So, after sending my (hopefully) last revision of The Opening Bell off to my publisher, I read some comic books because, well, duh, I like comic books. That made want to share the three currently published titles I keep up with. Well, to be fair, as I am a Starving Author, these are three modern titles I keep up with through the trades (trade paperback collections, for the uninitiated) when they are on sale at the comic shop.
To see an amazing revival of one of my favorite characters with obscure origins is a real joy. The titular hero is a former mercenary who died the first time he had a crisis of conscience and did the right then, then seemingly was raised from the dead by an ancient Egyptian deity to be his sacred avenger … or maybe he is just a blinking crazy man who tears peoples’ faces off. Every interpertation of Moon Knight dances gleefully between these two extremes and Warren Ellis takes the ball and runs with it to the logical conclusion.
Which really would spoil the start of this new volume of his adventures, so I won’t. I’ll only say that this new series is both amazingly good, true to every incarnation of the character before, and explains enough through the course of these first two trades to introduce newcomers comfortably to Moon Knight so they can enjoy it almost as much as a long-time reader. Just to forewarn potential readers: Moon Knight’s tales tend towards the dark and gritty with flares of hard, if realistic, violence.
Again, I’ve been a fan of Carol Danvers since I was a kid, though it was hard to get back issues of her original adventures back in the ’70s when I was younger. Certainly, I love to see her get her real due, stepping into the appropriate role as Captain Marvel instead of the Distaff Counterpart (huh, maybe we’ll talk more about that concept later). There’s a real growth of the character through all of this, especially considering the hardships, ‘fridging’, multiple de-powerings, and horrible events that have plagued her fictional life. To see her come through it all and take a place as one of the big A-list superheroes in the Marvel universe (with a MOVIE COMING! YES!) is actually pretty inspiring for someone in a business full of setbacks and frustrations.
As for this latest volume of the good Captain’s adventures, there’s a cosmic space-based focus this time around, which fits well and allows for some interesting guest-stars, some obvious (like the Guardians of the Galaxy) and some surprising (I won’t spoil, but anyone who was a fan of the original New Mutants will recognize her instantly). It’s great fun, well-written, with a great mix of space action and strong dramatic moments.
What it isn’t is nearly as ‘new reader friendly’ as the newest Moon Knight volume. It starts in media res both in terms of its own story and in Carol’s story. If you’re not already up to date, you might be a little confused as a new reader, though it is written in not such a way to be completely obfuscating. If you want to read the adventures of a comic-book superheroine that’s well-written and not drowning in objectification and bad tropes about women, who still kicks mountains of ass, I’d suggest check out the Captain.
Finally, Ms. Marvel!
Now this is how you create a new youthful character in the superhero genre! The adventures and struggles of Kamala Kahn, teenage Muslim, Pakistani-American, and HUGE SUPERHERO FANGIRL as she gets superpowers and tries to follow the footsteps of her favorite hero ever, Captain Marvel. It is truly glorious!
It’s fun, it’s quirky, it’s got a sense of humor while still staying grounded, and, most importantly, the characters feel real. Obviously, it’s a world of super powers, aliens, and the like, but there is a closeness, a relatability, a ‘I know someone like that!’ or even ‘That’s me!’ as you read about Kamala, her friends, and her family. Add in some fun team-ups, interesting powers, and some weird action/adventure going on, and you have my favorite new comic character of the past couple of years.
As it’s starring a new character discovering herself and her powers, it’s a great book to jump into. Though there are established characters who show up, they aren’t hard to figure out, even the more obscure ones. Some, well, you’ll know who they are, unless you’ve been living in a hole in Tibet. Anyway, read it! It’s good!