Marvel comics

Collects Fantastic Four #520-524

Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Mike Wieringo, Karl Kesel

In the previous volume Reed switched the powers of Susan and Johnny, in order to save Susan’s life. The aliens who attacked in the previous volume came to Earth to destroy Susan because of her powers. The aliens had found a way to hide entire fertile, inhabited world from Galactus but they realized that the Invisible Woman’s powers would be able to reveal them. By secretly switching the sibling’s powers Reed hoped to get enough time to do something about the situation. However, as soon as the aliens leave, Galactus arrives and kidnaps Johnny (now the Invisible Man?).

Of course, the FF want to rescue him. In order to do that, Reed contacts Quasar who can track Johnny (and Galactus) and transport the team quickly enough to him. Meanwhile, Galactus has sent out Johnny to seek the next planet. He’s trying to delay Galactus and perhaps even find allies against him. He’s also trying to get used to her sister’s powers. However, Galactus has given Johnny also the power cosmic which all of his Heralds have so Johnny is much more powerful than Susan ever was and he also has another, expanded power.

This was a very enjoyable cosmic ride. We get to know far more about Galactus. Susan and Johnny get to explore each other’s powers which was neat. She came to appreciate her brother more and we see that Johnny really looks up to her. Susan struggles to control the fire power which has to be used differently than her own; essentially it’s always “on” and she has to try to consciously keep down heat coming from her. I’d have loved it if their powers had been switch for far longer.

The last issue in the collection is also fun. The FF’s powers have left them and are possessing random people around NYC. The powerless team chases them and Ben has to make a major (if predictable) decision.

Fantastic Four #514-519

Writer: Mark Waid, Karl Kesel
Artists: Mike Wieringo, Karl Kesel, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco

This collection has two storylines. The first one is three-part “Dysfunctional” where the new Frightful Four attacks the FF. The second one is the FF’s part in the Avengers Disassembled storyline.

After the disaster where Reed took over Latveria (In “Authoritative Action” collection), New York is a hostile place to the FF. People are throwing garbage at them when they’re walking on the streets and when alien ships land in the city, the mayor refuses to contact them.

The story starts when the Wingless Wizard has come up with another plot to humiliate Reed and the FF. Now, he’s brought into his Frightful Four another member in addition to himself, Trapster, and Hydroman: Salamandra. She’s the Wizard’s ex-wife and apparently just as arrogant and self-centered as him. The Wizard is also using Salamandra’s daughter to gain entrance to the Baxter Building.

Johnny has found a date through a dating site on the internet and he’s trying to find a private place to meet her which isn’t going to happen when your family is the FF. After the family has met her, he takes her to the Baxter Building. Fortunately, his family is there because the girl lets the Frightful Four inside!

In this story the FF is pitted against another family which is more dysfunctional than their own. In fact, I quite felt sorry for the poor girl, Cole, who didn’t know who her father was until this moment and was used rather cruelly by her parents. Neither of her parents are rational people, either, so that doesn’t bode well for Cole.

In the second part, huge alien monoliths land in New York causing whole tidal waves. Even when the FF are trying to protect the civilians, the people still treat them like, well, like mutants. Johnny says: “The FF is here to attack the problem-” and people in the crowd say: “Attack!” “The Fantastic Four is attacking!” “You heard him! The FF’s gone crazy! They’re taking over the city!” Yup, their biggest problem is the FF and not the huge alien pylons cause tidal waves. Heh.
The monoliths start to raise the whole Manhattan out of the Earth and the FF try to get inside the pylons to confront the people responsible.

This was another very entertaining collection. The FF have to deal with unpopularity in addition to super villain problems. It has some really funny moments, such as Ben taking Valerie and Franklin out to trick-or-treating during Halloween. Overall I really enjoyed this one more than Waid’s two previous collections. It ends with quite a cliffhanger which leads to the next collection “Rising Storm”.

Collects Fantastic Four #544-550.

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar

The Civil War storyline tore the FF apart literally: Reed joined Tony supporting the registration and even made a highly unsuccessful clone of Thor, Susan and Johnny joined the resistance with Steve, and Ben left to France, not taking sides. Now, McDuffie has the unenviable task of uniting the FF family again but he does it with style for the most part.
Reed and Susan take a leave of absence, working on their marriage. The Black Panther and Storm are stepping into the team in their place. Panther has a very different leadership style from Reed; I have only seen him in the Avengers so I wasn’t prepared.

