What are you reading?

Discuss your favorite comics, comic heroes, comic companies. Anything comics. Did we mention comics?
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Samael13
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What are you reading?

Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:32 pm

(Reviving this thread after the Great Snap)

For the last year or two, I've been doing a reread of Uncanny X-Men starting with Giant Size and going forward (planning to stop with Age of Apocalypse) using the Masteworks and Omnis (Right now, that means I'm really only missing like 6 issues of the main series. One more Masterwork will give me a complete run of the eras I care about!). I just finished the Fall of the Mutants omnibus.

My thoughts:
I liked this less than I expected to, honestly. This is the second big Marvel Mutant Crossover event, but, unlike Mutant Massacre, there's *very* little overlap in the stories, here. This is a crossover more in tone or theme than in action, so it feels more like reading three different stories that just happened to be slapped in the same book. In the first section X-Factor are dealing with the realization that Hodge might, in fact, be a bigot working against them. Shocking. Certainly nobody saw *that* coming. Apocalypse makes his move and reveals the Four Horseman, including Angel's turn into Archangel. These are probably the strongest issues, by far. We see more of Cyclops' struggle with how he treated Maddie and his missing son, and Jean and Cyke try to figure out what their status quo is (which, sure, is a little/lot melodramatic at times, but, hey, it's comics). I kind of love the Right, as villains. While it's super obvious that Hodge is evil far before this arc, it's still a pretty effective plot point, and the Right soldiers are great designs, with their weird armor and the smiley faces. I never followed X-Factor that much during this era, so a lot of these issues are new to me, but they're pretty solid.

The second section deals with the X-Men, who end up divided following the Mutant Massacre. They believe that the Mauraders are still out to get them (which is true), so Storm heads out looking for Forge to get her powers back while Wolverine takes over leading the remaining X-Men (Longshot and Dazzler, who join the team at some point off panel; Betsy Braddock, who ended up joining the team after Sabertooth's attack on the mansion, but who apparently was in Mojoworld at some point? Again, off panel in some other book not contained in these collections; Rogue; Havok, who joins up after the team openly talks about how they might have to kill him when he comes to them to warn them about a Brood ship but then never talks to them about it, oops; and Madelyn Prior, who joins the team in this volume when the X-Men rescue her from the Marauders. At the start of this volume, Colossus is still recovering from his paralysis, Kitty is slowly regaining her physical form, and Nightcrawler, sadly, is still in a coma, all injuries related to the Mutant Massacre). The X-Men issues mostly have them kind of wandering around a bit, getting to know each other, fighting the Mauraders again, and, eventually, setting out looking for Storm, before facing The Adversary. While these issues will directly lead to the X-Men ending up over in the Outback (probably my favorite era of X-Men?), reading these now feels a little disjointed. They're not bad, but the story isn't as tightly paced as the X-Factor issues, and the cast don't totally mesh during this arc. The disconnect between X-Factor and X-men feels especially weird during this arc; Havok and Cyclop's wife, Maddy, are bouncing around with the X-Men, Wolverine *thinks* Jean Grey might be back, having detected her scent a couple of times during the Fall of the Mutants, but none of the X-Men think to check in with X-Factor during that event or this one? It's a little weird. Overall, the X-Men section isn't bad, but the Storm/Adversary sections are *SO* verbose, and it feels very out of character how easily the Adversary is able to manipulate Storm to his ends (also, the kiss is weird...). There are *zero* major plot connections between X-Men and X-Factor, story-wise. As far as I can tell, the X-Men don't know anything about what's happening in New York and don't realize that Apocalypse even exists, and X-Factor clearly have no idea that the X-Men are facing an ancient deity or that Maddie is still alive.

Lastly, the New Mutants end up disobeying Magneto and heading out to tackle the Ani-Mater (eye roll). These were, to me, some of the weakest issues. Maybe it's because I never grew up with the New Mutants, but I found the artwork *extremely* off-putting. These issues do connect more directly with the X-Factor issues: some of the secondary characters like Boom Boom show up in both titles, the Right soldiers kidnapping started in X-Factor carries over to the New Mutants, and Hodge, having revealed himself as a villain in X-Factor, shows up in New Mutants as the person pulling Ani-Mater's strings, and the team has to stop him. The ensuing battle results in his apparent demise when his plane goes down (which is a little anti-climatic, but, also, this is clearly not the last we see of Hodge), but the general arc here is pretty silly. Sam takes alien drugs and the team has to save him from being killed by aliens who are jealous that Lila Cheny is interested in him? Poor Doug gets killed in a spectacularly silly scene that is supposed to be dramatic, but nobody notices until later. Magneto ends up looking like an actual lunatic, despite more or less being right. I didn't love this.

