comics


Collects X-Men (2019) issue 1-6.

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Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Lenil Francis Yu

Publisher: Marvel

Publication year: 2020

This was an interesting start to the next stage of X-Men. Most mutants live in the island paradise of Krakoa where they are immortal and happy. Except that the rest of the world still views them with suspicion and that the most powerful and experienced mutants must protect the rest.

A case in point is the Orchis, made up of the remains of many villainous human organizations, such as Hydra, A.I.M., and even S.H.I.E.L.D. They have an orbiting base where they’re creating weapons against mutants. Storm, Magneto, Polaris, and Cyclops attack them. They free captured mutants but also one who is apparently ”posthuman”.

The issue starts with a bang and a fight. Later we get to see our heroes in a more relaxed setting. Summer House in on the Moon. The Summers clan live there: Scott, Havok, Jean, Rachel, Nathan… and Logan. Corsair and the Starjammers are visiting.

In the next issue, another island approaches Krakoa. Scott, Nathan, and Rachel investigate. We get a couple of nice moments between them, but mostly they fight the locals. However, Krakoa and the next island merge so now the paradise island has dangerous new places. The mutants’ Silent Council is introduced. In retrospect, Scott made grave tactical errors in this issue.

In the next issue, four mysterious figures invade the island. I rather enjoyed the new villains, the Hordeculture and their confrontation with Scott and Sebastian Shaw. On the other hand, the new villains made our mutants look like incompetent idiots.

Issue four centers on politics. Krakoa is a new nation but already so powerful that the human nations are afraid of it, and for a good reason. Still, Krakoa’s representatives are asked to join a summit between nations. Magneto, Professor X, and Apocalypse are the diplomats while Cyclops and Gorgon are security. Once again, humans appear friendly, but assault squads are ready. I loved how Magneto flat out told the humans that Krakoa is soon going to be the economic powerhouse of the world because of the awful way that humans treat each other and others.

The next issue shows us that having a paradise island isn’t without a cost. Cyclops and Logan send three mutants to investigate the Vault, a place where time flows differently. They’ve chosen three who are most likely to survive it: X-23, Darwin, and Synch. While Storm and Cyclops attack the Vault as a distraction, the three try to infiltrate it. If they succeed, they could be inside for hundreds of years form their perspective. If they don’t, they die.

The final issue continues the shadowy dealings, this time with Mystique who has infiltrated the Orchid and tries to sabotage them as best she can. She’s doing it to get back Destiny. While she made a deal with Xavier and Magneto, they have no intention of keeping the deal. This feels huge out of character for both of them. Of course, Mystique has her own plots.

This was a very interesting beginning, showing us both a paradise for most mutants and yet it has a clear dark side, as well. This clearly starts off long storylines. Issue five ends in a cliffhanger and nothing is really resolved.

I enjoyed seeing most of the characters relatively happy and I’m very intrigued to see that Logan lives with the Summers clan.

The mutants have a lot of things going for them: five mutants who can resurrect apparently any mutant, Krakoa’s flowers which can create instant gateways between Krakoa and any place, medicines and healers, relatively safe place to heal and live. To balance it out, they also have a lot of enemies, including some nations.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 18-21, Annual #1, and Batman/Superman #8-9.

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Writers: Paul Levits, Greg Pak

Artists: R. B. Silva, Scott McDaniel, Diogenes Neves, Jae Lee

This was a pretty good collection, although issue 18, the first one, was the last issue in the previous collection. Karen’s powers are out of control. She and Hel fight a new threat, a girl whose tattoos come to life.

Next is my favorite story in the collection: the adventures of Robin and Supergirl. This is set on Earth-2 where Helena is Robin and fights alongside her dad, Batman. Karen is still in hiding because her cousin Superman wants to keep her a secret weapon against Darkseid’s forces. But both girls long to be more independent, so they set out on their own.

Next starts the First Contact crossover, where the Huntress and the Power Girl finally meet Batman and Superman. Karen’s unstable powers worry Helena more and more. She finally asks for help from this world’s Batman. He’s younger than her dad and while they have similarities, they also have differences. Helena breaks into the Batcave. Bruce doesn’t want to believe her claims, but his instincts tell him that she’s telling the truth. So, he and Hel fly (on a Batplane) to see Karen, whose powers are making her a danger to everyone around her. She’s so much out of control that Superman must intervene.

