Sunday, 5 April 2009

Two to read

A brief couple of recommendations for you: Secret Warriors #3, in which a World-weary Nick Fury leads a team of super-powered greenhorns against the might of HYDRA. And Captain America Comics #1, a Marvel 70th Anniversary special which partly retells Cap's origin story.

Secret Warriors is ACE! A Marvel mash-up of classic super-team and espionage comics that manages to evoke the feel of the silver age Fury books, while at the same time being as innovative as a modern day Marvel comic can be.

Writer Jonathan Hickman is putting together a tight and intelligent story that hangs on a really big, fresh juicy idea. I don't want to spoil things by revealing his hook - suffice to say it's a proper universe changer!

All of which means that while Secret Warriors will work well in trade, it's important enough to the future of the Marvel U to merit a monthly audience. Of course, the fact that Hickman writes a mean single issue helps - there are no wasted words here, but there is still plenty of meat in those 22 pages to command more than the usual 10 minutes of attention that most comics take to read. 

Artist Stefano Caselli also deserves a lot of credit. He etches years of experience into Nick Fury's face, maintains a consistency of style that makes it easy to follow a large cast of characters, and draws some kinetically charged fight scenes that demonstrate a good understanding of visual storytelling. 

Mention must also go to colourist Daniele Rudoni, who gradually tones down the palette over the course of issue #3, until all colour disappears and we are left with a black and white comic which drives home Fury's increasing sense of urgency and focus. A top read and a proper, sharp Marvel comic - just like they should be.

Captain America Comics #1 is written by James Robinson. But while his story is every bit as readable as you'd expect it to be, the fact that we've already seen Cap's origins re-examined elsewhere (Mythos, The Ultimates) mean that it breaks little new ground. 

What makes this such a special comic is the art by Marcos Martin. It's not just the fact that he draws so well, it's the things that Martin does with his layouts that make him worthy of your attention. Right from the off here, he's playing with conventions, placing cap outside the panels on Page 1, using thought bubbles to draw the eye across the page on page two, and later,  in a beautiful double-page splash, walking Steve Rogers through a 40s street which stands frozen in time. It's beautiful stuff which channels the likes of Ditko, Eisner, Kirby and Cooke. 

It's so easy on the eye, that it seems almost effortless. But when you look at the vehicles, the buildings, the clothes and the hairstyles of the characters it's clear just how much research Martin has put into getting the look of the period right. Not only that, but he's drawn the weediest pre-super soldier serum Steve Rogers ever! The man is a genius. Best artist working in comics today. FACT!

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