Let’s take a break with Hercules and Psylocke

I get distracted when I find a good Hercules story, like the one I showed last time.  We’ll get back to our Spider-Man articles on Monday (especially because I haven’t actually shown a story starring Spider-Man yet), but as you end your week working diligently for The Man, relax and be delighted with this little love story from X-Men: To Serve and Protect #4, written by James Asmus and drawn by Eric Koda, Sandu Florea, & Miguel Munera.

This begins as most romantic tales do: halfway into the battle against a talking griffin.


From what you know about Hercules, he enjoys many of the simple pleasures in life: beer, punching, and ladies.  And I guess not wearing shirts.  While the beer’ll come later and the punching ends satisfyingly, that really only leaves one more desire left.  Like seducing a psychic ninja mutant.


Hercules almost certainly smells terrible and has prolific back hair.  But he is tall, strong, in fantastic shape, and speaks like he just left a performance of Macbeth.  While Psylocke can totally read minds, she didn’t really need to in order to recite our dear hero’s pick up lines.  By the way, those lines won’t work at your local bar.


I imagine many people’ll get upset over young Psylocke’s reaction to Hercules.  I totally get it. “Psylocke wouldn’t respond that way!” “Psylocke wouldn’t fall for Herc’s lines!”  Maybe.  But the beauty of a being a fictional character is that if this pairing upsets you, retcon it in your brain or something.  And even as an adult man, if a god beat up a supervillain in front of me and offered to carry me to his bedroom, I’d need a few moments to consider.  Especially gods wearing huge belt buckles with their initial on it.



Yes, they totally hook up.  Proof in a few pages, but I’d like to believe this story ends with Psylocke retaining her good role model for young independent women characterization.  Because unlike many superheroes (say, Hercules), she learns from her mistakes.  And while I wouldn’t call sleeping with the promiscuous Hercules a complete mistake (maybe if he provides a doctor’s note), she realizes in the past few years that she should devote her attention to stable relationship-orientated men instead.  Like the heir of Apocalypse’s eternally damned empire.  Or a schizophrenic self-absorbed French thief. Much better choices.



Understand this: sure, Hercules flirts repeatedly with any girl who doesn’t wear pants to the point of both wild overconfidence and frenetic charm, but he’s always and forever a proper gentlemen.


Well, close enough.

A Spider-Man love story interlude

Thanks to my new best friend Doug Fuchs (whose website you should totally visit), I realized how long it’s been since a Spider-Man article.  So let’s have a week of them.  Or two.  Or three.  We deserve it.

I know I’m not interrupting anything, and an “interlude” title makes no sense, but today I want us to see an adorable little side story from Spider-Man Unlimited #4, written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Cory Walker & Scott Hanna.  And truthfully, Spider-Man only plays a side role (a punching side role).  But when something charms me like this short story does, I’d be a jerk not to share it with those I love (readers).



A man trapped in an ongoing bank robbery witnesses the girl of his dreams.  No better way to tell your grandkids how you met than during a traumatic bonding experience.  I’m a big fan of blossoming love, especially in comics.


Do you know the supervillains Powerhouse and Masterblaster?  You do?  You’re amazing, because they’re wildly minor X-Men villains.  I had to look them up on Wikipedia.  Oh yeah, and Spider-Man shows up.  His name adorns the title of the series, after all.


Sometimes I’m surprised dojos don’t line every street corner in New York City.  The collateral damage these superpowered fights alone involves expertly dodging all sorts of glass, rubble, and recently kung fu’d bodies.  Sure, Spider-Man can do a flying jump kick across a city block, but he can’t web every piece of debris hurling through the air.  I mean, he probably could, depending on the writer (or in my heart).




You wonder why people think Spider-Man’s a menace?  Because they see buildings collapse around them every day from his brawls.  Captain America goes to space, announces he took down Thanos, and everyone politely claps.  Or maybe propaganda’s in bad taste when the man holds the name of our country.  And fought in every major battle of World War II.  And went into space and took down Thanos.  Either way, at least Spider-Man didn’t prevent true love today.




See?  Super charming.  You’re in a better mood for having read this story.  Next time we’ll jump into Spider-Man’s supporting cast.  It’s investigative, which is when I feel the most important.

The Thing’s fiancée, Pt. 2

When we left off on Friday, the Thing (Ben Grimm) and Deb Green just got engaged.  Happiness ensues, and the two begin to plan the rest of their life together.  A rare happy ending in the plethora of superhero tragedy.


