Comics/Graphic Novels

Marvel NOW is Rocking Diversity

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When Marvel Comics announced that October would bring us a new run of Thor, featuring a woman warrior wielding Mjolnir, the comic-reading world erupted.  The greatest thing about Marvel’s press release for it is what writer Jason Aaron had to say:

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m a pretty recent engager of comics.  When the first movie trailer for Iron Man came out in late 2007, I was vaguely aware that it was based on a comic book character. I know a lot of people who, like me, were turned onto comics by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But when Marvel decided to revamp its universe with Marvel NOW, they opened us to a whole new world of diverse characters spearheaded by some awesome writers.

This new Thor is not the first woman warrior to receive the powers of the preceding male hero of the same name.  Marvel NOW’s Carol Danvers, born a non-mutant human woman who loves to fly airplanes, receives her powers from a Kree warrior and takes up the mantle of Captain Marvel.  You can read about her in the Captain Marvel story arc, which are pulled together in the trades In Pursuit of Flight, Down, and the Avengers Assemble crossover The Enemy Within.  She also makes an appearance in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Science Bros, which is seriously one of the most hilarious–and then very suddenly…not hilarious at all–comic arcs I have read.  It also includes some great scenes featuring Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman.

Carol Danvers inspires lots of people in New York and across the world.  This includes a young South Asian girl living in New Jersey.  I am so behind on Ms. Marvel it isn’t even funny, but the little I’ve read featuring Kamala Khan indicates that she’s going to be one of the brightest lights of Marvel NOW in the near future.

And then, of course there’s THIS:

Illustration of new Captain America, Sam Wilson

Sam Wilson, Captain America

There was an article last week about whether Anthony Mackie might be taking over the role of Captain America in the MCU after Steve Rogers steps down.  There was pushback from all sides–the movie-only fans aren’t ready to see good old Steve go (even though Chris Evans’ contract is only for a couple more movies); the comic purists are anxious for Bucky-Cap to happen.  But there were plenty of people who were ready, waiting with bated breath.

I guess Marvel Comics scooped MCU again, because, in the second big TV announcement in a week, it was announced that Falcon would be the next Captain America!  This is huge, wonderful and awesome.  I might not even wait for the trade for this one.

Finally, there’s the work the Marvel writers have done to bring in a new fold of comics readers, which started out with Hawkeye, and moved over into Young Avengers.

Clint Barton, Hawkeye, starts out having a pretty rough day.  The Hawkeye run, featuring Clint, a dog, some track suits, and lots of purple, also features Kate Bishop, the younger Hawkeye and leader of the Young Avengers.  (I will interject, Kate Bishop is not new to Marvel NOW.  But my encounters with her in the few earlier arcs I’ve read have not been nearly as interesting as Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen have made her.)  What makes Hawkeye so interesting is not just the art, but also the fact that it features non-superhero days.  There’s definitely some things that the Hawkguys get into, but they don’t end up surfing dimensions and battling Big Evils like Kate finds herself doing in Young Avengers.

Which brings us to the opening scene of the first Young Avengers in the Marvel NOW universe.  This particular scene has brought some pushback by more…conservative readers who are offended by young Kate waking up in someone else’s bed. How someone can be in an uproar over that when the remainder of the story is about several teenagers trying not to be killed is beyond me, but to each his own, right?

Young Avengers is by far the most diverse of the Marvel NOW collectives.  We’ve got the fearless leader, Hawkeye the Younger–a girl.  Miss America, who has powers similar to our favorite Captain–from another dimension, and also a girl.  She is also a representative of the fastest growing ethnic minority in this country!  Then we’ve got Wiccan and Hulking, the most adorable and heartbreaking boys in the Marvel Universe.  Oh, and how can we forget Kid Loki, brother of Thor and accidental diminutive of himself, who can’t really figure out if he’s good or bad.  They pick up and drop off others along the way, and just take us for a rollicking good time across the world and the whole multiverse.


So, I am not completely satisfied with my limited view of either the Marvel Comics Universe itself (I’ve already got a couple friends who are not satisfied with the fact that I really like Civil War) or comics in general.  I will be the first to admit that I’ve read maybe…five DC comics and none of them have been in the New 52.  I want to; I really do.  I am not putting down DC’s awesome leaps with Wonder Woman (she blinded herself to stop a villain. Blinded herself.) or Super-Girl or Batgirl or marriage equality.

But in my ever expanding purview, Marvel NOW wins all the things for me, and I’m going to try to keep up as much as possible.