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Comic Reviews: Astonishing X-Men and Nightwing!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!! 

Astonishing_X-Men_1_Cover.jpgAstonishing X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)

Not content with just two X-Men series for ResurrXion (three if you count Weapon X), Marvel’s putting out a brand new edition of Astonishing X-Men, the series that achieved instant classic status thanks to Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, only to then be watered down by Marvel trying everything and anything to make that magic work again. This time though, they’ve tasked Charles Soule, the writer of about 15 other comics (give or take) with coming up with new adventures for the team of mutants, and are pairing Soule with a different artist each issue, which is kind of brilliant when you think about how inconsistent Marvel is with keeping artists on a series. With Jim Cheung as the first artist on deck, there’s a lot of hype around this new version of Astonishing, and while it doesn’t live up to it, there’s still great potential for this series.

While walking around London, Psylocke is attacked by the Shadow King. Desperate for help, she sends out a psychic distress call to members of the X-Men that she’s worked with in the past, which conveniently gives us the team you see on the cover. After helping Psylocke subdue the carnage around her and regain her control, she realizes that Shadow King has not only grown in power, but is attempting to create a “web” of psychics that he can use to completely overtake the planet. With this new team assembled, the X-Men prepare to jump into the Astral Plane to take on Shadow King.

While Charles Soule’s script is a lot of set up, the one thing where Astonishing shines is characterization. Often times writers have trouble writing the X-Men simply because it’s such a large team. With so many characters, there’s bound to be some that either don’t sound like they should or are completely written out of the series. But with Astonishing’s opening issue, every character gets a moment to shine in some pretty great introductory pages. Soule is able to give succinct back stories for the characters on this team, and even teases at adventures that are going on just prior to this series that I really want to see (especially Gambit and Fantomex).

If you’re going to open a series with an excellent artist, you could do no better than Jim Cheung. Cheung’s style is expertly utilized here, and he sets the bar extremely high for the next artist. The devastation in London is drawn incredibly, and Cheung’s even able to nail some pretty intricate emotions and facial ticks on the characters. There’s a few odd panels here and there (Fantomex’s arms look a little thin at times), but I pity the artist who has to jump in on issue two.  These are quite the shoes to fill.

Astonishing X-Men may not leave the same impression as the Whedon and Cassaday run that came before it, but it’s still a solid set up issue that actually serves as a pretty good jumping on point for new and lapsed X-fans. Soule has crafted a really interesting team filled with dynamic personalities. Really the only thing that has me worried is the different artists for each issue gimmick that Marvel is putting out on this series. If done poorly, it could give the series an identity crisis. But for now, this issue was pretty damn great, and worth a read for X-Men fans.

 

 

Nightwing #25 (DC Comics) NTW_Cv25_ds.indd

While Batman has been fighting Bane and proposing to Catwoman, Dick Grayson has been building a nice life for himself in Bludhaven. He’s got a new girlfriend, some sweet job prospects, and things seem to be settling down for him. Until this issue, where Tim Seeley and Minkyu Jung really put ol’ Dick through the wringer. As the finale for the “Blockbuster” story arc, Nightwing #25 uses its extra pages to really bring in the emotional gut punches and set up some pretty interesting ideas for future issues.

Tim Seeley’s storylines for the past few months have involved Dick Grayson trying to come to terms with if he wants to be Nightwing for the rest of his life. After settling in with his girlfriend, he seems like he’s ready to put it all behind him, but all that changes in this issue, as old foe Blockbuster (who’s actually the brother of the original Blockbuster) pushes Dick to the brink. Surrounded by enemies on a boat with a ticking time bomb, Nightwing seemingly has no choice but to let the bad guys blow up. Or does he?

Seeley’s script wraps up this cliffhanger from last month fairly quickly, but he makes up for it with a surprisingly emotional element that comes later in the issue and a pretty cool spin on what Dick Grayson will be doing for employment in the upcoming months to come. By putting a focus on the personal side of Nightwing, he’s really invigorated this series and made the character a lot more personal. Dick Grayson is struggling with growing up, and as he watches his friends grow and change, he wonders if it’s time for him to do the same.

Minkyu Jung does a great a job of fitting in with the typical “Nightwing style” that fans will come to expect. While he doesn’t do anything that really makes his art stick out, that’s clearly what DC is going for with a lot of their DC Rebirth titles. There are plenty of excellent action and fight scenes, but like Seeley’s emotional beats, the real surprise here is the quieter moments. Jung‘s pages are able to bring the emotions in Seeley’s script out even more with some stunning and stark pages by the issue’s end.

Nightwing has a been a series that’s been flying under the radar since Dick Grayson returned to his costumed ways, but it’s been a very solid and fun superhero book since the first issue. While this issue probably isn’t the best one to jump onto, all signs are pointing towards issue 26 being a pretty interesting place to check in on the first Robin. Honestly there couldn’t be a better time to check this character out.

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Comic Reviews: Cable and Saga!

COMIC REVIEWS!

