Laura Kinney, Wolverine, the best X-Men, stand front and center of the new team roster.

X-Men #1 & Comic Book Reviews 7/7

After Jonathan Hickman’s superb X-Men series about the mutants of Krakoa, we have a new superhero team that gives what the naysayers have been asking for. While I would have preferred what Hickman was doing, the new creative team is doing great stuff. This is one of the best #1’s that I have read in a long time, and the creative team should be proud.

But that’s not all, DC has some wins too. The DC Animated Universe is back in a big way this week with two titles that don’t disappoint. Justice League: Infinity and Batman: The Adventures Continue Season both capture the magic of the cartoons. Whether they will continue to do so remains to be seen, but they make a great week for my pull list.

X-Men #1

We have several members of the current X-Men roster, Sunfire, Polaris, Jean Grey, and Cyclops, defending New York City from an unseen enemy.
To us, our new X-Men.

Written by: Gerry Duggan

Art by: Pepe Larraz

Coloring by: Marte Garcia

Lettering by: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Design by: Tom Muller

To say this new X-Men #1 feels made for me would be the understatement of the century. It’s helmed by the writer of my favorite X-Book; it’s drawn by my favorite artist at Marvel; it has my favorite superhero (the best Wolverine) in it; this X-Men title is everything I want. 

Hyperbole aside, Duggan’s first outing cements my faith in this new series. He doesn’t focus on just one member of the team, he gives each hero a chance to flex their muscle, in one of the best set pieces I’ve seen in a #1. 

Asides from the subtle dig at the first arc of Jason Aaron’s Avengers with the mech, this book is incredibly friendly too. It deftly introduces the new status quo with the X-Men working out of New York, their friendly relationships with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men’s relationship with the people of New York. This issue ends with a reporter admitting that unlike when the Inhumans and Sentry were in New York, the X-Men aren’t scary. They built a treehouse, paid homage to people who used to live there, and let anyone come and see it. 

The X-Men can be heroes for the world, not just Krakoa after this issue. I never really needed that, but the creative team makes a good case as to why some mutants want that. Most mutants are Earthlings, and want to share the planet with Earthlings. They have the power and privilege to swing around, so they decide to use it to help people. 

X-Men is giving us what a lot of people have been asking from their heroes and their stories. Bombastic action, a light-hearted tone with real stakes, and heroes who do more than just beat things up. They still do, like I said, bombastic action, but they take the time to care for the world around them too.

Side note, I’m incredibly impressed and very much appreciate the creative team’s acknowledgement of the black-owned land and businesses who used to live in Central Park. The people of Seneca Village had their homes taken to build a place where they would not be welcome. It’s another great example of the mutant metaphor, without hiding it behind another metaphor.

Ordinary Gods #1

The cover of Ordinary Gods has the main character Christopher front in center, followed by historical figures who look Queen Elizabeth, Abraham Lincoln, Stalin, and some unfamiliars.
Are they really ordinary though?

Written by: Kyle Higgins

Art by: Felipe Watanabe

Coloring by: Frank William

Lettering by: Clayton Cowles

I’ll admit, having just finished reading the Wicked & the Divine, I thought this book’s premise would be similar.

It’s not, and that’s a really good thing. The first thing that immediately grabs me, as any good new fantasy world should, is how original the premise and the world is. Gods inhabiting mortals is not an entirely new idea, especially not to comics, but how they do it here is. The creative team comes up with its own brand new pantheon of gods. They’re all striking in their domain and how they relate to it, ruling over emotions or ideas. Then they’re named by their personality, having a “the” before the main world, making their names feel like titles. 

If you can’t tell, I really dig that.

But back to the point, this book’s premise is that Earth is a prison to hold the souls of the gods and keep them from reincarnating in a never-ending war. It combines several tropes and makes them new again, the hallmark of a good idea for a story.

To top it off, the creative team also shows that they can do normal as well as fantasy. They present a real character, with real, deep-seated issues, in Christopher (good name). What could have easily been a boring family dynamic and generic personal baggage, becomes something that brings the story down to earth.

My only complaint comes with how the story ends and gives Christopher his call to adventure. I don’t believe every story needs a protagonist to be an orphan or to become an orphan, but I still hope this creative team will make the most of it. 

Wonder Girl #2

Yara Flor, the new Wonder Girl, swinging her lasso-like weapon.
Yara Flor, Wonder Girl, front and center.

Written by: Joelle Jones

Art by: Joelle Jones, Adriana Melo

Coloring by: Jordie Bellaire

Lettering by: Clayton Cowles

This second issue isn’t much of an improvement over the first like I had wished. The first issue gave the impression that the origin was nearly over, but it’s clear now that the whole first arc is going to be an origin story. 

I also wish it wasn’t one full of plot glaring plot holes.

The Amazons are some of the best warriors to walk the Earth so why does this third tribe attack Yara like a couple of idiots? They try to jump her on a plane, doing so without rhyme or reason. It leads to a lame action scene that even the gorgeous art can’t save. 

Not to mention that one is knocked out with one swing and the other is punched out of the plane, yet later on they’re both there to confront Artemis and Cassie at the same time? Maybe it was a concession of the art, but it was weird.

