It’s that time of year again. The rain/snow is falling down, my fridge is packed to the gills with food and ingredients I can’t even identify (my boyfriend is the chef in our house) and I’ve been hating on people already fully into the Christmas spirit for the past few weeks. It’s Thanksgiving, our country’s favorite turkey-flavored speed bump on the road to Christmas. It’s around this time that bloggers and columnists start posting lists of the things they’re thankful for — and I’m no different. Hey, this is my third Thanksgiving with IN YOUR FACE JAM and I’ve held off doing a thankful Thanksgiving round up for a pretty long time! This also comes at a good time for me; the past few columns have been doozies for me to write and I’m ready to focus on the good things. So cozy up in your recliner, start a fire in the fire place, grab some mulled cider, shove all that tinsel back in the closet for forty-eight more hours and check out the first ever IN YOUR FACE-GIVING THANKS-JAM.
I’m thankful that I got my girls. For the first year in my decades of comic book buying, I have a pull-list comprised with way more female-driven ongoing series than male ones, which demonstrates on a personal scale just how much the comic book market has changed. The books with female leads that I read are also incredibly diverse; they’re fun (“She-Hulk,” “Ms. Marvel”), gritty (“The Kitchen,” “Lazarus”), heroic (“Captain Marvel,” “Thor”), thrilling (“Black Widow,” “Velvet”) delightfully off-kilter (“Rat Queens”) and thoroughly modern (“Batgirl”).
I’m specifically thankful for Kamala Khan, the most compelling and vibrant new character added to the Marvel Universe in a very long time. In “Ms. Marvel,” writer G. Willow Wilson, artists Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Joe Caramagna and editor Sana Amanat have pulled off the impossible by creating a book that is groundbreaking in so many ways — it stars a female, Pakistani-American, teenage, Muslim hero — while still adhering to all the joyous parts of superhero tradition. It’s a book that feels both familiar and fresh.
I’m thankful that the Carol Corps are poised to grow in number now that “Captain Marvel” is scheduled to hit theaters on my birthday in 2018. I fully plan on celebrating turning 34 with a Captain Marvel cake in the theater (New York City movie theater workers are pretty chill about outside food).
Every single X-Men fan out there has to be thankful for the arrival of Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a podcast that has become as essential in my weekly entertainment routine as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was back in its heyday. Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes are the first X-Men fans to ever make me question my self-proclaimed status as the Biggest X-Men Fan Alive, and I’m absolutely fine with handing my crown — which of course looks like Havok’s old silver head-rings — to them. Rachel and Miles are exactly who every super fan should model themselves after; they love and celebrate continuity while not letting it determine any story’s worth, they nitpick with playful enthusiasm as opposed to scornful contempt, and they have made it their mission to make the most impenetrable Marvel mythos accessible to new fans.
It’s a recent addition, but I’m also thankful for the #SaveStorm campaign. Just a week after writing about the Tumblr initiative to increase “Storm’s” disappointing sales, a full-on movement has emerged. The sites Vixen Varsity and Black Girl Nerds have done write-ups for the series starring the leading X-Man, and comiXology is now offering “Storm” #1 for free to those who use the code STORMCHASERS. Check it out, because I want to be thankful for twelve more issues of “Storm” come 2015.
I’m thankful that I have adventure comics that make me laugh. Comedy’s what I do in my other life, and I loved spending 2014 with the jerks of “Superior Foes of Spider-Man,” the rapid fire dialogue of “Quantum and Woody” and the hilarious derring-do of “Flash Gordon.” If you’re looking for hilarious comics done in the traditional mainstream monthly format, those are your best bets — especially if you find goats, giant bees and oversized wing-packs as hilarious as I do.
I’m thankful that there I got to enjoy four awesome solo series starring previously ensemble-based X-Men. “Magneto,” “Nightcrawler” “Storm” and “Cyclops” have all been so different yet so enjoyable since their launch. No need to repeat gush about them, since I did so already back in September.
Continuing on the X-Men front, I’m stupid thankful for Evan Peters’ portrayal of Quicksilver on the big screen in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Sure, Fox’s Pietro was a bit different from the character I thoroughly enjoyed way back when he starred in the ’90s “X-Factor” series, but those differences don’t diminish what we got. We got a character that was instantly charismatic and managed to captivate audiences with just a handful of successive — and successful — scenes. The thing I really love, though? The thing I’m really thankful for? Quicksilver proved everyone wrong. He was the character we all made fun of as soon as we saw his retro-hipster gizmo’d out look — myself included. The power of Peters’ performance and the stunning special effects used to bring his super speed to life overcame everyone’s doubt and turned a previously derided costume into one of the most cosplayed characters I saw this year.
