LAST WEEK’S COMICS TODAY VOL 10
Welcome back everyone to another installment of LAST WEEK’S COMICS TODAY! In this week’s installment we’ve got a superpowered team up between MS MARVEL and everyone’s favorite Clawed Canadian – WOLVERINE, plus dark magic and tentacle creatures are creeping into the world of RAT QUEEN. All that and we chat about the new THOR, Internet cynicism (and you better believe there’s plenty of it!) and the need to support diverse comics
And wow, as I’m loading this up I see it’s our tenth installment! I really should have planned ahead for this…
Anyways… hang onto your butts True Believers, because here we go!
A quick warning, there will be SPOILERS for the books, so you if you fear spoilers like I fear the Lovcraftian Horrors in RAT QUEENS might be real and some find their way to our dimension and subjugate all of us with their tentacled evil and and and and QUOPUOHSUHJKDBHJFH, then finish up your books and come on back when you’re ready.
Then on with the show!
MS MARVEL #6 (MARVEL)
W/ G. Willow Wilson
A/ Jacob Wyatt
We catch up with Kamala as she descends into The Inventor’s underground lair, filled with his little machine minions and *gasp* ALLIGATORS WITH FRICKING LASER BEAMS ON THEIR HEADS. She also comes face to face with The Inventor himself, who is not just a guy in a bird costume (and not a just a bird, as the man himself says) but a clone of Thomas Edison that got mixed up with a pet cockatiel.
Ok, that’s pretty original and pretty great.
They have a bit of banter, The Inventor professing that he’s not interested in killing Ms. Marvel, but wants her as part of his experiments. He finds her interesting and wants to study her – the first experiment is to see if she can adapt and escape his labyrinth of mechanical monstrosities.
And then Wolverine shows up.
Yup, Ol’ Snikt-Bub himself in issue six of MS MARVEL.
Kamala fangirls like crazy over him (I totally put you first in my fantasy hero team-up bracket!) tells him about the Wolvie / Storm fanfic she wrote and he does his usual grumbly Wolverine shtick (Sounds great, kid). There’s even a Doge reference thrown in there for good measure (Such athletic. Very claws. So amaze), which I fear is going to be very dated when folks read this comic for the first time five years from now. And after all of that’s out of the way, they fight an alligator and then get attacked by an even bigger alligator.
And that’s pretty much it.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this issue. I’ve loved this comic from the beginning, it’s always on the top of my ‘to read’ pile every week, but this one just seemed like a lot of filler. The inclusion of Wolverine seems very arbitray and unnecessary to me. At first I was like, ‘Um, doesn’t Logan have something better to do than slum it in the sewers of New Jersey going after some Z List villain? I mean didn’t Red Skull just steal Xavier’s brain and is threading the whole world, not just a neighborhood of Jersey City?’ There is one line about how he’s looking for a student who’s gone missing for the Jean Grey School to explain his appearance, though. (I still think they probably would have sent Toad or somebody else instead)
Like I said this seems like a two part filler arc with a Big Time Guest Star to help boost sales. And that’s fine, I know the figures for this book have been slumping since a strong debut, and I’ll suffer through a couple middling issues if it means greater long term stability for the book. It just seems way too early for Kamala to have a superhero team-up considering she just figured out how to use her powers properly in the last issue. And seemed so out of place for such a Big Name to show up considering how small and intimate the story of Kamala and her community has been so far. And I also think it takes some shine off of her – she should be able to escape The Inventor’s dungeon by herself with out help, especially from someone who throws down with the likes of Apocalypse and Kang in other books he appears in.
It’s unfortunate I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to, because one of my favorite comic moments of all time is between Wolverine and a rookie hero – Molly Hayes – back in the original RUNAWAYS series.
So great. But this moment came after Molly and the other Runways were established characters and it made sense that the X-Men would be trying to recruit a young mutant to their team. It didn’t seem forced like this.
And I really don’t want to continue being so negative – but the lack of Adrian Alphona on art really hurt this issue for me too. I get that in modern comics fill-in artists are a fact of life, and I thought Wyatt’s art was actually really nice, but Alphona is such a tough act to follow. It just didn’t have that energy, style and flair Alphona’s does. The small stuff even, like when Kamala makes her Giganto-Fist, it’s barely bigger than her normal hand, instead all huge and threatening like usual.
Oh well. This series has been so great it was due for hiccup. I think this Wolverine story is only lasting until the next issue, so hopefully we’ll be to the glory days after it’s all wrapped up.
RAT QUEENS #7 (IMAGE)
W/ Kurtis J. Wiebe
A/ Rock Upchurch
Seems like it’s been a long time since we had a new issue of RAT QUEENS, they must have taken a break so Upchurch could get caught up with art. That’s a great thing about creator-owned and indie books – they can take a break if needed so there’s not a disruption in the creative team, unlike in the Big Two as I lamented above.
When we last left the Queens, they were still recovering from the hangover of celebrating their defense of the city, while evil intentions were beginning to manifest from beyond Palisade’s walls. Bernadette, one of the Queen’s enemies since the start of the series, returns, but afflicted with some kind of curse that’s taken her eyes and left some kind of gross, toothy holes where they used to be – looks like some really nasty lamprey mouth thingie. Yuck yuck yuck.
