Archive for Wonder Woman

Back in the Swing


Spidey #1

Here’s this great new series by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw focusing on Spider-Man when he was still in high school. He tangles with the White Rabbit, does badly on a pop quiz, get pushed around by Flash Thompson and rescued by Gwen Stacy, and visits Oscorp just in time for an attack by Dr. Octopus. Can puny Parker save the day — and what more terrible menace is now keeping an eye on him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and art — the art is very reminiscent of Art Adams, by the way, which is definitely a good thing. And it’s always great to be able to revisit Peter Parker’s youth — Spidey’s glory days were definitely his high school years, and while this is modernized quite a bit — the Wall-Crawler takes a selfie of himself and White Rabbit after he defeats her — this story still has the feel of the classic era.


The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Well, Amadeus Cho, 19-year-old Korean-American smartass, buddy of both the Hulk and Hercules, eighth smartest person in the world, now has gamma-spawned powers of his own. So he runs around the world with his super-genius sister Maddy, beating up monsters (and often getting beat up by them, too), and getting accustomed to how gamma radiation messes with his own rage issues. So is life gonna be all sunshine and bacon cheeseburgers for Amadeus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, I could take or leave Frank Cho — he draws pretty, but his arrogance always makes me want to find more interesting artists. But Greg Pak writing Amadeus Cho? Yeah, I’m down with that.


Prez #6

The whole country is freaking out about the cat flu, and Boss Smiley and his corporate flunkies have crafted a bill to let them cure the flu, but also give them the right to patent any living organism. President Beth Ross thinks that sounds like bull, and she throws ’em out. The bill gets passed over her objections, but a very wealthy supporter manages to patent the DNA of the corporate goons himself and threatens to sue them for existing. Meanwhile, the former War Beast drone, now calling herself Tina, wants to live her own life and is looking for a new job. Might that include protecting the President from deranged cat-flu worshipers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice political satire with a cool sci-fi edge. (The comic makes a point that Tina is transgender — which I’m not sure is entirely accurate for an only-recently sapient genderless robot. Personally, I think what makes her really interesting is her embrace of evangelical Christianity…)


Sensation Comics #17

The final issue of this series features a story by the great Trina Robbins. Wonder Woman meets up with the Cheetah, who reveals that the plant that grants her cheetah-like powers is almost extinct — and without it, she’ll die. Diana agrees to fly her to the island where the berries are native and help her harvest the last of them, but her invisible jet is shot down. They discover a mad scientist has been using the berries to transform animals into quasi-human forms. When Lex Luthor sends his goons to shut down the project, a bloodbath ensues. Can Wonder Woman rescue everyone? Can the Cheetah be saved? Or will she become worse than ever before?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The cheetah-human hybrid really is tailor-made for an “Island of Dr. Moreau” pastiche, right? The art by Chris Gugliotti is a bit funky, but I’m really happy to see any and all stories by Trina Robbins, so it’s all good, as far as I’m concerned.


All Star Section Eight #6

The miniseries wraps up with Sixpack getting to hang out with Superman in the Fortress of Solitude. Sixpack confesses that he’s afraid he’s not real, that his adventures are just the hallucinations of a drunk freezing to death in an alley. But Supes tells him it’s all real, shows him a statue of Sixpack as one of the world’s great heroes and… hands him a bottle of whiskey. But just as Section 8’s leader is ready to go, the rest of his team is falling apart. Will there be anyone to save the world from All-Consuming Evil?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The rapid self-destruction of the team is really the funniest bit of the issue, though the hallucinatory Superman telling Sixpack “It’s going to be okay” while  handing him a bottle of rotgut is grimly hilarious. Still, I do wish this issue had lived up to the promise of the previous one.

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War on Christmas


Klaus #1

Revisionist, dark and gritty origins of Santa Claus seem like they’d be a dime a dozen — but when it’s an independent comic written by Grant Morrison, I’m a bit more likely to give it a shot.

