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Comics

Comic Culture With Rafa #001

The Boys Are Back in Town: A Return to Form in Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019)

A review from Rafael Encinas

When you think of iconic partnerships in comic books, what comes to mind? For me, personally, I’ve always been partial to the dynamic of the Cyclops/Wolverine relationship. Two leaders; two heroes; two generals of a dying species. There are few as iconic as these two X-Men; two characters with so much rich history. This is why it is unfortunate that so many casual fans only think about the Scott, Logan, Jean love triangle, especially when there is so much more to these characters.

For the past forty-plus years, we have had some wild events with these two at the epicenter. Moments of apocalypse, onslaughts, and decimations, these two have had some incredible highs. But unfortunately, their complex bromance hit some lows, especially with an all-time low with the forced “Schism” event in 2011, and then they both died… eventually.  

But with the release of yesterday’s Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019), consider me hype for a new chapter in their rocky relationship. Hold onto your hats because THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN! And they are not messing around.

It is hard to put into words the amount of nuanced emotion and complexity in the return of the Last Two X-Men. If you haven’t been reading Uncanny X-Men… the recently resurrected Cyclops and Wolverine have come back to a world in where all the X-Men are gone. Mutants are on the verge of extinction once again. Please check out Chris’ Comic Book Corner for additional details about issue 11.  

But basically, Cyclops is back facing a hostile world where all his allies are nowhere to be found. As he searches for his fallen comrades and dispersed people, the issue culminates into a big confrontation between Cyclops and the who’s who of mutant hate groups.

This scene plays out with a heightened sense of intensity because you know the fight is about to go down. But it is one man, Scott Summers, who we all know if no slouch when it comes to confrontation or impossible odds, but it still feels tense, and you feel the danger and peril for Cyclops mounting. We get a wise crack from Reaver commander, Donald Pierce who basically laments at the death of all mutants and mockingly states, “What’s it like knowing your friends all died, the world doesn’t care, and that you’re going to die all alone?” 

These are powerful words. And the tension is palpable. Cyclops was about to go down in a blaze of glory, and if only there was someone to help him. And then the greatest moment in recent comic book history occurs:

There are no words to express my feelings of elation to see Wolverine come back from the dead and to join forces with Cyclops once again after so many years of mutant politics and hostile estrangement. After the conflict of the mutant schism and the disaster of the Avenger/Mutant conflict, and the heightened tensions over Cyclops’ Mutant Revolution, we see the personal strife, turmoil, and anger these two X-men had for one another come to a head in an act of mutual understanding and Mutant cooperation. They realize there is something more important than their petty ideologies and imagined slights. We see two titans come together for the greater good. A reunion. A return to form. Best Friends Once Again! Reunited And It Feels So Good!

And this is the power of comics. Moments like these that make you feel emotional payoff and impact that comes from years of reading these fictional allegories to very real issues and narratives. This reunion made me nostalgic for all the moments Cyclops and Wolverine fought side by side. And this is important because I am not the only one to feel this way. Comics transcend one’s own thoughts and opinions. It becomes a medium for people to connect and realize their shared love and joy for fictional characters.

In reading Uncanny X-Men #11, it was in this moment that I remembered a comment I saw on Reddit a while back from user bigkr88. The reddit user talked about the bond that both Scott and Logan shared; a bond of brotherhood, and the gravity that that title holds for both men.  More so than any other pair of heroes, I would argue these two have the strongest brotherly bond out of most Marvel Comic Book characters. I mean they fought together, side by side, for decades in a world that did not thank them and wanted them dead.

At the end of the day, Scott and Logan were brothers. The term “friends” does not do their complex relationship justice. I mean, brothers fight. Brothers argue. Brothers hate each other. Brothers stop talking to one another, but when it really counts and things go down, brothers will come together no matter how far they have drifted apart. The relationship between these two icons is more than just a simple friendship. Dealing with the end of the world and the end of their species on a day to day basis really puts things into perspective. And doing this together for so many years is meaningful.

And this isn’t just fan conjecture. We can see similar lamentations in the pages of the comics themselves.

Wolverine himself contemplates in X-Men: Prelude to Schism #4: “I’ve been to the end of the universe with you. Been your rival. Been Your friend. We’ve seen some rough times and had a few good ones.”

