Weekend Shorts: X-Men catchup, part the last

I’m finally done! All it took was forbidding myself from reading another comic until I got through the backlog of X-Men on my shelf. Thank goodness my stack ended exactly at the end of this particular storyline. I can’t imagine what I’d’ve done if I were missing one, or if the last one started a new interesting run. I’ve definitely enjoyed the action-packed adventures of these lady X-Men, but I am frustrated by the sameness of the drawn characters, the threadbare “plot” (as you’ll see soon enough), and the fact that I am obviously supposed to know who all these people are and I just do not. I’ll stick with my tiny-universe comics in the future, thanks. But just in case you were curious how this storyline ends, here are some recaps with super spoilers:

X-Men #9
X-Men #9Deathstrike is on the move with the live sample of Arkea, and I realize that I really have no idea what Arkea is. Probably doesn’t matter. The X-Men, with the reluctant help of Arkea’s brother John Sublime, track Deathstrike & Co. to Dubai, where Arkea has unsurprisingly started taking over bodies, “upgrading” Deathstrike, Typhoid Mary, and Enchantress in unspecified fashions. There’s a cool part where one of the vaguely ethnic X-Men flies through a building at Mach 3, as you do, I guess, but I am most intrigued by the strange underwater army that shows up at the end.

X-Men #10
X-Men #10Oh, hey, turns out Arkea is a virus. And the bad guys all got what they wanted from her (them? it?) even though I didn’t see them asking. Exposition does have its benefits. After the recap, our human missile gets picked up and sent back to work as the X-Men continue trying to hunt Arkea down. Meanwhile, there is a bit of one-way dissent between Deathstrike & Co. and Arkea as the Ana Cortes part of Deathstrike realizes that things have not gone at all according to plan. Then Arkea asks for more backup in the form of yet more people I have never heard of but are apparently super dangerous, and the underwater army turns out to be SUPER HUGE and I am not sure how this showdown is gonna go down.

X-Men #11
X-Men #11Sooooo Ana and Enchantress go rescue some mutant who is somehow being stored as particles in air, which, AWESOME, but also wtf. I really wish I knew who any of these people were. Meanwhile, the X-Men finally figure out that they’re being played, John Sublime talks some shit, and Ana Cortes solves her problems by somehow putting a sword through herself. Then, FINALLY, the epic underwater showdown begins, but it’s mostly just more X-Men I don’t know (except for their names handily printed alongside them) flying around doing… stuff? And then apparently Jubilee is a vampire, which, wait, what? Come on, guys. I am totally unclear how this is going to wrap itself up in one more issue.

X-Men #12
X-Men #12Uh, quickly, apparently. Arkea gets her super dangerous people all resurrected and ready to go, and then the X-Men show up and there is the briefest of standoffs during which Storm is like, hey, we’re here for Arkea, you leave now and we’ll call it a draw. The new ladies are dangerous but not stupid and take the deal, leaving Arkea alone with Karima and Karima’s new toy that will apparently kill Arkea, though we see how that went last time. Then some X-Man or other psychics the giant army to death, or whatever, the end. And that’s all you’re getting from me on this subject EVER AGAIN.

Weekend Shorts: X-Men and Watson and Holmes

It’s comics time! I’m still sloooowly making my way through those back issues of X-Men and I’ve got a new take on my old friend Sherlock Holmes. What are you reading?

X-Men #8, by Brian Wood
X-Men #8Back to these crazy hijinks! There’s a break-in at the Jean Grey School, and one of the vaguely ethnic and also telepathic X-Men chases the intruder down but fails to catch her. Said intruder, our pin-up from last issue, makes off with a box of apparently Everything, including a live sample of our friend Arkea from the first story arc. Turns out our villains are super interested in Arkea and her powers, enough that they’re willing to venture to BFE Norway and team up with some other character I don’t know anything about (Enchantress, apparently a foe of Thor?) to get said powers. Meanwhile, lesbian subplot? I don’t even know. How many more issues until I can quit this thing?

