Marvel comics


Collects All-New X-Men issues 18-21 and X-Men Gold issue 1.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, Louise Simonson, Roy Thomas, Fabien Nicieza, Len Wein
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, Brandon Peterson and Mahmud Asrar, Rob McCloud, Bob Wiacek, Walt Simonson, Pat Oliffe, Jorge Molina, Salvador Larroca, Christ Sotomayor

After the events in the Battle for the Atom cross-over, the teenaged original X-Men and their professor Kitty Pryde decide to join Cyclops’ lunatic team. This also give the chance for Kitty and Illyana to reconnect. They used to be best friends and roommates back in the Xavier school. On the bad side of things (for me), all the teenaged X-Men and panting after Jean.

In the next issues, the team (teenaged X-Men, Kitty, and Illyana) battles the Purifies, religious fanatics who want to clean the Earth of mutants. They were founded by William Stryker. The team also encounters a girl the Purifiers are hunting. The girl is terrified, and Kitty pursues her. She turned out to be Laura Kinney, X-23.
Apparently, she was kidnapped, and terrible things were done to her. Now she wants revenge and the team follows her to the Purifiers’ base.

In the soap opera front, Scott and Laura have feelings for each other. Despite Jean saying that she doesn’t want anything to do with Scott, she’s jealous and spies on them. (Insert eyerolls here.) Oh, and Illyana gave the team their new uniforms. The Purifiers are a great way to show the team how different things are in the here and now than in the sixties. So, the team’s fish out of water experiences continue.

I didn’t enjoy this collection as much as the previous one but it’s still mostly on the fun side. I especially enjoyed the exchange between the bad guys when some of them were arguing that they can’t kill the time-traveled X-Men or the timeline will suffer… as they’ve seen in movies.

The final issue in the collection is a strange one. It’s X-Men Gold vol. 1 issue 1. Apparently, it came out in 2014 but in the X-Men internal chronology it’s set far further in the past, when Kitty Pryde was still very new to the superhero stuff and using the name Ariel, and Scott was still married to Jean’s clone Madelyne and Nathan had not yet been born. Also, Rogue has only just joined the team and the team is coming home to US from Japan where Wolverine was supposed to have been married… but didn’t. So, a huge blast from the past!

In the main story, the team battles a new kind of Sentinel and Kitty gets to show off her leadership skills for the first time. The issue has also four very short back-up stories. The first involves the original X-Men where… Jean apparently has no objection to dating any of the other original X-Men… In the second story, Banshee and Sunfire (whose only other appearance in the collection is in the next story) meet for the first time. In the third story, Wolverine meets the new X-Men for the first time and immediately thinks of how easy it would be to kill the others. The final story is the weirdest of them all. Xavier and Magneto are in some sort of dream world where they helped to build the world into a paradise… or have they?

While I enjoyed seeing the “classic” (for me) X-Men in battle once again, I doubt new readers would get much out of these stories. Also, they’re pretty forgettable so they seem to be pretty much filler.

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Collects X-Men: Schism 1-5, Generation Hope 10-11, & X-Men: Regenesis.

Writers: Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen
Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Aland Davis, Adam Kubert, Cam Smith, Mark Farmer, Mark Roslan, Tim Seely, Billy Tan

Despite being such a fundamental event, Schism was skipped in the Finnish edition of the X-Men and now I understand that decision. It’s an ambitious comic with the theme of children in war. That’s a hugely important topic and is addressed through two main views: the mutant kids in Utopia (especially Idie) and the new Hellfire Club pre-teen kids. Their lives are pretty much the opposite of each other.

The four pre-teen kids have all grown up impossibly rich. Yet, they all turn out to be insane mass murderers, seemingly without other cause than boredom (and possibly getting out the shadows of their parents). None of them are abused in anyway. Yet, they casually murder their own parents and take over their business empires. And then take over the Hellfire Club by murdering the previous leaders. They’re also planning mutant genocide and intend to profit from it. That’s… chilling, twisted, and insane are too mellow words. Yet, they’re so clearly monsters that they’re pretty much caricatures. What’s the message here? Unearned wealth makes kids into murderers? I don’t know.

The mutant kids are far more relatable. Most of them are Hope Summers and her generation Hope kids. I’m actually not very familiar with them. They were shown briefly in Finland when the whole Generation Hope started but not much after that. But they’re all under 18 and Hope has recruited them to be soldiers. Some of them, and some of the adults, take exception to that. Idie is the central character. She’s 14 and has accepted that she’s a monster because she’s a mutant. Wolverine is horrified by that and is even more horrified when she ends up killing people. She does it in self-defense, of course, and rescues other people beside herself. But she still thinks of herself as a murderer.

