Marvel Premiere 2 (May 1972)

Ladies and gentlemen… the writing stylings of Roy Thomas! Yay! Yay! Oh, wait. Umm. No. Not yay. I suppose if someone wanted to read some really bad seventies young person counterculture dialogue, he or she could read Roy Thomas’s Adam Warlock story. It’s painful to read. And eventually painful to see too. It’s another issue where Gil Kane’s art falls apart after a certain point. There’s this private detective who Kane draws terribly, but also disturbingly. He looks like an evil, poorly drawn Peter Lorre. Oh, and the villains. The villains are these giant animals–a rat, a snake–and Kane butchers them. It’s…

Girl Comics 1 (May 2010)

Marvel should have tried harder with Girl Comics. It’s way too easy just to say, Girl Comics is bad comics. The opening from Colleen Coover is weak. It’s so trite, the story featuring Nightcrawler getting saved by a nameless woman (writing by G. Willow Wilson, art by Ming Doyle) doesn’t seem so bad. The writing’s weak, but the art isn’t. The next story, a Venus story (which breaks Atlas continuity), is okay. Trina Robbins’s script is okay and the Stephanie Buscema retro good girl art is nice. Valerie D’Orazio and Nikki Brown then do a surprisingly effective Punisher tale. It’s contrived, but…

Namora 1 (August 2010)

Other Atlas members get limited series from Jeff Parker, but Namora just gets a one-shot. It’s not even Atlas branded, it’s “Women of Marvel” branded. It seems like a sexist move (I’m sure it’s just a business one—female characters don’t sell enough to have their own series at Marvel). It doesn’t help Parker doesn’t exactly have enough story for even a one-shot either. Oh, there’s some stuff here with Atlantis and some stuff with Namorita, but Parker isn’t revealing anything new or interesting about Namora here. He writes first person narration and there’s not a single moment of surprise. She likes breathing…

Atlas 5 (November 2010)

So, either Parker wanted the story to go six issues or eight. It’s hard to tell. I imagine if it had gone at least six, he wouldn’t have needed the three pages of text he uses in this one to move the story along. As a prose writer… Parker should stick to comic scripting. As for the final issue… it’s a little defeatist. I imagine Marvel’s unsympathetic to another Atlas series, but Parker kind of throws in the towel for the final few pages. Nice work all around though—Rosanas and Hardman do well—so does Parker one a story he pencils and inks.…

Atlas 4 (October 2010)

Poor Bob. This issue reveals he’s really a lot more alien than he’s let anyone know, keeping his appearance hidden. Parker hinted at it in the Gorilla-Man series, but it didn’t make sense until this issue. But that revelation is just another reason to love Agents of Atlas. Parker does a beautiful job on the humanity of his characters, it’s just fabulous. Once again, he changes gears and Atlas works again. A little action to resolve last issue’s cliffhanger (Mr. Lao helps) and then some thinking and investigating and then Rosanas takes over the next part of the story. It might have…

Atlas 3 (September 2010)

Huh. It’s hard to say what Parker’s doing or why. He basically drags a quarter of an issue’s worth of story out to an entire issue—the bad guys infiltrate the Atlas headquarters, nothing else important happens. He ends it on a hard cliffhanger with Venus shot and Namora possessed. There’s some investigation into 3-D Man’s story (I’m still not sold on how good an addition he is for the series) but it’s drawn out. It does give Hardman a wide variety of things to draw… but that opportunity shouldn’t dictate the narrative. Parker’s still got the enthusiasm for the characters (3-D Man’s…

Atlas 2 (August 2010)

There’s the Atlas I love. Parker brings back everything great about the series (the serious tone with the humor, Mr. Lao having something going on he forgets to tell Jimmy about) and adds 3-D Man to the roster. The issue’s pretty simple—we get an introduction to the team as 3-D Man tries to escape (including some additional revelations about Venus), an origin recap, then a mission for the team and a set-up for the next issue. What’s wrong has nothing to do with the content (Hardman gets some beautiful stuff to draw this issue). No, it’s when it’s happening in the series…

Atlas 1 (July 2010)

