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Review: X-Men Grand Design- Second Genesis #1

X-MEN GRAND DESIGN SECOND GENESIS #1 (OF 2)Cartoonist Ed Piskor leaves the Silver Age and enters the Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, and John Byrne era in X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis #1 retelling the story of the X-Men from Cyclops and Professor X’s assembly of the “All-New, All-Different” team of Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Thunderbird, and Sunfire to rescue the original X-Men from the mutant island Krakoa to the conclusion of the classic “Dark Phoenix Saga”. The comic’s biggest strength is Piskor’s meticulous attention to craft including panel layouts and lengths, color choices, and lettering. With so much material to cover, there are no wasted beats in his storytelling, no filler. This does harm its emotional resonance which pales in comparison to Claremont’s original saga that partially worked because the longform storytelling created a connection between readers and characters and developed various relationships in more depth, like Wolverine and Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops, and Professor X and Lilandra to name a few in this time period.

However, for the most part, Second Genesis #1 is beautiful, yet streamlined take on one of the most important pop culture icons from a talented writer/artist. Even though there are appearance from various secondary foes and antagonists and even mentions of and cameos from heavy hitters like Magneto and Galactus, Piskor establishes from page one that the Hellfire Club will be the chief opponent of the X-Men in Second Genesis while continuing the larger Ur-narrative of the Phoenix that he hinted at in the first volume of X-Men Grand Design. And the force or character that these two powers rotate around is Jean Grey and later the Phoenix force taking on the appearance of Jean Grey as Piskor agilely summarizes the retcon that allowed for Jean Grey’s “ressurection” and absolving of a murder of planets in a sequence of dark panels that show her go from a powerful mutant to almost a fetus. He even shows his horror chops in his recreation of the famous scene in the “Phoenix Saga” where Jean absorbs radiation and crash lands the X-Men team after they rescue Professor X from mutant hater and experimenter Stephen Lang. A classic countdown sequence combined with some shocked facial expressions builds the suspense that culminates in a firebird rising from Jamaica Bay.

Although Second Genesis #1 is much more plot-driven, and the best X-Men stories I would argue are more character driven (And Claremont managed to cram a lot of plots in too.), Ed Piskor still takes care to flesh out the individual X-Men’s flaws, personality traits, and memorable moments. There’s a baseball game with Nightcrawler playing catcher, early in the book, Colossus and Wolverine link up in a trademark fastball special, and there’s even a panel with Storm’s claustrophobia. Piskor writes and draws Kitty Pryde as plucky and ingenious without being annoying and accidentally saving the X-Men with her phasing ability as Claremont and Byrne were trying to finish off their great epic while also introducing an actual student for the Xavier institute per editorial mandate. She adds bursts of joy and energy between the shadow and flame of Dark Phoenix and whited out psychic duels between Mastermind and Cyclops. The Phoenix and Hellfire Club predominantly take center stage while Professor X’s deal with Lilandra and Shi’ar runs off to the side, and even though some of my favorite X-Men were on this incarnation of the team, they lack a strong identity unlike the original five plus Havok and Polaris in X-Men Grand Design.

Don’t get me wrong. For all its flaws in the characterization department (For example, Piskor puts Professor X and Cyclops at a graveyard at the top of the page, and Thunderbird’s death at the bottom and barely hints at his headstrong nature.) and lack of focus on the Jean/Scott dynamic when Jean is at the center of the story, Second Genesis #1 is the rare mainstream comic created auteur style by a single creator. Ed Piskor gives the subplot heavy, soap operatic narrative of the X-Men a strong thread to follow and lets his nostalgia and love for the source material shine on every page. His art style is retro without being simplistic, and there is a kind of minimalism to his use of captions and dialogue, especially compared to the overwrought style of Claremont. In fact, his strongest emotional beats involve few words at all like Jean and Scott spending one last night in bed before the X-Men’s honor duel against the Shi’ar, and he punctuates these emotional crescendos with the use of black and white instead of the colorful costumes, spaceships, and energy bursts that permeate this book and the X-Men canon as a whole.

Even if it focuses more on singular narrative building than the growth of one of superhero comics’ greatest ensemble casts, X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis #1 is a wonderful example of the cyclical nature of myth as Ed Piskor filters the beginning of Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men through a lean, visually striking storyteller’s lens or his childhood fantasies through a steadier, yet no less energetic hand. I’d probably rather reread the “Dark Phoenix Saga” though.

Story/Art/Letters: Ed Piskor
Story: 7.2 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

SDCC 2018: Diamond Select Toys Brings Marvel Gallery PVCs, DC Vinimates and More

San Diego Comic-Con is approaching, and from July 19-22 Diamond Select Toys will be in San Diego, showing off their upcoming products and of course offering exclusive items! With three new Marvel Gallery PVC dioramas, one new DC Vinimates vinyl figure box set, one limited-edition DC Statue and a limited-edition Star Trek ship, there’s something for everyone at the DST booth! Read on for details!

