superheroes


Collects X-Men (2019) issue 1-6.

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Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Lenil Francis Yu

Publisher: Marvel

Publication year: 2020

This was an interesting start to the next stage of X-Men. Most mutants live in the island paradise of Krakoa where they are immortal and happy. Except that the rest of the world still views them with suspicion and that the most powerful and experienced mutants must protect the rest.

A case in point is the Orchis, made up of the remains of many villainous human organizations, such as Hydra, A.I.M., and even S.H.I.E.L.D. They have an orbiting base where they’re creating weapons against mutants. Storm, Magneto, Polaris, and Cyclops attack them. They free captured mutants but also one who is apparently ”posthuman”.

The issue starts with a bang and a fight. Later we get to see our heroes in a more relaxed setting. Summer House in on the Moon. The Summers clan live there: Scott, Havok, Jean, Rachel, Nathan… and Logan. Corsair and the Starjammers are visiting.

In the next issue, another island approaches Krakoa. Scott, Nathan, and Rachel investigate. We get a couple of nice moments between them, but mostly they fight the locals. However, Krakoa and the next island merge so now the paradise island has dangerous new places. The mutants’ Silent Council is introduced. In retrospect, Scott made grave tactical errors in this issue.

In the next issue, four mysterious figures invade the island. I rather enjoyed the new villains, the Hordeculture and their confrontation with Scott and Sebastian Shaw. On the other hand, the new villains made our mutants look like incompetent idiots.

Issue four centers on politics. Krakoa is a new nation but already so powerful that the human nations are afraid of it, and for a good reason. Still, Krakoa’s representatives are asked to join a summit between nations. Magneto, Professor X, and Apocalypse are the diplomats while Cyclops and Gorgon are security. Once again, humans appear friendly, but assault squads are ready. I loved how Magneto flat out told the humans that Krakoa is soon going to be the economic powerhouse of the world because of the awful way that humans treat each other and others.

The next issue shows us that having a paradise island isn’t without a cost. Cyclops and Logan send three mutants to investigate the Vault, a place where time flows differently. They’ve chosen three who are most likely to survive it: X-23, Darwin, and Synch. While Storm and Cyclops attack the Vault as a distraction, the three try to infiltrate it. If they succeed, they could be inside for hundreds of years form their perspective. If they don’t, they die.

The final issue continues the shadowy dealings, this time with Mystique who has infiltrated the Orchid and tries to sabotage them as best she can. She’s doing it to get back Destiny. While she made a deal with Xavier and Magneto, they have no intention of keeping the deal. This feels huge out of character for both of them. Of course, Mystique has her own plots.

This was a very interesting beginning, showing us both a paradise for most mutants and yet it has a clear dark side, as well. This clearly starts off long storylines. Issue five ends in a cliffhanger and nothing is really resolved.

I enjoyed seeing most of the characters relatively happy and I’m very intrigued to see that Logan lives with the Summers clan.

The mutants have a lot of things going for them: five mutants who can resurrect apparently any mutant, Krakoa’s flowers which can create instant gateways between Krakoa and any place, medicines and healers, relatively safe place to heal and live. To balance it out, they also have a lot of enemies, including some nations.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 18-21, Annual #1, and Batman/Superman #8-9.

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Writers: Paul Levits, Greg Pak

Artists: R. B. Silva, Scott McDaniel, Diogenes Neves, Jae Lee

This was a pretty good collection, although issue 18, the first one, was the last issue in the previous collection. Karen’s powers are out of control. She and Hel fight a new threat, a girl whose tattoos come to life.

Next is my favorite story in the collection: the adventures of Robin and Supergirl. This is set on Earth-2 where Helena is Robin and fights alongside her dad, Batman. Karen is still in hiding because her cousin Superman wants to keep her a secret weapon against Darkseid’s forces. But both girls long to be more independent, so they set out on their own.

Next starts the First Contact crossover, where the Huntress and the Power Girl finally meet Batman and Superman. Karen’s unstable powers worry Helena more and more. She finally asks for help from this world’s Batman. He’s younger than her dad and while they have similarities, they also have differences. Helena breaks into the Batcave. Bruce doesn’t want to believe her claims, but his instincts tell him that she’s telling the truth. So, he and Hel fly (on a Batplane) to see Karen, whose powers are making her a danger to everyone around her. She’s so much out of control that Superman must intervene.

