Gender Issues: Marvel Week is Dull – Albeit Pretty

Looks like it’s Marvel week once again here at Gender Issues. Some stuff I read because it’s great, and some I read out of habit. We’ll look at both today; All-New X-Factor continues to disappoint me (and yet I keep reading it). I want Black Widow to be amazing, but it’s mostly dull – albeit very pretty. Captain Marvel is headed in a new direction, one I’m looking forward to following. I’m enjoying Mighty Avengers more and more with each issue, especially with the new artistic team.

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All-New X-Factor #04 – Peter David (W) & Carmine Di Giandomenico (A)

I know Gambit is known for being a womanizer, but kissing Danger is a ridiculous way to bring her back to herself. I don’t know what kind of history these two have together, but I don’t think it was properly romantic; and Danger obviously doesn’t consent to the kiss, since she has no idea who she is, let alone who Gambit is. She doesn’t seem bothered by it afterward, at least, but I was still uncomfortable with the whole thing. Lorna, the only other woman in the issue, is getting irrational in her destructive tendencies. I know she’s dealing with some issues (mainly learning that she was responsible for her parents’ deaths), but it seems like it’s all being played for a laugh. I want to like this series, because I love the characters and Di Giandomenico’s art is great, but it’s becoming harder with each issue.

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Black Widow #04 – Nathan Edmondson (W) & Phil Noto (A)

I had to re-read this entire issue to remember what had happened in it. The main thing that stuck out for me was a short scene between Natasha and Maria Hill, since I’m glad to see some supporting cast for Black Widow, especially other women. But even with that, this series is repetitive and boring. Each issue follows the same basic formula, with this one deviating enough to require two (or more) issues to complete the story; and the villains are religious fanatics, how original. It’s a shame, since Black Widow could bring new readers in who enjoyed her in the Marvel films, and she deserves a great solo series. Phil Noto’s art is still gorgeous, but I feel like Edmondson could be doing so much more with the spy/assassin concept than we’re getting here.

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Captain Marvel #01 – Kelly Sue DeConnick (W) & David Lopez (A)

The flash-forward at the beginning is the best part of this issue, so I’m excited to get to that point in the story, although I enjoyed Carol and Tony chatting while nonchalantly stopping crime. I can also get behind Carol and Rhodey as a couple, and I think they make a lot more sense than that Frank guy Carol was flirting with last year. Most of this issue feels like it’s wrapping up what came before, reminding us about Carol’s support cast and setting up the alien activity we glimpsed at the beginning. The renumbering was completely unnecessary, and this felt more like a bridge than an introduction, but Captain Marvel continues to be Marvel’s most important current woman-helmed title, so hopefully we can get to a new stage in Carol’s life before her life on Earth starts to feel stale.

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Mighty Avengers #08 – Al Ewing (W) & Valerio Schiti (A)

Blue Marvel was a focus of much of this issue, giving She-Hulk and Spectrum the chance to fight things on his behalf, making this the second issue in a row where these ladies get stuff done while the boys sit around and watch. Naturally they’re the best at what they do, but more importantly, this issue continues Ava’s struggle with the White Tiger god who gives her powers. Ava (or the Tiger) has been imprisoned in a cell for “Thanos-level threats,” which gives an idea of the kind of power she’s packing. But rather than waiting to be released, Ava threatens the Tiger spirit. Humans are at the top of the food chain, we put tigers in zoos – we’re not scared of them anymore. Ava will likely be the last avatar of the Tiger, since the amulets have proven so dangerous, so she basically threatens this ancient, powerful being to submit to her will – and it does. Ava escapes, more powerful than ever, and with more control of those powers. It should be interesting to see where she goes from here.

X-Factor was so good once, it’s so disappointing that its All-New successor feels more like its unspectacular end than its impressive beginning. I hoped that a fresh start would inject some quality back into the series, but it seems I was wrong. I don’t know what else to say about Black Widow – I’ll probably keep reading it, but I don’t get excited when a new issue hits the shelf. I’m more excited about Captain Marvel, especially the aliens in the flash-forward, so I hope we can get to them quickly. Carol in space sounds like more fun than Carol continuing an identity crisis. And Mighty Avengers is a fun team comic with some great characters, I hope it slows down its release schedule so they can take their time and keep producing a quality product.

How do you feel about Marvel’s current lady-helmed series? I want to support them, but I also want them to be good – I’m conflicted. What do you think the successful ones are doing right? Or the less-successful ones are doing wrong?

Allison is a part-time superhero, space bounty-hunter and crayon-colour-namer. When not reading or editing comics, you may find her watching old horror films or looking at pictures of puppies on the Internet.