Friday, December 17, 2010

Chronological X-Men - The Brood Part 4 Review

The Brood.

Dazzler #18 – The Absorbing Man Wants You!
Dazzler #19 – Creel… and Inhuman Treatment!

Like with almost every Dazzler issue we have a bunch of guest stars, in present time as well as flashbacks. Alison visits the Fantastic Four for an impromptu jam session with Ben and Johnny, while Reed works on a device that Alison can use to augment her powers into a better defensive weapon and Sue and Reed lecture Alison on why she should become a fulltime hero and stop running from it. Warren continues to dig into Alison’s past and tries to find out what happened to her mother by questioning Alison’s grandmother Bella. Meanwhile Carter begins to have a nervous breakdown, Vanessa rants and raves about her vocal coach and The Absorbing man tries to capture Dazzler and use her as a hostage to call out the Avengers and get his revenge on them. Alison tries to get away and uses Reed’s weapon which augments her powers too much and actually causes The Absorbing Man to turn into a giant being of light. Alison breaks into the Baxter Building to try to get the Fantastic Four’s help in saving the Avengers, after learning that they aren’t there she ends up contacting Black Bolt, Lockjaw and Medusa of the Inhumans for help. Carter continues his descent into madness and is focusing on Alison and his wife Katherine’s ‘betrayal;’ and Vanessa stumbles onto a room that holds something shocking at her vocal coach’s home. We get the first appearance of Barbara London – the vocal coach; and we see Medusa, Black Bolt and Lockjaw for the first time in an X-book. This story was alright I guess, it was better than usual but I can’t help but think that Carter’s nervous breakdown was rather sudden and could have benefited with a more drawn out build-up. I do hope that they bring Black Bolt back into Alison’s life, they do make for an interesting duo and their powers play well off of each other. There was actually very little to complain about with this storyline so that’s always a plus.

Dazzler #20 – Out of the Past!

Carter is now completely delusional – living in his mind where he is attacked and killed by Alison who does it for her mother. Warren and Bella go against the psychiatrist’s wishes and refuse to put him in a hospital and agree that they need to find Alison because they both believe that she can help bring Carter out of his current state. We get new characters Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax who have an old score to settle with Alison’s band, and now that they’re both out of prison and have received special weapons from Techmaster they’re more than ready to get their revenge. We also meet Hunch’s wife Dora and their son Justin for the first time. The secret of Barbara London’s room is that it’s sort of a shrine to Dazzler’s career. She claims that it’s her daughter’s room and she is a huge Dazzler fan but soon Barbara breaks down and admits to Vanessa that the clippings are hers and that she’s Alison’s mother and that the girl in the picture is her other daughter (which would make her Alison’s half sister.)

Dazzler #21 – Alison Blaire, This Is Your Life!

There’s a whole lot going on here – almost too much to talk about. There are tons of guest stars this issue: Human Torch, Invisible Girl, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Daredevil (first time in an X-book – I’m pretty sure, it’s been a while since I did reading other issues because I was sick for a while;) Spider-Man, Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Thor, Wasp, Wonder-Man, Iron Fist, Power Man, Misty Knight, Quasar and Harmony Young. Angel has become a staple of this book now so he doesn’t really count as ‘guest star’ anymore – on top of that all the usual suspects are back. In a series of flashbacks we meet Nick Brown and Lois London for the first time. So the big secret of Alison’s mother is that she was a singer, she had an affair with Nick while she was married to Carter, she ended up leaving Carter for Nick who ‘let’ her continue her music career but he basically turned Katherine into an alcoholic and a drug addict in addition to beating her on a regular basis. She got pregnant by Nick and had another girl (Lois) and one day simply had enough of Nick and left him – this time taking her child with her instead of leaving her behind (like she did with Alison and Carter.) Alison is able to reach her father and pull him out of his catatonic state and the duo fight more. Alison holds a charity concert for a local hospital – which is why all of the guest stars (the X-Men didn’t show up because they’re still making their way back to Earth) and Vanessa blackmails Barbara/Katherine into going. Alison decides to quit showbiz after being offered drugs – but she quickly changes her mind and decides to continue her career. Alison, her mother and her father all reconnect and all seems well by the end of the issue. Oh this issue also features another first… this time we have a photographed cover instead of a drawn one, the photograph was taken by Eliot. R. Brown and is of a Canadian model named June MacDonald. The story was good, a little over packed and there were a few clichés I could have lived without them using. I like what the did with Alison’s mother because it makes sense for the character and fits the storyline but I would rather have had her been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or some criminal or a spy or something instead. The leaving her husband for another man and getting pregnant by both of them is a little bit too soap opera-y for my tastes.

