superheroes


Collects Captain Marvel issues 1-6 (2014).

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: David Lopez

Carol is looking for her own place in the world – so she goes to space. In the first issue we get a glimpse of her supporting characters from her previous run, but she leaves all of them behind. Well, except her cat Chewie which she takes with her. I’m not sure I agree with her choice, in fact it seems pretty strange one and was mostly like done at Marvel at editorial level. But I really like the space adventures she gets into.

An alien girl lands on Earth in a rocket and Carol essentially saves her. Now Carol must take the girl, Tic, back. But Tic doesn’t have a home wold anymore because it was destroyed by Builders (in the 2013 Infinity event). Her race, the Nowlians, were given a planet but for some time now many of them are getting sick. Apparently, the planet is killing them. The Galactic Council wants to relocate the Nowlians but they don’t want to leave again. The girl Tic wants to bring back a hero to rescue her people.

Carol is thrust to a complex situation. She tries diplomacy and helping the Nowlians any way she can. This being a superhero comic, the situation does have a simple solution, though. Along the way, Carol makes some new friends and a pretty powerful enemy, too.

I enjoyed the comic a lot, even though I didn’t care for Carol’s reasons for leaving Earth. This is also a good place to start reading Captain Marvel.

Collects Avengers 1-6 (2018). Part of Marvel’s Fresh Start relaunch.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jay Leisten, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco

At least in mainstream superhero comics the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is true. And so it is also with the newest Avengers relaunch.

Steve is young again and Cap. Tony is out of his coma and Iron Man again. Thor is… almost back to his old self but without Mjolnir. He does have another hammer, though. They get together in a bar. Steve wants them to reform the Avengers but Tony is against it. However, when dead Celestials (space gods) start falling out of the sky, Tony puts his differences with Steve aside.

Meanwhile, the Black Panther and Doctor Strange are going to the Earth’s core… to find giant insects which have been down there for millions of years but they’re not starting to wake up. They also find symbols, pictures thousands of years old, of people who look like the Avengers.

Jennifer Walters is having trouble controlling her Hulk-side. The Ghost Rider is acting up and his host Robbie is concerned. Captain Marvel and the Alpha Flight station are trying to contain the threat from space but it looks like it’s too much for them.

Finally, we have Odin who tells us the story when he and his buddies got together a million years ago to make a final stand against one Celestial. His group back then looked very familiar and I’d like to read more of them. Except that they’re humans. Who didn’t exist back then.

Basically, it’s a decent end-of-the-world plot that brings a group of bickering superbeings together. I don’t really understand why Ghost Rider had to be here, though. I also didn’t care for the change in Jennifer. I really hope Aaron resolves her issues; she’s clearly here as a substitute Hulk and not as herself. Also, Carol acted really strange. Maybe she has some guilt issues, but she shouldn’t take them out on her (future) teammates. Loki (or rather some other being who looks like Loki) is teaming up with the Celestials against humanity. (After reading Loki Agent of Asgard… this isn’t the same person. Clearly, it’s an evil twin from an alternative reality.)

For some reason, the team doesn’t gel together for me at all. They don’t feel like family, in fact they don’t even like each other.

Interestingly, this story changes the origin of the superbeings on Earth. We’ve known for a long time that Celestials messed with humans back in the dawn of humanity which created the Eternals and Inhumans. Apparently this was true only from a certain point of view. Or it depends on who you believe. Personally, I also find it fascinating that this story also changes people from “created” beings (by cosmic beings but still) to “accidents” or even “unwanted accidents”. That’s a pretty interesting shift for the Marvel universe.

Also, Eternals are now dead?? I thought their movie is soon coming out?? Seems like a very strange move… unless they’re returned to life at some later date. Maybe a whole story arc about bringing them back?

This was a rocky start for the relaunch. I hope Aaron finds his feet with the team.

The first book in the Stan Lee’s Alliances superhero series.