Cyclops reciprocates these feelings when he thinks back in the Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan #1: “Despite our differences over the years, we share one thing in common: We were there… for all of it. We lost friends. Buried sons. But we never stopped… until I broke things.”

Though these two iconic X-Men would be too proud to say these word out loud to one another, which can be frustrating (JUST HUG EACH OTHER ALREADY), one can see the mutual respect they have for one another that is earned on the battlefield. I mean these two faced so many extinction level events for the safety of their people. Fellow redditer bigkr88 really puts this into powerful words:

“They fought, they suffered the same losses, they watched the same friends and loved ones die sometimes repeatedly, and in the end, it was always these two standing there on the remains of the battlefield.    They’re brothers in arms in a way that the word “friend” doesn’t BEGIN to describe what they were, and quite frankly after one died, it was only a matter of time before the other did. Wolverine was just a hypocritical killing machine without Cyclops to measure his morality against, and Cyclops was just an authoritarian rebel with a dying cause without Wolverine to show him what the dark side of their conflict could become.”    

Ultimately, both characters are at their best when they are together, fighting the monsters that want to see them dead. Therefore, to have them come back together and not miss a beat; to take on the oppressors that systematically eliminated their people feels good. It feels right. And they would think so too. We are witnessing comic greatness at its finest. We are witnessing a significant moment in the mutant and marvel ethos. Cyclops and Wolverine are back. They are not pulling punches. They are back with a vengeance to remind the world that the mutant species will not go out with a whimper, but with a bang.

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #11

A Review From Christopher Franey

Every X-Men story is the same…except this one is better.  Of course I have a bias since I’m a Cyclops fan from days of future past.  Matthew Rosenberg, Salvador Larroca, and the rest of the team created a great issue coming from the fallout of Disassembled and the X-Men presumed dead.  I love how this issue has three stories in it and how they connect and we see the three different viewpoints of Scott, Logan, and Ruth Aldine (Blindfold).  Now this issue will have heavy emotions and ramifications so be ready for it. 

The first story is from Scott’s view and how he is now dealing with a world that is accepting that the Mutants are dead and if there are any left that a “cure” will make sure they don’t stay that way or the children won’t become a Mutant either.  I like how Scott handles the hatred that he encounters and tries to turn the other cheek, but when he sees Blindfold being attacked it becomes another thing and he won’t stand for it.  She is of course very cryptic and revealing since she is “seeing” everything past, present, and future.  I would highly that you read her words a couple of times…I’ll admit it confused me.  After that Scott goes to Ben Urich to try and get his message out, but Ben tells him that it wouldn’t be a good idea in the modern situation, with even less Mutants.  So Scott drinks this revelation away but by his can shooting he attracted the attention of Multiple Man, who does play a big part in the issue as well.  Scott gets the cold shoulder from the Morlocks, Captain America, and, worst of all, the people.  This causes Scott to be attacked and then make a proclamation to get the surviving Mutants together, where it all began.  This of course attracts the attention of the Reavers, the Purifiers, and Sapien League to finish off the last X-Men…just to wind up doubling their troubles as Logan is back.  Scott and Logan do what they do best right here, and it has been a long time coming. 

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The second story, Wolverine Returns is up next…with art by John McCrea finally gives us the Logan we’ve been wanting, with the X-Men.  The story shows that Logan has been keeping some tabs on Scott and seems to be one step behind Scott in locations, but the interactions are totally different as both characters left the Mutants in different ways, either a hero or villain.  Most seem receptive to Wolverine and especially Blindfold and Cable as they want to make sure that Wolverine protects Cyclops.  Of course Wolverine is the best at what he does so Scott is safe.  The issue ends with the finally fight of Cyclops vs. everyone. 

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The final story is the Last Blindfold Story and this is the one that will be hard to read.  Imagine having an ability to see past, present, and future but the curse of not knowing when it is happening, and then being a Mutant in a world that hates and fears you?  That is the harshness that Ruth has to face every day in her life.  Juanan Ramirez does an amazing job of painting Ruth’s side of the interactions with Scott, Logan, and the rest of the world along with showing us the visions that plague Ruth.  We see that this young girl has had a lot thrust upon her and the hard thing to accept is knowing that people might just take advantage of you all the while calling you an abomination.  This story really did a great job of showing what Mutants in the Marvel Universe are going through with their gifts (as we see them).  I feel like Matthew Rosenberg put a lot into this character piece and it really shows.  This will be one of those strong moments that help us to remember why we need the X-Men. 

