“Hello, Moto” – A Brief, Enchanting Introduction to Fantasy Author Nnedi Okorafor

Illustration by Jillian Tamaki (via. Tor.com)

So you’ve never heard of Nnedi Okorafor… Or maybe you’ve heard the name, but aren’t sure you’d like her work…. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to read her work for some time now, but it’s never quite made it to the top of the pile of books you’ve been meaning to get to…

Well, Hello, Moto is the perfect solution. It’s 16 pages of awesome, packing in sci-fi, witchcraft, futurism, and social commentary on Black women’s hair.  And you can read it for free on Tor.com or download it on your reader for $0.99.  Read it on your commute, read it while you’re waiting for the water to boil, read it for a brief fantastical escape from your office work drudgery. It will stick with you beyond the 20 minutes it takes to read it.

It’s an impressive feat that Okorafor was able to craft such a complete story into such a small space.  Hello, Moto casts both large broad strokes to give the world it’s shape …

“Don’t ever mix juju with technology. There is witchcraft in science and science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually.”

and sharp, striking details…

“Everything about Philo rattled as she stopped and lifted her purse – the jangling bangles on her arms, her jingling earrings and her three gold chain necklaces. She was clicks and clacks, shines and sparkles.”

Even in just 16 pages, Okorafor gives us distinct character voices, draws us in with intrigue, and paints a picture of a world that grabs the imagination…which should give you a good idea as to dynamic worlds and incredible characters she creates in her novels.

Known her award-winning YA fantasy novels, like Zahrah the Windseeker and Akata Witch, Okorafor most recently published novel more tailored to adult readers titled Who Fears Death, which boasts a focus on social and political issues in Nigeria weaved seamlessly into the tapestry of the thrilling magical worlds she is best known for creating.

An Outsider Review of “Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines”

It’s not news that women tend to be mis- and under- represented in comics. They’re too naked, they’re drawn according to the impossible proportions of adolescent male fantasy, they’re rarely lead characters…  The list goes on.

(WONDER WOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines from Vaquera Films on Vimeo.)

The ways that women are portrayed in comics has been historically problematic and the documentary  Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines addresses these issues through the story of comics’ most iconic female superhero — Wonder Woman. But more than a slap on the wrist of the comics industry, the film looks at Wonder Woman’s impact on generations of women and comics fans, making the case for why we need more female superheroes… empowered ones… in lead roles.

Moving stories from fans about how this flag-sporting superheroine inspired them are paired with intriguing commentary on how Wonder Woman has evolved alongside the changing roles of women in the U.S., from the 50’s housewives, to the working women during World War II’s, to the women’s liberation movement of the 70’s, to the near-oblivion the character today.

Wonder Woman beasting without her powers

In just an hour, the film covers a good deal of Wonder Woman’s history, from her revolutionary debut on the comics scene to the post-WWII years when she lost her powers and began working at a boutique shop. In addition to everyday fans and scholars, an impressive cast of famous Wonder Woman admirers spoke about their experiences with the character, including Lynda Carter, the actress who played Wonder Woman in the original television series in the 70’s (fun fact: she’s also voiced several female characters in The Elder Scrolls games…), and famous feminist Gloria Steinem, who recounts how the decision to use Wonder Woman as a icon for the then new feminist magazine Ms. became a campaign to restore Wonder Woman’s powers and return her to her former superhero glory.

Steinem’s campaign was successful. DC Comics scrapped the remaining scripts in the powerless Wonder Woman story arc, restored her powers and costume, and, Steinem adds, they even gave her a Black sister.

The re-empowerment of Wonder Woman came at the same time that women, Black and white, around the U.S. were fighting for their own empowerment. And through the story of one young woman Katie Pineda, the film indicates that Wonder Woman is still a relevant and important role model for the empowerment of young women today. This is the core of the film’s message — Wonder Woman isn’t just a comic book character, she’s an icon for women’s empowerment.

Steinem’s campaign and the re-powering of Wonder Woman is one of the most fascinating stories in the film. In fact, the film doesn’t get into the whole story, which is even more interesting….

