Marvel’s Voices: Identity is out this week featuring eight stories, an interview, and more spotlighting Asian superheroes and creators. The Marvel’s Voices one-shot series is now in its second year, with the Marvel’s Voices Pride released in June and the planned Community issue set for October. This is an advance spoiler-free review, so we won’t give away anything that’s not in the preview.
It’s not a spoiler to say this book opens with a great introduction by Rina Ayuyang. She talks about her relationship with superheroes and Marvel Comics growing up, and her experience as a Filipino growing up in America. Representation matters, and Ayuyang details how finding out Filipino creators were a huge part of Marvel’s legacy in the ’70s and ’80s impacted her desire to make comics and as a fan.
This book opens with “What Is vs. What If” by Gene Luen Yang and Marcos To. This is a great starter to the collection, especially if you’ve been reading Yang’s Shang-Chi series. The story ties into his current quest to make right what his father did now that he’s the leader of the very same organization. Yang weaves in a magical element that leads directly to a conflict Shang-Chi must overcome. To does some incredible things with blur and motion to make the fight come alive.
Next is “That One Thing” By Christina Strain and Jason Loo. It’s not depicted in the preview, but it features Jubilee and is a touching story about her identity to her culture and upbringing. It also does a great job showing Jubilee’s personality over years and feels true to her. There’s one particular montage that Loo totally nails. Check out X-Men Monday for more on this book as Strain is our featured guest in the column.
Following that story is “Jimmy Woo 1959” by Greg Pak & Crees Lee with Brian Reber on colors. This story has a good pulp vibe and shows how the ordinary-looking Jimmy Woo goes on some incredible adventures.
Ms. Marvel is featured in “Seeing Red” by Sabir Pirzada and Mashal Ahmed with colors by Neeraj Menon. Pakistan, the story’s location, heavily ties into Ms. Marvel’s relationship with the country as a Pakistani-American. The story goes to some hard places, and it should be commended for it as it reveals a difficult position Ms. Marvel is in when it comes to her family’s origins.
“Personal Heroes” is up next by Alyssa Wong and Whilce Portacio, with Jay Davis Ramos on colors. This story features the relatively new hero Wave and a surprise hero team-up. It’s short, sweet, and will put a smile on your face.
Not listed in the credits is a fabulous interview with Larry Hama that runs two pages long. Conducted by Angélique Roché, it’s incredibly insightful as far as his approach as an artist, what the Marvel offices were like in the early days, and a lot more. It’s a must-read if you’ve ever enjoyed a Larry Hama comic book and adds a ton of value to this overall package.
“Singular/Plural” by Jeremy Holt and Alti Firmansyah with Irma Kniivila is the following story not depicted in the main preview, though there was a panel reveal. This story uses Silhouette in a very human way. Holt is an incredible storyteller getting at the root of the character’s doubts and frustrations.
Ken Niimura’s “Traditional Pink Sushi” is also not depicted in the preview, but if you are familiar with Niimura’s art you’ll know it’s super bright, fun, and cartoony. It’s set in Krakoa and features the Silver Samurai. Get a taste of the story with the panel reveal in this preview.
The last story is by Maurene Goo and Lynne Yoshii with Sebastian Cheng on colors called “New York State of Mind.” Featuring Silk and Brawn, it has the heroes teaming up against a surprising foe. Goo confronts very real frustrations Brawn and Silk faced being Korean and growing up in America. Of all the stories, this one leans the most heavily on the ugly racism Asian Americans have faced for decades and still face today. It’s done in a way that is positive as Brawn and Silk are letting out their frustrations while fighting.
Closing out the extra-sized issue is a touching reflection from the creators and Marvel staff about what Identity means to them. This ending, paired with the introduction and interview with Larry Hama, elevates the read beyond an average anthology.
This is a good anthology that highlights some incredible characters many casual fans may not know about, but should. More impressive is how this collection gives lesser-known creators a chance to shine and show off their abilities as storytellers. Not every story is a home run, but paired with the supplemental materials and some great stories touching on difficult topics, Marvel’s Voices: Identity is a very strong addition to the series.
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