superheroes


Collects miniseries Rogue & Gambit 1-5.

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Pere Pérez

For many years (at least for us readers: Rogue and Gambit met for the first time in 1990s) X-Men Rogue and Gambit have danced around each other. They’re attracted to each other but so far they’ve had too many problems to really get together – in other words, the editors at Marvel didn’t want them together. In order to keep them apart, the writers invented several problems for them.

Well, in this miniseries they confront those issues head on.

Mutants have been disappearing from Cerebra’s scans. Kitty Pryde (who is now the leader of the X-Men) sends them to find out what’s going on. And the reason why she chose Rogue and Gambit is that the mutants are disappearing from a paradise island where a counselor offers to “free mutants of their trauma” and Kitty wants to send in a couple who needs counseling. Rogue is less than thrilled but since Gambit agrees, they head out.

They talk about their problems to a couple’s counselor while sneaking around. This is as much fun as it sounds with Rogue and Gambit snarking at each other while also wanting to be together. The story has just as much fisticuffs and mystery solving as figuring out their relationship.

The villain turns out to be quite an interesting person but their motives are left open. Thompson manages to make some rather questionable editorial decisions somehow reasonable for the characters, especially when you consider that Rogue was just 18 when they met. I’m pretty sure we haven’t been told Gambit’s age but he had been married and divorced by the time he met Rogue. We also get to see their first meeting which was during the time Shadow King had taken over Muir Island and they were both under SK’s mind control.

Recommended to fans of Rogue and Gambit. The story references a lot of their history so to get most out of it, you should be familiar with them.

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A prose novel with Avengers characters and many of their enemies.

Publication year: 2018
Format: print
Publisher: Titan books
Page count: 348

This is a stand-alone novel. The cover hints that these are the movie Avengers. While the five Avengers from the first movie are indeed the prominent characters, later joined by the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, there are a couple of hints that they’re actually the comic book characters. Specifically, Wanda is referred to as a veteran Avenger and her powers aren’t the movie powers but the mix of hex and magic she uses in the comics. Also, some of the villains are clearly their comic book versions, not the movie versions.

The writing style assumes that the reader is already familiar with the characters, their backgrounds and powers; they’re not introduced at all. Instead, we’re plunged straight into action with every character.

Captain America is fighting Baron Wolfgang from Strucker (with his Satan’s Claw not seen in the movies) and Hydra in Berlin. He’s assisted by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and resources. At the same time, Hawkeye and Black Widow have just arrived to Savage Land where A.I.M. is doing something big. Our heroes must survive the Savage Land dinosaurs and then infiltrate the A.I.M. base. Meanwhile, Tony Stark is dealing with Ultron’s attack in Washington DC. Ultron has managed to jam communications, so the Avengers can’t communicate with each other and nobody else can communicate, either. Thor is in Siberia trying to deal with a magical attack and S.H.I.E.L.D has called Bruce Banner into Madripool as an expert scientist rather than as the Hulk.

Each group is on their own because of the communications blackout and dealing with a major threat to the world. However, the villains haven’t coordinated their attack with each other so they’re somewhat at a disadvantage. Of course, something even more sinister is going on.

The POVs of the book are all from the Avengers so we don’t see the enemies POV. Each chapter follows one hero or a group of heroes and is full of action. In that way, it’s similar to many comics. However, I think that some chapters are more blood-thirsty than comics, where the heroes go out of their way to avoid killing anyone. Here, Natasha and Clint kill many A.I.M. minions.

The cover claims that each of the Avengers are on his or her own, but only Thor is really on his own, for a while at least. The others are supported by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents

If you know the Avengers and are a fan of the comics, I recommend reading this. However, don’t expect anything deeper or any character development. A very entertaining and action-packed book.

The second book in a duology of books set in the Flash/Arrow tv-show universe. It’s also a crossover between the Flash and Arrow tv-shows this time focusing on team Arrow.

