Marvel comics


Collects the miniseries issues 1-8.

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Writer: Neil Gaiman

Artists: Andy Kubert, Richard Isanove

Publishing year: 2003

I read this originally when it first came out in 2003 and mostly liked it.

So, Marvel characters were born in 1602. Sir Nicholas Fury is the spymaster to the elderly and sick Queen Elizabeth I. Stephen Strange is the Queen’s head physician and sorcerer. The men don’t like each other but have a grudging respect for each other.

Matthew Murdoch is a blind minstrel who secretly works for Fury. Teenaged Peter Parquagh is Fury’s closest assistant. Murdoch sings about four intrepid explorers who died while investigating the new world. Fury’s secret ally is Carlos Javier, who has a school for mutants.

All over the world, mutants are called witchbreed and the people hate and fear them. In England they’re tolerated, but in Scotland King James persecutes them, and in Spain the Grand Inquisitor burns them at the stake.

Storms are getting stronger, and Dr. Strange senses that they’re supernatural. He tries to find out more about them with his magic. In a trance, he sees that a ship is coming from the New World and that the girl on it is responsible for the storms–which will destroy the world. Virginia Dare and her loyal blond and white-skinned Native American guard are sailing from Roanoke to beg help from the Queen. Virginia’s hair is white and when she’s scared, she can involuntarily turn to a white animal. The guard is… very stoic and speaks only a few words when necessary. Very stereotypically cringe worthy.

Meanwhile, in Spain the Grand Inquisitor is preparing to burn at the stake a young man who dares to impersonate an angel, by having wings. The Inquisitor’s young aides, Wanda and Petros, have powers of their own, so the old Inquisitor seems to play a deeper game. However, Javier’s young charges save the young man from death.

Also, an old man is secretly bringing a Templar treasure to England. A treasure that could destroy the world or save it. The Queen commands Fury to protect it and Fury sends Murdoch.

And in Latveria Count Otto von Doom, called the Handsome, is weaving his own plots.

So, the comic has lots of characters. However, for me at least they worked well, mostly anyway. Strange and Fury get the most page time in the first issue, but other characters get more time in later issues.

For the most part, I enjoyed this reimagining of the oldest Marvel characters in an Elizabethan fantasy world. Daredevil especially had a bigger role and was more effective than I expected. Javier and Fury’s relationship was very interesting, too. Jean has to pretend to be a boy, which was a nice touch. I recommend this only for people who are already familiar with Marvel’s comics.

However, the women characters had tiny roles, so I was disappointed in how little Gaiman used them. Wanda’s only relevant action in the whole comic is in the first issue. Also, I don’t think the complicated explanation in the last two issues wasn’t really necessary. But my biggest disagreement was with a character that was revealed right at the end. I just don’t think they could have thought and done what they did.

Kubert’s art is quite distinctive. Isanove changed it to a painting style which worked very well for this story.

Collects Uncanny X-Men (2018) issues 11-16.

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artists: Salvador Larroca, John McCrea, Juanan Ramirez

At the end of Disassembled (vol. 1) of the UXM series in 2018, almost all of the X-Men vanished during a fight and they’re presumed to be dead.

Now, Scott Summers is back. Actually, how he came back to life was in UXM Annual which, strangely, isn’t part of this collection. He’s keeping a low profile but helping people, especially mutants, who need it. But when a group of mutants attack a Humanity for Humans rally, he decides to defend the bigots. Now, all of X-Men’s enemies know that Cyclops is back. He challenges them and calls all X-Men who are still left. Only Wolverine answers his call.

Oh, and Scott meets with a young mutant who can see the future, Blindfold. I haven’t seen her before. She warns Scott that anything he does is futile but urges Logan to help him.

Oh yes. Wolverine is back as well. His return was in the ”Return of Wolverine” miniseries.

Logan and Scott team-up. They look for other surviving mutants. They find Havok (without the facial scars) and a group of New Mutants. Magik is her normal self, not as acidic as when she was in Scott’s X-Men team. Wolfsbane, Karma, and Mirage have been infected by the techno-organic virus so they talk like Warmachine. They also find the Multiple Man and a couple of other mutants.

Scott plans to take care of all of the X-Men’s dangerous enemies so that humans wouldn’t have to deal with them. The others are a bit skeptical but join his crusade.

This is quite a dark comic. With most of their friends and family dead, the X-Men aren’t a happy bunch. They know that their mission is most likely an impossible one and that some, or all, of them will die.

