New Mutants #21 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants #21New Mutants #21 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The kids fight Brood on the moon while the original team fight each other on Krakoa…sort of. I mean, they don’t come to blows, but they do deal with a lot of stuff that’s been brewing for a while.

Firstly, we finally confront the issue of resurrecting clones. Because, well, Gabby died, and nobody wants Gabby to be dead. But the problem is that Rahne killed her, and she’s quite understandably a bi annoyed about it. So we also confront the issue of the Shadow King’s increasing influence on the young mutants of the island…and also Rahne. It all feels very cathartic, and it was good to have the Five confirm that clones are individual, autonomous persons deserving of resurrection. But that still leaves the matter of Madelyn Pryor unresolved… (She’ll be back, we all know she’ll be back…I mean, the next big event is Inferno…)

The art is also simply outstanding. I love Rod Reis’s work and honestly feel that this is the best art New Mutants has seen since the days of Bill Sienkiewicz. I particularly love the way he makes Rahne look both like Rahne and Maisie Williams.

Seriously, though, I love this book, it’s brilliant, and I can’t wait for next month’s showdown with the Shadow King!

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Star Wars:the High Republic #9 by Cavan Scott

Star Wars:the High Republic #9 (Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-))Star Wars:the High Republic #9 (Star Wars: The High Republic by Cavan Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Given that we know that Keeve Trennis ultimately becomes one of the Lost Twenty Jedi who left the Order, it was rather disconcerting to see her in the captain’s chair of a Nihil Stormship. Had she left the Order between issues? What had happened? But a quick flashback revealed it to be a Jedi plot to infiltrate the Nihil…although one has to wonder if it’s the first step on her path to leaving the Jedi.

This is cracking stuff from start to finish. Although, I have to say, I’m currently reading the novel The Rising Storm, also written by Cavan Scott, and this issue contains several spoilers for events in that novel…but that’s just one of the risks you run when consuming a cross platform story such as this. I just can’t stay as up to date with the novels as I am with the comics. That said, it certainly hasn’t spoiled my enjoyment of this comic or the novels, but your mileage may vary so consider yourself forewarned.

All in all I’m loving how interconnected the comics and novels are, with neither medium really taking priority over the other when it comes to major events happening. While you could definitely read one without the other, reading both definitely leads to a much richer experience.

The writing here is superb, and we’re definitely starting to feel the benefit of all the groundwork and character development Scott has been doing. The art is also superb and Keeve looks awesome as a Nihil…both inside the book and on Phil Noto’s stunning cover.

This is another great addition to the High Republic and I really can’t recommend it enough.

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Mirka Andolfo’s Sweet Paprika #2 by Mirka Andolfo

Mirka Andolfo's Sweet Paprika #2 (of 12)Mirka Andolfo’s Sweet Paprika #2 by Mirka Andolfo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not quite as good as #1, but still a whole load of fun. This issue focuses more on Paprika and Dill’s relationships with their fathers, who are both demons (you see, Dill is adopted). And it all gets very Freudian.

The main thrust of this issue, however (is Dill and a delivery girl…), seems to be moving the plot along from the end of #1 to the start of #3, which promises Paprika attending a work function, a fancy dinner party, with her ex in attendance. I’m sure that’ll be a riot, but ultimately not a lot actually happens this issue apart from set up. Which would be fine if I was reading this in trade paperback form, but I’m not.

Still, there’s enough here to make it enjoyable, and Andolfo’s absurdly silly, but also sexy, art style is always a lot of fun.

There’s a lot of sex and a lot of humour, so if you like sexy jokes this is definitely the comic for you.

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Serial #6 by Terry Moore

Serial #6Serial #6 by Terry Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How to you even begin to review Terry Moore’s work? Each single issue feels like a tiny slice of a novel, of a much larger whole. The revelations contained within can rarely be examined out of context. The writing is, of course, superb. Moore is a master storyteller, with a gift for creating complex, interesting characters, who inhabit morally grey areas…who can be both angel and demon simultaneously, and everything in-between. Is a homicidal maniac evil if they only kill bad people?

And as much as the writing is sublime, the art is on another level. Moore was a master when I started reading his work more than a quarter of a century ago and he just keeps getting better. His linework is perfect, his storytelling flawless. Simply put, Terry Moore is not only one of our greatest living comic creators, but he is one of the best comic creators of all time.

So, is this good? Yes. Should you read it? Absolutely. But just start at the beginning else you’ll be confused. I mean, it’s Terry Moore and all of his books inhabit a shared universe, so the beginning is really a long time ago, but still…

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Star Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance/Guardian of the Whills by Shima Shinya

Star Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance/Guardian of the WhillsStar Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance/Guardian of the Whills by Shima Shinya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely the strongest of the two Star Wars offerings this Free Comic Book Day, this comic previews two upcoming releases from Viz Media, who publish manga. While they generally been publishing manga adaptions of existing novels, such as with Guardians Of The Whills, The Edge Of Balance, set during the High Republic era, is their first original Star Wars manga.

