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Skottie Young

Avengers vs X-Men

I love both the Avengers and the X-Men- but who will come out on top in this epic battle?!

I have been meaning to read this collected edition since last year when I read Uncanny X-Men: Revolution that followed this event book. I kept picking up this series but putting it back down when other graphic novels caught my eye. But when I recently read Mr. and Mrs. X, and I had forgotten that a certain character was dead because of this storyline, I knew I needed to finally make the commitment to finish it.

This story follows House of M, when Scarlet Witch utters “No more mutants!”, thus no mutants have been born in years. When the first mutant child, Hope, is born who has the ability to psychically manipulate and mimic the powers of other mutants, current mutants divide as what to do. When it is discovered that Phoenix, the powerful being that killed Jean Grey, is headed to Earth to possibly consume Hope, the heroes are torn as what to do. What it comes down to is Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men, feels that Hope is strong enough to control the Pheonix and will use its power to reignite mutantdom vs Captain America, the Avengers leader, who feels that Hope will become a threat and destroy humanity, thus she needs to be taken down.

So begins the battles- many many of them, as this graphic novel collects twelve chapters to tell the story. When you have such a large cast not everyone can properly get featured and this book follows suit. Some heroes receive small cameos, with one bit of dialogue and then they are just part of the large fighting scenes. But I was pleasantly surprised that Iron Fist had such a large role, plus Nova got a nice part too.

As I don’t wish to spoil the narrative too much, I will limit my summary. When Pheonix arrives, five mutants- Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, and Magik- take Hope’s place and all get considerable new powers that they use for improving the world. But we all know that’s not the end of the story. The Pheonix wants Hope and it is she and Scarlet Witch that finally subdue the Pheonix’s dark powers, but not before there is a lot of death and destruction.

There are powerful moments found within the story and some insightful and sometimes snappy dialogue, but it can be a slog to find them. Just as I found Captain Marvel unsufferable in Civil War II, so I found Cyclops. He has some extremely valid points, as mutants really have been persecuted, but I was really hating on him, plus…he’s the one who ends up getting briefly consumed by the Pheonix and doing something terrible.

Overall, the art was strong despite many different artists. While there are some style shifts in the different chapters, there is enough visual consistency when the various stories were pulled together in this collected edition. Although Hope sometimes varies between looking like a teen (which she was) and an older typical female hero hottie. I always enjoyed the crowd or battle scenes as its fun to see how the artists choose to portray everyone in mid-action.

In the large collected edition, there are also some tie-ins:

A vs X: This volume showcases personal battles amidst the war and has a whole slew of authors and artists detail how two connected heroes (or villains) duke it out. There is – Iron Man vs Magneto, Things vs Namor, Captain America vs Gambit, Spider-Man vs Colossus, Black Widow vs Magik, Daredevil vs Psylocke, Thor vs Emma Frost, Hawkeye vs Angel, Black Panther vs Storm, Hope vs Scarlet Witch, Cyclops vs Captain America, AvX: Science Battle, Captain America vs Havok, Red Hulk vs Domino, Toad vs Jarvis, Spider-Woman vs (several) X-Women, Iron Fist vs and Iceman and Squirrel Girl vs Pixie.

This is a motley grouping of short stories (some are only a page long), as some of the fights tie in with the preceding narrative, while others are just for laughs. The only one that I found truly memorable was the poignant Storm vs Black Panther battle because there is no winner as their marriage sadly crumbles because of their differences.

A-Babies vs X-Babies:  Skottie Young is well known for his variant covers of Marvel heroes, so this one-off is funny and good for a single read. On the corner of Fury Dr and Xavier Way is the peaceful neighborhood of Marvelous Meadows. Being tucked into bed is little Steve (Captain America) who is surrounded by his army themed stuffed bears. Wait- Bucky Bear is missing! Peering out the window he sees his neighbor Scott (Cyclops) taunting him with his beloved bear. Steve calls out “Avengers Assemble!” and quickly his team of baby friends has joined him. Scott calls for back up but laments he has no catchy phrase to get them there. Instead, he yells that there is an ice cream truck nearby, and the X-Men babies show up. A battle ensues for the bear between the two teams. There is a cuteness overload as baby representations of all famous Avengers & X-Men duke it out.

Putting this entire book down several times should have been my clue that it wasn’t for me. While I am typically a sucker for these crossover event books, I have reached a fatigue level with the fighting among team members trope. While I found Civil War fresh, this and Civil War II were anything but.

-Nancy

Middlewest

Skottie Young, known for his fanciful stories, does it again with Middlewest! It is an intriguing graphic novel that is a mash-up of the classic hero’s journey, steampunk and The Wizard of Oz.

Abel is a young teen living with his single Dad in the town of Farmington, and is going through the usual stages of teenage angst. But when he gets caught up with some friends and makes a poor choice his father overreacts and kicks Abel out of the house for an evening. They have words and his father flies into a fury transforming into a powerful tornado. Abel and his sidekick animal, Fox, escape onto a train but not before the tornado grabs him leaving a strange mark on his chest. Abel and the wisecracking Fox meet a hobo wizard that helps them escape from yet another bad situation, and eventually, they end up joining a traveling circus. All the while, Abel’s father is searching for him, and a mysterious woman at the circus might be able to help when chaos looms.

