Apr 16, 2015

Reading Notes: More Marvel Comics

Reading Notes: More Marvel Comics

Captain Marvel Vol 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez
Before I start talking about this book, a bit of a sidenote: I’m just as puzzled as you are as to why this is volume one of Captain Marvel, when only last year I read and wrote about another Captain Marvel trade paperback by the very same writer which was… also volume one. Oh comics, why so confusing?

After reading the other Captain Marvel Vol 1, I followed Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) into Down, a second story arc by the same creative team. Unfortunately, while In Pursuit of Flight is self-contained, Down ends mid-story, and the cliffhanger ending is only resolved in a crossover title called Avengers: The Enemy Within. This is the kind of thing I’d have found Too Daunting only a year ago, but as one of my aforementioned comics guiding principles is “follow characters you love”, I decided to push through. My library had The Enemy Within, so I put it on hold. But then the due date came and went, and then one, two, three weeks, one month went by with no sign of the book. It began to look unlikely that whoever had it would ever bring it back, so I caved and bought it as a digital comic — a first for me.

This is a measure of my love for Carol. You see, Carol is my favourite (though it’s possible that this actually means Kelly Sue DeConnick is my favourite). The character moments in her stories are the most satisfying I’ve come across so far. I love the scene in Down when Carol is arranging to take her friend Tracy (who we know has cancer) to the doctor, but when she gets there we realise Tracy came along because Carol herself was asked to bring a family member for support. I love her relationship with Kit Renner, her six-year-old neighbour and Captain Marvel’s biggest fan. I love that one of her priorities is taking her cat Chewie for her annual check-up — and when everything explodes, to keep her safe. I love that there are so many women in Carol’s stories, and that her relationships with them matter.



At this point I would follow Carol anywhere. Also, something happens at the end of The Enemy Within that gives narrative justification to the series’ reboot, so there’s that, too.

In Higher, Further, Faster, More, we follow Carol and Chewie into space. Carol needs some time away after her difficult experiences in NYC, and when the opportunity presents herself she doesn’t hesitate (her cat comes along because she’s too mean for any of Carol’s friends to agree to feed her. Chewie, that is, not Carol). A mission to return an alien teenage girl to her home world ends up getting Carol involved in a conflict between a large intergalactic empire and a small planet of refugees who are once again being moved from the place they’ve learned to call home against their will.

What I liked about this volume was pretty much what I like about Captain Marvel as a whole: it shows Carol using a range of skills to solve a problem and collaborating closely with other women along the ways (also, Chewie. I really like Chewie). I also appreciated how DeConnick analysed traditional colonial dynamics, not only between the Empire and the planet’s inhabitants but in Carol’s intervention itself.





While the first Kelly Sue DeConnick Captain Marvel story arc remains my favourite, I’m glad I read on. I love this series, and I’m delighted that a new collected volume in the Carol and Chewie Adventures (how I dub it in my head — don’t judge me) will be out at the end of the week.


It’s possible I’m mildly obsessed with this cat.

Ms Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona

Kamala Khan! She’s my second favourite, and really not that far behind Carol. I explained why I loved the first volume of Ms Marvel last year, and what I said then goes for this volume as well: I continue to be charmed by Kamala’s geeky nature, to enjoy the series’ many Internet culture jokes, and to feel more welcomed as a reader in this series than in any other superhero comic.

In Generation Why, Kamala meets Wolverine and gleefully tells him about her fanfiction. She also confronts The Inventor, the villain first introduced in No Normal, and learns a little more about his motivation. This story is deeply concerned with our cultural tendency to dismiss and condescend to children and teenagers, and with how easy it is for the fact that you’re repeatedly told you’re worthless to make you feel worthless. Kamala meets some kids who have taken that message to heart, and it’s heartbreaking to see the effects it’s had.

Also, the scene in the panel above is important: Sheikh Abdullah tells Kamala that he trusts her to act with “courage, strength, compassion, honesty and self-respect” even if she can’t share the details of what she’s been doing. Again, readers are reminded that there’s no inherent incongruity between Kamala’s cultural background and her work as Jersey City’s very own superhero — on the contrary, her identity is what makes her the hero she is. Kamala asks for trust, and the adults in her life show that they’re willing to give her that.


:D


She-Hulk Vol 1: Law and Disorder by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and Ron Wemberly

She-Hulk is about Jennifer Walters, a talented lawyer who was gunned down by a crime lord and had to received a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner. Banner is the Hulk, and his blood gave Jennifer the same superpowers he has. Jennifer is much better than her cousin at controlling them, though, and she can transform into her Hulk-self at will.

