Friday, 19 October 2012

Young Avengers, Ant-Man & Forge: One Last Look At "Marvel Now! Point One" (2 of 2)

In which the blogger continues a look - begun here - at the storytelling used on the opening page of each of Point One's six features. Spoilers of a typically minor kind lurk here-in, so do be careful; 

         
4. Miss America, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton et al et al

Miss America: The New World also kicks off with a shot of a young superhero flying over New York City. But unlike the preceding Nova feature, artist Jamie McKelvie succeeds in producing a representation of the city that's immediately recognisable. What's more, he also subtly emphasise that this is the Manhattan of an alt-Earth as well. That's in many ways the least of the panel's virtues, but it is worth mentioning that McKelvie's produced a take on New York that evokes the city itself rather than the comics-shorthand version that tends to be used as a shortcut by less meticulous artists. Yet what's most impressive is the way in which McKelvie's used his cityscape to manipulate his reader's responses. The sight of a superhero soaring above a tableau of skyscrapers has become such a commonplace over the past seventy and more years that it's effectively lost its power to surprise and impress. Yet by ramping up the sense of vertigo in his composition, the artist accentuates how absurdly remarkable the very fact of Miss America's flight is.

A disturbing sense of a terrible, unsurvivable fall is initially created by constraining the reader's gaze to the top quarter of the untypically deep frame. The composition guides us in sequence between the three points of the triangle that's made up of the caption frame, Miss America and the Statue Of Liberty. That short, closed journey tells us where we are and who we're to be concerned with, and yet it also sets us up for the reader's equivalent of a precipitous fall. Our arrival at the many Ladies of Liberty introduces us to a series of vertical integrators which immediately work to speedily haul our eyes downwards, and that's a journey which doesn't stop until the bottom of the panel and the page. It's not just an aesthetically satisfying image, but a highly effective example of storytelling too, with a suggestion of vertiginous anxiety there to add a touch of jeopardy to what might in other hands have been a solely decorative, emotionally flat panel. It's eye-catchingly spectacular, which always helps for an opening image. But it also immediately establishes its star as an impressive, graceful character who can experience and control a situation which would leave most of us feeling paralysed with terror.

   
The second panel underscores that point by smartly establishing how insignificant that anxiety-inspiring fall is to Miss America. That she's powerful and confident enough not to need to nervously slow her fall is shown by the fact that her first two poses are practically identical to each other; this isn't a character who needs to be especially cautious about returning at speed to ground-level. The sequence of fire-escapes she's passing help to both establish the velocity and scale of her journey downwards, as well as grounding her in yet another recognisable version of reality. (When was the last time Koreatown was not just referenced in a superbook, but convincingly and respectfully depicted too?) Everything about McKelvie's design suggests an artist who's committed to thinking about their craft rather than simply drawing on habit and stereotype. Even the detail of the carefully depicted moment of her deliberately balanced landing, and the turn of a surprised pedestrian in response to it, helps ensure that the page ends on a note of anticipation. What might have been a taken-for-granted, lethargic shot of a superhero's return to earth instead helps create a sense of who and what Miss America is while also generating the novelty and fascination to keep the reader watching.

Kieron Gillen's sparse script takes second place to the momentum of the visuals here, but that doesn't mean that his contributions serve no purpose beyond providing the rich inspiration for McKelvie's artwork. The opening declaration that we're on "Earth-212" (*1) is the first in a series of reader-snaring enigmas, each of which raises the reader's curiosity. What is Miss America doing on an another Earth? How did she travel there? Who is that's contacted her and what information were they searching for? To the reader who knows something of the up-coming Young Avengers title, there'll already be a context to start to make sense of these questions. Yet there's nothing on the page to exclude those who lack a fannish sense of what's to come.

To the question "what's slumming?" might be offered the evidence of this page, which is unpretentiously everything that slumming's not.

*1:- That may just be a subtle nod to Morrison and Yeowell's Zenith, while the second panel just might contain a homage from McKelvie to Frank Miller's Daredevil. Perhaps.

