Charles Martin's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comics: The Gathering Reviews: 111
7.8Avg. Review Rating

9.0
All-New Wolverine #31

Feb 28, 2018

That first Jonathan issue also delivered plenty of humour, but it offered significant character development for Laura and permanently (and heartwarmingly!) upgraded her relationship with Gabby. While #31 revisits the theme of family, it does so in a slightly shallower, lip-service fashion. Here comedy is the ultimate target, and though the creators score a bullseye, only the most rabid fans would contend that this was a particularly hard shot to make. This adventure is tons of fun, but it could have had more heart.

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8.0
All-New Wolverine #32

Mar 14, 2018

Laura tables most of the last issue's humour to do a darker, more Wolverine-y one-shot. This villain hunt includes some excellent twists and it also does low-key character exploration for Laura and especially her not-really-a-pal-yet Amber. The final page raises a weird question about storytelling tone, but everything prior to that is rock-solid jaw-clenched baddie-stabbing Wolverine goodness.

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8.0
All-New Wolverine #33

Apr 4, 2018

Though the plot is by-the-numbers so far, that doesn't reallymatter when the main goal is to make the reader say, "ooh, lookit what happens to …" a half-dozen happy times. That goal is capably achieved (though some stronger visuals could have made the results even more memorable). Tom Taylor and company have another two issues to spice up the story and make it just as rewarding as all the "lookit this crazy awesome future" revelations in #33; I have every confidence in their ability to do so.

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7.0
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #794

Jan 24, 2018

This issue badly wants to be a "hop on board, things are getting great" point for once-bitten twice-shy Spider-fans. Though the new story arc has promise, I'm not sure that the campy, under-cooked cheese of this Scorpio yarn is the most tempting entrée for readers who feel burned out on Dan Slott's Spider-Man. The next issue might bring us into "OMG you gotta read this" territory … but we're not there yet.

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #3

Aug 8, 2018

Some of the best Spider-Man comics ever invite the reader to shout, "Peter Parker, you idiot!" more than once. ASM #3 joins their hallowed ranks. Its slow pace does flirt with frustration, but considerable creative effort ensures that this issue is neither a detour nor a disappointment. It has a subtle gut-punch of its own, and the pinnacle it's building toward shows every sign of greatness.

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #7

Oct 10, 2018

The creators wrap up Boomerang's limelight story with some real heart here. It's a sentimental conclusion that works surprisingly well. Wheels are turning ominously in the wider world of Spider-Man, though. This was an enjoyable Spidey-free interlude, but it's time to get Peter back in the mask.

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #11

Dec 12, 2018

Amazing Spider-Man #11 kicks off an arc that promises to be all about the Jameson. Plenty of attention to both deep continuity and recent developments gives his characterization a lot of nuances here. This is a very engaging first chapter thanks to strong art and a fast, intriguing plot, too. As ever, ASM delivers thorough satisfaction and a mighty hook compelling you to read on.

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7.0
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (2016) #16

Feb 14, 2018

While Renew Your Vows #16 is decently entertaining, it doesn't deploy the sort of amazingly sympathetic "fall in love" hooks this title used to deliver regularly. It shows retrospectively how much effort the original creative team invested in this series. Renew Your Vows can coast for a bit longer on the considerable goodwill racked up in its first year, but this story arc needs to drill deeper if it's going to hold readers' attention.

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5.0
America #11

Jan 17, 2018

America's weird, wild ride as the star of her own solo bends towards its conclusion. While some concepts worth exploring have filtered down into this final arc, the odds of cementing them into a memorable legacy seem slim. This chapter in America's story is unlikely to be the most beloved, but we can still hope it's not the last.

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8.0
Asgardians of the Galaxy #1

Sep 5, 2018

The Asgardians of the Galaxy debut in a splashy, fast, action-packed A-Team adventure. The plot and art are great high-octane stuff, but the characters are, so far, a bit flat. There's more than enough potential here to satisfy and to justify signing on for the full story arc. This team and its mission are both fascinating; I hope their story gets even more engaging in future chapters.

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9.0
Astonishing X-Men (2017) #8

Feb 21, 2018

Facing a potent villain with an ally they should really be questioning harder, the Astonishing X-Men are still in the hottest of hot water. Another rock-solid artistic performance and a fine-tuned script make this latest episode a hugely enjoyable one. Charles Soule has a clear destination in mind for this story, but the journey ahead of us still promises a lot of exciting twists.

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7.0
Astonishing X-Men (2017) #11

May 2, 2018

Thanks to the smooth meshing of plot points laid down since issue one, Astonishing X-Men #11 delivers a pretty satisfying read even though its big twist is eminently call-able. There's plenty of peril and uncertainty left for the final issue. I have a terrible suspicion, though, that all the questions will be answered a little too neatly and this arc's overall impact - on its characters, on the Marvel universe's status quo, and on readers' memories - will be minimal.

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7.0
Astonishing X-Men (2017) #14

Aug 1, 2018

What the latest arc of Astonishing X-Men gives us is a wonderfully snarky, dysfunctional team of outcast mutants. They might not save the world, but they're gonna crack some good jokes as they trip over each other. While issue #14 completes the roster and strengthens the comedic tone, the visuals and the opposition remain a little too generic to make this a must-read. It doesn't belong on the top of your pull list, but it'll be a fun treat if you circle back later and pick it up cheap.

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7.0
Avengers (2016) #677

Jan 24, 2018

A small but satisfying revelation and a hint of hilarity are enough (just barely) to keep the "No Surrender" train chugging along. Pepe Larraz's top-tier art cries out for a more memorable story to tell, but so far the script refuses to rise to greatness. This is a decent arc so far - but is "decent" enough for a story demanding so much of its readers' time and money?

