Posts Tagged ‘Beast’

EG’s Review: X-Men Noir

September 16, 2009

Photobucket

X-Men Noir
Writer – Fred Van Lente
Artist – Dennis Calero
Letters – Blambot’s Nate Piekos
Publisher – Marvel Comics

Photobucket

Summary –

Honestly, this is a tough book to summarize. I mean, I’d love to just start with the concept and say, “What if the X-Men were translated into the world of the crime drama of the 1940’s?” But, the truth is, this is no where near that easy to describe.

Nevertheless, I’ll endeavor to give an idea of what goes on in this book..

A body washes up on Welfare Island, a redheaded woman with an “X” tattoo, covered in slash marks, grouped in threes. The “X” tattoo brands the woman as someone that spent time in a reform school run by former psychologist/current convict Charles Xavier. Xavier is in prison after it is discovered that he was training his pupils, honing their criminal abilities. Even without their mentor, though, the “X-Men,” as they call themselves, are still active in the criminal world.

At the scene of the crime, we are introduced to young detective Peter Magnus, son of the Chief of Detectives, Eric Magnus, whose life is turned upside down when he finds out that his father is under the thumb of the criminal organization known as the Hellfire Club, and that the organization essentially runs the city.

Photobucket

As the story progresses, we see a lot of characters with familiar names, but wildly different personalities than we are used to in the regular Marvel Universe.

Perhaps the key character to the entire story is Thomas Halloway, a reporter and costumed vigilante who seems to be the only one truly interested in finding out who murdered the woman washed up on the island. (If you are up on your Golden Age Marvel, you’ll recognize this as the original “Angel” – a nice nod, given this is an X-Men book.)

The story essentially splits early on, and we are left with one story loosely following Peter Magnus, and the stronger story following Thomas Halloway. The two do eventually come together, but not in a way that seems particularly necessary.

After the completion of the Magnus storyline, we follow the Thomas Halloway as he eventually discovers the murderer, and discover a couple of surprises along the way.

Along with the sequential art story, we are given a prose science fiction story, a throwback to pulp stories, that also references a lot of stories and characters from the Marvel Universe.

Photobucket

Review –

I’ll admit, I don’t regularly read any X-titles right now, but I’m familiar with the characters. If you are coming to this title expecting “What if…” versions of the X-Men you are familiar with, you are going to be disappointed. For the most part, only names and the slightest essence of the characters are taken from the known mythology and applied to this new setting.

Which, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. It is not a new idea, and has been used with varying degrees of success in other projects (the “Just Imagine Stan Lee…” and Tangent Universe titles from DC, and the Marvel Mangaverse spring to mind immediately), so the concept is valid. The execution, sadly, is not great.

The characters in this story seem to sit on a fence. Instead of breaking completely with the characters of the regular Marvel Universe, the writer gives the characters moments of connection to those counterparts, but it is often tenuous at best. For example – Quicksilver is fast, so there is a line where Peter is referred to as fast… and that is about it. Given that the story is so completely breaking with the “normal” of the regular Marvel Universe, I can’t help but think that a clean break would have better served the story.

Photobucket

There are also a lot of characters thrown into this story. We are being introduced into this world and narrowing the focus on fewer characters would have let us get to know those characters a little better, which would have been a major benefit to the story.

I also found the split story was a detrement. When I first started reading, I thought Peter was going to be the central character of the story, but quickly learned that his was essentially a pumped up subplot. Had that aspect been removed from the book entirely, allowing more focus on the single mystery where we followed Thomas Holloway, I think the entire story would have been more engaging, and certainly tighter.

The prose story is kind of a highlight of the series, but seems completely out of context with the story. I kept looking for some parallel (other than “Look, here’s another story where we use names from the X-Men universe”), but if it is there, I failed to grasp it. Still, it is a neat homage to pulp science fiction of yesteryear.

As for the art, while the tone is fitting for the work, the figures are stiff. And, while I don’t mind an artist occasionally cutting and pasting a repeated image, in this book it seems to be done a lot. (I love nine panel grid, I really do, but only when it is handled correctly. Using the same image of a head in all nine panels just looks plain lazy, and makes me want to direct the artist to Wally Wood’s famous 22 Panels That Always Work!)

Photobucket

And (this may be a first for me), I found the word balloons/lettering distracting. It is hard for me to nail down exactly why I found them so distracting, but I think the lettering is too small for the balloons. It allowed for a lot of white space around the lettering, which, given the color tone of the pages, really stood out.

Overall, I found getting through this series difficult, with just an okay story and lots of shortcomings. As a result, I’m giving this one and a half out of five Running Steves.

