6.27.12 Reviews (Part 1/2)

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X-Men #31 (Marvel): The approach that makes this incarnation of Marvel’s Mutants stand out against the fumbling morass of X-Men books out there is that writer Brian Wood roots the story in social science, and not superheroics. With the discovery of 700 year old mutant proto-DNA that could literally rewrite the history of the mutant species on planet Earth, we see the rising danger of bio-engineered weapons being used for either paramilitary or political means. There are little ideas I like in this script, from personal “likes,” such as Sabra the mutant Mossad Agent, to the personalities of the characters coming through loud and unique. Storm asserts her command presence, Pixie is clearly the rookie, Domino can be flirty, Psylocke still seems disillusioned from her Uncanny X-Force experience and is looking to belong, while Colossus is more than just the dutiful soldier. There’s depth to the way all of these different archetypes mesh together so well. Yeah, there’s big action, big ideas, big personal moments, and also big contributions by artist David Lopez. I try to keep things semi-classy around here, but damn it if his work doesn’t give me an art boner. I mean, I get excited when Psylocke actually looks Asian, Storm looks like she’s plausibly North African, Pixie has an impish/elfin quality to her. Dude is frickin’ paying attention to what he illustrates, not just schlocking it out. All the while his style is clean and crisp and vibrant in a way that engages you fully. Who would have ever thought that the guy who delivered books like Demo or Local or The New York Four could have ever made this jump? Yeah, that was a rhetorical question. The key is that Storm, Pixie, the X-Men, the mutants, people in general, can all be outsiders looking to define their identity and purpose. And if you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know that shit is right in Wood’s wheelhouse as a creator. I still can’t resist the comparisons to some WildStorm properties, I always go for Planetary, the archaeologists of the unknown, uncovering the hidden truth about the world around us; Wood suggests Authority, a global power play, in their mysterious ship, with the fate of mutantkind hanging in the balance. Either way, it’s Grade A.

The Manhattan Projects #4 (Image): If “imagination is more important than knowledge,” as Einstein suggests, then I figure Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra have nothing to worry about. Hickman has his usual fun with sci-fi alternate history, linking the Roswell and Tunguska incidents (botched ones at that) with scheduled visits coordinated by the Allied powers. There’s the fun of the FDR AI forming a rudimentary DARPANET, Fibonacci sequences and Stargate harmonics, with alien conquerors hiding their intentions through (hilarious) translation difficulties. Pitarra’s art is so very agile, able to pull off the harsh and gruff detail of stuff like Einstein’s frustrated stubble, yet bouncing back to handle gleaming retro technology, or impressive desert vistas. My only gripe is that I’m confused on issues… I thought this was a 4-issue mini-series(?) Yet it certainly seems like it could still go since it ends inconclusively and there are still some dangling threads. Did it get extended to 5 or 6 issues? Was it always? Totally in the weeds here. OH SHIT WAIT I JUST LOOKED AT THE IMAGE COMICS  WEB-SITE AND THIS IS AN ONGOING MONTHLY BOOK?! Dang. That’s something new for Hickman @ Image. Cool. Grade A-.


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