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.

X-23 Day!

Well, today's October 23rd.  You know what that is don't you?  It's 10-23 which can also be expressed as X-23.  Yup that's right, today is X-23 day!  While the Weapon X crew gets a whole month dedicated to them on random years, let's go ahead and set aside a single day for Logan's daughter herself, X-23.

We wanted to do something special this year, but some minor complications came up that have made that slightly harder than previously planned.

There may still be some more entries today, but for now my apologies on this, as this year will be a more quiet and somber one.

On the flipside, everything that was previously planned for today can be easily adapted for next year, or X-23's anniversary.  2013 though will be the year where you can expect tons of surprises, entries, and just utter madness to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of X-23 starting in August and ending on October 23rd(that year it falls on a Wednesday).

Friday, October 21, 2011

UMvC3: X-23's Costumes!

Marvel has revealed X-23's costumes for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3!

The two new ones are her X-Force/current maskless outfit with blue instead of black, and an outfit based on AoA Kirika that's green.

She will also be getting a special timed exclusive outfit as part of the Femme Fatales pack if you preorder through Gamestop. That one will be her X-Men Evolution premiere outfit.  This one is more than just a simple color swap(full on model outfit) and will be going up for purchase at a later date if you didn't preorder through gamestop. Glad to see they worked with Craig Kyle too on the choices, though I think they may have lowered the amount of credit he's supposed to get for what he created.

Pictures to follow at a much later date on KP.  For now, click on over to Marvel's site to check out their exclusive!

January 2012 X-23 Solicits

CBR has the January solicits up. Here's where you can find your X-23 fix for that month.

• X-23 and the all-new White Tiger go wild…but why?
• Who is the killer hiding amidst the newly expanded student body and their new campus?
• Welcome new artist Tom Grummett (INCREDIBLE HULKS)!
32 PGS./Rated T…$2.99

X-23 #20
• Guest-starring Jubilee!
• X-23 goes back to Utopia to decide once and for all what side she falls on in the Regenesis
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$2.99

Written by MARJORIE M. LIU
Collecting X-23 (2010) #10-16.
144 PGS./Parental Advisory …$19.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5296-5

Brother and sister collide as Daken, son of Wolverine, continues his quest to prove to the world he’s the best there is at what he does. All that stands in his way? X-23, Wolverine’s clone. Squaring off in the streets of Madripoor, the two become uneasy allies after learning one of their father’s greatest foes is attempting to revive the sinister Weapon X Project. Bitter memories of her years as a Weapon X pawn driving her actions, X-23 is determined to take the program down at all costs and prevent history from repeating itself — but is Daken with her, or does he just want a piece of the action? Collecting DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE #5-9, X-23 (2010) #7-9 and material from WOLVERINE: ROAD TO HELL.
200 PGS./Parental Advisory …$19.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-4708-4

Thursday, October 20, 2011

X-23 to be in New Venom Event

CBR is reporting that X-23 will be featured in a new upcoming Venom event starting in the pages of Venom issue 13.  It will be a 6 issue event going from Venom issue 13 to 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4 and then culminating in Venom issue 14.  The dynamic is said to be similiar to the previous temporary Fantastic 4 that Wolverine, Spider-man, the Hulk, and Ghost Rider created briefly but modernized with legacy characters.  So this new team will consist of Red Hulk, X-23, the new female Ghost Rider, and the new Venom.

