Thirsty Thursday March 2019: A very thirsty spring season is here

By Allison Senecal — Welcome to a special spring-time edition of Thirsty Thursday! While Marvel has been busy consummating new series announcements and signing Tini Howard exclusive (!!!), I’ve been diligently keeping track of a very intense type of comicbook art. And now, it is my absolute pleasure to share it with all of you!

Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Guru-eFX
Uncanny X-Men #14 - My only complaint is that Karma didn’t make this panel, because otherwise *chef kiss*. THE GANG’S ALL HERE. And Havok is the Summers brother with the best hair. Don’t @ me.

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REVIEW: The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 hints at new mythos for Kamala Khan’s story

The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 is out 3/13/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — For the first time in the character’s young life, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel has a new writer. Indeed, since the new Ms. Marvel’s solo series launched back in February 14, writer G. Willow Wilson has been a constant in her adventures. Under Wilson’s creative guidance, Ms. Marvel has run for nearly five years and many issues, earning critical acclaim and racking up tons of sales, especially in the bookstore and book fair market with young readers.

I’ve been there all the way, because to my mind Kamala Khan is the purest update on the concept of the teen superhero first pioneered by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in Amazing Fantasy #15 with the creation of Peter Parker, essentially the first kid superhero that wasn’t a sidekick, or at least the first that captivated fans and became successful (the Billy Batson Captain Marvel/Shazam! aside). Kamala Khan’s adventures as Ms. Marvel to me in the Wilson era always felt like the first millennial superhero, essentially written for us and by us with a nuanced understanding of the world we lived in and the challenges we faced.

In his first issue as Ms. Marvel’s new writer, Saladin Ahmed essentially commits to maintaining that status for Kamala while at the same time building in an evolved sense of scale, mythos and grandiosity. This issue has an interesting framing structure, in which a pair of alien beings—identified only as being from another world somewhere in the far future—are discussing Kamala, with a little girl in bed listening as a father tells her stories of the Destined One. What Ahmed does right from the start of this new book—facilitated with detailed and vibrant artwork from the team of artist Minkyu Jung, inker Juan Vlasco, and colorist Ian Herring—is give Kamala and increased sense of relevance, not just to the folks near her in Jersey City but to the entire world, potentially even the entire galaxy.

As millennials begin to inherit the world in the wake of mass baby boomer retirement, it’s a fitting development for this now five-year-old arc. Kamala will, of course, remain young in the comics (these heroes always should and do) even as her position within the broader zeitgeist ages, and Ahmed understands this as well. Even as she becomes the Destined One to some folks far away and well in the future, her exploits at home remain mostly driven by her interpersonal relationships with her parents and best friends.   

In the end, what we get from The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 is a new run that feels both familiar and novel. The interactions between Kamala and her parents feel as if they’ve been culled directly from Wilson’s now-ended run, while the framing device is Ahmed signaling an intent to also try something wholly new. It is, as far as I’m concerned, exactly what this character needed as she ages a little and presumably takes another step toward her inevitable destiny as a character in big budget Marvel Studios filmed. It’s no coincidence this book is coming out now, just days after Carol Danvers and Captain Marvel stormed the box office.

Overall: The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 is a new run that feels both familiar and novel. The interactions between Kamala and her parents feel as if they’ve been culled directly from Wilson’s now-ended run, while the framing device is Ahmed signaling an intent to also try something wholly new. 9.0/10

The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1
Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Comic of the Week: Meet the Skrulls #1

Meet the Skrulls #1 is out as of 3/6/2019.

By d. emerson emmy — I'm a sucker for spy infiltration thrillers. I love the feeling of an unexpected reveal of a character right under your nose being something other than what was shown previously. When you find out that the character than you loved is really working for the bad guys. Meet the Skrulls isn't exactly that, we already know that they're infiltrators. We're let in on the secret from the onset, much more like The Americans, which is kind of how this has been marketed to us, but this first issue still works well as the set-up for a spy thriller.

Across the backdrop of a program, Project Blossom, being implemented that is designed to ferret out and identify Skrulls across the globe, Robbie Thompson, Niko Henrichon, Laurent Grossat, and Travis Lanham introduce us to the Warners, a family of Skrulls infiltrating different levels of society in order to perpetuate their survival. Although they're definitely a foreign invading force, I think it's interesting that their approach isn't necessarily an unsympathetic one. Due to the defeat in Secret Invasion and beyond, there seems to have been a collapse in Skrull society. They're less trying to take over and more fighting for survival.

Don't get me wrong, though, they're still thoroughly evil. As the Elders point out that one member of the family is giving them concerns and require her to be dealt with, adding another complication on top of the family's regular mission, but Thompson does a great job of building these characters and making us at least sympathize for their situation. And the actions through their individual missions are quite compelling.

Henrichon, with color assists from Grossat, bring the story to life nicely. I'd probably buy just about anything Henrichon is illustrating, his work is always beautiful, but he seems particularly suited to this mix of real life espionage and the absurdity of shapeshifters. Combined with a rich colour palette, the artwork works well to make you feel comfortable in reality, but still off-putting enough with the reveal of the Skrulls themselves that you always feel like something is not quite right. That uneasiness, almost like the sensation of uncanny valley, just elevates the overall feel and tone of the story.

