Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's On My Pull List? (Storm, Elektra, Lazarus, and More!)

A page from Elektra.
Hello all! A few months ago, I gave you guys a peek at what's on my pull list, as in, what comics I pre-order at my local comic book shop. Pre-ordering is a great way to vote (monetarily) for the projects and stories that you think should stick around, and it's a handy way of helping your local geek scene become just a scooch more diverse and awesome. I have a personal policy of primarily subscribing to female-lead or female-centric projects, but there are a couple dudes who've snuck their way in.

Anyway, I thought it might be time to update this list, since in the past couple of months, I've been pleased to see a whole bunch of new awesome titles coming out, ones with ladies kicking ass and taking names, and I figure it's worth letting you know what all I've added to my list since last time. 

[For the record, in case you didn't click that link above, I've already mentioned that I have Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Lumberjanes, and the Wonder Woman and Saga trades on my list.]

1. Storm (Marvel)

I was kind of surprised to know this, but the 2014 Storm comic is the first time that Storm, inarguably the most recognizable member of the X-Men next to Wolverine, got a stand-alone comic. That's weird that it took that long, and it's kind of insulting when you think about how she is hands down one of the most popular comic book characters in the world. But whatever. She has one now, and it's pretty darn good!

Storm as a character (real name Ororo Munroe) has always fascinated me, so I'm digging the way that this new comic examines her view of herself. In her life she has been revered as a goddess, lived as a thief on the streets of Cairo, been a superhero, married a king, and now is the headmistress of a school for mutants. She's had an interesting life is what I'm saying. The comic seeks to explore that life, but also to examine who Storm really is when she's by herself. So much of her life has involved other people trying to define her, but who does she says she is?

Identity is always an important issue, but it's especially compelling to see it examined through this lens. Ororo is an African woman, a superhero, an immigrant, and a mutant - she's got a lot of identities to choose from, but she also has a lot of experience with negative labeling. So I like that this seems to be the tack of the new comic, and I'm mostly just thrilled that we get a new comic at all!

2. Elektra (Marvel)

While I do have friends who swear up and down by Elektra, she's never really been one of my favorites. Still, this current run of her story (part of the Marvel NOW series) is really interesting. Artistically it's amazing, with swirling, dream-like paintings on every page, and covers that are just breath-taking. Story-wise, I feel like I'm probably missing something because her backstory isn't one I know as well, but it's still pretty interesting.

It's weird to read a book that is a superhero title but still feels like a fever dream, all blended visuals and cryptic dialogue. Elektra is trying to atone for the sins of her past, but she's afraid she never can. Also, she is still an assassin, and while she doesn't want to kill any bad guys, that doesn't mean she's above killing killers. This makes her a very interesting and perplexing character, which I do enjoy.

Overall, though, I don't feel like I'm super into this story. I don't know. I'm definitely still reading it, but I feel like something is missing, some vital key to my falling head over face in love with this story. I do really like the villain, Bloody Lips, but it's only recently that he's taken center stage enough to pose a serious threat. And while I understand that this book as well is dealing with issues of identity - does who we were define who we will be - I don't think it's fully baked yet. Still, I am reading it.

3. Bee and Puppycat (Boom!Studios)

Okay, to be fair, this one is pretty much just pure adorable crack. Bee and Puppycat is a story you might know from the kickstarter a little while back, and right now they're doing a limited run of comics through Boom!Studios. The comics are cute if episodic, and the whole thing is pretty much on the level of nice thing that you read in order to cleanse you palate after something intense.

Not that there's no place for that in my comics list. Obviously there is. And I appreciate the idea of supporting comics that anyone can read, that are appropriate and entertaining for all ages. Bee and Puppycat are temp workers for the world's weirdest temp agency, taking jobs that sometimes require them to fix a music box hidden in a house full of music boxes, and sometimes taking them to far off lands while still in their pajamas. 

If you like Adventure Time or Bravest Warriors, then you'll probably like Bee and Puppycat. Which is by no means an insult. I really love a little adorable crack in my day. It really helps get your brain ready to read about some angsty superheroes some more.

4. Rat Queens (Image)

I love this comic because it makes me laugh. Nothing really more complex than that. Rat Queens is a bawdy, crass, hilarious comic about a team of female adventurers living in the Discworld-esque town of Pallisade, and fighting against monstrous evil, as well as the bureaucratic system that keeps trying to kick them out of town. It's a bit silly, and entirely bizarre, and it makes me happy on a deep and meaningful level.

