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Avengers: Ultron Revolution S03 E25: ‘Civil War, Part Three: The Drums of War’


The animated Civil War continues on Avengers: Ultron Revolution. With the original Avengers and Songbird in prison, the Black Widow on the run, and Captain America blasted – who will save us all when the Inhumans, mind-controlled by evil forces, attack? Meet me after the jump for the answer and my thoughts on “Civil War, Part 3: The Drums of War.”

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Avengers: Ultron Revolution S03 E24: ‘Civil War, Part Two: The Mighty Avengers’


Civil War continues in the Marvel Animated Universe as the Avengers disband from conflict in the shadow of the Inhuman Registration Act. From the ashes of the old, a new team is formed, the Mighty Avengers. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Civil War, Part 2: The Mighty Avengers.”

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“The Kids Are Alright” on Avengers: Ultron Revolution


The Inhumans are still among us on Avengers: Ultron Revolution as we meet more new Inhumans in the persons of the new Ms. Marvel and the Ghost, along with Inferno, in this plot to steal Tony Stark’s AI Friday. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on season three’s eleventh episode, “The Kids Are Alright.”

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The Avengers and Black Bolt battle Ultron in “The Inhuman Condition”


When last we left the Avengers, after a skirmish with the Inhumans, the two teams made friends, and witnessed the birth of a new Inhuman, Inferno. But behind the scenes, one of the Inhumans, Seeker, reported to Ultron, not good news. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Inhuman Condition.”

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Ensley F. Guffey Reacts to Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

 Cover for Steve Rogers: Captain America #1. Art by Jesus Saiz.

Cover for Steve Rogers: Captain America #1. Art by Jesus Saiz.

I don’t usually write about superhero comics, or add my two cents to the internet outrages, controversies, and speculations that the comic book industry produces like Campbell’s makes soup, but I think this might be a good time to make an exception. Biff Bam Pop! readers may know that I’m something of a Captain America fan from my two-part look at Cap and historical memory, which you can read here and here. What you may not know is that these days, the only comics I collect are Our Army at War/Sgt. Rock, and Captain America. Those are the only two titles that will never be sold and replaced with trades, or donated to a library book sale, or whatever, that I bag and board using archival materials, and that I occasionally take Smaug-like glee over just possessing. I also occasionally like to take a pile of them out of their bags and curl up and binge-read them, reveling in the smell of old comics, looking at the ads, old-school lettercols, back matter, backup stories, etc. – you know, enjoy them as comic books.

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Avengers Assemble S02 E07: The Age of Tony Stark


“Teen Tony.” Those two words will make even the most dedicated classic Avengers fan flinch just a little. They represent one of the things that occurred in one of the most hated crossover events in Avengers comics history – The Crossing. This week on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” we are confronted with a teen Tony, and other wild effects of the Time Stone, let’s hope the others aren’t also reminiscent of storyline. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Age of Tony Stark.”

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pregame: SHIELD’s Dark Secret


Okay, heads up and spoiler warnings ahoy, if you haven’t seen Captain America The Winter Soldier, you should wait to read this article, because this is your Captain America post-game and your “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” pre-game. To put it mildly, the movie changes everything, and I am sooo not kidding. Meet me after the jump and we’ll talk about SHIELD’s dark secret…

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Tales from the Long Box Vol. 3 # 5: JP Revisits Ms. Marvel # 2

Every week this summer, we’ll be bringing you a new installment of a 12-part series of reviews of meaningful comics found in the collections of our writers. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.

These reviews, then, are the tales of those collections: illuminating characters, artists, writers – even eras – in addition to the personalities of the very owners of those fine collections.


Ms. Marvel # 2
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Joe Sinnott
Marvel Comics

Ah yes. The old comic book conundrum: heroines in comic books and comic books as a male-dominated industry.

These two ideas are not necessarily conducive to a respectful, forward-thinking relationship, are they? But that isn’t to say that writers, artists and editors haven’t tried to marry these two truths in a considered and reverent way over the years.

With varying degrees of success, of course.

