Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat is destined to bend
like to think Astonishing X-Men #18
would wrap everything up in a neat little package, wouldn’t
ya? After last issue’s lovely opening summary statement
of “YeahbuhWhat?!”, you really did think it
was time for The Watcher to come in and force a continuity
reset or something.
no, this is the chapter of the story where we deal with
the madness Joss Whedon has wrought. Why did Cyclops shoot
Emma Frost, and how is he going to defeat Cassandra Nova?
Short answer: he’s lost his freaking mind. How will
Beast regain his? Well, being a super genius, he just happened
to leave a memory aid lying around for just such an emergency.
What about Logan? Beer.
the reappearance of Danger and Ord sadly remind us the end
is indeed near. The team still has to deal with the bit
of Cassandra Nova that burrowed into Emma’s mind,
but you can tell this run is coming to a close soon. With
all the plot threads of the last couple years coming together,
the pendulum for Astonishing X-Men swings lower
damn, what a ride it’s been.
fixing mistakes of the past (Colossus) to bravely reaffirming
Grant Morrison’s New X-Men legacy (Cassandra)
to actually being the only people to question the absurd
re-characterizations this franchise makes (White Queen),
this creative team has made every issue worth the price
and every moment worth savoring, one or two puns aside.
don’t need me to tell you to buy Astonishing X-Men.
This is a story that’s already earned a place in the
same hallowed halls as Dark Phoenix: no X-fan will go without
reading it for long.
War #5 comes about three issues and five months
since my last attempt to look at the series, but let’s
not quibble about delays. Has the book turned off old school
fans? Does it still have the high quality production that
makes casual readers and new fans flock to big budget titles?
Is Spidey in-character again?
models himself after Tobey Maguire.
things considered, it looks like a solid “Yes”
to all of the above.
we now have to ask if the trip has been worth it. Do the
“permanent” rifts created between heroes serve
a greater purpose? Will these events resonate through continuity
in years to come? Has the great debate of “Whose side
are you on?” led to any epiphanies?
I give comic fans enough credit that they could’ve
seen these developments coming from a ways off. Is it at
all surprising that Spidey turns on Tony? Are we stunned
that S.H.I.E.L.D. immediately unleashes their amnestied
villains on him the moment he resists?
has some great beats (the death of Goliath last issue, the
appearance of “Skull-face guy” here), but the
flow is choppy and the characters far too shallow. After
all we’ve seen these heroes go through over the years,
it’s hard to believe any but the coldest would support
the needless murder of one of their own. Can we really imagine
Reed Richards and She-Hulk (being of sound mind) are among
stage in the game, Civil War is running out of
chances to salvage itself and the Marvel Universe. The shape
of things to come is looking less like a bold new world
and more like a prologue to World War Hulk. Knowing
Millar, there’s a big twist around the corner, but
it could be drowned out by the same directionless action
that confused Ultimates.
at least they can’t do another “it never really
happened” thing like House of M without chasing
off a legion of fans. For better or worse, these events
are set down in the big book O’ History. Maybe THAT
will provoke some real discussion and change in the Marvel
this issue attempts to add another layer to the conflict,
it really goes to show this bird had too much fat on it
and needed to be trimmed down. As Civil War issues
go, it’s gorgeous and a lot more meaningful than most,
but could just be too little too late.
were ready to call Widescreen Comics dead, you’d better
read Squadron Supreme #7. This
is how you build up to a major battle. This is how you define
a villain. This is how you fill 25 pages with fisticuffs
and leave us pounding the table in frustration that we don’t
get another 25 for a month.
kept up with recent issues, you already know that Redstone
sucker-punched Hyperion because the Chinese wanted to scare
the Americans out of their imperialist activities. We all
knew a showdown was coming. I don’t think anyone considered
how well Redstone would prey upon Hyperion’s greatest
weakness: his compassion.
snaps necks left and right, forcing Hyperion to wrestle
him around. Just when it seems like he’s restrained,
he boils a swimming pool full of people with his heat vision.
Hyperion tries to fly him into the upper atmosphere, and
Redstone reveals that he planted a nuke back on the ground
that needs to get a signal every five minutes to keep it
from wiping Los Angeles off the map.
THAT is a g**damn villain.
John Milius once discussing Conan the Barbarian.
How the key to casting was making sure Conan was going against
guys even bigger than him. That’s what J. Michael
Straczynski and company pull off here. Redstone was a super-powered
psycho before, but now we see the true monster. Wholly without
remorse or empathy, he nonetheless knows just how to bring
Hyperion to his knees.
while JMS gets credit for thinking up such a twisted bastard,
Gary Frank is the one who makes the grand and horrifying
vision come to life. His splash pages are less complicated
than Bryan Hitch’s schedule-busters, but the power
of the compositions sends a charge through you.