Publication year: 2019
Format: Audio
Running time:11 hours 47 minutes
Narrator: Yara Shahidi

Nia is the loneliest girl in the world. She lives with her father in the middle of nowhere. Her father is the only person she’s ever seen. He schools her in a room where holograms can create anything. Nia wants to go out, to meet other people, and see other places. But he insists that the world outside is too dangerous and keeps her inside all the time. However, he allows her to have an internet connection and she has lots of internet friends on her social media accounts. But she doesn’t feel any real connection with them. So, she plans to escape.

Cameron Ackerson wants to be a YouTube star but his account has only 16 followers. So, he’s taking his boat right into the heart of a storm. But inside the storm, a lighting hits him. He survives and in the hospital he realizes that he has strange powers: he can connect with any computer without touching it.

Now, he’s famous as the lighting bolt survivor. He can also beat any game without really trying. But one day, he meets Nia, a girl who is just as good with computers as he is. Nia captivates him and he wants to spend more and more time with her.

Cameron’s father was a software engineer but he vanished years ago.

Juaquo is Cameron’s best friend. His mom died recently and he hasn’t been the same. When Cameron’s dad disappeared, Juaquo was there for Cameron, but Cameron hasn’t been able to do that same to Juaquo. Cameron feels guilty about it.

The story is told through multiple POV characters, mostly Nia and Cameron but also others. It’s told in present tense. The last third is much more action packed than the rest of the story.

I’m a Marvel fan so I was eager to get my hands on Stan Lee’s last creation. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. However, it was mostly an entertaining adventure but people who like YA romance would probably like it more.

This is a story of loneliness and trying to connect with others. It’s also about how internet supposedly brings us together but also divides us. The main characters are teenagers who are having their first crush and that takes over about half of the book. The bad guys include a mysterious government organization and an alien from another planet who takes over a human body.

I really enjoyed the narration. It fit the story very well. The audiobook has also music in the beginning of chapters and also to highlight the more dramatic moments.

14 short stories about Batman. They don’t follow any continuity and some are clearly in different worlds than any other stories in the collection.

Publisher: Bantam
Publishing year: 1989
Format: print
Page count: 401

This is a mixed bag of stories. The mood changes from horror to comedy, most being rather dark. Most of them have multiple POV character, one is Alfred’s diary, and one told in memos.

“Death of the Dreammaster” by Robert Sheckley: This story starts with the death of Joker. In this world, most of Batman’s allies are also dead: Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman. Not surprisingly, Bruce is somewhat depressed. Then he sees Joker’s green hair and white face on the street. He must find out what’s going on.

“Bats” by Henry Slesar: Robin is dead and Batman has apparently gone insane. Faithful Alfred is so shocked that he pours out his emotions to a diary.

“Subway Jack” by Joe R. Lansdale: This story has lots of horror elements and is somewhat choppy. Someone is killing homeless women on the subway. Batman and Gordon investigate. The writing style is somewhat gothic, with diary entries in the middle of usual prose. A couple of times Landsdale also adds descriptions of comic panels. They’re very evocative but jarred me out of reading.

“The Sound of One Hand Clapping” by Max Allan Collins: From horror to comedy, Joker is distressed because he doesn’t have a woman in his life. Then on TV he sees a female criminal calling herself the Mime and convinces himself that he’s madly in love.

“Neutral Ground” by Mike Resnick: Just five pages told from the POV of old man Kittlemeier who makes costumes to various people. He asks no names and doesn’t care what the people do with them.

“Batman in Nighttown” by Karen Haber and Robert Silverberg: In this story, Bruce is holding a masquerade party on New Year. His costume is a devil but someone else has come as Batman… and that person robs Bruce’s guests. Bruce doesn’t have time to change to his costume before driving after the “Batman”.

“The Batman Memos” by Stuart M. Kaminsky: This story is told with various memos and letters. A Hollywood exec wants to make a Batman movie and is looking into the legal and other aspects. Wayne represents Batman and comes to Hollywood. In the memos, we find out that one of the actresses goes missing.

“Wise Men of Gotham” by Edward Wellen: The Riddler is threatening wealthy men whom he calls the Wise Men of Gotham. Batman must figure out the riddles and rescue the men.

