- Posted by Johanna on July 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
I’ve decided to catch up on my Marvel reading. I have a 120-comic backlog, since I haven’t read any since March, which was before the launch of the new series people are recommending (such as Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk). (Before you ask, I just got busy with other things.)
Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to discover, in my first batch (proceeding alphabetically), a cool new character I hope to see more of. Radiance first appeared in All-New Invaders #6, out last month, with a followup in last week’s All-New Invaders #7. That’s her on the cover. (Ignore the grimacing heads, which correspond to nothing in the issue. Also ignore the “Original Sin” tie-in banner, since it’s just a gimmick to provide a reason for her flashbacks.)
The setup is this: Jim Hammond is the original Human Torch, from the 1940s. After having his quiet small-town life interrupted by a giant monster, he became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He’s already the kind of character I have sympathy for, an everyday guy who’s drawn into doing the right thing. It wouldn’t be his first choice, but he feels an obligation to help because he can, and his motivation — to live happily, once he can retire — is an approachable and sympathetic one. All this was in prior issues, which mostly turned into a big bash-em-up, so I’m not talking more about that.
Back to Radiance, or as she is known in Japan, Supreme Radiant Friend (following the Grant Morrison-style “I don’t know if this is fond appropriation or borderline racist allusion” Asian naming structure). This is comics, so she has a martial-arts-style sash, a color scheme and icon vaguely reminiscent of her country’s flag, and weird patches of exposed skin, as shown here inside the issue.
This is all written by James Robinson and illustrated by Mark Laming, whose drawings of her, as seen above, are more typically superheroic than that kawaii cover. Her powers are light-based, and although she’s compared at one point to Dazzler, it’s clear that Radiance, Ryoko Sabuki, isn’t a mutant, and in power, she’s closer to Monica Rambeau, with energy blasts. It’s very visual, and not the typical “let the girl stand back and think at them” kind of ability.
Ryoko is also the granddaughter of Golden Girl, who (we’re told here) hung out with the Kid Commandos during World War II. I don’t know enough Marvel history to know if that’s a retcon or not, but I like the generational connection. That sparks (heh) this story, as the Original Sin Ryoko discovers has to do with the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan and the original Invaders’ possible connection. There are plenty of flashbacks as we learn what happened then and now with the teams. Plus, we get to see Spitfire, whom I’ve always liked. There’s something about a titled lady becoming a superhero for the good of the country that’s very British.
More significantly, although it’s hampered by being part of a superhero comic that requires big images and lots of action, there’s an interesting attempt to tackle the question of how to look at some actions during World War II. The US did some horrible things during that time, and retrospective analysis requires an understanding of good motives potentially leading to disaster, as plays out on a smaller scale here.
It looks like next issue, All-New Invaders #8, is back to all the boys fighting monsters, so I doubt I’ll follow this series, but I wanted to go public about wanting to see Radiance again.