However, whatever is affecting Karen infects Clark, too. Bruce must take him out with kryptonite. Then Hel and Bruce start tracing the nanobits that are affecting the Kryptonians. The team-up is pretty interesting. Hel and Karen can’t help but to compare the men they know to this world’s doubles. Clark and Bruce are younger than their counterparts. Bruce doesn’t trust anyone and not even his own instincts. He wants logic to back up his hunches. Clark doesn’t really trust Hel and Karen, but he still does his best to help Karen. While the story is fight-heavy (since it’s a superhero comic…) we get some very interesting character interaction and even growth. This was a good ending to the Karen’s powers are unstable plotline. Unfortunately, I’ve already read Batman/Superman vol. 2 Game Over where the story is also printed.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 6-12.

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Writer: Paul Levitz

Artists: Kevin Macguire, George Perez, Cafu, Cliff Richards, Yildiray Cinar, Ken Lashely, Barry Kitson, Geraldo Borges, Robson Rocha

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2013

The series that portrays best friends Helena Wayne, the Huntress, and Karen Starr, the Power Girl, continues! They’re from Earth 2 which was devastated by Darkseid’s forces and now they’re looking for a way back. This collection has shorter stories, each two issues, which seem at first disconnected from each other. Also, the final issues concentrate on the disappearence of Michael Holt which happened in the Mr. Terrific’s comic. I didn’t even know Power Girl and Mr. Terrific were dating.

In the first issue, Helena has broken into Wayne Industries to ”borrow” money for her next identity, but she’s ambushed by the new Robin, Damien. They battle, of course. Meanwhile, Karen is in space putting something on Morgan Edge’s satellite. When Helena is in trouble with Damien, Karen interferes and Damien finally listens. It seems that someone is stealing millions every week from Wayne industries. Damien and the women agree to track down the perp.

The next issue is the team-up. Robin and the Huntress go north and battle wolves while tracking down a lead, while the Power Girl goes to Mali where she’s confronted by children who have apparently energy weapons from Apokolips.

In the next issue, assassins are after Helena. It seems that Ibn Hassan (whom I haven’t heard of before) put a large prize on her head. She’s shot and beaten so she’s confined to bed. While Karen hunts down the man who is responsible for the prize, Helena reminiscences about her life on Earth 2 when Batman and Catwoman, her parents, trained her.

Next, a group of mercenaries invades Starr Island, Karen’s home. Wounded Helena defends Karen’s staff against them.

Karen and Hel find out that Michael Holt is behind the assault on Karen’s home. But he disappeared a while ago, after he and Karen split up. Helena looks for clues in Holt Industries. But when someone systematically attacks Karen’s labs, she and Hel go on the offensive. Finally, the villain behind their troubles is revelaed.

This wasn’t as good as the first volume, but I still mostly enjoyed it and I’m eager to read the next one. I again enjoyed the friendship between Helena and Karen. Their personalities are quite different. Hel has been taught how to stay invisible, while Karen enjoys the spotlight, playing her role as a billionaire industrialist. Hel is cool under fire while Karen is brash. However, I dislike Damien and the stories were a bit too disjointed. Also, I found it strange that I’ve never heard of Ibn Hassan or Karen dating Mr. Terrific so those storylines left me cold. The last story ends in a cliffhanger.

However, the complex relationship between Hel and Damien was done well. Neither has ever had a sibling. Yet, they grew to sort of care about each other. I also really enjoyed the glimpses of Hel’s parents and her life with them.

I liked most of the artwork. Perez’s work is as gorgeous as ever but Macguire did most of the work. His more rounded style works well for the Power Girl. However, the fill-in artists’ styles were very different from them which was a little distracting.

Collects Green Lanterns issues 1-6.

Writer: Sam Humphries

Artists: Ethan van Sciver, Ed Benes, Robson Rocha, Jay Leinstein, Tom Derenick, Jack Herbert, Neil Edwards, Eduardo Pansica, Will Conrad

Publisher: DC

This is the Rebirth Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. They’re both very new to GLs and struggling with both their new powers and duties. Jessica is pretty open that she doesn’t think she’s worth the ring. She has an anxiety disorder and didn’t leave her home for years. She also feels guilty, because her friends died (murdered in some other comic I think) and she ran away and lived. Simon also feels guilty about causing a car accident that left his sister’s husband in a coma for years. His sister doesn’t blame Simon, though. Simon has little experience with the ring but Jessica has none and she can’t even form objects with it. He thinks that she’s a screw-up and she simply doesn’t like him.

In the first issue, we get a little glimpse of their lives and personalities before the ring calls them to action. Hal appears to inform that he’s leaving Earth and they must work as partners. He also claims that the JLA will train the duo. Unfortunately, the training didn’t happen.

