One of the big rites of passage for superhero writers is the First Team Book, giving them the opportunity to build an ensemble that shows what kinds of characters they gravitate toward. Tini Howard became a Marvel exclusive earlier this year, and next week, she reaches the First Team Book milestone with Strikeforce, uniting a new group of heroes under the leadership of the Blade, the day-walking vampire. Angela, Spider-Woman, Spectrum, Wiccan, Winter Soldier, and Daimon Hellstrom are joining Blade to take out a new mystical threat, and this configuration of heroes offers a lot of storytelling possibilities given each person’s traumatic history and the wide range of their abilities.
Howard already has some experience writing members of this team: She’s doing fascinating work with Billy in the page’s of Death’s Head, and wrote a fantastic World War II Cap and Bucky story in last year’s Captain America Annual. It’s also crucial to note that this is a team featuring multiple women, people of color, and queer characters, eschewing the tokenism that so often defines marginalized people in superhero teams. This exclusive preview of Strikeforce #1 introduces the new team in a dire situation, caught by the Avengers in the middle of a mission looking very suspicious.
The artwork by Germán Peralta, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Joe Sabino evocatively captures the horror of the scene the Avengers stumble onto as they investigate the release of a supervirus. Peralta has been doing beautiful work at Marvel mixing bold lines with delicate ink washes, and Bellaire’s coloring adds even more atmosphere and texture to his art. Peralta’s layouts and compositions create a strong sense of place while also intensifying emotional beats with inset panels zooming in facial expressions. There’s a particularly slick moment during She-Hulk’s rampage where Peralta uses walls as panel borders, dividing a single panel into three different segments to create a clear sequence of movement. This creative team is as intriguing as the superhero line-up, making Strikeforce a debut that deserves attention.