Wednesday, July 8, 2015

'That's right... just a girl': Adventures in the comic book universe

I've been exploring the comic world with the help of the amazing Talking Comics crew and their podcast ( The comic book/graphic novel world would be an infinitely more overwhelming place without  them. 

There's so much I want to read and I started with some of the female-led superhero comics because it tied in to a lot of research I did around my university dissertation and has been a way into a universe I now want to explore more widely. I am very excited for the All New, All Different Avengers and for Miles Morales taking over as the main Spiderman. I think the Batman universe is always dark and compelling and I am looking forward to reading some Indie graphic novels like Sculptor by Scott McCloud and Russian Olive to Red King by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen (both recommendations by Talking Comics). In the meantime, here are my initial favourites: 

1) The new Thor series by Jason Aaron has definitely been my favourite series to follow and got me interested in a character and world that I could never relate to before. Don't underestimate what Aaron has done - and it's paying off. This series has sold huge numbers and the 'twist' in who is beneath the helmet was magnificently pulled off and fit so well in the universe and the history. It didn't feel gimmicky or contrived. The colours and art have been sensational, making this book a visual treat and it would be well-worth your time and money picking up the trade. I can't wait to read more of this character's story, I hope she sticks around. There was a lot of 'female-solidarity' in Aaron's writing, which was very pointed and loaded. I think it had it's place because of the huge controversy over this character existing at all, but now hopefully this Thor can have her own story and firmly individual character - the reveal provides a great foundation for this and thoroughly integrates it. 

Stunning and colourful spreads
'You have never met another Thor like me...
this is not the end of my story'

2) The first couple of volumes of the Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang run on Wonder Woman were superb. They made some bold moves and have created the definitive Wonder Woman for me (it looks particularly great compared to what the Finch's are doing now). I just hope they can find the right creative team again for her in the future. She is an exceptionally powerful woman but with strong compassion and integrity. She is physically strong, good at focusing her emotions and fiercely protective and caring over those close to her. She looks athletic and formidable and is rooted in her culture and mythology in a way that makes a lot of sense in these issues. I would recommend reading at least the first two trades of Azzarello and Chiang's run for a rich and layered look at the character and her context. I loved seeing her in London too!

'I won't be bound that way to any man'

3) Spider-Gwen didn't hit the heights I'd hoped in it's first 5 issues but the previews for the Autumn look promising. One thing I think the Amazing Spiderman movies did well, was re-establish the character of Gwen Stacy and build on her. She was proactive and resourceful and hugely impressive intellectually - she was Peter's superior in so many ways. Emma Stone brought a warmth to the character which really reminded me how cool and unique she is. So I really want Spider-Gwen to expand on that and fulfil her potential. I love the costume design - the colours are vibrant and highly stylised. I just want them to do more in establishing her as Gwen first. Initially she just had the same snark as Peter and could almost have been any girl. I really want her to be a force of personality with that scientific/intellectual fervour too. I want to recognise her as Gwen more - but also for her to build on the Gwen that has existed before and continue making her unique and awesome. I don't imagine Gwen just being spider-snarky, but having, perhaps, a more composed sense of humour in some ways. It's obviously just the beginning though, and she's in good hands. Again, this has to be more than a gimmick - I want it to take itself seriously and really grab this character by the horns.

'I'm 'just' a girl'

Silk is another interesting and diverse spider-verse character to look out for in her solo series. Like Spider-Gwen, this is just getting started - and it has perhaps started more effectively by focusing on the character and building from there. She is an Asian-American spider-woman who has spent years locked in a bunker, convinced she was a threat and emerges to find no trace of her family or the life she knew before. 


I loved 'Year One' of Injustice: Gods Among Us - I think it could have stood alone as just that year as I haven't felt so invested in the following Years. It was a powerful alternative take on the DC heroes and their relations and had a really compelling dystopian AU narrative which was genuinely shocking and incisive in its explorations of power and consequence. 

My boyfriend got me Volume 5 of the Gail Simone Batgirl run, which I also really enjoyed. I need to explore that story more because it was incredibly striking and dark. This is obviously just a start and my opinions are still forming as I explore this world and it's history. I am looking forward to reading more Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel as well as branching out into some Indie books. I'm also collecting Secret Wars! I will let you know what I think. For now - Thor is an absolute must. 

Let me know what you think and any recommendations you may have! Happy to hear about any and everything! And follow me on Bloglovin by clicking the links to the left! 

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