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I’m celebrating my first month of Comic Book Review Round-Ups with reviews of DC’s Heroes in Crisis #5, Marvel’s X-Force #2; the new alternate timeline series Age of X-Man Alpha #1, as well as a dip back to the final frontier with Star Trek Q Conflict #1.
'Heroes in Crisis' #5
I had high hopes for this series. It had a shocking start and promised an in-depth look into superhero PTSD. The latter concept has disappeared completely; the series is now hell-bent on solving the central mystery of the massacre at Sanctuary, with another sub-plot thrown in the mix.
Someone leaked Sanctuary’s secret superhero confessions to Lois Lane, and for reasons beyond all of us, she released that information to the public. Now, public opinion of superheroes has plummeted, and the person to face them all is Superman.
I now approach each issue of this series with trepidation because the writing Tom King’s usually incontestable style has nose-dived, and Clay Mann’s beautiful artistic style seems to be an excuse to paint sexualised female characters rather than just gorgeous art. Where did it all go so wrong? How did it go wrong?
The X-Force is stuck in Transia trying to save mutant refugees from Commandant Constantin’s soldiers. They’re in this mess because of Kid Cable, but now they have to work together to save what’s left of mutantkind.
Wow! I cannot get over this comic. I picked up this series on a whim and initially I thought the poor art would completely ruin the reading experience for me. But, lo and behold, two issues in and I am hooked. I don’t know what it is about Ed Brisson, but he really manages to perfectly capture the essence of the X-Universe characters.
Brisson does villains better than heroes, though. Commandant Constantin is the worst, but he is such a grandiloquent figure in this issue, that he eclipses even X-Force. They’re hardly on page and are given little characterisation, but it doesn’t matter because the story is at the forefront of this series.
'Age of X-Man Alpha' #1
In a mutant utopia, the X-Men come to the rescue of a new mutant with psychic powers. While their mission is easy, their lives are anything but. There are rules in this paradise and breaking them can lead to dire consequences.
This was a disconcerting read—I can only imagine what readers felt when Age of Apocalypse first debuted in the 1990s. Reading this series makes one wonder if this really is the end of the X-Men. The art gives the entire book a surreal atmosphere, while the lethargic proceedings imbue each page with an unsettling feeling.
These new changes to the X-Men roster on page are giving the much-loved team new life. More than anything, this shake-up is also opening the doors for readers, new and old. For a long time, I stayed away from Marvel comics because I didn’t know where it start; ever since Extermination, I feel like the company has whittled down the main storyline to make it less daunting for readers to enjoy. I do wish Jean Grey wasn’t always written as one half of a love interest—she deserves better than that.
Science-Fiction Number Ones
Mystery of Love in Space #1 is DC Comics’ Valentine’s Day collection of short stories all centred around romance. I have read one of these V-day specials before, and this issue follows in the same vein—lots of talk of love, but very little romance.
This issue was a bit of a downer, really—quite melancholic with plenty of betrayal thrown in. I would not recommend it for Valentine’s Day at all! Even if you’re single or not interested in romance, this issue has too much pathos in it. The New Gods story verged on disturbing, and that was the opening salvo.
Most of the characters are DC C-listers, but the last one features Lois Lane and Superman. While the final story is heart-warming, it reveals nothing new about either character; in fact, Lois is again diminished and defined by her feelings for Superman. In 2019, let’s make a book about all kinds of love between all kinds of people.
Journey Into Unknown Worlds #1 has body horror. Body horror is not my thing, and this pulp issue is full of it. A virus has broken out and it is slowly and painfully killing humans. It is all horrifying to look at. Does it have a deeper meaning, though?
This story within a story within another story is a great homage to classic comic book science-fiction, but it is gory! Too gory for me, though plenty of horror fans would probably love to get into this. What would have worked in the story’s favour is better pacing and more suspense. There’s a bit at the end of the first story that should really have amped up the tension, but it didn’t.
The central premise felt a bit gimmicky, yet it stands as a fun tribute to the origins of storytelling and a simpler time of loving comics just for the entertainment value.
I am always sceptical of cinematic tie-ins, but Star Trek Q Conflict #1 is Star Trek crossover that was a little too good to miss. The crew of the Enterprise is on a rescue mission when Data finds that a high number of suns are going supernova. It doesn’t take Picard long to realise who’s behind this madness.
Q is equal parts frustrating and hilarious. His antics onboard the Enterprise and Voyager impacted the characters in many ways. I am curious to see how his latest game will affect the four crews. The art was very inconsistent in this issue – some panels emulated the features of the actors, while others didn’t – but the majority of the dialogue captured the actors’ intonations. I have to admit, I got goosebumps when all four crews met. This series is a Trekkie’s dream come true. Here’s hoping the story is good!
A relatively short Comic Book Review Round-Up this week, but February promises exciting new titles from several different publishers. As always, if you have suggestions for comic books you would like to see reviewed in my Round-Up, let me know on Twitter.