Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 26, 2013

TMoRP Day 22 – Saga by Vaughan and Staples

Okay, Saga.

I’ve been putting this blog post off for days. Partly because I’ve been both busy and exhausted, but mostly because I just don’t know if I can do this thing justice.

Saga is a monthly (-ish) comic from Image Comics by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist). It’s billed as an epic space opera, but the interplanetary conflicts, majestic science-fictional (and science-fantasy) concepts and larger-than-life characters are quite secondary to the romantic relationship drama of the two lead characters, Alana and Marko. She has delicate bat-shaped dragonfly wings and combat boots; he has curly ram horns and a magic sword. They are madly in love and on the run. They come from worlds that have been at war for so long that they now outsource the conflict to vassal states, such as that of one of the more colourful secondary characters, expectant-father Prince Robot IV.

As the series opens, Alana is giving birth to their (impossible) baby, a daughter named Hazel. Hazel narrates the story, presumably from sometime far in the future. Virtually everyone else wants to kill all of them, for defying the war, for engaging in forbidden love (or miscegenation, as most of society would have it) and for giving birth to a child who might possibly represent a path to peace for the galaxy.

There are bounty hunters, ghosts, magic, giant tree-spaceships, people with televisions for heads, trashy romance novels, horror, sex, violence, humour and (in the very first scene) the miracle of birth, complete with swearing and a sword fight.

Saga is a very adults-only book with a wonderfully operatic backdrop for the flight of the lovers – and their pursuit by mercenaries, super-spies, parents-in-law and murderous ex-lovers. Marko and Alana are great characters – brave, devoted and competent but also flawed and capable of exceedingly poor judgment – but the book is elevated by the many fantastic secondary characters, especially the relentless bounty hunter The Will (the profession of bounty hunter appears to confer singular titles, for some reason) and Izabel the dismembered teenaged ghost, who acts as Hazel’s baby-sitter. And Marko’s parents, who are senior figures in the Wreather military establishment. And Lying Cat, The Will’s pet/partner, who is an emaciated hairless cat who can tell when someone is lying. Lying Cat gets all the best lines.

Saga is beautiful. Fiona staples’ art is sumptuous. Just look at this cover:

Breastfeeding mothers are badass

Breastfeeding mothers are badass.

Vaughan has described Saga as being his vehicle for creating concepts that can’t be realised in television or movies, and Staples’ art more than delivers on the often bizarre grandeur and grotesqueness of the setting. A recent issue featured a for-want-of-a-better-term upskirt shot of a deformed giant’s scrotum, which was both a feat of remarkable technical drawing and easily as horrible as it sounds.

Oh, I should mention, there’s a lot of sex in this book. Some of it is just explicit but otherwise ordinary, but some elements like the existence of an underage sex-slave whom The Will attempts to rescue, is confronting and unpleasant and skirts the line into exploitation. It didn’t cross it for me, as the material is presented as objectionable by sympathetic characters and is treated without sentimentality. Your line may be drawn elsewhere. There was also a controvery surrounding the sneak-insertion of a gay porn money shot into a couple of panels in a recent issue. I found that pretty hilarious but again you may not agree.

This is a story about war, about love and about the strength of social and family ties in the face of unimaginable pressure. The dialogue is sharp, the art is breathtaking and the story is so bursting with potential that it could go anywhere. It’s clear (from the name and the setup) that Vaughan and Staples have every intention of making Saga a landmark SF&F epic to equal Star Wars or A Song of Ice and Fire. They might never achieve that lofty ambition, but based on what we’ve seen and the accolades rolling in – several Eisners and a Hugo, not to mention best-sellerdom – they haven’t fallen short yet.

Look, there are already two very reasonably priced trades (Saga Volumes 1 and 2) available, which I recommend without hesitation.

November 21, 2013

TMoRP Day 21 – The Ashes

Filed under: cricket,the month of relentless positivity — Tags: , — lexifab @ 3:28 pm

It’s the afternoon of the first day of the Test summer, with England off to a rollicking start against the local lads at the Gabba. Australia seems determined to make an uphill series of it by charitably collapsing into flaming wreckage at the outset. If this were not the Month of Relentless positivity, I would make some kind of sardonic observation about their starting like they mean to continue.

Instead, I will express the borderline-naive hope that our bowlers will continue their form from the England tour back in July, where they basically scored all the runs after repeated top- and middle-order failures.

But I will keep this short today, because there is cricket to see. And I do love to watch cricket, regardless that my team may be on the receiving end of a series of brutal trouncings. Huzzah!

