Marvel & Espionage

Marvel’s main focus has been on the superheroes. Agents of Shield does have a slight focus on the normal people but for the most part, they’ve been focused on the rise of the Inhumans. That makes sense given the Inhumans show they are developing.

Why can’t they do a larger focus on the characters that help make up the superhero teams that don’t have powers?

Marvel has a wide variety of characters who are known spies and assassins. Bobbi Morse, Black Widow, and Hawkeye (Kate and Clint) to just name a few. If you haven’t read their comics, I highly recommend checking them out. Of course then there’s our oldest spy and founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Peggy Carter.

Espionage movies are popular with the most well-known spy being none other than James Bond. He is followed closely by a host of other spy films like Kingsmen, the Bourne series, the Mission: Impossible series and the list goes on from a simple Google search.Why are we so enamored with spy films?

Some of this has to do with the blind belief that our security organizations know what they’re doing. History might dictate otherwise of course. It might also be the escapist idea that there is more happening in the world than what we know. Somewhere there’s a car chase happening through the streets of some European city because an operative has been compromised. Someone is dropping out of a helicopter onto a snow-capped mountain to break into a hidden hideout of an enemy.

It all sounds like a grand adventure.

Maybe it’s time some of the adventures are given greater depth. Superheroes and the actions they take against an enemy are at a macro level. Their world knows when there is an attack on a city or when an enemy rises from the shadows. It’s a little hard to ignore when aliens are flying down from a wormhole in the sky and turning New York City into a giant game of Galaga.

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By having a series of movies or a television show that focuses on what happens with characters like Kate Bishop, Clint Barton, Black Widow, or Bobbi Morse, then it expands the universe and shows the secret side of things. Granted, I understand that Agents of SHIELD is supposed to be just that, but they have been slowly taking that in a different direction with more and more Inhumans cropping up.

Perhaps once Inhumans comes out, they’ll take the series back to its espionage roots. If they want to do a greater foray into the espionage genre, pulling in the Hawkeyes and Black Widow would be an excellent way to do it.

Marvel has a lot happening so I can imagine they’re busy planning the different phases of the MCU.

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I’m not as well-versed in the espionage genre, but fellow writer and blogger, Katie, is. 

Ten Comics that Should Be Shows/Movies

According to Goodreads, I’ve read a lot of comics in the past eight months. It seemed like a solid time to go back through my comic loves and figure out what stories should get a chance on the big screen or a TV show.

10. LumberJanes
This is the last because it’s already being worked on for a film. I think it could easily be turned into a great show. I don’t think a movie would do the comics justice. They’ve had Supernatural run for far too many seasons, so I think it’s time to give the LumberJanes a chance to shine. The girls of LumberJanes are funny, intelligent, and not afraid to be themselves. Plus they’re super queer, and I think we need more queer people of color.

9. Spider-Gwen
Gwen Stacey deserves more than just being killed off for Peter’s growth. She’s smart, and her comic features a girl who, much like Peter Parker, ends up with powers and tries her best to be the hero the world needs. And the hero that Peter Parker aspired to be. This is a comic worth reading, and definitely, one worth getting an opportunity on the big screen.

8. Paper Girls
Everyone is fawning over Stranger Things so why not have a show that focuses on four adolescent girls that stumble upon quite the odd series of events? Less funny, and more serious, this comic is worth reading if you aren’t already.

7. Black Widow
Natasha Romanov’s story should be Marvel’s entry into the spy thriller genre. Her story is beautifully illustrated by Phil Noto and is a great way to showcase what Natasha does when she’s not with the Avengers. Plus, who wouldn’t want to know what happens in Budapest?

6. Kitty Pryde
Kitty has long been a character loved by X-Men fans, myself included. She’s been pushed to the background for the X-Men films, which is a huge shame. Kitty has held an important role in the X-Men canon, and I think that’s long been forgotten since many of her important roles have gone to Wolverine (cause they’re actually BFFs) in the movies. Maybe it is too late now to give her more on the big screen, but if Marvel wants to continue with the X-Men, she’d be a great character to give a solo film.

