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Review: Marauders #21

Marauders #21,

The X-Books’ big summer event “Hellfire Gala” kicks off with Marauders #21, and it’s quite refreshing after the punch-ups of the last few Marvel events. Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, and Edgar Delgado dive into my favorite part of the Krakoa era X-Books, and that’s the political side of things. The Hellfire Gala is an event to show that Krakoa is a country worth recognizing, but the Hellfire Trading Company also wants to go legitimate and do trade deals and not black market swaps. It’s all orchestrated by the fabulous Emma Frost, who is the throughline of the issue, playing perfect hostess. Or is she?

In the usual event comic, there may be some arguing about ideology, philosophy, or personal issues, but then the fisticuffs start. Duggan and Lolli subvert this and use the fancy gala setting plus Krakoa’s status to just focus on the conversations, whether serious, (mostly) passive aggressive, or just jokes like Thing rolling dice with some of the Marauders or Quentin Quire roasting the hell out of Tony Stark. There are visitors from space, different Earth countries (Including Latveria and Madripoor), and superhero teams like the Avengers and Fantastic Four. All have varying responses to Krakoan hospitality, which includes a telepathic violin concert and cryptically whispering in Professor X’s ear.

There are lots of characters in Marauders #21, but for the most part, Duggan connects these cameos and guest spots into gauging what the world thinks of Krakoa. Vastly different party guests make uncomfortable comparisons to Latveria (In or out of Dr. Doom’s presence), and the Shi’ar delegation acts as a tantalizing teaser for Planet-Sized X-Men. Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli also deal with the fallout of X-Men/Fantastic Four and the whole Franklin Richards not being a mutant incident with Kate Pryde encouraging Franklin Richards and gassing him up in some nice moments that shows they’ll still have a good relationship event if he’s not a mutant for now. As mentioned earlier, Reed Richards has a completely different reaction to this and has a chaperone vibe while the Thing almost steals the entire comic with his everyman charm and reactions to Krakoa nailed with grace and comedic timing from Lolli.

Speaking of Matteo Lolli and Edgar Delgado, the visuals of Marauders #21 do Russell Dauterman’s wonderful costume designs justice from the wardrobe swaps of Emma Frost to the golden god complex get-up of Professor X and even the smart black and white tuxes of X-Force, who are on security duty. They give everything a festive air even as ambassadors trade barbs, and awkward encounters happen. Lolli has Emma pull some hilarious faces as her perfect evening starts to go awry. I also love the ethereal color palette that Delgado gives the telepathic music performance, and the shiny touches he adds to other panels like any time Emma Frost walks into the room or a guest walks through a Krakoan gate. However, he drops these effects during the last few pages set after the party and makes it almost like staggering around with a hangover or waking up from a dream.

Not to spoil the last few pages, but Gerry Duggan structures Marauders #21 in an engaging way. It’s like Reservoir Dogs with a Cecil DeMille-sized cast starting up the players and overall mood, cutting out the big action, and wrapping up with the aftermath of the big blow-up/action/what we’ll see unfold in the other chapters of “Hellfire Gala”. Plus Duggan and Matteo Lolli don’t give up the whole game and tease us with dialogue and more great facial expressions. As a kind of cherry on top, this comic also includes a reprint of a Classic X-Men story from Chris Claremont and John Bolton showing the first Hellfire Gala that explores similar themes like mutants increasing their influence and scaring humans. It also adds context to the hollowness in wheelchair-bound Sebastian Shaw’s eye throughout the soiree.

Marauders #21 is the first chapter of a new kind of a crossover, and I, for one, welcome our fabulous mutant overlords and look forward to seeing how these powerful, flawed characters screwed it up in the upcoming issues of “Hellfire Gala”.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Matteo Lolli
Colors: Edgar Delgado Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Heroes Reborn #2

Heroes Reborn #2

Heroes Reborn #2 is an intriguing comic. The second issue in the event, the issue feels more like a tie-in than the main event. Split between two stories, it definitely delivers some insight and teases the overall story but it doesn’t feel like much of a drawn. It’s both good and bad in a way.

Invaders From the Negative Zone” focuses on Hyperion delivering a bit of an origin in some ways but more showing us more about this “hero”. Writer Jason Aaron gives us a hyper-patriotic Superman who has no problem killing and whose philosophy seems to be “might makes right”. It’s an intriguing story that gives a good sense of who we’re dealing with as Hyperion must stop a jailbreak from the Negative Zone.

Like the debut, it also feels like the more interesting aspects are the other versions of characters we know in this world. Like the debut, all of that is surface deep. It drops hints and teases of a twisted world but doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail to really become interesting. Where the issue is most important is it teases Hyperion knows something isn’t right but is willing to fight to keep things as is.

