Avengers (2018-) #41 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #41Avengers (2018-) #41 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, Avengers, why can’t I quit you?

You see, I’ve never really been an Avengers guy. I’m an X-Men guy…and an Iron Man guy…maybe, just maybe…a West Coast Avengers guy…but never an Avengers guy.

And yet I’ve read a whole lot of Avengers. Just not on a monthly basis. I read Bendis’ whole run in hardback trades. It was awesome. But…you know…I’m not an Avengers guy…so I’ve never read it on a monthly basis…really… Maybe occasionally, but never for long…

And now I find myself 41 issues into an Avengers run and despite often thinking, “Maybe I’ll drop it after the next issue…” it keeps pulling me back in.

Which is a long winded way of saying, “I don’t really have a lot to say about this issue but I liked it. A lot.” I mean, this is just a series of fights narrated by the Black Panther. Which sounds simple but it’s very well executed.

Good comic is good. ‘Nuff said.

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X-Force (2019-) #16 by Benjamin Percy

X-Force (2019-) #16X-Force (2019-) #16 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Benjamin Percy is fast becoming one of my favourite X-writers.

This is just fantastic stuff. Forge is increasingly nuts, Beast is increasingly creepy and Quentin Quire is…well Quentin Quire. Although, I thought Cable was dating all of the Cuckoos? Apparently not Phoebe, cos she’s all Quentin’s, and gives him the motivation to not die during an X-Force mission for probably the first time in seventeen issues. But, seriously, I’m 100% here for Quentin/Phoebe smoochy times.

The real star of this issue, however, is the art. Joshua Cassara’s art is just stunning here, and his depiction of what lies in the depths is incredible. Do I mean the weird, god-like, Cthulhu-cancer monster offshoot of Karakoa or do I mean Namor’s abs? You decide.

Anyway, good comic is good. Go read it.

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Cable (2020-) #7 by Gerry Duggan

Cable (2020-) #7Cable (2020-) #7 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh yeah, that’s what we were doing before X Of Swords so rudely interrupted us…looking for kidnapped babies!

And, thanks to Rachel Summers, we actually find them! Well, half of them. As in, we find five of the ten missing babies…not that we find ten halves of babies…that would be gross. Why would you even think that might be thing? You disgust me…

Anyway, it’s great to see the Summers family being a family, I don’t recall Nate and Rachel ever really spending any time together, just the two of them, before. Plus we get some great “Cyclops being a dad” stuff here. And “Dad Cyclops” is probably the best Cyclops.

Plus, we finally find out who’s behind the baby kidnapping, and let’s just say that they’re keeping it in the family…

The only thing missing from this issue is more outrageous flirting with the Cuckoos, but it’s still pretty great with some gorgeous Phil Noto art.

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Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #7 by Alyssa Wong

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #7Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #7 by Alyssa Wong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this was fun! An action packed adventure full of wise cracking and subtle lesbianism, as Doctor Aphra teams up with her old flame, and Han Solo’s ex, Sana Staros (it’s a small galaxy after all).

Not only that, but they’re on Corellia, because Aphra wants Sana to set up a meeting with her and Lady Proxima, who we last saw in Solo: A Star wars Story. Personally, I loved that movie, so I enjoy any reference to it. Hopefully we’ll get to see some other characters from that film show up in the future.

Aphra and Sana Starros make a good team and the way they bounce off each other is a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them adventuring together.

So, good stuff!

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The Union (2020-) #2 by Paul Grist

The Union (2020-) #2 (of 5)The Union (2020-) #2 by Paul Grist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really want to like this book more than I do, but it’s really hard.

The Brexit analogy is hard to ignore and feels a little clumsy. Having left the SHED, Super Hero European Directive (a particularly clumsy acronym), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Norther Ireland has formed a team made up of members from all four nations of the UK. Presumably to show that we (the UK, I’m from the UK, I should make that clear) can make it on our own in the world, apart from Europe. During their first training/PR exercise the team’s leader, Britannia (supposedly Britain’s “beloved” superhero, who we’ve never heard of before…apparently everyone’s forgotten who Captain Britain is and thinks Union jack is a joke) gets killed and at the end of the team’s first mission the team splits up. Subtle.

