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Enter the Heroic Age #1

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010
By: Ray Tate

Various
Various
Marvel Comics
Enter the Heroic Age is a one-shot anthology that gives you a taste of five Marvel projects: Avengers Academy, Atlas, Black Widow, Hawkeye & Mockingbird and The Thunderbolts.

Now that I know Tigra will be one of the teachers in Christos Gage's Avengers Academy and Brian Bendis will be nowhere near her, wild horses cannot stop me from adding the title to the subscription list. The short included here, also by Christos Gage is light on the Tigra, but we do get to see Mike McKone's version of the heroine on the last page. She's lovely. Let's just hope he remembers her tail in future issues. Jeromy Cox also bestows tawny beauty to everybody's favorite femme feline.

Gage's story really is about the dissolution of HAMMER and the young shapeshifting hero Reptil. I must admit that I actually cared about the character even if I thought his powers were rather ridiculous. This well written short captures the unfairness of Civil War Marvel and the bright hope of the Heroic Age.

I'm already a fan of Agents of Atlas. So, really I have nothing new to say about this latest excursion. Parker impresses the hell out of me. He creates a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end that also spans two time periods and kicks off a new chapter in the lives of Jimmy Woo, Gorilla Man, Venus, Namora, the Human Robot and Marvel Boy. Parker, a maven of Marvel continuity, pits the team against Kree shenanigans on Hawaii. Artists Gabriel Hardman and Giancarlo Caracuzzo with Elizabeth Breitweiser gorgeously illustrate the action packed short. Everybody gets a moment. Gorilla Man tenderly picks up a wahini caught in the crossfire. Human Robot blasts the snot out of the first Kree Sentinel. Venus sings her naked song. Jimmy Woo comes out shooting. Marvel Boy zaps the Sentinel and gives a one-panel history, and Namora decks the updated version of the Kree robot.

Marjorie Lui's abominable comprehension of medicine has forced me to shy away from Black Widow. How I wish writer Kelly Sue DeConnick were orchestrating Natasha's adventures. With a superb understanding of the Widow's characterization and history, DeConnick relates a shady spy vs. spy story that's ignited by Jamie McElvie's and Matt Wilson's artwork, including an outstanding heroic moment when Natasha disrobes to reveal her Black Widow garb. Furthermore, DeConnick diverts what could have been a sad lesson in espionage duplicity into a Heroic Age moment with Natasha taking full advantage of the change in status quo and her balancing act between super-spy and super-hero.

Let me explain what's wrong with DC comics. No, besides Barbara Gordon being crippled and Zatanna and Wonder Woman now being bitches of the lowest order. Jim McCann writes Hawkeye & Mockingbird the way Green Arrow and Black Canary should have been written. McCann makes Hawkeye's and Mockingbird's partnership fun and sexy. Now part of the credit belongs to the Lopezes, David and Alvaro, for their amazing ability to display smiling superheroes engaging in astoundingly energetic acrobatics, on a motorcycle yet, but McCann leaves all the baggage foisted on the characters by other writers behind and concentrates on the now. This is Hawkeye and Mockingbird dating, beating the stuffing out of bad guys and loving it. Now, this is something I want to try.

Thunderbolts I thought was going to be the toughest sell for me. I looked at the team in the previews and I thought, "Parker's bitten off more than he can chew," but the strength of his writing is just phenomenal. The reason behind the Thunderbolts differs from the Suicide Squad, which I never liked because I agreed with Batman. Their existence makes everything he does a joke. Steve Rogers and Luke Cage, however, see this program as a step toward reforming some of the villains while breaking the heads of the ones who won't. Love that. I don't know if Kevin Walker and Frank Martin are behind the art of the new series, but for this short their presence gives a decidedly humorous spin to the melee. Everybody is big, but Luke Cage is even bigger, and the idea of big dudes beating on Luke Cage is absurd. What's even more ludicrous is seeing Cage bowl Grizzly into the big dudes that vainly tried to wail on him.

I got to hand it to Marvel. They could have just cut together some pieces of the series in question and charged full price for what amounts to a collection of pages from future product you might buy anyway, but they instead commissioned original shorts leading into each title. The only caveat I have is that the cover would have been greatly improved with Tigra replacing Pym.



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