Comic Review: Amala’s Blade #4

If you’ve been following along, we’re now on issue #4 of Amala’s Blade, a delightful comic about a master assassin with a load of baggage – oh, and she just happens to be female. No biggie.

This finale is all a lover of swashbuckling could ever want. Multiple betrayals, brutal deaths, and a shocking end. I loved it! I also quite enjoyed watching Amala duel her mother. We see plenty of guys having to fight their evil fathers, but we rarely see biological mother and daughter physically fighting it out.

I have a love/hate relationship with the art style of Amala’s Blade. I love the character designs, faces, and the grittiness of the style, but I also think a lot of things are ugly and angular, and sometimes the sketchy style just looks like someone doodled instead of drawing, if you know what I mean.

But overall, my only wish is that this miniseries was longer. It wrapped up too quickly for my taste! I’d love to see more from Amala and her friends.

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Plot

Master assassin Amala uncovers Prince Markos’s plan to reignite civil war between Modifiers and Purifiers! Can she stem the tides of war? What is the deadly secret her mother carries? And will Amala face her long-lost destiny?

Deets

Writer: Steve Horton
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Colorist: Michael Dialynas
Cover Artist: Michael Dialynas

Buy it here!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

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Comic Review: Amala’s Blade #3

Amala’s Blade is a very random and very bright comic that never ceases to surprise me. Its warring purifiers and modifiers remind me of people arguing between sci-fi and fantasy. Why can’t we just have both? Will the purifiers and modifiers ever end their war? We still don’t know. What I do know is that what Amala finds out at the beginning of this issue is very…interesting.

This third issue has some crazy twists to it, but none more interesting than what happens right from the get go. Amala is a great female protagonist. She proves herself to be the ruthless assassin who everyone claims she is, and I mean REALLY proves it, in this issue. Amala, we have found out, is also very efficient. Use what is thrown at you, right? The ghosts who accompany Amala add some humor in this issue and bring more personification to themselves. I like the addition of them; they add some more “life” to the story…get it?

Get Amala’s Blade #3 here!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Amala’s Blade #2

We revisit Amala on her nearly-impossible quest in the purifier city of Ouon. It seems as though she has a lot on her plate, encountering ghosts, poison, and some interesting foes!

I became a fan of the series after the first issue, and it seems to be holding up to expectations. As Amala travels to Ouon, she faces a deadly encounter with some twins. As if that isn’t enough, she has to fare with being poisoned while facing some ghosts that prove to be more interesting than I thought, and whom I actually really like! I have become a real fan of the tale Steve Horton is weaving. On top of that, Michael Dialynas portrays every scene with stunning brilliance. I think I have a new favorite artist to add to my list.

Horton and Dialynas have proved to be a great writer/artist team for this series, and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds. Amala’s Blade #2 is in stores and available for purchase online today, so give it a shot!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Amala’s Blade #1

Let’s delve into Amala’s Blade. Written by Steve Horton with art by Michael Dialynas, the comic opens the way any great fantasy story should: with a map of the land. It is set in Naamaran, a kingdom divided by civil war, dueling factions on each side. To the west is Ouon, which is populated by the “purifiers” and powered by steam. To the East are the “modifiers,” who worship technology. Amala is well-known in both factions as the greatest assassin.

Amala is employed by the kingdom’s Vizier, and is tired of feeling used by him. Because of this, she has become a bit capricious in her work. The Vizier doesn’t like all the attention she’s been getting either. Horton does a good job with the side stories also, as psychological issues arise as a result Amala being able to see and speak with ghosts. There is also an emotional aspect we see when her love interest is introduced, along with the man she seems to consider family.

The art style that Dialynas presents is a good one for the story. It’s a more realistic style and it doesn’t potray in-your-face violence. Another nice touch is that Amala’s body structure is more realistic than your usual heroine, which is nice for a change for us females. No need to fret though, guys, she’s still a badass chick who is as “violent femme” as they come. The line work and coloring are a bit odd for my taste, but definitely not bad, and it doesn’t take away from the story. It’s a different kind of style, but still likable.

Dark Horse appears to have another hit on its hands. Issue #1 is out now, and for those of you who love fantasy, steampunk, and/or badass female characters, this one is definitely one to check out! Issue #2 hits stores on May 29th.

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Preview: Amala’s Blade: Spirits of Naamaron

Amala’s Blade: Spirits of Naamaron is the newest mini-series written by Steve Horton and illustrated by Michael Dialynas. Look at how well-clothed Amala is! That’s such a refreshing thing to see. In a nutshell: female protagonist, assassins, pirates, ghosts, and steam punk. What more do you need?

