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Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost’s Run on X-Force – X-Necrosha (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Wolverine later in the month, we’re taking a look at some classic X-Men and Wolverine comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday here. I’m also writing a series of reviews of the classic X-Men television show at comicbuzz every weekday, so feel free to check those out.

I have a bit of a soft-spot for Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s X-Force. It’s nowhere near as good as Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, and I’m not even sure that it’s good comics. However, it does capture the mood of the X-Men comics between House of M and Second Coming remarkably well.

Being frank, I think that the editorial direction of the X-Men line between House of M and Second Coming was a disaster. In fact, the work of Kieron Gillen on Uncanny X-Men and Jason Aaron on Wolverine & The X-Men following Schism demonstrates that the franchise spent six long years running in a gigantic circle to get back to where Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men had left it.

However, Yost and Kyle’s X-Force captures the mood of the line a lot better than Ed Brubaker or Matt Fraction’s work on Uncanny X-Men, willing to embrace the cynically and nihilitistically nineties vibe of the entire line.

Country of the dead...

Country of the dead…

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Kurt Busiek’s Avengers – Avengers Assemble! Vol. 5 (The Kang Dynasty) (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

I’ll be honest. I am still not sure what to make of Kurt Busiek’s Avengers run, republished here in five lavish oversized hardcovers. The first three volumes of the set included the stellar artwork of George Perez, but the fifth and final volume contains the entire Kang Dynasty (aka Kang War) saga. For those unfamiliar with the storyline, it was a fairly massive plot told over fifteen issues and an annual, and marked the climax of Busiek’s five-year tenure on the title. For better or for worse, it’s a more than adequate conclusion to his run – complete with many of the flaws which chipped away at it, but also possessing many of the recognisable strengths.

"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!"

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Kurt Busiek’s and George Perez’s Avengers – Avengers/JLA (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Read our review of The Avengers here.

Avengers/JLA is about as nerdy as a comic book crossover can get. Really. It takes two teams of superheroes which were both formed to allow existing heroes to team up… and then teams those two teams up. It’s pure geek chic, after all. I have no shame in admitting that I enjoyed on a purely fanboyish level, my inner eight-year-old ecstatic at the idea of taking so many toys out of so many different boxes and bashing them together which such delightful cheer. It’s not an essential story, nor a brilliant one, nor a creative one – but it does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives us a gigantic crossover between two of the more recognisable Marvel and DC superhero teams.

The very definition of awesome...

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Kurt Busiek’s Avengers – Avengers Forever (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Read our review of The Avengers here.

In many ways, to me, Kurt Busiek’s Avengers run represents comic book nostalgia given form. I can’t help but read it as an attempt to call back to the “good old days” of mainstream comic books, with all the illogical and insane twists and an old-school approach to dialogue and characterisation. On the best of days, I’ve found his approach giddy and enjoyable – it’s hard not to get caught up in his genuine enthusiasm for the material. However, when Marvel gave Busiek a twelve-issue Avengers miniseries, it seemed inevitable that the writer wouldn’t just seek to nostalgically emulate the past, but tie it all together as well. In this respect, as it weaves through decades of Avengers continuity, Avengers Forever feels almost like continuity porn. Hardcore continuity porn.

Avengers! Avenge!

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Garth Ennis’ Run on Punisher MAX – Born (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’re going to take a look at Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis’ run on that iconic Marvel anti-hero, The Punisher. Check back every Friday and Wednesday for a review of a particular section.

There are comic book characters that are so closely tied to one particular writer that you pity anybody trying to write them. The X-Men have Chris Claremont (although I do love Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run), Daredevil has Frank Miller (although he also has Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker), Hulk has Peter David and (I firmly believe) Green Lantern has Geoff Johns. Somehow, through some fluke, occasionally comic book characters manage to stumble across a writer who fundamentally understands them. I’d argue that this is the benefit of having these characters survive in print – none of these runs were by the original authors. Anyway, to get to the point, the Punisher has Garth Ennis.

The last Castle...

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Ultimate Comics: Thor (Review/Retrospective)

With the release of Marvel’s big-budget superhero action movie Thor this summer, we’re taking a month to celebrate the God of Thunder. Check back each Wednesday for a Thor-related review.

“It burns,” Thor tells us as the comic opens. “The world tree burns… Surely this is the end of all things…” Yes, Jonathan Hickman suggests, it is indeed the end, but it is also the beginning. The lives of gods, like the myths themselves and the comic books they inspire, are cyclical and endless. This scene, as Nazi stormtroopers and frost giants march on Asgard, might be the end, but it is also the beginning.

Thor Smash!

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The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 5 (Stars My Destination)

The Starman Omnibus, Volume V covers a very rocky period in the history of the Starman mythos. The wonderful thing about the little after-words that James Robinson has provided for each of these volumes by way of annotation is that they offer you a hint of the context of everything that is going on around the series. Starman as a series had just lost an editor in Archie Goodwin and an artist in Tony Harris. Robinson himself was going through some very personal issues, and he confessed that he was seriously considering just hanging up the reigns on the book.

He didn’t, and ultimately saw the comic book through its full 80-issue run, but it gives you a sense of the instability surrounding the title at that period of time. And what did Robinson do with, with everything so uncertain around the book? He moved the series from the streets of Opal City into the depths of DC’s shared cosmic universe and took on David S. Goyer as a co-plotter for Stars My Destination, which was an interesting direction for one of the nineties’ most down-to-earth characters.

A "cluster" of Starmen?

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