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  1. #1
    Lick on, sweet prince. Sea Hound's Avatar
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    Default Angela, Asgard's Assassin #3. Review with Spoilers.

    This issue follows the same division of creators as previously. Gillen and Jiminez on the current, ongoing story; and a lengthy flashback written by Gillen and Bennett, and pencilled by Stephanie Hans.

    Decompressed this comic is not. So much happens, it's continuity heavy, and a lot of it is important; so this review goes on a bit. My apologies!

    The issue opens on Vanaheim, where Angela her companion Sera, and the baby they have kidnapped (Freya and Odin's newborn heir) have run to. There's a brief and easily won battle with some marauding dark elves on a raiding party. It's basically there to show how badass a warrior Angela is, and to showcase Sera's combat-magic.

    They're pursued by a group of Asgardians- including an angry and very hostile Thor, wisecracking Loki, and Heimdall who is using his magic vision to follow and find them. They've been told to bring both sisters back alive by Odin. There's a few pages of chase and close encounters.
    Asgardian politics are fairly central to this issue. Gillen's run on JiM went into it at length: Asgardian society is made up of two races, the Aesir and Vanir. Eons ago the belligerent Aesir defeated the Vanir in a long and bitter war, and assimilated them into their society: symbolised by the arranged marriage between Odin,and a not very enthusiastic Freya. Because the gods are very long lived some Vanir like Freya and Heimdall still live; and an underlying resentment still burns within them. There was a recent war between the two races. I think this is likely to be a theme again in the Angela book: maybe linked to the tension between Freya and Odin in Jason Aaron's Thor. The kidnapped baby is both Asgard's heir, and a symbol of Aesir-Vanir unity; because she was conceived to mystically seal the rift between Aesir and Vanir. Losing her? Bad idea.

    Angela gets a new mystic costume, with cloaking from Heimdal's vision properties, which shapes itself into whatever form the wearer finds beautiful. Her tastes seem to run to busy. There's a lengthy thread about it, so I'm not going to talk any more about it.
    Then she calls in the guardians of the Galaxy for a clean, untraceable getaway.
    In the meantime her Thor and co. change strategy, and go to hel, and Hela, to beg the use of her terrifying warrior maidens the Disir.

    This ends the ongoing action, and we move to a flashback.
    It's an origin story for Sera, and it's a wonderful and different one. She turns out to have been born one of Haven's rare, cosseted males; and was expected to live a protected life of religious contemplation. When Angela shows up to battle a monster, Sera does the forbidden and fights by her side, then begs Angela to help her/him to escape in return. They find a way for Sera to "become the person she was meant to be" (a magical sex change? Top notch hair and make up? It's not explicit) and become adventuring companions; and very close. It's suggested not stated that Sera loves Angela.
    Sera was killed in the past and Angela was distraught, because Angels don't have an afterlife, and should be gone forever. Somehow, (neither we nor she know how) she has returned.

    my thoughts.

    The present day art by Jiminez is good, although perhaps not as good as the first two issues. There's some panels that look a bit rushed, sometimes his faces look extremely odd, and I find the colour palette a bit cold and murky. However it's generally clear and tells the story well, and his characters all look like individuals. It reminds me a bit of Alan Davis at times.

    Hans painted art of the past scenes is as gorgeous as always. I'm a massive fan of her work. It's lyrical, beatiful, and has a sad quality.

    The writing is pretty good too. Gillen generally has a masterful handle on Asgard and Asgardians; and a liking for the more obscure characters like Heimdal, Freya, Tyr and Hela which I appreciate. One thing that surprised me though was just how aggressive Thor was, in a way which doesn't fit with the characterisation he's previously given him. Aaron's Thor seems overly belligerent too, so I wonder if there's more going on with the angry, unworthy Odinson than we know.

    As I said, I think too much was put into one issue. It's all well done, but I think we needed two to really cover it all.
    If you hadn't read Gillen's JiM, it would be confusing. (It's a wonderful run, and well worth the time IMO).

