RANT!: X-Factor #50

Coming out of retirement because this shit just blew my mind. What is the origin of Layla Miller’s power?

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Of course! Her future self came back in time to blast her with all her future memories!! DUH!! That explains everything!!

…but wait, that’s not all.

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#### THAT.

Spoiler Review: Batman #681 RIP

batman-681

So, who is the Black Glove? Thomas Wayne, Mangrove Pierce, Dr. Hurt or perhaps the Devil himself? Honestly, although some clues point to one particular alter ego, it still remains unclear, and in the end, I guess it never really mattered; the ultimate Magoffin.

Anyway, some interesting things in this concluding issue of the epic “Rest in Peace” arc:

1) As the Joker strives to drive Batman insane, the Joker is equally driven more sane. Cool. Red and Black, the duality of good and evil, and so on… I mean, it’s so obvious when you think about it, right?

2) Batman thinks everyone is out to poison him.

3) The Bat-Radia was real. This plotpoint put a huge smile on my face. Heh.

4) Pulling one’s self out of the grave? Not just for Spider-Mans anymore.

5) Somebody get that boy a car already.

6) Talia vows revenge… normally, something like this, spoken at the end of the final issue of a 2-year arc is pretty meaningless. Like, do we really expect said revenge to be carried out before the end of the issue? Well…

7) Jezebel Jet gets hers! HA HA HA. Starting and ending with the ninja Man-Bat army was a well played move, Mr. Morrison. Good one.

8) Where’s Batman? Or rather, who is Batman?

So, what did you guys think? Was it worth it? All the confusion? The waiting? Dealing with the mediocre work of Tony Daniel?

Foilball’s Review Roundup #61 – Tons of Mini-Reviews, Because Honestly, If I Didn’t Do It This Way, I Wouldn’t Be Doing It At All!*

1985 #6 (**): What. A. Let down. Nice Last Action Hero ending, Millar. You hack.

Amazing spider-Man #574 (****): I liked it. I liked that it wasn’t pro-war, just pro-soldier. Good stuff. But, the ending makes me wonder… how long til some super scientist makes Flash a pair of Forge style legs?

Amazing spider-Man #575 (*****): Um, WOW! Joe Kelly was BORN to write Spidey… this is—I never thought I’d say this, but this is better than anything Slott has written for Spidey since BND started. WOW. Very, very excited about Joe Kelly and Spider-Man. WOOOO!!!!

Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man #3 (***): This was okay…

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #35 (**): …but this was almost complete garabge. The art was nice, which nets this book it’s two stars, but MY GOD, way to screw the readers BND brain trust. You guys stink.

New Avengers #46 (****1/2): One of my favorite tie-ins. The Hood gets cooler and cooler every time he shows up, which makes me want to scream for more, Bendis! MORE!

Avengers: The Initiative #18 (****): Yeah, this arc is the best in the series… but that’s not to say I’d like a Skrull Kill Krew ongoing. Um, no thanks. I’m tired of the Skrulls. For now.

The Boys #24 (***): Worst issue in the book’s two year history.

Criminal #6 (****): Brubaker, I don’t know how you do it, but you make me care about the biggest scumbags in the world and I love it. thanks, dude.

Daredevil #112 (****1/2): Lady Bullseye is HAWT. This arc is HAWTER.

Final Crisis: Submit #1 (****): Wonderful. Simple, yet wonderful. And hey, I didn’t completely hate Black Lightning… you know, like I usually do.

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 (***1/2): Um, this kind of sucked, what I mean is, it kind of sucked when compared with the ASTONISHING Sinestro Corps Special from last year. By itself, it was decent, but if you’re not already reading GL, I don’t think this special was going to do it for you. So, overall, MEH.

G.I. Joe #0 (****): OMFG, am I getting sucked back into G.I. Joe? Yet, again!!!!

Incredible Hercules #122 (****): Heh, this is one of the books where I had a longer review planned, with scans and such, but alas, no time! Anyway, great stuff as usual.

Hulk #7 (***1/2): I like it. The art is amazing, the dialogue is only okay and the story isn’t really moving in any particular direction, but I like it. Loeb “gets it” in an old school Stan Lee kind of way, and I’m fine with that.

Invincible #54 (****): Oh, where did this come from? It’s like, all of a sudden, Kirkman learned how to tell super-compressed stories! Great. About time. Hey, anyone remember, long time ago, when all of the Liefeld books at Image skipped a month and did these “Images of Tomorrow” stories where they jumped a year into the future of the series? This issue of Invincible totally reminded me of that, only less gimmicky.

Jack of Fables #27 (*****): Marry me, Jack. Just say “yes”.

Ms. Marvel #32 (***): Dude, Brian Reed… I know you read the recent Secret Origins arc over in GL, cus like, who isn’t reading Johns, so let me ask you a question: am I supposed to get that you’re just totally aping it?

No Hero #2 (***1/2): Better than the first issue, but I’m still wondering why I should care.

Nova #18 (***): This arc may force me to drop this book.

Runaways #3 (***1/2): Um, ditto for what I said about Nova, also, why is there a Howard Stern character in this series? When was the last time Stern was relevant? 5 years ago? 10?

Skaar: Son of Hulk #4 (***1/2): TOOOOOO… SLOOOOOOOOOOW…

Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (***1/2): Like Bruce Castle said, the non-Robinson stuff was great…

Superman #682 (**1/2): Robinson… what the ####?

Superman/Batman #53 (****): Oh man, I love these guys. They get it. They’re pulling off this totally retro WF thing and it’s so much fun. If you’re not reading this, you are stupid. Simple.

Thor #11 (****): I’m a Cap whore, so obviously I loved this.

Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (***): Didn’t I say this was shit? TOLD YOU SO.

Thunderbolts #125 (****): Gage has managed to successfully build on what Ellis started, and in the end, he may even surpass it… if he stays on the book long enough. And yeah, Desiato is dead on the money. Norman is definitely becoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of the Secret Invasion. Good call.

