Wow, this was a breath of fresh air. Volume 2 felt like an entirely different book. The art was crisper, the writing was faster. This is the book I would have loved to put on my monthly pull list. This is the book I expected Volume 1 to be. Understandably, the difference in tone and pacing is largely attributed to the fact that Vaughan didn’t have to waste 18 issues explaining the origins of these teenage runaways. Volume 2 is X-2 to Volume 1’s X-Men. Of course, we still get a ton of “catch up” exposition in the first couple of issues, but that’s fine. That’s just how monthly comics are written.
The Victor Mancha/Victorious arc was one of the best in the series. Having some forgotten version of Ultron hatch a “silver age” style revenge plot was inspired. Also, let’s not forget to mention the introduction of Excelsior… a team of former teenage superheroes that starred in last year’s Loners. The only truly lame thing about this arc was having Rick Jones revealed as the mysterious benefactor. Man, I hate Rick Jones SO HARD.
Which brings us to the next arc: it was way less satisfying than the last. Xavin is a lot of bit lame. Sorry, Xavin fans. I liked the part where Karolina makes a move on Nico… as discussed in The Last Man reviews, girl on girl is HAWT. And the interplay between Molly and Victor was really cute. Ok, but seriously, Xavin just switching sexes is such bullshit. Obviously, he’s playing you girl! And man, after Karolina leaves, I love how heartbroken Nico is. She totes loves her in ways she is not ready to deal with.*
The final arc of the hardcover, East Coast/West Coast, was probably the best of the bunch, and the series so far. GUEST STARS GALORE!!! Cloak, as always, was the super-lame, but I couldn’t help feeling bad for him. Why didn’t any of his super buddies believe him? There’s no way Cloak beats on Dagger. That’s his girl, yo’! And even Luke Cage dogs him, especially when Cloak tries to play the race card. What else was awesome? Spider-Man cameos that make sense and are funny at the same time, that’s what! And pimp’s named “Pusher Man”! Priceless. Question? Did Chase really kill a carjacker and dump the body? Wicked if he did. Are Chase and Nico going to hook up? I’m reading the Whedon run, and I know he’s playing with the sexual tension, but his comics are so busy I barely remember what happened in the last issue. The best scene by far had to be Molly’s confrontation with the Avengers. Molly is the stone nuts! If I had a daughter, I would want her to be exactly like Molly. No jokes. EW, you know what was creepy? That priest guy that was helping Cloak. When he was all trying to give Molly something, I was wondering if Vaughan was going to take us into an after school special. Thank God he didn’t. The only thing that REALLY bugged me? I hate the way Vaughan writes Captain America. He made him suck. OH SHIT!!! Who are those kids at the end? The headless ones with a copy of The Abstract?!?
Overall, the dialogue was wittier than Volume 1. I laughed out loud a few times. And of course, Molly still gets all the best lines. Also, the characterizations were stronger, tighter. And surprisingly, I’m starting to like Gertrude. I have no idea what Vaughan changed, but I find her less annoying than before. Victor is welcome addition to the crew. And the developing soap opera-y love triangles were solid. If I had my way, Chase and Nico would totally hook up. Sorry Gert… go play with your not-a-raptor. The plots were fun! How novel. If reading Volume 1 was like homework, reading Volume 2 was summer vacation. I could not put it down. Did I mention how good the art was?
Okay, there were still some negatives. Brian K Vaughan, please stop trying to be Joss Whedon. Chase being the only guy in the “Scooby Gang” stinks of Xanderitis. The “Rogues Gallery” setup reeked of an episode of Buffy… you know the one. There was some other Whedon related content, but I didn’t take any notes and I can’t pin them down off the top of my head. I just remember that I yelled Whedon’s name, like a curse, a bunch of times while reading Volume 2.** Dude, Chase needs to do more than just drive the getaway car. Like, kill some more carjackers or Hobo Pirates. The bonus Free Comic Book Day issue in the back was utter shit. Way too much “please buy the monthly exposition”.
I’ll be back in a few days with a review of Volume 3, probably Thursday. Until then, buy Vs! and read comics.
*To quote a favorite Kevin Smith flick.***
**If someone wants to challenge me on this, I may just have to reread this Volume to prove my point. Or, I could just be lazy and ignore you.
***He always substitutes “flick” for movie or film in his interviews. It’s so throwback.