Defenders (1972-1986) #150 by Peter B. Gillis

Defenders (1972-1986) #150Defenders (1972-1986) #150 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the cover’s very nice…

Sigh, this was…not great. It’s confusing story that really fails to build on anything else in this run, Cloud’s origin kinda comes out of nowhere. It turns out that she’s actually a nebula who’s achieved consciousness. The stars are disappearing and she ran into a planet…that’s actually the cosmic cube…that suggested that she travel to Earth where she’d find people that could help. But she lost her memory…and, well, now it’s returned she’s spirited the Defenders off into space where the planet that’s the cosmic cube takes on the form of Captain America and they team up with some aliens they bumped into (who’s dialogue is incredibly tiring to read) and discover that the Star Thief is actually a little girl who’s lost her eye sight and lives on a planet where a dust cloud obscures most of the stars, so she thinks there shouldn’t be any stars. If you think that sounds hard to follow, it is.

Angel kind of mind links with here, because he’s also lost his sight so can empathise with here, and then she’s all better and a little leather pouch appears that contains all the stars she’s stolen. And then the cosmic cube sends them all back to Earth.

Meanwhile there’s a little extra story where the Defenders’ dog take son their security system which ends up wit the reveal that Manslaughter is somehow back.

So, The Defenders have just tamed up with a comic cube to restore hundreds of missing star systems…and in their final two issues it looks like they’ll be battling Manslaughter again.

This run has had some amazing high points, but sadly this double sized annivery issue isn’t one of them.

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Power Pack (1984-1991) #3 by Louise Simonson

Power Pack (1984-1991) #3Power Pack (1984-1991) #3 by Louise Simonson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack finally gets a chance to shine as the rest of Power Pack are captured by Snarks and he has to rescue them on his own.

This is where Jack learns that his “useless” power isn’t so useless anymore, as not only can he expand the molecules in his body to become a cloud, he can condense the molecules in his body to become both tiny and super dense…which comes in handy when you need to knock out a Snark or two.

If you’ve been following my reviews of this series it will have become clear that I absolutely love it, and this issue is no different. Simonson and Brigman make an almost perfect comic creating team and I’m loving rereading this series in its original format.

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GI Joe: A Real American Hero #4 by Larry Hama

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #4GI Joe: A Real American Hero #4 by Larry Hama

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is good stuff but the series clearly hasn’t found its stride yet. The plot feels very basic, as Hawk, Grunt and Snake Eyes infiltrate a militia group that’s being supplied by Cobra. Their plan is to trigger a global nuclear conflict by dropping a nuclear bomb on Vladivostok, and if that fails to detonate the nuclear device buried under their camp in Montana…killing themselves in the process, and the wives and children of all their recruits.

While GI Joe obviously celebrates the US military, this book does draw a clear distinction between that and the camps of gun loving crazies dotted throughout the American countryside. During the briefing scene someone asks, “Hawk, you want us to go in, take away their guns…and spank them?” Clearly GI Joe have no problem with taking guns away from “patriotic” citizens just exercising their second amendment rights. It made me chuckle.

But, yeah, this is good but not great, and there’s a distinct lack of Cobra, who are merely backing this group but have no direct involvement with them. I’m definitely itching to get to the kind of stories that I read reprinted in the UK Action Force comic…

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Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #3 by Mirka Andolfo

Mirka Andolfo's Mercy #3Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #3 by Mirka Andolfo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So far Mercy has been beautifully illustrated but I’ve had little clue as to what’s actually going on. In #3 we finally gain some clarity in regards to the plot. Andolfo’s writing is by no means perfect, but that may simply be down to the quality of the translation. Having edited several comics written by non-native English speakers, I know how hard it can be to not only translate the meaning of the words the writer has written, but also the feel…the atmosphere they intended their words to evoke.

Nevertheless, Andolfo has crafted a tale full of interesting and compelling characters, including…and, perhaps, especially…the characters who live by feeding off the brains of normal humans.