 
5. Ant-Man, by Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Laura Allred et al

Unashamed to be warm-heartedly sentimental rather than just fanboy-fashionably grim, Matt Fraction and Michael Allred open their contribution to Point One with a sweetly intimate scene showing Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie two somewhat different approaches to art. It's a charming piece which draws much of its warmth from the way in which it shows how a parent can express their love even when they can't make themselves clearly understood. Starting off with a playful shot of Ant-Man breaking the fourth wall to introduce his own strip, Fraction seems keen to be breaking with some of the more constrained, angsty traditions of modern-era comics storytelling here. Yes, there's an excess of grief to come, but there's also a discussion of the ways in which grief need not lead to the cliches of vigilante justice. It's a sense of a writer gently pushing the typical givens of the sub-genre which the discussion between father and daughter about Duchamp and the freedom to interpret the meaning of art only seems to underscore. At the same time, this is no cold-hearted, self-conscious indulgence, for its the emotion on the page and not the gameplaying of any possible sub-text which movingly carries the storytelling. The relationship between father and daughter is gently and convincingly played out. In that, Mike Allred's stylistic fusion of the directness and dynamism of late-Sixties Kirby with the tender romanticism of the likes of John Romita has rarely seemed so appropriate and effective.

If there's a problem to the page in all its smartness and compassion, it's that it only ends on a page-turner if the reader knows their Marvel continuity. For those of us who weren't aware that Scott Lang was alive, or that his daughter was dead, there's a fair degree of confusion at work here. But if it's known who these folks are and what their current situation is, then the last panel - showing a photograph freezing the moment of a father and daughter's cuddle-  is a powerful, heart-rendering lure to read on. If not, the momentum of the side grinds to a halt in a sense of closure.What the informed reader will perceive as a tragedy-informing, tale-starting flashback will read as a done-in-one-page personal moment to those outside the loop. For the latter, there's very little reason to push on with any driving curiosity, because what's on the page seems to satisfyingly resolve itself without leaving any questions to be answered. That this first page's final panel sets up an unexpected and splendidly witty resolution to Ant-Man: It's Art shouldn't go unmentioned. But the fact that fan and neophyte may experience the side-closer in different ways is still perhaps worth the mentioning. 

         
6. Forge, by Dennis Hopeless, Gabriel Hernandez Walta et al

We're back to darkened, uninteresting underground passages, tediously colour-drained pallets, glacial plots and a few unbeguiling dobs of exposition in Forge: Crazy Enough, the last of Point One's features. Having already experienced a similar set of disappointing conventions at work on Nick Fury's opening side, it's hard not to wonder who was responsible for ensuring that such obvious repetition was avoided. Regrettably, there's nothing visually or emotionally interesting here either. There's neither spectacle, novelty or action. The backstory lacks anything of interest while there's no compelling foreshadowing at work. There's not even a mildly interesting page-turner. Why is it then, that this page exists? The only possible audience who might find this dirgeful, eventless page compelling would be the tiny niche of die-hard Forge fans, and it's to be presumed that they'd also probably prefer to be entertained rather than just briefly occupied. For the rest of us, the sight of an apparently deranged character babbling to themselves as cliche demands while crawling through a generic, abandoned sci-fi base can offer little likely to appeal. Why would it? On a page in which we learn just three backstory headlines - Forge has been in solitary confinement, Forge hears voices, Forge had forgotten he'd built the base he's exploring - the only fascinating aspect of it all is why a team of creators and editors could possibly think this would be intriguing rather than tiresome. As an advert for the coming Cable & X-Force title, I'd suggest that it'll prove less effective than nine empty pages would. Or rather, dedicated fans will lap this up, but everyone else will probably find themselves less than enthusiastic about the prospect of more of the same.

        

The TooBusyThinking verdict: The Miss America and Ant-Man tales are well worth investing in, and the first page of Star-Lord is a lovely prospect which the rest of the tale sadly fails to come near to matching. The rest really isn't worth the price of entry. $5.99's a great deal of money in these troubled times, after all. Reader, beware, there's good stuff here, but there's a great deal that's not too.

39 comments:

  1. Lovely work, Colin, especially as regards Miss America. I agree, the price is too high for a couple of really rather good stories - I expect they'll be placed on the series-to-come's first trades within the year. Hang on readers!

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    1. Hello Martin:- Thank you. You're right that those introductory chapters will most probably be included in the collections of each book's first arcs. And it is probably worth waiting, although the Miss America tale in particular - complete with Loki, of course - really is enjoyable.

