Collects Uncanny Avengers 1-5. (Vol. 2)

Writers: Rick Remender, Gerry Duggan
Artist: Daniel Acuna

I’ve read more than my share of really strange comics but in the superhero world this one is pretty weird. Although, not in the 60s Superman/Batman weird, but modern weird.
I’ve read the previous volume of Uncanny Avengers (through Marvel Unlimited) and quite liked them. This one feels like it starts in the middle of a story but it’s not the Axis story where the previous volume of UA ended. And this volume ends in Secret Wars so perhaps the ending was quite rushed.

Wand and Pietro (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) have learned previously (from where and whom? I’ve no idea. If it was from a bad guy, why would they believe a single word?) that they’re not actually the children of Magneto or even mutants. They travel to Counter-Earth and to the High Evolutionary to get answers (why? Again, I’ve no idea). Counter-Earth is another Earth built by High Evolutionary directedly behind the sun from the Earth. There he’s been able to experiment to his cold little heart’s content, creating generations of New Men (from animals) and apparently destroying them when they prove to be imperfect by having emotions. Wanda and Pietro are caught but end up in the hands of Low Evolutionary, High Evolutionary’s son, and the leader of the rebels.

Meanwhile, Rogue leads a small group of Avengers after the twins. Captain America (Sam), the Vision, and Doctor Voodoo along with Sabretooth find out where the twins have gone, and Doctor Voodoo does a spell to transport them to C-E. But the spell is disrupted and the group is separated from each other. Rogue is captured by a sadistic scientist and Sam is captured by strange plant people. Meanwhile, the Vision ends up in the company of a female android Eve and they, well, have sex and make children. Doctor Voodoo is in the company of the millions of souls High Evolutionary had killed and they want revenge.

Apparently, Wanda and Pietro’s background was retconned (again) which isn’t too strange anymore, but the Vision having (artificial and really fast growing) children and then abandoning them to their mother felt really weird. And it was claimed that he fell in love with this new Eve android and yet was able to blithely abandon her. As was Sam turning briefly to a tree creature and then back to a human.

On the bright side, I liked the art and Pietro got some much-needed character development. Also, Sabretooth as a good guy is a very interesting idea and here he worked well. I also love the idea of Counter-Earth; that’s always fun to see.

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The second book in the Chase Baker action/adventure series. I haven’t read the first one, but this was part of the Action/Adventure bundle way back in 2015 at Storybundle.

Publication year: 2014
Format: ebook
Publisher: Bear Media
Page count: 174 at GoodReads

This is marketed as Indiana Jones -type book and it’s not far off. Chase is also an archeologist who has wild adventures at exotic locations. He’s also a writer who writes about his own adventures.

The book starts with a short passage from 1939 about a man who has crash landed in Amazon’s jungle and sees a golden airplane which seems to be over a thousand years old. Yes: possible evidence that extraterrestrial aliens have visited Earth long ago and that we’re possibly even descended from them!

In 2014, Chase returns to New York and meets with his literary agent Leslie. She’s actually not doing so well and when Chase accidentally burns down her office during sex, she’s left with almost nothing. Her rich fiancée also breaks off with her. A mysterious old man, Peter Keogh III, has sent an invitation letter to Chase and soon both Chase and Leslie, along with two of Keogh’s men, head to South American jungles. Keogh’s father was in the beginning passage.

This is a short and fast-paced book written in first person, present tense. It has short chapters which often end in a cliffhanger. It also has lots of action, both sex and violence kinds, and about half of the book is set in deep jungle which is a very dangerous place. It’s set in 2014 so our intrepid heroes have modern tech, like cell phones. The story also has hostile native tribes, indeed the word headhunter was used for them, which I have difficulty believing. Like the Indy films, this story also deals with some interesting religious thoughts and items.

It’s good for a couple of hours of entertainment.

Collects X-Men: Legacy Vol. 1 #219–225. (2009)

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Scot Eaton, Phil Briones, Andrew Hennessy, Cam Smith

This collection starts with a one-shot where Charles Xavier is talking with his half-brother Cain Marko, also known as the Juggernaut. Cain tried Xavier’s way but got frustrated and left. Now, he’s taking his frustrations out on Xavier. The ending has a twist but I saw that one coming.

