Arcadia is one city under the power of Doctor Doom’s Battleworld. She Hulk’s team, The A-force, face power questions and mysteries that clash with their convictions. A-Force #1 offers:
- Artwork that builds a great setting, and shows off flight scenes.
- A diverse cast that handles power – changing power, and real versus imagined power
- Themes of friendship, and questions of who holds power in Battleworld
A flight scene opens the comic. A-Force fly over the idealistic city of Arcadia. An attack from a giant Shark escalates into a fight scene. The final scenes slow down the pace at night, with a lighthouse over a dark sea.
Architecture choices cause Arcadia to feel like an idealistic city. Red roofs and domes invoke Italian cities like Florence and Venice. Alongside this centre, motifs of 1960’s American towns, and Farmers Markets held under tree lined lane ways complete the backdrop that the A-Force flies over in the opening pages. The superheroes are suspended, flying across a large scale image of Arcadia. Captain Marvel in red, gold, and blue looks up at the sky. Miss America and Nico fly alongside Pixie, and the sparkling Dazzler.
Later, a shark the size of truck launches itself from the ocean. A megalodon. The prehistoric shark aggressively attacks Arcadia.
The epilogue of the first issue of A-Force winds down the action with a slower pace. On a cape by the sea is a lighthouse. It’s called Bishop Lighthouse. Nico (Sister Grimm), waits here for America. The panels move from moment to moment as Nico steadies herself, and then happens to glance up at the sky.
Dazzler and Miss America show contrasting views in the battle against the Megalodon. Against the laws put in place by Doctor Doom, She Hulk has power, but not enough.
Dazzler is concerned that the Megalodon might be the last of it’s kind. She considers biodiveristy while rescuing citizens from harm. In contrast, Miss America calls the creature “Sharknado” and uses her super strength to throw the Megalodon away from Arcadia. She whispers “Nobody tell P.E.T.A”. That was rash. Impulsive use of super-human strength does not end well.
Stephen Strange resides inside an interesting, new power structure. At the head of the structure sits Doctor Doom. Battleworld has laws created by Doom, and enforced by Strange – the Sheriff. Inside this vast, planet sized kingdom, Arcadia is just one of several cities. Miss America tossed the Shark out of Arcadia. It grazes Doctor Doom’s wall. He calls it the Shield Wall. Without it, monsters and villains from the Marvel Universe would invade Battleworld.
For this crime, Miss America is banished to work on the Shield Wall.
She Hulk tries to make a case against Strange’s ruling, but his law is absolute. She Hulk carries the rank of Baroness, and protects Arcadia. Despite her convictions, and belief that America deserves another chance, Strange tells her to follow the law to the letter.
Friendship and Power stand out as large themes here. The question that emerges – if all authority flows back to Doctor Doom, then the power each Baron and Baroness has is not real. More mysteries emerge when Nico waits under the lighthouse.
Friendship between the A-force team remains a core and defining part of their identity. Without America, Loki and Nico stand inconsolable. Nico’s rage at She-Hulk vibrates off the page. Later, she waits under a lighthouse. America might spot the light in the darkness, and fly home. This is how strong the connection between these heroes remains.
Power, particular what is inside and outside a person’s power plays out close to the end of the comic book. Despite her rank and position as leader of A-Force, She Hulk is powerless against the Sheriff’s decision. This asks the question – what is real power in Battleworld? If all those in charge must take orders from the Doom, then there is no real authority.
Medusa comments that balancing what’s best for Arcadia, and the will of Doctor Doom is a tightrope. Really, it looks more like a one-way street. She Hulk resolves to start solving the mystery of where the Megalodon came from. More mysteries emerge when Nico glances at the sky. A new character to the Marvel universe lands in Arcadia.
A-Force #1 is published by Marvel Comics (USD $3.99) Marguerite Bennet & G. Willow Wilson (W.) Jorge Molina (A.) Jorge Molina Craig Yueng (I.) Laura Martin Matt Milla (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover artwork by Cheung and Martin.