Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #9 by Ethan Sacks

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #9Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #9 by Ethan Sacks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Valance has as much depth as one of the space pirates from a packet of 1980s Space Raiders.

That might a be a little harsh, but still… The most interesting part of this issue was a flash back to scenes we’ve seen before in the Han Solo: Imperial Cadet series, which reintroduced Valance into the canon.

The rest of the story is just…frustrating. What’s the point of the Ohnaka gang without Hondo? Why is Dengar here when he literally does absolutely nothing? And, the “twist” in the tale makes no sense. Valance was turning the tide against the pirates, and then he seemingly speeds off into hyperspace, abandoning the people he was rescuing. But, wait, no, he somehow ejected from his X-Wing before it made the jump to lightspeed and is making his way back into the ship the pirates are now boarding, presumably so next issue he can take them out Die Hard style. Why? What does he possibly gain from doing this other than feeling like he’s Bruce Willis?

That’s who should play Valance in a movie: Bruce Willis. He too used to be cool back in the day but is a complete irrelevance now.

When it started I thought this book was going to be a limited series, I really wish it had been.

That said, there’s definitely room for a Bounty Hunters series, just not one that has Valance as the main character. Of all the Legends characters to bring back, why him?

I’d drop this book if I wasn’t a compulsive Star Wars completist…and an eternal optimist.

View all my reviews

Strange Academy (2020-) #7 by Skottie Young

Strange Academy (2020-) #7Strange Academy (2020-) #7 by Skottie Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this is simply superb.

We open on a touching moment between Emily and Doyle Dormammu. They’re alone together on a boat on a river at night, and Emily wonders what would happen if she kissed Doyle. Would she catch on fire? You know, because his head is…on fire…all the time… He replies that nobody’s ever tried, and she says she’d like to change that…and then…she catches fire…and wakes up…and has to deal with the horror of what happened at the end of the last issue. You see, Doyle’s head isn’t on fire anymore, because Dr Strange had to let him die while he saved her.

This issue is full of raw emotion, ably conveyed in both script and art. This may we be some of Ramos’s best work yet, particularly in the scene in which Dr Strange confronts Hoggoth and begs him to save Emily.

It’s exceptional work, but it’s ultimately elevated even further by the final three silent pages, where the art is left to tell the story in a moment stillness which takes us through a whole range of emotions…as Emily finally gives Doyle that kiss…

…and, well, you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out what happens next.

View all my reviews

X-Men #17 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #17X-Men #17 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Can we just…not talk about Brett Booth? I mean…do we have to?

Look, whatever you think about Booth or his art, the simple fact is that he was a really, really strange choice to illustrate an X-Men book…that’s not supposed to be a nostalgia trip appealing to lovers of 90s comics…in the year 2021. This is just…odd. His artwork doesn’t fit in this run, and in a weird way it made me feel uncomfortable in a way that I doubt it will in X-Men: Legends. This is just not how we draw the X-Men anymore. It’s not bad. It’s technically proficient. It just doesn’t…fit.

The issue as a whole is an odd one, too. A strange bit of post-X Of Swords filler, that moves on some plot lines we last visited in the pages of Hickman’s New Mutants. Except it’s not New Mutants, so Scott, jean and Ororo take the forefront, while Sam and ‘Berto are relegated to comic relief. But while their antics were delightfully amusing in the pages of New Mutants, here they fall a little flat.

I assume that a lot of this is set up for future stories (possibly involving Storm adventuring in space), but the actual story here is unsatisfying. We don’t really know the kidnapped princess…we’ve not spent much time with the Shi’ar recently…so we don’t really know what’s at stake. Do the rebels really have a point? I mean…nobody voted for the Imperial Majestrix, did they?

Anyway, as I think I’ve made clear, this one just felt a little off.

I’m sure a lot of people will be raving about this being what X-Men comics are supposed to be like though. But, you know, it stopped being the nineties a while ago.

View all my reviews

Wolverine (2020-) #9 by Benjamin Percy

Wolverine (2020-) #9Wolverine (2020-) #9 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sigh…let’s just get this out of the way first, when reviewing anything you should review it for what it is, not what it isn’t…and complaining about continuity issues in an X-book is like complaining about mutants in an X-book. They’re going to be there, and unless you’re going to have fun with them you should probably just move on. After all, there’s an entire podcast dedicated to walking you through the ins, outs and retcons of comics greatest superhero soap opera. As I’ve said before, continuity exists to serve the story, not the other way around.

(You should totally listen to Jay & Miles X-Plain The X-Men, by the way.)

Anyway, on with the review…

Wolverine visits the Legacy House on Madripoor, an auction room that specialises in super hero ephemera, such as Spider-Man’s grave, Captain America’s mask, Wolverine’s hand and…Maverick. Yes, that Maverick, the German mutant/secret agent and Wolverine’s team X team mate from back in the 90s who was never actually as popular as Marvel seemed to think he was. He’s one of those characters that Marvel occasionally takes off the shelf, dusts off and tries to do something with only to end up putting him back and forgetting about whatever it was they were doing.

Anyway, he’s back, and he’s been mind wiped and he’s available to the highest bidder…not only as a super tough special agent but also, as he’s a mutant, as a way onto Krakoa. This is, of course, very bad, and can’t be allowed to happen. Handily, Logan and Maverick developed a mnemonic back in their Team X days to help them break their programming and remember who they really are. So, you know, Logan does the thing, and presto, one deprogrammed Maverick and, presumably, a whole lot of fighting next issue (because that’s what Wolverine is the best at and it’s not pretty…or words to that effect).

