Thursday, August 18, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #4: All-New Hawkeye

Despite the fact that I really enjoy Jeff Lemire's writing, I'll admit that I was dreading this comic. Mostly because if I was Jeff Lemire, I would have dreaded writing this comic.

For those who may not know, the previous Fraction/Aja Hawkeye series was a fan-favorite, critically-acclaimed, award-winning, just-plain-great comic book. It was not only one of my favorite recent comics, but one of my favorite comics ever.

Now I don't usually put this hat on when I'm writing about comics, but I am a performer. And as a performer, I hatehateHATE going onstage after somebody who just rocked so hard that they blew me and the audience away. I know it probably should inspire me and make me want to step my game up, but to be honest it usually just makes me want to go take a nap.

So when I approached All-New Hawkeye, I sort of did so with a mindset of "As long as they don't totally fuck this up and kill off all the characters or something, I will feel positively about this comic."

I think that about sums up how I feel about All-New Hawkeye: They didn't fuck it up. It didn't blow my mind, but it was a perfectly serviceable comic about the extended Hawkeye family. And that word "family" is probably about the best lead-in I can muster, because that's what they chose to make their story about.

See, there isn't just one Hawkeye nowadays. There are three. Obviously, there's Clint Barton, who you may only know as sexist asshat Jeremy Renner playing the most weird, pointless, and boring character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe... but who is a longstanding Avenger and a pretty okay guy once you spend some time with him in comic-form. There's Kate Bishop of the Young Avengers, a wealthy mob heiress who took on the Hawkeye mantle during a time that Clint Barton was dead (it's comics) and managed to win over the superhero community with both her attitude and skill. And there's also Barney Barton, Clint's sometimes-villainous older brother who recently went by the name Trickshot, but also spent some time as the Hawkeye of the Dark Avengers after Bullseye abandoned the role (again, comics).

Lemire decided to tell a story about these three Hawkeyes that weaves through their entire lives, flashing back into their childhoods and flashing forward into their (possible) futures. What could arguably have been just a story about the Hawkeyes fighting HYDRA was instead turned into a meditation on their origin stories, their goals, and their relationships to each other. It was quite nice, and Ramón K. Pérez did a fantastic job of keeping these different timelines visually distinct. It was powerful stuff, and would make for a solid introduction to the characters for a new reader, which can be a pretty important thing. In fact, if you're not super-familiar with Hawkeye as a character and you don't feel like doing a whole bunch of research, I'd definitely recommend this series to you.

My only real complaint about the series is that the story spent so much time in the past and future that it didn't do much for the characters in the present. Like... Kate maybe wants to explore her identity as a solo superhero instead of a sorta-sidekick or a member of a super-team, but really the story left the three main characters more or less exactly where they were at the start of the story. And in my opinion, that's not ideal storytelling for a serial medium.

My other complaint about the series is not at all the fault of the creative team, and is something that will come up again during my exploration of the "All-New, All-Different" Marvel Universe: The damned re-numbering.

You see, I couldn't actually just read issues one through six of All-New Hawkeye. FIRST, I had to read issues one through five of All-New Hawkeye, and THEN I could read issues one through six of All-New Hawkeye. When things went "All-New, All-Different", they knocked every series back to issue #1, even the ones that were midway through a storyline.

There was zero reason for this series to be renumbered, aside from some weird ideas about what fuels comic book sales. It is a perfectly coherent 11-issue story that can be read in one sitting. All this kind of shit will do is baffle new readers, the very people this story is perfect for. So I'm going to do something I try to never do on this site, and advise you to skip right over the single issues and buy the comics in trade-paperback form. Nobody's got the time to sort out if they're reading the FIRST issue #3 or the SECOND issue #3, it's bullshit, so just go to your local shop and grab the paperback collections.

I might be harping on this too much, but as I said, this is going to be an ongoing problem in these reviews, so I might as well get the rant out of my system. Like, what in the world does Marvel think they'll get out of this? It's not the 1990s: Most people have gotten past the "First issues are a financial investment!" scam. All I can think is that they're trying to make these comics SEEM like they're friendly to a new reader by plunking the number one on the cover, when really those new readers will be dropped into the middle of a story-in-progress, and that is both dishonest and shitty. And that's what makes me the angriest. It's not just an inconvenience to nerds like me; I'll keep reading these things for as long as they keep publishing them. BUT. It could potentially alienate a brand-new comics reader, and we all need those people if we want this whole comic book concept to continue.


