Posts Tagged ‘Astonishing X-Men’
I can’t help feeling like this book should probably be #1 on our list. It isn’t (not even in my own personal ranking) because a few others were more popular, had greater impact, etc. But for sheer quality- in both concept and execution- The Walking Dead stood peerless in the 2000s. The book starts from a simple question: “What if every zombie movie you’ve ever seen didn’t actually have to end?” Series creator Robert Kirkman anchors the horror in his characteristically well-drawn characters, each of whom has the opportunity to show complete emotional range and complex, totally natural motivations usually absent from traditionally truncated zombie genre fare. Protagonist Rick Grimes and company endure a hard-fought existence that calls into question the nature of concepts like morality, justice, society and sanity when life becomes a nonstop pursuit of one goal: survival. And that makes anything possible- when the story doesn’t have to work itself to resolution after 90 minutes, all of the rules change. To spoil even one moment of The Walking Dead for a new reader would be criminal, but suffice it to say that nobody is safe, and in a world like this, any/every “normal” person can and will be pushed to things you’d never expect possible. And it is, in all likelihood, the best currently ongoing series in comics.
I love Superman. I love him as a supporting character. After 80 years as the flagship superhero of comics it feels like everything there was to say about Krypton’s last son has been said. In fact, it was said before a guy like Grant Morrison was even in the biz. Going in to All-Star Superman I felt this way. Then, for 12 marvelous issues I was convinced I needed to know more. Who knew Big Blue had one last arc of good reading in him? I’m sure at some point there will come another author who finds something entertaining to do with Superman, but in the waning years of this last decade it was nice to see creative duo Morrison and Quitely tell me something about Kent I didn’t already know, and wrap it all up so tidily that I felt a sense of closure when it was all said and done.
Whoa, whoa. Hold on a hot second. A tie-in to an event that’s better than the event itself? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
You’re dumb, and here’s the proof. While Final Crisis was a little, um, disjointed, Revelations was straight up Biblical goodness. Basically, while Darkseid is busy mind-raping everybody with the Anti-Life Equation, newly-appointed Question Renee Montoya is fighting off the Religion of Crime in Gotham (if you ain’t read it, you’re now officially confused). Meanwhile, newly-appointed Spectre (and Renee’s ex-partner since Batman: the Animated Series) Crispus Allen is serving out justice on God’s behalf for those held responsible for the death of the Martian Manhunter. Basically, the book is a team-up between these two: the Huntress, and Radiant, God’s angel of mercy in a battle against many of Darkseid’s Justifiers and Vandal Savage (who is possessed by Cain from the Bible).
8. Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughn
Sort of a weird thing happened in the last decade. Since Hollywood’s bankruptcy of original intellectual properties, we’ve seen so many mediocre, utterly forgettable comics adaptations that we’ve forgotten a time when not every book was viewed in terms of its potential to sustain a film or television franchise. Instead, we’ve begun new lives in an alternate universe where your Aunt whose favorite musician is Michael Buble can tell you who Harry Osborne’s dad is, and the more intellectual set might deign to deride a new theatrical release by saying something like “Eh… I think it would have been better as a comic book.” A shining example of the opposite in effect, Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man is one a truly few number of titles that openly begs to be realized in moving pictures small or large. The story of the last living carriers of a Y chromosome on Earth (20-something Yorrick Brown and his monkey, Ampersand) moves along a pace that perfectly balances its dual nature as both an episodic and serial narrative while introducing us to a hugely diverse cast of female (naturally) characters who all have different goals and motivations driving them to live in a new world without men. At times, the book could be almost soapy in how relationships progress and evolve, and I’d be lying if I said I loved the plot’s final resolution, but for 60 issues Y exhibited an undeniable quality that said this is just the kind of great story- and storytelling- that’s fit for today’s enlightened masses. It’s no wonder that series co-creator Brian K. Vaughn wound up plying his trade doing just that as a writer on ABC’s Lost.
Poor Piotr. He spends all that time being good while falling for that underage Lolita, Kitty Pryde. Then he dies. And then, suddenly, he comes back to life and she’s of age! They bump legal uglies and everything is coming up Colossus! Until, you know, Ord shows up with a giant space bullet pointed at Earth and Kitty Pryde has to phase into it and ride it into deep space to save all of us. Yup. Joss Whedon has made a career out of cockblocking and then killing off your favorite characters in everything he touches (see: every girl Xander ever got involved with).
