Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1

Marvel

Release Date:  11/25/15

Words:  Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare

Pictures:  Natacha Bustos

The Sitch:

Lunella Lafayette is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world with her super brain. Her fear of the monstrous INHUMAN genes inside her drive her desire to be part of the science that makes the world a better place. Her life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant from the prehistoric past is teleported to a distant future we know as PRESENT DAY.  Together, the pair become not just the most inspiring Marvel Team-Up, but the cutest.

The Confession:

It’s not a secret that I love most anything with a relatable female protagonist, especially of the younger variety. Little girls need all the representation and diversity they can get. Lunella is the hero we both need and deserve. She is proof that the most powerful things can come from the smallest of packages. She is the awkward girl genius that is picked on for not quite fitting in. Her mind is constantly on the next big project, always striving for better despite rejections and facing people who don’t understand her goals. Her determination, bravery, and super brain are all she needs to be the hero all girls can look up to. Lunella is so freaking adorable and kick ass that I made my twelve year old daughter read it. My daughter is often a difficult one to please and she actually liked this one. She was smiling when she said it was “cool.” I knew that she related to Lunella perfectly when upon her returning it to me she immediately initiated her own discussion of evolution. (Yes, I’m shamelessly proud.) Those familiar with Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur will know the other half of this new dynamic duo. There are a few pages that wrap up Moon Boy’s relationship with Devil Dinosaur before he crosses over to Lunella’s brave new world. With Reeder and Montclare writing together one should assume a good story is in good hands.

Bustos’ art fits nicely with the story. There is a grounding realism to her work while, at the same time, being super cute. Her action sequences are clear cut and at a level appropriate for younger readers, that can still be appreciated by adults. The colors are bright and colorful for all ages without taking away any of the validity of the story. I liked seeing how diverse Lunella’s world is, as seen in a realistic school room in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Also, big love to seeing a poster of Neil Degrasse Tyson over Lunella’s bed.

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There is much promise in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur for all readers. If you are looking for something all ages to inspire that special little female in your life, this is the book to start her on. Pull list worthy all the way.

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Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1

Marvel

Release Date:  9/2/15

Words: Chelsea Cain

Pictures: Joelle Jones

The Sitch:

Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 issue also contains the debut of The Red Widow, Red Widow: First Strike, words by Margaret Stohl and pictures by Nico Leon.

Mockingbird has always been one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best agents but a crime against someone close to her forces her to take matters into her own hands. Using her many special skills, she will do what she needs to do to see justice is paid.

The Confession:

Mockingbird is a stand-alone, one shot look at the Mockingbird character, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan favorite that has not gotten the attention she deserves. Sadly, this isn’t an ongoing book. It’s a real shame as Cain seems to really know Bobbi Morse. She has made an intriguing mini-story depicting Bobbi as a multi-layered woman who is super smart, snarky and badass. I would love to see what Cain could do with an actual ongoing book for Mockingbird like they have done for Black Widow and Electra.

I have to confess the main reason I had to get this book, the art. Joelle Jones’ art is so freaking rad. (Hello? Lady Killer anyone?) She makes Bobbi look awesome. Her style is clean, bold, and breathtakingly beautiful. She has a gift depicting kickass female spies with so much style and badassery I can never resist picking up one of her books. All you have to know to get this book is that Bobbi Morse is not just a scientist, she’s a biochemist. She’s also a super hero and spy. This woman can do anything and with Jones showing you how Bobbi does it all is worth every penny.

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The teaser mini-story follow-up, The Red Widow: First Stike, promotes Stohl’s upcoming YA novel Black Widow: Forever Red on sale in October and is worth a look. Stohl paces a good story full of intrigue and drama in just a few pages. Leon’s art is a little subdued but also knows how and when to throw a good punch. Don’t stop reading when Mockingbird is done.

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Spider-Gwen #1

Marvel

Release Date:  2/25/15

Words:  Jason LaTour

Pictures:  Robbi Rodriguez

The Sitch:

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.

The Confession:

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.

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Silk #1

Marvel

Release Date:  2/18/15

Words:  Robbie Thompson

Pictures:  Stacey Lee

The Sitch:

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.

The Confession:

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.

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Get Silk on your pull list now.

Elektra #1

All New Marvel NOW!

Release Date:  4/23/14

Words:  W. Haden Blackman

Pictures:  Michael Del Mundo

The Sitch:

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.

The Confession:

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:

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Ms. Marvel #1 (of a five part story)

All-New Marvel Now!

Release Date:  2/5/14

Words:  G. Willow Wilson

Pictures:  Adrian Alphona

The Sitch:

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.

The Confession:

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…

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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.

Empire of the Dead #1

Marvel

Release Date:  1/22/14

Words:  George A. Romero

Pictures:  Alex Maleev

The Sitch:

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.

The Confession:

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.