Next, our heroes are thrust to action trying to round up aliens. When they find instead a lair of a serial killer, the people in the town are justifiably angry. But their anger grows to unnatural rage. That’s the effect of Rew Dawn, the big threat in this volume. Jess and Simon must find out the source of the rage and put a stop to it.

Both GLs are rookies just learning to use their rings. Simon knows more about it than Jess, though. Both also have very strong inner demons to wrestle with. It was interesting to see a superhero with an anxiety disorder but I’m don’t know if it was handled well. At one point Jess was almost paralyzed with fear but then she just talked herself out of it, which a bit seemed strange. The way that the woman was the anxiety and fear-driven wreck and also a total rookie and the man is an overconfident hotshot who teaches the woman how her own ring works is… well, it’s nothing new. The characters are fine but surprisingly old school. I rather liked their supporting cast. Jessica’s sister is supportive. Simon’s sister’s family supports him.

I’ve only seen these characters in the Rebirth JLA but they seemed to be created before Rebirth, because both have lots of history which are only briefly explored in this volume. I’m also not familiar with the Red Dawn duo of Bleez and Atrocitus. We get Bleez’s tragic backstory which was nice.

The art team is very variable. But their styles work together enough that the changing artists didn’t really bother me.

I feel that this comic was done for long-time GL readers rather than someone new. But I still mostly enjoyed it. Both characters must struggle with their inner demons while they battle very powerful enemies and try to work together.

Collects Age of X-Man: X-Tremists issues 1-5.

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Writer: Leah Williams

Artist: Georges Jeanty

Nate Grey created a utopia for mutants, an alternate reality where everyone is a mutant. The biggest threats in this world are intimate relationships. Love, both romantic and familial, is forbidden. Of course, people still have these dangerous feelings so Nate needs Department X to remove them. Psylocke, Iceman, Northstar, Blob, Jubilee, and Moneta are Department X. Bobby is his old self, joking as much as he can. Jean-Paul is trying to ignore Bobby as much as possible and is more interested in books than working. Betsy carries the heavy load of altering mutants’ memories “for their own good”. Blob is the team leader, but he has feelings of his own toward one of the team members. Jubilee believes in the cause and works her best. Moneta is a new character. She hates anyone who has feelings of love and calls them retrograde.

The team gets a tip about two lovers and heads out to arrest them. Psylocke is supposed to remove their memories of each other. But they find out that the woman, Nezumi, is pregnant. Children are cooked up artificially and no hospital can help in a delivery. What will Department X do? Also, we readers find out more about secrets behind how this society is held together.

Williams explores what the world would be like without intimacy on both societal and a more personal level. How the people must constantly guard against their own feelings and hide them from others. And ultimately how that’s going to fail. However, creating a new character to be the prejudiced idiot felt a bit of a cop out, but of course making an established character into one would alienate the fans of that character. Blob had surprising depth. I rather enjoyed the relationship between Blob and his crush, but I don’t see them getting together in the real world. Too bad we’re not going to see any repercussions of this series in the real world. None of these characters are my favorites but they were an interesting mix, especially as I don’t see any of them joining a secret police force for real.

Collects Age of X-Man Alpha, Age Of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men 1-5, Age of X-Man Omega.

Writers: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler

Artists: Ramon Rosanas, Marco Failla, Simone Buonfantino

The Alpha comic starts the new reality of the Age of X-Man storyline. When the X-Men seemingly died at the end of X-Men Disassembled, Nate Gray created another reality where he moved most of our merry mutants. Nate tried to create a paradise: a world where everyone was a mutant. But of course, something needs to be off. This time, Nate created a world where mutants have evolved beyond the base desires of love, family, and sex. People aren’t allowed to have relationships, no matter if they’re romantic or familial. Children are created in birthing chambers and raised in creches. They don’t know their parents or possible siblings. Trying to suppress such a basic human need isn’t easy. In the Alpha comic, we already find out that in order to create his utopia, Nate altered the memories of everyone. He also has Department X which arrests the ”criminals” and changes their memories even more, or if they ”infringe” several times, they’re taken away to prison. In the Alpha comic Jean and Bishop start a relationship and Bishop is arrested and dragged away. The rest of the team doesn’t even remember him anymore.

The Marvelous X-Men are Jean Grey, Storm, Magneto, Colossus, X-23, Nature Girl, and Nightcrawler. In this now peaceful world, they only fight against natural disasters. But when En Sabah Nur and his minion Kitty Pryde start to preach for love, the X-Men must take a stand. But is it against them or with them?

This was an interesting alternate world but of course, we all know that it can’t last. I had problems with a few of the ideas, such as Apocalypse as the messenger of love, but most of them were explained in the Omega comic. I didn’t really buy some of the romantic pairings the comics had, such as Bishop and Jean but of course the writers had to play with characters they were given.