I quite enjoyed the banter between Logan and Scott. That’s pretty much the only banter in the collection. I also really enjoyed the first issue where they ended up trusting and supporting each other. Alex and Scott aren’t very close despite being brothers, but they have their moments. When Scott starts taking prisoners, the others have mixed feelings about it, and about the prisoners.

While this is darker than I like, at least right now, I enjoyed most of it. The comic brings back many elements of the X-Men when I first fell in love with them, namely Claremont’s long run in the 1980s. In addition to the classic villains, like Marauders, or sort-of-allies like Val Cooper, also the mutant hatred is, again, very high and the X-Men are a small band of misfits rather than a horde of experienced teachers and an even larger group of students with various powers.

So, overall I liked it, but none of my favorite mutants are in this comic (Storm, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler…). I’ll definitely continue to see just how they will come back.

(And of course, they will be back, with Hickman’s run starting soon after this storyline.) And yes, I’ll also dive into the Age of X-Man to see what my favorite mutants are doing.

Collects Astonishing X-Men issues 7-12.

Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Gerardo Sandoval, Phil Noto, Paolo Siqueria, Matteo Buffagni, Aco, and Ron Garney

The story continues straight from issue 6. Rogue, Gambit, Old Man Logan, and Mystique are back from the Astral Plane. But with them came out another mutant, someone whom everyone thinks is dead but who has been trapped in the Astral Plane, dueling with the Shadow King. He’s a changed person. Mystique doesn’t believe he is who he says he is. The new mutant, who calls himself X, has taken over Fantomex while Fantomex’s spirit stays in the Astral Plane. Psylocke even visits the Astral Plane to make sure Fantomex chose it.

But together with X another mutant comes to London from the Astral Plane: Proteus who has reality altering powers. And Proteus wastes no time using his powers. The X-Men and X drive him away from London, but he goes to a small town in Scotland. He offers all the residents whatever they want. Of course, chaos ensues.

Characters rising from the dead aren’t unusual in comics, but I’m not sure if the return of this character was needed. But he seems to be a really changed man, doing things now that he wouldn’t have before. Also, Mystique especially is suspicious of him, which is refreshing and also really sensible. Soule’s run ends here, and the next writer takes up another cast of characters.

This was mostly an enjoyable read. Soule changes especially the balance between Warren and Archangel. Also, Fantomex’s mind remains in the Astral Plane. But in the end, X wipes the memories of him from all the other characters, except Betsy. I’m so used to comics where nothing changes that I was surprised, but I liked the changes. But who knows if the next writers will even notice them. Of course, that’s always the question with a universe as large as Marvel.

Collects Astonishing X-Men issues 1-6.

Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr.,  Ed McGuinness, Carlos Pacheco, Ramon Rosanas, Mike Del Mundo, Mark Morales, Rafael Fonteriz, Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong

I wanted more Rogue and Gambit stories. Unfortunately, this comic is set before they get married. In fact, when they meet again in the first issue, Rogue is quite cold toward Gambit. But this must be the series where they’re built toward the wedding. So I’m looking forward to that.

A psychic wave leaves many lesser powered telepaths dead. But when that wave reaches Psylocke, she reaches out to the X-Men who are closest: Bishop, Angel, Rogue, Old Man Logan, and Gambit. Gambit is working with Fantomex so he comes along, too. A powerful telepath is attacking Betsy and the X-Men come to her rescue. Working together Rogue and Bishop manage to save her. However, their work is just beginning.

Betsy tells them that the Shadow King is alive and well in the Astral Plane. Some of the X-Men must go there and kill him or he will take over enough minds to escape to the world.

Bishop and Angel choose to stay and guard the others. Psylocke must stay and keep the others in the Astral Plane. So, Logan, Rogue, Gambit, Phantomex, and one mystery mutant go to the Astral Plane.

The Shadow King will try to take them over by creating a reality they will accept as real so I was looking forward to twisted versions, both good and bad, of our characters’ realities. This didn’t happen.

The first issue promised that the SK will use the characters’ fears and loves against them. Unfortunately, we got only a few scenes of that before another powerful mutant psychic started to influence our characters and they realized where they were. SK has taken over Gambit and Rogue before but that was only referenced a couple of times, not significantly.

So this turned out to be quite different than what I expected. Still, I quite enjoyed this adventure with both an old enemy, SK obviously, and new one which is the UK’s Ministry of Defense’s superhuman police force which seem very trigger happy. I also enjoyed the mystery mutant working with the others. Not so sure about the resurrected character but we’ll see what happens with them.