I think part of the reason I appreciate this comic so much is because it directly relates to my experiences as a female geek. It satisfies a craving I didn't even knew I had. See, when I started playing D&D, it was in a group with only one other girl, and while I have since played in more diverse groups, D&D always stuck in my head as a "guy's game". That in order to play it and feel like I was playing it in a fun way, I had to act like the guys, play like the guys, sometimes even play a guy. I had this weird idea, because it took a long time for me to figure out otherwise, that in order to have fun playing Dungeons and Dragons, I had to remove all my femininity for a couple of hours. If I didn't, I'd be a killjoy or a boring person or whatever.

Not true. And I really enjoy reading a comic that reminds me of why I fell in love with Dungeons and Dragons in the first place, but that also recognizes the place for femininity even in a bawdy role-playing game.

5. Lazarus (Image)

If you want to be technical, I don't actually pre-order the issues of this one. Instead I have a standing pre-order of the trade paperback, because I got into a little late, and I have a weird thing about having something in partially issues and partially trade paperbacks, I know it's dumb but it booooothers me.

Anyway. Lazarus is the kind of comic that takes a while to sink in. I'm still not sure if I actually like it or not, but that doesn't really matter. I'm invested. The story takes place in an apocalyptic future of the United States (and the world, I assume, but we've mostly just seen the Western US) where people are segregated into a strict feudal system. Everyone is divided into families. The families rule huge swaths of the country, get the best of the best food and education and living situations - effectively acting as a mix between the nobility and the heads of a corporation.

Everyone else is either a serf (as in someone who can offer a valuable skill or service to the family and therefore is cared for financially and medically), or waste. If you're waste, then you have nothing.

The whole book examines the class issues innate in a system like this, as well as the complex stories of the characters who have to live in this society. Our main character is Forever Carlyle, the "Lazarus" of the Carlyle Family. She's genetically engineered and made into a bio-weapon to be the family's enforcer, as well as their human shield. Forever's an interesting character, though I'm actually more intrigued by the other characters, the ones lower on society's totem pole. Still, awesome story.

- This is only part of the list. The rest will be coming to you next week! -


I think it's worth noting here how many of the comics I pre-order are Marvel titles. That's not an accident or a quirk of fate or anything. It so happens that Marvel is the company currently publishing the kind of stories that I like. Stories about women and people of color who manage to be heroic even without billion dollar trust funds or phenomenal cosmic powers. When it comes to superpowers, I'm much more interested in the idea of identity and what it means to be a hero in our world than I am in looking at cool stories about gadgets or superpowers or apocalyptic crossover events.

I mean, there's a reason why my favorite superheroes are Wonder Woman and Captain America, two squeaky clean scouts who just want people to have compassion for each other and really think about their actions. 

And when it comes to non-superhero titles, I tend to gravitate towards stories that are a bit more unusual and surprising, which I guess happen to be mostly what Image publishes. Not sure how they got the mass market share on crazy, but I'm not going to argue.

The real lesson here is that I love diverse comics. Not just because I have all these philosophical reasons for loving them or because I only support things I can ideologically agree with (even I'm not that good), but because I think diverse comics make for better stories. We can explore the world so much more fully, and tell so many more interesting stories when we're not bound to a single white, middle-class, male view of society. Diversity is good. It makes life and comics better.

Fionna and Cake also make life and comics better.

5 comments:

  1. What about Batgirl and Catwoman? Their titles have been a bit lackluster, to put it mildly, since the New 52, but I hear that they're both getting new creative teams in couple months.

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    1. I've already pre-ordered the new Batgirl. As for Catwoman, I've never been particularly interested in her as a character, so unless the new run starts getting phenomenal, world-changing reviews from a bunch of people I trust, I'm just not apt to pick it up. Just not my thing.

      Batgirl, the new Thor, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, and Spiderwoman are all new titles that have yet to come out but for which I am tentatively excited.

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  2. wow you read a lot!!!! I've always been a deadpool girl myself (which is great would totally recommend if you're looking for a way in try deadpool annual 2 very funny he has to pretend to be spiderman, fight a giant mouse made of snake people) the Elektra art reminds me an awful lot of the White Tiger run from a while ago.

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    1. I loved the Deadpool Annual! It was awesome. I really appreciate the one-sided Deadpool/Spiderman bromance. Good stuff.

      I have to admit that I'm not familiar with White Tiger. What is it?

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    2. well technically deadpool really is in love with him its not just another bromance . deadpool just hanging around with him no matter what way platonically or not. its in the other comics its kinda sweet.
      white tiger was 1 2006 run of six issues written by tamora pierce featuring a female vigilante
      fighting crime. hard to explain i haven't read it in a while well worth seeking out though

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