Marvel comics


Part of Marvel’s Secret Wars event. Collects Guardians of Knowhere 1-4 and New Avengers: Illuminati 3

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Deodato, Jim Cheun, Mark Morales

Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Lady Gamora are the Guardians of Knowhere, the giant Celestial head floating in space. However, Gamora has now cosmic powers and cosmic knowledge so she’s a heretic: she doesn’t believe that Doom is God Emperor. Also, she doesn’t stay on her own Warzone but travels to others, looking for Thanos and Quill (who aren’t supposed to exist in this world). So, Angela is now part of the Thor corps and she’s looking for Gamora to arrest her for heresy. While Angela and Drax are fighting, Yatot comes along and starts a fight with Drax, wanting to become the local crime boss.

Who’s Yatot? His backstory is told in the second issue. Also, the Nova Corps so up. In addition to Nova, they have Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock, Venom, and Iron Man. Also, a giant blue woman appears and battles the Guardians and the Nova corps. Who is she? Apparently Kree. Nothing else is told about her.

Characters hit each other. A lot. The end. I think the biggest draw to this series is supposed to be that Gamora is apparently naked most of the time. There was some set up at the end, but er… the Guardians didn’t make it to the main series. Or at least I don’t remember what they did.

I have no idea why one issue of New Avengers: Illuminati is included. Maybe because Xavier was wrong. Because in this issue, he claims that the Beyonder is a mutant Inhuman. But Doom battled many Beyonders who wanted to destroy the whole universe. Clearly, they weren’t mutant Inhumans.

I was really curious to read this one because I play Marvel’s Legendary deck-building game and these Guardians are one of the villain groups from the Secret Wars expansion. Sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Collects issues 158-167 of Avengers vol. 1.

Writers: Jim Shooter,
Artists: Sal Buscema, Pablo Marcos, George Perez, John Byrne, G. Tuska
Publisher: Marvel

These are Jim Shooter’s old Avengers tales, first published in 1977. The longest story arch lasts for three issues but there are subplots which are present in most issues, namely the Beast feeling superfluous in a team which has many stronger characters, like Thor, Vision, and Wonder Man, as well as all-around geniuses like Tony Stark and Hank Pym. Also Wonder Man constantly doubts himself and Hawkeye is helping Two-Gun Kid to adjust to the 1970s. The Kid comes from 1873.

The core team consists of Iron Man, Wonder Man, the Beast, Vision, Captain America, and Scarlet Witch, but other members come and go, as well.

The collection starts with the Vision attacking Wonder Man in a rage of jealousy. Strangely enough, the Vision constantly calls himself an emotionless machine but when he sees Wonder Man aiding Wanda, when she’s dizzy after a battle, the Vision attacks. Iron Man interferes to stop the fight. This issue also introduces a very powerful new foe, Graviton, who imprisons the core team plus the Wasp and Yellowjacket. It takes Thor and the Black Panther to free the others and defeat Graviton.

The characters don’t really have any breathers. Only hours after defeating Graviton, the Grim Reaper returns. He wants to know if Wonder Man or the Vision is the real Simon Williams, the Grim Reaper’s brother. Then Ant Man attacks with his army of ants which are too quick for even Iron Man to evade. The Wasp returns and explains that Hank has lost his memory and soon Ultron tricks Hank into helping him transfer Janet’s mind to a woman made of metal.

The Avengers also face the Lethal Legion and Graviton again. In the final issue, they inspect a huge space constructs which is heading towards S.H.I.E.L.D.’s orbiting space station. The collection ends is a cliffhanger leading to the Korvac saga.

Even though the issues have a lot of battles and excitement, there are also long plotlines brewing. In addition to the three I mentioned above, there’s a mysterious old man who thinks he’s Wanda and Pietro’s father. Currently, the twins think that the old hero Whizzer is their father and that their last name is Frank. Also, Iron Man and Thor have their own adventures in their own magazines so they’re away a lot. Since Iron Man is supposed to be the leader Cap and even Wanda tell him to do a better job. Also, Iron Man’s identity is secret; not even the other Avengers know that he’s Tony, so it’s difficult for him to explain his absences.

Many issues which originated here have longer ramifications. Hank Pym’s phycological problems for example and the Vision/Wonder Man rivalry and brotherhood lasted for a long time).

On the other hand, Shooter seems to rely on Thor coming in at the nick of time to save the others so many times, that even the characters comment on it and he devoloped a mysterious force which whisked Thor away and back to the Avengers when they most needed him. While the Wasp and Wanda are pretty underused, only Wasp is kidnapped once; and the whole team is beaten a couple of times. Also, only two issues actually have Ultron…

Still, it’s a fun read and a blast from the 70s.