I rather enjoyed the Generation Hope issues here which gave us insight to the kids’ point-of-view.

The other theme is heroes disagreeing but that’s an old hat by now. The main conflict is between Cyclops and Wolverine. They pretty much invert their original positions: Cyclops wants mutants to be proactive and protect themselves while Wolverine wants the mutants to live first and protect themselves when absolutely necessary. Cyclops the realist and Wolverine the idealist.

The problem for me is that Logan has never before been against teens in battle. Kitty Pryde? He trains her as a ninja when she’s 14. Jubilee? Again, he trained her when the rest of the X-Men had gone through Siege Perilous and were lost to him (yeppers, I still remember way back things. ;)). He also trained Rogue although she was 18 when she joined X-Men (IIRC). And X-23. He had no problem being in the same team with any of them. Now, suddenly, he’s got a problem with the newer kids. Hmph. So, while the idea might be good, the execution not so much. In fact, I think Ororo would have been far better choice as the idealist leaving Utopia. Or perhaps Kitty, thinking the other kids needed a childhood she didn’t get (although I don’t remember her ever lamenting it). Maybe Kurt? Or to shake things up real good, how about Emma who claims to loooove teaching. Or perhaps someone newer who still had the idealism left. Because part of the problem is that the old and experienced X-Men have seen so much and lost friends and family, that while many of them would like to live in a world where mutant children would not need to be soldiers, they’re far too pragmatic to behave like they already have that luxury. Because that’s why they’re fighting. To get to that world.

Also, the story clearly shows that the mutants are in deadly danger right frelling now and if they kids don’t fight, they’re dead. So, what’s with sudden idealistic Logan who wants to get the kids killed now, huh? But of course the real main issue between them comes out when Scott says: “She never loved you, you know. You always frightened her.”

That’s right. Mr. Hypocritical who abandoned Jean for Emma. (No, Marvel, I’m never going to forget that.) And by the way, Mr. Hypocritical who abandoned his wife Madelyne and their new-born son for Jean. (Ditto.) And of course on the other side Mr. Hypocritical who has already taught children to fight.

In the end, I think this was done because the mutants were too cozy with each other. Too many characters and too difficult to get them in danger when they have ready back-up. So, it was an outside driven thing rather than rising from the characters, so it felt forced to me (and yeah, I really shouldn’t expect any character driven things from comics). It could have been a far more interesting conflict if Marvel had chosen central characters whose personalities had actually fit the roles chosen for them. In that case, Logan choosing to, for example, support Storm would have been far more believable choice. But you know, who wants to read about girl mutants making their own choices when we can have the savage but noble Wolverine battle the increasingly unlikable Cyclops over a dead girl?

Okay, rant over. 🙂 I think I’ll be revisiting some older X-Men comics, except for the All-New X-Men which I’ll continue with.

Collects Uncanny Avengers 1-5. (Vol. 2)

Writers: Rick Remender, Gerry Duggan
Artist: Daniel Acuna

I’ve read more than my share of really strange comics but in the superhero world this one is pretty weird. Although, not in the 60s Superman/Batman weird, but modern weird.
I’ve read the previous volume of Uncanny Avengers (through Marvel Unlimited) and quite liked them. This one feels like it starts in the middle of a story but it’s not the Axis story where the previous volume of UA ended. And this volume ends in Secret Wars so perhaps the ending was quite rushed.

Wand and Pietro (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) have learned previously (from where and whom? I’ve no idea. If it was from a bad guy, why would they believe a single word?) that they’re not actually the children of Magneto or even mutants. They travel to Counter-Earth and to the High Evolutionary to get answers (why? Again, I’ve no idea). Counter-Earth is another Earth built by High Evolutionary directedly behind the sun from the Earth. There he’s been able to experiment to his cold little heart’s content, creating generations of New Men (from animals) and apparently destroying them when they prove to be imperfect by having emotions. Wanda and Pietro are caught but end up in the hands of Low Evolutionary, High Evolutionary’s son, and the leader of the rebels.

Meanwhile, Rogue leads a small group of Avengers after the twins. Captain America (Sam), the Vision, and Doctor Voodoo along with Sabretooth find out where the twins have gone, and Doctor Voodoo does a spell to transport them to C-E. But the spell is disrupted and the group is separated from each other. Rogue is captured by a sadistic scientist and Sam is captured by strange plant people. Meanwhile, the Vision ends up in the company of a female android Eve and they, well, have sex and make children. Doctor Voodoo is in the company of the millions of souls High Evolutionary had killed and they want revenge.