I’m thankful for a number of things in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I’m thankful that Glenn Close and Karen Gillen got to chip away at and flat-out break through glass ceilings as bad ass boss women that were, respectively, in charge of an entire fleet of space cops and — for the first time ever in a Marvel Studios film — a genuine villain. Nova Prime and Nebula deserved more screentime, sure, but what we got was fantastic. I’m thankful that “Guardians of the Galaxy” depicted emotional affection between male-identifying characters, more so than in any Marvel movie to date. Yeah, we had the #ScienceBros, but a lot of there relationship has come more from fan head-canons than what we saw on the screen. In “Guardians,” we got to see Rocket and Groot have a deep friendship that culminated in the rough-talking raccoon shedding real tears over the apparent death of his friend. Then, to comfort him, Drax started petting him! While it’s definitely a humorous moment, it’s also incredibly touching and a great example that even the most macho of macho heroes can let their guard down and be emotionally available to other people. I’m also thankful that I got to Do The Groot to the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” at my friend’s wedding reception.
I am thankful for literally every single second of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
I’m thankful that the fun of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally made its way to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in its second season, mostly due to the addition of Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse. She dominates every single scene she’s in with an attitude and confidence befitting a character that’s an honest to god Avenger in the comics. Additionally, the show’s moved along at a rollicking pace as it leads to a big reveal that will potentially have major MCU ramifications. Whereas watching “S.H.I.E.L.D.” became more of a work necessity last season, the fan in me is actually excited about each new episode.
Also, I know next to nothing about “The Flash” but I’m still thankful for that TV show. Flash fans, how are you holding it together? You have a great television series on the air based on your favorite character (or at least an iteration of your favorite superhero) that isn’t afraid to introduce actual characters from the comic every single week. You’re going to get Gorilla Grodd at some point this season! I have so little invested in this character or corner of the DCU and yet I get excited on behalf of Flash fans every time I see this show wear its source material with pride.
Additionally, I’m thankful that DC has series I enjoy reading every month. I’m shocked that I’m reading and digging to Superman comics (“Action Comics” and “Superman”) every month. I don’t know what “Gotham Academy” is doing or where it’s going, but I find its art and unfolding narrative utterly fascinating. As a book I picked up on a whim, “Grayson” has become an absolute surprise for me; issue #3, “The Gun Goes Off,” was a standout issue for me that caught me completely off guard. And now we have “Batgirl,” a series that is two issues into a new creative team’s story and already feels like a definitive run.
I’m thankful for Dark Horse Comics’ new line of “Alien” comics from a collective of Portland-based creators (Paul Tobin, Josh Williamson, Chris Roberson, Chris Sebela and Kelly Sue DeConnick). “Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone,” “Aliens: Fire and Stone,” “Predator: Fire and Stone” and “Prometheus: Fire and Stone” are all unspooling in a nonlinear yet cohesive fashion unlike anything I’ve encountered in comics before. They’re also downright terrifying and capture tense atmosphere and survival horror that makes the original “Alien” one of my favorite movies of all time. This Dark Horse event even has me wanting to revisit “Prometheus,” a film that filled me with so much rage in the theater. That’s saying something.
I’m incredibly thankful for the final page of Image Comics’ “Southern Bastards” #4. The series by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour hit me like a sack of RC Colas when it debuted over the summer, and I wrote a pretty personal JAM about how the southern noir series resonates with me. Still, my one reservation about the series was that it was as white as parts of the south unquestionably are. I loved everything the Jasons were doing but kinda wanted a minority character to pick up the fight against the book’s socially regressive low-lives; honestly, I wanted Earl Tubbs to be gay. Then, on the last page of #4, we get our first glimpse of what may be our new series lead — Earl’s half-black Army daughter. If “Southern Bastards” becomes a revenge series with a woman of color lead in 2015, then I already have a spot reserved on next year’s THANKS-JAM.
On a more serious note, I’m thankful that this felt like the year that we finally got to talk about a very important topic — sexy superhero dudes. Sure, the conversation was started in response to a rather ridiculous variant cover for “Spider-Woman” #1, but that cover led me to mock-up some sexy male hero variant covers using art from the old “Marvel Swimsuit Specials.” I’m thankful that CBR let — Let? Nay, encouraged! — me publish a list of my top 10 comic book character crushes, and I’m glad Foggy Nelson’s Wikipedia page acknowledges his champion status. I’m grateful and surprised at how many people approached me at cons this year and told me how much they enjoyed that piece.
But I’m really thankful that Joe Quinones agreed to draw a commission for me that mashed my two most mentioned articles of 2014 together in one illustration. I’m thankful for Marvel Swimsuit Special Foggy Nelson. Note: I’m also thankful Joe let me throw my own slapdash colors on it — I am thankful for my ability to try!
Things have been hit or miss lately, but on the whole 2014 has been a pretty rad year for comics. Fingers crossed the last month keeps things positive.
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts Matt & Brett Love Comics, writes for the sketch comedy podcast Left Handed Radio, and makes videos for the Upright Citizens Brigade as a member of UCB1. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).
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