Spinning out of a event I have small interest in and featuring a writer who doesn’t excite me A-Foce starts off with the chips stacked against it. But it has a decent artist and a fantastic cast of female characters. That could be enough to win me over. Does it?
Writers: Marguerite Bennet & G. Willow Wilson
Penciler: Jorge Molina
Inkers: Jorge Melina, Craig Yeung, Walden Wong
Quick Review: To cut to the chase this is a decent comic. Decent in that I didn’t really think it was that good, but there was nothing expressly bad about it. This is a Battleworlds book (and I haven’t been reading Secret Wars) and I understand that these characters could be from anywhere or anytime or any universe. So, my big question is what are the relationships between these characters? Who are they and why should I care? Ultimately this question is never answered and we are left with suits spouting words over pretty pictures. And the Molina visuals are nice, but they feel inconsistent. Perhaps this is due to the steadily changing inkers, but some panels left me breathless and others just looked sloppy. Basically, I left these issues feeling unimpressed and not really caring what happened after the cliffhanger. Rather than winning me over in three issues I feel more like tuning out.
Analysis: I can already feel the question of “isn’t most superhero comics just ‘suits spouting words’?”. There is a difference. In this book I never felt like any character crossed over from being just a skin and actually being a real character. Like in an old school third-person shooter video game, those pixels could be morphed into any character you pleased and it wouldn’t effect the story. Outside of physical appearance there is no personalities on display. She-Hulk was boss but I felt as if she could be replaced in the art with any other character with no change in script and the result wold be the same. This goes for every character featured in this book, except where specific power mechanics were mentioned.
Ultimately this was the failing of this book for me. I didn’t know why I should care about any of these characters or about the relationships that were presented. The character taken away by the Thors is not one I have encyclopedic knowledge of, but I’m familiar with. Still, I wasn’t sure if the reaction to her being taken away was just basic level heroic outrage or were some relationships stronger than other? That one hero took it hard. Were they roommates, friends, lover, etc? No idea. The lack of defining characteristics was so deep any other negatives just feel like nit-picking.
Speaking of picking nits, I had two questions when this was first announced: Basically: Where are the women of color? Why no men? I stand by both of these questions. For a book that seems to be trying to empower both of these questions seem pertinent. Majority of the speaking lines are by white women. Outside of issue one there is basically only one minority leading character. Also, what is the deal with the superhero men? Namor shows up as a guide. Luke Cage and Blackbolt are seen around town. Where are these guys when the heroics get going? Having them selectively there adds questions of why aren’t they always there. I still stand by my opinion that it would deb more empowering to feature these women as leaders of other women and men than to just segregate them away into their own bubble. But as far as I know, the why of “why no men” has not been addressed.
As for the overall story… Um, I guess it has a lot to do with Battleworlds. I was pleasantly surprised that I never felt lost. But then again that might be because there isn’t enough here to get lost in. Basic plot: don’t cross the border or you get taken away. Someone gets taken away because they crossed the border. Another person crossed the border, so lets run! Okay the let’s run bit seems to be where it is headed in issue four. Basically these issues relied on talking heads, but they were talking heads that never really added to their character. And a mysterious girl shows up who is a mystery. Maybe the plot is more engaging if you’ve read all the Secret Wars stuff.
The strongest aspect of this comic is the art. Jorge Molina does some nice acting and there several varieties of emotional faces. Also, he handles a fight scene quit nicely and they were mostly well paced. All that said, sometimes his storytelling was confusing. The sudden jump in issue one from confrontation with the Thors, to meeting later on with goodbyes made me think a page was missing. Also, the art was inconsistent in level of detail. Some of the figures felt fulling inked in and others felt like bare outlines for no real reason. This happened throughout the three issues. Lastly, while I applaud the lack of fan service art or sexualizing of the characters, I did notice that all the characters have the same build. They differed in height, but shave them bald and they have the same silhouette. I never thought I’d see the day where Nico and She-Hulk had such similar physiques.
Last word: If all you want is a popcorn comic that is light on story and character but has a neat fight… in three issues… Get this one?