Comics Month In Review

The Comics I Read in March 2023

My dear pal David, who ferries me to Joplin every two weeks to go on the prowl for back issues, action figures, and the like, had spent seven days straight at work two weekends ago, so he was just not up to going out and about on our usual regularly scheduled trek. I totally get needing a break from encounters with the general public, so I don’t begrudge him this, but that is why there hasn’t been one of those posts for a spell. (We did make this weekend’s trip yesterday, so once I’ve recovered from writing this monster, there’ll be a look at what I snagged this weekend — it being a holiday, there was a buy-one, get-one sale on all back issues, so yeah, I got a few things. Like, over a hundred in fact.)

Today, though, we’re going to take a look at the even more absurd stack of comics that I actually read over the course of the month of March. I burned through several semi-recent series backlogs this past month — and I’ve got a few more to charge through this month (how many issues behind am I on Star Wars: Doctor Aphra at this point? And let’s not even talk about Monstress or The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries), on top of catching up with the latest on a titles I have been bothering to dig into month-in and month-out. And let’s not forget the back issues, because it’s not like I’m just buying them to stack up around the apartment …

Action Comics 1048-1051 — Feels good to be buying new issues of Action Comics; in these tumultuous times of increasing uncertainty, it’s comforting to dig into the latest installments of a title that’s been published nearly every month since FDR was in the White House. Wasn’t familiar with Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s work before he took over on Action, but the Warworld storyline was better than I’d expected (my only context for gladiator tales on Warworld was the tedious Superman: The Animated Series episode that always seemed to be on when I’d irregularly check in on Kids WB when I was in college) and while I’ve enjoyed seeing Clark get back into the groove on Earth, I must say this resetting of his and Jon’s secret identities via Luthor shoving Manchester Black into a funny machine & blowing up his brain is … well, I get why you’d want to do that, but like so many times when a comics writer shoves a genie back into a bottle, it’s so damned contrived. And it sows seeds of mistrust across Metropolis while at the same time Clark’s got all his super-folks in matching jackets that really do make it seem like he’s starting the extra-terrestrial army the anti-alien protestors are getting up in arms about. Mike Perkins’s art is beautiful and moody, but I’m not sure that’s what I want out of a Superman comic; Clayton Henry and Nick Dragotta draw stints of of issue 1050, and Henry’s clean & clear art feels like a better fit, while Dragotta’s wild, expressive cartooning is perfect for the sequence where Clark loses it and goes toe-to-toe with armor-clad Luthor upon finding out Manchester Black’s fate. Rafa Sandoval takes up the baton for the current run, and his work has the right kind of clean, clear and cheerful energy that I think works for adventures in Metropolis, even if things do take a darker turn. The backups with Dan Jurgens & Lee Weeks and Leah Williams & Marguerite Sauvage both fill different niches — Jurgens & Weeks picks up from a recent Death of Superman anniversary one-shot, with Clark, Lois, and Jon moving back to the farm for a bit prior to Bendis’s run on the Super-books? Jon stole a spike off of Doomsday without telling anyone and I guess that’s going to become very important. Williams & Sauvage pit Power Girl’s new telepathic abilities against Beast Boy’s recent trauma, which has left him in the form of a small green calf. Pretty, but weird — and I’m not too keen on the fact that both back-ups spin out of random one-shots DC hopes you’ve read.

Amazing Spider-Man 19-20 — Joe Kelly and the Dodsons step in for a couple of issues wherein they send Peter & Black Cat on a romantic getaway that turns into a run-in with the White Rabbit and a bunch of rich tech-bro idiots she’s renting out old supervillain gadgets and outfits to. Between the character comedy, the amusing premise, and Terry & Rachel’s ever spirited & expressive art, these two issues are winners — though I’m thinking of dropping the book after we find out precisely What Peter Did, because what I’ve seen in advance so far is so far not up my alley that it might as well be on another planet.

