Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-) #1 by Cavan Scott

Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-) #1Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-) #1 by Cavan Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never met a Star War I didn’t like.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to read Light of the Jedi yet because Amazon haven’t shipped it to me…and, let’s face it, at the speed I read novels I was never going to…so I can’t really review this in context, but never mind…

It’s still exceptionally good, and I can already tell that Keeve Trennis is going to become a favourite Star Wars character of mine. This is my first real taste of the High Republic era and I like what I’m seeing…although I’m not sure that Yoda being around feels right…but I think I have to remind myself that this isn’t the Old Republic, and the long ages of some species in the Star Wars universe make it inevitable that a few familiar faces are going to show up.

Seeing the Jedi at the height of their power is a real treat, though. It’s something I think we all expected from the Prequels, but, really, the Jedi had already fallen so much by the time of The Phantom Menace. They were so blind to the Dark Side that they weren’t able to sense a Sith Lord sitting right next to them. So it’ll be interesting to see the height from which they fell.

The art is great, and the cover, by Phil Noto, is gorgeous…although I’ll be forever kicking myself for missing out on the Stephanie Hans variant. Still, you can’t win ’em all…

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Avengers (2018-) #40 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #40Avengers (2018-) #40 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Punchy, punchy, punchy, punchy, punch!

It’s Phoenix Cap vs Phoenix Doom, witch occasional flashbacks to everyone vs Namor!

I mean, really, that’s kind of it, but the narration, care of Steve Rogers’ internal monologue, raises this above your standard superhero slugfest. To be…a really cool superhero slugfest.

Of course, it’s good ol’ Victor von Doom who gets all the best lines here, such as, “Doom does not do aperitifs,” and “Doom has no interest in foreplay!”

Good stuff.

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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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Power Pack (2020-) #2 by Ryan North

Power Pack (2020-) #2 (of 5)Power Pack (2020-) #2 by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Look, I’ll be honest, I was going to give this four stars, but gave it five after reading another review in which the reviewer just banged on about continuity for the entire review, repeating everything they’d said in their review of #1.

Review a comic for what it is, not what it isn’t, you know? And this comic is light hearted and fun. Sure, it may be ridiculous that the Power kids ask a succession of absurd heroes to be their mentor rather than people they actually know…but, that wouldn’t be fun. That said, they can’t ask the X-Men because they’re on Krakoa, and they can’t ask the New Warriors because they don’t exist anymore…and they discussed asking Spider-Man in the comic! I mean, if you’re going to bang on about continuity…but, wait, this is supposed to be a review of a comic, not of someone else’s review.

Basically, the Power kids need to find a mentor, else they’ll have to give up being heroes, at least until Alex turns eighteen and can be their mentor. They try asking Captain Marvel (because Julie has a crush on her) but she’s off planet, they try asking Thor but he’s busy (and also they don’t know where Frog Thor is), they try asking Hulk but…yeah…that’s not going to work. And they try asking Tony Stark but all he can offer them is a fruit basket. So they end up with Agent Aether, who just kinda pops up out of nowhere, and he suggests they use their powers to supply people with cheap and safe electricity and gives them a quick lesson on how power stations work…and…yeah, he’s totally not what he seems and is up to no good…because of course he is.

This series continues to be delightful and the artwork continues to be excellent. Hey, I even like the cover this time!

I’d recommend this comic to anyone who likes good comics, and would maybe suggest that continuity obsessed weirdos avoid it. Long live Power Pack!

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Power Pack (2020-) #1 by Ryan North

Power Pack (2020-) #1 (of 5)Power Pack (2020-) #1 by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was wonderful.

As a long time Power Pack fan I was a little concerned that this would be a total reset, ignoring Alex’s time with the Future Foundation and Julie’s coming out as gay, but was pleasantly surprised that these are both covered. Sure, it doesn’t cover every minute detail in Power Pack history, but I’m a great believer that continuity exists to serve the story and not the other way around. You take what you need and what works from a character or team’s history and you can just quietly forget the rest…don’t contradict it if you can avoid that, so future writers are free to pick up on it…but don’t limit the story you’re trying to tell by slavishly staying true to an obscure comic from twenty years ago that hardly anyone read or remembers.

