The fact that this volume exists at all is a little surprising to me. “Necrosha” was an “X-Force” storyline blown up to crossover size as one of their villains, the psychic vampire Selene, got her hands on the techno-organic virus and used it to bring back a host of undead mutants to make like “Pinky and The Brain” and try to take over the world. I never got into “X-Force” because it had a “takes itself so seriously that you can’t take it seriously at all” vibe to it. Plus, in the wake of “Blackest Night” this whole mini-event felt too familiar for its own good. However, Marvel has never been a company to find a new way to wring money out of its fanbase, so now we’ve got a collection of the “Necrosha” tie-in issues (plus one!) for people like me who liked Mike Carey’s work on “Legacy,” but didn’t want to buy a giant collection to get it.
The story itself, “Earth, Give Up Your Dead,” is nothing special, but it’s still pleasingly familiar. It’s another take on the familiar superhero trope of setting up an invincible enemy -- in this case, reality-altering X-Men foe Proteus -- then having him tear through the heroes before they get their second wind and find a way to triumph. Yes, it’s three issues made up mostly of fighting, but Carey sells the danger well, finds some creative uses for his characters’ powers and gets in some nice character moments with Rogue (of course) and Blindfold at the end. The last story is a decent one-off as Rogue takes on a portion of the Stepford Cuckoos’ power and gets more than she bargained for as she becomes privy to the random thoughts of pretty much everyone on Utopia. If you’re like me and have enjoyed Carey’s run the title and hate to have a gap in your collection, then this is for you. For everyone else, it’s eminently skippable.
This is a series that has been on the cusp of greatness a few times over the past year. Protagonist Kei Kurono’s efforts to save his girlfriend back in vol. 15 and his release from the game and the repercussions of that act in vol. 19 were handled really well. Unfortunately creator Hiroya Oku hasn’t been able to follow through with the fallout from these actions in a logical manner, having Kei continue to work with the teammates who killed his girlfriend as if nothing had happened as one example, and it has become harder to get fully invested in the series as a result. At least the action has remained consistently exciting throughout. These two volumes represent a major turning point in the series with regards to its group dynamics, but I’m not convinced that it’s going to be for the best. (Spoilers for Kei’s fate in the two paragraphs after the break...)
It’s not Steve Jobs’ plan to resume his duties as Apple CEO after his death, but a Vertigo series that launched over a year back from writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred. I’m borrowing the first three volumes from a friend of mine who really likes it. The reason I haven’t picked it up myself is that the word on this series has been “alright” more than anything else. Reading this first volume for myself, it’s easy to see why that’s the case.
(Now that normal service has been resumed...)
Spoilers for last Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead” come after the break. In case you haven’t watched it yet: SOMEBODY DIED! Much sooner than they did in the comic too.
We're breaking the fourth wall today courtesy of "No Longer Human," "Animal Man," and "The Unwritten."
Those of you expecting any kind of a pause, or some time to explore the new status quo of the Fantastic Four in the wake of Johnny Storm’s death are in for a surprise here. This first volume of “FF,” “Future Foundation” in actuality, picks up right where the last volume in writer Jonathan Hickman’s run left off. Spider-Man is now a part of the team, with Johnny’s blessing being given via a holographic will, and after a brief meet-and-greet to re-establish the cast things hit the ground running. This volume starts small at first with Dr. Doom showing up so that Valeria can make good on her promise to fix his brain. I say this is “small” in comparison to the fact that the team is going to need not only his help, but the help of pretty much every major villain of the Fantastic Four to defeat the small group of Reed Richards who escaped the Council’s destruction at the hands of the Celestials. They’re not out to destroy the Earth, but they have few compunctions about breaking a few things in the process of returning to their former glory.
In short, it’s the usual mix of big ideas and human drama that has characterized Hickman’s run so far. Though characterization has been a weak point in his creator-owned series, he proves to be adept at working with what’s been established regarding these characters over the years and finding new ground to tread with them. The art is also better in this volume as Steve Epting isn’t really called on to deliver anything awe-inspiring, and so remains in his comfort zone of drawing characters in quasi-realistic settings. Barry Kitson handles the last two issues and his thinner, less shadowy style is a better all-around fit for the series. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of him in the next volume as this one ends right as things are ramping up and getting really good.
Alright, Matt Fraction deserves to have his copy of “Oldboy” taken away for this. Where that movie’s unforgettable climax took what could’ve been an unsatisfying plot twist and turned its utter demolition of the protagonist’s character into something so far removed from conventional expectations that I had to respect it, the main story in this volume just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Briefly: Doctor Octopus is dying and before he dies, he wants to prove the superiority of his intellect and character to Tony Stark by presenting him with an “unfixable” problem. Doc Ock wants Tony to cure him and even if you can get past the illogicness of that situation, even with Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca’s considerable talents, the climax not only serves to utterly humiliate Stark and devalue his character, it still pales in comparison to how Brian Michael Bendis did pretty much the same thing in his first volume of “Avengers.”
This was an odd volume. As its title implies, this collection of Mike Carey-written stories picks up on the heels of not one, but TWO crossovers, “Second Coming” and “Age of X,” and uses the fallout from both to tell a couple of character-driven stories about some of the lesser-known mutants. “Fables of the Reconstruction” focuses on Julian Keller, a.k.a. Hellion, who lost his hands fighting Nimrod sentinels from the future and is not adapting to his new situation well. This is made clear in the framing sequence which has Cyclops finding out just what went down when Omega Sentinel Karima went berserk and tried to take out Hope and the other mutants who were helping out at a construction site on the mainland. One one hand, Hellion’s actions scream “potential supervillain” to me, but his lack of remorse at making a hard choice and doing what turned out to be the right thing actually comes off as refreshing in a franchise where EVERYONE is tragically haunted by such choices. I imagine he’ll have to be put down at some point, but if the story was designed to make me want to see more of the character it certainly succeeded.
Ed Brubaker’s run on “Captain America” has been in a slump for the past two volumes. After spending so much time on selling the idea of Bucky Barnes as a worthy inheritor of the title and shield, his most recent adventures have cast considerable doubt on it. Being outsmarted by Baron Zemo and having his past as the Winter Soldier outed to the world is one thing, but to have him and the entire supporting cast lose to Sin, Crossbones and their crew and have the Statue of Liberty defaced in the process... Then it becomes make-or-break time for the writer and the character himself. Cleverly, Brubaker uses the main story in this volume to show us that this may have been his plan all along.