"Building the Army"
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Leonard Kirk(p), Kris Justice(i), Michele Madsen(c)
This issue Parker advances the story and "gathers his eagles," but he also attempts to cover too much history. As a result the pacing of Agents of Atlas suffers.
Parker opens the book with a reiteration of Marvel Boy's encounter with the Fantastic Four from a Roy Thomas/George Perez story. He may be setting something to be explored in future issues, but taking into consideration this issue alone, he just brings up this obscurity, goes over it and lets it drop. Rather than joke around about Gorilla Man's use of the bathroom in Marvel Boy's ship, he might have at least had Marvel Boy confirm or deny the incident.
Next Parker, with his creative team, investigates Gorilla Man. Here, Parker, Kirk, Justice and Madsen earn my respect. They all combine forces to encapsulate Gorilla Man's origin in two just two pages. If Bendis were writing this book, the origin story would expand to eight extremely padded issues with only two good pages.
The story begins properly on page eight. Here Parker takes the novel move of incorporating SHIELD agent Derek Khanata into the action quickly and early rather than have him plod behind, in a riff on The Fugitive.
Parker reintroduces Jimmy Woo, a very cool character full of vim and vigor. Parker's explanation for Woo's rejuvenated appearance almost makes sense. Parker's possible mistake comes from the idea of the genetic code differing in different periods of our life. It doesn't. If you took the DNA from a very old man and cloned that man, the clone would still go through the stages of development and life. The explanation could simply be a misconception on the part of Derek Khanata who states:
"Marvel Boy's headpiece. It recorded his genetic structure?"
Marvel Boy could have just been agreeing that his explanation was close enough and didn't merit argument. It's not like Khanata with his explanation defies physics. What actually occurred was likely some form of massive stem cell induced repair as well as a genetic checkup that activated and suppressed Jimmy Woo's genes so that he regained his health and his youthful appearance.
The group head back to the area of Africa where Ken Hale became Gorilla Man, and there they find Venus. She's definitely not what the reader expects. She doesn't seem holy, elegant or imperial. Her personality issues from the panels as a fun loving gal with a very hedonistic outlook. I'm not yet sure if this works. Sometimes upon reflection it does. Other times, I'm reminded of Dot from the Animaniacs. Not necessarily a bad thing, but does this personality fit with the Venus from the What if? comics and how you imagine Venus would behave. Too early to say.
Parker leaves the proceedings on a cliffhanger that gives readers a taste of the Big Bad last seen in The Avengers and promises excitement. I'm fairly certain Parker and company will deliver.
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