her own life, and upon discovery by the Nazi’s, she was surprisingly spared brutal execution because of her talent.

Dr. Josef Mengele (who’s M.O. was to prove to the world that all races were inferior to the ‘Master Race’ by performing sickening experiments and tests on human beings) ordered Babbitt to paint portraits of Gypsy prisoners. Mengele believed that the quality of photographs weren’t good enough to show the racial inferiorities of the Gypsies, so by having an artist depict them instead of a camera lens, he’d get the required detail to prove his theory. Mrs. Babbitt knew that once her portraits were completed, her models would be killed. So, she took as long as possible to complete her paintings as an honorable (yet futile) way to prolong the lives of the people she painted. Dina created an estimated 11 portraits during her time in Auschwitz.

Towards the end of the war when Soviet troops were approaching the concentration camp, the Germans fled and forced their Jewish prisoners to take a death march from the camp. She and her mother survived and were ultimately liberated. Dina settled in Prague where she met and married Arthur Babbitt, who ironically was the lead animator of the character ‘Dopey’. Dina moved to Hollywood, and from then on worked as an assistant animator for Jay Ward Productions, Warner Brothers, and MGM. She has illustrated such characters as Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Speedy Gonzalez, and Cap’N Crunch.

However, in 1963 the Auschwitz State Museum (a Polish-funded museum located on the site of the former death camp) purchased 6 of Dina’s paintings from a local resident, and later the museum acquired a 7th. In 1973 museum officials identified Babbitt as the painter of the works (as they were all signed by her)  and contacted the artist. Dina immediately flew to Poland expecting to take her paintings home with her.

That didn’t turn out to be the case.

The museum officials told Dina she could not take them, so she tried again in 1997 to obtain possession of her property. This time she was accompanied by Katie Couric and a camera crew from NBC-TV’s Today Show. However, the museum denied her once more. Says Dina of the paintings, “It’s like a part of my heart is still in Auschwitz.”

“Over the years the Auschwitz Museum has offered several explanations for it’s refusal to return the paintings to Dina. The museum has claimed that the educational value of displaying the paintings outweighs Dina’s right to them. Dina has pointed out that the same educational goal would be achieved by displaying high quality reproductions. In fact, during her visit in 1997, Dina found that some of her Gypsy portraits on display were reproductions, NOT originals. The museum rotates the originals with reproductions.

The museum has asserted that returning Dina’s paintings might encourage other Holocaust survivors to seek the return of their property from museums, thus depriving museums of some artifacts. But it has not explained why a museum’s right to display a particular item should necessarily trump an individuals right to his or her property.

Officials of the Auschwitz Museum have been quoted as claiming that Dr. Mengele is the legal owner of the paintings. In response, 50 prominent attorneys sent a letter to the museum, calling that claim “preposterous and offensive.” Their letter noted: “A war criminal does not deserve to enjoy the fruits of his crimes. Mrs. Babbitt was coerced, on pain of death, to paint these portraits. She did not voluntarily enter into a business relationship with Mengele. He cannot be regarded as a patron who commissioned the art work.”

In 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Shelly Berkley of Nevada, recognizing “the moral right of Dina Babbitt to obtain the artwork she created” and urging the President and the Secretary of State “to make all efforts necessary to retrieve” the paintings. The resolution also instructed the State Department to undertake “immediate diplomatic efforts” to secure the return of the artwork.

But the Polish government and the Auschwitz Museum have ignored the Congressional resolution and the State Department has not applied the pressure necessary to resolve the problem.

Meanwhile, the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, a research and education institute in Washington, D.C., mobilized 450 cartoonists and comic book creators from around the world to sign a petition to the museum, urging a return of the paintings.

As Dina’s struggle has become known, many people have written to the museum (muzeum@auschwitz.org.pl) in support of her cause. But despite the growing tide of public sympathy for Dina, the Auschwitz Museum has refused to yield.

And so Dina, now 84, continues to wait and hope that one day, the museum will realize the wrong it has committed and will finally give back her paintings.

How long will this outrage continue? How long will the international community accept this injustice? How much more suffering must Dinah Babbitt endure?”

This quote is taken from the 6 page comic that tells Dina’s story in the back of X-Men: Magneto Testament #5. It was written by Rafael Medoff, penciled by Neal Adams, and inked by Neal and Joe Kubert. Stan Lee wrote the afterword.

