Thursday, July 31, 2003

X-Men Unlimited #50 - A Review

Written by: Kazuo Koike and Kenjo Kaji
Penciled by: Paul Smith
Inked by: Paul Smith
Colored by: Brad Anderson
Lettered by: Randy Gentle
Editor: C.B. Cebalski
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Once again, somewhere in Texas…

*sound of a log-in to AIM chime*

DARKLORD69: Hello, Matt.

DBowiefan34: Oh hey… sorry for the lag. The workload for this summer class is kicking my-

DARKLORD69: I need you to do something special this week. X-Men Unlimited #50.

DBowiefan34: What? But you know how overworked I am! Ignoring the classwork I’m behind on, half the staff at my shop has taken the week off for GenCon. I’m the only experienced salesman left until Saturday!

DARKLORD69: You’re the only one who can do this, Matt. I need one of your funny intros for this one.

DBowiefan34: What? You mean, the ones where you call me, do the Darth Vader act and I produce more whine than the French countryside?


DBowiefan34: I dunno. I’m not sure those are going over that well. I mean, nobody ever writes me to say those are funny.

DARKLORD69: I think they’re amusing.

DBowiefan34: Yeah, but it’s not real. I mean, we’ve never talked on the phone! We just chat through AIM and e-mail. That’s it.

DARKLORD69: But it’s that whole comedy ethos thing! We’re tapping into an archtype as old as.. well, Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson. Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Me the petty editor tyrant. You the long suffering everyman!

(Two minutes idle)

DBowiefan34: You’re still upset about Doom getting killed aren’t you?

(Two minutes idle)

DARKLORD69: *sobs* Yes… yes, I am!

DBowiefan34: And it would make you feel better if I did the “cowering in fear of the evil overlord” act for you?

DARKLORD69: *sobs* If you don’t mind?

DBowiefan34: *sighs* Couldn’t you just get your girlfriend to dress up like Jean Grey or something? Wouldn’t that cheer you up more?

DARKLORD69: *sobs* She won’t wear the wig….

DBowiefan34: Okay… fine. But I want to try something different. More truthful of how our working relationship is.

DARKLORD69: Will it still be amusing?

DBowiefan34: Oh, I have an idea that has me laughing already…

(Several hours, one trip to the comic store and one call investigating the cost of sending an escort in a Jean Grey costume to St. Louis…)

Okay. Now I know that Wolverine has some background in Japan and that some writers have made great play of his past, his roninesque code of honor and the rich and beautiful history that encompass all of the Japanese culture and the warrior tradition. Sadly, most writers have ignored this and crapped out a lot of stories with Wolverine cutting up ninjas.

For those of you who actually enjoy this kind of story, I can highly recommend this issue for you. For those of you who, like me, stopped thinking having ninjas just for the sake of having ninjas was cool about the time you discovered how wonderful girls are… I recommend rereading Birds of Prey, Outsiders, Teen Titans, Futurama, Lucifer… or indeed, anything else that came out this week.

The plot is generic and could feature any martial arts hero; not just Wolverine. Logan is walking through a village. Why? No reason.

He sees a woman get attacked my several henchman and does nothing. She kicks butt and is approached by the grand bad guy. Now Logan steps in, saves her and finds out that the bad guy is after the woman’s sword, which is a “Magical Artifact of Great Power” TM. Wolverine winds up using the sword, finds out that it traps the souls of those it slays and could be very bad in the hands of someone evil.

The bad guy shows up, Logan fights… bad guy is absorbed by the sword since he is too weak to confront his own demons (which Logan is quite adept at) and the story ends with Logan destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom… er, destroys the magic sword in the fires of an iron foundry.

The artwork, simply put, is horrid…even for an anthology book with a rotating creative team like X-Men Unlimited. The pencils look unfinished at points and the inks are sloppy. Still, for a story so heavily influenced by the chop-saki world of Kung Fu movies and Manga comics, it is a pleasant surprise that they used an artist with a more Western artistic style (as I assume Paul Smith is a Western name).

I openly admit to being a bit overly harsh, but I am not the intended audience for this book. I’ve never heard of the writers involved or the artist, but what I’ve seen here makes me ill-inclined to seek out any more of their work. I’m not a fan of anthology books on the whole. And the last thing this world needs right now is more ADWS. (Another Damned Wolverine Story!) Thankfully, this is the last issue of the series and it is no big loss to the world.

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