Most of the collection is a longer story. After the events of M-Day, Rogue has gone the Australian outback where the X-Men lived when the world thought that they were dead. She longs for solitude to get her head back together but instead, she gets an intruder who turns out to be Danger, the sentient Danger room. Also, a Shi’Ar starship crashes the party. Luckily, Xavier and Gambit had also come for Rogue.

In the final issue, Xavier goes after Exodus and his Acolytes. Alone. He confronts Exodus’ attitude and shows him how bleak the future of mutantkind can be without unity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Rogue story, even though Xavier almost took it over with his own quest for redemption from his past misdeeds. Here we get a walk-through Rogue’s history and final learn that her powers might be messed up and that they could be repaired. This story is clearly aimed at those of us who have read the X-Men for a long time, since the flashbacks (single panels, really) are from the 1990s X-Men (some of the best ones IMHO). Of course, Rogue is one of my favorite characters ever so I’m happy see her handled this well.

However, the collection ends in a cliffhanger and the Finnish library system doesn’t have the next one. It leads to the Osborn Avengers storyline.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Today the topic is Best Books You've Read So Far in 2018

A classic but always interesting. I’ve read and reviewed 36 books so far. This year the quality has been pretty good. I’ve finished completed series and I’ve found a new favorite author. Only one book got less than three stars, so it was hard (once again) to choose just five. But here are the ones I chose today:

1, Robert Jackson Bennett: City of Miracles
The final book in the Divine Cities series was just as good as the previous two. It’s a noir revenge story, espionage mystery, and fantasy all rolled into one. Excellent ending.

2, N. K. Jemisin: The Stone Sky
The final book in the Broken Earth fantasy (sf) series. This series (including the last book, of course) deals with lots of heavy themes, such as bigotry, survival in harsh conditions, and motherhood.
While it’s good it’s also quite grim. There’ not a lot of humor in the books and the world itself is… well awful. And many of the people are also awful and I find myself wondering just much can a person hate people they don’t even know and force other people, including children, to suffer because of such abstract hate? It’s of course very worthwhile read.

3, Trish Heinrich: Serpent’s Sacrifice
An indie superhero series set in the 1960s US. Pretty much the only thing I didn’t like in this series is the romance. Otherwise, all three (Serpent’s Sacrifice, Serpent’s Rise, and Shadow Dreams) are very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to the next book.

4, R. J. Theodore: Flotsam
This was another wonderful new author. Flotsam is steampunk/science fiction book and the first in a series. Wind Saber is a small airship with the total crew of four. They captain works hard to keep the ship intact and the crew fed. Sometimes they have to do illegal stuff to get by.
It’s very hard for me to choose the final one. I’ve read a couple of others very good first in a series books but also old favorites and it’s always very hard to choose between.

5, R. E. Stearns: Barbary Station
Another great first book in a science fiction series. It has a committed lesbian couple as the main characters and I just loved them. Also, space pirates!

The final book in the Broken Earth fantasy (sf) series.

Publication year: 2017
Format: print
Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 398 + two appendixes and an excerpt from Ann Leckie’s Providence.

The Broken Earth series is very, very good. It’s also very grim and has a cruel world, not just to the adult characters but, and especially, to the children. At times it has been hard for me to read it. The Stone Sky is a very good ending to the series. Parts of it were as I expected (which is good) but it had some surprises as well (equally good). Like the other books in the series, it has three POV’s. One of them continues with Essun, another continues with her ten-year-old daughter Nassun, but the third one is new. They’re all in present tense. Essun in second person, Nassun in third, and the third POV in first. We finally get to know the answer to many of the questions the series has raised.

Essun has been in a coma for a while and when she wakes up, she finds that her comm is moving. Meanwhile, Nassun and her Guardian father-figure also need to leave from their comm and head to a place call Corepoint. The third POV is in a different timeframe.

The series deals with very weighty issues. Bigotry and racism are the most obvious ones. The “stills” (the normal people) hate and fear the rogga/orogenes who can use magic. The stills do awful things to the orogenes, even to children. Much of the grimness of the book stems from that. Yet, at the same time they need the orogenes to protected them from volcanos and earthquakes. Motherhood and found families are another significant theme.

I think that the series would benefit from reading the books back-to-back. I probably should have read this one quicker but… it’s just so damn repressing and grim that I just couldn’t. Of course, there’s a very good reason for the bleakness and this would a very different series without it. If you can stomach that (and a blend of magic with science fiction), I highly recommend this whole series.

