There just has to be a better way to do this every month. Not only is seeing previews for comics three months ahead of time a little tricky to keep up with and stay hyped for (kind of like finding out your Christmas presents on Halloween and remembering to act surprised on Dec. 25), but it’s also weird in a numbering sense. I know I’ve talked about this before, but Marvel’s Tom Brevoort has been handling some questions on how new NOW! is when there’s a bunch of No. 1 issues on the horizon. Some, like the new Wolverine #1 debuting in February, aren’t even new; the title will continue with its current writer and follow up on the current storyline. When you remember that comics are internally dated months ahead of the date they actually hit the stands, it’s amazing we ever know what is going on in comics.
But back to the numbering issue: Brevoort has talked about this on his Formspring-turned Tumblr account thusly:
Marvel’s announcement last week that a Muslim teenager living in New Jersey will star in the new Ms. Marvel series is an exciting step forward in diversifying superhero comics. And even better is the involvement of writer G. Willow Wilson and editor Sana Amanat, both Muslims, which should bring an authentic voice to the title.
The move is already garnering a lot of media attention, and I expect it will pique the curiosity of a number of people who never really expected a mainstream comic book to tell a story so closely connected to their own. This isn’t the first comic book to do something like this, but it’s remarkably significant.
I’m looking forward to Ms. Marvel, and I really hope the comic finds an audience (I’m also thrilled to see artist Adrian Alphona back on an ongoing series). But there’s no doubting this title is an underdog. Marvel often struggles with keeping solo series starring women; just ask fans of She-Hulk, or Rogue, or Carol Danvers. Poor Storm can’t even get more than a miniseries every 10 years or so. DC may be able to boast Wonder Woman and a number of female-starring Batman spinoffs, but both publishers have had limited success sustaining books that star minority characters. From Black Panther to War Machine to Steel to the current Batwing, there have been valiant efforts that ultimately get canceled. And I’m hard-pressed to think of a significant Marvel or DC book starring a character whose religion was such a strong crux of the premise.
It’s little surprise that the editorial board of the conservative Washington Times didn’t embrace the announcement that the new Ms. Marvel is a 16-year-old Muslim from New Jersey, but the newspaper’s actual response is a bit … bewildering. One might even describe it as eerie.
Beginning a Sunday editorial with a declaration that “diversity and quotas are more important than dispatching evil” — because, as we all know, heroes can’t be diverse and fight villains! — the writer engages in a little concern trolling, warning that Ms. Marvel, and by extension Marvel, will have to be careful not to anger “militant Islam” if there’s any hope for newsstand sales in Muslim nations. Of course we’re told in the very next paragraph that, “Ms. Marvel probably won’t appear in comic books in Saudi Arabia, anyway,” which apparently takes care of that problem.
Once we slog through the bumbling writing and odd aside involving Secretary of State Kerry, however, we arrive at the crux of the Washington Times’ argument, such as it is: that diversity is strange and frightening.
Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese studio that brought us offbeat animated explanations of Miles Morales, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the superhero brawl on Hollywood Boulevard, again turns its lens on comic books with a particularly biting report on this week’s announcement that the new Ms. Marvel will be a Muslim teenager from New Jersey.
“Perhaps fueled by dropping readership,” the narrator states, “Marvel Comics is really grasping at straws in a bid to find new audiences to buy its outdated printed comics. Marvel’s latest attempt at relevance is Kamala Khan, a teenaged Muslim polymorphing superhero from New Jersey. She will use her gigantic hands and feet to slap and stomp her way through the pitfalls of teenage Muslim girlhood … or something.”
Watch the video below. Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, debuts in February.
As noticed by CBR Senior Editor Stephen Gerding, the first cover to the freshly announced new Ms. Marvel series, illustrated by Sara Pichelli, appears to be an homage to Gary Frank’s cover to debut issue of another comic starring a teenage girl hero, 1996′s Supergirl #1 — from the angle to the blank background to the juxtaposition of casual wear with superhero iconography.
That volume of Supergirl lasted 80 issues, so it could be a good portent for the Ms. Marvel book, which features a Muslim teenager named Kamala Khan stepping into the title role, in a series written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona.
