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Review: Inferno #4

Inferno #4

I’ve generally been mixed about the current status-quo and direction of the X-line. To me, they’re no longer the heroes I once knew, sharing far too many characteristics with the villains they once battled. The line took a nationalist bent that felt the antithesis of what the X-Men represented. Then, there’s the issue with Moira MacTaggert. Revealed to be a mutant, each time she died she reset the timeline but retained her memories. This created an “out” in some ways that coupled with that ability to resurrect dead mutants, took away any danger and “stakes” in the battle. Inferno #4 wraps up Jonathan Hickman‘s vision for the line creating an interesting break and a new status-quo for those taking over the guidance of the various series.

Hickman is a very talented writer. His concepts are some of the best out there. But, while his series often start off strong, they tend to go on a bit too long and then peter out towards the end. He doesn’t stick the landing as much as I’d like making reading his runs feel like a let down. But, the concepts are amazing. Just like he’s done with the X-Men. Inferno #4 wraps up that run with Moira being confronted by Mystique and Destiny and Professor X and Magneto facing Nimrod and Omega Sentinel.

Hickman delivers and sticks the landing this time.

Inferno #4 takes the series and characters in some unsuspecting directions and fixes some of the issue I had with the line as a whole. It also sets up major villains for years to come along with political machinations on Krakoa that’ll reverberate for years as well. In other words, what’s past is prologue. This current “volume” now feels much more like the building blocks for what’s to come as opposed to an established status-quo. Yes, obviously things change, but things have been building now for some time and this is the end result. One chapter ends and a new chapter begins building off of what has come before.

The art by Valerio Schiti and Stefano Caselli is solid. There’s a mix of action, drama, and a lot of tension. Moments feel desperate and others will have you holding your breathe. The duo are joined by David Curiel on color, letterer Joe Sabino, and Tom Muller‘s design. The comic looks fantastic with an ominous feel throughout that leaves you wondering where it’s all going and how far things will be taken. In a series where anyone can die and come back, who would it be willing to kill? Despite the inevitability of returns, there’s still emotion shown in death and while rebirth should be joyous, the art nails the shift in where things stand.

Inferno #4 is a fitting end to Hickman’s run. It ends his take and direction for the X line and hands it off to new creators allowing them to plant their own flags while not totally being shackled by his rules. He’s opened the sandbox a little further to allow others to create. By shaking things up himself, it also doesn’t feel like others are undoing what he has envisioned, it’s his choice in some ways. It’s a diplomatic ending that’s befitting delivering an almost meta finale.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli
Color: David Curiel Letterer: Joe Sabino Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1

X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1

I’ve been generally down on the X books since the Hickman relaunch. Gone were the stories of individuals who, despite hatred by so many, stood up to be heroes. They were flawed. They dealt with adversity and hate. And, they often sacrificed themselves to triumph (only to come back later). The new direction for the X-Men was one of nationalism, where death was overcome, and in that, any tension. Where was the excitement when you could throw in your heavy hitters, watch them die, then just bring them back in a religious fervor. These weren’t heroes fighting for equality, these were incredibly powerful individuals who saw themselves as something more, often saying they looked down on humanity. In their cheating of death, they lost their souls and became corrupted. X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 explores that corruption as Nightcrawler continues his search for a mutant “way”.

Written by Si Spurrier, X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 is a continuation of Way of X. Nightcrawler is front and center as so many pieces of the puzzle laid out since the reboot come together. It takes what feels like it should have been an “event” and compacts it to a one-shot comic. That’s impressive in many ways but also creates a read that feels a bit rushed and whose reveals never quite deliver a punch.

Onslaught has corrupted Krakoa and its various processes, building its power and growing. Nightcrawler has gathered a team to stop it and while doing so, also come up with a vision for mutantkind. This isn’t one of supremacy, it’s one of improvement and defense. Nightcrawler has attempted to bring the X-books back to their roots, planting their foot in the side of equality and positivity.

X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 in many ways feels like a repudiation of the X-books of late. It takes on the nationalism and religious fervor that has permeated the reboot. It squarely challenges the “death cult” attitude the series has taken. It admits that the X-Men have lost their “soul”. It’s an interesting build up and for those who felt something was “off” in the reboot, these last few months have played out that we were correct. There was something insidious at the root of it all. But, the shift has begun to return the X-Men to fight for everyone and do what’s right for all, not just their nation.