“Northwestward” (Black Widowers #61) by Isaac Asimov: A group of men calling themselves Black Widowers interview real-life Bruce Wayne on whom the fictional Batman was based on. This Wayne is over seventy years old but his minds is still sharp. He has a mystery for the group.

“Daddy’s Girl” by William F. Nolan: A Robin story. Batman is in Washington and Robin is trying to catch a cat burglar. Instead, he falls through a skylight and meets a very strange and naive girl who has never left her father’s house.

“Command Performance” by Howard Goldsmith: Another Robin/Dick Grayson story. Carol is a runaway and Dick’s classmate. When she ends up on the police station after she’s tried to substitute a cheap imitation jewelry to a very expensive real one, Dick starts to look into her story of the Man who forces teens to steal. In this story, Dick’s a reporter for Gotham High School’s Clarion.

“The Pirate Millionaire’s Cove” by Edward D. Hoch: A man dressed like a pirate kills a millionaire on his yacht. Bruce decides to go undercover in the Yacht club to find out who is responsible.

“The Origin of the Polarizer” by George Alec Effinger: Waters is a genius but he’s forced to work at a lowly job shipping electronics parts. However, he realizes that one Gotham City resident orders a lot of such parts and deduces that Bruce Wayne is Batman. In a (il)logical move, Waters sabotages Wayne’s next shipment and becomes a super villain, the Polarizer. He’s determined to outwit Batman. Meanwhile Batman and Robin are building their new computer with vacuum tubes and punch cards. They’re marveling how much more effective the BATIVAC will be. The story is set in 1957.

“Idol” by Ed Gorman: The strangest story in this collection, told from the POV of a psychopath who is obsessed with another man whom he sees as an impostor.

I liked most of the stories but I don’t think any of them are particularly memorable. Still, they showcase how versatile Batman is: from horror to comedy and comic book like stories. It even has two rather realistic stories. The cast of secondary characters also differs wildly: one has Vicky Vale, in another Bruce is dating wealthy socialite Vera St. Clair, two features Robin while in two Robin is dead. Commissioner Gordon is the only other character, besides Batman himself, who is pretty much the same in the stories he appears. I was a bit surprised that the only major villain making a significant appearance here is the Riddler. Joker is on a couple of pages in the first story.

Collects issues 1-6 of the miniseries.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti

This was a fun series set in Conan’s Hyborian Age. We get glimpses of Conan’s childhood when he meets a mysterious little girl called Yanna when they’re both very young. Eventually, Conan falls for Yanna.

In the main story, adult Conan rescues gambler Kian from torture and death. Kian promises Conan a fortune because Kian has bet against the local gladiator pit’s champion. Conan takes the gambler to that town and sees that the champion in question is a woman. Must to his surprise, he thinks that she’s his long lost Yanna. When she wins the fight, Conan tries to free her but is surprised and soon also in chains. They’re both now owned by the gladiator master. At the same time, a couple of mysterious crows are stalking our heroes.

The champion has lost her memory and doesn’t know who she is. She’s also lost most of her powers because ordinary chains can hold her.

This was a good cross-over comic. It centers on Conan and paints him as more chivalrous figure than I remember. It has plenty of action and even a couple of moral choices. We aren’t explained just how Diana is sent to Conan’s world but that’s not the point, either.

I rather liked the art which isn’t too cheesecakey.- In the beginning of the tale, Diana is wearing just rags but the blood stains on them look very similar to the symbols she usually wears which was a nice touch.

Collects Spider-Girl issues 0, 1-5 (1998).

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Ron Frenz, Bill Sienkiewiz, Pat Oliffe, Al Williamson

Spider-Girl is set in an alternate future where Peter and Mary Jane had a girl, May, who is also called Mayday. She’s a star basketball player and aces every subject in high school. She’s both a science nerd and a star athlete. She’s got friends in both groups, which, of course, brings trouble for her.

In issue 0, May’s spider powers (enhanced strength and speed and spider-sense) kick in right in the middle of a basketball game. Peter and Mary Jane realize what happened but they haven’t told May about Peter’s career as Spider-Man. May overhears them talking about it. Then the Green Goblin reappears. He threatens May and tells her that her dad should meet him at the bridge or he’ll kill Peter’s family. While Peter tries (unsuccessfully) get help from the New Avengers, May forces MJ to admit that Peter was Spider-Man. May puts on the Spider-Man suit and heads out to rescue her dad.

