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Review of Uncanny X-Men 502 (2.5 stars) October 2, 2008

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Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

More near-mediocrity from Fraction and Brubaker, and more crap from Land is the best way to describe this issue. Let’s start with the true crap first, namely, Land’s art. Now, I know I’ve linked to this before, but Land’s tracing and recycling isn’t the only thing that makes him a bad artist. There’re also occurrences such as these:

Big, beefy, muscular men are part of the genre, and I’ve come to accept that. But what the crap is up with Logan’s arm? It’s already muscular-looking enough, why did Land have to include what looks like a tumor growing out of where his elbow bends? Seriously, that doesn’t make any sense anatomically at all. That big bulge spreads over where his elbow bends? How does he even bend it? Here is another “weird body incidence:”

Likewise, I’ve also come to accept that well-endowed, impossibly skinny women are part of the genre, but her torso being thicker than her hips? That’s not even the “perfect hourglass figure,” that’s an upside-down pear figure! (I’m not even going to comment on her annoying info box and dialogue in this panel.) Add to these the crazy looking smiles that almost everyone wears and the fact that the “Red Queen” is probably the most ridiculous looking villainess I’ve seen, and you’ve got some grade-A Land-crap.

Luckily the story isn’t horrible. We make some more discoveries about the Hellfire cult, we get a decent fight, and the majority of the character interactions are amusing. (I’m glad that Fraction and Brubaker have decided to include the camaraderie and humor that they have, it’s truly what is keeping this title afloat at the moment.) The only part that I dislike is pretty much any scene featuring Pixie. She’s annoyed me ever since the Free Comic Book Day issue starring her, and now, she seems to star in Uncanny as well. This book would be so much better if she just left the team. (Well, maybe.)

Mehh, I realize this may sound a bit harsh as a review. This issue really wasn’t that bad. But everyone once in a while, you’ve gotta vent, and this was the opportunity I chose. If you aren’t already reading Uncanny, I can’t honestly recommend picking it up, but for those of us who are, at least there’s worse things we could be reading, and besides, we only have to endure Land for another issue or two.

-LOTRKing

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Flashback: Review of Uncanny X-Men 128 (December 1979) September 29, 2008

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As an ending of a storyarc, this wasn’t a bad issue to jump on at. Coming during Chris Claremont’s legendary run, this story pits the X-Men against the incredibly powerful Proteus. Proteus, a mutant and son of Moira MacTaggert, is an energetic being with the ability to warp reality and the necessity to regularly change “host bodies,” leaving the former host dead in the process. In this issue, he has captured his mother, and his current host is that of his father, and he has been chased by the X-Men to Edinburgh.

The beginning deals mostly with the X-Men fighting him, while he literally makes the city come alive and attack them. This causes the X-Men a dilemma, as they try to protect themselves, the civilians, and rescue Moira. John Byrne does a terrific job illustrating the many strange scenarios that Proteus causes, which makes up for much of the fight banter, most of which is a little dated or just plain cheesy.

The best part (both in terms of story and art) comes at the climax. The X-Men have driven Proteus to the outskirts of the city, and they finally attack him head on. After a being brutally attacked Cyclops, Havok, and Phoenix (which leaves all three weakened), he retreats to a castle where Colossus takes him on alone. As the exertion has caused the death of his host, Proteus is left in his true energy form, which has a weakness for metal. (I don’t quite get this part, the story didn’t explain it too well. I’m not sure if his weakness was better explained in an earlier issue, or if this was just bad storytelling.) Anyway, Peter is somehow able to scatter his molecules in his organic metal state.

So, aside from a slightly confusing ending, this wasn’t too bad. I certainly wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find this story, but if you do find it, and you’ve got some time on your hands, you’ll get a good deal of entertainment.

Next week: Silver Surfer 36 (Volume 3)

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand… September 27, 2008

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Wow, three months goes by fast! Let’s once again take a look at where things stand in the Marvel Universe.

Secret Invasion – It’s rapidly approaching its end, and six issues, three big Skrull reveals, and countless tie-ins later, it is a great story, while at the same time being a little unsatisfying. For the most part, I have enjoyed the goings-on in the main series, but many of the tie-ins have been disappointing. While this has almost as many tie-ins as Civil War did, Civil War was much better at being able to carry the story of each particular character or group of characters coping with the SHRA. In this case, most tie-ins simply feature a character or group of characters participating in an issues-long brawl with the Skrulls. As epic as this story has been, I will be happy when it is over.

