Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #6 by Alyssa Wong

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #6Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #6 by Alyssa Wong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a perfectly fine issue of Doctor Aphra.

It’s dialogue heavy, being mostly set up for Aphra’s new adventure (which is, of course, inevitably linked to the Nihil and the High Republic, because, apparently, everything has to be now), with reasonable but by no means outstanding art.

Which is…fine.

But I’m left missing that spark that earlier Aphra stories had. At this point I’m no longer sure that the character really warrants a solo series.

EDIT TO ADD: I just noticed that this issue is illustrated by two different pencillers, one being the usually excellent Ray-Anthony Height, which probably explains why the art felt wildly inconsistent, with sudden drops in quality.

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X of Swords: Destruction #1 by Jonathan Hickman

X of Swords: Destruction #1X of Swords: Destruction #1 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes. Bravo. Well done. I had worried that maybe Hickman and Howard wouldn’t be able to stick the landing, but this was just spot on.

Really, if you’d been paying attention for the previous 21 chapters of X Of Swords none of this should have been surprising. But that’s no bad thing, I like a story where everything’s been carefully set up, so long as it all pays off in the end. And pay off it does here. Here we have the rebirth of the Captain Britain Corps, S.W.O.R.D.s space station proving to be the tenth sword of Krakoa, Apocalypse donning the mask of Annihilation and thereby winning the tournament for Krakoa and, finally, uniting the mutants of Krakoa and Arrako. I think I saw all of it coming, but what matters is not WHAT happened but HOW it happened, and it all happened wonderfully. Both the writing and art are spectacular throughout. And, holy hell, I never thought anyone would ever make me care about and empathise with Apocalypse. Well done, Hickman and Howard, well done indeed.

This whole event has been a real treat, and I’ve loved the fact that the story has continued in a mostly linear fashion from chapter to chapter. Too often these events feel disjointed, with tie-in books that are only tangentially related. Not so here, as the final chapter proves, you need to have been reading everything and paying attention. That issue of Cable that everyone thought was a bit irrelevant? Turns out that was crucial to the conclusion. And, yes, I know some people were put off by how silly it got in the second half, but, honestly…I loved that. As a long time Excalibur fan of old, I love a bit of silly in my X-books.

What’s more, going forward, this event is going to have significant consequences. There are now a LOT more mutants, Doug Ramsey has a wife (Bei is bae) and there are now several significantly powerful wild cards on the scene. Plus, as I mentioned above, the Captain Britain Corps is back, and it counts a swan among its membership.

I loved HOX/POX and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Dawn Of X, but X Of Swords has just taken things to the next level, and I can’t wait to read what comes next!

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Excalibur (2019-) #15 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #15Excalibur (2019-) #15 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bei is bae.

All hell has, quite literally, broken loose…well, not hell, exactly, but Amenth. Apocalypse’s near defeat of Genesis, and her subsequently donning the mask of Annihilation has led to, well, the gloves being taken off, so to speak, and all out war breaking out between the champions of Krakoa and the hordes of Amenth.

And, of course, Bei chooses love over war, because, as I said, Bei is bae. And I love Doug and Bei, they’re so sweet. (And, yes, it’s unrealistic for people to fall in love so quickly, but it’s also unrealistic for pretty much everything else that’s happened in the story to happen…and people fall in love in movies this quickly all the time, so just shush and enjoy it).

Speaking of love, has all this really been a pretence for Saturnyne to weave a love spell to win back her Captain Britain? If so, she’s out of luck…

This is wonderful, and all that’s left now is…the end?

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X-Men #15 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #15X-Men #15 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And so, the end is near…

I could have read all three remaining parts of X Of Swords before writing my reviews of them but decided not to, so I don’t yet know how it ends…

But what we have here is a Krakoa that’s falling apart, or, rather, the quiet council is…as Scott and Jean decide to go and rescue their son, Cable, against its wishes. Although it very much seems that Charles is pleased by this.

Meanwhile, Apocalypse and Genesis battle…and we find out which of them is the fittest…

And…ok…this is just ramping up the tension and I need to go read the next part now, sorry. But this is good. This is very good!

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Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) #2 by Kieron Gillen

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) #2 (of 5)Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) #2 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you’d told me thirty years ago that one day Marvel Comics would publish a Warhammer 40k series and that it would be excellent, I wouldn’t have believed you. Not because Marvel weren’t good, but because the idea of Marvel putting out a book like…well, like this…was just incinceivable.

