Friday, December 30, 2011

Women in Comics

In January IDW is releasing a special anthology of Women in Comics. Thanks to Bleeding Cool for the heads up.

That's not all though. As the article states, Diamond is pushing all kinds of women creators/artists and more at the same time for January.

Women write about comics is a special blog crossover that will be highlighting all sorts of issues about women in comics and sexism. (KP will not currently be taking part, but strongly endorse it nonetheless.)

The Guardian in the UK has also got an article up focusing on women in comics. It's about an upcoming experimental book that has an all male cast of writers but an all female cast of artists. The book is called Bayou Arcana.

Preview: X-23 v3 Issue 20 and Avengers Academy Issue 24

CBR has the previews up for comics being released on January 4th 2012.

The comics for X-23 that week will be her ongoing's issue 20, and Avengers Academy issue 24.

So be sure to pick them up when they hit stands next Wednesday the 4th of January.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Update: Venom Valentines Cards!

Bleeding Cool has the scoop on the Venom Valentines cards coming with Circle of Four.

Be sure to check them out.

Now I'm off to more family obligations. "Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

Friday, December 23, 2011

X-23 Ongoing TPB Volume 2 & 3

While perusing the general nightly news, I ran across this over at Bleeding Cool. In May 2012, Marvel will be releasing Volume 3 of the premiere hardcover collection of the X-23 comic. This will be the fantastic Misadventures in Babysitting arc(Issues 17-19), and will also include issues 20 and 22. Wait? Issue 22? Isn't issue 21 supposed to be the last X-23 issue? Are they bumping it up for the Circle of Four storyline or because of the previous oneshot? Is this just a typo? Could this be a future marketing plan placement to prep for an oversized issue 23 farther down the line?
Listed on page 22.

June of 2012 will also see the release of the Circle of Four Premiere Hardcover collecting the entire Circle of Four Venom event plus the build up to it. It's on page 76.

July of 2012 will see the release of the Volume 2 TPB for X-23's ongoing. This will include issues 10-16 of the v3 comic. (No date listed for the premiere hardcover edition, but that might be outside the dates listed for this!) It's on page 102.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recap: X-23 v3 Issue 19

This issue had quite a satisfying conclusion to the Misadventures in Babysitting arc.

In the end, it dives headfirst into showing us how much Laura has grown. I'm not sure there's anything I'd want to say about it because it might ruin just how amazingly well done this story is, and how very real it feels about intercharacter relations. It fits Julian perfectly, and it evokes a sense of reality that's sadly far too common with his ending barb. For the last X-23 story of 2011, Marjorie Liu and company gave us a great one that will be long remembered.

I will say one thing instead. The ending guest cameo has got me all giddy for next month.

That's right. Jubilee and X-23 are going to take the big apple by storm! Be sure to pick it up next month!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Comics, Male Privilege, and Heddies that don't fit!

Picture by Inugami Mokekiyo.

Kotaku has an interesting piece up that talks about this in all geek culture associated. From video games to comics they cover the bases pretty well.

I've been trying to wrack my brain about what else I would add to it, but nothing really comes to mind other than the above picture I wanted to use for irony's sake.
I will say it is true that geek guys are harmed by the stereotypes perpetuated, but as the article states it's nowhere near as bad as women get it.

I had an anecdote I wanted to tell about how a girl I dissmissed as out of my league (as in I was below her standards) led to me missing a chance with her, and when talking to her later she berated me for being so dumb as to not try. She thought I wasn't interested when I was. This is something I almost repeated again last year with a different girl, but thankfully that 'connecting random moment' made her speak up when we met a second time unexpectedly. That's not common, so don't ever expect it to be. In using these stories though, it shows a mild bias of my own for my side being superficial because of how hot I rated them immediately without knowing them, and how I automatically assumed geeks aren't allowed girls like that. That's a common example of the mentalities the world drives into geek guys. After experiencing this from the world though, we turn around and treat women much the same as we hated being treated. That's when we turn from victims to bullies and hypocrites.

The simple fact of the matter is, we males tend to think based on looks alone. We weight validity of existence based on aesthetics.  We throw hissy fits when "our superior moves are dissmissed because she's dating someone of a lesser pedigree than us." For the most part though, many women don't see the world like that no matter what we see them as. Many guys continue on complaining about how lonely they are, but when a girl makes a move to alleviate that, we dissmiss them because we want a 'hot' girl by whatever standards we dream up as ideal for recognition. Denying ourselves the chance to get to know someone that could be everything we were looking for. The shallowness and hypocrisy is rampant, and yet many women don't look at the world like that at all.

In every girl I've dated, I've heard the same thing over and over. It was some random moment that created the attraction or broke the attraction. It never had anything to do with superficiality at all. It's always the simple things like holding a door open for an elderly person, or whatever random oddity committed or joke said that caught their attention. Most recently accidentally getting lost in her deep blue eyes but not hitting on her which made her curious about me like a puzzle to solve. Again, not common but just an example of how random it can be.  I hate cameras because of my own self-image issues, but that doesn't mean that women see me the way that I see myself.

That's not to say you should stalk the girl until you get that one random moment. They'll notice that immediately as a turn off akin to 'puppy-syndrome.' As in you follow them around and are at their beck and call like a lost little puppy yearning for their attention. Confidence is key of course. So just be the best you that you can be. Put your best foot forward everyday and you may just be surprised with the results.  Then again, I've learned not to agree with the mind games places claim to use on girls to manipulate them into liking you.  I've learned that even the friendzone can grow into more over time if you are genuine and not just in it for "your turn in line."  Those have been some of the deepest connections I've made and they have stayed lifelong friends even when the relationship didn't work.  So over all else I will always say you should just be you and never pretend to be more than or less than you are.  Be genuine, honest, and earnest as much as you would like in return as you get to know a person.  An immediate overabundance can scare you, so why would you do that to them?  Let it be gradual but never fake.  Let it be real.

Don't fret over what doesn't work, don't try to force it, and don't belittle anyone for spurning you. Just move on. Above all else, don't close yourself off to possibilities based on the same reasonings that you profess to hate.  The times I've opened myself up to these still beautiful women, are some of the times I've outright fallen in love by knowing who they are inside and out.  Though it didn't work out, they are some of my most cherished memories.  I've learned my lessons from being with them and applied those lessons to my life to grow as a person.  This is where many get stuck.  We focus so heavily on wanting to fix our mistakes of the past, we forget to learn from them and move on.  We remain withdrawn inside introversion so deep we forget to live.

I've gone on a minor diatribe before about the nature of self, but I also didn't quite encapsulate that argument as well as I should have. You aren't always what people think you are, just as you aren't always what you think you are. You can just be you. The easiest thing to remember is outright 'how would I feel if someone said or did what I'm saying or doing but aimed at me?'

The nature of self is a hard road to define in a world that is filled with conceitedness, arrogance, as well as hate, and personal attacks from the distaste of hearing the truth spoken or of differing opinions. The world loves to hit a nail that stands above the rest, but without those nails we also wouldn't have the massive strides in civil rights that we have now. It's a fine line of standing up for what's right, and rationalizing our decisions for the sake of our wounded pride. Learn the lessons and move on instead of dwelling on it.  Pick your battles wisely so as to not besmirch your name for times unneeded, and yet also sometimes it's the small battles that must be won before they are accepted and become larger.

It's a complicated issue to dive into and explain between protecting yourself from those that willingly want to cause you pain for fun or for standing up, and those trying to help you to grow. Whether you're male or female it can be hard. I will admit outright within geek culture it seems much harder for women as it's not just the outside world but also what was to be their haven attacking them.

Take a look at X-23's comic in particular. It's a comic that has pushed hard to not treat X-23 as a sex object, using art that depicts her as more like an everyday girl with a dark past she doesn't like reflecting on, but often can't help it as either gender can relate in having just lived life. The artwork itself has had an amazing shift back and forth to demonstrate this with the soft tones of Takeda and the harsher life is dark and light type shadow play that Noto does wonderfully per each story told and the details.

It's genuinely a comic with a multitude of ambitions and creativity within it that strives hard for having it's own unique voice as much as the writer lets Laura define her own voice by memory reflection, words, and actions. Yet at the end of the day, no matter how intelligently it's been handled, the sales reflect male audiences at large don't want something deep, yet there was a steady beat of sales and upswings that showed momentum building to rebound back upwards(though still selling far below where it should be, but enough that it would be profitable, possibly even a higher count of female readers than male). This is a reflection on audiences as a whole, and the mentalities of geek culture as seen in this piece by Kotaku than I'd like to admit, but it's true. It further degrades in any place you look online within geek mentalities. Simply look up the trailer for Haywire(more on this movie soon!) on youtube and you'll be bombarded with macho male bravado and other types of sexism galore alongside fantasy thinking that's never based in reality but solely their pride and manhood. Women belong in the kitchen not as action stars or so they claim. With X-23's comic, you'll see random comments like people counting how many times Gambit touched her inappropriately(like there were any to begin with!), or other more lewd remarks about it and complaints about her not being drawn sexily enough. We geeks clamor for intelligence in our books, but then berate it when such a provocative nature comes up that hits home we don't want to admit. Especially if it questions our own perception of characters we've become accustomed to seeing as an object for our visual pleasure.  This was a small battle we should have won.  Instead now it's leading to a larger battle or outright dissmissal of cleverly done nuanced with subtlety solo female ongoings as marketable.