Fantastic Four – I’ve loved Millar’s take on the FF, even if it is a little slow at times, but it seems that many do not share my enthusiasm. Sure, his take on the individual members may not be completely orthodox, but this departure from the norm has been what has made most of it fun. So while I’ll enjoy his sixteen issue run, I wouldn’t want him to take the helm for the next several years. (And I do hope they find someone great to do so, FF really does need a shot in the arm that will carry it forward.) In the meantime, regardless whether or not you are a fan of Millar’s handling of the team, you should definitely check out the Fantastic Four: True Story mini-series that is going on. The story might be slightly absurd, but I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve reviewed the first two issues of it at WCBR here and here, and I’ll soon post the link here to my review of the third.

Silver Surfer – We haven’t seen hide nor hair (that is, if he had hair) of him since Nova 15, and as far as I know, it looks to stay that way. I really wish Marvel would do another mini. 😦 (Or, heck, even an ongoing!) But, with the “War of Kings” that’s supposed to tear through Marvel’s cosmic line next year, maybe they’ll find a place to tell a story about good old Norrin. Until then, I plan to write a review of one of my favorite Surfer tales, Silver Surfer: Requiem for WCBR sometime this week, and I’ll post a link here when it is available.

Amazing Spider-Man – It sure has come a long way from the atrocious One More Day fiasco. New Ways to Die has been every bit the fantastic story we were promised it would be and while I’m still upset with the dissolution of the marriage, I won’t lie that I’m looking forward to what the “Braintrust” will bring us next. Especially the courtroom story hinted at in the “Extra!” one shot a while back. Also, the first issue of ASM Family was decent, and I was disappointed at first when it sounded as though they wouldn’t be including further “Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man” stories, but the solicits for future issues makes it appear they will. Expect reactions to issue two in two weeks.

New Avengers – This title is severely lacking from its title characters, namely the Avengers. I’ve not hidden my dislike for the fact that Bendis is using these two books he’s in charge of to write Secret Invasion back-up tales (some of which haven’t even been that important) despite the fact that they rarely involve the Avengers. I really wish he’d done a Secret Invasion: Origins mini-series for these stories, or something of the like, and just given us more Avengers adventures. Though I won’t lie, rumors running around of the possible upcoming fourth Avengers ongoing (Dark Avengers) has me excited.

Mighty Avengers – See above.

Avengers: The Initiative – Where its two “Avengers brethren” have suffered from “Secret Invasion overdose,” Avengers: The Initiative has flourished. Dan Slott and Christos Gage continue to put out spectacular, character driven stories proving that you can pull characters from the “nobody’s ever heard of these random Marvel superheroes” list, and still have one of the best comic books on the market. Yes, I still miss Cloud 9, my favorite character to come out of this series, but team Slott and Gage haven’t steered us wrong yet, and I’m sure we’ll see her before too long.

Captain America – With Ed Brubaker’s long awaited conclusion to the “Death of the Dream” “mega-arc” that came out this week, Brubaker proves that he can leave you satisfied and begging for more at the same time. With almost complete resolution on the good guy side of the equation, and almost none on the bad guy side, Brubaker has made me a permanent fan of Captain America. Don’t expect to see this series leaving my must-read list anytime soon.

Thor – This, in my opinion, is still probably the best comic book series on the market. J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel continue to give us this slow-churning epic infused with humor and suspense. What is Loki’s true plan? What does it have to do with Dr. Doom? How does she intend to gain the allegiance of Balder, one of Thor’s longest friends? How will her actions affect Midgard? When JMS’ run on Thor is finally over (which I hope never happens), this will likely be one of my favorite graphic format stories told. (This honor currently belongs to Bone by Jeff Smith, and yes, I have read Watchmen, I still think Bone is better.)