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7.0
Avengers (2018) #1

May 2, 2018

Some pervasive flaws in plot, pacing, and characterization are saved from causing too much disappointment by Ed McGuinness drawing his dang hands off in Avengers #1. This initial issue casts its net too wide and doesn't let the heroes do enough heroing, but pretty visuals and gobs of potential mean that this cause is a long way from lost.

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7.0
Avengers (2018) #2

May 16, 2018

Even more than in their debut, Jason Aaron's Avengers are marking time in #2. While I'd still put my money on this developing into a satisfying epic once the arc is complete, it's just not compelling in single issues. Holding back on this title and gobbling it down in trade-sized chunks might be the best way to approach it.

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8.0
Avengers (2018) #5

Jul 18, 2018

If you're looking for literary merit or scrupulous storytelling craft or insightful characterization, Avengers #5 is likely to disappoint. If you address the comic on its own terms and let its sound and fury carry you over the top into absurd popcorn movie spectacle, it's a thoroughly entertaining ride. You won't feel like putting it on a pedestal once it's over, but while you're turning the pages, it is a lot of fun.

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9.0
Black Bolt #11

Mar 7, 2018

Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward have, since the first pages of #1, imbued Black Bolt with intensity, focus, and passion that do their protagonist proud. My expectations going into #11 were crazy high, and yet it delivered satisfying payoffs in a practically miraculous way. Most impressive of all, it ratchets up expectations even higher for the final issue. I will be there with bells on to see how everything plays out - and I hope you'll come along, too.

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10
Black Panther (2018) #1

May 23, 2018

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuña deliver an unexpected but entirely welcome game-changer with this new volume. It's a sci-fi action story that is the very definition of "out there," and yet it still has the core of fascinating ambiguity that's become Mr. Coates's trademark. Black Panther #1 is a whole lot of awesome things: A highly entertaining popcorn comic, a perfect provoker of deep thoughts, a remarkably good follow-up to the Black Panther film, and an excellent jump-on point for new readers. It is as close to perfect as any #1 can get.

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8.0
Black Panther vs. Deadpool #1

Oct 24, 2018

Black Panther Vs. Deadpool #1 kicks off with a tremendous burst of creative energy. A perfect balance between serious and silly suits the book's co-stars and should do a fine job of satisfying both veteran readers and movie fans. The creators understand that this title is the essence of non-essential reading, but they do not use that as an excuse to employ less than top-notch storytelling skills.

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10
Cable (2017) #155

Mar 21, 2018

Cable's new story arc starts with a bang as Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler sculpt Cable and his daughter Hope into real three-dimensional characters. The overwhelming presence of the shape-shifting fear-monster stalking them ensures that this is more of a spine-chiller than a heartwarmer, though. The script gives Germán Peralta free reign to imagine a creeptastic beastie, and Mr. Peralta is very, very imaginative. Bundle up tight and leave a light on as you read this superbly spooky bedtime story.

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8.0
Cable (2017) #156

Apr 18, 2018

Cable #156 delivers a surprising full-issue flashback and throws the main story into a bit of a holding pattern. It's initially disconcerting, but the points that are made by the end of the issue are both insightful and scary. Top-notch visuals throughout help sell a tricky script. If the start is shaky, the end is notably powerful, and the larger story is evolving in fascinating ways.

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8.0
Captain America (2017) #698

Feb 14, 2018

The arc leading to the big shiny #700 starts off plenty enjoyable. There's still a lot of heavy lifting to do if it's going to get truly epic, though. This issue is primarily a post-apocalyptic Secret-Empire-echoing setup so that Good Ole Cap can do his thing in the next two issues. Fortunately, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have already proved capable of portraying Good Ole Cap flawlessly, and this launch pad of an issue has them primed for blastoff.

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8.0
Captain America (2017) #700

Apr 11, 2018

The backup story closes with the proud assertion that "Captain America is one of a kind," and that's a line I'd happily hoist a glass to. While I'm underwhelmed by a few bits of #700 and the strategic layout of the "Out Of Time" arc as a whole, I wouldn't dream of saying its heart is in the wrong place. The Waid/Samnee look at Cap closes with the same insightful, resiliently positive view of its protagonist it's had since day one. This issue might not be a critical turning point in Cap's story, but it is a joyous demonstration and celebration of why we love him.

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5.0
Captain Marvel (2017) #128

Jan 31, 2018

Carol is due to pop up in Infinity Countdown in a few weeks lugging the Reality Stone. When it's time to explain the stone's origins, I think she's likely to sigh and rub the bridge of her nose and say something like, "There was a whole … Mirror Universe … Thing." And that is about all you need to know about this story arc; only the most die-hard Carol fans (and those of us who love the way Michele Bandini draws her) will want to slog through the plot-hole-y details.

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10
Champions #16

Jan 17, 2018

A fresh take on Marvel's creepiest family and a healthy dose of hero recruitment combine into a comic that's both hilarious and heartrending. This issue covers a lot of ground, offers up a lot of memorable moments, and hangs onto the powerful "storytelling for the ages" tone this title has had since Secret Empire. If you have the slightest interest in these characters - particularly Viv and Vision - you just can't miss this new chapter of their story. If you're just here for cool teen heroes doing cool heroic stuff, Champions #16 has you covered too.

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9.0
Champions #19

Apr 11, 2018

Hold your heads up high, Champions fans! Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse perform an impressive soft reset that makes this team even easier to love and nullifies a lot of the "oh, it could be great, but" complaints earned by previous issues. Champions #19 concentrates very productively on character relationships, and if future issues deliver as strongly on plot development, this title is poised for greatness.

