(W) Tini Howard (A) Alberto Foche (CA) David Aja Rated T+ In Shops: Sep 22, 2021 SRP: $3.99
HOSTILE TAKEOVER! It’s impossible to succeed in business without making a few enemies. Noblesse Pharmaceuticals sends their most cutthroat team against X-CORP once and for all, and they’ve come to collect.
(W) Tini Howard (A) Alberto Foche (CA) David Aja Rated T+ In Shops: Aug 18, 2021 SRP: $3.99
SINGLE POINT OF FAILURE! When a deal doesn’t go as expected, it’s important to be open to new investors. Enter Selene and Mastermind: two potential stakeholders who stand willing to prove their worth. Everyone loves you when you’re on top, but who comes through in the clutch?
Numerous comic creators announced their shift to Substack today in what seems like a coordinated move to make a splash. Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ram V., Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, Al Ewing, Molly Knox Ostertag, and more all had various splashes and approaches to the paid newsletter platform. Tynion is going so far to step away from his writing gig on DC Comics’ Batman. More creator announcements are coming.
Substack is similar to Patreon where subscribers pay for different tiers and in this case receive chapters of comics to consume. In Snyder’s case, he’ll be providing a Comic Writing 101 interactive class through the platform. Our understanding is creators will then publish the comics in print down the road though those details have not been released.
While new avenues for distribution and revenue for comic creators is great, each of these creators have a question they need to answer:
Why are they ok working on a platform that not only has allowed transphobia and alt-right indeology to flourish but also has possibly courted it?
In June, Substack’s move into comics was released where it was revealed that Nick Spencer would lead the project. Spencer himself has courted controversy in numerous ways with things blowing up when Spencer and Marvel turned Captain America into a Hydra fascist (aka Nazi allegory).
Substack has had a lot of issues being charged with enabling bigotry. It has become a haven for alt-right individuals and alt-right adjacent regressive attitudes. Any comic creator who takes part in this will should be pressed on the controversy. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.
To quote from one:
Substack denies that it plays an editorial role, maintaining that the writers are solely responsible for what they create — and declining to meaningfully moderate the content published by those writers — but it’s nonetheless begun to look very much like a publication, and that publication has a clear stance against trans rights.
The platform claims neutrality and that it doesn’t play an editorial role but it’s also clearly courting individuals for their editorial content and lets face it, controversy sells.
While the concept of “micro comics” through a newsletter is nothing new, Substack’s willingness to buy talent is. Creators will have to decide if they’re willing to accept money from a company that has so far built itself partially on hate.
(W) Tini Howard (A) Valentine De Landro (CA) David Aja Rated T+ In Shops: Jul 14, 2021 SRP: $3.99
MULTIPLE MEN, MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS! He’s everywhere you want to be. He’s never not in the office. And his direct reports always fall in line. How does X-CORP meet their nearly impossible quotas with maximum synergy and minimal bandwidth? They’ve got Dr. Jamie Madrox, and he’s the world’s best boss.
(W) Tini Howard (A) Marcus To (CA) Mahmud Asrar Rated T+ In Shops: Jul 14, 2021 SRP: $3.99
THE TOWER AND THE STORM! With Captain Britain and Excalibur reunited, Otherworld is their domain. An escort mission reveals deep political unrest among Saturnyne’s court. And a brutal sacrifice bears fruit.
Vault Comics has announced World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw, a multi-property World of Darkness event that spins out of Vault’s smash hit Vampire: The Masquerade comic book series. In World of Darkness, there is more lurking in the shadows than just vampires, and this event will shine a light on just what else hides in the night.
The World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw event will be told by a murderers row of the best comic creators working today. The series is written by Jim Zub, Tim Seeley, Blake Howard, Tini Howard, and Danny Lore, drawn by Julius Ohta, colored by Addison Duke, lettered by Deron Bennett, and designed by Tim Daniel. The series will feature covers from legendary horror artists Aaron Campbell and Joshua Hixson.
In World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw, Cecily Bain has become everything she never wanted as The Prince of the Twin Cities. But her rule over a fractured, backbiting vampire court is interrupted by an intruder—something big, hairy, and full of teeth. For over a century, werewolves of the Twin Cities have protected their blessed places from threats both physical and spiritual. When vampires under Cecily rule move in on one of these precious sites, it’s a declaration of war, one that Tyrell ‘the Stainless’ Stinar and his ferocious pack will avenge at any cost.
The three-issue event will launch in September 2021. Making the series even tastier for fans of Vampire: The Masquerade, each issue of World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw will include exclusive gaming material for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition of the tabletop RPG from Renegade Game Studios, allowing players to actually play the events of the series in their own games.
