Sunday, March 7, 2010

Girl Comics #1 In-Depth Review

One of the tenets of the Women of Marvel celebration from the company was the release of the first issue of Girl Comics. I already mentioned it when I asked if you were going to be purchasing Girl Comics, but in case you don't know, this anthology is not strictly about girl characters. Instead, the whole book is produced, from the original script, art, inks, colors, letters and even the editing team, by women.

Both Kirk and Ryan reviewed this issue favorably, in this week's Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews and Power Rankings (respectively), but I had to throw my hat into the ring as well. So what did I think of Girl Comics #1? Hit the jump to read an in-depth review that includes spoilers.


Story by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Ming Doyle

Long time readers will know that I am a huge Nightcrawler fan, he's easily one of my favorite characters, so I was incredibly excited to see in the preview that there would be a story featuring him in Girl Comics. The story goes as follows: Nightcrawler is attending some kind of music performance at a lounge, when he hears a plead from behind the stage, and teleports to see that a girl is about to be attacked by the host of the show, so a fight ensues and with a little help from the girl, he defeats him. The strength of the story plays up the mood of the piece, which is aided by the song being performed on stage, and the imagery of Nightcrawler and the host being a devil (he's wearing all red). I like that it calls back to Nightcrawler's Errol-Flynn-inspired swashbuckling adventures, and while it may make me a chauvinist pig, I would read the hell out of a "Nightcrawler Rescues Damsels Around The World" series.

That being said, it's not a perfect story. Nightcrawler gets a total of four lines of dialogue, three of them happen to be onomatopoeia and the other one is in German, so there's not a whole of personality coming from Kurt in this story. The art is rather unique, and while it carries Nightcrawler's devilish looks perfectly, the action in the fight scene is somewhat confusing to follow. In all honesty, out of all the stories in this anthology, I found this one to be the most disappointing: not because it was bad, but rather because it could have been so much more.


Story by Trina Robbins
Art by Stephanie Buscema

I figure my opinion might not count a lot on this, as I just declared myself a chauvinist pig, but this is the kind of story that people feared this anthology would be all about. Featuring some of the members from the Greek pantheon of the Marvel Universe, and set in 1969, this story centers around Venus traveling down to Earth to prove to Zeus that "her feminine powers are just as strong as Herc's macho muscles." The story centers around Venus getting her old job back at a fashion magazine, only to run into a love conflict that could cause an international incident. She helps the lovers get back together, and uncovers the fact that Ares, the God of War, was behind the machinations in order to cause a war. The art is certainly eye catching and colorful, and it carries the "New Frontier" feel that this story is supposed to have.

I don't know if it's me that's mistaken, but while this is supposed to be the goddess Venus (in the Marvel U. she normally goes by Aphrodite), I have seen several people refer to her as the Venus from Agents of Atlas, who is not a God at all, but rather a siren. There are certain references within the story that confirm this: Venus says that she made a big splash 20 years ago, around the time the Agents of Atlas first appeared. Seems like a big screw up to me, but I haven't seen anyone else mention it.

A Brief Rendezvous

Story by Valerie D'Orazio
Art by Nikki Cook

Have you ever wondered what "To Catch a Predator" would be like if they switched Chris Hansen with Frank Castle? Well here's the story for you. In his review of this issue, Chris Sims said that this story feels played out. I certainly can't remember an example of the Punisher doing this kind of thing, but I haven't read every Punisher story ever like he has.

The imagery of the Punisher sitting there in his laptop pretending to be "sadprincess14" to catch a pedophile is pretty damn funny, and it got a laugh out of me. Punisher using a computer is just one those things that you can't imagine a character so intense like Frank Castle to do, like going out for groceries or doing the laundry. The story goes on for a couple more pages, as both men prepare for their night out, and this being a Punisher story, you can imagine how it ends. Nikki Cook's art is refreshingly simple, it's not flashy in any way but with an eye for expressions, and I could see it in a book like Punisher Max.

Shop Doc

Story and Art by Lucy Knisley

This is a short and funny story about Doctor Octopus going out to do grocery shopping, and it seems that the whole world is out to get him. As many people pointed out, this story could have easily been in Marvel's recent Strange Tales anthology. The whole story is full of little visual gags, of which my favorite one is probably is Doctor Octopus reading an article about Octomom while multitasking. Not a whole lot to say, but it's a funny story.

Clockwork Nightmare

Story by Robin Furth
Art by Agnes Garbowska

This story is a modern Fantastic Four Flavored take on the Hansel and Gretel story. Franklin and Valeria Richards fall into of his father's experiments, only to find themselves in a forest, completely with evil robot witch and mechanical animals. The evil witch captures them and instead of wanting to eat them, she wants Valeria to build her improved animal automatons, and to transplant Franklin's organs into her body, so she could be truly human. In the end, the Val and Franklin end up escaping and are rescued by their father.

The art of this story completely steals the show: it is illustrated in a style that resembles a children book, complete with illustrated borders, and a lack of panels as we normally see in comic books. One of the nice touches is that while the characters are in the "real" word, they have speech bubbles, but when they are in the forest, all the dialogue is presented in prose form alongside with the illustrations. Overall, the story was very enjoyable, cute, and creepy at times.

Head Space

Story by Devin Grayson
Art by Emma Rios

Talk about saving up the best for last, but this one was my favorite story of the whole book. When I saw the preview, I thought it was going to be yet another story about Jean Grey's conflicted love life, and the triangle between her, Logan, and Scott. The story starts with Jean and Scott in a room, only to be interrupted by Logan as he crashes (literally) in on their room several times. The story pulls back and we see that this is all part of Scott's inner mind, and how his doubts manifest. It was an effective swerve, at least for me, and an interesting character piece made all the bitter by the events that we know happen afterward in the characters live (this story is obviously set before Morrison's run). An interesting bit is the fact that once things got dangerous, Scott reverted to the "Cyclops" persona, as marked by his change in clothes.

I absolutely love Emma Rios art, and I don't know if this is a weird thing to say, but I'm particularly impressed by the way she draws the characters' hair. Often times artists just draw it in a very static manner, the exact same way from one panel to the other even though there are events happening that should make it move. Even though the whole story is only a couple of pages long, and set in one room, the script gives Rios plenty to draw: from Ninjas to Sentinels to Scott in his classic costume and Wolverine with his trademark jacket and bike.


There's a couple of extras spread out across the anthology, such as an opening "mission statement" from Colleen Coover (that I previously posted here) featuring many of the women of Marvel, as well as pin-up of She-Hulk by Sana Takeda that works as a tribute to John Byrne's classic rope-jumping image. Additionally, there's text pieces that spotlight some Marvel's past influential female creators and short biography pieces on the contributors to this issue. All in all, they are all worthy and welcome additions to the book.

Verdict - Buy It. From beginning to end, this whole looks absolutely great, and each story has a unique look. The stories in this anthology aren't all perfect by any means, but it was a great purchase and has me looking forward to what the other issues and other creative teams will bring into the mix.

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Ryan K Lindsay said...

Excellent review, Matt. If anyone was sitting on the fence about this one your words should get them over the line one way or the other. Buyers seem reticent about an anthology because there's so much in them they possibly won't like, or don't know is there. This clears all that up and hopefully gets a few people to check it out and support the anthology cause.

Ivan said...

I was under the impression we'd have some Amanda Conner art on the inside too...

Oh well, it does look interesting, but I have no way of getting it now.

Matt Ampersand said...

@Ryan: I was on the fence myself when they first announced it, but I am happy with my purchase.

@Ivan: I think that's for one of the other issues, if I am not mistaken.

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