Book Review: FCBD 2015 “All-New, All-Different Avengers” (By Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar, Frank Martin, et al)

“Our point is, the Avengers exist to protect people. To preserve innocent life. That is job one.” (Sam Wilson/Captain America, FCBC 2015 “All-New All-Different Avengers”)[1]

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is a yearly event held on the first Saturday of May. As the name implies, it’s a day when free comic books are available at participating comics shops. Comics publishers often release specific free comic books for the event.[2] This year, one of Marvel’s FCBD books was an issue that contains two short preview stories for upcoming series: The All-New, All-Different Avengers and The Uncanny Inhumans.[3] Since I plan to read the former, I decided to review the first preview story.

Our new Avengers team features seven main characters: Sam Wilson/Captain America, Jane Foster/Jane Foster, Iron Man, Vision, Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales/Spider-Man, and Sam Alexander/Nova. (Whether or not the person inside the Iron Man armor is Tony Stark is unknown and has been the topic of fandom discussion. There’s a side comment in this issue that suggests it may not be him.) The story begins hilariously with Kamala Khan issuing the command “Avengers Assemble!” – followed by Miles Morales wondering if they’re allowed to say that yet. It’s Kamala Khan, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander’s first day as Avengers.

Our heroes are investigating an attack on Manhattan’s Federal Reserve Bank. Sam Wilson sends the three teenagers inside to find the criminal while the four more-experienced Avengers fight the dragon outside. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned, and the villain Radioactive Man escapes. Initially, Sam is furious at the teenagers, but then they explain that the villain escaped while they rescued a civilian from falling to his death. After hearing this, Sam says that he knows he recruited the right people to join the team, because they gave first priority to saving a person’s life.

It’s a short but sweet story, and one that nicely sums up what it means to be a superhero. It will likely appeal to readers like myself who like superheroes who are trying to be idealistic and do the right thing – characters who are flawed and have seen horrors, but who still believe in good. The younger characters are clearly excited to be Avengers, and the adults are trying to give them advice and train them. The writing is funny and the artwork is bright and colorful. The creators efficiently used the limited space they had (half an issue) to tell a story that does what it’s meant to: get fans excited for the upcoming story about this new team.

The All-New, All-Different Avengers series is going to start after the Marvel Multiverse is finished crashing, burning, and reforming.[4] Despite the fact that the long title makes me laugh, I’m really looking forward to this story. This team consists of characters I’m excited to read more about. I tend to like superhero teams with some adults and some teenagers, because it provides the opportunity for a lot of heart and humor as the older, more experienced superheroes mentor (or try to mentor) the younger ones. This FCBD story has already caused me to start imagining possible stories in my mind.

Avengers Assemble!

###

References

[1] Waid, Mark; Asrar, Mahmud; Martin, Frank; et al. Free Comic Book Day Vol. 2015 “The All-New, All-Different Avengers”. Marvel, 2 May 2015.

[2] “FCBD Site FAQs”. Free Comic Book Day. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/984.

[3] “Free Comic Book Day Vol 2015 Avengers”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Free_Comic_Book_Day_Vol_2015_Avengers.

[4] “Secret Wars”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Secret_Wars.

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14 “Crushed, Part Two” (By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring, et al)

“I’ve broken more rules in the last twelve hours than in the previous sixteen years of my life combined…and it feels pretty great.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14)[1]

“My parents love you, Bruno. You’re like their adopted gora nephew or something. They think you’re upstanding and hardworking and smart. They trust you. But they’d never be okay with you and Kamala – you know.” (Aamir Khan to Bruno Carrelli, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14)[2]

At the end of issue #13, Kamran revealed to Kamala Khan that he is also an Inhuman.[3] Kamala is excited to find that there’s someone like herself in the universe – another “nerdy, Pakistani-American-slash-Inhuman”.[4] In this issue, Kamran shows up outside Kamala’s bedroom window, in a cute scene out of a romantic comedy, and they go out together. (He even puts her shoe back on, like she’s Cinderella, when her feet shrink back down to their usual size after her jump out of her bedroom window.) Kamran shows Kamala a spot that gives them a great view of the city, and then shows her his Inhuman powers as well. Kamala is incredibly awkward during what might unofficially be her first date, and we cringe and laugh along with her as she tries to find the right words to say and the right way to interpret the feelings that she’s having.

The next morning, Kamala is tired from her late night out with Kamran. Noticing her feelings towards Kamran leads to a conversation between Kamala’s friend Bruno Carrelli and her brother Aamir Khan, while Aamir is waiting at the bus stop for a ride to his job interview. (His father’s been trying to get him to find a job since issue #1).[5] Readers already know that Bruno loves Kamala, and it’s revealed that Aamir knows how Bruno feels. Aamir is quite insistent that a relationship between them will never work, because the Khan family is Muslim and the Carrelli family is Catholic. Aamir’s views really struck a nerve with me, because I have heard people in the real world make the same argument. People will argue that they are trying to preserve their culture as their reason for opposing romantic relationships between people of different religions, cultures, and races. It’s implied that mixing with others would somehow ruin the wonderful nature of their culture, and the culture of a person’s parents and ancestors is placed above individuals’ rights. People from a minority group (such as Muslims in the United States) can make it sound hypothetically reasonable, an attempt to preserve their traditions despite being a small group, but the real world effect on people can be very limiting and discriminatory. In this case, Kamala has not expressed a romantic interest in Bruno, so Aamir is not breaking up an actual couple, but Bruno comes across much more sympathetically to me, even as someone coming from a Muslim family. Though Aamir bothered me, the way the conversation was written was very realistic, and I appreciate that the creative team was willing to address this very contentious issue directly in the series.