It's much the same from Marvel's boys club sadly. Axel Alonso himself praises everything X-23 has done, but then turns around and belittles the creative integrity and artistic direction by perpetuating it's just not selling(though really, if he had said anything I'm saying here, how many geeks would overreact to the truth?). It makes me wonder if he sees why it's such a beloved comic among fans. (Maybe he does or doesn't, public relations denies that being voiced... While other editors feel free to belittle fans anyway...)  Other creatives at Marvel (Gage of AA fame in particular) have gone on record taking more tact about it to not be so dissmissive of the potential within, claiming time to reassess the direction the character needs to go in. This sounds plausible considering there's a lot within the ongoing that needs to be examined for where to take the character next, including what's coming in Circle of Four as well as Avengers Academy. There's a lot to tread over and look up and points to examine that have been covered. So much so that sometimes I even feel overwhelmed with having here at all. There's so much still to cover, bits I've barely even scratched the surface of. Philisophical debates that need way more research than I have time for that it can be maddening.

Maybe geeks have grown so accustomed to the way things are, we forget to look deeper and see what we're missing in all walks of life. We forget to see how we're treating those around us while we complain about how our lives have gone or parade around in how superior we feel over others with unwarranted gusto. Maybe it's time we stopped complaining or attacking, and started fixing how we can be the best of who we are without relying on belittlement and personal attacks to make us feel superior.  Maybe it's time we stopped accepting this behaviour from all walks of life whether it be the irate fan, or say an editor at Marvel like Steve Wacker.  These are the types of people you should ignore for good reason as not worth your time since they can't show you respect and only know how to be confrontational.

Maybe we shouldn't become the bullies we claim to loathe and instead should return to the meritocracy roots our fandom was founded on.  A fandom based on the validity of your points, and not based on how confrontational you can be, or the double speak you may hide behind to fool people.  No amount of status or privilege gives you the right to treat another as less than how you would want to be treated.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Venom: Circle of Four Valentines Cards!

Marvel has an interesting and clever promotion coming up in February with Venom's Circle of Four storyline.

According to Bleeding Cool they'll be giving out Venom valentines with order amounts exceeding the orders of Carnage USA #1.

No word yet on what they'll look like, but I'm hoping they pull out all the stops and give us some for all 4 of the characters in this storyline. It'd definitely save me some time on card shopping.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Preview: X-23 v3 Issue 19

CBR has the preview up for issue 19. It hits stands Decemeber 21st.

This is part 3 of Misadventures in Babysitting. Count me excited to get my hands on this issue for what's looking like one of the best X-23 stories. X-23 is ending 2011 with a bang and it could leave you breathless!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Few Random Thoughts On Avengers Academy Issue 23

Well, there were a few points I wanted to talk about from this issue. This issue highlights some great future potential, and has some interesting character potential. So let's quit with the jabberjawing and get right down to it.

1.) X-23 does not need training.

Within the first 3 pages we're shown X-23 doesn't need any training. She's here because she needs the social interactions with peers her age. It also shows in many regards with her interactions to fellow students she's going to be a borderline counselor/teacher's assistant/tutor which could prove very interesting.

2.) X-23 and Finesse both needing help dealing with emotions.

This is something I can't wait to see explored. These two are quite an interesting pair and together it could be quite explosive once Finessse's competitive nature starts to kick in. There's a lot of potential between these two to be good friends, or have a friendly rivalry that become onesided as X-23 doesn't see the world like that enough to notice one. It could humanize Finesse though over time.

3.) Striker and Lightspeed's heart to heart talk.

I've said before this makes sense with his history and search for fame, but it also dances softly on the old standard of what parents blamed for their kids 'turning gay.' It's interesting here to see how Gage handles it, diving into it's not the past that caused it but the past that makes it harder to cope with. I do wish writers would stop using this repetitive stereotype, but the reason it is a stereotype is because it has happened a lot to many kids all over the world. Though I do kind of wish a writer would have the balls to dive into a scenario that's less clear cut and dry. Like say maybe a boy that was molested by a girl the same age as him, and what that does to a youth because he can never speak about it and the rammifications that happen because of that from the world's slanted perspective. Overall it was handled very tastefully though. I just wish they pushed a little bit more on the edge of it's not just those with sexual identity issues that don't like labels, or even how ignorant teenagers can be trying to force someone to come out of the closet that never was homosexual. Lot's of schoolyard bullying and sexual harassment happens towards both straight and LGBT alike whether they are or aren't. It's sickening and sad, but it happens. Personally, it's annoying to me to see the bullies who called someone out for superficial stupid reasons be right, since that's rarely the case(though in this case it's the natural evolution of the character in questions other appearances). It does happen though. I do commend the point it brings up about how even some people have their own bigotry towards bisexuals. It's a great point to have brought up. I look forward to seeing how Lightspeed develops as a character, and I'm glad it brought up the point about personalities over gender. Striker gets no sympathies from me as I tend to view characters and people alike should overcome what happened to them to be better people than their attacker, but he's slowly starting to redeem his past in his actions. Instead, Hazmat is quickly becoming the member of the team I have the strongest distaste for.

4.) Future Finesse suffering from memory loss.

This is something brought up before when she faced off with Taskmaster. Sooner or later Finesse will have so many fighting styles and weapons knowledge because of her power it'll start overwriting all her other memories. Even the memories of her own family or loved ones.

5.) Future Reptil focusing on changing the future.

Is he the only one that's traveled back to change or push a timeline? Are there more pieces falling into place about this in other comics like X-23's ongoing? This could prove interesting. Only time will tell, but it seems like the master of chess that is X-23 will be going against someone that knows all her moves from seeing them in the past when she made them. It also raises that same question of will we see that mystery woman again.

6.) X-23 is free to come and go as she pleases.

This goes back to what I was saying before about her feeling more like a student teacher. She has more freedom than the other students, and seems to have earned the faculties respect already. I'm curious how future issues will play out in this regard, especially when Captain America shows up with those two having history. Her being able to freely come and go also fits her personality though. X-23 has always had a small tendency to run away as it seems, feeling she's better off alone when she starts to feel emotions or attachments. The team is too new to her as yet, but this could be an interesting future note as she learns to care about her fellow students. Especially since Gambit, Jubilee, among others have seemingly temporarily broken her of this habit. They've made her stay and shown her that feeling good isn't bad, and that she deserves to be happy and have fun without fear or running away from it. It also prevents her from feeling like she's trapped and the faculty trusts her. She may not realize what that means yet, but it could be interesting how that plays out on a subconcious level.

7.) X-23 likes to read?

Before X-23 and Mettle have a talk about killing and the rammifications(the entire counselor bit I mentioned before), X-23 is shown reading in a tree. Reading is one of the great escapisms of the world to new lands and lives, but it also reflects Laura's education and pedigree too. The book she's reading is never given a title, but it's an interesting point nonetheless.

Recap: Avengers Academy Issue 23

So Avengers Academy issue 23 hit stands today. I'm sure one burning question is left in the minds of all X-23 fans. Is she handled well in it?

The answer? Yes, yes she is.

I'll admit I was on the fence when it was announced. I just couldn't see how it would work with everything they were saying about the whys, and after previous writers like Claremont that apparently had no clue what to do with the character, I was worried about the writers here. I must say within the very first 2 pages they quelled every fear I had. I'm not only okay with her on the team, I'm excited for it! Not only have they covered her training, they dive into her past on the surface level, and make refences to current X-comic issues. They point out her education, training, and more.

Well, I guess I should bring you up to speed a bit. I've been a fan of Avengers Academy since it started. I was just a bit worried about how they may handle X-23. That being said, this issue brought a lot up and may even contribute to the stories from the ongoing. With the AA cast facing off against their future selves soon, it may harken back to the mystery woman we saw before in X-23's comic that could be Laura from the future.

There are some minor character aspects of the AA team I'm not too enthused about. (The actual team, not the writing team. Gage has proven himself a more than capable writer in all his works.) I'm glad to see them covering many aspects about identity and avoidance of labels, but I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the tropes used to do so. It fits, and yet it also feels slightly forced and public service announcement like. It'll need more issues to blossom into anything for me to make a clear opinion on it. Hazmat's insecurities are an aspect that also make sense but she's a character I'm slowly starting to hate with how she lashes out blindly at others while in an emotional haze. Though I think personally it's because she reminds of a girl I once knew that acted much the same. This girl for me is a darker part of my past that makes me look back and wonder why I dated her. She was so afraid of being judged, yet was also the most judgemental girl I ever knew. This bodes well for the writing team, as generally speaking only the best writers can take something so steeped in fantasy and make it real to the point it reminds you of your own life experiences.