Jorge Corona’s art is reminiscent of Young’s I Hate Fairyland series, yet it is all his own. Abel’s world is an interesting mash-up of steampunk, fantasy and Midwest reality. The people are drawn with an exaggerated style that matches the fantasy aspect of the story. Corona includes details that will make you do a double-take, as he juxtaposes the every day with the fantastic.  Containers of some sort of pink liquid are everywhere, and while you assume they are fuel of some sort, it is never explained. The colors that Jean-Francois Beaulieu add are eye-popping, as they can veer between subdued colors of the surrounding countryside, and then they become bold especially in later sequences at the circus.

I was pleased with book one of this new series and will be interested in finding out what happens to Abel and how the toxic masculinity that his father has modeled will affect him as the dangerous magic is beginning to transform him.

-Nancy

Young, Skottie, Jorge Corona & Jean-Francois Beaulieu. Middlewest. 2019.

I Hate Fairyland: Volumes Three & Four

I Hate Fairyland is fluffin’ over, with the third and fourth books bringing this series to a fantabulous conclusion! I applaud writer and illustrator Skottie Young for keeping this series to four volumes, for as I said after my review of volume two, “I am leery of falling into a candy-induced coma if I read too much of this series.”

Young has quite a distinctive illustrative style and is already well known for his past work such as Rocket Raccoon and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Plus, his chubby baby superheroes are a fan favorite for variant art in the Marvel books. As such, he is the only artist I can imagine pulling off this storyline. Colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu gives the residents of Fairyland a candy-colored motif that is a perfect juxtaposition for green-haired Gertrude’s nightmare.

Volume Three: Good Girl

Volume three opens with a fun shout-out to comic cons as Gertrude actually looks forward to the annual Dungeon Festexpocon. There she acquires a super-fan who admires the destruction that she has wrought over the community. But as usual, that pairing doesn’t last and Gertrude moves onto the next disaster. We also get a lengthy origin story to her guide, Larry the Fly, but I wasn’t quite clear if it was a memory or a dream.

Our favorite psychopath decides to try something she hasn’t before in her quest to leave Fairytown- she is a good girl. Could this be the key to going home? However, after the swath of horror she has inflicted upon the Fairyland citizens for over 30 years, the creatures do not believe her and former foes come back to kill her. A trip to Hell seems apropos at the end.

On a funny note, when I went to pull these two books from the graphic novel collection at the library I work at, I couldn’t find them, although the computer said they were checked in. A new shelver of ours had put these two volumes in the kid’s graphic novel section, due to the look of this volume in particular.  I hope no youngster was traumatized by accidentally flipping through the very mature content!

Volume Four: Sadly Never After

Hell is filled with Gertrude’s former enemies who wish to make her suffer. As Gertrude is still longing for home,  the Devil plays with her insecurities and sends her to an alternate reality of her parent’s home. But he soon deducts that the real agony for Gertrude is to send her back to Fairyland. Back in Fairlyland, we meet Queen Cloudia who was vanquished in the first volume and who has now become Dark Cloudia. Bitter, she wants to destroy her former kingdom so some of the council leaders appeal to Gertrude to defeat her. They tell her that Cloudia’s defeat will earn Gertrude a way home.

While Gertrude’s way home is not straightforward and easy, the short epilogue with a grown up Gertrude back home is bittersweet, as it’s not exactly what she had been wishing for…

I loved the little jokes that you could find in the background panels, with dark humor and satire interwoven into it. The art remained fresh throughout and even knowing what kind of story this was, some of the violence and mayhem continued to surprise me. I will miss this foul mouthed sociopath, as Skottie Young created an unforgettable character in Gertrude.

-Nancy

Make sure you check out Volume One: Madly Ever After  &  Volume Two: Fluff My Life

I Hate Fairyland: Fluff My Life (Volume 2)

Gert is back! And she is still the foul-mouthed violent sociopath that you remember fondly from volume one- Madly Ever After.

At the conclusion of the previous book, Gert has been crowned the Queen of Fairyland, and as you can expect her tenure as queen does not go well. She is unsuited for queenly duties, and as such her kingdom falls into chaos, albeit in a funny candy coated gory way. But author Skottie Young never intends for Gert to remain static, so she manages to get terminated from her job so she can move onto her next adventure.

As always Gert wants to get the fluff out of Fairyland, so she embarks on a quest with her trusty sidekick Larry the Fly. Never to think of anyone but herself, Gert leaves a wake of destruction across the kingdom as she follows different clues that could perhaps send her home. There is a very brief poignant moment, as Gert and Larry speculate what awaits her back home if she should actually leave. But the moment passes, and Gert is back to her destructive ways.  A showdown with a Manga-inspired purty princess leads her to abandon a vulnerable new character,  who will come back for revenge later.

