action heroine


Collects Wonder Woman (vol 3) issues 40-44.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Chris Batista, Fernando Dagino, Doug Hazelwood, Raul Fernandez, Nicola Scott

Simone’s final collection has again two story lines. Murder of Crows is a two-part story guest-starring Power-Girl. The five (male) children of Ares and some of the Amazons have apparently mind-control powers. They talk to people and make them believe what they want, even inciting violence. They start with twisting Diana’s heroic battles by questioning if she was heroic or if she was working with the villains in the first place. Then they use their power on Power-Girl and twist her against Diana. The lasso of truth plays a big part, of course.

The final story line is the Wrath of the Silver Serpent where an alien armada comes to Washington and only Diana and her friends can stop them. This story hails back to second story line in “The Circle.” A couple of Green Lanterns find a world devastated and the destroyers are heading to Earth. The space ship makes a force field around Washington DC. so nobody can get in or out. So, only Diana, Achilles, the gorillas, and the remnants of the DMA can resist the Citizenry.

The Citizenry have huge silver snakes which can destroy whole cities and in the end, they will ground the whole planet into food and fuel for the Citizenry and their ships. But their leader turns out to be a more personal menace to Diana: she’s Diana’s aunt Astarte.

This was a good ending to Simone’s run. Once again, Diana shows her strengths as a warrior, a diplomat, and a strategist. She’s confronted by a horrible nation where children are turned into remorseless killers from a young age. Yet, she finds compassion for them and offers peace before she’s forced to use violence. Still, there are a couple mysteries which were left unsolved. The biggest being Astarte’s history; she remembers herself and Hippolyta as children while in this incarnations, they were all created as adult Amazons. Also, we don’t get to see Hippolyta’s and Astarte’s meeting after being apart for 3000 years.

Still, I quite enjoyed Simone’s run.

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The first book in the second Roma Nova trilogy. It can be read without reading the other books first. In fact, if you don’t like spoilers, I recommend starting with this book because it’s a prequel to the first trilogy.

Publication year: 2015
Format: ebook
Publisher: Pulcheria Press
Page count: 370

It’s 1960s and Aurelia Mitela is one of the elite Praetorian guards in Roma Nova. Her mother, the leader of the politically powerful Mitela family, is trying to make her to contract with Caius Tellus whose family is also politically powerful. Contracting is sort-of like marrying except that the man doesn’t own the woman’s property and the man joins the woman’s family. Aurelia has known him from childhood but she also knows that he’s not a good man; in fact he might be a psychopath. So, she firmly tells her mother no.

Aurelia’s assigned to a training exercise at the mountains bordering Prussia and Roma Nova. By accident, her group almost catches a group of smugglers but the last of the smugglers gets away, leaving only derisive laughter echoing behind him. Aurelia is notified that her mother, Felicia, was in an accident. It leaves Felicia mentally incapable of doing much at all. Aurelia tries to take over for her, but when she exhausts herself trying to do everything, she pretty much retires to do just the family paperwork. However, imperatrix of Roma Nova sends her to Berlin. She’s sent to find out who is behind a silver smuggling ring and to generally spy on the Germans.

In Berlin, the pace quickens and the plot has many twists and turns.

If you already like Morton’s style, you’re also going to love this one. It’s terrific alternate history thriller where Aurelia must fight for her own life on several occasions. It’s also full of interesting female characters, from Roma Nova’s empress to various soldiers. Most of the action happens outside Roma Nova in the 1960s, so Aurelia and the women around her are subjected to quite a lot of sexism, too.

Aurelia is actually quite similar to Carina because they’re both soldiers dedicated to the nation and they’re also both tough, competent, and (most of the time) sure of themselves. However, Aurelia has lived her whole life on Roman Nova and in a very wealthy and privileged family and she has a complex relationship with her mother Felicia who isn’t a soldier and can’t understand that world. Aurelia already has a 5-year-old daughter but her father isn’t seen in the book. There’s just a mention that he was unsatisfactory partner. Her daughter is also ill a lot. Aurelia encounters the love of her life in this book, but that aspect doesn’t take over. In fact, he isn’t seen much and remains a very distant character. Also, Aurelia doesn’t have any criminal contacts and isn’t tempted to go outside the system the way that Carina often does.