Even psychologist William Moulton Marston’s 1941 creation, Wonder Woman – the most famous heroine in comic books – has a duality about her that allows one major character aspect to betray the other. In Wonder Woman we have female empowerment and sexual equality played against the more subtle, more subjective, passive woman – subservient to man in a male-dominated society. The character of Ms. Marvel, one of the staple heroines in the Marvel Comics Universe, is another interesting example of the role female characters play in comic books.

Created in 1968 by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gene Colon, Ms. Marvel, in the guise of her real-life self, Carol Danvers, (a non-powered member of the U.S. Air Force), first appeared in the pages of the Marvel Super-Heroes title. She didn’t become the super-powered Ms. Marvel for another ten years when, in 1977, she got her own monthly, self-titled series.

In Ms. Marvel #2, Carol Danvers has left the military for a new occupation – the editor of “Woman” magazine. Far be it for me to editorialize this shift in characterization (a military woman to a woman running a feminist magazine), but not lost on this reader is the fact that the periodical is published by J. Jonah Jameson, the male chauvinist of the Marvel Universe (and Peter Parker’s demanding and unruly boss at The Daily Bugle).

Ten years on from her first appearance, a life-altering job change and the advent of super powers can’t change the male-centric background in which Ms. Marvel operates. A sign of the times? Perhaps. Naïve or lazy writing? Not here. Gerry Conway is an acclaimed writer in the comic book world. He had an much-admired tenure scripting The Amazing Spider-Man series, including writing the famous death of Gwen Stacy issue. He co-created characters like The Punisher and Jason Todd – who would become the second Robin – as well as writing Justice League of America for the better part of a decade. Handing Carol Danvers the job of top editor of a woman’s magazine was an attempt to empower her as a woman – just as the super powers she was given empowered her as a legitimate female comic book character in the Marvel Universe – someone who could stand on her own, against a variety of villains and heroes, both male and female. In issue #2 of her self-titled series, Ms. Marvel is able to dispatch Spider-Man foe, the Scorpion, as well as hold her own against a rampaging super villain called Destructor.

Something went wrong for Ms. Marvel in the following years, however. That sense of empowerment, real or imagined, eroded away, leaving many readers with a bitter taste in their mouths and a hollowed sense of worth in their soul.

In the early 1980’s, in the pages of The Avengers, (a flagship title of Marvel Comics) a superhero team with whom Ms. Marvel had affiliated herself with, Carol Danvers found herself abducted by the offspring of one of her enemies and brought to another dimension in order to be brainwashed, seduced and impregnated. Many readers, comic book writers and feminist theory scholars considered this sequence of events an act of rape. Even more alarming was the apparent sense of apathy from Ms. Marvel’s Avenger teammates. Famed writer Chris Claremont, outspoken critic of this degeneration of character and inappropriate story, later undid the sequence of events.

The costume itself was always a bone of contention for those that demanded more self-liberation exemplified from the female character. Ms. Marvel’s knee high boots, boy-briefs, bare back and bare mid-rife, accented with a flowing red scarf around her neck, I suppose, didn’t encapsulate the sense of “self liberation” some writers and readers wanted out of the character. As sexy as it was, the costume itself was derivative of Captain Marvel’s spandex persona – another nod to Ms. Marvel’s unconscious compliance in a male dominated comic book world.

In recent years, the costume has changed – becoming more original in its design and the character has been given a more permanent, leading role in the Marvel Universe. Ms. Marvel was front and centre in the acclaimed Civil War series. She became a proponent of that story’s politically motivated “Mutant Registration Act” and went toe-to-toe against the likes of patriot, Captain America. She also had a prominent role in Marvel’s top-selling Secret Invasion series as well and has had dealings with all of the biggest characters in the Marvel Universe, holding her own against the likes of Iron Man and Nick Fury. At different times, she has even led the superhero team of The Avengers as well, all true and worthy characteristics of empowerment – not just for females but for all humans.

It’s taken a long time for Ms. Marvel to become a well rounded character, deeply involved in the universe in which she operates and aware of her place and role within in. Finally, it seems, she is worthy of her top billing status in the comic book world and the embodiment of something akin to a liberation.

Still, readers will always hearken back to her early years. Even with the costume change, her flowing red scarf has remained. We are a sum of the events that make up our history are we not? Besides, I always thought the scarf was a cool visual motif. And a little sexiness is just fine in my comic books.

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