Issue #0 is available for $2.99 from Dark Horse Comics already, so check it out. You can also find it at your local comic book store.

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Goddess of Thunder and Falcon as Captain America: Marvel Announcements

Marvel announced via The View that Thor was getting a new makeover…and changing genders.

For release in October, Thor, God of Thunder will feature a woman wielding the mighty hammer Mjölnir. From the official press release:

No longer is the classic male hero able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, a brand new female hero will emerge who will be worthy of the name THOR. Who is she? Where did she come from and what is her connection to Asgard and the Marvel Universe?

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Creators of this new Thor insist that she is the Thor of the Marvel Universe, replacing a now un-worthy male Thor. However, he still seems to exist in the universe, as new art emerged featuring Thor wielding an ax and prosthetic arm. No matter the details of how Thor lost his worth and this new woman proved hers, the internet exploded with the news of a female Thor. She looks amazing, with a badass costume and a domineering presence – there’s no mistake that she deserves to wield Mjölnir.

Marvel wasn’t finished with the pre-San Diego Comic Con announcements though.

On The Colbert Report, it was revealed that Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, would take over Steve Roger’s role as Captain America. Sam Wilson, the first African American superhero, has been around in comics for a few decades, but really made an impact with the recent big-budget Marvel movie Captain America: Winter Soldier. Steve Rogers will still be around in the comics as a mentor and tutor for the new Captain. Editor Tom Brevoot told Marvel.com that Steve “will continue to be a vital part of the series moving ahead. And Steve is completely supportive of Sam as his hand-picked successor—the only replacement Captain America ever to be chosen by Steve himself.” Sam begins this role in November in the pages of All-New Captain America.

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One of the biggest questions that have come from this recent announcement is why. Why does Thor have to be a woman? Why does Captain America have to be black? That’s the major opposition to these changes in character – that they are unwarranted and unmeaningful. Marvel already has a diverse roster of sidekicks and background characters, but lead roles are normally taken by white male characters regardless of origin – whether that be 1940s America or Asgard. It’s always exciting to see diversity at the forefront of popular franchises. Miles Morales sparked controversey when he became Spider-Man, and the newest Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan, proves to be very relatable regardless of her race and culture.

Personally speaking, original characters promoting diversity would be far better. To see new characters taking title roles instead of changing existing ones would mean that comic creators are listening more to what fans want versus just making shocking, controversial decisions to make headlines. However, as more characters of color, more female characters, and more characters representing the LGBT emerge, it can only mean that the comic industry is moving in the right direction. It can only go up, up, and away from here.

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Other Series I’m Reading This Week – 4/23

I’ve decided to try out a new weekly article, wherein I talk about various comic and book series I’m reading this week that I’m not reviewing! Let me know what you think and if I should continue doing these!

Comics

Ms. Marvel –  I’m on issue #3 of the new Ms. Marvel, and I think it’s just such an impressive series so far. I’m really getting those Peter Parker and X-Men vibes from Kamala as she struggles not just with her new powers, but also with what those powers mean about her life and identity.  This series is just so relatable…I also highly recommend it for any young women you know. Start ’em young.

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Star Wars: Legacy – I’m now on issue #14, and my love of this series continues un-abated! If you love Star Wars, adventure, space, Mass Effect, female leads, gorgeous art…any of those things: go grab this series.

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Mass Effect: Foundation –  I’m on issue #10, and I have to say this series has been unfortunately hit or miss for me. I’d say go back and check out my reviews and just pick up the ones you want. It’s not necessary to read it in order or to read all of the issues, as this is mainly little short stories to fulfill your thirst for Mass Effect.

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Halo: Escalation – I’m on issue #5, and I can’t believe it’s been so few issues. This series packs an impressive amount of story and intrigue into each issue, and I’m still enjoying it!

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Books

Malazan Book of the Fallen – I’m on The Crippled God, which is the tenth book in the series. Overall, I recommend this series for people who are tired of never seeing people of color in high fantasy worlds. The emperor and the majority of important characters are described as black or middle eastern-looking, and women warriors and leaders are a staple of the series. In the last three books, however, rape has become much more prevelant, and I must say I’m finding it off-putting. He was doing so well!

