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411’s Comic Reviews: Powers of X #6, WWE Smackdown #1, More  

October 10, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Powers of X #6

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 #6

Review by Jeremy Thomas

It’s been quite the achievement that Jonathan Hickman and his collaborators have done with the House of X and Powers of X series. In eleven issues and eleven weeks, the team of Hickman, R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Tom Muller, and Marte Gracia (among others) have successfully reinvigorated the X-Men by building on what Matthew Rosenberg and the Age of X-Man team set up, laying out a new and exciting future for the X-Men line.  There have been plenty of questions raised and more than a few big mysteries that fans have been very busy trying to figure out as we lead into next week’s Dawn of X relaunch of the various X-Books.

And after those eleven weeks, the end is finally here with Powers of X. There was still plenty of uncertainty about certain elements of the HoX/PoX storyline coming into this issue. What is the X^3 timeline all about, and how does it connect to the greater arc?  Where’s Moira been in the current timeline?  How exactly is all this going to work heading into a host of ongoing series that will, assumedly, collide more regularly with the rest of the Marvel Universe?

Hickman gives us most of those answers in Powers of X #6. I wrote in my review of Powers of X #5 a couple of weeks ago that the 1,000 years ahead timeline was difficult to care about because its part in the overall arc wasn’t clear. I also said I had faith in Hickman, and he proves that faith justified. There are answers about what the Phalanx stuff means, and it plays into Moira’s plans in a big way. Much like House of X #2 was primarily a Moira issue, this closer of the arc also leans heavily on our game-changing mutant in ways that contextualizes everything we’ve seen before.

There’s an interesting debate going on in X-Men fandom about whether Hickman has positioned the X-Men and their new nation as a villainous group. There’s a lot of nuance to this, but it’s hard for me to agree. The various leaders of teams in the X-Men books have always had secret plans, plots, motivations and machinations.  That’s the case whether we’re talking about outright villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister, ones that straddle the line more like Mystique and Emma Frost, or the more noble-to-so-called “saintly” ones such as Magneto, Xavier, and even Cyclops.  There’s a reason that “Grand Design” is a term strongly associated with the in-character architects of Marvel’s mutants, and that doesn’t make them evil.

There are several points in this issue where Hickman makes it clear that the new leadership aren’t ready to admit the truth of everything — mostly all the past realities that Moira lived — to everyone else.  But they also draw clear distinctions between themselves and the more villainous members of the council.  How exactly that will play out and whether Xavier and Magneto’s acts will come back to haunt them is anyone’s guess, but there are more than enough cracks in their perfect plan to make that likely.

Seen through one lens, Powers of X #6 can be viewed as perhaps an underwhelming close to the story.  Nothing is “resolved” in the traditional manner, and several sequences are retellings of points in other books.  But that is at the very core of what Hickman has been doing here.  HoX/PoX has been very open about how it is recontextualizing the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, and the sequences here do the same to those moments we saw in previous pages of this arc. The goal of this is not to close out the storyline, because this is far from the end of Hickman’s vision.  Dawn of X is merely the next step, and this issue — titled, interestingly enough, “House of X” after its companion miniseries — lays down what last groundwork is needed for that in an elegant manner.

As usual, there are not enough good things that can be said about the art in this arc.  Silva’s pencils and inks are deeply expressive and set the characters in visceral, evocative locations given life by Gracia and David Curiel’s coloring work (mostly Curiel’s; Gracia’s is mostly the flashback pages).  Tom Muller’s contribution largely comes in the juicy pages of Moira’s journal in which she details how she shaped Xavier and Magneto’s paths since Year One.  These pages touch on some important events in X-Men history like the appearance of Apocalypse, the birth of Proteus and Legion, and the events of the 1991 “Mutant Genesis” arc of the relaunched X-Men book.  It’s fascinating to see how this all played out from Moira’s standpoint and reshapes some of these incredibly major moments without making Moira someone who did everything right.

In truth, Powers of X #6 is less of a climax to the story than the denouement.  Last week’s House of X #6 was the true climax in the final establishment of the mutant nation and the celebration that followed.  With this book, we learn what pitfalls and risks come next, and as we leap into the Dawn of X things are just as exciting for X-Men fans as they’ve been throughout these two conjoined books.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Preview by Steve Gustafson

BOOM! Studios announced the new original graphic novel BEAR—from Ben Queen, writer of Pixar’s Cars 2 and Cars 3 and creator of NBC television show A to Z, and children’s book author and illustrator Joe Todd-Stanton (A Mouse Called Julian), comes an all new adventure about making your way in the world with a little help from your friends.

Bear is a guide dog who loves looking out for his owner, Patrick. When they’re together, they make a great team, and Patrick feels like he can do anything! But one day, Bear’s vision suddenly vanishes and he also becomes blind. If he wants to stay by Patrick’s side, he feels he must do the impossible—find a way to regain his eyesight. When Bear hears about a magical spirit in the forest who could help, he embarks on an epic adventure that takes him from wild woodlands to busy city streets, where he meets new friends and learns to navigate new challenges, all while searching for his way back to his best friend.

Ben Queen was the creator and executive producer of the NBC half-hour comedies A to Z and Powerless. He previously wrote the Disney-Pixar films Cars 2 and Cars 3 as well as creating and executive producing the Fox action drama Drive.

