Juggernaut (2020-) #5 by Fabian Nicieza

Juggernaut (2020-) #5 (of 5)Juggernaut (2020-) #5 by Fabian Nicieza
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved this series, the writing was wonderful, D-Cel is an amazing new character that I want to see more of, and the art, by Ron Garney, was not only wonderful but was a perfect fit for the series.

However…this issue did not provide a satisfying conclusion. Instead it seemed to set up a new series that I’m honestly not sure we’re going to get. Which is a shame, because I definitely want more of this. If this was #5 of an ongoing series I’d have no complaints, but it’s not, it’s the final issue of a limited series and not only did it leave a lot unresolved, but it finished with the formation of a new team I’m afraid we may never see again.

Also, the revelation of why D-Cel was in denial about being a mutant felt rushed and lacked some of the emotional impact that it deserved.

Still, as I said, I loved this series overall. It was good to see Cain get some time with Professor X and Black Tom in this issue too. This series definitely grew and developed Cain’s character, and that’s why I want more. I’m afraid that in a year or two he’ll show up somewhere else and everything from this series will be ignored. So, come on Marvel, give Nicieza and Garney an ongoing Juggernaut book…and bring back D-Cel…she’ll just get bored on Krakoa anyway.

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S.W.O.R.D. #2 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #2S.W.O.R.D. #2 by Al Ewing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest, I could have done without the King In Black storyline crossing over into the X-books. I’ve been reading the main King In Black book out of morbid curiosity, but it really hasn’t grabbed me, but if any writer was going to take it on them I’m glad that it was Al Ewing, because he’s done a great job…especially as tying into a major crossover in its second issue could have completely killed the momentum after what was a superb first issue.

The focus is still very much on S.W.O.R.D. and their personnel, and the deep dives into the history of the Marvel universe continue this issue, as Mentallo is added to the restore, as the best telepath Abigail Brand could find. And, like, the only telepath she could find….given that Nate Grey has gone missing (hope he hasn’t got himself possessed by a symbiote or anything…).

There is more great stuff with Cortex this issue, a sentence that I thought I’d never type, as his old, scheming self comes to the fore. I seriously doubt that Magneto is likely to fall for his old tricks, don’t worry…but it’s fun watching Cortez think he might.

The art is utterly jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Valerio Schiti has been a favourite of mine for a while now, and I hope he stays on this book for a long time. He and Al Ewing certainly make an amazing team!

Really, the only think I disliked about this issue was that it ties into King In Black, but it’s still an excellent comic.

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Marauders (2019-) #17 by Gerry Duggan

Marauders (2019-) #17Marauders (2019-) #17 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This issue was very much one of moving several plot points along and not much more, and as such it’s kinda’ hard to get overly excited about it. That’s one of the downsides to most comics being written for their trade paperback collections. Issues like this one work perfectly when collected, but when they have to stand alone…not so much.

It’s certainly not bad though! And the fight between Storm and Callisto, which is this issue’s “big event” is well done, calling back to their previous fight for the leadership of the Morlocks.

I find myself more interested in the political machinations of Emma Frost, though, and would have preferred more of that here. We see the preparations for the upcoming Hellfire Gala proceed, and I’m left wondering if that event will take place in the pages of Marauders or X-men, considering that it will include the revelation of the new X-Men team. Perhaps it’ll be both.

So, yeah, a perfectly good comic, but one that really just leaves me wanting them to get on with it…

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X-Factor #6 by Leah Williams

X-Factor #6X-Factor #6 by Leah Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With every passing issue I just love this comic more.

This one would have been worth the price of admission just for that opening scene of the team having breakfast and outrageously flirting with each other, but there was so much more to enjoy…from the send up of police procedurals to the incredible deep-dive throwback to Siryn’s deal with the Morrigan from Peter David’s X-Factor run…and everything in between.