Apparently, Wanda and Pietro’s background was retconned (again) which isn’t too strange anymore, but the Vision having (artificial and really fast growing) children and then abandoning them to their mother felt really weird. And it was claimed that he fell in love with this new Eve android and yet was able to blithely abandon her. As was Sam turning briefly to a tree creature and then back to a human.

On the bright side, I liked the art and Pietro got some much-needed character development. Also, Sabretooth as a good guy is a very interesting idea and here he worked well. I also love the idea of Counter-Earth; that’s always fun to see.

Collects X-Men: Legacy Vol. 1 #219–225. (2009)

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Scot Eaton, Phil Briones, Andrew Hennessy, Cam Smith

This collection starts with a one-shot where Charles Xavier is talking with his half-brother Cain Marko, also known as the Juggernaut. Cain tried Xavier’s way but got frustrated and left. Now, he’s taking his frustrations out on Xavier. The ending has a twist but I saw that one coming.

Most of the collection is a longer story. After the events of M-Day, Rogue has gone the Australian outback where the X-Men lived when the world thought that they were dead. She longs for solitude to get her head back together but instead, she gets an intruder who turns out to be Danger, the sentient Danger room. Also, a Shi’Ar starship crashes the party. Luckily, Xavier and Gambit had also come for Rogue.

In the final issue, Xavier goes after Exodus and his Acolytes. Alone. He confronts Exodus’ attitude and shows him how bleak the future of mutantkind can be without unity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Rogue story, even though Xavier almost took it over with his own quest for redemption from his past misdeeds. Here we get a walk-through Rogue’s history and final learn that her powers might be messed up and that they could be repaired. This story is clearly aimed at those of us who have read the X-Men for a long time, since the flashbacks (single panels, really) are from the 1990s X-Men (some of the best ones IMHO). Of course, Rogue is one of my favorite characters ever so I’m happy see her handled this well.

However, the collection ends in a cliffhanger and the Finnish library system doesn’t have the next one. It leads to the Osborn Avengers storyline.

Collects Spider-Island (2015) #1-5.

Writers: Christos Cage, Ron Frenz, Tom DeFalco
Artists: Paco Diaz, Sal Buscema

Spider-Man has actually never been one of my favorite heroes. But since I started first reading Marvel comics, I’ve also read Spider-Man for the simple reason that for many years X-Men and Spider-Man were the only two monthly comics published here in Finland. For some years we had a couple of other Marvel comics which had several heroes and groups (mainly Fantastic Four, Avengers, Daredevil, and Punisher) but they’re long gone now. Currently, Spider-Man is the only monthly Marvel comic. So, you might say I know a lot about Spidey, at least before Marvel broke up Mary Jane and Peter. I was so insulted by that break up and the way it was done, that I dropped the Spider-Man comic. But now Spidey’s part in Secret Wars was published here in Finland and I ended up reading those issues. And rather enjoying them for some wacky fun.

In Spider-Island, the baroness is the Spider Queen. Who seems to be a huge sentient spider. She’s infected almost everyone in Manhattan with the Spider infection which has turned heroes, villains, and regular people into six-eyed spider creatures. Except a small group of heroes still fights on: Agent Venom (Flash Thompson with the symbiont), Spider-Woman (whose powers apparently make her immune) and Vision along with a small group of regular people. Flash has a great idea to make a few other heroes immune to the infection. So, they confront spider infected Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Captain America, and make use of items that can override the Queen’s control. So, we have six-armed lizard Hulk, werewolf Cap, vampire Captain Marvel, and Iron Man who is sprayed with the Goblin venom! Together, they fight the Queen!

This was fast-paced and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the six-armed spider/lizard Hulk, vampire Captain Marvel, and the mad Iron Man. The plot isn’t too stupid and not too complicated, either.

The collection has a bonus in the form of Mayday Parker, the Spider-Woman. I’m actually not familiar with her but can see the appeal. In this comic, Peter has died recently, and May is still mourning. Someone grabs control of the current Avengers and turns them again Mayday. Another fast-paced read.

Collects All-New X-Men issues 11-15.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, David Lafuente

The original X-Men (or their alternate timeline duplicates) are still trying to get used to the modern world and the history which they don’t know. Jean is struggling with her new-found telepathic powers, her upcoming (past?) fate, and then she finds out what Wanda Maximoff did to mutants and that she’s still an Avenger (personally I blame awful writers for that “event”). Meanwhile, a group of X-Men which has the five originals and Wolverine, is apparently robbing banks. And so the original X-Men are now wanted felons.

