This week, the subject of our main review is the annual Women of Marvel anthology! Arriving in time for Women’s History Month, we’re going to spoil all the surprises inside this issue. Skip ahead to the Rapid Rundown for a blurb on Monica Rambeau: Photon #4 if you’re looking to avoid spoilers!
What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics releases? The Beat wants to know what you’re thinking! Share your thoughts with us, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat.
Women of Marvel (2023) #1
Main Cover By: Erica D’Urso & Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Designer: Stacie Zucker
The annual Women of Marvel anthology has arrived, and it brought paper dolls! Here’s The Beat’s point-by-point breakdown of this essential issue.
Written by: Charlie Jane Anders
Avery Kaplan: First of all, it sends a clear message to have a trans woman write the introduction of this year’s Women of Marvel anthology. I see and appreciate that message.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan: Agreed. It says trans women are women. I think it was the right decision to have Anders write the introduction for Women of Marvel (instead of Marvel’s Voices: Pride) because of the message it sends.
AJK: I also want to say that if you haven’t been following the work Anders has done in Marvel’s Voices: Pride (2022) #1 and New Mutants… you’re missing out! One of the best parts of these anthologies are the further development of the characters they introduce, and Escapade is a stellar example of this potential fulfilled.
“What a Girl Wants”
Story: Rebecca Roanhorse
Pencils & Inks: Carola Borelli
Colors: Ruth Redmond
AJK: The frame story for Women of Marvel (2023) sees Jen Walters arguing against Dennis “Buck” Bukowski, one of She-Hulk’s longest-standing adversaries. While I enjoyed this face-off and the general case made by Walters, I would have liked to see a little more development in terms of the catalyst for this legal opposition.
ROK: I tried to take my ex-lawyer cap off and suspend my disbelief, but I struggled with the frame. It didn’t add much to the issue and wasn’t my favorite representation of She-Hulk. I prefer She-Hulk stories that are a little more savage (like Mariko Tamaki) or a little more legal (like Charles Soule), not Law & Order: Girls Gone Wild.
AJK: I did enjoy the inclusion of Shulkie’s meta elements!
“Sing Your Heart Out”
Story: Victoria Ying
Pencils & Inks: Jodi Nishijima
Colors: Brittany Peer
AJK: I thought this story was especially cute. While there was the “supervillain” subplot, this story’s strongest showing was in the details, which strongly reminded me of time I’ve spent in similar Karaoke booths. This had the net effect of highlighting the “casual hang-out” element of Marvel Comics stories that Anders mentioned in the introduction. Plus, Mysterio always gives the opportunity for some engaging visuals, and this story was no exception. Awkward Karaoke videos for the win!
ROK: The whole issue really highlighted the “casual hang-out” element, giving me FOMO for the days before the pandemic (being high-risk sucks). That being said, this was my favorite story of the issue. I thought the story aligned with Silk’s character development in the recent miniseries written by Emily Kim—in which, the character’s love of music, especially South Korean artist Luna Snow, was highlighted throughout.
“Wasp Couture: Spotlight on Janet Van Dyne” & “Dress-up Wasp”
Written by: Angélique Roché
Pencils & Inks: D’Urso
AJK: I was delighted to find these paper dolls in Women of Marvel (2023) #1! Just like the Marvel Handbook pages included in Marvel’s Voices: Pride (2022) #1, this addition was clever and unexpected, but also fit perfectly with the anthology theme. As stated by Trina Robbins during the “Sassy Smart Women of Pre-Superhero Comics” panel at SDCC ‘19, paper dolls have long been a hint that a comic’s target demographic includes girls. She was referring to paper dolls of Miss Fury by June Mills in the 1940s; it’s very cool that Women of Marvel continues this long-standing comic-adjacent tradition in 2023!
ROK: I also loved seeing the paper dolls. In addition to what you’ve already mentioned, it’s also a nod to one of my favorite characters: Archie Comics’ Katy Keene, who showed the world that women, fashion, and comics DO mix. In the 1950s, Katy Keene paper dolls were extremely popular, and today, they are rare collectible items for a Katy Keene fan like myself.
