comics


Collects issues 1-12 of the Strange Adventures maxiseries.

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Writer: Tom King

Artist: Mitch Gerards, Evan “Doc” Shaner

Publisher: DC

Adam Savage is the hero of the planet Rann. He and Rann’s defenders protected the planet from invaders out of space, the Pykkts. Now, he has returned to Earth and is selling his book. He’s a celebrity.

However, some people don’t agree. They accuse Adam of mass murder during the war. JLA wants to investigate him and Adam and his wife Alanna. Batman appoints Mr. Terrific because Mr. Terrific lost his child and Adam and Alanna lost their daughter during the last days of the war.

The story has two timelines: one in the present and one in the past, during the Rann war. The past storyline has clear influences from pulp science fantasy stories (and no doubt the original Adam Savage tales which I haven’t read). Adam and Alanna must first unite Rann’s sentient species against the invaders and then lead the horrible war against the Pykkts.

The present is very much a modern story, where people doubt their heroes. Themes include war and what should and shouldn’t be done in wars.

The art is gorgeous. It also makes clear if we’re seeing the past or the present. Shaner draws the past parts in a style that is reminiscent of older comic book styles. It jars with the more violent scenes, but in a good way. Gerards’ present is darker and the characters’ faces more expressive.

No doubt this is a great read for people who enjoy deconstructing heroes. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the art, I wasn’t too wild about the storyline.

Storybundle has again two interesting bundles: the Great Galaxies SF bundle 16 days and the Pop Culture Explosion bundle for two more days.

Humble Bundle has Doctor Who 2022 bundle of DW comics for two days more.

They also have two roleplaying bundles: Shadowrun and Star Trek Adventures.

Collects Once & Future issues 1-6.

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Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Dan Mora

Publisher: BOOM! Studios

The story starts in Cornwall where an archeologist has found an intact scabbard from the 5th century. But before he can examine it further, a blonde woman and her thugs kill the archeologist and take the scabbard.

Duncan McGuire is a socially awkward young man on a date with a gorgeous Indian woman when he gets a call that her grandmother has escaped from the old folk’s home. Then his gran calls him and asks him to come and pick her up. Duncan apologizes to his date and drives in the middle of the woods. Her gran, Bridgette, apparently has a stash of weapons in the middle of the forest. Then the Questing Beast attacks.

This is a reimagining of the Arthurian mythos in the modern world and it also makes Arthur the bad guy, which is a twist I’ve rarely seen. In this world, Arthur fought against the invaders who were the Anglo-Saxons. So, he’s not fond of the current inhabitants of England.

The other big thing is how a story can take over people and make them into a certain role in a story. Except I doubt that lots of people think that Arthur is undead and will kill most English people… so the two ideas don’t seem to be compatible.

Duncan’s parents left when he was a boy and Bridgette raised him, alone in the middle of nowhere. She made sure he didn’t know anything about myths or even fantasy shows or books. Bridgette is a retired monster hunter so she knows all about not just Arthurian legends but other monsters. She has a no-nonsense attitude and uses what works. She is good with guns and isn’t afraid to shoot people, even family members.

Duncan is clueless at the start of the story but finds out a lot of things quickly. He seems to accept things quickly, even when he finds some family secrets. Of course, the plot doesn’t give him much time to think. He wants to protect his gran but she doesn’t really need his protection.

Unfortunately, the story used a trope I don’t like: keeping a person ignorant claiming it’s for their own good. For once, it was a man instead of a girl, though.

This was an interesting idea but not my favorite retelling. I’m intrigued enough that I’ve ordered the next volume from the library.

Collects issues 1-12.

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Writer: N. K. Jemisin

Artist: Jamal Campbell

Publisher: DC comics

Sojourner ”Jo” Mullein is the newest Green Lantern and she’s been assigned to Far Sector, far away from other inhabited planets. She’s in City Enduring, an artificial home to 20 billion people, both physical and digital. 500 years ago, the two planets that were home to the three alien peoples were in a bitter war that ended with both planets destroyed. The only way to make peace was to strip the people of their emotions. Today, all inhabitants of City Enduring are still under the effect of Emotion Exploit which shuts down their feelings. For 500 years the city hasn’t had a murder. Until now.

After one person is murdered, the ruling council (of three people, one of each species) asks Jo to come in and solve the crime. Jo is a former police officer and reluctantly agrees.

Initially, the setting seemed very intriguing. One of the species is mammalian and remarkably human-looking (ok, fine they all look like humans) except that they have wings and a tail. Another is a sentient plant species that eat other sentient people, but only if the other people agree to be eaten (that look like humans except that their cover their chins). The third are sentient AIs (that look like humans but without noses). Even without feelings, the three council members are clearly racist against each other. The city is an artificial construction and changes every day.

For the most part, the mystery was interesting with lots of twists. Jo is the only human in the city and the only person with feelings intact and that can be very lonely. Also, she has a troubled past that she’s trying to make up for. She’s determined to serve the people and not the council.