Her main enemy is similarly very intimidating and competent at playing havoc in Aurelia’s life. We find out some more about Roma Novan economy where silver seems to play a large part. While the previous books had some futuristic equipment, this one has 1960s technology.

Another very enjoyable Roma Nova book. Since the events are in Carina’s past, we already know how things are going to end up but we don’t know any of the details, just the broad strokes. It can be read as a stand-alone book.

Collects Wonder Woman (vol 3) issues 26-33.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Bernard Chang

Simone changes the status quo of the Amazons and their gods in this story. The Hollywood story at the end of the previous collection was a comic breather and now the story is much grimmer.

The Greek gods return to Earth. Apparently, they’re aliens. Darkseid and his underlings have fouled Olympus and on top of that humans, and even the gods’ supposed champion Diana, have abandoned them. The gods are unhappy to say the least. But Zeus has a plan. A terrible plan.

On Earth, Director Steel’s paranoia grows. He sends agent Diana Prince and her team to a mall which has been destroyed by a new superbeing called Genocide. However, Steel claims that he has another job for Tresser who stays behind. However, as soon as Diana is gone, Steel tries to arrest Tresser. But Tresser escapes and is now a wanted fugitive.

Meanwhile, the villains in Secret Society are scheming against Wonder Woman. Cheetah has convinced Dr. Morrow to create something even he’s afraid of.

When Wonder Woman fights Genocide, she realizes that Genocide is or was a deity. Genocide has an aura that makes people despair and she kills a lot of people. She defeats Diana, beating her near to death. Troia and Wonder Girl are called to help her but Genocide continues her rampage to the DMA itself.

This is an intense and grim story. The Greek gods almost literally stab the Amazons in the back when Zeus creates a new group of elite soldiers to serve him, intending to replace the Amazons. They, the Olympians as they’re called, are trying to force the world to become peaceful. Which never works.

Diana faces her most difficult challenge yet when she not only fails to stop Genocide but must lead her friends against the murderous being while grievously wounded. Genocide is a very good villain to challenge WW and more than worthy addition to her rogues’ gallery. It’s also great that she’s not as sexualized as female villains tend to be. Her face isn’t shown, her hair is short and spiky, she doesn’t have a cleavage; in fact her skin isn’t showing much at all. She’s scary and not in a sexy way. However, I can’t help to think that there should have been some more dramatic way to tell her origin, at least to the readers if not to Diana.

The ending is mostly satisfying with some emotional drama and mostly likely a new direction for Diana.

The first book in the Pandora Project trilogy. It’s also the fourth Vigilantes book, a historical superhero series set in 1960s US.

Publication year: 2019
Format: ebook
Publisher: Beautiful Fire
Page count: 329

Colleen Knight’s mother Tina leads a mob family. Colleen’s grandfather tried to make Colleen into a mobster as well; he even threatened to hurt Colleen’s lover unless she did was he wanted. That’s why Colleen left Karen without a word six years ago. However, now her grandfather is dead and she’s trying to distance herself from her mother’s job. Colleen is also afraid of her fire powers; she’s killed people before and now she’s trying to avoid it.

But when Tina asks a favor from Colleen, she can’t say no, especially when she’s asked to save another powered person. To do that, she goes undercover on a river boat, assuming the role of a mistress of a known playboy.

Karen Gray is a spy for a government agency, the Bulwark. She believes that she’s doing good work when she hunts down powered people, sometimes killing them. However, she’s been deep undercover for some years now, as the fiancee of David James, the son of a rich man and powerful man. Karen is given the mission to retrieved yet another powered person from a river boat.

When Karen and Colleen meet unexpectedly, they can’t trust each other and their history together, especially the abrupt break-up, comes between them. But when they find out that the powered person they both need to retrieve is a black child, the mission taken another turn. Colleen and Karen must band together, for a while at least.

Colleen is a black woman and Karen is white. Through Colleen, we see the bigotry of 1960s USA, especially because the river boat is in southern US. But Colleen doesn’t let other people’s attitudes stop her even if sometimes she must bow her head and hide herself. She’s fierce and fights for what she believes in. Karen has also had to fight hard to be accepted as an agent and when she must face the growing evidence that her job might not be what she thought it is, she must decide what’s more important to her: her career or conscience.