Oh, yeah, plus this book gave us Abbie Brand and S.W.O.R.D. (which is kinda cool) and features art by John Cassaday and Simone Bianchi that is just fucking gorgeous. Now, with Warren Ellis at the helm and the announcement of a few more Astonishing titles, I’m curious to see where they take this from here.
I’m not really much of a fan of Image Comics. I’m not sure if it’s just the stigma that comes with the name (and, yes, I’ll admit that Liefeld’s name does subconsciously affect my opinion) but I just can’t get into it. I’m sorry. Get over it.
Now that I have that out of the way, let’s discuss Invincible. The story of a young man who develops superpowers and decides to use it for the good of mankind yadda yadda nothing new. So what sets it apart exactly? Well, for one, our main character (conveniently named Invincible) has some, well, let’s say family issues with his father, fellow super-being Omni-Man. Pair that with his kid brother’s budding powers, dealing with his girlfriend/classmate/former superhero partner, and the government jerking him around, it is actually a very compelling superhero story. Needless to say, it’s a far cry from the other stuff on Image’s line-up. So far.
Why do I say this? Well, Invincible has all ready had a crossover with Savage Dragon, Astounding Wolf-Man, and Brit (which, might I add, was done surprisingly well). With Invincible #60, they’ve decided to throw Spawn, Witchblade, and Pitt (oh, Pitt) into the mix and, well, that’s where I get a bit dodgy. I can’t bring myself to read Image United but here’s hoping that it doesn’t turn a great book like Invincible into just another Image title.
Partner. Young ward. Faithful chum. Whatever you want to call them, sidekicks got the backs of pretty much all of your favorite comic book characters. Without them, who will your villain kidnap and use as bait to lure you into a deathtrap and then pull your ass out of said deathtrap just in the overdramatic nick of time? Nobody, that’s who. Besides, it’s the dynamic between hero and sidekick that sometimes makes or breaks a book. After much consideration, I present to you, the best of the best’s best sidekicks.
(10) Zook – Oh, Zook. He was one of those unfortunate weird Silver Age cutesy characters that kept popping up in everybody’s books. Glued to the side of Martian Manhunter for a while, Zook was an orange monkey-dog hybrid with antennae and Pete Wentz’s haircut (which I will from here on out dub the Zook). He could change his temperature, read minds, shape-shift (sort of), and speak in annoying baby talk. And then he was gone. Not killed off, not really written out of continuity, just gone. And, you know, maybe that was for the better.
(9) Kid Marvelman/Miracleman – Kid Marvelman fought bravely alongside Marvelman and Young Marvelman during the old Fawcett Comics runs from 1954 to 1963, one of the greatest Golden Age sidekicks of all. You know, until Alan Moore got his hands on him, made all of the previous adventures virtual reality scenarios, had Kid Marvelman become a crazed business tycoon, and had him pretty much destroy the United Kingdom.
(8) Dum Dum Dugan – Nick Fury’s right hand man (and pretty much the only person on this list old enough to grow facial hair), Dum Dum was a force to be reckoned with. When he isn’t heading S.H.I.E.L.D.’s anti-Godzilla squad (yes, that Godzilla), he helps keep track of mutant affairs. Even after Fury left S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dugan had to serve under Maria Hill, he ended up helping out Fury’s Secret Warriors. Now, that’s dedication.
(7) Snapper Carr – Before being a Checkmate big shot and being able to teleport, “Snapper” Carr was just a kid who talked funny and snapped his fingers a lot. Then, after he helped the JLA figure out that you could beat Starro with lime, he became the little mascot around the Happy Harbor HQ. He even got his own one-shot in the form of Final Crisis: Resist, was the hero of this year’s Justice League of America annual, and fucked Cheetah. A lot.
(6) Rick Jones – Marvel’s answer to Snapper, Rick was the teenager who drove out into the New Mexico bomb range and, albeit inadvertantly, created the Incredible Hulk. Realizing that his acting like a little shithead was the cause of it all, he stuck to Bruce Banner’s side. Later, he created a ham radio ring called the Teen Brigade that, through a ridiculous series of events, helped create the first-generation Avengers. He ended up taking the Bucky mantle for a time and also being the teenage sidekick to Captain Marvel until, in a delicious twist of irony, he was dumped into a bunch of chemicals and became what I call a were-Hulk (human in the daytime, Hulk after dark).