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8.0
Champions #20

May 23, 2018

While the pace remains slightly jerky, the Zub/Izaakse edition of the Champions is still a formidable thrill ride and a refreshing improvement on the team's earlier doldrums. This continuation pays dividends on the groundwork in #19 and sets the stage for an impressive climax in #21. We're already loving the build-up, and we wouldn't dream of missing the payoff next month.

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9.0
Champions #24

Sep 12, 2018

The Champions (Miles in particular) live up to their title when challenged with a school shooting issue. This is a frank look at an ugly problem. It does not trivialize or over-dramatize. It does not prescribe facile or fantastic remedies. It reminds us of the wounds to which we're all susceptible and it inspires us to take action on our own. It is powerful and it is good. It is a potent reminder that in the wake of tragedy, stories about heroes only grow more important.

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8.0
Champions #25

Oct 3, 2018

The Champions' arrival in Weirdworld gives us a lot of changes to adapt to. It's a swing-for-the-fences story premise. Though necessary stage-setting eats up most of this issue, the future looks bright. This first chapter shepherds us safely through some extreme character changes, and the question of what happens next is tremendously compelling.

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9.0
Daredevil (2015) #606

Aug 8, 2018

A healthy crop of gritty storylines is bolstered by a beezer of a twist ending in Daredevil #606. He's headed after Wilson Fisk with Inhuman help, he's doing an admirable job filling in for the NYPD - if he can just survive a left-field guest star, Daredevil will be on top of the world. Solid visuals by Phil Noto enhance Charles Soule's clever, busy script and easily justify sliding this arc onto your pull list.

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10
Daredevil (2015) #610

Oct 31, 2018

If you haven't picked up a Daredevil comic in years - or ever - you can read #610 and enjoy it for what it is: A brilliant and self-contained caper story. It is thrilling and gorgeous and spell-binding. I don't know if subsequent issues can possibly live up to the standard this one sets. Regardless of what comes next, Daredevil #610 carves its own niche as a must-read.

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7.0
Despicable Deadpool #297

Mar 28, 2018

"The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool" kicks off with a bleak look at Deadpool in a rock-bottom mood. In dialling down the tone for the rest of the arc to the blackest of black humour, Deadpool #297 is a success. Unfortunately, this mood-setting issue suffers from a shortage of plot development, and it simply cannot satisfy on its own. We need to have faith that this grim mood will pay off in the future, because the arc's main plot is just barely getting started.

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9.0
Domino (2018) #1

Apr 11, 2018

Gail Simone's take on Neena "Domino" Thurman is entertaining as all get out if just a tiny bit generic. That problem should disappear as the story grows, and the very slight weaknesses in the script are more than compensated for by David Baldeón's incredibly expressive and polished art. This is a just great comic in general, and if you feel that Marvel could stand to learn a few things from DC, you should find it particularly satisfying.

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8.0
Domino (2018) Annual #1

Sep 26, 2018

Domino's first annual is a fun, fast anthology that captures all of the character's wit. It expands on important relationships and proposes some new ones, too. Words and art are all crafted with the highest skill. This isn't just a reward for faithful Domino readers; it's a very engaging invitation for newbies to come aboard.

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9.0
Exiles (2018) #1

Apr 11, 2018

Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodríguez assemble the first three members of a new Exiles squad, present them with a dangerous antagonist, and raise a lot of fascinating questions in this breathless revival. The characters and the challenges facing them receive just enough spotlight to leave us clamouring for more. The Exiles concept is one that runs on imagination, and these creators are feeding their new series plenty of high-octane fuel. This is gonna be a hot one.

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6.0
Exiles (2018) #2

Apr 25, 2018

In six months' time, we'll look back on this issue as either the misstep where a great series nearly left the rails or the jump-the-shark moment that led to a quick (and rightful) cancellation. I have faith in the creators' talents. I see the potential of the premise. I like the plot so far. I'm pulling hard for the first option. Considering Exiles #2 on its own, though, I can't deny the disappointment delivered by its cardboard characterization.

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8.0
Exiles (2018) #9

Oct 10, 2018

Exiles #9 tells an ambitious story with a breathless, potentially-overwhelming flood of new sights and new ideas. The storytelling road is rather bumpy, but the imaginative treasures on display make it well worth your time to negotiate the tricky terrain. Not the easiest of reads, but definitely a rewarding one.

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7.0
Falcon (2017) #6

Mar 14, 2018

Falcon launches into his second story arc with a spookier, more serious tone and a more modern pace. There's a tiny twinge of disappointment in saying goodbye to the over-stuffed scripts of previous issues. We've got cool vampires and interesting supporting cast developments to look forward to - but I worry that this title's unique, idiosyncratic voice might be slipping away.

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9.0
Fantastic Four (2018) #3

Nov 14, 2018

Fantastic Four #3 caps off the family reunion story with all of the wit and heart that was missing from previous issues. It's a thoroughly satisfying conclusion and a powerful, past-due demonstration of what this creative team can do with the title. This volume needed to take a big leap forward; #3 makes an impressive vault and nails the landing, too.

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8.0
Fantastic Four (2018) #4

Nov 28, 2018

In Fantastic Four #4, it's the new status quo, the new story leads, and the character relationships that impress rather than the immediate conflict with a very silly band of imposters. Previous issues reunited the Fantastic Four; this is where the even more interesting process of re-carving their place in the Marvel Universe begins.