Samuel R. Delany reading at The Kitchen for an event for Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia Project (photo byAlex Lozupone)
Samuel R. Delany reading at The Kitchen for an event for Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia Project (photo byAlex Lozupone)

At the time of Steinem’s campaign science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, known for his work’s commentary on race, sexuality and social issues, had been slated to write a new Wonder Woman arc. He had plans to write a story about Wonder Woman, who even in her de-powered state was still fighting crime, where she would be defending an abortion clinic against a group of radical pro-lifers. Delany had plans for several other stories addressing feminist issues.  However, these stories were never published, as the publisher pulled Delany from comic in order to pursue the re-powered story line that Steinem and company were demanding.  So, ironically, Steinem’s campaign was used to cancel a radical feminist story arc by one of the best geeky writers. Womp.

And the interview with Steinem is still more interesting, as she made a brief mention of Wonder Woman’s Black sister…Nubia (later Nu’Bia), who is quickly glossed over in the documentary. And rightly so since Nubia is more of a quirky fact in Wonder Woman history than an actual substantial character, not to mention her plot-lines were often stereotyped, ridiculous, or absurdly limited.

Nubia, Wonder Woman’s Black sister

Though her inclusion in the film is brief, it is evident that the character of Nubia was created to reflect not only the racial equality changes of that decade, but also the women’s liberation movement’s efforts to be racially inclusive. The attempt with Nubia was pretty flawed.  Nubia may not have made for the best material for this documentary, but the brief mention certainly sparks an interest and draws attention to the question of women of color  in comics.

Storm and Uhura are noted in the film, but for the most part superheroines of color are somewhat underrepresented here. For one example, in the film’s discussion of strong female heroes in movies, the  notable number of ass-kicking Black women characters in 70’s Blaxploitation films, like Coffy and Foxey Brown would have been an interesting inclusion.

In the end the film calls for a resurgence of the Wonder Woman character, and indeed it would be long-overdue  great news to see a Wonder Woman movie or a new TV series. In fact, over the years fans have been teased with rumors of some writer or other supposedly working on a movie or TV show (there was even a pilot filmed at one point), but those hopes have been repeatedly disappointed.

Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (2011)
Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (2011)

It’s a shame that the most iconic female superhero does not enjoy the franchise that other classic superheroes like Iron Man or Thor do. However, there are many more leading and empowered superheroines in comics today than ever before (many of them even wear pants!), and many of them are busting up old problematic models of women in comics. In such a scene, one can’t help but wonder if Wonder Woman’s lower profile is because her lasso of truth and bullet proof cuffs are a bit dated and have a hard time competing with flying, energy blasters like Captain Marvel or tech titans like Batwoman.

The film discusses at least two of the other superheroines on the scene, Ms. Marvel and Bionic Woman, but primarily in their historical roles.  These two characters are still around and thriving.  Recently Ms. Marvel dropped her “Ms.” and her skimpy outfit and is now a pants-sporting lead of her own title as Captain Marvel. Bionic Woman has a smaller audience, but is currently leading two title comics Bionic Woman and Bionic Man vs. Bionic Woman. Even Wonder Woman herself got a stellar reboot by Brian Azzarellowhich is still ongoing and has been both praised and criticized for it’s notable changes to Wonder Woman’s story and persona.

Fearless Defenders #2 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney
Fearless Defenders #2 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney

 Other awesome superheroines, like Batwoman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Katana, Glory, She Hulk, Ghost and others are clothed and kicking butt in their own title comics today. Other superheroines are even fighting in all-female teams, like Fearless Defenders’ Dani Moonstar, Valkyrie, and Misty Knight,  and Brian Wood’s forthcoming X-menan all-female team including Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pride, Pyslocke, and Jubilee (all wearing pants!).

Wonder Women is at its most interesting when it points to how the development of Wonder Woman’s story over the decades reflects and comments on the evolution of women’s rights and roles throughout American history.  The stories of those whose lives have been touched by this dynamic icon are truly moving.  However, the film is short and jam-packed, such that there is little treatment of other leading women in comics (specifically comics, since there was a chunk of time given to strong women characters in film), which was a small disappointment as the title seemed to promise a larger, more diverse cast of comics’ wonder women, plural. Nonetheless, it is an incredibly interesting addition to the dialogue about women in comics, full of real-world wonder women and wonder geeks!