However, the twist near the end was strange and the more we find out about the alien people, the more human they became. After a handful of issues, the city itself seemd very familiar with restaurants, police offices, big business, the downtrodden poor, etc.

Jemisin explores racism, cop violence, and the violence of the rich and powerful toward the poor. It’s easy to see their counterparts on Earth and Jo even comments on how things are much like on Earth.

Still, I enjoyed this story a lot, even though the ending was a let-down.

Campbell’s art was gorgeous.

HumbleBundle has four comics bundles:

Top Cow 30th anniversary. This bundle has Cyberforce, Sunstone, Rising Stars, Infinite Dark, Madame Mirage, and a lot of other Top Cow comics.

19 days to go

The Boys versus the Girls is a massive comics bundle. It has lots and lots of the Boys, an ironic take on superheroes (or rather villains pretending to be heroes). The other comics have women as main characters: Dejah Thoris, Swords of Sorrow, Vampirella, Red Sonja, Alice in Wonderland, Jennifer Blood, Miss Fury, and lots of others.

47 days to go

Super massive Heavy Metal: “Explore 45 years of groundbreaking graphic fiction ripped from the pages of Heavy Metal, the “World’s Greatest Illustrated Magazine”! Witness comic history in the making with the 1977 premiere issue, featuring stories from legends like Jean “Moebius” Giraud. Discover the cosmic saga of Taarna, the iconic heroine from the animated film. Read recent issues & modern collections of Heavy Metal sci-fi, fantasy, and horror tales from genre masters, and support Comic Book Legal Defense Fund with your purchase!”

7 days to go

Transformers: the Final Phase: “Journey from heart of Cybertron to the edge of the universe in IDW’s legendary Transformers comic saga! Discover climactic battles and galaxy-shattering revelations in the pages of More Than Meets the Eye, Optimus Prime, Lost Light, and more digital volumes from the saga’s final years. Explore the end of an incredible era for Transformers storytelling, and help support Hasbro Children’s Fund with your purchase!”

5 days to go.

Collects Exiles issues 5-11 from 2001-2002.

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Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Mike McKone, Jim Calafiore

Publisher: Marvel

Right after their traumatic second mission, our heroes are whisked away to their next task. In the Canadian woods, they meet the Alpha Flight, which is led by Wolverine and the Shaman is John Proudstar, an alternate version of Exiles’ Thunderbird. Their mission is to keep the Alpha Flight alive against a furious Hulk.

The third issue is one of the weird Marvel experiments: an issue without dialog. It works surprisingly well. Our heroes take a well-deserved rest in a hotel and we see their dreams. This was a neat idea, having a bit of a breather between intense storylines, letting us know the heroes better, and even getting in a bit of character development.

Issue eight starts with telling us that the team has been through adventures we don’t see and that they’ve become a solid team. Also, that Blink and Mimic are now a couple. I felt it was something of a cop-out, skipping a couple of years of adventures. But I can understand why Winnick (or Marvel editors) did that.

The last three issues are action-packed. The Exiles have arrived on an Earth which is under Skrull rule and has been for about a century. Humans have been enslaved and all superhumans are forced to fight each other in arenas for the amusement of Skrulls. When the story starts, the Exiles have been on this Earth for about a month. Thunderbird, Mimic, Nocturne, and Sunfire were captured very soon and are forced to fight. Blink and Morph have managed to stay free, but haven’t succeeded in freeing the others and they’re starting to get desperate. However, the Skrulls aren’t the biggest threat…

The final issue is also a stand-alone.

This was a great collection, offering a lot of action and strange alternate realities (which I love), but also character development and emotional moments. Winnick also starts to cast some doubt about just who the Timebroker is and why the Exiles are doing their jobs. Looking forward to the next one.

Cross-over adventure for two of DC’s flagship teams.

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Writers: David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns

Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Jesús Merino

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2003

The Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America team up to fight villains and each other. The story starts with a lovely piece of art as Superman and the Sentinel are on the Moon, looking at the Earth from space.

JSA and JLA get together in JLA Watchtower on the Moon to enjoy Thanksgiving together. But Bedlam attacks a world hunger conference and specifically President Luthor and Vixen who is guarding him. JLA and JSA rush to the rescue. They overcome Bedlam quickly, but something isn’t right: Batman and Mr. Terrific come to blows over leadership differences and then many of the other heroes join the fight. Soon, some of our heroes are sent to Dr. Fate’s tower, others to Limbo, and the rest must figure out what’s going on.

This was quite a fun comic. These days it would probably have been a ten-issue maxi-series and I think the writers could pull that off. The writers juggled 13 JLA members and 16 JSA members, which wasn’t easy. Still, most heroes have their moments to shine and the team-ups have heroes from different teams, which is always fun. The pace is fast and there are a few jokes, too. However, I’m unhappy with how a couple of the heroes were handled, particularly Power Girl.

Pacheco’s art is gorgeous, even if he draws oversexualized women.

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.

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