Speaking at the Tampere Kuplii comics festival

Ryhmä-X 1/92 Cover
Ryhmä-X 1/92 Cover

A month ago I spent the weekend in Tampere, a city just north of Helsinki. I was asked to speak at the Tampere Kuplii comics festival about Marvel comics. I was given my choice of topic so I decided to talk about what Marvel taught me as a young child/teenager growing up.

You see, you could say I was raised by popular culture, because as a kid I didn’t get along with my mom and my dad always did long hours at work, so I pretty much spent all my time alone. During weekends and vacations I spent time with my aunt and sister and I must admit they have also been great influences in my life.

In fact, I’ve always thought of myself as lucky, having picked up only the great, open-minded values from the 80s TV and other popular culture. Maybe it was because I was bullied at school, I knew bullying and being mean to other people just because they were different from you was absolutely wrong, with no acceptable excuses. As long as you don’t hurt anybody else it’s really no one else’s business what you do or what you are. And luckily my aunt and sister also lived by that rule and also were “different” from the norm. Not anything radical, but my sister has always been an artistic personality and my aunt has always lived alone, which as a child was very interesting, and I love the fact they both made me think about life choices and that you don’t have to follow the norm, but can really live the way you like.

But that’s enough of my relatives. One of the bigger influences of my life were the Marvel superhero comics. Oh, the horror they were for a young teenager trying to figure out what it was to be a woman. Yet at the same time especially the X-Men comics did hold many good values that are useful even today.

Cover of Ryhmä-X 7/1988
Cover of Ryhmä-X 7/1988

Thinking about what to speak of at the festival I decided to go through two comics, the Marvel 7/88 and Ryhmä-X 1/92, because there really is no better way to make my point than to let the comics speak for themselves. The first one showed all the good things and the latter one all the bad things. Since it’s going to take some time before I get to year 1992, the latter comic has one of those “girls’ night out” type of stories which are always horrible. Both stories were written by Chris Claremont and where the first magazine treated all the characters as equals, the latter one is such a horrible example of sexism and ridiculing both the female superheroes but also the readers as the story’s bad guys are a sort of a Ghostbusters team hunting mutants, being just the type of nerds who probably were the people reading Marvel comics. It’s, by the way, also the first story where Jubilee appears. The best part of the story is when Rogue calls Ms. Marvel “that American slut” (fin. “se amerikkalainen lutka”). Nice… @.@ I wonder if she said that in the English original, too.

Anyway, if you are interested, my husband took a video of my speech, but ran out of memory and thus the video lacks the last 10 minutes. If you happen to have the whole video of my speech, please share the link with me! Also the funny noises you hear in the background are from a man who sat behind my husband and fell asleep, snoring aloud through the whole thing. :”D That was so funny. The rest of the crowd did, however, stay awake and seemed to have good time and laughed a lot. The presentation is in Finnish, but in case you can’t understand Finnish, I will be going through the magazines in the near-ish future here on my blog and will most likely go through all the things I said in Tampere.


Since we were in Tampere and there also happened to be an exhibition about ancient Egyptian mummies at Museum Centre Vapriikki we had to visit it. The exhibition was small and didn’t really offer any new information to me, but who cares. I love watching ancient Egyptian items as they are so beautiful. I also photograph Egyptian texts, because I like to think that I’d try to translate them on my own just for fun and practice.

Anyway, at the exhibition I noticed this absolutely gorgeous piece from a child’s coffin, I suppose (I seem to have lost the photo with the info on the coffin). Oh, the details are just lovely. <3

Ancient Egyptian coffin's feet.
Ancient Egyptian coffin’s feet.

Ancient Egyptian superhero Ankhtifi of Mo’alla

And talking about ancient Egypt, I have to mention a fantastic autobiography I’m translating at the moment. That of Ankhtifi of Mo’alla. He was a warlord who lived during the First Intermediate Period (2160 – 2055 BC) in Egypt when Egypt was under turmoil and suffered from civil war. You wouldn’t believe how cocky this guy is. He brags and then calls out: “I am the man!” And he refers to himself as Ankhtifi the Strong. I still have the last half of the 10th inscription to translate, but according to Miriam Lichtheim’s translation (1988) he’s going to call himself a champion who keeps nightly vigilance over his nome. Amazing! <3 <3 <3

And just as an extra, here is me dressed as Mystique for a superhero party next door.

Me dressed as Mystique.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Ihmesarja #8 Cover
Ihmesarja #8 Cover

Last time I wrote about the skipped issues and made a slight mistake. I had misplaced my Ihmesarja #17 which covers the rest of the missing issues #158 onwards, so it seems I have all except one of the skipped issues from The Uncanny X-Men. Yay!

The only issue I thus miss is #144 where Scott Summers/Cyclops and his current girlfriend wannabe Lee Forrester met the Man-Thing. It or some evil presense had somehow caused Lee’s father to commit suicide at the swamp where he lives… or something. Let’s be frank, the plot sounds quite arbitrary and uninteresting.

