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Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
By: Michael Deeley

Jeff Parker
Felix Ruiz
Marvel Comics
This comic is better than "Siege" in every way.

In 1950, Robert Grayson returns to Earth for the first time since he was a baby. He saves a US Naval base from a prototype Helicarrier, but is arrested anyway. With help from a comic book writer, Grayson starts a new life as the superhero Marvel Boy.

There isn't a single piece of dialogue that's not necessary to the plot. And important plot elements are revealed through that dialogue instead of narration or caption boxes. The story is complete, with an ending that's satisfying and an established foundation for future stories. We have a human viewing human society from the outside, aliens with a hidden agenda, and the metafictional layer of a comic book hero taking advice from a comic book writer. Jeff Parker once again writes a character-driven story that balances adventure, drama, sci-fi, and humor-just what I expect from all comic books.

The art of Felix Ruiz reminds me of the “grim and gritty” comics of the late '80s and early '90s; especially DC's The Question and Vertigo comics. The jagged lines and heavy inking emphasize the feeling of reality. At the same time, peoples' bodies and faces are often exaggerated. The art has an overall "scratchy" look, like a worn-out old film. It's possible that the whole story might be Bob Grayson's memories worn and distorted by time. Val Staples' coloring goes a long way to enhance the mood.

And that's why this comic is better than Siege #1. Half of Bendis' writing can be skipped without missing anything important to the story. Coipel's art is more realistic than Ruiz's. So when his characters have little lines of surprise coming off their heads or their eyes bug out, it looks funny and weird. They also look stiff. Ruiz's work has a better sense of motion. And while Ruiz's work isn't divided into fixed panels, it's easier to follow than Coipel's confusing layouts. But most importantly, ‘Marvel Boy' is about a young hero with high hopes and dreams of a better future coming into conflict with society's paranoia. Siege is about a lying madman leading criminals and an easily-tricked army into a manufactured war with noble gods, which will ultimately lead to classic heroes acting like actual heroes for the first time in years.

Also this story ties into a series I'm currently reading. Can't say that about Siege.



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