In which we return to Rose City Comic Con and somehow manage to one-up last year’s Stryfe cold open; Greg Pak has secretly written all of the X-books; Cullen Bunn may or may not be watching you RIGHT NOW; the X-Men distill down to murder and kissing; Toshiro Mifune should be everybody; Miles swears first (for once); and we can’t wait to see all of your X-Men roller derby names!
Cold open escalation
Marrying history and narrative
Murder and kissing
X-Treme X-Men vol. 2
Reimagining characters across the multiverse
Governor-General James Howlett
Where superheroes should and shouldn’t intersect with geopolitical events
Our X-Men buddy-cop duos of choice
X-Men roller derby names
Contemporary vs. retrospective representations of current events
NEXT WEEK: The New Mutants go to Asgard!
There’s not exactly a visual companion to this episode, but you can find a Rose City Comic Con gallery on our blog!
While the Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau Awards for Excellence in X-Cellence* officially made their debut in last week’s Giant-Size Special, we wanted to take a moment to revisit them: the X-books, creators, and concepts that rocked our year.
If your name–or a project to which you contributed–appears on the list below,** and you would like an actual, physical Corbeau Award to hang on your wall, please drop us a line, and we will make and mail you one. It will be beautiful and classy as hell, it will definitely involve some glitter glue.
And so, without further ado, it is out great pleasure to present:
THE 2014 SUPER DOCTOR ASTRONAUT PETER CORBEAU AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN X-CELLENCE!
Best X-Writer – Brian Michael Bendis, for Uncanny X-Men, All-New X-Men, and general line architecture
Best X-Artist – Kris Anka, for Uncanny X-Men and general visual and costuming impact
Best X-Colorist – Chris Sotomayor, for Cyclops
Best X-Letterer (Now and Forever) – Tom Orzechowski, for everything ever forever
Jean Grey Award for Creative Resurrection – Nightcrawler (Amazing X-Men)
Best New Character – Forget-Me-Not (X-Men Legacy #300)
Best Complete Arc – Cyclops #1-5, by Greg Rucka, Russell Dauterman, Chris Sotomayor, Carmen Carnero, et. al.
Best Soap Opera – All-New X-Men, by Brian Michael Bendis et. al.
Silver Lining Award – Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #4, by Marguerite Bennett, Juan Doe, et. al.
Golden Retcon – X-Men: Days of Future Past
Irene Adler Award for Most Anticipated Future Run – G. Willow Wilson onX-Men
About Damn Time – Storm, by Greg Pak et. al.
Cyclops Has a Good Day Award – Wolverine and the X-Men #40, by Jason Aaron, Pepe Larraz, et. al.
Best Listeners of Any Podcast Ever – YOU**
CLASSIC CORBEAUS (for older X-material covered in the podcast during 2014)
Harvey and Janet Award for Best Walk-On – The staff and guests of the Heartbreak Hotel
Lost Treasure – Beauty and the Beast, by Ann Nocenti, Don Perlin, et. al.
Sure, Why Not? – The Leprechauns of Cassidy Keep
Still the Best Issue After All These Years – Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 #137
*Did you know you can just straight-up make up your own awards and give them to whomever you want? The Internet is awesome, y’all.
**LOOK! IT’S A COLORING CONTEST!
Listeners, while we love you dearly, we do not love you quite enough to make and mail all roughly ten-thousand of you your own Corbeaus. If you want a Corbeau of your very own, you’ve got two options:
1) Make your own, using the art below. We officially certify that it will be official and the Real Deal, and if anyone challenges you on that, we will glare meaningfully in their direction.
2) Show us your coloring skills. That’s right. It’s a CORBEAU COLORING CONTEST. Color the following image using in any medium you want: digital art, crayons, spray-painted macaroni–the sky is the limit. E-mail us a picture of your work at xplainthexmen(at)gmail(dot)com, with the subject line CORBEAU COLORING CONTEST, by January 14 January 21. The listener whose Corbeau comes closest to the transcendent perfection of its namesake will receive a physical Corbeau–glitter glue and all–to hoard privately or share with their remaining nine-thousand-odd peers at their discretion.