(5) Fallout Boy – Wait a minute, does this character even count? Hell yeah, he does. Backing up the hilariously inept Radioactive Man in both the Simpson’s universe and his real life eponymous Bongo Comics title, Fallout Boy runs around Zenith City protecting it from parodies of DC and Marvel supervillains. Plus, I still can’t help but laugh every time I think of Mickey Rooney rocking Milhouse’s costume. Jiminy jillickers!
(4) Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog – Man, I remember plopping down in front of the TV when I was a kid and watching old episodes of the Superfriends. Thing was, they didn’t really serve a purpose aside from comic relief, so they were promptly replaced by the Wonder Twins. But fear not! In Geoff Johns’ run on Teen Titans, he brought all three of them back to mind the Titans Tower! Except, you know, Wonderdog was possessed by a demon and ripped out Marvin’s throat and put Wendy in a coma. Comic relief, indeed!
(3) Armor – The aptly named Armor got promoted to full X-Man when the team found itself hijacked and well on it’s way to the Breakworld with Abigail Brand. Sure, Armor’s part of the team as a whole, but what are the X-Men without a teen girl sidekick for Wolverine? (Which sounds really screwy now that I think about it…) First there was Rogue, then Jubilee, X-23, and now, Armor. She back-sasses Mister Logan just enough, and to date, the only substance that can penetrate Armor’s mutant armor-stuff is adamantium. Which ALSO sounds wrong. She’s a good sidekick, OK? He’s a surprisingly good teacher, OK? STOP BEING RUINERS.
(2) Jackdaw – He’s an elf sent from another dimension sent by Merlin (yes, that Merlin) to assist Captain Britain as he fights to save an alternate reality Britain from the all powerful member of Parliament, Mad Jim Jaspers. He’s able to jump between realities, but unfortunately ends up getting blown in half by the Fury and dies in Captain Britain’s arms. In life, he spent most of his time running around drunk as hell, a concept High Five! can definitely get behind.
(1) Bucky Barnes – Ignore his ridiculous name, Bucky is a total badass. After punching Nazis in the face during World War II, Bucky was presumed dead after a plane he was on exploded. His death was pretty much the one thing that influenced other Marvel heroes not to get kid sidekicks, since dead kids are kinda depressing. He stayed dead for almost 40 years until he was brought back as a Russian spy, went crazy, and took over the Captain America mantle after Steve Rogers was gunned down. As to what he will do after Captain America: Reborn finishes, time will tell.
Sometimes comics make us cry. Here are the top ten comic moments that made Maggie sob, Jonny bleary-eyed, and set ole Rob a-drinkin. These are pretty much ranked in order of how hard Maggie cried. Except one, but she’ll never admit which one.
(10) Archie & Veronica’s Wedding – Maggie: SHUT UP. This issue will make 99% of women cry like babies, so just -HEY! SHUT UP!
(9) Beak Beats Beast – Maggie: Cassandra Nova, that twisted, sick bitch, mind controls poor, confused Beak into beating the shit out of his mentor and bestest buddy, Beast. WITH A BASEBALL BAT. No matter how hard he tries, Beak can’t stop beating the good doctor, apologizing to him and crying the whole time. Man, imagine being forced to beat the shit out of your childhood hero.
(8) Astounding Wolf Man’s Wife, Murdered – Maggie: The weeping moment here was less the murder itself than the fact that Gary was blamed for the murder. Frak, the ONE GUY you trust to help you deal with your lycanthropy (who happens to be a vampire) up and chomps your wife. Then you get framed for it and your ONLY daughter hates you. You also lose your fortune and your home. But man, when Gary didn’t even de-wolf and cradled his dead wife in his arms and shrieked, jeez.
(7) Reddy Loses His Arm – Maggie: The Red Tornado becomes human, makes real hot sexytime with his wife, truly hugs his kid for the first time – it’s great. Then he gets into a fight with Solomon Grundy, who rips off his arm, practically killing him. While this is going on, his wife has to watch helplessly through an unbreachable portal. I didn’t know what my worst nightmare was until I read this. (Well, until I saw that one episode of Battlestar where Boomer, well, you know, with Helo.)