However, whatever is affecting Karen infects Clark, too. Bruce must take him out with kryptonite. Then Hel and Bruce start tracing the nanobits that are affecting the Kryptonians. The team-up is pretty interesting. Hel and Karen can’t help but to compare the men they know to this world’s doubles. Clark and Bruce are younger than their counterparts. Bruce doesn’t trust anyone and not even his own instincts. He wants logic to back up his hunches. Clark doesn’t really trust Hel and Karen, but he still does his best to help Karen. While the story is fight-heavy (since it’s a superhero comic…) we get some very interesting character interaction and even growth. This was a good ending to the Karen’s powers are unstable plotline. Unfortunately, I’ve already read Batman/Superman vol. 2 Game Over where the story is also printed.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 6-12.

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Writer: Paul Levitz

Artists: Kevin Macguire, George Perez, Cafu, Cliff Richards, Yildiray Cinar, Ken Lashely, Barry Kitson, Geraldo Borges, Robson Rocha

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2013

The series that portrays best friends Helena Wayne, the Huntress, and Karen Starr, the Power Girl, continues! They’re from Earth 2 which was devastated by Darkseid’s forces and now they’re looking for a way back. This collection has shorter stories, each two issues, which seem at first disconnected from each other. Also, the final issues concentrate on the disappearence of Michael Holt which happened in the Mr. Terrific’s comic. I didn’t even know Power Girl and Mr. Terrific were dating.

In the first issue, Helena has broken into Wayne Industries to ”borrow” money for her next identity, but she’s ambushed by the new Robin, Damien. They battle, of course. Meanwhile, Karen is in space putting something on Morgan Edge’s satellite. When Helena is in trouble with Damien, Karen interferes and Damien finally listens. It seems that someone is stealing millions every week from Wayne industries. Damien and the women agree to track down the perp.

The next issue is the team-up. Robin and the Huntress go north and battle wolves while tracking down a lead, while the Power Girl goes to Mali where she’s confronted by children who have apparently energy weapons from Apokolips.

In the next issue, assassins are after Helena. It seems that Ibn Hassan (whom I haven’t heard of before) put a large prize on her head. She’s shot and beaten so she’s confined to bed. While Karen hunts down the man who is responsible for the prize, Helena reminiscences about her life on Earth 2 when Batman and Catwoman, her parents, trained her.

Next, a group of mercenaries invades Starr Island, Karen’s home. Wounded Helena defends Karen’s staff against them.

Karen and Hel find out that Michael Holt is behind the assault on Karen’s home. But he disappeared a while ago, after he and Karen split up. Helena looks for clues in Holt Industries. But when someone systematically attacks Karen’s labs, she and Hel go on the offensive. Finally, the villain behind their troubles is revelaed.

This wasn’t as good as the first volume, but I still mostly enjoyed it and I’m eager to read the next one. I again enjoyed the friendship between Helena and Karen. Their personalities are quite different. Hel has been taught how to stay invisible, while Karen enjoys the spotlight, playing her role as a billionaire industrialist. Hel is cool under fire while Karen is brash. However, I dislike Damien and the stories were a bit too disjointed. Also, I found it strange that I’ve never heard of Ibn Hassan or Karen dating Mr. Terrific so those storylines left me cold. The last story ends in a cliffhanger.

However, the complex relationship between Hel and Damien was done well. Neither has ever had a sibling. Yet, they grew to sort of care about each other. I also really enjoyed the glimpses of Hel’s parents and her life with them.

I liked most of the artwork. Perez’s work is as gorgeous as ever but Macguire did most of the work. His more rounded style works well for the Power Girl. However, the fill-in artists’ styles were very different from them which was a little distracting.

Collects four Elseworlds stories in one volume.

Writers: Brian Augustyn, Mark Waid, Jon Bogdanove, Judith Kurzer Bogdanove, John Byrne, Chuck Dixon

Artists: Alcatena, John Byrne, Humberto Ramos, Jon Staton

Publisher: DC

These were fun stories taking our heroes to alternate times and places.

First is the ballad of Leatherwing the pirate. He sails on the Spanish Main, a masked man who robs the Spanish galleons for the English King James. He needs to keep his identity a secret. But the Laughing Man, another pirate captain, has found a way to steal all of Leatherwing’s riches. He requires help from the beautiful Capitana Felina who was once a countess but now a pirate.

