Posts Tagged ‘Noir’

Puck in X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #4

March 8, 2010

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #4
May 2010 (MAR on cover)

This four-issue miniseries comes to a close as everyone who hasn’t already double-crossed everybody else finally gets their turn to double-cross everyone. The very talky “classic movie mistake: don’t explain so much!” ending leaves the reader to go back to issues 1-3 to figure it all out, which seems irritating at first until the appreciation for the noir elements kick in and the complexity of it all notably distinguishes this series. Puck appears in a few panels as an adventurer/thief and companion to Captain Logan.

Puck is shown with his theiving companions aboard the Noir-universe equivalent of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, known as the “Dirigi-carrier”. Looking dapper in his three-piece suit, he just stands around while everyone else delivers the lengthy backstory for the whole series. One side note: Fred van Lente did his homework and referred to the Dirigi-carrier as a ship in the Army Air Force, which is what the United States Air Force was called in the early 1940s.

Near the end of the book, Puck appears again when, after much scheming and backstabbing, he and Captain Logan are led off to the prison at Genosha Bay. Unfortunately, the formerly impeccable three-piece suit has been replaced by standard issue prison stripes. A sad ending for Puck in this series, but the hope of a rescue from their former teammate The Angel, who they believe has a strong sense of loyalty, leaves the reader hopeful for a speedy return.

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #4 – Dennis Calero variant

Puck in X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #3

February 9, 2010

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #3
Apr 2010 (FEB on cover)

Don’t bother trying to understand what’s going on in this issue unless you’ve read issue #2, specifically the last panel, and even after that, it’s not fully explained. The element of mystery, key to the noir style, is the major strength of this book and the reader is sure to be twisted and turned even more in the next issue. Puck appears in this book as the first mate of the Mariko and as an adventurer/thief searching for the gem of Cyttorak which was stolen and lost in issue #1 of this series.

Puck finally gets the call on the radio from, uh, well, let’s call him “The Angel” while aboard Cap’n Logan’s ship, the junk Mariko in Genosha Bay. The brothers Halloway, both playing “The Angel” character, appear to have swapped places last issue by unknown means, distinguished to the reader from one another by the presence or absence of the familiar “M over the eye” facial mark usually sported by Bishop and other DoFN citizenry. Once aboard, Puck and Logan discern that the Halloway they have aboard is not Tommy, but Robert. It doesn’t seem to make much difference to them nor Cyclops that they have the other brother aboard as they continue their plan to recover the gem. Meanwhile, Tommy is off plotting to double-cross everyone and steal the gem during which he insults the group as “One-Eye, the Drunk and the Midget.”

They get a tip that the Blackbird, a ship carrying the gem is about to dock in New York Harbor. They see its listing in the New York Times (right below Freedom’s Lady, a reference to the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship and the Admiral Akbar, a ship named for the fish-like alien from Return of the Jedi famous for uttering “It’s a trap!”, and above the Oracle, the icebreaker captained by Namor’s father Leonard MacKenzie, and an uncaptioned picture of Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic). The Blackbird is named after the 616 X-Men’s supersonic Lockheed SR-71 of course. In New York, they climb aboard the Blackbird and take out the guards and Puck serves a nice kick in the you-know-whats to one of them!

Unfortunately, Puck is later taken out by an elbow to the face by Noir Nightcrawler as they obtain the gem. Ouch! A nice touch by writer Fred van Lente: during the battle with Nightcrawler, who only speaks German, Puck calls him “Leibchen”, which means “sweetie” in German, showing his polyglot background. I’m glad Fred van Lente took the time to research that Puck speaks many, many languages and he tossed in that word to show it, thanks Fred!

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #3 – Dennis Calero variant

Hailing frequencies open, eh?

January 19, 2010

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #2
Mar 2010 (JAN on cover)

The X-Men Noir universe greatly expands in this issue, the second of four in this series. Fred van Lente introduces new X-Men and, similar to the others, they don’t appear to have any actual superpowers, but are based heavily on their 616 counterparts. Puck appears in a few panels as first mate aboard the junk Mariko.

While the Angel is being drugged, branded, tossed into jail by Emma Frost and attacked by the bad guy X-Men, Captain Logan and his first mate Puck wait aboard their ship in Genosha Bay for the rendezvous which never comes. Puck is shown manning a radio, all dressed up with nowhere to go. He calls down to Logan who has fallen down, drunk and unable to give orders. Puck then decides to radio Cyclops in New York to get some ideas what to do.

Hailing frequencies open, eh?

Unlike his appearance in the previous issue, this Puck seems to have it together and makes a respectable but minor appearance.

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #2 – Dennis Calero variant

What a piece of junk!

