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Marvel Super Heroes #18

Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009
By: Ray Tate

Paul Tobin
Ig Guara, Sotocolor (c)
Marvel Comics
In the midst of a supernatural attack, the Avengers add Nova and another hero to their ranks. These Avengers are not your familiar team. Iron Man, Cap, and Thor serve as the core. The Vision drifts on the roster, but former Fantastic Four member the Invisible Woman also stands among these heroes. Along with Nova and the mystery member, she alters the traditional dynamic.

"Blue Blazes!" I used to enjoy Nova. That enjoyment ended after his original series, which includes issues of The Fantastic Four and Rom faded. His stint in the New Warriors did nothing for me. In fact neither did the New Warriors. I tried the first attempt to recapture the magic, then the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning series. I found both unpalatable.

Paul Tobin's Nova is the best I have read since the original gave up his powers for the sake of Xandar, the planet from whence his powers came. Nova interacts humorously and naturally with his brother Bobby and his brother's girlfriend the Fortean-minded Fran. He's youthful, refreshingly optimistic, and lacks the smugness that some writers foisted on the character's persona. He's much closer to what I remember him to be.

Sue gains a puckish sense of humor, and Tobin develops Sue and Cap in a Clouseau/Kato relationship. In other words, when the investigation slows, Sue attacks Cap, and he retaliates in the sparring. It's a rather charming diversion.

Marvel Super-Heroes features the kind of plotting I like to see. Heroes interact with heroes, uncover a mystery, and protect the innocent. The dialogue between Iron Man and Nova is hilarious. Vision curtails a needless battle when Thor responds to Nova's inadvertent dive-bomb. The Vision and Sue talk about the nature of emotions. Sue and our mystery hero bond, as she renews acquaintances with Cap and exhibits the abilities of her namesake. The mystery woman gives comedic advice to Nova, and the heroes give different, often novel, reasons for sticking together.

Ig Guara's style does justice to a classic Nova and adds realistic flourishes to the design of the characters. He embellishes details such as built-in kneepads to the mystery guest's costume. Her uniform wrinkles like Cap's red, white, blue, and Sue's color-clashing jumpsuit of navy blue, olive green and mauve. Two of these shades must die.

The changes are more than superficial nuances. Guara's artwork issues a welcoming atmosphere. The heroes actually look like people in costumes. They all bear distinctive scale and proportion. The women ironically look more sensual in Marvel Super Heroes because a master of the face's many expressions, natural anatomy, and body language has graced them.

Whereas last week's all-ages Black Widow and the Marvel Girls was a debacle Marvel Super-Heroes exemplifies what Paul Tobin can do at his level best. Thanks to Ig Guara, everybody looks different, like unique cartoon characters rather than cookie-cutter muscle men and vapid looking women. Sotocolor also mirrors this softer approach through an acrylic palette, but only the color-blind would wear Sue's jumpsuit.



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