Batman 130-132 — Speaking of books I was thinking of dropping, oh, Chip Zdarsky’s Batman … so, the first issue here is the one where Bruce makes planetfall without a spacesuit, which is just far enough beyond ridiculous to break disbelief. No slight to Jorge Jimenez, whose art I adored all the way through James Tynion’s run, but throughout “Failsafe” it’s felt like Zdarsky’s just been playing the hits in a slightly different key. As for the current arc, it plays like “It’s A Wonderful Life” in Gotham, with Bruce shunted into a parallel world where their Bruce never became Batman, forcing our hero to recreate the mantle and set the city right. Mike Hawthorne’s art, especially with Tomeu Morey’s very brown & blue-gray color palette, reads to me as “solid mid-list DC book,” not “flagship book of the line.” Fine at best, though more my speed than it’s been; I really would be dropping this if not for the fact that a crossover with Catwoman is coming up.

Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Three 1-2 — Alan Burnett & Paul Dini’s return to the world of their now-thirty-plus-year-old classic cartoon continues. First, Jordan Gibson renders, in magnificently moody style, an otherwise perfectly ordinary tale of two minor animated series Bat-villains, one planning on flipping on the mob and the other sent in to silence him. Then, holy buckets, animation director Kevin Altieri turns up to draw a wild tale of everyone’s ex (the scenes of Batman, Harley, and Two-Face all chit-chatting about her are priceless), loaded socialite Cassie Kendall. The lively, strange cartooning looks like something out of an indy comedy book from forty years ago, but somehow it works.

Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 11-12 — First, Mark Waid & Dan Mora wrap the “Boy Thunder” storyline, sending Superman’s short-lived sidekick David Sikela into another universe where he’s destined to become Magog — you know, the Cable-lookin’ dude from Waid & Alex Ross’s heavy-handed but gorgeous Kingdom Come. It was a very funny decision for Waid to suddenly reveal that he was giving that guy an origin here in the early 2020s. Dan Mora draws that issue, as he has the whole arc, and he seems equally at home doing colorful, classic superheroics as well as monstrous horrors — reminds me a bit of Greg Capullo in that way. He takes issue 12 off; Emanuela Lupacchino is the artist for a tale of Robin & Supergirl having a bad date made worse by catastrophes caused by a lost monkey. Funny, though I do always have a hard time contrasting Waid’s perpetually grumpy teenage Dick Grayson with modern day everyone’s best friend Nightwing.

Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain 1 — The latest incarnation of Tini Howard’s ongoing Otherworld saga. In this latest arc Morgan Le Fay is back, scheming to create a new, non-mutant Captain Britain to restore the country in her image. Love to see Howard trot out that dickhead Micromax; I think the only B-tier member of the ol’ Alan Davis Excalibur roster who hasn’t been back in recent memory now is Feron. Vasco Georgiev’s art is perfectly adequate and very smiley; I do find myself wondering what happened to Rachel’s face tattoos.

Bishop: War College 1 — J. Holtham & Sean Damien Hill give us an X-book that feels like something I’d have seen in X-Men Unlimited in the early 2000s. Bishop puts some C-and-D-list mutants thru some war games, pisses them off, and while trying to get them back on track runs into the Strucker twins and some Orchis goons. The kind of thing that has me rethinking my “buy all the X-books” policy of the last four years or so.

Bloodline: Daughter of Blade 1 — A premise years in the making (I seem to recall Tim Seeley was supposed to write a version of this forever ago), Eric Brooks’s purple-haired daughter begins to come into her own fighting the undead. Well-crafted, if fairly typical, hero-starting-out stuff from Danny Lore with solid cartooning by Karen Darboe; I will say Cris Peter’s colors are a bit oversaturated on the page, curious if it’s easier to read on a screen.

