We’re still reviewing some of the books I picked up at the discount store that I mentioned last week. And since I wrote that article, I made a second trip out and picked up ANOTHER JSA trade that they had for sale, so I’m still stocking up on those.
So since I have noticed the sale, I’ve picked up two JSA books and two X-Men books. Having covered one of the former, let’s take a look at one of the latter…
TITLE: Amazing X-Men: World War Wendigo
Writer and Artist: Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Kathryn Immonen, Ed McGuinness, Carlo Barberi, and Paco Medina. Whew!
Protagonists: The X-Men. And kind of The Avengers
Antagonists: So many Wendigos!
This was $4! The JSA book from last week was $3! I love Ollie’s, man.
World War Wendigo is an X-Men arc that took place in Amazing X-Men. Amazing X-Men is most notable as the title that brought Nightcrawler back from the dead in its previous volume. I honestly did not even know that the AXM book continued on after that arc, as I thought it was just a mini-series to revive Kurt. This is the problem I brought up forever ago… there are too many X-books! They pop in and out of existence every year, and it’s impossible to ever keep up with what was published when and how long it lasted. It’s not even like Amazing Spider-Man where they at least have the decency (?) to just reboot the same title over and over. With X-Men, every year a new book is released with a different adjective or color scheme as the title enhancer. It’s infuriating! Every time I think I couldn’t hate constant renumbering more, something like this happens.
Also, doesn’t this make comics HARDER to read? Or LESS ACCESSIBLE? Because whereas I empathize with the idea that if we never renumbered, Uncanny X-Men would be on issue #700, and that figure would scare off new readers, isn’t it easier to just wait until a new storyline starts and pick up from there? If Uncanny X-Men #721 is called “They Fight Mesmero Again, part 4 of 4!”, I can wait one month and feel comfortable that I’ll get a fresh start. But when there are fifteen different X-Titles all with different names and creative teams in the last four years, I have no idea where to start!
I’ve hijacked this article with being curmudgeonly. This is supposed to be where I summarize the story before I get into my thoughts, so here goes:
The X-Men fight a whole mess of Wendigos! It all turns out okay.
There’s actually a one-off story to start this trade where Firestar and Iceman meet up with Spider-Man and have an adventure based around an alien baby. It’s not great. It’s an attempt to cash in on some Amazing Friends nostalgia, but it’s uneven, nonsensical, and worst of all… not as funny as it means to be. Not a great start to this trade; it tries, but it just feels like a miss.
The Wendigo story itself is a little better. I have always had an affinity for Wendigo because some of the first comics I can remember getting were X-Men Classics reprints of Wolverine and Nightcrawler fighting Wendigo in Canada. This story does some good and some bad, so let’s break it apart…
The good is in the development of Jean-Paul Beaubier in this series. Northstar maintains his air of elitism that he has always had, but the idea that he has softened and becomes more empathetic is carried across well even as it flies in the face of his own inner monologue. He risks his life not only to save a young girl, but also do something as mundane as reunite her with her father once they are safely on American soil. Even after meeting back up with his sister, Aurora, and having her condescend to him about his softened edges, he proves to be a hero who has undergone growth and change. Northstar was never a character I was particularly enamored of, but this book made me care and want to follow more of him.
We’ll call this next bit a mixture of positive and negative: the story is funny. There are some quality exchanges, most notably early on between Nightcrawler and Colossus (“So! I heard you were a wanted murderer and fugitive! How exciting! Are you still painting, too?”) and the playfully antagonistic relationship between Storm and Iceman (“I cannot believe Professor Xavier chose you to be an X-Man”/“I know, right?”). The dialogue is witty throughout. The downside of this is that the story is trying to have weight with a possibly world-ending infection and characters being mutilated and badly injured, but it never relents with the jokes, so the mood is all over the place. I tried to stay in the moment of the tension when a character is having her wounds cauterized, but then it would throw in the male X-Men all thinking about not throwing up as an attempt at levity. So the humor was appreciated early on, but by the end, it had worn out its welcome.
Moving more clearly into the aspects I did not care for, this arc takes a hard turn in the back half and stops being as much about heroes fighting a monster contagion and becomes about the X-Men entering the Spirit Realm and dealing with the Great Beast Gods. It’s not particularly interesting, and it’s resolved when the Great Beasts give the X-Men the powers of gods… but it doesn’t matter because the day is saved when Vindicator just blasts through the Wendigo god’s chest. With that, the curse of the Wendigo is forever eradicated, with comic book definition of “forever” being that that this story was from 2014, so they are probably already back.
Talking Point: The idea of the Wendigo is that it’s a Canadian curse placed on anyone who eats human meat, and the plot device to get there is pretty creative in this one. I don’t really have a talking point; I just like that conceit. So, uh, what are “characters” that aren’t bound to a single being can you think of?
The Amazing Friends opener is the kind of single issue tale that is usually handled better than it is here, and the Wendigo story has peaks and valleys. I do dig the art, which I didn’t mention above. All told, it’s maybe SLIGHTLY below average for me.If you come across it, check it out, but don’t feel driven to go hunting for it.