The House of Ideas is no Spring chicken, and there’s no better place to commemorate decades of Marvel magic than The Marvel Rundown! This week the publisher is launching two new series in celebration of their 80th anniversary. The anthology title Marvel Comics Presents returns with a trio of terrific tales, while a new Invaders #1 reunites the World War II era team for a new adventure. We’ve got thoughts on both of these books in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Marvel Comics Presents #1
Written by Ann Nocenti, Greg Pak and Charles Soule
Illustrated by Tomm Coker, Greg Land and Paulo Siqueira
Inked by Oren Junior and Jay Leisten
Colored by Frank D’Armata and Michael Garland
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by Arthur Adams
Alexander Jones: AJ, Joe, The House of Ideas is turning 80 and the powers that be at Marvel are celebrating by bringing back some classics like Marvel Comics Presents. History aside, were this anthology’s stories worthy of the publisher resurrecting such a classic Marvel title?
AJ Frost: I’m going to be honest. When I saw the little preview screen that said that Marvel Presents another Wolverine book, I basically rolled my eyes. How much paper can they keep dedicating to Logan? It’s getting incessant and a little annoying. But once I started reading the story, I changed my mind pretty quickly. This anthology is actually really intriguing and, dare I say, a little more daring than your average Marvel title. It’s all still part of the superhero milieu, but the limiting structure of the anthology means there is the license to be a little bolder in storytelling choices, especially if its standalone material. So, in this case, I was really heartened that my initial response was totally wrong.
Joe Grunenwald: I, too, was extremely skeptical of the need for this book going in, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the overall package. It wasn’t perfect, but it made a case for itself by the time it was over.
Frost: That’s an excellent summation of this book, Joe. There’s so much packed in these three mini-arcs that readers are definitely going to be entertained in a way that lives up to the Marvel brand.
Jones: There are lots of things about the issue that are interesting, but as an overall package I’m not sure it had the impact Marvel wanted it to. First off, the approach to the issue with the mini-stories set in different time periods definitely made the stories unique. I like how each story has a similar feeling and aesthetic despite how the book hopped genres so wildly. There isn’t a bad story in the issue, but I think the Namor and Logan stories are a little dull and don’t carry the endearing nature of the Captain America entry. What was everyone else’s favorite story in the book?
Grunenwald: I actually found the Cap story to be the weakest of the bunch, which surprised me given of the three characters featured he’s my favorite. The Wolverine story intrigued me as set-up for that serial, but I thought the Namor story was the strongest. That story may have the benefit of pairing nicely with this week’s Invaders launch, though.
Frost: The Namor story was really well done. He really just intrigues me because of his history, so to see him still be utilized today is such a treat. I enjoyed Logan’s Nazi occult story, because nothing is finer than a bunch of Nazi scum getting their just desserts. Definitely agree about the Captain America story though, Joe. It was the weakest of the bunch, though not bad by any means. Just kinda… meh.
Jones: As usual, I will be the odd man out and enjoy the maligned Captain America story. It is definitely interesting getting to see these characters as history icons. I almost found that the entire package of the story was almost more akin to what DC is publishing in how the characters are almost represented as accidental history icons. I’m not sure if either of you got that vibe or that approach to the work.
Frost: I didn’t catch that vibe. What do you mean by “accidental history icons?” As in, the creators didn’t know that these characters would continue to have an impact decades after their creation?
Jones: Yes. Seeing these character in different timelines and having them still be relevant over almost eight decades definitely has an impact for me.
Frost: That’s definitely why I find Namor so fascinating. He’s been there since before Marvel Comics was an entity at all. That he continues to be featured in stories is really special.
Grunenwald: I can see where you’re coming from, Alex, and I get that a little bit from the way the different stories are presented. The Namor story is a “Marvel Age” story, playing into the idea of the Marvel U as ‘the world outside your window’. I’m very interested to see what other “Marvel Age” stories will be included in future issues. Alex, what was it about the Cap story that elevated it for you above the others?
Jones: The relationship between Captain America and Kelly was pretty endearing for me. I liked Steve’s reaction to the rest of the cast members and how he kind of understood Kelly better than her mom did. He didn’t want her to do crazy stunts but he encouraged her to keep going. I really liked the complicated tone writer Ann Nocenti struck. The Greg Land art on the storyline was definitely really generic and disappointing.
Grunenwald: It was certainly a different kind of Cap story to what I’m used to seeing. It didn’t work for me as well as it did for you, but I can appreciate what Nocenti was going for. And who knows, maybe with a different artist I would’ve felt differently about it.