Publication year: 2017
Format: print
Publisher: Titan books
Page count: 409

The second book in the Flash and Arrow crossover starts immediately after the end of the first book, the Haunting of Barry Allen. I think it’s set during fourth season of Arrow because team Arrow is Oliver, Felicity, Digg, and Thea as Speedy. Oliver is in relationship with Felicia and she’s the CEO of Palmer Technologies.

Barry, the Flash, is experiencing blurring when he’s afraid or stressed out and it’s getting worse. He blurs (becomes motionless and insubstantial while hallucinating about his elder self and about Zoom as Wells) more often even though Oliver has taught him mediation which previously worked to keep the blurs under control. They’re happening because of otherworldly plasma is multiplying in his blood stream. However, there might be a way to save him. One of Queen Consolidates’ previous employees worked on a wat to open stable wormholes. Since the plasma came (apparently) to Barry’s blood stream during the wormhole incident (at the end of season 1), Cisco and Felicity think they can cure Barry with the machine. But the inventor is dead. Now the heroes must find his work and use it to cure Barry. However, other people want the research, too.

As a secondary plot, we get to see Oliver and Thea before Oliver goes to the island. Oliver has a Croatan friend Ghasi who gets into fights often. Oliver’s other friends don’t really like him and Thea downright despises him, but Oliver stays by his friend. In present time, Ghasi wants the research as well and is a cunning opponent. In the flashbacks we also get to see characters from the first season, such as Oliver’s parents and Tommy Merlyn.

The main POV character is Oliver but we also get small glimpses from the POVs of Felicity and Barry.

This was just as a delightful read as the first book in the series: if you liked it, you’re most likely going to like this as well unless you don’t like Oliver. This being an Arrow book, it’s centered on Team Arrow. In fact, the story switches very quickly to Star City. Barry and later Cisco joins them, but the rest of the team Flash don’t really show. This was my big disappointment: I like the Flash show much more than Arrow. However, I don’t think this book was as depressing as the Arrow show usually is: nobody left a relationship, died, or messed up their friendship. In fact, it’s quite upbeat for an Arrow episode. It was also great to see John and Lyla kicking ass together because the show doesn’t give them enough action scenes together.

First in a duology of books set in the Flash/Arrow tv-show universe. It’s also a crossover between the Flash and Arrow tv-shows.

Publication year: 2016
Format: print
Publisher: Titan books
Page count: 416

I really like the Flash tv-show and was pleasantly surprised to find books about it. Of course, the quality of tie-in books can vary quite a lot, like with all books. However, I’ve already enjoyed the Vampire Empire series from the Griffiths, so I knew their writing style. Happily I ended up enjoying this book quite a lot. I think this is set during the second season because Iris West is part of team Flash and knows that Barry is Flash but she’s not dating Barry. She’s also still a journalist.

Central City is in danger from various metavillains’ attacks: the Weather Wizard conjures terrible weather, the homicidal Mist turns into poisonous gas, and the Prism puts people into homicidal rage and they start to attack each other. The Mist and the Prism have also a grudge against detective Joe West, Barry’s foster father.

Soon, team Flash realizes that the villains are working together and the teleporting Peekaboo is helping them, and that the Pied Piper is organizing them. Then the Flash starts to see an older version of himself, tired and scared, telling himself to run faster. The visions happen during dangerous times: when he’s running to help people or catch the villains. During these times he “blurs” becomes intangible and freezes up. He also hallucinates other people. When Barry finally tells the team about it, they insist that he call in back up: Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow.

Barry is the major POV character, but we also get POV from Joe, Iris, and briefly from Oliver. From the villains’ side, only Shawna Baez is a POV character which is something of a relief because I, for one, am not interested in being in the head of a homicidal killer. The characters are introduced briefly but for the most part, the reader is expected to know them, so you should watch the show before reading the book.

Of course, a tie-in book can’t have character development for the main cast. Oliver brings with him Felicity and John Diggle, so the cast grows to be quite large. However, I think the Griffiths handle them easily.

