Week 14: Wolverine and the X-Men #5 vs Conan The Barbarian #1

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Wolverine and the X-Men #5

Wolverine and the X-Men #5

Eric’s Book

Eric: This week I picked 2 Months until A vs X #AvX. Ugh…I don’t know about you, but these ad banners are getting pretty annoying. I’m excited about Avengers vs X-Men (#AvX) and I’m sick of them.

Dan: It’s getting to be pretty bad. Wait…no…it’s already terrible. I’m sick of the event and it’s not even here for two more months!

Eric: At least in the trades, the covers don’t have all this mess on them. So, as you know from the the title of this post, it’s actually Wolverine and the X-Men #5. I had a pretty big pull list this week and it was a toss-up between this one and Secret Avengers.

Dan: It’s funny how small your pull list can be if you don’t read X-books. Mine was only one book, Batwoman. I had to supplement my purchase with two more just to have some variety.

Eric: Yeah, interestingly, both of those books had Beast in them. I also almost went with X-Men, but it was about Jubilee being a vampire and I’m so over everything having to do with vamps.

Dan: At least she’s a legit, non-sparkly vampire. The only thing – and I’m ashamed to admit this – that’s ok about the Twilight vampires is that they play baseball. I can’t outright hate anything that plays baseball…unless it’s a sentient robot. I hate sentient robots.

Eric: And they hate you, Dan. So this issue picks up right where the last one (which I also selected for a CP!) left off. Angel is still bonkers post-Uncanny X-Force and his company decides to oust him as CEO and freeze his personal accounts. Little detail I missed first time around – some of the news papers on the Board desk are The Daily Bugle.

Dan: I didn’t read the paper titles, but they are all rather Angel-focused, with correspondingly mediocre Angel puns in their headlines. I thought it was kind of odd that Wolverine and Bobby were there too. I didn’t recognize that Bobby was Bobby until they said his name either.

Eric: Yeah, I think Bradshaw drew him too young-looking. The annoying Hellfire Club Kids are apparently responsible for bribing the board into doing this although it seems like a flimsy setup since any company would probably at least temporarily do all these things to their CEO if he went bonkers.

Dan: It felt like Wolvie and the gang were barely out of earshot before the board was all, “THE HELLFIRE CLUB IS EEEEEVIL!” I just feel like they could try and be a little more discreet, is all.

Eric: Yeah, but then again those kids don’t care. They think they’re so smart they can get around anything. Wolverine leaves Bobby in charge as he continues his 616 upgrade from lame original X-Men member to ….. responsible guy? I don’t know their ultimate goal, I just think it’s weird that he loos like he has Asian flush as Wolverine runs off.

Wolverine and the X-Men #5 - Bobby with red cheeks

Wolverine and the X-Men #5 - Bobby with red cheeks

Dan: I don’t mind them actually aging up these X-People. Bobby Drake, eternal teenager, wears on you after a while. Even the frattiest of frat boys eventually grows up, right?

Eric: Not so much that I mind, I am just not sure exactly where they want to position him. Anyway, the book next moves to its comic relief section – the Fantastic Voyage tribute.

Dan: It’s there for a legitimate reason, I suppose. It’s supposed to set up the conceit for the Kitty stuff later. Seeing how the tech works now will be useful for next month’s issue. It’s definitely funny, though. For as much as I hate Quire, the in-body graffiti is pretty funny. Broo is hilarious too.

Eric: Yeah, they continue to have fun background jokes. Also Quire’s macking on Oya is a great callback to last issue’s flash forward when Genesis asked Deathlok to reveal his future.

Dan: I’m looking forward to the day where WatX is a full-on shojo comic. Can’t. Wait.

Eric: Then they make it out and you find out they were in WatX butt-monkey Toad’s body. And Rachel comes in to ask for Beast’s help in communicating with Kitty, who’s locked herself in her room since last issue’s revelation.

Dan: She’s preggers!

Eric: She calls Colossus, crying. Which is semi-weird for two reasons – 1) she broke up with him pretty pissed off and 2) she hasn’t cheated on him. She just woke up pregnant. I think canonically, she’s only ever slept with him. (Which led to a GREAT intangibility joke in Whedon’s run of Astonishing)

Dan: Well, regardless of whether or not she thinks it’s his, she’s probably feeling a little vulnerable. A little like she might want to talk with someone. Also, holy cow, this comic book already is shojo. You’re referencing relationships from the past, arcs where people slept with each other, etc. X-Men is a soap opera with laser beam eyes.