And the film’s crew isn’t done talking about it either.  In addition to an active Twitter account, boasting all sorts of lady geekery, on May 1st they’ll be debuting a companion game called Wonder City to draw attention to mis- and under- representation of girls in games and the lack of games for girls that don’t center around stereotypically “girly” things like dating and cooking… Check it out: http://wonderwomendoc.com/game/

13 Comics To Read in 2013- Chacebook Edition

A fanTAStic selection, including the one and only Miranda Mercury!

chacebook

This blog is written in response to a post I recently read: 13 Comics To Read in 2013- Black Superhero Edition. I believe the blogs intentions were good, trying to highlight some comics that feature prominent Black characters. However, I still found it rather glaring that, out of the 13 books, 9 of them were either Marvel or DC books, and neither of those companies has a great track record when it comes to portraying Black characters. I was particularly struck by a line in that post regarding New Avengers:

Ok so the return of the Black panther to a monthly title finds him not flying it solo but we do have to take what we can get.

WRONG. We do NOT have to take what we can get from Marvel, or DC. There are other quality books, from independent publishers, by Black creators, and/or featuring Black characters. Here…

View original post 1,664 more words

Swords, Demon Cheerleaders, & 10-sided Die: ‘She Kills Monsters’ Is Must-See Nerd Theater

The poster for She Kills Monsters
The poster for She Kills Monsters

Dear fellow geek: If you’re not already convinced that you absolutely need to see a play about Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with a title like “She Kills Monsters and some beautiful comic-book-y poster art… then let the play’s opening lines convince you:

[cue hooded, accented, ominous narrator] “In a time before Facebook, Worlds of Warcraft, and Massive Multiplayer Online RPGs, there once existed simply a game. Forged by the hands of nerds, crafted in the minds of geeks, and so advanced in its advanciness it would take a whole second edition to contain all its mighty geekery.”

And if you’re still not convinced, watch this trailer:

Right?! A whole play about D&D that opens with a slew of geek tropes and references?! Yes, please! Did you know there was such a thing as Geek Theater?  It’s probably not yet actually a thing. Clearly playwright Qui Nguyen invented it… and in She Kills Monsters he did it to a 90’s soundtrack that’ll make you alternately slap your forehead in embarrassment (because you still know every single word) and/or unconsciously start doing the butterfly in your seat.

If you were like the nerds ’round my neighborhood in the 90’s you spent most of the decade blowing on Sega cartridges, recording mixtapes with weird combinations of No DoubtTLC, and The Butthole Surfers for your brand-new Walkman, and staying up to catch the late-night reruns of Xena: Warrior Princess. If you were like Agnes Evans, the unlikely protagonist (and resident bore among the battle-clad nerds) of this geeky play, you spent the 90’s listening to Ace of Base and tying up the house’s single phone line to talk with your bff, while your geeky little sister played dress up and slayed imaginary dragons…

It’s 1995 and Agnes Evans is a 25-year-old school-teacher at the same high school her little sister Tilly attends. Er – attended, since Tilly, along with their mother and father, were recently killed in a car crash. Agnes is the only survivor of the Evans family, and after a brief shadow puppet intro to set up some bio background, we’re introduced to a fairly well-adjusted Agnes approaching one of her pubescent geeky students for help uncovering the mystery of her sister’s Dungeons and Dragons module (info that sets up the game).

The ragtag team of heroes
The ragtag team of heroes

And we’re off!  In no time there are sexy-clad warrior women swinging battle-axes and kicking some serious demon monster ass.  Agnes is caught up in a world she doesn’t understand and mostly judges it as pretty ridiculous. But it’s all she has left of her sister, and so she takes up a sword and in her flowery “Mom” skirt she fights alongside a ragtag team of heroes, including….

