Much of the GP team has a long weekend but that doesn’t mean we’re taking the day off. Expect a packed day of news! To get things rolling, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
2019 was an interesting year for me comics-wise as I did not get to read as widely or deeply as I liked because of a variety of factors, including my final two semesters of graduate school, working two library jobs (Where ordering and promoting comics were part of my duties.), and an impending move. Also, I decided to catch up on some “classic” comics like Miracleman, Ghost in the Shell, Junji Ito‘sTomie, and most of Brian Michael Bendis‘ and Michael Oeming‘s Powers, and Gail Simone‘s run on Secret Six.
However, I did have the opportunity to read some fantastic comics in 2019 as two of my favorite series of all time reached their conclusion. I also branched out a little bit, and this is the first time my year-end list has featured books from Ahoy and Harper Collins as well as a self-published comic.
10. Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (Dark Horse)
Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá, and Nick Filardi‘s Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion is as wild and anarchic as the Netflix show was tame and Muggle-friendly. Hotel Oblivion is a love letter to Silver Age supervillains while actually taking time to deal with the relationships between the Hargreaves siblings. Bá and Filardi’s visuals are a chaos magic-shaped bullet to the head and especially sings in the world and city-rending set pieces towards the end of the miniseries that I read in trade paperback format.
Beth Barnett‘s self-published graphic memoir-meets-historical biography Dreamers of the Day is one of the most unique comics I’ve read in recent years. It chronicles the author’s trip to England as she conducts research on a graphic biography about T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia and is educational while being emotionally compelling. If there’s one word to describe this comic, it is “enthusiastic” as Barnett’s passion for making art, studying history, and making it relevant to contemporary readers shines through in her iconic, Herge-esque art style and accessible prose.
8. Winter Soldier#2-5(Marvel)
Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis create a redemptive narrative for the sidekick-turned assassin-turned superhero and occasional black ops agent, Bucky Barnes in their Winter Soldier miniseries. The comic’s beating heart is the flawed relationship between Bucky and RJ, a child assassin, that Bucky sees a lot of himself in. There is both humor and tragedy in their interactions. Reis’ lush pencils to color art style works for both the emotional breakdowns and action beatdowns.
7. Steeple #1-4 (Dark Horse)
The fantastic John Allison (Giant Days) both writes and draws this miniseries about an Anglican priest in training named Billie, who is assigned to a parish in the kooky village of Tredregyn, Cornwall. Steeple has an “anything but the kitchen sink” tone as its plots include fights against sea monsters, a charismatic Christian cult connected to windmills, and an ongoing conflict against the Church of Satan. (Billie also strikes up an unlikely friendship with the Satanic priestess, Maggie.) Allison mines a lot of humor out of the idiosyncrasies of different religions and small town life as well as the melodrama of good versus evil, and his art is expressive as always with the help of colorist Sarah Stern.
6. Second Coming #1-5 (Ahoy)
Speaking of religious satire, Mark Russell, Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy do an excellent job of showing how the historical figure Jesus would be received in the modern world with the twist of having an “edgy” superhero named Sunstar as a roommate. Beginning with a retelling of the creation of the world, Russell and Pace walk a tightrope between reverence and irreverence touching on a variety of issues, including megachurches, homophobia, and Pauline theology. Another enjoyable part of Second Coming is Leonard Kirk’s inking when the story decides to be a traditional superhero comic for a second, or there’s a flashback to Satan tempting Jesus as he plays a complex role in the narrative.
I knew Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain‘s Once and Future would be my cup of tea when it featured Arthurian legends and the town of Bath where I studied abroad in summer 2014 as plot points as well as having a complicated relationship between a grandmother and grandson at its core. Once and Future is action-packed read steeped in Arthurian lore with dynamic art from Mora and a mystical color palette from Bonvillain. It’s a straightforward adventure/dysfunctional family/romance comic that also plays with the symbols (Excalibur, Holy Grail etc.) and tropes of these kinds of stories, and I’m glad that it’s an ongoing and not just a mini.
4. Giant Days #46-54, As Time Goes By (BOOM! Studios)
Esther, Daisy, and Susan finally go their separate ways in the final issues of John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar‘s Giant Days plus a reunion one-shot where Daisy and Susan tag-team and rescue Esther from the clutches of Type A London publishing types. The final year of Giant Days had a lot of pathos to go with its usual comedy with several issues focusing on the strained relationship between Susan’s boyfriend McGraw and his father and his reaction to his sudden death. There is also all the usual college shenanigans with moments of reflection to show that these women have come a long way from randomly sharing a room back in far off 2015.