AJK: My only complaint with the “Dress-up Wasp” can be easily remedied (either in Women of Marvel (2024) #1 or in an entire Marvel Comic issue or series devoted to Marvelous cut-out paper dolls): I wanted more of Janet’s outfits! Or equally exciting, a doll of Karolina paired with all those outstanding Van Dyne designer outfits Kris Anka designed for Runaways (2017). Oh, or what about dolls of Doreen, Nancy, and the rest of their stylish cohort’s outfits, as designed by Erica Henderson for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015)? THERE ARE SO MANY WONDERFUL POSSIBILITIES! When the 2025 Marvel Comics paper doll crossover event arrives, you can make mine Marvel!
“A Starling Rescue”
Story: Melissa Flores
Pencils & Inks: Stacey Lee
AJK: I will never tire of text message conversations between Kate Bishop and America Chavez. Just like I will never tire of America flirting with Kate, or with jokes about Kate sharing her name with Clint, or Lucky (A.K.A. Pizza Dog). This story checks all of these boxes! This was a swift-moving comic that capitalized on the fact that Tiana Toomes, the granddaughter of Adrian Toomes, uses the name “Starling,” just like the girls modified on the Utopian Parallel (like America). By confidently building on Marvel Comics continuity, this short comic punches above its weight class!
ROK: This story did its job: it made me want to catch up on stories with these characters. In particular, America is currently sick with something called “Edges Syndrome,” which is impacting her powers. Ever since I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I love chronic illness parallels in comics—they are rare. To comment on what you just said, Avery, I also never tire of Pizza Dog, jokes about Kate sharing her name with Clint, and the awkward queer tension between besties America and Kate.
Interview with Women of Marvel Podcast Producers
Interviewees: Isabel Robertson and Kara McGuirk-Allison
Interview by: Roché
AJK: This was a very insightful interview, both into the history of the Women of Marvel podcast (including its origins as a panel at SDCC) and into the philosophies of both Robertson and McGuirk-Allison. I especially enjoyed the shout-out to Gert of the Runaways. Long live Gert! Give her a paper doll, too!
ROK: It was interesting to learn how edited the podcast is. I figured as much, but still interesting to learn it.
Story: Shawnee & Shawnelle Gibbs
Pencils & Inks: Giulia Gualazzi
Colors: Giada Marchisio
AJK: Between the title and the setting, I half-expected this story to be inspired by Colin Robinson from What We Do in the Shadows. However, it instead features a team-up between Photon and Ms. Marvel, who are dealing with the next chapter of a story that was begun in Marvel’s Voices: Identity (2022) #1. Reading some of my Marvel Comics anthologies, I’m struck by how often key appearances of classic Marvel Comics heroes took place across anthologies, and I think it’s cool to see this tradition continued.
ROK: Re: Colin Robinson. SAME! SAME! SAME! The part of this story I enjoyed the most was seeing Monica doing “average people” things with her cousin.
Interview with Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Producer
Interviewee: Pilar Flynn
Interview by: Roché
AJK: Have you had the chance to watch Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on Disney+ yet? Because it’s outstanding! For that reason, I was delighted to see this short interview included.
ROK: If you love Marvel, then you need to watch the show. There is even a reference to Battleworld. How nerdy is that?
AJK: The current comic is excellent as well!
AJK: This was a nice reminder of just how many women are working behind the scenes to get our weekly fresh batch of Marvel Comics out to our Local Comic Shops! And while some of the individuals featured preferred artwork to photographs, these pages still make me feel like we’re due for another issue of The Marvel Fumetti Book.
ROK: This was a great feature.
- Monica Rambeau: Photon #4
- Monica Rambeau aka Photon has been on an uncontrolled multiversal trip for the past 3 issues courtesy of writer Eve L. Ewing and artist Luca Maresca. Along her travels, she has seen different iterations of her family, past Avengers lineups, and encountered several beings, cosmic and human, who have told her that she is the cause of her dimension hopping problem, in addition to fracturing and stressing the fabric of the multiverse and uncovering an interesting revelation in the nature/origin of her powers. For a character who has been relegated to a supporting role in other books, Photon is a fun mix of superhero action, humor, and positive mental health that is able to lean into nerdy nostalgia without being complete fan service. I know that Ewing is slated to take over the Black Panther in June but I would love for the occasional Monica special, for now, I’ll take what I can get. — GC3
Next week, an unlimited hero returns in It’s Jeff #1! Catch up on past Marvel Rundown entries in our archive.
The Rundown is edited by Avery Kaplan.
Love that comics series!
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