All around with the writers on board, count me excited for this.  It should be interesting to see X-23 interacting with all these characters who she has never met before.  Previously it was the male (Blaze) ghost rider she met, but will the spirit of vengence that is Ghost Rider still recognize her?  I'm also curious to see how these 4 will butt heads, and the similiarities that can be played off of them.  Ghost Rider and her training to be a weapon of vengence all her life, Thunderbolt Ross and his military training, X-23 with her being raised to be the perfect assassin, and Venom again with his military service.  The pairings are ripe with potential and just scream epicly awesome. With Remender, the man behind Uncanny X-Force, and the other writers involved of equally astoundingly amazing comics, this should be an unparalleled and mind blowing story all should read.  Be there as it begins in February's Venom #13!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fear Itself: The Home Front #5-7

Previously it was revealed that X-23 would be appearing in Fear Itself: The Home Front issues 5-7.  I've been reading Home Front anyway for the tie-in into the main event, and even enjoyed many of the stories in it.  It has been a great comic with some thought provoking shorts provided by many writers and artists.  Since this blog focuses solely on X-23 (though I do tend to go on tangents occasionally for material that's worthy), I wasn't sure how I wanted to approach this mini.

It is well worth picking up for the stories it tells and how they are told.  The X-23 story in particular (The Chosen) isn't exactly award worthy, but it is a fun romp with some mild in-jokes and comedic moments.  One of the ending panels in particular made the entire 3 part story well worth reading.  It does make one mistake in the 3rd part of the story with the dialogue, but that can happen with team stories when there are more characters than the writer is familiar with entirely.  The lone goof is in the line where X-23 says "The name they gave me.  It's Laura."  There is no they.  The name the facility gave her is X-23.  Laura is the name her mother gave her once X-23 escaped the Facility.  So there would be no 'they,' it should be singular or refer solely to her mother.  That being said, it can be interpreted as a meta-commentary reference towards those who originally wrote her first appearance in any medium.  That would be a 'they' as it was two writers. Only one of which gets the sole-credit for her creation as his idea (it's complicated almost as much as Wolverine's own canonical history).

One of the best shorts in my honest opinion, was the final one Home Front Lines.  This story truly speaks to the nature of just doing what's right because you just do, and not taking credit for it.  It stuck out to me in particular for various reasons.  This story truly speaks to what a good person is, does, and how sometimes it's the simple things that can make us a hero even if we don't see it.  The man in the story doesn't think himself a hero. Far from it.  He thinks himself a coward, and decides to change that at the end, but the entire story is full of heroic acts he's doing, and lives he's helping.  Showing once again it's not how one sees themselves or even what they say about themselves, but what they do and how they act that defines who they are.  A lesson all should learn and keep close to their heart(in other words stop professing you're a good person, and just be a good person).

All 7 issues are worth picking up if you can find them. The X-23 three part story is a decent read. The last two panels themselves make this particular story highly memorable, while the other shorts provide some curious and thought-provoking commentary on human nature.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

X-Men: ReGenesis

Okay, the long overdue ReGenesis issue.  Yup it had X-23, so I get to talk about it.  Thank you for small favors. 

Small warning. There are some spoilers here.

I'm not sure how I want to dive into this really.  The idea is promising and long overdue.  A split in the X-Men based on the premise of the treatment of children and how adults are supposed to protect them.  Cyclops on the callous and arrogant side of telling children they don't have the luxury of any form of innocence or to even pretend as such, and Wolverine on the side of being a real man and adult to protect these kids, not put them in those kinds of positions, and give them that time instead of inflicting even more psychological trauma on them than the world already does in their formative years.  (Because really, in the end, even if Scott does succeed, what has he really won if he destroys these kids from the inside out before they've had enough time to mature to handle it?  It's done wonders for X-23, so how can it be bad?)

Wow, that was a loaded statement.  Guess you can tell which I side with.

I do feel that maybe this issue and schism didn't articulate the argument as well as it should have, but this is a debate that spans many a psychiatrist and ample amounts of research.  So maybe it really can't be articulated that well to begin with.  That's rationalizing it though, and it's hard to do that when mistakes happen that suggest it was rather hurriedly thrown together last minute for something that's been years in the planning and supposed to be such a pivotal turning point in the X-Men's future.

Typo or Freudian slip?  You decide!

