"The Rudiments of Wisdom Part One: The Day the Fairies Came Out"
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p/i), Paul Neary (i)
Publisher: Marvel (MAX)
Known for a bad attitude, chain-smoking, a superpower named after drugs paraphernalia, and dodgy semi-legal relationships with possibly underage superheroines, Pete Wisdom is a bit surprising choice for Marvel have put into his own series, especially when all that history remains intact. I'm glad that they did though, as this is a good fun comic.
Despite my initial worries that Marvel were going to try to rip off Hellblazer, this seems to be much more in the vein of something like the Alan Davis Excalibur era crossed with The Ultimates, complete with ultra-violence, snappy caustic dialogue and ridiculous action set-pieces. It could be said that this issue is perhaps a tad too derivative of the Authority/Ultimates type of storytelling, but the genre and setting do much to redeem the comic; the Ultimates never had a briefing on what not to do when meeting King Arthur, for example. Paul Cornell also seems to be aware of relying too much on that style, and there are hints in this issue of an examination of the very concept of Britishness, as well a brewing subplot concerning Wisdom's bosses, both of which would add some welcome depth to proceedings.
The pacing, unfortunately, is a bit uneven; this is a fast-moving, action packed comic, but characterisation is a bit thin, and subplots get pushed to the periphery, getting only scant attention. Similarly, the plot is a bit jumbled, a combination of this issue being an introduction to the concept of the series and a self-contained episode in one; twenty-two pages is perhaps not quite enough space to let the plot develop, and the result is a series of jarring jumps in location (albeit explained in context) and a rushed resolution. All that said, this is only an introductory issue, and Cornell can make use of future issues to give the characters and plots room to develop.
It's great to see Trevor Hairsine's work again, as he doesn't get the exposure his talents deserve; I reckon he's every bit as good as Bryan Hitch, although I prefer the rougher edge Hairsine gives his linework over Hitch's rather sterile style. The art team produce some (literally) fantastic imagery here, including a portrayal of Oberon that's full of dark power and menace, even if the slightly lumpy plot means he doesn't get to do much but sulk and growl at the heroes.
This is considerably better than I expected; I'd have thought that Marvel would have followed standard procedure and attached some third rate creative team to the miniseries, only to express shock and surprise when the negative reviews flood in and sales dwindle to nothing. Instead, the combination of a strong creative team and a promising central concept has resulted in a title which, while a little lacking in depth, has much to enjoy.
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