I could end the article right here.  Except for one little problem I brought up last time.  That and about twenty images left.  Remember Deb’s ex-boyfriend Jason?  He was that dude with obnoxiously long hair, and angry that Deb started dating a rock monster, Jason decided to go public with details of her past.  Being a teacher from Brooklyn, her dirt isn’t terribly dirty, but she is a celebrity now.  And you know how we treat celebrities.


He’s lying.  Deb knows it.  Ben knows it.  The world knows it.  But y’see, it’s not his accusations that make this part important — it’s how the Thing reacts to the accusations.  Hint: not well.



The following two pages give Ben more of a beating than any number of Doctor Dooms could ever hope.  Y’know, because it’s an emotional dressing down on live TV.



I want to believe this scene happened for two reasons.  First, to showcase Deb as not just another supporting character — as in who cares that the Thing’s marrying some ordinary girl?  Well, there’s a strength within her that normal ladies don’t possess, and it’s that strength that attracted the Thing to her in the first place.  Probably.  More importantly, have you realized the Thing doesn’t wear shoes? Like ever?  Even on television shows?

Anyway, Ben has to apologize, because the Marvel universe firmly stands against bullying.



Unlike superheroes with secret identities, the bad guys know who the Fantastic Four are, where they live, who they’re dating, and what they’re doing most of the time.  No secrets in the genius business.



I think we underestimate the power of the Thing.  The dude can lift over a hundred tons, about ten times the strength of Spider-Man.  He can run a good twenty-four hours before getting tired.  The guy’s rock body can withstand anything from a punch from the Hulk to a range of severe heat and cold. While by no means invincible (the Thing has died and been resurrected before), his superpowers can make him devastatingly powerful compared to superheroes without his degree of strength, much less civilians.

If Ben loses his temper, which happens far more often than comfortable, the damage he can cause could be catastrophic.  How can Deb feel safe around that?  Well, I assume the continuing declaration of Ben’s love for her certainly helps.  That and despite everything I’ve just said, the Thing’s a gentle giant — after all, the Thing does live with Reed and Sue’s two young children, who adore him above all else.  We as readers can suspend our disbelief that cosmic rays turned the Thing into an orange rock monster, but we would never buy that he’d actually hurt the people he cares about.  Which is also the same reason the next scene has to happen.



At least the Thing wears shoes to his wedding.  So I usually read the comics I write about three or four times each.  Once for the initial reading, again when I convert the pages into jpegs, a third time as I write the first draft, and a fourth as I edit for the final article.  And every time, this next scene destroys me.  Ruins me.


Underneath the Thing’s jovial personality lies a thick goo of self-loathing.  The guy’s a rock monster against his will, after all.  I mean, Luke Cage gets the unbreakable skin and super strength all while still keeping his dashing good looks.  But poor Ben Grimm must suffer his skin condition to be the superhero he knows he needs to be.  And so when you think of a list of superheroes who deserve to be happy — I’m talking who’ve truly earned the right to be loved — the Thing’s name pops up immediately.  And let’s not even get into his horrible childhood either.

But as Ben’s been fighting the good fight for roughly a decade and a half, he understands the world he lives in.  As much as he deserves Deb’s love, a superhero’s wife isn’t the lifestyle wished upon anybody.  If only because with the superhero must also come the supervillains.




Along with the four superheroes brought up above — Daredevil’s girlfriend Karen Page, Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Bruce Banner’s wife Betty Ross, and Namor’s wife Lady Dorma — the sheer amount of women who have died because of their relationship with superheroes is staggering.  Just with a quick bit of research we have Professor X’s girlfriend Moira McTaggert, Green Lantern’s girlfriend Alex DeWitt, Flash’s wife Iris West, Captain Britain’s girlfriend Courtney Ross, Batman’s girlfriend Kathy Kane, etc., and that doesn’t even include the children such as Arsenal’s daughter Lian Harper and Aquaman’s son Arthur Curry Jr.

Frustratingly, the Thing knows all this.  Every last detail.  And that’s why he can’t get married.




As for the Thing?  He’ll bounce back, because like his rocky exterior, he has no other choice.



The Thing’s fiancée, Pt. 1

When the Fantastic Four had their rocketship bathed in cosmic rays, the Thing lost everything. The others, for the most part, stayed themselves only with super cool new powers. But poor Ben Grimm, now a six foot, five hundred pound rock monster, had a lifetime of self-loathing ahead of him. But don’t feel too bad.  With his appearance and strength, he did become filthy rich, a major celebrity, an Avenger, and has saved the world dozens of times. A worthy trade, I’m sure. And today, he finds love.