There’s even some foreshadowing (hopefully) of the return of Tommy (aka Speed) to the pages of Marvel Comics, after far too long an absence (aka “Billy Kaplan has a brother, remember?”). Eventually the Krakoans are going to have to deal with all the implications of branding the Scarlet Witch as “The Great Pretender” and what that means in regards to her two mutants sons, one of whom is currently married to the Emperor of space. It’s likely that’ll play out in the pages of S.W.O.R.D. but it’d be interesting to see what effect it has on some of the mutants who are friends with the twins.

The writing is clever and witty, the art is gorgeous…if you like Baldeon’s style, and I have since his work on Domino. All in all, this is one of my favourite X-titles right now, and given the quality of the line, that’s really saying something!

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Hellions #8 by Zeb Wells

Hellions #8Hellions #8 by Zeb Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hellions continues to be superb. I love the art and I love the writing.

But, also, wow…this was a wild ride, with some truly wonderful moments…not least of which was Empath figuring out that Hodge was 100% robot.

And then we have the revelation of Krakoa’s anti-Ai protocols, which could bring them into conflict with a LOT of people in the Marvel universe.

But the big, gut wrenching moment was the Hellions’ ultimate betrayal of the newly evolved Right robots.

Ah…there’s just more to process here than I can coherently write about.

Just, you know, go read it…it’s good.

Also Empath is still both the worst and the best.

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Wolverine #8 by Benjamin Percy

Wolverine #8Wolverine #8 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

350 issue anniversary spectacular? But I thought this was #8?!?

But, aside from Marvel’s weird legacy numbering system, I really enjoyed this issue. It seems that some people aren’t enjoying this series, and I have to wonder if they’re also reading X-Force, which is written by Benjamin Percy too? Because they really are sister books, and you wouldn’t get why the merc Logan’s interrogating keeps asking if his dog, Rufus, is okay if you hadn’t read X-Force #15. (Spoilers: Rufus is very much not okay).

And then we have GoodReads’ resident “But continuity!” troll, who I apologise for bringing up in yet another review. As I’ve said before, continuity exists to serve the story and not the other way round. It has always been thus at Marvel. The existence of the OHOTMU* has tended to give the impression that it used to be otherwise, but as someone who’s been active in the online X-Men fandom since the mid-nineties (and has been reading X-Men since the eighties), I can assure you that it has not. The OHOTMU has, rather, existed in its various incarnations to help people make sense of the mass of retcons and inconsistencies that is the Marvel Universe. Or, in other words, House of M was sixteen years ago, don’t expect writers in 2021 to adjust their stories to fit with whatever it did to alter a certain character’s status quo.

Anyway…

Apart from the prologue. which is beautifully drawn by Vik Bogdanovic, this issues is beautifully drawn by Adam Kubert, who’s probably best known for his long run on Wolverine’s solo book…which is presumably why he’s here illustrating this anniversary issue.

While featured on the cover, and a key element of the plot, Maverick doesn’t actually appear in this issue (or does he?), which is a bit of shame (or is it?) because I’ve always really liked him (or have I?).

Anyway, this is a great stuff, I just hope that Rufus is okay (or do I?).

*Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe.

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X-Men #16 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #16X-Men #16 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Large sections of this comic consist of nothing more than headshots in a nine panel grid as people discuss things in meetings. There’s absolutely no action at all. The closest thing to action is two Ents, for want of a better word, having a silent conversation.

And it’s brilliant.

If it wasn’t impossible due to the timescales involved, I’d say this was put together as a two fingered salute to that Twitter post that did the rounds recently complaining about three pages of talking heads being a waste of space in a super hero comic. Super hero comics do not need to be 22 pages of people hitting each other. Sometimes they can slow down and be 22 pages of people having conversations, and after the roller coaster ride of X Of Swords, that’s exactly what we needed.

Personally, I very much appreciate Hickman taking the time to take stock of the new status quo. There are now a LOT of new mutants on Earth, and a whole new island, which does want to make friends with the existing one. This is an interesting new dynamic, and one wonders if it’s something Moira has accounted for…

And then there’s the election of a new X-Men team. The fact that the team’s going to be elected by the inhabitants of Krakoa means that the make up of the team could be very interesting indeed.