      The collection as a whole could have been far better if most involved had paid just a touch more attention to the absolute basics; visual appeal, the difference between a short story and a longer-form piece, and so on. Odd, odd, and odd again ....

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  2. Also worth a mention is the rendering of Miss America herself in that panel. That's not a simple pose. Again just another nice example from McKelvie using all the available tools.

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    1. Hello Smitty:- Yes, you're quite right. The foreshortening and sense of balance used there really does help create the "trangle" of information at the top of page. It's good stuff, isn't it? Not just enjoyable, but a relief too. It get tiresome watching folks across the superbook who simply don't get the basics, or don't care to pay attention to them. As such, it's always good to see a job well done.

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  3. Fun fact:

    When Miss America lands she is standing under a Korean sign that says "Gangnam Style" in Konglish.
    I got a kick out of that.

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    1. Hello George:- The very idea of that idea - which I'd never have a hope of catching in a decade of Sundays - is enough to make me smile. In fact, I'd enjoy that idea even if it wasn't so :) It's a smile in itself.

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  4. $5.99 is not far off the cost of a 7 issue sub to Aces Weekly. Aces Weekly will entertain and challenge you and is well worth a look. Haha. Love promoting stuff that's worth while and although there's things that weren't to my taste, that's not because they were crap. Davids Lloyd and Hitchcock are worth the price of entry alone and, if nothing else, it shows an anthology can be done well.

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    1. Hello Peter;- I'm a subscriber to Aces Weekly myself, so I'm with you there. And I'm looking for a way to discuss it too. Not as easy as it might look for a bear with a little brain, I fear.

      But I'm also for celebrating the best of the superbook too, and trying, as best I can, to make sense of what makes it so. And I do think the Miss America tale, and the Ant-Man story too, is worth paying attention to. I absolutely do.

      Next up, something that isn't a superbook. And then, something that is :)

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  5. Wait: Scott Lang is back and Cassie's dead? Goddammit! I liked Cassie! Also, the idea of a parent living while a child dies is too painful. I hate it when children are killed so that adults can get angsty in fiction, especially super-hero comics. I wanted to read the Ant Man story after page one, but I don't know if I could handle it now.

    Anyway, the (possible)good news is that short stories from anthology comics are usually reprinted in trades featuring the main characters, so my eventual purchase of the first Young Avengers trade should include the Miss America story.

    - Mike Loughlin

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    1. Hello Mike:- Oh, I'm SO with you. The idea of using a dead child to motivate a surviving parent is abhorrent. It takes a dead heart, or a hugely inexperienced mind, to use such an ugly trope for cheap thrills. Luckily, Fraction seems to be aware of the problems with the situation he's inherited. As I tried to express, he seems to be writing in a way which acknowledges that angst and yet uses it in a way that's not a typical frontier-justice grimfest at all. It's a difficult job he's taken on there, but I'm with him if this prequel says anything of how he'll continue.

      And, yes, hopefully these tales will eventually be collected. I wish I could have recommended more than a third of the compilation's contents so that Point One was 100% worth buying.

      But I can't :-(

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  6. I think Mike Norton did the backgrounds for the Young Avengers story, though I'm not sure exactly how the workload was split between him and McKelvie.

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    1. Hello Mory:- Thank you. I did in fact credit Mr Norton at the beginning of the section of the Miss America art. Since, like you, I was unsure of the exact contribution he made, I focused on elements such as the page's fundamental composition.

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  7. Another Colin Smith20 October 2012 20:14

    It's also worth pointing out that 212 is the primary Manhattan area code, so that Earth-212 Manhattan is Manhattan Squared.

    Gillen may also have had this in mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Jv9fNPjgk

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    1. Hello Colin:- Ah, you spotted what I didn't, so three cheers to and for you. Azealia Banks does indeed seem to be an inspiration to Mr McKelvie, as a quick check of his Tumblr indicates, and therefore - no doubt - one to Mr Gillen too. I'm grateful to you for the nudge :)

      I may be out of the loop here, but I'm exceedingly pleased that this is comics which relates to a broader culture beyond the super-book. Huzzah.

