Release Date: 2/25/15
Words: Jason LaTour
Pictures: Robbi Rodriguez
The creative team that introduced Spider-Gwen’s origin story in Edge of Spider-Verse has come back by popular fan demand with her own new ongoing series, Spider-Gwen. If you are an already established fan of the Spider-Verse you know that in this new, alternate ‘verse, it is Gwen Stacy who is the teenager that is bitten by a mutated spider at a demonstration on radioactivity. She returns and becomes known as “Spider-Woman” in her home dimension. Gwen is a young woman trying to come to terms with her role as a superhero and find balance between her alter-ego and who she is as a woman. She is still looking for redemption of the events in Edge of Spider-Verse and reconciling her previous membership to the band The Mary Janes. This is one woman with a lot on her plate.
Gwen Stacy is a beloved character. She represents something special to many fans, in large part, because she is the original “fridged” character. Way back in the day she was the interesting female character that was killed off to give drama and angst to the male protagonist in order to give him proper motivation to become the hero.
Not any longer.
Spider-Gwen is very much established and relatable. As is true for any story, reading Edge of Spider-Verse will fill in her origin story, but new readers can just as comfortably jump on here. LaTour gives Gwen the usual real world problems to balance with her new found super-heroic ones. She’s conflicted and determined. She’s a bit punk rock. She has a strong sense of self and a strong moral compass with the will to follow through. She shows love and loyalty to those close to her, despite the tension between herself and her father or that she is also the irreplaceable drummer for the Mary Janes. She’s every bit as likable as Spider-Man, maybe more so.. This makes me jealous of all the young girls getting into comics right now. Where was Gwen Stacy when I was growing up?
I just have to say, costume development was awesome! This is the new, improved and empowered Gwen Stacy and she deserves a solid costume. It’s a bit minimalist and edgy without being exploitive and still maintaining that iconic superhero feel. The art is bright and sharp, a bit cartoony but not overly so.
The book as a whole is a fun and enjoyable read and represents how comic books can be more appealing and respectful to female readership without being insulting to either gender.
Release Date: 2/18/15
Words: Robbie Thompson
Pictures: Stacey Lee
Having been bitten by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker in the first arc of Amazing Spider-Man as well as having spent time traversing through the Spider-verse alongside Spider-Woman, Cindy Moon is on her own in New York City. Cindy is searching for her past and defining her future, while “webbing up wrong-doers” as Silk.
Finally I am inspired to get excited about comics again. I mean really excited, like the day I was given that tattered box full of old comics from my dad. The world of comics has not always been so considerate of the female readership. We had to make do with the exploitation of the women depicted in comics (Duh, the ridiculousness of revealing costumes? Please, how could a girl keep her identity secret in a mask and a ribbon barely covering her naughty bits and at the same time kick some major ass?) and the blatant disrespect (Uh, I don’t think I have to explain the “Women in Refrigerators” phenomenon, do I? Google it.) of our roles in stories. Being a mother to two growing girls I’m appalled that this is still an issue. Imagine my joy when I stumble upon more and more of these comics for girls to enjoy without that tickling feeling of exclusion us older ladies felt in the not-so-distant past! Also, I have to say, there cannot be enough good Asian female superheroes. The little Asian girl in me is seriously happy right now.
But I digress…
Silk #1 – I’m sold. Intrigued even.
Sure, it’s not completely original. Silk’s life mirrors her male predecessor in many ways, same radioactive spider, family issues, working her day job at the Daily Bugle, and the general struggle with balancing normal life and superhero life. Maybe that will be enough to grab the interest of both longtime readers of comics and those just beginning. She does gets a strong and respectable introduction by a relatively unknown team of creators. In fact, I did not know that Robbie Thompson is a writer of TV’s Supernatural until after I read the issue. It made sense that while I was reading it, it felt pleasantly familiar. There are little treasures of smart snark sprinkled throughout which made the story move forward quickly with an already established and easily investable heroine. I like that.
