I really am not the person who needs to be writing this review. There are many people who have more right to tell you why this book existing is good for Marvel, good for comics, good for diversity, good for female readership, just plain good. I am not the person who should be typing these words. I am a straight, white, male. There are plenty of books on the shelves for me. I can read just about any mainstream title and enjoy a sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy by swapping myself out with the title character. I could be Batman. I could be Captain America. I could be Peter Parker or Tony Stark. I could be Bruce Banner or Wolverine or Superman or Cyclops. The generic template for the superhero is one of the straight white male. We are the default, the blank slate. The starting point for 99.99% of mainstream comic characters. There are some wonderful characters that are more diverse and I am sure they are inspirations to the younger generation of readers discovering comics in this sort of geek renaissance that we are experiencing, but the comic book world needs and deserves more. As a white straight male I understand this. I know that seeing the same white straight male characters ad nauseum gets repetitive and boring. I myself am guilty of being repetitive and boring. I imagine that folks who do not identify as straight white males find it frustrating, to say the least, that there aren’t a greater number of characters out there for them to identify with. Marvel seems to be attempting to rectify that by not only developing new characters that stand apart from their white male brethren, but giving them real focus in their own books. We’re getting a Latino Ghost Rider solo book soon, people. Sit and think on that for a minute.
So Ms. Marvel is indeed a refreshing book. We have a female lead, still a teenager dealing with school and family issues in the tradition of great Marvel heroes like Peter Parker. We have a character who is of Pakistani descent living in New Jersey in a post-9/11 world, dealing with the ramifications of her own culture as it relates to her social life or lack thereof. If anything, this book is one of the most honest looks at the perception of “the foreign other” in the high school structure that I can remember in recent memory. I had a good friend in high school who went through much of the same struggle that our protagonist, Kamala, goes through in this issue; the balance of faith and family with school and societal norms. Kamala is a very realized character. She wears her inner conflict on her sleeve. Who she is and who she wants to be are at odds with each other in a way that feels very human and real. She is a teenage girl dealing with serious issues, the escapism that she seeks through writing Avengers fan-fiction is a solid indicator of what Kamala truly is like as a person. She longs for power as a means of control, not of others but of herself. She sees strength in The Avengers and admires it.
From a writer’s standpoint the issue is quite strong. We are introduced to the character and we organically learn her motivation. We take the journey with her and we can empathize with her because even if everyone reading the book isn’t Muslim, we all can sympathize with being a teenager and disagreeing with our parents over the level of trust and responsibility we were mature enough to bear. That is why it is so important to have books and characters like these, because there is an across the board connection that we can feel with the character regardless of our race or upbringing. There is a universal quality to any character in a comic book. We can relate to a talking raccoon and his sapling BFF so we should easily be able to identify with another human being, regardless of their nationality or heritage. But it is important that these characters exist for that one comic reader who is the real-life iteration of Kamala who wants to be represented in graphic fiction. She deserves this character. We all deserve this character.
Artistically speaking the book is an A-plus effort. Adrian Alphona puts some gorgeous artwork on display. It takes me back to the days when Runaways was still being published and makes me wish there was more stylistically emboldened artwork like this on more titles. The colors and the expressiveness of the characters blend together to make a truly astonishing debut issue that sets it apart from the myriad other first issues that hit the stands on any given week. Honestly, the book is simply gorgeous.
I shouldn’t be the one saying this but everyone should buy this book. It is an important book. But it is also a good book. Sometimes we have to suffer through importance but this time around we actually get to enjoy it. So please take the time to do so.
Comic Book Resources is reporting that Marvel is set to debut a new Ms. Marvel title in spring 2014, featuring a brand-new character taking on the mantle and, much to the surprise of many in the internet community, it will feature a Muslim teenager and be written by a female writer. You’ll have to excuse me while I take this all in. You see, on the same day that the internet shat it’s collective trousers over Brian Michael Bendis tweeting out a photo of the Marvel retreat that featured a solo female, we get a new title featuring a POC lead written by a female writer, and a hell of a talented one at that. G. Willow Wilson wrote Air for Vertigo a few years back and it was a damn fine piece of graphic literature. It didn’t last nearly long enough in my opinion and I am happy to see someone with such talent creating and shaping a new character and title at one of the mainstream comic companies.