The Green Goblin here isn’t Norman Osborn but Norman’s grandkid who blames Peter for killing his dad and granddad. He’s almost howling for revenge and is totally insane. May manages to outwit him. We also meet her supporting cast which includes nerds Jimmy Yama and Courtney Duran. Her best friend is Davida who can barely stand May’s nerdy friends. Her sporty friends are Brad Miller, whom May has a crush on, and Brad’s best friend “Moose” Mansfield who picks on Jimmy all the time.

However, at the end of issue 0, Peter, MJ, and May burn the Spider-Man costume and webslingers “in silent agreement”.

Of course, May can’t stop being a superhero. In the first issue, her dad is being stalked and she must interfere. She ends up putting on a black mask and a black, very formfitting “gym cloths” and heads out to beat bad guys. She ends up going toe to toe with a teleporting mobster called Mr. Nobody.

In the second issue, she fights an insane killer called Crazy Eight and realizes just how dangerous being a superhero can be. She also meets Darkdevil who tries to warn her off and later tries to trap her.

In the third issue May and her group of messy friends got to the FF museum’s new exhibition. A super villain attacks and May puts on her tights to save them and also meets the Fantastic Five. Their leader is John Storm and members include his wife and skrull Layla Storm, the original Thing, the Big Brain (Reed has lost his body and now lives in a flying robot), and Spi-Lord Franklin Richards. May has been keeping a low profile in the previous issues but this fight puts her right on the front page of Daily Bugle. Her dad is furious. In this future, Peter has lost one of his feet and that’s why he decided to stop being Spider-Man. He wants her to quit.

The fourth issue starts with him yelling at her. She leaves for school. Another fight breaks out between Jimmy and Moose, after which there’s an accident with a (presumably) mystical amulet transforms the janitor to the Dragon King who attacks the kids. Spider-Girl defends them. But back home, Peter is even more determined that she’ll stop being Spider-Girl.

The fifth issue against begins with a fight between May and Peter. May leaves for basketball practice. But she skips it and instead walks around. Meanwhile, the original Venom breaks out. Peter has gone out, intending to talk with May. Instead, Venom finds him and bonds with him. May must now fight Venom who has bonded with her dad!

This is a very 90s comic. For some reason DeFalco decided to write this in second person and he uses a lot of descriptive boxes, essentially telling the same things that we see. Also, the art is very typical of 90s Spider-Man comics, especially the 0 issue where the artist is Ron Frenz, whose Spider-Man comics I’ve read a lot. Whether you like this comic or not, depends a lot on if you like those features. Personally, I don’t mind them too much, as I’ve read a lot of these types of comics (except for the second person narration). However, I don’t really care for the strange mid-riff bearing fashion which is common to both teenagers in high school and their moms (at least MJ). Also, when May put on the “gym cloths” to do some superheroing, she also had a bare mid-riff which was really strange.

This is a good riff on the general Spider-Man motifs: high school with friends from there, secret identity which makes May miss important meetings (well, ok, just once in this collection. But it was recurring motif in Spider-Man), and goofy villains. Of course, there are differences: instead of Peter’s aunt May, Mayday has both Peter and MJ and their relationship seems to be good, at least until May starts keeping her superheroing a secret. Also, May herself isn’t bullied at school; it’s her friend who is bullied.

Peter works in the CSI department of the local police but there’s no mention of MJ’s career. May is a intelligent, witty, and very dependable. She has a great sense of responsibility, which is very appropriate. She even tries to use on her dad. 🙂 Even when she disagrees with her dad, she respects them and tries to keep them safe.

Overall, I rather enjoyed this comic. Too bad that this ended up being her only collection published in Finland. In fact, only two female Marvel superheroes have their own publications in Finland: Spider-Girl and Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew). Both were published only for one collection.

The second and final volume of the adventures of Rogue and Gambit. Collects issues 7-12.