That rant aside, I quite enjoyed this series, and am sad to see that it got cancelled after the first eleven issues. I don't know that anything will compare to the series preceding this one, but this one still had a solid foundation and could have gone someplace interesting if it was given more of a chance. As it stands, though, it's a nice user-friendly little book with a beginning and an end, and I suppose that's a good thing in its own way.

Marvel Catch-Up #0: The Introduction

Friday, August 12, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #3: All-New, All-Different Avengers

Okay, I'm gonna level with you: This has been a pain to write. Honestly, sometimes I am terrible at writing about comics that I straight-up enjoy. My first instinct is to just say "It's great, you should check it out," which doesn't make for a very interesting blog post.

So with that being said, let's take a look at the flagship title of the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe; All-New, All-Different Avengers.

So, the first thing one notices is that more than half these characters are NOT actually all-new to Avenging. Even the new Thor's got some experience with the team at this point.

Well, that's not entirely true. The first thing I noticed was the cover, because I have always been a big fan of Alex Ross and his fancy paintings. I know that sometimes his layouts are a little weird and often tend to be centered on a character's junk (case in point: the above cover to issue #1 which definitely started with Cap's dick and spiraled outward), but ever since Marvels first came out in '94 I've just really liked the guy.

One thing I've always enjoyed about Alex Ross is his love for the history of comics as an art form, and he's really putting that on display with his cover work on this series. It all hearkens back to the days when a comic's cover was meant to SELL; and if they had to get a little abstract, throw in some extreme hyperbole in the text, or even just go ahead and include things that don't even happen inside the issue, well that was just fine.

I honestly couldn't choose which cover best illustrates (oh shit, unintentional pun) what I like about these covers, so I'mma just show you all 12 issues he's done so far and you'll need to deal.

All-New, All-Different Avengers is being written by Mark Waid, whom I love. He's written some of my favorite comics, and I honestly can't think of any full-on shitty comics that he's done. I actually feel like I spent a bit too much time in my post about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lamenting the fact that he wasn't writing that comic anymore. His dialogue is always on-point, he never seems to fuck up on the minor details of a giant comic book multiverse, and he always manages to leave characters more interesting than they were when he found them.

The art on the book seems to bounce back and forth between Adam Kubert and Mahmud Asrar, with Kubert handling anything "big" like a crossover tie-in, and Asrar doing the "regular" issues in-between. Honestly, I prefer Asrar's work in this series: It's very expressive, and makes everything feel BIG, which is exactly what I want to see from a company's flagship title. I don't really have any problems with Adam Kubert's work, but I don't like the cognitive dissonance I feel when a comic bounces back and forth between artists, and I can't help but think that Marvel just wants a more famous (and possibly whiter?) name on the cover of issues that they deem capital-I Important. Asrar's art just fits this comic, in my literally-never-humble opinion.

Plotwise, this series feels very... classic Marvel? Hard-luck heroes banding together and fighting against the odds, etc. The story starts as any new Avengers story should start: With a villain showing up out of the blue and every hero within spitting-range showing up to battle them. This time it was... some Chitauri guy from Nova's ongoing series that I haven't been reading? With a much bigger villain pulling his strings, but I'm trying not to be spoiler-y up in here.

There are two major twists to this new band of Avengers. The first is that they have no money. Tony Stark is broke and they are operating out of an old airplane hanger with exactly one Quinjet. Instead of a mansion, they have a break-room. Instead of a kitchen, they have a hotplate. Yet Jarvis, ever-loyal, is still around... more for moral support than anything else. The second twist is that there is a group of teenagers on this new team, and some of the oldsters are not fully okay with that. While characters like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man are clearly capable of holding their own in a fight (and also holding down their own solo series), it's a learning process for people like Iron Man and Captain America to work with a group of non-sidekick teenagers. It does make the adult heroes seem a bit fuddy-duddy at times, but I still think it creates a neat dynamic. It also allows for a certain degree of teenaged bickering, which was kind of a founding concept of the Marvel Universe in the 1960s.

One thing I should address here is that, right in the middle of the series, we had to get yanked out of the ongoing plot to deal with Avengers: Standoff! I think this might become a recurring theme in these blog posts, as I cover the state of the Marvel Universe in the wake of Secret Wars. So I feel like I should make it clear that... I didn't like Avengers: Standoff! I even resent having to use that damned exclamation point.