In honor of Pride Month, Marvel Comics dropped a big 84 pages one-shot celebrating both its LGBTQ+ creators and characters. Beginning with a story from Luciano Vecchio that’s not sure if it’s telling the story of queer characters in the Marvel Universe from an in-universe or more of a real-world documentary perspective,Marvel Voices Pride #1 sputters with a story that basically says aliens and shapeshifters brought the idea of being non-binary, genderqueer, or gender nonconforming to this world followed by a text-heavy Allan Heinberg/Jim Cheung Young Avengers reunion. However, it catches its footing with a cute Karolina Dean/Nico Minoru story, and for the most part, it provides a wide spectrum of LGBTQ+ representation with a special focus on the mutant/X-Men side of the Marvel Universe, who have acted as a mostly metaphorical representation to queer fans like myself. However, it’s nice to see characters like Anole, Prodigy, Destiny, Karma, and Jessie Drake get the spotlight along with more prominently featured cis male gay characters like Northstar (His coming out story in Alpha Flight #106 is reprinted at the end) and Iceman. But fans of non-mutant/Runaways/Wiccan and Hulkling characters may be disappointed as characters like Angela, Sera, Hercules, and America Chavez don’t appear except in small cameo roles.
Marvel VoicesPride #1 kicks off with a journey through the LGBTQ+ history of the Marvel Universe from writer/artist Luciano Vecchio. Even though many of his adult characters look like teens, Vecchio has a beautiful art style and color palette. However, my issue with this first story isn’t the form, but the content. As mentioned earlier, this introductory story isn’t sure if it’s being told from the perspective of the real world or Earth-616 even though it’s narrated by Prodigy. It also has a very self-congratulatory, back-patting tone, especially for a company that recently cancelled a book starring many of its queer characters (X-Factor) and mentions characters like Angela and Sera that haven’t been barely heard or seen from since getting their own title in 2015. Even though Vecchio is a queer creator, there’s big “ally” energy in this first story with a heterosexual character, Captain America getting the spotlight, and the implication that non-binary identities came from aliens and shapeshifters. He does successfully lay out what ended up being a thesis for the anthology, which is the connection between mutants and queer identity.
This story is followed by a one page Young Avengers creator reunion as Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, and Marcelo Maiolo chronicle Hulking and Wiccan’s wedding vows. Heinberg’s writing is tender, but this feels like more of a prose piece than a comic. Heinberg and Cheung’s inclusion seems like more stunt-casting to get older queer Marvel fans interested in the one-shot rather than being any kind of substantial addition to their work on Young Avengers. However, Marvel Voices: Pride rights the ship (Pun fully intended.) in its next story featuring two members of Marvel’s other prominent 2000s teen superhero team, the Runaways. Mariko Tamaki, Kris Anka, and Tamra Bonvillain turns in three pages of sweet glances, chatter, and a super adorable kiss as Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean think about what they would tell people if they asked how they met. The long line out of the venue reminded me of the pre-pandemic days when I would wait in line for hours to get a good spot to see artists like Carly Rae Jepsen and Robyn with my fellow queer folks, and Bonvillain’s summery color palette matches Anka’s skill with facial expressions. This story is like the cherry on top of the sundae that he helped build when he was the artist on Runaways and finally put Karolina and Nico in a relationship together.
The next story in Marvel Voices Pride is the first one to feature a trans protagonist, Dr. Charlene McGowan from Immortal Hulk. The plot of Lilah Sturges, Derek Charm, and Brittany Peer is about some “hilarious” misunderstandings when Lady Daredevil aka the artist formerly known as Elektra Natchios and some Z-list, rapping supervillains raid McGowan’s lab when they think she’s producing mutant growth hormone when when she’s actually working on a way to get trans women’s bodies to produce progesterone without taking pills. What follows is Trans 101 with a little bit of ass kicking courtesy Charm, who is in his Bronze Age element with the cheesy costumes and dark shadows. However, other than the fact that’s she a scientist who sometimes makes jokes, we don’t learn anything about Dr. McGowan except that she’s surprisingly cool with microaggressions from A-List Marvel heroes. Kudos to Marvel Voices‘ editorial for getting a trans writer in Sturges to pen this story, but the whole thing feels reductive and geared towards fanboys who know every member of Daredevil or Hulk’s rogues gallery and have never interacted with a transgender person.
