x-men

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Review – Uncanny X-Men #18 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Colors: Jason Keith & Morry Hollowell
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ron Garney & Matt Milla
Published by: Marvel Comics

Heads up, if you haven’t read AVX #11 this is going to be a massive spoiler situation. That said, I warned you guys.

Kate Kiloare of Superhuman P.R. fame stands alone, everything shattered, broken and wrecked. Standing at the highest point of the escalation and doing damage control to the human population to explain the insane situations revolving around the Earth and Utopia she now looks at shattered remains. This really helps setup where this has all been going, promise of a new life, a new world, peace and prosperity and yet all that’s really here is war and hell and a massive floating island that looks majestic.

You can’t spin a positive twist on the Phoenix losing its last restraints and going supernova. Try as one might this is heavy. We see final encounters between the Phoenix Duo and key mutants but given the control imbalance there’s going to be a lot of resistance no matter who talks to them. We also see some fallout with Colossus and Magik, unfortunately for Colossus his desire to protect and save Magik has bitten him in the rear. This whole arc with Cyttorak explodes in his face and she reveals her being condemned in the past was likely one of those moves that shouldn’t have been turned over. Unfortunately with no one around and all eyes on the Phoenix she’s unchecked for now.

The madness continues back to AVX #11 influenced panels and we have a look inside the elegance of chaos, the two Phoenix force combatants locked in their own minds as they slug it out and blast their way through a united front. The tension growing, the frustrations developing and then… it comes.

For those hoping to see a really solid side issue to compliment the ongoing AVX story, Uncanny X-Men 18 is a solid bet. It details the attempts for a resolution, the inner thinking before the final tide changes and how Colossus just got screwed out of his mind. Hat’s off to Gillen and Garney for that intense moment, it was probably one of the biggest punches in the issue.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Avengers vs X-Men #11 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Brian Bendis
Pencils: Oliver Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover: Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Published by: Marvel Comics

We’re back and I don’t even know where to start, after a 4 week break Marvel comes back with AVX #11 and it’s massive. The force is down to just two hosts and the battle is on to try to tame and control the Phoenix. Unfortunately this is coming toward the end of the series and all the stops have to come out, we have X-Men and Avengers reaching out not just to those hurt but to everyone that ever wanted to protect the planet.

The battle from that point reaches critical mass in a hurry, Scott and Emma are on the verge of insanity as the Phoenix force penetrates their minds and drives their darkest wishes to the surface, tempting fate and the future of the world with every moment. It’s not a good time for visitors when stuff like that goes down and yet Xavier manages to call him out for a chat, unfortunately by chat he meant WWIII for the fate of the universe.

It’s an interesting issue, I love the Avengers speech in the first few pages because it feels like a moment where they’ve come to face reality beyond this is for America or humans or whatever. It’s all or nothing and nothing is looking pretty buffed out right about now, they need all the power and hands they can get on this ship and it’s not going to be an easy ride at all. The Avengers are assembled and the X-Men are finally back as a squad again and they’ve put this lucid dream of a world Utopia to rest in favor of living to see tomorrow.

Xavier is charged beyond belief and so are the others, it’s a showdown that will change everything in their world and as we all know, sacrifices have to be made when the Phoenix is around. The only question is, will they be able to live with what happens if this all manages to cool off, given the extremes I really don’t see this just being a slap on the wrist and a hug to make it all better. Expect serious mental trauma when the story closes up soon.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Wolverine and the X-Men #15 (AVX)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Jorge Molina
Inks: Norman Lee
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover art: Stuart Immonen & Marte Gracia
Published by: Marvel Comics

Taking place just after Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 we’re launched into Wolverine and the remaining X-Men gearing up for a war with the remaining Phoenix Force hosts. Scott and Emma are the last two remaining in the battle and their power has grown to intense levels, with Emma losing her grip on control the X-Men are forced to take on a battle they may never return from.

The issue is a social call in many ways and an attempt to cross over the members of the Jean Grey school with the Avengers to show some cross chemistry between them. We see new advancements to strike back at the Phoenix Duo as they reach new levels of power and the Phoenix itself is starting to leak through the cracks breaking their control. Hope steps forward to acknowledge her role in all of this while the Avengers get lost in trying to find solutions excluding her.

It’s a fun deviation from the regular story, although one has to wonder what will come next given we’re looking at so much possible salvation and hope for the group in these dark times. Will there be a happy ending? It seems doubtful but there are some major changes in the issue that support a turn around for the Avengers and X-Men that join them. We see some lost faces come back into the fray such as Xavier who was very much sprinkled in throughout the story until now and even Rachel.