Memory persuaded me to try She-Hulk by saying that it “gives far more weight to [Jennifer Walters’] law practice than to her superheroic antic”: I thought this hinted at the same human scale I so appreciated about Kate Bishop’s L.A. adventures, and that did indeed turn out to be the case. As you probably can tell, She-Hulk didn’t disappoint: it hit all my cool-lady-doing-things-and-surrounding-herself-with-other-women buttons and it filled me with joy.

In the first issue, Jennifer leaves her job at a big law firm, helps a single mother challenge a powerful man, and ends up establishing her own law practice. She then hires Angie Huan as her paralegal and fellow superhero Patsy Walk as her investigator, and the three begin solving cases and helping those in need.

There’s an overarching mystery to the series, but this first collection is also very much concerned with smaller cases. If you’re wondering how much superhero context you need, one of Jennifer’s clients is the son of Doctor Doom, who’s seeking political asylum in the USA because he doesn’t want his father to force him to succeed him as an evil overlord. I knew pretty much nothing about the character, but the context makes it obvious that he’s bad news and that’s all it takes for the plot to make sense. Also, it was nice that Jennifer didn’t hesitate to point out when her client was being an entitled, patronising jerk (which was most of the time), but she decided to help him anyway because his claim was sound.

In sum, She-Hulk was another successful incursion into the Marvel universe. I look forward to reading volume two, which sadly will be the series’ last.





12 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of these yet. But Ms Marvel is high on my list ...

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    1. Enjoy, and then get Captain Marvel - you know you want to :P

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  2. "to feel more welcomed as a reader in this series than in any other superhero comic."

    That's a great way of putting it! I have found the idea of superhero comics Very Daunting, but Ms. Marvel has been like finding a new friend. (I've only read the first one so far, but I should be getting the second soon!!)

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    1. I know, I was totally daunted until late last year. But Kamala has opened up a whole new universe for me. I do also very, very highly recommend Captain Marvel to you, particularly In Pursuit of Flight which includes time travel and WW2 women pilots and women mentoring other women. You'll love Carol and DeConnick's writing.

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    2. You had me at WW2 women pilots!! I mean, also all the other things, but WW2 WOMEN PILOTS.

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    3. I suspected that would happen :D Do let me know what you think!

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  3. I REALLY love both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel!! I see why Carol is your favorite...she's pretty amazing and I'm so obsessed with her cat!! Have you seen the cover for issue 8, which is also the cover for Vol. 2? It's my favorite :p I didn't know that they were canceling She Hulk :( I haven't read it yet but that really sucks. Also, aren't digital comics amazing? I just got into them this year and while I DO love my paper books, the quality of the images on a digital screen is to die for!

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    1. Yes, I have! I found Stay Fly early so have already read it :D CHEWIE FOREVER. And yeah, sad about She-Hulk :( At least I read somewhere that the main mystery gets a resolution. I think it's a series you'd really enjoy, Chris.

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  4. It's been a while since I read Captain Marvel, but my recollection is that I enjoyed the later volumes of it more than the first one. The time-travel arc (wasn't there a time-travel arc?) was kinda whatever to me, and then I got into it much more later on, when she was spending more time with her present-day lady friends. ALSO because Hawkeye showed up briefly, acting exactly like the Matt Fraction Hawkeye, which makes sense on account of those two authors being married. (Orrrr partners? I forget.)

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    1. It was the opposite for me - I loved the time travelling story to bits and pieces because HELEN COBB! Helen and Carol together give me all the feels. But I also really enjoyed the contemporary bits and all the bonding with lady friends moments. And aww, Hawkeye appearance! Now I want Carol and Kate to hang out. (PS: I will reread Hawkeye soon, promise!)

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  5. Yessss, Carol's friendships are the best. I want to crawl into her circle and be BFFs with everyone. I can't wait to get my hands on the next volume of her series, and also on volume two of MS MARVEL. (My library still doesn't have it in processing, let alone on the shelf. Sigh.)

    I've heard Soule's run on SHE-HULK was always set to end with #12, so at least we'll get his intended ending to the story. Still, I wish there were more to look forward to.

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  6. My copy of Ms. Marvel Volume 2 is on its way to me in the mail! I read and loved the other two you mentioned, too, though! I guess if you are following Carol around you will try the older Ms. Marvel? I liked it, but I think I like her better with the reboots as Captain Marvel. :)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.