Marvel comics

Collects Ms Marvel vol. 2 # 31-34, Annual, and Ms. Marvel Special: Storyteller

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Marcos Marz, Paulo Sigueira, Amilton Santos, Adriana Melo, Mariah Benes, Greg Horn, Mark Robinson, Mark Irwin, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Lorenzo Ruggiero

The collection starts with a more intimate issue. Carol’s brother has sent her a message telling her that their father is gravely ill, so Carol returns to her family. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any feelings for them because Rogue took them away along with her memories of her family. Professor X helped her to recover most of her early memories but her feelings haven’t returned and that’s a tough situation to everyone. Carol’s mother doesn’t understand at all.

Then we got a three part story which dwells into Carol’s past as a secret agent. I’m very interested in this part of her past so I mostly enjoyed the story. Carol reminisces about her last mission as a pilot, before she became an agent for USA AF Special Operations. She test pilots one of Tony’s planes which is supposed to be invisible for radar. Unfortunately, she’s noticed and shot down in Afghanistan. She ends up in the hands of Ghazi Rashid who tortures her for information which she doesn’t have. Even with a broken leg and arm and several fingernails torn from her fingers, she’s able to escape and she meets Michael Rossi, her lover-to-be. However, during her escape she managed to get information from Rashid’s computers and knows that Rashid is working with the CIA, so she doesn’t know whom to trust. Carol in this story is younger and doesn’t yet have her powers. But she’s a kick-ass character, the competent woman I’ve been hoping for. The torture scenes were quite gruesome for a super hero comic, though. I’m grateful that she wasn’t raped.

Carol and two of her long-time acquaintances realize that the weapon Rashid was looking for back then is now being used by the bad guys and they want to stop it so we get secret agent stuff in the present, too. Unfortunately, the connection between past and present felt a little disjointed. I also wasn’t clear on why Carol couldn’t use her powers in issue 34 and had to seek help from Spider-Man. Apparently, she’s on the run from the Avengers because Norman Osborn leads them now and Carol doesn’t want to work for him. I think that was covered in one of the main Avengers comics, but not here. The story continues in the next collection.

In the Annual, Carol and Spider-Man join forces to defeat robots. First though, Ms. Marvel is chasing Spider-Man because he isn’t registered even though he’s an Avenger. In the middle of their fight, they notice that a group of robots are scaring people and they break off their fight to punch the robots. Things are a bit more complicated than that, though, and the story line continues in the spy issues. A fun bit of team up.

In Storyteller the boy Gavin, who was introduced in the first Ms. Marvel issue, returns. He was created by AIM as a way to duplicate the Scarlet Witch’s reality altering powers. Gavin can tell a story and it changes into reality. He’s also a young boy and wants to have fun. He seems to have had a pretty miserable life, so I can’t blame him. However, he essentially kidnaps his only friend which is bad, of course. The poor boy is terrified and misses his parents but Gavin doesn’t even notice until Carol points it out.

Artwise, the collection is a mixed bag. I like the art in the regular issues but the artists in the Annual and Special use a noticeably different styles, more sketchy.

This is very much a start of a storyline which continues in the next collection. The stories also require knowledge of Carol’s past, which I quite enjoyed but it’s not a good place to start the series.

Collects Ms Marvel vol. 2 # 25-30.

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Adriana Melo, Ron Frenz, Mariah Benes, Sal Buscema

Secret Invasion starts right after the end of Monster Mash. Tony sends Carol’s own Lighting Storm team after her, because he believes that she’s a skrull. Meanwhile, Carol is investigating a lead on her own.

This collection starts with issue 25 which has two stories: one tells about Carol’s earliest adventure when she was the security chief of NASA and the kree Mar-vell was masquerading as a human. They tackled skrulls and it was the first time Carol saw one of them. Ron Frenz and Buscema’s art looks really old fashioned, which fits the story well. Back in the modern world, Carol is hunting AIM guys and makes a promise to herself that from now on, she starts to think things through before charging in. However, the AIM goons get way and Carol has just time to confer with her (quite pushy) publicist and then she sees her boyfriend, who dumps her. Later, Carol follows an AIM van but a Super Skrull sniffs her out (literally). When her now ex-boyfriend William appears to be in trouble, she hurries to his side, only to find him dead. But that’s not the end of the story, of course.

