comics


Collects issues 1-4. Elseworlds comics.

Writer: Ron Marz
Artists: Igor Kordey
Publisher: DC, Titan comics

Bruce Wayne is opening a new wing to the Gotham Museum of Natural History and to fill it up he has also funded an expedition to Africa. Finnegan Dent has brought all sorts of interesting stuff to the Thomas and Martha Wayne wing from Africa. At the wing’s opening, Bruce meets Lord Greystoke.

At night, Catwoman breaks into the Museum and steals some pieces. Both Batman and Tarzan confront her. She reveals herself to be a priestess of Sakhmet, princess Khefretari from a secret African city of Mamnon. She’s only trying to get back pieces which was stolen from her city. It quickly turns out that Dent is a rogue and thief rather than an archeologist and he wants more of the secret city’s treasures. Tarzan and Batman want to protect Khefretari’s people and confront Dent. So, the trio travels to Africa and travel to Mamnon.

This isn’t Earth shatteringly good but it’s a quick read. As an Elseworlds comic, none of the other familiar Batman characters appear and Batman even says that he doesn’t any partners, so no Robin in this universe. Marz teases us a little with the name Dent and what happens to him later.

This isn’t the environmentalist Tarzan I remember reading about in comics in my youth (in Finland. I have no idea where they originally came out.) but a more violent man who has no qualms about killing animals or humans to survive. Batman is sternly against killing and chastises Tarzan a couple of times. Even though they’re somewhat similar, being both orphans, they have quite different worldviews.

Sadly, I didn’t care for the art at all.

Collects Silk issues 1-6 and Amazing Spider-Man 1.

Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee, Tana Ford, Veronica Fish

Cindy Moon’s life has changed quite a bit after the events in Secret Wars. For one thing, she’s now a criminal and working with the Black Cat! The Cat’s goon squad is fighting the Goblin King’s army (Goblin Nation) and stealing high-tech gear. Of course, it’s a front: Silk is actually undercover working for Mockingbird and S.H.I.E.L.D. But in order to infiltrate the Cat’s organization, Silk has to smear her own reputation – and during the day, she has to work at her day job, where people are wondering what is up with New York’s newest heroine. Also, Peter Parker shows up! Cameos by Mockingbird and Spider-Woman.

Killer Shrike is Cat’s right hand and he doesn’t trust or like Silk which causes her some problems. Also, Cindy is seeing a therapist to work out her issues and trying to help her brother recover. Her brother is apparently a former member of the Goblin Nation and he’s recovering from a brain injury. She’s still looking for her parents.

This was a good continuation to volume 0. Silk’s starting to be her own kind of hero instead of just a female Spider-Man. On the other hand, a weird guy with electricity powers has to safe her a couple of times. But Silk is new and she’s still learning. Black Cat’s return to villainhood is still a very strange idea to me, but it seems that Silk and the Cat are in danger of bonding, so that will no doubt lead to more interesting (in the Chinese sense) times for her.

I’m not a fan of the changing artists.

Collects Silk issues 1-7 (2015).

Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee

Cindy Moon was bitten by the same radioactive spider as Peter Parker but instead of becoming a superhero then, she had to go in isolation to protect her family and everyone else from the Inheritors. But now she’s out of the bunker and a superhero Silk. Only, after ten years of isolation, it’s not easy to try to blend into the modern world. Also, her family seems to have disappeared. She has almost the same powers as Peter except that she generates webbing from her fingertips.

Cindy is interning with the legendary J. Jonah Jameson at Fact Channel and looking for her family. At night, she’s Silk and fighting Black Cat’s gang of goons. Clearly, Cindy starts as a female Spider-Man. Her miniseries is fun and fast-paced but she also deals with some heavier issues and she thinks about her family a lot. Spider-Man (Peter) and Fantastic Four guest-star. The final issue ends when the Secret Wars begin.

I think the series is aimed at a younger crowd, but I liked it. I used to read the Finnish edition of Spider-Man for many years, including Spider-Man 2099 and Ultimate, until Marvel’s decision to just do away with Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage finally alienated me from Spidey. I think that Silk is a fine addition to the Spidey-family. But if you’re looking for a unique hero, Silk is probably not for you.
The art is more simplified than usual for superhero comics but it fit the story well.