Dale Keown provides the art with Carlos Magno. Magno also handles inks with Scott Hanna and Edgar Delgado is on color. The story is full of over the top visuals emphasizing the hyper-violence that Hyperion brings to the fight. Murdering villains is not an issue. Between the visuals and the dialogue, there’s also a lack of remorse in doing so. There’s some visuals that pop with memorable moments. There’s definitely a few that’ll get readers to pause. They do a solid job of emphasizing Hyperion’s brutality.

Welcome Home, Soldier” feels more like the continuation of the first issue. It features a veteran checking in on Hyperion with a reveal as to who it is towards the end. Aaron gives a decent story that has its moments but overall is too little of a movement on the main storyline. It also features some gaps in the story forcing readers to strain a bit to pieces of the puzzle together.

Ed McGuinness handles the art with Mark Morales on ink and Matthew Wilson on color. It’s a story that has some zing to it but whose visuals feel a bit like a throwback to the 70s and 80s at times. It generally looks good but doesn’t feature the memorable moments like the opening story. While the visuals also keeps its individual a mystery, it’s not too hard to guess who it is, which makes the whole reveal lack a punch.

Heroes Reborn #2 isn’t a bad comic at all. It just doesn’t feel like the “main event”. The stories feel like either slivers of an issue’s worth of storytelling or they feel like something that’d normally be relegated to a tie-in. It’s not bad at all but like the debut, it feels a bit like a throwback in some ways. Overall, not bad and will work when read all-together, but on its own, it’s a bit of ho-hum.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Dale Keown, Carlos Magno, Ed McGuinness
Ink: Scott Hanna, Carlos Magno, Mark Morales Color: Edgar Delgado, Matthew Wilson Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

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Review: Strange Academy #4

Strange Academy #4

What does a game of tag look like at the Strange Academy? After a trip to the French Quarter of New Orleans, the students are still in having fun mode taking the classic game and giving it a magical spin. While chasing each other, we get to jump through worlds through magical doors allowing for an instant change of scenery and new challenges. Strange Academy #4 continues to deliver some fun before the oncoming storm.

Writer Skottie Young continues to set up the world of Strange Academy. The characters and settings are new. And with that, Young has focused on worldbuilding than throwing our characters directly into conflict. With that, the first four issues have delivered more fun than fights. That’s not a bad thing at all. We’ve gotten to know the characters and their personalities a bit more that way. It also is clear this is the set up before characters start getting off. Young is creating an attachment between the reader and the characters. With their fun personalities, we care about them more which makes upcoming threats more ominous and more likely we’ll experience greater tragedy.

Young delivers a kinetic issue full of world jumping and youthful fun. We know the shit will hit the fan soon but we can also sit back and just enjoy the fun the characters are having. And it’s chaotic. Beyond the game of tag, the issue also deals with a library run amok in a way that’s unexpected. Strange Academy #4 seems to have a goal and that’s to remind us that there’s danger everywhere and it’ll come from unexpected locations and at unexpected times.

Humberto Ramos provides the art with Edgar Delgado on color and Clayton Cowles lettering. There’s a lot to pack into the issue and it’s impressive with what’s done. Between the library setting and the different worlds presented the issue literally hops around. It delivers so many locations and “looks” but at the same time it all feels coherent and of the same world. That’s helped by the eye-popping coloring. The team also emphasizes the fun. We can see the joy so many of the kids are experiencing as they chase each other and wind up in new locations. There’s an enthusiasm mixed with energetic fun.

Strange Academy #4 is another fun issue of the series. It’s clear what the team is going for and what’s coming. The issue is the calm before the storm. That’s not a bad thing as the slow build has been a great way to introduce the characters and world. I care about these characters a bit more this way and it also hasn’t relied on shocks to keep us coming. Instead, much like the students with each other, we’re getting to know everyone and familiarize ourselves with the school. For those interested in kids attending a school for magicians, this is the one you should attend.

Story: Skottie Young Art: Humberto Ramos
Color: Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Strange Academy #3

Strange Academy #3

For those looking for alternatives to that other school for kid wizards, then look no further than Strange Academy. For three issues the series has introduced to this crazy world full of magic and a new generation of characters all of whom are full of energy and personality. It’s a fun, fresh series, and Strange Academy #3 continues every bit of that while setting up what’s to come.

Written by Skottie Young, the issue mainly has the students heading out into the French Quarter for some much needed fun. Of course things don’t go smoothly, though it’s not quite the over the top action one might expect. Young takes the issue in a much different route.

