Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Story by James Robinson
Art by Leila Del Duca

This issue digs right into the first installment of the new origin of the Scarlet Witch (and Quicksilver). Basically, Wanda arrives in Serbia and questions a priest involved in her past. In fact, said priest was the guy who gave her and Pietro away to the High Evolutionary when they were infants. While this happened, there was a war between the Knights of Wundagore and the Serbian army. The High Evolutionary was searching for newborn infants he planned to use in his genetic experiments, so the priest gave him the twins to try and stave him off. Wanda isn't pleased with the role the priest had and she lets him know it throughout their conversation. She doesn't even care that the priest is regretful about it. She soon gets the information she wanted to hear when he tells her to see Dasha, a woman who was an apprentice to Natalya Maximoff, Wanda's mother.

And so, Wanda pays Dasha a visit. Dasha, of course, is an old woman now, but she still has the answers Wanda seeks. We discover that Natalya Maximoff gave birth to Wanda and Pietro, and then gave them to her sister, Marya, and Marya's husband Django to raise for her, as she was dealing with her duties as a fighter of werewolves, vampires, and other such supernatural creatures of the night. When she learned the previously mentioned priest had given her children to the High Evolutionary, Natalya invaded Wundagore and defeated all of the Knights of Wundagore. It is mentioned that Natalya's powers were not quite at their peak while at Wundagore, but astute readers should know the reason why. The High Evolutionary returned the chldren to Django and Marya, but he had already done his work on them.

Next, Wanda asks about who her father was. Dasha says that Natalya never told her, but there is one person who knows...Marya. Wanda is stunned to learn her aunt/adopted mother is still alive, for it was thought she had perished in a fire when Wanda was a child. So Wanda tracks down Marya and confronts her in the forest at the woman's campsite...

So far, Robinson has hit a home run here. Everything new about Wanda's origin seems to not really negate anything that came before this. So far. These answers can be integrated with her previous origin without too much damage. The Maximoffs, Django and Marya, are still Wanda and Pietro's adoptive parents, but now we discover they are their actual uncle and aunt, with Natalya as Marya's sister. The scene with the High Evolutionary giving the infant children back to the Maximoffs matches a similar scene in the original origin story, although in that story, he was giving the infants to them after their birth, not after he genetically altered them. Nice nod there, I think.

A major plot point that still needs to be addressed, along with a few other ones, of course, is the role the Elder God Chthon played in Wanda's past. Originally, Chthon sent a part of his essence into Wanda as she was being born, but this cannot be the case now, as Wanda was born prior to her being taken to Wundagore in this new origin story. However, he may have placed his essence inside of her while she was there being experimented upon by the Evolutionary. But I have a theory that may very well turn out to be the case: Chthon is Wanda and Pietro's father. I propose he took human form and became involved with Natalya, a powerful Scarlet Witch, and after she found out the truth is when she gave her children to her sister and brother-in-law to raise, to perhaps hide them. Or perhaps, after she gave them to her family, Natalya went on to challenge Chthon and was instrumental in his imprisonment under Wundagore.

As always, the artwork matched the kind of story being told. Lelia Del Duca's art had a European flair to it that worked, and the way she handled the flashback panels was very nice. And the way the story ended in this issue was a good way to hand off the art to the next story's illustrator, as it will delve into another portion of Wanda's mysterious, complicated history.

I look forward to reading the next installment of Robinson's exploration of Wanda's new heritage.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Story by James Robinson
Art by Kei Zama

This issue was a beautifully rendered issue. Kei Zama's artwork is gorgeous throughout, as Wanda is pulled to Kyoto, Japan to investigate the murder of a Japanese sorcerer.

Wanda talks to a variety of people who knew him, including his ex-wife, a retired police officer, and one of the sorcerer's few remaining foes (called the Black Bullet, a minor sorcerer). As she does this, she is stalked by a fox that is the reincarnation of the dead sorcerer...as well as the evil entity that killed him when he was human. Eventually, we learn that the killer is a man named Benchley...the sorcerer's butler, who killed him in order to get his powers. He made a deal with a Japanese demon to accomplish this, but things didn't quite go the way he planned. And, of course, Wanda is here. The thing is that Benchley absorbed every person that Wanda talked to, turning his demonic body into a mass, so Wanda can't destroy him without destroying his innocent prisoners. But Wanda uses a spell to purify the water underneath the bridge upon which they stand, thus freeing the captives and enabling Wanda to get rid of the villain.

At the end, Wanda mentions she was called to Japan by some unexplained instinct, which interrupted her journey back to Serbia, her homeland, so this gives us an explanation why she wasn't already there. I liked that.

Robinson does so well with this book, doing stories that take place in a variety of cultures. We've had Greece, France, Spain, China, Ireland, and now Japan. Next issue will be Serbia. And each artist chosen for the book seem to really work it with their respective cultures. Kei Zama's art in this is lovely, making the Japanese landscape lush and snowy. I hope Marvel will use his art again, and use it soon!

The issue ends with the fox losing what remains of his human intelligence, as his murder has been solved, and then the fox runs off into the snowy forest to start its new life. Nice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thoughts About Current Marvel Happenings

Just thought I'd mention some thoughts about how I feel about what's going on in Marvel these days...

I hate Captain America. Never thought it would ever happen, but I hate the damn Nazi scum.

Riri Williams is so super generic and boring. Calling the book INVINCIBLE IRON MAN is stupid. It should be called INVINCIBLE IRONHEART, but then no one would buy it if if had the title otherwise, would they? It's good that Bendis is doing her backstory, but then it doesn't really matter since she's dull as dishwater, and I don't want to read what will likely be a 6-10 issue origin story.

NIGHTHAWK is extremely well-done, but POWER MAN & IRON FIST is horrible. OCCUPY AVENGERS, I hope, will be good, as I like the idea of Hawkeye and Red Wolf as a team. A sort of modern day Power Man and Iron Fist.

Looks like Gwen Stacy is back among the living in THE CLONE CONSPIRACY. Haven't started it yet, but I am excited to see Gwendy again. And with Peter and MJ no longer married, she and Peter could hook up again, with plenty of conflict for them, as she blames Spider-Man for the death of her father. And maybe she's a bit miffed about Peter's role in her demise as well?