While I do appreciate Wonder Woman’s side characters joining someone’s book, this feels like the wrong one. Why bring in a past Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl in the origin story for a new hero? An origin story that’s also supposed to explain a new third tribe of Amazons as well.

This series went from being pretty on the surface to nothing underneath, to being overstuffed and adding new problems without properly setting up resolutions for old ones. It’s only two issue in, so I’m probably being overly critical.

Hopefully, it all ties together in a way that makes the early issues work. I’ve seen that happen before. How they explain two rivals, maybe more, and now potentially a second love interest after two issues is beyond me, but I’m want to to see it happen.

Justice League: Infinity #1

Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman stand front and center, with Flash's head, Green Lantern's stomach, Martian Manhunter's abdomen, and Hawkgirl's legs, barely in the frame.
Justice League, the animated series has returned.

Written by: JM Dematteis, James Tucker

Art by: Ethen Beavers

Coloring by: Nick Filardi

Lettering by: tom Napolitano

Justice League: The Animated Series is my second favorite show of all time. It’s the best comic adaptation, period (fight me). When I heard that they were doing a comic book to continue the show, I almost fainted in my car. 

Don’t get good news while driving folks.

Now that the book is here, what is it like to return to the League side of the DCAU? Is it more Batman: The Adventures Continue, or more Justice League vs the Fatal Five? Surprisingly, despite having writers from the over a decade-old show rather than fans, the first issue lands. It’s always seems difficult for a creative team to go back to an old property after a long break.

I love Young Justice season 3, and parts of the Batman: The Adventure Continues, but they’re not the same as they were. Young Justice season 3 has some of my favorite episodes, but it felt a bit sloppy in its execution. Batman: TAC got even more sloppy, with tons of continuity errors, out-of-character moments, and a repetitive plot. 

Justice League: Infinity manages to both maintain the characters trajectory, along with the tone and charm of the animated series. It’s as light-hearted, but as serious as the show, letting it read like a worthy successor. 

It’s only the first issue, but if we just got one-off adventures for the rest of the series, it’ll be the best return to the DCAU yet.

Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two #2

Batman and Deadman fly over Gotham City.
Beware the Batman(And Deadman)!

Written by: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini

Art by: Ty Templeton

Coloring by: Monica Kubina

Lettering by: Josh Reed

Speaking of Batman: The Adventures Continue, season one started out strong, and so far so does season two. The Court of Owls plotline seems wrapped up in a tight and neat little bow, in a manner befitting of a Batman: The Animated Series episode. 

This was perfectly fine, good even. The dynamics were fun with Nightwing actually showing up after being on so many covers, and Deadman really brought something to the story. It’s nice to see Batman play well with others too, and this issue made the world of a ghost still seem plausible next to a man with no powers.

I’m just still so reserved because of how season one burned us so bad. It was one of my dishonorable mentions among the best comic books of 2020. I can recommend these first two issues, but I still question whether this book will be on the right track two issues from now. Some of those pesky plot holes might just be rearing their ugly head again.

But for now, I can recommend both returns to the DCAU this week. Where Jason Todd wasn’t much of an addition to B:TAS lore, the Court of Owls are.

Seriously though, stop putting characters who aren’t in the issue on the cover. Why is Zatanna on the cover if she isn’t in the issue? I hate that.

The Next Batman: Second Son #4

The Fox family, Tammy, Luke, Tim/Jace, Lucius, Tanya, and Tiffany all standing side-by-side in that order from right to left, with Tim/Jace in the foreground.
The future of Batman.

Written by: John Ridley

Penciling by: Travel Foreman, Norm Rapmund, Le Beau Underhood

Coloring by: Rex Lokus

Lettering by: Andworld Design

DC needs to treat this series better. With the story John Ridley is telling, they should just give him an ongoing, and give the rest of the creative team longer to really add detail to the art and make this series even better. It’s ridiculous that both Future State: Batman and now The Next Batman: Second Son, both end as if the series is going to continue.

The ending of this book is terrible, not because its written poorly, not because it’s a bad idea, and not because it’s a bad setup. It’s terrible because it ends telling us to pick up a new series. That’s setting the story to fail in sales so they can say a black Batman didn’t sell. They’ve made it needlessly confusing to follow this great story, and honestly, it’s bullshit. 

There’s real, rage-stoking, trauma-validating stuff in this story. There are no one-dimensional characters, and there are no useless subplots. Every conversation and its characters want something, no word is wasted. But, at the same time, character expressions don’t translate. There are some panels that just look unfinished, both in their penciling or coloring, and others where it’s perfectly fine. 

The art feels rushed, as this series has definitely been. I want more than anything for it to succeed because it doesn’t deserve to be set up to fail. I’m disappointed DC seems to disagree.

Return of the X-Men and the DCAU Fill Out a Busy Week

I had the biggest stack of my year this week from my pull list. Ironically, its when my wallet most needed the break, but with so many great books, I’m not complaining. X-Men #1 and the DCAU books really shined. 

The new series by Image, Ordinary Gods really capture my attention too. It’s a new title that deserves more attention, and I hope it maintains its quality into the next issue. I had a stellar and full week for my pull list, did you?

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