Dazzler #22 – The Sisterhood

Mystique, Destiny and Rogue have managed to escape from prison (Mystique was taken away at the Pentagon the last time we saw her) and are now after the X-Men for revenge. Since the trio doesn’t know how to get to the X-Men on their own they target Angel (who is still hanging out in Dazzler’s book) so Rogue can absorb his memories and they can learn the location of the X-Men. The girl that Alison saves from being hit in traffic ends up being Lois London – her half sister that she hasn’t met yet – so that’s kind of interesting; actually it’s the most interesting thing to happen the entire issue. There are two mistakes one very odd and noticeable – on page three two of the panels are printed out of order – which is weird, the other mistake is that it seems that Angel and Rogue have encountered each other before, but this is actually the first time they’ve ever met. The story wasn’t bad per-say but it would have made more sense if the female members of the Brotherhood went after Dazzler since she has times to the X-Men and the Avengers instead of just going after Angel.

Dazzler #23 – Fire in the Night!

Alison is now living scared that the ‘sisterhood’ will target her since she stopped their plan to learn the location of the X-Men. So naturally when Alison’s apartment building catches fire and then later her recording studio  she begins to panic, meanwhile Angel is on the run and has no one to turn to (Charles is still too depressed after the X-Men were kidnapped by Deathbird and ‘killed,’) so he just sits and mopes for no real reason - he could go to the Avengers or anyone really for help but he chooses not to. Barbara (formerly Katherine) tells her daughter Lois all about her older half sister Alison and Lois decides it’s time she get to know her new sister. We get the first appearance of Flame – an arsonist hired by the owner of Alison’s building. He’s the one that has been setting the fires, not Rogue, Mystique or Destiny- because he wants to force the renters into buying their units and converting them to condos. This is kind of an odd issue, we’ve never been given the impression that Alison’s landlord is really a slumlord, if anything he’s been portrayed as freakishly nice because Alison has almost always been more than one month behind on rent and he’s never kicked her out. Speaking of money, I know Alison’s career is taking off but less than twenty issues ago this girl was eating ketchup for dinner because she couldn’t even afford a can of soup and now she can afford to pay for superhero body guards that are costing her a hundred dollars a day?

Dazzler #24 – A Rogue in the House

Well, the title pretty much says it all; Rogue finds out where Alison lives and then trashes her apartment and waits to attack her to get revenge on Alison for stopping the Sisterhood’s most recent quest for vengeance. Alison is still using Power Man and Iron First for protection; Angel is still running around scared – only he’s not too scared anymore because he’s renting out entire gyms just so he can fly around indoors; and Lois is still trying to get to know her sister. This issue was a little odd, mostly because while it serves as the end of the current storyline it feels like it’s mostly filler. We didn’t need shots of Warren flying around or really need any of Alison and Ken’s date but its there. There’s a little mistake, Alison asks her neighbor Frank if the woman in her apartment had red hair with white streaks and he says yes. I never really considered Rogue to have red hair… so that’s kind of odd. I didn’t really care for this issue but I do like that they’re starting to build this headache/passing out thing with Lois hopefully that will have a better and less soapy (– translation Lois better not have a tumor or be pregnant) payoff than the secret of Alison’s mother.

Marvel Graphic Novel #4 – The New Mutants - Renewal

Okay this story obviously takes place before Uncanny X-Men #167 so this fits in around 165-166. We get many new characters – Roberto DaCosta, and his father Emmanuel DaCosta (who is a member of the Hellfire Club;) Samuel Guthrie (Cannonball,) Danielle Moonstar and her grandfather Black Eagle; we get the first published appearances of Rahne Sinclar and her guardian Reverend Craig (they were both retconned later to have been introduced at earlier points of their lives but this is Rahne’s first actual appearance. Xi’an “Shan” Coy Manh/Karma also appears and it is revealed that she’s actually the oldest of this new group coming in at 19; we also see the return of Moira MacTaggert, Donald Pierce and Tessa. Donald has taken Tessa captive and is planning on taking out all of the mutants on Earth. So it’s a race of sorts between Charles, Moira and Pierce to make contact with the mutants before the others can. Sam ends up joining the Hellfire Club, Roberto is almost taken captive but escapes unfortunately not before his girlfriend Juliana is murdered, Moira saves Rahne from angry townspeople who believe that she is possessed by the devil, Xi’an meets with Charles willingly and Danielle ends up teaming up with Charles so she can avenge her grandfather’s murder by Donald Pierce’s crew. Honestly I’ve got nothing bad to say about this story at all – I’ve always thought Dani’s powers were cool, Sam’s been one of my favorite characters for years, and I’ve always been partial to Tessa even if I haven’t liked certain things that they’ve done with her character My only wish is that this story were longer because I wasn’t ready for the story to end when it did.

