Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Marvel's A-Force

Marvel Comics as we know it didn't start with a guy getting superpowers, putting on a costume, and deciding to go find some crime to fight. While the company technically existed as Timely Comics as early as 1939, what contemporary readers think of as Marvel actually started decades later, with the publication of Fantastic Four #1 (1961). Thus, Marvel's story truly began when four people found themselves with surprise superpowers, and, even though they didn't necessarily like each other at that point, decided to join together to battle the forces of evil.

It comes as no surprise, then, that throughout the subsequent decades, Marvel has produced more than its share of super teams: The Avengers, the X-Men, X-Force, the New Mutants, X-Factor, Excalibur, the Defenders, the Champions, the Thunderbolts, and many more motley crews all hail from the House of Ideas. Some teams have longer histories than others: For instance, A-Force first appeared in 2015, and hasn't had its own ongoing series since 2016. But while A-Force doesn't boast the prolific quantity of adventures other Marvel teams can claim, it's still managed to make a significant impact on the Marvel landscape.

But who and what is A-Force? We're so glad you asked!

A-Force came to be after reality was destroyed

The conditions that led to the creation of Battleworld — a composite of Earths, ruled by Doctor Doom as both its unquestionable god and political despot — get pretty complicated. What you need to know is that during 2015's "Secret Wars" event, the Marvel multiverse squished together into one planet, full of alternate versions of various heroes and villains, each residing in separate domains. Most of these 41 domains (give or take a dozen or two that lack God Doom's official recognition) are inspired by an old Marvel comic, storyline, or famous location. There's the Monarchy of M, ruled by Magneto, in reference to House of M. There's a domain called Greenland, intended to reflect "Planet Hulk." There's New Quack City, where everyone's an animal. In terms of their individual themes and aesthetics, Battleworld domains are all over the place.  

A-Force originates on Battleworld, which means the team did not come to fruition in the mainstream Marvel Comics continuity. In DC terms, y'know how Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman, can fight regular Batman, because in Thomas' world, Bruce Wayne dies instead of him? A-Force starts out kind of like that — but it doesn't stay that way. Plus, their domain on Battleworld is much, much, much nicer than the Flashpoint version of DC's Earth.

A-Force hails from the scenic, luxurious domain of Arcadia

Whereas plenty of Battleworld domains resemble dystopias we might see in depressing, cautionary science fiction — y'know, the kinds of places you'd expect to exist following the collapse of reality — the island domain of Arcadia looks more like a sunny, utopic vacation destination. In fact, Arcadia is frequently referred to as a "paradise" of an island. See what they did there?

Basing the all-female A-Force in pseudo-Themyscira complements the team's motif without landing too close to the nose. Putting the team in matching patriotic leotards and arming them all with bullet-deflecting bracelets and magic lassos would, for example, be going way too far. But a water-locked land watched over by a matriarchal government? That works as an almost subtle and entirely necessary homage to Princess Diana and her Amazonian sisters. See? Marvel and DC (or as they call them, the "Distinguished Competition") really can get along!

As savvy comics fans know, Wonder Woman was not actually the first female superhero. But she's clearly the most widely-recognized and influential — even beyond the realm of heroines. We can't help but wonder: Would Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby have considered basing a new hero on Norse mythology if DC hadn't already enjoyed so much success with Greek mythology? Who knows ... but that's a matter for an entirely different article.

A-Force survived the wreckage of Battleworld

Nowadays, Marvel Comics churns out a new line-spanning event once or twice a year. A lot of these stories, despite their epic scope, don't remain prominent parts of the Marvel canon. How often do you hear anyone mention the original Beyonder from the 1984 "Secret Wars," huh? Or Onslaught? Or literally anything that happened during 1993's Infinity Crusade?    

Event-based elements need to resonate as particularly interesting or impactful to stay relevant after their signature crisis wraps up. That's why the aspects of events that do have staying power feel like major landmarks years after their publication. The title, if not the details, of Civil War (2006) carries on in the third Captain America MCU movie. The phrase "No more mutants" from House of M (2005) became a meme. The once-reviled moment in which Captain America declares his fondness for HYDRA at the beginning of "Secret Empire" (2017) has been ironically redeemed by Avengers: Endgame (2019). 

The mere fact that it's still worthwhile for us to put together an explainer article about A-Force more than half a decade after "Secret Wars" came out places the team in iconic company. Quite a lot happens on the Battleworld imagined by Marvel heavyweight Jonathan Hickman, who wrote the primary 2015 Secret Wars miniseries penciled by artist Esad Ribić. But the trials and tribulations of A-Force are among relatively few details from it still making the rounds of comics-centric conversation. 