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9.0
Fantastic Four (2018): Wedding Special #1

Dec 12, 2018

This Wedding Special delivers a few non-essential but thoroughly enjoyable peeks at the preparations for the big day. It has tremendous heart, but also a surprisingly edgy portrayal of Alicia. That keeps it from being all fluff and ensures it provokes thought. It's separated from all-time greatness only by a (slight) lack of memorable art.

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8.0
Guardians of the Galaxy (2017) #150

Jan 3, 2018

If, however, you're not just in it for the Warlock, this issue should do an admirable job of pumping you up for Infinity Countdown. It manages to polish off the Guardians' current series in flashy, satisfying style while also whetting your appetite for the event to come. Marvel's cosmic arena is looking wilder and more exciting than ever, and though it will continue under other titles, the Guardians' story is still well worth following.

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7.0
Hawkeye (2016) #14

Jan 3, 2018

This is a satisfying enough issue if you're already invested in the title and the current story arc. That arc is still on track, and it may well end up being great. Once we're looking at it in hindsight, though, I doubt that #14 is going to stand out as a high point.

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7.0
Hunt For Wolverine #1

Apr 25, 2018

The Hunt for Wolverine presents terrific visuals throughout and some genuinely touching moments in the A story. The B story, though, charts out a roadmap for a vast crossover event that's already looking bloated and unsatisfying. By itself, this issue is a decent read and a very pretty one, but the continuation of the story across four different miniseries looks promising for only the most indulgent and well-heeled Wolverine superfans.

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8.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Dead Ends #1

Aug 29, 2018

Although the sheer volume of recap material slows this comic down, it's an admirably complete snapshot of the diverse points the Hunt for Wolverine has already hit. It sets the stage for the full-on Return by adding a promising antagonist to the mix, and it's a generally fun read. We give it a strong "Buy It" recommendation - especially if you skipped the miniserieses and need to catch up.

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8.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda #1

May 9, 2018

While this issue doesn't make any cutting-edge Wolverine revelations, it does an excellent job of opening up new mysteries in its retrospective look at Logan's New Avengers days. Formidable art and a dense script that focuses on the "Why are these heroes hunting Wolverine?" question foremost in readers' minds turns this into a winner. Our recommendation for Adamantium Agenda #1: Buy it.

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5.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda #4

Aug 8, 2018

Adamantium Agenda sputters across the finish line running on fumes. It manages to generate some interest in the final pages, but unfortunately, it's unflattering "who thought this belonged in the Hunt for Wolverine?" interest. This issue's destiny is to become a curious footnote on Laura Kinney's wiki page; as the conclusion to an independent story about a team of heroes looking for Wolverine, it's a bust. Our recommendation for Adamantium Agenda #4 lands firmly on skip it.

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8.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Claws Of A Killer #1

May 16, 2018

A winning story, rock-solid characterization, and naturalistic visuals make Claws of a Killer #1 a real delight. While it's not a perfect comic, it's a very strong one both on its own and as part of the bigger Hunt for Wolverine plot. Our recommendation: Buy It for sure.

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5.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Claws Of A Killer #3

Jul 18, 2018

Claws of a Killer shambles onward like the zombies it features: slow, cold, and ugly. Though there's a reasonable argument to be made that that feeling is intentional, this series shows how dangerous it is to chase an unpleasant tone without offering readers something compelling to offset it. Our recommendation comes down firmly on: Skip It.

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4.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Claws Of A Killer #4

Aug 15, 2018

With a breezy "whoosh" of decompression, Claws of a Killer whispers to a close with more gritty but generic zombie fighting. This series suffered from a fundamental mismatch between creative talent and intent. Mariko Tamaki and Butch Guice are great creators. There's nothing wrong with "three violent anti-heroes chop up zombies" as a premise for a miniseries. That premise and these creators combine like oil and water, though. It goes down in our logbook as one strong issue followed by three extremely skippable ones.

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4.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1

May 23, 2018

While the creators of Mystery In Madripoor resisted the temptation to turn this all-female book into a T&A delivery vehicle, the dull plot, bland characterization, and poor art they deliver instead are questionably-valuable alternatives. This series might hit some interesting points in the future, but that's not the way we're betting after this introduction. Our recommendation for Mystery In Madripoor #1: An emphatic 'Skip It.'

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5.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #3

Jul 25, 2018

Jim Zub and Thony Silas deliver another puff pastry of superficial female X-action. A slight uptick in the visuals can't elevate this into a rewarding or meaningful read; the main accomplishment here is filling another box on the editors' 16-issue Hunt for Wolverine roadmap. Our recommendation for this title is stuck firmly on 'Skip It.'

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6.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #4

Aug 22, 2018

The balance of the visuals remain hopelessly sketchy, and they fall right in line with the "oh, is this still going on?" feeling given off by the final developments of the main plot. Mystery in Madripoor isn't going high on anybody's must-read list, but the final issue distinguishes itself. Psylocke fans will need to check out the hot new status quo, earning this final issue a provisional Buy It recommendation from us.

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6.0
Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost #1

May 2, 2018

In terms of progressing the Hunt, this issue does nothing beyond roping a supporting cast to Daredevil. The moody tone makes this issue worth a peek if you love hardboiled detective stories, but it couldn't possibly be considered "essential." And you can shave about three points off our rating if you're a die-hard Cypher fan and you don't care to see him turned into a punchline for the Nth time. Our recommendation for Weapon Lost #1: Skip It.

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9.0
Immortal Hulk #4

Aug 1, 2018

Issue #4 of the Immortal Hulk begins setting up the pieces for a bigger story. The slower pace and heavier cargo of exposition might disappoint after the fast, self-contained stories of earlier issues. The enthralling plot and its many tempting questions more than make up for a slow start, and the tale is supported throughout with impeccable art. The first three issues of Immortal Hulk demanded our attention; now that they have it, the creators are dragging us much deeper into the Hulk's scary new world.

