One of the hardest things about reading comics is knowing where to start. Comics shops carry hundreds of titles and get dozens of issues in every Wednesday. On top of that, many comics have complex mythologies and backstories that make it hard to just pick up any random issue and have a clue what is going on.
That’s why Heroic Girls recommends comics every week that are excellent “jumping on” points for new readers. Without further ado, here are three picks for the week of October 1, 2014.
Marvel gave The Mighty Thor a makeover this summer, and boy is it a doozy. The thunder god Thor has found himself unworthy to wield his mystic hammer Mjolnir, which grants him the ability to fly and cast lightning. Due to the powerful enchantment put on the hammer by Odin, if you are unworthy, you simply cannot pick up the Mjolnir no matter how hard you try. The Hulk has tried and failed. In fact in all the hosts of Asgard, not a single man was judged worthy enough to wield the mighty weapon — but men are not the only people who know honor.
As the Thor we know abandons Mjolnir in despair, and frost giants invade Earth wreaking untold destruction, a new Thor appears, and she wields Mjolnir the same way the male Thor did before her.
Thor #1 is written by longtime Thor writer Jason Aarons who has been building up to this moment for more than two years. This issue is mainly used to establish that male Thor is a shattered man (well God). We don’t get to see the new female Thor until close to the end of the book and you will have to wait until next issue to see her in action. Still Aarons storytelling is strong and this is a great place to jump on and discover a brand new hero.
Thor #1 has some exceptional variant covers. On top of the “regular cover,” there are variants by super-star artists like Alex Ross, Sarah Pichelli, Andrew Robinson, Esad Ribic and Fiona Staples. But for our money, it is hard to beat an alternate cover by the always adorable Skottie Young.
Gotham Academy #1
Gotham Academy is another new series starting this week. Unlike Thor, Gotham Academy revolves around all new characters created by writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl.
The book drops you right in the middle of the action at Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school. New student Mia “Maps Mizoguchi” (she never leaves home without a flashlight and a compass) is given a tour of the campus by social outcast and Wayne Foundation grant recipient Olive Silverlock. It takes very little prompting for Silverlock to take Maps on a tour of the creepy abandoned chapel on campus where they immediately find both danger and adventure.
Characters are established and mysteries are set up effortlessly as the book sucks you into its world. This series is just fun. It is always entertaining to see the world of superheroes from the perspective of the ordinary people who live in it, rather than the heroes and villains. This title easily could be set anywhere, but putting it in the rich fictional world of Gotham that we all know and love gives the sense of place and foreboding a jump-start.
Kerschl’s animation-style illustrations are beautiful, and Cloonan and Fletcher’s zippy plot will keep your interest until the very last page.
Oh, did we mention the school may be haunted?
Transformers have always seemed like so much of a boy thing. Although the creators said that “robots do not have gender,” All of the robots had masculine names. They referred to each other by masculine pronouns and they were always voiced by men in the cartoons. There was a female Transformer or two created along the way, but they usually had horribly sexist undertones and were quickly discarded and forgotten.
That was until Windblade, a four-issue limited series released earlier this year now collected in a single volume as a trade paperback.
Written by Mairghread Scott and beautifully illustrated by rookie artist Sarah Stone, Transformers: Windblade was the first Transformers comic created by an all-female team, and what is refreshing is how little that matters. Gender is referenced a few times, but Scott does not allow us to dwell on it. Windblade’s gender does not define her in any way shape or form.
Sarah Stone’s painterly art style is amazing. Like Fiona Staples, she works almost exclusively digitally, which allows for techniques and palettes that have expanded the visual language of comics. And the way she manages to imbue each robot with a distinct life and personality, so they are all distinguishable as individuals is amazing. Michael Bay should take notes for his noisy mess of a movie franchise.