    Sera is one of the very first trans characters in Marvel, and her story was perfectly documented in just a few pages by Gillen, Bennett and Hans. A beautifully and movingly done story.


    All in all, I'm giving it 4/5.
    On the plus side: It's got some very good writing, and is interesting, moving, intelligent and grown up. Hans's art especially is gorgeous. However it loses a star because a bit too much happens, and I think it relies too much on readers knowing the continuity. I'd strongly recommend picking it up
    Last edited by Sea Hound; 02-04-2015 at 09:17 PM.
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  2. #2

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    I would consider Sera Marvel's third truly transgender character, behind Jessie Drake (a girl from a Marvel Comics Presents story from 1994, and who I only learned of just now by googling "transgender comic book characters") and Tong the Moloid from Fraction's FF. And unlike those two, Sera's presumably going to continue playing an active role in an ongoing story. (Not bashing either of the other characters, of course. Tong was amazing, and I'm sure Jessie was a great character.) Characters who've been gender-bent are fairly common, but I don't really count that as transgender, because it's just too much a fictional scenario. They can be interesting explorations of gender identity (or they can be mostly ignored and not be used to say anything particularly interesting about gender), but they're not really transgender.

    So it's great to have a transgender character as a major supporting role in a Marvel comic. Also, there's very strong implications of romantic feelings between Sera and Angela, which would suggest Angela as, at the least, bisexual, possibly lesbian. I'm hoping we get a little more on the exact nature of their relationship fairly soon, so we know if Angela is an LGBT solo.

    Other than that, I thought the issue was great. It was a huge exposition dump, but it was handled fairly well. And Stephanie Hans' art remains gorgeous.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Raye's Avatar
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    I liked it, but yeah, a LOT was crammed in here, and sometimes it was just in some expository dialogue, and I think i would have appreciated a bit more time... but with Secret Wars fast approaching, I suspect they have a pretty firm deadline to get to a certain point in the story, so...

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that this is pretty much a continuation of Gillen's JIM. Different protagonist, but many of the plot points come right from that run. I mean, now we have Loki, Hela, the Disir... and is tying up some dangling plot threads left over from his JIM run, such as Heimdall and Siri, and of course the baby (which had been ignored by Aaron, will be interested to see how much these events are referenced in Thor) came about from Everything Burns, which I am getting the feeling i should really go back and read again.

    Also, as mentioned in Loki's thread, I think I know how Sera was resurrected... But it ties into Agent of Asgard. Basically though, I think Loki in the future has inserted her into the story, much like how Kid Loki inserted Leah into Cul's story. (and I don't think Sera is the only one, I think the same is true for King Loki and maaaaybe Verity.) Think about it. She was brought back and even she doesn't seem to know how, even though it should be impossible for angels to do so, as she herself states.. Angela would have failed by now, if not for her help and advice, but hen you think about that advice, she displays FAR more knowledge about Asgard than she really ought to know, given how the 10th realm was sealed away for millenia, and this is even lampshaded. Is the thing with Heimdall and Siri even IN the books she could read, yet? And even the structure of the comic itself lends itself to this; if the story was being edited to add new elements, how would it read? Most likely it would read as if it were being interrupted by smaller stories that add the new information, wouldn't it?
    Last edited by Raye; 02-04-2015 at 11:00 PM.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member harashkupo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Hound View Post
    ...Sera is one of the very first trans characters in Marvel, and her story was perfectly documented in just a few pages by Gillen, Bennett and Hans. A beautifully and movingly done story.
    I've been following this series on a whim and had no idea about Sera. Was this something I should have picked up on in this issue or is it from a previous storyline? If it's the latter could anyone give me the title and issue numbers?
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  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Raye's Avatar
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    Sera is a brand new character, so she has only ever appeared in Angela. her status as being transgender was only just revealed this issue. (though in hindsight, her lack of wings was actually a hint, but we did not know enough about the male angels to realize it at the time. we just knew that, though she was an angel, she lacked wings for some reason)

