Comic Review: Marvel’s What If? (2018 Minieries)

Published: October 3rd, 2018 – October 31st, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

Marvel has had several different runs with their What If? title. I have always been a fan of it, as it gives us new and different takes on Marvel characters. Usually, they show what happens if characters made different choices or if a major event had a different outcome. I couldn’t read enough of these when I was a kid and in a lot of ways, when I first came into comics, it was What If? that pinpointed the moments throughout Marvel history that were the most pivotal.

This 2018 miniseries was only six issues and all of them were unfortunately released over just five weeks. I wish they would make this an ongoing series again or at least spread them out more.

Like the X-Men: Black miniseries, which also came out weekly over October, this had different creative teams with each issue and it showed.

The six stories in this series were What If Flash Thompson Became Spider-Man?What If X-Men? (not a clearly defined title), What If Peter Parker Became the Punisher?What If Marvel Comics Went Metal with Ghost Rider?, What if Thor Was Raised by Frost Giants? and What If Magik Became Sorcerer Supreme?

Out of the six titles, the only ones I really enjoyed were the Magik and Punisher ones. Thor and Flash Thompson were okay but the X-Men one was a mess and the Ghost Rider one was one of the worst comics I’ve read in several years. I mean, it was beyond atrocious and getting through it was a hell of a chore.

Marvel could rectify their problems with this series, if they don’t rush them next time. If this was a regular monthly series like it was at its peak, the stories would probably have more time devoted to them.

Some of the art even felt rushed and half assed.

Ultimately, I liked a few issues but I can’t really recommend the series over all.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: old school What If? comics, many of which have been re-released for $1 under the True Believers imprint.

Comic Review: X-Infernus

Published: December 3rd, 2008 – March 25th, 2009
Written by: C.B. Cebulski
Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jesse Delperdang

Marvel Comics, 96 Pages

Review:

I have always loved Magik and this series has one of my two favorite covers that she’s ever been on. Just ten years ago, heroines could still look super sexy and display the ideal form. Nowadays, the ideal female form is being pushed out of comic books, even though it’s been a very important staple in art throughout history, as well as escapism entertainment. Nowadays, we aren’t supposed to look at things that attract us because that’s implied rape or something. Also, I’m going to excuse the Papyrus typeface on the cover because the art distract from it. But c’mon, Marvel… fucking Papyrus, really?!

This is one of the better stories centered around Magik and her association with Limbo. Although, it isn’t as good as the original Magik miniseries from the early ’80s, it really brought me back to that special place. C.B. Cebulski weaves a good story here but on the flipside of that, his dialogue can induce a bit of cringe sometimes. For instance, here’s an actual quote from Pixie, immediately after she thinks she stabbed Nightcrawler to death:

“Oh my god Dr. McCoy I don’t know what happened Mr. Wagner asked to see my soul dagger so I pulled it out and then it was like it had a mind of its own and the next thing I know I’m all evil and like GRRRR and then it all goes black and Mr. Wagner’s on the ground with my soul dagger plunged into his–“

Yeah, wow… is that bad or am I just crazy? It’s the world’s longest unpunctuated string of dialogue ever but I guess you’re supposed to interpret that as her being scared, nervous and in shock. But really, did she need to say “GRRRR”? Who talks like this?

Apart from that, I don’t have any gripes with this story, except that it felt a bit too short. But the original Magik miniseries was the same length. That one just felt like it had more in it though.

When this starts, Magik is a demon ruling over Limbo. She discovers that Belasco, the demon warlock that made her what she is, has a daughter named Witchfire. While this isn’t Witchfire’s first appearance, it’s the first time that she and Magik have crossed paths.

The X-Men intervene to bring Magik back to the light and to help stop Withfire, who has grown extremely powerful in her quest to rule Limbo and to be more powerful than her underworld peers: Hela, Dormammu, Mephisto, Blackheart and Satannish.

I love Magik and the world of Limbo because these tales bring something really cool to the Marvel universe. They feel like ’80s Dungeons & Dragons stories.

Now this isn’t as good as the Magik miniseries but it’s a great continuation of the things that were established by it.

I also can’t end this without giving props to the art. I loved the look of this book, the character design and the atmosphere of Limbo. Overall, this was a fun, dark read.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Magik-centric stories: the Magik miniseries, the classic New Mutants stuff and the more recent New Mutants: Dead Souls but that one was pretty weak.

Comic Review: The New Mutants: Dead Souls

Published: March 14th, 2018 – August 29th, 2018
Written by: Matt Rosenberg
Art by: Adam Gorham, Ryan Stegman (covers)

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

I had trouble rounding up the six issues in this miniseries, as the first few sold out quickly at my local comic shop and then the last few seemed to have not been ordered. But now that I got all six issues, I was able to finally read this. I was anticipating this greatly, as I am a long time New Mutants fan and I also love Magik.

