It’s time for Part 1 of the Comics Rundown. Here I’ll be doing mini-reviews of certain series while also highlighting my favourite lines and awarding each issue a score out of ten. In this first part I’ll be focusing on Action Comics #20, Age of Ultron #7, All-New X-Men #11, and Animal Man #20. Also I should mention that there be SPOILERS in these reviews. You are warned!
Though his name is listed on the credits, it will never be known how much of the writing chores should be credited to Andy Diggle or to Tony S. Daniels. If I was a betting man I’d go with the majority of the issue belonging to Daniels, a fact that wasn’t a positive this month as what we got was simply a passable story but with good art to accompany it. The virus that had infected Superman last issue is already separated from his body and actually becomes a creature onto itself, a creature that the Man of Steel must do battle with. We’re told that the creature has combined Superman’s Kryptonian DNA with its own and at one point it even forms itself into a pale reflection of Superman leading me to wonder if this is the New 52 version of Bizarro that we are witnessing. Regardless, Superman defeats the new enemy only to encounter more citizens that have been infected just as Lex gets ready to suit-up into action to end the main portion of the issue. The back-up is actually more interesting than the lead story where we flashback to Krypton and check in on Jor-El and Lara before they were married, actually before they even started dating, actually…Lara is engaged to Jax-Ur? Before we can digest that little nugget an unidentified Kryptonian attacks the Council, an individual that I’d place my wager on being Zod. So in short: the main story is going nowhere but the back-up has me intrigued to see the next chapter. It goes to show you that following Grant Morrison is a lot harder than anyone thought.
Lex’s Sensei: You have learned much since we began your training…yet in truth, the more you know, the less you understand. It is not the accumulation of knowledge, but the realization of the self that marks the true power of the warrior.
Aria: Superman is down.
Lex Luthor: Oh. How disappointing.
Lex Luthor: I was hoping to make him suffer first.
Superman: I think you should pull your people out of there until we have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.
Dr. Veritas: Science is how we find out what we’re dealing with.
Last issue finally got this book going but with this issue we’re back to the little plot development that has been a trademark of this mini-series. Wolverine and Sue travel back to their present time only to discover familiar faces in entirely new roles. Was everything they went through for the best? Well, it looks that way but some hints might prove that while this world is better off than the Age of Ultron it is not without some serious faults. After encountering the Defenders (Colonel America, Doctor Strange, Janet van Dyne as Captain Marvel, Scott Summers as Cable, Thing, and Wolverine) who believe the duo are Skrulls, we have a nice Wolverine VS Wolverine battle before the duo falls in defeat. The issue ends with a flock of Iron Men led by a seriously worse for wear Tony Stark. And that about sums up everything that happened in this issue which just goes to show that this whole mini-series is stretching on for too long and really could have been contained in five issues. I’m still failing to see the point of it as well but with three or four more issues left I’m hoping that will become clearer. At least I think it will…
Susan Storm: How many people have you killed in your life?
Wolverine: Nobody that didn’t have it comin’.
“Captain Marvel”: Well, they’re either Skrulls or this is some sort of Le Fey trick.
“Cable”: Or just two dumb wannabe cosplayers.
Wolverine: You’ll heal from this and you’ll get to see the sun rise yet again. You’ll have your team and your friends and, who knows, maybe you’ll find a girl to look past all of our less desirable qualities. It cost us our souls to have this, so try to make the most of it.
Unfortunately, the cliffhanger from last issue was already spoiled in the pages of Uncanny X-Men which, let’s face it, if you’re reading this series you’re probably reading as well. If you didn’t know the identity of the turncoat (or even if you did), the opening page was expertly done as we start the focus on Jean showing she isn’t the traitor and slowly one by one we pull the shot back to reveal each member’s allegiance until we show that it is Warren who is siding with Cyclops’ Uncanny X-Men. Jean of course tries to manipulate Warren once again by using her mental powers but this time she is in over her head when confronted by the Stepford Cuckoos. Tensions reach an all-time high between the groups but they stop themselves from erupting into full-blown fisticuffs as Cyclops stops Emma and the Stepfords just in time before leaving back to base. I love Warren as he says to the younger Scot Summers that he should takes this as a compliment as this shows that Warren is the only individual that actually likes who Scott turned into when he got older. Henry begins to freak that the whole time space continuum could be placed into jeopardy if they all don’t go back together as elsewhere Mystique’s crew continues their crime spree while posing as the X-Men this time striking a Stark facility. We are then treated with the highlight of the issue which is an emotional heart-to-heart between Kitty and Jean about using her powers responsibly. The issue ends with the team heading out to track down Mystique when they are stopped by the Uncanny Avengers. Oh, that is going to be a sight I don’t want to miss. Overall, another solid issue that wasn’t spectacular but was highly enjoyable nonetheless with some really standout moments contained within.
