I admit, A-Force wasn’t on my radar until I got wind of the critical cross-talk regarding the cover. For those of you without the background, Jill Lepore wrote an opinion piece in The New Yorker in part lamenting the “pervy” costumes and stature of the all-female Avengers squad on the cover of the brand-new title. She also complains that they’re all derivative–a female Loki, Pepper Potts in an Iron Man suit, She-Hulk. In response, G. Willow Wilson, co-author of A-Force and also author for the recent run of Ms. Marvel, addressed some of the concerns. With both the argument over the cover and the new fondness for Wilson after devouring the first Ms. Marvel trade paperback, I grabbed the first issue when it hit the shelves. I leave the article links for you, gentle reader, to evaluate on your own.
Marvel’s Mightiest Women finally get their own explosive series! In a secluded corner of the Battleworld, an island nation is fiercely protected by a team of Avengers the likes of which has only ever been glimpsed before… Fighting to protect the small sliver of their world that’s left, the Amazing A-FORCE stands shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to take on the horde!
Writer: Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Jorge Molina
This is the second issue I’ve picked up that falls into Secret Wars. I’m not wild about continuing down that rabbit hole, but I must admit I’m intrigued by this multiverse version of the Avengers that is wholly comprised of women. The cover features an array of these women, some of whom are derived as female versions of their male originals, but many, many others who are unique characters unto themselves but are frequently pushed to the background or fell out of fashion after a particular run of popularity. Dazzler, Storm, Phoenix, Rogue, Jubilee, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Elektra, Medusa. Heck, even the two living female characters from Runaways are here. Good to see you, ladies. Honestly, seeing all of these spectacular women teamed up together on the cover is worth the price of admission.
In Secret Wars, these women are the guardians of an island called Arcadia. It’s their little piece of their alternate Earth that has remained in the fragments-combined Battleworld. She-Hulk is the woman calling the shots from within the Hall of Justice. Sidebar: This is the Marvel universe, but the female protected island of Arcadia reminds me of DC’s paradise island of Themyscira which Wonder Woman called home, and The Hall of Justice is the Justice League of America’s headquarters. Anyway, it brings an interesting new level to a set-up that’s already twisting reader’s previous knowledge of multiple series, not just Avengers, but also Captain Marvel, X-Men, and Thor.
Since this is issue #1, we open with an introduction to some of the major players: She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Sister Grimm, Dazzler, and Ms. America. The first is leading the team, composed of the rest, as they patrol the island. They come under attack from a giant, prehistoric shark, a Megalodon, extinct two million years. Like with the Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps opening, this issue is setting up a mystery for the super women to unearth and the law and will of Doom to violate in an effort to find the truth.
I love the big players of the Marvel universe, but there’s a joy at getting to see Dazzler (donning her rollerskates) and Sister Grimm tear up the skies with Captain Marvel. Further, the scenes of mega-shark fighting action are balanced with familiar, intimate, and emotionally-charged scenes of the women’s relationships playing out. It’s clear that this title is going to nicely balance the character-driven narrative with the women kicking ass.
The art by Molina beautifully depicts Arcadia and its female guardians in a full spectrum of color and a layered effect in the line-work to give depth. Close-ups of the characters are emotionally clear. The action is easy to parse. With so many different characters coming together in this title, the art serves the multiple masters well, showing a flexibility to character and super powers that adapts but also bridges the myriad styles.
I don’t know if A-Force will continue after the summer’s Secret Wars are played out, but I hope so.