Invincible Iron Man – One year ago, I never would have guessed that I’d be reading an Iron Man series. I loathed him for his actions during Civil War and, along with many fans and much of the actual Marvel Universe, blamed him for Captain America’s death. My appreciation for him, unknowingly, actually began when I started reading Avengers: The Initiative. As I began to see more and more the benefits of the SHRA, I began to understand Tony’s actions. I didn’t necessarily like him, but I no longer hated him. Then, of course, the Iron Man movie came out. I was completely blown away. I needed more Tony Stark, and I needed it IMMEDIATELY. Luckily, Marvel was wise enough to start a new Invincible Iron Man ongoing series just days after the release of the movie. And, luckier still, the series has maintained much of the flavor of the movie. IIM has become one of my favorite monthly reads, and one that I recommend to everyone I talk to who loved the movie (especially non-comic book readers, what better way to introduce them to the medium?)

Uncanny X-Men – With the authors of the already legendary Captain America series and the breakaway Invincible Iron Man ongoing at the helm of the world’s best selling super-team, this should have been an easy success. Unfortunately, something has gone wrong. Ever since Messiah Complex, Uncanny has taken a turn for the mediocre. Luckily, it had the beautiful artwork of Mike Choi to make us survive through the awful hippie story. Now we’re just getting an ever-increasing focus on the ever-increasingly annoying character Pixie, as rendered by the horrible artist Greg Land. I don’t know what needs to happen to fix this title, but Brubaker and Fraction but figure it out fast. (And firing Greg Land from the comic book medium would be a good start, especially when he pulls off crap like this.)

Astonishing X-Men – Who’d’ve guessed that this series would still be plagued with delays after the departure of Whedon and Cassaday? I dunno, but with the upcoming Ender’s Game comic book adaptation (discussed below), I’ve decided to drop this in favor of that. Don’t get me wrong, the story seems interesting enough, and the artwork is wonderful, but I feel this isn’t really an essential part of my reading list. I will, however, still review issues of this from time to time on WCBR.

Ender’s Game – Finally. One of my all-time-favorite novels is getting the comic book treatment. I’ve never looked forward to the release of a comic book as much as I am Ender’s Game #1 on October 8th. If you’ve never read the book, first off, shame on you! But secondly, you definitely better read the comic, because it’s gonna be epic! In fact, next week, Casual Saturdays will be all about why you should read it, so if you aren’t planning to, you better check back then!

So what do you guys think of the Marvel Universe as it is now? Share your thoughts if you feel like it.

-LOTRKing

Review of Uncanny X-Men 501 (3 stars) August 21, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ed Brubaker’s Captain America is genius. Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man is the must read new series of the year. When the two collaborated together on Immortal Iron Fist, they took a character with only a small cult following and made one of the most fan-loved books on the market. So when the two of them united on Uncanny X-Men, the flagship title of the most famous super-team in the world, their success should have guaranteed, right? So far, the last two issues have surprisingly showed the contrary.

My first problem is simple: between Greg Land’s art and the condescending narration boxes, I feel this book is marketed to the young teen crowd. Don’t get me wrong, the world could always use another comic book reader, and if something is thrown in to appeal to a certain group, I’m usually fine with it. But this entire issue sounded like a young teen novel. Likewise, I can’t fully put my finger on it, but all the art seemed kind of, I dunno, pose-ish? Way too many convenient poses in too many panels. (A cool “pose-panel” or two included in an issue can provide for some memorable art, but when everyone always seems to strike a pose, things get a little silly.) Of course, all of this may have something to do with Land’s “unique” way of doing his pencils, as displayed here.

Second, I dunno, the story doesn’t really feel all too compelling. First, Pixie gets beaten up by an anti-mutant group. Then most of the rest of the issue is more of the X-Men saying how great things are now, then we see a brief meeting of the group that beat up Pixie (the Hellfire Club), before the X-Men finally (within the last three pages) go out and do something (in this case, attempt to catch the Hellfire Club). Oh and, I have no idea who the Red Queen is, but why was her one line of dialogue one of the worst I’ve ever read, and why the heck was she dressed like that? (Not to mention while striking another annoying pose.)

Don’t get me wrong, despite these complaints, there were a few redeeming parts to this issue (some fun humor in the X-Men commons room, the majority of the dialogue was well written, Land managed a few cool art panels), and most of it wasn’t pure suckage. Its main problem is that it is no where near as good as it should be coming from Brubaker and Fraction. Hopefully they’ll be able to turn the story around soon, and with any luck Land will leave the book ASAP.

