Only a few items of note this week, so let’s get to them!
OMAR JOINS HAN
Michael Kenneth Williams, perhaps best known as Omar on The Wire, has joined the as-yet-untitled Han Solo spinoff film! That’s literally all we know; no character hints whatsoever. Seems like LFL is at least starting to get the “wow, that’s a lot of white folks” memo, though. Faster than Marvel is, at any rate. (Source)
Maul is one of those characters where it seems like most people either love him or can’t stand him anymore. I personally fall into the second category mostly because I don’t know why he keeps not dying. But hey! A pre-TPM story about him? Count me as intrigued.
Darth Maul #1 is a lot of character building and plot set up. There’s a lot of time spent in Maul’s head and uhhh… spoilers: he’s kinda violent. At times, it felt like a little bit too much especially given that we don’t even hear about this padawan from the solicits until the last few pages but bigger fans of the character will likely really dig it. Personally, I loved getting to see Maul take on a rathtar. It’s a nice blending of the eras and besides, it’s not like Maul doesn’t have a fine tradition of taking on aliens who originally hail from much further down the timeline. One of the places where the issue fell short for me was with Palpatine. That’s not really a mark against the book and Cullen Bunn though. It’s more that I don’t think we’ll see anyone else write as great of a Palpatine as Charles Soule in our comics any time soon.
On the art front, the combination of Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard is a good one for this book. Their combined style fits nicely with the vibe Bunn seems to be going for. I definitely prefer to this to Ross’s prior Star Wars work on The Force Awakens comic adaptation.
As a side note, Marvel has continued its tradition of giving us a little something extra to go with the first issues and honestly, I could read an entire graphic novel that’s nothing but cute little droids getting into trouble if Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire write and draw it.
But back to the main Maul story… is it worth it? If you’re a fan of the character than definitely yes it is. While I liked the issue well enough, I’m inclined to hold off from telling those more of the fence to run off and buy it just yet. Ask me again after the next issue.
Darth Maul #1: Cullen Bunn/Writer, Luke Ross/Artist, Nolan Woodard/Colorist, Joe Caramagnas/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
One of the fun things about doing this retrospective is that a creator just might pop his head up with some commentary. Last post, I mentioned that Days of Fear/Nights of Anger felt like one big story. Turns out that they are! Those two arcs plus the first two I’m covering in this post are just all one big story split into bite sized chunks for the retailers. (Thank you to the esteemed John Jackson Miller for this insight!) It’s a shame that the entire story couldn’t be in the same omnibus but that’s the way of comics, I suppose.
Daze of Hate Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Bong Dazo, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler
I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not— damnit. Here’s the thing: I’m fairly sure that I didn’t have any strong, ship feelings about these two when I first read this comic. I don’t know what changed now unless JJM has some magical ability to go back in time after making me fall for Hera/Kanan to make me fall for another ship? (I used to live such a happy ship-free life, kids.)
An issue like this one never fails to be bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a very satisfying ending to a great book. On the other hand… the book’s ending. That’s the downside to these miniseries. I’d love to see books like this, Princess Leia, and Obi-Wan & Anakin go on for arc after arc but instead we only get 5 issues. Treasure them while you can.
This book is just so damn pretty. I suspect that some Star Wars fans who don’t have as strong of a comics background don’t know how damn lucky we are to get Mark Brooks doing interiors on this book and Sonia Oback’s colors just make the pages pop ever more. This book was a goddamn gift for the artwork alone and Marjorie Liu’s script makes it doubly so. Why hasn’t this book get more appreciation than it does?
So many things about this book have just been so darn fun. It was definitely a character study for Han but plot line about the mission for the Rebel Alliance and the race were definitely enjoyable to follow. I especially loved how the race announcer narrated this issue. The stakes were high (in more ways than one) but that never stopped this book from being fun.
As mentioned in previous issue review, this was definitely an uncertain Han Solo that we’d never really seen before and Liu deftly takes him more towards the certainty that we’re used to. It’s such a natural progression. The “mirror made up of others” line may have been a bit on the nose but Han might be the one character for whom it really works. Sometimes you just need to smack that boy over the head with an idea for him to get it especially when there’s a rebellion or a woman involved. Speaking of ladies, the final page with him and Leia is so note perfect that it hurts.
If you’ve been holding off on this book for the final verdict, wait no longer. Han Solo is definitely cleared for take off. Pick up the floppies, pick up the trades in a few months; whichever. But definitely make sure you read this book.
Han Solo #5: Marjorie Liu/Writer, Mark Brooks/Artist, Sonia Oback & Matt Milla/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Insisting that only women/creators of color should write women/characters of color is part of the problem.
It’s an inevitable protestation brought up every time a comic company announces a new comic about a character that’s not a white guy. Most recently, the internet is all aflutter because Brian Bendis (who happens to be white) is writing Riri Williams, the black teenage girl who’s going to be the new Iron Man. Some parts of the internet want to see a WOC on the book instead. While I can most certainly appreciate the sentiment behind the movement, I find it to be a little more harmful than helpful for two very big reasons.
