Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 returns after a stellar issue last year and the recent trade paperback release. Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, this anthology issue features stories focused on Ms. Marvel, Wong, Shang-Chi, and Mantis. Customary of this line of one-shot stories, there’s also an interview conducted by Angélique Roché and additional extras. It’s not only a celebration, but important work to shine a light on representation and its AAPI creators.
All told, this anthology features four stories which may be fewer in comparison to other Marvel’s Voices one-shots, but each one is impactful. This issue opens with a great intro by Isabel Hsu who is a Taiwanese American and the Senior Manager of Creative Development of Video Games at Marvel. These introductions always help show how important representation is by sharing insights and personal reflections from the writer. In this case, Hsu details how video games were her gateway into Marvel thanks to Marvel vs. Capcom. I’m sure many more found Marvel the same way.
The first story is by Pornsak Pichetshote and Creees Lee with colors by Bryan Valenza. This tale features Shang-Chi fighting secret agent Jimmy Woo in a kind of Squid Game rich person nightmare. Pichetshote explores the identity of both of these characters and how Jimmy being Chinese American and Shang-Chi being Chinese can create misconceptions. It’s an interesting point made, as well as a thoughtful one. The art is strong with good fight comics action and rather dramatic moments pulled off well visually.
Following this is “Fool Me Twice” by Sabir Pirzada and Eric Koda with Brian Reber on colors. This tale features Ms. Marvel trusting someone she probably shouldn’t. It plays into how her kindness, while valiant and true, can get others and herself hurt. Koda plays with layout well here in 9-panel grids, and a compelling page with panels overlaid around Ms. Marvel who listens to some keen wisdom.
Angélique Roché interviews letterer Janice Chiang next and it’s yet another insightful and meaningful interview for this line of comics. Chiang details what it was like working in comics in the ’60s and ’70s, how she broke in, and how that all changed when lettering went digital. It’s a great interview for comics historians and fans even marginally interested in the craft.
Jeremy Holt and Kei Zama focus on Mantis next with colors by Irma Kniivila. This story gets quite personal for Mantis, who must revisit those she used to be close with. Holt is quite good at capturing the heart of the character and, honestly, she feels enriched by this tale. Mantis has always been a character that seemed supporting at best, but this tale is strong enough to show she can hold her own series. Zama draws the tale well with good use of light for emotional resonance and some cool-looking root creatures.
Wrapping up the book is Emily Kim and Rickie Yagawa’s “While you Were Out” with colors by Sebastian Cheng. This story is delightful, leaning on the fact that Wong has to stay at the Sanctum Sanctorum all day while Dr. Strange gets to make it on the news and perform surgeries and save lives. That being said, taking care of the home is no easy task and there’s quite a threat that Wong must combat. This tale is wholesome because Wong is so humble. Yagawa’s art has an in-your-face feel evocative of Neal Adams’ work that suits Marvel and the moments in this story.
Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 is a good anthology with some great introspection on each of the characters featured in the story. It also gives us insight into the comics industry and raises up AAPI creators and characters.
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