However, perhaps the most shocking development is that the young Warren (Angel) leaves the rest of the original group and join’s Cyclops’ team. Jean tries to force him to stay and gets a stern lecture from Kitty.

This collection has the awful Hank/Jean thing. Besides that, I also found the brief exchanges between Rachel and Jean… very bizarre. Rachel Summers (or Gray as she’s calling herself now) is the alternate reality child of Jean and Scott (she’s from the Days of the Future Past timeline). She was a major character in the X-Men and Excalibur comics for years and I was looking forward to her reaction and she getting to know her mother when Jean’s a teenager. They’re both telepaths, too. Instead… we get a couple of funny pages where they don’t even talk to each other?? This was a missed opportunity. But maybe Rachel is such a marginal character these days that Marvel doesn’t even bother with her? Too bad. Or maybe they talked in another X-Men comic? I think Rachel was in the “X-Men” comic at that time.

On the other hand, I again loved the adult Kitty training the teenaged X-Men. (Although Kitty in relationship with adult Bobby? I don’t remember that at all… In fact, I thought it was just a movies universe thing?? And isn’t she going to date Star-Lord soon? What?) I also loved Mystique’s scheme and was almost sorry to see it busted. We also get a couple of pages of Scott and Bobby just being teenagers, which was also funny. And so was Wolverine trying to herd cats… er teenaged X-Men.

So, overall the same quality as the first collection. Mostly it delivered fun and excitement but also some frustrations.

Collects All-New X-Men issues 1-10.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, David Marquez

Jean Grey is dead, Scott Summers is an insane mutant terrorist, Hank McCoy is dying, poor Warren has died and been resurrected as… well, you’re guess is as good as mine. Things aren’t going so well today for the first five X-Men. The mutants at the Jean Grey school are trying to live Professor Xavier’s dream of peaceful co-existence with humans while new mutants come into existence startlingly all over the US. At the same time Cyclops and his small band of Emma Frost, Magneto, and Magik want mutants to be proud of their heritage and to life free… as mutants and not in hiding. People call Scott a terrorist for that. And because he killed Professor Xavier (at the end of X-Men vs. Avengers). Scott’s group is recruiting the new mutants.

So, Hank doesn’t tell anyone that he’s dying. Instead, he decides that the teenage X-Men need to come forward in time and talk sense to Scott. So, he does just that.

Now, the five original X-Men are in the present day and they’re aren’t happy. Jean especially is having a hard time because she doesn’t yet fully control her abilities and because her history is… traumatizing to say the least.

However, the original X-Men decide to stay, even though most of the modern-day X-Men urge them to return, with their memories wiped out. Mayhem ensues, especially when the two Cyclopses meet.
Bendis is a hit or miss guy for me and this one is, mostly, a hit. I enjoyed the idea and the drama that followed when the originals decided to stay. However, time travel is almost always problematic. And so it’s here. I can’t help to think that it’s absolutely ridiculous that the originals staying (or even getting a glimpse of the future) didn’t affect the present-day X-Men. The only explanation (by Marvel time-travel rules) is that these original X-Men are from another timeline and not, in fact, from the past. (Otherwise, the current day X-Men would remember this present which would alter their choices in… pretty much everything that’s happened since then. (Hey Marvel! How about rewriting everything X-Men have done until now and them knowing what will happen!!) Or when the original X-Men decided to stay, they would not have lived the intervening years and so the current day five X-Men would cease to exist and so everything they’ve done before they went to the future. (Hey Marvel! How about rewriting all of Marvel history except without the original X-Men!!) Ah, time travel! Gotta love it/hate it!)

I also didn’t really care for the newly revealed Hank’s feelings for Jean. Because Jean’s already romantically linked with both Scott and Warren. And now with Hank, too… (insert eyerolling here).

On the other hand, I loved how Bendis handled Kitty. She’s one my favorite characters and it’s been great to see her mature from the scrawny little teenagers to this self-assured professor leading the young X-Men.

Overall, this was a very good read as long as you don’t really think about the implications of some things.

Artwork is very good. I’ve always enjoyed Immonen’s smooth art and he’s in top form here. Originally, I read these comics in Marvel Unlimited and there it’s actually hard to see big double page images. But in the printed format they’re very nice. Marquez’s art is nice, too, and not too different from Immonen’s.

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