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This is the first week of February, and my Comic Book Review Round-Up is chock-a-block with some fantastic comics, and some downers. Watch the video and scroll through to read my thoughts on "Batman #64," "Young Justice #2," "Age of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men #1," "Uncanny X-Men #11," as well as comic book number ones from DC, Valiant, and Image Comics.
A new crossover event begins in this issue of Batman, as the Caped Crusader teams up with The Flash to investigate an attack on the Flash Museum. Perhaps by working together again they can finally find out who was behind the massacre at Sanctuary (in Heroes in Crisis) and bring closure to the death of Wally West.
This is a very personal story for both these characters, and despite being a crossover, the plot stands on its own. Writer Joshua Williamson adds enough details to bring readers up to speed without adding too much exposition. Though Batman readers will be wishing for the conclusion to the "Knightmares" arc, a change of pace and new hands at the helm is exactly what the series needs. Williamson is devoted to The Flash and all the speedsters that come with him, but it is evident he isn’t trying to make Barry into some perfect hero.
A new perspective on Batman and bringing in stray threads from all the different titles is imperative if the DC universe continuity is to be maintained. I, for one, am looking forward to the rest of this crossover.
"Young Justice #2"
This Wonder Comics series is made for young adults and it will certainly grab the attention of its target audience. The Gemworld antagonists are quite bombastic and the writing comes across as stilted in places, but the target readers will not notice these niggles.
After the first issue, which forgot that there were female characters on the team, the second instalment rectifies the problem by focusing on Jinny Hex, Teen Lantern and Wonder Girl. It’s a slow build up, but the creators are obviously aiming for a team up between these characters. But the question remains—where did Kid Flash end up? He bumped into Superboy at the end of the first issue, but neither character features in this instalment? Is this an interdimensional story? How the plot develops and the threads come together remains to be seen.
"Age of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men #1"
The madness of this alternate reality continues in the second instalment of the Age of X-Man series. This is a scary world of individualism, yet the X-Men and all of mutantkind believe it to be paradise. No one can get close to the other, even friendship isn’t allowed. It’s horrifying.
On a mission to save Cerebro West from a blazing inferno, X-23 gets a flash of memory—she had a sister. Meanwhile, Jean Grey is briefly indisposed by a psychic attack; one which goes completely against everything the X-Men believe in. How will they deal with these infractions to perfection?
I am quite invested in this series mostly because it feels so different. Reading this series gives us another view of what is happening with the X-Men who are presumed dead in the real-world, but at the same time, this utopia is more like a dystopia. I can’t wait to see how this story progresses.
"Uncanny X-Men #11"
After a short hiatus, Uncanny X-Men is back. This issue felt overlong, with introductions for Cyclops, Wolverine, Maddrox ,and Blindfold. That’s a lot!
The main storyline has Cyclops on the hunt for the X-Men, who are believed to be dead. It’s a tough time for him—he was dead, then Kid Cable brought him back to life… and then left Cyke to fend for himself?
Along the way, Cyke meets other mutants, no one is helping, but everyone is following him around. It’s weird. Then, he decides to crash an anti-mutant rally. I get it, and yay Cyclops, but you know what troubles me? The scene is meant to emulate hate groups in real life, but the two people fighting each other about it in the comic are white guys? With powers. I love Cyclops because he’s a superhero who has suffered and is burdened by his superpowers as well, but is he the best person to front this rhetoric? I would have preferred a mutant from a marginalised community fighting this fight. If that sounds harsh, it’s because it is the truth. Supergirl is dealing with similar issues in its fourth season, but they have minority communities fighting these battles.
Comic Book Number Ones
"Female Furies #1" was disturbing to read. It’s rare a comic book raises my hackles for the right reasons, but this issue sure did. The titular Furies are led by Aurelie and instructed by Granny Goodness—they are powerhouse warriors, but on Apokolips (just like in reality) they are judged purely by their gender.
It’s an infuriating and frustrating read, especially as Goodness herself toes the line so as to stay in Darkseid’s good books, and Aurelie is seen as a villain by her team since she gets "special" treatment because of her looks. I don’t know how many people will read a series that intentionally makes readers uncomfortable with how the women characters are treated, but it’s worth the effort. I would have preferred if the Furies weren’t all so conventionally shaped (barring one character), allowing for more diversity and perceived dissent among the ranks. I just hope there is a happy conclusion to this because I’m not sure I can read an entire series about misogyny without some minor battles being won from time to time.
What attracted me to "Incursion #1" was the idea that this limited series would feature the Deadside again. We only got a glimpse of this mysterious realm in the recently concluded Faith: Dreamside and Valiant has plans for expanding this part of their comic book universe over several series.
In the first issue of Incursion, the Deadside itself is not featured as heavily as expected—however, its overarching reach is felt by the main characters in the book. This is a sprawling, epic landscape that will capture the imaginations of Valiant fans, as well as readers invested in alien worlds transfused with medieval politics. While I am uncertain whether this series will delight me over the course of its four-issue arc, it will be interesting to see how many takers there are for Incursion when issue one hits the stands on February 20.
I picked up "Vindication #1" thinking it would be a hard-hitting story about systemic racism and the consequences of police brutality. After reading it, I’m not sure that’s where the series is headed. First up, the book is told from Detective “Chip” Christopher’s point of view. He’s a white, dirty cop who put away a black teenager, Turn Washington, for a murder the boy claims he didn’t commit.
The first issue was a huge let-down in many respects. Bad writing and inconsistent art correspond with the central mystery of the series – which is, whether Turn is indeed guilty or not. But we have to ask ourselves, haven’t we seen this story a thousand times before? Do we need to see it told again?
The only reason I would recommend giving Vindication another shot is because there are creators of colour behind the scenes. I can’t imagine MD Marie and team want to make a clichéd story about evil black men, so let’s wait out the four issues to find out where she is taking us readers with this series.
A jam-packed Comic Book Review Round-Up this week with some brilliant new titles. This is going to be a hectic and exciting season of comics reading, for sure.