Magneto may not be the father of Wanda and Pietro anymore, but he still has two kids out there somewhere. Cullen Bunn says he wants to do a story about it eventually, but we'll see.

It sucks that MOCKINGBIRD has been cancelled. It's such a well-written book. Very quirky and filled with history. However, with the character's TV pilot not being picked up, and with her not a part of AGENTS OF SHIELD, it's little wonder it's gone.

WORLD OF WAKANDA. (shakes head)

Hopefully MOSAIC will be good. I need another Inhuman book now that ALL-NEW INHUMANS is gone. But we'll see.

Can't wait to start PROWLER and SOLO. Two underdog books for me, although I heard SOLO has already been cancelled with #5. Pretty foolish to cancel something when only two issues have come out so far. Each new book should get at least 8 issues before cancellation to give books a chance to find their audience. But then, a lot of readers write books off after one issue because they don't wait to see how things go. Some books take more than one issue to decide on.

Monday, November 7, 2016


Story by Chelsea Cain
Art by Kate Niemczyk

Well, there are only three issues left of this title at this point. And it sucks. This is a well-written, well-drawn title that is a lot of fun, with great stories and a writer who really shows how much she researches a character such as this. Various parts of Bobbi Morse's character have been hit upon throughout this wonderful book: The fact that Bobbi has both the Infinity Formula and the Super-Soldier Serum running through her veins, her past relationship with Dr. Wilma Calvin in the old ASTONISHING TALES series from the 70s, her relationship with Hawkeye, and more.

This issue is no exception. The story opens with Bobbi boarding a cruise ship. She has received a ticket from a mysterious source that promises information that could tip the scales in favor of Clint Barton during his trial for killing Bruce Banner. What needs to be noted here is that the ticket is made out to "Mrs. Bobbi Barton." Bobbi hasn't gone by that name in years, since her divorce, so this is a clue that the sender is someone who thinks she is still married to Clint, that he or she is someone from Bobbi's past.

And so, it begins. Bobbi settles in and waits to meet whomever sent her the ticket. In the meantime, she tries to avoid thinking about Clint and his trial, but there are reminders of it everywhere she looks. From tickets to a Corgi show where Clint was supposed to be the key speaker (but now is not because of his incarceration) to news broadcasts she hears on the television set in her room. There is a moment where she sits and listens to the news and has a momentary lapse in tears that is presented quite effectively. She still loves Clint, even if she can't be married to him anymore.

I love the setting for this storyline. A cruise ship that is sailing for the Bermuda Triangle, which in itself will be likely very troublesome. There is a cosplay thing going on all around Bobbi as she waits for the mysterious ticket sender to meet with her, as he promises to do via telegrams he keeps sending to her. We see Bobbi relax in the pool, play Dungeons & Dragons with various cosplayers, and have a dozen Corgis racing by her in the hallways. Even her other ex, Lance Hunter, is aboard (for the Corgi convention). When she finally encounters the ticket sender, he's a guy wearing a horse head who refuses to give her the information outright. He wants to do it at his own pace. But she already knows who he is: Some guy she's never heard of. And when she later goes with Lance to the guy's room, thing suddenly take a serious turn:

As silly as that image looks, and as quirky as the book is with its art, it's still a very engaging title. One worth reading compared to some other more poorly written titles out there (such as the atrocious Captain America titles). We now have a murderer on board this cruise ship of cosplayers and Corgi lovers. One that is tied to Bobbi's past somehow. An old adversary of some sort, obviously. There is a part in this issue where the horse head guy talks to Bobbi about Clint's murderous act and mentions some things that have led me to believe that the Phantom Rider is involved in this somehow. The Phantom Rider, just for some information, was the guy who raped Mockingbird back during Steve Englehart's run on WEST COAST AVENGERS. She was trapped in the past, during the Wild West era, and the Rider used drugs to make her love him. Eventually, their final encounter ended with the Phantom Rider falling to his death off a cliff, with Mockingbird allowing it to happen. He has since plagued her via his ghost. The last instance was during HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1-5 where he possessed the body of his descendant, Jaime Slade.

So, I think it's the Phantom Rider orchestrating things in this storyline. There are still two more issues to go, so we'll see how things progress. In any case, this is a great start to Bobbi's final three-issue story of Corgis, cosplayers, murder, and ultimately the Bermuda Triangle, where we know Weirdworld awaits.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Story by James Robinson
Art by Joelle Jones

Well, once again James Robinson hits it out of the ballpark. This entire issue is one long conversation, but Robinson makes it genuinely enthralling. And Joelle Jones once again proves what a great artist she is, and that her work on the upcoming SUPERGIRL mini-series at DC should be quite enjoyable.

Basically, at last, Pietro comes to see Wanda. She is excited to see him, for she has wonderful news about their mother. But he cuts her off before she can say anything about her. He doesn't care about "frivolous matters". Right now, a new Civil War is going on, this time between Tony Stark and Captain Marvel. Pietro needs Wanda's help in assisting Stark and ending the conflict. War Machine is dead. Bruce Banner is dead. She-Hulk is in a coma.

Wanda says no. "Consider me Switzerland."

Pietro is pissed and demands her assistance. Wanda gets pissed, reminded by all the times Pietro has treated her so poorly. In fact, she blames him on one level for everything that has happened to her over the years. His arrogance and selfishness and constant bossing her around made her life uncomfortable, to say the least. But she has changed. She is no longer the woman she once was, subject to the whims of her brother, her allies, Magneto, and her ex-husband. She is no longer defined by them. She has become an independent woman. Though she continues to struggle with coming to terms with what she has done in the past, and with the darkness still within her, each day she is getting better, and Pietro will not ruin this for her.