The New Mutants #1 – Initiation!
The New Mutants #2 – Sentinels

This story takes place roughly two weeks after the end of Marvel Graphic Novel #4. Danielle has taken on the codename ‘Psyche,’ Roberto now goes by ‘Sunspot,’ Rahne has chosen ‘Wolfsbane,’ Sam and Xi’an have chosen to go by their previous names: Cannonball and Karma. Stevie Hunter – Kitty’s friend and dance instructor has apparently gotten a teaching job at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, serving mostly as their gym coach Charles is of course teaching these new students how to use their powers and the basic school stuff. Moira has been called away to London (and has taken Illyana with her) to meet with an Israeli Ambassador who turns out to be Gabrielle Haller who needs Moira’s help dealing with her autistic son who has telepathic and telekinetic powers. The big shocker here is of course the reveal that her son’s father is none other than Charles himself. Back in the states Dani is having trouble being around so many people and controlling her powers which leads to her accidentally using her abilities on Xi’an. Stevie decides to take everyone out to see a movie but Charles and Dani decline. Dani crashes the Danger Room and tried to complete a session on her own since she feels like she failed when she became scared during the earlier training session – unfortunately something goes horribly wrong and she ends up trapped in one of the X-Men’s training sessions and ends up encountering one of the Brood’s Queens. The Brood Queen deems Dani to big of a threat to be allowed to continue to live, or to risk implanting her with a Brood egg so the Brood Queen throws Dani off of a cliff. At the mall Sam, Xi’an, Rahne, Roberto are attacked by Sentinels and Stevie is taken by Colonel Mike Rossi – who it turns out didn’t die back in Uncanny X-Men #99 he simply used his presumed death to his advantage. Sebastian Shaw continues to plot to turn against Henry Peter Gyrich so there’s some progress there with the whole Project Widewake plot. A shot of the screen shows the ages of most of the New Mutants – Rahne -14 years old (though later retconned into her being only 13,) Roberto 13, Sam 16, and Xi’an is 19. Oh and there’s an official statement about Roberto’s father being a member of the Hellfire Club although not so involved in it to be part of the Inner Circle. The team returns to the school to find Dani unconscious on the floor of the Danger Room. Much like before I don’t really have anything negative to say at all about this story. The only weird thing for me was it didn’t really make sense why Illyana was with Moira – but given all that’s going on that’s not that big of a deal. My only real complaint is the art, I know it’s the style of the book and all but Sam looks goofy and Xi’an… uhh yeah half the time she looks older than Charles – just saying.

The New Mutants #3 – Nightmare
The Uncanny X-Men #167 – The Goldilocks Syndrome! (or: Who’s Been Sleeping in My Head?)

This story obviously takes place roughly at the same time as Uncanny X-Men #166 since Illyana is honoring the memory of her best friend on her birthday (Sean reveals that it is currently Kitty’s birthday.) Dani is trapped in what amounts to a living hell for her, she is constantly tormented by ‘The Demon Bear’ that killed her parents and Charles believes that she is going mad. It turns out though that Dani isn’t insane – she’s actually being tormented by the Brood Queen who alternates between trying to get Dani to kill herself, die, leave the team and access her powers to the extent where she pretty much creates an alternate reality. There are a few things here that seemed a bit off Charles behavior for one – but that’s because he’s been taken over by a Brood Queen. I wish they would explain why Illyana was with Moira first in London and now she’s on Muir Island…. For the love of God why hasn’t anyone taken the girl home? Or at least mention that she had been home at some point – it’s just odd. The story concludes in the Uncanny X-Men with the team arriving back home right after the New Mutants have fought the Brood Queen and are watching TV. The X-Men try to stop the Brood Queen Egg from hatching but it’s too late and Charles transforms – that’s when we learn that Charles while possessed specifically gathered the New Mutants to implant them with Brood Queen Eggs as well. There are a few things here that just felt odd – Kitty can suddenly phase objects with her. Piotr states that Sam looks to be the same age Piotr was when he joined the X-Men but recently he said that he’s 18 – so that means that he’s been with the team for 2 years which doesn’t really track since Kitty joined the team when she was 13 ½ but is now 15. I’m assuming that Illyana was sent with Moira because the Brood Queen didn’t want to risk implanting someone who has been touched by magic. Lilandra’s threatening the Fantastic Four seemed out of place and not really required – given how quickly the whole idea of cloning Charles’ body and transferring his mind into the new body so his old one can be killed/destroyed now that the Brood Queen has hatched within him literally came out of nowhere and so late in the game you almost couldn’t even call it the eleventh hour anymore and everything just gets this big old happy ending – except for Kitty who has now been kicked off the X-Men and is a part of the New Mutants. It seemed like a really cheap payoff to a story that had been going on for some time now it was like the writer just got bored with it too. I could have done without the SORASING (it’s a term used mostly with soap operas or TV shows ‘soap opera rapid aging syndrome’ where a character literally ages years over night) of Kitty (Illyana makes sense) and the de-aging of Piotr just so they can legally pair them up and there needed to be a stronger payoff.

Dazzler #18 – The Absorbing Man Wants You!: B
Dazzler #19 – Creel… and Inhuman Treatment!: A
Dazzler #20 – Out of the Past!: B
Dazzler #21 – Alison Blaire, This Is Your Life!: B
Dazzler #22 – The Sisterhood: C
Dazzler #23 – Fire in the Night!: B
Dazzler #24 – A Rogue in the House: C
Marvel Graphic Novel #4 – The New Mutants – Renewal: A
The New Mutants #1 – Initiation!:A
The New Mutants #2 – Sentinels: A
The New Mutants #3 – Nightmare: A
The Uncanny X-Men #167 – The Goldilocks Syndrome! (or: Who’s Been Sleeping in My Head?): C

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