X-Men (2019-) #13 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men (2019-) #13X-Men (2019-) #13 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When first introduced, Apocalypse was a mysterious character who obviously had a long and detailed history. Previous attempts to fill in that backstory have only served to make the character less interesting. What Hickman is doing here is weaving a tale of the secret history of Apocalypse, and, quite wonderfully, it’s adding to the mystery and wonder of Apocalypse and making him…interesting. Apocalypse has always been a bit of a one note villain, with his survival of the fittest mantra. But here, at last, he’s being given motivation for that mantra. A reason for testing mutants so that only the fittest survive, beyond just, “He thinks it’s a good idea.”

Far from being simply filler, this issue answers questions…or, rather, confirms our suspicions, while posing some more. We learn that Annihilation is very much just the helmet, which confirms that the person wearing that helmet is likely to be significant, and the best candidate for the wearer is Genesis, Apocalypse’s supposedly dead wife. But, equally, it could be Isca, Genesis’ sister and the sister-in-law of Apocalypse, who betrayed them all. This mystery feels significant, and the answer feels like it will be important…both for Apocalypse and the future of Krakoa.

It’s also important to remember that this is Apocalypse’s account of events. We are seeing and hearing everything from his point of view, through his recollections. It’s entirely possible, and extremely likely, that he’s an unreliable narrator. I anticipate us seeing these events from genesis’ point of view at some point, and for that to quite revelatory.

The art, by Mahmud Asrar, is superb, which is what we’ve come to expect from the whole X-line right now. The creators have been called on to conjure myriad new character designs and each one of them is interesting and unique. Part of me hopes that we see them return after this event is over, but part of me thinks that will ultimately dilute their impact.

Anyway, this is great stuff, and next week we hit the official half way point in this event, with X Of Swords: Stasis…and I can’t wait!

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Excalibur (2019-) #13 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #13Excalibur (2019-) #13 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is a twist at the end of this which basically calls all of the characters’ interactions throughout this issue into question. How much was genuine and how much was just an act? We will, perhaps, never know.

What I do know is that seeing the Braddock twins get one over on her Whyness, the Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnye, is deeply satisfying. It also feels good seeing Brian finally get over himself, come to terms with the fact that he’s no longer Captain Britain, and embrace a new role…Captain Avalon.

But let’s go back a step and address an issue others seem to have a problem with: Saturnyne’s powers. Throughout this event the Omniversal Majestrix has displayed certain powers that, supposedly, she has not had before. As far as I can tell, there are three possible explanations for this:

1) Satrunyne has always been a fairly mysterious being. It’s entirely possible that she’s always possessed these powers and abilities but we’ve simply never seen her using them before.

2) The powers are derived from the Starlight Citadel. You have to consider: What’s different about Saturnyne compared to her previous appearances? Well, she now controls the Starlight Citadel and that may well have bestowed certain powers upon her.

3) There is a story yet to be told regarding how Saturnyne came to be in possession of these powers.

What’s not likely is that Tini Howard is unaware that Saturnyne hasn’t previously displayed any powers and has made a huge error.

(Anyway, that’s enough of me responding to the criticisms of other reviewers).

Literally my only complaint here is that Brian’s costume inside the book is not the one he’s wearing on the cover, because the one he’s wearing on the cover is a lot better. But, talking of the art, RB Silva’s work here is sublime, but mention should also be made of the colourist, Nolan Woodard, who really brings the Starlight Citadel to life, in all its glowing, ethereal beauty.

X Of Swords continues to be one of the best crossover events I’ve ever read. Long may it continue (or, you know, at least for another thirteen parts..).

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Cable #5 by Gerry Duggan

Cable #5Cable #5 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s a Summers family outing as Scott, Jean and Nate hang out on the abandoned SWORD space station and battle what appears to be some sort of otherworldly virus in the form of people in black rubber suits.

There’s some lovely dialogue here, as we get to see Scott and Jean alone(ish) together for the first time in a while, and also Scott and Nate get some nice bonding scenes in which Scott gets to be the overprotective dad.

And…there’s not a whole lot more, really. It’s unclear whether what’s going on with SWORD is actually relevant to X of Swords beyond, you know, the sword thing…or if their is essentially set up for the upcoming Sword series. There’s also some telepathic scheming going on between Scott, Jean and Magik, which is definitely relevant to X of Swords, and I’m sure we’ll find out exactly what they’re planning a little further down the line.

The art is, of course, stunning, because it’s Phil Noto and Phil Noto’s artwork is always stunning.

Overall a pretty great comic.

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New Mutants #13 by Ed Brisson

New Mutants #13New Mutants #13 by Ed Brisson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ed Brisson delivers his best issue of New Mutants yet…and it’s his last. Vita Ayala takes over in two months, as the book takes a break next month. Should we read anything into the fact that Warlock is on the cover to #14 but Doug isn’t? This issue certainly seems to be foreshadowing his impending death…but that alone makes me doubt that Doug’s going to die. He might be…changed…though. We shall see.

Anyway, this issue is great, and while Brisson certainly writes it well, the real stand out aspect is the art, by Rob Reis, which is simply stunning, and certainly reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz’s work on the first run of New Mutants. Magik and Doug spar as she helps train him for the upcoming tournament, and both he and she are concerned that Doug will die. Krakoa and Exodus are also concerned about the same thing, with Exodus proposing they kill Doug now and resurrect him after the tournament and Krakoa suggesting that it hides Doug. But Doug points out that this could quite possibly lead to another mutant dying in his place and he couldn’t live with that. Because Doug is a good person.

Brisson and Reis ably convey Doug’s fear and uncertainty, coupled with his determination to do the right thing. Also, Illyana’s protectiveness of Doug, after all, she’s lost him before. In fact, being dead has been what Doug has been best known for for most of his existence in the Marvel universe…which is why I doubt that he’s going to die again now.

Only time will tell, but, you know…I really don’t want Doug to die.

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Hellions #5 by Zeb Wells

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

If you didn’t enjoy this issue then maybe you just don’t like fun. Be sure to remove any stick like objects from your posterior before reading.

Because this is FUNNY. And that, apparently, offends some people. Mr Sinister’s progression over the last few years from fairly boring, one note, Summers obsessed villain…to…well…what we have here. Flamboyant. Camp. Vain. And almost certainly using all of that as a smokescreen to hide his true villainous intent…is something that was started by Gillen, progressed by Hickman and perfect, here, by Zeb Wells.

Also, Empath is the worst and I still love him.

As for plot, the Hellions have to infiltrate Otherworld in a bid to steal the swords of their enemies before the tournament even begins, and to do so Sinister has to swap his cape for a horse so that Jamie Braddock will let them in. And it’s every bit as ridiculous as that sounds.

Well, it might be Sinister, or it might be a clone that he’s secretly created…and he might also be a clone that he’s secretly created. The real Sinister might not even be on Krakoa for all we know.

Anyway, the writing in here is great. It’s Zeb Wells at his wittiest. And the art is simply superb.

I love this, and you should too…unless you’re a miserable git who hates everything new and thinks you know better because you’ve been reading X-Men for a million years.

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Marauders (2019-) #13 by Vita Ayala

Marauders (2019-) #13Marauders (2019-) #13 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I guess the entire event couldn’t score five stars, could it?

This isn’t a bad comic, it’s just a flawed comic. It’s incredibly dialogue heavy and the characters seem to spend a lot of time basically talking in circles and going over the same ground.

Storm travels to Wakanda, which she used to be Queen of, alongside her ex-husband, T’Challa, better known as the Black Panther. There she asks for the super special sword which Polaris’ sort of prophecy/instructions decreed that she should use to defend Krakoa, and by extension the world. in the upcoming tournament of swords. Black Panther is away when she arrives and his mother and his sister, Shuri, tell Ororo that they can’t possibly give it to her until he gets back, because they can’t make the decision and if they did it would plunge Wakanda into anarchy or something.

Um…couldn’t they just call him? Was there no way to contact him at all? He eventually just shows up out of the blue anyway, so all of that conflict was utterly pointless.

The art, also, leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not bad, but compared to the art in the other x-books right now, it’s just not up to the same standard. Which is a shame.

As I said, not a bad comic, it just suffers in comparison to the first four chapters of this story.

So, now Storm has her sword, and the Krakoans have three out of ten swords. Bring on sword number four!

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X-Force (2019-) #13 by Benjamin Percy

X-Force (2019-) #13X-Force (2019-) #13 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

X-Force #13 picks up where Wolverine #6 left off…with exactly the same creative team!

Wolverine travels to hell in search of Marumasa and teams up with opponent in the upcoming tournament, Solem, to retrieve the Marumasa blades.

And, well, see my review of Wolverine #6 because this is just a continuation of that, and it’s awesome.

I didn’t talk about Percy’s writing in that, and just as Bogdanovic’s art continues to be outstanding, Percy’s writing continues to be excellent. He captures Logan’s voice perfectly. It’s gruff, moody and atmospheric.

So, Logan now has his sword, but what price did he have to pay to retrieve it…?

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Wolverine (2020-) #6 by Benjamin Percy

Wolverine (2020-) #6Wolverine (2020-) #6 by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Three chapters in and so far I’ve previously inked two out of the three artists who’ve worked on X Of Swords. C’mon, guys, let me play too!

But, seriously, this is fantastic. I’m running out of superlatives to describe X Of Swords and we’re only three issues in. This issue introduces an intriguing new opponent for Logan, Solem. Solem seems part devil, part trickster god, and all deadly.

As I’ve mentioned before, Bogdanovic has form when it comes to amazingly good depictions of Hell, and he doesn’t disappoint here.

Where’s this all headed? Well, I’m going to crack open X-Force #13 and find out…

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X-Factor (2020-) #4 by Leah Williams

X-Factor (2020-) #4X-Factor (2020-) #4 by Leah Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, once again I find myself reviewing a comic by someone I’ve previously worked with, having inked Carlos Gomez on several occasions…but only on covers, so I wasn’t too familiar with his sequential work, which is great here.

As it says on the cover, this is X Of Swords part 2 (of 22) and, as such, it’s very much not a continuation of the current X-Factor run. The only nod to this being an issue of X-Factor is that Polaris is central to the plot. But, I’m not even mad about that, because this is good, and makes a refreshing change to crossover tie-in issues that are only tangentially related to the crossover they’re tying in to.

This issue also resolves a very important plot point from X Of Swords, namely: How are there any stakes to a tournament in which people fight each other to the death when they can just be resurrected? The answer is…well…a spoiler…but suffice it to say that the stakes are significantly raised.

It also suggests that X Of Swords might have some significant and lasting consequences for some of the characters involved. Which is equal parts exciting and terrifying.

But what’s certain is that I’m hooked!

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X of Swords: Creation #1 by Jonathan Hickman

X of Swords: Creation #1X of Swords: Creation #1 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, bravo!

Amazing writing, beautiful art, what a fantastic comic!

I was slightly concerned, going into this, that a lot in the build up simply didn’t make sense, or add up. That people were trusting people they probably shouldn’t be trusting. And I didn’t get how everything fitted together.

Now everything is much clearer and I’m simply left feeling excited for this event.

It’s also just always fun seeing Apocalypse get stabbed.

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