X-Men #21 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #21 (X-Men (2019-))X-Men #21 (X-Men by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Namor reminds us why he’s knows as the Prince of Abs-lantis, as he’s invited to join the Quiet Council, with predictable results.

The new X-Men team is revealed, and a very interesting team it appears to be. I’m particularly pleased to see Sunfire on the team, having always felt it was a shame that he walked out immediately after the events of Giant Size #1.

There’s some party mingling and some cool cameos from real life people, including Kevin Feige..and a whole slew of people I probably should have recognised but didn’t. Pretty sure I spotted George RR Martin in there thought. Geez, that guy will do anything to avoid finishing the next Game of Thrones book!

And then Emma did…something that we’ll undoubtedly see in Planet Size X-Men #1…

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Excalibur #21 by Tini Howard

Excalibur #21 (Excalibur (2019-))Excalibur #21 (Excalibur by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what an issue! The Hellfire Gala continues to deliver in spades!

And let’s cut straight to the chase, the most inspired part of this whole, wonderful issue, was Britain wanting to leave its deal with Krakoa. They’re doing Krexit. Krexit. That’s…just…so exactly what our government would do. Maybe the Tories are actually all evil druids working for Clan Akkaba?

There were so many other wonderful moment in this issue though…most of them long overdue reunions. Such as Meggan and Kurt! And the hint at Meggan’s “condition”… Then we had Rachel and Betsy and the insistence that Rachel visit the lighthouse more often. Yes please! She’d be a welcome addition to this team…and maybe she could also get a better codename while she’d at it?

And last, but by no means least, Rictor was reunited with Shatterstar at last!

And then we have poor old Pete Wisdom’s fate… Let’s just say it’s a good thing that mutants can be resurrected else I’d be very cross indeed.

But, seriously, this entire comic was a delight from start to finish!

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Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #4 by Daniel José Older

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #4Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #4 by Daniel José Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not gonna lie, I kinda love this bunch of idiots.

Seeing all the padawans crammed into a Jedi vector just made me smile. That they were doing it to stupidly go and rescue their friend just made it better. Reckless are they, indeed.

This is just fantastic, full of youthful energy and the angst that goes with it.

Because heading off into an obvious trap is just what heroes do.

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Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #3 by Daniel José Older

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #3Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #3 by Daniel José Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story continually flips between Krix with the Nihil on the Gaze Electric and Zeen with the Jedi on the Starlight Beacon (I keep wanting to call it the Starlight Citadel, but that’s something from a whole different comic entirely).

It’s an interesting dichotomy as both the Nihil and the Jedi are manipulating Krix and Zeen in their own ways and asking them to do things they’re not entirely comfortable with. But, of course, while the Jedi are motivated by wanting to fight evil, the Nihil have very different motivations.

This issue is mostly set up for the conflict to come, but that’s not a bad thing. Things need to be set up in a story…that’s how story telling works. And in the meantime we get to know Zeen and Krix a bit better. Krix is clearly someone who’s willing to throw others under the bus to save his own neck. But…can you really blame him? How would any of us act in his situation.

The art is really quite lovely. It’s not in the usual “Marvel style” that those reading recent Star Wars comics will be accustomed to, and reminds me more of the Star Wars comics produced in the early days of Dark Horse’s run. But, this isn’t a Marvel comic, after all, and the art style fits the book incredibly well.

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Iron Man Annual (2020) #1 by Jed Mackay

Iron Man Annual (2020) #1 (Iron Man 2020 (2020))Iron Man Annual (2020) #1 (Iron Man 2020 by Jed Mackay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was surprisingly good. I say “surprisingly” because Marvel’s annuals have a tendency to be utterly pointless. But this was a decent story, with Tony getting angry about Miles Morales being kidnapped and tortured and so going off on a mission to bring down the guy who tortured him.

For the first part of an annual wide crossover, this was also refreshingly self contained, as I won’t be getting any more of this story because, well, you can’t buy everything, right?

The art was decent, although I do wish Marvel would get their artists using a consistent model for the Iron Man armour, but that’s been a problem for years now.

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Heroes Reborn #5 (of 7) by Jason Aaron

Heroes Reborn #5 (of 7) (Heroes Reborn (2021))Heroes Reborn #5 (of 7) (Heroes Reborn by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What do you get if you mix Spider-Man and Batman? The answer is Nighthawk! And as this is a world in which the Avengers never were, Peter Parker never became Spider-Man and the Squadron Supreme are earth’s mightiest heroes, things are definitely different…

This issue is very much a pastiche of classic Batman, the angst ridden orphan whose rogues gallery are all locked up in an asylum is something we’re very familiar with, except this is Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. In this universe the Venom symbiote bonded with Nighthawk, before bonding with the Red Skull to become the Black Skull. And Norman Osborn is the crazed Goblin who caused the death of Nighthawk’s sidekick, The Falcon…essentially merging the Joker and Green Goblin, and also merging Jason Todd with Gwen Stacey. Although Gwen’s still here, and…well…you’ll have to read it.

The art is superb, the writing is great, but I’m eager to get to the climax of this story now.

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Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #1 (of 5) by Charles Soule

Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #1 (of 5) (Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters: (2021-))Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #1 (of 5) (Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters: by Charles Soule
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s always challenging to review a comic that leans so heavily on a last page reveal that it spends the entire issue building to. Suffice it to say that you will figure it out before you reach the final page, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome or welcome.

But, yeah, Boba Fett discovers Jabba has placed an bounty on his head after having had the carbonite encased Han Solo stolen from him, and he’s on a mission to find out why, who stole Han and to both get him back and murder whoever was responsible.

I’m not the greatest fan of Luke Ross’s artwork, but it’s genuinely great here. This is a much more comic-booky looking comic than we’ve been used to in Marvel’s Star Wars run, but the combination of some really great backgrounds and a much lighter colouring palette than we’re used to seeing in these books makes for a fine looking comic.

The writing is as good as we’ve come to expect from Charles Soule. He’s crafting a complex and winding tale that draws in pretty much every faction in the galaxy and I doubt that this issue’s last page reveal will be the only surprise in this mammoth crossover event.

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Hellions #12 (Hellions by Zeb Wells

Hellions #12 (Hellions (2020-))Hellions #12 (Hellions by Zeb Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I quite literally laughed out loud while reading this comic. Wells has found the perfect balance of drama, action and comedy in this book, and every issue feels better than the last.

It’s Hellfire Gala time and the Hellions are not invited (well, other than Sinister, Alex and Kwannon, that is…and Alex’s outfit is so fabulous I kinda’ want to cosplay it), but not being invited isn’t going to stop this team from just, well, going anyway…thanks to some psychic shenanigans and a running gag about Phoebe Cuckoo’s dress.

We also have the deepest of deep cuts here as Wild Child runs into Aurora, and if I hadn’t just been listening to X-Plain The X-Men episodes where they discuss their break up I would have had no clue they’d ever dated (I mean, I did read those X-Factor issues, it was just a lifetime ago). I was half expecting someone to shout, “Leave it, Kyle, she’s not worth it!”

Anyway, can all the X-Books be about awkward social gatherings from now on, please? I’m loving this!

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