Interceptor # 1
(Heavy Metal – Writer: Donny Cates. Artist: Dylan Burnett.)
Interceptor # 1 introduces Poli and Weep – a warrior and a scavenger, respectively. They’re stranded on a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland full of vampires. Good thing they’re armed with a badass mech suit and some lasers. It’s like Serenity meets Planet of the Vampires and it’s friggin’ awesome!
Donny Cates’ script sets up the book’s world nicely. It starts at humanity’s new home, Palus, and it’s three hours and fifteen minutes into Dominic O’Connor’s first term as President. The President’s advisors explain a secret war that’s been going on since humanity left Earth. The cover story was that Earth was used up, but the real reason was because Earth had a Dracula problem. Overridden by bloodsucking parasites, humanity fled the planet and then set off its nuclear arsenal more out of spite than in genuine hopes of killing the bastards. It didn’t work. And what’s worse, the vampires know just where humanity went.
Dylan Burnett’s art and colors are fantastic. Palus is a pastel-drenched paradise while Earth is heavy with black and red. It isn’t until Poli lands on Earth to exterminate the undead vermin that neon starts to explode all over the book. Burnett draws a lot of big set pieces, but not at the expense of his storytelling. It’s so easy to get lost in such a big book, but Burnett keeps the reader in story.
Taylor Esposito’s lettering is super strong too. He does a lot of heavy lifting to accentuate each character’s voice. Poli’s word balloons are a hospital scrub green and the vampires’ balloons are black with white text (an inverse of the humans). It’s a great touch to the book!
Interceptor # 1 balances its humor and horror by doubling down on its concept. It’s a crazy sci-fi future where humanity’s worst impulses led to an intergalactic quagmire (and probable bloodbath). Cates and Burnett have a lot to play with for this five issue miniseries and they’re off to a helluva start!
Uncanny X-Men #1
(Marvel – Writer: Cullen Bunn. Artist: Greg Land.)
Last week, Marvel dropped Uncanny X-Men, its newest X-series in their all-new, all shook up universe. The book is presented with an interesting twist: this X-team is made of bad guys! But are they really bad if they’re fighting for mutant rights and mutant lives?
I finally made time to check out the first trade collection of writer Cullen Bunn’s Magneto solo book that I unfortunately kept putting off. Magneto is sharply written, managing to flesh out an already well-known character through a “less is more” approach to dialogue and characterization.
I dig the heel/baby face “tweener” concept and I was most psyched for Uncanny X-Men of all the renewed X-titles. Since I’m feeling good, I’ll start with my likes. I feel Magneto leading a crew of some of the X-Men’s more wayward members has lots of room to grow. Who is being selfish, who is overly righteous, who is just misguided? Who will accuse the other X-teams of not going far enough? The mystery that starts off issue #1 is strong: how many mutants have fallen for Someday Enterprises’ scam of hiding in suspended animation? Any “name” mutants in those canisters?
The art team (Greg Land on pencils, Jay Leisten on inks and Nolan Woodard on colors) really brings it in Uncanny X-Men. Land’s photographic art is great for capturing expressions. His mood and tone are somber and dark, something that is lacking in the Extraordinary… and All-New… books. Woodard and Leisten really bring the pages to life (say when a dark and shadowed, yet defined, Archangel flies out of a bright explosion.) Their use of luminous color washes in the panels where mutants are flexing their powers brings a nice, ethereal touch.
Okay, now with the less than good. The exposition and dialogue in Uncanny X-Men is almost painfully heavy-handed. Each character has a set up much like Magneto’s first appearance: “Hi, my name is so-and-so and here are my super powers!” Yes, some manner of introduction is necessary, but having the same reveal for each of the characters is monotonous. Then we have Magneto’s inner monologue made exterior. I thought that as comics got more sophisticated in recent years, these dialogue balloons were made into silent thought boxes, so we can see what someone is thinking but don’t have to feel they’re announcing everything to the world. And it also reduces the corniness. It makes me feel like I’m reading a book from the late ’80s or early ’90s. I like the seriousness Land brings in his drawings, but Sabretooth’s musculature is too exaggerated and M’s facial expressions are a tad too sexual.
I’m going to have to let Uncanny X-Men marinate for a bit, see how it feels after a second reading and a few more issues. I’m sure the various X-teams will cross paths, and that could lead to some interesting scenarios, but I’m hoping the creative crew will hold off on that for a while. Let’s see what kind of trouble our antiheroes get into on their own before any run ins, which will surely lead to moralistic chest-thumping between the teams.
To end on a positive note, I believe we get an entire issue of X-Men that does not mention Scott Summers!