Marvel comics

Collects Storm 6-11

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Al Barrionuevo, Tom Palmer, Neil Edwards, Ed Tadeo, Victor Ibanez

The stories continue from the previous collection.
In her adventure in Las Vegas, Storm’s ankle broke and so she takes a flight in an airplane back to New York. At the start of the flight, people recognize her and one of them doesn’t want to fly with her. However, the plane gets off with Storm in it. She just has the time to chat with a woman who is taking a donated organ to the recipient, when the plane is attacked. A senator is onboard and his guards assume that Storm is responsible and threaten her. However, Storm ends up protecting the plane from the attacker. Yet, when the plane finally lands, after a hard flight, Storm is arrested.

The next two issues delve into the consequences of the plane incident and of the previous collection. Some really powerful people are unhappy that Storm has dared to meddle in their affairs. This gives the previous stories some continuity.

Then Gambit! He’s now the boss of Thieves’ guild but he has a problem and wants Storm’s help. Apparently, some of his underlings have turned against him. Also, Gambit wants to rob a treasure which is guarded by none of other than Hermes himself. This is a light romp, but a really thin excuse to get a Gambit appearance.

In the final two issues, Storm returns to the school and a subplot kicks into high gear. Subplot involving… mold! Of course, when the X-Men are involved, it means deadly, cybernetic mold done by a former student. The student has a big chip on his shoulder and he believes that Storm’s (or rather Xavier’s) inclusive dream is only for the pretty people.

These issues apparently tie up some X-Men related stuff. A student named Marisol is a significant secondary character. Even though I’m not familiar with those stories, this collection mostly worked for me. It’s was a bit better than the previous volume, too. Still, these stories turn out to be average.

Well, it turned out that the title was cancelled after this. Too bad, it was just getting started.

One of my favorite X-Men has gotten her own comic! Collects Storm 1-5.

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Victor Ibanez, Matteo Buffagini, Scott Hepburn, David Baldeon, Jordi Tarragona, Roland Paris, Craig Yeung

I was very excited when I noticed (on Marvel Unlimited) that Storm has now her own comic. However, I thought that writing her as a lone character might be challenging. And I was right.

Storm is an integral part of the X-Men and doesn’t have her own rogue’s gallery or supporting characters. (Yes, she was the sidekick of Black Panther for a while but that doesn’t seem to have changed her at all – after the divorce she slipped right back into the X-Men as nothing had happened. Disclaimer: I haven’t read the Black Panther comics but that’s the impression I’ve gotten from others.) Interestingly enough, even though we have loads of X-Men, very few of them have had on-going spin-offs focusing on just one character, although some have had one-shots and limited series. Of course, a one-off or a limited series has a focus written in: such as the Wolverine/Kitty Pryde limited series decades ago. Storm actually had a limited series, before the wedding, which focused on her youth. However, over the years there have been significant storylines focusing on Storm, such as her second youth with Gambit, her fight with Callisto and Morlocks, and her romance with Forge. Callisto makes an appearance in this collection, too.

This collection feels somewhat disjointed at first. The first issue has Storm rushing to help people living under dictatorship in Santo Marco where the officials want her to leave. But the people want her to stay and she does. In the second issue, she deals with the consequences of that and looks for some missing orphan kids in New York. She also has lunch with Wolverine (whom she’s now apparently dating). In the third issue she confronts Forge which was inevitable, considering their past relationship. However, Forge has been portrayed as pretty nutty in recent years and Storm acknowledged that by not trusting him.

Then we get a two-parter centering on Yukio. She’s Storm’s and Logan’s friend and in part inspired Storm’s first Mohawk style and change into a harder person and a leader from the original gentle goddess. But first, we’re supposed to believe that Wolverine is really dead and Storm grieves him. But then she pulls herself together and rushes to Las Vegas to help Yukio. She’s in a wheelchair – and the boss of a large criminal organization. Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with our heroine.

