Review Round-Up Part 2: Psychic Red Skull, X-Men in time, and Thor with an Axe

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
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by Phil Gibson

Alex got his comics reviewed earlier, now it’s my turn. This week I’m looking at a trio of second issues from the Marvel NOW! imprint: Thor: God of Thunder #2, Uncanny Avengers #2, and All-New X-men #2. Be ye warned, there may be SPOILERS ahead.

Thor: God of Thunder #2

Well, he did ask...Property of Marvel Comics

Well, he did ask… Property of Marvel Comics

I read this issue twice, because the first time I didn’t really like it. It seemed a bit superficial, especially since most of the issue is spent on one fight with very few words exchanged.

The second time through, however, I enjoyed this issue tremendously. Esad Ibic is doing a phenomenal job on the art for this series, so everything is beautiful to look at.

I wasn’t sure I like Aaron’s approach in this issue initially. Something I liked a lot about issue #1 was the juxtaposition of young, current, and old Thors’ encounters with the God Butcher.  There was little to none of that in this issue, just a young Thor with an axe fighting off a would-be God Murderer. The end of the issue, however, manages to remind the reader just different this Thor is. The God Butcher has no idea what a God of Thunder is until Thor hits him with a bolt of lightning, and it would not be the least bit surprising if that moment solidified that identity. This Thor cannot lift Mjolnir yet, and he is trying desperately to prove his worth. It’s an interesting study in the life of an immortal.

What really makes the issue interesting, however, is the readers’ lack of knowledge about the God Butcher’s motives. Thor implies that he may know what would drive a being to murder immortals, and the Butcher obviously despises the gods, but the reader is left out of the loop for now. I finished the issue wanting to know more, which may be Aaron’s entire goal since he is stuck trying to push out two issues a month. I expect #3 to be full of more story than is present here, but #2 does a good enough job to keep me reading.

Uncanny Avengers #2

Remender is killing it with this series. From the opening issue the scribe is doing what he does best, which is giving us a look behind the motives and misgivings of people drawn to a single cause. Here we start with a distraught Wolverine at the brink of giving up on Xavier’s dream, who is even more hacked off when he finds out Captain America is making a mutant team with Cyclops’ brother instead of him. Meanwhile, the incident from issue #1 ends up proving Cap’s point, that Alex Summers may be one of the only mutants who can build a bridge with the human race.

On a side note, one of the common gripes about issue #1 was that no one knew why Thor is on this team. Remender deals with that complaint in efficient fashion here, as the god of thunder at once points out the scale of the mutant-human conflict and the tragedy that the two races haven’t been able to work things out on their own. A god should not have to intervene to resolve differences between people that should not exist, and it is kind of pathetic on our part that he has to.

Scarlet Witch shows why she is more than just a mutantProperty of Marvel Comics

Scarlet Witch shows why she is more than just a mutant Property of Marvel Comics

We also get a great insight into Rogue and Scarlet Witch. With Rogue, issue #2 starts to explain why she is a great fit for this team. In addition to being incredibly resourceful with her powers, Rogue has a unique experience with being a mutant villain who became a mutant hero, while Scarlet Witch is trying to redeem herself for decimating the mutant community. Rogue’s anger at Scarlet Witch is juxtaposed against her on struggles to be accepted by the X-Men.

Speaking of the Scarlet Witch, Remender manages to cast Wanda into a light that I haven’t really seen her in before – as a mutant. She’s been an Avenger so long that you forget whose daughter she is and what race she belongs to, especially since she is responsible to decimating the mutant race. But here she is a mutant who is a little more than a mutant, as she points out. Rogue can steal her mutant abilities, but she’ll never know how to use magic, a balance that captures the Scarlet Witches’ nature perfectly.

By the way, Red Skull is scary as hell in this series. I wasn’t sold on using him as the villain in this series initially, but now, he’s the worst possible thing that could happen to the mutant community at this time –  a genocidal, maniacal bigot with the power to persuade huge groups of people to his side. The Uncanny Avengers will have their hands full in this series, and I’m absolutely thrilled about it.

All-New X-men #2

Things start to get a little nuts in All-New X-men #2
Property of Marvel Comics

I wasn’t thrilled with issue #1 of this series, but Bendis is starting to sway me a little bit more with this outing. The dialogue is still forced in certain places, and there is too much exposition, but the characters don’t take themselves quite as seriously as they did in the first issue, which is funny considering how much Beast’s little time-travelling stunt immediately results in potentially catastrophic happenings. Within the first 5 pages, young Beast finds out old Beast is probably dying, young Jean Grey knows she is dead, young Cyclops is going through an identity crisis, and young Angel doesn’t even want to know what happened to him (good call Warren). The only person not going through a total crisis is Iceman, whose future self is pretty much the same with a different coat of paint.

Most of this issue is spent with the characters in a state of chaos, which suits Bendis better than a linear events. Potentially cataclysmic events are getting made very quickly, with the present day X-Men scratching their heads to figure out what they are supposed to do.

There are some cool fanboy moments here, such as when Wolverine sees the young Jean Grey for the first time. In additional, Stuart Immonen is the perfect artist for this series. One thing I can say for Marvel NOW! is that the publishers did an excellent job matching artists with titles. I have yet to see a book with bad art (that may be because I only buy good books, but whatever).

I am growing more optimistic about this series. Hopefully Bendis doesn’t end up using some ridiculous gimmick to fix everything at the end of this arc, because I am really enjoying seeing things spin out of control.

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