Eric: First of all, great tag line. Second, it always has been under the best writers. hehe…. so we go back to some more laughs with Broo being a teacher’s pet, Angel declaring “I was declared mentally unsound today!”, and Wolverine taking Quire into space to be his Rain Man at the space casino.

Dan: I still don’t totally understand why Wolvie has to yellow suit up to go gambling, but whatever.

Eric: It was better when Morrison made them ditch the silly suits. That’s at least one good thing he did on his run. I did like you pointing out on this page that Quire looks like a British punk rocker. I hadn’t really given his appearance much thought before.

Dan: If you’re an old British man, I’m sure the punk aesthetic really appealed to you back in the day. Everything about Quire screams 70s punk. It fits in very well with his appearance and personality.

Wolverine and the X-Men #5 - I don't know how this happened

Wolverine and the X-Men #5 - I don't know how this happened

Eric: I LOVE the next joke because, as I’ve mentioned so often – I’m a sucker for word play.
Kitty: I have no idea how this happened
Beast: Then perhaps we should enroll you in one of Professor Gambit’s heath classes

Also, I love that Gambit teaches sex ed.

Dan: Is Gambit some kind of lothario? Juuuust kidding. I know!

Eric: It’s just as great as when Whedon had Emma Frost teaching Ethics.

Dan: Ah, but it’s the opposite joke. I see what Whedon did there. Cheeky.

Eric: If I can get meta for a second, Marvel ruins some of the narrative of this book by having a house ad for Avengers vs X-Men (#AvX) that shows Angel as Archangel. So, it looks like by April he’ll be better.

Dan: Or this is AoA Angel? I don’t know. Not really worried about it.

Eric: Anyway, 3 pages of ads later – da da dum the not-quite-reveal that she’s full of micro-Brood, not pregnant.

Dan: Some might argue that being full of micro-brood is precisely the same thing as being pregnant, per the definition of those words.

Eric: We find out that they were in the air at the school kinda like the nano-bots in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age and that they were engineered to attack only her. Seems a bit far-fetched, but, then again at the end of Whedon’s run she was stuck traveling through space for a while so maybe it makes sense somehow.

Dan: I know you’re not invalidating a comic book plot by saying it’s far-fetched, right?
Eric: Nah, just trying to figure it out – with at least three books at a time bi-weekly, there are TONS of story beats in the X-Men universe for writers to pick and choose from – almost nothing is far-fetched when it comes to the X-Men. Shoot, some of the plot points Morrison set into motion in 2001 are just being dealt with now.

Anyway, Kid Gladiator jumps into Kitty’s body to fight the brood and Broo heads over there – maybe to hive mind with them? We’ll find out next issue. Brief Wolverine and Quire interlude and then we’re on another alien ship.

Dan: The mean space monster eats all the S.W.O.R.D. Agents and then heads to Earth because his plan to put micro-Brood in Kitty is in place! He’s kind of a jerk about it too. Just blows up his spaceship while his buddies asphyxiate.

Eric: Well, they should have had mouth clamps like he and the Brood. Also, the issue ends with a house ad for ASM in space. I guess it’s that time of year….

Dan: The space-time of year?

Eric: Let’s quickly go to your book before the gravity of the horribleness of that joke sinks us all!

Conan the Barbarian #1

Conan the Barbarian #1

Dan’s Book

Dan: This week I said, “What if I just picked a pulpy comic with cool art? Would that work?” Thus, Conan the Barbarian.

Eric: It’s a darn shame because I thought I’d get to read Batwoman without paying for it.

Dan: You know, you should have mentioned something. I had Batwoman with me when I lent you Conan.

Eric: This book does not have the art style I thought it would. That was my thought as I read the first few pages that have Conan the Cimmerian (as opposed to Barbarian) riding away from some dudes chasing him

Conan the Barbarian #1 - smirk

Conan the Barbarian #1 - smirk

Dan: Becky Cloonan’s art style is not hyper-realistic ripped-muscles at all. It’s much more of a cartoony look. I dunno how best to describe it, but it doesn’t look like, say, a pulp book cover.

Eric: Definitely doesn’t look like the cartoon that was out in our youth. Despite the captains’ best efforts, Conan jumps onto his ship as it sails off the docks.