November 19, 2013

TMoRP Day 20 – Alpocalypse by Weird Al Yankovic

Despite the fact that I can never type his name right on the first attempt, I’m a lifelong fan of Weird Al Yankovic. So’s my buddy Ev (who bought me my first album ‘Weird Al Yankovic in 3D’ for my thirteenth birthday, and thus ruined me for popular music for life). I recently picked up a copy of Al’s thirteeth studio album Alpocalypse for Ev, and, as is our mutual habit, I wrote a track by track review to send along with it.

Now, I have to say this doesn’t really qualify as relentlessly positive, because not every track did much for me. But! My adoration for the works of WAY remain undiminished, despite the passage of decades of fandom (and the awfulness of parts of his mid-nineties output).

Yay for Weird Al! Yay for musicians you like, even if everybody else has formed the (demonstrably false) impression that they are rubbish. (Because hey, Duran Duran put out an album a year or two ago as well, and it was good, dammit!)

(more…)

November 16, 2013

TMoRP Day 19 – Grommets!

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,joey,the month of relentless positivity — Tags: , — lexifab @ 10:30 am

Number One Son, aka Internet-Pseudonym Joey, had day surgery a couple of weeks ago to implant grommets in his inner ear. A followup consultation this week confirmed that the operation was successful. So, that’s good.

His hearing’s always been a bit dodgy. Much of the time he has the usual childhood selective hearing, which is mysteriously deficient when it comes to being asked to pick up toys or stop setting fire to things, but often astonishingly acute whenever ice cream is mentioned. Sometimes though, he misses conversations even when he’s paying attention and/or not speaking at the same time as someone else (which admittedly is not very often. He is an unstoppable chatterbox).

We got worried enough about it to go through several rounds of audiometry testing, which showed that he has a slight hearing deficiency in certain registers. Nothing critical or with high potential to impact his learning capacity, but a little more serious than mere ongoing inconvenience.

His eustachian tubs, which should be dry and full of air to equalise pressure on the middle ear, are a bit on the soggy side. The grommets are basically just a tube to allow the passage of air to ventilate the middle ear, which should reduce fluid buildup and improve his hearing.

Presumably any hearing gains occur over some protracted period of time, because we certainly haven’t observed miraculous improvements in his attentiveness in the past couple of weeks. I theorise that he’s somewhat out of the habit of paying attention though, so patience and retraining are probably in order.

The annoying (i.e. non-positivity-related) element of all this is that for the year that the grommets will remain in place (they fall out of their own accord somewhere between nine and twelve months after emplacement), we need to be careful with swimming. He’s allowed to get water in his ears, so he can continue with his swimming lessons, but he’s not allowed to dive down to below one metre. The water pressure might affect the grommets.

In most kids learning to swim, this would be an intolerable restriction. Who doesn’t want to dive to the bottom and swim around underwater? But in this case it’s a problem for us, not him. He hates submerging his head, let alone duck-diving. If he’s told he has to dive to the bottom, he tends to panic.

So while we were making very slow progress towards getting him comfortable with swimming underwater, now we have to hold him back from that until as late as next summer. Not a big deal, but longer than I’d have hoped to delay his swimming progress. No doubt it’s very selfish of me, but I long for the day when I am able to get into a swimming pool with the kids and not have one or both of them hanging off my shoulders all the time.

Still, the grommets should help the hearing and reduce the risk of ear infections, so yay for modern surgical techniques, eh what?

November 15, 2013

TMoRP Day 18 – The [Spoiler] of the [Spoiler] Mini-Episode

Filed under: geekery,the month of relentless positivity — Tags: , — lexifab @ 12:56 pm

(No Spoilers follow)

In less than 10 days, the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who will be broadcast around the universe (some areas will be on delayed transmission, obviously. Sorry, viewers on Saturn). As is their wont with the massive over-promotion of television events that basically everyone who cares would have watched anyway, the BBC have produced a six-minute mini-episode introducing the main movie-length special.

You can watch it on Youtube here.

WARNING: It spoils the living shit out of a surprise part of the anniversary episode that they managed to keep completely under wraps all year. At least, I wasn’t aware of it and I have been paying at least some attention. I’m guessing that nobody else knew either.

So, if you are cheerfully oblivious about what the anniversary episode is about, or you don’t want to know any more than you already do about what’s going on in the story, maybe just save that link and come back in a couple of weeks.

