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

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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.

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

Tomasi’s Superman is the Future of Comics.

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After a summer of working and partying, I’ve finally had the last of my Mail Order come up to rainy North Wales (from Rainy South Wales). Currently, I’m collecting: Action Comics, Extraordinary X-men, Howard the Duck, Hyperion, Superman, and Weirdworld. Of all these titles – with brilliant talents like Jeff Lemire on X-Men and Chip Zdarsky on Howard – Superman has been my most enjoyable to binge-read. That isn’t to say that Howard, Action or any other title is bad, hell, they’re of very high standards on the whole. But Peter Tomasi’s Superman has been brilliant simply because I think it might hold the secret to the future of comics. A bold claim, you might believe. One series being the future, how? You ask. Well, sit tight true believers, because I’m about to give you all the low-down. But first: CONTEXT.

Superman from pre-New52 has turned out to be alive. Now that New 52 Superman is dead (that’s Superman continuity of 2011-16) he’s come out of hiding and donned his famous blue tights once again. But aside from just Superman, Lois Lane from the Pre-New52 world has joined him….and their son. Jonathan Kent, ‘Jon’ for short, is about 8-10 in series. It is chronicling the story of how he, as a Human-Kryptonian, is coping with his new developing powers. Just as they’re trying to find out why he carries on tuning in and out of his powers, the Eradicator – an Ancient Kryptonian robot – turns up. Basically, Eradicator wants to cleanse the humanity of Jon which as you can imagine, doesn’t go down too well with Lois and Clark.

That’s kinda all you need to know about the comic’s storyline. It’s a good enough one that it’s enjoyable, nicely paced and develops character hugely. At first, it was strange to see Superman was a son and wife. Now, it feels like it’s the natural progression. I know what you’re thinking; does this mean that all we need to do is give all our favourite characters’ babies and that’ll change the nature of comics forever? I mean, it would, but that is beside the point here. What is so interesting about introducing Jon is that, in many ways, it returns Superman to his roots. One of my favourite readings of the character is to think of him as a representative of ‘Diaspora’ – this is the Jewish concept of never belonging anywhere due to being driven out of the Promised Land.

For Kal-El, he left Krypton before ever getting to experience it only to land in its complete contrast, Smallville. After some 18/19 years there he then moves over to Metropolis (arguably situated in Delaware) and becomes a journalist in the Big City. At the time, there was a romanticising of moving to farmland away from the Great Depression of the City and beginning anew so Clark’s job at the Daily Planet is very interesting. He’s constantly alienated for being alien or being Midwestern, no matter what, Clark Kent is alone. The whole story is, in many ways, the ultimate ‘outsider story’. He is trying to integrate into our world. How does he do so? By becoming our defender, our guardian angel.

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Jonathan Samuel Kent in Superman#2. 

Trouble is, and I’m sure many readers thinks this, Superman then became the Every-Hero. He can do anything and on top of that, he’s just so freakin’ nice! He’s not like Batman or Spider-Man, driven by ego, he’s literally just being a good guy when he could conquer the world. For many, that’s a very boring narrative, a bit bland and outdated. I would dispute this claim and say that, despite all of Superman’s strength, he struggles with trying to be human like all of us do. And now, having travelled from one universe and integrating into another, he’s had another huge Diasporic transition.

And if Superman is the Outsider, his son is definitely the Modern Outsider. In this context, I’m referring to Geek culture in how it was once for the Outsider specifically (which is why it attracted so many Jewish writers). Nowadays we’re very aware that Geek Culture isn’t exactly cool but it is no longer situated at the ‘lame’ part of the scale. With ‘Cool Geeks’ out there, the superhero movie so popular and such, gone have the days of comics being COMPLETELY uncool. But here’s the trouble: if you’ve not been a fan for years, where do you begin? How do you fit into a culture much older than yourself? You exist in an in-between space.

This is exactly where Jon Kent: he’s in a whole new world trying to hide the most real part of him (like how arguably, there are creators trying to hide the more intensive Comicbook-heavy characters/stories etc) while also struggling to see where he fits in. As far as mainstream canon is concerned, Jon is the first half-human half-Kryptonian and so, struggles by trying to find his place, like his Father once did. Tomasi crafts a wonderful family story which is still thrilling and adventurous, as well as playing with Krypton’s mythology too. It creates a story that is the very essence of Superman comics whilst serving as something new and different. This is where I can see comics being, should the right writers break through.

