Marvel comics


Collects: Strange Tales V1 #110-111 and 115, Dr. Strange V1 #172-173, Marvel Premiere #10, Tomb of Dracula V1 #44, Dr. Strange V2# 14 and 50-51, Dr. Strange Sorcerer Supreme #48-50, Dr. Strange The Oath #5, Dr. Strange From the Marvel Vault.

Writers: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Steve Engleheart, Marv Wolfman, Roger Stern, Len Kaminski, Brian K. Vaughn

Artists: Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Frank Brunner, Marshall Rogers, Geof Isherwood, Marcos Martin, Nell Vokes

This collection showcases Dr. Strange stories through the decades, from the very first stories to 2011. The first two stories are from Strange Tales by Lee and Ditko. They’re only four pages long each. The third story is the good Doctor’s origin. Right from the start, Strange battles his bitter foe Baron Mordo. Also, the doctor’s origin story has stayed the same: it’s the same story we got in the movie.

I’m actually not very familiar with Dr. Strange. I’ve never read his own comics so I’ve seen him mostly in team-ups and huge crossover events where he’s often been integral with planning and/or required magical aid. So, it was very interesting in seeing him on his own. He doesn’t seem to have a huge cast of characters around him (like Spider-Man). Instead, he only relies on himself and his abilities or trickery. His abilities are granted by cosmic entities, such as Vishanti or Ikonn. The few people around him, like Wong and Clea, often require his help.

In the first two-issue story (172-173) he battles Dormammu and Dormammu’s sister Umar while his love interests Clea and Victoria have been kidnapped and are held hostage.

In the next story (Marvel Premier 10) Shuma-Gorath forces Strange to kill his mentor, the Ancient One.
In the next two issues, Doctor Strange battles Dracula. The story starts with Wong’s death but, of course, he doesn’t stay that way.

In the next two issues, Dr. Strange travel through time to WWII. Baron Mordo kidnaps Clea and Morgana Blessin so the good doctor has to follow him. Nick Fury guest-stars.

Next is a three-issue story where the entities from whom Dr. Strange have gotten his powers from, want something back. Specifically, first Vishanti and then the others want Strange to lead their armies in war. Unfortunately, they estimate that the war will take about 5000 years. Strange declines and has to denounce their aid. However, at the same time, Dormammu and his sister are again up to no good and Strange has to call for Hulk, the Silver Surfer, and the Ghost Rider for help.

The Oath issue 5 is apparently the last issue in a mini-series where Dr. Strange battles another student of Ancient One’s while Wong’s life hangs in the balance. He also has a new love interest, the Night Nurse.

And the final issue brings us back full circle to the day when Strange first sees the house which will be his sanctum sanctorum.

These are pretty interesting stories and easy to follow even though I haven’t read the rest of the stories. Some plotlines are left dangling but nothing significant. No doubt some of these stories, especially the death of the Ancient One and denouncing the aid from the entities, were turning points for the series. But that’s hard to appreciate in this collection.

Recommended for people wanting to know more about Strange.

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Collected the miniseries issues 1-5.

Writer: Peter David
Artist: Will Sliney

In this 2099 world, the megacorporation Alchemax owns the rights to all super beings. If a super being doesn’t work for Alchemax he, she, or it is, by law, a super villain. The head of the company is Miguel Stone. The Avengers include Captain America (Roberta Mendez who has been brainwashed so that she doesn’t remember being the Cap while she’s Roberta and vise versa), Hercules (the original but with a depression and a drinking problem), Black Widow (who is a seductress with so spider powers), Iron Man, and Hawkeye (who has real wings and talons instead of a bow). They also have the Vision but she’s a woman in a tank who sees visions.

Someone sends assassins after Roberta and that someone seems to be Martin Hargood. The team goes to arrest him but another super team is already trying to question Hargood, the Defenders: Hulk, Silver Surfer, the new Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner (blue-skinned Roman), and Valkyrie (Brunnhilde). Of course, they fight.

This one was fun and the new Cap was very interesting. Pretty light stuff, though. There’s a subplot about the Black Widow but it didn’t go anywhere. I’ve read some of the 2099 titles years go and it was fun to revisit them. Doesn’t affect the main story at all.

Collects the Secret Wars tie-in miniseries issues 1-4 and Uncanny X-Men 270.