The ending of this issue reveals another surprise about Kamran. He believes Inhumans are better than everyone else, and he kidnaps Kamala (tricking her by offering her a ride to school) to bring her to the group he’s a member of. The issue ends on another cliffhanger, as Kamala finds herself facing the trio of Lineage, Kaboom, and Kamran. It’s a fitting surprise, given the setup. There was a lot of focus in the beginning and middle of the issue on Kamala’s religious and racial background, and superficially, it would seem as though Kamran is very much like her. Superficially, she also has a similar background as the other Inhumans. However, the most important thing is what a person’s values are, and it turns out that Kamran doesn’t share Kamala’s views of helping others; he instead supports the idea that a group he’s a part of is superior to everyone else.

This was a fun middle issue, building on themes introduced in the previous issue and serving as a bridge to the conclusion of the story arc. Readers get to see Kamala trying to do regular everyday things, like going on a date and talking with a boy. Like anyone would be, she’s both excited and awkward. The story also addresses some experiences, both funny and serious, that many teenagers have while growing up.

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Miyazawa, Takeshi; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14 “Crushed, Part Two”. Marvel, 15 April 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14.

[3] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13 (By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 24 May 2015 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-13-by-wilson-miyazawa-herring-et-al/.

[4] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14.

[5] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #1 Meta Morphosis (By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 26 June 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-1-metamorphosis-by-wilson-alphona-herring-et-al/.

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13 “Crushed, Part One” (By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring, et al)

“You know those days you sometime have? The days that seem totally ordinary when you wake up, but by the time you go to sleep that night, your whole life is divided into before that day and after that day? This is one of those days.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13)[1]

“Just when I was starting to get comfortable with the idea of being Inhuman…I find out that even aliens have their fanatical extremists.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13)[2]

After some Valentine’s Day superheroics,[3] Kamala Khan does some training in New Attilan and then goes home to find out that Bushra Aunty and Irfan Uncle (old family friends) are moving back to Jersey City with their teenaged son Kamran, who is apparently a very impressive young man (according to her parents). Kamala initially doesn’t have a very good impression of Kamran (based on her memories from when they were five years old) but when she sees him, she immediately develops a crush on him. He’s handsome, plays the same MMORPG video game (World of Battlecraft) that she plays, and likes Bollywood films (such as Sholay, which is an actual movie).[4] He seems perfect. What could possibly go wrong?

During the story, Kamala convinces her parents to her go to the DVD store with Kamran by insisting that her older brother Aamir will go with them. During their outing, Aamir tries to keep them from getting too close together, insisting that, “When a man and woman are alone together, the third is Shaytan!”[5](This is something I’ve actually heard people say in the real world, by the way.) While Aamir is trying to give Kamala a lecture, a villain called Kaboom shows up and Kamala has to sneak away to transform into Ms. Marvel. Kamala has a cool Superman moment as she reveals that she’s been wearing her uniform under her clothes in order to be better prepared to face villains. Kamala wins the fight (after telling Kaboom to “take your new world order crap back to Manhattan, where it belongs”),[6] but feels conflicted about it, since she seriously injured Kaboom. The issue then ends with a surprise regarding one of the characters.

This issue, like many others in the series, contains some passages that address what it’s like to be a first-generation child of immigrants – specifically a first-generation daughter of immigrant parents with some socially conservative views. Kamala’s parents are hesitant to let her spend time alone with Kamran, even for a trip to the store, and only relent when Aamir agrees to go along. This is an experience that many girls and women can relate to, when male family members are given more freedom and even given authority over their female family members. The story also shows how teenagers try their best, given the beliefs of their parents, to find a way to maneuver around their parents’ expectations, to find their own identity, and to make their own decisions. Both unquestioning obedience of parents and total rejection of the family are not usually the option that people take (though the second one may be needed in certain situations). Usually, kids and teenagers try to find a way to make their own decisions despite their parents’ disapproval while also trying to stay close to a family that they care about. As I’ve mentioned previously, I appreciate that Kamala’s decisions are her own.[7] Her story is not an apologetic tactic for either Muslims or those who would discriminate against Muslims. She’s trying to be herself, just as her fans are trying to be themselves, in a world that tries to stop them.

This issue also continues Kamala’s journey to figure out the best way to be a superhero. Related to her conversation with Logan/Wolverine in issue # 7 about whether it’s possible to help people with hurting others,[8] Kamala again finds that being a superhero is not as easy as it may seem. It may be easy (especially with superpowers) to punch someone as hard as possible, but it’s not as easy to see an ambulance take them away and still think of oneself as a hero who fights for justice. Superhero fans know that with great power comes great responsibility,[9] as Benjamin Parker said to his nephew Peter Parker/Spider-Man,[10] and Kamala Khan is learning that as she tries to figure out how to be the best superhero (and the best person) she can be.

Both the artwork and writing in this issue were really fun. G. Willow Wilson’s writing was wonderful, as usual. She can make the readers laugh, roll their eyes, and feel shocked along with Kamala all within a few panels. Takeshi Miyazawa and Ian Herring’s artwork was really great. I really like the way the characters are depicted in this issue; the feeling and themes of the book are really portrayed well. The cover art by Marguerite Sauvage shows Kamala looking different than she usually does, which surprised me (especially due to proportions), but I liked the little touches like mehndi on her hand and older comics issues of Ms. Marvel in the background.

This was a fun issue that’s setting up a three-part story arc. At this point, issues #14 and #15 have already been released, so I know what happens later in the story (to be discussed in the reviews of those issues). I will say here that this issue does a good job of foreshadowing later events in addition to being yet another really enjoyable installment in a great series. If my reviews are repetitive on this point, it’s because the series really is that good, and I highly recommend it. The first two trade paperbacks (collecting the first eleven issues between them) have been released so far; new fans have a great opportunity to join in the fun.

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Miyazawa, Takeshi; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13 “Crushed, Part One”. Marvel, 11 March 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13.

[3] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 ‘Loki in Love’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Elmo Bondoc, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 10 March 2015 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/book-review-ms-marvel-3-12-by-wilson-bondoc-herring-et-al/.

