Moore, Moore, Moore: Miracleman Book One – A Dream Of Flying

miracleman vol 1 a dream of flying I recently realized that, while I greatly respect Alan Moore as a writer, I haven’t read much of his work. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of my favorite things ever and Tom Strong definitely did something cool to my brain, but what about all that other work?

My main source of comic book news and inspiration growing up was Wizard. Say what you will about the publication I would eventually go on to intern and then work for, but in the 90s, in addition to bestowing the virtues of all things Image and awesome, the monthly also told a generation of readers about Alan Moore’s work beyond the ever-present Watchmen, specifically and most memorably Miracleman.

Originally published as Marvelman in England, the character actually goes back to the 1950s, but eventually came under the creative guidance of Moore (and later Neil Gaiman!). Mick Anglo’s creation was your basic 50s hero with a wild, alien-based origin, a stable of sidekicks and even more menaces to face. By the time Moore, Garry Leach and later Alan Davis worked on the character in the pages of Warrior, though, he turned into a dark mirror by which to examine not just the early days of this character, but the entire history of comics. Continue reading Moore, Moore, Moore: Miracleman Book One – A Dream Of Flying

X-Men Trade Post: Schism, Uncanny & Wolverine And The X-Men

x-men schism X-Men: Schism (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron with Kieron Gillen, drawn by Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Alan Davis, Adam Kubert & Billy Tan
Collects X-Men: Schism #1-5, X-Men: Regenesis #1

I’ve gone about reading recent X-Men comics a bit backwards. I actually started off with the first volume of Bendis’ All-New X-Men, but was confused about what was going on. Then I read the first Wolverine & The X-Men by Jason Aaron and Avengers Vs. X-Men but realized I needed to go back even a bit farther. I finally figured out that all roads lead back to Schism, so I got that as well as the first Kieron Gillen volume of Uncanny X-Men.

I actually read the X-Men pretty consistently during the run up to Messiah Complex, but that’s about my experience with these characters in this medium. After MC, the X-Men scored their own island, called it Utopia and seemed to be doing alright. Then Schism went down, shook things up and a bold new direction was kicked off in its wake.

In Schism, Quentin Quire, a teen anarchist mutant from Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, kicked off some trouble for the X-Men, but the real brains behind the operation are a bunch of evil, super smart kids who take over the Hellfire Club in an effort to make money and stir things up for mutants. In the process Cyclops and Wolverine come to blows over whether the kids on Utopia should be thrust into battle or be allowed to bail. At the end of the ordeal — which involves a lot of Sentinels sold and designed by the Hellfire Club kids — Wolverine decides to restart the school while Cyclops continues to train the children to defend themselves and mutant kind.

As an event, I thought Schism was well put together and presented. Sometimes these events with a clear endpoint (split the X-teams) feel really telegraphed and weak from a storytelling perspective. In this case, though, by making this an issue with valid points on both sides, Aaron and company do what Civil War couldn’t in my mind: make me understand both sides.

I also enjoyed the Who’s Who of X-artists doing their thing on this series. I’m not always a fan of the idea of splitting up a series like this with different artists, especially ones like this that are very distinct, but in this case, I liked it BECAUSE these artists all have such distinct styles. They all came to play and the results are great superhero action.

wolverine & the x-men volume 1Wolverine & the X-Men, Vol. 1 (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Chris Bachalo with Duncan Rouleau, Matteo Scalera & Nick Bradshaw
Collects Wolverine & The X-Men #1-4

As I mentioned, I was a bit mixed up and actually read Wolverine & The X-Men after AVX which is not the best order. After his disagreement with Cyclops, Wolverine has gone off to form his own school called The Jean Grey School For Gifted Youngsters. Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Beast and a few other X-folks including a good deal of the younger mutants all came along for the ride as well.

The first volume features an attack by the new Hellfire Club (a bunch of punk kids) and the introduction of a few new members like the new Krakoa, a nerdy Brood and a boy that sure looks an awful lot like Apocalypse (he’s from Uncanny X-Force which Wolverine also starred in at that time). I also really enjoyed the art by Chris Bachalo (who drew much of the Supernovas story that I’m also a big fan of) and Nick Bradshaw who blew me away with his part in Escape From The Negative Zone (dude’s like a cartoonier Art Adams). My only complaint is that the printing on this particular book didn’t seem to do Bachalo’s artwork justice.

I’m glad that Aaron wrapped up the younger Hellfire Club story, at least partially, because I kind of hate the idea of killer kids in general. I appreciate the idea of balancing the physical superiority of heroes against the smaller-of-stature children, but I always have a hard time buying into the idea that children are these awful, murderous creatures. It’s a personal hang-up of mine that doesn’t reflect on the story at all. Anyway, I’ll definitely be back for more of this book because it had a really fun tone, set up a lot of interesting relationships and makes me want to find out what happens to them next.

