Things in Print Thursday :: 5 comics that should be running

18 Jun

So I had this crazy idea.  There are a lot of great comics out there right now, although I rely mostly on my drift partner for this information, but what great comics should there be?  This is the basic premise of this list, authored not by myself but by said drift partner.

5. Cassandra Cain
I feel like I should clarify that the only reason Cass is at the bottom of this list is that I haven’t read as much of her, so I’m not as comfortable talking about her. But from what I have read, she’s a great character who deserves way better than DC has given her lately.

Cassandra Cain is the second (third if we’re counting Betty Kane, but we’re not) character to have taken up the mantle of Batgirl, in 1999. She was raised by a father who trained her to be a living weapon, not even teaching her spoken language because he wanted to focus on teaching her human body language instead. But after committing her first murder, she swore never to use her training to kill again and eventually falls in with the Batfamily, becoming Batgirl after Barbara Gordon has long ago abandoned that identity.

Cass’ story is interesting because she is the only member of the Batfamily that fights crime as a form of atonement for a murder she has committed, rather than out of a sense of justice. She was replaced as Batgirl in by Stephanie Brown after having split from the Batfamily to join the Outsiders in 2008 and star in her own solo series in 2009. At one point, she took the name Black Bat. But since DC’s idiotic New 52 reboot in 2011, Cass hasn’t appeared at all in the main DC Universe. I have a friend who adores her, and I know she’s not alone…so the decision to bench her for 4 years is confusing at best and suspect at worst (Cass is one of a handful of members of the Batfamily that aren’t white). I think it’s time for her to return.

4. Cloak and Dagger
These two are from the 80s, back when comics were under harsher moral standards and there were entire series that were Very Special Episodes. Cloak and Dagger, real names Ty Johnson and Tandy Bowen, were both teenage runaways (Ty from a tragic accident involving his best friend, Tandy from neglectful parents) who fell in together by chance and then ended up captured by a drug lord who was using street teens as test subjects for his new synthetic strain of heroin. They managed to survive the injections and escape, but the drugs gave them superpowers (no. really. this is canon) and then they became anti-drug vigilantes that were dedicated to helping and protecting other teen runaways.

The really interesting thing about them, aside from their utterly batshit origin story (which, honestly, could be rebooted to make them Inhumans without a lot of trouble. ARE YOU LISTENING MARVEL) is that their powers are complimentary. Dagger emits light beams and can throw daggers made of light, as well as having healing abilities with her light. (She can also apparently purge addictions but I have read more Cloak and Dagger comics than 99% of the population and I have never personally seen this happen.) Cloak must wear a dark Jedi-esque cloak at all times and he is connected to the Darkforce Dimension through that cloak, as well as having the ability to teleport himself and others via the dimension. He also has an insatiable hunger for light, which is convenient for obvious reasons. So the two of them pretty much have to stay together at all times, which luckily they’re pretty well bonded. I’m not completely sure if they were ever explicitly romantic, but you don’t have to read very much of them to tell that they’re very close.

The 80s series mostly involved them hunting down drug lords and rescuing runaways, and they’ve popped up here and there (fittingly, in both the original run of Runaways and the newest reboot), and I have a one-shot from 2010, but they haven’t had their own series since at least the 90s. The fact that they keep popping up in other franchises (apparently they were more recently featured in a Spider-Man storyline) proves that someone cares about them. I’d like to see them have their own comic. Or, potentially, featured on the show, either way.

3. Sif
Sif has pretty much always been a supporting character in the Thor comics, up until 2012 when the Journey Into Mystery series was reworked and Kathryn Immonen began writing Sif as the lead character. I don’t think that timing – just after the first Thor movie – was a coincidence. But of course, we can’t have nice things, so the series was canceled in October 2013 due to poor sales.

