Kamala Khan, The new Spider-Man?

 

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Ms Marvel #1, by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by Sarah Pichelli & Justin Ponsor

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.

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Ms Marvel #1, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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.

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Ms Marvel Vol. 2 #7, by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by David Lopez

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.

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Ms Marvel #6, by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by Jamie McKelvie

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.

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Ms Marvel #11, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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.

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.

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Ms Marvel Vol.2 #1, by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Takeshi Miyazawa

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!).

~

Oliver, The Green Falcon

Did you know Carol Danvers took the name “Captain Marvel” because she was dared to?

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.

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Captain Marvel #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Dexter Soy, Marvel

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James, The Wonder Witch

Character of the Week: The Wasp

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.

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Tales to Astonish #44, by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

 

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.

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Avengers #57, by Roy Thomas & John Buscema

 

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.

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Avengers #83, by Roy Thomas & John Buscema

 

Unfortunately, Hank Pym has one of his multiple breakdowns, leading to this…

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Avengers #213, by Jim Shooter & Bob Hall

 

…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.

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Avengers #275, by Roger Stern, John Buscema & Tom Palmer

 

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.

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House of M #2, by Brian Michael Bendis & Olivier Coipel

 

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?

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Secret Invasion #8, by Brian Michael Bendis & Leinil Yu

 

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.

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All-New, All-Different Avengers #12, by Mark Waid & Mahmud Asrar

 

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.

You know how at some point in every child’s life they feel that the teachers a their school are evil and want to use you for nefarious schemes?

Well, that’s what happens in Morning Glories. Okay, so I just spoiled the end of the first issue, but hey, big whoop, you’d have gathered that anyway. But yeah, this is an extremely prestigious boarding school, that drugs you so that you don’t know where it is located…morning-glories-001-026

That tries to influence you through strange, barely seen images…

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That encourages parents to give you independence, to pretend that they don’t know you so that you don’t talk to them or the outside world…

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And if they don’t like it then, well…

Yeah. And that’s not even going into the creepy sci-fi wonderful-ness of it

Morning Glories #1, by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma, Image

~

James, The Wonder Witch

 

Marvels is Alex Ross’ masterpiece

Alex Ross is well known for painting for many series, from classics like Kingdom Come to the covers for the current All-New All-Different Avengers run, but Marvels is, for me, his best work.

Maybe it is how well his work portrays classic scenes in a new light, maybe its how his writing fuses perfectly with Kurt Busiek’s incredible writing, maybe it’s how he makes every panel pop with both energy and grace simultaneously, but there is just something about that makes it work so well.

There’s a chance it is just nostalgia, but there is just something about seeing panels like this, where classic images are shown through the camera lens of a humble reporter, re-enforcing the fact that Marvel Comics exist inside the Marvel universe as historical documents and records of events, that just blow me away.

Marvels #1-4, by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, Marvel

~

James, The Wonder Witch

Character of the Week: Kyle Rayner

Kyle Rayner was a graphic artist. Yup, he drew comic books.

Automatically, that means he is pretty cool. The fact that he then got given a Green Lantern ring makes him even cooler.

Hal Jordan, the first member of the Green Lantern Corps to come from Earth, got possessed by Parallax, the fear entity. His city, Coast City, had just been completely destroyed, so he was, shall we say, susceptible to its influence, but then he went crazy, see totally insane, killed a good few Lanterns, see basically all of them, destroyed the main power battery, yadda yadda. The Green Lantern Corps was gone. So Ganthet, the last remaining Guardian, gave the last remaining Lantern ring to Kyle Rayner.

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Green Lantern Vol. 3 #51, by Ron Marz & Darryl Banks

He wasn’t exactly ready for it at the beginning, but he managed to defeat Mongul, which is pretty damn good, right? Except, his ex-girlfriend, who he had confided in and just got back together with, got killed by Major Force and stuffed in a fridge. Yup, that’s where the phrase “Women In Refrigerators” comes from, Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend that died purely to make Kyle take his role as a Lantern seriously. It was a pretty embarrassing move on DC’s part, and one that Gail Simone will never let them forget.

