When people are completely and utterly out of their depth they tend to go through three phases; at least I did. The first was idiotic enthusiasm. Knowing that the concept was worthy and sound (natch. I came up with it, after all) I was flying high on the perceived brilliance of it.
Phase two was crippling terror. I have never done this before. Oh God. I felt like I had wandered on stage, all primped and glittering with bravado, ready to give the performance of a lifetime before realizing that I did not know a single line, a single step. What if they hate me? I don’t want to do this. Better to curl up in bed and play Avengers Alliance on Facebook. Yes. That sounds good.
Inevitably, the disappointed face of the person who offered me this job flashed before me and led me to phase three: guilt about experiencing phase two. I had given my word, and he had taken a chance, and I doubt backing out on this would be easily forgiven, even if I had held a mattress to the top of a car with my bare arm freezing out the window of a Pontiac for him. Don’t ask.
Now, what is this project I have agonized over? Well, I am here to review comic books. Novel concept, I know. Someone reviewing comic books on a website built around comic books. My mom played around with making my middle name Pioneer before she settled on Marie. The difference between my reviews and say, Josh Epstein’s is that I basically have no clue what I am talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I do roll with a certain crowd, and I have been able to gain a rudimentary knowledge of super-hero mythology through my friends, movies, cartoons, wikis, and those little character bios in video games.
I can count on both hands how many comic books series I have read in my lifetime, and none of them devotedly with the exception of maybe The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I have only reviewed one graphic novel in my life: Claudia’s Story, which is Interview with a Vampire from Kirsten Dunst’s perspective. Check it out—it’s on Goodreads. I made pretty crayon pictures for it.
I feel like I am getting off topic. Spoilers from here on out.
For my first assignment I will be reviewing “A+X #1.” From what I have been told, this series is a part of a relaunch entitled Marvel NOW! which, according to my most trusted source, Wikipedia, is a “2012 relaunch of several ongoing comic books published by Marvel Comics, that debuted in October 2012 with new #1 issues” and “entails changes to both the publishing format and the fictional universe to attract new readers.” That is me, I guess, and possibly you, dear reader.
The concept behind A+X is that each issue features two stories that have a team up of one X-man and one Avenger. Issue #1 features a team up of Hulk and Wolverine (who had somewhat of a beef with one another in the past) and Cable and Captain America. Well, Bucky Barnes shows up in the Captain America story, but I guess that is a given. I can see that they are going less for the Poor Little Orphaned Sidekick angle and making Bucky closer to Steve’s age; much like the recent movie version of Captain America with Sebastian Stan more or less playing Bucky as Steve’s peer.
Anyway, the first story begins with Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Bucky Barnes being briefed (please attempt to say that five times fast) on a mission to stop Adolph Hitler’s scientist, Atticus Trask from planting a mysterious weapon code-named “Contingency X” into the ground. They soon find Trask his creation, and it becomes apparent that he is not from around…anywhere. A throw-away and somewhat generic fill-in-the-blank-with-what’s-hip reference to Instagram gives it away. What is more, Trask’s creation is a SUPERNAZI!-Sentinel. Enter Cable, time-traveller. The threat is dispatched quickly—disappointingly quickly; however, there is a hilarious exchange towards the end of the story involving Cable throwing out a bit of humor that definitely falls into the Too Soon category considering the time period is the 1940s.
The next tale involves the Hulk and Wolverine, predictably at odds. Unpredictably, they are at odds over the trite matter of who gets the last piece of cake. Cute, I guess. In keeping with the theme of the previous story, they encounter a pair of time-travellers as well. Their future self. As quickly as Trask and the Sentinels were dispatched, so are Future Hulk and Wolverine; however, there seems to be the promise of a continuation in an end scene reminiscent of the closing of every episode of Inspector Gadget ever.
Final thoughts: I realize that comic books are extremely brief, but I found the clean resolution of the first story to be frustratingly simplistic. I enjoy the open-endedness of the second story, as well as the comedic rapport of Wolverine and the Hulk. They come off as the super-hero version of Grumpy Old Men, which become more apparent as they are literally confronted with the grumpy old men versions of themselves. Ultimately the artwork was perfectly adequate all around, if not a tad generic. Especially with the first story, the dialogue was a tad cheesy with a few truly humorous gems throughout.
This concludes my very first review with The Capeless Crusader. I am completely open to any suggestions or reading material that you, the reader, feel I may want to look into.