What’s really interesting about X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 is how much it adds to Fabian Cortez who plays a key role. He’s a character who you could tell there was plans for since his return but always was the sad trombone. This issue puts him front and center in many ways and creates depth for the character that was missing. What was a spoiled rich brat has some pathos we can empathize with and understand his views and actions.

The art by Bob Quinn is interesting. There’s some truly amazing panels and pages are mixed with some just less so. Character designs which should inspire and be jaw-dropping feel like let downs. It’s an issue full of ups and downs visually and never quite hits the reader like it should. Java Tartaglia provides the color with lettering by Clayton Cowles and overall, the colors pop, the lettering adds an ominous feel, but the pencils and page layouts themselves never totally click. Scenes of what should feel like near carnality breaking out feels like a rave in Zion. The tension is built but never quite visually gets there. The designs within Legion’s mind are great but are never memorable.

X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 is the end of one chapter setting up the next. There’s some interesting concepts within and a meta take on the X-books up to this point. It charts a new series to come hinting at a potentially fun team throwing up a lot of question. It most importantly feels like a “you were right” for all who felt something was off about the current X-Men and direction.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Bob Quinn
Color: Java Tartaglia Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

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Review: X-Men: Trial of Magneto #2

X-Men: Trial of Magneto #2

I was a bit mixed on X-Men: Trial of Magneto #2. The issue was full of emotion and action but it played it’s hand a bit too much making it clear that the death of the Scarlet Witch wasn’t as clear cut as the “shocking” reveal. In a country where almost everyone has mutant powers, why would it be? The second issue continues to reveal its hand a bit too much with another issue full of conflict that makes it clear there’s some heavy manipulation going on.

Written by Leah Williams, X-Men: Trial of Magneto #2 has some really solid moments. It lays out and makes clear that Krakoa and the mutant nation aren’t “heroes”, they’re doing some downright evil. It’s been an interesting theme since this new direction for the X-Men began as they took their nationalist stance. Williams opens up the issue with a debate as to what to do about Magneto. In a nation where the truth could potentially be pulled out of someone’s mind against their will, what are the ethics surrounding that. Xavier and Hope debate the topic with the use of the word “torture” thrown about. Xavier, as he has since the relaunch, shows some ethical issues regarding the issue continuing the dark path the character began a long time ago. It’s the most interesting aspect of the comic which spends far too little time exploring the ethical dilemma.

Most of the time is spent with the Avengers who have traveled to Krakoa to retrieve the body of their murdered teammate. This again throws the X-Men in a weird spot as talk of state secrets are thrown about during the tour of the island. Again, unethical directions are debated as to what to do to protect those secrets and how far the X-Men should go to protect them. It’s an interesting contrast to that opening and again we see some glimpses of the political direction the X-Men have gone since their relaunch. But, all of that is put to the side as a battle breaks out, one that has a classic feel to it all. But, that battles tips the hat too much that there’s greater forces at work here.

A lot of the characters feel a bit… “off”. Magneto feels like a caricature of this classic self. Iron Man also feels like an extreme caricature of himself. Captain America is almost too stiff in his dealings with the X-Men. It’s all a bit choppy in some ways that makes the reader tilt their head in confusion.

The art by Lucas Werneck is good. There’s some really good action and some scenes look great. With color by Edgar Delagado and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the comic looks good. Where it hits bumps are some of the close-ups of the characters where they don’t quite look like heroes and then some visuals far away feel a bit more comedic than anything. For such a “serious” tour there’s an odd aspect to the visuals at times.

While I’m not completely sold on X-Men: Trial of Magneto #2, the issue has some intriguing moments. This feels like a miniseries where the whole will be stronger than the individual parts. There’s some odd characterizations that might be explained by the mystery going on but we’ll have to wait and see. Overall, it’s a story that needs to be told and some truths that need to be said and shown.

Story: Leah Williams Art: Lucas Werneck
Color: Edgar Delgado Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

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Review: Wolverine #15

Wolverine #15

It’s been a while since I checked up on Wolverine’s solo adventures and for sure, I checked out long before Jonathan Hickman revamped the X-line in spectacular fashion. I’m glad I did because Wolverine #15 had a few nice surprises that kept me interested.