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Green Lantern Vol. 3 #54, by Ron Marz & Darryl Banks

For a time then, Kyle was the only Green Lantern. To us now, and to readers at the time, this was a new thing, there had been an entire Corps for a long time, and even just on Earth there were frequently three separate Lanterns. But Kyle carried the name solo. He briefly joined the Titans, and joined the Justice League, taking the roles that all previous Lanterns before him had. He also set out to restart the Green Lantern Corps, and even took host to Ion, the parasitic entity of willpower, though he gave up the near-omnipotence of the powers to remain human.

Then his mother is killed. Yet another tragedy has befallen Kyle, and seemingly it is once more at the hands of Major Force. So, knowing that Major Force is immortal, Kyle rips his head off and throws it into space. As you do. This was during the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth, and Kyle then brings Hal Jordan’s body back to Earth, where it is quickly given back Hal’s spirit, and the original Lantern is resurrected. You’d think that at this point Kyle would lose some of the spotlight, I mean, Hal is back, Guy Gardner is a Lantern again, most of the Corps is back, so Kyle will disappear, right? Well, a little, but he is handed the highest honour by the Guardians. They give him the title of “Torchbearer”, as he was the only Lantern to still represent during their darkest time, and brought them back when they were needed most.

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Ion: The Torchbearer #1, by Ron Marz, Greg Tocchini and Jay Leisten

Once more, Kyle became Ion, taking the parasitic entity back, which Sinestro forcefully separates from Kyle at the beginning of the Sinestro Corps War, so that Kyle can play host to Parallax, like Hal Jordan did before him. Hal frees him from the influence, and together they defeat Sinestro. Shortly after, the long prophesised Blackest Night comes to pass, and Kyle is killed in action, whilst blowing up a power battery to stop hordes of dead Green Lanterns, reanimated as Black Lanterns on Oa. His love for fellow Lantern Soranik Natu led to him being resurrected quickly by a Star Sapphire, and he was able to rally with the multitude of other Lanterns and heroes on Earth to beat back Nekron’s Black Lanterns. Kyle also participates in the War of the Green Lanterns, taking a Blue Lantern ring in an effort to stop the rogue Guardian Krona.

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Green Lantern: New Guardians #3, by Tony Bedard & Tyler Kirkham

And then the New 52 happened. Rings of every colour seek out Kyle, along with an angry member of their Corps, and Kyle becomes the first person to simultaneously wield all seven primary Lantern rings. Admittedly, the rings disintegrate after a couple of minutes, but the team that he then heads up, containing a representative of each Corps, is then instrumental in stopping the Archangel Invictus from destroying the Vega system and the sole Orange Lantern Larfleeze. The team disbands, but Kyle begins to learn how to channel every colour of light, eventually becoming a White Lantern with the help of a new team, featuring big names like Carol Ferris of the Star Sapphires, Atrocitus of the Red Lanterns, and Larfleeze, using his powers to stop the Third Army on Zamaron, and aid in stopping the First Lantern Volthoom on Oa.

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The Omega Men #12, by Tom King & Barnaby Bagenda, cover by Trevor Hutchison

Most recently, Kyle has appeared in The Omega Men, aiding a rebel group in the Vega system against their tyrannical leader, but I don’t want to spoil a series that has finished so recently for you.

So, that’s his history, but what sets Kyle Rayner apart from any other Lantern, green or otherwise? For me, it’s twofold. First off, his creativity lets him do things with his ring that no other lantern can, such as create giant anime characters to do battle with his enemies, with the only limit to his powers being his imagination. Second, it’s his personality. Rayner will always, absolutely always stand up for what is right, and if an action seems wrong then he will question. Even if it is one of his friends doing it. And yet, he always believes in the goodness in people. When Hal Jordan was evil, Kyle knew that he could be relied on to give his life to save Earth. Kyle has a truly indomitable spirit, and, if you’ll excuse the cliché, his light shines brighter than basically any other in the universe.

~

James, The Wonder Witch

Police procedurals impress me

It’s not the cops that can make remarkable deductive leaps that make bugger all sense but end up to be correct. It’s not the perfect timing of the guy who realises what is happening at precisely the right moment so that he can break down the door of the right building mere seconds before the hostages die. It’s not even the incredible amount of patronising snark that every single pathologist seems able to smear onto thei sentences when talking to a detective. In fact, it’s not even the police themselves.

