Hey X-Maniacs, welcome to the first installment of the X-Files! What is the X-Files? Well, it's basically just me reviewing a bunch of comics in the same post with some random commentary tossed in for good measure, ending with a random comic scan. In other words, it's pretty much the exact same as my Best of the Rest post, but with a snazzier name. Ideally I'll try to get one of these X-Files posts up once a week, say every Sunday, but we all know this isn't an ideal world, so I'll play it by ear. If I have time(and find myself bored enough!)I'll do one of these posts. If not, well then obviously I won't! So that's the long and the short of it. Without further ado, let's get started.
Something smells fishy...
So as I mentioned last week, I finished reading the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern years(or as GEOFF Johns calls them, “The Years That Don't Matter”). That means I can finally begin reading one of the MANY other piles of comic book back issues I have lying around my bedroom. After some thought, I'm going to start reading the Aquaman series from the 1990's. I don't know much about this run other than the fact that Aquaman's hand falls off and Peter David is the writer early on. That second fact is pretty much the reason I brought that series, as I am(and always have been)an unabashed fan of PAD. As I make my trek through those Aquaman books, I'll try to mention on the blog how the series is progressing and what I like/dislike about it.
JMS, we hardly knew ye...
Earlier this week, my good friend(and known super-genius)JT informed me that J. Michael Straczynski was leaving the Wonder Woman and Superman books after only 4 months or so of being the regular writer. It seems the Superman: Earth One(written by JMS)sales were so impressive, DC wants to try to capitalize on things, and as such have shunted JMS away from the monthly books in favor of him creating the second volume of Supes: Earth One. In other words, JMS isn't able to write Supes: Earth One #2, Superman and Wonder Woman at the same time, so he's going to take the job that'll net DC(and himself)the most money/acclaim. To that I say; fair enough. I picked up the Superman: Earth One hardcover and I'll admit, I did like it. I didn't love it, but for the most part, it was a good read. It took the Superman mythos and gave them a bit of a twist. I personally didn't care for the twist, but to each his own. While I liked JMS's Superman: Earth One, I haven't liked his take on the main Superman book. Superman fighting crazed world conquering aliens? Good. Supes matching wits with the diabolical Lex Luthor? Very good. Superman aimlessly wandering across the United States? Um, not so good. I guess JMS has some kind of end plan for the whole, “I'm Superman and I'm going to walk across the country for some reason!” story, but I just found the whole thing to be boring and uninteresting. JMS's WW run left me with more conflicted feelings though. On one hand, I hate the fact that he felt the need to reboot Diana. I mean it's Wonder Woman for crying out loud! One of DC's vanguards. You don't need to reboot her in such a drastic fashion. Once you get over the initial shock of the WW reboot though, there's a pretty interesting story going on in the WW series. So JMS off of Superman is a plus in my eyes, while him leaving WW is more of a mixed package. With JMS leaving these titles, some other writers will finish his stories using his notes/plots, which unfortunately means we'll probably have a good 8 more issues of Superman walking across America, but at least when JMS's Superman plot is done, another writer can move in and give us what we want in a Superman comic... Superman acting Super!
Whew, okay, that takes care of the news portion of this post, let's get to the reviews! Well speak of the devil! I'm going to start things of with JMS's Wonder Woman #604! This issue gives us the confrontation between Wonder Woman and the guy who killed her mother and stole the magic lasso... um, Evil Army Guy? I don't think he was ever called anything other than colonel, so I'll stick with Evil Army Guy, or EAG for short. EAG gives his origin story, since that's what bad guys do when you first meet them, explaining that he was an evil army guy, his evil antics caught up to him, he was nearly killed, but was saved by a goddess, who told him to kill all of the Amazons. So with that pesky origin out of the way, EAG and WW fight. And fight. And fight some more. Eventually they both fall into some magic flames, where Wonder Woman's dead mother was apparently hanging out... Well that's kind of weird. WW's dead mother tells WW to leave EAG to her, and she proceeds to kill EAG as revenge for EAG killing her a few issues back. WW's dead mother knocks WW out of the flames and WW passes out for a while. When she wakes up, all that remains is the magic lasso, which she takes, as she decides to hunt for whatever was behind EAG and his slaughtering of the Amazons. Well, I was enjoying this issue right up until WW's dead mother showed up. EAG's origin was okay, and added some further intrigue into why the Amazons were being hunted, and the battle between WW and EAG was nicely done. But WW's dead mother suddenly popping out of those magic flames? Nope, that didn't work for me! She was dead... Why was she in those flames? And a better question, how did she, a dead woman, manage to kill EAG?! Weird... Score: 6 out of 10.
