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Lestat's Comic Book Review Round-Up

Week 1, January 2019

Quick-fire Comic Book Reviews

I read a few select comics every week, so I've decided to do a round-up of reviews of those comic books. This will, hopefully, help you decide which titles to pick up or give up on.

Kicking off my first Comic Book Review Round-Up of 2019 is a look at DC Comics’ controversial, Heroes in Crisis series by Tom King, the ongoing Titans series, as well as Marvel’s solo title Shatterstar, the eighth issue of Uncanny X-Men and the new limited series Star Wars: Age Of The Republic.

The list of comic books I review is not exhaustive. Every week, I’ll give a brief look into the titles I follow or have given a shot. Without further adieu, let’s begin with the reviews for the first week of 2019. If I had to sum up this week's readings in a sentence I would have to say, it's been a regressive art week. Comic book creators can do so much better. 

Heroes in Crisis #4

I’ve been championing this series in the face of online vitriol and hostility, but the latest issue has tested even my patience. Clay Mann’s art is beautiful, but it is drawn with the male gaze – honestly, this entire instalment felt like a regressive step in DC Comics’ attempts at progress. Tom King is a great writer and he is so passionate about the subject-matter of this story, but that hasn’t come across in the majority of the issues.

Reading this book left a bad taste in my mouth. Were it any other series, I would have dropped it, but I believe ‘Heroes in Crisis’ is still worth another go. If anything, it would be interesting to see the series come to fruition. Will it be worth it, though?

Titans #32

The series takes a break from following the main team to give us the origin of the villain. Mother Blood is the mysterious character who appeared several issues ago as leader of the Blood Cult, but it’s taken till issue #32 to provide an origin for her.

‘Titans’ has been a patchy title the whole of 2018, but this year it begins with an unimaginative take on an enigmatic character. Where the series creators could have tried to write an intriguing female villain, instead we get yet another nubile young thing caught up in powers well beyond her means. DC Comics needs to do better. Hopefully the next issue, which promises a showdown between the Titans and the Blood Cult, will pull this series up by its bootstraps. 

Uncanny X-Men #8

Uncanny X-Men #8 cover (Credit: Marvel Comics)

I have been skeptical about this new Uncanny X-Men series because from the start it has felt like the creative team may have bitten off more than they can chew.

The X-Men may be disassembling thanks to Nate Grey's megalomania and the mutant team's own internal strife, but so many characters have been left by the wayside in this series that it doesn't feel like a true representation of who these characters are. The cliffhangers in this series have been great, and issue #8 is especially exciting, but the focus on the X-Men recruits rather than the classic heroes has made the reading experience lacklustre.

I would rather Ed Brisson and team concentrate on how Jean Grey, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Bishop and Angel face this catastrophe. There should be an organic way of passing the baton to the new guard (the recruits), but this series hasn't accomplished that yet. 

Shatterstar #4

The long-awaited battle between Shatterstar and his former lover/partner Gringrave finally takes place. On Horus IV the crowd only wants entertainment, but Shatterstar is out for revenge and needs to rescue his tenants. Who wins and who succeeds in the latest issue of the series?

I expected this series to be representative of Shatterstar’s many roles in life, but instead we have a plot-heavy focus and several pages dedicated to his uninteresting heterosexual love life. While Gringrave is given a more substantial role in issue #4, she’s still written as the crazy ex.

It’s hard to remember that Shatterstar is a bisexual character because his long-time partner, Rictor, showed up only in one issue. So much for diversity. 

Star Wars: Age of Republic – Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

I loved this instalment in the series. Jody Houser hits you right in the feels with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s interaction. It’s a touching character study of the Jedi Master who has always been fun and funny, but is also shrouded in a lot of pathos. The story is little more than a plot device, but that’s what makes this book excellent.

Without contrivances, Houser organically delves into Obi-Wan’s thoughts about being a teacher and helping his Apprentice become the Jedi Knight he is destined to become. There’s something so human about how the two characters are developed in this book, and it’s giving me hope for the forthcoming issues in this series.

Marvel seems to be learning from its mistakes, at least with regard to this series. ‘Star Wars: Age Of The Republic’ is one to look forward to. 

Conclusion

This is perhaps the longest I’ve read comic books on the trot. I usually take a break (or make myself take one) after a few months because comic book art and storylines become problematic and sometimes offensive. Have we reached that stage already? The art in the majority of the issues I read this week were gratuitous or sexualised. There is no excuse for that in this day and age. If artists want to create sexy art, then it has to be unquestioningly balanced out across the genders. This is why being anything but a non-straight white male reader makes loving comic books difficult. I thought we were well past that, but I already have my doubts – and we’re only in the first week of the new year.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for more quick-fire video reviews of comics.

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