REVIEW: A-Force #1 — Who Run the World?

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A-Force #1

Written By: G. Willow Wilson

Art By:  Jorge Molina

Release Date: 1/05/16

Of all Marvel’s All-New, All-Different titles it’s launching throughout the winter, A-Force might be the most anticipated. Written by G. Willow Wilson, who single-handedly turned Ms. Marvel into a pop culture phenomenon, and drawn by the reliably fantastic Jorge Molina, A-Force made headlines for being the first Avengers team made up entirely of women. Why it’s called the A-Force and not the AvengeHERS is a mystery that will never be solved.

Marvel has tried its hand at all-female teams before—most recently a run of Heroes for Hire that was badly handicapped by cheesecake covers ripe for the Hawkeye Initiative to lampoon. But during A-Force‘s trial-run during Marvel’s recent Battleworld storyline, it became clear that Wilson had different aims for her book. The first issue, like all first issues, spends a lot of time on introductions. We cycle through our main cast of characters, getting a chance to see them all in action. This can occasionally be a dull affair, but it’s saved here by Wilson’s ear for humor and Molina’s seriously riveting artwork. Few artists in the medium today are as gifted as Molina at detailed characterization. If you knew nothing whatsoever about Carol Danvers, you could learn almost everything you need to know just by how she looks here.

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Like any Avengers team, A-Force is made up of a few icons (Avengers veterans She-Hulk and Captain Marvel), some underrated b-listers (the Inhuman’s Medusa, the X-Men’s Dazzler and the Runaway’s Sister Grimm) and some fresh blood. In this case, the fresh blood is The Singularity: a pocket universe that has gained sentience and manifested itself as a tremendously powerful girl. Yeah, one of those. 

The Singularity was with the rest of A-Force on Battleworld where they became allies but, due to some bonkers sci-fi time travel, she’s the only one who remembers Battleworld. She’s new to human emotion, and the shock of not being recognized by old teammates she thought of as friends jars her, but her attempts to cope are thwarted by the appearance of Anti-Matter, a malevolent being of energy with a mysterious connection to the Singularity.

And so the Singularity is our tour guide through meeting Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and Medusa. Wilson handles these meetings with a gracious touch, marrying the Singularity’s sense of childlike wonder and confusion at the universe to her battle-hardened courage and intellect. It’s a tricky characterization, but it works.

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Wilson and Molina clearly picked the members of their A-Force with a mind towards what’s going to look good on the page. Captain Marvel has one of Marvel’s most striking costumes and She-Hulk’s emerald hue is legendary, but it’s little details like Medusa’s writhing mass of prehensile hair and the infinite swirl of stars and galaxies that make up the Singularity’s body that really give Molina a chance to shine. His stylings feel recognizably realistic while still clipping with an appealing cartoonishness. Many comic artists attempt to walk just such a tightrope, but few do so with Molina’s dexterity or detail.

His expertise allows Wilson to shine with her own characterizations, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and Medusa each interact with a strange figure who clearly thinks they’re friends. Captain Marvel reacts like a steely soldier. She-Hulk, a compassionate defender. And Medusa? Well, Medusa’s never been big on trusting others. She’s the wildcard of the bunch—much in the same way Sif has served on ABC’s Agents of SHIELD—and that combustible chemistry is just what makes super team comics so much fun to read. Snippets of dialog like She-Hulk and Singularity’s brief but charming call to arms says more than a hundred character profiles.

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Joss Whedon once said that he was attracted to direct the first Avengers movie by Marvel Studio’s insistence that the Avengers were less a team than they were a dysfunctional family. Wilson is clearly taking that to heart in her A-Force, because she understands something more comic book writers would do well to remember. The best superhero comics are just as focused on rescuing the world as they are on rescuing their own selves.

 

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