Weirdworld Rulez: Queer Worlds With Queer Villains and Queer Heroines

Weirdworld Rulez: Queer Worlds With Queer Villains and Queer Heroines

WeirdWorld was a Marvel series that was canceled after six issues, but released in collected format. With story by Sam Humphries and with art by Mike Del Mundo, colors by Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’alfonso, and letters by Cory Petit, WeirdWorld feels victim in large part to the massive range of All New All Different

WeirdWorld was a Marvel series that was canceled after six issues, but released in collected format. With story by Sam Humphries and with art by Mike Del Mundo, colors by Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’alfonso, and letters by Cory Petit, WeirdWorld feels victim in large part to the massive range of All New All Different Marvel–far too many titles for local comic shops to put their dollars into (among other factors, which I’ll get into in a future article). Well, I’ve uncovered it from the stack of mostly weak books that buried it, and I want to tell you all about how this is a book we needed, but didn’t know existed.

Let’s start with the least “SJWy” thing here: it’s wonderful, unique setting. This is a setting where things are strange and all sorts of monsters exist; it’s fantasy, but cars exist and whatnot. The world is this fantastic living thing that anything can happen in and is painted so perfectly by Del Mundo. He enraptures us, evoking a full world with these stunning creatures, vivid depictions of diverse bodies, and backgrounds that capture the imagination. This world promises itself as a place where the lost can be found. So it is fitting that this is also a world where women have every position of power; they are the leaders of every faction you meet (outside of the Wizard, who are not really rulers of anything). It’s a world where we see this as normal; it’s not a shock that women are in power. The characters, the reader, we all just see these women are powerful, and accept it. Oh, and they are powerful. Extremely powerful.

goletaGoleta, one of several lead characters in this story, visually captures the idea of women’s power with a body that we just don’t see on women in comics–in media–in general. She is freaking ripped! I mean she is staked like a pro wrestler, but not how we see lady pro wrestlers; she is built like an orc, but not like how we see lady orcs. Still she is a person who was loved, who is endearing, who is complex, who is a lead in this story. Beyond this it doesn’t do that “oh gee, someone this buff will be thought of as queer–better make her straight!” business. Nope, she likes the ladies.

Becca is our true lead. She is our point of view character, having been sucked into Weirdworld on the way to Mexico to bury her mother’s ashes. Having a Latnix women as our lead is amazing, something that is all too rare in comics. She isn’t a stereotype; real touches of Latnix identity are shown. We see it in the way she talks about San Antonio, the city in America with a 61.2% Latnix population (and growing). We also see her identity in her quest, the idea that returning to Mexico is the goal of this quest: after loss, returning to her roots. Becca feels so much like me, she isn’t randomly infusing Spanish into English sentences, but being Latnix is a part of her, in her skin, her past, her present, her future. In addition having a women dealing with loss in the specific way Becca does is great.

Becca’s journey is one with female role models, female issues, and one that shows off the complexity of women. Women are made three dimensional. Their motives are about themselves, about other women, about things men are allowed to be motivated by, but women often aren’t. Goleta and Becca’s relationship is a stunning rarity. It’s a teacher-student relationship between women. When we do see these in pop culture we get things like The Devil Wears Prada where it’s all about tearing each other down. It’s so often catty or about having to one up each other in some way, but here it’s totally different. It’s one where they grow to respect each other, but there is no furthering of the patriarchal expectations of women. No one is ever called on their looks; no one is called a gendered slur. We see women in all roles, in all parts of life. Women aren’t expected to be wives. They aren’t expected to look pretty. They are only expected to live.  

