Today marks the debut issue of Marvel Comics’ new book, A-Force. The series is co-written by G Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and (Angela: Asgard’s Assassin), who know a thing or two about creating strong female characters. The comic book industry has been undergoing a type of internal revolution, with both major publishers starting to pay more attention to diversifying their lineups and strengthening the stories that revolve around those characters. It’s not just about giving girls “their own” books, but focusing on the way in which all their characters are portrayed in all the books. What Marvel’s (and all the other publishers) found is that fans these days will try just about any book given the way that it looks, but what keeps readers coming back for more is good content – no matter which gender, sexual orientation or color they may be. A-Force is one of the most diversely assembled books out right now, so let’s take some time to meet the team:
Powers and Abilities: You can probably guess by name, but Jennifer Walters is a lady version of her cousin Bruce Banner’s alter-ego. A blood transfusion with Banner gave her the reduced effects of the gamma radiation. This mean super-strength, super-stamina, super-agility and regeneration. Jennifer can switch back and forth between human and She-Hulk form, and retains much more of her intelligence and attitude control than Hulk can. This comes in handy as she is a great lawyer, usually double-dipping as consult for the organizations she fights for. She is the last character created by Stan Lee and celebrates her 35th birthday this year. She’s been a member of nearly every superhero faction ever: S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers (1982), Fantastic Four (1984), and Heroes for Hire (1996)
Where we saw her last: The 2014 She-Hulk series came to a surprising end after just 12 issues, even with all the critical acclaim it received. Since then, Jennifer has been appearing in random comic books, most recently in the new Hulk series, where Hulk gives Jennifer a “cure” to give to Hulk should he ever get out of hand – thanks in part to being injected with the Extremis virus. He tells Jennifer that she is the only one of the Hulks who has made life better for herself.
Background and Abilities: Alison Blaire is a mutant with the ability to convert light and sound into energy beams. Dazzler has been sort of a gimmick character for much of her page time, which makes sense when you think about how she came about. She was originally created as a joint character with Casablanca Records (Donna Summers, Village People, Parliament, Kiss) to be a disco singer, using her powers to put on amazing light shows. Throughout her history, her powers become more advanced, eventually mastering 3D constructs and the ability to store energy with the result of devastating sound waves. Most noticeably, though, is her bubbly personality and charisma, which will surely give her the role of comic relief in the A-Force.
Where we saw her last: Dazzler has fallen on some hard times. She was recently used as a human blood bag to create Mutant Growth Hormone (which was basically like heroin for mutants) by Mystique. After being rescued by Magneto, she’s taken on a darker persona and sworn revenge on Mystique (and possibly S.H.I.E.L.D., too). However, the Dazzler that appears on the cover to A-Force shows us that she is back to original costume, so maybe all is forgiven?
Background and Abilities: Medusa is considered part of the Attilan Royal Family and bride to Black Bolt – an Inhuman among women. Inhumans are essentially super-powered beings synthetically created with Terragon Mist. Each person exposed to the Mist reacts to it differently. Medusa’s powers come from her hair, each strand having incredible strength and elasticity. She can, of course, control her hair psycho-kinetically. Medusa is basically the equivalent of what would happen if Willow Smith used Herbal Essence. It sounds lame, but it’s like she has an army of extra appendages at her disposal. Her motive has always been to forge peace between humans and Inhumans, so look for that to be a recurring theme in the book.
Where we saw her last: You can find Medusa in the new Inhuman series, where Medusa deals with the grief of losing her husband, Black Bolt (and his resurrection), and with the sudden explosion of Inhumans. She’s now the ruler of the Attilans, and has a whole new set of obligations.
Background and Abilities: Not many people know about Nico, and that’s totally fine. Nico is from The Runaways, a 2003 series by Brian K Vaughan (Saga) about a group of teenagers who band together to stop their parents’ evil crime organization. Along the way, Nico finds out that she is a powerful witch. Sometimes, I wish my day would go that way, too. Her spell-casting Staff of One can resurrect the dead, use it to fly, and an array of other useful spells. Honestly, she seems like the most powerful member of the new team, and the addition of a magical aspect to the team will be very valuable.
Where we saw her last: In what was best-described as the Marvel version of the Hunger Games, Avengers Arena had Nico face off against a dozen other young Marvel characters. She survived the event, but “Murder World” as it’s called are televised for the world to see, making her infamous. Nico tries to keep the team together, serving as a pseudo-leader as they charge into battle.
Also on the cover:
Jim Cheung’s group cover shows so many more characters than the women in the forefront. Here’s all the other super heroines you can expect to see, clockwise from the bottom left:
- Captain Marvel
- Rescue (Pepper Potts)
- Black Widow
- Karolina Dean
- Scarlet Witch