In issue 26, we finally see who agent Sum is. It was a bit strange that Carol just states that she has always known it but I guess as team leader she has to. I really like characters like Sum.

The first three issues deal with a skrull impersonating Carol. In turns out that William really isn’t who Carol thought he was and to top it off, the skrulls have kidnapped him. Carol goes out to look for him but doesn’t find him and we never hear from him again. Strange. Maybe this was resolved in the main Secret Invasion series? Also, the minicarrier is destroyed and Carol sleeps with Simon which might be a mistake.

The next three issues focus on the Carol defending Manhattan and its inhabitants from the skrulls. She even has to fight a Super skrull whom the other skrulls are afraid of. She clearly enjoys the fighting and kills the skrulls mercilessly. This isn’t shown often in superhero comics but I think it fits the story line and the character. I also really enjoyed how Carol shook off her insecurities and focused on the fight. However, the issues don’t really have much plot development. I haven’t read the Secret Invasion main story line.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed if that was the resolution to the William subplot but otherwise I quite liked the collection.

Oh, this is not a good volume to start reading about Carol.

Collects Ms Marvel vol. 2 #18-24.

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan

After the previous story’s end, Carol gets some new team members for the Lighting Storm team: Machine Man and Sleepwalker. Neither are well known as heroes (at least here in Finland). Machine Man, Aaron, is a grumpy man who apparently likes to drink heavily, even on the job, and irritate his teammates and superiors. Rick Sheridan, who is Sleepwalker’s host, seems to be more ordinary young man who is looking for some direction for his life. They contrast each other nicely and Aaron is funny but I still missed Wonder Man. Of course, Ms Marvel is the only heavy hitter in this team so her role is more distinct.

The first three issues have a story arc called “Puppets”. The Puppet Master has retired from super villany; instead he uses his powers for money and his own gratification. He’s also moved to Chile, apparently so that his actions would go unnoticed – and he’s correct. So, he has kidnapped lots of women and some men and made them his puppets. He makes the men do hard labor and fight each other to the death. They also do the kidnapping. The women he sells for the highest bidder. However, he makes a grave mistake when he starts kidnapping super powered women. Apparently, nobody has missed poor Tigra or Silverclaw, even though they used to be Avengers, but then The Puppet Master kidnaps Ms. Marvel’s young sidekick Anya. But even though Anya is missing, she’s gone for such a short time that Carol doesn’t even know it. Instead, Ms. Marvel intercepts Puppet Master’s squad trying to kidnap a super powered woman called Battleax and their clues point to Chile, so the Minicarrier travels there. Predictably, the new team has to fight the Puppet Master’s minions. The confrontation between Carol and mind controlled Anya is more interesting than a usual slug fest.

Ms. Marvel asks the Beast if he could find out what is wrong with her body. The Beast doesn’t know but takes scans and promises to look into it. Just before the villain from the first story arc, Cru, smashes into the Minicarrier, Hank calls back to Carol with some news. But unfortunately, a bit too late. Cru battles Carol and carries her off to Monster Island where Carol finally finds out the truth about her own healing abilities and about Cru. She also has to take a good, hard look at herself and her past. And she doesn’t like what she sees.

The start of that story was a combination of comedy and a super hero battle. While Carol battles Cru, no less that three people call on her cell and leave a message. First is Carol’s love interest William who most likely wants to end his relationship with Carol. Then her longtime teammate and new love interest Wonder Man calls talking about a Daily Bugle article which Carol doesn’t know about and finally her publicist calls to complain that Carol is hard to get a hold of. It’s might be a bit too slapstick for some readers but I think it lightened up the otherwise quite serious story.

The sub plot about Carol’s new healing abilities is revealed in this volume. I was actually a little creeped out that someone else was taking control of Carol’s body even though for such a supposedly benign purpose as healing her. Still, Carol is supposed to be a hero with mighty powers and even she can’t prevent other people from using her body against her will. Aren’t there enough people in the real world trying to control the bodies of women? The Puppet Master plotline amplified this creepiness. I also didn’t really like the ending where Carol is sitting in the shower and thinking that she’s a failure. At first Carol being a little insecure about herself was a feature and not a bug, but we’ve seen that for two years already and she isn’t getting better. In fact, she’s getting worse. I thought she would gain confidence and expertize during the series but instead she’s lost them. I’ve also never gotten the insecure vibe from her in team books.

