1. Ms. Marvel (No. 5, Aug 2014, Marvel) – G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Ian Herring
On top of my jam pile this week is Ms. Marvel #5. Dedicated to “all our dads, babas and abus,” with issue 5 we finally get to see Kamala Khan move out of her origin story and become a full-fledged superhero as she sorts out her costume and meets her first big baddy. What makes this series particularly special is the way that Wilson juxtapositions the growing pains of a typical teenage Asian American fangirl and the emerging difficulties of a superhero proper. As a first generation Asian American myself what I’ve identified with the most are the talks and shouting matches between Kamala and her immigrant parents. A sample of the verbal sparring and gulit-trips from this month’s issue:
KAMALA’S MOM: Acha. So this is how you repay your father and me for all that we have sacrificed to raise you! Deliberately disobeying us, sneaking out, coming home looking like — like —
KAMALA: I can explain!
KAMALA’S MOM: THEN START EXPLAINING! My — my beautiful daughter is destroying her life!
KAMALA: Oh, my God … are you crying?! Please don’t cry —
KAMALA’S DAD: [Yawn!] What on earth is going on down here?
KAMALA’S MOM: Ask your child!
KAMALA: No, don’t ask her. I don’t even know anymore.
KAMALA’S DAD: It’s all right, Muneeba. I’ll talk to her.
KAMALA’S MOM: She is ruining this family!
KAMALA’S DAD: No one is ruining anything. Get some sleep.
2. Lumberjanes (No. 3, June 2014, Boom! Box) – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen & Maarta Laiho
Not entirely hooked on this title, but it’s still early days yet. For myself, the most compelling character thus far has been Jen the camp counselor – and in this month’s issue she only makes an appearance in the last few panels. What will be telling going forward is if the writers can make these characters individually compelling when they’re not thrown into group adventures. Looking forward to next month’s issue where the Lumberjanes will be on moose stable duty for ditching their counselor.
3. The X-Files: Season 10 (No. 13, June 2014, IDW) – Joe Harris, Matthew Dow Smith & Jordie Bellaire
If X-Files is your Star Wars, you’re going to want to check out Nerdist’s Kumail Nanjiani’s podcast The X-Files Files where him and a guest proceed to talk about their favorite episodes. The show is for both long-time X-Files fans and people who may have just discovered the show on Netflix. This month’s issue of season 10 captures why we all fell in love with the series in the first place. Expect a cameo by the Lone Gunmen, the return of Krycek, and an unexpected inhabitation by the black, alien ooze.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man (No. 3, Aug 2014, Marvel) – Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba & Edgar Delgado
Reading Nate Pritts’ musings on the Silver Surfer reminded me why I fell in with Dan Slott’s Spider-Man in the first place. No better way to get a child to begin to really wrestle with what it means to be responsible and act for the greater good.
5. Red Sonja (No. 10, June 2014, Dynamite) – Gail Simone & Walter Geovani
It’s the Trojan Horse technique: Get typically chauvinistic fanboys to purchase Red Sonja on the strength of the hypersexualized cover art by Jenny Frison. And when they least suspect it – slip in Gail Simone’s progressive, Feminist worldview. An ideological sleight of hand, bait and switch at its finest. Let’s just hope they crack open the book to get a taste of the emancipatory kernel inside.