Review Wrap Up Part: All-New X-Men, Thor, Hulk, and the end(?) of X-Force

Posted: December 24, 2012 in Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Phil Gibson

Merry Christmas Eve!

Both Alex and I were at a wedding last week, so reviews are running a few days behind. I had plenty on my pull list, and for the most part, I was really thrilled with what I read.

All-New X-men #3-4

We’ll start with the series I am feeling the most conflicted about at the moment. Bendis was at his best in issue #3, as he made me feel sorry for Cyclops, even after he refused to take responsibility for everything he did as the Phoenix, including murder Professor X. As I said in Episode 2 of our podcast, Cyclops is a guy who thinks like a hero but is in no position to actually be a hero at the moment. Bendis does a good job of capturing this dilemma. Scott Summers is leading his revolution and “saving” new mutants from the humans, but I’m not sure if he has any idea what his actual purpose is. The revolution people keep talking about in this series just seems like Cyclops gathering up all the new mutants and protecting them from the humans. It would be easy to say that Bendis is forgetting to define Cyclops’ purpose here, but I am interpreting the events in issue #3 as a sign that Scott really has no clue what to do with his new status as an “X-ile” (ok, that was bad) other than try to keep playing the good guy.

While issue #3 does a good job of focusing on the shortcomings of Cyclops, issue #4 is a mess. Bendis spends way too much time with dialogue here. Without action to keep things moving, the issue gets bogged down explaining how everyone is feeling about the current situation. I hope this is a fluke, because Bendis is at his worst when he gets verbose. I’m still optimistic about the series as a whole, but issue #4 made me just a little nervous.

Incredible Hulk #2

This series is just plain fun. Waid has managed to take what Mark Ruffalo started in The Avengers and use it to redefine the relationship between Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Instead of treating him as a tragic figure trying to keep his demons in check, Waid has Bruce using the Hulk to make Tony Stark finally take him seriously. The results are a few pages of fisticuffs between Hulk and Iron Man resulting in a much more equitable relationship between Tony and Bruce.

Waid does a great job of making Bruce’s approach to science novel from Tony Stark’s here. Whereas Stark uses what he know to build new things, Banner is dreaming big and then inventing the knowledge to get there. Stark lives in the world of science fact, whereas Banner lives in the world of science fiction. This makes sense, as Banner’s condition is an accident of unexplainable science, whereas Stark’s development of Iron Man was totally deliberate.

I’m really excited to see where this series is going, and I hope Waid keeps experimenting with the relationship between this new Bruce Banner and the other big shots in the Marvel Universe.

Thor: God of Thunder #3

Jason Aaron is on fire with this series. It is looking very possible that this could end up being my favorite Marvel NOW! title, and the reason is simple: Aaron isn’t afraid to write a fantasy story. As I’ve said before, this is a much more mythical Thor than we’ve seen before. Aaron reinforces this with an Iron Man appearance. Thor diminishes Stark’s ability to understand what is going on in the world of the gods, showing again that his affairs as an eternal entity are much larger than the temporal concerns of the Avengers.

We also learn just a bit more about Thor’s history with Gorr, the God Butcher. While we have no idea how, this issue tells the reader that Gorr’s rampage is somehow a direct outcome of his first encounter with Thor. Once again, Aaron isn’t giving us all the information. There is very little exposition here (Bendis should take note), just bits and pieces of history as the main plot moves on.

I can’t wait for issue #4 of this series.

Uncanny X-Force #35

My favorite series of the year is over, although it is getting a relaunch in January. I was really sad to see this lineup go after falling in love with the characters during Remender’s run. Issue #35 doesn’t give us much story, it’s more of a love letter to the readers to remind us why we enjoyed this team so much. In particular, I’m really sad this is the last time we’ll see Remender write Deadpool for a while. He underwent some serious development in this series, showing us that, beneath all the wise-cracking, there is a deeply conflicted soul trying to be a hero. Wade and Evan have a great moment in this issue, and I sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of their very brotherly relationship.

Speaking of development, Remender makes it clear that, while this is Wolverine’s team, it is Psylocke’s book. The story, from issue one, has absolutely tortured Betsy Braddock, causing her to deal with loss, guilt, and self-loathing due to the killer she has become. Remender has done a great job of reconciling her character history with her personality, and brought her to a new place. Her reward for giving up the assassin – she finally gets a partner without a dark side (you’ll see what I mean in the book).

Wolverine is also in a very different place than he was 35 issues ago. The killing finally gets to him in a big way, leaving Logan in an unsure state about his place in the world, which sets up perfectly for his spot in Remender’s Uncanny Avengers. My only concern is that the multitude of people who are writing Wolverine will fail to adjust their approach to the character to incorporate this shift (I’m thinking especially of Savage Wolverine).

Overall, the strength of this book is that it wraps up the series nicely while transitioning perfectly into Marvel NOW! We’ll see if Sam Humphries can follow up Remender with an Uncanny X-Force that is worthy of the title.

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