With Adam Kubert on art duties (stunning work, of course, but I do kinda find myself missing Vik Bogdanovic) this really does feel like a classic Wolverine book. The cover, by Kubert, is quite simply drop dead gorgeous.

All in all a solid bit of classic Wolverine action. Good stuff!

View all my reviews

New Mutants (2019-) #15 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants (2019-) #15New Mutants (2019-) #15 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two issues into Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’s run and I’m definitely sold on this book.

The struggle with any modern New Mutants book is whether it should focus on the original team, who are far from “new” at this point, or a group of young mutants who aren’t the New Mutants but are both new and mutants. What this book has done is strike the perfect balance, casting the original New Mutants in the role of mentors and teachers of a new generation of mutants on Krakoa.

However, all is not well in this mutant Garden of Eden, as the Council is refusing to resurrect Rahne Sinclair’s deceased son, the child she had with the Asgardian wolf god, Hrimhari. Of course this begs the question: Why? They cite a lack of evidence that he’s actually dead. Might he still be alive somewhere? After all, he is half immortal god, so…it’s a definite possibility.

But, more worrying than that is the presence of Amahl Farouk, aka The Shadow King, on Krakoa. Are the Council aware of his presence? Or is he there secretly? Either way, he seems to have taken upon himself to provide additional mentorship to a small group of young mutants, encouraging them to sue the Crucible not to restore powers lost on M Day, but to restore their physical appearance to what it was before they lost control of their powers when they manifested and irreversibly “disfigured” themselves.

I love how Ayala is thinking about how the processes developed in Krakoan society would affect these young mutants and present them with both opportunities and challenges, and to also expose some of the inherent weaknesses in those systems. It’s interesting and creative work and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where it’s all heading.

Rod Reis’s artwork compliments the story perfectly, evoking Bill Sienkiewicz’s ground breaking work on the title during the eighties without outright aping it. At times it’s highly impressionistic, which may be jarring to some who are more used to overly detailed and crosshatched artwork, but I personally find it very refreshing.

View all my reviews

Excalibur (2019-) #17 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #17Excalibur (2019-) #17 by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Betsy Braddock as Queen of Britain in an alternative reality?

Pete Wisdom visiting Krakoa for the first time and being a sod?

Jubilee being confused about where cats poop?

These are a few of my favourite things.

The only negative thing I have to say is that I’m kinda confused as to why Gambit and Rogue are on this team…and Rictor feels like a weird fit too. But, still, the team can’t just be Betsy and Jubilee (and Pete Wisdom?)…especially when Betsy might not actually be our Betsy…

View all my reviews

Yasmeen #4 by Saif A. Ahmed

Yasmeen #4Yasmeen #4 by Saif A. Ahmed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, this is powerful stuff.

We see less of Yasmeen’s time in captivity in Iraq, with just a very short scene of her attempted escape, and instead focus in her forging friendships in the USA. One such friendship sees her attending a party with a friend, who ends up unconscious and taken advantage of. Some boys take photos of her on their phones and one of the photos begins to spread…but Yasmeen and her mother decide to put a stop to it. They trace the photo and ensure that every copy is deleted.

Once again, this issue made me cry.

Brilliant writing and perfect art.

View all my reviews

Power Rangers #3 by Ryan Parrott

Power Rangers #3Power Rangers #3 by Ryan Parrott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I enjoyed this more than the previous issue, and I enjoyed that a fair amount, so that has to be a good thing, eh?

I liked that the Rangers drew attention to the fact that, yes, this really is Invasion of the Space Vampires, and that the first part owed a lot to Alien/Aliens. I feel that if you’re riffing on media that your characters would likely have consumed then it’s unrealistic if they don’t acknowledge that…but maybe that’s just me?

Drakkon continues to show that he’s unfailingly duplicitous as he double crosses the space vampires, but it’s clear that he only chose to do so when it became clear that the Rangers were going to win. Who’s side is he really on? Well, clearly his own…the Rangers are just fortunate that his interests align with theirs…for now.

Still, as good as this was, I’m glad that the Horrid have ben dealt with quickly and we can move on with the plot. The cliff-hanger ending certainly has me excited to read the next issue!

View all my reviews

Mighty Morphin #3 by Ryan Parrott

Mighty Morphin #3Mighty Morphin #3 by Ryan Parrott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Mighty Morphin continue to battle Lord Zed’s powered up putties, Adam is made to turn on his friends and…Billy’s secret is out!

Which all sounds very dramatic, because it is. This is good stuff. I honestly have no idea who that is that’s behind the Green Ranger, but I’m assuming that if Billy helped her then she can’t be bad. Zordon, however, is continuing his habit of being a big, grumpy, blue head and disapproving of anyone who does anything that wasn’t his idea.

All of this is making me want to read what’s come before so I can actually understand everything that’s going on. But until I can do that I’m just going to enjoy the ride!

View all my reviews

Power Rangers #2 by Ryan Parrott

Power Rangers #2Power Rangers #2 by Ryan Parrott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After an awesome first issue we have something of a slight dip with #2 as the Rangers’ space ship is infiltrated by space vampires called The Horrid.

What results is an alien-esque space thriller as the vampires stalk our heroes through a space ship whose power is failing…although it’s not made clear if this was caused by the vampires or not. Sadly, all too soon there’s a horde of vampires, Trini’s tried blowing them out of the goddam airlock and all the tension has gone.

Oh, and, of course…Drakkon is trying to do a deal with the vampires and sell the Rangers out. Curse his sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Not bad stuff, just not as good as the first issue.

View all my reviews