Overview

Marvel Comics Presents Vol. 2 #1

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Marvel Comics Presents Vol. 2 #1

Credits

  • Words: Marc Guggenheim, Kathryn Immonen, et al.
  • Art: Dave Wilkins, Stuart Immonen, et al
  • Inks: Dave Wilkins, Wade von Grawbadger, et al.
  • Colors: Tony Washington, Dave McCaig, et al.
  • Story Title: Vanguard, The Girl Who Could Be You!, et al.
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 19, 2007

Marvel’s long-lamented anthology returns for a twelve-issue monthly series, featuring wild stories about random characters by top-notch creative talent.

I admit, I was a ginormous fan of the first run of Marvel Comics Presents.  It wasn’t always a quality book, but it was constantly surprising, and it offered up adventures too oddball for most major titles, characters too lower-tier for fans to have the chance to read of them anywhere else, and it spotlighted new and untried talent in bite-sized little chunks of comic book goodness.  The relaunch differs in a few key ways: this new series is limited, running only twelve issues in all, and it’s monthly, unlike its previous incarnation which held a bi-weekly publication schedule.

That second part is a major issue, because it’s key.  Each story inside MCP runs a mere eight pages in length, meaning that beyond the self-contained one-offs, the multi-parters are going to be slow torture for fans to follow on a monthly basis.  The original MCP recognized this dilemma, and its longevity (a staggering 175 issue run, a lifespan unheard of for a US anthology) was primarily thanks to its bi-weekly status.  Eight pages per—even at twice a month that totals only sixteen pages of product for each recurring creative team, eight pages shy of what a normal monthly would demand.  How difficult could it have been, then?  If DC can publish a weekly series (two of them, in fact, back-to-back) why couldn’t Marvel have reinstated this title with its original bi-weekly release schedule?

Nevertheless, monthly it is, which is ridiculous, but the stories within the new MCP are all worthy successors to the original, and definitely surpass many of the stories that appeared in Volume One’s twilight years.  Most of the talent is well-known, or at least currently “hot,” though a smattering of names are new to the mainstream field.  It begins with…

Vanguard by writer Marc Guggenheim and newcomer Dave Wilkins.  This is part one in a twelve-part saga (spanning the entire run of the series).  The Vanguard character is a golden  oldie, but this looks to reinstate new blood into the role.  Guggenheim’s script is serviceable, well structured though it unapologetically sounds like an episode of CSI: Miami or 24 or something of the like.  It’s part political-thriller, part murder mystery, building toward the introduction of, I’m assuming, a new Vanguard.  But the wonder of this tale definitely lies in Wilkins’ art—a gorgeous display of Ariel Olivetti style beauty, coupled with colors by Tony Washington that allow for a fully painted final effect.  Wilkins’ is definitely going to move on to greater things.  Remember the name.

Next comes The Girl Who Could Be You! , a new multi-parter starring Hellcat and written by Kathryn Immonen with art by fan-faves Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger.  While Stuart and Wade are industry standards, Kathryn puts forth her first foot into the comic field, and while she seems an arguably strong writer, the actual story herein falls flat.  It’s meant to showcase Patsy Walker’s (or is it Patsy Hellstrom?) frivolous side, turning her into a kind of Catwoman meets Betty and Veronica, which is amusing for the first two or three pages, but the flavor grows tiresome as the tale journeys ever on, and not a single aspect more of character or event comes into play.  Worse, the story is “part one,” meaning there’s more, which I can’t say I’m thrilled about.

Third on the roster is Unfriendly Neighborhood by Stuart Moore and Clayton Henry, a tale featuring Spider-Man and…his intergalactic squad of Spider-Men.  While a fan of both Moore and Henry, I didn’t think I’d like this little one-shot short, knowing it would be snarky and irreverent but likely little else besides.  The duo surprised me though by offering up some highly imaginative moments within the usual inside-joke humor, and ultimately the tale stands as a very weird sci-fi “What If…?” rather than just one overlong (even at eight pages) Spider-Man roast.

Weapon Omega by Rich Koslowski and Andrea DiVito comes next, and along with Vanguard seems to be this series’ flagship epic, a twelve-part saga featuring the new Guardian introduced over in Omega Flight.  Koslowski is best known for his much-lamented The 3 Geeks and the disturbing mature-readers graphic novel Three Fingers, though this’ll mark his first foray into mainstream spandex.  He’s paired with the imminently talented Andrea DiVito (from Oeming’s run on Thor and the follow-up Beta Ray Bill series Stormbringer ) and the duo look to produce a truly exceptional action-adventure…with a little horror-filled twist.  Koslowski’s script is funny, but not overly so, and he’s able to transition into darker territory fluidly, allowing for a fleshed out super-hero thriller that looks to be deadly damn good.

To Love a Man, Not a Monster is the final offering, a one-parter written and drawn by the inimitable Nelson.  For an artist, Nelson proves that he’s got writer’s chops as well, more so than most writers, in fact.  By far the most all-around satisfying story in issue #1, Nelson’s poignant look at the relationship between Alicia Masters and Ben Grimm/The Thing is wonderfully told, sympathetic without ever tumbling into sentimentality.  And his art, of course, is phenomenal.

Marvel Comics Presents is off to a good start, though with two twelve-parters and the series announced to run only twelve issues, that takes a ton of the fun out of guessing “what’s next?”.  Add to that the fact that it’ll be a full year before those longer epics reach their conclusions, and MCP Volume 2 isn’t quite the wonder it wants to be, definitely not what it should be.  I’m happy to see it back, but if Marvel’s going to do a book like this, they need to be brave enough to a) make it ongoing and b) bi-weekly, so that c) readers can be just as enthralled by the stories and the possibilities as they were in the past.  In its current form, however, I admit, it’d never last more than twelve issues anyway.

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