First, it sends the message that only women should write women or POCs should write POCs. For some books, having creators who have had the same life experiences as the characters is absolutely invaluable. Very few people would disagree that the life experiences of Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson do not play a fundamental role in creating Kamala Khan. Ta-Nehisi Coates also brings a unique point of view to his Black Panther book. So yes, there are absolutely some books that require a creative team with that intimate knowledge and strongly benefit from it. Every book doesn’t. In a way, it’s almost insulting to those everyone involved. Writers are supposed to have imaginations. If they only wrote about things they specifically experienced, fiction would be terribly boring.
Second, I truly believe that it actively discourages white male writers from creating characters of color. Bendis and artist Stefano Caselli get credit for creating Riri and hey, this is hardly the first time Bendis has created a young black character to take over the mantel of a white guy… Miles Morales anyone? Objectively speaking, why would someone want to create a diverse character when they know they’re just going to be faced with backlash for wanting to write a character they’ve made? I’m not saying we need to give white guys a gold star for making diverse characters but maybe a little credit or a nod of appreciation wouldn’t hurt.
The solution isn’t to stop asking for more women and minorities to get jobs creating comics (and everything else) we love so much. Instead, the solution is to ask for it more broadly and praise it when it happens. We should celebrate the work of Marjorie Liu on Han Solo and Becky Cloonan on Punisher a hell of a lot more than we do. To me, assignments like those are more groundbreaking than if Liu had been asked to write a Rey book or Cloonan a Wasp book (although I would not object to either of those.) Start bringing up the names of female and POC creators on your wish lists for books like Batman and Wolverine and not just Wonder Woman and Spider-Woman. And yes. I hope that in fifteen years, there’s going to be a young black woman writing the adventures of Riri because the character inspired her as a kid.
But (and this is a big but) let’s not pigeonhole or discourage writers from writing diverse experiences. We should absolutely continue to make our voices be heard in asking for more diversity amongst both the characters and creators. Change happens because people speak up and show that there is a demand for a certain type of story or character. Hold companies accountable but do so broadly and not just in a narrow lane.
I got the chance to record a quick interview with Raina Telgemeier, Eisner award-winning creator of the all-ages graphic novels Smile, Sisters, and Drama, as well as the the Babysitters Club graphic novel adaptations, at the Alaska Robotics Mini-Con in Juneau this April. Listen to us discuss webcomics, birds, and the wonderfulness of Rey.
You can find Raina Telgemeier at her website here and on twitter as @goraina. Her next graphic novel, Ghosts, will be available for purchase September 13 wherever fine books are sold.
USA Today announced yesterday that a Poe Dameron ongoing, written by Charles Soule and art by Phil Noto, will begin in April. And there was much rejoicing at Tosche Station! It’s described as a Mission: Impossible style story, with Poe on his mission to find Lor San Tekka, and will feature BB-8 and some of the other X-wing pilots we saw in The Force Awakens. Since it’s an ongoing, can we expect to see the story go past the events of TFA?
(In case you were wondering, yes, this is the way to get Nanci interested in subscribing to an ongoing comics series.)
It’s the end of 2015, which means it’s time for Best of Lists! Here at Tosche Station, we thought we’d break up our lists into categories, and post a different topic per day.
In this installment, we discuss our favorite comics of 2015.
Shoshana: There were a lot of comics I really enjoyed this year, many of which are aimed at younger audiences. As far as continuing traditionally published comics go, Lumberjanes continues to be one of the most fun and diverse adventure comics around and Ms. Marvel is still as great as ever. There were a lot of great new comics, too, with the magical girl series Zodiac Starforce really standing out with its fun writing and art and memorable characters. Other new comics I had a blast with this year include Squirrel Girl, a very fun and wonderfully silly comic following the exploits of a superhero who can talk to squirrels and who absolutely beat Doctor Doom in her first appearance, Jem and the Holograms, the comic reimagining of the 1980s cartoon, and Raven: Pirate Princess, a spin-off of the also wonderful comic Princeless that follows Raven, a lesbian pirate princess seeking to build a crew and reclaim the fleet that her brothers stole from her.
On the webcomics front, this year I discovered the joy ofBand Vs Band, about the two very different lead singers of two very different bands, neither of whom seems to have quite figured out that they’re totally into each other, and the wonderful pain ofWitchy, following a young witch who tries to hide her long hair in a magical kingdom where hair length equals magical power and too much power equals a potential threat to authorities.
Bria: I could talk about Ms. Marvel or Saga (which are both fantastic) but those are on everyone’s best of lists. So instead, let me just put in some applause of Sam Humphries’ Planet Hulk which featured GLADIATOR CAPTAIN AMERICA RIDING A T-REX and also the newly started Doctor Strange by Jason Aaron. I’m also mourning the loss of the fantastic Elektra which lasted only a dozen or so issues. 2015 was the year when I finally got to start reading Gillen and McKelvie’s Wicked + Divine and it blew me away. Also on the indie front, Monstress and Invisible Republic rock my socks more than I could possibly say.
Character and/or relationship spoilers for several comics lay below. Be warned.
Several months have passed since my last list of excellent comics with excellent queer major characters for excellent younger folk and it seems long over to revisit the topic with three more recommendations! This time, by sheer coincidence, all three comics feature queer women of color.