Mayhem, Magic, and History in This Week’s Comic Book Corner

Reading Time: 10 minutes
Our favorite comics to read this week
Our favorite comics to read this week

Since the last Comic Book Corner installment, we’ve found some great comics to read. MJAK and Kay dove headfirst into some new Marvel, some indie fun, and the brand new Blackbird with interior art by Jen Bartel.

There’s a lot to see in this week’s Comic Book Corner, so let’s dive in.

Kay Says: 

The Life of Captain Marvel #4

Cover of The Life Of Captain Marvel Issue #4

Writer: Margaret Stohl
Pencils: Carlos Pacheco, Erica D’Urso
Inks: Rafael Fonteriz, Erica D’Urso
Colors: Marcio Menyz

I will admit that I’ve been waiting to see how this series plays out, to a certain degree, before I said much about it. Back in March, we heard that Margaret Stohl’s new series was going to change Carol’s backstory in some important ways, and that this would tie into the new movie.

I was hesitant about this, to say the least. Carol’s story—her father’s refusal to pay for her college education, her time in the Air Force, how that influenced her entire life—how could they retcon that and call it a fresh start?

Turns out they didn’t, not at all. There’s going to be spoilers after here, okay, so if you don’t want to know, skip on down to my thoughts on Luke Cage.

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Carol’s original story was the Captain Mar-vell, a Kree warrior, saved her from an explosion. This somehow gave her certain aspects of Kree powers, making her able to fly, superhumanly strong, superhumanly durable. After this week’s issue, what we know is that Carol has always been half-Kree. Her mother was a Kree warrior sent to Earth to learn more about its people. She fell in love with a human man, and they had Car-ell—our Carol Danvers. The explosion with Mar-vell didn’t change her DNA; it activated certain Kree defenses, which triggered the activation of her powers.

I love—LOVE—this development. Carol has always been perceived as a girl Mar-vell, especially since she started her superhero career as Ms. Marvel. Her powers were always given to her through the intervention of a man; now, Carol is her own hero.

I’ve loved the slow, steady pace of this book, the experience of watching Carol’s life when she was just a kid, the pain of dealing with her history—an abusive father, a mother she didn’t feel protected her, more. The action is fantastic, the art is gorgeous, but it’s the story that’s moving me to tears here.

If you love Carol Danvers, this is a great comic to read. If you have no idea who Carol is but want to get introduced before the movie is released, this book is a good place to start.

Now excuse me, I need to go watch the movie trailer again a dozen times.

Best line: “Our Elders didn’t teach us how to live… they taught us how to stay alive. It’s not the same.”

Blackbird #1

Cover of Blackbird Issue #1 Cover B

Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Jen Bartel
Layout Artist: Paul Reinwand
Colorists: Nayoung Wilson, Jen Bartel

It turns out that if you take magic, sisters, and mental health issues (in this case, addiction), shake them all around, and add Jen Bartel on interior art (FINALLY), then you have created the ultimate Kay catnip.

There is so much in Blackbird that it’s hard to know where to start. Issue #1 is always hard to talk about; writers need to establish a world, set up a story, show you where it came from, and hook you on issue #2. That’s a lot for 22 pages. Meanwhile, artists need to establish tone, find a style, and communicate mood. When you’re walking in on an established superhero, that’s a little easier; everyone knows roughly what Iron Man’s costume looks like. With a brand new indie book? Different story.

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Blackbird is digging into some heavy material in its first issue. After Nina has a premonition of an earthquake, she—and the rest of the town—see a huge magical creature. Everyone else forgets. Nina doesn’t forget.

Fast forward. Adult Nina struggles with addiction, with responsibility, with life. She’s living with her sister Marisa, but she is pushing her away.

And then the magic comes back.

Jen Bartel’s artwork graces so many covers, variant covers, and particularly Jem and the Holograms. Seeing her do interior art is incredibly beautiful. She clearly knows how to do a full page splash, but smaller panels continue to showcase her exceptional posing, facial expressiveness, and show off her ability to create scenes through small details.

I love this book, and I will absolutely be topping my list of comics to read.

Best line: “I know what I saw. There is magic in the world. I just can’t find it.”

Luke Cage: Everyman (Marvel Digital Original)

Cover of Luke Cage: Everyman Chapters 1 and 2

Writer: Anthony del Col
Artist: Jahnoy Lindsay
Color Artist: Ian Herring

This week brought Luke Cage’s Marvel Digital Original series to a close. If you aren’t familiar, these books give you a complete story in three months; each month gives you a double-sized issue. The “Everyman” storyline dealt with a character who was able to give people illnesses. She went on a Robin Hood spree, killing the wealthy in Harlem, and eventually turning the regular people in Harlem against the wealthy.