[4] “Sholay”. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholay.

[5] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13.

[6] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13.

[7] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #9 ‘Generation Why, Part Two’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 15 December 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-9-generation-why-part-two-by-wilson-alphona-herring-et-al/.

[8] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #7 ‘Healing Factor, Part Two’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 26 September 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-7-healing-factor-part-two-by-wilson-wyatt-herring-et-al/.

[9] “Uncle Ben”. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Ben#.22With_great_power_comes_great_responsibility.22.

[10] “Benjamin Parker (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Benjamin_Parker_(Earth-616).

“Being A Mutant And Gay”: Thoughts on All-New X-Men Vol. 1 #40

“That’s one of the good things about being here as opposed to back where we came from. I don’t think anymore here cares.

“You think?”

“Not like back then.”

“That’s probably true.”

(Jean Grey and Bobby Drake, All-New X-Men Vol. 1 #40)[1]

I picked up All-New X-Men #40 expecting an enjoyable, hopefully well-written and well-illustrated, story that would provide a conclusion to the story arcs that had been happening to the time-displaced original five X-Men. I figured there would probably be some mildly fun mini-adventure before the Marvel Multiverse crashes and burns iridescently leading into Secret Wars.[2] I hadn’t seen the leaked pages and couldn’t have known about the surprise revelation.

Bobby Drake, the X-Man known as Iceman, is gay.

This revelation made me incredibly cheerful. One of the reasons I love the X-Men is the metaphor for marginalized demographics, but one of the unfortunate realities of many stories with this type of metaphor is that they often don’t include real-world diversity with characters from real-world marginalized demographics. There have been efforts to make improvements in media representation, and there has been progress made. There have been a lot of new X-Men characters over the years, and several creators have tried to be more inclusive in their stories. In this case, though, Bobby Drake is an established character who’s been around for more than fifty years at this point. He’s been an X-Man since X-Men Vol. 1 #1 in 1963.[3]

I’ve often wanted my favorite characters in stories to be LGBTQ+, even when I was younger. I’ve written before about wishing that the Power Rangers were queer.[4] Regarding Bobby Drake specifically, I’ve actually written (admittedly amateurishly-written) slash fan fiction with him as a gay character.[5] For this reason, the fact that it was Bobby specifically who came out made me smile. It may seem like a silly thing, but it’s incredibly rare for a queer fan to find out that a long-standing character they imagined was queer is actually queer in canon. We go into the story and into fan fiction knowing it’s never going to happen in canon. Sometimes, it’s good to be proven wrong.

There’s a line of dialogue in this issue that I think captures what this is, what it means. Warren Worthington III/Angel says to Laura Kinney/X-23, “This is my do-over.”[6] Though he says it for himself, I think that applies so much to the revelation about Bobby and to this series. All-New X-Men is basically a do-over for the original X-Men. Telling a story that’s a retelling or set in an alternate universe or (in this case) involves classic characters who’ve been picked up from decades past and moved forward in time is an opportunity to makes things better, make things right. It’s an opportunity to recognize that the story could be improved. Giving though to the societal issues that have occurred since the publication of the original and taking that into account when creating a retelling can help create a better book. While All-New X-Men has had its ups and downs, I definitely think that the decision to reveal that Bobby is queer was a good decision. In the quote at the beginning of this essay, Jean tells Bobby that things are better in the time period they’re currently in than they were back in their original timeline. It’s nice to have some canon acknowledgement that there was a problem with stories that never included any queer characters.

I sincerely hope that the increase in diversity continues, including more characters that are from all the parts of the queer community. I know that there has been disagreement and discussion regarding the way that this story was told, including the way that Jean confronts Bobby about his sexual orientation and the dismissing of the idea that Bobby might be bisexual rather than gay. What I hope, though, is that there will be more LGBTQ+ characters coming out of the closet in the future, showing a wide variety of experiences. Because the world needs superheroes, and queer superheroes shouldn’t have to hide in the closet. Hopefully, someday, none of their fans will have to, either.

#

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Listening

Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes host an excellent X-Men podcast called Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men. They also post book reviews and essays. Their review for last week’s X-books included a discussion on issue #40.[7] Rachel Edidin also wrote a great essay regarding this topic titled “On Coming Out, Queer Identity, and Continuity in All-New X-Men #40”.[8]

###

References

[1] Bendis, Brian Michael; Asrar, Mahmud; Beredo, Rain; et al. All-New X-Men Vol. 1 #40. Marvel, 22 April 2015.

[2] Secret Wars. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 26 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Secret_Wars.

[3] X-Men Vol 1 1. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 26 April 2015 http://marvel.wikia.com/X-Men_Vol_1_1.

[4] Sharmin, Ani J. “Queer Power Rangers”. Posted on 18 January 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 26 April 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/queer-power-rangers/.

[5] Geek Squared 1307. Of Fire and Ice. FanFiction.net. Retrieved on 26 April 2015 from http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3259185/1/Of-Fire-and-Ice.

[6] Bendis, Brian Michael; Asrar, Mahmud; Beredo, Rain; et al. All-New X-Men Vol. 1 #40. Marvel, 22 April 2015.

[7] Edidin, Rachel and Stokes, Miles, “Rachel and Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 34.” Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, 24 April 2015. Retrieved on 26 April 2015 from http://www.rachelandmiles.com/xmen/?p=3495.

[8] Edidin, Rachel. “On Coming Out, Queer Identity, and Continuity in All-New X-Men #40”. Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, 25 April 2015. Retrieved on 26 April 2015 from http://www.rachelandmiles.com/xmen/?p=3503.

Book Review: S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2 “The Animator” (By Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, et al)

“I lurk on every super-hero fan site there is. I admin on two. I know my stuff.”

“Clearly.”