This was a great issue and I am looking forward to seeing how Scott’s new team will come together and what they will do…will it be a mission of peace or war?  Will they just want to stop the bad guys?  Will they rebuild Human/Mutant relations?  I’m just glad to see Cyclops and Wolverine back with the X-Men.  I give this issue (more like three) a high praise and it rates five out of five ruby quartz visors with me.  I know it comes with a high price tag, but it is well worth it for the stories that you’ll be treated to, as always read on and Excelsior!  

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Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Daredevil #1

A Review From Christopher Franey

Everything old is new again…but it’s not this time.  This time the Man without Fear will Know Fear.  There might be minor SPOILERS in this review and I would suggest that you read the issue yourself and I’ll try not to spill it all out here, but I will tell you this issue is worth your money and time.  Daredevil has been one of my favorite characters since I was a kid and I find myself checking out his adventures as often as I can.  We have been really lucky with the creative teams behind Daredevil, a real murders’ row.  Last time we saw DD he was killed by Charles Soule and then Jed MacKay revived him but planted seeds of fear and pain into Matt’s life.

Daredevils dead, long live Daredevil!  So the new creative team of Chip Zdarsky & Marco Checchetto are starting issue 1 off by doing some great world building.  They introduce us to their Matt Murdock and we get some great vibes of how he is, the inner conflicts he has, and it does nicely remind of us the Netflix show.  We have a new character of Detective Cole North who seems like a no nonsense kind of guy in a dirty department of police, so this will definitely be a challenge for Matt, a real hard nose cop.  We get more of Matt’s past and a new relationship with Father Cathal, which plays really nicely with Matt’s logic and morals.  This is a grate issue 1 and does the perfect job of setting up, introducing the players, and builds a hell of a conflict!

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The conflict is a tough one as well, we see that Matt wants people to know that Daredevil is still out there doing the job, Hell’s Kitchen is safe.  We get to see that DD is not quite what he used to be in his acrobats and also on his street fighting.  Which snowballs very fast and leaves us with a narrow escape for DD, a fire, a dead man, and some evidence…which you’ll have to read since I don’t want to spoil this treat.  This will build for some major conflict which I’m guess will come to a head in issue 3, based on covers. 

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Marco does an amazing job on the interior art, the first page in which we see Matt in costume needs to be a poster…ASAP!  We have seen Marco before on Daredevil and we were also treated to him teaming up with Spider-Man and Punisher in the Omega Effect, so this man has earned his horns.  Do yourself a favor and read it again and recommend to a friend.  I give this issue 5 out of 5 billy clubs, so as always read on and Excelsior! 

George Perez: The Man Who Survived A Crisis And The Infamous Snap

An Editorial From Christopher Franey

We are in witness to the ending of an era now that George Perez has announced his retirement from comics.  Now before we get to a sad moment, let us look at it this way…he is going out on his terms. Lots of writers, artists, editors, and many others get fired or downsized and their job is gone; George made it to the finish line and the best part is he will still be there at Conventions when he can, so you too can meet this amazing giant who is responsible for gather Titans and Avengers, showing us the darkest of evils, and some amazing eye candy along the way.

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    George was born June 9th of 1954, to family who hailed from Puerto Rico, in New York City which is probably where he gained his enjoyment of drawing big crowds of people and heroes.  The man is known mostly for his art skills but he is also a great collaborator and has written stories on his own as well. He has made major impact on the big two of comics, DC & Marvel, along with helping to bring about independent comics from companies such as CrossGen and Gorilla Comics.  I will try to give you a nice tour of his time at DC, Marvel, and his Independent works as well. I can honestly say that Mr. Perez is my favorite artist of all time, his drawings are iconic and the man is a great pleasure to meet, so full of life and discussion. I was lucky to have met him at SDCC back in 2004 and he gave me a Hal Jordan sketch…I’ll admit I was very nervous as this was meeting a superstar and I was the guy holding the last in line sign at DC’s booth, so I was worried I might not get much time with him, but we talked and he sketched.

