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LophusJM (Lincoln, UK)

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East of West Volume 1: The Promise
East of West Volume 1: The Promise
by Jonathan Hickman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it, but not everyone will., 4 Sept. 2014
Before I go into depth about how much I enjoyed this comic I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the many sound arguments the previous reviewer, Sam Quixote made. I picked up East of West on a whim not knowing what to expect but knew quickly that this would be a comic of much sensationalism. Quixote correctly states that popular fiction is heavily saturated with four horsemen/apocalypse scenarios and yes, given their immediately established power making them children does not add an extra edge, also the observation regarding how ridiculously overpowered Death and his witch companions are compared to an army is also correct. For these reasons and more I respect Quixote's criticisms of East of West.
That said, I still enjoyed it personally. Foremost, I found Hickman's writing to be decidedly non-linear; given that East of West is loosely based on real historical events and then creates its own present by changing certain elements and introducing new ones (1800s Western setting with futuristic technology) the plot and therefore the character's actions are governed by a timeline where past events are revealed slowly - flashbacks are used yes but even then they don't give the whole story away. There are several instances throughout this comic where I speculated as to the precise nature of a certain element and then realised that it had already been revealed in secret earlier on and I simply had not read far enough at the time to recognize it for what it was. I like this as I personally enjoy re-reading earlier pages with new understanding.
Now as for the art, again yes gun -slinging cowboys and sword-wielding Asians are stereotypes often found in Western fiction but nevertheless they are depicted in a tastefully stylised way. The entire comic has a limited colour pallet of oranges, blacks, whites and reds - the individual characters each have their own primarily colour that contributes to either the reader's perception of them as mystical or powerful or at the very least marks them as important to the plot. Throughout there is a distinct absence of green making the Texan/desert wasteland setting more prominent.
So overall, I enjoyed this comic, however flawed and cliched it may be, I would only recommend it however to people who like apocalyptic stories and bi-polar cultures in there reading I think people searching for a more modern or articulate read should look elsewhere.


Uncanny X-Force Volume 2: Torn and Frayed by Sam Humphries (2013) Paperback
Uncanny X-Force Volume 2: Torn and Frayed by Sam Humphries (2013) Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Completionists only., 11 Mar. 2014
Following the uncertain appeal of Vol 1: Let it Bleed, Torn and Frayed begins with a departure from the main Bishop-centric storyline and focuses back upon Psylocke's partially-undisclosed reasons for leaving Fantomex. Vol 1 revealed his not entirely incestuous but certainly unusual affair with Cluster, a female clone of him created inadvertently when his three brains were given individual bodies (seriously). Given the tremendous lengths he and Psylocke went to in order to forge a relationship in the previous series this particular type of infidelity is baffling. Unexpectedly though is the revelation that Psylocke herself has also liaised with Cluster. Given the often over-sexualised depictions of Psylocke throughout her history and the political tight rope that is a mainstream superhero in a same-sex relationship Humphries' description of their affair focuses more upon how they came together rather than sex appeal. Alphona and Talajic's artwork throughout this backstory, whilst not my favourite penciling team up, is light hearted enough to delicately portray this. The Paneling however for these scenes is slightly loose, regularly reverting from past to present tense in the same incoherent pace that made the first volume flawed.
When the storyline returns to Bishop (who has apparently now been absolved of trying to kill Hope Summers) the reader is treated to the big twist about the identity of the series' villain and therefore the scale of the threat in upcoming issues. Once again this is an unexpected choice of character by Humphries and should be tittilating but ultimately feels lacklustre. One anomaly of the series that has remained since the first issue is the precise direction and thereby nature of the team. Wolverine directed its' core members on a mission to investigate/aid new mutants whilst simultaneously alleviating themselves of their personal worries. Despite comprising veteran heroes and villains their efforts are scattered and uncoordinated, what precisely is the the intention of this group? Another kill squad, a search and rescue operation or second string detail? In terms of character development its promising, Psylocke has grown from her may sufferings into a stronger person, Spiral shows promise of atoning for past sins and Cluster, despite not technically being recruited into the team as yet shows her capacity to be its emotional heart whilst being a talented addition.
Overall this is still a meandering in comparison to the older X-Force series' that not everyone will enjoy and is best left to those who have either followed it resolutely or are fans of the character's progressions.


