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newuniversal: 1959 #1

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008
By: Thom Young

Kieron Gillen
Greg Scott, Kody Chamberlain
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: newuniversal: 1959 #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, July 30.

For everyone who has been reading Warren Ellis's recent newuniversal series (the first series that was abruptly canceled as well as the new series that picks up where the first one left off), the newuniversal: 1959 one-shot by Kieron Gillen provides some interesting background information to the world that Ellis has created in the primary series.

We see some of the characters from Ellis's story operating in the 1950s (not just 1959). Gillen is obviously following Ellis's notes as he fleshes out some of the background details following the 1953 "Fireworks" event that was a forerunner of the White Event depicted in Ellis's work. If you have no idea what I'm referring to in my previous sentence, then this book is probably not for you.

The major problem with this one-shot issue is that there really isn't a "story" here--just background information that can help you appreciate Ellis's story more. Nevertheless, this issue is well written in terms of dialog, transitions between scenes, and all of the other mechanics of narrative fiction. Similarly, it's very well illustrated by Greg Scott and Kody Chamberlain.

Thus, since I'm interested in Ellis's newuniversal story, I enjoyed this well-written and well-illustrated issue of background information.

My only other complaint (and it's minor) is that this parallel Earth's Tony Stark built his Iron Man suit to escape from a Vietcong prison camp in 1959 rather than in 1962--and we're told that the only reason he was able to build such a suit was because he was genetically altered by the 1953 Fireworks event.

Yes, in the newuniversal universe, Tony Stark is a superhuman--not merely a natural genius who built a battle suit.

What really bothered me about this alteration of Stark's history, though, is that we're not told why he was in Vietnam in 1959--which was two years before John F. Kennedy escalated the U.S. involvement in that country. Sure, Eisenhower already had military advisers there, but why would the 21-year-old heir to Stark Industries be in Vietnam in 1959?

Finally, the story ends with the revelation of the existence of a character who would now be in his mid to late 40s in Ellis's story. I have no idea who this character is in Ellis's story, and I have not yet gone through the issues to try to figure it out. However, it has made me want to look through the earlier issues, and that's a good conclusion to this one-shot.







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