The Good, The Bad, The Meh by Alex Correa
All - New X-Men 001 (Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen)
At first I was wary of Bendis taking over the X-Men (or X-universe, since he's taking over their creative direction for the forseeable future) because he usually finds a formula in his team books and sticks to it. Luckily, he is taking a different approach with this book as he furthers the tension between the two existing X-teams by reinforcing the philosophical differences between them. Cyclops' team are being built as these aggressive revolutionaries, whereas Wolverine is leading the passive team of school teachers. Quite the change of pace for the two leaders. It's a neat twist and mostly told through Cyclops' teammates who feel his direction to be a betrayal of everything the currently deceased Charles Xavier stood for, which leads to a strange time travel direction lead by the Beast. Regardless, it's a strong first issue pencilled by the very talented Stuart Immonen at the height of his talent. I'm on board. At least until he decides to include his pet characters from the 70's. Dazzler, here we come.
Batman 14 (Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo)
The much-hyped "Death of the Family" story (a.k.a. the Joker returns) continues and nothing will ever be the same! ...Right? It almost feels as if Stan Lee should be hyping this. First thing that I will get out of the way is that nothing will live up to this hype unless Joker runs roughshod on all the Robins and Robinettes in the Bat-family or if he unmasks Batman. I was hoping for something closer to the latter because what does death matter in comic books anymore? So far, it's a solid story with a several homages to classics like Batman: Year One and Batman: The Man Who Laughs. Snyder is definitely looking to cement his arc as one of the best in recent DC history and he may be on his way in doing so.
Fantastic Four 001 (Matt Fraction & Mark Bagley)
The Fantasic Four isn't a tough sell for me. I love the family dynamic and each character is an icon in their own right. As Marvel's foremost scientific team, there hasn't been much done in this respect as far as their adventures go. They are usually dealing with the latest major crossover, duking it out with jobber super-villains or, most recently in Hickman's run, dealing with something more cosmic in scope. With the brand new direction, Matt Fraction plans to unite the entire family and ship them off planet (off dimension too, might I add) for an entire year. That is the foursome as well as the two kids, Franklin and Valerie, will be going on an adventure for a dark and potentially threatening reason that Mr. Fantastic doesn't want to share. Needless to say, I'm on board for this one. In terms of how Fraction handles the characters, it's a bit heavy-handed but well done, overall. Human Torch as the charismatic celebrity, Thing as the brute with a heart of gold, Invisible Woman as the caring mother and Mister Fantastic as struggling between being a scientist and a family man. Mark Bagley, the seasoned artist does exceptionally, as expected. The FF is at an exciting time in terms of their place in the Marvel Universe and things are only going to get better.
Thor: God of Thunder 001 (Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic)
I've never been a fan of Thor as a superhero. There's just nothing interesting about a legitimate god fighting the Mongoose or the Constrictor (actual character names, by the way). I'll also admit that my head nods quite a bit when Thor stories mostly involve Valhalla politics. This comic book, though, is a different creature entirely. It is split into three parts, highlighting different eras of Thor's life (past, present and future) while tying them together with the mystery of a god slayer. The story is cosmic in scope and exactly what I feel is a proper direction for the Norse god.
The Walking Dead 104 (Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard)
On the television show, Carl is a brooding child looking to get his cherry popped by the farmer's daughter in the next seasons. In the comic series, he is a freaking MANIAC. Notice the capital letters to emphasize just how crazy this one-eyed freak actually is. Calling him a "loose cannon that plays by his own rules" would be putting it lightly. With the main protagonist Rick's sole motivation of keeping his son alive, Carl is making it extremely difficult to do so. This issue makes it exceedingly more difficult. Why do I care? Because Rick is a great character and so is Carl. Kirkman knows what he's doing and it shows with not just this issue, but the change in direction in the television series.
Saga 7 (Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples)
Book of the week. No wait, make that book of the month. There is no stopping B.K.V's talents as a writer. This issue is a testament of his being at the top of his game. As well as a testament to gigantic nutsacks. Don't take my word for it, just read it.
Gambit 005 (James Asmus & Diogenes Neves)
Why? Why does this have to be so bland? The more I try to like it, the more I get these meaningless stories involving meaningless characters starring a meaning... FUL character! He's my childhood favourite! During a time when you were judged solely on who you picked as a favourite character in top television shows, I was already in trouble backing questionable choices like Donatello, Tigra and Brutus the Barber Beefcake (don't ask); so when X-Men: The Animated Series started to take off, I latched on to the one character who had the most flair and charisma, the always stylish Gambit! Yeah, so this was before I was quick to spotting cheesy stereotypes or 90's excess. Even so, I was a Gambit fan and that hasn't changed. 20 years later and here I am, still holding on to the slightest vestige of my childhood in hopes that this series will live up to my memory of how great I believed the character to be. Normal guys have their sports teams, I have this. Shut up.
Personal issues aside, Asmus hasn't done much to garner interest in his Gambit run thus far but that may soon change with the inclusion of the always interesting and entertaining MI:13.
X-Men Legacy 001 (Simon Spurrier & Tan Eng Huat)
Let me just start this off with a petty gripe: Blindfold is the X-Men's version of the Watcher. When major shit is about to go down, that egg-headed goofball just shows up and makes everyone paranoid just by his presence. Blindfold works in the same way. Her powers to see into the future provides the same stale bit of foreshadowing that the Watcher does. I just find it to be a lazy way for a writer to up the stakes in their story. If it's not obvious yet, this happens somewhere near the end of this issue. Blindfold freaks and bleeds from her eyes in a manner that doesn't seep through her blindfold! Pym particle blindfold, maybe?
Alright, I've been on this tangent mostly because I'm not sure what happened in this comic. It was just so bland and uneventful that I couldn't even tell you if it happened in space or on Marvel Comics' Earth. I was thinking about re-reading it for the sake of this review but, no. Journalistic integrity be damned! You just aren't worth it.
I'll say this, though: the cover to this issue, as well as the ones coming out in the next few months, will stand as the best to be seen from the big two this year thanks to Mike Del Mundo. The fragmented mind of Legacy is captured perfectly on the cover with images layered on top of each other from classic artists' renditions of characters like Miller's Wolverine, Lee's Magneto, Kirby's Captain America, and Liefeld's Cable (hey, he was big at the time). This is definitely a covers-run to keep an eye on.
Batman & Robin 14 (Peter J. Tomasi & Pat Gleason)
This was a very strange two parter. What began as this forced zombie story made just for the sake to coincide with Halloween turns into an even stranger tie-in to the entire Joker story. It ends with an oddly tender and out of place father/son moment between Batman and Damian which seems to be there to tease the fact that this may be the last we see of Damian. Odd issue because this team usually knocks it out of the park.
Wolverine & the X-Men 020 (Jason Aaron & Steve Sanders)
For twenty issues, Jason Aaron has done expectionally in terms of the characterization of what was mostly brand new or rarely seen mutants in the X-universe. As far as the futures of Kid Omega, Broo and Kid Gladiator go, I am as emotionally invested as I would be in the characters of the main roster. That said, it has taken away a bit from the over-arching plot which is supposed to deal with the nu-Hellfire Club that consists of evil child geniuses. Right. Well, this issue provides an awkward balance of fleshing out plot points as well as introducing a new character: Shark Girl... Or something. I may have made up that name because it was exactly as goofy as it sounds. It just felt clumsy and maybe it's because it broke the mould of what Aaron has done thus far (not to mention the weird shark mutant who is Brazilian, in case you were wondering). As much as I didn't enjoy it, I'm sure it was just to provide compelling stories to come.