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411’s Comic Reviews: Powers of X #1, Green Lantern Annual #1, More

August 1, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Powers of X #1 Image Credit: Marvel Comics

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]!

Powers of X #1

Review by Steve Gustafson

“See Jeremy’s review below. He nails it. I’m still processing it but…wow. This is the most excited I’ve been for the X-Men in years. Many years.

Powers of X #1

Review by Jeremy Thomas

Last week, Jonathan Hickman launched the latest era of X-Men with House of X #1. It was a daring, high-concept story that heralded a new age for our mutant heroes and was invested with something the X-Men rarely have a chance to dare feel: hope. However, House of X is just one of two comic miniseries that will bring the new age to pass, along with Powers of X. Where the former comic is redefining the present for Marvel’s mutant population, Powers of X is somehow even more ambitious. Not content with shaking up Marvel’s present, Hickman uses this second book to recontextualize the past while creating a whole new future that we see play out a century and even a millennium after the fact.

Powers of X takes the scenes we read in House of X and lets them breathe for the moment. Aside from a brief excursion to follow up on one part of last week’s issue, there is no linear storyline thread between the two books. Instead, Hickman looks back to Xavier’s early days: Year One, or “The Dream” as it calls it. (For those keeping track, the current year is Year Ten: “The World.”) We get what has been described in marketing as “The most important scene in the history of the X-Men,” but we don’t linger there long. Hickman is more interested in this first issue in exploring the future: Year One Hundred (“The War”) and Year One Thousand (“Ascension.”)

These are, obviously, vague. There’s plenty of tease here, some interesting reveals, but few concrete answers. That makes sense for a first issue of a miniseries, even when that first issue is the second issue of the full storyline. Hickman has always been interested in the long game and this, like House of X, is just beginning to set the table. But there’s still a lot to enjoy. We get a new character in Year One Hundred who has been shown in a lot of the marketing. She’s a badass, and I certainly look forward to getting more time with her. Hickman’s beloved infographs and fact sheets that serve as scene bumpers lay out tantalizing details of the future, which is the sort of future that is familiar to X-Men fans but with new details and characters I for one appreciate.

Hickman’s work in this issue may not be as warmly received by some as House of X was. It’s perhaps less overtly accessible to new fans, for one. Where House of X established an exciting status quo, Powers of X is more oblique with its journeys far into the future. But it still contains everything that is essential to the X-Men. The Dream? Check. Future dystopia? Check. Grand Designs? Damn skippy. Mutant-hunting robots? You’ve got it, and one of them is entirely too much like a Dudebro be anything but utterly delightful. There are enough plot hooks to keep fans intrigued, even the ones that might be a little lost. Hickman has always been a writer who has asked for a bit of patience with his readers, and there’s nothing suggesting we won’t be rewarded here.

The art in Powers of X is, to put it simply, pretty great. R.B. Silva provides the line work, with colors by Marte Gracia (who also colors the other book). While Silva’s images are a bit less striking and more typical of superhero comics than Pepe Larraz, they’re a great fit for the story being told. The character design work is flawless, and the big action sequence is filled with energy and excitement.

There was a regularly used quote in Hickman’s Avengers run leading up to Secret Wars: “Everything dies.” It was a recurring flashback to a speech from Reed Richards, and it served to herald the end of that iteration of the Marvel Universe. While we don’t see that line in Powers of X #1, the sentiment is seeded throughout the book. The hope implied in House of X had a somewhat ominous edge to it, as if something wasn’t quite right. Powers of X reinforces the idea that it won’t last – not too surprising, really. It’s the yin to the other book’s yang, reflecting the constant duality of the X-Men franchise of tragedy and hope. While I suspect that House of X will be the more universally popular of the two books for this new arc thanks to the familiar characters and singular timeline thus far, I’m just as excited to see where into the future (and past) Powers of X takes us from here.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Ryuko #1

Preview by Steve Gustafson

Ryuko is part of Titan’s Hard Case Crime comics imprint, whose recent publications include Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and Quarry’s War written by Road to Perdition author Max Allan Collins, Triggerman by visionary director Walter Hill (The Warriors), Peepland, by crime novelists Christa Faust and Gary Phillips, a new adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Normandy Gold by crime authors Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin, and Babylon Berlin, a graphic novel adaptation of the book that inspired the TV show currently showing on Netflix.