Overall, the X-23 parts of the issue were a great treat. I'll have a follow up post about this soon as with her new team, I'd like to handle these issues differently than I have the X-23 ongoing. This will be the only recap on an AA comic as that's going to be an X-23 solo title thing only.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

March 2012 Solicits

The final issue of X-23 hits stands that month. It'll be a slightly oversized issue reaching 32 pages for $2.99. While I still feel it's a wasted oppurtunity when so close to issue 23 to end it on, at least they've given it a slightly bigger page count to go out on a bang. Though the smart "Marvel" marketing way would have been to dual release it that month, with issue 21 being the oversized finale of the run then pull the Marvel renumbering stunt to include the oneshot so they could have an oversized issue 23 for that month too. That way with an issue 23 celebrating the character they could amp the audience up and generate more buzz with the character that can carry over to Avengers Academy.

While they aren't letting the character reach that better marketing strategy, they are giving her a fitting sendoff for this run as March will mark a solid 2 years of Marjorie Liu issues. It may not be an issue 23, but it still is a cornerstone that's nice to see them accidentally acknowledge.

X-23 #21
WRITER: Marjorie Liu
ARTIST: Phil Noto
Cover By Kalman Andrasofsky
Series Finale!
• X-23’S Globehopping Journey Comes To A Close
• After All This Time Spent Choosing Who She Will Be, Will She Permanently Choose A Team As Well?
32 Pgs./Parental Advisory $2.99

Monday, December 12, 2011

November 2011 Sales Rank

Last month we have two X-23 issues to check for. The numbers show a minor decline over October, but still beating strong with a steady audience. X-23's comic is also still well above Daken's comic and also topples her father's side ongoing "Wolverine: Best There is." Showing once again her solo title can bring more to the table than additional Wolverine titles outside of his main book.

X-23 v3 #17
Cover Price: $2.99
This issue was ranked 98 out of 300 according to ICv2 which is based on Diamond U.S. to comic specialty stores. The issue has sold an estimated 22,780 copies to them.

X-23 v3 #16
Cover Price: $2.99
This issue was ranked 100 out of 300 according to ICv2 which is based on Diamond U.S. to comic specialty stores. The issue has sold an estimated 22,737 copies to them.

Disclaimer: These numbers do not factor in digital, foreign sales, subscriptions, or any other avenue of release her title may have.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Preview: Avengers Academy Issue 23

The Avengers Academy issue where X-23 joins the team hits shelves December 14th. CBR has the preview up.

If these two pages are any indication, just holy crap. This is going to be beyond amazing. They nailed it so far. Pointing out her training over animalistic behaviour and outright admitting the class could learn from her. All around I'm impressed and extremely happy (for now at least, can't speak for future usages) that X-23 is being handled so well. While I will miss the ongoing for the more humanized voice it gave Laura on her path to learning what being a real girl in the Marvel universe is like, this looks like we could see some great interactions among fellow heroes her age.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recap: X-23 v3 Issue 18

X-23's Misadventures in Babysitting continues in this issue. Part 2 to be precise.

This issue is written by Marjorie Liu with art by Sana Takeda, and I must say it's quite a delight to read. I think so far my only complaint about this 3 part story is that the issues end when I wish they never would.

This issue in particular reflects how understanding and patient X-23 is towards Julian. His actions that would normally tire the average girl out and push them away, Laura just takes in stride with understanding he's still coping with his own issues and clinginess. She takes the time to express her own thoughts, and clearly state what her choice is in the Schism aftermath. That choice being a neither side choice. Julian further pushes the point and letting his jealousy rear his head about Gambit too.

Overall this issue reflects entirely what a great X-23 story can be. We're given subtle nuances to her training and how she takes in her surroundings, her calm demeanor in handling situations or stressful people, and touching moments where sometimes old feelings of love can take over. Even with the rampant scifi and cosmic level story-telling we're left with an issue that's easy to relate to for both boys and girls(a tangent I'm going to have to avoid, sorry folks!). It dives deep into the complications of what boys act like when unhinged by insecurities, and it reflects a kind X-23 who understands more about how people act and their whys than we've previously seen hinted at in her other comic appearances. Like much of the run, the comic continually nods her past appearances. In this instance doing so in a more forward less symbolic type fashion when Julian makes reference to the Academy X days of their adventures. It's done in a manner rather fluidly, but also harkens back to a kind of role reversal from previously where Julian seemed to be the one in control and taking lead to keep X-23 in check from killing. Now X-23 has to do the same for him instead even though his actions are annoying her, and in many ways pushing her away, the feelings they share are hard to forget. Julian is both infuriating, and yet where her heart is even if she's not happy wiht his actions. Stuff that reflects real life quite well, but sadly things like that never end well, no matter how understanding the other person can be. It's just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off as foreshadowed in the previous issue's opening.

Overall, this issue is just a magnificent piece, and I look forward to the next. It continually makes me wonder why this comic is being canceled when weeks like this approach and it being the biggest highlight to read from all the comics on shelves.

If you want an amazing story to read, these past two issues and the next should be on your must buy pile. On the surface it's a fun action and comedic romp in babysitting and under the surface it's a commentary on relationships, emotions, how hard it is to speak when your feelings are in the way, and what it's like for those who are used to being alone when they get those feelings.

This comic itself makes me wish they'd grant Marjorie Liu a second chance on this title to stick around or a relaunch with the Sana Takeda artwork presented here. I have nothing against Noto, but the soft artwork with the emotional nature of the topic truly shines as a must read. Noto's darker sides of the art with the stories are interesting and have provided much to the comic, and whether it's just because of the story of the issues or the subject matter, the Sana Takeda side packs more of the down to earth punch that I really enjoy about the comic. They both work in unison to create a fantastic intelligent read, but as I said, I tend to favor the soft glow of the Takeda side of the issues.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CBR Interviews Remender About Circle Of Four

The new 6 part event "Circle of Four" that'll be running in the Venom ongoing helmed by Rick Remender costars X-23. CBR takes a moment to speak with Rick Remender about his comics and this upcoming event.

I'm looking forward to this event personally. Remender has shown he truly gets the characters and their depth with how he's penned Uncanny X-Force and Venom. So I'm almost absolutely sure Circle of Four will be a delight to read.

The article goes more indepth on why Uncanny X-Force works so well (and why Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force not penned by him missed the mark), but it also helps paint a picture of exactly why all of Remender's comics are so amazing and what to look forward to in the coming months and next year. The interview continues on to explain why even X-23 fans should look forward to this and quickly skims over why it's a shame her ongoing won't be around after issue 21.

With so many pieces like this in the puzzle coming forward, it helps set the stage for hopefully more fans wanting another X-23 ongoing to deal with any outlying plot threads. That is assuming at least they don't mishandle the character and her history, but I have faith that Remender will use his normal delicate touch to keep everything relevant like Liu managed to do during her run.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

X-23 Ranks 36th on CSBG's Top 200 Character List

Well, really it's a top 100 for Marvel, and top 100 for DC with a combined 200 count.  That being said, X-23 ranked 36th on the Marvel list.  Pretty high for a relatively new character that's only a little over 8 years old (she'll be celebrating her 9th year in 2012, and tenth year in 2013).

She beat many mainstays too in the final vote, from Black Panther, to the Human Torch(Johnny Storm), Invisible Woman(Sue Richards), Hank Pym, Black Widow, Vision and even the god of mischief himself Loki.  She also beat fellow X-alumni Psylocke, Colossus, Cable, and Iceman.  Her half-brother Daken is non-existant on the list as yet(update: he's listed at 91), so she beat him too by a wide margin. Laura's vote count gave her 470 points with 12 first place votes from the fan's company top 10 list each reader submitted for the poll.

When comparing her final vote tally's points to the DC side, she beat such DC mainstays as Lois Lane, Supergirl, Beast Boy, Donna Troy, Animal Man, and anyone else listed at 38th place or above.  Sinestro creeps in at 475 to beat X-23 by a measly 5 points with only 2 first place votes.

If you're curious who else she beat on the CBR blog Comics Should Be Good's poll, head on over to the CSBG entry.

Marvel's February 2012 Solicits

X-23 will be appearing in the Venom event "Circle Of Four" this month. No mention of her in Avengers Academy's solicits either. So this might be her only comic appearances this month.

Venom Issues 13, 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, & 13.4

  • Hell is spreading across the Earth from out of Las Vegas.
  • Ghost Rider is responsible but what price is she willing to pay to save mankind?!
  • X-23, Venom, & Hulk must defeat their worst enemies, buying Ghost Rider time to stop hell's march across the globe!
  • As a clone, X-23 has often wondered if she has a soul. This is where she gets her answer!
  • Who is Ichor and why has he targeted Venom for Death?!