Parker does something very strange for the first issue of Atlas. He barely features them. There’s a backup with the team in the fifties, which helps, but the primary story belongs to 3-D Man, a character I’m unfamiliar with. He’s got ties to the fifties too, so I guess he sort of works, but giving him the entire issue doesn’t. Also, Parker has a very strange narration for it. He narrates with 3-D Man talking to, near as I can tell without going back and checking, a guy in a coma. Except, of course, he’s talking to the guy in his head,…

Gorilla-Man 3 (November 2010)

Parker plays fast and loose with the logic for the conclusion. Not for the flashbacks–which is careful not to overlap the previous Gorilla-Man origin–but for the modern stuff. It ends on a strange note, showing Ken to maybe be Parker’s strongest Agent of Atlas. He’s able to make profound statements and tell crude jokes and have it work. The looseness is to get the story done quickly. The pacing is good, but Parker could have used another issue. The flashback material is compelling and begs for more attention. Some questions frustratingly go unanswered–even in the modern part, a side effect of the…

Gorilla-Man 2 (October 2010)

There’s a little bit of action (in the modern story) at the open of the issue, then it’s a trip down memory lane. Parker makes the connection between Ken, his past and his current mission rather quickly; I’m glad he didn’t try to keep it for a surprise. He’s able to cover a lot of history here—even though the origin of Gorilla-Man (as a gorilla man) probably won’t be part of it. It’s interesting to see how Parker deals with Ken’s timeline. It seems like if Parker had more issues, he might have just told the story without the frames. It’s solid…

Gorilla-Man 1 (September 2010)

Parker sets the series (presumably, at least the first issue implies) in modernity. It’s in between Atlas titles, with Ken on an Atlas mission to Africa to stop some bad guy. That part of the story isn’t the most interesting, of course. The most interesting is the flashbacks to Ken’s childhood Parker peppers the issue with. It gives a look at his early history—and some part of it will likely tie in to the modern story because it’s a comic book limited series, after all. The drawing factor isn’t the plot, but the charm Parker brings. Ken’s not an absurd character— Parker…

Agents of Atlas 6 (March 2007)

Parker ends Agents of Atlas with M-11. It’s very appropriate since he’s been the biggest mystery of the series and to the team members. There’s something incredibly tragic and beautiful about the character; Parker goes for it and succeeds. It’s too bad M-11 couldn’t carry a limited of his own. The issue itself, setting Jimmy and the team up as Atlas, is a talking heads book. There’s action and layered narrative, so it doesn’t seem like a talking heads book… but it is one. The big surprise is a surprise, even with the hints, the main one–which would have occurred in the…

Agents of Atlas 5 (February 2007)

And here again, Parker does the improbable. The issue has a relatively short present action, something like a half hour. Maybe a little more, but the big part of then issue isn’t long, as watched on a clock. Well, actually I’m wrong–it’s indeterminate. Parker sticks with Derek as a narrator, which brings–I’m realizing for the first time–the human angle. Jimmy’s the only other regular person, but he’s too extraordinary to be a good narrator. Instead, Derek–already an outsider since he’s from Wakanda–provides a great perspective; he’s earnest, not at all naive, and human. It’s through Derek’s narration, the reader gets to see…

Agents of Atlas 4 (January 2007)

Oh, Jeff Parker, how I love thee. This issue–this modern Marvel comic book–takes place over a week. Maybe even a few days more than a week. Parker resolves the previous issue’s cliffhanger, brings in a new character, has two big action sequences and has time for character development and a bunch of summary action scenes. Derek narrates the issue, bringing a bunch of humor to it, but Parker also uses his narration to move certain story aspects along. For instance, SHIELD is now involved with the team’s activities, but we never have to see them because Parker is using summary storytelling–and the…

Agents of Atlas 3 (December 2006)

After opening with a nice fight scene–it starts with just Jimmy, then brings everyone in–the issue moves to some Atlas investigating. The book’s title still doesn’t make any sense in the context of the content, which is kind of awesome. I wish I remembered what I thought it meant at this point during my first reading. This issue features the most elaborate flashback so far, as Bob tells everyone his recent history. I think it runs for five pages and they’re just these magnificent summary pages. Kirk handles them beautifully, though it takes a while to catch on the flashback projection means…

Agents of Atlas 2 (November 2006)

