The new principal of Riverdale High, Mr. Stanger, continues to make unwelcome changes. In this issue, Jughead has to deal with Coach Eng, a tough guy who takes an instant dislike to him. Jughead doesn't want detention, but how's he supposed to avoid if the new rules seem designed to send everybody there?
I liked this issue even more than the first, I think because of the dream sequence. This time, Jughead was visited by January McAndrews, a member of the time police and a descendant of Archie Andrews from the 29th century.
In her time period, her town was being destroyed by a descendant of Reggie Mantle. Jughead's first reaction was to assume that they'd have to kill Reggie to save the future (in his dreams he tends to be a bit more casual about the deaths of people he knows than I'd like), but January stopped that thought in its tracks. Killing Reggie would change the timeline, and they weren't allowed to do that, so they had to figure out another way to deal with the situation.
I enjoyed all the action (January and her enormous gun!), Jughead's plan, and the idea it gave him for dealing with Coach Eng's obstacle course.
Like I said in my review of the first issue, one of the reasons I started reading this was because of the news that Jughead is explicitly revealed to be asexual in the fourth issue. Just like the first issue, this one has a hint of what's to come. It's an even stronger hint than the one in the first issue (this time around, Jughead avoids a kiss from January and says “Sorry, just not into kissing”), but yeah, the explicit mention coming up in the fourth issue is still a good thing, because even this could be interpreted multiple ways.
I'm interested to see how things go in the next issue, since Jughead is going to be faced with a bigger problem than the possibility of detention.
Whoops, almost forgot the extra comic at the end. Just like there first issue, there's a classic Jughead comic at the end. This time around, I popped out of guided view and skimmed it. Still not to my taste.
(Original review, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
It wasn't at all what I though it would be. It was far better than anything I had come up with, in fact. This issue is all about Archie and Veronica's relationship and why it imploded. I feel so much sympathy for Betty: she didn't deserve what was dumped on her, especially since others sort of insisted that she go against her nature.
As strong as anyone in, giving into pressure is something we all do at one point or another. And Betty did do this to try and get Archie's attention, since she was told it would. It doesn't help that he agreed that he looked at girls who were all glamed up, so I can see why Betty would wonder why he likes them like that, but not her...
Looking forward to the next issue.
And I'm loving this! Not just because of the ace representation. It's charming, it's quirky, it's cute, it's funny.
This is a nearly flawless book. (I still am not crazy about the art's stylistic choices, nor the fact that the first two issues feature an older Jughead comic at the back. These new comics are so different from the older ones, that it just doesn't make sense to me. I love everything new about Jughead, but nothing old. I'd rather have less pages, even if I paid the same price.)
And the hints at his sexuality are there. Well, not hints, so much as the biggest clues ever for the clueless.
I wasn't 100% sure it had been planned from the start given last issue; it could have been something they'd redact, or just laugh off later on, but this cinches it. Two of these 'ew, gross, people touching me?' lines in a row? Yeah, Zdarsky planned this.
Even if he hadn't, though, there is enough humor and fun in this for me to continue. Also, drama and tension now. There was a slight bit in these first issues, but things are coming to a head now.
Can't wait for issue three.
I'm betting they don't. After all, this is one of those red-headed step children Marvel has, the ones that they don't even admit exist on their website. They are so embarrassed by this, they don't even admit it exists.
When I read this so often it fell apart, and bought a second issue one just in case my first one really, really fell apart, the owner of the small comic store flat out told me, "it's not that good."
And he's right. It is not Marvel's best work, but it's not nearly bad enough to be completely disowned. And it's a dark and angsty AU that really got under my skin. Five stars worth? Well, yeah, it's my jam, it's actually much better than I remember - except a couple embarrassingly bad art panels, and it's a fun ride.
What surprised me most was how much I liked this decades later. When Cyclops' brother, Alex Summer (AKA Havok) dies, and a counterpart in a darker world dies at the same time, an accident involving a time machine somehow ends up sending Havok's spirit into his counterpart's body. He wakes up, remembering the world all slightly different, and convinced that this is some hallucination or another attempt to mess around with his mind.