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New Ms. Marvel is a Muslim-American Teenager

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Marvel’s Ms. Marvel is going to be re-imagined this coming February as a teenage Muslim girl from New Jersey, known as Kamala Khan when she’s not behind the mask. Ms. Marvel’s superpower is that she can shapeshift. Kamala was created by Marvel editors Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker, inspired by Sana’s experiences growing up Muslim-American. G. Willow Wilson, author of 2008’s Cairo, is going to be the writer of the series. The previous Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, is now Captain Marvel. G. Willow Wilson says:

“I wanted Ms. Marvel to be true-to-life, something real people could relate to, particularly young women. High school was a very vivid time in my life, so I drew heavily on those experiences — impending adulthood, dealing with school, emotionally-charged friendships that are such a huge part of being a teenager. It’s for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who’s ever looked at life from the fringe.”

She’s also prepared for some backlash: “I do expect some negativity, not only from people who are anti-Muslim, but people who are Muslim and might want the character portrayed in a particular light.” There are a few more Muslim characters in comics though: Dust/Sooraya Quadir from X-Men, Green Lantern/Simon Baz from DC Comics, and The 99 universe, featuring mainly Muslim superheroes, which crossed over with The Justice League in 2010.

Here’s some background for the new series:

“Kamala, whose family is from Pakistan, has devotedly followed the career of the blond, blue-eyed Carol Danvers, who now goes by Captain Marvel, a name she inherited from a male hero. When Kamala discovers her powers, including the ability to change shape, she takes on the code name Ms. Marvel — what Carol called herself when she began her superhero career.”

I’m looking forward to this series, and hope it signifies more diverse comic leads to come!

Ladies in Leadership: The Top 5 Comic Book Heroines of 2013

As we near the end of 2013, we have quite a few butt-kicking females tearing their way through the shaded cells. This list was hard agonizingly hard to nail down because there are so many ladies I want to give a nod to. But this is the best of the best we’re talking about here, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to shout it from the rooftops.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where all the badass villainesses are? Don’t you worry, they’ll get their own article soon.

5. Carol Danvers a.k.a Captain Marvel

Carol. You Kree-whoopin’ crazy lady. I adore you. Why am I professing so much love for a comic book character? Because she took the title of Mar-Vel with power, style, and class when she got exposed to an exploding Psyche-Magnitron. Not even a lesion, resulting from the third lobe growing on her medial longitudinal fissure, can stop her from defending the world. Oh, and this lesion actually limits her powers. She isn’t like most superheroes, who can fly off willy-nilly and use their powers without any need for conservation. Using her power of flight could cause a cranial hemorrhage. Yet, despite this extremely disconcerting consequence, Captain Marvel manages her powers so she can preserve herself, and she completely tears up the battlefield whiles she’s at it. Not to mention, she can be wonderfully sardonic (her vs. her crotchety neighbor is a favorite ongoing war of mine). Yes, in the most recent issue, the worst might have happened, and she may or may not be floating unconscious in space, but we know she’s gonna pull through like a BAMF.

4. Agatha Heterodyne

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I’ve been reading Girl Genius religiously since 2010 and, ever since, I’ve been dying to talk about how freaking awesome Agatha Heterodyne is — especially in her most recent adventures in the siege of Mechanicsburg and her tussle with the Sturmvoraus family. Agatha is what the title of the comic promises: a girl genius. And a fun, capable, honorable, and delightfully steampunk girl genius at that. Need a death ray? Done. Need to reanimate a broken sentient castle? Donzo. Need a perfectly pressed espresso? Got done ages ago. Agatha can do anything with her creativity, including leading a town into a victorious battle only weeks after having met anyone there. Not to mention, fighting against a much bigger overarching villainess who may be secretly controlling a decent portion of Europa. Even the men who are looking to love her know that Agatha is not a woman to be trifled with. In fact, the reason they become interested in her is because of the twinkle in her eye that can only herald one thing…Mad Science!

3. Amala

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Amala from Amala’s Blade is pretty much as badass as it gets. She’s a master swordsman raised by a pack of blade-wielding renegade children with killer reflexes, a fearless attitude, and an army of ghosts that, for the most part, only she can see. Why does she possess this sixth sense? Either the hundreds of people she has slain have come back to heckle her, or she is the is the prophesied spiritual warrior who has come to reunite the warring states of the Purifiers and the Modifiers (that’s steampunks vs. cyborgs, for those of you out there wondering…awesome, amiright?). That’s the thing that I really love about Amala. She’s this rip-roaring killer but she has this really peaceful, noble side to her that shows up in how she conducts herself as an assassin (yes, she commandeered a ship once, but she always gets the job done), how she treats the people close to her heart (cutest moment ever with the blacksmith’s son), and how she knows when to choose life over death (she tames a freakin’ sandworm-monster-cyborg-dog instead of killing it). She even throws all of her blood-letting instincts to the wind and attempts to stop a war in its tracks so that compassion can stabilize in its place (the success rate of that will depend on future comics). Also, I’d like to give her 100,000 extra kudos for being a comic book lady with functioning armor. Like I said. Bad. Ass. B’dass.