Captain America: Symbol of Truth 9-10 — Sam Wilson & Nomad continue their fight in the White Wolf’s home country of Mohannda, where T’Challa’s adopted brother has sparked a civil war following the murder of the country’s president at the U.N. Suddenly Sam & Ian find themselves fighting Sam’s partner Joaquin, the current Falcon, who’s been turned into a vampiric bird-man. One of those books that always feels like it breezes by — I love where he’s taking the book, but Tochi Onyebuchi’s scripts never seem to fill out the page — but R.B. Silva’s art is always an explosive, exciting treat for the eyes.

Captain Marvel 46 — Finally started picking up Kelly Thompson’s soon-to-end run on Captain Marvel because of the guest-starring X-folks and the fact that it’s centering their shared history fighting against the Brood, Claremont & Cockrum’s xenomorph knock-offs that turned Carol into Binary something like forty years ago now —and, in this arc, have the new Binary as their prisoner. This has all the fun, snappy banter you’d expect from Thompson’s work, which I realized I missed so much when I started reading this arc, and Javier Pina’s art is as pretty as ever — he used to be the designated fill-in guy on Duggan’s X-Men, where half the time you’d get halfway into an issue before realizing that Pepe Larraz was out that month.

Catwoman 41-44 — Yeah, I’m almost a year behind on Catwoman; fished most of Tini Howard’s run out of the back issue bins over the past few months, and now I’m finally working my way through them. You could almost make a case that Howard’s also “playing the hits” here, pitting Selina against *sigh* Black Mask, who she very memorably shot in the head back in ’06. That said, it’s fun watching her run circles around that lousy piece of shit and play these other mob assholes like a fiddle. Nico Leon’s art is fine, crisp, and well suited for the character, especially with Veronica Gandini’s colors creating the sort of vivid neon-soaked ambiance I’d come to expect of the place in “Fear State”-era Batman. French cartoonist Bengal, ably assisted by Jordie Bellaire working with a candy-colored palette, then jumps in for a two-parter guest starring Harley Quinn that flips the mood in an aggressively cheerful way, sending the duo to a roller derby and pitting B-tier Batman: TAS villain Red Claw against Selina in her very first appearance outside that universe. A whole lotta fun.

Daredevil 237, 321-336 — So yes, I’ve been reading a lot of ’90s Daredevil. The first one’s from ’86, actually, and is a clunkily-overwritten fill-in by John Harkness & Louis Williams that sends an overeager Klaw after Matt (Ann Nocenti’s four-year run begins the very next issue). Whereas most of this stack is Dan Chichester & Scott McDaniel introducing the armored ’90s costume, having Matt’s identity outed — and, almost thirty years ago, using the exact same “well, we’ve got an extra Matt Murdock body here …” trick to “kill” Matt off that Chip Zdarsky used at the end of Devil’s Reign. Until “Fall from Grace” I was pretty down on Chichester & McDaniel’s run; Bud LaRosa’s inks never did McDaniel any favors, and the villains ranged from embarrassing to strange to pitiful; the comedy two-parter that precedes “Fall from Grace” might be one of the worst Daredevil stories I’ve ever read. But suddenly we get Hector Collazo inking McDaniel and it utterly transforms the look of his art; spot blacks and silhouettes abound. And Chichester weaves a sprawling story bringing in the Hand, S.H.I.E.L.D., Venom, the Daredevil doppelgänger from Infinity War, and ultimately featuring the return of Elektra. The team follows it up with “Tree of Knowledge,” which establishes Matt’s new identity as con artist Jack Battlin and pits him against a cyborg hacker group that serves as a front for Hydra. Genuinely terrific stuff, which makes it frustrating that the team then decamps to craft an Elektra mini-series that I don’t have, leaving the book in the reasonably capable hands of Gregory Wright & Tom Grindberg, before Chichester comes back without McDaniel to write just a handful more issues that he refused to put his name on. Ah well, best to just enjoy what we got while it lasts.