The good news is — it’s not that dark and gritty. Yeah, it’s set in a distant past when a half-civilized hunter named Klaus hauls in a load of slaughtered deer to the walled city of Grimsvig. His memories of a happier town are much different from the current situation here — it’s a joyless place, with most of the men slaving away in the mines, guards abusing citizens, and children banned from playing or owning any sort of toy, even improvised ones like rocks. The tyrannical leader, Lord Magnus, exults in his power, while his spoiled son Jonas is the only child allowed to have toys — and he despises all of them.

Klaus, meanwhile, takes offense when a guard beats a child, but he’s quickly outnumbered, beaten, and forced from the city, while the guards stalk him to kill him. He’s saved by his pet wolf, Lilli, but he’s still on the outside of the city, eating a mushroom-stocked broth to heal from his wounds, and wondering how he can make life better for the children in Grimsvig. Can one of Klaus’ psychedelic visions hold the answer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, it’s not dark and gritty, and that means it’s a lot better than I’d feared. Yeah, Klaus kills deer, attacks guards, get furious about injustice — which is really just fine with me. There’s a core of Klaus’ character that feels true to the familiar Santa Claus myths — he loves kids, he doesn’t like people who abuse kids, he’s willing to do hard work with his hands — and there’s toys involved at the end, too. This looks like it’ll be good fun.


Sensation Comics #16

In our first story, Diana visits Gotham City and encounters the mythical monster Echidna, who’s trying to track some kidnappers of children — monster children, actually. Diana offers to help — partly because Echidna is not good at investigation and tends to just kill people she should be interrogating. She ends up meeting Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Professor Pyg — but is she just getting the runaround? Will she be able to save the children before it’s too late? In our second story, Wonder Woman and Superman hang out and perform a few feats. Wondy officiates over a gay wedding and implies that, if she’s not a lesbian, she’s at least not straight either, which has gotten this issue a certain amount of notoriety.

Verdict: Thumbs down, which is too bad, ’cause I wanted to like this one. It’s got guest stars — it’s actually fun to see Wonder Woman interact with Bat-foes like Harley and Pyg — it’s got excellent fights and action, it works hard to come up with some good character moments. But no, the art is weird, the dialogue is stilted, the character moments are ham-fisted, and I just didn’t get that much joy out of the comic.

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Jughead Rises


Jughead #1

Archie Comics sure have been interesting lately, haven’t they? The newest relaunch of one of the classic titles is written by Chip Zdarsky, artist on “Sex Criminals” and writer on “Howard the Duck,” and Erica Henderson, artist on “Squirrel Girl.” And that’s enough to get me interested in reading the book.

There’s been a shocking shakeup at Riverdale High — Mr. Weatherbee is no longer principal, and the scoundrel Mr. Stanger is his replacement. Stanger is a clean-cut control freak, but Jughead just doesn’t care — nothing can cut through his aura of apathy. But then Stanger replaces all the food in the cafeteria with nutritious purple glop — and Jughead completely loses it. After Jughead passes out from the strain of caring about something, there follows a fantasy dream sequence where Jughead must face off against a dragon for Infinite Hamburgers. And then he goes to a home economics class to learn how to make his own hamburgers. But how will all this return normal food to the cafeteria again?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and writing. Interesting twists on classic characters — while still letting them remain in their classic personalities. And boy, Mr. Stanger is entirely the most rotten villain the Archie comics have ever seen…


Avengers #0

This is essentially a preview for the Avengers comics that’ll be coming out soon, with a framing device of the new Squadron Supreme killing off a bunch of Skrulls and making plans for whenever they have to eventually take down all the Avengers. We get the Vision seeing ghosts from the past, a precognitive SHIELD agent being forced to see the future for a bunch of creepy aliens, Deadpool taking an unexpected assignment, and America Chavez taking an unusual tactic to close a dimensional breach.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wide variety of writers and artists with a bunch of very short and kinda vague stories — but if they meant to try to get me interested in some of these new series — well, they did the job. Only downside is the high $6 price tag.