If this preview is anything to go by it’s going to be great! We’re introduced to a young Jedi Knight, Lily Tora-Asi, who’s just starting out on her own. Reflecting on being a padawan while also preparing to take on a padawan of her own. It’s a perspective we haven’t seen too much of in Star Wars fiction, and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

The extract from Guardians Of The Whills is also charming, and made me regret not having read the novel yet. I really must get o that soon…

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Warhammer 40,000 Sisters of Battle by Marvel

Warhammer 40,000 Sisters of Battle (#1)Warhammer 40,000 Sisters of Battle by Marvel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Keiron Gillen was always going to be a hard act to follow, and I’m considerably less familiar with the Sisters Of Battle than I am with Space Marines in general, so this book was inevitably less accessible than Marvel’s previous excellent attempt at Warhammer 40,000 comics.

That said, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. The Sisters Of Battle are an interesting group and GrØnbekk has set up some intrigue that’s bound to play out throughout the series. Salazar’s a capable enough artist, and while the art isn’t as good as in Marvel’s previous Warhammer 40,000 series, it’s still pretty decent and the cover art by Dave Wilkins is excellent. This feels like 40K, and that goes a long way to making it work.

While this first issue didn’t blow me away, it’s drawn me in enough to be happy to stick with is till the end and I’m interested to see where the story goes.

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Alien #6 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Alien #6Alien #6 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chapter One of Marvel’s first foray into the Aliens franchise comes to a close in satisfying fashion. To a certain extent this is by the numbers Alien fayre, with all of the required elements ticked off one by one. But, for me, that was the correct approach for Marvel straight out of the gate. They needed to reassure fans that they understand the franchise, know what makes an Alien story an Alien story and that everyone’s favourite xenomorphs are safe in their hands. And by those metrics, this first arc has delivered perfectly.

I know Larocca’s heavily photo referenced art isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for me it fits this series perfectly. I need to recognise that a Bishop unit is a Bishop unit because it looks like Lance Henriksen and not just because the script tells me it is. This kind of hyper-real art adds to the atmosphere and the terror of an Aliens story. That doesn’t mean that other approaches aren’t equally valid, but this works for me here, in the story, and that’s what matters.

Of course no Alien story is complete without a twist in the tale and this comic doesn’t fail to deliver on that, potentially setting up Aliens on Earth, and, indeed, the tease of next month’s cover suggests that’s exactly what we’ll be getting in chapter two. And that, my friends, is very exciting indeed!

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Avengers Annual (2021) #1 by Jed Mackay

Avengers Annual (2021) #1 (Avengers (2018-))Avengers Annual (2021) #1 (Avengers by Jed Mackay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just like The Last Annihilation I’ve only read a few parts of Infinite Destinies, but what I have read has been excellent. Foreman’s art here is great and he seems like a perfect choice to illustrate this tale of a synthetic human being possessed by the Soul Stone and going through an awakening.

Particular praise should go to Cory Petit, whose lettering makes what could have been a confusing internal conversation between the synthetic human and the Soul Stone perfectly legible. It takes real talent to meet a lettering challenge like this, face it head on and execute it so perfectly.

Of course, that lettering would be nothing without words to letter, and Jed MacKay, whose work I’m unfamiliar with, does a sterling job with this metaphysical exploration of the nature of the soul and how that pertains to artificial intelligence. Couple that with the use of synthetic people as a metaphor for oppressed minority groups and you have the recipe for a damn fine comic book.

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Marvel Voices: Identity by Gene Luen Yang

Marvel Voices: Identity (#1)Marvel Voices: Identity by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These Voices anthologies from Marvel have been consistently excellent and this is no exception. Many of Marvel’s most interesting new characters are Asian, such as Ms Marvel, Silk and the Agents of Atlas, and so it’s good to see them get the spotlight here. But it’s not only Marvel’s Asian characters that are the focus here, but their Asian creators too.

Anthologies are always hard to review, as some stories will resonate with readers more than others, and which ones do or do now will vary from reader to reader too. But everything here is very strong, and you’re likely to find new characters and creators to love that you weren’t previously aware of.

There is vast diversity within the Asian community itself, and that’s fully on display here, with characters and creators from Korea, China, Pakistan, the Pacific Islands and more. The book really works well to dispel the myth that there is any one, singular “Asian” culture.

I particularly liked the way that the Ms Marvel story explored the way in which second generation immigrants can sometimes feel that they don’t belong either in the country their parents settled in or the one in which they settled. And I also liked the way the story about Silhouette explored many aspects of identity, as she’s not only biracial but also disabled. It’s good to see that kind of intersectionality explored.

Marvel are to be commended for their Voices series, I just hope that once it wraps up they can continue to give a voice to a diverse range of characters and creators.

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Strange Academy #12 by Skottie Young

Strange Academy (2020-) #12Strange Academy (2020-) #12 by Skottie Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Strange Academy’s second story arc wraps up neatly as Young and Ramos weave a tale of loss and forgiveness in which teen angst ultimately wins the day.

The art is, as ever, sublime. If you like Ramos’ style you’ll love this, if you don’t then it’s not for you. But, then, if you don’t like Ramos and you’re still reading after twelve issues then maybe you need to take a long, hard look at yourself and your life choices, eh?

Young and Ramos have created an engaging cast of characters that I’m enjoying getting to know, and there are enough dark pasts and secrets here to keep the book going for many years to come.

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