Regular people know about powered people and some are afraid of them. Some people, especially the rich and the powerful, want to use powered people as weapons, no matter what that powered person thinks of that.

This is a fast-paced story with twists and turns. The characters are believable and they struggle with both personal feelings and with larger moral issues. The fight scenes are detailed and great. However, the story (as Heinrich’s other books, too) are more bloody than comics; both main characters kill people, sometimes in rather grisly way, while fighting for their lives.

There are some references to DC/Marvel comics, in addition to the names of main characters. I personally got a kick out of Liefeld.

I’m not a romance reader but this time I didn’t mind how old feelings rekindled in Colleen and Karen. Neither has forgotten the other and both were deeply wounded by their break-up. Of course, in 1962 their romance must be a secret.

It’s possible to read the story as a stand-alone but I’d recommend reading from the start. Colleen was introduced in “Shadow Dreams”.

The book starts with a short story “Mizuchi” where Alice as Serpent and Marco as Shadow Master confront a girl who can control water. She’s killing people and the local police are overwhelmed. However, things become more complicated when Alice and Marco realized that she’s barely a teenager who is only killing men who belong to the local Chinese mob.

The book doesn’t quite end in a cliffhanger but the story isn’t finished.

Writer and artist: Yukito Kishiro

Originally started publishing in 1991. Finnish translation started in 2006.

After the tragic end of the previous story line, Alita has vanished. Her mechanic and adoptive father Ido is looking for her increasingly desperately, because she left without a word a month ago. When Ido comes across a couple of thugs trying to rape a woman, he hesitates but beats them up. The woman, Shumira, is immediately attracted to Ido, offering him a place to stay. Instead Ido asks if Shumira has seen Alita. Shumira takes him to the Motorball arena. Alita is there, as one of the contestants. Ido tries to talk with Alita but she just walks away, letting security drag him out. Ido is furious and joins the current champion’s team so that Alita will be humbled and return home safely.

Alita is heart-broken and throws herself into the fights. Motorball is supposed to be a just a game, but a lot of players are seriously hurt or even killed. Alita has a new team and a new body. Unba is her new mechanic and Ed is a former Motorball player who advises her. She also has a small, flying furball, which seems to be there just for a bit of comic relief. Alita is still in the third league but her team pushes her to fight so that she can rise to the first league.

After the more emotional previous plot arch, the new plot arch is focused on fighting or rather playing Motorball. Alita says that she’s starting to see small flashes of her former life while playing. Also, she meets rivals, such as Ajakutty whom she has to play against in order to get the player number she wants, 99. Her biggest opponent is the current champion Jashugan who fights with the power of his mind as well his cyborg body. Alita says that she needs challenges to make life worth living. However, in order to challenge Jashuagan directly, she needs a team of Motorball players.

We finally get another female character, Shumira. She’s much more sexualized than Alita, wearing revealing clothing and flirting with Ido. She’s the younger sister of Jashugan. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with her. On the last page, we also glimpse a third female character who is a Motorball player.

Despite the focus on battle, there’s some character growth as well, for Alita, Ido, and even for Jashugan. Ido wants Alita back and doesn’t care what the cost will be for Alita. No doubt he must confront his actions later. Alita has abandoned Ido in her pain and refuses to even talk to him.

The third collection in English seems to have the chapters 13 through 17. The comic ends in a cliffhanger when Alita and her Motorball team are going to engage the champion of the second league.

The Finnish edition (Gunnm 3: Teurastajaenkeli) has chapters 12-17.

Writer and artist: Yukito Kishiro

Originally started publishing in 1991. Finnish translation started in 2006.

Alita meets Yugo, a teenager who is living by himself and working very hard to support himself. Alita is immediately attracted to him, his brash manner, and the way he admires Zalem, the city in the sky where the wealthy people live. When a criminal Alita is tracking attacks, Alita conceals her fighting abilities from Yugo, which I found very strange. Alita softens up the criminal behind Yugo’s back (literally) but Yugo kills him and claims the head. Alita has been disgusted with the practice of bringing in heads to get paid but when Yugo tells her that he needs to gather 10 million credits so that he can go to Zalem, Alita decides to help him. Yep, Alita has fallen in love with Yugo. Unfortunately for her, he doesn’t feel the same way, focusing on his jobs instead.

