“Bad Preacher” Jason Bud @JasonBudArtist

In 1492 Cristobal Colon spilled Indigenous red into the ocean blue, long after settlers from Eurasia may have traversed the Bering Strait and the Vikings landed here, too… We’re talkin’ ‘bout Old Glory Land, a failing empire, born of another, founded upon the pathologies of genocide, slavery, racism, warfare, and sexism. We’re talking about a nation that has risen and fallen, and will rise and fall even more, one that will seemingly disappear altogether sometime in the near future behind a Great Barrier Wall even more preposterous than Donald Trump’s own cataracted myopia could ever envision. We’re talkin’ ‘bout Image Comics’ Undiscovered Country.

From whence came this pandemic blue virus that now causes the people of the world outside of the United States to seemingly bleed the ocean through their facially orificial membranes??? And why is it that after 30 years of unadulterated silence, a man who appears to be the bastard progeny of Colonel Sanders of the Fried Chicken Bucket fame, named Sam Elgin, suddenly sends electronic transmissions to Planet Earth’s non-American empires, the Alliance Euro-Afrique and the Pan-Asiatic Prosperity Zone, telling of an American vaccine that can be administered unto them to neutralize this virus named Sky??? Is this Sam an Uncle Savior of some kind, or is this merely a more sinister scheme?

Leave it to an assembled team of international specialists (selected from those two non-American empires) to accept this secret mission to discover a NEW New World that may even rival the one the conquistadors of antiquity discovered when they raped and pillaged eastern shores so many centuries ago… and leave to the superstar funnybook squad of the NY Times‘ best-selling Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, smothered words in the wondrous bloods, whites and bruise of premier artists Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandi and Matt Wilson.

Imagine, if you will, a near-mid-21st-Century Americonned desert noasis where all manner of biological transmogrifications and genetic mutations have resulted in new classes of citizens, fauna, and flora, that visually connote interspecies permutations lacking specific scientific classifications, where technologies new and old are hybridized with architectonic structures and motorized vehicles. Have you ever seen Mad Max: Fury Road naked, under the influence of heavy LSD, taking place out in Indio, CA, where tentacled sea creatures are chariot-driving war-class naval vessels through the sand on stealers wheels and wind-trapping parachutes???

I’ve seen this Glory, and there’s no telling what manner of Damnation awaits once this barren Sea of Sand is parted unto it’s burning bleedrock… 4.25/5 Plymouth Crack Rocks.

-Jason Bud

“Reverend” Ryan Ford
X-FORCE #1 – Marvel Comics

Once in a blue moon, or with the help of several Blue Moons, a story comes along that has the makings of an instant classic. X-Force #1 may be that story. Or it may not be. I don’t really know. What I do know is that this tale pissed me off in such a delightful way by reusing an obvious misdirect that has absolutely no clear direction whatsoever. Allow me to elaborate. Imagine, if you will, that Professor X is Franz Ferdinand (the Archduke, not the band), Sarajevo is the mutant sanctuary of Krakoa and 1914 is now. War is coming.

Set on the establishment of Krakoa — an island that might be sentient, might not — we find a colony of mutants living life like any good citizens of the world. They have legitimate status amongst the New Global Order, complete with representation in the United Nations as well as tariffs from the US and China. At least they’re still capitalists. The President and CEO of this operation is Charles Xavier, who walks around – yes, walks – with a modified Cerebro strapped to his face like he’s getting ready for another battle with Speed Racer. Black Tom Cassidy, former bad guy turned head of mutant security, uses his Green Man powers to commune with the aforementioned island, turning it into a living weapon.

Speaking of living weapons, Wolverine and Beast patrol the grounds for any threats that may have slipped past the defenses or be spawned by the island itself. The there’s Jean Grey, the nuclear option. Needless to say, the mutant population here should be well protected. In addition, Healer is present to, well, heal. That feat, however, proves more difficult than it sounds as Kitty Pride and her Marauders keep liberating mutants, often in critical condition like Colossus, from nations not so friendly to mutant-kind. Meanwhile, their covert operative Domino is attending an Eyes Wide Shut party where another genocide is the topic du jour. Simultaneously, and perhaps with a bit of serendipity, another group of presumably human operatives crashes the Krakoa kegger, creating quite the quagmire and killing the king brain during the kerfuffle. Crazy, I know.

Now for the meat and potatoes of my opinion. Professor X has died many times before only to be resurrected in glorious fashion, one way or another. This time though, I ain’t real sure he actually bit the bullet. My thinking is he faked his death, or had his death faked by someone ridiculously powerful like Magneto or Dr. Doom. Why, however, remains to be seen. Perhaps the reformation of the Illuminati is on the horizon? Maybe the Shi’ar or some other alien race have an agenda that requires the Professor to seem dead? What if the Shadow King somehow restrained Charles’ consciousness to the Astral Plane and his body became an empty shell at the moment of assassination? What if none of my crackpot theories are remotely close and he’s just gone? This is exactly why I’m pleasantly perturbed, Mr. Jon Hickman and Ben Percy — I have to wait for more of your answers, and ultimately more of my questions.

Joshua Cassara and Dean White‘s exceptional artwork, color palate, and action in every frame makes it all the more difficult to maintain patience. It must also be noted that the character designs, while influenced by traditional representations, are given a newfound sense of realism that accentuates the plot. Kinda like how new gadgets can take a 60’s-era espionage story and turn int into a modern spy spectacular. Yet, unlike the James Bond franchise, this story is highly dependent upon prior knowledge of past events, making it slightly difficult for a new reader to jump into the fray. It’s a small drawback that is easily rectified with this new thing called “Internet research”. Long story short, this is an enjoyable read that I want answers to now. 4.5/5 Bibles.

-Ryan Ford

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