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    2. Another Colin Smith21 October 2012 00:06

      Yeah, as far as allusions go, the contrast between this and Loeb's Kents insert is pretty striking both in terms of transcending Comics Provincialism and being relevant to character and story.

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    3. Hello Colin:- That's an excellent point, that really is. I wish I'd made it. But I just didn't spot either reference. One because it was entirely irrelevant to the story at hand and necessarily distracting; you have to disengage from the tale at hand in order to make sense of it. The other because I didn't know the cultural reference. Yet the Miss America was entirely transparent even without the inter-textuality. That's the kind of comics I admire.

      "Comics Provincialism"? I like that :)

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  8. Another Colin Smith21 October 2012 10:35

    Thanks! And you're absolutely right. The reference should never get in the way; the story NEEDS to stand on its own.

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  9. Oh my word - that Ms America page by McKelvie is absolutely superb. I want it now. It's just a shame that four out of the six tales appear, at least from your review, turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

    I'm similarly enamoured with the Ant-Man page. The line "and sometimes silly is okay too" stands out and I hope that's Fraction and Allred's self-conscious mission statement for the upcoming FF series (in contrast with the usual Big Two fare).

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    1. Hello Ed:- Well, two good short stories and a fine first page don't a collection make, and yet those aspects of Point One really are worth reading. Four of the stories - to my own opinion, which I fully accept is unsublimely subjective - are disappointing, and that's simply because they seem to ignore one or more of the most basic aspects of craft. By which I mean, there was nothing wrong with the basic ideas at hand, but the lack of emotion, clarity, density, visual appeal and so on undermined them. That I do find a confusing business, but there we go. The good stuff is very good indeed.

      I'm hoping that you've nailed an aspect of the upcoming FF series too. I did say in the above that there seems to be some purposeful gameplaying in the Ant-Man strip, a sense that what the current market expects needn't be all that occurs in a comic's pages. Fingers crossed. I'm certainly going to check out the opening issues of FF, and I will admit, I wasn't going to. Not out of any prejudice, but simply because of time. There's so much to read, as I know you;d agree, and the super-book is just a tiny fraction of it.

      But the fact that I am going to buy into the new FF makes the point about the importance of these introductory issues.

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  10. 1) I love that Miss America page (though I have no idea who she is, new character? Seems almost DCish!)

    2) I was going to ask if Scott Lang was back to life or if the scene above is a flashback, but it seems the answer is both! And that Cassie is dead!! I can only shake my head. While 'Stature' was a terrible name, I liked the continuity between her character as sickly little girl that her thief-turned-superhero dad takes care of, to Young Avenger.

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    1. Hello Mr Oyola:- I too - as I guess is obvious - loved the Miss America page. I know little of her history as a character beyond a vague recollection that she was a member of a recent and unsuccessful team of teenage super-folks.

      In what's going to be a reply that can only agree with your points, I too find myself surprised by who's alive and who's dead in the Lang household. I also regret that Cassie appears to have killed off. What a waste of a fascinating character.

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    2. If it's any measure of comfort: nobody stays dead in the MU, least of all in a Fraction story (ha! Seems I still resent Fear Itself). I wouldn't be surprised if (as you said in your reply to me above Colin) there's some measure of game playing with Cassie - establishing an motivation for Lang and teasing the possibility that he would use his new-found access to outrageous tech/power as part of the FF to bring her back.

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    3. Oh don't worry, Cassie's been dead months now. I'm opening a sweepstakes on her resurrection. By Christmas next year, I reckon.

      (Is it me, or are these stupid 'captcha; things getting ever harder to work out?)

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    4. Hello Ed:- Of course Fraction's done some really promising work since the appalling Fear Itself, what with Everything Burns and Hawkeye and Ant-Man. But I'm with you, it's hard to shake off the memory of the dreadful FI. Still, the new stuff does seem VERY promising and quite different ....

      Would I like to see Cassie back? Pushing aside the fact that I never knew she was gone, I guess so. Perhaps her death was a wonderful and necessary piece which justified her departure from the MU. But given that I loathe the idea of having children killed off when their parent/s are around for the angst of it, I'd prefer a reset button instead of respecting a daft passing.

      I guess I'll only know when I track down the death scene. I assume Young Avengers, I'll check it out ... Reluctantly ...

