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This week, my Comic Book Review Round-Up includes two Age of X-Man titles, "Apocalypse & the X-Tracts #1 and ‘The Marvelous X-Men’ #2, DC Comics’ Titans #35 and Image Comics’ new series Assassin Nation #1. Instead of comic book number ones, here are some one-shots I enjoyed: "Star Wars: Age Of Republic - General Grievous," "Uncanny X-Men: Winter's End #1" and "The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1."
"Age of X-Man: Apocalypse & the X-Tracts #1"
The X-Tracts are on a mission to spread the message of love. But they must do so in secret, or else the X-Men will find them. Led by Apocalypse, his Light Riders include Kitty Pryde, Eye-Boy, Dazzler, and Unveil. Plus, Apocalypse’s son Genesis is also in the mix. Together they’re intent on bringing in an asset that could turn the tide in their favour.
There was a languorous pace to this book that made reading it tedious. I also wasn’t a fan of the only black character being "fed" on and disappearing during the team meeting. Not sure what her powers are, but Unveil deserves better than to be a psychedelic naked lady. I’ve really enjoyed all the Age of X-Man titles so far but this one felt like it was trying hard but failing.
"Age of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men #2"
Not a good week for Age of X-Man. The second issue to focus on the Marvelous X-Men keeps running in place. The X-Tracts hold a press conference about the need for love. The people are easily swayed, but the X-Men are disgusted. Laura is so outraged, she tries to attack the crowd and succeeds. Thereby escalating the situation. And with that, this instalment goes downhill.
The X-Men don’t want to fight the X-Tracts, but they won’t agree on next steps, either. I understand that this world hasn’t known dissonance for a while so everyone’s a bit rusty, but the whole book is about teams of law enforcers passing the buck. There seemed to be no focus with the writing. Hopefully, this week was an aberration and Age of X-Man will go back to tight writing and pacey characterisation.
"Assassin Nation #1"
A new series from Image Comics where the protagonist, Chekov’s Gun, used to be one of the world’s greatest hitmen. Now a profitable businessman, his life is constantly in danger. He needs help and the only people he can turn to are… other assassins.
Put 20 of the most ruthless people in a room together, what can you expect? Blood! And plenty of it. This issue was a whimsical flip of the regular gangsta script. It was a fun read, but I wish there were more women characters. It’s definitely quite gory, but the writing and art pride themselves on colouring outside the box. That, in itself, can be quite an appealing factor for the series.
Half the Titans have been captured by Mother Blood on Unearth, while the others are battling each other. In the midst of all this, there are three Ravens running amuck, each with their own unique failings. It’s time for Raven to re-join the fight. But is she able to take revenge on the Blood Cult?
Well, that was an epic cop-out! Quite disappointed in this issue, since I was expecting the writer to actually have a better plan than… deus ex machina. The penultimate issue suggests this series may be going out on a whimper. The Titans deserve better and so do the readers.
Comic Book One-Shots
"Star Wars: Age Of Republic - General Grievous #1" brings the "Age of Republic" segment of this Star Wars series to a close with a bang (quite literally). The Separatist General is on the hunt of Jedi on a far away system when he stumbles upon something unexpected. Who will come out victorious in this battle of the mind?
I love that the story perfectly captures Grievous’ villainy without being overly dramatic or hackneyed. It’s a poignant look at the Dark Side of the Force. The art, however, is the real star of this issue. It is mesmeric – Luke Ross and Java Tartaglia really surpass themselves here. From the statues to the landscapes, everything is so lush and beautiful. I could stare at this book forever.
"Uncanny X-Men: Winter's End #1" takes place before "X-Men: Disassembled," which is confusing. Once you get into the story, all that doesn’t matter. It’s Bobby Drake’s birthday but he can’t start enjoying it yet. There’s a flood to be stopped, people to be saved and then... Ice Master. Bobby from the future has a horrifying tale to recount but Bobby in the present doesn’t want to listen.
I love that this book’s main aim was to iron out some of the continuity errors and issues made by the myriad writers of X-Men. It remains fun and gay and a celebration of how far Iceman has come. I wish there was more of this.
"The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1" is a one-shot that takes off from Scott Snyder’s The Batman Who Laughs series. It’s an eerie, dark and edgier version of Batman’s origins, which makes it both horrifying and compelling at the same time. The Grim Knight is nothing like the superhero we grew up loving.
I loved how well the writers subvert Batman’s origin story to make him into the darkest version of himself, while still remaining true to his mission. And the art was pretty fantastic as well. I love all the Batmans that came from the Dark Nights: Metal series—in fact, I would enjoy being able to read more of them!
Got recommendations for comics you’d like to see in my weekly Comic Book Review Round-Ups? Let me know and I’ll try and include them for you.