The Ultimates ended up toppling Middle Eastern nations before
Squadron Supreme, but they never felt the punishment for
their deeds like this. Squadron Supreme is still a turbulent
story of heroes, anti-heroes, and outright demons in hero’s
clothing, but there is a heart to it. One that the team’s
first real adversary just pulped in his fist.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #36 represents
the point where I can finally brush away any confusion and
say without reservation that they’re completely ripping-off
Jack Kirby’s New Gods. The first issues of
“God of War” had a definite Fourth World flavor
to them, but Fantastic Four was the wellspring of Marvel’s
Cosmic comics. It would hardly be fitting to call them copycats
without giving the creative team a chance to plead their
New Forever Miraculous People Pals.
now that Thanos has been redefined as a Darkseid clone with
Pyx in place of Apokolips and his own Highfather called
Darien on a New Genesis named Halcyon... oy, it almost hurts.
said, the story still works as a cosmic tale, but I think
that owes far more to Pasqual Ferry’s art and Justin
Ponson’s colors than Mike Carey’s script. The
early issues were filled with enough technobabble to keep
me from rushing to judgement of any kind, but it’s
now clear that we’re looking at the same driving force
that made the Adam Strange relaunch work so well.
plot essentially goes no further than reminding us the FF
are stuck on Apokoli– er, Pyx now, and Thanos intends
to turn Reed to his side. There are minor distractions like
Dreamcatcher’s flitting about and the forlorn hope
of keeping Tesseract alive, but what keeps us reading the
issue is the amazing artwork. Ferry’s restraint in
leaving so many lines for the colorist’s use makes
for simply breathtaking images.
have to ask ourselves if the story is really going anywhere,
or if we’re just caught in another storyline that’ll
introduce the Ultimate versions of known character and then
leave them out to rot. Unlike Ultimate Spider-Man
and Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four hasn’t
really built much upon prior storylines. True, the former
books have had the benefit of longer running creative teams,
but it’s gotten to the point where readers must judge
the stories on their immediate merits.
never shows up again, who cares if his arc was a nice intro.?
If Annihilus never threatens to break into our dimension,
did we really need to spend all that time simply learning
that he existed?
that in mind, this Thanos story is both interesting as a
re-creation and ripoff and disappointing as an overly simple
story cluttered up with tech talk and obscure references.
Still a decent read, but not as promising as Mark Millar’s
zombies or Warren Ellis’ Dr. Doom. But as long as
Ferry keeps drawing it, I’ll keep recommending it.
most honest thing I can say about White Tiger
#1 is it’s not terribly disappointing
because I had no hope for it anyways. This relaunch of the
character crawled off of Bendis’ run on Daredevil
and finally got a book just as we’ve forgotten she
was supposed to get one.
immediately start off on the wrong foot when they decide
to take their Puerto Rican F.B.I. agent and make her into
the local Puerto Rican neighborhood defender. She whomps
on some thugs spouting the stereotypical “Mami”
this and “Papi” that, then learns about some
new crime organization moving out onto the streets.
this book takes place before the events of Civil War,
but there are little references to the conflict sprinkled
everywhere, making us wonder why our heroine is bumping
into the red-and-blue Spidey, Iron Fist posing as Daredevil,
and a not at all hush-hush Black Widow when the newspapers
read “House Debates Registration Act”, “No
More Masks for Costumes!”, and “Superhuman Civil
with all that going on, why do they spend so much time convincing
her to wear a costume? Isn’t that the last thing she
should be doing?
at about 30 pages, this story should be loaded with action
or mystery or SOMETHING. Instead, we get the usual retread.
She got her powers in another book, so they need to summarize
it again for new readers. There’s a legacy, old allies,
old villains, etc.
story ends up feeling like a trip to a senior center. Things
are nice and tidy, people sit around and reminisce, and
those of us just arriving want to smile politely and head
right back out the door.
Tiger wasn’t that great of a superhero the first time
around, and this new version is lifeless and dull. She doesn’t
do anything, doesn’t want anything, and, frankly,
we aren’t really bothered by the probability that
she’ll die in a super-powered brawl. We never knew
her in the first place.
Starman or Flash, there just isn’t enough legacy for
us to care about someone new taking the mantle. Unlike Sandman,
the character has nothing unique to make us want to follow
her. In the end, The White Tiger ends up being another poor
sap on the Marvel Z-list who’ll serve as potential
cannon fodder in the next crossover. The series has 5 issues
left to prove me wrong, but I’m betting against this