Firstly, I hate crossovers that require characters to drop what they're doing in their own comics and relocate someplace else. It brings a story's momentum to a screeching halt. In this respect - for all the distaste I have for it - Civil War II is actually quite a bit less intrusive. The characters can have feelings and opinions and conversations about the issues being raised in the main Civil War II book without actually stepping away from what they were doing.

Secondly, Avengers: Standoff! hinges on something that has really been rubbing me the wrong way the past couple years: Ever since the 'death' of Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been run by a woman (Maria Hill), and during that time it has also frequently turned into a group of above-the-law fascist creeps who are fucking around with Cosmic Cubes and detaining and mind-controlling people without trial and blah blah blah, and like... It just feels a little sexist to me. It feels like they're saying a dude can run a massive international peacekeeping organization and everything will mostly be fine, but give the reins over to a woman and things are gonna' get completely out-of-hand within months. I'm probably just reading too much into bad writing, but it's hard to shake the icky feeling.

So from now on when I refer to Avengers: Standoff! I might keep it brief... possibly even brusque and dismissive in tone... and that's why. Also it was boring, and was mostly just a big con to make Steve Rogers young again and also a Nazi. Whatevs.

ANYWAY. I know I'm blowing past huge chunks of the story here, but this comic has so many big plot twists and revelations that almost anything I gave away would take all my readers to Spoilertown. I really just want all of y'all to read this comic, because it's really good. So the last thing I want to talk about here is the introduction of the Avenger's eighth member: a brand-new Wasp.

Nadia Trovaya is apparently Hank Pym's long-lost, thought-dead, Russian daughter. She's a genius inventor who was apparently put through the Red Room Program until she was able to escape and flee to America, where she assembled a super-suit from her father's old gear and introduced herself to the Avengers, which is when we as the audience meet her.

There isn't much to the character yet, as she's only been around for a couple of issues and it's an ensemble book, but I think that backstory is killer, and could lead to a lot of interesting stories down the line. Superhero comics can never go wrong with a shady past in international espionage. We've also gotten a fun scene where Jarvis drives her out to meet Janet Van Dyne (the original Wasp, whom she views as the stepmother she never met), and they spend the day getting to know eachother.

I have high hopes for Nadia. I also worry that as soon as she passes out of Mark Waid's hands, some other writer will chuck her under the bus. But that's how it goes for comics fans.


I was originally going to end this post there, but this week All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1 dropped, and OH MY GOD it is so much fun.

This is literally an entire comic about Ms. Marvel going online and reading fan-fic about herself... something she never expected she'd have to deal with, until becoming an Avenger.

It. Is. Amazing.

Each story is just an illustrated piece of crappy internet fan-fic, with occasional angry commentary by Ms. Marvel. It really captures everything that's fun about the character in a very clever way, and if I hadn't already made it clear by now, Ms. Marvel is totally one of my favorite characters.

It also includes this awesome shout-out to the haters story, which is just DELIGHTFULLY sarcastic.

Marvel Catch-Up #0: The Introduction

Thursday, August 4, 2016


So a couple weeks ago my wife and I took a trip to The Mall of America, and while at the Disney Store we spotted these adorable-but-strange little stackable pill-shaped toys called "Tsum Tsum" (which I assumed to be Japanese onomatopoeia for "Zoom Zoom" because they look like tiny missiles, but is evidently a shortened "tsumu" which means "to stack") and we were both equal parts baffled and amused.

They've apparently been around a couple years now. The Disney Store had them in several sizes, and they ran the full gamut of every Disney property. It probably goes without saying that I was immediately drawn to the Marvel Comics ones, but c'mon. They had a wee little Captain Marvel! She-Hulk! HAWKGUY! They were marketing the heck out of these little things, with everything from t-shirts to posters to like, flatware and school supplies... often amusingly with Soulja Boy reference "Stacks on Stacks on Stacks" printed on 'em.

So why am I covering these on my comics blog? Am I just trying to get Disney to send me free stuff? YES, PARTLY. But also, Marvel Comics dropped Marvel Tsum Tsum #1 yesterday, and the comic is evidently taking place in THE CORE MARVEL UNIVERSE! And friends, that is the greatest thing.

Here is a summary, from the official Marvel website:

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tsum Tsums are HUGE! Well, not LITERALLY (they’re actually pretty tiny) but these seemingly cute and cuddly creatures are sweeping the globe! So what happens when these pint-sized piles of fur find their way into the Marvel Universe? After a crate of them falls to Earth en route to THE COLLECTOR, one small group of Brooklyn teenagers will find out! Featuring all of your favorite Marvel heroes and villains, this is sure to be TSUM-thing you won’t want to miss!

