APOCALYPSE AND THE X-TRACTS #1/ Script by TIM SEELEY/ Art by SALVA ESPIN/ Colors by ISRAEL SILVA/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1 is, on one-hand, an introduction to the Age of X-Man reality through the eyes of Kitty Pryde, Genesis, Dazzler, Eye-Boy, Unveil, and En Sabah Nur. On the other hand, it’s a disjointed manifesto against those who rule the Age of X-Man.
Tim Seeley, who normal excels at balancing character development and plot, randomly scatters concepts throughout this issue that just leave the reader confused. The issue moves quickly from one intriguing and mysterious plot tease to several pages establishing that Dazzler, Eye-Boy and Kitty Pryde are En Sabah Nur’s “Riders.” Then things get really weird.
Genesis whines and En Sabah Nur wears a sweet Apocalypse jacket and suit pants, before they all commune with Unveil. The comic’s art takes a brief and poetic pause followed by more psychedelic communion. Then we come back to the plot tease from the issue’s first few panels.
The book feels way too disjointed as it stumbles through these aspects of the story. I was interested in the plot tease and then I complete forgot about it because I was trying to figure out exact what the heck was going on in the scenes set in En Sabah Nur’s aptly named nightclub, “The Gilded Tomb.”
As much as I’m usually a fan of Seeley’s writing, I’m also normally a fan of Salva Espina’s art. Yet as the story here seems confusing, the art feels disjointed. Espina’s representations of the X-Tracts are cartoonish and flat, yet many panels simultaneously have vibrant, detailed backgrounds that don’t mesh with the characters at all.
All in all, I’m disappointed that this tie-in it turned out to be so inconsistently developed, paced, and drawn, given the talent involved. Between the confusing story and the conflicted artwork, the final effect leaves one feeling like they were reading the comic while afflicted with vertigo.
THE FLASH #66/ Script by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON/ Art by SCOTT KOLINS/ Colors by LUIS GUERRERO/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
The past few issues of The Flash revealed that the original Trickster, James Jesse, is alive and well and in hiding. We still have no idea what the rogue who faced The Flash armed with nothing but toys and his wits is up to, but this issue does give James Jesse a badly needed background update. This was necessary given how horribly confusing Trickster’s backstory became in the years leading up the New 52 and the fact that he didn’t even seem to exist in the New 52 reality until after DC Rebirth revealed him.
I’ll admit some bias here as James Jesse has always been my favorite Rogue, but the background here doesn’t quite add up. For one thing, James Jesse is depicted as a kid at the time of the death of Dick Grayson’s parents yet he should be closer to Barry Allen’s age. I’d like to think this is a subtle clue as to how messed up the timeline is in the face of continual tampering, but I’m not that hopeful. Apart from that hiccup, Joshua Williamson does a great job of reconciling all the aspects of James’ portrayal over the years.
We don’t get quite enough emphasis on what makes James unique, however – his status a con-man with a conscience, who modeled himself on honorable outlaws like Jesse James and uses his talents to help the angels as much as he did himself Still, the story does a fair job of explaining away just where Jesse has been over the last few years and giving him a solid past, even if Underworld Unleashed is no longer cannon. Scott Kolins’ illustrations perfectly capture the spirit of the character and have the added effect of making this issue seem like a lost treasure from Geoff Johns’ run, where he wrote many of the definitive one-shot origin stories detailing the backgrounds of The Rogues.
Bottom Line? It’s not perfect, but it’s a great introduction to The Trickster and a wonderful one-shot to get your feet wet if you have yet to give the current The Flash series a try.
MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #1/ Script by SALADIN AHMED/ Pencils by MINKYU JUNG/ Inks by JUAN VLASCO /Colors by IAN HERRING/ Letters by VC’S JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Somehow I’ve never gotten around to reading any of the new Ms. Marvel books, despite being told how wonderful they were. Thus I went into this new series totally blind beyond knowing something of the character being an Inhuman and having shape-shifting powers. This turned out to be far more than I needed.
Saladin Ahmed’s script doesn’t take it for granted that readers will already be familiar with Kamala Khan. Through the frame story of a future alien telling his daughter a bedtime story of the legendary heroes of Earth, we are shown who Kamala is and what she can do – both through a stunning battle sequence that showcases her powers and as she reveals herself to a classmate who apparently just discovered her secret identity. The script is a perfect blend of action and humor, with a heck of a cliff-hanger ending.
The artwork proves the equal of the writing. Minkyu Jung’s fluid style proves the perfect thing for depicting Kamala’s powers. There’s a continual sense of motion to the book, even in the scenes of people just talking. Backed by the inks of Juan Vlasco and the colors of Ian Herring, this book looks as good as it reads.
If you, like me, haven’t ever read a Ms. Marvel comic before, this is a great one to start with. And if you’re already a fan of Kamala Khan, this issue seems to be a perfect continuation of what came before. Highly recommended.
WONDER TWINS #2/ Script by MARK RUSSELL/ Art and Color by STEPHEN BYRNE/ Letters by DAVE SHARPE/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by ROY BUCKINGHAM
In our second installment of the adventures of Jayna and Zan, we find our teenage superhero alien refugees being teamed up with Beast Boy to learn the ropes of entry-level superhero stuff. This follows a class field trip to a Lexicon private prison/job training facility.
To Zan, the trip is just another reminder of how even the fun parts of Earth schools are boring and stupid. By contrast, all Jayna sees is Lexicon exploiting prisoners for cheap labor as customer service representatives. There is a message there. A heavy message to unpack about how America is today. And amongst the unpacking of social commentary are lots of wacky jokes and the introduction of The League of Annoyance – the Legion of Doom’s minor-league team for those super-villains not quite ready for the big time.
The jokes fly fast in their introduction, as does the rest of the issue. Giving the Wonder Twins some personality beyond the cheerfully earnest ones they had in the 1970’s has made these characters honestly engaging. Still, despite the great artwork by Stephen Byrne and the funny jokes in Mark Russell’s script, the juxtaposition between the wackiness and the message to be delivered needed to be a little bit stronger. It did not get in the way of my enjoying the issue, but I think the message and the humor could have been better merged together.