Friday, November 4, 2011

Co-Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #1

Tessa: X-Men!
Geoffrey: Yeah.  The world still hates and fears them.  Like, A LOT.
Tessa: Because, as with money, people apparently think it matters how you get your powers.  Unlike with money money, they don't prefer for you to be born with them.
Geoffrey: So did you choose sides, or what?
Tessa: I did, although my sympathies are, admittedly, divided.
Geoffrey: I liked that about the conflict of ideologies that Schism presented.  A sort of civil-war-style thing that didn't have that sweaty Mark Millar all over it.
Tessa: Yes, and I think it gets to the heart of something that has always been a part of the X-Men, which is the division of people with a common goal and different ideas of how that is to be achieved.  You saw it with Xavier and Magneto, and now it's playing out, albeit very differently, with Wolverine and Cyclops.
It's both progressive and a return to form.
Geoffrey: It's not entirely the same conflict as Xavier/Magneto, which is nice.
Tessa: Yes, exactly.  Because that conflict is fairly outmoded at this point.
Geoffrey: We get Wolverine as the new Xavier, albeit more isolationist, and we get Cyclops as the new Magneto, but acting more on the defensive.
So the question remains (well, two questions, actually):  1. WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON??  and 2.  Whose face will it blow up in first?
Tessa: 1. In spite of the fact that most of my favorite mutants are going to be living in the pages of Uncanny, I like Wolverine's angle better.
2. Obviously Cyclops because that guy cannot catch a break.
Geoffrey: The only reason you're conflicted is because Emma Frost is in Uncanny.  But, 1. I picked Wolverine too. And, 2. I think it's going to be a real slow burn for Cyclops's inevitable face-to-palm at humanity.
Tessa: Yeah, I think Cyclops has chosen the more difficult mission for himself.  Wolverine is fun dad, but Cyclops is forever the guy concerned with the X-Men's image.  He wants so badly to be seen like The Avengers or the FF, and his resentment that he can't make it happen really eats away at him.
Geoffrey: But it looks like now he's kind of taking that back and folding that in to the new image of mutants he's crafting with The Extinction team.
Tessa: Yeah, which is no mean feat.
Geoffrey: Especially with a name like "The Extinction Team."  Still, though, leaps and bounds beyond "The Science Club" or “The X-Club” or whatever stupid name Beast came up with.
Tessa: Indeed. One thing I appreciate about both books is how clear the guiding mission is behind them.  I think it's easy to get a little lost with the X-Men if you don't come out strong, so Schism was a good opportunity to define those directions for the two teams.  That said, it got a little Red Rover-ish during the transition.
Geoffrey: Yeah, I didn't bother with the Regenesis special. How'd that work out?
Tessa: If you read the infographics at the back of Wolverine & the X-Men and Uncanny, you basically know.  The only part I enjoyed was Cyclops meeting up with Dazzler at a cafe.
Because who does the militaristic half of the X-Men need? DAZZLER. Love it.
Geoffrey: Whatever, Dazzler is great.
Tessa: I agree!
Geoffrey: She's a mutant superhero disco ROCKSTAR. She's the "Rain" of X-Men. OH MY GOD CAN WE PLEASE GET RAIN IN THE NEXT X-MEN MOVIE??
Tessa: And for this we at Death-Ray Ozone commend her. Speaking of characters I was pleasantly surprised to see, I am so glad that Doop is an administrator at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning.
Geoffrey: Oh yeah, I hope there's more Doop.
All of the characters that Jason Aaron got for Wolverine and the X-Men are solid gold.  Plus I'm always onboard for some teen hero school antics, and it's great seeing these characters in teacher positions.
Tessa: Absolutely, and it's fitting that they'll be going toe-to-toe with the Lil' Hellfires, because that's the horrible name I have given them.
Geoffrey: That is horrible. I'm more excited for the football match with Avengers Academy, actually. I really do hope that we get more of the school angle than the big action superheroics from this book, though.  And I’m not saying it should be left out, but I like that Jason Aaron is bringing back this group of X-Men to those spots in the Claremont era when he would just let the X-Men hang out and run with it.  Plus, it seems like we'll be getting plenty of dudes hitting each other in Uncanny X-men.
Tessa: Yes, that one's all about the big ideas and the big action.
Geoffrey: Wolverine and the X-Men seems like lower, more personal stakes, which I'm fine with, but Uncanny seems like the "important" book in terms of how mutants are going to be seen by the rest of the Marvel Universe
Tessa: Right.
Geoffrey: Both are fun, though. Wolverine in a more sit-commy, light hearted way.  Uncanny in a "Namor just punched that giant floating Mr. Sinister head to the ground / I wonder how the humans are going to find a way to hate and fear them this time” way.
Tessa: One thing I like about Uncanny, re: the characters on the team, is that Kieron Gillen excels at writing bitchy, supercilious characters, and Uncanny has Emma Frost, Magneto, Storm, and Namor.  So as far as characters are concerned, Gillen should be able to play to his strengths.
Geoffrey: Jeez, how great was that bit where Storm asks everyone to raise their hands if they weren't formerly villains?
Tessa: It was a funny moment, but it also did a good job of revealing the stakes.  The team in charge of the X-Men's image is full of PR nightmares.
Geoffrey: But that's the point. And it's really effective.  As I was reading Cyclops's train of thought on the Extinction team, I was simultaneously nodding my head in agreement, but also thinking, "Oh, this only can end horribly."
Tessa: It's pretty clear that both teams are in over their heads.
Geoffrey: Sure, but I think Wolverine's team less so by virtue of it being a bit lower stakes than Cyclops's team.  But there's a lot of potential for all of Jason Aaron's characters to just end up hating each other anyway. Also I thought it was interesting that he chose a team with a good number of new characters
Tessa: I think that's a smart move, given that he's placing them in a more familiar context.  Granted, it has been rebuilt and altered, but it's still the basic "school for mutants" formula. Fresh blood is a necessity to make that work.
Geoffrey: I'm pretty excited about this new era of the X-Men mostly because it actually does feel like some new ground being tread.  The world still hates and fears them, but the different angles to the whole central conflict of ideologies is something that I don't think has been touched upon in the forty-ish years of X-Men comics.

