Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 by Alyssa Wong

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 (2020-)Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 by Alyssa Wong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is excellent stuff. There’s enough acknowledgement of what’s come before to please long time Doctor Aphra fans, but also enough new stuff to feel like a fresh start. The art is truly lovely, and I feel that the key to drawing Aphra well is all in the facial expressions, and Cresta really nails that.

The writing is sharp, with the level of wittiness that we’ve come to expect from the good…or not so good…Doctor.

All in all this series has got off to a great start and I can’t wait to read more!

View all my reviews

Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston

Queen's Shadow (Star Wars)Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel I should make it clear that, essentially, nothing happens here. There’s virtually no action, aside from a brief space battle towards the end. There’s a LOT of politics, a lot talking, a lot of lengthy descriptions of what Padme and her handmaidens are wearing, and lots and lots of political intrigue.

And it’s wonderful.

Beautifully written and incredibly compelling, and despite that fact that there’s really not going on…there’s really a lot going on…at least there is in Padme and Sabe’s heads. And that’s where we spend a lot of this book, examining their thoughts, feelings and motivations.

There’s a lot here to reward fans of both the Prequels and the Clone Wars, which was greatly appreciated as a fan of both.

So, in short, if you like space battles, laser swords and blaster fights, this might not be the book for you. But if you love Padme Amidala, the Prequels and the Clone Wars then this is almost certainly essential reading.

View all my reviews

Defenders (1972-1986) #148 by Peter B. Gillis

Defenders (1972-1986) #148Defenders (1972-1986) #148 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There was a time when Marvel editors commissioned little stand alone fill-in stories to keep in their drawer for when creative teams were running late and they needed to get a book out on deadline. What I suspect we have here is one of those stories. Gillis brings back his weird detective duo from a previous one issue fill in story for a caper that makes little to no sense and unites Gargoyle and Beast with Daimon Hellstrom and Patsy Walker (who, you know, used to be in this book…)…who do little more than react to the weirdness going on around them.

Sometimes stories like this can be a lot of fun. This one tries far too hard to be quirky…especially with the inclusion of a character who is very obviously just Groucho Marx…a joke that would have seemed strange in 1985 and falls even more flat in 2020.

I’m sure things will get back to normal with the next issue…but it also wasn’t long after this that the book got cancelled.

View all my reviews

Daredevil #239 by Ann Nocenti

Daredevil #239Daredevil #239 by Ann Nocenti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s a lot to unpack here…a racist African American albino stalks a series of women he perceives as being rotten and infected in an effort to purify them. It’s deeply creepy and Nocenti juxtaposes Rotgut viewing everyone and everything as rotten with Daredevil seeing everything, and in particular Karen Page, as beautiful through his radar sense.

Whereas Nocenti’s previous issue lacked subtlety, this one is almost too subtle and too nuanced, as I’m left unsure of exactly what she’s trying to say. Especially as in the light of modern times Rotgut railing against plastic pollution and cigarettes seems entirely mainstream and not the ravings of a lunatic. A lunatic who’s twisted view of the world was instilled in him by a mother who expressed her love for him by denying him pollutants like red meat and coca cola. Which he then as an adult orders for himself at the diner where Matt Murdock is working…and then complains that they’re trying to poison him with the food he ordered. But, I guess you can’t expect rationality from someone who goes on to cut up a prostitute.

I have to say it’s weird seeing adverts for Lazer Tag and Cap’n Crunch opposite pages where Daredevil is arguing with a pimp that he doesn’t want to stop the prostitute doing her job, he just wants to make sure she’s safe. But that’s eighties comics for you!

Anyway, this is dark and gritty and uncomfortable reading at times, which is exactly what I was expecting from this run. Oh, and it has an excellent Art Adams cover too!

View all my reviews

Defenders (1972-1986) #147 by Peter B. Gillis

Defenders (1972-1986) #147Defenders (1972-1986) #147 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fake out guest stars seem to be something of a feature of this series as the cover promises an appearance by Nick Fury that doesn’t really happen. But then that’s really the theme of this issue as nothing is really what it seems as the not very interesting villain, Hotspur, continues to play with everyone’s mins. But in a somewhat unfortunate twist the only way to defeat him seems to be to play with the mind of the already fragile Cloud.

This issue isn’t exactly bad but you spend a lot of it wondering what the heck is going on and while that’s by design it doesn’t really make for a fun read. I see what Gillis was trying to do here but he doesn’t quite pull it off, which is a bit of a shame.

The art by Don Perlin is as solid as ever, but the highlight here is the excellent cover by Frank Cirocco.

Hopefully things will improve in the nest issue, which promises to reveal the origins of Cloud.

View all my reviews

Strikeforce: Morituri (1986-1989) #1 by Peter B. Gillis

Strikeforce: Morituri (1986-1989) #1Strikeforce: Morituri (1986-1989) #1 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve recently been reading through Gillis’ run on New Defenders and so a friend recommended this to me…and I was not disappointed! Gillis’ writing is as strong as ever, he has a real knack for getting inside people’s heads, and the art by Brent Anderson (with a couple of pages by Whilce Portacio) with inks by Scott Williams is simply superb.