Ultimate Captain America Annual #1 (*): Um, why?

Ultimate Spider-Man #127 (****): Um, awesome?

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 (**): Um, hype?

Wildcats #4 (**): …and I’m done. Thanks for playing.

Wolverine: Origins #29 (***1/2): This book is never going to end. There is no end. It’s not even planned. #### this book.

X-Force #8 (****1/2): These guys are putting out the best X-Men book currently, hands ####ing down. It’s not even close. So embarrassing.

X-Men: Legacy #217 (***): GAWD!!! Enough already! Someone shoot Prof X in the head again please.

Secret Invasion: X-Men #3 (****1/2): This was really, really FACKING GOOD. Some may disagree, but I totally see Hank doing what he did, especially in the manner with which it was written. And I love the last line about genocide. Perfect. Man, if only SI was this good… sigh.

*yeah, i know i said i wouldn’t do it like this anymore, but i just didn’t have the time this week to do them right. actually, no, that’s wrong, i did, i just chose to spend that time on other things. i’m not going to go into the reasons why here, i figure if you really care all that much you could just read my LJ. anyway, i’ll try to get back on track soon. i still love writing for this blog, so i don’t plan to completely disappear anytime soon. okay? okay.

Foilball’s October Previews Order

ACTION COMICS #872
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #579-581
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #20
AVENGERS INVADERS #7
BATMAN #684
BOYS #25 (MR)
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #21
CABLE #9
CAPTAIN AMERICA #45
CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #8
DAREDEVIL #114
DARK REIGN NEW NATION
DEADPOOL #5
DETECTIVE COMICS #851
ETERNALS #6
FABLES #79 (MR)
FC LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #4
FC REVELATIONS #5 (OF 5)
FC SECRET FILES #1
FRANKENSTEINS WOMB GN (MR)
GHOST RIDER #30
GRAVEL #9
GREEN LANTERN #37
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #31
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #8
HULK #9
INCOGNITO #1
INCREDIBLE HERCULES #124
INVINCIBLE #57 (RES)
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #8
JACK OF FABLES #29 (MR)
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #22
MOON KNIGHT #25
MS MARVEL #34
NEW AVENGERS #48
NIGHTWING #151
NO HERO #4
NOVA #20
PUNISHER #65
PUNISHER X-MAS SPECIAL 2008
ROBIN #181
RUNAWAYS 3 #5
SAVAGE DRAGON #143
SECRET SIX #4
SHE-HULK 2 #36
SI DARK REIGN
SI REQUIEM #1
SKAAR SON OF HULK #6
SUPERGIRL #36
SUPERMAN #683
SUPERMAN BATMAN #55
THOR GOD SIZED #1
THUNDERBOLTS #127
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #129
ULTIMATE X-MEN #99
ULTIMATUM #3 (OF 5)
UNCANNY X-MEN #505 MD
WALKING DEAD #57 (RES) (MR)
WAR HEROES #5 (OF 6) (MR)
WAR MACHINE #1
WINTERMEN WINTER SPECIAL #1
WOLVERINE #70
WOLVERINE ORIGINS #31
WONDER WOMAN #27
X-FACTOR #38
X-FORCE #10
X-MEN LEGACY #219
YOUNG LIARS #10 (MR)

Wow, only 68 books? YAUS!

December’s Greetings: Let’s see, we got all the Secret Invasion wrap-up stuff with Dark Reign: New Nation, Secret Invasion: Dark Reign and Secret Invasion: Requiem. Cool. And Morrison’s finally going to explain some crap in the Final Crisis: Secret Files book. Also cool. Brubaker and Phillips are starting a new crime book, Incognito. Extra cool. I see that Wintermen will finally get wrapped up (lots of wrapping up, must be Christmas) with the Winter Special. Oh, and I finally get to read the new House of Mystery series as the first trade releases in December.

house-of-mystery-tp-vol-01-room-and-boredom

Foilball’s Review Roundup #60 – 5 Books I’ve Enjoyed Since The Move And Some Other Stuff…

Secret Six #2 (*****)

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Who doesn’t love this book? Kudos to Simone for seeing something cool in a character (Bane) that most of us wrote off years ago.

Detective Comics #849 (****1/2)

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Morrison’s Batman, while epic and enjoyable is a complete mess compare to Dini’s run on this book. Seriously, if you’re looking for great, straight up Batman stories, this is for you. And! This Hush arc is the best yet. I don’t think any write has ever really justified Batman’s rage as well as Dini has. Fucking brilliant!

Wonder Woman #25 (****)

wonder-woman-25

Gail Simone writes the best Wonder Woman ever, which makes me really sad, because as cool as it is to have an awesome WW for a change, I hate that it just proves that men can’t write her. It’s as sexist as saying that only men can write Superman, which, I’m not sure can be proved either way since men are the only ones who ever GET to write Superman. Sigh.

Green Lantern Corps #29 (****)

green-lantern-corps-29

I think my enjoyment of this book is based solely on whether or not Gleason is doing the art. Well, he did the art for this issue and I loved it.

Eternals #5 (****)

eternals-5

It’s getting good, guys! I love how the old dude was indifferent to the kid and then he got to know him and some atrophied sense of parenting manifested and he got all invested in the kid and then the kid goes bad and he’s all sad but because he acted like such a jerk at the start his daughter doesn’t believe him when he tells her how sorry he is… AWESOME!

(Run-ons can be fun!)

Some Other Stuff:
• No Hero #1 (***): More of the same? Is Ellis repeating himself?
• Green Lantern #35 (***): This was not a satisfactory ending. At all.
• The Invincible Iron Man #6 (***): Fine, the fight was cool but the end didn’t punch me in the gut. Punch me in the gut, FRACTION!!!
• Fables #77 (***1/2): I liked this, it’s a fine start to the post-war era of Fables. I especially liked the letter in the middle of the book from Bill Willingham. That was definitely what the doctor ordered. I was thinking about dropping the book, but Bill has convinced me to stick around. Good show.
• Robin #177 (***1/2): I mean, this would be cooler if we RIP was over already, as it stands, I just can’t get into it. I need context, damn it.

ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – Not Exactly The ‘Weapon X’ You Know And Love… But Close!

origin stories banner

Don’t ‘Game’ With TBS, OR You’ll End Up Paying For Lots Of Dinners!

Billy: “Hey. Sorry we couldn’t make it.”
TBS: “What?”
Billy: “Happy Birthday.”
TBS: “Oh. Thanks. I figured you guys were ‘busy’. Scumbags.”
Billy: “31? 35? Older?”
TBS: “…”
Billy: “So, question, at what exact age does one stop throwing birthday parties?”

captain-america01

More Random Thoughts You Could Care Less About

• Deadpool, Party Pooper – “I’m the party pooper!” Ha-ha. Yeah. Wait ‘til ya’ see the alt art on this card. Too awesome.
• Merc With A Mouth – The flavor text on this one was locked in the moment I found the art. Thankfully, TBS came through like a champ.
• Wolverine, Unleashed – More Wolverine close-ups!
• Sabretooth, Earth-295, Team Leader – Confession? I hate the art on this card.
• Extended Monologue – Not much more to say about this one, I should think…
• Hyperion, Earth-4023 – Does anyone else still visit ytmnd.com?
• Iron Man, Earth-2020 – The art on this card does not depict the actual Iron Man from the Exiles comic. Sorry, the actual art was either Unusable or too ugly. This piece was pulled from an old Iron Man comic from right before the Heroes Reborn relaunch.
• Trouble With Clones – Trouble With Dinosaurs? It’s intentional. I only wish I’d thought of it sooner. It would have been nice to put one of these “Trouble With X” cards in every set.
• Sublime, The Beast Almighty – Who cares about what the card actually does… the concept, the mythology behind it, the art? It’s just so damn pretty.
• The World – Very, very happy this one made it into Marvel Evolution.
• Weapon Plus Satellite – But not as happy as I am with this card! Super-Sentinels! Someone on the Realms mentioned that maybe all the Super-Sentinels in MEV were dual-affiliated with the old Sentinels team. I thought about it, but in the end it just didn’t feel right.
• Captain America, Weapon 1 – I mean, obviously I’m going to get a Captain America into every set I work on. Good always triumphs over evil, dudes. Oh, and hey! More Invaders!
• Deadpool, Earth-5021 – Remember what I said about the Iron Man art? Same holds true here, I’m afraid.
• Spider-Man, The Spider, Earth 15 – Okay, this guy is awesome for one reason and one reason only: Spidey Clone decks finally get their 1-drop Spider-Man!

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(…what the heck is that!?! Keep reading!!!)

Weapon X/Ten/Plus… and The Exiles?!? What IS the deal?

So far, you’ve seen a bunch of Deadpool cards and some Exiles Weapon X dudes. Cool, those we can handle. But then you’re asking yourself, what’s the story on The World, Weapon Plus Satellite, Sublime and Captain America?

“Billy, will this be the traditional iteration of Weapon X (with Exiles splash) or some garbage version of Grant Morrison’s abysmal New X-Men run?”

Well, obviously the guy asking that question has horrible taste in comics, since the Grant Morrison era has yet to be surpassed in terms of quality and innovation. Yeah. I just said that.

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Okay, obviously, I’m a lot biased, so biased that I felt it necessary for players to be able to construct Weapon Plus curve decks. How exciting!

• Weapon 1: 2-drop Captain America from MEV
• Weapon 7: 3-drop XXX from MEV
• Weapon 10: 4-drop Wolverine from MUN
• Weapon 14: 5-drop XXX from MEV
• Weapon 13: 6-drop XXX from MEV
• Weapon 15: 7-drop Ultimaton from MEV*

QUESTION #2: Will we still see the other, older members of the team?

Yes. Expect a healthy dose of Maverick, Mesmero, Sauron, Garrison Kane and much more, including a sweet location titled “Department K”. See, there’s something for everyone… even those Alpha Flight “weirdos”.

Alpha Flight Deck-Builders Rejoice!

aurora_mev-174

TBS: “So good.”
Billy: “Rama-Tut redesign?”
TBS: “Oh… yeah, I guess. Man, why do you always have to rain on my parade, Billy Zonos?”
Billy: “Keeps you honest.”

Recommended Reading:
• Exiles Vol. 2: A World Apart
• Exiles Vol. 3: Out of Time
• Exiles Vol. 4: Legacy
• Exiles Vol. 5: Unnatural Instinct
• Exiles Vol. 6: Fantastic Voyage
• Exiles Vol. 7: A Blink in Time
• New X-Men by Grant Morrison: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1
• New X-Men by Grant Morrison: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2
• New X-Men by Grant Morrison: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 3
• Weapon X, Vol. 1, #1-28
• Wolverine: Weapon X HC
• X-23: Target X, #1-6

…and of course, there’s always Wikipedia for the epically lazy.

Next Week: …the end?

*No, his text box isn’t blank. Patience, my minions.

Review: Ghost Rider #28

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Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider knows exactly what it is: a love letter to the 90’s and the convoluted plots and characters of Howard Mackie, albeit a better written letter than the source material it’s based on. And you know what? That suits me just fine. I’ve got a lot of fond memories of that era, so Jason? Bring it on, dude!

(And sorry I ever doubted you.)

Also, Tan Eng Huat has come a long way:

ghost-rider-got-his-own

Thanks for all the pretty pictures, dude!

Review/RANT: Punisher #63

I know taste is subjective, but this just feels wrong. This is not The Punisher.

Okay, sure; I can accept Frank feeling guilty about the death of an innocent. What I can’t accept is this:

That panel should never have been written, let alone drawn.

Frank Castle would never put a gun IN HIS MOUTH!!!*

*deep breath*

I’m done with this book.

