Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Comics – Week of July 28, 2010

By Paul Steven Brown

This week Cultural Wormhole takes a look at Action Comics #891, Uncanny X-Men #526, and X-Men: Legacy #238.

Action Comics #891

Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Pete Woods & Cafu
Published by DC Comics

It’s official: I’m completely sold on this book. This issue has Lex Luthor in a battle of wills with Mister Mind, that little telepathic caterpillar that used to fight Captain Marvel all the time. God, this is a fun book. Also, Pete Woods sells everything swimmingly with those fantastic facial expressions.

Amid all the wacky dream sequences, writer Paul Cornell paints an interesting picture of Lex’s own self-perception. Also, the use of a robotic Lois Lane as a sounding board is frankly ingenious. This allows Lex to monologue to someone and not the air. Plus, she’s pretty damn funny in her own right and there’s something strangely perverted about Luthor having an automaton in the form of his greatest enemy’s one true love.

I’m adding Action Comics to my current list of “superhero comic book series for people who don’t necessarily like superhero comic books”. Trust me; pick up this book as well as Invincible Iron Man and The Flash. All are showcasing the best of what this genre can be.

Uncanny X-Men #526

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Whilce Portacio
Published by Marvel Comics

It looks like Uncanny X-Men will be the new home of the mutant messiah, Hope Summers. That is until the newly announced Generation Hope series hits the stands later this year. Matt Fraction doesn’t waste anytime and fills in a large gap in Hope’s origin by revealing her real family in Cooperstown, Alaska. The results are really touching and Hope continues to grow into a more fascinating character than I would have ever expected.

We also get to meet the first of “The Five Lights”, which is also the name of this new arc. It is quickly established that these five new mutants are a bit different than those who received their powers before M-Day. The idea of the mutant race taking its own evolutionary leap is pretty cool, as long as it doesn’t get completely out of control and we’re overrun by mutants as in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. The concept was interesting, but it completely diluted the concept of being a tiny minority in a human dominated world.

This issue also includes a back-up story by Young Avengers and Avengers: The Children’s Crusade writer Allen Heinberg. He does a wonderful job of providing a natural feeling epilogue to ‘Second Coming’ while also plugging his own series. It works and his handling of Magneto is superb. If it weren’t for his constant delays, I wouldn’t mind seeing Heinberg writing more X-Men stories.

X-Men: Legacy #238

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Clay Mann w/ Jay Leisten
Published by Marvel Comics

I hope that all of the crossovers are over for a while and that this issue is the first of long, uninterrupted string of stories. Mike Carey is a trooper and has always been able to adjust this series to the demands of his editors, but I really love his X-Men work and I want him to have the opportunity to provide us with a nice, long narrative. Since X-Men: Legacy became “Rogue’s Book” last year; it has only had four issues and an annual that really felt like they belonged solely to this series concept. The rest have been tie-ins to ‘Utopia’, ‘Necrosha’, and ‘Second Coming’.

Carey finally gets to really sink his teeth into the “Rogue as Mutant Guidance Counselor” concept, as well as providing some panel time for the oft forgotten New X-Men. The story centers on Rogue taking Indra back home to India, with his old Alpha Squadron mates, Anole and Loa, along for the ride. They’re also accompanied by Magneto, who wants to investigate a magnetic anomaly. Being the former headmaster of Xavier’s School when the New Mutants were students way back in the late ‘80s, it seems perfectly suitable for Magneto to be part of this book and interacting with the students. I’ve always liked this more complicated Magnus, compared to the cackling villain that he was reverted back to after Chris Claremont stopped writing Uncanny X-Men two decades ago.

Clay Mann is providing the pencils and I couldn’t be happier about it. While I really don’t care for Rogue’s short shorts (c’mon, she’s a teacher now), I do like the way he draws his figures, particularly the women. They certainly look physically fit, but they don’t look impossibly rail thin. They actually have waists that don’t look constricted by invisible corsets.

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