Dee has a heart to heart with her estranged husband, another member of her cult, about the nature of their relationship, Dee’s new running mates in The Queens and her recent experiences with Dark Magics. Turns out Brenadette has been cursed by a ceremonial death mask from their a High Priest of their religion, and this is bad bad news, as she has been used as a conduit to the abyss by an evil mage.
That mage is Gerrig Lake, one of the Queen’s other adversaties, who is currently holding Hannah’s off-again-on-again lover and captain of the Palisades Guard, Sterling, captive in a remote castle. Gerrig is planning to destroy the city my summoning some Eldritchian Horrors from beyond – which he does on the issue’s final page.
After the fun and carefree vibe of last couple issues, the danger is being ratcheted up again to a level we haven’t seen yet. The Queens have dealt with other mercenaries, orcs, trolls and other such humanoid enimies before, but never anything like the giant Hell-Squids we see at the end. Great great cliffhanger.
Good mix of character development and the signature RAT QUEENS humor here too – we learn more about Dee’s past (who I think is becoming one of the more nuanced characters in the series) and an effect monologue from Gerrig expalinig his reasoning for seeking to destroy Palisades. The lols come from Hannah’s ever vulgar dialogue and a cute scene where a still high Betty who tries to eat Violet’s head, which she thinks is a giant peppermint (I want you inside me). I can’t really do it justice, but you should know what I’m talking about because you’re reading this book, right?
If the art was the delay, than it was well worth the wait, because Upchurch kills again in this issue – from goofy stoned Betty’s facial expressions to the slithering montroities unleashed on Palisades by Gerrig, he nails pretty much everything here. Upchurch excels not only in his character work, but in action scenes too – there’s a blistering multipage fight in here between Lola and some other mercenaries that’s juts breathtaking.
Dude is truly the King of Sexy, Swords and Splatter.
This week’s Superwoman of the Week is Thor. If you’re reading this than I can only assume you know Marvel announced THOR would be relaunched in the fall with a woman as the title character.
Not Lady Thor.
*Thunder and lightning and booming and such*
This of course, sent the Comics Internet into a tizzy, as just about anything that involves change to an established character does these days. Claims of ‘pandering’ and ‘tokenism’ abound as outrage with the announcement reverberated throughout social media. Many claiming this was just a gimmick, a cheap trip to boost sales.
Nonsense, I say.
As we have documented in these very pages, Marvel has made a concerted effort in recent years to expand the diversity of its characters either by creating new ones (MS MARVEL) or putting minority characters under the mantle of established ones (CAPTAIN MARVEL). To make one of their major characters female is not pandering at all, in fact it is very much congruent with the direction Marvel has been moving in regards to diversification of it’s books.
They’ve made female characters who are real and who matter.
This week aside, I’ve gushed incessantly about how great the new Ms Marvel is. The same claims of ‘pandering’ cropped up when she was announced because she was a Pakistani woman and it was nonsense then too. What Marvel did was create truly great character where none existed before and brought a new voice, a new point of view to their stories. She’s easily one of my favorite new characters in last decade or so, right up there with The Runaways and Cassandra Cain. Pretty damned good company if you ask me.
With Kamala Khan, Marvel did what they be should doing – bring more diversity to its offerings, and guess what?
The tokenism charges are garbage too. Marvel currently has at least five female fronted books on the shelves – they have consistently, going all the way back to the ’80s with the original SHE HULK book – provided the opportunity for female characters to stand on their own in solo titles. She is not merely one female solo hero in a sea of male dominated books, yes, the predominance of Marvel’s books do feature males heroes as leads, but that tide has been turning. Also, the idea that because this time it happens to be one of the Big Three, that she represents now a ‘token’ member of the Avengers or Marvel’s “Boys Club” is just ridiculous. She-Hulk, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel have all been regular members of the Avengers and have all had their own solo books.
One complaint I will agree with is that this change will only be temporary. The Big Two will shake things up like this from time to time, but history has shown they will always stumble back to the status quo.
Dick Grayson became Batman twice – in the ’90s and ’00s, but Bruce Wayne came back and took the mantle both times.
Peter Parker was replaced by Doc Ock as Spiderman, and he some how came back from being trapped in Otto’s dying body.
Captain America died and Bucky took over for a couple years, but Steve Rogers was eventually resurrected and took the shield back. I have no doubt Falcon will Cap for only a year or so until Age of Ultron comes out and Steve is under the Stars & Stripes again.
Comics gonna do what comics gonna do.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t try new things, that doesn’t mean cannot or should not shake up the status quo though. It doesn’t mean we can’t give the spotlight to a more diverse cast of characters, even if it’s only for finite period. It would gigantic shift for representation and diversity in comics if Man-Thor never wielded Mjölnir again, but that’s probably not going to happen. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support the book and the character, while it is happening though – it’s the only way real change is going to come about.
Three words, people:
Support. Diverse. Comics.