ISSUE #54: Girls Assemble!

 

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILERS!

 

Welcome back, CBSI’ers, to another installment of Cover Tunes. I assume that the vast majority of you spent the weekend watching and dissecting all things Avengers: Endgame like I did (and am still doing). The three-hour epic was largely quite a satisfying conclusion to the 21-film juggernaut that has been the MCU since the first Iron Man film hit back in 2008. It’s actually hard to believe it has been that long. Sure, this film has its hiccups, but the fact the movie largely delivered on expectations that for some viewers were almost unfairly high, it definitely hit the mark. Pleasing everyone after 21 films of build-up is an almost impossible task. However, it seems to have beaten those insurmountable odds and for that alone it should be commended.  

AGAIN, May contain Avengers: Endgame spoilers… you’ve been warned. I will not specifically spoil any actual plot for Endgame, but if you are in the spec game even the slightest little bit, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not seen A-Force-related titles spiking in value. Stephanie Hans’ variant for A-Force #1 and Savage She-Hulk #1 are the primetime candidates, at the moment, but there are plenty of other sweet covers, too. We’ll take a look at a few, this week.

What I’m about to write will probably not be popular with some people, but I have to admit, when I first saw the all-girl moment in Endgame, I cringed. It was the only moment in the movie where I was like, “Really?!” I felt it was forced (no pun intended). I am frankly sick of the anvil-over-the-head feminism in TV and film, these days. The strength of female heroes should be subtle and not forced on audiences. If done in that manner, broader audiences will more fully embrace those characters (see Laura Kinney/X-23 in comics and in Logan for a perfect example of how to do this correctly).

With that said, I truly hope that Marvel will roll this team out (either individually or together) in the manner that these characters deserve and not make it an out-and-out feminism parade. Women deserve to have these characters treated respectfully rather than gratuitously. I don’t know how much of the original A-Force lineup will see screen time as Marvel/Disney moves forward, but there are certainly some cool possibilities if they do. Here are a few covers highlighting some of the original core members. (NOTE: I’ve omitted Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel on account of my featuring her covers quite often in Cover Tunes in the past).      

 

A-Force #7 (2016 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2016

ARTIST:  Ben Caldwell

I had to include one of my favorite A-Force covers, this week. I’m not sure I even entirely know why I love this cover so much. It is a very common cover and pops up in dollar bins all the time. I think it’s the framing of the cover that I like so much along with the far eastern feel of the inking and color work. It is striking and has an amazing palette. I always feel like it’s a variant cover when I see it, but of course it’s not. Either way, it’s a great Nico Minoru cover that ISN’T a Runaways cover.

NOTE: Please, see the quick hits at the bottom of the article for an amazing Runaways Nico cover.

 

A-Force #8B (2016 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – October, 2016

ARTIST: Rahzzah (Rahzzah Murdock)

Big shout to Clint Joslin who had this on his Artist Spotlight, last week for Rahzzah. It is such an amazing cover that I cannot even fathom why it’s a dollar bin dig. As such, I wanted to give this one just a little extra lovin’ beyond Clint’s inclusion of it. This was a “B” cover and was cover price on release day. It was the 50th Anniversary Black Panther cover, so not technically A-Force related, specifically. However, since we could see any female heroes on the eventual “screen team,” even Shuri is possible, especially if she takes over the Black Panther mantle. Anyhow, this is such a gorgeously macabre cover, I can only describe it as perfect.

 

She-Hulk #29 (2005 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 2008

ARTIST: Mike Deodato Jr.

So, She-Hulk series have been plagued by a lot of bad covers over the years. The design of the character lends itself to either looking awesome or awful. There seems to be no in between. The really good early covers from Byrne and others from the first two series (Savage and Sensational) are pretty pricey, these days. So, rather than force one of the other (lower-priced) mediocre covers in here, I decided to just focus on one of the slightly more modern books of which there a variety of amazing covers by Granov, Horn, Deodato and others.

With that, I give you this incredibly sexy cover by Deodato that I never hear anyone mention. However, I didn’t JUST choose it because of how hot it is. I chose it because of the depth, perspective and the impeccable use of lighting. So few covers actually include shadows where they should be and it shows an understanding by the artist of the light source on their compositions. It also adds great dimensionalism and sense of space. Additionally, I am a sucker for the inclusion of trade dress into the actual art. This one does it really well.