Tessa: Yes, it's nice to see distinct and meaningful conflict in the mutant community and well-defined missions for those factions. Which is, as we discussed, isn’t really a new formula, but it’s being revisited in a new way.  I think veering too far into outside threat/inside bickering model over the past years has caused a lot of stagnation in the X-books, so this is a necessary jolt.
Geoffrey: Being the victims of countless attempts at genocide is bound to steer any group towards isolationism.
Tessa: Anything else we want out of the X-Men before we sign off?
Geoffrey: I just hope Cyclops can get a day off sometime.  Because it looks like he's headed down a path that Matt Murdock previously walked, and it didn't really work out too well for him -- Although Daredevil IS being written by Mark Waid now, so maybe if things take a turn for the worse, we can take comfort in the hope of a Mark Waid / Marcos Martin Cyclops series.  WHICH I WOULD READ THE SHIT OUT OF, BY THE WAY.
I don't think I have anything else to say about these books except that I'm excited to see where both are going.
And I can't wait to see more of Quentin Quire to start REALLY being a snotty shit.
Tessa: And for Emma Frost and Namor to totally get it on.
Geoffrey: Namor and Emma aren't going to get it on.

Tessa: Shhhhhhhh, let me have this.
Geoffrey: She likes the power too much to give in to his Atlantean seduction techniques (read: being shirtless ALL the time).  If there's one thing Emma Frost enjoys more than shirtless pecs, it's power.
Tessa: Gurl, I feel you.
Tessa: Correct, Geoffrey.

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