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    5. Hello Martin:- Months, you say? Perhaps she's in that dimension where Nightcrawler and the Wasp are trapped. You know, the one where REALLY good characters who should NEVER have been killed off get squirrelled away for the stubborness of it all.

      Honestly, who was so misguided - I'm being polite there - as to kill off those characters?

      (Those captchas ARE becoming impossible. Leaving a comment at your place about Batman recently took me - to my shame - about 8 or 9 tries. Pah and sigh ...)

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    6. Here's my review of the death issue - that page I put up is interesting considering what's happened since:

      http://dangermart.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/avengers-childrens-crusade-8-review.html

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    7. Hello Martin:- I must have read your review. I read all your reviews, after all. I have a memory of feeling that what you were describing re: the last two issues seemed to clash with what I was interested in reading about. Your enthusiasm made me want to read on, but I think I just couldn't stick the idea of deaths in the family.

      But I'm grateful for the reference, and I've used the handy search facility on your blood to read the review for issue 9 too. I guess - for a whole variety of reasons - I really must find a copy of the collection, even though I have a sense I can't stick another death or two.

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  11. So is this marvel Earth 616 or the Ultimate Universe or a differnt part of the multiverse because I am totally confused. My favourite cigar chomping WW2 vet now seems to be a youngish bald black guy, my favourite Ant man isn't dead and God knows what else has changed. Is Spidey married again? This is nearly as good as the new 52 for a jumping back on point. Going to visit confused.com and see if they can make any sense of it.

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    1. Hello Peter:- It's the standard-issue MU, though I have no idea how Scott Lang survived being, er, dead. The Black American Nick Fury is Marvel's attempt to have a movie-familiar Fury in the MU; I think he's a kid of the original Fury, and was introduced in a comic so terrible even its title beyond the fact it contained the word "Battle" escapes me.

      I will defend the MU against the charge that it's the New 52. For all its faults as well as occasional splendors, the New 52 makes Marvel look as if its the height of the mid-Seventies and Gerber, Englehart et al are all at their height. Yet as someone who ends up reading a far few Marvel books and reading press releases etc, I do find myself being entirely baffled at times too. Which is probably not a sign of good storytelling, since it presumes that only those in the know are reading ....

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  12. Oh yes and to answer Mr Oyola's question - Miss America Chavez was in the six issue mini 'Vengeance' by Joe Casey & Nick Dragotta. It wasn't a good series in my opinion but it had some great ideas floating around in it and created a few new teen characters like Miss America and Ultimate Nullifier (to varying degrees of success).

    Miss America & Kid Loki have history from this story, and to save you having to read about it I'll fill you in: I cant remember the exact reasons why but he pulls a prank of sorts by banishing her temporarily to a weird hellish dimension and she was none-too-happy about it.

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    1. Hello Ed:- Thank you for the information, you are and always have been an egg.

      There's a teen character called "Ultimate Nullifier"? Seriously? What does he get called when folks need his/her attention sharpish? Nully? Ult?

      I can see why Miss America was so distrustful of Loki now. I had no idea he'd appeared outside of the Thor office's direct supervision. If I had, I'd've been reading it too. (No doubt I missed a nudge printed in JIM. Shame on me.)

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    2. "There's a teen character called "Ultimate Nullifier"? Seriously? What does he get called when folks need his/her attention sharpish? Nully? Ult?"

      Haha! Well there's quite a few reasons he hasn't shown up since Casey's series and I guess that's amongst them. His team tended to call him "U N" which again, isn't very snappy. His whole shtick was being a kind of hipster hero using references to older heroes in "ironically", like wearing the Captain America chainmail with tribal tattoos and naming himself after the FF weapon. A difficult character to like - it's easy to see why he didn't catch on.

      There were good ideas in the comic, and had its moments and felt occasionally like a commentary about how the old guard of villains and heroes should pass the torch, but generally fell short of it's ambitions. To be fair to Casey, it transpired (according to a open letter at the end of the series) that the script was hastily rushed into Dragotta's hands for production so that they could create a six issue mini to provide an excuse to put the six 'classic villain portraits' (painted by Del'Otto) on to some covers. Boy did I feel like I'd spent my money well when I reached the end of #6 and read that.

      I believe fellow TooBusy reader Emmet O'Cuana wrote a scathing review of Vengeance on his site. Either that or we discussed it a lot on twitter and I'm misremembering.