I’m going to be showing you scenes from a fifteen comic run. We’ll start at the relationship’s beginning and go all the way to the relationship’s conclusion because I’m way too good to you all.  To save me trouble, I’m unloading all the issues used here:
Fantastic Four #554, written by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch and drawn by Paul Neary
Fantastic Four #555, written by Millar & Hitch and drawn by Neary & Hitch
Fantastic Four #558, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #559, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #560, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #562, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #563, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #564, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #565, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #566, written by Millar and drawn by Hitch
Fantastic Four #568, written by Millar & Joe Ahearne and drawn by Hitch & Neil Edwards
Fantastic Four #569, written by Millar & Joe Ahearne and drawn by Stuart Immonen

I know it’s a doozy.  Please understand that I’m not going to cover any of the fights.  Not one.  And oh, the fights are amazing.  Here’s a tease to lick those bloodthirsty lips of yours:



By the way, the final arc of Millar’s run contains one of the best Fantastic Four vs. Dr. Doom battles ever written.  You should treat yourself.  Anyway, our story begins innocently enough. When not saving the world, the Fantastic Four like to do some philanthropic work, and what student wouldn’t enjoy an appearance by respectable, lovable superheroes?



Mr. Fantastic’s marriage is fine.  Sort of.  Now, the Fantastic Four have a unique position in the superhero world.  Think of the team as a business.  They possess no secret identities and the Baxter Building (where they live) is well-known and prominent in the New York skyline.  Reed supports the family through government contracts and patents while occasionally taking a break to defeat Galactus or whatever.  None of them are public menaces.  I’m just saying Spider-Man waltz into a school.

Oh, and want to see how the Thing flirts?  Of course you do.



Don’t be surprised.  For one, the Thing’s in good shape (for being covered in stones).  Also, he’s a celebrity, and you know the kind of power that has over women.  Regardless, Ben still has to win her over the hard way.  Y’know, hard like a rock monster.  By the way, if you’ve never read Fantastic Four comics, this is how Mr. Fantastic always talks:


From there, the romance blossoms.  How could Deb not like the Thing?  He can spout a decade of exciting stories, he has a delightfully confident personality, and he’s completely hairless.  Plus, free rides in the Fantasticar.



After a whole bunch of Human Torch subplots, the two lovebirds part ways for the night.  And what kind of love story would this be without an uncomfortable part of the past brought up?  I’m not talking about the Wizard or Mole Man, I mean from Deb’s past.


Though more on that Monday.  Pesky ex-boyfriends always cause so much trouble, even from totally normal civilians like Deb.  But if a spurned lover is all there is to dig up, thank goodness.  If she had superpowers, her ex would almost certainly be half-alien and half-octopus or something.

As the two become closer and the arc progresses, the Thing poses an important question.  A super important question.  Though since you’ve read the title of the article, I figure you can make a pretty good guess.




Spoiler alert: she says yes.



The drama picks up later in the arc, and I promise it’s juicy.  But this engagement does bring up an important issue: superheroes tend to live dangerous, brutal, and short lives.  And the supporting cast? Far scarier than actually throwing the punches.  Turns out supervillains lack that morality to not target the loved ones, friends, and families of their enemies.  Even with the Baxter Building  containing the most advanced security measures in the known world, the threat doesn’t go away.



Is he?  Well, you’ll find out Monday.  Or go look up the issues yourself, I can’t control what you do.

What ever happened to Green Lantern and Hawkgirl?

I remember the Justice League animated show of the mid-2000s fondly, if just because I was far too old to be watching children’s superhero cartoons.  In the series, many young fans had their first interactions with the Green Lantern John Stewart, who besides being an ex-Marine and gifted architect, was a prominent and respectable African-American superhero.  Diversity in comics is more important than you think — the original Justice League consisted of one women, one Martian, and five white dudes.

So when Warner Bros. came out with the TV show in 2001, they figured that John Stewart would be a welcome addition to their starting line up.  Then he and Hawkgirl fell in love.  Normally we’d all cheer and place our hands lovingly over our hearts, but as the series wrapped up, one giant plot twist stayed unsolved.  In Justice League Beyond #7-8, written by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen and drawn by Eric Nguyen, you can finally ease your worried mind and get your first good night of sleep in years.