Please take a moment to e-mail the Auschwitz Museum in support of Dina.

In this edition of Out of Context we feature Peter Parker, a.k.a Spider-Man. In the excerpts below, the secret behind Spider-Man’s webbing is revealed, and we discover what Peter has really been up to over at the Daily Bugle during off hours. Then, we learn a shocking truth about Peter’s past!

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boomonhisbum


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Yikes. Skip Westcott, meet Chris Hansen.

Welcome to a new segment at MintConditionPublishing.com: Out of Context! Here, comic panels will be posted that contain dialogue (or whatever) that can be taken out of context to mean something else. Capice? Let’s get rolling with our first installment taken from X-Men (vol. 1) #17 and Uncanny X-Men #143:

Beast and Professor Xavier Are Misogynistic Pricks

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Star Wars InvasionBelow are quick hits about some exciting comic book news set to take place in the next couple of months:

Dark Horse

Star Wars Rebellion: Dark Horse has pulled the plug on the title. Apparently the series’ time line (which takes place during the original trilogy) made it difficult to come up with new stories that wouldn’t contradict the already existing continuity of the best documented time period of the Star Wars Saga. Editor Randy Stradley said, “[It was a] never ending struggle to keep the line fresh and not fall into the same stuff happening every month.”

Star Wars Invasion: This new monthly title will replace Rebellion, and takes place during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion that occurs during the New Jedi Order novels. In addition to some new characters, Leia, Luke, and the Solo children will be featured. Australian playwright turned comic scribe, Tom Taylor, will write the series.

Star Wars Adventures: A new series featuring standalone stories from characters throughout the Star Wars Universe. To premiere the series, the first story is about Han and Chewie. No word yet if this is a children’s series as it has an ‘Adventures’ tag to it.

Teen Titans #71D.C.

Batman: In June R.I.P. headmaster, Grant Morrison will return to write the title. According to editor Ian Sattler, Batman will somehow tie into the Green Lantern: Blackest Night story line.

Batman Battle for the Cowl: The Network: Some of the discontinued Birds of Prey cast make their way to Gotham City to help quell the storm in Batman’s absence. Said to make appearances in this issue are Huntress, Batgirl, Misfit, Manhunter, and Ragman.

Teen Titans #71: Ravager returns to the team, but is she an ally or enemy?

IDW

GI Joe: Snake Eyes: This mini series was presented to IDW by actor Ray Park, who will be playing the silent warrior in the upcoming Joe film. Park has teamed with co-writer Kevin Van Hook and artist SL Gallant to produce the 4 issue mini series. Apparently, Park enjoyed playing the role so much that he wanted to do more with the character.

Marvel

GeNext United: As if one mini series featuring the future children of the present X-Men wasn’t enough, Chris Claremont returns to write this sequel of the less than average GeNext line. The five part series will continue the new_mutants_vol_3_1pwhere the first mini left off.

What’s going on with the Ultimate Universe: Said scribe Mark Millar, “The thing that was the problem was that the Ultimate line wasn’t very good for quite awhile- it was good when it started, and it really went off the boil after awhile. There were maybe a couple of good books, and then in the end, maybe one good book, and the whole idea is just to make it all good books again.” What Millar is talking about is the complete revamp of the Ultimate Universe as Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four have all been given the axe. Ultimate fans shouldn’t worry too much though, as the line is going to continue, but in an all new direction. Marvel Editor in Chief, Joe Quesada, comments on how the revamp offers more creative freedom to the production teams, “Now we’re looking at the Ultimate Universe saying, ‘what other doors can we open?’ Let’s get really kind of funky and crazy. I think you’ll see things in the Ultimate comics that we couldn’t do with other books. What is happening is we have a grand opportunity with the Ultimatum event to jump ahead a little bit. Just a little bit- not a lot. At the end of Ultimatum, there’s going to be a jump, and with that jump, we’re going to have a brand new Ultimate Spider-Man comic book.” One can only assume that something unprecedented is in stmpar-cv5_large1store for the Ultimate characters.