3. House of X #1-6, Powers of X #1-6 (Marvel)
In their ambitious twelve-issue House of X/Powers of X “event”, Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, and Pepe Larraz made the X-Men relevant again thanks to a heavy dose of speculative fiction, geopolitics, and good old fashioned superhero soap opera. Hickman gave B-list characters like Goldballs, Doug Ramsey, and of course, Moira MacTaggert and the sentient island of Krakoa pivotal roles in his story of a rise of a mutant nation as well as the usual suspects like Magneto, Professor X, the Summers family, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost. He created a fantastic sandbox for these fan-favorite characters to play in as well as leaving some intrigue open for the spinoff stories. (The whole Moira X thing, Kitty Pryde being unable to enter Krakoa, Apocalypse and Sinister’s intentions.) I haven’t been this excited to read the X-Books as a line since Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen were writing Wolverine and the X-Men and Uncanny X-Men respectively. Plus the Hickman designed diagrams add great depth to the story and area visual treat.
2. New Kid (HarperCollins)
New Kid is a middle-grade graphic novel by cartoonist Jerry Craft that was recommended to me by my supervisor at the public library I worked at. Itis about an African-American teenager named Jordan, who transfers from a diverse public middle school to a less diverse private one. Over the course of the book, Craft fleshes out Jordan and his relationships with his old friends from his neighborhood to his new ones at the private school as he navigates playing soccer, racial microaggressions, crushes, and bonding over art and video games. The comic deftly navigates race and class issues while being an enjoyable slice of life story with Craft adding some fun visual flourishes like making the title page of each chapter a pop culture homage. New Kid‘s clear storytelling and a relatable storyline about not fitting in at a new school make it a book that I would recommend to kids and adults, comics and non-comics readers.
1. The Wicked + the Divine #41-45 (Image)
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson really stuck the landing in the final arc of The Wicked + the Divine, which was titled “Okay” and followed the surviving Pantheon members as they gave up divinity and lived normal lives. Basically, they grew up, and so did I. The last issues of WicDiv are peppered with powerful moments as Gillen and McKelvie connect flashbacks of the millennia past to the Pantheon’s reality and let Ananke/Minerva be a manipulator, Luci be wicked, Baal be a protector, and Laura be human one last time. The final issue is an epilogue set in the future and filled with love and emotion with McKelvie and Wilson nailing the look of the elderly, former Pantheon members. It’s sad to see WicDiv go, but it had a beautiful ending and was my favorite comic, both of 2019 and of the decade as a whole.
Mutants talking economic policy at Davos! Cyclops/Wolverine/Jean: a throuple! Is Krakoa Israel or is it a gay bar? Jonathan Hickman leads a relaunch of X-men comics that X-Men fans call #HoXPox. What are the politics of the series? This looks like a job for:
Chingy Le Gay is a writer, comedian, advice columnist, and critically acclaimed ex-girlfriend. Her work focuses on queer dating, pop culture, and her weird sex life and can be found at Out Magazine, Jezebel, Them, and Autostraddle. https://twitter.com/TheGayChingy
Steven Attewell writes about the intersection of history, politics, and pop culture in The People’s History of the Marvel Universe for Graphic Policy, and at https://racefortheironthrone.tumblr.com/ (where he’s been covering HoX/PoX issue-by-issue). In his day job, he teaches public policy at CUNY’s School for Labor and Urban Studies. https://twitter.com/StevenAttewell
Comparing AOC and Krakoa
“No it’s not a cult!”
Who gets to tell big stories in comics
Mutant Social Reproduction in the Marxist sense & the sexy sense
Free All Political Prisoners!
“My medication is an endless supply of Charles Xaviers”
A new age for mutants is upon us and with it comes a brand-new way to get in on the action! Jonathan Hickman reshaped the entire world of the X-Men in House of X and Powers of X with shocking revelations and the promise of an exciting future. Now Hickman will lead some of Marvel’s biggest talents into the “Dawn of X,” the first wave of six distinct ongoing titles that will explore the X-Men’s new status quo: X-Men, Marauders, Excalibur, X-Force, New Mutants, and Fallen Angels, each launching the X-Men into thrilling new directions!
This February, Marvel is collecting the first issue of each of those series in Dawn of X Volume 1 TPB.