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6.0
Incredible Hulk (2017) #713

Feb 21, 2018

Amadeus Cho's cruise-control Sakaar road trip comes to an end with slight confusion and a promise of real character development to come. It's been an aggressively non-memorable journey, and while there weren't any "grab the pitchforks" sins committed, I can't imagine this being anywhere near as well-regarded as the original Planet Hulk in ten (or five, or one) years' time.

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8.0
Lockjaw (2018) #1

Feb 28, 2018

At the start of the issue, I was hoping for a good "Lockjaw saves his family" adventure. At the end, I'm hoping for a good "Lockjaw saves D-Man" story, and I'm fairly confident that we'll get that. And probably some awesome Lockjaw family action, too. While a faster pace would be welcome, Carlos Villa's gorgeous art and Daniel Kibblesmith's funny script ensure that these first slow steps are highly enjoyable.

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7.0
Marvel Two-In-One #8

Jul 25, 2018

Marvel Two-In-One got its epic AU world-building out of the way in its first arc and its Annual. Ben and Johnny are still stuck in a different reality, but for this issue, it's merely the backdrop for a knockout character drama. A weighty script is undercut by rushed art that detracts from the climax rather than enhancing it, and this comic lands short of its full potential.

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8.0
Marvel Two-In-One #11

Oct 31, 2018

Reed and Ben's reunion road trip ties up some loose ends and unleashes some bittersweet feelings before revisiting this title's unique Reed-Doom relationship. It's a pity this feels so much like a farewell. There are realms of potential here that the Slott/Pichelli FF will probably never get around to exploring. Two-in-One hasn't always been flawless, but on balance it has been … yes, we have to say it: Fantastic.

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8.0
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #27

Jan 31, 2018

After a shaky start, the Fantastic Three have found their feet. Giving them a little breathing room before they tackle full-on world-saving is a great idea, and the way their chemistry starts to pop in this issue has livened up the whole story arc. Lunella + Ben Grimm + Johnny Storm always had potential, and now, at last, we're seeing it realized. I'm eager to see where they go next.

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10
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #38

Dec 5, 2018

MG&DD #38 kicks off a dream-adventure in the best possible fashion. It's a blast for readers of all ages - both youngsters and parents will find plenty to enjoy. Even after an exceptionally long run for a modern Marvel book, this title continues to deliver perfectly-pitched delight.

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8.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #28

Mar 21, 2018

As Gabe says, "This is Jersey City. We get weird chemical explosions and dinosaurs, like, every other week." Satisfying as this particular explosion-and-dinosaur fest is, it brings this arc to a close by giving Kamala just the gentlest of forward nudges in terms of character development. Previous issues laid the groundwork for a more ambitious leap, so closing with a bunny hop feels a tiny bit anticlimactic. My quibbles are minor, though, and it's definitely a pleasure to have Kamala back.

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10
Ms. Marvel (2015) #29

Apr 18, 2018

Kamala Khan has always been easy to fall in love with. If the past 47 issues have done the trick and turned youinto an adoring follower, this latest piece of her story is positively unmissable. Ms. Marvel #29 is a beautiful journey into the briar patch of love, and every step is going to be rewarding for Kamala fans. Some might be painful, but you will be delighted to have made the trip.

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #33

Aug 29, 2018

Ms. Marvel #33 demonstrates that the "Kamala + Bruno vs. crazy challenges" formula is still a winner. There are a few tiny flaws, but it's a remarkably strong performance for a second chapter. It draws us in deeper by amplifying the manic intensity of the previous issue without turning loose any secrets. This rabbit hole just gets deeper, and the creators make the fall itself so fun that we wouldn't dream of opting out.

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #36

Nov 14, 2018

Though a one-shot medieval flashback is a complete left-field surprise for Ms. Marvel, it's hardly an unwelcome one. Tremendous storytelling talent and a consistent theme count for a great deal. This little essay on romance - in both the "high adventure" and "lovey-dovey" senses - is unexpected but undeniably delightful.

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7.0
Old Man Hawkeye #1

Jan 10, 2018

The first issue of Old Man Hawkeye doesn't quite fight its way out of the shadow of Millar & McNiven's original Old Man Logan. Unless the storytelling tightens up significantly, the prudent course is going to be re-reading OML rather than following the pre-remix. The compelling post-apocalyptic visuals earn this series a second look, though, and lightning may yet strike twice.

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7.0
Old Man Logan (2016) #34

Jan 31, 2018

Don't pick up Old Man Logan #34 looking for a love story. The straightforward art might fool you into dismissing this as a goodies-vs-baddy comic, and a shallow read along those lines will come off underwhelming. There are much more sinister nuggets buried in Ed Brisson's script. Though unearthing them takes a little too much effort, the questions they raise about Mariko are definitely worth asking.

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6.0
Old Man Logan (2016) #36

Mar 14, 2018

The bad signage matches the overall level of creativity on display here, i.e., not a lot. This speedy little hardboiled vignette hasn't committed any real sins, but it is running on rails toward an achingly predictable end. If you're looking for a simple tough-guy popcorn comic, this will fit the bill - barely.

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7.0
Old Man Logan (2016) #39

May 9, 2018

Ed Brisson's slow-burn script drags its heels a little in establishing a connection between Old Man Logan's check-up and Glob Herman's Big Date. Though concentrating on some younger mutants is a refreshing change, it's hard to predict whether these two storylines are going to link up in a satisfying manner - and frustrating that they're insulated from each other so far. Ibraim Roberson's art delivers some much more concrete value and turns this issue into a feast for the eyes. I really hope the next installment lives up to the gorgeous visuals presented here!

