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Age of Heroes #1 (A Marvel Slugfest)

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010
By: Travis Walecka and Shawn Hill

Various
Various
Marvel Comics
J. Jonah is planning an anti-hero screed, Brother Voodoo is planning a date, Pete Wisdom is planning a diplomatic visit to the USA, And Spidey is just planning to make it through another day in the big city.

Travis Walecka:
Shawn Hill:




Travis Walecka:

Why is it every time Marvel solicits anthologies they can’t help but look profoundly enticing? Those were my sentiments upon viewing the preview and reading interviews for Age of Heroes. I suppose it doesn’t take much to see where this review this going…

As you can tell by my bullet score, the first issue of Age of Heroes is bad. The Heroic Age is upon us, which means Marvel is going to squeeze every dollar into every status quo change they can--and I always give in. It must be a sickness. I can’t help it.

Considering I’m required to explain further, I’ll make note that this comic contains some of my favorite under-appreciated writers and characters. Paul Cornell recently received an award for Captain Britain & MI13 despite the series being shelved only a year-and-a-half into its run. For all his acclaim and efforts, Cornell is only given two pages to work with. Basically, Steve Rogers, Obama’s latest “Top Cop” (Secretary of Defense?) goes to Britain, acknowledges Pete Wisdom’s clans best efforts and wishes to recruit a member for his new Avengers initiative. Two pages.

Rick Remender, of Fear Agent and Franken-Castle fame, gets his chance to shine in a typical, however humorous, date with the Sorcerer Supreme. Not much has been said about Jericho Drumm lately since his ongoing got shifted to a mini, so it was nice to see what this regrettably unheralded character was up to. Despite the amusement, I don’t see the worth in Doctor Voodoo’s addition, considering the title has since been canceled--call it “Age of Abandon.”

Finally--and I won’t even get into the meaningless one-page Spider-Man vignette at the end--as the lead story in the issue, Kurt Busiek returns to give J. Jonah Jameson’s reaction to the fallout of Siege; in turn, Jameson’s reaction is a fallout of sorts the Heroic Age churns his stomach--when disaster is once again at the midst of America’s radar, a few strong dudes in tights, capes and masks come to save the day.

Busiek doesn’t do much with Jameson other than to indulge in his one-sided agenda. A look into the character’s depiction in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man might do other writers some wonders. At least there’s some density there. Ah, I guess it’s nice to have Busiek back, if nothing else.

I really enjoyed the art throughout the book but, once again, Marvel has simply presented us with a sampler. With all the money we pour into Marvel’s products, this, along with their other “sampler” comic this week, Enter the Heroic Age, should be paltry gifts that they give us for free or at a greatly reduced price.

Never again! (Yeah, right.)




Shawn Hill

I should have picked up on the lack of creator credits on the cover. The Marvel website made this seem like a Marvels-styled look at the new 616 status quo through the eyes of excellent everyman chronicler Kurt Busiek. Instead, it's an anthology series for the dudes who either already have a solo book, or won't be getting one.

Busiek does the first story, telling us (but with his usual complete command of style and tone) what we already know about J. Jonah Jameson. He wants to strike against the heroes while the iron is hot--but he instantly has another plan when it cools precipitously. After all, he's a pro.

It's as charming as a J. Jonah story will ever be. It reads like a movie script from 1940--giving us a humorous character moment, in a good way.

Brother Voodoo's date is silly. A lot of his stories, at least the ones I've read, are about what a player he is. He hasn't done much yet to interest me in his character, though I have no problem with the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme passing to him from Dr. Strange. The story by Rick Remender is serviceable, but the art by Chris Samnee is actually pretty good. He brings it when he needs to come up with some freaky demons--but there has to be more important things to do than mess up dinner.

The Spidey tale, by Dan Slott, is literally one page long. Nothing happens in it, but it's funny.

The only important thing that happens in the issue occurs in the two-page Captain Britain tale. Captain America . . . I mean Steve Rogers . . . I mean Super Agent Soldier . . . or whatever he is now (also not a problem, I'm happy with Bucky being the Captain for the moment) . . . tries to get Brian to join one of the new Avengers teams. Despite Wisdom's outraged objections, he does. Because he's a hero, and Steve is his friend.

Paul Cornell packs a lot of characterization into those two pages, and illustrator Leonard Kirk outdoes himself with a wide range of distinctive British characters and a mature sense of style that fits the serious tone of a story called "Diplomatic Incident."

But that's it, and I'm left to wonder, is the entire four-issue series going to be full of minor details about also-rans? I was expecting more than just background detailing from this project.



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