Review: 'Marvel Boy' delivers mature action, innovative storytelling, and a willingness to mess with an audience’s preconceptions

A comic review article by: Paul Brian McCoy

With Grant Morrison’s announcement that he was going exclusive to DC and that Marvel would not be publishing a sequel to this series, I thought it was high time to take another look at it, and maybe get some other people interested. Because, you know, misery loves company. This title was Morrison’s introduction to the Marvel universe (not counting Skrull Kill Krew); his first unleashing of chaos on the conceptual landscape that helped define pop art from the sixties on. What we have here is a character named Noh-Varr, who is the only survivor of a trans-reality skimming Kree vessel, shot down on an alternate Marvel earth and itching for some payback. Noh-Varr is a force of anarchistic destruction similar in psychology to the classic Namor, back when he was trying to destroy the surface world every few months but still had a noble flair and was much cooler than the heroes stopping him. The central villain, a multi-trillionaire named Dr. Midas, wearing an old-school version of Iron Man’s armor to help control his “Midas touch”, gives megalomania a brand new face. And his daughter, Oubliette, a leather fetish wet dream with guns and very little conscience, is a whole new brand of romantic heroine.

What is most entertaining about his series is the way that Morrison uses the history of the Marvel universe. Everything from Iron Man’s armor to sixties monsters; from gamma-ray-induced super-soldiers to Dum-Dum Dugan as head of SHIELD; from insect powered heroes to super-penitentiaries. It is all in here at one place or another. And Jones’ art is fantastic at conveying it all. His style is realistic and his layouts are inspired. Every page bristles with energy and the story moves along at a pace that actually keeps up with the imagination of the writer. Morrison is throwing out ideas right and left here, maybe more than he’s done in any other book (except maybe The Invisibles, or The Filth). There’s a reason that this series was retroactively included in the Marvel Knights line. It embodies everything that line is supposed to be: mature action, innovative storytelling, and a willingness to mess with an audience’s preconceptions. Even after three years this book still holds up for me. This is the sort of thing Marvel should be putting out on a regular basis if they expect to retain the title “House of Ideas.” I will mourn the loss of Marvel Boy 2. “Too cosmic” indeed.

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