New Mutants (2019-) #11 by Ed Brisson

New Mutants (2019-) #11New Mutants (2019-) #11 by Ed Brisson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ed Brisson produces another perfectly fine issue of the New Mutants.

But what this book and team needs is a clear roster of characters (and a regular artist who brings something special to the book, and Flaviano is not that artist).

I’ve banged on enough about how this stuff doesn’t compare to the Hickman/Noto issues, but, you know…it doesn’t.

This comic is perfectly fine, as I said, but that’s all. If it’s continuing without Hickman then it needs a clear direction and purpose. Because every issue without Hickman just feels like filler.

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New Mutants (2019-) #10 by Ed Brisson

New Mutants (2019-) #10New Mutants (2019-) #10 by Ed Brisson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is no Hickman and Noto, but…what is? It might be unfair to Ed Brisson and Mike del Mundo to compare them to Hickman and Noto, but it’s inevitable, and they really don’t compare. But taken on its own merits, this issue is reasonably good and a definite improvement on the previous non-Hickman/Noto New Mutants issues.

It still doesn’t quite gel though, and I think the issue is that Brisson’s New Mutants lacks the joy of Hickman’s. It lacks the fun, the silliness, the humour. Instead it tries, really hard…like with the Glob scene here (and the recipe that another reviewer on Good Reads took particular offence at)…and…sure, it’s…funny? But it feels somewhat forced, and lacks the whimsy of Hickman’s issues.

Also, del Mundo’s art is perfectly good, but perfectly good isn’t really good enough on a current X-book, and it’s certainly not good enough when it’s inevitably going to be directly compared with the work of Phil Noto.

All in all, I certainly didn’t hate this issues, it’s just that it could have been so much better.

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Power Pack (1984-1991) #4 by Louise Simonson

Power Pack (1984-1991) #4Power Pack (1984-1991) #4 by Louise Simonson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This comic is simply beautiful.

The Power family’s first adventure concludes as the children finally rescue their parents from the Snarks and escape from the clutches of the Queen Mother’s mothership, meet Whitey’s dad and are adopted as his honorary grandchildren.

There’s action and adventure, but by far the best part is the ongoing saga of Katie’s loose tooth, which finally falls out! And that’s the charm of this series. A loose tooth can still be a significant even in the middle of alien abduction and interplanetary war.

If you’ve never read Power Pack then you need to fix that. Now.

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Defenders (1972-1986) #151 by Peter B. Gillis

Defenders (1972-1986) #151Defenders (1972-1986) #151 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The end fast approaches!

While this issue is clearly mostly set up for the double-sized final issue that follows, it still manages to be a great comic in and of itself.

As the mysterious Interloper approaches we find that he’s connected to Moondragon…or the Dragon of the Moon…somehow, and that the two are ancient enemies. Meanwhile, manslaughter turns up, up to his usual murderous tricks…but this time he’s come not to bury the New Defenders, but to join them. Obviously the team are not up for that. There’s a weird scene involving Candy Southern chained to a bed in a skimpy outfit. And then, ultimately, the Interloper shows up, defeats Manslaughter and reveals that Manslaughter was a student of his that he regrets teaching…and that the Defenders must let him join them because…the Dragon of the Moon approaches… DUN DUN DUUUUNNNN!

It’s cracking stuff, and while there’s not a lot of depth here, there is a lot of fun and it’s a timely reminder of just why I’ve loved reading this run. These characters don’t belong together, they’re such a strange combination, but it really, really works, and that’s all down to the writing.

I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to this book…but it’ll all be over in the next issue!

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Daredevil #243 by Ann Nocenti

Daredevil #243Daredevil #243 by Ann Nocenti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off I should say that I don’t feel qualified to comment on the possibly problematic racial aspects of this issue. I simply don’t know enough about voodoo and Haiti to know if there are issues with those parts of the story.

That said, this is really good stuff. The writing is, at times, poetic and it combines with the art to create a comic which is, at times, incredibly atmospheric. At times dark and mysterious and also quite disturbing in places. A Haitian drug dealer, who goes by the peculiar name of Danny Guitar, is exploiting people’s superstition and using voodoo, which he’s clear he doesn’t believe in, to control the drugs trade in Hell’s Kitchen. However, a mysterious pair intend to make him pay for his cynical misuse of voodoo.

Beyond that, the underlying theme of this comic is whether or not it’s right to mete out justice with your fists, or to gather evidence and prosecute wrongdoers in a court of law. Both the equally oddly named Detective “Bucko” Leary and Karen Page challenge Daredevil on this point, and so he seeks to gather evidence of Danny Guitar’s drug dealing to hand over to to the proper authorities.

Look, this is an entirely valid point, and probably should be explored in super hero comics…but, at the same time, if the system worked in Marvel’s New York then there’d be no need for costumed heroes and this book wouldn’t exist. The very premise behind this book is that Matt needs to work both within and without the system to see that justice is served.