      Needless to say I don't buy comics for their covers any more.

      I can imagine Gillen teasing the 'young heroes fixing the world while the old guard rehash the tired old conflicts forever' concept out of the mini and running with it. If nothing else Vengeance could be seen as the springboard that allowed Gillen's Young Avengers to happen (assuming KG's series turns out well).

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    3. Hello Ed - my apologies for the wait for your kind comment to appear on the blog; I'm afraid it was allocated to the spam section and I've only just discovered it there.

      UN does sound like an interesting character in terms of his function, but he doesn't give the impression of being the kind of superhero who was ever likely to find a wide audience. A great deal of metas - it does sound like fun - can often be more of an intelectually interesting than emotionally satisfying business. And for all I'm curious to read more, I can't see how UN could ever draw a significant audience.

      But then, just a year or two ago, I'd've said that about the worn-through Loki, and the perpetually depressing Daredevil, and they were characters I knew and had once loved. By which I mean, it's not the idea but the story, isn't it? I must read more about Mr UN.

      I am deeply interested in buying #6 in order to read that letter! It sounds like a wonderful miscalculation which ought to be enjoyed, although not if the reader has been buying the previous 5 issues too.

      I have every faith that YA will turn out well. I do worry that the audience which has failed to support a great many fine Big 2 books over the past few years might pass it by, however. Fingers crossed that won't be so.

      But a company which openly declares that it's rushed out a book in order to find a home for some covers deserves little loyalty from readers anyway. Pah and sigh ...

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    4. After reading Gillen/McKelvie's Miss America/Loki short for myself, I would be very surprised if UN didn't pop up somewhere along the way during their YA run. The return of at least a few of Vengeance's Teen Brigade or Young Masters (if that was the name of the villainous kids, I can't remember) is suggestively teased in the MA/Loki conversation.

      Otherwise the only appearances of UN are in Vengeance. He's brash, arrogant, cocky, irritatingly good looking, highly groomed, an ironic hipster, practically shags his way around the late-teen Marvel U, is not melodramatic and does not torture or murder at the first opportunity. By the end of Vengeance he develops away from the male model status but it's hard for me to imagine a straight white male hero that's more thoroughly alienating to a lot of the Marvel fanbase.

      "But then, just a year or two ago, I'd've said that about the worn-through Loki, and the perpetually depressing Daredevil, and they were characters I knew and had once loved. By which I mean, it's not the idea but the story, isn't it? I must read more about Mr UN."

      Couldn't agree more. With that in mind I suspect UN under Gillen could be a truly fascinating and (quite possibly) even a sympathetic character.

      Roll on Young Avengers I say. And the new FF too - I was very pleased with its segment of NOW Point One - which promises to be rather entertaining indeed.

      Regarding your comments about the Nick Fury framing narrative: you're not alone in finding it an alienating experience. Besides the visually uninteresting pages (the text heaviness didn't bother me), there's a problem with new-NF in that he's supposed to be an analogue for Samuel L Jackson's on-screen character yet he for 616 continuity reasons he can't display movie-Fury's defining trait: a commanding know-all authority. Stripped of this and the old-Fury's rich history the new-Fury is instead a strangely prominent generic neophyte badass (with a costume that doesn't fit with everyone else around him of equivalent rank). There's a lot of work to be done to bring him up to speed. Don't even get my started on the comic version of Coulson...

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    5. Hello Ed:- "but it's hard for me to imagine a straight white male hero that's more thoroughly alienating to a lot of the Marvel fanbase."

      Nothing could make me more fascinated to read about a character I was thoroughly cycnical about just 48 hours ago. I'm grateful for the background, and I do find it interesting - but knowing there's a superbloke to tick off the Rumpers just makes me want to see him leading the Avengers. ALL of the Avengers. And the X-Men too.

      Good point about the fact that THIS Fury is a neophyte in an old smug man's shoes, and I can only agree that the Coulson that's in print isn't anything of a wininng smile as far as I can see.

      Re-reading the Spencer tale, I will add that I struggled to get the conclusion without having to re-read the text. A dull, dull story, a lacklustre, unclear ending ... I don't know, what's THAT all about?

