Greetings gentle readers. Yet another winter grinds to a halt, and the faint rays of the fresh Spring sun are just now taunting us with the promise of warmth and rebirth. Hope and happiness hang in the air like a faint touch of perfume. The Marvel chiefs have managed to lock some talent on their titles, and it looks like many of our favourite books are becoming readable once more. The online community is booming, with commercial success being enjoyed by several of our members and we may see more then one of us make the jump into professional comic writing.
However, my life is mired in the gutter right now, so I see absolutely no reason to make this Rave at all centered on love and hope. Nope, this one is about spleen and the venting of. I’ve cobbled together a dash of shining new tales which have raised the writer’s hairs on the back of my neck with the quality and ability of their pieces. Love and betrayal, hope and the death of dreams ride hand in hand together to suit my dark mood. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride. And remember, only the driver has an airbag...
Close Encounters Of The Lethal Kind is one of the more prominent works in the Idylls of the Cat arc by Luba Kmetyk. This immense crossover work is set during a visit to the main school by the members of Excaliber, and draws in characters from DV8, and Hellblazer. Surprisingly, Kmetyk handles the large cast with considerable skill, never losing hold of the members at anytime. The focus of the piece, Wisdom and Pryde shine in the bizarre twists and situations in which the characters exist. The general antagonism between Wisdom and Xavier is a treat to read, especially when increased by adding Ororo to the conflict. He is handled with some wonderfully caustic dialogue, vintage Wisdom which comes straight out of the character’s days under Ellis’ care. Kitty is strong and willful, going against her mentor figures in defense of the man sure loves. The entire piece engrossing in its focus on issues largely ignored by the industry, such as money, age, and emotional stresses based on looks. Logan in particular amongst the X-Men is well written, his Claremontesque wise man persona deftly woven into the storyline.
It is often said that a good writer constantly re-invents themselves every so often. In this tradition, Mousies has decided that she has come of age, so to speak, and presented us with a decidedly adult handle and story. Death's Country by Nightfall is a delightful poisonous pill to swallow. Angelo is haunted by images of death within the school, and manifestations of a girl who is Death herself. In a frightening progression of images and nightmares, the images intensify and increase. Is Angelo being given a chilling window into his future, or is madness overtaking him? The possible duality is a strange but well done twist which keeps the piece interesting and new. Angelo is well placed to be the recipient of the foreboding images, and his tragic fight against them gives the work a true empathic quality. Ah, the coming of age...
Tag by Dr. Benway is a fascinating piece based around the pairing of Rogue and Kitty during the pre-Fall of the Mutants days of the X-Men. Rogue, still new and distrusted by the X-Men, is asked to talk with a confused and unsure Kitty Pryde. Neither is really interested in talking with the other, but quickly the two characters find an emotional common ground. Rogue is especially well written, a true mirror of the days that she had both a personality and dignity. The stories of her days with the Brotherhood are told from the viewpoint of a girl who made no judgements on her peers. In a few sentences, villains such as Pyro and the Blob are given human reactions and drives. The recollection of Fred Dukes attempts to learn to read really reach a chord in the reader, the charming image of a twelve year old Rogue going over ‘The Hobbit’ beside the bulk of Dukes is one that stays in the forefront of your mind. Kitty is well handled, though no new ground is broken during the piece.
It’s been mentioned that a large number of the Scribe’s works seem to show up when I do reviews, votes and praises. And, in all fairness, that is true. The fact is that Kielle is a talented writer, one with a unique sense of emotion, humour and characterizations. Behind The Mirror is a stunning example of those very traits. Based around Sequoia Swennes' Shadows in the Mirror , it provides a clean and intelligent supplement to the original work. Emma Frost, the protagonist of the work is in sterling form, both intelligent and vicious when need be, completely composed and fearless in the face of great power. The reactions of the crowd and the changed characters are wonderfully done, meshing perfectly with the reactions later on in the original piece. The extrapolative work shows a new facet to the idea of Xavier’s ‘Dream’, a dark and chilling obsession which consumes the mind and drives of a man. Chilling and fascinating in one work, with the cold wit and verve of Emma Frost to drive home the harsh realities of the situation.