Volition Vol. 1: Artificial Lives TPB

Preview by Steve Gustafson

In a not-too-distant future, artificial intelligence has spawned a race of robots that serve all of humanity. Robots are considered second class citizens, but a few in the A.I. community are fighting back in a constant struggle for equal rights.

When a debilitating virus called “Rust” threatens all artificial life, salvation lies in the most unlikely of robotic heroes — not a warrior or a solider, but an obsolete construction worker and a dedicated caregiver. Together, HALE-19 and AMBER-7T embark on a perilous journey in search of a cure that could potentially change the balance of power on Earth forever.

From writer Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers, OBERON, Star Trek, Batman: Gates of Gotham) and new artist sensations Omar Francia (Star Wars, Mass Effect) and Marco Itri (Grimm Fairy Tales) comes an epic quest into a dazzling future world told through the lens of AfterShock Comics! Volume one contains issues #1-6.

Tinseltown: Director’s Cut

Preview by Steve Gustafson

In 1915, Abigail Moore became one of the first female police officers in Hollywood. But beneath the glamorous surface of Tinseltown beats a rotten heart full of corruption, greed, and lies, and Abigail’s about to dive head-first into all of it.

This edition collects issues #1-5 and also contains never-before-seen content!

Green Lantern Annual #1

Review by Steve Gustafson

Do comic book annuals still matter anymore? When I was growing up, my eyes would like up when I saw an annual for a book I followed on the new books rack. It usually meant a bigger book with a different creative and some cool extras. In reality it was an excuse to make extra money on a commissioned story that never saw print, throwing in a reprint, some sketches, and charging a little extra to make it seem special.

Over the years annuals have lost their luster and a worthy one is few and far between. Green Lantern Annual #1 is close but never gets to that “must have” level.

That’s not to say it’s a bad issue from Grant Morrison and Giuseppe Camuncoli. It’s just one that could have been folded into the regular series in some form.

The write up has potential:

“A Green Lantern tradition is reborn when the annual Jordan family reunion takes a turn for the bizarre, leaving Hal and his nearest and dearest on the front line of a terrifying invasion from an impossible reality that’s closer than you think! There’s only one way for intergalactic lawman Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan to prevent the ultra-crime of the millennium-but what will be the outcome when Green Lantern takes on a young superhero sidekick? And who will it be? Also featuring an incredible guest appearance by the strangest Lantern of all-you must not miss THE GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL!”

It’s a solid story with an old school feel to it that’s fun but ultimately a forgettable ride. It’s one of those books that’s made for reading in the backseat of the car while your family is driving to the beach and after you’re done reading it you leave it at the beach house for the next guest to peruse.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

Flash #75

Review by John Pumpernickel

I remember the days when The Flash was a guaranteed buy from me. Mark Waid’s run is still among my favorite and elevated the character in my eyes. Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Howard Porter haven’t reached that level…yet but The Flash #75 is a solidly great read.

A word on Howard Porter. I used to not be a fan. His early work didn’t appeal to me and felt too stark for the stories he was doing. I can gladly say that he’s evolved and his art feels more complete, especially with the Flash. He’s a good fit and brings the action scenes to life with sizzle.

This issue brings “The Flash Year One” to a close and does it with pizzazz! Plenty of action and character building moments along with a couple of surprises and sets up some interesting future storylines.

While it will be easy to wait for his to be collected and read it in one swoop, this is a nice issue to pick up if you’ve been away for a while and need to be reminded how cool the Flash can be.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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