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8.0
Old Man Logan (2016) Annual #1

Sep 5, 2018

The Old Man Logan Annual presents a pair of stories that are formidable on their own. They have a higher calling than just providing entertainment, though. They show that it's high time to take OML out of the 616 and back to the Wasteland. We could definitely use an Old Man Punisher book, too. This Annual presents plenty of hooks to develop both of these characters in the Wasteland; these geezers could just use a little more artistic firepower if they make the leap to ongoing stories.

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9.0
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #310

Sep 26, 2018

Chip Zdarsky's final Spider-Man story sticks its landing in the close neighbourhood of perfection. Comedy, tragedy, and a bedrock dedication to never giving up: This is a full encapsulation of Spidey's core values. It's passionate and powerful. It's the highest of high notes to end on, and it's a must-read for all Spidey fans, not just followers of this particular series.

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9.0
Phoenix Resurrection: The Return Of Jean Grey #1

Dec 31, 2017

I'm tremendously impressed by the way that all the creative aspects of the book - the writing, the art, and the colours - become more intense and more passionate when portraying the super-weird opening and closing scenes. The globe-trotting middle is standard-issue event content, but the start and finish are special. They're creepy (good creepy) and memorable and fascinating. In a word, they feel uncanny - and what feeling could be more appropriate for the momentous revival of one of the original X-Men?

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8.0
Quicksilver: No Surrender #1

May 16, 2018

Saladin Ahmed and Eric Nguyen deliver a speedy but intimate portrait of Quicksilver before throwing some fascinating roadblocks in his path. While this miniseries doesn't start off in a position of all-time greatness, that definitely could be where it's headed. The introduction is well above average and packed with enough promise (both visually and narratively) to get readers clamouring for more.

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7.0
Runaways (2017) #13

Sep 12, 2018

The return of Alex Wilder brings lots of fascinating character conflict and tons of action. This issue also brings a new artist into the fold, and the shift in visual style is a lot less welcome than the change in storytelling tone. With all due respect to David Lafuente, his cartoonier take on the Runaways just emphasizes how truly magical Kris Anka's work has been. This series remains eminently readable, but this issue and the next one are likely to go down in history as "the Alex issues with the wonky art."

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7.0
Shuri (2018) #1

Oct 17, 2018

Shuri #1 is a character study rather than a fight-fest or a twisty thrill-ride. Though understandable, the absence of dramatic action is still sorely felt. This issue's personalized world-building sets up plenty of promising dominoes for the future, but Shuri's story is just barely getting started.

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8.0
Spider-Geddon #2

Oct 24, 2018

Spider-Geddon #2 suffers slightly from an over-abundance of tie-in advertising. This issue is more than just a traffic control centre, though; the creators do plenty of quality storytelling as they march the Inheritors forward and ratchet up the challenges facing the Spiders. I appreciate the continued focus on Otto Octavius; big events are at their best when one character is fixed firmly in the middle of the story.

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8.0
Spider-Man/Deadpool #27

Feb 8, 2018

Robbie Thompson and Chris Bachalo deliver a Deadpool-heavy issue. It uses both humour and pathos to paint a deeper picture of Wade. While the creators have successfully hoisted this title back up to the respectable heights of its Kelly/McGuinness days, this is very much a Chris Bachalo show. This story (both the longer arc and this issue) should be quite satisfying - so long as you've made peace with the steady stream of creepy crawly tentacle-y monsters Spidey and Deadpool run into.

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6.0
Spider-Man/Deadpool #30

Mar 28, 2018

Chameleon's schemes roll slowly onward and hoover up guest-star Silk as they evolve. Deadpool serves solely as a medium-aware joke-delivery system. There are some good laughs to be had, but plot, humour, and visuals all land well below "must read" levels. I would not advise racing out to grab a copy just because Mr. Thompson has found an excuse to feature Silk; like a lot of Spider-Man/Deadpool issues, this one is better poached out of the bargain bin.

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7.0
Superior Octopus #1

Oct 3, 2018

Superior Octopus #1 is a comic that serves two masters. It's a pump-up issue that promotes both the imminent Spider-Geddon event and the idea of an ongoing Otto Octavius story. The former is going to happen no matter what. The latter idea needs some reader support. This issue is a fine example of what that Otto comic would be like and a strong argument in favour of launching it. Let Marvel know: Otto deserves another star turn!

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6.0
The Black Order #1

Nov 14, 2018

After reading Black Order #1, my stock of knowledge about these villains is just a tiny bit bigger. The book portrays their heinous status quo with serviceable storytelling skill. It doesn't help me answer the bigger question: Why should anybody care about the Black Order? So far, this book will satisfy existing Order fans - if there are any out there - but it doesn't do nearly enough to create new ones.

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8.0
The Life Of Captain Marvel #1

Jul 18, 2018

The Life of Captain Marvel opens by yanking Carol Danvers out of the air and presenting her with formidable family challenges. We'll be getting back to the "pew pew" sooner rather than later, but first, Margaret Stohl takes a necessary and highly successful breather to rediscover some of Carol's core truths. Ably supported with top-tier art and demonstrating a level of insight that's been sorely lacking in Captain Marvel's solo comics for too long, this script lays the groundwork for something truly special.

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7.0
The Life Of Captain Marvel #2

Aug 22, 2018

Its safe, slow plot keeps this issue from being as great as its presentation suggests it should be. The Life of Captain Marvel #2 takes very pretty steps with poise and grace. They are small steps and there aren't a lot of them, though. This is clearly one chapter in a larger story, but it feels like an early frontrunner for this title's "least memorable issue" award.