Conventions | Phoenix Comicon kicks off today, drawing an anticipated 35,000 to 40,000 attendees to the Phoenix (Arizona) Convention Center. Comics guests include Brett Booth, Jim Cheung, Garth Ennis, David Finch, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Andy Kuhn, Francis Manapul, David Lapham, Bob Layton, Dan Parent, George Perez, Billy Tucci and Ethan Van Sciver. [Modern Times Magazine, Fox 10 News]
Publishing | What does it mean to be an imprint of a larger publisher? For those who are interested in how the sausages are made, Gina Gagliano explains the relationship between First Second Books and parent company Macmillan. [First Second Books]
The second day of WonderCon in Anaheim, California, featured announcements ranging from Marvel’s new Captain Marvel series to Dark Horse’s new motion-comics venture to IDW Publishing’s Womanthology miniseries:
• In his “Talk to the Hat” panel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed that Carol Danvers, long known as Ms. Marvel, will become Captain Marvel in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy. He also announced that, spinning out of his Astonishing X-Men run, Greg Pak will team with Stephen Segovia for X-Treme X-Men, which includes Dazzler in its lineup. “You have no idea how hard I’ve fallen for this woman,” Pak told Newsarama. “She’s so much fun to write — she’s funny and real and wry; she’s a survivor who’s seen it all and lived to tell the tale; and she will save your life with rock and roll.”
• Dark Horse will bring motion comics featuring such characters as Hellboy, Conan, Usagi Yojimbo and the Umbrella Academy to Felicia Day’s new YouTube Channel Geek & Sundry, beginning April 2.
• IDW Publishing will follow Womanthology: Heroic, the Kickstarter-funded graphic novel anthology showcase for female creators, with a five-issue miniseries titled Womanthology: Space.
Carol Danvers has gone by Binary, Warbird and of course Ms. Marvel, but later this year she’ll be promoted to Captain Marvel in a new series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy.
Marvel Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort revealed what those teasers were about during his Talk to the Hat panel at WonderCon today. Brevoort said the series spins out of this year’s big Avengers vs. X-Men event. Click over to CBR to see some pages from the new book.
Creators | Dan Parent discusses an upcoming Archie storyline that will bring Valerie Brown from Josie and the Pussycats to Riverdale, causing sparks to once again fly: “The fans can expect the next step in what I think is the most romantic story in Archie history. The chemistry between Archie and Valerie was hot the first time they got together, and now you’ve really got to see it simmer, all the way from the rekindling of their romance to getting much more serious than we’ve seen before.” [USA Today]
Editorial cartoons | Cartoonist Jeff Stahler has resigned from The Columbus Dispatch following accusations that he lifted ideas from other cartoons, including one that ran in The New Yorker. [Poynter]
Casting an eye over the expanse of superhero comics, you’ll find yourself looking at a number of heroes so popular that they’ve spawned spin-off characters that are either younger, pluckier or, more often than not, of the opposite sex. From DC’s Supergirl (tied to Superman) to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel (connected to Captain Marvel), this has been a trend going on longer than most of us have been around. But in this world of male heroes sharing their costume designs with women, I’ve always wondered why there isn’t much going the opposite way: heroes who base their costumes and names on heroines.
One of the key reasons is that by sheer number there are far more popular male superhero characters than female characters. By my unscientific estimation, the only female superheroes the general public could name would be Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Invisible Woman, Catwoman, Jean Grey and Storm. Compare that to the male heroes most people know, and you’ll get the picture. But even then, where are the male counterparts to those female heroes I mentioned?
The closest thing we have to that is DC’s Catman, the lone example of an in-continuity character borrowing his style from a female character — Catwoman. There’s also the rare alternative universe where all genders are switched, such as Earth-11 as seen in Teen Titans Spotlight #11, or other unique circumstances.
I’m not saying DC should bring back Wonder Man (or Captain Wonder) as a counterpart to Wonder Woman in the New 52, but she does have a pair of star-spangled pants she’s not using.
Oh man, I have never been so glad I do this on Friday. Hopefully, Dear Reader, we’re far enough from Monday and the hyperventilating, bad joke-cracking, internet outrage over the Big Announcement has passed the majority of us by. Either you’ve read or listened a little more to those on the inside, fears, doubts and flailing have been soothed or at least put to bed for now as the fallout of this 4 billion dollar purchase of the House of Ideas is going to take years to have any sort of crazy effect on the brand we love.
Then again, some fans may still be unsoothed and are continuing to photoshop Mickey’s head on Marvelman in milking out that one last drop of sneering humor.
We here at the Fifth Color have decided to eschew all ribbing and ranting at the House of Mouse… except for one thing.