    His first professional gig as an artist was penciling Marvel
Comics’ Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug ’74) working on Deathlok.  
This helped him out to being a regular for Marvel and working on
such titles as Sons of the Tiger, Creature on the Loose, Inhumans,
Fantastic Four, and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, and while on that
title he created the first Puerto Rican superhero, White Tiger.  

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    Now the big moment came with Avengers #141 in George became the artist of Marvel’s premier team.  This got him on big teams of colorful characters and also allowed him to have fun with characters such as Beast and Wonder Man, building their friendship.  With his Avengers membership, he drew the first part of Jim Shooter’s epic Korvac Saga featuring every Avenger at the time and co-created Taskmaster with David Michelinie.  While working on Fantastic Four Annual 14, this would partner him up with Marv Wolfman and forge a creative duo of massive legend, but we’ll talk more about that later.

    George would return to Marvel several times, in 1991 he would pencil the crossover event Infinity Gauntlet for Jim Starlin, but troubles from his DC event, War of the Gods, would cause him to not finish the Gauntlet.  Unfortunately this would cause a bad reputation as him not finishing projects, but luckily that would be disproven with future works. Later in the 90’s he would draw Hulk: Future Imperfect for Peter David and have another shot at the Avengers with Kurt Busiek; which in my opinion is something you should read on your bucket list.  

    DC Comics would also get the two creators, Wolfman & Perez, to revitalize the younger heroes with their launch of The New Teen Titans.  George also got a chance to be artist on Justice League of America after the famous Dick Dillin’s passing. His works for the distinguished competition helped to get him popular with fans.  Since George was a household name it was logical for him to partner up with Marv Wolfman for the big 50th anniversary event, DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.  As the event hyped, “worlds will live, worlds will die, and the DC Universe will never be the same!”  With this event not only did George draw some amazing splash pages, co-create the evil Anti-Monitor, he also drew pretty much most of DC’s catalogue of characters.  To add to his Crisis’ fallout works for DC he also drew the History of the DC Universe and inked Curt Swan’s last issue of Silver Age Superman for Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

    Now with those big DC events, George would have a major hand in the 87 reboot of Wonder Woman.  Greg Potter was the writer and George came along to join in as plotter and penciler, then eventually taking on full scripting for WW.  His run is very much a strong basis for the character that we see in modern times and it connected her to the Greek Gods even more; which I’m sure we will see some of his work on the big screen with the sequal to Wonder Woman’s movie.  Perez would return to the New Teen Titans with issue 50 and help build a new origin for Wonder Girl due to her having some troubles from Crisis. While with the Titans this would get him working with Marv again and together they would be reshaping some of the Batman mythos, esepcially with Dick Grayson.  The Batman Year Three story explored the Post-Crisis origin of Dick Grayson in which George drew the covers for and then did pencils for the story of A Lonely Place of Dying which would tie in with the New Teen Titans and give use the third Robin, Tim Drake; kind of making him the uncle to that Robin. I would high recommend reading Year Three (Batman 436-439) and A Lonely Place of Dying (Batman 440-442, New Titans 60 & 61).

    Perez would then go onto Post-Crisis Superman by being a part of Action Comics and Adventures of Superman.  Before the Crisis, Perez would be responsible for the Battle suit look of Lex Luthor, but in Post-Crisis Luthor went all Business suit instead.  George would get the chance to create a cross over in the New DC universe with War of the Gods spinning out of his Wonder Woman book, which was a great battle between the Greek Gods and Roman Gods, thus pitting Wonder Woman against Captain Marvel (Shazam); this also served as a 50th anniversary for Wonder Woman.  Unfortunately, as mentioned before, there was a major monkey wrench between George and DC Editorial at the time causing a split for DC and Perez.  Finally in ’96, Perez would return to Teen Titans with Dan Jurgens as his inker, since at this time he was the artist for Avengers with Busiek. The best is almost here…JLA/Avengers!