So far it's sounding promising besides the obvious answer on the soul or not, but I might be personally biased since my views lean to anything that is alive has a soul(besides the fact X-23 isn't exactly a true 'clone' as insinuated by her minis and the ongoing).  With hell actually rising this time, maybe my previous theory of Laura facing her mother will happen(not that I think Dr. Sarah Kinney would go to hell, but she does come across as the type of person that would condemn herself to it even if she did potentially redeem herself at the end of the origin mini). I hope the deviation from Avengers Academy is only a brief one with the final X-23 ongoing issue following in March.  While I'm not enthused about her addition to Avengers Academy, it does make sense on a therapeutic level to help her learn social interactions with her peers in a safe environment that's not hindered by pre-conceptions or judgements...  Well even if Hazmat can be a bit nasty with subtle homophobic tendencies.  (See issue 22 and her demeaning of Lightspeed in the midst of being angry at the adults...  If it doesn't matter, why bring it up at all?  Emphasizing the stereotypes to push the point no less.  The same as any bully tries to impose what you're supposed to be by what they think is true.  Not a comment on the writers though, they are just expanding the character personas to be more real during a moment of duress which typically would reveal such nuances to one's persona. A raw moment is prone to no thinking of what's being said, just being reactionary.) It could be quite interesting to see how Finesse and X-23 get along with both being so well trained with chess like pinpoint precision to their individual strategies. X-23's rather wide range of training and vast education does seem to put her at an advantage in the Academy over the others.

Daken, the half-brother of X-23, has his issue 21 listed for February. It'll be doing yet another Daken vs Daddy story as opposed to the man Daken actually hates more than anyone in the Marvel Universe, and his story has been building up to... The Winter Soldier, Bucky. Go figure. You'd think they'd at least let him go out on a high note like that instead of a low note with yet another Wolverine and Daken story.

Will keep you posted on X-23's Avengers Academy appearances as more comes to light in following months.  Maybe there's a light breaking at the end of this tunnel for something else like a mini or a new ongoing or other book she might end up in.  Personally if it's not a new ongoing or a mini, I'm hoping she's being added to the FF once the alternate uni Reeds story is over.  It could be pretty fun to see her in a nanny capacity once the Fantastic 4 come back if the recent Misadventures in Babysitting story is any indication.  Hopefully she's not being relegated to the background again of Marvel nothingness like Darkhawk and many other Marvel characters have been in recent times.  (Though Defenders could be interesting too if that's where she ends up, but I'd prefer they take another stab at an ongoing altogether now that the character is in a more stable place mentally.)

Further spinning the rumor mill of Marvel reassessing how to handle the character, Christos Gage of Avengers Academy brought up a valid theory. He speculates it might be because they are trying to think of a new strategy for X-23. This sounds pretty likely considering everything the character represents and her current high ranking on the the top 100 list of Marvel characters at CBR's CSBG. So keep your fingers crossed for good news in the coming months!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Preview: X-23 v3 Issue 18

CBR has the preview for issue 18 up now. This is the 2nd part of X-23's Misadventures in Babysitting!

Be sure to pick up your copy next Wednesday, December 7th. Tell your friends too as well. Help send a message to Marvel this character is loved and deserves a second chance at a solo later down the line. (Like say a title called 'Exceptional X-23' at a rate that it hits the 23rd issue on October 23rd 2013 that has Craig Kyle on board along with Sana Takeda and Liu among maybe some others that can help bring the best of all worlds out of the character for a better mainstream push...)

While you're there picking up your copy, I highly recommend picking up the first issue of the Defenders. From the preview alone, it looks well worth the read! It's written by Matt Fraction, and has colors done by Sonia Oback, who was one of the original artists on the X-23 minis. (Yes Fraction, if you say 23 often enough, I will plug it... Maybe.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Update: X-23 to End with Issue 21

Commentor Healed1337 brought up a valid point about maybe Ghost Rider and X-23 were taking a hiatus in February for the Venom Event. This panned out to be true as we are to get one more issue in March. Sadly, Axel Alonso had come out and said X-23 was still canceled along with Daken, suggesting the books just didn't earn their keep monetarily. (Which is extremely odd looking at the numbers for X-23 with the start of an upswing, might be true for Daken though.)

X-23 has been given one more issue before being canceled. It will end with issue 21 in March, skipping February for the Venom Event. This news comes courtesy of commentor Arvelous finding it on Marjorie Liu's twitter feed.

You can find her responses both here and here. Where she says:

Not news anymore, but I can finally confirm, personally, that X-23 has been cancelled. It's bittersweet. I truly loved writing that book.

Oh, and it won't just be 20 issues, but instead *21* issues of X-23 (we're not shipping in February). @philnoto will be penciling both.

Again, from the bottom of my heart and those here from KP, we'd like to thank Marjorie Liu, Phil Noto, and Sana Takeda, for their time, dedication, and phenominal work. The care they put into the issues truly shows and the book will be greatly missed.

Come March, KP will be doing a follow up entry to commemorate this as well as what'll mark Marjorie Liu's second year as writing X-23, as the one shot released in March 2010 was her very first full issue of writing the character. The timing of this final issue brings us full circle in a fitting manner rather than just abruptly after January as it seemed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Marvel Cancels Daken

Okay, I can't say I blame them on this one. The title has been pretty directionless since Liu and Way have left. It's even ignoring the main story fans want. That being the story of Bucky and Daken facing off finally over Daken's mother's death. You know, the real person Daken hates more than even Wolverine.

This news comes via CBR again.

Marvels new EIC has said:

It's always disappointing when a title comes to an end. I'll bet everyone reading this column still mourns the death of a title or two they loved -- and wonder why the book didn't stick. And I guarantee you that as frustrated as a fan might be, there's a writer, artist and an editor who are even more disappointed. That's just the way things go sometimes. The market won't support it.

That said, I'm proud of X-23's run. Two successful limited series and an ongoing series ain't bad. Ditto for Daken [who is also ending his series.] From a supporting role in "Wolverine: Origins” to the lead of ongoing series that included him slicing Frank Castle to bits -- enter Franken-Castle. Both were characters that gained traction in a market that, well, doesn't really have a great track record of supporting new stuff. And both characters anchored legitimate monthly titles. We don't do R&D at Marvel. We'll stick by a title for a while -- like we did with "Spider-Girl" -- but there comes a point where that title has to earn, usually sooner than later.

There's also a lot of other double speak and market speak in there that's hiding some facts like why keep books that are underperforming compared to the ones axed. Shouldn't those be axed first? Or how about why introduce a new ongoing for a character that's literally just Spider-man who isn't afraid to kill that the scarlet spider/Kaine is at a time that readership is low? That is formulaic right there. Hmm Uncanny X-Force sells, let's try it with Spider-man! One of our cornerstone franchises! (To be fair, Uncanny X-Force turned out amazing, so maybe it is worth a shot.)

Another question not asked, why cancel a title that's starting to earn when numbers are rebounding back upwards? That seems to have been avoided. The numbers show X-23's title was just starting an upswing while other titles continually sell lower and still stick around. Something smells fishy with these responses. It reads like a publicity piece on saying "hey we tried at least" when really the numbers reflect that's not the case. It's another bit of bait and switch or scapegoats to avoid the real questions and genuine answers.

He continues on bemoaning formulas, yet that's also exactly what Marvel is doing with the events that are causing event fatigue to the fans and derailing many books to keep them from getting traction. These answers just don't add up compared to what they are doing. It's a big instance of look at what I'm saying not what I'm doing. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Marvel Cancels Ghost Rider

After the news broke earlier this week that X-23 was canceled after issue 20 leaving Ghost Rider as the only female solo title(though not really since Johnny Blaze is still co-starring in it), news is breaking today that Ghost Rider is canceled.

CBR is reporting that Marvel has just axed what was the last female solo title they had.

At the rate titles are getting cut, one can only wonder how much longer Daken, Avengers Academy, and any other title that was selling below X-23 and Ghost Rider's numbers may last. This leaves Marvel with officially no female solo titles at all.

Recap: X-23 v3 Issue 17

This issue, just wow. It left me speechless. It made me fist pump with how awesome it was. Okay that's a lie. My arm shot up and did the rock on hand gesture. Which was really awkward to do with how I was sitting when reading this, but it happened pure instinctually with how awesome the issue was. That was before hitting the halfway point of the issue. For the record, no Marvel comic has ever made me do that before. The only other thing that has was the tv show Supernatural during Castiel's rampage as God against what was an allusion to the Westboro Baptist Church. Yes, this issue was just that epic but done in a more subtle and thought provoking way.

It was everything an X-23 comic should be. It had plenty of action, fantastic artwork, and a story that uses human nature to a degree other comics only dream of.