It seems that these are part of a larger plot which gets into high gear in the next collection.

The writing is somewhat different from the average loner hero because Storm has a lot of responsibilities at the school and with her friends. But she also gets help when she needs it. Overall, I liked this beginning and I’m eager to see where it will go.

Collects Excalibur 59-67.

Writer: Alan Davis, Scott Lobdell
Artists: Scott Kolins, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer

The collection starts with a two-part story written by Lobdell and drawn by Kolins. Brian has been invited to Wakanda in business and he took Meggan with him. Kitty sneaked aboard with Lockheed in order to take a vacation on somewhere warm. That’s a good thing because Wakandan supervillain Icon attacks! Fortunately, the all-new and all-different Excalibur is there to defeat him. The new team includes Iron Man, Captain America (who are also there to represent US government), Black Panther, Jungle man, Shadowcat, and Meggan. Meanwhile, back in Britain Cerise and Kurt encounter the Knight Errant.

Then Davis returns and brings back Phoenix. In deep space, Rachel confronts Galactus and some disturbing truths about her power. Meanwhile, on Earth first Micromax (a super powered agent of the British government) and then Alistaire Stewart are kidnapped while Brian and Meggan are vacationing. Excalibur (with a more traditional line-up of Kurt, Kitty, Cerise, Kylun, and Feron) investigate the kidnappings and finds out about R. C. X which is Britain’s new secret para-human organization. It appears that someone or something is infecting Britain’s super powered people with a virus that changes them back to human and kills them. This takes up the majority of the comic. This is a treat for old readers because it brings back characters from the original Captain Britain comic (by Moore and Davis).

The last two issues have the most interesting story to me. Rachel has returned and she wants to use her powers to return to her own parallel timeline to wipe out the Sentinels with the Phoenix power. And who could blame her? However, people from that dimension interfere and the whole Excalibur comes with her to fight the sentinels, Hound Master Ahab, and the Hierarchy, the ultimate Sentinel which commands the other Sentinels.

This was a good conclusion to Rachel’s story but I would have loved to see more of the world. While in the original story, only US had been taken over by the Sentinels, this time the machines have apparently taken over most of Europe and are fighting in Russia. However, this was only mentioned and not shown.

Overall this was another good collection which ties up more dangling plotlines. However, I’m not really familiar with the old characters so I though the central storyline was a bit too long while the “Back to the Present” could have been expanded. Now it’s focused completely in superhero fights. Also, it leaves Widget with a human mind!

Collects Excalibur 42-50.
Writer: Alan Davis
Artists: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer

When Claremont left Excalibur and Davis took over, he brought fun back into the title and also started to tie up the plots Claremont left unresolved. These stories have a lot of funny moments, even when another subplot deals with more serious matters, such as Meggan’s quest for her family. The interdimensional police force is especially funny with various Captain Britains from alternate dimensions. So is Technet. Kylun and Kurt’s first meeting was also very funny. This is one of the best Excalibur collections. In this collection, Davis ties up Roma’s manipulations, shows us some of Meggan’s past, and introduces new members, too. All of the issues are available from Marvel Unlimited.

The collection starts with a giggle when Technet attacks the team. The team (Captain Britain, Meggan, Shadowcat, Lockheed, Phoenix, and Nightcrawler) are rather tired from rescue efforts so a talking egg which changes into a talking chick takes them by surprise and blows up the lighthouse. But Horatio Cringebottom from the Ministry for Cross-time Transport Regulation Monitor and Control freezes the villains. Horatio and his engineer Bert have come to fix Widget so that he won’t jump in time anymore. Despite Kitty’s protestations they take Widget apart and put him back together. Horatio also gives a message to Gatecrasher: the Omniversal Majestrix has cancelled the search for Phoenix and exiled Technet to Earth. In response, Technet pleads Excalibur for help and Kurt allows them to stay in the lighthouse. And Kylun is introduced.