DC Comics Vinimates 80th Anniversary Superman Vinyl Figures Box Set

It’s Superman’s 80th birthday, and in the wake of his landmark 1000th issue, Diamond Select Toys is offering this commemorative two-pack of DC Vinimates vinyl figures! Based on his first appearance and modern-day look, these two 4-inch vinyl figures are sculpted in the block-figure style and strike trademark Superman poses. Limited to only 1,500 pieces, this exclusive two-pack comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Barry Bradfield! $20 at booth #2607, also at other booths on the show floor.

Marvel Comics Gallery Grey Hulk PVC Diorama

Now that’s a Hulk of a different color! The Marvel Gallery line of PVC Dioramas returns to Comic-Con with a new variant that celebrates the multi-colored history of the Hulk. This new grey-skinned edition of Diamond Select Toys’ hit Hulk PVC features an all-new head sculpt and captures the character in one of his fan-favorite looks. Measuring approximately 11 inches tall, this diorama comes packaged in a full color window box, and is limited to only 5,000 pieces! Sculpted by Sam Greenwell! $45 at booth #2607, also at other booths on the show floor.

Marvel Comics Gallery White Phoenix Jean Grey PVC Diorama

The Phoenix has returned! Sweeping down from the stratosphere to once again merge with its favorite host, the Phoenix Force has returned to Comic-Con in the form of the X-Man Jean Grey, but in an all-new look! This white-costumed edition of Jean Grey as Phoenix captures the powerful entity in a frequently fan-requested look, and measures approximately 10 inches tall. Limited to only 5,000 pieces, she comes packaged in a full color window box. Sculpted by Alejandro Pereira! $45 at booth #2607, also at other booths on the show floor.

Marvel Comics Gallery X-23 as Wolverine Unmasked PVC Diorama

She’s the best there is at what she does, and what she does isn’t pretty… but she is! Laura Kinney, a.k.a. X-23, a.k.a. the all-new Wolverine, removes her mask in this Comic-Con-exclusive Marvel Gallery PVC Diorama. Striking a menacing pose that contrasts with her fetching facial features, Laura stands approximately 9 inches tall atop an X-logo base, and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Limited to only 4,000 pieces! Sculpted by Sam Greenwell! $45 at booth #2607, also at other booths on the show floor.

Star Trek Starship Legends Cloaked Romulan Bird of Prey

The ultimate showdown! The ultimate enemy! The Romulans return in full-on stealth mode with this exclusive cloaked edition of the Romulan Bird of Prey! Measuring approximately 12 inches wide, this ship is cast in clear plastic, but keeps its famous Bird of Prey logo, to strike fear into the hearts of the Enterprise crew. Packaged in a full-color window box, this ship is limited to only 200 pieces. Exclusively at booth #2607 for $70.

DC Premier Collection Batman The Animated Series Catwoman Gem Edition Statue

Gems gone missing? Search Catwoman! This highly limited statue of Catwoman adds real diamonds to our iconic Catwoman statue, for a special edition that is worth its weight in precious stones! With diamond studs on her collar, this approximately 12” statue qualifies as an engagement ring for marriage-minded fans, and is the perfect keepsake to remember the Batman/Catwoman nuptials! Sculpted by Clayburn Moore, this special production run is limited to only 100 pieces. Exclusively at booth #2607 for $200.

Marvel’s Answer to Cambridge Analytica, Musings on X-Men: Red

I’m a bit late to the party but I must say it is very good to see Jean Grey back in the realm of the living! The character brings this nostalgic warmth that has been missing in the X-Men for some time, and this warmth is reflected by her current mission and approach to mutant-human relations as seen in X-Men: Red.

We’ve seen multiple iterations of anti-mutant sentiment in the X-Universe. We’ve seen it in the form of an ancient bacteria, (John Sublime) hysteria borne from mutagenic viruses (i.e. the Legacy Virus and later Mpox) We’ve even seen it sourced and fueled from a telepathically empowered Nazi. (The Red Skull). The latest iteration of anti-mutant sentiment seems to take a page from the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. With Jean Grey back among the living, the eminent telepath has set her sights on fixing the ills of the world she’s been away from for so long. This includes a plan hatched from a telepathic survey of the minds of humanitarians, and cultural influencers, as well as the formation of a new X-Men team.