Watson and Holmes, Vol. 1, by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi
Watson and Holmes, Vol. 1I am a sucker for a lot of things Holmes-related, and this modern-day story wherein both Watson and Holmes are black dudes in Harlem seemed like a pretty easy way to up those diverse reading numbers while not having to stray far from my comfort zone. But in a strange turn of events, I found myself a little frustrated when things from the Sherlock canon made their way into the narrative.

That seems unfair, probably, but really it’s a testament to how engaging the story was that every time something Sherlock came into it — Afghanistan, 221B Baker Street, Irregulars, Mycroft the gourmand — I was like, yes, yes, I get it, this is a Sherlock Holmes story. A little detail here and there, sure (I mean, really, where else is Sherlock going to live?), but I think the author could have trusted his characters and us as readers just a little bit more.

In this version, Watson is drawn in by the case of a kidnapped girl and sticks around after solving that one to find the fellows who had held her captive and who subsequently started murdering other people, as you do. There’s the requisite hyper-observation on Holmes’s part, as well as the disdain of of the police (led by Leslie Stroud, what what), but there’s also a surprising amount of gunplay and action sequences. This Holmes puts practice with his theory, and I like that a lot.

I wish it were a super lot, but the clunky references were bad and the penchant for bolding seemingly random words (my absolute least favorite thing in comics) kept it from making that leap. But it’s got a good story and strong characters and I have faith it will hit its stride as the series continues. I will definitely be picking up the next volume when it comes out.

Weekend Shorts: X-Men catchup, some more

I was in my comic shop the other day, and they mentioned that they had been neglecting to order the trade volumes of X-Men for me, and that they would rectify that right away. To which I said, wait guys, I’ve only read like four of the TWELVE single issues I purchased, let’s wait to see if I even like this series before we go ordering more.

The verdict is still out, as I’ve only read a couple more, but let’s talk about those today!

X-Men #5: “Battle of the Atom, Part 3”
X-Men #5I had a feeling something was wrong when I picked this up and couldn’t recall reading “Battle of the Atom” parts 1 and 2. But, you know, whatever, it’s pretty pictures and I’m intrigued. The title page gives some background on what happened already, namely some crazy-pants time-travel including X-Men past, present, and future, and also Jean and Scott are on the run, which is what’s happening in this issue.

Even with all that info, the issue started out rough. Jean is in a mask? Some young hotshot walking Xavier is throwing smug looks around? Yada yada, chasing runaways, runaways run, runaways get caught, runaways escape due to infighting among the chasers.

I’ve already had a lot of trouble with X-Men due to the fact that I am apparently supposed to recognize all X-Men on sight, and this is even worse because the story is crossing through several current X-Men titles, all of them probably read by people with better facial recognition and more experience with the cast than I have. There are all these “reveals” that left me baffled and a lot of things I can tell that I’m missing, I just don’t know what exactly.

But the pictures are really pretty, and the story is actually sufficiently exciting for all the blah blahs I did up there, and I totally wanted to know what happens next. BUT but, of course X-Men #6 is part 7 of this story, because they want me to buy all the things, so I’m going to have to see if they’ve collected this somewhere useful so I can read a whole dang story. Oh, marketing, you vile beast.

X-Men #7: “Muertas, Part One of Six”
X-Men #7I skipped over #6 for the reasons stated above, and I had my fingers crossed that there weren’t going to be any references to that storyline in this issue. If there were, they were subtle, so fantastic! This issue opens up with a few more unlikely boobs than I’d like (the fact that powers that be don’t understand that ladies might be interested in reading an all-ladies X-Men is another beef I have with this series), but it also opens up with a long and useful introduction to our new villain, Lady Deathstrike, who seems pretty badass so let’s do this!

Speaking of facial recognition, immediately after we meet Lady Deathstrike, she shows up at the Jean Grey School and I was like, oh, intriguing, is she some kind of double agent mutant with another mutant’s consciousness inside her that is nuts! And then it turns out that this particular large-boobed, vaguely ethnic, long-black-haired woman has her hair parted on the other side and is therefore a completely different person called Monet. At least I can tell them apart from Karima (whose long black hair is longer than theirs), because Karima is the focus of this story.