After Reed and Susan leave, the former Deathlok comes to see T’Challa. It appears that the grave of a young, very unsung hero named Gravity has been robbed. The boy’s gone. The only way to know what had happened is for the team to go to the Moon and see the Watcher. (Yep, it’s an FF book alright.) After a bit of blustering, they find out that Epoch has the body. Unfortunately, just when the new FF reach her, the Silver Surfer and the Stardust arrive, followed soon by their master, Galactus!

Meanwhile, Susan and Reed arrive on Titan where they are the house guests of Mentor. However, soon Reed discovers something strange.

This was a very enjoyable collection. I really enjoyed T’challa and Storm here (Storm is one of my all-time favorite comic characters but don’t know T’challa at all) and the adventures feel very FF. Healing the rifts from the Civil War might have come a bit too easily, but that’s to be expected. Galactus and later the Frightful Four are great, classic villains and I enjoyed them, despite Susan being a used as a hostage.

Collects: Uncanny X-Men 273-280, X-Men Annual 15, X-Factor 69-70, X-Men 1-3; material from X-Factor Annual 6, New Mutants Annual 7

Writer: Chris Claremont, Fabien Nicieza, Peter David, Jim Lee

Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Whilce Portacio, Paul Smith, and others

In this collection the rather large mutant team splits into Blue and Yellow teams and the classic X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Archangel) leave X-Factor and return to being X-Men. It also includes the Muir Island Saga confrontation between the X-Men and the Shadow King. It also has the first issues of the (then) new X-Men title and Claremont’s final issue.

Right after the X-tinction Agenda, the X-Men, Cable, and New Mutants gather into to the school to think about their teams’ future. Cable suggests going after their known enemies, which there are many, and essentially waging war on them. Storm, Scott, and Jean disagree, saying that the mutants aren’t soldiers. However, before they decide on what to do next, Lila Cheney teleports a core group away to the Shi’Ar Empire. The group was the classic blue and yellow uniforms and has Storm, Gambit, Jubilee, Psylocke, Forge, Banshee and Wolverine.

Meanwhile, Rogue’s adventures in Savage Land continue. Magneto has used some machines to fix Rogue but the result was the she lost all her powers, including her own to absorb other’s minds and powers. Rogue, Magneto, and Ka-Zar are fighting against Zaladane who has stolen Polaris’ magnetic powers and seems to be even more powerful than Magneto. She has a powerful group of villains by her side, including Worm who can enslave thousands of others. Just when our intrepid trio is almost defeated, a joint UN and SHIELD squad comes to their rescue. Unfortunately, the UN squad includes Russians who hate Magneto. But Zaladane is now so powerful that Magneto can’t defeat her alone. Rogue and Magneto seem to be attracted to each other.

In the next issues, the space team fights alongside Lilandra and the Starjammers, and they’re finally reunited with Professor Xavier. However, nothing is as it seems.

When the space team returns to Earth, they’re in the fight of their lives: the final showdown against the Shadow King! The Shadow King is an enormously powerful telepath and Xavier’s arch nemesis. He also controls the Muir Island and everyone there, including Moira MacTaggart. He has corrupted them into more vile versions of themselves. Both the X-Factor and a lot of X-Men are required in order to end this vile villain. For a while, at least. They also have to fight against former allies and we finally find out what happened to poor Polaris.

Then the X-Men return to their roots: the original X-Men return and Xavier starts again to lead the team. They’re also pitted against Magneto. He’s rebuilt his old asteroid base and the world governments don’t like it. A group of mutants steal a space shuttle and attempt to get into asteroid but a group of SHIELD agents are following them. Magneto isn’t too pleased to see them but when one of the agents shoots at one of the mutants, he kills the agent in retaliation. Of course, things escalate from there. He raises the nuclear submarine he sunk years ago. The UN is starting their “Magneto Protocol” and the X-Men confront him. Magneto is justifying his actions when the X-Men team attack him. He escapes with the nukes but before that he declares Asteroid M as a sovereign state and a haven for all mutants.

Magneto has also found out that someone has tampered with his genes and blames Moira. When she confesses, after Magneto threatens to kill Xavier, Magneto forces her to temper with the X-Men’s genes and make them agreeable to his plans. Cyclops, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Wolverine and Psylocke declare themselves followers of Magneto! Of course, the nations on Earth don’t want Asteroid M to threaten them and in the end colonel Fury asks secretly the remaining X-Men (Storm, Forge, Archangel, Jean, Colossus, Ice Man) to, essentially, take Magneto down before Asteroid M is hit by a huge plasma cannon. Of course, an epic battle ensues.