New Mutants #1: Due out in May, the title features original New Mutants: Cannonball, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Sunspot, Magma, and Magik. Legion, the man responsible for everything Age of Apocalypse, has returned and the New Mutants need to stop him…

Wildstorm

Storming Paradise: What if the United States armed forces had to invade Japan in the greatest conflict the world has ever seen? Find out in this alternate-history WWII mini series. Since being put on the back burner months ago, Wildstorm is finally finishing up the run beginning with issue #5 due out in May.

Special thanks to Comic Shop News for the quotes.

xmforev001cvr_col1In May 2009, long time X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont, will be writing the new series X-Men Forever published by Marvel Comics. Claremont, who recently completed a less than satisfactory run on New Exiles, will be joined by artist Tom Grummet.

For the premise of the new X-title, travel back in time to 1991 and X-Men #3 where the X-Men thought they had defeated Magneto for the last time; this is where Forever begins. John L. Byrne took over the writing duties for X-Men beginning with issue #4, and in Forever, Claremont will spin the series in the direction he wanted it to go had he never left. In effect, the title may conflict with current X-Men continuity, as Claremont was unclear in his response to where the series fits in the X-timetable, “The world of this series is very much like that of the 616 Marvel Universe. The setting is contemporary. The year is 2009. The original trilogy [from 1991] that frames the start of this series occurs just prior to the events of Forever. From that point on, anything goes. Everything is up for grabs.”

According to these comments, X-Men Forever seems like a First Class tag would be appropriate. While existing outside of main X-continuity, X-Men First Class, Wolverine First Class, and Weapon X First Class all provide modern takes on classic X-tales, uprooting older versions of characters and placing them in a contemporary setting. This seems like the structure for Forever, and as a result, it raises questions as to how Claremont plans on keeping the series in line with what has already existed in the X-universe. After all, he is continuing a story that began more than 18 years ago. From Onslaught and Age of Apocalypse to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, from M-Day to Messiah Complex, the mutants have undergone quite the overhaul since Claremont left X-Men in 1991. Since then, his role with Marvel shifted from premiere writer to the guy who they give projects to because he keeps sticking around. How Claremont plans to write interesting stories that cannot conclude with a major impact in the X-universe (as the events in Forever will have already occurred when compared to the time line of the current X-books) will be interesting to see play out. Says Claremont, “All of the presumptions we’ve gotten used to over time no longer apply; relationships that we’ve come to take for granted are suddenly cast in question.”

chrisclaremont-1-1804This could prove to be either good or bad for Claremont, as many fans would argue the writer is well past his prime. Since leaving X-Men, it’s hard to find work from the writer that can be considered ‘great’. Amongst Claremont’s best stories are The Dark Phoenix Saga, Inferno, Vignettes, and Days of Future Past. However the most recent of these tales was published in 1988, and Claremont’s modern work is vastly considered to be stale, melodramatic, and outdated. The problem with Claremont is that despite his past successes, his style hasn’t adapted well to fit the fast paced action and minimal exposition structure we have come to expect from the Modern Age comic book. He is notorious for convoluted plot lines (X-Treme X-Men), sub par script writing (New Excalibur), and creating multitudes of one dimensional characters that no one cares about (New Exiles, GeNext).

Perhaps X-Men Forever is Claremont’s chance to redeem himself of his recent work, and remind fans of what made him so awesome in the first place. Forever places Claremont in familiar territory with control over the characters he loves and created (Rogue, Kitty, and Gambit to name a few), while at the same time preventing him from being able to do anything too crazy, as the book takes place in the past. On the other hand, if Forever resembles the stories we have recently come to expect from Claremont, the series will further tarnish the reputation of the man who is responsible for the X-Men’s modern day popularity. If this is the case, fans will begin to seriously question Marvel’s decision in keeping him around, because he hasn’t produced anything worth reading in what feels like forever.

Quotes pulled from Newsarama.com.

-Air #2

by G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker, Vertigo Comics

When I reviewed Air #1 in my video blog, I commented that while entertaining, the story is also confusing and convoluted. Unfortunately, not much changes in the second issue. I like the book, but I still don’t have a sense of where it’s going as more questions pop up instead of answers. Like what’s the deal with Zayne and who the heck does he work for?

M.K. Perker does a good job with the art. The main character, Blythe, looks far hotter than she did in issue #1, and the continuity with her bruised eye didn’t go unnoticed. My favorite aspect of G. Willow WIlson’s writing is the developing love story between Blythe and Zayne. It’s very ‘love at first sight’ and I can run with that. …What, I like love stories.

