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Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Force #25

Back to Front

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Wiacek, Green, Ryan, Palmiotti, Hanna, Conrad, Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: George Roussos
Editors: Bob Harras, Tom DeFalco
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: August, 1993

Twenty-five issues…big number, huh? Well…maybe not. I’ve seen this title repurposed for awhile, then renamed X-Statix and that ran for a couple years. Then post-Messiah-CompleX another X-Force ran for a couple years, and the current Uncanny X-Force has run about 30 issues. But y’know, back in the day, this was a common anniversary–a whopping 25 issues.

As with X-Factor #92, I re-read this and much of it was like I was reading it for the first time…certainly the first time with much comprehension of who these characters were. This was even before Cable first got his own series, which ran for over 100 issues (followed by Cable & Deadpool that ran about 50 and the more recent Cable series with Hope than ran about 25).

This issue seems to be the introduction of Exodus. A sticker on the bag this copy of the issue was in when I bought it stated “Exodus 1st App.” Back in the day, I didn’t pick up on that, and just thought he was another one of these “Acolytes” and didn’t dig or think any deeper. It’s also the “return” of Cable, apparently the first he’d shown up since the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover few months earlier.

The new mutants–the X-Force–return home from a mission. However, someone else is there–and the battle is quickly joined…though it turns out their mentor–Cable–has returned. Some are glad to see the man, others not so happy–but all listen as Cable explains a bit of where he’s been and what he’s learned since the events that seperated him from his pupils. Exodus arrives, inviting Cannonball and Sunspot to Heaven, but pre-emptively attacks the group for thinking of attacking him. Cannonball eventually agrees, but the team follows, and all find themselves aboard what apparently used to be Cable’s base, known as Graymalkin, with a sentient computer program called “The Professor.” After more fighting, Cable gets his young charges off the ship, and seeks to “rescue” the computer program that’s apparently been a father figure to him–and finds himself confronting an enemy all thought dead. This fight is much shorter, all but disassembling Cable before he escapes (nearly as a corpse) to rejoin X-Force.

As said above, I didn’t really “get” this issue when I first read it, when it came out. I recall (with a bit of deja vu) the ending with Cable, but not much else. I certainly lacked the context of Cannonball and Sunspot being part of the New Mutants prior to Cable’s 1st appearance and that title ending to be replaced with this one. I had not yet read X-Cutioner’s Song–or at least, not more than maybe a couple chapters (it was only about 6 or 7 years ago that I finally tracked the story down and read it all the way through) so I didn’t even have that context of what had happened to Cable, though from what trading card or another or Marvel Handbook/profile special (Stryfe’s Strike Files?) or Wizard or some such, I knew of Stryfe as being Cable’s clone from the future.

I hadn’t realized either, at the time, that Magneto had “died,” though from in-story context I picked up on the characters having thought him dead…but his death/etc was more of a “meta” thing than I was aware of as a 12-year old at the time.

This issue’s story is another that stands alone well enough, though it continues to build foundation for what I consider the “heart” of Fatal Attractions in X-Men #25 and Wolverine #75. The art is good, and somehow extremely familiar to me. This visual rendition of X-Force just is what it is, and I like it.

I’m a bit less impressed with the overall cover of this issue than I was with the X-Factor issue; but in a way the fairly close-up image of Cable with one of those HUUUUGE guns he carried is rather iconic, which makes this a more full cover from the front for me than the X-Factor issue. Of course, this cover (and the hologram) also totally gives away from the get-go that Cable is back, but especially near 20 years later, I’m not bothered by that at all.

I’ve snagged this issue from bargain bins–turns out I actually wound up with 2 copies of this issue for roughly $.75 total in the past month. Well worth getting, if only for the hologram, particularly if you can snag it from a bargain bin. Cover price was $3.50, which again is 50 cents cheaper than cover price of a standard Marvel comic nowadays, and this has a cardstock cover, hologram, and 48-ish pages (some of them ads).

X-O Manowar #4 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

TMNT Micro-Series #7: April [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Magic: The Gathering – The Shadow Mage Revisited


Full post at FantasyRantz.wordpress.com
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A 2012 look at Acclaim/Armada‘s 4-issue mini-series from 1995, introducing Magic: The Gathering to comic books for the first time.

TMNT at Walmart and Target (2012)

After seeing bare-bones presence of the new TMNT toys at Target, they seem to have finally joined the ranks of the “regularly stocked,” as I’ve now seen these multi-peg displays at 5 or 6 different Targets.

I still don’t care for the “sound FX” figures, and would actually be sorta interested in the “TMNT Classics” line (at least for Leonardo).

