Writer(s): Marc Guggenheim, Stuart Moore, Rich Koslowski, Kathryn Immonen, Nelson
Artist(s): Dave Wilkins, Clayton Henry, Andrea Devito, Stuart Immonen, Nelson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Story 1: A series of seemingly unrelated events begin a mystery.
Story 2: Patsy Walker’s destined to meet other Patsy’s.
Story 3: What could be Spidey’s worst nightmare since The Clone Saga!
Story 4: Michael Pointer’s story continues from the pages of Omega Flight.
Story 5: Alicia Masters gushes over her man who to others is a monster.
Commentary: I desperately want an anthology series to work. I fondly remember the 80 and 100 page giants that Marvel and DC used to put out back in the swinging 70’s and then the first iteration of Marvel Comics Presents - which started out promisingly enough but which just became a storehouse for throw-away stories from not so talented talent. With the price of paper and comics as a whole these days I fear the 80-100 page omnibus of comics’ variety are destined to remain a thing of the past. So, it’s with much consternation I picked up this inaugural issue of the new Marvel Comics Presents.
Wrap around quality cover with a striking and colorful visual of Marvel’s mightiest heroes and villains stampeding into action? Check. Top quality art and writing talents? Check. Plenty of words and pictures devoted to each segment? Check. So far so good Marvel. I’m willing to buy this book past issue number one for the same reason I did the first time around. You are starting out on the right feet! First off, I love Campbell’s crazy and kinetic pencils on the cover and the coloring brings these etchings to life so that they fairly leap off the page. Believe it or not, what actually attracted me to the series in the solicitations was the cover and especially Magneto exuding power in the background. Even though he doesn’t appear in this issue (as most of the characters don’t) a Magneto visual is a welcome thing for me since his disappearance after House of M.
The cover reflects what this series is supposed to be, mainly, a variety show. The cover itself is part of that variety. Taken on its own it’s nice poster material even though all the characters don’t take part in the internal stories. The first story which, according to the cover, is supposed to be entitled “Vanguard” has photorealistic art by Dave Wilkins. Marc Guggenheim gives us an engrossing opening chapter and prologues which somehow leads to (of all things) The Watcher as suspect number one in the killing of who is for now a John Doe. We don’t know if this is the beloved Uatu or another Watcher but Guggenheim and Wilkins combine international intrigue, crime noir and a touch of science fiction to good effect. I think we’re in for something of a wild ride with this installment.
Next up for our female viewers comes the first installment of a Hellcat story which has great visuals and coloring from Immonen, von Grawbadger and McCaig. Patsy Walker isn’t drawn cheesecake style like on the cover but slim and athletic like you’d think a fashion conscience super-heroine would be. I never really followed Patsy’s stories but her comments of her life seem comical and interesting enough for anyone who has and somehow there is magic and dopplegangers involved in this story. I doubt this’ll be my favorite of the ongoing stories but it’s a hoot for the female readership being told by a woman with a woman’s insights into life.
A solo Spiderman story follows by Stuart Moore and Clayton Henry and Mark Morales where Spidey encounters The Galactic Alliance of Spidermen. You’ve got to see this crew to believe it (or not). The various takes on the Spiderman name and costume are hilarious as is the dialogue supplied by Moore. The whole thing is a parody of so many comics staples and Spiderman lore in particular. For example, the various universes that this force patrols are referred to as Neighborhoods. The monitor they use is called “The Neighborhood Watchboard”. We’re introduced to Doctopoids which are, “Ancient, soulless machines with multiple advanced degrees!” and on it goes. Thankfully, it all turns out to be a dream, we think. As a one time entry this is funny stuff and we believe it’s the kind of nightmare Peter could have.
There are a couple of downsides to the issue. One is that both the Hellcat and Spiderman stories involve duplicates of our heroes though they are different in tone and substance. It takes away slightly from the variety factor this book is supposed to have. The next one involves the “Weapon Omega” story by Rich Koslowski an Andrea Di Vito. It looks as if it’s supposed to be a 12-parter and I’m not sure the fate of Omega Flight and Michael Pointer in particular is all that interesting to readers as a whole. I for one did not pick up the Omega Flight mini and this story doesn’t make me want to. So, I’m entering into this piece at a bit of a loss and nothing that happens here is all that engrossing. Michael’s powers are going wonky, USAgent behaves like the macho jerk he always been and in a top secret facility Michael starts to feel better while an imprisoned nameless redheaded woman feels worse. Obviously these Pointer and the Jane Doe are related somehow but I found myself feeling, “Who cares?”
The final story is a stand alone by Nelson showcasing the relationship between Alicia Masters and everyone’s favorite ever-lovin’, blue-eyed, Thing! It’s a heartwarming tribute to the Thing expertly drawn by Nelson. Nelson shows us what one very talented writer and artist can do all by his lonesome and if kept that’ll be a welcome part of the blessed variety of this book.
Final Word: Taken together there is just enough quality and difference among all of the stories in this anthology book to make a good start of it. Hopefully Marvel can keep up the quality and not turn this into what it became before.
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