The art by Stacey Lee gives the book a youthful vibe. It’s a bit cartoony but with a lot more emotion in regards to characterization. It’s almost manga-ish and almost realistic-ish, if that makes any sense. Basically, it is simply pretty to look at, fluid and fun to follow, and gives enough whimsy to the the action to hook all levels and types of comic book lovers.
Get Silk on your pull list now.
All New Marvel NOW!
Release Date: 4/23/14
Words: W. Haden Blackman
Pictures: Michael Del Mundo
Elektra is another female-lead series from Marvel’s All New Marvel NOW! line of comics. The reader is introduced to Elektra, through her own voice, as she searches for herself while embarking on a solo adventure that includes dealing with a fellow assassin who has all the potential for creating some interesting challenges for our protagonist that, I trust will, show us what really makes this woman tick.
Blackman crafts a strong female protagonist with a rich history only hinted of in this first issue. Elektra’s voice is easily intriguing and I look forward to hearing more of her internal dialogue as she searches for who she is and her place in her world. The last half of the book switches narration to the other assassin and is my only complaint, that Blackman didn’t keep the narrative’s focus all on Elektra herself. It’s not bad at all, I just want to get to know Elektra more. I’m greedy that way.
Del Mundo’s artwork really sells this book. The color palette is grainy and muted. It’s not typical superhero type stuff but more like something I’d want to hang in a gallery. I really like the way he uses overlapping action panel layouts using organic shapes rather than boxes. With Elektra he uses blood and dance, with her adversary he uses swamp, branches, and snakes. It’s beautiful to behold. The last time I fell in love with the art used to portray a strong female lead was Black Widow. Where Noto did Black Widow justice, here, Del Mundo does Elektra justice.
Elektra is an easy addition to my current pull list because I have a thing for strong, female protagonists. I’m tired of more of the same leading men. I also have a soft spot for beautiful art, the kind that flows, moves and adds to the fleshing out of the narrative itself. Just look at these couple of my favorite pages:
Get this now.
All-New Marvel Now!
Release Date: 2/5/14
Words: G. Willow Wilson
Pictures: Adrian Alphona
Meet Kamala Khan, a nerdy sixteen year old Pakistani Muslim girl living in New Jersey. She may be American-born but culturally her life is limited to the expectations of her traditional Muslim family. She is not unlike most sixteen year old girls living in America right now, facing an awkward and confusing time full of social drama and personal issues. Well, save for the one biggie, becoming a superhero.
It was big news that the new Ms. Marvel was going to be a Muslim girl. This means a lot to many fans of the medium of comics. Who knew people of color or women wanted to read books with leads that feature people of color or women? Thankfully, it doesn’t suck.
Wilson creates a solid classical superhero lead coming into her powers. Kamala is a very relatable and immediately likable character. She’s kind of like Peter Parker, only at the same time she’s the opposite. Being a Muslim girl living in an American world is obviously “different,” but Wilson doesn’t present Kamala’s world in a way that highlights the differences of her cultural background at all, and that is one the most respectable cool ways to support the need for more diversity in comics.
Alphona’s art has a child-like realism feel. It’s almost cartoonish, but there is too much attention to detail, both in the characters and in what is going on around the characters. The story is told through the art as much as it is done through the words. In fact, much of the book is Kamala talking to those around her. The words and pictures are in sync, telling the story effortlessly. Take a look at my favorite page…
Ms. Marvel is not one to tradewait. Whether you are looking for a new hero to discover or are a hero yourself wanting to fight for diversity in comics, this one will feed your need.
Release Date: 1/22/14
Words: George A. Romero
Pictures: Alex Maleev
The Godfather of zombie culture releases his next undead epic in comic book form under Marvel comics. Consistent with Romero’s undead world, the story takes place years after the zombie plague broke out and New York City now has its share of different sorts of zombies for the remaining humans to deal with. Not only are there the usual garden variety of zonked out zombie, there are ones that display limited remembered behavior and those that have limited thought processes and control over their movements. Also consistent with Romero’s stories is that the story revolves around a group of survivors making the best of a world gone wrong. One character is out to collect the more brutal “stinkers” for the arena at the Circus Maximus, entertainment for the more affluent of survivors. Another character is a doctor studying how zombies have evolved from the typical zombie to the ones of the more tamed variety.