Finally, Wanda is able to tell Pietro that their mother is Natalya Maximoff, and she would like for him to accompany her to their homeland in Serbia to find out more about her and her possible connection with their adopted parents, Django and Marya Maximoff. Pietro refuses. He doesn't care. Magneto and Magda. Django and Marya. The Whizzer and Miss America. They keep discovering one couple after another to be their parents and then find out they aren't, so why would this be any different? He tells Wanda they only need each other, and are defined by who they are now, not who they were. Wanda is hurt by his callous reaction. She realizes now he will never change. He will always be nothing but arrogant and uncaring, a total jerk. Their argument peaks, and Wanda orders him to leave. Pietro refuses, and she blasts him across the room with a mystical bolt. His response? An attack. He runs around her, stealing her oxygen. Wanda refuses to beg him for mercy and once again blasts her brother across the room.

When it's over, Wanda tells Pietro to get out, that she never wants to see him again. He obliges her and takes off, never to return. The issue ends with Wanda standing out on her balcony, realizing she may have gone too far by cutting ties with her brother.

That is one powerful looking final page. Joelle Jones really captures, I think, how sad she is that she has lost her brother, possibly forever. But you know what? The guy is a total jackass. This is his sister. To him, she's pretty much the only person in his life that loves him, and he just treats her like dirt...AGAIN...like he always has. He cared more about recruiting her for Tony Stark's side in the Civil War II storyline than he did about discovering the heritage they share.

Robinson is doing so well detailing Wanda's growth as an individual. It's a continuous struggle, but she's come unto her own in this series. She's acknowledging her past, dealing with it, and will hopefully move on to a brighter tomorrow. She is no longer defined by those around her. She wants to discover her true heritage once and for all, and she will do it alone if necessary.

Monday, October 3, 2016


Story by James Robinson
Art by Tula Lotay

Well, this book just keeps getting better. Each issue is a done-in-one story with a different artist that successfully captures the mood Robinson is aiming for with each tale. This one is no different.

Wanda stays home in this issue, and we see her visiting a psychiatrist named Dr. Grand. Each session she hands the man an envelope that contains his required payment, after which she then unburdens herself. This time around Wanda talks about her mother, who we found out in #4 was Natalya Maximoff. This leads into the history of Wanda Maximoff as she knows it. In her own words. Right now, she knows she was that she was the adopted daughter of Django and Marya Maximoff and was taken as an infant by the High Evolutionary to be experimented upon, along with her brother, Pietro. Apparently, the experiments gave Pietro his speed and made Wanda somehow susceptible to magic. But he deemed the experiments a failure and returned them to the elderly Maximoffs. Dr. Grand points out that Natalya's last name is the same as the name of her adopted parents, and Wanda says she's still looking into a connection between them.

Moving on, we learn that Magneto and his wife Magda are still a part of Wanda's past, as the High Evolutionary arranged for her and her brother to think they were their parents. In actuality, they're not, and one has to wonder here what the deal is with Magda since Wanda and Pietro are NOT her children. Magda is known to have arrived pregnant at Wundagore Mountain after having fled from her husband, Magneto. Supposedly, she gave birth to twin children, presumably Wanda and Pietro, and then took off into the night, never to be seen again. But since Wanda and Pietro are not her children, then what happened to the babies Magda gave birth to, and who and where are they?

Another matter is Chthon, the demonic being who placed his essence inside Wanda when she was born and transformed her mutation into the ability to manipulate chaos, probability,and reality itself. Since Wanda is no longer Magda's child, we must assume Chthon infected her during the time she was in the care of the High Evolutionary, and perhaps his influence is what caused the Evolutionary's experiments to fail. This is only speculation, but Wanda's investigation is going to take her to the High Evolutionary himself in SCARLET WITCH #11, which arrives in stores this week, actually.

In any case, back to the main story, Dr. Grand suggests Wanda is trying to ignore her past instead of accepting it and moving on to a brighter future. He suggests she is still subconsciously wanting other people (like her brother and her former teammates in the Avengers) to help her, instead of trying to help herself. He suggests Wanda is afraid to accept her children, Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers, when she mentions she barely sees them, that she is afraid to see them.

This gives Wanda things to think about. A week later, she comes to see Dr. Grand again, and she thanks him for his advice. She has thought about everything he said and has come to realize that she needs to accept the things she's done in the past in order to move on to a more positive future. Wanda then tells Dr. Grand that the jig is up. She knows who he really is and what he's been doing to her. She's known since the beginning that he saw her on the street one day, recognized her, and used hypnosis to subtly influence her into seeing a therapist, particularly himself. She knows that he's been subtly influencing her to steal jewelry from all over the world (during her adventures in the previous seven issues) to pay for her sessions, but what he doesn't know is that she had cast spells to make him think the jewelry she gave him was real and not the fake glass junk she's actually been passing on to him. Wanda also tells him she recognized who he was right away, despite him having grown a beard in hopes to change his appearance and fool her. We learn that the psychiatrist is not Roland Grand, but Manyard Toboldt, aka the Ringmaster of the Circus of Crime. He hopes Wanda will let him go since she says he genuinely helped her, but she summons the police officers waiting outside his office to come arrest him. However, Wanda thanks the Ringmaster once again for helping her, as his advice was sound, despite his devious intent. And the Ringmaster surprises us all when he says he's glad she helped her. At least his psychiatric talents were put to good use this time, instead of always being used to manipulate the Circus into doing things for him.

Excellent issue! I was genuinely surprised when the psychiatrist turned out to be the Ringmaster. This is the third time we've seen this villain being used in a story that was well thought out and utilized his talent for therapy, that made him more than just the leader of a criminal circus of thieves. The last time this happened was in the latter half of the third volume of DEATHLOK, when he took on the alias of Martin Thraller and ran for president, only to run afoul of Jack Truman/Deathlok.

Robinson knows how to tap into the vast well of the Marvel Universe, choose a lesser used character, and craft a nice little story around them. His did this twice before in this very series, with the Man-Bull in #2 and Le Peregrine in #6. Instead of creating a new character that would likely never be used again, he chose the Ringmaster and fleshed out a side of the villain we rarely get to see. Well done!