Morgan Le Fey is a character who was never brilliantly done at Marvel. Despite being a public domain character she is the most recognisably Marvel thing in this book. Yet, here we see maybe the greatest villain I have ever experienced in any piece of media. Morgan is a queen. She can be ruthless, she can cold, but she is also human despite her immortality. The women she loves is dying of age; she needs the Wuxian seed that the heroes we follow gain, and she would literally burn the world down to get it. We learn a lot about Morgan’s motivations issue to issue. Honestly, I could (and maybe will) write a whole article on Morgan Le Fey in WeirdWorld and how she embodies the lesson “how to perfectly do a villain” in particular a queer one.morgan

The queerness of this story is glorious as well. I mentioned characters’ particular queerness, but it’s just so lovely to see a non heteronormative world. The only indications of romance we see are queer; even Becca’s dearly departed mother is actually never shown with a man. She was a single mother, but a mention of a father doesn’t come up; it’s not what is important, and who’s to say Becca didn’t have two mothers? Becca’s sexuality is never stated, allowing her to be free for interpretation. It’s just great to have a story where you can’t say for granted that anyone is straight. Or even in, ya know, an M/F relationship.

This story isn’t perfect, but it’s flaws seem to all stem from the reality of it’s situation. Being cancelled by Marvel caused it’s ending to, well, not be an ending. It ends on a note that says boldly “here is where the story really begins,” and yet, it is likely the end forever. Sam Humphries now being on a DC exclusive contract means he won’t be able to write the title, should it return. There are only a few writers at Marvel I can realistically picture picking up this story, if the trades did so well that Marvel had to continue it. I’m just not sure it would end up in the right hands. Its story has a central conflict that really did feel like, maybe they could have talked this out. Morgan is so compelling that I wanted her to succeed despite liking our heroes a lot. Since we will likely not see their stories continue further I would have loved if it just ended with negotiation and an implied move to everyone being happy.

Even with that sliver of flaw, this is a book that proves the mastery of the craft held by its creative team. I don’t know if Sam had diversity consultants attached, but if he didn’t this is even more impressive, because the book really does do such a fantastic job. Weirdworld should be a classic, and I hope after reading this you’ll consider checking out the trade of this comic.

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Alexis Sergio
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4 Comments

  • Ginnis Tonik
    November 29, 2016, 1:59 pm

    Sergio, I read Vol. 1 over the break, based on reading this, and it was so damn good, and it being cancelled is such a bummer. Thanks for the recs DMaster, after reading Weirdworld, I have definitely been thinking “must read more by Sam Humphries!!!”

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  • DMaster
    November 17, 2016, 2:04 pm

    One other thing that can be said about Mr. Humphries: he basically predicted the outcome of last week with his satirical book Citizen Jack. It’s even more depressing in hindsight, especially when there isn’t even a Marlinspike to blame things on.

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  • Sergio Alexis
    November 17, 2016, 1:24 pm

    I’m a massive fan of Jonesy (maybe my number 1 comic this year), I want to write a piece about it too once I find a nice approach to writing a piece about it. It’s actually what inspired me to go back and read Weird World.

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  • DMaster
    November 16, 2016, 10:20 pm

    Dear gods how much I loved this comic. I didn’t even embrace the queerness to that level (though some things, like Goleta’s love, I did notice and appreciate), and I was just as much into it as you.

    Weirdworld’s cancellation is baffling when you consider the push it got in Secret Wars with a Warzones! mini (also illustrated by Del Mundo, fyi), and the appearance it got in two other opening arcs, Black Knight and Squadron Supreme. Granted, the former got cancelled after only FIVE issues (justifiably; it went way down in writing quality after the first issue), but it even came out BEFORE Weirdworld, and was sent entirely there. Marvel clearly invested in it a little bit…yet didn’t stick up for it to any degree. Most puzzling.

    Sam Humphries is a really good writer; flaws in his Star-Lord run I attribute more to double-duty crossover with Bendis during the Black Vortex. If you want more from him – and another Latina lead! – read his collaboration with Caitlin Rose Boyle for the Boom! Box, Jonesy. Not as richly textured in its emotion or artwork as Weirdworld, but it’s immensely fun and engaging. Also, for mainstream appeal and further diversity, he writes Green Lanterns, starring Latina Jessica Cruz along with Lebanese man Simon Baz. He’s done a good job so far (rushed wrap-up of #6 aside…) and I highly recommend it.

    Bottom line everyone: Follow Jonesy and Green Lanterns, and pick up both of these recent Weirdworld runs in trade (and Humphries’s original Sacrifice, while you’re at it). As for the original Weirdworld stuff by Doug Moench…meh.

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