Sunday, January 24, 2010

IN REVIEW: X-Men Forever

As promised... here's my review of a certain comic book collection featuring a well-known mutant superhero team.

X-Men Forever picks up where Chris Claremont left off after his 30+ year run on the Uncanny X-Men comic book. Forever proves that his departure may not have been an entirely bad thing. In the first six issues of the book* (collected into this handy dandy trade paperback), Storm beings acting increasingly out of character (mostly by being belligerent and peeved at, well EVERYBODY) until she’s finally revealed… as EVIL! And not just your typical kind of evil, but she’s working with some weird evil organization we’ve never really heard of. And Jean Grey tries to read their minds, but obviously can’t. Speaking of Jean… she’s back to crushing on Wolverine, and the two share some awkwardly tender moments at the beginning of the story. This is weird, since Jean is still dating Scott. X-Men Forever takes place before Jean and Scott get married, but Jean suddenly desiring Logan kind of comes out of nowhere. Nightcrawler and Shadowcat have rejoined the X-Men, too… which kind of makes no sense. I guess the decided to quit Excalibur for… why? Are we even really given a reason? I think Kurt says they just left. The Gold and Blue teams have essentially been dissolved off-panel, and several of the X-Men (particularly ones from the Gold Team; Archangel, Colossus, Iceman, and newcomer Bishop… where you at?) have seemingly disappeared for no reason. Claremont’s excitement at pressing this new story forward doesn’t translate into a story the veers off from the original storyline. Every X-Man is so out of character, especially Jean Grey and, in particular Storm, that this almost reads like an X-Men story that takes place in the Bizarro World.

Oh, and Storm’s biggest evil act? Is killing Wolverine. With lightening. All that’s left is his adamantium bones. And if that isn’t confusing enough, the younger version of Storm that hung out with Gambit when he first appeared is suddenly back, casting doubt that the adult Storm, who’s all Wolverine-killing and being evil, is the Storm that we know and love. I guess she’s just… not. I can’t even pretend to be interested in this element of the story, as it’s more confusing than mysterious. Also, following Wolvie’s death, Kitty Pryde gets a “Wolverine Claw” appendage, but naturally it’s just one claw and it hurts every single time she “pops” it. This… makes absolutely no sense, but okay. Let’s go with it. In one of the few story elements that actually sort of makes sense, Nick Fury has set up shop with X-Men and is monitoring their activities. He also provides the X-Men with S.H.I.E.L.D. backup when necessary, which a lot of the X-Men resent. Nick Fury proves to be the voice of reason throughout the story, and makes a lot more sense than Charles Xavier does. I remember reading that Claremont wanted the “Shadow King Saga” to end with Xavier’s death (in fact, if you read it… it almost is as if Xavier dies at the end of story). Claremont’s inability to write Xavier shows a lot in Forever. Xavier would prove to be one of the most interesting X-Men in later years for me, especially with Scott Lobdell and other writers who followed Claremont up.

X-Men Forever proves to be ultimately disappointing (we didn't even GET TO Sabertooth's convoluted inclusion on the team). What happened in the Marvel Universe proper was what got me to fall in love with the X-Men. I can’t believe that what happens in Forever is how Claremont would have progressed with the title, since it essentially would have ruined the X-Men, if you’ll forgive the pun, … forever.

*a “book” is comic book nerd slang for an ongoing comic book title. Thus, X-Men Forever and Uncanny X-Men, two ongoing comic titles that are published monthly by Marvel Comics, are called “books” for short. Yeah, I don’t get it, either, but I’m used to calling it that so you should, too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

'Very Valentine' Contest WINNERS!

I am proud to announce the winners of the 'Very Valentine' Contest-

Scott B. of New York, NY
Elizabeth G. of Cambridge, MA
George P. of Elkridge, MD

Thanks for entering guys! Enjoy reading 'Very Valentine'

While shamelessly googling myself today, I came across a mention of my name from the Barnes & Nobel website. It turns out that the review I wrote for School Library Journal over the summer was published (albeit in a slightly modified, edited format) in the magazine for the October 2009 issue. I reviewed Out of the Blue, which was also included in my Top 10 YA Fiction Books of 2009. You can read the reviews for free, so go check me out on the website... if you want :) It's kind of cool that I'm there. I applied to do it again, so hopefully you'll see another review from me sometime this year. I'm finally finishing up Will Grayson, Will Grayson from a few posts back, then will read and review Very Valentine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Visit Adriana Trigiani @ ALA Tomorrow!

Adriana Trigiani will be at the ALA Conference in Boston tomorrow. Can't see her? Check out this video of her doing a walking tour through Greenwich Village, NYC!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Very Valentine Contest!

Are you a secret reader of my blog? It's time to reveal yourself... because you could win a prize!

To celebrate the paperback release of Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (I'm sure you noticed the <----- addition to my blog over there- click on the link for more info), HarperCollins will be mailing 3 special winners a copy of the book! How do you enter this fabulous contest? Just comment on this entry! You will need to include your e-mail address. This contest is only running for one week. The last day to enter will be Friday, January 22, 2010. Winners will be notified by e-mail, then will need to e-mail me their physical address in order to receive their prize. Pretty simple, right? You may remember Ms Trigiani's first YA novel, Viola in Reel Life was featured on my Top YA books of 2009 list.

As the month of love approaches, look for a lot more Very Valentine madness. The sequel, Brava, Valentine is being released on February 9, 2010. You can look forward to reviews of both titles right here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

CURRENT: World Without a Superman

I just finished Peck's Sprout this morning. Much better than I thought. It might be too little too late... the supporting characters who are so important at the beginning essentially fade away into nothingness during the second part, and I still know that I liked the book in the end. Kind of sad, but ends on a hopeful note. It's the type of book that makes you long for a redneck boyfriend from Kansas.

Speaking of Kansas... guess what I just bought? I'll give you a hint. It is neither bird... not plane... yep. That guy. After springing for The Death of Superman last year while I was building my NYC graphic novel collection, I decided to follow it up by purchasing the sequel as well. It's justified, since as a kid I had most of the Reign of Superman individual issues (who didn't love Superboy and the Cyborg Superman? I know I did!). I had only actually read the second issue from what this trade paperback collects, a story focusing on Supergirl trying to quell the riots in Metropolis following the Man of Steel's death. I'm not all the way through it... I probably will be this afternoon. While there are a lot of convoluted characters, especially Dubbilex, the Guardian, and those weird Time Twisty (not their actual names, but doesn't that sound comic booky?) dudes who breifly argue over changing history to bring Supes back, the story is a pretty accurate depiction of, if there was a Superman, and that Superman died, what would happen? The police and the government have a standoff over his body, Lois is basically a mess during the whole thing, and his parents don't even initially believe it's happened- they just quietly wait for Clark to come back. I like it. They don't make stories like this anymore, kids.

Coming soon is my review of the first 5 issues (collected in the Volume 1 Trade Paperback) of X-Men Forever. The great thing about reviewing graphic novels and trade paperbacks? I can read them and review them fast, so you get more from me. P.S. I accept all Marvel/DC donations.