Each book, or even issue, contains stories that are stand alone in nature. This series is geared to be a lighthearted romp, with dark humor and satire interwoven into it. The illustrations continue to be a treat, with a lot of pop culture references drawn in for laughs. Young recently drew a hilarious spoof of the series, I Hate Image for Free Comic Book Day and had Gert encountering other Image Comics series characters.  Young and his creative team continue to have fun with the series, although I must admit, too much of a good thing can start to get old. I will continue to look through future volumes, but am leery of falling into a candy-induced coma if I read too much of this series.

-Nancy

( I will be taking a brief break from writing for the blog, as my family is heading to Florida for a vacation. But never fear- Kathleen and I rearranged our Wednesday posts so she will be writing next week, and Michael from My Comic Relief wrote us an awesome guest post about Deadpool for next Friday. I hope to get some good reading done, plus I’ll still be peeking in at the comments and checking Twitter while I am soaking in the rays. Stay geeky my friends!)

Young, Skottie, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos. I Hate Fairyland: Fluff My Life. 2016.

Free Comic Book Day 2017

 

The library I work at has hosted Free Comic Book Day the last three years (thanks to me!!!) so I was excited to get a sneak peek at the comics before the public did. There were four that I zeroed in on. Quick recaps follow.

I had most been anticipating this comic, as Skottie Young released the cover awhile back and I loved the mash up of Image characters with Gertrude the foul mouthed sociopath from I Hate Fairyland. She encounters and brutally attacks members from The Walking Dead, Saga, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Paper Girls, Invincible, Chew, Revival and The Wicked +The Divine. The ending with the Image partners was a fun shout-out. This comic was definitely a winner for it’s sick humor.

The Next Generation crew is looking pretty bad-ass here. This prequel to an upcoming comic series features Captain Picard, Troi, Data, and Tasha Yar on the Starship I.S.S. Stargazer in a alternate universe in which the Klingon/Cardassians alliance is powerful.  Low ranking crewman Barkley gets a chance to shine in this issue, and reestablishes equilibrium of one person’s fate no matter what universe they belong in. An after note by the authors whets my appetite for further story lines in this Mirror Broken universe.

An appealing prequel to the upcoming movie, this comic gives us a duel narrative of Diana on the island of Themyscira and Steve Trevor in military training. Although both arcs show them with good friends, both seem dissatisfied and yearning for more. My only small criticism is that if this was a prequel to the movie, I was surprised the characters weren’t drawn more similar to the actors that will be portraying them on the screen.

I was most leery of this title, as Marvel has had uneven success with their events, and I’m of very mixed feelings if I want to invest time in the Secret Empire, after being so dissatisfied with Civil War II. Captain America comes out as a secret agent of Hydra, and his former friends and heroes fall in battle against him. This very short introduction to the upcoming series has me torn. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t sucked in either. Time will tell if I want to continue. The last half of the comic was a fun Spiderman vs The Vulture story. It had some snappy dialogue between the two about “you’re so old that…” and had a tease for future story lines.

All in all, all four of my choices were solid. I plan on continuing with most of the story lines, and isn’t that the intent of the event, to make us want to buy future issues?

-Nancy

I Hate Fairyland: Madly Ever After

Whoa, this book! It was so fluffing inappropriate,  bloody and over the top. So of course I loved it.

I first became aware of this book when one of my fav bloggers @ The Green Onion Blog reviewed it, and then a friend of mine on Goodreads, so afterwards I knew I had to check it out. When I requested it at my go-to comic book store, Graham Crackers, they asked me where I planned to keep it at the library, and after I assured them it would be in the adult section, they told me they knew I’d love it (They know me well!).

The writer and illustrator, Skottie Young, has quite a distinctive illustrative style and is already well known for his past work such as Rocket Raccoon and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Plus, his chubby baby superheroes are a fan favorite for variant art in the Marvel books. As such, he is the only artist I can imagine pulling off this storyline.

The cover art and title page splash panels show us that we are in for a gruesome treat. We are then introduced to sweet green haired Gertrude in her home as she wishes for a fairy land adventure. The phrase “Be careful what you wish for” is accurate here, for she is unceremoniously dropped, or shall I say plunged into Fairyland. She is met by Queen Cloudia and all the cute citizens of the realm and told all she has to do is find a key back to her world. Expecting this would only take a day, she is given a map and a guide, Larry the fly. Things don’t go as planned, and although Gertrude does not look as though she has aged, 27 years has gone by, and Gertrude has turned into a foul mouthed psychopath.

The Queen is quite disturbed as Gertrude terrorizes Fairyland, still on her quest to get the muffin fluffing way out of there. As the queen can not be the one who hurts a guest of the land, she employs others to do her bidding. It doesn’t go well. The final straw for Gertrude is when another little girl is successful in her quest for the key, when Gertrude herself has been unable to find her way back home. All chaos breaks loose, with some hilariously gory sequences, and a twist to keep Gertrude in Fairyland permanently.

Read this candy colored comic book, only if you have a sick sense of humor and are not offended easily. If you meet the above criteria, you will not be disappointed in this violent comedic series, and it will become a guilty pleasure of yours!

-Nancy

Young, Skottie, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos. I Hate Fairyland: Madly Ever After. 2016.

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