With zombies saturating pop culture right now, I feel a bit zombied out. It takes a lot to impress me now that I’ve been so desensitized. It’s a pity because I freaking love zombies. George A. Romero is a legend. I owe my fangirl strangeness to my father who raised me on Romero. I was excited to see this cover this week and I wanted to have my mind blown but truth be told, it didn’t happen. That’s not to say it’s bad. It’s not bad at all. I actually liked the read, but that may only be for the sake of it being Romero. It’s very Romero. It takes place in the world he created and if you know anything about Romero, you kind of know too much. I don’t want to say it was predictable, but it kind of was. I didn’t get as excited as I wanted to be. Maybe my bias turned out to be my buzzkill. I can’t say for certain. Still… how can you not like Romero?
The art of Maleev fits a Romero story like a glove. It’s very dark and dull. The somber tone of the story is felt in the hopelessness of the muted colors and scratchiness of the lines. Again, the art is a sad and ugly kind of beautiful, just like a Romero film.
Newcomers can easily jump into this series provided they are driven to pick up yet another zombie book. Romero afficionados will more than likely want to pick this one up for the sake of nostalgia and diehardiness. This one is totally on the call of the beholder.
Release Date: 1/8/14
Words: Nathan Edmondson
Pictures: Phil Noto
Natasha Romanov, known better as Black Widow, the sometime Avenger, sometime agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., sometime assassin, full time woman who kicks ass finally gets her due: an ongoing series under Marvel Now. It’s about time.
Everyone who reads comics is familiar with Black Widow but does anyone really know her? We see her alongside many a major male supes, assisting the team with saving the world and other such heroics, but rarely do we see her for who she really is, the woman under the determined badassery do gooder. She has a past that she is unwilling to reveal because she is a woman on a mission to move on and spend her life atoning for, apparently, some majorly dark stuff. Edmondson introduces her in a moment in which she uses manipulative deception laced with truth for better believability. So how do we know what is the illusion and what is the truth? Moral ambiguity is so sexy.
Noto’s art is in perfect harmony with the tone of the story. The colors are mostly in an orange-red palette that is offset with a lot of white border. It’s freaking beautiful. It’s all very 1960’s spy noir but with a modernized touch. There is an elegance to the panels and how he depicts Natasha, a certain grace and power that is not oversexualized or exploitive. This is what every complex female character in comics deserves. Just check out the action of this page:
Just buy it. Get it on your pull list and educate yourself on how women should be respected properly already. Evolution is a beautiful process.
Release Date: 7/31/13
Words: Chris Cosentino
Pictures: Dalibor Talajic
Reality star Chris Cosentino pens and stars in this culinary caper in which Wolverine and his Adamantium claws team up with Cosentino and his steel kitchen knives to solve the case of the Bay Area Butcher.
Um. What? Wait. Why?
As in, “What the hell was that?” And also, “Why does this exist?”
Yea, I dunno about these celebrity/comic book character crossovers. I could write myself into a comic way better than this guy. Shoot, both my daughters wrote better fan fiction when they were in kindergarten. I had no idea, when I picked this book up, who this Cosentino person was. I should have gotten a clue from the cover that depicts him next to Wolverine in all his cocky culinary glory. I mean, ew. I admit, I know nothing about this guy. The term “reality star” gives me the wigs. How did anyone allow something this bad get involved with such a beloved Marvel character? Can Cosentino’s cooking really be THAT good? I keep thinking about all the starving children who could have benefited from the money it took to publish this trash.
The artwork is fine. Wasted, but fine. I can’t even find the energy to try writing a half-assed review for this travesty. When there is such an abundance of good material available in this medium, it just twists my shorts to have wasted my time.
Wolverine in the Flesh, bad. That is all.