REVIEW: Women of Marvel #1 is a Joyful Celebration of Badass Ladies

Women of Marvel #1 Cover by Sara Pichelli. Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

In Women of Marvel #1, some of the greatest female characters of the Marvel Universe find themselves battling foes or dealing with everyday nuisances. Whatever they encounter, these ladies know how to come out on top!

Women of Marvel #1

Natasha Alterici (Writer), June Brigman (Artist), Sophie Campbell (Writer), Eleonora Carlini (Artist), Zoraida Córdova (Writer), Marika Cresta (Artist), Joanna Estep (Artist), Tríona Farrell (Colours), Naomi Franquiz (Artist), Maria Fröhlich (Artist), Irma Kniivila (Colours), VC’s Ariana Maher (Letters), Peach Momoko (Artist), Skylar Partridge (Artist), Brittany Peer (Colours), Ruth Redmond (Colours), Roy Richardson (Artist), Rachel Rosenberg (Colours), Nadia Shammas (Writer), Elsa Sjunneson (Writer), Rachel Stott (Artist), Mariko Tamaki (Writer), Anne Toole (Writer), Nina Vakueva (Artist), Kei Zama (Artist)
Marvel Comics
April 21, 2021

Women of Marvel #1 Cover by Sara Pichelli. Natasha Alterici (Writer), Sophie Campbell (Writer), Eleonora Carlini (Artist), Joanna Estep (Artist), Naomi Franquiz (Artist), Maria Fröhlich (Artist), Nadia Shammas (Writer), Elsa Sjunneson (Writer), Anne Toole (Writer), Kei Zama (Artist) Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

I was excited to read Women of Marvel #1, and it did not disappoint. From the introduction by Louise Simonson, where she explained why it has taken so long for women in comics to gain a foothold and recognition in the industry, I knew I would love this book.

Maybe it’s the times we live in (and the raging pandemic that won’t end) but I quite liked the fact that this book didn’t deal with ‘real issues.’ There was no sexism or misogyny or threats of sexual assault. This book is about superheroes just being themselves—whether that means beating up bad guys, choosing their own path, or getting a good night’s rest. It’s an unusual take but I enjoyed that aspect of the book a great deal.

Women of Marvel features a cornucopia of amazing women authors, artists, colourists, and letterers. The diversity behind the scenes surprised and thrilled me, which is sad to say, but the Big Two haven’t always been so representative, on or off the page. I was particularly excited to see Mariko Tamaki and Peach Momoko teaming up again for this book. I adored their Demon Days #1 and they bring a similar level of world-building and aesthetic to this book. Tamaki has written a number of short stories for this issue, each imbued with plenty of humour.

Tamaki’s ‘Mani’ is a hilarious start to Women of Marvel #1. Lady Deathstrike, of all people, lands up at a manicurist under some bizarre delusion that she can get weapons there. Instead, she leaves with the most amazing, bedazzled claws. I love it! This story is so subtle but brilliantly captures that all-too-human experience of not getting what you asked for. And that stunned look on Lady Deathstrike’s face when she realises that she now has to look for her car keys with her new claws. I’m laughing as I write this, thanks to the fantastic artwork by Momoko. What sells this story is the complete nonchalance of the manicurist. If you live in the Marvel Universe, heroes and villains stopping by for their everyday needs must be a regular occurrence. Life goes on even when there are super-fights. It’s just another layer that writer Mariko Tamaki adds to this one-page story that makes it so enjoyable.

‘Operation Spyglass’ is a Captain America story, but with Peggy Carter as Cap. I have heard about this version of Cap, but this is my first time reading a Peggy-as-Cap story. When a spy for the Special Operations Executive, Liliane, is in danger, Captain Carter is sent in to rescue her. Peggy finds Liliane, but she’s far from helpless. The two team up to take down some Nazis and find the true meaning of what it means to fight the good fight.

Women of Marvel #1 Page 10. Naomi Franquiz (Artist), Brittany Peer (Colours), Elsa Sjunneson (Writer), Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

I read this story for Peggy, but I got so much more. I adore Liliane. Brave and determined, Liliane knows her mind and where she needs to be to make a difference. Also, a woman of colour with a disability in a Marvel comic? Can we get a Liliane spin-off, please? This story is also a testament to how much of a difference diversity behind the scenes makes to the stories we read. Writer Elsa Sjunneson, who is Deafblind and a disability consultant, writes Liliane as a hero on par with Captain Carter, sans shield or uniform. This is what representation is about.

In ‘She’s Got the Look’, Emma Frost deals with one of the most annoying problems—looking for something to wear when everything you own is in the laundry. But this is Emma Frost, telepath extraordinaire. Laundry’s not going to deter her from looking good. What a fun little one-page interlude from Mariko Tamaki! And the art by Nina Vakueva does Emma, her style, and Krakoa justice. I haven’t read many stories with Emma Frost because she used to be overly sexualised. But with an all-women creative team, Emma gets to be fun.

‘Cretaceous Flirtatious’ brings together three of my favourite things: dinosaurs, Mystique, and Rogue. Mystique is auditioning a possible new entrant into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But she needs to distract a group of excitable students looking at dinosaur bones first. Unfortunately, one of those students is none other than Rogue, Mystique’s adopted daughter. Of course, hijinks ensue with Mystique being her most mutant, evil, and motherly self, and Rogue wishing she could disappear into the earth. In just a few pages, we get to see the dynamic between these two characters, and it is so much fun. I love humorous Mystique and this story gives me plenty of that.