Also enhancing the overall feel for the story is the lettering from Lanham. There's a nice variety of word balloon and narration box styles and fonts, from the creepy singing of the agent murdering Skrulls to the shaky differently coloured balloons of the Skrulls in their own form, that adds to the experience. I really quite like the approach to the Skrull balloons because it subconsciously reinforces their ability to change shape and the idea that they're alien.

Overall, this is an excellent debut. Thompson, Henrichon, Grossat, and Lanham deliver an opening chapter into this thriller that effectively presents an interesting core cast of characters in the family, sets up their own individual foibles and missions, and provides a broader context for their mission that acts well as a hook to see what happens next.

Meet the Skrulls #1
Robbie Thompson
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Color Assistant: Laurent Grossat
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comics Anatomy: Pushing Boundaries in Captain Marvel #1

By Harry Kassen — Hello everyone and welcome back to Comics Anatomy. As you know, Captain Marvel is coming to the big screen today, so I thought it’d be fun to do a special Captain Marvel article going over some of the craft elements at play in January’s Captain Marvel #1, written by Kelly Thompson with art by Carmen Carnero, colors by Tamra Bonvillain, and letters by Clayton Cowles. While establishing a new status quo for Carol—then abruptly throwing that out—this issue also does some more subtle things with craft that enhance the reading experience. I’m going to talk about one of them here today.

What jumped out to me when I read it is the use of special panel borders to signify something about the action in that panel or in panels around it. A great example of this is in the fight scene at the beginning of the book. There is a two-page splash that shows Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman fighting a giant monster.

This spread can be looked at as four panels, the first panel with the thick black outline showing Carol, the large panel that spreads across the pages is the second, the third is the panel to the right with the double border that shows the monster crashing into the building, and the fourth is the one on the far right with the double border showing Carol floating in the air. The thing I want to address is the phenomenon of the double panel border, but this page is a little trickier to understand without first looking at some other examples, so let’s shelve it for now and look at a different one.

Let’s look next at the two page spread near the end of the book that shows Nuclear Man attacking the four Avengers in that scene.

Like the last one, this one can be broken into four panels, though the first two are the ones that matter for our purposes. The first panel is another with a double border, showing Captain America lifting Nuclear Man. The second is the larger panel that shows Nuclear Man attacking the Avengers and launching them across the page. The double border around the first panel serves as a signal that something big is going to shift from that panel to the next. On one side of the border Cap is picking up a defeated Nuclear man, but on the other side of the border Nuclear Man has turned the tables on the Avengers and has gained the upper hand.

On a later page in this same fight the double border pops up again. The page where the Avengers are attempting to follow Carol through Nuclear Man’s portal has three double border panels showing individual Avengers and a large panel showing them being thrown back from the portal.

In both of these examples, the double border serves as an indicator that something is about to change or that something inside the panel is different than in the rest of the page. In the Nuclear Man spread, the double border panel shows the Avengers as winning the fight, then immediately on the other side of that border, in the next panel, the Avengers are losing to Nuclear Man.

In addition, there’s a shift from a vertical, relatively confined panel to a widescreen and very expansive panel. There’s a clear difference between the two and the double border signals that that change is coming.

Likewise in the page with the Avengers and the portal, the border serves to mark a clear shift in action and format.

The three double bordered panels show the three Avengers moving toward the portal but the rest of the splash shows them being thrown back. On a technical level, the three Avengers panels are diagonal and show left-right movement, but the portal panel is vertical and shows right-left movement. Once again, the double border is what signals this shift.

Which brings us back to the first example.

On this page, there are two double bordered panels. In the main spread, there is a large monster getting punched in the face by Captain Marvel. In the first double bordered panel, this monster is crashing into a building in the background. Lastly, in the second double bordered panel, Carol is hovering over the defeated monster. As with before, each of these panels is a distinct moment of the fight. On the level of story, the punch is the beginning of this interaction, the monster crashing into the building is the middle, and then the monster laying defeated on the ground while Carol hovers over it is the end. Looking at the technique, we can see that the first panel shows Carol moving and the monster being moved by her. This panel is the full two page spread and is horizontal. The next panel, which is tilted slightly, shows the monster moving. Carol isn’t in it. Lastly, the final panel shows Carol and the monster, both still. This panel is larger than the last and tilted even more. The double border serves to signal these differences once again.

This goes to show that the creative team of a comic have control over all the elements of the page’s composition. What counts as the art and storytelling isn’t just limited to the contents of the panels but also the way they’re shaped and how they’re framed. The architecture of a comic is important for developing the book’s visual language and guiding how the reader experiences the story, and Captain Marvel #1 is a great example of how to use this power well.

Captain Marvel #1
Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Check out Comics Anatomy: Velvet’s Perfect Page!

Harry Kassen is a college student and avid comic book reader. When he’s not doing schoolwork or reading comics, he’s probably sleeping. Catch his thoughts on comics, food, and other things on Twitter @leekassen.