Dan: Dude acts more like a Nathan Drake-type rogue than an Arnold-type barbarian muscle head. I wasn’t expecting a Conan who smooth talks, but who also is every bit as threatening as you’d expect him to be. Imagine if Goku were a better quipster and also capable of extreme violence. That’s how I picture this iteration of Conan.

Eric: Conan straight up ruins this guy’s business. He says he does this route like 50 times a year or something at some point and now he can’t come back because he helped a fugitive escape.

Dan: Conan don’t care! He’s so charismatic that everyone comes to love him too. What a scamp! A bloodthirsty, violent scamp!

Eric: Yeah, it does mention that everyone immediately loves him. In fact, after he tells the captain why he was running from the Po-Pos, even the captain loves him.

Dan: It’s very much a pulp convention that the heroes are instantly the greatest at everything they attempt to do and beloved by all.

Eric: They’re Marty Stus somehow written not to be annoying. Interestingly for a Conan book, remarkably little happens – especially in the way of fighting. After he’s done with his story, the captain tells them about Belit, some evil pirate woman.

Conan the Barbarian #1 - Belit

Conan the Barbarian #1 - Belit

Dan: Naturally the fearsome, violent, and bloodthirsty nature of Belit appeals to Conan. Dude wants to make her Mrs. the Barbarian.

Eric: Or at least wants her to meet his Little Barbarian. So they go unload at some port and he offers to kill her. Captain can’t let his new Bro do that. So they sail off.

Dan: Naturally they run into Belit.

Eric: And then it’s all to be continued.

Dan: You know what Barbarian comics make me feel like doing? Battling!

Battle!

Eric: I’m definitely surprised that I didn’t hate Conan.

Dan: Likewise. All the blog coverage was pimping how this was a different kind of story, so I figured I’d pick it out and see how it fared on the battleground. The most shocking thing was the art. Cloonan’s art is not at all what you’d expect for a Conan book.

Eric: Did it make you want to add this book to your pull list?
Dan: Well, I’m not exactly convinced yet. I might approach this with cautious optimism. I mean, picking it up for a few more issues couldn’t hurt. Art plays a huge role in how much I enjoy a book and it helps a lot here. The downsides are twofold.

1. I don’t like fantasy. At all. The intro of the book (and all the mentions of fantasy places) bored the heck out of me.

2. It’s just pulp. I hate to be an elitist, but I want my reading time to mean something. Books that aren’t trying to do anything other than be a comic book can bore me.

Eric: I think it’s a decent first issue to a new arc and certainly better than what we both were expecting. Wolverine and the X-men wasn’t anything extra-special. It continues to be the best and most consistent X-Men book out there by my X-Men standards (apparently how shoujo it is). I guess what I really want is Ranma, but mutants. Anyway, it’s also the funniest X-book out there except maybe for X-Factor.

Dan: Like last week, I appreciated how fun WatX was. It’s just great to see a writer having fun with a concept. I like the school life conceit and I hope that remains the focus. Dealing with major villains and events shouldn’t have anything to do with this book. Mark my words, the more it starts to resemble Ranma the better this book will be.

Eric: Yeah, plus they already have X-Men Legacy and Astonishing X-Men covering other aspects of the school. In Legacy the adults are fighting off the bad guys and you get more of the adult drama. They’re also going to move in that direction for Astonishing. So I’d really like to see WatX move into an even stronger focus on the kids and away from the faculty. Aaron really does seem to be hitting the beats I enjoyed most during Morrison’s run (the last time they focused on the students) and I’d like to see them develop this next generation of mutants. They already have so many books to focus on the other characters.

I think this is another week where we have good books for our POW! selections, but no standout books. It doesn’t help that this issue is in the middle of an arc, still setting up the conflict which seems like it’s going to climax next issue.

Still, I preferred the action, humor, and story of Wolverine and the X-Men more than I did Conan. I think Conan would probably be a fun guilty pleasure read, but the story is very standard, the character is a little too “awesome” (in his world), and this issue on its own was boring – as most arc setting stories are.

Dan: I’m with you there. As shocked and appalled as I am to pick an X-book two weeks in a row(!), I think I have to side with WatX.

Eric: Excellent! We’ll see what X-Book you bow to next week! Mwahahaha!

Dan: Your evil knows no bounds.

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