Young Warren Worthington III: I’ve heard all the nonsense you have to sell me…between your nonsense and their nonsense…I like their nonsense better. At least they’re trying to do something.
Jean Grey: Rrrrgghh!
Young Scott Summers: That’s enough! You’re killing her!
Cyclops: Girls, Emma! That’s enough!
Emma Frost: Hold on…she’s learning a lesson.
Emma Frost: She needs to learn!
Wolverine: Stop it or this is going to get real ugly.
Emma Frost: She needs to feel what it feels like to have someone digging in your head that doesn’t belong there. You, of all people, should appreciate how important a lesson that is.
Beast: We can’t protect you if you leave…
Young Warren Worthington III: You can’t protect me now.
Jean Grey: Why am I acting like this?
Kitty Pryde: You have a lot of anger in you and I—I can understand why. If I found out about myself what you found out about yourself…I would never stop screaming.
Kitty Pryde: Have you ever met Spider-Man?
Jean Grey: Spider-Man?
Kitty Pryde: Full body stocking. Never stops talking…
Jean Grey: No.
Kitty Pryde: He told me something—something about with great power comes great responsibility. One comes with the other. That’s what makes us different from everybody else.
Jean Grey: I’m angry at myself for being so angry.
Kitty Pryde: Well, if Wolverine has taught us anything…it’s that it’s okay to be angry…just find something that deserves to have you take out your anger on it and take it out on that.
This was simply a wonderful issue that continues the story of the Red Thunder aka Chaz, a character that Buddy Baker played in the movie Tights. The transition into the movie at the beginning with the ordering of it on Video-On-Demand was an inspired choice and was the perfect set-up for what we are about to see unfold. In the movie, the main character is trying to connect with his son which is only made the more poignant since Buddy just recently lost his son in real life. An agent tells Chaz that due to his “heroics” he is the latest internet fad and that with him becoming a client of his he could make Chaz a big star. His son thinks it would be cool and after much contemplation Chaz decides to take the offer and what we are treated with is a cool sequence of scenes showing us his career from late-night talk shows, celebrity “dating”, partaking in a Bachelor-like reality show, and television commercials. Despite his newfound fame, Chaz is still empty inside. He’s abandoned his heroic lifestyle, his son is still a stranger, and the women he loves still wants nothing to do with him. Depressed, he leaves the latest party and encounters a young woman being assaulted by a partygoer. Chaz springs into action but fails to realize that the man doing the assaulting is a high-ranking studio executive. Chaz’ career is over…and he can’t even resume his Red Thunder persona since he failed to read the fine print and unknowingly signed away all rights and trademarks to the identity. What follows is another sequence of scenes involving Chaz going to a bridge to take his life, looking at a picture of his son, and a subsequent funeral scene for him. After the funeral, his son returns home to be greeted with a package. Inside lies the same photo Chaz was holding before he jumped and the Red Thunder costume. His son turns to the TV just in time to see an unidentifiable mystery man saving some people from a fire. His son smiles as he realises his father isn’t dead before Buddy stops the movie. The issue ends with Buddy getting a call from his agent who informs him that he’s been nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture for his portrayal of Chaz much to Buddy’s and our surprise. Thus ends an issue that is like an emotionally moving and dramatic performance come to life on the printed page. It was a refreshing diversion form the main plot, an issue that paralleled perfectly the events going on in Buddy’s real life, and one that sets up this book’s future direction which is a welcome sight to see as the whole Rotworld arc did run on for far too long. I can’t wait to see how Buddy’s new found celebrity will affect him and am rooting that the once happy Baker family can reunite and work out their issues. Call me an optimist if you will. However, you must call this issue…simply awesome!
“Chaz”: I appreciate you coming out here. I do. But I don’t want to be famous. I’m a superhero. I just want to help people. Do something real, you know?
“Paige”: I know…you wanted to save the world. But that just doesn’t exist, Chaz. That’s not the world we live in. There are no super-heroes.
“Chaz”: I remember when people gained attention for actually accomplishing something, not for acting like an idiot on some reality show.
Buddy Baker: Look, Roger, I’m not really in the mood for this right now.
Roger: I know, Buddy. But you don’t understand. The Academy just announced the nominations…you better dust off that tux, Buddy. You’ve been nominated for Best Actor!
And that is Part 1 complete. Agree/Disagree with my reviews? Comment below!