Alternately, Rachel made this in Blingee. Use it as you see fit:
Rachel here! As some of you astute viewers noticed, there was no Storm #4 review in last week’s video reviews. We did actually record one–it’s just that I then failed to edit it into the video, and then deleted the raw files, as I do.
In my defense, there were ten books this round, and I’d been back from New York for about 90 minutes. But the point remains: No Storm #4.
The silver lining is that, instead of a 90-second video review, you now get a significantly longer written review of Storm #4–and on Thursday, we’ll be posting a bonus mid-week minisode featuring a con-floor interview with Greg Pak about Storm, Yukio, and more.
So, without further ado: Storm #4!
Like most of the last few weeks’ worth of X-books, this is a Death of Wolverine tie-in, and it’s one of the better ones. At this point in the series, Storm and Wolverine had been lovers for a while, but even without that note, it’s a really terrifically Storm beat, hitting that balance between tranquil control and raw emotionality that’s always been a hallmark of the character done right.
The rough (low-spoiler) premise of this particular story is that Storm intercepts a message from Yukio, about something Logan was supposed to help her with, and goes in his stead. It’s a good idea, one that echoes their early dynamic–Storm again unmoored, Yukio left suddenly in the lurch by Logan. And, again, the parts of the story staged around Logan’s absence are awesome: a lot of very deliberate echoes of Storm and Yukio’s first meeting, and emotional beats that hit and stick.
Less so, the second half of the issue. Recall: this is a series that is all about returning to significant players and stages in Storm’s history, and this particular issue–this arc, from the look of it–hearkens back to one of the weakest, a four-issue 2004 X-Treme X-Men story called “Storm: The Arena.” So far, writer Greg Pak has done a great job addressing and reworking some of the rougher pieces of Storm’s past–that’s something we talk about at some length in the interview that’ll be going up tomorrow. This, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.
Now, I am clearly biased: my Yukio Feelings are emphatic and well documented, and my expectations for both the character in general and her appearance in this book in particular are perhaps unrealistically high. And for the first few pages we see her on–when it’s just her and Storm–she’s on point.
The problem is that I don’t entirely buy the way Pak is using her in the larger story. Maybe this is a more cynical Yukio; maybe there are upcoming windows into her journey from the version I recognize to the one we’re seeing here. But for now, she rings hollow: a means to propel a storyline that it itself a somewhat forced reminder of an arc I’d honestly just as soon forget.
I’m staying optimistic: Pak’s a smart, nuanced writer, and this isn’t a bad story–it’s just fallen short of my–again, probably inflated–expectations. And the first half of the issue is good enough to leave plenty of room for the second half to still be reasonably strong while falling significantly short of what comes before.
But that’s the story–let’s talk about art! Series artist Victor Ibañez–notably absent from #3–is back on the book, and Miles and I are both really excited about that. He’s a terrific artist, but, more, his Storm is one of the best versions of the character we’ve seen.
There’s a tendency in comics–superhero comics in particular–for artists to make female characters pretty instead of interesting. That’s not to say a character can’t be both–but there are serious limits to what you can do with facial expressions and body language if you’re not willing to let women look anything other than model-perfect; on top of which the adherence to specific and narrow cultural standards for beauty have contributed to the significant problem of whitewashing in superhero books.
Ibañez’s Storm is beautiful, but above that, she’s expressive. Distinctive. Her face–and this is a tremendous and frustrating rarity for Storm–isn’t anglicized. Her anger and anguish and joy are raw and believable. Her face and body are narrative. Ibañez is a strong if not particularly standout artist in other areas–layouts, action–but his character art? This is our Storm.
For more on Storm–and Storm–tune in Thursday, when we’ll be posting a bonus midweek minisode: a NYCC floor interview with Storm writer Greg Pak!