The comic’ll explain the backstory better than I can.  If you’ve seen the cartoon, this is familiar ground:






Okay, caught up?  Basically, Green Lantern (born in Detroit) and Hawkgirl (an alien from the planet Thanagar) dated for a while until Hawkgirl’s people arrived on Earth and tried to destroy the planet.  That totally kills the mood, y’know?  So the two broke up and Stewart began a relationship with Vixen, but during one adventure when they traveled to the future, it turns out Green Lantern and Hawkgirl have a son together.

Now, I’m all for soap operas filling time when bad guys aren’t being punched, but as the series wrapped up, the status quo hadn’t changed.  Stewart and Vixen still cuddled passionately aboard the Watch Tower as Hawkgirl awkwardly looked on from behind the cafeteria walls.  Well, I’m here today to piece together those missing links.  Lucky you.

By the way, notice how the comic formatting looks different than normal?  Digital only, baby.  This series gets downloaded straight to your computer and away from those prying eyes of the Magic: The Gathering players sitting in the darkest corner of your local comic book store.  Don’t let their Cool Ranch Doritos fingers and Mountain Dew breath judge you, much like I’m judging Magic: The Gathering players.  Or is it Yu-Gi-Oh that the kids play now?

Anyway, we pick up with Stewart and Vixen on a date.  An important date.



What’s the most important rule of superhero comics?  Superheroes are meant to suffer.  Happiness remains fleeting in the world of capes and magic.  Unfortunately, Green Lantern learns this the hard way.  The very hard way.




Far bloodier than on TV.  Also, the TV show didn’t massacre supporting characters, but different artistic medium bring different rules, I guess.  With Vixen’s death weighing heavily on poor Stewart, it’s time he puts those superpowers to good use.  First, that weird shadow dude?  It’s the evil spirit of Hawkman, who even in death remains angry that Hawkgirl chose Green Lantern over him.  I’m serious:



As Green Lantern and Hawkgirl confront the Shadow Thief, the dark mood of the arc stays in full-blown effect.  Did you know that Stewart served as a sniper during his time in the Marines?  I thought you’d like to know.



In comics, no DC title contains more bloodshed and killing than the Green Lantern comics.  But in the cartoon world, the Green Lanterns like to keep their hands murder-free.  So when one of their own caps a baddie in the noggin, a moral spanking must be administered.



Look, it sucks having no Green Lantern, but Earth does have hundreds of other superheroes patrolling it.  Like a half dozen Kryptonians and a small village of Bat-people.  That’ll probably be enough.  For our two protagonists (and after Vixen’s funeral), the story ends romantically and happily, which is by far my favorite type of ending.



If you’re under the age of fourteen and haven’t seen the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons yet, go do so.  It’s well worth your time.  If you’re over fourteen, go watch them anyway — just don’t tell anyone.

Hawkman loves Hawkgirl

Today’ll be confusing and messy — you can’t talk about the Hawks without scratching a few heads. Surprisingly, for superheroes who fight shirtless and wield medieval weaponry, the Hawkman/Hawkgirl continuity may very well be the most perplexing in comics.  I can’t hope to get into all the details (mainly because I don’t know them), but I will try to explain as well as I can.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl are cursed to find each other, fall in love, and then get murdered or killed. Rinse and repeat every generation via reincarnation or something.  Thousands of years of this nonsense.  As we reach modern day, Hawkman lies dead.  Hawkgirl, now Kendra Saunders, has recently taken over the superhero mantle from her great-aunt.  Aliens from Thanagar (the planet where their wings and maces come from) figures now’s as good as time as any to bring back Hawkman.

We’re going to explore select scenes from JSA #22-31, written by David Goyer & Geoff Johns and drawn by Stephen Sadowski, Rags Morales, Michael Bair, & Peter Snejbjerg.  It’ll be fun, I promise.


Turns out the resurrection process requires a heaping dose of Hawkgirl.  Unfortunately, Hawkman and Hawkgirl remain forever linked, even if the former’s a man she neither knows nor has met.


Okay, ready for confusing back story part two?  So remember how she inherited the costume/skills from her great aunt?  It’s because Kendra committed suicide and her Aunt Shiera’s soul climbed inside, restoring Kendra to life.  And of course, Shiera and Carter had that whole great love thing going on.  So while Hawkgirl’s all Kendra, she has that chunk of Shiera floating inside her somewhere.





I agree, shirts get too confining when fighting crime.  Giant attachable wings?  Not so cumbersome, but a tank top’ll only get in the way of bashing criminals.  Anyway, Kendra (who as you can tell is already an emotional mess) takes this news about as well as most shocking proclamations of affection from strangers.