Overall this is a very strong issue, with some great writing and some appropriately gritty and atmospheric (yes, I’ve used that word twice) art.

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Hellions (2020-) #2 by Zeb Wells

Hellions (2020-) #2Hellions (2020-) #2 by Zeb Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m loving this series! It got off to a strong start and that continues here, and I really enjoy the team dynamic…by which I mean that this team is a disaster and they. quite literally, kill each other at the first opportunity. I’m wondering if Empath being shot in the head by a team mate is going to become a running joke (really couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke).

I love how Alex/Havok feels like he doesn’t belong with this bunch of crazies, and even says so himself…but it only takes the appearance of Madelyne Pryor to prove how wrong he is. Given everything he’s been through, Alex has issues, and it’s good to see a writer finally acknowledging that.

It feels like anything goes in this book and Zeb Wells strikes the right balance between darkly humorous and just plain dark. I mean, any book with the egg shaped Nanny as a team member can’t possibly take itself too seriously.

This does feel like a book for long time X-fans, but being a long time X-fan myself I’m hardly going to complain about that.

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Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #2 by Alyssa Wong

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #2Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #2 by Alyssa Wong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first issue got us off to a great start, and this continues to get it right.

This is the kind of Aphra story I love, where there’s more than a hint of tomb raiding, Indiana Jones style archaeological adventure!

But there’s also the usual Doctor Aphra wit, and hints at her complex relationships with pretty much everyone she ever comes into contact with.

Oh, and there are quite a few references to the High Republic too, to satisfy those of eager to find out more about that!

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Fantastic Four (2018-) #21 by Dan Slott

Fantastic Four (2018-) #21Fantastic Four (2018-) #21 by Dan Slott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I dropped FF a while back to make room for all the new X-Men books, but I picked this up because it’s an Empyre tie-in and I wanted to follow the story of the Skrull and Kree kids the FF picked up in Empyre: Fantastic Four #0.

This issue picks up their story after Reed and Sue ask Franlkin and Val to take them back to Earth while they deal with the Kree/Skrull fleet in orbit. I like Franklin and Val, and the two new kids, so I was happy to see that plot thread hadn’t just been dropped.

The kids prove too much to handle and so Val recruits Spider-Man and Wolverine as back up, but Wolverine sniffs that one of the kids, who’s transformed into a tiger, is a Skrull and so runs her through with his claws…and…sigh…I hate that |Wolverine is so often used by non-X-Men writers (and, to be fair, some X-Men writers) as an unthinking murderer. This is sloppy writing by Slott and could have been handled much better. There’s no reason why, if he needed the Skrull girl to be mortally wounded, that she couldn’t just have been harmed in the confusion of the battle.

“Oh no, I didn’t realise it was a kid!” So what? Just running your claws through an enemy wouldn’t be any more acceptable if they were an adult. And, you know, Logan has years of experience, years of keeping his animal tendencies and berserker rage under tight control…because if he doesn’t then people get hurt.

This wasn’t a bad comic, really, but that one point really spoiled it for me. It feels like Wolverine was thrown in here so that he could be front and centre on the cover of a comic that was already going to get a sales boost from being an Empyre tie-in, and then he was badly handled.

The art, however, is lovely, and is what’s kept me from giving this a lower score.

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X-Men/Fantastic Four (2020) #4 by Chip Zdarsky

X-Men/Fantastic Four (2020) #4 (of 4)X-Men/Fantastic Four (2020) #4 by Chip Zdarsky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a slightly disappointing end to an otherwise great little series.

It definitely seems like the dreaded deadlines got the better of the Dodsons at some points in the book…especially on page one…which is a shame, especially considering how delayed this was in coming out, thanks to COVID-19.

As for the writing, it was good enough, just nothing particularly special. Everything seemed to be wrapped up a little too easily. I guess this mini series was never going to radically alter the status quo for any of the characters in it, and I’ll be surprised if the fact that Franklin’s now living on Krakoa ever comes up again (especially as he’s currently still with his family over in the pages of Empyre).

This series was at its best when it was exploring the friendship between Franklin and Kate Pryde, and we didn’t get enough of that, in my humble opinion.

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Wolverine (2020-) #3 by Benjamin Percy

Wolverine (2020-) #3Wolverine (2020-) #3 by Benjamin Percy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok, this is good…this is really good.

Let’s start with the art, which is the best thing I’ve ever seen Adam Kubert draw. He’s doing some really interesting things with the layouts in this book. He’s clearly having a lot of fun. and, talking of fun, Benjamin Percy’s having a lot of fun with the writing too. That whole scene with Logan and Quentin and the Cuckoos was just priceless. Not to mention Logan “borrowing” Magneto’s helmet!

I mean, there’s still plenty of that gritty seriousness you expect from a Wolverine book, but what there is also is a creative team that’s stretching its legs and really enjoying itself.

I was going to give this four stars, but…no…it deserves that extra star for surprising me.

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