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Review: X-Men #2

X-Men #2 cover

X-Men #2 is an interesting comic in that it feels like it’s both a continuation of what writer Jonathan Hickman has laid out and ignoring it at the same time. Charles Xavier is dead, having been assassinated in X-Force #1. So, while security is of importance this issue doesn’t feel all that different than usual. A mysterious island as emerged and Krakoa is being drawn to it. Is it an issue? Is it a threat? Cyclops takes his son Cable and daughter Prestige to investigate and see.

Hickman gives us an odd issue. The characters feel a bit off and there’s not much reflection on the death of Xavier. Instead, the focus is on the trio exploring the new island. And that feels… weird. There’s a lot of “son” and “dad” thrown around. The awkwardness of this trio just isn’t there. It feels like rather playful banter and relationship that’s rather healthy and not the muddled mess we’ve known. It could be that in this timeline this is the new standard but like so much of what Hickman has written the characterizations feel off. None if it is bad, it’s just different.

Leinil Francis Yu‘s art is solid and the quality that’s expected. Joined by Gerry Alanguilan on ink, Sunny Gho on color, and Clayton Cowles lettering, the art looks sharp. It’s a case where the art exceeds the story. The characters are solid and there’s some interesting designs and detail on the what’s presented.

The comic isn’t bad. There’s some solid humor. It also continues a concept Hickman began in House of X. What the comic feels like is a continued set up. Much like the first issue X-Men #2 is attempting to lay the groundwork for what’s to come. And those final pages makes what’s to come intriguing. First by what’s revealed and second by what’s said. Sadly, a comic isn’t made by its final pages and the lead up is awkward and head scratching. X-Men #2 has its moments but that’s not quite enough.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-Men (2019) #1

House of X and Powers of X are over and Dawn of X has begun. X-Men #1 continues the “bold new” era for the X-Universe in the first ongoing series to spin out of the status-quo rattling miniseries.

Story: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Leinal Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan
Color: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller

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.


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

Messages from Midgard #5: Cyclops Was Right

Halfway through the “War of the Realms“, and it looks like this is gonna be an event where the tie-ins were more memorable than the core story. War of the Realms #3 dropped this week, and it’s a treat to see Russell Dauterman draw, basically, the entire Marvel Universe including the Fantastic Four and Captain America’s cute little snow jacket for adventuring in Jotunheim. But, it’s just trailers for better, more interesting comics like Bryan Hill and Leinil Yu’s very longwindedly named War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1 and Champions #5 where Jim Zub and Juanan Ramirez once and for all prove that, indeed, Cyclops was right. (But Ramirez’s trolls look like Skrulls, oops.)

War of the Realms #3

After two straight issues of various Marvel superheroes fighting various fantasy creatures, we get yet another issue of Marvel superheroes fighting various fantasy creatures. Sights that Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson subject us to include Daredevil tripping balls and flirting with being an agnostic while having the power of the god of fear, Luke Cage riding a flying horse, Punisher wanting to blow up Ghost Rider’s car, and of course, Thor covered in blue Frost Giant blood. And there are jokes; so many jokes. However, with the exception of the Thor becoming a berserker part and a Venom plot point, the comic feels like a trailer for other comics, namely, the Strikeforce series of one-shots.

Jason Aaron did a fantastic job writing Daredevil in War Scrolls #1, and I was excited to see how he set up the Man without Fear’s transformation. Boy, was I disappointed. Heimdall makes a quip about about creeping on Daredevil while he was on Earth, there’s another joke about Catholicism, and then Daredevil is the God of Fear and defender of the BiFrost. The page where he gains godhood is very trippy with a Dippin’ Dots color palette from Wilson though even if his role is basically Asgardian Scotty from Star Trek until the BiFrost has to be destroyed for plot reasons.

