King In Black (2020-) #4 by Donny Cates

King In Black (2020-) #4 (of 5)King In Black (2020-) #4 by Donny Cates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, I’m definitely into this now, it’s taken me a while but…yeah…this was pretty damn good.

I like the fact that Cates is genuinely working all of the Marvel Universe into this, rather than the usual thing of forgetting that some incredibly powerful heroes exist who could probably lend a hand.

Instead we have jean Grey turn up and use her immense telepathic abilities to help break Knull’s hold on Dylan, and, in turn, bring Doctor Strange, Thor and other back into the fight.

Perhaps ore significantly is the Silver Surfer’s involvement…because why wouldn’t the Surfer be involved? He breaks through the barrier to Earth allowing…something else to make it through.

And what this is would be a big old spoiler. But suffice it to say that Cates appears to be making one of the more obscure corners of the Marvel Universe relevant again…or maybe, really, relevant for the first time.

The art is superb too, and it all makes for a very fun read.

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X-Men Legends (2021-) #1 by Fabian Nicieza

X-Men Legends (2021-) #1X-Men Legends (2021-) #1 by Fabian Nicieza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marvel get Brett Booth to draw another X-Men book, but this time it works. And, if you’re able to set aside some things he’s said on social media in the past (and it’s understandable if you can’t) he does some pretty solid work on this book. It screams mid-nineties, sure, but that’s entirely appropriate as this is a story set after #39 of the nineties adjectiveless X-Men series, with repeated references to an issue of Captain Marvel from 1995.

As for that story, if the whole “third Summers brother” dangling plot thread has been bothering you for a quarter of a century and you really, really want the true identity and backstory of Adam-X “The Extreme” to be resolved…well, this is the comic for you. If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about then, uh, you could do worse than listening to Jay & Miles X-Plain The X-Men who have, I know, covered it in depth. Well, in as much depth as obscure X-Men dangling plotlines from the mid-nineties deserve.

This book very much captures the feel of mid-nineties X-men comics, and how much you liked mid-nineties X-Men will probably determine how much you like enjoy this comic. The one thing that works against it is that, at the time, this plotline would almost certainly have been interwoven with several other ongoing plotlines. The fact that these aren’t slotted in between scene transitions actually feels a little jarring at times, and things feel a little rushed as a consequence. However, that’s definitely made up for with…well…just the thrill of finally having this gap filled.

Because, you see, I have spent the last twenty five years wondering about this, because I’m that kind of obsessive nerd. This book was made for me and people like me, and if I could travel back in time and tell my friends on the Comics And Anime forum on AOL not to worry, because in twenty five years time they’d go back and resolve this dangling plotline it would…well…it would be really, really weird, actually. But probably no weirder than a lot of my posts on that forum.

Anyway, yes, good comic is good, but your mileage may well vary.

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Excalibur (2019-) #18 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #18Excalibur (2019-) #18 by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Betsy’s back, but she’s not Betsy…or is she? Rogue certainly doesn’t think she is…

What’s going on? I guess time will tell.

The best stuff in this issue, however, isn’t the stuff with Betsy, it’s the stuff with Rictor inheriting Apocalypse’s legacy…which is an interesting development. Rictor has always been something of a neglected character who didn’t have a clear place in the X-verse, so it’s good to see him finally getting some attention here.

The art is gorgeous, both linework and colouring.

However, this team still hasn’t really clicked for me, and it’s telling that Rachel Summers keeps ending up hanging around…because what this book needs is more connections to the original Excalibur book. Nightcrawler’s not really doing anything and Pete Wisdom could definitely join the team. And, I’d liek to see more of Brian and Meggan too,

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Cable (2020-) #8 by Gerry Duggan

Cable (2020-) #8Cable (2020-) #8 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clones.

Clones everywhere.

But first, a nice interlude with Domino and Cable, in which Domino laments that Cable used to be too old for her and now he’s too young for her. Time travel, eh?

But, yeah, clones, a dozen of them. Cable clones.

This issue is heavy on action, which is, perhaps, not Phil Noto’s strong suit, but the art is still lovely, because it’s Phil Not, and Phil Noto draws good.

Apparently Stryfe’s behind it all, and Stryfe’s a clone of Cable, so were they Stryfe clones or Cable clones and is there actually any difference between those two things?

It was also cool to get another glimpse of old man Cable, and I suspect it’s Stryfe who’s captured him, and that’s what will tie these two plotlines together. Maybe.

I’m excited for the next issue as it looks like we’re getting some more romance and smooching, which is always fun.

Also if you type “Stryfe” a lot it looks wrong. Although, to be fair, if you type “Stryfe” once it looks wrong too.

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Marauders (2019-) #18 by Gerry Duggan

Marauders (2019-) #18Marauders (2019-) #18 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I get frustrated with stories that have everything going really well and according to plan and then, suddenly, oh no, everything’s gone wrong! Also, I just don’t like these new Reavers…or maybe I don’t like Iceman’s complete indifference to maiming people. Seriously, leaving your opponent maimed rather than dead doesn’t really give you the moral high ground. I’m pretty sure that using weapons that maim your enemies is a war crime, Bobby.