The other tie-in issues are mostly bad. The Captain America and Hulk issues don't add anything to the arc, really. At least the Hulk issue gives us a good Wolverine/Hulk fight and leaves Wolverine feeling conflicted about what went down, but the Cap issue is just kind of bad. The Power Pack issue is fine, but, again, doesn't actually add anything, and I mostly find them kind of annoying. The Daredevil issue deals with the bedlam that breaks out in Hell's Kitchen as a result of the events in X-Factor, which is kind of neat, but, again, there's just not much direct connection to the larger story, so having it here feels like padding, and it really messes with how long this event is going on. The Daredevil issue makes it seem like the story arc takes much longer than it actually does. The fight with Apocalypse can't have taken more than an hour and is clearly set in a single night, but the Daredevil issue has almost complete societal breakdown and people joining encampments and forming alliances that make it seem like things have been happening for weeks or something. It's weird.

One thing that was kind of neat but that basically *never* comes back up again: this is probably the first and only time the X-Men and X-Factor are unambiguously seen as heroes by the larger world. X-Factor get a freaking *parade* through NYC, and the X-Men are followed around by an NPR reporter and end up being broadcast across the world as they sacrifice their lives to save the world (which is, eventually, how Cyclops realizes that the random corpse the police showed him *wasn't* Maddie). Kind of a shame that the world basically immediately forgets that they were heroes, but such is the life of a mutant in the 616.

Overall: not bad, but, as often happens with these huge Omni collections, uneven. I think I'd rather have had whatever issues Longshot showed up in than the four non-Mutant titles, to be honest. I don't think they add to the story, and their inclusion ends up feeling like padding.
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Re: What are you reading?

Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:39 am

The Inferno story line is a much more tightly written and enjoyable crossover story. Mr. Sinister, the Marauders, Goblyn Queen, S'ym &Nastrih...fun stuff.
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Re: What are you reading?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:49 am

Samael13 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:32 pm
(Reviving this thread after the Great Snap)
I loved your write-up there, and I feel guilty that I have nothing meaningful to add considering how much thought you put into it.





I really feel right now like I'm just slogging through stuff rather than reading it. The new Power Rangers comics have kind of gone off the rails a bit and I'm not finding myself enjoying them as much as 'skimming' content for well-drawn fight scenes and cool ranger outfits. The Empyre event, and I saw this coming a mile away but I wanted to give it a chance, is horrible in basically every way. I'm doing the 'skimming' thing with G.I. Joe because I really WANT to enjoy that story but I got kind of lost in what the hell is going on probably ten issues ago and I just don't think I even care anymore. I hate a lot of what's going on. It seems like a lot of nostalgic lip-service like throwing Budo in background scenes, but layered over with a lot of mediocre attempts to introduce new characters and stuff. The whole 'death of Snake Eyes' being an obvious way just to move on from the book being 'The Snake Eyes Show' is just too transparent and I didn't enjoy how it was done. Just kill him and be done then. Why introduce 'girl Snake Eyes' and 'clone/not-Snake Eyes' and .. ugh. Just a mess of a comic.

I guess on the other hand.. Darth Vader's solo series is cool and bridges some gaps in a really fun, compelling way. While I don't typically enjoy comics that 'glorify the villain' - and this definitely does that in a way, I think it adds a lot to his redemption arc so it's pretty cool and the artwork is nice. And I'm enjoying Death Metal quite a bit, which is the only DC title I'm currently reading because DC lost me a long time ago and I don't know what the [email protected]#$ is going on anymore except for the stuff I know isn't really tied to other things in any meaningful way.. like Death Metal or White Knight.
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Re: What are you reading?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 7:04 am

I never gave Empyre a chance. I saw some bad reviews for it and skipped the main books. I just hate when a big two event ties directly into an unrelated series. The last two Fantastic Four issues have been Empyre-centric. I've basically skimmed them in disappointment.

Speaking of which, I loved the beginning of Slott's FF run, but I think the last arc or two have been weak. I'm thinking about dropping it.
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Re: What are you reading?

Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:28 pm

I was rereading some of the old Wolverine comics where it's basically just him out and about having weird low-key adventures and getting sucked into people's problems, and I kind of miss those kinds of stories. Like, I want a horror/crime comic based around Ghost Rider. Imagine something like a Brubaker Ghost Rider; just Johnny Blaze riding around the country tracking down criminals/solving mysteries. Maybe he's rolling through the midwest and he hears about a bunch of missing people and tracks down what's happening, or he's riding through and hears about a husband who murdered his wife and the police haven't been able to catch him yet, so it's spirit of vengeance time.

