Author Archives: Troy Powell

Review: S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hickman and Weaver #6

It has been a long time coming, but the ground-breaking series that showcased the ancient founding of SHIELD,  S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hickman and Weaver, has come to an end. I have not been this excited to see a series wrap up since perhaps Secret Wars, which famously suffered a similar prolonged publishing delay. It has been awhile and I had to do a second reading of both volumes of this title to jog my memory. It is best read in my opinion as a trade or in one sitting. Hickman’s writing style is very complex and layered but rewards close attention and patience.

This issue showcases the climax of the battle for SHIELD, as LEONID, the chosen catalyst for Da Vinci’s  enigmatic human machine, bridges a solution to the dichotomous philosophies fueling the SHIELD war. i.e. the philosophy that everything eventually dies or the philosophy of endless possibility. The ending was long over due but shed some thematic light on some other Hickman works within Marvel’s publications. What I loved the most about this series and this issue in particular is how so much of it was an elegant yet succinct love letter to Marvel’s cosmology. The series explored the origins of humankind, its renaissance, its future the Inhumans, Deviants and the evolutionary guidance of the Celestials all within 12 issues. What appears to be the resolution in this issue (at least from my perspective) is that Da Vinci’s machine becomes a earth-made celestial of sorts, a literal deus ex machina that resolves the conflict by creating ideal earths for the figureheads of each faction in the SHIELD conflict. Issac Newton gets his desolated apocalyptic landscape, and Da Vinci gets his Utopia of human progress.

One question that I could not get out of my head was my own speculation if the resolution in this issue was the trigger point for the multiversal incursions we saw later in Hickman’s run on the Avengers and New Avengers titles? There was some strong theme carryover particularly with the dualities of life and death, building/ planning complex structures, from a single idea and so on.  I tend to judge writers on their contributions to the meta-narrative. I really have to praise Hickman for deep and lasting contributions to the Marvel mythos. From the infinity formula, to life model decoys, the SHIELD series (volumes 1 and 2) offered us a compelling and poignant origin story.

If you enjoyed this title I strongly recommend reading other works under Hickman’s pen, such as his run on the Fantastic Four  or Secret Warriors which brought back Leonardo Da Vinci, and his work on Avengers and Infinity. Hickman’s stories are carefully constructed plots that are well organized, and filled with wonder, additionally they feel like pieces of a puzzle revealing a greater landscape. No other writer in my opinion has executed their vision as sophisticated as Hickman’s they are artistic products of wonder and imagination that have really fleshed out the marvel universe, I’m happy to have been along for the ride, delay notwithstanding.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Dustin Weaver
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation Buy!

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-Men: Red #5

X-Men: Red #5 showcases one of the new team’s more successful diplomatic rescue missions, as the intrigue surrounding Cassandra Nova’s nanite Sentinels continues. World Leaders around the globe as well unwitting humans are shown as targets in this issue, turned against their will into mutant hating drones attacking mutants both with legislation and mob violence. In a previous article I noted how X-Men: Red  presents a timely social commentary into some of the challenges we are facing. Writer Tom Taylor has clearly drawn some inspiration from the current racial divisions abjectly stoked by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

We see another example of the talking-head, pundit-style news cycle in this issue addressing the mutant crisis. What I enjoyed the most of this was how this segment plainly showcased the use of bias, tunnel vision, word framing as well as dropped contexts. It’s unclear if the one-sidedness showcased by one of the reporters is due to his own prejudices or if he has become victim to Cassandra Nova’s Sentinites as well. This blurring line is definitely an unsettling one, and perhaps an intended theme of the story. This title’s emphasis on the promulgation of half truths, and the targeting of those with bias made me think about memes, and how their spread shapes culture. In this way, there’s an interesting parallel between both the targeted propaganda, and the function of the Sentinite, both are seemingly ephemeral, small but work towards a devastating and violent critical mass. 

It still remains to be seen what Cassandra Nova’s endgame is but her arrival presents the perfect foil to Jean Grey and by extension her mission. I have always understood Cassandra Nova, as a corrupter, a wraithlike entity who functions much like her chosen methods of attack in this series, behind the scenes and by dredging up the darkness is hidden within the best of us.   The overarching parallel of the parasite that encapsulates Cassandra, misinformation and her nano -Sentinels cannot be overlooked.