The romance subplots are still unresolved.

The collection ends with a huge cliffhanger where Tony tells Agent Sum that he knows that one of the Lighting Storm people is a skrull and it needs to be taken down quietly. And that skrull is Carol herself. The story of course continues in Secret Invasion tie-in.

Collects Ms. Marvel vol. 2 #11-17.

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Roberto De La Torre, Aaron Lopresti , Matt Ryan

The first two issues deal with the Doomsday Man, an old Avengers villain. It turns out that AIM had secured him and taken him to a lab to study. He escapes and lures Carol to a trap in the lab. AIM has also undead creatures, the Targoth, and the Doomsday Man uses them to attack Carol. They touch changes people to Targoth. In the middle of the fight, Carol loses consciousness and when she comes to, she hears some strange people talking about healing her. And she healed. However, during the fight, Carol’s young sidekick Arana is wounded and Arana’s father files a restraining order against Carol.

As a side plot, Carol has a lovely date with her love interest William.

In issue 12 Carol is determined to make up her past mistakes. When Iron Man asks her to lead the Avengers, she accepts but only if she gets her own SHIELD team, Operation Lighting Storm. The team’s stated goal is the take care of threats before they come so huge that Avengers need to get involved. Wonder Man is also part of the team along with three SHIELD agents. However, their first order of business is to locate Julia Carpenter and reunite her with her daughter. But Julia is looking for her, too, and thinks that Carol’s people have Rachel. So she tries to intimidate Carol’s side kick Anya. However, Anya manages to defeat Julia. Despite Carol’s misgivings, Anya wants to help and train.

Even though Carol helps Julia find her daughter, it’s clear that Julia won’t forgive her, or Simon for that matter.

Next, the group tackles AIM and MODOK. Apparently, AIM has some sever internal friction and is in danger of splintering. There are at least three groups who want to become AIM’s next leader. Also, MODOK is sick and is trying to conceal it from his underlings. Carol and her gang get information that AIM is trying to build a DNA bomb. They attack the group with the bomb. However, Carol is lured away with the bomb and meanwhile, MODOK mind blasts Simon, controlling him. MODOK orders Simon to attack Carol. While they fight, the rest of Carol’s team is in trouble against a horde of AIM goons.

Carol’s three SHIELD operatives seemed interesting but we barely got to know them. In fact, I feel that we know far more about the main enemy, MODOK’s scheming son. He will appear later, too.

Carol’s agents were Sum, a mystery man whose specialty wasn’t told to us, Baines is a technology expert, and Locke is a psionic specialist. Maria Hill also resents Carol because she can just make a deal with Tony and get her own minicarrier and staff. Hill even hinted that Carol was sleeping with Tony.

Two sub plots continue: Carol is again severely injured and something or someone strange heals her while her skin turns blue. Also, her love interest William is apparently hiding his true identity and Carol’s publicist blackmails him into leaving. And the dreaded romance triangle with Simon is making itself known.

Once again, Carol sets out with good intentions and they don’t work out like she expected. Her team is scattered and she takes it personally. But she’s determined to be better and do better.

Overall, this an enjoyable read and more realistic than some comics. Carol’s victories are far from absolute and while her powers (and the mysterious helper) keeps her from being too injured, the people around her aren’t so lucky. Yet, she’s determined to do the right thing and be a hero.

Collects Ms Marvel vol. 2 #6-10 and Ms. Marvel Special.

Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Robert de la Torre, Mike Wieringo

The first three issues are tie-ins for Civil War. Carol registered and is loyally following Iron Man’s commands. She and Wonder Man are working as Iron Man’s enforcers; they are sent to round up super humans who are using their powers or gadgets illegally. Many of the illegals resent Ms. Marvel of arresting them because they just want to help people, so things are cut-and-dry to begin with.