Derek, the SHIELD agent, narrates this issue. The result is a more procedural issue, like Parker is trying to keep the reader a few steps removed from the principle characters. He does it a few times, more obviously, in the narrative, like when Venus says hello to a changed Bob. A little about the art. I like Leonard Kirk; I like his superhero stuff. He does a good job on this issue and the series so far, but one of the things about coming back to it after Parker’s gone on with the series–it’s clear Kirk isn’t the ideal fit. He’s really…

Agents of Atlas 1 (October 2006)

Coming back to the first Atlas series is a bigger treat than I thought it would be. I don’t remember much about it, but I certainly didn’t remember Parker uses Gorilla Man as the narrator for the first issue. It’s a nice entry to the setup because–strangely enough–Ken is the most human member of the team. His recollections make this issue immediately distinct, even before the second or third page, when he’s revealed as Gorilla Man. But Parker also sets up the mystery really well. I’d forgotten most of that aspect too–SHIELD is trying to figure out what old man Jimmy is…

Marvel Boy: The Uranian 3 (May 2010)

I guess not even Jeff Parker can make a last issue for a series needing lots more issues work. Parker gives Bob a romance and then takes it away. So cruel. The issue ends with Bob joining Jimmy and the rest of the Atlas team (before they were know as Atlas, right?). I’d completely forgotten he might join up with them before the series ended. I’d forgotten it was a tie-in to something else. I was just so impressive with what Parker is able to do with only three issues. There are a couple problematic things this issue–there’s a very unlikely giant…

Marvel Boy: The Uranian 2 (April 2010)

Oops. I didn’t realize Bob couldn’t fly in the first issue. I sort of assumed he could. The second issue doesn’t have much heroics at the start not based in alien technology (Marvel Boy is an ideal period piece in some ways just because of the sci-fi elements, like a fifties atomic paranoia movie)… I just assumed he could fly. Anyway, Parker makes it into a really neat plot point. Right off, we meet Bob’s father for a bit. My questions about him and his relationship with the Uranians are immediately answered. Then we get Bob on a date, where he reveals…

Marvel Boy: The Uranian 1 (March 2010)

It’s hard not to look at this comic and not think Omega the Unknown. Ruiz’s art is a little too indie for Marvel, just like the art on Omega. And then there’s the whole comic book influence on Marvel Boy, the character. Parker does a lot of different stuff here–I mean, he packs more story into the issue than he does even an Atlas issue–so I feel bad mentioning the comparison… but it’s sort of there. This series is, apparently, a revised origin, getting in all the new revelations. Reading the Uranians plotting against earth and an unknowing Bob is kind of…

Avengers vs. Atlas 4 (June 2010)

Each issue of Avengers vs. Atlas ends with an Atlas backup, which is appropriate… since it turns out, the series isn’t actually an Atlas book. I mean, it’s fantastic and I recommend it highly, but it’s an Avengers book. Boiled down, it’s a love story, full of enthusiasm and absent any of the baggage forty-seven years of stories have saddled on the Pyms. It’s touching, really, and rather sentimental (in a good way). Parker’s able to present the Avengers, in a pseudo-retcon, full of heroic vigor, but never condescendingly. The series plays to all his strengths as a writer (at least of…

Avengers vs. Atlas 3 (May 2010)

Once again, I’m opening with a comment about Hardman, because the comic really leaves no other choice. While Parker constructs this elaborate and complicated story (I don’t even know how complicated yet, but it’s the kind of story–a sequel to a forty-year old story–Brubaker does pretty well and Bendis fails on but does try and Millar creates a monstrosity with–Parker does it beautifully, however, simply beautifully), he also gives Hardman this amazing script to visualize. The action, the talking, it’s just so perfect. Parker’s got all these character interactions going on between the Atlas team–the Avengers are, regardless of Gorilla Man, a…

Avengers vs. Atlas 2 (April 2010)

I clearly don’t appreciate Gabriel Hardman enough. Hardman reminds me of Michael Lark’s superhero work, only without the… moodiness. Hardman’s like a non-moody Michael Lark, at least here he is–I honestly don’t remember finding him so stunning. Maybe I’m just forgetting. Or maybe it’s because he’s got such a great fight to visualize. The idea of Parker bringing in a different group of Avengers each issue sounds kind of silly, but it’s a great idea (so far). Like I said after the first one, he hasn’t got any big Atlas story going here, instead he’s just got those great characters of his…