In this issue we get a better look at the supporting cast, which includes an obnoxious punk rocker and a sagacious old woman. And while I still have no idea what the McGuffin is yet, at least I now know who the bad guys are. Hopefully come issue #3 the plot will become clearer and the air more breathable.

“The Highest Emotion is not love. It is longing.” – Mrs. Battacharya

3/5 stars

-Fables #76

by Bill Willingham & Michael Allred, Vertigo Comics

I knew we were in for an overload of exposition following the climactic events of issue #75, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be so lame. Essentially Fables #76 focuses on Geppetto adapting to life in Fabletown and the residents’ reaction to his presence there. It gets tiresome seeing Fables from the Homelands voice their anger at Geppetto for being granted amnesty throughout the entire issue. We also get the exhilerating priveledge of seeing him experience modern day technology for the first time. Make no doubt about it, there is nothing exciting about watching Geppetto learn what a car is.

I didn’t like Michael Allred’s depiction of Pinnochio. He looked too childlike, which is drastically different from what we’re used to, and it was jarring. I also wasn’t a fan of how the major character who died in issue #75 wasn’t even mentioned.

Fables tops my list of titles currently being published, but this issue was flat out boring and did not appeal to me. Don’t let this deter you from getting into the series, however, as this issue was uncharacteristically bad. Plus, now would be a great jumping on point for new readers.

2/5 stars

-Resurrection #6

by Marc Guggenheim & David Dumeer, Oni Press

This title needs a pulse before it dies a slow, disappointing death. Complete in black and white, Resurrection is essentially The Walking Dead except with aliens instead of zombies. The story is about a handful of humans who have survived an eight year occupation of Earth from the alien ‘bugs’. Yes, it sounds cool but this issue was the final in the opening story arc, and it lacked anything that could be considered climactic. I mean, when in the hell are we going to see aliens do some evil stuff? And who is this dude in a cape compete with his own Batcave!?

Ignoring the fact that Resurrection is never released on time, Oni publishes the book on a ‘bi-monthly’ basis, which is a total momentum killer. It’s too easy for the reader to lose interest and forget what exactly is going on… and it allows for more time wondering when we’ll get to see aliens kill stuff!

On the whole Resurrection has been a decent read, despite issue #6. Stick with the title as it is expected to make the shift to color, hopefully making a mass resurrection of readers unnecessary.

2/5 stars

-X-Force #7

by Craig Kyle/Christopher Yost & Mike Choi, Marvel Comics

Let’s end this One Hitter on a good note.

X-Force is wasting no time in becoming one of the best X-Books currently being published. The combined talent of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost make for an engaging story, containing unexpected twists and turns that don’t come off as gimmicky. The dialogue sets the mood for this team of X-Men who need to get their hands dirty in order to preserve the future of the human race. To quote Cyclops:

“We’re entering new territory, and it’s dark. But we’re still the good guys.”

New territory indeed, as Cyclops makes it clear that killing is no longer an option that the X-Men can overlook.

New comer to the title, Mike Choi, provides for some awesome art. He uses a unique blurring effect to put the focus on the primary action of a panel. It is highly effective and comes off in a very cinematic way. To boot, Choi’s characters look their age and he draws his women beautifully, especially their faces.

So what else makes X-Force #7 kick ass? Well, let me run down the list for you: Archangel and Wolfsbane freak out, a handful of former ‘New X-Men’ join the team, someone comes back from the dead, and a villain that first appeared way back in Uncanny X-Men #2 resurfaces for the first time in years. To quote Wolverine:

“Come again?”

Come again indeed. Pick up this series, it’s bad ass.

5/5 stars

I’m trying a new way to review a number of titles in a quick, to the point style; The One Hitter. Here I will briefly review a handful of comics, giving quick insights and opinions on the works. In this first installment I’ll be reviewing Astonishing X-Men #26, Secret Invasion: X-Men #1, and X-Men First Class Volume 2 #15.

Astonishing X-Men #26

To quote Cyclops:

“Everything takes second place to there being enough adult mutants alive to protect the new generation.”