Also, the Northern Irish character is called Snakes, and one of the things Ireland is famous for is not having any snakes. Saint Patrick supposedly drove them all out. So this is…odd.

There’s some good stuff here, like when the team’s Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh members point out to Union Jack, the English member, that he doesn’t represent them and probably doesn’t “know where Merthyr Tydfil is.” I know that some in the UK were concerned that this series wouldn’t understand the tensions within the Union, but it certainly seems to (and given that it’s written by British writer Paul Grist, that’s not surprising).

Where this issue falls down, however, is that at times it just feels…off. I suspect this is a result of the series having been reworked form an Empyre tie in to be a King In Black tie in. But it manifests in strange ways, such as Union Jack’s magically disappearing and reappearing sword. Union Jack doesn’t have a sword, traditionally he carries a gun, but he has a sword for the first few pages and then it suddenly disappears. Then, just as suddenly, half way through, he has a sword again, and the it’s pretty integral to the plot. It’s…odd, and it took me right out of the story.

The art, by Andrea Di Vito is pretty good, although it’s rather shown up by the stunning cover art by Paco Medina. Also, the cover…well…the cover prominently features Britannia, who looks like she’s just defeated Union jack in a fight. This doesn’t happen in this issue. Britannia died at the end of #1. So, that’s strange…and I suspect is another hangover from the extensive reworking of the series.

So, yeah, a lot to think about here, and I really like the characters, particularly the Welsh hero, the Choir. It seems a shame that Britannia is dead, and I was expecting her to be resurrected this issue, but instead Union Jack has been steam-rollered by the government to take over as leader of the team…the members of which have all quit. This book has a lot of potential, but I’m not sure it’ll get a chance to fulfil it, and if it fails to acknowledge the existence of any pre-existing UK super heroes beyond Union Jack then that’ll really frustrate me.

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Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein

Cobalt Squadron (Star Wars)Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book charts Paige and Rose Tico’s final mission together before the events of The Last Jedi…so you already know how it’s going to end…ominously. With a sense of looming tragedy. Knowing that their last goodbye really is going to be their last goodbye.

Spoilers for The Last Jedi, I guess, but Paige Tico dies at the start of the movie.

Now, had I read this before I’d seen The Last Jedi, it might have meant that death had more impact for me (I read Catalyst before I saw Rogue One, which meant that Lyra Erso’s death hit me like a ton of bricks and I was crying before anyone else in the cinema knew what was going on).

(Seriously, I cried so much during that movie that my youngest leant over in the cinema and asked me if I was okay…)

Anyway, I liked Rose Tico, and wanted more of her and her sister, and this book does give you that…but it’s incredibly hard to get into. Paige and Rose end up part of a mission delivering supplies to a First Order occupied planet. What this means in practice is a lot of lengthy runs to drop supplies that are described in detail, while we’re given little reason to care about the occupied planet or anyone on it. Which is a shame. At times Wein gets it right, and creates a real sense of tension during these runs…but at other times we feel literally nothing. There’s no sense of threat. No tension at all. Well…until she weaves in a sense of impending doom at the end.

I feel like the biggest problem this book has is the complete lack of any antagonist. The First Order exists as a largely abstract threat, just nameless and faceless TIE Fighter pilots…we have nobody to root against, just a crew to root for, and none of them are particularly fleshed out beyond Rose. We don’t even really get to know Paige, other than how she relates to Rose. She’s never allowed to exist as a character in her own right.

That said, I still enjoyed the book, and I’m aware that I’m being hypercritical, mostly because it feels like something of a missed opportunity. Hopefully we’ll get more of Rose in the future, because she was tragically underused in The Rise Of Skywalker. And maybe we’ll even get a chance to get to know Paige too.

All in all, a little disappointing, but if you do want more of the Tico sisters after the movie, it does at least go some way towards giving you that.

