Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comic Book Reviews and Spoilers: The Walking Dead 90 and Wolverine and the X-Men 1

Yes indeed, it was a big Wednesday, so big I have to write twice the review.

The Walking Dead 90 felt like a roller coaster all in one issue, tying up points from the previous couple of issues like the standoff between Rick and Nicholas, addressing their fallout, and introducing new themes all very satisfactorily without letting us think anything is really resolved. Nicholas and Rick reach a peaceful if tenuous understanding. Carl goes home. Andrea reaches out to Rick and says something so warm, hopeful, and life-affirming it made me look forward to the next issue with almost reckless optimism.

Of course, the key word is "almost." We can count on Robert Kirkman to not let us remain long on top of the world before taking us down. Rick's uncertain of his place in any "safe" society. It's becoming clearer just how deep Carl's own scars run. Glenn is nervous about Nicholas and has more reason to be worried about Maggie, who says she can't live "like this." And Abraham's new girlfriend seems to be using him to make a play for power within the community. While the issue ends on a very high note, I'm still on the edge of my seat anticipating the next issue with equal parts hope and dread.

On the other hand, the inaugural issue of Wolverine and the X-Men left me feeling rather elated. For too long, I'd felt that the X-books had been too bogged down with darkness, imminent extinction, and Cyclops's more militant brand of leadership to be any fun. Jason Aaron effectively threw all of that out the window. The school is back. The themes of coexistence and misfits struggling to find their places even among fellow misfits are back. The characters are relatable and even likable- warts and all. Small tidbits of realism like the inspectors' concern over Headmistress Pryde's lack of academic credentials stood out nicely and balanced out what might have otherwise been a roiling cacophany of hyperkinetic craziness.

My only complaint is about how some of the "interdimensional gremlins" Beast mentioned were drawn. I wasn't sure what exactly those creatures who each resembled a nudist, chaotic neutral Nightcrawler on a perpetual sugar rush were supposed to be. Bamfs? They certainly weren't the cuter, cuddlier Bamfs as I remember them. Maybe they just need their "daddy" back to keep them in line. In any case, I hope there will be no Bamf-hunting.

Overall, though, the book was chock full of laugh-out-loud moments such as hadn't been seen in the X-books in a long time- I'm thinking since Excalibur's whackiest moments. As Kade Kilgore (who, now that I think of it, may well be a better villain than I at first expected) said, "The very idea of a 'Wolverine School for Gifted Youngsters' is utterly absurd."  And it just may be extremely entertaining, too.

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