I haven’t followed the monthly X-Men adventures since the ’90s, but I buy the occasional issue and know enough to understand what’s going on. Marvel’s new Point One one-shots are a good way to help new readrs get the gist though. Uncanny X-Men #534.1 by Kieron Gillen (who has been co-writing with Matt Fraction until now) and Carlos Pacheco is an entertaining newbie-friendly book. It opens with Kate Kildare, a superhuman PR specialist and Donald Evans, a respected photographer landing on the island of Utopia, where the few remaining mutants dwell to give the X-Men some spin so the public will love them more. That’s needed these days, as Magneto is now on the team, and he’s the focus of this issue. That’s not much bad guy bashing, but two pretend A.I.M agents (who are rather amusing) do get a smackdown. They threaten an earthquake in San Francisco and Namor (also a new X-Men member) tells them that, “Only Namor has the ability to make the earth move, and he reserves that privilege for one woman at a time.” It seems out of character, but it is funny. Kate’s chat with Magneto, which includes his philisophies, and a suggested costume change is the main plot of this issue. They chat about the difference between public relations and propaganda, Machiavelli, and if it’s better to be loved or feared. As a talky issue, it lays out Magento’s complex personality very well. Pacheco’s manga tendencies are softened with the inks of Cam Smith, Dan Green and Nathan Lee (yes, 3 inkers. Wow.) and Erik actually looks his age for once, rather than a generic bodybuilder with grey hair.
Superman/Batman Annual #5 – Reign of Doomsday. Superman’s spiky killer Doomsday has been doing the rounds in a few DC titles lately, and this annual picks up after JLA #55 and continues in Superboy #6. It features great art by Miguel Sepulveda, which looks kind of like a cross between Phil Jiminez and Jae Lee. James Robisnson writes this action packed issue. Despite the title, it doesn’t really feature Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, but rather Dick Grayson as Batman, and Supergirl. For most of the tale Kara (initially in her black costume) is stuck in safety of sick bay in the JLAWatchtower base as she’s sick. After receiving a diagnosis from Dr Mid-Nite and advice from Dr. Fate, (or rather the man under the golden helmet, Kent Nelson), she gets her health and classic costume back and begins punching. Most of the action here is between cyborg Superman and Doomsday, as Cyborg Supes uses the Watchtower itself as a weapon. Doomsday however easily adapts to the attack and becomes Cyborg Doomsday, seen in an awesome double page transformation. Driven mainly by Cyborg Superman’s death wish narration, and a brief Dick and Kara team up inside, it also Blue Lantern Saint Walker and Mikaal Starman are stuck outside and see the Watchtower transform first into Cyborg Supes’ face and then DD’s. Sure it’s in the middle of a story arc I’m not following, but it looks great and Cyborg Supes has always been one of my fave DC bad guys.
Nonplayer #1 has received a lot of praise, and deservedly so. I actually read a preview digital copy last week, but loved it so much I picked up a print copy too, and it looks even more awesome on paper. I, and Mladen, talked about it in our latest podcast, but as every other reviewer who’s read this will tell you – get a copy of this unique sci-fi/fantasy/virtual life debut from Nate Simpson. If you can find a copy that is.
Thankfully a second printing will be released on May 11.