If you’re feeling emotionally hung-over from Avengers: Endgame, then you’re probably hankering for something soothing, and I have just the recommendation for you, my sweet, sad FANGRRLS: The Cosmic Quest books by Brandon T. Snider. These books are light, they’re easy to read, and they explore the lives of non-superheroes in the lead up to and the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War. And, best of all, queer people get to kick ass too.
Released slightly over a year ago, The Cosmic Quest is a pair of middle grade tie-in books for the MCU. The first, Volume One: Beginning, explores the adventures of the Collector and the Grandmaster as they are reunited after the events of Thor: Ragnarok. It turns out they’re brothers, which explains their similar eccentric behavior and great taste in coifs and coats. The second book, Volume Two: Aftermath, takes place after the events of Avengers: Infinity War and follows Dr. Erik Selvig and Darcy Lewis of Thor fame as they try to figure out why half the population disappeared. They end up taking an epic road trip with a young scientific-minded kid named Felix Desta, whose parents were both taken in the snap, aka the “decimation event.”
While both books introduce queer characters into the MCU’s canon, it is in Aftermath that queer characters play a major role.
When half the planet disappears in an instant, Earth’s humans are left wondering what could possibly have happened. (Apparently the effing Avengers didn’t think they should tell people about Thanos?!?!) Selvig, who you may recall has struggled with linear thought since being possessed by Loki’s scepter (which contained the Mind Stone), finds himself trying to pull together a team to help him investigate a “shift in the Cosmos.” Unbeknownst to Selvig or his companions, he’s also embarking on a quest to save the world.
But, you’re not here for a recap of this fun middle grade book. No. You want me to tell you about the Science Avengers. Well, hold onto your butts because they’re pretty awesome.
Of course, the team includes some familiar characters including Selvig and Darcy, and even eventually, Jane Foster (who doesn’t know that her time-traveling ex is visiting her elsewhen). Selvig and Darcy recruit a team of Selvig’s former friends, former colleagues, and former students to help stop another catastrophe from happening. Enter some of the coolest people in the science game.
Felix Desta is the first recruit and joins the team almost by accident. He meets Selvig at the motel where Selvig is staying. Felix works for the motel owner as an unaccompanied minor in a world suddenly filled with unaccompanied minors. Despite being abandoned and struggling with the loss of his parents, who were scientists and immigrants from Ethiopia, Felix trusts his intellect and proves himself to be quite the scientific prodigy.
Anjelica Tan worked with Selvig at P.E.G.A.S.U.S. where she studied the Tesseract. The book implies that Tan and Selvig might have been more than friends before Loki messed with Selvig. Tan is an exceptional astrobiologist who once worked for NASA, and since the decimation event, she has been working at a S.H.I.E.L.D. storage facility where she oversees many original documents and dangerous artifacts. So what if she keeps “a web of small, cloaked satellites surrounding the planet that inform [her] of changes in weather patterns and other strange occurrences?" That probably doesn’t mean she’s the coolest, most badass person at S.H.I.E.L.D. (Narrator: It does.)
Anoki attended Culver University where they met Selvig, who mentored them in the Theoretical Astrophysics program. They were brilliant yet humble, and also had great potential to be a big name in their field, but they were always more interested in personal growth. So, when an app they invented made a lot of dough, Anoki withdrew from society to live high up on a mountain. It is Anoki who helps Selvig recover the piece of his soul that was stolen by the Mind Stone by providing him with a homemade medicinal brew. They are also the one who suggests Selvig visit the Water of Sight. (You are forgiven if you don’t remember the Water of Sight. It’s a pool of water connected to the Norn. Selvig visited it with Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron.)
Bisi Banyaga, aka the Reverse Engineer, was a brilliant engineering student at the University of London where he and Selvig were students. Selvig went on to become a teacher and Bisi, despite many offers from S.H.I.E.L.D., made engineering his hobby. While explaining exactly how Captain America survived his plunge in the ice, he indicates that he’s got a thing for Cap, but especially for Stucky (the ship name for Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes). He’s cool-headed, brave, and calls his homemade tools his babies.
As Selvig meets with each of his former compatriots, they each turn him down, unwilling to help him in his crusade to protect the planet from an on-planet threat. But, just when he needs them, the Science Avengers assemble!
The Science Avengers are diverse in many senses. Some are queer, some are people of color, some of women, and only one character is a straight, white man. Aftermath probably won’t shock you with its plot, but it is well written and has done wonders to queer up the world of the Avengers.