This was a good start and I’m going to continue with the series.

Every issue has a different artist. Their styles aren’t very different from each other, so this wasn’t too annoying except in the final issue. But it was noticeable in the other issues, as well.

Collects Fantastic Four (2018) issues 14-19.

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Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Paco Medina, Bob Quinn, Sean Izaakse, Luciano Vecchio, Carlos Magno, Francesco Manna

National Air and Space Museum newest exhibit is Marvel-II the rocket ship where the FF did their first flight and got their powers. The FF are there, as well. Reed has the idea that the FF should redo their first, failed space flight. They should finally go to the planet where they were trying to go. Johnny and Sue agree but Ben think they’re all nuts.

But in the end all four members launch in the redone rocket ship. However, the FF don’t know that the planet is inhabited. The people of Spyre knew that the FF were coming to invade them all those years ago… and they’ve had time to prepare. Now they have their own superheroes, the Unparallered. But their near-perfect society has a darker side, too.

This was a fascinating concept and I enjoyed most of it. The people of Spyre have a very clear and insular culture. They don’t have any contact with any other cultures and so their view of the FF is quite different from what I’m used to. However, this is a pretty standard superhero story with a couple of twists. One of them concerned Johnny and I’m curious to see how it will turn out.

On the other hand, I’m not sure if we really needed an FF origin retcon. We already know that Reed isn’t a perfect person or scientist. Also, the storyline has several artists which hurt the comic a bit. Their styles weren’t completely incompatible but noticeably different.

Collects X-Men Gold issues 13-15 and X-Men Blue issues 13-15.

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Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Cullen Bunn
Artists: Jorge Molina, Mike Mayhew, Marc Laming, Diego Bernard

The X-Men teams unite against a invading monoliths which turn to be Mojo’s trick!

I think this is a storyline readers will either love or hate. It’s Mojo rehashing all the X-Men’s greatest hits to boost his ratings. It’s a love letter to X-Men history, spinning it for us old fans one more time. But it’s not new readers friendly, which I find very interesting. Despite Dark Phoniex on the cover, she only appears in a few background pictures.

I enjoyed it. Mojo was used in equally silly way as the Secret Empire in X-Men Blue vol. 2. Mojo takes over Manhattan and every TV set and smartphone in it… and in the end he and his tech just disappear.

On the bad side, Longshot makes an appearance… and he’s more concerned with his ratings than battling Mojo’s robots. That’s not the hero I remember from 1990s X-Men comics.

The story starts with the teams playing baseball. Kitty already mentions that someone will attack when they play… and mysterious monoliths drop down from the sky to Manhattan. The X-Men dive in and find themselves in different battle scenarios. Their surroundings and enemies, even the costumes they wear, change when the scenario changes. Team one is Kitty, Prestige (Rachel Summers), Bloodstorm, and Cyclops who are fighting against future Sentinels from the Days of the Future Past comic. Kitty’s X-Men costume changes to prisoner’s fatigues and Rachel’s costume to the Hound. Team two is Storm, Old Man Logan, Iceman, and Angel fighting Ice Giants in Asgard. Storm is the only one who gets to wear her cool Asgard costume. Team three is Marvel Girl leading Nightcrawler, Colossus, Beast, and Jimmy Hudson fighting demons in Inferno. Jean is in Goblin Queen’s costume and Hank changes to a demon. Of course, the scenes change for each team at least a couple of times.

The cast of characters is pretty large and most of them, such as Ororo and Kurt don’t get to do more than look cool. Rachel, at least, must face her trauma about the future where she came from and Jean fights her scenario’s Goblin Queen.

This was lots of cheesy fun for me.

Collects X-Men Blue issues 7-12.

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Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Cory Smith, Joey Vazquez, Thony Silas, Giovanni Valetta, Douglas Franchin

This collection is divided to two stories. The first three issues are a Secret Empire crossover which left me quite puzzled because I haven’t read it. Apparently Cap is now Nazi (just no, Marvel) and he helped Hydra get control of US (again, just no) and California is controlled by a cabal of evil mutants: Emma Frost (I’m so pleased to see Emma where she belongs, as a hardcore villain), Sebastian Shaw, the Beast (??), and… Xorn?? I thought Xorn was Magneto or his clone or something?? Anyway, these morons have created a paradise on Earth for mutants… except that they have concentration camps for any dissenters. And the original, teenaged X-Men are the only ones fighting this??? Really, after Genosha??