And so, the search for Wanda's true heritage begins with this issue, which acts as a prologue. As mentioned before, Wanda's journey continues in SCARLET WITCH #11, where she returns home to confront the High Evolutionary. This will continue into the next issue, and then Wanda's search continues in #13 when she returns to the Witches Road to try and locate her mother, Natalya Maximoff. I'm looking forward very much to this journey.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the art by Tula Lotay. It was very stylish and fit the tone of the story quite well. Perhaps we'll see her art grace these pages again in the future.

One final thought or two: Right now, I think that Natalya may be the lost daughter of Django and Marya Maximoff, which would make them Wanda's natural grandparents, instead of her adopted parents. I am also wondering maybe that Natalya may actually be Magda, Magneto's wife, as the name Magda is very similar to Marya. This would mean that Magda really is Wanda and Pietro's mother, but she changed her name after she left Magneto in order to hide herself better. Along the way, she met someone who is the father of the children, got pregnant, and then made her way to Wundagore Mountain to give birth to them. Then she vanished into the night, possibly returning to the Witches Road to continue hiding from Magneto. This would also explain why Magda and Wanda look almost exactly alike. Just some speculation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Story by Al Ewing
Art by Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco

The story opens in Elysium, where Ares and his son enjoy paradise. But several Summoners arrive and Ares is forced to do battle. However, he is a bit rusty since his death and ends up being summoned away from his son and into the games.

Iron Man, Gamora, and Outlaw have been brought before the Collector and the Maestro and are told of the great contest and its prize: A secret stash of Iso-8! So far, the Collector has nearly entire sphere of the substance, and it's in its rawest form, while the Grandmaster has the rest of it. Ares, encased in crystal, arrives and bursts free. A fight ensues, with Ares, Iron Man, Guillotine, Gamora, and Outlaw attacking the Maestro. Stick observes from afar, disinterested. Eventually, the Maestro wins and the heroes are placed in healing crystals in preparation for tomorrow's match.

On Earth-Prime, White Fox continues her investigation into the death of South Korea's biggest hero, Gun-R, unaware it's about to draw her into the games...

The Grandmaster speaks with his Summoner, and we find out he is forbidden to cull players from the main universe, so he can only choose from alternate earths. We then learn who his Summoner is: Jake Gallows, the Punisher of 2099! And his team is ready for the next match. Venom (from a world where he killed Peter Parker)! Joe Fixit (Grey Hulk)! The Void (a younger Sentry)! Bullseye (an evil Elektra)! and Madame Hydra (a variation of the one from Hickman's SECRET WARRIORS series, the Viper with the squid on her head)!

Meanwhile, in his chambers, we discover that the Maestro has plans of his own devising to steal the Iso-8 stash for himself!

Okay, the set-up is done. The time for the matches is now, or rather next issue, as we will get Ares vs Sentry/Void and other battles. The Maestro and the Punisher 2099 are not only the Summoners, they are the leaders, too, so they will be in combat as well.

This is a great series so far. Interesting choices for players. Seems the Collector and the Grandmaster are trying to match one another by getting like characters. Stick...Elektra/Bullseye. The Maestro...Joe Fixit. Punisher 2099...Outlaw. And so on.

Having White Fox back on Earth-Prime investigating the disappearance and subsequent death of a player is cool because this means more is going on than just the contest. This thread will soon lead to bringing in another set of heroes who will become involved in this great cosmic game

Monday, September 19, 2016

Here Be...HULK!

A new She-Hulk title is coming in December 2016. It looks like Jennifer Walters gets out of her coma and may be suffering from brain damage...and she'll be grey. I'm very much interested in this new take on her, so I'll definitely be trying it!


Story by Chelsea Cain
Art by Kate Niemczyk and Ibrahim Moustafa

This series is really well-written. It's fun, exciting, and genuine. Lots of humor throughout each issue that is genuinely funny, and we get to see Bobbi in lots of action in different locales. These first five issues are one giant puzzle box, or puzzle sphere (as mentioned in the letters page for issue five). They are a medical mystery, which helps differentiate this book and the Black Widow, which is mostly spy action. Mockingbird, aka Bobbi Morse, is a spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D., too, like the Widow, but Chelsea Cain crafts tales that are not your typical spy stories, which is nice.

This first arc is made up of three done-in-one stories and a two-parter. There's a serious trick in reading these issues. The two-parter starts in #1 but doesn't actually end until #5, with the three in the middle being the one-offs. You can read the stories in a variety of ways. You can read them in order. You can read #1 and jump straight to #5. You can read 2-4 in any order you want. You can read 2-4 first, and then read #1 and #5. Or, you can read them in chronological order, which would be #1 (to a point), #2, #1 (from a point to another point), #3, #1 (from the second point to a third), #4, #1 (the last few pages), and finally #5.

The entire story revolves around Bobbi's ordered visits to a S.H.I.E.L.D. medical facility. Because she contains the Super Soldier Serum and the Infinity Formula inside of her body (both injected into her at a time when she was dying and this was the only way to save her), Bobbi must attend weekly medical check-ups, where she gets her blood drawn and is tested psychologically for any signs of trouble, physically and/or mentally. During one of her visits, Bobbi is given an experimental drug to see if it can help her further. After her initial visit at the beginning of MOCKINGBIRD #1, we follow Bobbi chronologically into MOCKINGBIRD #2, where she heads to London, England to rescue her sarcastic, troublesome lover, Lance Hunter. It seems he infiltrated the Hellfire Club there and ended up involved in a ceremony intended to "induct" him into membership orchestrated by Emma Steed, the Black Queen, who amazingly was last seen over a decade ago in the original EXCALIBUR series during Warren Ellis's run. The art is amazing in this series. Kate Niemczyk is a delightful find. She draws all sorts of great details in every panel, including amusing bits and pieces to make you smile and chuckle. This issue in particular has her flipflopping gender sexualization. In this case, instead of seeing all the women in corsets and stockings and such, we see the men in tight black leather combinations, or barely anything at all.

When the Black Queen tries to use her telepathic abilities on Bobbi at one point, Bobbi actually absorbs the attack with a psychic ping pong ball, something that she can now do thanks to whatever the experimental drug did to her system. In the end, Bobbi saves Lance, and the Black Queen is defeated.