The reason why I think she should have her own series now is that, first of all, I’ve been rooting for the MCU Sif to become Queen of Asgard since the first movie. I stand by this and I think it’s the only logical place to take her character at this point. In short, what other Asgardian do we know at this point who is both willing and able to take up the rulership of the realm? Thor nonsensically went back at the end of Age of Ultron, but they’ve spent the last two movies hammering (pardon the pun) in that he doesn’t feel worthy to be king. Loki is a lying psychopath who probably murdered Odin and definitely can’t stay on the throne, and Frigga’s dead. Thus Odin’s bloodline has come to an end, and the only other Asgardians we know are Sif, the Warriors Three, and Heimdall. None of the Warriors are suited to ruling, and Heimdall isn’t either. Thus, Sif is clearly the logical choice. This would also explain why she’s appeared in multiple episodes of Agents of SHIELD (besides that Jaimie Alexander is the cheapest film actor) – she’s clearly the best character to be engaging with SHIELD.

Anyway. Since Marvel seems to be retooling their entire 616 comics universe to better fit in with the movies and bring in new readers, I see no reason why a solo Sif title shouldn’t be given a shot. Hell, there’s a comic right now called Angela: Asgard’s Assassin and while I’m sure it’s a fine title, I can’t for the life of me see how it’s more relevant than a Sif title. We just had the reveal of who the female Thor is (it’s Jane SUCK ON THAT HATERS), so I’d even take a team-up comic.

2. X-23
I will never be as upset about any comic cancellation as I was/am about Marjorie Liu’s X-23. X-23 is a character who started out as a teenaged female clone of Wolverine himself, albeit minor physical differences (two claws on each hand and foot claws) and with a side of extra tragic backstory – she was created to be a living weapon/assassin and while she managed to escape at fourteen, she was first tricked into murdering her mother. Enraged, she goes to find Logan and kill him, which goes about as well as you’d expect. She ends up kicking around at Xavier’s for a while, eventually kind of becoming fond of Logan as a sort of pseudo-big brother/uncle figure, and in Marjorie Liu’s series (2010-2012) she branches off to attempt to define herself beyond her background and figure out where she belongs in the world. Along the way, Liu managed to include basically all of my favorite X-Men characters and concepts and redefine the character entirely.

So naturally, it got canceled. She moved on to Avengers Academy, which I tried to buy for a while but I lost track of pretty quickly, and then Avengers Arena, which was a complete Hunger Games ripoff and also terrible because she ended up killing multiple people and undoing all 21 issues of development from her solo series (thanks, Dennis Hopeless). Lately she’s been in All New X-Men and, since Wolverine died again, there’s been confirmed rumors that she’s set to replace him as…the new Wolverine, maybe? I really have no idea of the details, but I’m hoping maybe this will lead to a solo series again. I would prefer that no one but Marjorie Liu ever write her again, but I’m aware this is not a realistic wish. I really want to know how she’s been coping with the weirdness as of late (apparently she kissed time traveling young Cyclops and has been having sex with time traveling young Angel) and also her clone-dad-brother-uncle’s death. I think a solo series would be a great way to explore that.

1. She-Hulk
There was a She-Hulk solo series last year. It was canceled in January due to poor sales. I am still angry.

But honestly, I really think Marvel dropped the ball with that, because first of all, She-Hulk should be getting a Netflix series or something. Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin, who ended up with her powers because he gave her a blood transfusion and apparently the gamma radiation was still in his blood and man I don’t know, comic science is really silly. Jen’s powers are slightly different than Bruce’s: she doesn’t have to be angry to Hulk out, and she can pretty much stay in She-Hulk form all the time if she wants to. As human Jennifer Walters she’s small, timid, and mousy (basically the female equivalent of MCU Bruce), but as She-Hulk she’s a foot taller and stronger and more confident. So she chooses to remain in She-Hulk form and works as a lawyer, specifically under the Superhuman law division. This most recent series was less about her punching things and more about her taking on cases for her shiny new firm. It was basically a more colorful, sillier version of Daredevil, honestly, but her comic came first.

The thing that sets it apart from Daredevil, though, is that in her case she was specifically working with superpowered clients (at one point, Doctor Doom’s son, then later on Steve Rogers). Also, there was Hellcat and a Chinese woman named Angie Huang with a pet Capuchin. Why? Because! I admit that some moments fell kind of flat, but overall it was a good series that was different from anything else that was being published at the time and I wish it was still going. Like I said, I think she deserves her own Netflix series and I think the comic would be a great way to lead up to that. I’m not sure where Marvel would go with new female lead characters if not She-Hulk, really – she’s the most logical choice.


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