The second is Byrne’s alternate Superman story. This time, Gar-El a power-hungry Kryptonian, ends on Earth, in England in 1768. At first, he agrees to serve George III. A couple of years later, certain colonists are trying to get independence, but Gar-El prevents that. Then the story moves to Gar-El’s great-great-great etc. grandson Kal-El. By that time, Gar-El has made himself the sovereign of all Earth. A peaceful empire where he and his army ruthlessly crackdown on everyone who even speaks against him. Kal-El doesn’t care for that and tries to find a way to help the humans.

The third is the best of the bunch, set on a slave plantation during the Civil War. John Henry is the childhood friend of his master’s son, Arthur. While John Henry would like to study, Arthur hates it and blames John Henry for the little misfortunes in his life. Arthur lives up to become a cruel master who tries to break John Henry’s independent spirit.

The last one is ”Citizen Wayne”. It starts when the lifeless bodies of district attorney Harvey Dent and newspaper owner Bruce Wayne are found. Both wearing strange costumes. A young assistant DA investigates both Dent, who was passionate about the law and ridding Gotham of crime boss Maroni, and Wayne who owned a lot of businesses but chose to crusade against criminals on the pages of his newspaper. The DA questions aged Martha Wayne and a couple of more familiar people such as the former commissioner Gordon who is now in a wheelchair because of a crippling incident.

I tend to enjoy alternate universes and these were all good.

Collects The Flash: Rebirth #1 and The Flash #1-8.

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Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artists: Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe

Barry Allen is the fastest man alive, but he’s always late for work and running off in the middle of a date. If you’re familiar with Barry and his problems, this collection doesn’t bring anything new, but for me, it rehashes familiar material pretty well. However, it’s a good introduction for people who haven’t read the Flash before.

First off, Wally West is back and he brings news to Barry that someone has changed the world and the memories of the people. Barry talks with Batman who has already noticed it. They agree to investigate, but secretly. Wally’s storyline continued in Teen Titans comic and the other storyline continues in the miniseries Button.

Issues 1-8 have a story arc that focuses on multiple speedsters and brings a new villain to mess with Barry. These issues also have a different Wally.

Barry has a new best friend, Detective August Heart. He also has a new romantic interest, a scientist at S.T.A.R. labs. He feels that he’s not fast enough to protect everyone… and then a Speed Force Storm appears over the city and strikes several people. They all now have speed powers, but don’t know how to use them.

It was fun to see Barry training the new speedsters and he enjoys his new role, too. Of course, not all of the new speedsters are good and some don’t even want them. And of course one of them is the new villain.

I mostly enjoyed this new beginning but I still prefer the Flash TV show. Barry himself is pretty much the same heroic character but his supporting cast here is much smaller. While the mystery of the new villain was interesting, his motivations were quite a cliche. Also, there’s a twist with the new speedsters, but unfortunately it only came up when convenient for the story and was ignored at other times.

A comic book set in the Anno Dracula world where Dracula rules England. Collects the miniseries issues 1-5.

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Writer: Kim Newman

Artist: Paul McCaffrey

I recommend reading Anno Dracula first. Newman has written a page about the book introducing the setting, but I don’t know if it’s enough.

The story starts with the combined Navies of France, the US, and Germany trying to invade England to get rid of Dracula who now rules openly. But Dracula sends his flying minions and the Royal Navy and apparently also sea monsters, so the invaders don’t have a chance.

In England, some people have grown tired of Dracula’s monstrous reign. Even some vampires want to get rid of him. One of them is Kate Reed, a journalist and a vampire. She has joined the Council of the Seven Days, the seven anarchists, chemists, and poets who want to bring down Dracula. Among them is Christina Light a vampire who turns to light instead of mist and can ensnare the hearts of men. Baron Sunday isn’t a vampire but he seems to have sorcerous powers.

Fah Loo Suee, the daughter of ”the Dragon”, one of the men who rule the underworld, approaches Kate and suggests an alliance between the Seven Days and the criminals. Reluctantly, Kate agrees.

This was an entertaining miniseries. Kate faces a difficult choice. The other narrator is Penelope Churchward, a high-born vampire. She’s politically neutral so she’s chosen to design the tin jubilee of Dracula’s reign.