The She Kills Monsters cast
The She Kills Monsters cast

Kaliope, the Dark Elf/Drow (actress Adobuere Ebiama)

Orcus, the lazy demon overlord (actor Stewart Evan Smith)

Lillith, the demon queen (actress Meredith Saran)

and of course…

her sister, Tillius, the Paladin (actress Jordan Clark)

Along the way, Agnes is not only inducted into the fantasy land fueled by obsessive geekery, but she begins to realize how little she really knew her sister.

Qui Nguyen didn’t just write a play about D&D to see a bunch of beautiful nerds swing swords and battle sexy succubus cheerleaders.  For as amazing as the action scenes are (thanks to Fight Director Robert Najarian, cause I’m pretty sure those were actual weapons… that battle-axe looked like it had some heft to it…), and as fun as it is to rock out to Butthole Surfers while badass warrior women slice and dice bugbears and carnivorous gelatinous cubes, it is still ultimately a play about a woman who has tragically lost her family, and who is wrestling with the ghost of a sister she never really knew. And it’s also about Tilly, a geeky girl who retreats from a meaner world that doesn’t understand her into a fantasy land where she gets to decide the rules of the world and slay some mean monsters in the meantime.

Somehow, even sandwiched between the glorious sound of swords clanking over “The World Is A Vampire” by The Smashing Pumpkins and scenes of a sassy, killer faerie grooving to TLC, the more serious moments still hold their weight. She Kills Monsters is smart and hilarious and a complete and total geek-out, and it’s also an homage to all the outsiders for whom games, fantastical worlds, and other geeky enterprises were places to be more themselves, who they want to be, or to get completely away from reality altogether.

The brave team (runs in place) charging head-first into danger
The brave team (runs in place) charging head-first into danger

The cast and crew, led by Director Shira Milikowsky, came up with inventive ways to use the space and create seamless and clear transitions between the D&D world and Agnes’ reality. Actress Kaitee Tredway hijacked the show with her bold and sadistic portrayal of Evil Tina, succubus cheerleader, and the sassy faerie Farrah.

Kaitee Tredway as Evil Tina
Kaitee Tredway as Evil Tina

It was a nice surprise to be so pleased every time minor character Jamianne Devlin came on stage as Agnes’ snarky, no-bullshit best friend Vera. Though not a lead role, Devlin played Vera perfectly, giving the real-world scenes just as much spunk and vitality as the demon-infested sword-clanging D&D world.

And of course, real-life sisters Jordan Clark (Tilly) and Paige Clark Anderson (Agnes), who I’m betting will solve all their sibling disputes via. sword fight from now on, totally nailed the sisterly love, complete with juvenile bickering and taunting.

Sisters Agnes (Paige Clark Perkinson) and Tilly (Jordan Clark)
Sisters Agnes (Paige Clark Perkinson) and Tilly (Jordan Clark)

Because this is Geek Outsider, and because the super awesome cast was winningly diverse and female-led, I have to also give a shout-out to Company One, the super awesome theater company behind the show, which was founded, according to their website, “to integrate Boston audiences, challenge the city’s social divides and foster a new generation of theatre-makers and theatergoers.”  Love it.

Basically, go see it. Now. Ten bucks you go home and dig-out your twenty-sided die immediately afterwards.

She Kills Monsters

by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Shira Milikowsky
Fight Direction by Robert Najarian
April 13 – May 11, 2013
BCA Plaza Theatre

Also. Did I mention swords? There are lots of swords.

SKM swords

The Seventh Sphinx on “reading: Alan Moore’s Fashion Beast”

My girl Meghan over at The Seventh Sphinx borrowed a couple issues of Alan Moore’s Fashion Beast comic from me, and, a fashion beast herself, she naturally fell in love with it and spewed some nice fashionable wisdom on it over at her dope  fashion blog The Seventh Sphinx… For the geeky Alan  Moore fans among us, Fashion Beast (Avatar Press) was originally supposed to be a movie, which Moore had been  working on back in 1985 right around the time he was raking in fame and dollars for The Watchmen.   But the screenplay was never filmed, and thirty years later he turned this freaky stylish Beauty and the Beast adaptation into a pretty stunning comic…  Read on for more on the story!

reading: Alan Moore’s Fashion Beast

On April 25, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

CPL was quick to recommend Alan Moore’s recent offering from Avatar Press, Fashion Beast, and lent me the first 8 of 10 issues. A graphic novel all about the power of fashion? Spot on with that recommendation. Opening issues: Mysterious designer auditioning humans as living mannequins with nuclear winter on the horizon. Yes thanks.