(6) Tim Drake’s Father, Murdered – Rob: Pretty much the entirety of Identity Crisis could fit in this post (Ronnie & Sue!) but, when you think about it, nothing is as tragic as the death of Jack Drake. Tim was the only Robin who actually had some family left and that was all taken away from him when Jean Loring sent the original Captain Boomerang to attack. Despite getting shot numerous times, Captain Boomerang managed to throw a boomerang straight into Jacks’ chest, killing him. All the while, Tim is listening in on his dad over Oracle’s frequency, unable to get there in time. OOF.
(5) Black Canary, Tortured – Rob: Oliver Queen had never killed anybody before. That was before he and Dinah moved up to Seattle, Washington and ended up taking up their own little projects, hers being trying to break up a drug ring. That’s before Ollie happens to hear that the head of the drug cartel was found dead and that he still hadn’t seen from Dinah. When he tracks her down, he finds her strung up, beaten to a pulp, bleeding profusely, nearly naked, and being threatened by a man with a knife. If that image isn’t heartbreaking enough, the only thing she can say to him while Ollie holds her near lifeless body? “Oliver, sorry I missed your birthday.”
(4) Buddy Finds His Family, Murdered – Jonny: As a man there are certain survival instincts that nature puts in us (by the way I’m a man). Call it God, call it nature; we’re hardwired to protect our “zone” with our lives. Obviously women do this too, but for them it’s a much more holistic experience. Men, we want to fucking DOMINATE and OBLITERATE any perceived threat. We won’t get into the psychology of this. If you’re a dude you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re a woman you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Buddy Baker. He is one of the few, if any, super heroes who had a family integral to his story rather than some minor aspect of his background. Ellen, Cliff, Maxine. I still know the names of Buddy’s family, and as a man who was months away from getting married when I read this comic it was completely devastating to see Buddy’s family sprawled on the ground of his own home and lying in their own blood. This was all the more poignant because this wasn’t just a casualty of some war or what have you. This represented a fundamental failure on Buddy’s part. He chose to follow his dream and be a superhero, and while he was out with HIS dream, the family that he was supposed to protect with his LIFE was butchered in his OWN HOME. As a man I cannot possibly think of a more horrific scene to come home to, and this was the most gut-wrenching piece of literature I’ve ever read.
(3) Kitty & Colussus in Astonishing X-Men – Maggie: So Kitty phases through about a million feet of metal to find presumed-dead for years Peter Rasputin captured like a lab rat. Imagine finding your long dead first love alive and well. She lands right in front of him when she drops into the sub-basement, he runs through her, she puts her hand to her heart. And then! They get together and it’s adorable. But then Kitty phases a giant bullet through the Earth, saving the world, and Peter loses her again. Fuck. I’m getting upset just typing this.
(2) Snow Sends Ghost Away – Maggie: Snow & Bigby’s zephyr of a seventh child is a bit, um, special needs. Snow didn’t even know Ghost existed until Frau Totenkinder dropped the hint, but by the time Snow figured it out, it was too late, Ghost was wanted for murder. Snow sits alone speaking to her immaterial child, tells him to go, far, far from here and find his exiled Daddy. She bursts into tears. *I* burst into tears.
(1) Coast City Solidarity – Maggie: So at the behest of Cyborg Superman, Mongul completely destroyed the place, along with nearly all of it’s seven million residents. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s champion, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, freaks out in the wake of the destruction, gets possesed by Parallax AND the Spectre and then (mostly) dies. But once he comes back to life, he wants his city back. Coast City is rebuilt, but after the destruction, no one wants to live there. During the Sinestro Corps War, Coast City is under threat yet again but just when the worst is about to happen and Hal himself has almost given up? Thousands of tiny green lights (shit, I’m getting choked up) start shining through the sparsely populated Coast City. Hal ends up kicking Sinestro’s ass over the rooftops of Coast City, which is reborn as “The City Without Fear.” Aaand I’m officially verklempt again.
Add yours in the comments!
Allright, so I caught Rorschach in the background the first time around, but I didn’t recognize 1979 Movie Captain America until I re-read “Gifted” today. And I only recognized him because the dude who played the part was signing autographs at Long Beach Comic Con last weekend. Got me thinking, anyone recognize any of the other background folks in this panel? Seems to me that if 2 of the 6 are referencing something, the other 4 might be too. Click to embiggen and get to it!