As they have a post-resurrection Thanagarian adventure, the romance only accelerates:




Kendra acts the only appropriate way you can when your great aunt’s former husband speaks like a perverted Romeo.  And to be fair to Hawkman, Kendra kinda is Shiera, who’s fated to tragically love him back.  Poor Carter hasn’t had to have a woman refute his advances in thousands of years. Luckily, something insane happens.

Now, I can’t make this next part up.  I’m giving you zero context, but the only way to defeat the evil bad guy, who’s now a giant rock monster, is through the power of Hawklove.  Note: this pick up line rarely works in real life:




Mission complete.  You would think that when a single kiss can explode supervillains on sight, Kendra would take Hawkman on his word.  But y’know, she only met the man a few days ago.  And he wears a bird costume.



When they all get back to Justice Society of America headquarters, the two of them have a moment to decompress.  After all, fighting hordes of zombie hawks doesn’t really provide an opportunity to properly discuss the situation.

While, I understand Kendra’s situation, I really have to stress once more that the girl’s an emotional nightmare.  I mean, she did only get all that cool Hawkgirl stuff because she attempted to kill herself. So her next decisions may not be good ones, but they at least fit convincingly with her character — a severely damaged character.



No, not this decision.  The next one:




Right?  Classic soap opera drama!  Allow me to introduce Sandy Hawkins (superhero name Sand — who, as you figure, controls sand).  He currently leads the JSA, which I guess makes for a lapse of leadership when making out with the girl Hawkman claimed dibs on.  The same man known for his short temper and weapon with spikes.



Watch as he gets friendzoned.  Too bad his winged buddy saw the whole thing.


We all agree the real victim still lies with Hawkgirl, right?  Terrible situation, lose-lose choices, and all in between smacking down bad guys.  Regardless, Hawkman’s a far scarier character than his costume lets you believe.


The “talk?”  One single page, which sets up the status quo for many, many years.  And truthfully, probably the only correct decision Hawkgirl can make in this dilemma.


The actual (and inevitable) romance between Kendra and Carter occurs in the Hawkman series give or take forty five issues in (and a good four years later).  It’s worth a read, especially if you enjoy mace-based combat.

Wolverine: a love story, Pt. 2

Sabretooth would be way more fun to hang out with than Wolverine.  Sure, Sabretooth (Victor Creed) oozes full-on psychopath, but at least he smiles once in a while.  Wolverine (Logan) spends most of his time brooding and drunk — who also by the way, currently stands as the moral center of the X-Men in Marvel comics nowadays.  We continue our story from Wolverine #13-19, volume 3, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Darick Robertson.  As we left off, a shady corporation kidnapped Wolverine’s feral girlfriend Native; our hero and his new sidekick Sabretooth head out to rescue her/murder a shady corporation.

By the way, remember the passionate off-panel love making in the previous article?  This is how dirty she was:


For someone with heightened senses, Wolverine certainly doesn’t seem picky about his lovers.

From a story point perspective, Sabretooth’s desire for revenge isn’t well backed up.  The businessmen may have cut him out of the deal to capture Native, but that’s not enough motivation for him to drive cross country and frantically wave his claws.  So, turns out the shady corporation made even eviler plans.



I never understood why bad guys would betray fellow bad guys.  Especially baddies with healing factors and a vengeful streak.  I mean, if a group of people betrays Spider-Man, he’ll throw a few punches and send them to jail.  But Sabretooth-level supervillains?  Someone’s going to get disemboweled.  On a more important note, why all this hoopla about kidnapping the wolf-girl?  How about both an explanation and a surprise?


Turns out Wolverine also has super sperm.  Basically, the shady corporation figures if they strap down Native once a month or so, they can extract the eggs and grow a bunch of Wolverines.  And what despot or crimelord wouldn’t pay top dollar for their very own Wolverine?

Anyway, the team up between Logan and his arch-nemesis comes to a screeching halt (it’s a pun):





See why Sabretooth would be more fun to hang out with?  As you can imagine, Wolverine’s plan is fairly straightforward.  Slash, jump, slash, repeat.  Not a complicated superhero.



I just realized that without the next page, Wolverine sounds like he’s about to, er, terminate the pregnancy.  Instead, he’s taking out the radiation pill that hinders her healing factor.  I aim to be non-controversial.

And on the other side of the base?




Exactly how much does he hate his former employers?  He spites them more than Wolverine, who left him braindead while being pinned under a car.  That sort of hatred runs deep.  Unfortunately for our protagonist, Sabretooth doesn’t like to leave business unfinished, such as say that whole Native problem.  Supervillain obligations, y’know?


