General Reviews 4/23: Snowbound Spiders and Groovy X-men

by The General

Hey folks! It's me again! The General (aka Spongeboy, aka Tyler)! I realized, after posting my last entry, that I never really introduced myself. Nor did I take the time to mention what "General Reviews" was going to be all about. Well, basically, it's my weekly comic review column. I'm a Marvel fan, and (more specifically) I'm an X-Fan. So, each week, I'll be reviewing the comics I picked up on my weekly run to the comic store. If you are an X-Fan, or even just a Marvel fan, this will (hopefully) be the column for you. If you like DC... well, that's Patrick's turf. Anyhow, I'm nearly a week late posting this, so let's get started...

...I just have to say, there's nothing better than curling up at the end of the day with a pile of comics. Well, obviously there are some things that are better. But, when you've got three comics that are as good as these three are; I'm definitely not complaining. Here's the rundown.

X-Force #3 (Kyle, Yost and Crain) - I always feel like I should start my reviews of this title by saying something like "despite myself, I'm actually enjoying this title." But, maybe I should just get over myself and admit that I'm enjoying this title for what it is: A violent tour of the darker corners of the X-universe. But, it's also one that knows what it's doing enough to seed its stories with character moments to keep things from getting too dour. Sure, the title is populated with emotionless killing machines, but it's really the story of Proudstar and Wolfsbane's decent into that world, and their humanity is enough to give the story some emotional core.

On the art side, Crain's art is still too muddy and painterly for my tastes, but he does manage some good cinematic panels. And, truthfully, the art is a good match for the stories tone. Meanwhile, in terms of writing, Kyle and Yost continue to plumb the depths of the X-Universe rogues gallery effectively; and the final reveal of this issue has me looking forward to the second half of this arc. A brooding B.

Uncanny X-Men #497 (Brubaker and Choi) - I've been complaining for the past couple month that this title seems a little like it's treading water until issue #500. But, with this issue, I feel like it's finally clicking for me and I'm eager to see where it's going. What is interesting though, is I still feel like Brubaker is managing to use the same smoke and mirrors as I mentioned he uses so effectively in Captain America last week. Really, when you step back and look at it, not a whole lot happens in this issue, but it's fill with such great character moments and beats that you don't feel like it's padded or "decompressed."

Reading this issue, I feel like I'm actually reading and issue of X-Men circa the early 200's. Brubaker manages to capture the same sense of friendship and banter that I felt Claremont had mastered right around that time period. The flirtatious relationship between Scott and Emma in this issue is fun to read, a is nicely balanced with a well-structured fight scene with Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine. As far as Choi's art goes, I tend to run a bit hot and cold with it, but this issue gets a thumbs up. He's an able storyteller, the coloring isn't overly rendered and there are a few dynamic frames I really responded to. A Brubaker-style B. (Oh, and check out my theory at the end of the entry.)

Amazing Spider-Man #557 (Wells and Bachelo) - There's something to be said for a three-part storyline. It definitely doesn't overstay it's welcome like a six-parter, and I think the short structure allows for a certain economy of storytelling. That said, it also feels like a lot has happened in these last three issue. But, again, maybe that's because they are introducing a new villain at the same time as I was getting up to speed on Spidey's new status quo and supporting case. Regardless, I enjoyed each issue of this arc, but am glad to see it end before my interest waned. Will I pick up the new arc? Well, that depends on the next creative team.

I do want to make mention of how I appreciated the main fight scene between Spider-Man and the Mayan god. I thought the way that the illustration broke the fourth wall in order to show the god "bending space and time" was entertaining. And, I don't think I've seen that particular visual trick used like that in a main stream comic before. I'm not sure if that was in Well's script or was Bachelo's improvisation; but someone deserves a thumbs up for that. (I'm sure that those of you who read the comic know what I'm talking about.) Overall, this arc was a bold and blizzardy B+. Good game.

Spoiler Theory! So, I have a theory about what's going on in Uncanny X-Men. But, I thought I'd just throw it out down here, so that people who don't want their plots spoiled can just skip it. So, if that's you, look away. Anyhow.... Does anyone think that the mystery woman in Uncanny X-Men is the Scarlet Witch? What if the guy is Mastermind? I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but I was thinking that maybe Brubaker is moving the pieces into play so that he can undo M-Day on issue #500 of Uncanny. Just speculation, but it would surely make issue #500an event.

What do you think?


Brandon said...

I really want to check out X-Force. I've heard some positive buzz about the title, but with the economy going the way it going I want my comic habit to shrink, not grow! Still, this might be a "check out the trade or hardcover" title for me.

Dan said...

Waiting for monthly shipments in a five Wednesday month stinks. I'm jonesing for my X-Men fix. Glad to hear you're enjoying X-Force and Uncanny, Tyler.

I'm in the same boat of wanting to say, "Despite myself" as a prelude to positive comments about X-Force, but it is an interesting book. Then again, you and I are the only ones who dug Kyle and Yost on New X-Men, so what do we know?

The General said...

Agreed day. At least now all the reviews who complained about New X-men being too dark and violent can't leverage the same complaint against X-Force. Since, well, that's the point.