    Back in 1979 DC and Marvel were all set to give us the big matchup between their two greatest teams with Gerry Conway writing and George Perez as artist, but again with Editorial disputes the book was cancelled.  Sadly due to that cancellation we also lost the sequel to Uncanny X-men and New Teen Titans. Perez had already started working on pages of art for the big showdown, but we wouldn’t see for over two decades, or luckily for our younger fans, in the late nineties.  Perez was also working for independent comics but managed to keep a clause in his contract that would let him work on the JLA/Avengers crossover should it happen, and when it did George returned. He and Kurt Busiek created a tour de force of both universes and managed to feature every member of the two teams, even Wolverine (who wasn’t an Avenger at the time).  The cover to issue three is such a sight to see and George stated that it almost killed as he was so focused on it and forgot about his medication. Now you don’t need to know all about DC and Marvel but there are so many Easter Eggs that it helps, plus it has such great character moments that you should read this 4-issue crossover. Here is that beautiful cover:

    While at DC George would work on the Crisis sequel, Infinite Crisis, a new run of The Brave and The Bold, and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds; which gave us the return of Conner Kent Superboy and Bart Allen Impuse, who both have recently returned to the Post-Rebirth DCU.  Perez would help to launch the New 52 Superman in the self-titled book but again issues with editorial made it a frustration to work on. Wolfman and Perez would reunite to give us the graphic novel New Teen Titans: Games and Perez would work as artist on the New 52 version of Worlds’ Finest.  

    When George Perez wasn’t working for the big 2 companies he worked for various independent comics such as Malibu (drawing Break-Thru & Ultraforce), Tekno Comix (I-Bots), and Topps Comics (Jurassic Park). While at Event Comics he was able to have more creator owned projects such as Crimson Plague but sadly the project wasn’t finished, there was an attempt over at Gorilla Comics, but was too costly.  Over at CrossGen he worked on the CrossGen Chronicles and Solus, but cost was once again a factor and the company closed. Luckily at BOOM! Studios he has found fun and success with his own creation Sirens.

    George has won various awards as the Eagle Award, an Inkpot Award, Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards, and Jack Kirby Awards.  Several of his works continue to make many website’s “Best of” lists and his images are very universal due to his distinct art style.  We at Geek Elite Radio wish George the best in life and health now that he is retired and many great adventures with his wife Carol Flynn.  So dear reader if you get a chance to meet George Perez treat yourself and meet a fan who became a legend. Read on and Excelsior!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Man Without Fear #5

A Review from Chris Franey

The conclusion has come and we can see Matt on the other side…of what?  We will get to that.  So this is the miniseries that takes us from Charles Soule’s (fantastic) run to the new Chip Zdarsky & Marco Checchetto’s era on DD.  It did the job and then some!  Sometimes this minis can just get glossed over and I’m sure ol’ Hornhead fans bought it out of loyalty, but this was a great bridge from death to whatever DD faces next.  
Jed MacKay and his stable of artists: Danilo S. Beyruth, Stefano Landini, Iban Coello, and Paolo Villanelli gave justice to Matt Murdock during this transition from coma, to bedridden, to out the window.  Kyle Hotz had some amazing poster worthy covers to treat our eyes, especially this last one really showcasing Matt’s Catholicism.  Jed gave the man without fear some inner demons that put the fear and pain back in his life.  I liked the physical/mental representations of fear and pain being in Matt’s costumes and how they would come to terrorize him and berate him back down.   

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I like how Jed used Matt’s father as a great source of inspiration for what pain can be used for, “Pain keeps us going.”  That is a great mantra especially considering the beating a hero takes, and Matt fights in the streets.  This was refreshing and very honest in my opinion as with an ageing body you don’t mind pain, but fear of re injury does stop us from being the swashbuckler that we once were.  Nothing can stop you in your tracks like chronic pain and feeling of “uh oh,” but I like how Jed uses Matt’s father and the old stubborn Murdock pride to push forward and make it happen.  This is a great mini-series that will inspire you to take that step after being knocked down.

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To be very honest with you I bought this mini out of respect for DD and to keep my collection complete, but I was very surprised with the masterpiece that Jed and company delivered to us all.  If you missed out, then go back and get the back issues or buy the upcoming trade.  This ended on a great note and took a broken Daredevil and pushed him out the window.  I give this issue 5 out of 5 painkillers and enjoyed it’s inspiring message on how to keep pain and fear at bay.  Read on and Excelsior!

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