ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Marvel’s Voices: Identity (2022),’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Marvel's Voices Identity #1 - But Why Tho

Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 is the latest installment in the Marvel’s Voices series and the second installment of its Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander-focused title, Identity. “Secrets” is by Pornsak Pichetshote, Crees Lee, and Bryan Balenza. “Fool Me Twice” is by Sabir Pirzada, Eric Koda, and Brian Reber. “The Primeval Paradox” is by Jeremy Holt, Kei, Zama, and Irma Kniivila. “While You Were Out” is by Emily Kim, Rickie Yagawa, and Sebastian Cheng. All stories are lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham.

I’ve found that 2022’s Marvel’s Voices issues have struggled to strike the right balance between being meaningful independent stories and being advertisements for ongoing or recent series. It’s important to draw new readers in and show them what they could be reading next. Also, it’s hard to show off characters without delving into their sometimes 60-year-old backstories. But there must be a better way than what some of the stories in Marvel’s Voices: Identity deliver.

“Secrets” is the worst offender of this misbalance. It’s a story about Jimmy Woo and Shang-Chi that connects to Agents of Atlas but has little substance and confusing dialogue. I’m not sure if understanding their ongoing stories would help entirely, if I’m being honest. The whole premise is just contrived and feels like it was spawned just to show off a random array of Asian heroes in a set of panels that aren’t even next to each other. With that, their heroic entrance falls flat when I can’t associate the narration box’s introduction of each name with any faces.

“Fool Me Twice” is a decent first half of a story. It sees Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel encounter an enemy last seen in her first volume. It has a nice emotional arc at first, but it’s hindered by the eventual appearance of some random other heroes. Their appearance makes enough sense in the context of the exposition that Shang-Chi provides, but it feels like a corporate marketing ploy more than a satisfying extension of the emotional arc of the first half. The relationship between Khan and Kamran bears no connection to the Macguffen he has in his pockets, and the resolution ties back to the beginning nicely but practically ignores the whole scenario Shang-Chi just swooped in to deal with. Also, I know he’s hot right now, but two stories included Shang-Chi, neither of which even did him much justice by showing off what he’s capable of. With so many other potential characters being left out of this issue, it just feels like another corporate decision with an adverse impact.

“The Primeval Paradox” has a decent go at toeing the line. It gave me a new perspective on Mantis. As a reader who only recognizes her from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2., it worked really well as a way to drive me towards investigating her character further thanks to the exposition. I just wish that the plot of this story did a little bit more showing than telling. The plot was ripe for it, but the action feels muddled by the plot device it uses that rather limited the way events could be depicted. It may have a different effect on readers who are more familiar with Mantis’s history, but for me, it was a hindrance.

“While You Were Out” is just simply a fun story. It gives a perfect picture of who Wong is as a character (and his relationship to Doctor Strange) and, given the characters’ appearance in a number of recent Marvel movies, it’s a perfectly timed story to get readers interested in seeking out more of Wong’s comedic timing.

The art in each story is swell. I appreciate the particular attention several of the stories take to very clearly demonstrate the diversity of skin tones the characters are colored with. The style of each story’s art is similar enough so as not to feel jarring as you read one to the next. And while I complained about the plot device in “The Primeval Paradox” taking up too much of the visual space, it is drawn and colored with the most detail in all of the stories and is really fun to look at, even if a bit confusing to the untrained eye. Lettering across the issue is well done and only difficult to read on the title pages.

Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 is an unfortunately unfulfilling issue weighed down by its difficulty telling interesting stories while still being approachable for new readers. Some of the stories strike this balance better than others, but the worst offenders are hardly worth reading.

Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 is available on May 18 wherever comics are sold.


Marvel's Voices: Identity #1
2.5

TL;DR

Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 is an unfortunately unfulfilling issue weighed down by its difficulty telling interesting stories while still being approachable for new readers. Some of the stories strike this balance better than others, but the worst offenders are hardly worth reading.