The photo below was taken at the Target in Willoughby, OH:

tmntattargetwilloughby01

I was actually fairly surprised when I saw the following in the Eastlake Walmart recently. Though “late” to the party, that Walmart had a better stock of figures than most of the Targets I’ve seen–though not all visible here, all 9 unique “basic” figures were on these pegs.

tmntatwalmarteastlake01

At the “Super” Walmart in Brimfield, OH, the aisle tag isn’t quite appropriately placed, but it caught my attention, so served its purpose. I was beginning to REALLY doubt Walmart’s support of these new TMNT toys, but I guess I didn’t need to.

tmntatwalmartbrimfield01

And I’m not quite sure what to make of these bare pegs…the “display” looks pretty shoddy and bare…but that’s hopefully because the things are actually selling.

I’ve often had an “issue” with toy lines for their “peg warmers,” and it does seem like the turtles themselves are filling that role so far: it’s Shredder, the Kraang, the Foot Soldier, and April O’Neil that seem relatively rare–and even Splinter.

tmntatwalmartbrimfield02

The ancillary stuff–the role play kits, the talking/FX turtles, and the vehicles seem pretty common–for what little attention I’ve paid. Continue reading

True Fresh Starts vs. Mere Rebooting of Numbering

archerandarmstrong001New #1s may work. In a way, they’ve worked quite well on me in the past year. If I recall off the top of my head, I bought around 30 of ’em last September/October with DC‘s New 52 initiative. Of course, I didn’t stick around very long on any of the titles, topping out around 8-9 issues of Animal Man and Swamp Thing. While I’ve largely kept up with Batwing, that’s been always a month behind for the “discount” on the digital, and I suppose another exception would be following up from Batman with a couple digital issues closing out the Night of Owls stuff.

extermination001cBut this summer, I’ve found myself fairly invested in and enjoying 7 new titles from #1, as well as the just-past-the-one-year-mark Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title from IDW.

Despite the $3.99 pricing, I’ve made exceptions for these for being non-Marvel/non-DC mainstream books.

And they’re all either completely new, original properties, or PROPERLY-done relaunches/reboots.

The Boom! titles (Higher Earth, Extermination, and The Hypernaturals) bloodshot001are all brand-new original properties that I’ve gotten in with on the “ground floor” from #1 (or the FCBD) issues, and thus far am following them with the new release of each single issue. As new properties, obviously these are fine being in the low numbers. They’re not mere continuations of existing continuity or new iterations of otherwise identical titles (and sometimes creative teams).

And then with the Valiant books (Archer and Armstrong, Bloodshot, Harbinger, and XO Manowar), the original titles have been gone more than 12 years, and the current company is ITSELF a whole new iteration, sharing only name and teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw001properties with the original Valiant. And since they’re not picking up with where the original Valiant properties left off in the late-1990s, it only makes sense to start fresh, with both new #1s and new continuity.

Even TMNT is forging a whole new universe from any of the prior-existing universes, and I’m enjoying the plethora of stuff that IDW‘s been pumping out there. With a year or two between the end of the “Volume Four” series by original TMNT co-creator Peter Laird and draining the last of the done-in-advance queue of work on the higherearth001aTales of the TMNT title, a whole new company in control of the characters, a new license…it makes sense there’d be a new #1, and new “history” for the characters.

It just does not sit well with me the constant renumbering that Marvel–in particular–does; such that it’s actually in itself on principle turned me off to everything post-AvX (and got me to drop all the tie-in AvX titles). DC has at least had the “guts” to hold to the new numbering, keeping the books on schedule, and giving in and having various “waves” of books–cycling titles OUT that aren’t working and xomanowar001cycling in new ones, such that there’s beginning to be a hint of numerical diversity rather than “everything” being the same number each month.

But having come through the 1990s and the 2000s, having followed many characters for nearly two decades, the new stuff just isn’t (as a whole/in general) sitting well with me, and I’m even more put off by the pricing. I’ve bought DC and Marvel since their output was $.75 to $1, and as the prices have crept (and LEAPT!!!) upward…it’s just so hard to “justify” $3.99 (even $2.99) on titles/characters I hypernaturals001aremember paying only $1.50 to $2.25 or even the more recent $2.50 for.

With the Boom and Valiant stuff…it’s starting at $3.99, and broken record though I am, I’m just somehow more “able” to accept the higher price for stuff that’s rooted in the present, with today’s prices, rather than paying today’s prices for yesterday’s properties.

I also don’t have lengthy backstory to try to catch up on at high prices or out of print collected volumes to justify paying high premiums for. harbinger001And rather than be told that continuity doesn’t matter because of the sheer volume of continuity…these are all young enough titles that the “continuity” isn’t even an issue yet any more than it would be for ANY self-contained story.

After 23 years of keeping up with comics, it’s sort of sad to realize that of the ongoing titles I’m keeping up with, I’m looking to bail on the only title in triple digits (The Walking Dead) in favor of the collected volumes, which leaves the highest-numbered issue to the TMNT at #13 (last week).