IMG_3188

Fashion Beast is so my new epithet.

IMG_3191

This text gets into the philosophy of fashion, the power of appearance and therefore of transformation. In this case, clothes are king, and appearance trumps all. I don’t think fashion has to be viewed from a serious or philosophical standpoint but it certainly can be (yet another lens through which to survey existence, yours, mine, and ours), and when it is, some very interesting things begin to happen. At least, to me. Namely, I pay more attention, I become more careful in my choices, I become that which I am always striving to be: a creature who does things on purpose.

That is not to say I know why exactly, or know what I am doing*, just…that I chose it, from an array of other choices I deemed inferior or less appealing.

*DEFinitely not saying that.

“Our clothes are bigger than we are, are beyond the petty lusts and difficulties of the creatures that inhabit them.”

Read more at The Seventh Sphinx

Fashion Geeks, Music Freaks: Erykah Badu & Janelle Monae are Q.U.E.E.Ns of Style

A brand new single from Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu dropped last night… and it’s killer. Q.U.E.E.N is the first single released from Monae’s upcoming album The Electric Lady:

Erykah Badu at the Grammy'slooking regal
Erykah Badu at the Grammy’slooking regal

It’s funky, electric, and smooth – a fly combination of the two singers’ unique musical styles. Try not to move to this.

Their musical styles might be vastly different, but the lyrics touch on some of their shared experiences as Black women, as unique musical artists, and as otherworldly stylists. It’s about being weird and offbeat and oh-so-cool for it.

For both Badu and Monae, their fashion styles are as prominent and flavorful as their music. They’re known by it, it’s flashy, it’s wild, it’s weirdly so cool.  They’re both fashion geeks! Stylistas who break all the rules of what it means to be fashionable.

Monae with her classy suit and tie and that hair, which she true-to-form designates “The Monae”, emphasizing her dedication to a totally personal style.

Several times the song calls on both ladies’ incomparable fashion sense to talk about bigger issues of “strangeness”…:

“They call us dirty ‘cuz we break all your rules down”…

“Say is it weird to like the way she wear her tights?
And is it rude to wear my shades?”

from  religion…

“Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven?
Say will your God accept me in my black and white?
Will he approve the way I’m made?
Or should I reprogram the programming and get down?…

Baby, we in tuxedo groove
Monae and E. Badu
Crazy in the black and white

to social inequality…

“Are we a lost generation of our people?
Add us to equations but they’ll never make us equal.
She who writes the movie owns the script and the sequel.
So why ain’t the stealing of my rights made illegal?
They keep us underground working hard for the greedy,
But when it’s time pay they turn around and call us needy.
My crown too heavy like the Queen Nefertiti
Gimme back my pyramid, I’m trying to free Kansas City.

to self-love:

“Even if it makes others uncomfortable
I wanna love who I am
Even if it makes other uncomfortable
I will love who I am”

In their own individual music both women speak to all of these things, and this team-up is like a the beginnings of a Black Superheroine team! A solidarity between Black women that seems all too rare in the days of Beyonce- Minaj face-offs and Real Housewives drama.

Together Badu and Monae use their music and their fashion to bust all sorts of myths about Black women —  that there’s only one way to be Black, that there is a persistent animosity between Black women, that women can’t wear suits, that Black isn’t beautiful, that Black ladies ain’t the cooolest, smoothest, funkiest game in town. You’ve had a listen, now take a look…

The Hair.  The Hair!

The Nerdy. 

The Cool.

The Classy.

The Girly.

 

The Royalty.

The Quintessential Weird-Cool-Awesome.