Its the victims who get asked to describe the face of the person they saw committing the crime, and then are actually able to do so in enough detail that the artist’s impression looks exactly like the person it is meant to be. Seriously, how can people do that? How can they just reel off every characteristic of a person’s face? I’d be a total mess!

“What was their hair like?” Erm, long-ish and brown. I think. Could have been a dark blonde? “What colour were their eyes?” Dunno mate, wasn’t paying attention. “What about the shape of their face?” Yeah, it was pretty face-shaped, you know? Like, a pretty average face? “Well, were there any defining features?” His nose was massive and he had a spot on his chin, but he’s probably popped it by now, it was pretty ugly.

As you can see, my descriptive skills are pretty limited. However, in Chew you meet someone who can descibe stuff so well that, well,  you’ll see. But some background on the book first. Chew  is an Image title about a detective for the Food and Drug Administration called Tony Chu, who is a Cibopath. Basically, he gets a psychic imprint from anything he eats. The book gets a little weird, as solving murders related to food and drugs can get a little bitey, but issue #3 introduces a character with the best power in the world. I’ll let the page describe it.

Don’t lie, you would absolutely love to be able to do that. It’s the power to describe things like a TV witness, but about food. It’s the coolest superpower! And you can also have some fun with it, as Amelia found when the first wave of complaints came in from people who had thrown up at her descriptions of disgusting food.

Chew #3, by John Layman and Rob Guillory, Image

~

James, The Wonder Witch

Age of Ultron: Not just a movie

What is the worst mistake that has been made in the Marvel Universe?

It’s a pretty big question, and one big answer is undoubtedly the creation of Ultron. Not necessarily the idea of creating artificial intelligence, as there is inherently nothing wrong with that, it is just that it happened to be Ultron. The decision weighs pretty damn heavily on Hank Pym, as Ultron has been a threat to the entire planet on multiple occasions, but at least he has the birth of Vision as a direct consequence of Ultron’s creation to allay some of his fears that it was purely a bad decision.

But if you think that making Ultron was bad enough, not making Ultron is actually worse, and it is shown in Age of Ultron. For the first few issues, we see a dystopia where Ultron has taken over, and it is… Let’s leave it at bad, and point out that She-Hulk and Luke Cage, two damn-near invulnerable heroes, both die. Bad doesn’t quite cover it, does it?

And a plan is made to stop this. So Wolverine and Sue Storm go back in time, and kill Hank Pym.

Oh Wolverine, you couldn’t be more wrong. Stopping the creation of Ultron meant that Morgan Le Fay could take over the world. Pretty big mistake Logan, pretty big mistake.

Age of Ultron #6, by Brian Michael Bendis and Brandon Peterson, Marvel

~

James, The Wonder Witch

The process of picking up a new Image comic is pretty simple.

You look at the authors, and if you know the names then you look at a preview. And this is exactly what I did with Tokyo Ghost. It’s written by Rick Remender, who is well known for Secret Avengers, and Uncanny Avengers, and a slew of other excellent independent comics like Low and Black Science and Deadly Class, so that was a big plus, and the colourist is Matt Hollingsworth, who has worked on Hawkeye, Daredevil, and many other big titles, so I was drawn to it. And then I saw the art, by Sean Murphy, a name I didn’t really know, and I knew I had to read it.

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There’s a good amount of nudity, a good amount of swearing, a sci-fi story that focuses primarily on the characters, and a great art team. Basically, it’s a Remender book, with classic Remender scenes like this:

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Tokyo Ghost #1-3, by Rick Remender, Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, Image

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James, The Wonder Witch

New Issue of the Week: Flintstones #3

In a week where the main Batman and Superman titles are released, as well as some of my personal favourite series in Moon Knight and Green Arrow, having a title like Flintstones up here might seem like a joke. I mean, it’s the Flintstones, it’s just going to be a childish, all-ages romp through cheeseville.

Of course there’s a bit of that. But not too much. Especially not when the issue features pages like this.

It’s not all like that, don’t worry, but this series is looking to be a surprise hit

Flintstones #3, by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, DC

~

James, The Wonder Witch