X-MEN – BLUE & GOLD / WEAPON X / OLD MAN LOGAN / HAL JORDAN / BLACK PANTHER [Reviews]: “Patience isn’t my strongest suit.”
With X-Men Gold, we witness a return to formula of sorts within the X-Men universe. A, sort of, classic roster (Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, Storm, and Rachel Grey), a public thats fearful of the “threat” of mutantkind, and a softball game in typical fashion all harken back to the days of Chris Claremont. Thus far, the new story is simple: the X-Men feel far removed from their origins, setting out to prove–once again–just what they stand for, and that they can easily be seen in the same vein as the Champions or Avengers. Writer Marc Guggenheim (Arrow TV show) allows the characters to explore their cyclical natures and come to terms with the mistakes they’ve made in the past and their status quo now.
The comic works very well when focusing on, the now leader, Kitty Pryde. Her character’s growth has been a truly novel concept, considering her progress from the once newbie youthful X-men to the now seasoned veteran. And not only has she grown, but so has her relationships with characters like Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus (the two evenshare a pretty creepy relationship moment). The artwork by Ardian Syaf (Batgirl) does a great job at harkening back to the ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia of the series’ past. Reminiscent of the work by Jim Lee, it does a great job at hitting its mark and giving the book a freshness that pops off the page…for all the wrong reasons.
OK. How do we even jump into this? Syaf, the Indonesian illustrator of this issue, layered a few coded references to the Quran in the backgrounds of a few panels. Cool, right? Except that when it was determined that the references were anti-Semitic and Syaf openly supported Muslim right wing political organizers in Indonesia, Marvel promptly fired him. Ultimately, the controversy proved to be less about the political messages Syaf included, and more about the charged political context they were launched into and the globalized product that mainstream comics have become.
The references themselves were so subtle that we wouldn’t blame anyone for missing them. But for instance, in the baseball scene, Colossus is wearing a shirt that reads “QS 5:51”, which refers to Surah 5, verse 51, a pretty controversial passage of the Quran. We get it; certain passages in all the religious books of the past can be extremely controversial. But what exactly does this one mean? Well, roughly it means “Take not the Jews and the Christians as leaders/advisors.” Thats very interesting considering that the character of Kitty Pryde is Jewish. Which brings us back to another offense. In an earlier panel of the comic, Kitty Pryde is seen partially obscuring a street sign that reads “Jewelry”, which with her head blocking most of the sign it reads “jew” instead.
When confronted with these allegations Syaf sought to downplay the significance of his easter eggs, writing that the numbers stood for justice and love. However, it quickly became apparent that Syaf is indeed an active supporter of hardline conservative Muslim groups in Indonesia when he posted a selfie of himself meeting with the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front. While claiming he was not an anti-Semite to Indonesian newspaper Jawa Pos, he nevertheless added: “Marvel is owned by Disney. When Jews are offended, there is no mercy.”
Yeah.. not cool. And before anyone jumps in with the reason we’re having an issue is because of its ties to the Quran or Islam, that’s absolutely not the case. We at GodHatesGeeks respect whatever religion, entity, or deity you chose to worship. But once you cross the line and spout hate and fear, then that’s where the issues lies. In a universal medium like Comics, there is no room for that shit. We are all Geeks who come together to enjoy the medium. We come from all walks of life. And any person who works in this field to try — and attempts to separate us by spreading hate — can just go fuck themselves. I speak for all of us when I say rest in peace to Syaf’s career, you will never, and rightfully so, work in mainstream comics again. (Regardless, the comic itself deserves… 3.5/5 Disgraced Qurans/Bibles.)
If you’re like me, your first exposure to the X-Men very well might have been the 90s cartoon. If so, you have a very specific expectation when it comes to the X-Men. That sometimes makes the movies and other comic runs difficult to get into. X-Men Blue #1, from the prolific hand of Cullen Bunn (Harrow County) and Marvel art stalwart Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine) — though a bit riddled with some of the standard, “Where does this fit in?” business that goes along with superhero comics — feels very much in the spirit of that beloved cartoon. But it also feels like it intersects nicely with what we’ve come to love in the movies. With the All-New X-Men making a return (for better or worse), it’s a classic looking team with classic fun thanks to Bunn. And there is a sweet shot of Juggernaut. Worth your time, X-Men fans. 4/5 Bibles.
God, is it nice to read anything to do with Logan — especially if Greg Pak (Batman/Superman) is writing him. There’s nothing much to see that’s all too unfamiliar here; Logan quietly internally monologuing, a bub here, a SNIKT there– it’s all the things we’ve come to love about the character. “The War is Never Over” is something you could hear him say in his gruff, slightly Canadian internal voice.
The plot is simple and straight forward enough, though not exactly original. Shady characters round up former Weapon X projects for some reason, to maybe harvest their DNA/Powers/Essence/whatever for nefarious purposes; in the process creating super cyborgs with five Adamantium claws (a la Deathstrike) bent on killing/capturing Wolverine and the rest of his peers. This first issue is familiar in many ways, but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s like the old jacket in the closet that you throw on when the weather first turns cold and you remember how it fit just perfectly. Pak knows these characters, knows his audience, and knows how to write Wolverine and his Team X compatriots well. Great start to the series, and I will most assuredly be picking up the rest of it. 4.75/5 Adamantium Claw Sliced Bibles.