However, things get more complicated when Arachne, Julia Carpenter, turns out to be working against them while pretending to work with them. She’s warning the illegals whenever she can about Ms. Marvel’s group coming to arrest them. When Julia’s cover is blown, she and her lover Shroud become fugitives.

Then Carol and Simon are sent to talk to a new underage super hero, Anya Corazon aka Arana who has a carapace which hides her face. At first Anya’s father is strongly against Anya registering but she wants to help people and get training. Then SHIELD locates Julia. It turns out that she’s going to get her daughter before fleeing the country (duh). Thing’s get really ugly when Carol’s team goes the Julia’s parents’ house and Julia is literally dragged screaming away right in front of her young daughter. Not surprisingly, this upsets Anya and Carol is starting to get doubts about working for Tony.

These issues explore the difference of what is legal and what is right. The registration law gives ample opportunity for that. I enjoyed Carol’s role here and that she started to doubt what she was doing. I also enjoyed the camaraderie between Carol and Simon, although I smell a start of a romance. (I read these when they first came out but I don’t remember if their relationship went any further than casual flirting. For the record, I much prefer a friendship than another failed romance attempt.) However, in the next story we’re introduced to William Wagner who is Carol’s designated love interest.

The next issue starts with Rogue in Carol’s apartment asking her why she had attacked Rogue. Carol hasn’t done that and it turns out that a Carol from an alternate universe is responible. Carol has to face her real feelings towards Rogue. Personally, I feel that Carol would have been more than justified if she never forgave Rogue or punched her lights out every time their met. Rogue not only absorbed Carol’s powers permanently but also Carol’s memories and that’s unforgivable. Of course, Carol is a hero and the fact that she was able to move on and treat Rogue even in a friendly manner is a testament to her character.

The issue ends with Carol deciding to face the consequences of her actions. This decision will, of course, cost her. Anya will become a recurring side kick character and I like her. She’s a spirited kid who wants to help people. She’s just turning 16 so she has strong opinions and makes mistakes. She even has a side kick of her own: her father who is trying to protect her. She also doesn’t hog the spotlight from Carol. On the other hand, she will be hurt just to teach Carol some lessons.

I enjoyed this collection more than the first one because the stories felt more connected to Carol and her long history specifically.

I don’t have Ms. Marvel special and it’s not in Marvel Unlimited.

Tie in to the House of M event.
Collects Fantastic Four: House of M 1-3 and Iron Man: House of M 1-3.

Writer: John Layman (FF), Greg Pak (Iron Man)
Artist: Scott Eaton, Don Hillsman III (FF), Pat Lee (Iron Man)

Now this is what I want from alternate universe stories!
The Fantastic Four is now the Fearsome Four! It’s led by Victor von Doom himself who has the ability to change into metal. Others are the Invincible Woman, Doom’s wife Valeria who has telekinetic powers, the Inhuman Torch, Doom’s adopted son Kristoff who controls fire, and the It, Ben Grimm changed into a monster by cosmic rays.

Finally it looks like Doom has everything he’s ever wanted, a family, his mother still alive, and he’s also the absolute ruler of Latveria. But one thing this still irks him (and his mother): as a human he’s just Doom’s lackey. And so he starts to plot House of M’s downfall. He’s still the same power hungry despot and views everyone who isn’t in his family as lower beings. His family is much the same way, enjoying killing people or letting them live in fear. They’re pretty much opposite of the real FF.

In the second issue we see the sad fates of Susan Richards, Reed Richards, and John Jameson, the astronauts who crashed into water near Latveria where Doom found them. Still, Ben was alive and Doom decides to keep him that way. But poor Ben is barely capable of speech, even though he does seem to understand everything going around him, and his appearance scares other people. So, he’s kept in a cage when he isn’t going out to fight Doom’s enemies and even then, Doom keeps him on a leach.

Victor’s mom turns out to be a nasty character. She belittles Doom’s achievements and wants him to be the Emperor of Earth. Doom’s, Kristoff’s, and Valeria’s powers seem to be the result of magic and not science.

The plot has some great action scenes but it also gives Doom time to reflect and scheme from time to time.