It started off with Julian, aka Hellion, being the focus. He was written in such a manner that it pushes the boundaries of sympathy or just self-centered prick. He was written entirely true to the character but diving into truths a male writer would fear to tread. He evoked the arrogance, the pain, and the entire lost nature of a boy dealing with emotions alongside accidental transference that reveals elements of his deeper rooted nature. Most male writers would hate to admit this in any fashion, but Julian is being used in a way that perfectly symbolizes how many guys act towards women and symbolizes perfectly what the problems to acting like that are. It's something that I'm sure a female writer and reader alike can identify with from putting up with it themselves from guys. Hell, I see it all the time in just how the boyfriends of girls I know act and it sickens me, especially how they then turn around and act like they did nothing and convince them it's perfectly acceptable behaviour for what she did? WTF!?! No it's NOT! A man DOES NOT act that way period! It's something I never thought any writer ever would tread towards but am extremely glad this issue did. This is something that deserves its own entry to go on a tangent about because it's such a common issue among how men act and why they drive away those they claim to care about with these borderline obsessive, stalkerish, emotionally unstable, clingy, and threatening behaviours followed by being apologetic when it's just bound to happen again. (Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to dedicate an entire blog entry to this at some point! Mucho gracias Ms. Liu for the soap box excuse! This includes a side tangent about verbal abuse and how it more often than not leads to physical abuse. Something Hellion has symbolized for god knows how long with how he treats others and yet tries to play the "I'm a good guy" card to hide behind.) If Hellion's not careful, he just might push Laura away for good to the point she'll need to leave Logan's school.

Gambit came across as the completely badass father figure, to the point I'm not sure it can be quantified on the awesome scale. Marjorie Liu sets a new bar for how awesome Gambit can be with every story.

The rest of the issue is exactly what's missing in comics these days. It's fun, witty, and all around the perfect balance of relatable children cliches to original commentary without getting the overtones or purpose lost within the story it's trying to tell.

Valeria and Franklin provide the perfect elements. Sue Richards provides a completely perfect yet subtle nuance to what Laura experienced a few issues ago as a woman in the city herself. All around this issue is just brimming with subtext, commentary, and more sublime story telling than one would expect from even the best of Marvel these days.

The artwork by Sana Takeda really helps elevate this story to a new standard. The fluid dynamic action, angle usage within the panels, and more all speak to just utter perfection and all around are beyond awesome. The artwork really shows why this title gives artists a chance to try something new and different without a reliance on old tired panel standards. It gives them a means to elevate their artform, and this issue in particular does that perfectly under Sana Takeda's hand. The combination of an overused standard, the ages old fantasy dragon, and the application of these techniques really mesh well to create a sense of wonderment, awe, and what's old is made new again. I know there's a better more succinct term for it in the art world, but it escapes me at the moment. The end result is a fully engrossing page turner that you just want to read over and over, never wanting it to end.

It makes me feel ashamed of liking Marvel knowing that this title is getting the axe. This issue alone symbolizes everything that makes comics great while most of their other comics cause event fatigue and boredom lately. It has a writer that cares and makes sure every issue is the best it can be. A writer who learned from mistakes and pushed on while other comics from Marvel are riddled with errors galore and keep making the same mistakes over and over. The team behind this comic wants to put out the best product they can, to represent Marvel with the kind of dignity the brand deserves, and it shows in work like this issue. This is why it really disheartens me to hear of it being canceled compared to other titles that don't take that kind of initiative or care.

Outright this issue is a must read. If the rest of this arc stays as awesome as this, this might just become my new #1 favorite X-23 story. An issue and story I highly recommend for all to go out and buy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

X-23 v3 Issue 17 - A Must Read!

Just wow.  Okay, I think I've just said "Oh snap," and other more colorful phrases in utter glee and rapid succession too much while reading this.

I'm not sure if I'm going to bother with the one week wait on the recap this time.  There's really no point with this comic allegedly being canceled, but the just holy awesome on a stick of this issue has me too hyped up to do it right now anyway.

Seriously, this is another one of those issues that's just full of amazing stuff.  The discussion with Julian, showing X-23's initial choice in the Schism decision and more all just work beautifully with Sana Takeda's artwork.  This is THE must buy and must read issue of X-23 even if you haven't been collecting it already.  It personifies perfectly why I'm not thrilled with Julian, sentiments perfectly embodied by Gambit in the issue.  The baby sitting adventure itself?  Just epicly perfect.  This issue is a shining example of what this series is capable of, and I'm glad marvel saw fit to let this story finish out.  I haven't been this hyped up and happy about an issue since Jubilee popped up in the Touching Darkness story.  This issue is beyond perfection with action, humor, human interest angles, Laura's personality, perceptions, and bundled with Julian's borderline lost/angry nature it just plays perfectly to elements of the real world without being overabundant and still carrying that note of fun and ease of relatability.  The art by Sana Takeda really shines and pops in this issue alongside amazing angles and action scenes.

Seriously, go buy this issue, tell your friends to as well.  It's more than worth the price and I promise you, you won't regret it!  Even if you're a casual X-Men fan, or only following Wolverine's school, this is an issue you will need and appreciate!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reminder: X-23 v3 Issue 17 Hits Stores Tomorrow!

Laura takes on her most difficult mission to date... Babysitting Valeria and Franklin Richards.  Be sure to pick up your copy tomorrow for what looks to be a fantasticly fun adventure from Marjorie Liu with art by Sana Takeda.  Looking for a good jumping on point for this comic?  This would be the issue for you as it starts X-23's new Misadventures in Babysitting arc!  So be sure to pick up your copy, and if you like it, get your friends to buy copies too!  Help send a message to Marvel that this comic is loved and wanted! 

At the very least they could let the final story arc that's been building run its course to reflect the action and complexity to the story!  It'd be a nice bone to throw the fans that stuck with the comic from the beginning, and those new fans jumping on at different points from just stellar issues like issue 7, the Touching Darkness arc, and this one looks to be.  It's been a slow build, but damn if the payout didn't look like it could have been too awesome for words.

Marvel Cancels X-23?!?

Acccording to CBR, Marvel has canceled the X-23 ongoing.  This leaves them with zero female solo ongoing titles( I don't count Ghost Rider as a solo title, even though a woman is wielding the power right now. It does still co-star Johnny Blaze.), and will leave the building story thread of her series hanging.  Another brilliant move from the house of ideas.  They are citing budgetary reasons, but are keeping titles that have underperformed far worse in comparison to her title.

X-23 will carry on in Avengers Academy and the upcoming Venom arc, but this is a blow to readers everywhere as the upcoming issue 17 in stores tomorrow is a perfect jumping on point for those curious about the title.  You'd think Marvel would have at least waited until issue 23 to give the title a chance to wrap up properly, but what do you expect from the people that bat the character around repeatedly and change the personality of the character on whims without ever including storycentric reasoning until Marjorie Liu was writing her.  Sadly I had anticipated this happening with how they shuffled the character off to a team book that seemed rather like a shoe-horned in addition with how they said they were going to do it.  An odd choice for her considering she had already 'graduated' from a school once, but I had thought they might hold out to let X-23 end on issue 23.  Instead, according to CBR it looks like issue 20 will be her last, which is the same number on her Marvel Universe figure's stand.  Issue 20 being potentially where she deals with Surge's hypocrisy(seriously, they kick her off the New X-Men for killing and then side with those wanting to kill people?  Hypocrite much?), sees Jubilee again, and has to endure further mistreatment by Cyclops who was using her just as the Facility did.  That's not to say Wolverine's school would have been any better of a fit with Hellion there, and the fact she had already graduated once.  Plus there's the fact the character has been better trained and taught than any other character in the Marvel Universe anyway already.  Which will hopefully lead to some fun scenes in Avengers Academy if they've bothered to read up on the history of the character they are about to use.

Here's hoping Avengers Academy uses X-23 well, because other than the Venom arc it will be the only regular fix her fans will be able to get.  As for the dangling plot threads of who the mystery woman was, and what'll happen with the soul mark/uni-power mark?  They will forever remain a mystery.

Chalk this up to another misfire from Marvel, and show them your displeasure by picking up the remaining four issues.  Let X-23 go out with a bang on the top 300 chart!  You can also write to Marvel, and tell how unhappy you are about this rather arbitrary decision that can't be rationalized in comparison to what they've kept.  Like Daken that is losing readers left and right and is performing worse than X-23 did.  This is especially weird as the numbers were on the rise for X-23 while Daken's were falling. 

KP will be covering the X-23 appearances in Avengers Academy, so let us all hope they don't screw the character up.

We would like to give a special thank you to Marjorie Liu for her hard work on this title though, and her work will be missed as she was one of the first writers to take the character forward in the public eye without being vague about the character's origins.  Finally proving to the fandom at large X-23 is more akin to a daughter, and that Sarah Kinney shares some genes with Laura too.

