Thursday, August 18, 2011

Odyssey X, Week 5: X-Men #15.1, X-Men Legacy #253, New Mutants #23, Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #2 (Bonus Book)

(Catch up on earlier posts and read the introduction to Odyssey X where I explain my attempt to read every X-Men title during X-Men: Schism) 

X-Men #15.1
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Will Conrad
Cover Price: $2.99

Marvel's recent attempt to make books "new reader friendly" has revolved around a series of "Point 1" issues. Usually self contained, they are meant to convey the feel of a title and introduce the characters and their unique struggles. With that in mind, X-Men 15.1 was a great Ghost Rider / New Mutants point 1 book! I kid, it wasn't actually great, but it really didn't have much to do with what I know of X-Men. Not only are the writer and artist different from the last issue, but the main characters featured here are an amalgam of Uncanny and New Mutant regulars - oh and Ghost Rider. The story itself centers around a demon-posessed Native American. The perfect job for Ghost Rider! Wait, who called the X-Men? Their presence is rendered completely pointless when, after disaster is averted, Cyclops pretty much tells Dani Moonstar that their job is to just show up and do their best sometimes. Awkward humor was abound in this issue as well, like when Cyclops mentions Ghost Rider looking "a little shorter" than he remembers. Just shy of pointing out her tits, this was the dumbest way of reminding readers that the new Ghost of Vengeance is a woman. As if this issue wasn't problematic enough, the artwork is inconsistent throughout. Conrad awkwardly portrays the female Ghost Rider, though that is a tough job for even a seasoned artist since facial expressions of the character range from "flaming skull" to "flaming menacing skull". Though I admire Conrad for trying some challenging angles, without a telling hairstyle, some of the characters were indistinguishable from one page to the next.

Verdict: A misleading introduction for new readers and a distraction for fans of the regular X-Men title. I am neither, and pretty well expect this kind of inconsistency from a book like X-Men.


X-Men Legacy #253
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Khoi Pham
Cover Price: $2.99

Didn't I just force myself to read this book two weeks ago? No wonder the art looked rushed. Awkward humor seems to be one of the themes this week for the X-Men titles, and in Legacy's case, some of the jokes are definitely unintentional (see Legion's ridiculously named "personalities"). The confusing conclusion to this team's battle with the mutant equivalent of Sybil results in the revelation that Legion was actually Rogue! After latching onto Legion and absorbing the countless number of powers he has amassed, Rogue gains a  "mutant compass" that leads them to space and Shiar aliens. I don't start and end too many books with a heavy sigh and eye roll, but there you go.

Verdict: Maybe I'm just being cynical. Perhaps a new, overused location could be just what this book needs!


New Mutants #29 (Fear Itself Tie-In)
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Dave Lafuente
Cover Price: $2.99

Well there goes my desire to add this book to my pull list. Much in the way the X-Men book was hijacked by the Point 1 initiative, New Mutants has been overtaken by Fear Itself. Cyclops has asked Dani Moonstar to fly to Vegas and make an ally of Hela, queen of the Asgardian underworld. This fits in with the events of Uncanny X-Men #541, another Fear Itself tie in, where the X-Men of San Fran are fighting a hammer-weilding Juggernaut. Repeated references to Dani's "Asgardian connection" and "relationship with Hela" all hint at events that I am unaware of as a new reader. With the number of times Abnett and Lanning refer to said relationship, they could have easily explained it in the same amount of space (then again, I haven no idea how convoluted the connection is). In addition to the story taking a sharp left turn into "universe altering event tie-in", the artwork has changed once again. If you aren't keeping count that's three different artists within three issues. This is one bizarre approach at keeping regular readers. Another inconsistency from this story is that Hela recently had a confrontation with X-Factor's Darwin which resulted in a big change for the character. Guess the editors forgot to tell the writers of New Mutants?

Verdict: This book is really starting to make me feel like I'm being jerked around! I just want the same creative team for one story arc, is that possible?



(Bonus Book)
Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #2 (Fear Itself Mini)

Writer: Rob Willliams
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Cover Price: $2.99

I was curious to see if the quality from Remender's X-Force had carried over to this mini; alas, I found the only real similarity was in the team's reputation for hyper violence. I also missed the first issue, and jumping in mid story point I had little interest in X-Force's showdown with a sociopath surgeon / genetic purist. The connection to Fear Itself feels like a bit of a stretch as well, so fans of the big Marvel event may find this mini lacking. Some of the philosophical musings of Rob Williams are interesting (do the world's super-heroes really help mankind or only make the world a more hectic place, the idea of a mad man moving beyond the use of martyrs to indiscriminate massacre) but in the end my interest could not be held, partly because of Bianchi's artwork. A talented artist no doubt, his ultra detailed style feels overworked at times, especially when it comes to the characters (what he does with Psylocke's costume would make Jim Lee blush.)

Verdict: This book embodies the superfluous nature of tie-ins / minis; not necessary reading to understand the big event title, and it probably won't add much to your enjoyment unless you choose books based solely on the characters.



Week 5 Summary
Total Potential Cost: $11.96
0 Book Purchased, 4 Books Shelved


This week really tested my patience. I started to consider changing my parameters, like maybe I could stop reading some books as I go along and only continue picking up the less-than-awful ones. But then I wouldn't get a real sense of this line of titles, which is the whole point of Odyssey X. The most difficult part beyond the poor quality is the frequency with which some of these books are being released. By my count, at least 3 of the ongoing titles were released in a 5 week period, and that's not even counting the first two issues of Schism coming out within two weeks. This must frustrate retailers (and some readers) to no end. Rather than the mantra "we'll stop putting books out late when you stop buying them" used by DC in the past, perhaps someone should remind Marvel that overproduction can have an equally negative effect on readership when a lack of quality is being exhibited.

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