Posts Tagged ‘Jason Aaron’

My Top 10 Superhero Comic Books of 2017

December 20, 2017

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It’s been an interesting year for superhero comic books. DC’s been trucking along with “Rebirth,” telling a lot of fun stories in the mix. Marvel’s been more split, with half the line spending a considerable part of the year embroiled in weird Nazi/Hydra antics while several of the titles that avoided Secret Empire put out some very enjoyable adventures. When I sat down to figure out my favourite superhero comics of the year, I was amused to see my list split down the middle, half DC and half Marvel! While I’d definitely say that DC had the better year overall, qualitywise, Marvel’s good books were VERY good.

Before we get to the list, though, I should point out that it’s been a great year for non-superhero comics, too. The cape books are my main focus here, of course, but I’ve been enjoying all sorts of other titles. More specifically, Bitch Planet: Triple Feature was excellent, as was the latest “season” of Sex Criminals from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. I’ve also been enjoying Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams, the latest volume of George O’Connor’s Olympians was fantastic as always, and Paper Girls from Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang remains gorgeous if all over the place, storywise. I’m always down for Cliff Chiang art! There’s no lack of wonderful comics out there right now across all sorts of genres and styles.

But now, onto my favourite superhero comic books of the year! Check out the list, and let me know your favourites from the past year in the comments:

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10) Batman by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and more

I’m reading Batman in trade so I’m a little bit behind, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I was leery of it initially, since the premises didn’t grab me. Superpowered heroes in Gotham? More Bane shenanigans? I didn’t think it’d be for me. Then I read the books and was quickly proved wrong. King and his excellent array of artists make it all work beautifully. And of course, I love the prominent role that Catwoman has in the run. She’s become a major player here, and while she and Batman are bad ass and cool, as always, compassion seems to be the core of both characterizations. It’s good stuff, and often beautifully drawn.

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9) Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

This book has been amazing for a while now, and it showed no signs of slowing down on that front in 2017. Is Ryan North still writing it? Is Erica Henderson still drawing it? Is Squirrel Girl still eating nuts and kicking butts? Then it’s going to remain great. And it has! North and Henderson bring so much heart and humour to the comic. It’s just a joy to read, and served as a most welcome counter to the bleak storylines that took over a lot of Marvel books this year. If you like delightful things, then go start reading Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

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8) Green Arrow by Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt, and more

I’ve enjoyed the stories in Green Arrow over the past year well enough, but I’ll be honest: The book made my Top 10 for Otto Schmidt alone. His art is SO GOOD. His pages just sing. The art isn’t terribly out there for a superhero book, but it’s absolutely unique and different and stands out from everything else on the stands right now. I think part of it is that he colors it himself, and everything on the page feels so cohesive and complimentary. It’s really remarkable stuff. Green Arrow cycles through a variety of artists, like most DC books right now, and while they’re all pretty solid, Schmidt’s work is just next level. I want him to draw every superhero now.

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7) All New Wolverine by Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk, Nik Virella, and more

Step aside, old Wolverine. You were fun while you lasted, but the new Wolverine is so much better. She’s got everything we expect from a Wolverine: claws, ferocity, a propensity for going after anyone who threatens her friends with a berserker rage. But instead of being a mopey guy who’s been around forever, she’s a cantankerous yet endearing young woman. Plus she’s assembled a great supporting cast over the course of this run. It’s a fun, exciting book, and I’m completely fine with never seeing the old Wolverine again now.

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6) Detective Comics by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Marcio Takara, and more

Team books can be a tricky thing. There are a lot of characters to manage, and a few always end up taking a backseat while a handful come to the fore. Tynion and his rotating teams of artists have struck an impressive balance here, largely by backseating the character you’d expect to see more than anyone else: Batman. He’s a key figure, but doesn’t dominate the book. Instead, Batwoman leads the team and the spotlight gets shared by Azrael, Batwing, Clayface, Orphan, and Spoiler. The degree of attention ebbs and flows, but no one goes too long without a good storyline or an important role. The book also manages to tell its own stories while weaving in and out of the bigger events at DC over the past year. It’s a solid Bat-team book that I always find myself looking forward to.