January 13, 2010

X-Men Noir #4
Mar 2009

X-Men Noir, a.k.a. X Men Noir (sans dash), is a re-imagining of the Uncanny X-Men in the film noir style, featuring alternate versions of familiar characters in what is essentially a murder mystery set in the 1930s. Puck appears in this issue in a few panels as a first mate to Wolverine, who is a ship’s captain/smuggler in this world.

After being saved by The [Golden Age] Angel in issue #3 from a nasty Chinatown bar fight, Logan called out to him, saying he owed him a favor. He calls in that favor this issue, asking Logan to provide the get-away vehicle. Puck appears in one panel in the bar, reading this message on a strip, sent by carrier pigeon. He isn’t identified in this issue by name, but owing to his dialogue, peppered with “eh”‘s, of course, and references to the events of issue #3, we can figure out that it’s him.

Dennis Calero’s very dark style makes it hard to see most characters, and in a subsequent panel, Puck is shown completely black as he steers the ship.

It's a good thing it's so dark or someone might notice the wheel is taller than me!

This is very typical of many panels in this issue. Strangely, the ship, Mariko, is a Chinese junk, which seems odd sailing in New York Harbor in the 1930s, until the last panel where their destination and presumed home port is revealed: Madripoor, in the Far East, where it’s not so odd to sail around in a Chinese junk. It’s not clear if she’ll make point five beyond the speed of light, though.

Note: there is a variant cover for this issue, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir #4 – Dennis Calero variant

The mate was a mighty sailin’ man, the Skipper brave and sure.

January 8, 2010

X-Men Noir #3
Feb 2009

X-Men Noir, a.k.a. X Men Noir (sans dash), is a re-imagining of the Uncanny X-Men in the film noir style, featuring alternate versions of familiar characters in what is essentially a murder mystery set in the 1930s. Puck appears in this issue in a few panels as a first mate to Wolverine, who is a ship’s captain/smuggler in this world.

Thinking Logan murdered Jean Grey, Cyclops shows up at a Chinatown bar and shoots him in the shoulder right before The Angel (no, not that Angel, the Golden Age one) drops in, literally, to break up the fight. While The Angel and Logan discuss the murder, Puck tends to the bullet wound over the course of a few panels. He’s identified as “Eugene” only in this issue, and shown wearing some drab civilian clothing.

Dennis Calero’s art is significantly dark in this issue, with many panels just showing the shaded edges of people’s faces, making characters somewhat hard to identify and difficult for the reader to follow the story. After a few readings, one can figure it out, but with the exception of Cyclops, who wears the ruby quartz glasses, the rest of the characters are a challenge to get right on the first pass.

You can tell Fred van Lente had a lot of fun with the dialogue of these noir characters: after Puck is introduced, he asks The Angel:

Great, so I’m a suspect now, eh?

To which The Angel responds:

I’m not the cops. I don’t have “suspects.” Every crime is just the visible corner of a much larger picture. Once all the other parts get filled in, there are no “suspects.” Just the guilty.

What a line! Good job on the characters and dialogue in this little scene, and much thanks to Fred van Lente for including Puck, who was never a member of the 616 X-Men, in the cast.

Note: there is a variant cover for this issue, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir #3 – Dennis Calero variant

Puck in X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #1

January 3, 2010

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #1
Feb 2010 (DEC on cover)

The team of Fred van Lente and Dennis Calero returns to the X-Men Noir title, kicking off a four-issue miniseries with the same characters already introduced in the X-Men Noir series earlier this year. Noir Puck appears on the cover and inside as an adventurer/thief.

Wolverine, Cyclops, (Golden Age) Angel and Puck, survivors of the last series, find themselves in Madripoor in the late 30’s. They steal the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak for Cain Marko, a friend of Angel, but are double-crossed, as expected. The actual theft is done by Puck, who unrealistically sneaks into the temple inside a saddlebag on a wandering ox. I seriously doubt even Puck could fit into such a bag, and the panel where he pops out is laughable.

Upon hearing the news of foul play, Puck begins to really lose it, fearful that he’ll be the next victim. You’d think that such a seasoned adventurer with so many connections with the mystic arts of the Far East would have a bit more resolve when it comes to a run-of-the-mill curse of death.

Unfortunately, he’s portrayed as a cowardly sniveler who Wolverine scolds, “For God’s sake, Eugene. Grow a pair.” Noir characters tend to beat up on themselves, and each other, more than their heroic counterparts would, so this strange behavior isn’t so disappointing.

Dennis Calero’s art, though widely appreciated, is hit-or-miss in this issue. Most panels are so dark that the only “art” you actually see is some vague shadows off the edge of someone’s face against a pitch black background. In addition to the grossly disproportionate saddlebag scene, he also gets a “misshapen head” award for one particularly poor image of Puck’s cranium which will haunt you forever.

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #1 – Dennis Calero variant