Let's get real, 2016 hasn't gotten off to the flying start we'd all hoped for. If you've had a spectacular couple of weeks, more power to ya, but we've taken a few collective bashes over the past few days. Several of my favourite people have had gloomy starts to the year and I'm sure you'll all agree with me when I make liberal use of the caps lock key and say, "FUCK CANCER!" Still, there are some reasons to keep spirits high. For starters it's actually stopped raining long enough in Wales for us to see some sunlight. I hadn't realised just how long the deluge had been going on until I stepped outside last night and caught sight of the Cheshire Cat smile that was the moon for what felt like the first time in months. We won't talk about the storms coming back in a few days time.
Moving on to a slightly more universal 'something to look forward to', Agent Carter is finally back for its second series this month. It's unusual for an entity so tightly bound inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have felt like a cult show, but that's exactly how Agent Carter ended up. Without such a dedicated fanbase who made some noise when it seemed due to be a one-season-wonder, it may have stayed that way. It was wildly under promoted and then underrated from the start. It's almost as if Marvel wanted it that way, but maybe I'm just being a cynic. It didn't have the pizzazz of the blockbuster movies where Hayley Atwell first brought Peggy Carter to life, neither did it have the grown-up grit of Daredevil or Jessica Jones, but it wasn't supposed to. It's a noir setting with a touch of comedy thrown on top and it has a highly self-assured female lead. It's easy to watch if you want a gateway into the MCU and if you already have the knowledge, there are enough Easter eggs to tap the side of your nose to. The writing was pitched just right, Hayley Atwell is irresistible and the styling is gorgeous. Series two, which takes Peggy out to sunny California, starts on 19th January in the US on ABC and on 28th January in the UK on FOX. If you need more reason to catch up on the first series, I wrote about that here.
Sticking within the interconnected Marvel world, I'm back on the comic book train. On finishing my 2015 challenge on New Year's Eve - where I aimed to read 365 comics across the year - I took a 12 day break where I read none at all. I missed them and felt relieved for the respite in equal measure. Everyone needs a rest from the things they love sometimes. Now that I've picked them up again I'm looking forward to the next instalment of one comic series in particular - Hellcat. I've been a fan of Patsy Walker since she showed up as She-Hulk's haphazard sidekick in Charles Soule's 2014/15 She-Hulk series, which I highly recommend. A few pages from that seemed to inspire a couple of scenes in Netflix's Jessica Jones TV show, too, so it's no surprise that Hellcat's getting a profile bump.
At least basing it on the first issue, Kate Leth's Hellcat series is going to be big. The language is exactly right for where the character should be and it's loads of fun. Without wanting to be all 'comics for girls', because I know some guys who've loved it, I really think Kate's written Patsy so she'll appeal especially to girls and women. She's almost a Kamala Khan who's old enough not to have to ask her mum's permission to be out past curfew. It's always a good sign if you're almost sorry you're on a series' wagon from the very start because you have to wait a month for a new issue. There's nothing to binge or catch up on. Hellcat is about as modern as you could imagine and issue two is set to be released next week. With all my favourite ladies on the cover, I must get hold of a hard copy.
Staying with books but moving to the less visual kind, I've already picked up American Housewife by Helen Ellis, released yesterday. It's a collection of 12 sometimes very short stories on the realities of domesticity in modern America. All are thought to be funny, several of them have dark twists and most intriguingly, each has a very close eye on making social commentary. I'm dying to know what might unfold in a story where someone tries to rescue pageant kids from their overbearing parents, for example. Mainly because I'd like to be able to do that myself! I'm becoming increasingly fascinated by short stories and how they can encapsulate one feeling, thought or scene in just a few pages while still telling a complete story. I'm also enamoured with anything relating to domestic life. On the surface is seems to contain the most dull hours of our day. In reality, it's the fabric that holds everything else from falling apart, sometimes while quietly falling apart itself. That makes it completely packed with delicious stories and hopefully that's exactly what I'll get from American Housewife. I'll report back if I'm as impressed as I want to be.