In contrast, Leah Williams, Jan Bazaldua, and Erick Arciniega re-introduce Marvel’s first transgender character, the mutant Jessie Drake in a thrilling manner as she appears in her first comic in 27 years. However, Black Cat is the protagonist of this story and is tracking down Steel Raven, a villain who’s been impersonating her, pulling some sloppy heists, and ruining her reputation. Williams’ quippy writing style works well for the fast-paced short story as Black Cat and Jessie meet, flirt, and figure out their next move in catching Steel Raven. Bazaldua plays with space and transforms what would normally be your run of the mill villain warehouse into something more surreal. She and Williams do succeed in building a connection between Jessie and Black Cat as well as showing off Jesse’s empathy-based abilities, but this is just a teaser for a bigger cat and mouse game. Hopefully, there’s room for more batting of eyes, power showcasing, and insight into the character of Jessie Drake, both in her own series or in Black Cat’s current ongoing, which has been a sneaky good read.
Continuing this positive trend is Crystal Frasier, Jethro Morales, and Rachelle Rosenberg telling a wonderful She-Hulk and Titania. But there’s a twist as Jennifer Walters doesn’t appear, but Jennifer Harris, who was inspired by her to come out as trans and cosplay her at a copyright friendly version of New York Comic Con. As someone who came out as bi around the same time Prodigy did in Young Avengers or when Iceman came out as gay in All-New X-Men, I can definitely connect to the inspirational power of fictional characters like Jennifer did with She-Hulk. She and Titania also have some nice banter, and Frasier and Morales also remind readers that She-Hulk was the original fourth wall breaker with some jokes and exploding layouts.
After the She-Hulk story is probably my favorite story of Marvel Voices Pride #1, which is a Prodigy and Speed one from Kieron Gillen, Jen Hickman, and Brittany Peer as Gillen returns to both the X-Men and Young Avengers franchises. The dialogue between Speed and Prodigy sparkles, and Hickman shows off their chops as a storyteller working in eating pizza, stealing glances at Colossus, and empathizing with Kitty Pryde as Prodigy basically tells his bisexual origin story. His story also acts as a critique of how the mutant books have been good about metaphorical queer representation, but not actual queer representation. This is timely because the book that Prodigy was a main cast member in is getting cancelled. However, this is really a lovely story full of hilarious and insightful writing from Kieron Gillen and pitch-perfect images and comedic timing from Hickman as Speed teases Prodigy for having a crush on Colossus when he ran with the New Mutants. Prodigy is true overthinking, chaos bisexual representation, and I’m personally glad to see him get a spotlight in this story even if it’s only a few pages long.
The anthology takes a break from comics for a bit and features an interview with Christian Cooper, one of the first queer editors at Marvel, and he talks about his experiences at the company and the impact comics have had on his life. After this, there’s a timeline of big LGBTQ+ moments in Marvel Comics. It’s followed up with a cute Anole story from Terry Blas, the wonderful Paulina Ganucheau, and Kendall Goode. Blas connects the idea of Krakoa being a mutant utopia to things like Pride, and the ability to unwind at the Green Lagoon with folks who understand your struggles being the goal of all this hard work and fighting. However, it’s not all big metaphors as he and Ganucheau probe into Anole’s body issues leading to him not wanting to date along with his friendship with Jonas Graymalkin. It all ends on a fabulous final page, and this story is worth checking out for Ganucheau and Goode’s soft, colorful takes on the different mutants.
Sticking with the mutant theme, Anthony Oliveira, Javier Garron, and David Curiel go all in with the mutant as gay metaphor in an Iceman story set during the time period of the original five X-Men. They play on the fact that Magneto was played by a gay man in four of the X-Men films and find a real connection between Bobby and Magneto, who takes a break from the missiles to provide a listening ear to this young man struggling with his identity. Oliveira writes Iceman as having a crush on Angel, and Garron nails the longing glances that he throws at the majestic mutant that turn into words when Magneto sits down to chat with him. They take the subtext (For example, Bobby not being interested in Jean Grey when she joins the team.) of these Silver Age text and transform them into glorious text while also showing off the sweeter side of Magneto, a man who would one day break down when he realized that his crusade almost led to the death of an innocent child, Kitty Pryde.
This story is followed up by one focusing on the relationship between Northstar and his husband, Kyle Jinadu from writer/artist J.J. Kirby. It’s touching to see what Northstar is like away from the cameras and public, and what Kyle loves about them. However, Kirby’s 1990s-style artwork with modern, digital coloring is a mismatch for the story, and I spent most of the time wondering why Northstar looked like a vampire or a block of ice instead of the events of the story. Luckily, the misstep is remedied by a thrilling riff on Sherlock Holmes vs. Professor Moriarty from Tini Howard, Samantha Dodge, and Brittany Peer featuring Mystique and Destiny. The story is adventurous filled with wits matching, chess games, and lover’s embraces and shows how iconic a couple these two are while also showing what a big deal it was for them to be open with their love in a time period where being queer got you thrown in jail. Plus it’s a reminder that queer people have always existed in history. (Or fiction.)