I'm a sucker for those kinds of scaled down stories, like Sandman Mystery Theatre or like The Question when it was written by O'Neil.
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Re: What are you reading?

Fri Aug 28, 2020 3:26 am

If I want to go back and read a New Mutants series, should I just start at Claremont's original run? Does it hold up?
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Re: What are you reading?

Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:15 pm

I'm probably not the best person to ask, since I didn't read it when it originally ran. I just finished the Prelude to Inferno omnibus, which, like the previous omnibus, includes a lot of New Mutants issues. Honestly, I've mostly found those issues among the weakest in these collections. The art is highly inconsistent and often kind of ugly, but also, they're just not that interesting. I know that it's a beloved comic, though, and I think there are others here who are big fans.
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Re: What are you reading?

Fri Aug 28, 2020 2:53 pm

I appreciate that. I have often struggled with Claremont's work from that era. I just found the team very endearing in the relaunch title by Hickman and Brisson and I wanted to dig a little deeper.
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Re: What are you reading?

Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:46 pm

Samael13 wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:28 pm
I was rereading some of the old Wolverine comics where it's basically just him out and about having weird low-key adventures and getting sucked into people's problems, and I kind of miss those kinds of stories. Like, I want a horror/crime comic based around Ghost Rider. Imagine something like a Brubaker Ghost Rider; just Johnny Blaze riding around the country tracking down criminals/solving mysteries. Maybe he's rolling through the midwest and he hears about a bunch of missing people and tracks down what's happening, or he's riding through and hears about a husband who murdered his wife and the police haven't been able to catch him yet, so it's spirit of vengeance time.

I'm a sucker for those kinds of scaled down stories, like Sandman Mystery Theatre or like The Question when it was written by O'Neil.
I'm the same way, and I'd actually extend that to fantasy books, too. Not everything has to be a world-ending cataclysmic event for it to be interesting.

I'd argue most of the best Punisher stories are also just character stories like you're talking about. The best Moon Knight stuff, too. Obviously, those types of stories do lend themselves better to some characters than to others. Wolverine and Ghost Rider both walk a really nice middle ground where they're powerful enough to hang with even some of the most powered-up stories, but they also totally make sense just bar-hopping and picking fights with kidnappers.

To your point, a LOT of my love for Wolverine as a character is based in his solo stuff from the '80s and '90s. While I can never really view someone like Cyclops, or even Gambit, outside of 'a member of the X-Men' - I can see Wolverine as his own character doing his own thing because he was well-represented doing that for a long time, in some of his best stories.

Isn't that also basically the beginning of the original Hearts of Darkness? Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and Punisher all get together to just fight basically a single crime?
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Re: What are you reading?

Sat Aug 29, 2020 5:07 pm

Finished the Inferno Prologue omnibus:

Picking up exactly where the Fall of the Mutants omnibus ends, this is the book that starts the outback era, having the X-Men knock heads with the Reavers and start taking the fight to the Marauders. Having helped Roma, the X-Men are now invisible to electronic detection (a trait that actually gets used cleverly to both help and hurt the team at various times), and the world at large thinks they're dead. This is also one of the more stable team lineups in a *long* time (and for a long time to come). Kitty and Nightcrawler are both officially out, having been on Muir Island when the rest of the team sacrificed themselves in Forge's Aerie. They'll soon join with Captain Britain, Rachel, and Meggan to form Excalibur (a team that will largely exist independently of the rest of Marvel's mutant books), leaving Storm leading Wolverine, Dazzler, Longshot, Psylocke (still in her Betsy form, but with the cybernetic eyes Mojo gave her), Havok, and Rogue with Madelyne Prior tagging along. X-Factor also continues along with a fairly stable core group (the original five, plus Boom Boom, Skids, Rusty, Rictor, Leech, and Artie), living in Apocalypse's sentient ship. The New Mutants, still ostensibly under Magneto's care and tutelage, do... stuff.