Sensation Comics #15

In this issue, we get one story about Cheetah escaping from imprisonment once again and Wonder Woman wondering why superheroes bother capturing the villains when they escape and kill over and over. In our second story, Wonder Woman meets up with a no-luck loser trying to sell a sick lion to a criminal syndicate — but can she get him to turn over a new leaf through kindness and empathy?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, the stories weren’t the greatest, but I gave them extra high marks because they featured art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Carla Speed McNeil.

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The Choke’s on You


Harley Quinn and Power Girl #3

Harley, PeeGee, and Groovicus Mellow are trying to find the captured Vartox. After beating up a bunch of spaceships, Groovicus gets everyone high with space-weed, which leads to a short Hunter S. Thompson-inspired mushroom samba sequence. When that’s over, they finally meet up with Vartox — but a Vartox who’s been turned evil! With a loincloth and nipple rings! Is he going to kill everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I enjoyed the hallucination sequence the most, but the entire issue is really incredibly weird. I do consider this a good thing, obviously.


Sensation Comics #13

Wonder Woman intrudes on a footrace by a trio of girls, then spends a certain amount of time gloating about it and telling the star runner of the girls that she should try to be better. And then Superwoman, the evil superpowered Lois Lane from Earth-3, shows up and starts a fight. They also preach at each other a lot and endanger the girls.

Verdict: Thumbs down. No, I really didn’t enjoy this a smidge. I entirely agreed with the girls at the beginning, when they pointed out that a god-powered super-being doesn’t get to brag about being able to run faster than normal teenagers. And the Wondy-Superwoman battle also cheesed me off. It wasn’t particularly exciting, and I was bugged that Diana didn’t try to get the fight farther away from the girls, especially after Superwoman showed a willingness to put them in danger. It just seemed like a story that wasn’t working as hard to be great as the other tales in the series…

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Bullseye Girls


Harley Quinn and Power Girl #2

While Power Girl takes the thankless job of tanking a bunch of alien ships, Harley has to figure out how to stop a killbot when she has no weapons. Later, they all run into an alien supergroup called the XGF — the Ex-Girlfriend Force — all former lovers of Vartox. There’s an extended period of bickering — there’s only one man in the XGF, and he wants the team to pick a new name, and some of them are fairly jealous of Power Girl, whose alternate-reality counterpart was Vartox’s fave gal — and Harley shows up and hits everyone with hammers. So where the heck is Vartox anyway?

Verdict: Ehh, not a complete thumbs down, but I wasn’t wildly impressed. The character work is fine, the art is fine, the jokes went on a bit long and got a smidge repetitive.


Sensation Comics #12

In our first story, Wonder Woman discovers that Poison Ivy is attacking Themyscira — only to learn that Ivy is here only because she felt a warning from Gaia telling her to come here. The Amazons realize that a warning from Gaia means the monster Typhon is awakening from his ancient slumber and preparing to attack. Do Diana and Ivy have a chance against a monster vastly more powerful than they are? And in Story #2, after a particularly heinous crime by Dr. Destiny leaves Diana unsettled, Batman prescribes a vacation to a small mountain town with a Solomon Grundy problem…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Both stories are excellently written and illustrated. Poison Ivy’s massive tree-trunk armor is something that should be seen in comics more often.

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Apocalypse How


Ms. Marvel #16

Kamala Khan is still heartbroken that her crush, Kamran, turned out to be a supervillain — she’s busy drowning her sorrows with pushcart hot dogs — when she learns that the world is about to end. She responds to reports of panic in NYC and discovers a whole ‘nother Earth about to crash into ours. She starts working on getting her friends and family to safety — and meets up with Kamran again, who informs her that the renegade Inhumans have abducted her brother Aamir. They’re going to expose him to the Terrigen Mists, too, to awaken his Inhuman powers and see if he’ll serve them. And on top of all that, Kamala finally gets to meet her idol…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of great moments, great writing, great art. It actually feels like a crisis situation — everyone is pulling together and helping each other out. And hey, Adrian Alphona is doing the art, which means you need to start paying attention to all the little details to find the secret gags and in-jokes.


Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1

So this entire miniseries takes place between a few panels in the regular Harley Quinn comic. Harley and Power Girl end up going through an interdimensional/time portal and then reappearing moments later with new costume changes. So what happened while they were in another dimension? Let’s find out!

Once Harley and PeeGee find themselves teleported to another galaxy, they run into a quasi-Yoda pervert who has his pet hydra attack them. Once they’ve got that settled, with a combination of superstrength and conveniently-placed high-caliber weaponry, they find an abandoned but oddly familiar robot head. Hey, it’s the giant head spaceship of Vartox of Valeron! But where is Vartox? He’s being held captive by the Darkseidesque supervillain Oreth Odeox, and when the big giant head takes our heroines to the now-conquered Valeron, they’re attacked by Odeox’s forces, but they meet up with a new ally — Groovicus Mellow, Chief Science Cat to Lord Vartox.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I never really thought I’d read a comic with the New 52’s uncool version of Harley — but when it also stars Power Girl, and it’s written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner, the creators behind the very best version of Power Girl, well, I allow myself to be convinced. Conner doesn’t provide the art — that’s by Stephane Roux. The art isn’t as gloriously expressive as Conner’s, but it ain’t at all bad. All in all, it looks like this is going to be something I’ll keep reading.


Sensation Comics #11

Just a single story in this issue. Josh Elder and Jamal Igle bring us the tale of Wonder Woman traveling to the nation of Itari, which has been locked in years of war. She hopes her status as an ambassador will help the intractible enemies in the small nation learn to embrace peace. But Ares definitely doesn’t want to let peace break out, so he raises an army of the lizard-like Praetorians. Can Diana defeat the God of War and help end the hostilities in Itari?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story, along with some excellent art by Jamal Igle. I do wish we could’ve seen Etta Candy, though — she gets namedropped early on, but it seems like the kind of story where she would’ve been a lot of fun.

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A-Force or A-Farce?


A-Force #1

In the world created after the Marvel multiverse has been destroyed, the nation of Arcadia is a paradise, patrolled by scads of heroes, nearly all of whom are women, including She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Medusa, America Chavez, Pixie, Spider-Woman, Nico Minoru, Lady Loki, Storm, and more. But all is not perfect in Arcadia, after an unexpected attack from a flying megalodon shark, Ms. America gets honked off and throws it over the horizon — and breaking one of Victor von Doom’s laws — nothing passes the borders between the nations. The law is enforced by the Thors, and not even Sheriff Stephen Strange or Baroness She-Hulk herself can win her any leniency. The Thors take her away to an eternal prison, and She-Hulk decides to find out who’s hiding out in the ocean throwing giant sharks at everyone.

Verdict: I hate to say it, but thumbs down. The major problem is that this is built around a summer crossover with a lot of weird, un-superheroey rules built into it. When you’ve got a world ruled by Dr. Doom, who has the powers of a god, and everyone’s fine with that, that’s a problem. When there’s a whole enforcement arm of the global Doom-worshiping government that’s composed of a whole bunch of different versions of Thor, and they’re really nothing more than Doom’s puppets, that’s a problem. When you’ve got that many awesome characters on the cover, but most of them don’t appear inside the issue, and the one character who does something really unquestionably awesome is banished before the last page, that’s a problem. This book can be turned around, but it’ll have to break free from the summer crossover prison it’s trapped in.


Sensation Comics #10

In our first story, Wonder Woman helps defend a pop star from a deranged fan who’s angry that the innocent teenybopper he obsessed over in his youth has dared to grow up. But who’s the stalker, and who’s sabotaging the star’s tour? In our second story, Diana fights a dragon with a personal connection to the Amazons and to Wonder Woman’s mother.

Verdict: Thumbs down. In the first story, the bad guy was telegraphed way too early on, and like some of the in-story media commenters, I questioned why on earth one of the most powerful people on the planet was going to all this trouble to babysit a pop star. In the second story, I wasn’t real happy with the extremely high civilian casualties. That may be okay for DC’s grimdark New 52, but a lot of the stories in this series have been more all-ages-friendly.