In the next issue, Technet has pretty much taken over the lighthouse and Brian is fed up with them. The aliens are supposed to repair the damages their bomb did to the building but unfortunately, they seem to be damaging it more. Brian’s frustrations boil over and he confronts Kurt about Kurt’s feeling about Meggan. It all descends into a fist fight, Meggan flying off, and the Omniversal Police Force kidnapping Brian to answer for his crimes. Also: lots of shirtless Brian!

In the next issue, Meggan is trying to get in touch with her past and Rachel is helping her. In Otherworld, Brian faces the accusations and is sentenced to death – still shirtless. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard Commander Thomas wants Excalibur’s help with series of burglaries which apparently have a supernatural element. However, since Kurt is the only team member in residence (Kitty has left to an archeological dig with Alistaire), there’s only one solution.

Issue 45 introduces the N-Men: Technet in new uniforms and Kurt leading them! Also, Kylun’s quest to free his world, Ee’rath, kicks into high gear.

The next issue focuses on Meggan and Rachel in Germany looking for Meggan’s family. Meggan finds some answers and Rachel realizes that keeping the Phoenix dormant heals her fragmented memory. Meanwhile, Kulyn’s tale takes a tragic turn: his lady love is killed by an evil mage Necrom. Kylun follows the villain to Excalibur’s lighthouse and we finally hear Kylun’s full story.

The next issue introduces Cerise, an alien warrior woman with light/energy powers and Brian confronts Roma. Also, the team hears that the Earth apparently has only 78 hours left to exist. This starts the countdown to the explosive issue 50.

In the next issue, Necrom kills a lot of people to get himself to full power. Meanwhile, Excalibur is looking a strategy in order to survive.

In the final issue it’s Excalibur against their ultimate foe!

Collects Excalibur 51-58 and Excalibur XX Crossing

Writers: Alan Davies, Scott Lobdell
Artists: Doug Braithwaite, Will Simpson, James Frye, Steve Lightle, Ron Lim, Dwayne Turner, Joe Madueira, Jae Lee, Malcolm Jones, Rick Leonardi, Alan Davis

Mostly this was a fun collection but it has too many inconsequential one-shots and too much stuff not done by Alan Davies (for a visionary collection). But it also ties up dangling plotlines from the start of the series so that was great.

The collection starts with the latter: what ever happened to that small human group which disappeared in the first issues? And also what happened to the small dinosaur family which was seen in a couple of scenes here and there? Well, it turns out that the human group disappeared into a parallel world where dinosaurs are the major species. This was a fun issue with a dinosaur Excalibur and Fantastic Five.

In the next issue we finally get to know everything about Rachel and Phoenix. The X-Men are called in to help Rachel who is catatonic after what happened in the previous collection. However, Rachel leaves the group to (possibly) recover in peace and isn’t seen in the rest of the collection. It has a lot of exposition but I think it was needed to clear by the situation with just how Rachel got Phoenix force.

Next is one of those inconsequential one-shots: Brian tells Meggan about his adventure with Spider-Man when they were both in collage.

Then a goofy and funny one-shot where Brian, Meggan, Kulyn, and Cerise investigate a missing people case. Lots of references to Alice in Wonderland.

Then X-Men and Excalibur special which is possibly the worst story in the collection. A new supervillain hopeful shows off his powers to Dr. Doom in an attempt to get a job as an assassin. He actually has pretty nifty powers which could have been serious trouble: he can pick people out of the time stream and put them into elsewhen. Unfortunately, he’s very bad as using them: he picks Excalibur versus the original X-Men (plus Xavier) and puts them into one-on-one fights against each other in various time lines. I actually liked the idea a lot and if he had picked more formidable opponents, it could have worked. But it didn’t. (The best thing about it was Gladiator Hank). And the fact that each fight had a different artist didn’t help.

In the next two issues, Excalibur throws a party but gets gatecrashers. Finally, the secrets behind Courtney Ross are revealed and Jamie Braddock’s situation is (mostly) cleared. Psylocke guest-stars.