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8.0
The Life Of Captain Marvel #3

Sep 19, 2018

A few transient storytelling flaws aren't enough to bring down this excellent turning point in the Life of Captain Marvel. Events come to a head in both keenly-anticipated and wholly-surprising ways. If your interest in the Danvers family saga was starting to flag, this issue is a perfect prescription for changing the game and recapturing your interest.

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6.0
The Life Of Captain Marvel #4

Oct 17, 2018

The Life of Captain Marvel #4 surrenders a lot of potential to tell a thoroughly familiar alien heritage story. That story, for all its simplicity, is told with satisfying skill. I contend that the previous issues set the stage for something greater, though. Much more could/should have been done to reconcile the nuanced family drama with the very basic space operatics introduced here.

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9.0
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015) #32

May 9, 2018

Inviting Kraven into an escape room game produces a nice full-cast adventure - eventually. New artist Derek Charm lands not with a bang but a smooth upward curve, taking the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl we know and love and enhancing it in welcome ways without changing its core style. Though the road to the main plot meanders a little, the entire journey is funny and the cliffhanger is full of promise.

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9.0
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015) #37

Oct 10, 2018

The death of Squirrel Girl delivers dramatic mysteries along with a bigger-than-usual serving of humour. This issue tells a fascinating story with all of the title's usual skill, then adds significant extra quality by taking full advantage of the unique opportunities presented by the subject matter. It's a real treat for devoted readers - not only of this title but of Marvel comics as a whole.

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9.0
The Unstoppable Wasp (2018) #1

Oct 17, 2018

Unstoppable Wasp #1 (Mark II) capably picks up right where the last volume left off. G.I.R.L. is brilliant, the villainous challenges are fascinating, and the art is gorgeous. The last volume was a powerful tool for making readers fall in love with this charming, hyperkinetic Wasp. The new series starts off fully equipped to get that job done all over again.

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9.0
Thor (2018) #3

Jul 18, 2018

Thor #3 offers up a surprise marriage, a seven-way god-fight, schemes galore, brilliant humour, earnest heartstring-pulling, and just a touch of murder! (Gotta keep Thori happy.) This arc is sliding comfortably into place as another "read it, love it, treasure it, enshrine it with the all-time greats" Thor story. This particular issue falls just a tiny step short of total perfection, but the creators have given us every sign that they'll be hitting that mark - repeatedly - before the story is through.

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8.0
Tony Stark: Iron Man #3

Aug 15, 2018

While its virtual reality premise doesn't sparkle in its own right, this issue resonates thanks to the twisty developments it delivers to the plot and the characters (one in particular). Tony Stark gets upstaged an awful lot for a protagonist with his name in the title. As long as the upstaging is this compelling, though, I'll happily come back for more.

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9.0
Unbelievable Gwenpool #24

Jan 10, 2018

Maybe it's when Gwen starts joking about how incredibly old Batroc is: "One time I saw your first issue on Antiques Roadshow." Or maybe you're the snooty cultured sort and you click into "I love this" mode as soon as Batroc starts singing "I regret nothing" on page one. Long before it's over, this issue will jolly you out of your cancellation blues and remind you why you love this title. Yes, Gwenpool is ending. But it's not overyet, and by the last page of #24, it shows every sign of going out on top.

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7.0
Uncanny X-Men (2018) #3

Nov 28, 2018

Uncanny X-Men #3 covers a lot of plot-ground, but it does so at the expense of vivid characterization. While it's pretty and it's eventful, it lacks the engaging, sympathetic connection with the mutants that was so evident in previous issues. The result is a connective episode, a comic you power through in hopes of greater moments down the road.

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8.0
Venom (2016) #164

Apr 4, 2018

In the rare quiet interludes between crossover shenanigans, Mike Costa has crafted a fascinating take on the Eddie/Venom relationship. He's turned the symbiote into a separate character, one with its own agenda and secrets it keeps from its host. What happens when those secrets are laid bare to Eddie Brock? Venom #164 delivers a blockbuster of a revelation, and there are doubtless more surprises ahead. Unless you absolutely cannot stand introspective, character-driven Venom, you'll find this new evolution enthralling.

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7.0
Weapon X (2017) #22

Aug 15, 2018

Though Weapon X maintains its tradition of stupidity, in this issue it is endearingly stupid rather than aggressively or insultingly stupid. It invites you to put your feet up, throw your brain into idle, and enjoy the dysfunctional antics of prickly, innately funny anti-heroes. It is not meaningful or momentous storytelling, but it is entertaining. Embrace the silliness on its own terms and you will not be disappointed.

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10
West Coast Avengers (2018) #1

Aug 22, 2018

No matter how high your expectations are for an irreverent Thompson/Caselli funnybook, West Coast Avengers #1 exceeds them. It combines a bundle of awesome flavours - peanut butter and chocolate and pink and Nextwave and more - in a way that's positively delicious. If you like your comics with rich servings of humour and absurdity and heart, this will be a feast to remember.

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9.0
West Coast Avengers (2018) #2

Sep 19, 2018

This is clearly a quieter comic than the max-volume introduction. The passionate engagement with the characters and the bottomless craziness of B.R.O.D.O.K. safely hold us miles away from boring, though. #2 expands the West Coast Avengers repertoire significantly and proves that much as we love land sharks, we can find plenty of compelling interest in this title without non-stop wackiness.