-LOTRKing

Flashback: Review of Uncanny X-Men 217 (May 1987) August 18, 2008

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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Ah, the 80s: decade of horrendous hairdos, but also the decade of many legendary comic book writers such as Chris Claremont. Of course, legendary writers cannot be perfect all the time (check out Brubaker’s current take on X-Men for proof), and this issue is Claremont when he is “less-than-perfect.” Perhaps I would have enjoyed the story more if I had a better understanding of X-Men continuity at this point, but unfortunately I don’t.

As the issue opens, Psylocke is on the run from fellow mutants Dazzler, Longshot, and Rogue (is it just me, or does she look like she is wearing a skunk on her head?) At first, I had no idea what was going on; eventually, Claremont clues us in on the fact that they are simply engaging in a practice fight. When Banshee comes in to break it all up, he essentially tells them they all suck, and we are treated to a long sequence of Dazzler brooding and whining. (Yeah, that was lots of fun.)

Eventually, she randomly runs into the Juggernaut in Scotland, and he happens to be a fan of her work. (That must have been odd.) Juggernaut just wants to continue going wherever he was off to, but Dazzler is certain that he is up to no good. Juggernaut doesn’t want to harm her, and just wants to leave, but she continuously attacks him until she has used all of her energy and falls to the ground unconscious. Of course, Juggernaut thinks she is dead, but it was obviously just a cliffhanger, she’s probably revived next issue (though I’m too lazy to check.)

Add in the fact that the only thing that wasn’t bland about Jackson Guice’s art was the hair of various characters, and you have an extremely forgettable issue. I see absolutely no reason to go looking for this, unless there was some crucial piece of X-Men continuity that I missed (y’never know, maybe I sneezed and skipped an important panel). Hopefully we’ll get something much more interesting next week, and speaking of…

Next week: new format: issues reviewed are now chosen completely randomly! [sarcasm]I know, isn’t that new the most enthralling thing you’ve ever heard?[/sarcasm] And the issue is… Fantastic Four 234!

-LOTRKing

Review of Uncanny X-Men 500 (3 stars) July 25, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here (first one posted).

Quick spoilers: The X-Men have relocated to San Francisco. A collector there has purchased decommissioned Sentinels and is displaying them as “art.” The X-Men investigate and Magneto, seemingly re-powered, attacks and reactivates the Sentinels. The X-Men defeat him and realize he was only wearing a high-tech suit to give him power. Magneto escapes and discusses these events with a secret, sinister cabal. Scott and Emma send a telepathic message that San Francisco is now a safe-haven for mutants and their allies and that all are welcome at the new X-base.

-LOTRKing

Flashback: Review of Uncanny X-Men 40 (January 1968) July 14, 2008

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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Remember that ol’ phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, insert the word “comic” right before book, and you probably have an accurate description of this issue. After my random number generator chose this book last week, I took one look at the cover and thought: “this book is about to get the biggest bashing of all time.” Heck, I almost even threw a note in last week to expect a big bashing this time around. Let’s examine the cover for a moment: we have the X-Men looking for a monster that looks like it came straight from the 30s horror movie, neck-bolts and all. Second we have the caption: “The X-Men Meet Frankenstein!” Now anyone who has actually read the novel will know that Frankenstein was not the name of the monster, rather the scientist who created it, “the monster” is never given a true name. Being a huge fan of the novel, it always irks me when someone gets this wrong. Name nitpickiness aside, the X-Men facing off against the 30s horror movie version of an iconic character sounds like a recipe for cheesiness.

When I actually read the darn issue, imagine my surprise when my preconceptions turned out to out to be exactly wrong! I’m lead to believe that writer Roy Thomas didn’t write the cover, because he correctly refers to the creature as “Frankenstein’s monster” throughout! Many kudos points to him! Likewise, Xavier himself admits to being a huge fan of the novel also (more kudos points awarded!) In fact, it looks as though Roy Thomas is attempting to build a long-awaited sequel to the novel, by, at first, basing several plot points from the end of the novel. In theory, fiction-to-comic crossovers can work. Heck, I’ve got what I’d like to think is a pretty cool idea for a crossover between the Fantastic Four and one of my favorite books series (that’s a story for another time chaps!)