Also, Batwoman cameoed in Cry for Justice #4! I wonder if she was there for a specific reason or if this was just a fun little cameo. We’re pretty sure we saw her chillin’ on a gargoyle eavesdropping on Our Heroes earlier in the book.
I love Abigail Brand. I’ve wanted to dye my hair green ever since she first showed up during Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run as the head of S.W.O.R.D. – the CIA to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s FBI – with her alien-green hair and sweet sunglasses.
Whedon’s golden-touch when it comes to kick ass female characters was turned to eleven when he created Abby. S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), headquartered on an orbital space station, deals with alien threats to Earth and Abby’s in charge. It’s kind of like if Fox Mulder had Dana Scully’s anatomy and got to chill out on the JLA Watchtower. From the word go, Abby was her own woman – a lot of second and third string characters in the Marvel U don’t really stand up on their own because they were created to fit a team dynamic, but Abby blows that all to hell. Homegirl’s saved the world from countless alien threats – she even snuck on board a Skrull ship during the invasion and killed every single Skrull on board by her damned self.
And she’s a good shot too, she targeted a cannon on a Ghost Box, FROM SPACE, and saved the world from yet another interdimensional invasion.
She’s got good taste in men; she’s dating Beast. Who, while covered in blue fur, is actually a human, so everyone just calm down. Brand herself is half alien, and apparently her father was a big blue thing too, so Beast’s appearance doesn’t phase her one bit. Her half-alien heritage has given her some sweet powers of her own; she can generate heat and speak in alien languages no other human could physically vocalize. It’s about damn time Beast got a real AWESOME girlfriend. (Watching him leap to her rescue while her escape pod plummeted to earth in this week’s Astonishing X-Men was awesome – “I mean, I’ve lost girlfriends before, but losing one to a ballistic re-entry in half a spaceship is just going to seem gauche when people ask.”)
This is a woman who can kill scads of Skrulls, cry when she sees the destruction they’ve wrought, then turn around and fuck their shit up even more. Abby can be gruff, but she’s doing Nick Fury’s job on a galactic scale, you’d be a bit cantankerous too!
As director of S.W.O.R.D., Abby is basically on constant Galactus watch. I feel safer already. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of her in Spider-Woman and I can’t freakin’ wait for S.W.O.R.D. #1, starring Brand, Lockheed, and Beast. Now I just need to figure out who I’m going to commission my “Abigail Brand, Agent of S.W.O.R.D.” classic Steranko-style Nick Fury cover mock up from. It’s gonna rule.
So your girlfriend/husband/best friend/sister/mom/wife/brother isn’t into comics? Bummer. High Five! is here to help!
I’ll kick this series off with an obvious one. Let’s say you are a gigantic Grant Morrison fan. Your girlfriend, as nerdy and awesome as she is, doesn’t like comics. Well, she thinks she doesn’t like comics. This post assumes that if you’re reading High Five! and you’ve got a girlfriend, she is probably at least a little geeky, not a classless woo-girl ninny.
Did she like Buffy? That makes it easier. Go pick up the first trade paperback of Buffy Season 8, The Long Way Home. Spend a month or two rewatching the ENTIRE series with her (If she wasn’t into Buffy before, she will be now. You may have to watch Angel as well, for maximum effect). When she goes into withdrawal after watching the series finale, whip that book out and say lovingly “Do you miss them already? Good thing I have this swell COMIC BOOK by JOSS WHEDON which continues the adventures of the fictional characters you’re hopelessly attached to! I got it for you because I LOVE YOU!”
Once she catches up on those, go pick up Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. Oh snap, your girlfriend is reading super-hero comics. When she finishes Astonishing, she’ll want to read New X-Men, to know what was going on BEFORE Astonishing. So go buy Grant Morrison’s New X-Men.
Now your girlfriend is reading GRANT MORRISON. Hot. From there you can get her reading Animal Man, Doom Patrol, We3, or JLA. I suggest keeping her away from The Invisibles at first, just to be on the safe side.
This whole process should snowball until your girlfriend is spending just as much money as you on Wednesdays!
Recap: Buffy/Angel – Buffy Season 8 – Whedon X-Men – Morrison X-Men – other Morrison books.
Next Week: Your Mom.