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Preview: Savage Avengers #22

Savage Avengers #22

(W) Gerry Duggan (A) Patrick Zircher (CA) Valerio Giangiordano
Parental Advisory
In Shops: Jul 21, 2021
SRP: $3.99

Conan and Ghost Rider get to the bottom of Nightmare’s machinations and his werewolves’ origins…and Johnny Blaze isn’t the first Ghost Rider that Conan has encountered – he knew one back in Hyboria that rode around on a GIANT SPIDER. This chapter proves you can’t spell “flashback” without the “AAH!”

Savage Avengers #22

Review: X-Men #1

X-Men #1

Because it centers around a team of mutant heroes teaming up to beat up a giant villain, X-Men #1 could definitely be described as “meat and potato” superhero comics. But those meat and potatoes happen to be your older relative’s Sunday roast recipe. Plus it’s a damn superhero comic: fights are a staple of the genre, and Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz, and Marte Gracia turn in a good one that builds on the strengths of the different members of the Krakoan X-Men team and features visual flourishes like inset panels to show the scale of the monstrosity their fighting as well as different color palettes for different kind of energy discharges (Psychic etc.) This fight also ties into the current throughline of the X-Books that is basically the mutants are flexing their superiority over humanity whether that’s terraforming Mars or building a treehouse in Central Park as their new headquarters. This leads to jealousy and enemies as the main antagonist of X-Men is more like Elon Musk than a cannon fodder robot.

X-Men #1 flows nicely from Duggan and Larraz’s work on Planet-Sized X-Men #1 beginning with yet another large building project, the Treehouse and Seneca Village in Central Park. Seneca Village was home to free Black landowners in the 19th century before it was razed to make Central Park so this move shows Krakoa’s opposition to oppression and reinforces the Civil Rights themes that have been a part of X-Men comics for decades. Or it could just be a symbolic gesture like naming a street after Martin Luther King Jr., but doing nothing to fight systemic racism in a lasting way. With the way the Krakoans have treated folks like the Terra Verdeans, I think it’s the 2nd thing. It’s a drone strike presided over by a Black/South Asian woman, who also has a thing for putting trans women in men’s prisons.

However, for the most part, Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz portray the X-Men as classic heroes saving the day and using the abilities in such an efficient way that they did this day-saving before the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four arrive on the scene. (Duggan continues to write great dialogue for Ben Grimm in cameo appearances.) Even the usually arrogant Sunfire fits right in, and his solar fire powers the X-Mech that takes down the villain of the month. But, like a lot of the mutants’ actions during the Krakoa era of the X-Books, there’s something a little off about their actions, and investing billions of dollars in pharmaceutical money in Manhattan real estate is something a corporate baddie would do, not a team of heroes.

This critique of the X-Men comes from Ben Urich, who enjoys the vibe of Seneca Village and the Treehouse, but whose questions about the original death of Jumbo Carnation back in New X-Men are deflected by Cyclops. Cyclops also tells Jean Grey that he’s a little uncomfortable around the press. Urich’s dialogue and short data page article seems to show he has a positive view of the X-Men. However, the abruptness of Cyclops’ movements around him as well as Pepe Larraz using his glasses to hide Urich’s facial expressions show that maybe he doesn’t completely trust his new neighbors. Urich’s appearance in X-Men #1 grounds this new team in New York City almost as much as the Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Spider-Man cameos from afar and coupled with the confidence of the narrative captions as well Jean Grey and Cyclops’ dialogue shows that they’re ready to be the main superhero team in the city that’s the heart of the Marvel Universe.

From this review, you might think that the X-Men are more like X-Force in X-Men #1. This is actually the opposite of how Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz portray them in the majority of the comic. Although they’re caught unaware initially by their opponent, they are a smooth, adaptive fighting team. Duggan and Larraz establish Synch as the team’s glue and ideas man even before the battle as he uses Forge’s abilities to tinker around the Treehouse before turning his talents towards the X-Mech. I like how Pepe Larraz doesn’t show the X-Mech in a splash page, but also spends the page before showing the team using their powers in, well, sync to build something to stop the baddie. He can do busy multi-panel pages as well as more wide screen work like Rogue flies into the heat of battle as the X-Men’s tank, and Gracia is there to give each panel a distinct mood like colder colors for the psychically affected bystanders while the X-Men put together a plan. Larraz’s work screams big, damn superhero book, and he has fun with some the science fiction elements towards the end of the book.

