I was thinking a lot this past week about Young Avengers forthcoming end with issue #15, and how, as disappointed as I am to not be getting that book as a continued ongoing, there’s something wonderful about how Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers will now exist as a nearly perfect 15 issue run, with limited guest artists, no phone-it-in-issues (which just happens over a long run, it’s only natural), one clear and concise vision, and most importantly, no damn crossover issues or messy event tie-ins. Young Avengers will be able to be collected into a few awesome trades, and if we’re lucky someday maybe a sweet little omnibus. It will be a great book to put on your shelf and go back to time and time again. Kind of like the wonder that is Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E. – which I re-read at least once every year – and which stands out in the way that only the “brilliant but cancelled” can.
But maybe these things don’t have to be “cancelled,” maybe, instead, like Young Avengers they can just choose to be one smaller and more defined moment.
There’s been a lot of chatter over the last few years about the idea of comics adopting a more “season” approach to their books. Eschewing long continuities for shorter self-contained runs. I understand why some fans are anxious about this idea -- continuity and the ability to know it backward and forward despite all its inane complexities -- is part of what gives geeks our cred. However, I’m forced to admit as someone that wants better stories, and as a creator myself, that there are a lot of advantages to the shorter self-contained run, not the least of which is the fact that you’re less likely to be cancelled.
As any creator will tell you, trying to imagine a story as open-ended is not something that works well, and it’s of course the reasons that even ongoing comics have story arcs. Things have to follow a structure in which you can have “acts” that open and close a story. Where there’s an element of building stakes (among many other things) and then an eventual payoff, and even “closure.” But knowing you have to go directly from one arc into another can be kind of daunting, not to mention unnatural.
It’s one of the reasons that when I think of many of my favorite books – Stumptown, Alias, Astonishing X-Men (Whedon), New X-Men (Morrison), Batwoman/Detective Comics (Elegy), Black Widow (The Name of the Rose), DV8: Gods & Monsters, and of course the aforementioned Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E. – either they were always intended to be stand alone works, or they eventually got cancelled in such a way that they ended up standing on their own anyway. I sometimes think they're better for that fact. And now Young Avengers can join the ranks of those other great books.
Additionally, while none of us want to see our creators leave something we love, I confess that I certainly prefer seeing Gillen and McKelvie opting to move on and tell other stories after ending this story the way they wanted because they feel like they’ve done what they’ve come to do than either being forced to do a new story they’re not as energized about, or readers being handed a new (and frequently substandard) creative team in the hopes of keeping the book going. I’ll miss these characters – and the creators – but all in all it feels like a positive way to go. A way that makes way for other interesting books that creators are excited about and readers can subsequently become excited about.
Another added bonus of the “season” idea, or a maxi-series, whatever you want to call it for it to make sense to you, is that it would free up publishers like Marvel/DC to take bigger risks. Committing to between 6 and 12 issues of something is a lot less daunting than pretending it’s going to be an ongoing and then cancelling it at issue #9 if it’s not working out. Instead you’ve got a “successful 12-issue season of something” rather than “9 issues of a failed ongoing” – the PR writes itself here.
But mostly I like the idea that it theoretically frees them up to make bolder choices. I have a hard time picturing anyone able to pitch any of my team ups below for an ongoing, but with the right creative team it seems like you could get people pretty excited about some outside the box stories and character pairings for at least a short run. Sometimes a mini-series seems inconsequential, but there's nothing inconsequential about a year of comics. And we see so much repeated over and over in comics -- because so many of these characters have been through so many years together -- that I’d love to see some new emotional beats (not to mention adventures) shared between less obvious team-ups. That’s of course a lot of what Marvel’s A+X has been about. Unfortunately, those stories are extremely short (half an issue for each story) and while some of them have been really successful (The Black Widow/Rogue story by Chris Bachalo in A+X #3 was freaking incredible) a lot of them are failures, if only because it’s hard to tell a truly engaging compelling story in so few pages.
So, with all that in mind, here are ten lady team-ups I’d love to see as limited run “seasons” as well as some creative team suggestions (I can’t help it, it’s the inner editor, or, control freak in me, your pick). Now, for the haters out there, I'm not suggesting we actually flood the market with ten all-lady team up books, don't be absurd, these are just some fun suggestions of the kind of stuff I'd love to see in this brave new world we seem headed towards.
Since this column was inspired by Young Avengers and sort of A+X and more generally the approach Marvel seems to be taking to comics, I stuck with only Marvel ladies, though there are certainly plenty of DC ladies I’d love to see share the page (foremost: Wonder Woman and Catwoman…so many possibilities…for starters…just imagine the fact that Diana can actually talk to Selina’s cats! Amazing. A close second? Big Barda and Batwoman. Man what I wouldn’t pay to see those two, not just fight together, but have some coffee – practical/precision/perfection meets pure unrefined power. Incredible potential. Plus of course, Cass Cain/Batgirl and just about anyone).
But I digress. This list, even just for Marvel ladies, started out as a very reasonable 5 pairings, but as I got more and more excited about it and started thinking about all the characters out there I wanted to use, I expanded the list. Maybe in the future I’ll do a DC one as well. For now, here we go, and enjoy!