The first book in the Fatal duology. Part of the action/adventure bundle I bought from Storybundle in 2015.
It’s a modern-day thriller/mystery.

Publication year: 2011
Format: ebook
Publisher: Reprobatio ltd.
Page count: 345 at Adobe Digital Editions

Another country, Myanmar in this case, is counterfeiting American hundred dollar bills. Unfortunately for them, someone on the inside decides to take their own cut and takes a million of the counterfeit dollars to US and buys some valuable antiques with them. The fakes are so good that they get through an airport currency exchange office. When the Myanmar finance minister realizes what has happened, he sends a pair of very efficient killers on the trail of the money to get it back.

Tess is a former computer programmer who didn’t like working with tight deadlines in a cubicle at all. So, now she’s a bike messenger for Red Caps, in New York. She loves the freedom at her work, has casual sex with musician Nick, and doesn’t worry about tomorrow. However, someone starts to murder female bike messengers in a very gruesome way and she becomes unwittingly embroiled in the counterfeiting scheme and becomes a target twice over.

Ron Stanford is a detective in the NYPD, specializing in serial killers. He starts to investigate the gruesome murders of the bike messengers and is immediately attracted to Tess. But he puts his feelings aside and concentrated on the murderer who kills more and more quickly. He also consults on other strange murders which seem to be the work of a professional or a pair of professionals.

Despite how different these two storylines are, they work together surprisingly well. However, since the plots are joined only but a couple of characters, that means that the cast of characters is quite large. There are many, many viewpoint characters, including the serial killer and the two Asian killers. However, I had no trouble following the stories or the characters. Only one other POV character besides Tess is a woman and she’s seen very briefly.

Tess is an interesting character for the most part, despite being drop-dead gorgeous, like very many female characters tend to be. She’s living day-to-day, enjoying her life and not worrying much about anything else. In contrast, Ron has been through a recent divorce and is a career cop. Their courtship was thankfully very understated.

The book has quite graphic torture scenes, enough so that I skipped over most of them. The thoughts of the killer are also quite disturbing, which they should be. Then ending was perhaps a bit too easy and while the romance was understated it still managed to get some jealousy scenes. Also, the reason why the serial killer killed is left quite vague.

The scenes are short and change quickly from character to character which keeps the pace quick.

Overall, this was a good read, delivering excitement, mystery, and some interesting characters.

Collects Spider-Island (2015) #1-5.

Writers: Christos Cage, Ron Frenz, Tom DeFalco
Artists: Paco Diaz, Sal Buscema

Spider-Man has actually never been one of my favorite heroes. But since I started first reading Marvel comics, I’ve also read Spider-Man for the simple reason that for many years X-Men and Spider-Man were the only two monthly comics published here in Finland. For some years we had a couple of other Marvel comics which had several heroes and groups (mainly Fantastic Four, Avengers, Daredevil, and Punisher) but they’re long gone now. Currently, Spider-Man is the only monthly Marvel comic. So, you might say I know a lot about Spidey, at least before Marvel broke up Mary Jane and Peter. I was so insulted by that break up and the way it was done, that I dropped the Spider-Man comic. But now Spidey’s part in Secret Wars was published here in Finland and I ended up reading those issues. And rather enjoying them for some wacky fun.

In Spider-Island, the baroness is the Spider Queen. Who seems to be a huge sentient spider. She’s infected almost everyone in Manhattan with the Spider infection which has turned heroes, villains, and regular people into six-eyed spider creatures. Except a small group of heroes still fights on: Agent Venom (Flash Thompson with the symbiont), Spider-Woman (whose powers apparently make her immune) and Vision along with a small group of regular people. Flash has a great idea to make a few other heroes immune to the infection. So, they confront spider infected Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Captain America, and make use of items that can override the Queen’s control. So, we have six-armed lizard Hulk, werewolf Cap, vampire Captain Marvel, and Iron Man who is sprayed with the Goblin venom! Together, they fight the Queen!

This was fast-paced and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the six-armed spider/lizard Hulk, vampire Captain Marvel, and the mad Iron Man. The plot isn’t too stupid and not too complicated, either.

The collection has a bonus in the form of Mayday Parker, the Spider-Woman. I’m actually not familiar with her but can see the appeal. In this comic, Peter has died recently, and May is still mourning. Someone grabs control of the current Avengers and turns them again Mayday. Another fast-paced read.