Editor's Note: Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 6.
"Call Me…The Uranian!"
It's kind of strange that, so soon after cancelling the main Agents of Atlas title, Marvel is suddenly publishing all sorts of spin-off material, including backups in The Incredible Hercules, the upcoming Avengers Vs. Atlas, and this series, which details the origins of one of the main cast. One can't really complain about so much content related to one of Marvel's best recent series, but even more so than the infatuation with characters like Wolverine and Deadpool, the fear of diminishing returns looms.
Luckily, while this might not be the same as seeing the continued adventures of the Agents, it's not at the "too much to care" level yet. Jeff Parker uses this opportunity to delve into the history and personality of one of his more enigmatic characters, and it should be interesting to see how he is fleshed out over the course of this miniseries. As presented here, when he first came to Earth as a hero in 1950, he's brash and excited, full of energy and cheer, which is a far cry from the cold, near-emotionless alien on the present-day version of the team. What happened to change him, and how did he affect the burgeoning age of heroes to come? Parker offers some hints of all that here, with Bob Grayson showing up from space in a high-tech rocket to fight off a supervillain piloting a sort of prototype version of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, then embarking on a heroic career in New York City, with the help of the crew at Timely Comics, who help him out by replacing the clunky sounding name he chose for himself, The Uranian, with one more appropriate for the times: Marvel Boy!
It's an interesting look at Marvel's past, both as a fictional setting and a publishing company, but the artwork by Felix Ruiz doesn't seem mired in said past at all. It's a fascinatingly scratchy and messy-looking style, perhaps bearing some influence from Bill Sienkiewicz, and while it might not seem like the most obvious choice to detail the adventures of a space-age interplanetary hero, it works well to emphasize the alien nature of Grayson and his fellow Uranians. It's pretty exciting stuff, especially in the opening battle, which is full of crackling bolts of lightning, dazzling explosions, and flashing energy. But the character work is nice as well, which distorts weirdly to emphasize emotions. It's quite unlike any other superhero book you're going to see on the stands.
And to round out the package, the issue includes reprints of two early adventures of the character, including his first appearance, which presents a slightly conflicting origin story whose differences are ignorable in comparison to its bizarre plot about a new continent rising from the ocean and some pirates trying to kill a bunch of gill-people. The other story is even crazier, ignoring Earthly matter entirely so Marvel Boy can solve a political dispute between Uranus and a planet called Satania, demonstrating his homeworld's peaceful ways by kidnapping their princess. That'll show 'em!
As with any extended story, the final outcome remains to be seen, but judging by this first installment, it's more of the expected Jeff Parker quality. He's got his characters figured out, so given the chance to explicate them, he's probably ready with charts, graphs, and EKG readouts. There's little chance of faltering here. And if we get wacky old comics thrown in, only the better. This originally seemed like it might have been a fairly unnecessary outing, but Parker fans needn't have worried; he's delivering the quality as much as ever.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!