But in Ihmesarja #8 we get back into more interesting stuff. The comic book holds three individual storylines, which I will go through in their own posts. So let’s begin with the first one, in which Storm experiences some flirty action with the old Dr. Doom himself. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

Don’t worry, I’m just trying to make this sound more exciting as it is, since in the first storyline the X-Men again have to face my favourite enemy, Arcade (“Armoton”). It seems quite unlike Dr. Doom to really lower himself as low as hanging out with Arcade. Well, I suppose if you are planning to dedicate your life to dictatorship and “evilness” you can’t be too picky.

The plot & some unnerving details best left alone

In the beginning Storm and Kitty‘s dance instructor Stevie are kidnapped by Arcade’s assistant, who says she has kidnapped Jean Grey‘s parents, Moira McTaggert, Candy Southers (Angel‘s girlfriend), Amanda Stefton (Nightcrawler‘s girlfriend) and Illyana Rasputin, who is Colossus‘s younger sister and still at this point around five years old. The X-Men are told by the assistant they have to save Arcade, imprisoned by Dr. Doom, and make sure Dr. Doom will no longer bother Arcade if the X-Men want to see their loved ones alive.

Well, instead of trying to free their friends from Arcade’s minion (if they can beat Arcade, how hard can his minion be?), for some reason the X-Men decide to face Dr. Doom instead, who most likely has valid enough reason to hurt Arcade any way he chooses. As a very cunning plan Storm decides to work as a distraction, inviting herself into Dr. Doom’s castle and letting him know she has come in peace to talk with him. The other X-Men, who always like to say they just want to talk, begin an all out attack on Dr. Doom’s castle.  I really don’t understand how they thought Dr. Doom wouldn’t notice a bunch of mutants fighting their way in, but for some reason, Storm seems completely oblivious of that as she dines with Dr. Doom. As an intriguing detail there are some lovely vibes in the air as the two of them dine together.

Ihmesarja #8 Storm ja Doom dining together
Storm and Doom have dinner together.
2nd panel, Storm: “I’m actually… enjoying this. In fact I’m bummed I’m here only to distract Doom while the others free Arcade. I bet they are already at his cell.” “Doom is a fascinating man.”
3rd panel, Dr. Doom: “Interesting, it seems the attraction is mutual. — Two lions, the king and the queen.”

But, alas! Just when things are getting exciting, (SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT!) Storm is told that Arcade was in fact working together with Dr. Doom! 8O

Ihmesarja 8 Wolverine through a wall
The box says: “It takes about a minute for Wolverine to find a wall and rip his way into freedom.” Arcade really knows how to make puzzles…

In the  following story the puzzles Arcade has provided for the now imprisoned X-Men are once again just as easy to escape as in Ryhmä-X 1/1985. They just go through the walls or smash everything, and, well, problem solved.

As for Storm, when she was revealed that Arcade was working together with Doom instead of being his prisoner, Dr. Doom somehow turned her into a chrome statue. In the later panels we see her clothes have been changed to another outfit. How did they do it? Did they first free her, then change her clothes and then turn her into chrome again? It would seem most likely as she is also frozen into another position than before. Also it would seem the new clothes are not chrome, which would mean they turned Storm into a chrome statue when she was naked. That raises some unnerving questions and I’d be very disappointed if no-one has written any slash on the topic… Also notice how Dr. Doom has a Storm robot made to serve him. I mean, I’m starting to see questions forming in my head I might not want to see answered.

Ihmesarja #8 Storm statues
How did they manage to change her clothes?
Ihmesarja #8 Storm-bot
That’s a Storm-bot. If she now wears Storm’s normal outfit, does that mean she used to wear what Storm is wearing now? And why does Dr. Doom have a Storm-bot made for him? I mean – eww, Dr. Doom! Eww!

But nevertheless, as Storm is kept in her chrome jail she starts to stir up a serious storm outside, which in turn will have serious consequences for Scott and Lee. But we’ll return to that story later. Once freed, Storm is pretty aggravated and almost kills everyone in rage. Luckily the others talk her out of it and peace is restored. Hurrah!

What happens to Dr. Doom and Arcade? Well, it does seem Arcade really had done something wrong to Dr. Doom and he really was his prisoner. At this point the X-Men finally are ready to talk things over. The solution? They make Arcade to apologise to Dr. Doom, and everyone is happy and goes home. Seriously?

Ihmesarja #8 Apology
No, I wasn’t kidding. They literally make him to apologise to Dr. Doom.
Also notice how Dr. Doom says in the 2nd panel exactly what I am thinking: “I’d like to apologise, too.” “I am a slave to my habits. The X-Men attacked my home without clear cause so I retaliated.” I think Dr. Doom was very generous here. If someone came barging my home and broke my stuff I’d sure be more upset than he is. I’m quite impressed that he even offers to apologise to the X-Men. Surprising, considering how little upset he seems to be when Arcade owes him an apology.