Daredevil: The Man Without Fear 1, 3 — Miller & Romita Jr.’s origin tale for DD; reading these made me think maybe I was being a bit too hard on Chip Zdarsky’s “magical destiny” crap since it seems some of that “chosen one” shit is, if not an invention, than at least a suggestion of Miller’s (Stick having his eye on Matt before the accident seems a bit much, no?).

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths 4-7, The Deadly Green (one-shot), Big Bang (one-shot) — Josh Williamson & Daniel Sampere’s full-circle sequel to Wolfman & Perez’s 1985 Crisis, ultimately also serving as a love letter of sorts to the same creative team’s New Teen Titans via the way it climaxes with a confrontation between Nightwing and Deathstroke. Never a fan of a mini-series sprawling out into random one-shots by other creative teams — “The Deadly Green” has three writers and four artists and it reads like it, with iffy characterization and a sort of generic quest shape featuring shaded in bits that kinda don’t make any sense. What’s really strange is how “Big Bang,” by Mark Waid, Dan Jurgens, and Norm Raymond is the rematch between Barry Allen and the Anti-Monitor, and it’s just this 22-page trifle that feels like something you’d mail away for off the back of a cereal box.

Deadpool 4 — It’s not that I’m not enjoying Alyssa Wong & Martin Coccolo’s current volume of Deadpool; it’s that it still nags at me that it’s a “reinventing the wheel” run, like what happens to Wonder Woman 9 times out of 10 — forget every supporting cast member in the title character’s history along with everything that happened in the last volume of their title cuz we’re starting fresh! (Also, yuck, symbiotes. Y’know, I’m dropping the new volume of the Miles Morales Spidey book because all of a sudden it’s wrapped up in a stupid symbiote crossover. Any of you have any characters or corners of the Marvel or DC universes like that, where the minute they come up it just kills the story dead for you?)

Gen 13 8 — Ah yes, my read-thru of all the ’90s Wildstorm books continues. It’s the first of two issues Jim Lee drew of Gen 13, in which the kids are in Italy and wind up causing an international incident, fighting a team of ridiculous ’90s superheroes sworn to protect the Vatican. Utter nonsense, but reasonably fun.

Grifter 5-6 — Likewise, these two issues of Steve Seagle’s Grifter (art by Randy Green on the first and Cedric Nocon on the second) are perfectly sound dumb action comics, mostly delightful from the standpoint that I’m also reading the current WildC.A.T.s comic at the same time, which is also narrated by the King of Bad Decisions in his dumb red mask, and it’s amazing seeing how he hasn’t changed in almost thirty years.

Harley Quinn 20-21, 2022 Annual, 30th Anniversary Special, 22-26 — Stephanie Phillips’s Harley Quinn run is winding down; “Task Force XX,” which ran weekly last October, felt like a weird misfire. Indeed, it felt super-strange immediately bringing back new arch-villain The Verdict for a paint-by-numbers Alien riff ensemble piece after how her introductory storyline ended. The anniversary one-shot left me a bit cold — a lot of fun artists in there, but a couple of the stories were clearly trailers for other projects that I had very little interest in even before I knew they were trying to sell me something else. The current storyline, “Who Killed Harley Quinn?” feels like it’s tying off Phillips’s run, but is doing so with a now-tired multiverse story — the culprit is a version of Harley Quinn dressed kinda like the exhausting Batman-Who-Laughs. Matteo Lolli draws most of this arc, but David Baldeon steps in for some pages in a few issues, and his work is always a delight to see.

Immoral X-Men 1 — Always used to remember Paco Medina’s characters on the whole looking rounder. That said, I guess that wouldn’t work for Mr. Sinister. Anyway, it’s a comic where Kieron Gillen writes his delightfully bitchy take on ol’ Nathaniel Essex, this time in the context of him achieving a victory that’s backfired on him. I actually wasn’t looking forward to reading “Sins of Sinister” (the “let’s do Age of Apocalypse again” trick feels awfully tired now) but the fact that it’s Gillen, Ewing, and to a lesser extent Spurrier moving their plots forward in this new context makes it work pretty well actually.