*It’s very likely that in the character’s lengthy publishing history this is not the first time a writer has put a gun in Frank’s mouth, so when I say “never” I am obviously stating my subjective opinion, not fact. But if these writers had any “taste”, I wouldn’t need this disclaimer. Heh.

ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – Mr. Sinister and His Marauding Marauders! Special Guest Stars, The X-Force!

*****START GENERIC, YET HEARTFELT APOLOGY*****

Well, so, um, uh… I was moving last week! Does that excuse me? Probably not, but I’m hoping the content of this article will make up for any sad bear feelings I may have unintentionally caused last week. DI apologies!

*****END GENERIC, YET HEARTFELT APOLOGY *****

TBS Wants To Date Me!

TBS: “Nice job with last week’s article, bra’.”
Billy: “I didn’t do one—oh, I see what you did there.”
TBS: “BWAHAHA! I am king!”
Billy: “Yeah? Nice Facebook, Douchey Mcdoucherson.”
TBS: “I do what I can.”
Billy: “Dude, I never see you anymore. Very sad.”
TBS: “Let’s have a date! I’ll drive up and you can make me dinner, and then we can see a movie at the local cinema, and then maybe, if you’re lucky, we can retire to the boudoir for a nightcap?”
Andrew: “Ah my gawd, SHUT UP!”

More Than You Ever Needed To Know About The Way I Think!

Let’s talk about the Marauders AND X-Force, shall we?

• Cable, Temporal Traveler – Yes, he’s got flight and range because he’s from some future alternate dimension, so no, he’s not the “616” Cable. Also, we loves the Highfather style beard.
• Domino, Probability Manipulator – Finding art for this card was super-duper hard, hence the Deadpool fist in the lower left corner of the frame. Ugly!
• Born To Run – I have a whole spiel about those stupid “Baby on Board” signs people put on their car windows, but I won’t bore you with it here.
• Techno-Organic Virus – Thank God for Patrick Zircher. What a master.
• X-23, Genetic Miracle – She’s slicing bullets—in half!
• In The Crossfire – This is a cover from like 15 years ago that I picked up in a dollar bin earlier this year. No-Prize to the first person to properly identify it.
• Rapid Strike – The art for this card changed a bunch, not because the previous art was bad, we just had too many good pieces to choose from.
• Endangered Species – Despite its back-up story nature, I rather liked this story.
• Psimitar – Rob Liefeld art for those Rob Liefeld lovers. Don’t be ashamed, you know who you are.
• Providence – Very happy with every aspect of this card. Good show.
• RL-9000 – Not sure if anyone got this, but the “RL” stands for Rob Liefeld and the “9000” is an allusion to the BFG-9000 from the Doom series. Also, if you don’t know what “defenestrate” means, for the love of God, look it up!
• Moonstar, Danielle Moonstar – Squeezing in that S.H.I.E.L.D. legacy, baby.
• Doop, Extra-Dimensional Void – I love me some Doop. Does this mean you’ll see more X-Statix characters in MEV?
• Cable, Mutant Messiah – Yeah, hindsight correctly perceives the art on this card as rather lame. Sorry.
• Bosom Buddies – Not much to say here, this card’s awesomeness is readily apparent.

Random, Alex – The flavor explains everything you need to know about this guy. He’s so ridiculous! This is definitely one of those cards that I feel was an epic design FAIL. I mean, is that ability random in any sense of the word?
• Gambit, Le Diable Blanc – Hey! It’s another alternate art card!
• Identity Theft – A late addition, suggested by the great Dave Humpherys, and we couldn’t be happier. That’s why Da’ Hump gets paid the big bucks. DING.
• Mr. Sinister, Robert Windsor – That flavor is pretty ribald, but I guess the editors thought it was cool, so…
• Gambit, Traitor – For the record, I hate Gambit, but I love you guys… dilemma!
Sabretooth, Wounded Animal – An X-Men affiliated Sabretooth… finally.
• Mr. Sinister, Molecular Manipulator – I love the look on his face, he’s like, “Huh? Yeah? I’m awesome, right?”
• Cajun Charm – Again, HATE Gambit, but man he’s got some good looking cards.
• Mystique, Raven – Now, Mystique? Love ‘er!
• Master Thief – Another great Gambit card. You’re welcome.
• X-Gene Decoded – Seriously, the art on this card is disturbing. Out of context, anyway. But still. What’s he been doing to baby Cable?
• Sinister Disciples – “Look at all our faces… we are so evil.”
• Mystique, Foxx – The Captain into Mystique? Janky-janks.
Three-Card Monte – Is this card any good? I don’t know, you decide… but either way, it looks damn cool. DAMN YOU, GAMBIT! Damn you for looking so good!

Who The Heck Are The Marauders?

If you’re clever and found the “hidden” spoiler, you know all about what’s going on with X-Force, so let’s not dwell on that. Let’s move straight to the Marauders.

So who are they? The Marauders are a team of mutant mercenaries hired by Mr. Sinister to do his dirty work when he’s just too busy torturing babies, like Cable. They can also be described as a bunch of clones of aforementioned mutant mercenaries… and also clones of those clones… and so on, and on… OH! And recently, during the Messiah Complex event, the Marauders teamed up with the Acolytes (you know, those dudes that used to follow Magneto, but now follow Exodus? SEE: Brotherhood from the Marvel X-Men set), so you can surely expect to see both teams appear in Marvel Evolution. Together. On the same team. Expect to see the following characters and non-character cards:

• Acolyte Protection!
• Malleable DNA!
• Neverland!
• 4xMystique!
• 4xMr. Sinister!
• All the Marauders!
• All the Acolytes!

Heh, it kind of just designs itself at some point, don’t it?

