Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Art by: Jorge Molina and Laura Martin
Let’s have a frank discussion here. We are well into the Marvel relaunch, most first issues are out and many series are under way. They’re still not done with “Secret Wars” but if they insist on staying in the bath after they’ve had catastrophic diarrhea who am I to try and stop them? Anyway, with the release of “A-Force” #1 this week, we now have a good view of things to come for Marvel comics. And far and away, “A-Force” is the book that blows them all away.
Though I haven’t personally reviewed each of the dozen Avengers books Marvel is releasing, I have read them. Let me tell you, not impressed. These are teams composed of my favorite characters, written by my favorite writers, and yet all of them are either bland or criminally boring. These are books that feature Deadpool or Ms. Marvel and yet I’m less attached to them than Skywalkers are attached to their hands. And yet A-Force manages to care about the well-being of each member. The point where it succeeds is the focal point: Singularity.
See none of the Avengers books out right now do anything different; they’re all by the numbers—I’m including “A-Force” #1 in this too. It starts off with some mysterious new threat/bad guy/evil microwave or whatever is gonna be the McGuffin for the first arc and then gradually accrues each of the team members that we’ll be seeing for the duration. A-Force does the same thing, a strange being made of laser beams comes through and wrecks shit up and gradually each member of A-Force attempts to stand in his way. Yeah, it’s paint by numbers and not terribly original but the strength of the book is that the story is entirely conveyed through Singularity’s point of view. You remember Singularity right? She was that mysterious girl made out of swirling star stuff with undefined powers and a tendency to act like Penance—no not that Penance, the other Penance who wasn’t Speedball.
Even when “A-Force” was just a side story in Secret Wars, it was clear that its strength was going to be characterization. In particular it was going to be the focus on Singularity. Because she is an all-powerful being who is absolutely dumbfounded by the world around her so she gets to explore this new space unrestricted by physical limitations. It’s like a bullet proof tour guide walking us through a laser factory in a gamma civil war. All of the action gets to unfold around her without any need for seeking cover. It also helps that her personality is adorable, like a little sister of sorts. Her interactions with both Captain Marvel and She-Hulk are adorable. It allows for a reintroduction to the people who will be composing this team while endearing them to the reader. And remember, this is all occurring during a paint by numbers story unimpeded by complexity so while the action is unfolding we can focus on the important parts.
I think the other Avengers books have lost track of what we want to see in Avengers books. True it’s always fun to see our heroes fight the monsters but that’s only a third of what an Avengers book needs. Think about it like this, the most entertaining part of the movie “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” was the party scene. Remember how each character was interacting with each other? There was no tension just a bunch of characters that we love showing genuine comradery. That way when they all team up for the last fight it actually feels like a team of people rather than an assortment of persons who happen to be in the same proximity. “A-Force” gets this and is building that team, a team that we want to see together to defend the world from danger.
You know I often say “Invincible” has done everything everyone else has done, hence the comparisons. But in this case there’s actually a perfect case of an alien creature coming down to Earth while fleeing danger and looking for a hopeful future. Hey kids, remember Shapesmith the Martian? Yeah, I bet you do. He ran away from Mars after it got overtaken by those weird things that take over people’s brains. All he wanted to do was come to our planet and use his natural abilities for good. Well, that’s not true, he also wanted to shape shift into a perfect member of society and feel like he had a home but that was more out of a desperate sense of loneliness and abandonment. Well, whad’you know? Singularity shares those exact same motivations. That’s how you build a great alien character, you give them this burning desire to fit into the greater picture and feel like they have a greater chance for home here.