It also feels na├»ve of the Krakoans to think they could wage an economic war with the Verendi and not have the Verendi escalate that war…and that the poor people of Low Town wouldn’t be the ones to pay a heavy price for that.

Still, there are some nice moments in this issue, particularly the moment when Masque realises that they can use their powers to help babies born with disfigurements, and also Charles and Erik’s reaction to the hospital being named after one of the foremost human allies of mutants…Moira McTaggert. So, it’s not common knowledge on Karkoa that Moira’s a mutant then…

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Eternals (2021-) #2 by Kieron Gillen

Eternals (2021-) #2Eternals (2021-) #2 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, this is a mystery, but the mystery is not who killed Zuras, that was almost certainly Thanos, but who let Thanos in? And once you realise this, the whole thing kind of clicks into place.

The dialogue feels…strange…but that’s clearly by design, signifying that the Eternals are “other,” set apart from humanity. The world, as they know it, is a machine, and the machine is broken. The most pressing concern for the Eternals is that this means that they’re cut off from resurrection, but for the rest of the world this means…well…complete ecological collapse. Which is not ideal. But who broke the machine? And why?

Ribic’s faces are still odd, but other than that the art is gorgeous, and I’m starting to get used to their strange expressions.

It’s good to have Sprite referred to as “she” in this, confirming that they have, indeed, chosen to change their gender. I wonder if this will be addressed more fully in future? Part of me rather hopes it isn’t.

I’m enjoying this strange mix of myth, legend and super heroics. It feels new and fresh and I hope that it’s given the time to fully explore its potential.

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X-Force #17 by Benjamin Percy

X-Force #17X-Force #17 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was just wonderful.

From the many death of Quentin Quire, to the touching moments between Quentin and Phoebe, to Quentin requesting a change in the size of his [REDACTED] when being resurrected, this was both funny and emotional in equal measures.

But underlying it all is the creeping threat which is almost certainly a doppelganger or clone of Quentin being controlled by XENO. I suspect that Quentin Quire is about to find out that he is, quite literally, his own worst enemy.

Quentin’s new costume is also great, and I can’t say enough good things about Cassara’s art.

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S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #3 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #3S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #3 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Manifold is a new character to me. I know he’s been around a while, in Hickman’s other work, and also in Black Panther, but I’ve not encountered him before…and he’s a really interesting character. A teleporter who’s not really a teleporter, but can talk to space and get it to do what he wants, whether that’s crossing vast distances in a single step, or cloaking him from view while he infiltrates the Alpha Flight space station and spies on Henry Gyrich.

And spy on Gryrich he does, and discovers that he’s working with ORCHIS, which is a very bad thing indeed. You see ORCHIS were the ones who were building a giant Master Mold in orbit around the sun…ORCHIS are the ones who are trying to create Nimrod.

We also see Manifold visit the Snarks, who are currently in the middle of Snarkwar, an all out war for the Snark throne. Being an old school Power Pack fan I always get excited when the Snarks appear. Manifold tries to recruit their aid in the fight against Knull, but they refuse to make a deal with him. Oh, yeah, did I mention this is a King In Black crossover? Because it is, but it’s done so well that it just feels like a natural part of the story.

Of course we’re reminded on the final page that Knull has taken over Krakoa by possessing Cable. But I guess we’ll be dealing with that next issue…

Anyway, this stuff is great, Ewing is an exceptional writer, and Schiti, who’s aided here by Ray-Anthony Height (another artist I’ve inked in the past) and Bernand Chang (although you can’t see the joins, thanks, in part, to Marte Gracia’s superb colouring), is an exceptional artist.

Bring on S.W.O.R.D. #4!

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Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #10 by Greg Pak

Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #10Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #10 by Greg Pak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A slightly frustrating issue as, despite being expertly written and drawn, it doesn’t get where we want to go until the final page. I was promised Exegol, dammit!

This is one disadvantage to reading a series like this in single issues, rather then in trade paperback form. Issues like this, which basically serve to move us from the end of the previous issue to the start of the next, feel somewhat unsatisfying. In tpb format that’s not a problem because you can just keep reading, but as single issues…I now have to wait.

Still, there’s good stuff here, with Vader taking on a giant, Lovecraftian space squid. That’s not something you get to type every day…

Oh, and I’ve just realised that Ochi definitely survives all of this because he ultimately dies on Pasana.

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Snake Eyes: Deadgame #3 by Rob Liefeld

Snake Eyes: Deadgame #3Snake Eyes: Deadgame #3 by Rob Liefeld
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Where do you start with this?

With the fact that Bullet Man suddenly appears out of nowhere for no reason?

With the fact that the number of swords Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have changes from panel to panel with no rhyme or reasons?

With the fact that Japanese Ninja masters are somehow telling their children stories from Norse mythology?

With the fact that nothing in this bat shit insane comic makes any sense?

Still, it’s a lot of fun…

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