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Ms. Marvel, Limbo, No Signal, Ashen: This Week in Comics #8

VHS aesthetics, brilliant student works, a neon-soaked detective, and Ms. Marvel round off this week’s best comics.

This week the comic world is all aflutter because of a new trailer for Captain America: Civil War. The trailer sheds a bit more info on the plot but most importantly shows fans the first glimpse of Spider-Man. After being hailed by Tony Stark as “Under-Roos” (assumedly because his suit looks like underwear?) he deftly snatches Iron Man’s shield, flips around, lands and a car, and casually says “Hey everyone.” That’s the essence of the character, and while there’s still a lot more to see of the web slinger, that tone is exactly why he’s one of the most popular comic characters of all time. He’s goofy and his body reacts so quickly he’s got time to be clever. No matter how many self-serious movies they make starring handsome young white men as Spider-Man, for millions of fans he’ll always be the “nerd who made good.” And that wish-fulfillment gets to the heart of the major allure of mainstream comics. This week’s best comics feature a bit of that mainstream allure and plenty of indie subversion.

Limbo #5

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Cover of Limbo #5. Illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard. Photo courtesy of Image Comics

Written by Dan Watters, illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard, lettering by Jim Campbell.

Welcome to Dedande City, a place where the bizarre is perfectly normal, where small appliances become possessed, and where the hero of the comic, Clay, is a private investigator out to solve some crimes. Though this comic uses the classic noir story as its base, it revels in the buzzing neon and VHS-aesthetic of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. This issue takes place mostly in the underworld, where classic Haitian Vodou Loa like Baron Saturday, Maman Bridgette, and Papa Legba all wander the realms. It’s a dizzying mix of genres, from hard-boiled P.I. stories to buzzing Miami Vice all set in a fantastical New Orleans stand-in city. If you’re a fan of Vodou mythology, this comic does a nice job of handling it without fetishing it, which shows like American Horror Story still can’t seem to get right.

Ms. Marvel #5

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Cover for Ms. Marvel #5. Illustrated by David Lopez. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics

Written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Nico Leon, colors by Ian Herring, lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Ms. Marvel is, among many of its other amazing qualities, the first comic to portray a Muslim superhero in Kamala Kahn. This amount of cultural normalcy is so rare in comics, and it adds another level of purpose and near-gravitas to this fun, silly comic about a girl who can polymorph her body into different sizes and shapes. In this issue, Kamala deals with the aftermath of creating clones of herself to help her balance school, family time, and her crime-fighting career. But the clones begin replicating on their own, and Kamala and her friends have to work together to find a way of stopping them before they overrun Jersey City. With a playful art style and plenty of references to modern pop culture, this comic’s quickly become a huge hit with younger fans. In no small part thanks to the aforementioned Spider-Man-esque “perceived outsider kicking butt” wish fulfillment that Marvel’s been on the forefront of since the 60s.

No Signal #2

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Cover for No Signal. Illustrated by Brent Fisher. Photo courtesy of The Unusuals Comics

Created by Brent Fisher.

No Signal centers around a brilliant neuroscientist, Wally, who finds a way to depict thoughts and imagination in a concrete, visual way. The story also follow Wally’s friends as they try to live with his sudden mainstream success and celebrity. With the spotlight on the neuroscientist, the reader begins to see the cracks in his cool facade. This comic is pure creator-passion, it’s the type of comic where it’s clear that the author has put his blood, sweat, tears, and rent money into this side-project. With an announcement on the front page of the comic that “This will be the last No Signal release for about a year” this little project shows that it's bursting with enthusiasm.

Ashen

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Cover for Ashen. Illustrated by Chase Van Weerdhuizen. Photo courtesy of Chasing Comics

Created by Chase Van Weerdhuizen.

Ashen takes place in a land full of mysticism, where a person can travel to the gates of the underworld and sacrifice a part of themselves to enter. This story opens on Adeline returning from the land of the dead with a flower to bring her sister Marta back to life. When Marta falls ill again, Adeline stubbornly reenters the land of the dead to try to save her sister a second time. This comic is created by Chase Van Weerdhuizen who, at the time of this comic’s publication, is still a college student. This indie comic, with its sensible linework and straightforward adventure, is a breath of fresh air in a climate leaning toward abstraction. This is incredible work for a student, and a wonderful read regardless of who created it.

What were you reading this week? Let us know @CreatorsProject or in the comments below.

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