5. America Chavez
Ms. America Chavez recently got her own solo comic, which has been much demanded by fans of her. She’s a powerful badass who can punch holes between worlds, fly, and has super strength. Not to mention she’s an alien. And super gay. Next to Ms. Marvel, American is another character we need right now. Not to mention America’s variant covers are some of the best I’ve seen.

4. Ultimate Spider-Man
Miles Morales is a character that I love and feel should get more attention. Much like Peter, Miles is a kid that gets spidey powers and starts to save his home from the local baddies that seem to show up in New York City. He breathes fresh life into a superhero moniker that has gone stale with Peter Parker.

3. Silk
Cindy Moon aka Silk is a Korean-American who is a step out of touch with her generation. Her nickname is “Analog” by her boss. She’s not someone that initially wanted her powers, and I think that’s an important metaphor for many aspects of life. Cindy spends her time working like Peter Parker and figuring out the world ten years after she locked herself away. If you’re not reading Silk, she’s worth reading about.

2. Faith
I recently read this, shared to me by Katie. And it was excellent. Faith should get so much more attention as a character, and a superhero. She is beautiful and a character who embodies body positivity and how important it is to have not only diverse characters but also characters with diverse bodies. Not everyone has that Dorito-chip body like Chris Evans, or the classic curves of ScarJo. You need superheroes like Faith.

1. Ms. Marvel
I’m not the only one that has put Kamala Khan at the top of my list. She’s a Pakistani-American who has taught me so much about her culture. Not to mention Kamala also teaches about finding the balance between two cultures for second-generation immigrant children; and then the triumvirate, her superpowers. Kamala Khan is a character that people need to see on the screen because she would change the minds of those afraid of immigrants.

Honorable Mentions: Rocket Girl, Bitch Planet, The Wicked + The Divine, Rat Queens, Nimona.

What character would you want to see get a TV series or a movie? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Comic Review: Operation: S.I.N. – Agent Carter

Agent Peggy Carter is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe. She’s a smart, formidable opponent that shouldn’t be messed with.

Her television show on ABC, Marvel’s Agent Carter showed us more about her than her movie short, or her important role in Captain America: The First Avenger. Hayley Atwell has done a phenomenal job in her role as our favorite S.S.R. Agent and S.H.I.E.L.D. Director.

Operation: S.I.N. – Agent Carter takes place in 1952 when Peggy and Howard head to Russia to figure out what a mysterious energy source is.

agentcart2015001-int3-1-18272This comic starts out with quite the bang. That’s all I want to say without giving away anymore of the story.

What I love most about this comic is another glimpse at Agent Carter and her missions. She’s not just the future Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also a field agent. And her field agent skills mean she won’t leave anyone on her team behind, even if she knows they aren’t completely on her team.

This comic i could be better tied to the television shows and movies. Hydra showed up again like it was some great mystery, when Peggy would have known who they were. And same with Howard. So that aspect was a little thin. It felt as though the writers didn’t pay attention to anything that happened in Captain America: The First Avenger.

I’d recommend this to anyone that just wants a quick read about Peggy and Howard off in Russia on another grand adventure. If you can ignore some glaring plot holes, snag this for a low cost comic to read another adventure that includes our favorite SSR Agent and Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Comic Review: She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters isn’t your average lawyer. She’s also She-Hulk, thanks to a life-saving blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner.

Now she has to balance her superhero life with representing her clients in court. And racking up more enemies than just those she beats before a judge.

In She-Hulk vol. 1: Law and Order we meet Jen at a point in her life when she feels like she’s on top of it all, and about to get a promotion. Except she doesn’t. And suddenly she finds herself quitting to start her own law office.

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Credit: Charles Soule (writer), Javier Pulido (illustrator) and Ron Wimbley (illustrator) for She-Hulk.

I didn’t know very much about Jen Walters, so this was a great comic to start off. Her leadership skills in various super teams are covered, so you get a sense of her background. You get to see her personality shine through, and that if you were ever in a legal bind, she’s the woman you’d want fighting for you.

Of the cases you do see Jen work on, she also brings up what she calls the “Blue File.” Its a case she doesn’t remember being served for, but has record of. She and a mix of heroes and villains are being prosecuted on the case. Jen can’t remember the incident, and neither can anyone else on the defense. I won’t go into any more details, but let’s just say that file needs to stay in the back of a locked file cabinet forever.