Uncanny X-Force - Volume 1: Let It Bleed (Marvel Now)
Uncanny X-Force - Volume 1: Let It Bleed (Marvel Now)
by Sam Humphries
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sketchy, but good., 11 Mar. 2014
From the onset, many titles in the Marvel Now series have been impeded by the high bars set by their predecessors; wherein anything of note fails in comparison to the splendour or ingenuity of the original and in no series is this more evident than Uncanny X-Force:Let it Bleed. Rick Remender's superb run on the post-X-men: Second Coming mutant black ops team is such an impossibly hard act to follow in terms of storyline and artwork (despite the inconsistency on that score) that any opening title is going to be hopelessly overshadowed. Furthermore the incredibly balanced ending which resolved both threat, romance and each individual character's arc immediately renders a follow up series unnecessary. But having said that, a new title is still intriguing which brings us to Sam Humphries's Let it Bleed.,
The key element in this series is that each of its main characters is either vulnerable or hostile following circumstances in other titles; Storm is now divorced post-AVX, and despite the Final Execution saga's happy ending Psylocke is now alone and seething. We're given a large glimpse as to why later on when Fantomex re-appears alongside his female doppelganger Cluster, both of whom express concern regarding the unclear situation with Betsy. These various unresolved personal issues are hinted at being the driving factor in this series' storyline, something that is further indicated with the inclusion of supporting cast; Puck, Spiral and most surprising of all, Bishop.
Puck is an obscure choice when shown next to A-listers like Psylocke and Storm, his present purpose seems to serve as comic relief and to reverse the dynamic of superhero teams wherein you have one token woman to selection of men. Spiral is welcome addition having not recently appeared across Marvel save for a fleeting role in Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-men, again as a villain. In this instance there is a strong foreshadowing that she will be reformed, thus adding to Psylocke's character arc given their violent history.
Whilst the first few issues are moderately straight forward as the heroes investigate an apparent drug market in L.A bringing them to a conflict/acquistion of Spiral it's the arrival of Bishop that completely cuts the storyline apart. Here is a former hero who very famously fell from grace and the circumstances of his return are esoteric at best, setting in place a storyline that will seemingly involve supernatural elements rather than the initially expected precision of a stealth team. Coupled with the non-linear pacing back and forth from Psylocke's position to that of Fantomex triplets, this title feels overall quite rushed and disorganized. Its stylish cover art by Oliver Copiel and Laura Martin suggests a polished clarity throughout when really the book is anything but. This is also reflected in the interior artwork, Ron Garney's character design is very slick at times and somewhat tasteful considering the costume history of our heroines however by the final issue Adrian Alphona and Dexter Soy take over. Their combined efforts are not terrible and make sense contextually given that this issue is devoted to a lucid dream environment but as I've said before I value consistency in a comic and this departure feels a little jarring.
Overall there is definite potential for this series to be impressive, Humphries' team roster is intriguing yet the pace and threat lack the immaculately cut edge of Remender's run, here's hoping it improves.


X-Men: Battle of the Atom (X-Men (Hardcover))
X-Men: Battle of the Atom (X-Men (Hardcover))
by Brian M Bendis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £41.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed, 7 Feb. 2014
I've recently caught up again with X-men comics having taken a break following the fiasco that was AVX and having read the All new X-men, Uncanny and Primer titles that all lead up to this event I was intrigued as to what Battle of Atom had in store. The answer is not very much to be honest. Without spoiling too much the general gist is that both factions of the X-men believe its time for the original students brought to the present by Beast to be returned to their own era lest any unravelling of reality occur, this conclusion is further enforced by the unexpected arrival of X-men from the distant future who impress upon the importance of the time line being restored (albeit at the risk of doing more damage by travelling backwards in time themselves). For their part, the students themselves are reluctant to return, especially Jean Grey given what she now knows is in store for her and resent having autonomy taken away from them by a group of strangers and unknown allies. What ensues is the inevitable conflict of ideals between all four X-men teams each believing they're doing the right thing and thus perpetuating the narrative established in Schism and AVX. Personally I found this to be a rather tired story arc as all X-men comics these days involve the teams fighting one another and even dissention among their own ranks. Even by the end there is no real resolution, the villains remain mostly at large, the original students are still in the present and all of the X-men are still bickering amongst themselves. You would have thought that even if Scott Summers remained rogue the majority of the other characters would acknowledge that constant in fighting is a severe handicap to the cause and would push for some sort of reconciliation, but apparently not. My guess is that Battle of the Atom is a precursor to another story that will (judging by the events so far) lead to a conflict between Mutants and SHEILD and whatever form that may take.
Finally in terms of the artwork, whilst it is inconsistent between issues it is by and large acceptable. I always enjoy seeing Chris Bachalo in an X-title, something about his slap-dash cartoony style adds a layer of much needed comic relief.
So overall, whilst this is by no means astonishing its worth reading to keep abreast of current affairs within the X-men series.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2014 11:56 AM GMT


Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega (Wolverine & the X-Men)
Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega (Wolverine & the X-Men)
by Brian Wood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flat out unnecessary, 9 Jan. 2013
Kid Omega wants some attention so he traps Wolverine & Armour a psychic war zone, realises it's wrong, fixes it. That's it. This story barely draws on or complements any other stories currently circulating Marvel. It's a silly musing of writers who wanted to bring Quentin Quire back into focus and whilst I understand the necessitate for this in the post-Schism X-men series the whole thing could be summed up in less than half an issue in a larger story arc elsewhere. This is decompression at its most typical. There isn't even much in the way of character development; the blurb informed me that Armour is forced to make a decision that will forever alter her however no so thing occurs and even without she only acts as Logan's accomplice. I was hoping for a better use of her but it would seem the Astonishing X-men series is more fitting. Even the mental landscape is a lazy rip off of just about every near-future, urban city cartoon you can think of. And the art sucks, it's really lousy, I wasn't expecting much, but I hoped it would be better than this. Avoid this, you'll live.


New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis - Vol. 4 (AVX) (New Avengers (Hardcover))
New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis - Vol. 4 (AVX) (New Avengers (Hardcover))
by Brian M Bendis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £24.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it. If you've liked New Avengers so far then you will too, 9 Jan. 2013
There seems to be some confusion on this page regarding precisely which volume is on sale. To clarify in excessive detail, this is volume 4 of the "new" New Avengers run: the post-Siege/Heroic Age series taking place directly after Vol 3 wherein Norman Osborn assembled a new roster if Dark Avengers. Sound familiar?
Anyway, this is an AVX tie in and had every possibility of going south, fortunately it delivers or at least this is the opinion I've reached as I'm aware that Bendis seems to have fallen out of favour recently in comic fandom. The volume is divided into five separate stories each taking place at different intervals of the AVX crisis; the first addresses Luke Cage & Jessica Jones and their relationship/familial ties in the wake of Norman Osborn's recent escapade. For the sake of context you should read the last volume as it clothes this particular story in a frank and stunningly realistic tone, as Jones is also Bendis' creation I felt that this really showed the maturation of her character since her debut in Alias (which is awesome I might add).
The Following three volumes could be regarded as filler as they aren't essential to reconciling the AVX plotline but I thoroughly relished them: one shows Spiderman coaching Hope (more goes on than you'd think). The next is a last-minute gathering of the Illumanatii to deal with the immediate threat that draws poignant reference on Namor & Captain America's former friendship and the other is an amazing spotlight on the avengers captured by the X-men during the fight - the ending will blow you away.
Finally, without revealing what goes down in any of the books I've mentioned, the last issues of this volume show part of the quiet aftermath as various surviving avengers and a certain member of the X-men lick their wounds and ponder what comes next.
So the bottom line? Yes it's not a must read as Marvel comic, but as an AVX tie in it is by far the best I've found and it's a definite read for anyone whose poured over New Avengers with a fine toothed comb. And the art? What can I say, it's Mike Deodato Jr. And he is one of my top 5, if not 3 comic artists who never fails to astonish.


Uncanny X-Men by Kieron Gillen - Vol. 3 (AVX)
Uncanny X-Men by Kieron Gillen - Vol. 3 (AVX)
by Kieron Gillen
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars X-Fans only, 4 Jan. 2013
I enjoyed this book. I've been a devoted follower of Uncanny X-men as a series for some time now and like to think I am adverse in the x-landscape prior to this point, thus I am familiar with various obscure or lesser used characters and their motivations. I say this because passive observers who've enjoyed AVX as an event may not be familiar with just about anything contained herein. The jist is accessible - The Utopia based factions of the X-men are naturally pissed regarding the Phoenix & Avengers conflict and later when The Phoenix Five are up in arms Mister Sinister plans his next move. That quick flash forward may seem pretty jarring if you haven't read the main AVX title as well as the previous two Uncanny volumes so I advise you to do so. The Melodrama is a tad silly (it's Marvel after all) and some of the dialogue is asinine but regular X-men readers will get over it as with the artwork - Greg Land. I do enjoy his work and I've found it very fitting for these particular characters so far, however I completely agree with the women's faces thing - especially Hepzibah, her feline/alien features were completely replaced. But barring that I do like the art, if there's one thing I appreciate in a regular series its consistency and Land has been a consistent artist for X-men for some time now so I felt it worked. Dustin Weaver's depiction of Mister Sinister's London is gorgeous though, it suits the writing and the villain so well; meticulously detailed Victorian streets and many a dapper outfit add a charmingly Steampunk element to the book which I loved.
All in all, it's a snappy looking and interesting read but I don't think casual readers will get into it. X-fans will be delighted.