Of course, Luke Cage is in the middle of Harlem, trying to take care of his people. Jessica (Jones) is away on a case, so he has Danielle (their daughter) to protect. And in the first issue, as he starts to struggle with confusion, head pain, and more, he is diagnosed with CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is caused by multiple concussions over time; athletes and veterans are most likely to be affected.

I was a little cautious about this storyline for Luke almost immediately. While the bulletproof hero was originally created to compete with other blaxploitation characters like Shaft, his presentation has evolved over the years. His Netflix series with showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, however, has embraced diversity and a deeper social awareness. Coker’s series is fully aware of the power of a bulletproof Black man in a hero in a world where Black boys and men are regularly killed by those who theoretically protecting them.

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CTE is a serious issue, and it made sense for Luke to need to deal with the chronic condition. After all, he’s been hit in the head a lot over the years. In Jessica Jones, he suffers such a severe concussion he almost dies; with bulletproof skin, there’s no way for doctors to relieve the swelling around his brain.

But dealing with actual CTE was going to do one of two things: either this character was getting sidelined permanently (like when Vic Sage [the Question] died of lung cancer before passing the mantle to Renee Montoya), or he was going to magically cured of his disease at the end of the series. Marvel went with option 2.

I love superhero stories, and I love that speculative fiction of all types can be used to discuss societal issues. What I don’t love is trick stories where it’s all better at the end. First off, CTE can’t be reliably diagnosed without examining the physical brain, meaning that the patient is dead. Second, CTE doesn’t get better. You can treat some of the symptoms, but the progression is generally dementia and then death. Luke Cage’s CTE is just gone. It’ll never get referenced again. At least responsible writers (like Kelly Thompson, in West Coast Avengers #2) reference and deal with Clint Barton’s hearing loss.

I am disappointed in this comic and the choices it made.

Weapon Hex #1

Cover Image Weapon Hex #1

Writer: Ben Acker
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval

If I’m entirely honest, I think I might have stressed out the person working the counter at my LCS yesterday. I went in to pick up a copy of Unstoppable Wasp for my kids and add it to my pull list when I saw the first issue of Weapon Hex on sale. I turned into that person muttering over a comic, wanting to know “who put my girl Laura on a cover,” and “why didn’t I know about this?”

I’m sorry, lovely person working at my LCS. I appreciate your willingness to not treat me as a hostile customer when I finally asked a real question: what is this Infinity Warps thing that’s happening?

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This seems to be part of the lead up to the next big Marvel crossover event, Infinity Wars (nothing like the movie, apparently). I hate crossover events and avoid them with a passion, but it was Laura Kinney on the cover, and I am deeply in love with Laura Kinney, so I added it to my bag.

The warps books mash up two characters and show you a vision of the two characters together. Weapon Hex mashes up Laura Kinney (X-23) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff). I have no real understanding of Wanda’s backstory, and can’t comment on how that was affected here. Laura’s life, however, would be interestingly altered by one simple fact: what if Sarah Kinney (Laura’s biological mother) had been able to be more involved in her childhood? How would that change the person Laura is?

These books are two-issue miniseries, so I’ll pick up the second one. This wasn’t one of my favorite comics to read, but it certainly didn’t annoy me. And if these are ever collected, it’ll be in some big huge tie-in book; for once, having the single issues makes sense to me.

MJAK Says:

Shuri #1

Written by: Nnedi Okorafor

Art by: Leonardo Romero

Cover by: Sam Spratt

T’challa disappears on a mission in space. Shuri, his younger sister and the genius behind much of Wakanda’s technological superiority, has been asked to reclaim the mantle of the Black Panther. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, building and creating the future. She’d rather be testing weapons than using them. But Wakanda is a nation without a leader—and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda’s welfare and her own.

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There is absolutely no comic this fall that I anticipated more the Shuri #1. I fell in love with Shuri sometime in 2007 after seeing her challenge Killmonger, but she was always a supporting character. When Black Panther, the movie, came out, Shuri was part of my reason for seeing it. Now, she finally has her own comic. I love it!

Romero does a wonderful job. My single favorite page (visually) was Shuri’s arrival at the meeting. Her stance is tall, confident, and noble. The artistic visuals are a perfect balance of striking without being distracting. The art blends in to the story and enriches it with emotion—the utter joy on Shuri’s face as she successfully tests her creations, the calm wisdom of the Queen Mother as she reconvenes that Elephant’s Trunk, the earnest openness of Mansa’s expression as she succinctly explains the issue Wakanda faces—carefully rendered. The art is much like properly done makeup on a beautiful face. It enhances the beauty of what is already there.

