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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X-Men #20 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #20X-Men #20 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, this is what I’m here for.

Hickman picks up many of the threads he’d left dangling and moves the plot along, as Erik and Charles manipulate Mystique into doing their dirty work and destroying Nimrod at the moment of his birth. Of course, they fail and their very actions result in the creation of what they fear most.

We also finally get to see Moira again…and she’s reading Destiny’s Diaries! What could that mean? And is Mystique going to burn everything down before we find out, in an…inferno?

Inferno teased here? Onslaught over in Way Of X? Everything old is new again! But, seriously, I love the way Hickman is using old ideas in new and interesting ways.

Oh, yeah, and if you’re wondering how it is that Erik and Charles could treat Mystique so badly…well…there’s that Onslaught thing again…

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X-Men Legends (2021-) #2 by Fabian Nicieza

X-Men Legends (2021-) #2X-Men Legends (2021-) #2 by Fabian Nicieza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, yes, the second issue of X-Men Leg Ends! The series which brings you nothing by close ups of the feet of all your favourite X-Men! Marvel at Wolverine’s feet! Revel in Marvel Girl’s toes! It’s all feet all the time! And that’s why they didn’t get Rob Liefeld to draw it…

(Sorry, Rob)

Annnnd, that’s my April Fool’s joke out of the way, on with the review!

Well, there’s not really much more to say about this than I said in my review of #1. The writing’s great, the art is appropriately 90s, and it exists purely to tie up a loose end from Fabian Nicieza’s original X-Men run. If you care about these things, and I do, then you’ll love it. Otherwise your mileage is likely to vary. It does what it does and it does it very well.

It also explains why none of the characters involved have mentioned this in the last quarter of a century. Which is a good thing, it’s done well and it makes sense.

So, yeah, I enjoyed this, and I’m now looking forward to the Simonson’s taking over the book.

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X-Men (2019-) #19 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men (2019-) #19X-Men (2019-) #19 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow.

At first glance this appears to be one of Hickman’s hard SF, exposition heavy, cold stories…with hundreds of years passing in the Vault in timeline pages which fill in huge gaps of time.#

But it’s not that at all. Oh no. This is a love story. A bitter sweet love story that’ll punch you in the gut.

And it’s magnificent.

I never knew I needed Synch/Laura Kinney, but now I ship it with the intensity of a thousand suns.

Darwin, as always, gets the short end of the stick, a stick that, I think, will have huge ramifications in the future.

The art is beautiful and the writing superb. This is Hickman’s X-Men at its very best, and I am 100% here for it.

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Demon Days: X-Men #1 by Peach MoMoKo

Demon Days: X-Men #1Demon Days: X-Men #1 by Peach MoMoKo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was just delightful!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll already be aware of Peach Momoko, as her variant covers have set the comic world alight over the last year or so. I’ll admit, I have a fair few Momoko variants in my collection already. She recently signed an exclusive deal with Marvel, and one of the results of that would seem to be her very own book in Demon Days: X-Men (and apparently Demon Days is a series, as we got the cover to the next issue, Demon Days: Mariko, at the end of this one…but we have to wait until June for it!).

So, we know Momoko can draw, but can she write? Well, yes, she can. Demon Days: X-Men #1 skilfully weaves together Japanese myth and fable with X-Men, casting the likes of Psylocke, Jubilee, the Hulk, Venom and Wolverine in new roles…with Psylocke as a mysterious warrior nomad, Sai, who stumbles across a village with is being dominated by an evil serpent spirit known as Venom.

The story is charming and fun and I’m honestly looking forward to reading more and seeing where Momoko’s going with this.

I’d heartily recommend it, not just to X-men fans but to fans of beautiful comics…because this book is stunning!

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X-Men (2019-) #18 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men (2019-) #18X-Men (2019-) #18 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, it’s rather wonderful to see Synch get the spotlight for a change. A character we’ve seen so rarely since the heyday of Generation X that more recent readers would be forgiven for thinking he’s new. Put him alongside Darwin and Laura Kinney and you have a recipe for a very happy reader. Well, if the reader in question is me.

Add to that the return of the Children of the Vault from Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo’s run…and a whole lot of very intriguing stuff regarding them, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine comic book.