It is very nice to see Namor step up to the plate in this issue. The Anti-Mutant sentiment stoked by Nova’s machinations have caused a refugee exodus of Poland’s mutants, the X-Men go to assist on the shores of the Baltic sea, where Namor arrives prepared with equipment to ferry the mutants to new Mutant Nation Searebro. There’s a poignant moment where Namor flexes his diplomatic muscle, reminding assailing soldiers that if they want to keep using their current trade routes via the sea, they must allow the mutants to leave peacefully. The ensuing refugee crisis is quite symbolic.  Not too long ago it was the Atlanteans who were scattered across the globe and found refuge at the X-Men’s mutant national Utopia at the time.  I really respect that Namor has not forgotten his allies nor his heritage.  The change in circumstance  is definitely special and speaks to the X-Men strengths.  Where Cassandra’s power lies in division, a hallmark of the X-Men has always been creating friends from foes, and bridging divisions. We see this with Jean’s empathetic explanation to the human who was previously infected with the Sentinite as well as Jean’s vow to fight by weaponizing the truth. This team really shines with its humanitarian ethos, something I feel has been missing from the X-Men for some time. This title is quickly becoming a favorite in my pull list.

Some Final Thoughts

Jean Grey wants to fight with the truth, however, history may not be so kind in this regard. Namor’s recent run in with the Phoenix and his assault on Wakanda could stand to delegitimize his position and by extension the clemency he has given to the Fledgling mutant Nation.  The truth cuts both ways and it would be interesting to see how the team addresses this if it becomes a spoiler in future issues.

Going back to the theme of Cassandra’s corruption we have seen her undermine multiple mutant allies, Forge is the unwitting architect of the nano-sentinels in In X-Men Red Annual 1  we see a subplot involving Cassandra’s  weaponizing Rachel psychically. This raises questions about the exploits of the Gold team, (who are fighting a similar nano-sentinel threat) as well as Rachel’s recent powerups and inability to read Lydia Nance’s mind. It will be very interesting to see how this subplot pans out and if any of the nanite technology  is related across both X-Men titles.

Seeing Trinary with the team’s pet sentinel gave me goosebumps and I couldn’t pin down why until I had a mental flashback to Avengers Arena (The  Arcade’s hunger games themed murder fest of young heroes) Apex (the murderous technopath bears a striking similarity to Trinary, and it would be devastatingly delicious plot twist if there was some connection between the two, or if Cassandra made her an unwitting pawn as well

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Mahmud Asrar
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation Buy!

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Marvel’s Answer to Cambridge Analytica, Musings on X-Men: Red

I’m a bit late to the party but I must say it is very good to see Jean Grey back in the realm of the living! The character brings this nostalgic warmth that has been missing in the X-Men for some time, and this warmth is reflected by her current mission and approach to mutant-human relations as seen in X-Men: Red.

We’ve seen multiple iterations of anti-mutant sentiment in the X-Universe. We’ve seen it in the form of an ancient bacteria, (John Sublime) hysteria borne from mutagenic viruses (i.e. the Legacy Virus and later Mpox) We’ve even seen it sourced and fueled from a telepathically empowered Nazi. (The Red Skull). The latest iteration of anti-mutant sentiment seems to take a page from the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. With Jean Grey back among the living, the eminent telepath has set her sights on fixing the ills of the world she’s been away from for so long. This includes a plan hatched from a telepathic survey of the minds of humanitarians, and cultural influencers, as well as the formation of a new X-Men team.

Jean Grey’s resurrection is met with the return of a classic X-Men villain and the discovery of an elaborate social media campaign to stoke the fires of anti-mutant furor. The campaign’s target of individuals with known biases and its use of social media is a clear reference to the Cambridge Analytica operation, which sought to influence those with prejudiced proclivities with targeted advertising and fake news.  This is not the first time Marvel has used its stories to as social commentary on real-world issues. Back in 2009 in the lead up to the Utopia Storyline, Simon Trask advocated for Proposition X a proposal for a policy that would have forced mutants, to undergo mandatory birth control procedures. This mirrored the controversial proposition 8 in California that would have seen the LBGT community denied the right to Marriage.