Yep, Scott Summers, the former golden boy of the Xavier Institute has spoken these words. I was of the crowd who despised Cyclops, turned off by his ‘by the book’ mentality and teachers pet attitude. But the Cyclops of 2008 is not the Cyclops of the 90’s and earlier. The transformation of his character over recent years has been an awesome thing to behold, and Scott Summers is quickly becoming one of my favorite X-Men. He lays down the law (even to the former leader of the Gold Team), comfortable in his new role as head of the X-Men. The new Cyclops is not afraid to remind his fellow teammates that the world has changed, thus forcing the methods of the X-Men to dramatically change as well. Heck, even Wolverine now respects his fearless leader, taking orders from him without question. It cannot be denied that Cyclops’ new rhetoric and methods echo that of a long time enemy of the X-Men…

4/5 stars

-Secret Invasion: X-Men #1

While this issue’s art isn’t the best, the script delivers. For once the X-Men actually kick the crap out of their enemies and look good doing so. I mean, Cyclops blasts a freaking Skrull ship in half all by his lonesome! To quote:

“You’ve got your targets. Hit them until they stop moving.”

Like I said, Cyclops has become more bad ass.

Even a Skrull commander can’t help but poop his pants a little as he announces the arrival of the X-Men to his fellow warriors. His expression says it all, “We’re dealing with the X-Men!”

As silly as this issue is at times (and it has its moments), it shows the X-Men acting as a team, complete with different strike forces. The mutants inside these strike forces play to their powers, thus allowing the X-Men to operate as a cohesive unit. It’s nice to see that.

Writer Mike Carey must be a fan of Canadian brew as a member of the San Francisco PD is named ‘Molson.’ There’s even a small tribute to The Lord of the Rings in this issue

3/5 stars

-X-Men First Class Vol. 2 #15

I enjoy this series and while the last few issues haven’t been great, I’m sad to hear the title is getting the ax from Marvel. This comic is a light, fun read and Jeff Parker’s writing is witty, humorous, and befitting the characters. To quote Iceman:

“It’s bad enough when women drivers won’t admit their badness, but the crazy hair is too much!”

I love it.

While this title makes the original X-Men more identifiable to a modern audience by putting them in a present day setting, the style of story telling remains true to the original stories from the 60’s; The villain is met within the first few pages, the X-Men work together as a team to defeat them, and everything is hunky dory at the end. Corny? Absolutely. Entertaining? Even more so. There is a panel in this issue where Professor Xavier is stumped while trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube, which tickled my funny bone. To boot, these issues are one of the few (if not only) places Jean Grey appears in the pages of a comic book.

3/5 stars

Check it out:

Thanks for watching!

Long time X-Men fans are going to love this book! The first issue of a four issue mini series, X-Men Manifest Destiny #1 contains three short stories featuring Iceman and former New Mutants Boom-Boom and Karma.

To be blunt, I was entertained from cover to cover.

Brief plot synopsis for story one:

The first story kicks off with the lead character, Iceman, in an apartment with his old flame, Opal (remember her?). Bobby Drake can’t manage to get his body warm, and the condition begins to seriously concern him as turning into Iceman only worsens the problem. He calls on the X-Men for help…

Some thoughts:

Writer Mike Carey really likes the character of Iceman and it shows. His use of Opal, a character from Bobby’s past, makes this Iceman fan feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, Carey provides a twist in the plot which I didn’t see coming, and his ending of part one of a four part story leaves the reader wanting more.

**MINOR SPOILER**

I rarely give spoilers, let alone comment on them, but I need to make an exception here. I mentioned in my review Uncanny Is An Understatement about how Beast is apparently losing his secondary mutation and I posed the question if this would happen to other mutants. As Bobby can’t seem to warm himself up, could this be the case for him as well? If so, we may see the trend continue in other characters who have developed secondary mutations… like Emma Frost.

**END MINOR SPOILER**

It’s great to see Bobby caring about his powers and actually making a serious effort at developing them. Being a fan of Iceman’s, I’m loving this story and am eagerly anticipating the next chapter.

Brief plot synopsis for story two:

The next story features Tabitha Smith, a.k.a ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Boom-Boom,’ squaring off against a new villain whom she despises like no other!

