Writers: M. Bennett & G. Willow Wilson/ Artist: J. Molina/ Main Cover: J. Cheung/ Marvel
A-Force was announced to lots of buzz earlier this year. With Marguerite Bennett (Earth 2, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin) and G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) as the writers, words like “feminist paradise” were tossed around. Now the comic is out: Does it live up to the hype?
Well, it’ll take more than one issue to decide that, but it is off to a promising start. Set on Doom’s Battleworld of Secret Wars, a group of women superheroes have been charged as protectors of the island of Arcadia under the leadership of Baroness She-Hulk. Doom the All-Powerful doesn’t often interfere. The residents have it pretty good.
The superheroes on watch include not only She-Hulk, but also Captain America, Spider-Woman, Medusa, and Dazzler with a bunch of other women standing around in the background without speaking roles (Storm, Wasp, Rogue). Some of them will probably wander across the stage, but we’re told that a core A-Force will gel in future issues. The monster of the month that our heroes defend the populace against is a witty riff that had me smiling at every turn. I won’t spoil the fun, but our women handle the monster mightily, with Dazzler playing a key role (I bet you never thought someone would say that).
The light tone is carried throughout the issue. Wilson and Bennett are clearly playing with language and stereotypes without resorting to “let’s just change all the men to women and call it a day.” This is a comic that’s going to play with your expectations and have you enjoy it along the way. It introduces and updates a number of female superheroes from across the Marvel range, including “younger” heros like Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm) and America Chavez (Ms. America). And did I mention Sam Wilson as one of the Thors? Oh yeah.
The only criticism I would level at this point is that the only reason I have any idea what’s going on in this comic is because I’m reading Secret Wars. (Aren’t you?) As is usual with cross-over events of this kind, reading the core comic is almost mandatory to really get the whole story. Luckily Secret Wars is pretty good, and damn lovely to look at, so it isn’t that much of a stretch.
I’ll close with my favorite panel. It is so perfect in the emotion it expresses.
The art from Jorge Molina is top notch. The colors pop like an old-school cartoon.
“Feminist paradise?” Not yet. But it sure is pretty and witty, and that’s cool and feminist enough.