(Kamala Khan and Phil Coulson, S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2)[1]

“It’s all right. Don’t panic. I can guess what you were about to say, anyway. Your family doesn’t know about your…other life, right? I can respect the position that puts you in.”

(Jemma Simmons to Kamala Khan, S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2)[2]

Our intrepid young heroine Kamala Khan makes a guest appearance in yet another book, after her visit with Peter Parker/Spider-Man[3] and her time teaming up with Logan/Wolverine in issue #6[4] and issue #7[5] of her own book. This time, Kamala teams up with Agent Jemma Simmons[6] and Agent Phil Coulson[7] of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistic Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) when they are on a mission at Coles Academic High School, where she is a student. This volume of the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics,[8] though set on Earth-616 (the Mainstream Continuity of Marvel Comics),[9] is very much inspired by the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.[10] set on Earth-199999 (better known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe).[11] Issue #2 “The Animator” was released on 14 January 2015, technically in between Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 issue #10 and issue #11. Since Ms. Marvel was in the middle of a story arc at the time, this seemed a better time to review it, since issue #12 (the topic of my previous Ms. Marvel review)[12] was a one-part story and issue #13 begins a three-part story arc.

Agent Jemma Simmons goes undercover as substitute teacher Ms. Stenanko in Kamala’s AP Biology class. It becomes apparent rather soon that there are some mysterious things going on at Coles Academic High School, involving supervillain gadget contraband, including animated pizza dough. There’s plenty of action, but the best parts are the character moments, which are both hilarious and touching, as Kamala interacts with the agents. Kamala gets to use her nerdy superhero knowledge and superheroics to contribute to the mission after the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are initially reluctant to let her participate in the fight due to her age. Readers also find out some more about Jemma Simmons, whose Earth-199999 counterpart[13] is one of my favorite characters on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. She and Kamala have a touching moment at the end of the issue, regarding their need to hide their secret jobs from their families. I love it when new superheroes meet adults who have had similar experiences, and when the adults can provide some advice to their younger counterparts.

The writing and artwork in the book are fun. It’s enjoyable to see Kamala having a chance to explore some more of the Marvel universe in which she lives, earning notches in her belt and having the opportunities to meet with other heroes. There were certain parts that resonated due to my familiarity with the television show with alternate-universe versions of the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters, but I don’t know how this issue ties in with the other issues in this series. We don’t get to see how this story might influence the overall storyline or other relevant information; I’m especially curious about S.H.I.E.L.D.’s knowledge regarding Kamala, which Agent Coulson mentions briefly. Overall, it was a fun side story.

I’m really enjoying reading about Kamala meeting different characters in the Marvel Universe. I’d recommend this issue to fans of Kamala Khan, even those who may not be reading the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. series. I’m looking forward to reading the books Kamala visits next.

###

References

[1] Waid, Mark; Ramos, Humberto; Olazaba, Victor; Delgado, Edgar; et al. S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2 “The Animator”. Marvel, 14 January 2015.

[2] Waid, Mark; Ramos, Humberto; Olazaba, Victor; Delgado, Edgar; et al. S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2 “The Animator”. Marvel, 14 January 2015.

[3] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #7 ‘Ms. Marvel Team-Up; and #8 ‘Ms. Adventures in Babysitting’ (By Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Antonio Fabella, et al)”. Posted on 21 December 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/book-review-amazing-spider-man-vol-3-7-and-8/.

[4] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #6 ‘Healing Factor, Part One’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 13 September 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-6-healing-factor-part-one-by-wilson-wyatt-herring-et-al/.

[5] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #7 ‘Healing Factor, Part Two’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 26 September 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-7-healing-factor-part-two-by-wilson-wyatt-herring-et-al/

[6] Jemma Simmons (Earth-616). Marvel Database. Retrieved on 20 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Jemma_Simmons_(Earth-616).

[7] Phillip Coulson (Earth-616). Marvel Database. Retrieved on 20 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Phillip_Coulson_(Earth-616).

[8] S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol 3. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/S.H.I.E.L.D._Vol_3.

[9] Earth-616. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Earth-616.

[10] Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Marvel’s_Agents_of_S.H.I.E.L.D.

[11] Earth-199999. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Earth-199999.

[12] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 ‘Loki in Love’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Elmo Bondoc, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 10 March 2015 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/book-review-ms-marvel-3-12-by-wilson-bondoc-herring-et-al/.

[13] Jemma Simmons (Earth-199999). Marvel Database. Retrieved on 20 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Jemma_Simmons_(Earth-199999).

Book Review: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”

“In a sense, this is a military history—one in which the adversary is formless, timeless, and pervasive. Here, too, there are victories and losses, campaigns upon campaigns, heroes and hubris, survival and resilience—and inevitably, the wounded, the condemned, the forgotten, the dead. In the end, cancer truly emerges, as a nineteenth-century physician once wrote in a book’s frontispiece, as the ‘emperor of all maladies, the king of terrors.’” (Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies)[1]

There are some books in each reader’s life which leave a great impression, touching various aspects of the reader’s life and becoming entwined with certain experiences and memories. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is one such book for me. A non-fiction history of science book about cancer, it’s a volume that gives one of the most dreaded diseases that humans face its due. I decided I absolutely had to write a review of this.

Mukherjee covers a very long range of time and a variety of topics. For the most part, the book focuses on the history of the scientific research and discoveries made about cancer, but there are also sections focusing on political discussions about cancer, the War on Cancer, and advocacy by various groups. Interspersed throughout are stories about Mukherjee’s oncology fellowship and some of his patients. The book is just as much about the actions of human beings as it is about the disease. These illnesses, after all, affect and are fought by human beings. We see how people have been greatly motivated to figure out this mysterious group of illnesses over the years. We see how human fallibility affects the decisions of all humans, even those who are incredibly intelligent. There are triumphs and failures and the human ability to persevere. There’s also a generous amount of epigraphs throughout the book, at the beginning of each part and chapter. Mukherjee manages to make all of these passages fit together beautifully. I became teary several times while reading this book, both due to sadness and happiness, grief and inspiration.

