Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, Stately Beat Manor dives headfirst into the action-packed slugfest that is X-Terminators. What do you get when you mix the X-Men, slashers, and a healthy serving of parental advisory? Find out in our SPOILER-LITE review!
Don’t wanna spoil the fun? Jump below the break for spoiler-free mini-reviews for AXE: Judgment Day #5, Edge of Spider-Verse #4, and New Mutants #30!
As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, drop us a line in the comment section or stop by our socials @comicsbeat !
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer & Production: VC’s Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
I mean this in the nicest possible way: Leah Williams is the master of writing trashy characters.
That’s not to say Dazzler, Jubilee, Boom Boom, and Wolverine are trash (well Boom Boom might be the human embodiment of trash…), but the crazy girls night that kicks off the X-Terminators’ merry foray into grindhouse is so delightfully messy that trash becomes a complementary term for this book.
The issue kicks off with one of the most effective cold opens I’ve read in a long time, and all I think I need to say is this: praxis booty shorts. Sure, the plot involves a bunch of kickass muties knocking heads with vampires and demons and all the excessive violence that implies. But praxis booty shorts is quite possibly the best litmus test you could take before cracking X-Terminators open.
Not only is this book messy in terms of the characters, but it’s quite literally messy in terms of the visceral carnage from page to page. And while some series with the ‘parental advisory’ label slapped on the front can be gratuitously gross, Carlos Gomez and Bryan Valenza have divined the perfect balance between gore and gorgeous this issue. Whether it be the X-Terminators themselves (whom Gomez has lovingly rendered the hell out of) or the standard blood and guts that come with an action flick, every page is a joy to look at. Valenza’s colors in particular stuck out to me when I read, as he taps into the grimy, bombastic lighting of what grindhouse should be, with this alternating ooh and ick factor depending on the scene.
The script throughout is wonderfully amusing. As someone a bit on the younger side, it’s nice to read dialogue that actually feels like someone in their early to mid 20s would say it. There’s a scene in a dive bar that sounds just like conversations I’ve heard hanging out with my friends, and it’s nice to have that feeling of familiarity here. Travis Lanham designed hilarious grawlix for this series and made some wicked inventive balloon tails that truly capture the manic energy of our protagonists.
Williams writes such strong characters, with each voice having this incredible distinctiveness. The way Boom Boom in particular draws the attention in every page she’s on speaks to the strength of both her as a character and Williams’ fantastic control over her personality. Tabi is nothing if not the center of attention, and I can say without a doubt, the creative team here gets that (Gomez really gets that).
The plot ain’t too shabby either, with the grindhouse story being the perfect space for these characters and this specific creative team. Our heroines are some of the best equipped in the biz for this action-packed space: vampires vs ladies with light powers? I think we already know how this is gonna go down. Plus, there’s an evil ex, freaky murder dungeons, and surprise twists up the wazoo. It’s like some of the most fun X-Men got dropped into Halloween or Scream and we get to see how they fare against hordes of monsters and murder machines. What more could you possibly ask for in the lead-up to spooky season?
After just one issue, I am personally demanding that we get more minis like this from Williams, Gomez, and Valenza or anybody at Marvel. Taking established characters and throwing them into genre settings is such a fun way to explore unique stories, and I advocate for doing whatever it takes to keep getting this kind of book on the regular. Bring back the X-Terminators for another series! Bring back the OGN! More Marvel Horror!
Verdict: An emphatic BUY BUY BUY
- AXE: Judgment Day #5
- Collectively the people of Earth have been found unworthy by the newest Celestial, Progenitor, and now it’s up to the Avengers, X-men, and Eternals to wage a last-ditch attack to kill a space god. Writer Kieron Gillen loads this issue with a bunch of cool bits and dynamic action sequences that play into artist Valerio Schiti’s strengths. It’s always fun to see epic fights, but the strength of this series is in the individual judgments that the Marvel characters are given and how they respond to them. When I look back on this series it will be those character moments that stand out among a bunch of surprising moments. —GC3
- Edge of Spider-Verse #4
- I know I have been talking about my depression a lot lately, but it feels like it’s slowly strangling me to death. All I can do to keep pushing through it is to read comics that bring me joy, a.k.a. fighting depression with comics, Marie Kondo-style. I have been waiting for the September 21st release of Edge of Spider-Verse #4 for a while now because it’s the official return of Earth 20023’s Charlotte “Charlie” Webber, a.k.a. Sun-Spider, a “Spidersona” that originated as a fan character inspired by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Marvel liked some of these Spidersonas so much that they contacted some of these fans so that their creations could appear in Spider-Verse #1 written by Jed McKay with the artistic team of Arthur Adams, Juan Frigeri, Stuart Immonen, Stacey Lee, and more. We get even more Sun-Spider in “Prom and Cicumstance” by Tee Franklin, Jethro Morales, Chris Sotomayor, and Joe Caramagna, who is ready to change the world by letting people know that disabled heroes can kick some major ass too. Charlie has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a group of hereditary disorders of connective tissue that vary in how they affect the body but often cause hyper-flexibility, chronic pain, and fatigue. And in a moment that makes it clear that Franklin wrote this script, the E.D.S. doesn’t disappear when Charlie becomes Sun-Spider either… But even more importantly, she wants people to know that even when she is not donning her Spiderspona, she is a human being who deserves to be treated with respect. I am at my word count (okay, over my word count), but the new Spidersonas introduced (and given life, like the Spider-Mobile) in this issue were the next level. —ROK
- New Mutants #30
- New Mutants celebrates the title’s 40th anniversary with an Anti-Prom! This 50-page issue foregrounds the legacy of the alternate team to the alternate team with multiple short stories by multiple creators, wrapped in a narrative frame that sees the friends throwing a party on Sunspot’s Arakko-orbiting space yacht. This affords the opportunity to share a series of personal tales set throughout the team’s history, underscoring how important storytelling is for building community. The frame also gives a reason for the entire cast to be depicted in swim gear throughout the book, even though it isn’t technically a Marvel Swimsuit Special. This is bookended by letters from writer Vita Ayala, who completes their run with this issue; these letters help illuminate their intentions for both New Mutants #30 and their 16-issue run on the series. Also contributing to the issue are Alex Lins, Emma Kubert, Roberto Poggi, Antonio Fabela, Jason Loo, Justin Mason, and Bryan Valenza. All this is followed by two pages of reflections from “contributors past, present, and future” Jonathan Hickman, Charlie Jane Anders, Rod Reis, Lins, editor Sarah Brunstad and assistant editor Anita Okoye. Then it all concludes with a very funny tease for the upcoming Deadpool series by Alyssa Wong, Geoff Shaw, and Nolan Woodard. All this with lettering by Travis Lanham and a cover by Rafael De Latorre & David Curiel. There’s no need to be current on New Mutants, AXE, or anything else to enjoy this issue, which offers a lot of bang for your buck. —AJK
Next week: Gwen Stacy returns in Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Marvel Voices: Comunidades drops!