I always enjoy when this art form uses its narrative to represent or pose solutions to real-world problems of this kind. Not only does this connect the reader to the protagonists, it cements the superhero genre as a medium of productive wish fulfillment. Jean’s Grey mission is very wide in its scope and returns an advocative flourish that has been missing from the X-Men for some time.  Whether her team’s mission succeeds or not, it will definitely provide an opportunity for learning and reflection. What I have always enjoyed about the X-Men franchise, is the flexibility of Mutanthood as a metaphor. The team’s recent recruit Trinary, is a South Asian, mutant, who uses her techno-digital manipulating powers to rectify the gender-based pay inequity in India. The fallout from this protest leads to her joining Jean Grey and her team. Trinary’s powers help to bring awareness of this social media campaign to the fledgling X-Men team and raises some interesting questions on how this current predicament will be fought going forward.

Who wouldn’t want to develop powers, to combat the spread of Banonism that has latched on the ever-present “Fear of the other” in the United States? Or to develop a telepathic insight into how mental laziness, propaganda, and malice feed into systematic violence and disenfranchisement? What is so beautiful about this current run, is how it eloquently uses the mutant metaphor, to ponder or creatively inspire holistic solutions to society’s most chronic ills. Instead of reacting the way we always do,  with offense and subsequent attack. (methods anticipated and desired by those driving such conflict) the story in X-Men Red encourages us to move forward with strength in other matters, using understanding and creativity to tackle or disrupt problems that always recur and takes new forms this is essentially the heart of Jean Grey’s mission and it will be inspiring as well as instructive to see how it pans out.  If you’re a fan of Jean Grey, or just want to see a nuanced and timely story addressing difference, fear, and conflict, this is a title that is definitely worthy of your attention.

An Encomium to the Black Experience: Why I am excited to see Black Panther

Colonized, broken, subservient, destitute, poor and reliant on aid. These are the common motifs that typically come to mind  when some give an errant thought to the continent of Africa. There is a deep history, explaining aspects of these considerations, mostly colonial but they are not the whole picture. Africa has a rich legacy, a cultural tapestry that stretches back to the dawn of time, achievements that have been unsung or even suppressed. I have been doing a lot of reading lately, mostly on literature that have undertaken a bold and honest look at the history of humankind. I have been studying how the legacies of colonization persist in modern day vestiges of prejudice and systematic disenfranchisement. I have also been looking at how language and narrative can exhibit and perpetuate invented divisions. Two books come to mind here and I would love to suggest them to you, They are Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harrari and Dialogical Self Theory by Hubert Hermans, and Agnieszka Hermans-Konopka.  

The former is an exquisite exploration of the journey of humankind, showing the many paths we have taken, niches we have settled in. It is exhaustive and holistic account of the different cultures that have been weaved, as well as how our tools, worldview, philosophy, most importantly how empire has shaped both the earth and ourselves. The latter takes a look at how language and narrative can either build bridges and understanding of the “other” or perpetuate divisions we have come to know. The book does an amazing job at explaining the source and drivers of threat perception upon the globalized stage. Critical to this is the examination and distinction between Monological and Dialogical communication. Monological being a top down and rigid form of discourse that limits the bandwidth of communication. Dialogical communications opens all possible channels, is inclusive and seeks to holistically deal with misperceptions, born from countering positions. 

Racism and prejudice are sterling examples of monological communication. Communication that serves to assuage a perceived grievance or rationalizations oriented towards a particular end, typically division, suppression dominance or protectionist impulse. Think here of the Trump White House’s worldview on immigration, or the attitude of noblesse oblige that continues to plunder African through the Charitable Humanitarian Complex” I count myself very fortunate to have lived in a country where my personal encounter with racism has never gone beyond the threshold of mere offence. My life has never been threatened, nor my personal or professional pursuits limited due to my race. Nevertheless I recognize that a system of suppression and oppression are firmly in place with various degrees of manifestation. As a black male in Canada, I cannot discount the full and complete legacy of  dispossession and disenfranchisement that continues to be the plight of my aboriginal brothers and sisters. Nor the strained relations between law enforcement and many people of colour as well as other vulnerable minorities. There is a system and it persists.