All Killer, No Filler

You want another actual spoiler? Check out this baby:

…so, wait, this affects ALL of your attackers? For real? Hey, TBS…

TBS: “Sup, dawg?”
Billy: “Dude, didn’t that card used to say something like ‘target attacker’, as in it only worked on one guy at a time?”
TBS: “Oh, I went in and changed a bunch of cards after Hump soft-locked. Beefed ‘em up. You like?”
Billy: “And no one notioced?”
TBS: “I’m a computer whiz, dude, of course they didn’t notice!”*

Recommended Reading:
• Cable Volume 1: Messiah War
• X-Force Volume 1: Angels and Demons
• X-Force Volume 1: New Beginning
• X-Force Volume 2: Final Chapter
• X-Men: Blinded by the Light
• X-Men: Endangered Species
• X-Men: Messiah Complex
• X-Men: Supernovas
• X-Statix, Vol. 1: Good Omens

Again, Wiki, Wiki, Wiki!

Whew, we got there. Happy? Did I make up for missing last week? Are we friends again? If yes, tune in next week for more random happenings as I take a hard look at Weapon X, or as I like to think of them, my favorite team.

Call your mom!

*This is a lie. TBS gets derf’d on a weekly basis. For the definition of “derf’d”, please direct your e-mails to TBS. Thanks.

Review: Astonishing X-Men #27

So, to be honest: I hated the first couple issues of this book. They smelled off. “CSI: X-Men”? No thanks, bra. But then…

Whoa, right? Of course, sure, there were images like this in the last issue, but I guess they didn’t register with me like this one did, or maybe I hadn’t read enough of Brubaker/Fraction’s awful Uncanny run to fully appreciate Ellis and Bianchi’s version of the X-men. It’s so refreshing. It feels out of continuity and I think I can fall in love with this, given time.

You know what? It feels Sci-Fi in the way Morrison’s X-men felt Sci-Fi, cutting edge and all that jazz. Funny, now that I think about it, I’m sure Bru and Frac consider the garbage they’re spinning out every month “bleeding edge”… PFFT.

Anyway, it’s definitely Morrison, but that’s obviously just the starting point. Within the pages of Astonishing there exists all kinds of Ellis-isms. Like, all the pseudo science babble (which isn’t all that “pseudo” if you’ve been doing your homework):

This next one cracked me up. When was the last time you had characters in a mainstream title calculating flight times?

All the sciency stuff is cool, but without likable characters, it won’t amount to jack-all. If you recall, I believe I bashed Ellis’ characterizations of the X-Men in issue 25. But, damn, all of a sudden, I feel like he’s really got the hang of these guys. For instance:

Cyclops threatening murder? WTF! Who is this guy… wait, this is awesome!

Four panels so far, do we think he’s spent too much time on this joke? Not at all. If it had been any shorter, we may not have reached this particular punch line…

…which honestly made me laugh out loud. I’m easy like that.

Later, Bianchi shows off once again with the following two-spread page:

So far, this issue includes three full pages without dialogue and I don’t feel cheated one bit, not when we have someone as competent as Simone Bianchi on the art chores. More please. It’s all simply TOO wonderful.

And finally, almost, the idea that firmly hooked me into this book; the concept that utterly locked me up for the remainder of the run:

It’s not by accident that a non-American writer came up with this idea. Seriously, how arrogant is it for us to believe that American mutants would be the first to form a group of “X-Men”? And I love that these Chinese X-Men were all about dreaming and enlightenment whereas the American X-Men, despite appearances and tired rhetoric, are about just the opposite. Ah, Science Fiction, how I adore your socially conscious ways.

Of course, the comic wasn’t a complete home run. Inexplicably, the following panel made it, albeit awkwardly, into the comic:

This reminds me of that classic line from the movie “Doom” where a marine (the one into underage prostitutes) informs the Mars base security chief that he’s, and I quote, “…taking a shit, you ####ing gimp.”

I wonder if Warren Ellis has seen that film?

Foilball’s Review Roundup #59 – Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, The Tie-Ins!

Deadpool #3 (***1/2)

Not as good as 2, and way worse than 1. I hope this series has somewhere to go once the Invasion ends. Or maybe I don’t. Can I really afford another monthly?

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (***1/2)

Wacky misunderstandings in space! Heh, but seriously, how the hell is Peter gonna convince all his buddies to come back and play nice? He basically brainwashed them! It would be pretty sweet if they all formed their own group and told Starlord to piss off.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34 (**)

BORING. Is this what we should expect from the forthcoming War Machine ongoing? Perhaps I should adjust my pre-order?

Mighty Avengers #19 (*)

Complete waste as it failed at making me care about Marvel Boy. UGH. You can’t just go through the motions, Bendis, you actually have to write clever character stuff!

Secret Invasion: Frontline #4 (****)

Still the best tie-in. Do you get the feeling that maybe Ben Urich is gonna bite it at the end of this mini? I hope so. I like him, but he bugs me. Actually, Sally Floyd bugs me more. Kill her, Marvel!

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (****)

This issue makes me very excited about the direction Marvel is taking the Inhumans. The War of Kings story is going to be epic, people!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (***)

I started to read this, and then I got bored. Heh, maybe I’ll finish later…

Final Crisis: Revelations #3 (***)

I don’t really know how to feel about this comic. It’s well written, but I’m not sure if I like it. Is that weird?

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (*****)

THIS WAS AWESOME! Those Rogues are some cold-blooded bastards, right! It’s interesting that Captain Cold thinks murdering Inertia makes up for murdering Bart Allen/Flash/Kid Flash/Impulse. I don’t think that’s how it works, dude. And, oh man, having the Rogues cringe at the possibility of the return of Barry Allen as the Flash really gets the mind buzzing for next year’s big flash event. As far as this being a tie-in to FC and not just a cash grab? FAIL. Sure, this mini explains why the Rogues opted out of Libra’s Society, but did anyone really care? That subplot was completely irrelevant to the main plot, that being the murder of Inertia. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book just as much without all the FC hoopla.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #58 – The Give-Away-Pile!

