It’s a week of endings and beginnings in the latest Marvel Rundown. First, Marvel finally gives Sue Richards her due in the very first Invisible Woman headlining series! Do Mark Waid and Mattia De Iulis do justice to Sue’s solo spy adventures? Then, the dust is still settling on Marvel’s most recent event, and the publisher is already preparing for what comes next. War of the Realms: Omega #1 gives readers a glimpse of a few of the new series spinning out of the event, and puts a bow on at least one outstanding storyline. We’ve got discussion of both of these books in this week’s Marvel Rundown!

Invisible Woman #1

Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Mattia De Iulis
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by Adam Hughes

Alexander Jones: Joe, Susan Storm, the Invisible Woman is spinning off into her own series. What was your take on the opening chapter of the series which I found placed a surprising emphasis on her days as a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent?

Joe Grunenwald: I’ve been looking forward to the Invisible Woman mini-series since it was announced a few months back. Mark Waid has a strong grasp on each member of the Fantastic Four, particularly when they’re interacting as a team. It’s exciting to see him focus in on Sue in a solo capacity, though, as that’s not something that I’m used to seeing for that character. I’m happy to say this opening issue didn’t disappoint on that front.

Jones: I agree and found the title to be a solid outlet for Sue. Giving an arguably overlooked character to someone like Waid who has such a strong foundation on the hero is a safe choice for Marvel. I really enjoyed the grounded pencils from Mattia De Iulis. Waid and De Iulis took a pretty huge risk with that action-oriented opening scene which I’m also curious to get your take on?

Grunenwald: I appreciated that Waid and De Iulis opened the issue by dropping readers right into the middle of one of Sue’s espionage missions. It was fun to try to catch up to what was going on and who the disguised characters were. That scene also did a nice job  establishing the relationship between Sue and her occasional fellow spy/partner. The scene could easily have been placed later in the issue as a flashback, but opening the issue with it was a stronger choice. How did you feel about it?

Jones: I was not particularly fond of the setup. I definitely appreciate how that moment establishes the core conflict and themes of the title, but was a little bored and confused by the sequence. The first half of the book established the tone really well. The spy mission did seem slightly derivative. I did like the opening from an artistic standpoint.

Grunenwald: I think it was intended to be a little confusing, but it’s too bad you found it off-putting. What did you think of the rest of the issue from a script perspective?

Jones: The sequence was definitely meant to be confusing and I certainly commend Waid’s ambition. I did find Sue’s reveal before the opening sequence a little cheesy as well. I think my favorite part of the issue was seeing the clever ways De Iulis and Waid show Sue interacting with the rest of the Richards family. There are tons of visual gags and exciting moments here. Getting to know Sue in the context of S.H.I.E.L.D. was also a welcome change of pace for the character. I liked the second half a lot more even though I did find the ending to be abrupt.

Grunenwald: The ending was abrupt, but only because I wanted more right away. I’m interested to see what happens with the character who shows up, who’s also one Waid has a history of writing. The artwork from De Iulis throughout the issue was exceptional. His work first came to my attention on the digital Jessica Jones series, even if it was a little ‘house style-y’ for me, so it’s nice to see him having evolved more or less past that into his own unique look with this series. I particularly appreciated the way his coloring represented Sue’s abilities. The opening sequence and the effect of the snow on a pair of invisible people was also something I’ve never seen done with Sue before from both a story and a visual standpoint.

Jones: I think De Iulis is pretty well suited for a noir story. It is interesting to consider how Waid was blending those elements to craft a story with a Fantastic Four member. I don’t think I find De Iulis to go exactly in the ‘house style’ that you mentioned only because I feel like his pencils are very casual. I think De Iulis crafts interesting page layouts and characters. I wish his art had had the chance to be more psychedelic, but hopefully future issues will satisfy that request.

