Comic Judgment: Marvel Edition

The pull list was pretty meager this week, but discovering Steve McNiven’s art made the drive to my LCS worth it. The lovely Zatanna is unrepresented here only because I overestimated the amount of cash I had on hand Wednesday. She’s coming home with me tomorrow, but here’s a brief, double Marvel rundown.

Captain America #2: By all accounts, longtime writer Ed Brubaker has done a masterful job with his Captain America stories. For people like me who are way late to the party, this freshly-launched volume is an excellent point of entry. As a man out of time, Steve Rogers is constantly confronted by ghosts. His former love and fellow soldier Peggy Carter has just been buried. He knew Jimmy Jankovicz as a boy who could cross dimensions and even touch people’s dreams, but Jimmy is now a catatonic, elderly man in a wheelchair. And of course, the fallen Bucky is never far from Captain America’s mind. “Enough! It was 65 years ago!” says exasperated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, Peggy’s niece and Steve’s on-and-off-again girlfriend. Brubaker uses flashbacks effectively without overdoing backstory material, and he’s setting up a potentially thrilling story about old enemies and otherworldly threats. And boy, does Steve McNiven’s art have a serious wow factor. Whether it’s a quiet moment or an action sequence, his illustrations are impeccably executed. The texture of Rogers’ suit is practically tangible in one panel, and McNiven nails the details of body movement and facial expression. Justin Ponsor continues to be one of my favorite color artists, and his work makes McNiven’s images glow. Even if you don’t have an affinity for the First Avenger, this is worth checking out. I also recommend Brubaker and Marc Andreyko’s Captain America and Bucky, with rock-star artist Chris Samnee in the house. Grade: A

Ultimate Fallout #6: With a few exceptions, the Ultimate Fallout miniseries overall didn’t have the weight or emotional resonance that I anticipated. Not that it hasn’t tried. Each issue has consisted of two or three self-contained stories, and there is no shortage of writer/artist talent. Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer have provided some rich character moments, and the debut of the New Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales) was a fun, brief high point. If nothing else, I am eager to see what Bendis and gifted illustrator Sara Pichelli do with this character in future issues. Anyway, issue #6 comes full circle to Peter Parker’s loved ones, who are still in the throes of grief. Mark Bagley’s opening panel of Aunt May curled up on Peter’s bed packs a wallop, and it’s one of those exceptions I was talking about. Surrounded 24-7 by the press, May and Gwen make a spontaneous and drastic escape plan that’s pretty genius. The rest reads like filler. Kitty Pryde, Bobby Drake and Johnny Storm find new digs, and Mary Jane gets some surprising news from Nick Fury, who shows his softer side. It’s all fine, but #4 is really the only issue that feels necessary. Grade: C+

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