So, my new books came in yesterday and I’ve already started digging in… but wait! I still got some reviews to do. Well, I got some books to bash, actually. This, from now on, is what we will call “The Give-Away-Pile!”:

1985 #5
Air #2
Dream War #6
Foolkiller: White Angels #3
I Kill Giants #3
Moon Knight #22
Powers #30
Spawn #183
Stormwatch: Post Earth Division #14
Wildcats #3
X-Men: Legacy #216
X-Factor #35
Zero-G #1

Most of these books weren’t horrible, like Zero-G or Powers, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t all boring. Some of them were super-boring.

• Memo to 1985: go back to being good! Oh, too late. Only one issue left.
• Okay, Air—you’re done! No more Air for me.
• That goes for all things Foolkiller and anything written by that writer as well (his name escapes me at the moment and it would seem poor form to Google it just to bash him, yes?).
I Kill Giants? YOU KILL MY BRAIN!
Dream War made it so I never trust Wildstorm again. Speaking of…
• I’m dropping all my Wildstorm books (Stormwatch, Wildcats, Authority), which is super-sad because I really loved the story that set-up the new “World’s End” status quo. LAME.
• Somehow X-Factor is STILL holding on… why?!?
• So, issue 30 of Powers was the last issue of this volume? Thank you, Jesus! Now I have an excuse to drop this book!
Moon Knight, we’re totally breaking up after this arc is over. You know this. I told you many times. Don’t cry. Stop crying!!!
• Which brings me to…

X-Men: Legacy #216 – I had planned to write a RANT/review about this comic, but time passed and most of my anger subsided and then the 3.0 patch was released and I disappeared into “The World” for a week and a half and I forgot all about it. Until now.

Why did I hate it so much? OMFG!!! How many times are the X-Men writers gonna go to the “This Is Your Life Charlie Brown” well?!?!?! SERIOUSLY!!! Stop all the mind-control memory lane bullshit!!! Tired! Tiring! Sick! Over!

Whew… better now. That’s it for last shipment’s books, look for the new reviews to be posted soon. Okay, gotta write up an awesomely wordy review of the latest Captain America and head over to the DCBS site to adjust my order—I gotta cut all these shitty books!

Spoiler Review: Final Crisis #4

Darkseid IS here and he’s taken over the world. How did he do it? He hijacked our technology and used it against us, of course. Oh, and apparently Oracle DID kill the internet… so, yes, I owe an apology to all those that cried “lame” last issue. Sorry.

Gosh, Final Crisis just feels so EPIC. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: when reading FC, you really do get the sense that the heroes can and will lose. I know, I know… they won’t, but damn it, Morrison makes me believe they could!

Quick aside: Maybe it’s cheesy, but I love when they do this. It’s so 80’s! Loves it!

This issue is filled with tons of exposition, so much in fact that anyone still complaining that they don’t understand what’s going on with FC is either illiterate or mentally deficient. No jokes. If you’re dying to know shit, this is the issue for you. Moving on…

As in this week’s Secret Invasion, my favorite moment involved a man and his bow. I don’t think Ollie’s been written this well since the Silver Age. But alas, unlike Clint, Ollie falls to Earth’s invaders.

Beside the aside: This page was magnificently played. Please have all this attention mean that Black Canary will finally be getting the respect she deserves? Please?

The series of scenes between the battles featuring Alan Scott were also some of the best in the book. You can really feel the sense of dread and hopelessness in the general’s voice.

• Dear God…
• My green flame is waning…
• …the end of everything…

But, within all this hopelessness and despair there must be SOMETHING for us to cling to, yes?

• Barry reunites with Iris.
Miracleman arrives to save the world…

…and gets one in the chest. SNAP.

…and Darkseid “incarnates”. DOUBLE SNAP.

Spoiler Review: Secret Invasion #7

…kind of unsatisfying? Here’s why:

BIG FIGHT SCENE ISSUES SHOULD BE EXCITING!

There are a number of HUGE payoff scenes/fights/panels in this issue and pretty much all of them fail to get the blood pumping. For instance:

• The Big Three fighting side-by-side!

This dialogue is boring. BORING. And then a couple of pages later, Tony whines about his armor and leaves. Wow, great team-up.

• Janet vs. Hank Pym Skrull!

First, Wasp doesn’t even get to reply to Pym’s misogynistic comment, because stupid Stature swoops in to steal her thunder. Then, Bullseye (I think?) shoots Pym in the eye with a rocket (I guess?). Poor Janet, she never gets to have any fun.

• Spiderwoman vs. Everybody!

Wolverine takes her on and gets owned. Lame? Which brings us to…

• Hawkeye picking up his bow… again, and then…

…the part where Clint skewers the Queen’s face! This? This was awesome and it was just about the only part of the entire book to get me even the slightest bit excited. UGH.

• The Watcher finally shows up!

I mean, we’ve been waiting what seems like forever for this douche to arrive, right?

• Noh-Varr’s spectacular debut!

…and then I turned the page and thought, “so?”

• Hank Pym Skrull sets off whatever it is he put in Janet!

Janet growing all big and glowy is supposed to mean what exactly? The effect reminds me of how Wonder Man used to look. Hmm…

This is “going through the motions” at its worst. You can see Bendis trying, trying really extra super hard to make this shit cool, but I think in the end, Secret Invasion just got too fricking big for him. BUT! It wasn’t all terrible. Aside from the Hawkeye stuff, there was one other scene I enjoyed: Jessica Jones saying goodbye to her baby. Aw, sadness? Character moments, Bendis! What happened to the GREAT character moments!?!

Ah well, once again the art is super-spectacular pretty and the story registers just above “not-so-much”.

ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – Exiles and Shift’ing Yo’ Pants!

What the heck is “Shift”? Go HERE for an explanation.

Andrew & Billy Talk About The Many Virtues Of TBS:

Billy: “He keeps his car really clean.”
Andrew: “He likes good Chinese.”
Billy: “He’s nice to the Vs. peoples…”
Andrew: “Um, he has nice hair?”
Billy: “No. He’s a good rock climber?”
Andrew: “Pfft!”
Billy: “This is really hard.”
Andrew: “Tell me about it.”

Catching You Up!

