A-Force 1

a-force 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing A-Force 1, originally released January 6th, 2016.

Spencer: As comic book fans, we’re all used to the idea of alternate realities. They pop up with surprising frequency, but whether we spend just a few scant pages exploring them or several months immersed within their worlds, we’re always aware that they aren’t the “main” continuity, simply fun “what-if’s.” That isn’t true of the characters living within these alternate realities, though — for them it’s their home, their entire world, everything they know and love. That holds especially true for Singularity, the main protagonist of G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina’s A-Force 1 — hailing from God Doom’s Battleworld, Singularity’s entire life spans just the five issues of the first volume of A-Force, so for her the return of Earth-616 isn’t the triumphant homecoming it is for readers, but a strange, scary new reality that she knows nothing about.

A-Force 1 follows Singularity as she emerges on Earth-616 after the destruction of Battleworld. Pursued by a creature made of pure anti-matter, she seeks out her old friends from Arcadia, only to find that they don’t remember her at all. It’s a world far different from the one Singularity knows, and focusing on her confusion and inexperience is a smart move by Wilson for several reasons. First of all, Singularity is a charming character and makes for a likable central presence, not to mention one the audience can easily sympathize with.

childlike

Singularity is especially childlike here, thinking that proving herself useful will somehow jog Carol’s memory and make her like her, and it’s hard not to care about and feel for Singularity when she bares her soul like this. Indeed, she wears her emotions on her sleeves, allowing the audience to easily connect with her and feel what she feels. Molina’s an incredible asset in that regard, giving Singularity an adorable design but never failing to get her emotions across on the page, even when they’re horribly heartrending.

familiar

How can you not feel for Singularity at a moment like this?

Making Singularity the issue’s central presence and making sure she’s easy to connect with is also a smart move because of how well she functions as an audience surrogate. That was her main role in the first A-Force mini — in its most poignant moment, she broke down how each hero had inspired her, showing just what readers learn from their heroes and why we love them so much — and it works just as well the second time around. Singularity meeting each member of A-Force again for the first time allows Wilson and Molina to reintroduce each character, not only reiterating who each character is for any new readers, but reminding us all why we love them.

For Captain Marvel, it’s her clear-headed focus and especially her courage. As Carol faces down the anti-matter monster alone, Singularity flees to Earth, noting that she’s afraid, but wondering if she can be brave like Carol. At their best, that’s what superheroes do; they teach us to be brave. Medusa, meanwhile, has her royal demeanor fully on display, swiftly responding to a threat against New Attilan and putting the safety of her people first. While that leaves Singularity in a bad place, it is a fine example of responsibility and loyalty.

My favorite, though, is She-Hulk, who we get to see both as a no-nonsense lawyer who doesn’t allow herself to get pushed around and as someone who will immediately throw herself into the fray against an unknown enemy to protect someone she just met. Just like Captain Marvel, her bravery is inspirational, but I also appreciate how jovial Jennifer is throughout this whole affair. She immediately starts referring to Singularity as “little blue friend” and has no problem fighting and quipping with her right off the bat.

clothes are silly

That kind of acceptance is just as powerful as her bravery, and it may in fact be the most important quality of all for A-Force. After all, “sisterhood” was one of the key themes of the first volume, so it makes sense that it would still be important to the creative team this time around. In fact, this entire issue could be viewed as Singularity attempting to restore the bonds of sisterhood she once had with the protectors of Arcadia, and that hook also provides a fairly solid — if somewhat convoluted — explanation for why these particular Marvel women would band together as a team; they did so once before, even if they can’t remember it.

Is that enough to justify this team’s existence? Do they even need any sort of justification besides “some of Marvel’s coolest women hang out and work together?” I’m honestly not sure. I’m also not really all that invested in the anti-matter monster, who, aside from having some sort of connection to Singularity that could end up being interesting, is a rather generic opponent. But again, I’m not sure if any of that even matters. A-Force is clearly meant to be a character-focused title, and on that front, it succeeds with flying colors.

Really, though, strong characters and interesting interactions between them are exactly what I look for in a title anyway, so A-Force is off to a good start for me. How about you, Taylor? Did you find yourself invested in Singularity and her friends as I was?

Taylor: I’m totally invested in Singularity! While it’s typical for me to invest in fictional characters, I think it’s pretty rare that I do so after reading a single issue of a series. But Wilson does an excellent job in this issue of crafting Singularity’s voice and making her virtually impossible to dislike. Her blend of innocence, enthusiasm, and love for her friends is so heartwarming that I think even the most cynical of comic readers would be hard pressed to say they feel nothing for her. A perfect example of what just makes her so damn lovable comes when she’s escaping Carol’s spaceship. Seeing an escape with “Life Support Pod” scrawled on the door she makes a serious misinterpretation.

