a KC Column by KC Carlson
The Marvel Universe seemed to be in good hands over the last few weeks, due to their younger heroes stepping up and taking charge. In at least one case, they came to to the rescue of more senior, experienced heroes after being rejected by them. There seems to be a youth movement happening in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe these days, so I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite “kids”.
In All-New, All-Different Avengers #6, Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar wrap up their first story arc with the ANAD Avengers team facing down the 2016 version of Kang the Conqueror and a seemingly corrupt Vision (which would certainly tie into the creepy, whackadoodle things going on in The Vision solo title). Even though “fired” (Ms. Marvel) and blackmailed by the Vision (Nova), these estranged Avengers kids get together and figure out something’s seriously wrong with this new team. With the new-to-this-earth (I’ll explain later…) (No, he won’t!) Miles Morales Spider-Man being real smart a couple of times, the team brings down Kang and restores the Vision by the end of what will be the first ANAD Avengers TPB (out in late April at your favorite comic shop or mail-order service).
New titles Nova and Spider-Man (starring the aforementioned Miles Morales) also released good issues recently. The former continues the story of the return (or non-return) of Nova’s long-lost father by Sean Ryan, Cory Smith, and Scott Hanna. Earth’s new Nova Sam Alexander has been one of Marvel’s best reads over the past few years, and tracking down trades or back issues of the previous run of the character would not be a waste of your time!
WAIT… THERE’S MORE THAN ONE SPIDER-MAN TITLE?
Considering that Peter Parker hasn’t been a kid in a long time — running multi-national corporations will age you rapidly — it’s great fun to see Miles Morales transition into the ANAD Marvel Universe (after the demise of his own Ultimate Universe in the finally completed pages of Secret Wars). Miles is such a great character, and it’s so cool to finally see him interact with the long-standing traditional Marvel Universe. Issue #2 of his new series (by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli) gives us the “between the pages” goings-on of how Miles initially hooks up with the main Avengers team. (I also loved the chibi versions of the two Spider-Guys chatting.)
But if you wanna see teenage Peter Parker coping with the stresses of superheroing and keeping one step ahead of Aunt May, Marvel’s giving you that again too! Spidey is a new ongoing by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw telling all-new stories set during Peter Parker’s high school years. It’s a comic sure to drive hardcore continuity geeks crazy, as characters created over 50 years ago mix with those from more recent times. More tellingly, this teen Parker now has to deal with social media and cellphone cameras everywhere, but Aunt May still makes wheatcakes the old-fashioned way!
MUTANTS TO THE LEFT OF ME… SPACEMEN TO MY RIGHT…
There is still plenty of youthful mutant activity as well. The time-displaced original X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl Angel, Iceman, and Beast) are still running around the ANAD Marvel Universe, in the new started-over-with-#1 All-New X-Men title. (Although Jean Grey has split off from the others to run around with another time-displaced mutant: Old Man Logan in the pages of Extraordinary X-Men.) Laura Kinney (better known as X-23 and now the All-New Wolverine) has also joined the All-New team, as well as appearing in her own solo title. She hasn’t got as many titles as the old dead Logan (sniff) character did, but give Marvel time…
There’s plenty of other adventures of younger folks in the ANAD Marvel Universe: Take for instance, the new solo Star-Lord series by Sam Humphries and Javier Garron (with awesome covers by Dave Johnson). If you thought that this title would be about the adventures of Captain Peter Quill of the Guardians of the Galaxy — you would be totally wrong. The title actually presents the adventures of teenage Peter Quill stealing starcraft and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, both qualities of which would follow him into adulthood — but here you’re seeing him do these things for the first time. (And it’s kinda weird to learn that he never really gets any better at it — at least so far.) Have to admit, I didn’t expect these kinds of stories in a solo Star-Lord title, but so far, I’m really enjoying them.
AMADEUS CHO… SOOOOPER GENIUS!