I couldn’t resist, figuring (correctly) that since a couple of people in my Twitter feed gave it away anyway, I might as well check it out. It is glorious, wonderful geekbait, hearkening back with unabashed love for what’s come before and what comes next. It was penned by Steven Moffat, doing exactly the sort of thing that he does well.

Not that I have much fear of there being a long discussion thread about this, but please don’t spoil either the mini-episode or the details of the anniversary in the comments. Save it for the day of broadcast (Sunday 24th) when I will for once know precisely what the topic of my TMoRP post will be.

November 13, 2013

TMoRP Day 17 – Short stories of April

This is not going to be easy to pin down. According to my spreadsheet, I read 98 short stories in April 2013.

Ninety. Eight.

There would be very few times in my life when I would have read more short stories than that in a year, let alone in one month. In terms of the short fiction form, I guess this is my golden age. That’s almost entirely down to having ready access to a wealth of anthologies through the Kindle, although I’ve supplemented my library by picking up a lot of collecvtions by Australian writers in particular.

Anyway, this month the bulk of my reading came from four main sources:

  • Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (specifically issue 56) – a mildly quirky Australian quarterly magazine of science fiction and fantasy short stories. I like it a lot, although the fondness with which I respond to it varies from issue to issue, probably according to which member of its shadowy collective/cabal is sitting in the editorial big chair that month. Your mileage will likely vary.
  • Daily Science Fiction – a site that emails subscribers a new science fiction or (more often) fantasy short story every day. many of these are flash-fiction lengths i.e. around 1000 words. I recommend it, because despite the fact that I only think about half the stories are good (and very few are great), it’s a steady source of new material, and it doesn’t take much time to read them. The stories almost never exceed 4000 words.
  • Thoraiya Dyer’s Twelve Planets collection Asymmetry, about which I blogged earlier in the year. It’s good.
  • Stoneskin Press’ anthology (edited by Robin D Laws) of Aesopian fables for the modern world The Lion and the Aardvark. I didn’t do a full review, but here’s what I said on Goodreads.

Anyway, with that many stories, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one or two. Here’s the ones I thought stood head and shoulders above the others.

‘Spirit Gum’ by Mike Resnick and Jordan Ellinger in Daily Science Fiction is the story of a stage illusionist who becomes a professional debunker, with tragic consequences.

‘Illegal’ by Pete Aldin and Kevin Ikenberry in ASIM 56, a police procedural, set in the outer solar system, about stateless refugees – three flavours that mash together to moving effect in this case.

‘The Wisdom of Ants’ by Thoraiya Dyer, on the Clarkesworld Podcast. She won the Ditmar for this at this year’s awards ceremony. It’s good, just go and read it. Then feel free to speculate on who genetically engineered the weird-arse metal-eating ants and why anyone would do that.

‘The Blind Pig’ by Lyn Battersby is a creepy fantasy set in a Prohibition-era speakeasy. I wish there were a version of it online, I’d love to chat about that one.

‘After Hours’ by Thoraiya Dyer in Asymmetry. This was the werewolf one. I’m a sucker for werewolf stories. This was an outstanding example of finding something new to do with them.

There’s about sixty stories in The Lion and the Aardvark, most of them of flash-fiction length. I particularly liked: ‘The Loquacious Cadaver’ by Kyla Ward; ‘The Minotaurs and the Signal Ghosts’ by Peter M Ball; ‘The Coyote and the High-Density Feed Lot’ by Greg Stolze (great name for a story!); ‘The Stray Dogs Learn Their Lesson’ by Nick Mamatas; and ‘The Unicorn at the Soiree’ by Rich Dansky. But come on, there’s sixty stories in this volume. There are at least a couple fo dozen more that are almost as good as the ones I mentioned.

The wealth of great new short stories out there is almost too rich to contemplate. This is just a smattering of what apepals to me.

What are you putting through your eye-jellies at the moment? What do you recommend? What will I be reading after I finish reading this unnervingly tall to-be-read pile?

 

November 12, 2013

TMoRP 16 – Hawkguy!

Today I will be gleeking the hell out of a comic. I’m going to be doing a lot of that for this year’s Month of Relentless Positivity, because this seems to be an especially propitious time for good comics. So take that how you will.

Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, aka the guy with the bow and arrow in The Avengers movie. In the comics he’s not a super-cool government assassin working for Nick Fury (and/or Loki). No, in the comics he’s a two-bit criminal carnie with a bow and some trick arrows who FOR SOME REASON THOUGHT HE COULD TAKE ON THE AVENGERS. Give the guy some props for having brass cojones. Anyway, after he does a stretch in prison, he gets out, flies straight and eventually becomes a hero. And the leader of the Avengers. And the leader of the West Coast Avengers. And then he died for a few years until he came back as a mute ninja and – oh shit, I’m doing that thing where I overexplain comics continuity, aren’t I?