Alrighty then, bub, open up a fresh cold beer, pop those imaginary claws and get ready to SNIKT your way through Jeff Lemire and Eric Nguyen’s “Past Lives” storyline, which sees a tricked Logan–instead of being sent to the future to save Banner-baby from the now classic Old Man Logan–get flung into his past, going through some pivotal moments in his life. Lemire’s (Bloodshot Reborn) opening salvo takes Logan from the War of 1812 to the Weapon X Project to his first battle with the Hulk. It’s interesting to see the old James Howlett having to really work at thinking about his history.
Nguyen’s (X) art is almost Jae Lee-esque, though a tad cleaner with brighter colors. While 4-5 other artists would’ve come to mind on OML, seeing Logan in his old costumes (while looking almost self-reflective on his life in this post-pop culture style) is absolutely beautiful. Put it this way: If not for the insane cost of comics today I would actually ask that this would be longer. I WANT MORE!! 4.5/5 Slashed-Up Bibles.
It’s kind of curious that Hal gets first billing in this book when, at least in this issue, time is shared with all our favorite Lanterns, and then some. In fact, the big underlying theme in the whole issue is working together; it highlights the Greens and Yellows coming together as the Yellow Lanterns are setting up a battery to make camp where the Greens usually set up shop. It’s the 18th book, but writer Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar) does a good job at catching us up on why everything is happening how it’s happening– save for the existence of Kyle, Jon, Hal, and Guy as the same colored Lantern all on the same side.
The issue is pretty much a set-up for the most part. Space Ape and Gorin-Sunn start the story off on a routine patrol, reconciling their having to work together, when they get attacked by an anomaly on an abandoned planet. After that we cut away to seeing the Yellows and Greens pretty much hashing out the same conflict, albeit with more flashy fisticuffs when a fight breaks out, that are entertaining thanks to the art by Dexter Vines and V Ken Marion. Then, as the action gets going, another anomaly appearing at the Green Lantern HQ in the form of Rip Hunter foretelling the temporal erasure of the Lanterns, the issue closes with Rip being shown to have a ring. It’s quite a setup of an arc, but a little deflated as a singular issue — save for some resolution within the intra conflict of the Lanterns. If you’re looking to start another adventure with your favorite space cops this might be a good jumping on point, but maybe wait until right before the next issue’s release. 3.5/5 Bibles.
Ya gotta call it supa-commendable when
Ta-Nehisi and Papa Lee duo up to
Make sum comic-stupendable
Gonna find yaself in a state of
MacArthur Fellows “Genius Grant” recipient, Ta-Nehisi Coates, extends his literary oeuvre even deeper within the comic matrix, in Marvel’s Black Panther & The Crew #1. Let’s break this review down into a brief synopsis that revolves around four different, yet interlinking crews: Misty Knight, Detective, with a bionic arm; Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Munroe, controls the weather; Black Panther, a.k.a. King T’Challa, of Wakanda; Luke Cage, a.k.a. Power Man, with the bulletproof skin; Manifold, a.k.a. Eden Fesi, survivalist and teleporter. Misty Knight (Harlemite and former NYPD detective) is a formidable amalgam of 1970s Blaxploitation film heroines like Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson, with added Stark Tech augmentation that further amplifies her martial arts pain-delivery game. The heart of soul of the team, she brings the gravitas to the wheelhouse here.
The First Crusade – Protectors of Harlem: The Lynx, a.k.a. Ezra Keith, the brains; Flare, the flamethrower; Brawl, the tank; The Gates, the sorceress; Gloss, the ethereal. Rising up in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, in 1950s Harlem, New York, The First Crusade consisted of a conglomeration of Silver Age super heroes, who convened to take on and eliminate criminal eliminates from their community. A rich history that will intersect with Black Panther & The Crew. The Crew – Protectors of Little Mogadishu: War Machine, a.k.a. James Rhodes; White Tiger, a.k.a. Kevin “Kasper” Cole; Justice, a.k.a. Josiah X; Junta, a.k.a. Manuel Diego Armand Vicente. A prior assemblage of Marvel men who had a brief run as second-generation Harlem heroes, circa 2003-2004, with a seven-issue run; by Christopher Priest and Joe Bennett. With Black Panther & The Crew #1 referencing The First Crusade, you wanna bet that this former Crew will team up with BP & The C, sometime soon???
The Marvel Crew: Coates (Black Panther), Linguistics; Butch Guice (Captain America), Renderings; Scott Hanna (Spider Man), Inscriptions; Dan Brown (Ghost Rider), Pigmentations; The progenitor powerhouse assembled to disseminate this series, expanding the Marvel pantheon beyond its parameters of a decades-old Eurocentric paradigm, wherein universal themes of imperialism, crime, classism, and gentrification, will be seen through the experiences of multi-generational super human groups. 4.25/5 Knights Cruising In Harlem Control.