Black Panther, a story of the technologically superior and unconquered super power of Wakanda, is a welcome opportunity to buck the exaggerated and monological narrative surrounding Africa and perhaps other culture served the same treatment in history.

I do not know as much as I should about my deep ancestry, but my Grandmother has told my family she is descended from the Maroons. A group of West African slaves taken to the greater and lesser Antilles to fill the void left by the indigenous genocide that took place there. I am very proud to know that the Maroons were among some of the first slaves to revolt against their cruel masters in Jamaica. Knowing that I have that blood in my veins has been everything for me. For years I have pondered at the level of cultural and spiritual dispossession that European colonialism has dealt to my people, I have wondered about the cultural traditions I was torn from as a result and the Gods I have not had the opportunity to worship. My orientation towards Africa has always been a curious wonder, deep longing and pain that I do not know it as well as I should.  When I think about achievements like the Library of Alexandria, and the strength and monuments built by many on the continent I wonder about the real life Wakanda’s that have evaded modern western history’s record, narrative and respect.

Will there be some who are put off by this film? Of course, the symbol of the Black Panther and Black Panthers has always been controversial and weary by those determined to subvert and twist it for some of the reasons listed above, none of that will detract from the beauty and majesty of this re-presentation of black culture.

What I am most excited for is the generation of black boys and girls who will look to the big screen and see towering and talented heroes who look just like them. I look forward to those seeking reconnection and a homecoming, I look forward for the dialogical discourse that this film will no doubt launch. I look forward for the raising of a voice so often distorted or muted in the media.  I look forward to the day when parents no longer have to warn their children about walking at certain hours or wearing hoodies….they can wear capes….they can learn science. They can clothe themselves in vibranium, be bulletproof and achieve epic feats.

Whether in Marvel’s Wakanda, or DC’s Vathlo Island (Krypton), Afrofuturism is a welcome balm for those seeking reconnection with their motherland, inspiration and an invitation to a deeper understanding of race relations.

If we can confront historical grievance and misunderstanding in an inclusive and dialogical way, without suppression, there is no limit to what we as a human species can achieve or heal. I am proud of this opportunity, and it moves me deeply. Wakanda Forever!

I wrote this after watching Kendrick Lamar‘s video All the Stars, featured on the Black Panther original soundtrack. It almost brought me to tears. Take a look, a beautiful tribute to African dress and culture.

TV Review: American Gods S1E1 The Bone Orchard

Neil Gaiman‘s long awaited adaptation of his novel American Gods has finally hit the small screen. As a fan of the book I can attest that the opening episode was very faithful to the book and I am excited to see the rest of the season. Without giving too much away, American Gods is a story about the globalized confrontation of new and older Gods, played out by virtue of American Immigration from a myriad of cultures. The main protagonist Shadow Moon gets sucked into the ensuing conflict, facing a number of surprises along the journey after being released from prison and finding himself in the employ of the Mysterious  Wednesday.

After the first episode, I really must make a note to commend the choice of casting. The actor and actresses chosen to depict their characters do so flawlessly,  carrying their authenticity and voice without a hitch. The taciturn Shadow Moon, is deep and complex, and very brooding, while Wednesday, shows off his knack for charm, and divine metaphor but without giving up too much about his plans and designs at the beginning.