(Totally deliberate in that case. I could not possibly resist mentioning the bit about his being dead and then a ninja, because COMICS!)

So, Hawkeye (2012) by Matt Fraction and David Aja (with covers and colours by Matt Hollingsworth and letters by Chris Eliopolous) is a standard Marvel monthly title. [1] Except that it really isn’t like any other superhero book I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s still about Clint ‘Hawkeye’ Barton and his teenaged protege Kate ‘Hawkeye’ Bishop, who are both regular unpowered-but-hypercompetent hero-adventurers. Yes, the superheroics of the greater Marvel Universe do occasionally intrude at the edges.

But Hawkeye – affectionately known as Hawkguy, as pronounced by the writer’s young son – takes its tone cues not from the absurd power fantasies of the superhero genre but from grimy TV crime dramas from the seventies, in particular The Rockford Files. In this series, Clint Barton’s life as an Avenger occurs off-screen. Instead, the story focuses on his after-hours life in a worn-down New York apartment building, hanging with his working-class neighbours, wrangling with some menacing low-rent Russian mafia scumbags in sportswear (the always-fantastic “tracksuit Draculas”) and generally screwing up his love-life and other relationships.

The colours are muted just short of sepia. The covers are stunning works of pop-art design. The vibe is run-down, weathered weariness bordering on the fatalistic. Clint’s in a low place, and despite gangster shenanigans, sexy mayhem and the odd high-speed chase with turbo-charged muscle cars and exploding arrows, he’s getting more down with every passing issue. Kate is a rich girl with a snarky confidence and thrill-seeker’s joie de vivre who can see Clint’s mounting depression sapping the life out of her.

Despite Clint’s world-trammelled, downbeat optimism and Kate’s sometimes biting cynicism, this series is funny. Hilarious, even. Even in the grimmest situations – such as the issue set in the eye of Hurricane Sandy as it beats the hell out of coastal New Jersey – the sparkling sense of fun and glimmers of hope seep through the murk. Matt Fraction, one of my favourite writers at the moment (and rapidly ascending into the pantheons of my all-time favourites) is at his best here, showing a sincerity and humanity that bleeds through every panel.

Not being much of an art afficionado, my initial impression of David Aja’s art was to dislike the scratchy lines. I’m an idiot. Aja does more with the body language and facial expressions in a single panel than most artists manage in a two-page spread with forty superheroes punching each other. Moreover, the composition in this book is amazing. The pacing, from panel to panel, page to page and issue to issue, is so controlled it’s almost impossible to rush through it.

This is a book where you notice the panel layout, because it’s doing as much storytelling as the dialogue and the pictures. I couldn’t tell you the last time I noticed stuff like that while reading a funnybook. And you don’t see it because it’s obtrusive. You admire it because it’s teaching you a language that you probably never paid the slightest attention to before. It calls attention to the fact that it’s something that you can pay attention to. It doesn’t just teach you how to read this book. It skills you up for reading every other comic you will ever lay eyes on.

And hey, there is an issue shown from the point of view of Lucky, the one-eyed stray mutt that only hangs around with Clint because he offered him a slice of pizza, that is basically a one-issue revolution in graphic storytelling. I just don’t have the words for how good that single issue is, and yet it’s not even my favourite in the series. (That might be the one where loonie teenaged gang-boss Madame Masque secretly bankrupts and then befriends Kate Bishop so that she can exact a bitter revenge, or the one where Clint’s exes team up to stage an intervention on him only to decide he’s a shiftless bum who deserves everything he gets).

Look, there are two volumes out so far: “Hawkeye Volume 1: My Life as a Weapon” and “Hawkeye Volume 2: Little Hits”. If not for the fact that I will be recommending several other comics in the course of TMoRP, I would practically insist that anyone with an interest in superheroes, light noir or witty dialogue should immediately cease all delaying activities and get both books.

But also, that would be bullying. And that’s Not Okay.

 

[1] Actually, scratch that. Standard Marvel titles are coming out about once every three weeks these days – presumably so that the trade paperback collections can be assembled and released more frequently – but Hawkeye has a slightly slower turnaround. Let’s describe the release schedule as “at a leisurely pace”.

 

November 11, 2013

TMoRP Day 15 – Sales!

Over the past few days, the family and I did the Canberra Thing of going down to the coast for the weekend. This is a Thing, you understand, that I have done maybe twice in fiften years of living here. It was raining and windy most of the time, which was not so much fun for our two small children, but – really, at the same time the Philippines were being pulverised by a super-typhoon, so I’m not complaining.

I therefore missed three days of posts. This Month of Relentless Positivity is going to elapse across at least two months at this rate. And I’m much too tired to work out whether that was an appropriate sentence structure or not, so sorry to everyone with a vulnerability to toxic grammar. But let’s leave those weakling who rolled up their superhero character with cursed dice and march onward, ever onward!

I returned home to the welcome news that a short story I have submitted to over a dozen markets over the course of the past year has been accepted for publication. (Provisionally. With certain caveats. The whole deal could still fall through if certain conditions wholly beyond my power to influence do not come to pass).

Better still, the market pays professional rates. (If all goes well).

I am (cautiously) over the moon with this news! While I haven’t exactly been frustrated that I couldn’t find a taker for this particular story, which certain readers will know as “the Twitter one”, I was beginning to suspect that I had run out of places that would both find it suitable for their needs and also pay me something for it. I hadn’t quite reached the point where I was going to set some deadline for giving up on submitting it, but I imagine that it would only have taken a few more rejections before I was sending it out for “exposure” rather than compensation.

And you know, I would have seen that a shame, since I am trying to build a writing career here, step by step. While I still have a day job (ahem) the money itself isn’t important, but acknowledgment in the form of people willing to part with their own money in order to have something I made is – for the moment at least – the way I have chosen to keep score.

I would make some sort of extended gaming metaphor about achievement-hunting, but nobody needs to hear it.

Anyway, as my sophomore sale, this represents another milestone on the road. It’s one step further away from my more or less lifelong state of “going to be a writer one day” to, you know, being a writer. And it’s a bit of an ego boost that will be easy to funnel into writing the next story, polishing the next draft or submitting the next finished piece.

So, hooray for sales. Or, if you prefer, hooray for life-goals, slightly incremented.

November 7, 2013

TMoRP Day 14 – Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Podcast

Yesterday’s entry got really long and rambly. Sorry. This will be shorter.

Ken and Robin Talk about Stuff (KaRTaS) is a weekly podcast by tabletop game design luminaries Kenneth Hite and Robin D Laws. Each show is divided into four segments of roughly 15 minutes, with a general remit of discussing tabletop roleplaying games – designing, running or playing them. In practise, the subjects expand in every direction – they discuss real-world geopolitical events like Syria, Libya and the NSA spying scandal, political issues like the internal wrangling of the Republican Party and the lunatic escapades of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, more bizarre ideas from the realms of conspiracy theories, odd subcultures and the occult, and numerous topics from across the whole stretch of human history. All these are at least nominally grist for the mill of the gaming table and/or fiction, with the presenters mining their subjects for inspiration, using them as launching points for campaigns and stories. You get the idea.

The hosts are funny, erudite and endlessly curious. Even if you don’t have a particular interest in gaming or writing fiction, the sheer scope of their subjects is reason enough to tune in to the show. In one section they might be talking about water rights in the Middle East, and in the next they will cover little-known figures from the lunatic occult fringe of the Nazi Party (apparently there were elements of pre-war Germany that were too crazy even for the Third Reich, the revelations of which are somewhat eye-opening). I don’t recall an episode where I didn’t learn something about which I had previously never heard.

Ken and Robin are charming, amusing hosts who present their material like a cheerful discussion over a tasty cheese platter and a couple of good bottles of red wine. Their conversational style, their easy wit and the sheer breadth of their knowledge (or at least the quality of their research) makes for fun listening, very worthy of an hour out of your week. There’s no particular continuity (other than their occasionally revisiting an earlier subject of discussion) so you can easily start with the latest episode and see what you think. Give it a listen.

November 6, 2013

TMoRP Day 13 – Captain Marvel

There are a lot of Captain Marvels out there. Over the past eighty-ish years of superhero comics, it’s a name that gets trotted out with fairly routine regularity.

