S.W.O.R.D. #5 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #5S.W.O.R.D. #5 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabien Cortex is an entire bag of d**ks.

So, it’s a testament to the skills of Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti that they manage to make us feel sorry for Cortez while still reiterating that he is, indeed, an entire bag of d**ks.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, Amelia Voght is teleporting a mysterious assassin around and bumping off the various contenders in the Snarkwar…the war for the throne of the Zn’rk empire.

And these two seemingly unrelated plot points…Cortez being a bag of d**ks and the assassination of Zn’rk royalty are connected both thematically and plot wise. Which, you know, is kinda’ impressive. Well done, that man.

It’s also good to see the Arakko mutants finally have some involvement in one of the X-books. It was beginning to feel like X Of Swords was going to have no real ramifications, which would have been a shame.

And then there’s that big space warehouse full of mysterium…

(And Abigail Brand looks good in a green suit).

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Way of X #1 by Simon Spurrier

Way of X #1Way of X #1 by Simon Spurrier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is something rotten in the state of Krakoa.

We’ve known this for some time. Really, it’s been clear from the start…that there’s something dark lurking in the background. That Krakoa is tainted. People have been acting out of character or, at the very least, indulging the worst aspects of their personalities. I’m thinking specifically about Beast here, but he’s not the only one. And, certainly, this issue shows us that the youth of Krakoa are acting with reckless abandon, with no regard for their lives…after all, they can just be resurrected, right? And within the pages of this comic Professor X reveals that he’s aware of a dark, malevolent force that’s been evading his detection, but Cerebro is certain that it’s an Omega level mutant…

And this is written by Si Spurrier so I should have figured out who it was sooner than I did. But, you know, spoilers…

It feels like the seeds for this series started being sown as long ago as HoX/PoX, and I have to wonder if they always had Spurrier in mind to write it. After all, he’s the obvious choice, having written the definitive series about…that character…but, either way, this is perfect.

It’s not just a well written book though, the art is also of the standard one has come to expect from a modern X-book.

Somehow I’ve got this far into this review without even mentioning Nightcralwer, who’s ostensibly the main character. Spurrier writes a great Kurt, a character who’s always been a melting pot of internal conflicts, both swashbuckling adventurer and thoughtful, deeply spiritual man. Spurrier seems to be exploring both facets of his character here…Kurt’s a man full of contradictions and nobody’s more aware of that than Kurt.

All in all, this is a superb start to an excellent new series, and I can’t wait to read more!

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Silk (2021) #1 by Maurene Goo

Silk (2021) #1 (of 5)Silk (2021) #1 by Maurene Goo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally getting around to cracking this open and I took one look at the art and thought, “Oh, am I going to like this?”

Well…funny thing…it turns out I did, and I liked it a lot. I’ve liked Cindy Moon, aka Silk, for a long time, so much so that a while back I felt compelled to track down her first appearance (and considering how much it’s selling for now, I’m very glad I did). As this new series begins Cindy is starting a new job as a journalist working for J Jonah Jameson’s digital news platform. JJJ has taken a liking to her because she’s more “analog” than digital, due to her having spent ten years living in a bunker (it was a whole thing). Oh, in case you didn’t know, Cindy was bitten by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker and also gained spider powers…but then got shut up in a bunker for a decade (as I said, it was a whole thing).

The art is reminiscent of Aja’s work on Hawkeye, very expressive, very “graphic”…for want of a better word. The writing is witty and sharp and makes you instantly warm to Cindy and her supporting cast.

I can tell I’m going to enjoy this mini series a lot.

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Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness #1 by L.L. McKinney

Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness #1Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness #1 by L.L. McKinney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, of course, like a fool, I read this after Power Rangers #6, and it leads directly into it…but I’ve been letting my Power Rangers comics build up because it’s honestly hard to keep up with everything I’m reading at the moment. Maybe I should cut back…

Anyway, this was excellent and focused on Astronema’s youth and her time being raised by Ecliptor in Dark Specter’s service. It’s been a loooong time since I watched the Power Rangers series’ with Astronema in them, but I remember her being one of the more interesting and complex villains in Power Rangers history. This comic certainly builds on that and adds even greater depth to her history.

Definitely worth piking up if you’re reading the two regular Power Rangers series, but there’s plenty here for any long time Power Rangers fan to enjoy.

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A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

A Test of Courage (Star Wars: The High Republic)A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I ummed and ahhed about whether to give this book four or five stars for a while, but then I realised that my only issue with it was that it wasn’t what I expected it to be, and it’s not fair to judge a book against my expectations, I should review it for what it actually is.

You see, I moved straight on to reading this after Light of the Jedi, rather than reading a non-Star Wars book, as I usually do after reading a Star Wars book, because I assumed it would be a quick read. I thought I’d plow through this in a matter of days, and I was wrong. It’s a smaller sized hardback book, with larger type and it’s aimed at a younger audience, so I thought I’d finish it quickly. But what I found was a much deeper and engaging book that I expected. So, it’s not the book’s fault that I wasn’t able to finish it quickly and move on to another Witcher novel!

