New X-Men: Hellions (2005) E

Date read: 12.23.07
Read from: Digital collection
Reviewer: Emera

book hellionsA four-issue side-series off of the most recent New X-Men storyline, featuring, obviously, the current crop of Hellions, Emma Frost’s protégés and the New X-Men’s bestest rivals within the Xavier Institute. Written by Nunzio deFilippis and Christina Weir, pencils by Clayton Henry.

At the end of the school year (and prior to the events of M-Day), Julian/Hellion brings his team members back to California with him to hang out at his family’s mansion. Unfortunately, after a typical Hellion-style scuffle at the airport, his parents cut him out of the family fortune. Spiteful and disgruntled, Julian digs deeper into his parents’ background, and ends up making a deal with the same figure who got his parents rich – the Kingmaker, who proceeds to grant the dearest wish of each of the Hellions. Sooraya/Dust is reunited with her mother at an Afghan refugee camp, Cessily/Mercury finds herself welcomed home again by suddenly loving parents, Santo/Rockslide becomes a wrestling star (dream big, boy), and so on. But after the trial period is up, The Kingmaker returns to extract payment…

This was a REALLY fun read, and  made me realize how boring by comparison pretty much the entirety of the New Mutants series was, revolving as it did around petty disputes and page after page of overwritten adolescent moping. Not that Hellions was that much deeper or more novel, but let’s face it, rebellious teams are pretty much always more fun (even if their leader is a twit), and being limited in length, the series packed a lot more interest into a lot fewer pages. The writing was tight and featured equal helpings of action and character exposition; I’ve always been fond of Cessily and Sooraya in particular, so it was fun and occasionally genuinely affecting to see a bit into their pasts and family lives.  Coloring was too shiny for my tastes, but the pencils and inks were strong and consistent. All in all, something that might actually have re-read value for me, unlike the rest of the pre-M-Day New Mutants/New X-Men: Academy X storyline. (No, I don’t know why I kept reading it, either. Of course as soon as most of the irritating characters had been dispensed with and Skottie Young started doing the art and I was getting genuinely interested in the series, it was cancelled.)

Go to:
Nunzio deFilippis: bio and works reviewed
Christina Weir: bio and works reviewed

Nightcrawler: The Winding Way, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Darick Robertson (2006) E

Date read: 11/16/09
Book from: Personal collection
Reviewer: Emera

(Nightcrawler: The Winding Way collects Astonishing X-Men: Nightcrawler #7-12.)

After being seriously wounded in an inexplicable attack, Nightcrawler struggles to escape the nightmarish memories of his past: his youth in Germany behind the scenes of a circus, his unwilling murder of his brother, and his eventual enslavement in an American circus. Once recovered from his injuries, Nightcrawler retraces his history both in Germany and in America, seeking to understand the forces that seem determined to dredge up his past and threaten the boundaries of the mystical worlds.

Nightcrawler: The Winding WayHmm… well, for starters, I don’t like Darick Robertson’s art (I’ve also seen his work in The Boys). Though a few of his cover spreads for this mini-series are nicely textured and moodily desaturated (e.g. the cover above, which I quite like), his art within the run is hilariously inconsistent, and flat-out terrible on several pages where it’s obvious that he had to rush it. He’s also one of those people who can’t draw women without certain parts of their anatomy straining at their improbably tissue-thin, vacuum-suctioned-to-the-skin clothing. Also, not so much a fan of Matt Milla’s coloring, either, as it’s in the digital style of which I am an anti-fan – hard, oversaturated, metallic colors.

Storywise, this is also not amazing. Schmaltzy dialogue and narration, predictable plotting. The only bits I enjoyed were the angsty Nightcrawler flashbacks, and that’s partly just me being a Nightcrawler fangirl – there isn’t that much genuine emotional depth to them. I’d probably only reread it for those bits, though, so at least it has some reread value.

Also… I’d love to use stronger language here, but I’m going to control myself and just say, enough with the Wolverine cameos. Really. Are there really that many people on the face of the earth who would pick up a comic title purely because it includes a certain Canadian flaunting his body hair and tossing off predictable lines involving the word “bub”? (Don’t answer that question, and yes, I’m sure I’m late on the bandwagon of people who complain about that.) In general I’m losing interest in the Marvel superhero universe, or at least the mainstream superhero titles. It’s so frustrating that their overall storylines are really compelling, but they generally end up being killed by the writing, or the art, or both. Case in point: I love that the Nightcrawler series concept is to have him investigate the mystical and paranormal events that the X-Men generally don’t handle, but the end product is hardly worth reading.

…That was a lot of spleen.

Go to:
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa