Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13 by Alyssa Wong

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13 (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-))Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13 (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Alyssa Wong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this was a definite improvement, as, Aphra being Aphra, she decides that rather than simply run from Darth Vader, who will surely kill her if he sees her again, she decides to try and use the distraction of his presence to rob Crimson Dawn blind…but instead gets herself and Sanna Staros captures, because of course she does.

It feels like Wong is finally getting a handle on the character, as the dialogue feels snappy and dynamic in a way that it hasn’t for a while. Aphra comics succeed or fail on the quality of the dialogue, and that’s something that the writers who’ve handled her previously really excel at.

The art, by Minkyu Jung, is solid but still not quite up to the standard of the rest of the line, sadly, although it’s definitely improving. Also, the cover, by Sara Pichelli, is definitely worth the price of admission.

All in all, this is a fine return to form for Doctor Aphra.

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Iron Man #11 by Christopher Cantwell

Iron Man (2020-) #11Iron Man (2020-) #11 by Christopher Cantwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was, of course, inevitable that there’d be a twist in the tale of Stilt-Man turning over a new leaf and establishing a utopian society on a distant world.

And so our little detour from the fight with Korvac comes to a not entirely satisfying conclusion. A lot just feels…unresolved. I thought we were going to get Tony struggling with addiction on a far off planet and then him having to face quitting morphine cold turkey when his supply ran out, whilst simultaneously working to defeat a planet of Ultimos and figure out how to get back to the fight against Korvac. Still, it’s always fun when the Living Tribunal pops up out of nowhere.

Still, this is by no means a bad comic, far from it. There are still some great moments with Tony struggling with substance abuse and having conversation with Patsy in his head. I found myself wondering if she was really communicating with him telepathically or if he was just that high.

The art, by Angel Unzueta is also stunning. Artistically this book has been a real treat from #1. The writing, also, has been top notch, with a consistent classic Iron Man feel. This book feels like Silver Age Iron Man but with modern sensibilities. I’m really enjoying it.

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Kang The Conqueror #1 by Collin Kelly

Kang The Conqueror #1Kang The Conqueror #1 by Collin Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is this the origin of Kang? Well, it’s the origin of a Kang. But there’s not just one Kang, that’s kinda’ the point of Kang. The origin presented here is very similar to the origin of Iron Lad/Kid Immortus, who was a version of Kang plucked from the timestream by another Kang before his throat was slit by a bully, supposedly the inciting incident of his villainy, and shown how his life would turn out. This Kang, however, is plucked from the timestream after his throat is cut by a bully, and just as he’s discovered Doctor Doom’s library, which will provide him the key to time travel.

The older Kang is hoping to impart the lessons he’s learned through his long, hard life to the younger Kang while sparing him the heartache and loss that Kang had to got through to learn them for himself.

However, the young Kang rejects the older Kang’s lesson that he should abandon love and, instead, abandons the older to Kang to be killed by the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs.

I thought I had no attachment to Kang, that I’d neve really read much with him in it and so didn’t care about him, but this reminded me just how much I loved Iron Lad, and how similar this Kang is to that Kang. Also, you know, I love time travel stories, and so this comic is right up my street.

The writing is exposition heavy but never boring, and the art is gorgeous. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

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Star Wars #16 by Charles Soule

Star Wars #16 (Star Wars (2020-))Star Wars #16 (Star Wars by Charles Soule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The War Of The Bounty Hunters crossover is increasingly frustrating me as some of the tie-ins are just regurgitating large chunks of the main book. I get that all these events are happening simultaneously and so there’s bound to be some overlap, but when you know EXACTLY WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN in a comic because you’ll already read it, almost word for word, in another comic, it leaves you feeling a little cheated…no matter how good that comic might actually be.

On top of that you get glaring continuity errors, like Lando destroying his cape by using it to put out an on fire Chewbacca in the pages of War Of The Bounty Hunters, but the cape’s fully intact in this comic, some of which happens after that fight. It’s ultimately trivial but it still takes you out of the story.

This comic does score points over war Of The Bounty Hunters for having Lando and Chewie discuss the fact that they both know Qi’ra, and Lando even mentions to Leia that Han used to know her too.

But overall, there’s just not enough in here that wasn’t in War Of the Bounty Hunters #3 to make it feel worth the money.

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Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #3 by Charles Soule

Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters (2021) #3 (of 5)Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters (2021) #3 by Charles Soule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The War of the Bounty Hunters rumbles on!

So, Darth Vader hired Boba Fett to track down Han Solo, which he did, Vader then presumably paid Fett, had Han encased in carbonite and then let Fett take Han to Jabba. On the way to Jabba’s palace, Solo was stolen from Fett by Crimson Dawn, resulting in Jabba putting out a bounty on Fett. Jabba then bids a million credits at the auction Crimson Dawn hold for Solo’s carbonite encased body, but Vader then insists that they give Han to him, because he wants to use Han to lure Luke to him. Which was the plan in the first place. But that plan didn’t, uh, go according to plan, which is why Vader needs Han back so that he can do it again. Confused? Just don’t try to think about it too much…

There’s also a fight between Vader and Qi’ra, which would be ridiculous if she wasn’t a master of Teräs Käsi, the Star Wars universe equivalent of Kung Fu. I mean, it’s still ridiculous…

This issue is definitely the weakest in this series so far. While it’s felt like the tie-ins have been, to extent, treading water while waiting for the main book to get to the auction, it now feels like the main boo is treading water for…some reason?

Hopefully the back half of this event will actually do something interesting with Qi’ra, but this just left me wondering why Chewbacca didn’t say, “Hey, Leia, you’re gonna find this funny, but the woman auctioning off Han’s carbonite encased form is his ex…the woman he was so obsessed with he left Corellia, joined the Empire, then went AWOL, all in a bid to find her again, and then when he finally found her she was working for Crimson Dawn and totally double crossed him. But I’m sure he’s told you all about her… Anyway, how wild is it that a martial art invented for a rubbish Playstation 2 game is now canon?”

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X-Corp #4 by Tini Howard

X-Corp #4 (X-Corp (2021-))X-Corp #4 (X-Corp by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“…and the whole thing with Layla and his baby was just so crushingly sad. (Don’t worry, nobody died!)” I wrote in my review of #3…and it seems I spoke too soon, because when you’ve got Jamie Madrox in your comic, it’s only a matter of time…

This is shaping up to be a great series. I had my doubts at the start, but it’s hit its stride now. I loved the twist that faced wit the threat of a corporate rival, rather than doing the usual X-Men thing of fighting them, they just bought the company out from under them instead.

That said, that tactic seems to have come back to bite them in the but…

The inclusion of traditional villains on this “team” makes for an interesting dynamic, and I trust neither Mastermind or Selene…especially Selene. I mean, she’s an ancient, evil, vampire goddess. She’s obviously up to no good and X-Corp is going to pay a heavy price for keeping her around. But she’s fun!

I also like the exploration of the similarities between Warren and Monet, and I’m thankful that the temptation to end that scene with them kissing was resisted…for now. I wonder if they’re going to bring up that he used to date her erstwhile Generation X teammate Paige.

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Way of X #5 by Simon Spurrier

Way of X #5Way of X #5 by Simon Spurrier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series has been consistently excellent, and this issue is no exception.

Al Ewing deserves credit for actually making me care about Fabian Cortez, a character who’s always been a one note villain, and more recently, over in Ewing’s S.W.O.R.D. has been the butt of several jokes. He’s a pathetic, wretched man, but here Ewing actually starts to explore what makes him tick, and maybe start to rehabilitate the character.

Of course, this is all happening while Nightcrawler attempts, and succeeds, to save the moon Phobos from crashing into Arakko/Mars and destroying everything the X-Men have just created here. And dies in the process, but not before finally figuring out what he’s been trying to figure out for ages and telling Cortez…only to discover upon his resurrection that Cortez is now in a catatonic state.

Meanwhile, David Haller has figured out that Onslaught is using the resurrection protocols to gain a foothold in Krakoa. Consuming the bits of mutants’ lives that are lost between their most recent back up and their death. And, given that Professor X has just been resurrected, that darkness is now within him too.

And Nightcrawler has just been resurrected. This isn’t looking good…

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Marauders #23 by Gerry Duggan

Marauders #23Marauders #23 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, it’s good to see Banshee again and that someone remembered how close he and Emma are! It’s also good to see Jumbo Carnation in action and Tempo makes a very welcome return too.

Marauders has definitely had its ups and downs, however, and this issue definitely ranks among the downs. This is mainly due to the art, which isn’t awful, but definitely isn’t up to the standard set by the rest of the X-line. Fiorelli seems to be an inexperienced artist from Italy with a very cartoony style which doesn’t really fit the tone of this book…particularly the part where the Cuckoos take Wilhelmina Kensington t confront her abusive father. What could have been a very powerful scene if illustrated by an artist with a very different style, just felt very off here. It’s not Fiorelli’s fault. On a different book he’d be great, but his style just doesn’t work here. Phil Noto is taking over for the next two issues and then Matteo Lolli’s back, so at least we know this is just a temporary blip. Fiorelli will be drawing the Star wars: Life Day comic which is out in November, and I expect his art will be a much better fit there.

There’s also an extract from a romance novel written by Pyro, which is…odd.

All in all this is okay, but it’s not up to the level of quality we’ve come to expect from the current X-books.

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X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1 by Leah Williams

X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1 by Leah Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There were two things I was fairly certain of before I started reading this comic: 1) Magneto did not kill the Scarlet Witch; and 2) The Scarlet Witch is not dead. After reading #1 I’m still fairly confident on both points.

Why don’t I think Magneto killed Wanda? Because that’s the obvious, simple answer, and the one that X-Factor have reached by the end of #1. Therefore, it must be wrong, else what’s the point of this series? A mystery with an obvious solution is no mystery at all. Personally, while I have no idea who killed Wanda, I think this series is leading to the revelation that Wanda (and Pietro) are actually mutants after all, and are Magneto’s children. It’s a retcon that needs undoing, particularly as it was only done because Fox had the rights to all the mutants…

This is great stuff, which effectively explores how grief effects people. This is partly why I’m sure Magneto didn’t do it, he’s clearly grieving here and doesn’t seem like a man with a guilty conscience to me…despite everyone around him interpreting his actions in this way. The book, surprisingly, also explores grief from the perspective of the deceased. After all, the deceased is no normal woman…she’s the Scarlet Witch. She once rewrote all of reality. So thinking she could be choked to death seems a little naïve.

The art is also superb, which we’ve largely come to expect from the current X-line. When the X-books are good at the moment they are simply the best of modern super-hero comics and this is no exception.

Also, if you enjoyed Leah Williams’ X-Factor run and were sorry to see it come to what felt like a premature end, you’ll enjoy this, as it’s very much a continuation of that book.

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FCBD 2021: Avengers/Hulk #1 by Jason Aaron

FCBD 2021: Avengers/Hulk #1FCBD 2021: Avengers/Hulk #1 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The point of these Free Comic Book Day comics is to entice you to check out the regular books, and as such, this one is a resounding success. That said, I’m already reading Avengers and probably won’t start picking up Hulk, but still…

This is really just two short teasers for each of the books. The Avengers introduces us to the Multiversal Masters of Evil, which is rather exciting. Apparently #50 of The Avengers sees everything that Jason Aaron has been working towards in Avengers finally come to fruition, and I’m very glad that he’s actually getting to do that.

Meanwhile, the Hulk story is basically a bit of silliness where Hulk fights MODOK and then decides he’s had enough and wants to go off into space.

All in all this is good stuff, and should whet your appetite for what’s to come.

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