This was a fun, quick read. It’s full of characters from the books, like Prime Minister Lord Ruthven, Penelope, and Dracula’s Carpathian guards. The underworld rulers also make a brief appearance. It also has surprisingly many female characters which was a delightful surprise. However, the many, many characters will probably be confusing to people who haven’t read the book. Also, the ending felt a bit weak.

This manga is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books. He’s quite young in the series.

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Writer: Ryosuke Takeuchi

Artist: Hikaru Miyoshi

This manga makes professor James Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime, into, well, if not exactly a hero, at least a man who is a hero in his own eyes.

The first volume has three stories. The first centers on Moriarty’s childhood and sets up his background, the other two are set in a village where the noble landowners have cruelly oppressed

the peasants for generations.

The first story gives us a couple of surprises. It’s set in 1866. Count Moriarty and his wife pretend to be kind-hearted toward the peasants in public but in the privacy of their home, their attitudes are very different. They adopt two orphan boys, commoners, but in their home, the boys must work hard and are abused. The end of the story is quite a twist so I won’t spoil it.

The rest of the story concentrates on three brothers: Albert James, William James, and Lewis James. So it’s not clear who is the machiavellian criminal in Doyle’s books or if, indeed, they all are.

William James Moriarty hates the class system. He’s convinced that the classes are the root of all evil. They divide people so that the nobility loathes and belittles the peasants and in turn, the commoners hate and fear the nobles. He wants to bring down the class system, violently. The other two boys agree with him and together they work for a ”better future”. Starting from the second story, William’s plan is working on the background. Albert James works in the military so William gets military contacts for his plan.

In the second story, set in 1879, the three Moriarty boys move to their country estate that is next to the oppressed village, Durham. The local nobles keep so high rents that the commoners don’t have any hope for a better future, just endless hard work. James decides to help the locals. He has set himself up as a private consultant and he’s also a professor of mathematics at Durham University. The worst of the local nobles is Baron Dublin who openly admits that he keeps the rent high so that he can enjoy his life.

The third story is set half into the university. One of the local barmaids is seen dancing dangerously on the edge of a bridge. She falls and dies. The local papers claim it was a suicide but she was a cheerful, happy person and nobody believes that she killed herself. William James Moriarty starts to investigate and uncovers some of the small but terrible things the local university boys can do because they’re nobles, future decision-makers.

The Moriarty in this comic has quite different motives than the criminal in Doyle’s books. While this Moriarty is also a genius who has a memory palace, he is also eager to help the people he meets.

This was a very interesting beginning to the series. It has also been adapted to an anime but I haven’t seen it.

A slice of life humor manga set in a high school. The main characters are demons and angels.

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Finnish publication year: 2014
Finnish publisher: Sangatsu Manga
Format: print
Finnish translator: Antti Valkama

Page count: 147

This is a weird one. Right in the beginning, Gabriel White Tenma is a new angel who has just graduated from angel academy with the highest honors. She’s eager to go to Earth and help humans. But when we see her next, she’s a slacker. She’s only interested in playing MMORPGs and is in danger of failing both Earthly high school and possibly her angelic support as well. She doesn’t really care about anything outside video games and the others have to coax her out of her apartment.

Her friend Vignette April Tsukinose is a demon but she’s the opposite of Gabriel. She attends school and makes Gabriel attend, too. She’s very responsible, almost angel-like. However, sometimes when she really wants something, she can be manipulative. The other major demon is Satanichia who wants to become the mistress of Hell. But the evil things she does are pretty minor even though she thinks they’re major evil. She’s a bit naive. The other angel is Raphiel who is, again, not very angelic. She manipulates people (and demons) for fun. She becomes obsessed with Satanichia and stalks her.

This group of sort-of-friends attends classes and wacky things happen. Gabi also works one day a week at a cafe. She’s terrible at it but the poor cafe owner assumes that Gabi is young and a foreigner so not just tolerates her but also encourages her when she gets even something right. The angels have small angelic powers, but for Gabi they don’t really work and she doesn’t use them much. But Raphiel can teleport to Satanichia when she wants.

As is usual for humor, most of the chapters work for me but some don’t. It’s a nice change of pace every once in a while. The Finnish edition also has explanations about a couple of Japanese cultural things, such as food and eating customs, which I found fascinating.

