Wednesday Reviews – Week of October 22
Like Four Colors has done in the past with Wednesday Reviews, this will normally be two-three issue reviews, highlighting something from the big publishers and something from the smaller ones. But since most of the books that I would review are already subjects of longer pieces I have started, we are simply focusing one book from Marvel, but don’t worry, it’s a fun one.
The first longer piece will be Avengers & X-Men: AXIS later this week, but until then, just know that it is a good idea to wait for this series to conclude and maybe wait for the trade. Over-the-top characterizations, murdering psychopaths quipping throughout a three issue fight that ultimately goes nowhere, AXIS, like FAR TOO MANY of Marvel’s event books, is plagued by missed opportunities and a feeling of “Who cares?”
Speaking of missed opportunities, Cyclops reads like something Marvel should have done a long time ago. Of course, the boy with laser eyes would be perfect for a space opera series. But given the villainous turn Cyclops has taken, it’s good that Marvel has a teenage version of him around too, thanks to Brian Michael Bendis and the time-travel shenanigans of All-New X-Men.
The first five issues, written by Greg Rucka with art by Russel Dauterman, were a fun father-son bonding trip through the cosmos. Teenage Scott Summers has been brought to the future/present and seen the terrible things he does as an adult (most recently killing Patrick Stew…Professor X). He also learns that his father, who he thought was dead, is not only alive, but the space pirate known as Corsair the Starjammer. Cue adventure.
With today’s issue 6, a new creative team takes over for Rucka and Dauterman; John Layman as writer and Javier Garrón as artist. I have enjoyed Rucka’s writing, but the real joy from the first five issues is Dauterman’s work. Dauterman has moved over to the re-launched Thor, featuring the mystery woman wielding Mjolnir, but a suitable replacement is found in Garrón. Whereas Dauterman has a knack for bringing out the cartoon in realistic characters, Garrón brings the reality to more cartoon-y designs. The two are complimentary to each other, so the book doesn’t really lose a step in its overall look through the transition, but does seem a little more fantastical and the human characters appear a little more diminutive. Although, the shot of sixteen-year-old Scott, hunched over the toilet after some bad space liquor is priceless.
Layman is the writer of Chew for Image Comics and in taking over the writing duties, really shines. The plot is a classic, media res start that circles back to the beginning, now with the context explored and explained. While obviously he has a knack for clever stories and interesting plots, Layman’s strength is in characterization. He hits the story beats, catches up the reader on previous events, but does so in a way that also services the characters. Putting a teenage boy in space also makes for a great opportunity to highlight the awkwardness of growing up through the fish-out-of-water experience of being out among the stars. Unlike so many Marvel books, which constantly build to different set pieces and bigger stories, Cyclops can just till about in outer space and just give readers monthly doses of adventure. Layman and Garrón are off to a great start with their first issue together. Hopefully, the five issue tenure does not become a trend for the book.
I recently got to ask Brian Michael Bendis a question for Comic Book Resources’ “X-Position” column and he had this to say about Cyclops: “Of all the characters, he does seem to be the one where if he went full bad guy, people wouldn’t be surprised. If he went full good guy, people wouldn’t be surprised. That’s what makes him the most interesting character in the X-Men Universe if not the Marvel Universe.
In my initial draft of the Death of Wolverine post, I started by stating that I haven’t been the biggest Wolverine fan. In fact, I have always had a soft spot for Scott Summers, especially in the 90s X-Men cartoon and then when Grant Morrison put him through the wringer in New X-Men. He is probably my favorite X-Man, despite so many writers not really knowing what to do with him. Most writers see him as Marvel’s Superman; the uptight, stick-in-the-mud boy scout. But when good writers sink their teeth into him, Cyclops shines like no other. For so long, the character has been the leader of the X-Men and the moral center of the mutant community. But now, we get to read the adventures of an unsure, untrained, untested Scott Summers…in space.
This series reminds us that the power of a consistent and solid book can equal that of a mind-blowing but uneven one.
All images copyright of Marvel
Cyclops #6 – 3 out of 4 Colors