Ms. Marvel #34
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nico Leon
More people are reading comic books every day, and it’s books like Ms. Marvel that get new readers young and old in the door. Some basement dwellers continue to decry the alleged downside of the trend towards inclusivity (aka; reflecting the real world) in comics, but G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel is one of the stand-outs in Marvel’s more youthful roster. If fostering diverse voices in comics were such a terrible, world-ending calamity as fanboys would have you believe, books like Ms. Marvel wouldn’t be so good. Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, a Terrigen-powered teen with polymorphic abilities is part of a new generation of heroes that helps ground the Marvel Universe while providing ample humor.
One of the more entertaining trends in Marvel has been the use of D-list villains and embracing some of their sillier Silver Age trappings. Gwenpool did it MODOK, and Ms. Marvel is doing it with her apparent new arch nemesis, Shocker, quilted costume and all. The struggle is complicated by Khan’s currently (and hilariously) rebelling powers. Nico Leon’s illustration is reminiscent of television’s The Legend of Korra, with similar anime inflections employed to full dramatic and comedic effect. Paired with Wilson’s writing, this is a comic filled with great panel work, amazing sight gags (the Rube Goldberg-esque ‘lair’ of Shocker in #33 is immaculately executed), and plot arcs that are incredibly poignant at times. Ms. Marvel teaches that bravery is in us all, from struggling teens to misanthropic adults, costumed or no.
Cemetery Beach #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Jason Howard
For fans of alt-history intrigue in the vein of Thomas Pynchon, Warren Ellis’ Cemetery Beach has your number. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a secret military-industrial cabal figured out space exploration in the 1920s and secretly colonized a planet, this book aims to answer all of your burning questions. Equal parts post-steampunk and 1984, Cemetery Beach, illustrated by Jason Howard, paints a bleak, mysterious world, ruled by a mysterious fat bald man with literary pretensions. By way of a prisoner interrogation we get a tantalizing slice of exposition as far as the powers at play and the gap in technology, and after a prison break, we find our hero knows very little more about the target of his intelligence-gathering mission.
Howard’s illustration is gripping with a heavy and almost improvisational style, which makes some of the more action-driven panels a pleasure to soak in. For as many flavors of dystopia Image greenlights, they continue to deliver readers visions of a fractured future. Ellis, of course, comes with a hefty pedigree, having penned Transmetropolitan, among many, many other arcs and books. Cemetery Beach has already shown some fangs, gotten weird and asked some very big questions. Whatever brave new world Ellis is exploring, it’s an expedition worth joining.
Writer: Joe Casey
Artists: Ian McEwan
Kicking off with a very smart allusion to 1979’s The Warriors, MCMLXXV (1975) is running on all cylinders. Pamela Evans is a smooth-talking cabbie being pursued by mystical forces, and her method of dealing with said forces involves her cab and a supernaturally-charged tire iron. If the otherworldly wasn’t menace enough, it’s New York in 1975, the city that invented metropolitan menace. While the scourges of society definitely give the hordes of hell a run for their money at times, John Casey’s MCMLXXV makes it clear that the fiery forces from below are the star attraction in Evans’ tale.
Casey gives us a heady mix of Constantine and Blaxploitation, backed up by Ian McEwan’s retro-tinged illustration. There are some amazing panels and a lot of visual surprises. The book is not without its humor, from snappy dialogue to gun-toting little old ladies. The first issue hints at Evans’ upbringing, with some striking allusions to Daredevil, least of all being the red-clad ninjas in the first few pages. Casey’s written for a lot of different books under a lot of different publishers, as well as writing for television, so it’s little surprising this delightful book is pulling from so many corners of pop-culture.