The new Marvel Star Wars comic, collects issues 1-6.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday

This story is set between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back”, in fact shortly after episode IV. The Empire has started to make deals with criminals, like Jabba the Hutt, to get supplies, and the rebels have decided to stop them. So, Princess Leia’s small team infiltrates Empire’s industrial complex at Cymoon 1. Han poses as Jabba’s envoy to get them in and blow the whole place up. Unfortunately for them, the Emperor’s negotiator is really tough and things don’t go as planned.

Later, Darth Vader deals with Jabba personally. Vader is looking for mercenaries to capture a particular rebel pilot. Meanwhile, Leia is trying to rally her troops for another mission. There’s even a Boba Fett subplot.

This one feels like Star Wars. It was exciting and funny. I could hear the actors saying the dialog and there’s a lot of big-screen action and humor. However, Empire having to deal with criminals for parts feels ludicrous, but in a Star Wars way. There’s even some character development for our heroes. However, I’m not too sure about Luke confronting Vader before receiving any Jedi training. And there’s a cliffhanger ending. Otherwise, very enjoyable.

Limited series during the 2015 Marvel event Secret Wars. Not required reading for the main storyline.

Writers: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson
Artists: David López, Laura Braga, Paolo Pantalena, Filipe Andrade

Captain Marvel and the five elite female fighter pilots called the Banshees (or Carol Corps) are the first line of defense for Hala Field airbase against threats like the Ultron robots. They are sent to destroy a ship. The Baroness of the battleworld says that it’s an Ultron ship so no human is on it, but something feels strange to Captain Marvel. And when she sees a human on board the ship, she decides to rescue him against orders. Of course, the Baroness doesn’t like anyone going against her orders, much less against Doom’s orders.

Some of the Banshees are very smart and very curious and they start to question just what is surrounding their small world. God Emperor Doom has forbidden such questioning, though, so it could prove very dangerous. But Carol has now her own doubts and she starts to wonder about a lot of things, including the origin of her own powers.

This is a surprisingly good read, for an event tie-in. However, to really understand the situation the characters are in, you should read the Secret Wars main story; it isn’t explained much. Also, the ending is very open but of course this timeline was wiped so it doesn’t bother me as much as it usually would.

The pilots are an interesting bunch, some more cautious and others brashly jumping into danger. One of them was accepted in the Thor corps and Carol meets with her briefly. Recommended only for CM fans who have read Secret Wars. It doesn’t add anything to the event but I quite liked it.

Apparently, the collection has also issue 17 which is the last one of DeConnick’s run. It has a different artist and a different feel from the miniseries and even different characters because they’re Carol’s usual supporting crew. It’s a fitting end for DeConnick’s run but if you haven’t read the rest of the series, it could be puzzling.

Part of the Secret Wars event. In this alternate X-Men universe, the X-Men lost the Inferno event.

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Garrón

The story begins four years after the X-Men lost Inferno. Demon-infected Manhattan has been separated from the rest of the US with walls, force fields, and magical wards, and the X-Men guard the walls. Illyana has been imprisoned in the Empire State Building. Colossus wants to rescue her and has made a deal with Scott Summers (who is, by the way, this domain’s baron!): one day a year Colossus and a team of X-Men try to free Illyana and the rest of the time Colossus is part of the regular X-Men team. But this time things go really wrong: Scott and Colossus are crippled and Illyana is revealed to be the Darkchild, ruler of Limbo and demon-Manhattan. And she chooses to stay with the Inferno demons.

The next year, when Colossus wants to lead a team to again attempt the rescue, Scott makes it clear this will be the last attempt. So, Colossus, his lover Domino, Nightcrawler, and Boom-Boom head out to rescue Illyana. Unfortunately, their team isn’t a match for the forces which have been building in Manhattan. Colossus and Domino end up in the hands of the Goblin queen Madelyne Pryor and her consort Alex Summers while Illyana herself captures Nightcrawler and someone else captures almost fatally injured Boom Boom. However, Madelyne has an interesting offer to Colossus: if he fights by her side, he can rescue his sister and Madelyne will rule Inferno.

Inferno is actually not one of my favorite storylines because it was quite disjointed, jumping to different X-comics. (And of course Madelyne was right to hate Scott for abandoning her and their infant son and to hate Jean for, essentially, condoning it. However, Madelyne had no right to hurt innocent bystanders!) But this is exactly the kind of spin off I really like: alternate version of characters who are still heroes but different, different romances, difficult choices to make, and Scott in a wheelchair calling “To me my X-Men”! Not to mention what Illyana did to poor Kurt… I wouldn’t want this story to become the status quo for X-Men but it’s interestingly different from the usual status quo. Yeah, I really liked it.