For those following AVX and watching their pockets, this is a worthwhile investment as it brings some nice character building to the story. The only real downfall is how Molina handled the art for the issue, I have to say it’s really confusing to see these strange squished heads for Wolverine, Hope and a few others. The expressions are pretty good for the other mutants, environment and especially between Ice Man and Kitty as she gives the best eye roll I’ve seen in ages. Sometimes experimentation isn’t the best thing to do and it really showed on those few panels.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Review – Uncanny X-Men #17 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Daniel Acuna & Mike Del Mundo
Art Assist: Diego Olmos
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Del Mundo
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix attack resumes against Sinister to stop any plans of his against Hope for his own personal gains.   The group faces incredible odds but the cavalry is riding in to lend a hand in this difficult time for the X-Men, even in their darkest hour full of the most power they’re still a team and need each other to make it through.

The biggest thing that sticks out in this issue is the art, that’s not really a compliment at all as it ages the X-Men in ways I never knew to the point where they look disfigured. It’s certainly not pleasing during the read and it actually pulls away from the experience of the story, while I’m all for experimentation in style and format I can’t say this was the right choice to play.

In story we see Gillen wrapping this story up with a bang, not only is there a conflict between Sinister and the X-Men but we see Unit take a deeper interest as well. Groups battled valiantly against the clones and we see allies colliding as they stage a front against the Phoenix powered clones awaiting them. It certainly gets ugly but the story twists manage to avoid jumping the shark.

As a whole, Uncanny X-Men 17 manages to deliver a solid story arc and additional depth into the X-Men side of this conflict as they gain Phoenix power. Unfortunately the art wrapping up issue 17 is some of the hardest I’ve had to swallow since reviewing Marvel comics. Some things to note, Magneto doesn’t have a Halloween costume helmet made of cloth or vinyl and Psylocke isn’t horribly old or deformed. Also we notice when unrefined illustrations are pushed as final products. One can only hope this trend doesn’t continue forward as it doesn’t benefit this issue in the slightest. There are panels that have a sharp contrast and one can only assume the other team members on the art side had influence there.

Release date: August 22, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★☆☆☆☆ 
Dialog:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★½☆☆ 
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Marvel Friday Sale – Astonishing series books for 99 cents!

Marvel loves a good sale, today is no exception for the team as they put on intro looks into their astonishing lines on sale for a limited period (until 8pm PST / 11pm EST). Check out Spider-Man & Wolverine, Thor and X-Men and find out how their story arcs began.

The list:

Check out the Marvel Friday Digital Sale for all the details including covers, ratings and descriptions of each book so you know if it’s something you want to jump into.

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Review – New Avengers #29 (AVX)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Ron Garney & Jason Keith
Published by: Marvel Comics

In an earlier time during the AVX saga there was a moment, a key moment where Captain America and the world deciders wanted to hope for something else.

New Avengers #29 jumps into the time machine, we see the secret council brought together one more time in the darkest hours of the Phoenix taking over and the Avengers feeling helpless to it all. The same group that debated the fate of Hulk and so many other cases in private for the good of the world. It’s not something they pride themselves in, instead they often debate and dread the grouping of the team as it always brings so much conflict and a deep seeded sense of regret for the outcome that follows.

For Captain America, this reunion isn’t just about doing something for the Earth, it’s about trying to understand where times split and how to get back to a sense of normal again. With the group so emotionally split it’s a tough debate that follows and leaves them split on where this all will go, so many are at a crossroads given the advancements to humanity and the world that going against it seems equally as damaging. We get an insight into Reed Richards as well and his MIA nature in this whole battle.

It’s a good read and it helps explain why Captain America is so torn apart on what he’s doing, he knows what these changes bring but it’s the condition that lurks on him and drives him to create these resistance attacks. For those following AVX that want a good break from the battle and a bit of time to feel bad for Cap this is a solid read.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Avengers vs X-Men #9 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin w/ Larry Molinar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor
Variant Covers: Adam Kubert & Justin Ponsor | Ryan Stegman & Matt Wilson
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix Four have been on a heck of a ride, yes… four. Namor lost himself in his attack on Wakanda and with that he lost the Phoenix Force which distributed itself to the others. Issue 9 leaves us looking forward though, to the continued battles of the Avengers against the growing instability of the Phoenix avatars. We join one such Avenger waking up in a bloody, beaten and blurry state trying to remember where he was, what’s going on and what he’s going to do. Unfortunately all of that is irrelevant because his opponents carry the Phoenix Force.

For those hoping to see a happier chapter come to the Avengers I can’t promise you very much. There are some moments of hope and small victories but they fail to outweigh the damage still being dealt by the X-Men. Our star really does come from the cover image though, Spider-Man has his time to genuinely shine as only he can and we see some heavy tension as he does what he feels only he can accomplish. The whole unknown of the Way of the Spider is still a bit of a mystery, from the sound of things, Parker has rattled off everything he can think of to her for inspiration but it’s not enough.

