I need to start off talking a little X-Men. As you loyal readers likely know, the X-Men are the superhero team nearest and dearest to my heart. My first comic book growing up, before I could even read it myself, was "X-Factor #1," and ever since, I've made it my business to read every mutant book I could, both from the past and present.
So, forgive me if I get a little heated over the current state of the franchise. The series' two flagship titles were both released this week, and I am underwhelmed again, at best.
Uncanny X-Men #503 was a travesty. I don't where to begin with the horrible writing. Should I begin by saying Sam Guthrie has experienced too much in his life to be making such obliviously racist comments? Should I begin by pointing out this entire issue was based around the idea that Empath's powers could incapacitate veteran fighters so easily? How about beginning by saying Scott Summers would NEVER have a sexual tryst in the scene of a crime while his teammates are still in pursuit of a killer?!?
After all that crap, it almost seems forgivable that "writers" Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker are using a VERY VERY DEAD character, Madelyn Pryor, as their big shocking villain. After seeing that at the end of this issue (yes, sorry to spoil it, hopefully I saved you from buying it) I was peeved at this needless re-tread of a resurrection, but frankly, the more I think of it, this part of the story was almost believable compared to the other stuff. Honestly, how can ANYONE think the X-Men Franchise is really moving in the right direction?
Which brings me to Astonishing X-Men #27. Once upon a time, this series was a cut above all other X-Men stories for almost 15 years. Sure, it was always very very late, but reading it was something to truly look forward to, because it was such a perfectly written and imaginative X-Men comic. New writer Warren Ellis has not maintained the level of story Joss Whedon established. These past few issues have been overly sexualized to the point where I really wonder if Ellis needs a therapist. Some characters in comics talk like this. The X-Men do not.
But that doesn't even concern the story, which, while not bad overall, defies the geek laws of the Marvel Universe. The Marvel Universe does not have parallel Earths, that's the DC Universe. The Marvel Universe also does not allow huge mysterious parts of the planet go unexplored. SHIELD would not allow that. (I'm trying not to spoil anything here). But, the idea that SHIELD and SWORD knew of a mysterious "we don't know what's up with this place and can't tell by satellite" place, and they didn't go investigate is just unbelievable. It's as if Ellis just had a good idea for a Sci-Fi story and fit the X-Men into the roles he wanted to write.
I am thoroughly disappointed in both books.
Oh Well, on to the DC Universe... which, for all intents and purposes this week (and many weeks) was the Geoff Johns Universe. The book I most looked forward to this week was Justice Society of America #19. And while it wasn't bad per se, it was just, kind of, necessary. After last issue's birth of Magog, we got the expected scenes with Superman-22 talking to Magog. There were several tense moments of the team splitting down the middle (who is with Gog and who isn't), but we knew this had to happen for the next few issues to happen and the arc to wrap up. And while we got a couple of nice scenes between Earth-2's Mr. Terrific and Power Girl, as well an an interesting scene with Starman and another with Black Adam teasing to the first arc of 2009, this was definitely a plot-pushing issue.
Johns' Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge #3 was much stronger. While we didn't actually see any Scarlet Speedster action here, we did get a definite ending, and one that shocked the hell out of me, considering much of the story's dialog. I'm not going to be the one that spoils it. However, what I will say is Johns again does a fantastic job of painting these Rogues as human and hardened at the same time. I will also point out that this whole series had almost NO IMPACT whatsoever on the main "Final Crisis" book.
Another tie-in that seems to have little-to-no impact on "Final Crisis" is Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #2, but it was pretty strong as well, mostly for the amount of content Johns packed into this book. To give a brief overview, the Legion of Supervillains was introduced in depth, as they recruited Mordru, we got to see the universe's final Green Lantern in action, watched the Legion debate the ethics of killing necessary foes, watched Brainy prove what a genius he is, and learned a little more about the nature of the current state of Justice in the 31st Century's Universe. On top of all that, Superboy Prime was his loveable bratty self... and yes, he was a little annoying at times, but isn't that what makes his eventual defeat all the more satisfying?
And speaking of the Super Family, the over-sized Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1 was supposed to filter directly into the "New Krypton" story, making it pretty important. So far, I don't see how it could be important in any way, other than introducing (in depth) a possible upcoming villain. We watched Jimmy Olsen risk his life several times over in a search for an important career-making story for the Daily Planet, and along the way he uncovers an important truth he just so badly needs to get out to his pal Supes -- Someone (presumably Cadmus, given the info in the issue) is going to try to kill Superman. GASP! As if they haven't been trying for years already!
What really bothered me about this issue though, isn't the seeming lack of importance or the needless extra length (and subsequent extra cost), but it was that along the way, seemingly in an effort to give this story more weight, James Robinson killed one of my favorite Superman Supporting Characters! When I first saw this guy's face on the page I thought "Awesome, they're giving him something to do again!" Then, just a couple of pages later, he's dead. And for the amount of killing already in this issue, it was entirely unnecessary. I'm a REALLY not high on Robinson's work right now.
Oh well. I'd better get some sleep so I can wake up early and send in my precious Xbox for repairs. Keep your fingers crossed!