And yet here it is! And it is, indeed, excellent. Both the writing and art are superb and , I’ll be honest, I didn’t see the twist at the end of this issue coming, but it feels entirely right.

If you like 40k and you like comics then you’ll like this.

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Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #7 by Ethan Sacks

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #7Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #7 by Ethan Sacks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is just…not good.

Well, the cover’s lovely. Lee Bermejo’s done a fantastic job, and the cover prominently features 4-Lom and Zuckuss, who I like. Unfortunately the comic within continues to prominently feature Beilert Valance and his incredibly derivative story. It turns out that the woman he left behind is now married to another man, which gives Valance yet another reason to angst. You see…no woman could ever love a man as hideous as he… Cos, you know, women always find it romantic when you assume that they’re shallow.

Also, 4-Lom and Zuckuss succeed in capturing Vlance and the young girl he’s protecting, but he offers them a shiny gem stone in return for letting him escape. But there was nothing stopping them from not letting him go and still keeping the gem…other than that they’re just stupid, I guess.

I completely understand that a Bounty Hunters series makes sense, but what doesn’t make any sense to me is focusing that series on an obscure character from the original Marvel Star Wars run.

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Juggernaut (2020-) #3 by Fabian Nicieza

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

This series just keeps getting better. I want this to be an ongoing, seriously, two more issues of this just isn’t enough. (Uh, my wallet just told me to add that I don’t want it to be an ongoing as I’m already reading too many comics as it is).

I love D-Cel, I love Juggy, I love the interaction between them. I also loved the courtroom stuff in this issue. Very clever.

And, yeah, I’ve gone on about it before…but Ron Garney’s art… The man was born to draw the Juggernaut.

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Cable (2020-) #6 by Gerry Duggan

cable #6Cable (2020-) #6 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, what did I say? That the X-Men being defeated probably didn’t serve Saturnyne’s purposes and that she probably had something up her sleeve. I mean, I didn’t use those exact words, but I’m tired…

There are some places where Noto’s usually breath-taking art feels a little rushed, but we can forgive that as the whole is still exceptional and…wow…that cover art!

Unusually for an X Of Swords chapter, this actually quite heavily features the title character of this comic, Cable, who faces his own round in a to the death fight with Cypher’s new wife, Bei. A fight which reveals him to be more compassionate than his older self. Some significant character development for Nate, setting him apart from the other version of himself. I’m curious as to the end of his message for Esme and the girls, though…

The twist in the fight between Gorgon and The White Sword was well executed, and now the sides are even going into the final fight between Apocalypse and Genesis. But with three chapters left that’s either going to be one hell of an epic fight, or the final fight won’t be the end of it…

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Hellions (2020-) #6 by Zeb Wells

HELLIONS-6Hellions (2020-) #6 by Zeb Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, if you were wondering what happened to the Hellions’ quest to steal the swords of Arakko before the tournament started, given that the tournament has already started, now you know.

You may have been thinking that it was a stupid plan and that Mr Sinister must have been “up to something,” and that’s because it was, indeed, a stupid plan and Mr Sinsister was very much “up to something.” What remains to be seen is whether or not he’s gotten away with it (which may or may not depend on the meddling of some pesky kids).

This was fun! Twisted but fun! Which pretty much sums this book up. I kinda loved the Locus Vile, who’s leader, Tarn, is essentially the Arakkan equivalent of Mr Sinister. This wasn’t something they really bonded over, however…no…

I expect this issue will have significant “consequences” moving forward. But one thing’s for sure, Sinister is not to be trusted. Although, that’s not really anything new, is it?

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X-Force #14 by Benjamin Percy

X-Force #14X-Force #14 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the exquisite silliness of the truth about Pogg Ur-Pogg to the absolute, undisputed awesomeness of Storm, this one has it all!

Of particular note is the absolute gorgeousness of Joshua Cassara’s art, which adds gravitas to even the most absurd of the contests included in this issue…whether that be a dance off or an eating contest. It’s fair to say that the tournament central to X Of Swords is not the succession of sword fights that people were expecting, and the event is all the better for it.

It’s also very clear that this is not a fair contest and that Saturnyne is not a neutral referee here. Because of course she’s not. She’s always been a schemer. That said, I’m not sure that the X-Men’s defeat works to her advantage, so there are likely to be some twists yet to come.

All in all this continues to be a great event. Let’s just hope it can stick the landing, eh?

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