Gotham Central TP Book 01 In The Line Of Duty
Gotham Central TP Book 01 In The Line Of Duty
by Ed Brubaker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clever new take on Batman., 4 Jan. 2013
Technically a Batman comic, this excellent series is defined more by the hero's absence. Revolving around the Major Crime's unit of Gotham we're given more scope into the daily lives of various GCPD officers' we've encountered throughout Batman as well as a few new ones. Overall though this is a human story; the officers are flawed people with their own strengths, failings and at times prejudices, making them all more believable characters. Batman and some of his known enemies do make brief but pivotal appearances throughout with the Police left to deal with the aftermath. A real treat for me was the expansion of Renee Montoya's character into a figure as convincing and necessary to Gotham as Commissioner Gordon. To that end I recommend reading Batman No Man's land in it's entirely as the roots for this story are sewn there.
The best aspect of this book though had to be the art; Lark's work is a perfect fit for this crime/noir saturated run. I'm looking forward to reading the next volume.


X-Factor - Vol. 17: The Road to Redemption (X-Factor (Numbered))
X-Factor - Vol. 17: The Road to Redemption (X-Factor (Numbered))
by Peter David
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Passable, 1 Jan. 2013
Peter David's X-Factor series is a superbly written and regularly well drawn series no question, though I'm starting to feel that ever since Volume 8: Overtime the excitement has started to peter out somewhat. The stories that followed involving Second Coming, Asgard and so on have all been good but I feel like they lacked the indefinable edge that made the series such an interesting detachment from the rest of Marvel's crazy, an opinion I've also reached after reading this latest volume. Regardless, it's still good and worth reading if you've followed the X-Factor team so far and the artwork is pleasing enough, with various artists who gel well together (and the usual brilliant cover art by David Yardin. In this edition we see Rahne coming to terms with her past actions, something which in all fairness is best for the progression of her character. More importantly the first tentative steps are laid in place for a big storyline that will shake each member of the team up in unique and personal ways; Terry encounters a new foe, old ones make secretive plans, Maddrox as always investigates a simple case where more is going on than meets the eye and Monet and Guido finally attempt at starting a relationship. Each of these items is relatively small and addressed quickly however they all serve as careful indications of more to come. The best part of this book though has to be the final issue wherein the reader is given privy to Layla's inner monologue; it provides a perfectly detailed and accurate description on how her famous causality works, how every action/inaction has an outcome. So to summarize, whilst this isn't the best volume of X-Factor I've ever read, it still ploughs along at an enjoyable standard.


Daredevil: Yellow Premiere HC
Daredevil: Yellow Premiere HC
by Jeph Loeb
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not essential., 31 Dec. 2012
I think there are three ways to approach this book: As a Daredevil fan, as a Time Sale fan and as generic comics fan. People who fall into category three will enjoy this book, its pleasantly written and a charming superhero story. People who fall into category number two will be disappointed - Daredevil yellow looks very rushed and unfinished in places when compared to Time Sale's beautifully drawn Spiderman: Blue and outstandingly sexy Batman: The long Halloween. That isn't to say it's bad; it's still a Tim Sale comic and his signature style is always a treat, it just lacks the lustre of his other works.
Finally, Daredevil fans will be annoyed, here we have another retelling of the character's origin, this time with almost no detail into his training bar a single thought box and notably (I couldn't get over it) Matt Murdock is an adult when is father dies and adopts the Daredevil persona days after his death. This is a glaring retcon of the character's formation (it undercuts everything in Frank Miller's telling of the story). Having said that this is a love story, more about Murdock's relationship with Karen Page than a meticulous catalogue of his abilities so its technically doesn't matter when put in context.
I'd say that this is a coffee table comic book that only die-hard Tim Sale fans should buy.


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