So that about covers the plot. The story opens with the Guardians of the Galaxy diverting a shipping lane to make way for a space-turtle migration. A space-crate falls off a space-truck, somehow eventually lands in NYC, where it's found by a group of geeky, superhero-obsessed kids. When they open it, they discover a pile of blank(?) Tsum Tsums.

Very soon after, the Avengers come crashing through fighting Ultron, because living in Marvel NYC is probably a never-ending nightmare, and the Tsum Tsums immediately mimic the forms of the heroes (though not always accurately: the Thor Tsum Tsum inexplicably takes the form of the classic Donald Blake Thor, even though it has only seen the current Jane Foster Thor?) and begin wreaking ADORABLE HAVOC.

The kids rush around trying to collect their newfound alien pals, eventually luring them back into their apartment building with various Classic Marvel Moments™ that they have stored on their smartphones, which the Tsum Tsums apparently find soothing. They think they've rounded them all up, but - PLOT TWIST - oddball, meteor-obsessed supervillain The Looter also lives in the same apartment building and HAS STOLEN THE SPIDER-MAN TSUM TSUM FOR NEFARIOUS PURPOSES. OMIGOSH!

Obviously, I find all of this absolutely amazing, and I hope this comic goes on forever and has a Civil War II tie-in issue and becomes at least as major a fixture in the Marvel Universe as the Micronauts or ROM: Spaceknight, and yes I am 100% serious about that. A lesser company, and a lesser creative team, would have stuck these little guys into their own cutesy little book; but in the grand Marvel marketing tradition, the Tsum Tsums have instead been plopped straight into Marvel New York, given a diverse and clever supporting cast, and started fighting bad guys. I love that. So. Much.

Thank you Marvel, for always keeping things ridiculous and wonderful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Okay. I'm kind of glad I got to start this series of articles with a comic that I'm really enjoying, because this one was awfully disappointing.

He takes up half the cover and he's not even really Iron Man.

So I'm gonna just put this out there: I am one of the only people in my circle of friends who actually loves the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. I think it's outstanding. I feel like the first half of the first season was pretty dull and everyone gave up on it, and then the show got fantastic for the next several years. I could seriously watch Quake (Chloe Bennet) do super-powered kung fu all damned day. Kyle MacLachlan as Mr. Hyde is one of the best things to happen in a superhero show EVER. Absorbing Man is just non-stop badass whenever he shows up. Fitz/Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, respectively) are my favorite couple on any current TV show, and they actually introduced the characters with the slash already in their name, which was BRILLIANT.

I know that loving the show puts me in the minority. I do know that. However, it made me the exact target market for Mark Waid's original S.H.I.E.L.D. comic series based on it. It ran for twelve issues and was so much fun. I pretty much always love Mark Waid's comics, but that series soared way above my already-high expectations. It took these new characters all over the Multiverse, it had approximately ninety-bajillion guest appearances by heroes and villains from the most mainstream to the most obscure, and it firmly cemented a Ming-Na Wen character into the Core Marvel Universe. I loved it, loved it, loved it.

And then it got replaced with THIS book.

Now, don't mistake this for me just being salty. Mark Waid moved on to writing other books and that's fine. I'll review them later, and I'm sure I'll enjoy them. I don't dislike this new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series because of some fear of change. I dislike it because... it's really sucky.

The story so far has been amazingly dull. It is just a rehash of JLA: Tower of Babel (which, incidentally, was written by Mark Waid). Agent Coulson/Batman had ideas for how to neutralize every member of the Avengers/Justice League, which are subsequently stolen and put to use by HYDRA/Ra's al Ghul. It's been done and redone in comics over the past 16 years and - despite the fact that the original comic was great - I am so over it.

Marc Guggenheim is really phoning in the writing on this comic. I'm not positive, but I think this is his first ongoing series? At any rate, I generally think of him as a TV writer, and it really shows through here. Whereas Mark Waid began his first S.H.I.E.L.D. issue in Asgard and expanded from there, Guggenheim treats his comic as though it is on a tight budget and can't afford any large set-pieces or celebrity guests. It felt like it was almost entirely people in suits talking to eachother in offices. The occasional scenes of Mockingbird or Deathlok doing superhero stuff feel like an afterthought. In the absence of actors and directors, the characters all talk exactly the same. And it is often hella sexist. It feels like all the tropey garbage that people hate about TV shows, crammed into one comic series.