Photobucket

I may have dropped it down to just one, but I got the hardcover from the library, and since I didn’t have to pay to read this series, I’m feeling generous!

Advertisements

Comic Con 2008 Day 3: Con-clusion!

July 28, 2008
Today is a bittersweet day.

Here we are, returned to OG’s abode, after three great days of the Comic Con International, and a day of rest.  (See?  We are acknowleding that we didn’t get around to posting on Sunday, despite our assurance that we would.  Sorry.  We stink.)  It is good to be back, and, yet, a little sad that the Con is over.

We can’t complain, though.  With the exception of two panels we wanted to see on the first day, we managed to get into everything we really wanted to get into.  And, missing those first two panels was completely out of our control, thanks to the traffic jam we mentioned previously.

We were smart with our time and scheduling, we opted for only three days of Con (avoiding excessive physical and mental exhaustion), we wisely prepared sandwiches, snacks and beverages for each day ahead of time, and we simply could not have done better.

We nailed it.  We mastered the Con.

So, what of Saturday at the Con? 

EG started out the day at the Spirituality in Comics panel while OG entered the floor in a valiant attempt to procure souvenirs for his family.  The panel was lively and interesting, discussing the increased number of spiritual themes in modern comics.  It was a smaller panel, but it allowed a more intimate level of discussion. 

(A quick note here – all too often, the smaller panels of the Con, focusing on a singular theme or creator, are overlooked.  In our experience, though, these can be some of the most fun and informative meetings you can find.  You could probably fill your entire schedule with these types of panels and have a very fulfilling Con experience!)

After meeting back up, the next program was a favorite of ours – Quick Draw!  The Quick Draw panel is always fun.  Sergio Aragones (of Groo and Mad Magazine fame), Scott Shaw (artist of Bongo Comics, Hanna Barbera, and much more), and Mike Peters (creator of Mother Goose and Grimm) “compete” against one another in drawing tasks (like, “The Incredible Hulk as the President of the United States”), all for the entertainment of the viewing crowd.  It is an amazing display of creativity and talent to watch these cartoonists quickly draw some of the funniest things you’ll ever see.  Sergio Aragones is always the highlight of this panel, and this year was no different.  Just a great way to spend an hour or so at the Con.

We then made our way to the DC: A Guide to Your Universe panel.  The best thing about this panel?  Actual announcements!  That’s right – not merely dodging questions, but announcing big news.  EG was thrilled to hear that DC would be bringing the Archie super heroes (you might know them as The Mighty Crusaders) into current continuity, since he still has some of those action figures from his childhood.  Another great announcement was that the Milestone characters would be returning to the DCU proper.  Milestone was a far-too-short-lived imprint with DC comics in the early 90’s.  Perhaps the most successful aspect of the line was Static, which actually became a cartoon called Static Shock.

We also learned that in an upcoming arc in the Superman books, the people of Kandor decide to make Earth their New Krypton, and that something called “The Battle for the Cowl” will be taking place in the Batman books following Batman: R.I.P.

Oh, and it seems that every hero that has ever died is up for grabs for the Black Lanterns in the upcoming “Darkest Night” storyline in the Green Lantern books.

Following that panel, we stayed in the same room for the Grant Morrison and Gerard Way: Born Under a Black Sun panel.  This crowd was different from the others throughout the day.  How so?  Why, it seemed to have a much higher quotient of teenage girls in it.  Seems that Gerard Way, creator of The Umbrella Academy comic is also Gerard Way of the group My Chemical Romance.  (By the way – OG knew this, but EG did not.  Yet another example of how modern society has just passed EG by.)  The description of the panel claimed it would change our lives.

It lied.

It was a fine enough panel, though.  Maybe a little self-important, and it seemed most of the folks in the room had never actually read a comic book.  In fact, the first question from the audience was a guy who said, “Um, yeah, Gerard, I’m a huge fan, but I’ve never read your comic.  What is it about?”

(Note – At that moment, OG had to physically restrain EG from running up and thumping the twerp on the head for coming to something called a “comic” con for entirely the wrong reasons.)

Upon the glorious conclusion of that panel, we went to the Marvel: Secret Invasion panel.  It was delightful to hear Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel comics, ask the audience to not even bother asking about movies, since they had nothing to do with the movie aspects of Marvel.  That’s right, folks – the panel was REALLY going to be about comics.  Sadly, like most of the Marvel panels for the weekend, most of the questions were answered with a standard, “We can’t talk about that just yet.  Keep reading!”