My thoughts:
This is definitely one of, if not my very, favorite periods for the X-Men. This is definitely the real misfit era for them. The team dynamics are always interesting: Storm's identity is still in flux as she copes with hard decisions and the losses that the team has endured. Wolverine struggles, silently, with the fear that he's losing his mind or that he may not be able to totally trust his senses after detecting Jean's scent several times (nobody having told them that Jean was found alive and well), Dazzler continues to have a very hard time with her new super hero identity and the loss of her singing career and her insecurity around her feelings for Longshot, Longshot is adapting to and learning about this new world he finds himself in, Havok and Maddy start to form a budding relationship made complicated by the fact that she's technically still Cyclop's wife, and Colossus continues to worry about his inability to control his enormous strength or to return to his human form. Rogue, ironically, is the most stable in this new setting, although that will be somewhat short lived. This X-Men part of the book opens strong with the introduction of the Reavers (described, in previews at the time, as a band of mutant cyborgs, though nothing in the actual story ever suggests that they're mutants) as they rob a bank and kidnap a banker who will later become an important character for Wolverine, when she adopts the name Tyger Tiger. The X-Men show up and just roll over the cyborg creeps, taking over their base and making it their new home. Roma gives the X-Men the Siege Perilous. We finally get the payoff from the Brood ship that we last saw waaaaaay back at the beginning of the Fall of the Mutants (it was the entire reason Havok sought out the X-Men) in a pretty solid story showing a religious figure in the X-Men universe that *doesn't* just automatically hate mutants (a nice contrast to Rev Stryker). The story does a nice job of further pushing the X-Men into uncomfortable territory and plays on their personal conflicts, and it gives us that classic Wolverine fighting off a Brood infection artwork that is, seriously, pretty sweet. These issues also see Maddy's turn beginning, as her personal demons start turning into literal demons. Her anger at Scott and her despair over her missing child result in her making a deal with a demon, leading directly to the Inferno story arc. We also get our first introduction to Genosha in a particular strong story arc that finds a depowered Wolverine and Rogue trying to escape the island, commando style. It's pretty sweet, and, obviously, Genosha will become a pretty important locale in a few years with the X-Tinction Agenda crossover. This is probably Claremont at his peak; the stories are more focused, there's a lot less of the overly melodramatic bubbles and overlays and constant repeating of what characters powers are. The stories move at a pretty good pace, and, looking back, you can see how most (not all) of the plot threads really do lead somewhere. These are definitely the highlight, for me. The artwork is pretty uniformly great in these issues, as well. A+ stuff.

X-Factor: This is my first exposure to a lot of these issues, and they're pretty solid. These issues are pretty evenly divided in their focus: Scott and Jean are wandering around looking for Scott's baby (and trying to figure out what they mean to each other). They have a tussle with Freedom Force that has Cyclops literally blast a hole through Blob's shoulder and has the two of them mop the floor with them in order to show how Angry and Badass the two of them (makes them seem a little overpowered compared to their normal power levels, but still pretty fun). While they're off baby hunting, we also get a bunch of Iceman and Beast bouncing around doing hero stuff, and the introduction of a soon forgotten villain, Infecta. Bobby exhibits his peak intellect by not noticing that *maybe* someone named Infecta is... uh... not a good person. Beast's intelligence continues to wane, but he and Trish still get along nicely. The young wards of X-Factor conspire to prevent Infecta from taking over Bobby, and then everyone comes together to fight aliens pretending to be Avengers. Archangel is flying around doing menacing things and getting revenge. The reason these issues are included is mostly for the Mr. Sinister elements; we learn a little more about him and that he's, well, sinister. Also, he's a BIG guy. Despite very little in these issues having anything to do with moving us towards Inferno, I still enjoyed these stories, and the final story gets us back to our blue furred Beast and ends his dunce days, which is nice.

New Mutants: these continue to be the weakest part of the mutant omnibuses, for me. The stories are overwrought and the artwork is, frankly, ugly. That said, they're pretty important for understanding the Inferno arc, so it's good they're here. Basically: the New Mutants continue to chafe about Magneto being their guardian and instructor. Magneto continues to work with the Hellfire Club and be angry at the New Mutants for letting Doug get killed. Magik continues to be influenced by Limbo and, ultimately, opens the portal that lets all hell loose in New York. The artists continue to have a weird obsession with drawing a bunch of early teens in their underwear. Power to the people who like it, but I resorted to skimming most of the New Mutant issues because they're just not particularly fun to read.

Other stuff in this book; there's a nice Storm solo story from Marvel Fanfare that shows a meeting between her and Mystique that sort of adds to/changes things from the previous book. There are a bunch of adverts/teasers included (the earlier mentioned reference to the Reavers being mutants, for example) that are kind of neat to see. There's a whole Mojo section dealing with how the X-Men dying ruins his profits, leading to the creation of the X-Babies (for better or worse, depending on how you feel about them). Orphan Maker and Nanny show up a few times but their whole gig isn't explained in this volume. There's a bunch of cool splash pages and covers and artwork included in the back. The mutant issues of Evolutionary War are included here, though the rest of that crossover aren't, so you'll need to buy that omni if you're particularly interested. The X-Men visit Savage Land as part of that crossover, leading to the introduction of Peter, the son of Nereel and Colossus, but Nereel hides that fact from Colossus (although it seems like Longshot knows that Peter is Colossus' son?).