Lumberjanes #14

The Lumberjanes are trying to earn a badge for basic wilderness survival — but they’re just no good at basic things like setting up tents or remembering to pack the can opener. How will they ever survive the snowstorm? Wait, why is there a snowstorm in the middle of the summer?! What are the monsters that attack everyone? Can the campers find Jen after she’s separated from the group? And who is the mysterious and vaguely ominous Abigail who rescues her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and writing. We get a story that’s simultaneously hilarious and genuinely frightening and unnerving. If you aren’t reading this, you really need to get with the program.

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The First Day of Camp


Lumberjanes #13

In this issue, we travel back in time to see how our heroines met each other on the first day of camp. We see Jo and her adorably doting (and probably very wealthy) dads; Ripley and her gigantic family of mostly identical siblings — and Ripley’s gorgeous long hair that gets gum-filled and then cut down to the short style we’re familiar with; Mal, showing up with a cab; April with her take-charge attitude and weary father; and Molly, who goes on a grand but short adventure, narrowly avoids certain doom, and acquires her raccoon hat.

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very much fun. It’s great to see how kickass all these girls were even before they met each other and started going on insane adventures together.


Sensation Comics #9

Our first story in this issue is written by Lauren Beukes and illustrated by fan-favorite artist Mike Maihack, as Wonder Woman must battle Circe, Medusa, and Cheetah — but what dire, mind-shattering secret lurks behind the scenes? The second tale is written by Cecil Castellucci, with illustrations by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Jordie Bellaire, as Lois Lane interviews Wonder Woman for the Daily Planet. Diana initially dismisses Lois as a shallow, disinterested scandal-monger, while Lois thinks of Diana as just a short puff-piece feature. But when a giant robot attacks, both spring into action to prevent chaos.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s like every issue of this series is better than the last. These aren’t just fantastic Wonder Woman stories — they’re just plain fantastic stories, period.


Ms. Marvel #14

Kamala Khan has a boyfriend! Her childhood friend Kamran grew up so dishy, and he’s an Inhuman, too, just like her! Kamran takes her on a whirlwind romance — he even sneaks her out of her house at night! So scandalous. But true love never turns out the way it should, does it. All this, plus Aamir and Bruno have a serious talk — Aamir knows Bruno loves Kamala, and he tries to lay down some hard truths about how utterly unlikely that romance is.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great story — one moment sweet and romantic, the next tense and claustrophobic. And the conversation between Aamir and Bruno is excellent — Aamir may be holding the opinions we don’t want to accept, but he makes his case well and doesn’t play the villain. He’s a big brother worried about his sister, and even if we think his concern is directed the wrong way, we still have to respect him. It’s fantastic characterization.

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Beyond the Pale


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #6

So a few months ago, Jason Quantrell, CEO of Cortex, went and got his mind obliterated and his body possessed by the Beyond Corporation, last seen in the glorious pages of Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. He turned his pet supervillainess, Quickfire, into a monster who spreads corruption to turn other people into monsters. She’s already corrupted Power Man and White Tiger, and she has no trouble at all transforming She-Hulk and Kaluu, too, leaving Captain America to fight alone. Meanwhile, Quantrell talks a bunch of nuttiness to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones before dumping them into outer space. The Blue Marvel rescues them in the nick of time, but when they mention the Beyond Corporation, Monica Rambeau loses it — she’s been told for years that the Beyond Corporation never existed and all the events of Nextwave were in her head.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Though I have my doubts that Warren Ellis is real happy with this. And Monica is getting progressively lighter-skinned — although it is good to see her back in her dreads again. But in all, it’s a good story with some nice Nextwave touches — and if we don’t see the rest of the Nextwave team, I’ll be deeply disappointed.