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5) Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and more

I’m a big fan of the classic Thor, but what Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have done with Jane Foster as Thor is far and away my favourite take on the character yet. It’s been a huge year for her, with an intergalactic war and darkness spreading through the nine realms, not to mention the return of Odinson and the emergence of the War Thor. But amid all of the epicness, the story of Jane battling cancer and sacrificing her well-being to be the hero the world, nay, the universe needs has been so beautifully told. The heart Aaron and Dauterman bring to their crazy action and adventure is what makes this one of the best books on the stands.

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4) Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka, Shea Fontana, Mirka Andolfo, Bilquis Evely, and more

Not right now, obviously. Wonder Woman has been garbage since James Robinson et al. took over a few months ago. But before that, the book was having a great year. The wrap up of the “Godwatch” and “The Truth” arcs was a powerful, well-executed conclusion to an excellent run that provided a much needed revitalization of Wonder Woman after a rough few years. Then we got “Heart of the Amazon,” which was an awesome team up between Diana and Etta Candy that pitted them against superpowered assassins and evil scientists. Now the book is about Wonder Woman and her brother and it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, but up until then it was a really great year of stories.

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3) Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads

People were raving about this book before the first issue even came out, and with all of that buzz building and building, I came into this with high expectations. Mister Miracle beat those expectations with ease. The first issue especially is just masterful storytelling. It’s intentionally disorienting yet it pulls you along, and when you finally realize what’s happening it’s a gut punch that is heartbreaking yet so perfect for the character. Subsequent issues have been fascinating in their own right. It’s a unique, compelling book that is a worthy vehicle for Mister Miracle and Big Barda, two of Jack Kirby’s best creations.

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2) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Takeshi Miyazawa, and more

Ms. Marvel has been stellar for years now. Introducing a Muslim, Pakistani-American, teen heroine was no mean feat, and yet the book has never taken a step wrong. And this year was no exception. Kamala went through a lot, both professionally and personally, and as the year went on the book began to echo a lot of the issues facing America as a whole in 2017. Ms. Marvel is grounded in our reality in a way most superhero books aren’t, and that led to some incisive storytelling that still paired beautifully with all of the usual fun and action we expect from the series.

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1) Hawkeye by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh, and more

The Fraction/Aja/Wu era of Hawkeye is easily one of the best superhero runs of the past decade, and set a massively high bar for any and all Hawkeye stories moving forward. Thompson, Romero, and Walsh have reached that bar and more with Kate Bishop’s new solo series. The book is an absolute joy, from Thompson’s sharp and hilarious dialogue to Romero and Walsh doing an amazing job with all of the archery action and comedic beats packed into each issue. Plus there’s some serious heart and pathos beyond all of the fun, with Kate dealing with some heavy stuff. Things are rarely cool and chill for a Hawkeye, as much as they may pretend otherwise. The book is a dang delight, each and every month, and I love it to bits.

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My Top 10 Favourite Comic Books of 2015

December 29, 2015

Now that the year is almost over, it’s a good time to look back at the comic books I most enjoyed this year. Usually I like to do an all new Top 10, focusing on my new favourites, but so many books stayed ridiculously good this year that my pull list hasn’t changed a lot. So we’ll go for a split, with half returning favourites and half new books that I’m all about. We’ll start with the former!

MY FIVE FAVOURITE COMIC BOOKS

It’s been a fantastic year for comics, and several of my best books from 2014 remain at the top of my list here at the end of 2015. My top books, in order, are:

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5) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky: The book is hilarious and great and surprisingly heartwarming, but what I love more than anything is the letter column. It’s the funniest thing I read each month, comics or otherwise.

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4) The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman: The series was a blast all year as Thor, and now that it’s been relaunched as The Mighty Thor the fun continues. I liked the initial mystery aspect of the book, but the reveal of Thor’s identity has led to some interesting angles and new storylines that are even more compelling.

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3) ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward: It’s a gender swapped take on The Odyssey in space. This concept could not be more up my alley, and the execution has been fascinating and gorgeous. And also informative! The essays in the backmatter are great, and are a fantastic compliment to the trippy main story.

