I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. Like many of you, I’m not a huge fan of too much mental downtime, and as this whole COVID-19 thing has stretched into its fourth month, I’ve felt an increasing need to fill some of the empty spots between my ears. I’ve done so, at least in part, my giving myself little challenges that feel productive, if only to me. I’ve improved my bread baking skills. I’ve taken on knitting projects for which I had to learn new stitches. I made taiyaki for the first time. I wrote and submitted a horror novella.
Some of these challenges have gone well. Some have been less successful (why does this lace pattern scarf suddenly have 107 stitches? I don’t…damn it). As I was contemplating the sum total the other day, however, I realized I hadn’t yet done any sort of comics challenge.
And thus Comics A–Z was born.
We’ve finished up our first challenge: pairing comics/graphic novels. This week, we’re tackling part two of challenge number two: a hero for every letter of the alphabet.
Remember, I’m attempting to use naming conventions from the country of origin (Japanese heroes, for example, will be listed first name, surname as the surname is given precedence where as American/European heroes will be listen surname, first name). I’m also going to do my best not to use two heroes from the same series unless I’m really stuck.
K: King, Freddie
Design major Freddie is sure she’s finally landed her first big job remodeling gig: her friend Dave’s cafe. After all, he has just returned from a year’s magical walkabout in Ensenia Solari. At his welcome home party, however, Freddie and two of her friends are sucked through a portal, infused with mystic powers, and find themselves in possession of sacred weapons that don’t actually belong to them. They have no choice but to take up the weapon’s quest though, confused, unprepared, and with the weapon’s rightful owners on their trails. So much ensuing. So much mayhem. Delightful, queer, diverse mayhem.
(The Substitutes by Myisha Haynes)
L: Leiburne-Thornton, Na’ya
Na’ya and her cousin Ailis get to go to school at night. Magic school, of course. The other students are vampires, shifters, and weirns and their classrooms crystal caves, swamps, and dragon racecourses. Sweet, right? Sweet. But when Na’ya’s little brother D’nesh goes missing in the Silent Woods, about which creepy stories and maybe not-so-tall tales abound, Na’y, Ailis, and their friends have to confront their fears, and the very real specters of the past, to save him.
(The Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova)
M: Maou, Sadaou
Okay, so technically he’s the devil, but some time on Earth has been good for Maou-San. He’s learned how to live within his means, how to get along with his nemesis, how to…make up for his past…okay, he hasn’t learned any of those things. But he has learned how to earn a living as a part-timer at the local branch of MgRonald, a fast food franchise near the crappy Tokyo apartment he shares with his one-time general, Ashiya (apparently, cosmic powers really like Tokyo) while they try to find a way to reinstate his Maou’s powers and his former status. The plot thickens when a modern version of the human hero who sent Satan and Ashiya running for cover tracks them down in Japan.
(The Devil is a Part Timer by Satoshi Wagahara and Oniku)
I will never miss a chance to remind the world that Namor was King of Atlantis before Aquaman (first appearances 1939 vs.1941). Namor also wins the dubious honor of being by far the bigger douchebag, having tried to eliminate surface dwellers on multiple occasions including the time he tried to drown the entire nation of Wakanda, but in fairness I think we can all agree we have it coming. He’s also been an Avenger, though, so…depends on his mood on a given day, I guess. My favorite Namor stories are the ones where he tries to seduce Sue Storm away from Reed Richards because, Poseidon knows, she deserves a guy who treats her like, oh, I don’t know, a person instead of a science experiment with a hairdo. Additionally, Namor is a much snappier dresser (and I’m not only talking about the scaly speedo) and has better hair.
O: Orrelios, Garazeb
He’s big, he’s purple, he’s grumpy, and also he’s delightful. I love the whole Ghost family, but bo-rifle to head, if I had to pick out someone to hang out at the canteen with, I’d probably choose Zeb. Over the course of his time as a rebel, he went from believing he needed to be redeemed to allowing for the redemption of a man who participated in the massacre of the Lasat, from seeking revenge to seeking a new future. If only all of us could grow so much in such a short span of time.
About halfway through this run of Comics A–Z! Any ideas for where we should go next? Drop ’em in the Book Riot Twitter (@BookRiot).