Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Pull List: Angela: Asgard's Assassin #3 Review

Let's talk about the world of Asgard for a moment, because seriously, between Thor #5 and this issue of Angela, there is a ton to talk about. First off, I'd like to say that, after reading the first two issues of this series, I was ready to drop it. I felt it was repetitive and, quite frankly, kind of boring, despite the pretty constant action of elf-fighting and god-fleeing. Angela just flitted about with an Asgardian baby - her sister, of course - and Sera explained over and over that Angela, an Angel of Heven, doesn't do anything without knowing she will receive some form of compensation, even as far as refusing to give a little girl her ball back.

And then Issue #3 came along.

Via Marvel Comics
It actually took me a couple readings before the light in my head went off. I mean, I got that Sera is transgender and that she and Angela are lovers; I'm not that naive. That's groundbreaking enough as it is, since I cannot think of a single transgender character in either DC or Marvel's books that is directly romantically involved with a main character. Star Lord doesn't react with disgust to the relationship or to the revelation that Sera was born genetically male, which made me smile, but that wasn't what really hit me. I didn't realize how important those few pages describing the origin of their relationship and the reasons Angela is the way she is were until I went back and reread Thor #5 to see if my theory held water. And by God, it does!

The two books are decidedly and blatantly feminist, and while Thor takes the more direct approach - as an Asgardian would - Angela is much more circuitous about it, dropping hints and gently prodding you into identifying with a very hard woman. Both Angela and the new Thor are combating patriarchal, overly masculinized antagonists. While Odin seeks to rid the world of a pretender to what he deems is his son's right, Odinsson blindly follows his father's will to bring Angela back to face justice for kidnapping. They believe they are protecting something precious, when they are only reacting out of fear of powerful women.
Via Marvel Comics
I have no idea if Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen collaborated on using similar themes in their stories, but I would not be surprised. Then again, masculine aggression toward feminine power is a universal story, going all the way back to tales of sun gods usurping the feminine divine as a source of worship and arguably even before then. I'm not saying the feminine is better than the masculine; they are both energies that make up this universe, and when they work in tandem, balance and peace are kept. It's when one wants more power than the other, when one fears that the other will take the agency they rightfully have just because they exist and then choose to steal it to keep from losing it, that is when conflict arises. And we all know some of the best stories come from that type of conflict. But it is from those stories that we can really look at the bigger picture of the state of our world.

It's not very often that comics from the Big Two get me to thinking about philosophy and esotericism, but Angela: Asgard's Assassin and Thor definitely got my mind jogging. I'm enthused, actually, seeing that comics can be used, not only to challenge norms and upset those who would keep those norms in place, but to tell an engaging story that gets people on the fence about those issues talking about them. Humanity will get nowhere if we can't discuss injustices and inequality and the like, and damn it, I'm proud to be a member of a community who, no matter the number of Old Guard standing in the way, will help shape this world into a much better place.

Keep going, guys. Keep pushing. I'll be reading it gleefully, and hopefully, I'll join your ranks.
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