On the tin, X-Men #1 is a team of badass mutants saving New York City from a creepy alien being with blockbuster visuals from Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, who make the Treehouse as gorgeous and utopian as the team’s opponent is dark and cold. But Gerry Duggan still nudges at the cracks of the Krakoan experiment through remarks by side characters, data pages, and in time-honored genre tradition, the issue’s Big Bad, who is definitely a billionaire I would want to stay stuck in space. It has loads of action and few thought-provoking ideas and is overall just a lot of fun. I mean, in addition to the X-Mech and Cyclops geeking out way too much over the treehouse, there’s space Vegas that use black holes to simulate the “always day” casino feel plus Larraz nails Wolverine aka Laura Kinney’s physicality throughout the issue.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Marte Gracia Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: X-Men #1

X-Men #1

(W) Gerry Duggan (A/CA) Pepe Larraz
Rated T+
In Shops: Jul 07, 2021
SRP: $4.99

The heroes of Krakoa are here to save the planet! Things might be complicated between the nation of Krakoa and the rest of the world, but to the X-MEN, things are simple – you do what’s right, you protect those who need protecting and you save the world we all share. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Sunfire, Rogue, Wolverine, Synch and Polaris are the chosen champions of mutantkind, and they will not shrink from any battle for their home planet. Writer Gerry Duggan (MARAUDERS, DEADPOOL, UNCANNY AVENGERS) reteams with superstar artist Pepe Larraz (HOUSE OF X, X OF SWORDS, UNCANNY AVENGERS) to chart the course of the X-Men in a world of the Reign of X!

X-Men #1

Review: Planet-Size X-Men #1

Planet Size X-Men

With the Hellfire Gala underway, Planet-Size X-Men hinted at something big coming from the world of X-Men. In a relaunch that has been constantly big ideas, the question remained exactly how big? The hints have been building for some time as to where the X-Men’s future lies and it’s to the stars.

Planet-Size X-Men is ambitious and full of spectacle. It’s visually impressive and the steps it goes through as far as what’s done delivers a believable aspect to it all. Gerry Duggan delivers a comic that ups the stakes and feels like it sets the next chapter for the X-Universe. It also ups the tension between Krakoa and the rest of Earth.

Planet-Size X-Men is a comic that had a lot of hype going into it and it really hits that level and delivers. It’s hard to go into it without spoiling the story and this is one you don’t want spoiled. It makes X-series like S.W.O.R.D. much more important and you can see where the vision for the X-line is going. This issue takes things to the next level and it’s hard to say how exactly. But, this has some massive implications and there’s some hints at those.

The art by Pepe Larraz is impressive. With color by Marte Gracia, lettering by Clayton Cowles and design by Tom Muller, the comic looks great. There’s a grand epic feel about the comic. That’s not just in the story it attempts to tell but the visuals it delivers. This is a summer blockbuster in comic form. Each page is massive and you imagine everything that goes with the visuals. You can hear the noise. You can feel the explosions. There’s the grumbling of the ground and volcanic explosions. Get your popcorn and enjoy.

Planet-Size X-Men takes things to the next level. It’s an epic story that has huge implications for the future of the Marvel universe. It also in ways celebrates the past with numerous references to the history of the X-Men. If you thought House of X/Powers of X changed the status quo, this is up there on that level. This is one no X-fan should miss out on and shows the god-like power of the X-Men.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Pepe Larraz
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.45 Art: 9.4 Overall: 8.55 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Captain America Annual #1

Captain America Annual #1

(W) Gerry Duggan, Jed MacKay (A) Marco Castiello (CA) Alex Garner
Rated T+
In Shops: Jun 16, 2021
SRP: $4.99

CAPTAIN AMERICA VERSUS OVERTIME! The fugitive known as Overtime broke out of death row when the time stone chose to bond with his soul, giving him powers he barely understood. Now, thanks to Captain America… his time is up. ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Part 2 (of 8) of “Super-Spy vs. Super-Spy”!

Captain America Annual #1

The X-Men #1 Trailer Has Them Standing Fearless Against Incredible Enemies

Mutantkind has chosen its new champions! Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Polaris, Sunfire, Rogue, Synch, and Wolverine will serve as the first X-Men team since Jonathan Hickman transformed the franchise in House of X and Powers of X. The superhero squad’s fearless adventures will be told in the pages of X-Men, the new flagship X-title debuting on July 7th.  Brought to you by a team of X-Men all-stars—writer Gerry Duggan, artist Pepe Larraz, and colorist Marte Gracia—the series will continue to evolve mutant storytelling with high-stakes heroics, deadly new threats, and fascinating new developments for mutantkind.

Once again protecting a world that has hated and feared them their whole life, original X-Men Cyclops and Marvel Girl have rejected the notion that mutantkind is only out for itself and brought back the world’s premier team of mutant superheroes. Things might be complicated between the new mutant homeland of Krakoa and the rest of the Marvel Universe, but to the X-Men, things are simple—you do what’s right, you protect those who need protecting and you save the world we all share. See this new team battle to protect all people of their home planet in the X-Men #1 Trailer, featuring never-before-seen artwork from the debut issue!

Be there for the start of a new mutant era when X-Men #1 hits stand on July 7th!

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

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

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