Jean Grey’s resurrection is met with the return of a classic X-Men villain and the discovery of an elaborate social media campaign to stoke the fires of anti-mutant furor. The campaign’s target of individuals with known biases and its use of social media is a clear reference to the Cambridge Analytica operation, which sought to influence those with prejudiced proclivities with targeted advertising and fake news.  This is not the first time Marvel has used its stories to as social commentary on real-world issues. Back in 2009 in the lead up to the Utopia Storyline, Simon Trask advocated for Proposition X a proposal for a policy that would have forced mutants, to undergo mandatory birth control procedures. This mirrored the controversial proposition 8 in California that would have seen the LBGT community denied the right to Marriage.

I always enjoy when this art form uses its narrative to represent or pose solutions to real-world problems of this kind. Not only does this connect the reader to the protagonists, it cements the superhero genre as a medium of productive wish fulfillment. Jean’s Grey mission is very wide in its scope and returns an advocative flourish that has been missing from the X-Men for some time.  Whether her team’s mission succeeds or not, it will definitely provide an opportunity for learning and reflection. What I have always enjoyed about the X-Men franchise, is the flexibility of Mutanthood as a metaphor. The team’s recent recruit Trinary, is a South Asian, mutant, who uses her techno-digital manipulating powers to rectify the gender-based pay inequity in India. The fallout from this protest leads to her joining Jean Grey and her team. Trinary’s powers help to bring awareness of this social media campaign to the fledgling X-Men team and raises some interesting questions on how this current predicament will be fought going forward.

Who wouldn’t want to develop powers, to combat the spread of Banonism that has latched on the ever-present “Fear of the other” in the United States? Or to develop a telepathic insight into how mental laziness, propaganda, and malice feed into systematic violence and disenfranchisement? What is so beautiful about this current run, is how it eloquently uses the mutant metaphor, to ponder or creatively inspire holistic solutions to society’s most chronic ills. Instead of reacting the way we always do,  with offense and subsequent attack. (methods anticipated and desired by those driving such conflict) the story in X-Men Red encourages us to move forward with strength in other matters, using understanding and creativity to tackle or disrupt problems that always recur and takes new forms this is essentially the heart of Jean Grey’s mission and it will be inspiring as well as instructive to see how it pans out.  If you’re a fan of Jean Grey, or just want to see a nuanced and timely story addressing difference, fear, and conflict, this is a title that is definitely worthy of your attention.

Review: Jean Grey #11

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Where we last left off Jean Grey, she had decided to face the Phoenix head on despite getting much reinforcements to assist her in the battle against the Phoenix Force but alas, it came at a price but has survived that price?

With the events of Phoenix Resurrection over and done with, the (sadly) final issue of Jean Grey can commence given issue 10 left off with a whopper of an ending where the Phoenix force straight up blew up the time displaced Jean Grey. It certainly left me dying to know what happens next.

The book written by Dennis Hopeless with art by Victor Ibanez has been a very engaging read for me even when it was first announced. I loved the writer, I loved Jean Grey’s new look and upon looking at the book, I was definitely entertained and it’s not just the best the time displaced Jean Grey had ever been written, it’s the best the character has been written-period. I love this character’s attitude and her responses to certain situations and what her future self has done, even with Emma Frost. It’s very engaging and entertaining and certainly the entire course of the book made her sympathetic to her plight about not wanting to have the same fate as her future counterpart. Hell, the lampshading on what came before was among the things enough to sell me on this book.

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It’s among those that have me rooting for the character to survive especially with issue 10 as I was constantly worried if she was going to make it or not. Hopeless is extremely good at writing characters whether it’d be women or men. He brings a lot of energy and is able to make any character compelling to read even when they already were. If somebody wasn’t a fan of Jean Grey before, I’d like to think this would be the book to sell them on the character especially time displaced Jean.

While I’m sad that this is the final issue of the book, it does end up being the most appropriate way to end the title. The entire issue culminates into her jumping into different time periods of meeting different hosts to facing the Phoenix Force itself head on. And it’s actually pretty clever and it kind of felt like Quantum Leap meets Silent Hill in a way. Okay, it’s not graphic save for one moment as to how the time displaced Jean gets resurrected and brought back to Earth which felt something straight out of Hellraiser, but I mean more on the psychological side of things. Which culminates into a great moment where the Phoenix Force is pissed at her despite resurrecting the OG adult Jean Grey completely, it just hates teen Jean but she doesn’t let what the Phoenix Force say bother her. I don’t want to give it away completely but it encapsulates everything I love about this iteration of the character.

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Dennis Hopeless really sells this issue. It seems pretty clear he knew this would be the final issue and decided to give it his all until the very end (and setting up what happens in X-Men: Red for Tom Taylor to write). The book simply never has a dull moment and how can it given what’s at stake for Jean herself? It’s well executed. The art by Ibanez along with assistance from Alberto Albuquerque help much as they provide plenty of fun facial expressions from everyone from teen Jean’s smirk to the rage of each Phoenix host. They certainly nailed those moments very well enough.