Also, the copy I have sports a truly gorgeous cover by Stjepan Šejić, which was worth the cover price alone.

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Excalibur (2019-) #10 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #10Excalibur (2019-) #10 by Tini Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I’m intrigued by the hints at a romance between Wisdom and Betsy…now if only Kitty could show up and complicate things…” is how I ended my review of #9. Be careful what you wish for…

It seems that this issue (and this series) is quite divisive, with some people complaining that it’s too confusing to follow. I can only assume those people aren’t long time Excalibur fans who remember the Cross Time Caper fondly. Yes, this is confusing as hell, and I too wondered what Kate Pryde was doing here, in a flying ship, when over in her own series, Marauaders, she’s currently dead. But, come on, Jamie Braddock is in this, it should have been obvious what was going on!

Excalibur has always been all about convoluted plots involving reality warping and alternate Earths, and this is no different.

What it is, is great fun, and if you ever wondered what Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee and Rictor would be like as Captain Britain then this is the book for you!

Lastly, the cover by Mahmud Asrar is beautiful and the internal art, by Marcus To is superb, with Kate’s body language while telling Betsy about Pete Wisdom’s death being a particularly good moment. Even if it wasn’t our Kate and our Pete.

In summary, an excellent issue in the great wibbly wobbly, timey wimey tradition of Excalibur!

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Deadpool (2019-) #5 by Kelly Thompson

Deadpool (2019-) #5Deadpool (2019-) #5 by Kelly Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this issue is definitely not as good as previous issues, mainly due to the lack of Chris Bachalo’s art, it’s still excellent, mainly due to the continued presence of Kelly Thompson’s writing. Although, that said, Gerardo Sandoval’s art is by no means bad.

The premise is silly, of course, Deadpool is the newly crowned king of the monsters and he has to team up with Else Bloodtsone, monster hunter extraordinaire, to stop a rogue, adolescent kaiju from destroying Manhattan. On, and the rogue, adolescent kaiju is Jeff the land shark’s best friend. See? Silly.

But there’s more to this than just silliness. There’s Deadpool learning to live with his new found responsibilities. Taking tough decisions to protect the monsters that he’s now responsible for. And there’s a budding romance with Elsa Bloodstone, who’s also learning that there might be more to monsters than, you know, killing them.

This continues to be great and I really hope that this run keeps going for a long time. (Which probably means it’s already been cancelled and I just don’t know it yet).

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Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #3 by Ethan Sacks

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #3Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #3 by Ethan Sacks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is ok, but the story is far too convoluted to follow, and that’s not helped by the covid enforced break between #2 and #3. There are bounty hunters, they’re doing things, there’s a fight between Bossk and Valance and that’s pretty well done…but I’m not entirely sure what’s going on.

Hopefully they can bring things together in the second half of this series and everything will make a little more sense.

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2020 Rescue #2 by Dana Schwartz

2020 Rescue #2 (of 2)2020 Rescue #2 by Dana Schwartz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m honestly baffled as to why this comic is getting such good ratings from other people. The best I can say about it is that it’s ok. Given the scores of extremely talented writers and artists who’d give their right arm to work on a book like this I don’t really understand why Marvel would put out such lacklustre material. I can only assume deadline pressure. A low point in what is an otherwise poor crossover event.

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Empyre (2020) #0: Avengers by Al Ewing

Empyre (2020) #0: AvengersEmpyre (2020) #0: Avengers by Al Ewing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is great stuff! Al Ewing is, as ever, on fine form here, and the art by Pepe Larraz is good enough to make me not mind that Jim Cheung only did the cover.

This is how Marvel events should be, growing naturally from Marvel’s rich history without being impenetrable for people who haven’t read it all (and few will have read everything that’s relevant to this story, because that’s a LOT of comics).

I’ll definitely be sticking around for the rest of this event.

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