2. Kate Bishop a.k.a Hawkeye

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Kate Bishop in the Hawkeye reboot (a Matt Fraction comic, so we already know that’s a point with me) is perfect. The cells above, from Clint Barton’s point of view, show why: She’s a witty woman with a deadly aim. But, I’m a fan of Kate Bishop for more than that reason alone. I’m a fan because, despite Clint’s presence, she isn’t just a backup Hawkeye; she IS Hawkeye (if you’re not in the know, she took up Clint’s “mantle” when he was off being Ronin for a while). They are Hawkeyes together. And yes, Kate can take over the role if anything were to knock Clint out of the picture, but she never stops busting crime in its lopsided, snarling face anyway. She’s like if Azrael just said, “Screw it. I’m Batman,” and fought crime in harmonious conjunction with Bruce Wayne after his stint with homelessness (except Kate was never delusional, murderous, or attempting to strangle boy wonders).  Kate’s there helping Clint with his various conflicts as an off-duty Avenger in just about every issue, and doing so with such ease and effectiveness you can’t help but want to see this version of Kate in her own comic. Incredibly gifted, Kate is your girl if you’re in trouble and, even better, any one of us could be Kate. She’s completely plausible with her hip-quiver, archery training, and sassy New Yorker attitude.

(Note: The outfit in the cells shown above is NOT what Kate normally wears. She stole that from a circus lady. She normally dresses like you and I: jeans, jacket, and a t-shirt.)

1. Ororo Munroe a.k.a Storm

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Our favorite elemental mutant, Storm, is finally getting all the respect that she deserves. And really, so are all the other women of X-Men. Marvel NOW! has put out a comic by Brian Wood and David Lopez that focuses on the core group of mutant ladies we’ve been loving since forever and puts the spotlight on them (it remains, aptly named, X-men). And damn, does Storm shine. She’s tough, stoic, and in complete control. Nothing can unravel this woman, and everyone knows it (even her costume’s obnoxious boob-window is almost tolerable in light of her strong, fluid capability). Hell, they won’t do anything without her swift and strategic say-so. She is the leader of the X-Men, and woe be to the one who wishes to confront her. Even strong-willed Rachel Grey requested a tall-ass order when she decided to question Storm’s leadership.

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The attribute that I fiercely love about Storm, and the reason I made her number one

on this list, is that she makes tough decisions as a leader of women who have powers that are equally as impressive as her own. So, every decision she makes has to be extra firm and watertight, otherwise, the bond between these fierce mutant comrades might fall apart and they’ll never be effective as a team. Or, even worse, they might cause some major destruction instead of preventing it. Storm is constantly doing double-time in this way. And no matter how quick or harsh her decision, she always stands by it. She is solid in ways that make bedrock jealous.

Oh, and do you know what happened after Rachel Grey was like, “I don’t trust you”? Storm finished saving the crashing Blackbird and Rogue in like five seconds without breaking a sweat.

Wa-BAM!

Honorary Mention: Wonder Woman…because, duh

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I know, I know, I said “Top 5.” But I couldn’t live with myself (figuratively) if this article got posted without mention of Diana. Because she really does wreak some baddie butt-kicking havoc in her New 52 spot. I mean, Diana gets trained by Aries himself, how sick is that? Plus, the impending war of Olympus is a pretty rad story (though it shares the same “Guarding the baby that everyone wants to kill” bit that X-Men is doing right now…though it came first), and the artwork is absolutely GORGEOUS. But the real reason I want to mention Diana is because she is a solid constant, like Storm, throughout comic book lore, and she’s getting more respect. My hope is that we can get a move on in the film industry, and as long as the males of the Justice League are systematically getting their limelight, Diana should be next on the list. She’s legendary, she’s boss, and she can arm-wrestle Superman.

Wonder Woman forever!

Top Women in Comics from Amy Dallen

Amy Dallen talks about some of the best women in comics, while avoiding Marvel and DC because she talks about them too much. 😛

This is an excellent start if you’re interested in getting into awesome women in comics! I also recommend Amala’s Blade, Willow – Wonderland, and The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.

Halo Initiation and Mass Effect Foundation are new, but I’m liking the female main characters so far!