Storm, now Bloodstorm, is a vampire. The Angel is The Fallen, a darker version of himself after Apocalypse turned him into the Horseman of Death, with leathery wings and razor sharp claws at the tips of his fingers and very little compassion - or emotions in general. The Beast experimented on himself, and turned himself more powerful but with far less intellect. He now calls himself The Brute. Bobby Drake - Bob - has been held hostage by Loki, who's machine was meant to amplify his powers to give more power to the Frost Giants. It did. Bob is always in his organic ice form, and anything he touches turns to ice - and if it's organic, it dies. Havok is who Cyclops was: the only survivor of a plane accident that killed his whole family, and he's married to Madelyne Pryor-Summers, a woman who looks exactly like his ex-girflriend Jean Grey/Ariel. (Maddie goes by Marvel Woman, or the Goblin Queen, and seems to have made deals with demons who kidnapped her and Alex's son, Scotty, named after Alex's brother. Maddie may have sold part of her soul as part of this deal, as she heavily implies this in the first issue.) After this, the 'Inferno Event', Maddie's telekinetic powers switched on, coming into play. They were latent up until this point, it should be noted.
These six make up The Six, one group of superheroes, in a world that accept mutants. Oh, it's not all bad, but so much of it is darker. The X-Men are led by Magneto, who took over at his friend Charles Xavier's bidding since Xavier was dying. Nick Fury and SHIELD are anti-mutant. Things feel very strange and very wrong.
It wasn't a bad idea. It wasn't a bad execution. It might not have gotten very far, people may remember the unrelated TV show named Mutant X more than this, but the concept holds up. It feels different and exciting reading it once again. It surprises me how this was shunned, forgotten, and pushed aside.
All I can think is of that disdain: "It's not that good."
I'd argue that it's not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. It tried something fairly different. It wasn't just an AU because and with no reason: it had a backstory, it had a way to get Alex back to his universe in case Marvel decided to bail - which they obviously did in the end, and it was some pretty solid AU work. Who says Apocalypse would have screwed around with Warren in only one way? Doesn't it sound like Loki to use Bobby to try and gain more power for himself, and damn the consequences for anyone else? What if Hank's experimentation with his powers hadn't had such relatively benign results? What if Storm had been killed by Dracula? (He's tried to turn her a couple times, and seeing as he, and vampires, do exist in the Marvel Universe, him trying to recruit superheroes and mutants actually seems logical.) This was well planned. This was a thoughtful examination of the what ifs.
Alex was also really well done: instead of throwing us into an AU, Marvel used a relatable main character, who had good reason not to know anything, who was just as baffled by the newness as the audience was. He was the Alex we knew, so he was by no means a blank slate, but he gave us a nice reason for everything to be explained. We shared in his experiences, felt that sense of terror when he realized how different the world was along with him. Choosing to use Alex as a full character, and yet someone in our exact circumstances as we learned to navigate this world along with him, made this series all that more deliciously exciting in my mind.
"It's not that good."
Apparently Marvel agreed, and still does. I still disagree. I might have felt a terror of sorts, might have given a shaky laugh before. I didn't know quite how to pull apart what worked, and explain it back when I was a teenager, though. I hadn't read widely enough to realize that some things might not be the best of the best, might not be literary masterpieces, but that I could enjoy them nonetheless. I wasn't confident to hold my head up high and say, "I guess you don't think so. Thank you for your input, but I'll purchase my second issue elsewhere."
I didn't realize how much that bothered me, how much brushing this series off bugged me. Perhaps it was far better than you gave it credit for. Perhaps it simply didn't matter to me that it wasn't that good. I'm not going to argue that it was. It wasn't as sophisticated as The Dark Phoenix Saga. It didn't have the humor and heart of Wolverine and the X-Men. But Mutant X had its own charms, and it was a fun, fun ride. I've put off rereading this for far too long. I look forward to continuing.
By the way, Elektra as Scotty's nanny was an amazing cameo.