Deodato so often gets overlooked much like Land and Granov, but he has some unbelievable covers like this one, for instance. For other great Deodato covers in this run, check out #23 in the quick hits, below. #24 is pretty great, as well. I almost chose both of them. All can be had for cover price or less.

 

Dazzler #32 (1981 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 1984

ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz

I already covered Sienkiewicz’s Dazzler #28 in Issue #13 of Cover Tunes (which I believe is one of his best ever covers), but his entire little run on the title is amazing. Regardless of whether Blaire ever becomes Thor, this character will see action in her own series (along with Tigra) on Disney Streaming, soon. This cover is all sorts of dynamic and, while extremely impressionistic, captures an amazing action moment as only Sink can. From an A-Force perspective, the inclusion of Medusa and the Inhumans on this cover made it the obvious choice, this week.    

 

Marvel Age #69 (1983 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – December, 1988

ARTIST: Bret Blevins

Speaking of Medusa… man-oh-man do I love this cover. I wish it weren’t on a Marvel Age since there is so much trade dress. However, the art on this one transcends all the clutter and is an unsung masterpiece. The layout is superb and the flow and movement of the piece is exquisite. It is simple, clean and effective: moody and slightly impressionistic. No line is out of place. I have admittedly never seen this in person, but I can’t wait to find myself one.

NOTE: This issue was essentially the advertisement for the upcoming Graphic Novel for the Inhumans which is also absolutely gorgeous. See below for that one as a “quick hit.”

 

 

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QUICK HIT

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The Inhumans: A Marvel Graphic Novel #nn (1988)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – May, 1988

ARTIST: Bret Blevins

Man, this is a thing of beauty not only from an artistic perspective, but from a color and layout perspective, as well. This was hot, briefly, prior to the lackluster TV show, but now can be had for $15 or less.

 

Runaways #8 (2003 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 2004

ARTIST: Jo Chen

I covered this one already in Cover Tunes Issue #11. Click to see the full description of this unbelievable cover.

 

She-Hulk #23 (2005 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 2008

ARTIST: Mike Deodato Jr.

This is a great, gritty and visceral cover that shows amazing emotion. Again, this has excellent inclusion of the title trade dress and fantastic use of light and shadow. The best work on this cover may be the line work on the wet wooden planks. I wish this one didn’t have the barcode. Oh well. It was a tough call between this one and the #29 I chose, above. Thus, I’m featuring both.

 

*****

 

And there we are for another week. I hope there was a little something in here for everyone’s tastes. Until next week, see Endgame a second time, be well, thanks for reading and happy hunting.

 

 

16 comments

  • CountZeroInterrupt
    Avatar

    Great write up as usual Mike. Ben Caldwell’s run on the second volume is terrific. Glad to see it getting a little love.

    I have to say, I’ve seen your reaction to the “A-Force moment” in Endgame a lot on social media. In a way, I get it. Was it framed a little poorly in the middle of that huge battle to have all the women together for one shot? Possibly. Could Marvel and crew done a better job of setting it up? Definitely. But the thing I’ve come to realize is that this moment wasn’t for me. It was for the daughters of the comic heads that took them to see this wondrous comic book/film making achievement. I’ve seen just as many comments about little girls turning to their fathers and saying “Look daddy, they’re all girls!” This was their cinematic hero moment, similar to the ones guys like us have been enjoying since the old serial movies, through the Death Star trench run and up to this very moment in pop culture. It’s the easiest thing in the world to not let that scene bother you if you keep it in perspective. An unprecedented 22 terrific movies in long-form story telling all leading to this ridiculous payoff. Don’t let 22 seconds of female fan service tarnish your appreciation of what’s been accomplished.

    Anyways, keep up the good work!

    • Mike Morello

      Count, well said… you are absolutely right and I had not viewed it in that light. Thank you, sincerely, for that perspective and the succinct way you put it. I think, once I realized a few hours later, that it was in many ways a marketing setup for an A-Force project, I had a lot less of an issue with it. I then made sure to embrace it in this article. Either way, it certainly didn’t ruin the film for me and I can’t wait to see it again.

      When I think of my current favorite heroes, the majority of them are female. I want other fans to love them as much as I do and I sometimes worry that filmmakers can actually turn audiences off (especially male audiences) and alienate them if they push too hard.

      Thanks, also, for the kind words. I always appreciate the time you take commenting and reading.

    • Ben C

      REALLY WELL SAID. I had the same thought of “really, now?” then I realized all the females in the audience were getting something that was certainly needed, a reminder of the strong female characters in the MCU.

      • Avatar

        It was gratuitous but I guess it still worked.