Some thoughts:

Artist Chris Burnham truly captures the look of Tabitha, complete with a wardrobe of slinky slips and time bomb earrings. James Asmus writes the story in the style of an early 90’s sitcom which totally fits the character of Boom-Boom. I found myself laughing out loud and the end tag line is hilarious!

On a different note, has anyone else noticed the surprising amount of Stephen Colbert campaign signs that have found their way into comics lately? I’ve seen this Easter Egg in a number of different titles…

Brief plot synopsis for story three:

The issue’s final stoy features the fist ever New Mutant to appear in print, Shan a.k.a Karma, and focuses on her inability to control her mind possession powers.

Some thoughts:

The art by David Yardin is the best in the issue, and writer C.B. Cebulski compliments him with a serious script about this minor X-Men character. Emma Frost makes a cameo appearance, being the stern, no nonsense Emma of old. Also, the tribute to Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men is an appreciated moment in the story, and one that tells a lot about Shan’s character.

Some quotes from the issue:

“You’ll blow it big time if you die on me Drake. Make the call.” – Opal

“I dated Cannonball!” – Boom-Boom

“FaceSpace! It’s a website where you connect with your friends, and you make new friends… but you know, without having to actually talk to anyone.” – Boom-Boom

The final word:

Make no mistake, I had a blast reading this issue as it had a great twist and made me laugh. It’s enjoyable to read about characters who don’t necessarily get the spotlight, as Iceman wasn’t featured much in the events of Messiah Complex or Divided We Stand, and both Boom-Boom and Karma have never been major players of the X-Men. With all the other X-Books in publication, X-Men Manifest Destiny #1 shouldn’t be overlooked.

It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan.

5/5 stars

X-Men Manifest Destiny #1

It has been awhile since I could say an issue of Uncanny X-Men was totally awesome. This issue blows the 500th anniversary issue out of the park and should not be missed by any X-Fan!

Brief plot synopsis:

After moving from Westchester, NY to San Francisco, CA only an issue ago, the X-Men are riding high and clearly enjoying the bright sunny weather and their new change of scene. Especially the young mutant Pixie, who is enjoying a night out on the town with her significant other. Things quickly go awry, however, as Pixie and her friend are lynched by a group of mutant hating, hockey mask wearing gang of men who call themselves The Hellfire Cult. After dealing with the Friends of Humanity on the East Coast, the X-Men must now face this adversity in their new environment and Cyclops isn’t happy…

Some thoughts on the issue:

-Both Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction do a stellar job on this issue. Where Uncanny X-Men #500 was flat and exposition filled, Uncanny X-Men #501 is the exact opposite. Both writers capture the fresh energy of the team as they adapt to their new location, and are able to create a West Coast feel, as it is more vibrant and lively than the East Coast. I especially enjoyed the scene where the X-Men are just hanging out at the new mansion. Moments like this are few and far between, and it is a breath of fresh air to see the X-Men kicking back, enjoying each others company, shooting the ‘stuff’.

-Artist Greg Land does great work setting the scene, as the X-Men come across as younger, hipper, and happier than they were on the East Coast. I highly commend Land for making Emma Frost look hot once again. Emma hasn’t looked this good in a long long time, and it’s nice to finally see her be the sexy vixen she’s supposed to be, especially when naked. That’s right: naked. Still, Land could use more variety as most of his women look similar, even though they’re always attractive!

-The cast is a good mix as it includes Cyclops, Emma Frost, Angel, Colossus, Beast, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Pixie. I wouldn’t be surprised if more mutants show up within the next few issues.

-It’s worth mentioning that Emma and Scott’s relationship has definitely evolved over the last few years, and it no longer seems like a forced convention. In this issue, the couple comes across as loving, committed, steamy, and sexy.

-I used to hate Cyclops, especially in the 90’s, but I’ve definitely done a 180 on the character as he’s turned into a total bad ass. It’s clear Scott is no longer Xavier’s golden boy as he isn’t afraid to make the hard decisions. Wolverine respects the guy, and that’s saying something.

