Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this week will see me feature a brand-new Cool Comic Book Moment. For this week only, I’ll be specifically featuring cool moments that happened in the last couple of years (basically since I last did the Year of Cool Comic Moments). Here is an archive of all the past cool comic moments that I’ve featured so far.
Today we take a look at a great issue of Wolverine and the X-Men, where Jason Aaron, Nick Bradshaw, Walden Wong and Cam Smith look past the events of Avengers vs. X-Men to give a spotlight on the strange life of the Sh’iar warrior known as Warbird.
Wolverine and the X-Men #13 stands out to me in the two different ways that it showed how special Jason Aaron’s run on this title is. Firstly, Aaron shows his ability to take seemingly minor characters and suddenly give them so much depth that they stand out from the pack. Secondly, it showed his skills in being able to tell a strong, done-in-one story in the middle of a crossover, which usually saps all tie-in comics of all of their uniqueness (anyone remember Peter David’s X-Factor issues during X-Cutioner’s Song? There was one issue that featured pretty much no members of X-Factor in it!).
Warbird was introduced early on as the bodyguard for Kid Gladiator, the song of the Shi’ar leader, Gladiator.
Slowly but surely she showed more and more characterization until we got to Wolverine and the X-Men #20. The plot is simple enough – Gladiator has come to Earth to take his son home (and Warbird, as well), since his son has disobeyed his order to return to their home (Gladiator didn’t want his son getting mixed up in a situation involving the world-destroying Phoenix Force).
So in #13, Gladiator ends up trying to take on the Phoenix Five (the five X-Men who became possessed by the Phoenix Force) by himself while ordering Warbird to find his son and also keep him from entering the fray.
In this issue, Aaron gives us Warbird’s origin, of sorts, and it is a real doozy. It opens with this brilliant inversion of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen…
Warbird is a natural born killer (literally, she was born in the slave pits where she gestated in the body of an alien who could not birth Shi’ar, so she killed her first person just being BORN).
We see her in action…
She cannot do it. She frees the boy (although she later notes that he was captured soon after and sent to a worker’s camp. He probably died years ago, but she hopes that he is still out there drawing). However, enough time has passed that…
What a strong profile on a character. Someone who has spent so much time subverting her views that, in effect, the views disappeared (well, I should say became so hidden that they’re not readily apparent). Great work by Aaron. Bradshaw, meanwhile, excels in this issue by adroitly alternating between character-heavy pages and dynamic action-heavy pages.
Does Warbird really leave Earth (and Wolverine and the X-Men)? Pick up Wolverine and the X-Men’s fourth trade paperback and find out!
If you have suggestions for other cool comic moments from the past couple of years, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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