How Directionality Sells the Drama in Ms. Marvel 34

by Drew Baumgartner

Ms. Marvel 34

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The only limits in comics are those of the imagination and the page itself. That sounds grandiose, but I genuinely believe that to be true. There are no CGI budgetary restrictions or limits of practical effects that could make a shot or a sequence impossible (though time constraints may make big crowds on horseback less likely), no locations on earth (or off) that can’t be used, no detail to small that can’t be captured in a panel. That means comics are a medium with nearly infinite potential for flashy epicness, which can easily hog our attention. But its the fundamentals — nearly universal to all storytelling — that ultimately make a comic sing: characters, clarity, and heart. Sometimes those flashy elements can help connect us to those fundamentals, but sometimes it’s the simpler details that sell the story. Such is the case with G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon’s Ms. Marvel 34, which utilizes one of the most basic givens in the medium to remarkably effective results. Continue reading

Death Roulette in Death of the Inhumans 2

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The title Death of the Inhumans makes one specific promise: some Inhumans are gonna die. But y’know, this is a comic book, and odds are just as good that the title is sensational hyperbole that they are of the title being literal. Writer Donny Cates and artist Ariel Olivetti spend the entirety of issue 2 insisting on three simple things:

  1. The Inhumans who have been killed already.
  2. The Inhumans left to kill.
  3. Vox’s ability to kill any Inhuman.

By the end of the issue, the reader is forced to take the threat of the title seriously. Cates and Olivetti cash in on that seriousness with one hell of a gut punch. Continue reading

Themes and Team Make for a Dream in Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel 1

By Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

On paper, the team-up of Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel makes too much sense for it not to happen. Both heroes are young protagonists. Both are second tier Marvel heroes next to the headliner Avengers. And perhaps most importantly, both of their series are strikingly modern and fun. But just because a team-up makes sense in theory doesn’t mean it will really work in practice. Artistic differences and such often derail the best laid team-up issues. Baring this in mind, does Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel 1 strike gold or strike out? Continue reading

Character Drives the Drama in Marvel Rising Alpha 1

by Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Marvel Rising Alpha

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew: For most of my mid-20s, I worked for an academic summer program — basically, summer camp for nerds. As with most work with youth, the job was both rewarding and frustrating, with unexpected problems often interrupting the flow of what we might imagine a “normal” day to be. Indeed, those unexpected problems came up so regularly, that my boss’s regular refrain was “don’t let the urgent crowd out the important” — that is, don’t forget the part of the job that isn’t putting out fires. It’s straightforward advice, insisting that every part of the job is important, but I think it’s particularly salient when dealing with kids — you don’t want the loudest, most poorly-behaved students to command all of the attention, as the quiet, well-behaved students might be struggling just as much. It’s a hard balance to strike, especially for the college-aged students we hired as instructors, so I understand exactly why Doreen Green makes the missteps she does in Marvel Rising: Alpha 1. Continue reading

It’s OK to Keep Secrets in Ms. Marvel 30

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In any relationship, romantic or otherwise, there are bound to be secrets. For a long time, there was belief that prevailed which said your partner was entitled to know everything about you, which basically meant no secrets were kept. However, times have changed, and people have begun to accept that it’s healthy and natural to not tell your partner everything. That’s not being duplicitous, that’s just being human and respectful. This is healthy turn of events, but as with all things, it’s more complicated if you’re a superhero, just as Kamala find out in Ms. Marvel 30. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 29: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Taylor: There’s a reason why Archie comics are still around almost 80 years after the first issue was published. The lives of teenagers, to a certain extent, will always be the same, and Archie comics have traditionally done a pretty good job of chronicling what it’s like to be a high-schooler. In particular, the series’ focus on the romantic and emotional lives of its characters is what has made it an enduring title. After all, it’s not necessarily your AP Biology class you remember so much as the crush who happened to sit next to you in it. But it would be a mistake to think that Archie comics have cornered the market when it comes to teen dramas, or, as Ms. Marvel 29 shows, that teen dramas can’t include super heroes. Continue reading

Exiles 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Ryan Desaulniers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Mark: The best teams are made up of strong, diverse personalities that bring out the best in each other. This is especially true in fiction. The individual members don’t need to always get along, conflict drives any story, but a certain baseline level of respect is necessary. One of the most impressive feats of team building in recent history has to be 2012’s The Avengers. Looking back with full knowledge of the incredible success Marvel Films has achieved almost unblemished since Iron Man ten years ago, it’s easy to take for granted the fact that The Avengers worked at all, but at the time it was incredibly risky. Going back and watching The Avengers now, the first two-thirds of the movie drag quite a bit as writer and director Joss Whedon works to establish the team dynamics, but that groundwork was necessary not just for the first movie, but for the Marvel Films team-ups to come. Again, we take for granted now that all of these characters can seamlessly interact with each other, but that’s only because the hard work was done by that essential first Avengers film. In Exiles 1, Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez, and Alvaro Lopez begin the work of building their own superhero team, and, like The Avengers, their patience in this premier issue sets them up for long term success. Continue reading

Pacing as Character in All-New Wolverine 33

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I love the idea of popping into a character’s far-flung future. It’s a way of taking a character’s essence and teasing out the results of a life lived in that essence — the ultimate if-then statement. If you’re a violent loner, then you end up alone and wracked with guilt. It’s all effect, and the cause is understood to be part of the character’s DNA. All-New Wolverine 33 kicks off the “Old Woman Laura” story, and writer Tom Taylor and artist Ramon Rosanas show the result of Laura’s legacy of positivity and leadership. Even in a world that was rocked by Doom World Wars, there’s still joy, prosperity, sorority and productivity in Laura’s future. Continue reading

Sometimes a Comic is Actually Comedic in Ms. Marvel 28

By Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Comics as a medium suffer from a case of poor branding. They’re called “comics” even though a majority of what we think of when we think of comics aren’t comedic at all. One has only to pick up an issue of Batman to get what I mean — the Dark Knight’s adventures aren’t exactly full of laughs (Joker antics aside). There are reasons for this nomenclature, of course, but it’s always kind of rewarding when comic treats its content with levity. This proves true in Ms. Marvel 28, but G. Willow Wilson accomplishes this without losing any of the series’ heart. Continue reading

Inspiring Vulnerable Populations in Ms. Marvel 26

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Kamala Khan is such a good kid. She get’s these stretchy-growy-shrinky superpowers and the very first thing she does is try to protect the vulnerable people in her community. Of course, that doesn’t mean helping impoverished families navigate the SNAP program or helping people with job placement or anything like that — it means punchin’ bad dudes with her temporarily over-sized fists. It’s an inspiring thing, both to read and for the characters within Kamala’s orbit. Issue 26 continues the ‘Teenage Wasteland” story arc by showing us just how thoroughly Kamala has inspired her friends to act as nobly and selflessly as she did when faced with roughly the same threat. Continue reading