Women of Marvel #1 Page 14. Natasha Alterici (Writer), Joanna Estep (Artist), Irma Kniivila (Colours) Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

It has been ages since I read anything to do with the Inhumans, so I loved catching up with the Inhuman Queen herself, Medusa, in ‘Good Hair’. I always wondered how Medusa handled that much hair. As someone who had knee-length hair until my 20s, all I can think of is the pain of sitting on it accidentally. I couldn’t wait to cut it off!

No such luck for Medusa in Women of Marvel. When she tries to get a trim, her hair actively fights the hairdresser, leaving Medusa to take drastic actions so she can finally get some work done. I understand her decision but she’s going to get one hell of a headache with her hair-taming method! The art by Rachel Stott is so effective in this one-page story, and the final panel is a delightful sight-gag that made me guffaw. You have to see it!

Misty Knight finds herself rescuing a young girl in ‘Saturday Morning in Harlem’. Not only does Misty use her skills as a former detective to identify and track down the girl, but she gets to punch some robots. And makes the police look bad in the process. We like our heroes with a side of social justice! Without giving too much away, the story ends with a cameo from an awesome super-team. I love how Japanese artist Kei Zama brings her love for robots to Women of Marvel. Her style is perfect for this story. Also, shoutout to the creative team of Anne Toole and Zama for including an Indian-origin girl in the story. There’s not enough Indian rep in comics so I’ll take whatever I can get. This story really does have it all.

It’s She-Hulk versus Rhino in ‘Wild Rhino Chase’, fittingly set in the Museum of Natural History. I love how calm She-Hulk is about fighting Rhino. He’s all bluster and bravado and for She-Hulk, this fight is just a detour during her trip to the museum. There’s this absolutely hilarious moment when a young visitor gets tossed over a balcony by Rhino and saved by She-Hulk. While her friend is concerned for her well-being, the young woman is geeking out because she was saved by ‘those arms’. We feel you, Radwa. We’d all love to have She-Hulk’s arms around us.

Women of Marvel #1 Page 27. Nadia Shammas (Writer), Skylar Partridge (Artist), Tríona Farrell (Colours). Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

The art in this story is fabulous. Skylar Partridge’s work is one of the art styles that I enjoy. It’s got a kind of old-school comic style but has vivid colours by Tríona Farrell. The combination is perfect for this quirky and fun story. And it does justice to those arms, I can tell you that.

Jean Grey may be one of the greatest telepaths and heroes of the Marvel universe, but she doesn’t have a green thumb in ‘Water When Needs Watering’. After several tries at beautifying her quarters with a plant, Jean decides to get a little creative with her decorations. This story made me laugh and felt so true to life. I have vivid memories of killing the one and only plant I ever had, a cactus, one of the easiest plants to nurture at home. I totally understand Jean’s frustration. And she’s given me a great idea for decorating my place.

Marrow gets a new roomie in ‘Give a Cat a Bone’ and immediately takes a dislike to her. In Marrow’s defense, her new roomie, although sweet, is a bit too familiar. They’re soon at loggerheads until Marrow learns of their shared history. Then it’s time to stand up for one of her own.

Women of Marvel #1 Page 3. Sophie Campbell (Writer), Eleonora Carlini (Artist), Tríona Farrell (Colours). Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

I haven’t encountered Marrow before, but she is very intriguing to me. I’m fascinated by her powers and her dynamic with people, especially after reading this story. I love how this anthology comic is giving me insights into characters I may not have otherwise encountered in my sporadic forays into the Marvel Universe. I thank writer Sophie Campbell for giving me a new superhero to read.

In ‘The Goddess of Death Sleeps Tonight’, Hela struggles to get a good night’s sleep—we’ve all been there. Some late-night internet searching gives her an idea. Okay, so Hel has internet? That is such a fun little detail. Hela also has an amazing mug that I need right now. Marvel, are you selling these mugs? Also, I’m quickly realising that I love funny villains. Hela is the Goddess of Death but she’s sarcastic, funny, and adorable, all in a one-page story. This is genius!

Women of Marvel #1 ends with ‘Date Night’, which is not what you think it is. Hundreds of children are missing and to find them, Gamora must go undercover on The Bachelor: Space Edition? I don’t know; I’ve never actually watched The Bachelor but this ‘show’ in ‘Date Night’ looks like it. Gamora gets to be wily, witty, and she throws a lot of punches in this story, so obviously, I love it.

Women of Marvel #1 Page 3. Zoraida Córdova (Writer), Maria Fröhlich (Artist), Rachel Rosenberg (Colours). Marvel Comics April 21, 2021

The art in this story by Maria Fröhlich is my favourite. It is gorgeous and there is so much detail. From the interiors of the bachelor’s ship to the facial expressions, I love the style and execution. It fit the intergalactic setting of the story brilliantly.

The last few pages of Women of Marvel #1 include a roster of women behind the scenes who make Marvel Comics the success that it is. I love that they share their favourite female heroes on the page and off. It’s a lovely way to learn more about the real-life women of Marvel.

I also love Angelique Roché’s list of the best Marvel Comics covers featuring women of colour. What a great section to include! The book itself didn’t have many of the WOC heroes I was expecting. It would have been nice to see more of them since there’s so much diversity in the creative teams. It is exciting to read a book with so many creatives representing a variety of communities. We have racial diversity with Zoraida Córdova, Momoko, Nadia Shammas, Tamaki, and Zama. We get queer rep with Campbell, a trans author, and much-needed representation from the disability community with Sjunneson. We need more creative teams that look like this.

I would have loved more diversity on the page, and that is always going to be my default reaction. The slate of white characters still vastly outweighs the characters of colour. That being said, the stories, the art, and the humour of Women of Marvel #1 felt incredibly satisfying. I enjoyed every single page as I was reading it and that’s saying something for 50 pages of a Big Two comic book. I hope we get a follow-up featuring more amazing Marvel women because I can’t wait to read more.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir