From Amora to Zatanna: July

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Alight comic fans, let’s get right to it this month. Where DC’s “New 52” is just failing in the reboot comic department, “Marvel Now” is kicking ass and taking names. Here are just a few ways Marvel Now is progressing with the ideals mass and geek culture seem to be adopting for themselves:

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1) Brian Wood’s and Olivier Coipel’s all-female team for X-Men:

When initially announced, many fans believed it to be a publicity stunt akin to Marvel Divas back in 2009. However, the tight storytelling of Wood and non-sexualized artistry of Coipel has given us a comic series featuring the badass X-(wo)men we have all come to love and admire. The content not only engages the once hidden female comic audience, but your basic male comic audience as well, proving that stories focused solely on women protagonists can be just as exciting as any other story featuring men. Plus, how can you not celebrate the return of Storm’s 80s mohawk?

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2) Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel:

Again, the initial announcement of this title was met with criticism. Many groups were thrown by the Muslim American heritage of the new protagonist, claiming the comic to be some type of propaganda. But it is this exact reaction that illustrates the necessity for this comic heroine! Not only is she a woman of color, who are severely underrepresented in most popular culture, but she is a Muslim American. This comic was intended to dispel many of the common misconceptions held by various groups in the US about Muslim Americans and confront them with the truth that they are just like any other American citizen.

3) The awesome Kate Bishop drawn by the awesome Annie Wu:

This successful comic title, Hawkeye, that Marvel Now has been putting out not only features a badass female archer, but also a badass female artist. As silly as it sounds in the twenty-first century, recognizing and hiring a female comic enthusiast is a big improvement in the once exclusionary comic society. Not only does she draw the many adventures of the physically capable Kate Bishop, but she has creative input on her character and story progression as well. Furthermore, I would like to think that women know how to draw women anatomically correct. No weird back stretches and inflated hourglass shapes.

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4) Captain America’s mantel is passed on to Falcon:

Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, is taking up the Captain America mantel. And while some comic fans are perplexed by the decision, I felt that it made perfect sense in both a progressive and comic sense. People of color are typically reserved as side kicks or stock characters that the protagonist of the story associates with, but very rarely are they the one in the spot light. The title of Captain America is one of the most recognized and coveted identities within the Marvel universe and casting Sam Wilson as such is an impressively progressive move. In addition, Sam Wilson is one of Steve Roger’s best and oldest friends, outside of Bucky Barnes, so his decision to take over for Steve is one fueled by admiration and respect for his dear friend. And that is something I would like to see more of!

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However, not every move that Marvel makes is a smashing success.

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BONUS: Lady…. I mean Thor that is a woman now, Thor:

At first, I dug the idea. Many woman and girls alike have most often gender bent Thor in their cosplay, creating an image of Thor that was both feminine and powerful. Initially, I thought this reimagined Thor would be the same. However, I had a few things pointed out to me. Thor, though a god perfectly capable of rebirth, is not reborn as a female. Instead, the male Thor is no longer worthy of the title anymore, so the hammer and name are transferred to an existing Marvel woman. “Whoever should wield this hammer shall possess the power of Thor.” Literally. You take his name and everything, like some kind of bad wedding ceremony.

I dislike this idea for two reasons: 1) Instead of creating a new badass woman from Norse mythology that can go toe to toe with Thor, Marvel changes one of their most popular characters in a lazy attempt to pick up a larger audience. 2) A pre-established character is “not worthy” of her own identity and therefore has to change it, while simultaneously covering her face with the helmet so that she is not physically recognizable. Not the best message, right?

In summation, Marvel may not be the perfect publishing company, but I am certainly interested in seeing what other ideas they have up their sleeve.

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About foxinthefield

Nicole Embrey received her Master's in English, along with a Professional Certificate in Teaching and Writing, at the California State University in Fullerton. She wants to engage freshmen entering college by using storytelling techniques developed from fairytales and mythology they are familiar with and help them critically think about how this might apply to pop culture genres, such as comics. She is an avid reader of graphic novels, a casual gamer, and a ridiculous enthusiast of all geekery. Someday, she hopes to add "comic writer" to her list of titles.
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