01. EMMA FROST & MAGIK
As if there was any doubt that this team up would be anything other than, well, magic, Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo have been showing us all what fun it would actually be as Emma and Magik continue to interact in Uncanny X-Men (see the post header image). Powerful and gorgeous, with a dry sense of humor and dark streaks a mile wide I cannot even pretend that Emma and Magik on an adventure – likely living in the legal grey areas (let’s face it – VERY grey areas) – would be unbearable amounts of fun. Off the top of my head (or rather ripped from the pages of Uncanny X-Men #14) some kind of heist book that would allow Emma and Magik to fully embrace the anti-heroes they are. To be honest, Bendis and Bachalo are halfway to doing this book already, it just happens to be called Uncanny X-Men and have a bunch of other people in it:
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis. Since Bendis and Bachalo are the ones that showed me the light here, I can only suggest they keep it going.
Artist: Chris Bachalo
02. KATE BISHOP/HAWKEYE & JUBILEE
When it comes to Kate Bishop, she’s such an incredible badass, but she’s also this kind of rich, privileged level of snotty that makes her both worldly and also small-minded in a way. She’s absolutely amazing but then she’s also young with a lot to learn, so I wanted her paired up with someone that would challenge all of that in the best of ways. So here’s Jubilee with an almost
absolutely polar opposite* life from Kate – originally growing up wealthy but being a thief and "mall rat" despite coming from wealth, when her parents are murdered and she's handed off to a neighboring family she runs away and basically becomes homeless before hooking up with the X-Men at a very young age. Jubilee has lived pretty big (and strange) since she was young thanks to hanging with X-Men heavy hitters, and now with a whole new scary and very intense power set. I feel like maybe they’re the Oscar and Felix of the “no longer teenaged superhero set.” Course Jubes has a baby now, so we’re gonna need a sitter…or something, I guess.
*thanks to commenter Eric for the correction and I've modified this section slightly as a result!
Writer: Matt Fraction. His Kate in Hawkeye simply deserves as much page time as possible. A “season” of comics is just what the doctor ordered.
Artist: Stuart Immonen. I don’t know why, other than Immonen being an art god, and the fact that I just want to see his version of Kate Bishop REAL DAMN BAD.
03. MONICA RAMBEAU & ELSA BLOODSTONE & TABITHA SMITH/BOOM BOOM
Why mess with perfection? These ladies were brilliant together in Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E., and two of them (Elsa and Tabitha) were hilarious together in Faith Erin Hicks Girl Comics short, so why not let them make more magic together? Maybe we can riff off of Elsa’s “monster hunter” gig and have her call in her old Agents of H.A.T.E. pals for some help in corralling some off the wall B-List Horror Movie rejects? Even better if Fing Fang Foom can guest star.
Writer: Warren Ellis. Surely Ellis wouldn’t mind getting part of the band back together for this, right? I’d happily put Immonen on it as well, but I’ve already assigned him elsewhere. You know who’s got an amazing crazy style that would fit things like “killer koalas” perfectly? Filipe Andrade. YES. DONE.
Artist: Filipe Andrade
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
04. BLACK WIDOW & JESSICA JONES
Just in time for Jessica Jones to have her own TV show it’s time for a Jessica team up book and who better to team her up with than the other woman already with a foothold in other media – Black Widow. But that’s not the only reason to pair up these ladies. More importantly, while I enjoy Jessica as a superhero just fine, in truth I definitely prefer her P.I. roots (at least “roots” as defined by her definitive books – i.e. Alias). So I’d love to see her paired up with a hero that would compliment and enhance that aspect of her character strengths, and since Natasha herself is not your typical superhero, with her roots in spying and the more covert side of things, these ladies could be a under cover case solving dream team. All the better if Natasha can rant some about how much she hates time travel (I feel like Jessica would agree with her on this – at the end of the day they are very practical ladies).
Writer: Greg Rucka. I’ve always wanted Rucka to have another crack at Natasha and nobody writes detective and spy stories like Rucka. Talk about a perfect fit.
Artist: Alex Maleev. He’s got a detailed and realistic style that works well for both Jessica and Natasha, proved quite literally recently with Natasha when he illustrated a hell of a stand alone story starring Black Widow in Warren Ellis’s Secret Avengers #20 (Run The Mission! Don’t Get Seen! Save the World!).
Covers by: Maleev
05. TROLL & SIF
Ah, the limitless untapped potential that is TROLL! Why is Troll not in everything? Sometimes the only thing better than a fish out of water story is TWO FISH OUT OF WATER. I can’t even imagine the hi-jinx and misunderstandings these two could get into. Each knowing JUST enough about our world and customs to get into about as much trouble as humanly possible. How do we get these two together? I’ll leave that to better minds, but surely there’s some way in which they can be railroaded into to joining brutal epic battling forces.
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick. I loved DeConnick’s take on Sif in her one shot back in 2010 and I’d love to see her get another crack at the character. I also think with DeConnick’s sharp sense of humor she’d be great with Troll and the two characters together…well, could be magic!
Artist: Ross Campbell. Campbell could draw the CRAP out of Troll. I also think he’d enjoy it. Plus, his GLORY was magnificent, so handling an Asgardian warrior like Sif would be a cakewalk.