Collects Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D 50th anniversary 1, Mockingbird issues 1-5

Writer: Chelsea Cain
Artist: Joëlle Jones, Kate Niemczyk

I was somewhat familiar with Mockingbird (Bobbi Morse) from her days as a member of the Avengers, when she was married to Hawkeye. When she joined the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was happy because Marvel can’t have too many awesome action heroines.

However, I didn’t really know what to expect from her own comic. Happily, it turned out to be good, with a mix of humor and action.

Bobbi is a scientist, a biochemist. She’s also a spy and a superhero because of super-soldier formula. So, she doesn’t have She-Hulk or Captain Marvel type powers. Instead, she’s faster, stronger, and more durable than usual humans. Which is good, because we need all types of heroines. Now, it’s easy to compare her to the Black Widow who is also a spy and superheroine but Bobbi is more a scientist and has a better sense of humor. Also, her super-power formula makes her paranoid and insomniac. That’s why the S.H.I.E.L.D. is monitoring her health constantly and she has to go to checkups every week.

In the 50th anniversary issue Bobbi finds out that her mentor has been killed and solves her murder. In her own series, she saves a teenaged girl who has weird new powers from police snipers, rescues her current boyfriend Lance Hunter from the Hellfire Club, her former husband Hawkeye from T.I.M. (former A.I.M.) ‘s underwater lab, and she also finds out what lurks in the S.H.I.E.L.D. medical facility. And she does it with style and sarcasm.

I enjoyed this collection a lot and I’m definitely continuing with the series. Please don’t cancel it, Marvel!

Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays is Top 10 comics/graphic novels.

I read a lot of comics, from tie-in (Star Trek, Star Wars) to superheroes (mostly Marvel, some from others) and more. Today I’m going to leave out the superheroes.

1, Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini
Cutter is the young chief of the small Wolfrider tribe. When humans burn down the forest where the elves live, they have to look for another place to stay. This comic has very interesting characters who evolve and change. Great art. Wonderful stories. Most of the older comics are available for free at http://www.elfquest.com

2, Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists
Ah, Sandman! I don’t think I can say anything others haven’t already said. If you love mythology, fairy tales, and some horror, check it out.

3, Prince Valiant by Hal Foster
This comic is set during the days of King Arthur but Valiant (and later his family) is often adventuring and just visits the court from time to time. Valiant is the prince of Thule, a northern kingdom, but his father, along with the family, was exiled to northern parts of Britain. Val wanted adventure and left the desolate swamp at a young age. He adventures around the world with his friends.

4, Bone by Jeff Smith
Another fantasy comic which follows the adventures of three Bone cousins. They’re not human but small, white creatures. Another series where the characters grow and the story twists and turns unexpectedly.

5, Girl Genius by Kaja and Phil Foglio
Mad science! Steampunk! Alternate history! Adventures! Talking cats! Available for free at http://www.girlgeniusonline.com

6, Tintin by Herge
One of the first comics I ever read. Tintin is an intrepid journalist who travels all over the world following stories. However, I personally prefer the albums which have the whole wacky supporting cast of characters, such as Captain Haddock and professor Calculus. In the first few albums, such as Tintin in Congo, Herge is just starting to find his voice and they’re outdated by modern standards. I’d suggest starting with a later album, such as The Secret of the Unicorn.

7, Asterix by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, later others
Asterix and his best friend Obelix live in a small Gallic village. Together with their fellow villagers, and magic potion which makes them really strong, they resist the Romans who have conquered the rest of the world around them. They have many wacky adventures.

8, Modesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell and various artists
Modesty is a former criminal but now she and her best friend Willie Garwin take occasional jobs from Sir Gerald Tarrant, the head of British intelligence. However, often enough one or both of them just get into trouble. Willie and Modesty are extremely competent in many martial arts and weapons. Also, they have strong moral compass which makes them enemies of the nastiest criminals, like slavers and drug dealers, and also makes them willing to aid people in difficult circumstances.

9, Gaston by Andre Franquin
Another French comic (they’re really popular here in Finland). Gaston works in a publishing house but that’s incidental. Where ever he goes, hilarious trouble, or even disasters, follow. He’s also an inventor but most of his inventions either don’t work or are highly impractical or are only practical when you work in an office and try to avoid actually working. He cooks and keeps pets (a cat, a seagull) in his office. Whenever the whole block is without electricity or weird smog obscures everything, his long-suffering co-workers march to his door.

