Posts Tagged ‘X’

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

Preview Review – She-Hulk #31

May 22, 2008

Greetings Earthlings!  It is time once again for another Preview Review, wherein I find the unlettered preview pages offered online for an upcoming comic (that I really have no intention of buying), and write a review of the issue based entirely on my perceptions of what is going on.
Today, we look at She-Hulk #31, from Peter David (writer) and Vincenzo Cucca and Barbara Ciardo (artists), with a cover by Mike Deodato.
So, how about that Deodato cover?
Photobucket 
Background?  Who needs a background?!?  Give me a big blank space any day!  Why, all that extra “art” would only serve to detract from the focal point of this cover, which is She-Hulk swinging from that “L” above a group of her adoring fans.
(Maybe you didn’t know, but in the Marvel Universe, Shulkie is, like, more popular than the Beatles.  Its true!)
Oh, and look!  Her fans all have green skin, pointy ears, and chin lines!  Gotta be Skrulls.  I can only take that to mean that this is yet another comic trapped in the vortex of Marvel’s massively oppressive event, Secret Invasion.
You know, it makes sense that Shulkie would have a lot of Skrull guys as fans.  I mean, think about it.  You are a young Skrull guy, and while there may be a lot of attractive Skrull gals out there, they all have the same problem:  chin lines that give off an awfully “goatee”-esque vibe.  Not exactly the most appealing feature.
Enter Shulkie, with that green skin and smooth chin.  Yeah, boy!  Sure, her ears aren’t pointy, but no one is perfect.
Hey!  I just realized who her fans are impersonating!  That’s Jaime Madrox (Multiple Man), from X-Factor!  (Ha!  See, I don’t ALWAYS have to be told who characters are!)  On a side note, X-Factor is the only X-Book I read… and if this means that this event is going to mess that up, I’ll not be pleased.  Anyway, moving on.

Ooh, this preview, along with the cover and interior pages, also included a pin-up!  Shall we take a look?
Photobucket 
By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!  Shulkie’s all manga-ized!  Oh, great.  That probably means that She-Hulk’s new costume will be that of an Asian schoolgirl, she’ll pick up some tiny, overly cute mythical creature as a companion, and before long, she’ll be piloting some giant robot into battle.  Oh, and readers will be forced to read her book from right to left instead of left to right.
What is going on in that picture anyway?  Shulkie is just standing there, all posed, while cars seem to be flying apart behind her.  (Alas, I am vexed.  Should I lower myself to enter here the obvious flatulation joke?  Or should I rise above?)
I suppose Shulkie made a “run for the border” for lunch!
(Come on!  You knew it was coming.)
Alright, let’s check out the first interior page:
Photobucket 
Well, it looks like Shulkie is running toward some arthritic woman.  There’s a lesson for you kids – don’t crack your knuckles, or your hands will end up like that.
Bypassing another obvious gastrointestinal joke, did Shulkie recently get some sort of uncontrollable speed powers?  Look at that path of destruction in her wake!
Next page, please:
Photobucket 
Okay, so the arthritic woman can fly.  She easily dodges the brute force, run-straight-at-her attack from Shulkie.  She-Hulk looks up at her, mouth open.  Arthritic Flying Girl crosses her arms all smug like, as if to say, “What, are you going to ‘scream’ me down?!?”
Suddenly, Arthritic Flying Girl is hit by… wait… is that She-Hulk’s spit?  Open mouth, blast of liquid flying through the air… ew.  Well, I suppose if its in your arsenal you can use it.
Still… ew.
Let’s move onto the next page and hope for less saliva.
Photobucket 
Okay, so Arthritic Flying Girl realizes that she can… you know… “fly”… and gets out of the path of the flying drool.  And then we find out – oh, it wasn’t spit!  Shulkie just destroyed a fire hydrant.  Now, that makes me feel better.  In fact, it relieves me so much I won’t mention A.) the lack of background in this panel, and B.) the bizarre placement of the fire hydrant to Shulkie’s crotch.
Arthritic Flying Girl is ticked at Shulkie.  She’s got on her mean face and everything.  She flings herself at She-Hulk!  And, finally, what we all wait for in any manga/anime project – speedlines!
Wow, those little arthritic fists must be powerful.  I woulda thunk She-Hulk could take a punch from a girl that looks to be a third of her size.
On to the next page!
Photobucket 
Ah, there we go.  Using the forward momentum of Arthritic Flying Girl and… the top panel line from the panel below as a fulcrum, She-Hulk flings her assailant into a car.
Poised to finish off Arthritic Flying Girl, Shulkie is distracted by an eclipse of the sun, which she stupidly turns around to look at.  Didn’t anyone ever tell her that she would burn her retinas out doing that?
Let’s see if she learned that lesson on the next page:
Photobucket 
Oh, luckily, Strong Guy showed up to stop her from looking into the eclipse.  (Yeah, that’s right – Strong Guy.  That’s his super-hero name.  It was the early 1990’s, okay?  Creativity was reduced to slapping pouches onto costumes, issuing heroes leather jackets, and giving them all mullets and a five-o’clock shadow.  So Guido… *sigh* yes, again, that is his real name… ended up with the moniker Strong Guy.  I suppose it could’ve been worse.  They could have gone with “White Ponytail And Creepy Goggle Guy.”)
It does seem that Strong Guy was a little overzealous in averting Shulkie’s eyes from the blinding powers of the eclipse.  He did so with enough gusto to not only crack the pavement, but to also create his own speedlines.
I wonder if She-Hulk will understand he was just too enthusiastic.  Let’s take a look at the last page to find out:
Photobucket 
Oh… well, she appears to be okay with it, just laying there in the rubble, smiling.
In the next panel, Strong Guy doesn’t look too happy.  Oh, maybe Shulkie didn’t say thank you.  That’s probably it.  I mean, he did save her vision… seems that would warrant a little grati–!!!
Great Shades of America’s Funniest Home Videos!!!  Holy cow… I guess She-Hulk didn’t take kindly to the excessive helpfulness of Strong Guy.  Man… he is NOT going to be walking away from that anytime soon.  A guy doesn’t recover from a shot like that very quickly.  What with the pain, the nausea, the headache, the seeing-stars, and the crying… I figure Strong Guy is down for a good hour, and walking delicately home after that.
What have we learned today?  She-Hulk may be fast enough that the vacuum that trails behind her is devastating, causing millions of dollars worth of damage, but she doesn’t have any sort of super-spit abilities… that we know of.  Also, it is good to be helpful, but being too helpful can result in having ice your crotch for a while.
I give this comic 116,204 stars out of 197,385.  I liked the art despite the fact that the artists felt the need to include those pesky “backgrounds” in so many of the panels.
EG Out!