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411’s Comic Reviews: Cable #1, X-Men #8, More  

March 12, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Cable 1 2020

Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews (and previews) from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!  

Before we jump into things I wanted to give the great Mark McKenna’s Kickstarter some shine. While it doesn’t go live till March 1st, find him on social media and stay tuned for his Banana Tails project. As he says…

I created Banana Tail back in the late 1990s with my dear old departed dad and he’s never gotten to see that his son, me, developed his idea into a beloved children’s book series for those familiar with it. I started out submitting Banana Tail to staples in the children’s book market like Little Golden Books, Little, Brown, and Simon & Schuster and got very close to getting a contract with a few of them. It was eye-opening to say the least, but these “near misses” helped me realize I had something worthy.
If you click the link below there’s a 10 page preview of Banana Tail and the Checkerboard Jungle for you to sink your teeth into. You’ll be able to tell if this is a book for you.. or some child you know might enjoy it!~ Once again.. Thanks for looking!~

This is one project you won’t want to miss. 

Cable #1

By Jeremy Thomas

Cable has had a bit of a rough start in the Dawn of X era.  While the character has made no small number of appearances, he has been far from the most compelling character to follow.  That’s partially a side effect of the character’s major status quo change back in Extermination back in 2018 before Matthew Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men and the Age of X-Men arc that preceded Jonathan Hickman’s reinvention of the mutant books, when a younger version of Cable showed up and killed his older self for refusing to protect the timeline.  Whatever the reason, it’s resulted in a character who hasn’t had much personality — and what personality there was varied based on whether Hickman was writing him in X-Men or Bryan Edward Hill was writing him in Fallen Angels.

Based on all this, one might not think that Kid Cable would be at the top of the list for characters to get a solo book.  After all, if you can’t make your character one that people can invest in then there’s not much incentive to pick up a title centered on them.  But leave it to Gerry Duggan to reintroduce Kid Cable in Cable #1, “Big Guns,” as a character who is instantly the best of what we’ve seen before and then some.

With “Big Guns,” Duggan and artist Phil Noto immediately set out to reorient perceptions of who Kid Cable really is as a person. It would be false to say that this is a 180 degree turn from the character as we’ve seen him in the Dawn of X era.  Reverting back to the brash yet serious young adult we saw in Extermination and X-Force with no hint of what’s happened since would feel like a cheat. Instead, Duggan draws from the most interesting parts of all of these things to create a Cable who, at last, stands distinct from his older counterpart.  This Nathan Dayspring Askani’son Summers has all the attitude of his pre-Dawn of X iteration, but the youthful nature that being part of the Summers family at last has allowed him to be.

We see elements of the old Cable in this Kid Cable; he’s still quite competent in a fight, takes charge when the chips are down and thinks nothing of throwing himself in the line of fire for others.  That’s the genius of what Duggan’s done here, and it helps us look past an first issue where the story is kind of slight.  On his way out on a double date, Cable learns of a couple of the young kids who went somewhere they’re not supposed to and, with his dates Pixie and Armor coming along, sets out to rescue the kids from a monster.  This diversion leads to the set-up for an overarching plot that is an interesting choice, delving deep into Marvel continuity that some old-school fans will appreciate.

More interesting than the story is the way Duggan expands the world-building of Krakoa.  We get a few elements here and there like The Quarry, where mutants fight in gladiatorial style for kicks, and the expansion of a couple of minor characters here and there.  Better yet, it’s all brought wonderfully to life by Noto who has an aptitude for mixing in some fantastic action visual storytelling with patently ridiculous moments from Duggan’s script.  That, almost more than anything, seems fitting to this book.  Because whatever your thoughts on Kid Cable as a character, great action and ridiculousness often went hand in hand in old Cable’s stories.

