Two unlikely Marvel mainstays are up to bat this week including a Defender and an unlikely X-Men protagonist getting the chance to lead a new team of heroes. After getting his co-starring role cancelled at the end of Power Man and Iron Fist, David Walker is bringing Luke Cage back into the spotlight. Then we check in on Jubilee who is getting the chance to council the next team of Marvel mainstays (or zeros) in Generation X #1.


Luke Cage #1
Writer: David Walker
Artist: Nelson Blake II
Colors: Marcio Menyz
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by A.J. Frost

Hell-raising, wheel-chasing, new worldly possessions
Flesh-making, spirit-breaking, which one would you lessen?
                           – Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

Off the bat, Luke Cage #1 is an absolute winner of a comic book. Packed in its pages is fine storytelling, a plot thick with intrigue and humor, and  imaginative artwork. The last several weeks have been nonstop in the constant reveals of Marvel Universe HQ turmoil. What’s being left behind is the focus on the medium and the care that’s being given to a sizable chunk of the respective IPs within the company. Luke Cage #1, for the most, is a paragon of the care that talented writers and artists are paying to building more compelling stories through the simple process of being attentive to the characters and letting everything else flow naturally. Such is the case here.

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Just look at that cover. It’s badass! But more so, in coveys the ethos of Luke Cage perfectly: He’s the hero for the streets and he’s not putting up with your bullshit. But Cage isn’t merely a mindless slugger out for revenge. No… he has heart. And from page one, writer David F. Walker and artist Nelson Blake make sure that Luke is never relegated as a mere superhero stereotype.

While the story is straightforward (the doctor that genetically altered Luke has died and Luke pays his respects) presents many dynamic visual set pieces. On a mission to recover a ransomed girl, there is a brilliant meta-moment of a comic book referencing a television action scene referencing a comic book, where Luke battles a series of toughs while walking down a flight of stairs. In my mind, I could see this working in three dimensional space, which is a testament to the marriage of Blake’s deft use of the linear visual clues and Walker’s patois of tough guy pathos. It’s deliciously addictive to see such clever synergy.

That’s not to say everything is perfect. Where the comics stutters is near the climactic battle between Cage and some unknown New Orleanian assailants. As we get no time to grab the context of the fight, the action feels rushed and a bit hollow. But then again, it is nice, from time to time, to see a hero bleed, and that tension does raise the stakes. And where the issue ends is a respectable set-up for something interesting next time around.

Overall, what we have here with Luke Cage #1 is the consummate combination of solid scripting and inspired aesthetics. It’s bound to be an enjoyable issue for old and new fans alike.

Final Verdict: Buy


 

Generation X #1
Writer: Christina Strain
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Colors: Felipe Sobreiro
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

In one of the wildest, weirdest plot twists of RessurXion, Marvel’s first X-Project to bring home the goods is Generation X. There’s a new team of loveable losers joining The Xavier Institute and Kitty Pryde is too backed up in paperwork to notice them. Thankfully, Jubilee is here to set the record straight and guide these gifted youngsters to be the best shapeshifters, telepaths and all-around weirdos that they can possibly be. This book is even the outlet for one of the greatest and most underrated mutants of all time: Quentin Quire. Writer Christina Strain has such an incredibly unique voice and in the spirit of Wolverine and the X-Men this entirely new take on Generation X is born. While X-Men Gold was a pleasant enough reintroduction to the current state of the X-Men, Generation X switches up character dynamics enough and taps into the paranoia of Jubilee’s modern day life to re-establish their relationship in a truly magical way.

The introduction of Nathaniel Carver to the world of the X-Men is a great way to see a familiar set of characters through a new set of eyes. This book gets away from the common issue facing the rest of RessurXion as a whole as this issue breaks away from banking on reuniting a pre-established relationship. There are new friendships, romantic interests and enemies making the Xavier Institute feel fresh again. The comics shifts the spotlight over to a very, very interesting Jubilee and a group of newbies and returning characters. Speaking of Wolverine and the X-Men this comic wears its influences on its sleeve, as it directly references those characters and cast members but doesn’t copy the series thanks in part to the trippy pencils of the extraordinary Amilcar Pinna.

Pinna’s pencils are a little bit…well…ugly but so beautiful at the same time. That sheen of odd, foreboding weirdness fuels this issue with a sense of dread and uneasiness that makes it stand out from everything else currently on the shelves. The penciller meshes with Strain’s writing to deliver on the script that is strange but delightful. Pinna’s colorful poses for each character and intense facial expressions make this comic a joy to look at. While the panel layouts in this comic are fairly pedestrian, the framing of the panels and dynamic figure work becomes the centerpiece of this work.

This book definitely cashes in on the absurdity in the day-to-day operations of the Xavier Institute, but because Strain is laser-focused on making sure that each character is grounded in some sort of reality this comic shines where others falter. While X-Men Gold did an excellent job making sure that each character was tied to the narrative in a concrete manner, there wasn’t enough fun to be had-that’s exactly where Generation X #1 delivers. There’s a few excellent blink-and-you’ll miss it visual gags propelling this comic to greatness. The teases at continuity from the past, present and future from Carver adds a few more twists to the narrative.

This issue has all the squirrels, sharks, antlers and telepathy you could ever ask for. More importantly, this story finally brings the fun back into the X-Men franchise without tripping over the pitfalls that countless other X-Men series have dove into face-first.

Final Verdict: Christina Strain and Amilcar Pinna bring the fun and the weird back into the X-Men with their new take on Generation X and the Xavier Institute for mutants who can’t do powers good.


Venom #150 and I am Groot #1 is on tap for next week.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I liked both books. I was sad because in both cases it involved cancelling a favorite book of mine. Power Man and Iron Fist and Extraordinary X-Men. But these are fine replacements.

  2. Why would you expect a reviewer to be objective? He’s not an academic critic, he’s a reviewer. Reviews are inherently opinionated. I personally prefer that a reviewer be open about his/her biases so that I can get a feel for whether the reviewer and I are on the same wavelength – if we are then I have a useful data point when picking up new things. If we aren’t then a well-written review might still be entertaining to read, but I know that it might not mean much when it comes to whether or not I’m going to enjoy the work in question myself.

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