In case you didn't notice, it's an all-female super-team

Maybe you didn't notice, but there are no dudes on A-Force. That's right: It's a ladies-only team. The discourse surrounding gender representation in genre fiction was a scorching-hot button issue in 2015. It still is, in many ways, but that year was something of a flashpoint. Society experienced its first female lead in a Star Wars movie by way of The Force Awakens. Fury Road presented us with a female character in a Mad Max movie who is obviously cooler than Max. The first volume of Kamala Khan's adventures as Ms. Marvel took home a Hugo Award. Any time is a good time for A-Force, but halfway through the 2010s, it felt downright crucial.   

"I think all these pop cultural media often reflect conversations we're having in the real world at that moment in time," A-Force co-creator G. Willow Wilson told Entertainment Weekly in 2015."I think one of the big conversations we're having as a culture is we thought we'd solved sexism and racism, and we're realizing more and more that we haven't. There are still questions and some lingering issues that are really coming to the fore, politically and socially, and our pop culture reflects that. So to me it fits into this larger narrative and these sometimes fraught arguments we're having now as a culture about women, and about politics." We couldn't have put it better ourselves.

Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson co-wrote the original miniseries

Though there's still a ways to go, the mid-2010s definitely saw the comics industry make some major moves forward with regards to gender representation. Thus, we have a chicken-or-the-egg situation relating to the careers of all-star writers G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett. Did they get the opportunity to pen some of their most acclaimed work because of the cultural moment, or did the cultural moment occur because books like Wilson's Ms. Marvel (2014) and Bennett's DC Bombshells (2015) made it so?

Thought experiments aside, if you were a comics editor in the 2010s and able to choose any two writers from modern comics to dream up a team like A-Force, Wilson and Bennett would crown your list. The pair co-wrote the Battleworld-based A-Force miniseries, with visuals handled by artist Jorge Molina. In the years since, Wilson wrapped up her Ms. Marvel run, penned a new novel, and spent a little time writing Wonder Woman, among other things. Meanwhile, Bennett has developed an impressive track record on licensed properties, having worked on Boom! Studios' Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and Archie's Josie and The Pussycats, and has launched some blazingly original creator-owned series.

Prolific Marvel scribe Kelly Thompson took over for Bennett at the start of the A-Force ongoing, and served as the sole writer for its final five issues.

She-Hulk is a team leader like no other

Literally every female superhero (and maybe even a few of the female villains) of the Marvel universe could be considered an unofficial member of A-Force. So, you know, the org's not exactly experiencing a shortage of potential team leaders. As the first-ever woman of the Marvel Age, Sue Storm has the edge of raw experience on the rest. As a long-time field commander of the X-Men, Storm holds the tactical advantage — plus, you know, awesome weather powers. Captain Marvel clearly wields the right powerset and strategy-oriented mentality for the gig. But Wilson and Bennett tapped Arcadia's version of Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk, to lead the team. This choice gives A-Force a clear sense of identity it might not have had with one of the other aforementioned heroes calling the shots, as all of them are prominently featured in other Battleworld books published around the same time.

In A-Force, Walters demonstrates gamma radiation-based physical strength, along with a strength of character that may or may not have anything to do with gamma radiation. Circumstances often put her loyalty to her teammates and friends at odds with her sense of duty as Baroness of Arcadia, but She-Hulk does her darndest to resolve that tension in the most favorable ways possible. She also gets launched into an alternate universe where she has to punch a bunch of giant evil robots. Diplomacy and action — she does it all!

Captain Marvel, Nico Minoru, Medusa, and Dazzler round out the core squad

In a general sense, every female Marvel superhero is an extended, reserve member of A-Force. But in a more literal, accurate sense, the team only has five core members: She-Hulk, Dazzler, Sister Grimm (AKA Nico Minoru, who doesn't always love using her codename), Captain Marvel, the Inhuman Queen Medusa, plus a nebulous teleporter known as Singularity who comes along later. 

This roster sports a wide variety of experiences, attitudes, and worldviews. As the literal queen of an entire species, Medusa's loaded with self-assurance — plus she can lift heavy objects and do all kinds of other weird stuff with her hair. Nico Minoru is a clever teenager with a kick-butt magic wand. Dazzler is the only disco singer of the bunch, and perhaps the only disco singer-superhero hybrid in all of mainstream comics. Jennifer Walters has a law degree and the ability to punch basically anything into shambles. And if A-Force needs someone to fly to outer space for any reason, Carol Danvers is always available for this purpose.

A-Force features Singularity, a living transportation system

Not only is A-Force unique for being an all-female team, we're pretty sure it's the only super-alliance featuring a character who only shows up whenever the group properly assembles. 

