Monday’s Mutant of the Day is Karma

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Monday’s Mutant of the Day is Karma aka Xi’an Coy Manh

 

Mutants are back and in fashion. With two new television shows, The Gifted and the New Mutants soon to come; the world of the X-Men now seems to once again be in vogue. So let’s take a look at the one of the original cast members of the first New Mutants to hit comicdom back in 1982.

 

Xi’an Coy Manh was born in Vietnam and fled the communist takeover during the Vietnam War. She and her remaining family were among the boat people who were able to flee the country. Due to the influence of the French during this period in Vietnam’s history, Xi’an speaks French and English with a French accent. Her mutant powers give her the ability to take control of another person’s mind as well as other psionic powers. She takes the name of Karma.

 

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As Karma, she if one of the five founding members of the New Mutants. She was the oldest of the group and soon became its leader, and also one of the first major lesbian characters in a mainstream comic book.

 

Karma was created by Chris Claremont and Frank Miler, with her first appearance being in Marvel Team-Up #100 in 1980. Though she has never become one of the major players in the X-Men universe, her impact should not be diminished. If Marvel was so high on diversity as it tries to make everyone believe, what was the point of making the Iceman gay? They already had a female, gay character that was actually a minority. They just had to dust her off and bring her out of the Marvel closet and into the mainstream of comics again.

 

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Karma still exists, after M-Day, she retains her powers and joins the rest of the X-Men on Utopia. She would leave Utopia to join the Jean Grey School and fights from time to time with the rest of the mutants.

 

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The Oz Effect – so far

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Action Comics #987, part one of The Oz Effect, gained media attention for a set of panels where Superman saves a group of immigrants from being killed by an angry white male American. The would be killer was of course working class, lacking a college education, middle aged factory worker who finds himself out of a job because the company he once worked for hired cheaper, non English speaking workers who would do what he did for much less without complaint. Of course this gained lots of mainstream media attention in the current political climate. But for comic book readers, this panel was just a piece of a much bigger picture. A piece of what may be one of the better Superman story arcs to be written for sometime.

Action Comics begins the arc of The Oz Effect. This tale asks the question, the big question, what if? What if a Kryptonian landed on Earth and was not raised by the Kents? What if, instead, the Kryptonian was instead subjected to and witness to the horrors of mankind. What if this Krytonian lived among the oppressed and tortured villagers of a war ravaged third world country. And it answers the very question, who is Oz?

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I waited until Action Comics #988, part two of the Oz Effect was out before I wrote this review because I didn’t want to spoil the awesome and freaking cool reveal in #987.

Oz is Jor-El, Superman’s father! He survived the destruction of Krypton, was spirited away by an unknown entity and sent to Earth. But he was also shown all the evil that is humanity. The cruelty and tortures and then subjected to witnessing them done to the very people who tried to care for him. Jor-El is convinced that Earth is doomed and unworthy of the gift he has given them of his son. He believes that Superman must leave Earth forever.

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This is the story I have been waiting for ever since Dan Jurgens took over the helm of Action Comics. I will even forgive the gimmicky covers, even that will not deter me from enjoying the story inside. For the record, I find gimmicky, or multiple variant covers like the ones that Marvel is vomiting out right now for all its titles, annoying. If the story is worth it, I will follow the book. Walk into any comic book shop and you will see the clients, “the regulars”, talking about this story arc or that story arc. I have never heard one say, did you see how the cover changes when you are looking at it different angles? Damn we need to pick that book up now!

Story. Story. Story.

Something that DC knows how to do and do well.

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I have never been a big Superman comic book reader. I find the boy scout boring far too often. Unless he is Batman then there is a loss of dynamic. But with the Oz Effect Jurgens may change all that. In 2003, under their Elseworlds banner, DC released Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son. This three issue book (pick it up by the way!) asked the question: what if Superman had not landed in Smallville, Kansas; but in the Soviet Union. How would that have changed the world? In the Oz Effect, Jurgens raises the question; what if a super powered Kryptonian hand landed on Earth and was subjected and witness to all that is evil in man. How would that change his perspective of mankind?

Intentional or not, what Jurgens is really saying here is that traditional American values molded Superman into the hero he is today. Who Superman is has much more to do with Jonathan and Martha Kent and what they believed in than his super powers. Yes, conservative, church going, middle class Americans who believe in Truth, Justice and the American Way. Bet you couldn’t get that pass the crew at Marvel.

The Oz Effect is also about the anger and bitterness of a father pitted against the hope of a son. A hope that was taught to him by his foster parents.

Underlying this is also the comparison that has always been used between Superman and Jesus Christ. Jor-el sent his son to Earth to be hope and protector for the world and its inhabitants. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. The son who would be called the Savior. Christians speak of and wait for the second coming of Jesus that will take them to their salvation. What if…what if…what if….What if God said enough. Humanity is beyond saving and takes back his son. What if…

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Yes, The Oz Effect is much more than gimmicky covers and cheap politically correct panels of saving immigrants over US citizens.