I present to you a page of bliss, with the only time Logan seems content the whole arc:


Y’see, Wolverine still has enemies.  Tons of enemies.  So to protect Native’s and his unborn child, he’ll ship her up to Professor X’s school where the world’s most manipulative powerful telepath resides.  And the next moment everything goes wrong, because Wolverine has horrific luck with happiness.


Bad news: Sabretooth finds her first.



His reasons for killing her do make sort of sense.  I mean, they’re selfish and evil, but his points are valid.  Sabretooth knows she’ll eventually get recaptured and once again have her reproductive goodies sucked out.  Comic books tend to repeat themselves every few years.  With an army of obedient Wolverines on the market, Sabretooth won’t be able to make his living as an actual for-hire Wolverine. Well, that and to spite his arch-nemesis.  Sabretooth hates Wolverine and competition equally.

The end result?


Maybe Wolverine has valid reasons for always being grumpy.



By the way, I cut out two Wolverine vs. Sabretooth fights, Logan’s inner man or animal struggle, Wolverine and Native bonding, tons of bad guy characterization, and so much more. It’s well worth your time to go pick up this book.

Now wipe your tears off the keyboard.  Next time, we’ll do something happy, I promise.

Wolverine: a love story, Pt. 1

For being a dirty, hairy, smelly little man, Wolverine has quite the impressive list of past lovers. Unfortunately, Wolverine’s love life is forever plagued by tragedy and suffering.  Wolverine’s killed wives, seen his wives killed, killed in front of his wives, etc.  Y’see, these women represent the best of humanity — sophistication, forgiveness, sensitivity — all traits Wolverine lacks.  So maybe to form a long-lasting romantic connection he needs to find someone different, like say, exactly like him. Exactly like him.  Today, we’re wishing Wolverine luck in Wolverine #13-19, volume 3, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Darick Robertson.


Oh yeah, Sabretooth (aka Victor Creed) plays a prominent part as well.  If you aren’t familiar with Wolverine’s arch-nemesis, he has the same feral instincts, powers, and general contempt as our protagonist.  Every year or so, they claw each other up, heal, rinse and repeat next year.  Today, Sabretooth’s making some easy cash.  Well, it’s supposed to be easy.



Regardless, Sabretooth didn’t get to the top of the supervillain food chain by being a dummy.  Instead of risking another month of hunting just to be ripped open again, he figures maybe he could have someone else waste that time for him.  Y’know, someone who’s not terribly busy at the moment.




Weapon X: the secret evil group that brainwashed Wolverine into a mindless killing machine.  Turns out some leftovers run around the local woods.  But bad memories aside, why would Sabretooth pick Wolverine to hunt for his employers?


Wolverine finds this specimen soon enough, because it’d be a terrible comic if he just wandered around the forest for seven issues.  As the fight progresses, I present to you the grossest thing I’ve seen in comics in a long time:



See?  A female Wolverine!  A failed Weapon X experiment currently more animal than man, which of course, means Wolverine has only possible option:


Ew.  Even if we assume the best, this wild woman hasn’t brushed her teeth in a decade.  Dirt, grime, and slime cover her entire body.  She certainly hasn’t shaved (or trimmed) any of her body hair in years.  I’m not saying she carries bear Herpes or anything, but maybe Wolverine could take her for a doctor’s visit before getting lost in passion’s embrace.

More importantly, Sabretooth messed up following/clawing them.



If you need just one reason to buy this book, Wolverine battling helicopters is worth the cover price alone.



For a man with very limited super strength/speed, zero projectiles, and a superhero costume consisting solely of jeans, Wolverine rarely loses.  Add that to his terrible temper (probably from having to recover from explosions and bullets every few days) and you get phenomenally awesome moments like this:


Unfortunately, while henchmen with Gatling guns don’t stand a chance against our hero, he can still be distracted.  Like how his wolf-girlfriend gets captured when he’s busy stabbing mercenaries.


Now, the situation’s far from hopeless.  We know from comics that any dilemma can be solved through the easiest trick in the superhero arsenal: the team-up.  After all, Wolverine’s a card-carrying Avengers.  Get Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, or Dr. Strange to back him up — any of them could easily rescue the animal-lady and enjoy a light brunch within the same day.  Unfortunately, Wolverine’s choices aren’t as luxurious.  Not at all.


To be continued indeed.  On Friday, Wolverine and Sabretooth save the day.  Or not.  Definitely one of those two.