I don’t normally spend much of my time bemoaning the lack of diversity in media. This blog has almost no reach. I feel like I’m shouting in a room filled with stuffed animals I believe are real when I start to pontificate too heavily. That having been said, there is a serious lack of diversity in mainstream comics. We don’t have nearly enough A-list female talent, or roundly beloved creators that aren’t old white dudes honestly. I mean, as a crusty white dude myself you would think I’d want to keep my mouth shut but I’m also a reader of comics. And part of the reason so many titles run together for me and fail to keep my interest is because the point of view of the person holding the pen is the same as twenty of his peers. I am happy that we have our Gail Simones rallying female creators for projects like Legends of Red Sonja. I am happy we have people like Kelly Sue DeConnick changing the public dialog about what diversity in comics really means. And G. Willow Wilson taking on Ms. Marvel puts a big ol’ smile on my face as well. She obviously has a lot she wants to say with the character.
The new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, will reportedly be a New Jersey native with relatives in Pakistan and be a huge fangirl for Carol Danvers, the previous Ms. Marvel and current Captain Marvel. The character is described as a shape-shifter and according Wilson admires Danvers because she leads the existence that the young Kamala wishes to attain. As Willow said, “She’s strong, beautiful and doesn’t have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and ‘different.'” Willow herself having some familiarity with that conflict, as she herself converted to Islam even going so far as to release a memoir about the experience.
The book will be released in February 2014 and feature artwork from original Runaways artist Adrian Alphona. We can only speculate as to whether the fan support this book will have can equal the momentum of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel and the “Carol Corps.” I’ll begin drafting ideas for the fan group name now, anyway.
I haven’t done day-and-date reviews for individual comics in a while. I get my books mail-0rder nowadays for financial and convenience reasons and I only rarely will pick up a book off of the rack. Usually it’s when I have some spare cash laying around and want to give something different a chance. Today I got some issues that I initially passed on because I didn’t have the cash for them in my budget at the time.
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN # 9
STORY BY Kelly Sue DeConnick
ART BY Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson
COLORS BY Edgar Delgado
LETTERS BY VC – Joe Caramagna
COVER BY Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson
PUBLISHER Marvel Comics
Next week sees the first issue of Carol Danvers’ turn as Captain Marvel. This week gives us a sort of primer as she teams up with Spider-Man in a fun little issue written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, who will be handling the ongoing series as well. I have said that while I don’t consider myself one of those “shipper” fans, I would totally support Peter Parker and Carol Danvers as a couple. Their banter and flirtations are often a delight to read, especially if they’re written by someone who gets the voice of those characters individually. Kelly Sue does. She’s one of the writers at Marvel who can seemingly write any character with ease and put them into a story that is fun and breezy in a more classic tradition that eschews the post Bendis style that seems to find its way into every book no matter who is actually penning it.
Avenging Spider-Man # 9 feels like a classic issue of Marvel Team-Up in all the right ways. The story centers around Peter and Carol going for a flight in Carol’s new junker of a plane when they find themselves caught in a dispute between a young lady who has had a brush with the law and a private security firm trying to bring her in. It is a fun read and a welcome change from what I’ve been reading from Marvel at the moment. I’m hoping that trend continues with the ongoing series. Kelly Sue has set the stage for something that could easily be just as good or better than the last volume of Ms. Marvel which I enjoyed from end-to-end.
REVIVAL # 1
STORY BY Tim Seeley
ART BY Mike Norton
COVER BY Jenny Frison, Craig Thompson
PUBLISHER Image Comics
SYNOPSIS: For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect. A beautiful “farm noir” that puts a new twist on the zombie genre, created by NYT Bestselling author TIM SEELEY and acclaimed artist MIKE NORTON.
Tim Seeley has made a name for himself on Hack/Slash and I bought this based off of that reputation alone. I haven’t been following his run on Witchblade, but this seemed more up my alley. Revival seems like it fits more into the mold of Image comics like The Walking Dead in that there is definitely a lot of world building being done but the core of the series is going to be centered around the interactions of our main characters. The danger with something like that is that you have to give people something to like. I wouldn’t say that Seeley’s character work is the best thing about Hack/Slash. The characters there are somewhat thin but the reader is still able to connect. In this series, Seeley has severely stepped up his game. Right off the bat we are given small looks at Dana and her personal life that make her immediately relate-able. She has family issues aplenty as well as personal issues relating to her own personal successes. This is one of the best first issues of a new comic I have read since Chew with regards to getting a sense of character.
Revival is definitely worth a look. It isn’t just another zombie book. To even use that term in association with it is somewhat misleading. This is a horror book, to be sure. I’ll even admit that parts gave me goosebumps. It’s been a while since I’ve read something that did that. Aside from the character work, Seeley has done a great job setting the mood here. Mike Norton’s illustration of the gore really hammers it home as well. I think this one could very well be one of the best things to come out of Image in a good long while.
So there you are. Go buy those things. You won’t regret it.
Costume showcase continues today. I wish I had something more witty to throw up here as a lead-in but unfortunately I’ve exhausted most of my brainpower just trying to find the pictures.