That's not to say the series was perfect.  There were some mis-steps along the way, but also some utterly amazing issues.  The same could be said of Yost/Kyle who had done an amazing job on the minis, and Academy X until they completely unraveled the character and destroyed their own work via X-Force at times.  The solo title lacked action as a whole, but the X-Force title pushed too much glee in destroying the character at times that borderlined on painful to read.  Here's hoping Avengers Academy finds a happy middle ground between the two with their usage.

When the final issue hits, I'll do a follow up entry on this that covers the mistakes and problems from past to present from all the writers.  For now, a moment of silence for another fallen solo female title.

Thanks to afgoosett of Toyark for making me aware of some articles via Comicvine about this.
Marvel Cancels X-23
Should Marvel have Canceled X-23?

Bleeding Cool has also chimed in with their utter displeasure at Marvel for this move.

So yeah Marvel, that's 4 outlets already that are reacting with shock and pissed off about it. Care to rethink it yet?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Preview: X-23 v3 Issue 17

CBR has put up the preview for X-23 v3 issue 17 via Marvel. It will hit shelves next Wednesday the 16th of November.

Be there as X-23 tackles her hardest job yet... Babysitting? Oh but these are no ordinary kids. Their parents are none other than Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman! Good luck Laura! You'll need it dealing with Valeria and Franklin Richards!

A Light within the Darkness

In this past issue of X-23 we were given small signs of what's to come. One phrase specifically stuck out to me. The uni-power sword's "My chosen vessel" remark. It raises questions like "what seperates the sword from the others that have attempted to use X-23" and "does Laura see that fact yet or is her need to hold onto something greater than herself blinding her to this subtle manipulation?"

Personally, I'm leaning towards the fact this seems like a subtle manipulation that'll be built upon. Like others in her past, it seems like this being is attempting to use her for its own desires yet to be revealed. There is a subtle interwoven tone that the remnant within her of the uni-power was the star being that Laura may have misperceived as her own soul being full of stars. A misperception it could have easily preyed upon. There is a fact here that's still carried through to X-23 about her having a soul but done so in a manner the same as a manipulative person would use. It grants and speaks of choice, but pushes the choice it wants in doing so to lead to an outcome it desires.

This power of choice is X-23's true light within the darkness. Her choices and actions are defining who she is, but being full of stars and this true light are potentially two different things. The signs don't point to the stars as being a benevolent starlight, but rather something of a different kind of evil when not held in check. Surely this couldn't be X-23's own light within could it? The character seems to think so, but that's to be expected with the emotional struggles she has been entangled in all her life and her need to find something greater than herself to hold onto.

Of course all of this is dependant upon the mystery woman we saw before, and how she might be the personification of these "stars" in the future. That would assume that in many ways this mystery woman is X-23, or a reformed shard of this power given flesh and life. This means that for this woman to come into being she would have had to set X-23 on this course of action. She would have had to send X-23 to Alex which in turn would have sent her to that demon king for the power to fully manifest. The remnant within her and the woman outside of her are pushing for the same thing but may have different views of the outcome because of their perspectives. The mystery woman being after this potential struggle that gave her life, and the remnant pushing to use X-23 as its vessel for life. This creates an air of causality but with cosmic curveballs. It also starts to fill in why Laura was curious enough to follow the scent to the mystery woman. It was her own scent she recognized.

It shows X-23 she has a light within her, but it also hides itself behind claims of being that light. Laura does have a light within her with the power of choice as she's shown, but these stars and her true light may become at odds to one another in ways that'll bring something new to life that could have the memories of both. This would also nod back to Alice, but without the memory activation by death. It potentially unifies all the information we've been given through the comic.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recap: X-23 v3 Issue 16

Last week I called this issue "whoa" and it really is. There's just so much here it's hard to tell really where to start.

The issue was the wrap up of the Chaos Theory story, and while solicits suggested it was the start of a new arc it seemed to most that it was really the end of the other. Within the subtext of the story it is the start of a new arc, but an arc that's been interwoven throughout since issue 3 of the ongoing. This is the turning point really where it's revealed and the pieces start to fall into place more directly. It is both the end of an arc and a new beginning to her life.

This is the issue where X-23's sword metaphor gets pushed to a literal meaning. She's the "Chosen Vessel" for the uni-power sword. Something I'm sure will come back into play much later. That little phrase will play into the much bigger picture. It may even be connected to who this "Mystery Lady" is. Though here's hoping Marvel doesn't make this as obvious in the foreword again. That should be used solely for what happened last time and maybe a few bits to fill in gaps that can't be mentioned in the issue for story reasons (like in the oneshot it would have been nice if it included something about why X-23 doesn't think about Megan and Debra Kinney directly now), not inadvertantly spoil what's to come by being overtly obvious with what it tells about the past. I skipped the foreword recap in this issue out of habit, so I can't comment on that for this issue at least.

This issue in particular has a lot that it's reaching for and setting up for the future. It speaks to reaching for the stars and what anyone is capable of if they just try as well as suggesting that X-23 has a light within her darkness. Two things that may not be related to each other that she still needs to learn. It has meta-commentary about men using X-23 for their whims. An idea that can relate to previous male writers as well as the Facility or Scott Summers. It foreshadows potentially a cosmic scale internal struggle coming that could multiply X-23's troubles. It pushes a point about how the more you try to hold someone back the more they'll push forward with a renewed strength. It helps show X-23 she is cared for and that she matters to people(an allusion to a previous instance of Elixir trying to do the same in X-Force but that fell on deaf ears). It reflects an X-23 that's growing and maturing and starting to understand more about the world than ever before. An X-23 that sees the world through human eyes, and not as a chessboard.

All around, the entire run as a whole has started pushing boundaries and freeing itself from the reigns of pre-conceptions of what to expect. It evokes a sense similiar to the greatest of books, tv, and film. It's akin to Doctor Who, Supernatural(in particular the Anna and Castiel seasons), and Misfits with its subtle build of characterization and story direction. It alludes to some of the great debates from both theologians and philosophers alike about not just spiritual matters but also life itself. The kind of comic you could sit and analyze and think about for days on end with what it contains. Mind you, even Galileo was scoffed at by his peers, but his contributions changed the way our modern world thinks and how they see the universe around them now.

It's hard to really go into detail about what I see here, but suffice it to say there's something big coming storywise. It's something that could equally divide the fans as amaze them. Such is the way of stories that challenge commonly accepted perceptions. The devil is in the details, but the devil was an angel too.

This comic deserves many more years as a solo title. Here's hoping it's not struck down by those that only glance at the surface and don't see the deeper meanings within. The potential is growing for stories years from now to resolve outlying plot threads like Kimura's vendetta or the remaining Kinney family. Something that makes me grateful those stories haven't been interconnected into this ongoing in a forced type manner as this new growth needs time to develop before those can ever be approached to give them the justice they deserve. Just as this story needs to be free of those problems to fully reach where it's going right now. (Though I still think the little telepathic pervert bothering X-23 might be connected to Kimura, but it keeps that story potential present while still out of reach for awhile with good reason.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Video Games and Marvel

I'm an occasional gamer. I love sandbox games through and through. The mod communities on PC games especially give me all I'd ever want from games whether it's GTA SA mods allowing me to fly the tardis or drive a tron legacy bike, or UT2k4 and its BubbleGum Crisis mods to let me play as the knight sabers and kick some boomer butt. Well almost everything. Even mods have their limitations.

I'm an avid Halo fan, Dead Or Alive, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, GTA SA, among many many other games. Most recently I've become enthralled with Infamous, Prototype, Crackdown and the mac daddy of all sand box games, Saints Row. Yeah I know, it's a crime against calling myself a gamer to not list Arkham Asylum and Arkham City on that list too, but I've not played them yet. (Stoning to commence in 5, 4, 3, 2...)

Marvel has dabbled in this realm with games through Activision and others. They've had some great successes with their Spider-man games this way, but sadly none of their other franchises have reached the level that Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Ultimate Spider-man, and Web Of Shadows have. Even those were lacking aspects that could have made them better. Overall something has shifted with the games away from this growing awesomeness going more for levels and platforming or Gaunlet inspired arcade action instead of open world exploration and interaction they were once dabbling in.

Saints Row the Third is hitting shelves soon(November 15th!), and with it comes an amazing custom character creation center. Finally an open world game where you can do the most ludicrious of things looking entirely as you want, but also has story using your custom creation. This is the type of game I'd love to see for X-23, hell, really any Marvel character.

I'd like to suggest something amazing. Let Volition Inc. make some Marvel games. Let's see what they could make with their Saints Row the Third expertise and how they could intermingle the tech accessories to power sets from Marvel characters. Stuff that could consist of Iron Man boots or a Darkhawk amulet on X-23, Falcon wings on Captain America, a carnage/venom symbiote on Juggernaut, Thor-like hammers or Asgard weapons for whoever, or whatever other mix and match types you could do from innate abilities to outward tech/organics/mystic artifacts that can enhance a power set. With the massive range of weapons and powers within Marvel, you have a full on sand box arsenal just waiting to be tapped alongside the commonly available real world weapons in games. Volition themselves show a strong aptitude with the obscure and dynamic melee combat to pull it off magnificently.