Hank Pym loves Tigra

Let’s get this right out of the way.  In 1980, superhero Hank Pym instantly became the most despised Marvel character when this one panel forever destroyed his reputation:


And still today, many fans (some of whom weren’t even alive when that happened) haven’t forgiven him for backhanding his wife.  I’m not saying that a superhero’s domestic abuse crosses the line when supervillains’ serial murdering gets waved off as character development.  Pym definitely deserved a good decade or so of indignant hatred, but the unforgivable aspect from fans may be a bit overblown.

I mean at that time, his wife Janet fought crime as the superhero Wasp, who regularly got sliced up, lit on fire, smashed to pieces, and more every other day as an Avenger — at that stage in her career, she probably woke herself up in the morning with a backhand to the face.  Plus, as a Marvel comic supergenius, obligation dictates that Pym must carry a horrific character flaw.  Iron Man’s a severe, passionate narcissist.  Mister Fantastic loves science more than his wife.  Black Panther annulled his own marriage to Storm without telling her first.  And Dr. Doom, well, that guy’s a tyrannical dictator on his nicest days.  Etc.  Heightened intelligence comes with a catch.

Recently, during the Marvel event Secret Invasion, the shapeshifting Skrulls invaded Earth.   Janet sacrificed her life to save all her friends.  Also, a Skrull posed as Pym and knocked up the superhero Tigra.  Bad times for everyone.  We pick up after that.

Today, I’m using some scenes from the following issues:
Avengers Academy #2, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Mike McKone
Avengers Academy #6, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Mike McKone
Avengers Academy #7, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Mike McKone
Avengers Academy #12, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Tom Raney
Avengers Academy #13, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Sean Chen
Avengers Academy #14, written by Christos Gage and  drawn by Sean Chen
Avengers Academy #20, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Tom Raney
Avengers Academy #26, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Tom Grummett
Avengers Academy #12, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Karl Moline

Pym (now Giant Man) becomes the head instructor at Avengers Academy, where he can try to make a difference as a long-time Avenger and blah blah blah.  Also, his dating life sucks.



Oh yeah, Tigra teaches too.  Before inspiring teenage superheroes, some super leftover sore spots need mending first.


Now, this whole paternity thing tends to be confusing when aliens and ancient cat people get involved. Yes, Tigra loved Giant Man in the past, but that was a Skrull and not the actual Giant Man.  The impostor impregnated Tigra, but since Skrull shapeshifting takes place at a genetic level — the child has Pym’s DNA.  Which means Giant Man’s the dad, but not the father.



While neither Tigra nor Pym have the emotional capacity or stability to successful maintain parenthood, much less a relationship, the two will just do the best they can, gosh dang it.  Before a blast of Pym self-pity, I want you to keep these next few pages in your memory.  The dude’s an original Avenger for a reason:




Plus, he commands a young army of superpowered recruits:


Unfortunately, every badass moment drowns in Pym’s sea of self-hatred and overwhelming regret. Personally, I like the re-characterization of Pym as a powerful superhero struggling with powerless issues.  Just understand that he wears his tear-stained heart on his sleeve.  Luckily for our protagonist, every gallant move Pym makes to train these kids receives notice by his furry co-teacher.




One major benefit of this hook-up: both characters finally chow down on a slice of happiness pie that has been sorely lacking from both their lives the past year or so.  Even now, Giant Man continues to mourn his ex-wife and Tigra remains psychologically ruined from the Hood’s brutal torture.  If Daredevil swung through the window to join them in their moment of passion, Marvel’s sadness triumvirate could be healed all at once.

For all the fight scenes and teenage drama in Avengers Academy, you’ll have to buy the series.  But I plead to my fellow comic book readers: you can still hate Pym, but please forgive him.  This man has been on an apology-palooza tour for three decades straight.

The best I can do is show you Pym’s genuine maturity and growth.  As the series hits its unfortunate conclusion, his confidence and leadership soar — something embarrassingly and frustratingly lacking from the former superhero before then.




Awesome, right?  That’s Captain America-level inspiration going on.  Plus, once he starts to forgive himself, his relationship with Tigra can progress to its appropriate and mushy place.



No more, I’m afraid.  Until these two pop up again as regulars in a new series, I’ll accept this as a well-deserved happy ending.

The tragic love of Black Adam & Isis

Let me tell you a story.  A brutal dictator sits on a throne, ruling his people with a tightly clenched iron fist.  A foreign group, hoping to make peace, sends this dictator the most beautiful woman in their land (and two million dollars cash).  Initially unswayed, this dictator falls for this woman’s charms, changing into a kinder, gentler, wonderful man.  Then she gets murdered by a disease spewing supervillain. Welcome to the origin story of Black Adam and Isis.