Magneto is shown here in very gray light (of course, if he was a cackling maniac, he wouldn’t be such a fascinating and enduring character): at the start of the collection he’s trying to save the planet from Zaladane’s destructive powers and muses about how he used to be very much like Zaladane when he was younger. In X-Men 1, he says that he doesn’t have a cause and he doesn’t want followers. It’s the actions of human bigots which force him to declare his asteroid a nation and then defend it. Unfortunately, he’s also used by one of his so-called Acolytes.

This was also another interesting read after Avengers vs X-Men. Scott is here still heart and soul an X-Man and he argues passionately against Cable’s more violent approach and he also clearly disagrees with Magneto’s views.

I liked this collection a lot; I love the Shi’Ar and the Starjammers. The fight against the Shadow King and Magneto are more personal than usual and they’re also clashes of ideologies as well as people.

The annuals have a storyline called “Kings of Pain” which wasn’t published here in Finland.


Writers: Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson
Artists: Bill Jaaska, Mike Collins, Joe Rubinstein, Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Rob Liefeld and lot of others

This collection features the introduction of Gambit, another cool loner type (in addition to Wolverine).

The X-Men issues in this collections start with a three-issue focus on Storm. She’s now a little girl in Cairo (Illinois, not Egypt). She steals from the rich using her erratic powers to help her. However, the Shadow King is on her trail and manages to lure her into a trap. She escapes it only with the help of Gambit. But when they manage to leave Shadow king and his hounds to the dust, Nanny and the Orphan Maker attack.

Then, we return to Madripoor where Wolverine, Psylocke, and Jubilee get some help from the Black Widow. Logan reminisces about how he first met Natasha during WWII. She was just a child whom the Hand, a guild of assassins, tried to use for their own ends. Logan and Captain America saved her.

And in issue 269 we finally get the return of Rogue who disappeared into the Siege Perilous in issue 247. She returns to the X-Men’s old hideout in Australia without Ms. Marvel’s powers. Unfortunately, the hideout has been retaken by the Reavers and Ms. Marvel has been separated from Rogue. Carol immediately attacks Rogue who just manages to escape into the Savage Land. Carol ends up in Muir Island and the Shadow King takes her over and sends her to attack Rogue again. In the end, only either Carol or Rogue can survive.

The rest of the issues in this collection were not published here in Finland. Most of them are available digitally at Marvel but they’re not part of the Marvel Unlimited subscription, except for the X-Men issues. Fortunately, the collection is in the Finnish library system.

Next, the four annuals bring us the Days of Future Present story. It starts with the Fantastic Four annual: the team (with their son Franklin, human Ben Grimm, and Sharon Ventura as Ms. Marvel who looks like the Thing) is returning to Four Freedom’s Plaza when the whole building disappears. Then, the Baxter Building reappears. When they investigate, they find an adult Franklin with frightening powers. Eventually, the New Mutants, X-Factor, and the X-Men get involved, as well. The X-Factor annual includes the historic (to me, at least) moment when Rachel meets Jean for the first time and admits to Jean and Scott that she’s their daughter from an alternate future. Unfortunately, this don’t go well for her.

I love the Days of Future Past story and some of the stories which it has spawned. This in an average offering where the story itself is buried under the clash of characters and teams. The four teams fight Ahab and his sentinels and hounds in addition to the adult Franklin. (And after reading A vs X, it was very interesting to see Reed say that Scott and the other mutants in his team are like family to the FF.)

The rest of the collection is taken over by the X-tinction Agenda which cross-overs to New Mutants and X-Factor. The story starts with Genosha essentially declaring war on the X-Men and sending out a strike team to Xavier’s school. They kidnap Storm in her child form and four of the New Mutants: Boom-Boom, Rictor, Wolfsbane and Warlock.

Then the X-tinction Agenda is in full swing. At first, Cable, Banshee, and Forge don’t know where the missing mutants have been taken but quickly X-Factor, Cable, Forge, Gambit, Banshee, Sunspot, and Cannonball head to Genosha to free the captive mutants. Also, Wolverine, Psylocke, and Jubilee appear there and are eventually reunited with the rest of the team. Meanwhile, the last X-Man who went through the Siege Perilous turns up: Havok is a dedicated Magistrate. Despite his powers he loathes all mutants. He thinks that he was born a Genoshan and volunteered to become a Magistrate.

The Genoshan president has joined forces with Cameron Hodge and Hodge was the one who decided to kidnap foreigners from foreign soil. The Genengineer and the leader of the Magistrates both want to get rid of the increasingly insane Hodge which is a wedge the X-Men exploit.