Avengers vs. Atlas 1 (March 2010)

Why isn’t Jeff Parker writing the Avengers? I’d read an Avengers book by Parker in a heartbeat, even with the strange team line-up they’ve got going. His characterizations here–especially of Wolverine, Spider-Man and Luke Cage (the Captain America is a little nondescript)–are fantastic. It fully accounts for the absurdity of the line-up, but doesn’t let it show stop. As for the Atlas scenes–it’s mostly Atlas, mostly Atlas in fight scenes–Parker does his standard great job. He’s changed things up a bit, since Atlas stories usually have some underlying arc, but here it’s just the regular one–they’re on a mission of break up…

The Incredible Hercules 141 (April 2010)

No. Effing. Way. They rip off a line from Braveheart? Does Marvel even have an editor reading this book? The second or third most recognizable line from a blockbuster Oscar winner gets past the editor? Seriously? Pak and Van Lente are some lazy writers. Though I guess the very non-Edith Hamilton reveal is a bit of a surprise. And I guess I wasn’t expecting Amadeus Cho’s “girlfriend” to be such a useless character. I figured Pak and Van Lente might actually pull that one off all right. Big shock, they didn’t. I think this issue’s the last, which is good, because reading…

The Incredible Hercules 140 (March 2010)

The full onslaught of chatter between Amadeus Cho and Hercules has to be one of the most astoundingly stupid things I’ve ever read. Still, there’s some moderately okay drama in this issue. The art’s still atrocious though, so it’s hard to muddle through. The issue’s pacing is really funny, as the characters are racing against time, only to have more than enough time for everything. And it’s really funny a Marvel comic book ripped off The Dark Knight. You’d think someone would have noticed it. Lots of bad Greek god flashbacks again this issue. I can’t figure out who this comic book…

The Incredible Hercules 139 (February 2010)

Wait, Amadeus Cho is straight? I didn’t want to say they wrote him gay because I thought he might be Marvel’s attempt at a gay mainstream character but if he’s straight… it’s the most incompetent job of someone writing a heterosexual since… well, I don’t know when, maybe… umm… wow. He’s straight, really? And in love with a gorgon? Anyway, this issue is lame, big shock. Lots of wasted pages with superheroes fighting Greek gods, which is boring as all hell. Edith Hamilton be damned, let’s read some Marvel gods. It’s laughable compared to what Perez did on Wonder Woman, but whatever.…

The Incredible Hercules 138 (January 2010)

So Hercules isn’t just a moron, he’s got a weird little Asian sidekick who’s super-smart? I mean, what would Wertham have to say about their creepy little relationship? Actually, it’s not creepy. It’s just dumb. But since the Assault on New Olympus prologue killed off so many brain cells, this issue doesn’t seem as bad. It’s a terrible, terrible Marvel superhero comic. But it’s not like Cable or something. It’s not Deadpool. The Asian sidekick, Amadeus Cho, reads like a sidekick from an eighties television show. Like if “Automan” had a little kid sidekick. Oh, wait, he’s Short Round. There’s some fighting,…

Assault on New Olympus 1 (January 2010)

Marvel dumped the Hulk from his own title to give it to Hercules? Hercules? He’s an idiot. Reading this special, the Hercules part, is like watching a moron bumble through some superhero adventures; it’s so stupid, it’s sad. Also sad is the artwork, Rodney Buchemi is a practical–since when did Marvel decide it was all right to run these amateurs on their B-titles. This guy isn’t ready for a Fruit Pie advertisement, much less a lengthy comic book. His Hercules is just goofy, but his Peter Parker is just awful. And, as my first unmarried Spidey book in a while… wow, de-aging…

X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas 2 (January 2010)

Wait, what? Okay, I get it. Agents of Atlas can’t make the grade sales-wise so there need to be team-ups–Parker’s the best writer Marvel has working on their mainstream stuff right now (sorry, Ed, but I can’t forgive some of the Daredevil and X-Men lows)–someone realizes it and doesn’t want him to jump ship to DC, who wouldn’t appreciate him, but he more jibes with their stuff anyway. This issue reveals the whole series just to be an Atlas comic. It’s got nothing to do with X-Men other than as a McGuffin. I mean, whatever, I get it… but still, it’s shameful…