Support System

It’s a funny moment which certainly wins me over. However, I enjoy this scene for more than what is essentially a pun joke. Singularity is feeling pretty panicked at this point in the issue. Carol doesn’t recognize her and there’s an antimatter space monster outside that wants to end her for some reason. Naturally, she could use some support. I go through this same ordeal at least three times a week so I can sympathize with Singularity here. Life is tough and sometimes you just wish you had some, if any, kind of support to help you out. Her mistake here not only is charming in its humor, but endearing in that it speaks to what is a central tenant of being a human being.

This deft introduction of a character makes me excited for future issues of this series. If all of the main me heroines can be as expertly crafted as singularity then this will be a great read month after month. The exciting thing is, we get hints that that just might be the case. Spencer pointed out the ways Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Medusa are subtly being characterized and I think it’s fairly safe to assume the same will happen with the rest of the team. Why? Because of this.

Intros

This is the the third page of the issue where traditionally intros to the team take place. A lot of the time these intros are a pretty bland affair. A name, a short description, and a quick picture. While the panel above certainly meets all of that criteria it’s so much more. All of the A-Force members are introduced in a way that isn’t generic. Rather, they are introduced in the way that Singularity knows them. This gives me a more intimate appreciation for who these characters are and exactly what they mean to Singularity not only as team members, but as friends. From the start this establishes friendship and camaraderie as themes in this series and the way we get subtle glimpses of the A-Force team promises equally interesting character development.

I also enjoy this panel because creatively it’s extremely well done. Again, the way the team is shown to us doesn’t break the narrative continuity of the issue. Throughout this issue our narrator is singularity, not some disembodied voice. To that extent, instead of supplying little name tags to each team member Wilson introduces them to us within Singularities though process. Who said you ever needed a third person narrator to give the reader direct information? And of course this is just a beautiful panel to look at thanks to Molina. Singularity’s central position telegraphs her importance to this issue while the windows with each of her teammates reminds us that her memories of these women come from a different universe. Overall this is just a wonderful page to take in.

S0, even though the new reality the A-Force finds itself in may be scary, as long as they stand together they – and the series – will probably be just fine.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

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One comment on “A-Force 1

  1. The first A-Force should have been so good, but instead, the plot was nonsensical and it didn’t really have time for anything other than Nico and Singularity, who were by far the best part. So I was wary coming into this.

    It is alright. Singularity didn’t really catch my imagination. Not as good as she was in the miniseries (as bad as that miniseries ended up being). And all the comic really has is her running away from a villain, a monster so poorly defined in this comic (and it has been so, so long since Avengers 0), that the actual story isn’t captivating.

    But the real problem is the lack of agency the cast have in forming the team. Spencer discussed the idea of what, if anything, is needed to justify the team coming together, and my answer would simply be ‘they make the decision to’. But here, there really isn’t. Singularity bumps into a bunch of heroes whose only connection is that they look like friends she used to have, and that seems to be the justification. Captain Marvel and She-Hulk don’t make any choice to be involved in the story, they just get attacked. Compare that to Medusa’s entry, where she has made an actual choice to get involved in events, and therefore, by far, as the most interesting entry into the story. The rest simply get swept up in the story. It is a boring way to have A-Force come together, especially when the actual story is ‘generic monster chasing Singularity’.

    While team books certainly have very distinct differences to solo books, differences that make them a unique challenge, it is surprising that Wilson, who does such a great job in Ms Marvel at having characters actually make decisions and have agency in the narrative, simply has neither in this book where creating her team. Only Singularity and Medusa actually have any.

    This isn’t as bad as Waid’s Avengers, in that it at the very least has structure, doesn’t change ideas every second, isn’t more interested in reminding us of everyone else’s status quo (except Iron Man’s, where instead Waid constantly reminds us of a made up status quo that doesn’t exist), doesn’t spend its time crowing about how it is ripping off the first Avengers comic instead of doing something interesting, doesn’t have each individual scene make no sense at all, etc, etc (how did Waid mess Avengers up so badly. I don’t like him, but his work is usually mediocre and dramatically inert. Avengers is honestly bad). But I’m reminded a lot about it. Even if it isn’t broken in the fundamental ways that Waid’s is, it seems to share one problem too many. A focus more on getting the group together than actually caring about the characters. An emphasis on a story despite not actually having a plot that is interesting.

    Marvel are doing a hell of a lot of great stuff at the moment, but they have really failed their Avengers line. For all the issues the Avengers had with Bendis and Hickman, they never felt like this. I miss good Avengers comics

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