One of the things conveyed well in this book is the way that science progresses, with people making discoveries that build upon the discoveries of the past. The book covers the efforts to understand the causes and characteristics of cancer as well as the efforts to invent treatments for it, including explanations of how these are all intertwined. There are also explanations of how scientific discoveries in other areas, from clothing dyes to weapons of war, inspired scientists to look into topics that led to discoveries related to cancer. Humans have been affected by cancer and trying to figure it out for a very long time, and the book gives an appreciation of this lengthy struggle, from thousands of years ago today.

Mukherjee’s writing in this book is absolutely amazing; it is of that quality that makes me despair of never writing anything equal to it. The many topics discussed in the book are tied together beautifully, with one section leading to the next in a way that obviously required a lot of planning and work but seems inevitable due to the way it’s written. It’s a wonderful thing, to read a book that discusses such an important topic and that is also so beautifully written that I wanted to keep reading more. It’s also great to find well-written books that discuss non-fiction topics, such as science or history, in a way that is as enjoyable to read as literature as it is educational. It’s my hope that books combining non-fiction topics with good writing will increase interest in and knowledge of important topics.

This book is moderately accessible to a lay audience. There is a glossary of scientific terms at the back of the book; readers may or may not need to refer to the glossary depending on their background knowledge. One need not be an expert in oncology or even a healthcare professional to understand the book, and the author knows he’s explaining a subject that he knows a great deal about to those who are not experts in it. However, having some basic understanding about science, especially biology, is helpful in understanding some of the content and may help add some depth to some of the passages. Those with a passion for science or history should definitely read this book, and even those who may not have a prior interest may find that this book inspires them to read more.

To be human is to be faced with our mortality, and one of the most feared causes of death is cancer. In this book, Mukherjee writes about cancer in a way that shows an appreciation of its complexity and its affect on humanity.

This book is fantastic, and I definitely recommend reading it.

###

References

[1] Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. New York: Scribner, 2010, Author’s Note, p. xiv.

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 “Loki in Love” (By G. Willow Wilson, Elmo Bondoc, Ian Herring, et al)

“Friendship is something real and good and anybody who doesn’t understand that needs a dictionary.” (Bruno Carrelli, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12)[1]

“I can’t believe I let you drag me to this patriarchal capitalist display of fake affection.” (Nakia Bahadir, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12)[2]

Contrary to the title of this Valentine’s Day issue, the story actually does not focus on Loki being in love with anyone. After the end of the previous story arc,[3] Freyja, the All-Mother of Asgard, sends Loki to Midgard (Earth) to investigate and find out if any of the students at Coles Academic High School are still allied with the Inventor. (There’s a hilarious bit of dialogue about New Jersey having been “too long neglected by the gods”.[4] I think this is likely related to G. Willow Wilson’s comments about Kamala feeling like she’s a second-string superhero from Jersey City, NJ which is in the shadow of New York, NY.[5]) Loki shows up in Jersey City right before the Valentine’s Day Dance at the high school and proceeds to interfere in people’s love lives rather than working on the mission he was sent there to complete.

This issue was hilarious. From Kamala claiming she should get extra credit for physical education (which she’s failing) because of her superheroics to Bruno calling Loki a “Hipster Viking” to Kamala and Nakia’s conversations,[6] this issue kept me smiling all the way through. Despite my enjoyment of the previous issue of the series, I genuinely wasn’t expecting this and was pleasantly surprised. There’s always the issue of how to handle a Valentine’s Day story without being too cliché – either by creating a bland love story without anything to distinguish it from the many other similar ones or by being so cynical that even some people who don’t celebrate the holiday will think it’s a bit much. On top of all of this, in a story with a Muslim protagonist whose parents don’t let her date, there are a lot of ways the story can go wrong. I was kind of nervous about how this would be handled.

The creators deal with this by situation by focusing a great deal on friendship in this story. There’s lots of interaction between Kamala and Nakia and Kamala and Bruno. Although Bruno likes Kamala and wants to ask her to the dance, he still defends friendship when his brother Vick brings up the “friend zone” argument. Kamala and Nakia are hanging out together and discussing the mysterious love letter (written by Loki on behalf of Bruno, despite Bruno’s protests) that Kamala received. We get to see these two friends talk about boys and dating in a relatable way, their experiences obviously influenced by their families’ religious beliefs but also similar to teenagers of other religions as well. When they sneak out to the dance, Loki is spiking the punch with truth serum, and Kamala has to become Ms. Marvel to fight him. I feel I should add that there are also a nice couple of panels showing a same-sex couple at the dance, which I thought was nice; as always, I hope that there are more LGBTQ+ in more stories. My only criticism of the way the story in this issue is handled is that the issue of Kamala’s differences with her parents regarding relationships cannot be put off forever. However, it does seem like the upcoming story may deal with this,[7] and I hope that it’s addressed well there. Overall, I really liked the creators’ approach to this issue, because they took what could have been a boring or frustrating concept (a holiday issue) and made it fun.

This issue has artwork by Elmo Bondoc, and I really liked the way that the artist drew the story. Though I often get used to seeing the characters drawn a certain way by the main artist, the artwork in the issue immediately pulled me into the narrative and fascinated me. The coloring was by the usual colorist for the series, Ian Herring, so the artwork still had similarities with the previous issues. I wasn’t as big a fan of the cover art by Kris Anka, mostly due to the way that the characters’ faces are drawn. The writing was lots of fun, and G. Willow Wilson’s work continues to be among my favorites.

This issue was a one-shot holiday story, and as far as holiday stories go, it was rather impressive. I enjoyed the focus on character development, fun moments between friends, and a storyline that was connected with previous development. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue, which is due out tomorrow.[8]

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Bondoc, Elmo; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 “Loki in Love”. Marvel, 18 February 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12.