The comic also - bizarrely - lacks any sort of narration, internal monologues, or even thought-balloons. It is literally all dialogue, which also lends to the feeling of watching a crappy TV show.

Germán Peralta's art on the book is like... satisfactory? It's not great, not awful. However, judging by some of the pieces on his Facebook page, it seems like he's capable of a lot more.

Honestly, the only truly nice thing I can say about this comic is that Rachelle Rosenberg does a really good job on the coloring. It makes a lot of the images pop off the page, despite the fact that they're typically just images of people standing around talking. I hope she moves on to a better comic.

So yeah. If you really want to read a comic about Agent Coulson and pals having wild adventures across the Marvel Universe, go back and read Mark Waid's. If you want to read boring bullshit scenes of Agent Fitz inexplicably sexually harassing Agent May in the workplace, you're probably not reading my blog anyway, so fuck you.

Marvel Catch-Up #0: The Introduction

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #1: A-Force

So I decided to do this series alphabetically to avoid headaches. However, this means that I'm throwing part of the concept of the series out the window in my very first entry, because the truth is that I have been keeping up with A-Force all along. I love the characters, I love the creative team, and I think the book is delightful. So this won't be so much a "read along with Adhesiveslipper" thing as I'd like it to be; It's mostly going to be me evangelizing about how much I love this comic and you should too.

ANYWAY, now that I've wrecked my whole format, let's talk about A-Force.

A-Force, Volume 1

Things are going to get a bit weird for a minute, as A-Force is one of the few All-New, All-Different books to spin directly out of the barrage of miniseries launched in support of Secret Wars. It was first announced back before we had any details about what Jonathan Hickman had in store for us with the Secret Wars series, and all we got at first was the cover of the first issue and the fact that it was being cowritten by G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett. And let me tell you, I found both the writing team and the cover art VERY ENTICING.


That cover basically showed a bajillion badass ladies that we all know and love, many of them sporting incongruously outdated costumes, along with one Super Secret Mystery Character(!). When the early previews first hit, I mistook the Mystery Character for Tamara Devoux - a.k.a. Captain Universe - who looks VERY similar, but thankfully a group of nerds on a Heroclix messageboard corrected me on my grievous error and called me a few mean names for good measure! Thanks, Internet!

Suffice it to say, I was very excited about this whole concept. Wilson has won my admiration many times over with her comics work. An all-woman Avengers team appeals on the same level as the all-woman X-Men team Wilson briefly wrote about a few years back (though be warned that the first 17 issues of that series were instead written by noted sexually-harassing grossbag Brian Wood so I can't in good conscience recommend them).

What was this rad-looking, lady-filled comic even about, though!?

Well... That gets a little tricky. I promised myself I wouldn't get too bogged-down in Secret Wars stuff in these articles. So let's just say that the series was mostly about the complex politics of Doctor Doom's "Battleworld" and we can mostly leave it there. I don't mean to write the miniseries off like that, it was actually really fun. The story was full of great character moments, big action, and terrific dialogue. The first issue opened with the kind of GOSHDAMNED GIANT MONSTER FIGHT that is exactly what I want from my comic books, to be honest. It even had a Captain Marvel moment that will live in my heart forever...


...but at the end of the day it was mostly about how the residents of one Barony of Battleworld must never breach the boundaries of another Barony, lest they be cast beyond the Shield Wall by the Thor Corps of God Emperor Doom, blah blah et cetera et cetera. Personally I dug all that mega-detailed world-building, but it's not for everybody... so I'mma just skip over it.

For our purposes here, the important bits of the original A-Force miniseries were:

  1. There was a superteam of badass ladies led by She-Hulk
  2. The above-mentioned Mystery Character fell from the sky at one point.
"I'm... Batman."

The mysterious sparkly blue girl of mystery was eventually revealed to be a small universe, collapsed in upon itself during the destruction of the Marvel Multiverse and somehow given intelligence and sentience, though she remained childlike in manner. Okay, player. She was given the name "Singularity", and she became BFFs with Nico Minoru, and she helped A-Force along their convoluted adventure across Battleworld, and eventually she nobly sacrificed her own life to save her newfound friends. The end.

Now we can safely fast-forward to the comic I'm ACTUALLY here to talk about, lolz.

A-Force, Volume 2

So eventually Mr. Fantastic prevailed over Doctor Doom, the Secret Wars series ended, and we returned to good old Earth-616. An in-continuity A-Force series was launched, co-written by G. Willow Wilson and author/blogger/podcaster Kelly Thompson, who is rad but whom Wikipedia is apparently not yet hip to.

