Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 11/28
Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.
These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.
X-Men #15 (Marvel)– All the groundwork that Jonathan Hickman has laid with the Summers family comes to fruition as he, Mahmud Asrar, and Sunny Gho craft a truly heroic Cyclops and Jean Grey in X-Men #15 against the backdrop of the final X of Swords duel between Apocalypse and Genesis. They portray Cyclops as a true hero, who is okay with taking any risk possible to protect his family (Kid Cable, in this case) and mutantdom as a whole unlike some of the other Quiet Council members, like Sebastian Shaw, Exodus, Sinister, and of course, Professor X. However, he and Jean can also play politics too like telling Nightcrawler (Who really wanted to do some swashbuckling) and Kate Pryde to stay behind to counterbalance the villains and unsavory folks. Asrar uses a nine panel grid to show the lively Quiet Council debate and crafts some dynamic compositions like Magneto and Professor X reflected in Scott’s visor as he weighs his options. This issue is definitely the Scott and Jean show, but I love how Hickman and Asrar cut away to Magneto and show the little glances that he gives Scott because he’s proud that he’s choosing his convictions and values over that cold Xaverian pragmatism. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
Excalibur #15 (Marvel)– The X-Men plus epic fantasy battles? I could consume this comic intravenously. Tini Howard, Mahmud Asrar, and Stefano Casselli spin a defeat from the jaws of victory tale and vice versa in Excalibur #15. Apocalypse’s ex Genesis is on a rampage with the hordes of Arakko, and both Otherworld and Krakoa are in her sights. Enter many dynamic action scenes and bursts of magic, but also touching, intimate scenes like Bei Bloodroot choosing Krakoa and her new husband Cypher over the Arakkii in a nine panel grid. Along the way, Howard gives her original Excalibur cast members moments to shine as Jubilee and Opal Saturnyne find a common cause in Jubilee’s dragon son Shogo and protecting the Starlight Citadel. It’s fun to see Opal Saturnyne go from manipulative enemy to ally, but that tends to happen when you’re fighting a baddie that makes Apocalypse look like your average altruistic, upstanding citizen. Also, I could kind of tell what was coming on the final page, but Casselli and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg make it look so glorious that I didn’t even care. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
X of Swords: Destruction #1 (Marvel)– The Captain Britain Corps, Cyclops and Jean Grey’s X-Men, and the creepy alien critters from earlier in the crossover join the final battle between Krakoa, Arakko, and Otherworld in X of Swords: Destruction #1. Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, and Pepe Larraz masterfully orchestrate a satisfying ending to this crossover that wraps up Apocalypse’s individual arc/journey throughout the X-Men and Excalibur titles as well as changing the dynamic between Otherworld, Krakoa, and Arakko, who becomes Otherworld’s vassal. A lot of the action is told in montage with minimal or no captions, and Larraz’s multi-faceted art and Marte Gracia’s bright colors doing the heavy lifting. Hickman and Howard do conclude the great war/tournament, but also leave lots of avenues open for future storytelling. Some of these threads include the reemergence of X-Men as an actual superhero team, the return of SWORD (Or at least, the space station) and the Captain Britain Corps, and the power void left by the departure of Apocalypse. There’s also the general Majestrix-ness of Opal Luna Saturnyne, who is depicted in soft, yet powerful light by Larraz and Gracia as she got everything she wanted, except for Brian Braddock. This is sure to be a sore point in future Excalibur issues. In conclusion, X of Swords finished strong even if not every chapter was a hit, and Tini Howard, Jonathan Hickman, and Pepe Larraz made the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe more interesting and compelling instead of wrecking the toy box and leaving other writers to clean up the mess. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy
Red Hood #51 (DC)– Shawn Martinbrough returns to The Hill with artist Tony Akins in a fairly decent ancillary Bat-book, Red Hood #51. They set up The Hill as a predominantly Black neighborhood, which has become more diverse, while also being gentrified and not being affected by the Joker War. However, sneaker scion Tommy Maxx (Aka the “White Kanye” *vomits*) and Killer Croc are trying to disturb that fragile peace. Akins has a sharp, readable art style that can handle both explosions and conversations, and he has a little fun designing Killer Croc’s “signature shoe”. This issue doesn’t focus as much on Jason Todd as The Hill as a neighborhood. But with only two issues to tell this story, Martinbrough may have bit off more than he can chew in fleshing out the area and creating a new supporting cast. Perhaps a prestige one-shot like the original Batman: The Hill, he did with Priest in 2000 would have been better. However, it’s nice to see a part of Gotham deal with issues just like real world metropolises do instead of just supervillains and vigilantes. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).