Sequoia Swennes has come to surprise the community with a sudden barrage of well-crafted and throughly entertaining works. Her ambitious work Risen is drawing great interest online, and the disturbing alternate reality piece Shadows In The Mirror was featured as the coveted C-Fan Feature. Even the wickedly sarcastic Home Sweet Home , co-written with yours truly has drawn great attention. Torn is an in depth and sensitive look at the Scott-Jean-Logan triangle. Taking the viewpoint of an existing ongoing affair between Jean and Logan, Sequoia holds back nothing with her emotional turmoil of Jean. She is the one torn between the emotions which bind her to both men, both ties strong and legitimate. It attempts to explain the often confusing relationship between the three, and show the reasons why is can persist. The work is honest and inventive, and well worth the time.
A super powerful mutant joins the X-Men, and spends the next few pages besting them and one of their powerful arch villains. Sounds a little like ‘X’, doesn’t it? Well, the difference is in the intention of the writer and the quality of the work. The massive The Archetype Association by James McBriarty is a surprisingly complex and engrossing work, drawing on a tremendously eclectic range of influences and ideas. The central character, Will Riley is a fascinating mix of ideas and beliefs, with some truly inspired dialogue and characterization. McBriarty is an unabashed Heinlein fan, sayings and concepts of his running all through out the book. Also included are rather extensive cooking sequences, lessons in Quantum Physics and Mechanics, Jungian psychology, Wicca, and Celtic folklore. The piece is tremendous in both depth and scale, McBriarty as comfortable with bending space-time as with assessing modern art. His protagonist end sup engaged in a relationship with Rogue, who is written as an emotionally defensive young woman, not a weak-willed sop like her mainstream counterpart. Their relationship develops and matures with a believable speed and difficulty and makes the trials they face all the more satisfying. Along with extremely well-written dialogue and characterizations, the story also contains some truly awful puns which come without warning. Considering the Heinlein fixation and the nature of Will’s powers to create teleportation ‘doors’, I keep waiting for him to visit Scott and Jean using ‘a door into Summers’. Riley’s own personality is similar to that of Saint Alex from ‘JOB’, tremendous power yet a tool for something beyond his perception, and trying to find a life in the middle ground. McBriarty also tries to bring psionic abilities into the plane of science, explaining them in both Quantum and psychological terms. The use of the Meyers-Briggs test is an interesting insight into the motivations of the main character, his INFP label providing a certain amount of insight to those who know the system. As an INTP, I feel kinship with the lad. This is an intelligent and engrossing work, demanding of the reader. It is also very long, but unlike many massive arcs, it feels like it has a definite beginning, middle, and end and that it just hasn’t been written to that finish yet.
Finally, we have White by Min. Although I have reviewed this work before, new material has made it necessary to revisit it. Min, with her usual skill has taken her pair of main characters and removed them from their cell. Bobby is possessed by the creature know as Mountjoy and Emma is forced to work with him to save Bobby, a man she is slowly discovering that she has feelings for. Min literally explodes when she removes her characters from the confines of the prison. The stiffness and turgid mental anguish which served to slow the piece in earlier chapters finally meshes with the exterior actions, dazzling the reader with it’s skill and intensity. Emma is an incredibly sympathetic character, fully rendered in a few brilliant sentences. She lacks the sharp wit of other writers incarnations, but possesses such a rich range of emotions and thoughts that it is impossible to ignore her. Mountjoy, a normally forgettable stock villain, amazingly takes on a tragic edge, a creature lost to drugs and circumstance. Like The Tempest’s Caliban, Mountjoy seems destined to remain a creature of servitude, to be used as a pawn by whom ever latches to him next. Pity rather then anger is the emotion associated with him, escalating even as he grows dangerously more unstable. Bobby is fairly minor in the sections, trapped in his own mind, unable to act. It is Emma that Min shines through, deftly balancing the complex emotions and situations with enviable ease. The formality of the earlier chapters settles nicely into a more natural flow of conversation and description and the verbose nature of the first chapters balances into a richly woven, yet not forced environment in which the complex characters interact. As I said before, the best ongoing Emma Frost series on the net, bar none.
Well, that’s my take for this month. Angst, hope, love and death all rolled into a jagged little bonbon of life. While I dwell on my financial concerns, fading professional prospects and suddenly disastrous love life, it’s nice to know that at least some people, imaginary or otherwise, have it worse and still possess hope. Enjoy the peace while you can, since I have ever intention of returning next month with another load of praise and bile to use in this fashion. As always, comments are welcomed at this address and objections to my reviews are tactfully reviewed and responded to with a devastatingly brilliant counter argument sure to make such dissenter ashamed they ever held opinions as completely misguided as they did. ‘Til the morrow then...