Monday, February 18, 2013

Mini-reviews: Bone, Ultimate Spiderman, All-New X-men

I've been reading and watching some things lately that I have thoughts and feelings about, but not enough to really stretch out into a full review. So I thought I'd jot down some smaller reviews here.





 

I had bought the collected black and white volume of Bone last year. I had started it, getting about four issues in, and then stopped. Partially because of other things getting in the way, but also because it just didn't grab me. However I was determined to try again this year, and this time made it all the way to the end.

Bone is essentially an interesting mash up between Carl Barks' Disney comics and the Lord of the Rings.  It wears its influences on its sleeve, and while it's an interesting combination that works well, I always felt a little more like I was reading a tribute to the other stories rather than something completely fresh and new.

I wasn't ever so much wrapped up into the story as I was just going along for the ride.  However it did really surprise me that I was disappointed once I reached the end.  I wanted to know where they were going next and how they made out.  So apparently I was more attached to the characters than I originally thought.  I think this could be a decent intro to comics for someone who wasn't into superheroes, certainly for someone who loves fantasy and appreciates a good sense of humor.



The first thing I learned about this show was that they had taken the character of Agent Coulson from the Avengers films and made him the principal of the school, and that Clark Gregg was voicing him.  That was enough to make me want to watch it, and within two episodes, I was hooked.  This show finds ways to excite me again and again and again.  I love that this Peter Parker is sort of like a put upon Ferris Bueller narrating the episodes, breaking the fourth wall, and occasionally freezing the action to show us things.  I love his angel and devil spideys that he turns to when he's uncertain of what to do.  I love the modern woman that Aunt May is, and that Mary Jane wants to be a reporter and is already working hard at becoming one.  And I love the whole group of heroes that become Spider-man's partners and work with him.  Not to mention the cameos of all the other superheroes that pop up in various episodes.

But what I find most interesting about the show is that it is really re-inventing the Spider-man mythos.  It completely changes around the origins and even identities of some of Spider-man's most famous villains, but you can't be bothered by how different it is because this version still works, is still a compelling story, and over all just really fun to watch.  There's a point around the middle of the first season where it seems to become more of a show about SHIELD, because we're always dealing with Nick Fury and his crew and Aunt May, Mary Jane, and Harry Osborn are no where to be found.  But by the end of the season it brings it back specifically to Spider-man's mythology and it does so in a fantastic way.  I probably won't see the second season until it's been added to Netflix but I'm definitely looking forward to it.





I read the first four issues of this series thanks to a deal from Comixology.  On the surface, this concept is nuts.  Present day Beast is dying and upset about how Cyclops has betrayed everything the X-men stand for, and after Iceman makes an offhand comment about how young Scott would give current Scott quite a talking to, decides to modify a time machine he had laying around (just go with it) and go back and get the original team of X-men.  Beast is shocked to see himself blue, Jean is shocked to find out that she's dead and that she can read minds, and Scott is shocked to find out he killed Professor X and is now essentially a mutant terrorist.

The strength of the story is really all in the details.  Both versions of the various characters feel accurate and real to themselves, and the story has a nice blend of humor and seriousness to it.  They're also introducing a lot of young mutants who have recently popped up thanks to what happened at the end of Avengers vs X-men, and I have to say I like most of those characters as well.  

I definitely want to keep reading this series, but 3.99 an issue when the issues are so short in length is really deterring me from continuing just yet.  I know it costs money to make comics even beyond the physical copies, but when I'm buying them digitally I think I should be receiving them at a discount since you don't have to pay to print and ship them out. It doesn't help that comics were half that price back when I used to collect them, and so paying double seems really overblown to me.  I know they tend to discount their issues eventually (though not as soon as DC does theirs) so I'll be waiting for that.


2 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    I'm not crazy about a lot of the changes that the X-men have gone through in the hands of different writers, so I'm already a fan of this new series! =P I agree that the old Cyclops, in particular, wouldn't have approved of what he has turned into. (The catch is: would he also go back and change things?)

    On a bit of a tangent, I've always been fascinated by the greater story of Cyclops's character, especially the twist that he was never have supposed to have come back. If I recall correctly, the original plan for his character was to have him retire from active duty as an X-man, mourn Jean properly (Wow. How many times has she died?), and move on with the rest of his life by marrying another woman. But then another writer brought Jean back to life, turned Madelyne into a clone, and zapped Scott into an eternally spiraling soap opera. (Apropos of nothing, I hate the Emma Frost twist.)

    But let me cut my ranting short (if only because I can't trust my memory of comic books any longer) and just ask you what your impression of Scott's character arc is. Do you think the changes his character has gone through are organic, and therefore convincing . .. or do they also feel a bit forced?

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    1. If I recall correctly, the original plan for his character was to have him retire from active duty as an X-man, mourn Jean properly (Wow. How many times has she died?), and move on with the rest of his life by marrying another woman.

      That was definitely the plan for a while there. But the problem is that a lot of times with comics, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Which is why no one really stays dead, and superheroes who quit often come back. So if it hadn't been through Jean's resurrection, it probably would have been some other way. And I don't think that it was another writer, though it may have been editorial influence. The X-men had one writer through pretty much the entirety of that time period.

      Do you think the changes his character has gone through are organic, and therefore convincing . .. or do they also feel a bit forced?

      I certainly can't claim to have read every single issue in his existence as an X-man, so it's always possible I am missing some necessary links for things to make sense. But I'll answer your question based on what I do know.

      They've done a lot of push and pull on his character lately. Some people trying hard to make him likable, others painting him as the worst. There's a degree of value to both sides, as like any other properly written character, he's both a caring leader and a little too much of a "good soldier" who is concerned with the "greater good."

      I was always upset with the way in which he and Jean split. The idea of Scott having a mental affair with someone like Emma just didn't make sense to me. It's all fine and good to have a couple grow apart, but having him do that just felt too wrong and not something he would have done. They are definitely on the rocks right now after the recent events of the comics, and personally I'm happy to see it. That's a relationship I just couldn't accept.

      But where they really lost me was having him kill Xavier. They tried to blame it on the phoenix force, and Scott is still claiming that's what made him do what he did, but then all the other characters are calling b.s. on him and personally I am too. That's not how the phoenix force works. But if I agree with that, how can I accept that this Scott willingly killed his mentor? That he's turned into a character that even Magneto has his doubts about? This is definitely a part where not reading all the current issues may mean I'm missing something, but the details I've read about in summary form don't seem to suggest anything that makes sense either.

      Honestly? Up until I started to hear about the interesting things they were doing with some of these new titles, I was about ready to give up on reading X-men comics all together. And Scott killing Xavier was the main reason why.

      Well, this comment has practically become it's own entry, hasn't it? :)

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