There are a few different styles that play out in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel run, but the one that really grabbed me was this variant cover by Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho. Simply outstanding.
Captain Marvel #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho
I can only apologise that I’ve neglected this blog in the past few months. More is coming soon, I promise!
Well, it’s true! In a slightly strange story called Battle Scars, penned purely to add elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the comics, both Coulson and Nick Fury Jr, who just happens to look like Samuel L. Jackson, are introduced to readers. However, to preserve the surprise of who these characters really were, they had different names until the final pages of the last issue, and, up until then, Coulson is known as Cheese!
Battle Scars #1, Christopher Yost, Matt Fraction, Cullen Bunn & Scot Eaton, Marvel
Paper Girls is a fun series written by Brian K. Vaughan, the author of classic series like Y: The Last Man, Runaways and Saga, so automatically you should realise that this series is worth a read. No slight on the art either, Chiang and Wilson do an exceent job of bringing the world to life. The story centres around a group of young girls in the late 80s, on their paper round, where they find… Well, I can’t just tell you, you’ll have to read it for yourself! But this issue is the final part of the second arc, and the last issue for a few months, so now is the time to start catching up!
Paper Girls #10, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cligg Chiang & Matt Wilson, Image
In the middle of Infinite Crisis, a supercharged scarab is flung around the world in an explosion, and is found by an unsuspecting young Texan called Jaime. That night, it bonded to his spine, and he became the superhero known as Blue Beetle.
But let’s backtrack for a second! Jaime isn’t the first person to take the name. That would be Dan Garrett. He was the original owner of the scarab, and he had a lot of adventures in Foxy Comics and Charlton Comics. Then Ted Kord took over the role, and whilst he didn’t get the scarab till later, it didn’t have any effect on him, and he fought crime regardless. He had no powers, and was basically a bright blue, tech-based Batman, who also adventured in Charlton Comics before transferring to the DC Universe with a bunch of other heroes in Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he lived for a while, until he died in Infinite Crisis. You got all that?
Back to Jaime then. There was a big explosion when Ted Kord died, the scarab was sent flying to Texas, where Jaime found it. At first, when it bonded with him, he thought it was magical in origin, but quickly he found out that it was actually alien technology, from a race called the Reach, who fought the Green Lantern Corps. In fact, after his first fight in Infinite Crisis the scarab teleports Jaime home, away from the Lanterns fighting with him, and accidentally time jumps him forwards by a year. Life for his family and friends had significantly changed in that time, and, unlike many heroes, Jaime was very open with them about his new identity as Blue Beetle.
The Reach weren’t best pleased that Jaime’s scarab, a weapon with which they would invade Earth, was in possession of a human and seemingly malfunctioning, so they came into conflict. It was during their ongoing fights that Jaime joined up with the Teen Titans, eventually becoming a member of the team after overcoming confidence issues. (This relationship was also shown in the DC animated series Young Justice, before it was unfortunately cancelled.) But then, as these DC tales always go, Barry Allen messed with the timestream, and things got broken.
His origin was changed, as Infinite Crisis no longer happened, but he was still attached to a Reach scarab. This time, the scarab was broken, allowing for Jaime to remain uncontrolled when the Reach try to attack him. He teams up with Kyle Rayner to save a planet being attacked by the reach. But, ultimately, not much happens, because Jaime was criminally underused in the New 52, which is something I’m not at all happy with DC about.
But, with DC Rebirth, Jaime is back. Interestingly, so is Ted Kord, and they are currently teaming up to fight crime. Two generations of the same hero, fighting alongside one another. Now that is a legacy hero. Not Batman with his legion of sidekicks that have gone on to outshine him, not Superman and his son – though that is hella close. No, this is a hero who died, coaching and fighting with the hero that took his mantle. And I love it.
And whilst a lot of other stories interest me, it seems that books like Morning Glories and the subject of this post grab my attention more than most. It could just be the writing, both Nick Spencer and Rick Remender are excellent writers, or the art, which is exceptional in different ways in each book, but I feel it is more than that.
Nobody has the super strength of Superman. No one can summon lightening like Thor. But everyone went to school at some point, and that makes the comics relatable. Deadly Class is about a school for assassins, and whilst I’ve never had lessons quite like the characters here do, the scene that is set is one that is utterly relatable.