Gabriel Dropout is also an anime, but I haven’t seen it.

Collects Green Lanterns issues 1-6.

Writer: Sam Humphries

Artists: Ethan van Sciver, Ed Benes, Robson Rocha, Jay Leinstein, Tom Derenick, Jack Herbert, Neil Edwards, Eduardo Pansica, Will Conrad

Publisher: DC

This is the Rebirth Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. They’re both very new to GLs and struggling with both their new powers and duties. Jessica is pretty open that she doesn’t think she’s worth the ring. She has an anxiety disorder and didn’t leave her home for years. She also feels guilty, because her friends died (murdered in some other comic I think) and she ran away and lived. Simon also feels guilty about causing a car accident that left his sister’s husband in a coma for years. His sister doesn’t blame Simon, though. Simon has little experience with the ring but Jessica has none and she can’t even form objects with it. He thinks that she’s a screw-up and she simply doesn’t like him.

In the first issue, we get a little glimpse of their lives and personalities before the ring calls them to action. Hal appears to inform that he’s leaving Earth and they must work as partners. He also claims that the JLA will train the duo. Unfortunately, the training didn’t happen.

Next, our heroes are thrust to action trying to round up aliens. When they find instead a lair of a serial killer, the people in the town are justifiably angry. But their anger grows to unnatural rage. That’s the effect of Rew Dawn, the big threat in this volume. Jess and Simon must find out the source of the rage and put a stop to it.

Both GLs are rookies just learning to use their rings. Simon knows more about it than Jess, though. Both also have very strong inner demons to wrestle with. It was interesting to see a superhero with an anxiety disorder but I’m don’t know if it was handled well. At one point Jess was almost paralyzed with fear but then she just talked herself out of it, which a bit seemed strange. The way that the woman was the anxiety and fear-driven wreck and also a total rookie and the man is an overconfident hotshot who teaches the woman how her own ring works is… well, it’s nothing new. The characters are fine but surprisingly old school. I rather liked their supporting cast. Jessica’s sister is supportive. Simon’s sister’s family supports him.

I’ve only seen these characters in the Rebirth JLA but they seemed to be created before Rebirth, because both have lots of history which are only briefly explored in this volume. I’m also not familiar with the Red Dawn duo of Bleez and Atrocitus. We get Bleez’s tragic backstory which was nice.

The art team is very variable. But their styles work together enough that the changing artists didn’t really bother me.

I feel that this comic was done for long-time GL readers rather than someone new. But I still mostly enjoyed it. Both characters must struggle with their inner demons while they battle very powerful enemies and try to work together.

Collects Age of X-Man: X-Tremists issues 1-5.

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Writer: Leah Williams

Artist: Georges Jeanty

Nate Grey created a utopia for mutants, an alternate reality where everyone is a mutant. The biggest threats in this world are intimate relationships. Love, both romantic and familial, is forbidden. Of course, people still have these dangerous feelings so Nate needs Department X to remove them. Psylocke, Iceman, Northstar, Blob, Jubilee, and Moneta are Department X. Bobby is his old self, joking as much as he can. Jean-Paul is trying to ignore Bobby as much as possible and is more interested in books than working. Betsy carries the heavy load of altering mutants’ memories “for their own good”. Blob is the team leader, but he has feelings of his own toward one of the team members. Jubilee believes in the cause and works her best. Moneta is a new character. She hates anyone who has feelings of love and calls them retrograde.

The team gets a tip about two lovers and heads out to arrest them. Psylocke is supposed to remove their memories of each other. But they find out that the woman, Nezumi, is pregnant. Children are cooked up artificially and no hospital can help in a delivery. What will Department X do? Also, we readers find out more about secrets behind how this society is held together.

Williams explores what the world would be like without intimacy on both societal and a more personal level. How the people must constantly guard against their own feelings and hide them from others. And ultimately how that’s going to fail. However, creating a new character to be the prejudiced idiot felt a bit of a cop out, but of course making an established character into one would alienate the fans of that character. Blob had surprising depth. I rather enjoyed the relationship between Blob and his crush, but I don’t see them getting together in the real world. Too bad we’re not going to see any repercussions of this series in the real world. None of these characters are my favorites but they were an interesting mix, especially as I don’t see any of them joining a secret police force for real.

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