Frost: Can we just say how creepy and overly serious the Logan story was? It was a ton of fun!
Grunenwald: The Logan story was solid all-around. Paulo Siqueira and Oren Junior’s art set a perfect tone, which came together really well with Soule’s very weird story.
Frost: Weird is an understatement. It was bizarre as hell!
Jones: The vibe was definitely strange on that story. I thought it was a much more interesting approach to a Wolverine comic than most creators would apply. The art from Paulo Siqueira was some of the best overall in the issue. Frank D’Armata’s more muted color palette definitely worked for me in this story better than the others.
Frost Totally agree with you there, Alex!
Jones: As an aside, it is really strange for me to see how visually cohesive this comic is despite having so many hands and creators working on it. Tomm Coker and Michael Garland’s art on the Namor story fits with the rest of the stories really well. While Land’s contributions on the Captain America story are the weakest of the bunch, it still fits with the rest of the title in a really cohesive manner for me.
Frost: There is a lot more freedom to stray from the regular Marvel style here. Maybe just a coincidence that these artists share tastes and similar aesthetic qualities?
Grunenwald: Part of that cohesion may also be thanks to D’Armata, as he colored both the Logan and Captain America stories. Whatever the cause, it worked for the most part.
Jones: D’Armata’s palette can be really muted and dull. I thought his work paired nicely with Siqueira on the first story, but left something to be desired for me in his Captain America effort. I think this special is for a certain kind of fan of these characters who is looking for more old-school adventure stories with these heroes. Do either of you have any final thoughts on the title before we award a verdict on Marvel Comics Presents #1?
Frost All around, this is a fantastic issue to pick up if you’re curious about Marvel’s unique brand of storytelling. There’s no prior continuity to really have a grasp of. And for that reason, I give this issue a BUY.
Grunenwald: I’d give this one a BUY as well. Three stories for five bucks isn’t a bad deal, and the takes on the characters featured are certainly unique and mostly well-executed.
Jones: I like this issue and what it is trying to accomplish but just don’t feel that it is essential. If you are looking for an old-school Marvel story this one is definitely worthy of a BROWSE verdict from me.
Final Verdict: AJ and Joe award Marvel Comics Presents #1 a BUY and Alexander says BROWSE!
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Illustrated by Carlos Magno and Butch Guice
Colored by Alex Guimarães
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover by Butch Guice and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Reviewed by Joe Grunenwald
It’s been a few years since Marvel has had an Invaders title on the shelves. The team of World War II era heroes Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Namor, and the original Human Torch last headlined its own series back in 2015. It’s fitting, as Marvel is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, that the team which features some of the publisher’s earliest heroes should return for the festivities. These characters have decades of history behind them, and if the first issue of the new Invaders series is any indication, the new creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno, and Butch Guice will be exploring new aspects of that history and pushing the Invaders in an interesting direction.
Strange things have been going on with Namor for the past few months, both in his recent appearance in Avengers and in the Namor: The Best Defense one-shot (which was written by Zdarsky and drawn by Magno). Invaders #1 hinges on those occurrences, and Zdarsky lays the groundwork for starting to make sense of the character’s behavior in a way that’s interesting and relatable. Namor is a character that I’ve never personally cared for in the past, but this issue goes a long way towards changing that, which is a feat in and of itself. The reason for the team coming together is a personal one, which is a somewhat refreshing change of pace as far as team origins goes. They’re not doing it to stop some alien invasion; they’re coming together to help a friend, because they’re the only ones who can.
Magno and Guice’s art is top-notch throughout. Magno provides art for all of the modern-day happenings of the issue, while Guice handles a series of World War II flashbacks that are integral to the what’s going on in the present. Guice has previously done WWII flashback work during Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, where he was working with a lot of the same characters as he is here. It’s nice to have that little bit of art continuity to help bring familiar readers into those flashbacks more easily. Magno’s current-day art is detailed and expressive. There’s not a ton of action in this issue, but what there is pops off the page thanks to Magno’s dynamic page compositions. Colorist Guimarães ties the disparate styles of Guice and Magno together well, providing a level of visual cohesion to the overall reading experience.Invaders #1 is a strong first issue for the series. The team has a compelling, character-driven reason for coming together, made all the more urgent by the fantastic twist at the end of the issue. The creative team is firing on all cylinders right out of the gate, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Final Verdict: BUY if for no other reason than I like Namor now.
Next week, the Guardians of the Galaxy return!