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411’s Comic Reviews: House of X #3, Year of the Villain: Black Mask #1, More

August 29, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
House of X #3

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]!

House of X #3

Review by Jeremy Thomas

Not every part of a story has to be narrative-shaking or mind-blowing in its revelations. In fact, the truth of the matter is that you can’t have that happen. As a story expands and develops, there invariably must be some sections that, while hopefully great by their own standards, will less flashy and more directed toward setting the table for the meals about to come. Too much feasting, to continue the metaphor, will leave you with a stomachache.

That brings us to House of X #3. It’s fair to say that Jonathan Hickman’s reseating of Marvel’s mutants has been a top-notch story so far, going places and directions that most traditional superhero comics don’t. Every issue has contained some major revelation (or several) that has re-oriented the way we’ve looked at the X-Men. This is the first issue in the two-series event that doesn’t necessarily do that. Hickman and Pepe Larraz tell the most traditional superhero part of their story to date.

For some, that may be a disappointment. But it advances the narrative of this storyline in necessary ways, and the key here is how the story is told. In many ways, this feels like a classic X-Men story in every way that counts. There are Sentinels, space missions, friction but camaraderie between teammates, politics and discussion of power dynamics between homo sapiens and homo superior. As with all these issues, the callbacks are constant but never clumsy. The familiar moments are less Easter eggs than they are naturally recurring motifs.

The other key to this story is characterization. Hickman and Larraz’ work highlight the characters we’ve all come to know and love and while they feel true and authentic, we can also see some differences that show how the new status quo with Krakoa and the world stage has changed people. Xavier in particular continues to have an off-putting, ominous feel to him that reads as intentional on Hickman’s part. Emma Frost and Sabretooth feature in a scene that contains one of the standout lines of the issue (from Emma, of course) and where good old Victor Creed feels like himself for the first time in a long, long time.

The two also manage to make the human antagonists that we encounter on the space mission relatable, interesting and even sympathetic. That’s something the X-Men line sometimes has a spotty record on doing; there are a lot of megalomaniacal psychos among in the history of anti-Mutant sentiment in the Marvel Universe. It’s always nice to see the more shaded areas of that side get a spotlight.

The art for this issue from Larraz and Marte Gracia differs from the previous House of X issues in a few key ways. Notably, this issue is a lot visually darker in sections. It nicely establishes the different environment of space and serves to cast a someone concerning pall on some of our heroes. Larraz’ ability to show character through perspective and expression is on display, nowhere clearer than the Emma/Sabretooth scene where Creed looms like a force of nature, and Emma’s stylish force of personality carries the day. I find myself enjoying the contrasts between Larraz’ art on House of X and R. B. Silva’s on Powers of X more and more as the series goes on; this one is no different.

House of X #3 ends on a cliffhanger, although not one I think a lot of people will be too nervous over. It’s a big ending to an issue that is less splashy than its predecessors, but just as needed for the story. It’s not always about delivering a shocking reveal on every page; it’s about making each part of the story, like Wolverine, the best at what it does. And in terms of telling a necessary chapter that sets up more to come while delivering great character moments and good art, House of X #3 delivers on that level.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Atar Gull

Preview by Steve Gustafson

Atar Gull is a prince among his people – until he is kidnapped by the ruthless Captain Brulart. Shipped to Jamaica and sold like livestock, he suffers pain, loss, and humiliation – but Atar Gull is a patient man, and his revenge will be served cold indeed.

A new story from Fabien Nury, award-winning writer of best-selling graphic novels The Death of Stalin and Tyler Cross, with striking art from Bruno.

Perfect for fans of Django Unchained!

Bury the Lede

Preview by Steve Gustafson

BOOM! Studios revealed a new look at BURY THE LEDE, a new original graphic novel from New York Times bestselling author Gaby Dunn (Bad with Money, I Hate Everyone But You) and artist Claire Roe (Batgirl and The Birds of Prey), with colors by Miquel Muerto (Strange Skies Over East Berlin), which arrives in stores October 2019.

Inspired by Dunn’s own experiences as a young reporter at The Boston Globe, BURY THE LEDE is a thrilling story about a young reporter’s search for truth leading her down a dark path as she goes toe-to-toe with a potential killer.

Cub reporter Madison Jackson is young, scrappy, and hungry to prove that she deserves her coveted college internship at the premier newspaper in town, The Boston Lede, where she dreams of a career-making headline. So when her police scanner mentions a brutal murder tied to a prominent Boston family, Madison races to the crime scene, looking for the scoop of the century.

What she finds instead is the woman who’ll change her life forever: Dahlia Kennedy, a celebrity socialite covered in blood and the prime suspect in the murder of her husband and child. When Madison is the only person Dahlia will speak to, everything rides on the untested shoulders of this young journalist who sinks ever deeper into the dark, twisted landscape of the city’s hidden circles of crime, corruption, and privilege in order to discover the truth.

Mary Shelley Monster Hunter #5

Preview by Steve Gustafson

Mary and her Monster Hunters take on Adam and his creature, walking away victorious. But when Mary returns to London, she discovers the fight is far from over, and now it’s personal.

Brought to life by Adam Glass (ROUGH RIDERS, THE NORMALS, THE LOLLIPOP KIDS) and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs (TV’s The Arrangement) with art by Hayden Sherman (COLD WAR, The Few, Wasted Space), MARY SHELLEY MONSTER HUNTER is historical fiction at its most (After) shocking!

Year of the Villain: Black Mask #1

Review by John Pumpernickel

Black Mask has been one of the more better done villains who have come along recently and has plenty left to become one of the more memorable bad guys in the DC universe.

DC’s ‘Year of the Villain’ hasn’t garnered the buzz I feel it deserves but it’s been a solid ride in reminding us of what lurks in the shadows and boosting them for future exploits. Black Mask gets a nice origin issue and ramps things up so by the time you come to the end, things have really made a turn for the worse…for the DC universe!

Writer Tom Taylor and artist Cully Hamner really impressed me with this issue, taking the story to places that the character Black Mask can really shine. Gritty, scary, and someone to take notice of.

Plenty of event issues crowd the rack but this is one book worth picking up.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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