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2) Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro: Feminism in space again. What can I say, I have a type. The Mighty Thor sort of fits that theme too, now that I think about it! Last year, I compared the first issue of Bitch Planet to a punch in the stomach but in the best way, and the series has continued as such throughout the year. While it’s often brutal, there’s a fury to the book that I love and that is much needed.

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1) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and others: This was my top pick last year, and it’s my top pick this year too. It’s just so good! I LOVE Kamala Khan, I love the world they’ve built around her in Jersey City, and I love that the book is classic superhero fun in a very fresh and new way. And now, Kamala’s made it through Secret Wars and is back in a relaunched title that continues her story in enjoyable new ways. Plus she’s an Avenger! 2015 was the year of Kamala, for sure.

MY FIVE FAVOURITE NEW COMIC BOOKS

The year also saw a bunch of new great books, from multiversal destructions to gals across various eras to a modern day crime lord. These were my favourite new books/revamps of 2015:

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5) Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic: This book is bananas, and I love it. I’ve been following Hickman since he relaunched Avengers and New Avengers a few years back, and while the buildup was impressive, the payoff is epic. This is the first event series in ages that I’ve really enjoyed, plus it’s also led to some great tie-ins, including A-Force, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, and Runaways.

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4) Catwoman by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, and David Messina: This storyline began in 2014, but it ran for most of this year and it was ridiculously good. Selina Kyle took over a crime family and tried to keep Gotham from falling into a gang war, with often tragic results. It was dark and tense and an absolutely fascinating new take on the character, and I was so disappointed when DC brought in a new creative team at the end of the year.

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3) Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang: It’s just so gorgeous. Regular readers will know that Cliff Chiang is my favourite artist, hands down, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Plus that Vaughan fellow is pretty good too, and he’s crafted a weird, mysterious story; we’re a few issues in, and I’m still not 100% sure what’s happening. I just know that it’s rad.

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2) The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon: The print edition of the book doesn’t start until January, but the digital version has been coming out for weeks and it’s GREAT. It’s a classic take on Wonder Woman and the Amazons but with several new, fun twists, and the first few issues have spent a lot of time establishing Themyscira and introducing us to a young Diana. Simultaneously cute and ominous, this is the best Wonder Woman book in years.

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1) DC Comics Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage, and more: When DC did their World War Two era “Bombshell” variant covers a while back, I thought it was kind of silly and unnecessary. But they were a hit, and now this series fleshes out the story behind the new designs, reimagining the war with scores of DC’s female heroes in the mix, and nary a male hero in sight. It’s so much fun and delightfully bad ass to see DC’s ladies working together to bust up Nazis, and I love how Bennett and her team of artists have added so much depth to what began as a line of pin-ups.

And those are my favourite books of the year! It’s all so much awesome. The comic book industry is an embarrassment of riches right now.

My Top 11 Comics Of 2014

December 31, 2014

I’ve been brainstorming my top comics of the year for a few weeks now, making notes when I thought of a book I really liked, and I’ve been slowly amassing a really decent list of titles. Then I sat down to figure out my top ten (which turned into a top eleven because there were too many good books!), going “Okay, I like this one the best, then this…” until I had a definite list. I did this entirely on gut feeling, based on how much I liked these books, with no agenda whatsoever. Here’s what I’ve ended up with: Seven of my top eleven books feature female writers and/artists, while my top eight books star female characters. I know I run women in comics stats and talk about increasing female representation in the industry all the time, but this gal-filled list was entirely unintentional. Ladies, real and fictional, have just been killing it this year.

So here are my top eleven comics for 2014. Now, I didn’t read everything, but I sure read a lot, and it was a great year for comics all around. Also, a quick note: I like to pick new books rather than just reiterate all of the things I liked last year. So Saga and Sex Criminals and everything else I talked about last year are still great, but this is an all new list of my favourite comics. Let’s get into it:

11) ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward

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Gender-swapped mythology is pretty much everything I could ever want in a comic book, and I’ve been really looking forward to this series, but I wasn’t prepared for how impactful it was to read a female Odysseus. I found it weirdly powerful to see her, and so many other women, at the center of such a legendary story. On top of that, it’s a really cool, crazy comic book. The first issue was a blast, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in 2015.

10) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

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This is the history of the world before our world, and it is big and bizarre and brilliant. I picked up this book on a lark at my local library, and I’m very glad I did. Technically it came out in late 2013, but the rules for this list aren’t terribly hard and fast. This book is hilarious, clever, fun, and most of all unique, and I highly recommend it.

9) East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

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Okay, so this is a Western, but it’s also science fiction, set in an alternate version of the United States and starring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. If you think that sounds awesome, you and I could probably be friends. And it IS awesome. It’s violent and bonkers and embraces all of its inspirations while doing completely new and fantastic things with them. It’s also absolutely gorgeous. I just grin from ear to ear when I read this book.

8) Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

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I fell out of the Thor loop a couple years ago after being a regular reader during Matt Fraction’s tenure, but I jumped back on board out of curiousity about the new female Thor and am loving it so far. The new Thor trying to figure out how to be Thor in the midst of battles with Frost Giants is all kinds of fun, and I’m enjoying the slow burn on the big mystery of who this new Thor actually is. Plus that costume is super cool. The writing and art are both solid, and it’s been a guaranteed good time each month.

7) Batgirl: Futures End #1 by Gail Simone and Javier Garron

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I was not at all a fan of the “Futures End” event, and I didn’t really keep up with Gail Simone’s Batgirl, but this issue promised the return of both the Stephanie Brown AND Cass Cain Batgirl, so I was all over this issue. It did not disappoint. It was so much fun to have both characters back, along with a new Batgirl, however briefly. While it was just a one-shot set in a hypothetical future, this comic had loads of heart and humour along with some much-missed characters.

6) Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

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There’s only been one issue of Bitch Planet thus far, but oh wow what a first issue it was. It was a total punch in the face, in the best way. The book is set in a not too distant future where non-compliant women are sent to a prison planet. It’s a feminist riff on exploitation films with sharp, cutting writing and gritty, beautiful art. It’s brutal but thought provoking, depressing but hilarious. If you haven’t read it yet, you absolutely should.

5) Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez

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This should have been awful. I generally hate Spider-Man, so an event with ALL of the Spider-People was the last thing I was interested in. And bringing back Gwen Stacey just seemed ridiculous. Then I saw the amazing costume, and that Gwen was in a band called the Mary Janes, and I was intrigued. I loved the book, loved the character, loved the writing and the art. Everything about it was fun and great and I’m so excited for the new ongoing series. No one was cooler this year than Spider-Gwen.

4) This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

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As someone who spent their summers at a family cottage, This One Summer was totally up my alley to begin with. The engaging story and lovely artwork perfectly capture everything that’s weird and wonderful about summers at the cottage, and on top of that it’s a beautifully told story of friendship and adolescence. It’s no wonder that it won a Governor General Award; it’s richly deserved.

3) Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke Allen

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Friendship to the max! Lumberjanes is an absolute blast to read, every single month. You’d think that gals in a summer camp getting up to whacky hijinks might get a little bit stale after a while, but each issue is more fun than the last. The book is chockfull of hilarious adventures, but the core of the title is the friendships of all the girls and their commitment to each other. If this book doesn’t make you happy, then you just don’t have a heart.

2) Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl

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The Bat-line has been mixing it up in fun ways this year, with a fantastic new team on Catwoman and a wonderful revamp of Batgirl, but Gotham Academy is my favourite thing to come out of DC this year. The book is basically Harry Potter set in Gotham City, but somewhat less magical. Not entirely un-magical, though; something is definitely afoot! Olive Silverlock is a great protagonist, but her optimistic, adventurer pal Maps Mizoguchi gets my vote for best new character of the year. The cast is great, the writing is awesome, and the art is spectacular. Gotham Academy is killing it on every single level.

1) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

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I think it’s fantastic that Ms. Marvel exists. It’s a mainstream comic with a star who is a Muslim-American, non-white, female teenager; ALL of these demographics are massively underrepresented in superhero comics. Even if it sucked, I’d be happy they tried it. Luckily, it’s amazing. It was no contest for me to pick my favourite comic of the year. Ms. Marvel has been killing it from its very first issue, telling kick ass superhero stories in new and exciting ways. It’s ridiculously fun to read every month, and instantly goes to the top of my pile every time I get comics. It’s “important”, yeah, but more than that it’s just epicly good comic booking. If you aren’t reading this book, do yourself a personal favour and go check it out.