So far, my emotional roller-coaster went from being prepped for ultimate cheesiness, to being surprised and pleased. Unfortunately, the final stop was disappointment. The story sets up to actually be a good one, I was ready to read an entertaining attempted sequel to one of my favorite classical novels. Alas, “Rascally Roy” muddles things up as he attempts to tell the “true origin” of the monster, one that doesn’t make any sense in context of the original novel. It turns out that the “monster” was actually an android created by friendly exploring aliens, intended to act as an ambassador. When the android malfunctioned and terrorized humans, the aliens chased it to the arctic, where it was eventually frozen in ice, and found in the modern time. (He was thawed, that’s how he entered this issue originally, I suppose I should’ve mentioned that.) Xavier reasons that Mary Shelley somehow heard this story and wrote the novel. Of course, this new story bears no resemblance whatsoever to the novel, except for the fact that they both end in the arctic. They may as well have written this issue to be about a strange monster attacking, engaged it, and then learned its “alien creation” story. It really has no links whatsoever to Frankenstein. I realize that this was X-Men at its low point, right before in went into the “repeats” that continued for a few years, but did they really have to use this kind of disappointing gimmick to sell an issue? I really can’t recommend this unless you want a really rather odd (and nonsensical) spin on a classic tale.

Next week: Special Edition! Not Random! Review of the 1978 Silver Surfer Graphic Novel by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby! Excelsior! (Okay, that last comment was random, but seemed to fit in with old-school Marvel-sounding hype. Besides, you know you’ve always wanted the chance to say “Excelsior!”)

-LOTRKing

Review of Uncanny X-Men 499 (3 stars) July 8, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

If nothing else, at least we are done with hippies. This issue follows suit from every other in this arc: hippie part, less than interesting, Russian part: lots of cool fighting with awesome art. This time around, the “cool fighting” sequence pits Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler against Omega Red. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. Luckily Mike Choi does all of the art for these sequences, as he maintains his usual level of greatness. Seriously, this guy needs to do a major crossover event, or become a permanent artist somewhere, because his work is just that good. Going back to the story, the fight is eventually won by Nightcrawler teleporting really high with Red and allowing him to fall to the ground, thus rendering him unconscious. A bit of a weak ending, I realize, but if nothing else the fight with Choi’s art is worth the cover price.

The hippie scene was also mostly fighting, though no where near as good because it was drawn by newcomer Ben Oliver. His art isn’t bad, but it is certainly no Choi. This one has a fairly weak ending as well, as Scott and Emma eventually find Martinique and shut her down, but not before she mysteriously vanishes. It looks as though she was saved by another female mutant, who invites her to the “Sisterhood” (presumably of evil mutants). The only thing important to come out of this issue is the revelation why the X-Men are moving to San Fran: Angel saves the mayor and she offers them residence. Yup, that’s it. Overall, this has been a weak issue ending to a weak storyline. The only thing keeping this from 2.5 stars is Choi’s art. Still, Brubaker teaming with Fraction for the monumental issue 500 next month has me excited, hopefully the stories will be stronger, and most importantly, no hippies!

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand June 28, 2008

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Well, the year’s (almost) half over, and seeing as how it’s been a few months since I did one of these posts, I thought I’d take the time to assess my current views on the Marvel Universe. Sometime this week (assuming I have time) I’m going to send an email to Marvel letting them know what I think, it will essentially say the same, or similar things in this post. (I will also ask for subscriptions to be available for Avengers: The Initiative!)

Secret Invasion: Three issues in, and we’ve had three big reveals: Spider-Woman, Yellowjacket, and Jarvis are all Skrulls! Bendis has been handling the story extremely well, and I can’t wait to see where he goes with it. Surprising to myself, I’ve also actually enjoyed Yu’s art in SI (though it still needs improvement). Who else might be a Skrull? Luke Cage, but I’m guessing he doesn’t know it, and will be heart broken when he finds out.

Fantastic Four: Millar/Hitch’s first arc was more than satisfying, and judging by the first issue of their second arc, it looks to be ten times more awesome! I love that Millar makes this series about the characters, not their adventures. And I love the way the Hitch draws Sue! What is there not to be happy about? 😉 Fantastic Four is one of favorite monthlies, and one of my three “must reads.” (In other words, if you’re not reading it, pick it up immediately!)

