But even from an in-universe perspective, the X-men's job is to protect and train mutants, and to fight threats to all of humanity...

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August Reads, 2014.

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So, not a big month this time around.

With no issues of Wonder Woman, Hawkeye, or Uncanny X-Men, I only read 8 new books this month.

As always, if there's something you think I'd like to check out based on how I rate books here, I'm always appreciative of suggestions :v

This week I'm starting with my main pick, Marc Guggenheim and Harvey Tolibao sensational first issue of X-men, #18...

<(not generally a big fan of splash pages, but I think this illustrates some of the strengths Tolibao brings to the table..)

List items

  • X-men (vol.4) #18

    I totally went into this book with no expectations, having never read Guggenheim's work before and not generally being a fan of the X-men in space, but this is probably one of the most satisfying issues of any X-men book in quite a while. Having the first two pages be essentially re-drawn pages from another comic I've already read put me off at first, but it does play into the story in a relevant way. And I can't help but feel that be making reference to a sort of more obscure X-men story was Guggenheim's way of saying "don't worry, I know these characters; I've done my homework" (much like Whedon did at the start of his run), so it was at least reassuring.

    And beyond the first two pages was just fantastic. Some of the richest storytelling, intrigue, action, and character beats we've seen in a while. And it was pretty cool to see the team all working off each other in a more focused and balanced way than we've seen. I really felt like this cast could be something special, and in this issue they really are. Also liked how Brand and Beast were used in this (and are they teasing that Brand's getting a new boyfriend?), as well as Cecilia. Though it does seem weird that they would get her for the role they had her in, since I'd never heard of her having any particular expertise with alien physiology, but it's still pretty great to see her working with this team, so I can let that go.

    There were a few things I could be critical of, like how Monet seemed a bit out of character, but at least she's starting to play off the rest of the group, which is good. Tolibao's surface style is a bit weird to me, but I still think the art was very solid. I'd give this issue a 9.5 or 10/10 (which I almost never do); just really great stuff all around.

  • All-new X-factor #12

    Nobody writes Quicksilver like Peter David, that's just all there is to it. David just gets him on some intrinsic level that no other writer seems to even be aware of, like he was writing the story of an old friend he's known for years.

    And Quicksilver definitely takes all the best, most surprising scenes this issue, as he confronts Havok, an old enemy, a love he thought he'd lost, and the sins of his past, all in a refreshingly human way.

    And if that's all the issue was, I'd have enjoyed it. But we also get more great plot twists in a confrontation between Gambit and Snow, a tender scene between Cypher and Georgia, and an adorable, heartwarming scene between Warlock and Danger.

    In some ways this is a bit of a downtime issue, but with the amount of great interpersonal drama, it still never feels like it slows down. Or, it only slows down enough to get a better look at Quicksilver; either way, just further proof that this is one of marvel's most consistently good books, at least an 8 or 9/10.

  • She-Hulk #7

    This is the kind of story I love She-hulk for. Totally self-contained one-off story with a whacky premise, hilarious use of guest stars, and genuinely thoughtful character development.

    Also there was that artfully foreshadowed surprise at the end, and the return of Javier Pulido's art just made the whole issue a treat for the eyes. 9/10.

  • Cyclops #4

    This series continues to be a pleasant surprise. The art is just gorgeous, and the intense, character-driven story just gets better and better with each issue.

    I know a lot of people aren't interested in this book because it features the time-displaced Cyclops from the past, which I can get, because it is a pretty ridiculous conceit for a premise..

    -BUT! ridiculous premise aside, this issue is just one of the best Cyclops stories I've ever read (and I've read practically all of them); seriously, if you're any kind of Cyclops fan at all, at least give this one issue a chance, it really is a great issue. Like, 9/10 at least.

  • Storm #2

    There's a lot to like about this series so far, especially if you're already a Storm fan, but even for those unfamiliar with the character, these first two issues have served as a great re-introduction to the character as well, establishing her relevant history and character relationships.

    Here we see her relationship with Calisto explored, and while that could have easily been a string of weary tropes for both characters, Pak still manages to make it seem relevant by adding a new perspective to it.

    I'm really enjoying her good cop/bad cop relationship with Beast, who's starting to become one of my favorites again primarily based on his role in this book. They just compliment each other so well.

    A bit of a personal nit-pick would be of Wolverine as Storm's intimate confidant which, though it serves the plot well enough, seems a bit superfluous. It's not that I dislike them as a couple, I think they're pretty great, in general, but I feel like his role in this story could have been better served by Psylocke or someone and felt a bit less obvious.

    That said, this issue was still a great little Storm story, and with Ibanez and Redmond's top-notch art, I couldn't give it less than an 8/10.

  • Mighty Avengers (vol.2) #13

    This was a pretty solid issue; not the best we've seen in the series, but an enjoyable chapter in what's been a pretty decent story.

    While the story continues to center on the history between Blade, Blue Marvel, and Luke Cage's dad, we do get to see the rest of the team operating as a whole group, which we actually haven't seen a lot of yet. And each character gets a least a few cool moments.

    Something that really made this one stand out for me was the wonderful art of Salvador Larroca, which really gave the issue a lot more character and personality than we generally get with this book, so that was nice. All in all I'd give it like a 7.5/10: decent and fun, even if it's not especially essential.

  • Uncanny Avengers #23

    I feel like this is the first issue in over a year (since, like issue #5?) in which the team wasn't desperately trying to save the world, and it's nice to see the team finally coming together through they're shared hardships.

    Havok and Wasp's relationship in the deleted future is explored somewhat here, and is really starting to feel genuine in a way that makes both characters seem more interesting. And, in general, most of the character interactions are quite satisfying on this level.

    There's a few things I found a little frustrating; how quickly Rogue loses her crap when she realizes Wonder-man is now stuck in her consciousness seemed a bit extreme. Not out-of-character extreme, because it does make sense she would feel that way, but definitely more out of control than we've seen her in years. This could be the beginning of some new character growth for her if handled well, but this issue really shocks with how far her character seems to devolve almost immediately.

    Artist Sanford Greene's surface style seems a bit rushed here, but I feel like I wouldn't have minded the looseness for this story.. though I did find the coloring pretty distracting. Actually.. really distracting.

    There were some good developments to the story, especially with Havok, Wasp, and Immortus, as well as the Red Skull, and some satisfying character beats, but based on the level of the art I wouldn't say it's really an essential issue to read. I'd only give it a 7 or 7.5/10 at most.

  • Wolverine and the X-men (vol.2) #7

    For the second issue in a row, this book was the most disappointing one I read this month. While there were some good character moments, especially with Oya, and a bit with Armor, it didn't seem like much really happened. What did happen might have been interesting enough for an issue, but I felt like the sloppy and unpleasing artwork made me not spend very long on each page, making the whole thing seem pretty rushed. I couldn't give this issue more than a 5/10.

    There was actually another issue that came out this month, issue 9, but after these last two disappointing issues, I wasn't sure I wanted to bother.