This past weekend, Avengers Endgame showed that spectacular action could be combined with both continuity fun and character arcs. However, War of the Realms #3 is mostly just the spectacular action part with Aaron and Dauterman just moving pieces on the board. Sure, the comic looks cool, and there are some actually funny jokes (Spider-Man’s line about fighting with a shield). But it’s all fights and no substance or emotional tether even with Freya, who is written much better in the Dark Elf Realm one-shot. I also have some little quibbles with it like Captain America and Spider-Man being cool with animal cruelty, and Aaron’s portrayal of Venom not fitting in with Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello’s story for him. War of the Realms #3 is just a skeleton to be filled in with “meat” from its tie-ins so it gets the Overall Verdict of Pass.

War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1

I thought this was going to be yet another Punisher fights Elves shoot ’em up fest. I was happy to be proven wrong as Bryan Hill proves the old Brian Bendis saying that conversations can be fight scenes, and Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Matt Hollingsworth bring grit and shadow to the art of War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1. Basically, this shows how Freyja recruited Punisher, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Blade to destroy and then defend the Black Bifrost adding context, depth, and resolution to the fight in War of the Realms #3. Along the way, Hill and Yu create some parallels between these heroes (and one not quite hero) and the Black Bifrost itself as they and Freyja embrace their shadow selves to get the job done.

In the space of a single one-shot, Bryan Hill, Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Matt Hollingsworth create some fantastic chemistry between the Punisher and Freyja. Freyja is afraid that she has to dip into the dark, sorcerous side of herself to defeat Malekith so she enlists a man who has been consumed by darkness and revenge to help her. Yu goes very stylized with Frank’s first appearance and in other scenes shrouding him in shadow as he has come to terms that he’s a monster fighting monsters.

This insight extends to the characterization of Jennifer Walters, Ghost Rider, and Blade as they fight their worst fears in powerful one page sequences that involves Jen punching Bruce’s Hulk in the heart, Ghost Rider headbutting Johnny Blaze while he tries to do a Penance Stare, and Blade fighting his older self, a vampire king. Yu uses close ups to give each final blow maximum effect and establishes that even though three of these characters are Avengers, they’re not afraid to act like a black ops team on this mission. But maybe Freyja isn’t ready, which is Frank comes in and talks about how they’re at war and must do everything to get victory.

Bryan Hill makes multiple cases for why he should take over a Punisher or Blade ongoing comic, or even a dark series set in Asgard as that realm (As shown in Aaron and Fraction’s Thor work and the Thor Ragnarok film.) was built on violence and war. He, Yu, Alanguilan, and Hollingsworth serve up dark, fascinating visions of characters (Except for Freyja.)who have been treated like jokes or action figures in the core War of the Realms series so Dark Elf Realm #1 earns an overall verdict of Buy.

Champions #5

Jim Zub and Juanan Ramirez finally give Cyclops the respect he deserves in Champions #5 where he takes a break from the X-Men to defend New York with his younger self’s old superhero team, the Champions. Along the way, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan deal with the guilt of letting someone die on his watch and seeing friends and teammates drift away respectively. It’s an issue that is part introspective and part cartoon-y art from Ramirez as Cyclops and Kamala showcase their tactical skills and fight trolls of the non-Internet variety.

Through Kamala’s narration and with the help of Ramirez’s kinetic fight choreography and confident poses, Jim Zub shows that Cyclops isn’t just a stoic stiff or mutant terrorist, but a great leader, who is cool under pressure. Also, with the tension of the Champions and their shifting and expanding lineup, Kamala needed a hug and a reassurance from an old friend. Zub and Ramirez also use the return of Cyclops to have him interact with Dust, who decided to not rejoin the X-Men because their predilection for violence wasn’t in line with her Islamic beliefs. For example, after a badass sequence where she uses her sand manipulation powers to choke out some trolls, Dust prays and tries to come to grips if her violent actions were necessary for the situation. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that this lineup of the Champions is the first time that two Muslim women have been on a superhero team.

Under Jim Zub’s shepherding, the Champions series has been a template for a modern team of young superheroes with its diverse lineup of characters, social conscience, fun team-up action, and plots that come out of the team’s interpersonal relationships. Yeah, the series is a bit soapy at times, but Champions #5 ably juggles a big lineup of characters while getting in the action beats and doing some soul searching with Miles and Kamala. On top of that, Zub’s work on Avengers No Surrender and No Road Home has served him well in using big events and continuity to tell compelling stories like understanding that the X-Men are in New York at the same time as the Champions and using it to put a little respect on Cyclops’ name. For that, Champions #5 easily gets an Overall Verdict of Buy.