While the actual setting is pretty interesting as an alternate history or timetravel plot or something, I can’t accept that many of our heroes are just going along with this regime. And Magneto making a deal of no interferance with Nazis who have concentration camps?? Just. No.

Our intrepid heroes are also in a very different place. A new side character has popped up and their HQ is now a bunker in a forest. The X-Men attack one of the concentration camps and break out the prisoners. They return to their bunker but (of course) the villains track them. Emma’s foot soldiers attack. They’re a mix of villans and heroes. I just can’t ever swallow that heroes like Wolfsbane and Firestar are voluntarily working for this regime. Some of them also have some pretty strange ”secondary mutations”.

Jean and Jimmy Hudson are left for dead and the rest of the team are captured. Of course, Jean and Jimmy must rescue the others. We also get to know Blackbird’s secret.

After the Secret Empire is over, everything returns to normal like it never happened. (Maybe it didn’t? Was it an alternate universe? I guess I should read it anyway) Jean and Scott share now a permanent rapport. They’re teenagers and can hear each others’ thoughts. Super awkward. They’re trying to cope with it. Meanwhile, Hank’s dabbling with magic comes with a cost (as it always does). The person who is teaching Hank magic,convinces him to help them with a summoning. Of course, Hank and the person summon X-Men from various other dimensions and they attack our current X-Men.

I rather enjoyed the Hex-Men. We even got to know them a little. Poor Colossus has lost his Illyana. Poor Kurt has been changed to a nightmarish demon. Poor Pixie was turned to a demon in a second Inferno. And Bloodstorm. Ororo Munroe as a vampire, from the Mutant X comic (which I throughly enjoyed so I’m thrilled to see her). The final issue was from Bloodstorm’s point-of-view which I enjoyed a lot.

Overall, this was pretty uneven collection. I enjoyed a few things but not everything. I think you should read the Secret Empire storyline before tackling this one. And the second story really requires the reader to enjoy alternate versions of the X-Men.

Collects X-Men Blue issues 1-6.

Writer: Cullen Bunn

Artists: Jorge Molina, Ray-Anthony Height, Julian Lopez, Cory Smith, Ramon Bachs

The original teenaged X-Men Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel and still adventuring in the current time. They’ve adapted to our modern times, at least for the most part. Hank is learning to use magic and Warren’s wings are now ”cosmic fire”. Jean has taken the role of the team leader. Scott adventured for a while in space with his dad, the Corsair, but is now back.

In the first issue, our heroes are rescuing people from a cruise ship because the Juggernaut and Black Tom are there. At the end of the issue, we’re revealed that the team’s new mentor is… Magneto.

In the second issue, the team tries to get grips with Magneto. The team, especially Scott, has lots of reservations about working with him. But Jean reads his mind and assures the others that he honestly wants to help humans and mutants live peacefully. At least for now. Then they head to Barcelona to battle Sentinels.

In the third issue, the X-Men hear that surprisingly, the Sentinels want to help mutants. Also, this group of Sentinels consider themselves… mutants. The X-Men agree to meet their leader who turns out to be a long time X-Men enemy who has their own reasons to reprogram Sentinels.

In the fourth issue, the teams heads to Colorado when Jean get very strange readings from the Cerebro. They confront Wendigo and Jimmy Hudson, Wolverine’s son from another timeline. And he’s not alone.

Next, our heroes and Jimmy fight alternate world Marauders, lead by Miss Sinister. She wants to take Jimmy back for some more experimenting but the X-Men disagree.

In the final issue, our heroes have returned to their secret base in Madripoor. Jean, Hank, and Jimmy head out for a night of fun during a big festival. After a few pages of relaxation, Jimmy notices something he recognizes. The shift to another dimension has wiped most of his memories so he’s determined to find out what the small vial is. Our three heroes bump in the middle of men peddling mutant growth hormones. But another group of heroes wants to stop the deals. And they’ll go through the X-Men to do it.

This collection brings the X-Men firmly back to the world of superheroing. Yes, there’s some angst about what they going to do with Magneto and Bobby can’t reach his girlfriend (boyfriend?) the whole time. Hank has started to learn magic and it seems to be corrupting him. But mostly there are fights. Entertaining enough, even though Bunn mostly rehashes old X-Men enemies.

I enjoy alternate worlds so the most interesting enemy for me were the Maraudes from another world.

Still, I don’t see how this team can be sent back to the past. All of them have grown and learned. Angel’s wings are different and Iceman knows more about his powers. Still, I think at some point they will just be mind-wiped and shoved back in time.

