Saturday, January 25, 2014

Marvel Knights X-Men #3 and Avengers World #2

Marvel Knights X-Men #3

Before reading this issue, if you would have asked me how I felt about the Marvel Knights imprint, I would have told you that I felt that it was great in concept, but not so great in practice. Now, I’m reconsidering.
The X-Men series of Marvel Knights started out lackluster for me, and I felt that the unique art style was the only reason this book was made. Starting with this issue, the writing has really come to the forefront, and I dig it. I was really disappointed to see that Wolverine was going to be in this mini-series, because usually whenever he shows up, he’s just Generic Hero Action Guy, but in this issue, he’s acting more like Wolverine – running off and doing whatever he wants to do with a “kill first, ask questions later” attitude. I’m glad to see Revel using Wolverine as he should be used, instead of just inserting him for the sake of garnering attention and sales.
There’s not much going on in terms of plot movement in this issue, but I consider that a good thing. We have more time with the characters, dealing with their opinions of themselves (in the case of Rogue), their relationship with their teammates (in the case of Wolverine), and their relationship with “human society” (in the case of Kitty). Every main character in this issue is exploring issues here, instead of just punching bad guys. I’m very happy to see Rogue’s use of the Blob memory; Wolverine’s right, it does suggest something about herself that she’s not letting on to other people, and that’s an interesting way to use the character.
Probably the turning point for me really liking this series is when Kitty takes a moment to half-panic / half-doubt herself regarding mutants’ roles in society. I’m glad that Revel brings this up, because it is a genuine concern with mutants. We get wrapped up in metaphors for civil rights and gay rights that we forget that we’re talking about actual dangerous people. If there was really a person who could shoot lasers out of his eyes in the real world, you would be concerned for your safety too, and I can imagine Kitty feels ashamed knowing that some mutants do cause damage not out of malice but due merely to the fact that many of them are living, breathing weapons. It shows a self-awareness not only on the part of the character, but Revel as well.

Avengers World #2

A quick note about art in general: I tend to pay attention to art in comics in the same way that I pay attention to actors in movies. It is mainly a tool used to propel the story, and that’s about it. I really only notice it when it excels or fails at two points: Whether it matches or clashes with the tone of the story (cute art with a gritty story, for example), or whether I can understand what’s going on or not. The art in Avengers World has been gorgeous so far, and I think it deserves some praise. I don’t know much about the craft of making comics, but it reminds me a bit of the digital art style of Fiona Staples, so I’m wondering if Caselli isn’t using a similar method.
I never really know how I should feel about Hickman. On the one hand, I understand that he’s a talented writer, but the new characters he keeps creating all seem like carbon copies of each other. Wasn’t Starlord’s origin story remarkably similar to Smasher’s? Can we only make superheroes in the Midwest, ala Superman? And he just keeps making dark and scary villains that make me feel lame for reading it. The Sandman-Expy in this issue is by far the worst example of this.

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