Limited series during the 2015 Marvel event Secret Wars. Not required reading for the main story line.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Gerardo Sandoval

Douglas Ramsay is a mutant who can understand any language, including secrets hidden by body language. This makes him very valuable to many people. He lives is a Battleworld ruled by Baron Apocalypse and his viceroy Mister Sinister. Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen and Beast have also a lot of influence and power. Beast and Doctor Nemesis make horrific experiments in their lab.

Humans have been driven into a ghetto which is overseen by Sheriff Carol Danvers. Most mutants live apparently well but a few have chosen to oppose Apocalypse’s rule: Magneto and his X-Men who were named after Magneto’s dead friend Charles Xavier. But in an effort to save Douglas from a Horseman Holocaust the X-Men Storm, Dazzler, Colossus, Iceman, and Exodus are killed. Douglas and badly wounded Nightcrawler are captured, and now the surviving X-Men have to save them. But Wolverine, Magneto, Emma Frost, Rogue, and Blink are determined to do it.

This is an action-packed return to the Age of Apocalypse cross-over event in the 1990s but not a continuation. Several things are different from the original story, most notably characters who weren’t part of the original. Still, it was great (and chilling) to see again the cruel and cold Prelate Summers Brothers and the Dark Beast. As a linguist, I really liked the way Douglas finally got to be not only useful but the best hope the world has. While he was alive in the New Mutants, he was always underappreciated.

This is a treat to us who enjoyed the original story but I’m not so sure if other people will get much out of it. Some of the motivations to the characters are strange, to say the least, and the art style doesn’t appeal to me any more.

It was interesting to read this and Years of Future Past back-to-back. In this comic, the mutants are supposed to be at the top of the heap; the humans are in ghettos. But none of them seem happy: the bad guys are cruel (or world-weary and disgusted with the world) and the X-Men are desperate and miserable. The mutants is YoFP live in concentration camps near cemeteries full of their former friends but at least they have dependable team mates and a lucky few have loving families. Of course, the chance of drama increases with unhappy characters and both of this alternate worlds are… extreme to say the least. In contrast the X-Men in the X-Men 92 comic seemed much better off.

Collects Years of Future Past 1-5. Part of the Secret Wars event.

Writer: Marquerite Bennett
Artists: Mike Norton

This is a rehash of the classic two-issue Claremont/Byrne alternate future story “Days of Future Past” where Senator Kelly’s murder by Mystique has led to a future where all mutants, and other superpowered being such as the Fantastic Four, are either dead, hunted mercilessly, or living in concentration camps and wearing devices which suppress their powers. Rachel Summers sends Kate Pryde’s consciousness to the present so that she and the present time X-Men can stop Mystique. One of my favorite stories and so deep especially considering the limited page count. (I reread it after finishing this one.)

When Doom remade the world during Secret Wars, this future was one of the fragments he remade. The Baron of the world is President Kelly who has put almost all mutants in concentration camps. Some, such as Wolverine and his son Cameron, are still at large. However, the biggest problem they face is that all mutants have been sterilized. Christina Pryde is the last mutant child born 15 years ago. Her parents, Kate Pryde and Colossus, along with other mutants such as Magento and Rachel Summers live in the camps and have raised her there. Even though the place must have been terrible, they showed her love and gave her as good an education as they could. Because they plan to bust out and then Christina will be mutants’ last hope. Well, busting out doesn’t go exactly to plan and Christina must make terrible choices.

At first reading, this is a fun ride in dystopic ruins. However, I found it a bit hard to swallow that Kate and the others were training Christina to become a hero while at the same time, they were apparently working with the government. Of course, having a child can change your life and in an environment like this, parents might have to make choices they otherwise wouldn’t do. But still isn’t that the height of hypocrisy? We also get a monolog from Colossus about how oppression starts with a joke right out of the blue which interrupts the flow of the story. Also, the end fight was strange. One character had decided that if mutants go away, humans will rise to a golden age without violence. Uh, I guess that person has never met humans, eh?

Christina was a good character and I’m kind of sorry I’m never going to see her again. Most of the characters are (at least superficially) very much like the X-Men in the original DoFP story: Wolverine an outsider, the rest in the camp. However, there’s were some differences and twists as well, which I liked a lot.

Overall, this was a good nostalgic read but with some flaws and an open ending which I personally don’t care for. The original story is a very tough act to follow.

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