[3] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11 ‘Generation Why, Part Four’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 9 March 2015 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 9 March 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-11-by-wilson-alphona-herring-et-al/.

[4] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12.

[5] Arrant, Chris. “G. Willow Wilson’s New MS. MARVEL – Teen, Muslim, Jersey Girl, Fan Girl!” Posted on 6 November 2013 at Newsarama. Retrieved on 9 March 2015 from http://www.newsarama.com/19488-g-willow-wilson-s-new-ms-marvel-teen-muslim-jersey-girl-fangirl.html.

[6] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12.

[7] “Ms. Marvel Vol 3 13”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 10 March 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_13.

[8] “Ms. Marvel Vol 3 13”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 10 March 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_13.

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11 “Generation Why, Part Four” (By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, et al)

“It’s handy to have friends who are as weird as you are.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11)[1]

“The world comes at you fast. You gotta stay light on your feet. Know who your friends are. And never be afraid to ask for help. Nobody has the right to give up on a whole generation before it’s even had a chance to prove itself. We’re all in this together, and we gotta remember that.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11)[2]

In this, the last chapter of the “Generation Why” story arc, Kamala Khan and her crew of teenage allies (recruited to her cause in the previous issue)[3] face off against the Inventor in order to save the teenagers he has kidnapped and tricked into joining his cause. Readers find out with Kamala that her friend Nakia Bahadir is one of the teenagers who have been kidnapped by the Inventor, and Kamala must think of a clever strategy to fight against the Inventor’s robots. This issue was mostly a fight scene, but with lot of quiet moments as well.

I’ve been enjoying the way that the creators of Ms. Marvel handle the fight scenes. There’s an emphasis on coming up with a clever way to fight the villains, including teamwork and strategy, not just going in punching everybody. Kamala uses the strategy she learned previously, making herself smaller instead of making herself bigger, in order to fight the robot from the inside out.[4] As with the previous issue, there’s a nice message of people working together. Kamala and the other teens work together and also get assistance from the police and paramedics in the end. I love superhero stories in which it’s not all about the main character always saving the day and instead about people and their choices. Most important is people’s decisions to do the right thing. It’s more about helping people instead of about detailed and lengthy fight scenes. Personally, I do sometimes enjoy the longer fight scenes in other books, as long as the book also has an actual story with character development,[5] but I also enjoy books like Ms. Marvel that focus moreso on other aspects.

This issue also continues to show the difficulties in the life of a superhero. There’s a heartbreaking moment when the paramedics are taking the captured teenagers to provide them the medical care they need. In a panel with a close up of Nakia unconscious on a stretcher, Kamala realizes, “I can’t go to the hospital with my best friend. She’ll recognize me. And that’s when it hits me. This isn’t just a costume anymore. This is a parallel life.”[6] Superheroes with secret identities always have this problem of having to live two lives, keeping secrets from the people closest to them. It’s a very touching moment that acknowledges this theme with a young character for whom this is a new experience.

One of the things I love about the Ms. Marvel series is how unabashed and thoughtful it is in its inclusion of positive messages for readers. There will be moments in the story that are obviously intended to have a positive message, especially for teenaged readers. This is done in a way that seems true and relatable, with Kamala’s internal monologue narration containing many observations that are similar to things that I remember thinking as well. The reason I love superhero stories is because of those positive messages, and so I appreciate that they are delivered in an effective way in a good story.

The ending of the story suggests that (of course) there will be more stories to come – because as any fan of stories about heroes vs. villains knows, evil never dies. There’s always another fight, another obstacle to overcome, and another chance to do the right thing. This book was a nice ending to this story arc and tied together various elements that were set up earlier in the story. As always, I would definitely recommend reading this series.

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11 “Generation Why, Part Four”. Marvel, 4 February 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11.

[3] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10 ‘Generation Why, Part Three’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 19 January 2015 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 9 March 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-10-by-wilson-alphona-herring-et-al/.

[4] Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #5 ‘Urban Legend’ (By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, et al)”. Posted on 8 September 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 9 March 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-5-urban-legend-by-wilson-alphona-herring-et-al/.

[5] Sharmin, Ani J. “Book Review: Uncanny Avengers Vol. 1 #1-5 (By Rick Remender, John Cassaday, Oliver Coipel, Laura Martin, et al)”. Posted on 25 November 2014 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on 9 March 2015 from https://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/book-review-uncanny-avengers-vol-1-1-to-5-by-remender-cassaday-coipel-martin-et-al/.

[6] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11.

Book Review: Thor Vol. 4 #1-5 (By Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, Jorge Molina, et al)

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if she be worthy, shall possess the power of … Thor.” (Mjölnir’s enchantment, Thor Vol. 4 #1)[1]

“Do not just be worthy of the hammer. You are not the first to wield it, and no matter your fate, you will not be the last. Be worthy of the name. Long after every hammer in creation has crumbled to dust, the name of Thor will echo still. That is the true honor you bear. That is the burden you must carry.” (Freyja, Thor Vol. 4 #5)[2]

There’s a new Thor wielding the mighty hammer Mjölnir, and she won’t let anything stand in her way — not the frost giants, not a CEO of an energy corporation, and not even Odin the All-Father himself. After Thor Odinson is no longer able to wield Mjölnir, the hammer rests immovably on the moon until a mysterious woman picks it up. The new Thor is a legacy character, and it can be a challenge to introduce such a character when so many fans are devoted to the original. The creators do so in a way that is intriguing and makes me want to read more.

