- Posted by Johanna on July 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm
- Category: Archie Comics, Indy Comic Reviews, Superhero Reviews
X-Men Legacy #269
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: David Baldeon
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Rogue and Ms. Marvel face off as part of the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover, a particularly fraught battle due to their history. (I assume she’s still Ms. Marvel for now. I couldn’t find her name in the issue.) Ms. Marvel wants to talk about the danger the Phoenix Five represent, while Rogue has taken their side in the “war” against the Avengers.
It’s a good conflict, one that helps personalize the big event, with lots of intriguing concepts. For example, is it fair to stop someone based on what could happen? Ms. Marvel’s fears are more hypothetical than actual at this point, although we all know that power corrupts, especially in superhero comics.
What really struck me about this issue, though, is that Gage manages to sum up the difference between the two mega-teams in simple phrases. As Rogue says,
Guess that’s the difference between us and the Avengers. The world already looked pretty good to them. They fought to keep it as it was. We fought to make it better.
And that’s what drives most political debates, right? Whether you feel as though you’re part of the establishment, or left out of it.
I also like Baldeon’s chunky figures, who have good action poses that convey energy while still seeming achievable. It’s refreshing to see a super-comic featuring women where the emphasis is on their power, not butt shots. In this issue, they’re fighting, struggling to come out on top, without posing for the viewer.
Resident Alien #2
Writer: Peter Hogan
Artist: Steve Parkhouse
Dark Horse, $3.50
I can’t really recommend buying this issue, #2 of 3 (not counting the #0 introduction), because at this point, I think you should just get the eventual collection. I like this tale of an extraterrestrial masquerading as town doctor, shanghaied into investigating a murder mystery.
This issue fills in much of the history, of the victims, of the visitor (and how he arrived), and of the nurse, the only person who suspects the doctor isn’t what he seems. Her family — she seeks guidance from her dad — ties the story back to the Southwestern location as well as explaining, a bit, her unique status. He also provides good advice, restraining the American need to do SOMEthing about weirdness, instead counseling acceptance and patience.
The characters and setting are well-delineated, a pleasure to view, with distinctive coloring and personalities, expressed both through voice and visually. There is a bit of fortuitous circumstance, as a patient I don’t recall seeing before gives the doctor the clue he needs to start tying the killings together, but I like the plain-spoken man’s take on how to be healthy: “I eat well, I sleep well, I walk a lot, and I don’t take crap from anyone.”
Angel & Faith #11
Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Rebekah Isaacs
Dark Horse, $2.99
This series keeps surprising me. This issue is part one of a new “Family Reunion” storyline, which means we see several well-known characters reappear to cause trouble. There are three big names here, which I won’t spoil, one of whom is my favorite, one of whom is always a pleasure to see (although I thought he was dead), and one of whom I can’t stand.
I’m not sure how I feel about the structure of this series. The TV show, back when, revolved around “there’s a monster, we must stop it.” This story is more proactive, with Angel trying to do something stupid. It allows for more different types of tales, as there’s an excuse for Faith and Angel to go do something instead of waiting for trouble to come to them, but invariably, we still get the “zompire” battle scenes. It’s a difficult line to walk, too, with readers wanting to know what’s going on with their favorite characters, but at least in my case, I need a series that still works if you remember very little about the details and didn’t read all of Buffy Season 8 or the previous Angel comic series.
So far, this is balancing well. Devoted franchise followers may find some of the discussion here exposition-heavy, as one of the guest stars has her own quest that intersects with Angel’s desires tangentially. I found it helpful to remind us where we’d left things, and it’s leavened with plenty of humor. (I’m quickly becoming a Gage fangirl.) There’s an underlying theme running through the series, too, which is how the lack of any magic in the world is making it a worse place to be. (Except that there are still plenty of residual artifacts and demons and such — it’s not a consistency that bothers me, though, because with absolutely no magic, we’d have about 20% of our cast members.)
This issue is very talky, as much of the premise is set up, and given what they set out to do and where they’re going, I expect it will be balanced out in the rest of the storyline with more action and wild visuals. Isaacs’ characters are nicely done, with enough resemblance to the actors we know, but with the kind of expression lacking in more heavily photo-referenced works. There are lots of feelings on display, as folks reunite and get sad and yell at each other. Very nice hair, too.
Writer: Dan Parent
Penciler: Dan Parent
Inker: Rich Koslowski
The “Archie Marries Valerie” storyline concludes by satirizing the company’s tendency to run these kinds of events. The writer appears to have gotten tired of pairing off Archie and Valerie as a musical family, giving them a prodigal daughter named Star, so eight pages in, Valerie goes walking back down Memory Lane. That’s the magical lamppost that shows characters their potential futures.
Since she (and the reader) are bored of the story they’ve been reading, we start getting glimpses of Archie alternately marrying every other female character in Riverdale — Cheryl Blossom, Sabrina, Josie, Ginger, even Midge and Ethel. None are happy, based on what we see, leading Valerie to disavow planning for the future in terms of relationships. That makes sense for the characters, perpetually stuck as teens, but it’s not so great a message for the readers. It’s also a ridiculously over-the-top “resolution” to this event storyline, running the concept into the ground.
The book ends with (the sadly non-paired) Dilton telling us no one can know the future, so we should “seize the day”. Which leaves Archie and Valerie smooching, a state of affairs I suspect won’t be followed up on until the publisher needs another “ratings boost”. Or maybe they want to see which possible marriage for Archie catches the attention of readers.