Full disclosure: I love this cover so much that it's currently the background image on my laptop.

The story opens with Singularity sort of just... poofing into existence somewhere in Earth's upper atmosphere, alongside the Alpha Flight space station that Captain Marvel is currently in charge of.

I felt this should have had a sound-effect, regardless of the physics of space. Maybe a POINK?

I should note that I have literally no idea why there is a space station called "Alpha Flight", nor why Captain Marvel is in charge of it. This whole project is about me getting caught up with current comics, and apparently this is one of the things I missed.

Interestingly, the narration in this first storyarc is delivered by Singularity herself, who remains confused and childlike, despite her cosmic powers. I feel like that was a really solid move from a narrative perspective: I love the idea of having a point-of-view character standing out from an ensemble cast. It sort of hearkens back to Kitty Pryde's role in the early-80s X-Men, and gives us as the readers a way to observe all the superheroics from a slightly different angle than we're used to. We aren't put straight into the shoes of the unstoppable badass: We're instead identifying with the confused kid, watching things unfold with a mixture of awe and terror. It really pulls some of the MACHO out of a superhero comic, and I think that's so useful in so many ways. I am also growing really fond of Singularity as a character, and specifically as a Cosmic Marvel character. Her power-levels remain undefined (which I'm fine with; let's learn along with her), but as near as I can tell, she is a human-sized, teen-girl version of Eternity - one of Steve Ditko's coolest creations - which could place her VERY high on the power scale.

So... Upon her sudden arrival in the Core Marvel Universe, it's made clear that Singularity actually remembers the events of the first A-Force miniseries, which sets her apart from most current characters, as far as I know. She immediately uses her... cosmic senses, I guess? to seek out a familiar face, and pays the nearby Captain Marvel a visit.

"HUH?!" I enjoy a good interrobang.

Singularity is surprised to find that Captain Marvel does not recognize her, and begins to piece together that she's arrived on a different Earth after her "death" on Battleworld. As introductions are being made, another cosmic entity poofs into existence outside of the space station. This one is a large red dude made of antimatter, so it's pretty clear from the jump that he's evil. He immediately starts attacking the station, and his ranting makes it clear that he's after Singularity. Captain Marvel jumps out into space and engages in some serious face-punching, but Antimatter seems unaffected. It soon starts to seem like Singularity is the only one who can cause him pain, though it somehow also seems to involve draining her energy/life-essence/whatever. It's vague, but I appreciate that vagueness. Comics that over-explain everything lose something for me: It pulls me out of the story and plunks me down in a classroom.

Singularity, afraid, hijacks an escape-pod and launches herself towards the Earth. She again reaches out for signs of her former friends, and finds She-Hulk at her law office in New York City. She crash-lands her escape-pod and is first spotted by a couple of goofy hipsters that look QUITE A LOT like Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick...

This is not a particularly serious comic.

Singularity quickly finds out that Antimatter abandoned his fight with Captain Marvel to chase after her. He continues his self-aggrandizing ranting, which is right and proper for a supervillain.

She flees to She-Hulk, who - despite the fact that she does not know Singularity and has very little idea what is happening - recognizes the threat and jumps into the fight without much questioning, because she's a goddamned superhero.

Medusa shows up shortly after with an army of Inhumans in tow, and joins the battle as well.

During a brief pause in the fighting, Singularity teleports herself, Medusa, and She-Hulk to Japan, where they crash the wedding of Nico Minoru's cousin. Antimatter quickly catches up with them, and Nico - obviously - joins the fight too.

There is a really sweet exchange at this point where Singularity expresses surprise that these women are willing to help her despite not sharing her feelings of familiarity, or even being from the same UNIVERSE as her, and She-Hulk states her feelings quite simply: Helping people is what we do.

I literally got misty at this panel. Shut up.

As a brief aside, this book has introduced the idea that Nico has been studying languages beyond English and Japanese to circumvent her can-only-cast-a-specific-spell-once-ever restriction. She casts a healing spell on herself in Estonian, explaining that she requires healing spells fairly frequently. This was a very brief moment, only a couple panels on the page, but I felt like it was a very clever idea and a potentially-huge change to the character.

The heroes receive a call from Captain Marvel, who conveniently suspects that a blast of "light energy" could hurt Antimatter. I say "conveniently" because it serves mostly as an excuse for them to once again teleport away and recruit the last member of their team: Dazzler.

