Comic Book Reviews (Week July 15, 2020): Empyre Issue 1, Strikeforce Issue 8 and More!

Empyre Issue 1 review
Empyre Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

A whole lot of comic books were released this week. However, only a handful of them attracted my attention. In this week’s comic book reviews round-up, I’ll cover Empyre Issue 1, Strikeforce Issue 8, and many more.

With Empyre being Marvel Comics’ main event this year, let’s begin this list by talking about Empyre Issue 1. One of the reasons I’m interested in the current story is because it shines the spotlight on Hulkling. For those who don’t know, Hulkling and Wiccan are arguably the most famous gay couple in the comic book world. So, for Marvel Comics to revolve a major event around Hulkling (and by association, Wiccan), is quite impressive.

Now, comic book events are, usually, mixed bags. Numerous characters end up acting weirdly because the plot demands it. And I have to say that Empyre Issue 1, from writers Al Ewing and Dan Slott, wasn’t any different. I have no idea why Tony Stark, Captain America, or the rest of the heroes (including smart ones like T’Challa) weren’t able to see that the Cotati were the bad guys. Again, it was as if the narrative demanded these characters didn’t know or at least suspect something wasn’t right.

With the Cotati having control over plant life, I wonder how (and if) it will have an impact on Krakoa and how the X-Men will respond to such a threat. Let’s see what happens. The panel showing Teddy blocking Mjolnir was quite cool, though. Big ‘Queer King of Space’ Energy right there!

Empyre issue 1 review
Hulkling stopping Mjolnir in Empyre Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Recommendation: It’s the debut of a major event. So, might as well pick it up, right?

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes!

Fantastic Four Issue 21 review
Fantastic Four Issue 21 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Fantastic Four Issue 21

This was an Empyre tie-in issue that focused on Franklin and Val bringing the two Kree and Skrull kids to Earth while the main Fantastic Four team dealt with Hulkling in space. Needing help, Val contacted a few friends. And you know what? Wolverine and Spider-Man showed up. I guess Marvel decided to bring out the two big guns to help get more eyeballs on the current tie-in?

Wolverine and Spider-Man were the safest choices. I wanted writer Dan Slott to take a risk and have a couple of heroes you wouldn’t have expected to appear and help Val and Franklin. Anyway, the little alien girl seemed to have some kind of connection with Alicia. So, I’m looking forward to learning more about that. 

Recommendation: Meh!

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Strikeforce Issue 8 review
Strikeforce Issue 8 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Strikeforce Issue 8

We’re eight issues into Strikeforce and my enjoyment has been quite inconsistent. I do like the team writer Tini Howard has created. However, I think handling seven members, with distinct personalities and powers, hasn’t always been a hit from Howard.

The current issue focused on Angela. Even though I’m not a fan of hers, I liked how Howard treated her during the latest offering. I liked the moment she shared with her mother. But having said that, I really want the story to focus on the other characters.

The issue ended with the team appearing in Deadpool’s Monster Island. So, maybe I will enjoy the upcoming issue more? Let’s see.

Recommendation: Meh!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Giant Size X-Men Magneto review
Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto Issue 1

Seeing writer Jonathan Hickman share his vision for the X-Men is always a treat. I’m not a fan of Magneto, but this issue kept me hooked. It dealt with Magento striking a bargain with Namor because Emma Frost wanted a particular island.

I’m not really sure what’s happening, but I’m definitely intrigued. The issue showed how formidable Magneto continued to be when it came to using his mutant ability as well as intellect. Seeing Magneto pocket the strange-looking key (that he got after beating an underwater puzzle) didn’t sit well with me. I don’t trust him. Also, what’s Emma planning?

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 51 review
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Issue 51 (Image: BOOM! Studios)

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Issue 51

Have you started reading the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series? If you want an example about how to consistently write an enjoyable story (51 issues in), this is the series for you! I have no idea how writer Ryan Parrott does it but I’m here for every panel.

This week’s issue had the Power Rangers trying to figure out what to do with a crazed Drakkon from another reality. Of course, the young Rangers were scared. If freaking Drakkon’s fleeing from something from his world, it would be unwise for the Rangers to not be cautious. While the mystery surrounding Drakkon continued, the issue also showed Lord Zedd deciding to give his minions a surprising powerup.

The Power Rangers have a whole lot of trouble to deal with down the road and I hope they’re ready.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

The Old Guard Force Multiplied Issue 5 review
The Old Guard: Force Multiplied Issue 5 (Image: Image Comics)

The Old Guard: Force Multiplied Issue 5

Yes, that’s two women kissing on the comic book cover. Deal with it.

If you haven’t watched the queer-inclusive The Old Guard movie on Netflix yet, you need to correct that wrong right now. The Old Guard: Force Multiplied serves as a sequel to the movie. So, if you don’t want to be spoiled, I recommend you stop reading right now.

Are you still here?

Okay. The latest issue, from writer Greg Rucka, gave us an answer to Andy and Noriko’s relationship. For those who saw the live-action adaptation, Noriko was changed to a character named Quynh. The fifth issue helped us dive deeper into Andy’s psyche. It explored what she’s been through being an immortal on Earth. Even though the main characters can’t die, they’re still human. They have made numerous mistakes and they have to live with them for hundreds and thousands of years (making newer mistakes during that time).

With how things ended, I can’t wait to see where Rucka takes these characters in the third (and final?) installment. If I’m not wrong, the third story is titled The Old Guard: Fade Away. Y’all, if it’s time for Yusef and Nicky to die, they better die together.

What do you think is going to happen? Will Nile, Booker, Yusuf, and Nicky have to fight Andy and Noriko to save humanity? I’m excited!

The opening sequence, in the latest issue, featuring Andy trying to escape from a car’s trunk (while being left to drown) was amazing. Kudos to the art team (Leandro Fernandez and Daniela Miwa) for that.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes!

The fact that not a single DC Comics’ offering this week made me want to write a review is quite unfortunate.

Which comic books did you pick up this week? Did you enjoy Empyre Issue 1?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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