And, to quote the introduction to the first volume, it portrays one hell of an acid trip.
First off, let me give you some background in case you do not know who Kamala Khan is. Kamala is the current Ms Marvel, the 4th character to take the title, she is a geeky teenager from New Jersey, who is most interested in pursuing her fun gaming life style and writing her fan fictions about the marvel superheroes. But things change for Kamala when she sneaks out of her house to go to a party and accidentally gets exposed to the spreading terrigen mist (explained in Infinity). After being exposed Kamala is rendered unconscious, when she awakes she finds that her body has been changing (not like that) and she is now… a young Carol Danvers in her warbird costume.
Before she has much time to address this, she hears one of the party goers calling for help and rushes to help them, where she uses her new power to save her. Kamala’s new powers allow her to manipulate her body; growing, stretching, shrinking etc. and the ability to change her general appearance. Upon returning home she finds herself returned to normal, and from this point on she is on a journey of discovering how her powers work, meeting her idols and becoming the perfect new hero for young people to look up to.
OK, backstory over. So Kamala is a young hero, but there are also characters like the new Nova, Sam Alexander, and heck even Miles Morales why aren’t you calling them the new Spider-Man? After all Miles literally is. Well that is because I feel Kamala quickly touches onto a subject that is very important for young readers and that is a feeling of disconnect from society. One thing I have specifically not brought up yet about Kamala is that she is a Muslim superhero, the first to star in her own title, and as such works as a good model for a group that has been made to feel derided by society and that they don’t positively contribute. And this very thing was very important in writer G. Willow Wilson’s mind when coming up with the character, she gave an excellent Ted talk which I advise you all to watch. As she explains growing up now feels very different: in the past it was a time of excitement and ingenuity where anyone could go on to do great things. But this generation are almost encouraged to think the opposite, the future is bleak and we are a good for nothing generation, who think nothing of anything but ourselves, things that can make you feel guilty for living. But Kamala wants to give hope, that even if you are different you can contribute and whatever people they tell you, you fight through it, to be who you dream you can be.
The most shining example of Kamala talking to her young audience comes from her second volume of her first run, Generation Why. This volume mostly tackles her fight against The Inventor, a giant cockatiel who is an imperfect clone of Thomas Edison… OK, you have to just let a few things slide in Comic books.
Soon after this encounter she discovers that he has been kidnapping teenagers to use as power sources for his machines… Again, comic logic. Of course, she tries to rescue them, and succeeds, but only to learn that they did not actually want to be saved. The teens have come to believe that this is the way they can be most useful, to just stop being around and use them for power. And this is where Kamala gives her speech to them that if we accept that we are a waste of space then what future can we fight for and while the world is in a difficult situation we have to keep living or what’s the point in saving it.
Ms Marvel #10, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
Ms Marvel #10, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
Ms Marvel #10, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
Like how Spider-Man was in the 60s, representing the average teenager that is what Ms Marvel is doing now for the modern generation. And this is why I give her the distinction of being the modern age equivalent of what Spider-Man originally was. Personally, when I first saw Ms Marvel I was sceptical. It felt like it would end up being a preachy series, and I wasn’t too interested, but I am glad that I was wrong. The series is a very fun and charming read and I personally recommend them to everyone, the series continues to be one of my favourites from Marvel.
Currently Ms Marvel is an Avenger and on tony Stark’s side in the ongoing Civil War II. She is also in a bit of a love triangle (which she denies) with Sam Alexander and Miles Morales, who knows how that will play out (#TeamMiles). At any rate Ms Marvel looks set to continue great stories for some time to come and I really recommend that you all check her out (I will lend you the comics!).
No? Well, it’s true! Captain America had to dare her to take up the name after she had changed her costume to one similar to the previous Captain Marvel’s, Mar-Vell. She didn’t want to steal his name, but he argued it was a title, and an honour that had already passed onto her. However, it took him taunting her that she couldn’t handle it (and a trip into space) before she actually agreed to take the name.