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Oscar Bazaldua, Javier Pina

I enjoyed this collection a lot, perhaps not quite as much as the first one, but still a lot. Mojo can be a very good villain, when used well, so I was happy to see him. Rogue and Gambit are kidnapped by Mojo into the Mojoworld. They’re essentially brainwashed and put to various shows for viewers’ entertainment. But something goes wrong: every time Rogue’s powers malfunction and she kills Remy. Mojo sends Spiral to fix her.

The last two issues center of Gambit when he returns to New Orleans and to his guild. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole thief guild stuff but it was an ok ending to the series.

This was light and fun. I love the chemistry between Remy and Rogue. I loved the various Mojo world weirdness, seeing Remy and Rogue in different genre movies/ TV-shows, if only briefly. The whole things starts with HoneyMoonlighting, a riff on the old TV-show (which I liked a lot) and continues with a surprise guest appearance of a character I haven’t seen in a long time (and I’d love to see more). The story also gives Rogue a chance to “fix” her powers. I’m pretty sure some people will be unhappy with the fix. I’m OK with it and I’m hoping that it will stay this time.

Spiral also gets an interesting development and I’m intrigued to see where we’ll see her next. Rogue and Remy will next appear in the new Excalibur comic with a new (to me) writer. Here’s hoping they’ll do a good job.

Collects Cloak and Dagger maxiseries issues 1-11 (1985) and their part of Strange Tales issues 1 and 2.

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Rick Leonardi, Art Adams, Terry Shoemaker, Terry Austin, Mike Mignola, Bret Blevins, Marc Silvestri, June Brigman

Just like the first Cloak and Dagger collection, “Shadows and Light”, “Lost and found” is a perfect example of 1980s superhero comics. Compared to current comics, it’s very wordy. The pictures are explained and Mantlo also has lots of explanations about how Cloak feels. There are also some unfortunate stereotyping. But if you don’t mind that, it’s a very good read.

It starts right from the previous collection and has the same (small) cast of recurring characters. Cloak and Dagger break up a illicit porn shop. The police show up and the men who run the peep show, using mostly unwilling girls, tell detective Brigid O’Reilly that many of the cops in her precinct have been bribed. O’Reilly starts to look into it over several issues while tracking down a big drug shipment coming to New York. Also, father Delgado is increasingly obsessed with “saving” Dagger from Cloak.

Meanwhile, Dagger wants a normal life. When father Delgado tells Dagger that her mom and stepfather are in down, Dagger leaps to the chance to meeting them again. Unfortunately, she’s bitterly disappointed and becomes a bit disillusioned.

Issue seven takes our heroes out of America and to Europe where they’re tracking down the opium so that they can get to the source and shut it down. This takes them from Marseilles to Istanbul and takes the rest of the collection. They encounter various local gangsters and for a brief time Dagger even joins a circus and finds a little bit of happiness there.

On the long ship voyage to France they’re joined by another young stowaway, Bill Clayton. He’s enchanted by Dagger’s beauty and he tags along, claiming that he’ll be a good guide. He speaks many languages and does know a lot of about various European countries. But Cloak is unhappy; he knows that Bill wants Dagger for himself.

The last two issues, in the Strange Tales comics, are set in India.

Spider-Man guest stars in the third issue and the fourth issue is a part of the Secret Wars II cross-over with the Beyonder getting a small taste of New York’s criminal underworld. Unlike the vast majority of cross-overs, Beyonder’s guest stint isn’t too bad. Dagger and Cloak must explain to him a lot of things, like why he shouldn’t just kill the bad guys. This makes their mission more clear to themselves. They decide that they should give the criminals a second chance to repent and turn to the light. However, in practice, this doesn’t change their M.O. much.

During the first half of the series, there are subplots involving detective O’Reilly and father Delgado. However, these are quickly dropped without clousure when our heroes leave US. I suspect that since this maxiseries led to a bi-monthly series, the subplots continue there.

Overall, this was a good read with very down-to-earth heroes. It was great to see the heroes really trying to stop the drug trade rather than just fight the symptoms. On the other hand, there are some stereotypes which can be uncomfortable to modern readers. This story also deals with organizations which are supposed to be good for people and the society but are corrupt instead.