Vita Ayala, Joanna Estep, Brittney Williams, and Brittany Peer continue the theme of both mutants and queer women in a Karma story set during the Hellfire Gala after party where Magik gives her a pep talk to dance (and maybe even smooch) Elle, who as far as I can tell is a new, queer mutant created for this anthology. Karma truly gets the spotlight this story and gets to work out some of her issues with her powers and emotions as she’s afraid that if she asks Elle out that she’ll use her abilities to mess with her free will. However, this doesn’t happen, and we get to see a mutant who has been screwed over so many times be happy for once and get the girl in a beautiful sequence from Ayala, Estep, Williams, and Peer.
The final story in Marvel Voices Pride #1 again shows that Steve Orlando is perfect for writing violent, queer characters with a sensitive side as he and Claudia Aguirre tell the story of Daken and Somnus, a new character who can make one night seem like a life time together. He used this power on Daken back in the day during a one night stand and then ended up living a long life without him even though he didn’t divulge his oneiromantic mutant abilities to everyone. However, Krakoa and its resurrection protocols are all about second chances, and Daken gives him one in this story. As well as digging deep into Daken’s emotions, Orlando and Aguirre also use this story to remind readers of queer elders, who because of society’s hate, never came out or came out later in life, and this is what makes Somnus’ second chance so special. Also, his abilities are pretty cool and bring a little Vertigo into the X-Books.
Marvel Voices Pride #1 is definitely an up and down ride. Some of the stories mishandle nonbinary and gender nonconforming identities (Also, there are no nonbinary lead characters in this anthology.) or seem to pander heavily to allies while others have issues with their art or storytelling style. (Northstar/Kyle, Wiccan/Hulkling) But, for the most part, it’s nice to see queer creators and queer characters get the spotlight for once instead of being hidden behind things like the mutant metaphor, which is usually Marvel editorial’s approach. Time will tell if we see them beyond this anthology, but most of the creators in Marvel Voices Pride work on books in Marvel’s main line or have had consistent success at other companies or even television in Allan Heinberg’s case so, at least, that’s something they have going for them.
Story: Luciano Vecchio, Allan Heinberg, Mariko Tamaki, Lilah Sturges, Leah Williams, Crystal Frasier, Kieron Gillen, Terry Blas, Anthony Oliveira, J.J. Kirby, Tini Howard, Vita Ayala, Steve Orlando Art: Luciano Vecchio, Jim Cheung, Kris Anka, Derek Charm, Jan Bazaldua, Jethro Morales, Jen Hickman, Paulina Ganucheau, Javier Garron, J.J. Kirby, Samantha Dodge, Joanna Estep with Brittney Williams, Claudia Aguirre, Jacopo Camagni Colors: Marcelo Maiolo, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer, Erick Arciniega, Rachelle Rosenberg, Kendall Goode, David Curiel Letters: Ariana Maher Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
(W) Kieron Gillen, More (A) Javi Garron, More (CA) Luciano Vecchio 88 pages/ONE-SHOT/Rated T+ In Shops: Jun 23, 2021 SRP: $9.99
MARVEL CELEBRATES LGBTQ+ CHARACTERS & CREATORS WITH A RAINBOW-POWERED SPECIAL! Marvel Comics is proud to present its first ever queer-centered anthology! Ring in Pride Month with an amazing assembly of writers and artists from all walks of life. Wiccan and Hulkling! Iceman! Mystique and Destiny! Karma! Akihiro! Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean! Celebrate these and so many more legendary characters from across the Marvel archive! New and fan-favorite creators tell their Pride stories – stories of inspiration and empowerment, stories that illustrate “the world outside your window” in full color. Plus, some of Marvel’s biggest LGBTQ+ moments get a special reprinting. Don’t miss an extraordinary new chapter in Marvel history!
(W) Tini Howard (A) Alberto Foche (CA) David Aja 32 PGS./Rated T+ In Shops: Jun 16, 2021 SRP: $3.99
A SHARK IN THE WATER! After X-CORP’s shocking debut, they’ve got fences to mend, hands to shake and most importantly – a board to staff. With Dr. Jamie Madrox’s top-class dupes staffing the HELLFIRE GALA, CXOs Monet and Angel must stalk the dance floor and hope they don’t get preyed on themselves.