75% percent of the searches leading to this site have a varation of “sexy cosplay” in them, and I feel like I haven’t been catering to that crowd lately. They’re the ones who give us a fair share of hits and yet I haven’t posted anyone in an awkward costume for like a month now. So I’m going to remedy that by posting some pictures in the hopes of appeasing my readership.
Every Monday, we will bring you a panel, snapshot, or drawing
of the greatest Marvel character of all time
in an attempt to generate awareness of his glory.
This will end only when we run out of
glorious MODOK Material.
Which will be never.
Hey, guess what? I read some books! Just like last week? Aren’t I unpredictable? But seriously folks, I got my books yesterday, though about six hours later than usual so I actually stayed up late reading comic books to ensure that I would be able to get this post up in a reasonably timely manner. You guys should send me a gift basket.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #622 GNTLT 3.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #33 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #9 2.99
BLACK LANTERN GREEN ARROW #30 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #7 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #3 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN SWING #1 (OF 4) 3.99
CHOKER #1 (MR) 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #83 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL #20 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #576 2.99
GI JOE TP VOL 02 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #9 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #36 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99
MS MARVEL #50 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #62 SIEGE 3.99
SUPERMAN #697 2.99
THOR #607 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #4 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #41 2.99
X-FACTOR #202 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #233 XN 2.99
That’s a pretty healthy haul. So what did I think?
For the last few week’s I’ve really been boosting up ASM as a book. I think it’s been consistantly good and that the naysayers have been blinded by their own biases. This issue however is a bit of a mixed bag, in that the lead story with Morbius is actually quite fun if a tad on the light side, not actually being full length and thus appearing somewhat rushed, while the second story with Flash Thompson is just sort of a discombobulated mess.
I am willing to bet that the secondary tale is in there because they need to quickly set up Flash’s new status quo for when he inevitably comes back into the fold of the supporting cast on a regular basis. It feels like the writing team’s attempt to get us re-aquainted with Flash and let us know that by featuring him in such a beefy role in what amounts to a backup story, he must be important enough to care about. Continuity wise, at least.
Like I said, the issue is a mixed bag, but it’s only a slight hiccup in the road as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a one-off story meant to act as an interlude anyhow. I don’t blame them for trying to cram some exposition in there that might have gotten cut short if it were rammed into an ongoing storyline. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Amazing Spider-Man.
It’s like Sin City meets Blade Runner with enough of the classic Marlowe noir not to feel cheap. Choker is Ben McCool’s debut creator-owned story and damned if he didn’t knock it out of the park with this first issue. The dialogue is crisp and feels as solid as noir dialogue can, which admittedly can sometimes come off as really cheesy. Remember Frank Miller’s script for The Spirit? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.
I’ve admitted that I’m not normally a fan of Ben Templesmith. His artwork is hard to critique because any complaints can be attributed to his wanting to add a sense of style. And luckily, in the case of this book, the style works. Whereas I felt it actually hindered the story in something like 30 Days of Night, here it feels like any other type of art style would have seemed…off.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I’m always telling people that there’s great new stuff out there and this is no exception. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up.
Speaking of original material, fuck you Warren Ellis. How the living hell do you manage to crank out so many titles in such short periods of time, and all of them be thoroughly entertaining? Where is your off month? When do I get to read something from you that sucks. That would be a surprise. I would actually be shocked if I picked up an Ellis book and didn’t like it. The man has such a vivid sense of world-building and setting that he could tell an infinite number of stories simply by interchanging the characters and plots from his different endeavors into each other’s locales. In this case, we get a pre-industrial revolution London in the time of the formation of the Metropolitan Police (aka the “Met”) and a mysterious steampunk villain(?) who fires electric bullets and cavorts around town in a flying airship.
Once again, fuck you Warren Ellis. You creative prick.
It pains me to say that reading this final issue of Ms. Marvel, I understand why it’s going away. When your grand finale is so astoundingly anti-climactic that it makes the reader’s chest hurt, you probably should thank your lucky stars that you made it to issue 50. Now, I’ve followed this title since # 1, and I’ve tried to get people on board, because I think that it’s been a really damn good title for the majority of the run. But I see the final arc as sort of a missed opportunity. It seemed…I guess rushed is as good a word as any. Like this is all Brian Reed could come up with because the weight of delivering a final issue was weighing on him so heavily.
The backup story is passable. I’m not a big Noh Varr fan, so it didn’t speak to me on any real level. But something tells me that what happened there will come into play whenever they decide to focus a little more on that character. At least when that happens I’ll be prepared.
Overall, this would have been a fine issue were it not the grand finale. In that sense, it feels like a bit of a misfire.
It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?
And that’s it for this week, join us next time when I aim to be even more passive aggressive.