Silver Surfer/Nova: I’m reading the current arc of Nova, simply because is features ol’ Norrin Radd, and boy is it spectacular. (Reviews can be found here and here, the second review isn’t mine though.) I’m hoping what with the success of SS: Requiem and SS: In Thy Name, that if these three issues of Nova see a spike in readers, Marvel may consider giving Norrin his own ongoing again (finally!), or at least another mini-series (which could then lead to an ongoing). What with both Annihilation events, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy reinvigorating Marvel’s cosmic line, what better way to add to this corner of the MU by launching an ongoing for Marvel’s most famous Sentinel of the Spaceways?

Amazing Spider-Man: This is the most disappointing series that I am currently reading. Occasionally we get a glimpse of an issue that is wonderful, but it seems that the next is always a let down. Also, any regular readers know that I am very opposed to the dissolution of the marriage, and I still think that it can be reinstated, and we could still have spectacular Spidey stories. If Marvel has a greatest flaw right now, this is it. (Though I won’t lie, the upcoming “New Ways to Die” arc looks awesome.)

Mighty Avengers and New Avengers: This should be two groups, but seeing as how these two are simply telling back stories of Secret Invasion right now, these series serve the same purpose. While I enjoy the stories that have been presented thus far, I really wish Bendis would have made them a separate mini-series, like Secret Invasion: Origins, or something. One, that would let casual readers know that these stories are essential to Secret Invasion, and not “just another tie-in.” I mean, the Skrull queen posing as Spider-Woman was revealed in an issue of New Avengers, for goodness sake! These things are really too important to leave out of Secret Invasion. Likewise, I really want a good Avengers story fix. Mighty Avengers only gave us two quick arcs to meet the team, before diving straight into SI, and as enjoyable as SI is, I really want these series to get back to more adventures of their perspective teams ASAP.

Avengers: The Initiative: I think yesterday’s review of issue 14 sums up my feelings on this series. This is another one of my three must reads. Pick it up as soon as you get the chance (and ask Marvel to offer subscriptions to it!)

Captain America: Brubaker continues to weave a web of genius plot lines. With last month’s reveal of who the “Bad Cap” is and next month looking to have the “New Cap” vs. “Bad Cap” fight, along with the promise of a conclusion in September, this series continues to be an extremely entertaining read, and I can’t wait to see what Brubaker does with James after the conclusion of this monumental story line.

Thor: First, I have to admit to slight disappointment, as this series seems to have slipped onto a bimonthly schedule. Still, it is worth the wait. Thor is mythic stories infused with humor, and packed with a surprising amount of characterizations as only J. Michael Straczynski can do. Thor might just be Marvel’s best ongoing, and therefore is the final one of my three must reads. If you aren’t reading this, you are missing out, big time.

Invincible Iron Man: Two issues in, and I’m loving it! Matt Fraction is doing a brilliant job introducing new Iron Man fans to his current status quo, and keeping it plenty entertaining for regular comic book readers. My hope is that Fraction can reinvigorate this character like Brubaker with Cap or JMS with Thor, and if the first two issues are any indication, he just may succeed. If you loved the movie, you should probably be reading this.

Uncanny X-Men: Messiah Complex: Awesome. Divided We Stand: Mehh. Manifest Destiny: ??? While this last storyarc has been a bit underwhelming (note to future comic book writers: don’t use hippies), the dream team of Brubaker, Fraction, and Cary, along with the monumental issue 500 leaves me with high hopes for what is coming next.

Well, those are my current opinions, we’ll check back with another “Where Things Stand” in a few months! See you on Monday with a Flashback!

-LOTRKing

Flashback: Review of Uncanny X-Men 92 (February 1975) June 16, 2008

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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Marvel’s Silver Age of Comics is an interesting time. Marvel produced many classic stories which would build the foundation for the Marvel Universe that still exists today. There were also several stinkers which are probably not worth being read. Uncanny X-Men 92 is one of those stinkers, and perhaps even more amazing, UXM 92 is during X-Men’s “reprint phase” before X-Men got its reinvigorating reboot with Giant Size X-Men 1, therefore someone thought the material here (originally from UXM 44) was worth re-reading. They were wrong. While this issue does have a few (very few) redeeming qualities, there were way too many bad ones to save it. Therefore I am going to have some fun today and go into total bashing mode. (For those who do not enjoy comic bashing please return tomorrow for our regularly scheduled program).