The issue wraps with just as much fire as it started with and we see the Phoenix Power channel down to just a select two. It’s a tense moment and Hope realizes even if she’s not ready to throw down, it’s far too late to be concerned about that as her own time has run out. The fight is about to get even uglier as X-Men and mutants distance themselves from this group and the Phoenix Two seem to be at polar opposites for control of their powers.

Release Date: August 1, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Avengers #28 (AVX)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Walter Simonson
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Jason Keith
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Walt Simonson & Paul Mounts
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Avengers haven’t had it easy since the Phoenix Force arrived, getting cut off at every corner as they attempt to defy the X-Men. In fact they’ve been on the run each time they appear as they’re being flushed out of each home they have. This issue focuses on a counter-attack plan though, one which dives into the realm of the forbidden and unspeakable, something Red Hulk is all too familiar with from his darker past.

Issue 28 for The Avengers jumps into this solo story with full force, we see a bit of the thinking behind the Red Hulk and the dilemma he faces as part of this war, he has no personal stake in it and the Avengers as a whole aren’t thrilled about his participation but his power and size make him an alluring ally to have. It’s not exactly the selling point anyone wants to hear about themselves though and it drives him to constantly double think during this return to his dark past.

Unfortunately his plan doesn’t exactly go along magically, instead things go south in a hurry once he reaches his point of action. In a sense all the concerns he had about the Avengers and their treatment of him still played out in this scenario though, sure he’s not a giant beast punching through but he’s still just a tool. Normally I’d feel happy to leave it there when talking about Red Hulk but I do feel a bit of pity on him for all of about 3 seconds and then it’s back to distaste for him again.

Avengers 28 delivers a respectable side story that manages to function within the single issue instead of dragging things on for ages, anyone following AVX will appreciate the issue isn’t tied to another 30 issues in some magical side arc. The art and story deliver a solid experience that leaves the reader satisfied by the final pages.

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Review – Avengers vs X-Men #8 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin, Larry Molikar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Jim Cheung, Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Jerdme Opena, Justin Ponsor
Published by: Marvel Comics

We left the story off with a raged out Namor headed for vengeance in Wakanda, the Avengers were hiding out in the city hoping to figure out a solution to prepare Hope to help battle the Phoenix Five and the Phoenix Force itself. Unfortunately where things go in issue 8, well it’ll raise the urgency and also send the Avengers running for cover in the process, Namor isn’t the coolest head in the Phoenix Five and we get a dose of that in this issue.

Given the constant run-in events with Scarlet Witch it was a given there would be a breaking point for tolerance on why they didn’t try to take her out with a greater strike. Namor with his temper issues was the first to reach that fallout point and after getting a tip he waged full-scale war with some of his army from Atlantis on Wakanda against the Avengers in a pure rage for their defiance to this new order in the world. The act itself is huge but the battle is even larger, leaving the Avengers beaten and doubtful and making huge power balance shifts for the Phoenix Five.

Major changes do hit this issue, we see a Phoenix avatar step back and we see something long coming for Red Hulk as well, as I’ve stressed before I honestly felt he was completely boosted above reason in power and this brings the story back down to earth a bit.

With this arc drawing to a close soon one has to wonder what else they’ll pull out of the box for this series, Hope is clearly training to tackle the Phoenix Force, there are new developments about the power distribution among those chosen and we see a new factor from the mutants come into play. To top it all off we haven’t even seen all the side story elements play out yet either. Bendis and crew better have some really good twists up their sleeve to keep this whole thing running until the final act.

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Review – Uncanny X-Men #15 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Daniel Acuna
Published by: Marvel Comics

As the Phoenix Force purges the world of war and darkness, there are many inevitable battles including the one against Sinister. The X-Men are concerned about what interference might be made from the man now that Hope is in the open and the Phoenix Force has arrived. Instead of letting things brew much further they gather and set forth against the darkness ahead using their full combined power.

The issue itself seems to drop in between 6 and 7 where Hope has been taken but they haven’t waged full war against Scarlet Witch just yet and tried to pursue her. Knowing the Avengers aren’t a direct threat they focus their power on the numerous other issues in their to-do list for this revival of the planet and new beginning. This isn’t the only focus of the story though, we see that even the might of a Phoenix Force X-Man isn’t enough to shake the foundation of other higher powers still, the harsh reality is a hard slap but it doesn’t deter them from their original goal.

Uncanny X-Men #15 delivers an interesting twist to this ongoing conflict, at this rate they’ll not only purge the world of war but of all the villains as well. It’s incredibly hard to imagine what rests ahead at this rate, all we know right now is that all hell is about to break loose with Sinister to keep him from ruining this tranquility they’ve established across the planet.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

 

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