After picking up Mjölnir and endearingly figuring how to fly with it, Thor heads to Midgard (Earth) and fights the Frost Giants, who are working together to retrieve the skull of Laufey (King of Jotunheim) which was found by Roxxon Energy Corporation, a company whose CEO Darrio Agger turns out to be a Minotaur. There’s plenty of action and plenty of opportunity for the new Thor to use her new powers and figure out what she’s capable of. The main character figuring out how to be the new Thor adds a certain meaning to fight scenes that may have otherwise just been generic. I loved seeing her improving her ability to fight with the hammer and trying to come up with witty and confidant responses to her opponents’ insults.

Gender is definitely a theme in this story, and it is mostly handled well, though with some odd choices and missteps. There are villains who don’t believe that she could possibly be the new Thor, and she proves them wrong by defeating them. There’s even a passage in issue five in which Thor fights Carl Creel/Absorbing Man, who is committing a robbery. The creators put the arguments of some of the real-world fans who oppose the new female Thor into Creel’s dialogue. Thor proceeds to punch him. I have to admit that, after seeing so many stories which focus on cisgender men (and don’t give enough focus to how women might feel about the portrayal of female characters), it was nice to see a passage that was clearly there to stand up for those who are angry at those who oppose feminism. There was also a moment in which Mary MacPherran/Titania, who is also a criminal and working together with with Carl, acknowledges that she and Thor have something in common in that they are trying to succeed in what they’re doing in a world while facing sexism. Unfortunately, there was a passage in this story that didn’t make much sense, as Mary was willing to go to jail and hits Carl. It seemed odd and seems to fit the stereotype that women who care about gender equality will randomly hurt men for no reason. It’s not just the expected villains who oppose Thor. Even Odin Borson, the All-Father, is against the new her. He resents that she wields Mjölnir and wants to figure out who she is. His opposition to her is foreshadowed from the beginning of the story, during an argument between him and Freyja, the All-Mother. I liked this aspect, because it shows how discrimination is not just something that is supported by evil villains. It is also supported by people who may be good in other ways, because they (like Odin) are so used to being the ones with more power than others that they resent the idea of someone else being equal to them and having the same opportunity to gain similar power. Odin is a symbol of the established society and culture of Asgard, and he therefore reflects the problems of that society, as well as ours. By contrast, Freyja, the All-Mother of Asgard, supports the new Thor. Right from the beginning of the series, we see Freyja and Odin arguing about the rule of Asgard. The series initially hints that Freyja might be the new Thor, but it turns out that she’s not. I have not read many Thor stories, so I don’t know much about Freyja, but she seems to be a fascinating character. I hope that the theme of addressing gender issues continues in the series.

Thor Odinson is also a major character in the series. We see him deal with the realization that he is no longer Thor, God of Thunder. Mjölnir considers him unworthy. The one thing that I think wasn’t done well (in a different series) was the explanation of how Thor Odinson became unworthy of Mjölnir in the first place.[3] In this series, Thor is originally furious that someone else has Mjölnir. He finds the new Thor and fights her. During the fight, he realizes that the hammer really does consider her worthy and that she truly is the new Thor. I mostly like the way that the creators have handled the inclusion of his story. The kiss between the new Thor and Thor Odinson seemed unnecessary, but I did like their interaction otherwise (including him coming to accept her as the new Thor and her feeling compassion for him when she sees how upset he is about losing the hammer). Generally, I think the way their stories are interspersed is done in a way that keeps Thor Odinson, a beloved character, in the series but still keeps the focus on the new Thor, who is the protagonist.

Part of the story in this arc was the hidden identity of the new Thor; although we know that she’s Thor, we do not yet know who she was before she picked up the hammer. Even Odin is not able to figure it out, despite his efforts to find her with magic. There’s a fun passage in which Thor Odinson is making a list of the people he thinks she might be. It seems that upcoming issues will continue this theme of the mystery of Thor’s identity and that readers will find out who she is in issue #8.[4] I’m especially eager to find out if she is a new character in the multiverse, or if she is a character who was in other stories previously.

The writing and art are mostly really great. The writing has passages that make us feel for Thor as she is having a great time using her new powers and also showing determination when others don’t believe that she can be the real Thor. There are fun, funny, and serious moments. Similarly, the artwork has very memorable panels that worked well with the story. There were some moments that I thought could have been done differently, but I really enjoyed this story.

The new Thor is amazing. Despite never reading a Thor series before, I decided to try reading this series due to the new female Thor and am really glad that I did. I would recommend the series and look forward to reading more.

###

References

[1] Aaron, Jason; Dauterman, Russell; Wilson Matthew; et al. Thor Vol. 4 #1 “If He Be Worthy”. Marvel, 1 October 2014.

[2] Aaron, Jason; Molina, Jorge; et al. Thor Vol. 4 #5 “Behold, A New Age of Thunder”. Marvel, 11 February 2015.

[3] Aaron, Jason; Deodato, Mike; Martin, Frank; et al. Original Sin Vol. 1 #7. Marvel, 13 August 2014.

[Link goes to: “Original Sin Vol 1 7”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 4 March 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Original_Sin_Vol_1_7. ]

[4] “Thor Vol 4 8”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 4 March 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Thor_Vol_4_8.

Book Review: Storm Vol. 3 #1-5 (By Greg Pak, Victor Ibañez, Scott Hepburn, et al) #SaveStorm

“Ororo Munroe…a.k.a. Windrider…a.k.a. Princess of N’Dare…a.k.a. Queen of Wakanda (former)…a.k.a. Headmistress of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning…a.k.a.…Storm” (Storm Vol. 3 #1)⁠1

“I started off picking pockets in Cairo. And then I became a queen, Logan. I tried to stay true to myself…but I had to think about everything I did with a few million other people in mind. And those gowns are tight. I just don’t feel like getting pushed back into anyone’s box again.” (Storm Vol. 3 #2)⁠2

Ororo Munroe, the X-Man known as Storm,⁠3 is one of the most well-known superheroes in the pantheon. First introduced in Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975),⁠4 she’s been an important character for decades, as an essential part of the X-Men and as a character in her own right. She was also one of the earliest female African-American superheroes. Now, about forty years later, she finally has an ongoing solo comics series.⁠5 The first five issues of this series serve to introduce the title character to the readers; in three one-shot stories followed by a two-part story, Storm is in situations and interacts with characters in ways which are reminiscent of some of her famous storylines from decades ago. As becomes obvious from the series, even to readers like myself who may only be familiar with certain parts of Ororo’s history based on which X-Men stories we’re familiar with, Ororo has done many things and had many roles in her life.