Uncanny X-Men By Kieron Gillen Vol 1Uncanny X-Men By Kieron Gillen Volume 1 (Marvel)
Written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Carlos Pacheco, Rodney Buscemi, Brandon Peterson, et al
Collects Uncanny X-Men #1-4

With mutant life hanging in the balance, Cyclops develops a simple plan: make the humans so petrified of his squad that they won’t be jerks to less flashy mutants. This so-called Extinction Team consists of Cyke, Emma Frost, Magneto, Magik, Colossus, Storm, Danger and Hope. In this first outing they go up against Mr. Sinister who has siphoned the power of the Dream Celestial and built a city of his own clones.

The first three issues are pretty tight and do a solid job of both explaining and showing what Cyclops’ mission is. I’ve always had a hard time understanding how the people in the Marvel U can be so bigoted against mutants when they live in a world filled with other people with strange powers, abilities and afflictions, so it was interesting to see Cyke go on the offensive against those people. All in all though, I’m not sure how long I’ll be on board this book. I loved WATX because it was fun and a bit light, but this one, like Cyclops himself, might just be too serious for me at this point. Still, I’ve got the next few volumes of both requested from the library and will let you know how those reading experiences go!

Youthful Marvel Heroes Trade Post: Secret Warriors Vol. 1 & Young Avengers Presents

SECRET WARRIORS VOLUME 1 (Marvel) Written by Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, drawn by Stefano Caselli Collects Dark Reign: New Nation excerpts, Secret Warriors #1-6 One of my all-time favorite comic book characters is Nick Fury. I love the old Steranko stuff and pretty much anything else the guy appears in. Unfortunately after the sub-par Secret War miniseries, my boy disappeared for a while, but eventually popped back up in Secret Invasion and got his own book again during Dark Reign. I think I’ve gone on record as saying that I haven’t been a big fan of the huge sweeping events that have plagued Marvel from Civil War on. It’s so hard to pick up a trade and try to figure out when the hell it fits in with all that nonsense. It takes away the classicness of some really good stories and lead to even more bad stories. Lucky, Secret Warriors was a damn good book, though I’m not a big fan of the basis behind the book itself: Hydra has been running S.H.I.E.L.D. from the beginning. I’m getting sick of stories that pull that “Everything you knew was a lie!” comics. But, that’s not enough to keep me away, hell they did something similar to this story back in Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury’s in this bad boy being all cool and secretive, training a group of young super powered people related to familiar heroes and villains, but also putting an army together made up of former S.H.I.E.L.D. guys, so you get a great mix of storylines from the missions to the relationships of the characters. I read this book pretty regularly when I was still at Wizard and even a little while after, but left off at some point. I always felt like this book should have been more important in the eyes of the greater Marvel Universe, but as far as I know it never turned out to be that. Ah well, I still dug the story and Caselli’s art is absolutely amazing. It’s stylized and a little cartoony, but still has an edge that integrates the multiple elements I mentioned. I’d check out anything this guy draws. For now, I’m keeping this book in my collection because it’s Fury and I dig the story, but I might get rid of it if the later volumes turn out to suck. We shall see. YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS (Marvel) Written by Ed Brubaker, Brian Reed, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Paul Cornell, Kevin Grevioux and Matt Fraction. Drawn by Paco Medina, Harvey Talibao, Alina Urusov, Mark Brooks, Mitch Breitweiser and Alan Davis. Collects Young Avengers Presents: Patriot, Hulkling, Wiccan & Speed, Vision, Stature and Hawkeye. Another team of young superheroes related in some way to other heroes, Young Avengers was fun when it came out. And by that I mean that original writer Alan Heinberg did a great job, but the book was SO late that it got really frustrating. Anyway, instead of getting forgotten or only featured in their own book like The Runaways were the Young Avengers were integrated into the rest of the Marvel U, including Civil War and the following events. Some even chose different sides of the Registration Act to support, effectively breaking the team up. this series of one shots came out to bring the focus back to the teen characters with a murderer’s row of Marvel’s hottest writers. Overall? The book suffers from the “when does this take place?” syndrome I mentioned above. It’s cool that they got Captain America writer Brubaker to write the Patriot story and Ms. Marvel‘s Brian Reed to write a story featuring the time displaced Captain Marvel meeting his supposed son Hulkling. I believe it turned out that Captain Marvel was a Skrull which kid of cuts the legs out from the story, but at least Hulkling’s emotions ring true. Aside from that, the book adds a few nice bits to the characters, but I’ve got to say that they would have been better off in an ongoing or a series of minis. Instead, this feels too little too late. I believe Heinberg’s coming back to the team which should be interesting. I’ll come back for that (after finishing this trade, I went back and re-read the original 12 issues which were pretty great still, I love how it seemed like they were related to some Avengers, but were actually related to others).