In the first storyline of this series Karima was, like, in a coma or something? And then she got possessed by a technology demon because she has tech in her? Or something? Anyway, now it seems that possession has been good to her, because she’s no longer comatose and also is returning to her normal not-an-X-man state, except Lady Deathstrike does not know that and is coming to get her for her precious precious technology. Good thing she doesn’t know about Monet, who is apparently equally badass.

This series is killing me. I love that there are lots of these badass ladies, so many that “calling in muscle” still does not involve dudes. I love that these ladies are strong in different ways, but I don’t love that I can’t tell many of them apart to save my life. And I can’t stand the cheesecake, including the last page of this comic that primarily shows a woman wearing half a pair of pants (the right half [no, really]) and some kind of rib-breaking corset. At least these lady heroes wear sensible shoes. Maybe someday one will get on the burkini train.

How about y’all? What are you reading this weekend?

Weekend Shorts: X-Men #3 and #4

A super-quick update on my seemingly never-ending quest to get through my single issue comics. What are y’all reading this weekend?

X-Men #3: “Primer” Part 3 of 3
X-Men 3Well, I guess we’ve wrapped up the Arkea of the Borg storyline here, but there are certainly many questions left to be answered. In this installment, that ticking time bomb from last time fails to explode, but the X-Men hanging around the school are preeetty sure it did something super dangerous so they teleport it through space. As you do. I’m sure that’s going to come back later. The other group of X-Men has flown to Budapest, where this story began, to hunt down Arkea/Karima, and that part’s actually kind of boring so we’ll just go back to the school and oh, hey, giant explosion. I’m still feeling a little lost with the seven dozen or so characters who keep introducing themselves, one of whom is apparently named Bling which I just can’t even, but keep the very expensive kabooms coming and I’ll stick around a while.

X-Men #4
X-Men 4…She said, jinxing herself for the next issue. No kabooms here, at least not that we see, although our flying X-Men find themselves rescuing a passenger plane with a dead engine when forest fires take the local airfields offline. Anyway, there’s cool psychic ability stuff and Rogue borrows powers and Storm executes a dive I swear I just saw in Agents of SHIELD not long ago but it’s still awesome. Not sure what’s up with the plane and the fires, but maybe we’ll get to find out? Meanwhile, Jubilee and her stolen/adopted baby and Logan hang out in SoCal because reasons and Logan buys Jubilee’s childhood home. Fun?

Weekend Shorts: X-Men, Rocket Girl, and Lemony Snicket

Well, it happened. My pile of single-issue comics got so overwhelming that I begged my comic shop to sell me the trades instead. It was a good experiment, but clearly I need a giant paperback book staring me in the face rather than a pile of itty-bitty issues.

I’ve still got that pile, though, so I’ll see if the potential for giant stacks of trades gives me more incentive to read the single issues?

And, because I only managed to read two issues since last time, I’ll throw in a recently-read kids book that was delightful but not really meant for discussing at length. Let’s go!

X-Men #2
X-Men 2I read the first issue of this new series almost ten months ago (criminy) and I liked it a lot — lady X-Men kicking butt? I’m in! In this issue, there’s a lot of butt-kicking but unfortunately for the X-Men it’s mostly by this chick (chicks?) called Arkea who is the sister of the creepy dude from last time and is also inhabiting the body of an X-lady I don’t know and using it to take over the school. As you do. There’s some exposition about how she inhabits technology and downloads information to herself, and there’s lots of fighting and the school gets locked down and then at the very end there’s a timer that is like three seconds from going off and that is probably not good. Apparently this storyline is going to be wrapped up nice and neat after the next issue, which seems… unlikely… but then again I’m used to The Unwritten and its disdain for closure.