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Factor #92

xfactor092The Man Who Wasn’t There

Co-Plotter: Scott Lobdell
Penciler/Co-Plotter: Joe Quesada
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Background Assist: Cliff Van Meter
Colorist: Oliver
Assistant Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: July, 1993

This issue kicks off the Fatal Attractions story/crossover/event, and carries the cover title “Out of the Light and into thy father’s shadow,” which is an apt declaration of the interior.

After an attack on a bunch of humans in hospice, X-Factor is investigating the slaughter. Though they lose the last survivor from the attack, the team has a prisoner–one of the Acolytes–who doesn’t seem inclined to give them any information until Quicksilver shows up. As the Acolytes worship Magneto, they place great importance on The Son, which allows some answers to be coaxed from the captured Spoor. Despite orders to remain behind, the rest of the team follows Quicksilver and government liaison Valerie Cooper, and what they find at an apparently quiet military base shocks the team and creating a rift between them and Cooper. Lead Acolyte Fabian Cortez does the usual villain thing of spouting off about his plan to Quicksilver, and is angered when his offer to install the Son of Magneto as leader of the Acoyltes is rejected. After X-Factor’s battle with the Acolytes ends, the team is left to deal with Cooper, who has had a revelation of her own explaining her recent actions and attitude.

I know I read this issue when it first came out 19-some years ago, but this time through much of the issue read as “new” to me. I remembered the Acolytes’ attack on the hospital, and the woman crying at the end, but the in-between stuff hadn’t stuck, nor did I have any great grasp on who all these characters were or their context.

It’s quite interesting looking back from 20 years later, knowing where certain characters wind up, and knowing in general what I do today about them that I did not know then. For one thing, I feel like I truly appreciate the enormity of this story now, where back then it was just an extra-length issue with a sturdy cover, fancy “hologram,” and a nearly triple-sized price tag ($3.50, but I think an issue like this published today would–knowing Marvel–be at least $7.99 if not $9.99).

Story-wise, I’m not entirely impressed–though this issue seems to set stuff in motion for the rest of the Fatal Attractions series, there’s something to it that just doesn’t feel like it “matters” as much–perhaps because this is just kicking stuff off, and so the nature of the crossover isn’t yet apparent by this issue’s conclusion, so it winds up feeling like more of a prologue or tangential piece of things. While the Acolytes are present here and their slaughter of the humans will have other consequences later in the arc, this issue is very much an X-Factor issue, and seems very much like the “random” issue plucked from continuity and read out of context. Knowing what I do now about Quicksilver’s relationship with Magneto, this issue holds more meaning for me–all the familial relationships of Marvel characters were still mostly abstract to me in 1993.

I definitely like the art for the issue, and in the first few pages I found myself thinking there was something familiar about it–and had a momentary “ah-ha!” when I saw the credits box and realized this was Quesada‘s work–I’d totally forgotten that he was the penciler on this series back then. I don’t recall being at all put off by the art back in ’93, and at present, find that it holds up well, as the characters are distinct, the action’s easy to follow, and I even actually like the very-90s character designs.

I’m most used to seeing the front half of this cover, so I’m that much more impressed opening the issue and looking at the whole of the image. The trade dress for this series is the darkened overlay on the right-hand side with the Fatal Attractions logo, cover blurb/title, and of course the hologram. This overlay takes up nearly half of the front cover and for me has always been the dominant factor. The hologram image itself is about the size of a trading card, and even now remains quite impressive to me–I recall noticing how “deep” the image was, and in the right light I can still stare at it for a bit, marveling at the detail and depth. (Even with contemporary 3-D films, I’m far more impressed by the depth of purported 3-D than I am stuff popping out at me).

All in all, a strong issue that I definitely like. Though I paid full price for a copy back in the day, I’ve since snagged this issue from 25-cent and 50-cent bins, though considering its cover price is still cheaper than a contemporary 20ish-paged single issue from Marvel today, it’s well worth its full price. Heck, the hologram alone is worth the 25/50 cents to $1 price if you come across it in a bargain bin. Though this is part of a larger story, it stands alone well enough.

xfactor092wraparound_large

Boom! Studios’ The Hypernaturals

Back in May, I reviewed the Hypernaturals Free Comic Book Day Edition.

Since then, I ended up deciding to throw in with several Boom! titles (Higher Earth and Extermination as well as this one) and though it lacks the familiarity of a Marvel or DC title, I’m quite enjoying this so far.

So far in this first arc, the Hypernaturals centennial team is feared lost, which means that a couple of retired team members are forced to come out of retirement, joined with a couple of didn’t-quite-make-the-team teens, as they set out to discover what actually happened to the newest team and rescue them if possible.