DAWN OF X VOL. 1 TPB
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN, BENJAMIN PERCY, GERRY DUGGAN, TINI HOWARD, BRYAN HILL & ED BRISSON Penciled by LEINIL FRANCIS YU, JOSHUA CASSARA, MATTEO LOLLI, MARCUS TO, SZYMON KUDRANSKI & ROD REIS NEW Cover by TBA
Get in on the ground floor of the Dawn of X! Jonathan Hickman rewrites all the rules and reinvents the X-Men universe for a new and exciting era! Hickman himself helms the adventures of a powerhouse team of X-MEN in a world of fresh possibilities — and co-writes the reunited NEW MUTANTS on a cosmic quest to find their missing friend! And more of the industry’s best and brightest talents take on uncanny X-squads! X-FORCE — the CIA of the mutant world, one half intelligence, the other half special ops! Captain Kate Pryde and her MARAUDERS of the high seas! A new Captain Britain leads EXCALIBUR — made up of Rogue, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee…and Apocalypse! But who are the FALLEN ANGELS? Collecting X-MEN (2019) #1, X-FORCE (2019) #1, MARAUDERS #1, EXCALIBUR (2019) #1, FALLEN ANGELS (2019) #1 and NEW MUTANTS (2019) #1.
Alex and Joe talk about the semi-recent Batmanissues, Joker and their thoughts on the recently ended House/Powers Of X. It’s worth noting that this was intended to come out last week, but Alex forgot to upload the recording.
As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.
It’s been nearly six years since I last picked up a new X-Men comic with any real consistency. The last series I read with any regularity featuring the merry mutants was Jason Aaron‘s Wolverine and the X-Men. Which apparently ended around six years ago. It’s fair to say that I’m a little out of touch with that side of the Marvel Universe (though I have been following both Old Man Loganand Dead Man Logan, but those series didn’t really involve the X-Men as much as a team book would). More than a little, honestly. A lot has happened in the six years I’ve been away, and since I barely pay attention to solicitations I have missed most of it.
But with Johnathan Hickman steering the X-Men in a new direction with both House and Powers Of X, I thought this might be a good time to start reading X-Men comics again.
But how easy is it to jump back in relatively blind after more than half a decade away?
Expect spoilers as I try to make sense of the comic.
I’ve found that the Powers Of X comics have been used to fill in information holes and expand upon points made in earlier issue of House Of X. That’s largely the same here, with Powers Of X #6 expanding upon a certain scene within the finale of the aforementioned comic.
It’s that finale that has been sitting with me for several days, delaying the release of this column as I try and make sense of how the House/Powers Of X event has left me feeling. On the one hand, as a reintroduction to the X-Men after nearly six years, it has definitely set me up for success. It has laid the foundation stones for the plethora of new X-Men books coming out starting this week, and while I have no intention of picking them all up, I’ll certainly read two or three.
I’ll be entering the new X-books at a place that will allow me to enjoy the stories for what they are without trying to piece together various arcs from online snippets and editor’s notes in the comics themselves. I’ll know that the mutants have created their own nation, almost entirely exclusive to mutants. In that regard, it was an unmitigated success.
In that regard.
If you were waiting for the other shoe to drop, here it comes.
House/Powers Of X has shifted the X-Men’s place from a minority group fighting for peaceful coexistence with humanity to an elitist nation who think themselves above humanity. While there may be peaceful coexistence, it won’t be as equals anymore.
There are two prime quotes that exemplify this for me, the first has been included in every version of this column and comes from the final page of the first issue. If you need a reminder, scroll up. The second comes from House Of X #5, immediately after a large number of mutants arrive on Krakoa.
It’s with Apocalypse’s line that “you have finally become what I intended you to be. I couldn’t be more proud.” that I realized the X-Men had embraced the big blue mutant’s mantra of “survival of the fittest” in the most obvious was possible. They created a nation of the “the fittest.”
A nation where no mutant need stay dead (and I still don’t know if the new not-technically-a-clone Wolverine after his death and regrowth (read House #4 and #5 for details) has adamantium in his bones or not. If he does, how did it get put into the new body? That’s actually the least of my questions regarding the resurrection process, if I’m honest, but it’s one I focus on because it’s that kind of nitpicking detail I want. No, my bigger question is why does Professor X only copy mutants? Why not expand to humanity as a whole?
Is it because of the constraints of Cerebro as a whole? Unlikely, seeing as how Forge could overcome those with enough time as he did the initial design in Powers #5. No, instead it’s almost like Xavier doesn’t care as much about humans as he does mutants.
Which is a stunning revelation from a man who preached peaceful coexistence for decades (despite having moments of being a slight creep over the years – just google them). Yes, it’s a bold new direction for the X-Men going forward, but one has to wonder; the X-Men have for decades stood as an allegory for minorities and the down trodden. Is this shift emblematic of those minorities finally going back where they came from, or a shift toward a position of elitism as the mutants embrace the superior in homo superior?