I also greatly enjoyed the Iron Man miniseries, too. In this wold, Tony is still the brilliant inventor and business man but not Iron Man because he’s still just a human. Dr. Pym, Dr. McCoy, and Forge work for him. As a hobby, Tony fights against mock-Sentinels alongside sports stars Johnny Storm… and Howard Stark, Tony’s dad. They all fight in power armors, otherwise they wouldn’t have a chance. Howard has retired from business and Tony is still trying to win his dad’s approval. Tony finds out that Pym has been working on mapping the mutant gene which would cause the House of M to turn against Stark Industries and maybe the mapping would even be used by the Sapiens resistance to kill thousands of mutants. Pym disappears with his work. Tony turns to his secret project: a power armor to rival the Sentinels. He strongly suspects that Pym is working with the human terrorists and so he tracks Pym down with his power armor. True enough, he finds a group of terrorists and attacks them, looking for Pym. However, a couple of Sentinels attack him first; Tony is after all a human in an illegal power armor. To his surprise, Howard Stark is in control of one of the Sentinels.

This story has lots of familiar characters who have been twisted around: Tony, Johnny, Pym. The limited cast allows the writer time to really explore the different circumstances that characters are in rather than moving breathlessly from one action scene to the next. Tony has a lot of inner demons to fight. Howard is alive but he doesn’t seem to have the best relationship with his son. Tony is also walking a tightrope between pleasing House of M and trying to keep them from hurting people with technology Tony’s company has developed.

The series happens before Wolverine and the X-Men come to remind Tony of the real history. The FF series also happens before the events in the major series.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Olivier Coipel

This an alternate universe story which was advertised as the biggest event in Marvel near history and led to the big event: “No more mutants”.

The story starts with Scarlet Witch seeing a memory/dream about giving birth to her twins and Professor X reminding her that they aren’t real. (by the way, this retcon was one of the stupidest thing ever! Grr!) Xavier and Magneto are keeping her in destroyed Genosha because her powers are too strong and they’re driving her mad. Apparently, she attacked the other Avengers and killed some of them and now she’s confined and Xavier and Dr. Strange are trying to cure her but without results. In New York, X-Men and Avengers are meeting to decide what they should do with her. Emma is trying to convince the others that she should be killed, but Cap is against it. In the end, they decide to see her first and head out to Genosha. However, Wanda is gone.

Then the world changes. It’s a world where mutants aren’t hunted. However, that means that the mutants are the dominant species, rather than humans. And Magneto and his family (Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Polaris) are the rulers of mutants, as the House of M.

Many of our heroes have gotten what they want. Peter is married to Gwen and they have a son. Allison Blaire’s one of the most popular TV-show hosts ever and Simon is a famous actor. Carol is the most celebrated heroine in US even though she’s not a mutant. Scott and Emma live together as ordinary people. Ororo is a princess. And mutants can live openly without fear. On the other hand, the Fantastic Four are dead leaving little Franklin an orphan and Remy is a small-time car thief, so not everyone got their dreams come true.

Wolverine also got what he most wished for: his memory back. However, that also means that he knows the true history and that it has been changed. He leads the House of M’s security forces and Mystique is his lover. But we don’t get to see much of his life because almost immediately he decides to run for his life and look for other heroes to fight against House of M.

The series has plenty of action and especially hero against hero fights. It’s fast-paced and entertaining. It also has some interesting ideas, but none of them are explored fully. Instead, the story rushes from one fight scene to the other. We get to see that the heroes are changed but not really know much about them before they’re made aware of the change and they’re back to their regular selves. This is a shame because I love alternate universes and alternate versions of characters I know well. However, I believe we get to know more about this history and characters in the sister series, like House of M: Avengers.

But I most disliked about the series was Wanda’s use as nothing more than a plot device. She’s now incredibly powerful but really unstable. I also wasn’t too wild about the new character who had the convenient powers to solve the biggest problem in the series. And yes, I know she’s supposed to be there but she was still way too convenient.

Even though this reality is better for some people, there’s no question about letting it exist. Spider-Woman is the only one to even question the combined heroes’ decision to combat Magneto in order to change reality back to the original way. At some point it was claimed that this was Xavier’s dream come true but here mutants stomp down on humans in order to thrive. This isn’t the peaceful co-existence that Xavier envisioned. More like Magneto’s dream come true.