The pirate lord Sevyr Blackmore tells the tale of when he met Solem, a mutant with adamantium skin. Sevyr captured him when Solem was a kid but found he couldn’t kill him and couldn’t keep him held captive because he escaped everything. Instead, he took him under his wing and taught him the life of a pirate and in these kinds of tales, the student soon becomes the teacher and Solem turns out to be very, very good at what he’s learned. After all has been said, Wolverine and Sevyr go at it, with the winner to continue on the trail of Solem.

I got drawn into this issue of Wolverine pretty easy, despite my own shortcomings with not knowing much of who the cast was. I can confirm Sevyr’s tale works well for someone new to Wolverine. I like Ben Percy’s work, notably his work on Year Zero for AWA Studios. I think it would be hard to write villains for Wolverine. He heals and can cut anything in his path. Sevyr’s acidic blood mixed with having the foresight to install a magnetic floor to keep Logan in one spot seemed like a winning formula to me. And having Solem be a step or two ahead of Logan is a nice touch.

I was not expecting to be impressed with the art of Adam Kubert in 2021 or to have him throw out visuals that keep his work looking so fresh. I mean, I like his art and all but what I saw in the pages of Wolverine really stood out to me. I could gush all over this issue. While I’m sure Percy’s script is tight, Adam Kubert really knows how to make the story flow from panel to panel. I thought the colors by Frank Martin looked a tiny bit odd paired with Kubert’s art but I was sold after a few pages.

Could it be better? Sure. Everything can be better. I’m not much of a fan of Wolverine because he used to just pop up everywhere and mess up the place. Characters like Wolverine tend to feel a bit stale to me and I can honestly say I haven’t picked up his solo book in years. However, I was really enjoying what I read from Wolverine #15, so it’s definitely possible to put some good shine on something that for me was dull. Enough so that I want to see where this tale is going to go. Sevyr and Solem seem interesting enough as foils to Logan. This is definitely a book to read but it wouldn’t hurt to buy it since there was enough thought to make it feel like the story went somewhere and delivered on some good action.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Adam Kubert
Color: Frank Martin Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0

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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

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Review: X-Corp #1

X-Corp #1

One of my favorite comic runs is Wildcats 3.0. The series took the familiar characters and put them at the head of a corporation. Their goal is to expand technology that will benefit society and puts them in conflict with the rich and powerful, most notably Big Oil. The current direction of the X-Men feels like it takes a lot from that with X-Corp #1 bringing it all to the forefront. While it’s an interesting addition to the X-line of comics, the debut also falls a bit short due to that previous series.

Lead by Monet St. Croix and Warren Worthington III, X-Corp is the corporate arm of Krakoa. While some might battle it out physically, X-Corp seems to be more about battling it out in the boardroom and stock market. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some razzle-dazzle. X-Corp #1 keeps a focus on the team being built up while dealing with threats from those who feel like they’ve been burned by Xavier and Krakoa. The debut hints at the conflict to come.

But there’s some silliness too. The issue focuses on the debut of this new “team” but also X-Corp’s headquarters. It’s a sequence that feels a little over the top, even for comics. For a new nation so focused on diplomacy and standing in the world, the actions of St. Croix and Worthington feel like they’d really result in sanctions and distrust more than anything else. There’s an arrogance about it all that is hopefully explored and not pushed to the side.

Where the issue really shines is in its leads of Monet St. Croix and Warren Worthington III. The two have some aspects in common with Monet struggling with her Penance persona and Worthington still haunted by Archangel. The issue sees both having to deal with that in their own ways, though one more so than the other. This is where the series could really get interesting as their approach feels completely different to a similar situation.

The art by Alberto Foche is good. With color by Sunny Gho, lettering by Clayton Cowles, and design by Tom Muller everything looks good. There’s not a lot of flash until late in the comic. Where it could easily give some very interesting visuals and page layouts, the comic is muted in a way. It fits a stuffy corporate structure in that way. Where the issue gets bumpy is one those massive visuals that should pop just don’t. There’s moments that should hit you like the alien ship coming out of the cloud in Independence Day. The response on the ground should feel like terror. The art doesn’t deliver that punch and generally doesn’t convey that panic on the ground. It, like the story itself, doesn’t quite click with its potential.

X-Corp #1 is an interesting start showing off the potential of the concept. It doesn’t quite click though. There are moments that should be memorable and punch the reader in awe. But, those moments never deliver. They show off what’s going on but miss that special something where you really take notice. Hopefully, this issue is just laying the groundwork and once that’s accomplished we can move on to more excitement but right now, I’m longing to go back and re-read Wildcats 3.0.