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Serial #1 by Terry Moore

Serial #1Serial #1 by Terry Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you review twenty pages of a brand new Terry Moore book?

I could summarise what happens, but that would be pointless.

I could talk about Moore’s incredible artistic talent, but if you’ve read his work you already know all about that, and if you haven’t, you should.

I could talk about how he gives us just enough here to make us intrigued, to make us want to come back for more, how he gives us hints and glimpses of what’s going on, but is at a point in his career where he can tell a story the way he wants to tell it, and so has the luxury not to tell us too much in the first twenty pages…but, really, what use is that to you?

This is Terry Moore, he’s one of the best, and in a world full of super heroes and space ships, both of which I dearly love, he’s always just happily done his own thing and done it beautifully.

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M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games (2020-) #2 by Jordan Blum

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games (2020-) #2 (of 4)M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games (2020-) #2 by Jordan Blum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this continues to be awesome…and silly…awesomely silly!

MODOK and Tony Stark have to infiltrate a super-villain tech auction to recover a piece of Stark tech that MODOK stole from him in #1 that he needs to repair the damaged hard drive that’s causing MODOK to remember things that supposedly never happened…namely a wife and child he probably never had (I mean…we know where this is going, right?).

Hijinks ensue.

Amidst those hijinks Stark ends up wearing the Silver Centurion armour…which is my favourite Iron Man armour…so this issue gets extra points for that.

The only thing that could make this book better is Gwenpool. Oh, wait…

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Iron Man (2020-) #5 by Christopher Cantwell

Iron Man (2020-) #5Iron Man (2020-) #5 by Christopher Cantwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing Tony Stark get out smarted. Although, that said, I’m hoping that Tony has an ace up his sleeve and will come out on top. I mean…he’s the hero…he’s bound to win in the end, right?

But at what cost? That’s the real question, isn’t it? Everyone surrounding Tony gets hurt, and that’s very much at the heart of this story. It’s demonstrated very literally in regards to the make shift team that he puts together to fight Korvac…including Frog Man (who actually DOES have an action figure now, believe it or not). But it’s also demonstrated far more painfully in the breaking of Patsy’s mind. And, oh, poor Patsy…it was a big mistake to get close to Tony Stark…and he isn’t even afforded the time to truly realise what he’s done.

The art, by Cafu, is utterly gorgeous, especially during the scenes which take place in the rain. These scenes have a real atmosphere about them and the visuals combine with the events to make you feel…well…despair.

I’ve seen Tony broken before, left lying on the ground, suit devoid of power and seemingly out of options, but I’ve never seen it done quite so effectively as it is here. Before I’ve always been hyper aware of the fact that he’s the hero and he’ll get out of it somehow…but I don’t see a way out for him here…

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Juggernaut (2020-) #5 by Fabian Nicieza

Juggernaut (2020-) #5 (of 5)Juggernaut (2020-) #5 by Fabian Nicieza
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved this series, the writing was wonderful, D-Cel is an amazing new character that I want to see more of, and the art, by Ron Garney, was not only wonderful but was a perfect fit for the series.

However…this issue did not provide a satisfying conclusion. Instead it seemed to set up a new series that I’m honestly not sure we’re going to get. Which is a shame, because I definitely want more of this. If this was #5 of an ongoing series I’d have no complaints, but it’s not, it’s the final issue of a limited series and not only did it leave a lot unresolved, but it finished with the formation of a new team I’m afraid we may never see again.

Also, the revelation of why D-Cel was in denial about being a mutant felt rushed and lacked some of the emotional impact that it deserved.

Still, as I said, I loved this series overall. It was good to see Cain get some time with Professor X and Black Tom in this issue too. This series definitely grew and developed Cain’s character, and that’s why I want more. I’m afraid that in a year or two he’ll show up somewhere else and everything from this series will be ignored. So, come on Marvel, give Nicieza and Garney an ongoing Juggernaut book…and bring back D-Cel…she’ll just get bored on Krakoa anyway.

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