Collects issues 1-5 of Ms. Marvel vol 2 and Giant-Size Ms. Marvel.

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Roberto de la Torre

The new Ms Marvel series starts right after House of M alternate universe story where our heroine Carol Danvers was the most popular hero in New York, a genuine celebrity who could do no wrong. Unfortunately for her, she still remembers that reality because in the here and now she’s not that perfect. She’s undoubtedly a hero but she’s also a recovering alcoholic and she has a tendency to rush into things without thinking. She was also permanently harmed by Rogue who absorbed her original powers along with her memories and personality.

She’s a long time Avenger and adventurer, so her brashness is a bit odd, like the writers don’t know what to really make of her. On the other hand, she used to be a pilot and they aren’t known for their contemplative personalities.

It’s also quite a challenge to introduce a long-time hero to the audience but the first issue does this just fine. (Of course, I met Carol when she was Binary, so I’m not really in the right position to judge new reader’s reaction.) A young man with the power to make words come into reality starts to read Carol’s book about her adventures in space. Unfortunately, his pictures start to impact the world around him and he conjures Carol’s old enemy to life again. The boy turns out to be an A.I.M project and we will see him again.

Next Carol fights the Brood for two issues. The Brood are being hunted by a being called the Cru who is also after some Cavorite Crystals which are powerful enough to destroy the world. Carol is injured quite badly in the fight but pursues Cru by herself. Carol proves here her continuing rashness because she loses the fight against Cru and a whole town is destroyed, killing thousands of people. This isn’t really an auspicious start for our heroine!

Then Traveler from House of M makes an appearance. He’s a sorcerer who can travel between universes and through time, and he’s fixated on Carol. (He wasn’t in the House of M miniseries, though. Maybe in the House of M: Avengers? I’ll have to look those up.) He seems evil enough but in these issues at least, he wasn’t terribly memorable. He’s babbling nonsense in the first issue and Carol contacts Dr. Strange for help. However, Traveler manages to incapacitate the good doctor who just has enough time to ask Carol for help. Unfortunately, I don’t think Traveler is very good at the time travel stuff. This plot line wasn’t satisfying to me at all. The fifth issue ends with a cliffhanger leading to Civil War.

A continuous plot point in the series is media. Carol has hired a publicist and is trying to lift her image in the media. This means interviews and appearances in TV-shows. Marvel heroes have always had quite a mixed relationship with the (in-world) media. X-Men are usually hated just because they’re mutants but sometimes they even get good press (usually a Christmas issue). The Avengers are usually adored and even get parades in their honor but sometimes they’re accused of being mutant lovers or murderers. No wonder Carol wants to be in control. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t interest me terribly.

Unfortunately, I don’t have Giant-Sized Ms Marvel and it’s not in Marvel Unlimited, either.

These stories are a bit rough start for Carol; she makes mistakes and in unsure of herself in way that feels a bit odd for a long-time hero but at the same time makes her more human. On the other hand, we see that she isn’t perfect and that she’s aspiring to do better.

Carol isn’t my favorite hero ever but she’s very interesting and I think she has a lot of potential. I loved her powers when she was Binary but now they’re more generic. (Oh, Marvel? Are you looking for a female hero for a movie or series of movies? Right here! Need spy stuff: Carol Danvers before she got her powers. Need space opera: Binary and the Starjammers. Straight superhero stuff: Ms Marvel/Warbird of the Avengers.)

Collects issues 1-28 and annuals 1-3 of the Marvel comics which ran originally 1977-1979.

Writers: Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, and others
Artists: Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, and Dave Cockrum and various others
Publisher: Dark Horse

I’ve read about half of these comics before. The John Carter comics were also printed here in Finland and I managed to collect about half of them from various second-hand shops. For some reason, I never managed to get my hands on the comics which has the endings of the storylines, so it was great to finally read them all together.

It’s actually almost astonishing to me how long most the storylines ran: for example, the first one the Air-Pirates of Barsoom was 10 issues long and the final story, the Master Assassins was 12 issues. Today it seems that a writer can barely make a three issue arc.