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7.0
West Coast Avengers (2018) #3

Oct 31, 2018

West Coast Avengers #3 forces readers to confront the fact that the team doesn't work so well (from an entertainment standpoint) without a fully-engaged Kate Bishop. Though the twist ending strongly suggests that Kate's rabbitting tendencies will be recognized and resolved in the next issue, a strong arc conclusion isn't going to retroactively elevate #3 to greatness.

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9.0
West Coast Avengers (2018) #5

Dec 5, 2018

West Coast Avengers #5 launches a brand-new story while demonstrating even more confidence in the title's strengths. Weird, wonderful, and fast-paced; this book scratches your itch for carefree fun while also inviting you to care deeply about its characters.

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9.0
What If? (2018): Thor #1

Oct 24, 2018

Thor's turn on the What If? wheel plays out quite impressively thanks to a thorough and thoughtful focus on his relationship with Loki. Clear, strong art and a script willing to park all its characters in between heroism and villainy create a fascinating world. This first glimpse is thoroughly satisfying, and more than many hypotheticals, this one cries out for further investigation.

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8.0
Winter Soldier (2018) #1

Dec 5, 2018

The Winter Soldier launches into his latest mission with noble goals and promising challenges. The script is playing it safe here at the start, but a noteworthy helping of passionate art saves this from any danger of falling down into the run of the mill. It's already rewarding, and future issues seem likely to get even stronger.

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9.0
X-23 (2018) #3

Aug 29, 2018

A strong script delivers tasty twists and scary revelations about the story. For sheer impact, though, the gold medal belongs to artist Juann Cabal today. Laura Kinney - or any superhero - couldn't ask for a bigger, bolder presentation of her abilities than the one delivered here. It's a blast to read, but it's also a pure pleasure to look at.

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8.0
X-23 (2018) #6

Nov 7, 2018

Though the plot of this one-shot is straightforward, it's built up with considerable charm and care. It's funny, thoroughly believable, and beautiful to look at. X-23 #6 is a palate-cleanser that makes an excellent interlude between heavier stories.

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9.0
X-23 (2018) #7

Dec 12, 2018

Spectacular art and a script with a clear, hard-boiled tone make X-23 #7 an absolute delight. Hopefully, the story will move into fresher territory as it unfolds, but the skill with which it's told is already impeccable. Don't miss out on this!

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7.0
X-Men: Black (2018): Magneto #1

Oct 3, 2018

This issue delivers a classic Claremont political statement. It demonstrates again (like there was any doubt!) that the mutant struggle is eternally relevant and applicable to our own world. The B story launches an ongoing Apocalypse tale in a rather dry way. Both strips get solid but unspectacular art. Overall, it's an entertaining book, but it falls well short of must-read territory.

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8.0
X-Men: Blue (2017) #32

Jul 25, 2018

It's an X-Men vs. Magneto fight of mythological proportions. The punchy zappy mechanics look decent, but for me, the true greatness is in the subtle, painful, complex portrait it paints of the villain. Teen Jean needs to get inside that exceptionally damaged head (with true empathy, not telepathy) and find out if there's anything left beyond villainy. It's a privilege to peek in with her.

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6.0
X-Men: Gold (2017) #23

Mar 7, 2018

Some surprisingly good art helps perk up a messy, aimless script in X-Men: Gold #23. The new story arc is not off to a strong start, surrendering too many pages to unwelcome foreshadowing and unproductive rehashing of dangling plot threads. This is both literally and metaphorically a rebuilding issue, but it makes such a thorough survey of the work that needs to be done that it doesn't get around to fixing anything up.

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6.0
X-Men: Gold (2017) Annual #1

Jan 10, 2018

Inconsistent tone and lukewarm overall quality make the main story a match (not in a good way) for the relentless mediocrity of the current X-Men: Gold run. A bouncing baby Braddock and a sweet B story don't do nearly enough to counterbalance the problematic script or to excuse the huge page-two spoiler. So my jokey suggestion from earlier becomes quite serious: Wait on this one until after Gold #22 comes out - or just skip it entirely.

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9.0
X-Men: Red (2018) #1

Feb 7, 2018

After a year of "meh" and qualified successes at best, Marvel has finally delivered on the ResurreXion promise. Jean Grey is back, and she's brought a classic "hero up and save the world" story with her. A character who took a graveyard end-run around the last shameful decade of X-History is the perfect choice to breathe fresh life into Xavier's dream and beat back the nightmares connected to it. It's going to be quite a ride, and you won't regret getting on board right at the start.

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8.0
X-Men: Red (2018) #2

Mar 7, 2018

After training in the Danger Room of All-New Wolverine for a few years, Tom Taylor has built up some formidable mutant storytelling muscles. It's a pleasure to see them hard at work as X-Men: Red storms out of the gate with a breathless pace and plenty of fascinating plot developments. Mahmud Asrar's sketchy but evocative art is a perfect complement to this fast story. While there are a few little missteps, this title is covering tons of distance and it still looks like a definite winner.

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8.0
X-Men: Red (2018) #10

Nov 7, 2018

A strong script piles up tremendous storm clouds in X-Men: Red #10. As stimulating as the ideas are, the visuals make it clear that those clouds aren't ready to burst yet. This issue does an excellent job of building tension and pushing the larger story forward. It lacks the artistic polish and decisive action it would need to be truly great on its own, though.

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8.0
You Are Deadpool #1

May 2, 2018

Play this book right and you get to see Kieron Gillen stab Deadpool with a sandwich. And that's just the tutorial for what we're still not legally allowed to call Choose Your Own Deadpool Adventure! Definitely not the deepest darkest Deadpool comic being published right now, but it's a remarkably strong contender for the funniest.

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