This is a great book for the fans of the show: the characters are in character and we get some friendly bickering from them, familiar from the show. Barry’s problems with the blurs continue into the next book, A Generation of Vipers and I’m diving into it next.

Collects The Flash 130-141, material from 80-Page Giant; Green Lantern 96; Green Arrow 130; & material from JLA: Secret Files. First published in 1997 and 1998.

Writers: Grant Morrison and Mark Millar
Artists: a lot

This is the first Flash comic I’ve read because his own comic hasn’t been published here in Finland. I think only Batman and Superman have had their own comics here before recent years. Also, we got one Green Arrow/Green Lantern cross-over publication years ago. In the last couple of years, we got three Green Lantern albums and one Wonder Woman album. Of course, I’ve read Justice League comics and that’s the way I’m familiar with Wally West.

However, I was completely unfamiliar with Wally’s supporting crew: Impulse, Max Mercury, and Linda Park. Alright, Linda was briefly in the Flash tv-show, as were Jay Garrick and Jesse Quick but they all seem quite different from this comic incarnation. So, I was really thrown in the deep end in these stories, character-wise. And this is set in Keystone City, not the Central City of the TV-show.

It collects four three-part stories and three one-off issues.

In “Emergency stop” the speedsters encounter the Suit who shows them Wally’s dead body and challenges Wally to stop his own death. Wally’s legs are broken during the story.

“Death at the top of the world” is a cross-over with Green Lantern (Kyle) and Green Arrow (Connor) where they take Wally to an Alaskan cruise for a holiday. Unfortunately, three supervillains are also on the cruise.

In “The Human Race” alien beings force Wally to race against a member of another alien species and if Wally doesn’t win, Earth will be destroyed. If Wally’s opponent wins, his world is destroyed. How can Wally prevent both?

In “the Black Flash” Max realized that death has come to take a speedster, specifically Wally. In the end, Wally races Death itself.

These were all pretty entertaining. Wally works really nicely together with the other speedsters and it feels like he’s part of a speedster/superhero family. His girlfriend Linda is a journalist and almost constantly in danger. She even dies in this collection and Wally is left to mourn her. Also, apparently none of the speedsters have secret identities.

The stories have a few villains which inspired some of the villains in the Flash TV-show. It was very interesting to see them in action here.

The one offs are also pretty entertaining.

In “Through the Looking Glass” the Mirror Master traps Linda in a mirror world where she quickly ages in backwards, so it was pretty wacky.

“Still Life in a Fast Lane” is a more somber story. Jay is meeting an elderly supervillain who is dying of a brain tumor. He’s Clifford DeVoe or the Thinker. Jay suspects the Thinker’s old thinking cap could help DeVoe. But it’s not easy to find.

The final story, “Your Life is My Business”, is a humorous short piece where Mark Millar calls to the Flash asking his help in writing a ten-page Flash comic. Flash shows up.

Overall this was a fun and fast-paced collection. It has a lot of different artists who have different styles.

It’s quite different from the modern DC comics because the characters really form a family of experienced superheroes. Yes, there are a few teenagers or less experienced heroes, but the older people are around to teach them. It’s very different from when a reboot made the whole JLA first-time heroes. There’s a sense of continuity. Of course, that can be difficult to new and especially young readers to grasp. I guess that’s why DC decided to make their heroes younger.

Collects Fantastic Four issues 347–350, 352-354.

Writer: Walter Simonson
Artists: Walter Simonson, Arthur Adams

The first three issues are drawn (gorgeously) by Adams and inked by various people. The FF have returned to their own world and time, and are relaxing. Well, except for Sharon who is depressed because she’s now again the Thing rather than a woman. Ben tries to comfort her but in vain. A mysterious woman crashes her space ship to Earth and heads for the FF so that she can find what she came to Earth to find. She manages to subdue the FF one by one. However, she’s not successful in finding her prize.

