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411’s Comic Reviews: X-Men #4, Marauders #5, More  

January 2, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
X-Men #4

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]!  

X-Men #4

Review by Jeremy Thomas

It feels strange to say, but among the Dawn of X relaunches, the core title X-Men has felt like the most “off” of all the X-books. That’s not to say it’s been a bad title; Fallen Angels has been much less satisfying, for example, and Jonathan Hickman gave us some solid stories in the first couple of issues (and an okay one in issue #3).  But the title’s anthology nature has meant that it’s been unable to nail down its identity, something that Marauders, Excalibur, X-Force, New Mutants, and even Fallen Angels have been quite good at doing.

The problem has been slightly compounded by the way that Hickman and artist Leinil Francis Yu have backed away somewhat from the X-Men metaplot established in House of X and Powers of X.  While we’ve spent time with the Summers Clan, seen Krakoa merge with its fellow island Arakko, and watched the team encounter evil botanists, the greater sense of Krakoa as a mutant nation has been given a slower burn in this series.

X-Men #4, “Global Economics,” changes that. With Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse (aka •┤Ȧ├•) meeting with world leaders at the World Economic Summit, Hickman goes right back to what Krakoa means to not only mutantkind, but the greater Marvel universe at large.  The results are one that clarifies Krakoa’s intentions further and gives the three leaders a chance to shine, while their security team of Cyclops and Gorgon find an opportunity to keep themselves busy at the same time.

Geopolitics is not something Marvel has always portrayed well, particularly in X-Men.  It’s not hard to remember back in the days when the United Nations essentially gifted a then-evil Magneto the nation of Genosha to stop him from raining havoc (general destruction, not Alex Summers) on the world.  And that’s nothing compared to stories like the most recent Secret Empire.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.  Superhero comics, while they are undoubtedly sociopolitical, become restrained by their own conceits when holding themselves to a tight level of political realism. And indeed, “Global Economics” doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling title in a book about men with eye lasers and magnetic powers with dubious levels of versatility.  Hickman manages to pull it off nicely though, keeping this distilled down to a six-on-six discussion between the aforementioned trio and delegates from the U.S., China and Wakanda.

The talks are less about trade particulars than they are a chance for Hickman to play up the tensions between the rest of the world and Krakoa.  In doing so, he gives all three mutants a chance to shine as they lay out the new reality in a way that goes beyond the initial (reluctant) world acceptance of Krakoa. These discussions reestablish the fact that mutants are in a position of power now, which is important after several attacks on Krakoa and its citizens in the Dawn of X.  They also let Hickman and Yu do more to lay down the motives of Xavier and Magneto in particular. Magneto gets to do most of the talking, and he really shines in speeches that play to his strengths.  Xavier is quieter, but the times that he speaks gives a much clearer look at how he reconciles his dream with the new status quo.

Yu’s work on X-Men thus far has been fine while not necessarily excelling.  He captures character well, but the images have been a touch static at times.  An issue like this – which is, essentially, a “talking heads” issue intercut with a requisite but well-used action sequence – plays more to Yu’s strengths.  His art captures the essence of men and women in power talking amidst their ivory tower well, allowing the tension and menace to play out in subtle shifts of expression and Hickman’s words.

“Global Economics” ends without much being specifically decided, but there is a clear line drawn in the sand by the final page. While there is a minor sense of redundancy here – much of what Magneto says echoes his words in House of X #1 – it also gives the Krakoans a chance to stand firm in the face of some of the setbacks they’ve suffered like Xavier’s assassination in X-Force.  That refusal to back down in the face of adversity is one of the most essential traits of X-Men, and it allows this issue to give X-Men its momentum back as one of Marvel’s books with top of the line potential.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Marauders #5

Review by Jeremy Thomas

Since its first issue, Marauders has kept its spot at the top of the Dawn of X heap.  Gerry Duggan has been having a blast telling the Hellfire Trading Company’s story, using the first four issues to set up the organization and establish the character dynamics.  With all of that out of the way, Duggan and Matteo Lolli use issue #5 to push their narrative forward, setting the various colors of the company (Black, Red, and White) on their paths and giving us our first look of how things will really be working under the King and Queens of the HTC.

Duggan has been careful in putting the dominos in place up to now, which is what makes it so satisfying to see him start knocking them down in sequence.  The time spent establishing the power structure and dynamics between Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost and Kate Pryde in particular has been entertaining in its own right, but it also makes the interplay between them as they encounter their first major issues that much richer. Similarly, the establishment last issue of the previous youthful Hellfire Club – Kade Kilgore and his group – as threats was time well spent, as we learn a little bit more about their plans this issue.

All of that is meant to mean that “A Time to Sow” – a reference to the bible verse (and the Pete Seeger song that was inspired by it) is aptly named.  “Sow” is a specific word often used in the phrase “sow dissent,” which several people are trying to do here.  Duggan has Christian Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Kilgore’s group – named Homines Verendi – and others doing their best to break up unity among the Marauders, whether with ill intent or not.

The story of the issue, involving some Inner Circle discussions and a trip to Madripoor that goes sideways, gives Duggan and Lolli a chance to really give the character dynamics a workout.  The continuing alliance of Emma and Kate gets a bit more depth here, while we learn more about why Iceman and Storm are on the team – a necessary development, as they’ve both felt a little shallow in the book in one of its few minor flaws.  Duggan even gives the mysterious X-Desk man, who has appeared only in Tom Muller’s charts, a little bit of welcome and surprising character depth.

The book is done several favors by Lolli’s art, which continues to give the story a sense of fun and adventure with its more cartoonish linework than some of the other books.  Colorist Federico Bree has thankfully found his footing at last with Storm and Bishop, eliminating the last major quibble to be had with the book.

“A Time to Sow” sets up plenty still to come – there’s a real question of Shaw’s loyalty, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him working with Homines Verendi to hurt his rivals in Kate and Emma.  And the final page has a big reveal of two villains with a definite theme to them and a sense of utter ridiculousness that fits the book.  The deeper we get into this series, the more fun and exciting it seems to become.  I haven’t enjoyed reading a single X-Book as much as this one in a long time, and it looks like there’s still plenty of fun to come.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Solo: The Survivor of Chaos HC

Preview by Steve Gustafson

Mutant animals have claimed a world ravaged by radiation, and the rat warrior Solo must prove his might in the wastes!

Empyre #1

Preview by Steve Gustafson 

Just last week, INCOMING #1 planted the seeds for the earth-shattering event of 2020, EMPYRE! In this spectacular one-shot, readers witnessed the Kree and the Skrull unite under a new Emperor and set course for Earth. With a massive war fleet approaching, the Avengers and Fantastic Four team up for 2020 in April’s EMPYRE but will their combined strength be enough to save the day? Rooted in stories spanning throughout Marvel’s 80-year history, the massive build up to this story will only be rivaled by the enormous impact it has on the future of the Marvel Universe!

Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #1

Review by John Pumpernickel 

Writer Zeb Wells and artist Will Robson have over-delivered with Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #1. If the first issue is any indication, this five-issue miniseries is one to put on your pull list.

As a long time fan of the character, I found this issue a pleasure to read but even those who aren’t familiar with the 1980s silly superhero will find plenty to love within these pages. 

Smartly written and beautifully drawn, this issue has a number of laughs that are are sorely needed in comic books today. Will everyone find it as funny as I did? No but Wells understands what makes the character tick and excites the reader with every page. 

Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #1 is a treat to behold and one that, hopefully, finds its audience. Definitely one of the better books on the shelves.

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!

article topics :

X-Men, Steve Gustafson