Let’s open with a bang, I finally finished Umbrella Academy Vol 2: Dallas. In the liner notes (I don’t know what else to call them), writer Gerard Way says that, “Dallas began as an idea for a single-issue adventure, like a great episode of The Twilight Zone or Doctor Who.” Well… mission accomplished. They hit a home run with the Apocalypse Suite and this follow up was just as satisfying.
We delve deeper into the mystery of Number 5, the time traveling ten year old killing machine that could give Wolverine a run for his money. Then we got to meet Hazel and Cha-Cha two deadly assassins assigned to take out Number 5 and anybody from the Academy who gets in their way. Along the way we also meet a chimp doing a Marilyn Monroe impression, we meet God, we go to Vietnam to retrieve a mummy, and we visit the infamous book depository where Number 5 must take on his 60 year old self with a crew of commandos. Great stuff.
Going the more mainstream route, I found myself being honest at the checkout counter. Half of what I read is simply out of habit. I want to know what happens next. So art teams and writers change, I still buy the books. If a story drags a bit, I’ll still buy the title hoping that a turnaround is coming. That’s kind of where I am with the Uncanny X-Men. Things were rolling along at a good clip for them in San Francisco, until the Dark X-Men/ Dark Avengers Utopia storyline. It all feels a bit muddled. Now the Merry Marvel Mutants are offshore thanks to the crossover events. They have set up an island nation state on the remains of Asteroid M, rechristened Utopia.
This sets up a bizarre role reversal for Scott Summers and Prof. Charles Xavier, with the arrival of a peace seeking Magneto on Utopia. Magneto claims asylum– Charles wants to shoot first. Scott is willing to hear the man out first. Given all that’s happened over the years, why wouldn’t you want to have Magneto on your side. You know that he might backstab you, but he certainly won’t try and cut a deal with Norman Osborn.
And then there is the annoying plot turn with Emma Frost. In the X-Men’s fight with the Dark Avengers, Emma came in contact with the Void– that pointless evil amorphous entity that acts as the Achilles heel of The Sentry. Emma now has a piece of the Void in locked in her and must maintain her diamond form to keep it at bay. So just when we thought that Scott and Emma would kiss and make up after the whole X-Men vs. Dark X-Men affair– no dice.
I wasn’t really willing to be sucked into another crossover event. But this one seemed compelling and has started off with a nice bang– I’m talking about Necrosha. Selene the ancient psychic vampire who ran around as the second Black Queen of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle back in the late 1980s and early 1990s is back. She wants to get revenge against the X-Men (naturally) and anybody from back in the day who screwed her over. That would include the villainous Sebastian Shaw, the Black King and the bad girl gone good Emma Frost, the former White Queen of the Hellfire Club.
How does she plan to do this? By using a stolen alien techno-organic virus and some of her own black magic. The virus enables her to raise the dead. Not just any corpses mind you. This is the X-Men so that are a lot of characters that have been killed off in the last 40 plus years. At the end of book one, Selene and her crew head for the largest mutant gravesite in the Marvel Universe… Genosha. This promises to be interesting with good art and a lot of mutants worried about running into dead relatives, teammates, and lovers.
At the other end of the spectrum, I was less impressed with two of Mark Millar efforts last month, Kick-Ass #7 and Ultimate Avengers #3. The previous issues of Kick Ass had been clever and fun in the same way vein as Luc Besson’s The Professional or True Romance. The joke of the series being that a high school fanboy hits the gym and then patrols the streets as the vigilante known only as Kick-Ass. Well reality hits in issues 7 as Kick-Ass and his comrades Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are ambushed and tortured by mobsters. It just seemed like an exercise in graphic language and violence. It looked great, I’m a fan of John Romita Jr’s work– but the whole thing just felt forced. As if they felt they needed to earn the “Mature Content” label on the back cover.
Ultimate Avengers #3 was a let down from a story standpoint, compared to the previous incarnations of the team in Ultimates vol 1 and vol 2. A new Avengers team is being formed in the aftermath of Ultimatum, to hunt down Captain America so that his paternity of the Red Skull doesn’t become public knowledge. Ok. To that end we’ve been introduced to a new Black Widow and Gregory Stark– Tony Stark’s older sober morally corrupt brother.
The older Stark has grown himself a Hulk in a petri dish, that apparently has a brain. Yeah good luck with the Nerd Hulk and then there is the inclusion of War Machine. I didn’t know that James “Rhodey” Rhodes had been written into the Ultimate Universe, but he’s got the War Machine armor– only on the last page of the book Millar jumps the shark having Rhodey’s Mercedes SL coupe transform into the War Machine armor. Ummmm. No. Luckily, I was able to wash that bit of silliness out of my brain by remembering that Scarlett Johansson will be playing the Black Widow next summer in Iron Man 2.
Speaking of Iron Man, Fraction’s World’s Most Wanted story line has finally ended. With Tony Stark in a persistent vegetative state and Norman Osborn looking to pull the plug if not for Tony’s living will. Hmmm. I think we’ll see Thor next issue.
I’ve been reluctant to read Justice League of America and Justice Society of America as of late. Both have been having changes in their creative teams. And the art in JLA has been really lackluster. I think I’ll try to jump in next month and see if they’ve gotten better. One creative change that seems to have worked out is on Batman. Judd Winick is out and Tony S. Daniel is in.
Winick wrapped up his Two-Face arc with a great beatdown by Dick Grayson Batman with an assist from Alfred. Daniel jumped into his storyline in issued 692 with Dick having to try and convince Selina “Catwoman” Kyle to help him on the Black Mask case. Its encouraging that the writers aren’t bored yet and are still giving Dick stumbling blocks to taking over as the Dark Knight.