At the heart of the story is the relationship between Cloak and Dagger. As long as he has his powers, Cloak can’t lead a normal life. His darkness needs to devour life’s light; he needs Dagger’s light or he will succumb to the hunger and feeding so much from humans that he’ll kill them. He’s jealous of anything or anyone other who draw Dagger’s attention and can’t help but to delight in Dagger’s disappointment in her mother and later in other disappointments. Dagger wants a normal life. When Bill Clayton gives her a taste of it, she’s eager to grasp it. But sometimes she gets weary of seeing bad guys all the time and wants to really punish them. Some of the stories explore her past but Cloak’s past remains mostly a mystery.

Rick Leonardi is the artist for issue 1-4 and 6. The other issues all have different artists. However, they’re styles are surprisingly similar so the differences didn’t bother me too much.

Collects the first Superman versus Aliens miniseries.

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Dan Jurgens, Kevin Nowlan

Just like I predicted, to make the aliens at all threatening, Superman must lose his powers.

Lexcorp has a space program. Lois and Clark have been invited to interview the head of that program, doctor Sheryl Kimble. She’s an ambitious scientist (and I’m sure you all know what that means in the context of aliens…. :)). Lexcorp has captured a message from space. It’s in unknown language but Clark recognizes it as Kryptonian and as a distress call. When the probe which sends the distress call splashes into the ocean, Clark rescues it. It makes a mental connection with him and sends images of a surviving Kryptonian city which is badly in need of help. Reluctantly, he allows Lexcorp to investigate it.

Lexcorp has a hyperspace capable small space ship. Clark takes it and heads to the city which is on an asteroid, far way from any sun.

There he finds that the city has been ravaged by alien monstrosities. He finds four unconscious survivors, who look human (or Kryptonian). He puts them in the ship and sends them back to Earth while he remains to explore the city. He’s not any longer under a yellow sun so his powers diminish quickly. He’s attacked by aliens who burn his eyes. A blonde young woman, Kara, saves him. Kara tells him that the aliens have been attacking the city for years and she grew up as a soldier. Clark wants to find a way to help her and the rest of people who are out of food and medicine.

Meanwhile on Earth, the ship has returned. Of course, all the “survivors” have been infected. The aliens burst out and start to attack everyone.

This exactly what you expect from a cross-over. Superman fights increasingly desperately against hordes of aliens with Kara by his side. Kara is an experienced soldier even though she’s only 16. In the ship, on the way to the city, Clark reminiscens how he was forced to kill his fellow Kryptonians before and is determined never to kill again. Even when fighting the aliens, he tried not to kill them. When he first meets them, he tries to talk to them, so he’s very much in character. Meanwhile, Lois tries to survive the aliens and is determined to kill them. She lectures Kimble who wants keep the aliens alive for research.

The art is solid and brings out the horror of the aliens. This cross-over works surprisingly well even though it has pretty much all the expected aliens plot points.

Collects the first Batman/Aliens miniseries.

Writer: Ron Marz
Artists: Bernie Wrightson

The story starts with Batman parachuting down to the Amazon jungle at the border of Guatemala and Mexico. After wrestling with a crocodile, he meets five elite soldiers who are on a secret mission. Batman himself reveals only that he’s there to rescue someone. The leader of the soldiers, Sealey, is very hostile toward Batman while the only female soldier, Hyatt, stops Sealey from posturing and gets them to focus on the mission. After a while, they stumble on Mayan ruins and next to them is a spaceship. They find the body of a humanoid alien whose chest has been torn open from the inside. They continue to the ruins and are soon face to face with the terrible Aliens.

This is exactly what you expect from a comic like this. The soldiers include a belligerent commander, a religious man, and the woman who wants to prove herself. There’s also an obligatory twist that one of them betrays the others. The coolest thing are the Aliens and Batman fighting them.

The art is great. Wrightson is co-creator of Swamp Thing and has illustrated a lot of horror comics. I really like his Batman and he draws great Aliens.

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