So there you have it, my top eleven comic books for 2014! Feel free to disagree and list your own favourite books in the comments. I’m always glad to hear about what cool stuff I may have missed over the year.

Marvel’s New Thor Is A Woman, And I’m All For It

July 16, 2014

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Yesterday, on The View of all places, Marvel announced that someone new will not only wield Thor’s famed hammer, Mjolnir, but that this new hero is a woman who will essentially be the new Thor. As writer Jason Aaron explained:

This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.

Marvel hasn’t revealed the pre-Thor identity of the new heroine, though before the announcement the chief rumour was that Angela, recently introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, would be the new god of thunder.

Certain male sections of fandom reacted like they always do and wailed about a female character replacing a male character, throwing around terms like “political correctness” and “feminist agenda” as if they were harmful, evil things. Other, more reasonable fans were intrigued, with reactions ranging from curiousity to outright enthusiasm. Personally, I think this could be a very fun comic, and that Marvel is going about it in a smart way.

First, the creative team is excellent. Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder has been great. He captures the epic awesomeness of the Norse gods well, and has a good handle on the mythological side of the Marvel universe. Aaron is a skilled writer, whose work ranges in tone from the light-hearted adventures of Wolverine and the X-Men to the dark Vertigo series Scalped. Russell Dauterman is an up and coming artist, currently doing solid work on Marvel’s Cyclops series, and he’s worked for several other comic publishers. From what I’ve seen of his art, he seems to be a cool mix of Olivier Coipel and Frank Quitely, while doing his own thing at the same time. Together, Aaron and Dauterman should make a great book.

Second, Marvel’s has an impressive track record with female characters as of late. Something seemed to change in Marvel’s thinking when they introduced the new Captain Marvel, and since then they’ve been focused on bringing strong, well-written female characters to the fore. Currently, Black Widow, Elektra, and She-Hulk are all getting rave reviews, while Ms. Marvel is arguably one of the best comics out there right now. I trust that if Marvel is introducing a new, female Thor that they’re going to do it right.

Speaking of doing it right, Marvel is smart to launch a new female character in a familiar role in an established title. Marvel’s recently taken a couple of stabs at books led by Norse women, and they didn’t pan out well despite decent critical acclaim. The Sif-starring Journey Into Mystery and the Valyrie-starring Fearless Defenders both barely lasted a year. This is less a problem of the characters, and more an issue of branding, and I think Marvel realizes this. Established entities sell better; that’s why so many DC books have “Batman” on them somewhere. Many fans wondered why Marvel didn’t just introduce a new female character with her own identity instead of giving her a male character’s title and role, which is a valid question. But in today’s comic market, most new, non-established characters aren’t long for the world. Introducing her as Thor is a smart way to ensure a built-in audience and establish a new female character in the Marvel universe.

Because let’s be frank here: As much as Marvel says she’s the new Thor from now on, she’s not. The old Thor will be back at some point. This is just how comics roll. But, if while she’s Thor she can get a foothold in the Marvel universe and build up a fanbase, when the old Thor inevitably returns and the female Thor gets a different identity, her time as Thor will have laid the groundwork for her continued existence in another book, or several. Being Thor is an excellent foot in the door for long term relevance.

Now, there are some fair concerns out there. Not from the aforementioned idiotic sub-section of fandom; Thor’s been a frog and a space horse before, so Thor can be a woman. Chill out, guys. But the costume has some silly bits. There’s a belly window, which is impractical and nonsensical, and some fans are displeased with the breast-conforming armour (“boob plate” armour is a non-starter for a lot of fans, which I can understand; in this case, I think the aesthetics work and it’s a lesser offender on that front, but that’s just me).

However, I think there’s far more to be excited for than to be worried about. We’re getting a female Thor from an excellent creative team with a massive PR push from the publisher! That’s cool in so many ways. It shows that Marvel is reaching out to female fans and trying to broaden their appeal, plus a female Thor is just going to be rad as hell. As a Wonder Woman enthusiast, I’m all about lady warriors, and I’m very pleased to see a new one take center stage. I’ll definitely be picking up the book when it launches this fall.


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