Empyre: Captain America (2020) #3 by Phillip K. Johnson

Empyre: Captain America (2020) #3 (of 3)Empyre: Captain America (2020) #3 by Phillip K. Johnson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“I just realized something about you. Can it really be so simple?”

Apparently it can, Cap. Yes, you really just have to break the magic plant man’s stick and everything will be neatly wrapped up in three pages…mostly by people telling you about stuff they did off panel.

This isn’t awful, exactly, it’s just…dull. Uninspired. A lacklustre tie in to what is an otherwise excellent event. It’s a series with no purpose, no identity, it just is. And that’s just…disappointing.

I don’t expect a tie in like this to be essential reading, I just expect more than a fight and people being weirdly jingoistic and borderline racist towards plant people. There could have been a message here, about how it’s never right to dehumanise an enemy, even if that enemy isn’t human. There’s a brief nod to the fact that the Cotati were oppressed, but that’s quickly dismissed as no excuse for their attack…and given the current political climate in the US, that feels somewhat…uncomfortable. Dehumanising a race of people that are lashing out after generations of oppression is not something that Captain America should be doing, as far as I’m concerned, and it seems strange to me that nobody involved with the creation of this comic seemed to recognise the unfortunate parallels with real world events.

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Empyre: Avengers (2020) #3 by Jim Zub

Empyre: Avengers (2020) #3 (of 3)Empyre: Avengers (2020) #3 by Jim Zub
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While there was nothing particularly outstanding about this book, and the series as a whole, it was a solidly written and drawn series.

This issue neatly wraps up the sub plots of Avengers teams fighting the Cotati across the globe, and then neatly wraps up the main plot with the Savage Land team reviving Ka-Zar and defeating the Cotati in the Savage Land, before neatly segueing back into the main Empyre book.

All in all a good little book.

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Cable (2020-) #3 by Gerry Duggan

Cable (2020-) #3Cable (2020-) #3 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So Nate fights the Space Knights who want the sword he found so they can re-make Earth into Galador, their dead planet. But Nate doesn’t want to give them the sword, or see the Earth remade at the cost of all life on Earth, so he offers to send them back in time to save Galador before it gets destroyed.

Only problem is that the time travel tech is in his arm, his old arm, which is still attached to his old body, the one he killed…which is now in the possession of Deadpool, because of course it is.

Hilarity ensues.

Also, he’s still dating the Cuckoos.

Look, this is great, it’s fun and the art by Phil Noto is as gorgeous as it ever was.

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Excalibur (2019-) #11 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #11Excalibur (2019-) #11 by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love the writing and love the art. This series really feels like classic Excalibur to me, which is a very good thing.

I really enjoyed seeing how protective Jubilee is of Shogo, even though her baby’s now a full grown dragon, and getting more glimpses of Apocalypse’s past is always interesting. And who thought the Externals would ever have been returned to as a plot point?

It’s also good to see Rictor get some attention, even if he is missing his Shatty-buns…

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Avengers (2018-) #35 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #35Avengers (2018-) #35 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an enjoyable read, but it’s still a lot of set up, building up to what’s to come…which I’m expecting to be epic.

Aaron is drawing all the plot lines together…Konshu, Mephisto, Starbrand…and once they all meet it’s going to be veeeery interesting.

I also appreciate that despite Empyre being a very Avengers-centric event, it hasn’t encroached on the main Avengers book at all, and so Aaron has been free to tell this story without interruptions.

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Wolverine (2020-) #4 by Benjamin Percy

Wolverine (2020-) #4Wolverine (2020-) #4 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, if it wasn’t weird enough that the last comic I read/reviewed, Lord Of Empyre: Swordsman #1, was illustrated by an artist I’ve coloured, this was illustrated by an artist I’ve inked, Vik Bogdanovic. As such, I’m not sure I can really be objective about this issue.

That said, the art is gorgeous. Vik has a real knack for drawing interesting, characterful faces, rather than just cookie cutter comic book people. The way he renders the denizens of the bar that’s central to this story adds an air of atmosphere and creepiness to the proceedings. I’m not even going to gripe about the fact that he’s inking himself here, because I know he draws digitally, and, honestly, it never really made much sense to me that he wasn’t just producing the finished art himself when I worked with him…although I thoroughly enjoyed our collaboration.

As for the writing, that’s great too. It opens with a laugh, as Logan returns Magneto’s helmet, which he “borrowed” last issue. It gets progressively darker from there, until Omega Red shows up in all of his nineties, edgy, “death powers” glory. If you were disappointed that he wasn’t in X-Force after he appeared on the cover, there’s no such disappointment here.

This is a dark, moody, atmospheric tale, and all involved have done a spectacular job. And I didn’t even mention the colours, which are, of course, superb.

Next on my to be read pile is Avengers #35. I’m pretty sure I haven’t worked with anyone who worked on that…

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Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #4 by Ethan Sacks

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #4Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #4 by Ethan Sacks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This series just isn’t good. I gather there’s some controversy regarding the violence against women depicted in this issue. That’s probably a valid criticism, but, honestly, I it didn’t provoke much of a reaction to me because I got bored of this series long ago. The plot is incredibly muddy, to the point that this issue basically stops in its tracks and explains what’s going on for anyone who might have been mystified because, four issues in, it really wasn’t at all clear what was going on or who anyone is.

So, anyway, now the interesting, queer, person of colour character is dead, and we’ve set up a fight between Boba Fett and Valance. Yawn.

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Lords Of Empyre: Swordsman (2020) #1 (Lords Of Empyre by Alex Paknadel

Lords Of Empyre: Swordsman (2020) #1 (Lords Of Empyre (2020))Lords Of Empyre: Swordsman (2020) #1 (Lords Of Empyre by Alex Paknadel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interestingly, one of the earliest books I worked on in comics was as a colourist on the colour edition of The Flying Friar, which was illustrated by Thomas Nachlik, who also drew this. And he did a pretty decent job of drawing it.

Overall, this comic is ok, it fleshes out some of the backstory of the Cotati version of the Swordsman and his son, the Celestial Messiah, Quoi, and goes some way to explain what, for want of a better word, radicalised Quoi, and set him on a path that would lead him to declare war on all sentient, animal based life. At it’s heart it is, unsurprisingly, an environmental tale, about how mankind treats the natural world poorly, and you can’t really argue with that. I’m just not sure I buy Quoi’s response that therefore all human’s need to die. It’s a bit much, you know?

But, yeah, not a bad little comic, but nothing exceptional either.

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