Writer: Marc Guggenheim, Chris Claremont
Artist: Carmine di Giandomenico, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Art Thibert

Years after the X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants defeated Cameron Hodge at Genosha, some former X-Men are still in Genosha. But they aren’t trying to rebuild anymore. Now, they’re trying to keep the desperate population alive. A mutant plague is threatening every mutant on the planet. It started at Genosha and so Baron Rachel Grey, host of the Phoenix Force, is keeping Genosha under complete quarantine.

Havok, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Karma, Mystique, Chief Magistrate Anderson, and a group of new characters try to appeal to Emperor Doom for help and when that fails, they try to appeal to Baron Grey. Havok and the others have come up with a plan: Rogue and Triage, a mutant with a healing ability, should be able to cure the plague. But Rachel thinks the risk of the plague escaping to the general mutant population is too high and she refuses to help, except by sending more food and medicines. So, Havok and his team decide to break the quarantine and kidnap Rogue and Triage. X-Men battle X-Men! Meanwhile, Genengineer (you know, the bad guy who invented the ways to enslave mutants and make both mutants and potential mutants into mutates. And you know, the X-Men are actually trusting this guy to run the science labs without even a hint of supervision???!!!) actually has quite another plan.

The plot depends on characters making terrible choices. Beast is at his worst, advising Rachel Phoenix to not help the others based on calculations. Even ghost-Cyclops warns Havok not to do this. I’m also not so sure that the small team should have been able to fight successfully against a large team of X-Men plus Phoenix and win. Of course, after the kidnapping, a group of X-Men pursue them to Genosha and another fight happens.

A shame, because I actually found the background stuff far more interesting than the actual plot. Like, Beast has done his time-travel thing again and rescued a few X-Men from death, by bringing them to the present before their death. But despite Rachel being the Baron and her parents (apparently) dead, Beast has brought back Wolverine, Thunderbird, and Banshee. Also, Rogue’s powers seem to work differently: the person whose powers she absorbs, stays conscious so both Rogue and her “victim” can use their powers. The new character, Wicked, has the power to call ghosts which seemed pretty interesting. The X-Men in Genosha also seem to be far less intelligent than usual, since they’re trusting Genengineer.

Apparently, the print collection also has the first issue of the original X-Tinction Agenda which ends in a cliffhanger.

Collects the Secret Wars tie-in issues 1-5.

Writer: Dustin Weaver, Gerry Duggan
Artist: Dustin Weaver

The characters at the center of this miniseries were created for this series, at least as far as I know. However, the Nova Corps are part of the Marvel U but I don’t know much about them. I read these alternative universe tales to get a different spin on familiar characters so I wasn’t really sure at first if I wanted to read this one. But in the end, I rather enjoyed it. Lots of cool black female characters in action, even though it doesn’t impact on the primary SW tale at all. And a German Shepard with the Nova powers!

Anwen Bakian is a black teenager living on a warzone which has been overrun by giant bugs, apparently the annihilation bugs. Luckily, she doesn’t need to survive alone: her father, little sister, grandfather, and dog are there to help her. They live in the ruins of a modern city, barely scraping a living. Her mother was part of the Nova Corps but she died years ago. Bugs attack Anwen’s family and her grandfather sacrifices himself to save her.

Then her mother returns, but unfortunately not in time to save Anwen’s grandfather. But she gives the rest of her family the Nova stars and so they have a bigger chance of survival.

Starlord and Gamora are also in this world. They’re thieves and scavengers. Even though they want to kill the bugs, too, can Anwen and her family trust them?

There’s a twist in the story when everyone’s (well alright my) favorite purple Titan enters into the story. It’s a twist I enjoy so it made the story better for me. Others might not like it as much. So, despite the new characters I enjoyed this story a lot, more than I expected.

Collects Mighty Thor 5-12.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Russell Dauterman, Rafa Garres, Frazer Irving

The collection starts with a two-issue story. Dario Agger, the CEO of Roxxon oil, is making a deal with Loki to get better soldiers. The prince of lies in turn tells Dario a tale from the original (male) Thor’s youth. During the age of Vikings, Bodolf the Bold was a mighty chief but his might came from his prayers to Thor which summoned the Thunder God to fight by Bodolf’s side. But one day, in his pride Bodolf didn’t pray to Thor and Thor changed sides. Wanting revenge, Bodolf prayed to Loki who also answered him.