The Oz Effect is about a son and a father and the abyss that lays between them.

Its about story and Jurgens may just have the best comic book story of the year right here in Action Comics. Can’t wait for #989!!

 

 

 

 

 

Batman: Detective Comics, Vol 3: League of Shadows by James Tynion IV

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Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 3: League of Shadows by James Tynion IV is moving along very well and it is doing so by taking the biggest risk any Batman comic can do. It is making Batman into a supporting character. This series is about the team and the individual members more then it is about the Dark Knight himself. Which is one of the reasons I enjoyed this story arc so much. It is about the League of Shadows. It is about Lady Shiva. It is about Cassandra Cain, the once Batgirl; the Orphan.

The League of Shadows, under the leadership of Lady Shiva invade Gotham. What they are after is unsure but the rampage they are on is muderous. Batman and his team must face off against the League but they are terribly outclassed and still reeling from the loss of Tim Drake, Red Robin, who sacrificed himself to save the city.

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Batman must even align himself with his most deadly enemies to fight the League and Lady Shiva. But what they do not understand is what Shiva is truly up to. What she has come to Gotham for. She has come to claim what is hers. Her child. Her daughter. Cassandra Cain.

Cassandra Cain is one of the most unique characters in the Batman universe. She is a killer, trained by her father to be the foremost assassin in the world. She has battled her own father and mother and even Batman himself. What Cassandra wants most though, is to belong. To be part of a family. She had it once when she was Batgirl and now, as the Orphan, she is trying to find a way back.

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The moments of Cassandra watching the ballerina dancer and mimicky her moves is a brilliant stroke by Tynion. It speaks to the deep well of loneliness in her. The loss of childhood, of just being a little girl. There was no horrible tragedy that took this from her as it did to Bruce Wayne. No, for Cassandra it was a calculated move on her father’s part. The people who should have loved her the most, are the ones who hurt her the most.

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And now her mother has come for her. Will Cassandra survive?

A terrific arc in the Batman universe. This one collects Detetive Comics 950-956.

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Batman: The Dark Knight III: The Master Race

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Batman: The Dark Knight III: The Master Race by Frank Miller is one of the better books out there that stands on its own. Its take on JLA characters and with the dark and twisted view of Miller make it one of the more enjoyable reads to be found.

Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight is a classic in comic book lore. Unfortunately, it has made every sequel look like a sad sack sister in comparison. That is too bad because read on its own, The Master Race is an incredibly well developed and thought out piece of comic book writing. It sheds the wrappings of a Batman book and embraces the characters that surround the Batman Universe. Mainly Superman and Wonder Woman and their love child.

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It has been years since anyone has seen the Batman alive. Years since he faced down Lex Luthor and saved the world. But now an army of Krptonians has been unleashed, aided by Wonder Woman’s and Superman’s daughter, and they want to take over the Earth. To cleanse it of humanity and become the Master Race. Now an old and broken Bruce must suit up for one final fight. But he needs his old friends by his side. A forgotten Superman and Wonder Woman who must deal with her rebellious and super daughter.

It has occurred to me that an older, angrier and bitter Batman is such freaking awesome addition to the Batman world that any comic with him in it would be praised. But the great success of the first Dark Knight book has cast a heavily critical lens on the rest of the books. That is too bad because The Master Race is a very good book. Think about it, what if a race of super beings came to Earth and were not enamored with humanity. What if they didn’t want to save us but instead, saw us so far down the food chain that our only value was in enslavement or annihilation. Consider this if you will, what if Superman had not landed in Smallville, Kansas but landed in Los Angeles or New York. Could we survive with a Superhero raised by such narcissism and lack of good old American values?

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Or worse, a country where human life has no value and only the darkest and most evil of humanity survive. What if a Kryptonian was raised there? This is something that is currently being explored in Action Comics and the Oz Effect which I will talk about at a later blog. Add to that, that it is not one being but an entire city of beings that have been kept hostage in a glass container for decades. When finally released, yeah, they would be a little pissed.

I will admit that my favorite character in this book is not Bats but Wonder Woman and not because of her current run of fame. No, fans of the Wonder Woman movie will not recognize her here. She is an Amazon, intent on protecting her people and her children. Teaching them strength and their heritage and dealing with a rebellious and super strong teenage daughter. All that and fighting monsters with her baby son strapped to her back in a papoose. You do not mess with this single mother. Yeah, she is that kickass.

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The Master Race is an awesome Batman book that could have only been told by Frank Miller. It is that simple. A terrific read!

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The Wild Storm by Warren Ellis Vol. 1

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The Wild Storm Vol. 1 – Warren Ellis is a remake of one of the premier Image titles, WildC.A.T.S. In its inception, the original comic was flashy with large glossy artwork and comic pages that barely contained two panels of story. This was very typical of the early Image books as they were driven by the art and not so much by the story. WildC.A.T.S. was then sold off to DC Comics in 1999 and published under one of their smaller publishing houses; Wild Storm and after several runs, may have done the title and team right with The Wild Storm, written by Warren Ellis.

