Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 by Kieron Gillen

Marvel's Voices: Pride #1 (Marvel's Voices (2020-2021))Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 (Marvel’s Voices by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was lovely. I might be a little biased as I worked with Luciano Vecchio on The Interactives about a decade ago, and it’s really good to see him getting to work on a project like this in such a high profile way. But I think this book stands up regardless of that.

It feels a little on the nose at times, especially when it deals with trans characters, but I guess it’s a little too much to expect subtlety from Marvel in that area yet. It deals with matters of sexuality far rather than it does with gender, but so does society…and Marvel is certainly doing better than the world at large here. Speaking of trans characters, I was really pleased to see Cloud included here, even if they were only in one panel, and Marvel were really ahead of the curve when they introduced a gender fluid character back in the eighties. Although I’d really like to see Bobby Drake’s feelings for Cloud explored in relation to his sexuality.

Much of the issue, which is a series of short stories featuring characters from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, is simply delightful. We’ve certainly come a long way from Northstar shouting, “I am gay!” while punching a Mountie.

One thing that really stood out to me was the Mystique/Destiny story, in which it seems to be revealed that Destiny doesn’t just share a name with Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes stories, she apparently actually is that Irene Adler. Not sure if that’s ever been suggested before and I have to honest and admit that the connection had never clicked in my brain before.

While any anthology always has some stories that work better than others, this feels greater than the sum of its parts and is truly something special.

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Silk #4 (of 5) by Maurene Goo

Silk #4 (of 5) (Silk (2021))Silk #4 (of 5) (Silk by Maurene Goo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s exposition ahoy as we find out that Silvermane is Saya’s father and he spends the entire issue filling Cindy in on her backstory.

Which is a shame, because this series has otherwise been great.

But there’s just too much exposition in this issue and not enough Silk. This massive infodump could have been spread throughout the series rather than just delivered in on go.

Hopefully it’ll pick back up again in the next issue.

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Heroes Return #1 by Jason Aaron

Heroes Return #1Heroes Return #1 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wondered at the end of my review of Heroes Reborn #7 if Aaron would stick the landing. My concern being that his Avengers run so far has been all build up without any satisfying conclusions, with each arc only serving to raise the stakes of the ongoing narrative rather than ever actually resolving things…

…and, yeah, that. I mean, this is great, apart from two small things:

1) The actual way the story concludes is deeply unsatisfying with the Pandemonium Cube simply slipping from Coulson’s grasp in the midst of a chaotic battle and reality resetting.


2) The end of this simply sets up the next big story. Which, you know, I’m excited for, but I have to wonder if Aaron has an ultimate destination in mind or if the stakes will simply keep building until Marvel decide to reboot the Avengers with a new writer.

I think mostly I’m just annoyed that a ploy to keep readers on board and reading is so completely working as far as I’m concerned! Ha! A Council of 616 Mephistoes? You have my continued attention, Mr Aaron. Let’s see where you’re going with this…

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Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 by Greg Pak

Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 (Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-))Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 (Star Wars: Darth Vader by Greg Pak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Greg Pak continues to do an excellent job of tying all three trilogies together while offering us some real deep cuts into the existing continuity and serving up bit of extreme fan service in Vader vs IG-88.

This was not a fight I thought I needed to see, but here we are, and it was epic. Vader’s continued search for Han Solo, because he believes he’ll lead him to Luke, winds up in a confrontation with the Droid Crush, who just so happen to be working with IG-88. Once again I find myself wondering about the time gap between that little scene with all the bounty hunters on the bridge of the Executor and this. But, as I said before, the time it would have taken the Falcon to fly from the Anoat system to Bespin probably accounts for that (and, don’t forget, Luke did ALL of his Jedi training with Yoda in the same time gap).

Anyway, as fun as this is, the real meat was saved to the end. Who would have thought anyone would have ever done anything with Sly Moore, eh? I can’t wait for the next issue…

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Wolverine #13 by Benjamin Percy

Wolverine #13 (Wolverine (2020-))Wolverine #13 (Wolverine by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This wasn’t exactly bad, just a little disappointing, and…well…this was really an extra issue of X-Force, and not an issue of Wolverine. He was hardly in it.