The Q.U.E.E.Ns

Janelle Monae & Erykah Badu at the 2010 Soul Train Awards
Janelle Monae & Erykah Badu at the 2010 Soul Train Awards

5 *Current* Comics With Leading Brownfolk

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So often we praise and celebrate the work of groups like Milestone comics and people like Dwayne McDuffie, while lamenting the lack of current movements to create a stronger representation of race and gender diversity in comics. So… Because it’s Wednesday. Because it’s Ship Day. Because I just read a backlog of some 35 comics or so. I thought today was a good day to celebrate the awesome current  (as in coming out by the issue, from major publishers, right now!) comics  who are putting brownfolk and queerfolk front and center. Because, why not celebrate? It’s Wednesday!

The Victories 

Michael Oemig, Nick Falardi, Aaron Walker (Dark Horse)

Michael Avon Oeming, of Powers fame, put out the first issue of The Victories back in August of last year. It was a limited series, running only 5 issues, but he’s been continuing the story in Dark Horse Presents every month. The story follows six hardcore heroes, calling themselves The Victories, who mercilessly protect their city with superpowers and hardpacked punches. Oeming deftly

Faustus sans mask
Faustus sans mask

draws out distinct and dynamic personalities in each of his heroes, among whom are…

Faustus – our main character, who we first meet in a particularly ruthless justice-dealing. Faustus fights with a mouthful of wise-cracks and ruthless martial arts, and he’s got zero-tolerance for baddies. Faustus’ mask covers his whole face, revealing only a mean set of eyes that should make his foes piss themselves. When he finally does take of the mask, we discover that he’s a Black guy with a troubled past, his confrontation with which is the focus of the 5-issue mini-series, and which accounts for his serious drinking problem.  The mini-series is mostly about Faustus, but we get a closer look at the other heroes in the stories Dark Horse Presents run…

D.D. Mau in action
D.D. Mau in action

D.D. Mau is my personal favorite. Endowed with superspeed and strength, she’s an arrogant show-off and she’s loud about it, but it’s totally fine cause she’s also that good.  No matter her mouthy cockiness is seated in deep insecurity… she’ll still dominate you, with a running commentary on her badassery, and look good doin’ it. As a busty Vietnamese woman, she sports a Power Girl boob window and uses her (kiinda racist) superhero name ironically and she’d laugh in your face at your discomfort with either.

Lady Dragon
Lady Dragon

Lady Dragon (aka Lady D) is the more mature of her teammates. Her mild manner contrasts to her eager use of her fire powers that earned her name Lady Dragon. As far as I understand it there’s not official leader of the group, but she’s the one who steps up when a little leadership is needed

Metatron is kinda boring so far. He flies around and comes to the assist when needed, and I think he spends a lot of time in space… Sai doesn’t say much, but he named himself after the two weapons he fights expertly with and perhaps that’s all we need to know. Well, that and why he wears a conical hat in combat… Sleeper might as well be called Mr. Mystery. His face is mysteriously covered in mysterious wrappings. He’s mysteriously calm and mysteriously wise. But not to be fooled, he also packs a not so mysterious powerful punch.

Saga

Briank K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Image)

First of all, this comic is amazing! Seriously, I go all giddy inside every time it shows up on the weekly ship list. If you aren’t already one of its many fans, pick it up. The world-building work of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is simply masterful and wildly imaginative. Now, all of their characters might be aliens from various non-Earth planets out in the imaginary galaxy, but a ton of them are brown, including the lead characters.  It’s only in issue #12, so pick up the first trade and catch up!

Alana and Marko
Alana and Marko

Alana is our brown-skinned leading lady. She curses like a sailor, but made a terrible soldier, and though her pacifist husband sacrificed his sword, she packs something called a heartbreaker gun to defend her family from hordes of imperial forces and their hired assassins hunting the galaxy for them.

Gwendolyn makes her first appearance
Gwendolyn makes her first appearance

Marko is the leading guy. He’s olive-skinned and bushy-browed and his horns have really grown on me.  He sweet, and he may be a pacifist but he’s no pushover and will defend his family to the death even if he’s only got his bare hands and horns to do so.

