Or – “A Rarity In Comics: A Surprise!”

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For the last couple of years, we had been hearing rumors off and on that Marvel editorial was working on a superhero version of ‘Sex and The City.’  I figured that it would be another example of a series that would pop up, run the course of it’s in-jokes, and roll off the end of the pier never to be seen again.  When issue #1 came out, I was surprised that not only was it more than the sum of it’s influences, it was a very enjoyable experience.  Now, we get to see if Issue 2 can clear the bar set by Issue 1…

MD1.jpgPreviously, on Marvel Divas:  Given all the opportunities for superheroic crossovers, what with all the secret wars, infinity crusades, heroes reborning, reigns that are dark, and blah blah blah fishcakes, it’s natural that superhuman characters would strike up friendships that arent’ based on team membership or similar powers.  In all of these massive team-ups, four superheroines (Patsy Walker, the Hellcat of the Avengers and Defenders; Angelica Jones, Firestar of the New Warriors and Avengers; Monica Rambeau, Captain Marvel of the Avengers; Felicia Hardy, The Black Cat, former Spider-Man villainess and main squeeze) have formed an unlikely bond.  Ditching a celebrity party when the famous super-heroines arrive, the foursome share stories of the men in their lives, the trials and tribulations of being super-powered, young, and pretty in America.  Felicia wants to start her own business, but her overbearing boyfriend Thomas Fireheart won’t let her do it her own way.  Monica is having problems staying away from Doctor Voodoo, and Patsy keeps finding herself haunted by her ex-husband, who is also known as the Son of Satan (and it’s not just a clever name.)  Their problems are small potatoes, though,when Angelica arrives to tell them she’s been diagnosed with cancer…

Having made peace with (or, indeed, decided to ignore) the horrible name of the series, we leap into our story not long after the events of last issue, as our four gal pals have gathered to take Angelica to see a specialist about her disease.  In this case, though, the specialist is Patsy’s old Defenders comrade, Doctor Strange.  While waiting for their appointment, Patsy finds herself compelled to write the story of their interaction and Felicia’s cancer.  Monica asks if that’s not a little bit tasteless (to which Felicia makes a joke about “this photographer I once dated” and how everything is fair game) but Pasty replies that she intends to write about something more REAL than her usual fare.  While Firestar gets a consult and a mystical MRI from the Doc and the Night Nurse, Monica explains the latest complications in her relationship with Doctor Voodoo, who has progressed from sending mash-notes to sending zombies with flowers and ruining her carpet.  Voodoo recently convinced Monica to have “a team-up,” ostensibly for help with a case, but the former Captain Marvel ends up doing considerably more than just fighting crime with him.  As Monica’s story ends, Angelica comes out with news: she has breast cancer, but it hasn’t spread yet.  Unfortunately, the doctor can’t help her with magic, and refers her to Henry Pym…

Angelica reminds us all of what Rodrigo remembered last issue, that she visited Henry about her Firestar powers when she was an Avenger, and he gave her a biocircuitry suit to drain her own microwaves, since she apparently was not immune to her own powers like most mutants.   But after that interaction, Angelica never followed up about it, and blames herself for her diagnosis and health problems.  Leaving her friends to go to a meeting with her loan officer,  The Black Cat finds out that it’s hard to borrow money from a bank you once personally robbed.  Boyfriend Thomas “Fireheart” Puma against offers to laon her money, but the independent Felicia decides that she needs to get the money for her startup company in her OWN way, and heads for an exhibit of Egyptian gold trinkets at the museum.  Ominous…   Patsy decides to cheer Angelica up with some shopping, but she’s surprise to once again find Daimon “Son of Satan” Hellstrom suddenly showing up again.  Her ex-husband has brought her a bargain, the kind of deal that his dad is known for:  HE can cure Firestar’s cancer, and all it will cost is Patsy’s soul.   She tells him no, but the issue ends with Angelica breaking down, crying that she doesn’t want a mastectomy, that she doesn’t want to be sick, to have to put her body through all the awfulness that she fears is to come.  Patsy remembers Daimon’s offer, and starts to wonder if it’s not worth [personally losing something to save her friend from what may be to come…

Last issue captured the best of the ‘Sex and The City’ ouvre, giving us four sassy, fun, independent female characters who are friends, regardless of their differences, and this issue keep that up.  At the same time, though, it also brings in some of the less-fun elements and the melodrama that occasionally bogged down Carrie Bradshaw’s story.  Felicia and Patsy both find themselves contemplating a return to bad ideas of the past, and for the second time in recent years, we’re given the implication that, even though Stephen Strange might be ABLE to cure cancer, he is somehow ethically barred from so doing by the laws of magic, even more complicated than the legendary “Law of the West.”  Even though it’s not as light and funny as last time, this issue is quite good overall, even with the depressing subject matter.  Tonci Zonjic’s art is wonderful, though, managing to keep the four characters distinct and separate in facial structure, body, and even height, and has wonderfully expressive faces throughout the issue.  Marvel Divas #2 earns a still-mighty-impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars, advancing the plot, adding complications, but keeping the central conceit intact.  When you boil it all down, this is a story about four women who share only a weird job and enjoy each other’s company, and that simple hook is what makes the book readable and fun, and manages to capture some of the magic of it’s influences, while adding it’s own unique touches.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. Brother129
    August 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm — Reply

    Great review. Now I’m annoyed that my comics guy didn’t save me a copy in that cool variant cover you posted. Who is the artist?

  2. August 26, 2009 at 8:33 pm — Reply

    The way-cool variant is by Patrick Zircher, I think…

    Update: I also just realized that it’s the variant cover for #1 and not #2, which makes me a dork.

  3. Brian
    August 27, 2009 at 10:07 am — Reply

    Wow … i’m actually surprised. This is the first person i’ve seen who enjoys Marvel Divas. Everywhere else i go people most commonly use the word “abortion” to describe it. I don’t read it but the word of mouth is more than enough to keep me away.

    That said … i’m glad someone likes it.

    • August 27, 2009 at 11:08 am — Reply

      Wow … i’m actually surprised. This is the first person i’ve seen who enjoys Marvel Divas.

      A quick google search for the first issue reveals 7 reviews, 2 of which hated it, and several others (including my own review of issue #1) that were pleasantly surprised. I’d be interested to know if the people who describe it have actually read the thing. :)

      • Brian
        August 28, 2009 at 8:23 am — Reply

        I’m just saying … in the circles I travel, i haven’t heard any praise. … at all.

        • August 29, 2009 at 11:52 pm — Reply

          ’m just saying … in the circles I travel, i haven’t heard any praise. … at all.

          This is why I choose to travel in ovals. :)

    • August 27, 2009 at 5:16 pm — Reply

      Actually, we reviewed both issues on our website, and of the three of us (2 guys, one gal), two of us loved it. Oddly, the two proponents were the guys. Go figure. It’s a well done book…

  4. August 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm — Reply

    It was another good issue. It is nice to see that Marvel can put something out like this. I enjoyed the fact that they had Night Nurse and Strange still together, as I like their partnership in the Dr. Strange: The Oath series.

    Would this series have worked with higher profile females, tha Glamazons as they here named in the first? I don’t think so. As it is, I wonder which of Angelica’s friends will try their solution to cure her first?

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