As first impressions go you’ll find an interesting parallel between the current economic climate that we all face, and the what appears to be the current state of the divinities introduced in episode one. The Gods or otherworldly entities featured are Bilquis, Mad Sweeney, and Wednesday. (Odin for those who needed the hint) they come off as vagabonds, or vagrants at worst. Mere shadows of their former selves. As Bilquis admits to a man who solicits her “I’m not what I once was.” interestingly she is initially demure and shocked by his affections…a disposition in stark contrast to her confidence after “consuming” him.  Here we have deities seemingly sustained by very different types of worship. (Sex, fisticuffs, and eye-gouging)  But like our current marketplace the quest for hearts and minds (and worship) is a fickle one. There is that pesky reality of competitors.  Near the end, we are hinted at an emerging conflict between the old and new guard. When the mystical “Technical Boy”  kidnaps and queries Shadow about his mysterious new Liaison. Although this young upstarts denigrates and belittles the old Wednesday, and threatens to “delete” Shadow for his stubbornness, his bluster belies his fear, which is warranted given a very bloody intervention that saves Shadow. The likes of which was portrayed in a scene that has not rattled me since that Blood-flood elevator scene in The Shining.

To say American Gods is cinematically vivid as it is alluring and mysterious is an understatement. Shadow’s dream sequences anchor his mysterious ties this weird world he has found him in. The sequences are also very faithful to the descriptions in the book. Something that I always appreciate. It feels like a modern or futuristic homage to Alice in Wonderland. On a whole, American Gods is a story about survival. Survival and confrontation in an uncertain land told through a supernatural and mythic frame. Something we can all relate to on some level. If you find the tides of favor have shifted against you in any aspect of life, Bilquis’ words should resonate with you.  If you find yourself questioning the value of that liberal arts degree, in a bloated  employment marketplace then you understand the plight of the “old guard.”  If you’ve been scorned because your age and lack of so called “experience”  have eclipsed the genuine merit of your innovation and ambition then technical boy’s reaction will make perfect sense to you.

Fans of Americana served with a slice of mythopunk, definitely check the series out you won’t be disappointed, whether you read the book or didn’t. This series is a solid offering people will be discussing and debating for some time. The story is an intergenerational and intercultural morality play that is faithfully depicted. I cannot wait for episode two.  The characters are ironically so human but the same time, the story told provides a subtle emphasis on the power and consequence of human belief, worship and attention.

Overall: 9.5

Final Thoughts: The opening scene I believe was an addition to the series not included in the book. It anchors one of cultural mythological roots of one of the main deities and it was a very awesome scene, very Game of Thrones-esque. It also anchors the sub-theme of immigration and encounter among Gods and ideas.

Artistic Callbacks, Easter Eggs & Dangling Plotlines – Death and Resurrection On Genosha

Happy Easter Everyone! I recently found a treasure trove of old comics, and it really got me nostalgic and appreciative for some really stand out art of past eras. It wasn’t just the art the stood out but how certain panels inspire other artists and become the subject of homage.  I love to discover these little Easter eggs as it shows that art can carry elements like themes and continuity quite well. They don’t just have a story to tell, but sometimes hint at things, future artists/writers may or may not pick up on. Finding common threads like this through multiple works really excite me. So this weekend I decided to do a little Easter Egg hunting of my own and start a new series for our retro segment on Graphic Policy

I wanted to submit the following panels for commentary. The first is art by Frank Quietly for Grant Morrison’s legendary New X-Men run. The art depicts Professor Xavier in his Cerebro Chamber has his sister and newfound X-Villian Cassandra Nova carries out the Infamous Genoshan Genocide. A landmark occurrence, the Genocide of Genosha via Nova’s wild sentinels foresaw the death of 16 million (plus) mutants. The first major blow to mutant kind before the decimation of M-Day. Quietly has been known for his very psychedelic art particularly during his interpretation of Morrison’s characters and vision. The image of Xavier’s head observing the genocide through Cerebra’s condensation viewer was quite haunting and a standout piece of art in my honest opinion

The second panel features art by Clayton Crain, during the X-ForceNecrosha” event. The titular name being an homage to the massacred mutant nation. The Panel is a clear homage to New X-Men #115‘s “Extermination Event”. However, during this resurrection event, the immortal mutant Selene uses a combination of science and sorcery to resurrect the lost mutant lives on the island so she could consume them and attain her long desired Godhood.

What I love about the panel is that it features the Stepford Cuckoos reacting much like Xavier did, and the population counter showing mutant lives resurrected is the exact inverse of the Genocide, but adjusted to reflect the decimation of M-day, real clever.