Sensation Comics #8

We start out with a fantastic story written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson, who we’ve seen most recently as the artist on Lumberjanes. Fifteen-year-old Princess Diana has sneaked away from Themyscira to see what the rest of the world is like. She meets up with a girl named Riley, who is upset because a bunch of boys are keeping her from playing Dance Dance Revolution. Diana’s sense of justice is awakened, and she decides to help Riley out. She also meets her friends and discovers ice cream and roller skating and laser tag and so much more. In the second story, Heather Nuhfer and Ryan Benjamin bring us a tale of Wonder Woman helping protect the fledgling Indian space program from the plots of Lex Luthor.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The second story is pretty nice, but holy frijoles, the first one, starring Wonder Teen, is absolutely outstanding. It might be the best — or at least the most pure fun — of any of the stories in this series, which was already filled with a lot of very enjoyable tales.

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Another Cancellation for the She-Hulk


She-Hulk #12

Alas, another “She-Hulk” series cancelled before its time. Has there ever been another character so cool and fun who had so much trouble keeping a series going for the long haul?

The Big Bad has been revealed — the minor superhero Nightwatch was never actually a superhero at all. He cast a spell that sacrificed everyone in a small town to make everyone think he was a hero — and the only person who knew otherwise was George Saywitz, whose lawsuit became the Blue File. Nightwatch then cast other mind-control spells to make sure that anyone investigating the Blue File would come to a bad end — and he uses his mind-controlling abilities to make Jennifer attack Hellcat. Is She-Hulk going to kill her own friend? Will Nightwatch get away with everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Or is it down? This would’ve been a very acceptable end to a simple storyarc — the bad guy is revealed and defeated, other mysteries are solved, some others are not solved, everyone prepares for the next challenge. But for the end of a series? I think we needed more than this. Maybe not more punching — Shulkie did plenty of punching in this issue — but maybe a bit more lawyering, since that’s really one of the things that Jenn Walters does best.


Sensation Comics #7

Our first story is a sci-fi mini-epic in which Wonder Woman accompanies a space station exploring the planet Venus — only to learn that there are giant monsters out there willing to attack the station and steal away anyone they can. Our second story focuses on Lt. Angel Santiago, a soldier in Afghanistan assigned to engage with Afghani women to encourage them to influence the men in their villages to oppose the Taliban. Lt. Santiago and her fellow soldiers come under attack by insurgents — and she starts seeing Wonder Woman helping them all survive. Is she hallucinating?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Both stories are really good, but they are especially cool for some of the smaller details. In the first one, with the visit to Venus, Diana has two different costumes — when we first see her, she’s just gotten back from a crisis in Karachi, Pakistan, so she’s wearing an incredibly cool star-spangled hijab. After that, she changes to a metal spacesuit version of her classic costume. And after that, she and a supporting character discuss the trials and tribulations of the modern superheroine — all very funny stuff. And in the second story, I love the fact that we never actually know if we’re operating in the DC Universe or the normal world — the story works wonderfully either way. And there’s some great attention to detail, too — several of the Afghans are depicted with red hair, which is actually not uncommon there. And the art in both stories — by Neil Googe and Bernard Chang — is exceptionally well-done. An absolutely outstanding superhero comic here, people — go pick it up.


Lumberjanes #11

Molly and Mal are trapped in a lost world — with dinosaurs and everything! — with the shapeshifting bearwoman. And they’re going to be stuck there a really long time unless they can run a gamut of deadly threats so the bearwoman can get back… her reading glasses? And back in the real world, Ripley, April, and Jo are trying to earn some entirely mundane merit badges — and failing miserably at almost all of them? How can butt-kicking adventurers have so much trouble decorating cakes, making their beds, and dancing?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as pants-wettingly awesome as some previous issues have been, but we get tons of outstanding characterization and lots of funny stuff.


Ms. Marvel #12

Loki gets dropped off in Jersey City to look for the Inventor’s henchman and ends up inventing a scheme to get Kamala to fall for her pal Bruno — mostly against Bruno’s wishes — involving slipping Kamala a cheesy love poem and enticing her to come to the school dance. Things don’t go particularly well after that.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story wants to be funny — it wants to be funny so very, very badly — and it just can’t do it.

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