How the X-Men are handled from here on out will be very interesting. At the least, this event has me intrigued enough to pick up X-Men #1 when it hits the shelves this week. Though I’ll be keeping the positional shift firmly in mind as I continue to follow the adventures of the X-Men.
“You see I know how you humans love your symbolism, almost as much as you love you religion. And I wanted you – I needed you – to understand… you have new gods now.”
Magneto, House Of X, #1 p.47. I keep leaving this image and quote in the column because, for me, it’s emblematic of the series as a whole. It’s Hickman, through Magneto, setting the stage for the future of the X-Men.
Marvel provided a FREE copy for review purposes, but I read the comic in print from my LCS.
It’s a new week and we’re getting prepared for Baltimore Comic Con. Who’s going? Sound off below! While you get the week started, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off on the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.
With Powers of X #6, writer Jonathan Hickman cements his manifesto. It’s a bold new direction and vision of the X-Universe for years to come. The finale continues his split storytelling focusing on three eras of the Marvel Universe revolving around the X-Men. With some callbacks and some final reveals, the picture is clear.
Hickman has positioned the future of the X-Men not as the allegorical representation of the struggling minority. Instead, Hickman’s X-Men has taken on the role of nationalist. Specifically, the white nationalist raging against their inevitable loss to demographics and the future.
As far as stories go, Powers of X and its sibling series House of X has been top notch science fiction. As far as X-Men stories go, the two have ripped the essence of the characters out from them. It has featured massive shifts in character outlooks and their overall position in the greater narrative.
The X-Men, and specifically Charles Xavier, are no longer the heroes but manipulating the system in an attempt to hold on to dominance. It’s a villainous role that Xavier and Magneto admit to in a pivotal scene involving Moira. While some might still see this as a fight for survival their actions are no longer one of equality. Their statements are those of superiority.
Moira being the deus ex machina that has made this shift possible. Moira is the lynchpin of it all. She is what the narrative, and now the Marvel Universe, revolves around. That becomes clear in the far future as neo-humanity faces the Phalanx and the reveals there.
It’s also clear a future conflict over all of this is on the horizon and years down the road when sales falter and things need to be redone again.
The art for Powers of X #6 by R.B. Silva and Pepe Laraz is amazing as expected. For the insidious nature of it all, the art for everything is beautiful to look at. The colors by Marte Gracia and David Curiel make it all pop. The lettering by Clayton Cowles helps evoke the emotion of dialogue. The X-Men haven’t looked this good in a long time.
While I’m excited as to where this all goes at the same time it feels like the heart of the X-Men has been ripped out from them. They have often reflected the socio-political reality of the time and here they take on the role of the bad guys, nationalists fighting for dominance due to a perceived superiority. And much like those nationalists in all reality they will lose… when Moira dies down the road and this is all rebooted again.
Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: R.B. Silva Pepe Laraz Color: Marte Gracia, David Curiel Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller Story: 8.25 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!
Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!
Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.
Batman’s Grave #1 (DC Comics) – Warren Ellis takes on Batman with Bryan Hitch and Kevin Nowland on art.
Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues #1 (IDW Publishing) – The original Karate Kid is told from Johnny’s perspective. Sounds entertaining to us as we’re fans of the film series.
Dead Legends Premier Edition #1 (A Wave Blue World) – The publisher is putting out premier editions of their comics which then switch to digital releases or a trade after. We’re intrigued if this new release method works and if this first issue would get us interested in continuing with that sort of release.
Ginseng Roots #1 (Uncivilized Books) – Craig Thompson recounts his life of harvesting ginseng from ages 10 to 20.
Hellmouth #1 (BOOM! Studios) – Angel and Buffy crossover in an event that already is selling out!
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #1 (DC Comics) – The latest DC Black Label comics is another Joker/Harley Quinn story and we’re intrigued how, and if, this one will be original to stand out.
RWBY #1 (DC Comics) – The popular anime gets a series from DC. How this will differ from the manga already released will be interesting.
Powers of X #6 (Marvel) – Jonathan Hickman’s new direction for the X-Universe wraps up.
Shoplifters Will Be Liquidated #1 (AfterShock) – The largest retailer in the world requires the best loss prevention staff and they defend things at any and all costs.
Smedley (Dead Reckoning) – The graphic novel is a solid introduction to the military hero and his rather interesting life of service and advocacy.
Spawn #301 (Image Comics) – The comic breaks a record for ongoing superhero series with this issue and that history-making fact is why it’s on our list.