World Comic Book Review

20th April 2024

Women Assemble!

A-Force #1 [Review]
Marvel Comics, January 6, 2016
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Review by Neil Raymundo, Feb 1, 2016

An American publisher of superhero comic books, Marvel Comics, is presently engaging in what some comic book retailers have described as “publishing carpet bombing”: flooding the market with numerous first issues of new titles. Within many of those new titles, a common thread emerges: the repeated extension of the “Avengers” comic book franchise.

The “A-Force” is another Avengers-orientated spin-off book from Marvel Comics’s 2015-16 Secret Wars crossover event, written by G. Willow Wilson (and more on her below). This event, as we have explained in other reviews, in essence destroyed majority of the publisher’s different continuities and consolidated the survivors into a single reality ruled by an omnipotent villain called Doctor Doom. The single reality was dubbed Battleworld. One of the places within Battleworld is an island paradise called Arcadia, which is protected by the “A-Force.” This is a superhero team of exclusively female characters drawn from Marvel Comics’ extensive intellectual property asset base. It consists of, amongst many others, the following characters: Medusa, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Sister Grimm, and a mysterious and gender-fluid cosmic being called “Singularity.”

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Captain Marvel #1 [REVIEW]

Marvel Comics, January 05 2016
Writers: Michele Fazekas and Tara Butler
Review by Neil Raymundo, January 25, 2016

Captain Marvel #1 is part of American publisher Marvel Comics’ ANAD (All New, All Different) campaign, which is a relaunch of many characters and books apparently in order to attract a new generation of fans and give writers a clean slate in character development and reinvigoration. The other ANAD titles are clearly aimed at a younger demographic, full of fresh new faces, and premises that will be relevant mostly to teenagers.

The new title “Captain Marvel”, on the other hand, is an outlier. This character has a particularly strident cadre of fans which style themselves as “the Carol Corps”. Marvel Comics have been understandably keen to maintain the attention and affections of this group, to the point of including the name “the Carol Corps” (the name derived from “Carol Danvers”, Captain Marvel’s alter ego) in the title of one of their publications. This adoration and the announcement of a Captain Marvel movie for 2018 has attracted mainstream interest from Time Magazine to women’s haute couture magazine Marie Claire.

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Nothing Alien Here

Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion 1
DC Comics, March 2016
Writer: Tom Taylor
Review by DG Stewart, 18 January 2016

The Green Lantern Corps is a concept which borrows heavily from EE “Doc” Smith’s science fiction classics, known as The Lensmen series (1937-1960). The stories of both are founded on the idea that deep space is patrolled by benevolent aliens of different races, and that notwithstanding their differences both physically and philosophically, these galactic patrollers are united by altruism.

In Mr Smith’s books, the aliens are very alien, to the point of resembling looming monsters. In DC Comics’ Green Lantern Corps (created in 1959 by John Broome with editor Julius Schwartz), the points of alienness have always been much less sophisticated. Traditionally the Green Lantern Corps have consisted of many humanoids with different skin colours or animal features. Some of the Green Lanterns are sentient earth-type animals. One high point of the possibilities of the concept of alienness within the Corps’ ranks came in 1985 when writer Alan Moore created (as a passing mention) a Green Lantern which was a super-intelligent mathematical concept. Another Alan Moore creation, albeit one first based in the same, semi-comedic story, featured a sentient planet called Mogo which was a Green Lantern. But setting aside such irregular bursts of imagination, most of these alien lawmen have been depicted as having only marginally more biodiversity than Earthlings.

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CSI: Asgard

Thors #1-4
Marvel Comics, 2015-2016
Writer: Jason Aaron
Review by Neil Raymundo, January 18, 2016

In Scandinavian mythology, Thor is the god of thunder. The concept of a powerful, hammer-wielding entity fighting for good against evil has been commercially exploited by Marvel comics since 1962, with considerable success. Many of the concepts inherent to the character have become well-trodden paths for writers. This story is however new: it is a detective murder mystery, albeit an esoteric and confusing one.

The story, written by Jason Aaron, is set after a recent Marvel Comics’ cross-promotional event called Secret Wars. The plot of this was to milk the goodwill in the company’s various realities by consolidating the survivors of each razed continuity into a single one ruled by Doctor Doom, a long-standing villainous character rendered omnipotent.

In the new reality, various characters from different continuities coexist regardless of how unlikely it was given that universe’s particular logic. The characters are policed by an army of Thors, which consist of various characters that are or have been wielders of the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, even going so far as to include several time-displaced versions of a single character.

The quality of Mr Aaron’s “Thors” mini-series can be a challenge to assess objectively, because it is on the one hand a well-written detective story with a serviceable plot twist, but on the other hand is also somewhat crippled by its dependence on the Secret Wars cross over event and prior knowledge of the Thor comic book franchise. As a consequence, it is vastly inaccessible to new readers, but entertaining to an established audience.

The main protagonist is a veteran Thor named Thorlief. This is the reality-displaced Thor from Marvel Comics’ “Ultimate” continuity, and his partner, the reality-displaced Beta Ray Bill (an alien version of Thor, first created in 1983). The two Thors have a reputation as two of the best that the corps has to offer, with feats such as taking down a dozen versions of the immensely strong character the Hulk at the same time (which earned Thorlief a reputation as the “Ultimate Thor”) and solving multiple big cases that have cost previous Thors their post.

If this sounds more like a police drama than a title about Teutonic thunder gods, then that assessment is entirely correct.

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