Gwendolyn used to be the dark-skinned leading lady in Marko‘s life, but things probably won’t work out now that he’s dumped his beloved horned Gwendolyn for the winged enemy-race Alana. But she’s not done with him. She’s got an assassin and a psychic on her side to hunt them down and deliver the ultimate ex-girlfriend revenge.

The Massive

Brian Wood, Gary Erskine, Jordie Bellaire (Dark Horse)

The Massive follows a multinational team of (more or less) pacifist environmentalists called The Ninth Wave, on a mission to find their sister ship “The Massive”, which has gone missing in this new post-crash world… where the seas have risen and violence and environmental disaster have broken down the fabric of society as we know it.

callum israelCallum (Cal) Israel leads the team, and he’s got quite an interesting background. Born in Bangladesh, he’s been continent hopping for ages, first as part of a secret mercenary group, and now sea-bound in his own employ on The Kapital. We don’t know much else about him, but he inspires loyalty in his friends and he leads with compassion.

mag nagendra

Mag Nagendra on the other hand, hardly meets Ninth Wave’s pacifism requirements. Originally from Sri Lanka, and a former member of the Tamil Tigers as well as serving under Callum Isreal for the mercenary group Blackbell, Mag holds firm that in this post-crash world, the best negotiations take place with your finger at the trigger. However, he is fiercely loyal to Cal, and will protect him even if he doesn’t always agree with him.

Mary massiveMary…is interesting. I sat down to write something about her and realized I don’t think we know her last name yet, or where she’s actually from, aside from East Africa somewhere. Second-in-command on The Kapital, and Cal’s lover, Mary is a stealthy, badass mystery. She can sneak out of a room with no windows when you’re looking right at her, she can take on armed men with nothing but her fists, and she’s always got a plan. She’s been in a lot of hairy situations and they barely faze her, unless it’s Cal that’s in trouble.

The Highways

John Byrne (IDW)

The Highways  is one of the lesser-known comics on this list, and that’s a shame, cause it’s basically awesome. John Byrne does an incredible job creating a space scenario where you can actually imagine folk going about their everyday business, rather than the super exclusive, high-tech space scene we usually get, and he gets down to the details.  The story follows the accidental adventures of the spacesuit-clad crew of a shipping freighter.

Eddie Wallace, lovingly called “Sprout” by the co-captain of the freighter, is a new recruit to Jack Cagney’s ship, but he quickly learns the ropes with the mentorship of the smart and ever-capable Marilyn Jones. Soon after Eddie joins the crew, they fall into a bit of an adventure, and it looks like there might be more to Eddie than it seems…

Marilyn Jones and Eddie Wallace
Marilyn Jones and Eddie Wallace

Marilyn Jones seems to be the one in command on the ship. Though Jack Cagney is technically the “captain” (he doesn’t like to be called that though), the two are business partners.  Jones basically runs things and makes the tough calls. Her vibrantly colored spacesuit speaks to her colorful personality, but the fact that she’s able to pulloff a colorful suit without anyone questioning her authority is testament to her badassery.

And in on the more mainstream side of things…

Uncanny X-force

Samuel Humphries, Danny K. Miki, Chris Eliopo

Uncanny X-Force #3
Uncanny X-Force #3

Starting with a new issue #1 in January 2013, Uncanny X-force has been following the team-up of Storm and Psylocke for only 3 issues so far.  The two took to the road to stop a drug-dealing mutant and to let Psylocke get some time away from the confines of the school, where she doesn’t quite fit in.

Psylocke joined the school after the Uncanny X-force team was disbanded. But with her shady past and short temper, she’s not exactly made to be a schoolteacher. Seeing her struggles, Wolverine sent her out with Storm to let off some steam and figure things out.

Storm is sporting a mohawk these days and is battling her own demons after the unexpected divorce from hubby T’challa (Black Panther).

And recently, in their somewhat noir-like investigation, Storm and Psylocke ran into the long-missing Bishop, who isn’t quite himself…

This new Uncanny X-force is still young, so grab the first three issues to see two badass brown ladies laying down the law.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I’m thrilled to know that I could fairly easily come up with more comics with brown or queer leads! And I will… next week!