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  13. If I remember correctly, Ultimate Nullifier calls himself that as a postmodern reference; he's an arrogant "alpha-dog" kid who claims to be part of a new generation of heroes that supposedly renders the previous generation obsolete by their very existence.


    Miss America Chavez was introduced as one of Nullifier's teammates in that new generation of heroes, she quickly stood out as the most interesting character of the bunch, and having read the series in question I'm not at all surprised that she was handpicked for this new project: after all, strong ethnic female characters are far less plentiful in the Marvel Universe than caucasian alpha-male braggarts. And Noh-Varr was a much better choice for that role anyway, provided they ditch the dreadfully generic black-and-white ensemble that he was cursed with during his Avengers experience.

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  14. Hello Les Fontenelle:- Ah, you remind me that first impressions are very much not to be trusted. You make UN sound like a very interesting character, and explain how the title makes sense in terms of the story being told. Of course, now I want to read more.

    "strong ethnic female characters are far less plentiful in the Marvel Universe than caucasian alpha-male braggarts"

    Indeed, and I love the phrase "Caucasian alpha-male braggarts". It's worrying to think how many super-men that phrase could apply to.

    I struggled with the Noh-Varr in the Avengers run. He didn't seem to have anything much to do with his Grant Morrison origins, or at least, I wasn't convinced that the new and old takes had much to do with each other. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how KG and JM deal with him.

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  15. Once again, glad to see these page one reviews. I guess these stories were all collected in some $5.99 thing? When I first read that number quoted here I thought there were six separate issues of $5.99 they were trying to get us to buy, but then I thought even Marvel hasn't gotten THAT bad yet.

    The Miss America page is awesome, no doubt about that. I can't even imagine how long it'd take to create a panel like that.

    The Ant-Man page is adorable, with just a light touch of the self referential (i.e. art can be silly- well, Allred on art helps that out, and we love him for it.) This is the first I'm hearing of Stature being dead and Scott Lang being back. Looks like I owe someone an apology in regards to the identity of the Ant-Man on the new FF book...

    And, in a stunning turn of events, I like that Forge page too! It looks quite grim, and a crazy guy talking crazy to himself is indeed a cliche storm, however this particular bit of dialogue IS different. It's knowing and funny, and therefore adds a great contrast to that grimness going on all around. I'll take your word for it that the rest of the story was no great shakes, but yes, I definitely like this page.

    So I have to ask: Matt Fraction is the writer on Hawkeye (which I haven't read yet, but everyone raves about, and the panels/article on it at toobusythinking have me convinced), and he started Iron First WITH Ed Brubaker, correct?

    And so why is it that the only thing I picked up by him thus far was Mighty Thor #1, and it was totally lame and I didn't get another issue? What happened there? There's some "Parker Luck" for you.

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    1. Hello Isaac:- Thank you :) Yes, they're all in Point One, sorry I didn't make that clearer. There was a time, I suspect, when there'd have been 6 Point One specials, but even the most optimistic corporate shilling-chaser is unlikely to push any such thing today. Austerity has its advantages, although I would have liked to have seen a full tale from both Miss America and Ant-Man.

      Hah! I too was baffled when I heard Ant-Man was going to be in the new FF. But this has to point out a problem for folks who keep up with things, read some of the Marvel books but don't read everything. It's not the changes in the status quo which baffle so much as the reversals of the same.

      I do like the fact that we disagree on things that I might otherwise regard as a done deal. It keeps me honest :) There is one promising moment in the Forge tale involving ever-expanding brains, but it's one bright idea in a long-feeling short story. Still, it might just be my inability to tune into its appeal which makes me think that ...

      That's the Matt Fraction, who first started off with Indy books such as Casanova. I don't think you made a poor choice in tuning out from Thor #1. This is all my opinion, of course, but MF produced a few years of what I thought was stiff, emotionless stories, culminating in the soulless Fear Itself. Now, whether that analysis is true, his more recent work is far more human, ambitious and witty. Hawkeye is a cool book, his parts of Everything Burns were strong and Ant-Man was enjoyable too. So, hurrah for Matt Fraction. Not because he's doing what my own daft taste prefers, but because he's proven himself capable of a range of different styles and he's not ended up as one of those one-note writers who find an approach to storytelling and stay there forever.

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