Unless Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman make some second half adjustments, War of the Realms might go down as that event where different Marvel superheroes had cool fantasy inflected designed and had some big battles, but it was mostly empty calories of story. Aaron does hit on some small beats like Jane Foster growing into her role of All-Mother and leading the Asgardians into battle despite having no powers and Thor’s violence addiction. The event has also been an okay frame for more perceptive intriguing stories featuring characters Freyja, Frank Castle, Kamala Khan, Blade, Dust, and surprise surprise, Cyclops!

Panel of the Week

Nothing more refreshing than Cyclops leading a team of superheroes into battle. Plus I love how Juanan Ramirez draws his classic costume. From Champions #5, Art by Ramirez and Marco Menyz.

Review: Captain America Vol. 1 Winter in America

The Secret Empire is over and Captain America must move on with his life and deal with a nation that doesn’t trust him and those that think he, and America, left them behind.

Captain America Vol. 1 Winter in America collects issues #1-6 and Free Comic Book Day 2018 (Avengers/Captain America) #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Joe Caramagna, and Cory Petit.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores on March 5! 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.


Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies 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

Exclusive Preview: Captain America #5

Captain America #5

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan with Leinil Francis Yu
Color: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Alex Ross
Variant Cover: Elizabeth Torque
Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao
Associate Editor: Alanna Smith
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 14, 2018
SRP: $3.99

As the noose of betrayal tightens around the necks of Captain America and his closest allies, the Power Elite makes its move – in the person of the immortal Selene!

Review: Captain America #4

With Sharon missing, Cap must single-handedly invade the stronghold of his enemies! But even if he makes it through, what’s waiting for him is a hundred times more formidable: Taskmaster!

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has been delivering a run on Captain America that feels as much as a conversation about the state of America as it is Captain America.

Captain America #4 continues “Winter in America” with Cap attempting to save Sharon Carter. While the issue could easily just be one big fight scene, and it really is, Coates uses it to explore the reality of it all. Through the punching Cap reflects on where things stand including the apparent betrayal by Thunderbolt Ross. He laments that individuals who have in the past wrapped themselves in the flag.

We can take this on face value and Cap is just talking about those he’s been battling in these issues but it’s hard to not pull back and think how much this applies to our real world. Through Captain America, Coates feels like he’s making a statement on current American politics and the willingness for a certain party to so easily turn their backs on the ideals they’ve wrapped themselves in for decades.

The art by Leinil Francis Yu is fantastic as expected. Joined by Gerry Alanguilan on ink, Sunny Gho on color, and Joe Caramagna on lettering, the art is beautiful to look at. The issue has a lot of action and a battle between Cap and Taskmaster stands out. Some of the details, especially showing the pain of the battle, are solid. The small touches add a lot to it all. And the mix of such action with Coates’ more introspective thoughts by Steve are an interesting combination.

The issue is another excellent entry from the team and Cap has been one that’s a mix of action and exploration of today’s America and the situations we face. It’s a superhero comic that makes you think and is a prime example that you can easily mix politics with superhero comics.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Sunny Gho Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a Free copy for review

Review: Captain America #3

Cap and the Black Panther embark on a daring raid into the heart of the Nuke army, while Sharon Carter takes on a secret mission into danger!

There’s a brilliance in Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ run on Captain America that can be summed up in just one panel in Captain America #3. The issue has Cap heading the “middle America,” a town that was left behind before Hydra. When Hydra took over America, they brought back work, they improved the schools, they brought healthcare with them. These people, are those “left behind” in Marvel’s world reflecting the very real sense of the same in our real world.

Coates doesn’t go for the easy path of labeling them racist, or saying their racist in their association and acceptance of Hydra. Instead, Coates uses the situation to explore American ideals and how these individuals have abandoned them but at the same time they’ve been abandoned as well. These individuals feel they were made a promise in America’s excellence something they haven’t seen, something they lost. And, they were, are, willing to abandon their countrymen to again feel that.

