Noise to Signal

Login disabled.

Alternate Cover - 1st May 2006

Alternate Cover

There's a lot of interesting stuff out this week, though if we're being honest, none of it's especially good, which is kind of worrying because next week we'll be kicking off Civil War proper. You'd hope they can trail it better than this. Only Astonishing X-Men saves this week from being a total write-off, but it's so good it almost makes up for the rest...

New Avengers Annual #1

New Avengers Annual #1

Publisher Marvel • Writer Brian Bendis • Pencils Oliver Coipel • Inks Various

This is it guys, the moment all Bendis/Jessica Jones fanboys have been waiting for - the marriage of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and while it's not really happening in the title it should (Alias, or god, even The Pulse) we can forgive if as long as the story's good.

Of course, the joke's on me. This isn't remotely the issue I was expecting. The words "New Avengers Annual" on the cover should've clued me into that. This is more a follow-up to the current Black Widow's arc which began in the regular title with a couple of pages of Jones/Cage marrage stuck on the start and end, and a little extra civil-war thrown into the mix. I was hoping for an issue in the tradition of other iconic Marvel marriages - despite the cover billing, it was more of a subplot in this issue.

The artwork by Coipel is a bit sketchy, it's not quite on a par with his House of M work, and he draws an awful Jessica Jones, but he does some decent storytelling in what could've easily turned into one long confusing fight scene, so there's definite credit to be give there. It's a pity that he's another weak element in what is already a pretty week book. While it's still good, It's not quite up to the level of the regular series, and when you're paying more for a longer story, that's one of the things you should expect, so based on all that...B+

Astonishing X-Men #14

Astonishing X-Men #14

Publisher Marvel • Writer Joss Whedon • Artist John Cassaday

Argh, god, finally. The two-month wait between issues these days seems to stretch on forever. This entire issue has almomst everything going for it. It's a great Emma/Scott character piece at times, it's got some Kitty/Peter stuff that's playful and hilarious, and they move the plot forward in a shocking way at the end. No-one writes the X-Men quite like Whedon, and god help me, I'm even getting kind of interested in the "Breakworld" nonsense he invented for his run.

Two things nag at me though - firstly, Emma's actions - if it is her - worry me deeply, because she's always been a far more interesting character as a good guy rather than a villain, and I wonder if Whedon isn't just too old-school to accept that. Her turn towards good was well-motivated and I'll be quite upset if this isn't some kind of fake-out at the end of his run. Secondly, the reappearance of Cassandra Nova makes me hope to christ that the editors know what the fans have figured out - that Ernst, the young girl from the end of Grant Morrisson's run, is Cassandra Nova. Sure, it's not reached a point where her appearances in Astonishing directly contradict that yet, but bringing her back means we're walking on thin ice

Cassaday's artwork is, if anything, better than it's ever been, and with Whedon's bouncing back from the second, slightly-disappointing arc of ASM, this is indisputedly the best X-Book around today. If only it'd come out more! A+.

The Sentry (Vol. 2) #8, Cover by John Romita Jr.

The Sentry (Vol. 2) #8

Publisher Marvel • Writer Paul Jenkins • Pencils John Romita Jr. • Inks Mark Morales

Following last issue's slightly disappointing water-treading issue, we finally get all the explanation we've been waiting for about what the Sentry is and what his secret is. It's a little underwhelming, to be honest, but after being built up for so long I'm not sure it could've been anything else.

The idea - that Rob Reynolds isn't anyone special, that the Sentry could've been any random person, is a pretty good concept in itself, the problem is that it doesn't really tie in with Rob's self-image as portrayed thus far. It's also set up a good status quo in that without the Void, the Sentry's powers will still wax and wane, but the Void won't be there to pick up the slack as he has before. The Sentry is alone.

It's certainly been a meandering 8-issue tale, that's for sure. At times it reads far more like the opening 8 issues of a Sentry solo series than a single story. My opinion on Romita's suitability has changed quite a bit over the last few issues as well. While he does great work, and I originally thought he was a good choice, he's seemed less and less appropriate for the change in tone the story took. There's some good material in the story, but as I may have said before, it never really lives up to its full potential. B-

Incredible Hulk #94, Cover by Jose Ladronn

Incredible Hulk #94

Publisher Marvel • Writer Greg Pak • Pencils Carlos Paguluyan • Inks Jeffrey Huet

This issue unfortunately screams "filler." While the first half is all plot advancement, things grind to a halt for the end of the issue as each character recounts a tale from their past which in most cases seem to involve popular Marvel guest stars. How unexpected.

Okay, perhaps I'm a little harsh. While it's not that bad to learn a bit more about these characters, I get the distinct feeling that it's a bit of a wimp-out to start having Thor running around in the middle of a story that was supposed to represent the Hulk leaving behind the more established portions of the Marvel Universe. Not to mention that the retro-Kirby styling of Oeming's guest-art really pulled me out of the story. It's cute if done right, but I don't this this was an appropriate time.

What material is there is continuing in epic scope though, as a reader I'm really getting into the swing of the story now, and I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the opening arc ("Exile") next issue. B-

X-Factor #6

X-Factor #6

Publisher Marvel • Writer Peter David • Pencils Dennis Calero • Inks Jose Villarrubia

In this issue, PAD tries to take Layla Miller and justify both her existance as a character, and her inclusion in the book. With most of the titles now shrugging off the effects of M-Day/Decimation and accepting it as the status quo, it's fallen to X-Factor to be the title that deals with it more fully, since we already established that Layla has to stop the team undoing it all.

Her gimmick - that she "knows stuff" - isn't really explained in this issue, which is what some people might be looking for. That mystery is bound to be dealt with in time, of course, but at present we're given a definitive look at what her abilities are, which gives her a bit more depth than we've seen. She was, after all, a total plot device in the House of M story, and editorial have assured us there's a wider plan for her that'll address that, so I'm looking forward to finding out now that X-Factor has found its feet.

Dennis Calero, unfortunately, is no Ryan Sook. He's adequately held the tone, but I'm just not having the same reactions to his work, and it's unforunately hurt the title to have Sook replaced so early on. I'm warming up to Calero, though - the final scene with Layla looks great - and I'd rather him than some wildly inappropriate fill-in artist, so it cuts both ways. If he gets put in place as the regular artist, there wouldn't be any complaints from me. B- (I swear to god this is my third legitimate B- in a row, I'm not phoning these grades in. I take my grading very seriously!)

About this entry