For more than two years now, Marvel Comics has received a lot of attention for its emphasis on female characters. It began in 2012 when Carol Danvers was named the new Captain Marvel and launched her own series by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, which spawned a passionate and very active fan collective known as the Carol Corps. Then Carol's former mantle of Ms. Marvel was bestowed on a Muslim teenager named Kamala Khan, and another critically acclaimed fan phenomenon was born. Then the publisher announced that the Asgardian hero Thor would fall from grace, and that his name and his legendary hammer would be given to a woman. Add to that acclaimed series starring Black Widow, an all-female X-Men team book and more, and you've got a pretty good time for female characters at Marvel, with many fans clamoring for more.
Well, now they're getting it.
We were promised some shakeups when Marvel announced the universe-altering stakes of its Secret Wars event, and it turns out one of them will be A-Force, an all-female Avengers title from writers G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel), Marguerite Bennett (Angela: Asgard's Assassin) and artist Jorge Molina (X-Men). According to USA Today, the book will begin in the patchwork that is Battleworld, in Arcadia, which Wilson describes as a "feminist paradise." When a familiar Marvel threat re-emerges there, it's up to an all-female team of Avengers to assemble and stop it. According to Wilson, Marvel gave the creative team, and editor Daniel Ketchum, free rein to choose the team roster, as long as they were all women.
"They've become very committed in the last couple of years to telling new stories, to gender diversity, to getting more voices out there so they said, 'Here's the roster. Go nuts,'" Wilson said.
So, who's on the team? Well, as you can see from the art above (and the cover below) it's a pretty big group, but in the forefront are characters like She-Hulk, Medusa, Dazzler and Nico Minoru of The Runaways fame. There's also a brand-new character, a pocket universe come to life called Singularity, who Wilson compares to Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. After choosing a female form and joining the team, Singularity has to learn what it means to be a sentient through interactions with her team.
"Her entire existence is so unlike that of ours that she really has to learn about what we think of as being an individual and having an identity from the ground up," Wilson said, "with no point of access except those she meets."
In choosing the team, Wilson and company used the fractured universe of Secret Wars to their advantage, taking the chance to unite characters who might not otherwise ever really interact, including characters who aren't used to taking orders from others. Wilson said close attention was also paid to the power sets of each character, and creating a dynamic where they don't just choose to work together, but must.
"I want people whose power sets really build on each other so that there are specific limitations that can only become overcome by working together," Wilson said. "Nobody's so overpowered that it gets boring and nobody's so underpowered that they have to be saved all the time. I wanted a balance visually and practically."
A-Force will arrive in May, amid the rest of Secret Wars, but it will definitely be kicking off yet another wave of discussion about representation and diversity in comics right this minute, something Wilson is happy to be a part of.
"We're having very interesting discussions in comics about gender, about competing ideologies, about how to be inclusive without making fans of the classic canon feel alienated. These are big questions for the whole industry right now and everybody is grappling to answer in fresh and relevant ways. So to be part of that is very, very cool for me."
What do you think? Will A-Force be on your pull list?
(Via USA Today)