Cable #1 ends, like all good first issues, with a real cliffhanger of a final page that promises to change everything for its titular character.  Without revealing too much, it’s a head-turning yet not unexpected development that is portrayed pretty perfectly by Duggan and Noto.  The Cable series is off to a good start and, assuming the story picks up on the promise laid out here, could quickly shoot its way up the ranks of the Dawn of X titles.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

X-Men #8

Review by Jeremy Thomas
Jonathan Hickman’s main X-Men series has served as an anthology series for the first eight issues, zipping from story to story in order to set up and build storyline threads for him to pick back up in the future.  It’s led to some really great moments and one or two not quite as good moments (no, I’m not letting go of Hordeculture as a problem until they prove me wrong).  Regardless of the occasional misstep, the main book has given Hickman ample opportunity to do self-contained issues that have stood on their own and tell different parts of the story of the Krakoa era of mutantkind.

As fun as it’s been, the anthology format has felt just about like it was nearing the end of its usefulness.  There’s more than enough plot threads out there now, and it’s frustrating for the read to see so many unfinished arcs out there with only the promise that they’ll be followed up on.  That Hickman sensed said format’s time was short is a sign of his credit, as X-Men #9, “Swarm” kicks off an arc that will be followed up on next issue.  Hickman said at C2E2 that the book would be shifting to an ongoing book soon, and with his first such story he reaches deep into the X-Men’s past to pull out one of their most iconic
villainous races in The Brood.

“Swarm” is an issue from Hickman that forgives the uneven dueling structure of New Mutants’ first several issues, making that book better by extension.  The main team’s return back from Shi’ar space comes with the King Egg that they acquired for the Starjammers right along with them, which summons the parasatic race en masse to try and take it.  The tale allows Hickman to bring in some newer young X-Men and some old plot Marvel threads like War of Kings – in which Cyclops and Havok’s brother Vulcan figured in prominently – to set up some big things to come.
Hickman is joined by Mahmud Asrar on art for this book, with color art by Sunny Gho.  The art team really cuts loose on this book in fantastic fashion, from the horror of the Brood’s nature as parasites to some chaotic action sequences that fill the page and make innovative use of some of the X-Men’s power sets.  It adds plenty of excitement to this opening act, while Hickman takes a hell of a leap into what seems like a far-reaching storyline, one that could have implications for the upcoming Marvel-wide Empyre event not to mention potentially resonating throughout the rest of the Dawn of X line.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

New Mutants #9

Review by Jeremy Thomas
After a pretty solid start, it’s fair to say that New Mutants lost its footing over the last several issues. The concept was good, but the alternating story structure and a couple of rough story moves led to the series lagging well behind the other Dawn of X books.  The previous issue was Ed Brisson’s attempt to wrap up some lingering plot threads from his own arc, freeing him up to tell his own story by combining elements of the two teams into a new mix of mutants with a mission in front of them in issue #9, “Something Rotten In…”

Brisson’s previous arc saw him and artist Flaviano trying to fit their styles into a box that seemed ill-defined for them.  Freed of those constraints, the two open up their world a bit and have a lot more freedom to express themselves as Dani, Karma, Boom-Boom, Chamber, and Magma head to the former Soviet state of Carnelia to investigate a mutant call for help.  Carnelia is one of the nations that is not friendly to Krakoa, putting the team in a potentially difficult spot. Meanwhile, Ilyana finds the New Mutants’ recent actions questioned by the Quiet Council, specifically the actions of Armor’s team in trying to rescue Beak and Angel.  Neither goes exactly the way their instigators intend.

Above all, this new arc allows Brisson to get deep into his characters, and he instantly captures more of the original New Mutants’ voice than Jonathan Hickman did in his story.  Ilyana’s conversation with Cyclops puts her right back in a position of strength and Brisson gets a better grasp of Dani, Karma, and Doug, all of whom were left a bit more in the background in Hickman’s run in favor of Sunspot and Cannonball.  His mix of the two teams results in some wonderful interactions.