Rocket Girl #1: “Times Squared”
Rocket Girl 1While I’m liking X-Men and its gang of heroes saving the world against… things… I have to say that Rocket Girl may be more of what I am looking for in a new comic. For one, I don’t feel like I’m missing something every time I don’t know a character. For two, the story is nice and specific from the beginning: our hero, 15-year-old Dayoung Johansson, is a cop from the future 2013 sent back to the present 1986 to stop a company from inventing time-travel and becoming a Goliath-like corporation in the future world of flying cars and stuff. Wait, is this girl the reason I don’t have a flying car? Maybe I’m not rooting for her anymore… Anyway, in this issue she comes back in time and blows up the time machine thing and goes off to be a cop to the consternation of actual 1986 cops who do not have rocket boots and are therefore just jealous, and I am really excited to see what she does next. Preeeeetty sure I’ve got the next issue around here somewhere…

When Did You See Her Last?, by Lemony Snicket
When Did You See Her Last?I read the first book in this series about four months ago and loved it, so of course I had another branch send over the second practically right away, and also of course it languished on my desk until I realized that I couldn’t tell other people to read it if I continued to have it checked out. This book continues the story of young Mr. Snicket, working with a terrible chaperone to solve strange mysteries. This time the mystery is the disappearance of an ink heiress, and it involves stolen notes, impersonation, forced labor, a creepy hospital, and all of the awesome (and differently awesome) townspeople from the first book. I loved the characters and I thought the story was delightful and if you’re a Snicket fan this series is a must-read. If you’re not a Snicket fan, I don’t understand.

What quick reads have you been reading quickly lately?

Weekend Shorts: Wool #2 and X-Men #1

Short stories! Possibly not-so-short reactions to them! Happy Sunday, everyone!

Wool #2: Proper Gauge, by Hugh Howey
Wool #2You may remember that I read the first Wool story a month ago and was like OMGOMGOMG. I still feel that way about that story, and if you haven’t read it I demand that you go do it now. I’ll wait.

After reading that amazing story, I knew I was in trouble for the sequels. So I waited patiently, attempting to forget the details of the first story and calm my pants down in general, all the while reminding myself that this next story would be the beginning of a series rather than a standalone and that it would be different in many ways and so let’s maybe lower that expectations bar, okay?

It worked! Proper Gauge is very definitely a different story than the original, but I found it an excellent scene-setting and tension-building story, and I am glad that I got the omnibus from the library so I can go read the rest of the stories as soon as I finish writing about this one.

In this story, the events of the original have just happened and it’s time for the mayor to appoint a new sheriff. The deputy doesn’t want the job, but has someone in mind — a no-nonsense mechanic who lives at the bottom of this strange silo world. The mayor uses this nomination as an excuse to get out of her top-floor office and go see the world some, but as she and her deputy friend walk the many many stairs down to see this mechanic, they find out that a) she might not really want the job and b) others might not really want her in it.

It’s not, like, super exciting, but as the mayor heads down into the deeps we find out more about this weird silo business and how it works and how people interact and this is all stuff I was curious about after reading the first story so I declare it a good thing. The main plot details are pretty predictable (as are the knitting puns and the casual but hopefully not continual sexism) but I liked the way Howey made them happen. I am excited to see where this goes next!

Rating: 7/10

X-Men #1: Primer, Part 1 of 3, by Brian Wood
X-Men 1So even though I got into this comic kick with The Unwritten, this issue is actually my very first single-issue comic experience. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little shocked at how short these issues actually are! And now I have to wait a month for the next one! Disappointment, I have you.

I picked this up just yesterday, actually, and couldn’t wait to read it. I’ve always liked the idea of the X-Men, and have watched some movies and cartoons here and there, and when I found out that this new series would have a cast full of lady X-Men, I was like, well, you can have my money for at least this first issue.

And probably the next one, let’s be honest. This story starts off with some bacteria hanging out in the nothing before the something, and one kicks the other out of… whereever… into the somewhere else… anyway, not super important, basically there’s a dude and a chick and they’re siblings and the chick is set on revenge. Meanwhile, Jubilee is bringing a baby home from Bulgaria (as you do), and is also being followed by some creepy dude, and so she calls to let the other X-Men know about this and then Storm, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde come out to extricate Jubilee from a moving train. As you do.

That’s, I mean, that’s basically it, except for the reveals about who the mysterious people are, but hey, there’s a train! And it’s moving! Oh, and at some point it jumps track so it can be on a collision course with another train! So basically I am totally happy. Two thumbs up!

Rating: 7/10