Monday, January 28, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 1/23

Fables #125
Story: Bill Willingham
Art: Mark Buckingham

One hundred and twenty five issues in, and Bill Willingham is still finding new twists and turns to make Fables still feel fresh. While one of the leads in the series since issue one, this issue begins the arc named after Snow White, former deputy mayor of Fabletown, and now mother and occasional fixer of Fabletown problems. Snow is at the new Fabletown, seeing off her husband on the journey to try to find their two missing cubs. The story ties in with the end of the first arc of the Fables spinoff, Fairest, as Briar Rose returns to Fabletown and lets Bigby take her magical car on his quest. The issue spends as much time with Snow and Briar Rose as it does with Bigby and and his companion, the badger Brock Blueheart (or Stinky). The comedy of watching Bigby learn to drive is balanced by Snow's intense worry about her lost children. Meanwhile, Mrs. Sprat continues to move her plan to bring down Fabletown forward, with the aid of Brandish, who shows his true power and makes the big revelation at the end of the issue that will be the inciting incident of the action in the arc. Willingham makes a tapestry of this issue, as he does with many of his Fables stories, weaving seemingly disconnected story elements into something much grander. The narrative is from the histories written by Ambrose Wolf, son of Bigby and Snow, who we know will grow up to be the chronicler of the Fables community, and I'm curious to see if this is going to be the narrative device used for the remainder of the series. I'm hoping to see the disparate elements we've seen of Snow's history in the Homelands tied together into a single narrative in this arc, and the end of the issue's big twist is leading me to believe that's where we're going. But the past always informs the present and future, especially in Fables, so I'm sure things in the new Fabletown are going to be just as exciting and dangerous.

Hell Yeah #6
Story: Joe Keatinge
Art: Andre Szymanowicz

After a break, Hell Yeah is back with a new arc, "The Lost Super-Villains of Mars!" Five years after the previous arc, Ben Day, or protagonist, has become something very different. Instead of being the slacker who avoids everything to do with superheroes, he is now their "fixer," the guy who goes in and cleans up the loose ends left behind by their battles across all dimensions. Ben seems to have grown a little, and is trying to be more responsible, but he's still got some of the jerk about him, as evidenced by waking up in bed with a random super woman from a random dimension who he hopes he hasn't told about what he really is. There are tantalizing hints of what went on in the five missing years, and while it isn't necessary to know, I am curious to know more about those events. A new mission from The Old Man, the mysterious figure seen enforcing the laws of dimensional travel in the previous arc, send Ben to do recon in his home dimension on Mars. The title of the arc pretty much tells you what he's looking for, and since it's Ben Day, recon quickly turns into a brawl. As with the previous arc of Hell Yeah, we're getting a bunch of ideas thrown at us, learning bits and pieces about the world the series is set in, and specifically about the place of supervillains, or their lack of a place. With Ben again seemingly in mortal peril, it looks like the second arc of Hell Yeah will be as action packed and intense as the first.

Wolverine and the X-Men #24
Story: Jason Aaron
Art: David Lopez

Over the years of reading X-Men comics, some of my favorite issues have been the quiet ones where the X-Men play sports, go out and try to live normal lives, or deal with their own internal problems. "Date Night," the new issue of Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-Men, is one of those issues. Various X-Men and enemies spend time together in couples, some romantically and some platonically. The centerpiece story is Iceman and Kitty Pryde trying to go out on their first real date. They reflect on what its like to be the youngest X-Men of their generations now trying to teach this new generation of young mutants, and more about how trying to have a normal date feels wrong for people who don't live normal lives. This reflects on the mission of the Jean Grey School, to give their students as normal a childhood as they can in a world that hates and fears them. But Bobby and Kitty are both warm characters, and what starts out as a serious conversation becomes the two of them on a wild adventure to have fun and help people. Meanwhile, Storm is dealing with her divorce from Black Panther by having a Danger Room session with Wolverine that turns into something more. There are a few smaller scenes, though, that really piqued my curiosity. Aaron spends some time with Quentin Quire as he encounters the time displaced Jean Grey of Bendis's All New X-Men. Aaron has been using Quire quite a bit, playing on his role as teen rebel and bad boy of the school, but going beneath that surface in the way he interacts with some of the students, specifically the broken Idie. Quire seems stunned by Jean, and while he does keep up his usual brash attitude, it's interesting to see him interacting with someone he seems to view as an equal, and someone he feels can understand him. And Idie's time sitting beside the comatose Broo, the young Brood who was shot by Kade Kilgore, leader of the Hellfire Club (who shows up briefly with Sabretooth, in a great scene where they hunt the most dangerous game for sport and talk about women), is touching, and ends the issue with a major cliffhanger. Wolverine and the X-Men is the best of the comics with X-Men in its name right now, mixing character and action to come up with a title that feels like the heyday of the X-Titles.

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