There’s also stuff here that seems to be alluding to The Maker, from Hickman’s Ultimates stuff…and given that Professor X currently looks almost exactly like him…then…well…it could all be a big red herring or it could be pointing to…something.

Time will tell.

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X-Men Legends (2021-) #1 by Fabian Nicieza

X-Men Legends (2021-) #1X-Men Legends (2021-) #1 by Fabian Nicieza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marvel get Brett Booth to draw another X-Men book, but this time it works. And, if you’re able to set aside some things he’s said on social media in the past (and it’s understandable if you can’t) he does some pretty solid work on this book. It screams mid-nineties, sure, but that’s entirely appropriate as this is a story set after #39 of the nineties adjectiveless X-Men series, with repeated references to an issue of Captain Marvel from 1995.

As for that story, if the whole “third Summers brother” dangling plot thread has been bothering you for a quarter of a century and you really, really want the true identity and backstory of Adam-X “The Extreme” to be resolved…well, this is the comic for you. If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about then, uh, you could do worse than listening to Jay & Miles X-Plain The X-Men who have, I know, covered it in depth. Well, in as much depth as obscure X-Men dangling plotlines from the mid-nineties deserve.

This book very much captures the feel of mid-nineties X-men comics, and how much you liked mid-nineties X-Men will probably determine how much you like enjoy this comic. The one thing that works against it is that, at the time, this plotline would almost certainly have been interwoven with several other ongoing plotlines. The fact that these aren’t slotted in between scene transitions actually feels a little jarring at times, and things feel a little rushed as a consequence. However, that’s definitely made up for with…well…just the thrill of finally having this gap filled.

Because, you see, I have spent the last twenty five years wondering about this, because I’m that kind of obsessive nerd. This book was made for me and people like me, and if I could travel back in time and tell my friends on the Comics And Anime forum on AOL not to worry, because in twenty five years time they’d go back and resolve this dangling plotline it would…well…it would be really, really weird, actually. But probably no weirder than a lot of my posts on that forum.

Anyway, yes, good comic is good, but your mileage may well vary.

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X-Men #17 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #17X-Men #17 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Can we just…not talk about Brett Booth? I mean…do we have to?

Look, whatever you think about Booth or his art, the simple fact is that he was a really, really strange choice to illustrate an X-Men book…that’s not supposed to be a nostalgia trip appealing to lovers of 90s comics…in the year 2021. This is just…odd. His artwork doesn’t fit in this run, and in a weird way it made me feel uncomfortable in a way that I doubt it will in X-Men: Legends. This is just not how we draw the X-Men anymore. It’s not bad. It’s technically proficient. It just doesn’t…fit.

The issue as a whole is an odd one, too. A strange bit of post-X Of Swords filler, that moves on some plot lines we last visited in the pages of Hickman’s New Mutants. Except it’s not New Mutants, so Scott, jean and Ororo take the forefront, while Sam and ‘Berto are relegated to comic relief. But while their antics were delightfully amusing in the pages of New Mutants, here they fall a little flat.

I assume that a lot of this is set up for future stories (possibly involving Storm adventuring in space), but the actual story here is unsatisfying. We don’t really know the kidnapped princess…we’ve not spent much time with the Shi’ar recently…so we don’t really know what’s at stake. Do the rebels really have a point? I mean…nobody voted for the Imperial Majestrix, did they?

Anyway, as I think I’ve made clear, this one just felt a little off.

I’m sure a lot of people will be raving about this being what X-Men comics are supposed to be like though. But, you know, it stopped being the nineties a while ago.

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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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X-Men #15 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men #15X-Men #15 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And so, the end is near…

I could have read all three remaining parts of X Of Swords before writing my reviews of them but decided not to, so I don’t yet know how it ends…

But what we have here is a Krakoa that’s falling apart, or, rather, the quiet council is…as Scott and Jean decide to go and rescue their son, Cable, against its wishes. Although it very much seems that Charles is pleased by this.

Meanwhile, Apocalypse and Genesis battle…and we find out which of them is the fittest…

And…ok…this is just ramping up the tension and I need to go read the next part now, sorry. But this is good. This is very good!

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