Comics which are attempting progression when in reality, they’re marketing on popularised social movements which seems to be Marvel’s current business plan – will struggle. Eventually the ‘hype/gimmick’ will die down and the substance will be examined closely. It is here, in these finite moments, where good comics are found. If people took more of a leap out of the Superman Rebirth they would see that taking risks isn’t as bad as they think it would be and that there are still ways of preserving the ideas through making solid progressions.

 

— Ulysses.

 

Ulysses is the current Social Secretary for MADCAS from September onwards. He’s really excited to get started and meet all the Freshers as well as greet back regulars. He is also the self proclaimed “Most Handsome member” of committee. 

Character of the Week: Spider-Woman

Jessica Drew was injected with an experimental serum and gained powers. Or she was hit by a laser whilst in the womb, and gained powers. Or she was a spider that turned into a human

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New Avengers #15, Frank Cho

 

I think the second of those is technically the current origin story for her. It was a special laser, aight? The origin of her powers isn’t important, its what happened next. She was taken in by Hydra, and worked as their agent having been brainwashed. Obviously she broke free, but Hydra played an important part in her early life, and again later. However, in a twist of fate where her body died when her astral form was elsewhere (don’t ask), she lost her powers

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Spider-Woman: Origin #2, Jonathan Luna

Having spent some time as a P.I., she was recruited by Hydra to work within S.H.I.E.L.D. as a double agent, in return for which they would give her back her powers. Which, interestingly, Nick Fury encouraged. She fed Hydra false information for a time, until it was revealed that the Hyrda cell she was working for was actually made up of Skrulls. Then Secret Invasion happened. For a long time, it had seemed like Jessica was part of the New Avengers, but in reality it was the Skrull queen, Veranke in her place, and using Jessica’s image she lead a Skrull invasion. When the crisis was over, the real Jessica was found and returned to Earth from the Skrull ship she was being held in, along with dozens of other heroes

 

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Secret Invasion Promotional Poster

 

Understandably, Jessica wasn’t best pleased with the Skrulls after this. She joined S.W.O.R.D. (yep, that exists) to root out any Skrulls left over from the invasion force, as well as joining the New Avengers properly, despite an initial lack of trust from her teammates. From there, she’s had a pretty easy and uneventful run, being a part of multiple Avengers squads, and having a minor role in the Spider-Verse storyline. Nothing major has really happened in her life

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Spiderwoman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., by Alex Maleev

 

Until now that is. Jessica decided that she wanted a child. She had been dating an unknown person, and had a scare, at which point she realised that she actually really wanted that baby. I’d hate to spoil who the father is for you all, as the storyline is being covered in the current Spider-Woman series, but its safe to say that this is a whole new twist on her character (though there is certainly some Skrull hating thrown in there, which is to be expected when they take over an alien maternity ward)

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Spider-Woman #1, by Javier Rodriguez

 

So who is Spider-Woman? Well, she can climb walls, she is super strong, so she’s basically just Spider-Man with different parts, right? Wrong. She also has control of pheromones, she can fire bio-electric blasts, and she is basically immune to most poisons, toxins and forms of radiation. But the powers don’t make her. It’s how she reacts to situations. She is passionate and emotional, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of her level headed realism, and she always knows how to correctly handle a situation. Unless it involves Skrulls, but hey, everyone has a weakness, right?

~

James, The Wonder Witch

Lanterns are OP

It’s pretty well established that the best weapon in the DC Universe is a lantern ring. So something that always confused me is why major characters seemed to very rarely get to use them. Obviously its because having everyone being a lantern would be boring, but in-universe? It’s just a bit strange that all these people with strong emotional control. Yeah, theres that Elseworlds story with Batman getting a yellow ring, but in the main universe? You’d have thought someone like Red Hood would have the anger for a red ring, or Wonder Woman would get an Indigo ring, but it so rarely happens. It made Blackest Night a fantastic event to read, because its something that so rarely happens, but the time I’d like to highlight is the Red Daughter of Krypton arc in Supergirl and Red Lanterns.

Not to spoil the arcs of either book, but Guy Gardner is leader of a group of intelligent Red Lanterns, and a red ring finds Kara. Whilst Gardner is intent on keeping her safe, so as not to incur the wrath of her cousin, she has a profound effect on the team, and whilst she obviously does not stay a Lantern for long, it effects her deeply. For someone who is so kind, a red ring is the opposite of what you’d expect, but her kindness is what sets her apart from the other Lanterns, and it rubs off on them

Supergirl #30, cover by Kenneth Rocafort, written by Tony Bedard, DC

~

James, The Wonder Witch