Review: Girl Comics No.1

Published on March 5th, 2010

Hey ComicImapct readers! Since I’m the new girl around here I thought I would write my first review about  Girls Comics No. 1 by Marvel. It is done completely by women in the industry. Before any of you dim witted people jump to the wrong idea, NO, it is not all hearts and rainbows. Each story brings something both male and female comic fans will enjoy. Although each team up has it’s own feel, they all seem to fit together.

First I’d like to talk about the amazing cover by Amanda Conner and Laura Martin. This “Battle of the Sexes” is at it’s best with a good old fashioned arm wrestling between Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Jennifer Walters (She Hulk). The amount of detail Amanda Conner put into facial expressions, of not just the two foreground characters, but also the background crowd is really fun. From the satisfaction on She Hulk’s and the shock on Iron Man’s faces, to the pure excitement on Sue Storm’s and utter boredom on Captain America’s. Laura Martin’s bright and vibrant colors of the two wrestlers and shadowed darkness of the on lookers makes the event both seedy and victorious. The more I look at this cover, the more detail I find.

There is a short introduction by Colleen Coover depicting different female Heroes explaining “Why we fight.” You get the simple answer “We do it because we can’t NOT do it.” Which I have to think is very representative of the women involved with this book. Why do what they so obviously love to do? Because they have to.

The first short story is written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Ming Doyle, color by Chris Peter and lettered by Kathleen Marinaccio. The “dialogue” is almost completely sung off panel. It’s brilliant! The action of Nightcrawlersaving a Burlesque dancer from a lecherous boss is beautifully offset by this haunting song about angels stuck in shadows and devils walking out in the light. Although the sharp and edgy art fits the theme, I’m left very cold by the faces. In one panel the dancer looks like Courtney Love, and not during one of her good days. All the lips are too over plumped for my taste. I did really enjoy the bold and dramatic colors, it gave the pages an eerie sense of foreboding.

marvel_girl_comics_1The second story is written by Trina Robbins, art by Stephanie Buscema and lettered by Kristyn Ferretti. Everything about this story melds so well together. You have this mod 60’s story of Venus and Zeus making a bet which leads Venus to Earth to prove LOVE, not violence, can conquer all. Venus is than spun into the under appreciated “Gal Friday” of that era. The art brings in beautiful, curvy women so popular in the images of the 50’s/60’s. This art style actually reminds me of Darwyn Cooke, with the ability to make you feel the time period they are drawing. Top that off with colors that made me instantly think of “Bewitched.” The whole package was excellent. I was genuinely sad when it ended.

The third story written by Valerie D’orazzio, art by Nikki Cook, color by Elizabeth Breitweiser and lettered by Kristyn Ferretti. This was, by far, the creepiest story of them all. Punisher takes down an online predator of young girls. Very little dialogue in this but it says the most, and it says it the loudest. You see each man preparing for their “date,” both with weapons of their choosing. The look of anticipation on the pedophiles face was extremely disturbing, it seriously made my skin crawl. Simplistic, straightforward art was powerful to me. There are very few words to describe this one. It’s strong message speaks for it’s self and is probably my favorite. This was a poignant was to say what I think most people think when they hear of this sad reality.

The fourth story is by Lucy Knisley. This two page short story was a fun kind of “day in the life” of Doc Oc. The cartoon like feeling to the art gave this lonely and passionate octopus lover a light tone. I hesitate using the word cute because it makes it sound kiddish, and it’s definitely not, but it is a cute story. A man fed up by his world of Spiderman and octopus eaters, just trying to find love and get some cereal. With his own personal little sanctuary she turns this unlikeable character into an average guy you feel bad for. This the most perfect story to follow such a dark one.

The fifth story by Robin Furth and Agnes Garbowska, lettered by Kristyn Ferretti and edits by Lauren Sankovitch. This Fairy Tale themed story about Franklin and Valeria Richards is beautifully drawn and colored. I felt like I was reading out of an old storybook. This take on Hansel and Gretel takes a modern twist with it’s mechanical world. I think the most casual of comic readers would feel involved in this story immediately. It’s dark and twisted with a robot witch wanting to harvest Franklin’s organs but still family centric with Val’s fear for her brother. The page layouts were so much fun to follow too. The world of everyday reality were box panels, very structured. The world of fantasy, inside a giant clock , swirled and turned and gave you the feeling you were very much not in Kansas anymore. It was almost dreamlike, you knew it was progressing but you didn’t quite feel linear.

The last story is written by Devin Grayson, art by Emma Rios, color by Barbara Ciardo and lettered by Kathleen Marinaccio. This romantic kind of art was beautifully colored. It caught my attention before I read anything else. It made for a very interesting contrast to the actual pictures, there was lots of fighting and exploding. The emotional fear of the person you love, loving someone else was also plays on the romance. This is a suoer hero love triangle. Scott is afraid Jean loves Logan, not him. Logan obviously is hoping that is true. While Jean is reassuring Scott she loves only him but glancing back at Logan  with a longing n her eyes. This is the stuff soap operas wish they could do so well. Subtle and striking at the same time and quite frankly a great way to finish book one.

All these stories were, like I said, amazing but there were two spotlights of “pioneer” women at Marvel that were just as interesting. The first to Spotlight was Flo Steinberg or “Fabulous Flo” as she was called in Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletin. Flo was the guardian of the keep, she worked directly for Stan Lee. She answered all fan questions about past and future content, was the liaison between the talented working for Marvel and Stan. She adapted into an extraordinary Renaissance woman keeping the company running smoothly regardless of any chaos. She published Big Apple Comics in 1975 which is considered one of the first alternative comics. She was even turned into the Invisible Woman in Jack Kirby’s What If #11. It was a What if the original Marvel Bullpen had become the Fantastic Four. She was also President Thors secretary in Mark Millar’s Ultimate Fantastic Four #28. Her upbeat and sassy attitude has made her beloved among the staff at Marvel and she is considered one of the greats.

The second Spotlight is on Marie Severin. She was one of the first female artists in the industry. She had her hand in almost every aspect during Marvel’s Silver age. She started out as a colorist for Entertainment Comics in 1949 and was the only woman amongst the men. The She quickly learned her way around, lettering, inking, coloring and production. She later took over for Steve Ditko on “Doctor Strange”  feature in Strange Tales and went on to draw many more titles and became the main concept artist on most covers. She worked on Marvel’s parody series and really showcased her comedic talent. She is still considered one of the company’s most prominent creators.

Overall, this was a lot of fun to read. I can’t wait to see what No. 2 has in store for us. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to sample lots of different styles of art and writing. I’d love to hear which story you liked best. Thanks ComicImpact Readers!

Christina Flores
Christina@comicimpact.com