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May 29, 2015


Charles Hatfield

Wilson's work on Ms. Marvel is IMO the closest thing to a gust of much-needed fresh air that Marvel Comics has had in a long time. It's knowing about genre in a way that doesn't make it insular or impenetrable; it fully realizes the potential of the genre to tell stories about the complexity of social identity. It actually tells an interesting YA story whenever it stops riffing on the larger Marvel Universe and settles down. I and many of my students found it to be a terrific capper to our recent superheroes course.

But A-Force, I must agree, is several notches below Ms. Marvel. I bought it out of interest in the "gimmick," as you put it, and out of gratitude for what Wilson had done on Ms. Marvel. I find it to be a cut above most of what I've seen in the, what? three Secret Wars preview comics I've read, or rather tried to read, but you're right that Arcadia is not even minimally developed, and the whole project seems just as slapdash and inconsequential as most of the other Secret Wars stuff (and that's a dreadfully self-satisfied, self-amused batch of comics, as far as I can tell).

Now, I get Wilson's frustration, since the Lepore piece is really some tired, shopworn stuff, and patronizing in the extreme. Wilson's anger makes sense to me, because the Lepore piece refuses even to research the genre as it now stands and therefore has no sense of what's at stake. Lepore sets the bar very low, and limbos under it with eyebrows raised, archly, in what amounts to a succession of cheap shots. It reads lazy and smug (and so I'm fine with Wilson taking Lepore to task about the "pornstar" crack).

But you're right that this whole dustup is much ado about nothing, comics-wise. I hope Marvel's Crisis-like spasm will subside into further charming comics about teenage heroes from Jersey City, but... well, I don't hold out much hope these days.


I take your point about Lepore; my problem is that Wilson's response is some tired, shopworn stuff too, and it hasn't received anywhere near the pushback Lepore got. Wilson's ideal critic is a model consumer who buys everything and offers only aspirational messages in return, and I find that as condescending as Lepore's piece--especially in defense of such a mediocre comic.

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