To be honest with you, my Captain Marvel/Shazam knowledge falls perilously embarrassing.  I do know this: Billy Batson, a young preteen, finds a secret wizard lair who turns him into the adult superhero Captain Marvel every time he screams “Shazam!”  I’m talking Superman-levels of strength. But centuries ago, the wizard’s first attempt Black Adam (real name Teth-Adam and an ancient, skinny Egyptian prince) ended badly when all that awesome power in his muscle-bound superhuman form made the royal into a murdering jerk.  More importantly, Captain Marvel and Black Adam consider themselves arch-nemeses.  Though with all that power, something must be said about Black Adam when his greatest foe is a twelve year-old.

We pick up today in the finale of Black Adam: The Dark Age #6, written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Doug Mahnke.  Black Adam, finally having gathered all the magical amulets/bones of his lost love Isis, seeks assistance from fellow evildoer Felix Faust for the exciting revival.


Doesn’t work.  Not enough magical power left or something like that.  As expected, Black Adam doesn’t take the news terribly well.



You know why supervillain teams don’t have the lasting power and teamwork that the good guys have? Turns out supervillains tend to be a tad selfish.  Like say, Felix Faust tricked his buddy with the wrong skeleton so he could revive Isis in private and have the gorgeous queen for himself.  That could totally happen.


We pick up a while later, in Justice Society of America #23-25, written by Geoff Johns & Jerry Ordway and drawn by Ordway.  Now, I’m not opposed to supervillains having their emotions defiled.  We all know they deserve it.  But a certain risk comes from lying to a man with the powers of a god when Faust is basically the David Blaine of bad guys.  And when Black Adam discovers Faust’s scheme, well, you know.



Notice anything different about Isis than from the story told at the beginning?  Remember how Isis’ kindness and passion actually drove Black Adam to abandon his evil ways?  No more of that.  After being killed, resurrected, and then ravished by Faust for months, her generosity subsided sharply. Plus, her dear brother got murdered recently before this.  The girl has been through a lot, but first step of business — gather up some of the cool Shazam magic.



Presently, Billy Batson guards the Shazam power as the new wizard.  I mean, he used to.  Because after this fiasco, the kid’s totally powerless.  Though Isis just received a delightful new set of skills.


Unfortunately, her definition of pestilence, famine, war, and death has become slightly more broad than before.  Such as everyone everywhere.


The Justice Society of America (JSA) shows up in Black Adam’s country to stop all this madness. Superheroes tend to have a fairly assuming attitude towards evil when it rips apart any usefulness Captain Marvel used to possess.  To be fair, Black Adam’s still sort of a villain.  Isis’ plan to massacre most of the world isn’t going to cost Black Adam any sleep, and just to ensure victory, he even hires some outside help:


Meet Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel’s sister.  She used to share some of that delicious Shazam power, but now she’s all evil and Black Adam-y.  And a dominatrix, I guess.  Here, appreciate some extra Billy Batson characterization:


More on those two later.  Currently, Black Adam battles the JSA outside his castle/manor/lair.



And while Black Adam almost certainly has the power to take out the entire JSA singlehandedly (especially now that Billy can’t summon Captain Marvel), the whole situation gets far worse when the blushing bride shows up.



Look, Black Adam’s all for death and destruction, but those people Isis wiped out?  They were his people. His subjects.  His responsibility.  He stands proudly as their protector and caretaker — that’s the point of a ruler.  Now our dear king has to choose between his country and his lover.  Plus, Mary Marvel turned Captain Marvel into a leather fetishist like herself:


When all seems hopeless, when Black Adam has to pick between two horrific evils, a third option presents itself.  A still terrible option, but way better than smushing either his love into paste:



By sacrificing his own Black Adam power (that’s what he looks like normally) to revive Shazam himself, the wizard can use his revitalized strength to strip Isis of her craziness and power.  Except for one small problem: old men get grumpy when encased in stone.



With that, the story of Black Adam and Isis ends.  I’m serious — when the DC universe rebooted, both of them were still statues.  Plus, Billy Batson hadn’t received his stripped power back from Shazam as well.  Lately, rumors have spread that Black Adam will play a part in the upcoming DC event Trinity War, but until then, the fate of these two lovers remains forever star-crossed:


Wipe that single tear off your cheek.