Monday, September 22, 2014

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 9/17

All-New X-Factor #14
Story: Peter David
Art: Pop Mahn

All-New X-Factor, like it's predecessor X-Factor, is at its best when it's about the characters. Peter David writes great superheroic action, and crazy mystic plots, but what he really does best is dig down into these people and let us get insight into them. Stories like the legendary "X-Aminations" issues and the issues with John Maddox, the dupe of Jamie who became a man of God are some of his best. This issue isn't quite as heavy and internal as those; it's a simple tale of team members Danger and Polaris, along with Polaris's sister, the Avenger Scarlet Witch, going to a Renaissance Faire for a girl's day out. Lorna (Polaris) is doing her best to not be alone with Wanda (Scarlet Witch), who Lorna still is holding against Wanda that whole depowering well over 99% of the mutant population thing that most humans and mutants have forgotten. Danger, who is an artificial intelligence, is beginning to experiment more with feelings and her "humanity" for want of a better word, mostly by asking Lorna if she wants to have sex and Lorna completely freaking out in an amusing way (meanwhile, when she asks Wanda, Wanda just says no thanks, which makes sense since Wanda was married to The Vision, who was also an A.I., for some years, so robot sex isn't something unheard of for her). David does wind up cramming in some action, as one of the women who works at the Renn Faire is being stalked, and her crazy stalker does attempt to kill her, and the women of X-Factor and the Avengers step in. We get the Peter David beat where he makes us a little worried about Lorna's sanity and/or morals, but it all works out. That particular touch, the stalking, is apt for this issue, as Lorna finds out her ex, Alex Summers, aka Havok, has been spying on her, and I feel like things are about to go very bad for Alex, but we'll probably have to wait until the crossover issues with Marvel's next mega-event, Axis, before we see what happens there. But before this big action piece, I was pleased to get this one issue of peace, quiet, and a drunk Scarlet Witch.

The Delinquents #2
Story: James Asmus & Fred Van Lente
Art: Kano

There are times where too much funny can make the end product seem overstuffed and not as funny as the component parts. That is NOT the case for The Delinquents, this fall's best comic book crossover, between Valiant's two mismatched duos, immortal drunkard Armstrong & naive assassin Archer and uptight hero Quantum & his con artist brother Woody. The first issue set up where the series would go, with the two duos on a collision course to find the treasure of the Hobos (a concept which I laughed at while typing), Armstrong to honor an old debt and Q&W because they were hired by the Monodsanto Corporation, known for their genetically modified foods, which is possibly the least subtle political joke ever, making it all the funnier. This issue plays with the classic superhero trope of the two heroes (or two twosomes in this case) coming together and fighting because of a misunderstanding, at a house that is a combination of Falling Waters and the House on the Rock. The initial combat is funny, with the unkillable Archer throwing down with the force field wielding Quantum, while Woody does his best to fight Archer, who can channel any physical skill, and winds up talking his way out of the problem, even directly addressing the trope in a very meta way. Woody then gets Archer drunk on absinthe before Quantum and a disappointed Armstrong (he wanted to get Archer drunk the first time) arrive from a fall out of the house. They find out more about the Hobo Code and the Hobo Treasure. We get reference to Big Rock Candy Mountain and the funniest Old MacDonald joke I've ever read. which I admit are more than you'd think. And then the issue ends with them being menaced by tigers. James Asmus and Fred Van Lente, writer of Quantum & Woody and Archer & Armstrong respectively, know their characters, and blend them seamlessly into one big crazy tapestry of anarchy. Kano's art is perfect, realistic but with this touch of kookiness that suits the subject matter. I especially like a panel where Armstrong sticks his head out of a moving boxcar, forgetting trains move a lot faster than they did when he was a hobo in the Depression, and his face goes all flat; it's got a Looney Tunes vibe while still fitting into the non-cartoon world. Oh, and it looks like Mondosanto has cow/human hybrid monsters. As The Simpsons pointed out, "If a cow ever had the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!" So it looks like our heroes are in for some big trouble next issue.

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