The last panel of the day for us was Marvel: The Ultimate Universe Must Die!  While we don’t regularly pick up anything from the Ultimate Marvel Universe (OG picks up the occassional Ultimate Fantastic Four trade, and EG is picking up the Ultimate Spider-Man trades), curiousity got us in the door.  While there, Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Lost, publicly turned in his last script for the six issue mini-series of Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, which began in December 2005 (only the first two issues have been published thus far).  Basically, it was a barely disguised declaration of, “Hey, any further delays – not MY  fault.”

With the end of the programming day, we made our way to the topper for our wonderful trip to San Diego – seeing a live performance by the Rifftrax crew at the Balboa Theatre, as they tore up a color print of the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space.  If you aren’t familiar with Rifftrax, think Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  In fact, all of those involved with Rifftrax are alums of MST3K.  Prior to the show, Rifftrax versions of theatrical pre-feature entertainment ran, giving fake trivia information and questions.  The best two, in our humble opinion, were:

“Did you know:  Ahmed Best, voice of Jar Jar Binks, died penniless and alone.”

“Did you know:  The CEO of Ticketmaster sleeps on a giant pile of money and drinks the tears of orphans.”

As for the show itself, it was amazing.  We really hadn’t realized how much we missed MST3K, and having piles of new material was amazing.  It was just great to laugh until it hurt.

And, then… it was finished.  We made our way to the Steve Austin-mobile and headed out, tired but completely satisfied with a great Con experience.

There you have it, folks.  Now, on to what most of you probably really stopped here for – the pics!

The official Batman and Wonder Woman of the DC Booth.  You see that Batman costume?  Tell me why they cant try a costume like that in the movies!  It looks great!  Oh, yeah, sure, it offers zero protection against... well, anything, but... cmon!

The official Batman and Wonder Woman of the DC Booth. You see that Batman costume? Tell me why they can't try a costume like that in the movies! It looks great! Oh, yeah, sure, it offers zero protection against... well, anything, but... c'mon!

 

Okay, yeah, sure, there is a woman dressed like Catwoman in this picture, but we really want you all to notice the guy in the kilt behind her.  Outside of Scotland, youll not find more kilts than you do at the Con.  Know what, guys?  Never gonna happen.  We dont care how comfortable you claim these to be, it will never be widely accepted in modern America for a man to walk around in a skirt.

Okay, yeah, sure, there is a woman dressed like Catwoman in this picture, but we really want you all to notice the guy in the kilt behind her. Outside of Scotland, you'll not find more kilts than you do at the Con. Know what, guys? Never gonna happen. We don't care how comfortable you claim these to be, it will never be widely accepted in modern America for a man to walk around in a skirt.

 

Uh... you think she just did that to her head for the sake of the costume?

Uh... you think she just did that to her head for the sake of the costume?

 

You know what?  This costume was just amazingly great, so we wanted everyone to see it.

You know what? This costume was just amazingly great, so we wanted everyone to see it.

 

Little Orphan Annie is Arrowhead Girl!

Little Orphan Annie is Arrowhead Girl!

 

Cobra Commander performing a scene from Hamlet, while the Baroness looks on in boredom.

Cobra Commander performing a scene from Hamlet, while the Baroness looks on in boredom.

 

Yep, killed me three groping fanboys so far.  Its like shooting fish in a barrel here.

"Yep, killed me three groping fanboys so far. It's like shooting fish in a barrel here."

While the male members of Cobra are issued standard uniforms, the females are issued spandex uniforms.  Why?  Because thats the way Cobra Commander wants it.

While the male members of Cobra are issued standard uniforms, the females are issued spandex uniforms. Why? Because that's the way Cobra Commander wants it.

 

... and she stared off into the distance, contemplating why a chicken sandwich should cost $8.00 at the Con.

"... and she stared off into the distance, contemplating why a chicken sandwich should cost $8.00 at the Con."

 

C is for cookie, thats good enough for me, C is for cookie, thats good enough for me, C is for cookie, thats good enough for me, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie starts with C!

C is for cookie, that's good enough for me, C is for cookie, that's good enough for me, C is for cookie, that's good enough for me, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie starts with C!

 

Tin foil Orion helmet?  $2.79.  Spandex pants?  $17.99.  Ipod for a Motherbox?  $249.99.  Being called Forbush Man all day long?  Priceless.

Tin foil Orion helmet? $2.79. Spandex pants? $17.99. Ipod for a Motherbox? $249.99. Being called Forbush Man all day long? Priceless.

 

Plastic Man decides to creep out the rest of the Justice League by showing them his idea of gender bending.

Plastic Man decides to creep out the rest of the Justice League by showing them his idea of "gender bending."

The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.  Did you know I have my very own 6 action figure, perfectly in scale to most of your childrens action figures?

"The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. Did you know I have my very own 6" action figure, perfectly in scale to most of your children's action figures?"

That’s all folks!