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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Wednesday, July 21, 2004

We're running shorter-than-usual columns this week to keep TOT daily while World Famous Comics web-wizard Justin is in San Diego attending Comic-Con International. Today, dipping into my recent Comics Buyer's Guide reviews, I'm looking at the premiere issues of two new Marvel Comics series.

District X 1

DISTRICT X #1 [Marvel Comics; $2.99] by writer David Hine and artist David Yardin was an easy sell for me. I'm a sucker for cops and super-beings. I've known and worked with many policemen, most good, some bad, one who threatened to shoot me over a disagreement about his driving skills or lack thereof. I've know and worked with a lot of the super-beings, too, albeit not in this particular reality.

"District X" is a section of New York City populated by low and no-income people, a good number of whom are mutants. If there is a nicer part of the district, we haven't see it yet. Hine and Yardin take us on a virtual ride-along with two officers. Grizzled veteran Gus could use sensitivity training. Partner Izzy has his back, perhaps too much so. The issue ends with one of them meeting a new partner: Bishop, formerly of the X-Men.

Hine's scripting impressed me. He established speech patterns for his leads early on and stuck with them. He put them in realistic situations for Marvel Universe policemen. With Yardin, he created a real world within that universe. If this title keeps it as real in future issues, I'm on board for them.

Excalibur 1

Does Marvel publish too many X-Men titles? My gut answer on that would be "probably." Even if I had the time, I wouldn't read all of them. However, I'll always give the benefit of the doubt to any new X-Men title that comes at Marvel's mutants from a different standpoint.

Such is the case with EXCALIBUR #1 [$2.99].

Charles Xavier has traveled to the devastated island-nation of Genosha, once a place of hope that "baseline" humans and mutant humans could live and work and thrive as one people. He has come with the most noble intention: to help its people to the best of his considerable ability. This first issue sets up the basic situations, introduces a few characters, and ends on one heck of a surprise.

Writer Chris Claremont does an outstanding job setting the scene and the mood. Despite not having read the comic books which chronicled the attack on Genosha, I felt completely in the loop. Additionally, Claremont lightened the understandable grimness of the new series's reality with a clever, honestly amusing encounter between Unus the Untouchable and a young mutant called Freakshow. This might be the best use of Unus ever.

Aaron Lopresti's pencils were good enough from a storytelling outlook, but his figures could and should have been more dynamic, more natural, and less "pose-y." The "Liquid!" coloring was first-rate throughout. Kudos also to Tom Orzechowski; after all these years, his lettering on any X-Men book still looks absolutely right to me, almost a seal of approval.

This is another title I'll be sticking with as long as future issues are as good as this one.

I'll catch up on subsequent issues of DISTRICT X and EXCALIBUR in future columns. In the meantime, thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow.

Tony Isabella

<< 07/20/2004 | 07/21/2004 | 07/22/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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