Interestingly, Carol had thought about it very recently, in a Secret Avengers tie-in to Avengers Vs. X-Men, where she met someone in the image of Mar-Vell, and pondered that maybe his mantle should live on, however she would not take the name until the darte. This story was also one of the last times that Carol went “Binary”, until the recent Ultimates run that is.
Captain Marvel #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Dexter Soy, Marvel
Two DC titles in two weeks, sorry! And two Batman titles in two weeks, even worse!
At the start of the New 52, Francis Manapul (alongside Brian Buccellato) did an excellent run on The Flash, before moving onto Detective Comics for a time, and has proved that he can draw top Justice Leaguers in action. Which is good, because Trinity features the big three of DC, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman.
In case you are very behind, this is a new Superman, with Lois and his son Jon in tow, and Diana and Bruce don’t know him well yet. So this issue is the pair of them going to dinner at the Kent house. And it is beautifully written and drawn, both by Manapul, the talented so and so. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend it to people who haven’t read at least the first few issues of Wonder Woman, who don’t know the gist of the recent Lois & Clark series, and don’t know what’s going on in the current Superman run, it is an excellent read for those that have, and even those that haven’t will still enjoy it.
Janet van Dyne is a legend. Created purely so Ant-Man had a female sidekick, she grew quickly to be a founding Avenger, and from there has only gone on to greater heights.
Okay, so I made that statement for the puns, but still, it is totally true. As you can see above in her first issue, she’s a “partner-in-peril”, and she stayed that way for a while. Even though she was a founding Avenger, she got in trouble a fair amount to begin with, but thankfully her role grew pretty rapidly. Okay, I’ll stop with the puns.
Janet was the first Avenger to meet Vision, as shown above, and also the first to get married, to her long time partner Hank Pym, also known as Ant-Man, Goliath, Giant Man, and, when they got engaged, Yellowjacket. The story of the wedding is quite an interesting one actually, as Hank becomes Yellowjacket, and seemingly kills his old identity, and none of the Avengers other than Jan know what happened, so when they get married there is an understandable amount of doubt! You can see the gist of it below, from Avengers #59 and #60.
Even at this point, Jan is frequently seen as either a hassle to the team, or just someone that needs saving, but that changed in Avengers #83, where she, and a team of other women led by Enchantress posing as Valkyrie, beat the Avengers and the Masters of Evil, and from there she was portrayed better.
Unfortunately, Hank Pym has one of his multiple breakdowns, leading to this…
…and their relationship understandably breaks off, leading to a divorce. She was leader of the team for a long time, on & off, to the extent that I believe she held the title of leader for longer than any other member, except maybe Captain America. She was leader of the team when Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil invaded and took over Avengers Mansion, she fought off Absorbing Man and Titania from killing a comatose Hercules, before leading a team and taking back the mansion.
After many leaves of absence, being sent to a different universe by Franklin Richards and a bunch of other boring stuff, Jan makes an offhand comment to Scarlet Witch about having kids. Which she doesn’t anymore, and her memory had been removed of it. And then Scarlet Witch goes nuts and creates the House of M universe. Yup, Jan messed up.
And then Janet plays a major part in yet another event, this time Secret Invasion, where she is used as a biological weapon by the Skrulls, and gets killed by Thor to stop her exploding. I say killed, she is transported to the Microverse and comes back later to join the Uncanny Avengers, but hey, she died for a while, aight?
But what about now? What is she doing at the moment? Well, mentoring her namesake, the new Wasp, Nadia Pym. It’s no big spoiler to say that a new Wasp appears in the current All-New All-Different Avengers run, and Janet appears to help out with adjusting the new Wasp to heroics.
So what makes Janet Van Dyne so great? Is it her multitude of costumes? She makes a lot of them herself you know, she’s a fashion designer. Is it her size changing powers that let her grow and shrink? Is it the bio-engineered wings that are grafted onto her back? Is it the energy blasts she can fire to sting her enemies? Nah, its her personality. It’s her strength of will, her courage, her determination, but most of all, her empathy. You can come to her with anything, any troubles, any situation, and she will understand and help you with it. Hell, she did just that when her step-daughter, Nadia, was brought to her doorstep by Jarvis, as you can see above. She is one of the kindest people in the entire Marvel universe, and a literal living legend.