“With BEAR I really wanted to create something that shows a world that we are familiar with, but in a completely new and original way. Joe Todd-Stanton’s illustrations take that unique lens and add a whole new level of imagination and joy,” said writer Ben Queen. “BEAR is a wonder-filled adventure about the deep bond of friendship. Plus talking animals! I guarantee you will not see the world the same way after you’ve seen it through the eyes of Bear.”

Joe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and was taught how to draw by his mum. He has since been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Bloomsbury publishing and Penguin Random House. He has also written and illustrated his own series of books called Brownstone’s Mythical Collection.

“Bear’s story is an emotional roller coaster that brings to mind those great self-discovery adventure movies from the ‘80s like Stand by Me or The Goonies, except this story has evil raccoons and a dog the size of an American black bear—what’s not to love?!” said artist Joe Todd-Stanton. 

Robotech Remix #1
Preview by Steve Gustafson

Robotech is reborn from the ashes of Event Horizon! New writer Brenden Fletcher (Motorcrush, Isola) and artist Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron, Marvel Mangaverse) boot up Robotech: Remix, an all-new series that will take beloved characters and iconic mecha to places fans have never seen before.

Preview by Steve Gustafson

IDW Publishing is proud to announce that John Layman, award-winning creator of the New York Times bestselling Chew series, and superstar artist Nick Bradshaw (Wolverine and the X-Men) will debut a new creator-owned comic book series in 2020, entitled Bermuda.

“Bermuda is a story that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and the type of book I’ve wanted to write for quite some time: high adventure with a jungle hero in a strange, savage land filled with all kinds of dangers and a world that’s both weird and wonderful,” says Layman. “In addition to Chew, my absolute favorite books I’ve ever done have been with IDW – Scarface, Godzilla, and Mars Attacks – so I’m hoping lightning strikes a fourth time with Bermuda!”

Bermuda is just your normal, everyday 16-year old girl – who just happens to live in an otherworldly dimension, swarming with dinosaurs and pirates! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this action-packed saga as we discover just who Bermuda is and how she came to be!

“I’m excited to be working on Bermuda,” says Bradshaw. “John is giving me thrilling stories full of adventure and suspense — so much so, I don’t know if I can do them justice, but I’m sure as hell going to try!”

Layman adds, “Nick Bradshaw is an insane talent whose work I’ve been in love with since the moment I’d laid eyes on it, so I’m thrilled to be teamed up with him. Plus, I’m getting a chance to reunite with my old boss and good friend, the Eisner-award accumulating editor extraordinaire, Scott Dunbier.”

Powers of X #6

Review by Andrew Dang
IG: DvngAndrew 

This final issue is difficult to rate, because despite having plenty of intrigue and revelation, I still found myself wanting a bit more from this giant-sized concluding chapter. Admittedly, this may be a fault of my own expectations rather than the creative team, but overall I feel more of a crescendo was warranted here, especially after the heights reached towards the middle of the series.

Issue 6 is once again exposition heavy, and though it’s interesting to see the establishment of Krokoa, I’m growing weary of mutant politics. Give me more X-Men action, please. Furthermore, the focus on Xavier, Moira and to some degree Magneto is also at the expense of the other characters who barely get any page time or dialogue. Where’s Kitty Pryde? Colossus? Gambit? Rogue? I know that there are a plethora of titles on the way, but for now its a bit frustrating to know these characters are sitting in the shadows, just out of reach of such a talented writer.

Nonetheless, issue six delivers plenty to wrap your head around, and I’m still fascinated by every step as Hickman plays the long game. As we bridge the gap to the next set of storylines, hopefully we get to see more of our mutant roster, as well as clearer answers to these mysteries Hickman has weaved, and though this issue slightly underwhelmed, I am no less excited for what comes next.

“Is what we have perfect? No. What is?

But it’s a start-and a good one.”

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

WWE Smackdown #1

Review by John Pumpernickel 

Wrestling is seemingly going through an evolution and resurgence, at least for the hardcore wrestling fans at this point. With WWE ramping up RAW Smackdown, and NXT to counter upstart surges from AEW, fans have plenty to choose from. That’s not including other options like IMPACT, NWA Powerrr, ROH, NJPW…well, you get the picture. Odds are, there is something out there for everyone. 

When it comes to comic books, wrestling comics are a mixed bag when it comes to story and art quality. BOOM! Studios seems to have found a solid blueprint and WWE Smackdown #1 is a solid book for both wrestling and comic books fans.

To be fair, it pays to be both when reading this issue. 

The issue features Becky “The Man” Lynch’s journey through WWE and it’s a bold move to go all in with Lynch. One has to think this issue was put together months ago and in the ever changing world of wrestling, one can never be too sure where a character will be in the public eye. Yes, Lynch is popular among the fans but they could have spread things about to lessen any blow if she had been injured or taken a cooling down in approval. 

The flow of the art and story are a little off but nothing too distracting. Writer Kevin Panetta and the art team of Kendall Goode and Serg Acuña hit all the right notes in introducing her to the reader and why we should care. 
A thumbs up from me and a nice addition to mark a great time to be a wrestling (and comic book) fan. 

Rating: 8.0 out of 10 

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