We follow Bobbi back into MOCKINGBIRD #1, where we see her a week later (from the previous scene in the issue) in her black leather attire, sitting in the waiting room. She gets her blood drawn and is psychologically tested. After the appointment, we follow Bobbi into MOCKINGBIRD #3, where she helps a young Inhuman girl named Rachel whose power involves color. Among other things, she can actually suck the color out of a person's red blood cells and kill them, although this is something she'd rather not do. Rachel also has her friends trapped in a color bubble, and the police are trying to save them, but Mockingbird discovers the girl trapped them accidentally and doesn't know how to turn off her power to free them. Ultimately, Bobbi saves the day. The friends are freed, although there was a cost: A reporter ends up dead after Rachel sucks the color out of his red blood cells.

After this incident, we follow Bobbi back to #1 again, where we see her in the waiting room wearing her costume. She again has her blood drawn and undergoes psychiatric evaluation, after which we follow her to MOCKINGBIRD #4. In this issue, Bobbi rescues her ex-husband Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) after his capture in an underwater base operated by T.I.M., a branch of A.I.M. that wears red beekeeper suits instead of yellow. While a group called T.I.M. may sound a bit silly, it's actually amusing and simultaneously series at the same time. T.I.M. stands for Total Idea Mechanics, and they have been messing with a biological virus that has been responsible for a series of unexplained mass animal deaths, such as the one Bobbi comes upon at the beginning of the issue.

So sad. In any case, Bobbi investigates and discovers through a blood sample that whatever killed the animals is in her own bloodstream as well! This takes her to the underwater base and her rescue of Clint. After messing around with Clint (they were once married, after all), Bobbi returns to the medical facility and to MOCKINGBIRD #1, where we see her responding to a disturbance involving what appears to be a horde of zombies!

So, in MOCKINGBIRD #5, Bobbi fights off the zombie hordes with her telepathic power, which has now seemed to evolve. But she isn't alone: Howard the Duck and Miles Morales/Spider-Man are also there...as patients. Howard amusingly mentions that the zombie attack must be the reason why he's been waiting 45 minutes for the doctor to show up. Miles has the measles. During the action, Bobbi discovers the truth: The experimental drug given to her by one of the doctors was a virus she created using Bobbi's own blood samples, and it has evolved into something that is responsible for all the mass deaths of various animals. Bobbi is rightfully infuriated that the doctor took her blood and crafted a biological WMD out of it. It's not only evil, but it also violated her patient rights.

In the end, Bobbi saves the day. There is an anti-viral that she can take that will eliminate the virus. However, Bobbi comes to the conclusion that the virus has evolved her. And she believes in human evolution, as she is a biochemist herself. And since the virus is not contagious and will die out in the system of its receivers, Bobbi destroys the anti-viral, thus keeping the new telepathic powers she obtained from the virus and the evolution it brought about within her.

Quite the complex storyline Chelsea Cain concocted. And fun, too. It's a different way to read a storyline, and it's the kind of thing that comics need so things won't get stale. I hope Marvel sees what it has with both Chelsea and the artist, Kate, and continues to utilize them. They are solid female creators and deserve the attention.

On a side note, I liked how Chelsea Cain wrote herself in the story by the end. We've seen this happen from time to time with other creators in various Marvel comics since the 70s. In this case, the scuba suit Bobbi wears in #4 and #5 was given to her by Chelsea, and a letter written by Chelsea at the beginning of #5 in the recap section asks Bobbi to please give her the suit back when she's done with it, as it is special to her.

This is definitely a book worth your time. I, myself, am looking forward to reading the next issue, a Civil War II tie-in story this time involving a murder mystery on a cruise ship hosting cos-players that is drifting dangerously near the Bermuda Triangle, which is the home to a portal that leads to Weirdworld!

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Written by James Asmus and Charles Soule
Art by Stephano Caselli

Since it seems to be Crystal day today, how about a review of the first issue of her (fairly) new book. It begins in Australia, where Gorgon, Flint, and Grid investigate the latest target of the Terrigen Mists, which has been wandering the globe and setting off the Inhuman gene within people. They are attacked by a paramilitary group who has a NuHuman locked in a cage. Our fearless Inhuman ambassador arrives declaring the act inhumane. One of the soldiers is named Jack, and he hates Crystal and the Inhumans and blames them for the fact that he, too, has become an Inhuman. But his comrades turn their guns on him, as he is what they hate. The fight ends when Flint creates a powerful shockwave that finishes off the attackers, although he didn't intend on the blast being so powerful. While all of this happened, a cloaked Naja made her way to the cage and freed the imprisoned NuHuman girl. The girl's name is Ash Minnick, and she says she lost her emotions when she emerged from her Terrigen Mist created cocoon.

Later, Crystal and Gorgon report the event to Medusa and much is mentioned about Gorgon being paralyzed and also being the trailer for the NuHumans. Crystal compares him to Professor X and says he'll be fine. They are interrupted by Swain, the commander of the Royal Inhuman Vessel, which works as an embassy for New Attilan, the home and capital of the Inhuman "nation". Swain tells them they have found a Skyspear, one of around 18 or so Skyspears that came out of nowhere a few months ago and embedded themselves all over the world. No one knows what they are, what they can do, or what their purpose is. The only thing known so far, from Gorgon, is that one of the glyphs imprinted upon them seems to be an ancient Kree dialect that translate to the word "genocide". Swain then announces that the Terrigen Cloud has reached the third world country known as Sin-Kong.

A good start to the series. The story effectively introduces the main players and the purpose of the title. Crystal is not only the ambassador of the Inhumans, but she is also the leader of a cadre of Inhumans who have been tasked to ease relations with humans, find NuHumans, and discover the mysteries of the Skyspears. This book, to me, acts similar in vein to the original X-FACTOR series in that Asmus is Soule's Simonson and the series gives us another title to feature characters not seen in the main series. And with Crystal busy here, she remains unaware that her sister (and the Inhuman queen Medusa) is secretly in a relationship with Crystal's former first love, the Human Torch.

