Monday, January 06, 2014

Since I just wrote bullet points for the previous volume, I guess I'll do the same for All-New X-Men Vol. 2: Here To Stay

•I did mention how much I like this series in my previous post on the previous volume, right? I'm actually pretty surprised to find myself so thoroughly enjoying a Brian Michael Bendis-written comic book again after having gone so long since doing so, and so thoroughly enjoying an X-Men comic (Usually when I do find one I like, like that Rick Remender X-Force from a few years back, they end up changing artists, character line-ups and/or rebooting the title within a few collections).

I think a large part of my enjoyment of this series comes from reading it in trade, where Bendis' decompression and various irritating writing ticks are minimized by reading a whole half-dozen or so issues in one sitting rather than 20-pages a month, and, of course, by not having to pay for it, as the only cost involved is simply time, rather than time and money.

•That sub-title rather implies that not only did the original, teenage X-Men of 1963 decide not to return to the past after the events of the first volume,  but also that they could be around for a rather long time. I suppose they could even stay indefinitely, really, couldn't they? Like, at various times, various X-Teams have included refugees from the future—Cable, Bishop, Rachel, Hope—so why not some from their own past?

•This $25 hardcover collection ($25!) only collects five issues worth of the series, so it's actually less economical than buying the $4 issues serially...unless there's some digital copy being factored in. It looks and feels a bit longer than it actually is though, as there are some 22 pages of variant covers and process material in the back, taking up the space that a sixth issue otherwise would have. I would have loved that process stuff as a teenager, but now it just seems like a bit of a waste of space and paper to me, especially if one considers Marvel's charging you for six issues worth of comics, but only giving you five plus fuller.

•It was rather disheartening to see Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger, the major selling point for the first collection, disappear so quickly. This volume contains issues #6-#10, but Immonen and Grawbadger only handle #9 and #10; fill-in artist David Marquez draws the first three/fifths of the book. And does so quite well, he's just not Immonen, and his presence is something of a disappointment to anyone picking this up and expecting to read a Bendis/Immonen book.  

•I know the Marvel Universe used to have a pretty strict rule about the way time travel worked in the publisher's shared setting, in which the timeline couldn't really be altered, and that any travel and interference would simply create a different, branching timeline, but Marvel's pretty much done away with that, right? In addition to this book, I know Brian Michael Bendis wrote a time-travel story in one of his many Avengers books that didn't deal with that at all, and I just finished reading Fantastic Four Vol. 2: Road Trip by Matt Fraction, Mark Bagley and company, and that featured the FF screwing around with the past pretty intensely. But then, I understand one of the consequences of Age of Ultron, which I still haven't read (that book been checked out of pretty much every library in Ohio since its release, so I guess it's awfully popular with Ohio library patrons), was that time was broken or something.

•The main story points in this volume are as follows: 1.) Kitty Pryde takes on the task of "training" the original X-Men teens, which includes teaching Jean to deal with her prematurely developing psychic powers (which includes a few lines that seem straight from the movie Man of Steel, 2.) Young Cyclops goes off on his own to investigate things, and he's confronted by Mystique, who poses as a not-as-bad-as-she-really-is version of herself (I could have sworn Wolverine totally killed her once and for all and that she was never coming back in one of those Jason Aaron-written trades, but man, that was dumb of me to think that), 3.) Young Angel finally meets Old Angel, who doesn't look or act any older or more experienced than  him (Props to Scott Beattie for filling me in on the Angel situation in the comments of the last post on this series; Bendis, perhaps wisely, glosses over all that nonsense), 4.) The Angels meet the Avengers, and then The Avengers confront the X-Men at their mansion, in a genuinely funny scene in which we don't actually hear the argument itself, but Old Iceman and Kitty's impressions of Captain America and Beast (two panels of which are above), 5.) Jean Grey, having never read Identity Crisis (lucky girl), starts messing around with mind-changing and memory-wiping of her teammates, 6.) Mystique puts together a mutant gang to rob banks, instead of do the usual mutant crimes of...being involved with the ins and outs of  X-Men continuity and crossovers, I guess, 7.) Young Cyclops gives Young Jean a copy of the invitation to the wedding their future selves will have, which fucks with both of their minds. Wait until someone introduces them to their kids, some of whom are as old or older than them as them and also attending the school, and, finally, 8) Old Cyclops and his new X-Men show up in fancy new costumes that better telegraph the fact that they are totally the villains now.

•I like that when Mystique appears to give Young Cyclops advice about being a good man and doing the right thing, she does so while wearing a belt made out of baby skulls, or, if not actual baby skulls, then metal or plastic or something meant to look like skulls. I thought about that belt for a while, and while it looks very supervillanous, I then realized lots of young people wear skull imagery on their belts and t shirts and jewelry and stuff, so it' s not that weird, but a skull belt like that would look more natural with, like heavy metal band t shirt, a pair of pants and some black boots instead of, you know, that weird white dress Mystique has been wearing for, like, my whole life.

•I also liked that when Old Angel appears, he is wearing a costume that is so damn close to Mystique's. They both apparently like long white loin drapings and high white boots.

•Lady Mastermind, which I guess is the name of an X-Men villain now, appears in a scene in which Mystique breaks her out of a SHIELD cell. Rather than wearing an orange jumpsuit, she's wearing the costume seen above.

Either because SHIELD prisons have a very lax dress code and they let her wear whatever she wants, or because the folks who run SHIELD prisons are perverts and that is the prison uniform. I wonder if they make Grey Gargoyle wear the same get-up now...?

•Anyway, when the rebel X-People show up near the end of the book, letting Wolverine's student body know that their new school is currently offering open enrollment, we see that Emma Frost's new costume looks so much like Lady Mastermind's that I had to flip back and make sure they weren't the exact same character.

Is it odd that two blond mutant women with mental powers would wear almost identical tops that are such an unusual fashion choice that I'm not even sure how they work, exactly; underwire and electrical tape, maybe...?

Magik is also wearing black, and a belt, hot pants and thigh-highs that exactly match Emma's.

•I half-like Old Cyclops' new costume, with the ruby red X-shaped visor. I like when the X-Men go to such extraordinary lengths of self-branding. I don't care for all the other extraneous red lines all over the costume, though. It's too busy, and takes away from the focus, the big, red, laser-shooting X where his face should be (Also, the lines on his legs suggest that he's wearing chaps, even though I know he's not. When he was possessed by the Phoenix Force in Avengers Vs. X-Men, his Phoenix costume had a little read triangle over his area visually suggesting a thong being worn over his tights. I guess that's how they try to designate Cyclops turn toward villainy, by giving him various visual signifiers of sexy pants of some kind...?).

•Magneto looks remarkably bad-ass in his new outfit, and all-white's a pretty good choice, especially if they're trying to win hearts and minds and not look like supervillains and terrorists (that's why "White Queen" Emma Frost and Magik wearing black, dominatrix-like outfits seem odd choices, but perhaps all of this will be explained in Uncanny X-Men, this book' s sister title, following Old Cyclops and his gang. "We're wearing black now because we're in mourning for our people, Scott. And we're wearing tiny shorts and showing our cleavage to help recruit young, male mutants to our cause. If you were 17, which school would you sign up with? The one run by a four-foot-tall Canadian with Civil War hair, or the one with teachers wearing thiese outfits?").

The shape of Magneto's helmet might be a little too evil-looking thought, and it somehow feels wrong for him to stray so far from purple to me. I have a hard-time with Magneto cognitively though, as I generally think of him as the elderly Ian McKellan, rather than the big, buff, white-maned character in the comics.   That is a large part of the reason I think I liked his costume from near the end of the Grant Morrison run so much, as it so closely resembled a movie costume, but had the comic book Magneto wearing it.

•Should I be looking forward to reading the "Battle of the Atom" all-books-on-deck X-Men crossover, or dreading it...?

1 comment:

JohnF said...

Age of Ultron is bloody awful. One of the worst things I've read in years. It made Secret Invasion look like Watchmen. It will NOT be to your liking.

Anyway, I just assumed Lady Mastermind used her illusion powers to make herself look hot and half-naked.