This book mainly deals with the subjects of loss and grieving, and how the grieving process can lead you to a dark place…which is especially dangerous for a Jedi (which is why attachments are discouraged, after all). We not only see this through the young Jedi Padawan, Imri, who loses his master, but also through a young boy called Honesty, who loses his father. Both of these deaths occur during a Nihil attack that leaves these two boys, along with young Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh and the even younger Avon Starros (an ancestor of Sanna Starros, who’s currently hanging out with Doctor Aphra over in her comic), stranded on a moon called Wevo, where the rain is so caustic that it can burn through their flesh.

Eventually they discover that they have company on Wevo, the Nihil who destroyed the ship they were travelling on and who are ultimately responsible for the death of their loved ones. Naturally this leads them facing the moral quandary of whether to take revenge or seek justice…and, well, it’s a Star Wars book so you can probably guess how it ends, but there are enough twists along the way to keep you from getting bored.

The characters are compelling and the book leaves you wanting to know more about all of them, and I believe we will, at the very least, be getting more of Vernestra and Imri (who have already had a brief cameo in the High Republic comic series), but I very much hope we also get to see more of the brilliant Avon too.

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Mighty Morphin #6 by Ryan Parrott

Mighty Morphin #6Mighty Morphin #6 by Ryan Parrott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We slow the pace waaaay down this issue, which is fine, it can’t be all action all the time. Well, it can be, but then the comic would just be the TV show and there’d be very little room for plot or character development.

The team basically spend most of this issue angsting about the fact that the military are going to nuke Angel Grove unless they can lower Lord Zedd’s energy dome in thirty six hours…and they have no idea how to do that. This provides an opportunity for Parrot to subvert the Power Rangers usual hyper-positivity as the whole team are worried that their family and friends are being tortured by Lord Zedd and Tommy’s attempt to give them all a rousing pep talk falls flat.

I’m guess next issue we’re going to flash back to what the heck has been going on in the dome in the meantime because, SPOILERS, when the team finally makes it inside the dome it seems that the new Green Ranger has flipped sides…which is pretty much the Green Ranger’s trademark move, so we should probably have seen it coming…

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Mighty Morphin #5 by Ryan Parrot

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

We take a breather from wall to wall action to find out how Matt became the Green Ranger, following him over the weeks leading up to the events in #4.

It’s incredibly well done, given that I had literally no idea who Matt was going in to this, I now feel like I’m caught up and understand who the character is and what motivates him. It’s a fascinating look into what makes a Ranger, and even though Zordon didn’t create him, Matt most definitely has the spirit of a Power Ranger.

As others have pointed out it also confirms that the coin and the morphing process imbue a Ranger with fighting skills they might not have otherwise possessed.

This is great stuff, and provides the deeper dive into Power Rangers lore that the TV show is, inevitably, unable to deliver.

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Mighty Morphin #4 by Ryan Parrott

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

This is great stuff. Action packed. Full of drama. We get some back story for Zordon (who wasn’t always a big, blue floating head) and the Power Rangers are essentially beaten by Lord Zedd.

The whole of Angel Grove is trapped under a giant energy dome and the Rangers are trapped on the outside…all except the mysterious Green Ranger. And the Green Ranger is…some guy!

Well, I’m sure that people who haven’t started reading Power Rangers with this series know who he is, but I haven’t a clue. Which brings me back to a complain that I’ve mostly had of this book’s sister book, Power Rangers…it’s incredibly inaccessible for new readers.

Still, it’s a ton of fun, and I’m sure I’ll catch up eventually!

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Power Rangers #6 by Ryan Parrott

Power Rangers #6Power Rangers #6 by Ryan Parrott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Parrot continues his trend of playing with genre tropes and doing them superbly.

This time it’s a train heist, as Zack and Jason have got themselves imprisoned by SPD, along with Astronema, so Trini has to team up with Ecliptor to rescue them all from a mag lev train during a prisoner transfer. It’s the exact scenario you’ve seen a million times before, but Power Rangers style, so it’s cool.

Meanwhile Drakkon pays a visit to the alien Zack and Jason were playing space poker with last issue to see about that fusion converter he conned them out of.

The Rangers struggle to come to terms with the moral grey areas that Drakkon has led them into…and their betrayal of Zordon has forced them into. It makes for great drama, and that mixed with some high octane action makes for a great comic.

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Power Rangers #5 by Ryan Parrott

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

Look, ok, I’m still pretty lost plot wise, but I’m only human…and a Power Rangers fan…

…so when Astronema shows up…and then SPD makes an appearance…it makes me a happy little Power Rangers fan.

I guess I’m easily pleased, but that’s pretty much a prerequisite of being a Power Rangers fan. Give me a team of teenagers with attitude dressed in primary colours and reference bits of Power Rangers lore while punching and kicking happens and I’m happy.

And, sure, the whole intergalactic poker game thing is a well worn trope…but it’s a good one, and it’s done well here.

So, good stuff!

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