Deadshirt is Reading…Teen Marvels, Androgynous Hunks and Gun-Havers

Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on a diverse array of comics, from name-brand cape titles to creator-owned books to webcomics.

Christina Harrington is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 11.10.17 PMMs. Marvel #1
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona (pencils) and Ian Herring (colors)
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Marvel

“All right, kid. As fate would have it, you’re about to get the kind of total reboot most people only dream about. But can I tell you something?…It is not going to turn out the way you think.”

Kamala Khan is my new favorite hero. This very first issue of Ms. Marvel is strong, introducing us to a fun cast of teenage characters with gorgeous, expressive art, and writing that’s lively and full of heart. Kamala herself is a fully realized teenager, meaning that she’s full of dreams and desires, that she occasionally acts selfishly, and really just wants to fit in. In a book that’s filled with textured characters (from mature Nakia to head-bitch Zoe), Kamala avoids fading into the background and stands firmly at the front of her own book.

Ms. Marvel is an important title, there’s no denying that or going around it. Not only does it feature a teenage girl as the lead, but the teenage girl is a young Pakistani-American muslim. What does this mean for comics, as a whole? Well, I’m not super sure that can be judged yet based on this one book (even though it’s a fantastic book), but I do know that Ms. Marvel shows that at least Marvel as a publisher is paying attention. Fans have been demanding more diversity in comics and Marvel seems to be listening to us. (Plus, more books with Captain Marvel influences is certainly not a bad thing. Go, Carol Corps, go!)

Even putting aside the importance of this book, the first issue of Ms. Marvel blows most first issues out of the water. It can be difficult to fit the essence of what a book will be in the first issue. First issues can come off as rushed or as hollow, empty of the heart that you hope to see in a book. Luckily, Ms. Marvel has avoided these problems. We’ve been introduced quickly to Kamala and her struggles to remain true to her superhero-fanfic-writing, see-the-best-in-everyone, independent self. Now someone give me issue two, pronto.

Jason Urbanciz is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.14.37 PMAction Comics #28
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Aaron Kuder (pencils) and Wil Quintana (colors)
DC Comics

“You really have to make friends with everyone, don’t you?”

Four issues into their run on Action Comics and Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder are hitting their stride. Superman and Lana Lang have stumbled upon a long-hidden matriarchal society buried seven miles under the Earth. Believing Lana to be the “Queen of the Upworlders” (and Superman her slave) they receive her as a dignitary. Things go swimmingly until Lana and Clark stumble upon the dark secret of Imperial Subterranea.

It’s nice to see some big, Silver Age-y craziness leaking into the New 52, giant stone dragons, underground civilizations, secret government ghost assassins, Superman smiling and making friends with everyone…it’s just plain refreshing. While there’s still some 21st century cynicism (the aforementioned ghost assassin), but it doesn’t reflect on the issue as a whole because Superman is just so good and well, Superman.

Kuder’s art is perfect for the book, bringing to mind Cameron Stewart’s bright clear figures mixed with Doug Mahnke’s detail and strong lines. Along with Kuder, Quintana’s colors give the book a strong blue and red palate without making the whole comic blend in with Superman’s costume.

Under Pak and Kuder, Action Comics is shaping up to be one of the best comics DC is putting out right now, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Max Robinson is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.23.36 PMLoki, Agent of Asgard #1
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Lee Garbett (pencils) and Nolan Woodward (colors)
Marvel

“This universe prefers old patterns, old cycles. It would prefer me in an old shape.”

If you were unconvinced that Loki was the true breakout character of Marvel Studios’ recent cinematic adaptations, you need look no further than Tumblr. Marvel has, wisely, capitalized on the mischief god’s newfound popularity by placing him as the lead in books like Journey Into Mystery, Young Avengers and now Loki, Agent of Asgard. Although explaining the exact circumstances of Loki’s current status quo would require more space than allotted here, all you need to know is this: Following Seige, Loki was reborn as a young godling and set out on a path of redemption as a covert agent for Asgardia’s ruling triumvirate, The All-Mothers. Now alittle older (and uh…hunkier) following recent events in Young Avengers, Loki continues his espionage duties much to the distrust of the superhero community at large.

Looking at this first issue, it’s appropriately *slick*. Garbett’s art reminds me alot of Phil Hester’s work on Green Arrow and he demonstrates a strong sense of comedic timing. The story itself, following Loki as he breaks into Avengers Tower and turns the present Avengers on each other long enough to complete his assigned mission, is a fun introduction for new readers and Ewing even throws in a really lovely character moment between Loki and Thor towards the end. What ends up dragging the issue down slightly is the shoehorned in references to Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not a dealbreaker but Loki wishing wistfully for a Cosmic Cube or Bruce Banner quoting his famous “I’m always angry” line just felt like unnecessary fanservice (especially weird given Ewing’s aptitude with “voices” in Mighty Avengers). In any case, Agent of Asgard is off to a fine start and the end of this issue promises some fun problems to come for the Internet’s beloved teenage lord of lies.

