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A Very Unmerry Birthday

June 26, 2010

The central part of the Women of Marvel is a quick, five-issue event book about a few of Marvel’s women getting together and happening upon the return of one of Galactus’ heralds.  And all of this happens because these women are together to celebrate Emma Frost’s birthday.  In Heralds #1, Heralds #2, and Heralds #3, Cyclops gathers Pulsar (now called Photon again), Valkyrie, She-Hulk, Hellcat, and Abigail Brand to celebrate Emma’s birthday.  Meanwhile, some data stream hits a S.W.O.R.D. DNA storage facility, causing clones to come pouring out.  At the same time, a waitress named Frances Hyatt freaks out, stabs someone, and runs.  The superheroes manage to take out the raging clones (and dinosaurs) in Las Vegas, and after bumping into a clone of Dr. Phineas Horton (and calling him father), the waitress kind of explodes.  At the same time, someone looking suspiciously like Nova (Frankie Raye) flies towards Earth.  As Brand and S.W.O.R.D. try to figure out what happened, Frances wanders around on a road.  The superheroes eat, and they find out about the death of the Horton clone.  They want to check it out, and Emma ends up having to use her telepathy to get the guy at the morgue to let them.  Emma finds out about the clone’s connection to Frances using Photon as a telepathic guide (because she zapped him before he met Frances), and they manage to find the weakened Francis.  In New York City, Nova arrives, making the Human Torch burst into flames.  He takes Nova into some kind of portal in the Baxter Building, in which she turns back into Frankie and they argue.  The girls argue about what to do with Frances while the rest of the Fantastic Four try to figure out what’s up with Johnny.  Because of Mr. Fantastic meddling with things, Nova escapes from her imprisonment, and in a brief moment in which Emma instinctively turns diamond, Nova manages to lock onto Frances and flies after her.  Because apparently Frances is her target.  The girls and the Thing come in to save Frances, and Nova screams about being betrayed.  Frances’ eyes are now oddly filled with stars.  Brand returns with some kind of black hole gun, and they fire it at Nova, hoping to take her out.

You know, just like with X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back!, this story is semi-incomprehensible.  It really does take a while to figure out what’s going on, and there’s sometimes these extremely awkward scene transitions and strange dialogue that only further serve to muddle things.  Like the beginning with all that technobabble.  It took me quite a while to figure out what was going on there.  And then there seems to be this general idea of Nova split into Nova and Frankie, or Frances, who apparently doesn’t look like Frankie, despite looking almost exactly like Frankie in the art aside from hair length and style.  Then there’s the choice of women.  As with the rest of the Women of Marvel event, they pick some strange people.  She-Hulk and Emma Frost, I get.  And the Invisible Woman is joining the cast.  But Brand?  Photon?  Valkyrie?  Hellcat?  Hellcat’s just in there because Kathryn Immonen wrote a miniseries about her.  These people aren’t even friends.  I don’t even know if they actually know each other, aside from Hellcat and Valkyrie being former Defenders and Emma and Brand just hating each other.  Of course She-Hulk would know everyone, but still.  Plus there’s the weird Valkyrie comment.  Is she supposed to be Samantha Parrington?  But the Valkyrie in Secret Avengers is the original, so are there two running around?  Then there’s the art.  The main artist is Tonci Zonjic, whose work is a lot less clean than that one Loki story.  When you look at his Frankie straight on, she doesn’t even have a nose.  Just holes.  Then there’s the second artist, James Harren, whose work is so rough and unclear that half the time, the characters’ faces are just one big scrunched-up mess.  So yeah, I would say that this story is overall a failure.  Much more so than Pixie Strikes Back.  If the idea for this was supposed to be about female comic book characters and female creators, why are two men the artists?  For the writer, they could have at least gotten Kelly Sue DeConnick, who’s done a lot better with her one-shots.  At any rate, this just proves that we need more Gail Simones in the business and less Kathryn Immonens.  Or maybe I’m being too harsh.  But of her work that I’ve seen thus far, I’m not impressed.

Plot: 3.9      Art: 6.9      Dialogue: 8.5      Overall: 5.2

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