It’s that promise that’s fascinating and Coates with one panel, the one above. “Morning in America” refers to the award winning campaign ad run by Ronald Reagan in 1984 which featured Americans going to work with a calm, optimistic narration. It suggested any improvement to the United States was due to Reagans policies enacted in 1980. The slogan is a metaphor for renewal. Nevermind America had to give up so much for those policies that led to genocide at home (AIDS crisis), an economy that left average Americans behind, and illegal wars throughout. We gave up many of our ideals, Americans helping each other, for Reagan and the Republican promise of “individualism.”

In one panel, Coates sums up the themes and ideas he’s exploring throughout this initial arc. He also shows that Captain America remains a politically centered character and series.

And even with that, Coates still manages to get some fight scenes in that reminds us, it’s still an action comic. It’s possible to mix the political with the entertaining. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds. And it can work and work really well.

Leinil Francis Yu’s art, with ink from Gerry Alanguilan and color by Sunny Gho, is fantastic as expected. There’s a weariness about it all and you can feel the weight and tiredness, the hope and loss, on the shoulders of every character. Yu is able to balance a quiet moment in a bar with an action scene in an evil group’s lair. There’s main street America and underneath an insidiousness of it all. All delivered through the art and tiny details.

The issue, the series so far, is utterly brilliant. It questions where we are as a nation. It questions what it is Captain America is standing up for. It makes us think and debate what America truly is. It also reminds us that we too easily trade our ideals for security and have on too many occasions abandoned those who live in the United States.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Sunny Gho Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Captain America #1 Mixes Ripped from the Headlines Relevance with Old School Marvel Action

On 4th of July aka Captain America’s birthday, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu began a new era for Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Sharon Carter in Captain America #1.  There’s a lot of plates to spin in Coates’ opening storyline from Russia-based vampires interfering in American politics to Cap trying to balance being an inspirational figure while being confronted by a horde of men dressed like Nuke and his relationship with Bucky, Sharon, and the flag on his shield and chest. However, the comic keeps from being overwhelmed by these things by leaning on action with gritty work from Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. The clean art and lantern jaws of Chris Samnee’s run are replaced by pained face, sharp edges, and a muted, shadow filled and it fits a story where Thunderbolt Ross (Who is still a buzzkill). There’s even a well-placed use of a nine panel grid, which I hear is all the rage these days and kudos to Coates and Yu for using for a difficult interpersonal scene between Steve and Sharon and not just a knife fight or something. (Not that there’s anything wrong with knife fights.)

Probably, the boldest decision that Ta-Nehisi Coates makes in Captain America #1 is facing Secret Empire head on and having Steve still fighting to clear his name while also re-casting that whole debacle of an event in the real world light of the election of Donald Trump, Russian tampering of that election, and the increased boldness and acceptance of fascists and white supremacists, who have been here all along. The United States didn’t fight a war against Russia or an army of fascists and lose: they lost at the ballot box and have been losing since 1492, 1607, or 1619 when the first African slaves were transported to Jamestown. Coates and Leinil Yu deal with these real world issues and complicated nature of patriotic iconography through an icon himself: Captain America and explores how problematic he has become in-universe like when Thaddeus Ross benches him for a mission to see who is behind the opening attack of New York City. But somehow guys like Baron Strucker are okay because they helped lead the resistance against HYDRA.

Steve’s struggles with his iconography being co-opted first by HYDRA Cap and then in this issue, by the Nuke wannabes attacking Washington DC, is the emotional heart of Captain America #1. Yu and Gerry Alanguilan give readers plenty of prototypical Captain America shots like throwing his shield into battle, using the shield to protect an injured dad and his son, and then Coates gets to write a great Cap speech. But, then, the narration undermines these moments as Cap wonders what to say to a woman who has lost her daughters and looks around at the collateral damage surrounding the National Mall. And, after the battle, he is immediately undermined by Ross because “appearances matter” and the cloak and dagger spy and assassin skills of Bucky and Sharon are more useful than a guy running around in an American flag costume. A symbol is useful to any resistance, but not a tarnished one, and Yu eschews the heroic poses for middle distance disappointed faces.