All in all this is an excellent issue, stunningly illustrated by the superlative Phil Noto.

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Wolverine: Black, White & Blood (2020-) #2 by Vita Ayala

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood (2020-) #2 (of 4)Wolverine: Black, White & Blood (2020-) #2 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid four for a comic that’s a third illustrated by Greg Land?

Well, that’s just how good the other two thirds are… Look, if nothing else, the first story here makes it clear just how much Land owes to the colourists who usually make him look good(ish). His art here, though, without the crutch of good colouring, is just weak. The story also suffers from what the first issue’s stories suffered from…it’s no more than “Wolverine does the stabby,” and those kind of stories bore me.

The rest of the book, however, that’s a different story. The second story, written by Saladin Ahmed and illustrated by Kev Walker, sees Logan captured by Arcade, and having to rescue the waiter who drugged him (because Arcade would have killed him otherwise). The twist being that if Logan kills any of Arcade’s robots on the way, the waiter will die sooner. So Wolverine has to try not to do the stabby. Which is a nice twist.

The third story is by Chris Claremont and Salvador Lorraca and co-stars Kate Pryde…so, of course, I loved it. The writing was great and the art was stylish. You see, Land and Larroca both use a lot of photo reference, but Lorraca knows how to do it well. Because he’s a great artist who’s perfectly capable of drawing without photo reference, it’s just a stylistic choice. Whereas with Land…not so much.

So, all in all, a really good comic.

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Juggernaut (2020-) #4 by Fabian Nicieza

Juggernaut (2020-) #4 (of 5)Juggernaut (2020-) #4 by Fabian Nicieza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this.

It’s action packed, which you’d expect from a Juggernaut book, but there’s also enough talking and thoughtful moments for it not to become dull.

I really love the developing friendship between Cain and D-Cell, and the continuing mystery of whether or not she’s a mutant. Given Cain’s somewhat fractious history with the X-Men and mutantdom one can’t help but think that the answer to that mystery will be…interesting.

The art, by Ron Garney, is, of course, stunning, and suits the book absolutely perfectly.

I also enjoyed the use of pre-existing but fairly obscure villains, and the updating of Arnim Zola’s look so he doesn’t just look stupid. He felt like a credible threat in this, which was refreshing.

We also learn that the Juggernaut is no longer under the control of Cytorrak, and given that the theme of this series seems to be villains who are being controlled by outside forces that’s clearly not a coincidence.

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Excalibur (2019-) #16 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #16Excalibur (2019-) #16 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Is that accent fake?! It sounds fake.”

Just want to throw something out there before I get into it. The “Corps” in “Captain Britain Corps” is pronounced “core” and not “corpse.” It’s the same with the Green Lantern Corps. Just so you all know. Got that? Ok. Let’s continue…

See, this is Excalibur. You’ve got Brian and Meggan and their precocious daughter, Maggie. You’ve got Otherworld and the Captain Britain Corps. You’ve got a weird mystery that needs to be solved. This is Excalibur.

You also have mutants combining their powers to do something they otherwise wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. Clearly another use of the mutant technology that was explained/explored in S.W.O.R.D. #1. It’s certainly encouraging to see that kind of synergy across the X-line. We also had a reference to Jamie Braddock gaining possession of Mr Sinister’s cape, which happened over in Hellions, and as someone who’s reading all of the X-books, I enjoy those little references. Also, Sinister supplying Jamie with a clone of Betsy can’t possibly lead to anything but trouble.

Personally, this is right up my street. I’m enjoying the slow burn of many of the X-books right now. These writers are in for the long haul and they’re clearly in no hurry to tell the stories they’re going to be telling over the next few years. The art, by Marcus To, is as lovely as ever, and I particularly like that this book has such a consistently great artist drawing it.

All in all, this is my kind of comic, and I love it.

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