With potential mistakes like that. It's hard to take this issue seriously as an event that has span years in the making that finally came to a head. I think "unavoidable" is what they meant, but it goes to a lack of quality control in the product itself which suggests a form of rush to being published. Especially a scene as pivotal as this.  If you still don't get what I mean.  Cyclops just told Psylocke "No Killing, unless it's absolutely something that doesn't need to be killed. Then kill it."  Which changes the entire line away from the suggested intent.  Uh, Marvel, you might want to fix that on future printings or digital copies.  As it stands now, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever other than as a Freudian slip by Scott alluding to his true fallen from grace nature.  It undermines his statements to psylocke, and sabotages his side of the debate entirely.

To be continued!
On the flipside, it was pretty obvious where X-23 was going to fall in this debate about children.  She always has been, and always will be for protecting children.  The issue more or less suggested the same with her response.  A response that was handled with perfection and evokes a layer of sarcasm at Logan that only those two seem to share at times.  It can also be interpreted as Logan not giving her a choice in the matter, but I side with the sarcasm angle because of how Scott has treated her, and her views of him as per her ongoing comic.  She does have choices though.  She can be thrust into a guardian role for Wolverine's school, become an Assassin again for Summers, or stick with the FF a bit longer and learn about life from a potential surrogate mother-figure; the ultimate mother-figure of the Marvel Universe.  We'll see how this all plays out on her end in upcoming issues of the ongoing.  I personally hope she sticks with the FF a bit longer, at least until Johnny comes back, then leaves right before his arrival to continue her travels.  Utopia isn't a good place for her, Wolverine's school may not be a good place for her with Hellion's toxicity there, and her road to self-discovery on the path of the selfless is still long ahead.

All in all, I look forward to seeing how this goes, but I'm really starting to wish some of the writers at marvel would use a dictionary, or the lettering staff would check grammar rules or talk to the writer to make sure the dialogue is right.  This is isn't the first time it's happened, and probably won't be the last.  It's a bit shameful to think that mistakes like this keep happening time and time again for a large company that likes to claim superiority and mock others for their mistakes.  The irony of which is too delicious to bother going into here without further examples of public mistreatment of staff, typographical errors, and blatant misunderstandings from lack of asking questions or reviewing older material, let alone the way they shrug off such commentary as "can't you take a joke" like any schoolyard bully does that comes right back to doubling up the layers of damage it illicits by forcing silence onto the outspoken party.

I might have to save that for another day though.  Instead let's just focus on this issue and the primal nature it tries to dive into without a clear articulated reason as to why.  Suggesting it more akin to the dance of Scott and Logan as they lay blows to each other's manly pride as opposed to the primal nature of what being a real adult, a real guardian, a real parent, is about.

It also has ample amounts of buxom babes in bikinis too if that's your thing. (Hey, sex sells over substance.)

Ultimate Spider-Man - Off Topic

I talked about this previously how this idea was interesting.  After three issues of its own comic, I thought it about time to finally chime in my 2 cents.

I enjoyed Ultimate Fallout though it felt like Miles was rather shoe-horned into there.  That being said his own comic had shown promise.  So it wasn't the concept I had an issue with (far from it in fact, since the concept of spider-man and his body-suit has always been it could be anyone).  It was how it was implemented and revealed far too fast to build hype.  His own comic has been superb though.  Only 3 issues in so far, and if it keeps up with this pace and story excellence I'm going to keep reading for at least another 30.  The one thing to keep in mind is that the new Ultimate Spider-man takes place before Ultimate Fallout.  So it's still building to that scene you saw in that mini-series.

This comic is definitely on the must read list I'd give to anyone, and much praise to Bendis for doing such a fantastic job.

Any worries I may have had about potential stereotype usage has been put to bed.  This comic within three issues has proven its merits beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the future will hopefully and rightfully so look back upon this as one of the most memorable and amazing comics of the 21st century.  If you were a nay-sayer, you should really give this comic a chance, let it speak for itself after reading it, instead of slamming it and never reading it.

Recap: X-23 v3 Issue 15

Yay, it's finally one week from the day this was released! You know what that means don't you? Yup that's right, another recap!