Dazzler has in the last couple years been turned into a brooding punk-rocker after some traumatic events in Uncanny X-Men, and we find her at a roller-derby match, competing as "Ali-STUN Blaire". I thought that was cute.

Dazzler joins up with her fellow superheroes, Antimatter appears again, their attack fails again, and they retreat back to Captain Marvel's space station.

Captain Marvel and her team of scientists(?) announces that they have found a way to defeat Antimatter, but it will also mean the destruction of Singularity. The members of the newly-formed supergroup all agree that that is not acceptable. They eventually build a super-scientific MacGuffin that will protect Singularity while blowin' up Antimatter, proceed to blow his ass up, and then they all go out for burgers.

In the final scenes, Dazzler opens up about her trauma to her teammates (I'm not going to dive too deeply into it because it's complicated X-Men stuff, but basically Mystique took her hostage for several months and drained her blood to synthesize special mutant-drugs), and then asks Nico to magic her up a new superhero costume. Which leads to one of Sister Grimm's most adorable spells ever:


Singularity then senses that Antimatter was NOT destroyed, and that sentient pieces of him have been scattered across the globe. The End? Nah, obviously not.

I really ought to mention that I'm well aware how quickly I've blown through the entire first storyarc, four issues long. I don't want you to feel like I am minimizing this comic, because I absolutely am not. I'm keeping things super-brief here for two big reasons. Reason One: I really think everyone should read this book, so I want to provide the barest possible summary of events. I don't want to spoil all of the clever plotting, quite-funny jokes, and brilliant dialogue. Reason Two: The story is simple, but without being simplistic. Despite the complexity of the story and the world it is taking place in, it all boils down to a team of superheroes being formed to fight a random-but-powerful baddie, which is a formula that Marvel has been using literally since the formation of the Avengers in the 1960s.

At issue #5, G. Willow Wilson has left the book, with Kelly Thompson becoming the sole author. Her writing has moved towards a third-person-omniscient narrative, as opposed to being filtered through the eyes of Singularity. The art also has taken a distinctly more cartoonish turn at the hands of Ben Caldwell.

I love Dazzler's straight-up "PEW PEW PEW" pose here.

At the beginning of the issue, Singularity has teleported the team to the location of some sort of rip in space/time. They are immediately greeted by the sight of THOR BATTLING A BIGASS DRAGON OVER OREGON.

There is also a very fun introductory panel for the characters:

They immediately join in the battle, because as She-Hulk says: "I wanna fight it. Hell, one that size has been on my bucket list for a while..."

I love the look of elation on She-Hulk's face as she is being chucked at a dragon's head.

After a sound thrashing, the dragon retreats, and they notice that the Thor they've teamed up with is not the Thor they were expecting...

...but is instead a HOLY CRAP DAZZLER THOR, a remnant of Battleworld's Thor Corps, who reveals that the dragon was actually an evil sorceress named The Countess... who seems to also be from Battleworld, but I'm not 100% on that because she was not in any of the miniseries that I read. If anybody feels like filling me in on that, it'd be rad.

The Countess

Dazzler obviously has some feelings about meeting a Thor version of herself. They all go out to get beer and pie together.

The Countess soon gains control of Nico's mind, and Nico uses her not-insignificant magical powers to put the rest of A-Force in peril. And that is where the latest issue's cliffhanger leaves us.

To put it bluntly, I am loving the hell out of this comic. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I am really looking forward to future issues. I am a bit concerned that things will take a dark turn, as Brian Michael Bendis has recently killed off She-Hulk in the Civil War II series, but I have faith that Kelly Thompson can push past that Grimdark Garbage Crossover Shit and continue telling a fun, positive story about women and girls who kick ass.

Marvel Catch-Up #0: The Introduction

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #0.5: OMG SJWs!!!

So this came up in my Facebook "On This Day" thinger and I thought it was worth sharing here:

I had actually forgotten that the teaser images for All-New, All-Different Marvel caused a minor ruckus amongst the Angry Twitter Whiteboy crowd, who are ever-eager to label anything and everything an example of political correctness run amok. I'm glad I got the reminder, because that will provide a useful lens to view these comics through. Was it even an actual attempt to be more diverse at all? If it was, did it succeed in any meaningful way?

I had also forgotten about the fear at the time that Marvel/Disney was going to use the minor rebranding to further distance itself from properties whose film-rights belong to Fox, namely the X-Men. It was a fear I shared, to an extent (X-Tent?). It didn't turn out to be the case at all, really, but it's another useful reminder of the feelings people had about the fate of the Post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe at the time.

