Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Three From Marvel -- No, Really!

So, although I'm a big fan of comics in general, I've always had a little problem getting into the Marvel Universe.

It's not that I don't like superheroes, or that I don't appreciate the more human aspects of the characters. It's just that, all those mutants start bleeding together after a while, you know? And sometimes, I just wish that Spider-Man (and the Hulk, and Wolverine) would just get over himself.

So, I was amazed when I found not one but three new Marvel titles that I totally dug.

First up is Arana: Heart of the Spider. This is the story of Anya Corazon, a teen who lives in Brooklyn, NYC. She's bright, athletic, and incapable of backing down from a fight. Although Anya gets along well with her dad, an investigative reporter, she is haunted by memories of her mother. One night, her life is changed forever, when a mysterious man named Miguel saves her life. Miguel is part of the secretive Spider Society, a shadowy organization that is engaged in an ancient battle with the villainous Sisterhoodd of the Wasp. A cool Latina heroine and bright artwork that shows a lot of manga influences make this a great read.

Every school has it's cliques, right? You've got the jocks, the drama geeks, the goths. But in Spellbinders: Signs and Wonders, which is set in Salem, MA, the teens divide themselves between the Wicks and the Blanks, or those who have magic, and those who don't. Kim Velasco, the new girl in town, figures she'll settle right in with the Blanks, seeing as only the descendents of the original settlers of Salem have magic. So imagine her surprise when she's attacked by magical creatures and starts talking to dead people. She turns to the Wicks for help, but the members of these rival covens will have to stop bickering long enough to fight. Mike Carey, the author of this series, is one of my favorite writers, and he is a master of combining magic and the real world. If you miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or are a fan of Charmed, you should check this title out.

Saving the best for last, we come to my favorite Marvel series ever. Every teen knows that their parents are up to something, right? But what if you discovered that your parents really were evil? This is the set-up for Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn. Six very different teens: gamer Alex, goth girl Nico, chubby nerd Gertrude, jock Chase, beautiful vegan Karolina and pre-teen Molly are forced to attend a yearly meeting at the home of Alex's parents, supposedly for the adults to talk about their charity work. Getting the bright idea to spy on the meeting, the kids discover that their parents are actually super-powered villains who are part of a secret society known as The Pride. Horrified by what they see, the teens run away, taking Molly with them, and make startling discoveries about themselves and true nature of their parents. The four books in this series are great, with believableable characters, great action scenes, mystery, intrigue -- even a hint of romance. Even if you're not into superheroes, this book is worth reading.

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