There’s a few cameos by Patsy Walker (aka Hellcat), and Jen takes a brief jaunt to visit her dear lawyer friend and Defender, Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil).

Charles Soule crafts a great story that doesn’t require all the background knowledge, making this a great comic to start with in order to get acquainted with Jen Walters.

I love Kevin Wada’s cover art, and some of the pages in between issues in volume one. They’re beautifully done, and I wish all of the art had been done in that style. But I can also understand that style would have its limitations.

Javier Pulido and Ron Wimberly both did art for the comic. The style of their art suits the comic. My only thought is that sometimes the art seems more angular than other points in the comic, which was important for several reasons I can’t reveal. So it looks like you’ll have to read it to find out.

I can definitely recommend She-Hulk vol. 1: Law and Order. This is a great introductory comic to Jennifer Walters and her fight as a lawyer and superhero. I can’t wait to continue this series and find out more about the blue file, and the other clients or cases she takes.

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Credit: Ken Wada for She-Hulk

 

Comic Review: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

I’ve anticipated reading Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur since it was first announced at the Women in Marvel panel at NYCC in 2015. That’s how excited I’ve been to read this comic.

It combines my too favorite things: stories about smart little girls, and dinosaurs.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is about Lunella. She’s been touted as the smartest character in Marvel’s universe. Pretty cool, right?

After some mishaps, Lunella ends up gaining a dinosaur friend that bursts (literally) into her life. In short order, Lunella realizes that having a dinosaur around is great, but a huge complication when you live in a city.

Devil Dinosaur came with some not so friendly pals, who are causing a huge stir in New York City. They call themselves the Killer-Folk, and will mug you for everything you’ve got before you have the chance to run.

8Amy Reeder captured my attention with this comic. She hits important notes about kids and being a kid that we might forget as we grow older.

Lunella is a gifted kid. We see this in how bored she is at school. She gets in trouble because she’s not challenged enough, or she gets bullied because she knows a lot. I relate to this 100%. Being curious as a kid can be good, but it can also be damning because it leads to being taunted and teased by classmates.

Not everyone is unfortunate to experience bullying in the classroom. But being teased like this is what kept me quiet in class. It was easier to keep my nose in a book than speak up when I knew the answer.

I applaud Reeder at her ability to handle the difficulties Lunella faces as she tries to navigate growing up. Even Lunella’s supportive parent’s struggle with making sure their daughter still has a safe, enjoyable childhood while also being challenged.

If you haven’t picked up Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, you should. Its funny, and thoughtful. Plus, who doesn’t love a dinosaur romping through modern New York City? The trade has been out since July 5, so you can read issues 1-6. I’m excited to continue reading about Lunella and her adventures.

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Comic Review: X-Campus

Now that I’m back from Boston Comic-Con, I’ve got plenty to read, and even more comics to write about.

One of the first trades I picked up for the weekend was X-Campus.

I’ve always been a big fan of the X-Men, so I thought this would be an interesting read, plus I got it cheap in one of the many “Buy one get two free” sales happening on the floor. These are the kinds of sales I’m about because you pay the highest cover price between the three books, and then you get the other two for free. Not a bad way to deal, right? And if you can’t find three books, you’ll often get the one or two you do find for 50% off.

So what’s X-Campus about? Well, if you understanding fanfiction alternate universes, this is one of them. Welcome to the X-Men College/High School AU.

I wish I were joking.

xcampus1vAt the start of the volume, we find ourselves with Anna Raven aka Rogue. She’s struggling with whatever happened to her boyfriend when they touched, and has no idea what’s going on. Mystique drafts her to the university, and suddenly we’re meeting Hank McCoy, Ororo Munroe, Jean Grey, Professor Xavier, Bobby Drake, Scott Summers, and Logan.

Yup. The gang is all here. And they’re confused about the changes happening to their body. As if puberty wasn’t bad enough.

A bunch of other X-Men and members of The Brotherhood show up as the early works of both groups start to form.

This comic is so cheesy. I expected this, but I think all the cheese made me lactose intolerant.