Jack, the militant NuHuman who hates what he's become, is actually going to be a supporting layer for a little while, and the NuHuman girl Ash is going to join the team, so she is also important.

Sin-Kong. Wow. This little country first appeared way back in 1965 in AVENGERS I#18 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. I love it when a writer utilizes something or someone or someplace from the vast history of the Marvel Universe instead of just making up some new thing. This means we'll be seeing the country's leader, the Commissar, although there is a trick to him I'll mention in a review of the next issue (when I get to it).

There is actually a second story in this double-sized issue, and it's a treat for fans of a certain ex-X-Man. In this tale, which takes place three months prior to the first story in this issue, we see Swain welcome a UN delegation to the Royal Inhuman Vessel (RIV) and gives them a tour of the vast structure. The mutant (and former X-Man) Frenzy attacks the RIV in retaliation for the Terrigen Mists which are proving fatal to her kind. However, Crystal repels her assault. Once the delegates leave, Crystal takes Swain to the brig, revealing to her that Frenzy is there and that the attack was staged in exchange for Inhuman aid for mutants. Swain is appalled, but Crystal says that relations between mutants and Inhumans will be for the better with Frenzy's help, and they need this to further Medusa's idea to ease relations with everyone in the whole world, human and Inhuman and mutant alike.

It's good to see Frenzy back. She hasn't been around for a while, since her time with the X-Men. Her real name is Joanna Cargill, and she has super-strength and endurance. She also has the burden of not only being a mutant, but being African-American as well. She may or may not also still have feelings for Scott Summers, but since he's dead, this point is really moot.

My only gripe is that Frenzy isn't seen again in the series to date. The final issue, #11, will be out this month, but I don't think she'll make it in. Asmus did say he had plans for her, but it looks like cancellation beat him to the punch.

Here Be Crystal of the Inhumans

Today's review is a review of a comic book hero. Her name is Crystal Amaquelin. She is a member of the subspecies of humanity called the Inhumans. At some point when she was younger, she was exposed to the Terrigen Mists and developed superhuman abilities due to genetic modifications made by the Mists. She had the ability to psionically control all four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. She can also control other natural materials and phenomenon like electricity and metals. She is of the Royal Family of the Inhumans and is sister to their queen, Medusa. She also has a pet that loves her dearly, named Lockjaw.

She first appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR I#45, which was published in 1965. She became the first love of Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch. They were together for a while, but eventually her duty to the Inhumans separated them. She eventually came to save the life of Pietro Maximoff, the mutant known as Quicksilver. They were married and had a daughter named Luna. However, their marriage eventually broke down due to the psychic influence of Maximus the Mad, brother to the king, Black Bolt. He was vengeful after Crystal's role in his defeat during their previous encounter, so he influenced Crystal into having an affair with a human salesman named Norman. Quicksilver, at the time, had started neglecting Crystal and their daughter, mostly because he was training a militia for the Inhumans, but when he discovered her infidelity, Pietro became psychotic for a time, desiring vengeance against his wife, as well as against the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Maximus' influence was eventually revealed in X-FACTOR ANNUAL #2, but it was too late for the damage to be fixed, and the couple divorced later on.

Crystal's love for Johnny was rekindled when she returned to the ranks of the Fantastic Four, having served with them once before. However, by this time, Johnny was married to Alicia Masters (actually a Skrull named Lyja in disguise), so she eventually left the team and returned home after deciding that she didn't want to interfere with his relationship (which was actually already happening in subtle ways).

Some time after that, Crystal joined the Avengers and developed a relationship with Dane Whitman, aka the Black Knight. That pairing eventually came to an end, and she concentrated on developing her skills as a warrior and a diplomat. She became involved with Ronan the Accuser, a member of the Kree race who genetically modified the Inhumans to start with back in the day. Their marriage, however, was a maneuver arranged by Medusa to strengthen an alliance between the Inhumans and the Kree Empire against the Skrulls, sworn enemies of the Kree. After some time passed, the two developed feelings for one another. But even this relationship came to an end (by decree of the Black Bolt)., although technically Crystal and Ronan are still married, I believe.

Presently, Crystal is back with the Inhumans, acting as their ambassador. She leads a group of NuHumans around the world in search of more new Inhumans created by the Terrigen Mists, as well as taking the lead in the investigation surrounding mysterious Skyspears somehow related to them.

Crystal is a well-loved Marvel character. She has proven herself time and time again, especially as a member of the Fantastic Four, a role for which she is very well-suited. However, there was a period of time where a lot of readers deemed Crystal a slut for having cheated on Quicksilver with the salesman. Even the reveal that Maxmius had been controlling both her and Quicksilver during that period didn't seem to fix this view, and it got worse as the years continued when other writers got their hands on the character. The most notable thing to mention is that Crystal once slept with the Sentry. From

"Did you know that Crystal slept with the Sentry? This, I suppose fits a bit. She likes temperamental, impulsive men with light coloring it seems. Of course, she doesn't remember the affair. He does. Why? Because the Sentry was there in the Silver Age, and he had to have gone to the moon. And what could he have done on the moon? Why, he can sleep with Crystal, because she's just some dumb slut, right? Not because she married too young and let two guys push her into choosing one or the other. Not because of her own insecurities or desires. Nope, doesn't matter why Crystal did it, because that romance (unlike the ones with Johnny, Pietro, Ronan, and the couple guys she slept with while she was married to Pietro) had nothing to do with Crystal's situation or storyline. It was because sleeping with a moon princess is just something a Silver Age hero does. Crystal's love life? All About Bob."

I'm not sure exactly what issue it was that revealed Crystal's tryst with the Sentry, but it happened. Does anyone out there know when it was?

In any case, time apparently heals all wounds. As I mentioned, Crystal is back in the spotlight, notably in ALL-NEW INHUMANS as its lead character. My only gripe: Where is her daughter Luna? She hasn't been seen or even mentioned at all in the title. 


Thursday, September 8, 2016


Written by Tom DeFalco
Art by Paul Ryan and Danny Bulanadi

"The Monster Among Us!"