Okorafor writes Shuri exactly as she should be. Shuri is at her best. She is many things. She bears many titles. And in this issue, Okorafor shows up the complexity of Shuri’s personality. We see her humor in the fact that she named a creation “little Sauron,” her love for her family is woven through the story. We also see how she views her role in the kingdom, her commitment to her brother, and to her country. She values herself, takes pride in her achievements, and trusts her own judgment. It’s not that she is without doubt, but that she doesn’t allow them to push her into rash action. As Okorafor reminds us: “Shuri will do what she plans to do, regardless.”

Favorite line: “Shuri, you’re a woman of many names because you are so many things.”

 

Exorsisters #1

Writer: Ian Boothby

Artist/Cover: Gisèle Lagacé

“Did you sign a deal with the Devil? Has your fiancé been dragged to Hell? Then Kate and Cate Harrow should be the first ones you call for timely soul retrieval at a reasonable rate! But why are these identical twins so different? Is there a darker secret? An all-new ongoing series by Eisner Award-winning writer IAN BOOTHBY (The Simpsons, MAD Magazine), with art by GISÈLE LAGACÉ (Ménage a 3, Archie).” – Source Imagecomics.com

I am LOVING this comic. It’s such a fun read. The goth Archie art style is fun and refreshing. The pure irreverence of the Harrow sisters makes this a delightful romp through Hell. Seriously, if Archie comics and Beetlejuice had a baby, this would be it.

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Kate is a hard-drinking, guitar-playing, sensitive as a brick, smart ass, party gal. Cate is serious, studious, business-minded, and tactful. They are polar opposites but aren’t antagonistic to one another—a nice change of pace. They are a pair of paranormal investigators specializing in aiding those victimized by occultic forces. Their cases are more than they appear, and I have a feeling so are the sisters.

The first issue feels like the story is going to be a solve a case per issue style series until the end. You’re going to love the demon who got possessed by a six-year-old girl and the walking eyeball in a suit. There is clearly a lot more to Kate and Cate then meets the eye. Mom shows up at the end and she’s got a lot on her mind. Apparently, it includes the end of the world.

This is one to add to your pull list for a booster shot of pure fun. It’s on mine!

Favorite Moment:

Kate: “Want a Margarita, Daiquiri, Pina Colada?

Cate: “You know I don’t drink.”

Kate: “Get the door! I’m busy combining all three into one very bad life choice!”

Vampirella / Dejah Thoris #1

Written by: Erik Burnham

Art by: Ediano Silva

“The encounter that was destined to happen! When an alien scout ship crashes on Mars, Dejah Thoris must risk reigniting war with the Green Martians and becoming dinner for the white apes. But the stakes are raised so much higher when the ship is revealed to carry Vampirella, who is on a desperate mission of survival-one that might end before it truly begins!” ~ Source Dynamite Entertainment

We start off with a meeting of the military council as the Jeddak of Helium (who just happens to be Dejah Thoris’ grandfather) is considering what to do about an airship that appears to be heading for the dead city of Aaanthor. This is particularly sensitive since this area is contested by both the Red Martians and the Green Martians.

This meeting is already a bro-fest as the only female there is… you guessed it, Dejah Thoris. Points to Burnham for realism because the dialogue is solid and sounds like every business meeting where there was only one female. The moment Dejah Thoris gives her input Gur Tus tells her that this is not her area of expertise. She shuts him down with an amazing sarcastic “Had I only known this sooner, I could have avoided this meeting.” The Jeddak steps in before it gets nasty and asks Dejah Thoris her advice.

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Naturally, she tells him that she should go check the situation out before they send in a friggin’ regiment. This makes sense to me (and probably most Dejah Thoris fans), but leave it to bro-dude Gur Tus to start trying to mansplain military options to Dejah Thoris—he even calls her a defenseless female. Maybe he was referring to her scantily armored body and simply was unaware of the Rules of Female Fantasy Armor or he’s somehow totally unaware of her capabilities.

This time she’s having none of his nonsense and castigates him with a careful explanation of everything that is wrong with his plans. Then reminds him that she is skilled not on in evasion and fighting but in observation and discovery—you know, skills that you need to assess whether or not a random starship is an actual threat.

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Once she gets there we are treated to a demonstration of her telepathic power, a battle with a white ape, and the requisite catfight between to scantily clad females. Okay, I’m being a tad snarky, but upon discovering that the ship is inhabited by Vampirella, there is a solid struggle before the hungry vampire comes to her senses. Once the ladies communicate, we learn of the danger to Drakulon and the impending danger to Mars that neither the Green nor Red Martians could have anticipated.

I’m on the fence for this title but it’s staying on my pull list for at least a few more issues because this has good potential, I’m kind of loving Dejah Thoris’ attitude, and the girl bonding between her and Vampirella indicates the potential for a fun team-up.

Favorite Line: “Can we call it even? I saved you, sure, but I was also definitely, trying to kill you.”

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