General Reviews 5/15: X-Men, Britain and Melting Brains

by The General

Y'know, I can be a bad comic collector sometimes. I mean, I know that at this point in my life, I should be reading and supporting more independent publishers. Heck, I live right down the street from Fantagraphics new outlet store*, so really I have no excuse. Still, given my druthers, I drift away from the leafy green vegetables of the independent world, and gravitate towards the sugary goodness of Marvel's line of X-titles.

But, at the same time, I'm not even a good X-Men collector. I'm not a completist, nor do I possess an encyclopedic knowledge of all things X-Men. Heck, I generally can't remember what happened in the previous issue, and have to rely on Marvel's recap pages to even keep things straight in my head. And this is after about 20 years of collecting. I'm hopeless.

Still, I do enjoy a good batch of comics. And, with the the continuity-laden X-Men Legacy, a new Captain Britain title, the retro-popcorn of Clandestine and the out of control Casanova, it was a good week of comic reading for yours truly. Let's take a look at them, shall we...

X-Men Legacy #211 (Carey, Eaton and Peterson) - This title is trying to prove that I'm a hypocrite. My number one complaint about the DC universe stems from the fact that it's geared toward the hardcore fanboys, and is pretty much impenetrable to new and casual fans. Meanwhile, the exact same complaints can be leveraged against this title... and I lurve it. It literally drips with X-Men continuity, but I also find it massively compelling.

To prove how dependant this title is on X-history, even I don't know who the character is that Xavier meets with in this issue. Has he appeared in an X-title before? I'm pretty sure he must have, but I don't recognize him. Maybe he was introduced while I was in college and killing braincells faster than I could fill them with X-lore. Still, there's a lot of cool stuff in this issue: Juggernaut, the Hellfire Club, Xavier using his powers in an unconventional way, and the final page appearance of a favorite X-character that will probably have certain sectors of fanguys and gals squealing. A brainy B+ the whole way.

Captain Britain and the MI13 #1 (Cornell and Kirk) - We have a couple of British contributors to this blog, and I'll be interested to hear what they think about this title. If only because it appears to be two things the last two versions of Excalibur should have been but weren't: Good and British. I mean, what was the point of using the name Excalibur if the title was going to be about Xavier and Magneto goofing around in the ruins of Genosha? And, what was the point of having a British superteam if you were going to fill it with Americans? Injury or insult, you make the call!

Well, the Brits can breathe easy because Marvel has finally graced us with a British superteam which is actually *gasp* British. Well, not counting the Skrull. A lot of noise was made about the Wisdom mini-series last year, which isn't surprising since I didn't pick it up and I pretty much only pick up the bad X-mini-series. So, I'm glad to finally get check out Cornell's writing. The verdict: Um, good, I guess. Honestly, I wasn't blown away by it, but like Kirk's art, I thought it was solid and entertaining. Much like Young X-Men and X-Force, I'm not smitten with this new title, but I'll definitely be happy to tag along for the ride. It's been a while since I've seen either Captain Britain or Pete Wisdom written right, so that's enough for me... for now. A British B.

ClanDestine #4 (Davis and Farmer) - Speaking of Britain, it's ClanDestine! Actually, as near as I can tell, ClanDestine takes place in an alternate reality version of England. One that was frozen in time and space shortly after the release of Davis and Claremont's original Excalibur run. If fact, despite the appearance of the original Excalibur in the last couple of titles, this title seems to exist in its own little pocket world that doesn't have any relationship to anything else in the greater Marvel universe. Still, that's not entirely a bad thing, since it allows Alan Davis do what he does best: Be Alan Davis.

If this was an ongoing title, I think I'd start to be a little worried about its direction, or lack thereof. There's a lot going on here, but most of it comes off like a wild billiards shot: characters and plot elements bouncing off each other at random. And, unless all those elements end up in neat and tidy little pockets, it's going to wind up being an unsatisfying read. (Awkward metaphor much?) But, at this point, I'm going to just hold my breath and hope that Davis has everything figured out. Fingers crossed! A ClanDestine C+.

Casanova #14 (Fraction and Moon) - Wait, what?! Seriously, just when I think I've got a handle on this title, it does a 360 on me. Actually it's more than a 360, it's like a 482 or something. Reading this book is like watching Matt Fraction slowly lose his mind in the most entertaining fashion. I mean, let's set aside the actual plot of this issue for a second and just look at the creative gimmick that he hinges this issue on: The book is broken up into 14 chapters. Each chapter is named after and inspired by a song. Each song is, in turn, tied to something that happened to Matt during the writing of each of the 14 issues of Casanova. So, effectively, this issue is a miniature version of the last 14 issues. Did your brain just melt and slide out your ears? Mine did. But, that's OK, because I think it's lying in a pool on the floor with Faction's brain.

Artistically, I still haven't gelled with Moon's art in the same way I did with his brother, Gabriel Ba's, art. I think that part of my problem lies with the blue secondary color though, since I think that the illustrations have a neat brushy, Paul Pope quality to them. Also, I'm still not entirely sure whether the twist in this issue is clever or just a cop out. But really, I don't care too much, because even a lesser issue of Casanova ranks higher than the majority of what I read. A big, bad B+.

I should read more comics like this.

* Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery

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