July 2014

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.

13 episodes and two of them are two-parters so 15 episodes in total.

Episodes: Herne’s son part 1 and 2, The Power of Albion, The Inheritance, The Cross of St. Cirius, The Sheriff of Nottingham, Cromm Curac, The Betrayal, Adam Bell, The Pretender, Rutterkin, The Time of the Wolf part 1 and 2.

Robin of Loxley is dead. But Herne the Hunter needs a son who will give the people hope, so he chooses Robert, the only son of the Earl of Huntingdon. However, Robert doesn’t want that responsibility, even though he can see the oppression and injustice all around him. He rejects Herne’s calling and returns to his father’s castle. Robert’s life isn’t ideal, either; his father looks down on him.

The series picks up after a year of Robin’s death. Marion has been pardoned but the others are still outlaws and have scattered around. When Marion is kidnapped, Robert gathers the Merry Men and they rescue her from Lord Owen of Clun. Owen has a magician who can use real magic and he’s the Merry Men’s antagonist in two other episodes’ too.

When I first watched this, I really resented Praed having left the show, so poor Robert never even had a chance to win me over. Robert was romancing Marion which was double aggravating. Now, I don’t resent the change quite so much, but I still think that Jason Connery just isn’t as charismatic. Even so, the Herne’s Son double feature is one of my favorite episodes; Robert tracks down almost all of the male Merry Men (except Nasir) and fights with them in order to convince them that he’s capable of leading them. Apparently, to outwit the sheriff, a leader needs to be good at swimming, staff fighting, and fisticuffs. 🙂 I really enjoyed the depressed Merry Men and the way Will fought against Robert and half the town was epic. Oh, and that sheriff of the town where Will was staying! And his cousin Ambrose. However, Robert will never be Robin to me.

This season used one of my favorite tropes: forcing enemies to work together and no less than three times! In “the Sheriff of Nottingham”, the king has grown tired of the Sheriff’s inability to capture the famous wolfheads and appoints an even worse man as Sheriff. The Sheriff we love to hate is dismissed in disgrace and he has to ask Robert and his band for help. In “Adam Bell” the famous outlaw has kidnapped the Sheriff’s young nephew and the Sheriff thinks that an outlaw is the best one to outwit another outlaw. And in “The Pretender”, the Sheriff finds out about a plot against their new Queen and Robert is the only man who could stop it. Granted, they don’t go out and adventure together, (except in “the Sheriff of Nottingham”!), and they hardly have a cordial relationship after each episode – if anything, after “Adam Bell” they have more reason to hate each other.

I also enjoyed “the Power of Albion” where Robert uses the fact that nobody knows yet that he’s the new Hooded Man and just walks into Nottingham.

I really enjoyed this season, too. The ensemble cast is still fantastic and the writing is just as good as in the previous season. I can’t think of an episode I wouldn’t gladly rewatch. My least favorite subplot was the Robert/Marion romance and that was pretty understated. No doubt, part of the reason I enjoyed this show so much was that they had just a handful of episodes so there was no room for filler… but I still long for that alternate universe were we got that final fourth season.

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