Uncanny X-Men #600
As an ending to the now months old Bendis era, this is firmly… adequate. The cryptic and open-ended resolution in terms of Beast is frustrating, not least because I’m pretty sure the “Trial of Hank McCoy” was teased for over a year before coming to virtually nothing, and because there’s something unsatisfyng about putting a character in a position like this and then dropping him for another writer. It never leads to a good resolution. Add the fact that there was zero reason to hold this to fucking November and you have a recipe for a book I kind of scowl at and then go “well, glad I’m not following the X-Books anymore.”
As for the Iceman stuff, sure, OK, I guess it’s nice to have a gay character in the X-Books that are being consciously pushed to the edges of Marvel for licensing reasons. I’m sure it’ll mean a lot to all the kids who don’t actually read comics and live in a media world where coming out stories are an increasingly small part of queer narratives. Let’s be sure to take a nice victory lap by driving the price of the comic up reprinting a shitty and barely relevant thirty-five year old story in the back because we’re so proud of ourselves.
Also, the story of how Cyclops got from here to the status quo at the start of Secret Wars? Literally more interesting than anything in this comic. And apparently not to be told. Brilliant.
A weaker issue, featuring what, chronologically, must have been one of Gaiman’s earliest uses of the “embed a prose story within his main story” trick. In this case it’s an overtly children’s story take on some sci-fi concepts that ends up revealing the ways in which the Miracleman mythos is impoverished more than it actually works, and takes this book back in the direction of “historical curiosity” and away from “fascinating.” This is surely a one-issue blip, and I’m terribly curious to see Evelyn Cream on the cover for next month, but nevertheless, a bit of a bum note.
Contest of Champions #2
Removed from the financial abuse that was its launch week, this is a fun and frothily madcap fight book that I can already tell I’m going to completely lose the plot of, although Ewing is usually reliable for reminding me issue-to-issue, so that should still work out. Especually because we have whole diagrams on the recap page. And I have faith that this is going to take some altogether more interesting turns as it goes on, so I’m content to stick around, just because Al Ewing on a big interdimensional punching book really is fun. Do be sure to stop back tomorrow, by the way, for the weekly Doctor Who podcast, where Ewing is this week’s guest, and where there’s a nice meaty interview about comics on the back half, including loads of talk about this book.
Invincible Iron Man #3
This is continuing to pick up nicely, to where I’m going to go ahead and add it to my pulls, especially because I admit to being terribly curious what Mary Jane is going to be doing in this book. I feel totally lost on Madame Masque and her history and really could use some sort of recap (was this in #1? #1 was very boring), but I can at least appreciate this story on its own merits. Bit concerned that Amara Perera is an underdeveloped fantasy of a character as opposed to someone with any depth. But I have to admit, I enjoyed the two splash pages of dialogue, which, coming in a row, feel like a glorious self-parody of Bendis. So a fun book, on the whole.
Solid stuff as this arc moves towards its climax. Lazarus is consistently a ending-leaning slow burn, and we’re finally getting to the payoff part of this. As ever I have no idea what’s going in large swaths of it, but Rucka’s skill at situating the reader in a scene is such that, for instance, even though I don’t recall who Arthur is and don’t know how much of the subtext of his conversation with Joanna I’m actually supposed to be able to see through, the conversation remains gripping. Similarly, I have no real idea what’s going on with Gabriel Mason, who he is, or what he’s supposedly doing but… no, actually, that one did completely lose me, and in a kind of unsatisfying way. Still, absoluetly enthralling.
James Bond 007 #1
It’s Warren Ellis writing James Bond. And specifically the novel version, although he keeps some cinematic touches in place, including a ten page action sequence that’s basically wordless save for a single page. Although the result of that is that the book proper is only a twelve-pager of setup. Still, watching Ellis do his take on the standard Bond tropes with ruthless proficiency is just inherently a pleasure, even if the “we’re going to put Bond in a situation where he has no gun next issue” setup is ridiculously transparent. I mean, seriously, Ellis on Bond doesn’t have to actually be good to be excellent, you know?