Gillis finds an interesting take on the super hero genre, with characters undergoing the Morituri Process, which gifts them with the super powers to fight an invading alien force at one cost…they’ll be dead within a year.

This first issue explores why someone would want to undergo the process.

It’s good. Really good.

View all my reviews

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 by Larry Hama

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 by Larry Hama

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely a step down after #1, mainly due to the lack of Cobra. Instead the enemy here are the Russians, or, to be exact, an Inuit secret agent hired by the Russians to recover information from an Arctic base that was designed to send fear waves across the world, but accidentally backfired and so the Russians all killed themselves.

Most of the issue is taken up with Stalker, Breaker, Snake Eyes and Scarlet chasing the Inuit, Kwinn across the ice and generally being outsmarted by him at every turn. But ultimately he suffers an attack of conscience and betrays the Russians but doesn’t really because he’s too honourable to do that but sort of does and…well…the ending’s a little muddled.

Not the greatest of issues but it’s not boring and is still generally an enjoyable read.

View all my reviews

Daredevil (1964-1998) #238 by Ann Nocenti

Daredevil (1964-1998) #238Daredevil (1964-1998) #238 by Ann Nocenti

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure why Goodreads thinks this is by Louise and Walter Simonson because it’s actually written by Ann Nocenti and illustrated by Sal Buscema, with a stunning cover by Art Adams and Klaus Janson.

This had the potential to be great, but, sadly, Nocenti doesn’t have the courage to trust the reader to get what she’s doing and so it ends up being as subtle as a brick in places. Early on Daredevil watches a pair of dogs fight in an ally and I thought to myself, “I bet this is set up so that we’ll compare the way they’re fighting to DD and Sabretooth later on.” Not only is this the case but, just in case you missed it, Daredevil thinks to himself later, “We’re pacing, circling…just like the dogs.” And then, later, a young boy wonders why his cat is playing with a mouse he caught and not killing it, and his father explains that the cat is so far removed from nature that it hunts but doesn’t understand why it hunts…and then later the woman Sabretooth had abducted wonders why Sabretooth captured her but didn’t harm her and…well, you get it. This would be unsubtle enough if done once but twice is just too much. We get it, Sabretooth is like an animal, yes. This is made all the weirder for the oddly sympathetic light Sabretooth is pictured in given that he has literally had this woman tied up in a tunnel for the whole issue.

I’m perhaps being overly harsh because I know how good this run gets…or, rather, I remember the few excellent issues of it I read when they came out. Nocenti is clearly still finding her feet here.

The art by Sal Buscema is, of course, great…it’s by Sal Buscema after all! But doesn’t really live up to the promise of the cover by Adams and Janson, because what could?

This Mutant Massacre tie-in isn’t bad, exactly, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the excellent tie-in to The Fall of the Mutants in just fourteen issues time. At least, that’s how I remember it, only time will tell if #252 has stood the test of time.

View all my reviews

Daredevil #237 by Steve Englehart

Daredevil #237Daredevil #237 by Steve Englehart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written by Steve Englehart under the pseudonym John Harknes with pencils by Louis Williams, this was infinitely better than I expected it to be. See, I bought this as I want to read through the Ann Nocenti run, which started with the previous issue, #236, and continues on after this, so assumed that this would just be filler…especially as the villain of the month is Klaw…who is…kinda…rubbish. But, in fact, this is a Klaw dealing with the aftermath of Secret Wars, out to defeat a super hero to reclaim some kind of notoriety after the Beyonder humiliated him.

We also have a Daredevil dealing with the ramifications of things he’s just been through too…not that I’ve read any of that, but still, it’s handled well. As is his rejection of Black Widow when she tries to recruit him for an anti-drug campaign, which would involve super heroes getting themselves tested to prove that they’re drug free. Daredevil, quite rightly in my opinion, points out that the legal system works under the presumption of innocence. Therefore guilt musty be proven, not innocence. Therefore expecting people to prove their innocence would set a dangerous precedent. Complicating things more is the fact that Karen Page has recently kicked her addiction to drugs…so, maybe not the best time for Black Widow to suggest this. There’s a subplot with the woman Black Widow is working with, who’s the wife of a senator who clearly has her own agenda…and it’ll be interesting to see if that actually goes anywhere as Nocenti properly takes over the book.

Overall this is excellent work and I have no idea why Englehart chose to work under the pseudonym that he typically used when he was unhappy with his work. The art, from Williams, is appropriately moody, and the brilliant character work is handled better than the super hero fisticuffs, but that’s not really a complaint.

View all my reviews

Avengers (1963-1996) #250 by Roger Stern

Avengers (1963-1996) #250Avengers (1963-1996) #250 by Roger Stern

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not exactly a classic this one, which is a shame, but not surprising given that it’s a fairly self-contained anniversary issue. The West Coast Avengers guest star as the two teams take on Malestrom, who is honestly one of the least interesting villains in the Marvel Universe. But it was the West Coast team that brought me to this issue as I’ve just read their debut limited series which directed me to read this next at the end. And. as such, it was a bit of a let down as there was none of the interesting character stuff from that series…which shouldn’t really be a surprise as I wouldn’t expect that in a guest appearance.

Still, it’s an enjoyable little read for what it is.

View all my reviews