Overall, a very good omnibus, if you like that era (which, obviously, I do). This really marks the start of a new era for the X-Men, and marks a major tonal shift for the team. This also marks the point where the mutant part of the 616 starts to become much more insular; future crossovers focus pretty exclusively on the mutant books (Inferno is the last major crossover to feature non-mutants, at least for a long time, and the none of those books are directly involved in the plot, they're just issues showing what those characters are doing while the city goes to hell). It's kind of fun to see how even the villains are responding to the death of the X-Men (I particularly enjoy the part where Sinister complains about how *he* wanted to be the one to kill the X-Men and that he feels cheated by their deaths). Next up, Inferno (though, sadly, not the Omnibus edition, although they FINALLY announced it's getting a reprint, apparently? Early next year. Huzzah!).
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Re: What are you reading?

Sat Aug 29, 2020 5:10 pm

KnightDamien wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:46 pm
I'd argue most of the best Punisher stories are also just character stories like you're talking about. The best Moon Knight stuff, too. Obviously, those types of stories do lend themselves better to some characters than to others. Wolverine and Ghost Rider both walk a really nice middle ground where they're powerful enough to hang with even some of the most powered-up stories, but they also totally make sense just bar-hopping and picking fights with kidnappers.
I'm not a huge Punisher fan, though that's definitely more or less how most of his stories are. I do like some of the Moon Knight stuff I've read, which focuses more on him as a street level guy (who may or may not have mental health issues).
To your point, a LOT of my love for Wolverine as a character is based in his solo stuff from the '80s and '90s. While I can never really view someone like Cyclops, or even Gambit, outside of 'a member of the X-Men' - I can see Wolverine as his own character doing his own thing because he was well-represented doing that for a long time, in some of his best stories.
Definitely! Those solo stories of his are some of the best, and really helped develop his character a lot.
Isn't that also basically the beginning of the original Hearts of Darkness? Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and Punisher all get together to just fight basically a single crime?
I think that's the one where it's all Blackheart and supernatural killing the devil or somesuch? Again, not a huge Punisher fan, though I do remember reading this when I was younger.
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Re: What are you reading?

Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:54 am

Finished Inferno (not the omnibus edition, sadly): It's... fine. I continue to dislike the New Mutants stories. I think that the weaker points of this arc are that all of the demon stuff comes across as... silly. The various buildings and inanimate objects that come to life all look like silly cartoons for some reason, even as they're drawn killing people (although it turns out they're not, I guess? Since the quartet of paranormal investigators clearly spoofing the Ghostbusters get eaten by an elevator here, but turn up alive and well a few issues after Inferno ends, to chase Jubilee as M Squad). The bones are solid; the idea that Maddie would make a deal with a demon in order to get her baby back works, although the shift to wanting to *kill* the baby feels a bit abrupt. The reveal that Sinister is behind her creation and has been manipulating things is handled pretty well, and his realization that things have spiraled out of even *his* control is great. The artwork is super inconsistent here, though *glares at New Mutants*, and the whole "demons infected with the transmode virus" bit seems unnecessary and dumb, to me. I'm not sure it ever really goes anywhere, either?

That said: the X-Men and X-Factor *FINALLY* coming together again, after such a long period spent apart is pretty solid stuff, and this was a good arc to resolve the weirdness of the plot holes left by editorial mandating Jean's return and the retcon that she wasn't really the phoenix and Scott's heel turn into abandoning his new wife and etc.

Overall, not bad, but just not quite as good as I remember it being, and I'll be glad when I get beyond the New Mutants mucking up all the crossovers (sorry New Mutant fans; I like the cast, but the execution is just... not my taste).
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Re: What are you reading?

Wed Oct 28, 2020 2:54 am

I'd never read a Conan book until Marvel reacquired the license. I didn't know I needed this in my life until now.
I've only recently discovered horror, both in TV/movies but also in comics. Red Mother is great at making me hurry past dark alleys.
Reaver has a fantastic cast of dislikable characters that have grown throughout the series, at least the ones that survived.
In the more mainstream comics, Vader's books have pretty consistently been interesting. The writers have done a great job of writing him as just a tool for the Empire, an unstoppable killing machine, but a tool.
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Re: What are you reading?

Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:40 am

Over the past year, I've been collecting X-books from my childhood.

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With the pandemic and everything going on, I've been burying myself in nostalgia.
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Re: What are you reading?

Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:34 pm

Those covers give me the hard nostalgia feelings.

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