      • Father_fanboy
        Father_fanboy

        This is especially true if you look at it from the perspective that just a few minutes before a much longer chunk of the film was devoted to three dudes fighting a bad guy–giving the women a few minutes of focus really isn’t too big a deal. Really (since much of this movie was an exploration of past MCU moments) most of the film focused on dudes fighting without a lot of female involvement–like pretty much every MCU movie until the last couple. I do agree that I wish it had been set-up a little better (the logistics of it kept bugging me–like, how did they all happen to be right there in the middle of all that chaos?) but the payoff with each of them getting their own moments was pretty sweet. I especially loved the Scarlet Witch scene.

        • Mike Morello

          That is actually EXACTLY what I mean… the Scarlet Witch scene was organic and as a result, it was awesome! Same with the sister moments between Gamora and Nebula. Clint and Nat’s scene was one of the best in the film as was Pepper and Tony fighting back-to-back. THOSE are organic moments. Those are seemless and relevant. However, like it or hate it, the A-Force moment was gratuitous and, as such, not nearly as impactful.

  • Avatar

    My wife and 15 year old daughter loved that moment. They screamed when it happened. We have had our moments since the beginning. I am ao happy to see women be happy about super heroes.

  • Avatar

    Yes I agree it was total cringe. I know ppl want to take their daughters to see the women group up, but we go into jar jar binks territory. We want a Star Wars that resonates forever. but the constant putting in of overly cute characters to sell toys spoils a scene that should have been immortalized forever. NOW?

    IT just took out of the moment. Take any great big picture. How about all the ppl from Wakanda should have grouped up

    All the cute animals should have grouped up
    All the white males should have grouped up
    All the magic rhinos should have grouped up

    • Father_fanboy
      Father_fanboy

      All the people from Wakanda did group up–they came.
      The only cute animal was Rocket?
      All the white males have been grouped up since the Avengers–like, 18 of the 22 movies have been white males grouped up
      The magic rhinos were with the Wakandans

  • Avatar

    Its great to see A-force in the spotlight. If a movie does happen, and Nico is included, this would be the second appearance of that character outside of comic books, the Hulu Runaways show and then A-force. What are the prospects for a Runaways 1 rebound? That was a book that was pushing $500 for a 9.8 in the run-up to the show and can now be had for under $200 in that grade.

  • Dell18

    I’m familiar with both Inhumans covers and own the Marvel Age ish, but when you point out the Trade Dress it made me realize how easy it would be to eliminate that in photoshop or whatever and have someone print it into a poster for my walls. As far as the A-Force bit goes, it still seems a bit off to me when people state a lack of female characters. I started out on Claremont X-Men and it was loaded with diversity. My favorite stories and characters were female heavy. Phoenix, Storm, Shadowcat, Dazzler, Rogue, Mystique, White Queen, Callisto, Lillandra, Yukio. I mean the X-Men, Morlocks and Shi’Ar Empire were all lead by females. I’m thrilled to see more female characters, creators and collectors. There’s been quality female talent in the industry for years but it’s growing and been more recognized lately and artists wise the ladies are killing it right now. Haven’t found too many writers I’m a huge fan of but 90% of male writers I find “meh” so it’s not surprising. Becky Cloonan and Mirka Andolpho I’ve liked recently. My daughters read a few titles and it’s great to see female READERS join the club….but I hate cheesy-ness on any level and it sucks when it feels forced. It shouldn’t. There’s no need. The ladies have earned their place at the table. Just let it grow/increase naturally without forcing it.

    • Mike Morello

      Precisely! Well said… and if I were to list my favorite current top 10 or 15 comic and movie characters, Wolverine and Conan would be the only males on the list. The others are all female (or not at all human like Venom): X-23, Red Sonja, Vampirella, Wonder Woman, Ahsoka Tano, Storm, Carol Danvers, leia Organa, Sabine Wren, etc. I’d buy virtually anything dealing with those characters. Favorite artist… again female: Jenny Frison. You get the picture. All of those are favorites because they are all actually great, not because someone told me they were.

      Thanks, as always Dell, for the read and the comment!

  • AgonyOfVictory
    Avatar

    That She-Hulk 29 is doooppeee

  • Alondo

    I’m gonna put in a selfish request that you guys do a feature on the two 50th Anniversary Black Panther cover sets (Set 1: Ratio Variants, Set 2: Feature of the Month).

    It’s true that these A-Force books have picked up in value. Only a matter of time…

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