Strange Academy #3 is an interesting comic in that the premise could have easily had the students fighting “big bads” in a one-off issue but instead the stakes are fairly low. Instead, Young focuses on the students and their interactions. Yes, this is an issue that drops them in crap so that we can learn more about them and see them bond and interact in an environment that’s not the school. It’s all about the personalities and friendships here.

And Young nails the issue.

Every student featured feels like they get their moment, no matter how brief, that adds to the character and lets us know a little more about them. On top of all of that, the issue does some foreshadowing for what’s to come and sets up what’s clearly the first major bad for the series. It’s an issue that might feel like a throwaway in some ways but in reality it’s all about the setup and adding depth to make us know more about, and maybe care for, these characters.

Humberto Ramos‘ art with Edgar Delgado‘s colors is absolutely amazing as expected. Fantastic writing and fantastic art are the name of this series and the issue does not disappoint. Each character and moment is full of so much personality and energy as is Ramos’ style and the exaggerated nature of it all just adds to the youthful feel of the series. The lettering by Clayton Cowles is amazing as well. There’s some subtle things done depending who’s talking where the font style might change but unless you really pay attention you might not notice. It’s a small detail that adds so much to the series and characters.

Strange Academy #3 is another home run for the series and team. This is just a fun series with some great characters showing so much potential. It’s a series I look forward to with every release and a comic I can sit back and enjoy with a smile on my face. If you haven’t been reading it, you’ve been missing out.

Story: Skottie Young Art: Humberto Ramos
Color: Edgar Delgado Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Strange Academy #2

Strange Academy #2

It’s been quite some time since the debut of this series. Strange Academy #2 feels like no time has passed at all. It’s the first day of classes at Strange Academy. The issue hops around in a frenetic pace giving us the big picture of the school, students, and courses. We’re taken to numerous classes, introduced to the professors, and get to know the personalities of the students a bit more. We also get the first hints as to what the “big bad” will be.

Writer Skottie Young has a lot of fun with this second issue which can be picked up and enjoyed without needing to read the first. Young along with artist Humberto Ramos, deliver story pacing and a vibe that’s full of fun and energy. It’s a chaotic issue and you’ll either enjoy it or dislike it just for that. There doesn’t feel like enough time is spent in any one situation or on any one focus. But, you still feel like you get a lot of the issue as it gives us the quick tour of everything.

There are absolutely some aspects that get a bit more time on the page. Some of that is just to set up punchlines but it also helps move the characters along as well as they must deal with the situations at hand. There’s clearly some fun thought into each course and how they’re presented. That’s obvious by small jabs they make and so much is left for the reader’s imagination.

Ramos’ art is full of energy and that’s helped by the colors of Edgar Delgado and lettering of Clayton Cowles. The colors pop on the page with a bright aspect to them. Everything just looks exciting and fresh and full of energy in part due to the artistic choices. It’d be so easy to do a dour take on the same issue but as presented there’s a youthful energy about it all. There pages are full of mystical details that often tell the entire story of that particular segment. The issue relies heavily on the visual. Cowles’ lettering too is key as it often helps bring out the personality of the various characters as the lettering shifts between them.

Strange Academy #2 is a crazy paced issue where entire scenes and situations are left for a single page or a single panel gag. It’s a whirlwind tour of the school and what the kids will be dealing with. It also drops hints as to where things will be going. And it needed to be this way. An issue focusing more on any of the elements would have felt like it dragged on and given other aspects the short end of things. Instead, everyone gets their moments with a lot of humor thrown in. For as crazy as it is, it’s a great read and a welcome return of the series.

Story: Skottie Young Art: Humberto Ramos
Color: Edgar Delgado Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy


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Review: Strange Academy #1

Take the X-Men, mix it with Gotham Academy, and sprinkle it with Harry Potter and you’ve got Strange Academy #1… and that’s not a bad thing.

Story: Skottie Young
Art: Humberto Ramos
Color: Egar Delgado
Lettering: Clayton Cowles

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Review: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 7 A Rogue’s End

Doctor Aphra’s run has been solid but how will her journey end? Find out in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 7 A Rogue’s End which sees her plan finally come together. But, is it a happy ending for her?

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 7 A Rogue’s End collects #37-40, Annual #3, and material from Star Wars: Empire Ascendant #1.

Story: Simon Spurrier
Art: Caspar Wijngaard, Elsa Charretier
Color: Lee Loughridge, Edgar Delgado, Jim Campbell
Lettering: Joe Caramagna, Clayton Cowles

Get your copy in comic shops and bookstores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Incoming #1

Get a look as to what’s coming in 2020 with Incoming #1. Marvel teases what we can expect in the months to come in this end of the year oversized comic.

Story: Various
Art: Various
Color: Various
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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