Review by Ian Keogh
The deficiency of Asian superheroes at Marvel was recognised by the creators of the Future Fight game, and it’s definitely praiseworthy to see the likes of Crescent & Io (South Korean), Luna Snow (South Korean), Sword Master (Chinese) and Wave (Filipino) now integrated into the Marvel comics. That’s because fire goddess Queen Sindr is threatening South-East Asia as part of the War of the Realms invasion. Incorporating so many new heroes in a four chapter graphic novel means introductions are brief, but Greg Pak’s plot has a density to it. In addition to the entire squad of superheroes, showing what they’re capable of and several battles with Sindr’s forces there’s also time for passing consideration of the ecological consequences Sindr’s plans have for Earth.
Of necessity Gang Hyuk Lim has to pack his pages with characters, giving them an extremely busy look at best, and crowding them at worst, but he’s an artist with a commendable work ethic, almost always drawing full figures, and not stinting with the backgrounds either. He could have got away with making Sindr a flame only being, but took the trouble to work details into her appearance.
Pak drops in several nicely timed surprises, mixes technology well with ancient myths and does as well as he can with such a large cast. Each of them is given a moment, but some are otherwise lost in the shuffle. The only character connecting this with the previous Agents of Atlas (see recommendations) is co-ordinator and overseer Jimmy Woo, a lifelong secret agent, and all that brings with it. It leads to issues of trust by the end, seeds well planted.
While acknowledging that Marvel’s stories could have been more inclusive in the past and efforts have been made to recognise a diverse world, is the idea of combining every Asian-American superhero into a single team patronising? Marvel either decided an Asian-friendly series was a commercial opportunity, or were so blown away by what Pak and Lim were producing that they immediately launched these new Agents of Atlas into their own series. Graphic novel collections will presumably follow in 2020.