“The Marvels Project” #6 might be the best-looking comic Steve Epting has ever drawn. His work with Ed Brubaker on “Captain America” was very good, but he’s really outdone himself on “The Marvels Project,” delivering stunning visuals in each issue, the latest one being his best work to date. Together with colorist Dave Stewart, Epting manages to tread the same visual ground as Alex Ross did in “Marvels” and not look like a second-class imitator. If anything, the art here stands toe to toe with Ross’s work on the seminal mini-series.
In this issue, Epting continues to use light very well, most of the issue taking place at night with him using shadows that blend well with his softer line work to ensconce characters. The most visually intriguing being the Human Torch who is a blending of intense light and dark, which is where Stewart’s colors play such a commanding role as he manages to capture the hard-to-look at quality of the character, using bright oranges, reds, and white to give him a glow that leaps off of the page, like on the third page where the Torch breaks through the window of the lab where he was created.
Epting plays with well-known images, incorporating them into the visual flow of the issue. John Steele fighting Nazis has that typical image of a Steele holding a body over his head, clothes torn, bullets bouncing off his chest that we’ve seen so many characters in before. Or, there’s the allusion to “Marvel Comics” #1 on the second page. Where Epting and Stewart truly excel is in their depiction of the second fight between the Human Torch and Namor, the first having happened last issue. Taking place on an overcast day, the Torch stands out from the drab grays around him, as does Namor with his pale pink skin.
In that fight, Epting and Stewart do a double-page sequence where Namor floods Manhattan and it is the artistic highpoint of the issue. The scope and detail in the art from both men is staggering. Beginning with a wide, large panel showing just how large the tidal wave is and then moving to the effects on the city, it is fantastic, beautiful art that is worth spending some time examining.
Ed Brubaker’s contributions to the issue are nothing to ignore as his writing of Thomas Halloway’s narration is some of his best of the series, striking the right balance between poetic language and providing information. However, the series still lacks a clear focus or apparent end point. To date, it’s seemed like a collection of random events featuring these characters with no clear path or destination. There’s a slight hint of a possible end point in this issue, but it’s only a hint and, considering that this is the sixth issue of an eight-issue mini-series, the reader should, by now, have a strong idea of what the series is about as far as the plot goes. “The Marvels Project” still hasn’t progressed beyond the concept of tying together disparate Golden Age Marvel stories by exposing unknown connections. There’s no overarching plot that holds it together -- or, at least, none apparent.
That said, as a single unit, “The Marvels Project” #6 is a stunning array of dynamic, gorgeous visuals, and interesting narration and character work. As well, the final sequence at the end of the issue is very good and, hopefully, provides some guidance as to where the final two issues of the series will be heading.