In the miniseries, Singularity first appears in the sky over Acardia. At first, she doesn't speak, but she quickly demonstrates her ability to create portals to ostensible other dimensions. It's all extremely mysterious at the time. She befriends Nico Minoru, becomes an essential part of the A-Force storyline, and then appears to sacrifice herself to secure the continued existence of Arcadia at the end of the tale. 

Shortly after, she reemerges in the mainstream 616 universe and tracks down the five central A-Force members she remembers from Battleworld. Singularity hasn't appeared all that often since the A-Force ongoing ended in 2018, but she's not totally absent — she pays Kamala Khan a very confusing visit in Ms. Marvel #34for example, much to that heroine's bewilderment. And hey, the future's unwritten ... especially when we're talking about a character who houses a pocket dimension inside herself.

If we're speaking plainly, the fact that she hasn't already found her way into the Guardians of The Galaxy strikes us as bizarre. In the current comics, the Guardians roster undergoes routine shakeups, so it's not like anyone would have to work super hard to figure out a reason for her to be there. She even looks like outer space, y'know? Get cracking, Marvel!

In the original miniseries, A-Force fights a giant shark, sentinels, and zombies

As far as the dozens of Battleworld-based miniseries that flooded comic shop shelves in 2015 go, some titles are more memorable than others. Perhaps because it's one of the few that wasn't based on a pre-existing Marvel series or storyline, A-Force stands apart from the pack. The original five-issue arc introduces the domain of Arcadia and its version of the team, and positively revels in all the multidimensional preposterousness baked into life on Battleworld. 

Perhaps most importantly, the story pits the freshly-minted squad against a giant shark, mutant-hunting robots from another reality, and zombies. Yep, A-Force takes on all three kinds of monsters that most often plague superheroic types: Natural, technological, and supernatural. There are also a few proper supervillains who emerge over the course of the series, but revealing their identities would constitute a spoiler. 

In terms of notoriety and longevity, A-Force might not yet be mentioned in the same breath as the X-Men, the Justice League, or any of the other tentpole superhero organizations. But clearly, they can take on the same variety of enemies. A-Force has range, and the enemies to prove it.

Remember the all-female scene in Endgame?

So, there's a scene in Avengers: Endgame that only takes up about 15 seconds of its three-hour runtime. Technically, only one thing — a very theoretically uncontroversial thing, at that — happens within it. Still, this moment made major waves. We're talking, of course, about the moment that occurs after Spider-Man hands Captain Marvel the Infinity Gauntlet, glances over at Thanos' army, and says, "I don't know how you're going to get it through all that." Scarlet Witch enters the frame and tells him not to worry, which Okoye confirms, saying, "She's got help." The camera then fills with the women of the Avengers, gathered together to kick some alien butt.

This turned into a serious resource for online take-slingers. Was it a good scene?! Was it an underwhelming scene?! Oddly, not many fans wondered whether or not Captain Marvel really needed backup in order to burn through space aliens, even though that does seem like the sort of thing she manages all by herself on a routine basis.

Fans and critics sometimes refer to this scene as the film's "A-Force moment," due to its incidental connection to the all-female comic. Given the questionable likelihood of the in-comics backstory of Battleworld ever emerging on the big screen, that 15-second scene in Endgame is probably going to be the closest thing to a proper A-Force movie the MCU ever produces. Or maybe not? After all, a Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise exists ...

A-Force on the silver screen

Ever since that ladies-only pose-down happened in Avengers: Endgame – in addition to the circulation of a partial cast picture in the same make and spirit — the online rumor mill periodically floats the notion of an A-Force MCU movie existing somewhere within the in-development ether.

Now, nothing's impossible in the MCU. However, we can't help but notice that internet rumors regarding superhero cinema tend to get more mileage than they deserve. While an all-female Avengers movie sounds logical and fun for everyone who's into that sort of thing, Marvel is likely to have other projects on the horizon they're looking to first. The inevitable X-Men reboot, for instance — there's just no way Disney's going to leave Marvel's money-making mutants on the bench for long. There just isn't any real sign of an A-Force production in the cards right now ... but that doesn't mean a fan can't speculate.

For one thing, Captain Marvel is very much a known MCU quantity. She-Hulk is part of the Disney+ MCU crew. And hey, that Runaways show didn't pan out, but it sure did bring Nico Minoru to the small screen. That's a solid chunk of the team right there, already introduced. In a world in which WandaVision exists, is any Marvel property really too weird for the MCU? We say no. So stay strong, A-Force fans — the future is unwritten, and a silver screen Singularity would be cool as all get-out.