This week, the X-Men and Superman relaunches continue apace, Bendis departs the Guardians Of The Galaxy, Nadia Pym is still the most adorable genius in the MCU and Black Panther fails to appear in a great first issue.
X-Men Blue #1
Cullen Bunn has enough credit with me that he gets the benefit of the doubt. This first issue is fun but it does seem to lack a point. We get a nice little team building mission with Jean leading the classic X-Men against Black Tom Cassidy of all people as he tries to rob a yacht full of rich people. Its well executed, the character interactions are charming and Bunn establishes the personalities as well as the angles he seems to be taking with the original X-Men but its all in service to a cliffhanger that, frankly, just tells us something that was all over the advanced advertising for this series.
But I liked Bunn's Venom even if his Uncanny X-Men was perhaps the most filler-tastic portion of the Terrigen Years and the basic idea of this series and the X-Men's new “mysterious” leader interests me so I'll be sticking around.
Weapon X #1
This was actually a really good debut issue. The Weapon X Project is hunting various mutants (the ones on the cover), they've already captured Lady Deathstrike in the X-Men Prime one-shot and here they come after Old Man Logan. Its a good action hook to start the issue with but after it we get to the scene that really sold this series to me: Logan finding Sabretooth to ask for his help.
You see, there's something about this scene that grabs me: Wolverine, despite Sabretooth trying to gut him, actually seems pleased to see the guy. They'll probably never be friends but I like the idea that Logan, having lived through his Mad Max Plus future, has actually come to miss his worst enemy.
Of course, no review of this issue would be complete without mention of artist Greg Land. Look, I could say all sorts of things about his work but by this point I think we're all pretty well-informed on what we'll find here. Actually, by Greg Land standards this is actually pretty well drawn: no one is missing limbs, people actually make eye contact, no one is having an orgasm. These are all improvements.
Action Comics #977
And here comes Dan Jurgen with some answers... eventually. I don't mean to sound ungrateful here but the majority of this story is Superman looking into his own past and revisiting the most stable, most well known part of it: the destruction of Krypton. There are, to be frank, other questions to be answered here. The slow reveal is, as I said with the last issue of Superman, probably the best approach to prevent the sort of front-loaded exposition-heavy snorefest DC retcons often open with but an origin retelling for Superman of all people seems like the height of redundancy.
Though I must admit that having the Daily Planet back is almost worth the price.
Unstoppable Wasp #4
Still the most adorable series Marvel is putting out right now, even if the writers aren't quite up on the world of women's professional wrestling. Seriously, Poundcakes and Letha would make a fantastic tag team in the modern WWE, maybe book them in a program against Nia Jax.
Anyway, bizarre fantasy booking aside, the cuteness continues with more girl genius recruitment, more Jarvis being perturbed about everything, and Nadia finally having her sit down meeting with Matt Murdoch. Best of all, though, her “best friend” *wink wink* Ying turns up again in a scene which leaves nothing to subtext if you want my opinion.
Guardians of the Galaxy #19
“Bendis' Big Time Bye-Bye Blowout” promises the cover and it was frustratingly good. After issue after issue of single character epilogues, some good, some startlingly irrelevant (the Angela one is literally just a coda to her solo series and naff all to do with her story in this title) Bendis hands in a really good one-shot finale with the Guardians going up against Thanos and an invasion fleet of various other nasties. Its big, its fun, there's a fight sequence with various of Bendis' previous artistic collaborators pitching in a page each, and Angela does her best Doctor Who impression at the Brood at one point.
As I've said before, it isn't Bendis' writing in toto that I have any sort of problem with. I really like his work, it was what brought me back into comics as an adult after a couple of years away but I'd be lying if I said his pacing wasn't incredibly off-putting at times. If this is what he can do for a single issue (and so, so little of this issue was built up in the rest of Grounded) I cannot imagine what would happen if this Bendis turned up more consistently.
Black Panther & The Crew #1
I am not at all displeased that Black Panther doesn't show up in this issue. Instead we get a flashback to the Harlem in the 1950s and an African-American superteam of ages past followed by Misty Knight investigating the death in custody of one of their number in the present. There's also a run-in with the Americops from the Sam Wilson series who have been sent in to uphold an unconstitutional curfew in Harlem.
In all of this Ta-Nehisi Coates proves he has range. Whilst this and the main Black Panther series are clearly the stories of a place and the people who live there before they're the story of individual characters they are so distinct in flavour. Coates is also clearly loving a chance to put a Marvel Universe spin on the history of a real place after creating so much Wakandan history whole cloth.
To be honest, my only fear is that I won't like this series as much once T'Challa actually turns up to take main character duties out of Misty's hands.