But man, this was a mixed bag.

Had I bought and read these from the beginning, I would have quit this series after the second issue. As much as I like these characters, this miniseries started out really f’n bad.

To start, don’t let the nice covers fool you because the interior art is pretty unimpressive. In fact, Magik looks like a blonde wannabe of Lisbeth Slander from those Girl With the Predictable Yet Easily Triggered Goth Attitude books and movies.

Go look at the cover of X-Infernus because that’s how Magik should look in the modern age: all woman. I mean, is she a teenager again or supposed to be? Did I miss some moment in recent years where she reverted back to her younger age? Because she grew into one heck of a badass demon women wielding a magic sword and wearing armor like some sexy Red Sonja villain. Now she looks like my neighbor’s pissy daughter, Chloe. I said “hi” to her once and she just starred at her phone, chewing gum and looking like she was cosplaying as Negasonic Teenage Warhead cosplaying as Axl Rose. I just call her “Chlobot” now and her reaction is the same.

Anyway, the story was pretty unimaginative, at least in the beginning. It started out as a New Mutants versus zombies tale but then it evolved into a mish mash of what felt like random shit. It went from The Walking Dead to fighting a frost giant at the North Pole to a bad plane ride to a funeral to I don’t know, it was all over the place.

However, it did pick up and seem more cohesive as it went on. The part about the funeral and it being some mind games from the villain was an interesting twist. I wouldn’t call it original and the twist felt like a cop out, as they couldn’t commit to the more interesting bit but at least it pulled me into the story.

There is a whole side plot about Warlock, which culminates in the big ending of this story but that ending was problematic because it was a non-ending and showed that this six issue miniseries was just a tool to setup something else in the future. The problem with this, is that a miniseries should be pretty self-contained and this wasn’t. It ends in the middle of a larger story arc and I have no idea where this is supposed to pick up or if it even started or not.

Another big issue was the writing and I don’t mean the story, I just covered that. It was the dialogue. Man, it was terrible. These kids talk like every generic and uninteresting Marvel character being written today. They all have the same personality with just minor tweaks. It’s all snark, no likability and it’s a lot of forced humor. You know how some people aren’t funny but try to be funny? That’s just about every character in this book.

I really wanted to like this because I miss the experience I had reading The New Mutants. Sadly, this doesn’t cut the mustard. But I can just go back and pick those old books up anytime, I guess.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: I guess the recent X-Men stuff, which has all been pretty weak if not outright terrible. I’d like to say classic New Mutants but this just doesn’t live up to those great stories.

Comic Review: Magik: Illyana and Storm

Published: December, 1983 – March, 1984
Written by: Chris Claremont
Art by: John Buscema, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Tom Palmer, Glynis Wein

Marvel Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik is one of my favorite Marvel characters of all-time. I loved her in The New Mutants and in her many appearances since. I never read her origin story, however.

Before getting my hands on this series, I read The Uncanny X-Men #160, which bookends this miniseries. At the start of that story, Illyana is a small child. She gets caught on the other side of a portal. When the X-Men pull her through, just seconds later, she is seven years older. This miniseries fills in that seven year gap and shows how she went from just being a young mutant with teleportation abilities to a powerful sorceress with a magic sword.

Chris Claremont did a damn fine job with the story and each of the four issues were great from cover to cover. This also got away from standard Marvel fare and tapped into a tone and style that was much more in tune with hardcore fantasy fans of the ’80s.

This looks and feels like a comic set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, which was at a peak in popularity at the time. In fact, maybe I never got my hands on this comic because my mum was pretty adamant that playing Dungeons & Dragons with my cousins was going to punch my ticket to Hell. She’s less crazy about that stuff now and weirdly, she’s a big Harry Potter fan.

Anyway, this story kind of reminded me of how I felt when I used to watch the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon on Saturday mornings when my mum wasn’t paying attention to what I had on TV.

This story is pretty damn dark. While it is a coming of age story and very much written for a teen audience, Claremont’s greatness transcends that demographic and I think that most people that love ’80s X-Men or ’80s D&D will enjoy the hell out of this.

It does some really disturbing things to some of the core X-Men characters too. Kitty Pryde is transformed into a werecat creature and then dies, Storm is a badass sorceress and then dies, Nightcrawler is a demon slave and then dies, Colossus, who is Magik’s older brother, is found with his metal shell ripped open and yes… he’s also dead.

Illyana has to figure out her predicament, battle a powerful warlock, take his power and also fight several other demonic and magical forces. Ultimately, she becomes a demon goddess of the awesomest caliber. She may also have had the most screwed up childhood of any X-Men character that wasn’t present at the Holocaust.

I f’n loved this story. It also motivated me to get back into those early New Mutants tales, as it’s been a really long time since I’ve read them.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: The Uncanny X-Men #160, which bookends this story and the early New Mutants stuff featuring Magik as a member of the team.