Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants

Marvel reveals an all-female A-Force, and why it’s important

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Cover Art for A-Force

This morning, Marvel announced a new monthly series of comics to be released in May. Written by G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite K. Bennett, and with artwork from Jorge Molina, the “A-Force” will star the likes of She-Hulk, Dazzler (those skates!!) and Nico Minoru from Runaways.

The kicker? It’s an ALL-FEMALE TEAM.

“We’ve purposefully assembled a team composed of very different characters — from disparate parts of the Marvel U, with very different power sets, identities and ideologies,” Wilson said in a statement. “They’ll all have to come together to answer some big questions: what would you sacrifice to succeed? What is being a hero worth?”

And while those are all very interesting philosophical questions for superheroines to ask, there’s more on that front. The A-Force will also introduce Singularity, a cosmically charged brand new super hero to the universe. However, Singularity isn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill Amazonian heroine.

In fact, Wilson had this to say about Singularity on Twitter:

If that’s the case, that implies she’s potentially also genderless, which Wilson points out:

And that would mean that if she’s learning all this from the human race, then she’d learn about gender and cultural norms from them as well. This could be interesting, considering how gender and cultural norms have traditionally influenced how comics were made in the first place.

A-Force #1 variant cover by Stephanie Hans, featuring Singularity

A-Force #1 variant cover by Stephanie Hans, featuring Singularity

“A-Force” is Marvel’s 15th female-led comic series. That’s 15, compared to the hundreds of series in which male characters take the lead. And of those, 13 of those were new in the last few years (Captain Marvel; Ms. Marvel; Black Widow; Elektra; Storm; She-Hulk; Thor; Angela; Spider-Woman; Silk; Gamora; Spider-Gwen; and Squirrel Girl). Even with reboots, Marvel made headlines with a female Thor and a black Captain America, and re-imagined Captain Marvel as a Muslim-American teenager.

These changes go far to change the landscape of comic culture. Once the domain of stereotypical white male comic book geeks, it’s been a long time coming for titles to be aimed at other fans of this growing industry. For such areas of geekdom to be accessible to “new” readers (read: women), the industry needs to take steps to remedy the view that it’s not welcoming of its female fans.

After so many historical missteps with female characters dressed impractically or contorting into poses for the male gaze (which still continues–for example, Marvel was in hot water last summer about a variant cover of their Spider-Woman series), it’s promising to see a new series that brings together a range of female characters as empowered heroes in their own right. It’ll hopefully be a step in the right direction to make comics more inclusive, accessible and empowering for all readers. And that can only be a good thing.

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