Both panels punctuate how much Cerebro has become emblematic of Mutantkind’s place in the world, and how the X-Men’s journey has been beleaguered with extinctions and genocide. Crain’s art, hallmarked with a gritty and dour tone of the third X-Force volume was as real, and beautiful as it was dark. A lot of his panels on this run were a perfect match for the title’s theme, dark foreboding and violent. What I like about this homage is that it’s a rarity among his work on this series at the time. Ethereal and bright, a brief stab of light during a very dark time for the X-Men, and at the center of all of it as always is Cerebro.

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

Happy belated International Women’s Day everyone!, I was very happy to spend the afternoon with my mom, and watch such an inspiring story of determination, unity and human progress.  I must admit that between X-Men: First Class, Dreamgirls, and Hidden Figures the 60s are quickly becoming a favorite go-to era of mine where cinema is concerned. With respect to segregation, the red scare, and the approach to seeming difference in general, this era serves as an interesting mirror in terms of what lessons we have learned, and perhaps what lessons we have not.

Overall Hidden Figures is a story about determination in the face of prejudice and fostering the ties that bind. Through a retelling the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson we are introduced to a lesser known trial of how these pioneers persisted and made a difference despite the obstacles of segregation. It’s a real heartfelt story about the sacrifice that trailblazers make and what the legacy of being “first” provides. Hidden Figures offers also an intersectional perspective on minority relations and hardship. Beneath the story of NASA in the context of 1960s segregation, there are clear parallels to our current debate on bathroom access for transgender individuals and our current dilemma with the rise in Islamophobia.

At the heart of Hidden Figures is a film and story about the true and total cost of prejudice. The silliness of propping up such traditions of segregation is really anchored in the film when you see the talent that the separation has potentially squandered away. In light of the themes of Hidden Figures and the mission to space that it overlooks, I was reminded of an article titled “Earthrise – a Mythic Image of Our Time.” When John Glenn gets to space, and we see the globe in its entirety, you can’t help but be reminded of humankind’s unitary fate.

There is also an interesting sub-theme of our symbiosis with technology and by extension “the other/unknown.” We see Dorothy Vaughn’s exploration into the Fortran language and the emergence of one the first IBM computers. A subtle yet poignant parallel is drawn between both minority and machine being a threat to job security. Most of this is in fact the driving force between the prejudice seen in the film as job scarcity, perceived talent, and “seniority” appear to be at odds with inclusiveness and exploration. In the end the impulse and benefit of “working with” wins out over “working against” and it really is the most timely and beautiful message to have.

Overall Hidden Figures felt like a spiritual prequel to film Apollo 13, just far less boring and with a strong message. Although it was not without its slow parts, the film is an enjoyable family friendly conveyance of a story that is relevant and timely given what we face in our current political environment. I left the theater feeling driven by my own personal hardships, and a bit proud and hopeful for humanity. This is something I think is sorely needed at this time, if you haven’t seen Hidden Figures, I strongly suggest you do. I am sure you’ll walk out feeling the same way.

Overall Rating 9.5

Review: Inhumans vs. X-Men #5

Inhumans vs. X-Men  #5‘s overarching themes appear to be perception, reality, and externalities above all else. In this issue, the Inhumans begin to rebound and regroup as the war between to two species nears its climax. What struck me the most about this issue were the moral and perceptual questions that the narrative seemed to pose. IvX began with a seemingly straightforward conflict which positioned the Inhumans and Mutants in a diametrically opposed struggle for survival. The veneer of this directness fades away and it is appropriate that this coincides with the resurgence of Karnak who can see the inherent flaw in all things and comments on this very issue near the end. It really impressed me how after escaping the world Karnak doesn’t rush headlong into the conflict rather he reflects on his time away and requests information to guide his action.