Collects Fantastic Four issues 6-11.

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Writer: Dan Slott

Artists: Aaron Kuder, John Lucas, Stefano Caselli, Paco Medina, David Marquez, Reilly Brown, Kevin Libranda

Publisher: Marvel

Right from Ben and Alicia’s wedding the FF hurry to Latveria because Doctor Doom has lured Galactus back to Earth. But Doom claims that he knows what he’s doing. He has a Herald of his own, Victorious, and a plan to imprison Galactus and siphon off his energy to benefit his people!

When Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny arrive, Doom accuses them of meddling. First, they must survive the confrontation with the Devourer of Worlds, then Doom imprison them to show everyone in the galaxy that he’s better than them. Of course, things don’t play out as Doom imagined.

Meanwhile, Valeria and Franklin are now teenagers. Reed and Sue told them to stay with Ben’s aunt Petunia, her husband, Alicia, and Wyatt Wingfoot. Val and Franklin are very frustrated and each in his or her own way tries to help their parents.

After the four part Doom story, we get a War of the Kings crossover. Val and Frank are having hard to fitting in and Ben realizes that they don’t know anyone. So, he organizes a Yancy street party where we’re introduced to a gaggle of supporting characters. Asgardian monsters crash the party.

In the final issue, the NY DMV goes after the kids for… driving extra-normal motor viechiles without licence. At the same time, weid things are happen all around New York.

This collection focus on the FF as superheroes rather than explorers and adventurers. Another focus are the kids and their inability to fit in. Franklin loses a bit of his powers every time he uses them and he’s unhappy that he’s going to be left out of all adventures after his powers are gone. Understandable, of course.

These are fun and light superhero stories and I enjoyed them. I’m hoping we’ll see more of Victorious, too. However, I love FF as explorers.

Collects issues 1-8, published in 1989.

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Writer and artist: John Byrne
Publisher: Marvel

In an effort to cut down stress from (yet another) lockdown, I’m reading my old favorite comics. She-Hulk is a fun character and I’ve always appreciated that she’s not a broody or angsty. Byrne is one of my favorite comics creators so their union was lots of fun. Of course, he wrote Jen in Fantastic Four before starting this comic. This is a very 80s comic with lots of explaining the panels which I think are very clear, anyway. While Jennifer doesn’t have a constant cleavage, like the Black Cat or the Black Widow, she does spend time in her underwear, although not in every issue. But she’s also strong and awesome

These are stand-alone issues with one weird two-parter and continuing subplots. Also, Jen knows that she’s in a comic book and she speaks directly to readers and to Byrne. This was the first time I read a comic like that, so it made a big impression. This is mostly a fun comic with lots of jokes and humor. While many of the characters are from other comics (meaning they weren’t created to be funny) Byrne throws in some off-the wall original characters, too. (Doctor Bong, I’m looking at you… and laughing.)

In the first issue, Jen is in a circus and is hypnotized by the Ringmaster. She tells us her origin story and we also get a subplot of one of the weirdest Marvel enemies ever, the Headmen.

In the second issue, the Toadmen attack New York and the Headmen kidnap Jen.

In the third issue, the Headmen control the She-Hulk’s headless body! And make it attack Spider-Man!

In the next issue, Jen gets a new job as assistant DA and meets her gorgeous new employer… only to find out that he’s happily married. The Stilt-Man is after her new employer, so Jen must stop him. She also gets a new sidekick, who used to be the Blonde Phantom when she was younger. Brilliant stuff about aging characters.

In the fifth issue, we meet Doctor Bong!

In the sixth and seventh issue, NASA’s new FTL rocket is stolen and Jen hitches a ride to the stars. This is apparently a follow up story to some other comic but it’s still entertaining and wacky. Briefly guest starring Mr. Fantastic.

In the final issue, Jen gets her first legal case, trying to find some solid evidence to put a serial killer behind the bars. We also meet possibly the world’s strangest PI… who knows who is naughty and nice.

This wasn’t as hysterically funny now as when I read them years ago. Sadly, She-Hulk wasn’t published in Finland and this is the only collection I got my hands on. But now, thanks to Marvel Unlimited I will continue reading and I finally find out just who is that mysterious bald man who wants to get Jen because she’s the only one strong enough to defeat his arch enemy. He’s called Mister L and he drives in a large limo.

I thoroughly enjoyed this walk down the memory lane. Younger readers would probably be less enchanted with this 80s style.

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