Joe Stando is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.58.43 PMSuperior Carnage Annual #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Kim Jacinto & Mike Henderson (pencils and inks) and Jay David Ramos (colors)
Marvel

“We’re gonna paint the whole damn world red!”

I gotta be upfront with you guys: Carnage, as well as Venom and the symbiotes in general, are my guilty pleasure. I attribute a lot of it to growing up in the 90’s with various event comics and the FOX Spider-Man show, but I had symbiote fan characters in every color of the rainbow, and throwing one into an event or a new series is still a good way to win me over if I’m on the fence. Of course, it’s not the 90’s anymore, and five different comics a week about slithery Spider-Man rip-offs isn’t really a viable strategy. That’s why I like the role they’ve given Carnage lately. He pops up in a story arc or a couple issue miniseries every couple of months, and then he’s gone again. You get a taste of him without being oversaturated.

Superior Carnage is a good example of this kind of story. In their last appearance, Cletus Kasady and the Carnage symbiote were forcibly separated and locked up on separate sides of the country. Being incarcerated doesn’t suit either of them very well, and soon enough the symbiote is road-tripping its way back east in the most violent, disgusting way imaginable. Some of the beats here are a little familiar, between the recent Carnage U.S.A. miniseries and that super crazy Venom comic a couple years ago with the nano-robot guy and the extended The Thing homage, but Bunn keeps the story rolling and throws in plenty of engaging little bits. The art fits well too. It’s a little more stylized than the almost photorealistic takes we’ve gotten on other Carnage stuff, which allows them to get dirty and violent without being too gratuitous. There’s plenty of mayhem, but it’s a mostly self-contained story that doesn’t need you to be following every book with a spider on the cover.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 6.00.49 PMWolverine #1
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Ryan Stegman (pencils), Mark Morales (Inks), and Daniel Curiel (colors)
Marvel

“The thing about being mortal is… now you actually have a future. A shape to your life. Tell me you’ve been thinking about that.”

Meet the new Wolverine, same as the old Wolverine. Logan has been stripped of his healing factor, solidly trounced by Sabretooth, and he’s at something of a crossroads in his life. His next move? Get back to his roots by suiting up in some armor and indiscriminately mowing down enemies. Wolverine #1 is a solid opening to a new era, one that combines some interesting new elements with the basic Wolverine formula. Cornell has surrounded him with the sort of vaguely interesting cannon fodder new characters you expect Wolverine to hang out with, and while most of the issue is busting skulls, there’s the promise of some interesting character shifts and upcoming conflicts. Yes, fanboys, Wolverine does indeed use a gun, but since this guy is somehow both a feral killing machine and an honorable samurai, I think there’s room in the characterization to justify it.

The art team deserves a special round of applause on this issue, too. Stegman’s pencils and Morales’ inks are reminiscent of Salvador Larocca and Humberto Ramos in the best way, bringing that distinctly Marvel level of exaggeration and energy. There are a couple pretty good pacing tricks with the panels, especially towards the end, and the whole issue has the sense of motion and action Wolverine deserves.

One thing I’d like to see a little more of is introspection, especially in terms of Wolverine’s now-limited future and his role as a teacher. It’s hinted at a little here, but not explored very thoroughly. Still, for a first issue, it’s a pretty engaging read, and hopefully will only improve going forward.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 11.01.39 PMMighty Avengers #6
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Valerio Schiti (pencils) and Frank D’Armata (colors)
Marvel

“People know what I stand for. They know I’m here to help, no matter what it costs me. No matter who’s standing there telling me ‘no.’”

Mighty Avengers just keeps getting better. It’s a testament to the series that this issue, which is mainly downtime after last month, was still probably the best book to come out this week. Ewing juggles the increasingly large cast well, and presents the characters’ unique voices and interactions in a funny, upbeat, but still honest and real way. It feels like a Heroes for Hire book, but also an Avengers book, and something new too. Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the rest of the stars are fun, flawed and legitimately inspiring. It’s exactly the cure for all the Mark Millar-y cynicism and violence that seems to be plaguing mainstream superhero comics.

And good news! If you’ve been holding off on the book because of Greg Land’s art, he’s gone! In his place is Valerio Schiti, who brings the subtlety and emotion this book deserves. It’s a breath of fresh air, especially considering most of the issue is spent in civilian clothes and close-ups. Art issues were the one thing keeping me from recommending the series as Marvel’s must-buy ongoing.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

Post By Max Robinson (106 Posts)

Deadshirt staff writer. Conceived by the unholy union of Zeus (in the guise of a corn dog) and ED-209. Has written for City Paper, Courthouse News. Twitter famous.

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