-Some one liners:

“Warren Worthington. Angel. Flight. CEO Worthington Industries. Skajillionaire.” – Narration Bubble

“Am I imagining things, or are we all much more… squirrelly… since moving to San Francisco? Not just you and I– All of the X-Men seem much more sex-saturated…” – Emma Frost

“Whatever you say, Warren… Anything to make this awful morning commute go faster.” – Cyclops

“Besides, everybody on this bridge will spend the next day and [a] half telling everyone they know that the coolest thing they ever saw… was the Uncanny X-Men driving to work.” – Cyclops

**MINOR SPOILERS- SKIP TO ‘THE FINAL WORD’ BELOW IF YOU MUST**

I’ve never given spoilers before in my reviews, but I’m so pumped about this issue, I need to talk about a few things:

-Cyclops is setting up multiple bases in the mountains of Marin which are intended to be used as safe havens for all mutants, powers or not. This is very interesting as a move like this seems like something out of Magneto’s playbook as opposed to Xavier’s… remember Asteroid M?

-It was revealed in this issue that Beast is ‘devolving’ as his hands are now more dexterous than ever since his secondary mutation. Does this mean that he is losing his secondary mutation? If so, will others be losing theirs as well?

-The X-Men’s company name, Graymalkin Industries, was a funny touch.

**END SPOILERS**

The final word:

This book was my first ever 5 star rating and deservedly so as it was highly enjoyable. If you’ve been off the X-Wagon for awhile, and are looking for a convenient time to start reading again, this issue and the one that preceeded it are your perfect jumping on points. Make no mistake, Uncanny X-Men #501 is a must have for all X-Men fans and comic book readers alike!

5/5 stars

Uncanny X-Men #501

Here’s my first video review! I didn’t realize the 10 minute YouTube limit until after filming, so I had to break Episode I up into two parts. Thanks for watching and enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Thanks again for watching!

As the first multiple issue story line of Wolverine: First Class comes to a close, I walk away looking forward to the next issue, which is both a good and bad thing. As previously stated, I enjoy the premise of the First Class genre, and Part II of the Wundagore story line was a fun read, but disappointing at times.

Now onto the good stuff.

A breief synopsis:

Prosimia, a lemur ‘Manimal’, has turned Shadowcat into one as well, and The High Evolutionary, by stripping him of his animalistic tendencies, has turned Wolverine into a wussy. The issue begins with a two page splash complete with rabid New Men Manimals ready to take out our dynamic duo and their friends. When Wolverine tucks tail and runs away, Kitty is left all by her lonesome to defend against the crazed New Men army of the Man-Beast. She dons a set of armor, is granted the mystical powers of myth and legend, and prepares to save the day!

All of the main characters are mentioned above, and the cast is nearly the same from the previous issue, minus Thor.

Some thoughts on the issue:

-Again, the writing is satisfactory. Even so, Fred Van Lente bordered on getting too deep with Wolverine. After Logan fled from the battle, he contemplated abandoning his life as an X-Man in order to live a life of peace out in the woods. Granted he was under the influence of The High Evolutionary, so his mind may have been a bit clouded, but the scene felt odd. Overall though, Lente captures the essence of his main character well.

-The art by Salva Espin was consistent from the previous issue and looks great in that First Class style. Expressions are one of Espin’s strong points. Still, I would have liked more variety and action in the show down between Man-Beast and The High Evolutionary. It felt flat as six panels were dedicated only to the faces and glowing eyes of the characters.

-Not to come off as harsh, but I felt cheated out of the New Men vs. the Mutated New Men battle. It seemed very anti-climactic after a full page spread depicted Kitty leading a charge into the fray, not to mention the awesome battle the issue’s cover promotes. Speaking of Kitty, it was nice to see her finally get a moment to shine in this series as she becomes the legend, Lady Shadra of the Cat People.

-Some one liners:

“I had no choice, Bova! Not when our creator left us only myths and legends with which to defend ourselves!” – Prosimia

“Is there not some way you can be content just to live?” – The High Evolutionary

“For the new generation always tears the present from the gnarled hands of the old… To drag it screaming and kicking into the future.” – Man-Beast

-A death in the issue added to the drama. Although, I must admit, the character was growing on me.

The final word:

While overall a great series, this issue of Wolverine: First Class felt rushed. The point of this story arc seemed to be giving Kitty a chance take the spotlight away from Wolverine and strut her stuff. Unfortunately, at the most pivotal moment for this to happen, the camera cuts away from the action and when it returns, the battle is nearly finished. Luckily though, we can look forward to issue #5!

2/5 stars

Wolverine First Class #4