Invincible Iron Man 2-3 — Aside from the now-overused relaunch device (“something terrible has happened between the last volume of this title and this one, and we won’t tell you what for anywhere between six months and a year!”), Duggan’s Iron Man has been solidly entertaining. Especially loved seeing artist Juan Frigeri draw some very ’80s sights in issue 3, including the Silver Centurion suit and that sorta flattop mullet ‘do Tony was rocking in those days.

Marauders 11 — The worst of the current ongoing X-books lurches towards its finale. Steve Orlando’s bizarre year-long time travel paradox plot remains poorly explained and baffling, while artist Eleonora Carlini’s art has its charms but her storytelling ability remains ropey.

Mary Jane & Black Cat 3 — Dark Web somehow isn’t over yet: Mary Jane Watson & Felicia Hardy still have a Soulsword to steal. This latest iteration of Jed MacKay’s seemingly never-ending cycle of cut-short ongoings and chained mini-series featuring the Black Cat is maybe playing a bit too self-aware, but it’s fun nevertheless.

Nightcrawlers 1 — Like I said, here Spurrier continues playing with his toys: Mother Righteous, his book’s new Sinister; Banshee’s new Ghost Rider-like persona Vox Ignis, possessed by the Spirit of Variance; and … well, not Nightcrawler himself at the moment, but a gang of Sinister-crafted hybrids, including a Spider-Man, a Domino, and a Wolverine of the non-Logan variety. Yes, a Laura-Kurt hybrid — how can I resist? Paco Medina is actually drawing all of the first month of “Sins of Sinister,” and he does a bang-up job here — and unlike Immoral X-Men, there are some panels in this one that very much recall his work of, what, twenty years ago?

Nightwing 101 — Suddenly, this is a five dollar book with a backup strip in it. Weird. The main story has regular scribe Tom Taylor and fill-in artist Travis Moore basically doing the legwork to set up Taylor & Nicola Scott’s upcoming Titans series while also continuing the story of Blockbuster’s daughter whose soul was collateral granted to the demon Neron — and who, therefore, the very ’90s DC villain is looking to collect. A so-so issue of a generally very good run.

Saga 62 — Yes, I am still reading Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples’s spacefaring tale of war and small-minded prejudice, and I am happy to report, as always, that Vaughan is still in the habit of writing final pages that make you go “god dammit.” Yes, it can be a cheap trick, but in his hands it always works, because he & Staples, in perfect harmony, make me care so much about all involved — even some of the scumbags! — that the last-page rug-pull almost always knocks the wind out of me. Dude’s been doing this at least since Runaways at Marvel, which caused much the same reaction in me back in college. Nice to have some things you can count on in life, y’know?

She-Hulk 10 — Ah, speaking of Runaways, here’s most recent Runaways writer Rainbow Rowell’s current ongoing series, the She-Hulk book they launched to coincide with the Disney+ TV show; this is the last of three issues where she’s accompanied by former Runaways designated fill-in artist (and one of my longtime faves) Takeshi Miyazawa (like, he was the two-issue fill-in artist back when Vaughan was still writing the book). This issue is all aftermath following Jen discovering who was siphoning Jack of Hearts’s radiation and to what end (scientists trying, and failing, to recreate the exact phenomena that turned Jen into She-Hulk) and the two of them putting a stop to their plan to steal her gamma radiation for themselves. Another very enjoyable book that, nonetheless, always seems go by way too quickly — and while the plot mechanics now track, I still find it super-weird that so much of this run has been focused on Jack of Hearts.

Spartan: Warrior Spirit 3 — This has been an odd reading experience, because the backstory that Spartan’s being fed here doesn’t match any version I’m familiar with — that this guy he’s been helping was the original creator of the Spartan android and that he’s modeled after his daughter’s late husband, and that Marlowe just bought out the project. But Busiek’s story has been sturdy in a “solid mid-season episode of Star Trek” sort of way, and the art by Mike McKone isn’t far afield from his work on Exiles a few years later, which is where I first encountered him — like Kevin Maguire with the comedy acting toned down a hair and the superheroic physiques dialed up a smidge.