The story has two artists, one for past and one for present. It’s an interesting choice and their styles are very different from each other.

Then S.H.I.E.L.D. agents question Jane Foster: they believe that she’s Thor and for some reason they want to arrest her for that. Luckily, Agent Solomon interferes. Meanwhile, the most rich and powerful bad guys gather, and the Terminatrix kidnaps Agger. It turns out that if something happens to Agger the Roxxxon island will fall on New York City. So, Solomon and Thor have to find Agger and… save him.

The final issue explores the origins of Mjolnir. It’s been showing new powers and even personality which are clearly a retcon but it suites the new Thor. However, this was more an Odin tale.
I enjoyed this collection a lot. The two agents trying to expose Jane as Thor were hilarious and I don’t think they’re going to be long in Coulson’s organization. We also got a glimpse of old Thor in the first two issues. I’m not a huge fan of supervillains running the world, but together they are a formidable foe for Thor and even to each other, as we can see in this collection. Solomon and Thor work well together even though they could have personal issues. Also, there’s sub-plot about dark elves conquering light elves’ domain which will apparently lead to a bigger story.

A Secret Wars miniseries. Collects Future Imperfect 1-5 and Secret Wars: Battleworld 4

Writer: Peter David
Artists: Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Daniel Valadez

Like many of the other Warzones miniseries this is an alternate version of a previous (successful) alternate universe, in this case Peter David’s Hulk: Future Imperfect where the green skinned monster called the Maestro rules over a world devastated by nuclear war.

This Dystopia is also ruled by the Maestro. He’s hounded by a small group of rebels who want him out. The rebels include Janis and Scooter from the previous miniseries but also new characters. Ruby Summers is the daughter of Cyclops and Emma Frost. She’s also a rebel and seems to be the only superhero still living in Dystopia. The Maestro has killed all the others and keeps a trophy room near his harem of beautiful, nearly naked girls.

Ruby is wandering in the sandy deserts around the city of Dystopia. She encounters an old man who calls himself Odin and decides to take him back to the rebels. Unfortunately, the old man isn’t Odin. Soon, the rebels are fighting against the Maestro himself and the rebel’s leader, the Thing, tries to save them. Instead, Maestro manages to capture the Thing and now the rebels have to save him from the Maestro’s palace. Fortunately, a couple of the Maestro’s troops want to get rid of him, too, and are helping rebels. However, things don’t go as the rebels expect.

This was a fun, quick read with an actual plot. However, it doesn’t really tie into the Maestro’s appearance in the main series which was a little confusing. I liked this one more than the original FI miniseries because there aren’t nearly as much naked women everywhere as in the original. Oh and the Thing isn’t Ben.

In the Battleworld issue, the Silver Surfer comes to get his board from the Maestro’s trophy room.

Collects Captain Marvel 1-5 (2016).

Writer: Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters
Artists: Kris Anka, Felipe Smith

Marvel is clearly concentrating more on Carol and I’m happy about it. Carol’s life after Secret Wars continues as high-profile as before, but this time in space!

Alpha Flight is now serving aboard Alpha Flight space station and Carol has been asked to command the station. She was (mostly) happy to take a two-year assignment. She thinks that the job is mostly going to be a desk job. But she’s wrong: immediately she has to start being a diplomat and a combat leader. The diplomat role she’s happy to hand to Agent Abigail Brand while she leads the Alpha Flight into a battle against a mysterious space ship – which carries Carol’s Hala star. When Carol leads a small group to investigate the ship, it turns out to be organic. And that’s when the troubles start.

I’ve no idea why the Alpha Flight has become a space organization, or rather a part of it. Sasquatch, Puck, and Aurora are the only members left and none of them have powers usable in space. Instead, they use small space fighters. I also really enjoyed a new character Wendy Kawasaki who is the lead scientist on the station and she thinks her commander and job are very cool. Agent Brand I’m less thrilled about but she is a formidable character and of course we need someone to bring in friction, jump to conclusions, and challenge Carol all the time.

This is basically Star Trek: DS9 with superheroes. And for me, that a good thing! Pretty much the only thing I didn’t like was that Carol’s powers started to diminish. It’s such an old plot device and more often used on female characters. But hopefully that’s now done and we’ll see other adventures. The space station is Earth’s first line of defense against threats from space so there’s no shortage of possible plots.

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