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member harashkupo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raye View Post
    Sera is a brand new character, so she has only ever appeared in Angela. her status as being transgender was only just revealed this issue. (though in hindsight, her lack of wings was actually a hint, but we did not know enough about the male angels to realize it at the time. we just knew that, though she was an angel, she lacked wings for some reason)
    Oooooh. When she was talking about the weak males I thought she was talking about them but not as one of them. I totally misinterpreted that whole flashback scene. Thank you, it's always cool to re-read an issue and discover something new and now I get to do that. Here ya go, an electronic high five through the interwebs. WHAPISH!!
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  7. #7
    Lick on, sweet prince. Sea Hound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raye View Post

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that this is pretty much a continuation of Gillen's JIM. Different protagonist, but many of the plot points come right from that run. I mean, now we have Loki, Hela, the Disir... and is tying up some dangling plot threads left over from his JIM run, such as Heimdall and Siri, and of course the baby (which had been ignored by Aaron, will be interested to see how much these events are referenced in Thor) came about from Everything Burns, which I am getting the feeling i should really go back and read again.

    Also, as mentioned in Loki's thread, I think I know how Sera was resurrected... But it ties into Agent of Asgard. Basically though, I think Loki in the future has inserted her into the story, much like how Kid Loki inserted Leah into Cul's story. (and I don't think Sera is the only one, I think the same is true for King Loki and maaaaybe Verity.) Think about it. She was brought back and even she doesn't seem to know how, even though it should be impossible for angels to do so, as she herself states.. Angela would have failed by now, if not for her help and advice, but hen you think about that advice, she displays FAR more knowledge about Asgard than she really ought to know, given how the 10th realm was sealed away for millenia, and this is even lampshaded. Is the thing with Heimdall and Siri even IN the books she could read, yet? And even the structure of the comic itself lends itself to this; if the story was being edited to add new elements, how would it read? Most likely it would read as if it were being interrupted by smaller stories that add the new information, wouldn't it?
    Quite possible. It's a Gillen-y kind of idea.

    I was wondering if Angela has made a deal with someone powerful to get her back. It's such a strong theme in the book: you do nothing for nothing, and everything is a bargain. it's inevitable story wise that sooner or later her moral code slams against Asgardian honour and concepts. My theory is that the baby was the price for Sera's resurrection, and someone has a plan to bring Asgard down. Bad old Loki could easily be involved.

    Anyone else forecast a crossover between the Asgard books?
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  8. #8
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    is there any chance Odin might have been the one to resurrect sera as part of whatever plans he has to counter freyja and king loki?

    or it could just be malekith or Cul screwing with the odinspawn (All of them)

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Darkspellmaster's Avatar
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    Crossover would be nice, yes. And I could see Odin pulling that off, but for what purpose? Could also be King Loki, and maybe ties to the new heir?

    By the way do we have a name for the new baby? Or is she just....Child of Odin and Freya. (Why do I have a feeling where this maybe going but I just hope not...although THAT would be a weird twist. But I doubt that's what we're going to see.)

    Also liking Sera. I need to get these three issues apparently and add them to my list. Oh this brings up something, will we see Freya's sister here too? Given the last time there was some annoyance, and I'm pretty sure she'd love to screw over Odin a bit.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkspellmaster View Post
    Crossover would be nice, yes. And I could see Odin pulling that off, but for what purpose?
    nothing for nothing. angela would have to do something for odin, something she'd rather stick needles in her eyes than do otherwise. rescue loki? lead the armies of asgard against malekith's league?

    ... or take the throne as all-mother?

  11. #11
    Veteran Member Mahes's Avatar
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    I'm torn on this series. I normally like Gillen's work and the plot is working and Jiminez's art of course is impressive. But I feel like too much is getting packed and that hurts the overall narrative. Secret Wars looms over everything so I get why it gets packed but I don't know if this is the right balance to take. Hans' art is also good.