Almost all of these stories happen during the 10 years John spent on Mars, during the first book, A Princess of Mars, and they use the familiar cast from that book: John, Dejah, Tar Tarkas, Sola, Kantos Kan. The villains are, of course, new.

The first storyline is the Air-pirates of Mars and it starts with Dejah kidnapped and John going to her rescue. Dejah is kidnapped several times during the story and John is even blackmailed to help her kidnappers, the air pirates, or she will be killed. The story focuses on John but there are some scenes in Helium, too, where the pirates are trying to turn the public opinion against John. Even though Dejah is kidnapped, she isn’t a total damsel in distress; in fact in she ends up rescuing herself. Also, Tars Tarkas is torn between his desire to live in Helium (and take part in all of the adventures :)) and being the leader that his people need.

The next is a one-shot called ”The origin of Dejah Thoris”. However, this is a shortened version of A Princess of Mars focusing on Dejah and John’s romance. I was expecting Dejah’s childhood, based on the headline.

Then we get a three issue story where John and Tars battle the undead! This was great fun.

After a couple of one-shots the majority of the rest of the collection is taken up with the massive The Master-Assassins of Mars story. This is perhaps the most unlike Burroughs’ books because it brings to us an additional human race: the orovars. They are light-skinned, like John, but the men have wings and they keep the red Barsoomians as slaves. They live a great canyon and their religion teaches that there’s nothing beyond it, so they don’t venture out and meet the other races. However, in spirit, this story is very fine pulp adventure and I enjoyed it throughly.

It’s interesting to note that during the Master-assassins storyline, Dejah is portrayed as not just a skilled warrior but equal to the assassins and she’s even capable of killing four trained opponents at the same time. Of course, the writer is Chris Claremont who brought us many capable X-women, so I’m not surprised.

The last three stories are from annuals and so somewhat longer. One of them seems to be an adaption of Burroughs’ short story and in one of the John meets the Kaldanes and Rykors (the all head race and the headless race) from the Chessmen of Mars.

Overall, I think that these stories keep to the pulp adventure spirit of the books and I think people who enjoyed the books will also enjoy this collection. However, there’s an awful lot of word boxes in all of the stories, sometimes even explaining in words what is happening in the pictures, like the writers’ didn’t believe the reader would understand the plot or setting just from the art. The writing mimics Burroughs’ pulp style.

Collects X-Men vol 3 issues12-15 and Giant X-Men 1

Writer: Christopher Yost
Artists: Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Dalabor Talajic

This is an interesting attempt to retcon new villains into the X-Men continuity. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it, either, which is a good thing because I usually end up hating the retcons. Sadly, it ended up being more of an “meh”.

Scott is the main view point character in this story and we see a most of the plot through his eyes.

He wakes up in the Utopia island with Emma but dreaming of Jean. It turns out that a group of Neo has attacked the island and Emma is so “worried about Scott’s blood pressure” that she doesn’t want him to know. But of course Scott runs out to join the fray. The Neo are holding their own against Magneto, Storm, and Namor so they are an actual threat against the combined mutants on the island. Then Scott has a sort of seizure and remembers things about his past which have been suppressed. When the original X-Men fought Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, they were interrupted by three armored beings calling themselves the Evolutionaries. They offer to kill of all humans everywhere in order to protect the mutants and ensure that their mutation will continue. Apparently (Avengers Forever notwithstanding) the humans are an evolutionary dead-end and need to be wiped out. When the Evolutionaries offer this to Charles Xavier, he’s horrified, of course. Then we get back to “now”.

One Evolutionary appears with sidekicks.. He declares the Neo a threat to the survival of Homo Superior and kills them all. Everywhere. Cyclops protests and Evolutionary turns against him, claiming that he isn’t fit to lead mutants. Fighting starts and Scott remembers more and more about his past dealings with the Evolutionaries.

The Evolutionaries are searching for the one man who leads all of mutantkind. This seems mightly weird because humans have never had that sort of leader. So why should mutants have? They’re also extremely powerful but they only want to use their power in an extreme way, so it’s very hard to negotiate with them.

We get to see the original X-Men is action when they talk about the Evolutionaries’ offer and fight them. We also see the original, evil Magneto, which is always fun. However, this didn’t really add anything new to the X-Men’s world.

Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 147 other followers