Monday, October 22, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 10/17

Star Wars: Agent of the Empre- Hard Targets #1
Story: John Ostrander
Art: Davide Fabbri

John Ostrander returns to the Star Wars universe with another tale of Jahan Cross, Agent of the Empire. The first Agent of the Empire mini-series was a great spy romp, following Cross as he got involved in a plot to use droids across the galaxy to conquer civilization. This time, the story seems more personal, as he will be working in some backstage political intrigue that will make him cross paths with his estranged father. But that's in the future of the series. This issue was an action packed romp that got readers who might not know Cross up to speed on who he is: the Empire's answer to James Bond. Set prior to the events of A New Hope, Cross attends a party on Alderaan, where he meets movie characters like Bail Organa and Princess Leia, and classic EU characters like Leia's best friend, Winter. With the appearance of the current Count Dooku, the nephew of the Prequel Trilogy villain, intrigue kicks into high gear. By the end of the issue, an assassination has occurred, and Cross has returned to Coruscant, where conversations with Armand Isard, head of Imperial Intelligence, and his daughter (and major villain of the Rogue Squadron comics and novels) Ysanne, begin to shake some of Cross's confidence in the Empire's beneficence. I've always said that the noble Imperial is a favorite Star Wars archetype of mine, and I feel Jahan Cross is a good addition to the ranks. Oh, and did I forget to mention the opening scene is a flashforward of Cross fighting Boba Fett? Yeah, you know that's not going to end well for someone.

X-Factor #245
Story: Peter David
Art: Leonard Kirk

With the final chapter of "Breaking Points," long time X-Factor writer Peter David sets the book off on its new course. Now, what exactly the new course is, I'm not sure yet, but hey, Peter David hasn't steered me wrong yet. "Breaking Points" has seen the rather large cast of X-Factor paired down slightly, and some characters, both those left behind and those not on the scene, changed. This issue really focuses on Havok, and gets him from the point he has been at in this series, as the soemwhat flustered co-leader of the team, to the point where he is in joining the Uncanny Avengers team. Much of the issue is a conversation between first Havok and Madrox, and then Havok and Polaris. Havok is confronted with a lot of the baggage he carries, especially in regards to his brother, Cyclops, and all that has happened with Cyclops over the course of Avengers Vs. X-Men. There is a poignant scene, where Havok and Polaris finally come to terms with their somewhat strained relationship, and although Madrox is clearly one of Peter David's babies, and Havok is a character that he might not have the same attachment to, he gives him a great sendoff with some dignity. Of course, that dignity is then somewhat undermined with the comedy stylings of Pip the Troll and a going away... present from many of his teammates. Aside from Havok, there is a major change ins status quo for Madrox and Layla, a new costume for Polaris, and Madrox actually putting his foot down versus his usual indecisive personality. Character is where Peter David's writing has always shined, and this issue is another great example of why X-Factor is one of the best books on the racks.

Young Justice #21
Story: Greg Wesiman
Art: Christopher Jones

With the animated series unfortunately on hiatus, it seems that I'll have to get my Young Justice fix in the comics. And fortunately, the comic series is as good as the show, with the stories intertwined as untold tales, and written by showrunner, series writer, and Gargoyles creator Greg Wesiman. This is the second part of a six part arc, taking place mostly about a month before the beginning of the season two "Invasion" storyline, but flashing back to five years earlier, about a month before the end of season one. In the present, many heroes and villains have been teleported off Earth by Brainiac, making his Young Justice debut, while much of the team is divided on separate missions: Nightwing and Wonder Girl are recruiting Blue Beetle, while most of the rest of the team is protecting the new leader of Qurac from possible attacks from Queen Bee. The issue does a great job of juggling all the plotlines, and still allowing the characters room to breathe. This doesn't feel like a Superboy trapped in space comic with a Miss Martian subplot, or a Nightwing recruiting a hero with a Batgirl subplot; it feels like a comic featuring the whole team. If you're going through Young Justice withdrawal like I am, you should check out the comic. Hopefully it will get us through to January...

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