But, let’s not review this for what it isn’t, let’s review this for what it is, and what is it? Well, it’s the second part of X-Force at the Hellfire Gala. Beast’s meddling in Terra Verde is exposed and…the resolution is honestly odd. I’m not sure that I’d accept a billion dollars as recompense for a coup in which the people of my nation were effectively enslaved and mind controlled. And I don’t think describing Beast as “a bastard” really goes far enough. He’s an increasingly dangerous, amoral, megalomaniac. If he was wearing a purple cape and helmet the X-Men would be fighting him, not counting him among their number. As I’ve said many times before, something is rotten at the heart of Krakoa, and it’s not just Onslaught.

This is all headed somewhere very bad. If you went into the current era of X-boos thinking that Krakoa would be a mutant utopia, then I think you are both very naïve and very mistaken.

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Way of X #3 by Simon Spurrier

Way of X #3Way of X #3 by Simon Spurrier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is just superb.

Spurrier picks up from the Hellfire Gala with Kurt getting blind drunk and waking up the morning after with a raging hangover and a bee in his bonnet about the birds and the bees. Or, to be more specific, about the mutants’ need to make more mutants.

This brings him into conflict with Stacy X, who has been extolling the mental health benefits of sexual intimacy and dolling out contraceptives for those partaking. This, of course, rubs the very Catholic Nightcrawler the wrong way, but more specifically he’s focused on the need to populate Krakoa with mutant babies. However, she points out that not only do the resurrection protocols have the whole “make more mutants” thing covered, but they’re getting a steady stream of abandoned mutant babies dropped through the gates of Krakoa, and what they need is parents.

Add to this explorations of mutant sexuality, when certain powers prevent physical contact, and David Haller using that to root out the corrupting influence of Onslaught and you get a very dense and thought provoking comic…which also happens to be very funny and just generally wonderful.

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S.W.O.R.D. #6 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #6S.W.O.R.D. #6 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For those who shrugged and said, “Why should we care?” after the events of Planet Size X-Men, here’s your answer. As that specific question is levelled at Abigail Brand by the group of intergalactic diplomats who’s gathered on the Peake to witness the terraforming of Mars.

After all, what’s the terraforming of one planet to the Shi’ar Imperium?

But, of course, there’s more to it than that, and Brand’s revelation could turn the galactic economy on its head. Which, you know, should probably be boring, but it’s not boring when Al Ewing writes it.

And then Doom turns up and demands to know who’s king of the solar system. The answer is, of course, obvious, but I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet.

the final scene is one that’s been a long time coming and will certainly have major repercussions moving forward, but…once again…spoilers!

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Demon Days: Mariko (2021) #1 by Peach MoMoKo

Demon Days: Mariko (2021) #1Demon Days: Mariko (2021) #1 by Peach MoMoKo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is what you get when you mix Japanese folklore with the Marvel Universe (in a story that isn’t about giving Wolverine a hefty dose of man pain).

Stunningly illustrated by Peach Momoko, this issue weaves a tale of mystery and mysticism and features an alternate version of Black Widow that makes the character far more interesting than she’s ever been. The central character, Mariko, learns that everyone she knows and loves has been lying to her all of her life, and that she’s not even human.

I’m very much looking forward to the next issue in this series!

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Alien #4 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Alien #4Alien #4 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The pacing in this issue is, quite simply, superb!

This feels like an action/horror film on paper…well, it feels like an Alien film. The tension is palpable as you wonder if anyone’s going to get out of this alive…as the characters make the same stupid and all-too-human decisions that they do in the films. They should just blow up the station, but they foolishly believe there’s hope…when we know that the only thing that can possibly result from their actions is xenomorphs on Earth…and there won’t be any Predators to save the human race (due to complicated legal reasons, sadly…god, you don’t see them screwing each other over for a percentage…).

The art is gorgeous, the writing’s superb, the terror is real.

I love it.

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Heroes Reborn #7 by Jason Aaron

Heroes Reborn #7Heroes Reborn #7 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid issue, with a number of great moments, but it’s hamstrung a little by not being able to be as fun as the previous issues because, rather than focusing on a single member of the Squadron, it has to tie everything together and set up the finale in next week’s Heroes Return #1.

All this it does excellently, of course, with superb writing and art…but I find myself eager for the conclusion and a return to reality…or, rather, the version of reality we’re more familiar with.

We’ll know soon enough if Aaron can stick the landing…

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