    This was a good issue but probably should have been split in two.

  12. #12
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    i don't mind the issue having so much things packed. better than decompressed

    I have more problems that this books is continuity heavy

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Darkspellmaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by king of hybrids View Post
    nothing for nothing. angela would have to do something for odin, something she'd rather stick needles in her eyes than do otherwise. rescue loki? lead the armies of asgard against malekith's league?

    ... or take the throne as all-mother?
    Rescuing Loki wouldn't really be an issue to her since she never met the old version of him so she's got no qualms with him unlike the other Asgardians. No to the second one, although she wouldn't be too thrilled with it, I don't think she would be too upset with going to battle, of course it's for Odin so that would stick in her craw as it were. Taking the throne as the All-Mother would be interesting, but I don't think he's ready to give that to anyone just yet.

    I'm curious about this baby though. I don't know if Gillian's going to pull what they did in well, I know this is an odd reference but it's the only one I can think of at the moment, Rainbow brite pilot episode where the baby turns out to be nothing but an energy thing in physical form and it vanishes to fix whatever issue is going on. That would be one heck of a lame cop out for the whole "Fixing" the issue. Although, on the other hand...if the child does survive it would lead to a few good things, such as King Thor not gaining power in that the child would trump him on the role of King, something I don't think Thor really honestly wants to have.

    Could it be King loki wants the child so he can have what he desires? Or is he actually trying to protect the kid so that he can change the story? I hope we get some answers, as that black magic may be something that might be tied to those that watch the cycles.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkspellmaster View Post
    Rescuing Loki wouldn't really be an issue to her since she never met the old version of him so she's got no qualms with him unlike the other Asgardians. No to the second one, although she wouldn't be too thrilled with it, I don't think she would be too upset with going to battle, of course it's for Odin so that would stick in her craw as it were. Taking the throne as the All-Mother would be interesting, but I don't think he's ready to give that to anyone just yet.
    i more meant her disliking the thought of rescuing loki in the sense that he's her sibling (though we are in the rare position where loki is the nice one)

    as for the throne; perhaps odin sees that angela has a better chance of surviving the secret wars (And thus a chance for her to do as thor did and revive everyone on the other side)?

    of course, it could be any number of parties who arranged for sera's resurrection (or even creation); Asgard is not exactly short of powerful enemies, enemies who are actively recruiting in fact.

    I'm curious about this baby though. I don't know if Gillian's going to pull what they did in well, I know this is an odd reference but it's the only one I can think of at the moment, Rainbow brite pilot episode where the baby turns out to be nothing but an energy thing in physical form and it vanishes to fix whatever issue is going on. That would be one heck of a lame cop out for the whole "Fixing" the issue. Although, on the other hand...if the child does survive it would lead to a few good things, such as King Thor not gaining power in that the child would trump him on the role of King, something I don't think Thor really honestly wants to have.
    you would be right about Thor not wanting the throne. the very, very emotionally unstable and nigh-fratricidal Odinson, on the other hand? he'd probably view it as yet another of his siblings taking another thing he feels he deserves (even if only feels he deserves first refusal). i wouldn't be surprised if he's got less than glowing feels for the baby as well (even if its just the annoyance of a much older brother to yet another annoying sibling)

    and lets not even contemplate what he might do as Thorr the really unworthy.

    Could it be King loki wants the child so he can have what he desires? Or is he actually trying to protect the kid so that he can change the story? I hope we get some answers, as that black magic may be something that might be tied to those that watch the cycles.
    good point about those who watch.

    in fact; i'm wondering if King Loki is in fact, any version of loki at all; and if his monologues have actually been a lie for our (and the watchers) benefit?

  15. #15
    Mighty Member Moriarty's Avatar
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    thought it was a good issue. but like many of you said, there was a lot to digest here. and i'm not sure i like the new costume. not that her other costume is a classic or anything.

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