This issue is hated by most people, I think. It's the first issue by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan, who took over for Walt Simonson. It introduces a huge retcon that angered most fans...but not this one. This change I welcomed, for it fixed a storyline that should never have come to pass in the first place.

In simple terms, this issue has the Puppet Master searching for answers as to what is going on with his step-daughter, Alicia,the wife of FF member Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch. He goes to the Mad Thinker and gets those answers, and he is totally shocked. Meanwhile, Reed Richards has created a device that will scan the brain patterns of the entire Fantastic Four and their loved ones so he can prevent any of them from being controlled by outside forces. Later, an intruder breaks into the lab and tries to destroy the device and its results, but the Thing manages to drive the intruder away. Eventually, the Puppet Master contacts Ben Grimm and tells him what he has learned. Ben proceeds to try and kill Alicia, who is defended by her husband. Simultaneously, Reed examines the results of the brain scans and discovers a shocking secret. In the long run, Alicia is discovered to be a Skrull in disguise!

We will find out in the next issue that this Skrull is named Lyja, and she has been posing as Alicia Masters since around FANTASTIC FOUR #265, when the FF returned from the original SECRET WARS storyline. She was sent by the Skrulls to infiltrate the Fantastic Four and gather information on them. She took Alicia's place with the notion that she would use Alicia's love, Ben Grimm, as a part of this plan, but when Ben didn't return from Battleworld (where the Secret Wars took place) Lyja decided to form a relationship with Johnny and go from there. However, Lyja eventually fell in love with Johnny and it messed up the plans her superiors had devised.

So, fans were pretty pissed. Alicia was a Skrull all along? Nonsense! Looking back, past stories showed no indication of this, especially since a lot of things Alicia said and did back then contradicted this idea. But this is canon nonetheless, and it fixes a plot point that never should have been started in the first place: The relationship between Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters.

After Secret Wars, Ben Grimm chose to remain on Battelworld. Beforehand, he had ended things with Alicia, and his decision to stay away from home solidified things. So Alicia moved on...to Ben's close friend. Terrible. Absolutely terrible. There's an almost unspoken rule in relationships between people. You don't date the ex of your best friend, or any of your friends for that matter. As far as I'm concerned, it's a form of betrayal, which I see as humanity's worst of crimes. Worse than terrorism. Worse than rape. Worse than anything. Betrayal is an act committed upon a person by someone that is supposed to love you. There is no forgiveness for this. It is selfish. It is petty. It is wrong. It is a serious affront to all things. So, Johnny and Alicia getting together should never have happened. What the hell were they thinking? They certainly didn't care about what Ben thought. They only thought about themselves. Selfish. Petty. Wrong.

In FANTASTIC FOUR #277, when Ben Grimm comes home from Battelworld and goes to see Alicia at her apartment, we see what could be the greatest "WTF?" moment of all time in the history of comics...


And, boy, does Ben flip out. As well as he should. He even attacks Johnny, although in real life, this wouldn't be a good reaction,as it would lead to some jail time. But this, of course, is a comic.

In any case, I think Johnny and Alicia should never have gotten together. They should never have even considered it. Hell, they even got married. If Johnny was my friend and he did this to me, I'd write him off for life. Same thing with Alicia. They both crossed a line that should never be crossed. So when I found out that Alicia had really been a Skrull since she'd been with Johnny, I was very pleased. Didn't care if some things had been contradicted. Still don't. Was this the best way to retcon the situation? Perhaps not. Perhaps after Ben's return we could have seen a storyline between the three parties involved where Alicia was torn between both men, gradually swinging towards Ben. Alicia could have decided she loved Johnny but loved Ben more, and the couple could have then parted ways amicably, with Johnny eventually moving on (preferably back to Crystal, in my opinion). During the period, tension between Ben and Johnny could have been intense, interfering with their day-to-day lives as members of the Fantastic Four in a variety of ways.

But alas, things did not go this way. Or any other. Alicia turned out to be Lyja, a Skrull infiltrator, a character who I grew to love and eventually miss. And this issue is just the beginning of the turmoil to come in the lives of the Fantastic Four, as we will see in issues to come.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Welcome to Comic Hero Reviews, where I will review various comic book titles, both present and past. Please take a look around. Maybe you'll see a book you like and want to read comments about! What is probably my most cherished comic series in my collection is the original MS. MARVEL series written by Chris Claremont. Oh, but there's more I like, as you will soon see.

A word of warning, though. Each comic review contains spoilers, so if you haven't read the issue yet and don't want to be spoiled, then by all means please don't read any further! If you have, then I hope youenjoy the review, and please feel free to comment with your thoughts.

First up...

Written by Al Ewing
Art by Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco/Thomas Labourot

"The Life I've Left Behind Me"

Spinning out of SECRET WARS comes CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #1, a new ongoing series revolving around a cosmic game run by the Collector and the Grandmaster. Each Elder of the Universe pits a team of five heroes (with two support members) against one another for a huge prize: Isotope-8, which is a super-substance from the Neutral Zone -- right on the very edge of space-time itself -- formed of natural 8-atom clusters. Vast amounts of the substance were created as a by-product of universal rebirth after SECRET WARS; and because of its cubic structure, “Iso-8” is stable in normal space, which makes it very good for building cosmic cubes and other items of extraordinary power. As we open the series, the Collector has most of the Iso-8 being fought over, but the Grandmaster does still have a fraction of it.

The Collector and the Grandmaster both have Summoners, who are responsible for bringing to the game any superhero or super-villain of their choice from any parallel earth or timeline in the entire omniverse. The Collector's Summoner is the Maestro (formerly of Earth-9200, which was destroyed during the incursions that started SECRET WARS, and the Maestro has chosen to use only heroes from the Prime Earth (formerly Earth-616), while Summoner of the Grandmaster -- Jake Gallows, aka the Punisher of the alternate reality year of 2099 -- has chosen to use anyone from the wide variety of multiverses and timelines existing throughout reality, mostly because the Grandmaster isn't allowed to choose from the Prime Earth by the other Elders.

The entire Contest takes place in the Battlerealm, which contains the remnants of Battleworld after it exploded at the end of SECRET WARS.