All that would be left would be to build a massive ever changing world around this concept. Destructable buildings that have interiors, in game clock reconstruction times, and more. Just imagine a game where you have to infiltrate a building for a mission, but randomly the support structures have been destroyed. Do you jump out the window and dive for safety? Do you take the stairwell and hope you can beat the collapse? Is the building falling over so you try to jump to the window of the next? Or do you take the elevator shaft like a zipline to reach the bottom? A game with choice would be key. As your personal city got destroyed and rebuilt the landscape would be ever changing from buildings to construction sites and even debris fields. More and more environment interaction would cater to your choices and play styles or power sets. The debris would add hilarity to situations as the randomest things could happen as any GTA player will tell you. (Personally, I've been killed in that game by falling airplanes, crushed by my own car after I jumped out, and so much more. My personal favorite being when I road a bike atop the Casino Pyramid, fell off it, slid down to the bottom, and stood there for a few minutes wondering where my bike went just to be crushed by it. "Oh, there it is.")

This is the kind of game I want to see. Something on the lines of Assassin's Creed, Saints Row the Third, Infamous, Prototype, Crackdown, and Arkham City all rolled into one. A game where the player has the power to choose what kind of hero they want to be, and how they want to approach every scenario in this open ended world. Whether it be X-23's stealth and strategy, the Hulk's brute force, wolverine's berserker rage, Cap's shield slinging, or spider-man's nimbleness, the power would be in your hands for how you felt like playing that day and how you applied the abilities and evironment to your advantage for whatever you wanted to do. Even if it's just to slide down a building like X-23 does in her X-Men Evolution debut or ride Hawkeye's skycycle.

This is an idea that's grand in size, probably even expensive in what all it needs coded. With the modern console era it is something possible. With a single city game like this, it could be expanded with real DLC. Things like new building blueprints, new devices in Reed Richard's lab that can interconnect worlds, dimensions, and more. So that money invested would in turn create endless profit in the long run.

Think about it for a second. With just minor transitional areas like say a space port, you can have all of cosmic Marvel realms at your disposal. Transitional places like Airports, bus stations, space shuttle launch pads, Reed's lab with dimensional gates, space stations(with of course the DPC's Bea Arthur), Shi'ar teleportation areas in the X-Mansion, Utopia and their teleporters, and more you have an ever growing and infinite amount of DLC potential.

Eventually through DLC it could create a fully organic universe that started as just one city and potentially a country-side. From the skrull planets, to kree, even the shi'ar, Nova Corps ship, the negative zone, Wakanda, Madripoor, Latveria, or GotG's Nowhere you could do anything, be anyone and go anywhere thanks to just simple transitional spots within key areas that make sense within the Marvel Universe.

The drawback? Eventually you'd have no harddisk space left for anything else. It's an idea that needs to be thought out and weighed against the options of storage space, and how to spread it across multiple hardcopy games that can expand on each area and their heroes or villians. Stuff like Marvel Universe: The Kree Skrull war, Marvel Universe: Welcome to the Nova Corps, Marvel Universe: Academy X, Marvel Universe: Utopia (which would include San Francisco), Marvel Universe: Iron Man. Sure it'd add disk swapping as a factor, but wouldn't it be worth it to have one massive cohesive playable universe for you to use the characters you like, or create your own in a world that has mechanics and enviroment interaction done as well as Saints Row the third, Infamous, Prototype, or Batman Arkham City?

It'd break new ground, give multiplayer a whole new draw as every player's universe would be different to each other, and finally bring new meaning to Marvel's catch phrase "Your Universe." You could share what's happened in your world with other players, or share in what happened in theirs. The aspects of interaction would give all new ways to how you handle the different play types. Do you have a shoot out in an office building all Matrix style having Punisher guns ablazing or mutant power based attacks with your team, or do you hulk up or strategicly plant bombs and just trash the building foundation while everyone's inside? In a street chase do you free run across rooftops? Do you hop car roof to car roof? Do you steal a car or bike and have a giant epic car chase? Do you fire up the the Rescue or IronMan armor and fly after? Do you use a skycycle or Shield flying car? The transitions and competitive or co-op nuances are numerous for something always new and cool happening every time you play. It'd create an infinite amount of replay that's all dependant on how you wanted to play, from Iron Man's tech, to Surge's emp, everything would always be constantly in flux and balancing each other out dynamicly with your choices and actions at your disposal.

Everytime I play games like Infamous, Prototype, Crackdown, and Saints Row the 3rd, I can't help but dream of this game line that'll never come to pass. If you see someone online that looks like a Marvel character in Saints Row the Third, that just might be people attempting to live the dream in what's available too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

October 2011 Sales Rank

X-23 v3 #15
Cover - Review
Cover Price: $2.99
This issue was ranked 104 out of 300 according to ICv2 which is based on Diamond U.S. to comic specialty stores. The issue has sold an estimated 24,043 copies to them.

X-23: Killing Dream TPB
Price: $15.99
This tradepaperback ranked 15 out of 300 according to ICv2 which is based on Diamond U.S. to comic specialty stores. This number does not reflect total volume sales through bookstores.

The estimated sales rose in October compared to September, and another bit of awesome was how well the Killing Dream TPB did. It ranked one place higher than the X-23: Innocence Lost origin TPB did, but still short 7 places from overtaking the Target X TPB's 8th place rank. Still a magnificent feat to accomplish being within the top 20 list! As always you can check out how other issues and TPBs did during their month of release over in the Sales Rank section.

Regenesis: Are The Two New X-Team Titles Worth Reading?

I wasn't kind to the Regenesis one-shot. It just struck me as too raw and attempting to emulate the modern world for my tastes, while also in many ways feeling rushed and shot from the hip. Yeah, that last bit is something I'm pretty familiar with as most of my entries here are all done that way too. It muddied the waters too much on what the debate was for my tastes. It had elements I liked though including how the voice of truth and reason was drowned out in favor of chants, simple one liners, and twisting self-caused statistics.(All those people that died on the bus that Prodigy refers to? That happened because Scott and Emma tried to force segregation, attempting to kick Prodigy out at the time too. Quite the subtle use of irony and selective memory there.)

That being said, both of the new #1s pleasantly surprised me. Wolverine and The X-Men #1 brought X-Men back to being fun to read, and reminded me why I enjoyed Jason Aaron's work after Beezle-Bub/Hellverine made me forget. Uncanny X-Men v2 #1, while still carrying the heavy political overtones, brought more to the table in why they have this side. I have some qualms towards Uncanny X-Men with the totalitarian approach over a fluid comparison to slightly younger nations like Israel, but for now it carries the point and is interesting to see how Scott Summers is losing himself to what he's becoming. Something that might be the reason to why he leaned on the fascist end and rogue state remarks over the more ally-like yet persecuted comparison that Israel would have given. It was an interesting read, including how it's starting to show the subtle cracking under pressure and hypocrisy Cyclops has.

For me, neither title is worth dropping as yet. Wolverine and The X-Men has brought the fun back to the title, and gives genuine hope for the future as they fight against intolerance using tolerance. Uncanny may be on the edge, but until it tips over I'll keep reading for now to see the self-destruction of Scott Summers that seems to be building from his over-indulgence in self-righteousness. These issues didn't reflect any of the problems I had towards Regenesis and felt closer to a coherent plan and characterization that's been building over the past few years. Overall I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment that Scott Summers abandoned the dream the second it got hard in the face of adversity. Something Rick Remender put rather eloquently into Archangel's diatribe to Betsy about Xavier in Uncanny X-Force(truly a must read title).

So are these two titles worth reading for now? Oh hell yes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

X-23's Repetition Compulsion

Childhood trauma victims, particularly physical abuse, sexual abuse; or those subjected to constant invasive medical procedures, can have what's commonly called a repetition compulsion. The inflicted lack of self-worth creates a state of repetition along with self-destructive tendencies. These tendencies can include self-mutilation, drug abuse, and self-sabotage.

In select cases like X-23, there can be a reaction of defiance. A subconcious decision caused by stimuli to actively not become an aggressor like those that harmed them, but to remain within a victim's attitudes and perceptions unknowingly. This history tends to lead the victim into becoming an aggressor. Rare cases like X-23 can lead to a state of self-victimization, prostitution, and only becoming aggressive towards those that would victimize others. Instead of leading into a state of omnipotence to over inflate self-worth or a state of vanity, the subject would deliberately and actively remove themself from such thoughts or actions because of their perceived lack of self-worth. The lack of power in their childhood doesn't get forced into wanting to feel powerful as an adult, but rather they actively sacrifice themselves for others without thought. Not to create worth, but actively because they feel others deserve the protection and they themselves are expendable.