In issue #1, we see Ororo using her powers to save Santo Marco from a tsunami. There’s a great series of panels in which a whole bunch of people, including a kid, run up to her and are excited to see her. However, the government tells her to leave. Later in the issue, we get to see Ororo in her role as a teacher, as aspect of her character that I’m particularly fond of, having grown up with X-Men: Evolution. There’s an interesting character named Marisol who’s having a difficult time at the Jean Grey School due to bullying and what she sees as the X-Men’s attempts to brainwash students. She wants to leave the school to go back home. What I really loved about this issue was getting to see exactly what makes Ororo a superhero. She uses her powers for good. Given the abilities she has, she can avert some of the most deadly and destructive natural disasters, which can kill on a massive scale. We also see the difficulty of trying to help others when people’s discriminatory beliefs are so severe that they will reject someone who just saved the lives of innocent people, just because the person who saved them is part of a minority group (in this case, mutants). My only criticism is that I was really fascinated by the character of Marisol and was sad to see her go. It’s rare to see non-white characters in stories, and I’ve become frustrated by the trope in which a minority characters’ culture is used as a reason why they can’t or won’t do something (like joining a superhero team, for instance) when characters who are part of the majority are inspired to do the same thing. Her leaving seemed to me the kind of thing that is trying to portray diversity but ends up taking away a minority character instead of actually increasing diversity by adding one. I’m really hoping that this is just the beginning of Marisol’s story and that she will hopefully become a recurring secondary character in the series.

In issue #2, Ororo is reunite with Callisto of the Morlocks while investigating the disappearance of a young woman. I was somewhat familiar with the alternate-universe Earth-11052 version of the Morlocks⁠6 due to X-Men: Evolution⁠7 and the podcast Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men.⁠8 What I love about this issue is that it’s a story about a superhero who’s trying to help someone but then realizes that the situation is different than what she initially thought it was. Although the X-Men have disagreements with the Morlocks and even fight against them, it’s clear that they’re a group that readers are meant to have some sympathy for, due to the circumstances of discrimination against mutants that have caused them to live underground. In this issue, the Morlocks underground home become a place where people can escape to when they’re trying to get away from a bad situation. A group that has often been antagonists for our heroes turns out to be doing something good, and it’s a nice message showing that people are complicated and capable of a wide range of actions.

In issue #3, Ororo returns to Kenya and works together with her old friend Forge, who is working on a machine to help an area that has been plagued by drought. Using her powers, she helps him calibrate the machine in order to change the weather in an effective and accurate way that will be helpful to the people. This was an issue which also had a good message, but I think I might have enjoyed it even more if I knew more about the previous storylines about Ororo and Forge and more about Ororo’s time as a goddess. The good part of the issue is the message: Ororo is helping people once again, and it’s help with a problem that’s very real and happens in the real world. There is also a message about the importance of working together to make things better instead of seeking revenge.

In issues #4 and #5, the story ties in with the death of Logan/Wolverine, who has been an X-Man for as long as Ororo has. Ororo and Logan were romantically involved before his death, and there’s an incredibly touching passage in which Ororo, in her grief over Logan’s death, created an Aurora. The story which follows is one in which Ororo finds out that her and Logan’s longtime friend Yukio has gotten involved in some very questionable activities. This story was, in a way, the opposite of issue #2. In this story, Ororo finds out that someone who she actually really likes and considers a friend is doing something wrong. Ororo realizes that she can’t help her friend if her friend doesn’t want to change her situation. All she can do is live up to her own code of morality and not do something immoral, even when she’s put into a difficult situation. The story was obviously a tie-in with the Death of Wolverine event⁠9 which was happening at the time, and therefore set up a situation in which Ororo finds out something Logan was doing that she didn’t know about (working together with Yukio, trying to help her get out of the dangerous life that she had gotten herself into). This two-part story also shows Ororo’s morality and the difficult situation that people have to face when they find out that a friend is doing something wrong and asking them to do something wrong to help them.

Ororo Munroe is a great character and her solo series has been a long time coming. The content in these five introductory issues ranged from good to great, and I generally thought that most of the issues had some content that I really loved and some content that I thought was rather good. The story definitely made me interested in reading more of the series.

#

Notes

I’ll end my review with a request that readers try out this book. Fans have started the hashtag #SaveStorm out of concern that if the sales of the series don’t increase, it may be canceled as some series with similar sales numbers have recently been. As I’ve already written, Ororo is a great character and there’s great potential for stories about her in a solo series.

###

References

1 Pak, Greg; Ibañez, Victor; Redmond, Ruth; et al. Storm Vol. 3 #1. Marvel, 23 July 2014.

2 Pak, Greg; Ibañez, Victor; Redmond, Ruth; et al. Storm Vol. 3 #2. Marvel, 20 August 2014.

3 “Ororo Munroe (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 15 February 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ororo_Munroe_(Earth-616).

4 “Giant-Size X-Men Vol 1 1”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 15 February 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Giant-Size_X-Men_Vol_1_1.

5 “Storm Vol 3”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 22 February 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Storm_Vol_3.

6 “Morlocks (Earth-11052)”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 22 February 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Morlocks_(Earth-11052).

7 “X-Men: Evolution”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 22 February 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/X-Men:_Evolution.

8 The Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men website can be found at http://www.rachelandmiles.com/xmen/.

9 “Death of Wolverine”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 22 February 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Death_of_Wolverine.

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