Meanwhile, a skrull space ship has landed, looking for the woman. Instead, they find Monster Island. They managed to use their tech on the monsters and send them to various cities to attack humans.

The mystery woman keeps her disguise as Susan Richards and sends a message to four humans: Wolverine, gray Hulk, Ghost-Rider, and Spider-Man. To them, the woman claims that the FF are dead and the killers can be found with a hand scanner. The four head off to the Monster Island.

This was a fun little story with monsters, the Mole Man, and skrulls.

Then Dr. Doom attacks… Latveria. He defeats the Doombots and Kristoff who has apparently been posing as Dr. Doom ever since the real doc left. He examines the FF and realizes that he can use Sharon’s need to become human. So, he meets with her in New York and makes the offer to turn her back to a human. Sharon agrees and leaves with the doc to Latveria. Of course, Dr. Doom pries secrets from Sharon’s mind. Meanwhile, Ben uses Reed’s machines to become the Thing again, so that Sharon wouldn’t be so lonely. Awwww… that’s very sweet of him.

Dr. Doom sends an ultimatum to the FF who hurry to Latveria to rescue Sharon. While the rest of the FF fall victim to Dr. Doom’s traps, Reed and the doc battle each other using devices which allows them to jump around in time. Well, at least inside 30 minutes.

The Time Variance Authority gets involved. Their job is to monitor the multiverse and try to stop people from time traveling too much. However, they don’t really seem very effective. They arrest the FF and try to put them on trial for time traveling. Things don’t go well for TVA.

This was a bit wackier story than the previous ones, thanks to the TVA. In the ends, Simonson largely returns the FF to the status quo with Sharon back to a human and Ben again the Thing. The TVA is a wacky concept, especially considering how truly powerless they are to actually prevent time travel. They seem more like a bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake than anything useful. Which could well be the point.

Another fun collection!

Collects Fantastic Four issues 342–346.

Writer: Walter Simonson, Danny Fingeroth
Artist: Walter Simonson, Rex Valve, Chris Ivy

The first issue is apparently a filler where Ben, Johnny, and Sharon have an adventure of their own. It wasn’t published in Finland. Simonson didn’t work on it.

The rest of the collection is solid Simonson. The FF find out that they didn’t actually return to their own world from the time bubble. Instead, they’re in an alternate world where Dan Quayle is the President of US and Joseph Stalin is still the Premier of USSR. Stalin is 111 years old and is wearing a power armor which is keeping him alive. The world is still in darkest Cold War. When Quayle decides to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union, Reed and the rest of the FF must work hard to prevent it. This world’s Reed has started to build EMP-weapons and our Reed manages to finish them just in time to blow the missiles from the sky. Then the FF head to Kremlin in the hopes of finding a way to stop World War III. After they battle Stalin, who is wearing his impressive power armor, they find out rather strange things.

Next, Reed is able to fix the time sled and they again try to return to their own time. But they don’t succeed yet. The FF find themselves in jungle with a group of US soldiers. Also, the FF don’t have their powers, so the soldiers are rather skeptical about their identities. Even Sharon returns to her human form. But the jungle full of hostile dinosaurs they must work together in order to survive. However, the jungle seems to be a just a fragment in time, an island which is quickly falling apart from around them.

I’m a fan of alternate universes and this jaunt was a lot of fun! I loved the surprise at the Kremlin; I didn’t remember that at all from my first read. I also love dinosaurs so it was fun to see them. Also, Ben brought his Thing suit with him so he was the only who how had powers. That was a fun reversal.

I’m not so crazy about Sharon’s subplot. She’s starting to loath her Thing form and wants to be a woman for Ben. Ben tries to reassure her but in vain. Also, Johnny is still thinking of Nebula and wondering how he can face Alicia.

Otherwise, this was great fun, if somewhat weird to see Ben and Johnny involved with and declaring their love to women who are now long gone from their lives. (I think this Alicia turned out to be a skrull and Sharon started to work for Doom or something.)

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