Anyway, the kids get back together for their parents’ wedding anniversary, when the Boogeyman attacks an orphanage because he just wants to eat some orphans…but this is all ultimately a pretext for getting the Power kids caught up in the whole Outlawed storyline, and they all wind up getting arrested at the end. Because of course they do.

This is charmingly written, with Ryan North perfectly capturing the spirit of the original book, and the characters are spot on. What please me most, however, is the art, which is superb, and while not really like June Brigman’s art from the classic series, seems to capture the same feel. I was concerned going in because the cover art very much does not do that, but thankfully Nico Leon’s internal art is a much better fit for the book.

All in all a great return for what are, for me at least, some much loved characters.

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Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) #3 by Kieron Gillen

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) #3 (of 5)Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) #3 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!”

Kieron Gillen continues the story of Marneus Calgar, or the man who took that name, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines and Lord of Ultramar…and…this is just great stuff.

The writing is perfect, as you’d expect from a man of Gillen’s prodigious talents, and the art is perfectly suited to Warhammer 40K larger than life, brutal and bloody universe.

Calgar and his Ultramarines are all that stand between the Imperium and the forces of Chaos, but as ever in Games Workshop’s twisted future world, the Imperium is every bit as warped and dark as the chaos gods that besiege it.

I love this. It’s just…cool. And the fifteen year old WH40K fan that’s buried deep inside me just can’t get enough of it.

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Iron Man (2020-) #4 by Christopher Cantwell

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

This is still very good stuff, but I’m not sure if this month sees a slight drop in quality or if I’m just tired.

Or maybe I’m not all that interested in Korvac as a villian? Or I’m a bit tired of super villains with messianic tendencies?

Who knows? It could just be that I’m full of cheese. Anyway, I’m still loving the dynamic between Patsy Walker and Tony Stark, and it’s good to see Rhodey again, of course.

The art is as lovely as ever, but I find myself eager for this arc to end and for us to move on. Not sure why. It’s probably the cheese.

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Deadpool (2019-) #9 by Kelly Thompson

Deadpool (2019-) #9Deadpool (2019-) #9 by Kelly Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“How are they going to resolve this in a way that ties everything up and makes sense?” I found myself wondering, and, dammit, Kelly Thompson pulled it off!

If you’d told me a while back that making Deadpool King of the Monsters and then teaming him up with Else Bloodstone would lead to one of my favourite comics, I…well, I might have believed you…but I’d definitely be surprised.

Plus, you know, Jeff the Shark.

I also have to mention THAT COVER by Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend. Because it’s stunning. It’s “get me a poster of this so I can put it on my wall” stunning.

So, yeah. this is a really good book and you should be reading it.

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King In Black (2020-) #2 by Donny Cates

King In Black (2020-) #2 (of 5)King In Black (2020-) #2 by Donny Cates
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, this is better…or maybe that as it’s #2 I’m not coming in completely cold and so I’m a bit less confused as to what’s going.

Knull, the titular King In Black, is notable by his complete absence from this issue, however. Not that he was really in the first part much either. I get the feeling that he’s off doing things in the various tie-in series. I assume that’s also where various heroes, including Cyclops, The Thing and Storm got taken over by him too. This is always a problem with these big event books, if you’re not reading all the tie-in issues then things seem to just randomly happen without any real explanation.

That said, this issue is more tightly focused on attempts to heal Eddie Brock and come up with a plan to defeat Knull…which, uh, aren’t exactly successful. But, hey, there are five issues of this, you can’t expect everything to be solved by #2!

The art continues to be excellent, of course. Stegman’s doing a great job. But, yeah, this event is definitely not new reader friendly, but as I said in my review of #1, I wasn’t really expecting it to be. I’m really just here to check if it’ll have any real impact on the X-Men…which I doubt. And to read a few of the tie-in books, I guess. But, hey, maybe I’ll start to get into it, I know this issue drew me in a little more.

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