Meanwhile, the mission to Carnelia allows Flaviano to really cut loose in a way that he hasn’t been able to on this book yet.  The mission takes a deep dive into nightmarish imagery, and that kind of stuff appears to be right up his alley.  This is a cohesive, straight-forward issue that gives all of its characters a chance to shine and sets up a plot that seems far more interesting to follow than what the book has offered so far.  Through Doug and Mondo, Brisson and Flaviano also get to explore other areas of the Sextant which is the area of Krakoa where the younger mutant teams live.  That results in a really fun scene with some callback characters who should work into the plot going forward in interesting ways.

There is still some narrative awkwardness in this book, to be fair. Brisson has a few last things to push aside from the old run; it’s hard for him to ignore how wasted Chamber and Mondo were in the space arc, for example, and he’s not entirely successful in seamlessly sweeping that away.  And while Flaviano’s art is very good in the more abstract sequences, some of the more down to earth scenes contain lifeless faces that are glaring compared to the more expressive characters he seems to enjoy drawing more (such as Boom-Boom).  Still, those are minor flaws and all in all, “Something Rotten In…” is a hefty improvement over the last few lackluster issues.

Rating: 7.5 out 10

Jo & Rus

Preview by Steve Gustafson
BOOM! Studios revealed a first look at cartoonist and illustrator Audra Winslow’s debut middle grade graphic novel, JO & RUS, an all-new story about two unlikely best friends who learn to roll with the punches when life doesn’t go their way and to stand their ground, no matter the cost, available in September 2020.

At first, Jo and Rus don’t realize how much they have in common – she’s a middle schooler who’s constantly bullied and he’s a high schooler in a rock band. But when a mysterious one-eyed cat brings the two of them together, they quickly learn they’re both outcasts trying to figure out what they really want from life in a world where the odds are stacked against them. It’s only by becoming friends they discover who they are, who they want to be and what it takes for every one of us to find our own happiness!

Heavy Vinyl: Y2K-O

Preview by Steve Gustafson 
BOOM! Studios revealed a brand new look at HEAVY VINYL: Y2K-O! This original graphic novel, available in stores March 2020, reunites the acclaimed team of filmmaker and writer Carly Usdin (The Avant-Guards), artist Nina Vakueva (League of Legends: Ashe – Warmother), inker Irene Flores, colorist Natalia Nesterenko, and letterer Jim Campbell for a brand-new adventure with the music store crew—and secret fight club—of HEAVY VINYL.

Your favorite girl gang is back and on the brink of a new millennium! It’s the summer of 1999, and while the staff of Vinyl Destination is dealing with growing up and getting out into the world, the tension over Y2K is mounting into an all-out panic! Can this group of music-loving vigilantes balance their work lives with their dating lives, prevent the total collapse of modern society, AND save the world in time to celebrate the new millenium?! Only one way to find out!

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance #7

Preview by Steve Gustafson
BOOM! Studios revealed a first look at JIM HENSON’S THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE, a twelve-issue comic book series based on stories from writers Jeffrey Addis and Will Matthews, of the critically acclaimed Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.  The series introduces untold histories of key characters from the show, and feature explosive events tying into the award-winning series from The Jim Henson Company, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

In JIM HENSON’S THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE #7, available in stores March 2020, writer Adam Cesare, artist French Carlomagno, and letterer Jim Campbell present the story of fan favorite Hup and brand-new character Barfinnious.

After some hard times on the road, Paladin-turned-bard Barfinnious and his noble Podling squire Hup finally get to relax and enjoy their hero’s welcome at a festive Spriton village. But a mysterious Beast is lurking in the shadows, threatening the lives of the Gelfling villagers. What should be a simple fight for a former Paladin soon turns dangerous, and the truth behind Barfinnious’ grift begins to emerge.

The Dark Crystal is the groundbreaking 1982 film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, featuring never-before-seen puppetry in a fantasy adventure about a young Gelfling who embarks on a quest to save his world from the vicious Skeksis by restoring the lost shard of the broken dark crystal. A prequel television series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, premiered on Netflix on August 30, 2019, to rave reviews and expands the canon and legacy of this epic universe.

That’s all the time we have. Tell us what you’re reading below and see you back here next week! You can now find our reviews on!