superheroes


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.

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 Batman/Superman issues 16-20, Batman/Superman Annual 2, and Batman/Superman: Future’s End 1.

Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Adrian Syaf, Tom Derenick, Tyler Kirkham, Ian Churchill, Emanuela Lupacchino, Cliff Richards, Jack Herbert, Vicente Cifuentes

Publisher: DC

Publishing year: 2015

The main storyline takes up most of the collection. Someone shoots Supergirl, Steele, and Krypto without a trace. Even Superman can’t see who did it. Worse, an innocent man wearing a Superman costume is killed. Then people Superman has saved in the past are killed. Clark must find out who is doing this. Bruce thinks it’s “Superman’s Joker”: a psychopath with an obsession with Superman. Bruce and Clark must find out who is behind it, and quickly.

This was quite an entertaining mystery and adventure story. I’m not a huge fan of psychopath villains, but this time it worked. I didn’t see where the story was going and enjoyed it. It was personal for Clark to begin with and became even more personal. I also really enjoyed Lois and Bruce working together, even if briefly.

In the annual, the previous story’s mastermind can influence the minds of others. He sends a compulsion to some of Batman’s enemies to kill Clark Kent.

Meanwhile, Clark is in Bahamas investigating the damage that Doomsday did to the local ecology and people. As a reporter. Bruce is trying to convince him to switch to Superman’s outfit. When Clark arrives, something triggers an explosion, and he decides to use his new “solar flare” ability, which allows him to clean up the explosion safely, but leaves him powerless for 24 hours. He falls to Earth near town. Locals are raiding the buildings for food and medicine. Clark tries to convince them that he’s there to help, when ManBats attack.

In this story, Clark must fight and run from enemies because he’s powerless. He still wants to help and defend the local people. The story shows his personality well. When Batman shows up, he’s convinced that without his powers, Clark can’t make it. The story has a couple of nice scenes between Bruce and Clark.

The final issue is set five years in the future. Apparently, JLA has fought off an invasion from space. During it, Bruce forced Clark to do something so terrible that Clark faked his own death and abandoned Earth and his friends. Bruce is trying to fight Clark’s enemies in power armor and waiting for Clark to return. A really dark and pessimistic story, which was very different from the others.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this collection, except for the last story.

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