In the final two issues, Excalibur finds some people turned into gold and finds out that there really are trolls under London. X-Men’s blue team (Cyclops, Psylocke, Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee, Beast) drops by as well.

The Davis issues actually have some character development with Brian realizing that he’s using violence too much and Kurt worrying about if he’s capable of leading the team (and the X-Men somewhat undermining him). Kulyn also leaves the group before the party (issue 55) which further saps Kurt’s confidence.

Fun but uneven collection.

Collects: X-Men: Battle of the Atom 1-2, All-New X-Men 16-17, X-Men 5-6, Uncanny X-Men 12-13, & Wolverine & the X-Men 36-37

Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood, Jason Aaron
Artists: Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen, David López, Esad Ripid,Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrew Currie, Tom Palmer, Chris Bachalo

Ah, crossovers! The bane of my superhero reading! Or they used to be before Marvel Unlimited. Now, they’re easier to read, as long as each comic is part of MU.

Battle of the Atom is a time travel mini-series featuring X-Men past, present, and future. In the end, there’s a lot of X-Men fighting other X-Men and that seem to be largely the point.

The original five X-Men have been brought to the present and they’re at the center of the conflict: if they should go back or stay. So far, the five have stayed and even split: Jean, Scott, Hank, and Bobby stay at the Jean Grey school under the tutelage of Kitty Pryde while Warren has joined Scott’s, er, the present Scott’s small band of rebels. Then, a group of X-Men from the future appear at the school and claim that the five have to return to the past or something terrible will happen.
The future group has some familiar and startling people: Xorn (who killed the original Jean Grey), Kate Pryde apparently from the Days of the Future Past future, Bobby as a huge ice monster, old Hank, and Xavier’s grandson.

Yes, we have no less than three Beasts and three Icemans at the same time in this story. If time travel and multiple same characters don’t make your head hurt, this can be fun. I loved the glimpses to the possible future and enjoyed the interaction between the various Hanks and Bobbys. Jubilee also had some very good moments. My problem was that it has far, far too many characters who don’t have much to do. Storm, Rogue, and Psylocke are some of my favorites and they mostly stand in the background but apparently have to be here for some reason. In fact, when I first read the few X-Men issues I didn’t have MU and no access to the rest of the story. In issue 8, after this cross-over, there was some mention that Rogue had left the team because of this event and I assumed she had a big role. Nope. She apparently died in Uncanny Avengers. And was resurrected. (Whew! Ever since Kurt died and was left dead, I sometimes worry about my other favorites.)

Collects Ms. Marvel 1-5.

Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona

Kamala Khan was born in New Jersey 16 years ago to an immigrant Pakistani family. Her parents are very strict with her while her brother is very religious. Her best friends include another Pakistani girl Nakia and a classmate Bruno who works at a local grocery store. He appears to be secretly in love with her. She a fan of the Avengers, especially Captain Marvel, and plays online a lot. However, Kamala thinks that her life is very boring, if not outright terrible. She’s frustrated with how little her parents seem to trust her and just one to be a normal girl.

Once again her parents forbid her to go to party but this time she sneaks out. At the party, she’s made fun of and she leaves, feeling really down. However, a strange mist envelops New York and Kamala passes out inside the mist. She wakes up to a hallucination of Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Iron Man. When the mist goes away she looks just like Carol Danvers in her Ms. Marvel costume. She also has shape-changing powers which she uses to save a classmate from drowning.

The story focuses on her as a person and a teenager rather than a superhero. She learns how to control her powers and they get her into trouble at first, both at home and in school. She lives with her parents but decides not to tell them about her powers, which further complicates her life. The story has lots of comedy and can be read without much previous knowledge about Marvel characters.

Kamala is a great character. She’s ernest and genuinely wants to help people and have fun with her powers. Unlike most superhero comics, Ms. Marvel isn’t centered on fights.

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