Teenager Amadeus Cho, one of the perennial “smartest persons in the Universe” introduced several years back, palled around with the Hulk and Hercules for a while and eventually became one of the Illuminati. He now stars in the new comic The Totally Awesome Hulk (by his co-creator Greg Pak and artist Frank Cho) as the title character. Truth in labeling laws require me to tell you that Amadeus is not “Totally Awesome” — although this book is, even if it’s still a mystery about just what’s going on here and what happened to Bruce Banner. But we’re about to find out in issue #4 — out later this month! (Hope you didn’t miss Fin Fang Foom in #3!) And, man, can that Cho guy draw giant monsters! Unfortunate about his women, however…
I’m not really sure where Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is ultimately going, but so far writers Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare and artist Natacha Bustos have got my attention. It’s your typical love story between a genius nerd girl and 20-foot-tall lobster-red dinosaur. I can’t wait for the you-know-its-coming return of Devil’s first friend — the magnificent Moon Boy, whom we only think we saw killed in the first issue. Quite the triangle. Romance comics have sure changed since the 1950s and ‘60s (like being virtually extinct). Oh no! Don’t say “extinct” around Devil! This book is either like or completely unlike the cut-from-the-same-weird-cloth as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, depending on how (or why) you read your comic books.
HASN’T PITTSBURGH HAD ENOUGH TRAGEDY?
Starbrand and Nightmask, huh? Are people still actually nostalgic about the New Universe, after all this time? Still, it’s pretty easy to separate this new title by Greg Weisman and Domo Stanton from all that old stuff (while retaining the basic premises from the New Universe). It will be be interesting to see if this gains any traction going forward. I like the fact that this title seems to be mostly about whether two college-age heroes actually have the time for super-heroics and getting a degree before flunking out. That’s a cool premise. There are also a lot of cool supporting characters to watch. I’ll be very interested to see how this one plays out over time. While Yasmine Putri’s cover for #1 is very attractive, its “happy-go-lucky heroes” appearance actually does a disservice to the series, because that’s only a teeny, tiny part of the premise here.
Finally, I also find it amusing that two of Marvel’s most famous (former) youngsters are headlining Marvel’s current mini-event Avengers: Assault on Pleasant Hill. Marvel’s (almost) first kid-sidekick Bucky Barnes (AKA The Winter Soldier and former Captain America) — and the guy who turned kid-sidekicking into an actual career (several, actually) — Rick Jones — both seem to be major players in this so-far creepily excellent crossover event. (There’s another big surprise at the end of Avengers: Assault on Pleasant Hill: Alpha #1, although not specifically teen oriented, so why would I talk about it here?)
MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD…
While we can’t really in good conscience call them “kids”, both Johanna and I were very impressed with the students we met from the Comics and Sequential Art classes in the Entertainment Design program at the School of Art and Design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, a week or so ago. Both of us were involved in meeting future comic book artists and writers, critiquing their works, and spending some extra time talking with a few students who gave us a personal tour of the area and the fantastic facilities at the school.
Besides the obvious classrooms, there were huge, huge studios and workshops for the production of practically any artistic endeavor — from sculpting to painting to video game design. We both got the opportunity to critique portfolios one-on-one with six individual students, as well as participate in a huge classroom discussion/critique of their current assignment. They each brought in several pages of a graphic novel being produced by the group over the entire semester.
There was a wide range of talent on display, and we actually didn’t have a lot to add, as they were all very proficient in self-critiquing themselves in a group atmosphere. It was an amazing learning session for everybody. Further great thanks to our most gracious host (and professor) Ursula Murray Husted, who also moonlights as a graphic novelist (Looking Up).
KC CARLSON: Yes, this column title is also the title and lyric of “another valuable Pete Townshend recording”, which is also an early single by The Who — whom I’m hopefully seeing perform in Milwaukee in about five days. (The concert has already been postponed once… None of us are getting any younger…) It seemed very apropos of something after my (and Johanna’s) adventure in academia recently. But, I Can’t Explain exactly why…
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Contest: How many completely made-up words appear in this column? I’ll get you started: Wazkoozy! The irritating part: There are no prizes for winning. I blame society.