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85. Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Dexter Soy - At the back of this book, there is a biography of Carol Danvers which hits upon most of her major plot points and holy fuck she is the punching bag of the Marvel Universe. For a genre where women are routinely killed off and objectifies (and there are some cheesy depictions of Danvers ass-first in the first chapter but less Playboy model after that), Carol is seriously the target for a wealth of horrible plot lines where she is fired, beat up, mind raped, discovers that her former teammates would prefer to hang out with the woman who sucked out her personality, goes through an alcoholic phase and throws Tony Stark out a window and her boyfriends keep ending up dead.

This very much feels like a transitional story between the comics of today which are (hopefully for good) diverse and entertaining and the comics of a few years ago which were about gritty realism and male gaze and doom. It's a fairly straightforward story about time travel where Carol takes a plane ride that her mother figure Helen Cobb gives her and ends up seeing Helen in various times and eventually figuring out that she wants the job even if it means having doubts about her ability to do it on her own (the irony is that the big story shows that she is a crazy drunk) and she's feeling pretty good about her life and her place in it because she reconnected with her surrogate family (and as the Job story at the end shows, her biological family is awful).

86. Astro City: Private Lives by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson - Kurt Busiek's superheroes with private lives and taking novel approaches to their lives was a revelation when I first read it. And now there are a lot more comics with superheroes who are multidimensional and have stories that are realistic in a variety of ways, even John Cheever and Raymond Carver approaches. Thankfully he got even better. Some of these stories are cute slice of life stories like the one about the personal assistant to the big wizard character and others are confusing or rather dull (the criminal who really wants to go straight but loves shiny shoes), but the last story made me cry. It had all the elements to do it - a miserable kid who was a super genius super villain, a set up that involves a birthday party for the super villain/evil genius and then a revelation where the evil genius realizes that he has a core of emotional vulnerability that he finally lets himself feel. There's also the element of the fact that as the town super villain, he does not know how to deal with the fact that the superhero likes him and is always trying to change him. He thinks that he can just reject it, but when he finds out that the superhero is the guy that he always resented as the head football player, it wrecks him. Also the superhero is the only one who knows that he is gender confused and at the end he has accepted his feminine identity and decided to be the superhero as a woman. I guess that the trans-identity part was wonderful as well but it wasn't what I was mainly focused on, except for the self-acceptance aspect.

The story of the old woman who repairs sentient robots and considers them her family is also sweet.

87.Superman vol 2: Trials of the Super Son by Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason - One of the saddest parts of Marvel: The Untold Story was the decision to end Spiderman's marriage because the writers wanted to write superhero comics and Peter Parker was just getting too damn old even in comic book time. They couldn't write about a happily married Peter Parker with a wife and (shudder) kids. So one of the novelties of this version of Superman is the fact that he has a son and he's living out in Smallville with Lois Lane. I am not certain if this is the canon version of Superman or an alternate universe version (it's in the DC Universe Rebirth title) but I am happy to see stories where Superman is going to the local carnival with his family and taking little breaks to foil crime, but mostly he's trying to juggle his family and work. The other stories are also great, but just the whole conceit of Superman trying to live a normal family life feels great, like finally superhero comics are marketed towards people who are past their teen years and their young years - people with spouses and children. We don't have to get Mephisto to make it so that Peter Parker was never married.

88. Spider Gwen: Weapon of Choice by Jason Latour & Robby Rodriguez - Spider Gwen is so great but this one is not one of the better stories. She is being stalked by Frank Castle and we have more of the tensions with the police department, which is especially powerful as Captain Stacy knows about her now. In the end her father turns himself in for something, I'm not sure what, and she makes a deal with Kingpin via Matt Murdock whose evil in this alternate dimension. It's all very silly and I kind of hate it when smart characters make stupid decisions. Still, there is a great one off about the Mary Janes going into Myterio's haunted house. And Jessica Drew shows up a couple times. Also she no longer has powers but can get them through a power pill thing or whatever. Anyhow, she's out of power and Kraven has one of her spider power vials.
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Tim Lieder

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