There is an emotional encounter between Havok and Medusa, who both muse over who’s really to blame for the current crisis. Interestingly Havok dismisses the Terrigen and places some blame squarely with Emma’s relationship with Scott. I thought this was an interesting conclusion to make at first glance until I remembered that Havok knows the truth regarding Scott’s apparent martyrdom. That said, Black Bolt still carried out his actions in good faith, and the reality remains that Terrigen and by extension the Inhumans are responsible for Scott’s death, as well as countless other mutants. This takes me back to the problem of externalities that I’ve mentioned in some previous reviews.  We know full well that the Inhuman are not monolithic and recent stories have shown us the existence of multiple tribes. So the question remains are all the Inhumans responsible for the devastating effects of the global Terrigen cloud? How do we ethically parse, the benefactors of a given action, and culpability for its adverse effects? There’s no real easy answer to this and IvX #5 punctuates this fact quite nicely.

I also wrote in another review how the younger group of X-Men seemed more open other perspectives, generally less guarded and dogmatic about the truth of matters. In this issue the Nuhumans (the newly transferred Inhumans) appear to be of the same manner seemingly helping the X-Men with their quest to stop the Terrigen. I could be wrong here, I am not sure if they have uncovered a solution that will benefit both species or if they agree that the Terrigen should be dealt with. It’s nice to see but with that said there is still a lot of strangeness with the conflict revealed as Karnak senses. Particularly towards the end as a magneto makes a play that is quite eyebrow-raising play. At this point I suspect Maximus the mad has some overlooked influence. But until the conclusion, we will have to wait and see.

For now, I am very happy that the story is offering or at least speculating at alternative hypothesis. It brings a level of refreshing honesty to the conflict and a caveat for approaching most conflicts in general, it is really nice to have that here.

Story: Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule Art: Javier Garron
Story 8.0 Art 7.0 Overall 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: 24 Legacy 12:00pm-1:00pm

24foxFox‘s heart pumping, edge-of-your-seat spy drama makes its landmark return and sure doesn’t waste anytime cutting to the chase. The series is set to reinvigorate the franchise with the new protagonist Eric Carter a US Ranger who’s previous operation in a foreign country thwarted the plans of a Terrorist named Bin Khalid. The plot unfolds as Carter’s team of Rangers now living with new identities are slowly being picked off one by one as renewed terrorist elements in the country search for a hidden strongbox with terror cell information.

Like its predecessor, 24 Legacy is not shy to explore and serve commentary on timely or overlooked issues. Beneath the surface of all the intrigue, there is a story about the plight of veteran welfare, and their mental health. The current domestic threat is heightened when Ben, one of the last remaining rangers takes the strongbox and essentially attempts to sell it to the highest bidder. Ben is disgruntled about his livelihood and treatment after his military service skirts an interesting blurry line between patriotism and treason. It will be interesting to see how 24 Legacy deals with it.

As the indispensable 24 institution, I am happy to see that CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) makes its return.  I’ve been eager to see how CTU would have grown in the years since we have last seen it operational. In a sense it both disappoints and delivers. Technologically CTU (at least in the first hour) is a marvel, with all the bells and whistle of the current tech era, CTU impresses with its use of real-time surveillance archived satellite feeds and use of drones. Personnel wise it appears that CTU has not changed much at all. Sadly 24 Legacy resurrects the tired trope of endless politicking and career climbing among the coworkers at the agency. 1 hour in and we are already introduced to a street smarts vs book smart rivalry, and classic side-eye/somebody’s always looking atmosphere of paranoia. We have seen so many interactions of this that you have to wonder if anybody is not more committed by task rather than ego. By the end of the episode there’s even a full-on commandeering of CTU. Although formulaic this latter development was the more warranted and enjoyable turn of events where CTU was concerned. Rebecca Ingram the former director of CTU takes drastic measures after the fallout from her previous and seemingly Bin Khalid operation presents some current fallout. Ingram is a really compelling character, somewhat a mix of Jack Bauer and Audrey Raines in a way…both bureaucratic and badass. Speaking of former characters, the college educated Mariana is revealed to be Edgar Stiles cousin, a fan favorite and a nice touchstone to the previous series. Last Eric Carter definitely delivers as the series central protagonist. He is every bit the bad ass the Jack Bauer was, and his performance really sells this new character taking the reins. That said I will be genuinely surprised if Mr. Bauer is a no-show at any point during the series.

24 Legacy is a high-octane ride that wastes no time diving right into the madness that 24 fans are familiar with. New fans also have a very good jumping on point and should not miss it if they are curious I have fond memories watching with housemates back in my University days. Watching and reviewing the new installment feels like a homecoming of sorts. I am invested in most of the characters and eagerly awaiting to see how this new day unfolds.

Overall Rating: 9.5

Game Review: Pokemon Sun & Moon

pokemon-sun-moon-trailer-gameplayGame reviews aren’t something I’ve taken the opportunity to venture on with Graphic Policy, but I do consider myself a gamer in every sense of the word. In 2016 the Pokémon Franchise celebrated a remarkable 20 Twenty Year milestone, and I am happy that my first game review is an opportunity to chime in that celebration. Pokémon’s latest installment Sun & Moon is marked with sustained freshness, polished gameplay, and fresh mechanics, that have frequently changed the strategic dynamic. I.e. mega evolutions, z-crystal moves, regional variants.

With its rich lore, with intergenerational ties, and more recently multiversal implications/migration, the seventh generation brings a level of “meta” to the game that we haven’t seen since Generation 1’s glitch Pokémon Missingno. which unintentionally pierced the veil between fantasy and reality. With Pokémon Sun & Moon and the recent OR/AS  it is now canonically established that individual game versions and former generations are self-contained worlds/dimensions, which now experience intergenerational migration (both Pokémon and People) as of Generation VII. I noticed this when discovering the presence of a  version exclusive pokémon,(Restricted to my version) near a monument that seemingly allows travel to another “universe” Upon reflection this made sense as what is called the “Ultra Wormholes” in this game was explicitly referred to as a “Link Cable” in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. It’s these little touches that really shows how layered the franchise has become and makes me appreciate it more, doubly so when such elements aren’t heavily announced and left for the player to discover.

Gen VII’s offering seem to me, to be as a truce between the so called “Gen Oners” and more recent fans to the franchise.The regional variants offer a fresh new take on many beloved gen one favourites. This was a welcome compromise with respect to not adding as many new creatures comparable to prior generations. All of this praise aside, there are some critiques that I have, but they are nitpicks at best and borne from my deep love for the game.

Critique 1 – The current game’s lack of a national pokedex. It has been a  growing fear of mine that the meta-quest of “Catching them all” has become a Sisyphean task and may be de-emphasized or pushed to the wayside entirely eventually. This fear was confirmed to some degree with the lack of a national dex, omitting the full pokedex listing of every pokémon in the series. Where this may come as some relief to some, to me it somewhat betrays the core goal and mantra of the series “gotta catch them all”

Critique 2 – “Too little water!” If ORAS committed the infamously parodied sin of Too Much Water (sorry IGN). I argue that the Alola Region commits the sin of too little of it. The choice to overhaul and remove the HM system is a double edge sword. On one hand It frees up your pokémon move repertoire choices, and eliminates the need for “HM slaves “but it also restricts your exploration. Having just experienced the immersive freedom of the Hoenn remakes where you can surf, dive and travel up waterfalls. Alola by contrast feels a bit limited. Especially so considering its beautiful environments and vistas that just beckon at you to be explored intimately.

All this said, Gen VII is still a strong offering to a franchise that is not going anywhere soon. The creature designs of the current generation are also a marked improvement from what we’ve seen in recent installments.  My personal favourites are the Rockruff and Stufful evolutionary lines . This is a good sign letting us know that the game creators are listening to the fans.

7 generations and 20 years strong  The sky is the limit for the franchise and it looks as though that is where it is indeed heading.  There have been rumours that we will see a third version of this generation titled “Pokemon Stars” as a launch title for the upcoming Nintendo Switch. (to be honest I think the title “Eclipse” would have made much more sense)  with all of the cosmic/interdimensional themes, that have been popping up in the franchise lately this makes sense.

Final Thoughts

I Really love the Lovecraftian designs of the Ultra Beasts

Game Freak really missed out on an opportunity and should have revealed Missingno as an Ultrabeast. It would have connected Gen VII organically to the events of Gen 1 in a way that fits with the current mythos magnificently.

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