The first issue sees the “rescue team” come together and set out on their mission, where they get a really big clue as to what they’re up against. The second issue sees the team through their first battle together while flashbacks reveal more about the characters themselves and their motivations.

Story-wise, I’m enjoying this series on the whole. There are a number of characters, and while they are individually recognizable and stand out when I see them, I’m not yet all that invested in them, and character names don’t stick with me beyond actually reading the issues or paging back through FOR names. I like the somewhat super-hero feel to this series mixed with the “cosmic,” which makes a lot of sense since it’s written by Abnett and Lanning. The concepts and world-building have been interesting and make sense in their context, without making the environment overly “fantastic.” This is definitely sci-fi and all, but at its heart the story is familiar and timeless.

Walker, Derenick, and Downer make the whole thing look really good. This series looks like a standard super-hero comic–futuristic machinery, uniforms, the works. Given this is an entirely new series, nothing jumps out at me as being ‘wrong’ and I like the various character designs so far. In some ways, this puts me in mind of something vaguely Fantastic Four-ish with a definite hint of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I also like the backmatter, as we (at least on the first two issues) have a double-page “interview” with one of the protagonists, allowing some further insight into the characters that just isn’t possible within the pages of the story itself. For what I imagine would be obvious reasons, these remind me a bit of Watchmen.

All in all, this is another new title from Boom! that I was hesitant on initially due simply to the $3.99 price point, but have recently thrown in with as an alternative to Marvel and DC. I’m not thrilled with the price, but it doesn’t bother me so much here as it does from standard Marvel and DC fare. So far, I’d say if you’re interested in stuff by Abnett and Lanning, this would be a great series to check out for something new from them that is not constrained by a corporate sandbox.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Boom! Studios’ Extermination

I started watching Falling Skies last year, and found that I enjoyed it overall. Granted, I “lost track” of it along the way and have yet to finish the first season, but look forward to catching up on both seasons on DVD in the not-to-distant future. I mention that because in a way, I think this title could be (in broad strokes) described as Falling Skies with super-heroes.

We open with a character that fits the Batman archetype, Nox. Human, no powers, self-made and all that; even has the dark uniform and cowl/mask. With him is the Red Reaper, a science-based villain…yet the two are working together. Of course, in a world overrun by aliens that have practically exterminated humanity and are trying to finish the job, the whole “hero vs. villain” thing doesn’t hold up–after all, even the villain bent on ruling the world, accumulating vast financial gain or pretty much any goal that’s roughly sane doesn’t want the world destroyed by a third party.

By the second issue, we have a bit more camaraderie between the two–they’ve survived some alien attacks and had some setbacks. When they find a band of survivors, they’re put to the test. Reaper is quite happy to throw in with the survivors…but Nox can’t get over the fact that he recognizes their leader as a former villainess.

The third issue involves more characters in the story as we continue to learn about this world past and present–what it was like before the invasion and where things sit at present. Particularly memorable is what we learn about Nox and where his motivation may not actually be what it seems to be, which could be trouble for the survivors.

I particularly like the story so far. There’s plenty of the familiar–especially in the flashbacks–with heroes and villains fighting, and even some in-fighting with the heroes. But the post-apocalyptic “present” holds a lot of potential and details a situation that I haven’t seen all that often for an ongoing series. Obviously a post-apocalyptic future setting isn’t new; even forcing a hero to work with his enemy isn’t new. But as the status quo for an ongoing series, I like it, and it actually seems a bit fresh…particularly compared to the standardish fare from DC and Marvel of late that just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

The art’s good, and nicely captures both the past and present settings. I also (once I picked up on it) like the way the “present” is conveyed with full-bleed pages while the flashbacks maintain the blank white borders. The story often compares and contrasts the two time periods, and the art drives it home without the need for captioning to describe which is which or when.

As with Higher Earth, I find myself giving this title a “pass” when it comes to the variant covers and $3.99 price point. While this could easily be just one of a number of titles exploring the after-effects of some temporary-status-quo-changing “event” that ties in with other titles to give a full picture…this is just one title, isolated to itself, telling THE story. That there’s room for so much more makes it feel that much more epic, but as of present, it’s a single title that doesn’t require any other series to “complete” the current/ongoing story. As to the variant covers, I’ve simply requested the “A” cover for consistency, and ignore as best I can the solicits and advertising and such that show other covers.

I look forward to seeing the progression of the relationship between Nox and Red Reaper, as well as what becomes of the survivors. In that regard, I definitely hope that this becomes something comparable to The Walking Dead in that it’s a superhero story, a story of characters interacting, and the aliens trying to exterminate humanity become background in the setting. While I have little hope , really, of any new comic making it even past a full year, I would love to see this last awhile…at least long enough for the creative team to tell their story in full, if this proves a finite series.

Also: My thoughts on Higher Earth #s 1-3 at Fantasy Rantz.

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