Spider-Man: The Lost Hunt 4 — J.M. DeMatteis and an army of artists craft an issue that features a de-powered Peter Parker acting bonkers while Orisha monologues her backstory to us — AND the complete origin of Kraven the Hunter, which is fascinating stuff. Not sure if this has always been the case, but making the whole ritualistic burial and rebirth thing from Kraven’s Last Hunt an obscure Wakandan ritual that Kraven appropriated makes a lot of sense. Enjoyed the hell out of the Ben Reilly mini-series DeMatteis wrote right before this, and this has been just as good/fascinating. Got a sinking feeling that the actual comics of the era these represent will probably disappoint if I drum some up on eBay or fish some out of the Vintage Stock longboxes (I did grab a few at this weekend’s big buy-1-get-1 sale — and at two bucks a pop, each!).

Storm & the Brotherhood of Mutants 1 — Al Ewing & Paco Medina giving us a bonkers post-apocalyptic issue of X-Men Red, with all the action, scheming, and betrayals that entails — with, I expect, things only getting wilder from here. No complaints.

Superman: Kal-El Returns Special — Three out of the four stories herein are pretty damn solid and give ya what you want out of a “Superman’s back and all’s right with the world” one-shot. The Mark Waid/Clayton Henry opener is very much in the “World’s Finest” mode, with a terrific out-there choice of villain. Sina Grace & Dean Haspiel’s Superman & Jimmy story actually doesn’t quite click for me in the end, but has a lot of nice moments and Haspiel’s cartooning — and especially his lunky Superman — is fun to look at. Marv Wolfman & Jack Herbert’s tale of Superman back with the family & trying to help Jon thwart a Luthor plot is just terrific, with a lot of nice character touches. Alex Segura & Fico Ossio try and bring the whole thing home with a Justice League reunion, but that story just sort of feels like a montage. (And, minor points, I didn’t think Martian Manhunter was still sporting his New 52 look — he was definitely in a classic mode in his backup strip in Action last year — and Lee Loughridge distractingly colors Electric Superman’s face flesh-toned in the panel featuring the Morrison run Justice League.)

Superman: Son of Kal-El 16-18 — Tom Taylor and Cian Tormey wind down Jon Kent’s title with the invention of an arch-nemesis for Jon as Superman, a kid with some misdirected anger issues and equipment that nullifies Kryptonian powers. Looking forward to where Taylor takes Jon in the new mini-series, even when I know the literal answer is “multiverse stuff involving *deeper sigh* the Injustice universe.”

Team One: WildC.A.T.s 2 / Team One: Stormwatch 2 — This was the logjam in my pile of Wildstorm books, the second issues of two connected mini-series that are basically alternate angles on the same incident decades ago. Sort of interesting in that way, but only sort of; reading them back-to-back has me scratching my head at what the point of the exercise was. Still find the sight of still-oh-so-’90s Helspont running around in a trenchcoat hilarious.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 134-136 / The Armageddon Game 3-5 / The Armageddon Game – The Alliance 1-3 — God, that’s a lot of Turtles comics, and I still have a couple to read before my next box of new books shows up. I can’t say I’m not enjoying it, though the stakes were feeling awfully local to NYC despite half the Turtles dashing about in space right up until the Utrom spaceship blew up Vernon’s news copter. The thing that did click with me about The Alliance is that the main stories are by one-off creative teams and are allowed to be extremely idiosyncratic — Will Robson’s Casey & the Punk Frogs team-up in issue 2 is a dense, satisfying little tale, and Juni Ba returns to the TMNT fold with a terrific “Alopex letting off steam & helping a pal” action piece in issue 3.