Honestly, the cartoon, X-Men: Evolution handled the origin stories for the characters, and establishing the universe much better than this comic. There were some confusing plot holes that one would need some background knowledge of the characters to understand some of the subtleties of the character developments.

I can only recommend X-Campus if you want a good laugh, and maybe if you like reading alternate universes that probably are done better in fanfiction. Rather than read this, go watch X-Men: Evolution. At least they managed to handle the characters and the Apocalypse storyline the best.

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Comic Review: Storm

Storm has been part of the X-Men since 1975. She’s has quite the history that has taken her all over the world, and even to Asgard. Ororo has led the X-Men a time or two, and been a queen. In knowing that, I was excited to put her solo series on my list.

In the beginning of Storm: Make it Rain, Storm is out stopping a tsunami. Yup.

Hank McCoy is holding down the fort at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and Storm is saving a small village from a tsunami.

9e451d7c590cc593fe2a3bd19a76e55b-_sx640_ql80_ttd_And that speaks well to her character. She’s always been more of a doer for others. Ororo is all about getting her hands dirty instead of waiting for politics to sort themselves out. Cause that can take a while.

Storm is always striving for a better more peaceful way. Something that will stem any bloodshed; mutant, civilian, or otherwise. She wants peace for the world, and will do anything she can to achieve it for small communities, or big cities.

Remember that tsunami I mentioned before? Well, she stops it. And much of the action slows from there too. While there is action, its not page after page of fighting. A lot of the first volume is Storm working through past encounters, and past relationships. Which is important for overall character development.

The art changes hands a few times between Victor Ibanez and Matteo Buffagni, and sometimes it seems between pages and not just individual issues. Sometimes its pretty flawless, but others you’ll notice subtle differences.

Greg Pak did such an amazing job with writing Storm. While there isn’t as much action, instead there is a lot of character emotion and depth. Pak takes such a rich and vast history of the protagonist, and weaves it beautifully so that you don’t have to know everything to know what has made her into who you’re reading. Storm has weathered so much in her life, and that’s evident by how she handles a variety of interactions throughout the five issues collected in volume one.

If you’re interested in the X-Men and mutants, particularly about Storm, then Storm: Make it Rain is for you. There is so much depth with her character that is shown within the pages. Its well worth the read.

 

Comic Review: Princess Leia

Star Wars is all the rage right now. They’ve finished filming Episode VIII, Rogue One releases December 16, and we’re all coming up with theories to answer the big question on our mind: who is Rey’s family?

I grew up watching Star Wars thanks to my mom, so its a franchise near and dear to my heart. It even inspired my next tattoo.

Marvel started producing some Star Wars comics that fill in some gaps of our favorite characters, like Darth Vader, Poe Dameron, and Kanan. It seemed only fitting that the Princess Leia comic got added to the list.

Star Wars: Princess Leia takes place after Star Wars: A New Hope. Luke and Han head off on fullmissions after the awards ceremony, and Leia is quick to head out herself. After her home planet was blown up by the Death Star, she’s eager to collect the orphans of Alderaan in order to preserve their culture. Leia sets out with another child of the planet, pilot Evaan Verlaine. Evaan was directly mentored by Leia’s mother, Queen Breha Organa, and wants to help Leia find and protect the remaining Alderaan survivors. In fact, Evaan was the one that mentioned the Galactic Empire was hunting down the remaining Alderaan citizens.

Together (with R2-D2 in tow), they defy the Rebel leaders and start to pick up survivors on Naboo, and then to a hideout on Sullust.

There’s shootouts, dogfights, and of course plenty of sass from our future General.

Being able to see what Leia was up to between the film timelines was heartwarming. Not only do you get to see her be sassy towards those around her, but you also get to experience her diplomatic side. Leia proves to be a compassionate leader that cares so deeply for her people.

I loved seeing the adventures that Leia was up to between the film verse.

Mark Waid does a great job with the story in making it interesting and providing us wih a different glimpse at Leia. Also introducing us to Evaan. That was awesome.

And Todd Dodson has some great art. He captured the action and excitement of the story written by Waid.

If you enjoy Star Wars and want to learn more about our favorite Princess and future General, pick up Star Wars: Princess Leia.

