The Weekly Round-Up #594 With S.W.O.R.D. #5, Rain Like Hammers #4, The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Best Comic of the Week:

SWORD #5 – In the aftermath of the King in Black event, it’s time to resurrect the people who died fighting Knull on Krakoa.  Magneto has requested that Fabian Cortez be bumped up the queue, but largely, it seems, in order to humiliate him in front of the Quiet Council.  Cortez has never been an interesting or likeable character until Al Ewing got his hands on him, so I enjoyed this issue.  I also like the way Ewing is building on events that have happened in his Guardians of the Galaxy run (Snarkwar), and is quietly taking over his own corner of the Marvel Universe.  I believe he’s the best writer Marvel has right now, and put this book next to his Immortal Hulk.  Weirdly, five issues in, we are still only getting glimpses of what Abigail Brand is up to, and my interest is building. 

Quick Takes:

Alien #2 – This title is growing on me, as we get to know the main character a little better with this issue.  Gabriel is sent back to Epsilon Station after his son’s associates attacked the place.  We quickly fall into familiar Aliens territory, with scenes that feel like homages to the movies.  The thing is, I like that stuff, even when it gets predictable.  Salvador Larroca is a good artist for this book, because he knows when to hold back, and makes the xenomorphs look pretty scary.

Eternals #4 – This title got off to a slow start, but with this issue, the book turned a corner and now I’m completely onboard.  The Eternals continue to work to figure out how Thanos is going around killing them, and we learn more about Druig, the go-to untrustworthy character.  Esad Ribic’s art is fantastic on this book, and I think I’m finally seeing what Kieron Gillen is going for here.

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1 – Originally, Greg Rucka had said he’d only have perhaps one more Old Guard story in him, he has opened the property up to other creative teams with this miniseries.  He and his co-creator, Leandro Fernández, have Andromache tell us the story behind her axe.  In the second story, Andrew Wheeler and Jacopo Camagni tell a story about Joe and Nicky in Weimar Germany, and the difficulty they used to have in being able to go out together on a date.  The Old Guard is about a small group of immortals, and that opens up a lot of story potential, as they’ve been around for a very long time.  I’m not sure who all is going to be contributing to future issues, but I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Orphan and the Five Beasts #2 – I love James Stokoe’s artwork, so even though I’m not entirely sold on the storyline of this kung fu epic, I really enjoyed the fight between the orphan and Thunderthighs, a monstrous man.  This book is pretty nuts.

Post Americana #5 – This is a big issue, as Mike and the others finally make it to meet with his contact, who is not at all who he was expecting.  This issue is full of cartoon-based robots, and other unexpected visuals.  It’s cool that Steve Skroce is adding new story elements at this point, as I thought the series would be working towards its climax.  I’m not sure how long this book is running for though.

Rain Like Hammers #4 – Brandon Graham’s latest series continues to be a swirl of mad ideas, as Brik keeps moving forward with his scheme, and a new character discovers his trail.  It’s hard to explain this book; I just keep hoping we’ll return to the storyline that was introduced in the first issue.

Sacred Six #8 – I don’t enjoy this series as much as I do the Vampirella book it’s spun-off from, and wish that Priest would focus more on some of the supporting characters.  I like that Nyx is getting more screen time in this current arc, but I find that there’s a lot to keep track of.  At least now I know that this story takes place before the current Vampirella arc – before, I always felt like I was reading things out of sequence.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 – Aphra and Sana are still trying to track down an ancient hyperdrive, even though Aphra now knows it’s a fake.  Alyssa Wong’s plot relies a lot on coincidence, and I’m still not sure that her Aphra is ruthless enough, but I do still find things to enjoy here.  I would like to see the more intricate plotting of Kieron Gillen or Simon Spurrier’s runs though.

Way of X #1 – I’ve been enjoying the various X-Books since Jonathan Hickman became showrunner for the brand, but one thing I’ve noticed is that they are all very plot-driven, even the solo titles.  We see some character development, such as in Cable’s book, but there’s not been many character-driven stories.  Now Simon Spurrier and Bob Quinn are changing that with Way of X, a Nightcrawler-focused miniseries.  Kurt has been playing with the idea of developing a Krakoan religion, or at least a belief system, but is not sure about it.  What he does know is that some aspects of the ever-evolving Krakoan society, such as the Crucible, where a mutant is killed to regain their powers through resurrection, sits uneasily on him.  Spurrier has Kurt wrestling with some big ideas, while also investigating rumours about a malevolent spirit or being who is scaring the island’s children.  This issue brings back Doctor Nemesis, an incredibly entertaining character when written properly, and a surprise character with a strong tie to Spurrier’s previous X-Writing.  It’s good stuff.

X-Force #19 – Jean Grey gets involved with helping Quentin and Phoebe deal with whatever this latest threat is.  Quentin has a lot of potential as a character, and it’s cool that he’s getting more of the spotlight in this book.

Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:

Avengers #45

Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #2

Justice League #60

Mighty Valkyries #1

Nightwing #79

The Week in Music:

Gary Bartz, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Jazz is Dead 6 – Years from now, when I look back on the soundtrack of the pandemic, I’m going to remember it as the year (and going) of the Jazz is Dead series (along with the year I listened to ridiculous amounts of ambient and neo-classical music).  Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad have scored this year for us with this series, which partners them with legendary jazz musicians.  With this latest release, saxophonist Gary Bartz rides all over the rhythms they lay down.  I think it’s amazing how all of these albums (this is the fifth to focus on a single musician; the first was like a sampler) have a consistent sound, but also are so unique depending on who they are working with. 

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