I really enjoy seeing alternate versions of familiar characters and it was fun seeing Magneto, Storm, and Jean trying to get to the bottom of this new reality. The Alpha comic leads into all of the six new limited series and the Omega ties up all the storylines from the six series.

Collects Superwoman issues 1-7 (Rebirth).

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Writer: Phil Jimenez

Artists: Phil Jimenez, Emanuela Lupacchino, Jack Herbert, Joe Prado, Matt Santorell, Ray McCarthy

When the original Superman of this timeline died exploding, Lana Lang and Lois Lane were near him. The women got powers from the explosion. Lois got powers similar to Superman and Lana got electricity powers. Lois wants to be Superwoman, to continued Clark’s work but Lana doesn’t.

However, Lois convinces Lana to train her. Then Lois starts her career as Superwoman.

Lex Luthor is Metropolis’ new Superman. He uses an armored suit and he has built a huge battleship called the Gestalt to battle (other) supervillains. But when he unveils it to the people in Metropolis bay, someone takes over it. Both Lois and Lana are needed to try to prevent the mysterious person from taking over Gestalt and perhaps the whole world.

I really liked the dynamic between Lois and Lana. They aren’t friends, they don’t even like each other, but they’ve lost Clark. Lois wants to protect the world to keep up his legacy. Lana doesn’t want to do any superhero stuff but she agrees to train Lois. In the end, Lana does take up the mantle of Superwoman and help Lois. I was really interested in seeing what happens between them. That’s why I was very disappointed with the end of the first issue, hoping it wouldn’t be true.

So instead of the (more interesting?) storyline I was expecting we got a story about how Lana’s powers are killing her and she must overcome her fear to function. After Clark’s death, she started having panic attacks and she’s afraid that everyone she loves will die. She’s an engineer but is now a science reporter. However, that wasn’t really relevant to the story. She’s in a relationship with Steel, John Henry Irons. She clearly loves him but she’s also afraid that he will die and she’s trying to push him to the side to protect him. Or her own feelings.

I really enjoyed Lana’s supporting cast of Steel and his genius inventor niece Natasha. I also rather enjoyed the ghost. Traci 13 seemed interesting but I don’t know her. Maggie Sawyer appears as the Captain of Metropolis’ Special Crimes Unit. Lex’s newfound obsession with becoming a superhero was interesting.

The storyline jumps some days or weeks forward at one point. I think that could have been clearer. Also, at some point, Lana was telling us (in recap boxed) about things she couldn’t know, which was really strange. Also, it ends in a cliffhanger.

Most of the art is done by Jimenez and I love it. The fill-in artists weren’t too different, either.

While I didn’t like everything about the comic, I enjoyed it.

Collects Uncanny X-Men (2018) 17-22.

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Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artists: Salvador Larroca, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Villa

Publisher: Marvel

This is the culmination of six months of comics for the mutants who aren’t in the Age of X-Man alternate world. Cyclops and his team face increasingly desperate times. Also, one mutant is working without their knowledge and yet using them are puppets. The team is Cyclops, Wolverine, Mirage, Magick, Havoc, Karma, Chamber, Multiple Man, Hope Summers, Banshee, and Juggernaut. However, Karma leaves the team and so does Wolverine. The team has decided to use Dark Beast as their scientist. Not everyone is comfortable with that decision.

This is a very dark comic. All of the characters are struggling with the deaths of their teammates, friends, and lovers. Cyclops suggested that they would take care of their deadliest enemies before the X-Men themselves are killed. The team agrees on that mission but not much else. They fight and bicker amongst themselves while talking about issues such as leadership and trust.

Also, the US government wants to get rid of mutants and so they’re issuing vaccinations for children. The vaccine will stop mutations. The whole next generation of mutants is in dire danger.

This is meant to be the end of the X-Men, with the characters making a fateful decision very near the end. Of course, Hickman’s new run changes, not just the teams, but the mutants’ place in the Marvel universe. If the X-Men had ended here permanently, I probably wouldn’t have been satisfied for the simple reason that there are so many mutants and they all didn’t get their ending. That would have taken several issues, of course. So as it is, this was a fine ending to the series, for now.

Collects The Brave And The Bold: Batman And Wonder Woman issues 1-6.

Writer: Liam Sharpe

Artist: Liam Sharpe

Bruce and Diana must find out who killed King Elthe of the Formors.