We begin with Outlaw, aka Nigel Higgins, who first appeared in THE PUNISHER II#64. He is also known as "the British Punisher." He is currently living in Acomb, North Yorkshire, England. He's basically retired from the Punisher business, as he had begun to regret the decision that it had to be him to decide who lives or dies. His retirement is dashed, however, when he is forcibly summoned by the Maestro to the Battelrealm to participate in the Contest. He arrives on what is left of the Valley of Flame where he comes a match already in progress. Iron Man and Gamora from the the Prime Earth are engaged in battle against Venom (formerly of an Earth where he killed Peter Parker), Joe Fixit (the grey mobster version of the Hulk formerly from an unknown earth destroyed during SECRET WARS), and Moon Boy and Devil Hydrasaur (both likely from the Hydra Empire domain of Battleworld). Iron Man's armor is damaged during the battle, but with the help of Outlaw the heroes win. Moonboy and Devil Hydrasaur are eliminated from the Contest, while Venom and Joe Fixit are sent back to the Grandmaster's location. Our heroes are then transported to the Collector's joint, where they meet the Maestro, as well as the other members of the team, including Guillotine.

Meanwhile, on the Prime Earth, the South Korean heroine called White Fox investigates the death of Gun-R, a fellow hero, leading her on an eventual collision course with the Contest of Champions!

Guillotine gets her own back-up story where we learn her name is Jeannine Sauvage. She's French and is a vigilante, using her cursed sentient sword (called La Fleur du Mal) to rid Paris of its evil elements. Due to the dark legacy surrounding others who had her name and weapon before her, Jeannine's got a bit of a dubious reputation and is wanted by the police; more specifically, her fiance, Marc Jubert. In this particular story, Guillotine helps capture someone called the Imp Prince, after which she confronts her sword for trying to influence her into killing the Imp Prince to appease its hunger for blood. However, Guillotine is then captured by a Summoner and brought to the Battlerealm to participate in the Contest as a member of the Collector's team.

This issue is a great start to what I think of as a continuation of the Secret Wars theme. I've read that some readers thought this should have been a Secret Wars mini-series along with the rest of them, but I'm glad it came out afterwards so it can tell its own story. Battleworld may be gone, but now there is only the Battlerealm.

The characters chosen so far are nice, although I could personally do without Venom, alternate counterpart or otherwise. Iron Man and Gamora are the bigger heroes involved here, although this will prove to be problematic since it was said in the ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT MARVEL POINT ONE #1 that a hero who would be noticed missing, one with too many important ties, shouldn't be taken for the Contest. We'll see more about this in subsequent issues.

Another character of note is Stick, the former mentor of Daredevil and Elektra. He is alive and well here, so it seems, but we'll learn more about how he returned to life in a future issue as well.

Isotope-8, it should be mentioned, actually originated in the Marvel Avengers Alliance game on Facebook, which I enjoy playing on a daily basis. In this game, there are wide varieties of Iso-8, both in properties and in color. Right now, in the comics, we've seen in this book and THE ULTIMATES only one or two colors.

And so, the Contest of Champions begins...


Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Andrea Broccardo

As far as I'm concerned, this is really an X-Men event, with some ties to Civil War II. They could have published this as a four-issue crossover story in the main books, EXTRAORDINARY and UNCANNY, but doing it this way is much better so people don't have to get the issues of the book they don't get, if they don't get them both. Like me. I don't get EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN. Just UNCANNY X-MEN.

Essentially, Magneto, Psylocke, M, and Sabretooth go to Dubai to rescue some rich mutants who have locked themselves away in a fortified tower to escape the Terrigen Mists, which have made their way to the city. Magneto makes it so the poor mutants get in on the protection, too, before the entire group are attacked by Prime Sentinels from the Operation Zero Tolerance/Bastion period of UNCANNY X-MEN in the 1990s. One of them blasts a gigantic hole in the window,so now Magneto and his teammust get everyone to safety before the Mists overwhelm them all. But doing this and fighting off the Prime Sentinels proves to be difficult, until Storm and her Extraordinary X-Men arrive to lend a hand. The Sentinels are eventually destroyed and the mutants are saved, but Magneto isn't pleased when Psylocke and M discover (through telepathy) that Storm was tipped off by an Inhuman precognitive named Ulysses.

In fact, he's incensed. He blames the Inhumans for the Terrigen Mists sterilizing and killing mutants, and he refused any sort of help from them, while Storm thinks mutants and Inhumans should try and get along and help one another. I have to say that Magneto's concerns are valid, which is interesting since he normally spends time trying to terrify the human race in one way or another. But Storm's opinion is also valid. Mutants and Inhumans should try to work together to solve their problems, instead of just punching and beating one another. We're getting a new variation of the old Xavier/Magneto conflict here from the old days.

The issue ends with Magneto, Psylocke, M, and Sabretooth back at their base in the Savage Land plotting what to do next. Nightcrawler suddenly appears and announces he is not here to fight, but to join them!

A nice start to an interesting storyline so far. This book is showing our first ever meeting between the Extraordinary and Uncanny squads. We even see a little bit of nice reactions between some of the members, like when Nightcrawler voiced how happy it was to see Psylocke again, and when Old Man Logan and Sabretooth exchanged their crabby banter towards one another.

The art by Andrea Broccardo was very nice to look at as well. Similar in style to that of Paco Medina, I think.

I've been enjoying Bunn's run on UNCANNY X-MEN so far. I like the condensed membership, with Magneto, Psylocke, M, and Sabretooth as the main roster (with Archangel waiting in the wings, so to speak). Phantomex and Mystique were shown in various promos at the beginning, but they have so far proven to be just supporting players in sub-plots.

Plus, Bunn seems to be going fore a 90s feel here, using villains and supporting characters from that time period, such as the Dark Riders and Xorn. And that trend continues in this CIVIL WAR II: X-MEN mini-series with the return of Bastion's Prime Sentinels. Not that the 90s period of Marvel was something grand, mind you, but I appreciate someone who did like some of the characters introduced during that time (because they grew up reading about them, for one reason) and are using them in their stories now.

Come back soon for more various reviews!