Next we go to the Marvel Universe and check out Captain America: Forever Allies #4, which is the final issue of this mini-series. Basically, Bucky Cap has been chasing down one of his old enemies from WWII, Lady Locus. Locus(who has demonstrated telepathic and telekinetic skills)has been traveling the Earth in search of a gem that would amplify her telepathic abilities to the nth degree, allowing her to take over the Earth, or steal candy from babies or kick puppies, or some similar nefarious plot device. Locus manages to track the gem down to a temple in the Andes, but is followed by Bucky. Locus spots Bucky arriving and enslaves him mentally, forcing Bucky to traverse through the temple, defeating its traps and collecting the gem for her... Or so she thinks. It turns out that after his Winter Soldier days, Bucky went to SHIELD and had them rig his mind so that it could no longer be controlled by outside sources. Bucky smashes the gem before Locus can get her hands on it, fits her with a psi-damper and turns her over to Black Widow and the Falcon, who were en route in case Bucky actually did fall under Locus's mental domination. With Locus caught, Bucky can put that piece of WWII behind him, ending this mini-series. This issue was good, but not great. I found myself enjoying the flashback portions of this comic, back when Bucky was the leader of the Young Allies during WWII a bit more than the main story. Lady Locus was a good threat, but once Black Widow began trying to explain the history of the power gem Locus was after(it had something to do with the Deviants and Eternals), I was taken out of the story. I've just never had any interest in the Deviants/Eternals, and bringing them into this story just sapped me of my interest. Score: 6 1/2 out of 10.
Sticking with Marvel, here's Namor: The First Mutant #3. Namor has had enough of those infernal aqua-vampires and meets up with an Atlantian sorcerer, who gives Namor a spell that would kill off most of the aqua-vamps. Unfortunately for Namor he has to preform the spell in the middle of the aqua-vamps hidden city. Oh yeah, plus the spell only works if an Atlantian king drains all of their blood upon the conclusion of the spell, meaning that in order to rid the aqua-vamp menace from his people, Namor has to sacrifice his own life. Namor is fine with the whole noble sacrifice thing, and takes some Atlantian soldiers and invades the aqua-vampire city. While his soldiers engage the aqua-vamps, Namor and a young soldier head beneath the aqua-vamp's city to begin the ritual. As the ritual nears its end, Namor informs the soldier that she'll have to complete the spell, since Namor has to kill himself to finish the ritual. The soldier doesn't want to do it, but Namor tries to tell her that his life would be worth ending the menace of the aqua-vamps. Before the soldier can complete the spell, Namor's grandfather, who happens to be a very big, very angry aqua-vampire strolls over for what I'm guessing won't be a very pleasant family reunion. I found the first half of this comic to be kind of boring. It was basically Namor getting his forces together while speaking cryptically with the royal sorcerer. Once Namor's forces arrived at the hidden aqua-vamp city though, things definitely picked up, with the cliffhanger leaving me very interested in getting my hands on the next issue. Score: 7 out of 10.
Next up is I Am An Avenger #3(of 5). Yes, there is a mini-series called I Am An Avenger. Anyway, this mini contains two mini-stories as well as a two page Stingray and a one page Hulk tale. I'm going to skip those last two stories, so to the 2 Stingray fans out there, I apologize in advance. The first story deals with Nova helping Spider-Man deal with some aliens who had broken into a New York City bank to steal an alien artifact that some billionaire collector had mistaken for an ancient vase. This story was written by the team of Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, and had Spidey and Nova in it, so it should go without saying that I really enjoyed it. The other story dealt with Justice and Firestar fighting their younger selves, who were sent into the present by Loki for some reason or another. The younger Justice and Firestar figure that the current Justice and Firestar were evil dopplegangers created by Loki, but by the end of this story, the Justices and Firestars have figured out what Loki had done and have resolved to deal with Loki together. I actually liked this comic more than I thought I would have. I'm a sucker for Nova, and I've always loved his dynamic with Spidey, and the Firestar/Justice story is also beginning to grow on me. The one page Hulk story was kind of funny, while the Stingray story didn't do a thing for me, mainly because Stingray was in it... But all in all, this was some pretty good stuff. Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.
One more comic before I end this post. We'll finish things up with a look at Avengers: Prime #4(of 5). Things start off with Hela attacking the Enchantress, since the Enchantress betrayed Hela last issue and assisted Thor. Hela handily defeats Enchantress and heads over to Thor's hammer, which was left behind when Enchantress teleported Thor to safety. Hela tries to lift the hammer thinking that Thor might have been dead, but is angered to learn that she couldn't pick up Mjolnir. To rectify this, Hela summons Thor's grandfather and tells him that Thor was dead, and that if he lifts the hammer for her, she'd return him to life. Thor's grandfather tries to lift the hammer, but can't, which leads him to believe that Thor was still alive and that Hela was lying to him. Thor's grandfather goes to attack Hela, but she banishes him back to the underworld. Meanwhile, Thor, Iron Man and Steve Rogers are trying to figure out where they are. At first Thor feels that they have all died and were in the afterlife, but later on he begins to believe that the fall of Asgard during Siege has screwed up the nine realms, and that is what was going on. Regardless of what was going on, Thor begins to rally several different creatures to his side, since he knows that all roads lead to Hela, and that last time they battled, she defeated him with ease. Back with Hela, she is attacked once more by the Enchantress, but Hela puts her down again, this time with the mystical Twilight Sword. Meh. My Norse mythology/knowledge of Thor is kind of rusty, so I'm not really sure what the importance of Hela holding the Twilight Sword is. This issue was okay, although I did find myself enjoying it a bit less than I enjoyed the first few issues. The story kind of dragged here, with the heroes not really doing much, and some of the dialogue irked me, especially Tony Stark, who couldn't seem to stop talking... Overall though, this wasn't that bad of a comic, but it was definitely a step down from the great last issue. Score: 6 out of 10.
Until next week, here's Arsenal, back when he still had a daughter, had kicked his drug habit and two arms!