I know. It’s not a geeky fashion outfit post but I promise that we’ll get back to those soon. This book was just too good not to write about!
Yesterday saw the start of another Marvel NOW book with the release of New Avengers #1 written by Jonathan Hickman and with pencils by Steve Epting. This was the first book announcement for new Marvel NOW ongoings to really catch my attention several months ago and it’s the book that I have been anxiously awaiting ever since. And boy oh boy did it deliver!
New Avengers reunites the biggest time bomb of a team in recent comic book memory: The Illuminati. No but really: this team is the WORST idea ever. Just ask the Black Panther. He’s objected since the group was first proposed and he still objects even now as he pulls them together. These men are the rich, the geniuses, the powerful, and some of them are even kings. That many egos in a room is bound to backfire spectacularly one day even with Captain America playing referee. This issue shows Iron Man, Captain America, Namor, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Mister Fantastic all arriving in Wakanda and answering T’Challa’s summons. (See what I meant about a lot of egos?)
Hickman uses this first issue to beautifully set up both the book and arc, making it fairly accessible to readers who might be newer to the Illuminati. (If you’re remotely intrigued by the Illuminati, I’d definitely suggest going and checking out the wiki entry just so you have a more completely idea of their history.) At the same time, the issue doesn’t feel like it was a filler introduction but instead tells its own story.
The last six pages of this issue are absolutely stunning and I don’t mean that purely from an artistic standpoint. Everything about them is perfect from the words, to the art, to the lettering. It drives home not just how desperate T’Challa is to save the world but also the caliber of team he’s reuniting. If anything, his invitation to Namor should emphasize the gravity of the situation. “Save me from what we are about to do” reads the final words of this issue. They’re going to save the world but who knows what the consequences might be. In all honesty, buying this issue is worth it even if it’s just so you can read these last six pages. (Yes, they are that perfect.)
What I’m really looking forward to about this book though is the team itself. Throughout Bendis’s run on the the Avengers, I always found myself intrigued by any Illuminati plot line because it’s wonderful watching all them play off each other while trying to save the world. This is really the first time we’ll be seeing them work more as a team instead of a secret society and I think it will be those team dynamics that make this book great. I want to see the friction between T’Challa and Namor. I want to see Tony and Reed play ‘I’m the smartest person in the room’. I want to see how Steve is going to adjust to being a part of this group. I want to see how a team with three kings works. This is a book that is as much about how the team works together as it is about the plot. If I want to read about a team that works well together most of the time then I’ll pick up my X-men or Avengers books. But that’s not this team. Let’s see this team get out there and save the world or possibly destroy it.
In short, the first issue of this book absolutely lived up to my expectations and I cannot wait to see where Jonathan Hickman takes us on this wild ride. Illuminati Assemble!
A certain group of comic book fans have been holding their breath in hope and anticipation since the end of Fear Itself: The Fearless several months ago. Valkyrie was instructed to reform the Valkyrior but with the caveat that she must recruit proven heroes from Midgard. This seemed like the perfect opening for a team filled with kick ass ladies, but nothing ever came of it. Until now. Our prayers were answered! It’s finally happening.
The latest installment for Marvel NOW! in February will be “Fearless Defenders”: a book by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Will Sliney that will feature an all-female team. Pause while both the classy ladies who run this book shriek with glee and run around and jump around screaming like excited five-year-olds. (No seriously: we couldn’t be happier about this book.)
In an interview with Newsarama, Cullen Bunn, one of the writers of the aforementioned The Fearless, revealed some of what readers can expect from this new book. The first piece of news was that the team would include both of the lovely ladies on the cover image, Valkyrie and Misty Knight, and Dani Moonstar. Let’s just start with how positively THRILLING that combination of leading ladies is, especially since New Mutants just wrapped up. Bunn also went on to say that he will build up the team gradually and not just toss them all together for the sake of putting the team together quickly. He didn’t mention any other future members but, well, let me let him tell you in his own words.
I’m not a writer who’s going to sit back and say, “I want to write a good all-female team,” I just want to write a good team, and approach them as real people, and build some personality into some of these characters, and try to develop a fanbase for a lot of these characters who, in some cases, people may not have been exposed to at all yet.
I think there are a lot of great female characters in the Marvel Universe who have not been given the chance they need, because maybe they can’t support a book all on their own, or maybe they’ve been on a team and they’ve been kind of lost in the shuffle for, in some cases, many, many, many years. This is my opportunity to put them all together, and to give them the spotlight.
If those two paragraphs don’t thrill you and reassure you, then I don’t know what else possibly could. Not only is Marvel listening to its readers and responding with another female led book, but it’s also clearly putting it in the hands of someone capable who is also listening and who’s not going to turn it into something ridiculous like that Marvel Divas book from a few years ago.
On top of that, it will be featuring female characters who don’t usually get put front and center. Marvel certainly isn’t lacking for wonderful female characters, but not all of them are nearly as well known as, say, the Black Widow, Rogue, Storm, or Carol Danvers. Characters who might be C or D List are just as valuable and just as wonderful stories can be told about them as can be told about A List characters. It’s all about how the writer chooses to handle them.
Speculation has already begun about who some of these other ladies joining the team might be. Here at WHR, we’re rooting for some of the other former New Mutants (such as Magma), and Misty’s partner-in-crime Colleen Wing to be tapped for the team. Lin has her fingers crossed for Songbird, and I’m still too excited about Dani returning to her Valkyrie roots to even think up any other possible names.
Bunn recognizes that readers have been asking for a stronger female presence and for new stories. To me, this is an incredibly reassuring thing to hear. I feel like he understands what sort of book we’re looking for and he’s going to do his gosh darn best to deliver it.
In closing, let me strongly urge all of you to pre-order this comic from your local comic book store. This has the potential to be fabulous beyond belief and we, as loyal fans, need to show our support starting now and pre-orders are the way to do it. Until then? I’ll be counting down the days til February.