19. Black is for Beginners by Laurie Faria Stolarz - One of the most irritating and standard tropes of sitcoms up until the 1990s when they fell out of favor was the clip show. In order to give everyone the week off, the show would have something happen that would force everyone to remember past shows. Cue the clips and we're off. The 80s sitcoms did these all the time but by the 90s, they dwindled. Sure, we would still have Ross remembering his entire relationship with Rachel through clips up until he decides to invite her to his wedding. The Simpsons did a clip show early on (and even acknowledged that it was doing that, which didn't make it any less annoying). Seinfeld ended its run with a clip show which was either really lame or a brilliant meta-commentary on television because the most popular and envelope pushing sitcom on television is blowing a raspberry at its audience. Now, they are anachronistic and usually they are done like on South Park or Community where the show is set up like a clip show, but is all new material.
Black is for Beginners is the clip show of this comic series. There were four volumes before this one including Blue is for Nightmares but this is the fifth in the series so why not catch everyone up on what has been happening thus far? The problem is that this book decided to recap the entire series. There are maybe 30 pages out of the 160 that are devoted to new storylines (the protagonist wants to reunite with her boyfriend) while the rest of the book is "hey remember when..." that covers pretty much the first five volumes. Just as we cut away from the protagonist talking about her dead friend and her other friends that she saved from a stalker, we get to the boyfriend who then talks about all the adventures that he had. By the end, I'm pretty sure that there's new material, I just don't know why it matters.
The weird thing about this volume is the fact that it had to all be illustrated so it took just as much work to put it together, but then again the writer wasn't the illustrator. So the illustrator had to do a lot of work; the writer turned in a clip show.
20X-Man: The Man who Fell to Earth by John Ostrander, Warren Ellis, et al - I was actually looking forward to reading this volume. Oh sure, I read a volume of Age of Apocalypse and realized that it was not nearly as cool as I remember it, but still the original concept of the entire Mutant Universe being messed up by the death of Professor X - sometimes in a good way (like with a repentant Sabretooth and Magneto in the X-Men and Magneto married to Rogue who isn't stuck being shomer negia for the rest of her life) and mostly in a horrible way (everyone else is evil and Apocalypse is in charge) - was awesome. And the most awesome part of it was a version of Cable who was young and didn't have that whole "if he breaks concentration he will become Tetsuo the Iron Man" background. So when the universe collapsed in some kind of crystals all converge something something, it seemed like a no-brainer to bring him into the regular Marvel universe (as well as a couple of other particularly compelling villains) to see what he could do.
So he fights. And fights. And runs. Fight fight fight. The Itchy and Scratchy Show (damn once you start making Simpsons references it's hard to stop) For the entire run of the book (which encompasses issues 5-14 as well as comics where he became a major guest star) Nate is either running away from someone or fighting someone. Do you like beautifully illustrated depictions of mutants beating on each other? This is the book for you. Do you just love that trope where superheroes meet and they think that they are enemies so they fight? Well this book should give you orgasms.
It's not so much that Nate Grey is suspicious of everyone and constantly beating the crap out of people that are coming over to say hello or see what he's about. Nate Grey is fucking stupid. There are only so many times that you can go "Oh no, this person looks suspicious. I'm going to pound on him and run away!!" Ok, granted, I have a cat who was abused and is now hiding in my box spring and is pretty much that skittish but you don't see me writing stories about how my cat came out of the box spring, saw that I was looking at him and ran back in, do you?
By the end of the story, he meets Cable. And the fight. Of course, the fight. This is also the point of the story where the writers remind us that Nate Grey is telepathic - so he could have been just reading people's minds and finding out what they wanted instead of assuming that they were out to get him.
I hear that Marvel killed off both Cable and Nate Grey. Good.