This issue wasn't all that surprising really if you've been following the preview pages and covers. It was an extremely ambitious issue nonetheless though and contained some rather heavy meta commentary.

This issue finally made clear what the soul mark is. It's the celestial power of free will(choice) as potentially emphasized by a remnant of the uni-power. Not quite sure how I feel about that, or if it's just another in a long line of psych outs. We'll see how it goes in the upcoming issues, but it does make sense to a degree with what's alluded to as remnants of the uni-power being in X-23 which explains the star nature of her 'soul.' It does raise some red flags though. Leaving questions again like does X-23 really have a soul? Is the uni-power remnant behind that entire scene in the first arc? Among many others including potential foreshadowing about X-23 becoming a metaphoric sword for the uni-power.  As well as there being no greater hell that what's in one's own head.

All those are questions I'd rather not ask yet. Instead, let's go back to the beginning of the issue where X-23 attempted to save Sue Richards. Another instance in a long line of X-23 trying to protect her mother figures, but it was glossed over rather quickly with Sue even forgiving Laura for failing to do so(the same as Sarah Kinney took the blame for all of X-23's missions). A failure that was only in Laura's eyes, as I'm sure Sue never expected Laura to do that to begin with. It rings true to the core of the character and what happened with her real mother. Something that makes me a little saddened it was just so quickly done and then tossed to the back burner.  It does help emphasize the hell of a person's own creation in their head though.  This comes across beautifully and I hope gets emphasized in future stories with the FF as the groundwork created here is ripe with potential usage.

Now back to the Uni-power with the power of choice and perception. This issue rings true to an old story I read in a philosophy class. A story about an old man, and a boy with a heart of gold. The story goes that the old man thinks himself a monster, so to hide this nature from all, he harms no one, and gives all he can to charity and to help others. Then there's a boy with a heart of gold, who steals a purse from an old woman for pocket money. (I wish I could remember the name of the story, or who wrote it.)

The story preys on perceptions, and perceived natures. The old man, though he thinks himself a monster, does nothing but help others, whereas the boy with the alleged heart of gold, steals from the elderly for pocket money, spending cash due to greed. Making the boy the true monster hiding behind self-claimed innocence and purity.

This relates to X-23 and her perceptions of herself. She thinks she's a monster, and she believes she's beyond redemption, yet all she's ever done is helped people since she gained her freedom from the facility. Laura is the old man in this story. It's not her self-perceived nature that defines her, but her choices in life that are defining her. This is true in life as well. People can claim intelligence yet make ignorant statements, people can claim they are morally superior yet in doing so they are immediately marking themselves as morally inferior, people can say they are pro-rights for anyone, yet turn around and toss around phrases that say otherwise and belittle entire genders or groups of people. It's their choices and actions, not their self-proclaimed statements that truly define who they are. In simpler terms, you can claim you're a nice person, but only act like an arrogant prick. So which are you then? What you say you are, or what you act like? Actions speak louder than words.

This issue is very ambitious, yes it may have a few flaws, but the message is clear if albeit told in a rather unprecedented manner. Our actions and choices speak to our essence more than our thoughts and personally perceived self-nature. X-23 is defined by her power of choice. By her God given free-will. This sidesteps the uni-power soul questions, and hammers down a point of yes she has a soul. She is her soul. That very manifestation of her that was talking to what's now presumed to be the uni-power remnant is her true soul. It was never the star being, it was always her and her choices. Like it is for us all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

UMvC3: Full Confirmed Roster

From this picture, I guess we can safely say that the aforementioned rumored cast is correct. This picture includes the full roster, but not their alternate costumes as yet. More to come on that much later with links to their sources(various different site exclusive information).

September 2011 Sales Rank

This issue was ranked 99 out of 300 according to ICv2 which is based on Diamond U.S. to comic specialty stores. The issue has sold an estimated 23,727 copies to them.

For previous sales rank data, check out the sales rank section.