I’ll be honest: I’ve been away from the webcomic scene for a while. I’ll see an update of one of the series I used to read often floating around online and hum to myself, “Oh, so that’s what those wacky kids have been up to.” It’s nice, but also leaves me somewhat nostalgic for the time where I had several series I kept up with. While today’s web crush may not get me back on the webcomic routine (by no one’s fault but that of my own inattentiveness), it did achieve the one thing that many other series in the past years have tried and failed at: it drew me in enough to actually read through the archive.
(Note: a free review copy of the Hyper Force Neo graphic novel was provided by the distributor)
Around a year or so ago, I picked up the first issue of Hyper Force Neo by Jarrett Williams at a convention. Its striking art style and premise caught my eye, and as predicted, it was right up my alley. I more or less enjoyed it with a few minor gripes here and there, but overall had a good time with it.Since then, the series run was cancelled in favor of a single graphic novel release. Luckily for me, this is my preferred method for reading comics! So now that the full narrative is out there, what did I think? Well, arguably, both its positives and negatives from the first issue have remained the same! So I definitely still liked it, but I’d argue that it is more polarizing.
It was really only a matter of time before I picked up Jonesy. It’s got an eye-catching art style, it’s receivedlots of love, and if that wasn’t enough, artist Caitlin Rose Boyle is a resident of my hometown of Pittsburgh. That said, before getting the first trade, I didn’t actually know what the story was about. It was actually fun, though, to be able to go into a book basically cold and be surprised by what took place. In this case, what took place was an inclusive and diverse magical realist take on a typical high-school slice-of-life story.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Tee Franklin when we both attended a Gail Simone comics signing. I had no idea who she was at the time, but when Gail greeted her with an excited exclamation, I figured they might know each other through the comics business. (As it turns out, they did both work on the Love is Love anthology, which raised money to support victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.) After learning who she was, I also found out that Tee was definitely doing some important work for comics: she is the author of the delightful-sounding graphic novella Bingo Love.
I took home a postcard advertising the story and looked it up right away when I got home — and immediately decided this was something I needed to get my hands on. To let Tee describe it:
Bingo Love is an 80 page graphic novella that revolves around Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, two thirteen year old Black girls who, in no time, become the best of friends. As their relationship grows, they discover their deep love for one another, but the timing couldn’t be worse. Two girls in love are bound to be star-crossed in 1963, and their families forbid them from seeing each other again.
Not only do the young women have to endure the pain of separation, but they’re also both married off to men they don’t love. They seem destined to live apart, permanently cut off from one another, but fate — and bingo — have another plan for them. Nearly fifty years later, Hazel and Mari once again see each other across a bingo hall, and all their feelings come flooding back.(x)
The new Black Panther trailer has been released and I’m beyond hyped. February can’t get here soon enough! Coming off the heels of Wonder Woman’s success and a wave of support for inclusion of marginalized voices, Marvel finally released a trailer with a non-white male lead. I got to see the intersection of Black Twitter and Nerd Twitter come out in full force, so with all this excitement, I should probably explain why it looks so great.
If you haven’t yet seen the new Wonder Woman movie… seriously, why haven’t you? It’s fabulous. After we gushed about its awesomeness while coming out of the theater, I mentioned to my group that Diana Prince seems like an awesome unconventional Christ figure. They were a little confused, because (spoiler alert) Wonder Woman isn’t crucified, and she’s certainly not a man. I couldn’t really explain it well then, but I can now.
Wonder Woman might be the most famous female superhero. While her story makes references to Greek myths, it doesn’t seem like her creators were Greek, and her writers didn’t really bother for accuracy when it comes to those myths. On the other hand, Christianity is so influential to Western culture and its history that Christ figures show up all over the place in our stories. We’ve already talked about how Disney’sHercules draws from Greek myths but still turns Hercules into a Christ figure. Nearly all fictional Christ figures are male. So while making Wonder Woman into a Christ figure doesn’t do much for Greek mythology, it breaks new ground in the way we can understand what a Christ figure can be.
Comics and religion don’t often mix, and that’s why it was so surprising when the new Ms. Marvel burst onto the scene and became such a smash hit. Kamala Khan (i.e., the current Ms. Marvel) and her Muslim family and friends provide a respectful, realistic portrayal of a family of faith that anyone from a religious background—especially one grounded in a strong family and ethnic tradition—can relate to. Of course such a story could have been written about any religious family, because the same thing could have come across if the Khans had been Greek Orthodox Christians like my family, or Polish Catholics, or Orthodox Jews, or Indian Hindus, etc. etc. But it’s extremely important that the series instead chooses to normalize a family of darker-skinned Muslims, as they have been such a persecuted group in the Western world lately. Realizing that a group different from your own is, in fact, simply human Just Like You is the first step in encouraging empathy and in changing attitudes, and Ms. Marvel does a great job with that. Now, I’m not Muslim, nor do I know an awful lot about Islam. I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian with a priest for a father, and I grew up hearing some very Islamophobic opinions from him. It took me a long time to get over that, but it wasn’t until reading Ms. Marvel that I realized that Orthodox Christians and Muslims might actually have a lot more in common than I thought. It’s also just lovely to have representation of a religious character in comics, in which faith is organically woven into the story without being preachy or just surface-level!
Note that I’ve only read through the latest trade paperback of the series (Volume 6, up to issue #12 of the current run). But Saika tells me these points still hold for the latest issues. Mild spoilers up to my current stopping point below!