Boom-Boom and Rictor are without their powers most part of the story and most of the rest of the mutants also lose their powers temporarily forcing them to rely on their skills. This is always an interesting tactic. Warlock and Wolfsbane are greatly changed in this story and Storm returns back to her old adult self.

This is an enjoyable cross-over but the difference in art in jarring. The X-Men issues are done by Jim Lee and Scott Williams whose style is far sleeker than the other artists in the story line.

Gambit is the new character and even though he suggests once to Storm that they should just leave, he quickly becomes a reliable team member. Jubilee is actually far more reluctant to take orders than Gambit.

Collects Uncanny Avengers #1-5

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Cassaday

After the events of Avengers vs X-Men, Captain America finally acknowledges that the Avengers haven’t done enough to help mutants. In order to help them now, he gathers an Avengers team from both mutants and Avengers. He also appoints Havok as the team leader. They’re thrown into a difficult situation right from the start: Avalanche attacks a group of humans and trashes several city blocks.

Meanwhile, Xavier’s grave is opened and his body is stolen. Rogue and the Scarlet Witch try to defend the body but unsuccessfully; instead they are kidnapped. Rogue loathes Wanda because of the things Wanda has done to the mutants but Wanda shields Rogue during the attack and is wounded. The attackers are a new group of villains under the leadership of Red Skull who has a pretty frightening new power. (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.) The rest of the team (Cap, Thor, Havok, and Wolverine) are trying to calm down humans who are attacking mutants on the streets. A villain called Honest John seems to be causing this with his propaganda powers.

Red Skull’s S-Men were a bit cheesy start for the series and it seemed to me that Wanda confessed that she was actually thinking of joining Red Skull’s group! This was really disappointing! Otherwise, I think that it’s good that the Avengers have finally woken up to the difficulties mutants have and are actively trying to help them. The story references both Nazis and the Days of the Future Past comic in the X-Men, even having that iconic poster of the terminated heroes behind two fugitives, only this time the hunted ones are Havok and Wanda.

The final issue in the collection is a start to the next storyline. Twins are born and they’re called Apocalypse Twins. Both Kang and Immortus are involved. Meanwhile, back in the Avengers Mansion, Wonder Man, Wasp, and Sunfire are the newest members. Since Wonder Man doesn’t fight anymore, he’s in mostly for PR. But during a press conference, the Grim Reaper attacks. The Reaper claims that he can’t die but Rogue absorbs his powers and seems to kill him.

I’m a sucker for a good Kang story and I have high hopes for this storyline. Both Simon and Sunfire seem to have been through a lot of traumatic events which brings conflict into the team. Loved the early glimpse to (alternative?) future at the end of issue 4. Havok was great at the press conference; he took off his mask and told everyone his real name – then again he doesn’t have a secret identity as such.

Overall, I enjoyed this new team and I’m looking forward to that Kang story.

Collects AVX: Consequences 1- 5

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Tom Raney, Jim Charalampidis, Steve Kruth, Allen Martinez, Scott Eaton, Andrew Hennessy, Gabriel Hernandez Valta

Spoilers to Avengers vs. X-Men!

This almost feels like the pay-off for the huge cross-over. (I really don’t have anything against mindless, super powered fisticuff! Really!) Wakanda is now closed to all mutants when Black Panther tries to rebuild his nation (Hmm… I’m not aware of any Wakandan mutants. Surely there must be some?)

Scott is in prison after the things he’s done and he’s in a private prison which has a whole cell block just for mutants. Only Scott and one other mutant are there but apparently the plan is to eventually populate it with other mutants. Scott has an inhibitor on so he can’t use his powers. In fact, if he tries to activate them, he gets zapped with pain. Still, putting Cyclops into a prison built for humans is a big mistake. He’s also convinced that he did the right thing, except for the killing. Of course, the Phoenix force did restore mutants to the world so it turned out that he was right, after all.

Wolverine, Iron Man, and Captain America try to talk sense into him with varying success. In the end, Cyclops is a wanted murderer on the run from the law and Wolverine runs a school for mutant kids. Who could have predicted that one?

Meanwhile, Hope is trying to find her dad, Cable. He’s left a note saying that she shouldn’t look for him but she does anyway. She tries a little taste of “ordinary life”, too.

In the end, this leads to the All-New X-Men comic.

Each issue has a different artist but their styles aren’t drastically different so it wasn’t a problem for me.

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