a-force-cover-d34a8-720x1092 (1)By Molly Jane Kremer. Secret Wars is upon us. Hinted and teased at for nearly a year, it hss begun — and thus most of Marvel’s publishing line has been replaced by mini-series amalgamations of previously successful storylines, rehashing hits like Civil War, the Korvac Saga, Marvel Zombies, etc. But there are a few standouts in this batch of tie-ins, a few that truly bring new, exciting ideas to the fore, and A-Force is certainly one of them (despite what a snide and uninformed historian might have said about it in the New Yorker). Here is a book with ideas seldom realized, one that isn’t beholden to the past and absurdly readable.

The current flood of crossover tie-ins — beginning with DC’s Convergence last month and continuing with the upcoming deluge of Marvel’s Secret Wars — has become utterly exhausting. The major problem with endless tie-ins and their ilk is simply their disposability: typically these books are relevant only for the exact month of their release (or worse, for only a week), and afterward are relegated to the dreaded back-issue bins of obscurity. A story like A-Force, in the hands of its talented creators, surpasses the usual dreck with a compelling premise, and successfully utilizes the main crossover while still telling a story independent to it.

Writers Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson have incredible characterizations to offer, and they flex their ample dialogue muscles on interactions between characters we rarely see together, and some characters we rarely see nowadays at all. (And in Dazzler’s case, we don’t see those mirror-ball roller-skates much anymore…) This is a team consisting of Marvel’s top-tier lady superheroes, both young newcomers and more established mainstays, protecting a seemingly idyllic and serene island named Arcadia. (And with all this beauty flying around it’s only fitting that the island have the look and the feel of Renaissance Florence.)

We’re introduced to everyone on the first page with a well-drawn (and gorgeously colored) sequence of our team members prepping for their day in the early morning hours. The establishing narration has a lyrical elegance that compliments scenic Arcadia, especially when the following double-page splash sees the team soaring across dawn-streaked blue skies. While it would have been rather excellent to see these characters as they were first getting to know each other — villains working with heroes! Teenagers getting along with adults! — and growing towards working together as a team, that would have been a completely different (and likely incompatible) crossover story.

4530696-a-force_1_preview_1Penciller (and partial inker) Jorge Molina gives the art a lovely and cinematic flair; his layouts are dynamic in action scenes, and gripping and emotional for the more tense sequences. His attention to architectural detail is breathtaking, and his facial expressions (especially Nico’s, towards the end) are poignant and charming. The inks, by Molina and Craig Yeung, are fluid and light enough to really let the colors shine, and that’s a beautiful thing; colorists Laura Martin and Matt Milla completely outdo themselves. The comic takes place over the course of a day, and the near-constant sunlight is beautifully rendered, and very illustrative of the hopefulness Arcadia represents, even when it’s casting shadow.

It’s the nature of a miniseries to come with an automatic expiration date, but this is a book that could, with few tweaks, easily stand on its own as a series, despite being indelibly bound to a major crossover event. (Hell, remember that this is how Spider-Gwen got her start.) Bennett and Wilson have successfully brought about a brilliant idea and their execution of it is as marvelous as we could have hoped for. A-Force has a might that is truly unparalleled.

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson.

Art by Jorge Molina and Craig Yeung.

Colored by Laura Martin and Matt Milla.

8.5 out of 10