This issue opens with the X-Men unconscious and captured by Magneto. The Toad (in his hilarious original outfit) rambles on about how wise and perfect Magneto is for accomplishing this task, and I’m personally surprised that we don’t see him kissing Magneto’s feet. The Toad tries to convince Magneto to kill them, but Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who had recently deserted the Avengers and rejoined their father, convince Magneto to simply imprison them in hopes that they might join him. Magneto, though his original plan was to kill them, decides he likes Pietro’s idea and has Toad lock them up. Conveniently enough, Magneto had already designed and buily the perfect imprisonment apparatus for each of them, to ensure they cannot use their powers to escape. (That’s an awful lot of work when you were just gonna kill ‘em anyway.)

Of course, Angel happens to find a laser sitting right outside his cage and uses it to free himself. He is about to free the others, but Cyclops insists that it might be a trap, so Angel should escape and get the Avengers to help. That makes a lot of sense, only not. If Angel can escape without being trapped, the other X-Men should too. Seems to me like Cyclops is just trying to get the rich prep out of their hair. I can just hear it now, “Great, now that Warren is gone, we can free ourselves and not have to deal with him on the way home.”

Anyway, Angel is able to fly away and quickly realizes that he has flown into a storm (cause that is so easy to do, you know), and comes up with the brilliant idea that he should go to the Avengers for help! (You know, that exact idea that Cyclops mentioned earlier? Am I the only one sensing a Timon and Pumbaa moment here?) Eventually the storm tires him out and he decides to rest on a mysterious rock floating in the ocean. Of course, the rock quickly rises to reveal itself to be an island. Warren is intrigued and decides to explore it when he sees a large metal door on a cliff face. He reasons that Magneto probably won’t kill his friends since he is likely to ask them to join him. That’s a pretty big gamble just to satisfy your curiosity if you ask me. “Hey my friends are in grave danger, but they probably won’t be murdered, so I’ll go ahead and explore this groovy island.” It’s no wonder Cyclops secretly wanted to get rid of him.

Upon entering he discovers that it belongs to a now hibernating race of bird-people (who look exactly like Angel, that is, normal looking people but with large white wings). On this Island is a character named Red Raven who caused the hibernation of the bird-men to keep them from attack the rest of earth. (Apparently these couple hundred creatures planned on conquering the “surface dwellers” with inferior technology. Yeah, I don’t get it either.) Red Raven was the infant survivor of a plane crash on the bird-men’s floating island in the sky who was raised as one of their own. Apparently he never realized he wasn’t a bird-man while growing up (you’d think the lack of wings on his back would be a dead give away) and when he finds out his true lineage, he is bent on stopping the bird-man invasion. He uses some emergency system on the island to release a hibernation gas and sink the island to the bottom of the ocean. The downside of this is that the island was programmed to rise twenty years later (which is now) and awaken everyone. Red Raven stayed behind (those must have been a boring twenty years) to ensure that he could reactivate the hibernation process.

After learning this, Angel suggests that Red Raven allows the bird-men to awaken so that scientists can study them and learn the secrets of their race. That’s a real humane decision Warren! Let’s capture these weird people and study their secrets, but don’t do that to mutants, cause its wrong. Yup, Warren’s a jerk. Eventually Red Raven decides that there is still a chance that the bird-men may succeed in conquering Earth (how exactly?), so he knocks Angel out, lets him float in the ocean on a raft, and returns the island to the murky depths for another twenty years. Eventually, Angel wakes up, and suspects he’ll someday run into Red Raven again. (I hope not, if anyone actually followed up on this story, they deserve to be turned into a newt! Unfortunately, they’ll get better.) He then finally flies off to recruit the Avengers and the issue ends. Wow, not only do we get a completely pointless story, readers back then got a pointless wait between seeing the X-Men captured last issue and finally seeing what would happen in the next issue. I’m not even going to touch on the short story reprint from Mystery Tales 30. Let’s just say that the other anthology stories from Amazing Fantasy 15 (you know, the ones not about Spider-Man) are high literature compared to this one. Heck, the rest of this issue is high literature compared to the MT 30 reprint. So if you are looking for a good example of Silver Age absurdity, look no farther that Uncanny X-Men 92, otherwise, avoid it like the plague.

Next week: Fantastic Four 124

-LOTRKing