Cable_1_Cover-195x300Cable #1 (Marvel Comics)

From leader of X-Force, to raising the last hope for mutants, to even being an Avenger, Nathan Summers has gone through a lot of changes since he first hit the scene back in the 80’s. But that doesn’t mean he’s not immune to the “RessurXion” mini launch that Marvel is putting all of their X-Men titles through. While Cable has never been a character I’ve actively collected and read, the latest series from James Robinson and Carlos Pacheco looks to be changing that. Read the rest of this entry

Comic Reviews: X-Men Blue and Justice League of America!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

X-Men_Blue_1_CoverX-Men Blue #1 (Marvel Comics)

Last week was the first issue of X-Men Gold. The week before that was X-Men Prime. So naturally, this week we’re taking a look at X-Men Blue, the other flagship X-Men title in the new RessurXion publishing event at Marvel. While X-Men Gold had the focus on classic X-Men members like Kitty Pryde, Colossus, and Nightcrawler, Blue is focusing on the younger, time-displaced original X-Men, who are now under the tutelage of Magneto. This twist is what initially had me interested in this series, and after reading the book, it’s clear to see that this will be the driving force behind Cullen Bunn and Jorge Molina’s new series. Read the rest of this entry

Comic Reviews: X-Men Gold and Batman!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

indexX-Men Gold #1 (Marvel Comics)

At long last, the X-Men have returned to their rightful place as a premiere Marvel team. Our first look at the new “ResurrXion” direction of the X-Men was glimpsed in the X-Men Prime special last week, but now we’ve got the official start of X-Men Gold, the team that features long time favorites like Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Kitty Pryde, and Old Man Logan. Gold is being set up as the flagship book for the X-Men going forward, and writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Ardian Syaf definitely have a clear vision for the mutants going forward, one that’s more in the super hero mode than recent takes on the characters. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Talk About X, Baby

legionYes, this is another column about Logan. But more specifically, it’s about the impact that Logan, Deadpool, and FX’s Legion show have had on the X-Men franchise at Fox. All three of these properties are wildly different, but they share three things: they’re entertaining, have a very clear vision, and are completely different from any other X-Men product Fox has produced.  In an entertainment world that has valued the idea of “shared universes”, you would think that this strategy would work counter for the studio, but I honestly thing it’s emboldened them to try new things, and maybe even show Fox that there’s no need for the X-Men movies to try and copy what Marvel and Warner Bros are doing.  Read the rest of this entry

Movie Review: Logan!

logan_2017_posterLogan (2017)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrooke

Directed by: James Mangold

MINOR SPOILERS

Very few times we get a comic book movie that not only defines the genre, it elevates it to a whole other level. The Dark Knight did this, as did The Avengers (and some could say Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy, or really any Marvel Studios major release). Well, we can now add another film to that list, because I can honestly say that Logan, the final film to star Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, is one of those films. It’s somber and hopeful, as well as violent and heartfelt. For a final bow, Jackman and director James Mangold pulled out all the stops, and crafted a film that doesn’t feel like anything else in the stable of X-Men films by Fox. Read the rest of this entry

A New World, A New Logan

landscape-1484835387-screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-141255One of my most anticipated movies of 2017 is Logan. The last movie featuring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine truly looks like it could be the type of Superhero movie that elevates the genre, like The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, and The Avengers have done. It has a very unique mood and tone judging by the trailers, and in all honesty, I think it could even get nominated for some awards when the time comes.

However, there is one weird thing that sticks out with Logan, and it has to do with the ever-changing timeline of Fox’s franchise. Read the rest of this entry

Gold and Blue Team Assemble!

resurrxion-group-teaseLike most Marvel press releases, we now know the fallout of their next big event before it even began. Yes, the events of Inhumans vs. X-Men will lead to “RessurXion”, which will feature the return of the Gold and Blue teams of X-Men that were made popular in the 90’s. Until now we didn’t know who was going to be a part of these teams or the creative teams involved, but now we finally have an idea (and it probably hasn’t spoiled Inhumans vs. X-Men at all-not). Read the rest of this entry

Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

462-film-page-largeX-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner

Directed by: Bryan Singer

SPOILERS

My overall anticipation for X-Men: Apocalypse has been pretty muted. Despite being a big fan of X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from the promotional materials that I have seen for Bryan Singer’s latest X-opus. Perhaps it’s because Batman V Superman and Captain America: Civil War were the bigger comic book movies of the year, or maybe it’s because of the Ivan Ooze-ness of the first picture of Apocalypse, but something just wasn’t clicking for me. To borrow a phrase from another Marvel franchise, my “spider-sense was tingling”. Regardless, I’m a huge fan of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy’s takes on Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier, so I went into this movie knowing that at least part of my ticket purchase was going towards them. Read the rest of this entry

Comic Reviews: X-Men ’92 and Batman & Robin: Eternal!

XMEN922015001_CVR_color_FINALX-Men ’92 #1 (Marvel Comics)

The 90’s X-Men cartoon holds a special place in my heart. It was one of my first introductions to the X-Men and their place in the Marvel universe. The Secret Wars miniseries from the summer was a pretty big success, so it’s not surprising that Marvel would expand upon it with a new ongoing series. What is surprising is that I found this starting issue from Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Alti Firmansyah to be much more entertaining the opening issue of the previous mini series. Read the rest of this entry