Exiles cards previewed so far:

Blink, Earth-295, Clarice Ferguson – That’s a cover we swiped. She’s standing in front of a downed Sentinel. Wait, did somebody say “Sentinels”?
Illyana Rasputin, Magik, Earth 4210 – I love how much this feels like an Underworld card.
Five In One – I like Mimic, I do, but as far as power limitations go, this has got to be one of the lamer ones. “You can only copy five at a time… why?”
Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man, Earth-6375 – because you can never have too many Spider-Mans in Modern Age.
• Mimic, Earth-12, Infected – Ew, take care of that acne, dude.
• Panoptichron – Nice card, yes, but too bad about it depicting a crappy part of the run. What’s that? Claremont is still writing it? Nevermind.
• Blink, Earth-295, Dimension Jumper – This card has alternate art. OH, exciting!
• Mimic, Earth-12, Team Leader – Yes, this guy really is THAT bad-ass.
• Proteus, Earth-58163 – Ah, Proteus. I’m glad nobody cares that I couldn’t find a picture of the “actual” Proteus. Then again, Proteus doesn’t actually have a body of his own anyway.
• Shadowcat, Cat, Earth-Unknown – …pervs.
• Warp Shards – Artist correction! This is actually James Calafiore. Oops. .

It’s A Super-Dimensional Romp For The Entire Family!

Okay, I’m going to have to cheat you guys and only give you a short article this week. Sorry. Can’t be helped!*

Interested in spoilers? Try these:

• There are THREE Mimic character cards in the set.
• There are FOUR Blinks.
• Wolverine gets a couple of legacy cards in the Exiles section…
• …one of those cards is a character!
• 100% of the roster if filled with 98% of the Exiles from the comic.
• Weapon X characters from the Exiles comic do not appear in the Exiles section.
• Then what about Sabretooth, you ask?

What Will It Be This Time?

Because pretty much EVERYONE demanded it:

“Earth-Mojoverse”

“Third time’s the charm!”

TBS: “Seriously, guys? Why is it always like this?”
Billy: “Oh! He makes really good Vs. sets!”
Andrew: “Dude, he’s standing right there.”
TBS: “No, that’s fair… Legion was pretty stains.”

Recommended Reading:
1. Exiles Vol. 1: Down the Rabbit Hole
2. Exiles Vol. 2: A World Apart
3. Exiles Vol. 3: Out of Time
4. Exiles Vol. 4: Legacy
5. Exiles Vol. 5: Unnatural Instinct
6. Exiles Vol. 6: Fantastic Voyage
7. Exiles Vol. 7: A Blink in Time
8. Exiles Vol. 8: Earn Your Wings
9. Exiles Vol. 9: Bump in the Night
10. Exiles Vol. 10: Age of Apocalypse
11. Exiles Vol. 11: Timebreakers
12. Exiles Vol. 12: World Tour, Book 1
13. Exiles Vol. 13: World Tour, Book 2
14. Exiles Vol. 14: The New Exiles
15. Exiles Vol. 15: Enemy of the Stars
16. Exiles Volume 16: Starting Over
17. New Exiles Volume 1: New Life, New Gambit
18. New Exiles Volume 2: Soul Awakening

Again, a Wiki page exists! Go read it, if you haven’t already. Or like, I don’t know, read some comics?

Go away now! But stop by next week for a pair of previews (90’s style!) here on read/RANT! And then, of course, come back on Friday for another edition of Origin Stories to cap off the week. Later, dooders!

*I mean, who doesn’t know about patch 3.0.2?

Review: Jack of Fables #26

If you’re STILL not reading Jack of Fables, here is what you’re missing:

• 4th Wall Breaking Exposition!
• Awkward Girls with Big Hair!
• Interesting conversations in the Men’s Room!
• The poetic musings of Babe the Blue Ox!
• Irony!
• Even More Irony!
• So much Irony that unless you’ve been following extra close you’ll have no idea what’s going on!
• Babe defying gravity!
• Big final page reveals!
• And some final words from the star of the show, Jack of the Tales!

There’s tons more AWESOME in every issue, but I think I’ve given you plenty to chew on for now. My favorite part? When Humpty-Dumpty tells the “do ya’ over easy” joke. Hilarious. Get it?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Trade Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite

I’ve listened to and appreciated The Black Parade and I happen to be of the opinion that Gerard Way is a talented writer. That said…

I find The Umbrella Academy to be severely overrated. There are plenty of wonderful little ideas and flourishes throughout this work, but it definitely feels rushed and thematically insubstantial. Frankly, I don’t think Way put enough thought into it nor do I think it contains much in the way of “purpose”. And it certainly borrows too much from the works of Grant Morrison (no wonder he loves it so much), Mike Mignola and others.

The art? No complaints in that department. Ba does a wonderful job with these characters and concepts.

Although disappointed, I’m hopeful about Way’s next project. The guy can write, that much is clear. Now, he just needs to develop his voice.

ORIGIN STORIES: Marvel Evolution – X-Factor to the Power of Awesome!

…oh, hey. I didn’t see you there. How’s it going? Enjoying your Marvel Evolution previews?

In a little over a month the latest Vs. System expansion, Marvel Evolution, will be hitting stores. YAY! It’s been kind of a long wait, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. But! The unbearable wait is over, and like last time (and the time before that, and that, and…) a new set brings new preview articles. This time, almost all exclusively written by you, the fans!

TBS Is The Master Of Good Ideas!