WildC.A.T.s (1992) 24-25 — Really enjoying Alan Moore’s WildC.A.T.s, with the team members descended from the bloodlines of this long-finished stupid war realizing that Khera is a bullshit place full of bullshit things, and the natives — especially, it seems, Zealot — all too happy to settle into their high-class lives on the winning side. Meanwhile, Majestic and Savant’s B-team continues to suck. Loved the episode in 24, drawn with appropriate over-the-top staging by Jason Johnson, where they break up a cyborg funeral in pursuit of an attending supervillain. 25 is just gorgeous all around, with the Earth segment rendered by Dave Johnson & Kevin Nowlan and Travis Charest drawing the hell out of Zealot’s ritualistic combat and Voodoo’s monstrous transformation. Feels like I’m knee-deep in the good stuff here.

WildC.A.T.s (2022) 4 — Meanwhile, back in the present, Matthew Rosenberg and Stephen Segovia have Grifter working overtime to get himself the hell out of a bad situation (again, quite reminiscent of most of the issues of Seagle’s book in the ’90s that I’ve read so far) while Zealot and Fairchild race around to try & get authorization to pull him out. Not a fan of how watered-down Rosenberg’s Maxine Manchester is as opposed to Moore’s off-putting & vulgar original, but otherwise I’m digging this slightly askew but otherwise “back to basics” version of Lee & Choi’s tenacious creations.

Wolverine 30 — Logan finally stabbing Hank in retaliation for all the vile shit he’s put him through over the last few issues is one of the most satisfying pages of comics I’ve read in the last year. Love that we’ve got former Avatar Press “fiddly, noodly violence” artist Juan Jose Ryp rendering this carnage.

X-Men 19 — I’m not enjoying Duggan’s X-Men — this month rendered by Stefano Caselli, whose work I remember really digging on Joe Casey’s G.I. Joe run like eighteen years ago — as much as I did that first year of the book, but I think that’s mostly because it feels like it’s all over the place. Like, this month is “Forge and Monet explore weird cosmic shit while the rest of the team rescues Corsair from the Brood.” Indeed, I think this iteration of the team is just bouncing from crossover to crossover, stopping occasionally to clear up some dangling plot threads. Hoping the next team, the one with Kate Pryde as the ninja “Shadowkat,” goes back to a solid focused year of stories.

X-Men Legends 6 — That didn’t last long. A shame, because I’ve enjoyed a lot of these “old hands fleshing out equally old X-continuity plot points” tales; this is the back half of a two-parter by Whilce Portacio explaining what in the hell exactly happened before Bishop, Malcolm, and Randall leapt into our time in pursuit of Trevor Fitzroy. Absolutely beautiful pages here; just bananas that a new Bishop two-parter by Whilce Portacio was a real project Marvel commissioned in 2023, and it feels like a major failing of the market that a book where things like that happen couldn’t stay afloat — the previous volume had Apocalypse-related X-Factor & New Mutants tales by Louise & Walt freakin’ Simonson, for crying out loud. If you can’t make Walt coming back to draw some more panels of his Apocalypse a major event, what are you even doing?

X-Treme X-Men 3 — Instead, we do still have projects like this rolling through: this one, specifically, is just Chris Claremont and Salvador Larroca writing and drawing five new issues of their turn-of-the-century X-book like they never left it. Funny, though, that so much of this mini’s plot is Kitty Pryde having a rematch with Wolverine’s body-hopping ninja mentor Ogun: a revival of a comic from twenty years ago picking up a plot from, if I remember right, twenty years before that. Nice to be reminded just what a tremendous talent Larroca is when he’s not doing lifeless tracings of actor likenesses; I like Igor Kordey, but I don’t think he and Claremont meshed well on the back half of the original X-Treme run. This is much more like it.

Zealot 2-3 — Fished out of dollar bins, Ron Marz & former occasional X-Men fill-in artist Terry Shoemaker follow Zealot around her long life and pit her against the ex from hell in feudal Japan and in Nazi Germany. Very silly and obvious comics.

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