Story: Tini Howard Art: Alberto Foche
Color: Sunny Gho Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

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Review: Children of the Atom #1

Children of the Atom #1

After a lot of anticipation and some head-scratching, Children of the Atom #1 is here and it’s not quite what’s expected. The story revolves around a teenage group of heroes whose looks and powers seem close to classic X-Men. But, while this starts off as “Junior X-Men”, the end delivers an unexpected twist.

Written by Vita Ayala, there’s been a lot of mystery behind Children of the Atom #1. That surface focus feels like it’s helped the series creating expectations that are off. This isn’t New X-Men the New Class, it’s something different. Ayala introduces us to Cherub, Marvel Guy, Cyclops-Lass, Gimmick, and Daycrawler, the group of heroes at the center of the story. We’re thrown into battle with them, quickly learning their powers and personalities. And, for the most part, the debut issue feels like a weird riff on the X-Men. Like bad toy knock-offs, the characters remind us of the originals but are a bit off.

Ayala, brings it all together though. These are kids who know the X-Men and idolize them in some ways, so of course they’re going to riff on them with their looks and even names. Why their powers are similar is generally unknown and part of the mystery.

But Ayala doesn’t leave it just focused on the kids. She brings in a moral debate to the story as well. With underage heroes “outlawed” and little training, there’s a debate if there’s a moral imperative to bring them to Krakoa to train. Jena Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Storm debate the various positions as to what to do and what they should do. It’s an interesting discussion that frames things in ways that makes the comic more than young heroes trying to figure things out. It also questions what’s the role of Krakoa towards new mutants not on the island.

Bernard Chang handles the art are generally nails it. Marcelo Maiolo handles the color with Travis Lanham on lettering and Tom Muller on design. The comic looks great with the character designs top notch. There are some issues during the battle where some of the action isn’t as clear with too much being covered. It took me re-reading those pages a few times to make it clearer as to what was going on. The comic has a nice youthful energy about it that fits its young cast and you can feel some of the emotional ups and downs of the comic through the art.

Children of the Atom #1 is a solid debut that’s not quite what’s expected. While it might seem like “Junior X-Men”, there’s something else going on that’s not clear as of yet. It delivers a bit of mystery in what originally seemed like a pretty straightforward adventure.

Story: Vita Ayala Art: Bernard Chang
Color: Marcelo Maiolo Letterer: Travis Lanham Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.05 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Home Sick Pilots #2

Home Sick Pilots #2

The Old James House has lost its ghosts. With her new powers, it’s up to Ami to bring them back…whether they want to come home or not. Even when they’re really big ghosts wrapped in metal, with lots of sharp edges and things. Home Sick Pilots #2 continues the intriguing horror series giving us a better idea as to what to expect going forward.

Picking up where the debut issue left off, Ami attempts to retrieve a lucky horseshoe in Home Sick Pilots #2. The horseshoe seems to have an agenda of its own not wanting to return to the house. The issue delivers a tragic tale of someone who has experienced nothing but good from the haunted horseshoe. What will her life be without it and does she want to return to that existence? Writer Dan Watters delivers a story that feels almost like a parable mixed with a little ghostbusting.

The issue hints a bit more as to what we can expect with the series. Its focus isn’t a missing Ami, presumably killed by the house. Instead, the house is using her to gather these items and ghosts, we assume. It’s a house with a mission and something on its mind apparently as it’s also not being clear with Ami as to what it’s done and what it wants.

The artwork by Caspar Wijngaard and letterer Aditya Bidikar continues to impress. The art delivers an intriguing visually intertwined narrative of Ami and her friends. We get the story around the Old James House which doesn’t seem as much of a horror story but that’s juxtaposed by the blood covering her friends as they attempt to figure out what to do. We also get a look at the ghost Ami captures in multiple ways and each is a fascinating design well worth examining.

Home Sick Pilots #2 moves the story along as well as delivering the backstory of Ami and her friends. It’s a solid horror story that feels like some classics in the genre. It’s not completely clear what’s going on but what has been presented is surely interesting and well worth checking out.

