Agents of Atlas

Marvel Premiere 2 (May 1972)

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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 like he can’t draw anything but regular people. Worse, the art all starts good and then plummets.

It’s a confusing story. Thomas loves to overwrite.

There’s a Jimmy Woo backup too, from Jack Kirby. It’s not any good, but it’s mildly interesting as a fifties relic.

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Girl Comics 1 (May 2010)

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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 also sort of great.

Lucy Knisley has a cute Doctor Octopus cartoon.

Then it’s Robin Furth and Agnes Garbowska doing an illustrated text adventure for the Richards kids. Garbowska’s art is fantastic, making up for the rushed text.

Devin Grayson and Emma Rios’s X-Men finale is awful.

CREDITS

Introduction; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Colleen Coover. Moritat; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Ming Doyle; colorist, Cris Peter; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Venus; writer, Trina Robbins; artist and colorist, Stephanie Buscema; letterer, Kristyn Ferretti. A Brief Rendezvous; writer, Valerie D’Orazio; artist, Nikki Cook; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Ferretti. Shop Doc; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Lucy Knisley. Clockwork Nightmare; writer, Robin Furth; artist and colorist, Agnes Garbowska; letterer, Ferretti. Head Space; writer, Devin Grayson; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Sana Amanat, Rachel Pinnelas and Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Namora 1 (August 2010)

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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 sometimes. Whoop-de-doo.

It’s an okay enough issue. Parker’s competent, even when he’s uninspired, and Namora’s a fine protagonist. Sara Pichelli’s art is also somewhat uninspired; at times it’s manga-influenced, but mostly not and the unsureness is no help.

Namora deserves better attention.

CREDITS

Lost at Sea; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Sara Pichelli; colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Sana Amanat and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 5 (November 2010)

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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. Actually, I think Hardman has the most problems, but he’s got the most compressed part of the story.

There are some really good moments in here for the team (Bob’s very non-traditional superhero is a surprise).

I just wish it’d been a stronger series overall.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man. Part Six; artist, Ramon Rosanas; colorist, Jim Charalampidis. Part Seven; artist, Jeff Parker; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Part Seven; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Breitweiser. Writer, Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 4 (October 2010)

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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 worked better if Parker had used that breakdown each issue (Hardman handles one half, Rosanas another).

The story’s moving in an unexpected DC “Crisis on Multiple Earths” direction… it reveals, once again, Atlas is a great DC series at Marvel.

Parker and company produce a fantastic issue.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man. Part Four; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. <Part Four; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 3 (September 2010)

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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 presence aside), but I can’t say the same thing for his plotting. It’s like the Atlas backups in Hercules changed up his pacing style.

Atlas feels off.

The Rosanas illustrated backup about M-11, however, is a lovely little recap of M-11’s origin.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man, Part Three; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. The Human Robot; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 2 (August 2010)

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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 run. This issue is a first issue, not a second. 3-D Man becomes very likable here, not puzzling like he was in the previous issue.

The backup, illustrated by Rosanas, is also very nice. It’s not so much fun as just well-executed.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man, Part Two; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Department Zero, Part Two; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 1 (July 2010)

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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, not in actuality.

Some of the writing is strong as usual, but it’s as though Parker willfully sucked all the charm out of an Agents of Atlas title. It’s a shocking choice.

As always, lovely art from Hardman… he just doesn’t have anything interesting to draw.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man, Part One; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Department Zero, Part One; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gorilla-Man 3 (November 2010)

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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 loose logic.

There’s a lot of brief action too. Caracuzzo has a great scene with Ken knocking people around with a giant log.

I can’t believe I forgot–it opens with Ken talking to a gorilla. For some reason, it’s a beautiful, quiet scene.

Parker does a fine job.

CREDITS

The Serpent and the Hawk, Part Three; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Jim Charalampidis; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby, Michael Horwitz and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gorilla-Man 2 (October 2010)

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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 stuff, the flashback to the thirties and forties.

The issue ends on a soft cliffhanger but it’s a good one.

The Caracuzzo continues to work (it might be better this issue). Though, since it’s Tom Fowler style, why not just get Tom Fowler on the book?

CREDITS

The Serpent and the Hawk, Part Two; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Jim Charalampidis; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby, Michael Horwitz and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gorilla-Man 1 (September 2010)

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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 plays the idea of a Gorilla-Man against the content. Even if the opening is some fantastical art thief with a bunch of beautiful henchwomen (Ken recruits a few for Atlas, of course).

Caracuzzo’s art is decent and a fine match.

It’s off to a good start.

CREDITS

The Serpent and the Hawk, Part One; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Jim Charalampidis; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby, Michael Horwitz and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 6 (March 2007)

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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 original adventures of the team–isn’t present. Parker constructs not just a great ending and perfect setup for future issues, he creates a space where he can just let the characters talk to each other.

It’s a fantastic issue, a perfect close to the limited series and even more.

CREDITS

The Master Plan; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 5 (February 2007)

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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 why this team is so spectacular. He even talks about it if they aren’t paying enough attention.

Oh, I haven’t gotten to the more issue specific plotting stuff. Parker fits the redemption of one character and the secret origin of another and a big fight scene in here.

CREDITS

The People’s Leader; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 4 (January 2007)

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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 narration–so well.

The titular Atlas organization finally shows up, for real, this issue too. So Parker spent about half the series getting the team together. And now he’s going to finish the story in just two more issues.

It’s so nice watching his masterful plotting.

Just a treat.

CREDITS

Return of the Queen; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.