June 19, 2004

Reload stumbles on....

A couple of new X-Books to check out this week, X-Men #158 and New X-Men #2. Neither of them are all that great.

X-Men #158
This is part 2 of the Day of the Atom storyline. A side note: Remember the halcyon pre-trades day when not every story had to be part something of something? Is this crapola really deserving of a title?

This issue follows two stories. First up is Josh now Jay Guthrie, looking depressed despite having the largest dorm room in existance. His roommate Sammy asks him whats wrong, and they spend much of this issue talking about Austen's terrible X-Shakespeare story from a few months back. Oh, and a mysterious figure lurking in the shadows asking about the Juggernaut. It sure looks like Black Tom Cassidy is said lurker, but this is Austen, who the hell knows what will happen.

The other side of this is the Adjectiveless X-Men landing in China and finding Xorn amidst a pile of wreckage and dead bodies. Now, Xorn was secretly Magneto right? So who the hell is this? We dunno, but's obvious Marvel liked the Xorn visual, so here we go. We get a couple pages of Iceman witlessly baiting Havok, Juggernaut explaining Xorn's secret star-head, and Havok deciding they need to bring Xorn back to the mansion, despite his misgivings.

Then we have an obligatory fight scene, as eight chinese immortals show up, think that the X-Men did all this damage, and attack them despite Havok's protestations. The fight is pretty even-handed, but really hard to follow, as the unnamed chinese guys all wear variations of the same uniform. Gambit hurts himself by blowing up a card in his face, guess those powers aren't quite working right yet, are they? Havok then yells for the X-Men to "hit the dirt" and he blasts the bad guys to smithereens. Good thing the chinese guys didn't duck and cover too. Unfortunately his blast cracked open Xorn's hemet, and everyone starts getting sucked in. The issue ends with the obligatory "We're being torn apart!"

Oy. This pretty much defines mediocre. The Josh stuff is merely a rehash of past issues, and since he's over in New X-Men now, couldn't we have done that there? The China side is just standard superhero stuff, nothing special. We should be glad it's wasn't a Claremont story, then the Chinese guys would have taken a page worth of dialouge to explain who each one of them was. I've promised myself to read these titles through the end of the first arc, and right now X-Men is pretty iffy. It might be worth it just for the art, which is impressive, and the cover is pretty nifty too.

New X-Men: Academy X #2
Something must be done about that title. Marvel needs to figure out if this is New X-Men or Academy X and get on with it. Personally I would far prefer the former, since these guys are most certainly not X-Men. This is part 2 of Choosing Sides, which is exactly that, the various students being split into 6-person teams, each with an advisor, its own design for the uniform, and codenames to boot.

As with last issue, this is a pretty slow moving title, we don't get to the codenames until the very end. Instead we spend a lot of time with the kids kvetching about possibly being split up. We find out that Sooraya, the Afghani mutant who wears a burqa, is now Noriko's new roommate. They don't click, and that quite frankly is due to Noriko, who seems be increasingly snappish. Also, we get some cretin named Julian (I should know him, I just never followed the New Mutants) doing his best Draco Malfoy impression. At the end we finally get to the big payoff, three teams, codenames and costumes.

It's a rather bewildering few pages, as the teams and names are dumped all out at once. Cyclops' team doesn't even get codenames, we just find out that they are the Corsairs (nice name) and they wear a blue version of the uni. Julian becomes Hellion, leader of ummm.. the Hellions. This, obviously is Emma's team, and they get cool updates of the orignal Hellion uniform. Now each Hellion gets his or her own codename, including the guy who isn't there. The line up for the Hellions shows 5 people: Hellion, Mercury, Rockslide, Icarus (Jay Guthrie again) and Dust (Sooraya), but Emma goes ahead and names the final, invisible member of the team. The New Mutants, with Dani Moonstar as their adviser get nifty yellow and white uniforms and codenames. Dani says the 6th member of the team has been chosen, but isn't here yet. For those interested the names: David is Prodeigy, Sofia is Winddancer, Noriko Surge, Laurie is Wallflower and Josh becomes Elixir.

Again, a very slow moving book, and an iffy title for me. Obviously we are going to see an rebirth of the old New Mutants/Hellions rivalry, which is rather pathetic I think. Remember the original Hellions were being trained to eventually take over the world. Other than the Draco wannabe, the new Hellions seem like all right sorts, even considering the overused Jay Guthrie. The idea that 2 teams get the co-headmasters as advisors strikes me wrong. Considering the school has over 100 students now, wouldn't this be something they delegated? The Hellions adviser could have been a nice way to re-introduce James Proudstar, though he seems to be heading for Rob Liefeld-Hell in the upcoming X-Force mini. The most interesting thing this title has going for it is the Dust character, it could be fascinating (or awful, if they decide to make her the crazed Muslim sterotype) to see her adapt to sexualized American teens. The scene with Noriko was a nice beginning. Sooraya seems a likable, modest girl. Reminds me of the early Rahne Sinclair, but worse fashion sense.

The art was improved over the first issue, though I'm still not a Randy Green fan. His style does seem to fit this book, though it times it lacks detail and backgrounds seem to wash out. After last issue's odd cover, this one is wierd too. Last issue showed the 5 New Mutants in costume, with Dust (whom I mistakenly thought was some odd ninja character) as well. This issue they are in action, the 5 and... I dunno, some random 6th character in costume.

Posted by Frinklin at June 19, 2004 07:02 PM
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