Marvel Pick Of The Week – August 12, 2015 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

A-Force 3, by Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson, and Jorge Molina

A-Force has been one of the most entertaining of the Secret Wars tie-ins, a book following She-Hulk as she manages an immense team of female superheroes against a series of strange events that keep putting her kingdom at odds with Doom’s laws for Battleworld. In the first issue, beloved character Miss America Chavez was exiled to the Shield wall for fighting back against an invading megalodon, and She-Hulk reluctantly bowed to Doom’s ruling in this. Last issue, the mutants of the team barely survived a Sentinel attack, so she took the risk of investigating these portals popping up around her island. She knew she was breaking Doom’s law, but she risked herself to keep her people safe.

This issue sees her in the Years Of Future Past kingdom long enough to attract the attention of three female Thors (Valkyrie, Gamora, and Sif) who attack her for being out of her designated zone. In escaping them, she learns that the portals are the product of a traitor on her team, and she becomes a fugitive to distract the Thors from her people and to ferret out the traitor. (I’m not saying she’s a bad detective, but she knows the portals are magic, and Loki is on her team, so maybe she’d want to start there..?)

The story is good enough, but an adventure story alone doesn’t earn Pick Of The Week. This won for three panels (and I can’t show you because SPOILERS). In the first, She-Hulk is fighting Gam-Thor-a and trying to talk sense into her. She yells, “I am not the one who made these porta–DAMN IT!” I have a pet peeve about long word bubbles during fight scenes. We just don’t have the time or the breath to drop Claremont dialogue between punches. The wording of this gave a perfect energy and cadence to the scene. You can hear exactly how long she’s standing still and when she pivots to dodge the sword. I want more writers to look at these word bubbles.

The next panel comes from a reveal of a potential traitor. The Thors have arrived on Arcadia armed for bear, and a popular member of A-Force immobilizes the other women for the Thors to arrest. When She-Hulk screams her disbelief, the character holds her head and intones, “I told you. Always have I told you. Do your duty. Or I will be forced to do it for you.” The betrayal alone was enough to drop my jaw, but the self-important explanation chilled me. This was a woman who absolutely believes in the righteousness of her betrayal, and the pain of the lost friendship is that much deeper as a result.

The panel that made this a Pick, though, comes after the death of one of my favorite A-Force members, as Nico Minoru and a friend run for cover from the Thors. The tension is high, and any of these women could be the next victim of bloodthirsty Thors, but Nico’s friend plants her feet and refuses to let her run any farther. Nico’s confused – why aren’t they escaping? And the friend opens her arms, embraces the young witch, and holds her as cries for the friend she’s lost. Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson absolutely understand the importance of life, death, and friendship, and they dedicate a whole page of an otherwise action-packed issue to remind us that we have to grieve our fallen. In my day job, I am a psychiatrist, and I tend to preferentially pick comic books that illustrate important psychological truths. This is the most honest moment in comics this week: when we lose someone, we have to let ourselves feel this. We have to cry, to grieve, to hug. We’ll keep running later. We’ll do our work. But we can’t skip this step.

Secret Wars has another couple of months to run, and I expect we will see more fight scenes, more surprising twists, and more deaths. I only hope that the books can look to this issue as an example of how to show these with truth.

Honorable Mentions:

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 8, for this one-page master class in humor. We get to smile and giggle, but we also learn a ton about who Nancy is as a character and why we should all consider being best friends with her.

Secret Wars 5, because Doom may be the scariest dad ever.

Catch up on previous Picks here!

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