Kimura, in the confines of the miniseries, represents the opposite end of the spectrum. The abuse victim who becomes the aggressor. They need to be all-powerful and create another like themself. X-23 represents the side of the spectrum with empathy; the abuse victim who becomes a protector without any self-preservation instincts. The second only acts when others are involved and attempts to prevent harm from befalling them, whereas the first would put others in harm's way purely for pleasure.

The psychology is interwoven in all of X-23's actions and thoughts, including the self-deprecating humor used in Collision. All of it is within the confines of the character and her perceived self-worth. The self-deprecating humor that actively manipulated Daken also created damage to X-23's self-worth by reinforcing why she perceives herself as subhuman. The addition of the physical stimuli from X-23 killing children, an action she has never done before, further causes the reversion to her old habits of self-harm despite any physical reinforcement manifestations she may have had to the contrary. This repetition reinforces the cycle as displayed in Touching Darkness and continues into the Chaos Theory arc.

This isn't factoring in the maternal influences and other factors that have put the character where she is before the beginning of the 3rd volume comic run. Nor does it factor in the active romantic pursuit and infatuation of an aggressor that X-23 has exhibited previously by pursuing a relationship with Hellion. His aggressive persona is counterproductive to the growth X-23 needs to overcome her past and may instead cause this repetition compulsion to continue. This also hasn't included the damage done by not letting her take responsibility for her actions; those choices started to push her to the edge of becoming an abuser by allowing an excuse for these actions and lack of remorse for committing them. Her interactions with Wolverine during this time acted to create an agressor instead of healing her of the abuse. Gambit's interactions are doing the opposite. He's allowing her to heal without more abuse or condemnation. The next step would be social interaction among peers that are accepting of her for who she is now. A place where she could freely be or become herself would be required. I've refrained from any analysis pertaining to her higher cognitive functions as those were kept intact for her aptitude and adaptability as an assassin by the Facility and not directly impacted by the abuse.

X-23's comic and appearances contain heavily mature themes that may go over the average comic reader or reviewer's understanding if they haven't grown up under unorthodox means, seen it first hand, read up on it, or have any familiarity to it being possible in the modern world. It is entirely highbrow and may elicit gut reactions of aversion from others that don't grasp this, have an inclination to condemn others, or that she isn't an animal. She was raised for subterfuge, intelligence gathering, and strategic strikes; eventually she was to be sold off to the highest bidder had she not escaped. Something that's hard for many to fathom, but still happens in countries all over the world including the United States of America within some subcultures.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

X-23 v3 Issue 16 "Whoa!"

Normally I'd wait the for the one week mark before going forward with commentary or opinions, but the conclusion to the Chaos Theory story was just too awesome.

So instead I just want to say one thing. If you're not buying this book you are missing out on what's quickly becoming one of Marvel's must read titles. This issue was too amazing to put into words.

I'll do a real recap next week. In the meantime, go get this issue and the back issues to this arc if you haven't read them yet. The wait for the tpb will be long and this arc was too amazing to wait.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reminder: X-23 v3 Issue 16 hits Shelves Tomorrow!

Just a friendly reminder that you can pick up this issue tomorrow at comic shops! So be sure to grab your copy because this story looks to be a doozy and one hell of a ride!

The preview alone is already raising questions about whether X-23 is on a quest of the selfless or still feels less than human while the cosmic scales of chaos and order both push to use her for their own means. The cards have been dealt, but X-23 almost always has an ace or two up her sleeve to play.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Smart Moves of Marvel

I tend to go back and forth about how I feel about Marvel.  Somedays a few of their "spokespeople's" (in quotes because they aren't formal ones, but when part of a big company all your actions reflect on the company) actions are rather bully-like in their tactics and narcissistc, bringing shame to the name Marvel and now Disney by association. While other days they do stuff that truly surprises me. 

The recent moves that have truly surprised me are from their current business moves.  I'm sure they have other moves computing away to generate more fans, but right now they've done a handful of things that all I can do is applaud it on the business end of looking towards the future.

Specifically I'm speaking of the new digital initiative starting with Avenging Spider-Man.  Providing digital download codes for a copy of a comic you bought in store is magnificent and shows a gesture of good faith towards local comic shops.  This initiative essentially let's you have your cake and eat it too.  So remember to redeem your codes so they don't stop doing this!  It's a great move that counters a recent bad trend over at DC of charging the same for a digital copy as a print copy and as I said, it doesn't take sales away from comic shops like a theif in the night.  This move is nothing but beneficial to all and shows they care about looking into new mediums without abusing the wallets of consumers or merchants alike.

The other move of theirs that I just cannot praise enough, is what looks like the new Venom event will be testing.  I'm speaking of the .1, .2, .3, .4 issue move for character crossovers into other titles.  This move lets those who are interested get the titles easier they already read, and doesn't force non-interested parties into biting because a title they do read is caught up into it.  It lets writers and artists continue their stories without having to shoe-horn in a new story they hadn't planned on that could throw off their run's momentum.  Something Marvel has had a pretty bad habit of lately (barring Collision, that was a unique way to do it with each title having a different perspective and focus to build into the bigger picture).

Moves like these show that Marvel does care about their customers and fans.  Alongside some of their charitable contributions, it reflects a better and smarter Marvel.  Here's hoping they expand on this trend without overdoing it, and continue to cut back on some of the more vocal arrogance of the past that's made other companies and talents a little leary of working with them directly again.

X-23 v3 Issue 16 - Preview

CBR has their previews up for next week's comics. Among them is the new issue of X-23. Issue 16 hits stands next Wednesday, November 2nd.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

X-23 in UMvC3: Costume Redux! Plus her theme song.

These were the costumes that Marvel unveiled a little over a day ago. Since today is X-23 day and all that, may as well go ahead and show them off here for all to enjoy and salivate over the choices they have. I've also gone ahead and included the Femme Fatales pack costume to make the list complete.

X-23's fighting attire from X-23: Target X.
X-23's costume from the Captain Universe/X-23 oneshot.
X-23 in her Academy X graduation colors suit. Close as can be from model limitations.
X-23 in her cover appearance from issue 1 of her ongoing.
X-23 in X-Force Design, with blue instead of black for gameplay reasons.
X-23 as AoA Kirika.
X-Men Evolution X-23

Here's her theme song/stage song from the first game which should be the same for UMvC3.

My Top 3 Picks for Best X-23 Stories

If you were curious what I think the Top 3 X-23 stories are, this entry is for you.  This is entirely my opinion and may not reflect the majority, but these are the top 3 X-23 stories that I've read and enjoyed the most that have been release up until this date.

Honorable mentions:  X-23/Daken: Collision, Touching Darkness, and X-23: Innocence Lost.

Who made the final cut.

3. X-Men: To Serve and Protect Issue 2: Judgement
This story is outright one of my favorites that uses X-23.  Well I guess duh on that since it made the top 3 list.  It's written by Simon Spurrier with David Lafuente as the artist and Marte Gracia as the colorist.  This story is X-23 meeting Ghost Rider on her Soul Quest after the events of the Killing Dream, but before the events of the Miss Sinister and Alice arc.  I'm not sure if it's the borderline Halloween Town apparel X-23 is wearing or just the sheer fun of the story, but this little short is just all kind of fun ending on the typical fanboy debates about who the penance stare affects and what it would do to X-23.  Though yes this question is never answered in the story, it presents the moral quandry that is X-23 in a rather unique and just outright fun manner.  I might just be partial to it from being an avid Tim Burton fan myself though.

2. X-23: Target X
The story of Megan and Laura is a touching one.  This tale written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost harkens back to the core of what makes Marvel characters so appealing to wider audiences.  It gives the X-23 origin tale heart though yes some plot holes.  These minor flaws are the only thing that kept it from reaching the number 1 slot though the art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback made that call uncomrpehendingly hard.  Their artwork just jumps off the page with the emotion and vibrance they bring to the story.

1. X-23 v3 Issue 7
This issue written by Marjorie M. Liu is the precursor to the X-23/Daken crossover event Collision.  It made the list because while being the X-23 side of the prologue to the event, it's entirely told in a self-contained manner harkening back to what makes comic books great.  This issue in particular covers a variety of topics and allusions as well as gives us a glimpse into how X-23 thinks and reacts strategicly to circumstances to the point in this issue she kills no people, yet takes down a group of pirates and rescues a man from them. It's X-23 and Gambit vs. pirates in this tale of their travel from USA to Madripoor.  What can I say, pirates are in this year.  The cover in particular has quickly become one of my all time favorites, but it's the clear amazing writing that sells this issue on its merits with just good solid story telling. I'm little bit saddened they didn't use it as the final story in the Killing Dream TPB. That would ended it on a note of drifting in the wind. Giving it a form of story closure but also an opening to buy the Collision TPB to see where it led.