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Comic Review: Silk vol. 0

When I was making the reading list, one of the characters I was most anxious to read about was Silk. Following that anticipation, I quickly moved finding her trade paperback into the top ten to find. And I wasn’t disappointed.

You’re probably wondering why I was so interested to find out more about Silk. For one thing, she fits into my diverse character list that I hope to read about next summer. And two, she’s another spidey-type like Miles and Spider-Gwen. What’s sold me most about Silk has been her backstory.

If you haven’t figured out by my last name, I’m Asian (Japanese to be more specific). I have a mixed background of Japanese/Hawaiian/Filipino on my mother’s side, and European on my father’s. I’ve come out pretty even in the genetics department. Pop culture doesn’t pay much attention to anyone that’s Asian. They get a massive stereotype thrown at them (ninjas), or seen as the “smart-type.” Its been difficult to find role models that look like me.

But that’s where Silk comes in. And she fits the bill of being the superhero role model I wanted as a kid.

silk-1-panelIn Silk vol 0: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon we meet Cindy. She seems to be in her early to mid-20s and is trying to get used to being a superhero while also relearning her powers. After being in isolation for 10 years, she’s a bit rusty. Between fighting crime with wonked out silk-sense (kind of like spidey sense), readjusting to social situations, and Spider-Man swinging by to keep her company, Cindy has a lot on her plate. Cindy is also looking for her family after not seeing them since she elected to go into isolation until there was a cure for her powers, or until she has learned how to use them.

The art done by Stacey Lee is amazing. Along with the other artists on this project, Annapaola Martello, Tana Ford. Ian Herring does a great job making all of the art pop as the colorist.

Robbie Thompson has done such a great job writing Silk, and focusing on a variety of issues that Cindy faces – even in just the first volume. Isolation for a decade has its drawbacks;  Cindy regularly has commentary on being back in the world and how noisy or busy it has become. And then the constant worry of maintaining her work attendance because she has a fear that she’s going to get fired.

If you’re looking for someone other than Peter Parker that has been bitten by that radioactive spider, check out Silk vol. 1: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon. I recommend this series for anyone that wanted a superhero that looked like them as a kid. Cindy is definitely a woman to watch out for.

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Comic Review: Nomad: Girl Without a World

I found Nomad: Girl Without a World while perusing Half-Price Books’ online comic selection. It was a comic that fell right into my lap for the summer reading list, and it was pretty cheap, so even better.

I read a bit more into Nomad because it wasn’t a comic I had heard much about. The synopsis had mentioned something about Bucky and Cap, so it seemed like a pretty good match to me.

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Rikki Barnes, aka Nomad, is the one in blue and yellow, front and center.

Written by Sean McKeever and Ed Brubaker, Nomad is about Rebecca “Rikki” Barnes who ends up in a different universe. In her universe, she was Cap’s plucky sidekick, Bucky, and her nemesis was her brother John. The universe she finds herself in, Cap has died, and she never existed.

Well, if that’s not a confusing world to land in, I don’t know what is. Then again, this is a comic universe.

Nomad sounded like a really interesting story. Rikki is adjusting to her life in a world that’s unfamiliar. She was a gender bent Bucky – which is an interesting idea. And Rikki is determined to meet the new Cap to find out who took up his mantle.

There’s some cameos by the Young Avengers (sans America Chavez), Black Widow, Falcon, and Captain America.

I had a lot of high hopes for this comic. There’s a lot going for it. Unfortunately, the aspects that make the comic sound interesting aren’t carried out very well. I was dropped into a lot of confusing storylines with very little explanation. And by the end of the volume, I was left with a lot of questions. Overall, there was a lot going on.

The writing has so many large plots to continue in later issues and volumes, but still doesn’t answer the basic questions: How’d Rikki get to that new universe? Why did Cap die – and does that have to do with the treason mentioned by some characters?

Maybe I’m missing a lot of information that’s featured in some other Cap universes. But shouldn’t that information be filled in via some well placed flashbacks? At least then we’d have a pretty good basis for Rikki Barnes as Nomad, particularly if you didn’t read Onslaught: Reborn (thanks Wikipedia!).

I can’t necessarily recommend Nomad: Girl Without a World because I don’t think it did a very good job at telling Rikki Barnes’ story. She deserved better.