YOUNG AVENGERS OMNIBUS
Kieron Gillen (writer). Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton (artists). Matthew Wilson (colorist). Marvel Comics. $49.99. Hardcover. Color. 360 Pages.
Gillen and McKelvie’s 15-issue Young Avengers run is too short but wonderfully sweet and devastatingly beautiful. Off-the-wall and refreshingly unconcerned with much beyond its own pages the book is unequivocally a Gillen/McKelvie joint, which is high praise. Unfiltered drama that feels smart and fresh and decidedly young without trying too hard it’s just effortlessly cool and yet emotionally resonant too. Add to all of that the fact that McKelvie delivers some of the smartest most creative storytelling I’ve seen in years and this book is a slamdunk (i.e. it’s definitely on MY wish list!)
Female Friendly Factor: Two excellent female leads/supporting characters in Miss America and Hawkeye and especially in the case of Miss America/America Chavez, a character that Gillen and McKelvie have basically helped put back on the map in a big way.
LAZARUS BOOK 1
Greg Rucka (writer). Michael Lark (artist). Santi Arcas (colorist). Image Comics. $34.99. Hardcover. Color. 245 Pages.
Easily my favorite ongoing book right now, this hardcover collects the first nine issues plus additional content like never before seen sketches and exclusive world building content. In a future where several crime families rule the world and each have a physically advanced brutally trained warrior, or Lazarus, representing them, Forever Carlyle is the Carlyle Lazarus and nothing is quite what she thinks it is in this fantastic creator owned Greg Rucka and Michael Lark book with gorgeous colors by Santi Arcas. Month after month Lazaurs has delivered smart, insightful, and emotionally engaging narratives that feel devastatingly real. It’s some of the best character development and world building I’ve ever seen in a comic and the slow build is paying off in an emotional resonance that reads as well in one sitting as it does in satisfying month to month pieces. Lark and Arcas’s visuals are devastatingly beautiful and sometimes just plain devastating. It also happens to be some of Greg Rucka’s best comics work to date and one of his best new characters, which is impressive to say the least.
Female Friendly Factor: Forever Carlyle is easily one of the best female characters to come out of comics in the last decade. It’s no real surprise she’s coming from creator Greg Rucka who has a whole lot of experience with this. There’s also a strong female supporting cast.
MARVEL COMBO PACK! MS. MARVEL VOLUME 1: NO NORMAL & CAPTAIN MARVEL VOLUME 1: HIGHER, FURTHER, FASTER, MORE
Ms. Marvel: G. Willow Wilson (writer). Adrian Alphona (artist). Ian Herring (colorist). Marvel Comics. $15.99. Softcover. Color. 120 Pages.
Captain Marvel: Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer). David Lopez (artist). Lee Loughridge (colorist). Marvel Comics. $17.99. Softcover. Colors. 136 Pages.
A combo pack of the first volume of Ms. Marvel - the hottest new heroine on the superhero scene in just this side of forever and the first volume of the new Captain Marvel - coming soon (sorta) to a theater near you. Both will leave readers giddy with pure undiluted superhero fun.
MS MARVEL: Collecting the first five-issues of Wilson and Alphona’s Ms. Marvel a fresh new book unlike most everything else around it. A YA female lead of color and Muslim to boot, Kamala Khan is a heroine that so many have been waiting for a long time. The book is fun and bright and full of hope and filled with a new take on classic superhero stakes. The art by Alphona is high energy and wonderfully expressive, as well as fantastically creative with Kamala’s power set and in its interpretation her world and the characters within it.
CAPTAIN MARVEL: Collecting the first six-issues of DeConnick and Lopez’s Captain Marvel a second run at a great character in the new title role and an all-around great title that definitely deserved a second shot. Practice makes perfect and this time they got so much right -- Carol is wonderfully flawed but still majestically heroic, and the result is a heroine with a ton of humanity and humor. Lopez’s art is bright and appropriately superheroic and very smart when it comes to character design and expression work. Lopez and Loughridge are as comfortable on Earth as they are on alien planets, the darkness of space, and the confines of a spaceship, making all of it hum along with DeConnick’s vision, a finely tuned machine.
Female Friendly Factor (Ms. Marvel): Female Creator (Wilson). Kamala is the bold YA female lead many have been waiting for a very long time. Also has some female supporting cast.
Female Friendly Factor (Capt. Marvel): Female Creator (DeConnick). Carol is a female lead I never thought I could fully love (Rogue 4eva!) and yet DeConnick has made her wonderfully human, relatable, and magnificently heroic all at once. Also has a really impressive female supporting cast.
SEX CRIMINALS VOLUME 1
Matt Fraction (writer). Chip Zdarsky (artist). Becka Kinzie (color flatting). Image Comics. $9.99. Softcover. Color. 128 Pages.
A brilliant and funny concept—two characters that can freeze time when they orgasm who meet one another and fall in love—is taken to even more bizarre and emotional ends thanks to Fraction and Zdarsky’s total embrace of the concept and exceptionally smart execution. It's an idea that could have fizzled after initial intriguing launch, but with a wicked sense of humor and impressive narrative beats, Fraction and Zdarsky found a really emotional and relatable center amid the high-concept idea. I expected to grow weary of the title when the concept wore thin or the jokes began to feel stale, but instead I found myself enormously invested in the characters and their rich believable lives. Sure, there’s still hi-jinks and zaniness galore but it’s the characters I’m here for now and you will be too. One note -- though I fully recommend this book, if you’re intrigued by it (or already a fan) you may want to wait for the deluxe hardcover which drops in March and looks like it will be fantastic (I mean, it's awesomely pink and it’s called “Big Hard Criminals” so it must be good).
Female Friendly Factor: Female creator (Kinzie). Female lead Suzie is one of the better female leads to come around in a long time – smart, funny, cool and painfully human. The book also has several good female supporting characters.
Bryan Lee O’Malley (wrter/artist). Ballantine. $25.00. Hardcover. Color. 336 Pages.
Bryan Lee O’Malley is fantastic at creating wonderfully layered fantastically flawed characters (and drawing great outfits) and Seconds is no exception. Somehow totally different from his Scott Pilgrim and yet still effortlessly "O'Malley," Seconds is a self contained stand alone OGN unlike the ongoing six volume saga that was Scott Pilgrim. O’Malley’s lead character Katie is kind of a mess, but in the best and most relatable of ways. The illustration work is stunningly gorgeous and magnificently funny. Some of the sci-fi/plot is a bit wobbly but that didn’t keep me from devouring it in one day and falling in love with some of the characters. It’s a beautiful hardcover volume – I’d expect no less from O’Malley – that will be at home on any book/comic lover’s shelf.
Female Friendly Factor: Terribly flawed and thus utterly magnificent and hilarious lead Katie, and a very strong female supporting cast.