The #NerdsRead Pull List – March 23, 2016
It’s happened again! Jackson must soldier on without Sam and Kylee in this week’s pull list. Thankfully, he enjoyed Uncanny X-Men from Marvel Comics and Deviations: G. I. Joe #1 from IDW Publishing a lot.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you’re reading in the comments!
Uncanny X-Men #5
Author: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Greg Land
Publisher: Marvel Comics
At best, Marvel’s take on a relaunch could be described as, well, inconsistent. For books such as The Mighty Thor and Ms. Marvel, the transition from pre-Secret Wars to post-Secret Wars was easy, picking up the same story at virtually the same place, with little change in the characters, world or status quo. Others aren’t so lucky.
Marvel’s X-Men franchise has dealt with a lot in the accelerated timeline after the company’s last event, with an implied war between Attilan and Cyclops as well as a host of other changes, like the Jean Grey School being relocated to Limbo and the seeming disappearance of Emma Frost and Scott Summers. Marvel has mostly played these changes as a mystery that will eventually be solved but instead they’ve served more as a hole that’s waiting to be filled, a stumbling block every X-Men comic has to jump over before it can attempt to tell its own story.
Cullen Bunn and Greg Land have done better than any other book at addressing this with their run on Uncanny X-Men. While it lacks the heart that’s made All New X-Men such as standout, it makes up for it with a bold willingness to slash and burn, remaking the X-Men as the creative team sees fit.
This week’s Uncanny X-Men #5 sees Magneto’s team set a trap for the Apocalypse-worshipping Dark Riders on Genosha and it’s brutal. Bunn’s well known for his skills writing Magneto as an amoral, constantly calculating badass and it’s good to see him do it again here in a knock-down, drag-out, teeth-shattering brawl across the former mutant utopia.
This is a stupendously violent comic with a huge plot twist halfway through but it all works by focusing on the characters. Besides Magneto, Bunn writes a mostly solid Psylocke as a woman divided by her loyalty to Xavier’s dream and her willingness to kill for what she wants and a cold, ruthless Sabertooth who’s constantly trying to ascertain his position on the team. Greg Land does a competent job with the fight scenes here and although his figures, as usual, tend towards the lewd, it’s mostly easy to look over.
Uncanny X-Men isn’t Marvel’s most ambitious mutant book but it’s fabulously bold, raising the stakes consistently by using characters who aren’t afraid to make tough decisions with harsh consequences. It’s the rare example of a book not leaning in to the company’s status quo, instead using it as a launching pad for story hooks and stylistic departures that wouldn’t work as well if tied to a set continuity. It’s the first time this book has worked well and it’ll be interesting to see if it can maintain the same sense of gritty excitement going into next month’s “Apocalypse War” crossover.
Deviations: G.I. Joe #1
Author: Paul Allor
Artist: Corey Lewis
Publisher: IDW Publishing
IDW often has some of the weirdest takes on continuity and crossovers, solely because of its status as a company publishing licensed comics. If I had my way, their recent “Deviations” crossover would be the way all of their line-wide stories should work in the future, changing one pivotal feature of an established story and letting an alt-universe take play out for a one-shot.
Take this week’s Deviations: G.I. Joe #1 for example. Here, at an unnamed point, Cobra Commander seized control of the planet instead of being stopped by the Joes and now rules Earth with an iron fist. Written by Paul Allor with stunning art by Corey Lewis, the issue focuses on a bored, despondent Cobra Commander, who’s been forced to give up his schemes for a role in a globe-spanning bureaucracy.
For G.I. Joe fans, it’s a frequently hysterical issue, with the Commander pitching takeover plans to an exasperated Cobra leadership and Destro relegated to child-care duty now that MARS Industries is no longer needed. The art, as mentioned above, is a blast as well. Lewis crafted a day-glo, “Miami Vice”-on-coke aesthetic through the book that has a childlike glee with a really assertive, dynamic and bracing edge.
Snake-Eyes battles Croc Master while wearing a floral shirt, Scarlet gets a tight pixie cut and the Cobra Commander flashes an amazingly evil looking new mask that really gives the whole book a sort of goofy nightmare imagery that ends up being some of the most fun G.I. Joe comics on sale today.
This isn’t going to be an issue that works for people unfamiliar with the original source material or G.I. Joe’s frequent appearances in online culture but it’s a hysterically funny, painstakingly realized Elseworlds comic, with exactly the aesthetic that will make for a memorable issue years from now. If anything, it’s at least more memorable than the equally weird, frighteningly fascinating Infestation crossover.