Oh and for the record: According to dudes on Twitter I am already officially a SJW, a Beta Male, a White Knight, a Try-Hard, and a badge-carrying officer of the PC Police. Just so we all know where we stand on this whole "diversity" thing!


(Image Text, via Me-From-One-Year-Ago:

So wait, THESE are the teasers that have all the dorks freaking out about how the PC Police are diversifying their comics to death? Three black guys, a brown girl, and a VERY questionable Native American cliché (I mean I kind of like Red Wolf but the writers will have to be VERY careful)? Everybody screaming that they're "turning Wolverine into a woman" despite the fact that's clearly X-23 and she's clearly STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO not only Wolverine, but the Wolverine from noted sexist grossbag Mark Millar's relentlessly-bleak "Old Man Logan" story that these same dorks all looooved?
Honestly, I am reassured by these images. They still have mutants, they still have a Fantastic Four character (even if it looks like The Thing's joining the Guardians of the Galaxy?), and Karnak - one of my favorite characters - is apparently alive again.
Really guys, my literal biggest concern here is that Spider-Gwen gets a better name than "Spider-Gwen".

Friday, June 3, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #0: The Introduction

Hi! So... I went away for another couple of years. I am not great at being consistent!

HOWEVER, I have a thing I want to write about! It's going to be a SERIES, even!

See, I usually pride myself as somebody who is mega up-to-date on superhero comics. But I have fallen almost a year behind on the stuff that Marvel is releasing! Suddenly Cap is in HYDRA, Civil War II is getting fired up, and my friends have questions for me that I can't answer! I KNOW, HOW EMBARRASSING!

The truth is, I got a little burnt out by Secret Wars. This is not to say I didn't enjoy Secret Wars, because I actually thought it was amazing. It capped off Jonathan Hickman's genuinely-epic multiverse-spanning storyline - that started wayyy back with his first issue of Fantastic Four in 2009 and then ran through FF, Avengers, and New Avengers over the next 6 years - in the perfect way. But it was also HUGE. There were eighty-bajillion tie-in miniseries that I still haven't finished making my way through. There were delays and shipping conflicts that led to new books being launched while, as far as anyone reading Secret Wars knew, there wasn't even a Marvel Universe for them to take place in. It all turned into a big, confusing, stressful mess for me, so when Marvel officially rolled out their All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch...

...I got left behind. I ended up rereading John Ostrander's entire Suicide Squad run when I could have been catching up with Marvel (though that was worth it because god I love that comic). Image caught my attention with some new books. I started hanging out with DC a little bit. There were a few Marvel books that I kept up with - Howard the Duck, for example - but I've stayed away for the most part, and WITH NO GOOD REASON! A lot of the books Marvel was doing seemed REALLY FUN!

So here is my big idea: I want to get caught up on this stuff, and I want to bring y'all along for the ride. I know that many of my friends really like to follow along with their favorite characters, but don't necessarily have the time or inclination to read all the comics that come out. Well, I have time to read comics. I have time to write about comics. I even have a blog about comics, that mostly just sits around taking up space in the tubes of the internet. So I will read the comics, and write to you about those comics, on my blog about comics! I will call it...


I was gonna make a logo to put there, based off the old Marvel Team-Up comics, but then I remembered that Marvel Team-Up had literally the most boring logo of all time.

Like, seriously? Nobody could do better than block letters? This comic ran for YEARS. Ugh. It's how I used to write band-names on my notebook when I was twelve.

Now I just have to decide if I want to read these comics in alphabetical order, or in what-do-I-feel-like-reading-next order. Or maybe I could take requests? I dunno.

Anyway, that is my idea.

But Adhesiveslipper, won't I have to read Secret Wars first? This was supposed to be a reboot of the entire Marvel Universe, wasn't it?

Nahhh. Marvel is too smart to reboot their whole universe. Mostly Secret Wars was just an excuse for Dr. Doom to be God for a while, and for writers and artists to do some fanciful miniseries set in the weird context of Dr. Doom's Battleworld. The only significant change is really that the "Ultimate" line of Marvel comics got cancelled, and a few important characters from there made the jump over to the main "Earth-616" Marvel Universe. So besides the fact that there are now two Spider-Men running around (Miles Morales and Peter Parker, if you're WAY behind), things are pretty much the same as they were before. If there's anything important from Secret Wars in a specific comic that bears mentioning, I'll fill you in. I'VE GOT YOUR BACKS, FRIENDS.