In Review: Marvel Comics Presents #1

Nothing in this really stood out as outstanding.

The covers: Five different covers to collect for this premiere, with three being really uninspiring. The Regular cover is by Arthur Adams and Federico Blee. This is outstanding. Wolverine, in his classic tan and brown costume, is running at the reader with claws out. To his back right Captain America is leaping down, while on his back left Namor is doing the same. There’s a massive fire engulfing the background, giving the characters terrific highlights. You can’t go wrong with an Adams and Blee team-up! The Marcos Martin Variant cover is also outstanding. Against a mustard colored background, the title takes up the majority of the center left in white letters. At the top right Namor is flying in, Cap is in the center right smashing back Nazis in silhouette, with Wolverine in the lower right slicing at those goose stepping morons. This would be a terrific print or poster! The Adi Granov Variant has Cap wearing his costume from the WWII portions of the Captain America films. He’s standing before a church that appears to be in a European locale. This is not exciting. A blasé frontpiece constitutes the John Cassaday and Paul Mounts Variant. A white background with a yellow explosion, complete with a cloudy expulsion, is on the bottom third of the illustration. Cap is down low on the left, his shield creating the explosion. Wolverine is high on the right, face open in a snarl and his claws held high as he leaps. This looks unfinished. The Ron Lim and Israel Silva Variant has Wolverine in the late 1940’s wearing a suit and hat outside a limo on a busy metropolitan street. His hat is on low and he raises a fist to the reader to reveal the claws he’s popped. I like the character in this setting, but there’s nothing spectacular about the visuals. Overall grade: Regular A+, Martin Variant A+, Granov Variant C, Cassaday Variant C-, and Lim Variant C

The stories: Usually I only discuss the first four pages of a twenty paged story in a comic book review. Because each of these stories is only ten pages, I’m just going to be specific on the first two pages. “The Vigil” Part 1 by Charles Soule is the first story to start off this trio of stories. Northern France late in WWII is the setting and things are not going well for Marie, who appears to be a gypsy. She’s ordered to bring forth the “new weapon” to the Nazis surrounding her or “your daughter will see hell before any of us.” With her daughter’s life at stake, naturally Marie does as commanded and casts a portal spell. Unknown to her and the Nazis, the undertaking is being witnessed by six Canadian soldiers. Among their ranks is Wolverine. The soldiers fire upon the Nazis and that’s when things go badly. Something comes out of the portal, Wolverine has to deal with it while Marie has something to do. I enjoy seeing Wolverine in WWII and the foe he fights is interesting. This installment concludes as one would expect with the hero meeting a new character who’s overly familiar. This was an average story with more than a passing familiarity to elements from Hellboy’s origin. “War’s End” by Greg Pak features Namor in a Marvel Age story, stories designed to deal with historical events that characters had “not been able to fully wrestle with, be it because they happened too quickly or even because they were too raw of a subject.” The opening is Atlantis in 1945, Namor is contacted by Brigadier General Sawyer who asks him to return to the surface: a cell of Nazi scientists have been discovered in Argentina. There’s a quick fight, but the falling action has a shocking revelation for Namor that will change the way he feels about Americans. I thought this was also just okay. The final story is “First Ride” Ann Nocenti and it features Captain America in the modern day. The super solider gets a flat and is befriended by a teen who offers to help. He learns about her and oversees something the young girl has wanted to do. I was really surprised with Cap’s response to the girl’s mother, who’s not abusive. I was really taken back by his words on the final page that came off as incredibly glib. Overall grades: “The Vigil” B-, “War’s End” C+, and “First Ride” D

The art: Wolverine’s tale is illustrated by Paulo Siqueira with inks by Oren Junior. The layout is fine, with the settings okay, but there’s something about the characters’ faces that seems off. The Nazi officer looks incredibly static on the first page, Logan’s face lengthens and shortens between panels, and the supernatural threat begins looking very strong and ends looking incredibly gaunt. Marie looks terrific throughout, as does the character in the final panel of the story. The work on both of these characters’ clothes is well done. I was left mixed by the visuals. Tomm Coker, responsible for the Namor tale, does a really good job. The first page is a full-paged splash behind the Sub-Mariner as he looks upon Atlantis. Sawyer’s introduction is cool and I like how Coker pulls into the character to make his words intensify. The third page’s full-paged splash is lessened by a sound effect that obscures action on the page; I wanted to see that! The driver that’s shown on 4 is fantastic! The reveal on Page 5 is also good. The tease on the ninth page is excellent, but is lessened by his complete disappearance on the final page. Yes, the last page is supposed to have an emotional impact on the reader, but it’s colored so darkly it’s a lost cause. Greg Land with inks by Jay Leisten create the visuals for the Cap story and they are outstanding. Cap looks great, even though he’s not really doing anything heroic. The new character is fantastic, with her close-up on Page 2 outstanding. Considering the amount of action that has to be conveyed on the first two pages, the artists do a great job. I’d love to see this pair on another tale. Overall grades: “The Vigil” C+, “War’s End” B, and “First Ride” B+

The colors: Frank D’Armata is the colorist on the first tale. I appreciate a colorist that makes a night scene bright enough to have the art seen, yet dark enough to convey the night. The highlights on the Canadians’ faces on the second page is good, the greens used for the magic are excellent, with those greens spectacular on Page 4. I didn’t like the coloring on the supernatural foe, which was too flesh-like, making the villain just seem like a skinny naked man: different colors would have made him more threatening. Michael Garland colors the Namor tale and he uses colors for blanket backgrounds, recalling the coloring from the Sub-Mariner’s original adventures. I really like the faded colors on Pages 7 and 8 which place the action clearly in the time period. The last page of this story, though, is too dark, losing the details in the art. D’Armata returns to color the final story and this resembles the bright colors of modern day books. The opening page is gorgeous for its explosive colors. I love the girl’s hair, which makes her stand out in every panel she appears. Since Cap is helping a young girl, the colors are based on reality and D’Armata excels at making this tale look real. Overall grades: “The Vigil” B, “War’s End” B-, and “First Ride” A

The letters: There’s only one letterer for this issue and that’s VC’s Joe Caramagna. He creates scene settings, narration, dialogue, an editorial note, Marie’s spell, sounds, yells, and transmissions. I like the large scene settings and that they’re uniform for the entire issue; they drew my eye and transported me smoothly to each new locale. I really like the narration from Marie which is done with lower case letters. Very cool. The editorial note is small and in italics, an instant signal to the reader that the text is not a part of the story. Marie’s spell is done in a unique font which makes it delightfully otherworldly. The sounds are big, which is how I want them in my comic books. I enjoyed Caramagna’s work in this issue. Overall grade: A

The final line: In a short story collection, I expect some installments to be better than others, but all of these were just average. The visuals were also just average. Nothing in this really stood out as outstanding. I’ll skim the next issue when it comes out to decide if I’ll purchase it. If it reads or looks like this premiere, I’m one and done with the new Marvel Comics Presents. Overall grade: B-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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