10, Spirou and Fantasio by Andre Franquin (later others)
Another humorous adventure comic. Spirou and Fantasio (Piko ja Fantasio in Finnish) are journalists who get into all sorts of trouble. Fantasio has an evil brother who also gets into lots of mischief. Spirou’s pet squirrel Spip and the count Champignac, who is an inventor, help them out. The count’s inventions often revolve around various mushrooms. I don’t know if they’re available in English.

Collects comic miniseries 1-3.


Writers: Mark Altman, Chris Dows, Colin Clayton, R. A. Jones
Artists: Rob Davis, Terry Pallot, Brian Michael Bendis, Bruce McGorkindale, Leonard Kirk, Jack Snider
Publisher: Malibu

The majority of this collection is taken up by three-part story the Maquis. It’s pretty solid although not in the same league as the best DS9 episodes. It starts with the rescue of a missing commander from the starship Grissom. However, when he meets Gul Dukat, the commander tries to kill him. But the main story centers on Doctor Bashir. He’s taking a vacation on Risa but on the way there he meets a beautiful woman who promptly kidnaps him. It turns out that she’s a Maquis and a group of them are going to storm a stronghold where the crew of Voyager and Chakotay’s Maquis group are held prisoner. Unfortunately, it’s a Cardassian trap. The plot here is pretty elaborate and I’m not sure it was worth the cost. But I’m not a Cardassian. 😉

This was a pretty fun story and involves Garak which is always a good thing. Some of the secondary characters even had more depth than was obvious at first glance, which is another positive thing. Of course, it’s a minor story which is never referred to again. Each part has also a box to remind the reader to start watching the new show, Voyager.

The collection has two shorter stories as well. They’re pretty good but unfortunately, they’re put in the middle of the Maquis story, cutting it senselessly. The first one is “The Memoir of an Invisible Ferengi” which is a fun short strip about Quark. A Romulan vessel has docked and some threatening looking Romulans pay Quark a visit: they want holosuits and for him to keep an item safe for them. Of course, Quark has took into the box and try on the belt he finds there. It makes him invisible. However, things turn up different than he expected. The second one, “A Tree Grows on Bajor” is a Sisko and Jake story. Sisko and his son have been invited to a ceremony on Bajor which reminds Jake about his mother.

These are also good little stories but unfortunately they interrupt the main story strangely. The Quark story is especially jarring. Otherwise this is a good collection.

Collects miniseries issues 1-6.

Writers: Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Publisher: Titan Books

This series gives us Mara Jade’s background. It’s mostly set during and right after Return of the Jedi.

Mara Jade is one of the best characters in the Star Wars expanded universe novels and she was created by Zahn in the book Heir to the Empire. She was the Emperor’s Hand: an assassin and spy who did Emperor’s most secret jobs. She’s also able to use Force even though she isn’t a Jedi or a Sith.

In this collected edition, we see her final mission for Emperor Palpatine shortly before he died at the hands of Vader and Luke. He also gave her a mission she will try to fulfill in Zahn’s books: to kill Luke Skywalker. Right at the start, we also see a glimpse of her trying to assassinate Luke at Jabba’s Palace.

But in this story, she goes after the boss of criminal organization called Black Nebula and then survives as best she can the death of the Emperor. General Isard tries to take over the Empire and she doesn’t trust Mara at all.

Mara is fanatically loyal to the Emperor because she genuinely believes that the galaxy is better off with laws. But she doesn’t discriminate against aliens, like we see many imperial officers doing. She’s also very insular: she doesn’t have a team and she doesn’t even talk with the crew when she has to travel by space ship. The only person she works with is a droid. The only person she trusts is the Emperor and she doesn’t expect backup from anyone. It’s a very lonely existence but she doesn’t seem to really mind; work was everything to her. And when she really needs it, she has the security clearance to force co-operation from imperial forces. Well, she has it at the start of the story, anyway.
She’s more of a villain in this series but she does also protect people from criminals.

Recommended for people who like Mara Jade in the books. It’s not the best SW comic I’ve read but it’s decent. It’s not focused on battles because Mara is usually more subtle than that.

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