Fearless #1 // Review
It wasn’t that long ago that Marvel women weren’t prominently featured in their own titles. The company had tried to introduce in the early 1970s, Dazzler and Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. Every single title failed. Back then there was like...ONE prominent female writer working with the company. (The one I’m thinking of is Anne Nocenti. There might have been one or two others.) Shoot ahead a few decades and the number one selling comic book of the year so far for Marvel is Black Cat #1 and a group shot of women working for Marvel doesn’t even fit comfortably in a single frame. My how things have changed. This month, Marvel debuts Fearless--a new all-woman anthology series. It’s written by women. It’s drawn by women. It’s about characters who are women. And it’s...four issues long. Okay: so maybe if this one works out, they’ll do more.
The opening feature is the first part of “Campfire Song”--a story written by Seanan McGuire and drawn by Claire Roe. Captain Marvel, Storm and Invisible Woman are all invited to speak at a summer camp for girls. Each one of them is dealing with a different inner struggle as they all motivate towards meeting-up and inspiring some young girls. McGuire’s dialogue holds every bit as much wit as it does in her work on Spider-Gwen. McGuire’s unique humor fits quite well with great heroines in a feature that is drawn with considerable emotional gravity by Claire Roe.
The second feature is yet another appearance by Ruth Atkinson’s Millie, the Model. The model character who debuted in Marvel’s days as Timely Comics back in the mid-1940s returns again in a short written by Leah Williams. The short sitcom-like 12-page feature opens with a classic paper doll splash page featuring a millie doll striking a post amidst a variety of different outfits. Williams’ smart blending of characterization and humor is captured in a stylish realism by artist Nina Vakueva. It’s nice to see Marvel trying something like this again. If comic books as a medium are going to survive in the long-run, as media becomes more and more cluttered with alternative formats, they’re really going to need to embrace non-sci-fi/fantasy genres. And Millie’s cute. Nice to see her brought forth into a more of a contemporary modeling story.
Sitcom gives way to something much more cartoony with writer Kelly Thompson’s three-page joke “Unusual Suspects.” Elsa Bloodstone is calling-up Jessica Jones. She’s in trouble. She’s in jail. She’s asking Jessica to bring all her money. She’ll explain later. Artist Carmen Carnero captures the moody shadows of the first couple of pages which pay-off in a final page punchline that contrasts against them beautifully. Not a bad way to close out the book.
The issue is appended with some of the women involved in the book. It’s an appealing package that would work exceedingly well as an ongoing series. The Marvel Universe is populated by fascinating women who would be all kinds of fun in little bite-sized narratives placed together in a single issue like this.