DC Comics have the Big Red Cheese version, the Captain Marvel who’s really a ten-year-old newsboy named Billy Batson who speaks a magic word given to him by an ancient wizard whose name is an acronym of six old gods who bestow their legendary virtues on a suitably heroic champion. Yeah, and he sometimes fights a super-genius bookworm who speaks through an old-fashioned wooden radio he wears around his body like an invertebrate Flavor Flav. That Captain Marvel – whose name recently got changed to Shazam, which is what everyone always calls the character anyway but seems like kind of a stupid name for him to call himself since that’s his secret word that he uses to transform between invulnerable superhero and slightly polio-afflicted juvenile, and I’m sure there’s a perfectly sound explanation for all that but I’ll never know because I’m fucked if I’m going to read more widely in the execrable DC New 52 universe – is dumb. Dumb costume, dumb Superman knockoff, dumb roster of villains.

I’m not talking about that Captain Marvel.

Nor am I talking about the first version of the character from Marvel Comics, the Kree space captain named Mar-Vell. His main claim to fame (at least to me, who came to comics in the late seventies and early eighties, after his heyday) was his death from cancer. It was the first major character death in the Marvel universe, and almost the only significant one (apart from maybe Gwen Stacey) that has actually stuck. Mar-Vell’s never come back, but his legacy – as a guy who flies around in a red and blue costume with yellow highlights, blasting this with his hand-beams, saving people from stuff – lives on the Marvel continuity.

There have been a few other Captains Marvel between then and now. Go skim the wikipedia entry, because honestly most of these characters, with the exception of Monica Rambeau (who took the name but otherwise doesn’t have much to do with the alien Kree) and Noh-Varr (who is a Kree exile and is currently starring in the Young Avengers, about which I will probably rave before too long), aren’t really that important or good.

The Captain Marvel I like – the current Captain Marvel – is Carol Danvers. Also known for most of her time as Ms Marvel but also as Binary, Warbird and probably half a dozen other names I don’t know about. Each eclectic identity came with a different implausible and borderline-porny costume, with the only unifying feature being her trademarked hip scarf (a distinct if impractical accoutrement for any superhero outfit).

Danvers, an Air Force officer who picked up her powers back in the 60’s in an encounter with the original Mar-Vell and some Kree bad guys, has about the most convoluted and horrible back story in comics. Over time she has lost her powers to the mutant Rogue, been experimented on by the Alien-knockoff aliens the Brood, been kidnapped and impregnated by an interdimensional sociopath (then later that somehow never happened), and she’s been an an Avenger and an agent of SHIELD and sometimes a Guardian of the Galaxy and –

oh, look, forget all that. It’s the usual comics bullshit. Some of her backstory is great, some is unbelievably awful, and much of it is banal and forgettable.

Carol Danvers is among my favourite Marvel characters, but I’ve only come to that conclusion relatively recently. She’s been on the periphery of my awareness, mainly as Ms Marvel – but c’mon, that’s a pretty terrible name, right? Anyway, I don’t think she really started clicking for me until I began reading Brian Bendis’ vast run on The Avengers. Danvers, as Ms Marvel, is a constant presence in that book – still off to one side and in the shadow of the bigger players like Iron Man and Captain America. And in fact it’s the Civil War event that brought her to the foreground in my mind. While I have very mixed feelings about the Civil War storyline’s ham-fisted, authoritarian triumphalism, it was at least interesting to the Marvel roster of characters decide which side they were on. As a a SHIELD-adjacent serving military officer, she unsurprisingly picked Iron Man’s government-registration side and was immediately put in charge of hunting down everyone who refused to sign on.

(I’ve just realised that I’m going on a bit. Hard habit to break when talking about comics. You always feel like you need to explain the context, which means delving into backstory. No. No no. That’s a rabbit hole, deep and full of poisoned baits! Long story short, she eventually learned to be a leader as well as an arse-kicker).

Anyway, finally after nearly four decades of playing second-row to a dead character, Carol Danvers is now Captain Marvel, with her own title courtesy of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy. The first two collected volumes are available now, and I recommend them unreservedly. While the first volume combines a time-travelling, alien-bashing romp with serious themes about women in the military and relationships between women of different generations, the series really hits its stride with the second volume.

“Down” features Monica Rambeau, the first woman to take the name of Captain Marvel (though she also frequently abandons it for other generic superhero labels like Photon). I love their sassy, sarcastic interplay and the fact that their bantery rivalry does not paper over the fact that they are friends who will call each other on their shit. It’s a refreshing breath of fresh air from the trope of catty, spiteful female friendships that have plagued comics for a long time.

Check out Captain Marvel. She flies planes even though she can fly under her own power. She has a more messed up personal history than almost anyone in comics. She punches dinosaurs because they’re there to be punched.

And while her costume is now more practical and less swimsuity than ever before, they kept the sash. Because, hell yes.

 

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