But Captain America #1 isn’t all about Steve and his feeble attempts at restoring his legacy. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu using the opening and closing moments of the comics to set up a compelling villain: Selena, a millennia old mutant with “psychic vampire” abilities. She both uses her powers and a mysterious protege, Alexa, to take down HYDRA cells in Russia and to also influence the American government as the head of Faith Based Initiatives in a blink or miss TV screen cameo. In Captain America #1’s cold open, Selena and Alexa prove to be a formidable threat to a group of HYDRA soldiers with plenty of pyrotechnics and snow from Yu, Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Coates doesn’t go the secret villain cliche route and immediately introduces the threat while promising to unpack her connection to the U.S. government and finding some way for Steve to confront her in subsequent issues. Having a powerful Russian force interfere with the American government is compelling in light of current events, but that having that threat be a New Mutants villain with vampire-like abilities is a very Marvel way to go about it.

Playing off the classic Captain America quote from Frank Miler and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again “I’m loyal to nothing except the dream”, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu unpack the role of Cap as an icon and hero in Captain America #1 while kicking off an action conspiracy storyline that is like our current reality, but draped in Marvel Comics lore.  There is a questioning aspect to this story as Steve, Bucky, and Sharon are consumed with doubt and separated by their new roles in this ever shifting new status quo. Also, it’s kind of sad that the weapon that Steve uses to finally take down the Nukes could also incapacitate his best friend.

Captain America #1 is thrilling, thought provoking stuff and hasn’t been this meaty and compelling since Ed Brubaker’s run on the title.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Pencils: Leinil Yu Inks: Gerry Alanguilan
Colors: Sunny Gho Letters: Joe Caramagna 
Story: 9.2 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the return of Jean Grey!

Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey collects issues #1-5 by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Joe Bennett, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Ramon Rosanas, Belardino Brabo, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Travis Lanham, Sunny Gho, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Marte Gracia, Nolan Woodard, Christina Harrington, Chris Robinson, Darren Shan, and Mark Paniccia.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores May 1. 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 or TFW or TFW



Marvel​ provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies 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: Phoenix Resurrection #1

Phoenix Resurrection #1She will return, like a Phoenix from the ashes. Years ago, Jean Grey died and the X-Men mourned her. Since then, the world has changed, her teammates have lived without her and died without her. And now, when strange events start happening all over the world, those teammates can only come to one conclusion – the one true Jean Grey is back!

The build up has been going on for a while now and with Phoenix Resurrection #1 we get the first taste of the how. Written by Matthew Rosenberg, Phoenix Resurrection is a fascinating first issue that’s a lot of mystery. The X-Men are scattered around the world to study phenomena with three teams doing the work. Something is going on with what seems like the dead coming back, but not everything is as it seems.

Rosenberg delivers a solid set up in an opening chapter that feels exactly that. We don’t get explanations, nor should we. Instead, things are teased out at a good pace as everyone attempts to figure out what’s going on. There is so minor issues with a briefing room scene going on a bit too long, but we get a lot packed into the first issue. Rosenberg does a solid job of mixing in a lot of characters and each gets a little bit of a moment. But, not a lot is explained who they are. So, as an intro for new readers, this doesn’t work. For long time X-Men fans,  Phoenix Resurrection #1 should get you excited.

Leinil Francis Yu‘s art is fantastic. This isn’t too surprising as Yu is one of Marvel’s best artists. Gerry Alanguilan handles the inks and Rachelle Rosenberg is on colors. All three together create a fantastic visual treat as we’re taken all around the world. Though they’re each very unique locations, each feels like they all fit together and each X-Man looks fantastic, each with their own looks. VC’s Travis Lanham handles the lettering which rounds out the visuals and with a lot of dialogue at parts, lettering is key.

The first issue is a good one. It sets up the mystery well, gives us some action, and has me wanting to see what’s next. I was skeptical going into this but now I’m excited to see where it all goes. When it comes to first issues, you can’t ask for much more.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Rachelle Rosenberg Letters: Travis Lanham

Story: 8.35 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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