Grunenwald: Yeah, it’s definitely less in the house style here than it was on Jessica Jones. De Iulis’s coloring work in particular adds incredible depth and detail to his pages. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on the rest of this series as the story puts Sue in new locales and situations.

Jones: I have a quick tangent to go on regarding interiors lacking detail. I feel that De Iulis can sometimes draw characters that lack expression. When the characters that lack expression are on the pages with scant details his art comes off as simplistic. I want to single out some of the spy scenes in particular. Sue is talking in an office that has a couple of empty picture frames on the wall. Also, I think that Waid’s script is missing a huge antagonist or big plot point at the end of the chapter. That being said, this is a pretty solid and focused title that is good but not great.

Grunenwald: I didn’t find the issue lacking due to there not being a clear antagonist, but I see what you’re saying. I think it’s fun to uncover the mystery of things along with Sue’s investigation, and knowing immediately who the ‘bad guy’ of the series is would remove some of the suspense for me. There are enough questions raised by the end of the issue, even just on the last page, to make me want to come back for more. Is there anything we missed that you want to talk about, or are we ready for verdicts?

Jones: Joe I think I’m ready to deliver a verdict on Invisible Woman #1. I liked the setup and am interested in where the title is going so I’m awarding a BROWSE verdict. I would like to see De Iulis get even more creative with layouts and details and want to see even more intrigue from Waid’s script before I commit to the rest.

Grunenwald: That’s a respectable verdict. I was enthusiastic about this book from the jump and it didn’t disappoint me. Sue Richards is such a rich character, and it’s great to see her have a chance to shine in the hands of a seasoned writer and an artist who’s really coming into his own. Invisible Woman #1 gets a BUY from me with no hesitation.

Final Verdict: Joe says BUY! Alexander says BORROW!

War Of The Realms: Omega #1

Written by Jason Aaron, Al Ewing, Daniel Kibblesmith, and Gerry Duggan
Illustrated by Ron Garney, CAFU, Oscar Bazaldua, and Juan Ferreyra
Colored by Matt Milla, Jesus AburtovDavid Curiel, and Juan Ferreyra
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by Phil Noto

Alexander Jones: Joe, after endless tie-ins and a full mini-series, Marvel is still treating readers to War of the Realms aftermath. What was your take on this epilogue issue connecting the last moments of War of the Realms to some of the upcoming spin-off titles?

Joe Grunenwald: This week had a nice pair of WotR tie-up books, between War of the Realms: Omega and the latest issue of Thor. I must still be basking in the glow of how much I enjoyed the event because I happily read both of those. The Omega one-shot did a surprisingly good job of getting me interested in the spin-offs. Even the Punisher one kind of intrigues me. What did you think of it?

Jones: I really love spending time in Asgard and it boggles my mind to consider how much effort Marvel has applied to Thor’s publishing history. Thor is one of the consistently strongest titles at Marvel. I really enjoyed how this chapter widened the scope of the franchise. I do think War of the Realms is going to affect the books over the next couple years albeit in minor ways. The Heimdall and Daredevil story evokes some of the best writing Jason Aaron has crafted for the Thor title. I found Gerry Duggan’s Punisher entry a little obtuse and weird in an oddly derivative manner. I thought Duggan was a little violent for the sake of violence in his script.

Grunenwald: It was nice to see Aaron put a bow on the Daredevil subplot from the main event series and the War Scrolls title. Of the three spin-off promos, the Punisher story was probably the weakest plot-wise for me, but I really liked Juan Ferreyra’s art on that story. I don’t know what Ferreyra’s process was but it almost looked like he went straight from pencils to colors, or used the lightest inks imaginable, and it gave the whole story a really interesting, unique look. I’m no Punisher fan, but the strength of the visuals almost makes me want to check out the series that story was teasing.