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Angela Spica, sick and disillusioned from being a subject of transhuman implants buried in her body notices everyone on the street looking up. She can see a man falling to his death and she knows she is the only person who can save. In a moment she transforms and flys up to save the man. What she finds out is that the man was thrown out the window of this building and that the man is the mult-millionaire Jacob Marlowe. This act sets in motion a chain of events that will both terrorize and thrill Angela as she is brought into the world of WildStorm.

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This book will re-introduce us to fan favorites, Grifter, Voodoo, The Engineer and Zealot.

Where the initial WildC.A.T.S books were flashy with the alien/supernatural entities of the Daemonites taking center stage; this book is far more gritty as would be expected from a Warren Ellis penned book. The panels with Zealot calling in a clean up crew from a bloody bathroom interrogation sets the tone for what is to come.

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Ellis is one of the best at creating alternative storylines and universes for established comic book characters. He does this and yet remains true to the characters as they were first presented to the comic book world at large. His take on the WildStorm squad is at once intriguing and entertaining. I look forward to seeing where this book goes!

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Batman volume 3: I Am Bane

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Batman, Volume 3: I Am Bane by Tom King is amazing. Not in the geeky teenage arachnid boy kind of way but in the grown ass man with a midlife crisis but has a family to protect and suddenly finds himself facing the only man that has ever broken him kind of way. Oh and by the way, the only man that has ever broken him is pissed. This is Batman vs Bane, the rematch. The real one.

After the events on Bane’s island stronghold of Santa Prisca, Batman has returned home. His mission, as it has been for sometime is to find a way to save the new superhero, Gotham Girl and not let her suffer the same fate as her brother. But to do so, Batman had to take a team of criminals, including Catwoman, into Santa Prisca and bring out the only man who might be able to save Gotham Girl. To do he had to face Bane and defeat him on his homecourt.

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Now Batman has returned to Gotham, but he knows his actions would not go unpunished. Bane is coming to Gotham, to destroy Batman and everyone he loves. To protect his family, Batman must face Bane and break him, once and for all.

“…No? No?! Do you know who I am?! Do you think you can come to my home and take my life from me?! You think you can run away?! You think you can hide behind this miserable city?! You think you can say no to me?! Do you know who I am?! I am not a joke. I am not a riddle! I am not a bird or a cat or a penguin! I am not a scarecrow or a plant or a puppet! I am not your broken friend! I am not your regretful teacher! I am not a child’s fairytale! I am not some circus act here to amuse and frighten you! I am not another one of your madmen howling at the moon! And I…am not some rich boy playing dress up! I AM BANE!…”

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Now I must steal a line, or in my innocence, simply quote a line from that great film, that perfect example of modern art in film; Dirty Dancing. “…when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong…” and Tom King I was so freakin’ wrong about you. Granted (here is where I insert my weak ass excuse) after the tour de force of a run on Batman comics that was the Snyder and Capullo team, and after another DC reboot, I was sure this was doomed for failure. Then in the first few issues you introduce two new characters into the world of Batman, the Gotham twins that hearkened back to the days of sadness of Saturday morning watching the Super Friends and those two mauve colored costume geeks that were part of what should have been the Justice League. Then came the iconic Batman the animated series and the world become right again and my love for the caped crusader was returned to its true level of coolness. Then came Snyder and seriously, can you blame me? Then came Rebirth and no more Snyder and then Gotham’s version of the Wonder Twins and I was contemplating never buying a Batman comic book again for at least a year or two.

“…When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong…”

Batman’s I Am Bane is a well written, insightful and courageous take on the psyche of the caped crusader. But more than that, it really kicks ass!!

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Grand Passion by James Robinson

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Grand Passion by James Robinson is a terrific throwback to the crime noir novels of lust and violence that makes for a wonderful and misspent childhood. This is cops and robbers and a dirty romance no one is ready for.

James McNamara is a cop, fresh blood in this small town. He thought a new start would be all he needed to put his past behind him. Only he isn’t fitting in with the established station house and finds himself even more of an outsider.

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Mabel is a bank robber. With her lover and partner in crime, she is cutting a path of blood and crime in her wake. Then she sees James and finds her whole world changed. She is at once filled with a lust for sex and blood that is uncontrollable. James feels it too. But then he shoots and kills her partner and Mabel is torn between lust and murder.

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This is the kind of comic book that you would have kept hidden from mom, hell its the kind of comic book that dad would have kept hidden from mom. The book that as a kid you would find in his secret stash along with his other dark and way too cool secrets. Grand Passion is like a really fun B Movie. The kind you will watch over and over again and even quote from but that stuffy critics will pan.

Its just good dirty fun.

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