Billy: “Hey, great idea extending the blog preview action from MUN.”
TBS: “I mean, evil genius?”
Billy: “If you say so.”
Andrew: “Why are you talking to TBS and not logged into the World?”
Billy: “Crap, let’s go pwn some noobs!”
TBS: “WoW has stolen your soul, Billy Zonos.”*

As If I Needed To Tell You!**

Here’s a quick list of the X-Factor cards previewed so far:

Cyclops, Mutant Messiah – Look for this version name to repeat four more times throughout Marvel Evolution. It was kind of a theme.
Concussive Force – The image for this card changed more than four times. Also, it’s a very powerful card… as many of you have pointed out.
Jamie Madrox, Multiple Man, Jamie Prime – This image, to me, cuts down to the core of Jamie Madrox’s personality. Love it. Also, TBS did a fine job figuring out all that messy identity crap. Kudos.
Re-Absorption – UGH, we hated the art for this for the longest time and always meant to find something better, but then I never did and at the time of the deadline we’d kind of gotten used to it.
• Cyclops, Man of Action – I wrote that version months before Fraction and Brubaker started referring to Cyclops as a “Man of Action” in their X-Men interviews. I mean, great minds think alike. 🙂
• Polaris, Back in the Fold – This card makes me so happy… for obvious reasons.
Multiple Man, Hydra, Army – Admittedly, his connection to Hydra is pretty suspect, but hey, it was an opportunity for subtle Crime Lords legacy and TBS loved it.
• Multiplicity – That movie was so lame. Sorry for referencing it.
• Strong Guy, Guido Carosella – I misspelled this guy’s name the most. I always wrote “Casserole” first.
• Iceman, Jack Frost – “Catch a cold.” Get it! Wait ‘til you see his other flavor text.
• First Class – the art for this became “available” at the last minute, and by that I mean, the latest Marvel Previews supplement came out days before the art deadline.
• Fearless Leader – the flavor here is extra cheese, but he actually says stuff like this!
• One Man Army – I regret not naming this card “One Man Gang” or “O.M.G.”
• Jean Grey, Jean Grey-Summers – You know, I KNOW this is Ethan and not Phil and yet somehow that fact slipped by me.
Cyclops, Astonishing X-Man – for the longest time, this was not the art for this card. Thankfully, I pulled my head out of my butt and fixed it. One of my favorite cards.

What To Expect From The “X”

In my mind, there are three unique versions of the X-Factor team, and as I was the one in charge of sorting out the team lists, you can expect to see all three versions of X-Factor represented in Marvel Evolutions. Do you require more detail? Sure.

You’ll see at least two of each of the members of the original group: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Angel. However, the character art on the cards may not match exactly the look and feel of this incarnation.

Unfortunately, that is just one of the many harsh realities of using recycled art. Marvel allows us access to thousands of high quality images in their online database, but since said database is relatively new most of these images were uploaded from recently published comics. I mean, X-Factor was first published in the 80’s, folks, and the archivers just haven’t gotten around to scanning them in yet. Of course, we also have access to my rather large collection to pull images from, and we surely did, but scanning these comics myself came with its own set of unique problems. For one, no matter how killer my scanner is, using printed comic pages from the 80’s (or older) as source material is rough. Basically, when scanned, the pages look like crap… and retouching images is NOT my forte. But enough already, I’m sure I’ll find time to speak on this more at a later date when I get all my excuses in order.

The second incarnation, the government sponsored team, will also be present: Valerie Cooper, Forge, Multiple Man, Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Strong Guy, Mystique, Sabretooth, etc… this is probably the least represented version of the team since finding art for them proved the most difficult. Believe me when I say I tried really, really hard. Obsessively hard.

The third, and most current incarnation, that being “X-Factor Investigations”, will OF COURSE be featured prominently. I mean, we know who butters out bread, if you know what I mean: Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Siryn, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Layla Miller, and M.

…and then a couple of odds and ends characters to satisfy those continuity minded fanatics.

As far as the X-Men dual affiliation goes, we used it pretty liberally, but only because most of the above character were in fact, at one time or another, card carrying members of the X-Men. But, that doesn’t mean we gave it to every single member of X-Factor. That would be lame. So, all the original members of X-Factor are dual-affiliated with the X-Men, but characters like Layla Miller and Valerie Cooper are not. And then there are some characters (Polaris, Caliban) who some of you will undoubtedly point out did not receive said most deserved dual-affiliating (that was an attempt to confuse with odd sentence structure). Well, that’s because for variety’s sake we decided to dual them with another team, and Hump was adamant about not breaking the “only two printed affiliations per character” rule. Sorry!

Okay, beside roster infos, what else can I spoil? Card names (and one piece of flavor) that I love and hope you love too!

• Fall’s Edge
• Cracking The Case
• Optic Blast
• The “X” Factor
• Vocal Minority
• “Please. This demeans us both.”***

Speculate away!

Spoiling Art, It’s What I Do!

And now, I give you the art for one of the cards that will undoubtedly become very annoying in drafts (if you can get him):

“Devolving Brute”

“He lost a finger on each hand. I’m sure that’d make anyone crazy.”

TBS: “I liked these better when they were on the main site.”
Billy: “Why? I’m my own editor here!”
TBS: “Exactly.”
Yip: “ARENA!!!”

Recommended Reading:
1. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted
2. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2: Dangerous
3. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 3: Torn
4. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 4: Unstoppable
5. X-Factor Vol. 1: The Longest Night
6. X-Factor Vol. 2: Life and Death Matters
7. X-Factor Vol. 3: Many Lives of Madrox
8. X-Factor Vol. 4: Heart of Ice
9. X-Factor: Madrox – Multiple Choice
10. X-Men: Endangered Species
11. X-Men: Messiah Complex

Also, feel free to hit up the Wiki page, a great place to start.

That’s it for this week’s installment. If you have anyone questions, feel free to post them here in the comments section. The way my e-mail is setup nowadays it’s much easier for me to find (and reply to) your questions and comments about Vs. here. So yes, Ken Williams, if you wish to bitch at me, you’re gonna have to read and (OMG!) comment on a (THE HUMANITY!!!) blog.

*Yes, TBS often refers to me as “Billy Zonos”. Weirdo.

**I guess it’s tradition at this point to use these articles to redirect to previews, so why stop now? Also, special thanks to Captain Spud for maintaining this thread. It makes writing these up much easier.

***A phrase that has, after writing it, entered my everyday bag of tricks. Heh. It’s perfect for any occasion!