However, trouble is on the horizon, because Yugo is the infamous “spine thief”. Spines are very expensive. Yugo and his group of two other young thieves knock out cyborgs and steal their spines. However, Yugo leaves them always alive. But when the local big crime boss Vector notices what Yugo and his friends are doing, he wants to expand the operation, working quicker and killing the victims afterward.

Meanwhile, one of the bounty hunters whom Alita battled and humiliated earlier, wants revenge. He realizes what Yugo is doing and is determined to put a bounty on Yugo’s head, forcing Alita to kill her love or to defend him and make herself a rogue bounty hunter, fair game for the other hunter-warriors.

We also get to see Yugo’s life and what makes him tick.

This second collection deepens the world and the characters. It’s also not focused as much on combat, but instead on Alita and Yugo’s growing relationship (or rather Alita’s growing obsession over him), Alita’s insecurity because she’s not a ‘real girl’, and Ito’s concern over her. Alita is faced with tough choices and also feelings about herself. She worries that because her cyborg body is so much stronger than a human body, she can never be with Yugo.

I didn’t care for Yugo and it seemed like Alita fell for the first boy near her own (emotional) age. But of course they’re both teenagers and so very focused on themselves. I’m also not sure where her impulse to hide her artificial body and her combat skills came from. Ido surely didn’t teach her that. I guess it’s just a means to create conflict in her. While I didn’t care for the main story line, I still really like Alita, her determination and loyalty. She’s also very proud and quick to anger.

The second collection in English seems to have the chapters 8 through 12. The comic ends at an natural break in the plot.

The Finnish edition (Gunnm 2: Rautaneito) has chapters 7-11. It ends with a cliffhanger.

Collects Wonder Woman vol. 4. issues 7-12. The New 52 relaunch.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

The previous collection, Vol. 1: Blood, ended in a cliffhanger when Haades took Zola (and her unborn child, of course) to the Underworld with him. Now, Diana and her team of Lennox and Hermes must get her back. To do that, Diana turns to Eros and Hephaestus. Unfortunately, things go wrong and while Hermes is able to take Zola back to the world of living, Diana must agree to stay and be Haades’ bride. The rest of the team tries to get her back. Getting to Hell again isn’t too hard because some of them have been invited into the wedding, along with Strife. Fortunately, Diana doesn’t need anyone else to save her.

Then the plot kicks up even higher when Hera sends Apollo and Artemis after Zola and her unborn child.

I must say that the unusual way the deities look is really growing on me. I didn’t even blink an eye when we saw Eros with double pistols. Artemis actually looked pretty cool as a pure white woman. The god of the forge looks like an ogre which seems oddly appropriate. The other thing I found strange was that the deities called each other by their (currently) primary sphere of influence. Hermes is Messenger, Hephaestus is smith, Ares is War, Artemis Moon, Eris is Strife. However, nobody calls Hera Marriage or Women or Fertility for some reason. Most likely, because it doesn’t sound cool. Of course, each Greek deity has several spheres so calling them with just one is strange. For example, Apollo could just was well be Muse or Healing or Diseases, as Sun.

However, I don’t understand why DC wanted to change the Amazons even further. This time we’re told that three times in a century, the Amazons go to ships and have sex with the sailors. Then they kill the sailors. All girl children stay with the Amazons but the boys are given to Hephaestus as virtual slaves. If he doesn’t take them, they’re killed. And apparently not one Amazon has a problem with that? That’s damn cold and very strangely different because previously Diana was the only child on the island and the others were all immortal. Now, DC has stripped them of immortality and made them mortals and pretty strange ones at that. So, from (mostly) noble women warriors to cold killers of lovers and babies? Not good. Then again, DC has treated the Amazons pretty harshly in the past, from the whole strange Amazons Attack story line to periodically destroying the Paradise Island.

Except for that, I rather enjoyed the adventures in the Underworld with various Greek deities. Diana was able to hold her own against them. In the final issue, she suddenly got a weird power boost from nowhere which was very strange. The collection ends again in a cliffhanger.

Again I enjoyed Chiang’s artwork a lot.

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