If you love the works of Dennis Hopeless or liked Jean Grey before, this is the book to pick up. Buy the trades, buy this issue or previous ones, whichever. I highly recommend this title through and through. Check it out!

 

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Jean Grey #11

Jean Grey #11

(W) Dennis Hopeless (A) Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, Victor Ibanez (CA) Gurihiru
Rated T+
In Shops: Jan 31, 2018
SRP: $4.99

PSYCH WAR PART 4
It was all leading up to this…young Jean Grey vs. the Phoenix! But after all her training, this might be a battle that she wasn’t prepared for at all. Now, trapped in a prison with former Phoenix hosts, Jean must use everything she’s learned to bust out! All this, plus what was up with that ghost Jean Grey?! Guest-starring Rachel Summers, Emma Frost, Quentin Quire, the Cuckoos, and Hope!

Preview: Jean Grey #10

Jean Grey #10

(W) Dennis Hopeless (A) Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque (CA) David Yardin
Rated T+
In Shops: Dec 13, 2017
SRP: $3.99

PSYCH WAR Part 3
• The Phoenix is almost here. Will Jean Grey be enough to stop it alone?
• Time to call in for some backup!
• Guest-starring Quentin Quire, Hope Summers, and the Cuckoos!

Marvel Reveals Jean Grey’s X-Men: Red Team

Last week, Marvel announced the continuation of Jean Grey’s story with X-Men: Red, a brand new series written by Tom Taylor with art by Mahmud Asrar with a cover by Travis Charest.. Today, Marvel has revealed the heroes who will accompany the omega-level telepath as she battles against one of mutantkind and mankind’s most dangerous villains! This uniquely qualified strike force includes Namor, Nightcrawler, All-New Wolverine, her sister Gabby, Gentle (a mutant from Wakanda), and the mysterious new character Trinary, whose secrets will be revealed throughout the pages of X-Men: Red!

One more “fan-favorite her” will be joining the team in the first arc as the threat escalates. The announcement says that specialized team will be “not just those she trusts, but allies who can survive the oncoming storm.”

When one of the most dangerous X-Men villains returns to wreak havoc, Jean’s dreams of peace are threatened…and order starts to turn to chaos. It’s mutant against mutant this February in an all-new adventure that will have X-fans on the edge of their seats, as Jean Grey’s team takes on the Marvel Universe – only in X-Men: Red!

Connecting Phoenix Variant Covers Showcase Jean Grey’s Adventures!

Phoenix rises again! And Marvel is celebrating with a series of connecting variant covers from Brazilian artist Victor Hugo, who is bringing his spectacular 3D art to the covers of one of Marvel’s most anticipated new series! Staring this January, Hugo’s art will appear on Jean Grey #11 as well as issues #2-5 of Phoenix Resurrection, each variant cover coming together to form a connecting portrait of the X-Men’s beloved mutant.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the magic with Marvel’s connecting Phoenix variant covers this January!

JEAN GREY #11: PSYCH WAR PART 4: Connecting Cover 1 of 5
Written by DENNIS HOPELESS
Art by VICTOR IBANEZ and ALBERTO ALBURQUERQUE
Cover by DAVID YARDIN
On-Sale 1/31/18

 

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #2 (of 5): Connecting Cover 2 of 5
Written by MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Art by CARLOS PACHECO
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
On-Sale 1/3/18

 

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #3 (of 5): Connecting Cover 3 of 5
Written by MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Art by JOE BENNETT
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
On-Sale 1/10/18

 

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #4 (of 5): Connecting Cover 4 of 5
Written by MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Art by RAMON ROSANAS
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
On-Sale 1/24/18

 

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #5 (of 5): Connecting Cover 5 of 5
Written by MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Art by KHOI PHAM
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
On-Sale 1/31/18

The 90s are Back for Jean Grey in X-Men: Red

Jean Grey is “returning from the dead” and Marvel has announced a new series to go along with that. X-Men: Red will be written by Tom Taylor with art by Mahmud Asrar and a cover by Travis Charest.

Grey sports a costume that invokes her 90s design by Jim Lee. Marvel has “mined” the 90s already for their X franchise with to new series X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue invoking the “Gold” and “Blue” team split from the 90s.

Grey will return in the five issue-miniseries Phoenix Resurrection which goes on sale in December. But that’s only the beginning as her adventures continue on X-Men: Red which will focus on Jean’s “vision for the world.”

The series will feature new uniforms, a new team headquarters, new characters, along with “a surprise villain at the end.”

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