Diana is taking a deserved vacation with Steve Trevor. They’re in bed when the old Celtic god Lord Cernunnos appears through a magical portal. He wants Diana to negotiate peace between two warring factions of old gods: the demonic-looking Fomorians and the more human-seeming De Dannan. They have hidden away from humans in Tir Na Nog for hundreds of years. But they’ve become restless and the home has become a prison for them. They are old enemies and now they’ve started fighting again. Cernunnos is the only one who can leave Tir Na Nog. Diana agrees to help.

Meanwhile, something strange is going on in the Irish Quarter of Gotham City. The people there seem lethargic and haunted. Batman of course investigates and strange dreams or spirits haunt him, too.

The third plot thread is around an old homeless Irish man who has lost everything pursuing old Irish legends.

When Cernunnos takes Diana to Tir Na Nog, they find out that king Elatha is dead, murdered. Elatha is the king of the Fomors although he looks like a human. Both his people and the De Dannan loved and respected him. Elatha’s right-hand man captain Furf blames the boy who found the king. However, Diana manages to stop the lynching of the boy and calls for a proper investigation. Only Batman can find out the culprit.

This was a fun read and I enjoyed it a lot. The art is gorgeous with lots of little details and full-page panels.

The story has a narrator who constantly refers to bad things happening in the future, but we don’t find out who that is until the end. Sharpe draws from the Irish myths and it really shows here. On the other hand, the new characters leave Bruce and Diana in their shadow, which clearly displeased many readers. The story also starts slowly with Cernunnos explaining the history of the two factions to Diana. Also, the ending was very open, begging for continuation.

The two warring factions are quick to take offense and use any excuse to fight. Diana must continually play peace-maker between them which was nice. Bruce insists that magic is just science they don’t know yet, which is very much in character for him.

Collects miniseries Marvel 1602: The New World 1-5 and Marvel 1602: The Fantastick Four 1-5.

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Writers: Greg Pak, Peter David

Artists: Greg Tocchini, Pascal Alixe

The first miniseries follows the adventures of Bruce David Banner and Peter Parquagh in the Roanoke colony in the New World. Banner was the right-hand man of the murderous King James of Scotland and England. James sent Banner to the New World to murder Nicholas Fury, but when Fury disappeared, Banner changed to a monster, the Hulk.

The local newspaperman, Jonah Jameson, has hired Peter. Peter also became friends with Virginia Dare, the daughter of Roanoke’s governor. She can change to various white animals, but she can’t control the change nor what she does in animal form. Peter has his own secret as well. When a pack of dinosaurs is trampling the settlement, he uses his powers to save people and the Hulk does the same.

However, King James is growing impatient with no news from the Roanoke and he sends the Iron Lord and his faithful servant Rhodes to the colony with a group of soldiers. When they come to the shore, they arrest the governor for treason. Of course, Peter and Virginia must help her father. Meanwhile, Banner flees to the wilderness and wonders if he has any reason to survive. And greedy Norman Osborn wants to kill all the Indians on the island. Lots of plotlines and lots of characters.

The second story centers on Fantastick Four and their struggle against Otto von Doom. Otto was called the Handsome, but he was hideously scarred in the main series. He wants a way to cure his scars. When he hears about a city beyond the edge of the world, he thinks has found it. He kidnaps William Shakespeare to document the voyage – and his triumph of the FF. The FF follow Shakespeare in Ben’s ship. But Johnny has kidnapped a woman he’s fallen in love with, Doris Evans on the eve of her wedding. Doris isn’t happy about it but the FF can’t turn back.

Otto has allied himself with the Four who are Frightful: Medusa, the Wizard, the Sandman, and the Trapster. Trapster seems to be the only one without powers.

The FF follow Otto’s flying ship and they meet in the middle of the sea. Of course, they fight and attract the attention of a couple of other familiar characters.

This was a fun read, especially if you liked the main 1602 comic. The New World deals with colonialism and Banner wrestles with the terrible things he has done for the king. It has so much story that the end feels a bit rushed. A couple of more issues would have fleshed out the conflicts and the side characters a bit more.

In the FF comic, David touches on the collision of scientific and religious worldviews. Sadly, I didn’t really care for how that ended. Will Shakespeare was added for some comic relief; other people said some of his most famous lines. Sue is invisible for most of the comic, but she’s pregnant and for some reason the fetus is visible, which looks really strange.

I think the FF are more, er, archetypal than usual: John is a drunkard womanizer, Sue is a bickering girlfriend, Reed is so focused on science that he doesn’t understand people around him, and Ben… is a gruff sea captain. However, the plotline partly rehashes one of the oldest storylines in FF.

It was fun to see the different versions of the characters I know, and I enjoyed the collection more than I expected.

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