|The 1st issue, signed by the author and the inker. |
My daughter, Joy, handed a "special rock" to Sam
Humphries, which she said would make him "a good
writer." And then she told him that she liked to write also.
Please note also that every Wednesday, I tweet out which issues I picked up that week, and then over the course of the week I send out individual tweets with 140-character reviews of each issue. You can follow me on Twitter here.
Today's subject of New Comics Wednesday is one of Marvel NOW!'s (still not sure why that's capitalized) new stable of X-related books, Uncanny X-Force. Issue #4 came out today.
As with all of my comic book overviews, I will attempt to explain what makes this comic interesting without giving away any spoilers.
Full Disclosure: As regular readers of the blog know, I'm really much more of a fan of D.C.'s characters, having grown up with them via the old Superfriends cartoons and reruns of the Adam West "Batman" show. However, lately, I've been collecting a few more Marvel titles, partly based on recommendations from my local comic shop. This title in particular I picked up solely because my shop had a signing featuring the writer and inker on the title (more about them below), and they were so cool to both my 3 year-old daughter and to me, I decided to give the title more than just a cursory look. I've been pleased with what I've read so far.
What's It About?
This particular X-book combines Storm, Psylocke, and a guy I remember way back from reading Alpha Flight in the 1980s, Puck. So far, they seem to be "working together" in only the loosest sense of the phrase. In the aftermath of the big A vs. X cross-over from 2012, Storm and Psylocke are sent on a mission to Los Angeles by Wolverine to essentially get them away from a lot of mutant-related drama happening back on the East Coast. In L.A., Storm and Psylocke meet up with Puck and the story takes off.
I also have to confess that I haven't read any of the issue of the title that preceded this one, Rick Remender's somewhat famous run on the pre-Marvel NOW! Uncanny X-Force, so I can't speak to whether Humphries' run is based on any pre-existing storylines. It does involve some characters with whom I'm not very familiar but that, as far as I can tell, are fan-favorites or at least well-known among readers who regularly follow the X-titles.
Who Is the Creative Team?
Sam Humphries has writing duties on the title. In addition to Uncanny X-Force, his writing credits for Marvel include Ultimates and the upcoming Avengers: A.I. He's also got a stable of creator-owned titles include Sacrifice (a mash-up of Joy Division and... ancient Aztecs?!), Our Love is Real, and Higher Earth. Of special note to Daddy Rolled a 1 readers who are parents, Humphries also wrote some Fraggle Rock comics for publisher Archaia.
Humphries writing on the series has been reviewed favorably, mainly in the context of how he's kept the series fresh and yet weaved in some threads sewn by Remender in his run on the series. I can't speak to that, not having read the previous series, but I love the way Humphries handles the characters - Puck, in particular. I remember Puck from the 80s and I also thought he was just kind of a "gimmick" character without much to add to a team that included some pretty heavy-weight mutants. Humphries has effectively turned Puck into my second-favorite "little person" character (Tyrion from the Song of Ice & Fire series is still #1).
I also really enjoy how Humphries inserts little nods to Los Angeles culture and its residents. L.A. is a city that's too often overlooked in comics, taking a very far back-seat to New York (especially in the Marvel Universe). As a resident of L.A. (well, Pasadena, actually), I appreciate that the city has some character and is more than just a name. Some little gems that locals would appreciate include things like mentioning In-N-Out burger and my personal favorite, a character questioning, "L.A. has a subway?"
Art is provided by Ron Garney, who is able to do some real detailed layouts despite the aggressive publishing schedule for Marvel. I really like his work in crafting the various figures - the draftsmanship is really well-done. Unfortunately, after the first issue, the book gets bogged down by a rotating cast of inkers and colorists (five total for issue #2) - it seems a bit excessive and definitely creates some disconnects in the otherwise well-done pencil work by Garney. This trend continues in issue #3. I'm curious to see issue #4 later today.
Who Will Like It?
As always, this part is intended to help folks who don't normally read comics decide if this is something that they'd want to pick up. My assumption is, if you're a regular comic reader, you're probably already at least partially aware of this title.
I'm reading a total of three X-related titles right now (or technically four is you count Uncanny Avengers), and of the four, Uncanny X-Force really seems to be one that can be read without needing to sucked into the miasma of the over-arching story-arcs that are running throughout the other X-books. Storm, Psylocke, and Puck seem to be operating, as least so far, independently from the rest of the X-teams (although Storm does show up periodically in the last few issues of Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men). So, given that, this might be a good title to check-out if you're not following the "main" X-men storylines and if you're looking to explore some of the world of Marvel's mutants without getting bogged down in a lot of the stuff that's taking place in the other titles.
Unlike some of the other titles I've reviewed, this isn't one that has a "hook" (like historical Japan or 1930s pulp adventure) - it's a pretty much straight-up mutant/superhero type of book, so if that style doesn't appeal to you, you might want to look elsewhere for you comics fix.
Any Good Fodder Here for My Role-Playing Games?
As usual, there's a lot of great character development that both players and GMs can use as models for their characters and NPCs. Puck, in particular, would be a great model for fantasy dwarf character with a chip on his shoulder.
Of course, there's also good ideas for running a superhero RPG, and the initial story-arc for the first few issues is somewhat akin to a modern-setting "mystery" involving drugs and other street-level details that could be used in any modern of near-future RPG setting.
Is It Good for Kids?
Pretty much, no. It's rated as "Parental Advisory" and with good reason - there is a lot of heavy swearing (albeit blocked out with black boxes), drugs, lots of violence, and a pretty heavy dose of sex (including some... let's just say "weird" stuff and leave it at that, so as not to spoil anything).
- Format: Monthly 28-page full-color series
- Where to Buy: Try to buy it at your local comics shop. If you don't have one, try a bookstore or convenience store. You can also buy the digital version on Comixology. That link leads to the page on the series; issue #4 came out today.
- Price: $3.99 per issue, including a digital download code for a different free Marvel comic
- Rated: Parental Advisory
- More Information: The official Marvel site for Uncanny X-Force
Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Had a Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial IPA with lunch when I started writing this.
Listening: "Words That I Manifest (Remix)" by Gang Starr