Story: Dan Watters Art: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar Designer: Tom Muller
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: S.W.O.R.D. #2

S.W.O.R.D. #2

S.W.O.R.D. began with a solid issue introducing us to this new aspect to the world of the X-Men. We were left with some intriguing questions and a direction I really wanted to dive in to. But, the second issue pivots. It’s distracted a bit by the events of King in Black playing out through numerous titles in the Marvel Universe. S.W.O.R.D. #2 had to do it in some ways but like so many new series that dive into an event, it feels a bit like a distraction. It’s a sidequest to the main event we want to see.

Al Ewing does his best with the situation by having the issue somewhat organically slide into it all. They’re on a mission, cut off from Earth. With no communication, a team needs to be assembled to help their fellow X-Men and see what’s going on.

The concept makes sense and it works. But, it feels a bit jarring as the Knull’s “victory” has just happened, there’s no lead up to it as if this group has been doing little to stop Knull and help up to this point.

But, Ewing focuses on the characters and their personalities to make the comic interesting. Like some other X-series involved with X of Swords, S.W.O.R.D. #2 keeps the focus on the characters and their being dumped into the situation. This isn’t a situation first sort of comic where characters are forced into the story.

But Ewing is even smarter focusing on just a few members of the cast. Clearly some of the personalities who will play a big role going forward. Wiz-Kid, Frenzy, and Abigail Brand get their moments but it’s Cortez, Random, and Mentallo that stand out. Mentallo and Cortez especially are the highlights of the comic as one plays a big role in Brand’s plan and the other schemes in classic ways. Those three characters should make long time X fans happy as the comic dances around their personalities hinting at the chaos they all will likely cause.

Valerio Schiti‘s art is top notch. Marte Gracia joins on color and Ariana Maher on lettering and together, the trio delivers a visually entertaining comic. Ewing delivers a script that has great moments but the art is the exclamation point that really makes it pop. Body language and face reactions are key in nailing the tone which feels more comedic than anything else. There’s a light and entertaining tone to the art instead of the dire situation you’d expect concerning what’s going on.

S.W.O.R.D. #2 feels a bit like a distraction from the main show but the team makes it work. Along with strong visuals, the story overall helps build what’s coming by focusing on a few characters who clearly will shake things up in upcoming issues. They make the best with what they’ve got and overall, it doesn’t completely derail the series too much. While I’d have liked to see it continue with the seeds laid by the first issue, S.W.O.R.D. #2 does a solid job of laying even more for machinations yet to come.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Ariana Maher Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Wolverine #8

Wolverine #8

Wolverine #8 celebrates 350 issues of Wolverine in solo adventures and for such a big number, the issue is rather… normal. Marvel has apparently decided to play things a bit conservative with an issue that’s pretty much a normal issue. There’s not a bunch of guest creators doing short stories or celebrating creators of the past. Instead, Wolverine #8 is a solid jumping-on point for those who haven’t been reading the series and want to check it out.

Writer Benjamin Percy, artist Adam Kubert, and colorist Antonio Fabela kick things off with a story featuring Wolverine and CIA operative Jeff Bannister. “War Stories” features the two soldiers sharing some of the scars they carry with them. It’s a solid opening and sets up things down the road but an entire issue of just this could have been an amazing anniversary issue.

There’s some real emotion and pain danced around with the opening and a full issue could have really delivered an amazing end to the year. The idea of these two soldiers sharing their pain and haunted past could make for a very interesting read. Mix it in with the very real world issue of PTSD in our soldiers and there’s potential magic. This would have been a very interesting way to “celebrate” 350 issues.

Wolverine #8‘s main story, also written by Percy, is a bit more traditional as Wolverine is tasked to continue the battle against Xeno and others attacking various facilities. In this case, the path leads him back to his Team X partner Maverick, a character whose use over the years has been rather mixed. It’s a pretty standard story but it at least delivers a jumping-on point for new readers. Most is explained and done well enough that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

Percy is joined by artist Viktor Bogdanovic and colorist Matthew Wilson. Along with letterer Cory Petit, the art is solid though feels a bit reserved in some ways. This isn’t a story with flashy splash pages or really panel breaking layouts. The panels are mostly boxes and the images are kept within. It’s an odd artistic choice in that the art looks good but it’s also not splashy.

For an anniversary issue, Wolverine #8 feels pretty average as far as issues. It’s a good issue and a good starting point for readers but this isn’t one that really celebrates anything. It seems to do that by just telling a solid and entertaining story.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic
Color: Antonio Fabela, Matthew Wilson Letterer/Production: Cory Petit Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

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