Awesome writer and fan Imogen Binnie got us all geektastic when she pointed out this genius match-up. And it’s basically undeniable. Not only does Mr. Heist, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan’s subversive revolution-inciting novelist, bear an uncanny resemblance to the legendary Sam Delany, but also…
Both Mr. Heist and our (cyclops-deprived) universe’s own Sam Delany are masters of ideas, using the “low brow” genres to examines big ideas about social justice. And…
Okay, so, maybe besides the awesome beard, the resemblances stop there (as far as we know, Mr. Delany has never had an alcohol problem or threw up on babies)… but, bad first impressions aside, if Mr. Heist is in anyway inspired by the one and only Sam Delany, the Saga-verse just got that much doper. And just when you thought it was impossible to fan-crush on Saga any harder. Oh yeah, did we mention issue #15 is out this week?
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!
Michael Oemig, Nick Falardi, Aaron Walker (Dark Horse)
Michael Avon Oeming, of Powersfame, 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 Presentsevery month. The story follows six hardcore heroes, calling themselves The Victories, who mercilessly protect their city with superpowers and hardpacked punches. Oeming deftly
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 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 (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.
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 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.
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.
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 (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 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…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.
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 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…
Samuel Humphries, Danny K. Miki, Chris Eliopo
Starting with a new issue #1 in January 2013, Uncanny X-forcehas 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!
There are some pretty badass Black women in comics, and Agent 355 is at the top of my list of favorites. Created by one of my favorite comics writers Brian K. Vaughan in his epic series Y: The Last Man, she was a secret agent for of the Culper Ring, a secret spy ring that grew out of the American Revolutionary War and conducts all sorts of shady covert ops.
After the world goes haywire and almost every single male on the planet dies suddenly Agent 355, sometimes referred to as “Three-Fifty” is charged with finding and protecting the world’s last man Yorick Brown, a twenty-something kid obsessed with magic tricks. 355’s training in the Culper Rings makes her highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat, stealth, and the use of various firearms and weapons. She was recruited to the Culper Ring at a very young age, and her first code name was 86. But after she killed her mentor (the original 355), who was plotting an assassination of the President, she took on the name 355. Her real name was never revealed. I’m guessing her codename was inspired by the mysterious Agent 355, who was possibly the first female undercover operative in the real-life Culper Ring.
355 protects Yorick throughout many adventures in the post-apocalayptic world, while Yorick mostly bumbles about pining for his lost girlfriend and generally getting them into serious ish with the rogue lady bullies trying to survive in the post-male-apocalypse. Eventually 355 finds a female scientist Dr. Allison Mann, who might have the solution to the plague that killed all of the men. Dr. Mann is pretty bad ass herself, displaying some pretty decent fighting skills and basically taking no shit, ever. She’s half-Chinese, half-Japanese, and has had to deal with her crazy warring parents. Dr. Mann is also attracted to women, and has the hots for Agent 355, with whom she shares a brief romance.
The team, including Yorick’s friendly monkey Ampersand, go on the hunt for Yorick’s girlfriend. But throughout their travels Yorick and 355 become close and develop romantic feelings towards one another. Naturally, of course, Yorick is too dense to realize this until the very last minute…
The best part of this series isn’t just the multi-culti crew, or the cadre of generally ass-kicking women (and there’s a lot of both of these), but the fact that Agent 355 is really the series’s hero. Yorick might be the only guy, but he doesn’t necessarily take center stage. In fact, his role is best described as damsel in distress. Kiinda great. Also, I just want to hug Brian K. Vaughan, and point other writers from every entertainment field ever to this example with a very sarcastic, ” Holy shit! Who knew a Black woman and a white dude could actually be sexually attracted to each other, without f*ck*d up over-sexualization, weird exoticism, or skin-whitener?? Crazy sauce.” Not to mention, being the only dude in the world, Yorick literally had his pick of the ladies. Good choice, Yorick. 355, I woulda stuck with Dr. Mann if I were you.
Anyway, if you haven’t read it, do. If you have, read it again, I’m gonna. Apparently there are clues to 355’s real name, and I bet my mind will only be blown again (double brain explosion) by all the stuff I didn’t pick up the first time around.