Jones: Juan Ferreyra is an incredibly talented creator and I’m so glad he’s finally making a stronger name for himself. I started to associate him with DC so it is surprising to see him in this context. I think a Punisher title really needs that unique approach to the art to stand out. I still just don’t know if this title is going to work based on the tone. Duggan feels like he is too close to Frank Castle pulling off some truly horrible things. There are a few good ideas in the story and the violence carries a visceral feeling similar to previous Duggan scripts. The Loki section felt a little cute for me as well. I certainly felt that the Loki script from Daniel Kibblesmith is stronger than the Punisher one.

Grunenwald: The Loki story was certainly cute, which is not a bad thing in my book. It felt like a different angle to take with the character, and it seems like it could be fun. I’d absolutely be up for a series where Loki just torments Frost Giants issue after issue. Kibblesmith’s script was light and humorous, and Oscar Bazaldua and David Curiel’s art matched that tone well. There’s not much in the way of action in the story, and Bazaldua’s page composition did a nice job of keeping things from being visually boring. It’s solid work, if not art that grabbed me the way Ferreyra’s did.

Jones: The other stories in the collection were the highlights for me. The refined scripting during the Valkyrie portion was appreciated. Aaron and Al Ewing both do a great job setting the stage for Jane Foster’s new role in The Marvel Universe. I love CAFU’s art and found the script for this story to serve as a great platform for his talent. CAFU is a solid follow-up to some of the visual cues Foster got from Russell Dauterman.

Grunenwald: Of the tales presented, the Valkyrie story was my favorite for sure. It felt the most substantial in terms of character work and plot, like these are pages that could’ve appeared in the actual first issue of that series, as they basically present Jane’s origin as the new Valkyrie. The fact that this part is out of the way makes me more excited to dive into that series. Aaron and Ewing are without a doubt two of Marvel’s strongest writers, and their combined work is a treat. And I couldn’t agree more about CAFU’s art. His linework is crisp, his storytelling clear. It just feels classic to me. Colorist Jesus Aburtov’s work also added great depth and flair to the visuals. On element in particular really pops off the page beautifully thanks to Aburtov’s contributions.

Jones: I couldn’t agree more. In talking about this issue, I think the only big thing we missed is Ron Garney’s impressive pencils on the opening story. Garney has been evolving into an incredibly surreal noir artist. Aaron’s script is really emotional and I think the title carries that tone from an artistic standpoint. It is so fascinating to see silhouettes and abstract shapes on his panels. The story carries a sense of tragedy through the art and pencils that get the point across artistically with a level of elegance. I still can’t help but wish that Daredevil’s story had the opposite ending but I can’t ignore the quality of the chapter.

Grunenwald: Garney’s work here really is excellent. My primary exposure to Garney’s pencils were his late ’90s runs on Captain America and a JLA story he drew in the mid-’00s, and it seems he’s come a long way in the intervening years. He and colorist Matt Milla had a long run on Daredevil a few years ago, so they were an appropriate choice for this framing story, and the quality of their work here makes me want to go back and check out that previous run. I get what you’re saying about wanting DD’s story to end differently, but at the same time the ending we got felt perfectly appropriate for the character. I bet Aaron would write a killer DD run.

Jones: Garney has come such a long way from the pencils in that Captain America book. I hardly feel like he is even that same creator. Matt Milla’s colors have even gotten better. I thought this issue was great artistically as a whole. Do you have any final thoughts on the issue before we wrap it up?

Grunenwald: I think I’m ready for a verdict! War of the Realms: Omega is less of an epilogue to the event than I expected it to be, but it does nicely pick up on dangling threads from the story, either resolving them or putting them in place for spin-off titles. It’s an anthology of trailers for forthcoming series, but it still manages to be a satisfying read on its own. I’d give this one a BUY for that fact alone.

Jones: I’m with you. I think this a strong way to close out the event and start the end of the run. I’ll give this a BUY verdict for the Valkyrie story alone. War of the Realms was a strong event for Marvel that I will hold in high regard.

Final Verdict: Joe and Alexander both say BUY!

Next week, the Age of X-Man draws to a close!